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Ultimate Prioritizing to Garner Guaranteed Momentum with Jerry Houston, Founder and CEO of HPISolutions
Episode 147th June 2022 • The Courage of a Leader • Amy Riley
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In this episode, I had the pleasure of discussing the ultimate priorities for leaders – everywhere – to garner guaranteed momentum with Jerry Houston; my business partner and the Founder of the performance improvement and management consulting firm, HPI Solutions.

 

About the Guest:

Jerry Houston is the founder and CEO of HPISolutions, an organization dedicated to unlocking the potential of individuals and their organizations. The company will celebrate its 30th Anniversary this year, starting with humble beginnings in Lansing, Illinois, and now headquartered in Surprise, Arizona.

HPISolutions has served hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals over its history 

Jerry is educated in Business and Operations Management and spent well over 20 years in leadership and executive leadership for operations management in several different industries. He is certified in multiple behavioral sciences, emotional intelligence, stress management, stages of growth and is master certified in The Prioritized Leader Process for executive and team development. He is the recipient of two lifetime achievement awards from the prestigious Trusted Advisors Network and the international network at TTI Success Insights, a worldwide leader in analytic assessment tools.

Jerry is also the author of The Eccentric Entrepreneur, a book based on his life and the philosophy of how one does business and what it takes to be successful while living your best life possible based on your defined purpose. Jerry is at work on a second book, It’s All About the People, which will publish in early 2023.

Jerry can be reached at jerry@hpisolutions.com or 623-866-8200

https://hpisolutions.com/

 

About the Host:

Amy L. Riley is an internationally renowned speaker, author and consultant. She has over 2 decades of experience developing leaders at all levels. Her clients include Cisco Systems, Deloitte and Barclays.

As a trusted leadership coach and consultant, Amy has worked with hundreds of leaders one-on-one, and thousands more as part of a group, to fully step into their leadership, create amazing teams and achieve extraordinary results. 

 

Amy’s most popular keynotes are:

The Courage of a Leader: The Power of a Leadership Legacy

The Courage of a Leader: Create a Competitive Advantage with Sustainable, Results-Producing Cross-System Collaboration

The Courage of a Leader: Accelerate Trust with Your Team, Customers and Community

The Courage of a Leader: How to Build a Happy and Successful Hybrid Team 

Her new book is a #1 international best-seller and is entitled, The Courage of a Leader: How to Inspire, Engage and Get Extraordinary Results.

www.courageofaleader.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/amyshoopriley/

 

Links mentioned in the episode

The Prioritized Leader – https://hpisolutions.com/services/the-prioritized-leader/

Simon Sinek – https://simonsinek.com/books/start-with-why/

Jerry Houston’s book, The Eccentric Entrepreneur – https://hpisolutions.com/books-for-entrepreneurs/

Call to action

Email info@hpisolutions.com for a 30-minute, no obligation consultation about The Prioritized Leader process.

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Teaser for next episode

Tune in, in 2 weeks, when I discuss “How to Easily Make Hybrid Teams More Extraordinary Than Ever” with Sherry Haworth, President of PLICO, a MedPro group.

Transcripts

Amy Riley:

Leaders have so much to do and handle these days. They need a simplified and effective way to prioritize and think about their endeavors. Jerry Houston, longtime entrepreneur, and successful business owner, joins me today to explain how to prioritize to get momentum in your team guarantee.

Amy Riley:

Welcome to the Courage of a Leader podcast. This is where you hear real life stories of top leaders achieving extraordinary results. And you get practical advice and techniques, you can immediately apply for your own success. This is where you will get inspired. And take bold, courageous action. I am so glad you can join us. I'm your host, Amy Riley. Now, are you ready to step into the full power of your leadership and achieve the results you care about most? Let's ignite the Courage of a Leader.

Amy Riley:

Jerry leaders right now have so much on their plate on talking to leader after leader day after day. There's a lot of priorities, the plates are overflowing. There's a lot of different things. They could be doing a lot of different directions they could be looking in your work with supporting leaders and leadership teams. What What advice would you give? How can they work on what's really important?

