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The world is changing, and us with it. We are living our lives 50% in the real world, and the other half in the virtual world. With the internet connecting the two, it’s harder than ever to imagine one without the other. While it seems like we’re more connected than ever, in truth, our communication has become LESS personal. We’re joined today by Dr. Nick Morgan, who discusses the pros and cons of how we connect with people, despite the limitations of virtual communication.

  • Dr. Nick Morgan recently wrote a book titled, “Can You Hear Me? How To Connect With People In A Virtual World.” He tells us the story that inspired him to write this book, and how it can change your perception of unconscious communication.
  • How is technology making communication worse? Believe it or not, it’s not auto-correct. Nick reveals one of the biggest problems with online communication: people use the same language pattern they use face-to-face, and due to the lack of emotional subtext, we often misunderstand people’s intent. We go on a default “nasty” setting because our brain has filled the gap with negative information to anticipate danger and ‘protect’ ourselves. This is why we’re likely to be less trusting online than we are in the real world.
  • What makes for effective virtual communication? Nick talks about how our reaction depends on how we’re perceiving the other person – if we default to distrust, our reaction mirrors that. Fortunately, we’re becoming more aware of our behavior online. By extending more empathy and understanding, we’re becoming better adults.
  • What’s the benefit of communicating in person? When we meet people in person, it is easier to establish a meaningful connection than we can do online – this takes a lot longer virtually. Nick shares how this is especially useful for first meetings.
  • It would seem that despite the ease of communicating online, we are more alone and our relationships have become much harder to maintain. How do we fix this and be better at labeling the emotional undertones in our virtual conversations? It comes down to one thing at a time – a whole bunch of little fixes that focus on being more understanding and a little bit more connected.
  • Nick and Laurie talk about how the power of well-placed humor can strengthen online relationships, and the importance of understanding where the overlap lies between the real world and the online world.

The DIY HR Handbook

Wouldn’t you love to get your hands on Laurie’s no-holds-barred, honest DIY HR Handbook for employees and pros alike? Download it for free!

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Can You Hear Me?

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Let’s Fix Work is wrapping up its first season at the end of the month. After six months, I can honestly say that I have a podcast to meet cool people. One of those people is Bob Sutton. Consider me a fangirl. He wrote The No Asshole Rule, and there’s nothing else on the market quite like it. It’s the kind of book that made me consider going to graduate school and becoming a management theorist.

I haven’t transcribed the episode because you should listen to it.

Hope you enjoy it!

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Are you living your dream or someone else’s? What does it really take to land a promising writing career in 2018? Joining Laurie today is sports journalist and New York Times best-selling author Jeff Pearlman. They talk about Jeff’s amazing journey from screw up to best-selling author, the gig economy and the decline in the journalism industry, and the connection between politics and sports. You’ll discover why it matters that we speak out about important topics.

  • Jeff Pearlman’s “Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL,” promptly rose to become a best-seller. The content was drawn from over 400 interviews of unadulterated, unforgettable, and downright scandalous stories. Who wouldn’t want a copy? But no one becomes a best-selling author overnight. After all, writing is all about incremental learning. As you work the process, you’re always learning and growing. Jeff talks about his writing roots and how his career came to be.
  • The gig economy is upon us, and journalists haven’t been spared. Legends in the industry have been laid off and replaced with folks who will do the job well below the salary of a seasoned writer. The problem isn’t even about companies letting the tenured writers go in favor of the 20-something-year-olds. It’s that readers can’t seem to tell or feel the difference. Jeff and Laurie weigh in on what the future of work will be like for the next generation, and how we can prepare them for it.
  • Who would believe that politics and sports share such deep ties? Some people want to separate it — like  church and state — but according to Jeff, you can’t separate the two. Jeff and Laurie dive into the interesting connections and the nitty-gritty that binds the people, sports, and politics together.

The DIY HR Handbook

Wouldn’t you love to get your hands on Laurie’s no-holds-barred, honest DIY HR Handbook for employees and pros alike? Download it for free!

Jeff Pearlman

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Let’s Fix Work is wrapping up its first season at the end of the month. This week, I’m highlighting some of the conversations I’ve loved. Here’s Jason Lauritsen talking about how to start small and get clear on what you want.

Jason has a new book out called Unlocking High Performance: How to Use Performance Management to Engage and Empower Employees to Reach their Full Potential. Get your copy today!

Laurie: Hey everybody, welcome to, “Let’s Fix Work.” I’m you’re host, Laurie Ruettimann. Today’s guest is one of the good ones. Oh man, this guy is so nice. His name is Jason Lauritsen, and he and I have been friends for about a decade. And let me tell you, Jason is on the forefront of fixing work. He’s a writer and a speaker, and he goes around all over America and even internationally and helps companies keep and hang on to their talented workers. He’s trying to make you happy at work. Unfortunately, man, that’s a tough battle to fight because there are a lot of reasons why work sucks. In today’s conversation, we’re gonna talk about that and we’re also gonna talk about what to do if you are stuck in a job and you wanna try something new.

But again, I’ve known Jason forever. I know his family, I know his kids. He knows my cousin, such a small world. And we talk about Jason’s career as a public speaker and what it takes to do that. But also this guy has been a consultant, but he’s had a few jobs since I’ve known him, and I asked him, like, “Dude, why are you unhappy at work? Why doesn’t work satisfy that internal drive for you? And if work sucks for you, how is it possible to be good for other people?” So I hope you enjoy the conversation with Jason. I’ll be back at the back end to wrap it up and let you know where you can find him. Enjoy.

Automated Voice: Work is broken, so is the way you think about it. Host Laurie Ruettimann is breaking things down so you can put them back together and make work something you can enjoy. Let’s fix work together with the, “Let’s Fix Work” podcast. Here’s Laurie.

Laurie: Hello everybody. Welcome to, “Let’s Fix Work.” I’m Laurie Ruettimann and I’m here today with a very special guest. Someone I’ve known for what feels like 17 decades, but neither one of us is really that old for that to be true. Today, my guest is Jason Lauritsen. And, Jason, why don’t you say hello?

Jason: Hey everybody, glad to be here.

Laurie: I’m so happy to have you here today because we’re gonna talk about how to fix work. No pressure.

Jason: It’s all good. I’ve been talking about it for years.

Laurie: Yeah, well, I’ve given your bio. I’ve let everybody kind of know who you are and what you do for a living. So let’s get right into the conversation because when I think of you as a leader, I think of you as a leader in the employee engagement space and yet you only seem engaged when you’re self-employed.

Jason: That’s true.

Laurie: Yeah. Yeah. And in fact, behind your back, I’m always like, “Is that guy happy? Can he keep a job?” But you’re an expert at engagement. So tell us what keeps driving you towards self-employment and what makes you feel engaged.

Jason: Sure. So, you know, that is the great irony, right? The guy that wants to help you fix work for your employees is the guy that doesn’t like being an employee. You know, I’ve had…so a couple things I’ve learned through my journey recently. One is that I really, and I can say this, I think with great certainty now, like I really hate being an employee. I’m not cut out for it. I am wired, I’m only happiest when I’m carving my own path. I’m only happiest when I don’t have a net underneath me. So whatever I do, if I fail, if I win, I know how that happened. There’s just this pure, beautiful accountability in that that makes me feel whole.

Laurie: So wait, what do you hate about being an employee though? Because according to the current narrative, you’ve got it all. You’re a middle-aged white guy, right? So you [crosstalk 00:03:42] awesomeness in the workforce. So what do you hate about it?

Jason: You know, maybe I’ve just got too much ego, I don’t know, but I don’t tolerate or I have a very low tolerance for following leaders that don’t know where the hell they’re going. And so as I think about, you know, this throughout my career, one of the things I’ve come to recognize is that I’ve always been a consultant, I’ve always been a consultant at heart or an advisor at heart. And when you are on the outside, someone hires me as a consultant to come in and advise them about what to do. I can come in, we go through the process, I can give them some really great recommendations, and then I leave. And they can ignore me if they want. I mean, if they want a crappy workplace they can ignore me and go on the way that they are. And there’s no real penalty for that other than they paid me some money so they’re out some money.

But when you put me on the payroll, I’m going to do the same thing. But when you ignore my recommendations, it pisses me off because I have to live in the mess. And so that’s why it doesn’t work over time. I’m also a perpetual malcontent. That’s part of how I’m wired. And so I never celebrate. It’s never good enough. I never stop wanting to make it better. That exhausts leaders after a while, if they’re not wired up the same way I am. So eventually they’re just like, “Can we pay you to go away because I’m exhausted and I can’t have you here anymore. Like I love you and you’re smart and I appreciate what you did for my business, but can you please go away?” So that’s how my career has unfolded.

Laurie: And I would imagine that while you’re good at driving change, it can also isolate you from your fellow team members because people don’t come to work every day to hear what’s wrong, right? They wanna focus on solutions and they wanna be celebrated when things are going well. And if you’re a perpetual malcontent, you’re like, “God damn it, this isn’t good enough.” You know, don’t rest on your laurels, and you come off like a Debbie Downer, which I appreciate. I love, you know.

Jason: Yeah. I don’t know if it’s as much of a Debbie Downer as much as it is a rampant critic.

Laurie: She’s too feminine for you?

