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Drive and Competitive Spirit: The Jimmy Blanchard Story Introduction In 2005, Jimmy Blanchard announced his retirement as the Chairman and CEO of Synovus Financial Corporation in Columbus, Georgia. He joined the bank in 1970 as president when he was only 28 years old and grew it from 200 employees and $100M in assets into one of the nation’s most successful and respected financial institution with over $33B in assets and 15,000 employees. The opportunity to become a banker and follow in his father’s footsteps came rather suddenly when his father passed away at a young age. Embracing this opportunity and challenge changed the course of his life. Synovus is a multi-state regional bank holding company with operations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina. By the time Blanchard retired, Fortune magazine consistently ranked the bank as one of the best places in America to work. It was also listed in the S& P 500 and was traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). During his tenure as Chairman and CEO, Blanchard also played an instrumental role in the founding of TSYS (formerly Total System Services), which was partially spun off (approximately 19%) from Synovus as a publicly traded company in 1983. In 2005, TSYS reported revenues of $1.5B. The company is listed on the NYSE and is a recognized global leader in electronic payments processing. TSYS holds the largest market share in the credit card processing segment of the market. At the end of 2007, Synovus completed the spin-off of its remaining 81% ownership position in TSYS and the firm was immediately added to the S & P 500. Blanchard serves as Chairman of the Executive Committee of TSYS and is a member of the Board of AT&T. Blanchard has also been a recognized figure in the local Columbus community, active at the state level in a variety of positions, including his service as Chairman of the Board of the Georgia Research Alliance and at the national level as Chairman of the Financial Services Roundtable. The Beginning Jimmy is the only child of James W. Blanchard and Paloma W. Blanchard. Both of his parents were Georgia natives. His father earned an Associate Degree from Augusta State College and his mother graduated from Shorter College. Jimmy’s father, James W. began his career in banking as a part-time employee with the C & S Bank in Augusta, Georgia. Once he graduated from Augusta State he accepted a position as a full-time employee and eventually worked his way up to vice president. He was transferred to the C & S Bank in Valdosta, Georgia where he was promoted to be president. At the time of the move to Valdosta, Jimmy was eight years old. James W. was a very large man physically with a reserved, serious, and in- control type of leadership demeanor. In 1957, he was asked to move again when he accepted the position of president of Columbus Bank and Trust (CB&T) in Columbus, Georgia. At the time, CB&T was just a small community bank in one of Georgia’s up and coming cities. While Columbus is only a little over three hours by car from Valdosta, the move brought with it many adjustments for the Blanchard family. In addition to his responsibilities on the business side, James W. became active in the Columbus community especially with the Chamber of Commerce and the United Way. He was also active in his church and he felt that community service was an important part of citizenship. Jimmy’s mother focused on the needs of the family. She was very outgoing and personable and the kind of person who didn’t forget people’s names. For Jimmy the move to Columbus came just as he was finishing the tenth grade. It meant leaving the home that he grew up in and a community that he knew and enjoyed. It was a challenging transition and for a brief period of time he felt the loss of the friends that he had grown up around in Valdosta. He also had to get out of his comfort zone to adjust to the new community and school in Columbus. With the benefit of hindsight, it was very beneficial to me as a person. [I had] to start over…and make friends. [I had to be] a little bit forward to make friends rather than just passively waiting for somebody to embrace me. Jimmy was upset about the move to Columbus and protested to his father that he didn’t plan to move. His father was unflustered with his son’s proclamation and in a very calm manner replied “ok, I will get you an apartment and you can stay here.” In many respects this was an unusual exchange for that era as children were expected to show a lot of respect and deference to their parents. However, James W. had a reputation for being unflappable and he wasn’t the kind of person that would lose his composure easily. Valdosta was a small close-knit community where people valued the time they spent with their family, football on Friday nights, and church on Sundays. It was also a community that valued and enjoyed athletic competition. It was very proud of its best athletes and it offered them lots of support and encouragement for their efforts. Growing up in Valdosta, Jimmy enjoyed a close network of friends that he played with through his involvement in the local YMCA, Boy Scouts, church and the schools that he attended. There were