How to Build a Winning Team & Culture

By Susan Barfield
February 27, 2023

Susan Barfield (00:07):
Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining another Case Works Stream. Super excited to have Shawn Harper on our stream today. I had the pleasure of connecting and learning more about Shawn, his background. I guess it was Shawn. It was not last week, the week before we had our executive and leadership team in Austin. We flew everyone in to come together, align, talk about all the things, culture, our goals, what we wanted to achieve as a company. And Shawn sent everyone on their way with just a mind blowing motivational speech. It could not have been more timely based on the messages that we had been talking to our team for the last two and a half days. So we really enjoyed that. And Shawn, I appreciate you taking time to connect with us today.

Shawn Harper (00:58):
Thank you for having me. Let’s have a good time. Let’s go. Let’s win. Likewise, had a great time with you. Love your energy, love your passion for what you’re doing. It’s really awesome when you have the head of the leadership in the room and everyone is nodding and everyone is in agreement. I know when I was speaking, I kind of look to the left and just look at you and say, “Okay, where am I at in this?” And I was kind of reading your body language and everything is lining up and that’s awesome because I wasn’t there for the entire time. But the speech still kind of, well, it did. It kind of just fit right in and it kind of just moved and gave energy to what you’re doing. So that’s awesome. That’s a win.

Susan Barfield (01:43):
Yeah, for sure. And for those of you that may not know if you haven’t met Shawn before, or he is a former NFL lineman and has played for the Rams, the Oilers, and the Colts. And so what I was thinking about, Shawn, you asked me this during the motivational speech, have you ever played sports? And of course I’ve played sports in the past. I’m still competitive to this day. It doesn’t matter even how little the competition is. I still want to win at everything. But the most fun thing is I just coached my daughter’s sports. And there’s so many great life lessons that you learn in playing sports that you can later in life apply to both your personal, and for us, professional goals and such. And so today I really wanted to talk to you, what you shared with us a couple of weeks ago was very empowering and motivational, but it really had to do with how to build a winning culture and team.

Shawn Harper (02:39):

Susan Barfield (02:39):
And you talked about to build a winning team, you really can’t do that unless you have a strong culture and unless you have a strong core. And you started out just talking a little bit about first things first. You got to have a strong self-concept. And so I wanted to see if you could … Hey, I was listening and I took a lot of notes, Shawn.

Shawn Harper (03:01):
You know what, it’s so interesting is that so many people, and I’m starting to think now that this is almost by a design, is that so many people have what I call a damaged self-concept, a victimized self-concept, an actual defeated. And what happens is that that self-concept triggers sabotages, belittles your belief systems, and then what you actually see to believe is limited. And then from there your thoughts are limited. And then from there your actions are limited. One of the things I’ve learned is that having that winning mindset, that winning of just your actual view on life is so powerful. So I was playing sports and I played for the cols. And when I was playing for the Cols, I had a roommate and this, this guy’s name was Zack, this is true. And I’m in my bed, nervous, at least I was nervous the next day, first day of pads.

And he’s in the dark. He’s like, “Shawn.” I’m like, “What?” He’s like, “I’m starting this year.” And I’m like, “Poor rookie.” You are indeed a third round pick. But you are a rookie. You got an all pro in front of you named Marshall. You have another outstanding running back in front of you. You got Clifford Gross … There’s no way that you’re going to play this year. Just sit back and just enjoy the year, take it and learning. I try to smooth it out for him. But he said, “I’m going to start this year, Shawn.” And I think the third or fourth game he’s starting.

Zack, I mean Zack is out there, Zack Crockett is out there. He played like a 11, 12 years in the NFL. But it came from within. The win came from within. It absolutely blew my mind that despite what was in front of him, he was not going to create the situation. He was going to manifest the situation. And that created a shift in my life like, wait a second, winners win from within. And they create winning teams. And from winning teams, they manifest and create winning cultures.

Susan Barfield (05:14):
And you talked about, and I wanted to hear a little bit more about this, that winners always separate themselves and stand out. So what did you mean when you mentioned that? How do you notice a winner and how are they standing out?