Jason: And so it’s, I’m always…you know, I’m always finding or I always sort of can look at it and see where we could be more, where we could find more, do more, do it differently. And so it’s not so much being like…it’s not so much that we can’t… I think I’m generally pretty…I mean, people…like I bring a ton of energy to what I do and it’s usually pretty positive energy, but it’s always like people are, like, “Yes, we did it.” And I’m like, “No, we’re only halfway there. Like, I know we just climbed this mountain, but did you see the next one? And it’s a bigger peak. Like, we can go do that.” And they’re like, “Just chill.”

And so, yeah. So I think that’s why I keep getting pulled towards… The only place I can get that is I need to be able to move from one to the next to the next. And sometimes I find leaders that I can help and they go do some amazing stuff with the help I give them. And then others find out that, you know, what needs to be done is too much for them to swallow. And if I can leave and not have to deal with that, then I don’t get as angry at them.

Laurie: Well, tell me, you just described what makes work suck for you and really for a lot of people out there, but what makes work suck for everybody else? Are there themes, are there characteristics that makes the job market so bad out there right now?

Jason: Yeah. Well, so one thing I would say I had the…for a number of years I was locked in a battle with my friend Greg Harris who Runs Quantum Workplace, and they have the best places to work stuff. And he and I went back and forth for years because I would be on this sort of work sucks bandwagon and he would be like, “It’s really not that bad. I don’t think it’s as bad as you think,” because he was looking at best places to work data. And there’s all these companies that are doing some wonderful thing. So I’m conscious to now say, like, there are some really extraordinary workplaces out there and there are some people out there that are having really cool work experiences that love what they do.

On the balance though, you’re right, most people are at minimum in a sort of loveless marriage with their work and at worst in sort of an abusive, terrible situation. I think that what I have come to realize in the last I guess couple years is that I think what’s underlying why it sucks is that… So, you know, I was staring at all this employee research data that I’ve had the benefit to see over the years. And eventually it hit me that when you look at all this data, the stuff that employees are always wanting at work is to…you know, at least according to the data that we get, these surveys, is we want to feel valued and trusted and cared for. And we want to know that somebody is prioritizing our development and all these things. And what occurred to me is that those are all relational things that employees are really…like, they experience work as another relationship in their life and it’s a pretty big one, right? We spend more time there than we do any place else. We get our identity from it and all these things.

And so employees are experiencing work as a relationship and yet most employers are still treating work as a contract. And that’s why…like HR, all HR systems really are built around making damn sure that the company gets their money’s worth out of the employee. Like, “Listen, we’re giving you a paycheck.” And so everything is compliance based, right? I mean, performance appraisals, job descriptions, policy manuals, employee handbooks. And it goes on and on and on. It’s all compliance. So you have employees showing up to work expecting a relational experience and they’re being met with a contractual like mindset and it makes for a crap relationship. And so they’re like, “This sucks. This feels disgusting. I’m going to go try and find something better elsewhere.” The problem is everybody’s running the same damn playbook. So that’s what I think is at the heart of it.

Laurie: I love that you brought that out. The other side of that for me is that employees often show up to work and project all of their emotional insecurity, all their family of origin trauma on the workplace itself. So they come to work and they have a crappy relationship with their parents and then they see an authority figure and all they do is reenact these relationships over and over again. And I think we’re not having an honest conversation about what work is and what work should be. So do you have any insight on that? Any thoughts on what work really ought to be? Because it shouldn’t be a contract, right? We’re not robots. We have to have some relationship, but it’s not a family. It’s not a family.

Jason: Well, the older I get the more of a hippie I become about this really.

Laurie: Really?

Jason: So I’m progressively coming more into the, you know, maybe it shouldn’t be a family, but I think it maybe is going to have to be. And I think that’s the reality that we’re starting to face is that, you know, socially, when you look at what’s happening trend wise is that we…you know, like when my parents were…when I remember growing up, like my parents, we had all these social places. You know, we went to church for socialization. My dad was a member of the Elks and my mom had bridge club, and they had card parties, and they had all these different things they did to create a social fabric for themselves in their lives.

The generation we have coming up today have work and Facebook, right? So they’re not getting that face to face thing. And so there’s not even… That doesn’t mean that our parents were healthier in relationships necessarily because they had the social fabric. But there’s this lack of structural…

Laurie: Community.

Jason: …yeah, to where to go connect. And so we’re coming to work…so work is increasingly playing a bigger role in where we find community, where we make friends, where we meet people, where we meet people that we may want to date. Like all of these things are coming into it, which means the complexities of the workplace are going even…are even increasing, right? I mean all of this, we’re coming to work expecting that more and more and more and more, and work just isn’t…I mean, most workplaces, most employers are still running a model from 1920, right? And so the gap has been big. I think the gap’s getting bigger and it’s not a matter of incrementally changing things. We have to throw it out and start over with thinking differently, completely differently about what the workplace means and what employees need from that to stay.

Laurie: I think when you talk about work being community and work fulfilling a need in us to connect on a human to human level, that appeals to me and that speaks to me. But I come from a family of people who worked in factories and steel mills and candy factories. And so these factories…you know, think about, I’m from Chicago, right? We had the history of the Pullman train cars. And so companies would try to fulfill this need for community, for connectivity, for healthcare, for all education, all sorts of things, and then when profits went away and revenues dipped, the company, you know, packed up and left. And left all of these people emotionally and spiritually and financially bankrupted. So I worry about that with this generation that they’re coming to work, they’re looking for more from work, and you do have companies who are providing food. They’re providing networking opportunities. They’re providing educational resources. But if that goes away, we haven’t enabled this generation to go out on their own and recreate those communities. So I’m actually really worried about that.

Jason: And I agree with that. But I also think that, again, that’s another layer where I think employers have to think about their role differently. Like we have to be building better, more resilient human beings in our workplaces so that when that happens…because if you think about work as a relationship, I mean part of…you know, to your point about the individual, we suck at relationships in general as you know, you’re right. I mean, we’re not great at that. And so I know that, you know, I’ve been on this learning curve for a long time to figure this out and I feel like I’m getting better all the time. My wife, I think would consider me to be generally well-trained.

But, you know, I had a starter marriage and it failed and I learned a bunch from that early in my life or earlier in my life. And then I’ve had a bunch of other relationships and through those relationships I learned and processed that. And I had some people that helped me along the way. But you know, nobody’s…we don’t help people. We’re not teaching people how to be in healthy relationships or that part of a relationship isn’t always forever, right? I mean relationships start and they can be really great for a period of time, and then they go away. I mean, we have friends that come into our life and are there like all the time and then they’re gone at times. We have people that come in and out, and so if work is a relationship, it’s going to be like that.

And so I do think that part of our role as employers, we need to be thinking about how do we help people understand how to be in better relationship with other humans, with the organization. It all extends the same thing. How do we help them understand that relationships come and they go, and they end, and when they end, it’s gonna hurt and it’s gonna suck, and you grieve it. And then you have to move on and you have to find, you know, [crosstalk 00:15:11].

Laurie: Yeah, wait, wait, who does that in an organization? Who’s the guy or the lady that is, you know, chief relationship officer? Because it certainly isn’t your local HR lady or your local business partner who is trying to get payroll done, doing succession planning and doing, you know, a talent review on top of dealing with, you know, me too issues that are in the workplace, right? So who’s the chief relationship officer?

Jason: Well, I think it has to be…well, it should be your CEO, right? It has to start at the top because, this is a cultural shift, and it’s probably a seismic cultural shift. And you’re right, it’s not the local HR person, but it probably should be eventually, or not chief but I mean the… One of the things that I talk about all the time, I advocate for with HR, is that we need to be studying different things, right? We’re running the same playbook instead of studying best practices and what all these other companies before us have done, you should be studying behavioral economics, and psychology, and sociology, and understanding human beings and how they interact with each other and how they interact with the world. That’s what should be guiding how we’re thinking about building organizations as we go forward.

It’s just not enough of that there. And I understand like, listen, I’m an idealist and so I can sit on the outside and say that because I don’t have to deal with all the…you know, I don’t have to process payroll and I understand the reality of all of that, but it’s not long before most of that stuff will be outsourced. And you can outsource a lot of it. If you can get over your insecurity of making yourself a little less depended on. You can let go of a lot of that stuff. Let legal deal with some of this other stuff, that there’s legal, like, we don’t need to do some of that stuff. We can get working on the human stuff, so.

Laurie: Well, I like your recommendations on behavioral economics. I think those are good recommendations for anybody really who’s active and wants to own their career and be part of a new talent-driven economy. So do you have any authors that you’d like to recommend who’ve written really great books on the psychology of work or the psychology of money? I know I like our good friend Dan Crosby, who wrote, “The Laws of Wealth.” I think that’s a really great book and he’s got a lot of really great resources, a YouTube channel, all sorts of cool things. Dan Ariely is another one. I love him. You got any other names?

Jason: Ariely is usually who I point people to as a starting point because there’s so much content there. I also tend to like books like…and these aren’t necessarily purely behavioral economics, but they kind of get at decision sciences, like, “Freakonomics.” The Heath Brothers have some really good stuff out there. I mean, there’s just… So it’s really understanding how human being… The thing that has always stuck Ariely I always love just because this notion of predictably irrational, like, we are not rational beings but we are predictably irrational. And once you understand that, what you can do around designing work and designing workplace is pretty phenomenal.

