Steve: Welcome to our podcast show today, wherever you might be in the world today. This is Steve Shallenberger, your host with Becoming Your Best Global Leadership. It is a delight to be together with you. Wish we had the chance to just sit down and be together and talk about how to become our best, how to increase our happiness and joy and fulfillment in both our own lives and the lives of all of those that we associate with. As you reflect upon the greatest achievements, events, and discoveries of humankind—words, knowledge, innovation, ideas, and behaviors have had an enormous impact on our human experience. I mean, just reflect and think about these together. They include individuals and nations, including Jesus Christ, Mohamed, Greek and Roman cultures—including the Pax Romana, which was 200 years of peace starting with the reign of Augustus. The discovery of the Will, including its many uses, which people continue to discover more uses of the Will. Gutenberg’s Press, the Declaration of Independence, and Human Rights advances, and literature—with Shakespeare and Cervantes. Art with Michelangelo. Music with Beethoven. I mean, there’s just a few that are representative of that time. Electricity. It’s not just the use of electricity—that it exists and that we can harness it, but then the inventions that have gone along with it, like the light bulb. Also, the discovery of engines, and cars, and flight, and the industrial revolution, medical discoveries, advances, computers, and devices, and landing man on the moon, the internet. Parenting, raising good children, and having good, solid homes. Advances in education, and collectively creating a sustainable economy that is lifting the world. Every one of these achievements, discoveries, or accomplishments are a result of individuals and groups of individual. In other words, these are cultures or organizations that learned to align themselves with certain principles that produced high-performance and excellence. Your success in life, your happiness, health, and prosperity, depend upon understanding the principles, behaviors, and habits that cause that success. In our world of leadership and management and prioritizing your time and high performance, we are always thinking about these types of things. The things that can produce high-performance among its people, and the culture, and the strategy. In short, things that produce high-performance organizations. This is what we have spent forty years of research—doing this. Unlocking what those principles, behaviors, and habits are that produce sustainable, high-performance. A great acronym for that is SHP. Among our findings, as many of you know, are the 12 principles of highly successful leaders. This discovery of the 12 principles of becoming your best literally help unlock the secrets that have contributed to the greatest achievements and accomplishments of humankind and of high-performance—the SHP: Sustainable High Performance. Yesterday, I was reading a magazine. The name of the magazine is The Training Magazine, where I came across a study entitled The X-Factor in Productivity. The RAIN Group conducted research named The Extreme Production Benchmark Report. In this study, they analyzed responses from 2,377 business professionals to better understand what drives productivity. Respondents were broken into productivity groups based on their answers to the following statement: I am extremely productive. The extremely productive (the XPs is what they call them—they’d be the equivalent to our Sustainable High Performers, the SHPs—rated themselves a 5/5 on this question. In other words, this is very much like me. The question is, “I am extremely productive.” The SHPs represented 14% of the respondents, these X-Producers, these XPs as they call them. Now, the merely productive rated themselves a 4/5. Mostly like me. The productive includes 48% of respondents. One of the most surprising findings from the research was just how different people in these two groups work, and the results that they’re able to achieve. So, if you examine the key drivers of productivity, and they have included a graph with their article that I will include in the transcript of the podcast. The XP are up to 3.5 times more likely to exhibit these behaviors, compared to the productive. Across the board, the gaps are significant, with the largest gaps being among the following: the XP are almost 2 times more likely to hold themselves accountable. The XP are 3.5 times more likely to recover quickly when derailed from being productive. The XPs are 3.3 times more likely to have productive habits overall. The XP are 2.7 times more likely to regularly sustain energy for long periods of time. The XPs are 2.7 times more likely to start their day with the great impact activity. Finally, the XP are 2.7 times more likely to not react to other people’s agendas, and to drive their own. The bottom line: if you want real results, set your and your employees’ sights on learning and making these types of habits that you find in Becoming Your Best: The 12 Principles, and how they will drive your productivity. A good example of this is The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders, Principle 9: be accountable. Well, mastering this principle happens to be #1 on the list that makes the XP most effective. That was the #1 most rated, and we just go on and on in terms of going down the 12, and we can talk about that in a moment, but this is what we help our employees and ourselves do: set ourselves on learning and making these principles habits as the type of behavior that drives this kind of productivity. And, as a highly successful leader—whether it’s a CEO, team lead, or coach, parent, teacher, professional, salesperson, production person, admin, or a parent. So, what can you do to make these behaviors such a high priority in terms of making them a habit? Things that you can do in your organization that produces this sustainable, high performance over time. So, how can you do this/ How do you transform the people, the culture, and strategy to do the right things so that you produce the right results—these SHPs? I’d like to recommend two things. One, if you’re an individual, it’s pretty straightforward. You can do simple things, such as invest in the book Becoming Your Best: The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders, and start going to work on mastering them. Anyone can do that. We’re not born with these things. Two more things that you can do is that you can benchmark how you are currently doing in terms of being able to execute on these 12 principles. So, we have a free assessment that you can take—a 12 principle assessment—and you can find that on firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll come back to that. In other words, you can benchmark yourself. Another thing individually that you can do is to subscribe to the Weekly Principle A Week, where you just get a principle a week in the email of the 12 principles, and it has stories, examples, and action items of ways to make these, align your behavior with these type of things. The more you think about it, the more it becomes part of you. Now, that’s on an individual basis. What can you do as a leader? Well, one of the things that you can do—and the levers that you can pull, and one of the most significant things that unlock enormous potential and capacity in a team or an organization to produce these SHPs, Sustainable High Performance—is to empower your people with the knowledge of the principles of highly successful leaders. The development of the behaviors and habits that produces a permanent transformation that comes with this knowledge, the impact is enormous. As you invest in your people, which then impacts the culture and strategy and the overall value of your organization. When I say organization, that means your family, your relationships, a team, or an overall company. So, whether you are talking about yourself, your family, your team or organizations, you can leverage the research and discoveries that Becoming Your Best has made in leadership, management, and personal development, and provide it to your family or the people that you work with. So, what are some ways that you can do that? Well, you, like other highly successful leaders, can adopt a strategy and plan to not only learn yourself but also teach your key people the 12 principles of highly successful leaders by becoming a certified organization: a CO. This is where you actually take a license on all of the properties that we have at Becoming Your Best and the 12 principles of highly successful leaders, along with the tools and processes that you then are able to utilize in teaching others. I’ll just take a quick break from this and share the experience with Henry McGovern. Henry is the CEO of a company, and they have over 1,600 restaurants, primarily serving the European Union area. It’s quite a spectacular company. Since 2005, they have outperformed every other food service company by a significant margin. They’ve increased in value over 1,700%. They have 38,000 employees, and Henry McGovern stated, “We are far more a training company than we are a restaurant company.” In other words, he understands that what makes his people great is the fact that they master these kinds of principles that we’re talking about today. So, for a relatively modest investment and especially compared to the impact on your people and the culture and the strategy and value, the revenues, you can become a licensee—a certified organization. You can certify within your company, hand-picked trainers, and systematically train not only every key employee but really every employee and associate. This is a transformational process that creates sustainable high performance. It teaches people to do exactly what this study that I referred to before, and it helps them become XPs. So, on our podcast show, we frequently ask our guests—and when we are guests on other shows—what are tips that we have for our listeners. Well, this may sound a little biased today—which we rarely do [laughs], I might add—but I will say that as I have had the opportunity to go all over the world, there’s nothing like Becoming Your Best. As comprehensive as it is and the 12 principles, and the accompanying processes, and the impact that it has, we see this over and over. So, my tip today, our invitation to you: whether you are a leader within an organization, at any level. It might be the CEO, and you can have an impact on the whole organization, or perhaps you’re a division leader or a team leader. Maybe you are a parent. Well, this applies across the board. So, our invitation is to take action and learn about the Becoming Your Best Certified Organization (CO), which is completely unique in teaching you and your employees the right things to do and produce within them the knowledge, behaviors, and habits that lead to high performance. This decision and action will transform and maintain, over time, your people, your culture, your strategy into sustainable, long-term, high performance. Individually and as an organization. The very same holds true within a family. What a great way to teach your children! You can do the very same thing: become a certified family. To teach these and use all of the assets, all of the power points and clips that we use, to teach with your organization or your children. The result is the right set of behaviors that produce this outcome. To learn more about becoming a certified organization, or a certified family, simply contact us at email@example.com. We can provide you with the details. The process is simple. Understand that the impact of Becoming Your Best and the 12 Principles that it can have on your organization. That you can become licensed. You can send hand-picked individuals there. We have Becoming Your Best: Train the Trainer courses all around the country and world. You simply join us for a 2 ½ day conference—that’s how you get certified. Then, you roll out the training—one principle a week program—company-wide, deep, and broad, and then watch the transformation that it has. Turn your organization into a leadership university of high performance that’s rich in resource for your employees. The outcome is that your employees join the ranks of highly successful leaders that become SHPs—that become the XPs—and change the teams, the organizations, and your families, and the world for good. This will be one of the most important actions and investments in your career. Throughout the world, with highly successful organizations, we see this kind of an impact over and over. Your people and teams and organizations will be blessed by the extraordinary impact of your highly successful leadership. You’ll look back at the end of your career and say to yourself, “That was one of the most important things I did. That was one of the most important investments I made.” Well, I hope that this has stimulated some thoughts and ideas about what we can do as leaders to shift the needle, to make a difference, to make sure that our companies are not only in the top tier of performing organizations within our industries, but that they continue to be that way. This has been a delight to be together with you today, and I wish you the best as you make a difference every single day in the lives of others. This is Steve Shallenberger, wishing you a great day.
Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to this podcast, wherever you may be today. Yesterday, Roxanne – my wife – and I, celebrated our 45th Wedding Anniversary. First of all, I thought people who celebrated a milestone anniversary like a 40th or 50th anniversary, were old, and now that we are here, we feel so young for being married 45 years.
Steve Shallenberger: As I was thinking about an upcoming podcast and subjects that I might speak on or share, I had just recorded a podcast that I didn’t feel great about. Our Operations Manager suggested that I’d do one on marriage since we had just celebrated our 45th Anniversary and share, maybe, some of the lessons learned. So, here we are doing this podcast. I feel like the older I get, the less I know, but as I look back, I am so grateful for the advice that I asked for, sometimes didn’t ask for, from couples and individuals that had figured out how to make their marriage work.
Steve Shallenberger: As a little background on this: Both sets of my grandparents celebrated their 50th anniversaries, my wife’s parents did; my own parents were not as fortunate. Both great people that I love dearly, they were divorced when I was 14. Both of my parents were divorced twice. Dad was married three times and Mom twice. I was blessed with some amazing, not only parents but mentors. Of these seven mentors, every one ended up being married for over 50 years each. I learned a great deal from this wide variety of experiences, on both sides of things. Each of our six children are married. One has had a retreaded marriage, but doing really extraordinary, and made the best of that circumstance, both of them have, and they have a great family.
Steve Shallenberger: Today, I would like to share 6 essential things you can do to have a successful marriage, a successful partnership. Number one is to have a Couple’s Vision and Set Annual Goals. Create a couple’s vision and as you set these goals together, the vision is the direction that you choose to journey together, this is what we expect, this is what we see. And this is something that you create, you carry the weather inside and it’s not based on what’s going on outside, so it sets the direction, the goals are what you’re going to do each year together to realize that vision. It helps maintain and keep a relationship fresh and vibrant. It’s interesting because as you have your own personal vision, in contrast to a couple’s vision or a family’s vision, it really helps you describe what kind of spouse or partner or parent you desire to be.
Steve Shallenberger: So, for example, my personal vision contrasts with the couple one, but they all point to the direction and my personal one is what I’m going to do. The couple’s one is what WE are going to do. Mine is to help Roxanne feel like a 10, so that’s a big deal for me. As children come along, you may create a family vision and these other five things that we’re going to talk about today, can all be part of your vision.
Steve Shallenberger: Here is an example of maybe – I just jotted down some things – what it might look like: We show our love by our actions of fidelity, respect, and admiration for one another. We can solve all things together. We only speak positively about one another and never speak negatively of one another in each other’s absence. We can trust one another and are worthy of that trust. We keep the flame of our marriage bright by regular dates, healthy communication, helping each other grow. We pray, go to church together, and read the scriptures together. We do the same with our children. We are patient, kind and forgiving to one another. We create regular couple and family memories. We create our future by setting meaningful goals each year, and we set up solid financial management and we have fun together.
