An email arrived in my inbox one day from Joyce Cacho. I didn’t know Joyce. She introduced herself as a member of Women Corporate Directors, where she found my name in the national directory. Coming to Minnesota for a Land O’Lakes board meeting, she was reaching out to try to connect with a few new folks. I, for one, responded. Turns out I was going to be in town that day, and, as I’ve learned from so many of my BOLD leader interviewees, “Why not?!”
We had a fast (talking and sharing, that is) lunch. Both of us left thankful that she had initiated the invitation and I had said yes. When I called her the other day to follow up and conduct a BOLD leader interview, one of the first things she said was, “It is fun to see where what was for me – a cold call – would lead!”
And so, we dove into one of the most personally insightful conversations I’ve had with a BOLD leader yet. Joyce really knows herself. She is also clearly a dispassionate observer of the world and circumstances around her. Certainly, her economics education and her financial and risk management experience, including being a Sunrise Banks board director, contribute to her ability to quickly assess a situation. She also pays close attention to the needs of others, whether family, work or board colleagues, or a new-found friend, like me. In minutes, all the BOLD characteristics of curiosity, confidence, empathy and trust were on full display. And, in several examples, Joyce gets things done but doesn’t need to be the one advancing the idea. She knows that sometimes working through others is the best way to accomplish big things.
On being a BOLD leader, Joyce said, “Your definition captures so much of who I am. So yes, by your definition, I am BOLD. I am willing to take risks to get rewarding results – beyond myself – for the institution and for others.” From her economics training, she went on, “Without completely geeking out, I see any organization – business, government, church, any institution – as an economic instrument, as part of the economy.”
She told the story of a youth pastor in her church when she was growing up, who thought it important that his students understand and appreciate other religions. Youth group field trips to other religious institutions were yet another lens into sources of value from understanding “other” and “different” in ways she carries with her today.
Living in the United States, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean for long stints, as well as experiences in Vietnam and China, have informed her integrated view of the world. “So much of our history (as individuals) teaches us to focus on the inside. I’ve lived long enough, and seen enough, to know that you can’t be binary in your thinking. You have to reflect on the complexity (of the world) as you make your decisions.”
Joyce said something that particularly resonated for me in our current political climate: “There are very few teams that I see that align with all the parts of me 100%! People are not ‘all red or all blue.’” She reminded me that we are all MANY things, and on many teams, whether family, work, social, religious, political… And we should celebrate and appreciate that, as we all share the desire to create in ways that build up and broaden horizons. Forcing binary choices in this world doesn’t work, underserves innovation, and certainly isn’t BOLD.
She posited something I had not considered: “Is BOLD maybe becoming the normal for excellence?!”
“People go charging at life and don’t take the time – or have the time – to reflect on ‘How did I become who I am?’ You have to believe that your time reflecting will add to opportunities, not diminish them.”
Joyce shared many stories that this conversation made her think about, and we wound around to the topic of happiness. As I’ve noted in previous BOLD leader posts – these are happy people.
“I’m definitely in the sweet spot of being a BOLD leader! Every day, my spirit finds a happy thing. Life always throws you ‘screwballs.’ My Mom would listen to me and reassure me that I could rise above it – get through it. It’s been very empowering to not have to worry about ‘becoming’ that positive person. I know that is who I am. And because I recognize exactly what you are saying in your BOLD work, my source of confidence and affirmation comes from that positive perspective.”
Affirming. Positive. Sharing. Risk oriented and willing to put herself out there to make things better for others and for the institutions she is committed to serving. That is who I met when I accepted Joyce’s “cold call.” It has made me want to adopt her approach and do some cold calling myself! And that, right there, is beautiful example of the gift of a BOLD leader – they engage you and advance your thinking, get your creative energy flowing, and leave you wanting more.
Closing Question: Cold calling for most people is a scary proposition, even if you do it inside a network where you are a member. Consider what we miss when we don’t do it. Who in your extended network (or beyond) should you reach out to meet?
Joyce recommends in addition to cold calling, re-connecting with former colleagues to hear their journeys. This can provide insights into how others find professional growth through focusing on more of a 360-degree approach to living. In addition to learning, the conversation can affirm combinations of BOLD characteristics of curiosity, confidence, empathy and trust, as being critical to success.