page title icon Nate Brown

075: Nate Brown: I didn’t have to buy into that narrative

Nate Brown Show Notes

Nate Brown and his wife moved to Nashville for a job. Placing a lot of his identity in his job, Nate felt like he lost everything when he was removed from the business. Some of the words that were used when he was terminated hurt deeper than anything he could imagine. Listen to Nate tell his story of how he was able to get over the hump.

Nate was raised in Seattle, Washington, but has lived all over the South East since then.  Growing up, Nate specialized in sports that no other kids thought were cool.

These included golf, tennis, badminton, and ping-pong.  Most of his afternoons were spent kicking around a golf course, followed by evenings in the game room.  The pinnacle of his youth came when he won a talent show by reenacting Disney’s “The Lion King” on rollerblades.

Once the country club dream faded into real life, Nate has been slightly more ambitious.  He began working for a safety technology company soon after attending Toccoa Falls College, and has been working to make workplaces safer ever since.

He has held a variety of roles in the services department of UL Workplace Health and Safety including Customer Service Representative, Migration Consultant, Training Manager, and Support Manager.

More recently Nate has been participating in the larger support community through blogging and speaking.  He has led sessions on Customer Effort Score and Gamification at the 2015 ICMI Conference and Expo and looks forward to speaking at both ICMI and HDI conferences in 2016.  He is also the author and founder of the blog

More personally Nate has two daughters and wife who capture most of his attention and time.  He finds his home in Nashville, Tennessee where he enjoys disc golfing, fishing, photography and serving in his local church.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @CustomerIsFirst to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“Photography has helped me to just see what’s there and to find it beautiful.” -Nate Brown Click to Tweet

“There’s always going to be a situation where you can feel like you’re the victim.” -Nate Brown Click to Tweet 

“You always have the ability to choose in a way that’s going to edify people.” -Nate Brown Click to Tweet 

“Telling everybody but that one person about a problem] ruins your credibility.” -Nate Brown Click to Tweet 

“We make so many commitments in our mind; sometimes that needs to flow through our hand.” -Nate Brown Click to Tweet 

“What is behind that leader that’s causing them to act and behave that way?” -Nate Brown Click to Tweet 

“Great leaders apply their skills to benefit the people that are around them.” -Nate Brown Click to Tweet 

“When I see a leader that I aspire to be it’s that person leading with authenticity.” -Nate Brown Click to Tweet 

“A true leader is committed to the betterment of the group.” -Nate Brown Click to Tweet 

“I can change the narrative in my own mind and make a new legacy.” -Nate Brown Click to Tweet 

“The goal is to always to get better and there’s no finish line.” -Nate Brown Click to Tweet 

“I try to look at me through everyone else’s eyes.” -Nate Brown Click to Tweet 

“I’m there to further the causes that I believe in.” -Nate Brown Click to Tweet 

“Live in the moment and be satisfied to make those around you happier.” -Nate Brown Click to Tweet   

Hump to Get Over

Nate Brown and his wife moved to Nashville for a job. Placing a lot of his identity in his job, Nate felt like he lost everything when he was removed from the business. Some of the words that were used when he was terminated hurt deeper than anything he could imagine. Listen to Nate tell his story of how he was able to get over the hump.

Advice for others

The goal is to always to get better and there’s no finish line.

Holding him back from being an even better leader


Best Leadership Advice Received

Find laser focus.

Secret to Success


Best tools that helps in business or Life

Interpersonal communication skills

Recommended Reading

Leading Change, With a New Preface by the Author

Contacting Nate





Customer Grade the Call

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Show Transcript:

Click to access edited transcript

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.


How do you get higher contacts center agent performance it’s when customers grade the call and their ratings and comments are used to motivate and coach agents, uncover hidden secrets and replicate your best agent with the real-time insights from the award-winning external quality monitoring program from customer relationship metrics. Move onward and upward by going to and getting a $7500 rapid results package for free. 


