Leaders strive to create a culture where people are passionate, motivated and engaged. Putting a positive framework in place allows for an organization, and the people within to be at their very best. Executive Leader & Speaker, Lonnie Mayne, discusses his ‘Red Shoe Philosophy,’ and how it’s used to strategize growth and help you and your company stand out in a competitive marketplace.
1:57 – Challenging yourself
4:07 – The red shoe philosophy
5:54 – The framework to retain people
10:28 – The 5 pillars that connect us all
17:08 – How to create a FUN environment
18:24 – The importance of being grateful
19:42 – 50-year legacy
23:00 – Amplifying the positive
Red Shoes Living – Lonnie Mayne
Full Transcription Below (timecode may be inaccurate for 2-3 days after original posting):
So Lonnie, I’m super happy that you’re here to talk about your expertise in leadership and culture and skill building and people and humanity in your story. So, and we’re in an awesome location here, beautiful Philadelphia by the stadiums, uh, before tomorrow’s big Spartan Spark Next Leadership event, which I know we’re gonna talk a little about. So thanks for being on the show.
Lonnie Mayne: (05:30)
Thank you. Thank you. It’s an honor to be here with you. Yeah. We’ve already had some fun times. Yeah, I’m really looking forward to this.
Yeah. Awesome. So just why don’t you start off the easy stuff, like tell us a bit about what brought you here to Philly specifically.
Lonnie Mayne: (05:41)
Yeah. You know, so I’m here, Spartan does a spark next leadership forum. Yeah. The day before the race and the stadium and I, I got involved with Spartan a couple of years ago. I did my first Spartan in Utah.
Yeah. Just to remind everyone, Spartan is the race obstacle course rise that incorporates lots of challenges as well as endurance.
Lonnie Mayne: (05:58)
Exactly. Yeah. It’s huge. And it’s, um, it’s an exciting event. It’s one that’s difficult to train for, but you need to train for it. Yeah, yeah. I think they do over 275 events plus a year all over the world now. And so I heard about it and I thought, I want to find out what this is about.
Did you get tricked by Joe into doing one?
Lonnie Mayne: (06:14)
You know, I not the first time, but there’s been a trick from Joe and Colleen who I work with ever since. So, um, but yeah, I showed up at this event and we had some friends there. We had two objectives, you know, we really hadn’t trained for it. But we said, look, let’s have a good time and let’s finish. And I got out on that course and what I discovered was the human spirit was still alive and well. There was so much diversity, so many different shapes and sizes and ages out on this race course. And this was up in the mountains and it was about an eight mile, seven and a half mile course with 30 plus obstacles. Beautiful. Um, but you know, so as we get on the course, people help you through the course and you realize there are things you can do that you didn’t think you could do and there are things that you can’t and people help you and then you end up helping people. And so I was so blown away by that experience. To me it was red shoes. And I know we’ll talk about that here in a minute. And so I wrote a little blog post about it and, uh, I sent it to Joe the CEO and said, listen, I’ve done a lot of these types of events and this is by far the best experience I’ve ever had and here’s why.
Lonnie Mayne: (07:17)
And told some stories. Yeah. So now I work with them on their leadership program and I’m the moderator for the, the great speakers that we have come in on Fridays and, and, uh, get to meet some great people. And we have executives and leaders come into the event to hear these speakers and collaborate and actually go out on the race course and practice.
And the Spartan Leadership’s Next Academy if you want to call it that is about corporate, you know, incorporating the values and aspects he talked about into cultures within corporate America. Exactly. Bringing that together and building that extension of that community. And that’s kind of where we connected as well
Okay. So back to the idea, you saw this idea, you said this with red shoes. Tell us about right.
Lonnie Mayne: (10:16)
So red shoes. It’s a, it’s a philosophy and a framework and it’s very simple by design. And the, the red shoes philosophy says stand out for the positive in the way you work and the way you live your life. And when you do it in a meaningful way, when it’s important to you, it stands out like a pair of red shoes. Um, and then we created this framework that can be applied, you know, in leadership. It can be applied in culture, it can be implied in the customer experience. And then again, it’s applied in your home life in your home, your family life. That’s right. Yeah. So, you know, it’s something that became very catchy to companies to bring in and kind of thread into their current mission, vision, values. So we don’t rip and replace what’s already there. Yeah. We kind of reignite it and we give people a different way of thinking about standing out and how you deliver the customer experience, how you hire, how you develop people.
