Insider Influence: Episode 8 with Brett Golliff

Brett Golliff wakes up early and gets to the office at least an hour before anyone else at 7 a.m. He then spends at least an hour journaling and taking time to “center” himself with freewriting about anything on his mind. Following journal time, Brett takes time to draw—either on paper or on his iPad—whatever he feels like drawing at the time. More often than not, he finds himself sketching shoe concepts. Somewhere amongst these morning activities, he also makes it a habit to run at least 3 miles three times a week.

Home Sweet Home

This installment of Insider Influence takes us to Sutton’s Deli in our hometown of Angola, where on the sign next to the cash register lists the daily specials alongside a Bible verse—that day, it was Luke 12:20.

This is where Brett Golliff and I decided to meet on a sunny Saturday morning. I’ve known Brett since middle school, and he has always been known as the artistic guy who was obsessed with shoes (Air Jordan’s in particular). Kudos to Brett, he has been able to take his passion and make it a career.

Fast-forward 10+ years later and Brett is the Global Color and Trim Manager for Chevrolet and a well-known sneakerhead and avid blogger. This was a completely different leadership interview than I’ve had to date due to Brett being an ultra-creative individual who utilizes a “dope” lexicon.

A “Shoe-In” for Success

Brett leads a team of creative individuals, which is unique to the Insider Influence series so far. What made his interview even more unique is that his team is located throughout the world.

“I am the only American on my team. My most important role is listening, making sure we can communicate ideas throughout the organization,” Brett explained. His “listening” role is even more crucial given the global setup of the company because each culture operates and receives criticism differently.

Now that I’m on a leadership team, I take great responsibility in knowing there is a direct correlation between my attitude and my team’s attitude when they go home at night.

Brett’s team lives by the motto, “Fail Fast”—at a glance, that may sound harsh, but it’s an encouraging saying that advises against keeping your ideas to yourself, and instead suggests that getting the idea out there so the team can blow it up and explore it will turn out better results. This is, again, unique to Brett’s position.

“Every day, I live the life of not knowing how people are going to react to my designs or ideas.”

brett-goliffLearning Through Experience

Throughout Brett’s career, he has had a number of impactful mentors—each of which had no idea were guiding him. From leadership during his time at Jordan and New Balance to his wife, many significant figures in Brett’s life have instilled qualities in him that he still utilizes today.

“As a young leader, having the courage to say ‘no’ and explain to the leaders above you why that’s the wrong path is essential. You have to have managerial courage,” Brett explained.

Brett now teaches young leaders how he was taught—through experience. “Everything comes through experience,” he said. “They shadow me and my counterparts. They get real hands-on training with absolute clear transparency on how I do things.” Brett also learned rather quickly that, if something isn’t in the best interest of the customer, it will come back to hurt the organization itself.

Two huge mistakes he sees leaders making in his industry are a) thinking they already know the answers to every question and b) having too many meetings or reviews.

Too many meetings allows you to put off decisions. Don’t misuse your time and value.

Brett has gone from being a uniquely gifted artist in school to a footwear influencer, to managing components of a global brand he loves. He has hung out with NBA stars, toured Michael Jordan’s house, and has thousands of followers eagerly awaiting his next post on his social platforms—yet he has never forgotten where he comes from.

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