Shawn Harper (05:24):
When we’re younger, we are taught conformity. We are taught to do everything in order. We’re given, we are prescribed what success is and the A on the test. And then whatever’s different, whatever’s unique, we are consciously or subconsciously snubbed for it. It’s just like a force field. The kids around us might reject us. They might belittle us, they might bully us, our parents, you want to look the same, dress the same, sit the same. Everything is prescribed. They’re creating a great worker out of you. Because you’re learning the same subjects 12 years in a row, right? History, math, English, science, whatever. It’s the same thing. But they’re teaching, they’re educating you, but they’re teaching you and they’re teaching you the conformity. But when we get older, I’ve noticed that people who are outliers, people who are people who are people who are unique, people who are different in a positive way, we admire them.

So we teach conformity when we’re younger, but when we’re older, we realize that the ones who are the Michael Jordans, the LeBron James, the outliers in every aspect, those people are the winners because they’re saying to the current structure, they’re like, “Forget you, screw you.” I’m going to carve my own path. I have my own self-concept. I believe in myself. I know who I am and I’m going to win. And most people can’t breach that because the self-concept was manipulated or damaged to say, “You need approval, you need acceptance.” That’s why entrepreneurs fail, a lot of them, is because we’re always seeking, looking for somebody’s approval and someone’s acceptance and someone’s confirmation. Winners have it within. So they win within and a manifest it outward.

Susan Barfield (07:13):
So they stand out, they manifest it, but they understand the power. For them to succeed, they need to build a winning team themselves. And they need to surround themselves by people that compliment, encourage, strengthen, and push them.

Shawn Harper (07:30):
Yeah. So that is a very humbling aspect of having that winner’s mindset is because at some point you have to throw or you’re hit with a dash of reality and humility. It’s like you can’t do it by yourself. No winner can do it. You cannot name a winner that has done it by himself. I remember there was a great basketball player, oh, he’s dead now. Kobe Bryant. Kobe Bryant’s an amazing, he was an amazing top five best basketball players. But at one point he thought that he was that guy. He was the one and him and Shaq fell out. But then soon after, I believe that his head coach, his head coach left and Phil, Phil left.

And he’s like, “I’m Kobe, I got it.” And although he had all the talent, he didn’t have a team. And maybe two or three years later, they bring Phil back and then they begin to dominate again. Every winner needs a team. And it’s through humility and through meekness that you to say, “You know what? Although I’m excellent at what I do, although I am a Michael Jordan, although I am a Michael Phelps, although I am a Elon Musk, although I am a Richard Hart, I need a team. And it’s my ability.” Now listen, it’s my ability to work with a team, to actually motivate a team, to encourage a team that is directly contributed to the level of win you’ll have in life. Everyone doesn’t have all the tools.

Susan Barfield (09:06):
Well, one thing to think about the audience that listens to my streams, they’re outside of the service providers like Case Works. A lot of folks that are listening are going to be personal injury attorneys and mass tort attorneys who have a large team that need to, you mentioned a couple weeks ago, need to move forward as one. And then you need to have a vision because no one can buy into you until they buy into your vision. And so you got to have the vision and the culture. And so if people are like, “Well, this all sounds great and I love it and I love the idea of having a vision and a culture. How do I actually do this?” What would you say?

Shawn Harper (09:48):
First thing you have to do that you have to solidify the vision and the culture within yourself. You have to grind it. Okay, we are spirits, soul, and body. You got to bring everybody into agreement. Or I’m sorry, you got to bring yourself into agreement. A lot of times we say things we don’t really mean. “Well, this is what I want in life. This is this …” but you know what? Your habits aren’t lining up to that. So somewhere in there, there’s some inconsistency. You got to kill that inconsistency because when you move, when you move, you got to move spirit, soul, and body. You have to move into agreement. And once you line up totally in agreement, now it begins to exude from you like wifi. If you ever heard a person that truly, truly, truly believes in what he or she is saying, you can feel it come out of them. It’s not so much of what they say. It’s the energy that comes behind that. So number one, you got to bring yourself into agreement.

Number two, you got to destroy distractions. You have to destroy distractions. You got to get rid of them. You got to bring yourself up because whatever you focus on pulls your energy. So now you’re locked into 100%, you’re locked into, this is where I’m going. This is the goal. This is my leadership role. I am all in 100% all in. Not halfway all in, not 30% all in.

