In today’s episode, Nicholas connects with Bob Gentzler, the Channel Development Director at ConnectWise. Bob has been navigating the IT world for 40 years. Outside work, he is a Certified Leadership Coach and Executive Peer Group Facilitator. 

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[Nicholas]

Ladies and gentlemen, hold on to your hats and buckle up for a wild ride because we’ve got a guest on the show today who’s been navigating the IT world for a whopping 40 years. Let me introduce to you the one and only Bob Gensler, a man who, you know, his resume reads like a rollercoaster of success and adventure.

Now, Bob, isn’t your run of the mill IT guru? Oh no. He’s also an apprentice to none other than Jesus himself.

Yep. You heard it. That’s right.

When he’s not cracking the code of complex computer systems, he’s delving into the mysteries of life with the ultimate mentor. But wait, there’s more. Bob’s not just a tech whiz.

He’s a family man too, with three kids and six grandchildren. That’s amazing. He’s practically running his own IT dynasty at home.

And let’s not forget his 25-year stint at IBM, where he climbed the corporate ladder not once, but twice, landing himself on top of not just one, but two successful IT organizations. But that’s not all. Bob’s also a man of the cloth, serving his men’s ministry for years, spreading the good word while snapping some killer pics on his camera.

And if that wasn’t enough, he’s the go-to guy for 50 IT big shots each quarter, facilitating discussion and dropping knowledge bombs left and right and center. So, strap it on, folks, because we’re about to take a deep dive into the mind of Bob Gensler, where IT expertise meets spiritual enlightenment, and management gets a run for its money against true leadership. Welcome to the show, Bob.

And Bob, thank you for joining me today. You know, wow, what an exciting career. Can you kind of, you know, delve into a little bit of an intro for us on that?

[Bob]

Wow. Yeah. So, yeah, you could tell I don’t write my own material.

That was great. I’d like to meet that guy. Yeah, that was fun, Nick.

Thank you. And it’s a joy to be here. Thank you.

It’s fun to be here. Yeah. So, yeah, I really have been blessed.

You know, it’s like most journeys, it can be messy at times. But, you know, kind of made it through 40 years in this industry. There’s always something new, you know, learned to learn.

And that’s, you know, so you better be ready. And you better enjoy that part of it. So, yeah, it’s been a it’s been a great journey.

[Nicholas]

And it’s and, you know, like, how did you start that journey? Like, did you know that you wanted to work for IBM your whole life? Like, kind of like, how did that start?

[Bob]

That’s it’s really funny. That’s a great question. So, so I grew up out in central Nebraska, the last of five kids to in a family of tradesmen.

And the first one to go to college, went to college, went on to grad school, Georgia Tech to grad school, you know, my family didn’t know what to do with me. And, and, you know, but you learn to work hard, right? And, and, you know, you worked hard.

And, but I also, and we’ll talk about this later, you know, the, but home life was hard, was tough. And because that affects my journey, too. But to answer your question, I, I got, I interned at Coca Cola world headquarters in Atlanta.

[Nicholas]

Wow.

[Bob]

And during my, between my two years of grad school, and writing, I was actuarial undergrad.

[Nicholas]

Wow, really?

[Bob]

And I was a numbers guy was a, you know, kind of an analytic brain. And, and I wrote math, mathematical programming for Coca Cola on and I modeled their entire advertising budget worldwide to see if it, you know, it was optimized. So that’s the kind of work I started.

And I thought that’s what I would go do. I took an internship with IBM. And in one of their offices there and did some work for them, you know, kind of while I was going to grad school.

And I accepted a job. I got an offer from Arthur Andersen to join one of the big eight accounting firms out of grad school. And, and I proudly went in, told the IBM office, hey, I got an offer, I think I’m going to, you know, go to Phoenix and, and they said, well, you didn’t even give us a chance.

Let’s talk. And so, two days later, I’m interviewing and I’m at a branch and I accept a job with IBM at a branch office in Atlanta, out of grad school. So that’s so and I said, hey, it would really be good to get a couple years of it experience before going getting a real job.

And 40 years later, here I am.

[Nicholas]

So that is amazing. So really, I mean, the path is really navigated. So, you said you’re the youngest child.

Is that right? If I Yeah, yeah. So that that’s amazing, though.

So, you left home and you kind of ventured out on your own through schooling, and then ended up, you know, through internships at IBM. That’s unbelievable. So like, IBM is like the Mecca of what we talk about all the time from like, leadership and learning and that type of thing.

I mean, from your experience, why didn’t you leave? Right? Like, if you knew, like the actuary and other things, like, what kept you with that organization?

What impressed you so much?

[Bob]

Well, I left twice. So, but I, yeah, right. So yeah, you know what, it’s, it was a different, it was a different time.

So, 40 years ago, before, you know, I just finished six years of college. And before I could go see a customer, I had another year of training, IT training, sales training, systems training. I mean, I, it’s just, we don’t see that today, is IBM just poured into that.

The other thing is they cared a lot about family. And they did a lot of things around families. They poured into families, they poured into, you know, they worked hard, played hard kind of stuff, but you worked really hard.

But you, you know, I mean, I, you know, two weeks of CEO training, you know, at Harvard to, you know, two weeks of CFO training, you know, view of a CFO and business simulations. And so, you know, the amount of training IBM poured into me. And then the challenges and the exposure to big business that, you know, you know, just kept my cup pretty full.

And I, we had a chance to move back to Nebraska, and took it. And, and I, you know, had a territory here and then, you know, moved up and got my first manager job in Iowa. And then a year later, you know, so you start the I used to say IBM stood for I’ve been moved.

And so, so we moved, you know, they moved me, you know, you had to go through this, they had a pretty rigid, you know, if you were on the ladder, you, you know, you moved, moved, moved every couple years. And, you know, when our kids were young, we decided not to and stayed in Nebraska. Once I said I wasn’t going to move, then my opportunities changed.

And, I mean, and a group of us created this reseller. And I joined a couple guys in a reseller, we grew that in five years to about 180 million 140 million under my watch. And then it’s sold to a private equity backed company.

And IBM said, hey, would you come back into the channel organization and show others how to grow like you did. So, I got to, I got introduced in the M&A world, because for a lot of IBM reseller, resellers that weren’t carrying IBM, that was a, the way to get into that was to buy an IBM reseller. So, I ended up doing a lot of matchmaking and kind of got familiar with the M&A world.

