#158-Leading Life With Karl Bobo
John (Intro): I have been on a quest to learn everything I can about leadership obsessed with what makes the best leaders so good. After running companies small and large for the last 20 years, today I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name is John Laurito and I’m your host. I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this topic: What makes the best leaders so good? Welcome to Tomorrow’s Leader.
John: Hey, they’re tomorrow’s leaders, so today on this show, I’ve got Karl Bobo, who I’ve only met over the last few months, and just what a magnetic guy this is a guy you just love. And he has extensive leadership experience, super successful leader in the financial services industry. But prior to that, sold businesses. I mean, this is just a guy that’s living life the right way, leading life the right way, and super balanced guy. You know, I love multidimensional people. This guy has it all put together and it all figured out, including raising kids, marriage, everything. I mean, love his answers. I love their conversation. So without any further ado, here’s Karl Bobo.
John: All right. Welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dive deep on all things leader-related, related to leading yourself and leading others. I’m John Laurito, your host, and I’m here with a great guest, somebody I’m really excited to share with you, with the audience. I know. I was just telling him we got an audience cover in the map all over geographically and also in different roles of life. I’ve got Karl Bobo here, who’s the most recent addition to Lincoln investment as the regional vice president in the West. He is a leader extraordinaire, done phenomenal things in his career. So, Karl, welcome to the show.
Karl: Thank you, John, I appreciate you having me. Just looking forward to conversing with you.
John: You got it. Well, that’s what I love doing, just chatting about stuff and life and leadership, because ultimately, everybody in this world is a leader, their leader of themselves. Some are formal leaders and leaders of other people, informal leaders, leaders, leaders of other people as well. So I’d love to just you know, maybe you can just you’ve been a leader for so many years. You’ve had so much ability to impact people. What do you find to be like that sweet spot, the most gratifying part of what you’ve done?
Karl: Well, you know, to me, leadership boils down to one word, John, and it’s influenced, you know, there’s a lot of different things that we could talk about that to me fall up under that. But the bottom line is leadership is influenced. You know, you have the ability to influence others. I remember very early in my career in financial services, every month we used to have an offsite meeting where the branch manager would take all of the district managers, whole leadership team to his house. He had this huge mansion and Weddington, North Carolina, and he would take us over to his house and we would just have an outside sit around some shorts and golf shirt on and kind of a comfortable environment.
Karl: But it was an all-day meeting and lunch. And he would know, we really covered a lot of ground. And I remember one time during that particular meeting, you know, we’re sitting on
couches, recliners and everything relaxed. At the end of the meeting. He asked me to stick around with him for a minute, and I did. And he wanted to talk to me about myself. And I was the new one on the block. I was the newest one to the leadership team. He had people on his team that had been working with him in leadership for ten, 12 years. But he wanted to talk to me about it.
Karl: And I asked him, you know, what’s going on? And he said he wants to talk to me about my demeanor. And I said, what do you mean? And he said, Well, Karl, I know you. He said we’re in a very relaxed environment. And he says, you have a photographic memory. He says so you can lay back on the couch to put your head back and close your eyes. And I know you’re taking everything in and you could recite everything that I just said. And I said, yeah, he said, but the other guys in the room can do that. And he said, when they see you laying back with your head back in, just in a relaxed memo, he said, I don’t think that you realize the type of influence that you have on everybody else in the world.
Karl: And that really stuck with me and made me realize something that I’ve always felt that I was a leader, people always had mentioned I had leadership qualities, but that one hit me pretty hard because it was just one that I said is the newest one on the team, I actually thought I would have to be the less influential. And what he was trying to tell me is that even though I was the newest one on the team that I had quickly elevated to being the most influential on the team and that kinda stuck with me, it made me really make sure how I carried myself in all aspects of life, because then I could really see the importance of leadership and influence.
John: That’s pretty amazing. That’s first of all, it’s great that he gave you that feedback because it’s one of those things that you wouldn’t know unless somebody shared that with you. And he’s right, without a doubt. And a couple of questions I’m going to ask you. One, just out of interest, you have a photographic memory that’s pretty impressive.
Karl: Yeah, I don’t know where it came from. Wow. But it’s just I’ve always relied on my mind and it’s just been I can just remember things very well. Well, and just this side of me. And I didn’t have to take detailed notes. I’m better at it now. I took quite a bit of note now because I just said you can’t remember everything. Yeah, but I have been fortunate and blessed enough that I’ve had a good name.
John: So I remember in school they did this test to see if you had a photographic memory and they showed you a picture which was an overhead picture of a parking lot filled with cars. And you looked at it and had to look out for like 30 seconds. And then if you could then after that, go back and count the number of cars you had, a photographic memory. Is that something you have taken that test and can you do that?
