Category Archives: 5 questions

5 Questions with David Hunt

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Every week, we ask 5 questions to a different person. The questions remain the same but the people change. Some people are leaders, some are followers, but all have valuable input. This week, to change things up a little bit, we’re looking at one of my direct employees as our featured personality.

Name: David Hunt

Location: Santa Barbara, CA

Position/Job: Retail Sales Specialist at REI Santa Barbara

1. Think back to when you were extremely motivated by a boss, leader, or teammate. What did they say or do that motivated you so much and why did it work?

Honestly all of my managers at REI have been amazing in their own way. Matt is terrific at recognizing people who are doing exceptional work and finding ways to increase productivity in less motivated workers. Lindsay puts everyone around her in a better mood by balancing her warm and sincere personality with a work-ethic that everyone respects. Wil is a master at bringing workers together for outside events, and making sure sales and membership goals are emphasized. I could go on and on about my experience with leadership at REI to talk about Dave, Piper, Mitch, Payton, etc (and I am still leaving a lot of people out), who are all stylistically different and yet are unquestioned leaders of their respective departments. They have all taught me to play to my strengths and embrace the leadership qualities I have while building on areas that I am less experienced in with their help.

2. When have you been very unmotivated by a boss, leader, or teammate? Why did it create a feeling of un-motivation to do your job better?

At RCC I was involved with a “leadership” group where the executive board was made up of six friends who decided to start a local chapter of an east coast organization. They had big ideas, and exceptional communication skills but never executed any of their goals that they spoke about in their first meeting which hosted over three-hundred students. The three hundred students quickly dwindled when they found out that they would not really be participating in any kind of reputable seminars, and the focus was more on generating profits to pay back the east coast operation. The experience made me realize that it doesn’t matter how excited you are, or how many people you can bring together for a meeting if you don’t deliver a product, or experience people that validates you as a leader. In other words, “Talk is cheap”

3. What is one characteristic you look for in an effective leader?

To me the quality that makes a truly good leader is someone who wants to listen to the concerns of those around them. It’s easy to tell someone what to do, and even to show them how it should be done in your own terms. To create an environment where not only do people feel productive, but also validated with their ideas and contributions is a skill that true leaders always need to master.

4. When have you motivated another person to better themselves or to be more productive in their job?

I am currently developing a peer recognition program at REI where employees will be able to support each other for the work that we do every day. We experience unexpected challenges on a daily basis and a lot of times recognition for the way we handle those experiences goes unnoticed. When I see someone do a particularly good job, handling a tough customer, or cleaning up after somebody who didn’t do their job correctly etc, I make sure that I praise the effort to ensure they know their actions are appreciated. This helps motivate workers who otherwise might feel that someone else can handle the problem and/or default to calling a manager.

5. What is one piece of advice you’d give towards aspiring leaders?

I will refer back to question 3. Leaders have to be perceptive to what is going on around them and be able to respond with plans and goals that benefit their respective communities/organizations as a whole. If you are a leader people will look to you to help solve their problems and you can’t do that with incomplete information. An isolated leadership style will only allow you to work with the information you already have, but branching out and gathering knowledge from those around you will always help distinguish a true leader from someone in a position of power.

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5 Questions… with Patti Haberstock

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Name: Patti Haberstock

Location: Greenville, SC

Position/Job: Retail Sales Manager
1. Think back to when you were extremely motivated by a boss, leader, or teammate. What did they say or do that motivated you so much and why did it work?

I am motivated daily by a peer in my current position.  He sets an exemplary example of effective leadership by leading from the front with positive energy and a natural ability to connect with others through honest communication, innovation in the way he partners with staff to set and achieve daily priorities, and helping them to evolve and grow in their roles.  Working alongside this man has been inspiring to me and his positive influence will remain with me throughout my career.

2. When have you been very unmotivated by a boss, leader, or teammate? Why did it create a feeling of un-motivation to do your job better?

