IAM1725 – CEO Helps Companies Improve Employee Experience and Organisational Performance

Podcast Interview with Omar L. Harris

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: Omar is extremely talented and has lots of perspective and experience in being a business person and “connecting opportunity with commerce.” He has a holistic organization and different methodologies on how to make sure he's providing value for organizations. I thought that it was powerful to hear that weakness wasn't the starting point but “strength is from his consulting in DEI and many other solutions he provides.

I AM CEO Handbook Volume 3 is HERE and it's FREE. Get your copy here: Get the 100+ things that you can learn from 1600 business podcasts we recorded. Hear Gresh's story, learn the 16 business pillars from the podcast, find out about CBNation Architects and why you might be one and so much more. Did we mention it was FREE? Download it today!

Previous Episode:


The full transcription is only available to CBNation Library Members. Sign up today!

Omar L. Harris  Teaser 00:00

Better to gain progress in learning and to fail and learn and pick yourself up again than to achieve perfection. And, that's a lesson I'll definitely pass on to myself if I could go back into a DeLorean and really speak to my younger version of myself.

Intro 00:14

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs, without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:41

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories or topics or as I like to call them the business pillars, that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, and what I like to call the CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focused on our greatest asset, talent management and hiring. Think from great resignation to the great renovation. And if you disagree with me, maybe these episodes might be, especially for you. Life and especially business has changed. It has forced those that are within organizations to look differently at talent, how it's being managed.

When we talk about change, think about it, we have to realize that business as usual is no longer here. That's evident in attracting and retaining clients, but also in setting up, people within organizations to succeed. Think onboarding, think DEI, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. How it is working from home and even going back into the office.

Things are different in this month. We are going to explore these topics by featuring CEO hacks and CEO nuggets, but also interviews that focuses on these changes and how organizations can make sure they care for and attract the most valuable asset, their people. Sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I AM CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello, this is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Omar L. Harris of Intent Consulting. Omar, super excited to have you on the show.

Omar L. Harris 02:12

Good to be here. Gresh.

Gresham Harkless 02:13

Yes, super excited about all the work that you do and all the awesome news that you've been able to create. But before we jumped into the interview, I wanted to read a little bit more about Omar, so you can hear about some of those awesome things.

Omar is the founder of Intent Consulting,, and, a former GM. Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, speaker award-winning bestselling author of five books, including “Be a Jedi Leader, Not a Boss. Leadership in the Era of Corporate Social Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion”. “The Servant Leader Manifesto” and “Leaderboard: the DNA of High-Performance Teams”. With 20 years of global pharmaceutical executive experience building teams, Omar has worked in four continents, the United States, middle East, Asia, and Latin America. For Pfizer, Merck, Schering-Plough and more.

His books and work have been featured by CNN HLN, Weekend Enterprise, Black News Channel, WPXI-T V, NBC News Pittsburgh, CBS/ABC/Fox Lake Charles, the Beating Alpha Podcast, the Living Corporate Podcast, Real Leaders, Ladders, SHRM blog, Thrive Global, CEO World Magazine, Human Capital Innovations Podcast, Voice America, Roland Martin Unfiltered and many, many more. And as fun facts, Omar speaks five languages, plays seven instruments, and started his first company at the tender age of 7.

Omar, super excited to hear about all the awesome things you're doing. You're a man of many talents, but super excited to have you on the show. You ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Omar L. Harris 03:41

See also  IAM251- Health Insurance Agent and Podcaster Helps Families and Businesses with Financial Protection

Yes, I am Gresh. Let's get into it.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:43

Let's make it happen then. So to kick everything off, I know I might have touched on it a little bit, but I wanted to rewind the clock and hear a little bit more on how you got started, what I call your CEO story.

Omar L. Harris 03:51

Okay, so I guess my CEO story we can go back to when I was seven years old when I started my first company. Really it starts with being able to connect opportunities in commerce. So, we moved to a neighborhood in Charleston, West Virginia, where we lived off. It was pretty much an all-black neighborhood that was next to a country club which is a very odd situation to be in the first place.

But basically, all of the backyards were littered with golf balls. And so, I basically told all my friends to gather all the golf balls they could find. We crossed over the fence and we started selling golf balls back to golfers, basically. We sold the colored balls for 50 cents and the white balls for 25 cents. We financed our entire summer of escapades.

That was my first introduction to being a CEO. So I guess right from the beginning, I've always been someone who had the ability to connect dots that other people couldn't connect and then transform those ideas into actual, tangible business outcomes and I've been doing it for now over 30 years.

