SESSION 8. Summit Page.
WHY DID YOU GO TO SEMINARY? WHY DID YOU DROP OUT?
Trying to honor my father’s dream. I was struggling with my own faith at that time, and the authenticity seemed to much, so I dropped out. My father was profoundly disappointed. But I didn’t leave my faith. I’m like a child of the ‘60s. Everyone was playing with a lots of different sets of ideas.
DID YOU HAVE A BURNING AMBITION?
No. That’s part of what I left when leaving seminary. I didn’t think I was attracted to being a leader.
WHEN DID YOU FEEL THE LEADERSHIP FUELS FLOWING?
I had this moment when the founder came into the store, and I thought he was going to fire me. But instead, he told me that things were going terribly, and he split the job and I got a chance to lead.
WHEN DID YOU HAVE THE SENSE OF HUNGER TO GROW YOUR LEADERSHIP?
I had the fortune of working in a bankrupt environment. You had to lead or you’d be hungry. That gave you the freedom to try things without worrying whether or not they’re going to be considered or not, or whether you’re the right person or not.
A THEOLOGY OF LEADERSHIP
I was a “C” student, and told never to go to college. So with myself in leadership, either I’m a genius [chuckle], or it’s true that there’s a lot of people with gifts that don’t get a chance to use them. So, I’m interested in the stories of the people that engage with us, and I could have an influence on them. My theology is actually John 3:16. It doesn’t mean that it’s greatness as in a CEO, but that we’re all called to do and be something great.
I can’t believe how lucky I am to be leading in this historical period of time. How do we let the uniqueness of the employee match with the uniqueness of the customer? If our employees are engaged, then the customers are engaged. And you simply measure them by asking them, “What kind of feedback do you get from the customers?”
HOW DO YOU RAISE THE ENGAGEMENT LEVEL?
That’s the trick. There is no single answer. It takes someone who authentically cares about the people they’re leading. A lot of people get into leadership because they want to be the “ME.” You’re not going to shop at Best Buy because of me, but rather because of the people in the stores. Look for leaders in the stores so that the store can excel.
HOW DO YOU TRAIN LEADERS?
People are drawn to leadership because they’re looking for affirmation of themselves. True leaders get a higher fulfillment level out of empowering their people rather than personal achievement. Virtuous behavior is rewarded.
MARCUS BUCKINGHAM TOOK A SHOT AT YOU A WHILE BACK
We were a few years into employment engagement, and had flattened. Marcus came in, working for Gallup, and pointed at me and said, “You, I hold accountable, because you know better than this.” My first impulse was to fire him, but the second was that, “Maybe I’m a sinner.” He knew the two of us had the same philosophy, that I had a responsibility to lead. There is a moral component, such as a “destruction of character.” If it’s not getting better, it’s getting worse.
THE GEEK SQUAD
We acquired them, because they exaggerated the stereotype, and said to the customer, “We’re proud of it, and you need us.” We couldn’t have created it.
WHAT’S A TYPICAL DAY LIKE?
You’re always dealing with frustration, people that are irritated. It’s trying to find a way for folks, with differences and complexities, to get along. I’m kind of involved in group therapy.
WHAT ABOUT NUMBERS?
One of the things we’ve learned from the church is that we separate things that ought not be separated. If I have an employee that’s not working, then I know I’m going to have a numbers problem. My assistant tries to edit in my world where the needs are, and help me know where I need to be engaged, or where I cannot afford to be.
HOW DO YOU LEAD DOWN WELL?
You’re always trying to find energy and capacity, and encourage that.
DESCRIBE HIGHS, LOWS
One of my favorite characters was Moses, someone who didn’t have the skills, but he was called to do the job. I don’t feel like I was born to do this (there’s lots of reasons why I shouldn’t be doing this), but I was called to do this.
The first thing you go to is the base, from where leadership is from. If you don’t believe in the core of the work, then it won’t feed in to the individual’s motivation. That’s what keeps you going. Financial incentives work to a certain extent, but its not complete. Financial incentives is kind of a scoundrel’s way out of motivation. One of the reasons why I didn’t want to do business because I thought it was corrupt with greed.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR READING
Why do things happen? Why do people make things happen? What’s the story? There’s always these moments, these crucible moments that happen in these stories without constantly refreshing yourself. We ask everyone in our company to envision their story. Life is so much more exciting, powerful, and significant when it’s attached to a story.
WEALTH AND CHRISTIANITY
It’s not a good thing. You develop a deep appreciation of the “rich man through the eye of the needle.” You now have the accountability. It has its temptations, and its responsibilities, even where to give it away. We still struggle with how to put the right balance to put it together.
DOES EVERYBODY AT BEST BUY KNOW THAT BRAD ANDERSON IS A CHRIST-FOLLOWER
First, I’m running a secular company with all sorts of faiths represented. I think most could see that I’m a Christian by what they see. Now, there are times when I can’t explain something unless I use a parable, or from the faith. But I want us to be welcoming. I want people using their faith, but it can’t be a single choice.
And the hard line that I don’t cross is based on permission. Only when I sense that the person is willing, or asks me about it. The thing I’ve got to be sensitive about is the sense of power, and I’ve got to be careful about that. Once they open the door, it’s a personal conversation that I have a “green-light” on.
IF BEST BUY COULD BE KNOWN FOR SOMETHING, WHAT DO YOU WANT THAT LEGACY TO BE?
We have four values. 1) Family First, 2) Unquestioned Integrity, 3) Learning Through Challenge and Change, and 4) Unleashing the Power of Our People. I would like our legacy to be that this was a leadership team that really took those values to heart.
100,000 PASTORS/CHURCH LEADERS
I have one really passionate point of view, an insight that i’ve received: treasure the folks in the congregation, how they’re being enriched and challenged by their environment.
Honest, and like Wendy Kopp, pure. Brad’s humility, his integrity and his awareness of life’s challenges, joys and values is an exemplary example of leading well by living well, and by simply being faithful to the call.