Leadership + People: Episode 57 - Rob Brough - Part 2 of 2
In this episode Rob Brough, Executive Vice President at Zions Bank explains how a vision of where you want to be is of little value if you aren’t focused on becoming the best at whatever job is currently before you.
Marketing to establish an environment where the organization as a whole is in the possible consideration of the public [01:53]
Removing detailed blueprints of how things will be accomplished to allow increased buy in at all levels, and team unity [06:34]
How keeping every option open, allowed Brough to discover a career in a field he hardly considered [10:48]
Don’t just talk about where you want to be, instead do you current job better than anyone has ever done it before. Prove yourself for where you want to go [14:20]
Executive means more eyes are watching, not for error but positivity, energy and innovation [16:44]
Power in a consistently positive attitude [20:50]
This episode of Leadership and People was originally released on: November 6th, 2018
Before we get going with the interview, we want to offer you a free e-book from Corporate Alliance, about becoming more referable. Basically it’s along the lines, everybody knows word of mouth is the best form of advertising. But that there’s a secret to get people to refer more business to you. And that most of us are making it unintentionally too hard for contacts to help us. So, what this resource goes through is this idea of how to become 10x more referable. You can get if for free on the website. If you go to corporatealliance.net/ebooks you can download it for free. Again corporatealliance.net/ebooks
Welcome to Leadership and People. This is a series that pulls back the curtain on leadership by interviewing CEOs, Senior Executives and Entrepreneurs who had large exits. We ask these experts about how they built trusted networks to rapidly grow their companies. And what advice they wish they knew if they could do it all again.
JL: This is part 2 of our interview with Rob Brough.
Rob Brough: “But if you come in Jess, and you interact with someone at one of our branches or you interact with us online and your experience is counter to that. If your experiences is that; wait a minute. You say you have forgotten who keeps you in business but you’ve certainly forgotten me, because that’s not the experience I’m having. Now we’ve created a negative brand experience.”
01:27 JL: So Rob, thinking about this positioning of Zions and being where everyone is, you know you get these comments of ‘I see Zions bank everywhere’. And you guys get those… that kind of benefit of top of mind you know, owning the customer mind type of dominance as far as any of the local financial institutions. When it comes to developing your people internally…
ROB BROUGH: Yes.
01:53 JL: What’s your philosophy? Because it’s obviously a whole department that works with you to get this done. What’s kind of your approach to having, you know, everybody around here be able to really understand what’s the go, no-go decision of where Zions should be seen?
Creating an Environment for Success
ROB BROUGH: Sure. It’s an interesting question because if you were to ask them they might give you a different… I hope not. But you know we talk a lot within our group about the fact that our job, at the end of the day, our job as a marketing group and a communications team within Zions Bank is to create an environment in which the bank can be successful. So that becomes really our guiding principle. So any time we’re making a decision about an advertising strategy or a communications strategy or a sponsorship or partnership or community outreach program. The first question we’re asking ourselves, whether we verbalize it in every meeting or not, but is in the back of our minds is, ‘is what we’re about to do going to do create an environment of greater success for the bank?’ And that can be defined a lot of different ways. You know sometimes you define that as; ok we can measure it directly and say we brought in X number of new checking accounts or X dollars in new loans. Or X number of new credit cards. Whatever that direct product measurement could be. But most of the time it can be measured, and I would argue, should be measured a little differently. Because a number of the things that we do, maybe aren’t as directly attributable to that. And I’ll explain what I mean by that. Because at its heart financial services is… The product itself is not all that differentiated between us and our competitors. You know, checking account or credit card or loan product. The product themselves are really not that different. So what’s the difference? What makes the difference? Well we believe that one of the things that makes that difference is that when someone is making a financial decision in their life, who are they thinking about? Who comes to mind when they’re making that decision? Who is in that consideration set? So I may not know, for example, Jess, even with all that we can do with technology and data today. We have a lot of data that might tell me that your next most likely product in financial services is a home equity line of credit. For example. So I might know that about you. But what I don’t know is when exactly you’re ready and have that need for that product. And so what our job is, from a marketing standpoint here at Zions Bank is to put Zions Bank in your consideration set. So we’re trying to create that environment in which the bank can be successful by putting in your mind Zions Bank. However we do that. And that’s done in a variety of ways. You know the other thing when we talk about creating this environment for success, or creating an environment where the bank can be successful. What we want to do is create an environment where any of our officers, whether they’re a commercial loan officer, they’re a private banking officer, they’re a branch manager, whatever their role is, that they can in essence knock on any door in our community and that that individual, that organization will have a conversation with them, because of what that individual or organization feels about Zions Bank. And there’s a real reality. Back to what I was saying back in part one of our conversation. Banking is a very personal business. Banking is a very local business. And so when someone from Zions Bank approaches someone and says ‘I’d like to talk with you about doing business together’, we want people to say yes we are open to that conversation because of what they know and what they feel about Zions Bank. I hope that makes some sense.
