On this episode of recruitAbility’s “Nothing’s Sacred” podcast, we are joined by Erik Qualman, a prolific keynote speaker and author of The Focus Project: The Not So Simple Art Of Doing Less.
We speak to Qualman about his new book, how he’s adjusting to the conference hiatus, workplace trends and innovations, and much more.
Nothing’s Sacred: Episode 4 Transcript
Nad Elias: [00:00:00] Hi guys, welcome to “Nothing’s Sacred” our podcast hosted by recruitAbility. I’m Nad Elias, here with my co-host, Nick Schenck. Nick. How’s it going today?
[00:00:09] Nick Schenck: [00:00:09] What’s up Nad? Looking forward to this one.
[00:00:11] Nad Elias: [00:00:11] Yeah, it’s going to be a good one. We’ve got a good friend, Erik Qualman. Equalman. E.Q., we’re going to be calling him one of those three throughout this podcast. How’s it going, Eric?
[00:00:24] Erik Qualman: [00:00:24] It’s going well. As long as it’s just those three you’re calling me, that’ll be a good day. Thank you.
[00:00:28] Nad Elias: [00:00:28] That’s right. We’re going to revert from name calling other than those three.
[00:00:34] Equalman has performed in more than 55 countries and reached 50 million people with this message. In 2012, he was named one of the world’s sixth most likable authors. Qualman was an academic All Big Ten in basketball at Michigan State University – go Spartans – and has previously been honored as alum of the year.
[00:00:53] A scholarship bears his name at MSU, his MBA is from the University of Texas. Go Horns. And he is a former sitting professor at MIT and Harvard edX. He received an honorary doctorate for his groundbreaking work. Most importantly Qualman is still trying to live up to the world’s greatest dad coffee mug he received from his wife and two daughters, something I know quite a bit about.
[00:01:15] Nick Schenck: [00:01:15] I have two daughters. I don’t have one of those mugs.
[00:01:17] Nad Elias: [00:01:17] I’ve got a daughter and a son and two mugs. So you have to live up to it twice as much.
[00:01:23] Erik Qualman: [00:01:23] You can’t drink out of it because it’s nail polish that’s never dried.
[00:01:27] Nad Elias: [00:01:27] You know, Eric, it’s great to have you on this, this podcast. We created Nothing’s Sacred to really focus on the habits of work. What’s changed from our parents. In my case, the baby boomer generation, how they worked, what were habits in their everyday life and what we see today. And this is of course even pre-COVID. And what we’re going to see after COVID and what are the habits that change and the trends that are bucked in work that will never be the same.
[00:02:04] So we’re bringing light to a lot of that – things like the four day work week, which, which you hear about. Um, uh, and, and what’s a Tim Ferriss actually takes the four-hour work week, right?
[00:02:13] Erik Qualman: [00:02:13] Four-and-a-half-hour work week.
[00:02:15] Nad Elias: [00:02:15] Is it four-and-a-half?
[00:02:16] Erik Qualman: [00:02:16] Yeah.
[00:02:16] Nad Elias: [00:02:16] It’s four-and-a-half.
[00:02:16] Erik Qualman: [00:02:16] I think. Maybe it’s four hour.
[00:02:18] Nick Schenck: [00:02:18] Close enough.
[00:02:19] Erik Qualman: [00:02:19] Fellow Austinite Tim Ferriss is probably cringing right now.
[00:02:22] Nad Elias: [00:02:22] That’s right. He’s like, he’s like, “Damnit Equalman, it’s four-and-a-half. It’s four-and-a-half. Not four.”
[00:02:28] Erik Qualman: [00:02:28] I think it’s four-hour work week. Yeah, I can see the picture of the hamock.
[00:02:31] Nad Elias: [00:02:31] It is. It’s four-hour work week. It’s four-hour work week.
[00:02:35] Erik Qualman: [00:02:35] I need a half more.
[00:02:37] Nad Elias: [00:02:37] Right. You always got to do more than what it says. Uh, Eric, how’s life going for you through all this?
[00:02:43] I mean, you speak and train all over the world. So that, that must’ve been a shock to the system when all this happened.
[00:02:49] Erik Qualman: [00:02:49] Yeah. I mean, we’re really fortunate. There’s a lot of people, a lot worse off than we are, but you’re exactly right. Come March. So I was on pace to fly 200,000 miles. And that’s usually in and out because I have the kids at home. That mug, you know, you got to live up to the mug. And so I have a 52-night rule that I won’t be away for more than 52 nights a year from the kids. So what that means is I once was in India for five hours to speak for five hours at Google. And then flew immediately back.
