Rod Mewing

Rod Mewing – Business Is Not Personal

This week Jeffery Wang speaks with Rod Mewing. Rod looks back at his significant career and shares the lessons that were most influential with us.

About Rod Mewing

Rod Mewing has over forty years’ experience in senior executive and management roles. His most recent role prior to leaving Telstra Corporation Limited was as Principal Business Consultant within Business and Enterprise Marketing. This role supported strategic customer engagement programs with particular focus on the implications of new technology trends and developments on enhancing competitive differentiation.

He is currently providing strategic consulting services in addition to executive coaching, mentoring and peer group facilitation with The Executive Connection (TEC).

Rod has previously been Managing Director of David Jones Australia Limited, CEO of Tempo Services Limited and Group General Manager of AWA’s Services and Distribution Divisions.

His experience spans serving on numerous industry and community boards and councils including Tempo Services Ltd, Woolworths Ltd, David Jones Limited, Retail Traders Association of Australia, Retailers Council of Australia, the Centre for Workplace Learning (NSW), Australian Student Traineeship Foundation, Ravenswood School for Girls, The Sydney Committee Ltd and the NSW Economic Strategic Development Committee.

Rod is also immediate past Chairman of HammondCare and HammondCare Health and Hospitals Limited.

Episode notes

  1. Always under promise and over deliver 2:01
  2. Think like a customer 5:04
  3. Listen and understand the customer’s needs 11:04
  4. Business is not personal 15:06
  5. Consistency is key to effective team leadership 18:51
  6. Know when to transition from captain coach to side-line coach 23:09
  7. Self-awareness underpins humility 27:59
  8. Good judgement is both inherent and comes with experience 30:36
  9. Always treat the business assets as if your own 34:18
  10. Be patient, persistent and positive 36:52

Rod Mewing – 10Lessons50Years


Jeffery Wang: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to the podcast of 10 Lessons it Took Me 50 Years to Learn where we dispense wisdom, not just information and platitudes to an international audience of rising leaders. My name is Jeffrey Wang, the founder of professional development forum and your host. The podcast is sponsored by the professional development forum, which helps diverse young professionals of any age to find fulfillment in the modern workplace.

On this podcast, you’ll hear honest, practical advice that you cannot learn from a textbook today’s guest is Rod Mewing. Rod has over 40 years’ experience in senior executive and management roles. He’s currently providing strategic consulting, executive coaching, mentoring, and group facilitation with the executive connection.

Also known as TEC. Rod had a meteoric rise earlier in his career. In his thirties, he was appointed the managing director of David Jones. Australia’s leading premium retailer. He was also the CEO of tempo services. His most recent corporate role was at Telstra Australia’s largest telco as the principal business consultant.

He has served on numerous industry and community boards, including temple services. Woolworth’s David Jones. And the New South Wales economic strategic development committee and what is also the immediate past chairman of Hammond Care and Hammond Care Health and hospitals limited. Mate, that is quite a resume Rod welcome to the podcast.

Rod Mewing: [00:01:30] Thank you, Jeffrey. Good morning. Nice to be with you.

Jeffery Wang: [00:01:33] I thought I’ll start with the first business lesson that you’ve learned.

Rod Mewing: [00:01:36] Yes. Well, the first one, and it may sound a bit of a cliche, but certainly in my career it’s been an important one and that is to always under promise and over deliver. Over my 40 years in business, typically it’s been in relation to serving customers.

And I remember my first responsibility for a profit and loss business was running a concrete plant in Canberra back in the, in the late seventies. And I was at the age of 24 and I learned to listen very clearly then. To always be totally open and transparent with the customer. If the concrete is running late, then you’ve got to fess up and tell the concrete layer or placer it’s running late.

And I learned that lesson at the age of 24 by being absolutely berated by customers. We’re waiting for the concrete and weren’t given the proper information, but the same lesson has followed me through my career Jeffery. Into retailing always ensure that if you create an expectation with customers coming into your store, you’ve got to meet that expectation. Otherwise, you’ve wasted all of your marketing spend and you alienate the customer. Typically, the customer will not come back to your business.

Jeffery Wang: [00:02:54] And why is that so important?

Rod Mewing: [00:02:57] Only in, in terms of loyalty of customer. I mean the real long term, meaningful relationship with customers is built around trust.

