Relationships at Work - the Employee Experience and Workplace Culture Podcast

Unlearning and Unleadership at Work with Scott Stratten

January 02, 2023 Russel Lolacher Episode 46
Relationships at Work - the Employee Experience and Workplace Culture Podcast
Unlearning and Unleadership at Work with Scott Stratten
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with six-time best-selling co-author, podcast host and keynote speaker Scott Stratten on the impacts of bad leadership and how unlearning and unleadership (defying traditional norms) is the path to better relationships at work. 

Scott shares his thoughts, stories and experience with...

  • How bad and good experiences can have life long impacts to employees.
  • Why treating people well isn't a campaign.
  • How "unlearning" can help leadership.
  • How selfish leadership can hurt a company culture.
  • What to do if leadership doesn't want to model good culture.
  • How Stop, Start, Continue can help your leadership

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For more, go to relationshipsatwork.ca 

Connect with me for more great content!

Russel Lolacher 
Over there in the chair, it's Scott Stratten. Well, virtually anyway, and here's why he is awesome. He's a very successful and in demand keynote speaker. He's the co-creator and president of and marketing for two decades. Happy milestone, by the way this year.

Scott Stratten
Thank you, thank you.

Russel Lolacher
He's just trying to build a better business world based on integrity, community and authenticity. "Just". I'm putting that right in there. Like it's an easy goal. He's a 6-time best selling co-author of books focusing on ways we need to stop doing what's been done before. And he's the co-host of UNpodcast, the business podcast for the fed up with his partner and co conspiracer...co-conspirator... Of course, I got to put a damn word in the script that I can't even pronounce. Of all things Alison, and his co-creator of all things with Alison, and I'm gonna stop talking and get over to Scott. Hello, Mr. Stratten.

Scott Stratten
What's up? You know, I think we could we're covering almost the entire country Canada right now. I think from our reach here, we're almost actually go farther east coast and then we're just like, hands across Canada. It's perfect.

Russel Lolacher
I love that it started Kumbaya. I appreciate that.

Scott Stratten
Right. Yeah, I think we're gonna have problems in certain sections. You know, it's like the Rockies are gonna really hard to hold hands over and stuff and then you know, and then but you know, it's gonna be in northern Ontario is a big, you know, anyway. But Tears are Not Enough. As long as we know, Tears are Not Enough. That's that's that's what we need to know. As a Canadian, We Are the World, Tears are Not Enough.

Russel Lolacher
And there's so many Americans listening going, "I have no idea what that means."

Scott Stratten
It's just the Canadian version of We Are the World. And if you're if you're our age, you know, you certainly Bob Geldof started, you know, a big trend of obviously, with Live Aid and everything. It's just like I showed the kids that a few weeks ago, actually, some of like we are The world ain't gonna place on city. Tears are not enough, like some Farm Aid stuff. And he's just like, I'm like, this was the 80s Man, we just, you know, when we protested, we threw concerts. You know, that was just like, that was the case, we had star studded music videos. And they went over so much better than like the "Imagine"one that Gadot and all those people did at the start of the pandemic, it was you know, it was different. It was different.

Russel Lolacher
It was a hands across the webcams is not exactly...

Scott Stratten
Doesn't have the same, same connection to it does it. No, no.

Russel Lolacher
Scott, I have to start off with the question I ask all guests, which is what's your best or worst employee experience, sir?

