leader network logo

Leaders of the Month for September 2005:

Jack Jr. and Garry Kinder


The Kinder Brothers' story:

In the book Corporate Giants: Personal Stories of Faith and Finance (written by Darden, et. al. and published by Revell in 2002), Jack Kinder Jr. reveals some of the wisdom that has made him and his brother Garry so successful over the past four decades. Jack recounts that he had been given speech training early in his career. After inquiring of his trainer, "How many points should a good speech have?" the trainer's humorous response came back, "at least one." Today, Jack often uses two points in the speeches he gives to the Kinder brothers' audiences. The first is to "Never get so discouraged over those things that you can't control that you lose the blessing and the joy that would come your way if only you would focus on the things you can control."  The second is this: "We teach; we preach; we try to live by three basic principles in business. The first one is, if you're expected to be there, be there. In other words, show up on time and show up dressed ready to play, attitudinally and physically. Second, make good on all commitments. A commitment made is a debt unpaid. Number three, always strive to do the Christian thing; always try to do what's right regardless of the politics of the situation."

The Kinders are known for staying brilliant on the basics and have compiled an impressive list of Kinderisms such as the following: belief precedes behavior; don't speak from the top of your head - speak from the bottom of your heart; never confuse activity with accomplishment; the way in is easy: the way out is hard.

In addition to achieving great success in the insurance and financial services industry, the Kinders have generated books, videos, and tapes to enable individuals and groups to maximize their potential. A memorable Kinderism quoted in the book Unforgettable is phrased like this: “You’re not made in a crisis: you’re revealed. When you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice. When you squeeze a lemon, you get lemon juice. When a human being gets squeezed, you get what is inside, positive or negative." As the people who have met the Kinders can attest, the brothers take great care to nurture what is inside themselves and those people within their sphere of influence. They achieve this through their commitment to the spiritual aspect of their lives.

In another Kinder quote appearing in Unforgettable, the Kinders state, "Long-term success is only possible when one's life is lived in balance." The Kinders expound upon that quotation in many of the public speaking appearances they make throughout the year by advocating balance in people's lives. To illustrate the concept, the Kinders describe the Christian cross.  They talk about each arm of the cross representing the different aspects of one's life: professional wellness, financial wellness, personal wellness (of one's relationships), and physical well being. They describe the center of the cross as the spiritual which unifies the other four aspects of the cross.

About Jack Jr. and Garry Kinder

Authors, Mentors & co-CEO's of the KBI Group 

Family: both brothers are married; Jack Jr. has one daughter and three grandchildren; Garry has two daughters and six grandchildren   

Background: The brothers have followed strikingly similar paths to get where they are today. Both were standout high school athletes named to all-state teams. Both attended and graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University where they participated in athletics in addition to their studies. Both entered the insurance business at a young age, went in to building agencies, and became vice presidents. The brothers founded the KBI Group in 1976 and provide management training, sales training, and home office consultation.

Home: Dallas, Texas, USA

Place in the world you most like to visit: Illinois still feels like home (the Kinders are originally from Pekin in central Illinois). Second best for us is New York City.

Current personal passion/dream: One thing is to help people be the best that they can be. Further, we strive to help people find what God’s plan is for their life and then help them accomplish it. We sometimes put thoughts together that we come across—poems that make a point; for example, you hold up a book that we have written and say, “It's wonderful to write a book or even paint an amber sky –and you point to a painting on the wall—but more wonderful it is to build a life and play the leader's part. You fan the hopes, you build the dreams that lie in every associate’s heart. And when they win through stress and strain, more wonderful it is to be those effective managers, leaders, coaches, mentors, who can say they came and they succeeded and why? And why, why? Because they followed me." That makes the point; it is by Alfred Whitehead.

The Kinder brothers reflect on their mentors: In the 50's our mentor was William T. Beadle, our college professor who taught us the value and the miracle of life insurance. He was the dean of the business school at Illinois Wesleyan University, and we were privileged to learn from such a legend. He was the man that contributed to the CLU movement in our business by designing and writing most of the texts.  Beadle demonstrated to his students that the product of life insurance is a miracle because you can purchase dollars guaranteed for future delivery, and you can purchase those dollars at a discount. It is the only investment that matures immediately when the heart stops beating, and it is all purchased with discounted dollars. Beadle really sold us and did it intellectually in the classroom for three hours a week for a full semester. In the 60's our mentor was Mr. Holderman. We called him Mr. Holderman until the day he died. He was our first manager at the insurance company we went to work for. We revered him, and he was an organizational genius. Then in the 70’s another mentor was Fred Smith (the Leader of the Month for February 2005).

