The Wisdom and Wealth Podcast

Intangible Balance Sheet 46: Mike Alexander

September 11, 2023 Joshua Klooz
The Wisdom and Wealth Podcast
Intangible Balance Sheet 46: Mike Alexander
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Welcome to this week's Intangible Balance Sheet Episode. This week we hear from Mike Alexander. His incredible optimism and integrity shine through and his story is a testament to unwavering nobility and loyalty. Mike recounts his unique upbringing and how the principles of his Father shaped his life and values. He candidly shares how his father's teachings on loyalty, integrity, optimism, and nobility have influenced his personal and professional life even today. Listen in for more! 

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JOSH KLOOZ, CFP®, MBA
WEALTH ADVISOR

Phone 281.719.0036
Text 281.699.8691
Fax 281.719.0156
jklooz@carsonwealth.com

1780 Hughes Landing | Suite 570
The Woodlands, TX 77380

Music by bensound.com




Josh Klooz:

Hello and welcome to the Wisdom and Wealth podcast. I'm Josh Clues, the senior wealth planner for Carson Wealth here in the Woodlands, Texas. Today is another of our Intangible Balance Sheet series and it's my distinct pleasure to introduce to you Mike Alexander to the podcast. Mike's agreed to come on board and share about his Intangible Balance Sheet and I'm so excited to learn more about you, Mike. Welcome to the podcast.

Mike Alexander:

Glad to be here.

Josh Klooz:

Mike, if you don't mind, could you just give us a brief introduction to who you are before we dive into the formal questions?

Mike Alexander:

Sure, as you know, mike Alexander, I was actually born and raised in a small community in central Florida, a little place called Fort Meade, florida. I spent my entire childhood, for the most part, there, but I actually kind of grew up as a migrant worker and that my father was an immigrant. He migrated from Grenada to Florida. He came to the United States as a shoemaker and a musician and somehow he ended up in fruit harvesting and he started a company called the Alexander Packing Company. He ended up acquiring contracts with farmers in four or five different states. So every year during the summer we would load up about 300 people or so and migrate to Georgia first, then South Carolina, north Carolina, virginia, west Virginia and sometimes New York, and then we finished the seasons up there and ended up back in Florida to finish our schooling there. But during the process we probably attended three or four schools along the way, and I did that my entire life as a child. And at 17 years of age I ended up in Austin, texas, at a small university Catholic University here in Austin, cal State Edwards University, where I got an undergraduate degree in criminal justice. So that's a little bit about me. I ended up there under a sort of a scholarship for one year. St Edward's University gave scholarships to migrant students. They have a program there called Camp Camp is an acronym for college assistance migrant program and what they did is they gave all of us who ended up there under that program a one year scholarship and then the rest of our time grants and loans got us through the rest of my undergrad.

Josh Klooz:

Thank you for that introduction and, for those folks that are newer to the podcast, we call this the Intangible Balance Sheet because I believe that there are life principles that we, as human beings, value more than money. There are memories that we value more than money. Some may call that irrational, but it's real and typically those life principles are bound up and best illustrated in stories and just as you've already shared, mike, of the way that you grew up, I am curious what harvest were you following? Nor so you're following the season, nor, because obviously things get planted. You know, close to the equator the season is shorter, but what were you harvesting? And so on and so forth.

Mike Alexander:

Sure sure. And Georgia was peaches, in South Carolina peaches and apples and pears, and North Carolina the same thing, mostly apples and pears and cherries in North Carolina. And then Virginia was apples and New York was apples, and then in Florida oranges and grapefruit and any citrus there in Florida.

Josh Klooz:

And it was probably just you know. You had a book of business and relationships that you built up year after year after year and word of mouth spreads and your customer list gets bigger and it just continues to go, grow from there, right.

Mike Alexander:

Exactly exactly. There were six boys and one girl in my family. All of us because of how we grew up and we did not want to experience that lifestyle for our entire lives. So we all went to college, all got degrees and graduate degrees and PhDs and things of that nature so that we can go off and do other things. And all of them, I must say, are fairly successful.

Josh Klooz:

Now you mentioned your parents are there. I'm curious are there any stories that you believe live on your intangible balance sheet, that come to you from your grandparents, willing to share?

Mike Alexander:

Well, you know, not so much for my, my grandparents and I say that simply because of the lifestyle in which we lived. I didn't spend a lot of time with grandparents. I knew them, but I did not spend a lot of time with them. But my, my parents is really where my roots really lies, and specifically my father, my mom and dad. Unfortunately, as so many families I end up, they divorced. I was 12 years old when that occurred and my father raised all of us, and so I am who I am because of him.

Josh Klooz:

Now I'm also curious, Mike, some people will call it kind of your barber shop stories, but also sometimes there are mentors in your life outside of your family that play a role. Are there any any folks like that, whether it be once you got to Austin or beforehand, that stand out to you?

