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Leadership, Purpose And Impact, With Tim Welsh

There is almost nothing in the world that you can do that doesn’t involve money. In one way or another, banking has become a vital part of our lives. However, not many enjoy doing it. This episode’s guest is taking care of that. J.R. Lowry is with the Vice Chair of Consumer and Business Banking for US Bank, Tim Welsh. Here, Tim takes us into the amazing work they are doing of helping as many businesses and individuals as possible. He discusses their purpose of powering human potential and utilizing digital in a human way. Leading a team of about 25,000, he knows the kind of leadership it takes to move a big organization. He shares some of those lessons with us, tapping into hiring, productivity, and consulting. Plus, Tim also gives his thoughts on the banking industry, its changes, and where he thinks it’s heading. Join this conversation as Tim continues to take us deep into his leadership, purpose, and impact.


Check out the full series of "Career Sessions, Career Lessons" podcasts here or visit A full written transcript of this episode is also available at


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Leadership, Purpose And Impact, With Tim Welsh

Vice Chair Of Consumer And Business Banking For US Bank

My guest is Tim Welsh. Tim is the Vice Chair of Consumer and Business Banking for US Bank, the fifth-largest bank in the United States. He is also a Board Member for UPSIDE Foods, a developer of cultured meats. Prior to these roles, Tim was a Senior Partner with McKinsey, where he worked for an impressive 29 years. Tim's volunteer experience is at least as impressive as his for-profit work. He served as a board member for many of the Minneapolis area’s most well-known nonprofits and national organizations, such as Catholic Charities, and in an advisory capacity for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

He's been honored on multiple occasions, including by Twin Cities business, the United Way, and Catholic Charities, and Minneapolis even honored him with a Tim Welsh Day in 2006. Tim earned his Undergraduate Degree in Social Studies from Harvard University and he also has an MBA from the Harvard Business School. He lives in the Minneapolis area. Tim, welcome. It's an honor to have you on the show. I appreciate you making the time for it.

It's great to be with you. It's great to reconnect and I'm delighted that you're doing this work. It's important.

It's something that I have a lot of passion for, so I put time into it as much as I can. Let's start with your role. Describe for our audience what it's all about.

Thanks. I'm responsible for consumer and business banking at US Bank. For your audience, US Bank is the fifth largest bank in the country and we're a national bank with branches in about 26 states. My team is about 25,000 people or so who do all the things that consumers think about, mortgages, auto loans, stuff like that, plus similar kinds of credits and debt deposits for small businesses.

You were at McKinsey for a long time, 27 years. What prompted you to jump over to US Bank after so much time with McKinsey?

It's important to realize, at least in my experience, that these were two different decisions. The first decision was to leave McKinsey and that was a hard decision. I had grown up at the firm. To this day, many of my dearest friends are people that I have known from McKinsey. That's a difficult thing to do, but I had the privilege of finding an amazing group of clients to work with over many years. At some point, you realize what you came to do at that institution. I'm happy to share the stories later, but I came to help my clients.

That's why I wanted to be at McKinsey, and I found an incredible group of clients over time that I got enormous joy from helping. At some point, that ran its course and it was time to spend more time in Minneapolis, particularly with my kids as they were growing up. That was the first decision. The second decision was, “What am I going to do next?” We may come to it, but I do a lot of community stuff. I'm involved in the community and I could easily imagine doing lots of that community stuff.

I was fortunate enough that a great institution, an organization that I had the privilege of getting to know over a long period of time, there was an opportunity to join. I only joined because US Bank is a purpose-driven organization whose purpose aligns with what I'm trying to do. My central purpose is to help as many people as possible. Every time I turn on my computer, US Bank says, “We invest our hearts and minds to power human potential.” That's a fancy way of saying, “We're trying to help as many people as we can.”

The alignment of my personal view of what I'm trying to do in life, my own sense of purpose, and the bank's view was the perfect alignment. It wasn't like I was out there looking for lots of jobs. I decided it was time to leave and then, “If I'm going to do anything other than my community work, I want to do it at a place that has the same sense of purpose that I think is important.”

