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7 Questions with Brett Beal
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7 Questions with Brett Beal
Name: Brett Beal
Current title: Chief Experience Officer
Current organisation: DaysToHappy
Brett has a background in Leadership & Organizational Development. He has been married for over 25 years and has 5 wonderful children and one amazing daughter-in-law! Brett spends his free time cycling, trail running, mountain biking and traveling as time and conditions permit.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
I think there are many challenges of leadership, but three come to mind:
1. Focus - understanding what work is most critical to move the strategy forward and staying absolutely focused on that work
2. People - demonstrating the care, compassion, vision, support that people need to thrive yet at the same time demanding the extra effort required to deliver exceptional outcomes.
3. Letting go - at the end of the day, being able to set work aside and focus on family and other priorities.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I spent 20 years working on corporations gaining experiences that prepared me for my current role. I worked in large companies and small companies. I led expansion projects opening new sites and new facilities. I led teams and functions and spent time in Sr. level individual contributor roles. I don't think there is really a "story" to share, it is simply the next step in an ongoing journey to constantly improve, be open to new experiences, and find opportunities to contribute in more powerful ways.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I usually wake at 5:00 AM and spend 30 minutes reading, reflecting and studying to get ready for the day. I will then focus on my most critical tasks before 8:00 AM. I love to get those critical work elements finished before most people get started. I will also schedule time late morning for some sort of exercise (e.g., cycling, running, etc.) and then after my workout , power through for the rest of the day. I love the break in the day to disconnect and feel it gives me energy again in the afternoons when I need it the most.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
It's an idea I think of as the "next critical action." We have plans and targets, but sometimes, you simply need to dig in and focus on the next action you need to take. In our organization, we were struggling in an area and we were talking about what to do, putting plans together, building roadmaps, etc, but it wasn't until we became very tactical on the next critical action that we began to see the benefits we needed.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
There are two books that have impacted me significantly. The first is "Good to Great" by Jim Collins. I love his Hedgehog principle and his leadership concept around Level 5 leaders. The second is the Team of Leaders by Paul Gustavson. It's a brilliant book on how to create Teams of Leaders with rich OD insights and simple practical steps to be successful.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
That's a million dollar question! I use a learning model that I think provides some good guidance:
Experience - leaders need to experience a variety of different situations and they need to be pushed to capture the learning from each
Exposure - leaders need exposed to different ways of thinking, new ideas, new frameworks, and they need to become more comfortable with more options
Education - leaders do need to be educated at times. This can come through classes, self-study, or coaching, but there is value in formal learning processes to help build leadership capacity.
Environment - finally, leaders need an environment (or culture) where learning and growth is valued. Part of this is accepting failure and tolerating the appropriate level of risk taking.
When we apply each of these 4 elements effectively, we can successfully build leadership capacity.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
I was working with a company during the beginning stages of COVID. A member of our team saw an opportunity to extend our platform into a space that was available due to the changes and lockdowns associated with COVID. This opportunity took us away from our target market and distracted us from our "core" business. Unfortunately, we allowed the market opportunity to "distract" us from our core business and it took months to recover. It was a good reminder in the power of focus and simply being very clear with who the target market is and staying focused even in the face of appealing opportunities in other areas.