Richard Earnest is the founder of Earnest Enterprises and author of the book, “Leading with Ethics and Humanity — Do you have the guts?” that came out in August 2022. Richard graduated by the US Naval Academy in 1964 to become an officer and highly decorated pilot during the Vietnam War. Then, having had over 30 years of experience as a top executive in high-tech industries, he’s a mentor and coach of young entrepreneurs and leaders who face tough challenges and opportunities. In this conversation, we explore Richard’s career, the impact of having been in war, serving as an officer. We examine the qualities of resilience and agility in leadership, the ways that leaders can bring ethics and humanity into their daily practice to build an effective culture and business. And we look at the difference of leadership in the military, politics and business.
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Full transcript via Otter.ai
ethics, business, richard, resilience, leader, life, ego, feel, courage, listening, leadership, hardship, happen, minter, book, important, authenticity, experience, find, vietnam
Richard Earnest, Minter Dial
Minter Dial 00:06
Hello, welcome to Minter Dialogue, episode number 545. My name is Minter Dial and I’m your host for this podcast, a most proud member of the Evergreen Podcast Network. For more information or to check out other shows on this network, go visit evergreenpodcasts.com. So, this week’s interview is with Richard Earnest. Richard is the founder of Earnest Enterprises and author of the book, “Leading with ethics and humanity. Do you have the guts?” came out in August 2022. Richard graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1964, to become an officer and a highly decorated pilot during the Vietnam War. Then having had over 30 years of experience as a top executive in high tech industries, he’s now a mentor and coach of young entrepreneurs and leaders who face tough challenges and opportunities. In this conversation with Richard, we explore his career, the impact of having been in war, serving as an officer. We examine the qualities of resilience and agility and leadership, the ways that leaders can bring ethics and humanity into their daily practice to build an effective culture and business. And we look at the difference of leadership in the military, politics and business. You’ll find all the show notes on Minter dial.com. And please consider to drop in your rating and review. And don’t forget to subscribe to catch all the future episodes now for the show. Richard Ernest, how fantastic to get you on my show. I listened to your voice, read your book, and then said, well, shoot, I need to get this guy on my podcast. And like that you replied. And here we are. Really, literally, hours later, doing this recording? I’m thrilled to have you on my show, Richard, in your own words, how would you like to describe who are you?
Richard Earnest 02:09
Oh, boy, I am just a regular guy who has over-achieved many times in my life. I have succeeded. I’ve failed. I’ve succeeded again. I think I finally at this age, understand who I am. My wife even knows better who I am. But that’s who I am.
Minter Dial 02:32
So, she’s like Facebook, you know? She follows the likes. Yes. It’s not funny. Well, I want to just talk a little bit more about your background, dig in on some of the elements because your book was tremendous. It’s all about leading with ethics and humanity. And it feels for me that you obviously had many things that happen in your childhood that were interesting. But something you don’t talk so much about is your experience in Vietnam. So, you graduated from Annapolis in 1964. And then you flew over 300 combat missions in Vietnam. When you look back on those years, what does that what did that what are those? What did that experience bring to you as a human being?
Richard Earnest 03:26
What it did for me personally, was, let me examine myself in in a moment of literally mortal danger. And how would I react to that? How will I respond? Will I freeze? Will I be calm? While it’d be something in between? Will I be angry? Will I have a thirst for it? I had no idea. So, I guess what I take from all of that, and I was very lucky. Having only 320 320 missions and came back with a few holes once in a while, but never had this wind back, so to speak. So, I was lucky from that standpoint. I felt honored to be able to lead men that was always all mad then men into battle and brought everybody home. That was my greatest accomplishment to be able to say that and do that and complete the mission.
Minter Dial 04:31
And what does such a set of experiences. I mean, obviously it was over several years. In Vietnam, you got you were decorated many times over. But what’s it like bringing such an experience back to what I call the pedestrian world of business and sort of the normal life of citizens?
