LeaderImpact Podcast

Ep. 45 - Leonard Herchen - Lead From a Place of Love

October 11, 2023 LeaderImpact Episode 45
LeaderImpact Podcast
Ep. 45 - Leonard Herchen - Lead From a Place of Love
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Did you ever wonder what the journey to becoming a successful leader looks like? Meet Leonard Herschen, a Vice President with GLJ Limited, who grew up on a rural farm in Alberta, experienced working internationally, and found his spiritual calling. Leonard takes us through his leadership journey, sharing how experiences from his shaped his career.

Throughout our conversation, Leonard unveils his three fundamental principles - connecting with people, testing ideas, and delivering feedback from a place of love. Leonard stresses the importance of learning from failures and using them as stepping stones towards success. He further elaborates on the importance of building and sustaining relationships..

 He also shares his views on the joy of learning, overcoming challenges, and the value of commitment - even when faced with tough times. Join us in this enriching conversation that encapsulates the essence of leadership, personal growth, and faith on professional success.

Thanks for listening!

Click here to take the LeaderImpact Assessment and to receive the first chapter of Becoming a Leader of Impact by Braden Douglas.

Remember, impact starts with you!

Speaker 2:

Welcome to the Leader Impact Podcast. We are a community of leaders with a network in over 350 cities around the world, dedicated to optimizing our personal, professional and spiritual lives to have impact. This show is where we have a chance to listen and engage with leaders who are living us out. We love talking with leaders, so if you have any questions, comments or suggestions to make this show even better, please let us know. The best way to stay connected in Canada is through our newsletter at LeaderImpactca or on social media at Leader Impact. If you are listening from outside of Canada, check out our website at LeaderImpactcom. I'm your host, lisa Peters, and our guest today is Leonard Herschin. Leonard is a vice president with GLJ Limited. Glj is a major Canadian energy consulting firm founded in 1972. Glj is a known market leader in reservoir engineering, geoscience and petroleum economics. Glj also offers services in the emerging energy space, such as carbon sequestration, geotherm energy and lithium extraction from brine. Leonard's career started with a degree in engineering physics from Queen's University. He worked internationally for several years providing well-born geophysical measurements services in the field in the United Kingdom, india and Yemen. Leonard joined GLJ Limited in 1993. His current role is in technical advisory. In this role, leonard is able to express his passion for human beings reaching their full potential as scientists and engineers. Leonard is known for his love for training and development of younger engineers. He will frequently confront engineers in training with the question so tell me, why does oil come out of ground? He believes when the complex is explained simply, it is understood. Leonard regularly attends Leader Impact events in Calgary. Leonard is married to Maritza and they have two children, son 18 and daughter 14. Welcome to this show, leonard.

Speaker 1:

Thank you.

Speaker 2:

I read you have an 18-year-old son and you're an engineer. Maybe he's going to university. Is he going to be an engineer?

Speaker 1:

Yes, he is A little bit more to that. I didn't push or expect him to study engineering, because obviously that's his personal choice. He's good at math and so he wants to go into engineering, but he's also a very skilled musician and so he's going to be studying engineering and music performance. He's doing a dual degree program at the university of Calgary. He starts in a week.

Speaker 2:

My son starts tomorrow online at U of S Engineering. There's some online for a day and a night, but he's doing some pre-testing right now. Yeah, it's going to be a journey. I want to thank you again for joining us. Over the past few weeks, we've sort of been asking these four questions. Well, it's six in total, but the four ones are really focusing on pivotal turning points, principles of success and how failures and mistakes can actually they're important and how important they are to our success. I am loving these questions because the journeys are incredible. Thank you again and I look forward to beginning. Okay, yes, all right. So obviously we're looking for a bit of your professional story and how you got to where you are today. You've had a great journey. Can you give us a couple snapshots that were pivotal turning points along that journey?

