On October 19th 2018, our club invited Mr. Rob Browne as a speaker at the event named “Right Way Leadership in an Upside Down World” that took place in LCC International University. Below you can find the article containing interview with him, which highlights the key points of his speech.

About Robert Browne

Rob Browne originated from Atlanta, Georgia, USA, where he currently lives with his wife, four children, and dog named Lulu. Rob is the Executive Director of YouthReach International (www.youthreach.org) having worked in the non-profit realm for 25 years, mobilizing teams around the world to respond to vulnerable youth in their communities in impactful ways. In the last two years, he became an entrepreneur and managed to open the Great Harvest Bread Company (www.greatharvestloganville.com) of Loganville, GA. Though he played basketball in the university in the US and for a short time in Russia, his only remaining sports passion is the professional baseball team from his home city, the Atlanta Braves. Rob loves people and when people work in teams and is amazed by the potential of a team, in which none cares about who gets the credit.

Forget traditional leadership and turn it upside down !

“If they show interest in me and care about me, I would do anything for them”. Rob Browne takes the picture of leadership that most in the world hold us as the ideal and turns it upside down. “The real way of leading people, is to serve people”, said Rob on an inspirational lecture at LCC International University.

Browne talks about how can one lead people by serving them: “when you capture the hands of someone, you can lead them to do things, but making people to do something is not leadership, it’s rather being simply bossy. But, if you capture people’s hearts, then you will get their hands and their heads too.”

,,Leading others is serving others”

Rob Browne illustrates this with a story of an employee of his Great Harvest Bread Company. The problem he had, was that there were too little customers who got from the door to the cash desk to make a purchase. What he decided to do, was  to ask one of his youngest employees to share her idea’s. And as he expected, she came up with a creative idea – to give free cookies to customers. “So we did, she helped us creating a new philosophy”, Browne said. “That is upside down thinking. She is one of your youngest employees, yet has the most influence.”

Empowering people is a term that Browne likes the most. He tries to empower people with trust, opportunity and responsibility. Once, he tried to give another employee an opportunity, but she ruined it. “What should we do know?”, Browne asked her. “I am sorry, you can fire me”, she answered. But he refused and said: “I lost a thousand dollar investment in you, and now I want to see how this investment will turn out to be.” They tried again, and this time it went out very well. “I’m empowered, leading others is serving others”, he said.

,,Everybody picks up trash”

One of Browne’s greatest role models was his basketball coach in college: “He taught me three basic rules that sold apply in everyone’s life: Firstly, everybody should take notes, because people are constantly learning and this will be a useful habit. Secondly, always say please and thank you.You have to express gratitude and expect nothing in return. Thirdly: “everybody picks up trash. Picking up trash keeps you humble and it makes the street cleaner. Leave places better than you found them.”

Rob Browne is a Rotary-member himself. He discovered Rotary club for the first time during his mission in Novosibirsk, Russia. A man he met, told him about playground construction project, where both regular kids and those a handicap syndrome could play together. “I was invited and I went to a meeting. Four years later, the project we talked about was finished. Today, it is the only handicap-accesible playground in Russia.”

,,Think about who you can introduce to others’’

“Rotary is bigger than itself”, said Rob. “And it is a great place to meet people, however don’t just think about people whom you can meet; look for people which you can introduce to others. Too many times I only see people who are sharing their business cards.”

He tells a story about a man who lived in the early ‘40’s. He was always trying to find two people that needed to meet each other. Every week he invited two people for lunch, but he didn’t show up himself even once. “Rotary is a fantastic way to do that”, Brown concludes.