Creating a Place People Love to Come to Work with Sunny Lowe at Blue Jean Networks

Let’s be honest we have all had jobs where it is a chore to go to work. I hope you have had the experience of working in a place where you love to come to work. You can likely guess which environment has the most engaged and passionate people. Today’s guest is Sunny Lowe, President and CEO at Blue Jean Networks,LLC. Inc Magazine ranked his company #4828 on the 2020 Inc 5000 list. Blue Jean Networks provides audited managed IT support for companies needing reliable, process-driven strategies. Sunny shares how to create a place where people love to come to work. We look beyond culture to understand how to connect with people. When people love to come to work, the energy is different from places where people work out of responsibility.

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Sunny Lowe: The Transcript

About: As a leader of Blue Jean Networks, Sunny Lowe leads a great team of engineers and business professionals who manage and maintain computer networks for companies who are based in North Texas and who have subsidiaries all around the U.S. The greatest reward he gets, however, is what the clients say about the BJN team. “Clients rate BJN at 9.75 out of 10. The team has over 100 5 star google ratings and is the highest-rated team of network professionals in Fort Worth/Dallas.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Sunny Lowe: But the number one thing that when you’re going to be a business leader is your number one job is managing people and you would not believe how many business owners I talked to that loved their businesses, but hate managing people. They just hate it. And that idea is oxymoronic. It’s like saying you really love being a doctor, but you hate medicine, or like saying you love being a lawyer but you hate court. You know, I mean, it’s the idea that you, something that’s so integral to what you do is something you hate is driven mostly because of a lack of skills and a lack of real, identification with what it means to be a leader of this.

Intro: Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs, the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?

Gene Hammett: Many people don’t really love to come to work. I’m not sure why that is because I believe that we should create a place that people do love to come to work. They’d love to be a part of something bigger than they are. And today we look at that. How do you create a place where people love to come to work? We have a very special guest today. He is the founder of Blue Jean Networks. We have Sunny Lowe, Sunny talks about what he does to make a place that people love to come to work. And he talks about leadership and the things he’s learned in this journey. It’s a very interesting conversation. I think you’ll get a lot out of today and it will help you become a better leader. If you’re kind of on the fence of what to do next to be a better leader. To help you understand yourself, help you understand your people. I’d love to offer you a chance to sit down with me, have a chat.

And this really does come from my heart. I’d love to give you some insight, help you get perspective about your own leadership, about how you can create predictable growth. Create a culture where people love to come to work and increase the value of your company. I recently had a client of mine that I used to work with and he sold his business for over 20 million dollars. It was really exciting to see him excited about what’s next for him but also thrilled with what he’s done. I’d love to share with you some of the insights I shared with him, just go to my website, You can schedule your call, absolutely free. Promise that to sell you. And it’s all about you getting insight and perspective on what it takes to be the best leader you can be. Just go to and schedule your call now.

Now here’s Sunny.

Sunny. How are you?

Sunny Lowe: Hey, how’s it going?

Gene Hammett: I am great. I can’t wait to talk about what we came to talk about, but I want to talk about the company first. Tell us about Blue Jean Networks.

Sunny Lowe: Oh, what a great question. Blue Jean networks is the satisfaction of a dream for me to have a place that I could really make them mark fort worth and helping people run their businesses better. We focus on IT security and IT support for people. But we also do EOS implementation. We do coaching for people. We give away books for free, whatever we can do to move the needle for everybody from entrepreneur, all the way up to about a 250 person company.

Gene Hammett: Love it. When you think about. Your job as a leader and your job is to grow the people and make sure there’s a safe environment for them to perform at their best. , what are the things that you think about the most?

Sunny Lowe: Oh, what a great question. I’m going to, I’m going to give you some of the, some of the key concepts that we kind of drive on. Number one, this is from a guy named Merlin Sorenson, and he came up with an idea that you have to have four plans in your life and you have to have a life. That tells not only how to shut down your life, but everything you want to accomplish in your life, how you want people to think about you, how you want people to move through your life. And, , it’s your legacy plan. Then you’ve got, an annual plan or your life plan. He calls it, which is what are you, what part of your legacy plan are you going to execute on this year? And then we’ve got our business plan, which is how are we going to fund your life plan? And then we’ve got your leadership plan, which is how are you going to teach your people to run your business?

