Authentic Achievements with Special Guest Charlie Leichtweis

Authentic Achievements with special guest Charlie Leichtweis

Authentic Achievements with Special Guest Charlie Leichtweis

From Bestselling author currently writing the forthcoming book Authentic Achievements – The 7 Secrets to Building Brave Belief, Unstoppable Sales, and Turning Your Leaders Into Talent Magnets for Guaranteed Sustainable Growth, this show features interviews with industry leaders and shares advice, stories and inspiration to help you achieve exponential growth personally and for your business.

In this episode, I am delighted to be joined by Charlie Leichtweis. Charlie is focused on one thing… HOW to help your organization achieve sustainable, profitable growth. In the world of business consultants, Charlie is unique. Not only can he identify the threats and barriers challenging your business, he has the experience, and knowledge to enable your teams with HOW to execute solutions.

Charlie Leichtweis is a 30 year business veteran with a strong track record of success at some of America’s best-known companies. His C-suite experience extends across various businesses, including CEO and President of The Testor Corporation, COO of North American Wholesale Group of Blyth Inc., CFO of Rand McNally Book Services, and CFO and Comptroller of Rust-Oleum Corp. His work focuses on strategy development and execution, alignment of strategy with process, global sourcing and operations, business transformation, driving growth, and creating a culture of continuous improvement.

Charlie Leichtweis is the founder of Experts in How LLC, a business consultancy focused on helping businesses learn HOW to identify, prioritize, and eliminate barriers to success. Charlie is the author of top selling books including The Power of Respect in Business and Qlikview Your Business. He is also a popular speaker, and serves as a member of the Board of Directors for a number of companies.

You can find out more about Charlie at

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Full Transcript

Authentic Achievements with Charlie Leichtweis

Hello, and welcome to this episode of authentic achievements where it’s my absolute delight to be joined by the fabulous Charlie Leichtweis, who is an author. He’s a speaker. He is passionate about helping people understand the how, and that’s really the driver behind his business, which is Experts in ow LLC, where he really helps family owned businesses, understand the how, and then make it work for them. So, Charlie, welcome.

Thank you so much, Kim. Great to be with you.

Oh, it’s such a joy. I know. Every time we chat, it just feels like yesterday or so. I’m really looking forward to today. Yeah. And I know that you’ve got such insight to share with our audience. So can you start by telling us a little bit about you and your journey, please?

Sure. My journey is rooted into helping people not make the same mistakes that I might have made. Quite frankly, I have a history of obviously making mistakes like everyone and also some successes. And my joy today is to be able to help share those experiences with people to hopefully help their journey be better. So getting, getting up in the morning, I love helping people.

Oh, I love that. And, and you’re right, aren’t you, as we travel through life, we do get things wrong. We do find the odd pothole to tumble into, but it’s what we learn in those, isn’t it that allows us to really grow. And I love that you’re actually taking those experiences and sharing them with other people so that they can learn the lesson without actually having to get in that pothole themselves. Right. So what got you started

Well in, in terms of getting started, I, I obviously came outta school, was interested in getting a broad experience with respect to business. I joined a public accounting firm at the time, Deloitte in the United States that allowed me to see a variety of different clients and their processes issues, et cetera, both on the auditing side and the consulting side. And it got me interested in how businesses run and how to make a contribution left Deloitte and went into industry at the very large corporation AB at laboratories. And again, was able to within various divisions learn more about how the business process worked and how more importantly to engage people in that process. It’s not about just telling them what to do, but it’s helping them with how to do it. So that’s really how, how it got me started. And then I’ve expanded that through a career that’s taken me fortunately through a number of different comp companies, a number of different successes and to the point of where once I left industry, I thought, well, I will share that with people and began a consulting practice, which is evolved into experts in how

I love that. And, and you make such a valid point in there that it’s about taking the people on the journey as well. Isn’t it, it’s getting the people to understand what it is you want them to do, how you want them to do it and why that’s important. Can you talk to me a little bit about how you approach that with businesses?

