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478: The Simple Secret To Better Trust and Culture with Randy Grieser

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Randy Grieser says: "Shift judgment to curiosity."

Randy Grieser offers actionable pointers to keep a workplace culture healthy and thriving.

You’ll Learn:

  1. How trust is built in the workplace
  2. The 6 key elements of a healthy workplace culture
  3. Do’s and don’ts for effective conflict management

About Randy:

Randy Grieser is the founder and CEO of ACHIEVE Centre for Leadership & Workplace Performance. He is the author of The Ordinary Leader, and co-author of The Culture Question. Randy is passionate about sharing the importance of creating healthy workplace cultures, and believes leadership requires us to always be intentional about what we do and how we do it.

Resources mentioned in the show:

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Randy Grieser Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Randy, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Randy Grieser
Yeah, thanks for having me on your show.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely. Well, could we start by hearing about some of your mountain biking escapades?

Randy Grieser
Yeah. well, it’s all about having fun and being happy. I think all of us need at least one thing that just really gets us going. I was in Canmore, Canada which is just a beautiful mountain biking area, and I hadn’t been on my bike for about a week, and we flew in. My wife and I grabbed our bikes, went to the hills and we were having supper that night, and I said, “Oh, that just made me happy,” right?

So, yeah, I like to get out as much as I can. I’m not like top of the world-class athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a great way to explore the wilderness. We’re also headed into the Isle of Skye in Scotland in September which is going to be super cool.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, absolutely. Well, another thing I find super cool, other than forced segues, is you did a huge study on workplace cultures. Can you tell me what was sort of some of your most striking discoveries there?

Randy Grieser
Yeah, absolutely. When we started to put some work into our book “The Culture Question” we also put together kind of a survey of things we’d like to know about. And the fascinating thing with that, of course, is you don’t know what you’re going to get. So, we had some ideas about what we might find but probably the most exciting thing we found was the secret to having your employees trust you as a leader.

And so, we correlated 20 questions to the question of, “I like where I work.” And for everyone who said, “I like,” where they worked, the two strongest questions that correlated was this, “I trust my direct supervisor.” And for any of you listening who is a manager, is a supervisor, you know how important that is. Trust is the holy grail.

When your employees trust you, they’re going to move mountains with you. You’re not going to have to beat them or to use the saying “the carrot and the stick,” right? You’re not going to have to beat them or give them a reward. They’re going to work towards your mission and vision because they want to and because they’re inspired by you.

And so, the statement that most correlated with “I trust my direct supervisor” was this, “My supervisor cares about me as a person.” Think about that, Pete. To us that was just like, “Wow, we didn’t expect to find that.” But the secret to trust is simply just caring about your staff at a human level.

Pete Mockaitis
You know, we’ve heard that theme come up a few times from places like a Navy Seal and more. So, yeah, let’s dig into that. So, caring, what are some ways that supervisors do a great job of caring and some ways that they frequently fall short and maybe just totally overlook it?

Randy Grieser
Absolutely. Well, first of all, I should have full disclosure here because when people attend my presentations or go to my workshops, they see that I’m actually a clinically-trained social worker, and so they roll their eyes, and say, “Well, of course, a clinically-trained social worker would talk about caring leadership.” It’s like the C word is this very scary word for people.

But I always tell people, “I’m a social worker. I don’t do therapy with my employees but I just ask them questions. I just care about them at a human level.” Like, right now, one of our employees, a partner, is in palliative care, and we’ve been really thoughtful about, “How do we support someone who’s going through something like that?” I have another staff member who has a child that has special needs, and, “How do we support an employee who periodically needs to leave the office to go care for the child?”

Probably my favorite story I like to tell though that really gets at the heart of caring leadership is I was giving this presentation and speaking about this, and someone came up to me afterwards and said, “Randy, this is so important to have a caring leadership. I’ve worked in my organization for two years, and my supervisor doesn’t know I have children.” And I said, “Well, you know, you should be asking someone if they have children the first day of the job.”

But, Pete, anybody you know who’s got children between the age of 5 and 15, on a Friday at the end of the day, if you say to them, “Hey, weekend is coming up. What are you doing this weekend?” What do they say, Pete?

Pete Mockaitis
It depends with the kids.

Randy Grieser
Yeah, I’m taking my kids. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, at a fundamental level, caring is not about doing therapy, it’s just like care about your staff, “What did you do this weekend? You’re going away to a vacation. We’re in the midst of the summer. You’re taking a week off. Where are you going?” “Oh, I’m going with my kids,” right? So, it’s really just about caring about people at a human level.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that is quite illustrative in terms of maybe a wakeup call, and it’s like, “Oh, I guess I’m not in a habit of asking. If someone says I’m in the habit of asking those questions,” then you may very well find yourself in that boat where you don’t even know about them having kids.

Randy Grieser
Yeah. And even at just a practical level, I mean, you said, “What more can you do?” Like, one of the things that I meet so many managers, is they’re so busy working that they never eat with anybody else, right? And I don’t spend an hour eating with my staff. I don’t even spend half an hour eating with staff, but I’ve consciously chosen for that 10 minutes where I’m going to scarf down food, I mean, you can’t really work on the computer while you’re scarfing down food, right? So, I might as well spend it with people and just chat with them a little bit.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. Well, I’d like to hear some more of that. So, asking basic questions, spending some time with food. Other key ways that supervisor show care and fail to show care?

Randy Grieser
Yeah, really, we just need to spend time with people, build relationships. One of the core tenets of a healthy workplace culture that we talk about in the book is building meaningful relationships. And it’s not just with managers and employees, but with everybody. What are we doing as an organization where we are fostering genuine connections?

And one of the things we found in our interviews with people, and we found even just in our work as consultants when we go into organizations, is organizations that are healthy, people like each other and people laugh, people smile, people spend time together. It’s just so clear when you walk into an organization, you feel that, right?

My wife and I, when we were in Canmore this weekend, we went to a couple different restaurants. And there was one restaurant where it was just striking that people hated being there. The service was terrible, people weren’t smiling, people weren’t connecting. And then you go to another restaurant, and it’s like the waiter staff, they’re having fun with each other, right? They’re bumping into each other, they’re chitchatting.

And so, if you think about that, even in just your daily interactions, you go to the coffee shop, you go to the grocery store, you can see a healthy culture at work and people caring about each other. And so, when we build workplaces where people genuinely enjoy each other’s company, we’re knocking one of the things that we need to do out of the park right away. And, again, I’ve yet to come into a healthy organization where people don’t like each other and don’t have a little fun.

Pete Mockaitis
Like each other, having fun, makes total sense. Are there maybe some common workplace, I don’t know, practices or policies that get in the way of that, that maybe should go?

Randy Grieser
Well, yeah, I’ll name a few things here. One is the obvious which is in the spirit of trying to improve workplace culture, people focus on perks, right? And so, nothing drives me up the wall more than when I see some national publication release, “Our best places to work” And, inevitably, we have things like, you know, free beer on Friday nights, “Yay, let’s all go get drunk with our friends.” Really? Like, that’s what makes a great place to work? And the proverbial foosball table, right?

Exactly. Or bring your pet to work day or free yoga. And there’s nothing wrong with those perks but in a lot of time, management will check or tick off the list, and say, “Listen, we’ve done what we needed to do to create a healthy workplace culture.” And many organizations just can’t even afford these things, right, to be frank. We work with a lot of not-for-profit agencies, I’m doing education systems. They can’t afford perks and so you’ve got to do stuff beyond that as well.

Some policies and practice I’ve seen that have gone the wrong way is mentorship programs. I love mentorship programs, mentoring people. My most important task as a leader is to mentor people. And some formalized mentor programs get it wrong because they only mentor some people, “And, Pete, you’re special, you’re one of the few. Aren’t you lucky you get to be mentored by me?” And what does that do to everybody else, is it demotivates them, right?

And so, our approach with mentorship is like everybody should be motivated, everyone should be growing and working towards. And so, we really don’t like those mentorship programs where there’s the kind of like, “You’re special.”

Awards, right? You know, for achievements, for doing things, right? Awards have that kind of counterintuitive effect where for anybody with young children, you’ve always promised that you were never going to say, “I need you to clean your room, and if you clean your room, I’m going to give you something,” right? And the moment you break down and you do that, and you say, “Son or daughter, if you clean your room, I’m going to give you an award.” What happens the next time you need them to clean their room?

Pete Mockaitis
They want the award.

Randy Grieser
They want the award, right? And so, then award becomes kind of this expectation as opposed to a way to actually motivate people. And so, there’s nothing wrong with perks for the sake of perks and within reason, but when we only focus on perks at the expense of those other things that really help us make healthy workplace cultures, we don’t do ourselves well in terms of helping us create that culture.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, you laid out six key elements of a healthy workplace culture: communicating purpose and values, providing meaningful work, focusing leadership team on people, building meaningful relationships, creating peak-performing teams, and practicing constructive conflict management. I want to talk about the last one because I think there are many organizations where there’s just a whole lot of fear going on. It’s like, “I can’t really tell you what I’m thinking, so I’m just going to say nothing,” or, “Boy, if we argue, we’re not arguing well. There’s like collateral damage.” So, how do we pull that off?

Randy Grieser
Yeah, absolutely right. I always say you can do a lot of things well but the moment people hate each other, the moment people are living in fear, it’s going to be very difficult for you to be a successful organization and to function effectively, right? And so, when it comes to practicing conflict management, a few things that we really want to focus on is we want to start with leaders.

Interestingly, the second highest correlated statement that we found was that when leaders practice conflict management effectively, employees also do as well. We teach conflict resolution skills in one of the trainings that we offer. And one of the common themes we get from participants is, “I wish my manager would’ve been here,” right?

And managers think they’ve got it all figured out, but there’s a lot of managers that don’t. They tend to avoid and even I sometimes, I’m like, “Are we five years old? You got two kids in a sandbox, like, you’re not five. Learn to figure it out.”

So, one of the most important things is to just be aware of how detrimental on manage conflict. Conflict is inevitable. It’s going to happen, right? It’s natural. We’re human beings. In and of itself it’s not bad. It’s how we manage it. Ironically, one of the ways that we build a culture that manages conflict effectively is we actually have to have some experiences of conflict and some experiences of getting to the other side, and going like, “Oh, you’re not a terrible human being. Like, we had a disagreement, but then we had a natural human conversation and we resolved this issue.”

So, it’s kind of counterintuitive but you do need to experience some level of conflict to actually learn to deal with it effectively. And so, absolutely, I run a training organization so I believe in training. One of the problems we get, Pete, is often we get requests for training like conflict resolution skills or respect for workplace training too late. It’s when we hate each other, you know.

And then it’s like, “Well, the training was actually meant to be before we hate each other so that we can actually work through these things. Now that we hate each other here, you might need to do some things like mediation, or some assessments, and group conflict mediation-type work, but a simple training is a band-aid effect when we’re really not doing well.” So, right away from the get-go we want to be establishing a culture that manages conflict effectively.

For those of you in leadership, that means holding people accountable. It doesn’t mean jumping in and saving the day, right, and being the hero for everybody. Sometimes it means meeting with people and coaching people, “Hey, I noticed that you and Susan aren’t talking anymore. What’s that about?” And holding people accountable and saying, “You need to figure this out because this isn’t going to be healthy in the long run.”

I’ll tell you one of the worst experiences I had with conflict and not being managed effectively, in our own organization, that’s one of the things I want to note, Pete, is a lot of our insights that we talk about in our book and that we teach in our presentations as training has come out of when we weren’t doing well, right? There’s been periods where we’ve learned the hard way.

And one of the worst experiences I had with conflict was with when someone was withholding information because they wanted someone else to look bad. And then when a mistake happened and it made us look bad, he gloated and said, “I knew that was going to happen. I just wanted you to see for yourself.” And I was like, “Oh, my, this conflict has gotten too far.”

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. Well, so, okay, that’s something clearly to not do. Don’t hold information and look to make people embarrass themselves and fail. Check. What are some of the other key do’s and don’ts for effective conflict management?

Randy Grieser
Yeah, you know, really from an employee-to-employee perspective, it’s creating the culture of honest mutual feedback, giving people feedback, being sensitive about it, not being a jerk about it. But when you see something, say something. If something bothers you, don’t wait for it to fester, right?

And so, one of the things that I do, within our organization, is we partner people up. We say, “Listen, if you have to have a difficult conversation with someone, we have a lot of people here who have experienced doing that, get together with someone and roleplay.” Earlier on in my career as a manager, one time I did the classic, you know, the appropriate coaching someone, “Well, instead of me saving the day, why don’t you go have that conversation with that person?” Well, the person went ahead and had a conversation with this person, it was like, “You know, you swear words, swear swords, swear words. “If you ever do this again, I’m going to knock your head off.”

And I went back to the other person and say, “I told you to go talk to him.”

“Well, you told me to go talk to the person and I went and talked to him my way.” And I’m like, “Oh, so when I’m coaching you to actually have the conversation, I had assumed you knew how to have an appropriate conversation but I actually need to walk you through that.”

I’m a big believer in roleplay as a leader. When I used to have difficult conversations, I roleplay with some of my peer leaders to just kind of practice it and get it out there. One of the most important things we encourage our staff is to not to see the other person as a terrible person. Most people genuinely are reasonable people. 95% of us are pretty good human beings, we don’t really actually want to hurt people’s feelings, but we do stupid stuff sometimes, right?

And so, the first thing is just to shift. You know, we have a T-shirt actually, Pete, and I should send it to you actually. And it’s a great T-shirt that says, “Shift judgment to curiosity.” And, really, what that’s about is, like, when you think that someone is being a jerk, actually just be thoughtful for a second, and go, “Well, maybe they don’t mean that.” So, instead of judging them, be curious, “Why are they acting in this way?” It doesn’t mean how they were acting is right but it kind of humanizes our relationship a little bit more. So, it’s one of our favorite sayings, “Shift judgment to curiosity.”

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s good. And so, I’m curious, so screening the swear words is not the way to go, and doing some roleplay in advance can be super valuable. Any other pro tips for the actual conversation?

Randy Grieser
Yeah, really, one of the things that we try to stay away from is the emotion when we have a difficult conversation and focus on the problem and the task at hand, right? So, don’t make it about what your intent was but actually just focus on, “This is how it made me feel.” And so, we go back to the classic communication 101 I-statements, right? “When you do this, this is how it makes me feel.”

Most of the time that person didn’t know that. Most of the time that person wasn’t aware that your intent, right? We have a little diagram we have, it’s called Action, Intent, and Effect, right? And the action is what’s out in the public for people to see, but the intent is hidden, and the effect is hidden. So, sometimes even I will do something I have no clue how it would’ve landed on you. And so, we really encourage our staff to focus on the intent and the effect of people.

First of all, we just want to build a culture that has low levels of conflict to begin with, right? And, again, that’s where we start to get into some of our other areas. When we hire people, that’s one of the things we focus on. Like, one of our core values is that we want people to embody what we teach. We teach people to be respectful in the workplace. We teach people to manage conflict effectively so we expect people to do that.

And so, we’ve crafted our interviewing questions to hire for people who fit our culture. And so right away, when we have new people come in into the organization, if we sense that they’re fit in our culture, we nip things in the bud right away. So, in general, when it comes to implementing some of these six principles and elements of healthy workplace cultures, when it comes to the people effect, we need to start right from when we hire people.

Pete Mockaitis
Understood. And so, if you’re talking to a professional who is not in control, they’re not sort of leading the organization, shaping the culture from the top, are there some basic things you recommend that all people can do to contribute to oozing the culture and fun and liking each other vibes?

Randy Grieser
You know, absolutely. I mean, first of all, I’ll say that clearly leadership sets the tone of healthy workplace cultures, right? And time and time again I run into employees who really want to improve that healthy culture but leadership is not on board. And so, one of the first tasks that you have to do as an employee is try to influence leadership.

And I use the experience, when we go back to the point about negative conflict, because I say, “This is not just about the wellbeing of employees in the workplace. This is about your financial wellbeing as well.” And so, sometimes I use that approach to senior leaders, right? By the fact that we don’t have a healthy workplace culture, people aren’t sharing information, we’re not communicating well, people are not engaged because they’re just putting in their time for a paycheck, and so they’re not being as innovative. Like, this is affecting our ability to be successful as an organization.

So, one of the reasons that we need to care about this as leaders is because it’s actually going to help us, if you’re a business, it’s going to help you financially. If you’re a social service agency or not-for-profit, it’s just about being an effective contributor to whatever role you’re doing. And so, when I’m giving this talk to C-suite professionals who sometimes need a little bit more grease to get them to think and care about the wellness of their employees, I really hammer home this point about, “When you have a healthy workplace culture, this is your competitive advantage.”

And one of the persons interviewed, he clearly said to me, “Randy, I could’ve jumped ship to a competitor, it would’ve increased my salary.” He was already making a six-figure salary, and he said, “I could’ve made 50% more, but I didn’t go because I love the place I work. And a couple of years ago I went to this Angelina and Brad Pitt divorce scenario where it was just like all over. It was terrible. Like, I was in the courts all the time. And my senior staff, they had my back. They knew that this was important to me, they didn’t make me feel bad. So, why would I leave this place? They’ve been great to me. Why would I?”

And so, one of the things we talk about is money matters at the lowest end of the level, but for many people, I mean, there are some professions, I think of the sales profession as an exception there, but for many people, man, when they have a great place to work, they don’t want to leave that environment, right, because they worked in places that aren’t a great place to work.

And so, when you get senior leadership, as an employee if you kind of get senior leadership to talk and do that, I’ve had frontline employees grab this book and just show it to their leader, and say, “You know, it would really be great if you could read this and we can talk about this,” right? And there’s been slowly, you know, people begin to change.

One of the most exciting things that I’ve seen within healthy organizations is, time and time again, when I talk to leaders and managers, they say one of their biggest issues is access and retention to key talent, right? Well, the secret to access and retention of key talent is be a great place to work and your employees will bring in people for you. When there’s job openings, they’ll say, “Hey, you should come work here because we’re a great place to work.”

Pete Mockaitis
Perfect. Well, Randy, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we hear a couple of your favorite things?

Randy Grieser
Well, it depends on what else you’re going to ask me. You know, absolutely. I like to just kind of review the six key elements, if I may. I’ll do kind of a quick summary. We’ve talked about the importance of conflict management. Communicating your purpose and values, like most employees want to work in an organization that matters, that makes a difference. Most in organizations want to be guided and connected to that purpose.

