Member Spotlight Lee Ellis
Interview with Lee Ellis, a retired Air Force colonel, discussed how his experience as a POW influenced his approach to risk-taking and decision-making in business. Lee gave advice to small business owners on how to succeed.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Yes, I grew up on a farm in North Georgia. Most of the farms in North Georgia are red dirt and not real good farms, but we didn't know that back then. I would look up and overhead and see those airplanes back during the Korean War. And I thought, yeah, that's me. I think that's where I belong. So actually within five year period, I went from being a kid in high school plow in a mule to flying a super sonic jet.
I went to University of Georgia, got in ROTC and I was a distinguished graduate. And then 53 weeks later, I got my wings as an Air Force pilot. And then I went to Southern California and checked out into F4 Fighter Bomber, which was the latest newest Air Force fighter that we had at the time.
But my orders had said when I graduated from flight school, and about half in my class said this, F4 pipeline Southeast Asia, which meant as quick as we could get combat qualified, we were headed to the war. So I got my wings in August 66, went to survival school, went through combat training, went to the Philippines, went to jungle survival. And then from there, right to Vietnam to the war.
On my 53rd mission over the north, my airplane blew up over the target and I guess we had a lot of ant aircraft artillery. It blew up and I had to take an eyeline let down. That's what we call a parachute.
I did my parachute landing fall and they captured me.
Can you tell me what lessons you've learned from that experience and how it may have helped you in your business endeavors?
Just to summarize the POW experience, the first several years were very, very hard. There was torture going on in the camps at all times and the rules were very strong. If you got caught communicating with another cell, they tried to isolate us so that we couldn't be teamwork. You know, they wanted to make you be alone.
I went to a cell with a six and a half by seven foot cell about the size of a men's bathroom and a gas station, you know, and was three other guys for the next eight months. And then I moved out to another camp and was there two years and with four guys. And in those early years, there was always some torture going on.
After being there two and a half years, they stopped the torture. We went more to living, just living day to day. You have to stay mentally resilient, you have to be connected with others. It's very difficult, much more difficult when you're alone. And when you have people that can encourage you and say, man, I'm proud of you. You, you, you're tougher than I am. And you're with people that have been there longer than you have. You know, it's hard to feel sorry for yourself when the guy over there next to you has been there a year longer than you have. And he's smiling and telling funny stories. You got to hang in there. So I think being resilient was very important and keeping a positive attitude was so important.
We just have to believe and you bounce back from setbacks. You bounce back, they torture you and you finally agree to do something and you do, you agree to do something they want.
Can you tell us how did you grew your experiences into a business?
When I first retired from the Air Force, I made a decision. I had a great career going, but I was a full colonel. I've been a full colonel for several years. I made a decision because my parents were getting older and the University of Georgia ROTC Air Force came open that I would go back to the University of Georgia and be on the faculty and run to ROTC because my parents lived 10 miles from Athens, Georgia.
So that's what I did and it turned out to be a great assignment. I spent three and a half years there and then retired. But working with those college students, I realized, well, I had to get a master's degree to go back to the University of Georgia and be on the faculty as an instructor.
You had to have a master's degree. So I went to night school as a colonel, running a large leadership school in Montgomery, Alabama.
I started coaching leaders, this was 1995, I retired in 1990 from the Air Force. Yes. So around 1995, 1996, I started doing that. Ever since 1998, I've had my own leadership consulting and training business. And this Wednesday, I'll be in San Antonio doing a half-day workshop for the 12th maintenance group in the Air Force at Randolph Air Force Base. I'm still doing leadership training, team development, coaching, and writing books and having fun.
As the CEO of your own company, what advice would you give to other small business owners looking to grow and succeed?
I think the most important thing is to, first of all, you have to be connected with people that can kind of network you around.
That's been very important. I think whether you're looking for a job or you have your own business or whatever, you got to be networked to people that need you and will help you. That's step one, step two, but especially for a small business launching, having friends in larger businesses and areas that can use your service, get you going. Secondly, is you got to hire people that have talents you don't have, people that just kind of irritate you, but they can make you look good.
