Danny Gutknecht Show Notes Page
Danny Gutknecht’s daughter came home crying. She did not want Danny to be disappointed in her because she brought home grades she was not happy with. That’s when Danny said those were her grades and her journey. Just like employees at work, she needed to find her own meaning.
Danny was born and raised in Hastings and Lincoln Nebraska and then moved to Yuma, Arizona with his younger brother Michael.
Ever since Danny can remember he had two competing energies in his life. He knew he was an entrepreneur, even though he didn’t know what that term meant at the time. He also had a deep curiosity to know what makes people great. Not just famous or someone who seemed to be a default icon – but people who seemed to stand out and do something valuable – because they had tapped something unique within themselves and contributed something unique to society. This led to what he thought was hobby while he built and helped build companies.
Danny had no idea that business would become a living lab at massive scale to explore the most prevalent relationships in our lives – between ourselves, the work we do and the companies we build. He also didn’t know it would also lead to a deeper understanding of the stage-by-stage individuation of both companies and people beyond basic programs.
It took about 10 years for Danny to begin figuring out what he was doing and another 20 to develop models and processes that aid people and companies on their journey to tap their essence. Over the last 15 years more and more people kept saying, “you have to write a book.” He would always tell people he thought there was too much information “out there,” Finally, one of his good friends Bijoy Goswami, who he had been collaborating with on most of the models and processes explained in the book said, “Danny, you have to write a book and I am not taking no for an answer.”
Danny is the author of Meaning at Work: And Its Hidden Language and currently lives in Peoria, Arizona with his Melissa as an empty nester.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“There’s a lot of identity issues that we have wrapped up with work.” -Danny Gutknecht Click to Tweet
“For the first 21 years of our lives we’re programmed.” -Danny Gutknecht Click to Tweet
“Taking responsibility for someone else’s motivation is a common mistake leaders make.” -Danny Gutknecht Click to Tweet
“The employment journey today is very parental.” -Danny Gutknecht Click to Tweet
“Values are contextual as the environment around you changes.” -Danny Gutknecht Click to Tweet
“When you ignore your inner voice, it will come out in other forms of energy.” -Danny Gutknecht Click to Tweet
“Our words change with our mood and our moods change with our words.” -Danny Gutknecht Click to Tweet
“The organization itself is a being on its own journey.” -Danny Gutknecht Click to Tweet
“I’m responsible for my own meaning journey.” -Danny Gutknecht Click to Tweet
“With every experience we have we’re learning something new.” -Danny Gutknecht Click to Tweet
“The organization has to keep evolving their meaning.” -Danny Gutknecht Click to Tweet
“When you do things that are out of tune with yourself, you struggle.” -Danny Gutknecht Click to Tweet
“Steward your own meaning.” -Danny Gutknecht Click to Tweet
“You can’t do the work, they have to.” -Danny Gutknecht Click to Tweet
“Constantly reflect and evaluate your thought processes.” -Danny Gutknecht Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Danny Gutknecht’s daughter came home crying. She did not want Danny to be disappointed in her because she brought home grades she was not happy with. That’s when Danny said those were her grades and her journey. Just like employees at work, she needed to find her own meaning.
Advice for others
Improve your meaning competency. When you do you will live a much richer and deeper existence.
Holding him back from being an even better leader
Stewarding my meaning.
Best Leadership Advice
You can’t do the work, they have to.
Secret to Success
Constantly reflecting and evaluating my thought processes.
Best tools that helps in Business or Life
The Human Fugue
Contacting Danny Gutknecht
Resources and Show Mentions
54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.
Show Transcript:Click to access edited transcript
148: Danny Gutknecht: Don’t do things to make me proud
Intro: Welcome to the fast leader podcast where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.
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Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader legion, today I’m excited I get the chance to talk to somebody who is going to actually broaden my horizons in a couple different areas and I know he will do the same for you. Danny Gutknecht was born and raised in Hastings and Lincoln Nebraska and then moved to Yuma, Arizona with his younger brother Michael. Ever since Danny can remember he had two competing energies in his life he knew he was an entrepreneur even though he didn’t know what that term meant at the time. He also had a deep curiosity to know what makes people great not just famous or someone who seemed to be a default icon but those people who seemed to stand out and do something valuable because they had tapped something unique within themselves and contributed something unique to society this led to what he thought was hobby while he built and helped build companies. Danny had no idea that business would become a living lab at massive scale to explore the most prevalent relationships in our lives between ourselves, the work we do and the companies we build.