Meaningful work. Most people don’t want to do work that is just boring and irrelevant. And so, making sure that people’s interest and ability and purpose all align together. There’s things that you could do there. Focusing your leadership team on people. Really, that caring about people we’ve talked about. Building meaningful relationships, people want to like who they work with. We’ve spent the vast majority of our waking hours at work. Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually liked each other?

And one of the kind of unique things that we’ve focused on in our book was the importance of creating peak performance teams. It’s really hard to know that we have a culture if we literally don’t work together. And I’ve walked into organizations that’s, true, they don’t work together. We have a bunch of individuals who show up, they don’t even say hi to each other, they go to their little cubicle, they do whatever they do all day, and they leave. So, it’s really difficult to establish a culture when we’re not working together in teams.

So, those were kind of the six key things that, really, we want to focus on. And, again, instead of perks, focus on these six things then you’re going to have your healthy culture.

Pete Mockaitis
And now can you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Randy Grieser
You know, I don’t memorize things well, but I’ll be honest, my daughter inspires me. She’s 16 years old. She’s super ambitious. Last weekend, we climbed a mountain together and we spent seven hours. It was seven hours and it was quite the slug. And there were several things that she said on the trip that I thought, “This is so cool that my 16-year old daughter can think this way.”

And one of the things that we talked about was sustained effort. We’ve been hiking up this mountain for four hours and it got really steep, and it was she said it’s like two steps forward, one step back. And we had a conversation about sustained effort. What was kind of funny is we lost my partner and her mom, right, along the way. When I say we lost, she just stopped climbing because she got scared. And my daughter had said to her, my daughter was trying to be encouraging her, and this is a great quote from a 16-year old, right, “Don’t let fear stop you from living life.”

And I thought, “How brilliant is that?” I’m super inspired by my daughter for thinking that way and for persevering and continuing on.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite book?

Randy Grieser
You know, I pick this book up probably six, seven years ago, and I just can’t help but always going back to it. Can I give you two books, Pete?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure.

Randy Grieser
You know, one, I love stories of other people. I love stories of people building things unique. And one of my favorite books, it seems a bit odd, but it’s the biography of Warren Buffett “Tap Dancing to Work.” I believe passion is so important in how we work and if we want to inspire other people to be excited about their job. I love the fact that Warren Buffett is, what, 87, 88 years old now, literally still runs the business, not like a fake corner office but actually is doing real work. And, yet, he’s given away everything.

And even the title of the book “Tap Dancing to Work” so, he really taps into, man, we got to like what we do, right? I mean, my son has graduated from high school, and he’s torn about what he does, and I’m like, “I don’t care what you do, but you better like it. Be excited about it. Be passionate about it because it’s a long 40 years if you’re not passionate about work.” So, I just love some of Warren’s thoughts and quotes. And everyone thinks of him as a finance person, but he’s a great manager and a great leader as well.

Another shout-out is to who we really resonate when it comes to how to motivate people is Daniel Pink and his book “Drive.” I really, really kind of pinpointed in the three core areas of autonomy, mastery, purpose. We touched on even some of those in our six areas, right? So, really, he was a pioneer in kind of shifting the way we think about motivation and employee engagement.

So, those are my two big books.

Pete Mockaitis
And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Randy Grieser
Well, come to our website Achieve Centre. We are based in Canada. We do work in the US as well. So, Centre is spelled with an R-E. It makes it unique. So, AchieveCentre.com.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Randy Grieser
Yeah. You know, you want to be awesome at your job, just be nice, be a nice person, be kind, right? Somebody the other day asked me, “What do you look for when you’re hiring people?” I’m like, “We want to work with nice people. Like, at the end of the day, I want to like you as a human being.” So, you know what, if we’re all a little bit nice to each other, we’re going to be awesome at our job, and we’re going to make awesome workplaces.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Well, Randy, thanks for this, and keep on caring.

Randy Grieser
Yeah, thanks for having me on your show, Pete.

397: Making the Shifts Necessary to Grow Your Influence with John C. Maxwell

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John C. Maxwell says: "The greatest detriment to tomorrow's success is today's success."

Renowned leadership author John C. Maxwell discusses how to shift yourself so you can continually grow and influence on a bigger scale.

You’ll Learn:

  1. John’s approach to mentorship
  2. How insecurity kills effective leadership
  3. The ACT method to make the most out of your reflections

About John

John C. Maxwell is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, coach, and speaker who has sold more than 30 million books in 50 languages. He has been identified as the #1 leader in business by the American Management Association and the most influential leadership expert in the world by Business Insider and Inc. magazines. He is founder of The John Maxwell Company, The John Maxwell Team, EQUIP, and The John Maxwell Leadership Foundation, organizations that have trained millions of leaders from almost every country of the world. The recipient of the Mother Teresa Prize for Global Peace and Leadership from the Luminary Leadership Network, Dr. Maxwell speaks each year to Fortune500 companies, presidents of nations, and many of the world’s top business leaders. He can be followed at Twitter.com/JohnCMaxwell. For more information about Maxwell, visit JohnMaxwell.com.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

John C. Maxwell Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
John, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

John C Maxwell
Hey, it’s great to be with you Pete and your listeners. We’re going to have a wonderful time. I’m looking forward to it.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh thank you. Well, me too. You’ve been a role model for me for years and years. I’m excited to dig in. First, I kind of wanted to get your take on, you really taught leadership to millions. Can you tell me who taught you the most about leadership and maybe could you share a story of a key lesson that has stuck with you?

John C Maxwell
Well, my father, who’s 97, by the way and still alive.

Pete Mockaitis
Awesome.

John C Maxwell
I  grew up in a leader’s home. I just watched it. I saw it before I understood it and kind of probably as a kid thought everybody had that kind of a home as far as leadership and just really great direction. I would say my father because I’ve been with him, watched him of course his whole life.

Then  I had John Wooden as a mentor. He was a phenomenal teacher and probably as just a quote an unofficial mentor, Pete, he probably taught me more than anyone else. He taught me about when opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare and just how to always be ready for that moment. Make every day your masterpiece. It just goes on and on. He was a phenomenal mentor.

But  I’ve been very fortunate. I just had people come into my life from my early age and even today, just people that sneak into my life and help me and add value to me. I don’t have one mentor. I think one mentor is kind of a – I think it’s kind of a little bit misguided. I’m not sure one mentor is good enough to mentor you in every area.

I  pick my mentors based upon the areas that I need assistance in. I have a couple mentors for leadership, a couple mentors for team development in work, couple mentors maybe for attitude development and tenacity and that kind of thing, and a couple of mentors for an area of communication or relationships. It depends on where I am and kind of what I need. Even then I just kind of pick the mentor that kind of that’s where the strength is.

When  people come to me and they say, “John, would you mentor me?” I tell them, “I’m not that good. The answer is no. I’m just good at a few things. I’ll be glad to help you with a few things, but most of things in life I’m still just trying to grow and learn and not too hot myself in.”

I  know this, every day of my life I’m standing on the shoulders and I’m better because of people who have invested in me and given me time. Of course, I just turn that around and try to mentor others also and be a mentor to other leaders. It’s a beautiful journey once you understand that we’re all to be a river, not a reservoir and just kind of let it flow through you and help other people and add value to them. That’s kind of where I am in the area of my mentoring world right now.

Pete Mockaitis
Got you. When you talk about the journey, I like that. You have unpacked it a few kind of key moments or lessons in your journey in your latest book, Leadershift. What would you say is the main message in this book?

John C Maxwell
Well, I think the main message is that you can only strengthen and sustain your leadership if you continue to make changes or make shifts in your life, that there’s not one way to lead and there’s no way to lead continually and that we have to be agile and have to adjust and have to understand the times.

Leaders really understand context. What all leaders have in common, Pete, is that they see more than others see, so they see a bigger picture, and they see before others see. They not only see that picture larger than others, they see it quicker than others. That being the case, they’re the first ones to know or to sense at least or maybe to begin to grasp.

The more they can adjust and the better they adjust, the quicker they adjust, the more effective they’re going to be as a leader. The book really is all about adjustments that I’ve had to make, leader shifts, that I’ve had to make in my life to continue to be effective as a leader today.

It’s very easy to begin to kind of rest on your position or your title and expect it to do your work for you. When that happens, we’re no longer on the edge, we’re no longer are seeing more and before, so therefore we’re no longer on the cutting edge as far as leading people.

The book is really all about how do you stay on that cutting edge? I had an interview recently. The person commented about the fact that I’d been doing leadership for 40 plus years, writing books, teaching, speaking on leadership, learning, doing my best to be a better leader. They asked me, they said, “Well, how have you for so long stayed in the game?” I said, “Well, I guess the main way I’ve done it is I realized it’s not the same game.”

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

John C Maxwell
Yeah, it’s kind of like baseball to use an analogy. The game is baseball and every day there is a baseball game, but no game is alike. You can’t depend on what happened in yesterday’s game to be what’s going to happen today. Yes, the game is called baseball, but pretty much after you’ve finished the rules, everything else is going to be fluctuating.

Babe Ruth said? “Yesterday’s home run won’t win today’s game.” I find that very true. Whatever I was doing yesterday, I’m glad that I could do it, hope I did it well, but that really doesn’t mean that I can do the same thing today.

In fact, I think the greatest detriment, Pete, to a person’s success is or the greatest detriment to tomorrow’s success is today’s success. The moment I kind of get settled in today and kind of say, “Oh, I’ve got this for me. I’m going to hold on to it. I want to keep it,” it’s just not going to happen. It just doesn’t happen that way, especially in the times we live right now. With social media there’s such an incredible awareness that’s happening.

I was getting ready to speak for a company. What I do when I go speak for a company is I have a pre-call to kind of find out where they are and how I can best serve them by finding out what’s your theme, what’s your objectives, etcetera. This company I was going to speak for, their theme was fast-forward.

The person on the call said, “John, what does that theme mean to you?” I said, “Well, let me just tell you what each word means to me. When I think of fast, it means to me, when I think about today it’s fast is faster. Faster, it’s faster than it’s ever been before. … I’m just going to hold for a while and wait until things kind of slow down and make sense actually.” I said, “I’m sorry. You’re going to have to die for that to happen. It just isn’t going to be there.”

Fast is faster and forward, Pete, is shorter. What I mean by that is when I started leading, my gosh, when they talked about – when I was working on a business degree when they talked about a long-range plan, they talked about ten years. A medium-range plan was five and the short-range, the short-range plan was two. Well, that’s a ridiculously long-range plan today, two years. You kind of say, “Boy, can you get it down to 12 to 18 months.”

Forward is shorter and fast is faster. Well, if that’s the case, which it is, then a book like Leadershift is essential. If we are not continually looking over the land and adjusting ourselves and being very agile, being very quick to go, we’re not going to be very effective.

One  of the things in the book – one more thing Pete and I’ll shut up – one of the things in the book that I really am glad I addressed was this issue of uncertainty because a lot of people say, “Well, I want to be certain before make that move or make that decision.” I talk about the fact that’s not possible and that leaders, the best leader shift leaders, they’re very comfortable with uncertainty.

They  understand that they are having to move before they have all the answers or before they have all of the direction or all the steps. They realize that it’s in the movement that they get clarity and they get more direction. In fact, what I tell people if you really want to kind of know what’s going to happen in three months, start moving now. The resources, the events, the experiences, start flowing toward you in that process.

I  think leaders need to be clear in their vision, but I think as far as the journey is concerned, we just have to have a real sense of openness and authenticity with people and say I’m making all of my moves based upon what I think and what I believe, but I don’t have total clarity on this at all. We’re just going because, again, speed, the ability to move quick is so essential in leadership today.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely. With that said in terms of the importance of being able to make those shifts, you lay out 11 key shifts as examples. We’ll dig into a couple of those. But I’d like to first hear across the board, what are some of the key perspectives or best practices when it comes to how we go about making a shift?

John C Maxwell
Well  I think first of all, security. I just feel that a leader that is insecure won’t be agile enough and so I think that’s essential.

Pete Mockaitis
When you say insecure, I’m intrigued there. Can you give you give some examples of what are the things that make leaders insecure? What are they worried about?

John C Maxwell
Well , I think an insecure person, first of all, most times is not comfortable in their own skin. They themselves haven’t yet come to a real sense of who they are. It’s very difficult to help people become who they would like to become if you’re not really sure who you are.

I  think that insecure people are those who mainly want to be liked and like people to always applaud them. Leadership is tough. There’s just – you’re going to make decisions that are not going to be always popular.

I  think an insecure person, most of them are controlling. I think controlling is a very damaging thing in the culture we live today. Again, if you’re relying on agility and speed, if you have to control every person and every decision and every movement, you’re just in deep weeds.

I  think maybe Pete this will illustrate it as good as I can. Gail Devers, that’s probably a name many of your listeners can recognize. She was a tremendous Olympic athlete and track star for the United States. I think, I’m not sure, but I think as a female track star, I think she won more medals than any other American Olympian, but anyway terrific athlete and won medals in three different Olympics, so just think of that span to be a world class athlete.

In  fact, the night I was having dinner with her and her husband in Atlanta, she was really training for her fourth Olympics if you could imagine. She was running races against young ladies that were young enough to be her daughter.

We’re  having a great meal. She had read a lot of my books and she wanted to ask some questions about leadership. We were having a good discussion. Towards the end of the meal, I said to her, I said, “Gail,” I said, “I’ve been thinking about this all dinner. I think if you and I ran a 100-yard race, I think I could win.”

I  wish you could have seen her face. I mean she looked at me in such disbelief. Of course an athlete this good is highly competitive. She looked at me and then she looked at her husband. She said, “Did you hear what he said?” Her husband said, “Yeah, I heard that.” Then she looked back at me, kind of disgustingly because I’m not in that kind of shape. I kind of look more like the Pillsbury Doughboy.

I  can see that I’ve got her almost to the place where she’s ready to take off those heels and go out front of this restaurant and say, “We’re going to run a block and I’m just going to show you how delusional you are.” I got her right to that point, which was a lot of fun.

Then  I said, “No, now Gail, really honestly, I do think I could win 100-yard race with you if I had an 80-yard head start.” And she goes, “Oh, well, shoot, yeah. Okay, yeah. Hello.” Now to be honest with you, I really wanted to say 70 yards, but I wasn’t sure I could do it with 70. I thought, eh, no, but 80 I could kind of roll across the line. I think I could do that. Of course, then we all had a good laugh.

But  the point is very simple. The fastest person doesn’t win the race. It’s the person who gets started first.

Pete Mockaitis
Right.

John C Maxwell
Starting  first is everything. Again, leadership is all about starting first. It’s all about being, again, quick and ready to move and being flexible and while others are kind of considering it, you’re already there.

When I think of the 11 leader shifts in the book, there are, my gosh, there are probably 100 leader shifts a person has to make. I made more than the 11, but these are the 11 in the book that are like what I would call the Mt. Everest type of stuff, the big stuff that not only I had to make, but probably every person that wants to lead is going to have to make in their life, sometime in their life.

I think that the greatest thing in life for me to do and one of the reasons I write and speak all the time is to create awareness. You just can’t fix what you don’t know needs to be fixed. The moment that a person who is hungry to learn, and grow, and get better, becomes aware, all the sudden everything begins to change.

Once you’ve had the light turned on for yourself, you want to go into a room of people and turn the light on for everybody. This is kind of a turn-the-light-on book. It’s just kind of a book that basically says, “Here, my name’s John. I’m your friend. Let me turn the light on. Let’s talk about a few of these shifts you need to make. Let me kind of tell you how I did it and cheer you on while you make them yourself.”

Pete Mockaitis
Excellent. Let’s talk about a few of them here or maybe just a couple. Choosing here. What would you say if you had to pick, which one do you think is the most critical for leaders to make or perhaps the most overlooked, like, “Oh, I need to do that and I was not yet aware. Thanks for turning the light on.”

John C Maxwell
Well,  one of the ones I find when – I taught on this before I write on it. Basically the way I write books is I teach stuff and when it sticks I think, “Oh gosh, if it’s sticking with the audience, I probably need to put it on paper.”

I  think one that has given me maybe my greatest reward that people don’t think of very much is the shift from what I call ladder climbing to ladder building. In that chapter I talk about the fact that we all start off as ladder climbers. I did. I got my first leadership responsibility and the question was how high can I climb on this ladder. I’m taking off. How high can I go?

I  think for every person that is going to be a successful leader, they have to be a good ladder climber. They need to get to the top. When you think about it-

Pete Mockaitis
And get there first.

John C Maxwell
The  credibility I have, Pete, as a leader is that I’m successful. Do you think somebody wants to follow me if I’m not successful? Whoever gets up and says, “Wow, gosh I’m not doing well financially. I’ve got to go find somebody that’s gone bankrupt a couple times and get some advice from him” No, the first thing we turn to is we turn to somebody that has done it well. We teach what we know, but we reproduce what we are. We turn to that person.

I  started off ladder climbing and did pretty good. I was a pretty good ladder climber. I kind of got to the top quickly, but I understood then that that really had very little to do with leadership, but had a lot to do with some competence that I had and some giftedness that I had.

But  I decided that I needed to start thinking of others and what am I doing, so I went from ladder climbing to what I call ladder holding. That’s basically where I go over to you, Pete and say, “Hey, could I hold your ladder for you?” What I know about somebody that holds the ladder for somebody is that they provide security for that person, they provide a solid foundation.

What  I know is, Pete, if I hold your ladder, you’re going to climb higher than if I don’t hold your ladder. I’m going to allow you to what I would call achieve a couple of extra rungs in your life. You’re going to go a little bit higher than you’d go if I wasn’t there. That’s kind of a shift that I made from “I’m just going to climb my own ladder and build my own thing and do my own thing” to “Well, shoot, why don’t I go help some other people.” I made the shift to a ladder holder.

Then , this is very – again, it’s a journey, so you don’t know this stuff on the frontend, you always know it during the process and on the backend. As I was holding people’s ladders, what I discovered is two things. One is they climbed higher because I helped them and served them. Number two is some of them really can climb high.

All  of the sudden I realized as a ladder holder, I was able to find out who the potential successful people and leaders would be. Some just climb higher than others with my help. Ladder holding became the qualifying exercise I did to go to the next shift, which was ladder extending.

If  I’m holding your ladder, you get completely as high as you can go and I’m saying, “Gosh, let’s extend this thing. The only reason you didn’t go any higher is there wasn’t any more ladder there. Let’s get you some more ladder feet and go for it.

Ladder  holding allowed me to qualify really who I mentored because that’s who I would put in the ladder extending areas. It’s just – it’s now all of the sudden you’re taking them to another level and you’re helping them just go to heights that they never would have gone.

