There isn’t one clean cut leadership style that works for everybody. For example, Andrew Goldberg believes and trusts in the notion of servant leadership. Andrew was the Vice President of Marketing for the Arsht Center for a number of years before he put up his own business, Andrew Goldberg Consulting. In this episode, Andrew discusses his point of view on leadership, drawing from his athletic and artistic background. He talks about what leadership looks like through a time of crisis such as COVID-19. He also shares his opinion on how the performing arts copes with the pandemic situation and how it can adapt to the new normal.
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Evolving Leadership Styles with Andrew Goldberg
My guest is Andrew Goldberg. Andrew was the Vice President of Marketing for the Arsht Center here in Miami-Dade County. For those who don’t know what that is, Andrew, could you introduce yourself and what the Arsht Center is?
My name is Andrew Goldberg. Thank you for having me. For a little over twelve years, I was the Vice President of Marketing at the Arsht Center, which is part of my career in the nonprofit performing arts. It was certainly my longest tenure with an organization where I came on board at the tail end of the first year of operation for the largest performing arts institution in South Florida. At the time, it was like a startup organization in many ways. We had to establish policies, procedures, team structure and strategies, and put in strategic plans and annual operational plans. We determined who our target audiences were and built a database. There were things that we had to do at the beginning because we were a new organization. The brand of the company is tremendous. It is nationally and internationally recognized. It went from a place where many people in the community weren’t sure why it was being built to a point where I like to believe that most people in the community see it as a vital part of the fabric of Miami.
The Sears building was there before, right?
The Sears building and Sears, Roebuck, they donated that land. It was determined that the tower itself, which is an art deco tower, needed to stay as part of the new building that was going to be built there. I left the Arsht Center. Speaking of leadership and arguably bold decisions, I wanted to make a break from my marketing career and try to more establish myself as someone who is worthy of executive leadership, as an executive director, CEO, or president of a nonprofit organization. I wanted to change the brand of who I was by doing that. COVID happened and it’s certainly taken longer than I’d like. In the meantime, I opened a consultancy, Andrew Goldberg Consulting, an original name.
That is brilliant branding, by the way. Who else is going to be Andrew Goldberg Consulting?
I’ve had several clients since. COVID has hit the Arsht sector hard. Some of those clients who I was working with had to put some of the work on pause. Hopefully, they’ll come back. I’m also in the midst of looking for the right leadership position as well. I’m on a couple of tracks working with clients, as well as looking for that right opportunity.
Speaking of the right opportunity, when talking about leadership, what is your philosophy or your leadership style that you would say that you’ve developed?
My leadership style has changed over time.
Changed or evolved?
It evolved over time. Post Arsht Center, I’ve thought about leadership in a different way. I think about how I would draw upon maybe what I liked about the way I led and maybe what I didn’t like and try to take the best of it and try to lead in a new and refreshing way. One of the number one things that I’ve learned over time is the notion of servant leadership. You’re leading a team and they may work for you. You need to be working for them and with them. Treat them like partners in solving their issues. If you are in an executive leadership position, the people that are reporting to you tend to be more seasoned veterans. They know what they’re doing. They’re smart. The last thing they need is for someone to come in and tell them what to do. They’re going to have a lot of their own great ideas. I believe in figuring out how to help them accomplish what they want to do, understanding that it will fit in with the vision and the mission and the top-line goals of the organization. If something doesn’t, then you have that conversation too. Presumably, it does and it’s about trying to find ways to support what they’re trying to accomplish, which is all for the good of the company.
Take me back a little bit to how you came up with all this great wisdom for leadership, maybe some of the pitfalls or one if you’ve made some big mistakes as a leader and had to learn from that as you evolved.
When I first started out in the industry, I was entry level. At a certain point, I’m managing someone. In the nonprofit world, in particular, these are usually smaller organizations. This is not a knock against any organization. When you’re put into a managerial role, oftentimes, it comes without managerial training. That was me, I was thrown into this. You try to use your best instincts. You think you’re doing the right thing. If anyone tells you, “I’m a great manager,” they’re probably not that great. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m great. That’s not a reverse psychology thing. A healthy mindset is to say that you’re always working on it. The moment you say you’re not or that you not just say that you’re not but that you aren’t is the moment that you’re not a good manager anymore. We always have to work on it. If you’re in a marriage, you can’t say, “We’re married. Good. I don’t need to work at it anymore.” You need to keep working at it.
You’ll stop growing. You no longer feel the need to grow and you’re no longer seeking growth of, “How can I do this better?” Truthfully, as a manager, you don’t know what scenario is going to come your way day by day. You hope to navigate smoothly through the waters, but something might be thrown at you that you don’t expect coming at you.