I've been working with assessing human behavior for 30 something years now. And I have been very successful in the Air Force and in my business because of people that have talents I don't have. And they do things well that I need done well that I don't do well. And so having those people around and appreciating them and letting them know how valuable they are and letting them use their talents.
And I say, look, here's the deal. I think you know more about this than I do and I'm gonna trust you in it but sometimes I'm gonna challenge you on it because I don't yet understand it. And ultimately it has to be my decision. So don't feel bad when I stop and say, why are we doing that?
Let's don't do it that way. When you've told me why we ought to do it and if I make the decision to go a different way than what you want. It's not your problem. I'll be the one that causes us to fail. I own it. You've done your very best to tell me, that's probably not a good idea, but if I say yes, I wanna do it, then it's my failure if it fails.
If you look back over your very wonderful career, what accomplishments are you most proud of and why?
You know, I think it all has to come back to your purpose in life. See, in the POW camps, we had a purpose and a mission. Our purpose was to be a good airman soldier, sailor's Marines. We're gonna be good soldiers and to serve our country. That was our purpose. And our mission was to resist the mission. enemy and follow our code of conduct and return with honor.
So know your purpose. What are you there for? What do you want to do? My purpose has really been for the last 25 years, 30 years, to help people understand themselves to perform more effectively and to help others to understand how to help others grow, to help themselves grow, and to help others grow to be more effective in the workplace.
And ultimately, most of that stuff will carry at home too.
Oh, I feel that my purpose in writing books, I would have never written a book. If you told my teachers I'd written a chapter in a book, they would laugh at you. I've written six books. P.O.W. and learned to really focus during that time. But the books have been written about leadership and knowing yourself and understanding of people, how to be tough and how to be kind. Most of all, how to have good character too.
How long have you been a member of CEO Netweavers?
I joined around 2008 or 2009. So, CEO Netweavers was fairly new back then. It's a couple of years old, I think.
What do you think has been the biggest benefit of being a member for you?
I've just enjoyed being in the group and also knowing that we were doing things for the community to mentor and help younger businesspeople.
I've been on several events where we go in and provide free mentoring to a business. But for me personally, it was just great to have a connection with CEOs and CEO executive level leaders that had a lot of business experience and maturity. We could chat and visit and also good speakers, you know, I got to know Ralph De la Vega when he came and spoke there in Atlanta because he was head of a Bell, South mobility.
AT&T mobility and I got to know Ralph there and several of the speakers that came in that have Ralph has endorsed my 2016 book Engaged with Honor, a leadership book.
The other part of CEO Netweavers was you don't meet people for your benefit. You meet them and try to help them connect with somebody else. Chuck Marino introduced me to his brother out in California who was on the board for National Association of Corporate Directors, NACD.
So, Ed Marino, his brother in Southern California, who was head of NACD out there, got me to speak at NACD in Washington DC at their headquarters. I spoke to the whole convention one year at NACD. So, people in CEO Netweavers have always helped me to make connections. I've tried to help them, my friends there, to make connections too. So I think helping people make those business connections, introducing them has always been a good thing.
Your story is amazing thanks for sharing it with us.
There are always people in need; sometimes it can be difficult to know what to do. However, we can all do plenty of simple things to help others succeed. Here are three tips for paying it forward:
What is Paying It Forward and How Can You Make a Difference?
Paying it forward is a concept that encourages people to help others succeed by giving back to those that follow in their footsteps or in their community. It is about taking the time and energy to help those around you, whether it be through mentorship, volunteering, or donating money or giving your resources.
Paying it forward can make a huge difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate and can have a lasting impact on society. Businesses can also benefit from paying it forward by building relationships with their customers and employees, creating an environment of trust and loyalty.
By doing so, we can all make a difference in our communities and create an environment where everyone can succeed. Here are some tips for paying it forward:
1. Mentoring & Coaching – How to Become a Role Model for Others
Mentoring and coaching are essential skills for anyone who wants to become a role model for others. It involves providing guidance, support, and advice to help someone reach their goals. Mentoring and coaching can be used in any field or profession, from business to sports to education. By becoming a mentor or coach, you can help people develop their skills and reach their potential.