Yeah, it starts with, with my, what I’ve learned to be my version of leadership, you know, leadership is an equal emphasis on results and relationships and it’s not 50 50, it’s a hundred percent and a hundred percent, you know, I’m an analytical person, as people will probably be able to tell throughout this broadcast. But so when people are talking to me about an issue, I, in my mind, I’m already thinking about where do I go with that or where they’re going with it and how do I solve it? And so, as a result, I’m thinking about the result side of it and not the relationship side of it. So as I’m sitting there in my mind, thinking I know where they’re going, I know what the solution’s gonna be. And they’re looking at me like, dude, you’re not listening. And, and in fact I was not listening, even though that was my intent. So having to learn the relationship side, the focus on relationship was the key to make me more successful in, in leadership and as a result to achieve results. That quite frankly, we weren’t sure we could at the beginning of the processes,

I love that. And you you’re right. Aren’t you, sometimes we, we, we don’t listen to understand. We listen to interject. We listen because we know what the answer’s gonna be, and we wanna tell them and help them get there. But actually the power of really listening to understand and, and identify that there may be something else at play that perhaps we haven’t considered can be a real key to success. Can’t it?

Yeah, certainly can. And, and I wrote a book called the power of respect in business and in there is a number of stories, both mine and other CEOs that I interviewed. But to the point you just made, one of the stories is about a, a, a friend of mine. Now, I guess nearly 30 years, John was somebody. He could walk into a room of 30 people who he vehemently disagreed with. And after an hour come out and people were asking, when is he coming back? So we can talk to him. And I thought that is unbelievable, amazing how he could relate to people, even if he knew he disagreed with their point of view. So I asked John, I said, you know, John, you’re amazing at it. You’re a smart guy, but, but I’m a smart guy. How come I can’t do that? And he says, I’ll give you two words.

He said, listen longer. Now, first of all, it’s two words. So it’s easier for me to remember. And second of all, it, it, you find out several things. First of all, you now are engaged in listening and the person you’re is talking to you will realize that. And the second major point of that is you may find when they get done explaining what their, their problem is or what their issue is, it may actually be different than what you thought it was originally. And so 20, some years ago, when he told me that that’s really, you know, I can’t do it all the time, but I try to do it as much as possible. And it’s made me a better leader and a better manager. And I marry that concept with a concept of my own and says, if you’re right now, you’ll be right later. So you can afford to wait to try to listen to it, even if it’s difficult. And, and that’s my recommendation, it’s helped me. And in something like that, some trigger that each individual could develop, I think would be helpful to them.

I love that X, right? Isn’t it, you know, the longer we listen, the more chance we’ve got of learning something. And I’ve literally just finished reading John CLEs book, the little, little book of creativity. And in that, when he was doing study of, of people, what he identified was that those that were the most creative, that stayed the most in their creative brain were the ones that didn’t answer the question until it had to be answered. So they weren’t the ones that rushed to answer it. They were the ones that got comfortable with the, with the uncertainty of just allowing themselves to the last minute it needed to be done in case something new, came in a better idea, a new way, thinking that allowed them to, to propel past what they’d originally thought. And it sounds like, you know, with what you are doing on, on that listening longer.

And I love your other point. You know, if you’re right now, you’ll be right later. I think sometimes we, we rush to be right to go, I’ve got this I’m here. I’m okay. When actually, you know, it’s okay to let people come on that journey and you, and feel like they understood where the answer came from instead of almost being uncomfortable with it, because they don’t understand where, where it came from. And I guess if you’ve got quite an analytical brain, you can perhaps see patterns that other people haven’t seen yet. And, and that can be, I mean, that’s great, great for businesses, but I, I imagine can be challenging for getting people to come on that journey if they don’t really see the stepping stones. Would that be fair?

No, absolutely fair. Kim. And another story in the book related to that was a gentleman I worked for when I was the chief operating officer for a company here in north America. And he was the CEO and he told me one day he was talking about marketing and he was talking about product development and marketing innovation sort of things. And he brought the marketing team together and he said, Charlie, he says, you know, you can bring them together. And he says, I could probably stand up there and tell them in an hour or less all the things that they need to do and consider and lay out an outline for them. He said, but, but on the other hand, I could let it go for two or three or four hours and let them work through the understanding and ask questions and be engaged. And he said, Charlie always take the four hours. And you know, again, insights that of things you can actually do that you may not be apparent to you, but it helps you relate to other people and engage them in a way that actually means they’re learning as well. And even if you have something to teach them, they’ll learn it. But the other side of it is you’ll learn as well.