And, and then being in the middle of Nebraska, where nobody else wants to live, which is why I love it out here. You know, they, the, I got, I’d be able to say, hey, this account, this big account or this opportunity is it needs help. Gents, would you come do it.

So, I got exposed to all parts of the IBM business, I became the senior location manager at IBM in my second round. And, and each year, each time after about 12, 12 and a half years, I’d get a little, you know, the, the, just the weight of that organization, you know, and the bureaucracy, whatever you want to call it, I mean, and, you know, other opportunities would start to, you know, the entrepreneurial spirit, the opportunities would come. And, and so I chose to leave again, and joined a little staffing firm, I like to say, promoted twice, fired once in six months, that, you know, so I got my lessons there on better, quite asking better questions as you interview.

And, and I really got my exposure into EQ and the impact that leaders that, you know, that what we do as leaders is really impacted by where we came from. And without, you know, and I’m not going to share the story of the leader I worked for, but, but it just, it wasn’t, you know, what I didn’t realize I was the 11th person, 11th man that she had put in that role and fired. And, and so, you know, you become pretty reflective on, wow.

So, you know, after that, I got an opportunity to kind of turn around an MSP for a family office that acquired it. And, and that’s really my entry into the managed services business for the first time just eight years ago, or nine years ago now. And so, I had to learn small business, and kind of what it takes to run that, which has been a delightful challenge.

Did that, we got it turned around, handed it back to the family and ended up with a software company. And they got acquired by PE Back Software Company. And that’s where I am today at a company called ConnectWise, which provides software to managed service providers to help them run their businesses.

But so yeah, it’s been a, it’s, you know, a ragged journey sometimes. But, you know, and yeah, but it’s been a good one. So that’s kind of my story.

[Nicholas]

Yeah, that’s amazing.

[Bob]

I love that.

[Nicholas]

And it’s interesting to hear kind of, it seems like kind of the lesson from your story too, is kind of seize the opportunity, right? Like, I guess a lot of people sometimes are afraid to kind of lean into that and seize the opportunity. But in those circumstances, you did, and then you kind of, you improve them and made that better, which opened other doors to you.

You know?

[Bob]

Yeah, I always, I always taught my teams that worked for me, I always said, hey, you always got three choices, you know, you can quit, bitch or change.

[Nicholas]

I like that.

[Bob]

And no matter where you are, that’s all the choices you have. And so, you can either leave if you don’t like it, or, you know, then you have an option to complain about it, which is going to ruin your career. And so, you really have either leave or change.

And the change can be, if you’re in a position of authority and can make changes to the business, great. If you’re not, you’re going to have to accept the change. And so, at some point you kind of go, hey, I’ve got really two valid choices, which is, am I going to, you know, can I thrive here, or do I have to leave?

And so, you know, that’s, and I think that’s a valid opportunity, a valid question that I ask, you know, everybody that worked for me, which is when they were unhappy with the company or unhappy, which is, hey, be part of the change or, or find something to go, you know, that, that, that you can go through yourself into.

[Nicholas]

Yeah. I like it. I love it.

You know, it’s amazing though, to hear kind of IBM from a leadership standpoint and how they immediately put you into situations to learn. And I think that’s really impactful to the listeners that are listening to today that might be in a small business. Many times, people look at that as an expense for their employees, right?

But it seems like it provides a lot of value to teach people, right? Inherently, we don’t know all these things until we’re exposed to them. And that’s pretty impressive in their part to start right off with, it sounds like they were teaching you, you know, how to talk and communicate to the CEO, how to do the same with the CFO and how to understand the business aspect of it.

I think that’s really crucial.

[Bob]

It was really driven, you know, technical foundation, technology foundation, but you had to, you had to speak the language of business. You had to, you know, you, you know, I really became a consultant within IBM on strategic planning and, and on finance and corporate finance, which by the way, which created the opportunity, which unknowingly created me the opportunities to become a corporate executive. I mean, as executive, because I was prepared, right?

So that’s not why they trained me, but it’s so that I could speak with execs. So yeah, it was, I’ll tell you what, the training was extraordinary. Their leadership training was exceptional and there’s, there’s been a lot written about it.

But they, what they learned is leadership really couldn’t be taught, you know, as a science, they had to put people into situations and what, you know, and what you and I might call EQ today. You had to learn yourself, right? You had to, you had to learn yourself and your own flaws and your own, you know, you had to struggle with risk, and you had to struggle with trade-offs, you know, that aren’t black and white.

[Nicholas]

You had to be put into the situation to see if you could overcome it or not. Yeah.

[Bob]

And so, you did a lot of case studies and a lot of situational things and games and other things that made you really, really uncomfortable. Yeah. And guess what?

It’s all the stuff that leaders find themselves in, you know, it’s, you know, it’s, you know, you got 30 seconds left in the game, it’s fourth down and you’ve got, you know, and you’ve got 40 yards to go. Right. You know, and some quarterbacks thrive in that environment, and some don’t, right?

And it’s just, you know, it’s, you’ve got to, you know, there’s a leadership aspect that has to come through beyond, you know, the fundamentals. Yeah.

[Nicholas]

I love it. That’s well said. And I think we talked kind of about leadership kind of in another way, your intro, you know, the way that you speak is very much about like serving others, right?

Like how you are coaching your team and talking them through situations and your attitude about it. Like, you know, and also you talk kind of about a faith background and whatnot, like what do you define kind of like servant leadership to be? Like what do you think for you is that?

[Bob]

Yeah, it’s a great question because, you know, when servant leadership, the language and that term kind of came about, you know, in the late 1900, 1970s, 80s, somewhere in there, I was a young guy and, but, you know, coming through college, it was just starting to talk about, I think academia has probably messed that one up a little bit because they’re trying to define it, right. And they’re trying to, and they’re trying to decide if it’s effective relative to other leadership styles. Yeah.

And the answer is yeah, sometimes, I mean, I mean, part, you know, but so to me, your question is a great question, which is how do I define it? Because it’s, because I think it is pretty vague otherwise, which is, it really is the service, you know, it kind of comes from, you know, developing people, building trust in a team, which would be consistent with, you know, you think of, you know, dysfunctions of a team and, you know, that foundation is trust, you know, and results. But it’s kind of the, you know, if you contrast that with maybe a historical hierarchical model, an autocratic model of management, right.

