Why Vulnerability Creates Connected Leaders

Dear Evolving Leader,

I begin this letter with the recognition that there’s no such thing as a completely developed leader. Each of us who are seeking to grow, develop and advance needs to be continuously evolving. We are quite literally, a work in progress.

You may be asking yourself why you’re getting this on Thursday rather than Tuesday. The answer is because this is a really challenging topic for me to write about and I’ve re-written this letter several times.

Throughout my career, one of my biggest struggles has been in the relationship between confidence/strength and the ability to be vulnerable. How does the ability to resist and withstand connect with the ability to be open and susceptible? In my mind, this was about the choice of either/or rather than and.

There are areas of our evolution that are easier than others. Some take more time and some less. For me, the balance between strength and vulnerability has been a continual work in progress. These two don’t seem to naturally go together and there are times when I feel like they contradict each other.

All too often, we as leaders find ourselves unnecessarily guarded. Afraid to be real or raw. Hesitant to reveal a personal perspective in order to not compromise the professionalism for which we’re known. Recognizing that there are many times when we have better questions than we have answers.

While there’s a certain protection in not revealing our vulnerabilities, the price that’s paid is potentially becoming unrelatable as a leader. Leadership is about people and it’s about influence. As such, there’s no advantage to being unrelatable to the people we lead.

There’s a very thin line between being relatable and unrelatable. My experience has shown me firsthand that the line is labeled vulnerability.

Vulnerability isn’t based on weakness, it’s based on awareness. Awareness of our strengths, limitations and potential blind spots. Areas where we’re the catalyst for advancement and where we’re the roadblock to progression. Vulnerability is what opens the door to new conversations and new ideas. It’s at the core of innovation and re-invention. On so many occasions, vulnerability means standing in a place that’s necessary even when it’s not comfortable.

So why does vulnerability create connected leaders? Because it’s their source of confidence rather than contradiction. Their ability to withstand is based on their awareness and openness to understand themselves, others and the situations they face. They’re the first to admit their successes and failures. They openly share the experiences that have shaped who they are and they’re willing to say, “I don’t know,” … which is followed quickly by, “but I’ll find out.”

In a world that seems to have no filters, engaging in the conversation creates its own unique vulnerability. I don’t need to be vulnerable because it’s trending or socially driven. For me, my growth in this area is about one thing: Being relatable and valued as a person and a professional to the people with whom I’m connected. 

This is the space of confidence and strength driven by a continual evolution and achieved by a willingness to be open and aware.

In this space, I have come to value what it means to be an evolving leader and I hope that this letter contributes to your progression as well.




What does vulnerability mean to you? Where have you been willing to be vulnerable and built your confidence at the same time? Let me know in the comments.

Your Success Depends On Getting Out of Your Own Way

Can you identify a time when you were a roadblock to your own success?

Maybe you overthought something when you should have taken action. Maybe you weren’t receptive to a new/different idea because it challenged your norm or what you knew. Maybe you focused so much on others that you didn’t focus on yourself. Did you miss the forest for the trees?  Maybe you lacked an awareness. Whatever the case, it's time to get out of your own way.

I know a promising young entrepreneur. He’s extremely bright and talented. He connects and communicates with confidence, but he has one problem... He’s standing in his own way. He’s so focused on his own path and methods that he overlooks, or fails to consider, who his clients are and what they’re striving to achieve. He doesn’t take the time to self-reflect and gain the awareness of his own roadblocks.

Like so many of us, he doesn’t need more lessons, he simply needs to get out of his own way.

Assessment, Awareness and Advancement

The starting point of my work with people and companies is assessment. Most often, that involves an owner/exec/manager/leader completing an actual assessment. The assessment offers value and objectivity in understanding personal strengths and limitations. Quite simply, these are the two factors of awareness that either accelerate advancement or become potential roadblocks to success. These roadblocks are the things that stop or slow you from getting what you want.

What To Do With a Roadblock?

When we face roadblocks, the best option is to deal with them so they don’t stall progress.