[00:03:17] Um, and so anyways, long story longer, come March, all that activity goes to zero. And so immediately your business – live speaking on stage – to zero. And so the beautiful thing is what I speak on stage is primarily around digital leadership and focus. And so it allowed us to have to innovate. So it’s something that we are better prepared than most to do.
[00:03:37] And we were doing virtual before because we have animation studios, virtual keynotes. And so fortunately we were poised for it. Obviously, we love for live events to come back. I miss people. I miss book signings, but yeah, I went to zero and it’s been a learning experience. And like they say, is that, “Hey, don’t waste the pandemic.”
[00:03:57] Right? Because this is where innovation happens. And so we’ve been able to do some stuff. I know a lot of your listeners are doing stuff. I know you guys are doing some innovation. And so it’s really just been forced upon us. I talk about digital leadership that you’re kind of in your car and we’re talking about transformations three or five years out.
[00:04:13] Here’s this wall of transformation, and all of a sudden overnight, bam, it moves it forward three to five years. So now we’re there and moved everything forward three to five years .
[00:04:23] Nad Elias: [00:04:23] And there’s, there’s, uh, generationally defining events, right? Uh, for me, 9/11 was one of them. But, uh, innovation happens during that time and for our parents, um, uh, they, they lived through different times that when they came out of it, um, again, there were trends and habits that will never exist didn’t exist before, but it’ll be there going forward.
[00:04:49]Nick Schenck: [00:04:49] Was there a moment or a day in March that you remember where kind of the magnitude of the situation hit you?
[00:04:56] Erik Qualman: [00:04:56] I think when our spring break was canceled with the kids, I go, this might not come back as quick as I think, um, when it first happened, I was actually exhausted from January and February, and our March was lighter than normally even know, March is generally super busy time of year, uh, for speaking.
[00:05:12] And so I go, wow, we got lucky on that one. Once March is through, we’ll be back on stage in April, but once it was canceled spring break, then it kinda hit, Okay, I’ll be back on stage in September. And then all of a sudden, you start going more into this. You go, Ooh, I might not be on stage again in 2021. So that’s what we’re looking at.
[00:05:31] But obviously there’s some live sport events that are pulling things off. So we’re always rooting for the NFL, Big Ten now, just trying to make sure all that happens. So we’ll just play it by ear. I heard something from someone smarter than I am just say: Plan for everything predict nothing. So basically you can control what you can control and that’s what we’re doing.
[00:05:49]Nad Elias: [00:05:49] We were, and as a sidebar, Eric and I’s daughters are really close friends and are both in the third grade together. And, uh, we were actually, I think, I think you were picking up your daughter at our house, you and your wife. And we sat around and had some drinks, and this was in March, and we were talking cause at the time, you hadn’t had a lot of events get canceled yet. Right. It kind of, it kind of hit really quickly, right?
[00:06:14] Erik Qualman: [00:06:14] Correct. Yeah. It was just, Oh, we haven’t had anything canceled. Maybe this one will cancel.
[00:06:17] Nad Elias: [00:06:17] Yeah. And this was in March when it happened, like kind of when South By gets canceled, then everything started following suit. And you and I were talking the same thing. He’s like, what are you investing in right now? Like trying to figure out, Hey, what’s, what’s, what’s the stock market doing now? What are some good investments to be looking at? But we were leaving the next week for our spring break.
[00:06:36] Which we went to Breckenridge and we’re there for we’re in Breckenridge for less than 48 hours. We landed, we got our lift tickets, we rented our equipment and then they close the mountain.
[00:06:48] Erik Qualman: [00:06:48] That’s right. That’s right. I remember we were supposed to fly out the next day and we were really lucky. Cause then they said, “Nope, they’re going to be sending you back.”
[00:06:57] Yeah, we got lucky by a day. Uh, another event was when March Madness, obviously I played basketball in college. And so when that was canceled and the amount of money that is lost around that event. I go, this is real. Uh, but yeah, I remember that conversation. It’s crazy. We just thought a lot of us thought it was just going to blow through and now we’re in it and hopefully it’s trending the right direction.
[00:07:19] We’ll see, you know, just plan plan for everything. Predict nothing.