Richard Earnest 04:51
Well there and there is an advantage and I’ve talked about that in a couple of blogs that I’ve done it Here’s the advantage when you’re in business, and especially if you’re a leader, and if you’re the CEO, and there’s nobody to report to accept the board, you run into many crises, we’ll call them crises. They happen frequently. But you, but you end up with a real sense of calm, even in those crises, that helps the people that are working for you. Because after all, they’re not going to kill you. They might fire you, you’re not going to die. And when you’re facing death, over and over, that calmness settles into yourself. Okay, let’s just, let’s relax here. Let’s talk it through. Let’s figure this out. And that’s a big help.
Minter Dial 05:54
Well, it’s about putting perspective. A lot of you talk about it in the book, awesome. But this notion of resilience, I can’t help but thinking having hard core experiences of hardship, bring an element of protection, or perspective when the hardship isn’t that big. And therefore, is some kind of suit of resilience when it’s just, you know, hate us, and we missed the budget. It’s not if it doesn’t kill me, it will make me stronger kind of feeling.
Richard Earnest 06:32
Yes. And a lot of that, at least in my case, came from my childhood from my father, who had been had worked in steel mills, all his life, everybody did where I came up from Pittsburgh, simple man, but his rock-solid values. And I got to learn from my mistakes, sometimes the hard way. Sometimes I didn’t get to do what I wanted to do, because I didn’t put in the work. And he reminded me simply, you didn’t work on this hard enough. You don’t, you didn’t earn it, and you’re not going to do it. And that was the end of the conversation. And I learned that in many different ways, some of it from him. And some of just the surroundings, my neighbors were the same way. If you lied to your neighbor, that was just as bad as lying to your family.
Minter Dial 07:28
I mean, at the end of the day, somehow, you’re lying to yourself.
Richard Earnest 07:33
Exactly. Exactly. So, you get to examine, what do I believe in? Where are my limits? Where do I feel like, is there a place that I can’t be convinced to go to? Because I think it’s wrong. You learn that over the years, you hone that vase, if you would, about where are you willing to go? Where aren’t you willing to go? Where are your limits? And that’s a very big help.
Minter Dial 08:07
So, obviously, at Annapolis, the glorious, wonderful United States Naval Academy, you get this training to become an officer. And you would explain to be just before we recorded how they did some hardship training, to, let’s say, toughen you up or prepare you for hardship, for true hardship. And yet, it’s very difficult to know how you’re going to handle that pressure when it happens. Do you think that there’s, what is your idea of building resilience today? I mean, at short of, you know, sending people to war, how can normal people build resilience and understand that type of perspective without having to go and fly through 20 missions?
Richard Earnest 08:54
Well, I think it very, very quickly and easily and perhaps simply, you have to set standards for yourself. How do I how am I going to improve? How am I going to get through the day? Eating properly? Sones simple exercise. I don’t feel like exercising this morning. Yes, but you told yourself you would. So, go and do it. Even if you don’t feel like those little repetitive things. Build a resilience in you to say, you know, I can do this. I will do this in spite of what my ego or my whole body is telling me that I want to do.
Minter Dial 09:44
So, it’s a level of accountability, self-accountability.
Richard Earnest 09:48
Yes. Yes, you are leading yourself at the end of the day. And if you don’t do that everybody will notice including you. Do you subscribe
Minter Dial 09:59
to It upon must make one’s bed in the morning?
Richard Earnest 10:03
I do. Absolutely, absolutely I do. And you know why. And this was told this an admiral Admiral McRaven, gave this speech, he was a Navy Seal, what’s the best benefit of making your bed in the morning, you’ve already accomplished something. And when you come home tired, you’re coming home to a maid bed, how delightful.
Minter Dial 10:27
It is a little bit of something you were talking about before with me, which is you’re you’re behaving without someone watching you. This is something that you are doing for you, by you and your end. And you’re holding yourself accountable for an action that is, let’s say, a choice. But it’s a choice that you made. And that kind of feeling of accomplishment gives you a good start to the day.
Richard Earnest 10:53
Yes, indeed it does. Because there are many challenges small and large, that everyone goes through during a day. And if you are just coasting through the day, and letting things happen, as they do, instead of you directing effort towards what’s happening, he can begin to start to feel like a victim, or you’re out of control, gee, these things are happening in the day, and I didn’t intend them to happen. Well, you can start differently and make it be your reality, not the world’s reality.
