ASA 20 | Business Leaders


Being compassionate can be seen as a weakness of leadership, but it is actually a powerful skill. The word “compassion” has three parts – “compass,” which means direction, “passion,” which means having a heart, and “ion,” which is the smallest source of an element. Putting it all together, it is the state of being passionate with a sense of direction.

Alex digs into the idea that when leadership is expressed as art, massive profits follow. He reveals the three ways to handle agreements, the three responsibilities every leader must accept, and the nine uncommon reasons why great business leaders should weep.

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What Makes Leaders Weep?

In this episode, you’ll learn three key insights, which I believe are critical to making you a highly skilled ethical influencer. You’ll discover that when leadership is expressed as an art, massive profits follow. You’ll discover that there are three responsibilities every leader must accept. Finally, you’ll learn the nine uncommon reasons why great business leaders should weep.

The Iconic Herman Miller

I’ve been told that men don’t cry. They weep and there are nine reasons why men or women should weep in business. Herman Miller was founded by D.J. De Pree in 1923. It’s one of the most profitable companies in the Fortune 500. Although it’s number four, five, six in revenue, it’s number seven in profit.

Revenue never equals profit. Why doesn’t revenue equal profit? It’s because revenue is the top line and profit is the bottom line. How do you get more profit? You do it with leadership. That’s the reason why Herman Miller has been such a profitable company is because of their leadership. What kind of leadership? Servant leadership.

In a previous episode, you heard my story about how to engage and enroll the leader from behind. That was the wall story of going over the wall at a ropes course in Sacramento, California. The way Herman Miller has viewed their company, they believe and their culture is all about leaders don’t inflict pain. They bear the pain. In other words, they’re not command and control. They are engage and enroll.

The reason I love the Herman Miller case study as a company is because Max De Pree, who’s one of my mentors over the years, has taught me the three responsibilities of a leader.

The Three Ways To Handle Agreements

Before we get to leadership and why it’s so important with people you are hiring, with people who you’re enrolling, with people who are in your life, let’s talk about agreements. These are things that you probably have thought about, but have you clearly defined the three elements of agreements?

How do you handle agreements with loved ones, with colleagues, with team members or with your clients? Do you have these boundaries so that they don’t become problem children? Here are the three ways to handle agreements. If you’re $100,000 client of mine, this is the first interaction you and I have.

The first way to handle an agreement is to keep it. An agreement has three different functions. Number one, who is in charge? Who’s driving the agreement? Number two, what’s getting done and number three, when is it due? It’s who, what and when.

[bctt tweet=”You’ve got to renegotiate before the deadline, not after, because after the deadline, you’re out of integrity.” via=”no”]

One way to handle an agreement is to keep it. Fulfill the agreement before the deadline. The second way to handle an agreement in order to become a servant leader, in order to have greater profit because you have clear, concise and conformational communication, is to re-negotiate your agreement because it happens. In re-negotiating the agreement, it’s stating a different deadline before the deadline that was agreed upon.

If you’re the “who”, if you’re in charge of the agreement and you’re driving it and you’re responsible for it and you know what the agreement is, let’s say it’s putting up a webpage. If you can’t meet the deadline, in my company, two days before you re-negotiate with the people you made the agreement with.

Why is that important? You’re not keeping the agreement. You’re anticipating that you’re not going to keep the agreement. You’re making your leadership predictable to other people by re-negotiating. It’s not a weakness to re-negotiate. It’s a strength. You’ve got to re-negotiate before the deadline, not after. After the deadline, you’re out of integrity.

The third way to handle an agreement is to unmake it. Keep the agreement. Re-negotiate the agreement or unmake it. I learned this from my good friend David Allen and many people within the corporate world know him as a productivity guru. I know him as a friend and as a thought leader.

Unmaking the agreement is a function of, prior to the deadline, the agreement is no longer relevant. Something is made the agreement obsolete. You’re unmaking it. You’re no longer creating that agreement. You’re not renegotiating it. You’re not keeping it. You’re unmaking it. You can move on to the next one that you have. Hopefully, if you’re growing, you have a lot of agreements in your life. You can keep them, re-negotiate and unmake them. A tip of the hat goes to David Allen for that.

One of my mentors, Max De Pree, who was a former CEO of Herman Miller, in fact, he was D.J. De Pree’s son, he didn’t make agreements with his team members. He didn’t make agreements with his management. He made something that was much more valuable. It’s almost biblical or spiritual. He made covenants. A covenant is much deeper than agreement. It’s at a visceral level, and the company was driven by his employees, very high touch company.

The one thing that you may know about Herman Miller is there’s a famous Herman Miller chair, which I’m sitting in. It’s very expensive. It’s designed impeccably. The Herman Miller architects and designers touched it. There’ve been a lot of knockoffs of the Herman Miller chair. You can look it up on Google if you’re not familiar with it. There’s a big difference between the original and a knockoff. Let me give you a demonstration of that.

I can buy a Mona Lisa picture on Amazon, like a lithograph. I can buy one for under $20. The original Mona Lisa painting is in the Louvre Museum in Paris. It looks as good as the original painting. The one in the Louvre usually has the biggest crowd around it, of all the art in the Louvre Museum. There’s a lot of great art there. People just look at it. It was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, a bastard child and a genius.

