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267: Chester Elton: Lead with gratitude

267: Chester Elton: Lead with gratitude

Chester Elton Show Notes Page Chester Elton got over the hump when he began to assume people had positive intent and became even more grateful for the things he had. Born in Edmonton, Alberta, and raised in Vancouver B.C. Canada, Chester is a proud Canadian and avid hockey fan! Hockey isn’t just a game; it …

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Joseph Michelli - Driven to Delight

205: Joseph Michelli: Getting over my bad self

Joseph Michelli Show Notes Page

Joseph Michelli now helps organizations deliver extraordinary customer and employee experiences. But in his early twenties he was all about himself until he began a journey that taught him about commitment, the power of teams and building a greater legacy.

Joseph was born in Raton, New Mexico and raised in Florence, Colorado. He was an only child, from an intact Italian, blue-collar family. At an early age, he was adopted after being found in a trash can.

Joseph’s first jobs were on his uncle’s dairy farm after which he began a career as a radio disc jockey at age 13. Continuing as a union musician and radio personality through college, he worked as an organizational development specialist after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.

Dr. Joseph Michelli helps leaders and business owners define and build memorable brands. He activates people, processes, and technology to consistently deliver service experiences that drive loyalty and sustained profits.

He a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Nielson Bookscan and New York Times #1 bestselling author. His latest book is Driven to Delight: Delivering World-Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way.

Joseph’s other titles include Leading The Starbucks Way: 5 Principles for Connecting with Your Customer, Your Products, and Your People, The Zappos Experience: 5 Principles to Inspire Engage and WOW, Prescription for Excellence: Leadership Lessons for Creating a World-Class Customer Experience from UCLA Health System, The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary, The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, and When Fish Fly: Lessons for Creating a Vital and Energized Workplace which was co-authored with the owner of the “World Famous” Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle.

Having journeyed with a close family member through a six-year battle with breast cancer, Dr. Michelli is committed to social causes associated with curing cancer as well as abating world hunger. He believes his greatest legacy is his two adult children’s kindness toward others and their servant’s hearts.

Joseph currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @josephmichelli to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet

“A lot of us have de-conditioned our otherness and we’re pretty focused on our self-needs.” – Click to Tweet

“There is profit to be made in greater customer care.” – Click to Tweet

“Employees treat people better if you treat them well.” – Click to Tweet

“Those who are holding on to legacy service delivery models that worked for them but not for the consumer are going to perish.” – Click to Tweet

“You’ve got to think about where is the customer going to be in the future.” – Click to Tweet

“What do we need to do given the predictions of the exponential growth of technology?” – Click to Tweet

“The disruption space is really where you should be thinking.” – Click to Tweet

“Journey mapping is a step up from a time when we drug our knuckles in the cave and said it’s all about us.” – Click to Tweet

“We need to think future backwards along with journey mapping.” – Click to Tweet

“Build touchpoints that are relevant from the consumer world based on where we see the consumer going.” – Click to Tweet

“You often fail at your complacency moments.” – Click to Tweet

“Success is hard but sustaining success is harder.” – Click to Tweet

“People are the ones that let you down, that’s where your brand falls apart.” – Click to Tweet

“You can convince yourself of anything inside the system.” – Click to Tweet

“We have to train people to be very adaptive and pivot.” – Click to Tweet

“The more I focus on service the more life works itself out.” – Click to Tweet

“The more I try to calculate my own destiny the less I’m focused on the needs of others.” – Click to Tweet

“What can we create with other people in the service of others?” – Click to Tweet

“What’s your personal lasting goal, what do you want to be known for?” – Click to Tweet

“What’s your life-long brand going to be about?” – Click to Tweet

“It is more important to care about people than anything else in the entire planet.” – Click to Tweet

“Caring about people is the insurance plan for your future.” – Click to Tweet

“You don’t need to have all of the answers, you need to ask really smart questions.” – Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Joseph Michelli now helps organizations deliver extraordinary customer and employee experiences. But in his early twenties he was all about himself until he began a journey that taught him about commitment, the power of teams and building a greater legacy.

Advice for others

It is more important to care about people than anything else in the entire planet. Caring about people is the insurance plan for your future.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Thinking I need to have all of the answers.

Best Leadership Advice

You don’t need to have all of the answers, you need to ask really smart questions.

Secret to Success

The power of emotional intelligence.

Best tools in business or life

Mentors and colleagues who are kind enough to be on the board of directors of my life and guide me whenever I am in doubt.

Recommended Reading

Contacting Joseph Michelli

Website: www.josephmichelli.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/josephmichelli

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/josephmichelli/

Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

An Even Better Place to Work

Show Transcript:

Click to access edited transcript

205: Joseph Michelli: Getting over my bad self

 

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.

 

Call center coach develops and unites the next generation of call center leaders. Through our e-learning and community individuals gain knowledge and skills in the six core competencies that is the blueprint that develops high-performing call center leaders. Successful supervisors do not just happen so go to callcentercoach.com to learn more about enrollment and download your copy of the Supervisor Success Path e-book now.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who have known from afar for a long time and if it isn’t have admired his work and so now I get the opportunity to share it with you. Joseph Michelli was born in Raton, New Mexico and raised in Florence, Colorado. He was going to a found in a trash can at the age of three and adopted by two loving parents he was an only child from an intact Italian blue-collar family. Joseph’s first job was on his uncle’s dairy farm after which he began a career as a radio disc jockey at age   continuing as a union musician and radio personality through college he worked as an organizational development specialist. After receiving his PhD from the University of Southern California Dr. Joseph Michelli helps leaders and business owners define and build memorable brands. 

 

He activates people processes and technology to consistently deliver service experiences that drive loyalty and sustain profits. He’s a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Nielsen BookScan and New York Times’ number one bestseller. His latest book is, Driven to Delight–Delivering World class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz way. Joseph’s other titles include Leading the Starbucks Way, The Zappos Experience, Prescription for Excellence, The Starbucks Experience and the New Gold Standard and When Fish Fly, not fry fly.  Having journeyed with a close family member through a six year battle with breast cancer, Dr. Michelli is committed to social causes associated with curing cancer as well as abating world hunger. He believes his greatest legacy is his two adult children’s kindness towards others and their servant hearts. Joseph currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. Joseph Michelli are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Joseph Michelli:     Are you kidding? Of course I am, let’s do it Jim.

 

Jim Rembach:    I’m glad you’re here now given my 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? 

 

Joseph Michelli:     It’s really pretty simple, it’s serving people who are committed to serving other people. Well, that’s tit in a nutshell I mean that’s nice and it’s a sink. However, the way that you go about doing that can be quite complex it really is I mean I think a lot of us have de-conditioned our other nests and we’re pretty focused on our self needs. From a business perspective and a personal satisfaction perspective helping people figure out how to do it and then from a business perspective what are the levers that you can pull to try to drive a greater service experience within your culture.

 

Now I haven’t had the opportunity to get deep into the book however I was perusing and looking over the contents just to prepare myself for our interview today and I started looking at the content and to  me it’s kind of laid out really like a road map, no pun intended we’re talking about Mercedes Benz, but I mean when you start looking at this process and talking to the CEO you had some comments about the timing and the aspects of going through this transition but what did it look like for Mercedes Benz to go through this?

 

Joseph Michelli:     Well, I had an incredible good fortune to be working with Mercedes Benz. The leader at Mercedes-Benz, the CEO who wanted to transform the culture authentically from a pure understanding that he didn’t manufacture the cars that was happening with decisions being made in Germany, there was certainly a plant in Vance, Alabama but he wasn’t in charge of manufacturing plant he was in charge of Mercedes-Benz USA the OEM that distributes out to the dealer community, he had an authentic commitment to try to help those dealers create greater connections produce greater business results at their dealerships and overall elevate the service experience of the brand. So, with that starting point we took his vision of what that could look like. There was a lot of time spent imagining what the gaps were between the current state and the optimal future state lots of strategic war room planning on what could we do from a people process and technology perspective that would gain parity with others in the industry actually the differentiators and compete against the best of the best service experiences outside of automotive. Go head to head with another brand clients that I’ve worked with for a book, The Ritz-Carlton it to be thought of in the same rarefied air of service experience excellence is a Ritz Carlton for example and so it really was a roadmap. This is the destination here are our gaps here’s what we need to do let’s get in the war room and figure out how we get there. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I would dare to say that when you start thinking about certain organizations that are in the position of say like a Mercedes Benz where they have dealerships that you’re dealing with owners of those different dealerships and so it’s not just, hey, the company and what we’re trying to do at that level but I also have to have that filter down and through all of my dealerships, how does that happen?

 

Joseph Michelli:     Well, that’s a great point I’ve written books about Starbucks and the Starbucks is pretty much—we make a decision at leadership and we have our managers follow it and everybody’s paid for us and gets a W2 from us. When you’re talking about dealership you’re talking about independent business owners so you’re really talking about a business to business to customer relationships. How do you help the middle B and the B to B to C to be successful? I think a lot of it is, A: showing them that there is profit to be made in greater customer care. This is just not all fluffy puppy dogs and roses kind of storytelling this is really the human beings—buy more cars if you treat them well. Employees treat people better if you treat them well. If we can show the money on the back side of that then people are willing to invest in doing it otherwise it’s a nice to have—it’s something you’d like to be known for but it’s not something you put the work into to make happen in your business. I think one of the great successes was not only selling him on the vision but to demonstrate the financial upside of doing so. And even adjusting incentives and compensation within the ecosystem so that dealers that did it well got more compensation than dealers who treated customers poorly, now I’m going to feel it in my wallet. We’re seeing it in healthcare we’re seeing in a lot of other places where value-based purchasing means that doctors not only have to produce quality outcomes but they have to also treat people like human beings while they’re doing it. The days of a Dr. House in the television show where you can be the best infectious disease specialist in the world and treat people like total crap are gone. And so we had to get to that message in the dealerships and people heard it saw it and demonstrated the financial benefits of it and it sustained in the culture. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Well and there’s a couple things that you mentioned that kind of stand out to me especially when you start thinking about the automotive industry as an entirety. You talk about voice of customer you talk about incentivizing and I think many of us in the North American market have either purchased a vehicle or gotten the service and then you get that pressure where it’s, hey, you’re going to be getting a survey and in order for me to take care of my family I need a ten. So, what is it going to take in order for you to give me a ten?

 

Joseph Michelli:     The whole customer journey in automotive has had to change. People aren’t going to dealerships to see the car for the first time all the search is happening in digital space they’re coming in already pre-determined what their choices. They don’t want a long buying experience within a dealership they want to be able to experience the test drive so they can get a tangible realization of the car that they’ve already mentally decided to buy. Now done that as quickly as possible they don’t want to negotiate or hassle there’s plenty of options online where I can have transparency in pricing let’s get through all of that let’s also do away with anything that’s going to cause me to feel like you’re baiting me or incentivizing me or your family won’t eat unless I get a ten that’s over. I think that brands that figure that out are going to be sustainable those who are holding on the legacy service delivery models that work for them but not for the consumer. In every sector of our world are going to perish ultimately \. 

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a very interesting point. Last year I had the opportunity to be at a startup incubator program in Silicon Valley and there was a gentleman that was there that was in the automotive industry who talking about that whole brand and automotive experience he started talking about how even when we start thinking in context of shared rides and things like that that it’s quite possible that within the next ten years people won’t even own cars, and I’m like, really? It just seems kind of far-fetched and hard to believe. But when you start thinking about a brand that is facing that possibility of disruption how can they going to make sure that they’re on the front end of that instead of back end? 

 

Joseph Michelli:     There’s pretty good literature in urban environments that trend is likely to happen in the foreseeable future. I think in rural environments there’s still some suggestion that the automobile plays a very important role in ride-sharing, it’s probably not the solution yet there. That said I think in those industries you have to be very future backward thinking in the customer experience design you’re creating. It’s not enough to just look at your current customer journey, do customer journey mapping look at that journey and then identify pain points and ways to iteratively improve it. You have to think about where is the customer going to be in the future? What is technology predicting and what do we need to do given the predictions of the exponential growth of technology? Because if you don’t and you only incrementally grow your business there’s going to be a huge gap between what technology can do and what you’re growing at that gap is the disruption space and it’s really where you should be thinking. 

Specific to the automobile industry I think it’s a nightmare but I do think you have to be thinking about, well maybe we get involved in sourcing those shared companies as opposed to going direct to consumer.

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s an interesting point. Now I had another guest on the show, Michael Gale, he wrote the book called, The Digital Helix, and he talks about how journey mapping, and he was on the front end of the journey mapping process or being able to do all that, he talked about journey mapping being dead it’s over because of some of the things that you kind of alluded to. When we talk about the process piece and we talk about the journey sometimes I could be so involved with my process and that type of thinking that I don’t see what’s going on outside of that process component. How do you make sure that an organization doesn’t get so absorbed that they miss those things that are going on in the ecosystem?

 

Joseph Michelli:     I believe it’s not dead. I think if you do it by itself it may be dead but even doing it by itself is better than what a lot of organizations do right now which has never considered the perspective of the customer when they’re designing the overall flow of their business. For me journey mapping is a step up from a time when we drag our knuckles in the cave and said it’s all about us and it has nothing to do with the customer and the customer will endure our process. Stepping up to a journey mapping gets you into empathy of the customer experience which is very valuable it. It also enables your team to start iteratively making improvements particularly around pain points elevating peak moments and elevating recent experiences. If you do those things and celebrate victories you get some lift out of journey mapping. But if that’s all you do then you miss these very things that your guests so eloquently pointed out which is the future is pushing on us at a rapid rate and we need to think future backwards along with journey mapping. Literally technologies we use with clients include both persona based journey mapping for segmentation and an approach to understanding cultural trends likely disruptors and adopting some of the known customer behaviors and accelerating some of our opportunities to change the entire journey. Forget about the existing touch points build touch points that are relevant from the consumer world based on where we see the consumer going.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, so as you’re talking I started thinking about what we have quite often about that inside out and outside in type of view is that to have that both.

