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7 Questions with Jeffrey P McNulty
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7 Questions with Jeffrey P McNulty
Name: Jeffrey P McNulty
Current title: Founder & CEO
Current organisation: New Retail Ethos Publications
International author, speaker, retail leadership coach, and retail analyst Jeffrey P. McNulty is the Founder & CEO of New Retail Ethos. New Retail Ethos is a Retail Consultancy that is internationally recognized for its innovative and pioneering strategies that help retailers and businesses overcome insurmountable obstacles. Mr. McNulty spent 30 years in the retail sector as an Executive Leader with The Home Depot, Lowes, Barnes & Noble, ShopKo, PetSmart, Toys R Us, Publix Supermarkets, and Festival Foods. His recently published book: The Ultimate Retail Manual has an International Presence with readers in Canada, Mexico, Ireland, UK, France, Germany, Italy, India, Spain, Sweden, Poland, Croatia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Lithuania, South Africa, and Australia.
Mr. McNulty’s intentions for writing this manual were to communicate the best practices that he learned through EMPIRICAL RESULTS as opposed to THEORETICAL IDEAS with hands-on experiments, implementation of the concepts within, and massive employee, customer, and vendor feedback throughout his tenure within the retail sector.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
As the Founder & CEO, I set the tone for the entire company. “A fish stinks from the head down” is a mantra that I always keep in the front of my mind. When I lead with exemplary character, sterling integrity, honesty, and transparency I am consciously creating the culture of our company which provides a blueprint for the employees and leaders to easily follow.
I have found that even during tumultuous periods there are incredible opportunities for growth. I choose to perceive things through the periscope of opportunities to excel, succeed, learn, and ascend. As a servant leader, communication, empathy, kindness, engagement, and connectedness are the five anchors which encompass my leadership style. I genuinely care about the people who work with me and I will always treat them like family.
I created an acronym called S.A.G.E. (Sincere-Authentic-Genuine-Engaged) that keeps me centered and grounding for ensuring that my intentions are honorable and true.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
After spending 30 years in the retail sector as an executive leader with The Home Depot, Lowes, ShopKo, Barnes & Noble, PetSmart, Toys R Us, Publix, and Festival Foods as well as having 13 years of experience as a retail analyst, I decided to open my own retail consultancy.
There comes a moment in your life when you intuitively sense a higher calling that you are guided to embrace. The universe kept revealing to me that I was meant to start a new venture that would provide additional opportunities for growth.
I thoroughly enjoyed my long tenure in the retail sector. I am honored to have worked with so many true servant leaders e.g., Bernie Marcus, Arthur Blank, Ron Brill, Ken Langone, Marvin Ellison, etc. I feel blessed and grateful for the opportunity to share the cacophony of knowledge that I gleaned from my retail tenure with others.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I have always believed in getting a great night’s sleep. I usually go to bed around 10:30p and I wake up at 6:30a.
1. 6:30 a-I start every day with mindful meditation for about 10-15 minutes along with a gratitude mindset for 10-15 minutes for the surfeit of things that I am grateful for. I practice intermitted fasting from 8p-12p (16 hours of no eating) which has worked wonders in my life.
2. From 7a-7:30a I work on flexibility and mobility exercises to loosen up my body for the day.
3. From 7:30a-8:00a I catch up on retail industry news.
4. From 8:00a-8:30a I engage and interact with my LinkedIn connections.
5. From 8:30a-9a I check and respond to emails.
6. From 9a-12p I “eat the frog” by tackling my most pressing projects. I build positive momentum for the entire day by this one strategy. This time is sacred, and I limit all distractions and interruptions.
7. From 12p-1p I eat my first meal of the day to break my 16-hour fast. I intentionally take a 1-hour lunch break to process and evaluate the previous interactions and engagements during this 3-hour span, a period of reflection, per se.
8. From 1p-4p I schedule specific meetings, phone calls, in-person engagements, and allow time for unintended interruptions.
9. From 4p-5p I block out this time to personally call or email individuals throughout the company to provide positive and uplifting messages i.e., congratulations, milestones, anniversaries, highlights, etc.