Then,  again, all this does is evolves into the next natural shift. As I’m extending your ladder, we’ve got that baby up pretty high. Pete, you take that extension, just keep on climbing. All the sudden I realized you could basically climb as high as we can extend. There’s really no limits to you.

Then  it’s kind of like, “Wow, this is the ultimate.” I’m extending people’s ladders and they’re going higher than they ever thought was possible and making a bigger difference than they ever would have dreamed. I’m just getting all excited about it. Then I realized, no there’s another shift yet. This is the one that’s really going to make the big difference for people.

I’m  going, if you can see me from ladder climbing to ladder holding to ladder extending to ladder building. I just look at you and I say, “Pete, you need to build your own ladder. You don’t need to use my ladder. I need to empower you. I need to release to you. I need to bless you. I need to let you go and let you build your own kingdom, build your own business, build your own work, be your own entrepreneur. You don’t really need me.”

What’s  incredible is that when I became a ladder builder, that’s when I developed all these incredible leaders that I’ve had the privilege for so many years having watched them, many of them do better than what I could have. That’s for sure. To me I think the greatest fulfillment is not seeing how high I can go. When I was climbing my own ladder I figured out pretty quick I can go pretty high, but that’s kind of an end in itself.

I  thought, okay, I know what I can do, but I wonder what I could do with people. I wonder if I could help them to go high. Those shifts, I have a fondness for this whole ladder shifting because I just – it’s kind of almost like – it’s kind of like the story of my life, where I’ve been and what I’ve done and kind of where I am and really what I love to do.

My  greatest joy today is just fathering a lot of leaders and just blessing them and watching them, again, excel incredibly. It makes me very proud and just – and very humble to have maybe a little part in it. That’s for sure.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s really cool. When you’re doing this ladder holding, and ladder extending, and ladder building, what are some of the particular practices or key questions you’re asking? What are you doing in practice when you’re providing this support on the ladder?

John C Maxwell
Well,  I lead by questions. That’s how I lead. Probably one of the big shifts I had in my life was that I – in the beginning I led by direction. I just kind of basically pointed and gave people direction on where to go and what to do.

I  made the discovery really that that wasn’t the highest or the best way to lead, so over time – again, it’s all maturing and learning and growing – I went from giving a lot of directions to asking more questions because kind of the whole principle is based on the fact you’ve got to find your people before you can meet them. Pete, one of the great disasters in leadership is leading by assumption. Wow, gosh, I see it all the time.

I  had a wonderful friend, Pat Summitt, who passed away a couple years ago, but she was the University of Tennessee lady volunteer basketball coach and I think the most successful women’s coach ever in basketball, college basketball. I think she had over 1,000 wins. But she was an amazing woman, an amazing leader and an amazing person.

She  would feed her team my books and got to me and talked to me and asked me to come up some time and talk to the team and go to the game. I said sure, so I did. It was an incredible experience because at half time, the lady volunteers when into the locker room and I kind of followed them and the coaches. I just said, well, sit right here in the room with the basketball players for a moment. Her and the coaches went off into another room. One of the-

Pete Mockaitis
It’s all you.

John C Maxwell
No,  this is incredible. One of the basketball players, one of the lady volunteer gals, there was a marker board at the front of the room. The marker board had two questions: what did we do right, what did we do wrong, and what do we need to change.

They  went into this exercise where one player led the other players. “Okay, in the first half what did we do right?” They wrote down three or four things they did right. “Okay, what did we do wrong?” Wrote a few things down they did wrong. “What do we need to change during the second half to improve and get better?” They wrote these things down. This exercise didn’t take them long because they were used to doing it. Took them five minutes maybe.

Here  comes Pat into the locker room, goes straight to the marker board, looks at what did we do right, what did we do wrong, what do we need to change, made a couple comments, not very many, maybe a minute or two, just a couple comments, affirmed what they were thinking, and maybe tweaked them if they weren’t or maybe if they missed something. Out on the floor they went and played the second half.

After  the press conference Pat and I went out to dinner. I said, “Pat,” I said, “that was an amazing exercise.” I said, “Talk to me about it.” Here’s what she told me, she said, “John, my first year and a half as a coach I was not a good coach and my teams were not successful.” She said, “I kept asking myself, okay, what am I missing?” She said, “I just knew that there was something that was obvious that I was missing as a coach to help me out.”

She  said, “I came to the conclusion after about 18 months that I was assuming that these players knew what I knew. I was assuming that they had basics under their belt. I was assuming that when I talked to them we were all on the same page.” She said, “John, I wasn’t on the same page with them at all. I wasn’t even in the same book with some of them.” She said, “I all of the sudden realized I was trying to lead them and I hadn’t found them yet.”

She  said, “I started asking questions, so I went to this exercise.” She said, “I can walk in now and while I’m walking to the marker board, by the time I get to the front I already know if they’re aware and if they understand. If they don’t,” she said, “it’s my job as a coach to get them on the same page I’m on as far as awareness is concerned.” But she said, “It just changed everything.” She said, “Now, I coach from where they are, not coach from where I think they are.”

When  you talk about shifting and where I am, and this book, in fact I had – one of the leader shifts that I talk about in the book is going from directing to connecting. That directing to connecting is you connect by asking questions.

Today,  pretty much I lead everybody, everything I lead I basically go in and ask questions and find out where they are. As soon as I find out where they are, then leadership’s pretty – it’s pretty simple. I put a whole chapter in the book on just that because I thought my gosh, if they just learn to find their people and it will be life changing for them. That’s for sure.

Pete Mockaitis
Those questions are so great. You talk about the assumption is that you can very clearly see, “Oh wow, you have a completely different perspective on what you think you did right and wrong than I do, so okay, this is where we’re going to start,” as opposed to, “Okay, perfect,” and to just sort of facilitate ownership along the way. That’s huge.

John C Maxwell
Yeah, they say this Lombardi, of course, the great Super Bowl coach of the Packers, they say what he would bring all these pros together for their first practice at the beginning of the season. The first thing he did is hold up a football and he’d look at these pros. Now think about it. They played high school. They played colleges. Their pros. They’re the best in the profession.

He would start off every year with the same speech. He’d hold up a football and say, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” He wasn’t about to assume anything. He’s just, “Let’s just talk about it. Let’s start from the basics and work our way up.”

I’m blessed I have several companies and got a lot of balls in the air. I just have found and discovered that if I just go and ask questions, very quickly, very quickly, kind of find out what they know, what they don’t know, where they are, it just answers everything for me. I think learning to ask great questions helps us to connect on common ground, which becomes pretty amazing to be honest with you.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s great. If I may, I’d love to hear maybe just a couple bullets, like what are some of your favorite, powerful go-to questions that have served you well again and again?

John C Maxwell
Well,  for example, if you and I were in any kind of a meeting, let’s say we’re in a creative meeting. We’re talking about the brand or whatever. When we’re all finished meeting, I’ll just say, “Okay, let’s just go around the room and give me what you think is the most important takeaway right now that you just got out of this time, out of this session.” It kind of helps me to know very quickly if they’re assessing what I’m assessing in that meeting or not.

With  my children, even with my grandchildren today whenever we have an experience, I always ask them – as soon as the experience is over, they know I’m going to ask them two questions. My children if I did this once, I did it ten thousand times. With my grandchildren probably about that many too. I’ll just look at them when we’re done with the experience, I’ll say, “Okay,” they know it’s coming, “What did you love? What did you learn?”

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

John C Maxwell
I  start with kids with ‘What did you love?” because they always know that because they feel that emotionally. But ‘What did you learn?’ and it’s just phenomenal because, you see, experience is not the best teacher, Pete. You hear it all the time. People say, “Oh, experience is the best teacher,” but it’s not. It really isn’t. If experience were the best teacher, then as people get older, they’d all get better.

Pete Mockaitis
Right.

John C Maxwell
Because  they have more experience. Again, I know most people I know, they’re getting old; they’re not getting better. They’re getting worse. Experience is not the best teacher. Evaluated experience is the best teacher.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful.

John C Maxwell
Taking  time to come out of an experience and then pull away and reflect, reflection really takes experience and turns it into insight. What I do is I constantly ask myself – in fact, when I’m done with our time together, I’ll take three minutes because it’s just a habit, it’s one of my hopefully better habits, but I’ll – it’s practice that’s for sure – I’ll take three minutes and I’ll go over what we just talked about.

I’ll  say, “Okay, when your time with Pete and the listeners today, what do are you taking out of that, that 45-minute experience? What do you glean out of that, Maxwell?” Again, evaluating, reflection, asking questions.

Boy , the moment that you begin to – when you begin to understand – I had a mentor named Charles Blair who said, “John, always have an understanding so there’s not a misunderstanding.” I just live that kind of a leadership life. I’m very comfortable with asking questions. What’s beautiful, it doesn’t take a long time.

In  fact, I … all the time, because I get some push back on this from kind of choleric-type top-down leaders. They say, “John, when you start asking questions, you give up control.” I say, “No, no, you don’t understand. When you start asking questions you’re in total control because you’re in control of the questions you’re asking.”

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

John C Maxwell
That’s  what pulled me back to the discussion, so go back to the Pat Summitt, University of Tennessee illustration. She was in total control when she walked in that room because she was getting out of the girls exactly what she needed. “What did we do right? What did we do wrong? What do we need to change?” She was in complete control, but while she was in control, she was also getting information that was very essential to her to lead them to the next step.

Leadership is a very exciting venture when you just understand how to ask the question. In fact, I wrote a book five or six, maybe seven years ago – gosh, time goes so fast – but I wrote a book that – I just wanted to write it because I love to ask questions, but it just went kind of crazy, it took off, called Good Leaders Ask Great Questions. I have a chapter in there, Questions I Ask Myself, Questions I Ask My Team.

I  just went through and helped people kind of understand. Questions are kind of like keys; they unlock the lock. You’ve got this lock and you can’t get in, but if you’ve got the key you can. Questions just kind of open up the doors for me and allow me to do that, so I love it.

That  chapter on directing to connecting in the Leadershift book was, gosh, it was a lot of fun because I think it’s just going to be very enlightening to a lot of people. I think they’re going to have a lot of aha moments when they’re going to get there.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh that’s cool. Well, I want to talk about sort of a big key and a big question that’s particularly to shift into an explicitly Christian context for a moment for our listeners of faith. When I’ve got John C Maxwell, I can’t not ask. Tell me what’s your take on how we can most effectively listen to God’s voice and take the appropriate steps and make the shifts that he wills for you?

John C Maxwell
I made that shift about four years ago.

Pete Mockaitis
Only four?

John C Maxwell
Yeah , I really did. I think I was typical. Most people in their prayer time, I had a list. When I took some time with God, I would go down the list, typical choleric, and kind of talk to him about it and check it off.

About  four years ago, I was just thinking of basically the scripture principle that God’s ways are higher than ours and that God knows what we need more than we know what we need. All of the sudden I started getting a little bit amused and I thought how ironic that I’ve spent all my time with my agenda when I pray with God. I’m much more interested on my agenda than I am on his agenda.

It  kind of came to me – one time I had a person who I was in a conversation with them, they said – they were talking to me and they just said, “Well,” she said, “I would just like to directly hear from God.” I started smiling. I said, “No, you don’t. You don’t really want to hear from God. If you did, trust me, it’s not on your agenda. It’s not what you think he’s going to say or what he’s going to hear.” I was kind of amused by it.

Then  I thought to myself, I wonder what would happen if I just took that approach to prayer. I switched, well, four years ago and I have no agenda in prayer anymore. I have an agenda and that is to listen and to be still and to hear his voice. I take a legal pad and my four-color pen and I sit and I have the Word with me. I just open my heart and basically share with God that I want him to speak.

He  may speak through an experience that I had recently or he may speak through a passage of scripture to me, he may speak through some music, but I’m just going to listen to you. It’s really changed my life. It’s made me want to spend more time with him.

Before  it was like I wanted to spend more time with him so I could get through my list, but now it’s kind of like I wonder what surprise he has for me. I wonder what he’s thinking today that is going to really add value to me or take me in a direction I wouldn’t have even imagined.

Anyway,  I kind of made a – I guess you could call that a prayer shift in my life. But I found it to be – I really found it to be very effective. I’m kind of grateful for it to be honest with you.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s really cool. Now I want to get your take on how do you differentiate in those moments, like something pops into your head between what you think is you and what you think is the Lord?

John C Maxwell
Oh, …. I think it’s – I’m asked that question often and I think I have a really good answer.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh boy.

John C Maxwell
Is –  well, I really do. I tell people all the time, well, a whole bunch of it’s me because I’m human and so even though I have a great desire to hear from him, I don’t say that I don’t have a lot of John in that thought pattern. But where it really helps me is the fact that when it’s him, it stays with me.

What  I basically do is I say, “Okay, these are the five things I sense from you today. I think I’ll table them for 24 hours. I’ll come back and let me just see if any of them resonate.” I find that tabling them, for the right reason, not for a reason of disobedience, but more of a reason for discernment, I come back the next day and the wood and the hay and the stuff just kind of separates. The chaff separates from the real thing.

If  I keep coming back to it three or four times over a week, Pete, then after a while I say, “Okay, yeah, this is something I need to really learn from and spend time listening to him.” One of the beautiful things that has come out of this, just really beautiful, I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned out of it – I don’t know, but it seems to be the biggest one to me is obedience. Whatever he says to you, just do it.

In  John chapter 2 Cana and Galilee and the wedding feast and the water turned to wine, if you can imagine those servants taking those jars and filling them up with water, they have got to think, “This is the stupidest thing …” And then when they were asked to take the jars to the host, I think they said, “And this is the day I get fired. This is the day I get fired because they’re asking for wine. I’m bringing water.” Of course, when it was poured out, it was wine.

It  said, basically a passage says, the people didn’t understand what had happened, but it said the servants knew. Well, the reason they knew is because they were in the act of obedience of putting the water in the buckets or in the jars. The point being, Pete, it’s very simple. Obedience is never understood on the frontend; it’s always understood on the backend.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I really like that and particularly that Bible story. Interesting fact, when I got married my wedding gift to my groomsmen was a little corkscrew wine opener that had inscribed on it that verse, “Do whatever he tells you.” It just seemed like a good-

John C Maxwell
I love that. I love that.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s like hey, it’s wine and it’s good advice.

John C Maxwell
Oh my gosh, I’m going to steal that.

Pete Mockaitis
Steal it away. Yeah.

John C Maxwell
Oh, I love that.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool.

John C Maxwell
See, shoot, this is going to be such an easy evaluation when I’m done with you. It’s going to take me five seconds to figure out what my takeaway is today.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I’m honored.

John C Maxwell
That is a beautiful, beautiful gift, “Whatever he says to you, do it.”

Pete Mockaitis
Cool.

John C Maxwell
Gosh. You had it inscribed on the opener.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s right. The corkscrew, there’s a metal part, so I had an engraver put that in there.

John C Maxwell
Okay, thank you.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, thank you.

John C Maxwell
I hope I’ve done for your listeners today what you’ve done for me. Of course, you’re doing it for them too because they’re hearing this. They’re all going out and getting their Christmas idea. I’m going to sit down and talk – I’m going to talk to my wife about this. I think that would be a fabulous Christmas gift.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool. Well, I’m so glad to be able to contribute. That’s cool.

John C Maxwell
Oh gosh, I love that. I love that. Thank you.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, thank you. Well, yeah, in our last couple minutes we like to do what I call the fast faves, get a quick perspective from you on some of your favorite things. Could you kick us off with a favorite quote, something that inspires you?

John C Maxwell
Well, I have so many of them, but the one I’m talking about the most now is “Everything worthwhile is uphill.” Love that quote. In fact, I visually just raise my arm when I teach it that basically what I tell people is there’s nothing you have in your life worthwhile that didn’t take time, effort, energy. It’s all uphill. In fact, if you’re going downhill, I don’t know what you’re going to arrive at, but it’s not worthwhile.

The only way that you can go uphill – if everything worthwhile is uphill, the only way you can go uphill is to be intentional. That quote means a lot to me because no one ever climbed a mountain by accident. No one ever talked about accidental achievements in their life. It’s intentional.

In fact, I wrote a book three or four years ago called Intentional Living. The whole book is all about the fact that most people accept their life instead of lead their life. If you accept your life, you just come up with much less than what can you have in your life if you were intentional. “Everything worthwhile is uphill,” I think that’s probably mine.

Pete Mockaitis
Excellent. Thank you. How about a favorite book?

John C Maxwell
Well, of course, the Bible is my favorite book. By the way, when I do leadership and of course most of my world is secular, but people sometimes will say, “Where did you really get your leadership stuff?” I’ll tell them, “Everything I learned about leadership, I learned from the Bible. Everything.”

In fact, I’ve had some great Q&A interaction times with secular community basically saying, “You give me your best leadership thought and I’ll give you a biblical foundation for it.” It’s startling. It’s startling. It’s the greatest leadership book ever written.

In fact, the favorite thing I’ve ever done is not writing books as much as I had the privilege several years ago to do the Maxwell Leadership Bible and put my leadership lessons that I taught out of the Bible in the Bible.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh cool.

John C Maxwell
That Leadership Bible is just – a million Bibles later it’s just still going crazy. I’ve done – in fact I just finished my third edition. I have, Pete, over 600 lessons on leadership in there. Every page has another leadership lesson, but it’s all on the Word.

I’m reading a book right now called Leadership: In Turbulent Times. Fabulous book, but I’m a fan of this author. Her name is Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh right.

John C Maxwell
She’s basically a presidential scholar. She spent her whole life studying presidents of the United States. She wrote a Team of Rivals about Lincoln and she’s written one on Kennedy, one on FDR, one on LBJ, one on Teddy Roosevelt. I consume all of them. But this one is she took Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, LBJ and Lincoln and basically wrote a book on how they lived during turbulent times. It’s a fabulous read. I’m loving it.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool, thank you. Well in our last moment here, could you share a final challenge or call to action for folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

John C Maxwell
Yeah,  well I would just say whenever I listen to something or in an experience, I always do what I call ACT: what should I apply, what should I change, and what should I teach someone else. It’s just simple, ACT.
If it’s like a long session, I may get three or four A’s, a couple C’s, maybe five or six T’s. I look at them and I categorize them. I just put ACT in the margins on my notes so that I can find them. What’s one A, what’s two  – or what’s one A, one C, and one T. Whatever those are, those three A, C, T, I just take the next 30 days and I do them every day, the one A, one C, and one T, every day for 30 days until it kind of becomes a habit. I’ve done this for 35 years. It just works.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Well, John, this has been a real treat. Thanks so much for all you’re doing in the world. It’s greatly appreciated. I hope that Leadershift is another hit. Just keep on rocking.

