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Dave Rosenberg

Insights From an NHPA All-Industry Conference Keynote Speaker

The NHPA All-Industry Conference is live in Las Vegas Oct. 21-23 at the newly renovated Las Vegas Convention Center. The conference is co-located with the National Hardware Show, and it serves as a key opportunity for educational presentations, industry-specific panel discussions and opportunities to learn how to improve your business at the show.

The first keynote speaker is former fighter pilot and tactical leadership expert Dave Rosenberg. In the 25 years since leaving the Navy, Dave has owned and operated multiple companies before starting his consulting firm, Locked On Leadership, which specializes in developing self-directed, high-performance teams. He says his biggest challenge as a naval officer didn’t come in the cockpit of his F-14, but rather as a leader of people. It was under the pressures of combat where he grasped how the right words at the right time can inspire and motivate people.

Learn more about Dave here and attend his keynote, “The Secret to Self-Directed Teams,” on Thursday, Oct. 21 at 10 a.m. at the NHPA All-Industry Conference. Click here to learn more and register for the show.

KEYNOTE

The Secret to Self-Directed Teams
Presenter: Dave Rosenberg, Founder, Locked On Leadership
You’re dealing with a complex employment market. Most of your people are only going through the paces without helping you improve. Meanwhile, you can’t seem to attract the talent you need or hold on to the talent you have, limiting your ability to grow and thrive. The good news is that it’s not you or them. In this session, you will discover the secret that will enable you to transform your team into the team everyone wants to join: A team of self-starters who work well without close supervision, resolve issues before they become problems and consistently crush company goals.

What have you missed most about live events that you’re looking forward to experiencing again at the NHPA All-Industry Conference and National Hardware Show?
The energy, the people, everything about being in-person. I love connecting with new people and discovering all we have in common. I’m constantly amazed by how we can grow up thousands of miles apart, in different ages and from different cultures, and yet we can always find things we have in common. Shows like this one allow us to create new relationships that always enrich our lives and frequently help our businesses.

What’s one thing retailers will take away from your presentation that can change the way they see their business?
I don’t know if there is one thing. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “No man steps in the same river twice, for the man is not the same, nor is the river.” People who have heard the same presentation more than once tell me there was something new in it, even though the content was the same. The difference is them; they were in a different place in their journey, so they keyed in on something new the second time.

Having said that, there are two things that people frequently comment on. How to hire the right people is high on the list, and the other area I get a great deal of feedback on is how to hold people accountable.

What’s a misconception you often hear about leadership or personal development?
I think the No. 1 misconception is that leaders are born and not made. Leadership is a skill, and just like any other, it can be learned. There are some people who need to work harder at developing their leadership skills than others. Mike Piazza, the former catcher for the L.A. Dodgers, was a mediocre baseball player when he was drafted by the Dodgers. Tommy Lasorda, the Dodgers’ coach, drafted him as a favor to Piazza’s father, Lasorda’s close friend. Piazza put in the work and went on to appear in 12 All-Star games and had an amazing career.

What’s one word your friends use to describe you? Do you agree?
Direct, sometimes blunt, and yes, I agree. I actually believe it’s one of the nicest things you can say about someone. I like clarity, and I engage in what I call crystal clear communication. For me, this is part of integrity. I don’t like games or ambiguity. Coincidentally, this is also a trait of great leaders. When you set clear expectations, your team can respond and rise to the occasion. If we waffle about, it’s like standing on quicksand. I prefer firm ground.

What qualities does a leader need to succeed?
There are three essential qualities that every leader must have: integrity, courage and caring. It’s impossible to lead without them.
Integrity is the critical quality, and integrity can’t exist without courage. Simply because our integrity will be constantly tested and it takes courage to maintain it. The question then becomes, where do we find the courage to maintain our integrity. That’s where caring comes in. In the words of Lau Tzu, founder of Taoism, “Being cared about by others gives us strength. Caring deeply about others gives us courage.” Therefore, when we care enough about our team, our customers and our vendors then we can find the courage to maintain our integrity.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?
To understand this, I need to share a story. In 2014, I received a text from a former team member that rocked my world. This gentleman grew up in a neighborhood of San Diego riddled with gang violence and only has a 9th grade education. He worked with me at a moving company where, in 2014, I had been hired as the vice president and was later promoted to president. No one trusted me at first since I was making a lot of changes. This guy was an estimator making an hourly wage and a SPIFF on each move he booked. I wanted to change his comp plan to one where he would more fully participate in his own success. He wasn’t interested at first. A year later, after I had put a lot of “emotional coinage” into his account, he agreed. His income went up by $40,000 a year. A year later, the company was sold.

On Father’s Day, he sent me a text that said, “Happy Father’s Day,” to which I replied, “Thanks, but you know I don’t have any kids.” It’s his reply that got me: “Yeah, but you’ve been like a father to me.” 

I get teary eyed every time I tell this story. Since I don’t have any kids, I always felt like I was missing out on an opportunity to improve the world by raising kids into good, responsible adults who contribute to the greater good. His text showed me I was mistaken. Now, he owns his own moving company, his son is in private school and he owns his own home. He’s living the American dream. 

He taught me that great leadership has a far-reaching effect. Not only do you and your company benefit, but so does your team, their families and everyone they interact with. Great leadership gets people excited about coming to work, and when we enjoy what we do, we have more energy, and that rubs off on everyone we interact with. The ripple effect is enormous. 

What is something you know now that you wish you knew when founding your company?
The importance of having a coach. I know, weird since I am one. When I first started, I thought “I’ve run 6-businesses, I’m here to help others, I don’t want to grow a huge firm with lots of people. I don’t need a coach.” Now, I can’t imagine not having at least one. It’s not just that a coach needs to believe in their own product, although that is part of it. It’s that a coach helps you see things from another perspective. Good coaches don’t tell you what to do, rather they see things from a different angle and through a different set of filters. They can share that perspective, thereby providing a better picture for you to make decisions with.

What one item would you need to have with you on a deserted island?
I almost said none. I’m not a collector of material things. Then, I realized I do need something: a good book. So I would need an e-book that has a built-in solar rechargeable battery with at least 1,000 titles in it.
What talent do you wish you possessed?
I wish I could sing. I grew up in a family of musicians and the only way I can carry a tune is if it’s sheet music.

What’s a home improvement tip that you had to learn the hard way?
Wow, so many. For me, the most important one is to not set a deadline for completion. I’m very goal driven, and I’ll do what it takes to make a self-imposed deadline. Sometimes this causes me to rush things. Of course, this means I don’t always “measure twice.” So now, unless there is an external deadline, I just make sure I make constant progress, but I take the time to do it right, once. I’m always happier with the results.

Hear more from Dave on the “Editorially Speaking” podcast. Learn more about Dave Rosenberg and his Locked On Leadership program here. Register to attend the National Hardware Show here to attend his keynote presentation at the NHPA All-Industry Conference, Oct. 21-23 in Las Vegas.

About Melanie Moul

Melanie Moul
Melanie is the managing editor for the North American Hardware and Paint Association. She has worked for the association since 2016. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and baking without recipes and watching online makeup tutorials. She and her husband are raising their son and two fur children in Indianapolis.

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