And he cycles through all four of these every quarter. And so we’ve taken that basic concept and are pushing it down to our employees to help them have legacy plans and lead it life, personal life leadership lands, and team leadership plans to help them drive their section of the business and to fund it. And what happens in the end? If, if you’re, if you have a ton of money left over at the end of your life plan, you don’t have a big enough life plan and you need to start looking at your legacy plan and your life. And so I, this happens a lot of people with big companies, they have a life that’s not as big as their revenue, and they need to really think through what to do with their life. And then you get at the other side where you get somebody, it could be an employee, it could be a business owner whose business plan does not fund his life plan. And he needs to rethink his business plan and get down to brass tax and be thinking about that. So that’s kind of one of the biggest frameworks we use, try to help move this ball forward.

Gene Hammett: So that’s much more than the traditional career planning that would happen with middle-level and front-level employees.

Sunny Lowe: Well, I know you’ve talked about your own need for significance and in your own search for significance Jean, and I think you don’t get your significance met until you meet your purpose in life. My purpose, I know it’s very simple in two words. My purpose is to grow men. Very simple. Anything I can do. That’s about growing another person. It’s, it’s in my life purpose. Now obviously I can’t do everything that can grow people, but I can pray briefly, bring frameworks and bring vision and bring direction into their lives to get it, get them excited about what’s coming next. And all of a sudden they grow.

Gene Hammett: Love that we were talking earlier before we put on there the recorder here today about how do you create a place that people love to come to work to? When you think about those, those words. As a leader, what are you looking at?

Sunny Lowe: For me, that’s a reflection of my faith. I’m a Christ follower. Typical Christian go to a Baptist church. But for me, that meant that my business was not simply a way to produce money. It was a stewardship that I did on behalf of God and others in my life. So that meant that as I ran the company, I had to run it, not from an egocentric. This is about me perspective. But as a steward of God, what is my life, and what is my business going to look like? So for me, that meant doing a lot of things, like really figuring out what an employee wants to be in his life and trying to help him accomplish that. , it meant helping my owners, my business owners, that I work with helping understand their values and then helping them live those out for, inside the company. And meant things like loan programs. And we have a great loan program. Anybody who needs money can get a 0% loan program in our company, but in order to take participant of it, they have to go through a Dave Ramsey class. And so if they, if they’re, they’re in a situation where they need a loan, doesn’t sound like they’ve managed their money, right. Well, let’s get them through a Dave Ramsey class. And as soon as they go through the Dave Ramsey class a loan for a loan. So we do that. We have a slush fund here in the company. It’s probably a terrible term, but someone breaks down their air conditioning. We just reach into the money and pay for it. If somebody, because somebody has to take an extra couple of days off because of, a bereavement, we pay that.

And the idea here is to be a giving company and to have giving, be the core of who we are. I think once you become a giving group if you want to make sure that you don’t get taken advantage of. And so the way you have to do that on top of that is to be a high challenge company. So what we want to be as a high care high challenge company, that is the top performers in our field.

Gene Hammett: I love the fact that you’re able to give away, you know, money to people, but, but I’m also curious. Beyond money because I, I always look for the things that we can do as leaders that are absolutely free that we just aren’t taking the time to do. So what would we see in your organization that creates that place? Where people love to come to work, that doesn’t involve, you know, us pulling out the checkbook.

Sunny Lowe: People don’t quit their job because they, want to go to another company. People quit their job because they don’t like their supervisors yeah. I mean, that’s the core reason. So how do you build supervisors that are gonna have love dignity and respect for the people that they’re serving? I don’t know if you’ve read Patrick Lensioni his latest book. , it just came out recently. It’s extremely short called the motive, but it is a life-changing book on how you really care for the people that are under your you’re responsible. Steven Law had in his novels, talks about an idea of sovereignty. That’s different than the kind that we’re used to with Kings. He says the sovereign doesn’t hold the land and then keeps people down. The sovereign serves the land and the people on behalf of the land and the people. And if everything you’re doing is about them, it’s very hard to think it’s going to be about you.

And if it’s about them, I guarantee you, they’re going to take care of you. I mean, that, that whole idea in the military of leaders eat last, the reason they last is when you take care of your people, your people will always make sure you get fed too.

Commentary: Sunny, just said something interesting. Maybe you heard this before. People don’t quit the company, they quit their supervisor. This means they not getting support. They’re not feeling appreciated, valued from the person directly above them. And this is the reason why most people leave their jobs. And so one of the things you have to do is make sure that you’re leading by example. I talked to a lot of people that say I could do a better job. At truly coaching and leading my people, but they’re not doing it. They talk about it, but they’re not doing it. If you want that supervisor to coach and lead the person, you want to make sure that you are coaching and leading that supervisor you’re modeling it for them. You’ve got to lead by example in every case. All you have to do to make sure that people want to stay don’t want to leave is to make sure their supervisors are paying attention to them, coaching them up, and doing all the things necessary for people to feel heard and appreciated across their work. There’s a lot more to it than that, but those are the quarters. I think they’ve got to get right back to Sunny.