 

Joseph Michelli:     Yeah, I think you have to have both. And you also have to have future backwards view as much as today and slightly better tomorrow view. 

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a good point. Okay, so Steve Cannon, in the book you had mentioned something about him receiving a benefit in order to be able to go through this transition and he was talking about the work that came previously and so when you start looking at this and process give me an idea of the length of it?

 

Joseph Michelli:     His goal is a four year transformation they are just overachievers at Mercedes-Benz their tagline is best or nothing and when they go for something full-on they go for it full on so they go for it full on. They did  probably got two and a half years in they had done a very significant amount of this transformation and we’re just kind of riding out the coattails of what they needed to do. Prior to that he had had some benefits of a very positive employee culture. A lot of work had been done on employee engagement and he had a really beautiful physical plant. Most of the dealerships had upgraded the overall aesthetics of their dealerships. So o that was all foundational but then he had to activate people to elevate the experience to meet the level of the engineering of the cars.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, so you had mentioned something about that whole forward thinking component and then you also talked about now they’re writing some of the coattails but we know they can’t do that for long that’s when you have to disrupt again.

 

Joseph Michelli:     Absolutely, yeah. I mean there’s plenty of curves out there that show that most companies fail to invest when they start becoming complacent if you look at the economic projection curves, I think it’s Handy’s curve is one of the big ones, so yeah, I think you often fail at your complacency moments. Success is hard but sustaining success is harder.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, so I’ve gotten a couple different opinions from different folks however when you start thinking about, like we had mentioned in your bio you talk about people, process, technology all of those things what’s the most challenging of all?

 

Joseph Michelli:     Well, people are the ones that let you down that’s where your brand falls apart. If you look at most of complaints that customers have it’s going to be through your people. So, not sustaining your focus in selection, onboarding training that’s a big one for most companies they get that up. The other one that’s really hard to figure out which technology like of all the things I could invest in which should I invest in? Where should I double down? I think the last one I’ll say is just killing your darlings in any of those areas getting to in love with any one set of processes for example and not being willing to pivot off of them when you see the marketplace changing. 

 

Jim Rembach:    So when you’re talking about that I started thinking about that whole organizational structure component and what I’ve seen often times is that organization’s will thin themselves out so much that you have too many key people looking at so many different things and it goes back into that whole multitasking I can’t do all of these things component. So how have you helped organizations make sure that they are keeping different eyes on all of those things? 

 

Joseph Michelli:     Well, I think it does oftentimes require somebody from outside to do it. Because you can convince yourself of anything inside of the system. It does take a voice outside to ask those hard questions, are you sure? How certain are you? What would happen if? Let’s play out this wargame scenario where you get restricted in your ability to do X Y or Z, now tell me how you’re going to adapt given the current employee structure you have.  I think we can best case it all the time and reduce staff. I think you have to realistically case it and decide who do have to hold on to given the most probable scenarios that we could see in the marketplace whether that’s competitors or economic factors. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I think that’s really interesting point you just brought up. I was just reading something yesterday just talking about development of skill and when you start looking at getting people to invest in developing and training their skills it’s like one of the biggest chores there is for an organizations is that they get so stuck with—have got to do this I’ve got to do that and that they don’t think of I have to work on me in order for me to be able to bring that more value. 

 

Joseph Michelli:     Absolutely. In a Harvard Business Review claimed a term called VUCA which is volatile uncertain complex and ambiguous and it really speaks to the business environment it was applied traditionally to the war scenarios where war scenarios were all about having opponents in a volatile uncertain complex and ambiguous environment. That’s why I often refer to war games I think a lot of this is scenario running in your head to say, let’s not just assume best-case or mid case let’s be capable of that and to do that we have to train people to be very adaptive and pivot in that kind of a business environment and we have to train ourselves. 

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s true. Okay, so being the writer of several books and looking at the back of your room you have several books, when you let started looking all that—they say that people who write are people who read the most so I’m sure you do that. But when you start thinking about quotes, they’re very inspirational to us and I’m sure they are to you, if you had one or two that you can share what would it be?

 

Joseph Michelli:     Well, I think Earl Nightingale influenced me a lot when I was coming up, he had a big voice and he was on the radio and I was working in a radio station where he’d had this one-minute moments every day that we play on the radio station. I remember him saying that, our rewards in life will always be in proportion or in ratio to our service. And I think for me that has been critically important to understand the more I focus on service the more life works itself out. The more I try to figure out how to calculate my own destiny the less I’m focused on the needs of others. So Earl Nightingale’s our rewards in life are proportional or in ratio to our service. 

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a good one. Okay, so when I started thinking about—just what we were talking about off mic and coming on here and looking at this whole transition and being a disc jockey at 13, how in the heck you got into the whole PhD thing from there is an interesting thing but writing several books going through and consulting and all of the things that you’ve been through I’m sure there’s a lot of humps and things that we could learn, is there a story that you can share with us? 

 

Joseph Michelli:     Yeah, my biggest hump is in my personal life. I kind of start really early on and I was not wanting to do much more than focus on dating when I was in my late 20s and finishing up my PhD program and I dated a woman for a year who was putting a little more pressure to say is this all there is> Are you just all about yourself and the next date? And my answer was pretty much yes, unfortunately, and she said well I’m committed to something longer term and I want somebody who’s committed to seeing a greater future for two people joined together in the power of teams. She kind of walked away from me for a while I followed her we ultimately decided to marry and we focused on what would our legacy be if we were to effectively this team and that was a hump for me to get through that time in my life. The legacy turned out to be we’re going to raise two kids that would give more to the world than they took. 

 

Ultimately, that particular person named Nora died of breast cancer about five years ago and at the end of her life in the very last days of her life it was my son who had to stop working in his dream job and relocated to be there with his mother who had humbled himself to learn how to be a CNA so he could take care of her in hospice time. It was my son who was toileting his mother and taking her from her toilet to her, what would ultimately be her deathbed. I can tell you that time in my life the aha moment that comes from that lesson is that we do need to get out of our own sense of the now what’s in it for me and start thinking about what can we create with other people in the service of others. And I think the more we do that the more we leave a legacy of significance. If I look at that scenario in retrospect I also realize that we don’t know how much time we have and we can spend all this time in self-indulgence. I think we want to leave a lasting mark on the planet for our time spent here. So I would say the bump that I got through was getting over my bad self and starting to think about what I could accomplish with somebody else and realizing that we don’t know how much time we have so let’s get on it. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I appreciate you sharing that. There’s so many things that came flooding in my mind I started thinking about me and something that I’m going through in the past day or two where I need to think a little bit beyond just the moment that it’s frustrating the heck out of me with one of my kids. 

 

Joseph Michelli:     I think that’s exactly—it’s natural to think about ourselves, it’s just like, okay so now what? The so what of that is so let’s do something with that and let’s try to bring some good to others through whatever we’re going through. And the more we do that the better it works out in the situation that we’re so troubled by. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Well, okay, when you start thinking about that and that driving that force and thinking about correlating and connecting it with customer experience and having brands bring that type of power to be able to leave a legacy, where do you kind of see things going? 

 

Joseph Michelli:     Working with leaders all the time about their legacy I help try to get individuals to say, okay that’s the purpose of the organization they talk about it all the time but you as a manager as a leader as a frontline person, how do you connect to that purpose? Now what’s your personal lasting goal? What do you want to be known for? What’s your lifelong brands going to be about? And how does that play into serving others and then how do you yoke that back up with the overall purpose of the organization where you find yourself today? So I think the more we can get people to say, I don’t want to be known for making this incremental increase in a net promoter score I want to be known for creating a place where people tell others about how they were cared about and I can do that and that fits with the company’s vision of X Y or Z. 

 

Jim Rembach:    As you’re talking I start thinking about essentially being in a conference room with all the heads of my organization and all of them have different views and viewpoints and I start thinking about vision but then I started getting into that alignment component, how well or what kind of humps, talking about getting over, that do you see organizations have to go through to get that kind of consensus? Because it really it has to be a consensus. You mentioned the word before we came on mic “all in” that Mercedes-Benz at the top level they were all into this transformation, how do you get them? 

 

Joseph Michelli:     Yeah, I think that you really do have to have that honest discussion about, is this who you want to be? Are you just going to do this? Because if you are not going to be this if this is not part of your essence a part of your self-purpose then really you’d be better off going to someplace where your self-purpose could be expressed. And it would be better for that organization and better for you, no hard feelings here, we celebrate we consider that great insight and will help you do it it’s a willingness to do that and a willingness to have the conversations and a willingness to say, will we see it in your behavior? You say it with your mouth? Where are your feet going to be? What are your actions going to be? 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, so as you were saying and I started thinking about being proactive with it so that you can do it with dignity because if it’s not active it’s not going to be done with dignity. 

 

Joseph Michelli:     No it’s not about beating people up because they were in a fit and they’re not living the dream of your company and they’re not showing their passion for purpose. It’s really helping them realize that their purpose might not be aligned with yours and there’s no hard feelings there’s a lot of different places to work in America. Nike has a kind of competitive purpose I wouldn’t work well there it’s just not my thing to dominate and win. But for somebody who is they’re not probably on my team and I’m good with that. If somebody were on my team and we were having this discussion about alignment and all in and they were really wanting to take out a competitor I’d be saying, look please find that company where your soul was saying it’s not going to be here. 

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a good point. Okay, we’re not going to name it but you talked about working on another book and that coming out in a few months or so…

 

Joseph Michelli:     I’ll tell you the company I just can’t name the book because we don’t have a title yet but if a company is Airbnb, it’s kind of the antithesis of what I did with the Ritz-Carlton where we’re talking about the premiere traditional hotel chain and then we’re going to be writing about the alternative technology disrupter and again create a branded experience through a completely uncontrolled set of hosts. 

 

Jim Rembach:    It’s a totally different dynamic because they own nothing. 

 

Joseph Michelli:     Yeah, and yet you’re trying to influence experience that holds together around belong anywhere.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, so you have that you have other consulting projects, speaking, and things like that but when you look at all the things that you have in your plate, what’s one goal? 

 

Joseph Michelli:     Oh, my gosh!  I think it’s really pretty simple, I want people to figure out how to improve the world of service, that’s it, it’s really simple. How do I make sure that it’s easier, better, faster or kinder more memorable than it was the last time you tried to serve a customer. 

 

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. 

 

An even better place to work is an easy-to-use solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone. Using this award-winning solution is guaranteed to create motivated, productive and loyal employees who have great work relationships with their colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work visit beyondmorale.com/better. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time for the Hump day Hoedown. Okay, Joseph, the Hump day Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Joseph Michelli, are you ready to hoedown? 

 

Joseph Michelli:     I am ready, let’s go. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?

 

Joseph Michelli:     I think in general I am still thinking I need to have all the answers. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What is the best leadership advice you have ever received? 

 

Joseph Michelli:     That you don’t need to have all the answers you need to ask really smart questions. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

 

Joseph Michelli:     I think that I’ve studied emotional intelligence and I believe in the power of emotional intelligence that means empathy that means my capacity to kind of try to read social situations for appropriateness it means being very realistic about my own weakness and being very self-aware and having self-discipline. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?

 

Joseph Michelli:     Mentors and colleagues who are so kind to be on the board of directors of my life and guide me whenever I am in doubt 

 

Jim Rembach:    What would be one book that you’d recommend to our legion, it could be from any genre, and of course we’re going to put a link to all of your books on your show notes page as well. 

 

Joseph Michelli:     Well, I read it all the time it’s, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, it’s my one of my favorite books. It’s a reminder that no matter how bad things get in a concentration camp there are human beings who are capable of doing amazing things on behalf of others. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader legion you can find links to that and other bonus information on today’s show by going to fastleader.net/JosephMichelli. Okay, Joseph, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25. And you can take the knowledge and skills back with you but you can’t take everything back you can only choose one. What skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why? 

 

Joseph Michelli:     That it is more important to care about people than anything else in the entire planet. Caring about people is the insurance plan for your future, it really is. And caring about yourself is the insurance plan to make sure that there’s nobody there to insure you. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Joseph it was an honor to spend time with you today. Can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you? 

 

Joseph Michelli:     It’s pretty simple my name is my website so josephmichelli.com. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Joseph Michelli, 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. 

 

END OF AUDIO 

 

 

leadership-podcast-matt-beckwith-fastleadershow

204: Matt Beckwith: I almost left the contact center

Matt Beckwith Show Notes Page

Matt Beckwith considered leaving his contact center job because he felt bogged down by the things he didn’t like about the job. He almost left, and then his boss asked him some very insightful questions that helped him find clarity almost instantly.

Matt Beckwith grew up in the central valley California cities of Fresno and Stockton. He and his identical twin brother were in the middle of the pack of four other brothers and a sister, all from his parents’ other marriages.

Matt’s parents were both self-employed and taught all their children the value of hard work but begged them not to go into business for themselves. Matt’s mother was an employment consultant, his father was a private substance abuse counselor, and they would share lessons about business, finance, and customer service. Matt was very young when his mother taught him the law of supply and demand and how a natural market could set the price for a product.

Matt worked in restaurants early in his life and very much enjoyed the fast-paced hectic world of full-service restaurants. But the restaurant life was not for him and he set out to start a career.

Nearly 25 years ago, Matt was newly married and scored an interview at the local pencil factory. The babysitter arrived late, which caused Matt to arrive late to his appointment. They would not allow him to interview. He sulked for a while before learning that the phone company was hiring directory assistance operators. Having always been fascinated with the history of the telephone, Matt jumped at the chance and within a few weeks he had started his new job as a 411 operator.

Matt spent just one year as a 411 operator before moving on to another company (at a time when it was considered crazy to leave the phone company) where he quickly started to take on training and supervisory roles. Matt has spent the years since then leading customer service and sales contact centers in various industries, from banking to healthcare to pest control.

He is currently the Contact Center Director for Clark Pest Control, one of the largest and most successful pest control companies in the US. Matt is a proud contact center geek and enjoys connecting with other contact center leaders all over the world. He is a 2018 ICMI featured contributor and Call Center Demo speaker and panelist, and Frost & Sullivan conference advisory board member and panelist. Matt also serves on the steering committee for the Northern California Contact Center Association and writes the blog, contactcentergeek.com.

