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015: Pele Ugboajah: Go ask your boss this

Pele Ugboajah Show Notes

Pele had a high-paying job with a fancy title but it wasn’t enough. He left that job for another with a bigger title and a bigger salary. After only after a year, the bigger job and salary was taken away when Pele was impacted by layoffs. He was left with nothing. So he went back to his previous boss, but he did not ask for his old job back, he asked him for something else. What his old boss told him has driven him to his biggest passion in life. Listen to Pele as he shares his story of perseverance, passion and behaviors.

Pele Ugboajah, PhD was born and raised in a war-torn African refugee village during the Biafra civil war. He was named after Pele of Brazil – the greatest soccer player on earth – whose influence was so great that it stopped that civil war for two days in 1967. Inspired by the myth of his namesake, Pele refused to believe that his own dreams were impossible. With nothing but the clothes on his back and a head full of passion, he overcame numerous obstacles and completed a journey from third world poverty to the highest reaches of the American dream.

Pele holds an MBA and a PhD in Organization and Management, with a specialization in leadership behavior. He is an avid software innovator, storyteller and musician, and has worked for many years in various executive and entrepreneurial roles. As a vice president of human resources, he managed and monitored HR budgets of $10 million, and as an executive coach, he sold leadership development experiences and learning technology solutions to Fortune 500 companies. Today, as a software entrepreneur, he has developed and delivered ResultPal, a practice-based performance management solution that helps organizations turn talent into results.

Through music, motivation, and mentoring software such as ResultPal, Pele passionately believes in the power technology has to change and improve organizational behavior. Just like his namesake from many years ago, he is on a mission to convince the world that individual, team, and organizational success comes from the willingness and ability to change and improve behavior, one person at a time.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Check out @peleugboajah getting over the hump on @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“Nothing really succeeds or fails unless behavior happens.” -Pele Ugboajah Click to Tweet

“If we can help people change their behavior for the better we can impact the world.“ -Pele Ugboajah Click to Tweet

“Behavior is invisible.” -Pele Ugboajah Click to Tweet

“Changing behavior comes down to getting down to small tiny chunks.” -Pele Ugboajah Click to Tweet

“Leadership is influence.” -Pele Ugboajah Click to Tweet

“We don’t nurture and develop people on a one-to-one level anymore.” -Pele Ugboajah Click to Tweet

“If we could help others be successful…in the end it creates a better world.” -Pele Ugboajah Click to Tweet

“Go ask your boss what are the three things I need to change.” -Pele Ugboajah Click to Tweet

“Everything you do creates a culture of success or failure.” -Pele Ugboajah Click to Tweet

“If you’re waiting of an end of the year performance review, forget it…they don’t work.” -Pele Ugboajah Click to Tweet

“You owe it to yourself to find a coach.” -Pele Ugboajah Click to Tweet

“The best success, comes not necessarily from a great coach, but from a great coachee.” -Pele Ugboajah Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Pele had a high-paying job with a fancy title but it wasn’t enough. He left the company that nurtured him and gave him a good opportunity. In a year he had nothing. The bigger title and salary, that he left for was gone. The victim of a layoff, Pele returned to his old boss and was told three things. It took Pele several years to figure out just what his old boss was trying to do. Listen to Pele still work to get over that hump of many years ago and share what he has learn and what he is doing now.

Leadership Epiphany

We’ve got to help people understand where they, what they need to develop, and then coach them so they can get better over time.

Advice for others

Go ask your boss, what are the three things I need to change. And are you willing to help me change them right now.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

I need more people on my team.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Influence comes from helping others.

Secret to Success

You got to play something. Get away and get lost in playing something.

Best Resources in Business or Life

Google; you can find knowledge with the click of a button.

Recommended Reading

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Contacting Pele



More Resources

54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.

Show Transcript: 

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

015: Pele Ugboajah: Go ask your boss this


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 intelligent practitioner, Jim Rembach.