[00:07:22]Nad Elias: [00:07:22] Well, and it might’ve been a couple of days before, we were at dinner. And I love this story because there was so much – not to make light of the situation, but at the time in March, we don’t know what we know now. And there was so much COVID going on in this restaurant, by the time we left it, uh, it was, it was, it was somewhat comical to us not knowing what we know now, but we were, uh, we had gotten to dinner, uh, again with our wives, probably about 7p, 7:30p.
[00:07:49] And, um, we had a really good time and we were hanging out and about 10, 10:30p, um, the place started filling up. And our table became a bottle service table. Right. And before we knew it, there was a DJ and, um, uh, I mean, elbow to elbow, like my wife went into the bathroom and she said, there are girls talking about which guys they’re going to kiss.
[00:08:13] And I’m like, this is amazing. And Eric comes back. He’s like, yeah, these people don’t care about COVID. I mean, you might’ve walked to the restroom, but you walked through all the people.
[00:08:21] Erik Qualman: [00:08:21] I think I was starting about to maybe go through the people, and I go, you know, I’m just going to hold it because we’re going to leave soon. And I go, I don’t know if there’s COVID.
[00:08:31] We know a lot more today, but at the time we just didn’t know. So it’s just like, well, I’m just gonna play it safe. I’m not walking through that mosh pit.
[00:08:37] Nad Elias: [00:08:37] Exactly. And then obviously then within weeks, right then South By then March Madness and all those things happen. So, um, but speaking of sports, um, you’re a sports nut, big Michigan State guy, a Texas fan, too, because of your MBA.
[00:08:52]Erik Qualman: [00:08:52] Got the Heisman trophy winner on the team this year.
[00:08:55] Nad Elias: [00:08:55] That’s right.
[00:08:55] Erik Qualman: [00:08:55] From Westlake High School.
[00:08:56] Nad Elias: [00:08:56] Hopefully, we make it through the season, but if we do, I feel good about it. Yeah. But what’s, what’s your take on sports and how sports is pivoted? We don’t know what’s going to happen with college basketball yet, and how they’re working out protocols, but you know, these teams in these different sports, they’re figuring it out.
[00:09:14] Erik Qualman: [00:09:14] Yeah. It’s amazing to me. They can figure this out. So hopefully fingers crossed they continue down the line, some sports easier than others when you think about golf or tennis, but yeah, some of these big sports, especially the NFL, it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. But, uh, so far so good.
[00:09:29] Nick Schenck: [00:09:29] I thought it was interesting. Tom Brady called it a scrimmage atmosphere when he was playing at the Saints this past weekend. And, um, you know, it is, it’s just dead quiet. You hear some crowd noise. I think the broadcasters pipe in, but it’s bizarre. I mean, I still enjoy watching it, but the emotion is eliminated a little bit.
[00:09:50] I mean, I watched the Broncos-Titans game, Monday Night Football, and Mile High is just known to have that energy. And it’s like, kind of why even watching it on TV, you’re just like, eh.
[00:10:01] Nad Elias: [00:10:01] Yeah, except they’re pumping in music. They’re pumping in sound, though. You can hear the ambient noise.
[00:10:04] Nick Schenck: [00:10:04] The quarterback from the Broncos is like I spoke in a hushed tone in the huddle, because I didn’t want the defense to hear the call.
[00:10:13] Nad Elias: [00:10:13] Yeah. Yeah. Uh, NBA, I think has done a great job. I love what they’re doing with the technology. As a basketball guy, uh, I love playing and watching the sport.
[00:10:22] It’s cool to see the different angles that they’re using and how they’re getting creative with how they’re covering it. It’s been pretty neat to watch.
[00:10:29] Nick Schenck: [00:10:29] They had to kick a virtual fan out of the game recently, like virtual fans were zooming in to appear on the board.
[00:10:34] But I think, um, somebody who was like flashing some sign and they had to like remove the person. So that became like a noteworthy event.
[00:10:44] Nad Elias: [00:10:44] Uh, it’s too funny. Hey, I want to talk a bit about the book. Ask you some questions on that and, and just, just, you know, it really struck a chord with me. As a self-proclaimed workaholic, your concept of staying focused and in many ways, doing less and just doing less better, it really resonated with me. I find myself looking for ways to stay busy, uh, and I’m interested in some of the research and just your idea behind the project and how the concept came to be practiced for you. Cause it’s something that I could certainly use a lot of help with.
