What is Your Legacy? How Would You Like to be Remembered?

I love to highlight CIO members from my CIO Innovation Community. In my short conversation sequence with Floyd Matsuda, Chief Information Risk Officer at SDFCU, we discuss the role of a mentor and the impact mentors have had in his life.

Through these stories you will learn how mentors have impacted him as a World Class Technology leader and it will make you think about your own mentors and how you can influence those around you who are looking for role models. I know you will love this because – if you strive to reach your highest potential you will need a mentor who has gone before you.

This is another great conversation with a member of my CIO Innovation Forum community. This group provides an important source for CIOs and IT leaders to get together, communicate, and dive deep into common concerns and challenges they face in their organizations every day. They learn how to flex different muscles in their thinking and recognize leadership and innovation opportunities.

To learn more about innovative defense strategies or in attending a CIO Innovation Forum lunch, email defenseinnovation@redzonetech.net

A full transcript of my conversation with Floyd can be found below.

Bill:       What about mentors? Have you had any mentors through the years that you’ve found particularly helpful, or books, or human beings that you talk to regularly? Who have you leveraged through the years?

Floyd:   I’ve had at least two mentors in the past, and what they both have in common is that they were patient with me. They would add wisdom to things that I overlooked. I will give you one example.

I was very proud of one of my team. They were able to turn around a request, I’ll just make it generic, a request from one of our key users. This was not here, but somewhere else, but I bragged about what that user had done, because I was very proud of that person. My mentor saw my email and he just said, “Well, you just raised the expectation just one level higher. Now that’s the new normal.” At first, I thought he threw cold water into my face, but I realized he didn’t. What he said was absolutely true.

The lesson I learned from that, the takeaway, was meet expectations but don’t necessarily try to exceed them. Only exceed expectations when the users demand it, and then that now becomes the new normal.

Bill:       I misinterpreted that. I was thinking that you praised that end user for meeting the expectation, and that raised the bar for the whole team and that you were going to celebrate the win for that. I misinterpreted that.

Floyd:   Right, right. That person really did an outstanding job, and now that’s the new normal from that moment on. You want to meet expectations – and you can exceed expectations, only when you’re ready. You know you’re ready when you have the infrastructure, when you have the training for your staff, when you give them the tools that they need to excel, then you can raise expectations and now that becomes the new normal, and that’s what you want to do continuously. But, you don’t want to do an exceptional base raising the bar because now you put everybody on your team at risk of not being able to achieve that goal. Those were the very subtle things I learned from my mentors and they were patient enough with me to share that.

Floyd:   The other mentor… Once we were having breakfast after a 24-hour conclusion of a project. We were moving data centers and we were both tired, so we were having breakfast and he said to me, “We were successful because of two things, we had management support and we had the right people on our team.” I’ve found that one statement that he made to be absolutely true in all the successful things I’ve done since then. I’ve always had those two ingredients, management support and had the right people involved.

Bill:       And that made all the difference in the world.

Floyd:   Made all the difference in the world, yes.

Bill:       Does it matter if that support comes internally, with partners, or a combination of both? Or, is it just the overall team?

Floyd:   Overall team. It can be a mix of internal employees, it could be vendors, it could be consultants, anyone. That’s your team. If you’ve got the right people, the right level of commitment and management support, you can be successful.

Bill:        If you were looking back at the start of where you are now, 2012, right, or roughly around then?

Floyd:   I started here in 2005, but I became CIO in 2012.

Bill:       We can actually go back as far as you’d like within that time. If you could look back, if you could start at 2005, or start at 2012, what would you do differently? It’s an unfair question, for sure, but now that you have the wisdom and that experience, what would you do differently if you had to start again? Obviously, there’s going to be a lot of people listening to this so it’s partially for them. Some may be starting, restarting or taking on to remember things that they need to make sure things are lined up. So, how would you approach your restart if you were to go back into 2005 and start over again?