John C Maxwell
Doing my best, friend. Every day I have a great job. I just get up and add value to people. It’s pretty good gig, isn’t it?

Pete Mockaitis
Mm-hm.

John C Maxwell
Thank you Pete.

384: Bringing More Joy into Work with Bruce Daisley

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Bruce Daisley says: "We seek so much of our own identity from our jobs."

Vice President  of Twitter Bruce Daisley shares the key differences that make the difference between work delight and drudgery.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Two hacks for restoring your personal equilibrium at work
  2. The benefits of connecting with your colleagues through laughter
  3. Why working more than 40 hours a week is a bad idea

About Bruce

As European Vice-President for Twitter and host of the UK’s number one business podcast Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat he is in the centre of the debate about the way work and communication is evolving.

Daisley has been one of the Evening Standard’s 1,000 Most Influential Londoners for four years and is one of Debrett’s 500 Most Influential People in Britain. Campaign magazine asserted that Daisley is ‘one of the most talented people in media.’

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Bruce Daisley Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Bruce, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to Be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Bruce Daisley
Well, I’m really flattered to be asked, so thank you so much for having me.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, well, I’m excited to dig in. I believe Dan Cable introduced us and his was one of my favorite podcasts episodes, so there’s a big, big expectation Bruce, that you’re going to bring it.

Bruce Daisley
Thank you. Well, let me try my best.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. Well, you have defined yourself as “work culture obsessive,” which is a good turn of a phrase. Your body of work seems to show it. On top of a pretty demanding job, you’ve put out a great podcast, Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat. You’ve got a book coming out. What do you mean by being work culture obsessive?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah, I think the interesting thing for me, I work at Twitter. I’m fortunate enough that when guests used to come to the London Twitter office from all around the world, almost without exception they’d say, “Wow, this is just an incredible office. We love the culture here.”

I had heard that previously. I used to run the UK team for YouTube at Google and all the time people used to either wander past my team or interact with my team. They’d say, “Wow, what a special team.” Unfortunately, I was misdirected into believing that that was down to a magical skill that I had.

I think a couple of years ago I became aware that maybe people at my work weren’t as motivated or as happy as they once were. I became obsessed not with sort of drawing on my own hunches about how culture is created, but more thinking, “I wonder how I could arm myself with evidence.” I think that’s the critical thing I’ve done really. With the passion of trying to work out how to improve work culture, I’ve set about trying to get evidence of how to do it.

In the course of the last couple years on my own podcast I’ve really just pestered and tracked down some of the people who’ve written the most interesting books that I’ve found.

I’ve been fortunate enough I think that when you contact someone who’s written a magical piece of research, something that’s just really fascinating and compelling and they’re not in the promotional time for it, they’re often very willing to talk. I’m so lucky to have got people who have written just some of the most fascinating books and got them to talk to me.

I guess, I’ve got a fascination in how to improve work and being evidence led on how to do that.

Pete Mockaitis
Very cool. Very cool. I want to do dig into all sorts of fascinating bits of research. Maybe could you orient us right now? You are a vice president of Twitter for Europe, Middle East, and Africa. What does that mean or what does that entail in terms of your job and what are some of the practices that you’re seeing really make a big impact in terms of bringing about the joy of work?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah. It’s a good question. I think when you do an original job like mine, it goes without saying that I’m fortunate that I’ve got very, very capable people in all of the markets we operate in. I’ve got a formidable person working in Spain. I’ve just got an incredibly talented person working in the UK. My job really is to try and provide sort of bursts of energy for those people.

Someone contacted me today asking for some help with a contractual issue. Effectively, I guess, I’m someone that the leaders in those countries can call upon when they need additional support. I’m like a router really. I sort of direct energy and I direct resources when appropriate and try and stay out of the way when appropriate as well, so an interesting role.

I guess the principle thing I would say in terms of how I’ve learned about the joy of work from those countries, I think the thing that the UK is very similar to the US on is that increasingly more and more workers are sort of eating at our desks.

When you go and explain that to someone in France or someone in Spain, you say, “Guys, it’s really important we start trying to take lunch breaks,” they look at you very confused. They don’t really understand what on earth you’re talking about.

It’s because those cultures have really recognized, historically recognized, the importance of lunch breaks and the importance of the social magic that’s created in those interactions. Unfortunately, it’s the more Anglo-Saxon part of the world that’s economized on those things.

For me, it’s understanding work culture and understanding how to improve work culture as being a real excursion into understanding the different national cultures around the world and what we can learn from them.

Pete Mockaitis
I want to touch on that national piece there because the engagement data on workers in the UK is even worse by a pretty good margin than it is for workers in the US. Do you have a comment on what could be driving that there?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah. To give those figures – I think the engagement figures for US workers I think – all of us, if we looked at these numbers cold we’d say – I think the US engagement is 20-something percent. I can’t remember top of my head. The figure for UK workers is 8%. 8% of British workers feel that they are actively engaged in their job.

The only solace that I can provide to the British is that the lowest in the world is actually the French. According to the Gallup survey, the Gallup workforce survey, 3% of French workers are actively engaged in their job.

Pete Mockaitis
Even with the lunch breaks?

Bruce Daisley
I know. How bad. There’s certainly a global crisis of engagement. We seek so much of our own identity from our jobs. If you look at the evidence, people who do jobs are happier, they live longer, they feel more fulfilled in life, then those who don’t do jobs.

Jobs play a really important part in our self-esteem, but quite often they’re not set up correctly, they’re not focused on us achieving things in the way that we would most like, so we end up becoming slightly disengaged or sometimes very actively disengaged in the jobs that we do.

Pete Mockaitis
Right and I’m curious from your observations across countries, are there particular mindsets or policies? I wondered if it’s a little trickier – my understanding is in some European countries it’s trickier to say fire somebody. I think sometimes it’s trickier to find a job. Is that fair to say as compared to the US?

Bruce Daisley
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
I wonder if that had a role with it with regard to finding fit. It’s a little bit of obstacles there. Do you think it’s a factor or what’s behind it?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah, I think – I wouldn’t necessarily say that those things have a direct impact on how engaged people are in their jobs, so you see – you do see a variance across Europe and you do see – it’s not necessarily that when it’s hire-at-will and fire-at-will that workers are more engaged.

There’s definitely cultural factors that play a part. There’s definitely elements in the job that play a part. Some cultures historically have been more hierarchical. Some national cultures have been more hierarchical.

When you look at workers, one of the key factors in people being engaged in work is the ability to speak up to the boss. It’s sometimes called psychological safety. The ability to put your hand up and say, “I don’t think this is right,” when you see something that appears to me maybe slightly against our expectations. The willingness to speak up to the boss is one of the most powerful indicators of workplace culture.

There are definitely some cultures that are more hierarchical. Some cultures where speaking up to the boss is really frowned upon. Definitely that plays a part. There are significant cultural differences between different countries.

Pete Mockaitis
Intriguing. You unpack some of this in your book, The Joy of Work. What would you say is the main idea or thesis there?

Bruce Daisley
I split it into three parts. The fundamental part for me was when I was setting out on my own process of discovery I was interested in finding evidence about how we could bring some of the work that’s being done by experts into the world of work.

There’s no shortage of psychologists, anthropologists, people who’ve studied neuroscience, who’ve given us indications of better ways to be working. The challenge for me was that a lot of that evidence wasn’t reaching the workplace.

I split the book into three parts. The first part is just to try and restore us to a position of a more balanced equilibrium. I think it’s fair to say that the stats suggest that half of all office workers report feeling burnt out, but that’s also common to nurses, that’s also common teachers. The state of feeling burnt out by our jobs, by feeling exhausted by the amount we’re working is becoming increasingly ubiquitous; half of all of us feel it at any point.

The first part of the book is really just very simple ways to try and restore our equilibrium. I call that section in the book Recharge. Some of the sections there are often really small interventions. I’ll give you one example. One of the most effective things that anyone can do to feel less overwhelmed by their job is to turn notifications off on their phone.

Pete Mockaitis
Just like that.

Bruce Daisley
This is a really strange one. Because when you tell people that this is one of your interventions, they often look at me thinking, “Okay, this book’s going to be really trivial.” But let me give you the evidence on that one.

Half of all people – this was done by someone working at a mobile phone company of all things. He’s working at Telefonica, a European cellphone company. He was trying to get people to turn their notifications off for a week. He couldn’t get enough people to do it. He said, “Okay, if not a week, will you turn your notifications off for a day.”

To just give you an indication of how powerful this is, two years after he did that intervention, half of all the people who made that decision to turn their notifications off, still had them turned off.

Pete Mockaitis
One day.

Bruce Daisley
One day, two years. People when they try this they say, “You know what? I was just able to get a bit of calm back to my life. I was able to not keep checking that email icon that kept popping up. Black Friday offers or whatever it was that was drawing me back there. I was given a bit of head space.” Half of all people who did that still had it turned off.

Consequently, with that in mind, as soon as you realize you can improve work with lots of little hacks, with lots of little changes, then it becomes an exercise in finding what are the other hacks.


One of the other things that I found that was fascinating for creativity. When we look at creativity, there’s many different ways to categorize the brain, but one of the most common systems is that scientists talk about the salience network, the executive attention network and the third one, the one I’ll talk about, is the default network. These three networks sort of operate across the whole of your brain, but they do different functions.

The default network is this fabulous part of the brain which is – it tends to be where we dwell when we’re daydreaming. It’s all where thoughts organize themselves and bounce around, but often when you say to people, “When did that idea come to you?” it’s at a time when the default network is running our brains.

I’ll give you an illustration. Often people say, “Oh, had a good idea while I was in the shower,” “Had a good idea while I was going for a walk.” That’s not uncommon because that’s the time the default network is daydreaming and allowing little thoughts to interact with each other, to bounce off each other.

As soon as you know that, as soon as you know that creativity comes from the default network, you start thinking of what are the ways to activate that? One of the most powerful ways to activate the default network is to go for a walk.

If you’re trying to brainstorm, if you’re trying to get ideas down on a piece of paper, then often we find ourselves stranded in a lifeless sort of pretty dull meeting room often frowning into our laptops, or frowning onto a white board. Actually one of the most powerful things you can do is go for a walk. 81% of people saw an increase in ideas. Their ideas went up two-thirds when they did that. It’s a really powerful thing.

But the default network can be activated in so many different ways. My favorite example of the default network is the guy who wrote The West Wing TV show, he also wrote The Social Network film, a guy called Aaron Sorkin. He stumbled upon this. No one told him this, but he stumbled upon the idea that his best ideas came to him when he was in the shower. As a result of that, he had a shower installed in his office.

In a sort of fabulous interview – he was interviewed I think by Hollywood Reporter and he was asked about his habit for showers. He takes eight showers a day. He takes eight showers a day. He was asked about this. He said, “It’s not that I’m obsessively clean. That’s not why I’m doing it. I’m doing it because the sense of freethinking, the sense of sort of free association I have in the shower just gets me past any road blocking, gets me past any sense that I’m stranded in my thinking.”

For me, as soon as you understand that, you start thinking, right, then when am I allowing my default network to play and to create? The answer quite often is pretty infrequently. We fill our day with meetings, with emails. We’re not giving ourselves time to think and dream.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I love that example in that it’s sort of an extreme action. It’s like, “Hey, I’ve made this observation and it’s really working for me, so we’re going to go all in. Install the shower. Do it eight times a day.” That’s such a cool example.

Bruce Daisley
Exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
I want to dig into that notifications a bit. Not to get too nitty-gritty, but let’s talk it. Now the key thing about the notifications is simply the beeps and buzzes from our phone or is it everything. Don’t pop up on my phone screen visually. Don’t give me red badges. Is it sort of like all notifications or just the ones that can interrupt you from other stuff?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah, it’s all of them, all of them. But what I will say, Pete, it gives you a real mental availability. My own experience at doing this of all the interventions, there’s 30 interventions in my book, which unfortunately it’s not being published in the US for another 12 months. But there’s 30 interventions in my book and I’ve tried all of them out.

But this one is you have to turn off all notifications. You turn off the number that sits on that email app. You turn off the thing that slides down on your screen. What happens is that I find myself in the morning and I go through that routine that we’ve all become accustomed to, which is you wake up, you check your message apps, you check your social apps.

Then it used to be that I always checked my email and increasingly now I forget to check email. I’ll find myself heading out on my journey to work and then an hour into my journey to work or just as I’m arriving at my office door, I think “Oh, I haven’t checked email.”

To me it’s incredibly liberating because often that sense when you’re checking email but before you get to the office, it either disrupts your morning commute and you find yourself trying to answer something badly at the kitchen table or it sort of creates a sense of sort of claustrophobia that you want to answer it but you don’t have time.

Of all the interventions, as I said, this is the most powerful one. It’s just an illustration I think that we can push back against the demands of work. We often feel helpless in the face of work, but this gives us scope to really push back and try and feel more refreshed, feel more recharged really.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s really cool. I like that term claustrophobia in terms of right now it’s sort of got a piece of you in term of your mental attention. It’s there. It’s like, “Oh I want to reply to that. I can’t right now. What will I say? Maybe this.” Now your brain is consumed with that and you’re sort of short changing your opportunity in the default system mode of transportation zoning out to get those creative ideas.

Bruce Daisley
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

Pete Mockaitis
You said 30 interventions, so I know we won’t have time to hit all 30, but if I may invoke perhaps the 80/20 rule. If 6 of them are yielding 80% of the value, can you give us what are the other half?

Bruce Daisley
The first 12 are all these recharges. Then probably the bit of the book that I found most fascinating when I was researching and it was something that the more I researched it, the more I became addicted and compelled to the science of it was this idea of human sync, this idea of human synchronization. The science of this is remarkable.

If you put a group o as soon as you realize you can improve work with lots of little hacks, with lots of little changes, then it becomes an exercise in finding what are the other hacks. f people who are strangers singing together in a choir, you observe that their endurance, their fortitude goes up. I’ll explain to you how in a second. When you put rowers together and you get them to row in time with each other, their fortitude and their endurance goes up. They become more than the sum of their parts remarkably. It’s choirs, rowers. When you put people together who dance, you see the same.

When I mention the fortitude, that’s one thing that scientists have found. They find it very difficult to measure the endorphin levels in people, but they find it very easy to measure the consequence of those endorphins. What they often do – and it sounds a touch callous – but they inflict pain upon people.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Bruce Daisley
Scientists, they tend to put these armbands around people’s arms, sort of things like what you might have worn or taught a child to swim in. But if you imagine you keep inflating those armbands until it starts creating a bit of pain on the arm of the subject.

What they found was that people who had rowed in time with each other could withstand twice the amount of pain of people who just rowed on their own. People who danced together, withstand more pain than people who’ve not danced together. People-

Pete Mockaitis
Now is this while they’re rowing and while they’re dancing or sort of at a resting state?

Bruce Daisley
Yes. No, so immediately when they stop, they can withstand the pain. It creates this magical thing. It’s really interesting. When we’re thinking about teams, the choir is a perfect example. You put strangers together and you get them to sing together and actually when you look at the evidence afterwards, they often say, “I feel a connection to the person I sung with,” even when that person was a stranger ten minutes before.

It has this remarkable quality. As soon as you understand that there is something about us being in sync with others that seems to develop this sort of fortitude, it seems to develop this connection, then you start thinking okay, are there other ways that we can access this. There are.

One of the most compelling bits of science about sync I’ve seen is scientists took about 4,000 unmarried couples who were living in a distant relationship. They were maybe sort of – one was in the West coast, one was in the East coast.

Pete Mockaitis
These are like romantic relationships?

Bruce Daisley
That’s right.

Pete Mockaitis
So distance. Okay.

Bruce Daisley
That’s right. They tried to understand which of these couples stayed together. What they found was the couples that stayed together over the period of time that they were being observed had one thing in common. It was the ones who phoned each other every day to talk about trivial things.

When we have this human sync, when we take time to get in sync with each other and that often is conversation, but clearly the most magical form is this physical interaction, but we can observe it. The couples who spoke together every day, their relationships were more enduring.

We see lots of examples of this. One of the other bits that you see in this … is that there’s a wonderful researcher who’s looked at a lot of this work, a guy called Robin Dunbar. Robin Dunbar, he looked at animals and he observed that one of the ways that animals get in sync with each other is they do mutual grooming. It’s no longer acceptable Pete, unfortunately for me to stop and pick fleas off of you.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m just thinking I’ve got a great hairbrush, just come on over.

Bruce Daisley
Maybe this is why we see teenage girls do this. We see the endorphin levels rocket through the roof when animals spend time in mutual grooming. However, he said they observed exactly the same behavior when humans laugh together, which is really interesting.

You’ve got this phenomenon of human sync. Chat activates it. Spending time around in synchronized activities with others activates it, but also laughing with others activates it. The consequence of sync is that it tends to make us more bonded with the people we’re working with. It tends to make us have a greater allegiance with the people we’re working with.

Anyone who’s thinking about how to make work better, thinking about how you can build some maybe sort of collective laughter into the working environment is a really important thing.

Of course, strangely a lot of us have stumbled upon that through our own experience. We’ve maybe been in companies where the company meeting at the end of the week, there was always a guy who stood up and made everyone laugh. That place seemed better than this place, but we couldn’t put our finger on why.

I think this for me is a good piece of science that says, as human beings we shouldn’t be ashamed of finding benefit in some of these things like laughter. We shouldn’t be ashamed in feeling more connected to our teammates when we spend time laughing with them.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s really cool. That just gets me thinking in terms of how to get that laughter going. I remember one time I was in an office and we had just a little fun event in which everyone – well, you might dig this, former YouTube – everyone was to bring one of their favorite YouTube videos. We just sort of hung out. That’s what we did. There was maybe 20 people. Each person brought a YouTube video they thought was great and we all just laughed together. It was a whole lot of fun.

Bruce Daisley
Well, one of the best books on laughter is by a scientist called Robert Provine. Robert Provine said – it was a really interesting thing – he said even though I think there’s somewhere in the region of 70,000 scientific papers, so peered-reviewed papers into pain, there’s less than 100 scientific reviewed papers into laughter. Scientists often feel it’s a bit frivolous to investigate laughter.

He decided that he was going to do one of the biggest pieces of research into laughter. He pulled together all of everyone else’s research. Here’s what he found.