06:08 JL: Yeah. And it’s obviously you know, has to be matched with the marketing; maybe gets them in the door and the experience once they get there has to be matched.
ROB BROUGH: Totally. Totally.
06:20 JL: And you talk about your experience with Scott as when you think about those Richard Branson sayings about ‘Take care of your staff so well they’ll take care of your customers’ right?
ROB BROUGH: Right.
06:34 JL: It sounds like there’s that example from the top, you know, for you…
ROB BROUGH: Yes.
Providing the Vision from the Top Down
06:40 JL: When you think about that, and you think about how your leaders are going to interact with, whether it’s the folks who are interacting with the customer or how your leaders are going to interact with the folks out here who are designing the marketing to get them in there. What does that look like? How do you help that level of care of what, you know, what you’re experiencing from Scott, how do you help that get the next layer down. Your managers and their direct reports?
ROB BROUGH: Well I would say I just try to do what Scott does. You know in terms of… I am trying to communicate with them consistently in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish. I’m then in communicating what we’re trying to accomplish I’m allowing them latitude to create within that, within what we’re trying to accomplish. You know I’m not one, and Scott isn’t one who often says ‘Ok, this is what we need to accomplish and this is exactly how we’re going to get from point A to point B’. It’s more setting that vision and saying ‘here’s where we want to go. And let’s work together to find out, to determine how we best get from here to there.’ So I think that’s really really critical.
Latitude Creating More Buy in from the Bottom Line
07:58 JL: So following this train of thought. In your mind what is the benefit to the customer experience that the person interacting with them gets that kind of latitude?
ROB BROUGH: I think the benefit is that when you give the person who’s, who I’m interacting with on my team, if I’m giving them latitude, And again it goes all the way down to the front line. When they have that latitude the way they treat their customer I think changes dramatically. Because if you feel like you’re being dictated to, like this is the process, this is how we’re going to do it. Even if somewhere along the lines someone really felt like we’ve done all this research and this is exactly how it needs to be done. For that person who is standing in front of the customer day in and day out, if they’re not bought into that, so it isn’t their idea, and they may be saying in their mind; well that may be good in generality, but I’m dealing with this situation now, with this individual that’s totally outside of that and they don’t feel like they have the latitude to make a decision on their own and to meet the needs of the customer, the customer’s needs aren’t going to be met. And we’ve been talking about the Zions Bank brand and the things that we do within the marketing group to help build that brand and create that environment in which the bank can be successful. That’s only… What we do in our group is only frankly a small part of Zions Bank brand is. The Zions Bank brand is the experience that people have with us. Because the reality is on the marketing side, we can deliver that promise all day long. We can say that we haven’t forgotten who keeps us in business. But if you come in Jess, and you interact with someone at one of our branches or you interact with us online and your experience is counter to that. If your experiences is that; well wait a minute. You say you haven’t forgotten who keeps you in business but you’ve certainly forgotten me, because that’s not the experience I’m having. Now we’ve created a negative brand experience. And we should shut off all of our advertising. We should quit making that promise because again not only have we wasted the money, we’ve done something that’s detrimental to the brand because we said your experience was going to be this way but your actual experience with us was different. So back to your initial question about how empowering people and giving them that latitude impacts the customer experience. Again I firmly believe that when you give people that freedom to make decisions, now they own those decisions. They own that process. It’s theirs. And the way they’re going to deliver that to the end user is significantly enhanced.
10:45 JL: Yeah. I want to take us just a little different direction.
ROB BROUGH: Sure.
Keep Every Option Open
10:48 JL: So you think about, you think about the position you’ve got. I mean we’re in this awesome corner office, great view, right? And to have, to reach this level, sixteen billion dollar entity. there’s so many folks who you know they’re thinking about marketing at university, they’re wishing someday they could be in a position like this. And yet there’s so few that really get to this level. What do you think you did different? Or what do you think were some of the things that helped you reach a level that not many do not?