Matt is an avid cyclist and part-time runner, who recently completed his first marathon. He is also an active board member for the San Joaquin Bike Coalition.

Matt and his lovely wife, Dawn, live in beautiful Stockton, California. Together, they are most proud of the job they did raising their two amazing daughters, Emily and Makenzy. Makenzy is a second-year business student at San Jose State University and Emily and her husband Garrett have given Matt and Dawn the greatest gifts they could have ever asked for, two wonderful grandchildren, Avery and Maverick.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @mattbikewith to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet

“We have to do more outreach as an industry to get people to want to work in a contact center.” – Click to Tweet 

“Like with any technology, it just makes challenges we’ve had in the past, bigger.” – Click to Tweet 

“There’s more scale today and there’s more at stake.” – Click to Tweet 

“We are the most customer-friendly organization I have seen in my entire life.” – Click to Tweet 

“We can get even better than we are today if we look at it holistically.” – Click to Tweet 

“It’s about taking those inputs from the outside and synthesizing them for our own customer base.” – Click to Tweet 

“To a fault, we think of our self as the customer. That’s a trap.” – Click to Tweet 

“We start learning and creating real innovation by looking outside of our business.” – Click to Tweet 

“Don’t tell me who you are, show me who you are.” @mattbikewith @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet 

“The things you think are the biggest issues today, in another month or year, you’re not going to think that.” – Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Matt Beckwith considered leaving his contact center job because he felt bogged down by the things he didn’t like about the job. He almost left, and then his boss asked him some very insightful questions that helped him find clarity almost instantly.

Advice for others

Let go. Live in the moment. The things you think are the biggest issues today, in another month or year, you’re not going to think that.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Doubt and fear. Less than it was yesterday.

Best Leadership Advice

It will always be about your people. Nothing matters before your people.

Secret to Success

Life is too much fun and leave to chance – plan it out. I plan my week, I plan my month, I plan my year.

Best tools in business or life

Manager tools podcast.

Recommended Reading

Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Contacting Matt Beckwith

Website: https://contactcentergeek.com/

Website: https://www.mattbeckwith.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mattbikewith

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewbeckwith/

Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

An Even Better Place to Work

Show Transcript:

Click to access edited transcript

204: Matt Beckwith: I almost left the contact center

 

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.

 

Call center coach develops and unites the next generation of call center leaders. Through our e-learning and community individuals gain knowledge and skills in the six core competencies that is the blueprint that develops high-performing call center leaders. Successful supervisors do not just happen so go to callcentercoach.com to learn more about enrollment and download your copy of the Supervisor Success Path e-book now.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who can really give us some insight into accidents and why they should happen. Matt Beckwith grew up in Central Valley California cities of Fresno and Stockton.  He and his identical twin brother were in the middle of the pack of four brothers and sisters all from actually and a sister all from his parents other marriages. Matt’s parents were both self-employed and taught all their children the value of hard work but begged them not to go into business for themselves. Matt’s mother was an employment consultant and his father was a private substance abuse counselor and they would share lessons about business, finance and customer service.

 

Matt was very young when his mother taught him the law of supply and demand and how a natural market had set the price for a product. Matt worked in restaurants early in his life and very much enjoyed the fast-paced hectic world of full service restaurants but the restaurant life was not for him. He set out to start a career nearly 25 years ago Matt was newly married and scored an interview with the local pencil factory the babysitter arrived late which caused Matt to arrive late to his appointment they would not allow him to even interview him. He soaked for a while before learning that the phone company was hiring directory assistance operators. Having always been fascinated with the history of the telephone Matt jumped at the chance and within a few weeks he had started his new job as a 4 1 1 operator. 

 

Matt spent just one year as a 4 1 1 operator before moving on other company opportunities. So he quickly learned to take training and supervisory roles. Matt has spent the years since then leading customer service and sales contact centers in various industries from banking to health care to pest control. He’s currently the contact center director for Clark pest control one of the largest and most successful pest control companies in the United States. Matt is a proud contact center geek and enjoys connecting with other contact center leaders all over the world. He is a 2018 ICMI feature contributor and call center demo speaker and panelists and Frost & Sullivan conference advisory board member and panelist. Matt also serves on the steering committee for the Northern California contact center association and writes the blog contactcentergeek.com. 

 

Matt is an avid cyclist and part-time runner who recently completed his first marathon. He is also an active board member for the San Joaquin Bike Coalition. Matt and his lovely wife Dawn live in beautiful

Stockton California together they’re most proud of the job they did raising their two amazing daughters Emily and Mackenzie. Mackenzie is a second year business student at San Jose State University and Emily and her husband Garrett have given Matt and Dawn the greatest gift they could have ever done and that is two wonderful grandchildren, Avery and Maverick. Matt Beckwith are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Yes, I am Jim.

 

Jim Rembach:    Matt, I’m glad you’re here. Now get in my 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?

 

Matt Beckwith:    My passion tend to hover around a few things at any one time but lately my mind’s been set on my grandkids a lot because my youngest grandkid turns one this very weekend so we’re very excited about that and in my day job life super excited that our company’s moving forward with focusing all of our efforts around true customer experience transformation and that’s a buzz term but actually doing the hard work to look to see how the entire company impacts the customer and that’s that gets me up every morning and it’s on my brain when I go to bed every night. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Talking about that on the brain every night, you and I had the opportunity to chat prior to recording and we started talking about how you and I and probably many people kind of have found the contact center as a career by default. And I would dare to say too when you start looking at the proliferation of the whole context center and customer centric focus for a lot of companies that has been by default but now they’re being more intentional. For us as people who’ve been around for a long time I think we kind of owe it to both ourselves and the industry to kind of make this a destination point because things are getting so complex that we need an entire skill lift to occur and that the context center could be a lifelong career. 

 

Matt Beckwith:    Yeah, absolutely. There’s so many of us, as you and I were talking about before, that as we go to industry events or we go to conferences and we speak to other people so many people’s stories are the same they started off in industry A and somehow they ended up in this and they look back after 20 years and they consider it an accident and I wonder too what that is going to look like for the next generation of leaders or next generation of customers and employees if we don’t do something to change the intentionality. If we start driving this as a career choice truly as a career choice around full cycle customer experience with all the exciting changes in technology especially we have to do more outreach as an industry as leaders to get people to want to do this. I’d love to go to college campuses in hear students say I want to get into customer experience work I want to work in a contact center because there’s a lifelong career ahead of that. I think we could do a lot better certainly for our future generations if more people intentionally—think of all the amazing things we’ve done by accidentally getting here, wow, and think of the power if we were intentionally getting here.

 

Jim Rembach:    I think that’s a great point. I think when you and I kind of said there was a little bit of a difference from your path because you kind of had this fascination of being an operator but for me I think operator will head a little bit different context you know way back then. However, it did get you into being someone who is actually leading an entire context operation for a lot of different industries. So, tell us a little bit about how all of that took place? I kind of read a little bit in the bio but, how did you actually really get interested in being an operator?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Well, the funny thing is my first call center job was a 411 operator but my first experience with an operator, my mother who believed in teaching my brothers and I how to be physically sound my twin brother and I got our first checking account I think at 13 years old a checking and a savings account she was a co-signer, and when there was a problem with our account or we had a question we called the bank and back then it’s a bank that’s become a big National Bank but I called the number that was on my statement that came in the mail and at that time it went to the bank but shortly after that I called that same number and it went to something that I could tell was not the bank and I learned about this and they called themselves the operator but they answered my questions. I was fascinated because I was a teenager and I thought they’re on the phone all day that’s what I wanted that was I how I equated it. What’s a customer first customer second the first is they sit on the phone all day and so here I was a very young teenager I might have been 13 and thought there’s a job where people are on the phone talking to people that’s the job that I want. It was always on the back of my mind like I said, I wanted a good work for a pencil factory I often wondered what my life would be like if I went to work for that pencil factory. But I got that 411 job and that started my career and sometimes it is dumb luck that happened but thankfully it did. 

 

Jim Rembach:    For myself there was a local 411 company it was actually an outsource for 411 company that therefore sold their services back to the carriers one of the things that I always found interesting about that particular 411 center is it kind of was a training ground for all of the other contact centers in the area. They would have people come in and for them, I think their turnover and tenure was really high but for us it was like a huge benefit because, I mean I wasn’t in that space, how did it differ from North Carolina which is where I was to California when you start looking at that type of business?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Well first I would say the times must have been different. Because I can tell you as much as I’m a contact center geek today I’ve always been a telephone company geek so I’ve always studied of history around the telephone company and the telephone but when I was in 411 the Public Utilities Commission didn’t allow for outsource 411 in fact the very first national outsource 411 was a company called Tell Me which eventually became 8855 Tell Me, they were the first national one. But back when I did it 25 years ago it was only in California. The Public Utility Commission only allowed Pacific Bell to do that and how different was it? We were not a feeding ground. I was the first person hired in that building that was not related to a phone company employee in the history of that building. I also was part of the team that transition from massive paper books that had listings to computers. And when the phone company decided to go to computers they didn’t buy computers they built computers. And because it’s the bureaucratic red tape phone company they didn’t build QWERTY keyboards they built keyboards that were three inches high and the letters went ABCDEFG on the top row they worked a regular QWERTY keyboard. So I remember complaining that when I went home to my typewriter it affected my ability to type. 

 

Jim Rembach:    There was zero innovation it was a couple years after and I continued to follow that industry for many years, there was a couple years after that they starting to become a competitive landscape certainly the ubiquity of cellphones and there was companies jumping in on that market when I was there only 411 was considered public utility and only the local telephone company was allowed to provide it. 

 

Matt Beckwith:    That’s really interesting because for me that starts resonating. I think I remember reading a story about this type of outsourced versus handled by the actual company. Something that happened in Connecticut where the state legislation that actually instituted a new law that said, you must provide it and you can’t outsource it anymore and that was a big buzz and that was probably ten years ago or more. I guess the whole regulation by state can make things dramatically different on how that service was actually delivered. I think it’s a great—to me that’s one of the things I think you were talking about connecting with other people within the industry, it’s amazing to me to see how much we do have in common but yet how much we do differ and that when we come together in that community and share these stories. Much like, hey, by default you came into the contact center somewhat but I was full default you mean I was retail and I actually had double majored in finance and real estate I wanted to be an investment banker well when I graduated in a recession they weren’t hiring people with my degree and so I needed to, like your parents taught you. I came from a blue-collar family myself, my dad actually overhauled aircraft engines for small aviation and my mother was a shop clerk taking care of invoices and fulfillment requests and all those kind of things and that’s where I came from. So it was like, hey, you need to support yourself so I had to find a job. I found a job working with a company in retail and for them they actually auto zone Auto Parts that does well in a recession so they were growing like crazy because people don’t sell cars or buy cars they work on cars during that time. And with that company found my way into the contact center and so it’s kind of like, hey that’s how strange these things happen. But when we start looking at the commonalities and the differences also you’re seeing more and more that being part of the association, but when you start talking about people seeing things and things differing where do you see most organizations from a contact center perspective differing a lot more so than being similar?

 

Jim Rembach:    I think we could talk for a week everybody does it the same but I think now everybody’s trying to find and certainly my involvement with our association our association is unique across most of the local associations across the country in that nearly half of our members are public employees so

Federal government or state of California government we call them the alphabet soup because they all go by these two letter N acronyms but they all for us because half our membership are public and half of them are private employers we still see this wide chasm of organizations that are trying to reinvent something maybe it’s because we’re in California and the mega centers are gone from California they’ve been gone for many years so you don’t have 300 400 seat centers anymore but you have organizations that are trying to do interesting things as its to recruiting we know the entire country’s in a tight labor market Northern California is feeling that  ten fold so how companies are going around getting better candidates how companies are retaining people how pay is changing in California. Thankfully with our association you see a lot of sharing you don’t see a lot of competitors in the same industry so then that allows for tons of sharing. You see public employee call centers public institutions sharing best practices with private companies. I say that the greatest area of innovation that we see amongst our members are around automation and AI and bots it’s the same stuff we hear across the country but on a much smaller scale because these might be smaller organizations or smaller departments. 

 

Matt Beckwith:    Well I think that’s a really interesting point. When you start talking about the whole labor aspects of where we are in this industry, I don’t think that’s going to change because even if we come into a scenario where we have more potential job candidates I think we’re going to run into because of those bots and AI and things of that nature that we’re going to have a skill issue  finding people that are able to come into an environment that is more complex than it once was because of all of those self-serve options doing what we need them to do handle the simple stuff. 

 

Jim Rembach:    However, when you start looking at the whole multi-channel aspects of a contact center now where I’m handling so many different types of interactions is that the entire door and windows are being open to the organization so people can contact us any way they want anytime they want and we have to be available to serve that. So again it goes back to that skill I think we’re going to see more and more folks being able to handle multiple types of interactions that we’re looking for to hire, an you do five different things at one time? 

 

Matt Beckwith:    Yeah, and that reminds me there’s a watermark for people like you and I that have been in this industry for a long time and that that watermark or that tree ring as I like to think of it is when IVR self-service took off. The reason that that’s a watermark is we were all managing. If we were managing budgets then we cared about average handle time more than anything and that’s how we staffed and all of a sudden we created this new whiz-bang technology at the time that happened I worked for a credit card company and we put together a pretty rudimentary IVR but it played your account balance right away, what did that do that chipped away at your basic call that was going to be 40 seconds anyway? And that began the challenge that we still think today which is that took away the easier casts from all of your agents which meant your average handle time wound up but your calls went down and as your business grew your calls went up to make up for that and you still have this same budget where you were working on a, I don’t know three minute handle time but even that handle time must exist cause 40 second calls are gone that happened in the early 90s and it’s happening again today but it’s happening today at a much different scale. I think back then the labor market at least in California was different what that meant was it was a made budgets type. Today it makes the labor market even tighter because of what you said then we have a skills gap it’s same verse song when I said we’ve been down this road before but it’s just magnified because of technology.

