My Great Aunt EDNA

Mac McNeil, Senior VP Operations, Community Reinvestment Fund

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Mac is a highly accomplished leader with a diverse background in military intelligence, business, and financial management. After joining the army at 17, Mac quickly rose through the ranks and became a respected expert in psychological operations and human behavior. He then applied this knowledge to the business world, where he excelled for over two decades. 

Mac has held key positions at some of the most prestigious financial institutions in the world, including Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase. At Bank of America, he managed 100 financial centers and led a team of 600, earning the #1 rank in the Division (representing 2000 branches) in overall customer service for the Bank of America. At JP Morgan Chase, he became a top 1% performer and helped 10 of his branch managers achieve similar success out of 6000 branches. Currently, Mac serves as the Senior Vice President of Operations for the Community Reinvestment Fund, USA. He holds a master’s degree in business administration and Doctorate (ABD) in Management and Organizational Leadership. Mac is a sought-after speaker who has inspired and educated over 200,000 leaders around the world. 

He was also on the Board of a multi-billion dollar non-profit, Feeding America in California. Mac's ground-breaking book, "My Great Aunt EDNA - The Golden Girl of Leadership", is a widely acclaimed roadmap for leaders to lead with excellence, do things right, take no shortcuts, and become accountable.

Mac McNeil is an accomplished leader with a diverse background in military, intelligence, business, and financial management. He joined the army at 17 and quickly rose through the ranks. He's held key Positions at some prestigious financial institutions, including Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase. His transition from the military to the business world was difficult but taught him about the spirit of excellence.  Mac’s leadership platform, My Great Aunt EDNA stands for Excellence, Doing Things the Right Way, No Shortcuts, & Accountability.

Talking Points:

{01:38} Mac’s journey

{05:00} Transitioning out of the military

{08:00} Studying human behavior

{09:30} People who pushed Mac through his journey

{15:10} What led Mac to write My Great Aunt EDNA

{21:15} How to hold a leader accountable

{25:30} How to implement EDNA into your team

Welcome to the Talent Empowerment Podcast, where we support your purpose and your purpose-driven transformation and share the stories of great CEOs, great founders, great entrepreneurs, and leaders of all backgrounds. So, you can borrow their vision, their tools, and their tactics to lift up your organization, your teams, and your community. I am your host, Tom Finn, and on the show today we have Mac McNeil, Mac, welcome to the show.

Tom. Thank you, Sir. I appreciate it. I'm excited about being here.

Well, Mac, we are excited about hearing your story and hearing the great things that you're doing in business and in literature. And if you haven’t had a chance to meet Mac yet, let me just introduce you to this great human.

He's an accomplished leader with a diverse background in military, intelligence, business, and financial management. He joined the army at 17 and quickly rose through the ranks. Becoming a respected expert in psychological operations and human behavior- This is one of my favorite topics. --He's held key Positions at some prestigious financial institutions, including Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase.

And he's got a groundbreaking Book that's about to hit the stores. My great aunt Edna, the golden girl of leadership, is widely acclaimed as a road map for leaders to lead with excellence and do things the right way. Take no shortcuts and really become accountable. He's currently serving as the SVP for the Community Reinvestment Fund. That's his current job. But he does a lot.

So, we're going to get to a lot of different components of Mac’s life. I got to start with this one Mac. That's a deep, rich history here. What are some of the choices you've made that sort of make you?

Who you are today? Man, Loaded question. I've made some good choices and some bad choices, and they've all led me to where I am right now, but you know, for the sake of the show, I think I'll focus on a couple of good ones.

The first one you know takes me back to my army days when I was 17. You talked a little bit about that, but learning about the spirit of excellence and operating with them that, you know, just tells a quick story. I was in Korea, and I was putting up at a tactical operations center and one of my sergeants just started yelling at me. You know me and a couple of other privates and I didn't understand why, you know, we were following directions doing what are were supposed to do? You know, putting the talk up based on the instructions, but later on, he had a coaching session with me, and he taught me about the spirit of excellence and that the spirit of excellence is how you do something. It's not what you're doing. You know, you were saying you guys were doing what we asked, and you were following directions, but it's how you were doing it. And we were, you know, lackadaisical, joking around, you know, just playing, having fun.