Um, the general areas that are huge to you and to us.
Lonnie Mayne: (11:13)
Yeah, yeah. And they’re all important. Even when you and I first met and connected, you know, it’s as a red shoes individual, somebody, so click subscribe so that you’re creating space for people to be their best. So what that means is your ego starts to go away. Yeah. You know, if I put my ego in front of you, we’re not going to connect and it’s going to be one way. And the product, you know, for those that are listening and are watching is going to be something completely different. So that’s red shoes all always says, you know, put your best version of yourself out there in front of others.
That’s awesome. And so you’ve obviously seen this framework and working in many different companies made from cultures and what have you seen? I mean, it’s very personal to people, right? Right. That’s the real piece that we aligned on. It’s about people and culture building. What have you seen in terms of the benefits just well in your life and in other people’s life and embracing it?
Lonnie Mayne: (12:04)
I’ll start with me and then just kind of, you know, carry it on in the companies. I mean for me it’s a constant elevation or a constant, if I can drive yourself crazy a bit. Cause you know, you’re always looking at something and saying there’s probably a better way to do it. There’s probably a better way to show up. There’s probably a better way to respond or build or service or higher. So you kind of have to know when good enough is good enough, but it’s a higher standard, you know? And so when I wake up in the morning, the first interaction I have with an individual is how I set the whole day.
Lonnie Mayne: (12:32)
So if it’s in a hotel and I’m riding down the elevator or whatever, and I interact with somebody, I want that moment to be as red shoes as possible, to kind of set the stage, you know, for me. And so I think it’s, there’s an awareness, which is one of the pillars in the framework that says, look, be aware of people. So if you’re going to dinner or to lunch with somebody and they’ve invited you, you don’t put your phone on the table and you’re checking it every five minutes unless you say, look, I’ve got a baby out on the way. You do. Yeah. And I may get a phone call, right? Yeah. So you’re thinking about how can I make this experience, this situation better than if I wasn’t here? Right? And in that you create engagement for employees. Um, we have hired people that, you know, we in my former company, a technology company, we weren’t always the highest paid organization. We didn’t always have all the ping pong tables and beef jerky and beer and all that. But how we treated people and how we develop people, you know, we were able to recruit some of the best talent, sure. In the state that I was in, and we retained our people because of this philosophy.
What I’m hearing you say is you’re creating a culture of excellence, right? We’re creating a culture of people first. You have a culture of trust, right. Create a culture of continuous improvement, of learning, of curiosity. Right? Right. And ultimately that leads to purpose and it creates a sense of community shared purpose, right? And that that only just continues to magnify from the core out. And that then permeates to the clients, the stakeholders, everyone else.
Lonnie Mayne: (13:55)
That’s exactly right. And you said two things that I want to hit really quick cause they were perfect. You see the human first and the title second. So you know, if we go to dinner tonight and the person that’s serving us, what I will see as a human being first and the person that serving the second, and that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to hold that individual for accountability to do their job. Right? Right. But I want to create the space for them to be red shoes back to me. So I get the best service. And it’s the same thing in an organization that look, if it’s a sales team or it’s anybody on the executive team, I want to give you the authority to be red shoes, but I’m going to hold you accountable to an outcome. So all of those performance metrics and KPIs still exist. I just don’t want to be a jerk about. Right.
Right. Well, so I think the reason why I like it too, just the red shoes concept is yeah, it’s about the details. It’s about the small things, right? So if you think about what you’re wearing, right? You’re literally wearing red shoes. Your shoes are one part of your entire wardrobe. Right? And it’s also said that, you know, when you look at someone’s shoes, you can tell a lot about their personality. Like, yeah, you prefer quality. Do they prefer certain styles? What is it? Is it just loafers versus sneakers I mean there’s a lot of information you can gather from from that. And so I can see how that translates to how you show up for your clients, employees or your family.