Laurie: Awesome. Well, before we take a break, I have one quick question about crisis and work because I think we’re having a lot of different crises at work right now. We’re having the, me too crises. We’re having a crisis in leadership. We’re having a crisis in the way that we educate our workforce. But a lot of people talk about a crisis in trust right now, a crisis in trust of institutions. Do you have any thoughts on that, maybe how we could fix the level of trust and maybe potentially fix work?

Jason: We definitely have a crisis in trust. I mean, one of the most depressing things I’ve read this year is the Edelman Trust Barometer, the new study. I mean, every year that comes out and it’s getting worse and [crosstalk 00:18:59] it’s really bad. So I think, you know, there’s some really good stuff, you know, I’ve gotten to because it almost is cliché or overdone, but I really like, “The Speed of Trust” model, the Stephen M. R. Covey stuff. I mean it’s, like you said, Covey, it’s like how many times can we recommend Covey, but…

Laurie: Oh my God but wait, every time my husband and I make a decision, we just knock it out. We go speed of trust. Like we joke about it, you know, like, “Do we need a new fridge?” “Yes, speed of trust,” something like that.

Jason: And the thing I love about that model is that that book in particular breaks down sort of where trust comes from and how it works because there’s some real science underneath trust that’s about, you know, the consistency and competence in these different things transparency. But then also, like, “Here’s the 13 ways that trust is built.” And I think if you can diagnose, you can follow that, but it’s really, really good and it’s a nice simple framework and you don’t need to overcomplicate it’s, like, start with that. I think that’s a pretty good playbook.

Laurie: Yeah, that’s great. Well, listen, when we come back from the break, we’re gonna talk about your starter marriage. No, I’m just kidding.

Jason: Fair enough…

Laurie: We’re gonna talk about fix work and whether we can really fix it or if we can just fix ourselves, and then we’re gonna talk about paying the bills while still dreaming. So everybody sit tight. We’ll be back in a moment with, “Let’s Fix Work” and Jason Lauritsen.

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Laurie: Welcome back everybody. I’m Laurie Ruettimann and this is, “Let’s Fix Work” and today’s guest is Jason Lauritsen. And Jason, it’s weird to say this but we have a weird and strange connection in that you know one of my cousins that I actually like, so I feel like we’re family.

Jason: Like third cousins two or three times removed, something like that?

Laurie: Well, you know, I have a million cousins and I often like to make fun of them and talk about how they’re addicted to Facebook, and they drink too much, and that is true, but that’s not true for that one cousin. So you’ve got one of my good ones.

Jason: Yeah, she’s a good one for sure.

Laurie: Thank you. Thank you. Well, listen, again, you’re a middle-aged white guy, right? You don’t like working. You’re an entrepreneur. You’re pushing yourself towards self-employment and consulting all the time. So there are people out there like you like me who maybe have kids, maybe are in their 40s, and they like to dream, but they don’t know how to do. And so their job sucks, they’re stuck, or at least they’re stuck in their minds. Do you have any advice for them, any insights on how to make that jump or if they even need to make that jump to entrepreneurial-ism?

Jason: Yeah. First I would say just, I do love to work. I just don’t love working for other people.

Laurie: Thank you for clarity.

Jason: I love working. I mean, in fact my kids would say I probably work too much. They can’t quite…although it’s a mystery to them what I do exactly. It’s a mystery to everybody except my wife.

Laurie: Can you explain it and…

Jason: We talk about that. Like my parents don’t understand. Nobody understands really what I do that kind of generally. So it’s a mystery.

Laurie: My grandmother always thought I had a career in Facebook.

Jason: You know, whatever makes…

Laurie: I wish I had those stock options, you know.

Jason: Whatever makes it work, you know, as long as she’s proud and happy, that’s the important thing.

Laurie: Totally, she was.

Jason: So, you know, I think this is a good…I was actually just having a conversation yesterday with someone about this topic. And I think there are a lot of…so there’s a different…there’s two different things like, you know, the dream, how do you connect the dream? Was like first off, you know, a lot of people like to dream and dreaming is fun, but I think there’s a difference between dreaming and planning.

And so, you know, it’s one thing to dream, you know, it’s nice to buy the lottery ticket and think about what you would do with that. But it’s also…this friend of mine I hadn’t seen in years, we were talking and she said, you know, one of the things she always admired about me, she said, “I knew like you always had…like you knew where you were going. You had this big picture plan and you knew where you were going. And like you could always…like, it was just very clear that you were moving with intention.”

And so I think it’s writing…you know, what I generally recommend for people is to sit down and do some writing out, like in 10 years if everything went ideally, here’s where I would be. The problem is most people go, “I have no idea. Like I have no idea what that is.” And so the first thing, rather than, you know, dreaming about something that’s completely disconnected or that’s more…you know, there’s pipe dreams and then there’s the dream that is real or realizable. And so I think that starts with most people aren’t then willing to do the next step, which is a whole bunch of self-awareness and self-assessment work, a lot of reflection. The book that I have recommended a billion times, and it sounds cheesy as hell, every time I do it is, “What Color is Your Parachute?”

Laurie: Oh my God, that book is Great, [crosstalk 00:24:42].

Jason: It’s amazing. It sounds cheesy and people avoid it, self-help, whatever. But I’ve recommended that book more than any other book ever. Every time I run into somebody I’m like, “Take it.” And I’m like, “Don’t just buy it and scan it. Like do the work.” If you do the work, you’ll come out of it with one of two things. You’ll either come out of it with clarity about like what’s next and where you’re going, or you’ll come out and you’ll have very clear realization as why you’re so damn confused because it doesn’t make…maybe it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but then you can bring other people into it as they recommend and you have people look at it. I use that and that really helped me focus my career a number of years ago.

So I think…so number one, you have to get clear or you have to spend some time really sorting for where do you really wanna go, because if you don’t know where you’re going, then you’re just adrift. But then I think after that is most people make it…wanna make it into like an all or nothing. And one of the books that changed really, I thought it was so awesome because it reflected my own experience and some of the mistakes I made was, “Originals,” by Adam grant where he unpacks the whole notion that like you can start this side hustle, right?

So if you’re working in a job that you don’t really feel and you’re not liking it, but you need the money, it’s like fine. Find a way to do at least a little bit of what you love on the side, and as you figure out if you…you know, maybe it’s a side hustle, maybe it’s not, maybe it’s teaching dance or maybe it’s a coaching or reffing. I have a friend of mine that refs kid’s basketball because he loves basketball and he wants to be connected with it. And so that balances it out.

Laurie: So some people used to call side hustles, hobbies, like that happened to having a hobby. So if you’re disconnected with work and work isn’t doing it for you, go take a class, go to the library, go volunteer. Where does that play into part of the ability for people to connect with themselves in a different way?

Jason: I think both are important. I mean, to me a side hustle is you’re chasing dollars, right?

Laurie: Yeah, true.

Jason: It’s connected to your career, your future career trajectory, whereas a hobby or all of that…all of that is important. I think, again, a lot of this…and you alluded to this a couple of times today, is that I think most people aren’t spending the time to get clear on what they want. And so when you don’t give any thoughts, you don’t spend time to thinking about what is it that I want to do? What is it that I’m good at? What is it that…you know, where am I going? If you’re not spending some time on that, then it’s…like, it seems silly to be pissed off that you ended up wherever. I mean, that you just ended up wherever and you’re not sure how you got there or why you got there and you don’t like it. It’s like, well, of course because you weren’t on a path anywhere. You weren’t making decisions with any intention. And that doesn’t mean you have to have a 10 year plan. I realize I am insane that way. Like not many people do that. But knowing at least sort of generally speaking, like why I really liked this kind of work, so I’m going to go that way. But I think the other side of it is paying attention to your own well-being. I mean, most people don’t even know what makes them happy. And so that’s where the self-reflection and self-assessment comes in. Like, what does…

Laurie: Most people don’t even go to the doctor. You know, they don’t take enough time to be mindful and present enough to know what’s going on right in front of their eyes, let alone take 10 minutes, you know, on the toilet when their kids aren’t screaming, and think about, like, “Hey, what do I wanna do when I grow up?” Because it seems like the immediate present existence is going to be the future. We’re so bad at predicting the future that we don’t even give ourselves an opportunity to dream a little, and then from there write down a couple of things to follow, an action plan. We don’t do it.

Jason: Well, the other thing I think that’s helpful and usually people’s head explode when I tell them this, and this could also have something to do with why I’m not long-term employee material. But I’m also very conscious of the trade-off that I’m making, and I think most employees are way, way too, too wrapped up in their employer and they give away a lot more ownership of their soul than they need to. And so, you know, I never had a problem with work-life balance at least in terms of time because I’m, like, “Listen, I understood it as a contract and so I did my part of the contract.” And I’m like, “That’s all you get. If you want more then we can renegotiate, but this is how…” you know what I mean?

Laurie: Yeah, I do.

