Ron Higgs – Don’t call yourself an expert unless your peers describe you that way

Ron Higgs
Ron Higgs tells us that "You can learn from anyone", that you should "Solve more problems than you create" and why we should "Embrace gratitude". Hosted by Diana White

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About Ron Higgs

Ron Higgs is a veteran, executive business consultant, engineer, and published author. His career started in the US Navy and included combat flight operations, developmental flight testing, program management, production & manufacturing management, and systems engineering. He has worked in several industries and held leadership positions in startups, small companies, and large corporations. Ron is the founder and principal of Wolf Management Solutions, where he is a business consultant, coach, and Fractional COO who helps companies scale through leadership, organizational development, and process improvement. Ron is passionate about helping BIPOC entrepreneurs become great leaders and build successful businesses.

His education includes a BS in Mathematics from the US Naval Academy, an MS in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a certificate in Engineering Flight Test from the US Naval Test Pilot School.

Episode Notes

Lesson 1: Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about 02:20
Lesson 2: You can learn from anyone, so always be open. 03:57
Lesson 3: I’ve never had an idea that someone else didn’t make better. 06:25
Lesson 4: Multitasking is BS, focusing is a superpower. 09:13
Lesson 5: Everything is related to leadership and your ability to build relationships is the key 12:53
Lesson 6: Solve more problems than you create 16:41
Lesson 7: You will make mistakes and reasonable people tolerate mistakes. It’s how you make it right that matters. 18:45
Lesson 8: Embrace gratitude – find something to be grateful for in every situation 23:57
Lesson 9: The most valuable thing that you have is your time. “Someday” isn’t a goal or a strategy and you are running out of “someday’s”. 26:02
Lesson 10: Don’t call yourself an expert or a trusted advisor, you’ll know when you get there because your peers will describe you that way 28:33

Ron Higgs – Don’t call yourself an expert unless your peers will describe you that way

[00:00:08] Diana White: Hello and welcome to 10 Lessons Learned where we talk to leaders and luminaries from all over the world to dispense wisdom for career, business, and life in order to make the world wiser lesson by lesson.

[00:00:22] My name is Diana White, and I’m your host for this episode. Our guest today is Ron Higgs. Ron Higgs is a veteran executive business consultant, engineer, and published author. His career started in the US Navy and included combat flight operations, developmental flight testing, program management, production, and manufacturing manage.

[00:00:46] And systems engineering. He has worked in several industries and held leadership positions in start-ups, small companies and large corporations. Ron is the founder and principle of Wolf Management Solutions, where he is a business consultant coach, and fractional COO who helps companies scale through leadership, organizational development, and process improvement.

[00:01:10] Ron is passionate about helping BIPOC entrepreneurs become great leaders and build successful business. His education includes a BS in mathematics from the US Naval Academy and MS in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School and a certificate in engineering flight test from the US Naval Test Pilot School.

[00:01:34] Welcome, Ron.

[00:01:35] Ron Higgs: Thank you, Diana. first thing I’m going to have to do is look up the word luminary. never been described as one of them.

[00:01:42] Diana White: it just means that you have a lot to enlighten us about and we’ll get to it with your lessons, so, for sure. First question, right out of the gate, what would you tell your 30-year-old self.

[00:01:55] Ron Higgs: And, you know, there’s a long list, uh, but at the top of the list would be don’t wait for the right time to do something. Right. There’s a lot of times where, you think about it’s like, I’m just waiting for the right time. I’m just waiting for the right time, man. Time will just get away from you and it happened to me, right?

[00:02:13] As far as starting a business. So, if I could tell my 30-year-old self, start that business sooner.

[00:02:18] Diana White: That’s some good advice.

[00:02:20] Lesson 1:   Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about

[00:02:20] Diana White: We’re going to jump right into lesson number one. Lesson number one, everyone you meet is fighting a battle. You know nothing about. How did you know this to be true?

[00:02:31] Ron Higgs: It took a while you know, as we know, and really because I’m fighting one to some degree, you are.

[00:02:40] Everyone, and this really came to head in a leadership position that I had where I ended up being the boss of someone with whom I had worked previously. And we didn’t get along and I actually, I, I always say didn’t like this person very much, but once this person started, Working for me. I got to know her and her story and actually came to really, really like her because I listened to her story and went, Wow, she’s really been through a lot.

[00:03:10] So now I understand a lot more about her perspectives on some of the things that we disagreed in. So again, I just think that everyone out there, you know it as well as I do. Just dealing with something that you know nothing about. So, be kind. Try to put yourself in their shoes, you know, maybe that person’s having a bad day.

[00:03:29] Maybe they’ll dealing with something else. But that seems to work well for me once I really learned it.

[00:03:36] Diana White: I love that, that, and that’s a lesson that I had to learn as well. you never know. and most often, uh, I think you’d agree, Ron. We take things personally; we think everything is about us.

[00:03:46] Oh, this person usually says, Hey, how you doing? And today they just gave me a formal hello. Why are they mad at me when it has nothing to do with you? You know? I totally agree.

[00:03:57] Lesson 2:   You can learn from anyone, so always be open.

[00:03:57] Diana White: Lesson number two, you can learn from anyone. So always be open. Now, this is what I agree with wholeheartedly. So, talk about this.

[00:04:06] Ron Higgs: Well, I truly believe that. And one of the things that hit me as when I was a junior officer in the Navy and I was actually going through test pilot school at the time, which is something that was very difficult achievement for me to even get there. And so, I was really, you know, at the time, sort of on the top of my game.

[00:04:25] I was in downtown Washington; DC and I saw a homeless guy with a saxophone. And he was out on the street playing the most wonderful music I’d heard from a saxophone, and I went, You know, maybe I should buy a saxophone. Cause it’s one of those things, it’s like, ah, I think I’d like to learn that and I could have this guy teach me because, so again, I, I wasn’t able to do that, but I would have had it been practical and it just, I just sat back and went, you know, you can learn something from anyone.

[00:05:01] Right? That guy knew how to do something that I didn’t do and, and he’s homeless, And I wasn’t, fast forward, quite a few years. And now I’m in a part of a networking group with a bunch of different people, and we had a young college graduate come in, say, Hey, this is my first job out of college, and I’m just here to learn.

[00:05:19] I, I don’t think I have anything to contribute. I’m just here to learn from everybody. And I said, Well, wait a second. I was like, we can actually learn quite a bit from you, right? Because none of us have the perspective of someone just entering the workforce and we can use that, So that, that is of value to us. So don’t think that you can’t, or we can’t learn from you. Right.

[00:05:41] Diana White: That’s a valuable lesson.

[00:05:43] Ron Higgs: Everyone out there. And, and I’ll just tell you one last story about that. When I was coo of a company, the company was small enough to where I was able to have one-on-one meetings with everyone.

[00:05:52] And I told them that. I said, Listen, I’m, I’m the COO of this company and you just started six months ago, but I can learn from you. We’re here to learn from each other. So, keep that in mind, You’re just not here to learn from me. I learned as much from you as well.

[00:06:04] Diana White: I would’ve loved to have had you as my boss,

[00:06:09] Ron Higgs: That’s no. I hope there’s a lot of few other people who, with whom I’ve worked that could say the same thing.

[00:06:15] Diana White: Well, hopefully some of them will listen or view this episode and say, Yep, I totally agree. I remember a great experience working with Ron,

[00:06:25] Lesson 3:   I’ve never had an idea that someone else didn’t make better.

[00:06:25] Diana White: Number three. I’ve never had an idea that someone else didn’t make better.

[00:06:31] When I read this, Ron, I loved it because I never really put that into words before, but I believe that as well. I believe I put ideas out there and hopefully somebody else can contribute. So, tell me what in your experience led you to that.

[00:06:49] Ron Higgs: You know, I think it’s all about perspective, right? Cuz we all have these great ideas and then when you start noodling ideas with somebody, they’ll say something.

[00:06:57] You go, Oh yeah, I didn’t think about it that way. And then I’ll, give it a practical example is I was running a systems engineering organization and I hired a young lady. Who had just been with the team. I mean, she had just started with the team. So, say she was with us for a month, and I said, Hey, I have this idea and I want to do a dashboard.

[00:07:16] If you know what a dashboard is and sort of show the status of you know, just one page thing based in Excel that you can show. The status. So, I took a shot at it, and I drew it out and I said, This is what I want it to look like, and these are the ideas that I wanted to convey. So, I want everybody to be able to look at it and kind of know where we are and what’s going on.

[00:07:37] Right. A visual representation of what’s happening. So, she took it. I mean, she had only worked with us for a month because she took it and turned it into something that I couldn’t, in my wildest dreams have come up with. Right. And so, I was like, Wow, this is outstanding. So, I gave it to my boss and my boss is like, Wow, this is great.

[00:07:56] So let’s fast forward a couple months later, I was looking at something that actually got briefed to the Boeing CEO and my boss’s, boss’s boss, who all the way up the chain had taken that chart in, briefed it to the Boeing CEO. the idea the stimulus was mine, I was the catalyst.