Jim Rembach:    Okay Fast Leader Legion I’m excited today because I am sharing somebody who really resonated with me in an article that they wrote called The Promise of Positivity. Nate Brown was raised in Seattle, Washington but has lived all over the southeast since then. Growing up Nate specialized in sports that no other kids thought were cool, these included golf, tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. Most of his afternoons were spent kicking around a golf course followed by innings in the game room. The pinnacle of his youth came when he won a talent show by re-enacting Disney’s the Lion King on rollerblades. Once the country club dream faded into real life, Nate has been slightly more ambitious. He began working for a safety technology company soon after attending Toccoa Falls College and has been working to make workplaces safer ever since. He has held a variety roles in the services department of UL workplace, health, and safety including customer service representative, migration consultant training manager, and support manager. As a practitioner, Nate is a sought after speaker and participates in a larger support community through blogging. He recently led a session on customer effort score and gamification at the I CMI conference and expo and is slated to do even more. Nate currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee where he enjoys disc golfing, fishing, photography, and serving at his local church and spending the most of his valuable time with his two daughters Aubrey, Kennedy, and his wife Crystal. Nate Brown are you ready to help us get over the hump?


Nate Brown:    Jim I’m ready, I’m excited.


Jim Rembach:    So am I, I can’t wait to talk about this promise of positivity but for now I’ve given our listeners a little bit about you but can you share what your current passion is so that we get to know you even better.


Nate Brown:    Yeah. It really has been photography. The last year, I feel like it open up a whole new side of my brain, I’ve never been an artistic person but as soon as I got a couple pieces of equipment it’s like I see light and the whole color and just everything differently, I love it.


Jim Rembach:    Now that’s really interesting that you say that, for those who don’t know Nate and I are actually looking via video so that we can make a better experience for you as a listener but if I was able to turn the video camera Nate would be able to see my video studio that I do some video as well and dabbled in photography so I look forward to that, but when you start talking about seeing things a little bit different and opening up a different side of your brain what specifically are you referring to?


Nate Brown:    Yeah, just the artistic quality of everything. I really feel like I get caught up in what’s next and what do people expect me to do next and what am I going to do in an hour, what am I going to do in two days and I definitely struggle to live in the now and to be content in my current situation and photography has help me to just see what there and just to find it beautiful.


Jim Rembach:    So that’s really interesting. So as you were saying that I started thinking about—it’s making you more mindful. 


Nate Brown:    True, that’s a good way to put it.


Jim Rembach:    And also when you started talking about that and what you just shared and thanks for doing that, it really connected me back to that whole promise of positivity that I read on your blog, and so I don’t think I even mentioned that but you’re the founder and author of the blog customer centric, on that on that post you had talked about five different things in this promise of positivity book but there’s was one phrase, and to me it’s really a quote and it’s pretty powerful, you said: “Your reaction is the variable” what do you mean by that?


Nate Brown:    Well, I mean there’s so many dynamic things that happen in our offices and in our working relationships and I feel like there’s always going to be a situation where you can feel like you’re the victim but you do not have to do that and you always have the ability to choose and to choose in a way that’s going to edify people and that’s going to help people and that is the variable that’s there in any situation.


Jim Rembach:    So when you start talking about those five components and for me, I kind of chuckle with number five and number five was, I will not harm my coworkers through  conversation that tears them down whether they’re there or not.


Nate Brown:    Bingo! It’s whether they’re there or not. Like it’s one thing to be direct with somebody and have robust communication to their face, it’s another thing to I guess have the cowardice of not being able to approach the person when there’s something that you know that they can do better or something that frustrates you, you’ve got to deal with that individual. I mean if you’re telling everybody but that one person you’re doing them a huge disservice and you’re ruining your own credibility and I just don’t want to be about that.


Jim Rembach:    That’s a really good point there was a quote that I heard and gosh now I can’t think at the top of my head where the source was but it was essentially that you’re not a loser until you start blaming other people.