You're working in retail banking. As you said, consumer business banking. Retail banks are a fixture in the communities that they're in. There's a strong sense of purpose. I'm curious to get your view on how the industry is changing. The basic premise of people make deposits, people take loans, and businesses do the same. You manage in between. That part's all the same, but the changes around bank branches or lack of bank branches and banking and everything else that's changed. What are the things that are exciting you about where the banking industry is going?

First of all, I would pick up on your point that banking is important in people's lives. There is almost nothing that you can do that doesn't involve money. To be clear, you can do some important things like hug your spouse and your kids. Those things don't involve money. Those are important to do, but almost everything else involves money in some form. It's critical.

CSCL 53 | Leadership And Purpose

Leadership And Purpose: Banking is really important in people's lives. There is almost nothing you can do that doesn't involve money.


One of the things I've certainly learned in this role is that a few consumers wake up in the morning and say, “I can't wait to spend time on banking.” A few small business owners say, “I started a small business because I love banking.” They start a small business because they love making pasta or whatever it is that they're doing. We have this incredible opportunity to allow families and businesses to do the things that they love, send their kids to college, go to Disney World, grow the business, open a second location, or whatever it is.

We have the opportunity to do that in a way that makes their life easy so that they can live it and we can help them with all the things that we're good at and are necessary for them, but they don't want to spend time on. We try to, first of all, have great digital tools because you have to do something you don't enjoy. You want it to be simple. You want it to be easy. You want to push a couple of buttons and have it done right. You got to have great tools and you got to have, when you need it, a person you can count on to explain to you whatever it is, buying a house, getting a loan for the new building for your business, or whatever. We're trying to power human potential through this combination of digital plus human.

That is a fascinating journey to be on because, more and more, what we're trying to do is be able to help our families articulate their goals, help our businesses figure out how they're trying to grow, and then we take care of everything for them in some digital plus human way. We're at the pretty early innings of what is an exciting new dimension for retail banking. My hope is that people around the country and hopefully around the world are better off because we're able to help them in new ways.

Certainly, the conveniences that are now built into the way that banking operates, I think about when I was a kid and probably when you were a kid, my dad used to go to the bank every Saturday. He'd deposit checks. He'd get out cash. He’d deposit his paycheck. You think about how much of that has changed now. We walk around with apps on our phones and that's how we move money, whether it's a banking app, a payment app, or whatever.

It'll be interesting to see how it continues to unfold and that balance between the online and the person-delivered service and the physical branches and everything else. You lead a big organization. You said 25,000 people, which is a mammoth organization. What is your approach to leading that organization? What kind of leader do you aspire to be in leading such a big group?

The first thing I think about is that my job is to make all of those other people wildly successful in helping our clients. That's my whole mentality. I only am successful if those 25,000 people feel like they are fulfilled in finding meaning and able to do their job in support of our clients. That's the only reason my job exists. This is directly connected back to what we touched on earlier. Since starting with a sense of purpose, I have talked about this incisively.

We want our teams to wake up every morning knowing that their job is to help power human potential. We talk about that in three ways. Power the potential of our clients, consumers, and small businesses. Power the potential of our colleagues because we can only help our clients if we are working together to keep learning and growing, and then critically for any bank, powering the potential of our communities because we will only thrive if the communities are thriving.

We talk about this a lot. One of the real joys of my role is to be able to hear stories where our bankers, in whatever language they choose to use, some say power potential. Some say, “I had this great way to help a client.” They have recognized that they made a difference in the lives of somebody else. They found joy and meaning in that.

If they find joy and meaning in those moments, then they're going to keep wanting to do it and they'll get better and better doing it. Part of what I feel like a big part of my job is to help all those people be successful, to connect their personal sense of purpose and meaning with what we're trying to do as an organization. When that happens, it's magic.