But I learned about the spirit of excellence very early and I decided that I would take that with me. And it has been with me all the way throughout. You know, my military career and my civilian career as well and help me get to where I am today. And the other thing that I say is a decision. What I made was actually listening to my mother, but I didn't do it early. So, you know, I want to be honest about that.

It's probably in my 30s and you know, past my military career. And she kept saying you should go into banking. And I was thinking, what the hell, you know, I'm not going into banking that didn't even fit my persona at the time. Right. But she was absolutely correct when I finished my MBA. I was recruited by JP Morgan Chase and ended up going into banking and it projected me to where I am right now. So, you know, listening to my mother is probably the other best decision I've made.

Well, we should all listen to our mothers. That's a public service announcement for all the moms out there.

All the moms out there? Yeah, it's not even mother’s day.

You got to listen to your mom. From time to time. It may take you till you're 30 to get there, but that's OK, too. So, you start in the military and then mom gets you into banking. Was that always the goal? Did you always want to go into the military name and then do something in the business world?

Well, the military, yes, banking, and the business world were not a goal, but the military. You know, my father was in the army. I grew up in it and you know, I went to high school and elementary school in Germany. So, you know, I was already ingrained into the military culture.

So, when I was 16 years old, I joined my mom and signed for me, but I couldn't go in until I was. 17 right after high school and. Went right in. So that was a goal and a plan. Initially, I thought it was going to be a career, you know, but I did four years, four exciting years. And decided to try something else. Do something different. And I really didn't know what I wanted to do. I tried several different things. I was in sales, and I worked at a hospital and as an outpatient, you know, got into some leadership roles in retail. And the business world, again, you know, just going to school after the military. My mom's advice actually led me to where I am right now, but it wasn't. It wasn't a plan all along.

You know, it's funny. I have so many friends that have been in the military and come out of the military. Was that transition as difficult for you as it is for many of the folks that I know?

Absolutely, it's difficult for everyone. And then I don't care who you are, it's a difficult transition. It's just two different worlds. But for me, I had a couple of extra pieces there that made it even more difficult for me.

One I was in military intelligence and then I ended up in the Special Operations Command. You know that wasn't a plan, but you know, I did that for a couple of years and it's completely different from anything in the civilian world unless you're talking about the GS level... You know something that's parallel to it. And I was only 21 when I got out.

So, you know, here I am with the top-secret clearance, a 21-year-old black male and I go back to Memphis, TN. And again, no one in Memphis is used to a 21-year-old black male with those kinds of credentials, and they don't understand how to place you. And so, I had trouble, you know, just getting into the work world. They look at you like, you know, dear in the headlights. Like what? What are you talking about? Is this an actual resume? Did you make this up?

So that was a difficult transition for me, and I think it took me about four years to actually get some foot and some grounding under me when I went back to school and just took a different approach, a completely different approach and that helped me. When I got grounded back into college.

Yeah, I think this is a really important story because, for those of you that are listening out there, we all go through different components of our life and different challenges based on who we are and where we come from, and where we live, and what our languages are etcetera. And this is a pretty big one, right coming out of the military. And then with all that clearance and all of that sophistication, right, and you're feeling, I would imagine you're feeling confident.

I would.

You know, you know, for lack of a better term, you're Billy ****** coming out of this thing, right? And now people are looking at you like you're a regular Joe, and that's an adjustment In and of itself.

Extremely, yeah.

And I think that's a message for entrepreneurs out there. You got to constantly reinvent and reestablish yourself, right? Because it didn't matter after that. Now I would imagine that you've taken all those skills and that's what's made you so successful. It's a part of who you are, but maybe it wasn't seen by others when you were 22 or 23.