[00:11:25] Erik Qualman: [00:11:25] Yeah, for me it was something I was wrestling with and the book is not for the downtrodden. It’s not for a person that’s not an A personality. It’s actually for that person, the person that’s excelling. They’re hitting triples, but they know there’s home runs, there’s grand slams out there. And at the end of the day, they might not feel as fulfilled as maybe they should at what society would deem success.
[00:11:46]I’d get excited when I would think about what if I just focused on sales for this month? What if I just focused on writing for this month, instead of trying to juggle all these things at once, what would that look like? So that was the spark, and I tried to get excited about it for a year.
[00:12:04] And then since it was on my brain, I started asking in the green room, because live events were happening. And so in the green room, that’s before you go on stage, you’re really lucky to sit with some top thought leaders, other speakers that are there. It might be a Malcolm Gladwell that you can have a conversation with, it might be some astronaut like Mark Kelly that just got off the space shuttle.
[00:12:22]But what fascinates me most is the leaders of these companies. So they have 20,000 employees. So I’d ask them, like, how do you manage all these 20,000 people? And how are you so successful in there? They’d say: focus. I go, all right, now what’s the biggest challenge? And they go: staying focused.
[00:12:40] Like I’m a little bit more focused than most people, but my biggest challenge is staying focused, not being overwhelmed by the sea of opportunity. So the more people I asked, whether it was a school teacher, whether a stay-at-home dad, whether it was a CEO or a small business. They’re all the same issue that I was wrestling with was focus.
[00:12:58] And so I go, well, why don’t I take on a project and take the street research or the research, the scientific research. Essentialism, stoicism. Like this’ll work if you eat this, this helps. If you sleep this way, it helps. And then marry it up with me being the guinea pig. That’s why it’s called the project.
[00:13:14] So take the street science, my kind of firsthand approach, and marry it with that institutional science. And then each month just kind of give myself a grade, like a kindergartner, like A, B, C, D. And what I learned is that focus is really, really hard. So I got two A’s out of 12 months. But focus can be learned. It can become a habit.
[00:13:35] Nad Elias: [00:13:35] Which ones did you get A’s on?
[00:13:36] Erik Qualman: [00:13:36] The first month because otherwise the project would have folded. So the focus on growth, which for a lot of people that might be sales, but I call it growth because it depends on what you’re doing. Your growth might be raising money for charity, but what could you not let the ball drop?
[00:13:51] And so to allow you to do a project and keep in mind, I looked at it and I said, what could the average person dedicate per day? And I said, they could probably dedicate 30 minutes to two hours a day to focus on something specific, probably 30 minutes. And so that was what the goal was. But for the first month it was sales, and I failed five times starting the project, like for a year I kept going, okay, this is the month. We’re going to focus on sales for this month. Oh yeah. We’ve always had sales in this month, and I go, wait, am I supposed to dedicate two hours a day? And then the whole month I dedicated 17 minutes for the whole month because I let the immediate take over the important.
[00:14:30] But long story longer, once I did focus on sales, we had a record sales month ,like so much so, it almost was a record year just in that month, just by doing that for two hours a day. That was it. So that showed me the power of focus. And it also allowed me to write the rest of the book, because I go, okay, now that I’ve got kind of the table stakes in place, now we can go each month by month with something different.
[00:14:51]It was fun to do. And the learnings were great. It’s a reference that I’m going to use when I start to lose it. Cause you still start to lose the gravitational pull is to kind of not focus, it’s to go to the immediate rather than the important.
[00:15:04]Nick Schenck: [00:15:04] Do you think that a lot of people have issues with focusing because the long list of things they have to say no to, to focus on the one thing that they need to get done?
[00:15:15] Erik Qualman: [00:15:15] You said it right there. It’s about saying no. And so the things that some of the top learnings was A) focus is hard, but focus can become a habit. B) people that are super successful, they’re not more talented or smarter than us. They have the ability to say no. And how do they say no? They have systems and processes in place.
[00:15:32] They don’t rely on willpower. So it’s a system or a processes in place that helps them say no. So today, through this learning, I’m much better at saying no, because most of us are people pleasers, because it actually does benefit you to be a people pleaser going back thousands of years, you know, tribes, assimilating with the tribe.
[00:15:49] But now today, if someone asks a request, if it’s not an emphatic yes, then it’s an emphatic no. And so that’s what most of the top performers have understood and they embrace.