I love to hear the stories they share with me and one another about how they've been able to do it. I also love when they share those stories with people who are not quite as client-facing because those who aren't client-facing play such a critical role in helping all those who are on the front lines with clients, helping them succeed. We have to show that connection between what they're doing every day and how our frontline teams can power our clients' potential.

How you think about leadership translates into the culture that you're trying to create. I certainly pick up from your last answer, you want people to be customer-focused and purpose-driven, but are there other attributes that are important in terms of the culture that you want to foster in your part of the organization or in US Bank more generally?

Yes, very much so. The first is this sense of purpose around serving clients. We talked about powering the potential of our clients and powering the potential of our colleagues, and I'll come back to that in a second, and then communities. For our colleagues, it's important that we create a culture of continuous learning and development. All of us constantly learning.

To do that, we need to create an environment where people, for example, understand their strengths and the strengths of the people around them so that they can leverage their strengths and nurture those around them. We need to create an environment of generosity. I'm a big fan of Adam Grant, give and take, and that kind of concept. We need to have this learning growth mindset, Carol Dweck’s work. All of those notions are important.

We talk about that stuff a lot, the sense of purpose and those things. You’ve got to have a learning environment. A critical part of that is you can't live in fear. You’ve got to be willing to make mistakes. In a rapidly changing world, we're all going to try things. We're going to make mistakes, and that's a normal part of learning. It's easy for us to spend and for organizations to get caught up in fear. I'm trying to reduce as much fear as possible so that people can try things, be their best selves, and constantly learn and grow and help others learn and grow. That's a critical part of the culture as well. How

You can't live in fear because in a rapidly changing world, we're all going to try things, and we're going to make mistakes. Click To Tweet

Does that translate into what you look for when you're hiring?

A lot of different elements of that. First of all, we want people who have their own sense of purpose aligned with ours. We don't use different words. Secondly, we do ask, “Tell us some examples of things that haven't gone your way. How did you learn from them? How did people respond around them? Did you have some resiliency in those kinds of situations?”

This is one of these things where people say, “Does that mean everybody has to be nice?” No, this is not a question of, “Are you nice or not?” This is a question of, “How do you contribute to serving our clients and building our colleagues and communities?” There are lots of different ways to do that. I am a strong believer that we got to have diverse perspectives. We can challenge each other and be comfortable asking tough questions and all that.

We can, by the way, do it in a respectful manner which is a whole other thing. We want a whole diversity of views representing every aspect of diversity. You're looking for all of those attributes in the hiring plan. What I would highlight often is different about everything I said. I didn't say I only want people who have spent sixteen years in the banking industry and then this specific thing.

Don't get me wrong. It helps if people have spent time in the banking industry, but that is not the only thing we're looking for. We're looking for a whole series of human characteristics that are in addition to experience. I can help people on the experience side, but if you don't have all the other attributes we're talking about, they're a lot harder for me to develop. Those are the personal characteristics that are crucial, much less the more traditional resume characteristics that one might focus on.

Are there particular questions that you routinely ask that are important to you in terms of what you hear as answers?

I always like to hear a person's story. I specifically don't want the resume story. Whenever I ask the question, I say, “Please tell me your story. Tell me where you grew up. What kinds of things got you energized when you were a kid? Tell me the kinds of things that you've continued to do since then that give you energy.” What I'm trying to figure out is not if the person is smart or capable. I can read the resume. I can see a lot of that stuff.

I'm trying to figure out who this person is as a human being. Some of the stories that are most inspiring are when you get people who've overcome all kinds of challenges. That's amazing to hear those people's stories, and I'm in awe of that. Those kinds of things do demonstrate the attributes of all the things we've been talking about. It's not the person who picked themselves up by their bootstraps and made things. People can develop passion and resiliency in lots of different ways. It's not prescribed. I'm not looking for one type.

What I am trying to discern in this is what jazzes people up. You can see people. Their eyes get big, their hands move, and they can't sit still right. I'm trying to figure out in the interview what those things are. If this person's going to be on my team, I can make sure that we're creating an environment where I'm going to get that same passionate reaction. That's what I'm trying to discern as I hear people's stories.