[00:08:14] Right. But she took it much further than I ever, than I ever could have. And, and I think with lots of ideas that happens that way.

[00:08:22] Diana White: And don’t you find a sense of pride in that? For, for me, whenever I had an idea and I shared it with my team and somebody in my team stepped up and said, I, I’ve got something that’ll make this just crème de la crème.

[00:08:38] To me, it was a sense of pride. To be able to tell them, You’re awesome, You’re amazing. Look what you did. And to see it reflected in their eyes to see the pride I have in them reflected in their eyes. That was awesome for me.

[00:08:53] Ron Higgs: Absolutely. I share that sentiment and just to let people know, uh, you know, I get a sense of pride whenever, I’ve been a catalyst or provided someone with some kind of guidance that they have then gone on to take much further than I ever could have.

[00:09:11] That is something to be proud

[00:09:13] Lesson 4:   Multitasking is BS, focusing is a superpower

[00:09:13] Diana White: Lesson number four and you were kind when you wrote this, but I don’t have to be, we can curse on this podcast. So multitasking is bullshit. Focusing is a superpower. Ooh. Talk to me about this.

[00:09:30] Ron Higgs: Well, you know, we are overstimulated, right? Our worlds are, everyone is multitasking with their phones, with everything, right?

[00:09:39] With pads of every different size, computers, multiple computer screens, everything. You see it when people are sitting in front of you. at dinner and everything else, and, and I’m guilty of it, but what I found is that if you put that down and focus, right, is where you get a lot of results. So, I think now in today’s world of all of these distractions being able to focus, you’ll stand out.

[00:10:05] If you can focus, I’ll give you example, my phone right now is on the other side of the room face down, so I can’t hear it. Or in the, the ringer’s off. So, I can’t hear it and I can’t see it. I’m focused here, right. And a lot of other people do. I have the notifications turned off of my computer and I am solely focused.

[00:10:26] On this discussion, how many people can do that when you’re sitting in Zoom calls and listen, I’m guilty. Like if I’m a participant in the Zoom call, am I just listening? It’s like, Hey, I can knock out a couple of emails, I can follow along here. I can read this. I mean, how many other screens do you have up?

[00:10:41] How many other windows do you have up on your computer while you’re doing it? Uh, but I think you’re losing out when you do that, right? Yeah. There’ll be a high rate of return on just staying in the moment, and especially when other human beings are involved.

[00:10:53] So for me, I learned this before we had cell phones, When I had a meeting with my office with someone, I would come out from behind my desk, right, leave my phone or whatever, and. Talk to that person. And if the phone rang, I would ignore it because I, I’m there that I’m, I’m not going to take my attention away from that person, you know, for some unknown person on the other call. Now sometimes, you know, in social situation when mom calls or my wife calls, then you have to prioritize. Yes. I you said, And she rarely calls me. So, it’s like, uh, I better answer.

[00:11:34] Diana White: I, I’m, I’m so glad you said that. Saving marriages one lesson at a time. I’m so glad you said. But no, it, it, it’s very true.

[00:11:43] And, really quickly, I learned that lesson, I used to work for a company that used a platform, when we would have our virtual meetings and the facilitator could actually see if you’ve left that particular screen to do some other work, right? They can tell if you have been distracted and so.

[00:12:02] Diana, who is always savvy and trying to figure out how to do as many things as she can. At one time I said, Oh, I’m just going to get another monitor, and I’ll always have the screen up on one monitor and I can work on the other one. And it worked. Until I realized how much information I was missing out on because I could not pay attention to both things.

[00:12:25] And so I too now have adopted focus. Very important. And I, and I’m so glad you had that lesson. And I think many of our guests in some way, shape or form, have come to that lesson.

[00:12:38] Ron Higgs: I hope so. And even the technology is catching up. I mean, I, I just got my new. iPhone update, you know, and now you can.

[00:12:47] set focus time, set your phones for focus, and you can customize it to what you need. I really like that.

[00:12:53] Diana White: Yeah.

[00:12:53] Lesson 5:   Everything is related to leadership and your ability to build relationships is the key

[00:12:53] Diana White: Yeah. Number five, everything is related to leadership and your ability to build relationships is key. Talk to me about that one.

[00:13:02] Ron Higgs: Well, I am both a student, uh, and an instructor of leadership.

[00:13:06] You know, having attended the US Naval Academy, uh, since I was 17 years old, you know, that baked it to my DNA. And, you know, when you think about leadership, right? Leadership influences culture. Culture influences performance, right? Happy and engaged people, They willingly look out for your business, so they improve business processes on their own. They improve products and services on their own. All that leads to a better bottom line, right? So happy people. I think it was Richard Branson that said, No, you take care of customers, don’t come first. Right? Your, your team comes first. The people in your business come first, and if you take care of them, they will take care of your customers.

[00:13:49] You know, different schools of thought on all of that. But there’s the importance of leadership. And again, leadership isn’t a one size fits all solution. Every person has different motivations.

[00:14:01] And again, back to lesson one, right? Everyone has different battles that they’re fighting, so you do not know what kind of battles those people are fighting. And you don’t know what motivates those people until you actually build a relationship with them. You can’t go into someplace and just, Okay, I’m going to lead. Right? You have to get to know the people that you’re leading, and the only way you can do that is through building relationships now, and let’s talk about, the journey of an entrepreneur and a journey of a founder.

[00:14:31] If you’re a founder and you’re out raising money, then I think investors look for leaders. And then also they’re looking to build relationships. So that whole raising money parts about building relationships and not necessarily about money. So, an ability to build and cultivate relationships I think is key to a lot of things.

[00:14:53] And leadership is at the top of the list.

[00:14:57] Diana White: So true. What, what is that expression? People don’t care what you know until they know that you care. Exactly

[00:15:05] Ron Higgs: right. May Angelou say that or someone.

[00:15:07] Diana White: Yeah. You know what? I don’t, I don’t remember, but I often, you know, I’ll, equate something to Snoop Dog.

[00:15:12] Snoop Dog said I, I don’t know. I’ll look it up. But, but it’s so true. and also going back to your example of somebody standing in front of someone for, funding for their organization. Well, people don’t care until they can see how passionate you are, and you can prove that you’re the person to take it to the next level, right?

[00:15:35] And so that expression permeates all relationships. I believe no matter what situation you’re in, you really have to make that human connection.

[00:15:45] Ron Higgs: Well, they buy investors and others buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. And that’s the why. Building those relationships are key.

[00:15:56] Diana White: That’s very true.

[00:15:57] Affiliate Break

[00:15:57] Diana White: Well, we’re going to take a break right now so I can thank our affiliate partner Audible. Audible is an amazing way to consume 10 lessons learned books and other podcasts, allowing you to build a library of knowledge all in one place.

[00:16:14] You can start your 30-day free trial by going to audibletrial.com/10lessonslearned with Audible. You can find your favorite lesson while at home or on the go. Once again, that’s audibletrial.com/10lessonslearned all lowercase for a free 30-day trial. The link will be in the show notes.

[00:16:41] Lesson 6:   Solve more problems than you create

[00:16:41] Diana White: Let’s welcome back Ron Higgs and continue with lesson number six.

[00:16:46] Lesson number six. Solve more problems than you create. Ron, can we make that a bumper sticker?

[00:16:56] Ron Higgs: Sure. Sounds good.

[00:16:59] Diana White: Tell me about this lesson.

[00:17:01] Ron Higgs: You know, this one came because somebody asked me. Not too long ago, maybe a couple years ago, He goes, When you leave the room, what do you want people to remember about you?

[00:17:11] Like when you in, in your workplace or when you leave someplace, not necessarily the room, but when you leave someplace, to move on to someplace else. You know, what do you want those people to remember about you? And you know, I just thought off the top of my head, it’s like, you know, that guy gets it right.

[00:17:28] And that guy solved more problems than he created. Cause sometimes solutions, You know, you can have a relatively easy solution to something, but unless you think it through, it may end up creating more problems than it solves. So, if you say, Oh, if you’re short on people, it’s like, Hey, we need to hire somebody else.

[00:17:47] Well, that’s really easier said than done. Right? Do we have the budget to hire somebody else? Do we have enough work for that person? Do we have, how long is that going to take? I mean, there, there’re just a lot of things. And so again, I think if you. In general, just solve more problems than you create, I think you’ll leave with wherever you are with a good legacy.

[00:18:06] Diana White: That’s, that is brilliant. That is absolutely brilliant. And, for me in my career, it wasn’t solve more problems than you create, It was work smarter, not harder. And I think the two kind of go hand in hand, right? Because if you’re trying to work smarter, you are alleviating those things that might end up causing more problems.

[00:18:27] So I appreciate that and, and I am going to steal it. Thank you very much for that.

[00:18:33] Ron Higgs: Oh no, they’re in print, so I guess it’s wide open. Just, uh, make you go appropriate Attritions.

[00:18:39] Diana White: It’s, this is open-source listeners and viewers. These lessons are open-source content for you. Feel free.

