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About The Guest
As President of Comcast’s West Division for eleven years, Steve White created a culture defined by Working Together To Win Together. Driven by continuous learning, radical responsibility, and an unwavering commitment to excellence, Comcast’s West Division became a pacesetter by delivering industry-leading results. Steve White was responsible for all Comcast Cable operations in the Western U.S., leading nearly thirty thousand employees, serving almost ten million customers, and driving annual revenue of nearly $18 billion.
Steve launched his Comcast career in 1996 as Regional Vice President, invigorated by a successful tenure at Colgate-Palmolive where he managed the overall toothbrush business to register a 430% net sales increase. A commitment to his why and the influence of mentors enabled him to demonstrate consistent growth for his teams and divisions, which led to increasing leadership responsibilities.
Today, Steve applies that same winning philosophy to his new post as President, Special Counsel to the CEO of Comcast.
- 00:00 — Intro
- 04:07 — Steve White’s origin story
- 08:15 — Why was “Uncompromising” the title of Steve’s book?
- 09:27 — At what point in his life did Steve discover his purpose?
- 17:08 — What is meant by a “Table of Prosperity”?
- 20:12 — The tactics Steve White uses to manage his organization
- 27:09 — Best hiring tactics
- 31:26 — Focusing on the real prize and how it keeps you aligned with your purpose
- 33:32 — “Living life like a learning lab”
- 37:31 — The significance of Steve White embracing a crooked path in life
- 40:35 — How does Comcast look at innovation and evolution as an organization?
- 49:06 — Which path from Steve’s book resonates with him the most?
- 54:23 — Where can people connect with Steve White?
- 55:49 — The biggest challenge Steve ever faced in his life
- 56:15 — The most impactful person in Steve White’s life
- 56:42 — Steve White’s book or podcast recommendation
- 57:28 — What would Steve tell his 20-year-old self?
- 57:59 — What does success mean to Steve White?
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What is the Success Story Podcast?
On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups, and entrepreneurship.
The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.
Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures, and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas, and insights.
He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their stories to help pass those lessons on to others through both experiences and tactical strategies for business professionals, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between.
Host of the Success Story Podcast: https://www.successstorypodcast.com
CEO/Founder of OnMi Patch: https://newsletter.scottdclary.com/
Write a Daily Business Newsletter to 40,000 People: https://newsletter.scottdclary.com/
Contact: Scott D. Clary MBA |416-522-5622 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Machine Generated Transcript
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Steve White, Scott D Clary
Hey, I have a favor to ask. You might not know this, but this show that you’re listening to is part of the blue wire Podcast Network. It’s basically a network of awesome shows just like this one. My name is Andrew and I run network operation for blue wire. We just launched a survey and we need your help, by going to blue wire pods.com/network survey to complete it. It only takes a few minutes, and it will help us understand who is actually listening to the shows across our network, which will help us sell better and more relevant ads on the shows you listen to. This helps support your favorite podcast host, because it puts money back into their pockets are all the amazing content that they create. I’ve been a podcaster for over eight years, and I can tell you that support from listeners is the number one reason why I continue podcasts. So go help your favorite podcasts are out right now by going to blue wire pods.com/network survey to tell us some info about yourself. And if you do so, you’ll be entered to win a $200 amazon gift card. There’s really no downside for doing this. That’s blue wire pods.com/network survey. If you want to be entered for the chance to win the gift card you can opt in when you complete the survey. Thank you very much.
Scott D Clary 01:15
Welcome to success story, the most useful podcast in the world. I’m your host Scott D Clary. The success story podcast is part of the blue wire podcast network as well as the HubSpot Podcast Network which has other great podcasts like socialite hosted by Steph Taylor socialite discusses all things online marketing, Steph Taylor answers all your business marketing questions. She deep dives into the nitty gritty of online marketing, content marketing, social media marketing marketing strategy for business owners. If any of these topics resonate with you, you’re gonna love the show, you’ll learn things like how to scale your brand on various different social media platforms, some of the biggest mistakes you can make with your launch of a new product or service, the importance of nurturing and engaging your audience consistently. The importance of having your audience fully understand the problem you’re trying to solve and why it’s important to solve right now, as well as why growing audiences across all social platforms feels so hard. In 2022. You can go listen to socialite wherever you get your podcast, or at the HubSpot Podcast Network at hubspot.com/podcast Network. Today, my guest is Steve White. He is the president and special counsel to the CEO at Comcast. Now he works on important initiatives at Comcast currently such as diversity, equity and inclusion, leadership, programming and development and the advancement of digital equity in the areas of accessibility and affordability. Previous to his role as president at Comcast, he served as president of Comcast West Division. In this role, he was the senior executive responsible for all Comcast Cable operations in western US states. He had over 30,000 employees under his purview. He has 30 plus years of experience in sales, marketing, operations and general management. His background includes a variety of different industries, not just cable, he’s worked in beverage, health and beauty household products and health care. He also serves on a variety of boards, including the Board of Directors of the Comcast Foundation, compact Hormel Foods, WW Granger, he has also joined Shaw communications board of directors, and he is a member of the Executive Leadership Council and delta bool Denver. So we spoke about his career, obviously a fascinating individual who has been able to operate in one of the largest organizations in the US Comcast does over $260 billion in revenue, they have over 200,000 employees. So he has operated at some of the highest levels that anybody can operate at in the US, they’ve grown to a top 20 company in the US. So we broke down his story, how he went from the projects, single mom to moving through the ranks in a variety of organizations to where he was at with Comcast. And the responsibility, obviously, that he took on. We spoke about some of the lessons, tactics, strategies that he’s been able to deploy at Comcast at that scale, which obviously provides for incredible insight into how an organization of that size operates. So growth lessons, hiring lessons, culture lessons, things that he’s done, to make Comcast stand out because a lot of companies have a lot of money. A lot of companies have a lot of smart people. But ultimately, Comcast has moved from 1200 subscribers about 55 years ago, if I’m not mistaken, to $266 billion in revenue, a top 20 US company in under 55 years, obviously, 55 years seems like a long time. But ultimately, when you look at all the other organizations in the US, Comcast has grown exponentially, and a lot of it has to do with some of the leadership lessons that Steve now currently teaches over that he was deploying Comcast throughout his career. So an incredible person, a ton of insight from his career. And from his work at Comcast. Let’s jump right into it. This is Steve White president, as well as special counsel to the CEO of Comcast.