Gresham Harkless 04:51

Yeah, absolutely. I love to definitely hear that entrepreneurship at a young age, and I love that phrase that you said, connecting opportunity with commerce. Because I think so many times with starting and building and making an impact, you can get lost in the sauce, for lack of a better term and not realize that at the essence of what I think entrepreneurship is as whole too.

Omar L. Harris 05:09

Yeah. Yeah. I think that basically, everybody gets so protective about ideas. Like they're just my idea, that idea, an idea being stolen. I tell people an idea and $5 to buy a cup of coffee, Starbucks. It's not anything, what matters is execution. Like, the execution of an idea is where you really put your unique fingerprints and DNA on the idea. That's why when you execute an idea, no two ideas will ever be executed exactly alike. That's the difference maker is the execution, not the idea itself.

Gresham Harkless 05:38

Yeah, absolutely. And so I wanted to hear a little bit more about where you're running, how you're making an impact, what you're executing on. Could you drill down and tell us a little bit more on how you're making that impact and how you're serving the clients you work with?

Omar L. Harris 05:48

Yeah, so over the last year and a half, I've established my umbrella organization under intake consulting. And intake consulting is basically just the overarching company that allows me to do all the things that I wanna do and make the impact that I wanna make, but whether that be in consulting, whether that be in thought leadership, coaching, speaking, publishing facilitating workshops, and doing training and design and also technology. So basically over the last year and a half, I've been able to actually establish take consulting and launch every single one of those verticals I just mentioned to you because each one of those things is discreet vertival.

So training is one, vertical speaking another vertical coaching, consulting another. So basically I've been able to launch all of them and see how the world responds to one or the other and see which ones are more lucrative versus others, and then be able to then accordingly assign my capacity and my time to whichever areas are growing the fastest. So right now, I would say, Consulting, executive coaching, and speaking are paying the bills. Publishing, of course my books are paying the bills while I invest in technology and different platforms. So in and are two sides of the same idea but done in two completely different ways, executed from two different sides.

One, Equity Pulse is basically around encouraging employees of large employers to give their feedback on Jedi progress in an anonymous fashion to a third party. So basically was for employer ratings around salary and the process for getting hired. Equity pulse is really the same thing. It's the accountability measure of companies who say they're gonna be making progress against justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. But actually, equity pulse is the measure of that, the accountability measure of that externally. So, that's basically launched, and then tempo that IO is within it.

It's gonna be a tool within organizations that are utilized to enhance employee inclusion. So you have the enhancement inside the company, you have the accountability outside the company. And both of these are launched have been launched as of September.

Gresham Harkless 07:55

Nice. I definitely appreciate that, and especially the holistic nature by which you've been able to execute on each of those strategies. I almost feel like, and correct me if I'm wrong, each of them has, it sounds like an overall kind of support to an overall mission. They just do it in different ways, and I feel like sometimes with issues that I think you're focusing on and you're tackling that are definitely pressing and needed, it's really hard to do it with one, avenue with one way. I feel like it probably takes that holistic nature to just start to see that progress.

See also  IAM571- Founder Shares Business Proposal Best Practices

Omar L. Harris 08:22

I fully agree. And you have to figure out your own. Why, what are you doing it for? Like what is the why? And so, my why is to empower people to live their best lives by embracing servant leadership principles and stopping toxic leadership principles at the same time.

So basically when I think about that mission of like, what are the various ways an avenue that I have at my disposal to make that mission happen, and what's my own experience? What are my own strengths? What am I passionate about? What can I be compensated for? And what does the world need? So basically, when I put that together, I saw the umbrella of intake consulting come together and basically been very grateful but also very fortunate to have seen it do as well as it has so far.

Gresham Harkless 09:02

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. So I wanted to ask you for what I call your secret sauce. It could be a little bit for the organization, yourself personally, or a combination of both, but what do you feel sets you apart and makes you unique?

Omar L. Harris 09:12

I would say my secret sauce is that I base everything on positive psychology and the strength space basically. Whereas a lot of people are looking through the lens of what's wrong and what's negative about a situation, I look at every situation starting with what's already working well, and then we work backwards to how we can mitigate and improve on weaknesses.

The weakness is not the starting point, the strength is the starting point. And so by looking into the lens of strength, first of all, you get a lot more advocates right from the beginning because I'm talking to you about what's already working well, and I'm saying how can we take that to the next level. So if you go into an organization that's trying to do a DEI strategy and prove around these areas, the first question I'm gonna ask is, what's working well? What's already working? Do you have an employee resource group? Have you hired DEI lead? Has that person been given resources, resource appropriately? What's the priority nature of this?