No, that was good. And I want to go back to your statement about entrepreneurship and just reinventing yourself, you know, not only did I have to do that coming out of the military, but even when I got into banking, you know, I found myself having to do that as well. Throughout my career, you know, you do certain things or different things within the banking, and you constantly evolve and reinvent yourself. If you don't do that, I don't care if you're an entrepreneur or you know, you're trying to climb that corporate ladder or whatever it is. If you don't constantly get involved, you will die. It's the point of life. It's the point of reality that we're designed to evolve. And if you're not evolving, whatever you're doing will die.

So, I know in your background you've got this interest in human behavior. So where did that come from?

So, the interest was always there. Just curious about when I was in the military again, I was in military intelligence, but when I went to Fort Bragg, I ended up in psychological operations and the Special Operations Command. And you know, that's all about the study of human behavior.  The point of that unit is to figure out ways to end the war faster than conventional warfare, and so to do that, you have to know your enemy inside and out, and you have to use everything you know about that individual or that entity to help you do that. And so that's where it really started as a science for me to think through that.

But I've carried it through into leadership as well and it's helped me with individual leadership. And then I've LED large teams as well. But understanding the psychological components of you know who I'm dealing with has helped me progress faster or influence faster, and that really came from the military.

Yeah, that's terrifying.

I don’t know if I want to sit in front of you, Matt, because I feel like. You're going to. Analyze me and you're going to, you know. Be able to know everything I'm thinking right away.

No, it really only happens nowadays when I drink seriously, the more I drink, I can't stop it. It just happens. I started reading people and I hate it.

Oh man, that's so funny. So, when you think about that transition and you're at work. A world where was? There are some people that trained and influenced you along the way that gave you the confidence to kind of keep pushing forward.

Oh, absolutely man. And I write about this in the book, but three people in particular, two were women and one was a male. I'm trying to say they were all at JP Morgan Chase. I had to think about that, but absolutely both in helping me continue to move forward, and also understanding what evolution needed to occur at what point in time.

As you know what needed to happen to me and my particular role to get to that next level, they absolutely helped me, and I give them credit for it. I couldn't have done it with. About them, you know, I'll mention their names right now. You know Barb Tripp, Maria Garcia, and Pablo Sanchez. Absolutely instrumental and getting to where I am Right now.

Now yeah, shout out to Barb, Maria, and Pablo. Well done, my friends. Yeah, a lot of love being. Thrown around there I look. Nobody gets to where they want to get in a corporate environment. Without having some friends like that that can help educate you on politics, perhaps the organizational structure, who the power players are, and if you're in big corporate USA or big corporate global, you understand that.

For those entrepreneurs that have never been in that environment, they might not Get it. So, help us understand what that looks and feels like when these three people help you. What is that? What are they actually talking to you about?

So first of all, it was the observation, I'll start with there. It was me observing them because I like their person. I like their leadership style. I liked their career and success stories. And it's the same thing in entrepreneurship.

You know, you can look at people that you want to emulate, and you study them a little bit, right? But then I had the opportunity to get to know them on an individual personal level, and that's where the impact actually happens. Where you truly get to know someone and it's not that facade. You know, everybody has some facade, some kind of face they're putting on.

But when you actually get to know them intimately, that private time that's away from that corporate life, and know their pains and their struggles, they find out the same about you and then they start sharing the real deal. This is really what you have to do because you're going to, you're going to experience this. That's what's helped me with all three of them that I can think about.

I can think about certain instances when that moment happened where, you know, we weren't friends and I have this thing about being friends with your employees or your team. It's very dangerous, so I wouldn't say we were friends, but we were very friendly to the point where they let me into their personal lives and then they helped me, you know, by sharing their story and then giving me bits of advice.

Yeah, all right. Well, we got to double-click on this one bro, I mean. You just said I have this thing about being friends with people I work with essentially is what you said, and studies would say that those with a best friend at work typically have a longer tenure within an organization. So, tell me where your philosophy comes from and what you have with your guard up a little bit.