Steve White 05:22
I was set up to be the perfect victim. This is Steve White. I grew up in the housing projects of Indianapolis, Indiana, single mother, raising four boys, eighth grade education, in which she decided to leave my father, she had a marriage license, but didn’t even have a driver’s license had never held a full time job. So I was the perfect candidate to be a victim. But my mother in the foundation she established, she has something totally different in mind. Her first job was cleaning motel rooms, and that’s motel with an N not hotel with an H, there is no spa, there’s no in room dining. This is where you pull your car up to your door and you walk into your motel room. That was where I learned my purpose. That’s where I identified my why. And I didn’t know it at the time. So while most kids on Saturday, were watching cartoons and eating their favorite cereal, my favorite cartoon was Scooby Doo. But we were cleaning motel rooms, my mother would bring us along to help her clean those motel rooms. And what I learned that foundation that was established was hard work, love for family, teamwork, commitment, and why didn’t understand that I was learning this valuable lesson. I was also learning how to live your purpose in your why? Because clearly, my mom’s skill set was much greater than cleaning motel rooms, not that there’s anything wrong with that. But clearly, she had a skill set that was much greater than that. But she was cleaning those motel rooms because her focus was on creating an environment where her four little boys would have a better chance at life that she did. And so why didn’t know that she was living our purpose. She was doing what was necessary to give us a hand up, not a handout. And that’s where I learned that valuable lesson of living, living your purpose. And as a result when you start with that kind of incredible foundation. As I started going through high school, teachers started taking an interest in me in college was really not even an option. For me. My goal was where I grew up, if you could work for the post office, you had made it, you had a nice uniform, you made a good living you had made it and that was as far as I could dream. But as I met more and more teachers and instructors and principals, they started planting these little seeds of opportunity inside of me that I could do more. And the more they push me the more they turn that little light on inside of me. It really did turn brighter and brighter and brighter. And that’s how I became the first person in my family to attend college Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. I was the first to set that path for my family. And I enjoyed a great corporate career not because I was smartest guy, I certainly focused on the two things that I could control my effort in my attitude. In the more I focused on that the more and more people gave me a hand up not a handout. A hand up is what I described as an opportunity to display your real talents. And so from the housing projects, to the boardroom, I became president of Comcast West responsible for all the cable operations for Comcast, in the western part of the United States, generating revenue of over $18 billion responsible for over 30,000 employees serving 13 million customers. How does that happen? One, it’s an American dream. But it highlights when men and women are given opportunities to display their real talents. Usually, they rise to that occasion. So that’s my story. I’m Steve White, and that’s my story.
Scott D Clary 09:30
I love it. That’s it’s an incredible story. Why was uncompromising the title of the book that you wrote? Why was that? So I always find it very interesting. What people
Steve White 09:41
What a great question. One of my favorite quotes got is a Mark Twain, or at least it was attributed to Mark Twain, the two most important days in your life is certainly the day you’re born. The second is when you know why Scott, I truly believe each and every one of us were placed on this earth for a reason, and I don’t believe it was the wreak havoc, or to be bad, I really believe we were placed here for a purpose. And what I saw in my mother was she found her purpose, she was uncompromising in her pursuit of creating an opportunity for her four little boys. So that’s where the title was birth, while life is about compromise. But once you find out once you identify why you’ve been placed on this earth, that is what you’re ruthless about Scott, that is what you’re uncompromising. In your pursuit of understanding why you were placed on this earth. And that’s how the title uncompromising was birth.
Scott D Clary 10:42
Now, obviously, to be uncompromising about anything, you have to know what to be uncompromising about, which is your why, as you went through your life, you had all these people that have sort of opened your eyes to opportunities. What was the point in your life when you actually discovered your Why was there one point? Was there many points?
