( I’m always reluctant writing one of these posts for some reasons. I’m much more comfortable writing a rant, excoriating a brand for failing to live up to its promise. But that’s part of this process, this daily act of gratitude I started in 2009. I want to be better at writing a post of praise, without doubt or hesitancy, for friends or family, colleagues or co-workers...better at it than I am now at a ripping good riff.)
It was in Mike Sansone’s office, I believe. That’s the Panera’s in Clive.
Then I believe we drove around Clive and West Des Moines to meet some more of Mike Sansone’s friends. We stopped by Mike Wagner’s offices towards the end of the day.
I met him and it was like yeah, ok, you’re doing something here. I think it as 900 degrees outside and heat and me don't mix well, especially in a suit and tie and walking across concrete parking lots. He was probably the same...Yeah, ok, you blog or something and you’re from Fairfield. Nice to meet you. (Come on man, tell the truth, now. Heh. It's probably me. )
And then somehow over the years, oh wait ...through our blogs, we got to know each other. I saw a kindred spirit. Kinder, gentler, perhaps, but still with a hardy fire in the belly that comes from someone too short to play center but whose coach would send him in anyway and he’d verbally abuse the bigger, taller opponent into fouling out.
That might be Mike’s first brand promise he honored.
I liked that. I could see it, too. I could see that if I was the center, I’d either start laughing as it would be what I would do (and Mike's pretty funny)...or I’d start swinging at him...because it would be what I would do.
What I like, and admire about Mike, is his integrity. It’s different than most. There’s a fundamental depth, an incorrigible, inviolate, unshakeable nature to his integrity. He lives his integrity. Some people have integrity at everyone else’s expense. Mike’s integrity is strong enough to be comfortable listening to others, allowing him to walk more than a few miles in their souls, and do this without losing his. And then with that compassion that comes from I know some tough challenges he faced...he helps them through to a solution that honors their integrity, their higher selves, their better selves...that honors their brand promise.
That’s Mike’s business with his White Rabbit Group: making sure people honor their brand promise. Doing that in business starts with doing that when no one’s looking. Somehow, Mike’s able to deliver that message in a way that’s helpful supportive, demanding, encouraging. Clients love him.
What’s really fascinating for me is how Mike can bring a small business passion for connecting with employees and customers and bring it into big corporations and not just sell it like a rah-rah moment, where’s my speaker fee....but get everybody there nodding their head north and south, leaning forward and wanting to make that change.
He’s a great speaker, too. I’ve heard him speak a couple of times. Maybe even the same presentation. And each time I start thinking ok, yeah, got it...then I always end up walking away just as inspired with a dozen ideas rumbling around in my head.
I convinced Mike, back in the day, to do a 6-part, 10-part, podcast series with speakers at one event. He was great. And what was cool about that was these speakers and this event didn’t really compromise his audience. But, he wanted to try this podcast thing and co-host it with me. He was great.
Mike’s also funny. He’s got a crazy sense of humor. See above point about being an undersized center in high school basketball and still able to rule the paint. Humor is a sign of intelligence of being able to hold opposing thoughts/realities in the mind at the same time, and the humor comes from the contrast or conflict of those two realities. But unlike some funny people, he’s steady with that humor. It’s not scathing or biting, but I don’t think I’d want to be the target.
Mike blogs at Own Your Brand. Not often enough, really. But then he’s too busy walking that walk to merely blog that walk.
Anyway, he’s one of the good people.
Add him to your list. You’ll be thankful, also.