Waze, the mapping app, has two primary objectives. The first is to provide the most efficient route to get you where you’re going and the second is to keep you moving. How does Waze accomplish this? Aside from a whole lot of technology, the app integrates user feedback and reporting on what’s going on in real time.

There’s nothing more frustrating than being stalled and feeling like you’re going nowhere. In that moment, Waze doesn’t give users lessons on how to drive, it helps them navigate the best course of action in dealing with the situation and current conditions. Waze relies on a community of users that help each other navigate the potential roadblocks that will be confronted along a chosen route of travel.

Your Community of Users

Like Waze Users (a.k.a. - Wazers) you can learn from your own community of connections. (a.k.a. - Mentors) Effective mentors don’t give you lessons on how to lead, they offer you awareness and guidance based on their real-life experiences. You get to choose the best course of action in dealing with current conditions and situations. Mentors help you develop an awareness of your strengths and limitations. They help you get out of your own way.

Five Ways Effective Mentors Help You Get Out of Your Own Way:

  1. They ask you the questions that make you think, reflect and increase your self-awareness. Ultimately, the questions they ask are helping define a course of action that helps you achieve what you want.
  2. They focus on you. They don’t focus on their achievements or accomplishments. Your successful outcome is the measure of their success and a failure is shared.
  3. Their influence takes a work with approach. They’re willing to be vulnerable and experiences are shared in a way that forms a relatable connection.
  4. They will challenge you to maximize your capacity and often times see things in you that you don’t see in yourself.
  5. They’re relentlessly objective with you and you being comfortable with every idea isn’t their primary objective. Your evolution and advancement is their “why.”


How do you deal with roadblocks in your awareness, understanding or career? Let me encourage you to get out of your own way.


P.S. Do you have a mentor who had a positive impact on your life? Share about them in the comments.

Complacency Will Kill Your Career

Have you ever thought one thing in your brain and stopped it from exiting your mouth? Do you have situations or circumstances that trigger this mental battle for you? The conflict between knowing what you want to say and valuing what’s appropriate to say. The struggle is real.

The Filter in Your Head 

This is what stops you from saying something even though you were thinking it. Behaviorally, the filter is known as emotional intelligence, reaction index control or empathy. No matter what you call it, it’s the relationship between knowing when and how to deliver a message in a way that’s constructive versus destructive. Developmental ahead of judgemental.


And for all of the filters that we use to help us not offend others, there are times we simply need to say what needs to be said. Dispense with the filtering in favor of increasing someone’s awareness about their cluelessness because that will give them the best opportunity for success.

Self-awareness is a gift that has the potential to benefit someone for a lifetime.

Stop Being the Victim

Complacency is driven by a lack of awareness of deficiencies. Mediocrity is the result of existing with or tolerating low quality, value or ability. There’s a direct relationship between complacency and mediocrity. Which came first the chicken or the egg?

While I’m appreciative of friends with filters and their ability to soften the blow; I’m truly appreciative of friends who will tell me what I need to hear rather than what I want to hear. These are people who are unwilling, and unable, to let me be the victim because they know the truly negative outcomes of this mentality.

While some are content in mediocrity, they wonder in amazement why coworkers who they’re competing against for promotions and pay raises are breaking through barriers and advancing their careers. Think about how many people look at what others have with little to no awareness of the effort that was required and expect to receive the same outcome apart from the work.

That being said, here’s a bit of unfiltered feedback that needs to be heard as a part of the development track for people who are the victim of their own complacency:

Complacency will kill your career. The sooner you recognize that the complacency you’re not confronting is driven by your tolerance of mediocrity and lack of awareness, the sooner you’ll be on the path to truly definable growth both personally and professionally. You’re not the victim. Stop playing the victim. You own you, so start defining you differently.  Better yet, start defining you so others don’t.

Definition and Accomplishment

The good news is there are many solutions to existing with complacency, and it starts with knowing what you want to achieve and pushing past self-imposed boundaries.