lots of opportunities to participate in organized sports and he was pretty active in all of them especially golf, football, basketball, and baseball. By the eighth grade, it was fairly clear he wasn’t going to fulfill his dream of being a standout in football. But in a community like Valdosta only a few would lay claim to that distinction. The community expected the high school football team to compete for the sate championship every year and it often did. Through football, however, he met someone that helped him to elevate his thinking about his options. The principal of the junior high school was coach of the football team [and] he was the first guy that ever gave me some insight into the fact that I might have some leadership skills and capabilities to do more than just go along with everybody else. We had conversations on the football field and throughout the school year where he sort of let me know that he was counting on me to do good and rise above the average. He might have been the first person to plant a seed in my mind that I might be special. I think that is a pretty important thing. With Jimmy’s disappointment in his future potential as a football player his father encouraged him to focus his energies on golf. He thought golf would be useful to his son in whatever career he chose to pursue. In the summers preceding high school, Jimmy spent a lot of time on the golf course practicing and refining his game. Eventually he developed a passion for the game and his drive and determination helped him to excel. By the time he was a freshman he played well enough to start on the varsity golf team. His high school golf team won the state championship during his two years on the team. Academically he was also a strong student though he didn’t have to push himself to receive good grades. He focused most of his energies on his athletic endeavors, which gave him a fair amount of recognition in school and the community. Jimmy learned a lot about discipline self-control and what it takes to be successful from his athletic endeavors. He is known by those who have worked with him as someone who is passionate about his work with a strong will to win. He is also known for being well prepared for his commitments. “He is about as fierce a competitor that I have ever seen...he figures out what it takes to win. As a result of that it causes him to be as thorough as anybody as I have ever seen. He is looking around curves, he is anticipating what may or may not go wrong. I have never seen him settle for less than the best.”~ Jimmy Yancey, former Chairman (ret.), Synovus When his family moved to Columbus, Jimmy joined the golf team at Columbus High. In his first year on the team they won the state championship. His success at golf eased his transition to the new school and community and gave him a real sense of accomplishment. By his senior year he was acclimated and he offered to run and was elected class secretary. When not playing with his friends he spent his time at home often dreaming about the next game or the next opportunity to compete. He enjoyed sports and he had a strong desire to compete The Blanchard family attended church on Wednesday nights and Sundays. We went to a Baptist church at the time… and I remember when I got very active and competitive in golf and on Sunday afternoons I would race to the golf course. I played after church because I knew that I had to finish up in time to get home take a shower and get back to church. Jimmy didn’t resist or resent going to church. It was very much a part of the fabric of his family and the community in which he grew up. He took church seriously and adopted it as a part of his approach to life as his parents had modeled for him. Even in college he would get up on Sundays and go to church. The church is now an important part of the lives of his children and their families. After high school, Jimmy attended the University of Georgia where he enrolled in a special six year joint BBA in business and J.D. in law program. He concentrated on his business school requirements in the first three years of college and then enrolled in the law school. Let me say this about college… I didn’t ever totally optimize my academic side, [but] I more than optimized my extracurricular leadership opportunities. I ran for the presidency of my freshman class [ of the University of Georgia]. Although I lost that election, I went on the Inter- Fraternity Council (IFC) from my fraternity as a freshman. As a sophomore, I was picked to get in the rotation to be President [of the IFC]. By that time, I was starting to emerge as somebody who wanted to do that kind of stuff and I guess was somewhat able to do it. I was in every club and every honor society and everything else there was at the time. When I became the president of the IFC, things just seemed to steam roll….I really majored in leadership and extracurricular stuff more than I did studies. Jimmy was also a ROTC cadet at Georgia and he opted to defer his commission until he graduated from law school. He passed the bar exam in the spring of his third year and entered the Army as a commissioned officer in the Finance Corp. After basic training, he was transferred to Fort McArthur in San Pedro, California for most of his