He described how a little bit of gratitude can make an employee want to do a great job. Chester tells a beautiful story of how a company he used to work for showed him appreciation and other stories that give testimony to the power of recognition and showing gratitude.
1:26 – Dr. Weisz shares the best solution for documenting standard operating procedures, highlighting a 14-day free trial of SweetProcess.
2:00 – Jeremy introduces the guest speaker, Chester Elton, who talks about some of the books he’s written and some of his achievements.
3:13 – Chester talks about his co-author Adrian Gostick, and the study of workplace culture they’ve been dedicated to for 20 years, learning about gratitude and the recognition of people.
4:32 – Chester explains how expressing gratitude is a learned skill and how the tool of gratitude is a good tool to use for spurring productivity.
5:30 – The guest speaker gives an example of Humbert Joly, who turned Best Buy around financially by using the principle of appreciation and gratitude. He explains how making work meaningful is a way to engage people’s hearts, not just their minds.
7:17- Chester talks about his favorite methods of celebrations companies show to staff and team members, giving Toronto FC’s celebration as an example.
9:14 – Chester gives more examples, talking about the steps Books-A-Million takes to promote gratitude within their employees, and Carlos Aguilera’s ten-coin method.
12:10 – The guest speaker tells the story of how the company he worked for sent flowers to his wife at home, showing gratitude for Chester going on work trips for the company.
14:00 – Chester tells another story about Garry Ridge, and how he started to up his gratitude and appreciation, referring to his company as a tribe.
17:07 – The guest speaker talks about his most skeptical client Humbert Joly, and how he completely transformed once he saw the light; and Dave Kirpan, a classic cynical New York man, how he tried the gratitude process, and it completely changed everything, and how he applied it to his family.
21:01 – Chester talks about myths that irk him, breaking it down to show how it doesn’t take much time for one to appreciate or show gratitude to employees.
23:10 – Chester Elton talks about a practice he and his wife have been doing for some time, a “gratitude journal,” saying how a sunny day is something to be grateful for, and other simple things people take for granted.
25:25 – Chester points out how people need to be remembered, especially during these trying times.
26:12 – Chester talks about a chapter from one of his books, explaining how he loves leaders who rise through the ranks, and how he’s doing a real-time case study with Texas Roadhouse Restaurants and Ken Taylor.
28:55 – Mr. Elton explains how he got into the whole gratitude thing, how he went from selling media time to selling recognition programs, his introduction to Adrian Gostick, and how they wrote their first book together.
31:30 – Chester talks about Alan Mulally, who saved Boeing from 911 and Ford Motor Company from the economic recession using the gratitude and appreciation process. How he took Ford motor company’s engagement scores from 20% to over 80%.
34:12 – Chester points people to places they should check online for downloads, tips, motivator’s codes, and online training at ridiculous discounts at www.thecultureworks.com, and another website, www.leadingwithgraditudebook.com, and various podcasts that are available for free download, encouraging Jeremy to buy more books as gifts for friends and families.
35:52 – Chester explains how leaders supporting their work team should be similar to supporting their favorite team during the Super Bowl—they shouldn’t just wait until they get the win to support them and cheer them on, but that they’re meant to cheer for them now more than ever.
He has spent 20 years helping clients engage their employees in organization strategy, vision, and value. Mr. Elton provides real solutions to leaders looking to manage change and drive innovation.