Jim Rembach:   Okay, Fast Leader legion, you absolutely want to make sure that you go to iTunes and download and subscribe the Fast Leader Show because you’re going to want to rate this particular episode with the guest that I have for you today ‘cause he’s fantastic. Pele Ubgoajah was a PhD that was born and raised in a war-torn African village during the Biafra Civil War with nothing but the clothes in his back and a head full passion. He overcame numerous obstacles and completed a journey from the Third World poverty that he was born to the United States where he actually took advantage of his opportunities and now holds an MBA and a PhD in organization and management with a specialization in leadership behavior.

As a former Vice President of Human Resources, he managed and monitored HR budgets of several million dollars. He’s an avid software innovator, storyteller, and musician. He had worked for many years in various executive and entrepreneur roles. Today, he is a software entrepreneur and has developed and delivered a solution called ResultPal which is a practice based performance management solution that helps organizations turn talent into results. His mission is to convince the world that individual team and organizational success comes from the willingness and ability to change and improve behavior one person at a time. Pele lives in  Austin, Texas with his wife and three kids, E. G., O.B. and Aiket. Pele Ugboajah, are you ready to help us get over the hump? 

Pele Ugboajah:    I am  and ready, thank so much.

Jim Rembach:     You’re more than welcome and were excited to have you. Okay, so I’ve given our listeners an opportunity to learn a little bit about you, but we want to know what your passion is, could you share with us a little bit what’s driving you today?

Pele Ugboajah:     What’s driving me today is the desire to help change the world through behavior. I’m really passionate about the topic of behavior because nothing succeeds or fails unless behavior happens so if we can help people change their behavior for the better, we could impact the world.

Jim Rembach:    There’s so much depth in what you’re just saying in association with behavior and behavior change, behavior modification. What I was reading something recently that talked about changing behavior’s the most difficult thing that we could ever do. So, how does that come into play when you start talking about helping people do just that change behavior? 

Pele Ugboajah:     You’re right. It is difficult to change. The reason why changing behavior is so difficult is because behavior is—invisible. It is happening all the time and we just aren’t aware of it, we don’t stop to say: “Wait a second, I am behaving this way” or “I am behaving that way.” And to make matters worse when you add my behavior to your and to the behavior of a lot of people that share our community, that’s when you get culture. So, when a lot of us is behaving badly we end up with a company called Enron, where you got talented people and you have bad behavior, and it causes potentially they could have cost a global catastrophe of finance and failure. And so, my behavior, your behavior if we can just change it by focusing on it and making it less invisible, that’s when we create a success in our lives. 

Jim Rembach:    When you talk about that there’s one thing that came to mind when you mentioned Enron and the behavior piece, in that, there’s something in social science that talks about—when you think about mob mentality, mob behavior, that an IQ will drop by more than 50% and you start doing things because of the mob mentality that you otherwise didn’t do. So, when you start talking about Enron so you’re saying some of that mob behavior was in place and people’s IQ just dropped all over the place?

Pele Ugboajah:     Absolutely. And the interesting thing is when you look at leaders or really anyone in work or in life we are always exercising certain skills and these skills are what allow us to be successful. But behind these skills in order to get good on any of those skills, are there little subskills or actionable behaviors that we’ve got to get good at it. It’s like if you’re going to learn how to play the guitar, first you’ve got to know how to hold it, that’s a behavior. Them you’ve got to know another behavior and the behavior and so changing behavior, in order to avoid this problem of culture we’ve talked about, the Enron level, changing behavior comes down to getting really down to its small tiny chunks of behavior. Once we get down to those tiny chunks you can change them one tiny chunk at a time until we end up with a person who’s become a better leader, and so on and so forth. It’s a fascinating stuff to the science of behavior change.

Jim Rembach:  And talk about fascinating, for us in the Fast Leader Show, we really liked to focus in on things that inspire us in a lot of different ways and quotes, passages and things like that are something that we all find energy and power and have different and cause different behaviors, but is there a particular quote or leadership passage that drives you to help you be the person that you want to be?

