Leadership With Character-Joshua Birkholz

“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.”-Norman Schwarzkopf


Joshua Birkholz Presenting

To say that I look up to my brother Joshua is an understatement. Intelligent calm and collected he has character traits I always dreamed of having. Recently he shared with me this presentation he gave.

“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost;
character is lost, all is lost”-Billy Graham

Now, when you meet my brother you will see a man of integrity, one who carries a great smile and positive attitude at all times. Non-confrontational and very rarely a pot-stirrer he has run a successful team at his firm for years. For all of his career accomplishments he he best known for being Tracy’s husband and the father to my crazy cool nieces. Here is a link to his presentation in pdf format…. Leadership with Character

I wish I had him on video, however, imagine the coolest most collected and dynamic ted talk and you will have Joshua Birkholz.


Joshua M. Birkholz is a principal at Bentz Whaley Flessner, where he oversees specialty consulting services. His team includes experts in development operations, prospect development, social media, constituent engagement, and analytics. Josh is founder of the BWF analytics division, DonorCast.

He has streamlined fundraising infrastructure and ushered organizational change for leading non-profits in higher education, healthcare, the arts, advocacy, and social service sectors throughout the United States and beyond. He is widely regarded as a leading innovator in 21st-century development strategies. And, he is the author of the sought-after book, Fundraising Analytics: Using Data to Guide Strategy.

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Leadership Lessons

To say the past couple days have been rough is an understatement. I have had a couple meetings, calls and emails that have drastically changed the course of events and “my plans”. Luckily, a friend gave me this list to read. It helped me to refocus and realize where I could be better, where I could do better, and that to be successful I need to be a servant leader. Time to swallow my pride and start fresh. So here my friends is the list:

9 Leadership Lessons

from My Visit to West Point


Last week I had the honor and privilege to speak at West Point. After spending the day interacting with coaches, cadets and the USA basketball team, I learned far more than I taught. Here are a few of the leadership takeaways:

1. It’s a Leadership Factory – Some factories build products. West Point builds leaders. One of the Colonels told me “The history we teach is about the people we have taught.”

2. Leadership can be Developed – While the people selected to go to West Point have demonstrated leadership qualities during their young life they are by no means a finished product. Everything West Point does is geared towards developing these young men and women into leaders. Leadership is a skill and it can be developed. Your organization may not be West Point but you can invest in your people now and develop them into your future leaders tomorrow. I am a huge believer in leadership development programs and organizations that grow and develop leaders from within.

3. Leadership and Service is a Choice – The young men and women who attend West Point made a choice to lead and serve. You and I can make the same choice each day. We may not lead and serve in the military but we can choose to lead our teams and serve a cause greater than ourselves.

4. Leadership is Both Macro and Micro – Macro-leadership involves culture, vision, strategy, and the ability to lead at the organization level, while micro-leadership involves leading at the team and individual level. Macro and micro leadership require a different set of skills. When a cadet graduates West Point most are technically better at macro-leadership than micro-leadership. Like many leaders and managers in the civilian world they have to learn to coach, lead and build their team at the micro level. When thinking about your own leadership it’s helpful to think about leading at both the macro and micro level. Today more than ever micro-leadership is essential to build winning teams and organizations.

5. Coaching is Leadership – Upon graduating from West Point a cadet will commission as an officer and be placed in a place to lead a platoon. They are advised at West Point to listen to the advice of their non-commissioned officer (NCO) who is often an expert at micro-leadership (coaching). I had an officer tell me that when he arrived to lead his platoon, his NCO coached him and gave him leadership advice behind the scenes that made all the difference with his platoon. It reminded of what my friend Brendan Suhr often says, “Coaching is leadership.” Brendan was the assistant coach to Chuck Daly for the NBA Champion Detroit Pistons and the original US Olympic Dream Team. Brendan wasn’t considered the leader but he coached up to the leader and coached down to the team. Because of him both the leader and the team were successful. Coaching is leadership.