Coming more into the day-to-day, I know there's no such thing as a typical day, but what's the mix of things you try to build into your day, and how do you think about balancing the time you spend on different things?

For me, the critical question that I'm trying to get through my day is around, “What are the things that I am uniquely skilled or capable of doing?” I should do those things. If I am not uniquely capable of doing it, then there's a real question of, “Why am I involved?” For some examples of this, I am uniquely capable of coaching my team one-on-one and helping them display their passion and everything we talked about. I am uniquely capable of helping to inspire a large group of people who have, in our case, joined because we've acquired their company.

I am uniquely capable of watching my daughter dive. She's a fantastic college diver. I'm her dad and I want to be there for those things. I am not uniquely capable or skilled at sitting in a meeting with 30 other people where we're all going through a set of presentation terms. There are a lot of other people who are probably much better than that. I'm not uniquely capable of sitting in a committee meeting for a nonprofit that I care about. There are a lot of other people who can do that.

I'm constantly trying to discern what it is that I am uniquely capable of contributing. By the way, it turns out there aren't that many places I'm uniquely capable of contributing. Therefore, that means I don't have to work 24 hours a day. It means I get to do the things where I'm uniquely skilled and gifted, which gives me the most energy. it enables the people around me to rise up and truly believe that we're going in the direction they want to go because I empowered and enabled them to do that kind of thing.

Is there a time of day that you're most productive?

I try to manage my energy throughout the day. Managing energy is more important than managing time. There's a certain set of routines that I try to get up relatively early but not too early and exercise. That gets me off to a good start throughout the day. I'm pretty good if I'm making sure I'm eating properly throughout the day. I'm pretty good until dinnertime and then I'll wind down and my family constantly jokes that I'm the first person in bed because it's going to start all the next morning.

Managing energy is more important than managing time. Click To Tweet

My son particularly gives me a hard time about the fact that I go to bed before he does. That's how I'm trying to manage my energy throughout the day. Even when traveling, I try to be as consistent with that routine as I can. Knowing you can't always follow it every time, of course. The closer I am to that routine, the more I am the best version of myself through most of that day. That enables me to give my best and be most supportive of my team.

I'm curious about this managing energy point. Does that translate into thinking about how many difficult topics or conversations you built into your day and how you intersperse things that are maybe a bit lighter and more fun for you to do other than eating right, sleeping, and things like that? How does it dictate what you put in your calendar?

In terms of the actual activities, I like to do more of the things that I like to do. We all but can't always dictate that. I have found by managing my energy in the way that we described, I can take on a whole series of difficult things, even sequentially, because I'm in the right frame of mind. You can't do that indefinitely in all of that. In the last several years, we had to make some difficult sets of decisions about people, which is always the most challenging to communicate those things with them. If I've managed my energy appropriately, I can consistently be the best version of myself, even in the most difficult circumstances.

Outside of your day job, you're also involved with a growth company focused on supplying cultured meat, a far cry from the banking industry. How did you get involved with UPSIDE Foods?

UPSIDE Foods, as you say, is growing meat from animal cells and was the first FDA-approved company to spill to BFFDA-approved in the US. The founder used to be my neighbor. Our kids and our families are close friends. They went to the same school. His wife was on the school board with me and he is a Mayo-trained cardiologist.

One day, he came over to the house because they would always come over for dinner and he said, “If I can grow tissue in a lab to repair someone's heart, I can grow meat in a lab and we could offer that to the world.” He's a vegan, by the way, so this is a particularly interesting thing. I said, “Uma, that's a big idea. We should start talking about that.” We've now been talking about it for many years and he has made incredible progress. It's one of the great privileges of my life to be on this incredible journey.

How does working with a startup in an area as nascent as growing meat from animal cells help you in your career? What do you bring back to US Bank in terms of the things you learn and the different experiences that you get?