Speaker 1:

Well, there's, yeah, sure there's been a couple, and I honestly think that journey started in childhood. I grew up in rural Alberta on a farm and my father was a veterinarian and my mother worked at home until she became a music teacher later in life. But I think that practical country life and exposure to science that I got through my father's work impacted my whole life, even though I'm not a doctor or anything like that. And then, but so and then obviously the next turning point was to go to your school and I was a. I was a math geek and in school I loved it, and so I studied in basically with a mouse who applied physics in university and I loved every minute of it. It was just so much fun. And a major turning point also in my life is might be unusual is I took some training in in in the late 80s so I was 19, 20 years old from a company called Landmark Education and it kind of provided me a new way of looking at life and that really opened my eyes to what was possible. And out of that I really set bigger goals for myself and and I also kind of got some tools that made big goals became achievable and and I got some kind of personal tools that dealt with some of the things that I need to deal with in life. And then the next turning point would have been definitely getting work in the oil business. I always wanted to travel, and I got to. I got work working on all rigs for a major consulting firm, and it was fun. I traveled to many interesting countries, like you mentioned. I worked with big machines and it was outside, and it was really interesting and I was using what I learned in school. I understood how all these tools worked, and it was really, really fun, but, and then so professionally. The next turning point, though, was I kind of decided to move back on land and live in more normal, less nomadic life, so I moved back to Canada from India, and I joined my current company in 1993, which is actually 30 years ago now. So I've been here 30 years, and the current president and I we started on exactly the same day, in April 1, 1993. And we're still here. So we were the fools, and that was. That's been good, and I think turning points here in my in my career here at GLJ is really the leadership that was in place when I was a junior engineer were really effective and just to work at the side of very effective business people and leaders and see how they acted and see how they solve problems and customers and the business. Really it wasn't like a turning point but it was an eye opener, right, yeah. And obviously I mean we're talking about leader impact and so I I didn't. I didn't grow up in a, in a, in a religious home or anything like that. There wasn't anything about God in our home. It was not really discussed much and I grew up in kind of in a Christian culture. What we had in Canada in those days, but not really a personal relationship and that changed for me in the early 2000s and I I decided to walk into a church and see what was happening and that made a big difference in my life obviously. Obviously it's been the well, it's been the biggest impact of all the things and turning points.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And professionally another. I think the last couple of ones I'll mention was I. I decided to learn Spanish for fun and I love learning and I love learning things that look difficult, and so I took on the and Spanish isn't that bad but and that actually really was very interesting because through that knowledge I met my wife, who's from Latin America, and I met, I opened up my company's business in Latin America and we had a very small kind of international arm and I used that to get projects in Latin America, particularly big ones in Mexico and Bolivia, someone's Columbia and, and so that kind of really out of that hobby I kind of led my company's expansion into Spanish speaking world. And so now it was a kind of an amazing coincidence that I decided to have a weird hobby of learning a foreign language and it turned into like now our international work is over 20, 25% of my company's business, right, and so I think I've contributed to that. So that's kind of the, the my life story in five minutes.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I have written notes, I have so many questions on those pivotal turning points, but you, everything you have said, it sounds like you're having so much fun and there's these, these, these points in your life and I think of this landmark education, a new way of looking at life and provided you the tools, because we graduate high school and I think sometimes we're done with the coaching and I think I've mentioned this before, but, right like we, we need to continue. We need to continue with the coaching or the Spanish lessons, the learning. We can't always do things alone, that's. And so Spanish, did you go to class for that or did you do Duolingo?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I did two things, for the Spanish is I I. I I got a teacher who taught me, and she was at Monterey University and her name actually, which is unusual, is exactly the same name as my wife's name, although she was Peruvian and she's. They're the only two people I've ever met in my life who have that name, which is Maritza, as you mentioned. Yeah, and she's a very common name. So, and then, being being an engineer, what I did? To learn the learn conjugations, as I wrote code that asked me questions in different verb tenses, and I just practice. Yeah so I learned how to say that. You know, I will be doing that and I should have done that and all these right. So that's what I did for the learn Spanish. And then I traveled, and traveled, and traveled, and I talked to people yeah, so my newest hobby is paint by numbers.

