Episode 257: Developing Grit and Resilience Through Emotional Intelligence w/ Phil Johnson

phil johnson is the founder and ceo of master of business leadership inc.

In both our professional and personal lives, change and innovation will require emotional labor. Meet Phil Johnson, Founder and CEO of Master of Business Leadership Inc. He identifies the necessary human skills that we are all able to grow into and how EQ helps us persevere through fear of the unknown.

Bio: Phil Johnson is the Founder and CEO of the Master of Business Leadership program. The Master of Business Leadership (MBL) program has been leading in the field of career, personal, and corporate success for the past 31 years. MBL Program Alumni are in the United States, Canada, UK, Europe, Japan, Germany, Bosnia, Africa, Australia, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, India and Nepal.

Phil was born in Brantford, Ontario Canada on December 1, 1953. His family lived in a small 2-bedroom post-WWII bungalow where his mom and dad raised 3 boys. Phil was the youngest and quite a surprise as his mother was in her early 40s when he was born. They lived in one small bedroom with a coal burning furnace and no air conditioning. Phil’s father was a factory worker who never made more than $5.00 per hour. During WWII he served as a Sergeant in a mortar artillery platoon in North Africa. His mother was a factory seamstress who left her job to take care of their family.

Phil was born 6 weeks prematurely, weighing approximately 4 pounds. His first 6 months were spent in an incubator at the local Brantford General hospital. His dad would bring him milk each day on his bicycle because he did not own a car. Phil developed dyslexia, but it took him awhile to realize it. There was no such thing as dyslexia, ADD or ADHD in those days. He failed Grade 3 and Grade 5 and was labelled as a “slow learner.” Getting a “C” was a great mark, whereas “As” and “Bs” were impossible. 

Phil started working when he was 9 years old pulling copper wire out of the back of factory dumpsters and selling it for 5 cents a pound. That was his allowance. By the time he was 12 he had a part-time job working in a produce factory loading box cars with crates of corn. He also worked as a caddy at a local golf course and picked strawberries on a farm. When Phil earned his first paycheck, life was good!

However, a few years later his mother developed breast cancer. She underwent radiation and chemotherapy which led to a radical mastectomy. On December 3, 1967, she died. It was two days after Phil turned 14. Shortly thereafter, he made a decision that was to change the trajectory of his life. Phil’s dyslexia and mother’s death became the catalyst for his journey. It was a snowy January night around midnight. Standing behind a local factory Phil decided to “go for it.” He was going to see what was on the other side of the hill and come back and help his friends that had already given up on life.

That decision began the 55-year journey that continues today. He became an “A” student throughout the rest of grade school and high school. Four years later, Phil graduated in the top of his class from the De Groote School of Business at McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario, Canada. Later, he spent 5 years studying Electrical Engineering while beginning what turned out to be a 20-year career in the semiconductor industry. By the time his career in that industry had ended Phil had become a corporate executive. He was travelling over 60,000 miles per year throughout North America and the Pacific Rim.

In 1990, Phil remembered talking with one of his older brothers and commenting “Is this all there is?” He had accomplished more than he thought was possible, but in the process had become mindlessly focused on the drive to acquire and achieve conventional wealth and success. But obtaining the “brass ring” in his career was not as fulfilling as he had dreamt it would be. Along the way Phil had forgotten the promise he made to himself on that snowy January night in 1968. Phil eventually decided to leave corporate America. He needed to leave the herd to lead the herd in a better direction. A short time later he began the creation of what has become the Master of Business Leadership program.

Phil’s Something Extra: “The thing that all inspirational leaders have in common is that they have an emotional connection to a desired result that is stronger than their fear.”

Guest Links:

– Lisa Nichols, Host
– Jenny Heal, Executive Producer
– Joe Szynkowski, Marketing Support
– Kendall Brewer, Director of Leadership Programs
– Portside Media, Podcast Engineer