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This year, GadellNet kicked off its first 6 episodes of “Zero Excuses”.    Our purpose was clear – share stories from amazing leaders in the markets that we serve, honor one of our most treasured values of “0% Excuses” and create a community of people who thrive on a lifestyle that is both purposeful and accountable.

We are still gaining our stride – but, after being ranked #31 by Apple nationwide in the business management category – we are feeling more confident that the message is resonating.  And, more than that, it’s doing so while supporting St. Louis and Indianapolis businesses.

In the first 6 episodes, Nick Smarrelli, the CEO of GadellNet, interviewed six business leaders.  Nick had the chance to interview Raed Zidan, founder of Zidan Property Group, Chris Byers, CEO of Formstack, Tracy Hart, President of Tarlton, Jim Brown, angel investor, Max Yoder, CEO of Lessonly, and Marcia Barnes of Valve + Meter. 

These leaders run vastly different organizations, providing a variety of services and solutions. They are at different points in their careers. They come from different backgrounds. They have different interests and hobbies outside of the office. The thing that gets these talented successful leaders out of bed in the morning is different from one to the next.

What we found, however, is as different as these leaders are, they have some very similar lessons to share. Despite all the ways they are different, what they have in common is powerful. 

1. Give and Take – Success is about Balance

In any good relationship there is give and take – a delicate balance and the realization that for every “yes” decision, there are hundreds of other “no” decisions that must be made.  

None of these individuals have sacrificed a happy home life or fulfilling hobbies in order to chase their professional dreams. They have struck a delicate balance between running profitable companies and still giving themselves what they need and want on a personal level to lead well-rounded lives. 

Striking that balance is not always easy.

On episode three of Zero Excuses, Tracy Hart of Tarlton talked about give and take.   As the President of a growing construction firm, it would have been easy for Tracy to pour all of herself into her work, even while raising two boys. There were a lot of evening networking events and late nights, she admits. However, as her boys were growing up, Tracy always made a special exception for the month of July. 

“All of a sudden, your day that started at 5:30 finishes at 9:00 pm. So, when my kids were little, I would make a rule to myself that I was pretty good at following. I would only do one evening a week for work during the year and there would be no evening meetings in July. I think it’s giving yourself permission to take time off.”

Tracy Hart, Tarlton

Setting boundaries for herself was a way Tracy was able to ensure she struck the right balance and was able to achieve the right give and take between personal and professional success. 

2. Personal, Guiding Values are at the center for everything

A set of strong personal values was something all the featured leaders had in spades. These values shape the way these leaders run their companies and lead their personal lives. These values are also what connects these leaders in a meaningful way to their leadership team and employees.

Max Yoder runs Lessonly, a company built on training, learning and growing. When asked what training he is most interested in right now on episode five, Max talked about becoming a W-H-O-L-E spirit.

One study from Miami University describes value-based leadership as a balancing act that pulls together the values and interests of the public, workers, and leaders. On episode five, Max Yoder of Lessonly talked about keeping his values at the center of everything he does, both personally and professionally. In order to do this effectively, Max practices modeling. 

“You can model compassion. I can model what I believe accountability looks like, and I find that to be just an incredibly helpful thing to focus on because what modeling forces me to do is find out if my behavior is congruent with my values.”

Max Yoder, Lessonly

In another part of his interview, Max talks about a professional counterpart whose skillsets and even the way they go about their days may lead one to believe they are opposites. However, what they have in common is the most important attribute; their personal guiding values line up in a way that allow them to lead one team together, sharing the same vision. 

Marcia Barnes, founder of Valve + Meter is a pro at bringing her personal, guiding values into the center of an organization and building success built on those values. Marcia’s values align very well with servant leadership. Her success with using her personal values in leadership has helped her grow several businesses over the years, as highlighted in episode six.  

“I am really motivated to give. I would have to say my top values are love, serve, live, give. And when I have that desire to help people combined with the love, they give me permission to lead them. And when I have permission to lead. That’s where transformational results can happen.”  

Marcia Barnes, Valve+Meter

3. Surround yourself with people who push you outside of your comfort zone

According to this article by Forbes magazine, one of the best ways to accomplish your goals is to, “cultivate real relationships with people who have already accomplished your goals.” For Raed Zidan, our episode one, being around people who can push him has shaped his success.

Our featured leaders have surrounded themselves with people who are honest, people who share their values, and most importantly, people who challenge them are is something these successful leaders all had in common.

The leaders featured in season one of Zero Excuses have growth mindsets.

Raed Zidan of Zidan Property Group talked about this in the first episode of Zero Excuses. Raed has made his way through an enormous and impressive bucket list. From climbing all seven summits to racing cars through Europe, Raed pushes himself in every aspect that he can – surrounded by individuals who challenge him to be better. Before setting out to climb the seven summits, Raed had a lot to learn as he was not an expert at mountain climbing. In order to become successful, Raed talks about leaning on the expertise of others. He also like to surround himself with people who understand the importance of pushing yourself, setting big goals, and learning everything you an along the way. 

“You are defined by the people you surround yourself with. My father told me to choose my friends very, very wisely. They ultimately define who you are and what direction you go in.”

Raed Zidan, Zidan Property Group

4. Raise your hand

“It’s these tiny little micro-decisions you’ve made over a long period of time that add up to what turns out to be success or what turns out to be the life that we lead.”

Chris Byers, Formstack

With new opportunity comes new paths. Chris Byers of Formstack talks about how opportunity can turn into something you wouldn’t have imagined in episode two

It’s easy to say no when an engagement, project, or event comes up when your schedule is already packed. It’s even easier to stay unengaged in projects and events that aren’t brought to you. Jim Brown wouldn’t have had a career as a professional wrestler if that is the route he took. On episode four, Jim talks about sitting up front and saying hello. 

“One of my mantras in life is three parts: show up, sit up front, say hello. If you just do those three things, so many opportunities will open that you may have not experienced otherwise.”

Jim Brown, Entrepreneur

Opportunity to chase success and grow as a leader is not something you should wait to be dropped in your lap. Raising your hand and introducing yourself to the people in the room are simple actions that create growth opportunity. It is oftentimes easier to sit in the back, take a few notes and leave, but that is an opportunity missed.  

5. There is always a little bit of luck 

The leaders that have been part of our first six episodes are all exceptionally intelligent, driven individuals. They have earned their success and their place in this world, there is no doubt. 

One thing all these people can agree on, however, is that luck does played some part in their story.  

“I cannot discount luck. There is definitely luck because I do work hard, but there are people who work harder than me. I am smart, but there are people that are much, much smarter than me. So, I think there is there is a luck factor.”

Raed Zidan, Zidan Property Group

Things went in their favor or lessons learned helped them in their later career in ways they could not have foreseen. 

“Well, I’m the luckiest man alive, I want to be very clear on that. That said, I believe that personal responsibility is where everything starts… When you start to look backward, you see all of those doors or those parts that you had a for in the road and chose the right path. That was luck.”

Jim Brown, Entrepreneur

For many leaders, it takes a little time to realize that luck has played a role in their careers. They cannot take credit for simply pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, not entirely. Despite how smart, hard-working and capable these leaders are, they all agree that without luck, they wouldn’t be exactly where they are today.

We’ve felt honored to share these stories – and are eager to continue sharing through 2020.  Please follow our podcast and share these lessons liberally.  If you and/or someone you know would be a great guest, we’d be honored to have you be a part of Zero Excuses. You have zero excuses not to!

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