John Gillespie, Executive Director of Roaring-Lambs.org, shares this about the Kinders: "A Roaring Lamb is a Christian who is effective right where he/she is in everyday life. They are making a positive difference by contributing to society, being a role model and providing positive alternatives in today’s world. Jack & Garry Kinder are Roaring Lambs!"

Jack Jr. and Garry Kinder and Leadership

Favorite books: The Bible--by far. To go into the secular world, an old book titled How I Raised  Myself from Failure to Success in Selling is a phenomenal book by Frank Bettger. We like Peter Drucker’s books for their high idea count. Fred Smith’s book You and Your Network is good as is Gardner’s book on excellence (Excellence: Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too? ©1961). We embrace and endorse the philosophy of Charlie "Tremendous" Jones when he says that the audiences over a five year span do not change much except for the books they read and the people they meet.

How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling You and Your Network by Fred Smith

Books recommended for aspiring leaders: Jim Collins's work is great for modern-day audiences. Our 21st Century Positioning book is all about how to think, work, sell, live, and study right, and behind each chapter is suggested reading. There are about ten books on each subject matter that we recommend.

21st Century Positioning

Most admired leader: We had a remarkable father who had not even a single grade of formal education. Yet, he learned to write, to add, and--somewhere along the line--he learned the basics quite well. He said you eliminate the word "can't" from your vocabulary. Take that out of your speech pattern. He was the greatest leader we ever knew. Another answer to that would be what George Bush answered when he was asked that question: he said that Jesus Christ was the greatest leader of all time.

Traits most important in a leader: A leader has optimism and can rally people to follow him/her; he/she also has ethics and character. You manage things but you lead people, and you rally them to a better future. We read recently that the opposite of a leader is not a follower: the opposite of a leader is a pessimist.

Favorite quotations: Those that come to mind would be these: “A commitment made is a debt unpaid”; “The best is yet to be”; and “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” We also like the following quotation from Clement Stone: “Do it now.”

Advice for aspiring leaders: Napoleon Hill said something like the starting point of all achievement is desire. Somewhat related to that is the quote from Shakespeare that "our doubts are our traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by failing to begin.” Marcus Buckingham said, “Build on people’s strengths” and “the most important thing in business is ethics.” Some of these people at places such as Enron, Worldcom, and AIG did not fail because of large egos, they failed because of a lack of ethics. That is why you read the book by John Gardner on Excellence (Excellence: Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too? ©1961). Way back in the 60’s Gardner said America’s head was in the wrong direction because of ethics. You just watch the society politically and morally: it is in a downhill spiral. Something we say is that you have to have that fire in the belly; you have got to have that desire. But if that desire gets greater than a person’s character, then he or she will do anything to win, including cheat. These people that were manipulating stock prices had so much desire, but they did not have the character to go with it. You need to have both. One of the best examples of that was Tom Landry. We never met a guy that wanted to win more than Tom. He was a real competitor, but he would do everything to win except cheat. It is the same way with Roger Staubach. Staubach is one of the greatest competitors who ever played the game (of NFL football), yet he would do everything to win except cheat.
If you want to be a great leader, you want to read everything you can on people who were great leaders. We take that idea from Charlie "Tremendous" Jones. We try to read everything we can get our hands on about Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan. Reagan was not only a great communicator, he was a great delegator. When you read those biographies, you learn what made them great leaders, and you can build that stuff into yourself. There are a lot of leadership books written about Biblical characters like Moses and particularly David. For example The Heart of an Executive is a book all about King David. It is about what he did right and what he did wrong. In addition, anything you can read about the United States Marines is well worth your time. It is great practical, everyday leadership that you can pull right out of those books. Zell Miller has written a tremendous book on his experience in the Marines (Corps Values).

The Heart of an Executive Corps Values

Where to Go for More About Jack Jr. and Garry Kinder

Visit the website for Kinder Brothers International Group, Inc.: http://www.kbigroup.com.

Read the Kinder brothers' books: Upward Bound, Winning Strategies in Selling (written with Roger Staubach), Positive Power of Successful Salespeople (written with W. Clement Stone), The Selling Heart, The Making of a Salesperson, 21st Century Positioning, and Building the Master Agency. To see a partial list of resource materials that the Kinders have produced, click here.

Winning Strategies in Selling Building the Master Agency Secrets of Successful Insurance Sales Corporate Giants Personal Stories of Faith and Finance