Lonnie Mayne: (15:07)
Yeah, and I, and I think what’s important about it is I call it red shoes and there’s kind of a story behind that, but you can call it whatever you want, right? It’s just saying, this is how I’m going to choose to show up every hour, you know? So if I, if I get off, if I, if I’m supposed to go left and I know that and I start to go right, you know, red shoes, the philosophy framework is going to pull me back and Oh, by the way, if it doesn’t, the red shoes leaders I’ve surrounded myself with will pull me back and say, wait a minute. You know, I know this is not how you want to show up, Lonnie. And so why are you going this way? And maybe the awareness kicks back in. Yeah. Yeah. And then one other thing you said that I love is that, you know, I’m here learning from you. So if I, yeah. And that makes the philosophy and framework better because I will leave Philadelphia a better person because I also listened to you because your version of red shoes, even though there’s a philosophy and a framework, you will expand that to, to what’s personal to you as you mentioned. And I will be the benefactor of that and it will make me better because you’ve taught me something that’s red shoes for you. And I’ll go, Oh, I really liked that. I’m going to apply that to my customers. Sure. Teammates to my family and friends or whatever the case may be.
Arguably this listening is a key element to having a restless appearance cause you need to hear that because every person’s perception of excellence may be a little bit, that’s right. There are objective standards, but things are very personal. People experience great things differently. What’s important to them differently. And so how do you understand that? By listening and you mentioned an example earlier when you’re talking about the idea of bringing cultures together, meshing companies together. Um, how do you, how do you get to the heart of what drives employees? And I think that speaks to that and maybe you could share that topic.
Lonnie Mayne: (16:38)
Yeah. And I want to come right to that. Just one thing before that though, when we designed the framework, we said, what are the two, three, four, five, 10 things that connect us all that if you put them in the center of the table, neither one of us would argue that. Yeah, those things do. That’s important to me. Excellent. Standing out. Right? So we came down to five and we said we can, we can place these in anywhere in the world and we can place them, you know, demographically we can place them, you know, no matter what and we’re going to connect with. So that’s where we started. So what are those times? So the first one is awareness. And you know, imagine within each one of these steps or pillars, there’s quite a lot of build out that we’ve built there. Awareness, um, gratitude. It’s one of the most common things we see with successful people is their, at their gratitude, very grateful human beings in open, which allows opportunities to step in. The third one is everybody has a story. So how two of us connected as we started learning about each other’s stories, right? And these stories are really good. Stories sometimes are challenging and you can step in and say, Hey, I need some helpless something. You know, the fourth one is kindness and respect. So I’m fiercely competitive. I want to win, but I want to be kind and I want to be respectful. Um, kindness will drift from time to time when you’re trying to take the Hill and you know you’re pushing people away to get there, but you have to respect everybody and you literally aren’t pushing people down. You’re bringing them with you. That’s what kindness aspect of that say where they’re bringing you with them. And the last one is putting yourself out there. And so it’s funny cause they’re wearing the red shoes is when you wear a pair of red shoes, you put yourself out there, but all four of those things lead up to putting yourself out there. So if I don’t do something for you is an example as we’ve connected, cause I’ve used all five hopefully with you, then I have to do something for you. And that’s what completes the circle in return. You know, if I’ve earned that then you will probably do something for me and it may not happen in a moment. It might happen later.
It could be extended over time. That’s the whole idea of true reciprocity, right? Of giving with the expectation, right? Yeah. A friend of mine, I probably, I’m guessing probably friend of both of ours, Dave Nelson talks about that all the time. That truly giving is not, there’s no expectation of return and will naturally sort itself out. That’s right. It’s supposed to. Yeah.
