Congratulations, Dr. Steve Marks, on 35 years as a TEC Chair!
With a Ph.D. in Counselling Psychology and Personnel and Industrial Management from the University of Oregon, Dr. Marks believes that leadership is unique for each individual. He embraces TEC as a vehicle to model the best and most impactful qualities displayed by successful leaders.
Dr. Marks started the first TEC Canada group outside of Calgary in 1987 and the first KEY Executive Group in Canada in 1992. He continues to help leaders with a variety of organizational responsibilities in the Greater Vancouver area identify roadblocks to their effectiveness and create cultures of openness, trust, and creativity. With a professional and personal background in group facilitation, conflict resolution, and strategic planning, Dr. Marks has made immeasurable impact on the TEC community over the past 35 years.
We sat down with Dr. Marks to glean insight, enjoy some memories, and understand the impact TEC has had on him.
Q&A With Dr. Steve Marks
Peer advisory groups, leadership coaching, professional networking, and so much more. The value and meaning of TEC are unique to many. What is TEC Canada to you?
TEC is an exquisitely designed professional development program.
As a member, TEC puts you in an environment that doesn’t exist anywhere in the rest of your world. It also exposes you to thought leaders across a wide spectrum of relevant topics to help you become a more successful leader and provides you with access to a worldwide network of other members to connect and share information. Finally, this program provides participants with their Chair who serves to integrate all these experiences for the members so they receive the most effective TEC experience. TEC provides a “safe harbour” for leaders to talk with peers about experiences that would not be appropriate to share with work colleagues, friends, or family.
It’s a very special place, and there’s a stickiness to it that keeps people there.
You’ve impacted business leaders in a myriad of ways. What impact has TEC had on you?
When I started with TEC, I was an outlier because I had no business background. I was a university professor with a Ph.D. in Counselling Psychology and Personnel and Industrial Management.
I always wanted to work with people and help them better themselves, however, I never practiced as a counsellor in a clinical setting because I was more interested in helping highly functioning individuals who were at the top of their game.
TEC provided a venue to apply my trade and follow this passion in a very meaningful way. I was, and still am, able to help people through very real issues. My members can talk to me about things they wouldn’t talk to anyone else about, which is such a privilege and gives me the right leverage to truly help them.
What tip would you give to Canadian business leaders?
It’s simple. Join TEC.
Different than all the other development opportunities, TEC is a “full meal deal” and a powerful opportunity for those wise enough to recognize it. When I introduce the program to a prospective member, I liken it to a specialty item on the smorgasbord—most people don’t recognize it, but those who do will pile it on their plates and go back for seconds.
Being a part of a functioning group with a Chair focused solely on your development and success is infinitely better than trying to access that in an uncontrolled way. TEC becomes a regular facet of your professional life and, like it or not, it forces you to take a day for yourself every month to reflect, re-energize, and step back from the routine responsibilities that capture your time when you’re in your business.
I was once thrown out of a man’s office after suggesting he join TEC, as he thought doing so would signal to his board that he wasn’t competent at his job. I still use this story to reassure my current members by letting them know that they are competing with companies with CEOs like this—those unwilling to be vulnerable, continually learn, and turn down the opportunity to become better leaders.
As a member, if you are not willing to participate, share, and disclose, you will sub optimize on your takeaways.
Can you tell us about a memorable time or retreat you’ve had with TEC?
There is undoubtedly in-depth learning that happens during our TEC meetings, but we also have fun.
One of my favorite memories was being at a meeting hosted by one of our members where we all put chef hats on and cooked omelets for lunch. I’m sure we achieved plenty of personal and professional growth that day, but I’ll never forget the secret to a fluffy omelet is water, not milk.
What impact have you had on your members?
We asked some of Dr. Marks’ members about the impact he had made throughout the years and here’s what they had to say:
“[Dr. Marks] instilled confidence in me to learn and grow, using takeaways from our meetings to better our business and myself. He encouraged me to share my experiences with our KEY group regularly and was always there when I had a question, a worry, or wanted a sounding board. On a personal side, Steve encouraged me to look after my wellbeing. Through our personal fitness challenges with each other, I was able to lose close to 50lbs while maintaining a healthy lifestyle—something I still enjoy today.”
“Steve provides exemplary wisdom, perspective, and guidance. He is also my pressure release valve! With business being so dynamic and ever-changing, I am so fortunate to have a mentor and coach so constant. Congratulations on 35 years, my friend!”
–Alan Chong VP of Procurement and Business Development at Donald’s Fine Foods
“As a member in Steve’s KEY group, he always created a safe place for us to expand our business acumen and personal growth. While there were many take aways, the one that was a game changer for me personally and over my business career was Steve’s ritual of a written goal setting approach. Written goals are hard to forget and having Steve as my accountability loop partner increased the probability of me achieving them. With no exceptions, he committed to a regularly scheduled accountability review on our goal status. I know this framework approach was the motivational fuel for successfully achieving many of my personal and business goals.”
– Steve Joyce, TEC Chair & former 19-year TEC KEY member
“I have many fond memories of Steve, having been in one of his TEC groups for 5 years. Whether overtly or through osmosis, I learned so much from Steve, most importantly around the soft skills that helped me grow as a people leader – things like active listening, seeking and understanding opposing views, patience, and acceptance. His warm and positive attitude was infectious, and I truly enjoyed and appreciated him as my TEC chair. Congratulations on an amazing career and thank you for all you did for me Steve!”
–Charles Chang Founder & President of Lyra Growth Partners
“Steve was an unbelievable asset to my business. I bought into it in 2011 and it increased in value by almost 8,000% in 7 years. He was always available and always helpful no matter what challenges I had and was the key individual in building our leadership team to run the company.”
-Russel Goossen, former President & CEO of K-Tec Earth Movers Inc
Thank you, Dr. Marks, for playing such an integral role in leadership development in Canada for over 35 years. Cheers to you.