And then number three is you have to make a distinction between a distraction and your intentions. Okay? When you line up your intentions, you see it. Now you have the ability to course correct. And what I mean by that, when you have something that messes up you having a horrible day, you just have to be able to redirect and keep locked onto your intention. It’s like flying a 747 and you’ve jumped on a 747 out of Austin. From the moment it takes off until the second it land it’s off course, it’s going up and down, up and down.

Now, the winner has the ability to have to have a bad play, to have a distraction. And within a millisecond lock back on the end zone, I’m going to the end zone next. That is a skill set that we have to develop as winners to say, “You know what? I missed this one, but this is where I’m going.” In fact, I don’t even worry about that. I was looking at this survey and I posted it on my Facebook, or whatever social is that the top five players or top 10 who missed the most shots in the NBA are the ones who took the most shots in the NBA. And if by name off that list, it’ll blow you away. Michael Jordan’s on top four on that list. But you aren’t even focused on the fact that he missed more than he made. Kobe Bryant’s on that list. LeBron James is on that list. What is that telling me? Is that you got to shoot your shot, but when you missed that shot, you course correct. I call it tuition. You learn from it, you pull from it, and then you keep going, you keep going. And you never let anything or anyone damage the wind within.

Susan Barfield (12:41):
Yeah, fail fast. Course correct. And keep on moving with your head up for sure.

Shawn Harper (12:46):

Susan Barfield (12:47):
Talking a little bit. I think something else that really resonated with me is that we’re doing a lot of communicating with our teams, but we’re not connecting. So a lot of talking is happening, but we’re just not connecting. And if we’re not connecting, there’s just no way you can start to instill the culture. You want to speak a little bit more on that?

Shawn Harper (13:05):
Yeah. Connect, involve, upgrade. Okay. Remember that. Connect, involve, upgrade. Remember your connection point. Okay. Before you can actually communicate, you have to establish a sense of connection with that individual. Okay? Because now your words have a different meaning. Your words have the unique ability to penetrate and to pull that out. Because as a leader, okay, as listen, as a winner, as a leader, you are always selling. ABC, always be selling. But we forget, the people that we need to sell to the most is not the people out there. You’re going to close, you’re going to get your share of closing. It’s the people around you. You have to sell your vision to the people around you starting at home. You got to sell to the people from your house, from your inner circle, your coworkers, the people around you.

So guess what? The way I dress, the way I talk, I have to realize, you know what? I cannot behave a certain way after 5:00. I just can’t be out there kicking it. I can have fun, they’ll love me, but they might not respect me. They might not honor me. Now I’ve damaged that. So now when I’m asking them to do things, when I want things done, that’s been damaged. Now there’s inconsistency, and now you kind of mess up the whole connection because listen, you have to get this. Professionals, you have to establish, because all communication is based off of relationship. So the way that I talk to my wife is not the way I’m going to talk to the host. The way that I talk to the host is not the way I’m going to talk to the president. So you have to protect that.

And then they connect from that. And then when they connect from that, that’s where the communication assumes, I mean, actually flows from, I had a situation just this morning, this person, I’m going to have to offboard, a great worker. I’m like, “What happened? What happened in that?” Start replaying some things. I’m like, “You know what? I damaged that relationship.” And once I damaged that relationship, now the person doesn’t see me the way that they should. And now their production has dropped. And I have just ruined a potential great worker, not even one month for working for me, because I kind of messed up the relationship standard. Now I’ve messed up the connection. Now I’ve messed up the communication.

Susan Barfield (15:55):
Yeah, yeah. No, that makes sense. That’s terrible. You talked a lot about core having, you kind of gave some analogies about playing football. You got to have a strong core, and your team is the amplifier of your core.

