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Our Most Valuable Resource: Our People, Dale Jones, Diversified Search Group

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Dale Jones

Dale Jones

Senior Advisor and Former CEO, Diversified Search Group
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“We need more leaders today who have courage.” - Dale Jones, Former CEO & Current Senior Executive Advisor, Diversified Search Group.

Speaker: Dale Jones

I live in Washington DC, where the temperatures are quite frigid. Although last night was a little cool. My wife, my wife said You promised warm temperatures. I say, well hang on, hang out there on the way, I hope. But it's so good to be with you and to be able to share my experiences in human capital leadership, and great to be here with my colleagues and to our founding partner, Roger Anderson, who founded the med tech business some 38 years ago, but Roger started when he was quite young. But it's great to be with you to represent our firm and what we've done over the last really 50 years in providing leaders. I've spent the last 25 years serving on the boards of major corporations, as well as advising leaders in the C suite, both at the fortune 500 level and even small startup companies around the country and the world. And one of the things that I have found is that the consistent theme and the consistent issues that are raised are all about people.

We find that people often get hired for technical competencies, but they get fired or demoted or they fail for leadership deficiencies. It happens all the time. I'm advising a company today that is loaded with cash from from grants and investments are right now they're experiencing the most chaotic scene in their history, because of leadership. And so talking about leadership is not trite. It's critical. Even if you've got the right mousetrap. You've got the right invention or the right product or the right service. It's really all about leadership and getting that right at the very front and understanding how do you do it.

I find that even though the innovation that you bring here today, which is rich with possibility and may be a game changer. We've got to find the right people you got to find the right people who will leave the organization and give leadership to to the most important delivery and success of the business. I have found that investors are all betting on leadership. And while the technology innovation is crucial, you gotta have the right people making it happen. One of the things that I think is important is leadership starts with us. It's Who are we and what do we bring to organizations to make it really impactful?

If who you are is what you do. Then who are you when you cease doing what you do? Too often my colleagues and I have weeks we sit down and we interview people for leadership roles. And they began reciting their resumes. And we have to stop them and say, well, we've got the paper here. We already have your background on LinkedIn. We don't need you to recite that for us again. But we do need to know who you are. We need to know the kinds of experiences you've had, where you've been, how you were raised, what kind of value system do you have? What leadership traits do you bring to an organization that would give comfort but loves to trust you with leading the business and old days we used to call those the soft skills, but we found the soft skills today are really the crucial skills. When you talk to Bill George, the former CEO of Medtronic, or if you talk to Al McDonald, the former chairman of McKinsey, they will tell you that genuine authentic leadership comes from leaders who are able to tell their story and to talk about who they really are. They have the courage to be transparent to talk about what they bring to the dynamic of an organization. The word courage by the way, in the Latin original word of courage comes from the word heart. It means to bring all of your heart to your story, to talk about who you really are, and the kind of impact you can have on an organization. We need more leaders today who have courage, not courage and a new sense of being a hero, but courage of being real and transparent and vulnerable, so that others may know what they bring to an organization and whether it's the right fit. Too often we dismiss the soft skills, but the soft skills are crucial and in many ways the soft skills are the hard skills. So who you are is important, who you are is critical. I said to my children, when they were growing up, they would have to recite this little poem as I paid them an allowance. And they're 25 and 29 today, but they've been doing it for many years. And even when they asked me for money now, I’ll say recite the poem and it says this Fame is like a vapor popularity comes by accident. Wealth takes wings and flies away. But character never dies. And over the years they had to recite that to me week after week before getting their allowance as they became middle schoolers and high schoolers. They were frustrated but I said there's no money being passed until I hear it. And then my son who was a Spanish major would say it in Spanish to get back at me and I would say myself, I don't care what language you use. I want you to get it inside. Because I want you to know what leadership is all about. And I want you to know who you are is important and what makes you who you are is critically important. So who you are as key and who the people you bring in as investors and as team members is key is essential. Secondly, it's important to know that what you all are doing really matters. More people today are looking for companies and organizations to join that are bringing measurable impact into the marketplace, passion and purpose and mission ring loud for the next generation in late ring loud for so many of us who are saying I want to have an impact on the world. And there's not a single person in here today, who's doing what you do in the med tech space. That's not having an impact that will transform the world. You have an opening to the marketplace today. of people who are looking for more than just money and believe that there's some people who work hard have a mission and they will for money. But they also want to be in a purposeful organization that has a message and that's key. So who you are and what you do matters. And thirdly, why you do what you do. It's your Raison D'etre. It's why you are doing what you're doing. Now obviously there are people who are saying I want to get the best next best when financially but if that's your only motivation, it's going to be short lived. But if your motivation is impact and your Raison d'etre has a lot to do with changing the world. It's enormous. My father was a shoe repairman by day and a janitor by night and married my mother wouldn't had three children. I have an identical twin brother who's a physician in Texas and older brother, but life shattered for us and my mum for my mother at age 47 when she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. She died enough my father widowed widower until it to raise three sons. My first understanding of medicine doesn't cure all and that sometimes you can get there too late or get too early before there's an invention and a cure for whatever ails you my father continued to raise his three sons until three years later, his his health failed, and he and he has helped failed and he became a renal dialysis patient for the rest of his days while working three days and going to get renal dialysis service. But he continued to persevere. He continued to say I'm not a victim, and he pushed forward in life. What you all do here matters. It matters to those who are losing loved ones and who are losing family members and who struggle with their own existence for a better way and a better cure a better technique, a better technology. So who you are is key, because you're the leaders. What you do matters. And it's a draw for talent, by the way, and then thirdly, your raison d'etre for doing what you do is key.