Pele Ugboajah:     Absolutely. It’s three words, leadership is influence. If you’re influencing anyone, if no one’s following you or your ideas, you are not a leader. If you’re in a company and you title is Vice President and no one [inaudible5:55] what you say, no one agrees with you and no one is influenced by you, you’re not really a leader. And so, I think for me, the greatest three words about leadership are that leadership is actually influence. 

Jim Rembach:     Definitely for me I’ve had the opportunity go through some workshops and certification classes that help with that influence and persuasion piece, and for me it’s made a world of difference in a lot of different ways both personally and professionally. I talk about it a lot as being an expert for the Customer Experience Professionals Association and how that—persuasion and influence is important if you want to create a more human centric organization. In context, we’re talking about customer centric but it’s a critical and core component that we all can get some significant benefit from, if we improve our skills in that area. But I would say that for you, talking about history and where you are today, there had to be a lot of humps that you had to get over in order for you to be where you are today—you don’t have a family that, I know you cherish a lot and I’m sure cherishes you, can you share a story with us about a time where you’ve had to get over the hump so that will help us?

Pele Ugboajah:     I have a story that has never really left me. It’s something that I always measure my life against. I was a younger man in the corporation, I had fancy title, I was Director of Technical Marketing at this company and I got there not because I was great leader but because I had a boss who just promoted me. He’s the boss who once told me that leadership is influence, by the way, but one day out of fear or out just not knowing the terrain of the corporate world I was afraid to be in that company and I resigned to accept a position at a larger company. 

So, I basically left the company that had nurtured me and went and started somewhere new because I had bigger title, and more money and so on. After a year the bigger company that brought me on laid almost everybody off, and so I have nothing. I had climbed the corporate ladder, I’d achieved a whole bunch of things and now I had absolutely nothing. 

So, I went back to that boss of mine, and I asked him I said, “I know you’re not going to have me back the way I resigned probably hurt you a little bit, tell me what I can do to improve?” And he said, “Look, you’ve got three problems” and I never forget that, he said, “You struggle with loyalty?” “Yeah.” “You struggle with patience?” Again, “Dah” “And you struggle with teamwork.” And said, “If you could have just done those three things very well, you would still be here and you’d be whatever he thought I could have potentially been. And I thanked him for his help, but I really wish he would’ve told me that before I left, the very first time. 

And that’s the problem with leadership, we don’t develop and nurture people on a one-to-one level anymore. We could have easily sat me down and had that conversation and I would have stayed, I wouldn’t have been lost in my fears, but he didn’t do that. So now, I’m passionate and committed to providing tools and technologies that will help people identify the behaviors they need to change and improve on so that they can be successful where they are. That’s the hump I had to get over. [Laugh]

Jim Rembach:     And those are common ones but your story is the unique one, and thank you for sharing that with us. Now, if you were to talk about something that hit you as that opportunity to do something different within that story, and even he shared with you, can you remember when that really hit, was it at the moment he told you or did it came later?

Pele Ugboajah:     It came many year later when I realized that what he was trying to do was identify behaviors. But he didn’t identify those behaviors and he didn’t coach me he just allowed me to go do whatever I wanted to do. We’ve got to help people understand where they are, what they need to develop and then we’ve got to cause them and keep them accountable to those behaviors so that they can get better over time. I think that if we can help others to be successful where they are in end it creates a better corporation or world or family or whatever. And so, that’s really what my mission is now, if you will. 

Jim Rembach:     If you were to give  Fast Leader legion a piece of advice or two, what would it?

Pele Ugboajah:    I think—first of all I’d say this, but I would say, glass through boss. What are the three things I need to change? And are you willing to help me change them right now? Because if you’re not having that conversation, you’ll never really know what’s going. You’ve got to recognize that everything you do creates a culture of success or failure and some of us are lucky to hear about it sooner than later. 

If you’re waiting for an end of year review, performance review, forget it because everybody hates those things they don’t work. You need to go and understand in real-time what you need to do to become a better leader, a friend or whatever it is you need to succeed at, at the level of behaviors not just at theoretical level. Here’s what you’re going to do first, here’s what you’re going to do next in terms of the leadership behaviors in your life. 