No, I agree with the statement that it does help with tenure. When you have a friend at work. The problem is when that friend becomes your boss or is your Boss, yeah. Because what I just talked about are those very direct conversations that need to happen, like when you tell someone truthfully, you know what's going to help them, sometimes it's not always positive and the words are received differently from a friend. They really are. And you, you can say the exact same thing to someone else that's on your team that's not your friend. And they're going to receive that. Coaching differently and actually utilizing it to make themselves better. Your friend a lot of times takes that in because you have that relationship with them, and it hits them in their soul, and I don't necessarily understand what they need to correct to move forward or what gave you that impression about them.

And so, I have this thing about being friends and what I mean by being friends. I mean, it's those intimate relationships. You take vacations together, you know, their kids, their kids know you. Those kinds of situations, but friendly like I'm friendly with thousands. I've led thousands of people and I've had several happy hours and Fun times and jokes and laughs in the office. And that's, you know, very friendly. And I like to have fun at work. But, you know, don't invite me to your kid’s birthday party because I'm not coming because I'm your boss and when we cross that line now, there's a barrier that's created, not necessarily between me to you, but there's a barrier that's created that my words will not have the same impact now.

Yeah, I follow you, and I remember a situation. It was probably a decade ago, and I had just had my first child. Not me personally, you get the idea, and one of the guys on my team who was an absolute rock star, and a great human came to me and said, “Hey, bud, do you know that you're a total train? Wreck like you need to get some sleep and you're not making any sense on these calls. And we can tell you're exhausted. And you know, I just need to hear it from me.” And he was a friend. Right. And you'll never forget that. Shout out to Josh Miller, who was a great friend at that moment and said to me, you got to get it together because you know you're not sleeping right through the night. And it's showing up at work for everybody to see. So, I appreciate that. I always like it when people give me feedback, right, because you sometimes just don't know, Mac.

Yeah, it's true.

And you gotta have those great people in your life that point you in the right direction. So, you mentioned it. Just, just quickly there and you said in my book I talk about, so talk to me about your book, and let's sort of unpack the reasons as to why you wrote it.

So, backtrack to 2014. So, I was an executive in Southern California. As a matter of fact, for Bank of America. And someone asked me, and I hadn't really thought about it before, but I was successful. Chase and I, you know, started to have some success. And they said what makes you a Successful leader and you know, I thought about it for you know, maybe 10/15 seconds. And I said excellence doing things the right way, no shortcuts and. 20 and someone goes, hey, that spells Edna and I said, hey, I have a great Aunt Edna. You know, it was kind of a funny thing at the moment, but what happened was my team and I had sixty financial centers under me at the time.

They took this thing, and they personified it, and so I would go into the financial center’s visits and there'd be pictures of my great aunt Edna in the break room, they'd have the acronym there, Excellence doing things the right way, no shortcuts, and accountability. And it became the culture and how all of the leaders let you know, you know, they talk to their employees. Hey, you know Edna would say that you're supposed to be doing this or this and that, and it became a thing, and it followed me, you know, from Bank of America to Synchrony. And now to the Community Reinvestment Fund.

And someone suggested that I start a newsletter. And I did. Started the newsletter and it turned into this book and you know I invited other leaders to participate and tell some stories. And it became a platform. Now I want to go into all the great details right here on this show. But you know, you know this podcast, there are newsletters, there are all kinds of things with my great aunt Edna. And so, the book is really setting the foundation. Of what's to come with this platform and getting it out to the world.

Thank you for taking the time to write it and coming up with Such a fun Phrase, right? I mean that's it. Sticks migrate on Edna, we get it. And it’s E D N A for those of you listening. So, let's go through this just kind of 1 at a time. Give us just a couple of bullet points under each because I think that will help all the listeners kind of frame this up so that they can take something away from this podcast today, which is let's start with excellence. What does that actually mean to you?