Yeah. I love that such great advice and you’re right, aren’t you, we, we sometimes rush to kind of give people the answer cause it’s gonna be faster, but in the long run, it often isn’t faster. Cause you’ve gotta keep giving them the answer because you’ve not helped them to learn how to get the answer for themselves. So I guess in what you’re doing by spending the time to engage them, getting them involved in the process, they’re developing their learning processes as well. Aren’t they, their thinking processes as well as teaching you so that you all continue to grow, which think is, is amazing. Is there something that you see that is almost commonplace amongst the businesses that you go in and help where you see that this is one thing that seems to always be a challenge for them?

Well, you know, it, it’s hard to say because there’s a lot of different circumstances and different businesses. As I think about it, one of the, one of the overriding difficulties and it’s, it’s not just business. I think it’s just for us as human beings is communication. And when you think about it in a small business where everybody’s in one place, it’s probably less difficult than it is when you think of an organization with multiple locations and in multiple protect, even time zones for that matter, in terms of communicating and, and creating a message that’s clear to everybody that they can understand and get on board with. So it’s, the effort has to be on making sure the communications are concise and clear enough and timely to all aspects of your organization. I, when I go into help organizations, sometimes I found that we get people together.

So first of all, the helping organization with the, how process is something like this, where you first start with, what are the objectives of the business, which is management’s responsibility to identify and then to determine what mission critical processes affect or are affected by those objectives. So you then go to the next level of who are all the people front to back, and those processes, you need to engage with that objective and bring them together, bringing them together is something that doesn’t happen often enough, number one, and then number two, we get them together. And we talk about, okay, here are the objectives. And, and we’re not putting ’em out there for debate because management is responsible for setting them. But then we ought ask them, what are the barriers that you run into to meeting those kinds of objectives, to engage them? And they’re talking about their processes.

And, and I find that that, you know, 80 to 85% or even 90% of the folks a want to be involved in the solution, B are appreciative that they’re being engaged and that their thought process is being considered. And then C that they’re empowered to actually make changes that they come up with. And that’s the communication process. That’s very difficult to, to maintain and sustain in many businesses, especially as large as they are. So thinking about that in terms of how that needs to be implemented over and over again and down through an organization is a key process that I think people can focus on it. It’s never ending battle, but I think it’s one that that’s worthwhile focusing on.

I love that such great, such great advice, really getting people included. So what would you, what would you say has been your biggest success to date and your proudest of,

Well, it, it kind of goes hand in hand with sort of my mantra for my business. I I’m, I’m not interested in making a living on a client. I want a client to make a living off of what I can teach them. So when I’m able to teach them either from my experiences as a mistake or success, and I see them grasping that and not making the same mistake, I think that’s, that’s the most enjoyable part of my work in, in my day.

Oh, I love that there is nothing quite like as they’re seeing somebody else’s success and knowing that you helped no, however small that help was, but that you were able to help them to achieve that potential, to see that dream come to reality. Right. So what would you say on the flip side of that, what would you say has been your greatest lesson so far?

Well, one I actually sort of mentioned already, and that was to learn, to listen longer and then understanding the role of relationships when I think about it. And I think about it in terms of respect for me, that’s, that’s one of the keys and that’s why I wrote the book, the power of respect and business. That’s where the title came from. And, and I think the biggest challenge for me was learning and understanding that that myself and all of us are on an emotional scale all the time. It’s part of our makeup. It’s different for different people clearly, but, and I’m not talking about a clinical emotional scale where we, where we need therapy, although that’s probably appropriate. Sometimes I’m talking about, you know, experiential scale, that’s sort of like when you feel you’re in a good place or you’re successful versus frustrating up the ladder to, to anger, et cetera.