Minter Dial 11:33
So, when you came back from Vietnam in 67, obviously, or I don’t know what’s actually set us when you went but you came back, obviously, the United States was in a huge amount of turmoil. And, and having spoken to many veterans who’ve come back from combat duty, there’s a sense of triviality in life. And I’m having to imagine you had to face a bit of that as well, the you know, the difference between the adrenaline, that camaraderie, the sense of risk, that you are facing the coming back and says, Oh, did you clean the dishes? Or, you know, do we are we going to make the number two this this week? That the sales guys drilling into you or whatever? How do you How did you deal with that? And that, and how do you help others? Bring that sense of purpose, even when there’s not that gun or bullet staring over your head?
Richard Earnest 12:37
That’s not surprised. But that’s a difficult and deep question. And I’ll try to answer quickly. When I got back, and the triviality of the whole thing, turned out to be monstrous for me because my 320 at the mission. In 1972, I hit a bridge on the bridge in North Vietnam. It’s the same bridge that I bombed on my very first mission in 1967. And I came off the target got out to sea, and I was thinking, What have I accomplished? What have we accomplished? So, there’s a sense of futility there? That was quite powerful. Now, to your question. When I got back, what you have to train yourself to do, and you this won’t happen overnight. People were complaining about veterans, they were spitting at us they were doing I came back to having garbage strewn on my lawn. So, So you absorb that, and you have to understand that to some, yes, anger, that that subsides after a while. You have to be willing to commit to achieve whatever you’re doing, as we’re raising children that I have to have at the time. Their desires are important to them. And here’s where a leader needs to be able to adjust what they need is important to them. And, therefore, it’s important to me, is that the same as bombing a target, no, but it’s isn’t as important to them or more so than that was to me back then. It takes time. But you can adjust.
Minter Dial 14:24
So, finding some way of being service of service to people in important way, like being a father being present at the time that the child says, I need you to help me do this little truck, this Lego piece, nothing.
Richard Earnest 14:41
That’s a key being of service. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve really committed my life to be of service to somebody or some group for something, and that’s what fulfills me today.
Minter Dial 14:54
You’ve also been a politician. I know you’ve been a mayor and a councilman And a failed House of Representative as I understood it.
Richard Earnest 15:04
Yes. And I praise the Lord every day for having lost that race.
Minter Dial 15:10
Well, out of out of failure comes massive, lovely lessons, right? Indeed, one of the other things that is strikes me as so important as a discussion, and it’s an it’s kind of fun with your last name, Ernest is knowledge of self. And we’re talking a little bit about how facing a massive risk in battle, you don’t know until you’re there. And it’s important to face that with a knowledge of self somehow that gets you through the hardship, being a POW, and being tortured, and how does one countenance that type of suffering. But in general, again, most people haven’t had the chance, I say, chance the experience of having to go to war like that, and get to confront themselves in their demons at that point. And yet today, I feel like one of the biggest challenges we have, and perhaps where the crisis of leadership is happening, is because of people not having a good sense of self. And it almost make it my constant theme in these types of interviews that I do is people who have faced near death experiences, or monstrously important experiences and monstrously being, you know, life threatening, and such. They, they come to realize a little bit more about themselves and the importance of knowing themselves and doing that work, accepting the fact that they have fear, failure, nerves, imperfections. But it seems like a lot of people today struggle to or don’t wish to know themselves deeply, what is your thought?
Richard Earnest 16:52
I hesitate to ascribe that, that definition to people until I know them better, when you read with what’s happening in the news, or when you hear what politicians are saying, and when you see what’s going on in the world, one can make the assumption that we’re all going a little bit crazy. I don’t choose to believe that. I don’t believe that I think people in their hearts are very good and want to be good circumstances in life might change that perception. But they start out that way. And I do have hope for humankind, we better get our act together because we are making some mistakes. But I do have an innate faith that people want to do the right thing, whatever that means to them.