Servant leadership says, hey, you know, you’ve got to know and care about the people. So, EQ creeps into that conversation, which is, you know, kind of the emotional intelligence. And, and, and again, I think that starts with knowing ourselves.

And which is facing our own demons, facing our own strengths and weaknesses, which that means leads you back into your history, right, into your own life. And sometimes that’s messy. You know, for me, that was, you know, growing up in a abusive alcoholic home, which created a very driven kid with a high intuition, because I never knew which dad was walking in the house.

And so, I didn’t face that stuff till I was 45. So, I’m a different leader today than you were back then. And, you know, so I had to do my own recovery of through that, as a, you know, through that.

[Nicholas]

That’s, that’s amazing. Yeah.

[Bob]

So, you know, so I, but I think that’s, that just heightened my awareness. Yeah, that, you know, that these are people that are in our businesses. They bring their, you know, I’ve talked about this more, they bring their stuff with them to work.

Right. You know, our, you know, we want results. We have to have results in order to continue to provide for them and their families and our families.

And, you know, it doesn’t have to be selfish motivation. You know, nothing against good earnings, right? I mean, I’m a fan of good earnings.

So, you know, I, but it’s, but, but because it allows so much more reinvestment and, and there are people in our businesses and our communities and all that. So, so, so from a servant, I think it’s just a really high, you know, listening, delegating. And I think the thing I had to really learn that I was hard is, I could give people altitude sickness.

You know, I, cause I could see where I wanted to go. And I knew that, and I knew that if I could just describe the top of the mountain so well, that they’d all want to come with me.

[Nicholas]

And that, you know, really sell the vision.

[Bob]

Yeah. And I was, you know, could sell the vision and the challenges. The example I would use is, you know, a young single mom who’s struggling to make bills and thrilled, is glad to have a job, needs to be home to pick up kids and all that.

She just wants to know what, and I say, that’s an example, but it’s like, hey, I just want to know what you want me to do today. Right. Yeah.

I don’t want you to go to the top of the mountain with me. And they’re like, and you’re, you know, you’re giving me altitude sickness. Right.

I mean, it is. And, and that comes from a book at Gallup and I’m a kind of fan of their Q12 model of employee engagement, because it’s kind of starts at the base, which is, do I know my job? And then how do I connect that?

Listen, you don’t go to the top of the mountain on the first day you set up base camp, you go up to camp first camp, you make maybe multiple trips to carry stuff up there. You acclimate, you go to the second level. You know, this is a long process of climbing a mountain.

Right. And, and I was just, I just wanted to go there. Right.

And, uh, you know, I had to learn to, you know, Hey, you know, uh, you, you almost got to become Sherpa and not, uh, and not, uh, you know, you’re going to have to go up and down multiple times and find your way and get all the equipment and all the people you got to get the people in the right places, the right people in the right seats, you know, all the things we talk about as managers and as leaders, you know? So, so I think that when I say servant leadership, which is have we equipped our people to be successful?

Can, you know, do we see them as human beings that are, that have their, you know, that this is one part of their life that we have to bring together this, you know, this motley crew of people, this, you know, uh, this misfit toy, the group of misfit toys and, and do something really cool with it. Right. And, uh, and I think we can.

[Nicholas]

That’s well said. Cause I, that goes along. I think you were mentioning like five dysfunctions about Lencioni’s principles.

And I think it’s really imperative. Like you talk about trust, right? Like an inherent trust is required before you can actually implement that vision.

And I think you’re kind of, you’re really solidifying that, you know, I, I think it’s amazing, you know, to hear about it that way, but it, we kind of talk sometimes like, is there an interpreter to the vision, you know, person that has the vision. And, and that was a lesson learned for myself, you know, 10 years ago, realizing, man, uh, they follow, but they have no idea. They can’t see a week out, you know, two weeks out.

And I’m trying to talk about five years later, and it really needed that interpreter to really be like, you know, how does that relate to today? The quarter, right? Like the 90 days.

[Bob]

And I think you, you know, you’re a great example of where, you know, using a, using a system like EOS.

[Nicholas]

Right.

[Bob]

Uh, and having an integrator. Yeah. Who, you know, you recognize that maybe the person who can execute and drive accountability and drive a cadence and a, and a regular conversation towards that goal, towards the vision, maybe a separate person than a visionary.

That’s right. Because they have different skills, they have different capabilities, they have different focus. And you do need that.

You do need to, like you said, you need to say, hey, what do I need to do in the next week or the next quarter? Knowing that it’s connected to some bigger, to that bigger picture.

[Nicholas]

You talk a little bit about kind of your journey. Like, like what would you say, like as a leader from all of these years and the success that you had, like, was there core values or core principles that you kind of led with, um, that you could share with the, with the group? Like is, you know, did any of that inherently, you know, you talk about kind of, we were built from where we are with our family.

So, it sounds like there’s some core values that you had, uh, some bumps in that road, but like, is there any that you live by today that you’re willing to share?

[Bob]

Yeah, that’s a great question, Nick. Uh, let me say for the first many years, uh, you know, it was probably driven by fear, fear and hard work and fear of failure and hard work and, and some, some belief that, uh, you know, at some level of success and income, you know, the world would get better. And I see, I see.

And that’s probably true to a, I mean, the statistics would say up to $75,000. That’s probably true, right? There is some happiness connected to income.

Uh, so today it’s really, you know, first of all, the hard work and the, uh, is still, is still a base, you know, willing to not willing to do anything that you would ask somebody else to do. Okay. I mean, clearly there’s some, there’s some, you know, technical things I can’t do, but, uh, you know, uh, if we needed to pull cable, I’d go pull cable.

I mean, if we, uh, if you’re going to do layoffs, uh, that is, you don’t delegate that you’d go do them yourself. Um, because it ought to hurt, uh, you know, cause it does hurt and it, and it ought to feel that. So one is, so, you know, kind of do unto others, right.

Do as you would have them do, how would you want to be treated? Uh, and, uh, you know, and then it really comes down to then becoming more intentional. Uh, so as a core value, which is, uh, they can, they get, they can move, you know, what I want can move.