Steve White 11:02
There were many points but the one that stands out, Scott and usually you find and identify your why my why is creating a table prosperity for as many men and women as possible. And what happened, Scott, I enjoy a lot of early success coming out of college. And I was leading a sales team in the state of Michigan, I was the youngest sales manager in the company’s history, it was a company called American hospital supply. And Scott within a year I got fired. And usually your why is revealed through adversity and challenge. And why my why had been laid, as a foundation in that motel. I lost sight of that, because I thought my why was work hard, create an environment for your family, so they never have to go back to poverty, and you create opportunity. So my Y was all about me. And so when I was leading the sales team, I was so focused on me and what I was doing, I lost sight that I had 12 men and women that were counting on me, to develop them, to lead them to ensure that they were successful. And that was not happening, Scott. And as a result, they quit on me and justifiably so. And we were dead last in the company relative to performance. In no surprise, I get a call my boss comes to see me and he fires me and said, Your services are no longer needed. You can imagine I was devastated. But here’s what happened that day Scott Darnell Martin, another executive and another part of the company. Call me that day.
Steve White 12:45
How does that happen? Call me that day. And say, Steve, I see something more in you than others. However, if you continue to lead the way you’re leading, you will not realize your full, full potential. So here’s what I’m going to do. I don’t have a job for you. But I’m going to create one for you. I’m going to move you from Michigan to Chicago. I’m going to allow you to be around my team. I believe we can show you the right way to lead men and women. I will show you and demonstrate to you how you develop results that are outstanding. In so Scotty was like a learning lab. So for six or seven months, I worked for Darnell and his team, I observed them I worked on special projects. And I saw the way they poured into their team. Before the concept of servant leadership was popular or cache. That’s how he was leading. And no surprise Scott, they had the best results in the company. So as I laid in this learning, lab learning and growing, I rediscovered my why because I had saw that foundation that was set in that motel room. So I rediscovered my why in Scott I never looked back. And as a result my career took off, the more I poured into others, the more I created that table prosperity for others, the more they bless me by following me in generating record set setting results. And that’s how I rediscovered my why creating a table prosperity for others. The more I gave the more I received
Scott D Clary 14:26
that makes a ton of sense. So a couple things that happened in that point in your career. So not only were you let go, but then you were basically you were you were fortunate enough so a lot of this comes down to the people that you align yourself with because that was a huge opportunity in your life, that person who took you in and gave you access to what leadership should be versus what it shouldn’t be.
Steve White 14:48
You know, such an insightful point, Scott and here’s what I would love for our listeners to hear. We’re always being watched. People are always watching us to see how we handle some situation. So clearly Darnell had been watching me from afar had been following my career and saw enough there to say he is worth investment. So what I tell people all the time, particularly leaders, you’re always being watched. So be conscious of that as you move forward, I’ll share a story with you, Scott. I have more mentors than most people know. But guess what? 98% of the people they don’t even know. They’re mentoring me because of watching, I’m observing. I even watch the bad leaders, because sometimes those are the best lessons learned because you know what not to do. So we’re always leading. It’s not always when we’re in a board room where people are sitting around the table, we’re always leading. And in that case, our nail has saw enough that I was worth investment, or in this case, worth the risk. And certainly I paid him back. And that was one of the reasons Scott I wrote the book, what better way to write a love letter to all the men and women that gave me a hand up, which is an opportunity, then to capture some of those lessons and share with others. So if I impact one person, then it’s made a difference.
Scott D Clary 16:16
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Steve White 17:51
my favorite quotes it’s in a song called glorious Scott we all die twice we die the day that somebody puts us in our grave or Muslim whatever your preference is. And the second day Scott is the last time somebody mentions our name. So as leaders we should always strive long after we’re gone. The seeds that we planted is bearing fruit that lives long after we do and that was that’s how my why became really crystallized for me.
Scott D Clary 18:25
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Steve White 20:05
A table imagine Thanksgiving. Matt, imagine Thanksgiving in America. And you invite your family over everyone brings something somebody brings a turkey, somebody brings the ham, somebody brings the stuffing, somebody brings the sweet potato pie. Think about the feast that you create, the more people bring something to the table. So now just envision that in life and in business, the more I can get people around the table, Scott, we all eat more. We’re not socialists, you’re we’re capitalists. But even I can understand the more people that you place that that seat of prosperity, the more they will reward you and the more they will support you. I’ll share a quick story with you.
Scott D Clary 20:56
i By the way, I love stories, so many stories as you want.
Steve White 20:59
Right? I started my cable career with a company called Tci. They got bought by AT and T and at&t rename their cable company AT and T broadband. Within two years, Comcast, which I’ve been part of this company for 22 years, they bought the company of the top 50 executives at AT and T broadband, Comcast Kip to two of the top 50 executives. I was one of those two. And about six months into the job. I asked my the leaders at Comcast. So I’m curious, why me. And they said, Steve, our plans were to let you go. But what we found throughout our due diligence, the more we went around the employees were very clear that the company was not well run. But every opportunity they sit, but before you leave, let me tell you about Steve White. Before you go, I want to share you a story about Steve White, even though the days were dark. He was a light in darkness for us by developing us and creating an opportunity he committed himself to ensure our W two grew every year. So we could care for our families. And so the more you create that table prosperity, the more that that they sit there, they’ll bring more, and they will support you, particularly in your time in need. Because the Scot none of us can talk our way into a promotion. The majority of the promotions come because your teammates are pushing you up in therefore you get elevated above everyone else because they’re pushing you up. That’s how you get noticed. So this idea of serving others constantly pays itself back, the more you pour into others. So this idea of creating the table prosperity is getting people to that table so they can enjoy winning just as much as you do. They will pay you back many, many times over.