Minter Dial 17:52
Well, that really speaks to ethics. And I stand corrected for such a huge generalization. And so, doing the right thing is all about ethics, which is really the nature of what your book is. And as I was looking at your profile and your experience, I was looking at how many different CEO jobs you had, they’re usually two to three years, fairly short stints to come in to kick some butt, if you will, or at least ship, you know, get the ship going in the right direction again. Yes, it typically in those situations, those are if you’re coming in, and you’re, you know, getting the ship back on the rails, there’s an element of urgency, there’s an element of broken, you got to fix it. Listen, therefore, there’s some kind of let’s call it mini traumas in the in the house. There are people who are unaware of their job is going to continue on. They may have had practices that weren’t quite as savory as you’d like I had, how do you come by come in? And so quickly get people on board, bringing the ethics and humanity into these situations, because you also have to get the stuff done?
Richard Earnest 19:03
Yes, you do. You have to, first of all, believe in what you’re going to do. Show it honestly, be yourself. Be square with everybody and say here’s what’s going to happen. I’ll give you an example. One of the companies that I ran, I had to fire everybody in the company, including myself. We were going to dissolve the board, fire everybody the next day, we were going to change the name of the company, rehire everybody, including myself. And what that was, it was a way of getting rid of debt that just it was going to be that close the door. So, I had to I had to assume that people would believe me that I was going to hire them back the next day because I had stood in front of them said you’re all going to be fired as of by the clock seven, you can’t do that, unless people believe that you are going to do what you say you’re going to do. And that’s an internal integrity that you have to have. If you’re going to be honest with people, if you’re not going to be honest with them, eventually, they will figure it out. And once they do, trust is over, you don’t have it anymore. And that’s, that’s a big disability and any kind of company small or large?
Minter Dial 20:31
Well, it speaks to the need to speak your truth, or at least to be in a master of the words that you’re using as well. Because words can be taken out of context, you might slip in some kind of emotion within the words. And so it takes a certain control of what you’re trying to communicate, and knowledge of what you can do and wish to do, of course, to be in alignment with, say what you do and do what you say.
Richard Earnest 21:03
It also means you have to have the courage to say, I’m sorry, I was wrong. Or I meant to say this a different way and mean it. If you’re too scripted, if you’re to matter of fact, it’s not really you is it? It’s the teleprompter, or it’s a piece of paper that’s in front of you, how do I know that you mean what you’re saying? And that’s you have to be yourself truly yourself. And that means with emotion, however you feel authenticity is magical in that environment.
Minter Dial 21:40
Well, having guts is the word you use having courage otherwise. Yeah, I in its courage is on the front page of my book about my grandfather, is the story of my grandfather’s about love, courage and honor. Of course, he being also a United States Naval Academy graduate. And I add it is a feeling that courage and resilience seem to be some, I feel something of the same bird, some other birds of the same flock, if you will. In order to get through stuff, you need to have courage, and the courage to deal with the issues to deal with the hard facts. And there’s an element of resilience, I feel within it. What do you think is relationship between resilience and courage?
Richard Earnest 22:34
It is absolutely intertwined with courage, and especially when you’re dealing with yourself, do you have the courage or the guts to admit that I have habits that are not good for me? I’m smoking, I shouldn’t be smoking. I smoked heavily in Vietnam, I didn’t think I was gonna live to be 30. Anyway, so I’m gonna have to die of cancer until I made it through. And I decided this is not a good idea. So, I just stopped. I mean, I stopped one morning, never picked up another cigarette again, never missed it. Now, what is that? Self-delusion? I don’t know whether that’s I don’t think I would call that courage. That’s just strength of spirit that I want to do something. People say that’s difficult. I’m not going to call it difficult. I’m just going to call it something I want to do. That’s where the resilience comes in. That that’s not something that it everybody has it. They just don’t use it. They don’t practice it. That doesn’t become part of who they are, who they believe themselves to be.
Minter Dial 23:51
Yes. It’s like the idea of, I’m going to make my bed I do it. I’m going to say I do it. I do it. And I show it to myself that I can. There is also an element, as I’ve heard people have talked about, if you vocalize your desire, say I want to lose five pounds of weight or something to a group of people. It apparently that’s quite a good incentive to actually lose the five pounds once you’ve vocalized, instead of just being some sort of abstract thought, Oh, well, I should give up smoking. Yeah, sure. One of the things that is is tricky for me is ethics is by definition, a personal concept, what is right and wrong. Everyone has this feeling of what is right and wrong. At least that’s the way I view it. And therefore when you come into a business that already exists, they have some kind of culture they have some kind of perhaps unspoken ethical framework, but galvanizing people around ethics as the leader. It’s not something you can impose Was it always? It would seem strange if you impose your ethical framework on everyone else, when they might not believe it? Or how do you fit that round hole, square peg?
