Supply Chain Now Episode 548
“No matter where you are in the organization, you can start a movement and, and begin to push for the right things to happen.”
– Amir Ghannad, Founder of The Ghannad Group
Since earning a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, Amir Ghannad has worked all over the world for companies like Procter & Gamble, Sunny D, and the Campbell’s Soup company. Although he has held nearly every imaginable role in manufacturing and supply chain, he has most recently been focused on organizational effectiveness, serving as a sort of ‘internal consultant.’
As the founder of The Ghannad Group, Amir and his team guide leaders in creating extraordinary cultures through results and unprecedented fulfillment. He recently gathered many of the insights from his work and experiences in the book, “The Transformative Leader: Boldly Declare, Courageously Pursue, and Abundantly Achieve the Extraordinary.”
In this conversation, Amir speaks with Supply Chain Now Co-hosts Greg White and Scott Luton about:
· The change management best practices that he has found to be ‘timeless’
· The ties that bind people and communities together, across race, gender, and creed, and why setting aside our differences is the best way to appreciate them
· What he sees as the leading developments in organizational culture and leadership development
It’s time for supply chain. Now broadcasting live from the supply chain capital of the country. Atlanta, Georgia heard around the world, supply chain. Now spotlights the best in all things, supply chain, the people, the technologies, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.
Scott Luton (00:32):
Good afternoon. Scott Luton and Greg white with you here on supply chain. Now welcome to today’s show Greg really excited about today’s conversation. How are you doing today? I’m doing great. I’m glad because this is an old friend of yours that I’ve never met. So I’m looking forward to this conversation. Well, and as we were talking, pre-show, there’s a little bit of a difference in your background and I couldn’t write as you signed on, I couldn’t figure out my, put my finger on what it was. Yeah. Now we know getting ready for rapid growth down there. Greg white. Well, you know, everyone has to have a new year’s resolution and this is mine is to remodel this, uh, this studio. Yeah. And that’s, that’s probably easier than, than some other resolutions that I, I know I’ve sworn to. So we’ll see. But today we’re talking with a leadership dynamo, a published author podcast host.
Scott Luton (01:21):
That’s also a very dear friend of the show. So I’m really excited to share, uh, we are gunna with our audience here. So stay tuned for a wonderful discussion, Greg, that will raise and increase our community’s leadership IQ. No doubt, no doubt, but quick programming before we get started. If you enjoyed this conversation, be sure you find and subscribe to wherever you get your podcasts to supply chain now. So you don’t miss others. Cause I promise you. You’re not going to want to miss conversations just like this. So Greg, with no further ado, let’s bring in our featured guests here today. We are talking with Amir Gennady leadership development specialist, culture, transformation, catalyst, and founder and CEO at the Gennady group. Amir. Good afternoon. Good afternoon to you both. It’s great to be here. Thank you so much. Yeah. Welcome aboard. Definitely. And Greg, this has been in the works for awhile and um, I’m really excited. We’re overdue. You know, we have, uh, Amir, we’ve done I think 545 and 50 episodes and we should have easily included you in the first 10, but better, late than never. And looking forward to conversation here today, I was really pulling for ya, Amir, but well, you know, I think you guys needed some time to really establish yourself as a, as a really awesome company and, and podcast, which you already have done. So this way, if I screw this one up, it won’t really be a big, big problem. Right.
Scott Luton (02:43):
So see Greg Amir, doesn’t miss a beat. So we’ve got a great conversation teed up here today, but where do we want to start? Right. Let’s start at the beginning. Amir. Tell us about your birth. Now let’s start a little bit beyond that. Do tell us a little bit about yourself and maybe, maybe even a little bit about your upbringing.
Amir Ghannad (03:00):
Sure, sure. Well, let me start back when my dad was about, uh, 15 years old and no, I mean I grew up in Iran, so, so sometimes people listen to my accent. I always tell him, I said, listen, you know, 10 minutes into my conversation with you, you’re going to be wondering like, where is this guy’s accent coming from? He as a middle Eastern kind of thing, going with a little Southern Twain and whatnot. So I grew up in Iran. I came to the States when I was 16 years old. I came by myself, didn’t know anybody didn’t know the language. Very modest, sort of means a little bit of money, but anyway, it landed in Boston. Massachusetts went to high school up there, then moved down to Georgia. I went to college and Georgia, middle Georgia college and then transferred to Georgia tech. And I got a bachelor’s and master’s in mechanical engineering, uh, from, from Georgia tech. And then it went from there. Uh, basically my upbringing, basically I was the, uh, the oldest child in the entire family. Like, you know, I was the oldest grandchild. I was pampered. I just lived a really cushy life. And then I found myself in a foreign land where I didn’t know anybody. Like I was trying to fend for myself when I was 16 years old, had a series of adventures in Boston. When I first got there, I got beat up. They didn’t have a place to stay.
Scott Luton (04:21):
Can I ask about the beat up in Boston? That seems like a given doesn’t it?
Amir Ghannad (04:27):
Well, the, the thing I’ll tell you the very short story of that. About two weeks after I got to the States, you know, w w the, the high school that I went to, uh, put all the high school students up in a dorm that belonged to a college or two weeks later, the college decided they didn’t want the high school students there. So they kicked us all out. So here I am in the street, I’m trying to figure out where to live. So I found three other guys in the same situation. We found us an apartment. Well, two of these guys were really out of control. They were partying and all of this, the other guy and me, we were always kind of studying all that. So those other guys told us every night, Hey, why don’t you guys come out with us? And after like two weeks, we said, okay, we’ll go out with you as one time. And we went to this game room somewhere, rode the subway and all of that. Anyway, we found ourselves in a neighborhood where they didn’t really want us there. And I was the one who got beat up anyway, more than I wanted to.
