Episode 115: Mentors & More
with your host, Coach Sid Meadows
relationship, mentor, opportunity, industry, people, leadership, business, community, office furniture, sales, manufacturers, friendship, mentorship, leaders, advice, experience, referral, professional, friends, chief information officer, interview, intentional, intentionality
Coach Sid Meadows: Today, I do my very best to mentor people as much as I possibly can. In leadership, I refer to this as reaching behind you, extending your hand, and offering it to people that are coming behind you and doing what you can to help them succeed. I think as leaders, whether you have the title of a leader or not—you are a leader if you have the opportunity to be a leader. I think it is incumbent upon those of us—especially if we’ve been in the industry a long time—to help people along their journey.
Sid: Hey, everybody. Welcome to this week's episode of the Trend Report. I'm glad you're joining me today. This is going to be another conversation with just me and you. I haven't done one of these in quite a while, and so I thought I'd spend a few minutes and just share some things with you that were kind of on my heart—some things had been happening that I thought might be important to actually share.
Before we dive into this quick episode, I want to take a minute and read a review for you. We got another review a couple of weeks ago, and as always, I read them on the air, so you guys can hear them. I want to give a big shout out to the person that left this review for us, Kristen. Kristen, I really appreciate you! She left us a five star rating and a really nice review that says:
“I'm a big fan, I make time to listen to the Trend Report, because I want to be the first to know about the latest trends in the commercial interiors industry. Sid has done a fantastic job of varying the content, keeping it interesting. Being an independent manufacturer's rep can be lonely. The Trend Report helps me feel connected with others with the same goal. Keep it up!”
Kristen, thank you very much for leaving the rating and the review. I appreciate you. For those of you that are listening, if you haven't had a chance to leave us a rating or review, I would really appreciate it if you did! It does help our show reach more people and be discovered organically. You can do that on Apple, head over there to Apple iTunes—click on the show, scroll down, and you can hit the rating / Review button. Or you can head over to the website at Sidmeadows.com/podcast and there's a big blue button there on the episode pages that says “Love this?” So you can click that blue button and leave us a rating and a review right there as well.
With that, I want to dive into today's conversation that I titled, “Relationships, Mentors, and More.” This won't be a long conversation, but I do have some things I wanted to share with you. I want to start out about relationships. I think we all understand that. There are some amazing people in our industry, and throughout your career in office furniture, you have the opportunity to meet some really cool people. What's important about this is that we take the time and the effort to intentionally build a relationship with them—and that means focusing on getting to know them and not just continuing to talk about you, your products, or your services because you never know where these relationships can lead. I’ve got a couple of examples for you!
First I'd like to tell you about John. John is the CEO of Kiri out in San Diego, California. They are an acoustics manufacturer—acoustic wall tiles, ceiling tiles, things of that nature. They sold the business a couple of years ago to Carnegie, and I got the opportunity to meet John, probably about five years ago. He saw an article that Rob Kirkbride had written about me, and he called me. We started a conversation that led to an engagement, which ended up leading to me going out there to working with him in California, getting to know him a little bit, having some lunch, and just really starting to build relationship with him that continued even after our engagement ended.
Occasionally, we would talk on the phone, we talked about what's happening in the industry, and we do some zoom calls and just catch up. Then 2020 happened, and we all know what happened in 2020. But during that time, John and I would talk about business ideas, what we were seeing happening in the world of e-commerce, cool things he was doing, and some cool things that I was working on. He called me on Saturdays when he's walking his dog, and it was just a great time to connect, especially during that season of life. We just became friends.
Through the course of the time, John would send me emails. He's an avid listener of the podcast, but he would send me emails, and it would say, “Sid, I'm a better reader than I am a listener—please, can you do a full transcript of the episode?” And I actually talked to him about it one time I rolled my eyes, I'm like, “John, it is so much work to do a full transcript…” And he just kept on said, “I'm a better reader than I am a listener, please do a full transcript.” And so we did. We started probably about eight or 10 episodes ago, I don't remember exactly. We started a full transcript that you can read. That's on the webpage at SidMeadows.com/episode115 —whatever the number is—you scroll down past the show notes, and there's a big blue button there that says “Read the transcript.” We did that, because people like John kept reaching out to me.
We kind of laughed about it, after the first one, I called him, we played phone tag back and forth, we swapped some emails, we actually never connected. But over the course of the years, we've formed this really great friendship. And about three weeks ago, I was reading one of the industry magazines, and I noticed an announcement from Carnegie that indicated that John had lost his battle to cancer that started around 2021. And I just stood there for just a minute and took a deep breath. And I had this flash of memory of my relationship with John, the meetings I've had with him, some of the phone calls I had with him. It just reminded me how important it is to really build strong relationships in our industry.