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Process Breakdown Podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks, and giving your employees all the information they need to be successful at their jobs. Now, let’s get started with the show.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Dr. Jeremy Weisz here host of the Process Breakdown Podcast where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks, and giving your staff everything they need to be successful at their job. Past guests include David Allen from Getting Things Done, Josh Fonger from Work the System, and many, many, more. Before I introduce today’s epic guest, first of all, epic guest today Chester Elton, and I’ll introduce him in a second. But if you haven’t checked out his website and his videos, you should do it probably every morning because it will inspire you, it will move you into action, and will create gratitude for you in your life. This episode is brought to you by SweetProcess. If you’ve had team members ask you the same questions over, and over, and over, and over again, then you probably realize that is not a sustainable practice.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: There’s a solution for it, actually, SweetProcess is a software that makes it drop-dead easy to train and onboard new staff and save time with existing staff. I realized from talking to the founder, Owen, not only do universities, and banks, and hospitals use it and software companies, but first responder government agencies use them in life or death situations to run their operations. You can use SweetProcess to document all the repetitive tasks that eat up your precious time, so you can focus on growing your team and empowering them. You can sign up for a 14-day trial, no credit card required. Go to sweetprocess, sweetlikecandy, S-W-E-E-T.com. Without further ado, today’s guest, we’re going to talk to Chester Elton who’s leading with gratitude in general in his life.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: If you look at, and I encourage you to buy all of his books, I bought several myself. But the world’s best cultures trust Chester, companies like Starbucks, Johnson & Johnson, State Farm. If I read all of them, Chester, we’d be here for another 20 minutes, so I’m not going to. But check out their website The Culture Works. Chester has spent decades helping clients engage their employees to execute on strategy, vision, and values. He’s a number one bestselling leadership … bestselling author on leadership. Him and Adrian Gostick with books like All In, The Best Team Wins, The Care Principle, and Leading with Gratitude: Eight Leadership Practices for Extraordinary Business Results.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: He provides real solutions for lots of companies, and so check it out. Chester, I just, I need people to go to YouTube or maybe LinkedIn and check out your videos. I’m not even going to ruin any of the punch lines, but they do call you the apostle appreciation. For the full effect, they have to watch your videos. The full effect.
Chester Elton: Well, that’s quite the introduction. And spoiler alert, there’s always a happy ending so you don’t have to worry about the gotcha at the end. With Adrian, my co-author, for 20 years we really have been dedicated to studying workplace culture and leadership in teams. And that common thread that we always found in extraordinary leaders and extraordinary cultures was this idea of gratitude, appreciation, recognition. He used a lot of different words there that they really did celebrate. They celebrated their people, they celebrated their customers, they celebrated their communities. And I think more than ever as we go through this pandemic, the need for people to be remembered.
Chester Elton: You talk about recognition as a recognition, a remembering, is more important than ever. Because we’re feeling more and more isolated, more and more vulnerable, more and more just alone. And this idea of remembering each other and celebrating each other, I think, isn’t one of those nice to haves that so many people will put it in the category of. It is an absolute must have to keep people safe mentally, emotionally, and engage them and make it safe for them to continue to be productive.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Chester, I feel like sometimes gratitude for some people, I don’t know, it’s more of a natural practice and some it’s not. How do you get people to practice it regularly when maybe it’s not natural for them?
Chester Elton: It’s a learned skill like anything else. And I really appreciate you bringing that up, Jeremy, because people say, "Well, I’m just not wired that way." That may be true. Maybe the way you were brought up or the way you were managed or whatnot just doesn’t lead you to believe that it’s important. Well, we’ve got a massive database of over a million engagement surveys that says, "Look, if you’re not using the tool of gratitude in your leadership toolbox, you’re missing out on a huge way to really attract, engage, and spark productivity." So, we give people tools, every one of our books, we have data, we have case studies, and then here’s the how-to. The data and the case studies without the how-to it’s just an interesting story. The how-to and how leaders have done it, and I think importantly, how leaders have been converted to that whole process where they didn’t think it was valuable. Humbert Joly, for example, who took Best Buy from a billion dollar deficit to a billion dollar surplus. He said, "I was not a believer, I really wasn’t."
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Why wasn’t he?
Chester Elton: Well, he says, "Look, we’re process driven. We got hard things to do, we’re going to do them, we’re going to check the boxes. It’s all about getting the compensation right, it’s about getting the process right and plug it in. It’s called work for a reason, and if you don’t want to work, you don’t work here." It was very simple, and there’s a lot of people that lead like that. And then he said, "It became very evident to me that making work meaningful was the key to really engaging people’s hearts, not just their minds." And he said part of that process was celebrating their contributions, he said it made all the difference. He’s got a philosophy of assuming positive intent, and I love that [inaudible 00:06:12]. He said, "Look, I may be naive, I just think people come to work and they want to do a good job." 999 people out of 1000 come to work wanting to do a good job. And in trying to do a good job, they’re going to make mistakes. And you know what, that’s okay. We can fix the mistake and move on.
Chester Elton: Well, when you’re in a culture like that where when you make a mistake, you don’t fear for your job, or try to hide it, or hope that nobody notices. Where you can admit that you’ve made a mistake, ask for help, correct it and move on. Well, talk about lowering stress levels, and increasing endorphins and happiness in the workplace. Listen, from a billion dollar deficit to a billion dollar surplus, when a guy like that talks, I listen.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: You mentioned the how-to, and then you mentioned celebration of contribution. Well, we’ll talk about some of the things people put in place, but what are some of your favorite maybe, you’ve worked at a lot of companies, celebrations that people have with contributions of staff members or team members?