And, and those kinds of things that get in our way of being effective with other folks, even if we disagree. So the understanding and learning that there’s an emotional scale there. And then for me, most importantly, learning what triggers my movement up and down that scale. And, and for me, that’s where the word respect came from because as I’m listening to somebody or a group of people, and either don’t begin to not like what they’re saying or don’t agree with what they’re saying, if I can in the next nanosecond, which is not always say in my mind, how can I respect these people? It causes me to pause just long enough not to go up that emotional scale to frustration or anger or beyond where now I’m completely ineffective and perhaps even causing conflict or worse in that process. And, and so, and it’s not about being perfect, cuz none of us are gonna be perfect at that. So to me, as I said, even in the book at the end, I said, if people could respect each other, even 5% more of the time, just think how much better everyone would be. So it’s not about perfection. It’s about keeping on trying to, to find a way to, to manage our emotional scale, to the benefit of ourselves and others.

I love that. And, and kind of obviously what you’re doing in that, by putting that thought in there is your are creating a moment of pause, aren’t you for yourself? You’re interrupting that flow because as human beings, we think that we are such great logical people. And yet the reality is we respond with our emotion first and our logic second because our emotional brain actually responds 24 times faster than our non-emotional brain. So you, whatever emotion has been triggered in as whether it’s a good one or a bad one that will be driving often our response, what we are thinking about it. And I love that such, you know, such a simple piece, how can I be respectful? I, you know, just that trigger of, of kind of looking into, is there a different way? And one of the things I’ve been trying really hard to do is swap judgment for curiosity.

So when I find myself going, well, I think that’s wrong instead going okay, interesting. I’ve not thought of it that way. Can you tell me more? I might still think they’re wrong at the end, but I have learned a little bit more along the way. And it’s about, I guess to your point. Yeah. I think our base human beings want to be listened to, they want to be understood and they want to be respected. And that doesn’t mean you don’t disagree, but you don’t disrespect. You find the commonality that you can agree on. And then you agree to disagree on the bits that you, you can’t, but you, that can be done respectfully. And you know, the gentleman in your book sounds like he did that so eloquently that actually created quite a persona for himself of being able to do just that have that ability to consciously not, not disrespect people, but still disagree and stay true to what you believe in your principles

Now. Absolutely. And I think your, your suggestion is such a great one saying I haven’t quite thought of it that way. Could you tell me more? It it’s, it’s interesting. That’s, that’s the same concept and it’s very effective because now you’re, you’re talking about wanting to understand, as you say what the other person’s thinking again, not necessarily to agree with it or not, but to understand it. And I think when we, the more we understand another person’s point of view, especially when we disagree with it, the more we can possibly find the little nuggets in there that are actually a connection that are actually a common ground within the concept. And, and therefore it makes the possibility of progress all, all the more possible everything’s so polarized these days, certainly, certainly in our country here, certainly on the political level and other levels, we were, we were passing by, there was a, a, a protest going on in a park.

And then there was an opposition to that protest. And we were, were passing by and small groups, three or four people on each side were standing there, inches from each other’s face screaming at one another. And you know, about their point of view. And I said to my daughter, who’s nine years old. I said, I said, Madeline. I said, just remember if everybody’s screaming, nobody’s listening. Yeah. And, and, and yet, you know, there, there’s valid points on both sides of that argument, thats being made, but there’s no way they’re gonna be heard. And, and, and there’s ultimately a common ground within there. Again, no one will get to under those circumstances.

Oh, that’s such great advice. And particularly to your children, it reminds me of another book. It sounds like I do all days, read books, promise I do work as well, but it’s called crucial conversations. And it talks about the fact that when there are moments in our life, when conversations become crucial. And by that, what we mean is there’s some emotion that’s involved and either one or both parties is fearful of something, you know, fearful of being made to be wrong, fearful of disagreement, fearful of being sold to whatever it is that there is some fear. And what happens is we respond with either violence or silence. So the violence piece, we get louder, we get angrier, we get more assertive in what we’re saying. I always liken. It’s playing Pictionary with my best friend. You know, if I don’t get it the first time she underlines it, I’m like, no, I can see it just D what its underlining is gonna help me.