ROB BROUGH: Well I don’t know that I put myself in any great position of you know, authority or responsibility. I just feel grateful to have been able to work for a great organization for twenty-one years. But I would say that one of the things that I have done is that I’ve… I have… I’ll say two things. One is that I’ve kept all of my options open. And let me tell you what I mean by that. If you would have asked me coming out of school, you know, what industry I would end up spending my career working in. If I had made a list of my top ten, banking would have been number twelve or thirteen. It just would not have been on the list. You know, I… In my undergraduate studies I intentionally avoided things like finance and accounting and… Because it just wasn’t an interest of mine. But, what I did do when I came out. Again, keeping all the options opened, after I worked for a couple of years for the communications firm. And I was looking for the next opportunity. I had a good friend who was working here. She was the communications officer. She was leaving. She said ‘It’s a great company. You ought to consider coming to work for Zions Bank.’ And again I thought to myself; why would I want to go work for a bank? It just isn’t on the list. It would have been very easy for me to just dismiss it and say, ‘You know what? That just isn’t what I’m looking for. I’ll look for another opportunity.’ But because she said; it’s a great company to work for, you ought to consider it. I thought; ok I’ll give it a try. And then I went through the interview process. And as part of that interview process I recognized some opportunities that may be existed here at Zions, and the growth that Zions was… looked like Zions was about to begin embarking in. It just presented itself as a great opportunity for me. And so I would say it would have been easy for me to close the door on this opportunity. And along the way then I’ve… People talk about being in the right place at the right time. I think that’s really only a very small part of that equation. And yes it makes a difference. And I feel like I’ve been at the right place at the right time in a number of occasions. But you also have to be the right person, at the right place, at the right time. And so that leads me I think to maybe the second thing that I’ve tried to do. And I have this conversation with my employees often. Is that, you know, I wasn’t always necessarily looking for what my next opportunity was. My focus… Whatever job I was in, here at the bank, was how can I do that job better than anyone’s ever done it before? And how can I make sure that I’m accomplishing everything that needs to be done within that role so that when the opportunities for growth and advancement present themselves, whoever was the one hiring for that would say, ‘He is the right person. This is the time, but he is the right person at this right time.’
14:20 JL: So what does that look like? Being the obvious choice? Taking, ok this is my job. I’m going to, you know, I’m not going to sit around wishing I had something else. I’m just going to knock this out of the park. What does that look like for you?
Every Vision Plan Needs Absolute Present Focus
ROB BROUGH: Yeah. Well it looks like two things. One it looks like you’re not sitting in my office every day saying to me, ‘Hey. You know what. This is what I want to do next. This is what I want to do next.’ And that… And I say that and I’m careful because what I’m not saying is. I’m not saying don’t have a vision for where you want to be. But don’t be, don’t be sitting in my office everyday saying, ‘Okay, well I know that this is what I’m doing today but what I really want to be doing is that. So what do I have to do…’ Okay. Let’s have that conversation once. And so I understand where you want to go. And let me help you develop a plan for getting there. But what I need you do today. I’ve hired you to do this today. And if you can knock that out of the park, if can just nail it, and we can have conversations along the way about what future opportunities are there for you, when those opportunities come… And I’m fortunate to work within an organization where we don’t have a lot of turnover. And so there’s… But we create opportunities for people by helping them grow within their current roles. And then as they continue to do that well, that prepares them for when that opportunity does present itself, its an obvious choice for me to say, ‘You know what? Jess is killing it here. We’ve had discussions. He’s ready for this.’ Or I just think that’s what it looks like. And I think too often if I see mistakes being made…. It’s that individuals… Well…
15:59 JL: They’re not present. They’re not doing their current thing.
ROB BROUGH: Yes. They’re not present. They’re so focused on what the future might hold for them, or what future opportunities should be there for them. Or what they… That they lose sight of; you know I have a job that I’ve been hired to do and if I do that better than anybody’s ever done it. Or if I do better than anybody’s currently doing it, that opportunity will be there for me. And I’ve experienced that in my career, where with and again with my interactions and in my relationship with scott. It’s been about what can I do to do my job exceptionally well and not worry about where the next opportunity is going to come. Because its always come as I’ve tried to do the best in what I’m doing currently.