Scott Luton (05:22):
That’s why they wanted you to come along, because if it hadn’t been you, it would have been one of them.
Amir Ghannad (05:26):
That’s right. That’s right. Like if a bear’s running after, you have to be faster than the bear, right. Just be faster than the slowest guy. So, uh, anyway, so that’s sort of my, my story. And once I graduated from Georgia tech with my master’s in mechanical engineering, I worked started with Procter and gamble and went on from there.
Scott Luton (05:48):
Well, then that’s a great transition point there. Let’s talk about your professional journey prior to the, the Granada group. You know, we met back when you were doing big things and leading sites and manufacturing world. And, and that was just a single chapter in the book of my professional journey. So tell us more about, you know, some of the key positions that made up your career prior to the gunnel group and especially those that shaped your worldview, and then we’ll touch on Eureka moments in a minute. Yeah.
Amir Ghannad (06:16):
And so I coming out of school, I basically started in 1985 and, uh, Albany, Georgia with Procter and gamble. And I had a series of assignments for about eight and a half years there. I started out as a maintenance manager. I was in operations. I had kind of a pseudo HR role at some point. It wasn’t HR. It was within supply chain and within the manufacturing organization, but it was called E R O D employee relations, organizational development, because early on, I kind of figured that that was sort of my passion. And so after that, I went to Thailand and had a couple of few assignments. There was there for about five years. We started up a brand new plant and there was just a whole lot of really great experiences there. Then we came back to the States for about two and a half years over Delaware, then transferred back out to Germany, Frankfurt, Germany, with Procter and gamble.
Amir Ghannad (07:11):
Again, I’m were there for about two and a half years. And at that point, we came to the States again, and that is when I left P and G and joined sunny D. And that is where we met, where I had responsibility for a couple of plants, one here in Atlanta and one in New Jersey. And then we had a series of challenges with the Atlanta plant that we kind of were dealing with, and that’s where we met and so on and so forth. And after that, I spent four years with Campbell soup up to that point in my career about the first 27 years, I had always worked in a plant. I’ve done basically just about every job in a manufacturing and supply chain, but the last four years, I actually did organizational effectiveness work, uh, as my real job. Uh, so I was sort of an internal consultant if you will, with Campbell soup for four years. And I led the high performance initiative, high-performance work system initiative, and that was a lot of fun. And then I left to start, you know, the,
Scott Luton (08:13):
So I’m here. We’re gonna talk about the book. You did publish a little later in the interview, but I bet you could write a volume of books on all of the stories and experiences you had in, in all those years in manufacturing and supply chain and change. Let’s go back for a second. So you spent five years in Thailand amongst all of your other global destinations. Yeah. I hope to visit that neck of the world at some point soon, but give me paint a picture from a, either a food, you know, that you miss, you could only get really get it right there. What was, what was the coolest thing about living in Thailand?
Amir Ghannad (08:47):
Well, I’ll tell you what the coolest thing was. We, we actually, it was surreal, right? I mean, from a personal perspective, we had generally two maids. Uh, one was always kind of a chef grade kind of cook, uh, and was the sort of the, the, the main housekeeper. And then another one who kind of worked for, for her. We had a driver because we weren’t supposed to drive, even though I snuck and did it anyway, but we had a driver. So, and so we lived in this luxury apartment and ultimately, of course, so we, we lived like, it was an amazing life, right? And, and so people were extremely nice. Food was delicious. The one thing I will tell you is there’s this fruit called durian. And this durian is, is the King of fruits. And then, and the, the ties themselves, they say it tastes like heaven and it smells like health. They mine. Right. And I absolutely love durian and we buy it at the farmer’s market here. Uh, and it’s, it’s an acquired taste. You either hate it or you love it. Most people hate it. Uh, but that’s the one thing that I miss as far as food is concerned. I love it.
Scott Luton (09:55):
So all this time on this critical, earlier portion of your career from, from Thailand, and then you, you mentioned Frankfurt, Germany, still a PNG, what’s one big memory from your time there in Germany that you, that you still think about,
Amir Ghannad (10:10):
You know, uh, something, I mean, I would say personally, I felt a sense of peace in Germany. That was, that I had never really felt. And when we first got there, you know, on Sundays, you have quiet time. You’re not even supposed to work. Every place is closed. So we were sort of forced to relax if you will. Okay. And so from a family perspective, it was family time and it was really a wonderful time for us. We would go for long walks and things like that. The other thing though that I noticed was that, you know, when I was in Thailand, the, the style of communication was such that I couldn’t really be direct with anybody. I had to really adopt a, a way of communicating that wouldn’t leave people in a bad place because you would, they would lose face if we talk to them and I don’t want to stereotype, but what I’m saying is in that culture, you sort of want to present the message in a way that doesn’t leave the person in a really bad place.
Amir Ghannad (11:05):
And embarrassed. What I found in Germany was that it was the exact opposite. If I ever sort of tried to present the message in a, in a diplomatic way, somebody would say, well, here you go again, trying to act like, you know, you’re acting like Americans, just tell us, you know, and I was like, Oh, geez. You know, over here, I have to go to this extreme to make sure that I really sort of wrap the message up in something that was nice and acceptable over here. I had to go way to the other end and communicate very, very directly. Those two extremes really sort of showed me something about, look, you can’t talk to people like you’re a TV set. You got to really figure out who’s listening and speak in a way that lands over there, the way you intend it, Amir. Uh, I love that picture
Scott Luton (11:54):
You painted. So it’s so important to consider these different factors when you’re trying to communicate successfully and effectively and within, and respecting the cultures that you find yourself in. But you’re also giving me that Eureka moment is that perhaps I’m from Thailand and Greg is from Germany because our communication styles can be that different. So we’ll, we’ll have that.