That always, always get a picture of my moment when people are yelling. Cause I just think, well, you’re just saying the same thing louder. That’s not getting your point across. Right? Alternative is silence. People just bury the head in the sun, walk away and hope it will disappear. And neither one of those works. But if we, if you can work on where are the areas where we do agree, let’s find some common ground and now actually we’re getting closer together. So the bit we disagree on, it’s no longer we are in complete disagreement. We’ve now got an area that we can start to dig into to understand this there a way through what’s important to you. What’s important to me. How do we find that? But you’re right. When we are just all yelling at each other, no one’s listening. Nothing’s gonna change apart from that Penta panga that is now being fueled.

Isn’t it, by that, that frustration of not getting your point across. And I mean, clearly at the moment with the, with situations that we’ve, we’ve got ongoing around the world, a lot of that is spilling out into, into real conflict. But you see examples of that, don’t you in a much smaller scale in organizations where they’re not listening to each other, they’re not seeking to understand, even if they are then still gonna disagree, but at least they’ve got a better understanding of where the person’s coming from. What’s important to them, what they’re trying to achieve.

Oh, absolutely. And related to that goes back to another element of answer to your question areas that I’ve had to learn from and been challenging to me and, and the other that is, don’t be afraid to be wrong, you know, because you know, the fear of being wrong can certainly drive us in a lot of directions. Most of which, aren’t very good. It, it causes listening to shut down. It causes all kinds of things to happen. But the fact of the matter is where human beings and being wrong is not a problem. Now, if the other person continually wants to punish you for being wrong, that’s gonna be an unfortunate situation. And obviously you may wanna make a change. But the fact of the matter is for your own self, knowing that you made a mistake and figuring how to learn from it is much more rewarding than, than being afraid to, to confront that.

I love that. That is really great advice because you know, we do learn most often when we get something wrong, that’s where we get our growth. I was chatting somebody just yesterday about, I think it was Thomas Edison who said, I didn’t find one way to make a light bulb. I found 10,000 ways not to make the light bulb, but actually he didn’t let any one of those failures hold him back. He just kept going, okay, well I still believe it can be done. So, you know, if I keep going, I’m gonna find the way. And I think that’s kind of what we’ve gotta do in life. Isn’t it is keep going, is look for the lesson, change direction ever so slightly. And it, you, I think sometimes people think it’s gotta be such a super swing from where I am to, you know, to where I need to be. And actually it’s often just a millimeter shift, isn’t it? It’s that tiny little bit that needs to change in what we’re doing. That’s going to have the biggest impact. Right? So if you could go back and give the younger Charlie some advice, what would it be?

It would be along those same lines of, of, of listened longer to, to make sure you understand and not have to be so quick to come up with a solution or, or to have to be the one with the solution. And I think that, you know, the whole idea of, of understanding that sometimes it’s okay to eliminate what doesn’t work through your mistakes. As you just described with the Edison to get to where you need to go to. There was another, another lesson I would probably that I, again, learned much later. They do say youth is wasted on the young perhaps, but it is something Abraham Lincoln said. He, he said, I don’t like that, man. Very much. I must get to know him better. And, and so that kind of concept would’ve, would’ve benefited me sooner. And, and, and that’s the whole basis for me trying to share things now, anything I can share that, that, that I wanted to shared with me per se, and I don’t mean that as a negative, it just didn’t come across it. If that can help somebody learn sooner and, and be better then by all means, I think that’s the right purpose for life.

I love that. That is such such great advice. And I I’d forgotten that about Abraham Lincoln, but it’s true. Isn’t it, when we, when we see people and we immediately make a judgment and yet once we get to know them, once we put a bit of time and effort in, we often find that they’re not at all, like we’d assumed that we, the picture that we’d created in our mind that we weren’t gonna get on. Some of those people tend into people that become actually good friends. Cause we, we were dealing with a misconception weren’t we we’ve, we often we don’t respond to what’s happening. We respond to what we’ve made it mean it’ll trigger some think in our emotional state, as you so eloquently put earlier in earlier in today’s show that, you know, we will be somewhere in that range of emotions and often it’ll be something somebody said or did that just triggers something, reminds us of somebody that we didn’t like. And if we badge ’em in, I go, I don’t like this person to know them better. We might find that. Okay, well actually we do. We can get on really well,