He found laughter quite often in an office – so I’ve talked there about optimizing an office for laughter – but he said often in an office, laughter is around things that aren’t necessarily the funniest things in the world. We often find ourselves laughing with colleagues at things that wouldn’t necessarily get on their own Netflix special.

But he said in many ways laughter, the way he describes it, is in many ways, laughter is like a human’s bird song. It’s like the sound we make to feel connected to each other.

Actually one of the things that laughter signals – there’s a wonderful bit of science that if you look at how animals play, one thing that dogs do is they often do a thing where they lean forward on their front two legs, sort of very similar to the yoga position, the downward dog.

Scientists who look at that say that that signals that no harm will pass here, that dogs know that if they lean forward on their front two legs, that even if they look like they’re about to bite each other, they know that it’s a signal that things are safe. One scientist said to me that laughter signals the same for humans. We laugh to signal we’re all friends here. This is just – we’re connected with each other.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s so good. This is bringing me back to my days at consulting at Bain and one of their best – the best lines in their recruiting materials – I think they’re still using it is “We laugh a lot,” which was true.

Then one of my favorite sort of events we had, they called it the Bain Band in which people would change the lyrics of popular songs to reflect sort of the dorky nuances of the consulting experience, so
Time After Time would be Slide After Slide. It wasn’t super hilarious, but it was your colleagues that you recognized up there being kind of silly on stage. You just sort of laugh a little bit like, “Oh yeah, that’s our life, slide after slide, ha, ha, ha.”

It had such a powerful bonding effect. I remember we would all rush to get with our favorite colleagues and have chairs next to each other. If someone was going to the bar for a drink, nobody wanted to leave their seats, “Oh get me one,” “Oh get me one,” “Oh get me one,” someone’s coming back with seven drinks in their hand somehow. Yeah.

Bruce Daisley
Isn’t it interesting though that so often and especially when times are difficult, so let’s imagine the last few years have been difficult for a lot of businesses, that one of the things that you know there from your own subjective experience backed up by the science that I’ve done is that laughter made you feel connected and made you probably in truth, want to work harder for the people around you.

But when times are hard, we find ourselves saying, “Now is not the time for laughter. Don’t let the bosses see you laughing in the office.” We often have this idea that somehow laughter is frivolous, somehow unnecessary. It’s a distraction from the job rather than it’s forging a link with us and the colleagues we work with that’s going to make us do our best work.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. That is good. Boy, just keep them coming Bruce. Laughter, any other big ones you want to share?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah. For me that was so fascinating because the idea of laughter. But I think probably the one that’s been most talked about in the last few years is the idea of psychological safety. This is the idea, I think I mentioned earlier that the willingness to speak up to the boss. I was really interested.

I met a member of the equivalent of the Navy SEALS, a member of the special forces in the United Kingdom. He told me about their tactic of reaching this. Psychologically safety is this immensely difficult thing to achieve.

When teams feel willingness to speak up to the boss, what you tend to find is it produces a fluidity of discourse. It ensures that you don’t end up in a situation where the whole of the company knows that something’s bad but the bosses are asking them to do it.

If you look back at some of the recent memorable corporate failures, Nokia was famous for it had a culture where people were instructed if they couldn’t be positive, don’t do anything. As a result of that, when they were faced with the iPhone arriving and people starting to question whether their smartphone was good enough, the people who had dissenting voices and maybe wanted to speak up were really clearly told don’t speak up. This is not the time – there’s no value in speaking up.

I think what we’ve learned is the businesses where they can encourage this psychological safety are incredibly powerful. This is when the conversation I had with a member of the elite military came in.

He told me a really simple thing, which was they have a daily debrief. They have a – at the end of every interaction when they’re out in the field, this is the combat field – maybe they’ve just been on a deployment in Afghanistan or in some sort of war-torn part of Iraq or wherever. He said at the end of every day they have a quick standup. They all gather around. He said it should take no more than 10 – 15 minutes. It’s while we’re still in our combat clothes.

He said the way it works is that he describes what happens that day and then he will say what he did wrong or what he felt he could have done better. Then he invites everyone else to discuss what happened that day. The very act of a leader saying, “Here’s what I did wrong,” and demonstrating that they aren’t infallible, that they have got vulnerabilities is an incredibly powerful access point to everyone else doing the same.

Psychological safety is this really elusive quality. You see businesses talk about it increasingly. But I loved his simple access point for that because so often we come out of big meetings and we come out of interactions with – we come of big meetings or client interaction or we come out of a review and firstly we often gather the feedback a week later or we’re send an email round everyone saying, “That went well. Any thoughts?”

Of course you lose specificity in that because you lose the sense of people know that that one answer that one person gave that wasn’t right, you lose specificity. But by taking time afterwards and the leader being the first to step forward and say, “Here’s what I did wrong,” seems to give a really powerful access point to people feeling that they can share the same.

Again, these aren’t – I don’t think these are – they’re not going to be revolutions that are going to be patented by someone. They’re not going to be – on their own, they won’t transform a business. But the thing that was fascinating for me was following the evidence of what other people have done as an access point to improving the jobs that we do.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s fantastic. Particularly when you think about military in which rank is just so clear and you think that you need to be strong and to be a tough leader who’s being entrusted with people’s lives. If they can do it, anyone can do it.

Bruce Daisley
Right. He told me a fascinating thing. He said to me the biggest mistake that anyone makes about the military is thinking that we give orders all day long. He said the decision making is often far more consensual than you think because if we found ourselves just giving instructions that were unwelcome, it would be a failure of leadership.

That was a real revelation to me. We’ve got this idea that soldiers are just given marching orders and told where to go. He said, “No, far from it.” They very much regard themselves as people who are studying and learning from the world of work and wanting to improve upon it. For me it was just a revelation to speak with someone who had that experience.

Pete Mockaitis
Fantastic. Tell me Bruce, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah, look, probably the one thing I will say is that the overwhelming debate right now in the world of work is the amount we work. There’s been certainly a contribution to this discussion this year by Elon Musk. I think he doesn’t make the best poster child for the 120-hour work week.

But Elon Musk has a couple of times this year said he works 120 hours a week and that he feels that nothing good can be accomplished at less than 80 – well, he said 40 hours is not enough to work and he feels that you need to work 80 hours a week to achieve anything.

I think the wonderful thing about that is that there’s no evidence for it at all. In fact, when you actually invite people to make evidence and to gather evidence on these things, you see that either we’re lying to ourselves, that we’re not working 80 hours, we’re – but we’re working 40 hours distributed across a week.

I was chatting to an investment banker today. She was telling me that she used to leave the office at 10 PM every night, maybe 11, sometimes 12. I said to her, “Wow, was it relentless all day?” She said, “No, no, no, no. It was the culture though that you didn’t leave till 10. There were times when we weren’t working especially hard.” She said, “There was a lot of time for downtime and laughter, but the culture was you didn’t work – you didn’t leave till 10 PM.”

Sometimes work is the lie we tell ourselves. We’re not being honest with ourselves. The wonderful thing is the more you look at the evidence – there was some fabulous evidence that I found – that really the most that the human brain can really work and what most of us work with our brains is around 55 hours a week. After that the marginal gains for each hour actually are negative. When we work 70 hours a week, we actually achieve significantly less than when we work 40 hours a week.

As soon as you identify that science, as soon as you realize that that’s the case, you start thinking, “Okay, well, maybe my objective should be to work 40 good hours a week to be energized, but to value my rest as much as my work.” For me that’s the path to enlightenment here.

If we can start thinking rather than doing 70 exhausted hours a week, let’s do 40 good hours a week and that’s a good week’s work. Or less. If people want to work less, then by all means. But I think the more that we can get balanced, it’s going to help us achieve greater creativity.

Pete Mockaitis
I’m right with you there. All right, so now could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah. This is a quotation that’s from – they often say, certainly in the UK, they often say that all quotes ultimately are attributed to Winston Churchill. If you say something, people will say, “Yeah, originally that was a Churchill quote.” This similarly, albeit that this is the mantra of the UK team, the cycling team. One of the most – I often don’t use sporting metaphors, but it’s one of the most accomplished transformations over the last 30 years, the medals that the UK cycling team has won.

But their mantra is this, their mantra is “Never stand when you can sit. Never sit when you can lie down.” What they mean by that is effectively, preserve your energy because energy is finite. Use your energy when you’re ready for your most important action. Don’t waste it. Don’t waste it on trivial moments.

For me, as soon as you think about that – there’s a similar quotation about our brains. It was in a book by a guy called Daniel Levitin a couple of years ago, about three years ago. I can almost remember this quote verbatim. He said, “Our brains are configured to make a certain number of decisions every day. Once we each that number, we’re unable to make any more irrespective of how important they are.” Right.

That’s a game changer for me because – the science behind that if anyone wants to look into it is called ego depletion. But as soon as you realize, okay, so me running around and working from seven in the  morning and doing all these things and reading all these papers and doing this then going to this meeting, then answering all these emails, it’s zero sum. You reach a stage in the day where you brain can no longer do any more.

As soon as you realize that then that cycling team mantra becomes really important. “Never stand when you can sit. Never sit when you can lie down.” If we’re going to achieve the most we can achieve in work, it’s not by working longer and harder, it’s by using that finite gunpowder we’re got in our brain for the most important uses of it.

Pete Mockaitis
Perfect. Thank you. How about a favorite book?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah, it changes for me all of the time. I loved – there’s a wonderful book by a professor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology called Sandy Pentland. He’s called Sandy Pentland. The book is called Social Physics.

He took some badges, sort of like the name badges we might wear around our necks to get into most offices and he turned them into sort of microcomputers. Then he used those badges to start tracking the interactions that happened in offices. I have to tell you, when I read this book, I was blown away by it because it starts telling you the truth about what goes on in offices. Honestly, I sat there like this is like magic.

What he found was emails contribute about 2% of the output to offices. Meetings account for about the same. Most important thing that contributes to what goes on in offices is face-to-face chat, is face-to-face discussion accounts for two-fifths of everything that’s achieved in an office.

Probably, Pete, you’ve witnessed that there’s less chat going on in offices these days. People are busier than ever before. They often put on headphones as a way to cope with an office, an open plan office. People are doing – they’re finding less time for chat. I think for me seeing evidence and he built up the biggest amount of data of face-to-face interactions in offices ever. He was able to track this. It became just – it was eye opening for me what we were able to learn from it.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. Thank you. How about a favorite tool, something that helps you be awesome at your job?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah. That’s a very good question. It’s certainly not – I love Twitter. I work at Twitter, obviously I love it. First and foremost, I used it. Probably the thing that I find has transformed the world of learning more than anything else though is my Audible app. I love Audible. I’m a keen runner. For me listening – sometimes I’m listening to a novel at the moment, which is such a wonderful palette cleanser, but listening to the latest book, for me it’s just a revelation.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite habit?

Bruce Daisley
I think probably the most important habit that any of us can have is to try and get as much sleep as possible and I try to get seven and a half hours of sleep a night. Normally with good success, but I’m not 100% sure that the sleep is always the highest quality, but that’s what I try to do.

Pete Mockaitis
Is there a key nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks and they retweet often?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah, the thing for me is that some of the things that I’ve mentioned here to some extent this day in modern work is that we all feel guilty about work. We go home with 40 emails in our inbox. We didn’t get back to that person. We didn’t do this.

For me, the biggest learning that I’ve had this year is that all of the science suggests that creativity is destroyed by stress. As creativity is going to increasingly be the most important asset in our toolbox for managing the world of work, then we need to recognize that stress kills creativity. Focusing on that all the time will help us achieve more in our jobs.

Pete Mockaitis
If folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah, they can – I always welcome people hitting me up on LinkedIn. I’m very willing for people to connect with me there. I’ve also got social media, so you can find me on Twitter at BruceDaisley or you can search for the podcast which is Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat.

Pete Mockaitis
Do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah, I would say – the best thing I would say is take another look at the way that you’re working. I found that quite often I felt that I was the exception. We all think we’re the exception. You hear that the most that humans can work is 55 hours and your first response is “Not me. I can work longer than that.” I found when confronted with all this data, I did exactly what everyone else did. I argued with it.

Then I found myself on a Monday night sitting at the kitchen table, emailing at half past nine. I thought to myself, “What have you actually emailed in the last hour?” I hadn’t emailed. I’d reread one email four times. I’d gone and got myself another cup of tea. I changed the music three times. I hadn’t done an hour of work. However, what I’d done is I’d deprived myself of an hour’s rest. I think be honest with yourself about work. Work is the lie we tell ourselves quite often.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s awesome. Bruce, thank you so much for sharing this good stuff. It’s a shame that us Yankees have to wait an extra year for your book, but thanks for teasing so much goodies here. I’m really excited to put them into practice.

Bruce Daisley
Pleasure to talk to you Pete. Thank you so much.

345: The Simple Solution to Disengagement with Dr. Bob Nelson

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Dr. Bob Nelson says: "Every employee's got a $50,000 idea if you can find a way to get it out."

Dr. Bob Nelson reveals the drivers behind disengagement–and what to do about them.

 

You’ll Learn:

  1. Just how critical recognition is
  2. Key reasons managers don’t give more encouragement
  3. Five ways to reward employees at low or no cost

About Bob

Dr. Bob Nelson is a leading advocate for employee recognition and engagement worldwide and the only person who has done a PhD dissertation related to the topic. He has consulted for 80 percent of the Fortune 500 as well as presented on six continents.  He has sold 5 million books, including 1001 Ways to Reward Employees of which 1001 Ways to ENGAGE Employees is his latest. Dr. Bob has been featured extensively in the national and international media including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CBS 60 Minutes, MSNBC, ABC, PBS and NPR about how best to motivate today’s employees.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Dr. Bob Nelson Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Dr. Bob, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Dr. Bob Nelson
Pete, thanks for having me.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m so excited to dig into this chat in many ways, maybe 1,001 ways or reasons why I’m excited. First, not to be too self-serving, but I’m so curious, you have quite a sentence in your bio: 80% of the Fortune 500 has been one of your consulting clients. Wow. What’s the secret behind this?

Dr. Bob Nelson
Yeah. Have good services, good outreach and keep at it. I’ve been doing this 25 years. Along the way people see what you’re up to and they say, “We need help with that,” or “We want your message to go to all our leaders,” or some version of that.

It’s a lot of fun. I really love it, to be able to help someone, a company that maybe can’t see the forest for the trees and they’re in the middle of it and they’re being hammered by different vendors and they’re not sure – they lose their focus and I can help them get their bearings and go through the sea of choices and end up with really what they’re after.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. That’s cool. Not to turn this into a marketing podcast, but tell me about the consistent outreach part.

Dr. Bob Nelson
Oh, I think anyone knows that you have to keep at it for – regardless of how successful your business or your book or whatever you’re doing. I’m constantly promoting. Every time you speak, you’re promoting. Every time you’re consulting, you’re promoting. If you lose sight of that, then you’re going to hit a dry spot.

You hear about people, they’ve got a big consulting project for AT&T for three years and then that runs out and they’ve got no business. You’ve got to be constantly putting out lines. I believe that.

Another thing I believe that as a small business owner, I’ve got kind of a cottage industry in employee motivation and engagement, but within that there’s different strategies that you have to – you can’t just do one thing. You’ve got to be doing different things. I’m not sure – any given year I’ll do five or six major strategies. I’m not sure which ones will hit better, but two or three of them will and it will be – it will keep me busy and provide adequate funding.

I’m a believer in you’ve got to be promoting and you’ve got to be trying different things. You’ve got to be innovating because the market changes, tools change, technology changes. Now we have a whole new generation coming up, so they may not know the things that could help that – from people before them, from research that’s come before them. There’s a lot of – it doesn’t stay static. That’s makes it go a little bit exciting.

Pete Mockaitis
That is exciting. What I appreciate about that, and thanks for going there, is for our listeners who are not small business owners or marketing professionals, I was kind of inspired by what you said there in terms of you try five or six things a year, two or three of them hit. In other words, the minority or less than 50% by a slight margin. That’s just sort of encouraging in terms of trying stuff. Even super rock stars might miss more often than they hit.

Dr. Bob Nelson
Yeah. You talk to anyone that’s had success and there’s a certain element of luck in there, but as Mark Twain said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

I think that for any artist, for a record producer, a song producer, a book producer, you take your bestselling product – or for any company, if any – I was just talking with Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40. They’ve got a fantastic product. It’s a 500 million dollar company. They’re in 300 countries.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s all of them just about. That is more than is represented in the UN I believe. Impressive.

Dr. Bob Nelson
Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re right on that, but there’s – that was a – but they’re all over the globe. They – talking to them, they’re not resting on their laurels. They constantly, “What are we going to do new this year? What are we going to do-“ They’re using their tax refund to do more on social media.

It’s just you’re constantly refocusing. You’re constantly trying to maximize because we all have limited time, limited resources, limited marketing budgets, so what’s the best position. Because no matter what you do, you’ve got to be doing a little bit of experimenting all the time to test the waters for the next idea.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh cool. Thank you. Now I want to dig in a little bit. Your company is Nelson Motivation. You’ve got a book called 1,001 Ways to Engage Employees.

Dr. Bob Nelson
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
That is a lot of ways.

Dr. Bob Nelson
It is.

Pete Mockaitis
What’s kind of the main idea behind the book?

Dr. Bob Nelson
The main idea of 1,001 Ways to Engage Employees is the fact that we’re in a time where we need people engaged more than ever before, yet it’s at an all-time low. Since the field has come around in the last 20 years, essentially started by Gallup and their longitudinal research came up with what was called the Q12, 12, a dozen key variables that differentiate high performing companies from their average competitors.

Wow, great idea. They’re excellent at measuring engagement. This is the state of the field now that we have a good bead on it. We don’t have enough of it. We need more of it. It’s currently costing our country, our economy 420 billion dollars a year. Wow, bring it on. Although they’re good at measuring, they’re not so good at impacting it, at creating greater engagement.

I kind of looked at that and said, well, I don’t know much, but I know if 20 years into it we have the same number of engaged employees as 20 years ago, the same number of disengaged and actively disengaged employees, give or take one percent, then whatever we’re trying to do isn’t doing it.

I’m trying to bring a practical hands-on approach saying stop measuring and start doing it. Start focusing on the behaviors that gets you the results. This book is about-

Pete Mockaitis
…. Sorry, go ahead.

Dr. Bob Nelson
This book is about doing that. I took the research-based top ten variables, factors, if you will, that most impact employee engagement and systematically with each one of them I show the reader what it looks like through examples and practices currently being done by successful companies.