Um, uh, do I, you know, do I want to finish the race? Well, at this point, cause I’m near the end of my, my business career, right. Uh, you know, it’s easy to say, you know, God, family, and then work.

Uh, right. But boy, oh boy, that, that was just never the way I did it. That was just, I mean, if you ask for the report card on how I did on that would be pretty upside down.

Um, so I’m pretty, what I’ve learned is that, that I, you know, kind of my second or third time through a career in different ways, you know, really, really, if you can just do it with really, really high character, uh, you know, it kind of works out, right. Uh, you don’t, you know, you don’t have to try to be so self-serving. You don’t have to do, uh, you know, you don’t have to hurt anyone else too, to do well for yourself.

[Nicholas]

That’s right.

[Bob]

And not that I did, but it was just like, you know, I saw it a lot, you know, and, uh, you know, the, especially in big corporations, you know, the, what we would call politics or whatever, you know, but, you know, uh, so I think it starts with, hey, know thyself. Uh, you know, it’s the go-giver book, uh, you know, hey, your value, you know, uh, you know, we measure stuff wrong. Uh, and I measured it wrong for a long time.

And, uh, uh, and so, you know, kind of take care of the ones you love and the things you love and be intentional about that. Uh, the rest of it will take care of itself. It doesn’t mean you can’t be successful.

It doesn’t mean you can’t make a lot of money, any of that, but, but just, you know, get those things, you know, make the major on the majors, minor on the minors, but that means you got to know, you’ve got to write down what your majors are and what your minors are for you. Right. Uh, for you, I mean, and, and, uh, and, uh, you know, I’ve got a handful of things that, you know, that, and, uh, you know, uh, love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.

And I say spiritual metal of it, you know, physical and, uh, emotional, you know, am I taking care of my health? Am I taking care of those things? Uh, I’ve got, you know, and I, I kind of know when I’m my, when that four-legged stool is kind of Yeah.

Uh, right now I’m a little, you know, gotten heavier. I’ve got, and, and by the way, as I aged it, that changes, right. The attention I have to give to physical it’s different.

[Nicholas]

Yeah.

[Bob]

And I’ve got, and I’m not doing it yet. And I, and I know I need to, but I, you know, so, so listen, there’s always more to work on, but I think you got to look at, hey, what is it? You know, hey, well done at the end.

Right. What does that look like? Uh, and for each of us, that may be a You know, uh, as a believer it’s a, hey, can I, you know, uh, you know, I’m going to be held to account and, you know, how, and, you know, not all good.

And, but, uh, you know, do I, you know, am I really, you know, and I think God cares a lot more about who we, what, who we become and our character than he does about what we become.

[Nicholas]

That’s right.

[Bob]

Yeah. He could just care less about this. You know, he doesn’t care.

He can use it. He doesn’t really care about my success. He cares about who, you know, as a human.

Right. So, I think we can pass that on back to your servant leader in conversation.

[Nicholas]

I think that’s really important too. Right. Like a lot of the times that people that sometimes we’re coaching or talking to actually don’t have that goal or they don’t have that next step that really centers them, which, which sometimes is, um, um, scary for them.

Right. Like they don’t believe that there is kind of a higher power or a higher goal and which really makes them kind of stifle. And I, I really appreciate you kind of leaning into that, you know, uh, for me personally as well.

Like I realize, although I’m younger, as you start to look back, even in the small 20 years or 25 years, you’re like, is really all of this worth it? If ultimately, I’m going somewhere else and if everything that I’m doing is an intentional to the long-term goal. And, um, man, that is a constant rollercoaster, right?

Like I was taught, take care of everyone else, then work on yourself. And that is really difficult to change because you never get to that part, or I never get to that part. So, make being intentional to change that to be like, wow, the next segment of my life, I want to be around and have six grandchildren.

And if I don’t start changing it now, you’re not going to be there. You talk about like leadership too. Like we all, we all develop skills when we’re younger and then adjust it and we keep improving.

And I think we, we talk about this word failure all the time and we treat it like it’s a negative thing when in reality it’s, if we’re willing to fail quickly and, and learn from it, it only improves us. It just makes us better human beings. And to your point to help others.

[Bob]

And, uh, so I think, and I can respect, you know, I’ve learned to respect, uh, you know, I grew up, you know, central Nebraska, right? It’s not a diverse population and it’s pretty, you know, it’s, uh, uh, pretty humble, you know, it’s, you know, so not a lot of diversity and, and, you know, very conservative. And so, gosh, you know, you, you have a lot of things to overcome and to understand when you, uh, when you, you know, move into the rest, you know, into a broader, uh, into a broader environment and domain.

And, uh, and so, you know, I think, uh, you know, our character matters. And I think what we have to do is just continue to build our respect for others that differ. I mean, so, you know, I, I, uh, I was a church kind of Christian, but I know that I was a great Jesus follower because we just, you know, really understood that.

I mean, I think I just, you know, you did it and it was, and it was not all bad and it was, and it prepared me well, but it was, uh, but you know, how do you, how do you reconcile that with, you know, with an abusive home? Right. And I mean, it’s just like, you know, when you look back, you’re going to have to come direct, you have to, you’re gonna have to deal with that at some point because it affects you.

Uh, we can be that model at work, right? Back to servant leader. I mean, Jesus was not what they expected, right?

You know, they were looking for a war hero, uh, you know, conquer. That’s right. You know, and, and, and, and, you know, that’s not what they got.

Right. And, uh, and I think that’s, you know, uh, some people, you know, share their views pretty blatantly with us, kind of expecting us to fight and, right. You know, and if we can meet them where they are, uh, you know, a lot of times what I found is they’ll, boy, they’ll, they’ll go to work for you.

I mean, they’ll, hey, he was, you know, that guy, person, that guy, that gal respects me. Right. Uh, they allow me to be myself.

Um, they care, uh, you know, I, they care. I mean, it’s, it’s the virtues that Jesus would teach.

[Nicholas]

Right. It’s amazing.

[Bob]

Right. Yeah. He didn’t, uh, you know, you know, he didn’t, uh, you know, he didn’t, he was who he was.

[Nicholas]

Yeah.

