A Welcoming Culture Begins with You!

I’m a big fan of the 2014 film, The Hundred-Foot Journey. In fact, I’ve watched it several times. The film tells the story of an Indian family who flees their homeland and settles in a small town in France, setting up a restaurant 100 feet across from a traditional French cuisine restaurant. What ensues next is a culinary and ideological battle between the two cultures, as the Indian family faces discrimination and hatred from the local townspeople. However, after the French employees try to burn down the competing restaurant in an attempted hate crime, the conservative French owner realizes her own role in inciting violence and bias, and commits to making amends.

She helps clean up the Indian restaurant, and even employs the Indian son who is a burgeoning chef of immense potential. After he eventually rises to fame in the Paris restaurant scene, he returns to the small town where the two restaurants begin a collaborative partnership, and connect through intercultural exchange.

In my opinion, the movie is an inspiring story about the value of belonging, and how each and every one of us plays a role in creating cultures of inclusion. It’s a demonstration of what hatred can do, but an even more compelling demonstration of the healing love can achieve in its wake.

So how does this apply to the workplace? As caring leaders, we can all learn from the film’s message of personal responsibility in welcoming others.

Take for example the French restaurant owner, who had to overcome her own biases against the Indian family. She had to work through her own feelings of fear and doubt, and lack of information about their culture. But as she sees her impact on the people around her, she reconciles with her power and uses it for good, ultimately helping to change public perception.

Her journey can describe many of us who strive to be allies to others, and act as a case study of what to do when confronting our own judgments. 

If you as a leader recognize that others value your opinion, take advantage of that power to combat stigma and bias. Organizational morals are established from the top down, so start with yourself if you aim to change the culture of your workplace. 

If you can visibly signal that you prioritize inclusion, belonging, and open-mindedness, others will follow suit and engage in productive introspection.

To be clear, The Hundred-Foot Journey is after all still a movie, and not every interaction between disparate groups will be as picture-perfect as the film might have you believe. 

But, we still need to wrestle with our individual roles in systems of bias at work:

How do we, as individuals, create welcoming environments? 

Are there other champions of inclusion in our workplace that we can team up with? 

How do we consciously choose to rise above hatred and lead from a place of love instead? 

How can we use our privilege to change the minds of those that look and think like we do? 

These are the questions we need to be asking ourselves, even if we’re unsure of how to answer them. 

The caring leader makes an effort to reflect on their own preconceived notions, deconstruct them, and think in a judgment-free manner moving forward. If we can find the common ground between us, I believe we’ll discover that even less than 100 feet separate our individual journeys.

Aligning With Your Aspirational Leadership Identity

As humans, most of us are naturally inclined to dream big. We’re always searching for a bigger house, a better job, a greater salary—we’re constantly thinking about the next step in our personal or professional lives. Oftentimes, these aspirations can motivate us to work harder and smarter to achieve them, but I find that the majority of us are confused about how to make that jump from the present state of things to the more idealized future.

Our leadership identities are no different—we all want to be better, more effective leaders in the workplace, capable of inspiring anyone and everyone. With that in mind, it’s crucial you regularly ask yourself the following question: who do I want to be, who am I currently, and how do I close that gap?

In a past article, I spoke about the importance of aligning organizational values to avoid miscommunication and organizational incongruence. But that’s on the structural level; what I’m referring to now is on the micro, or individual level. Is there congruence between who you think you are and how you’re actually perceived by others? Do your leadership actions parallel your leadership philosophy? What steps can you take to align your present self with your future, more enhanced self?

When I work out in my house, I usually exercise in front of a window. The other day, I noticed myself fixating on my reflection, and how I could see two versions of myself represented. On the one hand, I saw the Heather I currently am. On the other hand, I saw the Heather I strive to be: she’s more content, healthier, and a little more in shape. I wondered what types of choices I could make to move myself closer to that idealized sense of self. Working out was a step in the right direction, but I realized I needed to go deeper than that.

