On August 3, 2022, Senior Leader Network member Michael Kurland, CEO of Branded Group, Inc. and author of the new book Broken to Better: 13 Ways Not to Fail at Leadership and Life, joined us for a candid conversation with our Member Success Manager Grant Frailich on his life and leadership journey, offering insight into his new book and Conscious Leadership through the lens of his Be Better mantra.
Here, we’ve gathered three of our biggest takeaways from Michael’s story and what matters most when it comes to leadership and culture.
Lead with empathy.
A proponent of the people-first mindset growing among the business community today, Michael credits leading with empathy as a large part of why Branded Group, Inc. has grown so exponentially since it was founded years ago.
Prior to starting Branded Group, Inc., Michael worked for a company where both internal and external stakeholders mattered very little—one where vendors were paid late and employees treated like commodities.
When he started his company, Michael wanted to do it better.
Adopting an empathetic leadership style, Michael saw more gratified employees, which lead to higher performance, and more reward for his business: “As I started my journey, I always treated my employees better, sometimes better than myself … then we started treating ourselves better, too. I was just taking all of those lessons and putting them into place and as I did that, over the first … six years, I was rewarded by having that 25% growth every year.”
Lean into what matters to your employees.
Knowing what he wanted to do with his new company and how he wanted to lead it, Michael started to build a team—and he realized that incorporating their vision and values into his model would be just as important to maintaining the business as his own.
With an initial team of just 26 people, 10 of whom still work for the company, Michael led an onsite workshop where each member provided input on what would eventually become the company values of the Branded Group, Inc. which still exist today.
Looking back on how challenging the process was, Michael ultimately feels it was the most gratifying thing he could’ve done as a burgeoning leader: “It was very rewarding at the end because they put all of our values together, and they voted on them, and those are still values we have to this day.”
In expanding on his book, Michael and Grant touched on the 13 Be Better Principles that Michael offers within.
Above all of the principles, the one most important to Michael is to be fearless.
Sharing a few of his personal and professional experiences where he felt fearful and unable to take action, Michael noted that he initially was afraid to pursue the life of a business owner.
“There was a point in my life where I was fearful of everything and I was scared to step out on my own and be an entrepreneur, scared of changing what I knew as normal life, and if I had not changed that mantra in my head, that thought process in my head, I would never be where I’m at.”
As Grant and Michael wrapped up their conversation, Michael shared a key word of advice for leaders and entrepreneurs today: “You’ve got to be fearless. And you’ve got to be capable of making tough decisions. And knowing that if you make a wrong decision, you can still pivot; it’s not final, it’s not finite.”
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