It’s just a book of practical positive wisdom that can help move the needle for your organization, whether you manage one person, a group, or have responsibility for the whole organization, you can start heading in the right direction where you can get better and better to have a more highly engaged workforce.

Pete Mockaitis
I’d love to dig into first the data piece for a moment. I – we talked about engagement a few times on the show. I’ve received more than 100 pitches from PR folk pointing to the crisis of low engagement.

Dr. Bob Nelson
There you go.

Pete Mockaitis
And how so-and-so would be a great person to talk to. You made it in though. You passed the gauntlet. But what you point out, which is kind of interesting from a historical context perspective, is you say, “Hold up now. Gallup’s been tracking this thing for 20 years and it’s been just about the same for all 20 years.”

Dr. Bob Nelson
Correct.

Pete Mockaitis
So this is not a new crisis that we are thinking about. It’s just sort of like the state of work for two decades.

Dr. Bob Nelson
Yeah. Well, it’s a little bit the emperor’s not wearing clothes. It’s sort of like, if you want to measure it again this year and compare it to last year and look at each other and say, “Well, it really hasn’t changed that much,” and flip the page and look at the next variable, then do it for the next ten years.

But if you really want to change what’s going on in your organization, where you start to impact the behaviors of your leaders that impact how employees feel about working there, you’ll start getting different results, a different buzz, a different excitement that will be contagious.

Let’s go down that path and do that. Do that for a year or two and then measure. You won’t need to measure. You’re be able to feel the difference of what’s happening.

My book is intent on trying to make that connection. Less talk, less measurement, more here’s what is working now for people trying to make it happen. Here’s the results they got. You can probably do this one too. Give it a try. Not every idea in the book is going to work for you, but if that one doesn’t, flip the page, here’s another one.

The book just came out and I just saw someone yesterday, a head of HR for a large high-tech Fortune 500 company. She just got the book. It was like five days ago. I saw her copy. It had dozens of Post-Its, and tabs, and paper clipped, and folded ears. I’m going, “Yes.”

Pete Mockaitis
There you go.

Dr. Bob Nelson
Yes. She’s in it. That’s – I write books that are meant to be used.

You can – I have managers that say, “Hey, I took your book I passed it around to my workgroup. I had people initial ideas they like in the margin. It doesn’t mean I have to do any of them, but if I want to do something to thank them, to engage them, to tap into their ideas – wow, here’s something that they checked themselves. I can make the connection a little bit easier.”

Pete Mockaitis
Oh yeah, that is handy. Kind of outsource a little bit of that decision making. Get that flowing.

Dr. Bob Nelson
Well, the best management is what you do with people, not what you do to them. I’m trying to share the techniques that you can be doing, not as a force people, not to surprise or trick them to working harder, but to say, “Hey, how would it feel around here if we – who feels we need to have more recognition?” If everyone says, “Oh no, we’re fine,” then forget about it, but I haven’t seen that happen yet.

Actually, if you’ve got any credibility with them, someone’s going to raise their hand and say, “Well, boss, I’ve just had it up to here with you telling me how good I am.” That’s not going to happen.

You’re going to find out about, “You’re quick to find mistakes. You’re kind of, truth be known, a little bit of a micromanager. You actually – through your behaviors you show that you don’t trust us. That’s why you get us very defensive trying to minimize our commitment, so we’re not the person that you find fault with.”

We’re spending more time KYA and protecting ourselves and emails to show that wasn’t our decision and stuff like that instead of tapping into improving processes and serving the clients and ideas for saving money.

It’s all around us. Which way – where do you want people focused? Well, if you want to lead the charge, you’ve got to start getting in front of them and catching them doing things right that are in line with the goals of your group, and the organization. That will naturally bring out more of that behavior.

The greatest management principle in the world is you get what you reward, what you thank someone for, what you inspect, what you acknowledge, what you incentivize-

Pete Mockaitis
Measure.

Dr. Bob Nelson
Which is the best way of telling them on the front end what you’ll do for them on the back end if you get the results you wanted. You do any form of that, you’re going to get more of that behavior. Not just from that person, but from other people that saw you do it or heard about it.

As you systematically send the message, “This is the type of thing that gets noticed around here. This is the type of thing that we’re talking about. The excitement about how Tony achieved the goals that we were after or the core value so important our company’s success.”

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. That’s a great lay of the land there. I’m curious in your example there, you sort of spoke from the vantage point of sort of an individual employee sort of sharing with manager, “Hey, here’s actually what’s up and what’s going awry.”

I’d love to get your take to speak to that person first. If we’re talking about an individual contributor, who’s feeling disengaged at work right now, what do you think that one individual should do when they find themselves surrounded by a vibe that is not so engaging?

Dr. Bob Nelson
Yes. Well, that’s a great question. It’s very on point because the forward for my book is done by Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, who’s the – considered the number one coach in the world. What he wrote about was who owns engagement.

It was fantastic because the way we have it – and again, going back to Gallup, if you ask people, “Are you getting enough recognition? Do you – are we giving you the skills you need? Do you have adequate authority? Are we doing the right things?” It’s very, very easy to say, “Mm, yeah, not really. Why don’t you work on that?”

You do some things. You come back. “Eh, it’s a little better, but work on it more. I’d like more money too.” They’re off the hook. Engagement needs to be owned by every employee.

If you’re not getting the recognition you feel you deserve, bring that up to your boss. Have a discussion in your group. Bring an idea for how we can start sharing praises to start our staff meeting.

I worked with ESPN and they had a manager that said, “Whenever we start a staff meeting we always start the same way. We start with listing, as a group, five things that are going well. Usually it’s pretty easy, but sometimes it’s not. We’re kind of struggling on some stuff. We still don’t skip that step until we name five things as a group because that’s our touchstone. That’s our homeroom that allows us to take on the next challenge.”

Or I worked last fall with NASA Johnson Space Systems in Houston, which is ranked the number one best place to work in federal government, by the way. Didn’t surprise me in the least because you could feel it walking into the place. You could see it on the walls, how people talked to each other. You could feel a culture that’s positive and people are engaged.

One of the things that they do that I loved is that whenever they have a manger meeting, here’s 20 managers and they always save, as is their custom, 10 minutes at the end of the meeting to go around the room and ask everyone to share something they’ve done to recognize someone on their team since we last have been together. Wow, ten minutes. They said you could just feel the energy and pride of the group rise.

They said they noticed something else that their leaders will take notes on each other’s ideas. “That’s a great one, Tony. I’m going to try that.” They’re constantly becoming better and better. They’re becoming – they’re a self-learning organization on the concepts that made them great to begin with. I love it. I love it.

There’s so many organizations that are kind of stuck in the mud and the problem is somewhere else’s and not theirs and everyone is pointing fingers at each other. It’s more of a blame game. You’ve got to get out of that – you’ve got to get out of that hole and start looking at the power of positive consequences and how to systematically bring them to bear in whatever you’re trying to achieve.

I’m talking a lot about what actually turns out to be, from the research, the number one variable that most impacts engaged employees: recognition. 56% of what causes engagement comes from people feeling valued, praised, thanked from their manager, from those they work with, from upper management, privately, publically, in writing, in emails, whatever.

It’s a constant. It’s a constant. It’s not something once at the end of the year at the Christmas party. It’s not, “Hey, I’ll praise you when I start seeing something worthy of it. Just assume that you’re doing a good job unless you do otherwise because I’m going to be all over you when you make a mistake.” That’s the natural tendency by management.

In fact, I worked with Ken Blanchard, who wrote The One-Minute Manager, for ten years. He used to say the leading style of management in America is – he called it ‘leave alone, zap.” We leave people. We don’t give them great direction or tools or support, but we let them have it when they make a mistake. We zap them and then we keep going back. We hardly ever use the tools that most drive, most pull the performance and those are the positive consequences, which are all around us every day.

I like opening people’s eyes to that. In my original 1,001 Ways book, 1,001 Ways to Reward Employees, I just had this epiphany that said this is the most proven principle of management. It’s easy to do the best forms of it. They have no cost.

I actually did my doctoral dissertation on a simple question: why don’t managers do this? I did a three-year study to try to … common sense notion, but common sense isn’t often common practice. As Voltaire said in the 17th century, so is the case today that the things that sound like common sense –

A lot of times I’ll talk to a group and I’ll say “The things I’m going to share with you, I know you can do. I’m not here to see – I already know that. That’s a given. I’m here to say, ‘Will you do them? How will you hold yourself accountable as an individual, as a member of the team, as an organization to this standard?’”

Now I worked with Disney organization for 15 years. To work there, they had a standard for leadership. They didn’t care how you were managed where you came from, what you bring with you in your own suitcase. “Yeah, yeah, that’s nice. Here’s how we manage here. If you want to be a manger, you’ve got to do these things.” Then they hire for it. They train for it. Then they evaluate leaders for it.

If someone doesn’t do it, they’ll call them out and say, “Hey, maybe you thought we were kidding about this or we’re just going through the motions, but we’re serious. You need to do these things. You need to be a visionary. You need to be supportive. You need to be a cheerleader. You need to be a career developer. Your job as a leader is to help other people be successful.”

Peter Drucker, my professor, defined the role of management as getting the work done through others, not doing – being a super worker and doing it yourself, not running yourself ragged, not chewing people out until they do it right, but getting the work done through them, which means helping them, which means showing them, which means encouraging them, counseling them, whatever it takes.

If we’re really stuck and we’re up against it, I’m going to take off my jacket and roll up my sleeves and dig in with you. We’re in this together. It’s wherever people are at, showing them what it looks like to get in the game.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s awesome. There’s so much I want to dig into there.

Dr. Bob Nelson
I know, you can ask me one question, I’ll talk for an hour.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Let’s-

Dr. Bob Nelson
I’ll try to keep it short.

Pete Mockaitis
I want to talk about – so recognition is the biggie.

Dr. Bob Nelson
Yes. ….

Pete Mockaitis
You spent three years studying why don’t managers do it. I want to hit that on from two angles. One, in fact why don’t managers do it? And two, again, if you are that individual contributor and you’re not getting it, how can you have that conversation? What’s sort of like the best practice or script or means of asking for it well so you don’t seem like, “Oh my gosh, what a whiney, needy, whatever person,” so to avoid that kind of reaction.

Dr. Bob Nelson
Okay. Well the 20-second survey on my three-year study is why managers don’t do it. Number one, they weren’t sure how to do it well. Number two they really didn’t believe it was that important as the research indicates. Number three, they didn’t feel they had time. Who has time to do things they don’t believe are important to begin with?

They didn’t feel anyone did it for them, so when they start getting it, they’ll start giving it. They’re afraid of leaving people out. They didn’t feel the organization supported it. The list kind of goes on, a whole list of really excuses where, “It’s not my job; it’s HR’s job or the CEO’s job or corporate’s, any of them but me.” That’s – there’s a lot of people, that can’t. No.

For those leaders that use recognition, there’s just one thing going on and that is to a person, the common denominator, they internalize the importance of doing recognition. They felt that as a leader of a group that they’re in charge of the motivational environment for the people that work for them, not the CEO, not HR, not corporate, but them. It’s their baby. They believe that they have to impact that.

Their beliefs they started – our behaviors follow our beliefs. Their beliefs are not “This is a waste of time. I’ve got better things to do.” They go, “This is the most important thing I need to do.” To be a leader, you are a person that is inspiring others. Everything else is mechanical. Anyone can do that. Not everyone could be a leader.

They believe that to the point where it impacted their behavior. They actively looked for opportunities to recognize people when they did a good job. Not just be nice, but contingent. When they did a good job, displayed the proper behavior, the core values, got the results, finished the project, whatever it is.

They’re constantly in their day scanning for that, when they’re reading, when they’re talking to people, when they’re in meetings, when they’re in the hallway.

Then when they hear or see something about a good job that was done, they act on that thought. They don’t make a mental note, “Oh Jerry did it again. He’s one of my best people.” They actually say something to Jerry or bring it up at the meeting or jot him a note or an email. They do something to connect back with the person that did the performance.

There you go. That’s the long and short of it. They try to do that every day. Not every person every day, but every day someone. That becomes part of their behavior – they’re behavioral repertoire, I like to say, of how they manage. They’re constantly on the lookout and acting to make the connection.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, cool. I like that notion that hey, every day there’s going to be some act of recognition. Your other book 1,501 Ways to Reward Employees, you’ve got many in mind. Can you share what have you found to be some of the most powerful and simple means of doing that, such as maybe the biggest bang for your buck recognition practices?

Dr. Bob Nelson
Sure, yes. Well, let me tell you and you’re going to love this because the most powerful forms of recognition and engagement for that matter, tend to be the things that have little or no cost.

When someone says, “We don’t have the money to motivate people here,” they’re assuming we’ve got to pay them more, we’ve got to throw a big party. Last year it was a buffet, so this year it’s got to be sit-down. They’re chasing this dream. Whatever they’re doing, they’re spending more and more money. Years of service awards. They’ll start doing stuff around people’s birthdays.

It’s like, no, that’s not where it’s at at all. Where it’s at is behavior. You’ve got to show people that they’re important to you through your actions and the things you say and do.

Number one on the list is a simple thank you, a simple praise. Be a leader that is quick to catch someone doing something right and to call them out for it in a positive way, one-on-one in front of others even when they’re not around, knowing that word will get back to them, etcetera.

Jot a note, send an email, text them on their cell phone, do a company announcement, call their mother and tell them what a great job their kid’s doing and thanks for bringing them up right. I know managers that have done that.

Let me tell you, there’s a lot of stuff like that “Oh, that sounds silly.” It’s not silly to the mother that got that call. The next conversation she had with her son or daughter, it wasn’t silly to him either. It made their month. It’s like, wow, what a cool thing to do. It’s not hard to tap into it. That whole recognition is a starting point.

Of course you can spend money. If you’re doing something, you can do something more. You can – a simple gift. I work with a company called Snappy Gifts that has just wonderful, unique products all under 20 bucks. You can’t get one and not be delighted by it because it’s just fun and it’s a celebration. On up to point programs and gift cards. A lot of companies do trips for top salespeople. That type of stuff.

There’s no lack of places where you can spend the money, but again, there isn’t – I haven’t found the correlation between the amount of money that is spent and the amount of motivation and engagement that’s going on.

My advice is to start the foundation be the behaviors that are most critical and then you can layer on other stuff as someone really goes above and beyond. That’s number one.

The other things that are truly engaging, again, all no cost, ask people for their ideas and opinions. If they’ve got a good one, give them permission to pursue it. It’s called autonomy. Give them the resources to make it. See if you can help them do it. See if anyone else wants to help them do it.

Having two-way communication is a big one, talked about in the book extensively. If you’re making a decision, involve the people that work for you in that decision, especially those that are going to be impacted by it.

Again, feels like common sense, but a lot of managers, “Oh, I’m the person in charge. I’m the decision maker here.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. Even say that, “You’ve got to make the final decision. That’s your responsibility. But you know what would be a better decision, if you get impact from your team. That’s why you wanted to ask”

In that simple action of doing it, you’re showing trust and respect. You’re being open. Wow, that’s the type of person everyone wants to work for, that is walking the talk of treating them as a partner on the team, not as a replaceable body.

If someone makes a mistake, already said the natural tendency is for people to jump all over them, embarrass them in front of their peers, prove that you’re the smartest person in the room. Bravo, bravo. They’re getting their resume ready because they can’t take it anymore.

But try this instead. The next time someone makes a mistake, take a breath, take a step back and say, “I don’t think I would have done the same thing, but what did you learn from that? That could be the best training we had for you all year. I’m glad you made that mistake.” Wow.

That manager through his actions is saying there’s something more important going on than something that happened in the last ten minutes or the last day. We have a long-term relationship. You’re important to me. I’m important to you and I hope that’s going to be true for years to come. I’m not going to dump all over you here because you did something wrong. I make mistakes too. Everyone does.

In fact, if you’re not making enough mistakes, you’re not pushing the fold enough. You’re not – it’s a little bit too safe. You’ve got to stretch. You’ve got to try things new. You’ve got to experiment. You’ve got to do something you’ve never done before.

Sometimes that idea can come from the newest person on the team, the person that isn’t biased by all the policies we have and how we’ve been doing it for years and “I’m just wondering, why don’t we try this?” Well, you take that person, new person, any person and you say, “Well, Sally, let me tell you why we don’t do that. We tried it two years ago. It didn’t work. It won’t work now.” “Oh, okay, I’m sorry. Sorry for – it won’t happen again.”

Pete Mockaitis
Don’t you worry. I won’t speak after sharing the ideas.

Dr. Bob Nelson
Right. We’re done. Now she’s going to check her brains at the door. How about saying, “Well Sally, that’s an interesting idea. Why don’t you check into that and see what you come up with?” What did that cost you?

Now because who’s got more energy for an idea than the person who came up with it to begin with. Now Sally may come at it differently than the last person that tried it two years ago. She might do an internet search. She might check with a dozen friends at other companies, “How do you guys handle this?” Who knows what she’s going to do? But she might come back and from her energy and her research do something that does work.

I was working with Johnsonville Food, the maker of great brats up in Wisconsin. They’re CEO, Ralph Stayer, told me that he had his admin once say, “Mr. Stayer” this was back a few years ago. She said, “We have such a great products. I’ve always wondered why we don’t market those more online.”

He said, his inclination to say, “Well, Betty, that’s why upper management is paid the big money. We make those decisions,” but he didn’t say that. He caught himself and said, “Betty, check into that. See what you come up with.”

Fast-forward 18 months later, now Betty, formerly an admin, is now running a new division on online sales, one and a half million dollar product line and growing much larger since then because she had the wherewithal and the support to make it happen.

Every company has that possibility. Every employee, I go so far as to say, every employee’s got a 50,000 dollar idea if you can find a way to get it out. It’s not by shutting them down. It’s not by saying, “Well, that’s not – that’s only a 10 dollar idea. We’re looking for the 50,000 dollar idea.”

Well to get that one or the five million dollar idea, you’ve got to develop a process, which means you’ve got to look for any ideas and acknowledge people for submitting those even if it’s not one we’re going to do or can do. But “I like the way you think. I’m looking for more from you.” Game on because they’re going to come up with them.

Let’s help them. Let’s help everyone on this. Someone in accounting, do a bag lunch next Tuesday, talk about cost-benefit analysis. Whoever wants to learn more about sizing up their ideas, come to the cafeteria. We’re doing a brown bag lunch. Give them the support and tools along the way.

I worked at a company in Connecticut, Boardroom Inc. They have five of the six largest newsletters in the country. They do these large books, hardcover books. They do a thing called ‘I power,’ where they ask every employee, every employee, to turn in two ideas every week.

