Hi, I’m Sam Palazzolo, Principal Officer here at The Javelin Institute. Structured as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, I founded the organization to provide world-class Executive Education to those leaders who’ve experienced family hardship (Specifically, family hardship in the form of 4D’s – Death, Disease, Divorce, or Drugs). In my nearly 15-years of providing developmental offerings, I’ve seen firsthand how leaders when faced with the challenges surrounding the 4D’s, typically fadeaway into the fog…
- I’ve seen leaders lose a loved one, only to then lose themselves.
- I’ve seen leaders impacted by illness frustrated when no possible cure is available.
- I have been impacted by divorce and continue to work hard to maintain family.
- Lastly, I’ve seen drug utilization that initially increased productivity and output, only to experience a crash upon withdrawal in recovery.
The leadership fog as a result of family hardship is as thick as split pea soup. But it’s in precisely these fog-moments that I believe we can help restore clarity; Clarity of vision. Clarity of thought. And clarity of action!
So how do we restore clarity? How exactly do we help leaders facing the 4D’s come out the other side successfully? In order to order to share that with you, let me provide a little context of my own Executive Education. While pursuing my Indiana University degree at night, I worked during the day as a UAW member on an automobile factory assembly line. I found that the professors that worked during the day and came in to instruct at night were my favorite. They were able to bring the dull/boring college textbook content to life with real world examples of what was being taught. I promised that I was going to someday teach at the collegiate level.
After college, I was working for a Fortune 100 company that offered a slew of continuing education courses. Even though I was pursuing my MBA from Vanderbilt University, I found that I loved learning and consumed everything available from my employer. One such learning was Stephen Covey’s “Principal Centered Leadership” course. It was an amazing course for me, as it taught what would later be recognized as his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” work (and I got a pretty cool brass egg as a certificate of accomplishment!)
So, with undergraduate/graduate studies successfully accomplished, I set out to work for a consulting firm. They liked my background, positive attitude, and desire to achieve. I ended up working with them for three years, and in hindsight could have done a much better job. Why? I didn’t feel inferior to the leaders in the small businesses that I worked with, but found that I was spending way too much time with those lower in the org chart (Those that were responsible for conducting the day-in/day-out, but those that couldn’t make a decision nor hold people accountable if they did not conduct the day-in/day-out according to action plan). Lesson learned: Lead and work from the Tip of the Spear!
After my consulting engagement, I went to work with Toyota, first in a wholesale/distribution capacity in Sales/Marketing and later running a large retail operation. I loved the variety involved in attempting to coordinate a million activities a day, and both of these moments in my career are evidence that variety is truly the spice of life. A highpoint for me was when I was recognized by Toyota as a “High Potential” employee and as such, invited to participate in their leadership development program. As a successful graduate of the University of Toyota and working retail for a few “dog” years (Each year was like a dog’s – seven years for every one!), I realized two very important points:
- I was never seeing my kids (and they were little!)
- I could continue on and have an impact at one segment of an industry, with one customer base, and with one place of work’s team, or…
Or, I could do something different. I envisioned working with industry leaders and helping them grow not only their businesses, but their people too. I could employ my experiences and talents to have an impact in several industries, with multiple customer bases, and with different workplaces therein. So, I chose different!
For the last ten years I’ve done just that… Working in a variety of industries (Automotive, Banking/Finance/Insurance, Technology/Software, Telecommunications, Biotech/Pharma, Retail, Fashion, Manufacturing, Entertainment, DOD (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines & Coast Guard), Government agencies at both Federal and State levels, and a few others I can’t recall. The assignments have taken me internationally and have allowed me to work with every capacity of employee (From entry-level to the Board Room).
Along the way, I was also able to make good on that promise to teach at the university level (I’ve instructed Management courses for the last twelve years) as well as take a two-year break to help successfully lead a tech startup (Short story; We raised $8Million initially, implemented some awesome technology along with a sales/business development blueprint, and ultimately got bought out by a Private Equity firm). After the tech startup, I launched my own Venture Capital (Private Equity) firm where in addition to investing in aspiring leaders we also conduct consulting advisory services focusing on Mergers & Acquisitions, Sales/Business Development, and Turnarounds.
So why The Javelin Institute? Over the years I’ve been impacted both professionally as well as personally by the 4D’s, either directly myself or indirectly through those near me. In my opinion, the impact the 4D’s have on an individual can be significantly reduced if four steps occur:
- Recognition – Those impacted by the 4D’s must recognize where they are at and what they are dealing with. Unobjectively, inequivalently, and unabashedly!
- Desire – Once recognition occurs, the individual must desire to do something about it. I know we all go through the 5 Stages of Grief at our own pace, but the bottom line is that the leader must desire change, which typically occurs when the pain associated with staying the same is greater than the pain associated with changing.
- Path – Once Recognition and Desire have been cemented, a path must be shared towards a successful future. There are a lot of roads to the top, but a goal without a plan is just a dream. Think of that path as the plan.
There is a fourth step, and that’s where The Javelin Institute comes into play. The Javelin Institute acts as a guide for the leader facing family hardships in the form of the 4D’s – Death, Disease, Divorce, and Drugs. We are uniquely qualified to guide from our decade plus relationship with methodologies in Leadership Development from Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner (Authors of “The Leadership Challenge” celebrating it’s 40th anniversary) and Executive Coaching via Marshall Goldsmith (The Executive Coach of the Fortune 100). These methodologies are tried/true, having nearly 1Million people participate in such offerings.
My goal is to build the BEST Leaders… Not GOOD… Not BETTER… The BEST! Leaders who face family hardships don’t have to deal with “business as usual,” because life is anything but usual. Leaders who face family hardships don’t have to suffer through the “circle of life” just because Mufasa said so in Disney’s Lion King. Leaders who face family hardship don’t have to “fight through the pain” to prove just how tough they are. At the Javelin Institute, I see us acting as a guide with the leader facing family hardship so that we can get from the here and now, to there. A “there” where success is!
If you, or a leader you know, is facing a family hardship and you like what you’ve heard here, then we should connect. Use the calendar below to schedule a strategy session and begin to recover the successful life you deserve and get on the path towards success.