 

Jim Rembach:    I really like the way that you explained that talking about the watermark thing and that makes total sense and when that happened, and I even see it happening still today with other channels. For an organization the whole aspect of visibility was a significant issue so when it came to budget time, and I’m looking at the workload that we have to support in the contact center, if I didn’t have visibility into all of the things that you were referring to there and now all the visibility into the work that I have to do both on phone and off phone it all becomes part of my staffing model I am going to be totally wrong side and I’m not going to properly pitch the business need in order to be able to execute on that whole customer centricity thing. Because—okay, so now I have to do a better job of communicating across the entire organization, well how does that happen? It’s not smoke it has to be intentional it has to be managed. Same thing with all these different customer service channels who’s going to manage that bot being a good bot? Otherwise it’s going to be like that first IVR that rolled out, many of that have rolled out since it is not designed well it’s not constantly managed it’s not going to do its job. So the work I think is shifting but it’s still an important thing when you start looking at visibility. Do organizations have visibility into all of these channels and all of their off phone activity so that they’re doing a good job of being able to transform and be customer-centric?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Yeah, absolutely. It will be I think like with any technology it just makes the challenges that we’ve had in the past bigger. It may not make them all go away it just creates—I think there’s more there’s more scale today and there’s more at stake. Certainly in California you talk to any leaders no matter what industry you’re in it’s about the tight labor market and then that just makes it like I said 10 times harder. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, so talking specifically about Clark you mentioned the transformation that you guys are going through and you said you’re excited to see that. Most often that doesn’t happen with a flick of the switch I mean there’s something that happens and then it’s like, okay, we’ve made the decision we’re now going to be intentional we’re now going to move this forward. When did you see or could you tell, without giving any trade secrets, when that was going to happen it was going to flip it was going to start being intentional? 

 

Matt Beckwith:    Well, I’ll tell you I totally agree with you it’s never a switch and it wasn’t for us either it’s been very intentional. I am insanely proud to work for the organization where I work. We are family owned and operated still. Mr. Clark who found the business almost 70 years ago up until just a few months ago came to work every single day. His two grown sons run the business but he set the standard in 1950 being one man with one truck servicing customers. We are the most customer friendly organization I have ever worked for or seen in my entire life and when it comes to now focusing on a true cx-focus and true transformation it’s really now connecting all of the dots that want to be. So, for us we have leaders across the business that are eager to find out how do we better fine tune our voice of the customer? How do we go truly end-to-end and look at every single point along that journey? And so we’ve acknowledged that over the last couple of years that if we’re going to continue to grow we are going to focus on this and call it out specifically but so much of the work Jim we have already been doing. And so we have an incredible foundation I’m lucky because I’m involved in an organization that doesn’t have a lot of—there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit but that’s also makes it kind of challenging but we have an amazing foundation. For us it was about just acknowledging to everybody that there’s work to be done that we could get even better than we are today if we look at it holistically and every single thing that a customer goes through from the very beginning. From pre-acquisition to acquisition to service to even off-boarding and I think that’s where we are today. 

 

Jim Rembach:    One of the things when you start talking about the legacy of the organization and being able to refer back to many of the things that you’ve always have done is you start thinking about, okay, how are we getting creative and doing things new and not using some of that past history to drive some of our decisions? In other words, hey, we take what was good and what got us here and we continue to amplify that however we know we need to pivot and shift so that we don’t get disrupted. And so how are you bringing that into the business?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Well for one I consider myself a professional customer more so than I consider myself a professional customer service leader because I’ve been a professional customer since I was about nine years old I’ve always been that that person. My wife will sometimes look at me when I say something to her, she’ll notice I’ll take a quick note about something. I don’t have to go to contact centers I don’t have to go to pest control companies to learn about delivering amazing service there’s experiences in hospitals, there’s experienced in schools, there’s experience in restaurants, there’s experience at the deli that’s down the street from our corporate office they treat us amazingly well. The owner of that deli has taught me things about customer experience and it’s about taking those inputs from the outside and synthesizing them to say, what does that mean for our customer base? And socializing them amongst the rest of our leaders getting some buy-in and how does that translate into a project or something that we can try. 

 

One of the things I think is customer service leaders do to a fault is we think about our self as the customer, how would I view this? That’s a trap. Because I am literally one tiny, I’m not even a persona I’m a fraction of a persona, I care about what happens to much wider swaths of customers. Going to our local deli near the corporate office that has fed us very well and there’s lots of big catering jobs they’ve done some things and we think how do we apply that? How do we apply what they’ve done? And so we talk about those things all the time. We don’t say that we’re chasing the standard of the best pest control company because quite frankly we believe we’re one of them. But how do we chase USAA as it comes to customer facing technology? How do we match Chick-fil-a when it comes to service at the drive-thru? How do we match this deli when it comes to pricing options? And things like that. And that’s where I think we start learning and creating real innovation by looking outside of our business. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I think that’s a great point. Too many times I see where organizations stay within their own four walls and try to ideate and do that and it just doesn’t work you end up being a little bit better than you already are and you can’t afford that these days. Okay, so what we’ve been talking about here when you start talking about career when you start talking about finding right candidates when you start talking about change and all it’s just loaded with a whole lot of anxiety and emotion. One of the things that we do on the show is we look at quotes to help us stay pointed in the right direction, is there a quote or two that you’d like that you can share?

 

Matt Beckwith:    I’ve got two, two that rule my life. The first one by the great American writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear a word that you’re saying.  Jim that’s been my favorite quote my entire life and I’m not exaggerating I still get chills when I say it. That drives who I am as a leader that drives who I am as a contact center professional. Who you are speak so loudly I can’t hear a word that you’re saying, don’t tell me who you are show me who you are. The second one that has been a lot of fun throughout my life is from the tennis great, Martina Navratilova, the moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else. Talk about journey that’s what that quote means and I think about that all the time just because I wanted something or we had a success the journey matters just as much. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Thanks for sharing those. It’s kind of really interesting that you said that Emerson quote that it gave you a chill because when you said it did it to me too. I wonder if any of our listeners the same thing happen? Because that has so much depth to it, thanks for sharing them I appreciate that and I matter of fact when we get done here that quote is going to go up on the wall for my kids to see, I appreciate that. 

 

Matt Beckwith:    Thanks.

 

Jim Rembach:    So when we start talking about you know that career path when we start talking about having kids, grandkids all of that stuff you mentioned that you’re too young to have grandkids and for me I think I’m on the opposite end of that if I ever have grandkids that come shoot man I hope I’m still being able to move around and interact with them. When we start talking about all of those paths that we end up taking and where they take us there’s a lot of homes that we have to get over, is there a time where you’ve gotten over the hump that you can share with us?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Yeah, I’ll tell you, I’ve managed contact centers for so many years but there’s one moment where I almost took a detour and left if not for the sage wisdom of one of my best bosses of all time. My story’s not that dissimilar from anybody else that’s done this line of work. I was managing a large contact center in the banking industry and I just found myself bogged down by the things that I didn’t sign up for. Managing, leaves of absence a law changes or personnel issues even though they weren’t any more or less than any other contact center my size it just felt like that had the lion’s share of my mental space rather than the exciting innovative things that we wanted to do. And an opportunity came up for me to move into a completely different side of the business supporting our operational accounting group they wanted somebody that was not an accountant they wanted somebody with operations experience that could translate some of the financial stuff between operations and finance. 

 

The business partner I had worked with for many years created this new position for me and we had been talking to my manager at the time and my managers said I will support you a thousand percent if you want to move into this role but then he taught, his name is John Green, he taught me what we now called the John Green lesson the John Green diaper rule actually. He said, “Matt you love your children”, my children were much younger than they are today they were actually children not adults, and he said, “you always talk about your children you love raising your kids” and said, “You love every part of it?” And I said, “of course I love every part of it my daughters are my life.” He said, “You love those dirty diapers?” And I said, “No, not particularly.” He thought about the middle of the night dirty diapers, I said, “No, not particularly,” He said, “How does that change the overall love of your children?” I said, “Not one iota.” And then as wise as he is he just sat there and looked at me and I got it instantly. Sometimes you got to change dirty diapers and over that weekend after we talked about it I made the decision to not pursue that accounting role. And that was 13 years ago and I look back now, I still stay in contact with that former manager in fact the group of his direct reports he had a group of VPs that we’ve all stayed together very close we’re called the Green Team and we talked pretty regularly and get together when we can and we always talk about that John Green diaper rule amongst the other things we learned from him, and I think I would not be talking to you right now Jim I wouldn’t have the fun that I’ve had I wouldn’t have met the people I’ve had I wouldn’t have made the impact that I’ve made if he put me in an office and put me on spreadsheets in an adding machine 13 years ago. I lived that lesson every day and I’ve had employees they’re frustrated in a moment they want to they want a big drastic change, I support change, I tell them about the John Green diaper rule. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Thanks for sharing that Matt that was an excellent story and thanks to having more John Green’s into our life that can help us really provide some clarity we would definitely need that. Okay, everybody we’re talking with Matt Beckwith of Clark Pest Control and we’re going to break for a little bit of an announcement from one of our sponsors and we’ll be right back to do the hump day hoedown. 

 

An even better place to work is an easy-to-use solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone. Using this award-winning solution is guaranteed to create motivated, productive and loyal employees who have great work relationships with their colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work visit beyondmorale.com/better. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time to do the Hump day Hoedown. Okay, Matt, the Hump day Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. We’ll ask you several questions but your job is to give us robust and rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Matt Beckwith, are you ready to hoedown? 

 

Matt Beckwith:    Heck, yes.

 

Jim Rembach:    Alright so here we go. What do you think it’s holding you back from being an even better leader today?

 

Matt Beckwith:    We’ll Jim, although it’s less than it was yesterday and less than the day before that it still is doubt and fear doubt and fear and I tell myself every day less than it was yesterday but it’s doubt and fear.

 

Jim Rembach:    What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?

 

Matt Beckwith:    It has always been and always will be about your people. Nothing matters before your people.

 

Jim Rembach:    What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes your success?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Something my mother and my father taught me, life is too much fun and too short to leave to chance plan it out. I plan my week I plan my month I plan my year and I spend a lot of time after those reviewing what I just did to help me plan the next week, month, or year. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Absolutely without a doubt nearly 15 years ago I stumbled across manager tools the free podcast to help you be a better leader and still to this day how I learned how to do coaching one-on-one and feedback that helps me be a better leader every single day and I still rely on manager tools every day in my life.

 

Jim Rembach:    What would be one book that you’d recommend to our legion, it can be from any genre?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Well we’ve all read the same contact center books we’ve all read the same customer service books but I’ve been saying for many years the single greatest book that every contact center leader should read is the great Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner that groundbreaking book is just a bunch of their case studies but the reason it’s the best book for contact center professionals is it helps you separate the difference between causal and correlation and in our business every time we make a change in one place we think it caused a change in the other place and you spend time reading Freakonomics in the follow-up books you’ll understand causality and correlation much better.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/mattbeckwith. Okay, Matt, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question:  Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25. And you have been given a chance to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything back you can only choose one. What skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why? 

 

Matt Beckwith:    This is your hardest question isn’t it? The only thing that I would take back is that skill to be able to let go, live in the moment let go the things that you think are the biggest issues today I promise you in another week or month or a year you’re not going to think that. Life is short let go and go home early every now and then. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Matt it was an honor to spent time with you today, can you please share the fast leader Legion how they can connect with you?

 

Matt Beckwith:    Absolutely, thanks Jim, I’m all over the place but probably the best way is go to my blog it’s Contactcentergeek.com there’s links to where you’ll find me on LinkedIn and Twitter. I spend more time on Twitter today @MattBeckwith than anywhere else. Start at contactcentergeek.com you’ll see my thoughts on leading contact centers and also links to find everywhere else where I’m at online.

 

Jim Rembach:    Matt Beckwith, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader legion honors you and thank 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. 

 

END OF AUDIO 

 

 

Nick Friedman of College Hunks Hauling Junk

203: Nick Friedman: I wasn’t going it alone

Nick Friedman Show Notes Page

Nick Friedman started to franchise his company, College Hunks Hauling Junk in 2008, and then the economy collapsed. Nick and his partner struggled to move on. Then he found the confidence to keep going through a peer community of other leaders battling the same challenges.

Nick Friedman was born and raised in Washington, D.C. along with his older sister Allison. His parents are still married. His mom is a retired school teacher, and his Dad is a retired Ophthalmologist.

Nick was always taught to study hard so he could get good grades, get into a good school and get a degree to get a good job. However, he was never suited for that traditional path. He was an avid athlete in school and often got into trouble with teachers by speaking out of turn. He met his now business partner, Omar Soliman in 10th grade during detention.

The summer before his senior year of college, Nick was home for summer vacation where he had an internship at the International Monetary Fund. That’s when his friend Omar approached him with a beat-up cargo van and an idea to make money by moving people’s furniture and hauling away their unwanted items. They ended up calling themselves College Hunks Hauling Junk.

They wrote a business plan their senior year of college, which won an entrepreneurship competition. Upon graduating, they briefly had corporate jobs, which they quit to begin hauling junk full time.

Nick Friedman is now the President and Co-Founder of College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk & Moving, the largest and fastest growing junk removal and local moving franchise opportunity in North America. And the co-author of the bestselling book, Effortless Entrepreneur: Work Smart, Play Hard, Make Millions.

He has been named among the Top 30 Entrepreneurs in America Under 30 by INC Magazine and was named on the same list as Mark Zuckerberg as one of the 30 Most Influential CEO’s Under 30. Nick is a three-time Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award Finalist and the recipient of the prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year 2018.

He has been featured in numerous business books and textbooks, as well as Forbes, Fortune and many other national publications. Nick’s company has appeared every year on the INC 5000 list of Fastest Growing US Companies, and has appeared twice on the Oprah Winfrey Show and has appeared on the first episode of ABC’s Shark Tank, Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker, and CNBC’s BlueCollar Millionaires. He is also a Board Member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO).