Shawn Harper (16:12):
Yes. So when I was playing for the Indianapolis Colts tea,, the actual head trainer, one day after practice, I guess he was watching me. I said, “Why is Tom watching me all practice?” At the end of practice I walked past him and he took his hand and he punched me in my stomach and I bent over. I broke. I mean, now listen, I was extremely strong. I mean, I benched over four plates and inclined I squatted like 7, 800. I was strong. But he hit me and he’s like “Watching you in practice today. And I noticed this, and this happened and that happened.” I’m like, “Yeah, I got to get my feet right.” He said, “No, you don’t.” He said, “Your core is weak.” And after practice, he would make me do planks and do sit ups just to strengthen my core.

And I’m thinking, “No, you need to have a strong bench. You need to …” he said, “No, no, no. He said, although this is strong, this is talent. The core regulates your talent, your core actually gives a strength to that. You transform your energy from your legs all the way up through your core to your arms. The transference of energy has to go through your core. And if you have a weak internal core, it doesn’t matter what type of talent you have, it will not manifest. It will not grow. It will not be 100% productive. So now teaching you and learning and encouraging you, Shawn, how to live from the inside out, not from the outside in, living from the core to the teams, to your culture.”

And when pressure comes, when adversity hit, when the pain comes, and I’m not the kind of guy like, “Oh, it’s going to be a great day. I’m a motivational speaker.” No, there will be pain painful days. But that separates the wheat from the chaff that separates the losers from the winners, that separates the conquerors from the campers. When the pain comes and you have to not stand but withstand, okay, endure. It comes from your core. Don’t try to strengthen your core when things are going bad. It’s just too late. It’s too late for that. You strengthen it now. You drive down in your belief systems, your actual reference points of who you really are. For me is whose I am. And once you have that, when the pain comes, you can endure it. You live from the outside, you live from the inside out, not from the outside in. And you hire and train from the inside out, not from the outside in it. Stop hiring and nurturing talent. It’s not always about the talent, it’s about the core of who they are.

Susan Barfield (19:01):
You’ve had a successful and fast growing securities company out of Columbus now is it going on 20 years?

Shawn Harper (19:09):
Yep. Yep.

Susan Barfield (19:11):
And so what are some of the things that you do within that company to build culture and to ensure your team has a strong core? Just to put some of these-

Shawn Harper (19:22):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. It can be tough at times because we have guards all over. So one of the things that I’ve done, and they’ve been fighting with me, they, I fight with me. And I’m not going to budge on this, not, don’t ask that you guys do this, but this is what I’ve done, is they’re like, “Man, chief, we need direct deposit.” And then I keep pushing back on that. “Oh, we got man, this company has direct deposit. We should be …” “No, no, no, no. You got to come in and get your check.” And what do I do? Why, because when they come in and get the check, I got food, I got connection. The chief is in the office or someone else that has really high rank there in the office. Come here, sit down, talk to you.

We use what’s called a FORM technique, which is huge. We always ask about their family, their occupation, which is us. Their recreation and message, okay, FORM. And we always ask about that. Friends and family, occupation, recreation, message. Okay, I want to know about you. And we get them talking. We build that connection. A lot of people leave jobs not because of money as much as because they lose connection. So I force them in the office. And sometimes I love the barbecue, right? Man, I make [inaudible 00:20:50]

Susan Barfield (20:49):

Shawn Harper (20:51):
Boom, you’ll get some … and just connect, connect, connect, connect. And then I go out there and I visit and I look them in the eye, shake their hand, talk to them, listen to them. Listen. It’s a whole skillset in listening. My cousin’s a great speaker, Heather Younger, she talks about active listening. I grew up with her. Active listening. Listening, listening, listening, listening. And that’s what I do. Some of the things that I do that create the connection and build that. So if you got people working in your office, you have no excuse.

Susan Barfield (21:24):
It sounds a lot like Truett Cathy with Chick-fil-A, you mentioned this a couple of weeks ago. I’m a huge Truett Cathy fan read all of his books and about the legacy that he left behind and how he would go to all the Chick-fil-A stores, especially if they were brand new opening. He would be right there rolling his sleeves up, getting to know the talented team members that were working with him. And sounds like a lot of what he did, just being amongst his team and his people and get to know them on a personal level and have that connection.

Shawn Harper (21:55):
Who else did that? Sam Walton of the Walmart stores. He would drive around to a lot of the Walmart stores throughout the country and he would find somebody, no one knew who he was. And then he would go into the Walmart store and he would find somebody doing something right, not doing something wrong, but doing something right. And he would give them like a $100 bill or something like that. And he just moved to the next store. Dave Thomas of Wendy’s did the same thing.