Jason: Or when they would… Like, I’ll never forget, I had a colleague who was coming in, he was all wrapped up about…his team was struggling and they were complaining because they were understaffed and he was worried about adding a couple more staff because of the, you know, like the impact to our overall profit line or whatever. And I’m like, I said, “Are you on a different bonus plan than I am?” And he looked at me and I said, “How much of the profits do you get back directly?” And he said, “Well, no, none.” I said, “Well then what the hell are you waiting for? Like, why are you punishing these people to make someone else rich?” I’m like, “That’s stupid, like fight for your people.” And then he’s like…like a light bulb went on and he’s like, “Oh.” And then he went back and he hired some people. So I think you have to keep in context like part of it is, part of…you know, we do create some of our own mess as employees for sure.

Laurie: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I was thinking as you were talking about the difference between a side hustle and a hobby and how a hobby can easily become a side hustle. And you know, I’ve got that story in my own life when I was working at Pfizer. I was depressed and bored and traveling all over the world and delivering bad news. And I started blogging because one of my ex-boyfriends had a blog and I thought, “God, if that idiot can do it, I can do it too.” So I started keeping this blog, which was really just a diary of going to London, and going to Rome, and going to Belgium, and totally sharing too much stuff that I could have been fired for it. But from there I realized I liked to write. I can tell a story. I have something to say about work, and life and my hobby became a side hustle and ultimately it became my full time career.

And so I think there’s a message in that like you can take this little thing that you do, give it some time and almost work at it in private. You know, not everything has to be publicly exposed, right on all of our social networking apps. So if you can hone something in private and really enjoy it, it could potentially change your life. And I don’t know about you if you’ve had that experience of doing something small that’s changed your life, but for me that one act of signing up for blogspot.com was everything. And I had no idea. I had no idea.

Jason: I mean, I look back on…I get asked all the time as a, you know, as a professional speaker, they’re like, “How did you start this? Like how’d you get into this?” And I’m like, “Well if I tell the story, it’s just sort of silly.” Like, you know, I can look back and it’s like, well, this is probably something I should have been thinking about. I was really, really good at speech when I was in high school, you know. But like nobody said, “Well, you know, you could do this.” It didn’t make any sense. It wasn’t until…it was through volunteerism. I mean, it was through being involved in the community. And then there was an opportunity to do some speaking, some advocacy, and then realized, like, “You know, I’m pretty good at this.” And then it led to…you know, I mean, just sort of one thing after another, but you’ve got to put yourself out there. You have to be active. And I think that…no, you’re absolutely right, follow your instincts.

And the other thing is, I think there’s such a power in just doing something, right? If you’re stuck, if you feel stuck, pick any action and do something, update your resume or go get involved in a…or go by the, “What Color is Your Parachute,” and put aside a couple hours, or go get involved in something, or volun…whatever.

Laurie: Yeah, no, volunteer. I heard that come out of your mouth.

Jason: But take some action because you’ll immediately start to feel better because you’re doing something. Like that forward momentum starts…now that may not solve it long-term, but you start to feel…like, just get unstuck. Because once you get unstuck, opportunities start to show up.

Laurie: That’s amazing. So before we wrap up here, I would really like to know a little bit more about your speaking career and your trajectory because one of the questions I get on a daily basis is, how did you start speaking? And you alluded to it, that it was kind of like something that you fell into and it’s something that I fell into too, and I really have not had to cultivate it. I’ve been really lucky and, you know, I’ve been invited to speak at some fabulous places, like in the next couple of months I’m in Calgary, I’m in South Africa, I’m in Half Moon Bay. I’m like going there really glorious places. I have not done the work that a professional speaker does. I’m just, you know, #blessed. But there are people out there who really put time and consideration into their speaking career. Are you one of them?

Jason: I am. Yeah, there came a point where in my life where I realized like this is what…and that’s where like in my business, a lot of people speak as part of their business. Speaking is my business and I also do some other stuff. And I had to make that conscious choice about 18 months ago, and I’d been building towards that. And I wish I had sold out to it about five or six years ago, full time, because it’s like anything that…once I realized and I started being more intentional about it, like for me, I also…when people ask me about speaking, I talk about…you know, I can talk about like how I will develop material. I talk about how I think about preparation and the performance side of it. I’m very…you know, one of the things that a lot of people don’t, I think, don’t appreciate is that when you choose to be a professional speaker, your eyes have to be open about your audience and what people are hiring you for. Because the way that I rationalize what I do is that, like in any room for every 100 people, there’s probably 85 of them who are there just to be entertained. They want the ride to be enjoying, enjoyable, right.

Then there’s another, let’s call it 13, who are interested, are learners and maybe will take some notes with some intentions that they’ll do something with it, and they’ll write down some notes and then they’ll leave and do nothing. And then there are one or two in the room that need something and that I’m going to give them something that day that changes their trajectory. They will go back, change their life, change their organization, something will happen. And I do it for that one or two. That’s, for me, that’s where my passion is. I do it for the one or two because of that change. But I have to entertain the other 97.

Laurie: Wait, wait, wait, where’s the one guy who’s actively hostile in the audience, where does he fall into consideration because [crosstalk 00:36:00] that long, right?

Jason: Well, the actively hostile is in the 85. It’s just you never win, which is another…like I stopped reading…I don’t read feedback anymore. I stopped a long time ago of speaker feedback because usually I obsess over the negative feedback and I don’t care about that person. I mean, like, I’m never going to make you happy. So I had lost before I showed up. So there’s no point in me obsessing over your feedback. So I don’t read it. I have somebody else read and just tell me if anything…I screwed up anything terribly.

Laurie: Yeah, that makes sense. Well, I’m really fascinated and I’m encouraged that you talked about the entertainment aspect of it because so many people would write to me and say, “Oh, I really wanna do what you’re doing. I really wanna speak.” And part of it is following your passion and having a message. But part of it is that preparation to get up on stage, to own your voice, to be able to project in the right ways, to understand what makes good stage presence. And I’ve done a tremendous amount of work as have you, I’m sure, and invested in Improv classes, standup classes, speaker coaches, all these different things to make it look as if it’s effortless to stand in front of a group of 1000 people and not break a sweat. So before we end, any quick speaker tips from anybody who’s in the audience thinking, “I can do that guy’s job.” What does it take to do your job?

Jason: Well, you know, it’s funny, I actually I just wrote a post about this because I get asked this frequently. And I would say the things that it boils down to for me is that I think the difference…a couple things, I think one is you have to treat it as…you have to appreciate that it’s a balance of content and art, right? It’s performance and content, and so you have to work at both. And from a content perspective…you know what I tell…you know, the way I…and I wrote this out, the way I develop stuff is I literally script things verbatim and then I refine and refine and refine, and then I program and program and program, and then eventually it comes to where that language is in my brain. I don’t have to think about it so that when I’m up there, the content’s there, I can be focusing on my audience, I can be focusing…because I think about when you’re speaking is, it’s like dancing. So you’re dancing with your audience.

And so, like I can lead and my job is to lead most of the time. But if your audience stumbles or trips or steps on your toe, like you have to know how to respond and react to that. And if you start to lose them in a particular way, you have to feel that and then bring them back, and then you can’t be thinking about…you can’t be in the dance if you’re thinking about the steps. So that’s a part of it. The other part of it is I think just you got to get out and do a lot of speaking. I mean, it’s the…I don’t know whether it’s 10,000 hours, maybe it is, but you just got to go. And when you’re first getting started, you gotta find stages and get out there and be bad for a while until you get good.

Laurie: Yeah. You can’t be afraid to fail. No, that’s true. Well, Jason, why don’t you tell everybody where we can find you on the internet?

Jason: Well, the easiest place is my website is jasonlauritsen.com, or you can punch my name into your Google search box and about 42 ways to find me will come up there. You know as you are, it’s important not to be hard to find, so I’m pretty easy to find.

Laurie: Hey, everybody. Welcome back. I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Jason Lauritsen. God, I love that guy. He’s so pragmatic, and down to earth, and plainspoken, and yet he’s enough of a hippie that he actually believes that work can be fixed and he’s out there on the front lines talking to leaders, talking to executives, having important conversations to remind them that you’re a human being and that workers deserve a better experience.

I also love that conversation because Jason was candid and talked about his own experience in the workforce and why he struggled as a full-time employee and why he’s better off as a consultant. And that I loved the fact that he gave out a ton of resources, a ton of books. We’re gonna link to all of that in the show notes, and certainly if you want to meet Jason, just Google him. He’s at jasonlauritsen.com. If you struggle to meet him and want his super secret email address, I’ll give it to you, like just email me and let me know. But Jason is definitely someone that you need to be connected to because he is committed to fixing work.

So on behalf of Jason and on behalf of my production team at One Stone Creative, I want to thank you for listening today. You know, ultimately, we can fix work. I believe it, but we have to do it together and it’s really just one step at a time. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time on, “Let’s Fix Work.”

Automated Voice: If you’re ready to make a real change in your workplace, start today by subscribing to this podcast, and help us get the word out by leaving a review.

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The first season of Let’s Fix Work is wrapping up because I’m having gallbladder surgery. We’ve had some fabulous guests, including Scott Stratten of UnMarketing. Here’s the show if you missed it. The transcript is below.

Laurie: Hi everybody, welcome to, “Let’s Fix Work”. I’m Laurie Ruettimann. I’m really glad you’re here for today’s first episode with a guest. It’s a pretty exciting milestone in my life, although, I’m sure you’re busy with your job, and your crappy career, but I couldn’t be more pleased to talk to Scott Stratten today. I don’t know if you know him, you could find him anywhere on the internet under the moniker UnMarketing. But Scott and his wife, Allison, are on a mission, to get rid of mediocrity in marketing.

