I met Martin in the test kitchen at #fgf and the first thing he said to me with a laugh was: “I think I am now officially the oldest person at the company (says the man who doesn’t have a gray hair on his head, is fit, and has the energy level of a teenager!) and I’m still learning and evolving!”

 I first wrote about Martin, SVP of Construction at FGF Foods Inc., a few years back after he introduced me to his learning process through his leadership journey manual.  He looked forward to sharing with me the 6.0 version of his journal.  The best way I can describe what Martin has been committed to is to share what is included in his manual:

  • A brief robust recap of every important book he’s read
  • An overview of each of his team members that includes their behavioral profile and their personal developmental plans.
  • His leadership 360 and EQ rating
  • A synopsis of each learning/educational session he has participated in
  • Team celebrations and achievements
  • Words of wisdom from coaches and mentors
  • And so much more

Martin is the first person I’ve ever seen do this.  The binder is now 3 inches thick and leafing through it will give you a great course in leadership.  In my experience, as a trainer, coach, and consultant – very few take an educational session and document it so that they can not only refer back to it but can also share it with others.  This is, of course, the best way to retain what you’ve learned and integrate it into your day-to-day.  Every member of Martin’s team, along with a select group of company leaders, has a copy of the manual.  He shares that it provides a great opportunity to:

  • Share knowledge
  • Begin dialogue
  • Communicate the importance of learning
  • Demonstrate gratitude for exposure to learning experiences
  • Promote his team and show pride for the company
  • Reveal to his team and others what he values

How incredible would it be for any of us to receive such a treasure from our leader?  It would instantly help us understand what our leader cares about and how their experiences have shaped the way they lead.

Martin is the first to acknowledge he has taken an old school approach – a three ring binder with color coded handwritten tabs rather than emailing a pdf – but for him, that’s part of the beauty – an archive of knowledge and experience that you can hold it your hand and feel the weight of the work.  It cannot be overlooked or discounted.

While we are not all going to take the approach Martin has undertaken,  as leaders we can do things like:

  • Buy your team a book you’ve learned a lot from – and discuss it.
  • Attend a training session along with your team member so you can better understand what they are learning and help them integrate.
  • Share your behavioral profile or similar assessment and compare your styles

As I maneuvered through airport security carrying Martin’s book back to Chicago from Toronto, I didn’t feel the irritation one might feel for suddenly having another piece of luggage to transport.  I just thought how lucky I was that Martin shared this synthesis of the journey he and his team have been on, along with his willingness to share the nuggets of wisdom he has gathered along the way. It serves as an inspiration that no matter your age or experience – if you can maintain an appreciation for continuous learning, nothing can stop you from realizing your dreams and helping others to realize theirs.

Martin – I look forward to 7.0.