Gene Hammett: I know that you’re a big reader because I recognize some of the quotes that you’re using and I have read the mode of it is a very simple read for those that haven’t read it yet because it is a new book. Yeah. And you said it’s pretty powerful. And you talked about looking at what is the one thing you took out of that book that we all should really pay attention to in leadership.

Sunny Lowe: The number one thing that when you’re going to be a business leader, Your number one job is managing people and you would not believe how many business owners I talk to that love their businesses, but hate managing people. They just hate it. And that idea is oxymoronic. It’s like saying you really love being a doctor, but you hate medicine. Or like saying you love being a lawyer, but you hate court, you know? I mean, it’s the idea that you have something that’s so integral to what you do is something you hate is driven mostly because of a lack of skills and a lack of real identification with what it means to be a leader.

Gene Hammett: I find that a lot of leaders don’t understand that. , and I try to make a distinction. I don’t necessarily like the word management as much. I like the word leadership, and I think they spend a lot more time managing the work and not enough time leading the people.

Sunny Lowe: Cool. Right. For me, leadership is really clear. It’s about setting what good looks like in a, in a job and then helping a person succeed at that job. And then understanding that if they’re not succeeding, one of two things is right either. You’ve got the wrong person. Which means they generally don’t have your core values or they don’t really get their job or want their job, or it’s sometimes have the capacity to do their job. And if they don’t have that gets, it wants its capacity. There’s no way they’re going to succeed in that job. But if they’re the right person in the right seat and they’re still not doing the job and there’s something wrong with the job and we can never think of it as a way of how do we get that? With that person to shape every system produces exactly what it’s designed to produce. And so if your system is designed to produce something to employees failing there, you got to change the system so they can win.

Gene Hammett: Sunny. I want to switch directions here a little bit because we’ve been talking about, you know, how do we serve our employees and how do we create this place, where they love to come to work. I want to talk about some of the places where you’ve evolved and changed in your style of leadership and your approach to leadership. I know you’ve read, read some books. We’ve talked about a few of them today. , what are those inflection points that you’ve seen and your journey to where you are today?

Sunny Lowe: Oh, they’re all over the map. When I started the company 12 years ago, I was coming out of a situation where I had failed miserably as a leader. I was the director of IT of another company here in town. I was a partner in the firm. I had built up one of the first managed service providers in town. And my senior partner came to me out of the blue. And said, we’re taking away all your clients and all of your people that you’re working with and we’re giving them to your assistant and we’re making him in charge of that. What are you going to do now? He said, oh, by the way, you’re not in charge of any boards on the, on the, on the board anymore. You’re not in charge of any of this. And he said so we’re, we’re not, we’re not firing you. We’re paying your salary. But because of our salary system, you don’t have income underneath it. Your salary is going to go down. So you got to figure out what you’re going to do. That essentially I was being fired without being fired. And I think of that as one of the greatest things in my life. I left that room. I was so mad. I mean, you can’t imagine how in shock I was. I went home, I got on my motorcycle and I rode for hours. And during that time I came to the conclusion that I believed in myself that I was worth it. That I could build a managed service provider. That was world-class, but that I had a lot of things to learn.

And then I had, I had apparently made some mistakes that I was so blind. I couldn’t have even told you what they were at the time. And so I started reaching out. , I found me a coach almost immediately, a company called the growth coach was franchising coaching at the time. And I said, I don’t know what, I don’t know, but I need to learn. And I went through the fast track from the Kauffman foundation and learned about all the different parts of the business that I could run better. And I got with service leadership and Dallas, and I learned everything about my P and L and my balance sheet and everything I could learn. And I went through, , a company called HTG out of Iowa, and I learned, that, core, thing that I think people needed me to be was a giver. And Bob Burg’s book, the go giver became poor to our company and everybody who starts in our company. Has to start with a copy of the Go-Giver and they have to read it and they have to own it. And we give tons of them away. And, and I learned that I wanted to, it was pouring to my heart to give to people. And so I just needed to figure out a way to do that in business.

And so I began to form a company that was based around the core principles of our company, and they were hard coming from who I was. Desiring to be a good enough businessman, but I also was determined to make a profit so that I could take those profits and reinvest them in other people. I know so many people that start a business so that they can serve some ministry and inevitably giveaway the business because they don’t ever earn enough money. And what I want to do is earn enough money so that I can give away to whoever needs it to for, for ministry. And it doesn’t impact me at all because it’s lost around.