Nate Brown:    That’s excellent, very true.


Jim Rembach:    It is true and so that’s one of the things I keep trying to instill within my kids who are at the moment 12, 10, and 7


Nate Brown:    Nice


Jim Rembach:    Even at the dinner table last night when my 12-year-old daughter started talking about an athletic situation and talking about one of her teammates in a way that was not positive and I was like you need to stop right there, okay just stop, and she was like why I need to tell you this and I’m like no you don’t, you’re done.


Nate Brown:    That’s good.


Jim Rembach:    So when you start, there’s a mentor of mine who also said or one of his phrases is that you need to create a no moan zone.


Nate Brown:    Oh wow, okay. `Catchy.


Jim Rembach:    It is very catchy. And so a no moan zone includes a little bit more than just talking about the coworkers it’s just the overall workplace theme, culture attack, all of those different things. So when you start thinking about creating this positivity component, this positivity culture. How does one start?


Nate Brown:   It’s definitely in your own mind. I mean for me this was a commitment to myself that I was going to be a different person and I that was going to stop the games that I play with myself and that I was playing with my coworkers. It was definitely an evolution, it did not happen overnight but for me not only doing that for myself but putting it out there publicly, and I had a lot of great response from that post. I had a lot of people that were saying that they were rooting for me and that they were making their own commitments to positivity as well and that could look different for everybody. But that brings in a communal accountability that really help me to know that it was real and this was a commitment that was going to stick. I wrote that post a while ago and it really has, am I perfect? No,` but I can definitely notice a distinct difference between the person I was before writing that and the person that I am today.


Jim Rembach:    One of the things you also mention is signing a contract.


Nate Brown:    Yeah. In our day and age if you don’t put your John Hancock on a piece of paper we make so many commitments to our self and in our mind but sometimes that needs to flow through your hand and if for nobody else for yourself that way you can go back and you can see it. We have this organization that they partners with UL, it’s called Patrick Coaching and one of the techniques that they do that’s so powerful is when they do an executive session with you, they have you make a commitment, that’s not even specific to business it’s a commitment that you’re making to better yourself and then ultimately better every aspect of your life including business. They have you put that down on a postcard and sign it and they actually mail that to you three months later with just a question at the front, how are you doing? And it’s just such a powerful accountability knowing that you’re going to get that postcard and you’re going to have to look yourself in the eye and answer that question.


Jim Rembach:    That is definitely, talking about that accountability piece and also it’s very inspiring. One of the things that we focus on the show is leadership quotes because it can do just that. Do you have a quote or two that kind of stands out for you that inspires you that you can share?


Nate Brown:    Yeah I do. And this is a John C. Maxwell quote and I love this and I’ll get into why, “It’s true leadership must be for the benefit of the followers not to enrich the leader.” And the reason that I love this quote so much is because you see these great leaders, and I’ve been fortunate to be around a lot of them, but the first question that I ask when I see somebody with leadership qualities is, what is their motive is? What is behind that individual that is causing them act and behave the way that they are behaving? Because I feel like I’ve seen and I’ve been a part of a lot of people with leadership skill that have ultimately proven to be very self-serving and for me that’s a very sad moment of truth that I found with certain individuals or I come to understand that they have these great skills and that they’re not being applied in a way that’s ultimately going to benefit the people around them. And when I see a leader that I aspire to be it’s not necessarily that person with all the charisma and all the communication skill and that everybody’s just rallying behind, it’s that person that’s leading with authenticity and that’s leading because they’re not doing it for themselves they are actually there committed to the betterment of whatever it is that that group is trying to accomplish. And that’s the person that I start to see now as a true leader rather than the flashy folks that I used to really honor and respect before.


Jim Rembach:    Thanks for sharing that and one of the things that stood out to me was a discussion that I had with the previous guest who’s actually in the Nashville area as well, Jerry Barber


Nate Brown:    Oh yeah, I know Jerry, amazing.