Scott Stratten
You know, it's funny, because like, some of my best stories, and the ones I tell on stage are from the time when I was a teenager. And one of the the dangers you get with it, people are like, well, it's not relevant, though. It's not right. But it's literally definitive for the workplace for me. And it's actually one of the things I do talk about on stage and I'll give you an abridged version with a lot less you know, Scott theatrics than I do in full jazz hands on stage. But we all have those jobs that... well, I'm sorry, we don't all but most of us have those jobs that stand out for us. So it could be your first job. It can be the place where you met somebody or a significant other or a boss was really good or really bad. We tend not to... just like the reason we go to Yelp to review places, we tend not to review average places when we tend not to remember average people necessarily. We remember the ones that affected us, good and bad. And that really for me, comes down to working at Famous Players movie theater here in town where I live in Oakville, just west of Toronto. And like I had, as Wayne's World had said I had many name tags and hair nets in my career. I worked in McDonald's, I worked at Red Lobster, I worked as a busboy, a server, a cashier retail service, like so I did the minimum wage circuit. And the one that really stood out for me, where I'm also still friends with people from, is that movie theater. And when I was between 17 and 20 or 21, when I worked there, and I was a triple threat of terribleness working there - I was a bad box office attendant, I was a poor concession worker and I was a terrible lazy usher at this place. You know, I was hired to play softball, I was a ringer and I went 0 for six by the way my first game so let's not get that all out of context here. I just told them I could play like that was my interview. "You play softball?" "Yeah." "What do you play?" "First and outfield, I'm a lefty." Like "cool, you're hired." like that? It's not like I wasn't going through the rankings in the minors and stuff like that. There was no thing, anyway, so I would be that typical like you see, anytime not today, but I mean, anytime where you're that age, and some of us don't take authority very well because of we listening to you know, Rage Against Machine and Papa Roach and, and, you know, cut my life into pieces, this is my last resort and we're just raging. It's just... and I'm still raging, by the way. And I didn't get along with the general manager. And I won't name her but it's Brenda and, and she hated me and I hated her and in hindsight and through wisdom of age, I think wisdom is time plus mistakes. You know, I realized that I was the problem and what she wanted was me just to do my damn job. But I was being told what to do. You know my 15 minute break, I would go 20-25 I would punch in at six and then go get changed and hang out the break. You know what I mean? Just those things. It was, you know, not egregious. It wasn't like stealing, so they never caught me. So it's just like it was just like these regular things. And I just, I just didn't see eye to eye.. I hated her. And I would always talk about that. And we always would band together as the frontline staff against management. We had managers we liked or didn't like, we didn't care, but she was the GM. Fast forward about a year working there. And a woman came just busted out of the doors of the Majestic Theatre, which was theater one on my left when I'm working concession. And I'm sweeping up because Forrest Gump is playing, and it was a mega hit. And so it was just crazy. And we're sweeping the popcorn and this woman comes blasting out screaming at me, she just made a beeline for me at the concession. And I know why she was coming because her punk snot-nosed kid a minute prior came up to the concession stand and said, "Hey, give me a cup of ice water!" Just demanded it. And if you have never worked in these places, you know, we don't give out the 18-gallon cup for ice water, we have a special commemorative thimble, you know, we give out that you can't even put a piece of ice in because that's how the theater makes their money. It's through concessions, you know, the tickets, you get a different share. And as the longer the movie goes, the movie theater makes more. But it's concessions. That's why we stopped people from bringing food and stuff. And trust me, I exerted that power as hard as I could. Because when you're that age too, your job is to enforce policies you don't understand nor care about. But when somebody comes at you, you stand up, right? That's the only power I'm going to have, I'm going to flex and usually what happens at this point, in most places, in my experience, and others I've heard, not all, but in those, in that realm is that you enforce this policy you don't care about, you're not really paid enough to enforce it. And then what happens is somebody calls a manager over, and then they override you. And then you look like an idiot. And you wonder why you're even enforcing this stuff. But then, you know, the big boss can come in and authorize something. And then you just wonder, "Why am I even enforcing these things?" So anyways, this happens. Kid comes out. I tell them here's your thimble cup and I smile at them real big just to piss them off. Because I learned if you smile really big when somebody's mad, they get madder. And so then he goes in angry and I told him off because he told me off. I'm not going to take this from you. I'm making $4.85 an hour. I'm not going to take this from you. She comes blaring out because I insulted her kid and I live in Oakville. Understand something I live in Oakville, Ontario if you look that up beside bougie and snotty... Oakville is right there. We look down on Toronto. Toronto looks down on the rest of the country. Just work that into your brain for a second. It's bougie, it's a bougie place and people are very entitled. Hockey is very up in the forefront here. And I just can't deal with all that stuff. And no, no, I rode my bike to high school and everybody had their Benz and I'm just like, "Okay, you people." All right, I had the sides of my head shaved, you know, and this type of stuff. I was rebel as much as I could from this place until I had a kid then I came running back.