Scott D Clary 23:03
So it’s Steve, as you as you were one of the two that was actually remaining. Obviously, the way that you lead is not the was not the norm with at&t when there was purchased by Comcast. So yes,
well, we got purchased. Yeah, exactly. Companies and again, I’m not trying to be critical, but usually well run companies are not the ones being purchased.
Scott D Clary 23:28
Valid hurts to me. So I’m curious when when you now you know, hindsight is 2020 You look back and you can almost reverse engineer your leadership style. And it’s probably something that was taught to you by Darnell, when he took you away from that group, and he gave you exposure to his version of servant leadership. So what what is the tactical way that you run your organization? Now? What are the things you do different because we can talk about lifting people up? And we can talk about table of prosperity, but how does that actually translate? And how you’re managing the organization?
Steve White 23:59
What everything starts, I believe, because oftentimes Scott, people say, Well, Steve, how do you lead 30,000 people? How do you manage? You can’t. But here’s where you have to start, Scott is you have to focus on your circle of influence. So when I ran the West Division, I view my circle of influence as our top 100. Leaders, let’s call my vice presidents. So starting with my team, we sat down and said, what are the kinds of leaders we want? We don’t want cookie cutters. We don’t we don’t want robots. But what are some of the common characteristics to be part of this what I call the West division 100. We said certainly hard work. Certainly team oriented. Number three sky we wanted somebody with a chip on your shoulder, not a bad chip, but somebody that was trying to prove something not to somebody else, maybe even to themselves, but they had something to prove so we wanted somebody with a little chip on their shoulder, and people say, Well, how do you find that out? You start, tell me what you’ve accomplished in your life. But more importantly, tell me about some of your failures. Because the bigger the failure, and when you come through that, Scott, that tells me something about you, that tells me that you’ve got a chip on your shoulder that you’ve been punched, you’ve been knocked down, but you dusted yourself off. So we look for men and women that brought those characteristics. So that’s number one. Who do you hire? Who do you put on your team? Number two, you establish very clearly the type of culture that you want to, you want to have in your organization. In our case, it was coined under the phrase working together to win together. And all that means Scott is we will not delegate leadership decisions. As an example, we as leaders will decide we’re going to Miami. But Scott, the way we get the voices in the room, we didn’t say how we were going to get to Miami, maybe we drive, maybe we walk, maybe we take a bus, maybe we hit shy. But that’s where you get to participate in the process on how we get there. Because as a leader is very important, you can’t delegate every leadership decisions, some decisions only the leader can make, and that leader has to make those decisions. But you can then create an environment where people get to participate. So that’s the second thing, the first thing is who you hire. Number two is be very intentional around the culture that you want to that you want to establish. Then number three, it’s all about accountability. So for example, with my leadership team, and then they cascade it through their organization, Scott, literally six to eight times a year, I will sit down with my direct reports, and then they will cascade it through their organization. And we will talk about how are we doing? what’s working, what’s not working. So by the end of the year, Scott, the reason performance management works is I can literally write my own review, because my boss has sat down would be six or seven times. So now there’s no misunderstanding around what my responsibility is and how I’m doing with that level of communication. There’s no misunderstanding, there’s no lack of clarity about where we’re going. So number one, who do you hire number two, the kind of culture you want to create number three, is around this accountability. And number four, let’s be clear why people work when they want to do something they love, but they got to care for their families. And I remember one of my frontline employee says, Steve, I’m going to give you two keys to success on keeping your employees excited, you always respect your employees. And number two, you make sure my w two grows every year. So for example, for our sales group, every month, our leadership team, we will see how all of our salespeople are performing relative to their bonus relative to their commission and how they’re performing versus year ago, because let’s be honest, people are there to work because they want to care for their families. So my job is to make sure we’re winning. And that winning translates to their pocketbook, because that’s why they’re there to work to care for their family. So those are the those are four or five things that we try to utilize, that allowed us to create a culture of working together to win together, led by the right people, clear accountability around what’s important and what’s not important, and then ensure people are winning. Now we all define winning differently. But let’s be honest, particularly in a company like Comcast, where 75% of our employees are frontline, the W two matters. Maybe if you’re a senior executive, it doesn’t as much because you don’t live check to check. Most frontline employees in America are living check to check. Our job is to make sure they get beyond that check to check mentality, and they’re now creating a future for their family. And I’ll give you one last point. And this goes back to respecting your employees. I learned this a long time ago. One of the things Scott we used to do at Comcast. And it’s one of my proudest moments, because I really drove this with our board. We used to give new employees benefits a day 91. Now think about that. If you’re trying to attract the best talent, particularly frontline talent, who can go without benefits for 90 days, no one. But by changing that narrative, and say, Look, if you join us, we will make sure you have benefits day one that now opens you up to the absolute best talent out there. So those are the kinds of things when you respect your employees, you know what they stand for, you know what they’re about, you can now make decisions that allow them to create a future for themselves. So those are five or six principles that I’ve used throughout my career, to create an organization of overachievers.