Lonnie Mayne: (18:40)
So, yeah. So and then, and then I think where you were headed, if I recall was people take that and they make it very personal to them. And so we’re not taking a corporate mandate and saying everybody has to do this. You know, the goals and objectives of an organization stay the same. Yeah. Mission, vision, values, that stays the same. But now you can kind of personalize it to a role. You can personalize it to yourself. You know, if you’re in a customer success group, you can say, what does this mean for me is I deliver the customer experience to our customers is the way I’m writing emails. I’m not as good at that. Cause that used to be in. So maybe I’m going to use a video to communicate with the customer. Maybe I’m going to spend a little more time and write a little better email. You know, so there’s all these different ways and, and the other part of that, this is actually where I, I do think you were guiding me, is to be a red shoes leader. You have to understand those that are, you’re working with and working for and understand them here. Yeah. I mean, we spend half of our life doing our job. There’s 24 hours in a day. If you take your sleep time of eight, hopefully we’re getting eight hours. Most of, most of us are not. You’re about to get even less the with new baby coming. But if you take the eight hours of sleep away, you got 16 hours where you’re alive and you’re awake and you’re, you know, half of that time is probably a worker more. Yeah. Half is in your personal life doing your thing. If you’re unhappy at your job, you’re unhappy half your life. Yeah. So then what we say is with red shoes, how do you bring meaning into a business? Most people grew up not wanting to, do what they’re doing, but they, they like their job. They like, hopefully like their, their bosses and their associates. Yeah. And they make good money in away way they go. But as a leader, if I can tap into what we call the 20% so if 100% of this makeup, yeah, sorry, I took a long path to get there. It’s a fun little path. So if this a hundred percent of us, you know, if you break it down this way, 80% of what we do every day is the same stuff, right? Sure. The numbers could be off or the percentages. But we go to the grocery store, we pay our bills, we pick up our children and go to the ballgames and go to work, like pick up a dry cleaning. All this put gas in our car. That’s this 80% it’s just what we do. Then there’s this 20% that shows up for us as our deepest goals, desires, dreams, aspirations. That’s what makes you, you and me. Me, you know, it might be that I’m at this time of my life, I want to do a triathlon and that’s in my 20. It’s not part of the 80 but it’s in the twenties and so what are our significant others are in their children are in their, our pets are in there. Our hobbies are in their vacations. Airplanes going over sometimes are in there. So I can learn what is in year 20 I can understand you, I can motivate you and I can inspire you. And conversely you could do the same with me.
Lonnie Mayne: (21:11)
That level, that standard is exhausting that means I actually have to slow down and get to know every single person I worked with or worked for. And maybe, you know, sometimes people will say, but you know, people are private. They don’t want you to go too far. Well, that in itself is ratio. Some people want you to go further. Some people don’t see you as the boundary person. You have to know. So in theory, at the end of the day, if you apply this philosophy and framework, you’re going to be exhausted, which means you have to take care of yourself. That’s where the red shoes living part kind of came from is look, work hard and live, live well, right, right. Take care of yourself.
Yeah. I mean that goes back to, to Spartan, right? And total fitness and health. And obviously we’ve talked a little bit about this, but I think we can talk about this. It’s starts with the person, the leader itself, taking care of oneself physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, making sure that person’s whole so that you’re better able to serve and give your gifts and offer that leadership and play that exhausting game.
Lonnie Mayne: (22:07)
Yeah, totally right. You know, I used to say too that if you hire, right, if you hire the right red shoes individual, you can, if they’re in sales as an example and you say, look, I need help in the finance teams. Yeah. Which would probably sound crazy to a lot of people that you could take that individual, put ’em in the finance team and they would make finance better because of who they are, not because of what they know. It’s how they show up every single day. And so that’s how we would hire. You know, we may move you from one group to another group and it may not be exactly where you want to be, but if we ask you to stand here, stand tall, wherever you stand, stand tall, that’s red shoes.
I love that. And I just, as I’m hearing you talk, I think I do some of these things and now I’m going to be even more conscious doing even more of them, right? It’s our own team and I think even about our organization screaming like we look to build our team up until through freight different roles and move people around and develop their skills. And it’s exactly that. It’s like creating the culture of this is where I think there’s some alignment, which is how do we make the workplace fun? How do we make, how do we build community at work? How do we create purpose in what we’re doing and how we’re serving? And that goes back to create an experience that people can rally behind and then transmute that to the market. Totally.