  • Knowing what you want in the long-term and creating short-term goals that will turn that vision into your reality is key. This starts with having a specific plan for each day. Create a mental or written checklist of what you’ll accomplish that day, and don’t settle for less. Better yet, don’t settle for only accomplishing those items. Overwhelming? Start with a list of three items that have to be accomplished every day. No compromise. These are the “must achieves”.
  • Surround yourself with people who don’t accept mediocrity from themselves and certainly won’t accept it from you. Who you hang out with defines a portion of who you become. Ask your coworkers, friends, and family to hold you accountable to your goals. Identify and connect with a mentor of excellence. Someone who’s succeeding in a way you admire and engage them in a conversation of awareness. Rather than resenting someone for their accomplishments, be receptive to the methods, habits and qualities that have led to their victories.

“It is remarkable how much mediocrity we live with, surrounding ourselves with daily reminders that the average is acceptable. Our world suffers from terminal mediocrity. Take a moment to assess all the things around you that encourage you to remain average. These things keep you powerless, unable to go beyond the limits that you have arbitrarily set for yourself. Take your first steps towards mastery by removing everything in your environment the represents mediocrity, removing your arbitrary limits. Try surrounding yourself with friends that expect more of you than you do. Didn't some of your best teachers, your coaches, your parents expect more of you?”

An excerpt from Mastery by Stewart Emery

Final Thoughts

If you know someone who gets out of bed to do something poorly, consider the positive impact on their life if you helped them understand the value of getting out of bed to do it well. After all, the cure for cluelessness can be found in awareness.

Don’t ever let complacency kill your career. The only person you’ll have to blame will be you.


Come on… give me your comments. Agree or disagree? Jump into the conversation. What do you think?

Every Person in Your Organization Must Understand This One Principle

Every person in your organization must understand this one principle - what they do in their role contributes to the profitability of your company. Profitability isn’t simply a goal to be achieved, it’s the outcome of the work your people do every day:

How they serve your customers.
How they think about the problems that have to be solved.
How they pay attention to detail.
How they lead and follow.

It’s the direct result of your commitment to them and their commitment to you.

Reality Check

You can make a profit and still not maximize profitability. That’s because profit is an absolute number - revenue minus expenses. While profitability is a relative number - a percentage that expresses the ratio between profit and revenue.

If profit measures how much money a company is earning, profitability measures the impact of your people on your business.

When two companies make the same profit and one is significantly more profitable, go straight to the people as the reason why.

The How

Simon Sinek wrote a great book titled Start With Why. If you haven’t read it, let me encourage you to do so.  Interestingly enough the subtitle of the book is even more intriguing to me: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Did you catch that? For all of the emphasis on why, when it comes to maximizing profitability through people, the most important word is HOW.

How does every person in your organization contribute to the profitability of your company in their role? That’s a statement first and a question second by design.

It’s the responsibility of leaders to consistently and relentlessly communicate how what people do, day in and day out, directly contributes to the profitability of their company.

When people are developed with the awareness of their impact, they have a lens through which to consider their actions, choices and decisions.

When this occurs, they have the ability to affect outcomes. Why? Because they can then answer the question of how on their own.

Have the Conversation

Clarity comes from understanding. Defining someone’s contribution to success allows them to be sure that what they do matters. If you can’t, don’t or won’t establish the how, you’re likely left with an assumption.

Do you really want to treat profitability as an assumption? Do you want to assume that people know the impact of their choices, decisions and actions or would you rather know with certainty?

Clarity is the result of communication.

It’s concerning to me how often really strong leaders are simply willing to assume that communication about profitability is occurring. Have the conversation with people. Engage them in awareness and understanding. Pose the scenarios and require them to think it through and work it through.

People drive the performance of a company. From the entry-level to the C-Suite. If you disagree, then I’m going to ask you why that person has a job in your company. We all benefit when we’re challenged to think about how what we do contributes to the profitability of our company.

To begin the conversation just ask someone what they did really well today or how they could have done better today. The question leads to awareness which gives you insight and that insight allows you to make better choices and decisions to achieve better outcomes through people.