Jerry Houston:

Well, I think first of all, it's kind of owning up to the issue, right? We have to first say, Yeah, my plate is full. In fact, it might be overflowing. And I talked to many leaders every every week, multiple leaders, and I'm getting the same message. And that message is I'm overwhelmed. So much to do. We have so many challenges, some created just by the businesses business, some created by pandemic post pandemic supply chain. Now the war in Ukraine, let's go on. And is there anything else? And he wants to

Amy Riley:

add to that list? Yeah. Yeah. So um, so it no longer can be time management, right? We're like we are out of time. We only have so much time in our days. It's it's got to get to priority management know.

Jerry Houston:

Exactly right. And so although time management still has its place? Sure, yes. When we force our clients to do a time management study, which is one of the most painful things we can ask a client to do, they find out that there is some room for improvement. They are in fact wasting some time. But beyond that is how are we doing? First things first, and still being flexible enough. We have to be able to maneuver to changing circumstances and especially in this day and age.

Amy Riley:

Great. So I know Jerry, you and I are both certified in a process called the prioritized leader. And here we are talking about priorities. Will you just say a little bit about we call it TPL, the prioritized leader about what that process is? And what our listeners today could could learn and take away from that.

Jerry Houston:

I'm happy to do that the first thing most of us to do is take a breath and say If not now When? When am I going to get hold of this issue? And how am I going to approach it in a way that accomplishes what I need to? And one of the simple answers is you're not alone, you can't do it alone. None of us can. And so that that applies to solopreneurs. All the way up to major corporations, we cannot do it alone, where there's a series of things we need. So in the prioritize leader, we talk about five Ps five factors that have to be considered. And not only do they have to be considered they have to be considered in the right order. And when they're not considered in the right order. Now, we had a big blowback argument on our team about this. And that was that well, what about if you know if your arm is hanging off and it's dangling and it's bleeding? You know, do I do I sell you a heart transplant? Well, no. We have to take we have to triage the iron right? We have to get that taken care of and that's true. But in the end If we don't get the sequence, right, then the things later in the process suffer. And I'll give you some examples of that as we go along. So first of all leaders have to clarify their purpose. And the first P is person. If we don't know why we're here, just listen to Simon Sinek. Just Just listen to him makes the truth. And he says, You have to understand your why. Ask your team members, what is our purpose? What is our why? Could they answer you? How do you find out go ask them? The second point is releasing your people. And by that I mean, what is, you know, what are the talents of your team? Do you know what the talents? Do you empower them to move forward and take even some risk? Which is not tolerable for some some types of leaders? Get over yourself? Because the the answer is there's power in your people. job is to empower them and to keep them healthy. And by that I mean, not just okay, physical health, we can take membership and health club and we can do lots of things. But I'm really talking about life balance, and really thinking in terms of does a person get a chance to recharge their batteries? I had one of my team members apologizing because she's going on vacation for two weeks in Mexico. And she's apologizing. I said, you know,

Amy Riley:

I know what you're talking about. Yes.

Jerry Houston:

Teresa, we're gonna, we'll get by somehow, don't worry about it, we're going to, we're going to pick up the slack. And you need to go re energize your batteries. And that's what she's doing.

Amy Riley:

Interior people have experienced work from home. I they know some of the benefits of being with their family of having some more flexibility to do some of those activities that refuel them, or just entertain them personally, as individuals, and employees in the workforce right now are expecting that flexibility. And they want their work life balance to look and feel healthy.

Jerry Houston:

Absolutely. All of what you said is true in the opposite. So too much flexibility at home. The kids are bugging me to do such a thing. But the kids are bugging me when I first started my company, you know, I had I had five children all around me. And my dining room wasn't pretty. So sometimes there has to be some separation. Right. And things have gotten blurred because of work from home. very blurred in terms of of what is my own time? And what is my work time?