Well, I talked to …. “Could you do that with your employees, your team, your …?” “Well, of course you can.” “How about next week? Can you do it again?” “Yeah, maybe.” “How about the week after that?” Well, how many ideas can someone have?

This company’s been doing this for 17 years. They ask every employee to turn in two new ideas every week about how can we be better, how can we improve process, how we can save money, how we can delight the customer, how we can get new business. It’s all around us every day. Allow people to grab on and run with it. That’s just one example.

I was there. They got a recent idea they got from the one guy, a shipping clerk, hourly paid employee, one of his two ideas one week was that he said, “Next time, this book we got, this big book that we ship, next time we get it printed by the printer, if we can trim the page size,” he calculated a 16th of an inch, “you’ll fall under the next postal rate. I think we’ll save some money in shipping.”

The CEO said well they looked at. He’s right. They cut up a book and he’s right. They made that one simple change, in the first year alone they saved a half million dollars in shipping costs because of that idea. Their chairman-

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. The 13 ounce threshold, I know it well. It makes a world of difference.

Dr. Bob Nelson
There you go. There you go. The CEO, Marty Edelston, he told me, he said, “Bob, I’ve worked in direct mail for 27 years. I didn’t even know there was a fourth-class postal rate.” But to the kid that’s looking at the chart day in and day out, he knew it. If we could tap into what he sees and what ideas he has, that’s the power.

Doing that simple thing. These are simple concepts, but doing it well. They had a couple false starts and they kept at it. They were able to increase their revenues fivefold in three years just by tapping into the power of ideas from their own employees. There you go.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s awesome. Thank you. Tell me, Bob, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Dr. Bob Nelson
Lay it on me.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. How about a favorite quote?

Dr. Bob Nelson
Favorite quote. One of my favorite – I’ve got a lot of favorite quotes. One of them is from Bill Hewlett, cofounder of Hewlett Packer, he said “Men and women want to do a good job, a creative job and if they provided the right environment, they will do so.”

I love that quote because just in one sentence it says where we’ve come from, where we are, where we’re headed today. For the longest time managing in our country was basically telling people what to do. My way or the highway. I’m the person in charge. You take orders; I give them. We don’t need any creative thinking here. We don’t need your – that doesn’t work today.

Today we need everyone in the game because things are changing, environments are changing, competition is changing. Your competitors now might be from Thailand or from a different state. You’ve got to be on the game, which means everyone on it. That’s a keeper.

I want to go back to the other question. I think you’ve asked me twice and I haven’t answered. That is what can an individual employee do if these things – if they’re in a place where these things aren’t happening. My advice on that is to bring it up to your immediate manager and to make the case for it. Even if it’s like recognition that might sound like “I want my own horn tooted.”

I’ve had people tell me that they’ve talked to their boss said, “We’re doing a lot. I love working here. I love working for you. I’d be able to do it better and do more for you if you could tell me when I especially did something well because then I’ll know what to do more of and then – yeah, I could do that boss,” and start doing that. Sure enough, her performance rose accordingly.

It’s – tell them we’re in it together. You can be the employee that shares this with your boss or with the team. Say “I heard this interview, I read this book. It sounded like something that could resonate with us. Could we try some of these things?”

That’s how you get in the game and have the – all work – that same … in Ralph Stayer. He had a quote. He said basically all we’ve got is conversations. Let’s start to impact those conversations. Let’s start having different conversations and not ones where we’re complaining and griping about management and politicking.

Let’s talk about things that are working, and things that we’re excited to be a part of, and what’s in store for us for the future, and how much fun we’re going to have getting there. That all becomes very contagious.

If you’re working in a place where it’s very cynical and it’s negative and everyone’s kind of dragging into work and waiting for Friday and fortunately the commute isn’t too bad, you can shake it up. Anyone can shake it up. I’ve worked with companies that one person, not the CEO, grabbing hold, was able to change a culture.

True story. I was speaking in Seattle to 800 people. Five weeks later I was back and I look at the crowd I go – this woman in the first row I go, “You look really familiar.” She goes, “Yeah, yeah. I heard you speak five weeks ago. I wanted to come back and tell you what happened.” I was like, “Well, what happened?” She goes, “Well-“ she described what she did and it was fun because I said, “Well, what did you-“

She said, “I started using the stuff you talked about. I started doing more recognition with my group.” Oh, she said, “I left with seven pages of notes and one intention. I said I’m not going back and asking permission. I’m going back and doing this.” That’s what she did. She did it in her workgroup.

I go, “Well, like what? What did you do?” She said, “Well, we’re in downtown Seattle. We did a picnic up on the roof. That was kind of fun to celebrate something. We did a barter for meeting space for the company on the next block that had a limo company that didn’t have any meeting space. We let them use our meeting space and they gave us free limo rides that we give people for different things.”

Just on and on and on. Just went for it. As a result, she said a noticeable difference in her group: energized, fun, excited, to the point where other managers are saying, “Hey, what are you doing over there. You people are-“ “Well, hey, come to the next meeting. We’re not trying to hide anything. We’re making stuff happen.”

Literally, this one leader made it happen first in her group and then in her facility and then the company tapped into it. She helped to make it happen across the country to all their facilities. 18 months later, from the first time she heard me speak, they entered the list of best places to work in America, number 23, Perkins Coie, a law firm. It was really through the efforts of one person.

People say, “Well you can change a culture. It takes eight years. It’s got to start at the top,” and this and that. Well, it can do that, but you can also have – one person can change a culture, one determined, focused person.

I have examples – I use examples in my books where that’s done from the bottom, from the middle, from – there’s a lot of ways to get there. That’s kind of the fun of it too. You can create your own journey to being excellent.

Pete Mockaitis
Awesome. Thank you. How about a favorite book?

Dr. Bob Nelson
I’ve been very influenced by, well, some people I’ve mentioned. Marshall Goldsmith wrote What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There. Brilliant book. Ken Blanchard, The One-Minute Manager. Peter Drucker, Concept of the Corporation. He’s – and on and on.

Pete Mockaitis
Got you. If folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Dr. Bob Nelson
I’ve got a website. That’s probably a good place to start. www.DrBobNelson.com. Go figure, right? That’s DrBobNelson.com.

You can find out – I’ve got a lot of resources and articles posted for free. I’ve got all my books there at discounted prices. I’ve got information about all of my presentations, consulting, etcetera, etcetera, and my contact information, so you can call me, you can send me an email. I try to help everyone that comes my way, if it’s just answering a question or if it’s doing something further.

Pete Mockaitis
Awesome. Thank you. Do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Dr. Bob Nelson
Yeah, I would say, again, as an employee if you want to be awesome, start – do some things different. Start asking your boss what you can do to help them. I probably have managed 30 – 35 employees in my career. I only remember one doing that. It was a breath of fresh air to say –

And something else she was good at too because I would come in and I would be all excited about stuff I’d need to have done and “Katie, can you do this?” She would listen and she goes, “Bob, I’d be delighted to do that. Let me show you what I’m working on now. You let me know which you prefer to have me do.” Then she would – I kind of, “Hm, okay.” Then she’d show me. Every time I’d say, “Oh, keep doing what you’re doing. This can wait until tomorrow or next week,” because she was on it.

That was – basically I’m making the point that whoever your manager is, they’re trainable. You can be the person that trains them. If it’s not working for you, start trying to do something different, starting with talking to that person and give them some input for how they can help you be more effective. More times than not, I think you’ll see a positive response to that.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s awesome. Well, Dr. Bob, thank you so much for taking this time and sharing the goods.

Dr. Bob Nelson
It goes so quick, doesn’t it?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. I hope that there’s lot of engagement and rewarding going on for you and your employees and clients and everybody.

Dr. Bob Nelson
Yeah, well anytime you want me back, I’d be glad to continue the conversation in all its different forms.

309: Preventing Burnout in Yourself and Your Whole Organization with PwC’s Karlo Siriban and Anne Donovan

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Karlo Siriban and Anne Donovan say: "If you don't ask for what... you need, then you're going to end up leaving at the wrong time."

PwC employees Karlo Siriban and Anne Donovan share their story of preventing burnout within themselves and transforming a whole work environment to prevent it for others.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Key signs that burnout is looming near
  2. How to talk to your boss about your burnout
  3. How PwC rolled out a broad flexibility initiative and saw retention soar

About Karlo & Anne

Karlo Siriban transforms businesses. He understand companies’ missions and develop strategies to achieve and frameworks to execute their visions successfully. He is a strategic, creative thinker, not afraid to challenge the status quo to achieve more effective and efficient results.

Anne Donovan is the U.S. People Innovation Leader at PwC. She’s responsible for strategy and innovation around culture change. She has a strong background in operational effectiveness and in engaging and supporting the firm and its people in leading positive change, including a variety of initiatives related to the work environment, workforce demographics and business model change.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Karlo Siriban & Anne Donovan Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Karlo and Anne, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to Be Awesome At Your Job podcast.

Karlo Siriban
Thanks for having us.

Anne Donovan
Happy to be here.

Pete Mockaitis
I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with this one. A little different and but different good. First Karlo, I want to hear where are we with the Hamilton audition process? What’s the tale here?

Karlo Siriban
Do you want the whole background of it?

Pete Mockaitis
I’d like to hear – you’re into music. How did you say, “You know what? This is a thing I’m going to go for?”

Karlo Siriban
Yeah, I’ve always been into performance, particularly in stage musicals and singing. I used to do it all throughout my schooling, from elementary school all the way through college. Then when I started work it all just stopped. Work was my number one goal and wanting to do well was what I wanted to do. I found myself just wanting to – naturally wanting to go back into performing.

Hamilton, this was I think two and a half – three years ago, Hamilton was just becoming big in New York and they were having open casting calls. Unfortunately, I travel for work Monday through Thursday, Monday through Friday every week, so I couldn’t go to the open calls. My fiancé, my now fiancé, luckily saw some fine print at the bottom that said if you can’t make it please send in a video audition.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Karlo Siriban
I was very hesitant to. I didn’t want to, but she pushed me to do it. My video was sitting out there for a couple of months. After about three – four months I got a call that they wanted me to attend some callback auditions. About 12 auditions later I was at the final callbacks for Hamilton.

Pete Mockaitis
12.

Karlo Siriban
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh man. Well, they’ve got to do something to justify that high ticket price.

Karlo Siriban
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. The excellence that goes into it. 12, wow. What happened after the 12?

Karlo Siriban
After the 12 unfortunately my journey ended there. I’m still in contact with some of the casting agents there.

But for the past year I’ve really been focusing on my career and getting a promotion. That was my goal this year, which fortunately I’ve gotten.

Karlo Siriban
Now that I’ve achieved that I’m going to be going back into auditioning for shows, not just Hamilton but Off Broadway and Broadway shows. Luckily I’m based in New York, so makes it a little easier.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. That’s cool. Talk about career. Can you orient us a little bit to PWC and your role within it?

Karlo Siriban
Yup. PWC, big four public accounting firm. We structure ourselves within three lines of service. Assurance, which offers your basic accounting services. You have tax and you have advisory which covers consulting. I work in our advisory line of service. I’m an advisory consultant and I focus on large-scale business transformation.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool. All right. Well, I worked in strategy consulting at Bain. You say you travel a lot. You’re on the client site and you’re meeting with executives and such and plenty of slides I imagine.

Karlo Siriban
Oh absolutely. My life is on PowerPoint.

Anne Donovan
You know it well.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, so I see the picture there. I want to hear the story of you notice you were starting to feel kind of burnt out. Can you share with us what was going on and what were sort of the indicators like, “Uh oh, something needs to change here?”

Karlo Siriban
Yeah. This was about three years ago. Just the general travelling every week it started to take a toll on me. Waking up on Monday mornings to go catch a plane wasn’t as enticing anymore. I was having trouble focusing at work. Then even outside of work in my personal life, I found myself not as willing to go try new things, willing to go out with friends and family.

I realized something was wrong. I didn’t know what it was. I think most people when you hit that point, you sort of think, “Oh, what are the stressful things in my life.” For me that was work. I realized here’s my burnout. Something I don’t think a lot of people realize is yeah, there may be things stressing you out, but sometimes adding things to your life can help alleviate that burnout.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Karlo Siriban
For a lot of people, and I think this is said very often, is “Oh, go, wake up in the morning and go exercise.” That can really help you gain more energy and more happiness throughout the day. I tried that for a little bit, wasn’t working.

I realize what makes me happy. What is it? It was music. I turned back to music. It started with joining an a cappella group and just practicing and playing music in my house, finding time to play music in my apartment and at some pubs around New York City.

Slowly that just added up to the Hamilton audition and getting involved in more and bigger things. But I found myself having added that to my life, it was giving me more energy within work and it was helping me focus. It was just keeping me happy and keeping me satisfied, keeping my whole self-satisfied.

Pete Mockaitis
That is an awesome insight because when you’re in that mode, that zone of burnout, overwhelm, there’s too much, the thought of taking on an additional thing is like, “Are you crazy? I’m just trying to keep it together right now? I can’t imagine adding something.” You’re saying, “Oh, no, no. Adding something, in fact, is an improvement as opposed to more overwhelm.”

Karlo Siriban
Mm-hm, absolutely. I think it’s because when you add something that you’re passionate about, you’ll naturally find time to make it happen. That means saying no to things and managing your time a little more effectively just by the nature of wanting to do something you’re passionate about.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. I want to hear about the part in which you shared this with some folks at PWC, like I imagine that could be a little nerve-wracking in terms of saying, “Hey, I’m feeling burnt out.” You’re just like, “Oh, they’re going to think I’m weak,” or you’re not up to the high standards of performance or not an achiever, high potential.

What was going on inside your head and how did you have that conversation?

Karlo Siriban
I think that’s a very natural thought to have. You described it perfectly. Just going – the way PWC is structured, it’s a partnership structure. The partner is the be all, end all to your group and feels like your career sometimes.

I was saying to myself, “I need to make this – I need to have protected time for myself to be able to do this, to be able to pursue this.” Because traveling every week and working 40 to 60 however many hours a week, it becomes a lot.

My partner, very high performing, very focused on results. My career up until that point, I had also been focused on that. I had been very aligned with the firm first and work first and wanting to be a high performer. I thought that my idea of making time for myself wouldn’t gel with what I thought was the firm’s idea of what an employee should be.

I had spent time talking to a coach during one of our leadership conferences, talking to a coach about how I structure this and how I can present this. A week afterwards after some intense structuring sessions and messaging sessions, I went up to my partner and talked to him about it expecting the worse. It ended up being extremely easy.

He was extremely supportive of what it is I wanted to do and the passion I had. I think what helped that conversation was the fact that he knew I was devoted and dedicated to work and still performing at a high level. He also knew how passionate I was about music, and about singing, and about performing. He saw that as a way for me to sort of flex my creative muscle and flex my professional muscle.

I think the coaching that he received and the coaching that I received, it’s just a – there’s this culture of everybody’s a person. Our number one piece of capital or our number one investment at the firm is people. If you don’t keep your people happy, if you don’t keep your people trained, if you don’t keep your people whole, then what good is having them in a firm like this at PWC?

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. I’m intrigued. This coach, that was provided by PWC?

Karlo Siriban
Yes, my coach was provided by PWC. There is a – when you make senior associate, so this is about three – four years into your career, you’re sent to a leadership conference to sort of develop – it’s called Discover.

It’s to develop yourself, to discover within you what drives you, what motivates you, why are you here and what best parts about you can you bring back to your professional life and to your personal life to improve everything.

In that session, it’s about a week long, they assign everyone a career coach to help talk to you about those topics. Your career coach is – most of them I believe are non-PWCers if not all of them are non-PWCers. Anne, you can keep me honest on that one.

Anne Donovan
Yup.

Karlo Siriban
Yeah, they have a very objective point of view in how you can develop yourself, which I think is refreshing.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s great.

Karlo Siriban
That the firm would do that.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely. I’ve done some coaching and I would love to be participating in that. That sounds really cool. Were there some follow-ups then or it all happened within the context of that one event?

Karlo Siriban
That one event is where it – where that idea blossomed. Towards the end of that week I had a formal discussion with my coach. Probably four weeks afterwards there were follow-up sessions, where we just spoke to each other over the phone, over Facebook, over text to help me build up the courage to actually have that conversation.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. You said you worked a lot on the structuring and messaging. Were there any choice words, phrases, sentences that you thought, “Oh yeah, that’s perfect. I’ve got to make sure to say that,” and you thought that they landed outstandingly when you had that conversation with the partner?

Karlo Siriban
Yeah, actually in forming my thoughts and my message, initially I had completely neglected to address the fact that I still wanted to be at the firm and I still wanted to be a high performer. Initially it was all about I need to go into music and I need to spend my time making music.

He helped me form it in such a way that I do want to make music but it doesn’t mean I want to leave this behind. It doesn’t mean that I – that you should expect less from me. In fact, you should expect the same from me and this will help me focus and help me deliver for you and for the firm.

Pete Mockaitis
That is a nice turn of a phrase. You should not expect less from me. In a way that’s kind of inspiring on multiple levels in terms of 1) you’re making a commitment and so you want to rise up and live up to it and 2) it’s like oh good, this doesn’t mean – “Karlo’s great, but hey, I guess not everyone can be the hardcore rock star, all-star, so I guess I’ll have to put him in the sort of maintenance mode as opposed to gunning for it mode.”

That’s really cool. You had the conversation, went super well. Any kind of pro tips when it comes to if others are feeling the burnout kind of beginning to settle in, how should they go about doing some reflection or engaging in that conversation?

Karlo Siriban
Yeah, I think everyone should take some time to slow down first. When people are approaching burnout mode it’s often when they’re very stressed. When you’re stressed you get into this panic mode and you need things to happen fast and you want things to happen fast. When that happens, you have a tendency to take missteps or to make decisions irrationally.

I think when that happens it’s important to take some time to breathe and to, like you said, reflect on everything about your life, not just work, but home and your friends and your community, and your spirituality, reflect on all of that and understand where your life stands on all of those places. Once you have that view, then try to build a plan about how you try to improve it. It’s all – just take that breath.

Pete Mockaitis
That is good, yes. When it comes to the fear, I guess bosses come in all shapes and sizes and varying levels of receptiveness to such a conversation, so any thoughts in terms of – that was a great sentence in terms of “don’t expect less from me” but any other thoughts to address the fear like, “I can’t tell my boss that?”

Karlo Siriban
That’s a tough question because you’re right every boss is different. I think if you build an open, honest – if you’re lucky enough to be able to build an open, honest relationship with your boss, that conversation will always be easier in real life than it is in your head.