This is the kind of introspection caring leaders should be engaging in on a regular basis. It requires examining your personal history, critical incidents in your life, your personality, your communication style, and everything else that impacts how you interact with others, and determining what about those influences is preventing you from doing and being better. I also recommend soliciting feedback from those who look to you for guidance, and learning how you’re perceived from an outside perspective. You can use 360-degree feedback assessments, performance reviews, or even one-on-one conversations with your peers or managers. However you choose to connect with constructive criticism, it’s a pivotal part of aligning with your aspirational leadership identity.

For caring leaders, it is an intentional choice to say, “I want my people to know I care for them, so I’m going to take specific actions to make sure they know.” When we think about who we want to be, it’s easy to get paralyzed with fear, uncertainty, or harmful self-judgment. But making that intentional choice to reflect and recalibrate is a valid and necessary first step towards self-improvement. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and give yourself the space to make internal improvements over time. Whoever you strive to be as a leader, know that one day you will get there, and that you (and perhaps you alone) have the most agency in seizing that future.

16: Leaders with Heart Know That They Have an Obligation to Grow the People They Lead

When I ask leaders about where they got their motivation to lead comes from, a lot of them talk about their parents, one or the other, or both.

I had my mother and grandmother, and they both were very strong, independent and hardworking women. They really formed my work ethic and value system early on.

Our guest for today shares a similar story, which you’ll hear in the first part of the episode.

Tim Hinchey is President and CEO at USA Swimming. Tim is a dedicated sports operations, sales and marketing leader with over twenty years experience creating and nurturing successful relationships. He is focused on collaborating daily with both internal and external partners, sharing a vision for success and delivering results. As well, he is goal-oriented with a true hands-on approach to leadership and motivation.

In this episode, we talk about Tim’s leadership journey, whether leaders are born or made, transparency, authenticity, and following the golden rule – to name a few.

We touched on a lot of topics in this episode, so click the play button to listen!

Tim Hinchey’s Full BIO

Tim Hinchey became the CEO of USA Swimming in July of 2017.

Over the course of his career as a sports business executive, Hinchey has held leadership positions in the United States and the United Kingdom for organizations such as Major League Soccer, English Premier League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and junior and minor league hockey franchises.

In his role as President of the Colorado Rapids, Hinchey led the club to both on- and off-field success. In 2016, he was named Major League Soccer’s Executive of the Year.

Hinchey’s international experience includes a three-year term as the Vice President of Commercial and Chief Marketing Officer for English football club Derby County FC.

Before heading overseas, Hinchey served in executive positions for the NBA Charlotte Bobcats and the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, as well as serving as Director of Strategic Alliances for Maloof Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Sacramento Kings.

His start in professional sports began with the Los Angeles Kings in 1991 and continued with sales and marketing roles with the Tri-City Americans junior hockey club and the IHL Utah Grizzlies. Hinchey went on to serve as Director of Strategic Alliances for Maloof Sports & Entertainment, where he developed strategic plans for all corporate partnerships integral to the NBA Sacramento Kings, WNBA Sacramento Monarchs, WISL Sacramento Knights, ARCO Arena and Senior PGA Tour Gold Rush Classic.

Hinchey volunteers as an assistant swim coach for the Special Olympics Aurora Waves swim team and served on the Community Leadership Board of the American Diabetes Association of Colorado from 2013-16. He is a Board member of the Industry Advisor Committee for Insight Centre for Data Analytics based in Ireland, Arsenal Broadband Media in London and FanCompass in San Francisco.

A native of Danville, California, Hinchey went on to earn a B.A. in Economics while a four-year letterman swimmer at UC Irvine and went on to serve as a graduate assistant swim coach at the school. Hinchey and his wife Mia are the proud parents of six children.

Learning From His Father

Tim’s father, a successful executive, has been a really important figure in his life.

“At the same time, he was very spiritual. He grew up as an Irish kid, in an Irish Catholic family. He did everything – he coached some of my teams. He’d work hard, and we never felt, as a family, anything but a priority to him. And yet, he was an incredibly successful executive.

So I think early on, his discipline, his engagement, watching him speak in front of groups, watching him do things for our family was certainly something that fell across my desk. I think growing up in sports in particular, and especially as I got into swimming later, him sitting down with me and setting goals and opportunities – that’s all part of the makeup of who we are as leaders, when you get that at an early age from your parents.