Amir Ghannad (12:17):
Just say it
Scott Luton (12:20):
Further, explore that in a future episode. All right. One final thing before I turn it over to Greg and we would take a deeper dive into the Ghanaian group is Amir. I can’t wait for you to answer this next question. You think of Eureka moments, especially as someone that is as introspective as you are, right? You’re constantly learning. You’re very, uh, aware self-aware and I’ve always admired that about you. And by the way, Greg, I meant to add this to, to run a show. Amir is the kindest communicator I am. And Amir, I meant, I meant to say this earlier, as I recognized our, as we facilitated this, this interview today, and, uh, we were exchanged emails, different team members and whatnot. I have never met someone as polite in how they communicate to any, even if it’s just a quick, you know, question and response. I mean, those little things add up. So kudos tip of the hat to you. I think the world needs more of that for sure. Thank you so much. Let’s think about Eureka moments. What’s what’s been a key Eureka moment here, either a recent one or one years ago.
Amir Ghannad (13:23):
Well, uh, you know, I’ll, I’ll just share a couple of them very quickly. I mean, the first one for me was, you know, when I first started with Proctor and gamble in Albany, Georgia here I am master’s degree in mechanical engineering. And they brought me in and they, they showed me, they, they introduced me to this group of folks who were now reporting to me and I could see in their faces. Right. They’re looking at me like, and they’re all kind of looking a little rough and tough and, and I’m this kid who’s gonna like, I’m 23. Right. But I look like I’m 12 and I’m standing there. I’m like, yeah, I’m these people’s boss. And they’re like, Oh my God, this guy is gonna come in. And, and he’s probably thinking he knows everything and all that. So it was kinda intimidating, right? Oh, very quickly before I read one leadership book, I, I got it.
Amir Ghannad (14:10):
That, look, my job is not to be better than these guys at what they do. My job is to actually support them and be the barrier Buster for them. Somehow I got that. And it might’ve been because I kind of figured I was never going to be as good as they are. Would they do? I don’t know. So that was one moment that happened very early in my career. That just kind of set the tone for everything that I did because people always tell me, they said, look, you spent 31 years in manufacturing, supply chain. And the work you’re doing is just, it’s just not. I said, listen, I had this realization early in my career. And then what I did was every, I got every job I had. I did it from an angle of empowering people, energizing people, helping them get in touch with their best version of themselves.
Amir Ghannad (15:01):
So that I think was really big for me. Uh, the other thing that I will tell you is that, you know, from a kind of a work and personal standpoint, when we were working in Germany, my wife and I had this realization that we wanted to leave and come to the States and have the kids sort of be, uh, you know, acclimated to the U S before, when they went to, you know, college here and stuff. And, and at that point it was like, look, I, it was a big risk to move, to leave a company that I’d been with for 19 years and not even have a job and things like that. And, but going through that transition and actually sticking to like what was right for us as a family and making some tough decisions from a career perspective. And I had done that a couple of other times as well. It has just really shown me that, look, you’ve got to make sure that your life works and, and everything else falls into place. Yes. Success is important, but, you know, so it was fulfillment. And so is making sure that you’ve got balance in your, in your life. So those were just a couple of moments that I will share with you.
Greg White (16:12):
Yeah. I think that that’s a really important discovery to recognize that because I think it takes guts and I think many people, they don’t do it. Right. And it’s because it’s a huge risk to lose your job. Your family’s counting on you in a lot of ways, right. To prepare them for life, but also to support them in their life as it is today. And I think a lot of people, they really struggle with that aspect of it. It takes a tremendous amount of trust in yourself and the universe and whatever, you know, opportunity exists out there to do that. I hope people recognize that
Scott Luton (16:48):
Well said very well said, well, let’s, let’s keep driving there. There’s so much, uh, you know, this could be a six hour episode of miracle. There’s some different things you’ve already shared. I love the fuller story behind, but for the sake of time, Greg let’s, let’s dive into the Granada group.
Greg White (17:03):
Yeah. I’d love to understand a little bit about what you do. So I’m new to this understanding. I’m guessing that it has something to do with your glorious history at Proctor and gamble and sunny D. And as, as I told Scott, when he said we were going to interview you, he said, sunny D and you had me at sunny D um, so, so tell us a little bit about, uh, about what your group does for
Scott Luton (17:28):
Starter. Yeah. So
Amir Ghannad (17:30):
W what we do is we guide leaders in creating extraordinary cultures that through results and unprecedented fulfillment, right. And I’m so sort of passionate about that because based on my own experiences, having been involved in several turnarounds in my manufacturing and supply chain experience, I just I’m so hooked on that. Like when leaders actually come to that point where they really get that, it doesn’t have to be that hard, and yes, we can make extraordinary things happen and have people be fulfilled. So I’m really committed to that. I work with my wife and two kids. So this is the ganache group, it’s a family business. And we actually started it with our, with my daughter, sort of nudging me in that direction. In fact, my, my book, the transformative leader was only published because she got on my case in 2015 and she had had it for me saying, I’m going to publish this book someday that thousands, like literally thousands of post-it notes on voice notes and often this.