Jim Rembach:     That’s very helpful. I can give you a scenario and we’d love to hear your thoughts on this because I know somebody personally, and I’m going to protect their name, who has not had a leader who will sit down and spend the time with them to do just. And if they were to go and ask them, they may not get any reply or answer and probably would just get some avoidance or something off-the-cuff that’s not really genuine and sincere, what if you don’t have that person that you can go to and ask those questions, what do you do?

Pele Ugboajah:     The interesting thing is—that’s why I develop my current product which you mentioned called ResultPal, because it helps to extend the activities of a coach or even when the coach is not there or when the manager is not there. So, if this individual can’t talk to their manager I would highly recommend that they get a coach. And when that coach is not physically available they should be tracking their behaviors in a tool-like ResultPal because if you don’t have that kind of visibility and accountability for your coach regarding the behaviors you’re implementing, you’re not going to do them quite as well to be quite honest. It’s like playing a musical instrument, we need coaches because coaches help us get better.

Jim Rembach:    You bring up a really important thing for me in regards to when I had a large staff that I was managing. I think it’s typical that I would have a pretty consistent amount of folks that would say: “What are you going to do to develop me?” And I would always have to throw it back and said, “How are you going to develop yourself?” I mean, there’s really two pieces to this pie here, Okay, here are the things that we sponsor or that we support as an organization and then here’s things that you have to do outside of that. And that what makes a holistic type of approach and benefit in regards to success when it comes to coaching in your development.  So, it’s not just know you, you, you, it’s also me, me, me from the perspective of I have to do something on my own as well, and be proactive with that. 

When you referred to coaching, a lot of organizations don’t offer coaching, would you recommend that somebody does not allow that to stop them from being coach and go out and find their own coach?

Pele Ugboajah:     I would, specially leaders, emerging leaders. You owe it to yourself to find a coach. Michael Jordan, Pele of Brazil, these are some of the best performers in their field and they all had coaches. There’s a lot of value to a coach but the thing about coaching is that, and you’re very correct it’s very well supported there’s research that shows that the best success comes not necessarily from a great coach but from a great coachee, it is the willingness of an individual to implement the behaviors that are recommended by a coach, that’s what makes the difference. When you’re implementing this behaviors even in the absence of the coach and you track the results and you can show what you doing, you really get success out of that. So, I would suggest that anyone, whether or not their managers are actively involved, seek out a mentor, seek out a coach, seek out someone and create an environment where you can interact with them even if they’re not going to be with you 100% of the time, at least there’s a soft [inaudible 15:07] because you know someone cares and someone’s watching.

 Jim Rembach:     Those are all great pieces of insight and information and hopefully many of the folks who’ve been on the fence and who are listeners will take a final leap and if they’re not being provided a coach, they go get one. Alright, so you talked a little bit about ResultPal, and tools and the mechanism and how you’re focusing on that now, what really excites you about where you are with the development of that solution?

Pele Ugboajah:     What excites me is, I think I’m on the bleeding edge of something here. Because there’s no industry yet, there’s no product yet for what I’m doing. There is no such thing as a BMS, Behavior Management System, it doesn’t exist in a corporate or in a leadership of business world. We have learning management systems, we’ve got contact and CRM systems, who is managing behavior? Nobody. So, ResultPal really wants to create a world in which we can define behaviors, we can manage them and use this tool to help people get better at ‘me’, as you said. 

Jim Rembach:     I have been in contact center space from many years and have seen a lot of different technologies come and go and I had an analyst tell me one time, “You should never try to create an industry that does not exist, it takes too much money.” [Laugh] So, how are you doing that?