Jon Gordon and Gunnar Carroll6. Vision is Powerful – I ate lunch with Gunnar Carroll who was the captain of Army Baseball team last year. Gunnar said to keep his team inspired during the year he would often talk about the vision they had at the beginning of the season. It’s a great example that one of the most important things a leader can do is to frequently share the vision and inspire everyone to keep moving towards it. When you keep your vision alive, it keeps you alive and energized.

7. Failure is Necessary – At West Point everything is designed to make cadets fail. They know that through failure most cadets will become stronger, wiser and better. Those who don’t grow from failure are the ones who quit. Just like life it’s a weeding out process that separates the contenders from the pretenders. Everyone fails but those who learn and grow from it eventually thrive. Those who allow failure to define them and give up unfortunately don’t become all they are meant to be. Failure is a gift if you are willing to learn and grow from it.

8. You Don’t Have to be in the Military to be a Servant Leader – Before I spoke to all the athletes and coaches I listened to Boo Corrigan, the West Point Athletic Director, give a speech. Boo has never severed in the military but he told all the athletes that his role was to serve them, create the right environment for them and give them what they need to be successful. It was honest, sincere, and a powerful display of servant leadership. You can do the same and implement the three greatest leadership strategies of all: Love, Serve and Care. Read The Carpenter to put this into action.

9. Feeling is More Powerful than Hearing – I’ll be writing about this next week. It’s one of the most powerful stories I’ve ever heard.



I hope that this helps you as much as it has helped me.


Have a great day my friends and Make It Happen.

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Tonka Truck and Nostalgia-Love This Truck!

Relive your childhood, test drive today.

ford f150 trucks in stillwater mn area

F-Series Tonka Truck Cox Motors

Tonka, the word brings back waves of nostalgia. Hours of fun spent in the backyard bulldozing and creating cities in the dirt.


The sandbox has changed and the toys have gotten bigger. Your childhood is back and here at Cox Motors in New Richmond. Re-live your childhood and create new memories with the Tonka Truck F-Series.
minnesota state fair tonka truck
Nothing will stop you, nothing will slow you down…. Get it at Cox Motors…



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Your Sarcasm is Refreshing

I joke around, a bunch, more than most. That is why when I see someone who is as sarcastic as me I feel instantly refreshed…. sometimes it starts a bromance that will never end…. So How do I feel when people are not offended by my sarcasm? Kinda like this:

Ice Bucket

Ice Bucket

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Loyalty Marketing MTADA Presentation

I just wrapped up my Loyalty Marketing Discussion at the Montana Auto Dealer’s Association 100 anniversary meeting. Right away dealers began asking for a copy of my presentation. So here it is.MTADA-Loyalty Marketing

Loyalty Marketing mtada

Micah Birkholz Sharing Loyalty Marketing Strategies

“What is the lifetime value of a customer? How much do they spend on average with their dealership? Why do some dealerships have ridiculously loyal customers and others have coupon shoppers and that’s it? In Loyalty Marketing: The Missing ingredient you will learn how organizations across the country in both big and small markets are killing it with their loyalty marketing programs. You will learn what “customer loyalty” really is and how to effectively create a program to launch in your own store. Why is loyalty marketing an ingredient you need? You will see case studies that show a loyalty marketing program assisted a dealer group earn an additional $4.6 million in the service drive. You will see how dealerships in snowy and cold mn sold an additional 250 units in the month of january. Loyalty Marketing is the missing ingredient your dealership needs. “
A little about MTADA:

The Montana Automobile Dealers Association is made up of 119 franchised new car and truck dealers in Montana. The association and its members strive to uphold the highest standards of honesty and integrity and continuously work together to improve the car buying experience for Montana consumers.