Mike Alexander:

Yeah, yeah, there are quite a few, but let me go back first and foremost to to my dad, and I just talk a little bit about him and you know I say that I am who I am because of him. He was a man that was extremely loyal to whatever endeavor he decided to pursue. He also was a man of integrity, a tremendous optimist and a noble man, and because of him I started a company many years ago called Lion Organizational Development Institute, and the lion is an acronym and it stands for Loyalty, integrity, optimism and Nobility, and those are the values that I attribute to my dad, and he was a hard man but he was a loyal man and I just appreciate him and what he represented for us as young men who are now adults, and my sister, who are an extremely successful young lady who now lives in Minnesota and she owns a very large technology company and their their main vendor is the US military. But we are who we are because of him and you know, at one point in my life I was, I was a little embarrassed by the fact that I was a migrant worker, but now I hold that near and dear to my heart because just the life lessons that I've learned along the way, and the ebbs and flows of life always take me back to the times that I remember that I drew from to be able to have the resilience and fortitude to make it through tough times as an adult. And, you know, I didn't understand what I now know, as I watched him go through life and I was very close to him and I, you know, it was just things about him that now I draw from from constantly. So I wanted to, you know, just highlight those things first and foremost.

Josh Klooz:

Is your father still with us, Mike?

Mike Alexander:

No, unfortunately, about five years ago he was 91 years old when he left the side of life.

Josh Klooz:

What a, what an incredible legacy. You know, I think we both share in common Everything I am today I'm standing on the shoulders of my dad. Yeah ultimately right. Such a wonderful testament to the life that he lived. Thank you for sharing that with us, mike. The next piece that I'd like to hear just a little bit more about is you personally and in your story as you think back on some of the pivotal points of your career and your life. What are some of those stories that you think best bring together your first principles, or bring to the surface your first principles?

Mike Alexander:

Well, you know I go back to the lion piece. I became a police officer at age 20. I started out with a sheriff's office, working in a jail. I met my wife in jail, but she was, she was also working there. I tell that story often and sometimes I just leave it there and people don't know what to say. They don't know what to draw from that, so they don't say anything. But I just decided not to do that. So we met each other in the jail and eventually I left there and I went over to Austin Police Department and I spent the next 26 years there. I retired from Austin PD as a sergeant and I went on to a state agency called the Office of Inspector General and I ran a internal affairs division for about four or five years. I rose to the rank of major, so I was the number two guy in that agency before search firm sought me out to become a chief of police in east Texas in a place called Palestine, texas. So I went over there for a while as their chief. In about 11 months into that assignment the mayor called me one night about 11 o'clock. They were in executive session and he asked if I would consider sitting in the city manager's seat for six weeks and I was sound asleep when he called. I was slightly dazed and confused and I said yes, and I spent the next three years it's supposed to be six weeks and I ended up in that city manager's seat for three years and I eventually decided I had enough of being a city manager and I moved on to another city called Corinth, up in the Metroplex next to Denton. I was the chief there for about six months until we hired a permanent guy it was only the interim and then I left there and I went back to east Texas to another city to do the same thing as an interim chief until we hired the current guy and then the last assignment I took was August of 21. I took a chief's job in a city called Balk Springs, which is southeast Dallas, and I spent it was supposed to be three months and I spent a year and a half as their chief until we could groom a number two my number two to be the chief. So finally, this May, after I left in December, may of 23, they named him the permanent chief. So that's kind of my journey Along the way. I started a company called Lion Organizational Development Institute and there were specific reasons I decided to do so.

Josh Klooz:

So are there any principles along the way that you're willing to share about that you learned in any of those transitions, any of those roles? And then I want to get back to the genesis of Lion in some of the stories that go into that as well.

Mike Alexander:

Yeah, I think that for me, josh, being a police officer, I think one of the things that were most important to me is honesty. Another one, transparent. And those things are important because those are expectations that the community has for us. They want us, as police officers, to be honest individuals and transparent. And those are some of the intangibles, but there are many others. But, as you asked that question, those are two things that kind of come to mind right away, and those are not easy things to end. And then fair, which is so subjective, but those are not easy things to actually navigate because every person has their own definition of fairness, honesty and transparency. So navigating for almost 40 years through law enforcement was very difficult for me and it changed who I am today from what I was when I entered Some for the best and some for the worst.

Josh Klooz:

Yeah, are there any mentors that you look back on, that you're thankful for at different junctures?

Mike Alexander:

Yes, there's one particular guy. He's 80 years old today, but he became a kind of a mainstay in my life about 25 years or so ago. He saw me doing a presentation somewhere in Austin and, unbeknownst to me, he approached and asked if I would be willing to travel with him to do a variety of things as I was doing at that time, and I said yes and it became a lifelong journey of working with him and learning things about myself, about the profession, that perhaps I would not have been as successful as I've been if it wasn't for him. Yes, he was a chief of police in five different states. His last assignment was in Georgetown, texas, just north of Austin.

Josh Klooz:

As you look back on, I don't want to miss the genesis of Lyon. Can you tell us some of the story about where you were and what you were thinking about when the thought occurred to you to start the Institute, and kind of the aha moments along the way?