[00:18:45] Lesson 7:   You will make mistakes and reasonable people tolerate mistakes. It’s how you make it right that matters.

[00:18:45] Diana White: Lesson number seven, you will make mistakes and reasonable people tolerate mistakes.

[00:18:51] It’s how you make it right that matters Now. This almost made me cry, Ron, and I’ll tell you it, I read this lesson after I had, made a big faux pas, made a big mistake. And I am my worst critic. Aren’t we all? Okay? And I, I was beating myself up. I think I was in what, how many rounds in boxing? I think I was in my, round five of beating myself up.

[00:19:16] And I read that lesson and I said. Yeah. Yeah. It’s okay. I’m human, but I want to know how you came to know this to be true.

[00:19:27] Ron Higgs: You know, I, I, I have to tell you, I think every day, maybe not every day. And I don’t want to oversimplify this, but even as a patron in a restaurant, right, we’ve all been patrons before, right?

[00:19:39] And we’ve always, we’ve all been victims of sort of bad service, right? And if, you know, you go to a restaurant and you have a bad time where things are slow. If the manager walks up and says, Hey folks, you know what? We’re a little shorthand in tonight. Uh, things may take, take a little longer, but how about I comp you a dessert or an appetizer?

[00:20:00] Does that sound good? Yeah. Again, He made it right. And sometimes it’s just information that you need. You ever been on a plane that’s just pulled out of the gate and just sat there and sat there and you’re just, because you have no control over anything, when you’re a passenger in a plane. And so, you’re just sitting there going, What is going on?

[00:20:22] You know? And the pilot says, Hey folks, sorry, bit of a delay. You know, there’s 20 airplanes, uh, ahead of us for take-off. Caused by some bad weather. We take airplanes off about once a minute here, so we should be airborne in about 20 minutes. Do you know what I mean? It’s just sometimes it just takes a little bit of information to make things right.

[00:20:43] And then for you, we’ve all made mistakes, right? So, you know, you walk in immediately fess up to it, Hey, I made a mistake. This is what happened. This is what I’m doing to correct it now, right now. And then these are the actions that I will take to make sure that it doesn’t.

[00:21:00] Diana White: Absolutely.

[00:21:01] Ron Higgs: That’s making it right.

[00:21:02] Diana White: Yeah.

[00:21:03] Ron Higgs: So again, you can just see how being a patron in a restaurant or being somewhere where you think, where you just don’t know what’s going on or you, somebody’s made a mistake and now you are a little bit annoyed and all you have to do, you know, people take the right actions to make it right.

[00:21:20] Now, sometimes people don’t always take the right actions to make it right, and then what do you do? It’s like, okay, I’m never going back to that restaurant again. So again, fairly simple. Just everybody’s going to make mistakes because we’re human. Just what are you going to do to make it right?

[00:21:32] And how are you going to learn from it? And hopefully not doing it.

[00:21:36] Diana White: And what I heard in between the lines on that Ron, is something pretty powerful, which is, nine times out of 10. The way you can make it right is just by giving clarification. Just by giving knowledge and clarification of what the person might not know about the situation, deescalates the situation.

[00:21:58] And you know, a lot of people come from a place of, I’ve made a mistake, somebody’s going to want a pound of flesh and so let me just stay quiet and not say anything. And that’s one of the reasons why I love what you put in the entire lesson, which is reasonable people tolerate mistakes, right?

[00:22:19] And so, viewers and listeners, if you are a leader, if you are, a supervisor, you have to figure out what your leadership style is going to be and if you are going to be the person that understands that everybody is human and people can make mistakes within reason, obviously. Or you’re going to be the kind of person that you know strives for perfection at the loss of true authenticity in your team.

[00:22:46] Ron Higgs: You know, in terms of organizational culture, one of the things that I look for, it’s, that’s really important to me, is a culture that where people don’t have a fear of making mistakes, because there are a lot, just, I think you insinuated this, right? There are a lot of places where they’re just going to take a pound to flesh.

[00:23:06] They are just waiting for you to make a mistake. So that, Not going to get that promotion. Not going to go on that trip, not going to do something. Just something to knock you down in some way. And the organizations with good cultures don’t have people living in fear of mistakes. Hey, make a mistake, make it early.

[00:23:27] Right. Learn from it. Don’t do it again. Now, repeating the same mistake is a different deal. But, you know, just if you have a, a culture where people are not in fear of making mistakes, I, I think that that’s part of a good culture.

[00:23:42] Diana White: Wow. I feel so bad. I’m going to steal that one too. I’m so sorry,

[00:23:47] But we said it’s open source, right? So, we’re good. All right.

[00:23:51] Ron Higgs: We’ll talk about, we’ll talk later.

[00:23:54] Diana White: We’ll talk about your commission a little later.

[00:23:57] Lesson 8:   Embrace gratitude – find something to be grateful for in every situation

[00:23:57] Diana White: All right, number eight, embrace gratitude. Find something to be grateful for in every situation. Now, this is something that I was raised upon, but a lot of people, Maybe even if they knew it in the beginning, they lose this somewhere in their adulthood.

[00:24:15] So talk about that, Ron. Bring us back to that. Embracing gratitude.

[00:24:20] Ron Higgs: Well, I, I will tell you this, I actually learned this from a former boss. And one of the things in mil, in aviation in general, in military aviation especially, you know, we’re taught from the beginning in flight school, what if X goes wrong? Most of the trading has to do with what if, What if this happens?

[00:24:40] What if you lose an engine? What if you lose electricity? What if the aircraft gets struck by lightning? What if there’s fire? Right? Where am I going to land? What am I going to do, Right? So, there’s a lot of that. And so, some of that, at least for me, had me always looking at those sort of scenarios and I, I didn’t stop.

[00:24:55] But to balance that, right? I look, it’s like, okay, so what can we be grateful for in these situations right? You get a flat tire on the highway in the middle of the day. Okay, Okay. Well, it’s not dark and it’s not raining, and we’re not in the middle of someplace else. And one of my favorite things to do, you know, in corporate America, when people rush into my office say, Hey, we have an emergency.

[00:25:16] It’s like, Okay, is anyone dead? Is anyone injured? And we’re doing good, right? Is the building actually on fire? No. Then there’s, there’s things that we could actually be grateful for, right? In all of that. So, I think if you try to find something to be grateful for in every situation, then I, I think that may lead in the future to coming up with solutions that maybe you didn’t think about before because you are thinking of, Okay, so what can I be grateful for here?

[00:25:48] Grateful for the opportunity to work with such great people, all sorts of things. That’s where that came from.

[00:25:56] Diana White: I think that is one of the most powerful lessons to date.

[00:26:00] That is amazing. That is amazing.

[00:26:02] Lesson 9:   The most valuable thing that you have is your time. “Someday” isn’t a goal or a strategy and you are running out of “someday’s”.

[00:26:02] Diana White: Number nine. The most valuable thing that you have is your time. Someday isn’t a goal or a strategy, and you are running out of some days, and this goes back to what you would’ve told your 30-year-old self, right? So, let’s talk about this.

[00:26:17] Ron Higgs: Well, you know, this really hit home because this is shows called, you know, lessons and it took me 50 years to learn, right?

[00:26:25] And I think once you reach a certain age, you realize that there are more days behind than there are ahead. And so, you spent a lot of your time saying, Someday I’ll do this. Someday I’ll have that. Well, guess what? Some days are running out. Some days it’s real. Now it’s finite because there are actually more days behind than there are ahead.

[00:26:47] And I think some people realize that too through tragic circumstances. Yeah. You know, I had, uh, my best friend when I was 30 years old, dropped dead. Right. So, I realized that like, wow, he was 31 years old and, and you know, he just dropped dead of an undiagnosed heart condition, so nothing’s ever promised, right? So, people learn those lessons that way.

[00:27:07] But again, I think your time, I think the most valuable things that you have time, I think is at the top right, because there’s no more of it, right? And then there’s your energy, you know, and where your focus is, right? And so, what you, because some, there are some things that’ll take the way, your energy that don’t deserve it, but we’re talking about time.

[00:27:25] Right. And I, and again, I truly believe that time is the most valuable thing that you have. And so, you should, you should use it very wisely. And as I would’ve told my 30-year-old self, don’t keep waiting for the right time. Don’t use the phrase someday I stopped using that term because once I, once this lesson came to me.

[00:27:48] Diana White: I wholeheartedly agree. And I told my daughter, you don’t want to have these kinds of conversations with your children. Really, Nobody does. But you, you have to plan if you’re, if you’re doing things right, you have to plan, right? And, I had a conversation with my daughter, and she said, Mom, why are you talking about these things?

[00:28:04] Like, what, what are you talking about? And I said, Listen, kiddo, I’m 52. The odds that I will live to be 104. Not that great. And so more than half of my life is behind me, you know? And I have to be honest with that. And I have to say, what now? What? Now? And that’s when the bucket list came out. And those bucket lists can be very fun.