Montana Automobile Dealers Association was organized in 1939 to promote a high plane of business ethics for those engaged in the retail motor vehicle business; to encourage and promote a spirit of cooperation among motor vehicle dealers and their affiliation and support of local associations and the National Automobile Dealers Association so that the interests of all motor vehicle dealers and the general public, in relation thereto, may be best served; to encourage and assist in the information of local associations and seek to merit co-operation and approval; to endeavor to raise to the highest degree of standards, ethics, and practices of motor vehicle merchandising to the end that the trade, through efficient management, may enjoy the opportunity of profitable operation and the building up of financial security; to seek through cooperative efforts the correction of any unfair or unbusinesslike practices; to conduct such investigations, studies, and researches as may be necessary and advisable to compile factual data and gather information, the knowledge of which will be useful and valuable to the trade toward improving efficiency of its operations; to issue such trade publications as the Board of Directors may authorize; to promote drivers, street, highway, and traffic safety. http://mtada.com/







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Servant Leadership, Coaching and Management

Are we Leaders or just Managers? Great question that many people ask of themselves and those above them in the hierarchy of their business. If you walk into any bookseller or shop online in Ibooks or the Kindle store you can find literally hundreds if not thousands of titles that address this. When you read and truly study this you will find there is a huge disparity between the two. I strive to be a leader in my industry.

I do not have a huge multi-million dollar company, I don’t have oem contracts that dictate what I do… What I do have is the ability to affect positive change and understanding in an industry that has provided well for my family and has given me the opportunity for personal growth. I do all that I can to pay it forward.

In “You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader” Mark Sanborn shares great insight into how attitude separates Mangers from true Leaders. “The Way of The Shepherd”breaks down philosophies to best look out for your team and the skills one needs to be an effective Leader. These books were recommended to me by a leader who I consider to be a great mentor, friend and yes he is my “manager”.

John C. Maxwell shared a humorous story that I have shared below in his book“Developing the Leader Within You”. After reading it I thought back to my saturday morning sales meetings at my hometown Ford store. I have adjusted it slightly:

During a Saturday morning sales meeting at the local dealership, the General Sales Manager was berating the sales staff for their dismally low sales for the month. “I’ve had just about enough of poor performance and excuses,” he said. “If you can’t do the job, perhaps there are other sales people who would jump at the chance to sell cars here.” Then, pointing to a newly recruited, retired pro-football player, he said. “If a football team isn’t winning, what happens? The players are replaced right?”

The question hung heavy for a few seconds; then the ex-football player answered, “Actually, sir, if the whole team was having trouble, we usually got a new coach”

So the question remains, Are we leaders or managers?

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Passion and Insanity In the Car Business

I have met thousands of salespeople who say they are passionate about selling, truth is they are not, they are passionate about making money. Passion. Truth is that word sickens me, it is a buzzword that has been over used time and time again. Passion is suffering…. passion is not excitement. You know the definition of insanity? If you silently answered to yourself, “it is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result” congratulations you are stupid. That is not a definition of insanity, it is an example, a word picture to provoke thought…. What is insanity?
Here you go:

  1. the state of being seriously mentally ill; madness.
    “he suffered from bouts of insanity”
    synonyms: mental illness, madness, dementia; More

    • extreme foolishness or irrationality.
      plural noun: insanities
      “it might be pure insanity to take this loan”

Now you might think I am stirring the pot again… but I am not. Right now I am not ranting, no I will leave that to others out there… I am not calling out another vendor who cares more about a contract than the client… no I am not doing that… I am not going to call out another time in which a company let go a superstar and kept a brown noser… No I am not doing that. No I am not talking about managers asking their employees to take cash advances on their company cards to buy lap dances… no I am not talking about that…

Now I am venting. This is an unformational post that I am using to keep focus. I am writing this to maintain my sanity. I am writing this not just for you in the odd hopes you might be slightly entertained, but more so that I do not get another lecture about burning bridges with companies I have no respect for. I love car dealerships. i love working with people to help them get better, I love to learn in the process and see where I need to improve.

I have made many many mistakes and I am sure I will make many more… But I learned listening to the wise words of the Eye of the tiger:  this simple lesson:

This meme has 0 to do with this post

This meme has 0 to do with this post

Risin’ up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance now I’m back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive

So many times it happens too fast
You trade your passion for glory
Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive

It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watchin’ us all with the eye of the tiger

Have a great night my friends…

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