[00:16:01] Nad Elias: [00:16:01] Yeah. I highlighted that quote in the book, right? The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything. And it’s fascinating to me because I’m a yes man. I mean, I’ll say yes to anything and everything. And actually there’s a movie about that called “Yes Man.”
[00:16:21] Right? I don’t know if you ever saw it, right? No, you should, it’s with Jim Carrey, and he has to say yes. He gets hit with whatever. Right. And he has to say yes to everything and he realizes – it actually contradicts your book – he realizes how much progress he can make by just saying yes. So it’s like, hey, take this yoga class. Yes. He keeps saying yes to everything.
[00:16:44] Erik Qualman: [00:16:44] Yeah. That’s a good, good point. Because the other learning is that the opposite of a known truth is often true. Meaning, what you just said is if you say yes to everything, but we did it in context of, with my family, I’ll say no to them, my kids. Because you always think that they’re going to be there.
[00:17:03] You take them for granted. Hey, you want to play cards while can we do this game, daddy? No. Because you’re trying to do this. And then, so for one month, just for comedic value even, I just said yes to everything. Can we have candy cane waffles? Yes. We can’t have them every day, but today you can have candy cane waffles for breakfast.
[00:17:25] And so I do suggest everyone do that with your kids for a month, just say yes to everything, just to see their astonished looks on their faces.
[00:17:33] Nad Elias: [00:17:33] Because they’re asking you, expecting the no, so you hit them with a yes.
[00:17:37] Erik Qualman: [00:17:37] Yep. Yeah. But that’s training you to, to just say yes to the right people.
[00:17:43] Nick Schenck: [00:17:43] Actually, I’m going to drive home today. I’m going to stop at Walgreens. I’m going to buy a bunch of shaving cream. And I’m going to play with my daughters with the shaving cream, because they’ve been asking me about that.
[00:17:53] Nad Elias: [00:17:53] And you’ve been saying no.
[00:17:54] Nick Schenck: [00:17:54] And I was saying, nah, but I’ll do it. You know, that’s a good point. That’s a great point.
[00:17:59] Nad Elias: [00:17:59] And it really puts the concept of focus in the light. You referenced this in your book, but Jay Papasan’s The One Thing, we have with our staff. We have one time, right where they’re focused time. And it’s in the morning from 9:30-11:30. And we ask in the morning in our huddle, what’s the one thing you have to do today.
[00:18:20] And I grabbed a lot of that from his book and we put it into our organization because I have trouble focusing. And so if it helps me out, I assume it’s going to help our team out. And at the end of the day, they report on: Did they complete that one thing? All I want to know in the day is, did you finish the one thing you said you were going to do for that day?
[00:18:43] And that concept came, actually I heard Gary Keller speak, but he was referencing the book when he talked about that. And it really resonated with me, but it’s a very similar sort of concept to, you know, hey, say no to everything else. Just what you plan to focus on for that day.
[00:18:57] Erik Qualman: [00:18:57] Yeah. Yeah. No, for sure. And if you don’t know that book, it’s The One Thing by Jay Papasan and Gary Keller. I sat down with Jay a couple of times as we led into this book, just to pick his brain. But you’re exactly right. One of the learnings is writing down what’s the one thing I need to do that makes everything else either easier or unnecessary?
[00:19:17] It sounds so simple, but literally I’m in the middle of writing the focus project and I’d write that one thing down. I go, that’s gonna take me 20 to 30 minutes to do that. And at the end of the day, I wouldn’t get it done. And here I am, I am in the middle of writing a book on focus. And so that’s how hard it is. And so that’s why it’s about getting those systems over time. Repetition, repetition to get that habit.
[00:19:38] Nick Schenck: [00:19:38] Yeah. The thing I find myself struggling with sometimes is, you know, there could be one main thing I need to focus on, but it’s going to take maybe a day or two to get through it. And mentally, I love the feeling – everyone loves the feeling – of crossing things off a list. So if you have 10 things that don’t take very long, you can cross off the list or you leave those things and focus on the one thing that takes longer. I think like human nature is to like focus on the things you can cross off easier. And so it’s a constant struggle of like, okay, I could put those 10 things off, even though I can’t cross them off. I need to focus on this big thing.
[00:20:13] So I imagine quite a few people are like that.
[00:20:16] Erik Qualman: [00:20:16] Do you know why you want to cross off the list? You know, why biologically you want to cross that off?
[00:20:20] Nick Schenck: [00:20:20] Just a feeling of accomplishment?