Make a point over the next week to ask several of your employees, team members or associates how they contribute to the profitability of your company in their role. Do they have the answer? Do you see their awareness, or lack of awareness, reflected in their choices, decisions and problem-solving ability?

Have you made a conscious effort to consistently communicate how individual roles contribute to profitability? Have you created a culture in which your people can answer that question independently?

Final Thought

As a leader, never forget that every area of your business, including profitability, is about one thing.


Here’s to communication, clarity and results,


P.S. Let me know your thoughts on this week's blog in the comments.

Family Favoritism is Alive and Well… and Limiting the Growth of Your Business

There’s no good outcome from allowing nepotism to be the deciding factor in a family member or friend getting a job within your company.  When you favor a friend or relative into the business, with little to no consideration of alignment to a role, you’re doing more harm than good to both them and the business.

It doesn’t mean that family and friends don’t have a place. After all, how does a business become a family business if there’s no family involved? Put simply, when you hire or promote people, including family members, who aren’t the best fit for the job, you’re encouraging misalignment.


No amount of love aligns a person to a role that doesn’t fit their behavioral style, leadership profile or driving forces for coming to work every day. Ask yourself if family members arrive at their positions on purpose or if they are placed in those roles with a healthy dose of “good luck” as their primary strategy for success. Misalignment between a person and their role isn’t resolved as a result of your intention for someone to be successful.

A Course of Action

In the two decades of serving the needs of leaders/owners of family-owned businesses, I’m continually struck by the compromise of performance standards driven by the belief and subjectivity that just because someone shares a lineage or friendship, they're going to bring superior performance to a role.

The best thing that leaders in family business can do to course-correct is to bring objectivity to the decisions of who gets a job within the company.

The Back-Story of Nepotism

Jaine was under-performing in her role and she knew it. For two years, her life was a self-described “living hell” and she wasn’t shy about sharing her opinion. She was the director of marketing. Her mother, and co-owner of the business, asked me to develop an understanding of where she was at and what should be done to correct the situation.

When I spoke with Jaine, here is exactly how she started the conversation: “I was put in this role because I’m my mother’s daughter, not because it’s what I wanted to do. She wants me in the company because that’s her vision and dream. I was an art major in college and my mom thought that my creativity would define my success in marketing. I wanted a job after graduation so I went along with it and I’ve regretted that decision ever since.”

This is the nightmare of nepotism within family businesses. Today, Jaine is a curator for an art museum in a major metro and she values her mom as a parent, rather than being frustrated by her as a business owner.

Fit Over Family

Within the business, there must be value in fit over family. Hiring someone simply because they’re related, but not aligned with their role, only prohibits or avoids family conflict for a moment.

On the other side of that decision are blind spots that are seen by everyone with the exception of the person that decided to favor family over fit.

5 Things to Consider When Hiring Family into the Business

Ask these questions if you’re looking to eliminate blind spots when hiring family into the business. Each of these have an emphasis that considers fit over family.

  1. Why is this family member the best person for the job? How have they earned this role ahead of other candidates?
  2. What are their unique skills and how will their talents and abilities deliver value to the role?
  3. What tension will be created within the family and the business by placing this person in this role?
  4. Am I hiring this person because they are the best fit and aligned to the role or am I selecting this person to avoid family conflict?
  5. What thought or perspective haven’t I considered? What are the potential blind spots?

Until next week,

Have you seen nepotism “in action”? I’d like to hear what you think or have you share your perspective and experiences.

The Growth of a Business Requires Constant Refinement

Thinking Differently About Growth

The growth of a business is fueled by the growth of people. Both are based on constant refinement and evolution. Small changes, or those of a bigger variety, should drive improvement and clarification as things move from simple to more complex.

If you’re growing and advancing, you’re consistently making refinements in your approach. 

The Morph

In the nearly two decades since I started Perpetual Development, my commitment to the growth and development of people, and the companies that they’re a part of has never changed. I know the following to be true: When you help people maximize and achieve their potential, they will do the same exact thing for you.