Richard Earnest 25:13
demonstration and habit. My wife reminds me all the time when I write often about, you have to do the right thing. She says, oh, wait a minute, how do you know what everybody’s right thing is. So, and I have taken that in. So, what you have to do is you have to buy your own behavior, do what you think what you believe to be right. And if it’s leading to good outcomes, other people are encouraged to come along and learn that habit, it may take time, you have to have patience, and talk to people about that one on one, four, and be and let them have a different view of what that right thing is, it might just be a slightly different way of addressing the problem. And it may be a better way, actually. So, listening becomes a wonderful, a wonderful habit, wonderful trade for leaders, I mean, truly listening, not with the intent to respond. But to listen to what they say. Well,
Minter Dial 26:21
amen to that. It’s one of your big chapters in the book, and I thoroughly subscribed to it. Of course, listening is sort of a precondition to having empathy, or at least it’s a, it’s a tandem piece, knowing how to listen, even if you don’t agree, or you may have other biases towards what’s coming to you. In your book, you you refer to ethics dot organization, org, and they do definition that they have for ethics with me, and I quote, it says that it requires that we question discover and defend our values and our principles. It’s about finding out who you are, and staying true to that in the face of challenges and uncertainty. So, I come back to this notion of the need to know yourself, and to have values and ethics that are somehow really truly explicit for you individually. And that doesn’t happen overnight, it doesn’t sort of just dream up, I feel like it’s something you really need to work on, to establish just by yourself within yourself. It
Richard Earnest 27:31
is a lifelong work of art. What you think is the right thing, or what you believe in at 18 years of age, is a lot different than what you know, at 80 years of age. And you have to be willing to adjust to that based on life’s experiences your own and others. Hopefully, you learn hopefully, we become more multi-dimensional and how you think of things through experience and your own growth in wisdom. And that right thing to do changes. And you have to be okay with that you have to be comfortable with that. That’s what’s called learning. What a wonderful concept you learned about yourself. And you can throw away those childish things, as they say, and learn new things. That’s what makes life interesting.
Minter Dial 28:27
So, funnily enough, I mean, I let’s say that learning or curiosity is a definition of being a child. And so it’s about stay keeping the child within us in our day, you’re a little older than I am. But we basically, information was power information was hard to find. And you the ones who swatted up and went to the library and did all the reading. They were the ones that got ahead. Today, information is just a fingertip away. And there’s also a lot of other things on the internet that I believe are polluting our ability to spend time with oneself, and have that honest, inner dialogue to come up with what are truly our ethical, our ethics and our values. I was having a conversation at lunch today. And I said which ones describe you? Integrity, family, compassion, authenticity? And she was like, Yeah, that’s me. So, I could go on and all of these things. It’s hard not to say no to. I mean, who doesn’t want to think that they have integrity or compassion or families for you know, important and whatever. And yet, you can’t have everything. I mean, if you are everything, then you are nothing. So, to have that ability to cut down and be more strategic, and more incisive, about who you are and what you feel like is the strong biggest most important thing for you? The social media is as contaminated us. And so I feel like that’s contributing to this. volatility. The tectonic plates are constantly moving nowadays.
Richard Earnest 30:16
I agree with you. Yeah, we can all call Mr. Google and get our answer almost instantly to almost anything. It’s quite extraordinary. Actually. However, you may consider yourself Self empathetic and all the words you used. What about? unfair? Judgmental? Impatient, selfish? What about those kinds of words?
Minter Dial 30:43
I’m not any of that. How dare you think that Richard? I am, I’m shocked.
Richard Earnest 30:49
Those words are not ones that one ascribes to themselves, typically. Somebody else may call them that. All right? Are you listening? Take that in. Am I really? Am I really impatient? The example they used? Are they right about that? So, self-examination, self-discovery is really important than those that if, if you’re going to become the person that you say you want to be.