Jim Rembach:    Jerry talked about kind of not leaving that component to the people to be able to figure out as a leader you need to actually share what your intent is, share what your objectives and beliefs are so that it doesn’t come into question or misinterpretation or being presumptuous in a different way. And to me that was something that just has carried with me and I’ve recommended Jerry’s episodes to a lot of folks who are trying to find their way and excel and move onward and upward faster in regards to leading is concern. So thanks for sharing that.


Nate Brown:    No that’s really interesting Jerry Barber is absolutely a mentor of mine we served together on a nonprofit board for the HCI counsel and he’s been fantastic.


Jim Rembach:    Yeah good guy. So thanks for sharing that. Okay, so you talked about several different things in regards to the things that you’ve learned, what you were in customer service and support you went into training, helping a lot of different organizations, doing the public speaking, well in order to be able to gain that type of experience and wisdom we have humps to get over because they really teach us some very valuable lessons that we can hopefully share with others.


Nate Brown:    Very true


Jim Rembach:    Yeah, is there a time that you can remember and share with us when you’ve had to get over the hump?


Nate Brown:    Yeah I might have struggled for this a little bit and it was definitely a difficult time. It was when me and my wife had first moved to Nashville. We actually moved here for a job and have no family here, no support structure that was here it was literally just this job. I was essentially fresh out of college and I really thought that it was a great place and if I was  going very well and it’s actually where I learned that I love customer service and I love being on the customer facing aspect of an organization. Well, as it turned out it was not going as well as I thought with a certain individual who was my direct manager and for several months he had been building a case against me that ultimately had removed from the business and it was an incredibly vulnerable time for me and young wife. We were there and just looking around and trying to figure out should we even stay in Nashville? Should we be here? What is going on? And as a provider to my family, as a person who really find a lot of identity right or wrong in my job I just felt like I have lost everything. I never expected that to happen to me and my wife where I was removed out of a position without me actually initiating that. 


Some of the things that they said when they were terminating me still stick with me and it was definitely the hump. And basically what they were articulating to me is that I was not special enough and that I was not good enough at the job and that I was only average and that they could not sustain average people in their organization. It wasn’t like something that I did wrong that I knew was a mistake or like just something that went really poorly it just something about what they articulated to me was just such an undermining thing because they were basically telling me that I was no good and that I wasn’t worth a paycheck to them and that hurt deeper than anything that I could’ve imagined at that time. So there was many months after that where I was definitely in a little bit of state of depression and luckily I had a best friend Jim Rich who I said, “Jim you got help me just get my mind right and get out of this, will you come out with me into the woods and lets just hit the Appalachian Trail for a few days and just help me hit the reset button?” And he was gracious enough to do that and just being out there in God’s creation and just have that clarity of mind out there I realized some of the lies that I’ve been told and I realized that I did not have to buy into that narrative and that I could go ahead and move forward.

And so after that time I’ve got the call from what would later become UL and they asked if I would come in an interview for the most front-line customer service position possible, I mean just on the phone, just being with customers and remembering that I had realized even in that other job that ultimately end up being very bad thing that I still love the customer, I love customer service and that I was good at that and I wanted to prove that to myself and prove that to those around me. And so I went in and I was interviewed and absolutely love the culture, the organization that I saw there immediately. We have people like Allison Everett who went to my rival high school and wore a leather jacket from my rival high school for my interview and just some amazing people that were there and I knew that there was a better place and there was a different place than what I had moved to Nashville for and that company that I was with was not necessarily a representation of all corporate America.