[Bob]

He, Oh yeah. Like nobody, like nobody sets, you know, I mean, it was right. And, and, uh, so I think in that regard, we have a lot we can learn and we’re on that journey and, uh, you know, we’re on that journey together, all of us, and it’s kind of messy and, uh, we, and we don’t, we don’t do it well always, but, uh, you know, I think, like I said, I think he cares about our character and that’s a long, and I think he says what we, you know, uh, uh, yeah, basically, you know, we’ll, uh, uh, you’re going to stay on this journey until I return. And I’m like, oh, I guess I’m going to stay on this journey forever.

Right.

[Nicholas]

Yeah.

[Bob]

And, uh, I’m going to send you a counselor and I’d like a, we must need one. Right. So, you know, so I think that’s, I think we have to be open to that, to counsel and to, and by the way, that’s, that’s kind of the men’s ministry thing, right.

Is we’ve got, we’ve got to have people with objective eyes on us that will tell us the truth. Uh, and because, uh, you know, because often we can’t see it ourselves. That’s right.

[Nicholas]

I love that. And, you know, so many things that you’re talking about in regards to that into the belief system actually applies to what we do every day. Right.

From like, like what you were explaining, right. Um, uh, from a faithful perspective, you know, um, the Lord says, hey, if you don’t actually learn or lean into me or have a conversation, you’ll never know, right. Like I’m here, but I’m not, you know, if you don’t know me, how, how can we get acquainted?

And it’s kind of like in business, right. If you don’t know your people and you don’t, you know, lean into that, how are you to be able to follow someone or something? And, uh, today’s, uh, today’s, uh, reflection that I reflected on was about the sheep, right.

And that the sheep only follow one, one master regardless. And that, Oh, wow. That hits home, right?

Like they follow a leader that’s strong and knows that’s going to take care of them. And so, it’s kind of like, man, maybe we found the next leadership manual is the Bible, right? Like we could, uh, yeah.

Wow. So many things. Imagine that.

Right. Can you imagine that? That’s right.

[Bob]

It just isn’t, you know, it’s still, it’s still so anti-establishment. I mean, it’s still so anti what, I mean, we just, you know, and that, you know, it’s, you know, it’s the, gosh, we’re all struggle with this desire for more authority for more, hey, just do what I say. Right.

I mean, whether the, and, you know, a lot of leading is, is just like parenting, right. You know, and what I call the velvet hammer, right. You got to kind of be soft, but hit hard, you know, you gotta, hey, hey, you know, be hard.

You know what, what a good, you know, old adage is like, Hey, hard on the sin, easy on the center. I mean, whatever it’s, it’s really is about the people and, and going, hey, I, you know, Nick, I like you, but what you did was wrong. Right.

Yeah.

[Nicholas]

That’s so much.

[Bob]

Yeah. It’s right. We are who we are and what we do can be very different.

And, and so I think that’s a, just a maturing that we all have to go through to kind of, to be okay.

[Nicholas]

Yeah.

[Bob]

With ourselves first, but then, you know, being able to laugh and being able to see ourselves for the truth, which means we may need other eyes on us. But also offer that same freedom for our teams.

[Nicholas]

Yeah. And, you know, they kind of go back to a faithful man too. Patrick Lencioni is a good faithful man, but he says about, you’re talking about like, you know, you need to be humble, and you need to be hungry.

You gotta have to have a drive towards something. Right. And smart’s not necessarily intelligence.

It’s about like that EQ you’re talking about. Like, do you understand and can view other people? And it’s just amazing, you know, to kind of take all these things and really realize it’s, it’s a journey.

You know, what I learned yesterday and applied, I can learn to be better even more each and every day, you know, and that kind of goes along with one of the things in your intro, you’re like 50 high-end IT, a personality leaders. So you go from selling, being with IBM, and now you got this motley crew of people, like, how do you, how do you take what you learn and deal with all kinds of mix of, of a personalities? Like how, how do you do that every day?

[Bob]

You know what, it, it, nothing fills my cup more than that. It’s, it’s just, it, it, you know, it, it feeds me for the rest of the year. I do, you know, I get together with, that’s it.

Those 50 CEOs are in four different groups. We meet for a couple of days each quarter. You’re one of those, right?

We, so that’s how you and I met. It’s, it is sort of, it, you, you gotta, you know, I, if you look at my strengths, you know, and I’m a fan of StrengthsFinder and that, you know, you pick your, pick your favorite assessment tools, but, you know, DISC and PI and, and Myers-Briggs and all that. And by the way, I’ve been through them all and I like them.

They all shine some light, but, and, but, you know, some of the, some, but if you, if you, if you get under me, it’s really, I can see individuals. I do like serving. I do like, and, and facilitating.

The reason I love photography, I’ve learned is really because I love the, the act of seeing and, and, and seeing that and capturing that. And so, you know, when those, the nice thing about the groups that, that we’re a part of is that they, they have common objective, right? To, you know, and they have a common objective.

So, if you keep focusing on the common objective and you’re there to help them find that, and you put 10 to 15 really smart people in a room together, there’s really not much for me to do except to create an environment for them to share. To, you know, to make sure all voices are heard as best as we can to, to, you know, to give time and space and margin for that and, and, and, and not feel responsible for filling in the gaps, let some quiet happen where people, you know, so it can get uncomfortable and, and make it a safe place. And guess what?

I mean, these are, these are the principles that go anywhere, but I think that’s, for me, I walk away from there with so much more than I give. Yeah. And I walk away each time completely exhausted.

Right. Okay. Okay.

And my cup full. I mean, if I hit an airplane, I am like, I’m out drooling. I’m just like, I mean, I have spent, uh, because, because what that takes is going back.

I mean, some of the things you learn as a kid, right. For me was that intuition of what dad’s walking in, right. That intuition works out pretty well right now, because now I can look at this room and go, hey, this person, you know, she’s, she’s uncomfortable right now.

She’s, she’s engaged. She’s not okay. What do I, what can I do with that?

So, my job is really to facilitate an environment for them to share because, uh, and then if I have, you know, uh, experience that I can add great, but if not, uh, you know, they all, they all want to improve. They all care about one another. Uh, you know, if you take care, if you get rid of all that, uh, and if everybody knows they’re there for the same purpose and they want to help one another, uh, they could be, as you know, there can be some incredible bonds.

[Nicholas]

They know. And I hear you like to kind of like talk through the journey, right? Like we start young, we get educated, we go in, and we want to conquer the world and we’re, we’re conquering the world.

