Over the years, I have met some amazing businessmen and women. Three of them — RJ Jensen and his daughter Julie and Barry Salzberg — have given me helpful “words of wisdom.” With this blog entry, I send their insights your way.

RJ Jensen was a self-made man and a consummate entrepreneur who created many successful companies. His family has been involved with LAYC for over a decade, having made significant investment in LAYC’s success throughout several stages of our growth and development. RJ was famous for his short and to-the-point advice: RJ-isms, as family and friends affectionately called them. A few of my favorites:

01The more you lead, the more you serve.
Daily, I repeat this to myself as it grounds my values.

02I’ll take all the help I can get.
Particularly important these days!

03What is the biggest room in the world? Room for improvement.
LAYC’s commitment to using data for improved outcomes exemplifies this RJ-ism.

04Do something, even if it’s right.
Don’t become immobilized by complexity, and trust your intuitions.

05You can’t roll back the sausage machine and get a pig.
I interpret this to mean that once action is taken, there is no turning back. Those of you in rural communities — RJ lived in rural Nebraska for many years — may have additional insights; please share.

06Hoe to the end of the row.
Get the job done!

07By knowing one’s limits, one becomes limitless.
An ED can do only so much. LAYC is a stronger organization due to our engaged Board of Directors and competent senior management team.

08Remember the 11th Commandment: “Thou shall not B.S. thyself.”
I would add a 12th Commandment: Thou shall not take thyself too seriously.

09It matters not whether a man/woman thinks he can or he can’t; s/he’s right.
In these challenging times, just give it your best try.

Not a day passes that I don’t look at this list and find one or more RJ-isms relevant to the circumstances I face at LAYC. RJ Jensen’s wise words help to focus me, keep my “eye on the prize,” and always put a smile on my face as I remember a man who believed in me and LAYC’s work.

His daughter Julie — social entrepreneur, mother, friend, and member of LAYC’s Board of Directors -carries RJ’s crisp wisdom, spirit, and business talent. I often call Julie for advice, for consolation during challenging moments, or to get a feel for how a successful business woman would handle a situation. The other day, I was expressing angst over something I had done, second-guessing myself, and coming up with multiple scenarios for how I could have acted differently. Coolly and calmly, Julie said, “Lori, look forward; never look back!” I can always count on Julie to cut through to the essence of the moment.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting convened for CEOs and emerging leaders by the Roundtable of Non-Profit Excellence and sponsored by Deloitte, LLP. Barry Salzberg, Managing Partner of Deloitte, LLP, took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about leadership. This was the first time I had heard him speak. He gave wonderful interactive remarks and then presented us with a copy his book, 10 Things about Tough Times. I will share with you the headlines:

Switch Gears; Find a Way to Win; Be There for Clients; Project Confidence and Reach Out; Tell it Straight; Cost Cutting Alone Won’t Cut It; Out-Navigate, Outmaneuver, Out-Think; Make Every Day Count; Refresh; and Put First Things First.

Another of Barry Salzberg’s books entitled 10 Things about People is equally insightful.

Over the years, I have read Jim Collins’s books and many others on leadership, management, and strategy. These books, valuable as they are, often sit on my bookshelf. My RJ-isms and 10 Things about Tough Times are pinned to my bulletin board right next to my desk. I glance at them often throughout the day, think about these successful businesspeople, enjoy their helpful hints, and thank them for helping me get through my day.

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