Speaker 2:

I'm not sure if it'll take me anywhere. I'm kidding I do. I do love doing it. Well, those are great, great pivots. Thank you for sharing. Yeah, our second question is give us your best principle of success and tell us a story that illustrates this.

Speaker 1:

Well, I wish there was thinking about that, principles of success. I wish there was only one, because then life would be easy, because Sometimes you have to adapt yourself to the circumstance and different principles will apply in different situations. Yeah, a different degree, but there's been, I would say, three or four things that I really concentrate on. One is what I call Integrity, and what I by integrity I mean leaving things whole, and I don't mean like, oh my god, you, you said something wrong, you meet, you did something immoral, you're a bad person. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about Leaving things whole so that that, and when you don't think you're gonna do something, you tell the people who are affected by that as soon as you know. So it's not about being perfect, but it's just having your situation be whole, so that there's because whenever you find in your life something's not working, you'll often find connected to that, there's something that's incomplete, there's not that's unhaul, there's things unsaid or or there's things unsaid or there's Shortcuts taken in the background and that, and so that's a really big principle that I use. Another one is that I focus on is is how would I put this? It? Kind of connection with people. So relatedness, relationships, networking, and which is probably one of the ones that I've struggled with the most of my life Is just being being connected and staying in relationship with people, because other people Help one another, and so you have mentors and you become a mentor and you have people. Other people have solved your problems often, okay, and so there is or other people have problems that you can solve for them, which is kind of what a business is, and so that's another one I would say it's important. The other thing is Great ideas can be exciting, but you have to kind of keep them in existence, okay. So when you have an, you have an idea, you want to measure and test and understand what's the status. So if I have, if you have, a project, okay, well, how am I going? Do I have goalposts? Do I have meeting schedule? Do I? Do I know who I'm meeting? Do I have proper in little practical things and sometimes big? Who's involved in this project? Where is the data? Is it organized? Who do I talk to? When are these things? And so you kind of want to keep things in existence and measure results right, and that's One thing. So it's another principle. And the last thing kind of relates to the first comment you made about having fun. Is another principle. I would say is is kind of that fun or engagement, enrollment, so you speak to people that in a way that Brings brings and doesn't have to be nice to people, or it can be even in the if you give criticism, but if you you speak to people in a way that causes them to see what's possible for themselves in whatever project you're doing. Yeah, and that's not, that's a real skill that I had to practice a lot to learn how to do that Right, and I don't even know if I'm good at it yet. I would say those are the kind of things that I really kind of focused on.

Speaker 2:

Those are really great. I usually have the one best principle of success, but I love yours. I love just passing on integrity and being connected and keeping ideas in existence. There are people out there that just they're the ideas and they just throw them and then they walk away. You're like hello, but to actually project, manage that idea.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, exactly, and sometimes I was just walking around and asking people so where are we at and how did this go and what have we achieved? Okay, you went to a conference in London. Who did you meet? What are their phone numbers Right, things like that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I love it. I think of something I'm working on right now and I need to think of those principles of success. I need to put my head down and map it out. I'm a mind mapper, so I love it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you kind of asked me there and I don't know if I've answered it yet. You said to give an example of those leadership principles, I would say like I don't know if this is a good example or not, but it's always strapped with me. I've always come as a leader, I've always come with kind of this. I try to come, and always is the wrong word because I'm a human being. But at my best I'm coming from a position of love, and love for people and love for the business. And obviously it doesn't happen every day because I'm a human. But I can think of a time once where I had a staff member who had an area to do, something that was within her or his specific job description and the staff person just simply said no, I refuse to do that, I'm not going to do that, Go away. And instead of coming at that situation with like, oh, I'm the boss, you must or you'll be fired, or something like that, I just said I really thought about being in a position of love and I just said do you see how unhappy you're making yourself right now? And that's all I said. Right, and in that moment it was the right thing to say in that moment. I'm not saying that for every situation, but obviously the work got done and when my son was talking about was born, that staff member bought him presents and so it wasn't long after that conversation and so she was impacted by that. So that's kind of this. That last one I'm talking about about enrolling people in what's possible.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I think of just caring leadership. Yeah, you know, it makes a great sense. As I said, I'm working on a project right now. I'm trying to answer that because the experts will come back and give us an answer. But is it what's right for the people? And I have to ask myself that, is this right for my team? Is this right for my community? I have to ask myself a very personal question.

