The Change Your Mindset Podcast

Welcome to the Change Your Mindset podcast, hosted by Peter Margaritis, CPA, AKA The Accidental Accountant. Peter is a speaker, expert in applied improvisation and author of the book 'Improv Is No Joke, Using Improvization to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life'. Peter's new book, Taking the Numb Our of Numbers: Explaining & Presenting Financial Information with Confidence and Clarity will be published in June 2018.

S3E1. Ego is Getting in the Way of Empathy with Brian Comerford & Nick Lozano

Brian Comerford and Nick Lozano are co-hosts of the Lead.exe podcast, which covers topics ranging from leadership, emotional intelligence, design thinking, and many more. Brian is a digital leader and serial entrepreneur, notable as co-founder of Radiovalve.com, an I-radio station among the first generation of web casters. Nick is a technologist and entrepreneur. He has experience in working in technology and leading teams at Accenture, CornerStack, and a major trade association.

Brian and Nick met each other through a CIO Mastermind working group, where Nick worked and Brian was a member of. They kept having these interesting conversations before and after conferences. Eventually it got to a point where they realized, “Hey, we should record these.” Brian had a broadcasting background and Nick had an audio background, so it was a match made in heaven.

One of the topics Nick and Brian would discuss are so-called soft skills. Despite the term, they consider them to be essential leadership skills. Out of those, one of the biggest challenges they have noticed is with emotional intelligence. Technology leaders are always very keen on their technical skills, they keep up with all of their competitors, but they spend very little time looking at research about emotional intelligence, self-awareness, meditation, breath work, or anything that might help with culture and personal health. With their podcast, they can bring these ideas and techniques to a tech-obsessed audience.

What is it that keeps us from tapping into our own emotional intelligence? Often, it’s our ego that gets in the way.

In order to combat both their own ego and set an example for others, Brian and Nick like to point out the mistakes that they make. Letting his peers know that you don’t have to be perfect. If you go in with the perfectionist mentality, it’s impossible to be vulnerable, and you’ll hold back your ideas. Everybody messes up. Emotional intelligence can become so powerful if we can just get rid of the ego, but that’s difficult in corporate America.

Their parting advice is to remain vulnerable. Run towards failure and do things that scare you often. Doing that is the best way to keep your ego in check. And that is so vitally important, because love and empathy are critical to a positive work culture. You need to believe in that and see the value in it to achieve it.

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Transcript:

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Nick Lozano: [00:00:00] As soon as you understand as a leader that you work for the people that you’re managing, not the other way around, emotional intelligence comes out so much easier than trying to force it on.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:20] Welcome to Change Your Mindset podcast, formerly known as Improv Is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation. Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:06] How do you attract and retain qualified employees? Are you aware of the importance of emotional intelligence and the effect that it has on your leadership style? What is your core business? And it’s not what you think? Can you explain block chain and artificial intelligence in a simple and understandable way? Well, those questions and more will be answered by my guests, Brian Comerford and Nick Lozano, who are co-host of Lead.exe podcast among other endeavors.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:40] Lead.exe podcast covers topics from leadership to emotional intelligence to design thinking and many others. I had the honor and pleasure of being on their podcast on January 1, 2020 and these guys are really good and they are a ton of fun. Now, let me tell you a little bit more about Brian and Nick. Brian is a digital leader and serial entrepreneur, notably as co-founder of Radiovalve.com, an I-radio station among the first generation of web casters.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:16] He served as adjunct professor at the University of Denver, his alma matter in the digital media studies department. He currently serves as co-chair of the CIO Working Group for the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers and as a board member of The Adoption Exchange, as well as the design partner for Foxit Software and Assurex Global, therefor. Now, Nick is a technologist and entrepreneur. Nick has experience in working in technology and leading teams at Accenture, a boutique technology consulting firm, CornerStack, and a major trade association.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:54] Prior to working in technology, Nick led and managed teams in the hospitality industry. Now, these guys understand the challenges that left-brain linear thinkers deal with in the workplace, which are the same challenges that accounting and financial professionals are faced with as well. This episode has a wide variety of topics that everyone can learn from. Now, let me take care of some housekeeping issues and then, we’ll get to the interview.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:22] Change Your Mindset is part of the C-Suite Radio family of podcasts. It’s an honor and a privilege to be amongst some of the more prevalent business podcasts, such as The Hero Factor with Jeffrey Hayzlett, Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken, and Keep Leading with my friend, Eddie Turner. You can find Change Your Mindset and many other outstanding business podcasts on C-Suite Radio by going to www.c-suiteradio.com.

Announcer: [00:03:51] This podcast is part of the C-Suite Radio Network, turning the volume up on business.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:57] In January of 2020, I received an e-mail from Feedspot informing me that Change Your Mindset podcast was selected as one of the top 15 communications skills podcast you must follow in 2020. Wow. I admit I was completely caught off guard and extremely honored. Now, I would like to thank every guest that has been on my podcast for the last three-and-a-half years, because you are the ones who make this podcast successful. Thank you. And now, a word from our sponsor.

Sponsor: [00:04:32] This episode is sponsored by Peter A. Margaritis, LLC, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. Are you looking for a high content and engaging speaker for your next conference? Do you want to deliver a story to stakeholders that will transform data dumping to engaging business conversations? Do you want to feel that the value a speaker provides your audience far exceeds the dollar value on their invoice? Then, book Peter for your next conference, management retreat, or workshop. Contact Peter at peter@petermargaritis.com and visit his web site at www.petermargaritis.com. By the way, one of his Fortune 50 clients actually made the comment about the value he brings to your audience.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:21] I have put in the show notes the links to Brian and Nick’s LinkedIn pages, along with links to their podcast on a variety of podcast platforms. Now, let’s get to the interview with Brian and Nick. Hey, welcome back, everybody. Welcome to Season 3. And man, do I have a guest, or let me rephrase that, I have guests for you that are very interesting and very funny. Just from the start of this, I should have started recording this, because this would have made a great blooper reel to show later on. I’d like to, one, first thank my guests, Nick Lozano and Brian Comerford, for taking time out of their busy schedule to spend some time with me. And welcome, gentlemen, to Change Your Mindset podcast.

Nick Lozano: [00:06:16] Thanks for having us on, Peter.

Brian Comerford: [00:06:16] Thank you, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:18] I have to admit to the audience, I’m surprised they accepted my invitation, because I was on their podcast and after we were done, I didn’t think they would ever come on my podcast. They were just like, "Oh, who is this crazy guy?"

Brian Comerford: [00:06:34] Anyone who calls himself The Accidental Accountant and has a podcast called Change of Mindset, you’re right up my alley.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:42] I appreciate that. And with your guys’ background, I love your interview style, you guys did a great job. And once again, I’ll thank Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott for the introduction. Plug, plug. And how did you guys come about? Were you guys sitting around one day—because, Brian, you’re in Colorado and Nick’s in D.C., did you guys come around one day and to find each other and go, "Hey, I got a great idea. Let’s start a podcast."

Nick Lozano: [00:07:11] Well, on the seventh day—no. So, Brian and I met each other through my day job, which I run a CIO Mastermind working group, which Brian is actually a member of. And the podcast kind of started just basically with Brian and I having conversations either before the conference or after the conference. So, just kind of turned into a point, where I was like, "Man, we should probably just record this." Brian has a broadcasting background and I have a broadcast—not broadcasting, jeez, you know, myself, credential I don’t have. I have an audio background. I’ve produced couple of podcasts for my day job and things in the past and done some audio work when I was in high school. So, it’s just kind of a match made in heaven. And Brian and I can talk forever, I guess, you know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:03] Is that valid, Brian?

Brian Comerford: [00:08:06] That is valid, yeah. So, you know, Nick and I, I think there was, you know, we’ll call it harmonic resonance from the outset. You know, it’s the kind of thing where he and I, I think, just kind of play off each other very naturally in just an ordinary conversation. But in particular, in the working group that he referred to, you know, just the interaction that we had, the amount of topics that we feel, kind of perspectives that we had, that we felt were both valid, but also, kind of coming from directions that were maybe not as conventional as some of the other members of the working group.

Brian Comerford: [00:08:48] And it felt like something where, you know, there was an opportunity for us to really explore this and kind of open it up into more of a community setting or a public setting. Well, I’ve got to credit, Nick, because he’s really the one that came forward and he said, you know, "I mean, we’re doing a lot of talking here that could be valuable to others, why don’t we just create a podcast? Let’s just do it." And, you know, following his lead, we jumped in and I’m so thankful that we have, because we’ve been doing it for a little over a year now. And it’s been hugely gratifying and it’s just great to get feedback from the audience that we’ve been able to develop over time.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:28] That’s cool. So, just in case those who are listeners kind of went fast-forwarded through the introduction, give the audience just a little bit of your background. And we’ll start with Nick.

Nick Lozano: [00:09:38] Okay. So, I’d like to say how I got into technology, I walked into a room, and that’s really not a joke. I walked into a room. So, to give you a little bit back on myself, you know, when I first got out of high school, I did paint and body work as an auto mechanic guy. And then, I decided I didn’t want to huff fumes anymore and that was bad for my health. I would have think breathing in dust would be bad for you. So then, I kind of went back to college.

Nick Lozano: [00:10:08] And I was working in restaurants. I was a professional chef for a little while, worked at different hotels and resorts during my time. And, you know, I just decided I had to do something different. And I always had this knack and interest in technology. So, I went to a community college and kind of just got a generally AA, which is how I recommend everyone to go to college, go and get a general AA, get it as cheap as you can and then, go to a state school. So, I did that.

Nick Lozano: [00:10:36] And then, lo and behold, here, I’m at the University of Central Florida and I have to declare a major, because I’m, you know, a rising junior. And they’re like, "Well, you know, you need to decide what you’re going to do." And this one guy walks by, he’s a professor, he’s like, "You don’t know what you want to do?" He’s like, "Just come with me to this room." Lo and behold, I became a management of information systems student, kind of how I got into technology. And then, I’ve worked in roles at consulting firms. I own a small boutique consulting firm. And then, I wound up where I am now. So, I am kind of like you, Peter, I accidentally wound up where I am. I don’t know how I wound up here, but here I am.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:15] So, where you are now and according to your LinkedIn page, you’re the janitor where?

Nick Lozano: [00:11:21] I’m the janitor, it’s very long. I’m the janitor at the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers. It’s an insurance trade association in Washington, D.C.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:32] And just for the record, because I’ve seen it a couple places, so I had to go validate it. And I went out to this website and was snooping around and found out that you’re actually not the janitor, you’re the director of technology with a great sense of humor.

Nick Lozano: [00:11:47] Well, you know, if you look at my LinkedIn profile, it actually says my current job listed as a janitor and it’s even my tag line. I just don’t ever take myself seriously. And the whole janitor thing came up with a conversation I have with people on LinkedIn. I was like, you know, I wonder how many people would actually have conversations with me if they just thought I was a janitor. And the one thing it’s actually done, has driven people to my profile, because I’ll be on LinkedIn talking about leadership or podcasting or something, they’re like, "Wait, this guy’s a janitor?" They’re like, "No way."

Nick Lozano: [00:12:20] And then, lo and behold, I had a conversation with somebody that day and they’re like, "Okay. So, like, why did you make it a janitor?" I was like, "I don’t know. I just want to see if somebody would talk to me. It’s an experiment. I’m a highly curious individual." And they go on and on, they’re like, "Okay. Well, I’m looking at your profile, so what are you trying to sell?" I’m like, "I’m not trying to sell anything. I just want it to be funny", you know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:42] "Are you selling cleaning materials? I want to buy some."

Nick Lozano: [00:12:44] Exactly. Well, LinkedIn is still the internet, right? So, I mean-

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:49] Cool. Brian, what about your background?

Brian Comerford: [00:12:53] So, I got into technology from a pretty oblique background myself. I was very interested in electronic music from a young age. I got a synthesizer and a drum machine the same year that MIDI came out. And that was really the beginning of learning how to cobble together technical equipment and pass signal from one thing to another. And pretty soon, I was working in a sequencing emulator in an old Atari personal computer. And, you know, pretty quickly, discovered that of all the kids I knew, I was one of the most technical.

Brian Comerford: [00:13:32] Although I never considered myself a technical person, I’ve always been an artist, honestly. I’m the son of a couple of artist and writer. And, you know, I really thought that I would go off and write screenplays and make movies, do film making. And all through my academic background, initially, that is exactly what I did. I’m on film arts, I’m on screenwriting. I worked more and more with technical equipment. You know, really creating things, using software, and kind of learned, you know, a lot about how you can apply automation principles within sort of an artistic context.

Brian Comerford: [00:14:15] Well, I never thought that that was going to lead into a deeper and deeper technical career. But in the mid-’90s, I got really intrigued—at a time that I was a DJ and a broadcast producer, and I got really intrigued by something called Real Audio. And I started talking to other people about it. And I said, "Hey, this is really cool. You know, there’s this thing now where you can actually stream audio on the web." And no one cared. But I was really fascinated with it. I just happened to be producing a program that a couple of my co-producers and I wrote a grant to get a real producer license and started webcasting our program.

Brian Comerford: [00:14:59] And that really kind of started me, you know, this internet radio thing right at the beginning of kind of the swell of the .com wave. And, you know, how could I possibly have seen that I’d be getting into one of the most volatile industries with everything that happened to the music industry. But I got really deep into everything that was going on with digital distribution in the music industry throughout the remainder of the ’90s, went through my own bouts of litigation, as many, you know, audio companies did, not for doing anything wrong, but just because that became, you know, the main play for the Record Industry Association of America.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:43] Right.

Brian Comerford: [00:15:44] It was, sue everybody. That will slow this down.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:47] Yeah, that works.

Brian Comerford: [00:15:50] And about the time that I was bottomed out financially, I thought, you know, it’s probably a good time to go back to grad school and get credentials for all this stuff that I’ve been doing for the last decade. So, I did. And I went and got a master’s degree in digital media and I’ve been doing a lot of independent consulting myself. Around that time, I had a friend who was a law clerk at a commercial insurance brokerage. He said, "Hey, I work for this company I’ve never heard of, in an industry that you didn’t know existed, but they need someone like you to come fix all of this stuff about the technology."

Brian Comerford: [00:16:28] And I thought it would be, you know, something like kind of a cool consulting engagement. And 15 years later, it’s what I’ve been doing for a long damn time now. It’s fortunate and, you know, that is the work that ultimately led me to be a member of the CIO Mastermind group that Nick has been steering for many years now and to be able to collaborate with them and ultimately help him to help produce Lead.exe together.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:00] That’s cool. So, you’ve mentioned the CIO working group. And it’s a Mastermind group. So, what’s the conversation like when you guys get together and own your masterminding? What topics are discussed? What do you guys talk about?

Nick Lozano: [00:17:22] You would think that getting everybody together would be them talking about what customer relationship management system they’re going to use, right? But it never really gets to that. I think the big topic that we’ve seen the last couple of years is talent acquisition and talent development, right, Brian?

Brian Comerford: [00:17:40] Yeah.

Nick Lozano: [00:17:40] They’re like, "Okay. Well, you know, data science is big. We bought all this, you know, software to do data science. Now, we just need somebody to do it. Where do we find these people who do this?" And that’s been a big trend. And I would say cyber security, you know, and anything related on cyber security lately is a hot topic issue.

Brian Comerford: [00:17:59] So, Nick and I have been really interested in these areas that even though they get qualified as soft skills a lot, we don’t really consider them soft skills. We consider them essential leadership skills. And that ended up being something that pretty quickly, we realized that was really a sort of top agenda item, working group after working group. And for us, it’s been great, because it’s given us opportunities to schedule bringing in facilitators really to help conduct leadership training. And then, you know, we also develop a structured agenda for every working group so that we can do our best to kind of, you know, herd cats and keep everything pretty much, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:45] So, it’s interesting to bring a talent development cyber security, because in the world that I primarily deal in with accounting and finance professionals, talent development, talent retention, talent attraction seems to be either one or two for the past five years and some organizations have figured it out, some are still thinking it’s 1980.

Nick Lozano: [00:19:12] Thinking they’d get the gold watch in every retirement, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:15] Yeah. And it just boggles my mind sometimes that we get a pretty large workforce out there that’s coming and who don’t act like—because I’m a baby boomer, and who don’t operate in the same mindset that we do, but we expect them to morph into our world when really, we should be creating an environment that attracts them to stay in our world versus repel them out. Are you guys seeing the same thing?

Nick Lozano: [00:19:47] We’re seeing the same thing. And I know what word everyone thinks of as soon as they say this is that dreaded M word.

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:57] I hate that word.

Nick Lozano: [00:19:58] I hate it.

Brian Comerford: [00:19:58] That’s one of Nick’s favorite words.

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:59] Yeah.

Nick Lozano: [00:20:00] And no. Yeah. It is my favorite word by far. What I mean, sometimes, I’m in that generation, sometimes, I’m not, being born in ’82. But when I always think of people are always criticizing the millennial generation, they’ve kind of been a punching bag and now, it’s kind of shifting to that Gen Z, right?

Brian Comerford: [00:20:17] Yeah.

Nick Lozano: [00:20:17] Now, they’re starting to be sort of the punching bag. But I always say that, you know, older generations have always criticized younger generations since the beginning of time. You know, I always bring it back to this one quote. It’s, "They think they know everything and they are quite sure about it." You know who said that?

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:34] Who said that?

Nick Lozano: [00:20:38] That was Aristotle in the Rhetoric, in 4th BC. So-

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:43] Wow.

Nick Lozano: [00:20:43] … I mean, we’re talking about since the beginning of time. And what I always tell people is when you hear these things about millennials, take the word millennial off of it and just put people, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:55] Yeah.

Nick Lozano: [00:20:55] People love to work for a purpose. People love to know what they’re working for. People love to know they have a path for career growth. People just love to do that. And I think what we’ve seen is that over time, the internet has just made it easier to find like-minded people, where previous generations didn’t have, you know, instantly, to post something on Reddit and saying how they feel or Twitter and somebody could see it instantly in real time. Now, these younger generations can find those people more easily.

Nick Lozano: [00:21:22] And I think their voice is just being heard. I don’t think we’re seeing anything new, at least in my opinion, that wasn’t there before. It’s just more front and center. And before, you know, leaders were just kind of like, "Well, you know, I hired Johnny over here and we pay him well. So, he’ll just stay here for 20 years and we won’t worry about developing him, you know, talent-wise, turning him into a leader, actually caring about our people. We don’t need to worry about that, because he’ll just stay here for 20 years.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:49] Brian?

Brian Comerford: [00:21:49] Well, I will chime in and say that I fall squarely in Gen X. And the first time that I remember someone in our organization referring to millennials and they had sort of this list of things that we had to be aware about, because these were the behaviors and expectations, these different things. I looked at it and I thought there’s not a single thing here that doesn’t describe me. But I also, you know, consider myself to be more socially progressive.

Brian Comerford: [00:22:18] I’ve also been very involved in the evolution in technology and have been with the web since its release 1993. So, it’s something that, you know, has just always been part of my own set of behavioral characteristics. So, to then suddenly hear that there’s this demographic ball of fire made me realize that really, we’ve got sort of this segment of the population that just didn’t know what time it is. And, you know, now, they’ve been caught off guard by a whole demographic of, you call them digital natives pretty typically, right?

Brian Comerford: [00:22:59] It’s just people who are really comfortable living in an interconnected world that, you know, we’re linking things to be a hypertext, as, you know, there’s nothing revolutionary about it. I mean, that’s actually a qualifier for how people start to think and interact. And, you know, it’s a social media context becomes part of just your social context. So, all of those things, to me, there was nothing revolutionary going on other than suddenly, a demographic. People suddenly woke up to the fact that, "Well, wait a second, you know, things have changed." And, you know, there’s kind of two impulses. One is, "I’m change-averse by nature. Therefore, I want to try to put a stop to this."

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:40] Right.

Brian Comerford: [00:23:40] Impossible to do, right? And so, if I can’t put a stop to it, I’m going to criticize it or if people are going to take it and try to make it into part of their own personal set of behavioral characteristics, and I think we’ve started to see, you know, more of an awareness that change is just going to continue. Figuring out how we imbue that change in, you know, things that either from a business perspective or from a talent acquisition perspective, right? How do we bring those things and make it part of the collective demographic versus it’s an us and them kind of thing? We’re still sort of in that gray zone navigating through a lot of that, but it feels like it’s improved.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:27] I think it’s an improvement. If you think about the baby boomer when they entered the workforce, their bosses were the greatest generation, right? The silent generation, how we describe them. And those folks went through the depression. They went through very tough times in this country. And then, here come the baby boomers, let’s see, make love, not war. You know, Haight-Ashbury, the whole drug scene and the Vietnam War and the counter of culture.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:56] They forget that, because the older generation is looking at them, "What is that music? You know, who’s that Elvis Presley guy", you know, and stuff. And looked at them in the same way that the boomers always kind of look at the younger generation. And I think I realized when I was teaching at Ohio Dominican University, when my group of seniors were going on to the workforce, I’d take them aside and I’d give a little piece of advice. But they were talented.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:23] I said, "You know stuff that my peers have no clue and they know stuff that you have no clue. Find a way to build the bridge. Don’t look at anybody any differently, but just know that you’ve got talents that they don’t have and they have talents that you don’t have. And if you can align them together, you’ll come out at the end. And just try to take that stereotype out." But I’m like, if I hear another person, "They’re millennials", "Those millennials are multi-billionaires.".

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:54] I don’t know, some guy named Zuckerberg or something like that and who’ve created these organizations to grow and thrive. And by the way, has anybody been to Sears lately?" I mean, so I think that’s kind of how it’s all—but we do need to change that mindset, to be more inclusive and realize that. You know, my son’s a Gen Z and he’s mastering it, because he’s a Gen Zzzz. He’s going to sleep his way to the top.

Nick Lozano: [00:26:30] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:30] So, what challenges do you see in your world out there that people are talking a lot about outside of the talent and development and obviously, cyber security will always be there, but in this leadership soft skill genre?

Nick Lozano: [00:26:46] I would say emotional intelligence just in general, right, Brian?

Brian Comerford: [00:26:50] For sure.

Nick Lozano: [00:26:50] You know, as technology leaders are always very keen on their technical skills, they keep up with what Amazon’s doing, what Microsoft’s doing, what the latest coding language is, but they spend very little time looking at research about, you know, any emotional intelligence, self-awareness, meditation, breath work, like none of that stuff nobody ever looks at. And that’s kind of our thinking with bringing our podcast. Really, our podcast could be just a leadership podcast. But we’re tech guys and we gear it towards tech people, because we know that these issues don’t come forefront to them.

Nick Lozano: [00:27:24] In the easy emotional intelligence world, I think it’s self-awareness, right? We go back to the boomer, millennial thing, Gen Z, it’s just being aware that you possibly have some biases, right? You know, being in this generation, being older, you know, looking down at younger generations or younger generations looking up at older generations saying, "Well, you know, not looking at them for their experience, you know, tapping into their experience to get some advice or some information." I would say for me, self-awareness and caring are two big things I see lacking in leaders, in general.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:59] Brian?