[00:20:21] Erik Qualman: [00:20:21] That’s actually giving you a dopamine hit when you do that. Now in the digital era, that’s tricky because now that dopamine hit comes from you taking your email from a hundred down to zero.
[00:20:31] So it’s actually a drug that makes you feel good and it can be a problem because it’s highly addictive. So dopamine is what you get when you gamble and you win, it’s when you’re an alcoholic. And so when you think about that email, it’s that quick win.
[00:20:46] And so you mentioned something too about the morning, so your staff gets together the huddle. So that’s another key learning that we had, or I had during the project. And I’ll ask you this question. All of us are either a robin an eagle or an owl. And so robin, eagle, or owl. And so if you had nothing to do on Saturday, I know this is going to be tough to kind of visualize, but you have nothing planned for Saturday, little easier in COVID, in pandemic, but you have nothing. There’s no game you have to go to with your kids. Like there’s no alarm set. What time would you guys naturally wake up?
[00:21:20] Nick Schenck: [00:21:20] Probably 9:30.
[00:21:22] Nad Elias: [00:21:22] 7:30.
[00:21:23] Erik Qualman: [00:21:23] Okay. So 7:30. You’re both eagles. You’re close to a night owl. So if you’re 10:00 AM or higher, you’re a night owl, most people are eagles are 7-10 AM, anything before seven you’re robin.
[00:21:36] But the reason that’s important is because you guys have your meeting in the morning to do that, an hour after you naturally would get up is your power hour. So all of us have brain drain. Just like your phone, you got plugged it in your phone gets drained during the day, your brain, same things happen, especially as decisions come, decisions come.
[00:21:53] That’s why Steve Jobs, Zuckerberg. I generally wear a grey t-shirt. I don’t think about, it’s one less decision, and I ate the same thing for breakfast for the entire year for The Focus Project. But it’s really about that power hour. And so all the listeners out there, it’s understand what your power hour is.
[00:22:08] And make sure an hour after you naturally get up, don’t answer those emails during that power hour, you gotta do that one thing like in your huddle, what’s going to take the most brain power. What’s that creative task. What’s the one thing that’s going to matter. And so don’t save it towards the end of the day. Because then your brain’s going to be kaput. It’s like do it during that power hour.
[00:22:25] Nad Elias: [00:22:25] Yeah. Yeah. Now my wife’s a fashion consultant, and I’ve simplified my wardrobe as well, much to her chagrin. I wear nothing but v-neck tee shirts and jeans. I vary the tennis shoes. That’s my thing. I keep different types of tennis shoes.
[00:22:40] Erik Qualman: [00:22:40] There are some silver linings with the pandemic. That’s one of them. I think that fashion, that’s going to stick. Like I don’t think people are gonna be wearing – not that they were wearing suits before, but I think that the casualness is even going further. It’s the comfort level of just being, you know, who you are. And yeah, I can speak for her, some of the work that she has had has been: Hey, help me clean out our closet. How do we simplify, you know, our wardrobe and I think a lot of that is something that’s changed as a result of COVID.
[00:23:11] Nick Schenck: [00:23:11] My wife turned that into a business, so she took all the stuff in her closet she wasn’t going to wear anymore.
[00:23:16] And started this Poshmark account. Marked up the prices and now she’s selling her clothing that she was just going to give away before.
[00:23:24] Nad Elias: [00:23:24] There you go.
[00:23:25] Nick Schenck: [00:23:25] Entrepreneurial.
[00:23:26] Nad Elias: [00:23:26] Right. That’s right. Speaking of the workplace habits, um, you know, there there’s a lot that has been necessary because of COVID. Um, you know, we can talk pre COVID, post COVID, but what are work habits that you think will be forever changed. You know, I think in our podcasts, even pre COVID, we talked about four-day workweeks, six-hour days. I imagine much of that has to do with focus. Right. Hey, if you can get that focus, right. You don’t need an eight hour day. Right. Uh, what do you think? What are some work habits that you’re predicting might change?
[00:24:00] Erik Qualman: [00:24:00] I mean, touchless, that’s just more of a physical thing. I was just with The National Parking Association. So all the people that own all the parking lots. So they’ve gone down 90%. Like 90% drop in revenue. So they’ve had to get innovative. And so what do they do is that now they have these dark kitchens. Dark kitchens is just the name for you need to order food. There’s not like a physical restaurant you can go to, it’s just this dark kitchen makes – they need better branding, because it sounds like a seedy place, but just to get a kitchen that produces food that then is curbside or delivery only. There’s no, never has been an interior that you could go into. So there’s stuff like that.