Putting yourself in the shoes of the person that’s reporting to you is an important thing to do. Understand that you don’t know what else is going on in their world. There may be something challenging going on in their personal life.
When COVID hit, people were dealing with all kinds of stuff.
When I talk to people, in general, I’m coming at it with a ton of compassion. I’m almost assuming that the people I’m talking to must know somebody who has either suffered from or has sadly passed away from COVID. I know people who have suffered or have passed away. People bring this to the workplace. Everyone is human.
You’re not a robot. You’re not something that you can shut it off and shut it on.
What I learned over time is you need to be compassionate and put yourself in someone else’s shoes to know what happened that morning for them. They might have gotten some bad news personally in their family. You don’t know. To listen, that’s the hardest thing for some people. The more you can listen to people’s advice that is working for you and with you. Know that there’s more than one way to succeed and allow people to make those choices. The good thing that comes along with experience is that you recognize that there’s more than one way to succeed and it doesn’t have to be your way. I’ve let people on countless projects do things the way they want. Give them autonomy.Putting yourself in the shoes of the person that's reporting to you is an important thing to do. Click To Tweet
One of the biggest hurdles that I’ve seen for some people to do is to allow people the freedom. The work I do with talent optimization is to allow people the freedom to use their strengths and their talents to arrive at the end result. This is the goal. It doesn’t matter if you come up the hill this way or that way, get up the hill. There are some people that are, “Nope, this is how we do it. This is how it’s been done.” It creates conflict, tension, and stress in the environment. There’s a statistic, 67% of people leave a good job because of bad managers.
I’ve been guilty of that earlier in my career too. There is a way that things have been done. What I want someone on the team to know is why it’s been done that way and what the pitfalls that have happened along the way to get there that I’ve already gone through. I can help them avoid some of the same mistakes that I made when they’re planning a project. That doesn’t mean you have to do it specifically this way. Maybe the first time you do it the way it’s been done, you’ll learn it and then you can say, “I’ve tried that the way it’s been done.”
“There’s another way that I can do this and it will be faster and more efficient.”
You then can come back and say, “I saw how this worked. I understand why this might have been a way of the past, but I’ve got a new way. Let me tell you why it’s going to be different or better or what I want to test.” When someone has done that thought process and can articulate it, to me, that’s a great employee. If someone says, “I’m not going to pay attention. I’m going to do my own thing because whatever,” that’s different. That’s taking autonomy to a different end in my humble opinion.
It’s like parenting almost as well. You want to empower your children to do things in a way that brings them success and not saying, “You have to do it my way,” all the time. There are things that, through trial and error, you’ve done and you say, “Nope, this is what works best. If you come up with a better way, share it with me. I’d be happy to know.” Leadership, to me, is about empowering your direct reports, empowering the people that you lead to success.
I’ll bring a great analogy to the arts world. If you’re a dancer or a musician, especially if you’re classically trained, you learn proper technique. You can go off and go start a rock band and write your own songs and create new rules.
You have to follow the foundation.
Your foundation was learning that skillset and that experience set from others. That’s the best analogy I can give. Here’s a structure for a particular campaign. Let’s follow your first year, your first cycle. Let’s nail it. The second time around if it wasn’t followed greatly the first time, let’s try it again and then make some tweaks this next time. What ideas do you have?
How did you build your own confidence in yourself as a leader?
I’m always working on it. I certainly draw upon my experience as a performer and being an athlete. I was on the varsity basketball team in high school. I would start some of the time and some of the time I came off the bench. I remember going to one of these intensive summer basketball camps. Someone talked about what gave them confidence when they were going to be on that free-throw line with the game on the line with no time on the clock. He said, “What gives me confidence is knowing that yesterday, I was on that free-throw line 100 times and I made 95 of them. That’s what gave me confidence. It was the purposeful, good practice.” It’s not just practice makes perfect. It’s good practice makes perfect. It’s purposeful, meaningful practice where you’re trying to get better and not run through the motions. I think about that from athletics.
In music, I didn’t win an audition unless I practiced a ton. Those are the types of things that can start to give you confidence. I could perform live in front of an audience because I had practiced and felt confident, “I got this.” When I had that stuttering moment, I’m like, “I know this. I’m good. Let me keep going.” Maybe a plug for team sports, a plug for music, for kids growing up, and having extracurricular activities. I learned much beyond having a musical language and having exercise in my life. I learned these other attributes that, for me, it gave me confidence. It’s like, “I can transfer these skills elsewhere.” It’s about your knowledge base and practice.