Karl: I haven’t taken that one, but I have taken some others that were similar to that. And yes.
John: Wow. Yeah, that’s impressive. I wish there was some way to clone that and to do something. So I would love to have that. But let me ask you quite this is going to be a tough question because it’s a question I get asked a lot about influence. And I agree. I think leadership no doubt its influence. But a lot of people are asking, how do I expand my
influence? How do I increase my level of influence? What’s your thought on that? How does somebody do that and grow their influence?
Karl: Well, I mean, yeah, I think it goes back to, you know, showing that you care about others. I mean, you know, there’s that old saying, you know, people don’t care how much, you know until they know how much you care. You know, when people really find out that you actually care. I mean, I was fortunate enough the other day to actually interview a lady who actually worked with you that, you know, participated in some of your coachings. And I could just see through her conversation into her eyes that her excitement, that you made an impact on her life, not simply just being a coach, but being a professional who actually cared about the next chapter in her life.
Karl: And I think that’s what it’s about. I mean, once people know that we’re not just stamped with a rubber stamp, we’re not just making statements. But no, we actually care because people will then expand your influence on you. You know, it’s not something that you have to do on your own. I mean, so if you do a good job and that’s one of the things I always tell advisers, you know, our business is helping people. And it’s a simple business. Can you influence one person to introduce you to another person? Yeah, very simple. Yeah. And we keep it simple like that. I think people would understand.
John: That’s a great point. And it’s interesting because people, you know, you can’t fake caring about people. You know, there are some leaders that said, OK, well, how do I show people that I care about them? And my answer is like, you can’t just put on an act and pretend like you, you know, there’s not a script that you say or, hey, do these three steps and then people are going to believe that you care. You either do or you don’t. And then inevitably, people that really are more self-centered and don’t care or don’t care to a high degree, it comes out. It’s going to come out in something they say, something you do. Nonverbal body language is a whole bunch of different ways that can come out. So the real key is saying, you know what, you know, what’s your motivation? Why are you a leader? Is it just to, you know, build up a bigger net worth?
John: Or is it the end result of a byproduct of what you are really passionate about? And that’s helping other people become better versions of themselves and lead organizations or whatever the case maybe? Did you have certain leaders that just had this great influence on you or was there one person in your life that had a significant amount of influence that you look at as your mentor, the one that really kind of shaped you the most?
Karl: Yeah, I believe it is in the financial services industry, and his name was Mark Holtan, he was a guy who was actually from West Virginia, but he was not the smartest person in the world. He was not that. But he had the one skill that I saw very quickly. And it was people skills that he literally went out of his way to make people feel important. And I thought that was just a very, very good trait. And it was something that I wanted to adopt into my life because, you know, I’ve always cared about people, but it’s the little things, you know, people have a tendency to say, you know, if you just spend one moment and look them in the eye. And shake their hand and say something kind to you will be pleasantly surprised how much that could mean to that particular person, that might be the only kind word that they receive that whole day.
Karl: That might be the only time somebody has actually looked them in the eye. You know, I’ve read different things about great leaders in our world and people who are impressed about simplicity, little simple things that don’t. The 10 seconds you talk to me or she talk to me, made me feel like I was the most important person in the world during those 10 seconds. And that was. So those are things that I’ve tried to, you know, kind of adapt to my life.
John: Yeah, that’s a great, great trait. And let me know if it’s a skill set. It’s a trait. It’s something that you do. And some people do it just very naturally. And I know when I’m talking, I’ve got a great you know, one of my best friends. When I talk to him, it’s so much he’s so inquisitive and asking me about me. It’s hard for me to even get in a question about, hey, what’s going on in your life? Because he’s so interested. And it’s one of the things that makes me love him so much. And we don’t have enough people in our lives, and especially in a career, you know, whether it’s financial services or technology or, you know, biotech or medicine, medical industry.
John: You’ve got so much stress in life and in business that just that moment where somebody takes such an interest in you and makes you feel important, I mean, that 10 seconds could shape their whole week or their whole life in some cases. You know, you’ve got conversations that people have had that have had this massive ripple effect in their life. And that’s to me what’s really cool about leadership or just I think that’s people skills that.
Karl: Yes. I have to agree with you. Yeah.
John: So you’ve what I love about you is you’ve got a really you’re a really balanced person. You’ve got a great ability to lead in business and you have an incredible track record that would and read. You were there 17 years, I think you said yes. And you were really one of, if not the top leaders there consistently across the country, which is really, really difficult to do even once, let alone consistently. But you’ve also led your life really well. I know you’re a big family guy and you have such a really cool perspective. And you and I were talking about this earlier about you and your wife. And you’ve had such a successful marriage. What you want to share with the audience, your perspective on what keeps that going, and what you learned about marriage.