Both require patience, empathy, and understanding. It is important to remember that everyone learns differently so it is important to tailor your approach accordingly. As a mentor or coach, you should strive to create an environment of trust where the person being mentored or coached feels comfortable enough to open up about their goals and challenges.
By becoming a role model for others through mentoring and coaching, you can make a real difference in someone’s life by helping them reach their full potential.
2. Netweaving – Connecting People with Opportunities & Resources
Netweaving is a powerful tool that helps people connect with opportunities and resources. It is a process of connecting people with each other to facilitate the exchange of information, resources, and ideas. Netweaving helps individuals build relationships and networks that can be used to further their career goals or business objectives.
It also provides an opportunity for people to collaborate on projects or initiatives that can benefit them both professionally and personally. By connecting people with the right resources, netweaving can help individuals achieve their goals faster and more efficiently.
3. Sharing Knowledge & Experiences – Passing on Valuable Insights
Sharing knowledge and experiences is a great way to pass on valuable insights that can help others reach their goals. Whether it's through consulting, mentoring, or simply sharing stories and advice, passing on your knowledge can be a powerful tool for helping others succeed.
When we share our knowledge and experiences, we can create a ripple effect of positive change in the world. We can help people find solutions to their problems, gain new perspectives on life, and develop skills that will benefit them in the long run. It's an invaluable form of giving back that has the potential to make a lasting impact on those around us.
In conclusion, paying it forward is a powerful way to help others succeed in business and life. By sharing our knowledge and experiences, we can create a ripple effect of positive change that can have a lasting impact on the world.
Are you fed up with traditional networking? If you hate the idea of having to attend events, schmooze with strangers, and badger people for referrals, you’re not alone. Networking can be a time-consuming, ineffective, and often awkward process. But what if there was a better way to build trusted relationships? Enter Netweaving: the new networking. Netweaving is a relatively new concept that has been gaining traction in the business world. It's a more effective way to build relationships, share resources, and create opportunities. In this blog, we'll explain exactly what netweaving is, why it's so powerful, and how you can use it to your advantage.
Networking is arduous and can be ineffective, but netweaving offers a better way to build trusted relationships. Instead of simply collecting business cards with little follow-up, netweaving encourages you to invest in mutually beneficial relationships with peers, colleagues, and influencers. The goal is to build bridges instead of walls, and to create a strong and diverse network of contacts that can support your personal and professional growth. By taking the time to build strong relationships, you can help yourself and others build successful careers. Netweaving is a great way to make connections and develop meaningful relationships in a way that is both effective and efficient.
What is Netweaving?
The concept of Netweaving was created by Robert Littell. Littell (also a founding member of CEO Netweavers) explained that netweavers don’t tend to get all wound up in the networking activities, instead, they try to create a limited number of relationships that generate positive results, not just a bunch of contacts and networks.
The new way to network: Netweaving and here are some key components.
Netweaving is a form of relationship building that emphasizes the importance of helping others and creating a mutually beneficial network.
It is based on the idea of giving before taking, as you focus on building strong connections with people you can trust.
Netweaving differs from networking because it encourages you to build highly leveraged business connections within trusted circles.
Why it matters:
It's generally better to have a few close relationships than hundreds of weak connections. It improves communication and allows partners to maximize their strengths.
What is the difference between networking and netweaving?
Networking and netweaving are two distinct approaches to building relationships. Networking involves collecting contacts and exchanging business cards, while netweaving is a more intentional process of developing meaningful relationships.
Netweaving encourages you to invest in mutually beneficial relationships with peers, colleagues, and influencers instead of just passing out business cards. It is based on the idea of giving before taking, as you focus on building strong connections with people you can trust. Netweaving is an effective and efficient way to make connections and develop relationships that can help you and others build successful careers.
While both are technically forms of relationship building, netweaving puts others first. You can help yourself by helping others! That’s why netweaving is such a powerful strategy.
How does netweaving allow you to help others achieve their goals?
Netweaving allows you to help others achieve their goals and objectives by utilizing your knowledge, resources, and connections. When you commit to helping others, you build trust and earn the right to ask for help in the future. It’s a win-win. Here are some examples of to get started with netweaving.
It takes discipline to build and maintain high-performing networks.