Brian Comerford: [00:28:00] Well, I think a component of that, you know, we’re kind of having fun at Nick earlier for having janitor as his job title on LinkedIn, but part of that mindset we referred to for years is the custodial mindset. And so, within the business, there tends to be this perception that anyone who’s working in IT, they’re the trolls in the back room. Like we only summon them when we currently need something or something needs to be fixed or cleaned up, right? But in terms of inviting them to have a seat at the table and be thought leaders, not organization, it tends not to be at the forefront of companies that aren’t tech companies to begin with, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:40] Right.

Brian Comerford: [00:28:40] So, you know, part of that self-awareness is the understanding that actually, today in the 21st century, raw tech companies, raw data companies. And actually, having our tech leadership very close to the executive leadership, having that seat at the table, it’s really critical to help ensure that your business is evolving and transforming when it needs to. So, that’s another component that I think it ends up being a topic that we arrive at pretty frequently, whether or not it’s something that, you know, for instance, in our working group, ends up being an overt agenda item. It’s one that just continually comes up.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:24] When I mentioned emotional intelligence or do social-emotional intelligence to finance and accounting professionals, I get this, "Oh, dear God. I mean, this is going to be a poll. What? This is a touchy, feely stuff?".

Nick Lozano: [00:29:38] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:38] And I watch these for these emotions, this body language and I think I said this on you guys’ podcast, you know, I ask them this question, "By the way, guys, what business are you in?" "You know, we’re in accounting, finance, we’re in auditing, we’re tax." "No, no. That’s not the business that you’re in, that’s a byproduct of what you’re in." I try to get them just a little bit agitated enough, "No, you’re in the people business." And that’s first and foremost in every business that’s out there, I think, people business.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:02] In order to be better at your business, you have to understand yourself as a person and your organization as people and that brings in the importance of emotional intelligence. And that’s what the big thing is and it’s starting to resonate with them. But I don’t think that Sheldon Cooper-type of character mentality, the way they’ve crafted him in the Big Bang Theory, who’s socially awkward, who, you know, has no filter, and doesn’t care about people’s feelings, it’s harder for that linear left brain person to adapt and want to adapt into that touchy, feely type of stuff. But the more that we can learn about it, the better that we can be in growing our businesses.

Brian Comerford: [00:30:53] You know, even thinking about it from the perspective of not even necessarily the touchy, feely stuff, but, you know, we hear a lot about performance management in organizations, the importance of it. And, you know, you’ve got to have these quarterly check-ins and you’ve got to work with your direct reports to establish goals and all these things. It’s this very structured sort of rote, repetitive kind of behavior. But the emotional intelligence component of it is just interact with them like people and have regular conversations.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:24] Right.

Brian Comerford: [00:31:24] And disclose your expectations and, you know, make sure that you’re actually communicating in a way so that everyone feels included and up-to-date on things that are going on. And then, all this performance management stuff actually goes out the window. It is just happening, because it’s part of your culture. So, to me, that’s a component of emotional intelligence. When I see someone roll their eyes when I use that phrase, to me, that’s one of those places that I go, because a lot of people are like, "Oh, yeah. Well, performance management, well, that’s obviously critically important.

Nick Lozano: [00:31:58] Yeah.

Brian Comerford: [00:31:58] Emotional intelligence, maybe not", you know.

Nick Lozano: [00:32:00] "What are the KPIs we’re trying to hit here?"

Brian Comerford: [00:32:03] Exactly.

Nick Lozano: [00:32:03] It is on the huhs, knows. So, I think Brian touched on a very good point, and this is the way it was taught to me years ago. It’s like one of my first management roles was working in a restaurant, being assistant kitchen manager, and like working with people who are like 19, 20 years old, who are rough-cut bunch of pirates. If you ever read the Anthony Bourdain book, you know. People who work in kitchens are going to be very interesting individuals.

Nick Lozano: [00:32:34] And I remember the chef coming up to me one time, he’s like, he goes, "All right. You know, Nick, I want you to walk your shift." I was like, "Okay, you just me to walk around and, you know, make sure the floors are clean, you know, like things are labeled today?" He’s like, "No, I want you to walk your shift." I’m like, "Well, Chef, I’m sorry. I don’t really understand what you’re doing. I can physically walk around here. What are you trying to get at?" He’s like, "No, every day when you’re in here", he’s like, "I want you to walk around and talk to everybody and have genuine conversations with them like they’re human beings.".

Nick Lozano: [00:33:03] He’s like, "Have a real quick five-minute conversation. Find out who someone’s kids are. You know, walk over here. Is this person going to school? What are they doing at school? Have a genuine interest in them as individuals and care about them and then, they will care about you. They will do anything they need to do for you if you genuinely care about them." And for me, that’s all emotional intelligence is, it’s just genuinely caring about the people that you work with, right? As soon as you understand as a leader that you work for the people that you’re managing, not the other way around, emotional intelligence comes out so much easier than trying to force it on, just in my opinion.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:41] So, yes, when we have that servant leadership approach. So, when I think of emotional intelligence and I’m thinking of one word, what is the biggest killer of emotional intelligence or what stops somebody from embracing emotional intelligence? There’s one word I’m thinking, has three letters in it.

Nick Lozano: [00:34:01] That’s going to be the—what do you think there, Brian?

Brian Comerford: [00:34:09] One word, three letters. Okay. Well-

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:11] And we all have it. And we all have it.

Brian Comerford: [00:34:14] … Ego.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:15] Ego. Ego. Our ego gets in the way. Our ego stops us from really accepting emotional intelligence. I had a guy in one of my classes, sessions in Minnesota and I knew I’d recognized him before and he’s an attorney who’s a CPA, who is this smartest guy in the room, just ask him. And he’ll tell you he’s the smartest guy in the room, "And I think this is worthy of your time." And it was just like he has absolutely no emotional intelligence, because it’s all about him and not about everybody else.

Nick Lozano: [00:34:51] Yeah.

Brian Comerford: [00:34:52] Well, I think they can go back to that same sense of divide when you’re talking about, you know, millennials versus whatever other generational demographic. You know, as long as there’s an us and them mentality instead of a we mentality, then, you know, that part that’s getting fed, right? It’s the ego. It’s the, I’ve got the title, I’ve got these years of experience, these things make me important. You know, from a societal perspective, you know, we’re all act animals, right?

Brian Comerford: [00:35:26] I mean, we thrive on having some kind of gratification with that status. And so, the more emotionally intelligent you become, the more you’re able to check your ego at the door and recognize that there’s probably a lot to be learned. I actually closed my mouth and listen. And I think it cuts both ways. You know, certainly, many younger generational people I met were very cavalier and confident, because they just figured something out, so therefore, they must know everything, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:01] Nick?

Nick Lozano: [00:36:02] Yeah, I think you just described me at 19 years old. "I’ll stay at the back of this truck. We’ll be due at 50? It’s fine." Yeah. And I think I would agree with Brian. You know, that left-brain mentality, when you’re used to being the smartest person in the room, you have to be able to just sit there and let people fully flush out ideas before you say anything." You know, it’s listening to hear what somebody is saying instead of waiting to respond, right?

Nick Lozano: [00:36:36] And thinking about what your next response is. It’s truly being open and understanding that there never is any right or wrong answer, you know, there’s just a different answer. And that’s my opinion. And, you know, I’ll go back to another thing, too and we’re talking about this, it’s, you got to be vulnerable a little bit, right? One thing I always like to tell people who work with me is things that I’ve screwed up. I’ve screwed up a number of things like, "How about the one time I actually tripped over a server room cable off and took the whole office internet down for 25 minutes, for the time I shut a server off and go, ‘This will turn back on’, and it never did?"

Nick Lozano: [00:37:16] So, like I always like to share with people, you know, like I make mistakes, I’m human. Therefore, I’m not expecting you to be perfect in here. And with that mentality is when you have to be right, you have a hard time being vulnerable, because, you know, you have to be right. But I would say, "Let’s just share something that everybody’s kind of messed up. Let’s have a fail fest right now and just go over everything you failed with, kind of open up and get everyone kind of comfortable with each other to get used to the idea that you don’t have to be right and that you can mess things up." And everybody messes everything up. If somebody works in technology and has told you they have never screwed something up, they are lying to you.

Brian Comerford: [00:37:57] That’s an interesting point, Nick, because, you know, I think the key attribute of emotional intelligence to be able to disclose things in that way is having that implicit trust and knowing that it’s okay to be able to disclose those things. Particularly in technology, because, you know, we work in an industry where the expectation is there’s, you know, tool for tolerance, right? I mean, there’s just no margin for error in things. And, you know, to admit that you screwed up can sometimes cost you your job, right?

Nick Lozano: [00:38:36] Yeah.

Brian Comerford: [00:38:36] Or, at least gets you demoted to a desk in the basement. But when you do have a high degree of emotional intelligence and it spans the entire team, that’s when you’re really able to be capable of having those conversations, where you can say something like, you know, "Hey, here’s the mistake I made, I wanted to make sure that you’re aware of it."

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:57] Well, if we had a fail fest, we’ll have enough time on this podcast. Should we even start, this would be like an 18-hour, 14 different segments piece. But, you know, I have to commend you, too. I didn’t realize you are both excellent improvisers, because-

Nick Lozano: [00:39:17] That’s right. I am a janitor, you know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:18] And that’s right, but-

Nick Lozano: [00:39:19] A lowly janitor, humble janitor.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:22] But in improv, I mean, Nick said it and, you know, it’s listening to understand versus listening to respond. In improv, it’s about suspending judgement. Otherwise, leave your ego at the door. In improv, it’s about being vulnerable. In improv, it’s not about me, it’s about the team. And everything that you guys have said up to this point has resonated in my world of improv. And most people don’t realize it, but when I sit there and dissect, they go, "Oh. That’s cool. Well, you want to get up on stage in a theater?" And then, they shut right down. But I’d rather have those folks out there going, "Okay. Now, I’m aware of it. Now, let me use it", versus, "I’m just kind of blindly doing this." And you guys have just demonstrated tremendously.

Brian Comerford: [00:40:14] Wow. That says a lot coming from an improv master like yourself. Well, thank you.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:21] Oh, well, you know, everybody I meet—let me rephrase that. 93% of the people that I meet are improvisers, they just don’t realize it. Nobody has explained it to them. That remaining percentage will never become improvisers because it’s about them, it’s about their ego, as well as what’s in it for them, not what’s in it for the group. And then, it’s fun to watch when I mentioned it, because it is a leadership tool that really, this environment, this world thrives. It wasn’t going to thrive in the ’70s and ’80s and ’90s. But now that we’ve morphed into this over the last 20 years, it’s become a much more powerful tool in the workplace if we can get past corporate culture and the ego and be vulnerable, which is so extremely difficult in corporate America these days.

Brian Comerford: [00:41:17] I’ll share a little anecdote to your peers.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:19] Okay.

Brian Comerford: [00:41:20] Since first meeting you-

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:21] Uh-oh.

Brian Comerford: [00:41:21] I’ve been turning my son onto improv. And of course, I have to be cautious about, you know, which content I’ve been exposing him to, since he is eleven.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:33] Yeah.

Brian Comerford: [00:41:33] But, you know, something that was-

Nick Lozano: [00:41:34] He has the internet, Brian. It’s all over that.

Brian Comerford: [00:41:37] Well, maybe I control his internet. But, you know, my wife is Thai. And Thai people, you know, in Thailand, there’s pretty much one guy who’s a stand up comic, because it’s not really something that is, you know, culturally common, the idea of, you know, exposing yourself in that way in Asian culture, in general.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:04] Yeah.

Brian Comerford: [00:42:04] It’s more about, you know, you kind of fade into the group, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:07] Right. Right.

Brian Comerford: [00:42:08] So, it was interesting, because we found this Canadian improv troop that does everything, you know, family friend. And we’re watching one of his episodes and me and my son, we’re just having the greatest time. And my wife could not figure out where the joke was. And it was a lot of fun, you know, kind of getting to explain it to her and see her start to open up to it, because the idea from her perspective that, you know, you would just kind of be riffing off on each other and that this thing would constantly be evolving rather than, you know, it’s a joke that is told with a beginning, middle, and end.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:46] Right.

Brian Comerford: [00:42:46] Right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:47] Right.

Brian Comerford: [00:42:48] It was pretty interesting seeing how eye-opening—so I just thought that would be a little fun thing to share.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:55] I appreciate that. It is. I so love improv, because when you’re doing it for theatrical purposes or onstage and there’s an audience that you want to make them laugh, the word, and, can bring the audience to its knees in how it’s being used. And there is no, per se, script, it’s all, you know—but when you do stand-up comedy, stand-up comedy, it’s the premise and the punchline and the tags. And there is a structure there, where in improv, there is no structure. And when you start studying improv and learning that the principles are really business tools, it makes a corporate workplace a lot more fun, but you have to have everybody that’s buying in on, you just can’t be the only one trying to do it. And then, going, "Who’s this crazy guy?"

Brian Comerford: [00:43:41] That’s right. My wife would be the one that we be off as she’s the one who doesn’t get it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:44] Yeah.

Brian Comerford: [00:43:47] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:47] Right. That we shouldn’t be laughing and having fun at work, this is serious stuff. It is serious, but if we want to get through the day and be sane, we should be able to have some fun. And this is not about, you know, telling jokes like a priest, a rabbi, and Bill Clinton walk into a bar. "I did not walk into that bar. I did not walk into that bar." It’s not about that, because you’ve offended three different groups of people then. It’s about an attitude, it’s about a mindset.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:19] As Nick said, he didn’t take himself seriously. He’s a janitor. But are you serious about your work? Absolutely. But you don’t take yourself too seriously and you’re vulnerable. And if we could devise a drug or something that people could take or realize—and I think it’s an improv class. My improv coach said a long time ago, "If everybody took one improv class, this world would be a better place." And to get everybody to buy in on that concept. So, I challenge you guys to take an improv class. You can-

Nick Lozano: [00:44:55] Challenged accepted.

Brian Comerford: [00:44:56] Challenge accepted.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:59] … take your 11-year-old son with you to it. Now that he’s still, you know, kind of, "Oh, dad’s the smartest guy in the world" versus I tried to get my 17-year-old son to go with me and, "Dad, really? Go with you to do what?"

Nick Lozano: [00:45:15] "Doing this thing with my dad?"

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:16] Right. Yeah. So-

Nick Lozano: [00:45:17] And then, you’ll surprise him and pull up TikTok and film the whole thing, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:24] Brian, can you translate that for me? What’s a TikTok? You know, the clock?

Nick Lozano: [00:45:27] No. TikTok is probably the number one growing social media platform there.

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:35] Okay.

Brian Comerford: [00:45:35] And that have been for some time, so that makes it-

Nick Lozano: [00:45:36] Yeah.

Brian Comerford: [00:45:36] … a little extra old

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:38] So, both of you just called me grandpa, I appreciate that. And there are times that I am. There are times that I don’t—I know enough. My wife’s boss, years ago, and she was with Macy’s for 35 years, so later, her boss called her technologically Amish. I’m far beyond that. But probably not up to your guys’ level. Willing to learn.

Nick Lozano: [00:46:18] It’s okay. I had someone who was a recent college graduate who didn’t know how to use Excel at one point in time. So, it just runs the whole gambit. Just because some is an older generation or younger doesn’t mean they don’t know technology or know technology better, just in my experience. I’ve had the phone call where somebody told me they couldn’t get the foot pedal on the computer to work.

Brian Comerford: [00:46:43] My goodness. Wow.

Nick Lozano: [00:46:45] And that would be a computer mouse on the floor. So, you get support tickets, you have to try to not laugh. And for real, it happens.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:58] Oh, my God, that’s hilarious. I can’t get the foot pole on my computer to work.

Nick Lozano: [00:47:02] Oh, yeah. If you ever want a good laugh, just look at the system madmen sub-Reddit on Reddit. They have some very interesting support calls on there.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:12] You know, when I think of technology, I think if you’re not used to it, you’re fearful of it. And it’s getting past that fear and wanting to learn and realize it takes time. You’re not going to learn just like that, we don’t learn anything just like that.

Brian Comerford: [00:47:32] Sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:32] But it’s technology and people want—and if they don’t, I don’t want—my IT desk is 19 years old and he’s upstairs and he tried—I don’t know if my wife still listens to this or not, I don’t want to go through hell—he’s, you know, trying to get her to become more technically savvy and she just throws her hands up like, "I don’t want to live with it." It’s like, "Well, you kind of got to." You know, actually, you don’t have to, but the more that you know and the more that you’re on social media, the more you can hear the conversation out there that you should be aware of."

Brian Comerford: [00:48:08] You know, it’s funny, most people are actually far more curious than they may believe themselves to be. And when it comes to technology, it’s almost like that curiosity gets shelved because, you know, it’s a lot more safe. If I don’t go exploring with this thing, you know, what happens if I break it?

Nick Lozano: [00:48:29] Yeah.

Brian Comerford: [00:48:29] You know?

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:30] Right.

Brian Comerford: [00:48:31] But the funny thing is, we’re all inherently curious. We’re all moving towards wanting to gather more information about things. And, you know, I try to use that as one of those perception breakers, you know, for folks who find themselves really hung up about playing around with technology, it’s, use the same curiosity that you would have in just having a conversation with someone you just met, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:58] Right.

Brian Comerford: [00:48:58] It’s exploring in that exact same way.

Nick Lozano: [00:49:01] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:01] That comes in with the vulnerability, because when most people want to ask about it, they don’t want to seem like they’re just stupid, the reason why they don’t ask a lot of questions.

Brian Comerford: [00:49:10] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:10] I still remember I interviewed this woman, her name is Jody Padar. She’s a CPA in Chicago, but she’s very technically savvy and she was talking about bots a couple years ago, we go—bots can be the—I said, "Jodi, what the hell is a bot?" And she laughed. And she was, "I thought I told you that on the last time you interviewed me" And then, she goes, I think, "Do you know what block chain is?" I said, "Yeah, it’s an intestinal disorder. What is it?" But as I’ve said it and I’ve gone, "Okay, you know what, I need to understand this stuff", so I’ve tried to learn more about it all over the years.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:47] But I see a lot—I mean, you guys are up to speed with this, but I see a lot of people in the accounting world particularly go, "This is a fad. We’ll never going to-" And I’m like, "Guys. You know, it’s here. Artificial intelligence in the workplace is here. Artificial intelligence, I’ve got one here. I have one back there. I’ve got-" I’m not going to say her name because she always answers me, it starts with an A. And then, I got some hobo over here that, you know, kind of bounce them off each other, give them equal time. But, you know, I think the more that we embrace technology, the more productive and curious we become.

Nick Lozano: [00:50:24] I mean, you know, artificial intelligence, which is a whole thing within itself, I always tell people, you know, when—AI is the big buzzword now, right? But I equate the word AI to like, say, in a car, right? There are parts in a car that are separate all on its own. There’s a transmission. There’s a gear shifter. There’s all this. But you don’t refer to each part component itself, right? You just refer to the whole device as a car.

Nick Lozano: [00:50:50] Well, AI is kind of like that. There are components of it. There’s computer vision, there’s geographic information systems, there’s machine learning. So, AI is kind of like this big term that the media likes to use, but it’s kind of like saying, you know, you went to college at the University of Kentucky, but, you know, there’s all these different minors and majors you can do. There’s more to it than just going to that school.

Peter Margaritis: [00:51:16] Yes, there was. But Nick, I mean, you did a very good job of creating that analogy, telling a story about something that’s more complicated. And a lot of folks who—one thing a lot of folks have a hard time, especially when they understand a complex language, to put it in a context that someone who doesn’t have that language can understand. Now, I’ve always thought of AI—so, my first interaction with AI was Allen Iverson, during watching him on a press conference about practice, but outside of—

Nick Lozano: [00:51:50] About practice?

Peter Margaritis: [00:51:51] Yeah, talking about practice. But then, when I think of AI, I think it in totality like I think of a car.

Nick Lozano: [00:51:56] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:51:57] But this is the first time somebody’s ever explained it to me like, "Oh, there’s more than that."

Nick Lozano: [00:52:01] Yeah. Because, you know, like your assistant you got there back on your desk, I’m not going to say it in case anyone is listening in their car or something or on their phone, you know, that has natural language processing in it, which takes the context of what you’re saying to try to figure out what you’re requesting, which is a part of artificial intelligence. And, you know, I can explain block chain to you real quick, too. You want to know what blockchain is in a nutshell?

Peter Margaritis: [00:52:25] Sure.

Nick Lozano: [00:52:25] I have a piece of paper, you have a piece of paper, Brian has a piece of paper. All right? And now, we can each write Change Your Mindset podcast on it, right? I write that, you write that, Brian writes that. Now, let’s check and verify that. Did you write that on your piece of paper?

Peter Margaritis: [00:52:41] Yes.

Nick Lozano: [00:52:41] Did Brian write that on a piece of paper? Did I write that on a piece of paper? Boom. That’s block chain. We just verified everything. We wrote everything on a ledger. We wrote it down. And then, we all agreed that that’s what we wrote. And it’s exactly the same. That’s block chain.

Peter Margaritis: [00:52:56] I got to go back and listen to this episode again. I mean, I kid you not, that is probably the simplest way—and I don’t mean there’s a bad way.

Nick Lozano: [00:53:08] Yeah. I mean, it’s definitely a lot more complicated than that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:53:11] Right.

Nick Lozano: [00:53:11] But in a nutshell, basically, it’s a distributed ledger where we go back and verify that each node, which is, you’re a node, I’m a node, Brian’s a node. Writing this information, we verify that what was written is correct. And if anyone comes back to us to verify that information, we go, "Hey, Nick, what did you write? Is that what you wrote? Hey, Peter, what did you write? Is that what’s there? Hey, Brian, would did you write? Is that there?" And if one of them is wrong, then something’s wrong with the system. So, block chain won’t let that happen, because it has all the checks and balances. But that’s it in a nutshell. So, you don’t have to worry anymore.

Peter Margaritis: [00:53:47] Okay. So, just on a side note, you need to write an article on explaining block chain. And I’m saying, writing about explaining block chain just the way you did and submit it to an accounting and finance organization or a national accounting and finance organization, because most people out there don’t have a clue. And-

Brian Comerford: [00:54:10] Which is funny, because block chain is probably more analogous to accounting systems than anything else.

Peter Margaritis: [00:54:16] Right. Exactly. And I mean, the way I kind of got understanding is if we look at block chain from a supply chain issue. So, you know, some said, you catch a tuna out Indian Ocean, you geo-tag it, and you bring in your geo-tag and you follow that trail all the way back, so when I’m sitting there eating my sushi, "Well, where did this come from?" Literally, I probably could figure out where that fish—how did it get from there to here and make sure it’s verified. And I know that Walmart just recently said that they’re mandating that their leafy supply chain, as in romaine lettuce, that they’ve mandated block chain to be part of the process.

Nick Lozano: [00:55:00] Yeah. And that-

Peter Margaritis: [00:55:01] I know a little bit more than I thought.

Nick Lozano: [00:55:03] You know a lot. And that the thing-

Brian Comerford: [00:55:03] You know, just don’t-

Nick Lozano: [00:55:04] The big got you-

Brian Comerford: [00:55:04] … wrap your ego up around being a node.