ASA 20 | Business Leaders

Business Leaders: Revenue never equals profit.


There’s always the question of, “Why is the original so much more valuable than a knockoff or a copy?” People have different reasons why. I’m going to express my reason why that an original has so much more value than a copy or a knockoff. It’s not because it’s the original. It’s not because it’s one of a kind.

You may think, “It’s one of a kind, it’s more valuable because of scarcity.” No, I don’t believe that. I believe the reason why the original Mona Lisa painting in the Louvre in Paris is more valuable. In fact, it’s priceless compared to a lithograph I can buy from is because Leo touched it. He touched it, that’s what makes it so rare.

Leo touched that canvas that you see in the Lourve, but he didn’t touch the lithograph you can buy from Amazon. That’s why I believe that there’s so much value when a true leader, a true painter, a true philosopher has an impact on something. If they touch it, the original manuscript means a lot.

I remember when I was at a David Allen seminar, and he was teaching me the three ways to handle agreements, which are very easy to teach. You can teach it to your people. Number one, you keep them. Number two, you renegotiate them, number three, you unmake them. I had him sign my action guide. My action guide, I believe from that seminar is worth a lot more than a lot of action guides that weren’t signed by David Allen because David touched the action guide with his pen.

When you think about the Mona Lisa and Leonardo Davinci touching it as the original in the Louvre or a lithograph, what you want to do is touch your people and ethically influence them to become more effective and efficient in your business through the engage and enroll philosophy, by leading from behind. Not leading from the front, which is command and control.

The Alexism for this episode is, the most terrifying feeling an entrepreneur can have is thinking about fulfilling their default future. That may not make sense to you as you hear it for the first time. What’s your default future? Default means you haven’t thought about it, it’s just going to happen. I have a good friend, Keith Cunningham who lives in Austin, great thought leader and teaches on the Tony Robbins stages from all over the world.

Nine Reasons Why Leaders Should Weep

He says, and one of his favorite quotes from a mentor of his is, “Hell on Earth is meeting the person you might have been.” In other words, not fulfilling your potential, which brings me to nine reasons why leaders should weep. I got this from Max De Pree.

In fact, at the end of the book, Leadership Is an Art, which is a book I recommend you buy and read many times, Max gives many reasons to weep. I love the word weep versus cry. Weep is a gentler way of expressing and having water coming through your tear ducts from your eyes. Here are nine reasons why I have a good reason to weep in business.

[bctt tweet=”A true leader, painter, or philosopher has an impact on something if they touch it. ” via=”no”]

Number one, superficial communication. I hate superficiality. I don’t want anyone on my team to be superficial. They’re pretending to play the game, and you learn that from a previous episode. Pretending to play is worse than refusing to play.

Number two, lacking dignity. In any business, in any personal relationship, when you lack dignity, it’s painful. Adults are dignified children. They have more patience. When you lack dignity in business, whether it’s with a customer service interaction or if it’s with a refund request or firing an employee or giving someone a raise. There’s a certain level of dignity that brings more grace to that interaction, wouldn’t you agree?

Number three, another reason to weep is an unexpected gift. I love those. When I get unexpected gifts from friends, they may come in the mail or it could be in the form of a phone call. I don’t weep about it typically, but it’s fun because it’s unexpected. It was an intentional act of appreciation and not a random act of kindness.

Number four, client support as an interruption. Why would that make me weep? If you’re in business and you see your clients, customers, patients, students or members as appreciating assets, then if you look at client support as an interruption, you have competing intentions. Client support is part of your business.

That’s a sad thought when client support becomes an interruption. We have clients support at, and we make it public. It’s actually a private Facebook group and that’s our online support desk.

Number five, confusing pleasure with meaning. You don’t have to analyze this too deeply, but in business, pleasure isn’t only about profit. A tip of the hat to my good friend Roland Frasier, he taught me the simplest way to define my mission. I’ve heard mission statements for the past 30 years. I’ve had mission statements shoved down my throat and forced upon me and they haven’t been very effective templates.

It took less than three minutes watching Roland speak from a semi elevated stage at the DigitalMarketer headquarters in Austin, Texas at a War Room Intensive when he taught me the simplest way to express a mission. Here’s my mission. Mission has meaning. Profit is great. It will pay for my kid’s college tuition, it will put a nest egg available for future generations, but that pleasure is not about meaning.

Meaning to me and here’s my mission statement, is to teach emerging entrepreneurs in the third world, digital marketing strategies so that they can own their first home, period, game over, case closed, end of story.

ASA 20 | Business Leaders

Business Leaders: The most terrifying feeling an entrepreneur can have is thinking about fulfilling their default future.


When I get a picture of the first dwelling that a third world entrepreneur, an emerging nation entrepreneur has purchased as a result of what I’ve taught them in digital marketing, that is what meaning is all about. I don’t confuse pleasure with meaning and meaning makes me weep.