Chester Elton: Bill Manning is one of our heroes, he’s the president of Toronto FC in the MLS. We knew him when he was the president of Real Salt Lake, and he’s taken both organizations to the MLS finals numerous times and won two cups. He said, "It’s always going to be about your people, particularly in their business where they are fan facing." At least, they hope to be fan facing again soon. One of the things he did that I loved is he would have staff meetings once a week. On game day you’ve got a few hundred people on your staff, most of that is outsourced, the guys in the parking lot and security. Your actual staff is maybe 3 to 40 people. Well, he’d bring them together once a week to go over everything, season ticket holders, cleanliness, whatever it might be.
Chester Elton: He started this tradition where he would randomly call out someone in the group to recognize someone else in the group. And so, in his expressions of gratitude, he gave them permission to do the same, and then created a vehicle by which they could do it. And he said, "I knew it was really great when Susan was up there and said, "Look, I just want to really recognize Tom. Tom’s always been really helpful, and over the last month he’s …"" Tom gets up, and he says, "I’ve been waiting for three months to be called up so that I could recognize Denise." And so he took his award, which by the way, was like a $300 gift card. It was a nice award, a nice gift, and he gave away his $300 gift card to Denise because he’d wanted to recognize her for so long. And he said, "When you get peer to peer recognition, you get a culture of recognition."
Chester Elton: So often leaders think that they’re the givers of all goodness. I’ve got a monopoly and it couldn’t be further from the truth, you want that cross pollination, you want a culture, and that happens [inaudible 00:09:07] great best practice. One other-
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: You can keep going with … No, don’t go one other, 10 others. Keep going, yeah.
Chester Elton: Well, Books-A-million. Love them, they’ve got stores, they do a lot of stuff online. I got to present them … it was one of the last presentations I did, actually, before the country shut down. And they do simple little things. Like in their break rooms, they’ve got all these little thank you cards that you can just pull one out with their core value and ties it to one of their core values. Its customer service, its integrity. Bringing books to the needy, whatever it might be. And they can just write each other little handwritten notes, there’s an envelope, you can mail it to somebody. And again, having that rack of thank you cards, it says, look-
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Makes it easy for people.
Chester Elton: Well sure. Not only do you have permission here, do it. And then lastly, I always like to work in threes, the power of three. Carlos Aguilera, manager Dallas, Texas, for Avis Budget rental car. And he says, "Look, I just need to be very intentional about my gratitude, and I need to be disciplined." What he does is he puts 10 coins in his left pocket every morning, and he said very intentionally he sets a goal to have 10 positive interactions with his people every day. And the way he keeps track, he moves a penny from his left pocket to his right pocket. He says, "Look, if I get to lunch and I’ve got eight pennies in my left pocket, I’m not doing my job." And you just love the simplicity of that, and the intentionality, and the discipline. When he shows up to the kiosk at love field or Dallas international, whatever it might be, how do you think his people react? It’s positive.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Totally. Love it.
Chester Elton: He’s not there to beat them up because he’s the boss and they’re not. He’s there to point on all the wonderful little things that are going right every day, and when they have their huddles, he starts it with appreciation and gratitude, and he ends it with appreciation and gratitude. Now, when he’s got to have a tough conversation with somebody, do you think they’re more coachable? Of course, they are. He’s got a whole bank … Steven [inaudible 00:11:13], he’s got a bank of goodwill that says all those interactions that we had that were so positive. Now you know what, you’ve screwed up, we’ve got to address that, and people are so open-
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: You come from a place of love. They know you come from a place of love for you and want to help you as opposed to this being fearful.
Chester Elton: Exactly. Letting people recognize other people on your team in public, to thank you cards in the break room, to putting 10 coins in your left pocket. A couple of ideas, and in our book Leading With Gratitude, we got many, many, many, more.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: One of my favorite stories that you tell is about you got at your home orange flowers, I think it is. It shows, first of all, companies are actually listening to you. And when someone shows gratitude, it makes you want to work even harder for that. I want you to just tell that quick story, that’s one of my favorite stories.