term on active duty. I went into the Army and was there three months when the guy who ran the Finance Office…was transferred. And they said to me you have to run it. So here I am, I am three months in the Army and I have got 150 people working for me. I guess all of my training, all my experiences, all my activities and positions, plus my law degree gave me the confidence that you don’t have to know everything to run things. He returned to Columbus after his two-year tour of duty in the Army and joined one of the leading corporate law firms in the city. As a young associate he learned very quickly that he should have gotten more out of his time in law school. The first couple of years in the firm were very demanding. He spent extra hours during the week and on the weekend studying to keep up with the other associates and lawyers in the firm. Even as a new lawyer he was active as a volunteer in the community and served in several leadership roles. At the end of his third year at the firm his life changed dramatically, when his father died and he was recruited into the top job at CB&T. Bill Turner, the former Chairman of the Board of CB&T commented on the decision to appoint Blanchard as president. He had the enthusiasm and leadership ability and salesmanship and communications skills that made it possible for him to step in there and do the job. ~Former Chairman of the Board, CB&T (ret.) The leadership team at the bank at the time was very young and one of the people that he would develop a life-long relationship with was Jimmy Yancey. He was well-known as a young man as a real leader. He was known on- campus as a leader…I knew him as a guy who was very well respected and well thought of from a leadership standpoint. One of the things that I was impressed with was his down-to-earth style. ~Jimmy Yancey, former Chairman, Synovus (ret.) When he was first offered the position of president by the board, he turned it down. The board had wanted him to come in as an assistant to the President with the understanding that the board would make him the President when they felt he was ready to assume the top job. “I didn’t like the feel of that. And I think having a lot of people my own age and maybe a bunch of people older, my gut said when you are ready is a little indefinite. There are a lot of people that can probably put a lot of land mines in your path, and it just may not ever happen. I declined, I turned it down.” Eventually Blanchard accepted the second overture made by the board. They announced that he would serve for six months as an assistant to the president and become president of the bank at the end of that time. Rather quickly he developed a reputation as someone that embraced growth and change with a strong will to win. The first major decision that I faced was recognizing who were the real leaders in the company. Also simultaneous with that I recognized that we had some people just hanging on that were not positive for the company. They were kind of objects of ridicule and not looked on as constructive team members. I kind of inquired of about them and why they were still here and there wasn’t a very good answer and so we moved out a number of people. I think I established pretty early on that we weren’t going to just have people hanging on, we were going to run the race. I think historically that is what we’ve had, pretty good thoroughbreds that could tote their own load.” This was a change from the past and some people saw this as a real positive change while others did not. The naysayers say that he can get carried away on something. Other people say that he can get carried away and hit a grand slam. The way he looks at it is you’ve got to be trying things you’ve got to be moving, you can’t just do the status quo, you can’t stand still, you got to go to the next level. When you take [his] faith, hope, and charisma and you bring all of that [together], you have a powerful person that is willing to try things. ~Lee Lee James, Vice-Chairman, Chief People Officer, Synovus Blanchard is an optimist and he looks at a situation through the lens of what is possible. The people who easily embraced change quickly threw their support behind him and what he wanted to do. On the other hand, the people who preferred the status quo felt very uncomfortable with his approach and many of them eventually left the bank. He had that sense and feel and just knew that if you could energize and fire people up and show them what the finish line was and create that hope; people were good, they wanted to work, they wanted to be successful, they would make it happen. He was so much about creating that very special spirit of winning and energy and excitement, it allowed the Synovus team to do some very powerful stuff. ~Lee Lee James, Vice-Chairman, Synovus Blanchard is known as an inspirational leader: someone that is willing to put a bold statement out there and put every ounce of energy that he has into achieving it. He also connected well with the people around him. “He was a leader that was able to lead but yet identify with his team and meld with his team and become, not necessarily [be] one of them, but yes almost one of them. Especially, in terms of being around them and being engaged with them. He was very serious about his job...