I have seven steps to audacious confidence that I have for myself and one of them is your spiritual tags, your talents, assets, gifts, and your skills. I always tell people, “You have to catalog those things.” Even if you learned it in one area, you have to know how to transfer it into something else. If you know what skillset you have, if you know what those things are for you, then you can pull it out of your bag even if you’re in a situation that is new to you. You can say, “It’s like basketball. I can do this because when I was here, I did that and it worked. I’m going to apply that same principle over here.”
Drawing back upon the whole team sports and I was in choir, which is like a team activity, that was also a big part of it for me in the professional life as well, especially when I became a manager and I had teams. You can’t do everything yourself. It’s not possible. I have to humbly say that any successes that I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of, is because of the teams that I’ve been a part of. I’ve had good people that work for me that gave me a lot of slack and leeway to figure out how to manage. I’m grateful to them too. I’m sure that there are some folks, earlier in the career and I’m sure even later in the career, sometimes the personality matches and all that. Ultimately, it is a two-way street.
What was it like being a kid for you? What were you like? Were you a confident kid? Were you a shy kid?
I was a shy kid.
Is that why you got into sports?
I got into sports and music because my dad, in particular, he was into everything. He wanted to attend events. Whether it was a sporting event or the opera, the symphony, or Broadway musical, he wanted to go to things. He was also athletic as well. I enjoyed these things. Before I got into music, I used to draw all the time. My identity as a kid growing up was as the kid who could draw. I remember when I was in junior high I was going for a try out for the basketball team. I remember one of the kids said, “You’re going to try out? You think you’re going to make it?” I had to look at him and I said, “Yeah. I’m going to try.” Maybe I got on because I was tall. I was one of the taller ones. By senior year, I was one of only two kids in my whole class that was on the basketball team. I put my heart into it. It was about practice. Growing up as a kid, I was shy. I had my circle of friends. I didn’t go out on any dates. I was too shy to ask anyone out, that didn’t happen until college. I love the sport. I love music. All my friends were mostly in the chorus, that’s where the majority of my friends were.
Looking at your childhood, would you have thought that as a child you would be where you are now in your life? Would you have thought, “I’m this amazing leader, I’ve done all these great things?” Would you have seen that for yourself?The good thing that comes along with experience is that you recognize that there's more than one way to succeed and it doesn't have to be your way. Click To Tweet
I appreciate you saying that, first of all. You’re kind. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of some great teams. Maybe I’ve been lucky. Maybe I’ve been in the right place at the right time with the right people. Maybe that’s what it’s been. As a kid, I remember I couldn’t think past the year 2000. I thought that by the year 2000, I was going to be old. There were going to be lots of things in place for me.
The Jetsons’s age.
I didn’t know what I was going to do as a career. I had no idea. I remember being in high school and being jealous of all the classmates who said, “I’m going to pre-med. I’m going to this school, this college.” It’s like, “I don’t know. How do you know?” It wasn’t until I was a junior in college and it clicked for me. I’ve been working several summers at a place called the Ravinia Festival in the Chicago area, which is a summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. They’ve got an indoor pavilion that seats about 3,000 and a lawn that seats about 20,000.
As it turns out, it’s the biggest summer music festival in the country that includes classical music. I worked there several summers back to high school where I was an usher and I was a backstage production assistant. I thought, “I want to run a place like this one day. Shortly after I graduated, there was a job open. It was in marketing. It could have been in any of the departments. It could have been in fundraising. It could have been in artistic planning, arts education. It could have been any of these things but it happened to be marketing. I interviewed and I got the job. I worked hard from there. I had never taken a business class or a marketing class before that.
That’s great. On-the-job training, OJT. Don’t ever despise on the job training because it’s valuable. You’re a brand-new dad. The other question I do want to ask you was about what you see for the arts industry because it’s taken a big hit. Tell me about your kids.
They’re small. We’re blessed to have them. We’ve got twin boys. We had been wanting to have children for some time. We’re grateful that we were blessed for them to happen. It’s been interesting during this time, during 2020, during the COVID situation. We’ve been able to spend some good quality time. By the time maybe things open up a bit more in the country and there’s more opportunity for the arts community to reopen, we’ll be in an even more of a routine of sorts. We’re already getting there, which is nice in terms of sleep and able to have some semblance of a normal workday.
Do you think you would’ve been a different dad if you weren’t sequestered at home?
It would certainly be a different kind of stress, that’s for sure. I would have wanted to be home more often than I would maybe be able to be. A different kind of dad, I’m not sure how to answer that.
This is the reality that you are. We had that conversation before about twins and having one child versus two and you said, “This is all I know. I don’t have any other point of reference.” You don’t have another point of reference to being a dad outside of this situation. It’s an unfair question.