Nick Lozano: [00:55:10] There you go. So, the biggest thing of block chain is trust, right? You have to trust each of the nodes, right? That way, you’re writing this information. And that’s one of the big sticking points, is where these consortiums and things have broken off. It’s like, "Okay, well, can we trust this over here? We’re going to set these things of trust, you know, a theory and we’re going to put contracts on that." So, it just has grown from there. But, you know, like it’s just—basically in a nutshell, you know, almost like dual-entry accounting. That’s like-.

Peter Margaritis: [00:55:37] This is triple-entry accounting.

Nick Lozano: [00:55:39] Yeah, triple.

Peter Margaritis: [00:55:40] But you said the word, it’s trust.

Nick Lozano: [00:55:44] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:55:44] Because we’ve lost trust in the banking system, this cryptocurrency was born. And because I read a few things along those lines and listened to some stuff about how that came about and Target and Home Depot, why they got hacked and all that information went away, because there’s a one central server or in a block chain community, nobody owns it. It’s spread around and it’s much harder to hack when it’s not all in one central location. Nick’s looking at me-

Nick Lozano: [00:56:16] Brian looked like he was going to reply. So-

Peter Margaritis: [00:56:20] Well, no, Nick was looking at me going, "I’m not—I don’t—what? Let’s defer to Brian then."

Brian Comerford: [00:56:30] I’ve got my bitcoin and pinging me over here on Messenger.

Nick Lozano: [00:56:37] Odd fact, I lost, you know, maybe 20 bitcoins on a hard drive somewhere. When it first came out, they published it on Github, I put it up on a PC and run it overnight, wind up with 20 bitcoins and I don’t know, maybe my mom sent that hard drive to the Goodwill or something like that, you know. This would have been forever ago, Brian, when they first published it, you know, on Github.

Brian Comerford: [00:57:00] Oh, man.

Nick Lozano: [00:57:00] And I just messed with it. And now, like you’d had to spend so much money and power, it’s not even worth your time to mine it, right?

Brian Comerford: [00:57:08] That’s true. That must’ve been a pretty valuable hard drive.

Nick Lozano: [00:57:12] I don’t even know where it is, Brian.

Peter Margaritis: [00:57:16] Yeah, Bill Gates has it somewhere. He found it.

Nick Lozano: [00:57:19] Yeah. I don’t know, somebody probably shot it with a gun or something. You know, picked up at the thrift store, burned it. Who knows?

Peter Margaritis: [00:57:27] So, as we begin to wrap up, guys, the co-host of Lead.exe, what final words do you have for my audience?

Nick Lozano: [00:57:37] I would say just be vulnerable. You know, run towards failure and do things that scare you and do them often.

Peter Margaritis: [00:57:45] I like that. Brian?

Brian Comerford: [00:57:48] Love and laughter. They are words to live by.

Peter Margaritis: [00:57:52] So, how do we love and laugh in a workplace who may not see the value of that?

Brian Comerford: [00:58:01] You know, it’s more about you seeing the value of it, I think, because you can work with a lot of jerks. And the fact is, the only way it’s going to upset you is if you allow it to. So, love and laughter. You know, recognize them for where they’re at, be thankful that that’s not you, and make sure that you get a good giggle out of it every once in a while. When you think about it, man, that guy has got some bad karma coming his way.

Peter Margaritis: [00:58:29] So, where can everybody get in contact with you guys and find your podcast?

Nick Lozano: [00:58:36] Sure. So, you can find me on LinkedIn. I accept pretty much every, you know, connection request. Oddly enough, somebody asked me to buying bitcoin today. So, you know, I’m going to just go ahead and unconnect with him. So, I’m on LinkedIn. But if you send me one, you know, connection request, as long as you’re not trying to get me to buy a cryptocurrency, you know, I will accept. You can visit leadexe.com and we’ll shoot you, you know, all the information for that. And you can find our podcast on all the podcasting platforms, Apple, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher. We also publish on YouTube as well, too.

Peter Margaritis: [00:59:12] Cool. How can people find you, Brian?

Brian Comerford: [00:59:15] Yeah, same, LinkedIn. It’s really the go-to spot. And all the other places that Nick just read along with the podcast, freebie.

Nick Lozano: [00:59:26] Ditto.

Peter Margaritis: [00:59:29] Yeah, exactly. Just ditto. Well, guys, I appreciate you taking the time. It’s been a blast. I had a blast on your podcast. I wish you guys great success in the podcast and what you do. And I can’t wait until our paths actually cross and we’re physically across from each other. That will be a hoot.

Nick Lozano: [00:59:49] Yeah, I know.

Brian Comerford: [00:59:49] It’s going to be a block chain kind of improv. I can feel it.

Nick Lozano: [00:59:53] Hey, you know, we should actually do a live stream and call it that and see if anybody joins, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:59:59] A block chain improv. All right.

Nick Lozano: [01:00:04] Block chain improv.

Brian Comerford: [01:00:06] That’s right.

Nick Lozano: [01:00:06] Hosted by a janitor, the accidental accountant.

Peter Margaritis: [01:00:14] And musician.

Brian Comerford: [01:00:14] Yeah, that’s right.

Nick Lozano: [01:00:14] Like, what the hell is this thing?

Peter Margaritis: [01:00:18] You guys are great. Thank you for your time. I appreciate it. And I look forward to our paths crossing soon.

Nick Lozano: [01:00:27] Alright. Thanks, Peter.

Brian Comerford: [01:00:27] Thanks, Peter. Thank you.

Peter Margaritis: [01:00:29] I would like to thank Brian and Nick for their time, their perspective, and their humor in sharing their leadership knowledge with you. How do you begin to change your mindset as relates to your leadership style? Think about this, really think about this and remember that you have to work on it every single day. Thank you for listening. And if you enjoyed this podcast, please take a moment and leave a review on iTunes or whatever platform you download your podcast from. Also, please subscribe and share this episode with a friend. Make today and every day your best day.

Announcer: [01:01:17] Like what you just heard? Because it’s c-suiteradio.com. C-Suite radio, turning the volume up on business.

S2E46. Looking Ahead at Season 3

Happy New Year! 2019 was a very good year for this podcast.

The show was originally titled Improv is No Joke and on April 30, 2018, the name was changed to Change Your Mindset with Peter Margaritis, CPA. The overarching theme of this podcast is leadership, with a heavy emphasis on improv as a leadership enhancer. We are currently lining up guests for the upcoming season and need your help. What topics would you like to hear more about, and what guests would you like to see interviewed on the show? We would also love to share your good and bad leadership stories on the podcast.

If you have any suggestions, feedback, or stories to share, please reach out to tina@petermargaritas.com. Thank you, and see you for Season 3!

Resources:

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:10] Welcome to Change Your Mindset podcast, formerly known as Improv is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation. Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:57] Happy New Year. I hope everyone took time to spend with their family and friends during the holiday season. 2019 was a very good year for this podcast and for my business. First, I want to thank all of my guests in 2019 for taking time out of their busy day to have a conversation with me. And those guests are Allen Lloyd, Boyd Search, Chris Jenkins, Jennifer Briggs, Gary Zeune, Bill Sheridan, Jennifer Elder, Lucy Hayhurst, Cara North, Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, Samantha Bowling, Amy Franko, Phil Lovegrove, Robin Thieme, Brian Wagner, Gleb Tsipursky, Jay Sukow, Bill and Don Tomoff, Dave Caperton, Kevin McCarthy, Ralph Picano, Chrissie Powers, Eileen Kahana, Tara Clancy, Mihaela Jekic, Ken Wentworth, Darren LaCroix, Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott, and Cara Silleto. Thank you all very much.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:59] Over the last 30 days, I’ve been thinking a lot about this podcast. The podcast went live on June 22, 2016. And this is Episode 146. The podcast can be found on Apple podcast, C-Suite Radio, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google Play, Stitcher, and many other podcast platforms. There’ve been over 50,000 downloads and they’ve been downloaded in all 50 states and in 97 countries. That continually blows my mind because I never, in my wildest dreams ever, thought that this podcast would have its reach that it currently does.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:38] The podcast was originally titled Improv is No Joke and on April 30, 2018, the name was changed to Change Your Mindset with Peter Margaritis, CPA. The overarching theme of this podcast is leadership, with a heavy emphasis on improv as a leadership enhancer. I’m currently lining up guests for the upcoming season and I need your help. I need the help of my audience. I would like to know from you, what topics would you like me to explore, what guests would you like me to interview?

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:12] Also, I would love it if you would share your good and bad leadership stories with me to be read on the podcast. Please send me your topics, your guests, and your stories to tina, T-I-N-A, @petermargaritis.com. And my assistant will compile this information for me. Now, moving forward with Season 3, there will be a new look to the cover art and the social media graphics. In addition, I’ll be running short advertisements in the episodes to help offset some of the costs. If you’d like to advertise on my podcast, please contact tina@petermargaritis.com and we’ll send you some information.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:50] Now, this year, I’ve actually been interviewed on three podcasts and I would like to thank Keep Leading with Eddie Turner, Lead.exe with Nick Lozano and Brian Comerford, Mr. Biz Radio with Ken, Mr. Biz, Wentworth. It was fun being on the other side of the microphone for a change. I would like to end this episode by sharing an article that was sent to me titled, Warren Buffett: This is your 1 greatest measure of success in life (and if you don’t have it, ‘your life is a disaster’). The article is written by Marcel Schwantes, I apologize for butchering the name, of CNBC and it was published on February 14, 2019.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:36] And here it is, Warren Buffett is no doubt one of the few business icons who can deliver the gift of wisdom and truth when we need it the most. And those truths, when you really stop and consider them, are always spot on. In her biography of Buffett, The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, author Alice Schroeder writes about a time when Buffett gave a presentation at the University of Georgia. The students asked him about his definition of success.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:08] “When you’re nearing your end of life, your only measure of success should be the number of people you want to have love you actually do love you”, he answered. “I know people who have a lot of money and they get testimonial dinners and they get hospital wings named after them, but the truth is that nobody in the world loves them”, said Buffett. “If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.” That’s right, a self-made billionaire says the amount you are loved, not your wealth or accomplishments, is the ultimate measure of success in life.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:51] To give and receive, love is one of the most powerful emotions a human being can feel and yet, we still live in an individualistic society of keeping up with the Joneses: We forge ahead with our business ventures and strategically plan our career path in hopes of finding fame and fortune. We feel we finally arrived at the top when we’re able to vacation twice a year to exotic islands and drop a European luxury car or two in the garage. We dream about having all of these things, love be damned.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:23] “The problem with love is that it’s not for sale”, Buffet told the students. “The only way to get love is to be lovable. It’s very irritating if you have a lot of money. You’d like to think you could write a check: I’ll buy a million dollars worth of love. But it doesn’t work that way. The more love you give away, the more you get.” How can we follow Buffet’s principles of success where we truly leave behind a legacy? The path of putting love into motion is a daring and courageous one, but here are a few ways of doing it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:01] Number one, be selfless and don’t expect anything in return. The laws of love are reciprocal. When we choose to love someone unconditionally by encouraging them and believing in them, love comes back in full force through respect, admiration, trust, and loyalty. What’s more, when we receive those things, we become more self-compassionate. In 2011, a study conducted by the University of California found that self-compassion can increase motivation, willpower, and the ability to recover from failure. Another study published in 2007 in the Journal of Research and Personality concluded that people who have self-compassion are more likely to be happy, optimistic, and show personal initiative.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:48] Number two, be empathetic, empathy is one the most common traits of likable or as Buffett prefers to say, lovable. True empathy occurs when you’re able to step into someone else’s shoes and see their perspective. Empathy also plays a major role in a person’s potential to influence others. In a DDI study of more than 15,000 leaders across 20 industries, researchers found that the ability to listen and respond with empathy was the most critical driver of a team’s overall performance.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:25] Number three, make work enjoyable and fun. When you enjoy your work, you enjoy life. In Carol Loomis’s biography of Buffett, Tap Dancing To Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, she mentions a quote from Buffett, “I love every day. I mean, I tap dance in here and work with nothing but people I like. There’s no job in the world that is more fun than running Berkshire, and I count myself lucky to be where I am.” The evidence is clear, in positive and uplifting cultures where people share the same values and beliefs and norms, you’ll find high performing groups of people who attract folks of the same kind.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:08] Four, treat people the way they want to be treated. As children, we were taught the golden rule, treat others as you want to be treated. But the platinum rule takes it to a whole new level, treat others the way they want to be treated. When we follow the platinum rule, we can be more certain that we’re respecting what they want instead of projecting our own values and preferences. That doesn’t mean we should ignore the golden rule altogether, but we should realize its limitations given that every person in every situation is so different.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:44] And number five, follow your passion. If you want to have your dream career, you must follow your passion. It’s simple. Many of us take our cushy paychecks and job security for granted, even though we might hate our jobs and would rather be doing something else, something we actually love. As humans, doing what we love is a major contributor to true happiness in life. So, if you don’t know what your passion is, it’s time to figure it out.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:14] As I read this article, it struck me how closely it relates to the world of improvisation, empathy, respect, being selflessness, having fun, listening, treating people well, and following your passion are all components of the world of improvisational leadership. Now, in the spirit of changing your mindset, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from my improv coach, Jay Sukow, “If everyone took just one improv class, the world would be a better place.” If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please share it with your friends and family. Subscribe to the podcast and I look forward to Season 3 with you, my audience.

Announcer: [00:11:07] Like what you just heard? Because it’s c-suiteradio.com. C-Suite Radio, turning the volume up on business.

S2E45. How to Retain Employees Longer with Cara Silletto

Cara Silletto is the Chief Retention Officer in her consulting firm. She is also an author of two books, The Millennial Mindset: Why Today’s Workforce Thinks Differently and Staying Power: Why Your Employees Leave and How to Keep Them Longer. Cara is also a professional keynote speaker and a member of the National Speakers Association. From manufacturing to healthcare and professional services to nonprofit, Cara’s worked with businesses in a plethora of industries. Her knowledge of industry jargon and her understanding of what keeps leaders in those businesses up at night are some of the many keys to Cara’s success.

Staffing stability is a huge problem that’s impacting businesses and their bottom line, and most executives and leaders don’t know how to fix it. They have read some books or been to some conferences where they talk about workforce retention, but they just can’t fix the problem themselves.

Part of the problem is workloads, especially for those who are in mid-level positions and up, because of how long they’ve been there. Every time somebody has left or as the company has expanded, they pick up more on their plate, and suddenly that loyal worker who’s staying has more and more on their plate, and they’re starting to burn out.

There is also a lot of poaching happening, where other firms or companies are offering better opportunities to valuable employees. The companies are at a very real threat of losing those key individuals who are keeping their business running.

Workplace culture is the key component here. Your culture is how people are treated every day, the workload that people have, the hours they are working. It’s the communication style from the company, how people treat each other, and what kind of advancement opportunities there are.

It’s not just about the numbers. It’s not just about profitability. You cannot manage behind a spreadsheet. We have to balance people and profits, but those are separate.

Last year a group of nearly 200 major US executives came together and wrote a letter to their shareholders stating that short-term shareholder value was no longer their primary focus. They realized they could no longer have a sustainable and profitable business long term if they kept cutting everything for short-term gain. So instead, they identified five stakeholders that are of equal value that they have to honor in order to continue successfully.

So, those five were, 

  1. Investing in employees, specifically in diversity and inclusion. They need to provide the proper training, tools, and support for people as they promote them in order to set them up for success.
  2. Fair and ethical treatment of suppliers. Many companies were pushing their suppliers so hard that they ran them out of business because it became unprofitable. That couldn’t continue.
  3. The community in which they operate. They need to serve the community and give back to them.
  4. Providing quality goods and services to customers. You cannot continue to cut costs and still meet your customers expectations.
  5. Maximizing long-term shareholder value. In order for us to stay profitable and sustainable long term as an organization, we have to focus on these other four areas to get the shareholder value in the end.

Cara’s new book, Staying Power: Why Your Employees Leave and How to Keep Them Longer, explains the new workforce that we are trying to attract and retain. It starts by explaining that we are now in an employee market, where our workplace needs to be attractive to employees to retain talent. It then dives into the generational dynamics in the workplace and the four generations that we have working right now and how things have changed over the last 50 years.

The most important thing, regardless of generation, is to keep an eye on your people. Take good care of them. Recognize what they’re doing and say, “Thank you.” You have to show that recognition and listen to them. Be willing to make some changes as the workforce and the expectations are evolving over these next five years.

Resources:

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Cara Silletto: [00:00:00] The new generation has options, has more competence, has more access to things. And so, they’re going to say, “Enough is enough, I’m not working somewhere that is going to treat me that way or that doesn’t let me be heard or that has me on a linear path. I need more options than that.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:26] Welcome to Change Your Mindset podcast, formerly known as Improv is No Joke, where it’s all about believe that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation. Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while, growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:11] How do we keep our best and brightest employees? What is the true cost when an employee leaves the company? Are we at risk of losing some of our most talented, tenured, and loyal employees? Is a quarterly financial reporting model having an effect on our retention strategy? Well, those questions and more will be answered by my guest, Cara Silletto, who was the Chief Retention Officer in her consulting firm.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:39] Cara’s also an author of two books, The Millennial Mindset: Why Today’s Workforce Thinks Differently and Staying Power: Why Your Employees Leave and How to Keep Them Longer. Cara’s also a professional keynote speaker and a member of the National Speakers Association. From manufacturing to health care and professional services to nonprofit, Cara’s worked with businesses in a plethora of industries. Her knowledge of industry jargon and her understanding of what keeps leaders in those businesses up at night is one of the many keys to Cara’s success.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:15] Workforce magazine named Cara a game changer and recruiter.com listed her in their top 10 company culture experts to watch. She’s a 2018 Forty Under 40 recipient in Louisville, Kentucky, and she’s been quoted in Forbes, HuffPost, The Boston Globe, and many more outlets. Cara conducts 50 to 100 workforce programs annually for clients from various industries that include UPS, Humana, Vistage, Cintas, Berkshire Hathaway, the American Health Care Association, and the National Precast Concrete Association, and beyond.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:54] Cara’s a workforce thought leader who shifts managers’ mindsets so they could better lead and retain today’s new workforce. Her award-winning, engaging approach makes managers more effective in their roles. And she’s got a lot of great information in our interview. But before we get to the interview, Change Your Mindset is part of the C-Suite Family Radio podcast. It’s an honor and a privilege to be amongst some of the more prevalent business podcasts, such as The Hero Factor with Jeffrey Hayzlett, Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken, and Keep Leading with my friend, Eddie Turner. You can find Change Your Mindset and many other outstanding business podcasts on C-suite Radio by going to www.c-suiteradio.com.

Announcer: [00:03:39] This podcast is part of the C-suite Radio Network, turning the volume up on business.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:44] Now, a quick quote from our sponsor.

Sponsor: [00:03:48] This episode is sponsored by Peter A. Margaritis, LLC, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. Are you looking for a high content and engaging speaker for your next conference? Do you want to deliver a story to stakeholders that will transform data dumping to engaging business conversations? Do you want to feel that the value a speaker provides your audience far exceeds the dollar value on their invoice? Then, book Peter for your next conference, management retreat, or workshop. Contact Peter at peter@petermargaritis.com and visit his website at www.petermargaritis.com. By the way, one of his Fortune 50 clients actually made the comment about the value he brings to your audience.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:37] Now, let’s get to this interview with Cara. Hey, welcome back, everybody. Today, my guest is Cara Silletto, who is the chief retention officer of her boutique consulting firm and an author of two books and a former interview on this podcast. So, welcome back, Cara. It’s great to see you.

Cara Silletto: [00:05:03] Yeah. Thanks for having me back again, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:06] I’m looking forward to our conversation. I love the title, chief retention officer.

Cara Silletto: [00:05:11] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:13] You’re the retention expert, aren’t you?

Cara Silletto: [00:05:16] Yes, we focus solely on keeping the staff you don’t want to leave.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:22] What about the staff that you do want to leave?

Cara Silletto: [00:05:26] Yeah, we don’t help you keep those guys because we need them out, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:29] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:05:31] Some turnover is good turnover, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:34] Right. Right. I think of Southwest Airlines as it relates to turnover and Herb Kelleher said that he would never have laid off any people. He would just let the natural process take care of itself, but would not lay off, because people were their greatest asset in their business.

Cara Silletto: [00:05:52] Yeah, absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:54] So, let’s talk about retention. What do you see out there in the world these days as it relates to retention?

Cara Silletto: [00:06:02] Wow. Well, staffing stability is a huge problem that’s impacting businesses and their bottom line. And most executives and leaders are calling us because they just don’t know how to fix it. They talk about turnover and retention in every one of their staff meetings or leadership meetings. And they have read some books or been to some conferences where they talk about workforce retention and they just can’t fix the problem themselves. Also, I think a big part of that is everybody’s busy.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:37] Yeah.

Cara Silletto: [00:06:37] Everyone is so busy doing their own job. And when I work with executives, one of the things that we have to have a very serious conversation around is appropriate workloads, especially for those folks who are kind of mid-level or going up into director level-type positions because they’ve been there long enough. And every time somebody has left, they pick up more on their plate or as the company has expanded, that great worker who’s been loyal and is wonderful at their job, they pick up more work and they pick up more work.

Cara Silletto: [00:07:13] And unfortunately, they’re not offloading much off their plate. So, now, we’re getting to a point where we’re seeing a lot of burnout in the space. We’re also seeing a lot of poaching, where the other firms or other companies are coming in and saying, “Would you entertain a new opportunity to get out of the situation you’re in of being completely overloaded and giving your whole life to your job? People are really fed up, to be honest.

Cara Silletto: [00:07:42] I just had somebody the other day who is a director that had been at her company 15 or 17 years, somewhere in there. And she said, “Cara, they just keep piling on. I’m already working nights. I’m already working weekends. And they just gave me a new project for 2020 to lead.” And she’s just tired. She’s exhausted. And she asked for more staff on her team. And at one point in 2019, they had approved another position for her to get some support.

Cara Silletto: [00:08:13] But then, they had a bad fourth quarter. And a few days before I met her, she had just found out that they eliminated that new 2020 position that was going to help alleviate her stressors and take some things off of her plate. So, I’m telling you, she was at wit’s end and very close to calling it quits at this company that she loves and she’s loyal to, but she just can’t take it anymore. And she feels like her family has sacrificed enough that she can’t sacrifice anymore.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:47] Absolutely. It’s a shame that we make these decisions to not hire based off of one bad quarter because there’s always going to be a one bad quarter, it’s not always going to be—but it’s the investment in people, you know, just being a CPA, I love number. Well, I love numbers, but there’s people behind those numbers. And if you look at a person just as a number, then you will continue to pile on, pile on, pile on versus we need to make an investment into this organization and to her team and get her some help or yeah, she’ll leave. And they’ll go, they’ll be shocked-

Cara Silletto: [00:09:25] Absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:26] … “I can’t believe you left.”