[And yet] he didn’t have any of that stuff that a lot of CEOs have that basically say I have to stay separated from this team. I can’t let them see who I really am. He was transparent, you knew he was. I think that made it a place where you were not afraid of slipping up. You were not afraid of making a small error. You knew that we had real people up at the top. And they understood what people were going through. You can talk to the youngest management trainee or to the most seasoned veteran and [they] all felt like they had a friend in Jimmy Blanchard as opposed to having a boss in Jimmy Blanchard.” ~ Jimmy Yancey When Blanchard and his management team started out in 1970 there were three local banks in the Columbus, Georgia market. The largest of which was the First National Bank of Columbus. The Bank was locally owned and perceived as having a stronger board, a strong base of investors, and a few more of the town’s most notable clientele. CB&T had created a buzz for itself seven years prior to Jimmy’s arrival when under his father’s leadership it became the first local bank to offer credit cards to its customers. Under Blanchard’s leadership that same spirit of innovation and change continued. In 1974, CB&T became the first local bank to offer automated teller machine (ATM) cards to its customers. Its larger competitor, the old First National Bank of Columbus didn’t offer credit cards until seven years later. In 1976, two years after offering automated teller machines, Blanchard and his management team played an active role in securing a change in Georgia’s banking law with the passage of the Multi-State Bank Holding Company Act. This piece of legislation opened up the possibility of owning banks in other locations. Under his leadership, CB&T was the first in Georgia to re-organize as a multi-state bank holding company and the first to utilize the legislation in executing a broad based acquisition strategy. Today, CB&T has $6 billion of assets in Columbus and what was the old the First National Bank of Columbus, which is now a branch of Wachovia, is only a $500 million dollar bank. “At the end of the day, I always said that the difference between us and them and I have to give Jimmy a lot of credit for this is we were always for something, and they were always against something. For instance, the bank holding company law in the ‘70s, we were for changing the law and easing the regulation on who could own what and what kind of expansion they could pursue.…As a result of fighting, they never did anything, they never did any acquisitions, we did….What we had was an attitude that we wanted to make things better….I think what basically separated us as a little old small Columbus, Georgia bank was a mindset that we could be more than that and that we were for changing things and we were developing our bank to be as good a bank as it could possibly be.” ~Jimmy Yancey Blanchard and his management team also felt strongly about staying the course, executing their strategy successfully and not settling for a quick sell- out to a larger financial institution. Blanchard had been president for five years when he started to focus on the bank’s culture. His management team was excited about the new banking environment that deregulation opened up. He embraced the bank’s ambitious acquisition strategy but he was concerned about the problems that lay ahead if they didn’t work on the culture as well. His thinking about the kind of organization that he wanted to create was influenced in part by the success of his predecessors. He also had a lot respect for the kind of business culture that the Turner family had created in their firm. In many ways, he wanted the Bank’s values to reflect the values and beliefs that he had learned at home growing-up: put other people first, treat others the way that you want to be treated, and take responsibility for your actions 100 percent of the time. The vision thing. In all fairness, I was obviously kind of the catalyst for the vision. But I never felt responsible for being a lone wolf and creating a vision. I created it as the head of the committee for the senior group. Jimmy Yancey, Lynn Page and other senior executives had a lot to do with creating the vision, strategy, and our approach. Lynn Page is rightly credited with the notion of creating TSYS and Jimmy Yancey was most responsible for our focus on the customer. I was more personally involved in driving the culture than I was the vision. For Blanchard, everything started with the employee or team member and he embraced instilling a winning positive mindset in the organization. Early on it was let’s win, let’s get ahead, let’s prosper, let’s be a high performance bank. We were not the biggest bank in town until probably 1977. When I took it in 1970 until 1977 we were [just] trying to get ahead of what is now Wachovia and then it was First National. It was a hustle, work hard make everybody have CB&T as their second choice. In other words, if they ever wanted to change banks it would be natural for them to come here [to us]. We were consistently aggressive. We were on the street knocking on doors. We had organized call lists and prospecting programs. It was not a random kind of, up and