If you've done all the right things, then we're gonna start with that and we're gonna build on that first. Then we're gonna go into, okay, so then how do we do more of this and enhance the next thing coming down the pipeline? So that's really my unique approach, is really going through everything strengths-based. Positive psychology, and not coming at it from, just a purely, critiquing standpoint.

Gresham Harkless 10:20

Nice. I appreciate that. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit, and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have. But what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Omar L. Harris 10:32

Okay, so my CEO hack is from The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. If you haven't heard of Hal Elrod, please look up at the sky. He has an amazingly inspiring story. Basically at 21 years old he was at the top of the world. He was in a horrible car accident and had to be taken out of the car with the jaws of life. Was basically in a coma for seven days, the body was crushed and when he woke up from the coma, rather than being depressed about basically what he had lost, he decided to lead into gratitude.

That leading into gratitude has led him to become a world-class global thought leader speaker in demand coach around the world. His book, the Miracle Morning, is something I read a couple of years ago that really lean in something that I already believed in but gave me a motto and a framework that I could apply. So basically The Miracle Morning is a new approach to starting your day. So based on how the study of how the most successful people in the world approach just starting their day, he initiated a program called Savers.

Savers is basically an acronym for the first s is for silent meditation. A for affirmations, V for visualization, E for exercise, R for reading, and the final S for scribing or gratitude journaling. So the first hour and a half of every day are doing these six things. And basically when you line up your day that way, what you're doing is you're investing in yourself right from the beginning of the day. You are personally developing every single day. You're improving yourself every single day in all aspects. Spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional.

See also  IAM1002- CEO Connects Homeowners With Local Lawn Care Professionals

This gives you an edge that basically if you do this consistently over time it will be very difficult for people to basically keep up with you in terms of the fact that you're developing at such a fast rate.

Gresham Harkless 12:23

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. So, I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO Nugget. So this is a little bit more of a word of wisdom or piece of advice. You might have already touched on this, but it's something if you were to hop into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self or potentially your favorite client.

Omar L. Harris 12:36

If I were to hop into a time machine, I would go back to talk to 29-year-old me, who was a business unit director who was leading his first big organization. I would go back and tell myself that perfection is the enemy of progress. So basically I think at that time of my life I was too focused on trying to appear perfect. I think it's something that a lot of us in terms of black and people of color, women in business, we come in and we don't believe we have that leeway to fail. We believe that we have to be absolutely excellent or else we're not gonna get any opportunities. That's not the case.

Actually by trying to be perfect, it means you're not taking the necessary risks to gain progress. And so it's better to gain progress in learning and to fail and learn and pick yourself up again than to achieve perfection. That's a lesson I'll definitely pass on to myself if I could go back into DeLorean and really speak to my younger version of myself.

Gresham Harkless 13:30

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. So, wanted to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote and quote, CEOs on this show.

So Omar, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Omar L. Harris 13:40

So, being a CEO to me is to be a steward. I used to tell people that a company is something unless you are the founder of the company, and the company's basically Ford and you work for Ford, it's something that's bigger than you, your family, your name, your legacy. It is an entity that has a purpose that's bigger, hopefully bigger than just making profits and making money. So, as a steward, your job, and you don't know how long you're gonna be given the keys to run this thing, basically, as a steward, you have to make a choice in terms of how you want to own and operate your entity and your organization.

For me, the key to being an effective leader CEO today is to orient yourself toward the people who are adding value to your external stakeholders. So basically, don't make it about yourself. The less you make it about yourself, the more your organization will achieve because you'll be focused on the right things. When CEOs make everything about their ego, their ideas, and what they want to get done, you're actually limiting the potential of your own organization because everything has to come through, filter from you.

Gresham Harkless 14:45

Nice. Absolutely. And of course, I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do now was pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know. Of course, how best people can get ahold of you, your team, get a copy of your books and find out about all the awesome things.

Omar L. Harris 15:00

So anything about me is Anything about my books is, Omar L. Harris, and if you wanna connect with me on LinkedIn, Omar L. Harris. I think those are the three best ways, to connect. I think that for me the message I like to pass on at the end of podcasts when I'm talking to leaders is don't forget to lead with love. Really, as I mentioned before, leadership is a vocation. It's a gift.

Gresham Harkless 15:22

Nice. I truly appreciate that Omar. We will have the links and information in the show notes as well too so that everybody can get ahold of you and get in touch and find out about all the awesome things that you're working on. I appreciate, of course all the love and the awesomeness that you've been doing as well too. And I of course, hope you have a phenomenal rest of day.

Omar L. Harris 15:37

Thank you. All the best.

Outro 15:40

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast, powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 media. Tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Want to level up your business even more? Read blogs. Listen to podcasts and watch Also, check out our I am CEO Facebook group.

This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button