All Eyes on the “E”
16:44 JL: Yeah. How do you think things change when you’re at the highest levels. You know like, there’s a lot of folks who would talk about something like this but there’s obviously fewer who do it. But those few who do it are the ones who make it up to the higher levels in organizations and in entrepreneurship and business in general. In your mind when you get down to, like, the very small small percentage of the workforce that are in those top leadership positions, how does life change in your opinion? What’s different about…
ROB BROUGH: You know I think there a few things that change. One is obviously your view of the organization changes. Because sitting as a member of the executive committee, now my view is much broader than just marketing. The view. The view is broader. And I think with that then though comes a responsibility that I feel like I now have to share that broader view with my team, or at least give them a sense for how what they do fits into that broader view…. So that their view of the world isn’t just this tunnel vision of what’s right in front of them. Its; okay how does what I’m doing today impact the broader vision? So that’s one thing. I would say that I think that there are… The other thing that’s changed is that there are more eyes on you. And what I do everyday, I feel like there are more people watching what I do. And not in negative way.It’s not like people are watching to try to catch me in doing something wrong. But there are more eyes watching me to say; okay, where are we headed as an organization? And I’m not at the top of the organization. That’s Scott. But being right there with him, I think there are more eyes on me and my colleagues on the executive team. Just watching to see what we’re doing. Because they’ll take their lead from what we’re doing. In terms of, if we’re positive about the future, if we are energetic and enthused about where we going, and if we are innovating and if we are being creative in what we’re doing, you know, I think they will follow. They’ll do the same thing. So I think there’s more, I don’t know if I’d use the word pressure. But there’s certainly more eyes on us. And I feel that. And I also feel like, you know, what I do now as opposed to, you know, several years ago, you know, most of my time and most of my day is spent in strategic discussions about where we’re headed, what we need to do, and then dealing with people related issues. So it’s… I don’t have as much time as I used to. And I miss it sometimes on the actual hands-on execution of the marketing efforts that are happening at the bank. It really is more about having conversations and discussions about the strategic direction about where we’re headed. And then it’s dealing with the employee related issues of leading and managing a team of people. And I’ve recognized that having an “e” in front of my title. You know Executive Vice President allows me to maybe knock some barriers down that others on my team maybe running into. So I think that’s part of what’s changed too. Is I sometimes see that my role is to help clear a path for my own employees to be successful in what they’re trying to accomplish. In what we’re trying to accomplish together.
20:35 JL: I love it. Well we’ve kind of got time for maybe one more question here. I want to go back to this theme. This idea of, throughout your career this; whatever my role is I’m going to reach a level of excellence at this.
ROB BROUGH: Yeah.
20:48 JL: You know we all have undulations in life. You know the rollercoaster.
ROB BROUGH: Sure. Sure.
Getting Back on the Horse
20:50 JL: And sometimes we’re more bold and more intense. And other times it’s not there as much. Anything for yourself or any advice for other folks who, they recognize, yeah that is my personality. I am a go getter. But they recognize maybe they’re at a lower point of the rollercoaster. And they want to get back on the horse and they want to go back at that full speed they used to be at. Or whatever. Any advice for getting back on the horse and riding hard?
ROB BROUGH: Well. We talked about this a little bit earlier. And maybe I’ll see if I can relate it back to getting back on the horse and going hard. But to me it is that consistency. You know, and yes we all, we’re going to have challenges. We’re going to have struggles where we fall off the horse. Yes we’re going to have times when in our personal life things are a struggle and a challenge. And if you think you don’t bring that to work you’re dead wrong because the reality is the lines today are more significantly blurred between our personal lives and work lives than ever before. They really are one in the same. They just are. I’m convinced of that. We bring it all with us. But I think there’s something to be said for the consistency of our attitude. And for me, if you ask me on a day when things are just not going great, and someone asks me a question, ‘how are you doing?’ I’m still going to say, ‘You know what? I’m doing awesome.’ And part of that is for me, is to say, you know what in the grand scheme of things things really are awesome. And as we project, I believe, as we project that positive attitude and we just are consistent in exhibiting that attitude, and I’m not saying, you know, that you’re not being truthful or that you’re not being… because yeah there are times when someone says, ‘how you doing?’ And if it’s a close friend you say, ‘gosh I’m really struggling here.’ And we can have that conversation. But my team doesn’t need to hear everyday ahh things are really tough. Gosh, things are hard. And we all know people like that. It doesn’t matter what the situation. You ask them how they’re doing and it’s, ‘Ah. Things are so tough.’ I think there’s something to be said for that consistent positive attitude that you know what, I can do this. You know what, I am happy. This is what I want to be doing, or I know where I want to be going. And I know where I want to be and I may not be there today. But that attitude of, I’m going to make this happen. If you have that attitude it will happen.
23:33 JL: I love it. Well I think that’s a great place to end.
ROB BROUGH: Okay.
23:35 JL: Hey, thanks so much for spending time with us.
ROB BROUGH: My pleasure Jess.
Hi. My name is Logan Wilkes and I’m the CEO of Corporate Alliance. A few years ago I moved to San Diego to build a new market for us there. The biggest deterrent I had to success was I didn’t know a soul. I often thought to myself, if I just had a thriving network or influence this would go 100x faster. To be honest with you I had never felt so alone in my line. Because a) I didn’t have an influence and b) I didn’t know anyone who was going through the same thing I was. If you have ever felt like this and you were looking to grow your influence join us at one of our upcoming events. You can check us out at corporatealliance.net And you can request an invite to one of our upcoming experiences.