Chester Elton: Well, yeah. I was traveling and I’ll never forget, I was at Dulles Airport talking to our then CEO Ken Taylor and solving some kind of problem with a customer. If you’ve ever been to Dulles Airport, by the way, your connecting flight is a real adventure. That airport is set up for you to miss your connecting flight. So anyway, I’m looking for the gate and we close the call. The phone rings again, and caller ID, it’s my wonderful wife, Heidi. And so I pick it up right away, you want to be happily married, when your wife calls you pick up.
Chester Elton: I said, "Honey, what’s up?" And she said, "Josh, you’re not going to believe what just happened. I just delivered 24 beautiful long-stemmed orange roses to the house." And then she said, it was really funny, she goes, "At first I thought they were from you." Of course I knew they weren’t, and I was kind of curious who they were from. It was from my boss, Ken Maddock. And the note said, "Look, Heidi, we really appreciate you taking care of all the big things at home so Chester can do big things on the road. Enjoy the flowers, all the best, know the sacrifice isn’t lost on us."
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Amazing.
Chester Elton: Yeah, it was just so sweet. It wasn’t just that they were orange roses, because we love roses and we love flowers. It’s that there were 24 of them, because we wrote a book called The 24 Karat Manager. All those little things made me feel great about being on the road for Ken, more importantly, it made my wife feel great about supporting me. Because the end of the conversation is my favorite, she says, "Where are you?" I said, "Well, I’m at Dulles Airport looking for my connecting flight." She says, "Well, don’t you dare miss that flight. Those are good people you’re working for." For a couple of roses.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: One of the reasons I love that story is you don’t just have to recognize the person, but you could recognize their family. Have gratitude appreciation for their family as well for allowing you to help the organization. So I love that story. There’s another story, Gary Ridge,
Chester Elton: I love Garry, G-A-R-R-Y. By the way, don’t forget that extra R.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Got it. What was that story?
Chester Elton: Well, WD-40, I’ve even got my travel can with me. I don’t go anywhere without it.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I’m curious how many times you’ve used it on the road?
Chester Elton: Well, those wheels on your wheel, they get squeaky.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: That’s true. Especially you.
Chester Elton: Yes. Well, not right now, hopefully in the near future. Well, he was so interesting, and we’ve got to be dear friends over the years. Garry said, "Look, in the last recession, 2008, 2009, I’m touring our facilities and people are asking me, "Hey, Garry, are you okay?"" He said, "Yeah, I’m fine." No seriously, Garry, are you okay? He goes, "Listen, I’m doing great." And he’s, by the way, one of the happiest guys you’ll ever meet. So finally he keeps getting that everywhere he goes, he calls his wife and he says, "Honey, do I give off an unwell vibe? Do I look sick?" She goes, "Garry, they’re not asking you are you okay, they’re asking are we okay?" And the light bulb went off and he said at that moment I said to myself, "Well, let’s not waste a good crisis."
Chester Elton: And I love that attitude. He said so right away I started to up my communication and up my gratitude and said, "Look, we may not be hiring a lot of people right now, we’re not going to be laying people off. We’re in good financial straits. We’re going to invest in you, we’re going to invest in research." He calls his company a tribe, because as a tribe we defend each other, we feed each other, we cheer for each other. It’s a much more intimate way of looking at your organization. Well, after all that investment and the goodwill that obviously came from that, 2010 they were up over 30% and continued that trajectory, we’re they’re now 300 time as their market cap. They went from something like 280 million to 2.8 billion, that’s good growth.
Chester Elton: Again, I hope the message is coming through to people that are listening. Is it a nice thing to do? Absolutely. Make your mama proud? You bet. Does it have an impact on your bottom line and your growth as a company? Absolutely. A billion dollar deficit to a billion dollar surplus, 300% market cap. Come on. The evidence is there and yet so many leaders still don’t believe it, and I guess I should be grateful because that gives me work. On the other hand, it makes for miserable places for people to go to work every day.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Chester, out of your, really, your long career, who has been the most skeptical that turned … was able to kind of see not just this is just soft skills, this is a nice to have, not a need to have? Or an organization the most skeptical and once they saw the light, they were the biggest convert?
Chester Elton: Well, Hubert Joly at Best Buy was not a believer, and I know Hubert well. I never say his name right and he says, "[inaudible 00:17:18] Joly." The story that I love the most is Dave Kirpan. Dave Kirpan has a wonderful company called Likable in New York City, it’s a online advertising and helps people get really good presence on Facebook.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: He’s all about the orange too.
Chester Elton: He is, he and I share the misery of both being Mets fans, which also is orange by coincidence. he was very skeptical and he’s told me the story time and time again. He said, "Look." He’s a typical New York … grew up in New York, get it done.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Hard charging.