And then you’re like, man, we have to readjust. And now you’re kind of at the, the, the latter part. And you’re like, man, how do I express and give that back?

Which is amazing. Right? Like what a humbling experience, but I don’t know how you do it.

Meaning like with all the intelligence and all the knowledge you have to be able to sit and listen and not give like a fix. Right. Um, it takes probably extreme restraint.

Um, but, uh, so kudos to you because that, that is a skill that I have yet to, uh, master with, uh, still kind of being in that driving force and learning, um, you know, kind of to give that, that air, right. I, I oversee right now a really high introvert. I’m an extrovert.

And so, learning to pause with dead air is like count to 10. It’s like, oh, and I realized, wow, Nick, you talk too much. Like question, the statement ratio lead different.

And I stopped talking and it was dead air. And I like melding down inside and all the goodness comes out. Right.

Like, like what, what a talent to be able to switch from that high intensity to being able to listen. So, kudos to you.

[Bob]

Yeah, no, no, thank you very much. But I think the other thing you realize after a lot of years is how little, you know, um, and it’s, and it’s just, it’s fun to be around smart people and driven people and, and people who want to attain and do the right things and learn, you know, that, Hey, are willing to, Hey, I’m going to stick my neck out and do my own podcast. And, you know, I mean, I mean, it’s a, it’s a, it’s fascinating for me, uh, uh, to be part of that.

And so, you know, if you, uh, you know, if, if you embrace that, uh, you know, kind of, Hey, I, I’m learning and, and, you know, and if I can just, if I find do, if I do nothing more than what do they say, what the old adage, right. People don’t care how much, you know, until they know how much you care, you know, until, you know, if I can just go in there and care. Right.

Uh, you know, a lot of my mistakes will get forgiven. You know, I mean, when I don’t, when I speak over somebody, when I was like, ah, if I had waited 10 more seconds, I think the gold would, you know, we all do that. And so you go, hey, and so it takes a lot of grace.

Um, you know, we learn to give more grace. We learn to give ourselves more grace. Um, and, uh, you know, maybe that comes with all the gray hair.

I don’t know.

[Nicholas]

I don’t know. You know, I tell you like the principles of leading to that you go over are, is very much based around that, right? Like, uh, you know, like leading and, and we hear over and over again in this podcast for the people that have developed to be successful like yourself is that they’re constantly learning.

It does not matter where they’re at in their, their age or whatnot. They’re constantly curious. And that’s the common denominator that there’s curiosity.

And so sometimes when people aren’t curious, I’m like, you’re not curious. They’re like, no, I’m okay. And like, how can, how do you even the body?

How do you go home and not be curious about like something, right?

[Bob]

Um, probably curious about something, just not, not the things that would help us. Right. So, I, yeah, but you’re right.

I mean, uh, you’re right. I think that’s a great word. And, and, and then some kind of uneasiness that just says, I can’t be curious and then not at least and not explore it.

Check into it. Right.

[Nicholas]

Yeah. And I, you know, that, that might kind of go back to kind of the values that you have even consider even in the face side of things. Right.

I feel that journeys every day and I’ll never know enough, and I’m not meant to know everything, but that curiosity to continue to kind of hear it over again and learn something new is kind of like, I think the same principle in business.

[Bob]

Um, yeah, I think that is the faith journey. I do.

[Nicholas]

Yeah. And so, as we start to kind of go through kind of the chapters of this, like, like what is like a misnomer? Like people that are, uh, we hear this all the time that are like, well, I want to be a leader because I’ve been working so long, so many years.

I think it just means I should be a leader or a manager. And I think earlier in a side conversation we were having, you, you know, had a very big distinction between leading and managing. And, um, you know, could you share a little bit of that, you know, like for people that want to think that they are wanting to move into that journey.

[Bob]

Yeah, that’s great. I, yeah, it’s one of my, uh, you know, one of the things I care most about is kind of that distinction between management and leadership. Uh, you know, IBM was great at training management or new manager, right.

Which is the, you know, the, the art of performance development of our people. It’s all met well, and you have to do it for the organizational, right. You have to, you know, and I, I take groups through exercise that says, hey, give me the words associated with management.

Give me the words associated with leadership. And you start to go, oh, okay. So yeah, because management may be control.

It may be budgets. It may be performance plans and development plans and performance appraisals and, you know, all the, all the tools, all the tools and running the business. Right.

Yeah. And, and, uh, MBAs learn that. I mean, they, they learn all that and finance and they learn that.

And then, and one of the things that business has done now is we’ve renamed second and third and fourth line managers into lead. We’ve called them leadership. We, you know, we have executive leadership teams and, and that, and, and I think that’s confused it because when you talk about management teams, right.

I mean, by the way, some of them are excellent leaders, right. And some of them are, are absolutely not. They’re excellent.

They may be very effective managers. They get stuff done. Yep.

But they’re brutal on the people they, you know, they, they, you know, I mean, there’s a guy that I worked for that. I said, I wouldn’t fall on him into a steakhouse. Wow.

Because to be a leader, you got to have followers, right. I mean, by definition, right. Uh, you know, you can’t, you can, you can name somebody as a manager, but you can’t name them as a leader.

You can’t, you know, you, that’s not a position and this is Bob Gentzler’s opinion. So, so to me, that whole leadership thing is going back to what we talked about is, uh, you know, are you trustworthy? Uh, are you, do you have a high enough character?

Do you build trust in a team? Uh, do you, do you care about the people? Do you, uh, do you care about the people in balance with the results?

Right. With accountability. Yeah.

With that, with that, with an account, you know, Jesus, Jesus was a great guy at tough love. Right. I mean, he did.

Hey, now go and do that no more. Right. I mean, right.

Uh, so there’s not nothing wrong with, you know, accountability and, you know, are you willing to listen to other opinions? Are you willing to, uh, delegate? Are you willing to take the, be inefficient enough to, you know, connect people to the vision and to the mission without just, you know, without with this, hey, memorize these five core values.

Well, I mean, I don’t know, is that really lead with fear? Yeah. Right.

And so, you know what I mean? So, yeah. And so, and by the way, there’s, there’s effective leaders who do lead with fear.

Right. And I mean, you look at our politics, I mean, people, you look at the different styles of leadership today and you couldn’t be more bigger contrast. Right.

That’s right. Um, and, and you don’t have to have high character to be a leader. Right.