Number six, an unexpected act of appreciation. I can’t express the number of times I’ve gotten a call from a friend or a loved one or a colleague and out of the blue giving me an unexpected act of appreciation. Maybe I feel I deserved it, but it came out of nowhere. That is very meaningful. Don’t you think? Wouldn’t that make you weep? Especially if it’s from someone who you know, like, trust and respect. It’s an important thing to do with your team members. Unexpected acts of appreciation.

Number seven, a leader who never says thank you. I don’t have much patience for this because leaders don’t say thank you enough because they’re too busy leading, but thank you is the second most important aspect of gratitude. The first most important aspect is, “You’re welcome.”

When I’m onstage and I’m delivering a curriculum, let’s say like Guerilla Business Intensive, which I do all over the world. I’ll say, “Thank you,” and I’ll teach my audience to say, “You’re welcome,” because that is the circulatory response. It’s the feedback. It’s the way to complete the process of thank you.

People are typically bad receivers. They’re good servers, they serve others, but they’re not very good in receiving. If you don’t receive, you constipate the system and that’s not a good source of leadership and you won’t be a good salesperson or enroller if you’re not a good receiver. When you hear, “Thank you,” the response is, “You’re welcome,” and that’s the red bow on the white box gift.

Number eight, favoring politics over leadership. I don’t have a lot of patience for politics in business or on any team because it has more to do with status or aristocracy than meritocracy. I’m all about meritocracy. I hope to create a team that has as little political drama as possible. Leadership goes back again to the ability to keep agreements, re-negotiate them, unmake them and the ability to make sure that your people feel supported.

Number nine is not being free to do their best. If you don’t allow your people, whether it’s your sales team or your customer service team or your personal assistant, to be free to do their best, then they’re going to feel constrained and you won’t know them much longer.

Three Responsibilities Of Any Leader

There are three responsibilities of any leader and Max De Pree taught me the first responsibility, and that is define reality. That’s not easy to do. Define reality, isn’t that your responsibility at a meeting or when you start your day? What is reality? What is your point A?

[bctt tweet=”Many times, caring can be a competitive advantage.” via=”no”]

Number two and this I learned from Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach. The second responsibility of a leader is to protect confidences. Not only your own confidence but the confidences of other people. If you can protect your team’s confidence, then they will honor you.

I believe by that one element of leadership, I keep people for a long time. Protecting their confidence, even when I don’t want to because they have fallen from grace or they’ve done something that has cost me a lot of money. Define reality, Max Dupree and protect confidence, Dan Sullivan.

The third comes from His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. I’ve shared the stage with him one time. That is number three, communicate compassionately. When you look at the word compassion, I know it’s a woo-woo term if you’re in business. There are three words there.

There’s compass, which means direction. There’s passion, which means having heart and there’s ion, which is the smallest source of an element that humans know.

At the ionic level, if you’re passionate and you have direction, then you are street smart with heart, as my good friend T. Harv Eker says. That’s what I have to share with you as far as what Herman Miller has done as a company being 456 in revenue for the Fortune 500, but they’re number seven in profit. Isn’t that where you want to be? That is a company to aspire to and then keeping agreements and knowing what makes you weep, which are your boundaries.

The quick review about the insights that you and I have discovered in this episode is, leadership is an art. It is high-touch and many times caring can be a competitive advantage. Look up, Leadership Is an Art by Max De Pree and read that book. The second thing is defining reality is the first responsibility of a leader. Protecting your people’s confidence as well as your own is a second responsibility and communicating with compassion is your third responsibility.

There’s plenty of opportunity for you not to communicate that way, but the Dalai Lama is a good example of how to do that with your people, without being too woo-woo. Intentional acts of appreciation I believe beat random acts of kindness all the time. I’ve already given you the nine common reasons why business leaders should weep.

ASA 20 | Business Leaders

Leadership Is an Art

Remember, these insights can only work for you if you work them, and in speaking about reviews, this episode is meaningful to me and hopefully to you too. If you’ve already given me a review, then write down your biggest a-ha moment on an index card. If you haven’t given me a review, go to and type in your biggest takeaway or a-ha moment and write that down.

Put that in the review section. I hope I’ve earned five-stars from you. Declaring that one big takeaway in the iTunes review section will take about three minutes out of your day. If you declare it publicly, it could provide you and cement in a lifetime of learning.

If you’ve already given me a review, thank you so much. It helps a lot, and it helps a lot when you subscribe and you refer this podcast to others, so I appreciate you for that. I have one final gift to honor this twentieth episode and that’s a complimentary digital copy of my book, Alexisms: Useful Lessons from a Recovering Serial Entrepreneur. You can download it instantly at

I hope our paths cross again. This show is dedicated to making ethical influence within your reach so that you can achieve and even exceed your sales potential. Please do whatever it takes to join me next time for our topic because it will be that selling is the oxygen of marketing.

I encourage you to invite a friend. I make that encouragement because bringing a friend, a colleague or a loved one, even a study buddy makes it more fun to learn. A lot of people don’t like the sell, and this makes selling fun because seeding through storytelling is the new selling, at least, that’s my premise. I can’t wait to connect with you next time. All good wishes.

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