This woman comes out screaming at me and I'm screaming at her. Okay, it's go time, it's go time. She's yelling at me. I'm learning new words. I'm yelling at her. And this is what I realized, I'm gonna get fired. Okay, because everybody can hear this. These aren't soundproof theaters. Everybody can hear me screaming, everybody can hear her screaming. And I'm like, if I'm gonna go down, I'm going down like Jon Bon here, I'm going down in a blaze of glory. Right? Because every job I had I gave you either one or two weeks notice, right? You know, just like whatever you needed out, you know, I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna go out and I'm burning every bridge. Because this is this was my path at the time and probably still is. She's screaming, I'm screaming. I have this feel hand on my shoulder. Like gently, like wasn't pulling, was just kind of resting on my shoulder, like kind of warm and started pulling me back. But not pulling, just kind of guided me back. And I'm thinking like, "is this Jesus?" like, what's happening here? I'm having this out of body experience here. I turn around, it's Brenda. And she puts herself between me and the customer and looks at the woman and says, "Lady, get the hell out of my movie theater. You don't talk to people that way. You don't talk to Scott that way." And I'm like, "you don't have to give her my name. But that's okay. That's cool." "Who do you think you are?" And then she's like, "that's a rhetorical question. Don't even answer that. Go get your money back, take you and your kid and never come back." And she escorts her out. And she comes back to me. And I think I'm going to be fired. And she says "hey, are you okay?" And I'm like, "yeah, thank you. I appreciate that." And she goes, "Hey...", and she just makes me look at her. She goes "Hey, I got your back." And then she walked away. I am telling you, Russ. I'm telling you my brain... 180. I came on time. I didn't give away all my shifts you know being that guy, I punched in and went downstairs. I didn't take break... OK, I took breaks. I'm not a psycho. But you know, I took like, my 15 was 15. And I, it flipped me to make me realize she's on my side. And that changed everything for me in my brain realizing that everybody in a position of authority wasn't out to get me. And that a team is only a team if you have each other's back. And if you don't, you're just a random group of people. But here's the thing. Take this along. So then I keep working. Okay, now I'm there. But now I'm engaged. Now I'm plugged in, I'm still a prick. Okay, I'm still 18-19, I'm still a prick. Like, I'm still that guy. But not in that same way. I take on more responsibility. Okay, I'm starting to do things. Then we start coming in on our off time, because we have a lot of people who are also creative. We have Sheridan College here, which is a huge kind of art program here, where I went for business. And we have artistic stuff. And we went to one of the managers now we have different relationships. And I'm like, "Hey, can we do a promo for like an upcoming movie or something?" And they're like, "Yeah, as long as it's on your own time." Like we don't have the payroll to come have you have five people come in for 25 hours and paint. We're big bay windows and we could paint them. We had a Michaels right beside us, we wouldn't get paint. And then sometimes they would send us stencils from the movie itself. Like The Nightmare Before Christmas. We did a whole painting of all Jack and all the guys on the windows. Coneheads came out I rocked a frickin conehead for it like I'm talking. We were in and then Maverick came out. Okay, right. Jodie Foster, Mel Gibson. James, one other can't remember... And so and so we're like, Oh, awesome, because we're also degenerates. So we're like, yeah, poker. So we painted like, but this was on our own. So the the studio didn't even send a kit so like Coneheads. And they sent kits if theaters wanted to go into it. Here's some stuff you could do. They didn't send anything but we're like, Hey, we should do something big for this. We painted the bay windows aces all the aces and stuff like that. We set up a you know, a charity but like just like blackjack, but old school we had up we got a spin wheel from the Party Rentals plays, we traded it for the movie passes. So we did it with no cost. And one of the managers said we'll cover the cost of the paint for you. We're like thank you so much. Awesome. We brought in Laser Quest to do the quickest drawn Oakville in the lobby and we're doing laser "pa-too". We're doing that we did a huge we all dressed up in the old time clothes. We had the dresses and everything. We found a party rental place like we went all out for this. And it was amazing. We almost got sued by the actual quickest drawn in Oakville (didn't know that existed). Guy had the record for it and he came he's like, "That's my title." And we're like, Dude, it's Laser Quest and children relax. And so we're going through all this, we put everything into it. We had the best numbers for that movie over opening weekend as well. And the following week, just because the buzz we made. It made it into the paper, made it on the radio, like we did all these things. And we were so happy. We're so excited. Like you don't get that a lot at work when you're that age a lot. Because you're working those you work in service. Working with the public sucks just because people suck. Not everybody. But it's always the one in 10 that sucked that ruin the day for you. We do all this. We are extremely proud of it. Our managers are proud of us. They're like, "Hey, we're going to put this together in a whole project, a whole book. And it was bound, and we had photos and the clippings. And we're going to send it to corporate, to show them what you all did. They didn't take the credit for it, which is common. They said in it, "Our employees took their own initiative on their own time and their own money to do this." And when they sent it off, and we're just like, cool, they might send you know, it will get a pizza party or something. I don't care. I'm telling you, six months after we sent it, we got a package from them. And we opened it up. We're like, well, it took them a long time. That's okay. And the head office was like literally in the town over. It wasn't like we're sending it to another continent. And we opened the package. And it was our original submitted report with a checkmark on the cover. That's it. And we all looked at each other because we gathered around to open them and said, "Fuck these guys." And it killed all of it. And we never did a promo again. Now I know it was because I was 18 and I know I'm 47 now, but do you notice when I tell that story, it's vivid to me?