[00:28:29] Ron Higgs: I bet. 

[00:28:32] Diana White: I love it. So, I love it.

[00:28:33] Lesson 10: Don’t call yourself an expert or a trusted advisor, you’ll know when you get there because your peers will describe you that way

[00:28:33] Diana White: So, lesson number 10. Oh man, I might have to say this five times. Lesson number 10. Don’t call yourself an expert or a trusted advisor. You’ll know when you get there because your peers will describe you that way. I’m going to repeat that. Don’t call yourself an expert or a trusted advisor.

[00:29:00] You’ll know when you get there because your peers will describe you that way. That is so powerful. Take it away, Ron.

[00:29:11] Ron Higgs: Well, again, it’s funny, I, how do you call yourself a trusted expert? Really, But you know, this actually came home in my dealings with my wife’s son. So, I, I don’t have kids my own, but I step kids.

[00:29:25] And so he said something about. Oh man, I, I couldn’t really go out and have fun because all of my friends were expecting me to take care of them. They knew that I would drive, they knew that I would do this. They knew that I was responsible, and I said, you know, You should be grateful for that because there is no, to me, there’s no higher honor than having your peers recognize you as someone who’s responsible and as someone that, as an expert.

[00:29:51] So again, I, I looked at that and went, You know what, Maybe that’s right for an expert. And then, there are a lot of people who could genuinely call themselves experts. But when somebody says, Hey, I’m an expert at this, you know, that’s just not me. But when I hear somebody else call me an expert, that’s when I go, That’s when I, I think I’ve really made it.

[00:30:11] I think if this person thinks I’m an expert, then okay, maybe I am, and especially a group of your peers. So, I wait for that. Right. And, and in general, one of those things, and this also taught me to do this, Ask other people what you’re good at, right? Because sometimes some things come to you so easily that you don’t even realize you’re good at.

[00:30:29] So if you want a good measure of the things that you’re good at, ask some of your peers. And the things are people that are closer to you, close to you, because they’ll come up and go, Well, you do this, this, this, and this. Something like, Wow, I hadn’t thought about that. Right? But when your peers call you an expert or a trusted advisor, that’s what I think you truly made it.

[00:30:49] Diana White: Such sound, sound wisdom, and listeners and viewers. I know, I know many of, of us, and I’m including myself, right, because I’m also a consultant, right? Ron, you’re a consultant and we know the name of the game is you got to puff up, you got to let people know that you’re out there. You got, you have to really sell your skills and your wares to get your clients and.

[00:31:15] it is a tendency to, inflate, or tout more of your expertise than normal because you really want to start making that revenue stream and getting that pipeline of clients. But there is something to be said for having your peers, your community, your previous happy clients, give you those accolades and tell the world.

[00:31:36] What, you know, as opposed to you spending all of your time trying to scream at people. Look at me. I have the skills. I have the skills. because sometimes that doesn’t go over as well as we like. And I, I really resonated with lesson number 10. And I would hope that people describe me in, in a positive light.

[00:31:56] I know most of my girlfriends would say My expertise lies in shopping. I don’t know if that’s a skill set that will take me far. But hey, you could be a personal shopper, right? I, I don’t think there’s a skill that you can’t parlay into. Something that generates revenue rightly these days, you know?

[00:32:12] Yeah. It’s totally up to you. But that lesson was powerful Ron.

[00:32:16] So we finished with your lessons, but I’m not finished with my questions. So, first thing I want to know is what have you had to unlearned?

[00:32:28] Ron Higgs: Well, you know, that we all try to be the best that we can be, I believe. And in my younger days, I thought that.

[00:32:38] You just had to be good at your job. Doesn’t matter anything else, as long as you were good at your job. Well, guess what? That’s I, I had to teach myself. I had to learn. I learned that’s not true, right? And, and this came to a head again in some of my interactions with my wife’s son, where I go, You know what, as someone who has, been, in leadership roles, I will take a C student who is good with people.

[00:33:03] Collaborative and gets along with people any day over an A student who does not, And so I start looking for the things that you really can’t teach, So you can teach people to do a lot of things. And so, then I started stepping back and going, Hey, let’s look for the things that you can’t teach for people that are good at the things that you can’t teach, right?

[00:33:24] Because you can teach a good person skills, but some people who are maybe bad people are not so friendly. People may have good skills, but, but it takes more than that. I have, I learned that the hard way.

[00:33:39] Diana White: Yeah. So, it is it, some people call it soft skills. Some people call it people skills.

[00:33:45] Um, team being able to be a team player, right? All of those different things. If it’s not in their personality, it’s kind of hard to teach it. I spent 30 years in retail, and we used to always say find somebody with innate good people skills and good customer service habits. We can teach them how to run a register.

[00:34:05] Ron Higgs: Right.

[00:34:06] Diana White: But we can’t teach them how to make that connection. So, I agree.

[00:34:11] Ron Higgs: I mean, there’s a couple things I work ethic, motivation, willingness, and or ability to learn are the three things that I look for that you just can’t teach.

[00:34:20] Diana White: Yeah. Yeah. And I think one of the other things is that transactional relationship that we seem to have in the workplace.

[00:34:27] And I’m, I’m sure as a COO and being with all of these different companies, you’ve seen it as well where, you’ll have an employee that they seem to be a team player on the surface, but when you really look at it, all they’re doing is scratching a back so that they can have a favor later. And that’s not necessarily being a team player.

[00:34:48] You know, that’s, that’s manipulating the organics of the team and how the team is functioning. And that’s something totally different. And when you’re caught out there, usually people get resentful and then the team falls apart. So, again, I think that’s an amazing lesson to unlearn.

[00:35:04] Ron Higgs: Well, I appreciate that, and those people of whom you speak are focused on getting something out of it. You know, I think as a part of the team, if you’re truly doing some teamwork, then you’re not looking to get anything out of it yourself. Right? You’re looking out for the team. Over yourself.

[00:35:19] So service above self, which is, you know, one of those things I think veterans bring into the workplace is a veteran, you know, service above self. I, I’m focused on that, and a lot of veterans are. And so that, that’s another quality as to look for as well.

[00:35:34] Diana White: It’s absolutely true. So, listeners and viewers, any of you out there that are veterans first, thank you for your service.

[00:35:43] Second, understand that whatever you’re feeling, you have more skill sets and more experience in being a part of a team and doing extraordinary things than the average human being out there. Don’t discount that. Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now. I’m afraid of heights. Let me get off this soapbox.

[00:36:03] alright, so, Let’s see, what are you working on? Where can we find you, Ron? Where can, where can somebody that needs that fractional coo, where can they find you?

[00:36:16] Ron Higgs: LinkedIn, Ron Higgs easy, right? I, I have a website, but it’s not very good. But most of my exposure is through LinkedIn. So, if you’re going to go to that website, it really doesn’t say much more than what you’re going to see on LinkedIn.

[00:36:30] So that really is the best place to see it, because I have. On podcast, a few other things. You know, I’ve commented on some things so you can get a really sense of who I am, uh, by looking at those things on LinkedIn. So, all of my contact information is there. Please reach out and connect.

[00:36:47] Diana White: And if somebody wants to kind of figure out, you know, how do I get in Ron’s head?

[00:36:51] What is Ron thinking about? What are, what are you reading right now? What can they read so they can kind of get the feel of your philosophies? What are you reading?

[00:36:59] Ron Higgs: Well, as I mentioned earlier, being both a student and instructor of leadership, always looking to learn more about leadership. So right here on my desk right is a book called Do Lead by a guy named Les McKeown, right?

[00:37:11] Very, very good book. And you get a small book. It’s short, it’s easy, and it has some really powerful lessons about leadership and, and I highly. All

[00:37:21] Diana White: right, well, we’ll have that title and the author in the show notes for our listeners and viewers. Um, and I thank you for sharing that with us. And I’m, I’m hoping everybody can find it on Audible.

[00:37:32] That would be great too. I want to thank my guest Ron Higgs for sharing his lessons with us today. As usual, with every episode of viewers and listeners, I feel like I’m, I’m learning more just like you are. And it’s one of the reasons why I love doing this show. I want to exit out here. You’ve been listening to 10 Lessons Learned.

[00:37:53] This episode is produced by Robert Hossary, supported as always by the Professional Development Forum. Please tell us what you think of today’s lessons. You can email us at podcast@10Lessonslearned.com that’s podcast at the number one zero lessons learned.com. Go ahead and hit that like button subscribe and turn on the notification bell so you don’t miss any episodes of the only podcasts that makes the world wiser lesson by lesson. Thank you everyone and be safe.

 This episode is produced by Robert Hossary. Sponsored as always by Professional Development Forum, which office insights, community or discussions, podcasts, parties, anything you want here, but they’re unique and it’s all free online. You can find the www.professionaldevelopmentforum.org you’ve heard from us we’d like to hear from you. Email us it’s podcast@10lessonslearned.com. Remember, this is the podcast the only podcast. That’s makes the world wiser lesson by lesson.

