Lessons from a Fortune 500 Company

It’s Not Always What You See! Sometimes it’s the HOW and What You Don’t See!!

Guest Post by Richard Harmer Brady Media Group

So anyway, I was in the shower and thought about something. You see earlier in the day, actually really earlier in the day, like 6am, I was talking to CEO Mark Blinn. He is the CEO of Flowserve, a fortune 500 company based in Irving, Texas. I had NO IDEA who he was or Flowserve for that matter.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one. He said they were the least known fortune 500 company. He told me a few things that made me think about something. I asked him how important it was for a company to hire a CEO that fits the corporate personality already established. He said “very” important. Now, we just did an interview with him and he is a super nice guy, really he is, so I was just chatting with him after the fact. He says his wife and kids keep him grounded so he won’t get “CEO-itis”. So that’s good, wish more were like that! Now, I am in a place where I get to talk to a lot of “ C” level peeps with huge corporations. Though I honestly could care two shits about that, many times it’s the insight from them I look for. The thought process and their business philosophies fascinate me.

So, I just ask questions. Many times I can pinpoint what they are missing right away. It’s not what you see it’s what you don’t see that is actually the difference maker. I can, uh…see that. That’s why I do what I do I guess. But really, it’s just looking beyond all the bull and fluff. Those that know me, know I’m not at all afraid to tell them what I think…but we’ll get to that in just a second.
Anyway… Mark was saying that hiring a CEO that fits the corporate personality is very important, then he said inevitably companies will start talking on the personality of the CEO even if the CEO does NOT fit the environment. So is it the chicken or the egg?! This is actually a harder question to answer than I originally thought. I was caught off guard in the shower thinking about this. If a company needs, what I like to call a “change agent” maybe it’s best they hire someone to, well…make change happen! That may actually include hiring someone that would fit, not the current corporate environment, but the environment that the company “would like” to have for the future. But, how can you see what’s not there? You can’t “see” the future! So, where am I going with all this you ask…?

Glad you asked. Aside from trying naturally to fit into the company or corporate personality, what’s just as important is the CEO identifying what’s missing with relatively little information or none at all. I mentioned it’s not what you see, but what you don’t see that could make the difference. Look, it’s very hard to see the outside of a box when you’re on the inside. Flowserve…pronounced, huh… F-L-O-W-S-E-R-V-E does something with pumps, valves and stuff. Hell, look em’ up if you want to know more. But never the less it’s not the most, you know, glamorous thing.

Well, Mark was at the Success North Dallas breakfast to speak on what I thought was community. I was wrong. He spoke about Flowserve, pumps and shit! There were probably 250 or more people there. None of which were interested in pumps, I promise!! Now I hate : ) to do this, but I did talk to Mark and Stephen, the commutations guy after the fact, so I’m going too. Flowserve is actually an amazing company, not for what they do, but how involved they are in the communities in which they do business. It’s crazy! He mentioned this oh…about 5 minutes. I kid you not, for 45 minutes he talked about Flowserve and pumps. Flowserve was named in the top 100 most trust worthy companies from Forbes Magazine.

See here. We did NOT know this until the question and answer session at the end!! Somebody literally asked him about it!! He NEVER mentioned it!! This should have been his ENTIRE speech!! This wasn’t an investment “talk” to shareholders, This was a talk to Success North Dallas, a large networking group of successful people looking to learn more about HOW to grow their businesses the right way. Now I like Mark a lot, great guy, he admits to being a bit of introvert so he’s not by any means an animated “character” on stage. And to his credit I believe they said this was his first time speaking to this type of crowd. So let’s go back to what’s missing.

He CLEARLY should have been talking about TRUST!! What it actually takes to be a trustworthy company and WHY it matters. A 5 minute overview of Flowserve, THAT’S IT!! Then TRUST! Other small and medium size companies can learn from him and them. If a company their size can do it, anyone can do it. They clearly are caught up with WHAT they do and not the other amazing parts of HOW they do business. That’s what is missing! I did tell them that after the fact. He does “fit” the corporate personality of Flowserve and I believe they are well positioned for the future with Mark at the top. He is a GREAT leader and I will no doubt buy stock in Flowserve, but if he wants to gain notoriety in the B2C world to let people know they exist, he will have to shift his talking points to what people want to hear.

The HOW!! Every business owner or CEO needs to be able to realize most people don’t really care about your stuff. Pumps? Really?! 45 minutes?! The story that resonates can be hidden in the HOW.

So, how can we all learn from Flowserve?

1) Be yourself, no matter the size of the company or personality. If you’re needing change, look from top to bottom at your company. What type of company do you HOPE to be all the way through? If Mark’s philosophy is correct, putting someone in charge that you feel the corporate personality should emulate is the first step you should take to begin the change. Why? That’s what’s missing!

2) Make sure you look to see what’s not there in your messaging. Identify a story that can teach people to become better at what they do and better citizens. There are many benefits to the products that Flowserve has, but if there are 2 or 3 companies that do the same thing you’re just talking about what they are talking about…No real uniqueness. Mark must realize the true gift of Flowserve is held deeper in the company’s DNA. The fact they care means a lot to me and I know to many others. If he starts talking about trust, maybe then they can get noticed in the community and others will emulate them!

Richard Harmer, Brand Strategist — Brady Media Group