Karl: Yeah, it goes back to something that my dad I can’t take full credit for, but I take this from what my dad taught me years ago when I was newly married and just trying to learn what marriage was all about. And I approached him one day and just asked him, you know, how is it that he and my mom had been together for so many years? How do you stay married to the same woman, you know, for all of these years? And they’ve been married for over 65 years. And he said, son, it’s not easy. And I kind of looked at him and he said, look, he’s talking about my mom now and he said, no, every day you get up, you have to forget what happened yesterday. And you have to start all over trying to please this woman today said, you know, too many people live off the past, they live off what they did yesterday and a year ago.
Karl: And he said but he said if we wake up every day and I try to please her, she tries to please me, then we both are ultimately satisfied. So something that I took to my wife and we talked about it. And now when everybody asks us, you know, how long we’ve been married, we just say one day and we really do. We have missed multiple anniversaries. Because we
really don’t focus on that. I mean, I don’t buy my wife a Mother’s Day present. I don’t buy her a Christmas gift. I don’t buy her Valentine’s flowers. And it’s not because, you know, I’m a cheapskate now. It’s because I buy her flowers throughout the year just for no reason. You know, I think mothers need to be appreciated more than one day a year.
Karl: So I try to make sure that my sons may show appreciation more often than not. And, you know, Christmas, we just stopped giving Christmas gifts years ago because we just said, you know, why are we doing this? Let’s find a single mother somewhere and then we would donate to that particular family the funds that we would use for ourselves. So it’s just something that we’ve just made a part of who we are. And it’s kind of now ingrained in our DNA and it’s just how our life is. But every day I wake up and it’s a new day and I kiss her good morning and say, let’s start all over again. And we do the same thing and it’s worked well for us. So we don’t have arguments and grudges and that kind of stuff, because every day as it’s a new day and it’s a honeymoon.
John: Yeah, well, you got a lot of wives and mothers that are listening that are going to be sharing this episode with their husbands and their sons in an effort to get flowers throughout the year. But I love that perspective. Do you think that is kind of how you operate in life as well? I mean, that whole concept of forgetting the past and you goes you got a lot of people out there that get stuck on things in their past or events that happened or just a bad day or a bad situation. Do you find that that philosophy and how you and your wife are married, does that kind of permeate to other parts of your life? Do you tend to be focused on today and moving forward?
Karl: Yes. I mean, I’m kind of the sports guy as well. And you know, I did play football growing up and stuff like that. And even in sports, you have to have a short-term memory, you know, because you got to get ready to play the next play. And if you’re really frustrated about the previous play, it’s going to impact what you’re doing right now. I love leadership. And I remember years ago because I’m a sports fan, I read a quote from Wayne Gretzky. You know Wayne was, you know, considered to be the greatest hockey player of all time. And people have made a comment and say, well, wait, what makes you so great? And he says everybody else skates to where the puck is. I escaped to where the puck is going. And to me, that’s a sign of leadership right there and it’s a sign of life. You know, we’ve got to you can’t look back. We’ve got to skate to where the puck is going. Not to skate toward the puck is by the time you get there, it’s gone.
Karl: You know, so I’m always looking forward. I’m always thinking ahead. I’m always thinking into the future many times and maybe to a fault, because my wife, she said, you’re always thinking. And I’m like, yes. I mean, what else am I going to do? But I think, you know, yesterday is gone. There’s nothing we can do to change what actually happened yesterday. Yeah. You know, the only thing that we can focus on is right now, this particular moment, and what’s coming before us. So that’s where my focus is, always is.
John: And that’s such a great lesson. And honestly, it’s, I think, one of the most important things and you’ve made a great example. They’re professional athletes. You see that all the time. It always amazes me. And whether you’re seeing, you know, a baseball player that makes an error in the field. And but somehow the really great ones and the pros are, you know, categorically great, great players. They just shake it off. They have this event. It
always made me wonder, how do they do that? It looks like you can see the camera flash on the right afterward and it looks like they never made an error. You can’t tell on their face, you know, rarely or golf. You know, we saw the PGA Championship this weekend and, you know, you see golfers that, you know, collapse or have a really bad hole, double bogey, triple
bogey. And somehow they still you know, it doesn’t really you can’t see it physically and, you know, mentally, they’re able to get past that. So that, I think it is a really critical thing for people, and especially in not only business but in life, to be able to move past something and be forward thinking or be, you know, living in the moment there.