And if you breach that trust by not delivering on the expectations of the customer, then typically you’ve lost that customer for many, many years. And it’s always much, much harder to develop new relationships as opposed to maintaining existing relationships with customers.

Jeffery Wang: [00:03:28] So one could say that there are so many people in the world. Why is it so important to have credibility to the people that you deal with on a day in day out basis?

Rod Mewing: [00:03:39] As I say, Jeffery, you know, credibility is built around you are delivering on the promise that you make will the expectation that you create with the customer. And whilst I grant you, it’s a, it’s a big customer now and there are plenty of fish in the ocean, if you are going to build a sustainable business, built around a reputation, built all around the opportunity for customers to refer your business to other customers. It is a far more cost effective, a far more sustainable model than just yelling out there, fishing, looking for new for new customers. And if you don’t have that credibility and you don’t develop that trust, then you’re not going to get referrals and you’re not going to get loyalty amongst your customer base.

Jeffery Wang: [00:04:27] Absolutely. So as the old saying goes, a happy customer tells 10 people, and the unhappy customer tells a hundred.

Rod Mewing: [00:04:33] Exactly. Totally. Right.

Jeffery Wang: [00:04:35] All right. So, number two, you’ve got think like a customer. Can you tell me what that means?

Rod Mewing: [00:04:41] Yes. Well, as you, as you mentioned, Jeffery, I, I spent quite a number of years in the retailing sector.

I was visiting a US-based retailer called Nordstrom, and this was back in the, in the early eighties. And I was sitting with one of their vice presidents at a boardroom table and he had a simple table tent on the table that said think like a customer. As a mantra in the retailing industry, and it is absolutely critical that everyone from the shop floor all the way through the boardroom have this serious commitment to customer centricity.

So, when I came back to back to Sydney I had was about 120 of these Perspex table tents made and I distributed to each of the management layers throughout the organization and asked them to put it on their desk. And if in doubt, in terms of dealing with a customer related issue, refer to the table tent that simply said, think like a customer.

And that basically was the, the, the mantra of the organization back in, late in the eighties and early nineties, was to ensure that the customer service quality of the relationship put the customer at the center of everything the organization did. So, it was a simple way of just reinforcing that message and that culture.

Throughout the entire organization, but it’s, it stayed with me through my time and telecommunications. My time was with consumer products. If you put the customer at the center of everything that the organization does, then typically you’re more likely to be making correct decisions as opposed to incorrect decisions, and it’s certainly been something that Maybe it didn’t take me 50 years to learn, but it’s certainly stood well throughout my career by thinking like a customer.

Jeffery Wang: [00:06:44] So is there an example when thinking like a customer, it led to a business success?

Rod Mewing: [00:06:52] I think it’s a cumulative thing. Jeffrey. I remember an example. When I was at David Jones, we used to award merit pins to sales staff who had excelled in the role. And there was one time I awarded a merit pin to sales assistant who actually the customer had come into the main shoe department, wanted a size 10 and a half Florsheim (shoe brand) they only had a size 10. The sales assistant said to the customer. Here’s a, a coffee voucher, go and have a coffee come back in 15 minutes and I’ll have the size 10 and a half. So, the sales assistant took the size 10 shoes under his arm. Walked out of the shop down to the, you may not recall the Hilton arcade there was a Florsheim shop there said, can I exchange the size 10 for 10 and a half? They did that. He brought the shoes back into the store and the customer was then able to buy those shoes after having a cup of coffee. Now, security wanted to dismiss that employee because he broke all the rules by taking stock out of the store, not going through the proper paperwork and staff entrance but that sails assistant only had the customer and the interest of the customer at heart, even though they’re broke all sorts of rules. So again, it was that example of just going that little bit extra and really meeting it, meeting that, that, that customer service expectation. So now I’ve used that example over the years to demonstrate that whilst big organizations need to have rules and need to have processes. From time to time you have to ensure that people feel comfortable in stepping outside those processes. If it means they’re going to really deliver exceptional service to the customer.

Jeffery Wang: [00:08:49] But the challenge there obviously is balancing policies, procedures, and the process that you set up in place with the customer centricity culture.

And I can certainly attest to that. Yeah. Through my time at Telstra, when David Thodey was a helm customer was the center of everything that we do basically being empowered to cite the customer as a reason for why we need to do what we did. That was in the, a very powerful experience when we can override bureaucracy and procedures in place.