Steve Shallenberger: Now, think if that is your couple’s vision or something like it. I mean, you are going to design whatever is yours, it will be completely unique. Now, as you regularly discuss it, print it out, put it on the wall, talk about it. It helps you make decisions and take control of your future to the best that you can, at least on the things that you can control.
Steve Shallenberger: Number two is to Be an Effective Communicator. This is both a Mindset and a Skillset. In other words, the mindset is, “I want and need to listen. I care.” Good communication builds trust, it shows respect, it helps us to better understand one another, and how to solve problems together. And no yelling at each other. Maybe, from my wonderful blessed parents, for whatever reason, this was present, and it was so upsetting, so destructive. So, just be patient and forgiving. No one is perfect. If you’re upset, go out and walk until you feel calmed down. Count to 100 or whatever it takes, but things will pass and then you’ll get to a better place and its easier to solve the issues. Look for the good in your spouse, in your partner. Have a gratitude sheet. List all of the things that you admire in your spouse and partner.
Steve Shallenberger: Remember that there are two sides of a communication coin and this is a good way to mentally think about it. The one side, and this is the skill part, and that is, when your partner shares something with them, thank them, acknowledge that, take a breath regardless of how complicated it is or how emotional it might be, just say, “Thank you, for taking the time to share that” and then be sure you’ve captured and can share back with them whatever they’ve shared with you – the content, the emotion, what’s in their heart, and just say, “Let me be sure I’ve got it!” Now, by doing this, this skill, it is a game-changer, totally, because now you listen until they feel like they’ve been able to express, there’s no interrupting, there’s no sharing your thoughts. Side one is just being sure you got it.
Steve Shallenberger: And then, you can go to finding effective solutions from there. That’s side two. You can either initiate this yourself or build upon on what was just shared on side one, but side two is something like this, “I’ve been thinking about something and would love to get your thoughts on it. What are your thoughts?” And then, you go to work and really genuinely listen and problem-solve together. See what a shift that is from blaming or just sharing an emotion without getting to a productive place. So that side one-side two of the communication coin is wonderful!
Steve Shallenberger: And then, you have a tool, the 6-step process, to work through problems. You can get a free copy of the six steps, just write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. What an amazing tool! That is a worksheet that comes from our second book, “The Transformation Challenge: The Six- Steps of Planning and Execution.” Wonderful process!
Steve Shallenberger: So, that’s Number two. Number one is to create your own couple’s and personal vision. Number two, then, is to be an effective communicator. Number three is to Have Couple and Family Traditions. For example, say – this is a great tradition – “Love you” every night before you go to sleep or when you leave each other or in the conversation on the phone. Have, as part of your family traditions, regular breakfast and dinner together where you can talk and visit. Worship together and share your faith with one another. Play games together. Set goals together. Brainstorm as a couple and as a family on things you might do. Annual photos and photo books – our daughter Anne is a master at this, she does a photo book of their marriage and family every year. They’re priceless. Have family reunions. This is,I talk about memories and time bonds together. And then, Sundays, just one thought for your recommendations, as you’re setting your traditions. In our family, as our children were growing up, they could not play with neighbors on Sundays or go out with friends on that day. This was a special day for our family, and we played together, we talked together, we watched uplifting movies together on that day.
Steve Shallenberger: Another tradition we had was job charts. Roxanne was a master at helping set up responsibilities and rewards and this is where the children did their part. All of these things help to strengthen your relationship as a couple. You are yoked together. And do pre-week planning together, each week, and sync up your calendars, especially around what matters most. Find common interests. Exercise together where it fits, or play cards together, read together, watch movies, have fun and laugh. Share the duties. Change diapers – that’s for me to change the diapers. Help with the dishes. I like this little quote, one of Roxanne’s favorites, “I love hugs and I love kisses, but what I love most is help with the dishes.” So there are things that we can do that really make a difference. That’s number three.
Steve Shallenberger: Number four is, Encourage your wife, your husband, your spouse, and partner, to grow. Help them spread their wings. Have their own friends develop their interest, recognize the good in them. It is nice when what they’re doing aligns with what you’re doing, but that is not always required. We have different interests and feelings and emotions. Roxanne, for example, took trips with her brothers and sisters without me, many times because I had a conflict with work, but they went to China, they went to Russia, they went to Thailand and Cambodia. This is over the years. She graduated with her Bachelor Degree while carrying our third child, Stephen. She became an EMT, we ran a marathon together. Why? Because she came home one day and said, “I want to run a marathon.” Even though I swore I’d never do something like that to my body, I said, “Hey, okay, I’ll do it with you.” Wow, did we have a great time! And she has supported me in starting businesses and wow, so amazing! So, encourage one another, support one another!
Steve Shallenberger: Number five of the six is to Be faithful. Again, these are just things that I’m recommending. You’re going to have maybe your own list, but over all these years, 45 years of being married, and I know there’s a lot of people that have been married longer, I was sitting next to a couple yesterday, on the plane, they were celebrating their 25th anniversary. All of these fit. So, have rules to protect you. A really wonderful friend of mine, when I was just getting married, recommended this. He said, “You are going to travel a lot, probably, during your career. And maybe sometime you’ll get in late in a hotel and be in the restaurant and you’ll see a woman that looks down or lonely, sitting at a table by herself.” He said, “Never go over and help.” In other words, don’t put yourself at risk. My thought was that was great advice, I’ve tried to keep it. Another is, great advice, “Never be alone with a member of the opposite sex”, where you could be accused of something or just get in an awkward situation. Leave the door open when you’re with another person like that. And then, certainly, don’t flirt outside of your marriage. These are just a few things that can destroy a marriage or relationship, faster than just about anything else. Infidelity is poison, so stay away from it.
Steve Shallenberger: So, there’s five so far, right? The first one is to have your own couple’s and personal vision. Number two is to be an effective communicator, number three is to have traditions that are powerful and build. Number four is to encourage your partner to grow, support them in their interest. Number five is to be faithful. And number six is Never give up! Not on your marriage, not on each other. One of our employees, Eldeane Sheffer – who was along with Janet Jameson among our all-time great sales reps – was married to a great guy by the name of Bert. I remember talking with Eldeane one time. She said, “We’ve been married for 25 years and most of them have been happy.” I really laughed at that. She ended up being married for over 60 years before she passed away. I found her comments, actually, to be true for us, anyhow. We’ve had a lot of really great years, but we’ve had some hard years. So, for example, year 2, year 5, year, 7, year 11, year 25. Things happen in life and you just can’t give up, you’ve got to stay right in there. And for us, at any rate, I can tell you that after that time sometime, we started to experience the very best of the best, and really, now, for the last couple of decades. So it’s worth hanging in there and you can weather the challenges that come up. Sometimes, it can be tough but just make this one of your hallmarks because you’re not going to give up on your marriage or each other. You’re going to hang in there. So, be determined that you will be accountable, that you will take responsibility for your actions so, no blaming or criticizing. If you happen to blow up or do something dumb, which I’ve made mistakes, I’ve been impatient for example, well, I apologized and did better. I told Roxanne that I was sorry and then I kept trying. So, keep trying and one day things get a whole lot easier.
Steve Shallenberger: So, the conclusion here is, may these six essentials be of help to you. You are probably doing most of them right now, and if so, I expect you are working through things to have a great marriage, a great partnership. Marriage is definitely a ride. It is amazing and fulfilling! What a journey! With time it becomes like the greatest jewel, the greatest treasure on earth. And it is so nice that you can travel with someone you care for.
Steve Shallenberger: Now, just a couple of reflections: To the younger generation, make finding a great partner and getting married a top priority in life. Don’t wait until you’re older, unless you just have to, you just couldn’t find someone. And don’t wait until you can afford it, which could never happen. Maybe you can never afford it, or don’t wait, really, until you graduate, perhaps. Done correctly, courtship and marriage is so much better than being alone. Take on life together! There is serious research that supports marriage and working together with one another, is better than being alone. Yeah, is there a risk that things won’t work out? Well, of course! Can you do a do-over, if they don’t? Well, of course! But it is worth the risk. I know it’s putting yourself out there, but that’s the way it is. We do this all throughout life and it is how we grow and learn.
Steve Shallenberger: So, do these 6 essentials and they will help improve your odds and your happiness. Now, as I wrap up this podcast today, I wish to pay a special tribute to my wife, Roxanne, of 45 years. Oh, I appreciate her laughter and patience, her will power, kindness, faithfulness, patience – I know I’ve already said that once but it is worth repeating – her encouragement, her drive, her elegance, her intelligence, her athleticism, her friendship, her companionship, her emotions. We’ve cried together, we’ve laughed together, we’ve often said, “We could cry at the ribbon cutting of a grocery store.” Well, we’ve had fun in that way, and I’m glad that’s one of the things that we’re alike. And her commitment to everything that is good. One of the very most important decisions of my life was to marry Roxanne and I will forever be grateful for her.
Steve Shallenberger: I wish to share a song and a poem that reflect my feelings for her. They come from different sources. The first, I’m sure that you’ve heard, I’m including the lyrics here, in the transcription of this podcast, but I grabbed one of these, off of a soundtrack here, and it’s by Bette Midler, “The wind beneath my wings” that totally describes Roxanne. I hope that you can hear it okay, and I hope Bette doesn’t mind me playing it. If she objects to its inclusion, we will happily remove it from the podcast. But, it’s dedicated to her, and thank you, Bette, for this masterpiece!
Ohhhh, oh, oh, oh, ohhh.
It must have been cold there in my shadow,
to never have sunlight on your face.
You were content to let me shine, that’s your way.
You always walked a step behind.
So I was the one with all the glory,
while you were the one with all the strain.
A beautiful face without a name for so long.
A beautiful smile to hide the pain.
Did you ever know that you’re my hero,
and everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
for you are the wind beneath my wings.
It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
but I’ve got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course, I know it.
I would be nothing without you.
Did you ever know that you’re my hero?
You’re everything I wish I could be.
I could fly higher than an eagle,
for you are the wind beneath my wings.
Did I ever tell you you’re my hero?
You’re everything, everything I wish I could be.
Oh, and I, I could fly higher than an eagle,
for you are the wind beneath my wings,
’cause you are the wind beneath my wings.
Oh, the wind beneath my wings.
You, you, you, you are the wind beneath my wings.
Fly, fly, fly away. You let me fly so high.
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.
Fly, fly, fly high against the sky,
so high I almost touch the sky.
Thank you, thank you,
thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings.
Steve Shallenberger: Thank you, Bette, and thank you, Roxanne! The second one I wish to share and dedicate to Roxanne, is “How Do I Love Thee?” It’s Sonnet 43, from Elizabeth Barrett Browning – 1806-1861.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height that
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being an ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my own griefs, and with my own childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Steve Shallenberger: So, to all of you out there contemplating marriage, go for it! For those of you who are married cherish it while you can. It goes faster than you can imagine. Seize the day, and wherever you are in the process, whether it is, in terms of an anniversary, anniversary #1, #5, #10, #25, #50 or more, Happy Anniversary and Congratulations!
This is Steve Shallenberger, with Becoming Your Best Global Leadership, wishing you a great day!
Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to all of our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners, wherever you may be in the world! This is your host, Steve Shallenberger, and we have a great guest, very interesting, on the show today. He has a terrific background – businessman, musician, public speaker, he has built dozens of web and mobile products, his product portfolio ranges from language learning products for the US Military to the most popular free CRM product in the world. Welcome, Christopher O’Donnell!
Christopher O’Donnell: Thanks for having me, Steve, I’m very excited to be here!
Steve Shallenberger: We’re going to have some fun today! Before we get started, I’d like to tell you a little bit more about Christopher. He serves as a Senior Vice President of Product at HubSpot, which he led from startup to a successful publicly-traded company, he is a passionate individual about leading and supporting teams, really, to build anything, from developing tech products, creating rock & roll records, which we are going to hear more about in just a moment. Christopher is a frequent guest lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management, and major global corporations, speaking on topics like leadership and team building to audiences of over 10,000. Outside of his day job, Christopher spends his time as a songwriter, and a guitarist for his band, The Providers, with whom he has recorded dozens of albums across a variety of genres. So, this is going to be fun today. So, Christopher, tell us about your background, where were you raised and what were the things that led you to get to where you are today? We’d love to hear about your background!