Scott Stratten
I've never let it go. I'm not like hunting them down on LinkedIn saying "Why did you ever...?" I just don't forget it. It's the erosion of leadership is my biggest concern. It's the "F-U, got mine" version of leadership. That one thing leaders have to understand... actually they don't have to. But if you want to understand what's going on right now, you have to understand that leaders have no idea about what the company culture is. Culture is driven top down and felt bottom up. And if you are the only people that know the company culture is the bottom of the org chart. And it's like Office Space. Right? It's just this this delusion sometimes, and I don't, I don't mean CEOs and leaders and stuff, need to know and be at every location on the frontline. It's not your job. My problem is when you assume you do know, or when you assume you're better. Because you're not. It's a job. These are humans. And we don't forget these things. You remember the people that both helped you and hurt you? I'd never forgot the VP at Goodwill, my first job out of college in HR, the VP of Marketing, who would not would have refused to even acknowledge somebody who was lower than her in the hallway and I made it a game. I would force her to say hi to me. She took extra effort. I remember my boss at Goodwill, Gina, who I adore, still to this day. Why? Because she told it to me straight. And she supported me. When I got furious because of my righteousness, which still hasn't gone away. When I would get furious at why would we allow this person who did this to get this? And she says, "Look, this is the business side of it. If this happens, then this happens. And this happens." I'm like, "dammit, you're right. But I don't like it." But she explained it to me. And she's like, would you go to the president of a nonprofit and explain why you did this instead? And I'm like, "That's a fair point." Right. And then she went on mat leave. And the person who took her place was a prick. And when I would go home and I remember this day, the day I decided to leave. My stepson, who was three at the time, had strep throat. And I went and got him. I didn't ask for permission because I'm an adult. And I had my meetings all taken care of and everything was fine. Because I'm an adult. I picked up my son. And the next day, he sat me down and said, "Hey, you just can't come and go as you please." And I said, "Yes, I can." Because I'm an adult. And I'm making sure my job is taken care of. I'm in a salaried position right now, I don't remember punching in. And I said, "Are you saying I can't go when my kid needs me?" And he says, "I am." And I said, "Great." And a month later I was at a new company. You can flex all you want. But understand that people aren't taking it. It's a hard pass for people these days hard pass. Toxic employees are 10 times more the reason... this just came out of MIT. I'm not speaking out of my ass here. But also this is... look how bent out of shape I'm getting today. Thank you for that. But you understand, look, this is not new. None of this stuff is new. Well, this is now well, this is the new, the Great Resignation... people have felt this the whole time, we've just had enough now. Twenty years ago was the same thing. People... 10 times more than pay is a toxic employee as the reason somebody leaves... and pay is a huge issue! So take the pay issue, which is huge and stop frickin ignoring it. And stop telling me not to mention it at talks because I will. Because that's my job is to tell you the actual reasons why people are leaving. Pay is huge. And toxic. People are 10 times that. But here's the rub. Nobody thinks their toxic. So that's my job is to make sure they can figure out who is. Man it got me on a rant, sir. That was a rant. Oh.

Russel Lolacher
I felt it. I felt the rant. I mean, that's the thing is people don't understand how trauma works. And I've mentioned this on podcast before. When I asked that question about best or worst, most of the stories are decades old. These people are carrying this with them. So leadership, I'll put air quotes in that one don't seem to realize the impact of their action or inaction, which you made a beautiful display of right there. So before we get into the and leadership of it, I do want to actually dial back a bit and just understand the unknown of it. Because when you started as we said two decades ago, you and you kind of alluded to it there is that everything has changed and nothing is different. And yet, we still go through a whole bunch of change. And yet...

