“Build trust and value in relationships that will last for generations,” is the daily mantra, personal goal, and life’s mission of Dr. Betty Uribe, executive vice president of California Bank & Trust, who holds a doctorate in organizational leadership.
It’s also the foundation of her international best-selling book, “#Values: The Secrets to Top Level Performance in Business and Life.”
Evan J. Cutts of Color Magazine spoke with Uribe about her passions, the psychology of leadership and connecting with clients and coworkers. Portions of this interview have been edited.
Evan J. Cutts: Can you tell me more about your role as executive vice president of California Bank & Trust?
Betty Uribe: At California Bank & Trust, a division of Zions Bancorp, I run the Greater Southern California Division, which is a $3.5 billion business line covering retail and business banking. CB&T has loans of $8.8 billion, deposits of $10.5 billion, and total assets of approximately 60 billion. Under my team’s leadership, CB&T has been named “Best Bank in Orange County,” for three consecutive years by the voting readers of The Orange County Register.
EJC: Is this your passion?
BU: My passion and my life’s work are linked. Part of my life’s continuum is making a difference and an impact on people’s lives. I wouldn’t have the influence or support to do that without my team and mentors at CB&T. What I do is—and has to be—bigger than me. I could not do this on my own.
EJC: Tell us about your book.
BU: #Values: The Secrets to Top Level Performance in Business and Life takes a look at creating sustainable business results in one’s business and personal life. I want to use the book as a tool to open doors around the world, to change the conversation from competition to collaboration, teamwork, and communication, which always begins with the art of listening.
I believe what is needed in the world–not only in our business lives but in our personal lives–is another look at our values. We need a back-to-basics approach, a return to the lessons we were taught when we were younger. Teamwork and collaboration, sharing, caring, being honest, empathic listening, and giving unconditionally, for example. That’s what #Values is all about.
EJC: Can you share with us your goals?
BU: Like my job at CB&T, my book exists on my life’s continuum of making a difference and an impact in people’s lives. Running a $3.5 billion operation in Southern California gives me a platform to really make a difference in the United States. #Values has expanded that platform to an international outreach.
My goal is to use this momentum and influence to create 100 scholarships for underserved students on each continent by the time I’m eighty.
The day my book came out, I unveiled this project at one of the inaugural galas in D.C. and raised $1 million that same day. I partnered with Chapman University and Rob Carr’s organization and, as a result, we now have an opportunity to impact the lives of 54 underserved students in Southern California.
Through the Unstoppable Foundation, we’re building schools in Kenya. On my return from Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Cup, I made some incredible connections and friendships. I feel the doors opening wide. We’re on the path to making a big difference for people all around the world.
EJC: How would you describe the psychology of leadership?
BU: All leaders are in the people business. No matter where you’re leading, what you’re leading, or whom you’re leading, if you’re a leader, you’re in the people of business. In my experience, even in the digital era–when you may never come face to face with an actual client– you’re in the people business. I realized that at the core of leadership is the person—the employee, the client, the listener, the community. At the end of the day, unless you tap into the core of the person’s mental and emotional intelligence, you’re not going to be successful.
I’d never been in a room full of billionaires, but at The Necker Cup, I was able to connect with incredibly successful business leaders in a way that was aligned with their core values. Many of those values, in fact, are ones I discuss in my book.
EJC: And so, how do you define success or gauge the value you add to your company and team?
BU: As a leader, my responsibility is to inspire people to be their very best 100% of the time, to create opportunities for others to follow suit, and to become their own leaders by maximizing their strengths.
If I’m 100% committed to your success, and you are to mine, we’ve created a beautiful partnership, whether in marriage, family, friendship, employment, or community. I live by a mantra that surmises my values, goals, and point of view on effective leadership. It’s also a promise—and the foundation of everything I do:
“Build trust and value in relationships that will last for generations.”
EJC: Can you say more?
BU: There are some keywords in my mantra: Trust, Values, Relationships, and Generations. How do you build trust? You do what you say you’re going to do, and you do that consistently. To build value, you have to be in a mindset where you’re constantly looking to add value, open doors, and make connections with people around you. When I talk about relationships, I’m talking about being present with the people I’m with. When you’re having a conversation with someone, that person should feel like they are the only person in the room and the only object of your attention. In terms of generations, I want my employees to be so satisfied with working for me that they want their children to work for me at CB&T, or at any other area I work in the world. For our customers, I want them to want their children’s children banking with us because we add that much value to their business and personal lives.
You know the old adage: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I ask clients, “What’s your story?’ and “How can I add value you to your life?” When things like price are no longer a part of the conversation, they realize that I’m genuine. A paradigm shift occurs. And the bond becomes deeper.