Minter Dial 31:20
You write at one point — or you speak because I only listened to it — but it was, it seems to me that you make a strong parallel between conscious leadership and ethical leadership, tie those two together for us. So, it’s clear.
Richard Earnest 31:39
Conscious leadership is really knowing what you need to do as a leader. And there’s a goal that you have to achieve through other people, and doing and not doing it haphazardly, doing it consciously. Now, where does ethics come in to that? You have to visualize the result? And is the result going to make people’s lives better? Is it going to make them happier, safer? Are they going to improve people’s view of themselves and the world? And will the world look at this as that appears to be the right thing to do? So, that’s how they always have to have it in the back of your mind? What Will somebody say at the end of this to us about what we just did, and what we’re about to do?
Minter Dial 32:36
You say, doing the right thing is powerful. And when I talk to companies frequently, or individuals for that matter, I like them to ponder the following question, how would the world be worse off? If you didn’t exist? And many companies, I would say I dare I would say, I would have no answer to that, as in just a competitor would come in, take my lunch and be happy on their way. Or you as an individual. How are you? What do you How are you making a contribution to the bigger world? Which leads me to the other area I wanted to explore with you, which was is very interesting to me. And I suspect is an element of almost curiosity, borderline? I don’t know. It’s, it’s, it’s a funny thought, but leadership as a politician versus leadership as a business person versus leadership in the military. And, sure, there are crossovers, but I have to believe, for example, the military still relies on hierarchy. The politics still relies on doing what you’re told to do by the population that votes you win. And in business, you still have to cater to the shareholders. But it’s a little bit different. I mean, there is hierarchy as well. i What are some of the major differences for you in terms of leadership qualities? And if I am one or the other, which one should I would lead me to be more like a leader, politician and leader in the military or leader in the civilian or business world?
Richard Earnest 34:21
Oh, my. You are good at answering asking difficult questions. Having been having been a leader in all three, I would say that time and timing matter and all of those in the military. Yes, it’s much more hierarchical than the other two. You give an order. That’s what’s gonna happen period. In politics, I would argue with your summation that politicians are out there to do the people’s will because I don’t see that happening at the moment, they do it so they can stay in power. And that’s, I think, is much more self-actualized and self-empowerment in in politics at the moment, I don’t think it’s always been that way, but it is in business. So, it’s a bit more sophisticated and nuanced. Because the decisions you’re making may take time to manifest themselves, it may take a couple of years, you may not get an instant answer the hierarchical pieces much. It’s much greater, if you will, and much more fluffy, your there’s room to move maneuver in there. So, it’s more sophisticated, and in many ways more difficult, because there are many, many different kinds of outcomes that come from it. So, that’s how I would differentiate them. But what I think over lies all three is ethics and humanity. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about people. It’s just about people, and you’re not the only one. It’s about them primarily. And if you could focus yourself on the other people that you’re leaving, or somebody else’s leaving, you’re going to understand better how it’s affecting them, and what you as an individual can do to help them.
Minter Dial 36:27
So, I wanted us to, I’m going to jump in with a quick citation from a Senator who said on the Senate floor, the following: “I’m thoroughly disgusted by the way the government in Washington works, there’s almost total partisanship, both on the right and the left, neither side talks to the other. And the divide just seems to be getting worse. Self-interest comes before the national interest.” Sounded a little bit similar to what you were just talking about, of course, that speech was made in 1924, by my great grandfather. So, suggesting that at least the idea of self-interest has existed before. And another thought that comes to my mind here, Richard is this notion of ego, the place of ego and leadership, it’s important to have ego to have the ambition. And at times, it’s really useful. And then other times it is entirely detrimental. In, in the political sphere, it feels like, well, since you don’t get paid diddly to do it. It you might you have to get something else out of it like power, and the ego trip of me. It’s me my name on the plaque card. That’s been David around, then there’s in business, it’s hard not to have ego when you’re asked getting paid galoshes of money, and the savings, self-belief, maybe arrogance that comes with that. In the military, it happened as well, as we know, the infighting in the Second World War is Legion, between all these heads of different parts of the military, but talk us through the ego and what role it should have and or shouldn’t have in leadership?