Chester Elton: Yeah. Hey, I’m walking here.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Their wedding, I remember hearing the story, that they even monetized the wedding.
Chester Elton: Yeah, he was looking for a sponsorship.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: He got sponsorship, yes. So, I hear you on that.
Chester Elton: I’m glad you know Dave. Anyway, he was like, "Look." And I’d interview all these leaders, and I’m like a sponge, I want to learn. I’m talking to these guys and this gratitude thing keeps coming up again, and again, and again, and I’m thinking, "Maybe there’s"-
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: You [crosstalk 00:18:22] Chester they call it this gratitude thing, they’re like [inaudible 00:18:25].
Chester Elton: So this thing, what is that? Tell me a little bit more about that. I started to try it, and he said it changed everything. In fact, Dave has got this wonderful best practice, because we interviewed him for Leading With Gratitude. As you might guess, Davis just oozes gratitude and goodness, and you can’t help but be around Dave and it cheers you up. This was pre COVID, clearly even more important now that we’re in COVID. Our kids, we’d have to … we try to have dinner with them as much as possible. And we were having the same conversations over and over and it wasn’t going anywhere. We’d say, "How was school?" They’d say, "Fine." I’d say, "Well, what did you learn?" They go, "Nothing."
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: One word answers.
Chester Elton: Right. So we changed the rules, we said you got to answer three questions. Tell me about the best part of your day? Tell me who you’re grateful for that’s not at the table? And tell me who you’re grateful for who is at the table who hasn’t been thanked yet? And he said, "It just brought a lovely feeling and spirit into our meals. You get to brag about your day, something that was really fun. You got to talk about somebody that you love that isn’t part of the family. And then you got to tell somebody in the family that you love them." He said, "I knew it really caught on when they’d bring a friend to dinner and I can hear them saying, "Look, you got to answer three questions, okay. Don’t embarrass me."" That’s [inaudible 00:19:56].
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: They’re prepping them.
Chester Elton: Yeah, they were coaching them up. I love Dave’s story because it’s the classic, cynical, New York attitude that just did a complete 180, and his businesses have thrived because of it.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Thank you for sharing that. Everyone should think about using that at the dinner table. I love that.
Chester Elton: Well, we end the book with what we call the baker’s dozen, because the leaders that we studied, whether it was Ken Chenault, the retired CEO of American Express, or Garry Ridge at WD-40, and on and on, they all practiced it at home. Which I found so lovely, because it wasn’t just what they did at work, they didn’t leave their best selves at work, it became who they are. And that is such an important part of their character.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Chester, in your book you talk about a lot of different myths and breaking through some of those myths. I was wondering which do you consider one of the most common ones, and talk about it?
Chester Elton: Well, we take seven of the most common and the one that always has irked me for forever is I don’t have enough time. Look, I’m doing more with less. We’re in a pandemic here, I got to get stuff done. If I had more time, absolutely, I would do it. Look, how much time does it really take? How much time does it really take you to text somebody and say, "Hey, I saw what you did there with that customer, that was awesome." Or to pull somebody aside and say, "Listen, I know you got a lot of stuff going on. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you showing up every day and doing your best."
Chester Elton: In fact, we actually broke it down. We said an average leader probably works about a 50-hour week, and they take about an hour every week. It’s 2% of their time. Now, if you really are a student of leadership and you want to be a better leader, and you want to be more efficient, can you carve out 2% to do something that you think will exponentially grow your business and engage your people? If You can’t make that commitment, then you’re not committed to being a great leader. That one is always bothered me, I don’t have time, if I had the time.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: It takes five seconds.
Chester Elton: It does. By the way, even if you’re going way out of your way and said, "You know what, I’m going to write them a thank you note." There’s maybe five minutes, and that’s if you spend half that time looking for a stamp. Again, it comes back to our friend at Avis Budget, where you have to be intentional, and you have to be disciplined. And one hour a week is not an egregious amount of time.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: All of the CEOs, leaders, people in general that I’ve talked to, the way they’ve not only went and increased the organization, but the way they’ve fought … When I ask what’s been the lowest point, what’s been a challenge point, and how did you push through it? The pushing through it part was always about how they have gratitude for what they have, personally.