 
Ron Higgs

Ron Higgs – Don’t call yourself an expert unless your peers describe you that way

Ron Higgs tells us that "You can learn from anyone", that you should "Solve more problems than you create" and why we should "Embrace gratitude". Hosted by Diana White

About Ron Higgs

Ron Higgs is a veteran, executive business consultant, engineer, and published author. His career started in the US Navy and included combat flight operations, developmental flight testing, program management, production & manufacturing management, and systems engineering. He has worked in several industries and held leadership positions in startups, small companies, and large corporations. Ron is the founder and principal of Wolf Management Solutions, where he is a business consultant, coach, and Fractional COO who helps companies scale through leadership, organizational development, and process improvement. Ron is passionate about helping BIPOC entrepreneurs become great leaders and build successful businesses.

His education includes a BS in Mathematics from the US Naval Academy, an MS in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a certificate in Engineering Flight Test from the US Naval Test Pilot School.

Episode Notes

Lesson 1: Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about 02:20
Lesson 2: You can learn from anyone, so always be open. 03:57
Lesson 3: I’ve never had an idea that someone else didn’t make better. 06:25
Lesson 4: Multitasking is BS, focusing is a superpower. 09:13
Lesson 5: Everything is related to leadership and your ability to build relationships is the key 12:53
Lesson 6: Solve more problems than you create 16:41
Lesson 7: You will make mistakes and reasonable people tolerate mistakes. It’s how you make it right that matters. 18:45
Lesson 8: Embrace gratitude – find something to be grateful for in every situation 23:57
Lesson 9: The most valuable thing that you have is your time. “Someday” isn’t a goal or a strategy and you are running out of “someday’s”. 26:02
Lesson 10: Don’t call yourself an expert or a trusted advisor, you’ll know when you get there because your peers will describe you that way 28:33

Ron Higgs – Don’t call yourself an expert unless your peers will describe you that way

[00:00:08] Diana White: Hello and welcome to 10 Lessons Learned where we talk to leaders and luminaries from all over the world to dispense wisdom for career, business, and life in order to make the world wiser lesson by lesson.

[00:00:22] My name is Diana White, and I’m your host for this episode. Our guest today is Ron Higgs. Ron Higgs is a veteran executive business consultant, engineer, and published author. His career started in the US Navy and included combat flight operations, developmental flight testing, program management, production, and manufacturing manage.

[00:00:46] And systems engineering. He has worked in several industries and held leadership positions in start-ups, small companies and large corporations. Ron is the founder and principle of Wolf Management Solutions, where he is a business consultant coach, and fractional COO who helps companies scale through leadership, organizational development, and process improvement.

[00:01:10] Ron is passionate about helping BIPOC entrepreneurs become great leaders and build successful business. His education includes a BS in mathematics from the US Naval Academy and MS in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School and a certificate in engineering flight test from the US Naval Test Pilot School.

[00:01:34] Welcome, Ron.

[00:01:35] Ron Higgs: Thank you, Diana. first thing I’m going to have to do is look up the word luminary. never been described as one of them.

[00:01:42] Diana White: it just means that you have a lot to enlighten us about and we’ll get to it with your lessons, so, for sure. First question, right out of the gate, what would you tell your 30-year-old self.

[00:01:55] Ron Higgs: And, you know, there’s a long list, uh, but at the top of the list would be don’t wait for the right time to do something. Right. There’s a lot of times where, you think about it’s like, I’m just waiting for the right time. I’m just waiting for the right time, man. Time will just get away from you and it happened to me, right?

[00:02:13] As far as starting a business. So, if I could tell my 30-year-old self, start that business sooner.

[00:02:18] Diana White: That’s some good advice.

[00:02:20] Lesson 1:   Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about

[00:02:20] Diana White: We’re going to jump right into lesson number one. Lesson number one, everyone you meet is fighting a battle. You know nothing about. How did you know this to be true?

[00:02:31] Ron Higgs: It took a while you know, as we know, and really because I’m fighting one to some degree, you are.

[00:02:40] Everyone, and this really came to head in a leadership position that I had where I ended up being the boss of someone with whom I had worked previously. And we didn’t get along and I actually, I, I always say didn’t like this person very much, but once this person started, Working for me. I got to know her and her story and actually came to really, really like her because I listened to her story and went, Wow, she’s really been through a lot.

[00:03:10] So now I understand a lot more about her perspectives on some of the things that we disagreed in. So again, I just think that everyone out there, you know it as well as I do. Just dealing with something that you know nothing about. So, be kind. Try to put yourself in their shoes, you know, maybe that person’s having a bad day.

[00:03:29] Maybe they’ll dealing with something else. But that seems to work well for me once I really learned it.

[00:03:36] Diana White: I love that, that, and that’s a lesson that I had to learn as well. you never know. and most often, uh, I think you’d agree, Ron. We take things personally; we think everything is about us.

[00:03:46] Oh, this person usually says, Hey, how you doing? And today they just gave me a formal hello. Why are they mad at me when it has nothing to do with you? You know? I totally agree.

[00:03:57] Lesson 2:   You can learn from anyone, so always be open.

[00:03:57] Diana White: Lesson number two, you can learn from anyone. So always be open. Now, this is what I agree with wholeheartedly. So, talk about this.

[00:04:06] Ron Higgs: Well, I truly believe that. And one of the things that hit me as when I was a junior officer in the Navy and I was actually going through test pilot school at the time, which is something that was very difficult achievement for me to even get there. And so, I was really, you know, at the time, sort of on the top of my game.

[00:04:25] I was in downtown Washington; DC and I saw a homeless guy with a saxophone. And he was out on the street playing the most wonderful music I’d heard from a saxophone, and I went, You know, maybe I should buy a saxophone. Cause it’s one of those things, it’s like, ah, I think I’d like to learn that and I could have this guy teach me because, so again, I, I wasn’t able to do that, but I would have had it been practical and it just, I just sat back and went, you know, you can learn something from anyone.

[00:05:01] Right? That guy knew how to do something that I didn’t do and, and he’s homeless, And I wasn’t, fast forward, quite a few years. And now I’m in a part of a networking group with a bunch of different people, and we had a young college graduate come in, say, Hey, this is my first job out of college, and I’m just here to learn.

[00:05:19] I, I don’t think I have anything to contribute. I’m just here to learn from everybody. And I said, Well, wait a second. I was like, we can actually learn quite a bit from you, right? Because none of us have the perspective of someone just entering the workforce and we can use that, So that, that is of value to us. So don’t think that you can’t, or we can’t learn from you. Right.

[00:05:41] Diana White: That’s a valuable lesson.

[00:05:43] Ron Higgs: Everyone out there. And, and I’ll just tell you one last story about that. When I was coo of a company, the company was small enough to where I was able to have one-on-one meetings with everyone.

[00:05:52] And I told them that. I said, Listen, I’m, I’m the COO of this company and you just started six months ago, but I can learn from you. We’re here to learn from each other. So, keep that in mind, You’re just not here to learn from me. I learned as much from you as well.

[00:06:04] Diana White: I would’ve loved to have had you as my boss,

[00:06:09] Ron Higgs: That’s no. I hope there’s a lot of few other people who, with whom I’ve worked that could say the same thing.

[00:06:15] Diana White: Well, hopefully some of them will listen or view this episode and say, Yep, I totally agree. I remember a great experience working with Ron,

[00:06:25] Lesson 3:   I’ve never had an idea that someone else didn’t make better.

[00:06:25] Diana White: Number three. I’ve never had an idea that someone else didn’t make better.

[00:06:31] When I read this, Ron, I loved it because I never really put that into words before, but I believe that as well. I believe I put ideas out there and hopefully somebody else can contribute. So, tell me what in your experience led you to that.

[00:06:49] Ron Higgs: You know, I think it’s all about perspective, right? Cuz we all have these great ideas and then when you start noodling ideas with somebody, they’ll say something.

[00:06:57] You go, Oh yeah, I didn’t think about it that way. And then I’ll, give it a practical example is I was running a systems engineering organization and I hired a young lady. Who had just been with the team. I mean, she had just started with the team. So, say she was with us for a month, and I said, Hey, I have this idea and I want to do a dashboard.

[00:07:16] If you know what a dashboard is and sort of show the status of you know, just one page thing based in Excel that you can show. The status. So, I took a shot at it, and I drew it out and I said, This is what I want it to look like, and these are the ideas that I wanted to convey. So, I want everybody to be able to look at it and kind of know where we are and what’s going on.

[00:07:37] Right. A visual representation of what’s happening. So, she took it. I mean, she had only worked with us for a month because she took it and turned it into something that I couldn’t, in my wildest dreams have come up with. Right. And so, I was like, Wow, this is outstanding. So, I gave it to my boss and my boss is like, Wow, this is great.

[00:07:56] So let’s fast forward a couple months later, I was looking at something that actually got briefed to the Boeing CEO and my boss’s, boss’s boss, who all the way up the chain had taken that chart in, briefed it to the Boeing CEO. the idea the stimulus was mine, I was the catalyst.