With this commitment in mind, when changes or refinements are required within my company they get made. I’ve never been afraid of morphing--the transformation that allows us to evolve, grow and achieve our potential.

The Growth Exchange

I learned a long time ago to never fall so in love with a method that it blinded me. Doing so would keep me from the objective of better serving our clients and achieving better outcomes.

If you invest in people, they will invest in you. Their growth is my growth. Your expansion is my expansion. It’s a growth exchange. The challenges of your growth are the challenges of my growth. Personally and professionally this has been proven to me over and over again.

And it all comes down to awareness.

It’s about:

  • recognizing strengths, shortcomings, failures, and successes.
  • reflecting and recognizing changes in direction and strategy
  • thinking bigger and beyond boundaries.


Our growth is a series of exchanges connected to the growth of others.

Our Maturity

The full breadth of our development, individually or organizationally, is truly perpetual. As I have evolved, so has the company. And as Perpetual Development has evolved so has the relationship and work we share with our family of clients.

Interestingly...most of our morphs have come as a result of people whose intention was helping me maximize my potential--growth exchange in action.

Last week I discussed the evolution taking place at Perpetual Development and how time away, intentional planning, and a willingness to go beyond boundaries has led to an evolved mission here at PDI.

It’s also what led to the new look and feel of PerpetualDevelopment.com. We’ve made it more clear, concise, and user-friendly so that there’s no question what we’re up to. And as always, I welcome your feedback. Thanks for being a part of this journey with us.

Here’s to continual evolution,


Clinging Tightly to the Past Can Limit Your Future Growth

A big thank you to each of the guest writers who contributed to the Thoughtwave Blog in the month of June. Each of them brought their own unique perspective to their topic and to their writing.

For me, the month of June was about stepping back from my writing to consider the WHY behind my writing. When you clearly understand why you’re doing something, there’s a higher level of connection to what you do and what you produce as an output. My writing break gave me that exact perspective.

What is Evolution?

This isn’t about asking and answering that question on a grand scale, so let’s look at it on a more practical level.

Have you ever experienced a breakthrough or had a breakout moment? A time when you really had to push beyond boundaries to get to something that brought you to another level?

If you have, then you can fully appreciate the clarity, focus and purpose that’s achieved as an outcome and the kind of results that are both possible and attainable.

Evolution is a process of change and continuous growth in a defined direction. It’s about moving from a simple level to a more complex level and valuing the progression as a part of achieving better results. It’s about our development.

Look and Laugh

During my break, I took the time to read some of my early articles and posts. I looked at them and laughed. My actual thought was, “Why in the world would anyone read these?”

The reason I asked the question is because I was looking at my writing through a different lens. My writing has evolved… thankfully. What it was then, isn’t what it is now. I expect more of myself and you should expect more of me as a part of the Thoughtwave Community.

My writing is better because of inputs and coaching from people who were willing to tell me what I needed to hear rather than what I wanted to hear, and they did/do so with an invested intent and purpose. These are people that I value. These are the people that have given me the ability to visually see my own evolution. I know that because I can look back at where this began and smile in considering where the company is now. I know that because of the investment they’ve made in my growth.


There’s no space for mediocrity when you’ve seen and experienced what growth and evolution produce.

Clinging Tightly

We all know people who cling so tightly to the past that they can’t see the need for growth into the future. They fail to evolve because they choose not to evolve. They hold on because they’re unwilling to let go.

For me, this viewpoint is suffocating because it stops evolution and growth in their tracks. It denies the future of opportunity and values something simple because of the work something more complex would require.

It’s not uncommon to see entrepreneurs who started a company cling too tightly to the past and fail to evolve as their industry, business, customers, opportunities and the world advance.

Meaningful Evolutions

Forward-thinking leaders foster growth and evolution as a requirement within their companies and among their people.

They see a direct connection between how their company brand evolves in relationship with their customers, clients, vendors, and industry. Growth-oriented leaders look to provoke connection through image and emotion in the customers’ minds while valuing the core elements of their unique identity.