Lonnie Mayne: (23:18)
And I, and it does translate, right? I mean if you create that type of an environment, and I should pause here and say for years we were pushing the standard and pushing the standard and it can, it can actually become a curse because you, here’s an example, you go on vacation, you’re sitting on the beach and you’ve got a nice drink in your hand with an umbrella and you’re sitting there with your family and friends and you’re thinking this is pretty great. And red shoes would say, but there’s probably a better beach, right? Sometimes you just have to go, wait a minute, this is a good beach. So that’s number one number. You’re going to mess it up. Yeah. We put so much pressure on leaders to always achieve this red shoes go a little further than everybody else. And it was, the standard was so high. And what we did is we created a little bit of compression where like, I don’t want to fail cause red shoe says you can’t fail. And it was, it was wrong. We should no, no. Go to the edge. And sometimes you get a jump and we’ll pull you back. Right. But don’t stop going to the edge. Don’t stop throwing the ball.
It’s important to take the chances. Yeah. Right. And would have stuff even back further phase. Step two is gratitude, right? So some point you have to recognize we are doing an amazing job. We do have an amazing team, we have great people, we have great skills, we are developing, we are exceeding we are growing. And yes, there is always more that we can do and more than we can achieve and more than we can discover. Right. But then the day we have a lot to be, even just sitting right in here, we’re super grateful.
Lonnie Mayne: (24:33)
It’s probably one of the more powerful points that you bring up. And I know I made mention to being grateful, but when you’re ungrateful, you become cynical and small. Sure. And then you wonder why nobody comes in and steps in and gives you the opportunities and everybody’s kind of pushing you away. And that awareness has to can and go, wait, I’m ungrateful because as you were saying that, I was thinking from the moment I woke up, I live in park city, Utah. It’s getting a little cooler. Yeah, great place and the leaves are starting to change. I flew here, we have water, we have lighting, microphone, I have you. We have the planes we have, you know, and so you, and it’s not my fire football, the fire went out, but you start to, as you go through and navigate through the day when the hard things are the hard things. But then you also realize waiting and I’m getting a paycheck. I’m working for a good company, they’re growing. I have a great leader that sends me great emails on Monday to kick the week off. You start to train yourself to look for these things and then when you walk out in your personal life, when the other person is saying, it’s raining and it’s loud and I can’t get a cab, you’re saying it’s raining. I needed to water my plants, I can’t get a cab, which gives me a little more time to text my son and say ‘hey man, i’m thinking of you.’
More time to change the perspective change the story. I know I, this is how I tried to live my life. It’s awesome. It’s feel like kindred spirits here. I agree. Totally agree. It’s awesome. Um, so what’s next for you? I mean obviously we talked a little bit, you, you know, you should have this tattoo you yup. That reminds you of the previous 50 years, the next 50 years. What do you want to do? What’s your legacy?
Lonnie Mayne: (25:52)
Yeah, no, I love the question because I stepped away from 18 years of corporate turnarounds, 10 years of running a tech company in the last two and a half years doing this full time. And um, and I’ve just loved every minute of it. And I work from, you know, smaller clients that totally get this and they want to compete with the giants and they are, and they’re doing it really well too. The world is changing. Like there’s this negative noise, I think that’s out there that starting the positive leaders if you will. Like you and I are trying to turn it down and go, hold on. You know, we’re good at what we do. And so I’m the next 50 years, I want to remind people, look, life is pretty good. Yes, there’s bad things happening in the world and there’s politics and there’s all this stuff happening. But if you can turn the noise down and live this way, your life will count for plenty. And you mentioned this tattoo. I lost my brother this last year, the little tattoo on my arms is a reminder. Life is short. Tomorrow’s promised to no one. So I’m standing on the stage sharing this message or I’m sitting with you wherever I’m at. I want to be the best version of myself because I tomorrow is a promise to me. Yeah. So I’m going to get my best today, rather, I’m tired, you know, really, I’m sad, whatever. So that’s it. And sharing this message to as many people as I possibly can, is my mission and if it shows up for people in a positive way, great. If it, if it doesn’t, that’s okay as well. Um, but that, that’s pretty much my mission. I’m, I’m very excited it, I talked this way and then I realized that we’ve used this to compete. I would tell our sales team, we’re going to outsell people cause we’re going to out think of it, we’re going to out, you know, email. We’re going to out communicate, we’re going to know our clients’ businesses better. Hopefully almost as good as they do so we can create more value for them. So it just never ends. And, and I want to keep going that path. I had a large magazine reach out to me and want to talk more about this. And as soon as I got into it, they’re like, yeah, that’s, you know, it’s nice. It seems a little warm and fuzzy. And I said to him, look, you put me competing against you. If I’m with a competing, you know, a syndication, I will beat you every time. Nine times out of 10, right? The 10% of the time I don’t beat you. It’s probably because of a pricing thing or timing thing or whatever.