Scott D Clary 29:59
That’s incredible smart principals. One thing, I’m gonna ask one more question on the the vast organization, the 30,000 people and the leaders of leaders that you manage. And then I want to ask some more things that are from your personal life and your personal experience. But when you are managing VPS, say 100, VPS, those are your closest circle, and then they’re managing others. So you have your managing managers and managers of, of individuals, that’s not an easy task, because everything to do with your culture in your organization is done via proxy. So how do you what are the best hiring tactics for someone at your level, so that you can make sure that these 100 people are evangelizing the same vision that you have in your head?
Steve White 30:44
Well, I start within again, this is not a control thing. This is about working together to win together, win together. So let’s say you’re one of the top 100 executives in my group, is I personally interview every one of those. And so then I sit with the hiring manager and say, Tell me, what did you see in this person? What did you like? What didn’t you like? How does that match up to the values that we’ve established in this organization? And then we have a conversation. And so if I’ve done it right, very rarely do I have to overrule one of my hiring leaders to say, wow, this person is not the right person. But on a number of occasions, we both come to the conclusion that maybe this person is not the right one for us. So certainly, I can’t interview every person. But if I get and we get those first 100, right, then they’re going to cascade the same behavior. So we add a role that at least one level down, you had to personally be involved in the decision making. So if you’re a vice president, that means if your director was hiring a manager, you had to interview that manager along with that director, so you two together, could make the right decision. So that’s one of the tactics that we use. The second is think about this guy. We overpay our employees when they refer someone to us, and we hire them. Because who wants to invite somebody in their home that they don’t trust because as long as that person’s there your name is attached. In so we went overboard almost $1,000 to our key leaders if they recommended someone and we hired them, because we said Who better knows our culture and what we’re about, than the men and women that are living in every day. Another thing is Scott, it’s another proxy on how we’re doing, if we’re not doing the right thing, who wants to recommend this company to their friends? So it was another barometer to help us get a good sense, were we on the right track based on the number of number of things that we were able to grant. The third thing is we did institute a level of testing, not so much as a criteria to say you’re not going to get hired. But let’s be honest, Scott, no one comes to us perfect. We we bring all God’s children to our company. But what better way for us to help you be successful when we can agree upfront what you have to work on. And now we can jointly develop a plan. So those are just three or four ways that we went about trying to ensure that we are hiring in developing the right men and women for our team.
Scott D Clary 33:27
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Steve White 34:35
Yeah, what it means is there are a lot of distractions in life. And so this idea of focusing on the real prize, what lines up best with your purpose in your why? In stay focused on that? I’ll share a story with you. My wife Barbie and I we have a son his name is Stevie. He’s nine years old. Scott we share the same birthday December 18. So my little son who’s named Steven Andrew white, the second, we share the same name. But like a lot of couples, we struggled to have children. And we lost a couple children along the way. But my wife and I moved 11 times through my career. In Scott it every place we move where it was a closet door or bedroom, she would put a blue and a pink ribbon on that doorknob because she kept envisioning that was going to be her child’s nursery. And so that’s what I call focusing on the real prize. And so and then, as a result, whatever she had to do, to help her body stay healthy and strong. So once she did get pregnant, she could go through the full term. That’s an example that is a very personal story of staying focused on the real prize, because a big part of her purpose was being a mom. And so that allowed her to stay focused on the real prize and not be distracted by naysayers. Because you can imagine, Scott, there were doctors saying, You know what, we’re not sure this is going to happen. And you can easily fall into that, but don’t lose sight of your hopes and dreams, and put yourself in a position for success to happen. That’s focusing on the real price.
Scott D Clary 36:24
Another point that you brought up that I thought was interesting, living life as a learning lab, what does that mean? Exactly? Because that’s also another I love the way you phrase some of these things, table of prosperity, Learning Lab, these are these are concepts that you’re bringing out that are completely from your life that I think would do serve people very well.