Danny Gutknecht: He also didn’t know that it would lead to deeper understanding and of the stage-by-stage individuation of both companies and people beyond basic programs. It took about 10 years for Danny to begin figuring out what he was going to do in another 20 to develop models and processes that aid people and companies on their journey to tap their essence. Over the past 15 years more and more people kept saying, “You have to write a book.” He would always tell people he thought there was too much information out there. Finally, one of his good friends Bijoy Goswami, who had been collaborating with Danny with most of the models and processes explained in the book he said, “Danny, you have to write a book and I’m not taking no for an answer.”
Jim Rembach: Danny currently lives in Peoria, Arizona with his wife Melissa as an empty nester. Danny Gutknecht are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Danny Gutknecht: Absolutely Jim.
Jim Rembach: Danny, I’m glad you’re here. I’ve given our legion a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better.
Danny Gutknecht: Well, my current passion is certainly the intersection between work and meaning. We spend 57% of our lives at work and meaning is really the way that we parse our existence it’s how we understand the world and ourselves in it and so there’s a lot of identity issues that we have wrapped up with work and a big struggle right now today with people that are disconnected a little bit from work.
Jim Rembach: I had the opportunity to look through your book, Meaning at Work and It’s Hidden Language and there was one model that that stood out to me that as I started looking at it and thinking about a particular commencement speech that I had watched on the internet it got me to thinking about something. You talked about the evolution of societal foundations and right now you’re talking about this self-actualization which is kind of like the current stage we’re in but this guy was talking about, at this commencement speech, how maybe we’re actually putting too much pressure on ourselves. We’re trying to find this meaning, we’re not finding this meaning we’re not finding the purpose maybe we just need to stop worrying about it so much and just get on with the work and then you’ll find your passion. What are your thoughts on that?
Danny Gutknecht: Well, one of the issues that we have with just feeling good about our lives or finding meaning in our life is that for the first 21 years of our lives were programmed. We’re programmed by parents, society, and culture. All of the answers that we have and the ways that we learn to understand what our existence is and how we should act in it is given to us by some external source, some external authority. The issues that people run into the struggle that they have internally with that it comes from the fact that it doesn’t resonate with who we are all the time and so there’s certain facets of our journey that were in conflict with.
Jim Rembach: I’ve interviewed even doctors, the whole family was doctors, and the doctor was particularly unhappy when I got down into it I found out that he had this dream of being a cellist all of his life and he would fly off on weekends from being a doctor to Boston to try out for the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. And so you get that to where this is somebody that did what they were supposed to do, they were supposed to grow up as a doctor it was prestigious to society there’s nothing wrong with that. On the other hand his hidden passion the thing that he really wanted to do was play in the orchestra.
Danny Gutknecht: That’s really interesting. As you’re talking I started thinking about someone who has 14-year old a 12 year old and a nine year old and I just got back from a parent-teacher conference from my twelve-year-old and I’m like, “He’s not going to mount to anything at the moment.”
Jim Rembach: You know what’s fascinating about that? You think about it this way. So, you’ve got three kids you put all three of those kids in the same environment they all migrate they all kind of move in and asphyxiate on different things and that journey of fixating on those things are something that they resonate with and they develop skills around that resonance. And so in the development of the child in addition to education helping them progress their mental models, their ability to understand complexity and the ability to reflect and really build themselves comes this—where is your passion? And can you help them find that and can you help them maybe even go through some of the phases of the things they don’t like to do because that helps you get to where your ultimately going anyway.
Danny Gutknecht: That’s a good point but it goes back to—for me I’m like, “Okay” because I’m even thinking about this from my younger years. And of course as parents we don’t want our kids to follow the same path that we’ve had when we know that there’s humps in it we try to help them avoid them. The fact is sometimes they have to get over them themselves but e in themselves but I’m sinner and said, “Okay, you don’t like to push yourself physically, you don’t like to push yourself mentally, I’m like, “Okay, how can I even help you find a particular passion and I would dare to say that that’s kind of what happens today when people get into the workplace they’re in the same position like you said, it’s 21 30 35. I keep telling my daughter you’re not allowed to do things until you’re 30 because then maybe you’ll have it figured out. How do we help people?