Floyd:   I would restart by saying, people are important. You tend to hear that in many books and articles and different venues, that people are important, and that’s absolutely true. I knew that many years ago, that people are important. But I didn’t realize back then how really important they are. For example, I sometimes tell people that many, many years from now when we’re all in a nursing home or retired IT professionals, we’re going to be telling stories of what we did in the past. Very few… it would be very challenging for me to think of a project that I did with clarity, but I will remember people that I worked with – people I admired and respected a great deal. I’ll remember them with great clarity, because of who they are.

People are important, so my role as CIO and CIRO, is really to identify people who are the young Bill Murphys, the young Floyd Matsuda, and encourage them and mentor them. Whether they solicit that or not, it’s important to just provide input for them so that they will succeed, so that they will have everything they need to succeed.

There was this manager at GE. I met him very briefly once when we were at an offsite meeting with a vendor, oh, I’m sorry, with a customer. We spent a couple of days together and we got to know one another. I respected him quite a bit based on that one encounter. But then, maybe two or three years later, I was reading an employee newsletter and there were articles and quotes from many, many employees of what they will remember about their careers at GE, the best things that happened to them while they were at GE. I knew some of those people that were in this newsletter; and as I was reading this article, I read the name Dennis Chan. I said, oh good, now I’m going to find out from his perspective, what he considered was his greatest contribution.

I still remember this, he said that, “I helped many people in their careers at GE, gave them the encouragement, gave them direction, gave them the thumbs up for what they’d done, gave them feedback and input in their projects. But basically, being a mentor and helping people in their careers. I thought, wow, that’s the most unusual response in this newsletter from anyone. Then, I thought, wow, that sounds like Dennis Chan and I’m going to remember that, because if he’s saying this, at his point of his career, that’s something that I want to remember.

Bill:       You’re right, it can be an overused word, “people are important.” A lot of people, it’s almost cliché; however, when you break it down it gets more interesting. When you breakdown what that means to people, because when people say that, it’s like saying someone’s nice. You’ve got to really dig deeper to find out what does that mean, “nice?”

The way I’m understanding what you’re saying is that means encouraging and mentoring others so they can succeed. What does encouragement and mentorship mean from your context? Does that mean identification of people? Does it mean once they’re here, meeting with them quarterly or having group meetings? What does that mean to you, for encouragement and mentorship?

Floyd:   It means that it’s really meeting the needs of people. People have different needs. Some people need feedback and they solicit feedback, so for those people you just provide feedback for them on a continuous basis. Some people are very sensitive to criticism, so you need to be aware of that and provide input in such a way that can help them without them hearing those critical words that might set them back. So, it’s really to identify what they’re doing right, what they’re doing that’s good, and always encourage them to think of the big picture. It’s not so much of meeting the needs of, and requirements of one customer, you should do that. It’s also from a big picture point of view, how do you meet their needs, and what’s best for the organization you’re working for, to meet the needs of their customers.

My role here, my biggest contribution to this credit union will be preparing the next CIRO who’s going to be stepping into my shoes. I don’t know who that is yet, but whoever that person will be… it could be several who fill my role, and I want to make sure they’re all capable and ready to do that. That’s going to be my biggest contribution.

Bill:       Biggest legacy, contribution. Back to the things that you would do differently, knowing your wisdom here at this point in time, would you apply those people concepts earlier? Would you, because you have this new insight, would it just be more resonant and you would be more emphatic about it? What would it be like for you if you were starting over again?

Floyd:   It would be from the get-go.

Bill:       Thank you Floyd.

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My CIO Innovation Forum group provides an important source for CIOs and IT leaders to get together, communicate, and dive deep into common concerns and challenges they face in their organizations every day. They learn how to flex different muscles in their thinking and recognize leadership and innovation opportunities.

To learn more about innovative defense strategies or in attending a CIO Innovation Forum lunch, email defenseinnovation@redzonetech.net