Amy Riley:

Yeah, yeah. Well, and it's like employers need to recognize that, yes, employees want and expect that flexibility. And there are challenges with work from home, that the top employers are going to support their employees with, right, like distractions, boundaries, or how to how do we how do we carve this out, so it works for you. It works for the company, and it works for the work that needs to get done.

Jerry Houston:

Absolutely. All of that, what folds into that. So if purpose is first and people a second in sequence in terms of priorities, you have to get those two things straight. One thing that really impacts that is pace, warmth. And pace has to do with with the energy or the time that you spend in in an operation trying to get things accomplished. And so if you have chaos, then you're going to see wasted time. It always happens because maybe a communication wasn't done correctly, because we were in a hurry. And so we make mistakes. We have to undo those mistakes. And of course, it always costs money. And it always costs time. Always. So are you measuring the pace at which you're moving so that there's energy to your pace? We don't want to be complacent. But on the other hand, we don't want to take so much on we just had a client out in California that that terrific terrific. The mid manager in that company. His results on his analytic assessment that we did were way off, in his view of himself why? He's so concerned about doing a great job. But he has so much on his plate, possibly do it. And he can't solve that problem. His management needs to step in and help him determine priorities, so that he's not trying to do everything at one time.

Amy Riley:

Yep, I'm guessing that pace might often be that place where it feels like there's some initial triage needed before we go back to the the top of the pecking order with purpose and people. It often

Jerry Houston:

is because our people are trying to get done, but they can't get it done. Because what we're asking for, frankly, is unreasonable. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Amy Riley:

The fourth P,

Jerry Houston:

fourth, P is perception. This is our most debated P. But what we mean by perception is not that well, if I if I if I believe that enough. It's true in a typical definition of perception, it's more about innovation. It's more about how do I how do I see what's coming? How do I know? Although I create new solutions, and when I say how do I do it? I really mean, how do we do it? I can't. One thing I have learned with my team, and I'm a recovering control freak, so I have the right to say this. But I thought I stop myself and say what what what do you think is an approach to solve this issue that we're having. And always being the one that has to come up with creative and problem solve? There's, there's, there's power in the team. And you know what, it feels better. And they love it better, because they buy in better. So so really having stretching them forcing them think differently, and to get out of the box is a healthy thing. And it will help the organization? Often to say all of you leaders say there's nothing really new, it's just reformatted. It's changed around, it's approached in a little bit different way. But it's

Amy Riley:

Yeah, yeah, I'm hearing, I'm hearing two important nuances in what you're saying, Jerry, that not only as an individual, I have that forward, focused, innovative perception, right? Like, what are opportunities to enhance this process? What are new ideas for doing this? How can we have more inputs or outputs, whatever it might be, like be have a perception that's on the lookout and open for that. And it also clearly heard the nuance about looking how others around me can provide input and ideas and opportunities and not always feeling like I have to be the one that has the brilliant, innovative ideas. And we're at a stopping point, if I don't

Jerry Houston:

remember that it was a secretary at three M Corporation. That actually came up with that concept of post it notes with that glue that didn't work. And post it notes, of course, became the number one selling Office product in the world. Yes. So there you go.

Amy Riley:

My household does not survive without posted notes. Jerry

Jerry Houston:

can and I pledge to never use them in my company when they when they were invented. That's a true story. And of course, they're used everywhere. Okay, we got one more pee on more pee. And of course, that's profits. And obviously, you know, many of our clients, when they take our assessment profits comes up first. They figure well, if there is no money, there is no business. They are right. They are right. However, profit is outcome. Profit is an outcome. And so if we know what we're here for, and our people know what we're here for, and we're taking good care of our people, and we have the right people in the right seats on the right bus, yada, yada, yada, if that exists, and we're operating at a pace that is manageable, that we can deal with. We are innovating along the way that we're being smarter about how we do what we do, then the profits will come. Purpose of the profits Well, it's to provide resources. It is to relate we have to release these resources to the team If we don't, if you if you this is an old story, but I'm going to tell him anyway. So I was a director of administration in a, in a in an unnamed company. And when I joined it, and it wasn't that far back, thank you very much when I found that they had an old telex machine. Now, for you youngsters, you don't even know what a telex machine is. But the way machine worked is, it was like a ticker tape, a message would come in, and it would start ticking out on this piece of paper. And then if you were trying to send a message out, you can only send it if the Bell didn't ring. If the bell, the message would stop, and you would have to start over again. And this was their way of communicating outwardly to the world. This? And of course, it was already probably 25 years outdated. It was it was it was holding them up, it was a system holding that thing, and they needed to replace it. And of course, we did. You have to have the right equipment, the right facilities, the right of whether they're at work at home or not, you have to have the right things in place to be efficient, or your people become very frustrated. And they cannot they cannot perform the level of work that you're asking them to perform. So so obviously, what is profit for profit this, besides, you know, making the shareholders and the stakeholders happy. The profits are also for releasing resources into the organization.

Amy Riley:

Yeah, that's really great, Gary, and I think so many organizations, leaders, they struggle with those questions of where do we invest? Where's it most important to embed invest? What should be the allocation of resources? What should be the headcount count here and there? What capital expenditures in what order? Right. And we're seeing through the prioritized leader process, that when you're clear about your why, you know, the talents of your people, you've got that pace worked out, you're you're bringing fresh ideas and innovation and through perception, the answers to the profit questions are more clear,

Jerry Houston:

or more clear, if you start with them, and you don't understand the rest of this continuum, you're going to make incorrect decisions. And so it's critical. And we know from practical experience with the prioritize leader process, that most leaders who complete the assessment do not have it in the correct order. All their scores might be in a particular area, they don't have it in the right sequence. And without that, they're not going to get as efficient as they want to, without without burning out their, their team members.

Amy Riley:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I know, we often see that profit coming higher up than the number five p, right, because we're, we need to make those decisions around allocation of resources and where we're spending money and the, you know, those those requests, and those questions are coming up all the time,

Jerry Houston:

all the time. Think about companies who who acquire other companies. And they end so merger and acquisition, right? Merger and Acquisition, so but they don't merge properly and acquire properly. So they purchased this company. And then they try to pretend that now we're all one big happy family. Now taken on our name, your you've been adopted, and you're a part of our family. But what about organizational culture, which goes back to purpose? You know, what is the culture? Like? How are people feeling in the acquired company? What is how are the people feeling in the acquirer? Because now you're dumping all this extra work on us. So we have to deal with this other entity now that we didn't have to deal with. And it's a bloody mess, frankly,

Amy Riley:

oh, let alone all the uncertainty with what is it? What does this mean? What is the parent company going to do? What's going to change? Do I have a job?

Jerry Houston:

So you need an integration plan and you need to follow a sequence and the sequence is the sequence we just talked about. Amy and deprioritize. Leader? That's the sequence.

Amy Riley:

Yeah, I agree. So today we are talking with Jerry Houston. He is the founder and CEO of HP AI solutions. Jerry said you occasional background is in business administration and operations management. He has held key management positions in industry for over 30 years. Jerry has been awarded target trading internationals President's Award in recognition of community service. In addition, Jerry has been named to TT eyes. That's target training internationals international faculty, an elite group who delivers training and assessment services around the world. Jerry has dedicated his career to the development of human potential and Process Excellence, you'll probably hear that through a variety of certifications. Jerry's got a number of they include continuous quality improvement, behaviors and values analysis, performance DNA and HD analysis, emotional intelligence analysis TPL, the prioritized leader that we've just been talking about and more. As a longtime community activist Jerry has served as president of various associations for developmentally disabled individuals, and a homeless family program. He was chair of business advancement services for the Arizona Small Business Association, and was named their volunteer of the year in 2009. Jerry is also the author of the book, the eccentric entrepreneur. Glad to have you here with me today, Jerry,

Jerry Houston:

as authors like to hang around together, Amy?