Christopher O’Donnell: Sure thing, Steve, yeah. So, I had sort of an interesting, meandering kind of career path and background. I’ve lived in New England my whole life though I was born in San Francisco, we moved within a month out to the East Coast, so I’ve lived out here my whole life within a couple of hours of Boston in one direction or another through college and everything. And the two things I was drawn to more than anything else from a very early age were technology and music and even before I was old enough to get involved in technology, I was the kid in the basement with the glue gun trying to glue balls of wood together and build airplanes and sort of build stuff, go-karts and everything else. So that’s my DNA as a builder and a maker and that sort of led me at this point, 38 years old, building and leading teams, that’s sort of the product that I work on, although we also obviously have products that we build ourselves.
Christopher O’Donnell: And so, along the way there, I went to school for actually, literally, computers and music. I got my undergrad degree in Rhode Island from Brown University in music, but specifically, the major was computers and music, which felt like, maybe a little bit of liberal arts vacation at the time. It was really fun and really challenging and I got to learn important language and I played a lot of music and did a lot of coding and all this kind of stuff. I didn’t quite know how that was going to translate into a career and here, a couple of decades later, it actually has, and those are the things I spend my time doing. I’ve been living in the Boston Cambridge area, working on technology products for the last 10-15 years and I’m really loving it. Outside of that, I’m in a band called, The Providers, we record a lot of music, always writing music and recording music, publishing that, people can learn about that at theproviders.com, and beyond that, I’m a husband and a father and a family guy – I think that kind of comes first through all this.
Steve Shallenberger: It sure does! Well, that’s great! Good priority. So, you mean you actually go out and do gigs with your band? Tell us about that.
Christopher O’Donnell: Yeah. Well, it’s funny because we’re really in an old school Steely Dan studio band. That’s how we spend our time, it’s the songwriting and production and the creative process of building the recordings. And we don’t actually play a lot, which is interesting, I think at some point we will cross that bridge. It’s this funny atmosphere where, it’s almost like 1974, being in a big recording studio, with grumpy opinionated session musicians coming in to play their parts and trying to get the whole thing to sit just right and get that magic moment that you’re looking for that you can keep forever as a recording. In a lot of ways, it’s very similar to what I do at work.
Steve Shallenberger: That’s great! And you enjoy it, and it works?
Christopher O’Donnell: I love it! I mean, I love making things and I love storytelling. In product management, my day job, there’s a ton of storytelling involved in modern leadership of creative individuals. It’s really about story, it’s really about context and I think the best vehicle possible, at least for me, in my own human experience, to hear a story and experience a story and all of the associated emotions, is really through song. And that’s kind of, on a personal level, the goal I will keep reaching for, the great American rock song.
Steve Shallenberger: I love it! Oh, that’s good. Tell us about HubSpot. How did you become involved with HubSpot? Tell us about the adventure of HubSpot and what’s happening today with it?
Christopher O’Donnell: Yeah, HubSpot is just a fascinating enterprise and community and ecosystem. The company was started, perhaps 14 years ago, by a couple of fellows, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, who are still leading the company today, who met at MIT Sloan and had this insight that was just really remarkable and really brilliant, which was that the way that people shop and buy has fundamentally changed, forever. And for small business, on a limited budget with limited resources, it was going to be really hard for people to pivot and stay in business. In the ’80s and the ’90s and the early aughts, you could still put Yellow Pages ads out, you could go to trade shows, you could knock on doors, you could do these kinds of things and generate business. In the modern world of today and even up 10 years ago, where do we go to research products? Well, we go to the search engines, we go to our friends for referrals, is a totally different power dynamic that puts the buyer in control.
Christopher O’Donnell: Alright, so where’s the business opportunity in that? Build software tools, build a unified all-in-one platform, so that a business of really any size can adopt these best practices, can have a website, can have an email marketing list, can have a CRM, can have customer engagement tools, all in one place; and that’s what they asked me to come help build, when I joined the company, about eight, nine years ago. My time here has been entirely on the product side, though I find it fascinating to watch the other functions grow, I find it fascinating to learn about sales, and service, and finance, and marketing, and all these wonderful folks that I get to work with. My time has been in the product side, working with engineering, working with design and trying to be very customer driven and understand what the market is looking for from us and translate that into a product that really delivers and delights on that promise.
Christopher O’Donnell: And where we are today, we’re a publicly-traded company, market cap over $7 billion, at this time, so we’re a small-cap company, we’ve been in the public market for a few years and that’s been really fascinating for me to see, from the inside, I joined around employee 200-230, something like that, and now we’re over 3000 employees, we have eight offices around the world, from Cambridge to Dublin, to Tokyo, you name it! So it’s just fascinating to see all of these departments, the green shoots of all these ideas, turn into a really growing, thriving company and customer ecosystem, that largely gathers around our annual event, that we call Inbound, which is in Boston in September, people can check inbound.com. We have great speakers, we have Michelle Obama come to speak, Serena Williams, we’ve had some really amazing people come and help lead our community. It’s just a fascinating movement, even more than a product or an enterprise.
Steve Shallenberger: I bet that’s been amazing and gratifying to see where it’s at today because it’s not easy to do that, is it?
Christopher O’Donnell: I’ve really largely grown up here, but I can’t imagine this is typical and is certainly very humbling, very, very humbling.
Steve Shallenberger: That’s great! Good going! And so, we’re talking about music and talking about business and growing business enterprise. What are the similarities, Christopher, between creating a rock&roll album, and developing a successful tech product?
Christopher O’Donnell: It’s a great question! And a lot of people find this to be an interesting topic, I’ve learned over the years. It’s a question I get in a lot of Q&A’s. You know, you wake up in the morning and your goal is to build something that you can’t quite describe, that is going to require a lot of creative contributors, who probably are way better than you, in their particular discipline than you are, and it’s your job to get everybody in the room and build a vision and execute on that vision and to get the absolute best out of each of these people, across all of these disciplines, and to build something that without you there, as the producer, people wouldn’t do anything. And so, that’s the same challenge, whether you’re going into the studio to record a song, make a record or walking into a high-tech company to build something from scratch, that people are going to love and share with friends and pay for, and be very happy with, it starts at the same place – what’s the need, what’s the vision, and how do you let people project their own talents into that vision?
Christopher O’Donnell: In the case of a song, the drummer understands, “Oh, okay, I see the tempo, I see the feel, I see the sounds, I see points of reference from records that we’re discussing here, I have an idea of where we’re headed with this. How about this? How about I try this? How about I try this?” And then, on the tech side, an engineer coming in and saying, “Oh, okay, so they’re going to need something, oh this is going to be a mobile app. Okay, that makes a lot of sense. Let’s talk about it, how is it going to feel? Here are the right technologies for that; here’s the right way for us to think about building and deploying that.” You know, all of these things, where you walk in, and you’re not walking in with all the answers, you’re not walking in, as the producer, and say, “Okay, here are your drumsticks, here is every note you need no play, now go play.” And you’re not walking over to the engineer with 500 page Word document, saying, “Go code. Essentially, I’ve written the code for you in a Word document, now go pound it out on the keyboard.” It doesn’t work that way.
Steve Shallenberger: Yeah, right!
Christopher O’Donnell: Engineers and designers and also engineers on the music side, by the way, there’s a deep level of science and physics and engineering that happens in both of these things, whether it’s acoustic or whether it’s 1s and 0s and the nature of the Internet and fiber connections and all the rest of that, it’s very, very similar. What you want to do, is you want to build an amazing creative team, that pushes back on the vision, understands the vision, then gets very excited about it and brings ideas to the table that you could’ve never suggested to them. And then, have the culture and the sort of the safety between those creative people across disciplines to try things and share ideas and go a little bit down this road, go a little bit down that road, show things to customers, get feedback and iterate. When I think about modern leadership and how people want to work, and particularly, how people just do their best, most fulfilling work, that’s really the goal. And I think that if you adopt that mindset, I think you can make anything, whether you’re trying to make a rocket or you’re trying to make a dining room table, you’re trying to make a jazz record, I think that these are all… All of these challenges – interdisciplinary, creative, innovation challenges – benefit from this type of leadership mindset.
Steve Shallenberger: Oh, great answer! I loved it! And, you know, this is an exciting time, and one of the things that Christopher just mentioned was, you’re not walking into the room with all the answers. If there’s anything that describes today’s world, that’s it!
Christopher O’Donnell: Oh, my goodness! Man, I mean, in the minute you think you have it figured out, even if you did have it figured out, as a leader, even if you did have all the answers, give it 24 hours and the answers are going to change, just with the rate of innovation and the way the world is changing. People talk about impostor syndrome and feeling like you’re not qualified to be doing your job these days, and I just don’t think anybody is qualified. Hopefully, neurosurgeons are qualified to do their job, but when it comes to information work, I mean, we’re all really just trying to understand how to ride the wave and how to bring our best and become our best, as that best in that target, in those goal posters, are constantly moving, absolutely!
Steve Shallenberger: Yeah, totally! We love that kind of language, Christopher! Words like, your best, becoming your best, bringing the best out in people, I mean, that’s what brings excitement to life right there, into organizations, and we are in a great time. I mean, last week we all celebrated 50 years of man walking on the moon for the first time and just think about what Christopher just talked about, what creates this excellence, what creates a great outcome. Well, it all starts with a vision. Think about the vision that Kennedy articulated, about that, “We will send a man to the moon and bring him back safely within the decade.” It just changed everything, that’s leadership. We were at Machu Picchu about a year and a half ago. Same principles. I mean, it’s vision, you’ve got to organize it, they didn’t have all the answers, got to figure out how to do it, set up a plan, and I like the science of engineering, you’ve got to apply some tools here, and bring it all together to get that great outcome. So, just thinking about this whole thing that we’re talking about, from your experience, Christopher, what are the key elements to building sustainable high-performance creative teams?
Christopher O’Donnell: Well, I think you just, really, touched on some of the best ones and that’s a great intro to a great question. Setting a vision and a challenge and giving people the autonomy and the space within that challenge to do their best work, is absolutely the foundation. John F. Kennedy didn’t know how to make a spacesuit, and people, as I understand it, across the nation, people said, “This is preposterous, how are we going to do this?” And it’s exciting, too. And then, people started to say, “Well, you know, as a materials engineer, I guess we need a way to have fabrics that stick to each other, we need to do this, or we need a different kind of wiring, or we need our computers to have this much memory or whatever else it may be.” And who ended up making the spacesuits, as I understand it, I may have this wrong, but as I understand it, the spacesuit material was made by Playtex because they just had the best fabric science, or whatever you call it, materials engineers for that kind of problem.
Christopher O’Donnell: And so, I think that’s really the starting point and that starts in recruiting. That starts in how you talk to the mission of your team with your parents, with your family, with your kids. What is the mission, the sense of urgency, the opportunity, and is it just pouring out of you? And from an interview and saying, “Look, this is what we’re trying to go and do”, and getting people excited and getting people like JFK did, getting people to say, “Boy, I see where I fit.” There’s this idea of diversity and inclusivity and now being expanded to diversity, inclusivity, and belonging. And I think the idea of belonging is so critical to doing high-performance creative work because you have to feel like you belong there, you have to feel as though your ideas are valuable. You have to feel as though you have the support of the people around you, that people are going to listen, that you’re able to listen, and that you’re not always looking over your shoulder. And so that’s kind of the next piece.
Christopher O’Donnell: The first piece is really about vision and energy, and then autonomy within that, and saying, “Look, you’re going to come here, you’re going to be a part of this team, and people are going to listen to you.” If you are a session musician and you come in, you say, “Boy, I just really think that we could rearrange the tune this way.” Well, okay, this is an environment where you can say that and making that very clear to people. And what happens is better and better people want to become part of that team, the more you live up to that promise. It’s this idea of, what’s the opposite of a micromanager? A macro manager! It’s like, how do you become a macro manager, where it’s very clear to people on the team, here’s your box; within your box, you can try stuff, within your box you can fail, within your box, you can really move and try things and not fear any kind of consequences, really. And that box may be very small and it probably ought to be very small at first, and then grow over time.