Cara Silletto: [00:09:28] I know, right? Oh, they’ll be blindsided by it. Even though she has been begging for help for she said the first, you know, 12 years working there were great and were manageable. But she said the last three years at this organization, she has never had a slow time that she could get her head back above water. So, for three years now, she has been drowning and begging for help and they’re just not giving it to her. And this is just one example, Peter, but I hear that story over and over and over as I’m out working on retention with these companies. It’s not just the young hires. It’s not just the new hires. The companies are at a very real threat of losing those key individuals who are keeping their business running.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:18] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:10:19] Absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:20] So, isn’t retention and others based upon the culture of an organization?

Cara Silletto: [00:10:25] Sure, sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:27] And then-

Cara Silletto: [00:10:27] And it’s not just about the—sorry. It’s not just about the executives. It is about the day-to-day. Your culture is not posters on the wall. It’s not a mission statement. It’s not generic core values like integrity and quality, you know, that’s not your culture. Your culture is how are people treated every day? What is the workload that people have? What are the hours that people are working? What is the communication style that’s happening from the company to the people and from the people to the people? How do they treat each other and talk to people? And, you know, what are the advancement opportunities?

Cara Silletto: [00:11:09] Is it a very stagnant organization, you just come in and just do your job and you’re never going to get promoted or is it a very fluid organization where you can move to different projects and have some unique advancement over time even if a promotion isn’t available? That’s your culture. And that’s a big part of what the organizations that we work with, they are finally realizing that, as you said, it’s not just about the numbers. It’s not just about profitability. And you cannot manage behind a spreadsheet. You can’t make people decisions by managing on a spreadsheet. Okay? Doesn’t work. So, we have to balance people and profits, but those are separate. And it can’t just be done in Excel. It can’t happen that way.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:01] Oh, my gosh. If any of my audience is listening to this in their car, they’ve just fallen off the road.

Cara Silletto: [00:12:08] Be careful. Careful.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:08] Yeah. And that, they can’t manage it through Excel. But you’re right, it’s numbers, but there’s people involved in those numbers. And it’s because when I go speak and speak to accountants, one of the questions I ask, “What business are you in?” And I hear audit consulting, all those kinds of words. I say those are byproducts of the real business you’re in. And they look at me, I try to get them just mad enough that they want to hit me. They had that look in their eye-

Cara Silletto: [00:12:40] Boom.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:40] Yeah. And I go, “No, you’re in the people’s business first and foremost. Without people, you have no business.”

Cara Silletto: [00:12:47] Totally.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:48] So, we have to take care of those people. And I get this, the Scooby Doo, like it’s not registering, but it needs to register.

Cara Silletto: [00:13:00] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:00] All organizations.

Cara Silletto: [00:13:01] Peter, you know, a tipping point that I think the business world hit, it occurred in August of last year that companies over the last 20 years, they had cut and cut and cut and squeezed people for everything they could get out of them, you know, every ounce of overtime they could get on a salary person and every, you know, two jobs they could squeeze into one, the whole do more with less, and we’ve got to be a lean organization and things like that. Now, I’m not opposed to the lean but true lean operation strategies and things like that, but you can’t continue to do more with less and think that that is a sustainable model.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:45] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:13:45] So, in August last year, there was a group of almost 200 major US executives from major companies, I mean, Jeff Bezos is on there, the Marriott CEO was on there, all kinds of airlines, you know, these major companies, Macy’s, I think was on there as well. And they said, they wrote this letter and signed this to their shareholders stating that short-term shareholder value was no longer their primary focus because they had cut and cut and cut. And they realized they could no longer have a sustainable and profitable business long term if they kept cutting everything for short-term gain so that they would hit that bonus or be able to give that dividend in that quarter.

Cara Silletto: [00:14:33] And so, instead, they had this letter that identified five stakeholders that are of equal value to the executives and that they feel they have to honor these five different stakeholders in order to continue successfully. So, those five were, number one, investing in employees. They talk specifically about diversity and inclusion. They speak specifically to leadership development and professional development for staff that they can’t keep promoting people into positions without giving them the training and tools to be successful in those leadership roles.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:14] Right. Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:15:14] So, that’s a huge one. And of course, that’s where we do most of our work with management training programs and leadership development. So, that’s huge. The second one was fair and ethical treatment of suppliers. A lot of companies, again, they were squeezing and squeezing and squeezing those suppliers. And in some cases, they were running them out of business because they squeezed all the profitability out of that business altogether and their suppliers couldn’t maintain that.

Cara Silletto: [00:15:41] Another is the community in which they operate. So, serving the community and giving back to the Little League teams. I mean, those sponsorships of a theater program for the high school and things like that, they cut all of those things yet again over the last 10 to 15 years, because, you know, they were just trying to cut the costs at that point in time. So, then of course, number four, we have providing quality goods and services to our customers.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:12] Okay.

Cara Silletto: [00:16:12] We can’t continue to cut, cut, cut, and still meet our quality expectations, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:17] Right. Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:16:18] Whether you are manufacturing or a CPA firm, you have to have that high quality. And that takes, you know, investing in your people and training and systems and software and all that type of stuff. And then, the last one of those five is maximizing long-term shareholder value.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:38] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:16:38] So, they’re not focused on the quarterly areas anymore. And instead, they’re saying, look, in order for us to stay profitable and sustainable long term as an organization, we have to focus on these other four areas to get the shareholder value in the end that folks want to have by being investors or owners or, you know, any type of stakeholder in this organization. So, to me, when that letter came out in August and you can Google it, it was a Business Roundtable, is who really produced the letter and then, all of these CEOs signed it.

Cara Silletto: [00:17:12] So, you can Google that and it’s easy to find. But when that letter came out, it was a commitment from these organizations to shift their priorities. And I’m seeing some companies start to do that going into 2020. They’re adjusting their budgets for more management training, they are adjusting their budgets to start sponsoring the Little Leagues again. You know, that type of thing. And of course, there’s some skepticism of who is really going to follow through and who’s not.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:44] Right. Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:17:45] But I really do think that’s a turning point going into the next decade.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:49] That’s a huge step. And they’ve been talking about that for years about, you know, we’re managing to the quarter, but not managing in a long-term. And I know there’s been a lot of conversation in the financial community about we need to get away from this. This quarterly reporting have more of a long-term view.

Cara Silletto: [00:18:06] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:07] And thank God, it’s happening. Well, I always look at the management to the quarters as micromanaging. Nobody likes to be micromanaged.

Cara Silletto: [00:18:18] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:18] And we’re managing a company based off of that. So, you’re starting to see some strategies, so what else?

Cara Silletto: [00:18:28] Yes. So, we’re starting to get some real numbers around turnover. Because a lot of times, I am working with a leadership team that the decision makers are analytical or they are trying to manage behind a spreadsheet. So then, we have to make the case of, all right, how come we’re going to invest this money in the leadership team? And what is turnover really costing us? Whether it’s new, higher turnover, where they’re leaving within the first two years oftentimes or if it is those key people who’ve been there, maybe 10, 15, 20 years that are getting poached or burned out.

Cara Silletto: [00:19:06] And so, when you think about turnover and the costs associated with that, we can’t just look at the income statement, the P&L. We can’t just look at, okay, what’s the recruiting cost and what’s the training cost? Because there’s so much more cost to turnover and impact on the business that is intangible. And it is much harder to calculate. So, if you’re not taking that into consideration, then you’re missing a lot of the costs of turnover. So, you’ve got loss of productivity, which is harder to calculate of getting someone to replace someone else.

Cara Silletto: [00:19:40] Of course, you have those recruiting costs and the selection process, all the interviews you have to go through and you can put a dollar number on some of that, but what about the troubleshooting aspect that somebody who’s been in the business longer or who knows your software better, they have better troubleshooting capabilities. And they even know who to call in many cases like, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I know Peter knows the answer, so I could call him and get the answer in five seconds.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:09] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:20:09] Versus somebody else that, “I don’t even know where to start with that issue or that unique problem that I’ve never solved before.” So, really, just thinking about that subject matter expertise, what is that worth to you and even some of the costs of turnover, like putting everybody into the payroll system and the HR system and the benefits and things. And then, when they leave, one of your operational administrative folks has to take that person out of the HR system and out of the payroll system.

Cara Silletto: [00:20:41] And so, you’ll actually find that if you have more turnover in the last few years than you had, say, five or 10 years ago, your operational people are completely overloaded and your recruiting people are way more overloaded with four times the recruiting, four times the interviews that they had just a few years ago. So, that could be why they’re kind of complaining and throwing their hands up like I can’t do all of this because it’s the same job. Their job description hasn’t changed, but the quantity of what’s processing through their desk and their email has quadrupled potentially.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:18] I’m exhausted already just thinking about it. Just-

Cara Silletto: [00:21:21] I know, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:21] Yeah. And because I’m thinking, I know why people try to stay. They may be loyal to the company. Good job. And there’s obviously the tide of money and benefits and everything, but their people do have breaking points. And to your-

Cara Silletto: [00:21:39] Totally.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:39] … point, you’ve got your high potential individuals who you’re burning out, when they walk out the door, how much intellectual knowledge. And by the way, they’re taking your processes and procedures. And now, they’re going to another organization, probably a competitor. And, “Oh, look what I got for you. I can show you what they’re doing.” And I don’t know, I’ve got this little button right over here, up here, it says, “Be good to people.” But there’s-

Cara Silletto: [00:22:10] There you go.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:11] … a company in Cleveland who created Not For Profit and I had this shirt, Be Good To People. It’s that simple. But I tell you, I wear that shirt on an airplane, flight attendants go, “Oh, my God, I got to have one. I want to give it to every passenger who gets on this plane because they’re not good people.”

Cara Silletto: [00:22:33] Totally. Totally. Yeah. My sister has a shirt that says, “Be kind when possible.” And on the back, it says, “It’s always possible.” So, yes, I love that. She gets comments on it all the time when she wears it out. So-

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:49] But you also brought up a point that, you know, we’re promoting people. It’s the old Peter Drucker, the Peter principle of promoting people to the level of incompetence.

Cara Silletto: [00:22:59] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:59] We haven’t given them the skill set, we haven’t taught, it’s all soft skills, right? Especially in-

Cara Silletto: [00:23:05] Oh. And I hate that word. They’re not soft skills.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:09] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:23:09] They’re very critical skills.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:12] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:23:12] And that makes them sound fluffy, which then is hard to quantify.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:17] Right. Oh, but I-

Cara Silletto: [00:23:17] But it’s so critical that they get that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:19] Yeah, I tell them that we may call them soft skills, but would you agree they’re pretty hard to master?

Cara Silletto: [00:23:25] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:27] Yeah. They always said, “Now, it clicks.” It is hard to master so that all that you can learn on the job thing-

Cara Silletto: [00:23:34] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:35] … now, they’re investing into the people for these leadership skills, these communication skills, these strategic skills that are not technical in nature, the fluffy things. But you know what? I can teach somebody how to do accounting. I want to hire somebody who can think, who can talk, who can be good to clients, who can take care of folks. That’s the person that we’re looking for out there.

Cara Silletto: [00:23:59] Right. And there are ways to promote people who don’t have that path. Okay?

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:06] Yeah.

Cara Silletto: [00:24:07] If they’re not interested in managing people or can’t be coached to be effective at managing people, I don’t want any companies to remain in that very linear thinking of the career ladder that, “Oh, well, I’m next in line.”.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:22] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:24:22] And as soon as my boss moves up, then I’m next to go up on that, because a couple of things, one, that might not be the right person. And then, B, if you only have those types of advancement opportunities and that here I am two or three years in at your firm and I’m thinking, where do I have to go here? Because my boss above me is not going anywhere for at least five more years and I would like to grow in advance, but I can’t do anything until that person goes up or off the ladder.

Cara Silletto: [00:24:51] So, we have to think more like, some of the business folks call it a career laddist, instead of the ladder or a career jungle gym. You know, you have to think in different directions that they can take on special projects or shift departments, you know, especially the younger folks. They are totally willing to try different parts of accounting or different departments in your organization because they’re not yet subject matter experts.

Cara Silletto: [00:25:18] And maybe they thought they wanted to do this type of work, but really, they haven’t been exposed to some other areas. And I’ll tell you, they are going to bounce. They want to grow and learn. So, if you don’t create opportunities for them to bounce internally, then they’re going to bounce externally. They’re gonna go somewhere else that gives them that opportunity. Also, with those managers that are promoted, if you see somebody has the potential to be a manager, we can’t take a sink or swim approach any longer.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:49] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:25:49] The sink or swim is detrimental. You are setting them up for failure. The people who work under them are not going to be happy with it because it’s going to take them a lot longer to be a strong leader than if you actually gave them the tools to be successful. Whether that is management coaching, whether that’s leadership development classes, some of those soft skill classes around communication, conflict resolution, time management, things like that.

Cara Silletto: [00:26:17] It is really critical that when you do promote people into people management roles that they have those tools. But remember, you can promote them on more of a technical track. I love when I see titles like senior technical advisor, because that means that person doesn’t manage people, but they’ve been able to grow in the company and get more money, get more seniority, get a better title, but they’re more subject matter expert, much more technical person.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:49] Right. It used to be the old up and out routine like an accounting firm and even in some finance departments. But now, I had a friend of mine who’s a partner in a firm in Cleveland said that there was one gentleman that he was a technical whiz. And he should not have any contact with clients or he should not manage people. They recognized that it was not in his skill set. So-

Cara Silletto: [00:27:19] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:19] … they created this position for the first time ever, director of something, of technical knowledge, or whatever and he is the technical person and he loves it. He’s still with the firm.

Cara Silletto: [00:27:29] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:30] Loves his job, loves it, because, you know, I think there’s certain things we just can’t teach each other and-

Cara Silletto: [00:27:39] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:39] Except for this one partner in the firm in Tulsa and I know she listens to this podcast, she’ll kill me again. But the first time I met her, I said, “Why did you get into accounting?” She said, “Because I didn’t like people. I just want to go in to my tax returns.” But I said, “But you’re a partner at a firm.” “Oh, yeah. I learned early on that if I want to advance my career, I had to get outside my comfort zone and learn how to deal with people.” And-

Cara Silletto: [00:28:08] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:08] … she does a great job, she does any part of it.

Cara Silletto: [00:28:11] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:11] But I love that story she told me.

Cara Silletto: [00:28:14] Yeah, absolutely. And I’ll tell you, from a retention standpoint, do not assume that just because someone has made partner that they are not a flight risk anymore, because that is changing and people are realizing. So, think about this, the folks who have just made partner in, let’s say, the last five years, give or take, probably in their 40s kind of folks, maybe upper 30s, 40s type age, and I have some friends who are partners at law firms, CPA firms, engineering firms, it’s happening across a lot of the professional services, and what I see happening is they are partner now but yet, you know, they don’t have enough clout to be heard as much.

Cara Silletto: [00:29:02] They’re part of the vote and part of the conversation, but they don’t really have the decision making power. And then, you have these owners who tend to be in their 60s and some of them in their 70s, and they are trying to stay relevant and to stay in charge. And granted, they built these firms, right? So, kudos to them for the success they had for decades. But they built the firms and to some extent may have been control freaks or, you know, they were the boss for a long time. And I don’t blame them for it being difficult to step away. But they are pseudo-retiring or they are saying, “I’m retiring” but then, they still have their hands in everything.

Cara Silletto: [00:29:44] And this new group of leaders, even from, you know, not just the 40s, but up into the 50s and early 60s, the ones that are going to be there another five or 10 years, it is driving them nuts that the owners or original partners won’t get out of their way and let them get new software and let them change some processes or do business development a different way than it’s been done in the past. And so, they’re getting very frustrated.

Cara Silletto: [00:30:10] And on top of that, they also are dealing with the younger millennial new folks who are coming in that are job hopping and career hopping. And they want more mentoring and coaching and professional development. And they have all these expectations. And I need your time and I have these questions and all of that. And the middle folks are going, “I don’t get any hand-holding when I came in here, just figure it out”, which then drives away the young people because they’re not getting what they need.

Cara Silletto: [00:30:40] So, I am seeing more and more of those folks in their upper 30s, 40s, even 50s that are again going back to burnout. They are finally entertaining some of those recruiting calls that are coming in that they’ve always gotten. And so, you’ve got to make sure that you’re recognizing those people and listening to them. You got to recognize and listen to everybody. But it’s not just about the younger flight risk people, it’s also about some of those key people that have been there a long time because other firms are coming after them. And they’re coming after him hard saying, “Oh, you don’t want to work 60-plus hours a week anymore? We’ll take you. You know, we’ll keep your workload a little bit lighter than that.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:26] Yeah. So, hey, I thought about this situation and I think in succession planning in firms now, a lot of it is that, “I don’t have the people there, I’m going to sell my firm.” So, firms are being bought by other firms. And now, you’ve got a clash of cultures.

Cara Silletto: [00:31:44] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:45] And now, we’re talking retention. And now, this creates some type of vortex or whatever. And people do, the original firm A buys firm B and bring them in and, “Oh, this isn’t the way we used to do business, this is not how we do it”. Or another case, a firm here in town had a very young staff, and I say young staff, you know, kind of in their 30s bought another firm and they had a very older staff, like in their 50s. So, there’s no middle there. So, I’m going to say, “What keeps you up at night?” He goes, “My people”. And was explaining this-

Cara Silletto: [00:32:29] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:29] … dichotomy and he goes, “At times, I struggle with I have no middle to go to.” There are two opposite ends. So, are you seeing this out in the workplace as well?

Cara Silletto: [00:32:41] Absolutely. And again, if you are planning a merger or have done that or selling your firm or anything like that, you have to look at the people aspect and the culture aspect, not just the numbers, right? You can’t do the whole valuation on a spreadsheet. It’s got to be beyond that of, is this going to be the right fit coming together and what gaps are going to exist? What kind of support do we need for the crossover there of internal communication and training and development? And what do the workloads look like?

Cara Silletto: [00:33:16] Because one group may be workhorses and that’s what they’re paid to do and that’s been their culture and the norm. And the other one may have way more flexibility and more work-life balance. And then, there’s going to be animosity and what does that look like and that type of thing. So, yes, you have to think about more than just the numbers when you talk about mergers and buying out groups, for sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:42] Yeah. Or even growing your organization. I would be remiss if I do not mention a firm in Maryland, DeLeon & Stang, who I’ve done some work with over the last three years and they’ve got a very unique culture. The partners didn’t really grow up in public accounting, so they didn’t pick up, as they said, those bad habits. Three years ago, they changed, you know, their mission statement. It was focused on clients and our people. They switched it and put the people first. The very next year, they came out and said, “Oh, by the way, we got some new benefits for you. One, during busy season, which this will be airing at the very beginning of busy season, there’s no mandatory weekends.” “Oh, no mandatory weekends.”

Cara Silletto: [00:34:28] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:29] “And by the way, we’re also going to give you unlimited paid time off.” “What?” “And oh, one more thing to give you-“, because one of their head offices is near DC and the traffic in Maryland, that is terrible. Other people lived up in Frederick, Maryland. And they would have to take this hour-and-a-half, two-hour drive-

Cara Silletto: [00:34:50] Oh.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:50] … one way, they opened an office in Frederick so those folks-

Cara Silletto: [00:34:56] Nice.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:56] … up there wouldn’t have to. Now, when I share this story about them and I have it in my book as, well, “You know what”, I asked them, I said, “you really trust your people, don’t you?” Because when you trust your people, you do things like that for them.

Cara Silletto: [00:35:12] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:13] And in order to trust your people, you have to be trustworthy yourself, as in management. So, I think that goes to—I mean, they have turnover. And then, you know, again, this is some succession planning right now, but their people are generally energized and I just helped facilitate the strategic planning. All staff strategic planning, not just the strategic planning of the partners.

Cara Silletto: [00:35:39] Nice.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:39] They had everyone in the firm part of the strategic planning process, which I don’t know-

Cara Silletto: [00:35:46] Fantastic.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:46] … very many firms, but there’s such great energy in that firm, why can’t people replicate that?

Cara Silletto: [00:35:55] Yeah. No, you’re exactly right. There is so much going on there. Going back to a comment you made earlier about, you know, like there’s the older workers and the younger workers or these two separate groups.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:09] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:36:09] And what I see, we call it the trees who are deep-rooted in the organization, they’ve been there a long time and they can weather the storm.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:18] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:36:19] They’re not going anywhere, really, even if you want them to. But they’re not going anywhere. Okay. And then, you’ve got the other side, which we consider the revolving door. Now, at a lot of firms, you’re not talking about 30, 60, 90-day turnover like I am with some of my clients in other industries, but you’re still looking at—I mean, my CPA firm that I use, they just told me, “Oh, no, she’s not here anymore. Oh, he’s not here anymore.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:46] Yeah.

Cara Silletto: [00:36:46] People that I got to know over time that were working on my team for taxes and they went to other places. So, what a lot of folks are doing, again, is coming in for a little bit of time and leaving. And they’re just finding that it’s not the right fit for them or that workload is too much or they won’t give them the flexibility around maybe a life change like becoming a parent, things like that. One of my clients did very similar to what you were talking about, is after I worked with him, they finally decided to give up those mandatory Saturdays during tax season. And he said, “Now, you still have to clock the same amount of billable hours.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:24] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:37:25] It’s like, “We still expect you to deliver major results during that time, but we’re going to give you some flexibility around that. We’re going to let you either work from home on some days or, you know, just work longer days. If you want to work 12-hour days, that’s fine with us if your kid has a Saturday morning ballgame.” But for decades, for decades, they had mandatory Saturdays during that time. And now, it’s becoming a recruiting game of what kind of perks do you have, what kind of flexibility do you offer, things like that.

Cara Silletto: [00:37:58] So, yes, the trust piece is huge and we need to be managing to result not to hours. In fact, we’ve got to get away from that whole thinking of “Well, the first one in and the last one to leave, that’s my hardest worker”, because that mentality made sense back in the day when you had to be at your desk, at the office to work. You know, that was where you had access to your files and your systems and your software and everything. And today, where can we work, Peter? Where can we work?

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:33] Yeah. Well, I-

Cara Silletto: [00:38:33] Anywhere.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:33] Yeah. Right. I was talking to, Brandy, your assistant the other day, she was helping me with some stuff. And thank you again. And she said, “I would call you, but I’m in a really loud coffee shop.”

Cara Silletto: [00:38:50] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:50] Yeah. Which is fine. And I work in my office in the house, but I also work at up in there, I also work at Starbucks, and I work wherever I think my laptop will take me.

Cara Silletto: [00:39:00] Oh, yeah. My staff is all around the country and we have no office. Not even me. I mean, this is my home office here. And so, I do work from coffee shops. I work on airplanes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:11] Yes.

Cara Silletto: [00:39:11] I work anywhere, you know, in an Uber, wherever I have to get work done. And so, I just trust my people. I give them clear expectations of what I need and when I need it. And then, I let them do their job, you know, and address those issues immediately in real time if somebody is not hitting the mark or if they’re going down a path that is not the direction I wanted them to. It can’t be a situation where you’re just doing annual performance reviews, for example, because that is not enough communication, not enough setting expectations, not checking in with people. So long as you have regular communication with your folks and regular conversations about whether they’re on track or not, then you can absolutely let folks work with more flexibility.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:02] I have never met anybody that said, “Oh, my God, I can’t wait to get my performance review today. Whoo.”