And so, I had confidence in that moment I could come in and that I could change the narrative in my own mind and that I could make something different I could make a new legacy that was there. I just dove into that job and I just loved the technology, I love the people, I love the customer and through the process of doing that job and doing it well I got my confidence back and I started to really excel in that role  and just to win. I mean win for the customer be that voice of the customer, be somebody that people that were in the organization as an internal stake holder enjoyed working with because they knew that I was out to make the customer experience better and that they could trust me and that I was credible for them. And it was only five or six months into the job where I had a very different reputation that I had at the other organization and that’s something that I’ve been building on ever since. But for me that was the hump that moment where I was told that I was not good enough and I bought into that lie and luckily I was able to make a different narrative.


Jim Rembach:    Wow! Thanks for sharing that story and I can tell you for me personally there’s several things that I connected with cause I kind of went through a similar scenario more than once unfortunately but it took me, gosh I can remember the blues whether it  was depression or not clinically speaking, I don’t know but you start questioning worth, value, abilities all those things and I can say thank you to Jim and all of those Jims out there who will do what he did because that’s awesome we need more like that.


Nate Brown:    Amen


Jim Rembach:    So I know you talked about photography, you talked about the of course the progression UL, your public speaking, your writing and your children, your wife, all of those things also the work that you’re doing at your church you’ve got a lot of things on your plate, but if you say that you had one goal, what would it be?


Nate Brown:    To narrow it down to one goal it would be to further God’s kingdom, to make a legacy that ultimately he will be proud of even beyond my family which would be the second one that’s what’s most important to me.


Jim Rembach:    I appreciate you sharing that. So I know that you had mentioned something about this commitment and this promise of positivity and the response that you got from that and how positive it was, do you have a goal for that?


Nate Brown:    Any goal to come out of that?


Jim Rembach:    Yes.


Nate Brown:    Well that’s kind of a tricky question because that is a never-ending evolution of maturity for me. I mean the goal is just to always get better and that that is the goal, I don’t think there’s a finish line to that goal but I do want to consistently reassess how am I doing? How am I maturing? And to raise that bar for myself on a consistent basis.  And one of the things I do for myself to make sure that that is happening is I try to get out on at least a couple times a year where I get back out in the woods, get out in creation and I have an opportunity to think through to the winds of everybody except myself. What am I doing? What are the type of relationships that I have right now? Are they edifying? Are they helpful? Am I turning people away? Am I being too selfish? The very best that I can I try to look at me through everyone else’s eyes and I look and see if I’m accomplishing the objective of being that leader that John Maxwell’s talking about, the one that’s not there to further me but I’m there to further the causes that I believe in and I’ve got several as you just mentioned. I honestly believe that my organization has an incredible mission to keep people safe and nobody does that like you well and I’ve bought into that and I am trying to make that happen in my own special way.


Jim Rembach:    And the Fast leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get quick word from our sponsor.


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Alright here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Nate, the Hump Day Hoedown is the 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 robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Nate Brown, are you ready to hoedown?


Nate Brown:    I am


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


Nate Brown:    Fear, absolutely, fear.


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


Nate Brown:    Find laser focus.


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


Nate Brown:    I would say authenticity.


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


Nate Brown:    Inter personal and communication skill. 


Jim Rembach:    What would be one book, and it could be from any genre, that you’d recommend to our listeners. 


Nate Brown:    “Leading Change” by John Kotter.


Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader listeners you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to Brown. Okay Nate, 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 been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything you can only choose one, so what one skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?


Nate Brown:    That’s a great question. I think that I would choose contentment and I have great answer of why other than, I mean if you can live in that moment and be satisfied with the life and the opportunities you’ve been given then you’re going to make things work out and you’re ultimately going to make yourself and those around you happier.


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


Nate Brown:    Yeah, I would love to connect with everybody on Twitter. My handle is @customerisfirst on twitter and if you connect with me on Instagram my photography, one of my projects I’m doing right now is trying to creatively document silly holidays so my Instagram is @tfcdawg and I find ways to celebrate silly holidays, so you can find me on Instagram or Twitter.


Jim Rembach:    Nate Brown, 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 legion today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the so we can help you move onward and upward faster.