First of all, it may not be obvious, but I would draw the connection again to my sense of purpose. If I'm trying to help as many people as possible. Banking is one way to do that. Feeding them is another. These are pretty fundamental things in your life. The connection of purpose is powerful. What Uma and the team are doing, there are countless people in the world who say, “That's crazy. That's impossible. No one could do that.”

It has helped me be unbelievably bold and ambitious because whatever I'm doing pales in comparison to what they're trying to do. It emboldens and inspires me. Therefore, I hope to make myself a more effective leader at US Bank because I'm also trying to encourage our teams to do big and bold things. I know that those kinds of things can be done because I get to see them. I'm seeing things that everybody else would've said nobody can do that they're doing. It makes me come back to US Bank and say, “Anything we put our minds to do, we can do too.”

Fair enough. It's an interesting space trying to get people to accept this as something more than science fiction. It’s something that they would buy, take home, and eat. I have to imagine that team spends a lot of time thinking about how to drive acceptance for the product.

No question. Having eaten it, it's delicious. I'm an average consumer. I'm not a particularly sophisticated food person, but much of what they do is indistinguishable from anything that I would eat. It's delicious. It looks great. You can see the pictures. It is truly remarkable.

Going a step back, you had a long-distinguished career at McKinsey. The firm has changed a lot in the time you and I were there. You were there many times longer than I was. Do you think consulting has the same early career value for people that it did when you and I started there back in the 90s?

One of the wonderful attributes of McKinsey and many consulting firms is that, as a young person, you are exposed to so many different situations and people in a short period of time. You also work hard during that time, but with the sheer volume of people and situations you see, you can't put a value on that because we all learn from new and different people in situations. That's what consulting is fantastic with.

I think you were similarly inspired. I think that there is an element of noble purpose in consulting, which is that it makes a real difference in the lives of companies and communities. I always felt proud to be associated with McKinsey and to be able to do the things that made a difference in the lives of the people, clients we supported, the companies, and the communities we were part of. It's a great place to learn and grow. Not everybody has to stay as long as I did. My wife and I met at McKinsey and she stayed a much shorter period of time than I did. We would both say that it has enormous benefits in learning, development, and the difference you can make.

I would imagine that you've used consultants in the time that you've been at US Bank. You've been on both sides of the table. How do consultants add value given that there's a lot more information available to corporate staff than there used to be?

It's an interesting question because you're right. The bar is raised right because all of us have access to more stuff. First of all, in any of our roles, we all need support and new ideas. However capable any of us thinks we are, I'm always cognizant that the world around me is changing much faster than I realized and faster than I can keep up. I need lots of people, including external people, who can provide me with ideas and perspectives because mine are limited in their own ways. That's a hugely important value and I continue to learn and grow myself because of those interactions.

CSCL 53 | Leadership And Purpose

Leadership And Purpose: The world around us is changing much faster than you realize and can keep up, so you need lots of people who can provide ideas and perspectives because you are limited in your own ways.


I also find that it's incredibly important to have people who are thinking about different problems than I am. If you spend all of your days thinking about loans and deposits, which is what you do at a bank, you're not always going to think about how what you're doing is similar to or different than what's happening at a retailer or what's happening in healthcare.

There are insights from those industries that are extraordinarily valuable that are not bold new creative ideas, but here's how consumers are behaving when they go shopping. Have you thought about how that applies to banking? Those kinds of connections are extraordinarily important. I value people who are not only thinkers and can help me adapt to a changing world. I also value people who can help me seek connections across industries that, because of where I sit, I might not be able to make those connections.

When you came over to US Bank, having spent so many years in a consulting firm, was your transition easy, or were there areas that were shocking for you?

It's interesting, and I suspect you found this as well when you transitioned into the corporate world, but as a consultant, you know your clients reasonably well. At least, I didn't appreciate how many things went on in their lives that I didn't know anything about. No exposure to it. You and I both are in financial services. People you work with in financial services are regulators. I remember it was day 2 or 3. I met the first regulators that I'd ever spoken to.