Amy Riley:

Yes, we do. Yes, we do. Yes, delivered

Jerry Houston:

your book, to a graduation group from a leadership class. And all leaders, so your book is in their hands as of this morning.

Amy Riley:

Terrific, terrific, I love that. Well, because I know that Jerry, both you and I are passionate about supporting leaders to do all that they do. And we know that there's so much coming at them, they're managing up, they're collaborating with colleagues, they're taking care of their team. When leaders do it, right. It's a lot of it's a lot of work, a lot of processing, to rewarding job to

Jerry Houston:

it is it is the best part of the job, once you get in your head that, that your job is not to do the work. But to do the work, that's your job, and be their biggest fan. But also, of course, hold them accountable. Very important job to do. That's what we're here for. And we all need to know that. So it isn't just all about, you know, some manners managers have said to me, oh, that's all kumbaya stuff, you know. And it's not, it's not you, but you do need to be able to recognize when somebody accomplishes something, and make it important. Because it is important, and it encourages them to I actually had to, to send a note to my marketing ops manager because he or she is working away on Saturday, because she knows we're having a really busy week this week. Working and I had to order her off of that. And thank you for your fine work. Get off of the one of the stables and ride your horse stay off of the computer. And she wrote back the smiley face and away we went. So because it's important, it's important. I mean, I appreciate what she did. Of course, she's very dedicated. But she needs balance, everybody.

Amy Riley:

Yep, yep. Yeah. Yeah, time both into the P of people and the P of pace. Absolutely. Yeah. I do want to loop back to something that you said about the first P purpose Jerry and talking about the importance of knowing our why. And this also plays into your comment about Kumbaya. Right? I think that we we used to think about knowing our purpose, knowing our mission as kind of a nice to know, like, that feels good. And I think we're, we're learning and getting more evidence, and it's becoming more of a mainstream conversation that we do need to know why we're doing what we're doing. And it's actually the why that pulls at our customers. They don't buy what we do. They buy why we do it. Right. We've heard that we've heard that from Simon Sinek. Right. And then employees we need to know like, why we're doing what we're doing. If you're gonna pull me away from you know, the people that I love and the activities that I love that quite frankly, I got to do more of 2020 like I want to do meaningful work. I want to know why I'm doing what I'm doing. And why that might. Why am I choose to spend my time there? Rather than on other things?

Jerry Houston:

Absolutely. Right. And so can everyone say great resignation? You're doing this all correctly. And people were enamored with their work, understood their work found value in their work, Understood, understood the impact their organization's having on the world around them. If they understood that, they wouldn't be going elsewhere. They're going elsewhere, because there's something missing. And they're looking for it now. Will they find it? Won't they find that long conversation over a couple of cups of coffee at least station, but we do know that people are dissatisfied. And the solution to that in this market is to leave. And we know the chaos that's creating in all of our organizations. It's chaotic. And and so that's, that's very important. The currency is vision and values. You're right. That's the currency. Do you see if this sounds familiar? So leaders would get together, go on a retreat? That's a good idea. Go on a retreat on top of Vail, Colorado every year, there are mountaintop experience. And they would come up with vision statements and value statements. And we would write them on flip charts and all this wonderful stuff. Did the team embrace it, the team understand it and know it and own it doesn't happen because a few leaders went away at a retreat Correct? habits. And so we have to involve people in the purpose. Also, I would mention the Gen Zers. Yeah. All right. That's the next generation. We're running out of alphabetical letters, we're gonna have to come up with something.

Amy Riley:

Yeah. Yeah, we shouldn't have jumped to z like that.