It’s interesting, it’s an interesting mission, but, you know, I don’t really care about that. I wanted to talk to Scott because he really hated work, it was broken for him, and his solution was to burn it all down and build it back up. In today’s conversation, we talked about Scott’s origin story. He offers advice on how you can burn it down and build it all back up again, and then finally, we just talk about work and life, and being decent human beings, and I think it’s a pretty good conversation.

What I think is also very interesting, is that Scott was so willing to be part of my origin story, my reinvention on this platform, and we had never met in real life. We’ve known of one another for over a decade, but we have never had a conversation until today. And I think you’ll see that prove out at some point, but I hope you enjoy this, and I’m really looking forward to your feedback, and I’ll be back at the end to wrap things up.

Female: Work is broken, so is the way you think about it. Host Laurie Ruettimann is breaking things down, so you can put them back together and make work something you can enjoy, let’s fix work together. With the, “Let’s Fix Work” podcast, here’s Laurie.

Laurie: Hey everybody, I’d like to welcome Scott Stratten, to the “Let’s Fix Work” podcast. Hello Scott, how are you?

Scott: I am fantastic, and the only caveat for this whole interview is I just don’t work. It’s gonna be a weird, weird thing for people, but I’m highly unemployable.

Laurie: That’s all right, that makes two of us, kindred spirits, that’s right. So, I have a history in my life of burning things down and building it back up, and I feel like your origin story is similar to mine. Some people hate work like I do, and dream of burning it all down and building it back up. And I thought maybe you could tell us a little bit about who you are, and how you came to be.

Scott: Sure. For me, it’s been a, you know, barely made it out of high school and barely made it out of college, but I could speak in front of a room, so that got me through it. I could wing it with the best of them, and I never got nervous, which is not a skill, it’s a missing synapse in my brain that, you know, it says, “Crap your pants, when you get off there,” but I used it to my advantage. Early on I knew two things, when I was 12 years old, I wanted to be a speaker, which is rare for a 12-year-old, to want to be able to be a speaker on stage.

I just saw Les Brown on TV and I’m like, “I want to do that, you know. You can go to yell at people and then go home, how do I do that?” And I realized part of that was gonna be training, training is the paid side of that type of stuff, and you get to talk to people. I knew I wanted to do that, but I also knew that training was under HR usually, and so, I also knew I loved, at the time, people, and sticking up for what’s right. You know, human rights or Employment Standards and all, that really meant a lot to me.

For my 16th birthday for Christmas, I asked for a textbook on the Employment Standards Act in Canada, and yeah, right? I got issues.

Laurie: Pretty nerdy, yeah. Yeah, right

Scott: Right, very nerdy I was, and so I went to college. I went to Sheridan College, which is just down the street from me now, for Human Resources, and, you know, I was late to class, but I would stay after class and talk to the professor about issues in HR and they’re just like, “What is this guy doing?” I went into the field, I graduated from Sheridan with HR. I was at Goodwill Toronto’s head office. I was an HR generalist, and I had to get out of it because I realized I didn’t like it at all, and I realized that HR, at least where I was, wasn’t about the people, it was about management and what they wanted.

Laurie: Did you ever feel as if there were an opportunity where you could have stepped in and made HR more employee-focused?

Scott: Absolutely.

Laurie: Was there any opportunity at all for you?

Scott: No. No. I wanted… I said I could make this better, and it was just nope, you will do what you’re told, you know. I remember we caught an employee stealing from the cash register at one of our stores, and you’re stealing from Goodwill, like, you know, you’re going straight to hell for this and…

Laurie: Or you’re super hard up and sad.

Scott: Right, right, either way, it’s a problem. And so, the manager called me and we split half the stores in Ontario, so I was half of them and my colleague was the other half and this is my store. She says, “What do I do?” I said,” Oh, we’re gonna terminate her,” you know, zero tolerance itself, but what people don’t realize is Goodwill here was unionized, the Teamsters Union. We had to go to arbitration and I drove to a, you know, three hours away, and did arbitration in some Ramada Inn somewhere, and the whole day we’re in it, my boss was there and I was there, and I’m totally… I had witnesses, I have the cash registers tape, I had everything.

At the end of the day, the lawyer for the Teamsters came up to us and said, “All right, 5,000 and she walks.” I’m like, “If she pays us 5,000, it doesn’t even cover our legal fees.” He looks at me and goes, “No, you moron, you pay her 5,000, she’ll drop the grievance and she’ll quit.” I’m like, “Not on your life,” and my boss said, “Do it.” And I turned to her I said, “What are you talking about?” She says, “Do you wanna go to our president of a non-profit and tell why we had to spend an extra $20,000 in legal fees and you could have settled it for $5,000?” and I’m like, “It’s the principle.”

She looks at me and goes, “There’s no such thing.”

Laurie: Wow. That is depressing.

Scott: And that’s when I knew, I couldn’t do it do what I wanna do, and that’s…I wasn’t in there to be a yes-man. I was there to affect change and make people want to work there even more, and that just wasn’t gonna happen. I went and looked for openings, and I knew I had to leave by that point, and I lasted two years and then I looked for a training job, and I got the job as a national sales training manager for a packaging company. I flew around North America, training people how to sell bubble wrap. I’m like, “If you think what you sell is hard…”

Laurie: Yeah, yeah , yeah. I’m an HR blogger, I know what I sell is hard, but bubble wrap is harder. How do you sell bubble wrap, like any tips?

Scott: I sold air, yeah. So I ran two-day trading schools on this crap, like, I was 16 hours of content.

Laurie: Wow.

Scott: Like, if you think you can fill time, you got nothing on me. I did that for two years and then Owen, who’s now 16, was about to be born, and I went to the president who called me Chris, for I don’t know why. And I sat down, I said, “I’m not gonna do this job. I’m not gonna fly around all the time over weekends to save the company money and all this, and then come in 5to work 40 hours a week. I’m a trainer, there’s only so much I can do in the office and I’ll keep doing this.” We had just won an award for the industry, like, it was going great, and I said, “My son’s being born next week, and I am not gonna be doing this.”

And he said, “I don’t think we’re ready for the telecommuting stuff, Scott,” so Chris…becoming Chris, I think, at the time and then…

Laurie: Wow, yeah, yeah.

Scott: And I said, “Okay, well, I’m done,” and I quit, and I had 64 cents in the bank, which is not an advisable cushion level for that.

Laurie: Wait, can I ask a clarifying question?

Scott: Yeah.

Laurie: Sixty-four cents in the bank and your son’s about to be born?

Scott: Yes.

Laurie: Okay, all right, so then what happens, because you just burned it all down, right?

Scott: Oh, yeah, so I burned it… So I had four months of parental leave that we have here in Canada and then that was it, and I said, “I’m not doing this anymore,” I wasn’t gonna be the absentee father, bringing home the bacon, but on the road and I didn’t want to. And Owen was born, and then… So when he was born…I was building up, I was already starting to get a roster of training clients. I would be the training company and…

Laurie: Oh, is that the dream, you’re gonna be the trainer for the stars?

Scott: Yeah, I was gonna have my own training company, and it was gonna be HR training, it was gonna be diversity training and all this stuff, and I knew there was a need for it, and then 9/11 hit, and I lost the three training clients that I had already started and much more obviously, so much more minimal than obviously what happened, but everybody was affected by it. It was just like, “Okay, you’re starting again, again.” And so I just started thinking, “Okay, what am I gonna do?” I made some viral stuff online, it blew up, which made me into an immediate keynote speaker, because of these motivational videos I made, they were slideshows, they’re terrible, but they worked at the time.

Laurie: Yeah, and what year is this? Because the internet was horrible back then.

Scott: Oh, God, yeah, this is 2002, 2003. Like, it was Flash-based and not all browsers even had Flash installed and we had a pre-loading screen with a circle going around.

Laurie: The good old days.

Scott: But it got big in the HR circles, so I started getting phone calls. I got one from Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort that said, “We don’t know who you are, but my boss says you have to come speak to us, so just send us an invoice.”

Laurie: All right.

Scott: Okay.

Laurie: The business is born, that’s amazing.

Scott: Yeah, so it blew up, and I started making the videos for other people and other speakers, and then I ended up making one for Les Brown, who I saw on stage, and I ended up speaking at his event.

Laurie: Can you tell our audience who Les Brown is, and what he means to you?

Scott: Les Brown is one of the top motivational speakers out there, he’s like The Godfather of motivational speaking, and although I’m not a motivational speaker, per se, he’s one of the epitome of speaking. This passion on stage, his drive on stage is just something that I’ve always admired. It went from me watching him on TV when I was 12, to standing on stage with him at his event, you know, way down the road. And at the time when I was graduating, I was part of the HR Association here, Ontario, and I was on the committee to book speakers, so I saw the other side of the table of the industry, and I was the speaker chaperone and stuff.

And then fast-forward, six years ago, I’m the keynote at that event.

Laurie: Amazing.

Scott: Its 5,000 HR people in the audience, and it was just like, “What?” you know, it was so cool.

Laurie: Comes full circle, yeah.