Chester Elton: We talk about a wonderful practice, and actually my wife and I have been doing it for a few years now, is a gratitude journal. Just at the end of the day or at the beginning of the day, write down three to five things you’re grateful for. With the virus if you’re sheltering-in-place, if you’re not one of those people that needs to be out and about, a sunny day is something to be grateful for. And I think we took sunny days for granted, at least in the North east. If you’re living in San Diego, I get it, every day is a sunny day.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I’m in Chicago.
Chester Elton: You get it, Chicago. It’s like a sunny day lifts yours-
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: It’s not snowing, I’m grateful.
Chester Elton: Yeah, or windy, or just miserable. So simple things like I heard the birds this morning. I had a fox run through my yard, I hadn’t seen a fox for forever and I thought, first of all, I thought, "Hey, are you supposed to be out during the day, is that safe for you?" And secondly, isn’t that wonderful? My wife and I, we end the day with a very simple practice. We say, what are your three, what are three things you’re grateful for? Studies have been done at University of Pennsylvania and Berkeley, that people that are grateful, their blood pressure’s lower, they sleep better. We were talking about David Meltzer, the famous sports agent and all that stuff. Here’s a guy that just says, "Look, I start every morning saying thank you, and I end every day saying thank you. And it’s changed my life."
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I was talking to one person, Roland Frasier, and this struck me because there’s so many things we take for granted. And he said, "When I wake up in the morning I say, "Thank God I can see, and hear, and walk."" That was a head slap for me, those are obvious things we take for granted that we can be grateful for.
Chester Elton: Well, what’s the old song? My feet hurt until I saw a man who had no legs, and then my feet didn’t hurt so much anymore. So it is those simple things. I know it may come across [inaudible 00:25:09] this is really like Pollyanna stuff, let me tell you, it’s not. It isn’t, and put that out of your head. I hate it when people say, "Well, these are soft skills that are nice to have." No, they’re not. And particularly now, we need to be remembered. I’m always amazed in the different groups, somebody’s name will pop into my head and I’ll just text them. Got a friend, Sarah, she’s driving back from a graduation thing that they had in Indiana. I said, " I know it’s a long drive. Just thinking about you want to let you know that you’re remembered and I hope you’re safe." And the responses you get back are amazing. And you think, "For seven seconds of my time, look at the return? It’s ridiculous."
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I can never get enough of this stuff, Chester, that’s why I buy all your books. It’s a constant reminder to do these type of things. I encourage anyone to get Leading With Gratitude. There’s one chapter about walk in their shoes, I wonder if you could explain that a little bit?
Chester Elton: This is such a wonderful leadership practice, and I love leaders that have come up through the ranks. We’re doing a wonderful real-time case study with Texas Roadhouse Restaurants and Ken Taylor, who’s the founder and CEO. 67,000 employees, didn’t lay off one. Went from 600 restaurants being 95% in restaurant dining revenue, to now 100% take out. Well, now they’re starting to open somewhat. In four weeks not only turned his business around, turned a profit, and is hiring, is paying bonuses. And he’s done every job in that restaurant. He’s washed the dishes, he’s worked behind the bar, he’s cut the meat, he’s cleaned up, he’s, he’s worked the desk. When you’ve walked in their shoes, you don’t make unreasonable demands. You know what it takes to do those jobs, and it makes you appreciative and grateful for the work that happens every day to keep those restaurants open and running.
Chester Elton: And so, I love leaders that really do walk in their employee’s shoes because they’re … We’ve all had jobs like this, where like you’re in sales and you get this quote and you go, "Where did that come from?" Well, corporate just did the numbers and this is [inaudible 00:27:21]. They have no idea about my territory, do they? Because if they did, they’d never give me a ridiculous number. And all it tells me is that they don’t know the business, they don’t know my area, they don’t know me. And by the way, they don’t care. Well, with that as a start to everyday, how productive you think you’re going to be? As opposed to the guy that’s walked in your shoes and said, "Look, I get that it’s hard to keep the place clean. Here’s what I did, how do you do it?"
Chester Elton: The great genius of Ken Taylor is he listens. See how I pause for effect there so people can listen? He does, he asks the questions and he listens. And he says, "When time gets really tough, I talk to my crazies." [crosstalk 00:28:12]. They’re already figuring out, "Hey, we can’t have the restaurant open, what are we going to do on the curb side? Let’s do line dancing on the sidewalk six feet apart. Let’s show movies on the back of our restaurants so the neighborhood can get a break." And he calls those guys his big dogs, the guys that embrace the challenge and the change. And then I got my more conservative, they’re my puppies on the porch. And he says, "I pair my big dogs with my puppies." It sounds kind of silly and funny, he says, "My people know that they can innovate. They know they can get crazy because I’m the chief crazy officer, and it’s safe." And I love that.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Chester, how did you get into this?