As I got into college and joined swim teams, it always felt natural to want to be one of the captains or be part of the group. Even though I wasn’t the most successful swimmer by any means, I always felt like I could contribute through leadership opportunities.

Are Leaders Born or Made?

“I do actually think they’re born. Having said that, I think it’s also our responsibility, if we are the leaders, to find opportunities and platforms to help people get better, help people improve. And if we are good leaders, then help a few become better managers in particular, or at least leaders of their area or their business, or whatever aspect of life’s important.

I still think that can happen as well. I think that we’d be remiss not to find ways to engage with those people. If we’re fortunate enough to be seen as natural leaders, I still think it’s our responsibility to pass that forward, to pass that on as much as possible.

I think it’s a combination of both, but again, I’ve always felt like I always want to take a little risk and put myself out there. Whether it was as class president, captains of sports teams, individual project leaders – it was always something I was comfortable doing.”

Internal > External Relationships

For Tim, transparency is very important. He tries to provide as much access as possible.

I’m a big Starbucks fan – people know that about me – and they built one just outside the gate of the training center. So every single employee had to sign up for a walk with me to go have coffee, on me, and we get to spend an hour together just to get to know one another.

I’ve done 88 of those one-on-ones so far, primarily just so you get to know who’s here, who’s the guy in the corner office. I don’t want to be the jerk in the corner office that thinks he knows what he’s doing to lead our company. I want to have a real, authentic relationship with people. That’s first and foremost.

Building those relationships internally can be even more important than some of our major external relationships. Click To Tweet Be more open, be willing to take that two-way communication to the next level. Click To Tweet Treat others how you’d like to be treated. #goldenrule #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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We All Need Someone to Believe in Us



Have you ever spoken to an audience and at one point in the talk you knew you were speaking to their hearts?


I had that exact scenario happen the other day. I was talking to an audience on Leadership, Recognition and Motivation, and at some point I said,

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Every one of us has a seed of greatness inside of us. It is the leader’s responsibility to find that within each of their team members.



Immediately, I could see everyone’s head nod up and down and their eyes widened as if they received a jolt from some unexpected source.

I think that their hearts beat a little faster too.

You see, we all need and want someone to believe in us. Although some leaders are better than others at uncovering greatness in their team members, we all want to be that leader.

Many years ago, I worked my way up in Mary Kay Cosmetics (Yes, a lawyer who was selling cosmetics). To this day, it was the best career journey I took. For me, the best thing was working with women who overcame self-doubt, tried new things and often times flourished.

Witnessing them bloom was amazing. Feeling as though my belief in them helped a little felt good too.

I remember one consultant in particular who is still near and dear to my heart. She joined the company, because she believed in the message of financial freedom and helping other women grow into self-driven leaders. One may not automatically think of this wonderful lady as a “beauty”, but she had a huge heart.


She wanted to be successful as a brand new consultant. She wanted that pink Cadillac. Fundamentally, she longed for someone to believe in her. She wanted someone to invest in her to help her be her very best self. Coupled with her self-doubt, there were bits of confidence.

She was coming out of her cocoon. It was beautiful!

I still think of her to this day. Although she never “made it big” in Mary Kay. I always believed that she could. She didn’t win the Cadillac, or big awards, but she tried damn hard to. She gained a lot more confidence too.

She reminds me of so many team members and managers who really only need someone to believe in them.

If you have the desire to leave your permanent footprint at home, in your workplace, or in this world, I would highly recommend that you believe in others.

Yes. This can be dangerous, or even a huge let down if they fall short of meeting your image of them.

That’s alright. I promise you that you will remember those let downs much less when you continue to believe and see the positive impact you have on other’s lives. Look for that glimmer.

It won’t be easy, but commit to being that type of leader. Go out today and tell the people you believe in that you believe in them. Show it, too, by investing a little time in them. You will help their seeds of greatness shine through!
Thank you for reading this post. This topic is a personal favorite. I would love to hear about a time you decided to believe in someone or someone believed in you and how you felt or how it impacted you. Leave a comment with your story.
If you found this piece insightful, please do Like or Share it.

Cheers to Believing!