We introduced ourselves and I said, “I'm delighted to meet you, but I want you to know that I have no experience working with anybody like you. I'm almost certainly going to screw it up. Please tell me when I'm doing things right and when I'm doing things wrong and what mistakes I make so that I can learn from them.” That's one simple example of all of the things that go on in an organization that you have limited transparency into as a consultant. For me, that's been a ton of fun. It's been a whole new learning curve of things that I didn't even know that I didn't know. I've learned a great deal about them, which has been great fun.

I certainly think back to my transition, which happened when I moved over to Fidelity. People I worked with back then would probably have stories to tell about those early days. You realize that when you're a consultant, you often get to work with people who are handpicked to work on these projects. When you go into a company, you have to learn to make everybody better, not just the star performers better.

There are a lot of things, to your point, that you get pulled into that the consultants never see or certainly, when you're a consultant, you never have to deal with. It is a bit of an adjustment. I always aspire to have people not say, “There's still too much consultant in him.” In that transition to being an operator, you do a ton of nonprofit work. Where do you find the time?

First of all, it starts with passion. I'll share a story because you were at the firm about this time. I've emphasized the fact that my sense of purpose is around helping people. You were in Chicago, I was in Minneapolis, and this is the late ‘90s. A call came into the Minneapolis office from an organization called Catholic Charities. They're all over the country. The Board Chair for Catholic Charities said, “We're going to do a strategic plan. Would anybody in the McKinsey office like to support us pro bono as we go through this?”

The partners were all interested in Catholic Charities, but they were too busy. I raised my hand and I said, “I'd like to do this.” I wasn't a partner at the time. It was non-typical for someone who wasn't a partner to do this. I said, “There's something you don't know about me. I was adopted from a Catholic Charities orphanage. From my perspective, this is not a random call. I'm going to go do this. I'm going to figure out how to do it.”

What I realized in doing that is that I got this amazing connection to an organization that had helped me when I was homeless. It also helped me realize that the skills that you and I were developing at the time of consulting had brought applicability in a way that I didn't realize. That ignited in me a passion that said, “I'm going to try to use these skills in as many places as possible.” That's what I've been doing for the last several years. If I connect this back to what I'm uniquely capable of doing, I can help an organization through nettle some strategic issues.

I can guide a team to analyze the right things and develop a set of recommendations. I know how to do that because you and I have been doing that for decades and it doesn't require me to go to all the committee meetings, which take up a lot of time. I'm trying to find where my passions and skills intersect with the needs of whatever community groups there are and help them in unique ways that I'm uniquely able to do. I've been incredibly grateful that so many organizations, including Catholic Charities and many others, have allowed me to participate in their work. It's an enormous source of joy.

There are some amazing nonprofits out there doing incredible work. My first exposure to the nonprofit sector was when I was a partner. I happened to be in the elevator going down to the parking garage and got volunteered to go lead a project with the United Way of Mass Bay, which was the Boston United Way at the time. I learned a ton about the nonprofit sector in that project. The woman, the COO of the nonprofit, kept saying, “I don't understand why you're all spending so much time with us. Don't you have other things that you should be doing?”

They were grateful and a bit flabbergasted that we were willing to do it. The CEO, who's this woman, Marian Heard, is a phenomenal fundraiser. You realize how many nonprofit heads are always in fundraising mode and it is always on experience. She worked incredibly hard for a bunch of years, raising money for that organization. It was incredible to see her in action. It was an eye-opening experience for me.

As with you, I am inspired by so many of these people and their work that they do and it's a privilege for me to contribute in some small way to help make them and their organizations more effective.

A lot of people talk about getting onto a nonprofit board, what you've been on a lot. What advice would you give them for doing it and for choosing where they get involved?

I have a couple of thoughts on this. First got to be about passion. What you feel you're doing is checking a box. Don't do that. Find an organization that you're passionate about and then figure out how you're going to roll up your sleeves in that. I love your example of how you and the team were spending so much time with United Way because you got a big kick out of it.