Though I never connected with him the last time we tried to connect, it just didn't happen. We tried, I called him, he called me. But I never will forget our relationship with him or the impact that he had on me and my podcast. Because if you do read the transcript, that is because of John. So I just want to say, John—thank you for the relationship, thank you for the connection, thank you for your friendship, and thank you for impacting me and my podcast and helping to make not only me a better person, but today it’s a better show! You helped us put out better content.
As we think about relationships, there's lots of relationship opportunities for us to meet people, and to really go beyond just, “Hey, I'm your regional” or “I'm your manufacturer's rep” or “I'm your dealer” or “I'm your customer”... There's a real opportunity for us to build strong, powerful connections with people, and I want to encourage you to do that.
I'm gonna give you a couple of other examples about relationships. Many, many years ago, I'm gonna really date myself with this… I was working at Hayworth, and there was a global account manager. I met this guy named Steve, and we just hit it off—we became buddies. We work together closely, we're both global account managers, and just got to be really good friends throughout life. Through all the many years ago (because this was like 25 years ago), I didn't have kids when Steve and I met.
To this day, I still talk to Steve—not every day, not every week, not every month—but I have a very strong relationship with Steve, and I enjoy my conversation with him and our banter back-and-forth. Talking about the industry, what's going on, talking about family, talking about life. I visited Steve Nash a couple years ago when I went down to Florida where he lives, and I got to meet his girlfriend and hang out, have some adult beverages. It's just been a great relationship! Because intentionally we focused on building that relationship.
And a few weeks ago, I reached out to Steve said, “Hey, man, I need some help, can you do something and help me with something?” There was no hesitation whatsoever. He came right back, did exactly what I asked him to do, and without asking me for anything. I think that's one of the benefits of relationships is that you can really support each other and you can really help each other.
So again, as you're out there in the world today, meeting with people, engaging with people—really think about building relationships and what it is that you can add to this person's life, this person's career, or (maybe more importantly) what can they add to yours. To all of you out there that I've had the opportunity to meet personally, some of you I have really great relationships with, and some of you I'm just beginning those relationships with—you have a wealth of opportunity to continue to grow and to develop the relationships in your life.
Now let's move on to the next topic. I'm rambling a little bit, and that might be, because this is a little bit of an unusual episode. I only have some notes, I don't have a script or anything set agenda—so this is just me candidly talking with each of you.
I want to talk about being a mentor, just for a minute. In my life, in my career, I've had the opportunity to have some pretty amazing mentors, and I’m very grateful for what I learned from them and what they have taught me. Today, I do my very best to mentor people as much as I possibly can. Ignore the leadership, I refer to this as reaching behind you and simply extending your hand, offering it to people that are coming up behind you, and doing what you can to help them succeed. I think as leaders, whether you have the title of a leader or not, you are a leader if you have the opportunity to be a leader.
I think it is incumbent upon those of us—especially us who have been in industry a long time—to help people along their journey. That's part of why I do this podcast! All of you've heard me say this before that, you know, my goal is to help move our industry forward. I hope that this episode or these episodes, and the content that we share with you actually does help you and is moving our industry forward. But I don't want to talk about me and my mentors.
Today I'd like to talk a minute about my wife and her mentor. Some of you have met my wife, Teresa. She is the Chief Information Officer at a children's hospital, she’s the reason that we live in the Dallas Fort Worth area, and I'm just gonna tell you, she's all that in a bag of chips. Some of you know my wife—she puts up with me, which makes her a saint, in and of itself.
Many, many years ago, when we were living in Alabama, Teresa went to work at a hospital and she went to work for this guy named Tim. Tim saw some potential in her that he wanted to help her, and he became her mentor. He went above and beyond. He groomed her for the job that she has today, and he did it very intensively. He sent her to educational programs, courses, and boot camps, all to prepare her to become a Chief Information Officer. When she was interviewing for the job, she had two or three different job offers, and he actually coached her through that process. He helped prep her for the job interview, helped her negotiate salaries, and all those kinds of things.
Never once has Tim asked her for anything in return. Through the years, Teresa built a really really strong relationship with him, and they became more than just a boss/employee or a mentor/mentee. They became true friends. We even had the opportunity to travel with Tim. He invited Teresa to speak at an event in Singapore. We went to Singapore for 10 days, got to know Tim pretty well, ate some chili crab with Tim over in Singapore. Tim just went above and beyond in helping and supporting my wife.