That I definitely agree with that, but how do you find that balance where. When you think like a customer you don’t at the same time, create all sorts of dramas and, and breaking all sorts of processes in order to do so.

Rod Mewing: [00:09:32] Yeah, it is a, it is a balancing act Jeffery I grant you. Running big organizations, you do need process and structure and discipline.

My experience has been that it is still of greater value to the organization. If your employees, at every level within the organization, feel that they can step outside those, those processes, if it means really delivering exceptional service and meeting the customer’s expectations. But I, it has to be a balance. You can’t have the kind of a free-for-all, you can’t have anarchy within the organization, but I think it’s a risk that is worth taking. Conversely, you end up in a very bureaucratic style of enterprise. My experience is that you’re better to encourage initiative and encourage that customer centricity. Even if it is that the expense of a little bit of control and discipline.

Jeffery Wang: [00:10:32] Which leads me to the next point. Listen and understand the customer’s needs.

Rod Mewing: [00:10:37] Yeah, look, I, this is about, and it probably relates to more my time when I was at, with I was a CEO of Tempo Services. And then my time with, with Telstra where you’re actually selling a service and you’re selling an ongoing relationship with the customer. It’s not like you’re selling a product or, or an item when you’re in a service-related industry. It is absolutely essential to really understand the customer value proposition. And I know you and I spent some time on when we were at Telstra would be and workshopping with customers to really try to understand how in those days, technology related solutions would add value to the customer business, through customer relationship, through employee productivity, through cost efficiencies and so forth. So, it is really about listening and understanding, being curious, really digging into what is the value proposition that your service or your, your solution will add to the customer. And that means you’ve got to, in some ways, put yourself in the customer’s shoes to really understand the nature of their business. What are the key drivers? What are the key measures of success and so on? And if you can understand that and then apply your solution to drive those metrics, that’s when you’re more likely to get the customer to be receptive and to favor your solution over potentially hours that are in the market. That’s where I’m coming from. And that with that particular lesson,

Jeffery Wang: [00:12:18] So it sounds like you have to be ability to have empathy for the customer’s situation. Like you say, put yourself in the customer’s shoes, but is that something that could be learned?

Rod Mewing: [00:12:29] I think so quite often, Jeffrey, it comes back to your own understanding of business acumen, your own understanding of how, how you can change the metrics or how you can change the performance of the organization by doing things in a different way.

Jeffery Wang: [00:12:48] But that’s assuming, you know, the drivers of your customer’s business, you know, what, what if those drivers aren’t transparent to you?

Rod Mewing: [00:12:55] Yeah. Yes, it does. But that can be learned. I mean, you can, quite often you can access a balance sheet, or you can access the it’s a public company.

They record a fairly easy to access, or you can ask questions, you can actually inquire in terms of what are their key drivers, what are the key metrics of success in the organization? And as I say, then apply your own business acumens skills to try and interpret those drivers and then apply your particular solution in terms of how it may improve those metrics.

So, I think it is something that can be learned. And again, it’s a matter of being curious and asking questions, but asking the right question most importantly is to listen to the answer that you’re gaining so that you’re not just fixated on delivering your particular solution, but you’re able to really identify, well, maybe my solution is not the best in this particular instance and be prepared to be honest and being prepared to be transparent with the customer and say, In this particular instance you may be better to look at another alternative solution tomorrow.

Jeffery Wang: [00:14:02] And that takes a whole, a lot of integrity, a lot of character to be able to walk away from a business like that.

Rod Mewing: [00:14:09] Oh, most definitely. But again, it gets back to that other, that, that other lesson than that, one about under promise and over deliver, there is no point in trying to sell something that you feel may not necessarily meet the need of that customer. And that of course will then lead to a breach of trust and credibility as we discussed earlier.

Jeffery Wang: [00:14:30] Absolutely. So, the next one sounds like something that came out of the godfather business is not personal. Can you, can you explain that one please?

Rod Mewing: [00:14:40] Yeah, look, I, I you mentioned earlier, I’m doing some coaching and mentoring, and this typically comes up quite often in discussions with people that I work with.