Steve White 36:47
Well, this whole idea of live life as a learning land is birthed from pathway number four in my book, think and act like a business. So Scott, people say, Well, Steve, how’s it? How’s it like to work for Comcast, I say, Stop, I work for Steve White Incorporated. Comcast purchases, my services that I’m excited about that. And they’ve done that for the last 22 years. But let’s be clear, Comcast has me as part of the company because they believe I can help them be successful. There’s nothing wrong with that. So how do I make my company as strong as possible? How do I invest in how do I make sure my company is a stock that is on the rise and not on the on the going down? And the way you do that you invest in your company, athletes do it all the time, LeBron James, the famous basketball player says he invest a million dollars a year in his body, whether it’s health related massages, whatever, he invest a million dollars in his body every year. So by living life, as a learning lab, you’re on a constant journey of growth and learning by investing in your company, which only makes you more attracted to people who want to purchase your services. And so Comcast, we just turned it into a 22 year marriage and relationship, because I was constantly investing in my company. And they kept saying, I think you could help us more. And we kept a green every year, that this is a relationship that’s working. So this idea of constantly investing in your company, constantly learning and growing, is the path to success. I’ll share a story with you as you can tell Scott, I love stories I love while I lost my dad. early in life, my mom got remarried and my stepdad sixth grade education. His name is Evan Smith. He goes by Smitty. He was taken Spanish
lessons at 75. And you’re like, why are you doing this
Steve White 38:53
because he could see that the world was changing that we’re going to this one world environment, and we’re going to be exposed to all of these different languages. And if you want to be relevant, and you only speak one language, your ability to be relevant is decrease. I think we all can agree to that. So this mindset of always finding ways to invest in your company is really, really smart. Bill Gates highlights nicely that whenever he is struggling in an area, he’ll go purchase 12 books, Scott on that subject, and he will read one a month. So by the end of the 12 months, he has read 12 books about one subject in Don’t you think if you read 12 Really good books, used search and got feedback, you’re going to be pretty good at something. And so this is the same concept. Whatever you’re working on as a leader, maybe you want to be a more empathetic maybe you want to work on your public speaking whatever it is, that’s going to make your company stronger. Go find a way through books. as podcasts, whatever, go find a way to invest in your company and live life as a learning lab. And this becomes particularly important, Scott, if you’re leading men and women, because they mirror your behavior. And if you’re constantly displaying to them that your work in progress, then that’s going to challenge them to do the same thing.
Scott D Clary 40:22
When you mentioned that you embrace the crooked path, what does that mean for you? And why are you Why is that so important? Because when I when I listened to your story, you had a difficult you had a difficult upbringing. Obviously, it wasn’t ideal, but it seems like at a certain point in your career, things started to flywheel and to work out. But obviously, I know this, because I know that this is the same for everybody. It wasn’t so linear. There’s obviously a lot of ups and downs outside of the time when you were fired, and whatnot. So What other things did you have to navigate? Why was your life a crooked path? Why is that so important for you to teach over to others?
Steve White 40:58
Well, because this one is never easy, because the number of setbacks that I’ve encountered in my life, I lost out on certain jobs, we talked about being fired. I thought I should have gotten to the higher levels, you know, faster, they didn’t happen. But Scott, if you would have told me that I would be sitting here working in the cable industry, because remember, when I started my career, cable was not even in existence. And when I joined the cable industry some 22 years ago, it was not an industry that was viewed and a very popular way. What is this cable thing? Why do I have to pay for it? Oh, if I do pay for the service is awful. Jim Carrey had a movie out called The Cable Guy, everybody hated the cable guy. So now who would have thought 22 years later, companies like Comcast are in the center, in the center of what’s happening, this idea of connectivity, the fact that we can all watch and see what’s playing out in Ukraine, because I have the ability to connect to Wi Fi and others. And now the whole world opens up to me think about how men and women are being communicated to in Ukraine is through the internet, to realize that our company is right in the center of that and essentially making that happen. That’s an incredible journey. Now, no one could have predicted that. So that was not a straight line, there were a lot of crooked roads along the way to get to that point. And so that’s why life is about not getting so caught up in the moment and being trapped by your circumstances. Success is always crooked road, because guess what, if you’re not winning, Scott, you’re learning. And I’ll say that, again, if you’re not winning, you’re learning as my mother says, If did it kill you? If it didn’t kill you? There’s a lesson there, Scott. There’s a lesson. So if you’re not winning, you’re learning. And so the key thing for leaders is let’s not make the same mistake twice. Let’s learn from it, put it in our memory bank, and utilize it as fuel to take us to the next level.
Scott D Clary 43:27
And one point that you that you touched on with how Comcast has evolved over over the past X amount of years. How does Comcast look at innovation and evolution as an organization, because I think that access to your brain, and the fact that you’ve lived in it for the last 22 years is also incredible, because not many people operate at the level that Comcast operates that?
Steve White 43:51
Well, a big part of it is no one loses sight strategy most times is not worth the paper it’s written on. So that’s very, very important that you stay focused on you know, what, what’s really, really important. So at Comcast, our focus, is there only two things we really can control here, because I don’t know what the next competitor is going to do. I’m sure our competitors are thinking about things right now, Scott to really impact our business in a very, very negative way. But here’s what I do know, if we have the right culture, with the right people who feel empowered to run the business. I call it creating owners versus renters. Where I feel I’m an owner in this company, usually the answer is within us, particularly if we’ve created the environment that we’re listing. Let me let me give you an example. As president when I was president of Comcast was I did that for 11 years. I’m now president of Special Counsel of supporting our CEO It is I would conduct 70 to 80 focus groups a year throughout the organization. Because usually Scott, if you position yourself at a place where you can listen to your employees, usually they have the ideas. And all you have to do is to be smart enough to listen, if you look at the great companies now, Microsoft as an example, their ideas are very rarely coming from the highest levels of the organization, they’re coming from the bottom up. And when organizations create an environment that allows those best ideas rise to the top, that’s how Comcast has evolved. And we run a very decentralized organization. So therefore, we create this owner versus renter mentality. And as a result, we can identify where those opportunities are. And you go from there. I’ll show you. I’ll give you an example. Can you imagine how many companies are in the broadband business trying to connect people to the internet, hundreds. Now you hear about the big names like AT and T Verizon, Charter Communications, I can go on and on. But there are 100 little companies out there. I call them ankle biters. And what that means is they eat away your ankles, and before you know you bled to death. So how do you stay connected to that by having these local teams that are out there making a difference, and they feel like owners, they allow you to compete, and every street corner, every zip code, that’s how you continue to win in grow and be strong?