Chester Elton: As you might guess, I get that question a lot. This wasn’t part of my plan, I grew up in sales, I love selling. I love finding solutions for people, and solving problems for them, and developing those relationships. I went from selling media time, my dad grew up in radio, he was an announcer and then management. I’m sorry he’s not here to see this, he would love the headphones and the microphones.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I’m sure. Totally.
Chester Elton: He told me as a kid, he said, "Chess, you got a great face for radio. You should pursue that." [inaudible 00:29:26]. And so I loved sales. Well, I went from selling media and commercial time to selling recognition programs for Kent Maddock. I called him one day and I said, "Kent, if we were the thought leaders and employee recognition and engagement, you’d make my job easier. People would call me, I wouldn’t have to cold call them." And thought leaders publish, nobody’s really written the definitive book on employee recognition. We should write the book. He goes, "Hey, I love that idea. We’ll write it." Kent, you don’t understand, I meant … when I said we, I meant you should write the book, I should benefit from said book. And he said something that changed everything, he literally said, "Chess, you’re a smart guy, figure it out." And so he challenged me. For about a year I was trying to figure what would the title be, and what should the chapters be?
Chester Elton: He called me back, another great leader, remembered. And said, "Chess, I liked your idea of writing the book. I just hired a writer, his name’s Adrian Gostik. You’ve got the relationships, he knows how to write. Introduce yourself and write the book." Adrian grew up in Canada, born in England grew up in Canada, so we had that hockey thing in common. And a year later, we dropped the book on his desk, Managing with Carrots. Kent was so amused, I love being CEO, you say things and then they show up. You have an idea and then people go do it. That was the first, Leading with Gratitude is our 12th book together. Five New York Times bestsellers, 1.6 million copies, 30 languages. We worked really hard at honing our craft. Adrian as a writer, and me as a person developed relationships. And it’s been it’s been a really wonderful partnership. It’s led us to meet people like Garry Ridge, and Alan Mulally-
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Talk about Alan for a second?
Chester Elton: Well, you can talk about Alan forever, are you kidding? Just one of the great leaders of our time, saved Boeing from 911, and saved the Ford Motor Company from the economic recession. But both of them could use him again, by the way. This is the perfect example of leading with gratitude not being a soft skill, being a hard skill. Because Alan is ridiculously demanding, he holds his people accountable 200% and has a whole methodology of here are your projects, are they red, yellow, or green? And weekly meetings, and really holding people accountable. And at the same time, celebrating all these small wins along the way, making sure that they’re engaged. For example, when he got there he revived the Taurus car, and that was a big initiative for him. When it came at the Auto Show for the unveiling of the Taurus, where most CEOs would say, "Look, this is my time, this is my spotlight. This is me, I’m new. I want to make a good impression."
Chester Elton: You know what he did? He got up on stage and he said, "Look at this beautiful car. It is clean, it is polished, it is beautiful. Who’s responsible for shining up this car and making it just glow?" It was two maintenance guys, they raised their hands. Come on up on stage. You know what, they deserve our applause. Because you know what, when you present a new car, you want it to look like this. And I thought, "What a spectacular message to the whole organization that I’m the CEO and I’m important. And you know what, these guys are too, let’s never forget that." He started at Ford Motor Company, their engagement scores were 20%. 8 out of 10 people did not want to come to work at Ford every day. When he left it was over 90%, and that included the union workers.
Chester Elton: Now, if you’ve ever lived in Detroit, and I have for a couple years, the UAW is not usually your biggest fan if you’re an auto manufacturer. So a tribute to Alan and he says, "Absolutely, look, you cannot be a gratitude Grinch. You’ve got to cheer for them every step of the way if you want to have remarkable results." And no one has more remarkable results than Alan Mulally.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Chester, I have one last question. First of all, thank you. I want to point people towards wherever you think we should point them, thecultureworks.com. Where else should they check out online?