An inflection point is a turning point int the growth or development of a business, where significant changes or progress occur. If you find yourself at an inflection point, it is critical that you take action quickly. In fact, acting quickly can be the difference between success and failure. Here are a few signs that your business may be at an inflection point.
Overall, it is important to be attuned to changes in your business and the market to identify potential inflection points and take appropriate action to move your business forward. Taking decisive action can help you capitalize on new opportunities, while failing to act can cause you to miss out on potential growth. It's also important to stay ahead of competitors who may be eyeing the same opportunity. Acting allows you to seize the moment and gain a competitive advantage.
We offer mentorship to business who are at an Infection Point. Learn more here.
A few interesting trends have emerged in the workforce, and Generation Z is shouldering the lion's share of the blame. The trends are around how employees show up in the workplace and how they leave. The specific trends that we are discussing are "Quiet Quitting" and Quick Quitting," and blaming these trends on any one generation is unfair. In this blog, we'll take a closer look at what they are and how you can use mentoring to stop them.
On the surface, "quiet quitting" refers to employees who only do the work they are paid for and nothing more. This can lead to problems in the workplace because it can create a feeling of apathy among employees and make it difficult for managers to motivate them. Additionally, quiet quitting can also result in lower quality work and less productivity overall.
Generation Z gets often gets blamed for quite quitting. One potential reason for the blame is that Gen Z may likely only complete the work they are paid for without putting in any extra effort. This could be due to a greater focus on work-life balance or a desire to avoid burnout. Additionally, Gen Zers may feel less loyal to their employer than previous generations, so they set clear boundaries between their work life and home life.
Blaming Gen Z for this trend is not fair. The trend of quiet quitting may actually be a symptom of a more significant issue. If managers can identify and address the root causes of the problem, then they may be able to prevent quiet quitting from happening in the future.
The trend of quick quitting refers to workers who abruptly leave their jobs without any warning. The workforce has changed. In the past, employees would wait a few years for employers to get it right, but those days seem to be gone. Now, workers are looking for opportunities when they find them.
In the case of quick quitting, it can be challenging to determine the root cause. However, several factors can play a role. One reason could be a lack of opportunity or satisfaction at work. If an employee feels stuck in a dead-end job, they may decide to quit as quickly as possible to find something more fulfilling.
Another reason could be stressors at home or work. Employees who are constantly stressed out by their work or family life may decide to quit as quickly as possible to get some peace and quiet. Employees could feel disconnected from the company's culture or that they don't belong. If this is the case, it may be challenging to encourage them to come back.
Mentoring can help
Mentoring can be essential for retaining employees. Mentors can provide support and encouragement to their mentees. They can also challenge the mentee's thoughts and beliefs about work. This helps to increase the chances that the mentee will continue working at their current job instead of quitting altogether.
Mentoring can help to bridge the gap between generations and create a more collaborative workforce. This is because mentors are typically older and have more experience than mentees. As a result, they can provide guidance and advice that is both practical and relevant.
Mentoring can also help young professionals build confidence. Mentors can help their mentees learn how to handle difficult situations and develop critical thinking skills. This will ultimately make them better suited for future job opportunities.
For several reasons, using mentorship to avoid quiet or quick quitting is a good idea. Mentorship can:
1. Help new employees feel more confident and supported
2. Encourage employees to share their ideas and feedback
3. Promote employee skill growth and career potential
4. Develop a sense of ownership and responsibility
As you can see, there are many benefits to mentorship. If implemented correctly, it can improve work satisfaction and retention. Make sure to find mentors and mentees that fit well together.
Mentoring relationships are essential for both mentees and mentors. They provide guidance, support, and accountability, which can help individuals progress in their careers and businesses. Mentoring can be a formal or informal process, but it is always based on mutual respect and trust. To be successful, both parties must be committed to the relationship and open to communication.
There are many benefits to having a successful mentoring relationship, including gaining invaluable experience and insight from a more experienced individual, developing a stronger professional network, and receiving guidance and support in your career development.
Mentoring can also be incredibly rewarding for both parties involved, as it allows the mentor to share their knowledge and expertise with someone who is eager to learn.
Here are some additional steps you can take to ensure you have a great mentoring relationship.