Christopher O’Donnell: And so then, the third piece there is attracting great people, bringing the best out of those people and then showing the world that. I mean, we pull people in, all the time, “Come walk around, come have a coffee, come sit with a team, see how we work, and think about whether it’s for you.” And what people end up finding is they do want to come and be a part of it, and the main reason is, it’s not me, it’s not even the mission necessarily, it’s the pears. And so, you can snowball in this direction. You know, they say, A players hire A players, B players hire C players. Well, okay, maybe that’s true, I don’t know, but what I do know is that when I can hire somebody who is significantly better than me, they hire people who are better than them. And now you’re cooking! And developing people through their career and bringing out the best, that’s how you start to scale, that’s how you start to really do this, beyond two or three people working together at a little startup, around a little team and start to get to a point where we have hundreds and hundreds of people working on this product. And they still feel totally invested in solving customer problems.
Christopher O’Donnell: And we have a culture where customer problems and solving hard problems is the most prized and rewarded thing you can do, and we give you all the tools to do it. So that’s a big investment and within a larger enterprise it can be a really scary one, where, as a leader and a manager, boy, prepare yourself to walk in the meetings and say, “We don’t have the answer yet.” Prepare to say, “We didn’t make a deadline.” Prepare to take the blame and then go back to your team and get them super excited. But that team is going to win. Small, lean, autonomous teams that have a very strategic mindset can connect the dots all the way between the macro opportunity of the business and the challenges that face today, down to the work that they are doing every minute and every hour. Let them connect those dots, help them connect those dots, and don’t just give them work orders because you’ll never connect the dots as well and as completely as they will in their own imagination, if you give them the chance.
Steve Shallenberger: Yeah, great advice! I mean, these are the principles that we’ve also seen, we were just talking about Becoming your Best, the 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders before we started our show today and this has been a long 40 years of research on what outstanding, high-performers do over and over again and this is what Christopher is talking about today, these are the things, this is not rocket science but it’s not easy to do. I mean, leadership is creating this vision that’s exciting! I’m so glad you brought this up and once you have that, then it is getting the people around you that can buy into that and create this environment where they can thrive. I love what you’re describing! And to take responsibility for the outcome, and you make the adjustments, and you build high trust so that you can solve problems and make it fun! Way to go! That’s good stuff! I was just thinking, I read a quote yesterday, Christopher, because one of the grand things of leadership is this ability to say, “Hold it!” Set the direction, the vision, and sometimes we’re actually can be limited by that or trust forward with it. Here’s the quote: “Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinman. And I love it! That’s just part of what we do every day and you don’t get too big for it, it’s about changing the world and solving problems and finding joy in your work, so that was so fun! Way to go, Christopher, well done!
Christopher O’Donnell: I’ll tell you. This may seem off-topic, but I really don’t think it is. I was putting my son to bed the other night, he’s six, and he asked me a question. He and his sister, they’re four and six, and they’re wildly into imaginative play – from the minute they get up, they want to be ninjas or princesses or lizards or whatever it is, it’s totally real to them and it’s this amazing thing! And as a grown-up, you get wrapped up in it and have a ton of fun with them. But sometimes, grown-ups don’t want to do that. We’re trying to have a grown-up conversation, we’re having a dinner party or whatever it is. So, my son asked me, he says, “Why don’t grown-ups like playing as much as we do?” It was a brilliant question, right? And I said to him, I should’ve just said to myself but I just told them honestly, I said, “Well, you know, as you grow up, you lose your imagination.” And I saw the look on his face. This was the scariest thing that I could possibly tell him. I mean, when he found out that animals and humans pass away, he sort of said, “Boy, that’s sad, but that kind of makes sense.” This didn’t make sense!
Steve Shallenberger: Wow! I love it, yeah!
Christopher O’Donnell: The idea that, as he at his next birthday, this world that he creates for himself is going to be less vivid, and that by the time he’s my age, that world won’t exist at all, this was the greatest possible loss that I could explain to him. And I had to walk it back a little bit. And walking it back with him, I really sort of traversed what was important to me in leadership and working with creative people, which is, “Okay, what are all of the things that we have to do as grown-ups, to not lose our imagination?” Why don’t we speak up? Why don’t we suggest these things? Why don’t we play these games, why don’t we do this stuff? Because we’re scared and what are we scared of? Well, we’re scared of how we’re going to look. Okay, great, so if you pull all those threads and then you go back to your team and you go back to walking in the building Monday morning and you start looking for them. And you start looking for the reward system, you start looking for things you can do, that will get you in trouble for using your imagination.
Christopher O’Donnell: Google calls it psychological safety. They did this huge Project Aristotle on the factors that lead to creative, innovative teams. And psychological safety is sort of a hierarchy, that’s the foundation. What I love about HubSpot is, we’d be halfway through some huge Executive Presentation and somebody would raise their hand and say, “I didn’t understand that last part.” From the CEO to me, to somebody on my team, if we don’t understand an acronym or we’re lost in the conversation, we’ll ask a friend or we’ll stop the conversation and say, “Boy, this seems really important! Could somebody explain this to me?” And it creates this teaching hospital kind of environment where it’s like, “Oh, yeah, great!” Hop up at the whiteboard and explain this. I had one-on-ones with my boss, who used to be a public company CFO, and I’ll say to him one-on-one, “Hey, I don’t actually understand the difference between bookings and billings in this context” and he’ll go, “Oh, okay, let me explain it to you!” And he’ll grab a whiteboard and he’ll explain it to me.
Christopher O’Donnell: And when you show people that, and as a leader you have to do that, you can’t expect your team to do that, you have to actually be the one raising your hand stopping the meeting, saying, “I didn’t get that!” And so, it really starts at the top, but it creates an environment where people can kind of say, “Here’s where I feel comfortable, here’s where I am not comfortable” and from there, the daydreaming starts to happen, because it becomes cool to daydream, it becomes cool to ask questions and be curious, and that link between curiosity and dreaming, from there, once that’s happening, getting it down into project plans and decisions that need to be made, it’s not actually the hard part. The hard part is getting people to speak up and say, “Boy, maybe we’re thinking about this totally the wrong way. Hear me out on this” And then, boom! And then have the room to kind of sit and listen and react. That I think is really what we’re after here, and I find it amazing that my son picked up on it so quickly and really, in many ways showed it to me.
Steve Shallenberger: That’s a great story, and a breath of fresh air, so fun! What’s his name?
Christopher O’Donnell: His name is Caleb.
Steve Shallenberger: Oh, that’s great! What a fun story! And, how important it is that this is one of the things we create within our organizations, that kind of feeling. I mean, man, we’ve got to totally push back on that, we’ve got to give air to our creativity, to our imagination and it’s so magical of what it can do for all of us. Good! Well, I’m just always shocked by how fast time goes, and we’re at the end of our show today. This has been fun, Christopher! Now, any final tips that you might be able to leave with our listeners that you think would be helpful in their success?
Christopher O’Donnell: Well, I’ll put a plug in to come work with us.
Steve Shallenberger: There we go! I love it!
Christopher O’Donnell: We have hundreds of open roles, hubspot.com/jobs, put the impostor’s syndrome aside that we all have, and go raise your hand on there. We’re leaning more into remote work, we have eight offices around the world, there are tons of opportunities across all of our departments – sales, product, you name it! Come talk to us and have a conversation about joining the team. We’d love to have that conversation! Beyond that, try to get enough sleep, hug your kids tight, what can I say, I’m not the wisest person in terms of advice but I’m learning every day and I’m trying to have fun doing it.
Steve Shallenberger: Alright, that’s pretty good advice! Get sleep and hug each other and be kind to people and have fun, so good going! How can people find out about what you’re doing?
Christopher O’Donnell: In addition to hubspot.com/jobs, check out the band, theproviders.com, we are releasing music consistently. It’s sort of this modern format where we’re going to be releasing music on an ongoing basis and telling the story around our creative process. It’s going to be a ton of fun! People can go to theproviders.com and pop their email address in and be a part of that story with us, we’d love that!
Steve Shallenberger: Great! Well, thank you so much, Christopher for being part of this show today, it’s been a lot of fun, it’s been great take-home value, it’s been inspirational, a lot of creative ideas and encouraging. So, thank you so much! It’s been a thrill to have you!
Christopher O’Donnell: My pleasure! And Steve, thank you very much for opening your doors here. I hope to have another conversation with you in the future!
Steve Shallenberger: You bet! For all of our listeners, you’re a big part of this magical feeling of touching everybody that you do, to have the chance to lift with the type of things we’ve been talking about. You’re amazing, it’s an honor to be able to associate with you and have you with us today, we know your time is valuable. And you lift us, as much as maybe you might get something out of this, that’s helpful to you. So we wish you the best today, and every day. This is Steve Shallenberger, with Becoming Your Best, wishing you a great day!
Rob Shallenberger: Good morning or good afternoon! This is Rob Shallenberger, your friend, your host today, and wherever you’re at in the world, the hope is from us that you’re having a great day! We just looked at a map of people who listen to this podcast and there are very few countries that are exempt. I mean, Russia to Australia, to China, South America, all over the place! So we welcome you, and the hope is that these podcasts are helpful to you in a way that we can just get one idea from the podcast. When we do this, that’s the intent, it’s just to share one idea. When I go into a mastermind or conference or anything, I’m going into that with the hope that I can walk out of there with just one idea. And if anything on top of that comes from it, then I consider that to be a bonus. So that’s the hope from this podcast, is that you can just get one idea, something that will have an impact and help you in some way in your life.
Rob Shallenberger: I’m going to share with you something a little bit personal to me, today, because often times we don’t get the chance to really have deep, personal conversations in our current culture because everyone is so afraid of being offended, it seems like. And so, we’re so guarded in our conversations, at least that’s been my perception. One of the observations that I’ve made as I traveled the world working with different organizations, whether it’s Africa, whether it’s Central South America, the Philippines, throughout the United States, there’s a few things that it seems like almost everyone is searching for, and that’s happiness. Almost everyone is searching for a sense of peace and satisfaction in their life. And what’s interesting is, I find people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, who seem to spend their entire working days and lives looking for it, but never really seeming to find it.
Rob Shallenberger: I don’t like to use absolute words, like ‘always’, but it seems like, oftentimes, people are always looking at the fence or over the fence and say, “Man, the grass sure seems greener over there!” And they sometimes – I say they, it happens to everyone at some point for most people, and that is – they kind of get in the funk, they get stuck, maybe in a little bit of a rut. And so far, amongst all the people that I’ve associated with around the world, there are very few people exempt from this. And so, on this podcast, I want to share with you two, what I would call, Secrets to Success. They’re not really secrets, we’ve all heard them before. It’s just a matter of actually living them and thinking about them. So, although, ‘secrets’ may not be the right word, it’s probably something that almost everyone, including myself listening to this, could do a better job of focusing on in our lives.
Rob Shallenberger: I’m going to take these from the Bible. It doesn’t really matter to me if we’re Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, who we are, I’m going to share what I would consider to be two very powerful directions to help us find peace, satisfaction, true happiness, that’s sustainable and lasts, rather than being this moving target, this allusive thing that’s out there, that we never seem to find. For those that have read the Bible you’ll be familiar with the Two Great Commandments: “To love God” and “To love thy neighbor.”
Rob Shallenberger: Let’s start with why I believe those are two very powerful recipes for happiness, peace, and success in our lives. And again, it doesn’t really matter what your current beliefs are, I’m just going to ask you to approach this conversation as if we were two friends talking with an open mind and we’re sharing our different backgrounds and experiences and learning from each other. So let’s talk about why I feel like those are two powerful directions, directives, commandments, whatever you want to call them.