Scott Stratten
Because we're still dealing with people, and the problem is when people get a certain amount of power, it's very hard to get them to let it go. But the thing is, it's perceived power. You actually don't have power over people in theory, if they don't let you. The problem is, it's a privilege, a lot of people can't leave their job. Some people can, but they don't feel they can, but a lot of people can't. Because you have to live. And it's more expensive now to live than it's ever been. You look at the financial ratios, and I'm not a financial guy. But when I, the non financial guy, know that it was easier to buy a home on a financial ratio level in the Great Depression than it is today... That's scary. So it's like this world of, "we think that well it was this time or this time," people are people. I show on stage, think about like ripping on younger generations. And I talked about it, and I got this one of my bits, right, and I rip them like millennials, or Gen Z or Gen Zed, you know, the first part, and I read an article on stage, it's like four pages of slides full text, it's like really, it really starts up like it's way too much text. And I do it for a reason I read it like the youth of today and blah blah. And some people in the audience are cheering they're like, "yeah, they suck," you know, and then I flip it and I'm like, "this is from Newsweek, October 31, 1993," which was gripping on Gen X. And then I show another quote, you know, times children don't respect adults these days and embrace writing a book. And that's a quote people. I asked him, the guests in the audience when this from 1970 and 1980. It was 50 BC. And it was Cicero who said it. We got to stop looking like assholes. It's not young people's fault of anything, nor is it an older person's fault. Because I'm not against older generations ripping on younger generations. I'm against people ripping on this age. That I think because it's also harder to be older as well. Like, if you think it's hard to get a job at 25, try getting a job at 55. And you realize that wait a second, if it's hard then, and it's hard then... it's just hard. Things are tough. And then we have to acknowledge these things. I posted this on LinkedIn last night, just one line. I just posted one line. I said please stop saying we're post pandemic. That's all I wrote. Especially if you're a leader, because ONE, we're not. And TWO you just shit on people in your company, and/our customers that are extremely vulnerable, especially now. I know people I'm not this is not a thing about the pandemic, we're not getting into this type of stuff. What I'm saying is, there are people in your organizations or your customer base, that when you say these things that now that we're after the pandemic, now that we are this, who are vulnerable, who are extremely... who have long COVID, who have COVID currently, who've lost people to it, not just the whole time, but even recently. It's out of touch. It's out of touch for leaders to say "you can't discuss your pay." Can we let's go back to the point... are they adults? Good. And if they're not adults, you need to be treating them a little bit more with care. Instead of the other way around. If you hire people in their formative years, in their late teens, you are like Brenda, you are the one who's going to show them good or bad. And when you say nobody wants to work for you, I beg to differ. They just say sorry. You said you say that people don't want to work... they don't want to work for you. That's the difference. It's insane that some of the stuff that people are saying and doing now. I've talked to people. I sat down with a CEO last week, and about return to work. And I'm like, "What are you talking about?" "Well, we just feel that the... it's a better culture and fit and..., and I'm like, "okay, that's what you think." Yeah. And you're the CEO. You understand it's different walking around the office as a CEO than it is somebody else? "Well, I like the hallway conversations." You're goddamn right you do. You're the CEO. You think the accounts payable person just loves your 14th story you've told the same one. And the same joke. And by the way, here's a good indicator to have something's happening if only people that laugh at your jokes and people that you pay. Those are laughs-a-toots. Okay You're not funny. If you hear outside of work, you hear laughter inside of work, but outside of work people and you have to say a lot... If you have to say the phrase a lot, "It's just a joke." You're part of the problem. Part of the problem. And people have had enough. And once they realize they can move jobs, once they realize that companies that treat their employees like adults and say, "Hey, what's the best way you work?" I'm not against in office, nor am I work from home. I am, "adults know what they need, therefore, let them choose" are going to be the companies that win and that are winning right now. Because here's the thing, I'm gonna go talk to C-suite people in a week from now. All 50 people, it's 50 person group, all C-level. And this is what I have to tell them. And it hurts. That it's actually better for business for profit now to do it as well. Because I don't want profit to be the reason why you treat people like an adult. I don't want... I remember 20 years ago at the start of this whole thing, I had somebody in a small room group that was more like a fireside chat talk type of thing. And he said, "Show me the numbers that treating people well is better for business." And I said "no." ONE - I didn't have them on me and TWO - Go fuck yourself. It's not a business case. I don't think relationships are a campaign. I don't think conversations are a campaign. Right? You know why we're talking today? Because I think you're awesome. And we've had a relationship for a long time. When you asked me, I'm like, Hell yes. You know, when people ask me to go on shows, I have no idea who they are. But they pretend to be a friend. You've supported us longer than almost anybody. That's relationships, man. That's how it works. Which is also when you say "Thank you for coming on the show." I'm like, "dude, yes." Of it's a no brainer. But people don't get that a lot of the times. We talked about that before we came on air, right? About getting on podcasts and just taking the path of least resistance. I don't think relationships are that. I don't think leadership is that. Leading is hard. I read a great line on Twitter a while ago, I can't remember the source, I apologize. But there's a line. It's like if, if you feel impostor syndrome, after three months of being in a new leadership position, look in the mirror. Or sorry, if you don't feel it in the first three months look in the mirror. And if you do still feel it after 12 months, look at your manager. Right? It's a nice balance cuz if we didn't come down to it, you know, it makes it a lot easier look at the workplace is that nobody actually knows what they're doing. That everybody's winging it, right? We all have our versions of best practices, right? We got to figure that out. But we're all winging it. Everybody's winging it, in a way they think is right. And that really can help your brain a bit understanding that that person seems like they have it together. They don't, that person seems like they have they go to... oh, they don't either. I don't. I'm still figuring this stuff out. We're just making our best guess. And if you take that away, you realize it makes everybody a little bit more human. And then it's a little more relatable to each other.

Russel Lolacher
I like, and you may laugh at this, I may look at you as an optimist Scott, and I'll tell you why. You've got the tattoo. And it's part of everything, which is unlearning. And that's to assume people want to or that you think they can, because there's a lot of people to get to certain positions and they're stuck. Or at least they I've done it I've checked the boxes. I've worked my ass up to get up to this ladder. I'm here now I'm going to have my pseudo conversations in the hallway. But where does learning and unlearning come into this? Because I am hopeful but I'm also jaded as fuck sometimes.