I learned very early in my career, Jeffery, and it’s been reinforced during my career. That business is not personal. It can be an instance of rejection in terms of your sales activities and your sales efforts, not being accepted by the customer. And we said before, they’re always more fish in the ocean, but to not take that rejection personally, but to say, this is, this is business, it’s very relevant from a customer related perspective, but also from one of leadership over my career, I have at various times had to have some difficult discussions with direct reports in terms of either their performance or their lack of judgment or, or their behaviors.

And they’re always difficult discussions to have, but if you think, well, if you accept that business is not personal, then it makes that discussion far more constructive, a little easier to have. And certainly, over my career, it’s been something that has helped me certainly deal with either rejection or to deal with having those quite difficult discussions.

So, I, I say to my people I work with that leadership is not a popular content. You all are there to do a job. You’ve been entrusted to manage the assets of an organization on behalf of the owners or the shareholders. And it is your responsibility to do the best you can in terms of the return that you make on those assets. And from time to time that you’ve got to have some difficult discussions.

Jeffery Wang: [00:16:27] So that means that you probably got to put aside your own personal relationships with particular individuals in order to act in the best interest of the company. Now that could be a very difficult balancing act. How do you balance that with the need for that say loyalty to the people in your life?

Rod Mewing: [00:16:45] Yeah, that’s a very, a very good question and an astute observation Jeffery and It’s unfortunate that you do have to have a separation between friendship and business relationship. I used to talk about maintaining a gap between you and your direct reports. Which means that you still are looking to have a constructive, effective working relationship with them.

That means that you can still have empathy and show a bit of vulnerability by, by sharing personal related issues. But at the end of the day, you are the nature of your position as the leader of the organization, you may be required from time to time, to have those difficult discussions. So, you do have to have that separation of personal relationship with your direct report and your business relationship.

So, it’s a, it’s a fine line, unfortunately. That’s why quite often you would have heard the phrase it’s lonely at the top. And then it is because sometimes there were certain things that you just cannot share with your direct reports in the interest of confidentiality or the interest of just the management responsibility to the organization. But yes, it is. It is a fine line. It’s not black and white. It’s, it’s one of those shades of grey.

Jeffery Wang: [00:18:08] Well, this is why it’s the wisdom that took 50 years to learn. So that’s true. So, the next one you’ve got consistency is the key to effective team leadership.

Rod Mewing: [00:18:21] I’ve been asked over the years, you know, what’s the number one trait for good leaders or good CEOs. I always say the number one trait in my view is consistency. And I have over the years worked with or worked for leaders. And, and then you mentioned data 30 earlier, David 30 is a very consistent leader in terms of his behaviors, in terms of his values, in terms of his strategy, you knew that each day, he came into the office and he was going to be consistent in terms of his expectations compared to others. Now I won’t name the name but there was a previous CEO of Telstra who was the opposite one day come in and it was black then the next day come in and it was white. So, people working for leaders who are inconsistent, do not have clarity around the expectation of the role of the leader.

Would that have clarity around what strategy is going to be appropriate? So as a consequence, the organization starts to slow its inertia because. Executives don’t feel comfortable in making decisions because today, they might make the right decision but tomorrow they might make the same decision, but it will be wrong in the eyes of the leader.

If you’ve got consistency, then you’re able to get up great. A level of empowerment, right? The organization. You’re getting people who are prepared to make decisions, knowing that they’re consistent with also knowing that they’re in accordance with the consistency of, of, of the leader. So, in my view and over the years I mean, you can be a very hard leader.

You can be it can be extremely demanding, or you can be someone who’s got like soft skills, as long as you’re consistent. One day with the next people working with, you will know what is expected of them. And that means that they’re able to take initiative and they’re able to contribute to the organization and importantly, they’re able to feel empowered to make decisions on behalf of the organization. So, consistency on the leader is absolutely critical.

Jeffery Wang: [00:20:29] Yeah. So, it sounds to me like what you’re saying is that leaders have to be congruent in terms of their words, their actions in order for the value to flow throughout your organization. But leaders also have to be consistent over time so that you do have a congruent expectation of what the leader will do and how they will respond. And that allows the team to have a framework by which they can then act consistently with what the leaders, I suppose, value, set and demands are in order to action that. But what about, is there a room for growth? Because I mean, all of us, everyone as leaders, we tend to grow with the situation as well. Doesn’t that introduce some inconsistency, I suppose, as, as you try to become a better leader?