Amir Ghannad (18:32):
And she’s like, look, some of that is going to be for the next book. Now we are going to publish this book. So she took over the project and published this book in 2015 and then got on my case to leave my corporate career behind and start the ganache group, which I did eventually a couple of months after she was really kind of pushing me to do it. And then she recruited her brother and her mother as well. And so what we do Greg, is the way we do our guiding of, uh, leaders is we do leadership development, training workshops, consulting, coaching. We’ve also started a membership site called, uh, on the court, you know, on the court leadership.com. So we have all kinds of activities going on, uh, to serve leaders who want to do a better job of serving their organizations or people who are aspiring leaders, by the way, who say, look, I want to be a leader someday, but I haven’t really had any kind of training or development. So we have all kinds of things that we offer to various people, no matter where you are in that,
Greg White (19:39):
That’s outstanding. So let’s do talk a little bit about the book and I’m curious, did the book come first? Um, was I hearing that right? Did the book come first and then like an odd group, is that
Amir Ghannad (19:50):
Yes, the book came first and it was basically what the book is all about is that there’s the first part of the book. The first third of the book really has to do with what I call a high commitment culture. What is a high commitment culture, because everybody wants to be a high-performance organization, right? But nobody wants to become that because becoming a high-performance organization requires work and that work is the creation of a high commitment culture. And so I described basically the, you know, 34 different characteristics of a high commitment culture, the mindset and behavior of leaders who want to create those kinds of cultures and a whole bunch of other things for leaders. And then the last two thirds of the book contains really 21 point lessons. And these are life lessons that apply to business as well, but there’s like two or three pages, each one point lesson. And then I’ve got some reflection questions and suggest that action to bring this into your life. And so that’s the transformative leader in a nutshell.
Greg White (20:53):
Outstanding. So how how’s the book doing
Amir Ghannad (20:57):
The book is doing phenomenally well, we actually have shipped it to over 30 countries, uh, ourselves. And I’ve also heard about other people sending pictures and all this from countries that we then send it to. I don’t know how they got it, but anyway, so we’re, we’ve shipped it to over 30 countries. It’s been translated to Spanish, we’ve got the e-book and the audio book and all that. And what’s really awesome about that is the experience of engaging with people all over the world about their takeaways and things like that. So if anybody, any of your listeners is an aspiring author, I’d say, you know, what do it, because somebody in the world is waiting for your message. It’s not about you, it’s about them. You’re making a difference. So jump on it and make it happen.
Scott Luton (21:41):
I got, I got, uh, Greg interject really quick for talk about Amir’s podcast yesterday. My whole family watched a movie called clouds and it was on Disney plus. So I’m not sure if y’all have uncovered Disney plus, but we have found it to be a, a wonderful resource for inspiring and, and great kids programming and failing programming. Anyway, long story short, the clouds is a tough movie to watch, and it focuses on a high schooler that had terminal cancer and he had a missed talent was songwriting. And unfortunately he lost his battle with cancer, uh, as a junior or senior in high school. But before he did, he made the leap to really follow his passion on music. And to your point, Amir, there is there, there was folks were waiting to hear from he and his, his, uh, co artist partner. And they, they, they were signed a music organization and, uh, they had a very popular songs and, and, and it all culminated in the concert where, as he was struggling to perform, given how advanced his cancer got the audience, you know, kind of where was his crutch to get through it.
Scott Luton (22:45):
And it was a very, it’s a very powerful story, but to your point, it really re-emphasize for the 3000 time, maybe just in the last few months, don’t wait, don’t procrastinate. There’s folks out there that are waiting for your gifts and, and, you know, take it, put it in a headlock and make it happen. So I appreciate the message you just shared. And I didn’t mean to interject too much there, Greg.
Amir Ghannad (23:07):
Great. Appreciate that. No, I think,
Greg White (23:09):
I think that’s a really important, uh, interjection and I think that’s a great analogy too, because, um, I found myself sitting here going, yeah, I probably should get on that book thing. Yeah, definitely. Great. And, and no, and I think that, I think it’s important to do that, uh, to, to have that, that kind of encouragement. Right. And to recognize that that, that, uh, time is finite. So you, uh, in addition to the services that the Gennady group does, you do what we do, right? You have a podcast as well, but before we jump into that, I have to ask you just one really important. Sure. How many post-it notes do you have left for the next book?
Amir Ghannad (23:52):
So I have to tell you honestly, that when I look at the post-it notes and the voice notes, and by the way, for the last four or five years, I haven’t stopped. I mean, between me and my son, who also kind of collaborates with me and creating models and all that, we literally have thousands of voice notes and other notes and post-it notes, electronic notes. So we are, I can tell you, I can easily publish three or four more books. We haven’t really made that a priority. In fact, that is a priority for me this year and 2021 to publish that next book. But we’ve had so many other things that we’ve been working on. We said, okay, let’s just capitalize on this one book and then kind of build on that. But this year I’m going to take my own advice and go ahead and go and publish the next
Greg White (24:41):
It’s hardest to take your own advice. Isn’t it? Right. The cobbler’s children have no shoes. So I applaud you for doing that. So tell us a little bit about your podcast.
Amir Ghannad (24:52):
Yeah. So my podcast started out as a solo podcast, essentially, I, for about four and a half years, I published a blog post every week. So if you go to my website, there’s like 200 something, a blog posts there. And every single week for four and a half years, I did that. And then I started somewhere along the way saying, okay, you know what? Some people don’t want to read a blog post because my blog posts are not like two paragraphs. They’re like an ebook. And I thought, okay, let me just kind of do a podcast. So I started doing solo podcasts, and then before I knew it, a couple of people were asking me, they said, Hey, you know, do you accept guests? I said, yeah, sure. Why not? And then eventually it went to about 99% guest interviews because I have so many brilliant guests.