CSCL 53 | Leadership And Purpose

Leadership And Purpose: Find an organization you're passionate about and then figure out how you're going to roll up your sleeves in that.


Find that thing at the organization that you're engaged with that you're going to spend time on that you personally love. I'll give you an example. One of the organizations that I helped start was an organization called The Itasca Project. It's been going for 20 years or so here in Minneapolis. A few years ago, I helped lead a task force. This is where I rolled up my sleeves and led a task force with a couple of my dear friends here in town around the First 1,000 Days.

The First 1,000 Days is about brain development in young children in their first 1,000 days. It turns out that science shows pretty clearly if you get the brain developed properly by a whole bunch of factors during those first 1,000 days, that human being is going to have a good life. If it doesn't work in those first 1,000 days, it's going to be much tougher.

This is a personal passion of mine. I spent the first 45 days of my life in an orphanage. Had I not gotten out within the next 45 days after that, you and I wouldn't be having these conversations. That's the thing where I want to make that happen because I want other kids out there to have the same opportunities that I've had. Find that thing that's going to jazz you up in that nonprofit, roll up your sleeves, and make a difference you did at the United Way.

How does what you do with the nonprofits play back into your role as a corporate leader?

Banks cannot thrive unless the communities around them are thriving. It’s simple. One of the great aspects of US Bank is that we are deeply involved in communities all across the country. At some level, I'm trying to help my community thrive. At some, I'm trying to encourage, support, and be a bit of a role model for thousands of my colleagues who are doing similar things across the country. This is a big deal at US Bank and, frankly, at many organizations where we think this is the right thing to do and our teams love it. There are countless stories on LinkedIn and other places that you can see where our teams with big hearts get out there and make a difference.

You're doing an awful lot, which is impressive. Would you describe yourself as being a gritty person? Do you feel you've got a lot of self-discipline and persistence?

That's an interesting question. You're kind to say that I'm doing a lot, and it's impressive. Much of it never feels to me that much work in the sense because I'm doing things that bring me joy and help me energize me. I'm pretty resilient because you can't have lived as long as you and I have without having lots of bumps and all of that, but mostly, I'm grateful.

I'm grateful that I had so many clients when I was in McKinsey who allowed me into their lives. I'm so grateful that I have such wonderful colleagues here at US Bank. That sense of gratitude is important because I'm grateful, meaning I view the world as abundant because there's so much to be grateful for. Also, being a religious person, I see a lot of God's grace and I'm grateful for that. You might say impressive. I might say humbling because I feel privileged to get to be a part of all these things.

When you view the world grateful, you view the world as being abundant. Click To Tweet

How are you thinking about your own growth and development? What's a focus for you right now in your continued journey?

Somebody asked me the question, “When you retire, what will you look back on and say were your great accomplishments?” I said to that person, “Retirement for me is just one step in the process. I hope I get to some old age and I can look back and say I helped as many people as I possibly could in as many ways as I possibly could.” For me, that's constantly learning and growing. It’s how to do more of that in as many ways and as many times as possible. The learning for me is how to get better and better at doing that.

You referenced it earlier, having that growth mindset and continuing to focus on how you're learning and how the organization's learning. It seems that's woven pretty deeply into the way that you think about life.

Very much. You made a critical point there. I don't think about this as my career learning. I think about it as my life journey, of which my work is a part. I'm trying to live a life that is meaningful to me and makes a difference in the world. A part of that is my work in the traditional sense, but it's not the only part.

What's ahead for you?

I hope for more conversations like this. It's such a joy to reconnect with you, and a lot of fun to talk about this. I'm honored and humbled that you would think about it. Honestly, every day it's, “What can I do to help more people?” That's it. Anybody who's got ideas for me, including you, I'm all ears.

When you think back to your early career days, you and I have both accrued over the years, what do you know now that you wish you had known back then that you would want somebody who's earlier in their career to take to heart?