This deliberate and purposeful progression is based on understanding what people want, need and desire from their company.

We’ve Come Full Circle

Perpetual Development, as the name might imply, is about continually evolving. We’ve seen so many changes over the last 20 years that it’s good to pause, consider and reflect.

In the last two years alone, we’ve started Thoughtwave, expanded and increased our social media presence, said goodbye to some and hello to many. While change is often necessary, evolution is impactful. The difference between change and evolution is that evolution must include development and/or advancement.

If, as I said earlier, clinging tightly to the past suffocates me, the continual advancement of Perpetual Development excites and frees me to consider all of the future evolutions that are possible.

Now Is The Time

It’s time for an evolution at Perpetual Development - One that remains true to the core of our identity but better reflects where we see ourselves heading into the future. One that values knowing both who we want to attract as a part of our community and who we don't.

The clarity of an evolution isn’t discovered in an arrogant view. It’s discovered in a purposeful view. 

To that end, we’re moving forward with purpose and on purpose. We’re headed in a forward direction and with greater clarity.

Final Thought

We’re glad you’re a part of our community, appreciate your readership and value your evolution.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

P.S. View our updated Mission, Vision, and How statements below (click to enlarge) and let me know your thoughts in the comments.


PDI Mission


(click to enlarge)

Family Business. The Legacy of Generations.

Jordan Fee is a 4th-generation owner of Fee Insurance Group.

Recently, Jordan shared his thoughts on a series of questions centered on the business of family business. This candid insight from Jordan revealed his thoughts and perspectives as a next gen business owner.

Fee has been an independent, family-owned company for over 130 years. Jordan’s father, Allen, is the company CEO and his uncle, Bob, is the company president. Jordan is a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Certified Authority on Workers Compensation (CAWC), and a Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist (CLCS).

Personally… Jordan and his wife, Heather, welcomed their first child in 2018.

Tell me about your earliest memories of being a part of a family business.
JF: Some of the earliest memories I have are of my mom bringing my brother and me to the office to see my dad, uncle, and grandpa. It was always a big deal for us because we got to have a pop every time.

What was the first work you can remember doing for the company? 
JF: Every year at Christmastime, we received calendars and my dad would always have my brother and I go out, around the community, and deliver them to some of our clients. It was always kind of a big deal.

When do you consciously remember saying, “I want to become a part of the family business”? 
JF: I always had a great appreciation for what my dad, grandpa, and my uncle did in regards to community, the relationships they built with people, and the type of work they did in helping people reduce risk.

Right out of college I went and did an internship in a medical malpractice insurance company in Minnesota. It was a great experience. I wanted to apply the same traits of work ethic and building relationships that my dad, uncle and grandpa exhibited. I wanted to do what my dad did but didn’t necessarily know it would mean the family business specifically.

The older I became, my early 20’s, the more evident it was to me that I had a connection to the insurance industry. Helping people with their insurance needs and reducing their risk was something I would enjoy and be comfortable having a conversation around. I also knew that I had room to grow and would be challenged in a good way.

This is when being part of the family business became a serious deal for me. I knew I really wanted to be a part of Fee as a company. It’s definitely not an easy thing to do. I would challenge people who think it is; it’s actually harder working with family than it would be working in a company where people aren’t related.

Why is that?
JF: The expectations placed on me as a Fee were automatic. They were way more than what I would have experienced working with a company that wasn’t founded and led by family. The separation of family and the business is a challenge. We work together, but we also want to be able to enjoy each other outside of work. We are passionate and committed to our business. We also want to be able to enjoy family barbecues and holidays without work being the center of every conversation. Even when we’re dealing with something challenging or intense at the office. Someone who doesn’t work with family wouldn’t have this level of understanding or have to deal with the family work balance and blend.