Amir Ghannad (25:38):
I had one on yesterday by the name of Scott Luton. That’s going to be published here soon. And, and, and then we’ve had these publicists like, uh, break our door down with all kinds of really brilliant people. So I just can’t. So we increase the frequency in fact to twice a week. Now we publish one on Monday and one on Thursday, and we still can’t keep up. And the beneficiary of all of that, aside from the fact that I’m bringing some really great content to my listeners on a very, uh, sort of a selfish level. I love those podcasts because I li I have the interviews and I learned things and I go try and apply some of those. And then I listened to the finished product and it’s just been an amazing,
Greg White (26:24):
That’s awesome. And it’s been really neat to see,
Amir Ghannad (26:27):
Cause I know you guys know as well. Very well so,
Scott Luton (26:30):
Well, you know, I think I love the, we talk about all the time here, Greg, the democratic, I mean, it’s such a low bar to get into podcasting and to be heard. And so we love, you know, we weren’t the first by, by no stretch, there’s probably a million before we started. And there’s a been a million sense. And that’s the beautiful thing because, you know, there’s a such a low barrier to get in there and, and, and, and share your voice and spotlight stories and, and, you know, so it’s been really neat to see the new voices being found. And then, and then of course, but Amir, gosh, I think you and Ann, a podcast and podcast interviews, I mean, you were born in to help help people in their journey. So, um, really have enjoyed your podcast. And I’ve read your book a couple of times. I’ll I meant I should have grabbed it before we got on here today, but look, we’re going to have to hold you accountable. Uh, 20, 21. I’m I’m looking for the sequel to the transformative leader, right? Greg? Yeah, that’s right. So, uh, and there’s a high bar because what we’re talking Rachel Miller about SQLs, Gregg rarely are the sequels better than the first. And we were throwing a few exceptions out there, the godfather two and, uh, star Wars, empire strikes back, and then there’s a few others, but I think this would be the exception. Yes.
Scott Luton (27:51):
Alright. So I wanna, I wanna switch gears here for a moment and I want to talk about change management that you, you know, certainly of all the different hats you’ve worn and, and all the initiatives you’ve led and sites and efforts, you know, seems like to me, one of the big common themes has been, you know, driving change management and helping teams and individuals and organizations embrace and, and, you know, fight through change and, and get better at what they do. So let’s talk about that for a minute. What, what are a couple of best practices that you have found to be kind of timeless best practices when it comes to effective change management?
Amir Ghannad (28:26):
You know, uh, from my book in my talks that I talk about the distinction between change and transformation, right? Transformation starts with a picture of the future that you’re really excited about and looking backwards from there, you identify the changes that you need to make to make that happen, but change often kind of starts with what is wrong that I need to fix. And so sometimes if you’re only focusing on change where you’re playing whack-a-mole with your problems, and you may not ever create a transformation. So I always say every transformation involves change, but not every change amounts to a transformation. So this is the first distinction that I want to be real clear about sort of, you know, Simon Sinek talks about the why and all of this, but here’s the point if you’re going to make a change happen, the reason people resist change is, is that they don’t really see the benefits as you do.
Amir Ghannad (29:19):
Right? So, so it’s like, you know, I love chocolate, right? And nobody has to force me to eat chocolate. I’m like, if it’s there, I eat it. Right. But you know, there there’s some other things maybe, okay. I don’t love exercising. So I have to really push myself to do that. So the point is, look, how, how about we start with, why is we’re doing this? And what does it look like? Not just in the form of results, but in the form of, you know, what it’s gonna feel like to be there. And people say sometimes, you know, change takes a long time. I don’t believe that change literally takes a few seconds. What takes a long time is actually convincing ourselves and others that we actually need to make the change. Right. I mean, I changed my diet on May 4th, 1999, right. To May 5th, 1999, a drastic change in my diet and spent 21 years, I haven’t looked back yet.
Amir Ghannad (30:15):
And people are like, well, how did you do that? And I said, well, you know what? I had a compelling reason. My, my daughter was allergic to antibiotics and she was getting it into, in meat and dairy. And we said, we’re going to change our diet. And I never looked back now, you know, what, if you don’t really see a compelling reason, then it’s going to, well, geez, I don’t see myself doing that. And so for me, it’s like, look, first of all, start with a picture that really, really makes a difference for people. And secondly, help them see it, help them see what’s in it for them. And what’s in it for the broader organization. But oftentimes we try to force change upon people. And it’s just an uphill battle every time
Scott Luton (30:57):
That’s right. It reminds me of the good old with them. What’s in it for me. And you know, whether you’re being honest and, and you recognize, you’re always as humans, you’re always asking that question or if you’re being dishonest and you know, that’s not really important, it’s always important. Right? We’re all, we’re all motivated, you know, and in many different ways, but also a lot of very common ways. So excellent point there. So let’s talk about change. It’s tough to change management justice and in three days or three years, I mean, I appreciate you putting in a snippet for us. Let’s talk about societal change, you know, could you look back at, at 2020, and, and as we talked about yesterday, a bit that, you know, there’s been not to be too dramatic about it, but there’s been a, certainly a reckoning of sorts and in a good way.
Scott Luton (31:42):
Right. I think it seems like to me, and, and it’s tough to really generalize, but from our, you know, w here, our teams really tried to help serve as a facilitator for these tough conversations. And that hopefully, hopefully helps folks kind of fill in their blind spot and then empathize and, and learn how certain societal norms and, and challenges impact others. Right. And then, and really see those different journeys that different folks have. And it’s spending, you know, as Greg can attest, it’s been, it’s been tough. It’s been, it’s been tough to hear some different experiences and, and, and try to figure out where do we go from here. And so beyond the pandemic, there’s also been a lot of unrest and, and, and, and tough conversations. So what are some of your thoughts when, when you think of a phrase like social injustice or, or societal change, or, you know, you name it, what are some thoughts that come to your mind and mayor Scott on that front? I
Amir Ghannad (32:40):
Have to say, as you know, I have been in an interracial marriage for, uh, 39 years, a little over 39 years now. And we’ve lived in different places. I’ve had those experiences of kind of being a minority or being, uh, sort of, uh, considered a minority and so on. And, and, you know, I’ve experienced a lot of things that to the naked eye, you know, it may not really be, be real clear that if you have not been in that situation, [inaudible], it may not be real clear to you that, that people in that situation are actually experiencing, uh, some, uh, level of prejudice or things like that. So, you know, for, for me, when I worked in Albany, when my wife and I first moved there, uh, we found a house that we wanted to buy. And we were told that, you know, that would not be a good idea because we would not be welcome in that neighborhood.