Pele Ugboajah:     Luckily for me, the industry of behavior has been here since the very first person came out, wherever we came out from, behavior is something you’ve been trying to manage through religion, through politics through all kinds of mechanisms there’s nothing  new about behavior, modification or behavior change. But what we now have is we have technologies like mobile device, wearable technology, voice activation and listening systems, and where all these technologies come together you now have the ability to reproduce a coach when no coach is there. That’s really what’s exciting, it’s not an industry that’s being created, it’s a way of doing what we’ve always done through technology.

Jim Rembach:    Got it, thanks for the clarification. We wish you the very best Pele. Here we go Fast Leader listeners it’s time for the—Hump Day Hoedown. Okay Pele, the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insight 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. Pele are you ready to hoedown?

Pele Ugboajah:     I’m ready

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

Pele Ugboajah:     Now is that me or anyone?

Jim Rembach:      You. 

Pele Ugboajah:     Me, okay. I need more people on my team.

Jim Rembach:      That’s insulting me back. 

Pele Ugboajah:     When you’re in a startup environment and your bootstrapper the biggest gift you can get is finding good people to join your team and I’m actively looking for those people. When we increase our strength by numbers we will be a much more effective team, and I will be a better leader as result. 

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

Pele Ugboajah:     Influence which is what I started out with in our conversation comes from helping others. It doesn’t come from demanding it, leadership is influence but you gain that when you help other people, it’s amazing how that works, but that’s the magic formula. 

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

Pele Ugboajah:     I play guitar, I play the piano, I write songs, I play soccer with my kids, you’ve got to play something, you’ve got to get out of this hard work environment and there’s a spiritual you go to, for me when I’m playing with my kids or my musical instrument, you can’t pay for it—it’s magic. So, if you can go there for a while, go away, get lost in playing, when you come back to work you become so much more powerful. 

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

Pele Ugboajah:     Google. I know this is a plug for an African plea but I got to tell you. After I got my PhD and I spent all that money trying to get an education I realized I got more education by searching for stuff on Google. So I have to say, when we walked this earth, and at any point in time we can find knowledge with click of a button, that’s a resource. 

Jim Rembach:      For sure. I know there’s probably several but, if you could recommend one book that our listeners should read.

Pele Ugboajah:     Oh, boy, there are so many. I would say—I’m trying to come up with something smart here but I don’t think I’m thinking of one, I  would stick with “The Seven Habits, ” I always come back to that. Stephen Covey was just—he meant a lot to me, I met him once, and he’s one of those people that can inspired tears. So, if you could read that book again for the perspective of—this book is going to be around for years, it’s going to mean something to me for years, it’ll will do something for you, it’s a good book. 

Jim Rembach:     That definitely gives us a renewed vision into that particular book. Alright, we’re going to put link to that book and other bonus information from today’s show and you’ll be able to find that by going to Ugboajah. Just go to it [inaudible 20:50] and you’ll be able to find it. Alright Pele, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning and you were 25 years old again. You were supposed to begin a new job as a manager of a team of people that is underperforming and disengaged but you have retained all of the wisdom and skill that you currently have. Your task is to turn the team around, you get up, you get ready, you head out to work, what do you do now?

Pele Ugboajah:     Oh, boy. I think the first thing I’ll do is I’ll call them and I’ll have all of them give a speech. What I mean by that is I’m not going to be the speaker, I’m not going to motivate, I want you to motivate the rest of us regarding how you are going to be great at your job, and how are you going to help us all succeed so much. There’s something magical that happens when you give other people the platform, when you’re not taking it for yourself, all of a sudden they become the implementers of behaviors. And that’s why I’m so passionate about creating a software tool like ResultPal that helps people implement behaviors, because when they’re the ones driving, they’re the ones succeeding. So, yes I get them all, put them on a soapbox and say where here to listen. 

Jim Rembach:     That’s awesome. It was an honor to spent time with you today, please share with the Fast Leader listeners how they can connect you?

Pele Ugboajah:     You could go to, I think that’s the best place to start.  I’m also on LinkedIn, and I believe you’re going to provide that link. 

Jim Rembach:     I absolutely will, it’ll be on our show notes page.  Pele, 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 fast so we can help you move onward and upward faster.