Richard Earnest 38:19
That you hit it, on effect. I was going to say it before you finish is Ego is the watchword that you used it is so important here. And the constant conflict between the ego and the heart. And your own conscience is a battle that we all live with every day. You can’t eliminate the ego, it’s there. But what you have to understand is, where is it taking over? Where is it directing my activity? And my thoughts in my behavior? And is that? Is that what I want? Is that what I really want? So, understanding where the ego fits, and where the heart fits, is terribly, terribly important.
Minter Dial 39:04
So, it’s like being self-aware. Just need to be aware of it. And its role and then assess, is this is what I want really vary for that you need to know really what you want,
Richard Earnest 39:17
and who you are. Yes, that self-examination, you know, tend to do when you’re 18. But when you get older as you are, let’s say you get more mature, it becomes very important to know who you are.
Minter Dial 39:34
I love it. Alright, so the last question is sort of a mash up. Sticking with business, and you’re a leader of business. You personally have been a politician. And I wonder what advice you would counsel or give to leaders of business with regard to political opinions. You’re running a business as a political situation. We can Call it Israel, we can call it Ukraine, we can call it black lives matter, any number of them? Is it a good idea? Is it necessary to voice your opinion? Because that’s what you think is right? Or how do you assess politics in business?
Richard Earnest 40:23
I think that I think you have to be careful. As a business leader, I think you have to stay in your lane, you were hired to grow and sustain a comfort a business profitable business that delivers a service or product to some group of people. Does that mean you have to eliminate your own personal opinions? No, you just have to be very careful where you introduce them. Now you, you’re really not in business 24/7. But your opinion, your political opinions, can and do carry over to an influence your business. So, I think you have to be very careful about what you say, much more careful than the people in Washington are.
Minter Dial 41:15
So, if I guess push back a bit, there are some people that say, staying silent is is incriminating. So, if you don’t have an opinion, well, how can I really trust you, Mr. Leader, because you haven’t expressed your opinion on the super important topic that everybody else is talking about, or, and come up with transparency and authenticity, when you have to be also careful, it feels like a difficult tightrope to to show who you are, fly your true colors, and yet be sensible and careful.
Richard Earnest 41:55
I think you can compartmentalize yourself as a, as an individual, separate and apart from you as the CEO of a multibillion dollar company. If I if I were to get that question, what I would say is, do I have an opinion? Yes, I do. I choose to keep that opinion to myself, in my own private matters, I will do what I feel like doing. But in this case, I’m not going to answer it. Now, if even pressed further, I would I’d work around the edges of that, would that be a little politic thing to do? Probably. But you’ve got to be careful. You got to be careful where you want to plant your stake in the ground, because you’ve already eliminated all the other states if you do that. So, you’ve got to be somewhat clever, honest. But you’ve got to be clever. What I would do is not answer the question. Now.
Minter Dial 42:53
And it does speak to this idea of transparency, which on the face of it seems like a great way to gain trust. However, being 100%, transparent, naked, if you will, I don’t think is a good place either. Even for a relationship with your spouse, radical transparency, some people like to float around. I feel like it’s not the right thing. There’s a time and a place to say things you can’t if you’re the CEO, say everything because some things are highly confidential, even legally, not even ethically, but legally confidential. And so we, we all need also, assuming we have a we’re on that journey of understanding ourselves know where that line is. Beyond which we’re not willing to or shouldn’t be exposing, you know, what is our true feelings. And I think it also brings a little bit of reality to this idea of authenticity. You can be authentic, but not be fully transparent, correctly, but it’s a tightrope.
Richard Earnest 43:58
It is a tight end is something that you have to think about and be aware of and be facile in how you respond. This is part of what I mean I do some mentoring of young CEOs right now. And in their most early 40s. Most building small companies don’t know how to build a management team. And I spend time with that with them because they’re not sure Well, I’m not sure how to behave or how to talk about this. And that’s really where I get involved with a lot of them and that it hopefully it helps. Hopefully it takes
Minter Dial 44:34
you remind me, I mean, it’s not what you do, but of a film I saw with Robert De Niro called the intern. And I don’t know if you saw that, but it’s a delicious film of of how wisdom can be useful in young boardrooms. Richard has been a total pleasure having you on to ruminate and talk about these sometimes very tough conversations and certainly for sharing some are the difficulties you’ve had? You know what you did? And thank you for your service? For sure. How can anybody go get your book leading with ethics and humanity? Do you have the guts? And or read your writings get in contact you hire you to come in and give it give us some sound advice?