Scott: Yeah, and so now you get to where I am now, which is I ran the agency for seven, eight years of viral videos. And then recession hit, nobody was in the market for overpriced, glorified slideshows anymore, and I had zero business, and I just said, “What is this Twitter thing, what’s this Twitter thing? Let me try this, see how it goes.” Because I’ve always been about community and the online community and what that could do, and so I just started going nuts on Twitter. In January 2009, I tweeted 7,000 times in a month and I went from a 1,000 followers to 10,000 followers, and realized there’s something here.

And like anything in business, it’s all a combination of luck, timing, and skill.

Laurie: That’s right.

Scott: And I blew up, and I always knew if you want to make enough noise, people will come to you, and I’m good at making noise. The publisher who I earlier approached and said, “Why haven’t you written a book yet?” And I said, “Why haven’t you offered me a book deal yet?” And they said, “Touché.” And I started writing on marketing, and it was a train wreck of 40,000 terrible words, and Alison came along, who I met on Twitter, and we were talking at the time on BlackBerry Messenger, on BBM, and I said, “I’m screwed. This book’s due in a week and I got…it’s terrible,” and she says, “Let me a have you look,” and little do I know, she’s a phenomenal writer.

And she turned it into 60,000 beautiful words, and I sent a tweet in January of 2010 to my followers, and said, “The book is coming out in September, who wants me to come to their City on the on book tour? Pre-order 100 books, fly me there, and put me up and I’ll do it.” It was a speaking tour not a book tour. All these social media clubs did it, and American Marketing Association’s did it. The reason why you had to find me there and put me up, is I had no money.

Laurie: Yeah, I see this being still, yeah, all right.

Scott: I was dumb and I didn’t save, I didn’t market, I didn’t do anything and like I had nothing, and then I literally haven’t…after… So 30 cities signed up for it, 1 tweet.

Laurie: Okay, 1 tweet, 30 cities.

Scott: Thirty cities, half of those cities the people that put their hand up had never run an event in their life.

Laurie: Wow.

Scott: But they wanted to support the book and me, and honestly, no exaggeration, I haven’t stopped speaking since then. I’ve done 380 keynotes since then, it’s all I do now, for a living, I stopped consulting six seven years ago, I burned that down, because I hate it. I hate… I… I…

Laurie: Tell me what you hate about consulting, because I have killed my consulting business, mostly because I can’t stand to be around mediocre people, and I want more control over my day, so how about you?

Scott: Yeah, that’s… There you go. I was tired of helping other people’s businesses and them not doing anything with it.

Laurie: Yeah, they don’t deserve it.

Scott: No, and you know, back in those viral-video days and so when I was doing consulting then, we made one company $3.5 million in a week, over and above what they were making, so we increase the revenue which was the same as their annual revenue.

Laurie: Oh, my God.

Scott: And we got on a call the next week, so I was doing business consulting with them, and part of that was a weekly check-in call. And after that happens, they get on the call and they’re like, “Great, what’s next?” I’m like, “You should be sending me a check, for the next 10 years and never talk to me.”

Laurie: Yeah, yeah , you should be the new CEO.

Scott: Yeah, I just… And it was that, it was the home run every week, it was exhausting, and I just didn’t… I didn’t like it. I like it now, because I’m on stage and they can’t talk back to me. You know what I mean? I just…

Laurie: Every keynoter’s secret fantasy, that’s right. Yeah, that is.

Scott: That is it. It’s a perfect life, I can yell what I think and then have no accountability, it’s glorious.

Laurie: So, you know, I hear this in you, this drive to be up on stage, to speak, to perform, but we’re in a weird state in our economy, where I don’t know, the rug is gonna get pulled out at any given time. At least, we feel that way here in America, many of us do. The thing that has been so special about this bubble, is that it’s pulled a lot of people forward, and we’ve all become performers, and artists, and creators, but eventually, it’s gonna end. What are you doing to make sure that you’re ahead of it, or do you not worry about it? Are you so secure that it’s no big deal?

Scott: Yeah, I…

Laurie: You’re gonna figure it out?

Scott: Yeah, and that’s the thing, is for me, like, I don’t have this endless drive, if that makes sense. I don’t have an endless drive for growth. I’m not that guy that’s like, we do…we are at this point, and let’s keep driving, let’s keep looking at all these things, and create new silos in our company, we can do the training stuff now, I can franchise the unmarketing name, I can do that. It’s not what I wanna do. And I just know that where I’m at now in business, if we took a 50% hit, we’re still fine. And like, you know, I don’t…

Laurie: Wait, are you fine, because you now have a life partner, who can also manage your finances a little bit like me, is that part of what’s going on here?

Scott: That’s a part of it, but it’s also that it’s doing so well. That I’m at a point in the career that I’m not naive enough to think that a recession type thing can’t happen again, but I also know that certain things and certain conferences will always go. That they were going in 2008, 2007, 2009 and, you know, we pull in a million dollars a year keynote speaking. I don’t know how much more I need, you know, and if we made a half million a year, I’d still be laughing and smiling. And…

Laurie: Right.

Scott: I have no want to do other, I don’t have a want to do more, and I’m living my dream. I’m living my dream from when I was 12 years old. And when I’m home, the kids get home from school… Like right here. I’m sitting in our front library of the house we bought, because of what we built.

And this is coming from somebody flying around on a prepaid credit card in 2010, to try to make a book tour stop, to now. To be living a dream is one thing, to realize you’re in it is another, and that, to me, is bliss, and I love this. People are like, “Well, you’re on the road, you do 60, 70 keynotes a year.” I might be on the road 150 days a year, but I’m home for 200 days of the year, and I’m home. I’m not working, I’m not consulting. I’m home all summer. Like, it’s glorious, and I don’t have that want to build more that would get in the way of that.

Laurie: I love it. You fixed work and your origin story is such a good lesson for people, about taking a risk and not being afraid to burn it down, to build it all back up. When we come back from a break, we’re gonna get lessons, and tips, and takeaways for our listeners. How does that sound Scott?

Scott: Let’s do it.

Laurie: All right, we’ll be right back.

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Laurie: Hey everybody, welcome back to the “Let’s Fix Work” podcast. I’m Laurie Ruettimann, with my guest, Scott Stratten. And for those of you who don’t know me and don’t know my history, I have never met Scott Stratten or had a conversation with him in real life. Scott, thanks so much for taking a risk, and trusting that I’m not some idiot or some moron who’s just wasting your time. That’s perfect, I appreciate that.

Scott: Oh, we’ve done our research, don’t worry. Only one idiot on this interview and that would be me.

Laurie: Well, thank you, you’re kind to say that, so, you know, there are people who are listening, who dream of just killing their career and starting over, and maybe they don’t want to be a keynote speaker, maybe they want to open up a frozen yogurt store or a cupcake shop. What advice do you have for people who are stuck at work, and what’s one way that they can start to gain momentum without lighting a match.

Scott: Right. I think one of the things is sometimes, what you think is the answer may not be the answer as well. I do…I am all the power to people who want to just burn it down and then go open that frozen yogurt stand, as long as you don’t call it Froyo, you know, that would be good. But…

Laurie: Is that your professional marketing advice right there?

Scott: It…100%, we put it in books, please don’t use it. It may all… It’s what is creating the frustration? What are you not getting fulfillment because of? Because sometimes, it’s not the fact of working or burning it down, it sometimes is there’s another issue. I want people to understand that sometimes, it could be issues at home, it could be issues with a certain team member or a boss, but burning it down which I did and I would do again in a heartbeat, is also very permanent. And so, you want to make sure that what I’m… If I’m not doing my calling, then I need to go do it, okay, but I would not advise any responsible human or adult to do it with 64 cents in the bank, that was dumb, that was irresponsible of me. But it also made me have no safety net, it made me work my ass off, to you know, get to where I needed to go.

Sometimes, what I did though before I burnt it down, I was already building the company, I had that, as we call it now, the side hustle, right? I was already building it and that was… So, when I did leave, I had immediately a entirely full business coaching/consulting game going, because I had built the following already, so when I left I had a… Because the hardest thing to do to me is building momentum, is building that platform up, that’s what takes the time. If you can build that starting, before you take the leap, you’re writing a blog, you’re creating a social media presence, whatever that’s gonna be, then when you do leap, there’s already people standing there to catch you, versus leaping and then and saying, okay…because then you’re rushed, then you’re panicked, and you can’t build community in a panic.

You can’t build it in a rush and that’s… Because I don’t think doing your own thing is for everybody. I don’t think…

Laurie: No, I don’t think so either.

Scott: I don’t think being an entrepreneur is for everybody. I think people like the idea of it somewhat, because they don’t like their boss, but being your own boss isn’t a treat either. I had that old great line, which is, “Entrepreneurs are the only people who would work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 for somebody else,” right? It’s just…

Laurie: It’s a great quote, yeah.

Scott: That’s what it means and that’s… I joke that I don’t work, and Allison gets mad at me for saying that, and she’s like, “You know, you never stop,” and my brain never stops doing stuff. It never stops reading, and consuming, and creating, but it’s not work, for me, and that’s really the skill and the dream, right? To find something you’re so passionate about, you’d do it for free, and then you make money doing it.

Laurie: Is that the dream, because I was a writer as a hobby while I was working in human resources, I was secretly blogging while working at Pfizer and I turned my hobby into my career, and now I’m fucking tired, you know, and it…

Scott: But there’s a danger.