Commentary: Sunny, just talked about hiring a coach. Now I talked to a lot of founders that have coaches and I talked to a lot of founders that don’t have coaches. One of the biggest mistakes I see them making is because they think that what got them here, we’ll get them there. And what I mean by that is they think that they just put their head down and get the work done that everything will work out and there’ll be able to work through this and maybe they’re right. But most of the time it’s been a lot more stress and pressure, and a lot more time to get these things worked out by themselves. A coach can give you perspective, give you a sense of direction and clarity that you just can’t get anywhere else. I probably haven’t shared this story with you, but I’ll give you the micro version. I got a coach about 20 years ago that helped me run my business from about a million dollars, not making much money to over 6 million in three years. And I was making a ton of money. Now, the key behind that was we were having regular conversations, and every time I brought an issue, we would talk about it and I would move forward with it and I would make something happen and I would create a team. I would delegate. I would have difficult conversations. I would put systems in place every time I move forward. And so thinking about the value of your business, if you hired the right coach, I’m not saying hire me. I only work with people that want to be, fast-growth companies and want to be better leaders. That’s not you, then you’re not a fit for me. That’s okay. There’s a lot of coaches out there that help you with whatever you’re you’re ailing with. And I want to help you understand that it shouldn’t be a stigma around reaching out for help. That many people are afraid to do it afraid of what it may look like. They don’t have all the answers. Well, some of the smartest people I know have coaches, I share all this with you because I love what I do. I love making a difference with others, and I want you to know that it’s okay to reach out and get help back to Sunny.

Gene Hammett: Love the story. When you think about the things that you learned through that, how were they changing you from the inside out? Because you know, you, you listed a few things that are like learn balance sheets and all that stuff. Those are skills. But many times I find that leaders like yourself have to change from the inside out, change that mindset. Do you remember what it was?

Sunny Lowe: Well, I knew what my, greatest gift was, which was learning. I, I was voracious about learning and so I began reading everything I could. So I heard somewhere that the top CEOs read 60 books a year. I don’t think I could hit that level, but I bet I read 20 to 50 books a year ending on the year. And I, I just re I realized there’s this idea in, in becoming a lawyer that you need to go and read the law. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that idea. But what this idea is, as you go into a library and you start reading the law and then you don’t try to memorize it, you don’t try to learn it. You just expose your mind to it. And then when the time comes, you can go, oh, I remember something about that. And now you’ve got a resource to go back to. It was in one of these books. Oh, there’s that, that law. And you pull that precedent out and you can use it. Well, business is the same way. Business is just the technology. How much you’ve been exposed to is how many handles you’ve got until. And so I, I began really believing that whole thing of vision without execution is hallucination. And I began to figure out how to become the best executer. And for me, that meant learned something, master it, handed off to another person, learn something, master it, handed off to another person. And I started doing that very early. My first one was attack than an accountant than another tech and then another tech.

And then I figured I had to start teaching these people because what they were learning was, was so valuable that they would turn around and go work somewhere else. So I became a teaching organization and we began to develop ways to, for them to learn faster to the point now where every tech that comes to our company has to master a new technology every ninety days. As to pass a certification on it every 90 days. So they’re all just, you know, learning mode all the time. And it’s, it’s really, I’m getting distracted here by a, by a phone call, sorry about that. But, they, they are doing that for us and, and mastering those technologies. And as it’s now gotten to the point where other people are learning things and passing them off and now it’s really scaling, but I think the number one thing. That was, that was changed. A difference for me was deciding to master those things in hand them on.

Gene Hammett: You’ve given us so much to think about and our journey to create a place where people love to come to work. I really appreciate you being here, Sunny, sharing your wisdom, and we really appreciate everything that you do for your employees and for the communities you’re in.

Sunny Lowe: Oh, man. Thank you. But I really appreciate you too, man. Gene you’ve you’ve you’re just the fact that you’re doing this podcast is amazing. Thank you for that.

Gene Hammett: The fantastic episode, the podcast is meant to serve you as a leader, to help you become more clear and confident in who you are. If you’re not sure what that is, I’d love for you to invite you to go to and schedule a call with me.

It will be all about you. A hundred percent on what do you need to do next? So that you can be the leader that your team deserves, and I want to help you create a company that’s got a higher value when you get ready to sell it. All you have to do is go to Schedule your call and we’ll talk for free.

When you think of growth and you think of leadership, think of Growth Think Tank as always lead with courage. Will see you next time.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.




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