How do you define your own identity given the family relationships and legacy? How do you work on defining you every day in this business?
JF: It’s definitely difficult.  You grow up and you come into this business and you see what others have done to make it successful. I’ve seen and heard the stories of what my grandfather did to grow this business by building relationships and establishing trust. I see the same commitment from my father and my uncle as well. I want to be known for the same level of relationship and trust with people. At the same time, I understand I’ve got to be my own person. I’m not them. I’ve got my own style. I’ve got different ways I go about things. I handle problems and situations differently than they do. The struggle, and the thing that I remind myself of continuously is, I’ve got to just be myself in all situations. I can’t constantly think, “Should I have handled it this way because that’s the way my dad would have handled this?” I’ve had to determine my own thoughts on situations while always keeping in mind what’s best for the company. It’s important that I know who I am and focus on my trajectory as a professional while valuing the perspectives shared by my father and my uncle.

So, when you started at the ground level, was that your idea? Was it your dad’s idea? Was it a requirement? 
JF: Allen, Bob, and I all agreed that’s where I was going to have to start in order to get a good understanding of how the business works and operates. If I earned a place of leadership, I would have a good understanding of why things happen, how success is achieved, why problems occur, and so forth. Entry-level work was a good place to start to be able to give me the best picture of how the work got done. How we deal with clients, how we deal with companies, and how we deal with our employees. This was about looking at the complete picture of the business.

Not long ago, you became an owner of the company. Did you always know that you wanted to work towards becoming an owner?
JF: You know, that’s a great question. I think once I got to the point where I decided the company meant enough to me that I wanted to be a part of it, as an individual, in the family, with this name, I knew that ownership was a potential. It wasn’t guaranteed and it was going to have to be earned over many years. Which it was. I feel comfortable in my leadership and abilities. But yet, I felt like the name, the company, this legacy went beyond my abilities. They meant enough to me that if I earned the opportunity, I would be honored to represent the ownership team of this organization because I believe in the mission, I love the legacy, and I want to do anything I can to preserve it into the future.

What is the most rewarding part of family business? 
JF: I think the most rewarding thing for me is the leadership and the people that have come before me. The people that made this company and made the brand what it is today across the state and beyond. To have that attached to my last name, that’s pretty rewarding. I’m very proud to be able to say, “I’m a Fee”. Again, it’s because of the leadership here, the people that are a part of the company, and all the loyal customers and clients that have trusted us to handle insurance and risk management for them over the lifetime of this organization. That trust in us, that’s rewarding to me. It’s rewarding for me to be viewed as a trusted advisor in this organization and continue to be viewed as a trusted advisor with our customers.

If you were to share one thought with NextGen leaders, who are pursuing ownership in a family business, what would it be? 
JF: Something that my dad always has stressed with us is never lose sight of your foundation and what’s important to you. For any NextGen thinking about leadership and ownership, I’d offer the same thought. If the legacy of your family business is important to you, if that’s your foundation, always remember that and never lose sight of that focus.

The legacy of Fee, moving it forward and getting even better for the people that have trusted in us for so long. That’s my foundation. Family business, just like any other business, doesn’t come without challenges. Always rely on the foundation of why you’re doing what you’re doing. I remind myself of this foundation regularly. Why I’m here, why I believe in Fee, how it aligns with who I am, and where I’d like to see it go into the future. This is how I know I’m in the right place and how NextGen family business leaders and owners will know they’re in the right spot.

This is the foundation that gives me the confidence that I’m doing what I want to do in further defining the legacy and leadership of our company.

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Let us know your thoughts on this week's guest blog in the comments.

Vacations and Breaks Exist for a Reason

There’s a reason that breaks and vacations exist. Both provide the opportunity for us to gain or regain perspective. Both give us the opportunity to energize, re-energize and gain even greater clarity.

In my world, things move quickly and there’s never a lack of goals, achievements or objectives to accomplish. Many times self-induced, the pace of my days is consistently faster than slower. It’s how I’m wired and I’m grateful that this is how I was created. I’ve learned to embrace it and stopped apologizing for it a long time ago. It’s not for everybody, which is good, because this isn’t everybody’s life.

To take on each day as a new day and not rehash the day before is a view I value. It’s more about bringing a fresh perspective to a new day than it is about not reflecting on what occurred in previous days. In order to maintain a fresh perspective, breaks and vacations are a requirement, not an option.