Laurie: Yeah, exactly, exactly, so you burn out on your hobby.

Scott: You’re passionate about it, because you’re passionate. And so, we have that right now with our two oldest kids, we have five kids combined together with Alice and I, we had a merger a few years ago. It’s more of a hostile takeover and…

Laurie: Yeah [inaudible 00:22:32] you.

Scott: Yeah, we let a few kids go due to redundancy, but…

Laurie: Yeah, of course, right.

Scott: The danger here so… Our two oldest are both into music producing, they don’t stop. They’re just… So, our own sixteen year old upstairs just gets home from school, makes music every day, it’s the past year, I mean, he’s made 200 songs. Like, he just doesn’t stop. And Aiden, our oldest, is at college right now from Music Industry Arts, this is what he wants to go into. And I was talking to Owen the younger one and I said, “You love it now, and I fully supported you.” My background is from the music industry too, so I’m proud of it and I love it, but I said, “Understand the passion or a hobby, once it turns into a business, can feel different.”

Laurie: Yeah, absolutely.

Scott: Like, you’re making a song and you’re selling a beat to somebody once in a month and you got a hundred bucks, you’re like, “Nice,” and I’m like, and that’s great, but when you got to pay rent, and you got to do stuff that you don’t want to do to make that money, it sometimes can hurt the passion.

Laurie: That’s right, that’s right.

Scott: And it removes the passion from the equation, and then you’re like, I used to like this, you know.

Laurie: Have you given them any advice on how to find some balance with that. Is there any advice?

Scott: Well, part of it is just giving the advice that a parent gives, as good it doesn’t get listened to, you know, and that’s just how the game is. But the other part of it, is also introducing them to people in the field already to give the same advice that they’ll actually listen to. It’s like me going to do a keynote somewhere, and I’ll just parrot what one of the VPs said, and everybody’s like, “Yes,” and the VP’s like, “What? I’ve been saying that for a year.”

Laurie: Well, you learned how to do that from consulting, I think, there are some of that too.

Scott: Exactly. Exactly. You know, you’ll leave the company, come back as a consultant, now they’re listening to you, you know, and they pay you more, and that’s where… I always told him about, you know, it’s hard for me to tell anybody anything because I quit, you know, it’s with…when anyway…when he was born I had sixty cents and so it’s just like, you know

Laurie: The moral authority isn’t there.

Scott: Yeah, I don’t have that high ground to come down from. I don’t have the GPA or the transcript from college to say, “You need to do this.” I am a bad example, but what I said to him is, sometimes your passion doesn’t have to be the full-time job, sometimes your passion is always going to be your side gig, sometimes your passion is no longer passionate about it, and that’s okay. And our job as your parents is to try to get you into a school after high school that allows you to then still have avenues and opportunities, and not make that sound like me saying, “There’s no future in this.”

Laurie: That’s right.

Scott: Or “There’s no money in music,” because there isn’t, but the point is…there’s also no money in speaking.

Laurie: Yeah, there’s no money anywhere, right? I mean…

Scott: Right, right, it’s just us sitting there and like, “Oh, just take that money.” It’s just…

Laurie: No.

Scott: It rewards those who work, and if you have the… The self-drive has to be the thing that keeps pushing it. If I can get him to the point where I’m trying to get him to go into business in general first at college, and then go into the specialized music industry program, because until he can be self-sustaining, you’re gonna have to work for somebody else. And that means you might be getting coffee, or this, but if you have on your resume, it says, “I have a marketing degree or diploma,” you are more valuable to that music label that you wanna have your own one day and same as me.

I never wanted to be working for somebody, but I went to do it because I had to make money to keep living, and then my life span was just a lot shorter.

Laurie: Oh, my God, though, Scott you sound like such a dad, it’s unbelievable.

Scott: Yeah, weird, right? It’s…

Laurie: Yeah, it really it’s awesome and it’s I bet an interesting perspective to have, because you can probably think back on your own parental experiences and remember rolling your eyes, right?

Scott: Yeah, and my mom is also great at the fact that she just let me be Scott, and that was… And Alison even exponentially is even great at that as well, where she treats the kids as individuals and lets them be themselves. I wasn’t good at that as a parent, you know, my job as a parent was I said this and you just do it because I said so. And after meeting Alison and us moving in and getting married, and, you know, blending the families, it’s just like I’ve learned. I’ve learned that one of the best tools you can help…you can guide your children, but just let them be them. And I remember my mom telling stories of me just walking by puddles, and just stopping and sitting down and just kinda playing with a puddle. And then my brother would get furious at soccer games, because I’d be just pulling grass up instead of playing, and he was intense about it. And she just tells people, she’s like, “That’s just Scott being Scott.”

Laurie: I love it, that’s really great.

Scott: And today, I’m still Scott being Scott.

Laurie: Well, super inspiring Scott, and thank you for being my very first guest, on the “Let’s Fix Work” podcast. Why don’t you tell everybody where they can find you as if they don’t know?

Scott: Yeah, that’s right. If you can’t find me, you’re not looking hard enough. It’s Unmarketing kinda everything, so just you look that up on all the platforms, and on the podcasts is what the business show for the Fed Up that Allison and I do every week together.

Laurie: Yeah, are you going anywhere fun this year, taking a big vacation? Let’s talk about something just to wrap it up, that’s not work related.

Scott: Tomorrow, we head to Disney and we’re going on our fifth annual Disney cruise, tomorrow.

Laurie: Amazing.

Scott: I am so jacked up.

Laurie: I hope you don’t do any work, no work.

Scott: Zero.

Laurie: Perfect.

Scott: Phone is go into the safe, shipping barks, and that’s it.

Laurie: Oh, man, that’s the way to fix work by not doing any at all.

Scott: Yep.

Laurie: All right dude, well thanks so much for your time today, and everybody go find Scott Stratten at unmarketing.com. Scott, thanks again.

Scott: Oh, thank you.

Laurie: Hey everybody, I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Scott Stratten just as much as I did. God, that guy is interesting, and laid back and cool. You can hear it in his voice. He’s got command of that conversation. And while it’s true, that he’s done over 300 podcast episodes of his own, and he’s a professional keynote speaker, and I’m very, very new at this, you can definitely hear expertise, gravitas, leadership in his voice. And as I was listening to him, I was thinking about how many of you at work step over yourselves like I did on that podcast, you say too many words, you speak too quickly, you’re real eager to get in on a conversation.

Scott is not like that, he’s not leaning in, he’s saying what he needs to say, and he’s sitting back in his chair. If you could mimic anybody in terms of your communication style, go mimic Scott Stratten, he’s amazing. I’d like to thank Scott for his time today. You can follow him everywhere by following the moniker UnMarketing, and I’d like to thank Megan and Audra on my production crew, and thank you for your time. We’ll see you next time on “Let’s Fix Work.”

Female: If you’re ready to make a real change in your workplace, start today by subscribing to this podcast, and help us get the word out by leaving a review.

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Isn’t it about time we had a corporate mindset shift? Because come on! There’s more to work than giving the company your heart and soul. Jon Fortt, co-anchor of CNBC’s “Squawk Alley,” joins Laurie to talk about what’s going right, what went wrong, and what’s broken in the world of work. They talk about the reshaping of the traditional corporate mindset, #MeToo, wages, and the future of work.

  • Jon Fortt is the host of Fortt Knox, a podcast dedicated to interviewing the highest achievers in the business, entertainment, philanthropy, and sports industries. His show gives us a sneak peek into these industry giants’ lives and businesses while tackling the most interesting business and economic issues.
  • How can we emulate the best leaders in the industry? Jon shares his take on how today’s leaders are rethinking and reshaping the traditional corporate mindset. He shares how two outstanding leaders are breaking the mold of tradition with their business approach: Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, and Stitch Fix CEO, Katrina Lake.
  • The #MeToo movement and stagnant wages are big issues in the global community. Jon shares his thoughts on corporate culture and respect. He also talks about why leaders should have plans to address and mitigate these issues.
  • The tribe seems split when it comes to the flat wages issue. When labor demand is high but the employment rate is low, wages are at an all-time high. Although some companies are working to amend this for their employees’ benefit, others see it as more of an expense. Jon believes it shouldn’t be about hard data. Things like empathy and creativity are deeply important in any industry or organization.
  • Laurie and Jon talk about the future of work and what he thinks about the next 10-20 years. People are worried that robots will be taking their jobs, but Jon believes that isn’t true. Instead, he believes there’s plenty of space for people because businesses need employees who are able to think about how their job impacts their role, the CEO, and the business.

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This post is sponsored by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Working in HR, we often forget that wellbeing isn’t just about losing weight and feeling good about yourself. It’s about caring for your body, mind, and spirit to enhance and improve the quality of your life. And although the world is on a wellbeing kick, data still shows that most workers aren’t getting enough sleep.

That includes HR professionals.

I’m passionate about helping people get to bed at a decent hour, so here’s what I want you to do. Take your eyes off the computer screen right now. Look to your left, look to your right. One of you is tired, and it’s dangerous. Over 37 percent of are workers sleep-deprived and an estimated 13 percent of workplace injuries are attributed to sleep problems.