Karl: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I agree.
John: So what about in terms of the things that are going on now? You know, you’ve got and this has kind of ties into this, you know, for those people who might be listening or watching this at some future date, we’re now right at the end of May, we’re coming out of covid. What are the last year and a half done, do you think, and or changed leadership? And what is that? What parts are more important now or traits or skills or less important, has it changed? And if so, how?
Karl: You know, I think the pandemic kind of helped put things in perspective for everyone, you know, what’s important in life? I mean, you know, we were all sleeves rolled up. We were all entrenched in working and working long hours and just doing a lot of things. But and many times I think people took family for granted, they took relationships for granted. They took, you know, those things for granted because they were so caught up in so many other things and watch you start turning on the news every day and you start seeing the death count and all of this stuff going on. I think it kind of shook the world up a little bit and made us realize that there are more important things to life and we need to kind of slow down a little bit and enjoy relationships. And I think as Americans, you know, we used to be a country that was real people oriented.
Karl: And I think we kind of got off track a little bit and became more just, you know, work is driven and a little bit more selfish. And it’s more about me and what I can accomplish. And I think that the pandemic threat and all that stuff just kind of reset the clock a little bit and make people say, wait a minute, there’s more to life and let’s make sure that we treat people with respect. Sure. You take some time to say hello to people and realize that, you know, we’re not existing on our own. You know, that there is a higher power, higher authority or something out there that is in control because we don’t know when we’re when our time is going to happen and it’s going to be up.
John: Well, it’s interesting, too. And I mean, funny thing, this morning I went to the gym and my gym that I go to every morning just lifted the mask requirement. So for the last, you know, year, everybody’s been working out full time with the mask on. It’s not like just when you’re, you know, moving around. So you really forget how the interaction is so different when people have masks. You know, what I noticed is no one is just seeing their eyes and you’re kind of developing a relationship with them based on just because you see the same people in there every single day. And so you get to know people and you say, hello, are you not ahead based on their eyes?
John: And it’s funny, this morning was the first time I saw some of these people that I have known for the last year. I had no idea what they look like. I didn’t know other than their eyes.
So now seen without a mask, there were a couple of big observations. One is the shock factor of, wow, I almost didn’t recognize certain people. I’m like, are you Tyler? Or, you know. Right. Because you’re so used to seeing them on the mask. So I think there’s a little bit of adjustment there. But the second thing is that people almost forget that they’ve not used facial expressions as much. They’ve not smiled willingly enough because they’ve been hiding behind the mask. And it’s a little bit of an adjustment getting back out there into the normal world without having to wear a mask and now interacting. I don’t know. For me, I’m excited about that. Now being able to smile at somebody in the store versus just walking past them and not even having, you know, any facial expression.
Karl: Exactly. Now, that’s pretty crazy. And we’ve gotten a taste of what other countries have been going through for years. Yeah. And we have been fortunate, you know, in America that we haven’t had to experience some of the things that other countries have had to go through. But now we kind of see it. And I guess this whole mass thing has been a tremendous change for everyone that everybody has had to adjust to. And now coming out from under it. Oh, it is a welcome relief.
John: Yeah, exactly. So you’ve got three sons. I know. And you’ve got a great family culture there. What do you as a dad, how do you lead your kids through this? I mean, this is such a weird, unique time. How are you influencing or impacting them? And, you know, what are maybe some of the things that have helped you kind of keep them on the right track, so to speak, versus, you know, maybe what we’ve seen happen sometimes with some people in this time?
Karl: Well, I try to remind them that, you know, and that’s a great question, John. But, you know, tough times don’t last. But tough people do. You know, and I want to and I’ve sat down with each of them individually as well as collectively, that, you know, the true test of a person, whether it’s a man, woman or a child, is is not when things are going right. It’s easy to do good things. When things are going right, it’s easy to smile when everything is going well in your life. It’s easy to be nice when you’ve got things going well in your life and you’ve got money in the back of the true character. I want someone is really identifies with us because when things get bad, how do you respond to those times? And I just said, listen, we’re all in this right now. We’re all in this together.
Karl: It’s a global situation, but at the same time. Where you’re still going to have an influence that you’re not challenged. All three of my sons to be leaders have always said, I want you to be a leader. We have been blessed with this. This is a curse in many ways. My last name is Bobo. We’ll be out and about. I said I said sounds people are going to remember you with that last name one way or the other. And it’s up to you to determine how they’re going to be remembered. So because you have that last name, you know, I think you want people to have a positive remembrance of you. And we’ve just kind of charted our life that way to make sure that we just try to do the right thing. And that’s not saying that any of us are perfect or anything of that nature. But we live every day consciously trying to make sure that we walked the walk and not just talk, that’s all.