The single biggest lesson for me that I wish I had known was not to get fixated on the traditional markers of career development. I remember vividly, I've been a senior partner for probably 2 or 3 years. I didn't get two roles at McKinsey that I thought I should have gotten, and I was upset about it. Those were the traditional career ladder sorts of things. I was talking to my wife about it, who didn't have a lot of patience for my irritability, and she said, “I don't know why you're so upset about this. Every time you go to the meetings of those various groups, you don't come back happy. You come back grumpy.”

CSCL 53 | Leadership And Purpose

Leadership And Purpose: Do not to get fixated on the traditional markers of career development.


“In contrast, you can't stop talking about it whenever you do some of this learning and development stuff. Why don't you not do some of the stuff that makes you grumpy and do more of the stuff that makes you happy?” That set me off on a trajectory over the next ten years of doing all the kinds of learning and development stuff we've been talking about, JR, and some of the most fun and exciting times. Don't get focused on those career ladder things. Get focused on the things you love doing.

You mentioned Adam Grant. You mentioned Carol Dweck. Are there others whose work or books have particularly influenced the way that you think about work and life?

Several. I'm a big fan of Dan Pink. Some of the insights he has about motivation are fascinating. Emily Esfahani Smith is great in terms of sense of purpose and meaning. Bob Keegan has done some of the most outstanding work on how to reduce fear and get the most potential out of people. Bob Chapman, who's a CEO, living out this thing had been a real inspiration to me as those who are thought leaders, people who do TEDx Talk kinds of things, who have been a real inspiration. I have many dear friends along the way, but those would be the public figures out there.

That's a good list. I'm less familiar with some of those people, and I will have to go learn a little bit more about them. Last question, any other career lessons that you'd want our audience to take away before we break?

One of the harder ones for me has been to find joy in mistakes and realize that they're learning opportunities. The more you can frame any mistake or “failure” as a learning opportunity, the more quickly you can do that and the faster you grow.

The more you can frame any mistake or “failure” as a learning opportunity, the faster you grow. Click To Tweet

It's true. Certainly, that's one of the key points that Carol Dweck makes in her book and in her work. You have to look at these things as learning opportunities. The takeaways from that book have resonated with me and it's always good to talk to other people who have read it and appreciate the kinds of things that she's done her research on over the years.

Tim, thank you. I appreciate it. You've been generous with your time. I know you have many things going on. It's fun to catch up. I've learned a lot from talking to you about how you think about things. As we discussed before we officially started, it’s one of the biggest reasons I do this. I'm grateful for the time you spent and wish you well.

Thank you. I'm honored that you're reached out to do this. It was a joy to be with you, and thank you for doing this good work. This is important stuff. I'm honored to be a part of it.

Thank you. Have a good rest of your day.

You, too. Thanks.


I'd like to thank Tim for joining me to discuss his career journey, what he's learned along the way, and the guidance he would offer to aspiring leaders. If you're ready to take control of your career, visit If you'd like more regular insights, you can become a PathWise member. It's free. You can also sign up on the website for the PathWise newsletter and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Thanks. Have a great day.


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About Tim Welsh

CSCL 53 | Leadership And PurposeTim Welsh is the Vice Chair of Consumer and Business Banking for US Bank, the 5th largest bank in the United States. He is also a board member for Upside Foods, a developer of cultured meats. Prior to these roles, Tim was a senior partner with McKinsey, where he worked for an impressive 29 years.

Tim’s volunteer experience is at least as impressive as his for profit work, and he has served as a board member for many of the Minneapolis area’s most well-known non-profits, as well as for national organizations such as Catholic Charities and in an advisory capacity for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

He has been honored on multiple occasions, including by Twin Cities Business, the United Way, and Catholic Charities. And Minneapolis even honored him with a “Tim Welsh Day” in 2006.

Tim earned his Bachelor's Degree in Social Studies from Harvard University and his MBA from Harvard Business School. He and his family live in the Minneapolis area.


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