Age is an Attitude: Mike – what is your professional background in your “pre-50 years old” life?
Mike Huse: I started bagging groceries at QFC at age 16 and for the next 29 years stayed in the grocery business. I left QFC in 1999 as president of the company. We had 105 stores in the Pacific Northwest and a big part of my job was selecting and mentoring future leaders for the business.
Age is an Attitude: You left in 1999, how old were you when you left?
Mike Huse: 44.
Age is an Attitude: Did you have any idea when you left what you were going to do next?
Mike Huse: I had no idea.
Age is an Attitude: What precipitated the departure?
Mike Huse: We had been acquired twice during my last two years at QFC. As we assimilated the change it became apparent that I was not part of the company’s go forward plan.
Age is an Attitude: You left at age 44 not knowing what you were going to do next and how did you get from there to becoming a part of Vistage?
Mike Huse: Initially I did some consulting and some real estate projects with friends. I also considered starting another supermarket chain. I bought a boat and made a number of fun trips into the Canadian San Juans. I wasn’t sure what to do next. My family convinced me I needed to get more “plugged in” so I got some help from a professional who helps senior leaders that find themselves in a state of career transition.
He had a terrific process that helped me get really clear on what I was good at, what I might like to do, and from that we developed a number of strategies of what could be next in my career. During this process I met one of his college friends, who was a Vistage Chair.
In meeting with the Vistage Chair I learned about the organization and discovered it would enable me to focus on what I’m good at – which is helping people grow in the career – by challenging them and holding them accountable – to achieve their personal and business goals. I soon went thru training and started my first Vistage group in 2006.
Age is an Attitude: You were right about 50-years-old when you did this?
Mike Huse: When I started, yes. I was 50-years-old.
Age is an Attitude: Okay. What was the toughest time for you as you pursued this new idea?
Mike Huse: Picking up the phone and cold calling CEOs and business owners – to describe Vistage and how it could help them in their business. Making those calls was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done – to persevere and make it happen.
Age is an Attitude: What made you stick with it during those tough times?
Mike Huse: I wanted to be successful and I really believed in the work and believed I could make a difference. In going thru the QFC mergers there were matters I couldn’t share with anyone. I would have benefited from Vistage and I was able to explain this to potential members.
Age is an Attitude: What's been one of the most gratifying aspects of your Vistage tenure?
Mike Huse: Seeing leaders and business owners grow – both personally and professionally. Helping them become more effective in their business, and in some cases seeing that growth turn into fruitful exit strategies that exceeded their expectations.
Age is an Attitude: Is there a favorite quote of yours?
Mike Huse: I'm not sure I'm saying it exactly right, but "Seek first to understand, then be understood." It really speaks to the work I do with CEOs.
Age is an Attitude: Any significant childhood memories?
Mike Huse: The most significant memory was my father passing away when I was 14 years old. I became the man of the house with two younger brothers and a sister. I grew up in a hurry and had a lot of responsibility.
Age is an Attitude: How about one of your proudest adult accomplishments?
Mike Huse: I think learning to be a good father and husband to my wife Linda. My intentions have been good but Vistage has helped me become more well-rounded in my relationships.
Age is an Attitude: What is a value you want to embody in the rest of your years?
Mike Huse: Live life to the fullest. Don’t take anything for granted. Be there for my wife, my kids, and maybe grandkids. Treasure those relationships every day.