Jerry Houston:

And more so interested in, in the idea of, are we doing something that's environmentally sound? Are we doing something so I always think of companies like bomba. So bomba gives away a pair of socks with every pair of socks they sell. Right now. It gives away 5% of their pre tax earnings to for charity every year, right. And they also just came out and made a bold statement with minimum wage for their employees at $24. an hour, by the way. So it's interesting. We this is what this younger generation is attaching to. They're attaching to it and they want to, they want to be in a place that has some meaning for them in their lives. That's what attracts them. So we can stop putting pubs in our facilities, and stop allowing dogs and cats to come and be in our facilities. That isn't that is not what the Gen Zers want. They want meaning if they don't get meaning they'll look for that purpose elsewhere.

Amy Riley:

Yeah, yep. Yep. Yep. And they want an opportunity to contribute. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, really great. Jerry. So for a leader that's listening today, right. So their leader, let's even just say their mid level leader, their plate is full. And they might even be thinking, okay, okay, like I understand the five P's, I get some of what you've said today. What can they immediately do Jerry to make a difference in their, in their day to day work and making sure that they're moving towards working on the right stuff, the stuff that's going to make the biggest difference for them, their teams and their customers.

Jerry Houston:

So mid managers have a tougher the cream and the Oreo cookie, right. They're gonna get squished, no doubt about it. And what we often say to these mid managers is, I want you to promote yourself. I want you to be president of your department, wherever your department is, I don't care. What discipline is, doesn't matter. When you present this is now your own little business. Now, what would you do? If this were your business, because you may not be able to immediately impact the folks above you, or next to you and other departments or below you, you may not, but you can impact what happens in your own area of responsibility. How you manage your people how You set the pace for them, you know how you help them to be empowered to innovate in perception and how and how you produce the kind of result that you're charged with producing. So there's a lot that you can do, but you have to change your mindset. And the mindset has to be a mindset of entrepreneurship. Why did I write a book called The eccentric entrepreneur? Because we're all entrepreneurs in the act? We all are. So you can do that from the middle of your company. And it starts with striking the word they from your always, well, they did this, they cause that or they won't let me or whatever they are doing to me. And the and that's, that's nonsense, frankly, you know, take charge. Do what you can do, from your level. Run your department, like a business and people exactly the way we've been talking about this, on this podcast today.

Amy Riley:

Grant, I love it. Jerry, own your department. Right? Use your sphere of influence, right, be clear on the purpose of what your group is up to. And then I was also hearing just be on Be on the lookout, like, oh, there's an opportunity to impact perception. Right, and how people are viewing things, you know, is there a Ford Focus here? You know, are they feeling willing to bring new ideas to the table? Right here? Suddenly, we're a whole pace has been off this past quarter, right? How can we impact that are great. So step into your own influence? And, yeah, make a difference really? Can?

Jerry Houston:

If I can, you know, borrow a phrase from you, Amy. It takes courage. Leader. Yeah. So you have to be willing to take some level of risk. We all have risks at one level or another. And you have to take some level of risk to step out there. You know, the old saying that if you want to go sailing, you have to get off the dock and get on the boat. And there's risk with sailing the boat, right? So you you have the power, you just don't understand that you have the power quite often when you're in middle management.

Amy Riley:

Nice. Nice. Yeah, it does take courage. And I do know and I want to share this out with the listeners that there is an opportunity to get a no obligation. 30 minute meeting to learn more about the TPO process. You can reach out at info at HP ai solutions.com. To learn more, and I love Jerry's advice just to start, own it, you're the owner of your group, and start to be on the lookout for how you can make a difference and leverage your sphere of influence, then your sphere of influence will grow.

Jerry Houston:

Absolutely.

Amy Riley:

Thank you for being with me today. Jerry, I really appreciate it great episode.

Jerry Houston:

It has been my honor to spend time with you on this. We've known each other for a while. And I know we philosophically come from very similar places. And so I wish you best of luck. I've listened to your other podcasts, all of your listeners should listen to all of your really, really have been outstanding. And so thank you for allowing me to be here today.

Amy Riley:

Thank you, Jerry. Well, you know is a mutual admiration club. Thank you for your time today.

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