[00:08:14] Right. But she took it much further than I ever, than I ever could have. And, and I think with lots of ideas that happens that way.

[00:08:22] Diana White: And don’t you find a sense of pride in that? For, for me, whenever I had an idea and I shared it with my team and somebody in my team stepped up and said, I, I’ve got something that’ll make this just crème de la crème.

[00:08:38] To me, it was a sense of pride. To be able to tell them, You’re awesome, You’re amazing. Look what you did. And to see it reflected in their eyes to see the pride I have in them reflected in their eyes. That was awesome for me.

[00:08:53] Ron Higgs: Absolutely. I share that sentiment and just to let people know, uh, you know, I get a sense of pride whenever, I’ve been a catalyst or provided someone with some kind of guidance that they have then gone on to take much further than I ever could have.

[00:09:11] That is something to be proud

[00:09:13] Lesson 4:   Multitasking is BS, focusing is a superpower

[00:09:13] Diana White: Lesson number four and you were kind when you wrote this, but I don’t have to be, we can curse on this podcast. So multitasking is bullshit. Focusing is a superpower. Ooh. Talk to me about this.

[00:09:30] Ron Higgs: Well, you know, we are overstimulated, right? Our worlds are, everyone is multitasking with their phones, with everything, right?

[00:09:39] With pads of every different size, computers, multiple computer screens, everything. You see it when people are sitting in front of you. at dinner and everything else, and, and I’m guilty of it, but what I found is that if you put that down and focus, right, is where you get a lot of results. So, I think now in today’s world of all of these distractions being able to focus, you’ll stand out.

[00:10:05] If you can focus, I’ll give you example, my phone right now is on the other side of the room face down, so I can’t hear it. Or in the, the ringer’s off. So, I can’t hear it and I can’t see it. I’m focused here, right. And a lot of other people do. I have the notifications turned off of my computer and I am solely focused.

[00:10:26] On this discussion, how many people can do that when you’re sitting in Zoom calls and listen, I’m guilty. Like if I’m a participant in the Zoom call, am I just listening? It’s like, Hey, I can knock out a couple of emails, I can follow along here. I can read this. I mean, how many other screens do you have up?

[00:10:41] How many other windows do you have up on your computer while you’re doing it? Uh, but I think you’re losing out when you do that, right? Yeah. There’ll be a high rate of return on just staying in the moment, and especially when other human beings are involved.

[00:10:53] So for me, I learned this before we had cell phones, When I had a meeting with my office with someone, I would come out from behind my desk, right, leave my phone or whatever, and. Talk to that person. And if the phone rang, I would ignore it because I, I’m there that I’m, I’m not going to take my attention away from that person, you know, for some unknown person on the other call. Now sometimes, you know, in social situation when mom calls or my wife calls, then you have to prioritize. Yes. I you said, And she rarely calls me. So, it’s like, uh, I better answer.

[00:11:34] Diana White: I, I’m, I’m so glad you said that. Saving marriages one lesson at a time. I’m so glad you said. But no, it, it, it’s very true.

[00:11:43] And, really quickly, I learned that lesson, I used to work for a company that used a platform, when we would have our virtual meetings and the facilitator could actually see if you’ve left that particular screen to do some other work, right? They can tell if you have been distracted and so.

[00:12:02] Diana, who is always savvy and trying to figure out how to do as many things as she can. At one time I said, Oh, I’m just going to get another monitor, and I’ll always have the screen up on one monitor and I can work on the other one. And it worked. Until I realized how much information I was missing out on because I could not pay attention to both things.

[00:12:25] And so I too now have adopted focus. Very important. And I, and I’m so glad you had that lesson. And I think many of our guests in some way, shape or form, have come to that lesson.

[00:12:38] Ron Higgs: I hope so. And even the technology is catching up. I mean, I, I just got my new. iPhone update, you know, and now you can.

[00:12:47] set focus time, set your phones for focus, and you can customize it to what you need. I really like that.

[00:12:53] Diana White: Yeah.

[00:12:53] Lesson 5:   Everything is related to leadership and your ability to build relationships is the key

[00:12:53] Diana White: Yeah. Number five, everything is related to leadership and your ability to build relationships is key. Talk to me about that one.

[00:13:02] Ron Higgs: Well, I am both a student, uh, and an instructor of leadership.

[00:13:06] You know, having attended the US Naval Academy, uh, since I was 17 years old, you know, that baked it to my DNA. And, you know, when you think about leadership, right? Leadership influences culture. Culture influences performance, right? Happy and engaged people, They willingly look out for your business, so they improve business processes on their own. They improve products and services on their own. All that leads to a better bottom line, right? So happy people. I think it was Richard Branson that said, No, you take care of customers, don’t come first. Right? Your, your team comes first. The people in your business come first, and if you take care of them, they will take care of your customers.

[00:13:49] You know, different schools of thought on all of that. But there’s the importance of leadership. And again, leadership isn’t a one size fits all solution. Every person has different motivations.

[00:14:01] And again, back to lesson one, right? Everyone has different battles that they’re fighting, so you do not know what kind of battles those people are fighting. And you don’t know what motivates those people until you actually build a relationship with them. You can’t go into someplace and just, Okay, I’m going to lead. Right? You have to get to know the people that you’re leading, and the only way you can do that is through building relationships now, and let’s talk about, the journey of an entrepreneur and a journey of a founder.

[00:14:31] If you’re a founder and you’re out raising money, then I think investors look for leaders. And then also they’re looking to build relationships. So that whole raising money parts about building relationships and not necessarily about money. So, an ability to build and cultivate relationships I think is key to a lot of things.

[00:14:53] And leadership is at the top of the list.

[00:14:57] Diana White: So true. What, what is that expression? People don’t care what you know until they know that you care. Exactly

[00:15:05] Ron Higgs: right. May Angelou say that or someone.

[00:15:07] Diana White: Yeah. You know what? I don’t, I don’t remember, but I often, you know, I’ll, equate something to Snoop Dog.

[00:15:12] Snoop Dog said I, I don’t know. I’ll look it up. But, but it’s so true. and also going back to your example of somebody standing in front of someone for, funding for their organization. Well, people don’t care until they can see how passionate you are, and you can prove that you’re the person to take it to the next level, right?

[00:15:35] And so that expression permeates all relationships. I believe no matter what situation you’re in, you really have to make that human connection.

[00:15:45] Ron Higgs: Well, they buy investors and others buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. And that’s the why. Building those relationships are key.

[00:15:56] Diana White: That’s very true.

[00:15:57] Affiliate Break

[00:15:57] Diana White: Well, we’re going to take a break right now so I can thank our affiliate partner Audible. Audible is an amazing way to consume 10 lessons learned books and other podcasts, allowing you to build a library of knowledge all in one place.

[00:16:14] You can start your 30-day free trial by going to audibletrial.com/10lessonslearned with Audible. You can find your favorite lesson while at home or on the go. Once again, that’s audibletrial.com/10lessonslearned all lowercase for a free 30-day trial. The link will be in the show notes.

[00:16:41] Lesson 6:   Solve more problems than you create

[00:16:41] Diana White: Let’s welcome back Ron Higgs and continue with lesson number six.

[00:16:46] Lesson number six. Solve more problems than you create. Ron, can we make that a bumper sticker?

[00:16:56] Ron Higgs: Sure. Sounds good.

[00:16:59] Diana White: Tell me about this lesson.

[00:17:01] Ron Higgs: You know, this one came because somebody asked me. Not too long ago, maybe a couple years ago, He goes, When you leave the room, what do you want people to remember about you?

[00:17:11] Like when you in, in your workplace or when you leave someplace, not necessarily the room, but when you leave someplace, to move on to someplace else. You know, what do you want those people to remember about you? And you know, I just thought off the top of my head, it’s like, you know, that guy gets it right.

[00:17:28] And that guy solved more problems than he created. Cause sometimes solutions, You know, you can have a relatively easy solution to something, but unless you think it through, it may end up creating more problems than it solves. So, if you say, Oh, if you’re short on people, it’s like, Hey, we need to hire somebody else.

[00:17:47] Well, that’s really easier said than done. Right? Do we have the budget to hire somebody else? Do we have enough work for that person? Do we have, how long is that going to take? I mean, there, there’re just a lot of things. And so again, I think if you. In general, just solve more problems than you create, I think you’ll leave with wherever you are with a good legacy.

[00:18:06] Diana White: That’s, that is brilliant. That is absolutely brilliant. And, for me in my career, it wasn’t solve more problems than you create, It was work smarter, not harder. And I think the two kind of go hand in hand, right? Because if you’re trying to work smarter, you are alleviating those things that might end up causing more problems.

[00:18:27] So I appreciate that and, and I am going to steal it. Thank you very much for that.

[00:18:33] Ron Higgs: Oh no, they’re in print, so I guess it’s wide open. Just, uh, make you go appropriate Attritions.

[00:18:39] Diana White: It’s, this is open-source listeners and viewers. These lessons are open-source content for you. Feel free.