Amir Ghannad (33:31):
And, um, when we found that out, we went ahead and bought the house, uh, that sort of solidified our resolve to, to make it happen. Cause we just didn’t feel that was right. But years later, when we were actually getting ready to leave Albany, our house was on the market. This was now a different house, but 70% of the houses went under water because there was a flood the 500 year flood, which by the way, they had another one, two years later, another 500 year flood. I don’t know how that works, but, but anyway, so during that time I saw a really beautiful thing happened in that society that was very much divided. That is that people came together and working together shoulder to shoulder. It was, it was a beautiful thing because they no longer at that moment saw each other as you know, through the lens of you’re different than me.
Amir Ghannad (34:23):
Like they saw each other as brothers and fathers there’s and mothers who are trying to sort of find shelter for their kid it’s. And it was a beautiful thing at that moment to see that we were able to set aside our differences just to kind of come together as human beings. I think sometimes we get so caught up up in our preferences, whether it’s, you know, societal kind of things or at work even, Oh, you know, you’re in maintenance, I’m in operations, those logistics people, and all this kinds of, to where we, we fail to see each other as human beings. You know, we fail to see that deep down, we all have the same needs and desires as far as human beings are concerned. And so for me, what it comes down to two is when I have my workshops and things like that, I generally don’t really talk about diversity and inclusion or anything like that.
Amir Ghannad (35:13):
But the way may I approach it, this, I show the participants, uh, you know, through the transformative conversations that we have. Uh, we begin to see that we are so much more alike than we are different. So we set aside our differences from a function perspective, race perspective, whatever else. And once that happens, then we truly begin to appreciate our differences. This is not some kind of, Oh, let’s kind of put up with this because we want to have diverse. Now it’s like, when I know that you and I are truly the same and we have similar values and principles and things like that, then I’m like, Hey Scott, you bring something to the party. I bring something to the party. You have certain preferences, let me genuinely understand where you’re coming from. And that is when we truly have that sort of, you know, a society that, that really works right now. Unfortunately we’re far from it, you know? And because we look at the world through our lens and we say, what’s wrong with these people? Why do they have it
Scott Luton (36:13):
Great point? And so let me break it up. I love how you come at this and I appreciate you sharing those experiences. And as well as, you know, some of the positive change that came out from those earliest house buying days, that’s, that’s great news to hear. And, but to your last point there, we got a lot, a lot more heavy lifting to do. And, and, you know, I wish I had personally, just personally speaking for only for myself, I wish I had a lot more answers than I do questions and, and, and including how to help drive some of the change we need that that’s undeniable, but, you know, to our listeners, I w you know, if I could just have one thing to encourage me to, you know, really conduct that personal inventory of, uh, uh, this notion of subconscious bias, because I’m a big believer, just my opinion that it exists.
Scott Luton (36:58):
And I’ve been fortunate to have people, you know, helped me uncover and help me better understand and, and, and learn. And, uh, I think hopefully I’m a better person than, and we’ve got a lot as a side, we’ve got a lot, you know, a lot more work to do so that there’s opportunity for all. And so, but Greg bringing you back in here for a minute before we go to, uh, you know, get Amir to weigh in, on other things globally global business wise, that that may be between his ears a bit, any, any comments that you’d like to add on, on, on this, this, uh, societal change aspect of the conversation?
Greg White (37:29):
Yeah, I think, I mean, of course race is in the forefront of things now. Right. But there are a lot of things that divide us. And I think just the way Amir you address that is really important. It’s too, you know, I’ve been on so many of these panels, the token white guy on, on these panels. Right. And what I’ve seen is that there is, there is a great desire among people when they interact to have to, to gain that understanding and to show that caring and that we need to recognize that even when everything around us is saying we’re divided, is that, is that the people that we deal with, whoever they are, they are very similar to us. And they want, I think in a lot of cases, they want to be understood and respected the same way any other person would. And I, I just, I guess I was just raised thinking of things that way. I mean, I’ve experienced in a different way, some of the divisions, and I think, I think a lot of us have, but the, but you know what, we have to break it down. Is that ever we’re all people. And all we really want is to be able to live our lives in a, in a productive and a satisfying way, and to be allowed and respected for doing that
Scott Luton (38:47):
Well said. Absolutely. All right. Yeah. Where we are. There’s so many things we’re talking about through this episode. And again, we don’t want to fool ourselves that we can get to the epiphany in a 10 minute segment here or there, but I, here, there’s some apps we want to put in front of you and get you to weigh in on. And I appreciate you doing that. I have to have you back on a followup episode, let’s move globally. You know, there’s so much, gosh, there’s so many business lessons and, and personal lessons to be learned in a year like 2020 when you survey, you know, the global supply chain global business environment, uh, Amir, especially one with your, your global background, which, um, is, is intriguing. I’m very jealous. What’s one topic that maybe we haven’t broached here today, that you’re tracking more than others,
Amir Ghannad (39:31):
You know, th th the value of culture and working on culture and leadership development. Look, uh, I, I know I’m biased because he was good with the hammer, sees everything is a nail. So I get that already. Right. But let me tell you, in 2011, I spoke in Chicago, you know, talking about the, uh, the story of our plant turnaround. I, I was asked if I would present this, uh, this, uh, sort of a summit, uh, with 600 people. I’d never really presented to that many people, but I had signed up to attend that session and they found out somehow, and they said, Hey, would you speak at this event? I said, okay. Yeah, sure. So I get up there and speak from the heart about the change that we made, about 13 principles that we use to actually shift our culture. And I am telling you this talk, they had 32 speakers and out of the 32 speakers, my talk was the number one.
