Wall Street Sales Team Leader John Saunders Tried Turning Employees Into Him

Wall Street Sales Team Leader John Saunders Tried Turning Employees Into Him


Check out all episodes on the My Favorite Mistake main page.

My guest for Episode #146 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is John Saunders, the founder of Forward Advisory Solutions.

He is the author of the book The Optimizer: Building and Leading a Team of Serial Innovators, which is now also available as an audiobook. Scroll down or click here to enter to win a copy of each.

John spent more than two decades as a Wall Street Senior Vice President, sales team leader, and award-winning sales executive. Followed his passion for helping others grow and founded a coaching and consulting company, Forward Advisory Solutions.

As a lifelong learner, Saunders asserts that change is necessary in today’s business world and believes in empowering those with whom he works. Holds a BS from the University of Wisconsin and an MBA from Georgetown University.

He is also the host of a podcast called “New Degree Press – The Creator Community.”

In today's episode, John shares his “favorite mistake” story about becoming a new leader and trying to “turn everybody into me.” Why did he do that and what did John learn about what you need to give up as a leader, compared to being an individual contributor?

We also talk about questions and topics including:

  • He was introduced to me by Lynn Yap, my guest in Episode #117.
  • What was the “whoa” recognition moment?
  • “The worst thing you can do…” is ask and not respond
  • About your book, The Optimizer: Building and Leading a Team of Serial Innovators – tell us about the title.
  • The word “optimizer” and what that suggests?
  • Efficiency vs. effectiveness
  • How to build and lead a team of “serial innovators”?
  • “Constant incremental improvement” vs. big leaps??
  • “Saunders asserts that we should celebrate and learn from failures instead of condemning them.” – How can we create that culture?
  • Negative history of the word “innovator”?
  • Chapter titled “Resistance is Futile” — you probably mean a more positive connotation from that phrase?
  • How to address “resistance” and fear?

Scroll down to find:

  • Enter to win
  • Video of the episode
  • Quotes
  • How to subscribe
  • Full transcript

Find John on social media:

Enter to Win:

Watch the Episode:


"And as I moved into that [leadership]role, it began to start. I'm going to attempt to impose my process, my systems, the way I thought about things on my team, I quickly realized or felt this resistance and realized, whoa, this isn't working out here."
"It's all about building that safe environment, building that trust — getting, not just telling people to trust you or trying to tell them to trust you, but to show them that they can trust you."
"As a leader, you're inextricably tied to leading change, right? And this is why I'm such a big believer in the optimizer concept of getting this incremental change mindset and to help people overcome that emotional burden."

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Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)

Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus. He is also a Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Marketing with the healthcare advisory firm, Value Capture.