Chick-Fil-A’s Rodney Bullard: ‘If You Want To Change The World, Start With The Person Three Feet Away.’

In this episode of our Corporate Competitor Podcast, Chick-Fil-A Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility Rodney Bullard recounts how developing the qualities of trust, grace and dignity have helped him chart a stellar career rooted in his passion for giving back to the community. 

When Rodney Bullard was a young man, a personal mentor related a pearl of wisdom to him that he has never forgotten. “It’s called the ‘three feet analogy,’” said Bullard. “And it basically says that I may not be able to change the world, but I do know I can impact anybody within a three feet radius of me.”

Bullard saw the three feet analogy in practice during basic training at the United States Air Force Academy where he decided to go to school “because they had a good football program and a good mock trial team.” He set a goal to become an All-American, and when a knee injury ended his pursuit of national honors on the gridiron, he went on to achieve All-American status in something else—mock trial. During the hubbub of basic training, an upperclassman sidled up to him and said, “Cadet Bullard, I do not have to yell at you because you are yelling at yourself on the inside. This is about correction.”

Bullard received these words of encouragement as a call to become his own kind of leader, one who takes the time to develop and care for people. In his conversation with Don Yaeger, Bullard recounts how followed his passions, first for football to the Air Force Academy, then for mock trial to law school and then “for law, litigation, and giving back to people” leading to his current role at Chick-Fil-A.

Listeners will take away a big bag full of useful business nuggets such as:

  • Championing authenticity to unleash the special talents of each individual.
  • Using your competitive juices to push yourself while competing fairly and with discipline.
  • Cultivating the virtues of grace and forgiveness to deal with the ups and downs of leading others.
  • Laying a groundwork of trust to build confidence and comfort in your team.

“To me, building a great team starts with trust,” Bullard said. “Many teams fail to develop that. They go towards activity and action without recognizing that beneath any action there is a person who has to achieve the action.”

Have a listen.


8:00   How to develop team members.

16:00  The power of grace and forgiveness.

18:00  How to introduce competition in an appropriate and fair way.

22:00  What Rodney has learned from Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy.

25:00  Rodney’s future aspirations.

25:00  The key to creating confidence and comfort on your team.

25:00  How to build trust in a corporate setting.

Check out the full Corporate Competitor Podcast interview archive and subscribe to new episodes.


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