Cara Silletto: [00:40:07] Hey.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:07] It’s like, oh, my God, he went to the gallows to get the guillotine.

Cara Silletto: [00:40:11] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:12] I’ve always said that, you know, just like you said, it’s real time. You know, that feedback is real time. We don’t need to have the annual review. Maybe just the, “Here’s your compensation based off of this. Thank you very much. Take the rest of the day off.”

Cara Silletto: [00:40:27] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:27] Yeah. Yeah.

Cara Silletto: [00:40:28] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:29] Yeah. So-

Cara Silletto: [00:40:30] Yes, absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:32] So, as we begin to wind down here, I notice over your right shoulder, there’s a book called Staying Power that has your name on.

Cara Silletto: [00:40:40] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:41] Can you tell me more about that? We talked about it in the earlier podcast, but refresh my memory as well as my audience’s memory.

Cara Silletto: [00:40:50] Sure. So, I’m very excited that Staying Power: Why Your Employees Leave and How to Keep Them Longer, it was just released on Audible recently. So, we have it on Kindle, of course, paperback and audio book now. So, that book, it really explains the new workforce that we are trying to attract and retain. So, it starts with the employment market and what’s going on. The fact that we are in an employee’s market now that everybody’s hiring and your staff have a choice.

Cara Silletto: [00:41:23] So, we start with the big picture of that, talk about those trees versus revolving doors, who’s the flight risk, then it dives into the generational dynamics in the workplace of the evolution of the four generations that we have working right now in our firms. So, we talk about the traditionalists, the baby boomers, the Gen X’ers and the millennials. And really, just how things changed over the last 50 years for our workers and how they see the employer-employee relationship differently.

Cara Silletto: [00:41:53] I happen to be one of the oldest millennials. So, the third chapter really dives into the millennial mindset, understanding loyalty, entitlement, this need or desire for work-life balance, and where did all of that come from? I like to tell my backstory and my childhood examples of why I have a heightened sense of entitlement and why I do not have the traditional sense of loyalty that previous generations had. So, that’s pretty eye-opening for leaders. And of course, the final chapter there dives into the retention strategies. And we call that the MAGNET. To become a magnet employer is those six ways, the acronym, MAGNET, to really create a better place to work and make sure that people are great bosses and that people want to come back tomorrow.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:44] Cool. So, you said the M-word there, millennial. And I apologize for the baby boomers and the negative connotation they have given it, but because I’ve never thought of millennials in that manner. They’re just different. It’s not bad, it’s not wrong. They just operate differently because, hey, baby boomers, you raised them, right? Okay. So, that’s there. But I-right?

Cara Silletto: [00:43:10] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:10] But I saw, Deloitte does an annual millennial survey report.

Cara Silletto: [00:43:15] Yes, they do.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:16] And I believe, if I’m correct, there’s a stat that said, by the year 2025, 75% of the workforce will consist of the millennial generation, globally.

Cara Silletto: [00:43:28] In fact, yeah, 2020 is the year that millennials will overtake the boomers and X-ers combined. So, it’s going to be starting in this year, 2020, the workers under 40 will outnumber the workers over 40. But it’s an interesting dynamic because the workers over 40 will still hold most of the senior leadership positions and the decision making and policy making decisions for those organizations. So, you’re going to see quite a power struggle between the incoming workers and what their expectations are versus the older workers.

Cara Silletto: [00:44:05] And you and your leadership team are going to have to decide what changes are we going to make, where are we going to stand firm, where are we going to offer more flexibility and update some of those policies and expectations, because it’s going to be a game changer. I mean, it already is. We’re already seeing that over the last five years. But going into the next five years, that younger group in their 20s and 30s are really going to demand some changes. Because I’ll tell you, the real difference is everybody wants to be heard. Everybody wants a great boss. Everybody would like more flexibility and a better work-life balance. The difference is the previous generations tolerated what the traditional expectations were. They tolerated. They put up with the long hours.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:58] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:44:58] They put up with a bad boss because of that kind of loyalty for loyalty’s sake, where the new generation has option, has more competence, has more access to things. And so, they’re going to say, “Enough is enough. I’m not working somewhere that is going to treat me that way or that doesn’t let me be heard or that has me on a linear path. I need more options than that.” So, that’s the difference. Everybody would like these things, but the younger folks who come in are going to demand those options or else, they’re going to go somewhere that will give them the options. I’m seeing it every day, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:36] So, the next generation after is Gen Z, I think, they’re referring to. My son-

Cara Silletto: [00:45:43] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:43] … is of that generation. But he’s taken it to a whole new level, he’s the ZZZZZ, the boy can sleep. He’s a sleeper. He’s like his dad once in college. But that generation is now starting to enter the workforce.

Cara Silletto: [00:45:58] Yes. Yes. So, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the millennials end at a birth year of 1996. So, it’s 1981 to 1996, just according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:10] Yeah.

Cara Silletto: [00:46:11] Other groups define it differently. But if you follow that, that would put Gen Z at 22 and under.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:17] Yeah.

Cara Silletto: [00:46:19] So, especially for professional roles such as the CPA firms, they’re mostly still in college. They’ll just be trickling in as associates or interns and things like that. So, that’s why we still focus on the millennial mindset, because that’s the 23 to 39 type of age range. Most of the new hires are still in that bucket, but you need to keep your eyes on Gen Z as well. And I’ll tell you right now, Peter, if you think the millennials are entitled, which we are, but if you think we are entitled, just wait.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:52] Yeah. Yeah.

Cara Silletto: [00:46:53] Because Gen Z is, my favorite term for Gen Z is the on demand generation. They have grown up with one click will get you there.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:02] Right.

Cara Silletto: [00:47:02] They can ask Alexa anything they want and she will immediately have the answer for them. And if they have to click a software button and it turns, that is just unacceptable to this group. You know, my five-year old son, he not only tells me which cartoon series he wants to watch on Netflix, but which episode of that cartoon series he wants to watch. So, he is used to getting what he wants when he wants it. And we need to expect that that’s coming in as the next workforce right on the heels of those millennials.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:41] So, I have an example of this, you know Mark Eaton, NSA member, former player for the Utah Jazz?

Cara Silletto: [00:47:52] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:52] His company’s name is 7ft6. I had a chance to talk to him at the CSP summit at breakfast and we started talking of sports. And I looked and said, “Hey, Mark. What do you think about this load management thing that’s going on in the NBA?” And I thought he was going to fall over in his chair, he goes, “Oh, my God, to the point, I can’t believe that, you know, they’re allowing them to manage their load and their time on the floor”, he goes, “In my day, you had to drag me off of the court.” And I just thought that there’s another example of the difference from then to now.

Cara Silletto: [00:48:29] Absolutely, absolutely. And to some extent, I feel like, you know, the pendulum always swings, right? Back and forth, ebbs and flows. And in a lot of ways, I think in the work world, we have let things get out of hand as far as people’s workload than what we’re putting on our top performers and what those expectations are and such as the sacrifices we’re expecting them to make at home, that work is the number one priority. If that e-mail comes in, you stop what you’re doing at home or at the ballgame and you respond to that e-mail.

Cara Silletto: [00:49:03] You know, we’ve let that go so far and now, we’re starting to see the pendulum swing back. And really, the workforce is the one that’s doing it. They’re saying, “Enough is enough. I cannot give you any more.” So, please keep an eye on your people. Take good care of them. Recognize the crap out of what they’re doing and say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you for what you do every day for our firm and our clients and the people that we serve.” I mean, you just have to show that recognition and listen to them. Be willing to make some changes as the workforce and the expectations are evolving over these next five years.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:46] This has been a wonderful conversation. I love our conversations. And by the way, you can find her book, audio book, Kindle, obviously, on Amazon.

Cara Silletto: [00:49:57] Yes, sir.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:57] How can they find you if somebody wants to reach out and talk to you or hire you for something?

Cara Silletto: [00:50:03] Yes. So, our website is wereduceturnover.com.

Peter Margaritis: [00:50:09] Perfect.

Cara Silletto: [00:50:09] Isn’t that great?

Peter Margaritis: [00:50:12] That is great.

Cara Silletto: [00:50:12] It’s easy to find, wereduceturnover.com. That is all we do, Peter, is focus on employee retention, keeping the people you can’t afford to lose. If you need any help with that or want to get a copy of the book, just give me a shout and follow me on LinkedIn, please. I’d love to connect and stay in touch. Peter, hope to be back on the show again soon.

Peter Margaritis: [00:50:35] Absolutely. Thank you so very much for taking time out of your schedule. And I know our paths will cross sooner than later.

Cara Silletto: [00:50:42] Awesome. Thank you, sir.

Peter Margaritis: [00:50:47] I would like to thank Cara for her time in sharing her extensive workforce knowledge with you, my audience. Thank you for listening. And if you enjoy this podcast, please take a moment and leave a review on iTunes or whatever platform you download your podcast from. Also, please subscribe and share this episode with a friend of yours. Make today your best day.

Announcer: [00:51:17] Like what you just heard? Because it’s c-suiteradio.com. C-Suite Radio, turning the volume up on business.

S2E44. Becoming a Better Leader with Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott is the founder of Roxanne Leadership. Roxanne is a warm, down to earth, authentic person who is dedicated to helping others become the best of themselves. She is passionate about unleashing the leader in others. She’s dedicated to helping people and organizations create cultures, lives, and legacies of genuine and authentic leadership and success.

She is a highly respected and sought after speaker, presenter, and published author. A certified master, executive coach, and facilitator in both the Leadership Challenge and i3 Transformational Leadership. She is also an award-winning business and marketing strategist. With over 30 years of national and international corporate experience, Roxanne works with clients ranging from privately held businesses to corporations in manufacturing, health care, insurance, accounting, financial services, real estate, consumer products, and construction to industries as well as many others.

What is leadership today? How do we know it when we see it? It’s different for everybody, but one unmistakable criteria is that a leader can’t be a leader unless they have followers.

The challenges of leadership

Answering the question if what leadership is within your own culture is the first challenge you are going to face. Leadership challenges start with the leader and radiate out to the immediate circle of influence and beyond. To your organization, your family, your church, and then into the community and the world. The challenges of leadership are the challenges we face in all of these different spaces.

One of the biggest challenges is connecting the generations to each other. Leadership is not just about where you are in your role right now, but the succession planning of the organization. It’s pulling people together to share the vision of the organization. The way 25 years old going into their first career out of college is going to look at the world differently than a 55-year old in the later phases of their career.

This also crosses over into company acquisitions and mergers. The dynamics of this are similar to the generational communication. It’s all about understanding the other person, the other organization, the culture. Many groups will clash during this process, but once they are able to find some common ground, they will get excited about the possibilities.

Improv can play an important part in this process, too. Instead of approaching meetings and discussions with a “no, but,” mentality, if you shift it to a “yes, and,” you get much more engagement and collaboration. You get people building off of other’s ideas instead of shutting them down. When this happens, you see an immediate shift in body language, and conversations begin to open up.

Becoming a better leader

There are three things that you can do that will change anything that you are working on, both the way you approach it and the outcome. These are the 3 “I’s” of leadership:

  • Inspiration: Look deep inside and know what inspires you. If you’re thinking about taking a job, going to college, starting a business, buying a house. What does it look like in its ideal form?
  • Ignite: Once you get the vision painted, you need to start putting a plan in place.
  • Make the impact: Take action on your plan. This is the most important step because no change will occur without action.

When you take the time to align these three steps to your values, and to what you want and what you don’t, you’re going to find more success than you ever have before.

In addition to those steps for change are the 5 behaviors essential to a good leader. These are:

  • Walk your talk. Model the way.
  • Inspire shared visions. Know what your vision is, the visions of others, and find the intersection.
  • Challenge processes. Challenge the ways you’ve always done things.
  • Enable people to act. See their strengths and passions, and give them the tools to grow.
  • Encourage the heart. Be genuine, but make sure to acknowledge and encourage what you see from people.

Now that you know the steps to become a great leader, you need to take the time to work on them. Focus on one a week and cycle through them, or try to tackle all of them at once. But make sure you are doing the work to become a great leader. Because leadership is a skill, and practice is the way to hone any skill.

Resources:

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:00:00] Probably, the most important thing in the entire universe in our entire existence as human beings is to encourage the heart.

Intro: [00:00:18] Welcome to Change Your Mindset podcast, formerly known as Improv is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation. Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers. All the while, growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:03] Leadership. What is it? You can recognize it when you see it, both good and bad. Are leaders born or can this be a learned skill? How does one learn how to become a leader? Does one become a leader by reading leadership books and attending leadership seminars and workshops? How do you get people to follow you and follow your vision? How do you motivate and inspire others? How do you adapt your leadership style to current times? Should leaders ever say that they’ve made a mistake?
Well, those questions and many more will be answered by my guest, Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott, who’s the founder of Roxanne Leadership powered by Pro Laureate. Roxanne is a warm, down to earth, authentic, sometimes, quite funny, and deeply dedicated to helping others become the best of themselves. She is passionate about unleashing the leader in others. She’s dedicated to helping people and organizations create cultures, lives, and legacies of genuine and authentic leadership and success.
And she’s committed to sharing every bit of her depth and breadth of experience, excellence, knowledge, and caring to everyone she meets. She’s a highly respected and sought-after speaker, presenter and published author. A certified master, executive coach, and facilitator in both the Leadership Challenge and i3 Transformational Leadership. Founder, facilitator, and coach of, by invitation only, Personal and Professional Leadership and Legacy Development Retreat, Grace and Grit, The Elite Retreat.
And an award-winning business and marketing strategist. With over 30 years of national and international corporate experience, Roxanne works with clients ranging from privately held businesses to corporations in manufacturing, health care, insurance, accounting, financial services, real estate, consumer products, and construction to industries as well as many others. Now, I’m at a front seat on watching Roxanne’s leadership style because she’s the president elect of the National Speakers Association, Ohio chapter. And I’m the immediate past president and current treasurer.
She’s also have been on the board of many other nonprofits during her career. She loves what she does and you can feel her passion throughout the entire interview. As you know by now, Change Your Mindset is part of the C-Suite Radio family of podcasts. It’s an honor and privilege to be amongst some of the more prevalent business podcasts, such as The Hero Factor with Jeffrey Hayzlett, Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken, and Keep Leading with my friend, Eddie Turner. You can find Change Your Mindset and many other outstanding business podcasts on C-Suite Radio by going to www.c-suiteradio.com.

Announcer: [00:04:07] This podcast is part of the C-Suite Radio network: turning the volume up on business.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:14] And now, a word from our sponsor.

Sponsor: [00:04:16] This episode is sponsored by Peter A. Margaritis, LLC, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. Are you looking for a high content and engaging speaker for your next conference? Do you want to deliver a story to stakeholders that will transform data dumping to engaging business conversations? Do you want to feel that the value a speaker provides your audience far exceeds the dollar value on their invoice? Then, book Peter for your next conference, management retreat, or workshop. Contact Peter at peter@petermargaritis.com and visit his website at www.petermargaritis.com. By the way, one of his Fortune 50 clients actually made the comment about the value he brings to your audience.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:02] Now, let’s get to the interview with Roxanne. Hey, welcome back, everybody. My guest today is, I must say, one of the leading authorities in leadership. She won’t give herself that credit, but when you hear her story, you hear what she has done and accomplished. And when she talks about her clients, they’re not just little clients, they’re multi-million-dollar companies that she’s helping to coach and do many things around the leadership space. So, without further ado, first and foremost, my guest today is Ms. Roxanne Kaufman-Elliot. And thank you so very much, Roxanne, for taking time out of your busy schedule to spend some time with me talking about leadership.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:05:53] Peter, thank you so much. As always, it’s a delight to chat with you and especially, on your podcast. So, thank you very much for inviting me.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:00] Oh, it’s been two years since I’ve had you on the podcast, correct?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:06:06] Has it really been that long? I guess so. Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:09] I’d have to take a look at it, but it has been a while. And just as in full transparency, I get to witness her leadership looks like a monthly basis because she’s the president elect of the Ohio chapter of the National Speakers Association. So, she’s getting ready to roll into our presidency about mid-2020. And man, she’s good. That’s all I can say. Some of the stuff that you do, well, gosh, that’s great. She’s the real deal.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:06:42] Oh, stop. You’re too kind. I appreciate it. Thank you. You know what, I had good mentors for me and through this process and still do, and you’re one of them. And I appreciate that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:52] Well, thank you very much for the kind words. That’s another $20, I guess, I owe you for this and other stuff, but-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:06:58] Yeah. Yeah. It is, yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:58] Exactly. So, leadership, what is it? How do we recognize it? A leadership coach in this genre, I don’t like the word space, because it’s the final frontier, but in this genre-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:07:12] Okay.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:14] … of leadership, I could imagine you’ve almost seen about everything, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:07:21] I’d say. Yeah, I probably have. I’ll be surprised if there’s anything out there I haven’t.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:27] So, what are some of the challenges that leaders are having today in the year of 2019 as we get ready to transition into a vision, clear vision of 2020?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:07:39] I think you already said it. I think it is the eternal and infinite question that a lot of people don’t even know to ask. They assume that they have the answer. And yet, when you ask it, it opens up a whole new way of thinking. And that question is what you’ve just said, it is, what is leadership? What is it really? How do we know it? How do we know it when we see it? How do we know it when we hear it, when we feel it? It’s different for everybody, I think. But there are some fundamental things that we can always go back to that really speaks to genuine, authentic leadership. And those people that we would willingly follow. As a leader can’t be a leader unless they have followers. That’s one criteria for sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:22] Yeah. Okay.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:08:25] So, in my experience, what are some of the challenges? Answering that question, first of all, defining what it is within your own culture, within your own life, and within your teams. So, I usually talk about leadership challenges start with you and then, they radiate out to the people in your most immediate circle, your partners, your teams, both personally and professionally. And from there, it goes to your organization, your family, your church, whatever it is, whatever you’re relating to in terms of leadership.

And then, into the community. And then, into the world. And we all know that we have challenges in all of those places and including today, right? So, how do we deal with those? And that’s what I have studied and been a student of for many, many, many years and continue to be not only challenged, but elated and delighted by the way people embrace finding their own path into leadership.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:29] One does not become a leader by just taking a seminar, correct?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:09:33] No, you really don’t. It is a learned skill. It can be a learned skill. We’re not just born leaders.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:38] Right. Right. Some are born leaders, but for the most part, it is a learned skill. And so, I know you’re familiar with Simon Sinek. And I was watching an interview that he was conducting. And he said something to the effect, "Just because you take a seminar in leadership doesn’t make you a leader, you have to work on this every single day."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:10:01] Day. That’s right. And it starts with self-awareness. This is what I find most of all is that people, because they have a title, and this is not to be critical at all, this is the way our brains work, the way we’re brought up to think, is they’re going to have a title of leadership, you are automatically a leader. And so, you go take a seminar and you’re even more of a leader. You go to a two-day workshop and you’re more of a leader.

But what we miss sometimes is the awareness. Again, it comes back to what is it really to us authentically and genuinely. And how do we develop that? So, a seminar will give you great tools. It will give you new skills and knowledge. It will help you to establish some goals. That is if you can remember any of it when you get back to your office, people start ringing and people start stopping by and jumping in with hair on fire situations, right? So, it’s what we take away from it. For sure, any of those things can do that.

But like you said, this is a life long journey. It’s really beginning to discover and understand, "Oh, that’s leadership to me." Integrity. Walking the talk. Modeling the way. Being a visionary. Really understanding first and foremost who I am first deeply in the way that I make choices, in the way that I conduct myself, my behavior, in the way that I move through my life and in the world. And then, you make choices about that and you start building your own self-leadership around those things on a consistent basis going forward.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:31] Right. It’s that consistency and it’s hard to maintain that consistency. It’s hard to do that every single day with everything coming at us in many different directions. Well, I’ll go back to another quote that is stuck with me for, now, about two or three years, what I heard from Simon Sinek, "Leadership has nothing to do with your title."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:11:52] Nothing.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:53] "True leadership is your ability to have a positive impact on another person."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:12:00] That’s right. Positive influence or positive impact.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:04] But a lot of times, leaders, if we think about the disk model, they come out of that highest sort of low express or that dominant quadrant, where they love challenges, they love making decisions, but they tend to be bullies, they tend to be this, "I’m telling you what to do and I’m getting by." And it’s that old ’70s, ’80s, even ’90s old leadership style that’s outdated.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:12:27] Well, it’s carrot and stick, right? We’re motivated really by three different things. And what you’re talking about is the old way of thinking. It’s that leadership is title, I am this C title or I am this VP title or president title or whatever it may be. So, it’s what I say goes. And I’m telling you what to do. And if you do what I tell you to do, well, here’s your carrot. You’ll be rewarded for that. If you don’t do what I tell you to do, here’s the stick and it becomes punitive.

So, if something is taken away or something is not given that would have been given otherwise. And the one other motivator, it has to do with developing your own very genuine style of leadership. And that is internal motivation, internal understanding, and that starts with vision. It starts with who you are. Do I want to do this or do I have to do this? Really understanding that I’m in this job because I love it, I’m in this job because I need to be here.

So, there are subtle differences to that. And I think when we start thinking about it, we make different decisions, we have different choices in our lives. It is more in line with who we really are. So yeah, I have a whole keynote built around a fellow by the name of Joe that had no title, had no position, didn’t finish high school, never had a real job, didn’t have a credit card or a bank account or a Social Security number. He lived in a small town all of his life, small town of about 20,000 people.

And every single one of those 20,000 people knew him and they would have followed him into the abyss. They would have thrown themselves in front of a bus for him. He was one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever known. And he didn’t have any of the trappings of leadership. And that had so much to do with him knowing himself, his own values, the vision of his life, planning that life the way he wanted it to be and then, taking action to make it happen. And his behavior followed that every day.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:35] And it sounds like, Joe, I think how you-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:14:38] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:38] … referred to him as Joe, that Joe, that’s funny his name has three letters in it and he didn’t have three letters of the ego-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:14:46] Ah, that’s great.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:48] … that get in the leadership play, because the ego becomes ego leadership versus servant leadership.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:14:54] Perfectly said. That’s exactly right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:57] Yeah. So, with your clients, I mean, I can imagine leadership today can be a bigger challenge than maybe it was back in the ’80s and ’90s. We get different dynamics coming as we get different technologies, we’re dealing with different mindsets that are out there. So, what are you seeing from your clients in some of these challenges that they’ve experienced? And is there a main thread that gone, "Okay. I’m hearing this three or four times from my clients. This is becoming a bigger issue than maybe it was five, six years ago"?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:15:35] I think there are a few of those threads. Absolutely. One of the biggest ones is generational, is connecting the generations to each other. I call it generational intelligence. Leadership is not just about where you are in your role right now, but it’s the succession planning of the organization. It’s pulling people together to share the vision of the organization. And that’s very different from somebody who is 25 years old going into their first career move out of college or shortly thereafter than it is to a 55-year old in that phase of their career.
They’re looking at things very differently. They’re looking at the business very differently. We also have a whole lot of influx of folks coming into businesses that are changing careers or changing jobs every couple of years. In years past, that hasn’t been the case. We’ve had people who became very much integrated over the long term in organizations and they developed a culture that was unspoken and yet known. And this now becomes a really big challenge in organizations, because you have so many different people coming and going of all these different generations all of the time with different needs, different wants, different ideas of what success is, different ideas of what leadership is and is not.
So, it boils down to opening up lines of communication, really. And that’s on all generations, all five generations in the workforce. If we could all just open our minds a little bit more to have a conversation and ask more questions and learn from each other, I think that would be a great place to start. I’ve seen that to be a great place to start. And then, when you get specific structures and formats in place that can support that through leadership programs, then you start making real progress.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:23] Yeah, the whole generational struggle. I don’t like the N word. I don’t like how people use the N word.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:17:32] I don’t use it. Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:32] I think it’s a terrible word, because it’s very demeaning.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:17:39] It is.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:40] And I keep going, "Just because that group operates differently doesn’t make it wrong."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:17:46] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:47] We can’t go backwards.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:17:50] Exactly.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:50] We have to move forward and we have to have more tolerance and more self-awareness and more gratitude and be more open to other ways and we can learn from them and they can learn from us.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:18:05] Well, that then also crosses over into companies acquiring other companies and merging. I’ve worked with a lot of this over the years in middle market, in large companies, and even some of the smaller companies that I’ve worked with. The dynamics are pretty much the same. There’s not a lot of difference in terms of human dynamics. The scope of it changes with the size of the organization and if it’s global or national.
But again, it’s, first of all, understanding the other person, the other organization, the culture. What is this person going through? I’ve dealt with sales groups and organizations that have had clashes because of mergers and acquisitions. But once they begin to understand where each side is coming from and they find common ground, it’s like the fog lifts and everybody’s eyes light up. And then, they start having great conversations about possibilities rather than, "Oh, we used to do it that way."