Speaker 1:

So it's a great answer.

Speaker 2:

I will continue on to the next question. So I think we all know we learn more from our failures and mistakes than our successes, and it's very hard. Would you share one of your greatest failures or mistakes and what you learned from it?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, just one. I was going to come on here and talk about my good things. Yeah, I would say the thing. I would say it's been a failure. The thing I struggled with the most because I'm kind of I can easily become a math geek is I have to. Sometimes I'll disappear and forget. I've disappeared and forgotten to stay in touch with customers because I'm living in this engineering world. You know and so then you've been business related and I've had business relationships weekend right, and you get open to competitors right, and so I would say that's something. What I've learned from that is Well, when you're a leader, you have to deal with areas of your life that you're not good at.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Right, it's just a fact of life, and when you make mistakes, you, you, you, well, you, you figure out. You look at yourself and see what was it about yourself that had you not be engaged the way you should have been, and and then, and then find the way to not have that not happen and be aware that that's your kind of default manner is to yeah. Right and to kind of. You have to make yourself step out of the kind of the machinery of living and be active in generating yourself, and even when it's not fun or interesting because it's not your natural to you.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah. So I think of you know anyone listening and just disappearing and forgetting and it's just ignoring. You know we don't want to handle that. We're, you know, maybe and maybe, and I think you know I don't know in your instance but it was it out of your wheelhouse? Was it too much for you? Was it? Was there something we all have so much going on in our lives? Right, If it's personal, and I think sometimes we need to grant the grace, grant grace as well. And, and you know, like Leonard, you didn't get this done, are you okay? Yeah, you know, there's two different ways.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it is. You definitely. I mean, I mean I've seen I've been in this company 30 years and I've seen our best people make mistakes, including myself. So you, when people make mistakes, you, you, you, it's actually the best training they're getting Right. And you, you should have systems in place that prevent mistakes Anyone individual mistake from like seriously causing harm. Right, and sometimes things kind of grind over time and you make the mistake without really noticing and then the problem shows up and you're like and you didn't have your eye on the ball. All right and for me it's definitely in that area of relationships and staying connected with people. Yeah, I have to work at that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I think COVID was. I mean, we're out of it, you know, but we all sort of cocooned and we stepped back and we became this zoom environment and it's really easy now to hide behind this. Yeah, I mean, we're in different cities. So, but it's really easy to you know. Just, I'll just zoom. Yeah, I won't why go personally meet with you, or we need to build those relationships because your competitor is just going to. You know.

Speaker 1:

Exactly, and you got to sustain them, and you got to keep them in existence, right. I love that existence principle I talked about. You have to make the relationships and then you got to keep them in existence.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, good one. All right, do you want to keep doing more on there? You want to continue?

Speaker 1:

No, this is great. I mean, I'm having fun actually.

Speaker 2:

Good Good, you are meant to have fun. So at Leader Impact we want to grow personally, professionally and spiritually for increasing impact. So would you be willing to share an example of how the spiritual makes a practical impact or practical difference in your life as a leader?

Speaker 1:

Well, I think that example I gave you a few minutes ago about bringing love, yeah, I think that's a really good example of kind of life as a spiritual thing. Even though you know we're calculating these machineries and pressures and flow rates and all these interesting oil and gas things, Fundamentally that love is kind of the spiritual space that I try to be in, and so I would think that's kind of an example that's always stuck with me and it impacted me.

Speaker 2:

So, yeah, I can see that. I can see you're a very caring I mean in this whole interview and in your best principles of successes and you hold the ideas of pivotal turning points. You have so many and I think you've always seen them as positive, like I think there's. I'm going to do this. I don't know why I'm learning.

Speaker 1:

Spanish.