down, get excited and let it sag for six months. It was a constant pounding. And I have always said that in the towns where we have implemented that to its optimum that I would hate like heck to compete against Synovus. It is pretty normal for the other guys to run hot and cold. I pretty much inherited a culture that embraced service and give back to the community and appreciate the people that have given their careers to the company. Blanchard’s work on the culture was elevated to a new level in 1996 when the bank launched its new people strategy, modestly titled “Personally Developing Everyone” Strategy. In 1999, the strategy’s success was very evident in all aspects of the firm’s operations. In the same year, Fortune magazine ranked Synovus, No. 1, as the “Best Place to Work in America.” Since that time the firm has been highly ranked annually on Fortune’s list of the best. Bill Turner commented: This is probably Jimmy’s great contribution to our company. He developed a “we culture,” where it is a team effort. ~ Bill Turner Tom Cousins served as chairman of the foundation Board of the University of Georgia when Jimmy was chair of the fundraising campaign for the University. He has also served with Jimmy on several civic initiatives at the state level. He commented on those qualities that he thought made Jimmy a success. He is smart…great personality, it is easy to like and be around Jimmy and he wins people pretty quickly because of his personality. He is very competitive, what he sets out to do he pursues with vigor...[But] He is a regular guy. He is a man’s man who loves to hunt and fish and play. He is not hung up on appearances. He is for real. He is a strong family man…he is the greatest community man I have ever known…He is a motivated civic man with the ear of every politician around…He is frequently called upon to give the keynote at business prayer breakfasts and is very comfortable doing it. ~Tom Cousins, founder and retired Chairman and CEO, Cousins Properties Senator Sam Nunn has also worked with Blanchard on a variety of legislative and civic initiatives. He also served on the Board of TSYS with Blanchard. He commented: Jimmy is both creative and innovative, he adds to that an unbounded enthusiasm and optimism, so you put all of that in a package and it is dynamite. He is on top of the business side of it, he knows what is going on, and he drives the business. He is on top of the civic side of it and the public relations side of it. The reason he is so successful on those two and I called them scorecards is because he is so good on the human side of it. ~former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn The Family Jimmy had a very supportive relationship with his father but it was also a formal and respectful one, typical of the parent-child relationship of that generation. The child was expected to show respect and deference for authority and especially one’s parents. There was no question in my family who the boss was, it was my father, he was the boss. He ran the family and I did not want to cross him. I did not want to do something that would disappoint him or contradict what he had instructed me to do. I don’t know that I was scared of him, but it never occurred to me that I wanted to test him. Blanchard believes that respect for authority is important and for him this outlook began with his relationship with his parents and the values that he was taught growing up. Blanchard has a respectful but closer relationship with his sons reflective of today’s informality. They enjoy sports of all types and simply spending time together. This has given them a strong bond. When his sons were young he served as a little league coach in football and baseball in spite of the many demands on his time. To do so he had to optimize his time. His son, Billy remembers, “weekends and evenings, he always had a briefcase, he always had papers in his hand…he was always thinking, he was always reading… as well as engaging with the family.” While his sons knew he was busy and worked hard, they didn’t have a full measure of his responsibilities when they were growing up. “He shielded us from his career in a large way. I never knew really… who he was from a community perspective growing up until I got older. I didn’t realize he was president of the bank. I didn’t realize that he was as involved as he was in a lot of the civic, charitable and community stuff going on, and that he had the kind of influence that he had...I think that is a good thing, because he raised us in a little bit of a sheltered environment that didn’t focus on him and what he was up to.” ~Billy Blanchard, son His family is important to Jimmy and his sons have approached their family responsibilities in much the same way. His sons view him warmly as someone with a strong competitive drive, but compassionate in using his influence to help the community. “It takes a special person to do what he has done. I call it capacity. It is like he has twenty-eight hours in his day while the rest of us have twenty- four. What is so amazing about him is that he can be so driven himself but still allow me to be who I am. ~David Blanchard, son Whether it was just shooting hoops in the backyard or fishing, Blanchard enjoyed making a