Rob Shallenberger: Number 1, Love God. Why? Well, #1 just inherit in there, there’s a deference to a higher power. In other words, just simply by acknowledging that, we realize and acknowledge that the world doesn’t revolve around us. To go back to the fighter pilot world, where I spent 11 years as a fighter pilot, one of my observations of the best pilots is that they were confident but not cocky. And there is a big difference! I like to call it humble confidence. They were confident because of their preparation, yet, they were humble because they knew that that jet, the F16, could reach out and kill them any given day of the week. It’s a powerful machine! So, likewise, if we look at our lives, there’s something that comes with being prepared, with putting in the work and the effort that allows us to be confident, but the second that shifts to cockiness, or that we allow ego to start to dominate our lives, that’s a big difference. So, think about that difference. Ego can be one of the greatest detriments to our success because ego tends to blind us, it tends to put on the blinders.
Rob Shallenberger: For example, when it’s about us, that’s our ego, and in many cases, that ego can cause poor decision-making. For example, I really see this often in the business world, a certain manager or a certain leader lets their ego start governing their decision-making and it’s one of the beginnings of a death spiral in the company. Let’s just take one that we’re all familiar with. I’m not being critical to the person, but I am being critical of the comment. The CEO of Blockbuster in 2009 said this, “Neither Netflix, nor Redbox, are even on our radar, in terms of competition.” Well, the very next year, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy because of those two very companies that weren’t even on their radar a year prior. A lot of that is just ego. There was a blind spot, there, in the leadership of Blockbuster, that they weren’t able to pivot to the threat that was right there at the doorstep, because of that ego. It just blinded them.
Rob Shallenberger: The other part of this deference to a higher power is, it will give us hope. If we lose hope, man, it seems like we lose everything once hope goes out the window. And I believe there is a God. Yes, bad things happen all the time on this Earth, it’s hard to explain why some of them happen. It just seems like there’s always something going on that’s not just, not fair. And if we asked why, and really focused on the “why”, that’s a never-ending rabbit hole. We just don’t see the big picture. What I do know is that bad things will continue to happen to good people. It’s just part of our earthly experience here, but someday we will see the big picture. Right now, it’s like trying to evaluate this and make decisions looking through a soda straw. We just simply don’t see the big picture. We see just this little microcosm of what it’s really all about. And if we truly believe in God or a higher power, and we’re not just going through the motions or saying the words, but it’s real to us, and we actually believe that it should govern our entire decision-making process. We should be more honest with the people we do business with. We should be more honest with our co-workers, our neighbors, our friends. We should strive to help others because that’s what is innately inside of us, if we believe that. And it should also cause us to want to look internally and take care of ourselves, our bodies, our minds and not let that stuff go, you know, ride along with this.
Rob Shallenberger: So we’re going back to that first Commandment, “Love God.” These are some of the reasons why I believe that this will help us find true happiness. Let’s just take prayer. A person who believes that is a lot more likely to pray. Just this morning I looked through the research, there are a few studies from Washington Post, there are so many studies that support the power of prayer in helping a person be happier, healthier and have significantly stronger relationships and a deeper sense of purpose, as they move towards their vision. Prayer is simply powerful in the results we get in our life.
Rob Shallenberger: The other thing that’s going to be a part of our life, if we’re really sincere about this, is gratitude because if we’re deferring to a higher power, then we should be grateful for the experiences that we’re having here, the learning opportunities. You’ve heard us say on these podcasts, “What a blessing!” In other words, we take lemons and we make lemonade. Sometimes bad things happen to us, we don’t know why they happen. My mom is going through early-onset Alzheimer’s right now. It’s a tough thing for the family, but we’re making the best of it. We don’t know all the “whys” associated with this, and if we went down that rabbit hole, it could be really discouraging. Instead, let’s turn this into something we’re grateful for, we’re grateful for all of the wonderful memories, for her smile and her laugh. So, by deferring to that higher power, it should help us be more grateful in our lives. And you see why hope, gratitude, focusing outward, rather than inward, these things are all foundational to happiness and peace and satisfaction. So that’s number one.
Rob Shallenberger: Number 2 is, to love our neighbor. Well, let’s take a little closer look at that. In my opinion – I’m going to use the word “secret” again because it seems to be a fading thing in our society – this is one of the secrets to happiness. When we genuinely serve others, we tend to be happier. And if you look back through your own life, wouldn’t you agree with me that it’s really difficult to stay in a funk and it’s really difficult to stay in a low place, when you’re actually out doing something good for someone else, or doing something kind for someone else. I imagine that you would agree with me if you have ever been in that situation.
Rob Shallenberger: If you take this from a leadership perspective, we’ve had the chance to do keynotes and workshops and seminars for more than 200 organizations around the world, so let’s just take this from a leadership perspective. The best leaders, in my opinion, are the ones who know their team members. They know their stories because they care. The employees and team members are loyal to them, as the leader, because they know their leader cares, hence the name, servant leadership. You’ve heard that term, I’m sure, at some point. This is where it emanated from, it’s how do you serve the people who you actually lead, rather than the dictatorial approach. We lead, inspire and pull, rather than push and tell. It’s a big difference in leadership styles there.
Rob Shallenberger: To be a dictator, for example, that person can get limited, temporary success, as you would call, “success”. Maybe a better word would be “results”, but it won’t sustain long term. I mean, even Hitler, take a look at that – you could say, well, from a German perspective, he had short-term success, but it didn’t work out for him in the long term, and it never will. Even if the success is sustained for, say, 10-20 years, well, here’s a question: if that person is a dictator, how many people will be with them in their old age? How many people will be at their funeral, to pay respects to him or to her? So, it’s much deeper than just what we see on the paper. Isn’t it ironic, that when you talk about servant leadership, the very best leaders, the ones that are able to help and inspire their team members to achieve their best, are the ones who have loyal team members who work hard because they know their leader cares? Now, I’m not going to say that that works in every single situation. Some people, it just won’t work out for, but by and large, to be a servant leader is a thousand times better than to be a dictator leader.
Rob Shallenberger: I love what Maya Angelou said. She said – right along with this thought of loving our neighbor – “People won’t remember what you said or what you did. What they’ll remember is how you made them feel.” And it’s my opinion, the older I get, you know, we just keep learning the older we get, it seems like, and I just realized that so much about this life is how we treat people and the relationships that we’re forming. A lot of that is what we’re going to take with us after this life. The cars, the homes, all of that has its place and it’s certainly important, but it all stays here, it doesn’t go with us. And so, what are our relationships like? What do people feel like when they’re around us? Are we developing bonds? Do we lift and inspire?
Rob Shallenberger: The idea behind this principle, this commandment, is that it takes us outside of ourselves. If you want to do something fun with this, this is kind of a cool little activity we do on our seminars when we’re talking about how to create a world-class customer experience, how do you focus on the customer and help lift and inspire them. Well, take a spoon, a regular metal spoon, hold that up and look at your reflection. Hold it so that it’s facing inward toward you first, and what you’re going to see is everything is upside down. Now, take the same spoon and turn it around, so it’s facing outwards and now, what you’re going to see is everything in its proper perspective. You looking at you the correct way, your reflection. And isn’t that an interesting, what’s this called, a parable of life, where if we’re looking inward, and that’s exclusively where we spend our time and energy is, on self, we tend to see life skewed, we tend to see it upside down and our perception reality is most likely off, versus if we can flip around and think about how to serve others.
Rob Shallenberger: And I’ll just quote Mother Theresa. Look at Mother Theresa, her entire life was devoted to others, and I can’t think of many people happier than she was. She just radiated goodness everywhere she went, it seems like. Now, I’m not saying that we neglect ourselves. If you know anything about Becoming Your Best, you know that taking care of ourselves is absolutely a priority, and pre-week planning, and our roles and goals. One of our most important roles, in fact, THE most important role is personal or self, taking care of ourselves, mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially. So I’m not at all implying that! I’m just suggesting that when we turn our focus outwards, it’s much more difficult to be unhappy with life, there’s just something about that.
Rob Shallenberger: I’ll just share one or two brief examples of this. Last week, a friend of ours brought some cookies to our house. It was late Sunday evening, they visited us, we stayed on the porch and talked for a few minutes, we gave each other a hug goodbye, it was awesome, we felt great. I imagine that they felt great as well! And it was just fun! I mean, it didn’t take a lot of effort to make the cookies and they brought them over and it was just a great experience. So simple, yet our bond, our friendship deepened just as a result of that simple act. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot in the last, maybe four to five months and this is one of the reasons I’m doing this on a podcast, I think it’s important for all of us to be reminded of this.
Rob Shallenberger: I was looking at our children and I thought, “Man, we sure do a lot of talking with our children. Are we showing them with our words or with our actions?” And I thought, “You know, we’re doing a lot of talking, so probably we’re using our words a lot more than our actions.” So we brainstormed, and we came up with this little idea of doing a Service Monday. Now, we can’t do this every Monday, I’m out of town a fair amount, so we may shift the day here and there, but this is what we called it. Not a lot of creativity in the words, but it doesn’t need to be. The point is, Service Monday. So the idea is, what can we do to serve someone else? We brainstormed with our kids, our oldest is 17, our youngest is 9, and we have four kids. So the idea was, what can we do to serve someone else? And they had these ideas, cookies, other things. We delivered cookies a week before, so okay, something else. And we thought, alright, it was my wife and I’s turns, we said, “Why don’t we drive by someone’s home and if we see or observe that it look like they need some help in the yard, then let’s just stop and help for 20-30 minutes and plow some weeds.” And our kids, at first, were just moaning and complaining, it was actually pretty funny to watch.
Rob Shallenberger: We went out in the driveway, we all got in the car and we found a house where there was a fair number of weeds. And the kids were like, “Man, this is going to be so embarrassing, what are we doing?” And we laughed, I walked up to the door, I knocked on the door, and just said, “Hey, we just wanted to do a little bit of service. Would you mind if we jumped in and helped with the weeds over there on that little island?” And the person said, “That’s so kind of you! Of course, sure!” They really didn’t know what to say but they were very appreciative and thankful. So we jumped to it, with our family, went to work, it only took us about 20 minutes. At first, the kids were not thrilled about being there, that was very clear, but by the end, something had changed within them. There was a difference, you could see it. Even after doing that for 20 minutes, and by no means am I trying to gloat to our horn, because man, there are way better servants out there, I call them servant leaders out there, who really dedicate a lot of time to serving others, and we’re just scratching the surface. And so, for our family, just that little act of 20 minutes actually had a big impact on our kids, and that’s the hope, at least within our own family, where we have some control, our words are important but our actions are far more important. You probably heard the adage, “We can’t hear your words because your actions are shouting so loudly” and we wanted our actions to reflect our words and that’s why we did that.
Rob Shallenberger: If you take a look at the business setting, for anyone who’s in a leadership capacity or who wants to be a great team member, take a few minutes to just “walk the floor”. You’ve heard that probably somewhere along the way. Ask team members how are they doing? How is their family? How is their life going? Just show that you care, and it’s amazing what happens! Just asking those simple little questions or giving them a compliment. This is the idea.
Rob Shallenberger: So, this has been a short podcast, only about 16 minutes or so. The hope is this stirs some thinking, some ideas in your mind. Love God! Why? Because deference to a higher power yields so many benefits to us – prayer, hope, gratitude – these are things that will help us find happiness, they’re at the core of it. Love our neighbor because when we turn outside ourselves, it’s amazing what that does to boost us up and change the current reality of our own life and our perception of life, really, in the entire sense of the word.
Rob Shallenberger: We sure appreciate you wherever you’re at in the world. Becoming Your Best is a movement, the vision is to reach a billion people, we’re well on our way to that. Trainer certification is a big part of this, so if you want to get certified as a trainer, or a coach, you can go to our website, click on ‘Certification’ and you’ll see the upcoming conferences, one in Johannesburg, the next one and after that is in Park City in October, then Atlanta, then Los Angeles, and then there will be other dates in 2020. And this is the way that you can get the Powerpoints and everything else so that you can take these powerful principles, these processes, back into your organization with your team, with your family. Or maybe it’s just on your own, what you want to do with other people. The point is that when you’re certified and you have all the tools, the templates, and the process, surely is a lot easier because this is a movement to impact the world and everybody is going to be a part of this. This doesn’t just happen by one or two people.
Rob Shallenberger: So again, we appreciate you, we hope you have a fabulous week, and until we talk next time, we wish you the very best and remember that one person can make a difference!
Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to the Becoming Your Best podcast listeners, wherever you might be today. May this message find you doing well. We decided to entitle it, “The Power of the Extra Mile”, and the vision of this podcast is Good, Better, Best. The BEST is going the Extra Mile! When you, or me, decide to Anticipate and Do – in other words, act – the best, in your behalf for others, like family, organization, and friends, the world changes for good, just as the light of the Sun lights a universe, and things are different. This is the POWER of the EXTRA MILE! You model it and it becomes part of the culture, as others choose to go the Extra Mile. Choose BEST over Good and Better.
Steve Shallenberger: Now, I’d like to really get going today and illustrate this point, relating the story of Susan. Roxanne and I, with three of our children, had been away from our home, for three years, living in Madrid, Spain as a Mission President for our church. We had taken off a 3-year Sabbatical from work to do this service, as we had been asked and invited to do. During that time, we supervised 500 remarkable and extraordinary missionaries. They did service, humanitarian good and lifted and built people wherever they could find the opportunity to do so. We decided to have our college-aged children, their cousins, and friends live in our home in our absence and we hoped our home would still be standing upon our return.
Steve Shallenberger: When we came home, exhausted after three years of intense service, our first order of business was to get our home back in shape. We had been home only a couple of days when there was a knock at our front door. It was a neighbor and friend, Susan. She said, “I am here to help! Where can I start?” She then questioned, “How about if I clean the kitchen, including all of the cupboards?” We said that that would be most appreciated as we were already exhausted and welcomed the help. It was so good of her to be here. Two to three hours later, Susan was finished and left. We were so grateful and have NEVER forgotten her service to our family, especially in a time of need. Thank you, Susan, for going the extra mile! And of course, there had been other examples like that, for which we are deeply grateful.
Steve Shallenberger: So what does it take to go the Extra Mile? I would like to suggest at least two things that help us go the extra mile. One is to Anticipate, and a little definition on ‘anticipate’, that would be to pause, to observe, to think, and to align. In other words, anticipate the situation and Do! In other words, take action. Once we anticipate and see a need, then we take action, just like Susan did. Now, I call that, the acronym for Anticipate and Do, “AD”. I like the acronym of AD. A.D. has another meaning, in addition to attention deficit disorder. That’s not the one that I am referring to, although I may have been accused of having A.D. The AD that I’m thinking of, that’s another example, stands for Anno Domini, which is Latin for “year of our Lord,” and it means the number of years since the birth of Jesus Christ. That was a little more than, of course, as you know, 2000 years ago, so the date 500 A.D. means 500 after 2000 years ago or a little more than 1500 years ago. So it just gives us a time of reckoning. As you can imagine on the BC-AD timeline, the years before Jesus was born are BC – Before Christ and BC goes backward from year 1 and then AD is going forward.
Steve Shallenberger: The AD that I am talking about, this habit of anticipating with those things, pausing, reflecting, slowing it down a little bit, and then, doing. In other words, being aware of a need and then acting upon that need. The AD – Anticipating, Doing I’m talking about, today, can have a significant impact on our lives as we go forward.
Steve Shallenberger: To effectively practice AD, Anticipating and Doing, it requires you to “slow down” a bit and to be sure that you are reflecting on the things that matter most: your life, other’s lives, and your organization or the organizations that you are associated with. In a sense, in the business world, we are talking about engagement. Research indicates that about 34% of employees are engaged in their work. This is always a shocking number! In other words, it just doesn’t happen, by nature, its something that we create the conditions for engagement, to release the best within our employees, to bring out the greatest potential, to provide an environment where they would like to be. In other words, these employees that are engaged, get up and they are excited to go to work and make a difference.
Steve Shallenberger: This is part of our job of leadership, is to know how to move that up, that percentage, up to 50-60-70% of our employees and associates, to deeply impact a culture of engagement. Our observation is, it all starts with people, with the individual. If our mantra was anything today, for this podcast, it would be AD and EM. In other words, anticipate, be aware of the circumstances, and do something about it, just like Susan did, and be an Extra Miler – EM. These produce the Power of the Extra Mile. And this is what I was referring to at the beginning of this podcast. The Power of the Extra Mile is like the power of the Sun! It’s an energy that impacts everything around it. I’d like to provide some examples of the Power of the Extra Mile and examples of people doing, anticipating and doing.
Steve Shallenberger: The first one is Murphy. These could be simple things! Murphy is a part of the Becoming Your Best team. He is the Director of Operations. Every Friday, the garbage comes in our area. So, one of the things that we do is on Thursday, we empty all of our garbage cans in the office. I mean, we’re still at the size that we can do it ourselves, it is a piece of cake! And then, we have the dumpster close by, so no worries. Well, I frequently have done it in the past, but I’ve noticed that Murphy has been on Thursday, just initiating to do it himself. That is the Extra Mile! It’s probably, really, not even in his job description, but he is initiating it. Somebody has to do it. Now, if he wouldn’t, I would, but him going the extra mile, makes my life happier and allows me to focus on other things, that also matter most. This is how we do this as a team.
Steve Shallenberger: In terms of another example with Murphy – he said, “I’ve been looking at the schedule for the next three months to six months, and I want to be sure all of the materials are available for our seminars or events that are coming up, that would go to our client or our certified trainers.” He said, “Would you mind if we go over the schedule and expectations, just to be sure I know the quantities and what needs to be delivered?” That is going the Extra Mile. It’s anticipating the questions that a client might have or an apprehension that I might have, the boss may have or an associate, or a Direct Report, any of those. Now, Murphy does a great job at this, but this could be Rob or Dave, Carli, Tom, Dan, Anne, Steven, Danielle, Jim, Doug, Jeff, Julie, Russ, Sal, Rosemary and so forth. What an appreciation I have when employees, this is the culture, start thinking this way: What does the Extra Mile look like? What does the Best look like? It’s not just the good or the better, we’re delighted to have that, in the spirit of engagement, but it’s when we start thinking of the best, this is the zone, this is the area of going the extra mile!
Steve Shallenberger: Another good example of this is one of the processes that we teach to clients everywhere and within our own organizations, is the 6-Step Process. It’s a problem-solving process, it’s called the transformation challenge, because we take the challenge to transform things, to make them good, better and best. And this is done through the 6-Step Process of planning and execution. Matt is one of the Executives of Synergy and he has really worked to practice this in his own life, and then, to teach the rest of our key associates how to do this. Well, this is a perfect example of going the extra mile, where Matt learns the process and applies it, so this allows him to get the best type of solutions, the way to develop best opportunities. But he didn’t leave it there alone, he deeply taught all of the other managers and key people, within their division, how to apply the 6 steps.
Steve Shallenberger: And what was very interesting is, we talk about the Power of going the Extra Mile. In other words, it’s this radiance that comes out as we do it, as we model it, that impacts everything and everybody else. Well, this then, became a cultural impact, as the employees started applying going the extra mile, doing the best – and how did they do this? Well, on their own initiative! When an issue came up or an opportunity, they called themselves together and applied the 6 steps. One day, Matt was walking by an office, and he noticed a number of the key leaders in the office, working on an issue, and they were applying the 6-Step Process. In other words, what’s the vision? What’s the current reality? What’s the cause of the problem? What are the options to solve the problem? And now to set up a plan to do it, and evaluate how it went. That’s essentially it. Here they were, they solved the problem. And they said, “Let’s go to work and solve it!” And rather than bringing problems to their supervisor, their Direct Reports, they brought potential solutions. See what a game-changer that this is?
Steve Shallenberger: Let me use one other example with Synergy, with the Leaders and Managers, our Division Managers. Dave Clark and I are partners, he is an amazing partner! We’ve now been partners for over 35 years. Those who know us, know what respect and admiration I have for Dave. A number of years ago, maybe seven to 10 years ago, one of the things, as Dave and I would visit different offices, we would say, “How do we help these wonderful, capable, Division Managers, think like we think? How do we help them, when they wake up in the morning, to think about the issues that are on our minds?” And so, this became the topic of discussion: what are the type of things we think about in that Division every day? What are the questions we have? How many associates do we have in play, that are in Estimators or Sales, and how many Technicians do we have, and how many jobs have they done? How many jobs fell through? How do we improve that? So, all of these types of questions for a successful operation, rather than us asking the Manager, is training the Manager, to think that way in the first place. And this is not an easy thing. You don’t just flip the switch. But as we worked on it, these extraordinary managers were so amazing, they started doing exactly that. That is the Extra Mile! That is the flip of the switch, where they are taking charge.
Steve Shallenberger: We’ve noticed that this has happened: they now say, “What are the type of questions Dave may have? He may be asking me, ‘do them in advance.’ ” And we have seen a progression of that becoming a reality. That is the Extra Mile MINDSET. And it’s always a work in process, of course, as an organization goes from good, better, best, and isn’t complacent, we’re realizing that, in order to stay very competitive. This has to become cultural, and we have to keep asking the same type of questions. And so, it’s working with the people first, this then impacts the culture, the office, the Sales, the Technicians, Estimators, Crew Chiefs, Warehouse Manager, whatever your organization looks like, but you can see how it shifts an entire organization. And then, this organization becomes a top tier division or company as this is done. This is the Power of the Extra Mile. It’s a way to think about things. And who does not want their employees to think like this? In other words, how can I BEST serve the customer? They’re not waiting for somebody else to tell you that. They’re thinking of these ideas on their own. How can I BEST lighten the load of my manager today? Or somebody that works for me? Interested in helping another individual release their brakes. Well, this is perfect for parents or friends, this is what great leaders do! All of us! And so, if we see a challenge or somebody gets off track, or we’re trying to help a child or an associate, a fellow worker, or an employee release their brakes, become the best that they can, what does the Extra Mile look like? How do we Anticipate, Stop and Reflect, think about and then Do, come up with the actions that lift and build and inspire?
Steve Shallenberger: How about if someone gets off track? How do you go the Extra Mile with them? One of the ways to do it, is with the Relationship Agreement, especially if you’re in a professional relationship with them, it could be a civic organization, but definitely, in a business organization or a professional group. And so, we ask with the Relationship Agreement, what is the Vision? And what are we trying to accomplish together? And sometimes, when somebody gets off track, it’s a big issue or it’s a problem, and the best way to start off with this is, what are we trying to accomplish? Where do we go in the future? And yes, it’s important what has happened yesterday, but far more important is what happens tomorrow.
Steve Shallenberger: In one of the organizations that I am associated with, one employee recently “totally went off” on another key employee, saying things such as, “I don’t want anything to do with you!” These people actually work in the same office. Their responsibilities require them to be on the same team. So, what to do? Well, putting in place a Relationship Agreement and focusing on where we go from here in terms of engagement, really helps with that kind of an issue. And so, essentially is this – what’s the vision of what we want to accomplish together, versus a job description. Those are far different, which is, the second one is limiting. Number two is, the reward system – how is this person rewarded? Whatever that looks like, their salary, their wage, any benefits that might be there. And number three, what are the Guidelines and No-Nos. And then, the last one is the accountability. So those are the four steps of the Relationship Agreement. Quite simple but deeply profound.
Steve Shallenberger: So, in this case, what you can put with this person is, “Here’s what we’re trying to accomplish together, and make it inspiring, that’s the vision, and when you get to the guidelines and no-no’s, say, “Here is what this job is all about.” And one of the things that we do is we treat each person with respect, consideration, and understanding. And one of the no-no’s is that we don’t talk negatively about anyone in their absence. As a matter of fact, we have an issue, we take it to the person, and deal with it in a professional way. That is the guideline, and the no-no is that we don’t do the opposite of that. And that could be grounds for no longer working together. So we want to be clear on these things. That’s the Extra Mile! We think about how to positively lift everybody that we associate with.
Steve Shallenberger: As a parent, there is definitely a pretty high degree of AD and EM. In other words, anticipation of possibilities, and doing, right? And also, going the Extra Mile it’s called long-suffering, patience, kindness, innovation, and love. That sounds like an Extra Mile to me.