Excuse me. Right. And you bring up another point when you talk about judgment. And again, I address this in, in the book as well in a chapter called all rise. And it’s about the difference between judgment and being judgemental. And you know, many times we’re, you know, we’re scolded or chose taught to feel bad about judgments. We might make, we all make judgments and we’re entitled to make judgment. That does not make us bad people when judgment, when a judgment rises, the level of being judgemental, then it’s when it crosses the line and it can get into all kinds of issues of escalation, conflict, ineffectiveness, whatever the case may be. And, and that may be a hard thing for people to understand. The story I told in the book was actually about me. When we lived in Chicago, we lived on a, a quiet side street and the lawn went right down to the curb and the street was there and there were stop signs at each end of our street.

And so when cars would stop at the one side from the right, then they would step on the gas and speed up to the next stop sign and stop again. Well, one day in particular, I was thinking about, and my kids were playing down near the curb and the car comes roaring past them at a high rate of speed. That that is actually a potential danger. The kids may walk out in the street, et cetera. And I thought to myself, my, my judgment of that person was boy, that person’s a jerk. And that’s my judgment. Now, if, and I, I keep that to myself, I’m entitled to that, right? Wrong, good or bad. But if I then started yelling or screaming at them or making hand gestures at them, that becomes judgemental. And now it’s gone to the point where it’s completely inappropriate. Even if nothing else happens from the escalation, I’ve certainly set an example for other people that is totally inappropriate. So, and then beyond that could be even, even a, a confrontation or, or whatever that goes on past that. And so it’s a slight difference, but we, we gotta stop beating ourselves up for our judgements, but just caution ourselves, not to take it to a judge level.

I love that. And that is such great advice, cuz yeah, we see it here. I mean I live in, I live in Grantham and it’s, you know, it’s a standing joke that you get to one of the roundabouts in, in our little town and everybody stops and nobody has any ability to drive anymore. It’s ridiculous. You just got what happens. You can drive the rest of the time that you get to this one roundabout. You’ve got no lane control, everybody pile, but you kind of, it’s now become funny. And I, you, I, I find myself sitting there and little girl be like, mum, what what’s happening? I’m like, it’s okay. Lev we we’re just waiting cuz you know, we’ll wait patiently. We’ll find, yeah, we’ll find our way through. But you see people getting really angry and really irate. And then you it’s like a pressure cooker of emotion cuz as you say, it’s not about owning that judgment.

It’s okay. It’s okay that I think that nobody knows how to drive as soon as they hit this island. But I don’t tell anybody that I don’t yell it out the seriously driving instructor because that isn’t gonna help anybody. And that’s just gonna fuel a fire, but right. That’s such a great way of thinking about it. Say actually, we’re okay to make a judgment, but it’s about to your point, not turning that into being judgmental and then adding fuel to that fire. So I could chat to you all day. I can even believe our half an hour nearly come to an and it’s absolutely flown through. But what I’d love to do is just share with our audience how they can get in touch with you and who you’d like to help.

Okay, great. So fir first of all, you know, we, we like to help companies because it not only helps the company itself, but helps the associates and probably the communities they work in. We do have a particular focus to family own businesses because through my career, I’ve come to learn the culture of changein a family owned business, which is slightly different than public businesses. However, we’re not exclusive in that regard. If, if someone wants to reach out the name of the company is experts in how LLC our website is experts in she should be able to find us on the website. We’re currently going to be revamping that and you’ll see more of a family business focus on it. When we’re done, you can reach me quite frankly, directly on a cell phone in the us at (847) 867-1549. We also have a podcast called the power of respect podcast, which is available on most pod, any podcast channels. If you’d like to take a listen. And if you’re interested in being a guest, please reach out to me.

Oh, that’s amazing. Charlie, it’s a joy as always. I seriously suggest anybody listening to this goes and checks out that podcast. I had the absolute privilege of being on it and I’ve listened to numerous episodes and it’s always full of insight. I will make sure that all of those details are in the show notes below. So if you didn’t catch those fast enough, please just look in the show notes and you can reach out and get in touch with Charlie, Charlie until next time. Thank you so much for sharing your time.

Thank you.

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