So, the first thing is excellence is not perfection and people confuse it very quickly they think that you're talking about perfection and it's not, it's in the how again, going back to my army days, you know the spirit of excellence is and the how you approach things and how you do things. And if you do that consistently, you know your outcomes are typically better when they are better than if you hadn't approached it with the spirit of excellence.

The second piece is that You know when you do start with the spirit of excellence, expect opposition. That's, you know, it is a spirit. And so, every spirit has an opposition. It is the opposite. And so, when you, when you are in environments where that hasn't existed before and you start to create that spirit of excellence, the team is starting to get it, expect opposition because it will come.

And then that's just leadership. Preparation. You know it's coming and then around, no shortcuts. It sounds self-explanatory, but there are several ways and again. Remember, this is really focused on leadership, and there are several ways that leaders can take shortcuts or attempt to take Shortcuts and lead their teams. One way is trying to follow a blueprint that someone else laid before you got there. You know, there was a blueprint. It worked. And so, the leader just tried to step in. Hey, we'll do it the same way and then they expect the same results. You don't get the same results and you don't understand why. It's because that blueprint wasn't written for you, and so there aren't even shortcuts to success. Like you have to do it yourself. Take the long route, the good, the bad, and the ugly and all of those things are very similar to the first question you asked me about my decisions, all of those things help you get to where you want to go, ultimately doing things the right way.

Once something has been prescribed and it's kind of tied into, no shortcuts as well, but something has been prescribed as the way to do things, then that's the way that we're doing it. But while we're doing it, we're also doing it with the spirit of excellence, looking for ways to constantly improve, right? Because doing things the right way is not always doing the right things, doing the right things changes. Sometimes we need to Do something else. But we always approach it by doing it the right way and then.

The last piece of my brain on that is accountability and accountability. You know, it's really like a three-way St. It's not a two-way St. You know, there's personal accountability holding yourself accountable. There's accountability from the leader to the team and then the team to a leader like, you know the leader understands that. They're also going to be held accountable for the things that they say or the tone that they set or the culture in which they say they're operating in all of this is inclusive of Edna.

And what I've noticed, you know, you know when I roll this out into multiple teams, is that when the team actually gets it? It becomes a living thing where the team will drive it. The leader won't have to drive it. I've seen it so many times.

And that's what they say in sports too, right? About great teams, the head coach is really just there to help call a couple of plays. But the team, and the leaders on the team within the group setting are the ones setting the tone, right? We would use that in sports as we talk about this, I think. You know, as we think about E D N A, I mean the thing that jumps off the page to me is accountability. Because I always start with the end in mind and accountability for me, when you're in any team or organization or my goodness, just in your family setting or even with some friends that you're accountable for your own behaviors, you're accountable for how you interact with People, you said it in a beautiful way. That leader is accountable for their behavior too. And sometimes they forget.

That, yes, yes, they do.

So how do you talk to a leader that isn't holding themselves accountable? What are you? What do you actually say so you don't get fired?

I like the last point so you don't get fired because there are some things I probably would say if I didn't have that hanging over my head. But really, I go back to setting expectations, so I do this with every single team, every single year and I usually do it in January, but we have an expectations meeting and I'll have it as a team and we all talk about expectations and I give the team the opportunity to question the expectations because again, we need to be on the same page. Right.

And so, as a team and then the one-on-one conversations around expectations, I meet with every single one of the leaders that work for me, and we talk. What are the expectations that you have of me then I give them my expectations as well.

And so, when we get to that point of accountability, I take them back to that conversation. And ironically, I just had to do this last week with one of my leaders. But I had to take this leader back to the conversation we had and remind them of what they said to me around, you know, some things that they said they were going to do. And then they weren't actually holding themselves accountable. But I let them know that I'm absolutely holding you accountable. And these are the things that we need to change.

But it has to go back to that expectation conversation because if you don't have expectations, you really don't have anything to be held accountable for. You know, it's personal expectations. You know, just to make it personal about your own life. If you say you're going to work out, you know, for three months and you're not working out for three months, why are you upset with yourself after three months? It's because you set an expectation for yourself that you didn't keep, so it goes back to the expectation.