No, it’s all right. It’s also a perspective, not that I’ll have a clear perspective on how dad was in their first three months of life.
They won’t know.
It’s been good for us to be able to spend this quality time with them and know that it’s considered and acceptable to be at home and do work remotely.
How is leadership through a crisis? How do you see leadership through a crisis?
My view on leadership through crisis is one, to not forget that you’re not doing this alone, you’re doing this with others, and to not be afraid to have a difficult conversation and not be afraid to talk about difficult facts that may be in place. Two, listen to your team. They’re thinking about, presumably, the best interests of the company, whatever your company is. You should listen to them and think through how to be a thoughtful leader in considering all the advice that you’ll be getting.
Do you think there needs to be more transparency when there’s a crisis?
There needs to be measured transparency. Let’s take the arts as an example. Many organizations are having significant layoffs and furloughs. These are difficult conversations to have. It’s challenging for me to hear about colleagues of mine who are having to deal with this. It’s a financial reality at a certain point where you have to look at the numbers and say, “If we don’t do this, we will have to cease all operations.” Those are the types of scenarios that start to become the choices if you don’t start making other choices. Letting a team know that there are some tough choices coming up. I believe in a safe environment. It’s hard to do that when you’re trying to be transparent sometimes too. If you say to your entire team, “There are going to be layoffs and furloughs,” that sounds scary.
Everybody freaks out.
When I say measure transparency, there’s a right time to lead. When you have a plan in place, it’s irresponsible to throw it out loud, “There might be some layoffs.” As a leader, “Maybe there won’t be.” You have to talk to your leaders in the organization and say, “What are our options? What do we need to throw on the table? Let’s come up with a thoughtful way of moving forward. Let’s be sensitive and respectful to know that these are people’s livelihoods. Not only are we talking about affecting an individual but we’re talking about affecting their families too.” We have to be careful about this, the way we go about it.
There’s been a lot of good and sensitive communication with colleague organizations. There have been some furloughs. At the same time, a lot of organizations are keeping the health benefits alive. Doing things like that and saying, “We care about you. We’re not going to throw you out there entirely.” In some cases, maybe you can’t do that. Try to find thoughtful ways to share with someone, “This is a tough situation. We don’t like it. I don’t like this. This is why we’re doing this. This is how it’s going to affect you. This is what we want to do for you to help you land on your feet. Hopefully, we can reopen our doors and you’re back with us immediately. If not, as an individual, we want to see you land well.”There's always someone else that's out there that's willing to work harder than you. Be that person. Click To Tweet
Hopefully, what do you see for the arts community moving forward, even if this reality stays this way for another year or two where we can’t congregate in large crowds?
There’s a wish list of what I’d like to see. There are a few things that are likely to happen in some ways that are unknown. I clearly don’t have a crystal ball, most people don’t. I do believe that arts organizations will continue to test things. They will try things out. They will get better and better at the live streaming concept or the live recording concept and trying to get better at producing digital content. The marketing and digital marketing teams and all these arts organizations are busier than they’ve ever been before. All these organizations are saying, “Our only interaction with the public is online. We need to figure this out.” Some organizations are trying some things and they’re going away because they’re not working. They’re not getting good engagement.
The tough thing for a lot of live performing arts organizations is the notion that your main brand association with that organization is attending something live. When you take that away, you start to ask who you are as an organization. Are you going to simply produce what you would normally do live but make a digital? Now that we’re in a world where people are on Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams all day for work, do they want to sit in front of another screen for entertainment? It makes the big screen TVs even that much more enjoyable because it feels like it’s different if you’re sitting on a couch.
What would be on my wish list is that Apple or Sony, one of these big digital entertainment companies, further develops home entertainment in 3D so that there can be a live performance. It is captured live and it can be streamed and you can right-size it for whatever stage at home you want to give it. If you want to have it on your desk, then it’s that size. Whatever cameras need to be created and used to create this 3D holographic live performance of what you are paying to see. If you want to make them big, you can right size and make them bigger. If you want them to sit on your couch and have them be the size of your living and have it real life-sized, great. It’s as if your favorite performer is inches away from you and you can see in their eyes. I like to believe that something like that is going to happen. It may not be in 2021 but at some point, it’s going to happen. Many people are saying, “Woe is me. This is terrible. I have to do all my entertainment at home.” Let’s not forget that there are lots of physically disabled individuals in this country that this is their life.
This has been their reality.
They’re saying, “Welcome to our world when it comes to entertainment.” We don’t know exactly what it’s like to live in their shoes. How great will it be for this innovation also for the physically disabled who are unable to travel or the elderly that it’s hard for them to travel?