At a time early in my retail career, I was unsure about the priority of a number of tasks assigned.  When I asked about it, my boss told me, “Get them all done, sucker”.  Not only did that statement not help me to learn about setting priorities, but has stuck with me all of these years as an example of ineffective leadership behavior.

3. What is one characteristic you look for in an effective leader?

Honesty – not only in expectations and performance feedback, but also regarding our business climate and company direction.  It’s easier to pull together through the tough times when everyone knows their part and how it will impact the big picture.

4. When have you motivated another person to better themselves or to be more productive in their job?

We have very high expectations of our sales staff and it is my responsibility to see that each staff member performs to their highest potential.  A number of months ago, I positively influenced an underachiever who had potential to grow in his role.  He was very shy and had a hard time making eye contact with customers.  Though he had product knowledge of his department and was cordial; he was not very effective in sales techniques or in promoting our co-op.  I observed his behavior on a regular basis and coached to enable him with more successful behaviors.  As he listened and learned from coaching, he gained confidence and increased his desire to improve his effectiveness in sales techniques.  He grew in his skill set to the point that he had a much stronger floor presence and even received an “Employee of the Month” award.

5. What is one piece of advice you’d give towards aspiring leaders?

Never get so grounded in your own viewpoint that you do not listen or learn from your staff. Over the many years that I’ve held leadership positions through a varied career path, I’ve learned some very good lessons from heeding this advice; and I have learned some very bad lessons from the times that I did not heed this advice.

Every week, we ask 5 questions to a different person. The questions remain the same but the people change. Some people are leaders, some are followers, but all have valuable input. 

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5 Questions With Dave Troutner

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Name: Dave Troutner

Location: Santa Barbara, CA

Position/Job: Retail Management
1. Think back to when you were extremely motivated by a boss, leader, or teammate. What did they say or do that motivated you so much and why did it work?
I was very motivated by a peer at our leadership conference one time. What I heard from him was the desire and drive to always do better. He was not talking (posturing) to make himself look better, he was just telling what he thinks and does. I challenged myself to emulate that drive. He has become a long time mentor and friend.
2. When have you been very unmotivated by a boss, leader, or teammate? Why did it create a feeling of un-motivation to do your job better?
I was very unmotivated by a boss because it was obvious that the other things they had going on were always more important than what was going on with us. They rarely called or visited. When they did come to the location they were always distracted and in a hurry to move on to the next. Never gave the impression that they were truly “there”.
3. What is one characteristic you look for in an effective leader?
Forthrightness. I want to know the truth, even if it hurts or sucks. Don’t dance around the subject and be politically correct. Tell me how it is and I will find a way to make it work.
4. When have you motivated another person to better themselves or to be more productive in their job?
I told a manager one time that I expected more from her. She was always doing okay, but I knew there was more potential, and didn’t want her to just glide by on what she was doing because it was easy for her. She kicked in gear and got promoted.
5. What is one piece of advice you’d give towards aspiring leaders?
Be authentic to your style. This will come across as sincere and people will trust and follow.

Every week, we ask 5 questions to a different person. The questions remain the same but the people change. Some people are leaders, some are followers, but all have valuable input. 

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5 questions with Jessica Leonard

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Name: Jessica Leonard

Location: Ashland, Oregon

Position/Job: Spatial Analysis Program Manager
1. Think back to when you were extremely motivated by a boss, leader, or teammate. What did they say or do that motivated you so much and why did it work?
It is very motivating when a boss is excited about the outcome of a project. If it feels like no one cares what you are working on, it is easy to start slacking off. Also, when a project is successful and a boss is grateful and praises your work, it makes you want to keep aiming higher and pleasing them.
2. When have you been very unmotivated by a boss, leader, or teammate? Why did it create a feeling of un-motivation to do your job better?
Being micromanaged can be incredibly unmotivating. People often get stuck in the minutia of details and forget the big picture. When someone constantly questions every decision you make, it disrupts the process and can make it difficult to stay on track. Creating small goals and friendly check ins along the way can be beneficial without being overbearing.
3. What is one characteristic you look for in an effective leader?
Positivity! Don’t drag me down, man.
4. When have you motivated another person to better themselves or to be more productive in their job?
I’m generally super excited about making maps and performing data analysis which rubs off on my interns. Celebrating their accomplishments and giving constructive feedback while teaching them little tips and tricks along the way usually leads to them learning new tools on their own and enhancing their own creative process.
5. What is one piece of advice you’d give towards aspiring leaders?
Happy leaders breed happy, productive employees and teammates.