contest out of whatever they were doing together. Sometimes that meant scoring the most points in a backyard basketball game or catching the most fish. His oldest son, Jimmy, Jr. commented, “he loves competing and he was always competing with us.” He is an avid golfer. I think he looks at golf as a microcosm of life-the challenges of each hole and each shot and playing against yourself and handling the pressure and containing your emotion. I think he loves the game of golf for more than just the activity itself. ~Billy Blanchard For his sons Blanchard may have had his biggest impact on their perception of family and the importance of community service. We grew up in a pretty middle-class, average kind of home. Over the years he has accumulated a lot of wealth. But that was never his motivator. There were other things that did that for him. It wasn’t what we talked about and I really appreciate that. We all worked summers and learned the value of work. As we grew he was more and more able to do some things for us that others were not able to do for their kids…but never was it flashy or over the top, never was it out of control. We live very comfortably in our life, but we are not over the top and lavish with what we do and what we have and I want my kids to grow up the same way. Knowing what it is like to earn a dollar and spend a dollar. There is something in me that wants to serve the community and others. I think I saw him doing that and that is something that I have taken to in my role at the bank and hold as real value. [It is] something that is real important and something that I have been involved in. I have a desire to serve and help others and be able to influence things in the community. ~Billy Blanchard, son Observations Jimmy Blanchard is energized by competitive activity and he learned a lot about competing during his youth. Blanchard took learning the game of golf very seriously. He learned to appreciate the importance of study and practice, mental and physical preparation, change and adaptation, skill development and teamwork, as well as how to focus when faced with a significant challenge. He also took advantage of the strong support network around him. His coaches, trainers, teammates, friends and family helped him to refine his understanding of the game and become a better player. His success at golf was a team effort and he learned to appreciate the power of having a strong team around him. Blanchard’s personal leadership exposure and development began in earnest in the eleventh grade. To his credit he didn’t shy away from putting his name in for election for class secretary in high school. At an early age, he had the mindset to experiment and try new things. He went a step further in college when he ran for freshman class president. He lost that election by a wide margin. His opponent received over eighty percent of the votes. While he didn’t win, importantly he didn’t surrender. Instead he shrugged off the loss and moved into other leadership positions on campus and on the inter-fraternity council. Blanchard opened himself up to other opportunities and further learning and growth by staying the course. On the inter-fraternity council he had to partner and collaborate with others to be successful, a skill and competence that would serve him well in business. In the Army he would get a lucky break with his appointment as interim head of the Finance Unit. Was Blanchard just lucky? Perhaps, but in lots of ways he had prepared himself to embrace this opportunity and make it a success. Almost as a precursor to accepting the top job at CB&T, his experience in the Army enabled him to expand on his understanding of what leadership was all about with the 150 solders and civilian employees who reported to him. Leadership is not a passive activity, you can only learn it by doing it. All of Blanchard’s leadership roles in high school, college and the Army were different enough that he had to try new things and learn and grow as a leader at each stage. To his credit, he possessed the self-awareness and self- confidence needed to embrace these opportunities as well as the risks and challenge that came with each position. As the new President of CB& T, once again Blanchard was confronted with the need to learn and grow; adjust and adapt as circumstances changed; and take optimum advantage of the support network around him. He also brought to his role a passion that set the tone for his approach to leadership and the work of his management team. He recognizes and embraces the power of being dedicated and he expects that the people who work with him to bring that same commitment and intensity. Dedicated workers are not just more productive, but they also are more excited about what they are doing and their enthusiasm can be contagious and have a lot of positive effects on the organization. With a law degree and no formal experience in banking, Blanchard had a lot to learn on day one about the bank and the industry. While lots of people knew him in the community and they respected his father, he was still an outsider and unproven as a business leader. One of his great strengths is his willingness to listen and his ability to connect with people and to make them feel at ease. He looks for and