Jim Rembach: Well, that’s a really good question. One of the things that I had unconscious knack for for a long time. I was trying to do it so I don’t mean unconscious in that way but I was unaware of all the levers that I would work with and pull with individuals. I was always able to build business environments where people performed at a high level and really enjoyed it. Part of that process was the fact that I never, as a leader, wanted to take responsibility for somebody else’s motivation it’s a common mistake that leaders and parents make. That’s the employment journey today it’s a very parental type of journey and a little bit of a parochial journey if you think about it this way. One of the issues that we have is that we are trying to, in society, get people to do things this control of our meaning. I want you to understand my world and I want you to get on my cause and be there with me and so I want to be able to control that.
You’re seeing this breakdown in all of society today, you’re seeing it in the NFL, prayer in schools all of that people are basically showing up and saying, hey, wait a minute my value system is my value system a lot of times there’s nothing that I can do about that. It’s comes preinstalled it’s part of what I resonate with from a young child. And then you’ve got company saying, well I pay you, you should believe what I believe. Well, no that’s not the case and that’s actually improper motivation you’re demotivating your workforce. So people take this job they lie about their employment they say, oh I match those values on the wall, right? Well not even the company can match those values on the wall. Values are contextual as the environment around you changes you have to change and you value different things. And so when you have a different context in your life as a company or as an individual you have different values that you interact with and so that intrinsic motivation is really important. There’s a guy named DC that wrote a book why we are the way we are and he really got in to that like even when giving people a raise. If you give them a raise and expect them to do more because of that raise it ruins the raise. But if you just give them a raise with the intent of saying, hey they deserve it it’s part of our growth they’ll continue to be intrinsically motivated, real fascinating stuff.
Danny Gutknecht: As you were talking I started thinking about Susan Fowler’s book, Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work and What Does, she’s been a guest on the show and it’s exactly what you’re talking about it’s that, first of all I have to identify and understand my own motivators make sure I don’t project those or try to place those into or on to other people and really help them try to identify what their motivators are and really tap into those so that they can reach and achieve the goals and oftentimes expectations that they never get ahead of themselves. I know when we’re talking about a lot of this there’s a whole lot of emotion wrapped up in it and one of the things that we look at on the show are quotes to help us focus and give us that extra sense of energy and desire and drive. Is there a quote or two that you can share?
Jim Rembach: I love the quote by Carl Jung that says that, “What you resist will persist.” It’s about repression it’s about ignoring your inner voice. And so when you ignore that inner voice and you don’t address it positive or negative it will come out in other forms of energy. You mentioned raising kids earlier he also has a quote about, “The gift that the parent gives you their kid good or bad is their unlived life.” So if as a parent you’re going out and there’s certain issues that you’re repressing within yourself your child is likely to repeat those either by completely rejecting them and doing the opposite thing or emulating them and doing the exact same thing over and over again. And so I always viewed my job as a parent or as a leader in an organization as I have to number one Stuart Danny I have to focus on Danny’s meaning journey, how I’m addressing things in my life.
Danny Gutknecht: As you were talking I started thinking about a lot of things. One of the things that you had talked about in the book is, let me make sure I get this right, the organizational dynamic lingua franca, and I’m not going to try to spell it, and when you started talking about your quote and you started talking about the motivation I think this comes into play, tell us what that is exactly?
Jim Rembach: I just read some research this morning about how our words and our moods change our words change with our mood and our moods change with our words and that’s one of the biggest things that change our social network. So you think about a business and so the organizational dynamic lingua franca I uncovered just by taking this, I took four years, I took Carl Jung and Maslow and I took all of these concepts and models about the human psyche and I started to implement them in interviewing people. And as a recruiter in a recruiting organization, I had all of my recruiters do it and we would circle around the table every day and talk about what we uncovered. So, instead of just going skills for dollars we went into what does it mean to be a computer programmer for you, why did you get your CS degree? Why did you go get a PhD? What did you want to accomplish? And what we were doing at the time as we were covering people’s work journey their meaning journey at work.
