The Greenlight Highlight: Agribusiness Leader Sees Real Gains from Intimacy and Candor

MyGreenlight’s monthly community member spotlight interview.

Mark Jewell
LaCrosse, Wisconsin
Greenlight Member Since:  July, 2010
Company: Agribusiness Market Leader, Russell Associates

Elevator Pitch: I’m passionate about creating real impacts and real change through training programs. I work with companies to find out what is truly happening – and what needs to be fixed within their organizations to sustain growth.

What incident from your past do you recall being the moment it clicked for you that relationships make the difference to your success in business?
During my first real job out of college, December of 2005, I received a call out of the blue from a guy named Roger, who was seeking a consultant for a U.S. AID project in Macedonia. He was looking for a leadership trainer – and he sat on a board with a mentor of mine who recommended me.  I had never worked on something that large or important, so I was flattered.  This was the first time I realized how my network could truly work for me.  At that time, I wasn’t event thinking about working on a project like that, but it was a great fit.  It became very relevant for me in that moment, that having people in my corner to speak up on my behalf would be invaluable to my success.  I developed a great relationship with Roger – was hired back several times, and to this day when he is stateside we make time to catch up and share some time together.

Favorite Relationship Mastery Mindset and why?
A year ago it would have been generosity. That one is pretty well ingrained now, so today I would say it’s intimacy.  I’ve developed lots of relationships that I’d like to take to a deeper level.  When I travel for clients that I’ve developed a high level of trust with, I’ve started making a purposeful attempt to have dinner with them at their homes, and have often been invited to stay with them.  The stay over is like the long slow dinner times two!  One time I was even able to stay with a major super-connector from my industry.  We shared dinner, drinks, stories, family pictures – and continue to have a great relationship today.  Asking good questions that are unexpected has helped to accelerate my relationships to this level such as asking them to tell me about their families, or struggles.  I open up sometimes too, which makes me vulnerable, but it builds trust.  As a result, I have an easier time getting the connections I need, as well as greater ease in setting meetings.

What’s the coolest things you’re working on at home or at work right now?
A little over a year ago, my oldest daughter, Norah (now 3 years) was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. Going through this journey with her sparked a passionate purpose in me to fundraise and support research for a cure. My goal is to raise $1 million for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation before I turn 40 in 10 years. I’ve been putting my RAP into practice in service of meeting this goal. This process has given me a place to channel my frustration over what my daughter and many other people in this world have to deal with when it comes to managing this disease. I’ve been working on booking Barry Alvarez, former Wisconsin Badgers head coach for a fundraiser dinner and I’m preparing to pitch sponsors. Donations are great, but what I’m really in need of are ideas, which is why my network is really valuable to me. People sharing the things that they’ve seen that work really well in fundraising (keeping healthy lifestyles in mind) is priceless. So – I’m making an ask to myGreenlight community members to share with me their tips on how to develop relationships that can make this happen.

How has putting a thoughtful process around your relationship development benefitted your business?
Utilizing my pre-existing network has allowed me to set lots of meetings I wouldn’t have been able to confirm otherwise. My college fraternity Alpha Gamma Ro has over 40,000 living alumni which opens doors for me that can quickly lead to decision makers that I need to meet for my success. I have been relationship mapping within my prospect organizations as well which is a process I learned through myGreenlight.

What strategies and tactics from the myGreenlight program do you find you repeat and renew most frequently and why?
I’ve been really lucky from an accountability standpoint. People have been helping me get what I need. Currently, I’m primarily focused on business development, but I want to be focused on sales training. I have a team of three coaches that I made a personal request to, to help me learn sales training curriculum while improving my sales skills as I move toward the goal of secure a role in my current company as the Chief Operating Officer.  My boss, a trusted business partner and the retired VP of a large agribusiness have all graciously agreed to mentor me towards this goal. The next strategy has been the effective use of candor.  About a month ago, during a meeting my boss and I had a little misunderstanding. I felt that he had corrected me, or effectively belittled me in front of my client. Driving back from the meeting, I approached the topic and shared what bothered me. It took a little clarifying on both our parts, but the next day, I received an email from him, thanking me for approaching the topic and he said that my candor had elevated our relationship.

What still presents a challenge for you in building relationships that you continue to work on?
Time and follow up. Follow up is crucial and it’s a given, but most people suck at it. I was terrible at it. I have focused on it, and am getting better at it. Juggling all the areas of your work that need attention in addition to relationship management, plus raising kids takes about 18 hours a day! In an effort to improve, I use the Card Munch app for my iPhone.  Take a picture of any business card, then upload it through the app, and it gets verified by a real person. The info is fed back to me for downloading into my contact list, plus it has time saving automation options that help me connect on LinkedIn, and send follow up email.

What advice would you give to new members of the community that you have found to be best practices for relationship mastery?
Get disciplined and commit to completing the first 10 lessons. Block the time and a routine that works to get it done. The thing that has helped me want to do that is making friends within the community and building that lifeline within myGreenlight. It helps to connect with people that understand what you’re going through who are not your boss or spouse. My original Ambassador group within myGreenlight remain friends to this day and most of us have met in person – we don’t live anywhere near each other, but we’ve made it a point to connect offline when we’re in eachother’s cities. I felt accountable to this team – and they support me to this day.

Give us your best opening line for starting a new relationship.
My practice is to put the focus back on them. “Hi nice to meet you, tell me about yourself – what’s your story?” I then can tailor my response about who I am based on what I’ve learned, and what would be most interesting and relevant to them. I try to honor them with a response that fits the person, and saves meaningless details about myself!

Comments (2)

  1. Thanks Will – I will certainly let you know if I am in Chicago sometime. I do get over that way a few times each year! myGreenlight does serve as a great resource for personal growth for me – as you can see, it works in personal endeavors as well as professional pursuits!

  2. Hi Mark. What a great and thoughtful post. It is great to read how the princples found within myGreenlight have materialized within your life and have become actionable. Good luck as you strive to raise the $1 million for Juvenile Diabetes Research. Let me know if you’re ever in Chicago. Will

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