Speaker 2:

You know and you just, your mind is open and I wonder sometimes if anyone listening goes. I can't do that.

Speaker 1:

I, you know we close the doors before we even looked you know, you know, and that's something you know I, that's something I had to learn to like. I kind of you know that met that little voice in our head that tells us, I don't know how right you know, that little voice in our head that says, well, I don't know how I can't do that, other people know better. I'm going to sit here and watch the experts right and just take what I can. That little voice is not always our friend, right?

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

You know no.

Speaker 2:

I think, did you ever grow up watching the Flintstones?

Speaker 1:

Oh, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

And the little angel and the little devil.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, oh, I think of that often.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

That voice, just you. I don't know how you think that voice. I don't think you how you could think you can do this, or you know.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Go do it. Yeah, yeah. But I think of back even to your principles of success. You talked about relationship and connectedness. We need to surround ourselves with people that are either move us along, help us. In return, we give them love, right, yeah, it's who we're surrounding ourselves with. I think of people who you know they crap on you or they're, and you want to love them. Yeah, you're going to love you and it's hard sometimes, but you sound like you're again having a great time and your answers are great, Okay.

Speaker 1:

Thank you.

Speaker 2:

So the last two answers we ask all our guests is back to leader impact, and I know you are a member in Calgary, is that right? Did I say it Okay? So I mean you know we're dedicated to leaders having a lasting impact. And so, as you continue to move through your own journey and it sounds like an awesome one have you considered what you want your faith legacy to be when you leave this world?

Speaker 1:

Yeah Well, you well, I'll. Sometimes I've thought about that. I've never really thought that I need to be remembered. Okay, and I leave this world, I'll leave, I'll die, and I don't really have the big desire to be famous or remembered in that way. Yeah, I guess with a faith. Thing is I didn't grow up as a Christian and I came to it as an adult, and so I know that at our home, my wife and I have created a Christian home for our children, and so that legacy will be there and I think that's going to be my main faith legacy, to be honest, just in my home life and my children and my kind of extended family. But I think that's going to be where it'll be, probably.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I love that because it is our children. If we just change, you have a son and a daughter, two little lives. Those two little lives will make four lives, and you know what I mean. It has to start somewhere and I've done the same thing. I was raised in a home that had church every Sunday and that was about it, and I married a man who had faith and love and had a relationship, and that's how we're raising our children.

Speaker 1:

So that's a good one, yeah, and I was surprised like how big an impact it has on children because, although you can always tell, they do pay attention to what they're hearing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And they listen in church and Sunday school. They listen in a different way than they listen to parents and because I didn't grow up with any of that and so I didn't know what it would be like. But my wife is, you know, she's very deeply, deeply faithful person, deeply believing person, and so you know she went to a school with nuns and these kind of things, and so she was used to all that. But for me it was new and I didn't know what would happen. You think about things like well, what are their friends going to think in school If they miss hockey because they're in church, right? Like what does that do to their lives? Right. But like it's been great, it's been a really good benefit for them.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you comment that the kids are listening to you. I think they're also watching you, so they're watching you and your relationship with your wife. They're watching you. When you come home from work and talk about people. They're watching you with your friends.

Speaker 1:

You know, yeah, yeah, exactly. I'm thinking about that because I'm talking to my son about going to university and I'm trying to avoid coaching him. I don't think they listen and they'll take things from the hockey coach or the piano teacher that they won't take from the parents and really implement them, and I don't know what the I don't. I wish I was like a deep psychologist. I don't understand exactly why, but kids absorb through osmosis from their parents more than through words.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And they watch you in action right, and they feel you and they sense your inner motivations and your inner bad things, whatever the word is, your inner self. They sense that more and that affects them more, I think, than a lot of the quote words that we give them.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it is so true. I love when you talk about the coach and those other people, that the kids, they'll listen to them, they'll tell our coach. Can you please tell our son that he needs to clean toilets and we used to joke because the coach said it You're not your mother, you know it's funny.