Scott D Clary 46:45
Yeah, that must, that must be difficult to, to have an organization where I love that term rent that renters versus owners because that’s always the it’s always the issue that businesses have, right, very few people will care about the business as much as the founder and the CEO. So
Steve White 47:01
exactly right. But that’s why Scott is so important. As a leader, you spend more time than you can imagine on hiring the best people. Because our home offices in Philadelphia, I’m based in Denver, so I’m running in the western part of the United States. Even if they tried to run it from Philadelphia, they would not succeed. But this idea that I’m gonna over invest in Steve wine, I’m going to ensure that he’s the right person. That means he’s going to do the same thing with his people. And then if he does a good job, then they’ll do it with their people. And that’s how you create an organization of a plus players. The final piece to that Scott is, everyone makes a decision. When they go to work. Every employee makes the decisions that I know what I’ve got to do to stay employed, I’m going to work eight to five. But when great organizations get employees down giving discretionary effort, I get to decide, Scott, if I give you mind discretionary effort. And now when you’ve got an environment where everybody’s giving you that discretionary effort, that’s where you win. Now people say, Well, what does that mean? Let me give you an example. I have a nine year old. He has a soccer game on Saturday, we leave 15 minutes early. So you know what, let’s leave 15 minutes early, because I want to stop by our XFINITY retail store, which is right around the corner from the park that you have the soccer match. And we’re going to go in and we’re going to drop off cookies, we’re going to check on the employees and make sure they’re good. And I want you to meet them Stevie. So we go ahead 15 minutes early, just to stop in the store, say hello, everything good. Got everything you need. And then we go to the soccer match. That’s Discretionary Effort might seem small. But can you imagine the impact that we had on those employees? Right, come in there on a Saturday with my son, Justin, say, I hope you’re doing well. What do you need to be successful? That starts to get around. That’s discretionary effort. That’s just one example. When you have men and women that are giving you discretionary effort, and the only way you do that, is you create a culture where they’re valued. They feel like owners in the enterprise. That’s how you do it.
Scott D Clary 49:13
That’s, that’s amazing. I’ve never heard of I’ve never heard of this concept of discretionary effort, especially at an enterprise that size. I know that it’s something that seems to be the de facto in a startup environment when everybody’s going above and beyond. But to do that, at the size that Comcast is, is that’s that’s powerful, because then you have I don’t know how many employees Comcast has, but you multiply that 15 minute thing by 1000s 1000 1000s. Right?
Steve White 49:44
You’re we have over 200,000 employees and here’s what’s interesting, Scott, it’s it really is a remarkable story, not without heartache and mistakes. 1963 This company was started in Tupelo, Mississippi, where Elvis Presley is from with 1200 subs. drivers. In a short 5560 years later, Comcast is now one of the top 20 companies in America. Does that happen in that short period of time?
Scott D Clary 50:12
That’s this it’s it’s the it’s the culture. It’s the discretionary effort. It’s the everybody doing 100 and 101%.
It’s it’s it’s, you know, it’s it always comes
Steve White 50:24
down to people and culture. Because think about this got there a lot of companies that have money, there are a lot of companies with smart people. There are a lot of companies with strategic plans. But what allows the company to separate itself, it comes down to people and culture.
Scott D Clary 50:41
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Steve White 52:17
Number one, because nothing happens. Number one is fine, you’re fine. Identifying your wide gives you meaning and direction. And let me tell you why that’s so important. Scott, every decision I make I have a North Star helping me make those decisions, who I married, who my friends are, where do I spend my or how do I spend my work? Like what companies do I allow to purchase my services is my moral compass. So if I’m clear on my wise guide, and I know it’s about serving others, that matters in my, in my relationship with my wife, it matters in the relationship I have with my son, it matters and how I treat my teammates, it matters and how I give back to society to make a difference. So now by understanding what my purpose is, and why I’m here, I’ve got a framework that I can place every decision. And when I’ve made mistakes is because it has not been in service where I got selfish, or I got greedy. Or maybe I took an assignment because I thought it gave me more money, but it was not in line with what I was trying to do. It didn’t work out. So through heartache and challenges. That’s why I think all seven are critical. But everything starts with your fight. What am I trying to accomplish? What am I trying to do? What kind of legacy do I want to have? Because God, here’s how this works. When this is all done, on average, we meet four to five people every day that we’ll probably never see again, maybe in the Starbucks line maybe at the grocery store, how we interact with them matters. Because when it’s all said and done. Our local team here the Denver Broncos they play in a stadium called Mile High Stadium. So when it’s all done Scott there 80,000 people in the stands, they’re either cheering Scott’s God’s God’s got in a very boisterous way because you made a difference. Or Scott they’re saying blankety blank blank sky worse got there’s something worse than that. They’re saying nothing it’s almost like you didn’t exists. There are no Scott fingerprints. There no Scott footprints in so that’s why understanding your why because normally when you identify your why not only do you benefit, a lot of other people benefit if you’ve got your why right in Skype, people say, Well, Steve, how do you find your why? How do you figure that out? And you found yours because you got fired? It allowed you to rediscover. I think it takes a