Amir Ghannad (40:22):
I mean, the highest rated by, by now. I’m sure that had a lot to do with the fact that I am such a charismatic guy, but, but no, seriously, I know why that is. It was because out of the 32 speakers, there were only two of us talking about culture. Now I’m happy to say that. Now, when I go to summits and all of this, I, you know, I have, you know, 30, 30% of the people are talking about culture. So there is some recognition of that, but in today’s world, as we think about automation and AI and so on and so forth, uh, my message would be, let’s not fool ourselves in thinking, Oh, that culture stuff and all that is not going to be relevant. We’re automating everything. Now, first of all, all these people, they’re going to be doing something. First of all, second, the, if you have less people in your organization, it’s even more important for them to really be in tip top shape in terms of their ability to communicate and to work things out, to envision the future, to, to collaborate and things like that. So I would say that is something that could be at this point, misleading people thinking, Oh, good. I’m not so good with this culture stuff. I’m so glad it’s all going away. We’re automating everything. No, that’s not the case. It’s even more important.
Scott Luton (41:38):
Well said. And Greg, I bet you are dying to do a follow up thought there.
Greg White (41:44):
Yeah. I just think the exact point I was thinking the exact thing you said, which is as there are fewer people in an organization, the more important culture is right. I mean, a culture look, and it has to start at the top 100% of the time. I have found 100% of the time that the culture of a company comes from the, the person who is at the top of that company. They set the tone for the culture of that company, whether they do it consciously or unconsciously, intentionally, or unintentionally, they are the culture of that company because everyone frames, as you said, they’re hammer in search of a nail, everyone frames their, their understanding of, of their role in the company, based on that, uh, top level understanding. And it, it comes down and unfortunately often gets distorted as it comes down through the layers of the company. And sometimes it gets better, but more often it gets more difficult for people as you come down the ladder in a company. So you have to be very intentional as a leader to form a, a positive affirmative and an intentional culture.
Amir Ghannad (42:53):
Yeah. And that’s so important if I could just interject one quick thing on this. You know, what I learned when I was working with, for Campbell’s is that when I came in, it was like, okay, everybody was looking to me to do this leadership development for all the top leaders. And I started doing that, but then I noticed very quickly that people within the organization, frontline leaders and all those guys are like, Oh man, I’m so glad you’re here because those guys really needed a lot of help. And they were kind of waiting for their bosses to get a little smarter. So what I did was I started actually, I launched something in parallel for the rest of the leaders to say, look, while we’re working with these folks on servant leadership and they’re better skills and all this, here’s some things that you can do.
Amir Ghannad (43:30):
And this is what I call personal transformation. It’s like, recognizing that, instead of doing this, you can start with yourself. So I think there’s, you’re absolutely right. I think if the people at the top don’t get it, it’s very hard to push that Boulder up that Hill. And at the same time, I say to people, I said, look, no matter where you are in the organization, you can start a movement and, and begin to push for the right things to happen. So I think it’s so important for organizations to have a multiple multi-pronged approach if you will, to leadership development at the top. Yes. But also, uh, within, you know, in the middle, uh, leadership ranks and, and certainly on the, on the front,
Scott Luton (44:12):
Well said, speaking of things, we can’t tackle effectively in 10 minutes, culture change, but Hey, this is a, it’s been a great, such a great conversation. I mean, we’re just like, just like I knew it would be. So I appreciate your time here today. Let’s make sure that our listeners can, can find you and they cannot group. And of course the book and the podcast what’s the working folks got. Yeah.
Amir Ghannad (44:34):
Yeah. Thank you so much for that. So the Gennady group, uh, and I’m sure you’ll have the links and the notes or whatnot. Again, our group G H a N N a D a is our website. But in case you don’t remember my name, cause Gennady is not exactly memorable. And, and you’re thinking, what was that guy’s name? You can also go to, what was that guy’s name.com. And it will also bring you to my website. So that’s one website. I will mention the other ones. That’s true. That is true. Uh, that guy’s name.com and the other one is on the court leadership.com. The book is the transformative leader and we have it on our website would be glad to get in touch and, you know, let us, let me know if you want to continue the dialogue on any of these topics.
Scott Luton (45:21):
Outstanding. You lied that URL. Don’t you Greg?
Greg White (45:25):
It’s brilliant. Both of them are brilliant, actually. Yeah.
Scott Luton (45:29):
Thank you. All right. So as much as we hate to, we’re going to have to wind the conversation down at this point. Yeah. No, to our audience. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this conversation with a mirror going, not as much as I have, and I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had two of them this week with a mirror it’s been really fun, but Greg, before I wrap up and, and sign us off, what’s one thing, I’ve all the golden nuggets that Amir has dropped along the way. What’s one thing that you think folks should really circle in a red bold marker and remember,
Greg White (45:59):
Well, I think the, the thing that stood out at me immediately was the value of a varied life and a varied career of having lived in Albany, Georgia of Thailand, of Germany, Iran, Boston, you know, and everywhere in between. I think that is such a recurring theme among people who are introspective and analytical and understand the similarities and differences and celebrate both of those things among people celebrate the similarities, celebrate the differences among people because when you move a lot and I did too, as a kid, and when you move a lot, you really have no choice. And you start to see people as people whose differences you can celebrate just like their similarities, because it’s fascinating to get to know people. And, you know, I, I, I think if you think about issues in terms of people issues, instead of in terms of racial issues or cultural issues or national issues, you think of them in terms of people, issues, it’s really helpful to be more insightful and more understanding of those things. You can see when you see someone as a person, not as a black person or an Iranian person or a Southern person or, or Midwestern person. When you see them as, as just a person, then you, you start to recognize their similarities to you and you can celebrate their differences as well.