Rod Mewing: [00:21:19] No, I don’t believe so. Again, if every individual typically has got a slightly different leadership style so I think he can still be your own person in terms of your leadership capabilities and aspirations, but the lesson or the message I’m suggesting is that you’ve gotta be consistent in those behaviors and you’ve got to be consistent in the values that you have.

So the people working for you are able to understand your expectations and then make decisions or for them to then have behaviors that, that meet those expectations. So, yeah, no, I, I think, no, I didn’t see a thing in opposing issue.

Jeffery Wang: [00:22:08] What you’re saying is, is that the, the values don’t change, even as you evolve as a leader, the underlying things that are non compromisable should not change even as you evolve in your leadership journey.

Rod Mewing: [00:22:21] Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that’s, that’s, that’s a good, that’s a good interpretation. Yeah. Most definitely.

Jeffery Wang: [00:22:27] The next one. I love no. And the reason I love this is because it sounds, it’s a sporting analogy. Know when to transition from a captain coach to sideline coach.

Rod Mewing: [00:22:39] Yeah, this is this is a lesson that I learnt probably in my early days of, of David Jones. When I was, as you mentioned earlier, I was relatively young for the position that I held. And typically, you can lapse into thinking that you are the super executive. You are the only person who can make the right decision and whilst you’re responsible for the organization and you want to make sure that decisions are made correctly, the reality is you can’t do everything yourself.

If the business is going to continue to grow, then you have to know when to get off the field. And typically as businesses growing you’re on the field, leading by example, rallying your team demonstrating that you’re prepared to do anything that you’re asking them to do. But as the business grows, typically, there’s someone that can do your position or can play in your position better than you can.

And your skillsets are better served by getting off the field and starting to manage and coach from the sideline. So, you’re able to identify what it is your competitors are doing, how your players are performing in each of the different roles. And what’s the strategy that potentially should be adopted to improve performance against your competitors.

But the important piece, and I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I talk quite often about square pegs and round holes around pegs and square holes. And that’s where you, as the leader need to ensure that you’ve got the right person in the right position. And that’s a constant process of assessment and a constant process of adjustment.

And if you can get all the square pegs in the square hole around pegs, in the round holes, then the business is likely to really continue to power forward. But knowing when to get off the field is a, is a critical one. And a lot of business leaders, business owners struggle with letting go and actually getting off the field and employing people that can actually perform various roles in the organization, allowing them to be able to have more Headspace, to focus on strategy and focus on, on supporting the growth of the, of the business. That’s what I’m meaning, thereby transitioning from captain coach to that sideline coach.

Jeffery Wang: [00:25:09] Okay. So, it sounds like there was a point of realization earlier on in your career when you’re, when you’re promoted to the managing director role at David Jones. Is there a story about how you came to that realization that you need to be sideline coach?

Rod Mewing: [00:25:25] I remember I was the New South Wales; I was responsible for a New South Wales operations. And this was before I was appointed as, as managing director, I ran the operations in New South Wales, and then I was given the role of the national operations manager.

And I felt that I could perform both the role of New South Wales as well as the operations manager, as well as the national manager. But I remember thinking to myself, driving home one evening from the office that I actually found myself in a position where I was not giving adequate consideration and thought to problems or challenges during the day.

And I was making decisions on the run to the point where I was really, really quite concerned that they weren’t the right decisions because I hadn’t given sufficient thought. So, I realized then that I have to let go. I have to empower. I have to delegate. I have to engage. Others helped me actually find that time to have the head space, to think about bigger issues in more depth and detail.

So it was that, that was one another one. I remember when I was, I was responsible for the buying operations in the, in the business. And again, Crusty old ex executive said to me, you do not be the super buyer. You cannot hold people accountable if you’re actually telling them what they should be buying.  You’ve actually got to let people who have the right skill sets to do their job and then you can monitor and manage their performance based on outcomes. Whereas if you tell them what to do. Then they say will happen at that whole may accountable. You’ve taught me what I should be doing. Then a couple of a couple of examples. It’s just a matter of being prepared to, to delegate and to empower, to make decisions for you then to, to focus on more strategic issues in the organization.

Jeffery Wang: [00:27:14] And that certainly sounds like that’s related to the next lesson, which is self-awareness underpins humility.