Nick currently lives in lives in Tampa, Florida with his wife Jennifer and two daughters Elena and Calloway.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @NickFriedman1 to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet

“It’s what we built our business on, the client experience and team member experience, it’s been by design.” – Click to Tweet 

“Each individual in the company is the brand.” – Click to Tweet 

“The product our clients are buying are our people and the experience they have with those individuals.” – Click to Tweet 

“We really have the opportunity to remove people’s stress when we provide a memorable experience.” – Click to Tweet 

“You have to empower your team members to make decisions as if they own the company.” – Click to Tweet 

“Be a proud representation of the brand at all times.” – Click to Tweet 

“Don’t chase the money, chase the vision.” – Click to Tweet 

“Those financial rewards don’t happen nearly as fast as you wish they would.” – Click to Tweet 

“If you’re focused strictly on the number, you’re not going to get the same level of fulfillment or results.” – Click to Tweet 

“No overnight success happens overnight.” – Click to Tweet 

“Impatience is something you really have to tame because it can create tumultuous suffering.” – Click to Tweet 

“Being in a peer group of other leaders gave me the confidence.” – Click to Tweet 

“Leadership is all about being an inspirational leader, not being a dictatorial leader.” – Click to Tweet 

“Inspire others with the vision of where you’re going, don’t try to instruct them or direct them on how to get there.” – Click to Tweet

[optin-cat id=11101]

Hump to Get Over

Nick Friedman started to franchise his company, College Hunks Hauling Junk in 2008, and then the economy collapsed. Nick and his partner struggled to move on. Then he found the confidence to keep going through a peer community of other leaders battling the same challenges.

Advice for others

Be patient. Just know that life is going to work out and life is long.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Focus. I get distracted too easily distracted by new opportunities.

Best Leadership Advice

Leadership is all about being an inspirational leader, not being a dictatorial leader.

Secret to Success

Eating healthy and getting plenty of sleep and not taking life too seriously so you don’t get too stressed out.

Best tools in business or life

My iPhone is one of my favorite tools. The minute I have a thought in my head, I put it in my iPhone.

Recommended Reading

Effortless Entrepreneur: Work Smart, Play Hard, Make Millions

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

Contacting Nick Friedman

Website: https://nickfriedman.com

Website: https://collegehunksfranchise.com

Website: https://collegehunkshaulingjunk.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NickFriedman1

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/collegehunkshaulingjunk

Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

How Leaders Can Best Lead Leaders

Show Transcript:

Click to access edited transcript

203: Nick Friedman: I wasn’t going it alone

 

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.

 

Call center coach develops and unites the next generation of call center leaders. Through our e-learning and community individuals gain knowledge and skills in the six core competencies that is the blueprint that develops high-performing call center leaders. Successful supervisors do not just happen so go to callcentercoach.com to learn more about enrollment and download your copy of the Supervisor Success Path e-book now.

 

Jim Rembach:     Okay Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who is really going to give us a perspective of being able to deliver an experience holistically and extend it. Nick Freeman was born and raised in Washington D.C. with his older sister Allison. His parents are still married and his mom is a retired schoolteacher and his dad as a retired ophthalmologist. Nick was taught to study hard so that he can get good grades get into a good school get a degree and get a good job. However he was never suited for that traditional path. He was an avid athlete in school and often got into trouble with teachers by speaking out of turn. He met his now business partner Omar Soliman in tenth grade during detention. The summer before his senior year of college Nick was home for summer vacation where he had an internship at the International Monetary Fund that’s when his friend Omar approached him with a beat-up cargo van and an idea to make money by moving people’s furniture and hauling away their unwanted items. They ended up calling themselves college hunks hauling junk. They wrote a business plan their senior year of college which won an entrepreneurship competition. 

 

Upon graduating they briefly had corporate jobs but they quit to begin hauling junk full-time. Nick

Friedman is now the president and co-founder of College Hunks Hauling Junk and moving the largest and fastest-growing junk removal and local moving franchise opportunity in North America and the co-author of the best-selling book, Effortless Entrepreneur: Work Smart Play Hard Make Millions. He has been named among the top 30 entrepreneurs in America under 30 by Inc. magazine and was named on the same list as Mark Zuckerberg as one of the 30 most influential CEOs under 30. Nick is a three-time Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award finalist and recipient of the prestigious Entrepreneur of the year 2018. He’s been featured in numerous books and textbooks as well as Forbes, Fortune and many other national publications. Nick’s company has appeared every year on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing US companies and has appeared twice on The Oprah Winfrey Show and has appeared on the first episode of ABC’s Shark Tank, Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker, and NBC’s blue-collar millionaires. He’s also a board member of the young president’s organization. Nick currently lives in Tampa, Florida with his wife Jennifer and two daughters Elena and Callaway. Nick Friedman are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Nick Friedman:     I’m ready. Thanks for having me thanks for the warm welcome as the great extended intro there I appreciate the opportunity to be here. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Well we definitely want to know a little bit more about you. Hey, just that you’re the CEO and president I’m glad I had the opportunity to share that. I’ve given my leading 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?

Nick Friedman:     Yes absolutely. Like you mentioned in the intro I’m a proud father of two great young daughters that occupies a lot of my time energy and passions right now. I’ve kind of done away with most of my hobbies in exchange for that I’m also still leading and growing our company, College Hunks

Hauling Junk and Moving, we now have over 100 franchises around the country doing over a 100M in system-wide revenue annually. Needless to say that still takes a lot of time and energy to continue to grow and continue to make sure our team members are living our core values and our company is delivering on our purpose. I describe our company has a purpose-driven, values-based, socially-conscious organization so I just want to make sure we uphold that standard that we set out for ourselves from the very beginning. 

 

Jim Rembach:     I had the opportunity to meet you at customer contact week in Las Vegas and we chatted for a little bit, I’ll put a link to that brief discussion on your show notes page, but for me I find it extremely interesting when we had that discussion that we were talking about this whole human connection component and how you knew or found out realize that you had to build that connection internally in order for it to be extended to the customer and now you have to extend it to a customer you may never even touch. 

 

Nick Friedman:     Yeah, absolutely.  When we first started the business we had a catchy name and we thought that’s all we needed, a catchy name a bright logo bright colors. We had read a book called the

Purple Cow by Seth Godin it talks about if you’re driving down a country road you see a field of brown cows you’ve seen it before you’re  keep driving but if there’s a Purple Cow there you’re pull over take pictures put it on social media tell your friends and neighbors about it because it’s pretty remarkable. We thought we had a purple cow with the name and the colors which we did. It captured a lot of people’s attention but we quickly realized that if we didn’t provide something unique with the experience, both with our employee experience and then ultimately with the customer experience, then we were just another brown cow with maybe purple paint on it or what have you. And so we needed to make sure we provided that unique and remarkable experience and that was really what we built our business on is that client experience that team member experience and it’s been by design it’s been a very intentional focus since the very beginning and once we realized that important lesson. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Well, I think you even talked about how at the very early stages you had to do all of that. You even mentioned something about the 800 number and the forwarding and some calls that you had to take, tell us about it. 

 

Nick Friedman:     When we started the business we were doing all the work ourselves we were literally driving the truck we were hauling the junk we were answering the phones and we had the 800 number on the back of the truck routed to our cell phones and we would sometimes be multitasking maybe driving erratically. People would call the 800 number on the back of the truck to complain about the erratic driving. I’d be the one in the driver’s seat answering the phone apologizing saying  we don’t condone that type of driving and our company we’ll tell those guys to be safer out on the road thank you for reporting this to us. Find ourselves three or four times that first summer and one of our mentors recommended to us if we’re ever grow the business have a second office or second trucks let alone a second office or second location we needed to learn how to work on the business not just in the business. A lot of that boiled down to systemizing and creating processes for how we interact with the clients how we engage and train our team members and employees and creating systems and processes so that those elements can scale with the business scaling. Like you said, now that we have franchises all around the country we want to maintain that brand consistency at every client touch point every team member touch point so it’s so critical that we defined it. We started defining that from day one just creating checklists and documentation and those things have continued to evolve ever since then. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Actually a friend of mine who is a consultant to companies that are trying to get themselves ready for sale. When you start talking about where we are today with small businesses there are a lot of entrepreneurs and people who started businesses many, many, many years ago and they don’t have any family members to pass it down to and so they’ve got to sell their business. Literally right now we’re looking at millions of companies are facing this issue right now because when you start looking at the aging population there’s just a lot of businesses that are  be coming up for sale. However, when you start talking about those businesses one of the things that they struggle with is that they haven’t done all that documentation I think that has been an enablement for you to be able to grow for sure. However, the downside of that is if you do have a lot of processes and procedures and things like that you kind of zap the emotional connection out of the business because, hey, I’ve got to do this checklist and I don’t connect from a relationship perspective because I’ve got to follow a process. How do you keep that from being something that occurs for you?

 

Nick Friedman:     Well, we do it a couple ways. One of the things is we try to make sure we emphasize to everybody within the organization, actually one of our core values is always branding, and what that means is each individual in the company is the brand not just me not just the logo not just the image on the truck or the website each one of us is a walking, talking representation of the brand. You think about it as a service company in particular the product that our clients are buying are our people and the experience that they have with those individuals when they interact with them. And so what we did is we try to create a very holistic systemize process that’s engaged and interactive with onboarding our new team member like you said it doesn’t become just a regimented checklist somebody has to follow or go through the motions on. What we’ve done time is create an interactive process because the people that we’re hiring primarily in our company maybe 18 or 25 years old for the most part you tell them to provide good customer service and it’s not  connect with them compared to what our clients are expecting because maybe our clients are in their 40s and 50s with disposable income, our clients are eating at 5-star restaurants and staying at luxury hotels and maybe most of our team members are eating at fast food restaurants and maybe not traveling as much at this life stage and so what we’ve done is created an exercise where we re-document and outline what our clients expectations what are they likely to complain about which are typically missed expectations what can we do a hundred percent of the time to eliminate the complaints and then what are some above and beyond opportunities how can we reward and recognize those wow moments. 

 

Really what you want to do as a founder or an entrepreneur is not just systemize the process but to some degree systemize the passion and create a platform by which your team members can really shine and show that energy and enthusiasm. We’ve done that through development of our core values and put an emphasis on that. One of our core values also is listen, fulfill, and delight. We make that part of the way we operate that’s the way we do things. Another one of our core values is fun enthusiastic team environment so that creates an experience for our team members where it isn’t boring or where it isn’t sort of dull process driven only. I think those are ways that we’ve been able to scale the employee experience and the customer experience through systems and processes that aren’t just sort of glaze over going through the motions. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Thanks for sharing that because for me I started interpreting a couple things, really you’re communicating and conveying the vision going the purpose and you’re keeping it top of mind and constant focus and like what you had said you’re also giving them more than just, hey, go do this there’s more structure for it and it enables success. 

 

Nick Friedman:     There’s some buy-in from it because we’re not just handing my checklist it says do this we’re involving them in the exercise where we’re defining the client expectations when we do that training exercise. So there’s a sense of ownership and then a willingness to accept accountability with that as well. But then you hit a good point about the vision and the core values and the purpose for us we’ve got a lofty opportunity we’re not just moving people stuff moving is shown as number three next to death and divorce as the most stressful time in somebody’s life junk as it piles up in people’s garages and basements and attics has shown to create stress and anxiety so we’re really had the opportunity to remove people’s stress when we go in to provide a memorable or an stress-free type experience and you can’t systemize all of it. 

 

I will tell this one story we had a mover that was doing a move at an assisted living facility and he was in an elevator and there was an elderly woman in the elevator and the elevator got stuck and she was having sort of an anxiety attack because she couldn’t stand for an extended period of time so he actually got on his hands and knees and let her sit on his back while the elevator was being worked on and was getting fixed. So when the elevator opened up somebody snapped a picture of it because there was those kind of sights to be seen we posted it on social media ended up going viral and really sort of inspired quite a few people. But you can’t put in the operations manual what do you do if you’re stuck in an elevator and an elderly woman’s in there and the elevator gets stuck and she can’t stand? So that gets down to having a purpose and a set of values that you emphasize and use as a litmus test for who we hire and bring into the company how we train our team members how we reward and recognize them. So then it becomes engrained in their DNA as to how they’re going to operate or how they’re going to function. So they think resourcefully when they’re faced with an opportunity to make somebody happy or have a positive interaction with the company from a service standpoint. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Well I think that’s a great story and I’m glad you share it. You said something there that I think is so critical—think resourcefully. Because unfortunately when you start talking about service expectations and service delivery I think that’s where a lot of gaps actually occur. Meaning that if it’s outside of the box that person can’t think resourcefully and move forward. 

 

Nick Friedman:     Yeah. I was talking to a company yesterday and one of their core values is always do the right thing. And so yes there may be something in the procedural manual that says, we don’t open this meeting room at 9:30 we open it at 9:45, but what if somebody comes in is waiting and they’ve got their hands full with a bunch of bags and they need to put it down somewhere? Do the right thing open the meeting room at 9:30 let them in let them set their bags down. And so that comes down to empowerment because if you’ve got a set of criteria by which you operate which are typically the core values so you defined those you’ve got a set of service standards you then also have to empower your team members to make decisions as if they own the company. The questions I always tell our team members to ask themselves when they’re making a decision is, is it good for the customer? Is it good for the company? Is it in line with our core values? Is it ethical? Am I willing to be held accountable for it? If they ask themselves those five questions and the answer is yes then just make the decision don’t feel like you’ve got to get permission or don’t feel like you’ve got to refer back to the procedure manual that might say something differently. The procedure manual are set of guidelines that are in a framework but like you said you’ve got to have the empowerment to be resourceful with those decisions as well.

 

Jim Rembach:     And it’s so important and I also want to go back to something you said a moment ago when you had mentioned something about walking, talking, representation. Let’s look at the company name, College Hunks Hauling Junk, so what happens when a lady jumps out of the truck? 