Mike Alexander:

Well, I struggle with the calling law enforcement a noble profession. Here's what I'm not saying. I'm not saying it's not a noble profession. I think the profession itself represents nobility, but what happens behind the curtain isn't noble at all and there's tremendous cannibalism that goes on within the halls and walls of police departments and there's tremendous toxicity. Oftentimes there is a lack of leadership, there is sometimes willful blindness and because of those things I just wasn't pleased with. So I started the Institute where we focus specifically on leadership attributes, because there are phenomenal people. The majority of law enforcers are phenomenal individuals and I thank God for each of them and the things that happens in the halls and walls of police departments. This may sound strange but isn't 100% their fault, because the profession in and of itself is predisposed to creating mental casualties, Because this is the only profession that for 8 to 10 to 12 hours a day, you experience one traumatic event after another. And this go on for 20, 30, 40 years of your life, practically your entire adult life. And along the way there are some dysfunctional things begin to occur two officers and around officers and sometimes we become the very things that we are fighting, and that's the unfortunate part of it. And so I see a lot of and that's a strong word to say willful blindness. But I do believe I do see some willful blindness from time to time. And lying is why I go back to what my father taught me about loyalty, integrity, optimism and nobility, Because I really think that that's what the profession should be about is about being loyal to each other and to our community, about having the integrity and the fortitude to be honest about the things that will occur around us and not be afraid to stand up and stand out when you see wrongdoing. And also because there's so much negativity that you do everything you possibly can to be as optimistic as you can, and what required there is that you surround yourself with like-minded people, Because it's so easy to go to the opposite side of the spectrum. And then the nobility that I mentioned. I do believe if you do those three things, you will find noble individuals within a noble profession.

Josh Klooz:

And it's hard to I mean so. I'm a former infantry officer in a previous life, and so there's no such thing as the 100% proper application of violence, and so you strive for it each and every day, but people don't understand that, and so it's interesting to hear your perspective, and thank you for your transparency in that. I'm curious to hear from you in this last portion. Some people will call this last portion like an ethical will. I get the idea from David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, where he talked about there comes a point in life where we realize that we were building a resume, but what we really should have been doing was building a eulogy. What are some of those? Not all encompassing, obviously, but what are some of those things that you want to be on your eulogy when the time comes.

Mike Alexander:

You know this. Bring to mind Stephen Covey's seven habits of the affected people in. One of the principles is begin with an end in mind, and the notion there is what do you really want people to say about you when you've passed on? And there's an exercise that's required, where you write down the very things that you want people to say and then you read it out loud and people will always write good things and the hope point behind that is whatever you write, you begin to live your life backwards from that point on. And for me, when I think about that Josh, this dog what I think about is my kids and how I want to be perceived by them and my wife. I live my life for them and so I try my best to be upright and as honest as I possibly can, and when I mess up, I try my best to fess up and I try my best to live my life that way. From the moment I understood what Covey was really talking about when he said begin with an end in mind. So I see myself and I think about that dash in the middle. I don't worry about the beginning date and the end date, but the people that I touch every day. My intent is to add value to every person I touch as a leader and as an American, and have tough conversations when necessary, those really difficult conversations that are required to help people become the best version of themselves. So that's how I see myself and that's what I want people to remember me by is that Mike was not afraid to stand up and stand out, even if he was the only one standing up and out. Mike was not afraid to have difficult conversations about difficult, sensitive topics but at the same time, mike was as encouraging as he possibly could be to whoever he came in contact with. Mike added value to my life, might help me get from point A to point B. Mike sacrificed his needs for the things in which I wanted and to achieve. Mike took time out of his busy schedule to take a phone call from me when I knew he was busy doing other things For me. Josh, that's really what life is really about. It's not about me, and I've understood that from the moment I became a supervisor in the profession in which I served for 40 years. That it's really about what Robert Greenleaf talks about servant leadership. My job is really to remove roadblocks so that others can be successful and, ultimately, if they are, so will I.

Josh Klooz:

That is so encouraging and so needed to hear. Mike, thank you for sharing with us. I appreciate this conversation. Is there anything else that you'd like to add before we sign off for today?

Mike Alexander:

No, I appreciate, Josh, this opportunity. I'm always I'm such an introvert, believe it or not, and I'm always a little nervous about these kinds of things. But I appreciate, I just appreciate this opportunity to talk about things that are near and dear to my heart and I appreciate what you are doing as you interface with so many different people and so many different lifestyles, and your ability to have the kinds of conversations that you are having with people from all walks of life. So thank you for what you do.

Josh Klooz:

I am richly rewarded by these types of conversations. I learn something new every day. Michael, wish you and your family nothing but truth, beauty and goodness on the road ahead. Thank you for serving the communities that you did for those 40 years and thank you for what you're doing each and every day. Thank you again and have a great afternoon. Okay, you too, sir. Thank you very much. Bye-bye.

Intangible Balance Sheet and Life Stories
Reflections on a Lifetime of Service