Yeah, I talked to a guy who's an athletics director at a major university, and he said that managing teams is all about expectation management, that the entire process is built on having those conversations upfront, just like you said, Mac, because having those conversations upfront allows you to set the tone and get buy-in. It's a two-way conversation. Here's what I'm thinking. Do you agree? And once we're done with that conversation, we both agree that these are the expectations. Once that is put in place, as you said, it is so easy to hold. People were accountable because we agreed to what the expectations were.

Yes, we did.

And coming back to it in terms of, hey, we both agreed to this and you're not holding up your end of the bargain. I would imagine you would take that feedback pretty well if they came to you and said, hey Mac, we have these expectations, and you're not holding up your end of the bargain.

Well, they do, and I appreciate it when they do. My team does that. I wouldn't say weekly, but probably at least monthly, someone reminds me of something I either said or you know. A team goal like they do that often, but that also helps me know that my grade on that is taking root as they get it now. They're holding me accountable, and they understand that when I hold them accountable, it's not anything personal. It's what we said we need to do in that spirit of excellence.

Yeah, I. Love the great Aunt Edna model, and so the book is coming out soon.

Yeah, March 27.

March 27th, we're recording a week ahead of that. So, by the time this hits the airwaves, the book will be available for folks to go check out. Buy it. I imagine it'll be available on some platforms that we're familiar with.

So, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Walmart, Apple Books, and Goodreads. So on and so forth. So pretty much everywhere books are available, and it's in hardcover, paperback, eBook, and audiobook.

OK, Not in cursive, not handwritten in cursive.

No, I think I stopped writing in cursive in the 4th grade.

Though that's.

I don't even know if I remember how.

Well, the people have a lot of options to go check out my great Aunt Edna. I was thinking about a couple of takeaways for my team, and I wanted to put something in play this week and I wanted to do something different. How do I introduce this concept? I've never done it before; I've never used this framework and nobody's ready for it. What do I do to kind of just start that process with my team?

Very, very, very good question. I think you're the first person to ask me this question, and I would say start out with the spirit of excellence. And that's the core of everything within my grade on that. And it's that spirit of excellence. It's that North star that you point back to, going back to the agreement. You know, first of all, everyone has to understand and agree on what that spirit is for that team. Like how? Because again, it's talking about how we do things.

So, what does that mean? You know, defining the “how” and whatever you're talking about. It could be. I'll use a report as an example. Like we're doing a report, right? So, within the spirit of excellence, we want to make sure that the report is in a proper format. We want to make sure that we have absolutely no grammatical errors.

So how do we, you know, work to do that if someone's writing it who is not a specialist in that, we want to make sure that all of the stakeholders that are going to be impacted are aware of this before it happens. And so how do we make sure that that kind of thing?

So, starting out with the spirit of excellence and getting that once you start with the spirit of excellence and it starts to seep into your team like, then you can start focusing on doing things the right way. No shortcuts and accountability, but it all starts with that spirit of excellence.

Yeah, I Love the starting point because it gives you a really easy entry into the conversation with the team and you don't have to get too cute with this. You can just say it as it is, right? You can be pretty matter-of-fact in your delivery, I would imagine. Is that the way you would approach it?

Yeah, and I do, but I also help with what I call the opposite or the counter spirit of excellence is mediocrity, and most people can point out what mediocrity is. They just haven't had the opportunity to do so.

And so, you start with that, like, let's, let's talk about it as a team, like how we've been doing things with the mediocre. Spirit and you allow them to speak, they'll tell you. Like, hey, we don't do this well or we just kind of you know take the back Rd. for this and that, and then OK great. Now how can we do this same task in the spirit of excellence and your matter of fact as you just said like just boom, you know this is what.