After losing both of my parents and getting married and having a family. I mentioned my dad has three sons. My parents have three sons, the only daughter and our wife was my first cousin to live two doors down and she to develop metastatic breast cancer. Here I am an adult and I'm saying to myself, I'm not going to let what happened to my mother happened to my sister, she was like a sister to us. And so I went on a journey. And I got the best medical care for her at MD Anderson. I talked to the chairman. I got an MD Anderson. And then they mentioned these preclinical trials and they said we've gotta get FDA approval, or the Obama administration was leaving, the Trump countries was coming in and I got the head of FDA for the Obama administration and the head of FDA for the Trump administration on the phone with me talking about my sister who was dying of metastatic breast cancer. They approved a clinical trial. No, then I had to go get congressional approval. I was working hard because I knew I did not want to lose her. We got congressional approval, and then we got AstraZeneca and others with a pre-trial so to qualify her, we got her into MD Anderson in Houston. I flew down and by the time I got there, the physician said to me, you know you've got all the right marks here, you set it up, but it's far too late. It's far too late. And so I sat by her bedside and she passed on from this life to the next. So what you do matters and why you do it is critical. It's the raison d'etre . And so I want to encourage you today to continue to tell your story. And for some of you telling your story is difficult because you want to keep it very medicinal, and and technical. But tell your story about the things that have happened in your life that have stretched you and cause you to grow. Now McDonald said to me, the former chair Mckinsey, he says you want to know if a leader has ever had a failed rung in his or her life. You want to know that he or she has been through something either a personal failure of divorce or death or have been stressed to be sent to Asia to to run a business as someone said to me last night, or you've been out of your zip code in terms of what you do. You've had to learn a new language and to experience those are the experiences that grow you up. They cause you to grow and develop as a leader. And so do what you do.

Because it matters. That why you do it matters. And who you're doing with is critical. You want to be you want to have a team of people to come around and enable you to do what you do. Our firm has been good at this and recruiting people, particularly diverse leaders, all leaders to come in and have an impact on organizations. Because the studies show that diverse teams bring differentiated ideas, differentiated insight experiences, you want diversity not only ethnic, not only gender, but also generational you want regional diversity scales, experiences that come from other places. We have to remove this echo chamber of sameness. The echo chamber of sameness keeps us from being innovative and creative. It's also the place where we can grow and thrive in businesses and organizations. And so we're here to help you do that. We have an affinity with a number of organizations of people groups. And skills that enable our clients to thrive and to serve and to do well. We believe that leadership is the key. The technology is crucial, but finding the right people to lead is critical. Let me just close by saying to you, the poet Babcock says well, he says be strong. We're not here to play, we're not here to dream. We're not even here to drift. He says we have hard work to do and loads to lift. He says shine the struggle. Face it is God's gift. Lean into the difficulty and struggle. Know who you are. Know that what you do matters. Also understand your why for why you're doing what you do. And then lastly, make a commitment to build a culture that will be thriving. That’ll be diverse and different. That will give you the energy and innovation you need to leave for the future. Thank you very much.

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