Danny Gutknecht: Well, when the recession hit I took a camera and I went inside of the organizations that I was working for and I started to interview people in there. And what I realized is that people even organizations who had different locations Seattle, Germany, North Carolina and as disparate as they were they had themes of why they were connected to the organization in a meaningful way. And that led me down the road to understanding that the organization itself is a being on its own journey, it’s a really hard concept for people to get but once they get it you see this liberation of the workforce, you have to unplug that projection journey. I look at it as like a marriage, if two people get married and then one goes in and says, “Hey, you make my dinner and get me my drinks and the other one says, “Hey, I’m going to supply your money and your security” what happens is that that turns into a relationship of projection. Instead of saying, “Hey, I have my own journey that I’m on my own journey that I’m exploring and it’s meaningful to me and so do you and we should remain empathetic to each other and understand that when we do that we will find shared meaning which I call themes it’s the reoccurring meaning patterns and the way that I uncovered those was through the people’s mantra. I called it a mantra because it was like, what are the things that we’re telling ourselves over and over again that’s writing that program, that we believe in that we’re reinforcing this particular belief? And so the organizational dynamic lingua franca is the set of themes that make up organizational meaning. And when you realize that that organization is a being on its own journey now employees can show up with the proper responsibilities of themselves and say, hey I’m responsible for my own meaning journey the company doesn’t control it but I choose to come here as an employment proposition and share it with the company. And they show up with intrinsic motivation as opposed to extrinsic and they steward the organization as much as they steward themselves. So that’s the power of that that construct it’s really the architecture of a culture.
Jim Rembach: Well I also started thinking about how—and you mentioned it a while ago, how you talked about how the organization may even have a difficult time you know following what they say are their own sense of values and especially when look at this in context it’s like, okay, I can see that’s also an issue where people have problems. It’s like, okay you’re telling me one thing I came here for one thing and I expected one thing but this ain’t how it is.
Danny Gutknecht: Right.
Jim Rembach: So, I would think that you’re doing a lot of work to trying to make sure that organizations are authentic in those things and aligned with one of those things and congruent with those things.
Danny Gutknecht: The reason that I call it a dynamic lingua franca dynamic being the key operative word there is that meaning is dynamic with every experience that we have we’re learning something new. The organization has to keep evolving their meaning. If you look at Southwest Airlines they went from “no-frills to freedom to fly to without heart it’s just a machine” they keep they keep evolving and they do this actually through mining what their employees feel about it and communicating that to their customers. So, it’s a circular mining of understanding what concepts what themes are emerging that the airline has to deal with today this keeps you in touch with what’s going on in the ground. The problem with values and other things that are set in stone that come from people who said so you get an executive and you get a board and you get a marketing team and they’re like we’re going to say so, and there’s an element of that that’s really good don’t get me wrong, but when you say we’re going to say so it comes from a very small groups perspective of what that company is and who that company is. And that may be okay early on for a founder led business but when you have to scale beyond the founder then the whole honorees of carrying the meaning of that organization falls on a very few people. And that’s—you see it today with Gallup 70% unengaged nobody’s allowing for participation in understanding who the organization is and who it is except a few really great companies a lot of them I see doing it with some unconscious competence.
Jim Rembach: I could definitely see what you’re talking about how all of this impacts both the employee experience and the customer experience. And I would dare to say that you probably had to go through a lot of humps yourself in order to be able to figure these things out. Is there a time where you’ve over the hump that we can learn from?
Danny Gutknecht: How many of them I’ve had all along the way are enormous. Yeah, one of them just in terms of the parental journey which I oftentimes equate to my learning experiences at work as well. You know you’d mentioned kids and daughters I had a daughter when she was in the sixth grade she came in with these grades that she wasn’t happy with. I walk in the front door and she just starts crying automatically and I said, oh, what’s wrong? We sat down on the couch and she said, “You know I don’t want you to be disappointed in me.” And I said, “Well, first of all why would I be disappointed?” And she said, “Well these aren’t grades that I want.” And I said, “Okay, I said let’s look at them” and we looked at them and I said, “What’s this up in the top left-hand corner?” And she said. “That’s my name.” And I said, “These are your grades, these aren’t mine and you have conditional love for me these can all be F’s I don’t care it’s your journey.” And so one of the things that I tried to continually impress is don’t do things to make me proud follow your heart do things that you feel are right for you and learn from them and if you plug that in as a continual learning experience it’s the same thing—these are all learning experiences from myself. When you do things that are out of tune with yourself with the human being I always struggled but when I did things that were in tune with myself I didn’t struggle.