Scott Luton (47:30):
Well said, all right, Greg, what are you really trying to say? What are your really chaps? No, I’m kidding.
Greg White (47:37):
I’ll tell you what I’m really trying to say is I’m really happy to have met people from all over the world to have been all over the world, to meet people from different, just different towns. And, and I think it’s really, really valuable to do that. And I think the people who really can change things, uh, who can really understand things, they, at least they don’t have to have lived all over the world, but they have to have experienced the world as if they have right.
Scott Luton (48:05):
And they lean in to those relationships, those conversations, those events, those experiences from folks with, from different walks of life side, I was just, I was hearkening back to how we started this conversation,
Greg White (48:19):
But that’s why I went to diplomatic approach.
Scott Luton (48:22):
Yeah. Gotcha. I’m little bit slow on the uptake here, but Hey, to our audience, hopefully you’ve enjoyed this, this wide ranging conversation with the one only Amir Gennady, as much as we have, of course, as Amir mentioned, we’ll have the links to the URL and some of the resources in the show notes for after that one click making it really easy for our listeners to engage in, in, in, in these awesome guests that we have here at supply chain now. So, uh, you can also find if you lighten this conversation, you can find a lot more like email@example.com. You can subscribe for free wherever you get your podcasts from big thanks to Amir Gennady, founder, and CEO of the Gennady group. Amir. Thanks so much.
Greg White (48:59):
Thank you so much. Appreciate it. Thanks for joining us.
Scott Luton (49:02):
Thanks. And on that note, Scott Luton and Greg white on behalf of the whole team here at supply chain. Now I do good give forward and be the change, be like a mere Ghanaian. And on that note, we’ll see next time here on supply chain. Now. Thank you.
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Amir Ghannad is a frequent and highly sought-after international keynote speaker at leadership summits in the US and abroad, and the founder of The Ghannad Group, which offers speaking, workshop facilitation, executive coaching, and consulting services, focused on guiding leaders in creating extraordinary cultures that deliver breakthrough results and unprecedented fulfillment. For over 31 years, Amir led multi-functional, multi-national teams in manufacturing and Supply Chain roles in a variety of business situations in the US, Asia, and Europe with such companies as Procter and Gamble, Sunny Delight Beverages, and Campbell Soup Company. Through his private consulting practice, founded in 2015, Amir is committed to sharing what he’s learned about the leadership potential hidden within each one of us, and providing the tools with which to unleash that innate potential and thereby achieve unprecedented levels of success and fulfillment at work and in life. Amir’s greatest passion is to partner with his clients all over the world to energize and compel them to discover the Transformative Leader within them. Through his roles as an author, blogger, and the host of The Transformative Leader Podcast, Amir provides ongoing support to teams in their transformative journeys, long after his initial engagements with them, through such initiatives as his exclusive members-only forum at www.onthecourtleadership.com. Amir’s book titled The Transformative Leader, has been shipped to 30+ countries, and is available on Amazon and at www.theghannadgroup.com, where he publishes his blog posts and podcast episodes.
Greg White is principal & host at Supply Chain Now – The Voice of Supply Chain and digital media publisher – where he helps guide the company’s strategic direction, and interviews industry leaders, hosts weekly Livestreams, and is creator, executive producer & host of the TECHquila Sunrise vlog and podcast. Greg is a recognized supply chain practitioner, industry thought-leader, founder, CEO, investor, board director and advisor in B2B technology with multiple successful exits.
Prior to his current initiatives, Greg served as CEO of Curo, a field service management solution most notably used by Amazon to direct their fulfillment center deployment workforce. Previously, Greg founded Blue Ridge Solutions, and as President & CEO, led the bootstrap startup of cloud-native supply chain applications to become a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader. Greg has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC), and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder) where he pioneered cloud supply chain applications in the late nineties.
Today, rapidly-growing tech companies & venture capital, and private equity firms leverage Greg as a partner, board director and advisor for his experience building disruptive B2B technology and supply chain companies that are widely recognized as industry leaders. He’s an insightful visionary who helps companies align vision, team, market, messaging, and product to accelerate value creation. Greg guides founders, investors, and leadership teams to create breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum that increase company esteem and valuation.
Scott W. Luton is the founder & CEO of Supply Chain Now, the voice of supply chain. Supply Chain Now digital media brings together thought-leaders, influencers and practitioners to spotlight the people, technology, best practices, critical issues, and new opportunities impacting global supply chain performance today and tomorrow. Our leaders are frequently sourced to provide insights into supply chain news, technology, disruption and innovation, and rank in the top 25 on multiple industry thought-leadership lists. Supply Chain Now digital media content includes podcasts, livestreaming, vlogs, virtual events, and articles that have accumulated millions of views, plays and reads since 2017 and continue to reach a growing global audience.
Scott has worked extensively in the end-to-end Supply Chain industry for more than 15 years, appearing in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He’s also been named a top industry influencer by groups such as Thinkers360, ISCEA and others.
Having served as President of APICS Atlanta from 2009 to 2011, Scott has also served on a variety of boards and has led a number of initiatives to support the local business community & global industry. Scott is also a United States Air Force Veteran and has led a variety of efforts to give back to his fellow Veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.
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