[00:24:37] They’ve converted the drive-in theaters. So there’s a lot of innovation that’s happening. I do think, so touchless is a big one that’s going to come out of this. I think obviously you can see with the bandwidth. So just broadband. So broadband it’s like pre broadband post broadband. Now we’re living in like this super fiber era. It’s forced Google, Comcast, all these networks to get more robust and so it allows working from home to be more of a possibility.
[00:25:05] That being said, the big debate that I have, we don’t know the answer, because I always debate back and forth. Because I’ve been a consultant and also within companies where they test – I was at one company that’s huge. They have mainly young, 30 year olds, or young, 20-to-30 year olds that work there. And so they go, all right.
[00:25:23] And the owner of the company, I mean, it’s huge. It’s a huge privately held company. He’s not a big fan of working from home. So he goes, well, here’s what we’re gonna do. Everyone’s telling me about, I got work from home. All right. If the sales team can achieve their number, then we’re going to let them take Friday off.
[00:25:40] They can take Friday off, sales teams can take Friday off just Friday. Off, meaning that they’re working from home.
[00:25:45] Nad Elias: [00:25:45] And there’s a difference, right?
[00:25:47] Erik Qualman: [00:25:47] They’re working from home. So on Friday sales teams can all work from home and if the sales team could beat their number for the quarter or match it, then everybody now can work from home on Fridays.
[00:25:58] Twice it didn’t work. Now the question is it seems to be working during the pandemic. Now, is that because there’s nothing else to do? So that’s one argument, or is it because we’ve gotten used to it and the broadband’s better? Then third is you’ve got this big debate is that you can’t have all Tom Brady’s on your team.
[00:26:17] If your football team is all Tom Brady’s, that’d be a terrible team, but a Tom Brady can get their work done whenever. You tell them, here’s what you need to get done. They’re going to get it done, but every team – this is controversial – but there’s people on that team that have to physically be somewhere. Otherwise, they’re not going to excel. And so you could argue, is that on them or is that on the organization to make sure? And then you have the big debate. Why does that person get to work remote?
[00:26:44] Nad Elias: [00:26:44] Totally.
[00:26:44] Erik Qualman: [00:26:44] This person doesn’t. And you guys are in this space, so I’d love to hear your thoughts, but it’s a big, big talking point right now to see what comes out of this.
[00:26:52] Nad Elias: [00:26:52] That company with the sales team performing and everybody else gets to take off, it reminds me of playing basketball as a kid. You miss free throws, everybody else had to do pushups, right? You take your shots, but if you miss everybody else does the push-ups.
[00:27:09] Nick Schenck: [00:27:09] At the Houston Texans, when I was working there in digital marketing, um, the sales team hit – the corporate sales team – hit their sponsorship number. And they all got to go on a vacation to Pebble Beach. I’m sitting here thinking everyone else in this organization supported corporate sales hitting that goal. And like what we’re getting like table scraps here. What’s up with that? So like, I think if you have a separate set of rules for one department versus the others, it kind of creates division.
[00:27:35] Nad Elias: [00:27:35] Yeah. Yeah. Some of the things that we’ve seen, uh, you know, you were talking about big companies and small companies, how they look at, uh, the work environments, um, just in the last 90 days, uh, Google, IBM, Facebook, they’re buying up real estate in major markets, New York, the Bay Area, Dallas.
[00:27:56]My prediction is that working from home isn’t going as well. Now that they have these data sets and they’re measuring production. These big companies are, right, because they have these large data sets. They’re realizing. Okay. It’s the cool thing, but it actually doesn’t work as well. Right. And so I think there’s going to be a gravitation back into the office, probably not to the extent or the way it was before.
[00:28:23] Right. What I see happening, which is, you know, right now we live in Austin, and traffic is great.
[00:28:29] Erik Qualman: [00:28:29] It’s great.
[00:28:29] Nad Elias: [00:28:29] You know, just being able to drive. Driving to the office now is amazing. Do I ever want to go back to a one-hour commute? No. Right. So maybe those change, right? Maybe you start seeing the flex scheduling more.
[00:28:40] They’re like, okay, I’m going to work 7 am to 4pm. Right. And just not have to sit in the traffic. Right. I think that’s one thing we’ll see shifting, but I do see a return to work. Just I see it more balanced. And to your point with focus, we talked to a lot of organizations that run results-based organizations, right?