is able to find the good in people. Blanchard was a willing student of the business as the new president and he focused his initial energy on creating an effective team. This impressed both the Board and his direct reports. For Blanchard, opportunity and risk go hand in hand. Within the first year of his tenure as president he was able to secure the Board’s support for the acquisition of a local mortgage company. This was a major decision at the time and it showed his willingness to lead and take risks. It was also a precursor to the many acquisition decisions the bank would make under his leadership. His first purchase as President proved to be very successful. With it he gained more respect and a higher level of trust both from the board and his management team. His definition of success, however, went beyond simple quantifiable metrics. He also made it known that he was receptive to new ideas and new ways of doing things. He wanted the employees to put the customer first and in turn he was prepared to make the employee the bank’s primary asset. Blanchard also recognized that success depended on his ability to make his employees comfortable attempting new things and accepting the potential risks of failure. Under his leadership, the bank was the first in the local market to issue ATM cards, exploit the Multi- State Bank Holding Company Act, and the explosive growth nationally and internationally in credit/debit and commercial card processing. The values that Blanchard was taught and embraced at home and in the church and his experiences growing up formed the foundation for his philosophy of life. As a business executive, the obstacles and challenges of leading and managing in a dynamic environment helped him to formulate his philosophy of leadership. By the late 70s, he started to work on the culture of the bank with the aim to create or re-create it around his philosophy. He had been successful instilling a focus on the customer, sense of urgency, will to win and accountability in the ways things were done. But he also wanted the bank to have a heart for the way it dealt with customers and employees and the way it approached its role in the community. Blanchard embraced the principle that the bank’s culture should be as much about spirit, heart and integrity (keeping your promises) as it was business metrics. He is a gifted public speaker and his communication skills were helpful as he took this message to his employees. Today, Blanchard is known and respected for his compassion, both within the firm and the community. He connected with his employees, inspired them, and cared deeply for their welfare. Lastly, one of the distinguishing features of Blanchard’s term as CEO is the length of his tenure. Few CEOs survive 5 years and very few have tenures that span 35 years. What is especially remarkable is the fact that his tenure as CEO overlapped with a period of drastic change in the financial services industry. What he was able to do over and over again with significant success was grow, adjust and adapt as the external environment changed. He was also very skillful in leading his organization through these periods of change and turbulence. Blanchard enjoys learning new things and facing challenges that he has not faced before. He was also able to face tough decisions with a positive outlook. If you could only choose one thing what would you say is the most important key to success in business? The one key would be integrity. Integrity gives you staying power. Staying power over a long period of time enables you to achieve far more than you could have ever dreamed. But one slip with integrity and you are out. What challenges comes to mind when you reflect on your years growing up? I think it was the two moves. When we moved from Augusta to Valdosta and Valdosta to Columbus. In retrospect they [moves] were really healthy. They got me out of my comfort zone. They got me into a position where I had to put out. I had to start over and build new friends in a whole new place. I think they were very positive in building me as a person. When you look back on your relationship with your father what stands out today? My father believed in a strong aggressive outspoken leadership style. And [he] was also a wonderful citizen. He believed in being active in your community and giving back to your community. That was kind of an essential ingredient in citizenship. My parents also were very prominent and active in their church and their faith and I learned that at an early age. And that has been an important part of my life all along. I know that one part of my personality is that I don’t wring my hands over things. There are not a lot of things that I am unhappy with. I don’t sweep negative things under the rug, I think I am able to deal with them, but I don’t dwell on them either. I dwell on the glass being half full. My favorite scripture is Philipians 4:4-9. What is a Servant Leader? It is the notion that the leader’s job is to give of himself or herself. [It is] not being the boss over people, but to empower them and to teach them and to give them the tools that they need to be successful. It is a giving of yourself so that others can be successful.
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