But I will, you know, take this to the, research out. I mean, I saw last week, I bet it’s Harvard, so they had it, but it says that positive, positive cultures, positive thinking outperforms neutral or negative for sure. It’s a fact. Shawn Achor. Yeah. He wrote a whole book on this whole idea of same thing that the communal, you know, embodiment of positivity and action uplevels the entire system.
Lonnie Mayne: (28:26)
I’ve hired Sean twice to give him a plug in our own conference and I ran this tech company and that I presented at the same conferences he has and I, and I subscribed to it. In fact, the whole gratitude thing, I always say it’s not mine. Sean talks about it. Yeah. A lot of people talking about it. And this year actually, yeah, he’s just a superb individual and he is showing the way for companies.
So I 100% agree and that’s why I think that it’s um, Gary Vaynerchuk talks about it just make positivity louder. Right. So like the people that are approaching life this way need to stand out. They need to make the voice louder. They need to magnify that. We need to have more people. Yep. Make it, cause we can’t necessarily control turning the volume on the negative down, but we can control amplifying what we actually have.
Lonnie Mayne: (29:11)
And I think, I think to that point it’s hard because when you, when you do a podcast and you put yourself out there and you write things, um, you have to, and I know you well enough now to know you do everything with good intent and so, but there are always going to be those people out there that maybe they’re ungrateful or they’re, their story is something other than what your story or my story is. Maybe they’ve gone through some difficult time and they’re angry and they’re upset. Or maybe they’re in a culture that’s not red shoes or they’re working for an individual that’s not red shoes or they went through a divorce. The stories become critically important to how we understand them. And so what I do if I get some of that feedback, my intentions are always good. Sure. Like I want to help and I want to learn. Yeah. If it’s not coming across that way, there’s probably a story there. It could be me, but my intentions are always good, you know? And so, so I keep that in mind and there’s been cases where I’ve reached out to individuals, said, what’s going on? Tell me your story. And you know what? Low and behold they start to tell it, well I do. I’m in this situation, this is going on. I, you know, I’m stressed. You tap into the 20 and then you start to break it down. But that level of leadership again is, is, is hard to do, but it’s necessary.
I love that man. So, so back to the story or, or transitioning to story, just to give you a little plug here, you recently written a book.
Lonnie Mayne: (30:19)
Yeah, we just launched it in July. Yeah. I’ll send a to read it. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, we’ll get you one. And um, yeah, we’ve, we took, so the story behind the book was we always wanted to ride it and it’s all about scale. How can we get this message to, to wake people up to what they already know? Cause I’m not really saying anything new in that book. There’s different stories and anecdotes and leader stories and company stories and all these different things and we use stories so people can connect and go, Oh yeah, that reminds me of uncle Joe, or that reminds me of this boss or that leader or whatever the case. Or it reminds me of what I already know. And for some reason I’ve left the negative noise go so loud to allow that I’m not doing it anymore. I become ungrateful. I become, you know, unkind. I’m not putting myself out there. And you not aware the awareness. Yeah. So we decided to write the book in a way that literally anybody can read that book and get something from it. So it’s not just for executives and leaders, it’s really for anyone in the organization.
I think we’ve been rambling for a little bit in a good way. I really enjoyed talking with you can’t wait to see what you do tomorrow at the stadium. Other amazing leaders are going to be there and for audiences, it’s tuned in and watched. You’re listening to this and they’ve gotten a lot of value and wisdom from you. Thank you Lonnie. And I’m definitely a checkout Spartan as well. Absolutely. And scrimmage.
Lonnie Mayne: (31:35)
Thank you. It’s been my pleasure to be with you. Thank you very much.