We need to do that. Yeah, I like that, acknowledging mediocrity in the workplace inspires a conversation. Because it just feels like to me, certainly in large organizations that I've worked in. There's a lot.

That yes.

There's a lot of mediocrity. There are a lot of people collecting paychecks, biting time, stacking 401K's so that at some point they can retire and live the life they always wanted to live, which personally and for those that listen to the show, often that's not the way I roll.

You know, purpose-driven lives and finding your purpose and driving towards that is what makes life fun. So, shout out to those of you that are sitting in jobs you hate. Please don't do that anymore. Go work for Mac, for goodness’ sake if you need to, or start your own thing.

Yeah, yeah, absolutely, man. And you're so right. I always say that there are millions of people who go home every day and mediocrity doesn’t bother them at all. They sleep well at night, and that's when I talked about the opposition. Those are the ones that, when the spirit of excellence shows up, that opposition will show up because you're messing up their comfort zone.

Look and some people will step up and say, you know what, you're right. I was just waiting for a leader like this to give me a little bit of a kick and other people will dig their heels in and fight you and speak badly about you and tell you it's not going to work and speak behind your back… that is the risk. When do you start to play this game right?

Have you read my book already?

I have not read your book yet.

Think you're reading?

I might. Have lived parts of it.

I think that's what it is, man.

Yeah, right. So, talk to me about that, right, because that's the fear that. A leader will have by saying. OK, Mack, I get it. Conceptually, we got to stop the mediocrity in my organization. I'm a division leader, VP, director, run a region, run a team, whatever. And if I start using this type of language, I'm going to fire some people up. They're going to be people throwing some darts my way as well. So how do you mitigate that?

Politically, yep.

So, one and again, going back to expecting it to happen. So, you have to expect that it's going to happen as soon as you start to create the spirit of excellence in your environment and we're talking about the corporate environment. It doesn't matter what environment we're talking about right now. It's always the same. But how do you mitigate that? Is that your plan on losing people up front? Like, if you're going to instill my great aunt Edna into your organization, whatever it is in your personal life. You're going to lose and you're going to gain. That's with everything in life, you know, especially when we're talking about entrepreneurship, right, you're going to lose something and you're going to gain something. The important thing is that you gain more than you lose, right?

So, you're going to lose some knowledge base and it happens in organizations where someone doesn't agree with what's being done now versus what used to be done and they leave and they're taking a little bit of knowledge with them. But what you bring in and you start to hire and look for that spirit of excellence and the people that you bring into the organization that fit that culture. And what you will realize is that that team goes far beyond what you ever imagined. And I've experienced that so many times. I have so many great stories to tell where I really get teared up when I think about the teams and what they accomplished because it's so far beyond what I planned for them to do. But it's because I lost some. And I gained a whole lot and what we gained took us further than anything we could have done previously.

Tell us more about that, Mac.

Yeah, I'm trying to say without calling out a few names here. But you know, when I was with an organization, I will just say it, JP Morgan Chase, you know, coming into the situation where I'm the new leader, you know, the other leaders, the branch managers have been there for a while. The bankers had been there for a while and some of them 20-plus years, and this isn't about tenure at all. But you know, I had that situation, and it was a newly built district.

And so, we're piecing this thing together, to begin with, the organization is growing and I'm opening a new brand. And I lost some leaders that again had a lot of institutional knowledge that they took with them and of course some of the team that worked for them, they left as well. And I started to hire, and I didn't hire for banking and that's historically what we had done. We went and we looked for other Bankers, I started to hire for personality and grit and it's exactly what you're talking about, people that had a purpose.

I've had people that would sit in front of me during an interview process. And tell me you know, hey, you know, I don't have any banking experience, but you know, I really want to show my child, you know, something different in life. And I'm a single mother and I could actually do this. And, you know, I heard that kind of story. And I'm like, that's what I want. I need that right? I can teach you banking so that you have grit. You have the spirit of excellence, and you have a purpose, right?

