July 2016 Event Recap – Danielle Burd

“Kindness and Love – An Asset in the Workplace?”

The July KIROS monthly breakfast at Maggiano’s in Bellevue featured Danielle Burd, Executive Vice President of Umpqua Bank. Danielle started sharing by asking us three important questions:

-What traits do you typically hear to describe a strong leader?
-Is kindness seen as a strength or weakness in the workplace?
-Can you change the world with kindness, compassion, and love?

She then gave a great example of a remarkable woman who did just that – Mother Teresa – and shared this quote from Mother Teresa: “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
Danielle then challenged us with a short quiz to make us reflect on what truly is impactful in the business world. She asked us to name recent:

-Heisman Trophy Winners
-Pulitzer Prize Winners
-Academy Award winners

Once we failed that quiz, she asked for a show of hands of people that could name:

-Teachers who aided our journey through school
-Friends who have helped us through a difficult time
-People who have taught us something worthwhile, made us feel appreciated or that we enjoy spending time with.

The room was filled with hands held high, and her point sunk in: The people who make the difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are simply the ones who care the most!

Danielle spent some time talking about her work experience – beginning in banking, interrupted by two very impactful trips to volunteer with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India. Then after multiple attempts to decline the job offers, she took the CEO role offered by former bank clients to lead both a trucking company and an oil company. The first day on the job at the trucking company was quite eventful (the looks, comments and experience was interesting to say the least as these forty year trucking veterans looked at their new CEO, which didn’t exactly fit the picture of what they thought their CEO would be). Danielle won them over with kindness, humility, and love. The company was turned around very quickly and became very profitable in her short time there.

Her two experiences with Mother Teresa in Calcutta and the time back in America in between those two trips had a profound impact on her. She shared the challenge she received from Mother Teresa – your challenge is to take the beauty of the kindness and love you’ve seen here in Calcutta and marry that with the opportunity God has given you in America. Mother Teresa challenged her to love one heart at a time. In between her two trips (and a motivation for her second trip) was an experience she had in her first stint in banking. She went to lunch one day, saw a homeless man in need, and bought him lunch. She was then mocked for her gesture back at the office by one of the men who saw her experience. She calmly offered grace and a challenge – if that was your brother or father, wouldn’t you want someone to do the same for them.

Danielle shared about her hesitancy about coming to Umpqua Bank. She leads with care, support, love, kindness, listening and lots of hugs. That isn’t exactly how banking in America works. She said no to Umpqua because she would lead that way, and she was certain they wouldn’t want that. That was exactly what they wanted.

She also told about an approach she has used in first 90 days of taking a leadership role in all of the companies she’s recently been with. She states clearly that this company will operate by the principles of love, kindness, care, support and good listening. We all have 90 days to be part of that or find a new company. Most embrace this philosophy, but there are also plenty of pink slips to go around after 90 days.

She closed by encouraging us with Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

I had the privilege of waiting in line to talk to Danielle afterward, as she offered love, kindness, care, hugs and even tears to those that opened their heart to her after the time together. It was special to see her live out what she taught the very morning she encouraged and challenged us.