Scott Stratten
Yeah, you and me both and I... if you leave your career path and your life in business up to others, I don't think you have much choice other than to be disappointed because it's uncontrollable and I focus on one thing it's what I can control. Allison and I focus on one thing what we can control. Right? We couldn't control COVID Hitting, we couldn't control my industry disappearing. We couldn't control anything. Can't control our kids. We have five of them right? We're gonna do our best and when I realized you know even the bosses I didn't like that they were doing their best I still don't believe it cuz I'm still angry at them. But I'm like the even the ones who were it was hard for them. Everybody was doing their best but also you realize they're all human and that they have their life outside of work is just their life. We all have our struggles we all have, we all have these things and understand we don't get that we don't get to the point where we will there this person, like if you ever ran to somebody at work that you don't hang out with outside of work and you meet them in public, it's it's like, it's like seeing one of your teachers. Right? You're like I do I have to do what you say in the grocery store? Like I don't you don't know what to do.

Russel Lolacher
Why did I call you "Mister" all of a sudden?

Scott Stratten
Like, you don't know what to do with that. And I'm just like, we're all on this rock floating through space here right now. And I, you know, I'm Allison and I talk about about this a lot where I'm always like, I'm the one that hates people and and she's like you don't. I'm the one that talks to people. I'm the one that strikes up conversations and elevators, I'm the one that that loves talking to people, you know, at events and stuff. And I don't hate people. I adore good people. I really love people who stand up and who, who stand for something and who people are... also I love people who are just trying to get through the damn day that they don't want to ruin somebody else's day. They're not trying to step on somebody's head to get the next rung in the ladder, that they just want to do their job. Whatever that is. And that's what leaders have to understand too, as well Russ is that they... Is it okay, if you have people who work for you who don't want your job? Like if they're not trying to climb that ladder, because it's a pyramid, you know that right? You know that you have a team of 10 and you dangle that carrot that you're lying to nine of them. You know, that's how banks employ a lot of people, that they get new grads with degrees and make them all work teller at the front, because that's what everybody has to do. And that's how they get all their bank tellers, and then one job opens up somewhere else. And 735 people apply to it. I don't know if that's ethical. I don't know if we're going the right route with that. And people are tired of it. And that's where it gets. So that's where the... and the anger for me is more passion. That's like on stage, I get riled up on it. Because I'm really fucking passionate about people. And I really hate a certain segment of the population that wants to demand that people do their bidding. It's not what we're here for. I think we're here as a community, whether it's your local community, your street, your country, or the continent or the world. I think that we're in this together. And that the day you think you're better than somebody else is the day you're not.

Scott Stratten
And yet, here we are today with companies trying to figure out well, I don't know what to do, or... I know what to do. Stop being hypocritical. Start either living by the mission statement you've plastered on the wall or take it down. Companies are so hypocritical these days. You tell people you can't...

Russel Lolacher
Is it a framing issue? I mean, you bring up you brought up ethics and I know you talked about that a bit.

Scott Stratten
But it's not framing. I know where you're going but it's not framing though. It's lying. No, it's bullshit. They make a mission statement, because it looks good for the stakeholders.

Russel Lolacher
Oh, yeah.

Scott Stratten
Everything they try to do, and this is not everybody, but a lot of companies that they're only the only stakeholders there they listen to or pay attention to is shareholders. And they're like, we have to do this because it's for shareholder value. And I'm just like, hey, but I'm just asking, I'm just curious, do you have shares? Like, are you one of the... because what you're doing is you're deflecting to another group that you have to be, you have to show fealty to but yet you're one of the kings. So, "oh, you don't but you have equity." Like I remember the president of one of the companies I worked at, one after my boss Gina when I left and went to a new one, that the President was beside himself. Because the top salespeople in the company were making a higher annual amount than him. And I was the Sales Training Manager so I was in on this. And he said, "This has to change. We have to change the comp (compensation). And I said "you have equity." He's like, "that's beside the point." I'm like, that is the point. THE point. And then he changed the comp plan. Take a wild guess what happened? The best salespeople left and took their customers with them. Good luck with that non-compete. People, man. People. I don't get it.

Russel Lolacher
Culture. It is... I mean, I love saying it like one word like it's gonna be like just CULTURE, Scott. Monolithic word. Because leadership puts the blame on staff to create culture, and yet they don't want to model it either. So we're kind of stuck in the middle of the culture that we're creating. How do we move the needle on creating a different culture, if leadership doesn't seem to want to raise the banner and run to a model that actually people want to work under?