Rod Mewing: [00:27:21] Yeah. This one here. And again, don’t want to be too, too many cliche Jeffery, but you know, you’ve heard people say, you know, park your ego outside the office. I’ve been fortunate over the years that I’ve had positions of responsibility at a relatively young age.

And I learned very early that I meant that back in those days of running a concrete plant at age 24 that just by nature of your title or your position, you cannot demand authority. You have to and I was very clear. I had a dozen owner drivers in concrete lorry drivers, and I had a couple of other people. I was responsible for.

At age 24, they sort of said, well, who is this young, this young fellow telling us what to do. I learned very early on that you’ve actually got to earn authority. You can’t demand authority. And that’s, that comes from having a good level of self-awareness. And over the years and probably you’ve experience it as well, some business leaders, their egos get in the way. Good leaders in my view had got a good, strong sense of humility about them.

They have this, self-awareness where they realize that they don’t have the answers to everything. They do recognize that they’ve got some areas of weakness. Conversely, most of them I’ve got some very areas of strength and capabilities. But if you have a good sense of self-awareness that it means that you’re always looking to learn, be prepared to listen to the views of others.

You’re prepared to take into consideration, or the various issues associated with decision-making. And then come to hopefully the right logical conclusion having taken into account all of those variable. So, that’s where I’m coming from there. It’s certainly in my, in my career being prepared to recognize, but I don’t know everything and being prepared to continue to learn and being prepared to if a decision is made, that is the wrong decision. So then recognize as the wrong decision and be prepared to change course. Sometimes you’ll see the decisions are made and egos get in the way, and they will not change that decision, even though it’s clear that it’s the wrong decision. That’s that level of self-awareness.

Jeffery Wang: [00:29:36] That’s true and humility is one of the most undervalued virtues. In my opinion, especially I find in the in the Western sphere, certain certainly something that I think we can do with a lot more of in order for us to make better decisions, which leads me to the next point that you’re saying that good judgment is both inherent and comes with experience. Now I really, really liked this one. Can you tell me a bit more?

Rod Mewing: [00:30:01] It’s something that it can’t actually in my view, read a textbook to learn good judgement. And I’ve been asked quite a few times over my career. What is judgment or how do you develop judgment? I find that. It really relates back to, and both in a personal sense, but also in a corporate sense, it’s a combination of standards that you set for yourself and for the organization.

And also, combination of the values that you set both personally and for the organization. And it’s, it’s something that comes through out your entire lifetime. And I don’t think you ever stop developing better judgment. Because as you progress through your career and obviously through your own life experiences, be it with children or grandchildren or parents or whatever. Then you experienced instances of good judgment and poor judgement. Observation of poor judgment is just as important and useful as observation of good judgment.

So that’s the experience piece that comes through, but I also believe. That there is an inherent nature in judgment, but that comes back to your own personal values and standards. And as you mentioned earlier, including humility, and being prepared to have that level of self-awareness, it’s not black and white and you can’t get it out of a textbook.

And sometimes I have difficulty in articulating it, but. Developing good judgment is a lifetime experience when you see, I mean, I mean, you can look at some politicians and you look at some business leaders and even this recent thing with ASIC (Australian Securities and Investment Commission) and so forth. It can be part of, does it pass the pub test? I mean, that’s, that’s that, that can be a judgment related thing as well.

Good leaders typically demonstrate good judgment by applying their own personal standards, the expectations of the organizational standards, but then the values, both your personal values and the values of the organization and shared values creates the culture.

Jeffery Wang: [00:32:10] So this sounds like an age-old argument, you know, are good leaders born or are they made, you know, was a nature versus nurture. So, I’m going to throw a curve ball at you. So, if you were not born with the right values, can you learn to have the right values with experience?

Rod Mewing: [00:32:26] I think it is a harder challenge, but I think if you have a good level of self-awareness, then you can Jeffery.

Jeffery Wang: [00:32:34] People’s characters can fundamentally change?

Rod Mewing: [00:32:37] Like can, but my experience has been that you can change behaviors through different incentives or for different encouragement and support. And so, but changing character is harder, much harder. The probability of changing character is in some cases, relatively light. And certainly, in my experience, and I’m seeing increasingly with organizations in 2020 they’re employing based on an individual’s values and the individual’s empathy.