If you have a challenging boss or if you have a challenging work environment, regardless I think it’s important to be open and honest with yourself first and to assess how your view of what will make you happy in the future fits in with your career.

Pete Mockaitis
Mm-hm.

Anne Donovan
Pete, can I add something here?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh yeah.

Anne Donovan
I just can’t help myself. What I always advise our staff is if they don’t step up to ask for what they want, the end result is they’re going to quit the firm. They’ll go along and keep doing what they’re being asked to do and do it really, really well, and get into burnout mode. Then the end result is they quit the firm. Then the firm ends up being the loser.

I actually believe in most cases the staff ends up being the loser too because they end up quitting the firm at the wrong time. Because I do believe that most people end up quitting the firm. We don’t have a partnership that has thousands, and thousands, and thousands of partners. Ultimately we know people will end up leaving the firm.

But you want to leave the firm, and I tell staff this including my family, who are staff, you want to leave the firm at the right time, when it’s the right time and you have the right job. If you leave the firm at the wrong time, you’re the loser.

If you don’t ask for what you want and get the work environment that you need, then you’re going to end up leaving at the wrong time. There is absolutely no harm in asking for what you want, no harm at all. You might get a no, but probably you’re not going to. But if you don’t ask, the answer is always going to be no.

Pete Mockaitis
Right.

Karlo Siriban
Yeah.

Anne Donovan
I just – I say this every single time I sit in front of anyone who will listen to me. You must ask the question. You must ask for what you want because probably what you’re asking for is absolutely not unreasonable. You’ve got to ask for it. You’ve got to create the work environment that you need to make your life happy. It will more than likely be accommodated.

Karlo Siriban
Yeah, that’s extremely true, what you said. The worst that happens is they say no. What happens there is now your want and your passion is out there and people are thinking about it and people have talked about it rather than you’re in the status quo and nothing changes.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly and you have some more clarity for your own decision making. It’s like, “Okay, well-“

Anne Donovan
Absolutely. Now you know.

Pete Mockaitis
“I need this and I can’t get it, so maybe I should-“

Anne Donovan
That’s right.

Pete Mockaitis
“-put a little more effort towards …”

Anne Donovan
That’s exactly right. But at least you know as opposed to making up in your head what the answer is going to be.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s great.

Anne Donovan
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, Karlo, can you give us the lay of the land now in terms of your burnout-ness in terms of – the Hamilton audition has come and gone but there will be new opportunities? How‘s your day-to-day in terms of energy and stress and motivation?

Karlo Siriban
It’s – I’ve become much better at identifying when I’m getting close to burnout. I’m happy to say in the past two years I haven’t approached burnout at all.

Also, just having put out wanting to perform out there, I’ve been more involved in internal PWC initiatives for performance. For example, this summer PWC has what they call a Promotion Day, where everybody who’s getting promoted gets promoted at the same time.

In New York they throw a large event and I’m leading a band, a band of about 12 of us. We’re playing a 45-minute set for all of our colleagues in New York.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s fun. That’s really cool. Could you unpack a little bit of what are some of the early wanting signs? Before full burnout is upon you, what are the little indicators like, “Uh oh, getting kind of closer?” What is that for you internally?

Karlo Siriban
For me it’s if I find myself waking up later and later.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, that’s very specific. Thank you.

Karlo Siriban
Yeah, very specific.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool. Any other indicators?

Karlo Siriban
It’s waking up later. I find myself being unable to focus at work. Just little things. If I have a quick – usually I’m pretty good about if I have a five-minute task that’s something that I can complete right away. I take that time out of my day. If I find myself those tasks are taking longer, I push them off further and further, then I find myself I need to reassess what’s happening in my life and refocus.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. Cool. Awesome success story. So glad to hear it that you came to the brink and came back and you’re wiser for having done so and have a more fun work and life situation going on there.

Anne, could you maybe broaden the scope of the conversation a little bit, so beyond Karlo’s story. You’ve got a full blown flexibility initiative. What’s the story with that at PWC?

Anne Donovan
Yeah, we are in year six of that initiative. I will tell you that seven years ago we could not spell the word flexibility at PWC. We did some work, did lots of focus groups, kind of travelled around.

Actually we did a lot of work studying our Millennial population and did some actually pretty scientific work, taking a look at what our Millennials wanted verse our Gen-Xers and got some pretty good data around the kind of top three things our Millennials wanted.

We’re pretty – got some pretty solid information that although they certainly wanted to be paid well and wanted stuff that the rest of us wanted, flexibility was in the top three things that Millennial wanted out of the workplace.

Pete Mockaitis
What are the other two things and how did that compare to the other generations?

Anne Donovan
Yup. Top three things Millennials want out of the workplace based on our study: flexibility, appreciation and support from their supervisors, and teamwork. They wanted to work on teams that they felt worked well together. It was really about the work environment for Millennials.

For Gen-X it was about having control over their work, working on good stuff, so really good kind of developmental stuff, and pay. For Gen-X it was about the real kind of traditional stuff that we had set up the work environment around, the traditional work environment which was like, “We’re going to pay you well and you’ve got a lot of autonomy. We’re going to give you good stuff.”

Then Millennials come into the workforce and they’re like, “Well, we want to feel good and we want you to appreciate us. We want flexibility.” Those two things had a – there was a big gap between those two things.

Pete Mockaitis
Understood.

Anne Donovan
We had this data and said, “Whoa, we’ve got to change the work environment.” Because we had autonomy, we had good pay. We still have good pay, but we had this setup that was appealing to the prior generation and we had this entire set of workers who said that we want to feel good. We changed the entire – we shifted the entire environment.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. What are some of the prongs or components of the flexibility initiative?

Anne Donovan
Well we started our work. We started at the top. Got our partners all understanding the business case for it, all understanding that if we wanted to keep this entire new generation of worker, we had to really completely turn the environment on its head.

It all was based on trust, first set of rules was you didn’t have to earn flexibility. You walked in the door earning flexibility. Everyone is trusted with the work that they’re set out to do. You don’t have to have face time to earn your stripes.

We’ve got all the technology in the world. You can do it sort of whenever, wherever, however. I say however, we have all of our standards, etcetera, but what I mean is you don’t have to sit next to the guy to get your work down.

Now, that doesn’t mean that every single day we’ve got people working all over and wherever they want. But it means that in general if you’ve got to go leave tomorrow at 3 o’clock and our people work hard, but if you’ve got to go leave at 3 o’clock and you’re going to come back online at 7 o’clock to make your life work.

By the way, making your life work doesn’t mean you have to have a doctor’s appointment. It means I’m going to go play softball. We were very careful about that, Pete, because we don’t – it doesn’t have to be an emergency.

It doesn’t also have to be childcare. It doesn’t have to stuff that’s another job, that’s another thing to do. It can be because I want to do this thing that’s fun. I want to go audition. We were very careful to make sure that people understood that. It’s because you want to have life. We were very explicit about that.

We just started talking about it. We started making the leaders and the partners and the managers understand that that was how it was going to be from here on out. It really did take us three – four – five years to get the culture sort of inculcated with these messages, but we’ve done it.

I will tell you, flexibility is on every single person’s lips in the firm. You do not have to ask for it. You do not have to apply for it. You don’t have to plan for it. It’s just there.

I work from home. I don’t – I don’t hide it. My dog barks in the background. I don’t care. It’s where I am. I get on video. I’ve got bed hair. It doesn’t matter. It’s just the way it is. I’m so, so proud of it. It’s just fantastic because it’s who we are. We trust each other. We don’t have to slap on a uniform to get the job done.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s really cool. I’m curious to hear during that kind of transition time, were there some key kind of rocky moments or rocky obstacles or leaders who weren’t on board or abusers of flexibility? How did that emerge?

Anne Donovan
Actually we had less abusers than we had leaders who weren’t on board. We definitely had guys and gals who took a long time to come around. But that’s just – that’s the way life is. Change is hard.

It just took – it really took our leaders at the top, our senior partner was all about it and he pushed us hard to – he made every day a flex day. We actually changed our time reporting system that you didn’t have to report time every day. He pushed us hard to really change processes and procedures and to just push the firm to make things happen.

Eventually – I suppose there’s some pockets out there where we’ve still got holdouts, but they’re pretty few and far between. I will tell you, we have not had a – we have not had abusers.

I now speak too in front of groups frequently and I speak to clients who are interested in what we’ve done. We get asked about what policies we put in place and what are the written rules. I’ll tell you, we were lucky. We did not put policies in place. We did not put written rules in place. Like I said, you don’t have to apply for anything. It’s all based on trust.

Now, we are lucky, Pete, we don’t – these are all salaried employees, so we don’t have a lot of wage and hour laws and things like that. We don’t have union workers because we’re a salaried group of people. We didn’t have a lot of those kinds of things to worry about in our work environment.

But we really – we didn’t deal with a lot of rules. We left people up to their own devices and we let groups of people out there on client engagements make their own rules and make it work for themselves and just hit their own deadlines. It magically worked very, very well.

Karlo, I will ask you to hold me accountable if that was not true on the ground, in the field.

Karlo Siriban
No, I think definitely the adoption took a while. You are absolutely spot on. But yeah, at this point, you’re right. It is on everybody’s lips. It’s on everybody’s mind. It holds true.

Pete Mockaitis
I want to hear a little bit more about – so previously there was a policy or rule to report time every day. What’s the new situation with regard to time reporting?

Anne Donovan
The new situation is you report your time in a week. As long as – if you’re a 40-hour worker, and most of us obviously report way more than 40 hours, you just have to cover your 40 hours some time over the week.

If you happen to cover those 40 hours in a two-day timeframe, the other three days don’t have to show the 40 hours. In other words, you can flex your time however it flexes for you. It used to be that you had to show how you covered those hours in five-days’ time so that you had to account for where you were. Now it just doesn’t matter. It’s just flexibility.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s great.

Anne Donovan
I know. It’s really cool.

Pete Mockaitis
You said many are reporting more than 40 hours.

Anne Donovan
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
What’s kind of the – I know, hey accounting, right? Folks can get fixated on numbers.

Anne Donovan
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
Is there a sense – maybe either of you can tackle this one in terms of a number of hours that is good or too few versus too many or is it just kind of like, “Hey, it’s different every week and we’re all good with that?”

Anne Donovan
It is different every week. In general I would say most of our employees work more than 40 hours a week. It’s just how we run.

But if you’ve got weeks that aren’t as busy, certainly we want you to work 40 hours. That’s – we want people to take advantage of times that aren’t as busy knowing that if you’re working on a deal and you’re an advisory or if it’s busy season and you’re in auditor or tax, insurance or tax, you’re certainly going to work more that. It’s kind of an up and down business.

Pete Mockaitis
Sure. For the non-intense weeks are you still shooting for a 40 hour minimum?

Anne Donovan
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Or it’s kind of like, “Hey, last week was 70, so this week 20 is cool?”

Anne Donovan
No, I think we in general shoot for the 40.

Pete Mockaitis
Got you. I’m with you there. I’m curious to hear any other kind of pro tips or best practices if you say your clients are starting to ask, “Hey, how’d you pull this off?” in terms of having success with this kind of a shift or intervention.

Anne Donovan
Well, I just think that I have not met a group of workers and I’ve not met a client group that was not interested in this topic.

I think and I say this to these groups, if you can figure out a way to bring this to your organization, it’s really important. It is free to offer your employees. Again, if you can bring this into your workplace and you’ve got the kind of workforce that makes it easy. Again, not dealing with hourly employees or employees that clock in, I recommend it because it is free to offer and it means a lot.

Giving your employees the freedom to have some kind of flexibility in their work day, it really – it hits home. It’s a home run. Again, it doesn’t cost money to do it.

I will tell you, we took flexibility to the next level when we introduced flexibility of dress. We have what we call dress for your day now at PWC. That includes jeans. We just got rid of that whole concept of sort of the uniform. In all of our PWC offices we’re a jeans firm now.

We’ve always been a you’ve got to dress like your client. When we’re out at a – we-wear-suits clients, then we have to wear suits. But when we’re in our offices, we wear jeans too. That was a big home run with our staff as well.

Because, again, whatever kind of breath of fresh air you can bring to your staff, why not do it? Again, a freebie. We can bring it and make our staff happy, so we did it. We’ve kind of brought that in under the flexibility umbrella as well.

Just trying to – life is kind of hard enough, work is kind of hard enough, anything you can bring in that just breathes some air into the place, that’s what we’re trying to do.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely. Can you share a little bit from all of these efforts, are you seeing – what’s the lift looking like in terms of before/after attrition or retention rates?

Anne Donovan
We’ve got really – we’ve had some really good impact on our retention. That’s one of our – both our retention and our engagement scores on our annual survey. For us retention is a big deal. Turnover is very costly in a firm like ours. We’ve had a big hit on our retention rate. We’re seeing actual very nice dollars flow straight to our bottom line, which makes me very happy.

Pete Mockaitis
Excellent. Could you give us a rough sense of what kind of proportion lift you’re talking about here?

Anne Donovan
Yeah, well. Yes. The sort of conventional wisdom is then when someone walks out the door it costs the firm about 100,000 dollars. Every head that stays around is a savings to us and that’s all – that includes all kinds of things: training costs, replacement costs.

When you can keep someone around it saves a lot of money. We have 50,000 people, so when you think about even saving 1% of your people, that’s – on 50,000 people that’s a lot of money.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh certainly. Roughly what extra percentage of your people are you saving as a result of all this?

Anne Donovan
Well, we’ve certainly seen a good – probably – my boss probably wouldn’t want me quoting our retention rates, but I will tell you that we’ve seen some really good savings on retention rates. I better leave it at that.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, then. Well, any final thoughts before we shift gears to hear about some of your favorite things?

Anne Donovan
No, again, I just – I think we’re afraid – we’re afraid of change. We as leaders think that these kinds of changes are going to wreak havoc because we’re going to see abuse in the system.

I guess my advice to leaders is that I think you’ll see less abuse then you think you’re going to see. I would take the leap on something like flexibility because I think you’ll see much more benefit than you’ll see abuse. I guess that’s my big piece of advice.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh cool. Thank you. Well, now Anne or Karlo, whoever’s feeling it in the moment. Let’s hear about some of your favorite things. Is there a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Anne Donovan
Karlo, I’ll let you go first.

Karlo Siriban
The quote I always say is, it’s a Rolling Stone quote, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”

Pete Mockaitis
Awesome.

Anne Donovan
Oh, I love that, Karlo. It’s so much hipper than anything I was going to come up with.

Mine’s not a quote. I just try every single day to remember what I’m grateful for because I think we can get caught up in how hard life is.

I really – before my feet hit the ground in the morning, I don’t let myself get out of bed before I remember the things for which I am very, very grateful. However small those things might be, that might be my wonderful soft pillow, but I have a lot to be grateful for and I just really, really try to live in that gratitude.

Pete Mockaitis
Awesome. How about a favorite study or experiment or a bit of research?

Anne Donovan
Oh my gosh, mine is the Millennial study. I’m happy that is a public report. I’m happy, Pete, to make that available if anyone wants to take a look at it.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, yes, please. We’d love to link to that.

Pete Mockaitis
Fair enough, fair enough. How about a favorite book?

Anne Donovan
Mine is Maya Angelou, Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Karlo Siriban
Mine is How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston.

Pete Mockaitis
I met him at a book signing and I have a signed copy of How to Be Black on my shelf.

Karlo Siriban
Really?

Pete Mockaitis
I did, yes.

Karlo Siriban:
Oh you lucky duck.

Pete Mockaitis
He’s good friends with my buddy, Mawi, who was episode number one. Small world. He’s a funny guy. He deliberately said the opposite of what I asked him to say in the inscription. I said something like, “Can you say that I’m tough or a baller.” I don’t remember what I asked for, but he said, “You are so not a baller.”

Anne Donovan
I love it.

Pete Mockaitis
I guess I have to get rid of this book now. Very good.

Anne Donovan
I love it.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite tool, something that helps you be awesome at your job?

Anne Donovan
My phone. I can’t live without it. My phone, which I look at every day for everything.

Karlo Siriban
Mine is my new ergonomic mouse.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, tell us all about it. What is it? Where can I buy it?

Karlo Siriban
I got it off of Amazon. Without plugging too hard, it’s an Anchor mouse. It turns your wrist so it’s like you’re shaking a hand.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, right. Yes.

Karlo Siriban
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Very cool.

Karlo Siriban
My arms feel so much better now.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s a good move. Yeah. Let’s link that too.

Tell us, is there a particular nugget that you find yourself saying often that really connects and resonates with people?

Anne Donovan
Breathe. Just breathe everybody.

Karlo Siriban
Yeah.

Anne Donovan
Oh I actually – no, I shouldn’t say this on the air. I have three staff and they are all women. They all happen to be women. I have two grown kids. I have 21-year-old twins.

Every time my kids irritate me I always type to these gals in text #don’thavekids. These three women all have young babies at home so that’s our team motto #don’thavekids. We always laugh at each other #don’thavekids. That’s our motto – team motto to all of us who have a bunch of kids.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s too late I have a five-month-old.

Anne Donovan
Oh my gosh, Pete, I’m going to put you on our Twitter – on our tweet #don’thavekids there you go.

Pete Mockaitis
I’m honored. Thank you.

Karlo Siriban
I have one from my grandfather. He always says “ayos lang” which is Tagalog. It’s the Filipino language. It just means it’s going to be okay.

Anne Donovan
Lovely.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool. Thank you.

Anne Donovan
Lovely.

Pete Mockaitis
Karlo, Anne if folks want to get in touch or learn more, where would you point them?

Karlo Siriban
Anne, I leave that to you.

Anne Donovan
Well, follow me on Twitter because I’m always tweeting about staff that we’re finding interesting. I’m going to send the study, Pete, so I’d like you to take a look at that.

I just think keep plugging away on the flexibility stuff. I guess that’s it. I think you’ve got to keep trying and ask for what you want people. Ask for what you want in your workplace because you have to be happy at work.

Pete Mockaitis
Karlo, any final thoughts in terms of a challenge or call to action?

Karlo Siriban
I challenge everyone to be more mindful of everything outside of work and outside of the things that stress you. You’re a whole person; treat yourself like a whole person.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Well, Karlo, Anne, this has been a whole lot of fun. Kudos for the good work that’s producing good results for people and profits. Keep it up.

Karlo Siriban
Thank you.

Anne Donovan
Yay, thank you for the opportunity.

Karlo Siriban
Had a great time.