Scott Stratten
Oh, you don't, you quit. You can't. You can't change the culture of the company, if the top isn't doing it. You can have a team culture that gets squashed every few weeks from somebody above you. And you got to start building that up again. Culture isn't a thing. Culture is a feeling. It's the bottom of the org chart, how do they feel working at the company. End of sentence. And if your team lead the boss, or anybody else doesn't want to do that, there are a lot of companies who do. And the problem is what happens is sometimes jobs become almost a level of an abusive relationship. Because it's abusive. Then you think you're worthless, you think you can't get a job somewhere else. And you think that, well, it'll get better. It won't if the person is in charge of you. And if you want to change it, and since people can't figure out, and I don't think people are toxic, and and I think there's toxic things and traits, I think everybody's on a scale, right? Bad on one and good on the other, we fit somewhere on that. But if you are, if you want to be a more self aware person in leadership, then use three words. STOP, START, CONTINUE. I didn't come up with these three words. I learned it 25-30 years ago. I think it was like a Dear Abby column. I swear I swear. It was like Ann Landers or Dear Abby or something like that. Best thing I ever read. Ask your team, and you can do this for customers, or clients too by the way. What should I stop doing? What should I start doing? What should I continue doing to ensure that we have the best team, best client relationship best, whatever. And you can take away a bit too if you don't want to make it directly at you. Because it's hard to hear that crap. I still hate getting feedback on my stuff. I get it. To say if you ran the team for 30 days, what would you stop doing, start doing and continue doing? Or the company you know what I mean, so you get all of this type of stuff. When I used to do consulting, we did this for a client, a private school in Toronto. And we did it with their parents, so the people who are paying the tuition, and the because they're getting a lot of churn. The thing is, there's signs, there's always signs, from customers, from employees, from that stuff. There's signs that come there's indicators along the way. We have to be listening and observing. And we put it out to the parents. And in 24 hours, I shit you not we had a 96% response rate. The greatest response rate ever seen in a survey in my life. Now mind you, these are very invested people. It's their children, private school. And they gave up the issues. And a lot of them were just seemingly mundane little issues. But it meant a lot. One of the things was like when you put out the menus for the week for the cafeteria, it's not always you don't always stick to it. Little thing. There's some big things, and we sat around and we dressed it and assigned it. We put it out on a Survey Monkey type of thing. We put it out there and we left it optional. They could say their name if they wanted a direct response for something. We signed everything. They took their turn to almost zero. Not because of me, but because they listened. I just came in with a thought. And I brought the binders in and overcharged them for it. It was just like, it was the point. And then fast forward I was brought into a place up by Pearson, up in Toronto by the airport. And I was brought in for the employees. And they're like, I was a referral from somebody at Quaker State. And they're like, Hey, come on in, it was an automotive thing. They came in this warehouse, like distributor type of thing. And I said what's the... what do you want help with? What can I help you with? Like, well, we don't have any problems actually. Which is one of the first signs I know they have problems. They literally said that out loud to me. We don't have issues. We just want you to take our employees from here to here. I'm like, okay, cool. And I booked like five, six lunch and learns this is like again 25 years ago. And they weren't having anything I was saying. They weren't even budging. And I know when I'm bombing. I promise you. I've been on stage many times. I've done like 530 keynotes, not including of that was also the keynotes before the keynote era. I've spoken at a food court at a mall got heckled by somebody that worked in New York Fries. It's amazing. You know, so I've done a lot. I know when the audience is going with it. And I stopped what I was doing. I just said hey, what's wrong? And a woman put up her hand she says, "All what you're saying today Scott is fine and good. But when you're done today, you get to leave here." And I'm like, Oh, snap. So I said, we're gonna stop doing this. Take out the paper in your binder and I want you right, stop on one paper, start on the other one continue on the other one. And what would you do differently in this company, if you ran it? They wrote, like you'd never seen somebody write before. And then one guy froze. He's like, Oh, my God, is our names gonna be on this. And I said, No, I'm gonna take all of it and put it into one big report. And he's like, do you have more paper? And he kept writing, kept writing, kept writing. And it was just a train wreck. Because one of the secrets is STOP and START, they can hurt but they give you right information. CONTINUE's the nice, warm and fuzzy like what you're doing right? I did it with all five groups. And they only had one continue out of everybody. One. And one person said, I liked the hot dog at the barbecue last year. "Hot dog" singular, by the way. And then I brought it back to the same executives, who looked shockingly like me. And I sat down and, and they're all like, so Scott, we we hired you to help elevate our, our, our, our our workers. And apparently we've heard you just did surveys. I'm like, "Well, yeah, because you sent me in under false pretenses. It's not that you don't have any problems. It's all you have." And they started looking through the binders. And they were furious. FURIOUS. Not with the results. But with me. And one guy, who is the guy who's really getting ripped in this stuff, every page turn was more violent. Like, I wish I was making this stuff up. It's still vivid to me. And the final page he tore out. And he goes, "I think one or two things happened here, Scott. They're either lying. Or you told them to write these things." And I'm like, "or Steve, there's a third, there's a dark horse here. Maybe, hear me out. Hear me out. Just give me a second. Maybe this is how they feel." And the CEO looks at me and goes, "We're done here." And I left it. And um, oh that's the end of the story by the way. There was no redemption arc to the story. There's no redemption arc, whatsoever. Except when I was leaving, the really angry VP said, "if they didn't like it, they would quit." And I'm like, "You bet!" Yeah, but but here's the thing, I don't need to be back at that place to know it's still like that. Sadly.