Speaker 1:

I did a course I did a landmark course once and that one of the tasks we had to take on was to leave every bathroom cleaner than when we walked in. Oh, you made me think of that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I don't know. I don't know what my son's going to do now that he's moving away. Maybe he'll be the guy that cleans the toilets for all the guys in the house, yay, anyway. So my last question all my guests, I love this one. What brings you the greatest joy?

Speaker 1:

Well, definitely learning. I love learning, overcoming kind of challenges, not problems, but challenges, you know, not like, oh I got to go, my car had a flat and I have to go make this meeting and I don't know vehicles or something like that, not those kind of problems, but like figuring out a solution to a problem. I mean I just like and there's little things, you know I like the travel, I like the travel and family time and being with my wife. I like that. But just being exuberant about life and being exuberant about what's possible, that brings me a lot of joy.

Speaker 2:

I love that. I'm a solutions person. I love the old computer programming if this, then what you know and I'm a solutions based person. So I never really thought about do I love the challenge or do I love the. You know, maybe I just love the challenge. It's sometimes really hard, though which goes right back to all the things. When I ask you snapshot of your life and pivotal points. You had a lot of things and I'm sure you weren't going to come at all of them. You know you start something. It's like this is really hard. I'm going to keep going, I think that's really hard for people. We want to be perfect, and when we're not perfect, I'm quitting.

Speaker 1:

Well, I remember, like first, my first physics exam. I failed, right, because it was so much harder in high school and I was like holy smokes, this is not easy, right? And but I kept going, right yeah.

Speaker 2:

That's really good. Yeah, well, it has been a fabulous half hour spent with you, leonard. I hope that went well with you. Get all your answers out.

Speaker 1:

We can always talk about ourselves you know I should interview you one day.

Speaker 2:

Okay, I think how would have I answered that? And every time I hear stories and that's why I love showing up here is I think we put presidents fight, we put them up on a pedestal and we, we don't think you have problems and we don't. We think your life is awesome and you can just buy everything, and I don't know, and it's. It is good to just sit down and hear the simple principles of success and the pivotal turning points, and they're just like everybody else's. You know, yeah, but. but I and I remember being young and putting my boss on a pedestal and thought, you know, oh, I shouldn't, I shouldn't say that to them and afraid.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And so I love showing up here.

Speaker 1:

Well, you know thank you, I've really enjoyed this.

Speaker 2:

Awesome. So if anyone is listening and they want to engage with you, where can they find you, you know?

Speaker 1:

Oh sure, my name will be somewhere in your description notes. Yup, yeah, so they can just go on LinkedIn and if they just put in the name and the name of my company, glj LinkedIn, you'll find me and just message me.

Speaker 2:

Awesome.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Maybe there'll be some follow-ups on engineering, or I mean, I think I should just set up a Zoom with my son. It's like he, you know, first year they don't have to choose. Right. The engineering it well at university, don't so? He likes his chemistry though, so who knows? Yeah, yeah, all right. Well, thank you again, Leonard. It has been an absolute pleasure waiting you.

Speaker 1:

It was great, great to speak with you, lisa. I appreciate this chance to be with you. It was really fun.

Speaker 2:

Thank you. I want to thank everyone for joining us. If you're part of Leader Impact, you can always discuss or share this podcast with your group. And if you are not yet part of Leader Impact and would like to find out on how to grow your leadership, visit our podcast page on our website at LeaderImpactca or check out our free leadership assessment. You will also find on our webpage chapter one of Braden Douglas's book Becoming a Leader of Impact. It is an amazing leadership book. You can also check out groups available in Canada at LeaderImpactca or, if you're listening from anywhere else in the world, check out LeaderImpactcom or get in touch with us by email at info at LeaderImpactca and we will connect you. And if you like this podcast, please leave us a comment, give us a rating or review. This will help other global leaders find our podcast. Thank you for engaging with us and remember Impact starts with you.

Leadership Journeys and Pivotal Turning Points
Success Principles and Learning From Failure
Reflections on Mistakes and Relationships
Legacy, Faith, and Parenting
Join Leader Impact for Leadership Growth