Steve Shallenberger: Another good example of this, the Power of the Extra Mile, is Aunt Beverly. She is my aunt on my mother’s side. She occasionally writes or calls me. And this isn’t infrequent, by the way! And she would just say, “I have been thinking about you. How are you doing?” I just have the feeling that my aunt Beverly has my back. That if I ever need to call anyone, I can call Aunt Bev. The same with her husband, Uncle Ralph, or others, but isn’t this great? Isn’t that the Power of the Extra Mile? She doesn’t have to call, she doesn’t have to write, she has her own family, many things to do. This is a wonderful example of this.
Steve Shallenberger: Another thing is to be sure to follow your impressions. In other words, Anticipate – think, reflect, and observe, just pause for a moment – and Do. Act upon that impression that you have. I received an email from a forum mate and friend, just the other day, of encouragement. It took him “seconds”, but it was an extra mile and has been such a huge boost to me during what has been a trying time on an issue that we’re dealt. We’re all dealt different cards in life, and so we have to deal with these cards and how grateful I was for that simple effort of someone feeling an impression, writing, doing something about it, to anticipate what the situation is and doing something! Thank you to that, friend!
Steve Shallenberger: So what is your Extra Mile for your own life? For others? Your organization? What does it look like? Some are one-time acts, and another is just a way of thinking or how we do things on a long-term basis of producing outstanding results. How can you consistently exercise the power of going the Extra Mile? And I know the Power is the result. And so, how do we consistently go the Extra Mile? How can you anticipate and do – the AD? Well, decide in your mind that you will choose the BEST, over good and better. Eliminate the bad, for sure! Blowing up, or shouting, or going off on someone or something, or being impatient, or losing your cool, or criticizing or blaming another. You can do good and better — the EXTRA MILE — that is the BEST!
Steve Shallenberger: As I reflected upon those questions that I just asked: How can I consistently go the Extra Mile? The EM, AD – Anticipate and Do. One thing that you can do is practice living the Becoming Your Best and the 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders. I don’t mean to be trite or simple in any way. But these are based on 40 years of research, of powerful principles that are game-changers, that have a predictable response for good, for excellence, and not in a simplistic way, but this is something that you can do. And it is a foot in the sand of how you can get going! So, one principle per week! That’s all it takes! It doesn’t have to be complicated. So you can be relentless and one day you wake up and you are better, you are doing it. You have formed a new habit towards going the Extra Mile. And the RESULT is the Power of the Extra Mile, just like the SUN.
Steve Shallenberger: For example, “Lead with a Vision” is one of the 12 principles. “Manage with a plan” – this is setting goals. And doing “Pre-week planning”. Those three things, I call these, “the stack of three things” creates a perpetual fusion of the Power of the Sun. This creates the molten lava! With the stack in place, year in and year out, week in and week out, it provides this “pause” to the Anticipate and the Do. It creates the framework for you to do this and it’s pretty straightforward. It’s developing your vision, you do it one time in life. You might make edits or adjustments, but you have it on a sheet of paper! It’s doing annual goals, you do it once a year, doesn’t take that long, but by each role, here are the most important things for me to do, that help me realize my vision. And then, three is Pre-week planning. Just pausing a few minutes during the week, thinking of your roles, and saying, what actions, there we are, this is the process of anticipation and actions that I can take, that helps me go the extra mile, to do my best!
Steve Shallenberger: As you reflect on the other of the 12 principles, “Live the Golden Rule”, or “Building Trust – using the Trust Meter” or “Listening to Understand”, which informs your anticipation, or “Innovating with Imagination”, which informs your to do, creative things that you can do”, to “Learn to Live in Peace and Balance”, and certainly, to “Never Give Up” because it takes time. As you can see, these are transformational principles. Simple, right? Well, no, we consistently go after it. Many of you have already been working on these principles and feeling the power of them in your life. They are as true to you as day follows night!
Steve Shallenberger: As a result of this podcast, I decided to make a “cheat sheet” for myself, to remember the 12 principles, so I made up a new bookmark. I’m going to put this, I’m going to print off a number of copies and laminate them, and just put them in different places. So if you would like a copy of my new cheat-sheet, the new bookmark that I have made, just write to email@example.com, and we will send you a copy of the bookmark. You can have it laminated if you would like, put it in several places, but it will reinforce this type of things, that help us to remember to EM – go the Extra Mile, and AD – Anticipate and Do around what matters most and the resolve that we have to do that.
Steve Shallenberger: You and I, all of us, we can work on The Power of the Extra Mile, together. You and I, all of us, can work on the AD- the Anticipate and Do, together. Just like Becoming Your Best is not a comparison to someone else or someone else’s best, this is about you Becoming Your Best! This is the way the Extra Mile is. It’s not somebody else’s Extra Mile, it is your Extra Mile. That is when the Power of the Extra Mile -The SUN – this radiance, kicks in. People may not even be aware of your actions, they may be quiet and anonymous actions, but you know, and the radiance goes forth. We are not talking about perfection here, we are talking about doing our best and then being at peace for that effort! The result is that you, and I, will be happier, more fulfilled, healthier, and part of the Power of the Extra Mile, is greater prosperity.
Steve Shallenberger: I started this podcast today with Susan’s simple act of knocking on our door. “I am here to help. How can I help?” Don’t you love that question? But a different question is, “Is there anything I can do to help you?” Sometimes we say that and wait for the answer. Susan took it a step further and that is the Power of the Extra Mile action, and that is the example that has been to us, now, as we have fondly remembered that experience, for almost 20 years. Pretty straightforward! Quite simple. AD and EM. Anticipate, just pausing, just for a moment, reflecting the stack of three, and the Extra Mile, the EM.
Steve Shallenberger: We wish each one of you all the BEST, as you experience the Power of the Extra Mile first-hand, in your life and those that are blessed by the radiance of your life and leadership. Wishing you a great day, this is Steve Shallenberger, with Becoming Your Best!
Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to our Becoming Your Best Podcast listeners, wherever you may be in the world today! We are delighted to have a special guest with us today, Moe Carrick, and this is going to be a fun visit! She is a delight, so welcome, Moe!
Moe Carrick: Thanks, Steve! I’m happy to be on.
Steve Shallenberger: Good deal! She helps brave people do the hard things that make organizations great, and benefit people, results, the partners, the environment and the community. We’re going to hear all about that today in our interview. She’s a best-selling author, founder of Moementum, and not Moetmentum.
Moe Carrick: Although that would be fancier, maybe.
Steve Shallenberger: Yeah, we were just talking and Moe had been in Paris and they called her, Moet. She seeks to just really help people build their companies, to help them thrive, and she especially has an approach that’s unifying and successful on really powerful, dependent, strong human relations. So, tell us, Moe, about your background, including turning points that you may have had, that led you down to the path where you are today and maybe critical learnings that you’ve had, that have really made a difference for you. We’re so excited to talk about what you’ve just written about in your book and everything that’s going on.
Moe Carrick: Well, thanks! Thanks so much, Steve, and what a great way to frame that question around turning points. At this stage in my career, I am definitely looking somewhat in the rearview mirror, although I hope to still have many great and fun things ahead, but when I look behind, it’s really interesting to see how my trajectory has unfolded. I talk sometimes with my children, who are in their 20s, about that because they’re curious and they’re looking ahead at their careers and saying, “How did you end up doing what you’re doing and where did that land?”
Moe Carrick: My background is, I’ve been a consultant for a long time, I’ve been an author only for three years, this is my second book, “Bravespace Workplace”. I was an English Major in college, I went to school in the University of New Hampshire. I actually thought I would be a novelist, I was planning to write the great American novel, which hasn’t happened yet, I’m in the business book genre, so I’m taking a leap to the left. Early on in my career, I ended up being a wilderness guide and I worked back in the ’80s and the early ’90s in a field that has really become much more mainstream now, which is adventure-based learning and adventure-based therapy for youth, in particular kids with chemical dependency issues.
Moe Carrick: So for me, making a decision to go into that work was definitely a turning point, being a guide full-time, living and working in the wilderness and working with groups, especially youth, was powerful work, I loved it, I felt inspired to be a helper and also loved the adventure side of that equation. And I think another turning point for me came after I had done that work for a few years, and traveled around the country and had the privilege of being in some of the world’s most beautiful places, I decided I did want to pursue an advanced degree and I was interested in getting a MSW, that’s what a lot of people in my field did.
Steve Shallenberger: MSW?
Moe Carrick: Masters in Social Work.
Steve Shallenberger: There you go! We just wanted to be sure you don’t leave Steve in the dust.
Moe Carrick: No, good qualifying question. I’ve got to watch my own field of speech. Yeah, Master of Social Work, which was kind of a more clinical degree and at the same time I was faced with this nagging thought of, “This isn’t for me.” So another crossroads for me, I don’t know how this was for you, Steve, but I had a friend, my closest friend actually, who was enrolled in a program, it was a different graduate program and it was in Organizational Development or OD. I had never heard of that field of study, I was like, “What is that?” And she said, “Well, it’s like therapy for people at work.” And I remember thinking, “That sounds interesting!” So I went with her to school for one day and went to some of the classes and it was one of those real lighthouse moments for me around saying, “Oh, this is the work that I’m meant to be doing.”
Moe Carrick: So that’s when I decided to shift gears, left the clinical realm, moved into the organizational realm and I still use adventure often as a catalyst for learning and I still do sometimes within my work, but that embarked me on a career, really, as an internal consultant, as a student to people and systems and then [00:05:12.28] eighteen years with my own firm. So, that’s a little bit about my background and there are lots of other turning points that I don’t want to bore you with, but there are two that, I think, jump out for me.
One is, I’m a cancer survivor. The cancer I had, I’ve had it twice, I am a melanoma survivor. My first melanoma, I was thinking about this the other day, I was only 21. That was a young age to be diagnosed with a disease that’s really quite bad when it spreads and it put me in touch with my own mortality at that time and gave me a mindset about ‘Carpe Diem’ a little bit. I’ve been very lucky my melanomas were caught very early and I never had to have chemo for them or whatever, but they were clearly turning points. And then, of course, the birth of my children, becoming a mom and all of the ensuing years which has been 26 years now, of motherhood, has changed how I see the world and I probably learned the most, perhaps, in that role.
Steve Shallenberger: Good! Thank you for great answers in terms of helping me and our listeners get a real insight into some of the things that led you to where you are today. Great going!
Moe Carrick: Thank you!
Steve Shallenberger: You bet! Now, let’s just talk about your book. Why did you decide to write Bravespace Workplace? Tell us about the book and what led up to it and what’s the vision and purpose of the book?
Moe Carrick: Thank you, great question! It’s funny in publishing, you know, you’ve written your own book, which I’m about halfway through and loving, I think that, when you write a book, it’s such hard work, that you do it because you want to do it. Like, you’re compelled to do it. I don’t think anybody would write a book if they didn’t have some sort of reason why they felt it was important to get this stuff down. And so, for me, the call to writing Bravespace Workplace really formed when I wrote my first book, which was called “Fit Matters: How to Love Your Job” and I wrote that book and it was published in 2017 with a co-author, my friend, and colleague, Cammie Dunaway.
Moe Carrick: Cammie and I really were about trying to tell a story of how people entering the workforce or people that were miserable in their jobs, could find the right place for them. And it was really driven by our belief that there is right work for everybody and that it takes a different algorithm than what we often see in the media or in the ‘great places to work’ surveys to figure out what’s a great place to work for me, as opposed to just generically, what company gets higher ratings on a magazine surveys. And so, when Cammie and I were researching that book, it started to really form a seed in my mind about my consulting practice, all of these many years I’ve been supporting leaders in organizations in their transformation and my desire to say, “Gosh, you know, it’s not rocket science how we create an organization that really facilitates the human beings in it, bringing their highest and best work to work every day, and so I’m going to write down what I know about how to do that.”
Moe Carrick: So, in many ways, Bravespace Workplace is more a book of my heart, around saying, “Hey, leaders out there, who are trying to figure this out, it’s not rocket science, or isn’t easy, but here’s the things people need from work and here are the levers that we can pull to activate that.” And some of that it’s born out of my own fatigue that we haven’t quite got this right, yet. There’s a lot of miserable people at work, don’t you think?
Steve Shallenberger: Oh, yeah. The studies I’ve seen are that engaged workers in the world and the United States range between 20%, in a Wall Street Journal article I saw just last week, to 38%. That’s a pretty sad number, really, and so, what do we need to do to unleash the genie?