With the understanding that they’re going to teach them new skills and thinking capabilities but employs someone into an organization that doesn’t share the values and doesn’t have the empathy with the organization is very high risk and quite often doesn’t. Yeah. So, I’m not saying you can’t, but I’m saying it is, much harder.

Jeffery Wang: [00:33:27] That’s interesting. Then I tend to agree based on my lived experience as well. The next one, always treat the business assets as of your own. So now this is interesting because I would have thought that your own assets would have a very different set of parameters and risk profiles. Why would you encourage businesses to treat business decisions as if there were personal decisions?

Rod Mewing: [00:33:51] Well, again, it comes back. I mentioned a little earlier, that is the leader of an organization you’re entrusted to manage the assets of the organization in the best interest of the shareholders. To do that my experience has been, and what I’ve learned is if I make decisions based on the allocation of those assets, as if they were my own assets, Then I’m more likely to be comfortable in being accountable for how I allocate those assets.

I think in terms of risk profile, quite often, that is determined by boards. And obviously it is a significant investment than business cases have to be prepared and return on equity or return on investment or whatever. One of the reasons I put this commentary down is in respect to getting a culture of accountability within an organization.

And when I was in retail, we had department managers. It may be a manager responsible for lady’s shoes and the best department managers treated each of those departments as if it was their own business, they felt that the customers were their customers. They felt the stock was their stock. The staff was their staff.

And as a consequence, you get this culture of accountability right down into the organization. As someone responsible over the years for public company, businesses, as well as private. I’ve found that if you going to get good outcomes, you’ve got to get that ownership of outcomes, and that comes with, with the accountability.

I used to say to executives at the time, if you are, if you need to make a call-in term of the allocation of an asset or the expenditure of company’s money. Ask yourself, if this was your company or this was your business, would you spend the money that way? It’s really the sense of accountability.

And I do say particularly larger organizations. Then we spoke a little earlier about, you know, you’ve got to have disciplines and structure and processes. So, but I do see some instances of abrogation. Of accountability. If you don’t have ownership within organizations, are those making the decisions? Then in my view, you’re not going to get the best outcome.

Jeffery Wang: [00:36:06] Which leads us to the last lesson. Now, again, this sounds a little bit cliched to be patient persistent and positive. Can you tell us a bit more about that mindset?

Rod Mewing: [00:36:16] Jeffery, I mean, it might sound a bit cliche, but this is both relating to personal life as well as business life. And then one thing I like is if you’re a later or in your own family context, optimism is very powerful.

The focus on the glass half full and the glass not being half empty. Certainly, in a leadership environment, it gives comfort. It gives a level of teamwork and support. If you are in a position where you’re appeared to be patient, and again, it can be in a customer related situation or it can be in terms of executing on strategy.

It is a matter of being persistent. It’s a matter of being patient and particularly one of the positive so that people don’t feel despondent or they don’t feel rejection, or they don’t feel that they’re not part of a successful organization. Whereas if you’re able to calmly and persistently pursue the strategy of the business with this sense of optimism, not unrealism, but optimism, then you’re more likely to create can-do culture and this culture that we’re part of a successful organization that is actually moving the board. And everyone in business typically wants to be part of the successful organization, but they look to the leader for that sort of example, that the behaviors that, that are positive and behaviors that are reassuring in terms of the organization, making that making progress.

Jeffery Wang: [00:37:48] Because it speaks to something much deeper and in all of us, isn’t it is that need, I think, I think what it points to is a culture of hope is a culture of optimism and hope. And we are all drawn to that. We want to be part of that. I think that makes absolute sense because as human beings, you know, this is the way we are programmed.

Rod Mewing: [00:38:06] Yeah. Most definitely.

Jeffery Wang: [00:38:08] Thank you, rod. This has been an absolute pleasure speaking with you, and I certainly have enjoyed your lessons. As you know, I’ve always thought of you as a mentor and I have immense respect for you. So, thank you very much for continuing to guide me and my leadership journey. So, appreciate that. And always being so generous with your time.

Rod Mewing: [00:38:27] Oh, it’s my pleasure. Yeah, always good to spend some time with you. Thanks so much for inviting me.

Jeffery Wang: [00:38:32] Thank you. And you’ve been listening to the international podcast of 10 lessons. It took me 50 years to learn sponsored by the professional development forum. PDF provides webinars, social media discussions, odd task parties.

You can find us on, and here’s the best part. It’s all free. Thank you.


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