[00:18:45] Lesson 7:   You will make mistakes and reasonable people tolerate mistakes. It’s how you make it right that matters.

[00:18:45] Diana White: Lesson number seven, you will make mistakes and reasonable people tolerate mistakes.

[00:18:51] It’s how you make it right that matters Now. This almost made me cry, Ron, and I’ll tell you it, I read this lesson after I had, made a big faux pas, made a big mistake. And I am my worst critic. Aren’t we all? Okay? And I, I was beating myself up. I think I was in what, how many rounds in boxing? I think I was in my, round five of beating myself up.

[00:19:16] And I read that lesson and I said. Yeah. Yeah. It’s okay. I’m human, but I want to know how you came to know this to be true.

[00:19:27] Ron Higgs: You know, I, I, I have to tell you, I think every day, maybe not every day. And I don’t want to oversimplify this, but even as a patron in a restaurant, right, we’ve all been patrons before, right?

[00:19:39] And we’ve always, we’ve all been victims of sort of bad service, right? And if, you know, you go to a restaurant and you have a bad time where things are slow. If the manager walks up and says, Hey folks, you know what? We’re a little shorthand in tonight. Uh, things may take, take a little longer, but how about I comp you a dessert or an appetizer?

[00:20:00] Does that sound good? Yeah. Again, He made it right. And sometimes it’s just information that you need. You ever been on a plane that’s just pulled out of the gate and just sat there and sat there and you’re just, because you have no control over anything, when you’re a passenger in a plane. And so, you’re just sitting there going, What is going on?

[00:20:22] You know? And the pilot says, Hey folks, sorry, bit of a delay. You know, there’s 20 airplanes, uh, ahead of us for take-off. Caused by some bad weather. We take airplanes off about once a minute here, so we should be airborne in about 20 minutes. Do you know what I mean? It’s just sometimes it just takes a little bit of information to make things right.

[00:20:43] And then for you, we’ve all made mistakes, right? So, you know, you walk in immediately fess up to it, Hey, I made a mistake. This is what happened. This is what I’m doing to correct it now, right now. And then these are the actions that I will take to make sure that it doesn’t.

[00:21:00] Diana White: Absolutely.

[00:21:01] Ron Higgs: That’s making it right.

[00:21:02] Diana White: Yeah.

[00:21:03] Ron Higgs: So again, you can just see how being a patron in a restaurant or being somewhere where you think, where you just don’t know what’s going on or you, somebody’s made a mistake and now you are a little bit annoyed and all you have to do, you know, people take the right actions to make it right.

[00:21:20] Now, sometimes people don’t always take the right actions to make it right, and then what do you do? It’s like, okay, I’m never going back to that restaurant again. So again, fairly simple. Just everybody’s going to make mistakes because we’re human. Just what are you going to do to make it right?

[00:21:32] And how are you going to learn from it? And hopefully not doing it.

[00:21:36] Diana White: And what I heard in between the lines on that Ron, is something pretty powerful, which is, nine times out of 10. The way you can make it right is just by giving clarification. Just by giving knowledge and clarification of what the person might not know about the situation, deescalates the situation.

[00:21:58] And you know, a lot of people come from a place of, I’ve made a mistake, somebody’s going to want a pound of flesh and so let me just stay quiet and not say anything. And that’s one of the reasons why I love what you put in the entire lesson, which is reasonable people tolerate mistakes, right?

[00:22:19] And so, viewers and listeners, if you are a leader, if you are, a supervisor, you have to figure out what your leadership style is going to be and if you are going to be the person that understands that everybody is human and people can make mistakes within reason, obviously. Or you’re going to be the kind of person that you know strives for perfection at the loss of true authenticity in your team.

[00:22:46] Ron Higgs: You know, in terms of organizational culture, one of the things that I look for, it’s, that’s really important to me, is a culture that where people don’t have a fear of making mistakes, because there are a lot, just, I think you insinuated this, right? There are a lot of places where they’re just going to take a pound to flesh.

[00:23:06] They are just waiting for you to make a mistake. So that, Not going to get that promotion. Not going to go on that trip, not going to do something. Just something to knock you down in some way. And the organizations with good cultures don’t have people living in fear of mistakes. Hey, make a mistake, make it early.

[00:23:27] Right. Learn from it. Don’t do it again. Now, repeating the same mistake is a different deal. But, you know, just if you have a, a culture where people are not in fear of making mistakes, I, I think that that’s part of a good culture.

[00:23:42] Diana White: Wow. I feel so bad. I’m going to steal that one too. I’m so sorry,

[00:23:47] But we said it’s open source, right? So, we’re good. All right.

[00:23:51] Ron Higgs: We’ll talk about, we’ll talk later.

[00:23:54] Diana White: We’ll talk about your commission a little later.

[00:23:57] Lesson 8:   Embrace gratitude – find something to be grateful for in every situation

[00:23:57] Diana White: All right, number eight, embrace gratitude. Find something to be grateful for in every situation. Now, this is something that I was raised upon, but a lot of people, Maybe even if they knew it in the beginning, they lose this somewhere in their adulthood.

[00:24:15] So talk about that, Ron. Bring us back to that. Embracing gratitude.

[00:24:20] Ron Higgs: Well, I, I will tell you this, I actually learned this from a former boss. And one of the things in mil, in aviation in general, in military aviation especially, you know, we’re taught from the beginning in flight school, what if X goes wrong? Most of the trading has to do with what if, What if this happens?

[00:24:40] What if you lose an engine? What if you lose electricity? What if the aircraft gets struck by lightning? What if there’s fire? Right? Where am I going to land? What am I going to do, Right? So, there’s a lot of that. And so, some of that, at least for me, had me always looking at those sort of scenarios and I, I didn’t stop.

[00:24:55] But to balance that, right? I look, it’s like, okay, so what can we be grateful for in these situations right? You get a flat tire on the highway in the middle of the day. Okay, Okay. Well, it’s not dark and it’s not raining, and we’re not in the middle of someplace else. And one of my favorite things to do, you know, in corporate America, when people rush into my office say, Hey, we have an emergency.

[00:25:16] It’s like, Okay, is anyone dead? Is anyone injured? And we’re doing good, right? Is the building actually on fire? No. Then there’s, there’s things that we could actually be grateful for, right? In all of that. So, I think if you try to find something to be grateful for in every situation, then I, I think that may lead in the future to coming up with solutions that maybe you didn’t think about before because you are thinking of, Okay, so what can I be grateful for here?

[00:25:48] Grateful for the opportunity to work with such great people, all sorts of things. That’s where that came from.

[00:25:56] Diana White: I think that is one of the most powerful lessons to date.

[00:26:00] That is amazing. That is amazing.

[00:26:02] Lesson 9:   The most valuable thing that you have is your time. “Someday” isn’t a goal or a strategy and you are running out of “someday’s”.

[00:26:02] Diana White: Number nine. The most valuable thing that you have is your time. Someday isn’t a goal or a strategy, and you are running out of some days, and this goes back to what you would’ve told your 30-year-old self, right? So, let’s talk about this.

[00:26:17] Ron Higgs: Well, you know, this really hit home because this is shows called, you know, lessons and it took me 50 years to learn, right?

[00:26:25] And I think once you reach a certain age, you realize that there are more days behind than there are ahead. And so, you spent a lot of your time saying, Someday I’ll do this. Someday I’ll have that. Well, guess what? Some days are running out. Some days it’s real. Now it’s finite because there are actually more days behind than there are ahead.

[00:26:47] And I think some people realize that too through tragic circumstances. Yeah. You know, I had, uh, my best friend when I was 30 years old, dropped dead. Right. So, I realized that like, wow, he was 31 years old and, and you know, he just dropped dead of an undiagnosed heart condition, so nothing’s ever promised, right? So, people learn those lessons that way.

[00:27:07] But again, I think your time, I think the most valuable things that you have time, I think is at the top right, because there’s no more of it, right? And then there’s your energy, you know, and where your focus is, right? And so, what you, because some, there are some things that’ll take the way, your energy that don’t deserve it, but we’re talking about time.

[00:27:25] Right. And I, and again, I truly believe that time is the most valuable thing that you have. And so, you should, you should use it very wisely. And as I would’ve told my 30-year-old self, don’t keep waiting for the right time. Don’t use the phrase someday I stopped using that term because once I, once this lesson came to me.

[00:27:48] Diana White: I wholeheartedly agree. And I told my daughter, you don’t want to have these kinds of conversations with your children. Really, Nobody does. But you, you have to plan if you’re, if you’re doing things right, you have to plan, right? And, I had a conversation with my daughter, and she said, Mom, why are you talking about these things?

[00:28:04] Like, what, what are you talking about? And I said, Listen, kiddo, I’m 52. The odds that I will live to be 104. Not that great. And so more than half of my life is behind me, you know? And I have to be honest with that. And I have to say, what now? What? Now? And that’s when the bucket list came out. And those bucket lists can be very fun.