There's a reason why you want to do it. And we started to create this team and was in the Temecula area and we created a team. It was so funny. When I think about it, man, I hired a UFC guy, a guy who was a UFC fighter who had no banking experience at all. And during the interview his ears were swollen, you know, he had just had a fight like the previous night or something like that. It's hilarious. And I brought him on.

We created a team that was so good that the team finished its national performance. I don't even remember how many, you know, districts we had… we were competing against it, but I ended up going on a trip to the Bahamas. With a couple of the managers and the leaders, some of the bankers were either number one in California or number one in the nation, and it was that spirit of excellence that I'm talking about and hiring and looking for that versus looking for that institutional knowledge. I lost some of that, but what I gained was so much more and that team.

We still talk about that. We're still very, you know, I'm friends with him now because I'm not their boss, but. You know it was a time that was special for all of us that we still talk about. You know it was that. You know, you kind of think about, like, Golden State. You know, their first run, you know, in basketball, you know that magical moment. That's what it felt like, and it was a team of individuals who normally wouldn't be sitting in JP Morgan Chase. But because I was their boss, they were.

Look, there is a massive story behind this and you're just peeling back a couple of layers of the onion for those of you thinking about this and saying, did he really hire a UFC fighter to be in banking? The answer is yes. He sure as heck did. And here's why.

The reason why is exactly what Max said. You're looking for people that play the game at a high level. You can teach them everything else, but if they're good people and they're purpose-driven and they're focused on excellence, you can teach them the nuts and bolts. That's the easy part. We can all learn things, and if we’re willing to learn, right? If they're learners, if they're lifelong learners. They're going to pick it up so fast.

And the glue that Mac just explained is now you have the culture. You have the core team culture all rowing in the same direction, so that loss of knowledge, the new people just find smarter and better ways to do it. They don't do it the old way because they don't know the old way. They find a better way to do it, and that culture breeds success and it breeds promotion for people and those people go on to do the same thing that Mac just did for other teams where they're the Mac, right? And they're hiring different people from different backgrounds, different cultures, languages, single moms, UFC fighters don’t matter. Hiring the right people is what I heard.

You say that's exactly right. Exactly right.

Look, I, I got to tell you, I can't wait to get my hands on this book. It sounds fantastic and the principles that you are talking through are all the right things to be thinking about as business leaders.

So, encourage everybody to go out. Check it out. But we'll put everything in the show notes so that you can check out Mac as well. Mac people are going to want to get in touch with you and check you out and follow you, and get engaged. How would they go? About doing that.

Yeah. So first of all, you can reach me via e-mail at And as far as social media is concerned, there's LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook, and it's all my great Aunt Edna.

So, you can find me there. And again, there's a YouTube show. That's my great Aunt Edna as well. So just. Google my great aunt EDNA on that, and you'll see my face in multiple ways. All of that.

Oh, I love it, man. I love the work that you're doing. Thank you for taking the time to write this book. Taking the time to really think through what the steps are for people, and I think what I'm hearing is we want to replicate this in lots of different organizations so that we're all starting to behave in this manner.

Yes, Sir. That's the idea, you know, to get this leadership platform out. And really, I want people to think. I want leaders to think about stopping things. That's the point of this book. You know, it's not a how-to guide. Because it's going to be different for everyone and you know it's not a three-step five step there. There are no steps, but I really want leaders to stop and think and that's typically what happens in the newsletters that I write, leaders respond to me like, wow, I hadn't stopped to think about it this way, but I have to, you know, rethink my approach to things. And that's what I really want.

Yeah, beautifully said. Mac and I can't thank you enough for joining the Talent empowerment podcast to Share your story with all the listeners. Appreciate you.

Now, thank you, Tom. I appreciate you having me, man.

And thank you for joining the Talent Empowerment Podcast, my friends. I hope you transform your business by placing humans at the center, leveraging technology at speed, and enabling innovation at scale. The new book by Mac McNeil is coming out soon. My great aunt Edna, and we'll see you in the next episode. Take care, everybody.

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