 

Nick Friedman:     What we’ve done is we’ve defined our hunks as an acronym which stands for, Honest, Uniform Nice Knowledgeable service it’s more than just the physical representation or a personification of what we typically define with the word hunk and it really encompasses all of those elements. Is the person friendly, personable, professional, prepared to do the work? And so we do have female, we call them hunkettes playfully, but we do have female team members that work on the trucks it’s all about making that client connection it’s a conversation starter. They can show up and say, hey, I bet you were expecting a guy but I’m here to help move your furniture and I can do it just as good as the guys do. And then it creates a wild piece a wild experience as well. Same thing with the college element not a hundred percent of our team members are in college, the business started in college a lot of our team members are students but what we try to do is we try to create a conversation with the clients when we are performing the service. We talk about our team members talk about where they went to school where they’re going to school where they might be going back to school where they’re taking a semester off from, so again it creates a set of a level of rapport with the client. You’re right be a proud representation of the brand at all times. 

 

Jim Rembach:     One of the things we always talk about in our company is BTV-ready, conduct and carry yourself as if Oprah’s walking through the doors or following your truck around because even though she might not be, guess what? Everybody in your community is watching when that big orange and green truck drives up into the gas station and you’re hopping out or what’s your body language when you’re walking into the store how do you interact with passer buys when you’re wearing the uniform, all of those things matter because they impact the impression that people have on the brand. 

 

Nick Friedman:     It’s so true for me I always have to get a chuckle when I see somebody who is like a mobile car washing and their vans nasty. What we’re talking about here and obviously with the way that you have conveyed how you’ve built this rapidly growing franchise system is that you’re obviously someone who is looking for ways talking about that vision and being inspired and all of that and one of the ways that we do that on the show is that we look at quotes. So, is there a quote or two that you can share that you like? There’s a few, one that always has resonated with me is—don’t chase the money chase the vision—and what I mean by that is as entrepreneur we can sometimes get short-sighted by the scoreboard of the financial opportunities the financial rewards and in most cases those financial rewards don’t happen nearly as fast as you wish they would. There’s very few entrepreneurs that say I made more money faster than I ever thought I would because entrepreneurs are optimistic by nature they get into it thinking they’re going to be successful from day one and the timeline is typically longer and the work involved is simply much more difficult and you can become impatient and you can also start trying to shortcut the success if all you’re thinking about is the money and you might also give up. 

 

Same thing with your team members that are working for you if things are more difficult or the money’s not coming as quickly they may abandon ship and not help you achieve the long term vision that you’re trying to create if all is about the financial rewards. There could be some short-term motivation but ultimately the long term gain is not going to be there. That’s been probably my mantra that I remember quite regularly because we’ve been able to create some very passionate, committed and loyal team members even in the early days when the business was struggling and didn’t allow ourselves to get sidetracked by the financial elements when things weren’t going as well as we hope to, that’s probably my favorite quote. The other one is—work on the business not in the business—that’s one of the early quotes that we’ve heard and I think is repeated regularly to early stage entrepreneurs especially. You have to think to yourself are you starting a business that have certain levels of freedom of time freedom of money freedom of just energy? If so, and you want the business to be able to work for you not you always working for the business, you’ve got to create those processes and systems so that you’re adding value to the company that you’re not just doing frontline labor consistently. Yes, you have to start at the bottom and work your way up but you’ve got to have that mindset of being an owner. So those are two quotes that I think are always relevant and timeless. 

 

Jim Rembach:     For me as you were talking through those I started seeing that those quotes and how you elaborate it upon those could be done, even if I work in an organization, they could be done on me personally. Like, hey, it’s not that I should be losing ten pounds and focusing on losing 10 pounds what I should be focusing in on is healthier living and eating. 

 

Nick Friedman:     That’s a phenomenal example analogy, whatever you want to call it, that’s a great point that’s a great point. If your focus strictly on the number then you’re not going to get the same level fulfillment you’re not going to get the same level of results. But if you’re thinking about the big picture and the long-term vision and same thing whether it’s an employee thinking of what his all in the company and what he might achieve there they’re   be less devastated by the short-term setbacks that may come up from time to time. 

 

Jim Rembach:     I think what you’re saying right there is that whole short-term versus long-term thinking and knowing that—like you were saying I’m an impatient person so I want things to come faster than they really can conceivably ever show up. 

 

Nick Friedman:     Absolutely I think we all are. I certainly am the exact same way we do live in a world of instant gratification where you can get everything delivered or picked up at the press of a button or an answer with one quick Google click but the reality especially in the business realm is that nothing happens overnight no overnight success happens overnight. Even the unicorn businesses that you hear about in some cases maybe the equivalent of winning the lottery or in other cases, still took a long, long, long tail to get to where they are in terms of planning and effort. I think impatience is something that you really have to tame because it can it can create a sense of kind of tumultuous suffering in yourself if you’re not willing to kind of appreciate the process and the journey along the way. Also in the early days for our business when things weren’t happening as quickly as I wanted them to I would try to shortcut success. I would try to chase a new shiny object I try to chase a new business idea hoping that that would make me more successful more quickly or would work easier but it really was just an expensive distraction to what we were already on which was building a pretty, unique and successful enterprise. It just was going to take longer than I think my mind was letting myself appreciate it. That’s also a delicate balance too because the same impatience that we have is also what drives us to keep pushing and push harder but we have to temper it we have to sort of tame the beast to some degree and you’ll be much more fulfilled along the way doing that. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Yeah, those are all great points what you just explained right there is really kind of the premise behind the Fast Leader show. You can take shortcuts all you want but that’s not the fast road. 

 

Nick Friedman:     That’s right that’s a great point that’s a great way to put it I love that. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Fast leader is doing things right building upon and going back to—we could take the easy road now but that’s   lead to the hard road later or we can take you now because that’s give us the gift to the easy road, same thing with fast leader. 

 

Nick Friedman:     There really is something to the notion of momentum and it picks up over time and it’s sometimes hard to notice when it when there’s a shift and that’s where the patience comes in. Jim Collins talks about it and he calls it the flywheel effect. When you first start your business it’s like you’re pushing this big giant disk this oversized stone disk and you might be just inching it forward at the beginning and you’re having to put the same amount of effort eventually the thing is starting to rotate a little bit easier and easier and eventually it’ll kind of pick up its own speed of momentum where you’re just kind of like a merry-go-round at the playgrounds where you’re just kind of pushing it as it goes by. So things do get easier momentum does pick up but it’s certainly not an overnight endeavor. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Definitely. Talking about momentum and getting over humps is that I’m sure when you start talking about going through college and making your way through that, building the business becoming a parent all of those things there’s a lot of humps that you’ve probably had to go over that put you where you are today. Is there one of those times where you can actually share that story? 

 

Nick Friedman:     Yeah, I think the most impactful for me was—we started franchising our company right around 2008 and if you remember the economic climate 2008 to 2009 and 2010 that couple of year window, everything was going down and when we started franchising it was still kind of right at the peak so in our minds we were like thinking, okay, we’re  become multi-millionaires overnight we’re start franchising this business the economy is crank and the housing market is cranking and then all of a sudden we started franchising and everything collapsed and our reality just was overnight kind of shifted altogether. So there was plenty of sleepless nights where we were wondering to ourselves, hey, is this thing going to make it? Should we just go fold up and go get a graduate degree and then try to apply for a job in a couple years when the economy turns back around? So we were having all those self-doubt talks to ourselves and amongst my business partner and even my family and my parents. But I think what that did for us is it really made us better business people because in a booming economy I think it’s easy to sort of just kind of ride the wave with everybody else but when things are down you have to sort of scrape together we talked about the resourcefulness element of it become more strategic how you’re  invest your money how you’re get more revenue and that was actually the time where we really expanded from primarily offering junk removal to doing junk removal and moving services to kind of expand our sandbox of available revenue opportunities. So, ultimately it was a great lesson a great experience but it was certainly a very dark down moment at the time. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, you have to share with me when you start talking about that dark down moment, what is something that you were actually able to hold on to that allowed you to get through? 

 

Nick Friedman:     One of the things was surrounding myself with other entrepreneurs they were dealing with the same challenges at the time. I had joined this group called the entrepreneurs organization, EEO, kind of a global group of entrepreneurs with relatively high growth companies. We were in a smaller forum setting where we were kind of sharing our challenges and difficulties. Being able to share I realize that I guess I wasn’t alone because a lot of times as an entrepreneur you feel like you’re on an island, or as a leader in in in any capacity for like you’re on an island, and being in sort of a peer group of other leaders that were sort of muscling through the uphill battle and the uphill climb the same way that we were that gave me I guess the confidence to know I wasn’t going it alone and that there were other people that were   fight and a lot of them would say, hey, our mantras we’re not give up we’re never quit we’re just keep going and so I use that as motivation for me to just kind of dig deep and keep going. It also helps having a business partner in my case who happened to be one of my friends from high school. A lot of times when there’s economic strain it can put a strain on the relationship but it actually I think improved and strengthened our bond because we were able to support each other and get through it together. 

 

Jim Rembach:    So when you start looking at where you are today and being a young dad having all of these accolades and aspirations but when you start thinking about what’s next for Nick, what’s one of your goals? 

 

Nick Friedman:     For us we have a few different visions with the company. Personally, with the company we want to become recognized and revered as an iconic brand that spans really beyond the moving & hauling industry. If you think of those iconic brands like—take Harley-Davidson people will wear those t-shirts they don’t even drive that motorcycle which is the product Harley-Davidson sells because people identify with what that brand represents the freedom to renegade open road. So I want people to associate our brand with leadership development with entrepreneur inspiration with company culture with great service so that’s what we’re really striving for from an ideological perspective. Size wise we want to be at 200 franchises within the next three years we want to make sure that our franchise owners are averaging a million dollars in revenue per territory that they’re happy and profitable and growing each year. And then from a personal standpoint some of the, I guess ambitions that I have that I told myself at an early age I would pursue at some point of my adulthood, I would love to be able to coach high school basketball at some point. In college I would say to myself, hey, I want to be able to be successful professionally by the time I’m 40 so that I can have the flexibility and choice to be able to kind of do whatever I want and what I always have wanted to be able to do at some point is coach high school basketball. I would love to be able to do that I would love to be able to do some more public speaking and share some of my story and experiences to help inspire other people to pursue their goals. Those are some of my future vision aspirations not just for the company but for myself as well. 

 

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. 

 

An even better place to work is an easy-to-use solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone. Using this award-winning solution is guaranteed to create motivated, productive and loyal employees who have great work relationships with their colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work visit beyondmorale.com/better. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time for the Hump day Hoedown. Okay, Nick, the Hump day Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. We’ll ask you several questions but your job is to give us robust and rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Nick Friedman, are you ready to hoedown? 

 

Nick Friedman:     I’m ready to hoedown, let’s do it. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today? 

 

Nick Friedman:     I think what’s holding me back from being an even better leader today is, focus, focus, focus, focus. I still get distracted too easily by new opportunities new ventures or small trivial things that are preventing me from achieving my best. 

 

Jim Rembach:     What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?

 

Nick Friedman:     The best leadership advice I’ve ever received is, leadership is all about being an inspirational leader not being a dictatorial leader. So, inspire others with the vision of where you’re going don’t try to instruct them or direct them on how to get there. 

 

Jim Rembach:     What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success? 

 

Nick Friedman:     The secret that contributes to my success is eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep and not taking life too seriously so that you don’t get too stressed out.

 

Jim Rembach:     What is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life? 

 

Nick Friedman:     Honestly, my iPhone is one of my favorite tools because I write everything down in it. The minute I have a thought in my head I put it in my iPhone because I know if I try to sink it in my head I’m just going to have a merry-go-round going around trying to remember what that epiphany or idea was. So everything in my iPhone is how I stay organized. 

 

Jim Rembach:     What would be one book that you’d recommend to are legion and it could be from any genre, of course we’re going to put a link to, Effortless Entrepreneur on your show notes page as well. 

 

Nick Friedman:     I think the book that everybody should read is How To Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. It’s a little bit of an older book he’s most well-known for How to Win Friends and Influence People but I think How To Stop Worrying and Start Living is just a really good reminder again how to keep things in perspective and not get overly stressed out which when you’re in a leadership position it can happen very quickly. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Okay, Fast Leader legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/nickfriedman. Okay, Nick this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25. You can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take it all back you can only choose one. What skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why? And here’s a thing, 25 weren’t too long ago for you so you remember it quite well. 

 

Nick Friedman:     Yeah, we talked about it already and this is an easy one, patience, patience, patience, patience. Just know that it’s going to work out life as long as long as you don’t step off the wrong edge of the cliff and just have patience in the process and trust that things are going to work out. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Nick it was an honor to spend time with you today can you please share with the Fast Leader legion how they can connect with you? 

 

Nick Friedman:     Absolutely. I have my own personal website, nickfriedman.com. You can also go to collegehunksfranchise.com if you want to learn more about our franchise opportunities, collegehunkshaulingjunk.com if you need moving or junk removal services and then of course if you go to my main website all my social media links are there. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, Instagram Facebook, Twitter all those sorts of things. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Nick Friedman, 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. 

 

END OF AUDIO 

 

 

Glenn Elliott - Build It

195: Glenn Elliott: Get on with it and stay resilient

Glenn Elliott Show Notes Page

Glenn Elliott was trying to grow his company by building a sales team. He had six false starts, received tons of advice and counsel, hired a guru that nearly bankrupted him just to find out that the answers he was seeking could be found by falling flat on his face.

Glenn was born in the North of England in the UK and has spent the last 25 years living in London.

At school he was lucky to meet a Physics teacher who taught business enterprise in the lunch break and that led him to run a number of businesses whilst a young teenager, setting the seeds for his later career.

He left school and studied computer science at university becoming a programmer at the phone company. A 10-year career there saw him move into project management – leading teams of people and that’s where he started learn how big companies disengage their people and also what environment people need to be in to do their best work.

He dropped out of an MBA after just one year finding it too theoretical and leaning too much on “how to be a good corporate manager” rather than how to start a business. Then he jumped ship from the corporate to start a series of businesses. His fourth attempt was marginally successful – a design and marketing agency – and that kept him occupied for 8 years whilst learning more about how to motivate, engage and inspire the people around him.

