Why I Joined OTA: A Heart to HEART with President Mike Richardson

Back in 2012 I first wrote about The New HEART of Business Success for the Vistage Research Center. I had published my book a year earlier (“Wheel$pin:  The Agile Executive’s Manifesto”, 2011) in which I had explored the key themes at the heart of sustained business success, which fit beautifully with the HEART acronym. I have also since written more about that in LinkedIn:  Let’s have a Heart to HEART about Sustained Business Success

Higher Order Strengths                      We have to master new complexities …

Execution                                             … for which the core is execution …

Agility                                                    … but these days it has to be agile execution …

Responsibility                                       … which takes full responsibility, with no excuses …

Traction                                               … for being in traction, avoiding wheel$pi

Little did I know that in November 2018 I would become the President of Online Trading Academy, which truly puts heart at the HEART of business success … our #1 core value is LOVE. 

Love in business? Yes, let’s have a heart to HEART about sustained business success. We must change our relationship with 3 crucial attributes of success.

Changing your Relationship with Love

We have all heard the kinds of sayings in business that “culture trumps everything”.  Cultures are built on the pillars of core-values which define who we are and how we behave.  Love is the most powerful core-value of all. 

At OTA we define love as the absence of fear.  Have no fear, when you operate inside the behavior boundaries of our core-values, you can expect unconditional support, no matter what.

Changing your Relationship with Failure

Love as the absence of fear removes the fear of failure. Those of you who are already students of agility know that one of the most pivotal principles of agile is to fail early, fail often, fail fast and fail cheaply. In other words, make the price of failure zero, which is not possible if love is not present. 

In my experience, no matter what the core-values say on the wall, the price of failure in most businesses is too high. To some degree, there is a fear of accountability, a fear of humiliation and a fear of embarrassment, whether you admit it or not. As a result, you tend to play it safe, or at least safer than you need and want to play, to be courageously driving innovation through experimentation through a willingness to fail.

Changing your Relationship with your Leadership Presence

As a result, you are collectively inviting fragility in your future not agility. My favorite question to ask CEOs and Executives is, “are you an Agile Leadership Presence or a Fragile Leadership Presence?”. When you walk into a room, what’s the aura of your leadership presence that walk’s in with you?  Agility, fearless courage and unconditional love? Or something less than that?  Or worse!

I am so excited to be opening a next chapter of my never-ending learning journey as a leader with such a special culture at OTA. What a great opportunity to continue changing my relationship with my leadership presence, failure and love. What about you? Your agility for sustained business success depends upon it!

Why I Joined OTA

Have you ever had that feeling that everything you ever did was preparation to do this? 

I have been lucky enough to experience that 4 times previously in my career (here’s the short story: Humans of OTA: Mike Richardson) and now again for a 5th time.  After 17 years as an independent facilitator, coach and mentor, including 15 years as a Vistage Chair and Speaker, I traded places to join OTA in the role of President. 

During my 17 years of independence, I worked with 100s of CEOs and executive teams across a broad range of businesses and industries, but none as special as OTA.  I wasn’t looking to get back into a full time … I was enjoying being independent, my business was growing every year and I was building momentum with my work and my profile … but OTA caught my attention as a once in a lifetime opportunity because of an intersection of some exceptionally special things.

  • A one of a kind founder/entrepreneur/CEO, Eyal Shahar.  I have experienced 1000s of founders, entrepreneurs and CEOs, up close and personal as a facilitator, mentor, coach, peer advisory group chair, workshop and keynote speaker.  I am not sure I have ever met one combining the visionary genius, leadership authenticity and personal humility and as Eyal Shahar … one of a kind.
  • A one of a kind business.  OTA has developed its unique brand and evolved its unique position over the last 22 years by standing tall as an educator committed to our students. We stand firm, believing that trading and investing education can help to make access to financial markets more equitable and participatory, for those who have the financial resources to do so, when the barriers to entry are lowered to be more inclusive. We ask our students:  1.  What’s your why?  Why  are you interested in exploring trading and investing as an option?  2.  What would you do if you knew? If you knew-what was involved in successful trading and investing?  If you knew-how to develop the skills?  If you knew-who can surround you with the support and community to help you go on the journey?  This is our why.  This is what we do … one of a kind.
  • One heck of a leadership team.  I have worked with many leadership teams, including my own in the Aerospace Division I used to run before going independent.  I loved that team and would work with them again at the drop of a hat.  I thought I would never experience a team which surpassed that … I was wrong. 
  • One very special core value and culture.  Culture trumps everything, built upon the pillars of core values and LOVE has been our #1 core-value for 15 years at OTA.  Whereas a culture of love is now becoming fashionable with more and more books and speakers talking the talk, we have been walking that talk for 15 years already. Thanks to our COO Gene Longobardi who originated the exercise back then of defining our core values and to our founder/CEO Eyal Shahar who insisted that Love was our #1 core-value. For us, it’s about unconditional love for everyone and everything as an absence of fear, an absence of egos and an absence of limiting beliefs … very special.
  • One of the earliest adopters of B-Corp.  OTA became a B-Corp in 2017 and there are still less than 3,000 certified B-Corps from more than 60,000 who have applied across 150 industries in 60 countries.  I have no doubt that the B-Corp movement is the future and it will increasingly breakthrough to becoming main stream.  I am proud that we are on the leading edge of that as a purpose driven and purpose led company.
  • One overarching passionate purpose.  Everything we do is driven by one overarching passionate purpose … of helping people define, believe and achieve their why … as a win/win/win proposition for our employees, our franchisees and, most importantly, our students.  Behind which we all align … one purpose, one passion.
  • One interwoven journey of Heart to HEART.  Progressively throughout my whole career, I have been getting clearer and clearer that there is one interwoven journey of an inner journey of heart and an outer journey of HEART.  Many of the businesses I have worked with tend to major in one and minor in the other, as an or-proposition, one or the other. Not at OTA.  We find the power of both, as an and-proposition, one and the other, traveling on the interwoven inner and outer journeys simultaneously, Heart to HEART.

I am a big believer in luck … it is one of the biggest factors in Agility that I reveal to people … except luck is a lot less random that we think … “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity” kind of thing.  When an opportunity presents itself where one plus one plus one … can equal 3 or 5 or 10 or … for which I feel prepared on so many levels and from so many angles … I have learned to follow my instincts.  That’s why I joined OTA … I am so glad to be here.