10. From 5p-5:30p I follow up on any pressing emails.
11. From 5:30p-6p I allocate this time to think, strategize, and reflect.
12. From 6p-7p is family time.
13. From 7p-8p is lifting weights and cardio work.
14. From 8p-8:30p is shower time.
15. From 8:30p-10p is dinner and entertainment.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
I have always viewed being a servant leader as a privilege and an honor that I treated with reverence and respect. When I was a first-time department head at The Home Depot in the early 90’s I was on the way to my car on a Friday afternoon to start to enjoy my weekend off when I realized that I forgot to write the department schedule for the following week. I rushed back into the store, punched in and wrote the schedule which took about 5 minutes. On Monday I noticed that many of my employees were distant and aloof. This concerned me because I was proud of my leadership style, which was inclusive, empathetic, and engaging. I asked my backup what was wrong with everyone? He replied that most of the employees were upset about the schedule that I wrote in pencil on Friday afternoon. It immediately hit me that I am responsible for the lives and families of 17 employees and this starts with the schedule that I write. I made sure to speak with each employee (personally) to apologize for my oversight and unprofessionalism. After this incident, I scheduled quality time each week to write the schedule. I wrote the schedule in blue ink (subliminally more positive than black ink), I used block lettering, infused colorful highlighters indicating time off requested, specific meetings, and training times, incorporated positive and motivational quotes, and placed the schedule in a plastic sheath. My schedules became works of art (which other department managers started to emulate) to show my employees that I truly value and care about their efforts, time, and commitment. The Leadership lesson is that your employees are the heartbeat of your store and should be treated with respect, kindness, and consideration.
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?
I still enjoy The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard. It was one of the first leadership books that I purchased as a brand-new department manager at The Home Depot.
I resonated with the main theme throughout the book of how to handle conflict resolution with an employee. Ken advises any leader to focus on the behavior of the individual while reassuring the employee that this is in no way a direct reflection of the individual's overall performance. He suggests utilizing the "Sandwich Method" where you start out by mentioning positive attributes the employee has (the top part of the sandwich), then proceed to the behavioral issue (the meat) and finally, wrap up with more uplifting comments about the employee (the bottom part).
I have utilized this method thousands of times since reading his book and I have always had favorable results. Once the employee understands that the reason for the counseling session is focused on a specific behavior and not the individual overall, they can focus their energy on improving the behavioral deficiency.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
I have always believed that the best way to teach others is through “Leading by Example.” The culture and values at New Retail Ethos start with my consistent actions and behaviors. I am extremely vigilant in ensuring that I am always acting from a place of respect, humility, compassion, empathy, kindness, and decency. I continue to improve my self-awareness and discernment skill sets by seeking feedback from other Founders & CEOs, C-suite leaders, and many different positions throughout the company. I created an internal advisory board that contains leaders from every level within the company which meets monthly.
A true Servant Leader does not micromanage or undermine their employees. New Retail Ethos provides a thorough onboarding program that consists of a “Buddy System” until they are completely confident in their roles and responsibilities. I ensure that each employee has autonomy, trust, and purpose. I have found that when you treat people with respect, kindness, and autonomy they usually become Raving Fans of your brand.
I created a few axioms that allow me to remain a razor-focused on my responsibility as the Founder and CEO:
1. “An Even Exchange of Energy.”
2. “Fairness is the Currency of Decency.”
3. “Confidence is Built, Not Given.”
4. “Kindness is a Universal Language that Everyone Understands.”
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
When I was the Vice president of Innovation, we were going to have to layoff many employees due to decreased revenue. I had a meeting with our CEO and asked for one month to improve our revenue situation, to which he agreed. I proposed a challenge to our sales team that we needed to land a billion-dollar client this month. Moreover, the employees had no idea about how dire our situation was. I was able to “tap into “each employee and bring out the best version of themselves, In doing so, each employee was hyper-focused on the task at hand and we were able to secure a 4-billion-dollar client.
This collaborative team effort brought joy and happiness to my heart. We were able to come together as a team to achieve this herculean accomplishment. Furthermore, we never had to lay off one employee throughout my tenure.