lot of reflection. But I always start with three questions, Scott. Number one, what are you really good at? Be honest with yourself, I think I’m a pretty good singer. My wife has convinced me I’m not. But I think I’m pretty good. What are you good at give get opinions from others. Number two, what are you passionate about? So if you’re good at something, and you’re really passionate about it? The third question, Would you do it for free. Now, most times, if you’re good at something, and you’re passionate about it, you’ll never have to do it for free. But by doing that, that taps into why you’re here, it’s a place to start by answering those three questions and look for the themes to see what starts to connect. I love being around people, I love helping people be the best they can be. That’s why I wrote this book uncompromising, because as authors, unless you’re Stephen King, or John Grisham, or press X President of the United States, no one’s getting rich writing books. This is a love affair. You’re trying to make a difference in the life. So you’re essentially doing it for free. So I’m tapped into my passion. I think I’m good at leading men and women. And I would do it for free. And that’s what the book is. The book is a leadership book, not just for business people is for single mom is for a college student is for manager that might be stuck in their career, they’re trying to figure out where they could go, it could be a military professional, who’s leaving the military after 20 years and trying to figure out how they’re going to navigate this world call the corporate America. The book is there for everybody. It’s a leadership book that allows you to not only identify your y, but then live it. And that is my love letter to all the men and women that I hope will purchase this book uncompromising, which was released in early March and is available wherever you buy books, hardcover, ebook, as well as an audio and I hope your listeners will take advantage and hopefully they’ll be inspired by the book.
Scott D Clary 57:14
I think they will be I’ll that was going to be my next question to to just tell everybody where to get the book, where to connect with you all of that. So book will obviously be on Amazon and anywhere else, you can buy a book.
Most books, most books, that’s where they’re sold these days on and that is true. But if you
Steve White 57:33
just want to learn more, if you just want to learn more, go to my website, Steve White speaks.com. Not only can you find out more information on the book, you can find out how you can follow me on social media, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. But also, we’ve created the website in a way that it’s a learning lab, no pun intended, a learning lab, where you can go and read and see different podcasts and things of that nature. So you can start developing and growing your company. I hope each of your listeners will go check it out.
Scott D Clary 58:05
Do you have any? I guess all the social is on the website as well.
Steve White 58:09
All the social stuff is all everything is there that you need to know Steve White speaks.com. And you can learn more about the book and I’ve even got an S group of the book there on my website. So if you’re not sure, you can go check out the first chapter and my hope is it’ll inspire you to go purchase the book.
Scott D Clary 58:27
Perfect. Okay, let’s do a couple rapid fire to close this out, pull some last insights into you and your career. And you probably have already touched on some of these points, but I go through the many ways it makes make for good social cliffs so great. All right, biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your personal life. What was it? How did you overcome it? What did you learn from it?
Steve White 58:46
Trying to have a child I that was probably our biggest challenge as a couple. We wanted to be parents and that was very difficult. And we worked at it. You know, not to gross people out. We worked at it. We prayed about it. We had a lot of faith and we put ourselves in a position. And now we have a healthy nine year old boy.
Scott D Clary 59:03
Beautiful. Congratulations, by the way. Thank you. Congratulations. If you had to pick one person, obviously, there’s been many but one person who’s had an incredible impact on your life. Who was it? And what did they teach you?
Steve White 59:15
Well, to I’m going to pick my mom and my wife. I’ve been blessed with two special women. One is I My mother taught me about hard work and that uncompromising attitude, and then to see my wife live her life in an uncompromising way. Have you been to real inspirational people, my life
Scott D Clary 59:34
books or podcasts or audible? Obviously not not yours is something else that that’s impacted your life that you’ve learned from what would you recommend people to check out?
Steve White 59:42
Well, there’s so many, but Jack Welch had a book call. I think it’s called Winning from the gut or something like that waiting. It was somebody that would double check, but I read it I don’t know. It’s 1520 years ago, but it was a great book. I admire Jack Welsh, the way he led men and women and he was obviously very successful. So that One business book that really inspired me in a unique way. And the last one, it talks about the truth about leadership, it talks about the 10 enduring truths of leadership. It was a book where they went back and evaluated all the greatest leaders of the of our time, and they came up with 10 core principles on what those leaders brought to the table.
Scott D Clary 1:00:20
If you could tell your 20 year old self one thing, what would it be?
Steve White 1:00:23
Pick your friends carefully, who you put in your circle, pick them very carefully. And the second one, Scott, because I’m an overachiever, I’m gonna give you two is not that serious. Relax is just not that serious. Because when you’re younger, everything seems so big that you got to get perfectly right. And the message here it’s not that serious. So relax.
Scott D Clary 1:00:50
And then last question, what does success mean to you?
Steve White 1:00:55
Very various family laughter. Fruit on a lot of other trees that I helped plant the seed. And then 200 years after I’m gone, people are still mentioning my name because I made a difference.
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