This past year, the College of Health Information Management executives (which is the IT of healthcare, if you will) awarded my wife Teresa, the Chief Information Officer of the Year. During her speech, she honored him and thanked him for everything that he had done for her career. But what he did for her also impacted us, impacted me and my children, impacted our family in a very, very positive way. I feel like this is very morbid, but just a few weeks ago, Tim lost his battle to ALS. It was a very emotional time for our family, because he meant so much to us, and he was so impactful and had such an impact on our family. Teresa got the chance to honor him, she got the chance to speak to him privately one-on-one, the chime organization recognized him and he gave a speech at that event where she got her award.
Leading up to his death, she had the opportunity to have them over a couple of different times, and then obviously she went to his funeral to pay our respects to him and his family because he meant so much to not just her but to our family. I say all this to tell you, if the opportunity exists for you to become a mentor—take it, because you have the power to truly impact not just someone's career, but someone's entire life.
If you're young or new in our industry, and you're looking for a mentor, be intentional about seeking someone out. Don't be afraid to ask someone to mentor you, because it's such a powerful tool to have a mentor. For those of us that do mentor people, it's an amazing gift to give back to our community to give back to people coming up in our industry. You are using what you've learned and helping people along their journey, so take that opportunity.
It's not about somebody losing their battle to a disease, but I thought these two things were really heavy on my heart, and I wanted to share them with you because they're very important—relationships and mentors.
Then tied directly to relationships is this third topic…
About four years ago, Jeff Carlson with MyResource Library invited me to an event with him, and the Independent Rep Group Network that gets together as a peer group invited me to speak. So I went out there and was speaking at the events, a couple of days. I knew several of the reps, some of them I did not know. I had the opportunity to sit at the table next to this lady named Angela. I had just met her. She's doing a startup company. She's working on her presentation, we're chatting, getting to know each other, I'm giving her some tips on better presentation. That was the beginning of a relationship that grew for many years.
After that introduction, we met and we did some work for Angela and her business partner, Mark—some competitive research, things of that nature. In 2020, just before the lock downs happened, my family and I were in Europe on spring break and we went from Paris to London to one morning on the train. We're hanging around London had already scheduled to have lunch with Angel and Mark, met us at a pub. My son Jackson says that that was the best meal we had the whole trip (he’s not a fan of French food), and he loved the fish and chips at the little pub we had at in London. We have had this opportunity over the years to work with and get to know and become friends with Angel and Mark.
Some of you may have seen my LinkedIn posts from a couple of weeks ago, where I've made a change in my career and what I'm doing. It's kind of a big change, and it was through a relationship that started about four years ago, through a random introduction sitting next to someone that has now led me to be a principal and vice president at thinkspace. The business that Angela and Mark started almost five years ago.
I'm really excited about the future. I'm really excited about partnering with Angela and Mark, growing, and helping to lead the growth and the initiatives at Thinkspace in the United States. I'm not going to give you a pitch about Thinkspace or anything like that, but I just want to share with you again that this ties directly back to relationships and intentionally building them.
I also think it's also about paying attention to your journey. We're all on a journey of life and business. We never know where the road is going to take us—what I'm doing today was not planned. I did not set out to be a principal of this business, or anything like that. It's something that happened and developed over time. As we became friends and colleagues, we built a trust together, because we were building relationships together.
It's important, as you walk down your journey, that you pay attention to the things that are around you. You pay attention to the signs that are being put in front of you about the decisions that you should make, about your career, and about your life. In October, I joined Thinkspace as a fractional Vice President of Sales, to help things base with their business strategy for 2023, to help get their sales on track for the new year, to really come together to push the business forward. That led to an engagement as a consultant, which led to me joining them permanently as a principal, and I couldn't be more excited about it.
The whole purpose of this is just to share with you that life's full of changes—life full of surprises. When there's an opportunity in front of you, and you feel like it's the right opportunity for you—take it! Jump. Go do it. You may be scared, it may be risky, and it may involve wandering into the unknown—but if you can seize that 20 seconds of courage and really look inside of yourself and realize what this could do… If you have the courage to make that change, if you have the courage to embrace change, and you really focus on you and your growth and your journey, then anything that you want to accomplish—you can accomplish.
Because remember, life is about the journey—it’s not about the destination. There's no end position that says, “I've accomplished everything.” You’ve got to find joy in the journey, enjoy it, and live your best life doing what it is you want to do with the people that you want to do it with.
I'm grateful to be partnered with Thinkspace, to join the organization, and I look forward to seeing all of you at NeoCon and sharing a little bit more about Thinkspace and our products. They do have a permanent showroom that was announced just a couple of weeks ago, suite 1099 on the 10th floor. So come by and visit, come by and say hey—that's where I'll be hanging out.
I just want to say thanks. I want to thank you guys for listening today for joining me in this heartfelt conversation, where I just had some things in my heart that I wanted to share and put it out there in the world. I hope that you got some value out of today's conversation. I look forward to talking to you again in a couple of weeks. Take care, everyone.