In order to write well, you learn to value consistency. Writing coaches have told me that in order to become a better writer, I need to write between 500 and 2,000 words a day about anything. I just need to write. The same could, and should, be said about most things that we look to master. We must value the consistency of the practice and the work.

And yes… believe it or not, consistency also relates to knowing how to take breaks and vacations well. Not a view I understood for many years and one I’ve come to appreciate. Why? Not solely because of age or wisdom, but rather because of me knowing me. It’s about my own self-awareness. After all, the better I am to myself, the better I am for you.

The value of simple logic that makes sense is based on one thing...SIMPLE. I’ve often thought that the following sign should literally be hung outside my head on the front of my face. (Got the visual?)

“BRB. In order for me to be the best version of me, a break/vacation was required.”

A bit of a different approach; let me encourage you to think beyond boundaries about what you just read.

So, here’s what’s happening. I’m going to take a vacation and I’m going to take a writing break from Thoughtwave. During the month of June, I’ve lined up four people to contribute their thoughts and perspectives through their writing. Each guest has selected a topic and view that’s unique to them individually. Each person is at a different stage or place in their life and/or career. I trust you’ll enjoy reading what they have to share.

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with each of you in July with even greater clarity and energy around my writing and around Thoughtwave.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful

P.S. The guest bloggers will be revealed on my Instagram (@PerpetualDevelopment) today!

The Five Generations of Leaders


By 2020 there will be five generations of leaders in the workplace.

The oldest generation in the workplace, the Traditionalists, were born between 1900 and 1945. They were told by their parents that they were to be seen and not heard. They grew up during the Great Depression and World War II and truly understand what it means to persevere during tough times. Traditionalists consider work a privilege, which may lead to why they’re not afraid of long hours and expect the same of others.

The youngest generation in the workplace, Gen Z, was born after 1997. They are extremely technologically advanced, absorbing tons of new information daily. Generation Z does not rely on their parents as much as previous generations as technology has made it possible for them to start working at an earlier age than their parents.

The drastic differences among these generations can create a competitive advantage if we take the time to transform how we connect, lead, develop and manage.

“Innovation comes ultimately from a diversity of perspectives. So when you combine ideas from different industries or different cultures, that’s when you have the best sense of developing groundbreaking ideas.” - Frans Johansson


The Medici Effect

In 2004 Frans Johansson published The Medici Effect, an exploration of why robust innovation happens at the “intersection” where ideas from diverse cultures, disciplines, and industries collide. He highlights that “all new ideas are a combination of existing ideas.”

The intersection of generations in the workplace is exactly where opportunity resides. However, there are some generational assumptions to be avoided and some uncomfortable truths to confront.

Generational Assumptions

  1. Traditionalists are technologically incapable.
  2. Boomers are micro-managers.
  3. Gen X’ers are slackers.
  4. Millennials need constant praise and think everyone deserves a trophy.
  5. Gen Z’ers rather spend time on their phone than experience real life.

Uncomfortable Truths

  1. Everyone is sick of generational assumptions.
  2. Employees from all generations aren’t sure they understand their company’s strategy.
  3. All generations want to improve the customer experience.
  4. All generations understand the need to make technological advancements, but their organizations are slow to implement new technology.
  5. Having multiple generations in the workplace is an asset, not a liability.

So how do you connect, lead, develop and manage five generations? After assuring that they all understand your strategy, a good place to start would be with a defined purpose and common objective. Once the goal is established, focus on what each individual does well and don’t make assumptions about which generations will contribute what to the goal. Look for individuals from different generations who have common interests and pair them together to work towards a solution. Allow them to find the intersection of their ideas.


Where have you experienced the intersection of ideas between multiple generations that created, or will create, a decidedly more impactful outcome for your project or company?

How will you engage the views of multiple generations to eliminate blind spots in your approach and/or decisions?

Be authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.


P.S. Let me know your answers to today’s Thoughtstarters in the comments.