They still want to have that same experience.
These are exciting things for me. How great would it be to have this access and these great experiences for those who might not have access? That’s an important part of the arts, it’s making sure that the arts are accessible to all.
This is such a great time for innovation. We’re seeing it already. The time of innovation is collapsing. Things are coming out and being produced at a rapid rate than before. It was the president of Pfizer that said that they’re going to be doing things in ways that it would have taken them months to get done. They need to get it done in weeks. They would collapse the time of development for something. It’s crazy numbers. It’s an exciting time that we’re living in, despite the devastation of it. It’s giving people an opportunity to stretch and grow. The last thing I do want to ask, not because you’re a new dad, but I do want to get people’s input regardless if they have grown children or young children. What would be your greatest leadership and confidence tip, the best advice for your children to become great leaders, and to develop solid confidence?
I say this humbly because I can’t say about myself that I think I’m a great leader. We’re all trying all the time.
It’s a work in progress.
We’re always learning. You’re always trying to get there. You read blogs. You read inspirational books. You try to take something on it and you try. You make mistakes and then you learn from them. If you’re human and you admit your mistakes, that’s also good. If there’s something at the heart, if I was trying to instill something in my children over a lifetime, number one is to work hard and maybe work harder than someone else. There’s always someone else that’s out there that’s willing to work harder than you. Be that person. It’s not about what people see. It’s about what you know. It’s not about people seeing you work hard. It’s about you knowing that you worked hard. You did it privately in your own room. You read the books. You practice a skillset. If it’s in sports, you went to the gym when no one was around and you practice your skills because you are challenging yourself. Working hard and practicing gives you confidence. Once you get there, be humble about it. Let’s say that you are proficient and good at something. Recognize that you also don’t know everything, you never will. You need to rely on other people who also know things. I think about watching the documentary series, The Last Dance.
As you were saying that, that’s what I was thinking about, Michael Jordan.
I grew up in the Chicago area. He was everywhere. He was omnipresent. You didn’t know how hard he worked other than you would presume that he did. You never saw him practice but you presume that he did. He is much better than everyone else. Not everyone may agree with that but being from Chicago, it’s true. There’s this great quote where he was interviewed after one of the championships and they said, “Would you consider yourself the greatest player of all time?” Do you know what he said? This goes back to humility. I’m not trying to compare myself to Michael Jordan by any means. I’m saying it in terms of leadership. He said, “It would be unfair to say that I’m the greatest of all time because we all played in different eras. I didn’t have a chance to play against Wilt Chamberlain or Oscar Robertson.” He did some against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar but not in his prime. He said, “It would be an unfair comparison. There are different eras. If someone else says I am, maybe it’s true. That’s it.” He was never going to come out and say, “I’m the greatest of all time.”
He’s not Muhammad Ali.
That was part of the show.
That was part of the confidence of Muhammad Ali. I appreciate you taking the time to chat with us and give us your perspective on this show. Any last words that you might have?
I’m grateful for the time and to have this conversation talking about leadership. What I would say in regards to leadership is that leadership is not about the head of the organization. It’s also not about the head of the department. Everyone can lead by example in the way in which they behave in the workplace. You can be the gossip person or you can not be the gossip person. You can choose to participate. As an entry-level person, by not participating, that’s leadership. I don’t want anyone who doesn’t think that they’re ready for it. Everyone is never ready for it and they are ready for it. It’s about a choice. Are you ready to lead? If you want to make a choice, start tomorrow. Start leading by doing some things that you think are the right way to behave as someone in the workplace.
Thank you, Andrew. We look forward to another episode of this show with our next guest. I’ll see you next time.
About Andrew Goldberg
A nonprofit executive with 25 years of experience, and since 2002, one of Miami’s top creative and unifying community leaders—a highly energetic and motivated arts administration professional with a strong track record of visionary leadership, strategic and operational management, branding, leading people, EDI advocate, and constituency engagement.
• Nonprofit executive with 25+ years of experience.
• Certificate in Nonprofit Executive Leadership (The Fundraising School & IU Executive Education).
• Certificate in Fund Raising Management (The Fundraising School, Indiana University).
• Diploma in Fundraising Management (AFP).
• Miami’s top revenue generator for the sector for 16 years, earning more than $200 Million.
• At the forefront of audience development and brand for the performing arts in Miami since 2002.
• Creator of ArtsLaunch, Arsht UTIX, MiamiArtsJobs.
• Past chair of the National Performing Arts Center Consortium for Marketing Directors.
• 2017 Black Owned Media Alliance Champion of the Year (Miami).
• 2018 American Marketing Association Nonprofit Marketer of the Year (National).