But it was his fifth business that really made a mark – Reward Gateway, an HR technology business with revenues of over $1bn that counts everyone from McDonalds, IBM, KPMG and many others as clients. He led that business as CEO for 11.5 years growing it to 2,000 clients and 400 staff across 9 countries before stepping down last summer to a new non-executive role as Founder. He has sold Reward Gateway twice to Private Equity investors and remains the company’s largest non-institutional shareholder.

Glenn is the author of Build It: The Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement and he’s most proud of the environment he created at work and the culture that made Reward Gateway successful. His Glassdoor CEO approval rating was 99% and the company ranks on the Great Places to Work to list and most recently was ranked the 13th Best Place to Work for Women in the UK.

Glenn lives in London, UK with his husband, Kristian, and a daschund called Wesley.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @glennelliott to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet

“If you want to do your best work, you can’t do that from a position of exhaustion and burnout.” – Click to Tweet 

“If I want to be the best leader I can, I have to prioritize my own mental and physical health.” – Click to Tweet 

“Business performs as a marathon, not a race.” – Click to Tweet 

“In every job there is a recognition culture.” – Click to Tweet 

“In every job there is a learning culture.” – Click to Tweet 

“It’s difficult to imagine how someone who doesn’t trust anybody at work is going to be described as an engaged employee.” – Click to Tweet 

“I haven’t found any company worldwide that has made significant progress with employee engagement without tackling their culture of open and honest communication first.” – Click to Tweet 

“If you want to improve employee engagement in your culture you need to fundamentally look at how you treat people.” – Click to Tweet 

“Some managers and leaders don’t understand why they need to say thank you and be appreciative – and they need to be trained because they’re wrong.” – Click to Tweet 

“When you’re doing employee recognition, it’s about how you make someone feel, it’s not about the gift.” – Click to Tweet 

“So many recognition programs are ruined by the money.” – Click to Tweet 

“Immerse yourself in a lot of different viewpoints.” – Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Glenn Elliott was trying to grow his company by building a sales team. He had six false starts, received tons of advice and counsel, hired a guru that nearly bankrupted him just to find out that the answers he was seeking could be found by falling flat on his face.

Advice for others

Build tolerance for people that don’t think the same as you.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Being more comfortable with being vulnerable.

Best Leadership Advice

Be more vulnerable with your people.

Secret to Success

Work hard, counsel widely and then make your own decision. Decide yourself what to do.

Best tools in business or life

My Mac.

Recommended Reading

Build It: The Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement

Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility

Contacting Glenn Elliott

website: http://www.rebelplaybook.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/glennelliott/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/glennelliott

Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

An Even Better Place to Work

Show Transcript: 

Click to access edited transcript

195: Glenn Elliott: Get on with it and stay resilient


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.

 

Call center coach develops and unites the next generation of call center leaders. Through our e-learning and community individuals gain knowledge and skills in the six core competencies that is the blueprint that develops high-performing call center leaders. Successful supervisors do not just happen so go to callcentercoach.com to learn more about enrollment and download your copy of the Supervisor Success Path e-book now.

 

Jim Rembach:     Okay, Fast Leader legion. Today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who has developed an incredible system and framework a great visual and great depth into understanding how to create a better engaged workforce. Glenn Elliott, was born in the North of England in the UK and has spent the last years living in London. At school, he was lucky to meet a physics teacher who taught business enterprise in the lunch break and that led him to run a number of businesses about the young teenager. Setting the seeds for his later career, he left school and studied computer science at University and became a programmer at the phone company. A ten year career there saw him move into project management leading teams of people that’s where he started to learn how big companies disengage their people and also what environment people needed to be in order to do their best work. He dropped out of an MBA program after just one year finding it too theoretical and leaning too much on how to be a good corporate manager rather than how to start a business. Then he jumped ship from the corporate to start a series of businesses. 

 

His fourth attempt was marginally successful. It was a design and marketing agency and that kept him occupied for eight years while learning more about how to motivate, engage and inspire the people around him. But it was his fifth business that really made a mark, Reward Gateway, an HR technology business with revenues of over a billion dollars that counts everyone from McDonald’s, IBM, KPMG and many others as clients. He led that business as CEO for eleven and a half years growing it to two thousand clients and four hundred staff across nine countries before stepping down last summer to a new non-executive role as founder. He has sold Reward Gateway twice to private equity investors and remains the company’s largest non-institutional shareholder. He’s most proud though of the environment he created at work and the culture that made Reward Gateway successful. His Glassdoor CEO Approval rating was ninety nine percent and the company ranks on the great places to work list and most recently was ranked the thirteenth best place to work for women in the UK. Glen lives in London, UK with his husband Christian and a dachshund called Wesley. Glen Elliott are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Glenn Elliott:     Yeah of course, I am Jim. Thanks for having me on the show. 

 

Jim Rembach:     I’m glad you’re here. Now I’ve given my legion a little bit about you. But can you share what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?

 

 

Glenn Elliott:     Well, my current non-work passion is health and fitness. So, after eleven years in—why is a tough job a CEO? Twenty years of coming before that to I’m having a real investment in myself. So, I’m training every day and reaching really well and in best shape of being in my life, So, that’s my current kind of non-work passion definitely.

 

Jim Rembach:     You bring up a really interesting point about that whole potential burnout at work thing and I see a lot of folks really dealing with that, and so well, we’ll get into the engagement component and the things that you have in a book called “Build It: The Rebel Playbook for World Class Employee Engagement, how much did you find, since you’re talking about that being your passion, that whole physical wellness was a contributing factor to the whole engagement aspects for your organization? 

 

Glenn Elliott:   It’s interesting, if you want to do your best to work you can’t do that from a position of exhaustion and burnout. I learned that from Arianna Huffington I was fortunate enough to see her speak at the HubSpot inbound conference and I think it was 2013 in Boston where she was just kind of launching her book Thrive and it was a keynote presentation that have left a real mark on me. In fact, I have a half-written blog article called “Arianna Huffington Saved My Life“. It was interesting  the time she did that I was thirteen it took five years ago I’ve been CEO-ing for seven years in this current business and I always put the business first I put the my people first then I came pretty much last. And I was familiar with the language of work-life balance and I was thinking I was just choosing to focus on work. In Arianna’s talk what she said is it’s not about work-life balance it’s about integration and what she said is the key job of a leader is to kind of see what’s coming what’s ahead be in touch with the side guys and know what’s coming around the corner that your other staff can’t see and you can’t do that from a position of being exhausted and burnt out. 

 

So the kind of light bulb that I got from Arianna was if I want to be the best leader I can and if I want the company to be as successful as it possibly could I have to prioritize my own mental and physical health in order to do that. Arianna Huffington talk in 2013 marked a real change in how I approached my health so I started prioritizing the gym every day. Right back then, I submitted part of my thing I decided to not be ashamed of it. I would say no to board meetings if they clash with the gym rather than canceling the gym because of the board meeting because you could put the board meeting at different time of the day. So I made the gym an immovable part of my day and I found that combined with a little bit better sleep really made a significant difference in how I was able to perform at work.

 

Jim Rembach:      I think you really bring up some interesting points. And I was actually having a conversation the other day with an administrator of a school and we were talking about setting a tone being able to have boundaries and being able to set a vision and say, okay,  this may have been what we’ve done for the past thirty years however, this is who we are and this is who were going to strive to become and this is the path that we need to take in order to be able to get there and immediately, he came back to me with a defense mode or defense mechanism which was about, well gosh, we may  upset some people and I’m like, if you always take that position of defense you’re never going to fall forward and move forward.

 

Glenn Elliott:     Yeah it’s true. I never set out of my life to upset anybody, however, you can’t please everyone all the time. One of the things I’ve learned most about business in the last 20 years is business performance is a marathon not a race. And I think there’s a lot of language around business about, they kind of like bravado and about kind of like this kind of broad approach to business about running through walls like charging as fast as you can and taking all prisoners all that kind of Travis Kalanick kind of rubbish which I just don’t buy into. I think success in business is about long-term sustainable performance across a large number of people, it’s a marathon not a race. I don’t believe that the company’s best output—in my business the (7:54 inaudible) of a curse when all four hundred people have exhausted themselves by Thursday and they have nothing left to give on Friday, so I (8:01 inaudible) by that. 

 

Jim Rembach:     For me when you say that I started thinking about how a lot of people talk about give a hundred and ten percent, I’m like—there’s only a hundred. 

 

Glenn Elliott:     It’s kind of like masculine thumping language and stuff and it sounds cool for a second but it’s exclusive for a story there’s a whole bunch of people don’t feel comfortable with it so you lose that talent they lose their best output too and I just don’t think it’s the best way to work.

 

Jim Rembach:     I guess really what we’re talking about here does come into the part of the engagement bridge. When we’re starting to talk about one of the underpinnings. The engagement bridge—you talk about connecting elements and beams and then you talk about underpinning elements and the rocks the things that really have to be the stability components that you can build your bridge upon. And you have ten that are part of the engagement bridge but one of the underpinning elements is well-being and we were kind of talking about well-being.

 

Glenn Elliott:    Absolutely.

 

Jim Rembach:     And then the other two underpinnings that you have are pay and benefits and workplace. So let’s get a little bit of clarity around underpinnings, what do you really mean by that?

 

Glenn Elliott:    The bridge is a ten element model there are ten things on it and it’s not designed as a kind of a ten point recipe—do these ten things and bingo you’ll have employee engagement, if only life was that simple it would be lovely, but it’s not it’s a lens to look at your organization through to look at the relationship you have with your people and make your own judgment decision about where you need to do some work things need to change. So, these ten elements if you look at the bridge they run from side to side but there’s three of them which don’t, they kind of say, as anchors at the bottom and they don’t cross across. That’s because I wanted to make the specific point that you cannot engage your people with those elements by themselves. It’s a mistake which has been purported by my industry actually for quite a long time. A big part of the HR tech industry is the employee benefits industry. Over in the US it’s a huge industry largely dominated by healthcare. And I’ve been through a million campus and presentations where people would say, yeah, you can engage your staff just do this just give them some better benefits and better communication then magically they will become engaged. Of course, they don’t. Engagement is about understanding the direction and the strategy of the organization the mission of the organization and buy in to it and thinking if that’s worthwhile. It’s about understanding how your role affects the success of that mission and it’s about you feeling really connected and good towards the organization and passionately wanting the organization to succeed. And therefore, you’re willing to put yourself out put the organization’s needs ahead of your own sometimes to make that happen, none of those things are affected by your paying benefits. 

 

They’re affected by things like leadership, by management culture, corporate values, by honest and transparent communication, by recognition, by job design, by learning development environment they are the things that really create engagement. But if you have a complete absence of underpinning elements you have a complete absence of paying benefits works best in well-being it can be really difficult to build that bridge on top. If your entire workforce is stressed out and is barely coping, if they are unhappy with pay which interestingly everyone thinks people are unhappy with pay because they’re not being paid enough and that is sometimes true and that changes at different times of your life constitute your needs to change, but actually the biggest issue I see with pay is about fairness about people feeling they are fairly paid compared to others that they see around them that they can compare themselves to and it’s something which companies are quite bad at, about paying fairly. So, that’s the difference between the underpinning elements and the elements that run across the top.

 

Jim Rembach:      I think to me when you start thinking about these elements that run across the top I think you kind of hit the point is that it really gets into the particular elements that will amplify some of these things that were seeing as underpinnings, right? And I would dare to say, you probably want to include as many of them as you possibly can. You say that it’s not a checklist or things like that but I would dare to say that you really need to focus in on including every element single of this elements.

 

Glenn Elliott:    All the elements exist in every job. In every job there is a recognition culture the answer might be I never get thanked for anything that’s what we get from our people, in every job there is a learning culture which might be—I’m not developing I’m going nowhere. These things exist it’s whether or not you choose to prioritize and do something positive with them this year or next year or you’re going to leave it to later that depends on the organization. You get a context where you’re at what you’ve got control of what you pay for can make a difference and that’s what’s really important. As I said it’s not a ten point checklist—start here go there, the slight exception to that is open and honest communication which is the longest element. If any of the listeners gets to see the bridge—just Google it—you’ll see that the longest element is across the middle, open and honest communication. The reason that’s kind of important is it’s so closely linked with employee trusts. There’s some really great data from Edelman the New York-based research agency, they’ve been studying trust in the workplace for nearly three decades, and what they find is that about half of people don’t trust their CEO about half don’t trust their boss and about half don’t trust their colleagues. It’s difficult to imagine how someone who didn’t trust anybody at work it’s going to end up being described as an engaged employee bringing their whole selves to work and doing everything they can to make company successful. I haven’t really found any company worldwide that has made significant progress in employee engagement without tackling their culture and have opened honest communication first.

 

 Jim Rembach:     Yeah, I think you bring up an excellent point about that trust piece. I do a lot of work with frontline leaders and contact center environments and there’s a statistic from a report that came out that said only thirty three percent of frontline employees actually believed that their frontline supervisor is effective so that goes back into that trust component thing it’s actually less than the half that you’re talking about. And so when you start thinking about that frontline person who’s really the one who’s impacting what happens  in your company because they’re directly interacting with the customer that’s huge that’s a huge impact. 

 

Glenn Elliott:   That’s absolutely.

 

Jim Rembach:     Okay, so the connecting elements are, like you had mentioned, the open and honest communication, purpose, mission and values, leadership, management, job design, learning and recognition and I love what you had said is that people may say well, we don’t have a recognition  programs, it’s like, yes you do called nothing.