Moe Carrick: Right, yeah.
Steve Shallenberger: Unleash the potential.
Moe Carrick: You’re right, and the numbers don’t get better. I mean, I think this is part of why I say this book is the work of my heart because I got my graduate degree in 1989 and I say this in the book, but we knew then what we know now about what it is that makes human beings be able to bring forward their most innovative ideas, their most powerful collaborations, and yet we still really struggle, whether you’re a small, medium or a large, or even a mega company to figure out like, “Okay, so what is it? How do we do that equation?”
Moe Carrick: So I’m trying in this book to, in a short and concise way, I wrote the book hoping that people could read it on a long plane flight, to be able to get your head around, “Alright, I’ve got to pay attention in this system to these five things and that will help activate the best that my people can bring everyday.”
Steve Shallenberger: Good! Okay, let’s dissect this just a little bit. How about the subtitle, “Making your workplace fit for human life.” Who’s that directed to?
Moe Carrick: Right? Well, I am definitely speaking to the leaders in the organization, or the owners in small businesses, or the people professionals, the human resource professionals. I think the pressure is on for leaders and people leaders to be the ones who decide what it is in their organization that’s going to be designed well for people. I kind of played with that tagline, I got it from Animal Activism, actually, when you see things like some of the media news about the terrible treatment for livestock, chickens being two million chickens in one building and saying that these are not conditions that are fit for animal life. They can’t be sustained, you can’t get organic, delicious, fresh eggs, from chickens that are under stress because they’re too fat and they don’t have access to water.
Moe Carrick: I was looking at that and saying, “Well, hang on a second!” To a certain degree, when we take human beings, with all their beauty and all their messiness, and we put them in the workplace, we have to pay attention to their needs, just like we would with livestock in that other equation. And design and figure out how do we make this work for people. And most of our models, Steve, I’m sure you’ve seen this too, in your work, our models for how to run organizations, are largely based on a foundational mindset that comes from the Industrial Revolution, which is kind of an overseer model, like management’s job is to keep the people in line and keep them organized and have them produce the maximum output.
Moe Carrick: To a certain degree, that model has a lot of subtle innuendoes, that ends up treating people as if they’re predictable, as if they are machines or robotic in their approach and we’re not, we are infinitely more complex than any machine out there, and we require special care and feeding almost to a person by person basis, in order to activate our greatness. So, that’s where the tagline comes from.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay, yeah, clearly our world is changing, I mean, this older management leadership, hierarchal styles, and designs just aren’t as near as effective in today’s world in bringing out the best in people. So, let’s just talk about that, what is at stake for leaders, in terms of the people part of their business? What are we talking about here? Because I love your insight, it’s a fresh insight, we don’t hear a lot of people talking about two million chickens in a place where there should be one million and causing us to think about the workplace, but we should. We should think about these little tweaks that can make a lot of difference in unleashing the greatest potential, the best that people have to give. So, what’s at stake here? What do you see, from your point of view?
Moe Carrick: From my point of view I think it’s hard to not act cavalier in this way, but part of me really feels like everything is at stake. Scott Allan who’s General Manager at Hydro Flask, Hydro Flask makes the beautiful aluminum bottles, they were the first to have triple insulation, their little brand is now owned by Helen of Troy, and they’ve just grown tremendously and Scott was an endorser for my book and he said, “This book offers inspiration and practical tools for any employer who wants to win both by doing what is best for their people and, subsequently, winning the war for talent.”
Moe Carrick: And I think that’s what is at stake for leaders, which is to say, you know, in order to get the results you want in your business, whether you’re looking for profit or you’re looking to meet your mission, you’ve got to have people bringing not just 80% of their greatness, every day, but as close to 100% as you can, so that they’re occupying the full capacity that they have. That’s how you’re going to win with your results, it’s how you’re going to win with the competition for talent. And the incoming generations, the millennials, the generation Y that are right behind them, they’re looking at the world of work very differently than baby boomers, my generation, and even generation Xers have, in terms of the kind of contract they want with employers. And they’re going to sign on to meet their needs kind of first and foremost. So, I think for the leader in business, they have a lot to lose if they can’t both attract and also, perhaps even more importantly, retain the diverse skill set and talent in the human beings that they hire, that will activate the results of their seeking.
Steve Shallenberger: Moe, what do you talk about in Bravespace Workplace that helps that happen?
Moe Carrick: Well, there’s two big buckets of the work that I’m addressing. One is, I spend some time early on in the book, calling out what I see as the seven things that people need from work. And then, in response to those seven things, I call out five, what I call ‘levers’ for change, which are the things that I think leaders can do to manifest our “bravespace workplace”. And the seven things are really interesting, Steve, and some of these I know you will resonate with from your principles in your work, that drive some of your work because I think a lot of them are connected. And you know, again, none of this is necessarily new, I’m not the first person saying these things. We are hearing this from a variety of different voices out there. But when I look at the seven things that people need from work, I’m looking at basically the things that drive nature. Do you remember Maslow’s hierarchy?
Steve Shallenberger: Of course, sure!
Moe Carrick: Yeah, so most of us do, we remember Maslow’s hierarchy and Maslow had an awful lot right on his hierarchy of human needs but there are some things that he had wrong, and not because he was not a solid professional psychologist but I think that he didn’t know, then, some of what we know now. One of the examples of the seven things people need from work is the need for human connection. Brené Brown, who’s a mentor of mine, I’m certified in her approach and I’m a member of her global team of facilitators. She talks about it this way, she says, “Human beings are social beings. We need other human beings to connect with, just as much as we need food, shelter, water, safety, and security.”
Moe Carrick: And that’s what Maslow had on the bottom level of what we need. And we see that playing out in terms of the risks of isolation and loneliness on human beings, and many of us if we’re working full time especially, we’re bringing that need for connection right into the workplace. And I won’t bore you now with all seven of them, but there are dimensions that are related to our humanity more than they are just our contractual obligation with the employer, which are, you know, the essentials, in that, we need the paycheck, we need to feel that we’re being paid fairly, we need some benefits, we need to understand where we should work, is it virtual or do we have an office? But those things are not the big levers that activate people’s greatness. They’re kind of like what gets you in the door.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay, well, Moe, tell us just one or two things from the book that you consider to be the most significant things that can be helpful?
Moe Carrick: Great question! I would say that in addition to what we just were talking about, which is being able to understand, as a leader or a people support person in this system, to be able to say, “What is it that people really need to thrive?” I think that’s one thing, those seven things people need from work. I think the other thing is when we look at the levers for success, there’s five of them, but the first one I think it’s probably the most important and I’m hoping most readers will walk away with some insight around, which I call, the human essentials. And the human essentials has really two parts to it. One, is leaders with a head and a heart habit, so leaders who can think clearly, use their logic and their cognition really powerfully, but also have fortified emotional capacity. They can help people feel seen, they can connect and inspire followership and I think those [00:18:01.09] often in the world of worker, underdeveloped in leaders. And then the second part of the human essentials is teams who care. One of the really important studies that Google produced in 2015 was the Aristotle Project. Have you heard of that?
Steve Shallenberger: Nope.
Moe Carrick: Aristotle Project was Google’s attempt to better understand what makes a team healthy and what makes them high performing. And the study revealed, there was a great New York Times article about it in 2015, it revealed that the single most important dynamic for teams that were performing within Google, was their social capital. So the psychological safety that they have combined with their capacity to tune into and feel one another emotionally, which we also call emotional intelligence, and that’s, I think, very informative around where a leader ought to start. And I’m hoping that if people get nothing else from my book, they get the capacity to say, “Alright, I’ve got a firmer ground, I’ve got more clarity on what do people need to really thrive and then what do I need to do with my leaders and my teams to activate that?”
Steve Shallenberger: Okay, good. That’s good! I was just reading an edition of the Harvard Business Review, this was either May or June’s edition, and they dedicated it to engagement. Interestingly enough, they said they could demonstrate from very significant research, that employees involved with teams almost doubled their engagement levels. It was the one thing that moved the needle so there’s a lot to what you’re saying that create the dynamics that can work. Well, Moe, what are you being brave about right now? How about in your business, in your personal life?
Moe Carrick: Yeah, right? I know, I’ve got to be able to talk my talk. I think there are a few areas, one is definitely, I was just talking to one of my employees about this, recently, it definitely feels brave to be publishing a book and then talking about the ideas in the book because we never know, our readers are going to love it, are they going to hate it, are people even going to read it and there’s this vulnerability that comes with putting your point of view out there, in writing. So I feel like I’m constantly fortifying my approach and reminding myself, “It’s okay if not everybody loves it.” Because I stand by the work that’s born out of my many years of experience and the good news is most people are really resonating with it. But I do find myself still feeling kind of exposed sometimes around that journey, you know, how do I spread my own point of view?
Moe Carrick: I think the other piece for me is I’m about to be an empty nester. My daughter is a teen, she’s heading out to college next year and I’m aware that I’ve got a new stage of life ahead which is where I’m not primarily needed as the mom. And that’s exciting but it’s also curious for me, around, what does that mean as my identity shifts? I’ve always worked, so I’m not too worried, I can fill time with work but I am going to miss that piece of having kids in the home all the time. So, that’s taking some courage for me too.
Steve Shallenberger: Good for you, and congratulations! I love the idea of being brave about things. There are things we need to be brave about and to go forward with gusto, humility, and confidence at the same time, that’s being brave! You go for it!
Moe Carrick: Yeah, it is, and I think, you know, I talk about this in the book and it’s definitely one of the pieces of Brené Brown’s work that resonates so strongly with me, it’s whenever we’re being brave, we’re also often really terrified. Like, when I’m being brave, my palms are sweating. It’s not like I’m just brave about that. I wrote an article recently for somebody, that was a piece about the book and I submitted it to the editor and I’ve noticed myself being, you know, at the same time confident, like, “Oh, yeah! This is going to definitely resonate in their publication” but also anxious around, “Oh, no, will they like it? Will I have to rewrite it? What if they think it’s stupid?” So I think anytime we’re called to being brave, we’re also called to feeling exposed and it is important to stretch ourselves, I think, in those ways, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Steve Shallenberger: That’s for sure! Moe, any final tips that you’d like to leave with the listeners today?
Moe Carrick: Gosh! I would say, what I would love to leave with your listeners is to give themselves permission to be really curious about the things that they pursue. That seems hard, particularly, of course, in the realm I deal with, this whole notion of the workplace. But if someone’s unhappy in their job or they’re a leader and they feel they’re not thriving, to really turn towards that, instead of away from it and say, “Gosh, this is a problem that I have, I am not alone, there are solutions, I just don’t know what they are, yet. And I’m going to talk in, to being really curious about how others have handled this, and what else I can learn, to push through.” So, I think that’s what I would leave. Stay with it, even when it’s hard.
Steve Shallenberger: Good! That’s inspirational, thank you! And how can people find out about what you’re doing, Moe?
Moe Carrick: I’d love to have them follow me, I’m on Facebook and LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, etc., as Moe Carrick. My website is moecarrick.com. The book has its own website, bravespaceworkplace.com and its sister book, Fit Matters, is on fitmatters.biz. LinkedIn is another good way, I’d love to have people friend me there and connect, we can stay in touch that way.
Steve Shallenberger: Thank you, Moe Carrick, for being part of this show today and what a great and productive visit this has been. So many good ideas and I love your perspective and refreshing approach, your background that you bring with it, and this is a great subject.
Moe Carrick: Awesome! It’s been a privilege to talk to you, Steve, and I really appreciate your leadership and the work you’re doing, just really consistently and regularly out in the world, so thanks for taking the time to talk to me!
Steve Shallenberger: It’s been a delight! We wish all of our listeners the best. We appreciate the fact I”m continually reminded of how extraordinary you are, the listeners and the impact that you have in your own life and we have so much in common for just trying to become our best, to do the best and it makes a difference. And in the process, you are inspiring. Way to go! Isn’t that the truth, Moe?
Moe Carrick: It is, it’s so true, that’s what gets me going every day!
Steve Shallenberger: It’s been a lot of fun visiting today. We wish our listeners a great day. This is Steve Shallenberger, with Becoming Your Best, signing off. Have a good day!
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