Chester Elton: The cultureworks.com is our training company, we have all kinds of things you can download and tips in there. We’re always offering something fun. We’re offering motivators codes, and now we’re offering this online training at a ridiculous discount. So, if you’re investing in yourself, the cultureworks.com is a wonderful place to go. When your culture works, everything works. We’ve got a wonderful website called leadingwithgratitudebook.com. You can download the first chapter, you can download the foreword by our good friend Marshall Goldsmith. Which really is a lovely story of how he came to really value gratitude in his coaching, his work, in his life. And then there are all the podcasts that we’ve done that are there available for free and so on, so avail yourself for that.
Chester Elton: I really appreciate the fact that you’ve bought many of our books, anybody can buy just one, by the way, Jeremy. Buy two, one as a gift. Bar mitzvah, Mother’s Day is coming up, how appropriate would that be? And follow us on LinkedIn, Adrian and I are constantly posting short videos, and we’ve had a wonderful LinkedIn live show where we bring many of the leaders we’ve talked about as guests. So anything we can do to help you in your journey to become a better leader, those are three great places to go. LinkedIn, thecultureworks.com, and leadingwithgratitudebook.com.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Cool. Leadingwithgratitudebook.com, check it out. Check out their books, they will change the way you think, and change the way you act, more importantly, Chester, my last question, and if you have any other final stories, I’d love to hear them. One one of my things that I was listening to in the past few days when I hear you talk is about the Super Bowl, and it was a head slap in the face for me when you talk about this. So, I’d wonder if you talk about that for a second?
Chester Elton: Sure. We have so many leaders that say, "Look, I love to celebrate when we hit the goal." [inaudible 00:35:57], that’s good, you should. You hit the goal, you’re so amazing, what do you do in between?" He says, "Well, I’m a tough boss. It’s kind of what have you done for me lately, hit her hard every day." I said, "Well, are you a sports fan?" He goes, "Yeah." Well, do you watch the Superbowl? Yeah. I said, "Has your team ever been on the Super Bowl?" Yeah. Football fans, they know the date, the time, it’s almost like when they found religion. I said, "Well, when you were getting ready for the Superbowl, when did you start cheering for your team?" While we were making the guacamole. [inaudible 00:36:30] go, "Yeah." And painting your face and putting on the jersey. You cheered them before the game even started. And then the kickoff, and then every play. Why did you do that?
Chester Elton: He said, "Well, because they’re my team, and I want them to know I’m cheering so that they can build momentum. Exactly, why wouldn’t you do that for your team? Why wouldn’t you find those small wins along the way? Why wouldn’t you start cheering … Remember we were laughing before the podcast, I said, "When my kids were playing sports, I would cheer for them that they got their shoes on their right feet. That was a big deal." And so, that mentality of let’s build some momentum, let’s celebrate so many things. And you get the momentum, you get people’s emotional engagement so that when they hit that hard time, your team throws a pick six. You can continue to cheer because you’ve got that goodwill. They know they’ve got your back. I love the old saying that says people don’t care about how much you know, unless they know how much you care. And it is true.
Chester Elton: Again, coming back, that look, right now people are afraid. They are vulnerable. We’re not waking up in the morning saying, "What’s going to go right today?" Because our news feed tells us everything that’s gone wrong, that could go wrong, and probably will go wrong. And so we need to fill that void with the good news. One of my favorite stories and movies, and I watched them all, is about Mr. Rogers. Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, whether it was the movie or the documentary. There was one moment, and I can’t remember whether it was in reading or it was in one of the films, where he said as a little boy, he said to his mom, he said, "Mom, there’s a lot of bad news." And she said, "Yes, there is. And when there’s bad news, look for the helpers, there’s always people that want to help. So when things are hard, be one of the helpers."
Chester Elton: That’s always stuck with me and I thought, "You know what, now more than ever the world is looking for helpers. Leaders, that will be helpful." Co workers that will be helpful, and let’s celebrate the incredible heroes out there. They’re doing everything they can to keep us safe. They’re keeping their businesses going like our friends at Texas Roadhouse, and our families that love and support us. We’ve got a campaign, #find your gratitude, and I’ve made a commitment to post just a photo of something that I’m grateful for every day. And you know what, it’s a wonderful reminder that in the midst of all this negativity, there are places where you can find gratitude and be that helper. I hope when this is all done, the three things happen. That we become more grateful, that we become more kind, and we become more patient with each other. And if that’s what comes out of this crisis, you know what, we’ll be better people for it.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Chester, I want to be the first one to thank you. People should check out leadingwithgratitude book.com, thecultureworks.com. Check out all your books, buy all your books, and thank you so much.
Chester Elton: Thanks for having me. This has been a delight. You can call me anytime.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Will do.
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