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:06] Right.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:19:06] Now, as well, "What if we did it this way", right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:10] What if. What if we did it this way? So, are more leaders embracing that, "Well, maybe there’s another way."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:19:19] You know, it’s funny, and I’ve learned this actually from you, in your work in improv, that yes, there are two things that I put in front of people a lot more now than I used to. And it really resonates with them. I just love it when I see them light up with it. But they’ll say, "Yeah, I hear what you’re saying, Roxanne, but" or "No, we can’t do it. We did it that way, you know, 10 years ago and it didn’t work. Yeah. We’re not going to do it that way.".
So, what I introduced are a couple of things. First is, "Well, what if you painted a picture? Just take the knows and the experiences that didn’t work and let’s set those aside for a moment and instead, let’s paint a big picture. And I mean, really paint a picture. We get our markers and all this stuff, we draw on paper, on the walls, and draw a picture of what the ideal solution to this problem would be, what the ideal configuration of your team would look like, what the ideal outcome of this succession plan would be in 15 years. Draw it. Tell me a story. What is that? Let your mind go. All things are possible. Nothing is in your way.".
And they create a what if scenario. So, we step back and look at that and say, "Okay. So, this is all pie in the sky, right?" "Yeah. Right, Rox. Right." "And what if it wasn’t? What if you could actually do that? What would it take? Who would it take? What do you need to do?" And so, it begins a great conversation. The other thing is when I get this "no, but", "no, but", "no, but" all the time, I’ll say, "What if-", I combined the two, "… you just did one little thing." I say, "What if we said, instead, ‘yes, and’, and then, we have a conversation?".
And they kind of look at me and they turn their head a little bit. And then, I pause and I’ll say, "Okay. What do you guys think of when you hear the word improvisation or improv or Second City or telling jokes or funny stuff?" So then, we go in and I won’t go into it. You know, you’re the teacher, Peter, but you know it better than I do, but it’s not about any of that. It’s about being very present in a moment, in the moment that you are in right now and making that the best moment that it can be.
So, it’s right now, right here. Where are you? What are you doing? And flipping the switch and turning your mind from, "no, but" to, "Yes, I hear you. Yes, I need to understand more. And what would that be?" So, you start having those conversations. I’ve done this now probably 10 times in the past eight months. And every time I have that conversation, whether it’s with the top executives of a firm or independent contributors that have just joined the firm, they all do the same thing. They sit back, their body language changes, their arms go back, their body positions open, their brains open, and they start having a conversation, which, by the way, can get very robust at times and-

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:18] Right. Yeah.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:22:19] … challenging, but that’s so cool, because that’s when the ideas start raking.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:26] Yes. And that is really cool when that does happen. And thank you for carrying the torch and getting the good word out there about the improv world and how we can make a big difference. And it’s funny, when I talk to other leaders in their organizations and I talk about the "yes, and" approach, it’s kind of the same thing, then the light bulb goes on and go, "Oh, now, I get it."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:22:51] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:51] And it’s fun to watch them gravitate and grab on to the concepts. But once again, it takes daily work at it. And it’s so easy to fall off that wagon.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:23:04] That’s right. That’s why when we’re talking about leadership, and let’s just go to a business point of view, when we’re talking about incorporations and the work that those of us who are in this development place, with these organizations. That’s why I don’t do two-day seminars, quite frankly. Not that they’re not important, not that they don’t have an impact, a lot of them do. And they serve a great purpose. And I just want to give that all the respect that it deserves. Absolutely.
But the really long term, over the course, and especially, if you are building cultures of leadership, which is one of my areas of focus and expertise, is really digging into the heart of an organization and the heart of the people. And aligning them to what it means to have a culture of leadership, how that will improve the bottom line, how that will help them to meet their goals and objectives.
And when I’m in a meeting, I know that it’s working because they do it over time. And it sits constant, constantly reminding them when we have people budding up and become accountability partners. I do a ton of coaching after I do these programs and even while I’m doing them to reinforce what we’re learning. And then, when I’m in a meeting with the executive team of a corporation and they’re discussing something and someone says, "No, we’ve done that before.".
And I hear the CEO say, "Wait a minute. Wrong answer. Yes, but", that this kind of lights up entire room. And I go, "Whoa, man, this stuff really works." So, that’s the cool thing when you get to hear that and see that happening before your eyes. And it changes the ship’s turn. These big ships, little speedboats or medium-size, whatever they are, they turn, they start to turn in a better direction. It’s the coolest thing in the world to see that. And you can tell I don’t like what I do, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:02] No. Yeah. Could you throw a little passion in there, please? I mean, you’re starting to sound like Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, "Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?"

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:25:11] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:12] Yeah. So, as you say, I mean, you get into the culture of the organization. You’re digging deep. And you’re trying to find what is all of this about within the organization. So, my question, as you’re doing this, what’s the difference between a leadership coach and a therapist?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:25:34] I wish I knew. I think it’s the letters behind your name quite frankly, it’s not what we’re doing.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:45] So, if you’re looking at a CEO of an organization, they may not have started the business, but it’s their business.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:25:51] Right. Oh, absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:53] And especially those who have started the business, there’s a lot of passion around that. And I can imagine at times, there’s an opaque line between what’s leadership and business and "Oh, could you help me with this problem I’m having?" And it becomes a very personal issue, which now, is like, "Oh, wait. Well, hold on. We’ve just crossed that line a bit."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:26:16] Crossed the line. Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:17] How do I get you back on that side of that and take that to somebody with the letters behind—I have letters, you have those behind your name, but business-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:26:27] Not those letters.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:27] Yeah, not those letters.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:26:28] Not those letters. And this happens more frequently than you can imagine. Well, maybe that’s an incorrect statement, because anytime you’re dealing with—well, I’ll use this analogy, it’s probably not a very good one, but when you’re working with somebody’s baby, when you’re working with the owner of a company or someone who’s highly vested in a company, it’s a very emotional attachment, as it should be.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:51] Yeah.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:26:52] That’s why they’re successful because they’re passionate about it. And a lot of times, it does cross the line where it goes into—and I have those of us who do this, we’re pretty well-trained about knowing the signs of something like that when it’s starting to happen. And you have such empathy, you want to talk to them. So, I always call it as soon as I see it and I try to be—I don’t try to be, I am very gentle, but very clear.
I have my coach hat on. And I say it, I don’t have those letters behind my name. I’m an empathetic person and I’m happy to listen to you. I don’t have any answers for you. And even as a coach, Peter, even as a facilitator and a moderator in all of the work that I do, everything is focused on helping you to figure out what you already know. I don’t know anything. I don’t have any answers for you. And I tell that to my clients, "What I have is a whole lot of experience and those letters behind my name that give me the tools to bring to you so that we can facilitate you getting out of your own way and to find out what it is you already know, you just don’t really know it yet."
It sounds kind of weird, but that truly is what we do as coaches and as facilitators and moderators. And at least in the areas where I work, is I will never tell you what to do. I will ask you a ton of questions and they won’t be easy and you won’t like me for some of those questions, because they can get very probing. But it’s important that we all do that for ourselves within our own internal conversations. And then, having somebody on the outside that can do that well can be game changing. Makes you think about things in ways you haven’t before.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:44] Oh, I can imagine that. And having these conversations and you uncover some really raw nerves, I’m sitting there as you’re describing this kind, I imagine you’ve been told to leave a couple of times in the places you’ve asked the hard-court question and you’re uncovering these raw nerves, but once you uncover it, they have to address it.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:29:13] That’s right. And although you’d think that I would have been asked to leave, I haven’t yet. But I’m pretty darn close. No, I’m pretty darn close.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:21] So I just-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:29:23] What does happen is they’ll bite my head off or come back at me, and why wouldn’t they, right? You just, like you said, touched a nerve. It doesn’t happen very often. These are not typical conversations, don’t misunderstand. It’s usually at business levels and high levels. But even at that, there are some sensitive areas. And if that happens, I just let them bring it on. And then, we usually end up laughing. We always end up laughing about it because I always wind kind of around to them and say, "You are really good at just taking the swing, aren’t you? But thing is I’m resilient. You can’t take me down." So, you just have a certain mindset for the, "This is not about me." None of it is ever about me when I’m working with my clients.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:11] So, as you say that, I’m going, okay, your emotional intelligence level is extremely high because you’re very self-aware. You’re very socially aware. You see the anger. You see the raw nerve. And you see them coming at you with that anger, but you know that it’s not really at you.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:30:28] Yeah, I know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:29] You just happen to be there.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:30:32] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:32] Right. And that’s a talent that a lot of people don’t have because we’ve become extremely defensive when we’re being attacked.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:30:41] Or when it feels like we’re being attacked.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:43] Well, yeah. When it feels like we’re being attacked.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:30:46] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:46] And not leaning into that emotion-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:30:50] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:50] … and taking that on because it’ll just all go haywire. So, you have a lot of self-awareness and self-control. And what’s your emotions to maintain that very start? I’m assuming very business-like and just let them vent. And that’s fine. And I hope that they realize what’s going on because the tide will turn-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:31:15] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:15] … and somebody will be venting at them, but they’ll get very defensive and say, "Well, wait, Rox didn’t get defensive." It’s not about the nail. It’s not about the nail.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:31:29] It’s not. You’re absolutely right. I love that. I love that. No. And they do. They do pick up on it. And they do learn from it. And I will tell you, though, and thank you for saying that, it is something that I thought everybody did when I was a kid growing up. And throughout my career, I thought everybody thought that way or did that. I don’t always do it in my personal life, but that’s a little different. But it is for all of us. I’m not that good. Geez.
But professionally, yeah, I thought everybody thought that way until I left my nonprofit career years ago and went into corporate. And that was way, way different. And I learned it very differently. And here’s what the majority of folks do, it’s a small percentage, those that react that way. It’s powerful when they do, so it seems like it’s bigger than it is. But the majority of folks, because you have established trust, because you have established this fiduciary responsibility that everything that it says here stays here.
I always tell everybody I have this gigantic vault in my head, where all these conversations go into their own places and they never come out unless you tell me you want them to, and we can pull them out. Otherwise, they stay there. But what I find is that most of the folks that I work with, and this is true in the large groups, the medium groups, and the small groups that I work with, as well as the one-on-one coaching that I do, is that you see them, again, physically change.
They sit back in their chair, their chins go up. These are all body languages that are saying, "Oh, I’m moving to a different place and becoming more open to what she’s saying." And then, they start questioning it. And that’s a very cool thing when you see that happen, because they’re saying, "Okay. Well, how do I think about this differently?" And oftentimes, there are those robust conversations and a lot of push back.
But at the end of the day, those are highly productive conversations. And I think more teams and groups need to be having those, "Put it on the table, get the elephants in the room." That’s another leadership challenge, is people being willing to do that and put them out there with clarity to really call it out. Not people, the issues. We’re not calling out people, we’re calling out issues. Most people problems directly go back to process and structure and strategy or lack thereof. And I used, actually, a five-pointed star to talk about this when I’m talking at a high level.
Say, there are five things that every successful organization does well. The first is strategy, your vision, values, and purpose. Why are you here? Go back to Simon Sinek. What’s your why? Then, what’s your structure? How have you structured your organization to fulfill that vision, those values, and your purpose? What’s that structure? What then are the processes that have to flow through that structure to continue to build upon and deepen the success of the vision, the values, and your purpose? Then, over here in the other side of the star, all those three points are great, but if they stand alone, you have nothing because you don’t have the humans.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:48] The humans.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:34:49] You need humans.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:50] Yeah.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:34:51] You need humans in there to do this. So, then, you have the people point of the star. And this is where you go into what I call i3 Leadership, which I can go on about in another podcast. But that’s to inspire, ignite, and impact. Those three things will get you through any crisis or anything in your whole life. And then, you have to have systems in place that directly connect people that support them and encourage their hearts and give them the tools that they need to become the best of who they are.
Whether that be leadership development work, whether that be technical, training that they need in their particular area of expertise, whatever it may be, and reward systems. How are you rewarding these people for the work that they’re doing in a way that’s meaningful? That it’s not just a carrot. That it’s something that aligns to their purpose and their vision, which aligns to your organizational vision and purpose. Imagine the harmony in all of that when everybody’s pulling the rope in the same direction. So, long answer to a short question, Pete.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:50] Oh, no.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:35:51] That brings me around to why do what I do.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:53] No, that-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:35:55] I just send out stars to people and say, "Here, fulfill this and you’ll be happy."

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:59] Okay. I love the star analogy. And try this next time when you’re working with the CEO or whomever, ask them a very simple question, what business are they in?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:36:13] Oh, yeah. That’s the important question.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:15] Or, where in the insurance business or in the accounting business or in the consulting business? And I tell audiences, all of those are byproducts of the business that you’re in.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:36:25] Exactly right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:27] And there’s been a few times I think I’ve almost come to fisticuffs with some of the audience members because I kept pushing them and pushing them and literally trying to get them a little frustrated with. And I go, "You’re in business here and you’re in the people business."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:36:37] That’s right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:38] "First and foremost, without people, you have no business."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:36:41] Exactly right. It’s good to tell that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:44] And that’s what I told. And talk about a change in mindset. An attendee shared a story about when he was in public accounting and his first day on the job at a big a public accounting firm back in the, I think it was like at the ’90s, which is about the time I started as well, he said that the managing partner came in and said, "Ah, new staff. We look at new staff like toothpaste. We squeeze everything out of you. And let me put the top back on and then, we throw you away."

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:37:21] He actually said that?

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:22] Yeah. And he swears by that’s what was said. And I believe it because my example that I have, it’s similar in nature, but not to that extreme. But I believe it, because we don’t look at people as our business.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:37:44] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:44] We look at the, what business are making money? That’s a byproduct.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:37:50] That’s right. The money is a byproduct.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:51] Yeah. Go ahead. After you.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:37:54] Thank you. Whenever I start with a new group or even sometimes when I’m speaking, doing a presentation or keynote, I will ask a question. I would say, "I want you to-", and I usually have tools for them to do this with, but, "… pause for a moment. And I would like you to think about and write down what you do. I don’t want to know what your title is. I don’t want to know what your product is. I want to know what you do." And it’s the same question, "What business are you in?" Every single one of us, no matter what business we are in, we are in the relationship business.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:31] Right.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:38:31] We are in the people business. Without relationships and without focusing on how we develop those relationships, that’s the focus of everything that we should be doing. Everything else is ancillary to that. The what and the how, as Simon says, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:46] Right.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:38:47] It’s ancillary to that. It’s building a relationship first.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:51] And there’s a fellow NSA member, Bob Pacanovsky. I don’t know if you’ve met Bob or not.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:38:56] I have not.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:56] He has the black-tie experience and I was interviewing him on the podcast. He was, "You’re right. We’re in the people business, but let’s take that another level, we’re in the people-size customer service business." Do we go back to restaurants that we get poor customer service? Do we go back to places where we get poor customer service?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:39:16] Of course not.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:16] No, but we’re expecting that we’re giving poor customer service to our own internal customer and we wonder why they’re leaving.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:39:25] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:26] Going back to the generational issues. Well, why are they leaving? Well, because your organization doesn’t meet their needs.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:39:33] And first, the organization has to understand what those needs are.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:37] Right.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:39:37] The needs of 20 and 30-year olds are very different than 40 and 50-year olds, or 60 and 70-year olds. It’s all different for every single group. My two youngest children are still in their 20s. All they want to do is make a difference. They want to hone their skills in ways of intense purpose for themselves to make a difference and make an impact on the world. That can mean anything. That can mean nuclear physicist or a United Nations position or a humble nonprofit somewhere in some far-off town of 20 people, who knows?

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:20] Right.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:40:20] It’s what’s important to them. So, it does go back to the generation, you need to understand what they need and want.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:27] Right. But can you predict the future?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:40:34] Well, I do have a crystal ball, but it doesn’t work that way.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:37] Well, actually, it does.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:40:38] No.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:39] Actually, you can predict the future. And there’s some hard trends, as leaders, we can predict. One of those is technology.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:40:48] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:49] Your next phone is not going to be a dumber phone than the one that you have now.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:40:52] No, you’re right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:55] And we see technology evolve artificial intelligence, block chain, these robotic process automation, all the stuff that’s out there. So, we can somewhat see it and predict it. Demographics, well, let’s see. We got a bunch of baby boomers out there getting old, so they’re going to start retiring.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:41:11] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:12] The Gen X, that was a smaller demographic that’s out there. And then, we got the Ys or what they call the millennials, and I read somewhere by the year 2025, 75% of the global workforce will consist of millennials.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:41:33] Really?

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:34] Yes.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:41:35] What a statistic. That’s in five years?

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:37] Yes, if not sooner. Because that is such a big population. And especially-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:41:43] Sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:44] … in proportion to the baby boomers who are the-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:41:48] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:48] Yeah. There’s a big hole at the bottom of that bucket, they’re draining out. And we’ve got this big, big opening, but we haven’t changed the bucket to really attract them to come into our organizations.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:42:00] I absolutely love that. Thank you for sharing that because I have a lot of data that I use on generations, but I did not have that number.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:07] And I’m trying to remember where I got it from. It may have been from the Deloitte Millennial 2019 study or I’ll find the resource.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:42:18] That would be great. Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:19] Yeah, because you know that 75% of all statistics are made up, right?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:42:23] Yeah. I thought it was 77.2%.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:26] Yeah. That-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:42:27] Yeah, let’s be exact, shall we? Let’s be precise.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:30] Come on. I’m an accountant, I can’t do that. I’m an accidental accountant, I can’t do that.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:42:34] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:35] So, as we begin to wrap up, what advice can you give our audience in the terms of becoming a better leader?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:42:45] Well, I could do this in a couple of different ways. Let me see. But we’re wrapping up, so I won’t, I will do this a different way.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:53] Well, I mean, you can just tell both ways.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:42:56] Okay. From a very high level, I mentioned there are three things that you can do that will change anything that you are working on, decisions that you’re making in your life. It will change the way you do that and change the outcome, the more positive outcome. Three things only. And each of them begin with the letter, I. First of all, look deep inside and know what inspires you. If you’re thinking about taking a job, going to college, changing jobs, starting a business, buying a house, planning a party, it doesn’t matter what it is. It can be the biggest thing or the littlest thing, principles still apply. What does it look like in its ideal form?

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:45] Yeah.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:43:45] What I mentioned earlier, it’s not what if, what does it look like? Then, once you get that painted and that just makes you smile, and that makes you, "Yes, that’s what I want. Yes. That’s where I want to be with this", then put a plan in place. And this goes back to just very, very basic strategic thinking and planning that every business does or should do. And that is, you do it for your life, too.
You say, "What is my vision? What do I want my life to be like? What do I need to do to make that happen? Where do I need to move that needle in the next three to six months?" And then, you change that every three to six months. And then, within that three to six months, what are the three most important things I need to do to get to a result, get you an accomplishment, gets you there. And then, you write down the action steps. You take under each one.
And here’s the most important part, so what you’ve done is you’ve given yourself the inspiration, you’ve ignited that with planning, you’ve broken it down into smaller chunks, so you can put it in your planner. And you can wake up tomorrow and do the third I, which is to make the impact, which is to do something. Take some action. Inspire is your vision. Ignite is your plan. Impact is your action.
You align that all to your values, and to what you want and what you don’t, and you’re going to find more success than you have. Specifically, in the second tier I would share with you, there are five behaviors that if you think about these very intentionally and very purposefully and you write them down and you work on these every single day or work on them one-a-week for five weeks and then, rinse, wash, repeat, it will be, first of all, you walk your talk, model the way.
The second one is to know what your vision is. Find out what other people’s visions are and then, inspire the intersecting point. Inspire shared visions. When you can share pieces of your visions with each other, you form deep relationships, you form trust. Third, challenge processes. Challenge what you’ve always done. Is it still worth doing? Do the reasons that you are doing it this way still exist or were they started? Was this process started 20 years ago in a very different time, in a very different economy, in a very different—challenge processes.
Fourth, enable people to act. Enable in a good way, not in a psychologically negative way. In a good way, see people’s strengths. Talk to them about that. What do they love? If you can find a person’s passion, you’re going to find their strengths. And then, give them the tools, the knowledge to hone that skill, to grow within that area of their lives to become the very best of who they can be doing what they love and are most passionate about. And then, the fifth thing, which to me is probably the most important thing in the entire universe, in our entire existence as human beings, is to encourage the heart. Life’s journey is life’s journey. It’s got a lot of ups and a lot of downs.
And it’s important for us to be connected and in tune with others. So that when they have even the tiniest little accomplishment that may seem meaningless to everybody else around them, one person, that would be you, comes up to them and just gives them a little pat on the shoulder or look in the eye or whatever it is that’s you and you just say, "Wow. You do have to rock that out of the world this time." Encourage the heart. This is not woo-woo. This is not making up stuff because we’re supposed to tell people good things. It’s being genuine. It’s being honest. It’s being observant. It’s being present. Recognizing people for what they do very simply and very plainly, then move on.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:41] Well done.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:47:42] Thank you.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:43] So, how can people find you, Roxanne?