Susan Barfield (22:25):
That’s cool. Yeah, yeah. Rewarding the good behaviors and the things that you want to see more of. Lastly, and I know you’ve got a busy schedule. You’re doing a million things. You ended on a couple of questions to my team, and I would love to understand a little bit more. You asked them, “Do you have the spirit of the organization and can you say to yourself that you understand the values and you live out those values daily?”

Shawn Harper (22:49):
Right. That’s huge. It is. It’s moving away from your actual production and asking yourself, where is the production coming from? With American Services, our security firm, one of our core keywords is family. We treat people like family. And I mentioned Maslow’s Hearts of hierarchy. Maslow’s charts of hierarchical needs. And one of the core needs of everyone is to feel a sense of belonging, a sense of connection. So guess what? You are at American Services and Protection are family. And that shoots all the way up, it bucks against policy. It bucks against so much of what we do. So let me give you an example. So an individual comes in and says, “I need another cash advance, right? Inflation’s high. Stuff is going up, stuff happens.”

And the policy says, “Hey, we don’t have an extra $200 for you.” But guess what? They’re not just workers, they’re family. You know what I’m going to do? It’s $200. I’m going to go, I don’t want to mess with the policy, okay? Because I don’t want to get into troubles, but I might go in to my personal account, pull out $200. Because why? Cause we’re family and let them know, “This is coming from me, bro, we’re family.” That right there is like, “Wow, I belong to something greater than me. I belong to a family.” That is what one of our core key actual concepts and values that goes all the way up through the company.

So now with your organization is, especially with you, it’s like how do you replicate that throughout your entire organization is, it’s not what you live by, it’s what you live from. What do you live from what? We live from quality work. We work from assurance. Okay, great. Now how is that affecting this? And if it ever bumps up against the policy, whew. You got to make a tough decision as the leader, and you got to find a way around that. And in the end, the core better win. It better.

Susan Barfield (25:26):
Exactly. And you create loyalty. Yes. Loyal employees that know that you care about them, that they care about your family. We’ve got five core values, one of them being love and doesn’t, not the soft kind of love. Yes, we love you and we love your family, but sometimes it means tough love. But we also have a love fund where employees, maybe, I don’t know each employee, but let’s say they give $2 every paycheck and it accumulates. And when we have an employee that has a need, well, we go to our love fund committee, we present the need, and then we help to show them love from the company. So everyone’s supporting them. So I think that’s huge.

And I’ll leave us on this. Back, I guess it was in 2015, is when I read all of Truett Cathy’s books. And that’s when I made the decision for my company is like, what is the legacy I want to leave behind? What type of company do I want to build? And what kind of foundation do I want to create? And it was one that I wanted to have a vision, a mission, and also core values that we exude and we expect everyone on daily basis to exude our core values. And it starts from top down. And so there’s people out there, people that are listening that they’re like, “Ah, this is a lot of work.” And it is a lot of work. I mean, we have to have a culture champion that lives, breathes, eats culture, and how to engage our employees, keep them retained, and keep them happy. Because if you don’t spend the time and attention on these valuable aspects of business, you’re not going to win.

And you’re going to have people leaving that’s costly. And the quality of your product or whatever it is that you’re offering, is going to severely be negatively impacted if you don’t spend the time and attention on things like culture, core connection, and all the things that we talked about. So that’s why, man, I loved your speech. Like I said, I recorded it, I’ve listened to it. My team is still talking about you. So we’re excited. And I know that it was a lot for you to fly down and meet with us, but you made an impression on us. Like I said, I have a lot of, I’ve written it up as Shawn’s words of wisdom that I’ve looked at on a daily basis. It’s just important. It’s critical to business and winning. And we really appreciate your time then and today.

Shawn Harper (27:41):
Thank you so much.

Susan Barfield (27:43):
Yeah, absolutely. Okay, let’s do it. Let’s go win today.

Shawn Harper (27:47):
All right, be blessed.

Susan Barfield (27:49):
Thank you, Shawn.

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