Establish Clear Expectations from the Start
It is important that both the mentor and mentee are clear about what is expected from the relationship from the beginning. This can help set realistic expectations and prevent misunderstandings down the road. Some things that could be discussed are how often you will meet, what topics will be covered, and what the goals of the mentorship are. By having this discussion early on, it can help ensure that both parties are getting the most out of the relationship.
Be Flexible and Patient with Your Mentee
To have a successful mentoring relationship, you must be flexible and patient with your mentee. This means being open to their needs and wants and being able to adjust your own expectations accordingly. It is also important to remember that everyone learns at their own pace, so do not try to push your mentee too hard or expect them to progress too quickly.
Listen Carefully to Your Mentee
It is important to listen carefully to your mentee. By doing so, you will be able to better understand their goals and how you can help them achieve those goals. Additionally, listening carefully will allow you to build trust and rapport with your mentee, which are essential components of a successful mentoring relationship.
Offer Feedback Constructively
Mentoring relationships are built on trust and communication; therefore, you should offer feedback constructively. This means that you should help the person you are mentoring by giving them specific and positive feedback that will help them improve. You should also avoid giving criticism that is negative or vague.
Share Personal Thoughts and Experiences
Share your personal thoughts and experiences with your mentee. This allows them to see how you have applied the concepts you are teaching in a real-world setting and can help them better understand the material. Additionally, it helps build trust and rapport between the mentor and mentee, which is critical for a successful relationship.
Mentoring relationships are essential for both mentees and mentors. By following the key tips in this blog, you can create a successful relationship that will benefit both parties.
CEO Netweavers offers many ways to mentor rising business leaders. Learn more about our mentorship opportunities here.
Business leaders, especially entrepreneurs, are passionate about their businesses. In most cases, they build a successful company based on passion and drive. But when it comes time to scale, they often struggle. Every business will face the question of how to scale. For most companies, it means doing something different, and that’s where mentors come in.
What is a mentor?
A mentor is a trusted guide or teacher. Someone who has “been there, done that.” They can help you navigate challenges and opportunities based on their past experiences.
Good mentors don’t just give advice. They also hold you accountable to those tips and tricks they've taught you. Mentors will challenge you to do things they know will benefit the business, even if it’s not fun or doesn’t make sense in the short term. They keep you focused on the big picture.
Why is mentorship important?
When starting or growing a business, there are many decisions to make. Involving a mentor reduces your risk and increases the odds of making the right choices.
They offer a different vantage point and different level of experience than you have. Diversity of thought from someone who is there to challenge you is different than those you may already have on your team.
A good mentor will be willing to share information with you without the need to pull the wool over your eyes. It should be an honest and open relationship.
Here are some additional benefits of mentorship:
Enhance Mentoring With Netweaving
Most mentors view the relationship with a protégé or mentee as a one-on-one situation. We beleive that adding in netweaving exponentially increases the value.
Introduce the protege to your network. Help them learn how to be of service and pay it forward when meeting others and also grow their own web of influence. This fresh approach to mentorship will improve the impact for everyone involved. This is helpful if the mentee wants something that is beyond the ken of the mentor but also can give them another perspective on the same issue.
CEO Netweaver members add value to their mentoring by modeling and teaching about netweaving. We believe this to be at the heart of developing trusted relationships and supports one of our core values, "Building Bridges Of Trust".
What do we mean?
How to implement netweaving while mentoring effectively:
1. Ask the protege what obstacles they are facing that they could use more help with
2. Offer to introduce them to one or more people in your own network who have solutions or ideas in this area
3. If they agree, then set up a meeting that you can attend and facilitate as well, either online or in person
4. The goal of this meeting is both to help with the introduction but also to use it as a teaching opportunity for the protege on how to netweave. Additionally, it will help you grow closer with your own connection
Having resources that are independent of one’s job is a fabulous helper. Receiving mentorship from a colleague can be good but it can also be difficult because the colleague may have a dual alliance to the company as well as the protege. A third-party mentor is there only to help the protege. By connecting someone with more independent contacts and showing them how to connect without being salesy you will help them professionally even more than good one on one support provides.
By incorporating netweaving into mentoring it will deepen the relationship and radically increase the impact and value provided.
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