Jim Rembach: Thanks for sharing that. There’s one thing that you said in there for me to just kind of really resonate it hard is that—somebody said something to the effect of, when you tell somebody you’re proud of them you now made it about you. And you just kind of elaborated that story and basically just said that, look those grades are about you and don’t seek but meet my pride, what I’ve essentially started doing now is I try to be very mindful and not to say I’m proud of you what I try to say is I’m happy for you. Because that’s about them and because the same thing would be on the other side from an empathy perspective is that, gosh, I feel bad for you. But again it’s about them it’s not about me. I’m disappointed in you, no, no I should not say that but I think that’s hard enough from a society perspective for us to kind of change that but I think there are really important distinctions.
Danny Gutknecht: Oftentimes when I first introduced these concepts to people the biggest issue that they have is the controller. And the controller in us there’s a guy named Daniel Kahneman that wrote a book called, Thinking Fast and Slow, and he calls it system one and system two brains. I don’t think that terminology describes what those two brains do effectively enough. The system one brain is basically our executor so it’s that thing that we do when we just go we’re driving and we don’t have to think about driving and so that’s—a lot of people associate that with the ego we want our set rules and we just want to run this execution thing. The other one is the editor, it’s the reflective part of our brain. A so what’s really important is that we understand how we’re plugging in and editing those programs because if you just mindlessly run those programs you get—and so when I introduce these concepts to people they think, oh my god is that chaos? What am I doing by letting go? What am I doing by telling this child don’t make me proud go make yourself proud go do in life what you do and bring back those experiences and let’s share them together and I’ll share mine with you too my learning experiences it makes it more human. It’s the same thing that I’ve had to learn as a leader which is like—you’ve got your journey to go on as an employee and how can I help you but you have to do it you have to do the work.
Jim Rembach: That’s great point, thanks for sharing. You have the book, Meaning at Work, you have you’re speaking, you’re consulting all of these things going on but if I was to say you had one thing as far as the goal was concerned what would it be?
Danny Gutknecht: Steward your own meaning. Helping people and companies steward meaning is probably the ultimate objective. It helps really liberate creativity it talks about those words individuation that you said earlier it’s a word from Carl Jung who basically said, the thing that we seek most in life is a differentiated life it’s why we seek out unique experiences it’s why we love to interact with unique things in the universe is because it’s opening up our mental models and our experience to learning and growing and if you think about that even from an evolutionary standpoint it makes a lot of sense. And so stewarding your meaning is really getting that editor part of your brain the system to your brain to start thinking about—are these models that I’m running working for me? Are they not working for me? If they’re not working for me how do I address them and reflect on them in a way that works for me? And that’s what stewarding meaning is.
Jim Rembach: And the Fast Leader legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.
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Jim Rembach: Alright, here we go Fast Leader legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Danny, the hump day hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us a robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Danny Gutknecht, are you ready to hoedown?
Danny Gutknecht: You bet, let’s go.
Jim Rembach: Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Danny Gutknecht: Stewarding my meaning.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Danny Gutknecht: You can’t do the work they have to.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Danny Gutknecht: Constantly reflecting and evaluating on my thought processes.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of the best tools that helps you lead in business or life?
Danny Gutknecht: The human fugue, it’s a model that Bijoy Goswami created.
Jim Rembach: What would be one book that you’d recommend to our legion, and it could be from any genre. Of course, we’ll put a link to Meaning at Work and it’s headed in language on your show notes page as well.
Danny Gutknecht: Carl Jung, The Undiscovered Self.
Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going too fastleader.net/Danny Gutknecht. Okay, Danny, this is my last hump day hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you were given the knowledge and skills that you have now and you can take them back with you but you can’t take everything you can only just choose one. What skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
Danny Gutknecht: I would take back my meaning competency. Because I unconsciously stumbled into this whole meaning territory which is more than just a feeling. And so, I would be able to quickly evolve how I address everyone that I was engaged with every relationship in my life. It changes everything once you realize that you are the interpreter you are the person making the decision. And the sooner that you develop those competencies you’re going to live a much richer, deeper existence.
Jim Rembach: Danny, it was an honor to spend time with you today, can you please share with a Fast Leader legion how they can connect with you?
Danny Gutknecht: Obviously off of my website for the book which is, essencemining.com. The organization that I run is called pathways.IO. We help organizations do exactly this find their meaning.
Jim Rembach: Danny Gutknecht, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot!
Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links, from every show special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.
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