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:47:46] They can find me at, right now, the website is www.prolaureate, P-R-O-L-A-U-R-E-A-T-E. That’s changing within the next 30 days to a new brand that will simply be Roxanne Leadership. That’s much easier to remember and to forget. Roxanne is two Ns, Roxanne Leadership. And the best way to reach me is through text or cell phone, give me a call, 216-544-7528.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:20] Great. Now, you know how to reach her and think about what she said there about the five things. Think about the star. Think about the i3. And make time. Force yourself to make time every single day to work on it. I love how she breaks that down and says, "Now, you got the pieces. Now, let’s put it in action." It’s logical. It’s a process. It’s a system. And you have to continue to do it every single day. You could take Thanksgiving off and take Christmas off. Yeah, because we all do need a little bit of time away, but it needs to stay in the forefront of our lives in vast majority of the time. Roxanne, thank you once again for your wisdom-

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:49:05] Thank you.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:06] … your time. And I look forward to seeing you here soon. But this will be in December. I’ll see you on our chapter meeting in January, I assume, call because it’ll probably be snowing somewhere here in Ohio, I bet that.

Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott: [00:49:20] Usually is in Cleveland. Peter, thank you so much. Like I said, I appreciate this so much. A lot of gratitude for having the opportunity to talk with you today and all your listeners. So, thank you very much.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:33] I appreciate that. Thank you, too.
I would like to thank Roxanne again for her time and showing her leadership knowledge with you, my audience. Thank you for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, please take a moment and leave a review on iTunes or whatever platform you download your podcast from. Also, please subscribe and share this episode with a friend. Make today your best day.

Announcer: [00:50:05] Like what you just heard? Because it’s c-suiteradio.com. C-Suite Radio: turning the volume up on business.

S2E43. Learning New Skills by Getting In The Game with Darren LaCroix

Darren LaCroix is the only speaker in the world who is a Certified Speaking Professional, an Accredited Speaker, and a world champion of public speaking. He’s also the co-host of Unforgettable Presentations podcast. Darren always stresses, “Don’t go for the designations to get the letters after your name. Do it for the professional you will become in the process.” 

Darren’s parents always made it clear that he was expected to go to college, but he knew that, at some point, he wanted to become an entrepreneur. He went to business school, and immediately after graduation, he started a Subway franchise.

A year and a half into his franchise business, Darren sold his franchise for a loss and moved back in with his parents. He was at the lowest point in his life. His friend gave him a motivational tape to try and cheer him up, and he heard Brian Tracy say, “What would you dare to dream if you knew you wouldn’t fail?”

His immediate response was, “I’d be a comedian.” The voice in his head answered, “But you aren’t funny,” but the question was “if you knew you couldn’t fail” so he didn’t allow himself to dismiss it. Brian Tracy said, “Go to people who are where you want to be and listen to them.” So I said, “Well, let me ask a comedian”

So he went to a local comedy club, and after the show, he walked up to the performer and said, “Hi, my name is Darren. I want to try this. What do I need to do?” The comedian asked him, “Are you funny?” Darren said, “No.” And the comedian said, “Good.” People who are naturally funny, like class clowns, know how to make their friends and family laugh, but if you give them a microphone and put them on stage, they won’t know what to do.

Performing comedy on stage is a skillset. One that can be learned. The comedian told him to do two things: Get a book on comedy and start reading up, and attend open mic nights so you can see people who are just starting out and compare yourself to them.

Darren watched people go up for the very first time, and they were horrible. And he realized, he could be that horrible. Darren always thought that you had to get good to go on stage. But no, you have to go on stage to get good. He committed to trying it just once, not because it was his dream, but because he knew he didn’t want to live with regret. His first time on stage was pretty bad, but after making a mistake, the audience laughed. He didn’t care if they were laughing at the mistake, he got a laugh! From that point on, he was in.

He had trouble getting stage time, but he discovered Toastmasters and found that it was a great place to make those mistakes and grow. That led him on the path that took him to the World Championship of Public Speaking in 2001, where he won first place out of 25,000 contestants.

One of Darren’s friends invited him to a fundraising party in Beverly Hills, but she would be hosting so she would have to run around a lot. He didn’t know anyone, he was introverted, but he noticed a craps table and decided that trying to learn how to play might be a good way to meet some people.

Sitting at the edge of the table, he asked the dealer questions. He was watching, trying to wrap his head around the rules. This little old lady scoots up next to him, and when she realizes he’s not playing, she asks, “Young man, what are you doing?” He explained that he was trying to learn how to play. And she responded, “If you want to learn craps, get in the game.”

Darren never learned her name, but he’ll always remember the lesson: You’ll learn more from the experience. Get in the game. Whatever new skill set you want to work on. You’re going to make some mistakes. But get in the game, you’ll learn faster.

Resources:

Transcript:

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Darren LaCroix: [00:00:00] You’ll learn more from the experience. Get in the game. Whatever new skill set you want to work on, you’re going to make some mistakes. But get in the game, you’ll learn faster.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:21] Welcome to Change Your Mindset podcast, formerly known as Improv Is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation. Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while, growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:07] Welcome to Episode 43. And my guest today is Darren LaCroix. Now, his bio starts out with this, he felt invincible in high school. He failed as a business owner. He worked in a cubicle for over a decade. Today, he’s a world champion speaker. What made the difference for him can make the difference for you. Now, Darren will outline his background for you during our interview. But there’s a part of his background that we didn’t cover.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:37] Darren is currently the only speaker in the world who’s a CSP, that is Certified Speaking Professional and AS, an Accredited Speaker and a world champion of public speaking. Darren always stresses, "Don’t go for the designations to get the letters after your name. Do it for the professional you will become in the process." He’s also the co-host of Unforgettable Presentations podcast.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:05] Darren works with presenters eager to learn what it takes to connect deeply with their audiences. He’s the founder of stagetimeuniversity.com, the ultimate online program for presenters. Now, during our interview, listen to his journey of highs and lows, of his struggles and successes. What you will hear is an entrepreneur who works every day to become the best. As I’ve said to my audiences, is that in order to enact change, I mean, true change, you have to apply it every single day and baby steps.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:40] An analogy to enact change recently happened to me on September 9, 2019 when Dan Thurmon, CSP and immediate past president of the National Speakers Association, came and spoke to our NSA Ohio chapter. At one point, Dan started juggling, which took me back 40-plus years ago when I used to juggle and really haven’t since. This kept me inspired so much that when I got home, I grabbed three tennis balls and tried to juggle.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:08] Whoa, I dropped more than I kept in the air, but I did juggle 23 times without dropping that day. I made a commitment to juggle every single day. And as of November 19th, I have juggled 72 days with a high of 365 times without dropping. I have dropped many and I have failed more than I succeeded, but I’m enacting change and getting a little bit more confident each and every day. Listen to Darren’s analogies and think about how you can enact change every single day a little bit at a time.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:47] And as he says, "Just get in the game." As you know by now, Change Your Mindset is part of the C-Suite Radio family of podcast. It’s an honor and a privilege to be amongst some of the more prevalent business podcasts, such as The Hero Factor with Jeffrey Hazlett, Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken, and Keep Leading with my friend, Eddie Turner. You can find Change Your Mindset and many other outstanding business podcasts on C-Suite Radio by going to www.c-suiteradio.com.

Announcer: [00:04:20] This podcast is part of the C-Suite Radio Network, turning the volume up on business.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:26] Many of you don’t know that I’m a type 1 diabetic and I do volunteer my time at the Central Ohio Diabetes Association, which is part of the Life Care Alliance organization here in central Ohio. Here’s a short commercial about the upcoming Santa Speedo Dash on Saturday, December 14th and all the proceeds from the dash will help to fund the Central Ohio Diabetes Association summer camp for children with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. If you’d like to register or donate, please go to www.lifecarealliance.org/programs/coda, that’s C-O-D-A, /santa-speedo-dash.

Kathy: [00:05:08] Hey, Anthony. What’s with the bells?

Anthony: [00:05:10] Hey, Kathy. I’m putting my outfit together for the Santa Speedo Dash.

Kathy: [00:05:13] Love the red leggings too. So, you’re going to run in the Santa Speedo Dash on Saturday, December 14th to support Camp Hamwi?

Anthony: [00:05:20] You betcha. Will you be there?

Kathy: [00:05:21] Of course. It’s the only day each year I’m allowed to wear a bathing suit to work.

Anthony: [00:05:26] Help us gift kids with diabetes the experience of a lifetime. Proceeds from the Santa Speedo Dash support Camp Hamwi. Register or donate today at www.santaspeedodash.org.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:39] Now, a quick word from our sponsor.

Sponsor: [00:05:42] This episode is sponsored by Peter A. Margaritis, LLC a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. Are you looking for a high-content and engaging speaker for your next conference? Do you want to deliver a story to stakeholders that will transform data dumping to engaging business conversations? Do you want to feel that the value a speaker provides your audience far exceeds the dollar value on their invoice? Then, book Peter for your next conference, management retreat, or workshop. Contact Peter at peter@petermargaritis.com and visit his website at www.petermargaritis.com. By the way, one of his Fortune 50 clients actually made the comment about the value he brings to your audience.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:30] Now, let’s get to the interview was Darren LaCroix. Hey, welcome back, everybody. Man, do I have a guest for you today? Buckle up. I’m interviewing Mr. Darren LaCroix, who, I’m going to let him tell a story because I can’t do it justice other than he came to our NSA chapter last year and blew us all away. I’ve heard stories. I’ve heard, there’s this story about him or I’ve heard about him for a long period of time and I finally got a chance to meet him. And man, is he good.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:08] So, I’m not going to give the good stuff away, Darren. I’m going to let you do that because you can do a lot better than I am. But first and foremost, Darren, it’s 11:30 here, Eastern Standard Time. I’m talking to Darren, who’s in Las Vegas, where it’s very early in the morning. He had to get another cup of coffee before we get started, which I appreciate. So, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule and early morning to spend time with me on my podcast.

Darren LaCroix: [00:07:32] Hey, glad to be here. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:37] He’s got the voice for the radio, he’s got the face for the stage.

Darren LaCroix: [00:07:41] It’s all special effects.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:42] So-

Darren LaCroix: [00:07:45] Turn the bass way down. Hey, I’m Barry White. How are you doing?

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:48] I’m doing just fine. I’m dealing with kind of Morgan Freeman lately to see if I can have a soothing voice to be effective. I always said if Morgan Freeman would read an IRS letter, it would make you want to be audited by the IRS. It would feel so good. So, Darren, tell me a story, because it is incredible at the least.

Darren LaCroix: [00:08:10] Well, you’re very kind. I grew up, you know, parents, "Got to go to college, you got to go to college." And I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I did know that I wanted to eventually be an entrepreneur. But I’m like-

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:23] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:08:23] "Why am I going to college if I want to have my own business?" I went to business school four years, Bryant College, Smithfield, Rhode Island, now called Bryant University. But I was really excited and I decided because I couldn’t really get a business loan right after college having no experience and no money. So, I ended up going with a franchise. So, I bought a Subway franchise and I was so dreaming I was gonna be a multi-store owner, going to have five units, going to be a multimillionaire, have everybody do the work for me. And man, back then, Subway had 5,000 stores.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:04] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:09:04] Literally. And they actually had a 98 percent success rate. I really got to screw up to be at that 2 percent. You’ve got to be good at messing up. And honestly, I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing Subway because I’m really not. I made a lot of bad mistakes and it didn’t work. So, I had the store for about a-year-and-a-half. I sold it at a loss and I just was at the lowest point in my life. And I’m just living at home with my parents.

Darren LaCroix: [00:09:30] I still had the business loan, even though I had no business because I sold it at a loss, had the college loan, living with mom and dad. Woohoo, dreams, only in America. Only in America can you be an entrepreneur and earn less than minimum wage and it’s legal. So anyway, my buddy gave me this motivational tape because I was so down and I loved it. It was like encouraging and made me believe in myself.

Darren LaCroix: [00:09:58] And I’m driving down the road and I hear this man named Brian Tracy say, "What would you dare to dream if you knew you wouldn’t fail?" And I thought about it because I was at this such an open point in my life where I’m like, "Tell me anything, I’m in." And when I answered the question, what would I want to do if I knew I wouldn’t fail, I was like, "I would be a comedian. That would be the ultimate. I mean, making people laugh for a living, that would be perfect." All of a sudden, this little voice of reason said, "But you’re not funny, Darren." But that wasn’t the question.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:33] Right. Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:10:34] It’s truth, but it wasn’t the question. So, I just challenged myself and I said, "You know what? It wasn’t a dream", but I said, "What if Brian Tracy’s right?" So, I forced myself to do it just once. And when I told my friends and family, they’re like, "You, a comedian? Number one, you’re scared to talk in front of people. Number two, you’re not funny at all, like not even close. You’re a nice guy."

Darren LaCroix: [00:11:00] "People like you, but that’s because you shut up and you don’t talk." And so, you know, I realized in listening to these motivational tapes, Brian Tracy said, "Go to people who are where you want to be and listen to them." So I said, "Well, let me ask a comedian", because when I told my friends and family, they compared me to Jerry Seinfeld, someone just thinking about it to someone at the top of their profession. And that’s not fair.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:26] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:11:26] It’s the nature. I get it. I understand it. But it’s not fair to compare you and where you’re at, if you’re just beginning a new skill set-

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:34] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:11:34] … to somebody who’s one of the most accomplished person in the industry. You know, when you sit back, "Oh, yeah, of course. Why would you do that?" But in the moment, you’re like, "Comedian, not you." Okay.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:43] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:11:44] Next, pick another dream, buddy.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:46] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:11:46] And so, I went to this little comedy club. And I had never been to a comedy club in my life live at that point. I went to this little comedy club in Wister. And I worked up all the courage I could to walk up to the comedian. Because again, I’m a shy, quiet kid who has no business being onstage, never mind talking to a comedian. So, I looked up to him after the show. And he seemed pretty approachable. So, it wasn’t horrible, but it was still a stretch for me.

Darren LaCroix: [00:12:12] And I said, "Hi, my name is Darren. I want to try this. What do I need to do?" And he asked me a question, he said, "Are you funny?" And I said, "No." And he said, "Good." I’m like, "Good? What do you mean, good?" And he went on to explain that people who are naturally funny, like class clowns, your friends, and your family, like that’s one skill set around your family. If you handed them a microphone and put them in front of a group of 100 strangers, they couldn’t make them laugh.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:42] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:12:43] He said, "That’s a different skill set." But then, he said, "That skill set can be learned." And I was like, "Oh, you need me." And he said, "Two things, Darren. Number one-" and this is for anything but it spoke to me, he said, "Number one, you need to get the book." I’m like, "Book? There’s a book about stand-up comedy?" Well, of course, there’s books about everything, but I wasn’t thinking that way. So, number one, get the information, get the book. And he said, "Number two, you need to go to open mic nights, then watch other people who are just starting out." Well, duh, now, I would be comparing myself to someone else who’s starting out rather than someone at the top of their profession. That made sense.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:24] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:13:24] So, I went out and I got the book. I read the book. I studied the book. Went through the exercises. And I think that’s one of the other problems for us as adult learners, I’m still guilty myself now, that we think we know everything. And so, we’re not truly open to new ways. And even though we say we want it, we have a problem, we have a challenge. But fortunately, back then, I was wide open.

Darren LaCroix: [00:13:47] So, I went and got the book, did the exercises. And then, on Sunday night, I went to this little comedy club called Stitches, right outside of Fenway Park in Boston. And I walked in and you could feel the sticky floor, you could smell the stale beer. And it was like cool. It was like coolness. And I so didn’t belong in coolness, but I was there. And I watched people go up for the very first time and they were horrible. And I thought I could do that. I could be that horrible.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:19] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:14:20] These people were embarrassing. I’m like, "I’ve embarrassed myself before, I have no problem with that." And so, I committed that, "You know what, I’m going to do this." I’m going to try it just once, though. It wasn’t like this dream and I didn’t think at that moment that I was going to live the life and become a comedian and then, go on to be a speaker. But just once, because I couldn’t live with the regret of wondering what if.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:41] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:14:42] What if Brian Tracy was right? I’m in such a malleable state right now in my life. If I don’t try this now, I’ll live my life regretting. So, I studied the book for two months. I went to Stitches every Sunday night for two months to be re-inspired by horrible comedians. And it was April 26, 1992, Stitches, Boston, Mass. And I went up on stage. I was so nervous. I was literally shaking. I have it on video too. And when I give speeches, I actually show a video clip of it. And it’s horrible and I can show it now, if you want.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:21] Let’s make sure-

Darren LaCroix: [00:15:21] I don’t know if it will translate, but-

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:25] Give me the clip and I’ll put it into the show notes. People can watch it. Because I remember, you showed it at the chapter. And I’ll be honest with you, I get goosebumps. Because I remembered what it was like being in an open mic night and having that fear, having that intimidation and getting up there in front of 50 people, whatever, and telling jokes and trying to make them laugh. It just gave me the good goosebumps, not the bad goosebumps.

Darren LaCroix: [00:15:56] The good goose bumps, not the bad ones.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:59] Yeah, yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:16:00] Well, through the miracle of Zoom Stop Share.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:05] We’re gonna see if we can get this thing played. Here we go.

Darren LaCroix: [00:16:09] Does anyone here live in New England?

Audience: [00:16:12] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:16:14] I figured, atheist. Let’s see, does anybody ever notice like any every other small town in New England takes one little small historical fact, makes it the greatest event in the world? Sorry for my voice like fluctuating a little bit. A lot of towns like this. And then, I was doing some research, like places like Lexington, you know, the first revolutionary skirmish happened there. What’s his name?

Darren LaCroix: [00:16:48] I can’t remember his name. Obviously, he was real famous. Eli Whitney lives in Westborough, you know, born in Westborough. I was doing some research. I discovered that the actual first dentist to use ether actually happened in Charlton, Massachusetts. And the interesting thing about this was he actually fermented himself. You know, nobody else had done this before. And he started with animals and he used his own dog.

Darren LaCroix: [00:17:15] Yeah, it was painful. And that wasn’t even the worst part. There was a moment that I told you about where I was so nervous that what I was saying and what I was doing with my body, it was not in sync because obviously, when you’re nervous-

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:31] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:17:31] … that’s how it is. And so, I was telling this one joke about Dr. Robert Goddard, who launched the first liquid fuel rocket in history in my hometown. And I was talking about the rocket because it only went 41 feet high. And I said, "The rocket took off and it went vertically", but I did horizontally with my arm. And I was just disgusted with myself. And I just reacted. I’m just like, "Oh, shoot." It’s not the actual word I used, but, "Oh, shoot." And everybody laughed. And I was like, "What’s going on?"

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:04] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:18:04] "Why are you laughing? That’s not where you’re supposed to laugh, but I’ll take it."

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:08] Right. Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:18:09] And as I walked off stage, one of the other comedians put his arm around me to console me. He’s like, "Don’t worry, man. It’s just your first time." And I remember thinking, "Don’t worry, it’s just my first time, did you see what I did? I got a laugh." I don’t care that it was a mistake. I can make more mistakes in that five minutes of time, I have one thing that worked. And even though it was a mistake, if I could reproduce that and get rid of everything that didn’t work, I could do this.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:34] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:18:35] And I just said, I’m in. I got every mentor that I could. I read every book that I could. And in fact, that’s what my mentor said. "Stage time, stage time, stage time. Any day that you don’t get onstage is a day that you don’t grow." And I think for everyone, in your conversations, trying to persuade people or educate people, we need to be better at it. And the more we do it, the better we’ll get, but especially if we have some world class tools to do that.

Darren LaCroix: [00:19:03] So, Stage Time University is now, because of that story, that’s what I do. I train people, but I love what I get to do. But here’s the cool part, is that stage time is important, but if we’re not trying to improve, like my mentor said, any day that you don’t get onstage is a day that you don’t grow. And I was like, "What? I thought I had to be good to be onstage." And he said, "No, no, no, you have to go on stage to get good."

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:35] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:19:36] And it’s very different. And so, I couldn’t get stage time. As a wannabe comedian, there’s only three comedy clubs in Boston at that time, and there’s one hundred wannabes vying for those spots. So, it was hard to get stage time. And that’s when I found Toastmasters and NSA in a couple of years or a-year-and-a-half later. And I found Toastmasters as a great place to make mistakes and get that stage time.

Darren LaCroix: [00:20:02] I’m like, "What do you mean? They’re gonna clap no matter how bad I am? Like that’s not like a comedy club at all." And so, I just dove in and I did both stand-up and speaking for many years. And then, fast forward to 2001, I out-spoke 25,000 contestants from 14 countries to win the World Championship of Public Speaking with a very funny speech. And I had a great coach. And it was the coach, I just did the work. But most people aren’t willing to do the work or get a coach.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:35] And you make some really good points throughout the story. As one, you just don’t become a world champion overnight. Two, you don’t become funny overnight. And you’ve done the work. You’ve demonstrated that it takes every day. And so many times, people want to do here, but they don’t want to put in the work.

Darren LaCroix: [00:21:00] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:01] And they get frustrated when something doesn’t happen because it’s like I said, when you-

Darren LaCroix: [00:21:04] Or happen quick enough.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:06] Right. When you’re wanting that change, you have to take small steps.

Darren LaCroix: [00:21:10] One of the things I love to point out is there are those people who are naturals.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:13] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:21:15] That those 2 percent that are natural-born presenters, naturally born funny people, guess what? I hate them too.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:24] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:21:24] Because for the rest of us, it’s work.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:26] Right, right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:21:27] It’s work.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:28] Yes.

Darren LaCroix: [00:21:28] And then, the other thing that frustrates me is people who have a natural gift, but it’s good. And they could be great or unforgettable if they’d just be willing to be more open and be a sponge. Because they got those natural talents and they could ride on them and be better than most, but they could be unbelievable if they just got some world-class techniques in whatever industry they’re in.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:54] Well, that goes to a coach, and we all need coaches, but also goes to-

Darren LaCroix: [00:22:00] Even you? What?

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:01] I love improv. I mean, that’s my love and I have an improv coach. And we meet once a month. He’s out in LA. He’s part of the Second City faculty on LA. And we’re looking at it from a business perspective, but he’s inspired me that I should probably get it once—I’ve never been on stage for improv. I’ve done stand-ups.

Darren LaCroix: [00:22:21] What?

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:21] But he’s inspired me to be onstage. And I said, "Well, I guess at this point in my life, I’ve been doing the assisted living circuit, which is fine."

Darren LaCroix: [00:22:32] Now, there’s always that one token old person.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:34] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:22:35] Like you and me.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:37] Yeah. But-

Darren LaCroix: [00:22:37] Like, "Oh, look at the geriatric improv player of the year." But here’s the cool part, and this is why I love Patricia Fripp and I can’t wait till I’m at her age, whenever that would be, because I can’t wait to get away with the things that she can say.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:53] Well, true.

Darren LaCroix: [00:22:53] See, if the old guy says something even remotely risque, it will kill. Peter, get up there. I’ll join you. The two old guys.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:06] I’m gonna hold you to that now.

Darren LaCroix: [00:23:09] I’d do it. I love doing improv.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:12] But we all need coaches. We all need help.

Darren LaCroix: [00:23:13] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:14] And you said, we need to be open. We need to be open to other ideas and basically park our ego. And you know what? And you make a point, there are some people who are really good, but if they want to be outstanding, they’ve got to take the feedback and accept the feedback. Be a sponge.

Darren LaCroix: [00:23:31] Be a sponge. Be a sponge.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:33] And ego get to the way and it doesn’t allow some folks to be that sponge. I like feedback and I hired Judy Carter as a coach at one point to help me. And I said, "There’s some footage." I said, "I want it straight between the eyes." "What?"

