"We must act as to bring out the best in others," Our Founder, William H. Danforth, said.
What makes Purina a top Company is having people who care. I have three personal, unique experiences to relate to you that demonstrate this.
My first daughter was born three weeks early. At the time, I was on my last planned business trip before her scheduled birth. All ended well as I was able to make it home in time to see her birth.
I was in the Sales group at the time when my wife became pregnant with our second daughter, and our National Sales Meeting was scheduled three weeks before her due date. Given that my first daughter was born three weeks early, this caused some angst for me. I am very committed to Purina, but I also knew my family needed me. Without me ever expressing my concern to my supervisor, he called me and told me I was forbidden to attend the meeting. When I inquired why, he simply said: "your family is the priority now..." and my wife needed me more than the business. His personal concern for the well-being of my family is an example of what makes this company great.
I was at a crossroads in my career, and I was consulting with many people about my particular situation. I was getting varying advice, and everyone had the best intentions. I was confused as to how to move forward. I called my mentor at the time and explained the situation. He patiently listened and took in everything I had to say. He asked some questions about what was important to me, my career and my family. The advice he imparted to me was invaluable and heartfelt. It was contradictory to what my supervisor and several other members of the leadership group were telling me, but ultimately, it was the best advice. My willingness to be vulnerable, his willingness to take a personal interest in my situation, and balancing that with what is best for the company resulted in a win-win for everyone.
I was promoted into a role where I had very little functional knowledge with a long tenured group of leaders. There was skepticism of my ability to lead, given my background and lack of knowledge about the department. One in particular began to look at his retirement program and was preparing to leave the company. He shared this with me, and I asked him to stay on and give me a chance. He did, and we are now good friends, making great strides with the business. He not only taught me about the business but also pushed me to always act with honesty and integrity even when it is very difficult. It is this ability to have trust in others that allows us to operate at a very high level and learn from others regardless of the reporting structure.
It is the people at Purina that make this company great. Act with honesty, integrity and Stand Tall for what you believe in. You must be willing to be vulnerable and have the difficult conversations. It is not easy, but it is essential. The ultimate strength of Purina is how we treat each other and our customers. It is the manner in which we act. Next time you have the opportunity to interact with someone about a critical subject, I dare you to stand tall and act the way our founder Mr. Danforth would.