Richard Earnest 45:19
Well, thank you for that question. The book, by the way, is is published through Amazon, and available on amazon.com, either in written form or in audio form, and many, many people want to do the audio version. And that’s useful and is actually me doing the audio. So, you really get to hear that. You can also get a hold of me through my website, which is Richard@earnestenterprises.us. It’s .us not .com.
Minter Dial 45:54
Or not on USS?
Richard Earnest 45:58
Oh, yeah. Not too bad about that. I wish. Not USS, or you can get to get me through LinkedIn. And it through my name, Richard earnest. And at LinkedIn slash in slash mentor, is how it gets. So, there are a number of ways to find me. And all that information is in the book as well. So, that’s where you can find me.
Minter Dial 46:23
Well, I’ll put all of those references in the show notes to make it clickable and easy. And a quick shout out to your wife who you mentioned several times. She sounds like she’s been a true leader in your family, too.
Richard Earnest 46:34
She has indeed. She had you. We all need a teacher. Sometimes it’s your children too.
Minter Dial 46:42
That’s for sure you if you’re open, you can be taught by everything. Richard, thank you so much for coming on.
Richard Earnest 46:48
You’re quite welcome. And I enjoyed our conversation and hopefully we can continue to have a dialogue at some point. Love it.
Minter Dial 46:58
So, a really heartfelt thanks for listening to this episode of The Minter Dialogue podcast. If you liked the show, please remember to subscribe on your favourite podcast service. As ever, rating and reviews are the real currency of podcasts. And if you’re really inspired, I’m accepting donations on www.patreon.com/Minterdial. You’ll find the show notes with over 2100 blog posts on minterdial.com on topics ranging from leadership to branding, tech and marketing tips. Check out my documentary film and books including my last one, the second edition of “Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence” that came out in April 2023. And to finish here’s a song I wrote with Stephanie Singer, “A Convinced Man.”
I like the feel of a stranger
Tucked around me
Precipitating the danger
To feel free
Trust is the reason
Still I won’t toe the line.
I sit here passively
Hope for your respect
Anticipating the thrill of your intellect
Maybe I tell myself
There’s no use in me lying.
I’m a convinced man,
Building an urge
A convinced man,
To live and die submerged.
A convinced man,
In the arms of a woman
I’m a convinced man
Challenge my fate
I’m a convinced man
A convinced man
In the arms of a woman.
And struggle to see
Live for the challenge
So, life’s not incomplete
What’s wrong with challenge
I know soon we all die
I’m a convinced man
Practicing my lines
I’m a convinced man
Here in these confines
A convinced man
In the arms of a woman.
I’m a convinced man
Put me to the test
I’m a convinced man
I’m ready for an arrest
I’m a convinced man
In the arms of a woman.
I’m a convinced man… so convinced
You convince me, yeah baby,
I’m a convinced man
In the arms of a woman…
Minter Dial is an international professional speaker, author & consultant on Leadership, Branding and Transformation. After a successful international career at L’Oréal, Minter Dial returned to his entrepreneurial roots and has spent the last twelve years helping senior management teams and Boards to adapt to the new exigencies of the digitally enhanced marketplace. He has worked with world-class organisations to help activate their brand strategies, and figure out how best to integrate new technologies, digital tools, devices and platforms. Above all, Minter works to catalyse a change in mindset and dial up transformation. Minter received his BA in Trilingual Literature from Yale University (1987) and gained his MBA at INSEAD, Fontainebleau (1993). He’s author of four award-winning books, including Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence (2nd edition) (2023); You Lead, How Being Yourself Makes You A Better Leader (Kogan Page 2021); co-author of Futureproof, How To Get Your Business Ready For The Next Disruption (Pearson 2017); and author of The Last Ring Home (Myndset Press 2016), a book and documentary film, both of which have won awards and critical acclaim.
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