Darren LaCroix: [00:23:52] And I bet you got it from her.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:54] I did. And once she was done, I said, "Thank you." And I didn’t get defensive. Well, I said, "I asked for the feedback. I can’t get defensive if I asked for a feedback and if this is the way that I want it." Says, "You’re weird." I said, "Thank you. I am that way, but I’m open to the feedback." Now, what I do with that feedback is my decision. But you see this all the time, people will ask for feedback and then, as you’re giving it to them, they’re being defensive about everything.

Darren LaCroix: [00:24:28] Yeah, they don’t actually want the feedback.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:29] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:24:31] They actually want the pat on the back.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:33] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:24:33] Rick Valentine says, "Some people come to us for education and some people come to us for validation." And I think more people come for validation.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:44] Validation?

Darren LaCroix: [00:24:44] Right. And I was guilty of that myself when I met my coach. Let me just jump in on this super quick, because it makes a point.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:51] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:24:51] In 2001, I had been doing stand-up for nine years. I was a speaker for seven years, I think, at that point, it was ’94. And so, I thought I was pretty good. And in the Toastmaster world, I was like king of my club. I wasn’t world class, but I was king of my club in the perfect bubble world.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:12] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:25:12] And don’t get me wrong, I love Toastmasters. It’s a great place to grow, but it’s not reality, you know. But we need that in order to be better in reality. So, I thought, "If I just got a coach." So, I joined this speech contest to work on the stories I was telling in my professional career. So, I didn’t join it to get the trophy. I entered the speech contest to work on the stories I was already telling to make them so good someone would pay to hear them. And that was advice from one of my comedy mentors. He said, "Darren, take the stories you already have." He said, "Stop-" because I was like that little creature from Lord of the Rings, you know, "Precious, precious". I was lusting after that story that would be, in our world as a speaker, Peter, we want that signature story.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:01] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:26:01] That story we’re known for. And so, I kept trying to find it and find it and find it. And he said, "No, Darren. Stop." He said, "Take one of the stories you already have and make it so good someone will pay to hear that." And that was like an aha switch of the mindset because I didn’t realize there was a world-class process that you could follow to go deeper. I just thought you just told the story and you tweaked it a little. No, no, no, no. You got to dig deeper into the story. You got to find the right elements, put them together in a great way, and add dialogue and enhance it and show the emotional shift. I was like "What?" I just thought a story happened, you recognized it, and you reported on it and it was-

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:41] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:26:41] … wrong. So, when I first met Mark Brown who was the 1995 world champion and my coach, I was so excited that he agreed to work with me. And I said I wanted coaching, but secretly, I just wanted validation. I just wanted him to tell me how great I was. And so, I took the first version of my championship speech because he had to write a different one at three levels. So, he helped me out right on the last level. That’s when I met him.

Darren LaCroix: [00:27:11] And I had about 77 days before the contest. So, I drove with version 1.0. I didn’t want to bring it ahead of time or send it ahead of time because I wanted to see the joy and the impression on his face. So, I drove from Boston to New York to work with my coach. And we were in this little corporate training center where he worked at Reader’s Digest. And I was so thrilled. If you don’t know Mark Brown, he stands about 6’2". He’s got a heart of gold. He’s a native of Jamaica. And he’s got this beautiful, booming laugh, like the guy from the old 7 Up commercial, "Hahahahaha.".

Darren LaCroix: [00:27:49] And so, I handed Mark the speech. I mean, this was the greatest speech in the history of Toastmasters. When I handed it to him. I thought it was so good, you could hear choirs of angels. I handed it to Mark. Mark took the speech. "Oh, Darren, we have some work to do." "What? I did everything you told me to do. I wrote the greatest speech that I could write from the level I was at." But you don’t know what you don’t know. And it’s that moment after I absorbed the feedback and got out of my own ego’s way, I realized that if you’re not coachable, there is no cure. If you’re not coachable, there’s no cure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:37] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:28:37] No one can help you get to the next level.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:40] And that’s a great quote. And it’s so true. How coachable are you? How do you look at coaching? And some people, to your point, they look at it as validation versus educate me. Tell me how I can get better, how can I stretch myself?

Darren LaCroix: [00:28:59] You’ve got to be confident to say, "Rip me apart."

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:01] Yeah. And-

Darren LaCroix: [00:29:02] Mean it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:04] Yeah. And mean it. And I was confident with myself. But here’s what I knew, I knew that I didn’t know everything. I knew in order to get better-

Darren LaCroix: [00:29:13] What? You’re a man. We’re supposed to know everything, aren’t we?

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:17] We’re supposed to, but if we’re honest with ourselves and want to continue to get better, you’ve got to search out those folks who have established that level and learn from them. You know, some people say, "You’re really good." I say, "Well, thank you, but I still have a long way to go." "Well, you’ve been doing this for 17 years." "I still have a long way to go. I still have a lot to learn." I-

Darren LaCroix: [00:29:42] Yeah, it’s a mindset thing. As Mike Rayburn says, it’s like the "virtuoso mindset" that you’re constantly trying to become the best and you’ll never achieve it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:53] Right, right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:29:53] But if you’re not constantly trying to improve, you’re stuck in a rut and you’re making the rut deeper by not picking up new tools, new mindset, new perspective.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:05] Exactly. And this goes to anything that we do. Anything we’re trying to get better. We’re trying to become a better leader. You don’t learn leadership in a workshop. You learn leadership and applying it every single day. I’ve-

Darren LaCroix: [00:30:16] It sounds great in a workshop.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:19] Yeah. And, "Oh, cool. I can do that." But well, hello, it doesn’t work that way because we got to put in the work. And I think a lot of times complacency sets in. We just don’t want to do the work. But then, we’re not seeing any results. That’s-

Darren LaCroix: [00:30:40] Or growth.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:40] Or growth. Right, right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:30:40] We might get some results, but not the true growth that we’re looking for.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:44] And so, you went from a scared guy doing stand-up, who your parents and friends thought you’re not funny, doing stand-up for nine years, you travel the country, you’re a professional speaker, a World Champion Toastmaster, member of National Speakers Association, but the one thing I have learned about you is you don’t stop.

Darren LaCroix: [00:31:08] What?

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:08] How many-

Darren LaCroix: [00:31:09] It’s not in my vocabulary.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:11] How many-

Darren LaCroix: [00:31:12] I get exhausted and pass out on occasion, but the next day, I get up and keep going.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:16] How many revenue streams do you have?

Darren LaCroix: [00:31:19] Eighty-two.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:20] Okay. And it started with one.

Darren LaCroix: [00:31:23] Just for clarification, some of them are just trickles. So, I’m not a multi-millionaire. And he says that because I did a program on multiple streams of income. And I looked at my taxes and my accounting, and I literally added them up. So, a couple of them are like some MP3 that I created and tried to sell and it didn’t go well. And it’s like $4.52 for the year. So, just to be clear, some of them are trickles.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:53] But they’re there.

Darren LaCroix: [00:31:55] True.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:56] And you continue to evolve and you continue to grow and add new things. So, you got the Stage Time University. I thought that Darren been doing podcasting for a while, but he just started a podcast about a-month-and-a-half ago and the name of the podcast is?

Darren LaCroix: [00:32:12] Unforgettable Presentations, we- Mark Brown, my coach, and I, we interview some of the most unforgettable presenters. In fact, Peter, you’re at NSA, correct?

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:23] Correct.

Darren LaCroix: [00:32:24] So, we just interviewed Jia Jiang, who was the rejection guy.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:29] Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:32:30] What I learned from 100 days of rejection.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:33] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:32:33] And by the way, if you’re listening to this and you haven’t seen that Ted talk, you’ve got to check it out. It’s so insightful, so funny, so inspiring. And so, Mark and I just released last week our interview with him. It was fascinating.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:46] Yeah. He’s got a really fascinating story. And I did one day of rejection and I went, "Okay, that’s enough."

Darren LaCroix: [00:32:51] "I’m good. I’m good. I’ve been rejected." But that’s not the point, though, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:57] Right. If I want a hundred days of rejection, I’ll go back into stand-up. I mean, that was rejection city, right?

Darren LaCroix: [00:33:02] I’ll start dating again. Guys, by the way, I’m not married. And yeah, I got no interest, like I’m on a mission. I ain’t got time for that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:14] Yeah. Well, 82 streams of income. You’ve got a boot camp coming up in March?

Darren LaCroix: [00:33:21] Yeah. I got one coming up in December and one coming up in March. So-

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:25] And those boot camps are?

Darren LaCroix: [00:33:27] So, the one in December is called Unforgettable Presentations, ironically. So, it’s a two-day event with Mark and me live or virtually in Vegas. And then, in March, it’s my big event, which is called Stage Time LIVE!, where my whole faculty is there, Ed T., Ford Saeks, Kevin Burke. And it’s two days with a whole bunch of crazy speakers who want to get better.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:51] Cool and coaching and doing but-

Darren LaCroix: [00:33:56] Yeah, we do live coaching.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:56] Yeah, yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:33:57] So, we show people, like everyone thinks, "Oh, here’s what to do." But when you see somebody deliver it and then, you see a coach step up and say, "Okay, try this, this and this." And then, they do it that way. You’re like, "Oh." You know, I wish more people would just see the experience of coaching. And anyway, I love what we do in helping people help people.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:20] And so, when you think about coaching, and so, if I’m thinking about my audience and they’ll go, "Well, you know, I’ve got my continued education from-"

Darren LaCroix: [00:34:31] Yeah, check off that box.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:32] Yeah. That’s a thank you for a better-

Darren LaCroix: [00:34:33] Now, you’re better because of it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:35] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:34:35] That’s the question.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:35] Or are you just collecting eight hours of continued education? But what are you doing to get better? And that’s the challenge at least with my audience with is, okay, you finish this. What are you going to take away? What are you going to work on? What are you going to get better on? And how are you going to plan it? And there might be one or two people that will take that actually serious to stick around and talk about it after the fact.

Darren LaCroix: [00:34:59] But that’s what you were there for.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:01] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:35:01] So, you were there for those two.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:02] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:35:02] It’s a mindset. You can’t make people be coachable. You can’t make people be a sponge. But for you and I, for what we do, just to have the intention to help people. And it’s sad that more people aren’t open to growth. They say they are, but they’re not actually.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:20] Why do you think that is? We say we’re open for growth, but then, we actually don’t do it. Is it because of the demands of our jobs or demands of corporate America, demands of family, or we’re just naturally lazy?

Darren LaCroix: [00:35:34] I think it’s all of the above. I think we’re naturally lazy. And I think when you say get a coach, there’s also bad coaches out there.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:44] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:35:44] So, if you’ve had a bad experience with one coach, that doesn’t mean they’re all bad. That means maybe you should have done more due diligence. Do you know Rudy Ruettiger?

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:55] I know of the name, but I don’t know of the person.

Darren LaCroix: [00:35:57] So, the movie, Rudy, was created around his story but-

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:03] Okay.

Darren LaCroix: [00:36:03] … he’s like my hero. So, I like stalked him until I could get to meet him. Had lunch with him. It was like a little kid having lunch with Santa Claus. I’m like, "It’s Rudy, it’s Rudy." Anyway, he said one thing that I thought was brilliant. He said that people aren’t afraid of hard work. They’re afraid of hard work, not pay enough.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:25] Okay.

Darren LaCroix: [00:36:26] And because sometimes, they worked hard, but maybe in the wrong direction.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:29] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:36:30] So as a result, they didn’t get any results. So, they thought it’s not worth it. But when you find the right coach, the person that you’re open to. Unfortunately, when we have something in our life that happens. Like last year, and I’m just being honest here, even though I have a staff of four, last year, I literally had to pull my staff aside and say, "Look, guys, I made some mistakes. I’ve been trying to correct them. I don’t know if I’m going to hit payroll next week."

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:56] Whoa.

Darren LaCroix: [00:36:56] And so, yeah, if you need to get other jobs, I understand. And some of them panicked, which I understand, but they all at least knew the truth. And I wasn’t going to BS. And, you know, it was scary. And one of my assistants said, "Why would you tell us that?" I’m like, "Well, why would I not? Are you kidding?" I’m a hard worker, but sometimes, we let go of the numbers. You know, we don’t keep track of the numbers and what’s happening.

Darren LaCroix: [00:37:25] Even though I have money coming in all the time because of my different streams of revenue, I wasn’t paying attention to what was going out and what was coming in. And that seems so obvious to everyone listening. I get that. But we’re not perfect. And so, because I wasn’t paying attention to my numbers, sometimes, like that, for me, this inciting incident happens that forces us to be open and coachable. So, as a result of that, I became a sponge. I went to an event with Russell Brunson, who owns ClickFunnels-

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:57] Yeah. Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:37:57] … and his team and I just became a sponge again. And I was open and eager. And I’m like, "I got to find a way." And through that mindset, I found a couple people who would help me and coach me and one woman who was still newer, but she was willing to sit down with me and just take a look at what I was doing. And she said, "Dude, you have this huge list that you’ve been building for years. You need to just do a webinar. So, here’s Russell’s webinar format. Just go through that and start doing webinars." And I had nothing to lose. Well, I started doing webinars and now, it’s my number one way of acquiring new students. And it works. But if it wasn’t for that inciting incident, I wouldn’t have been coachable because I thought I knew what I was doing. You know, I got four employees and, you know, 400 students around the world, but you can’t hit payroll next week.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:52] That’s an eye opener. Everybody in my audience, if they’re a driver, they just hit the brakes when you said you couldn’t make payroll. They just came to a complete stop. But it also goes to the fact of you got to pay attention to those smaller details because we see it coming in and we get the checks and-

Darren LaCroix: [00:39:16] We’re like, "Oh, everything’s fine."

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:17] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:39:17] "I’ve got money coming in."

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:19] "I’ve got checks in my checkbook. I’m still good. I’m not out of cash yet." And I think that’s one of the things in our business because a lot of speakers aren’t fiscally sound or financially savvy that they see it coming in, but they also don’t pay attention to what’s going out. And next thing you know, they can’t make payroll or they’re broke or out of business because this is a business.

Darren LaCroix: [00:39:45] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:46] And-

Darren LaCroix: [00:39:46] So, telling that story, like some people say, "Why do you tell that story?" Well, it’s transparency and it’s truth.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:53] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:39:53] And if we truly want to influence others, we’ve got to be open and honest, in my opinion. And so, that’s why I tell that story, because I think it’s important. It’s important for people to hear the truth. And for all of us, we don’t want to admit some of our mistakes and some of our shortcomings. And like SEO and keeping track of how much traffic is going to your website and what converts. And I hated Google Analytics because even though I love numbers, I just like glazed over. So, that’s one of the reasons I moved over to ClickFunnels because it’s more Darren-friendly. So, I can see the numbers and keep track and see what’s working. And that’s what I needed to do, but I wasn’t doing it because I thought I was good.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:36] Well, it’s interesting you just mentioned Russell Brunson’s book, it’s Expert Secrets, right?

Darren LaCroix: [00:40:41] Yes. Yeah. That’s one of them. He’s got a few.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:43] You actually mentioned that at our chapter and I just went out and bought the book and became a sponge. And I just soaked it all in. Now, I haven’t wrung myself out and applied it. It’s always, I’m like-

Darren LaCroix: [00:40:55] Oh, so, you wonder why more people don’t do that and only 2 percent of the people who listen to you do that, but-

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:03] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:41:03] Huh?

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:04] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:41:05] Isn’t that funny?

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:07] Yeah. And open and honest and transparent and vulnerable and all that other stuff. But yes and-

Darren LaCroix: [00:41:16] It’s okay. I get it. I love you, man. I’m a fan.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:19] And as we say in improv, yes, and it needs to be done. It’s on the list. And you have four people. I have a staff of five. Unfortunately, all five of them are in my head.

Darren LaCroix: [00:41:33] Well, fight it out.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:36] Yeah, that’s what they do.

Darren LaCroix: [00:41:37] Oh, but that’s the thing, like Patricia Fripp says something brilliant, she says, "It doesn’t matter how much you bring in, it only matters how much you keep." So, there’s an advantage when I heard about Ford Saeks and what his payroll was, and I don’t want to mention it-

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:51] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:41:51] … without permission. But I was like, "Whoa!" And I looked at my payroll and my payrolls is like five grand every two weeks. I was like, "So, you, all you got to do is take care of you and pay you." I’m like, "What are you bitching about?" You know?

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:04] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:42:06] "So, shut up." No, I say that in jest. Because it doesn’t matter what level you’re at.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:12] Right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:42:12] Doesn’t matter if you have it four and you’re like, "Oh, well, just get rid of one." Well, I have a big business. It’s not quite that easy. Now, do I have to re-evaluate? Absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:22] Exactly. In closing, what else can you share with my audience that will motivate, inspire them to continue to do the right things, to continue to take those baby steps? A story that you have to help demonstrate that. What else can you share with them that they should go, "You know, I remember listening to Darren and he said this"?

Darren LaCroix: [00:42:44] Well, a story and two little ideas that will answer that, I think, perfectly. Mike Rayburn, who we interviewed on our episode 2 of our podcast. You know Mike?

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:57] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:42:57] He’s a world class speaker. He’s amazing on XM Radio.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:00] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:43:00] Brian Tracy was his personal mentor and he said, for years, he thought he was good. And he said, you know, because he was self-taught. And Brian Tracy asked him, he said, "Have you committed to being the best?" And he said, "Well, I’m doing pretty good. I’m playing. I’m booked all the time." And he said, "No, no, no. That wasn’t the question.".

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:20] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:43:22] And Mike self-reflectively said, "Well, no, I haven’t actually committed to being the best." And Mike said that, "If you’re self-taught, the problem is the teacher is not that good." You know, it is brilliant that it is right there, bam. So, if you’re not getting the results you want, then something’s got to change. Your perspective has to change. You go for the perspective first, because the perspective leads to new habits, leads to new results.

Darren LaCroix: [00:43:54] So, if you’re not getting the results you want, okay, pick one area, like we can’t do 12 things. We don’t have time. I get time. But pick that one area that we want to work on. So, I live in Las Vegas and I’ve lived here for 11 years. I’m not a gambler. I’m not a partier. But I love living in a convention city being a speaker. So, it was embarrassing to me when people would ask me or question or something and I don’t understand the game of craps at all.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:26] Like I don’t either.

Darren LaCroix: [00:44:26] I don’t understand it. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:29] Right, right.

Darren LaCroix: [00:44:29] So, one of my friends was at this fundraising party in Beverly Hills and I was out in California and she invited me to go to this. And she’s like, "I’m volunteering, so I got to run around. But here, come enjoy the party." So, I’m at the party and then, there is a craps table there. And I was like, "Okay, I don’t know anyone. I’m an introvert. I’m going to go learn craps. This is a perfect opportunity.".

Darren LaCroix: [00:44:53] So, I’m sitting there at the edge of the table and I’m watching what’s happening. And I’m asking some questions to, I think it’s called the dealer, the person who rolls, but I don’t even remember. And so, I’m asking questions and I’m watching and I’m watching. And this little old lady kind of scoots up next to me and she reminded me of my grandmother. She had these arthritis hands and she put them on the edge. She was cute, but she had this scowl on her face.

Darren LaCroix: [00:45:19] And she looks at me, realizes I’m not playing. She looks at me and she looks back, she goes, "Young man, what are you doing?" And I said, "Well, I’m learning craps. And I’m just trying to understand. I don’t even know how to bet." She goes, "Ah". And like 10 minutes go by and I’m still like asking questions and learning and trying to understand it, she goes, "Young man, young man, if you want to learn craps, get in the game.".

Darren LaCroix: [00:45:47] And she wouldn’t go away. She was just like looking at me. I was like Catholic guilt. I’m like, "Okay." So, I put some money in the game just to like shut her up and leave her alone. And she was right. I don’t remember her name. I never learned her name, but I’ll always remember the lesson. You’ll learn more from the experience. Get in the game. Whatever new skill set you want to work on, you’re gonna make some mistakes. But get in the game, you’ll learn faster.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:17] Wow. I did not see that coming. That boom, so I get-

Darren LaCroix: [00:46:23] I didn’t either.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:23] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:46:24] This little old lady taught me one of the most important lessons and it’s the same thing that I teach.

Darren LaCroix: [00:46:29] Oh, get in the game. Darren, I can’t thank you enough for taking time. I love when after an interview with one of my guests, I can walk away with stuff that I need to rethink and redo and reapply. And I appreciate that. I thank you for that because I need to get back in the game with a few things that I’ve kept myself out of that game for full transparency. And I want to get back in the game.

Darren LaCroix: [00:46:57] We all need the reminders, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:00] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:47:00] Myself included.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:02] Yes. And those reminders are very important. Once again, Darren, tell people how they can find you.

Darren LaCroix: [00:47:11] Well, if you want to check out our events, just go to stagetimeworkshops.com, if you want to know about either the December event or the March event. And I’m doing another one coming up for pastors as well, an online class because teaching them better stories, better sermons. And so, check that out if you like online learning. You want to stay connected, we have live calls every single week, where we do live coaching inside of Stage Time University. So, first week of the month, we work on content. Second week, stories. Third week, humor. Fourth week, delivery.

Darren LaCroix: [00:47:48] So, it’s an online experience like you’ve never seen before. It’s stagetimeuniversity.com. You could check out darrenlacroix.com. For people who really want to work on storytelling, just check out storytellingwebinar.com. It’s free. And you’ll watch Mark and me teach you the insiders of using stories to be able to help influence you and your decision or the audience’s decision to come on and have your perspective or be convinced of what you’re trying to convince them of. So, check out storytellingwebinar.com.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:21] Go check out all of Darren’s websites and it will be well worth your time and effort. And Darren, thank you so very much. Hopefully, our paths will cross sooner than later. And I need to get to Vegas.

Darren LaCroix: [00:48:35] Hey, come join us for the event.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:37] Yes, I may have to just put that-

Darren LaCroix: [00:48:40] Get in the game, Peter. Get in the game.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:42] Get in the game. I’m already getting in the game.

Darren LaCroix: [00:48:42] I’ll give you the Darren special discount.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:46] I’m going to take him up on that, I believe.

Darren LaCroix: [00:48:48] No matter what we do, even if we’re good at what we do, and that’s what I love-

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:53] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:48:53] … about people who are the best. They’re always rethinking and re-evaluating-

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:57] Yeah.

Darren LaCroix: [00:48:57] … to build on what they already have.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:59] Exactly. And we need to continue to keep building. So, thank you very much. I appreciate it. And-

Darren LaCroix: [00:49:05] And let me know when we’re gonna do improv together onstage, the two old guys.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:11] I think we should convince them that we should do it at Influence.

Darren LaCroix: [00:49:18] Alright.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:18] Cool. Thanks, man. I would like to thank Darren, once again, for his time and wisdom that he shared with you, my audience. Thank you for listening. And if you’re enjoying the podcast, please take a moment to leave a review on i-Tunes or whatever platform you download your podcast from. Also, please subscribe and share this episode with a friend. Make today your best day and remember to juggle a.k.a enact change a little bit at a time every single day.

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