Russel Lolacher
You started in HR.

Scott Stratten
Yeah, I did.

Russel Lolacher
That is your origin story is actually HR.

Scott Stratten
This is the stuff I know best.

Russel Lolacher
How has that role changed or has it? Because I mean, I feel like... and I have all the love and the sympathy for HR people, because they keep getting asked to do more and more and more and more and have different results. And yet their divisions don't get bigger, or they don't get the investments. So has HR's role changed in your or how do they help with the unleadership-ing.

Scott Stratten
So two parts, one, I haven't been in HR in very long time, so I don't want to, I don't want to speak for them. But HR is actually my passion. I went to college for it. I was in it. I taught it for seven years. Employment Law, hiring, communications, HR one, HR two... I love helping people. That's my, that's my goal in life. It's been part of my DNA. And I very quickly learned that in my case, that HR wasn't about that. It was about protecting the company a lot. But you still help people until you get squashed by it. And the hard thing about HR, for me, is that you're in charge of the people without any of the autonomy to do anything about it. That a lot of the times and again, this might have changed a bit. But I doubt it, that HR doesn't get a seat at the table. This is a problem in the 90s. When we changed over from the 80s in personnel to HR, we changed the wording. It was not personnel anymore with human resources. Because humans are resources. They're also renewable resources if you let them renew. And HR doesn't have that ability, because what happens if somebody is one of those toxic people, that's 10 times reason somebody else leaves. And they're like, "We have to get rid of this person" and one of the VPS is like "Nope." Or it's one of the VPs. HR has to report in to the CEO, to me. Has to. Which means the CEO is head of HR because no CEO is going to say you can run free without reporting to me. But that will be the best with good HR people because if people in HR who hate people. And I don't know if you hate them because you got into it or you hate them after you've been at it for a while. But I think there's really a lot of good people in HR that really want to do good things. And they're handcuffed. They're handcuffed on so many levels, and they're still viewed as overhead. They're viewed as administrative. HR is as administrative as a lot of other departments. You don't think Finance is administrative? It's all forms. But we don't look at them as that we look at them as you know, analytic and business driver and things like that. What drives your business more than the frickin people? The people. And we wanted to change it when I was at, it was Goodwill Toronto where it was. And we went and said, okay, if I'm in charge, like the stores, so me and the HR counterpart, we split Southern Ontario. Goodwill was at Young Street, which is the longest Street and one of the longest in the world I think. And Young Street East was my store and Young Street West was my partner's there, Mike stores. And we did a whole caravan, we started going out to stores and outreached to the managers and stuff and getting to know... that's what I wanted to do. That's what my boss Gina wanted as well. So I loved her. And then somebody up higher up is like, "okay, stop doing that. No more." We're not going to pay for the gas or whatever. You know like, what? What? HR are the ones that can change the people. Your job in HR is to attract and retain awesome people. End of paragraph, but it's not. It's to attract and retain the people you can afford. In the timeline you've got trying to shuck and jive and defend between the people you already have. I had somebody in marketing come up once said, "Hey, I need you to hire me new assistant, make sure they're blonde." What the hell? Yeah. So I heard that I heard the blonde person, it was just of a different gender.

Russel Lolacher
I want to wrap it up with the lens of unleadership in a positive way. One of the biggest reasons I love you is you're so good at creating the mirror that people need to look back into because their self awareness and self. Well, self reflection is a little weak.

Scott Stratten
It's hard though, it's hard. It is a hard thing.

Russel Lolacher
And a lot of people live through it because they don't want to look. They want to put their head down and barrel through the day. So Scott, through the lens of unleadership, if there's one simple action, and I love and hate this question, because I think it's a mindset thing, not a tactic thing. But everybody likes Ooh, what's my takeaway? So with the unleadership lens, what's one simple thing you think people can do right now to improve the relationships at work?

Scott Stratten
Ask, ask to listen, not ask to talk. And what I mean by that is when you ask somebody a question as a leader, don't do the human trait, which is I'm going to wait for your answer and then I'm going to tell you what I think. Ask something to, to hear it. To be curious about your people. Curiosity can change everything. Meaning get to know them more. It doesn't mean personally. I mean, they're what they need. I think a leaders job is to support down and block up with the shield, right? What do you need? I'll go get it for you. You push your way through. Honestly, I do. That's a leader to me. That's a leader I would follow. And you're not a leader if nobody wants to follow you. You're just the manager.

Russel Lolacher
That there is Scott Stratton. He's a successful, crazy in demand keynote speaker. He's got six books co-authoring in here in there. And I am always thrilled to talk to the man. Thank you very much for your time, Scott.

Scott Stratten
My absolute pleasure. Thanks for asking.