Working late nights might impress your CHRO or VP of Human Resources, but limiting your sleep can lead to trouble making decisions, solving problems and controlling your emotions. The cognitive and motor performance impairments caused by sleep deprivation can be comparable to drinking alcohol, which explains why so many HR departments are fraught with drama.

When you don’t get the recommended seven hours of sleep each night, there can be severe consequences. Sleep-deprived workers have a higher rate of presenteeism, so you show up to work but don’t function at your best. You will have trouble concentrating and making decisions. You also will struggle to think creatively and problem-solve with your colleagues in other departments. And you’ll make mistakes due to carelessness and exhaustion.

Productivity is impacted, too.

I don’t generally care about how much money a company loses on its employees, but the National Safety Council reports that fatigued workers cost employers anywhere from $1,200 to $3,100 per employee in declining job performance each year, while sleepy workers are estimated to cost employers $136 billion a year in health-related lost productivity.

Employers are wasting money on sleep-deprived workers when they could spend money on training and salary adjustments.

How do you fix this?

I’m eager to partner with The American Academy of Sleep Medicine to urge HR professionals to create a workplace climate that values the importance of sleep. How do you change your culture? Some companies limit after-hour email use. Other companies have aggressive PTO programs and prompt you to use your benefits through a series of incentives and rewards.

In whatever way you approach this topic, be creative. Don’t make this an HR initiative. Get your safety committee or site leadership team involved, ask your workers for input, and do whatever it takes to help your employees get enough sleep to improve the quality of their lives.

Be a force for good at work. Isn’t that what HR is all about?

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I think internet holidays like “National Mental Health Day” are essential, but I want to celebrate the day after National Mental Health Day because it’s in the quiet, dark moments — when there’s no fanfare, pageantry or hashtag — when people suffer.

What’s National Mental Health Day All About?

I’m here for memes and tweets and inspirational photos shared by Instagram Growth Services that encourage everybody to seek help and live their fullest lives. But now what? 

What do we do today, October 11th, when we return to our mobile devices, and the loneliness seeps back into our lives? Where do we go today if we’re feeling disconnected, depressed or, god forbid, suicidal?

Well, maybe we go back to our feeds and take advantage of all the mental health resources that were shared yesterday. Or perhaps we develop courage and reach out to our friends who said, hey, I’m here for you.

But what I fear is that National Mental Health Day is another collective moment where we think we’re helping but we’re not. Like when we put lead in milk and fed it to babies — or when we thought it was okay to cure a cold with cocaine — we’re using a device to address a problem that causes more harm than good.

What’s the Alternative?

I’m not saying a day of awareness is pointless. I’m just saying that maybe we ought to think a little harder about health outcomes before we jump on the internet — a failing social experiment that’s doing us more harm than good — and preach to no one in particular that “you matter” and “you should ask for help.”

Who are you talking to? Who do you think is listening? Aren’t you just talking to the vast tundra of your subconscious?

In answering those questions — and also reviewing your old Facebook posts, gaming history, YouTube posts, tweets, IG stories, snaps, WhatsApp messages, or even your old AOL history — you might find you’re talking to yourself about your well-being and asking for help while trying to help others.

How Do I Commit to Improved Mental Health?

So, if you are committed to National Mental Health Day, make it count. Put yourself first, take control of your time, and be your own best advocate. Stop talking to no one in particular on the internet and see a counselor, therapist, advisor, mentor, psychiatrist, or social worker. If you feel fine, great. Be a friend to someone in the real world who needs you.

Mental health improves and lives are saved because awareness turns to action. If you believe in National Mental Health Day, make every day — including the day after — a moment where you take a stand against the detachment and isolation that’s crept into our culture. And I think it starts by putting down your phone.

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Several years ago, I was at a party where a drunk man fell into my breasts. 

(Wait, let me back up and start this again.)

Several years ago, I was at an HR conference looking pretty fly for a woman in her late 30s. As a marathoner and a pilates enthusiast, I was training for a series of important events. Not only could I lift my weight and run over 20 miles with little notice, but I could also do pull-ups and push-ups for days. I was solid.

So, I was seated in a chair around a tiny table at a hotel lounge with several HR girlfriends when a lecherous dude came up from behind to “whisper in my ear” and say hello.

Has that happened to you? Some dude thinks it’s okay to invade your personal space and surprise you?

As I turned my head to figure out who’s crept up behind me, my hair got caught in this drunk HR dude’s tiepin. As I tried to untangle myself from his shirt, his face went into my breasts. Even though I’m strong, I struggled to push him off. His drink spilled on my dress.

The surrounding women gasped. And he laughed. A lot. And he never apologized. Tried to “talk it off” and pretend as if nothing happened with his eyes locked right on my breasts. It was so gross. What could I do? I was really embarrassed, but the damage was done.

Later that night, his only female coworker pulled me aside by an elevator and “apolo-splains” that he’s been drinking — they’ve all been drinking — and it was just an accident. 

Sure, it was an accident. I was there, I know what happened. I didn’t make a big deal out of what happened but said, “It’s not your job to apologize for his behavior.”

But, a few months later, I was banned from doing work at his organization. Blackballed out of nowhere because my brand contradicts his organization’s values. The message to vendors and partners was clear: companies who do business with both of us must choose because they can’t do business with his organization if they attach my name.

And I’m like — is this happening?

You bet it fucking did.

Now, maybe the two things aren’t connected, him falling into my boobs and me being blackballed. But that’s the thing about being a victim of aggressive male behavior, there is no explanation. None of it makes sense. All of it is punitive. And I’ve lost thousands of dollars in opportunities since that night because I didn’t just laugh it off and go with the flow.

Am I bitter? Yes and no. It’s been a while. Whenever I think about it, which isn’t often, I just pray for him in my atheist way and hope he doesn’t act like that with other women. What else can I do? That money is gone, and my name was sullied. Can I get a lawyer? Who do I sue? The patriarchy?

That’s the thing about being a woman, you learn to let this shit go.

But there’s a postscript to this anecdote. Eventually, the drunk HR dude left his job. You know where he went to work? The Trump administration. Of course he did. And it’s not like anybody called me and asked for a reference. No background check dug deep enough to find out if this little HR man was a vindictive, petty jerk.

So, here’s what I want you to know: I speak from a place of truth when I tell you that existing HR teams and associations can’t solve the problem of sexual harassment at work because they are the problem. They’ve been perpetuating and defending toxic workplaces from the start. These HR men who want to improve your company’s culture and fix work? They are jokesters and frauds, part of the same cultural phenomenon that created hostile work environments.

To fix work, all areas of HR must reflect upon on its complicity and acknowledge its level of guilt. Is that possible? Can HR departments and associations change? Sure, but I won’t hold my breath. When push comes to shove, one of the most influential HR professionals in the country was complicit in a campaign to stop me from earning a living after he fell into my breasts at an industry event. Nobody from his former company — not even the people who saw what happened — said a word.

Then he got a job in the Trump administration.

If that’s how HR works, you can count me out. I’m here for a new HR, but what’s being sold to us by hegemonic corporate interests isn’t it.

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Do you know the difference between wellness and wellbeing?

Wellness refers to physical health. When your employer talks about wellness, they want you to quit smoking and lose weight to bring down health insurance costs. You know what brings down health insurance costs? Better regulation of health insurance companies and medical providers. But, no, you have to lose five pounds and give up donuts. That’s wellness.

Wellbeing is more holistic and is used to talk about life experiences and feelings. Employers bucket wellbeing into three different categories: physical, emotional, and financial. Your company still wants to lower costs, but there’s a move to cost-per-employee as well as revenue-per-employee to engagement scores.

If you’re happy in those three buckets — and making “good choices” as defined by industry experts who understand healthy outcomes — you’ll make your company more money. If you’re not satisfied with life, your employer won’t be as profitable.

So, how do companies measure things like happiness and engagement?

Well, some employers partner with solution providers to send out surveys and then respond to the data. It’s programmatic and sometimes assumes the outcomes, or, at the very least, has a list of solutions for different scenarios.

Other employers will hire technology companies and look at your calendar — yes, your daily schedule — and try to understand what you’re doing with your day. Then they’ll swoop in with personalized recommendations on meeting with your manager more, finding a mentor, asking for feedback from your colleagues, getting more exercise, doing more meditation, taking a digital detox, or even recommendations for PTO.

And still other employers will use wearables like your badge to see if you’re stationary or getting up and moving around during the day. Google pioneered this with their cafeterias. They would monitor who was eating where, and they’d open and close lunch stations to encourage connectivity between different groups of workers. Wearables help employers monitor physical activity in a bunch of new ways. Now, your company wants you to get up and move around because sitting is the new smoking.

So, I’m here to postulate a new theory about wellness and wellbeing. The difference between the two is how the two are measured. Wellness is self-reported, and wellbeing is surveilled and diagnosed.

Employers are over employee engagement surveys and wellness programs because those are reactionary and, honestly, a lagging indicator of an organization’s wellbeing. They want to surveil you, diagnose you, and treat you before you even know what’s wrong. We live in a world of cameras, sensors, and data tracking tools. Pull everything together, and you get a predictive picture of what’s going right — and what could go wrong — with the biggest line-item expense in your budget.

Welcome to the era of employee wellbeing. Your company loves you and cares about you. And they’re watching your every move to prove it.

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