Uh, but, but I think in the long run, in the business world, we, we, that would be what that’d be the strive. What we strive for is that it’s that. And so, so I would say I, I separate leadership and management.

They’re both important, by the way, you can lead from the first line, from the ground level of an organization. You know it, you know, there are people in our organizations that people look to that have no title. That’s right.

But they’re going, man, that when I need this, that’s who I go to.

[Nicholas]

Who do you go to?

[Bob]

And then if you start to say, and then if you, then you need to start asking yourself, well, why do they go to that person? And if you ask that question, well, what makes that person attractive? What you’re going to start to find is leadership traits.

Hey, they’re an expert. They’re humble. You know, like you said, they’re, they work hard.

They just get, they, they, they don’t demand a lot of attention. You call it GSD, get shit done. Right.

They do, they get stuff done. And so, and then, you know, then over time, I think, you know, over time that leadership at the top, you know, if you don’t have that EQ, that, you know, that self-awareness, then you get to the, you know, then you get some guys, you know, and some gals that tends to be in our industry, way too many white guys, which is different conversation is, you know, you get to there and you really find people, you know, what we used to call the right. People move up to their level of incompetency is because, it’s because we don’t look at those other softer skills and the ability to develop and grow and accept, you know, risk and deal with, you know, uncertainty and all that. And so, and, you know, and kind of, you know, crucial conversations and some of those kinds of books all, they all exist because we struggle with those things.

You know, I struggle with conflict because I grew up in a house full of conflict. And so, I was good at avoiding that. So, I’m, I have to be aware of that as a leader today.

Cause I, I do not, that my first action is not confront.

[Nicholas]

Really? Okay.

[Bob]

Yeah. So, I have to know that about me. Cause I, and because I, you know, it was a, it was a limiting factor.

[Nicholas]

It’s like to radiate.

[Bob]

Yeah. Yeah. I had to kind of go, if I get really uncomfortable about this conversation, I probably need to go have it.

Cause every, every little piece of me is going avoid, you know, avoid it. And I’m like, not as a leader, I’m going to have to, so I have to, I’m going to have to develop that.

[Nicholas]

Yeah. We call that the 24-hour principle. If it’s still bothering you 24 hours, go confront it.

We did, to kind of hearing you, you’re kind of, you’re kind of saying like, you know, you have to, from a leading and managing is completely different. And there might be a lot of great managers, but the leading is kind of the growth, the vision, the understanding of the, the organization to be able to then be able to sell that vision to those individual people and develop them. And I, I see a lot of people that are, that I want to kind of lead and manage, forget that now it’s not about them.

What you talk about a lot today, it’s about the people you lead. And it’s a really hard transfer for that sometimes some love that, but others are like, well, I still want the value of the success, but it comes from the people they lead. Yeah.

[Bob]

And I think one of the, and that’s the, that’s the, a little bit of the flaw of labeling people leaders, like executive leaders team, executive leadership team is they may have gotten to that level and earned it by being a, such an effective manager. Right. We call it, the reason we call them leadership positions is because we need them to lead.

That’s right. But that’s aspirational. That’s right.

And that, and the conflict comes when you put somebody who, you know, you put there, who’s very competent and capable, right. But don’t have the ability to lead. And so, then you end up with this organization, you know, yeah, you know, as I said, you know, from a national lab from animal house, right.

It’s Niedermeyer, right. It’s, you know, you know, you know, who could command, right. But was killed by his own troops.

Right. I mean, ultimately, I mean, right. I mean, that’s just, I mean, that’s, you know, it’s like your troops, I mean, it’s, you know, can you ever rely on them rather than yourself?

That’s right. And a lot of, and the challenge is a lot of entrepreneurs, a lot of us have incredible capacity.

[Nicholas]

And they can’t let go of the vine now.

[Bob]

Yeah. Yeah. They have incredible capacity.

And, and, and our teams and all the individuals on our teams won’t have that same kind of capacity.

[Nicholas]

That’s right.

[Bob]

And we expect, and we expect them to all be little us’s and they’re and, and as soon as you, you know, learn to assemble, you know, a motley crew, a group of misfit toys, a group of, you know, all that together, man, I think what you can build is pretty incredible. It’s amazing.

[Nicholas]

I appreciate that. So, we kind of, as we kind of wind down here today, I want to talk about the grandchildren. So, you have the, you have your grandchildren, your motley crew, right?

And, and so as they develop, like, like, what are the three things that you want to instill in them and all this knowledge and love and caring and, and experiences that you’ve had, like, what are the three things that you hope to instill in them?

[Bob]

Yeah, that’s a great question. I think, you know, you hope that they can avoid some of the traps, right? So one is, you know, I really want them to follow their heart, which create, which means we need to create a safe place for them to be themselves and to, to grow up with confidence that, that they’re, they’re okay.

And they’re loved. And they are, I mean, that they know, you know, even when bad happens and when I, when I mess up, when I do those things that I’m, this is the safe, this is this, this is the safest place, right? This is, you know, can we be Jesus to them?

Can we, can we be so safe that they they’re willing to be themselves and take risks and fail without feeling like that’s a, you know, and learn that as a lesson. So, I think that’s the number one. The two, two is I want them to know that food doesn’t come from the store.

You know, you know, I think we’ve lost, you know, a lot of the connection back to, you know, where, you know, that, you know, and so that kind of includes, okay, that water, all the things we’ve taken for granted, you know, you know, we, we just can’t. So, we’ve got to steward our, we’ve got to be a good steward. That’s those things I’ve mixed in a couple of them together now, but I think that is, hey, you need to know that did you realize that those cows were driving by, is that hamburger you ate tonight?

Right. That, you know, that, that water, you know, in the, that’s in the river, it’s in the aquifer that isn’t endless that, you know, that water is protected because we drink it. You know, it’s not, it isn’t, water doesn’t come from a bottle, you know, and so, and food doesn’t come from a can and food doesn’t come from a restaurant.

It’s, I mean, that’s, I mean, so I want to, I guess, and so lastly, I would say, and this kind of goes back to photography, which is, you know, is really to start to, is to slow down. I was never comfortable until the last 10 years or so with solitude and with quiet, because it’s so disruptive and it’s so exposing to what we, what we look to for medication, what we look to for distraction. So, we don’t have to face the stuff that troubles us.