 

Glenn Elliott:     Yeah absolutely. It was fascinating about recognition actually it is one of the areas where the most money is spent. In the States, over in the U.S., American employers spend 48 billion dollars per year it’s two percent of the American payroll, 48 billion dollars on employee recognition. However, when you interview employees 87 percent of them don’t believe there was any recognition at work and their figures from person that purchase and it’s because the majority of money is being spent on ten year recognition so long service awards, this was the oldest products in the industry the oldest form of employee recognition, and the problem is it’s completely ineffective. It’s been running for years many, many companies feel that they can’t withdraw it because they were either someone approaching their 25th anniversary they will be disappointed that they don’t get the—whatever it is. But it’s complete waste of money because for a start our young Millennials and generation following them said on staying in jobs long enough to get anywhere near the employee award anyway. But if you think about their completely indiscriminate awards regardless of your performance, regardless of how you live our values, regardless of what you do for your customer if you just sit still for five years and avoid getting fired and don’t leave we’ll give you 50 dollars and a gift certificate so it doesn’t do anything to reinforce values or reinforce what you’re trying to do. My co-host Deborah Corrie, her analogy is like, your husband doesn’t tell you that he loves you apart from every five years where he says, I love you darling but just because you haven’t left me yet. 

 

Jim Rembach:     I think you bring up a really valid point. A lot of times people are saying gosh, I wish they would just leave. I think it’s really important for us to point out here because while you were founding and still  have now had the founding non-working title of the company Reward Gateway, I had Susan Fowler, with Blanchard company for many years and she’s the author of the book called, Why Motivating people Doesn’t Work with us and she was actually episode 72 on the Fast Leader Show, she talks about a lot of these types of HR solutions HR tech that focused in on rewards and all that other stuff she talks about it as junk food. And I would dare to say that after going through and looking at your book and looking at Reward Gateway and the work that you’re doing there is that to me I see almost any type of tool could be used for a bad also it could be used as a potential substitute. Meaning that, okay, if I’m an organization I’m saying, well, open and honest communication purpose leadership—ahh let’s just give them some stuff and let’s use a company like Reward Gateway and to me I think that’s what may turn it into junk food. 

 

Glenn Elliott:     I completely agree since we talked about this a lot at work. Fundamentally, if you want to improve employee engagement your culture you need to fundamentally look at how you treat people. That’s hard—it’s actually really easy and it’s also very cheap you’re normally changing policy rather than buying something. But people find it hard because of organizational inertia. What they find it easier to do is to buy a tech products and kind of stick it on the side and think will that do the job? And of course it won’t. My company sell all sorts of employee recognition products and that’s lovely and a great tools if you want to use them but I always say to people if you want to start an employee recognition you can start this afternoon you can go to the card store buy a box of thank you cards and some stamps get HR to give you access to people’s home addresses and start thinking about who am I grateful here in this organization? They might have not done something done something awesome yesterday. Who do I think—I’m going to make sure they know how valued they are and that they’re seen and that they’re visible and I was going to write them a little note saying, hey, John I just wouldn’t let what you do for us is really important and I see you and I’m really grateful for it, best wishes Glenn. Stick it in the mail, that’s it. You will change that person’s week they’ll make their month they will keep that card for the rest of their career and it’s going to cost you the cost of a stamp. It’s an attitude I think we see recognition programs fail all the time because people buy the tech but they don’t invest the time in talking to managers or the exec team in saying what they bought and why and how to use it and why it’s important. You’ve got to overcome that. Some managers and leaders don’t understand why they need to say thank you and be appreciative and they need to be trained because they’re wrong. They need to be trained they need to be explained that as humans we perform much better when we are seen, when we feel that we can. And if we feel that we’re invisible we feel that no one really knows or cares if we’re here or not our performance suffers, that simple. 

 

Jim Rembach:     A great point. Now what we’re talking about here when we refer to engagement when we refer to doing those things as far as showing appreciation there’s a whole lot of emotion wrapped up in it. And one of the things that we looked at on the show are quotes to help hopefully spur some emotion and get us going in the right direction. Is there a quote or two that you like that you can share? 

 

Glenn Elliott:     The first quote that comes to mind that probably appropriate some Maya Angelou quote, she is an amazing woman I could listen her or read her all day. She says, People will forget what you said they’ll forget what you did but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. And I think it’s that thing about when you’re doing employee recognition it’s about how you make someone feel. It’s not about the gift or the size of the gift certificate or what you buy them. In fact, so many recognition programs are ruined by the money because what happens is as soon as an employer decides that they’re going to attach money or a gift to thank you suddenly there comes this horrific bureaucracy of sign offs and approvals which drags the whole thing down. I learned this when I was at the phone company where I did a special project and my boss’s boss thought it was great and he thanked me for it I felt really proud and really pleased and he said he was going to put me forward for an Innovation award a year and a half later I get a letter from HR, I’ve never met before saying that one—I’d forgotten what the project was by then. The fact that it taken them a year and a half to give me a gift certificate made me feel less valued than when that guy just said thank you. If you want to attach gifts of money fantastic but only do it in a way which doesn’t turn this into a bureaucratic nightmare. 

 

Jim Rembach:     I think that’s a great point. I’ve even tried to do some of that type of instruction and coaching to my kids for Father’s Day, I’m like, do not get me anything don’t buy me anything I don’t want anything. I said I want you just to do something for me, show me that you appreciate me. Try to get them to understand that recognizing people or whatever reason isn’t about getting them a gift card or buying them something it’s that’s not what it’s about. Unfortunately, in our society that’s what we have come to use as our default. 

 

Glenn Elliott:     It’s not, it’s the message. What my favorite is probably the personalized thank-you card and a stamp but frankly, a telephone call is just powerful. If you’re working in an organization and the CEO or director or somebody unexpectedly calls you up and you think, oh, what do they want? And they say, hey, John I’m just calling to let that I think you’re doing a really great job and I’m really, really grateful for it and I just want to let  that it’s seen and it’s not taken for granted. That call takes a minute to make and you will change that person as well. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Totally. Okay, I am sure that when you start talking about this journey into where you are today and talking about the multiple startups and going through and finally getting to your forty, which by the way if you only had to go to your forty to find some positive gain and benefit that in itself is extraordinary because many go through forty and fifty but I’m sure you had a lot of humps to go over to get over that actually has caused you to be where you are and in a direction that you are going. So is there a time where you had to get over the hump where you can share? 

 

Glenn Elliott:     Oh, yeah. There were so many humps as you start. Early months and years we were five people we started with an idea we had such a lot to learn getting your first customer is a major milestone getting a second is a milestone getting the third and the fourth. Getting your first customer that actually is going to pay you a decent amount is often a separate milestone because it needs must and to get a name on the board you’ve also got to do some pretty creative pricing. I think there have been so many working out our pricing policy was super tough. I think probably the biggest hump I got over in my early years though was actually working out how to build a sales team. I funny I was just thinking about this yesterday because I was talking to a CEO she’s got a business also Neo tech she’s a few years younger than us and she was just about to set up her first sales team hire her first salesperson and remembered how tough it was for us I must have had six false starts six different people who I hired and they couldn’t do it. I hired the wrong person I had them in the wrong set up I had them in the wrong structure given them the wrong tools it wasn’t just their fault it was mine too. It took a good year and a half before I met the first guy who actually could sell for us. I can remember in his job interview he said to me what will my target be? And I was like, targets that’s a great idea we should have those, which is kind of feels ridiculous now that were doing that then. Yeah, that was a big hump. 

 

Jim Rembach:     When you think about going through that particular process of learning, what is something for you that really caused you to pivot and make a change? Because you talked about several different iterations, what caused you to finally say, I need to turn. Was it something significant? Or was it something that was just like a gradual kept nudging and finally getting in the right direction?

 

Glenn Elliott:     Yeah, I think it’s the build of knowledge. I’m pretty resilient and so I kind of control the disappointment when things don’t work out. I think what’s important when you’re building a building a business—because I think you’re building a business you’re also building yourself as the leader and entrepreneur behind that business. When I think back to how little I knew when I started Reward Gateway it’s almost comical that we’re ever successful because I’ve learned so much since. So in building the sales team I’ve never ever hired a sales person before I have no idea what I was doing I didn’t know what one looked like really I and so I just had to learn quickly. You learned by just failing falling flat on your face and getting back up again and by not beating yourself up too much about it. You just got to get on with that stay resilient. 

 

Jim Rembach:     A couple things that you’ve said too also probably contributed to that is that you had other people influence you and other people that you convened with other people that you counseled with and that was all part of the knowledge gained. So one of the things that I’m finding more and more is that even though we as individuals may not particularly recognize it but it’s our community that helps us to advance the greater levels of performance more than going to a particular event or an activity like an MBA program or something. It’s those experiences it’s the knowledge from others and so we have to be more proactive and an intentional in regards to creating those types of communities and environments for us.

 

Glenn Elliott:     Yeah, I think it was an interesting point. It’s 12-13 years since I started Reward Gateway and we’re fortunate now there is a much bigger community available. We barely had podcast 13 years ago I was listening to them there’s a massive amount of online resource, opinion, YouTube channels, some great books about different aspects of business, sales, building a business, entrepreneurship, whatever it happens to be. When I think about all the advice I’ve had since I’ve started my career I’m pretty certain that all of it has been given with the best intentions. I don’t have ever met anyone who deliberately tried to lead me down the wrong place but that doesn’t mean that a lot of the advice wasn’t wrong because it was. I think it’s that thing about people will generally give you their honest best advice from their perspective and from their context of what they have learnt and what they’ve seen and that might not be in fact often isn’t your situation. And I think the answer to that is to immerse yourself in lots of different viewpoints. If you read widely if you listen to lots of podcast rather than just one if you follow several different people on Twitter or whatever you do whether you’re on and get their views and then what you your mind is very, very good at finding that kind of sifting out the stuff which is really relevant to you when you find up on it I think that’s a real thing what you can do now. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Yeah, that’s a very excellent point. I’m actually coaching an organization right now and their CEO, it’s a tech company, he was asking me if there was just something cookie cutter that he can take in place within what we were talking about, which had to do with the marketing and sales communication flow, and I said, no. I’ve been studying this for a long time I said there isn’t anything that you can just say, cut paste. I’ve taken elements from all of these different sources and now knowing more about your organization are able to mold that and give you some suggestions and ideas on how you can therefore go and create it yourself. 

 

Glenn Elliott:     Yeah, completely. I remember in my previous business the design with web build and marketing agency I was desperate for someone to give me the answers to how to make it more successful. I got it 20 staff and about a million and a half dollars revenue we’d book but we didn’t really make any money we just about script by. I was convinced that I was making a mess of it if someone else would know what to do with it. I found a guy who had been chief exec of a much, much, much bigger agency and then he’d gone to be chairman and he’d retired in his fifties. I found this guy and I was like, he is the answer to all my prayers and he knows everything he’s done this before he’s grown an agency to several thousand people. And I hired him to be my chairman kind of advisor and mentor thinking he would have all the answers, he was the most expensive person ever considered hiring by my house I’m nearly bankrupt just to pay his bill. And of course he didn’t have all the answers because what he had was he had what worked for him in his situation then. It was 20-30 years later and the context had just changed. He was a really an advertising agency guy and I was running a digital marketing business and they were actually widely different the whole economy was different, so it didn’t really work it didn’t really help us. I think if I was doing that again now I’d be better immersing myself on all the stuff which we’re able to find on the Internet. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Talking about  direction and where you’ve been and all that stuff, you have the book you’re now founder but I’m sure there’s a whole lot of things you’ve got your hands and that you’re dabbling on. But when you think about one goal that you have, we also talked about the physical aspects in getting your body stronger and more healthy, but if you were to talk about one goal what would it? 

 

Glenn Elliott:     We’d be working hard launching the book which came out in February, February the 28th, it will be a bit later on the States, so that’s good and it’s selling well it’s selling well every week so we’re pleased about that. My next big goal is we’re starting our own video podcast series in a couple of months. I was in a meeting about it this morning it’s going to be a daily show it’s five minutes every day it hasn’t got a name yet but it’s basically five minutes of informed opinion brutal honesty every single weekday on business topics or end of relating back to people. So I’m quite excited about that that’s my kind of next kind of big business piece. 

 

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:

 

An even better place to work is an easy to use solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone. Using this award-winning solution is guaranteed to create motivated, productive, and loyal employees who have great work relationships with our colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work visit beyondmorale.com/better. 

 

Alright, here we go Fast Leader legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Glenn, 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. Glenn Elliott, are you ready to hoedown? 

 

Glenn Elliott:     I’d give it a go. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?

 

Glenn Elliott:     Being more comfortable with being vulnerable. 

 

Jim Rembach:     What is the best leadership advice you have ever received? 

 

Glenn Elliott:     Be vulnerable with your people. Best leader I know is a woman called Shelli Packer, she’s incredible with her people and her team. Gets buy-in instantly and she’s just really good at being really honest and open with them. I’m not bad but she’s just better than me personally. 

 

Jim Rembach:     What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success my secrets?

 

Glenn Elliott:     Work hard counsel widely and then make up your own decision. Decide yourself what to do. 

 

Jim Rembach:     What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?

 

Glenn Elliott:     My Mac. 

 

Jim Rembach:     What would be one book that you’d recommend to our listeners that could be from any genre of course we’ll put a link to, Build it! The Rebel Playbook for World-class Employee Engagement on your show notes page as well.

 

Glenn Elliott:     I think my favorite book for business from a people perspective right now is Patti McCord’s, Powerful. Patti McCord was chief talent officer Netflix for 14 and Powerful is the incredible story of the radical of different culture that builds Netflix. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Okay, Fast Leader legion you can find links to that another bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/glennelliott. Okay, Glenn, this is my last hump day hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25. And you’ve given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything back you can only choose one. What skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

Glenn Elliott:     At 25, I would take back tolerance and acceptance of people who don’t think the same as me. Because I think when I was 25 I was pretty black-and-white about the world if someone didn’t think the same as me I kind of wrote them off for someone that wasn’t interesting I want in my life. And as I’ve grown older I’ve really seen the value of having people in my world who think differently. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Glenn, it was an honor to spend time with you today can you please share with the Fast Leader legion how they can connect with you? 

 

Glenn Elliott:     Yes sure. You can find me on Linkedin, it’s Glenn Elliott. The book’s website is rebelplaybook.com and you can download the first two chapters for free there. You can also find me on the Twitter @glennelliott. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Glenn Elliott, 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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