John: Yeah, well, that and that’s so important. You know, the people learn so much by what you do and what they see you do and how you act and how you promote your emotional state. And they are taking their own kind of steps on their own, you know, creating their own
kind of rhythm, so to speak, based on your influence as a parent. That’s important to realize. I know a lot of parents struggle with that. They’re like, you know, I don’t know how much do I insert myself into my kid’s way of thinking and whatnot versus just step back and let them do their own thing? Or how much do I involve myself in trying to shape and develop them? And, you know, it sounds like you’ve had you’ve taken some really specific, deliberate steps to try to put them, you know, make sure that they’re thinking the right way about things and
developing the right way, you know, without a doubt.
Karl: Well, you know, years ago, my wife and I were talking and I told her, I said, you know, if we really think about it, children are the only nonpermanent part of a marital relationship. I said, honey, we’re supposed to stay together. I said, but they grow up and they move out and they go on in their life I say. So in many ways, they’re an assignment for us. They’ve been given to us and they’re an assignment. And our job is to raise them up and send them back into society to be good citizens and the world that we live in. And I said in order for us to do that, we have to interject ourselves into their lives when we see some things that they’re doing wrong or saying some things that they’re doing or hear them saying some things that are all we’ve got to interject in there and kind of let them know what we thought, what we think.
Karl: You know, my job is not to be your friend. My job is to be your dad now. Now, I think in the course of being their dad, we have become good friends. Hmm. But they understood that my job all along was to be their dad. We had a lot of fun when I was growing up with them, but they know I was pretty firm with my expectations. And again, I never asked for perfection, but I want you to be the best that you can be. And each of you is different. And I know. And my wife knows. We know you well. We know what you’re capable of doing and just be the best that you can be.
John: That’s excellent. Love that. Love it. Absolutely love it. Well, I know we’re running short on time. I could talk to you for hours. And this has been, I know, super valuable for people to just understand your perspective on leadership and life and family. What you’ve got a lot of people out there that are kind of feeling maybe stuck, which I think I’ve heard from many people. It’s like I don’t even know what to do. I feel like, you know, this last, you know, maybe years kind of put me in a weird place. And I don’t know what I need to do really to kind of get myself unstuck. I know I’m throwing that out. You kind of out of the right-field there. But what any advice you give to somebody like that who feels in that position and how to get things moving in the right direction for them?
Karl: Well, I’m proud of saying one or two things, one, you’ve already mentioned it this morning that you already have done that you got up and you went to the gym. You know, it’s something about moving and exercising and getting that blood flowing that I think kind of helps us to get us out of that rut. And the second thing that I would say is I happen to be talking to the gentleman right now. And that’s you, John. People reach out to someone like yourself because this is your professional, you can give someone an honest outside perspective on their life.
Karl: You’re going to tell people the truth about what they need to hear to get back on track. So I think if exercising or just getting movement means just getting out of the house environment and getting back out there, that doesn’t do it. If they feel that they just can’t get
out of Iraq, then I think they should reach out to someone like you. And I think by doing that, they’ll be pleasantly surprised how well that someone, a professional like you, can get them out of that rut that they’re in and back into society where they can be active and having fun all over again.
John: Great advice. Well, I couldn’t agree more. I think that getting yourself physically in shape and feeling good and taking care of your body and your health and also taking care of your mind, and part of that is reaching out to people around you that can they can help and share perspective and also not be emotional because we’re all obviously our emotions are tied into ourselves. And what we’re doing, somebody with that outside perspective can be hugely beneficial. I’ve always found value in that, too. So great advice. Excellent, my friend. Well, I’ve loved this and I know this is going to be a popular episode. So maybe down the road, we’ll do a part two and, you know, pick up on all the other stuff that I love to talk to you about.
Karl: Oh, I’d love it any time I can sit down and have an opportunity to talk with you. It’s always beneficial to me if I learn more talking to you than you probably get talking to me. So I appreciate it.
John: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. Excellent. Well, thanks, everybody, for tuning in today. We’re here with Karl Bobo, the newest VP for Lincoln Investment in the West. Great, great career as a leader, great family man, great leader of life in general. So, as always, make sure you give the thumbs up, like, subscribe, share this episode as well as go down below, give a five-star review. Always appreciate your comments as well as your ideas and future guests and topics for now. Have a great one. Thanks for joining everybody. Take care.
John (Closing): Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader. For suggestions, or inquiries, about having me at your next event, or personal coaching, reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org Once again, that’s email@example.com. Thanks! Lead on!