Every week, we ask 5 questions to a different person. The questions remain the same but the people change. Some people are leaders, some are followers, but all have valuable input. 

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5 questions with Kyle Newsom

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Name: Kyle Newsom

Location: Santa Rosa, CA

Position/Job: Retail Sales Manager

1. Think back to when you were extremely motivated by a boss, leader, or teammate. What did they say or do that motivated you so much and why did it work?

When I was working toward becoming endorsed for my current position my boss at the time trusted me to develop and execute a plan for a big event. He reported back to me after his management meeting to let me know that his boss was impressed with “his” work and wanted the rest of the management team to start turning in their “action plans” the same way. He immediately explained that the work was not his but mine and that he had given me zero input on what I should do when formulating a plan. It was motivating to know my talents were being recognized.

2. When have you been very unmotivated by a boss, leader, or teammate? Why did it create a feeling of un-motivation to do your job better?

There was a time I went to a boss with an idea to improve a process. I spent a good deal of time researching the pros and cons of my idea before presenting it. I scheduled time to meet with my boss and his first response to my idea was, “We’re not going to do that. Is there anything else?” I felt as if my idea wasn’t heard. I felt unimportant. I felt unmotivated.

3. What is one characteristic you look for in an effective leader?

An effective leader is present. An effective leader leads from the front and must work side by side to have a clear understanding of his/her team’s needs.

4. When have you motivated another person to better themselves or to be more productive in their job?

I have a very competitive staff. They are competitive to sale, to receive good customer reviews, and to generally outshine every other department.  I used this competitive spirit to motivate one of my staff to work toward her endorsement for management. The first thing I assigned to my endorsement candidate was an overhaul of our department’s communication board. She asked me how best to approach this task and my response was, “no rules, just do it better than I did.” The result was something I would have never thought of doing and 6 months later she was endorsed for management (faster than I had made the transition).

5. What is one piece of advice you’d give towards aspiring leaders?

Pass off the credit and take the blame!

When your boss commends you for a job well done, blame it on your team. When your boss comes down on you for something your team did wrong, learn the following phrase; “This was my fault because I failed to set clear expectations. I will make sure I do a better job communicating my expectations to the team so this does not continue to happen.”  Your team will know when you are passing on the credit and your boss will respect you for taking the blame.

Every week, we ask 5 questions to a different person. The questions remain the same but the people change. Some people are leaders, some are followers, but all have valuable input. 

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5 questions with Kat Cavanaugh (my sister)

I’m going to begin a new feature called “5 questions with…” where different folks will be asked about leadership experiences they’ve witnessed or experienced. The questions will be the same; the people will not. Some people may be managers whereas others may have simply worked under leaders. Either way, we can all learn a lot by having a conversation together. So here goes!

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Name: Kat Cavanaugh

Location: Orland Park, IL

Position/Job: Nurse’s Assistant by day/Hair Stylist by night

1. Think back to when you were extremely motivated by a boss, leader, or teammate. What did they say or do that motivated you so much and why did it work?

They focused on the things I was doing well and was sure to compliment me so I kept doing a good job.

2. When have you been very unmotivated by a boss, leader, or teammate? Why did it create a feeling of un-motivation to do your job better?

I was unmotivated when my boss was negative and didn’t display what she wanted out of the other employees.

3. What is one characteristic you look for in an effective leader?

A positive attitude

4. When have you motivated another person to better themselves or to be more productive in their job?

Everyday I motivate my workout partner to not give up.

5. What is one piece of advice you’d give towards aspiring leaders?

Have a good attitude and smile, it goes a long way.

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