[00:28:29] Ron Higgs: I bet. 

[00:28:32] Diana White: I love it. So, I love it.

[00:28:33] Lesson 10: Don’t call yourself an expert or a trusted advisor, you’ll know when you get there because your peers will describe you that way

[00:28:33] Diana White: So, lesson number 10. Oh man, I might have to say this five times. Lesson number 10. Don’t call yourself an expert or a trusted advisor. You’ll know when you get there because your peers will describe you that way. I’m going to repeat that. Don’t call yourself an expert or a trusted advisor.

[00:29:00] You’ll know when you get there because your peers will describe you that way. That is so powerful. Take it away, Ron.

[00:29:11] Ron Higgs: Well, again, it’s funny, I, how do you call yourself a trusted expert? Really, But you know, this actually came home in my dealings with my wife’s son. So, I, I don’t have kids my own, but I step kids.

[00:29:25] And so he said something about. Oh man, I, I couldn’t really go out and have fun because all of my friends were expecting me to take care of them. They knew that I would drive, they knew that I would do this. They knew that I was responsible, and I said, you know, You should be grateful for that because there is no, to me, there’s no higher honor than having your peers recognize you as someone who’s responsible and as someone that, as an expert.

[00:29:51] So again, I, I looked at that and went, You know what, Maybe that’s right for an expert. And then, there are a lot of people who could genuinely call themselves experts. But when somebody says, Hey, I’m an expert at this, you know, that’s just not me. But when I hear somebody else call me an expert, that’s when I go, That’s when I, I think I’ve really made it.

[00:30:11] I think if this person thinks I’m an expert, then okay, maybe I am, and especially a group of your peers. So, I wait for that. Right. And, and in general, one of those things, and this also taught me to do this, Ask other people what you’re good at, right? Because sometimes some things come to you so easily that you don’t even realize you’re good at.

[00:30:29] So if you want a good measure of the things that you’re good at, ask some of your peers. And the things are people that are closer to you, close to you, because they’ll come up and go, Well, you do this, this, this, and this. Something like, Wow, I hadn’t thought about that. Right? But when your peers call you an expert or a trusted advisor, that’s what I think you truly made it.

[00:30:49] Diana White: Such sound, sound wisdom, and listeners and viewers. I know, I know many of, of us, and I’m including myself, right, because I’m also a consultant, right? Ron, you’re a consultant and we know the name of the game is you got to puff up, you got to let people know that you’re out there. You got, you have to really sell your skills and your wares to get your clients and.

[00:31:15] it is a tendency to, inflate, or tout more of your expertise than normal because you really want to start making that revenue stream and getting that pipeline of clients. But there is something to be said for having your peers, your community, your previous happy clients, give you those accolades and tell the world.

[00:31:36] What, you know, as opposed to you spending all of your time trying to scream at people. Look at me. I have the skills. I have the skills. because sometimes that doesn’t go over as well as we like. And I, I really resonated with lesson number 10. And I would hope that people describe me in, in a positive light.

[00:31:56] I know most of my girlfriends would say My expertise lies in shopping. I don’t know if that’s a skill set that will take me far. But hey, you could be a personal shopper, right? I, I don’t think there’s a skill that you can’t parlay into. Something that generates revenue rightly these days, you know?

[00:32:12] Yeah. It’s totally up to you. But that lesson was powerful Ron.

[00:32:16] So we finished with your lessons, but I’m not finished with my questions. So, first thing I want to know is what have you had to unlearned?

[00:32:28] Ron Higgs: Well, you know, that we all try to be the best that we can be, I believe. And in my younger days, I thought that.

[00:32:38] You just had to be good at your job. Doesn’t matter anything else, as long as you were good at your job. Well, guess what? That’s I, I had to teach myself. I had to learn. I learned that’s not true, right? And, and this came to a head again in some of my interactions with my wife’s son, where I go, You know what, as someone who has, been, in leadership roles, I will take a C student who is good with people.

[00:33:03] Collaborative and gets along with people any day over an A student who does not, And so I start looking for the things that you really can’t teach, So you can teach people to do a lot of things. And so, then I started stepping back and going, Hey, let’s look for the things that you can’t teach for people that are good at the things that you can’t teach, right?

[00:33:24] Because you can teach a good person skills, but some people who are maybe bad people are not so friendly. People may have good skills, but, but it takes more than that. I have, I learned that the hard way.

[00:33:39] Diana White: Yeah. So, it is it, some people call it soft skills. Some people call it people skills.

[00:33:45] Um, team being able to be a team player, right? All of those different things. If it’s not in their personality, it’s kind of hard to teach it. I spent 30 years in retail, and we used to always say find somebody with innate good people skills and good customer service habits. We can teach them how to run a register.

[00:34:05] Ron Higgs: Right.

[00:34:06] Diana White: But we can’t teach them how to make that connection. So, I agree.

[00:34:11] Ron Higgs: I mean, there’s a couple things I work ethic, motivation, willingness, and or ability to learn are the three things that I look for that you just can’t teach.

[00:34:20] Diana White: Yeah. Yeah. And I think one of the other things is that transactional relationship that we seem to have in the workplace.

[00:34:27] And I’m, I’m sure as a COO and being with all of these different companies, you’ve seen it as well where, you’ll have an employee that they seem to be a team player on the surface, but when you really look at it, all they’re doing is scratching a back so that they can have a favor later. And that’s not necessarily being a team player.

[00:34:48] You know, that’s, that’s manipulating the organics of the team and how the team is functioning. And that’s something totally different. And when you’re caught out there, usually people get resentful and then the team falls apart. So, again, I think that’s an amazing lesson to unlearn.

[00:35:04] Ron Higgs: Well, I appreciate that, and those people of whom you speak are focused on getting something out of it. You know, I think as a part of the team, if you’re truly doing some teamwork, then you’re not looking to get anything out of it yourself. Right? You’re looking out for the team. Over yourself.

[00:35:19] So service above self, which is, you know, one of those things I think veterans bring into the workplace is a veteran, you know, service above self. I, I’m focused on that, and a lot of veterans are. And so that, that’s another quality as to look for as well.

[00:35:34] Diana White: It’s absolutely true. So, listeners and viewers, any of you out there that are veterans first, thank you for your service.

[00:35:43] Second, understand that whatever you’re feeling, you have more skill sets and more experience in being a part of a team and doing extraordinary things than the average human being out there. Don’t discount that. Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now. I’m afraid of heights. Let me get off this soapbox.

[00:36:03] alright, so, Let’s see, what are you working on? Where can we find you, Ron? Where can, where can somebody that needs that fractional coo, where can they find you?

[00:36:16] Ron Higgs: LinkedIn, Ron Higgs easy, right? I, I have a website, but it’s not very good. But most of my exposure is through LinkedIn. So, if you’re going to go to that website, it really doesn’t say much more than what you’re going to see on LinkedIn.

[00:36:30] So that really is the best place to see it, because I have. On podcast, a few other things. You know, I’ve commented on some things so you can get a really sense of who I am, uh, by looking at those things on LinkedIn. So, all of my contact information is there. Please reach out and connect.

[00:36:47] Diana White: And if somebody wants to kind of figure out, you know, how do I get in Ron’s head?

[00:36:51] What is Ron thinking about? What are, what are you reading right now? What can they read so they can kind of get the feel of your philosophies? What are you reading?

[00:36:59] Ron Higgs: Well, as I mentioned earlier, being both a student and instructor of leadership, always looking to learn more about leadership. So right here on my desk right is a book called Do Lead by a guy named Les McKeown, right?

[00:37:11] Very, very good book. And you get a small book. It’s short, it’s easy, and it has some really powerful lessons about leadership and, and I highly. All

[00:37:21] Diana White: right, well, we’ll have that title and the author in the show notes for our listeners and viewers. Um, and I thank you for sharing that with us. And I’m, I’m hoping everybody can find it on Audible.

[00:37:32] That would be great too. I want to thank my guest Ron Higgs for sharing his lessons with us today. As usual, with every episode of viewers and listeners, I feel like I’m, I’m learning more just like you are. And it’s one of the reasons why I love doing this show. I want to exit out here. You’ve been listening to 10 Lessons Learned.

[00:37:53] This episode is produced by Robert Hossary, supported as always by the Professional Development Forum. Please tell us what you think of today’s lessons. You can email us at podcast@10Lessonslearned.com that’s podcast at the number one zero lessons learned.com. Go ahead and hit that like button subscribe and turn on the notification bell so you don’t miss any episodes of the only podcasts that makes the world wiser lesson by lesson. Thank you everyone and be safe.

 This episode is produced by Robert Hossary. Sponsored as always by Professional Development Forum, which office insights, community or discussions, podcasts, parties, anything you want here, but they’re unique and it’s all free online. You can find the www.professionaldevelopmentforum.org you’ve heard from us we’d like to hear from you. Email us it’s podcast@10lessonslearned.com. Remember, this is the podcast the only podcast. That’s makes the world wiser lesson by lesson.

 

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