And so, you know, to give them permission to slow down, I mean, think how busy our kids are, even compared to us as me as a boy, I mean, life revolved around mom and dad, not around my sports. And so, so those are some of the things, I mean, without Chris Bliss, those are some of the things that are kind of on my mind with the little ones.

[Nicholas]

I appreciate you sharing that. It’s very helpful to kind of understand and learn from that too. I think from your perspective too, from, you know, kind of the, the faithful aspect of things too, you know, you were talking about like, like the food, right.

And we can kind of relate that to the food of, you know, how God provides us kind of the value. But one thing that I’ve learned that seems kind of really terrible, like why haven’t you learned it before, is that word retreat. Like what does the definition of retreat mean?

And it truly means to kind of, to remove yourself. And only out of, you know, being a knucklehead sometimes, you know, God says like, I’m talking to you all the time, but you can never hear me. And it’s amazing, like to even wake up and just sit in silence for 10, 15 minutes and what you hear.

And, and you had said kind of the medicines and all this kind of stuff, like it kind of recenters you to realize that, you know, you might be getting direction and you’re just not listening to it.

[Bob]

Oh yeah. And yeah. And yeah.

And if you don’t believe he speaks, you’ll never hear him. That’s right. By the way, and I grew up, you know, in a church, in a Lutheran church, and that wasn’t even in my, that wasn’t even something we talked about, you know, and never thought about the Bible as a book of examples rather than a book of exceptions.

It’s like, and he still speaks. So that means, boy, I’d never, you know, so that was all brand new to me 15 years ago, that, that idea that he still speaks and, you know, and that there’s active evil in the world. It’s not like, you know, Jesus took care of that.

So, you know, I’m a little more all the time, like Gandhi, which is, hey, I, you know, I, I love your Jesus, but I’m not a real fan of your, your church, of your Christianity, which is because, and I, and it’s because, I mean, I’ve what we, you know, that’s a conversation that the church, you know, churches can protect us from all, I mean, the life that we are, that is offered to us through Jesus, it’s just is, is a life of freedom, right?

That’s William Wallace’s sword on my wall, a replica, you know, and, you know, it’s about passion. It’s about freedom. There’s so much freedom available to us.

It’s not a book of rules, but a book of, that says, here’s how you get free.

[Nicholas]

And that’s it.

[Bob]

And that’s it, you know, and it’s like, wow, I never, that’s not what I learned. Right. That’s not what I learned.

Right. And, and so, you know, so that’s been a unlearning in the process. You’re right.

It is, it is a, and he, and, and he does speak and it’s like, really? And when he, and when you finally get some of that and you go, wow, you know, and how do I learn that? And how do I, how do I learn to find the quiet, you know, that for the still small voice and all those things.

And in what ways does he speak? Right. Yeah.

It’s pretty fascinating journey. That journey is a different, that’s a different journey, a different conversation.

[Nicholas]

Different conversation. But what was interesting is somebody said, hey, I want you to be an angel to their kid. And the kid then says back, but mom, the devil was an angel too.

And I’m like, ooh, okay, well, I guess we have to reframe that.

[Bob]

Yeah, be careful, right?

[Nicholas]

Well, Bob, you know parting comments here, but from, from your perspective, people that are trying to go through this journey, you’ve been there, done that you’re continuing to live in it. Is there a book or a resource that, that you could share with them that’s been impactful to you that maybe they could check out?

[Bob]

You bet. So, what made me think of when you, and I’ll get to a book in just a second. What you said is, you know, on their journey and I’m like, okay, one of the best things I learned is when you’re going through hell, don’t stop.

Oh, valid points. Right. So that was one thing, you know, you learned.

So, a couple of things. One is probably the book that had, there’s two books that probably have had more impact on me. One is Wild at Heart.

John Eldredge wrote a book on ‘Wild at Heart’, which is really the journey of the freedom that’s available to us through Christ. Probably has the most impact on me and invited me into looking at my old stuff that, and that was a men’s ministry that I worked around for a long time. The other book kind of more practical too is Leadership and Self-Deception.

It’s a, it’s a, it’s, it’s really a book about the filters we put on when we look at other people and not seeing them, not seeing them how, you know, as they are. That book probably has, and some others I’ve talked to, it’s just, it’s really simple read and really, but pretty impactful. And then I guess lastly, I’d say, you know, like, you know, ‘Now Discover Your Strengths’, which is Gallup StrengthsFinder, which is, you know, kind of what are our innate strengths that we can play to?

Yeah, those are all, those books have all been good for me.

[Nicholas]

I appreciate that. Excellent job, Bob. Thank you.

As we kind of come to a close, do you have any parting comments or feedback to the, to the listeners?

[Bob]

You know, I would just say just the conversation we’ve had, Nick, this is delightful. I really appreciate the invitation. It’s been interesting for me to be on this side of it.

You know, don’t stop. I mean, I think that is it. It is a journey.

Embrace it. You know, I think whatever you would choose as your higher power, whatever you would see as your own higher power, you know, embrace that. And, and, you know, because that, you know, because I think it is, we have to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

Otherwise, the burden is just so, you know, you’re going to have to share. So, one is don’t walk alone, I guess, you know, you don’t walk alone. You’re not alone.

When they say the best time to plant a tree is what, 20 years ago or today, right? I mean, so, and so there’s nothing, you know, no matter where you are, you can, you’re okay. You’re, you know, you’re okay for you move forward from here, embrace it today and, and, and move forward and, and then just keep, and, you know, I think you brought it up is don’t let failure.

We just, I mean, all this gray hair and this experience is really a bunch of the other side of failure, right? And, you know, we could talk a lot about that, but it’s really what you learn from it.

[Nicholas]

Thank you, Bob. We appreciate you very much. And I appreciate you very much.

Thank you for, for leading us each quarter. And so, well, Bob, it’s been a, been a blast having you on the show today with your decades of IT experience, your knack for photography and your passion for servant leadership. You certainly kept us on our toes.

From climbing the corporate ladder to capturing moments behind the lens, you’ve shown us that true leadership is about more than just managing. It’s about inspiring and serving others. Thank you for bringing your unique blend of expertise and humor to the Servant Leadership Library and keep snapping those photos and leading the way, Bob.

Until next time, this is Nicholas Paulukow signing off for Servant Leadership Library.

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