[00:29:06] How much accountability do you have? It’s easier in sales, right? That’s why they have these awards and these penalties in sales. Because it’s easier to measure accountability. It’s not as easy at a dev shop or for an analyst, right? So how did they create those metrics for every type of function?
[00:29:24] Right? If you can create those metrics and you say, hey, look, do this today, accomplish this. And you could be done with your day. That’s sales, right? Sales. If you hit your number, we don’t care what you do the rest of the day. We don’t care what you do the rest of the week. How can we create those metrics for other professions?
[00:29:41] And I think we’re going to see more of that because that creates results-based environment that in many ways is built on focus. Right?
[00:29:48]Nick Schenck: [00:29:48] The tough thing with sales in other departments is, let’s say marketing, you could have a traffic goal for someone who’s in marketing, but a lot of people, a lot of factors contribute to hitting that goal or not. In sales, I think it’s easier to draw a direct line between someone’s individual efforts and closing a deal . That line’s a little blurrier in maybe other functions – marketing, for instance. So I think it’s just a little squishier, so it’s tougher, but I get your point and, yeah, I’ve heard of organizations like that, you know, you hit your goal for the quarter, like I’m not gonna sweat you .
[00:30:19] Nad Elias: [00:30:19] Yeah. And then the four-day work week, right. That’s something that was being discussed pre-COVID. And, you know, it’s funny, it’s either a four-day work week or five days with one day work from home. I mean, let’s be clear. Those are different things.
[00:30:35] Erik Qualman: [00:30:35] They were testing it out before COVID.
[00:30:38] Nad Elias: [00:30:38] Was it Base Camp? Base Camo, I think, went to a four-day work week. And they’re already in a virtual environment. And then they added to that a 4-day work week, and this was all pre-COVID and there have been studies that show more production.
[00:30:57] You know, because you’re accomplishing more in a shorter period of time. Right. Right. Which is again, going back to focus.
[00:31:04] Erik Qualman: [00:31:04] And then my wife and I always joke, we want people to go back to the office because we were already kind of, we’d go in three days a week, but now our adjustment will probably be two days a week with the team.
[00:31:16] And we’re seeing that with other companies is that it’ll change the way. If it’s everyone comes in on Monday and Thursday, then when everyone’s in Monday and Thursday, everyone knows you’re only in. So it’s all going to be collaboration work, but we’re sitting there going, because you used to have the golf course to yourself.
[00:31:31] Now, if you were looking at the data, golf’s through the roof. And so it’s like, I want everyone to go back, selfishly I want everyone to go back. because it used to be, you just have the whole streets yourself and everything to yourself. But I think that, that, I think there’ll be more of a hybrid approach and it’ll adjust what you do when you’re in the office.
[00:31:48] Nad Elias: [00:31:48] Yep. Yeah. We’ve seen that since we started. We went back Monday, Wednesday, totally voluntary. The office is open. We’ve got all the safety measures. You want to be here, you can be here. If you’re not comfortable that you don’t want to, you don’t have to. What I found – and this is based only on recruitAbility’s internal employee research – the millennials, they’re not coming in. The people that are coming in are the ones with kids.
[00:32:14] Erik Qualman: [00:32:14] Yeah, sure.
[00:32:16] Nad Elias: [00:32:16] I mean, as soon as we did it, right, everybody at our office that has kids, they could not wait to go back. They’re like: Oh honey, I got to go back to the office. It’s mandatory. And which it’s clearly not. And then the millennials were like: Ah, I got a one bedroom flat. I got my computer now. And I got it. Yeah, this is great. They figured they’re like I don’t want to go back, and they don’t have anything in their house, but themselves and, you know, a cat or a dog running around. And so we’ve seen that still to this day.
[00:32:43] Like I have one of our recruiters, she has yet to come into the office. Yeah. Yeah. And she also travels every weekend.
[00:32:54] Nick Schenck: [00:32:54] She’s maximizing this time.
[00:32:55] Nad Elias: [00:32:55] Totally. She’s traveling all over the place.
[00:32:57] Erik Qualman: [00:32:57] I think people are getting more real about it, too. I always used to, some of my employees would always be like, our team was like, what? I’d be going, today we’re working remote. So it’s a gorgeous day. I hope you’re working outside. I hope you’re walking. I hope you’re exercising, you know? Just be real about it.
[00:33:13] Nad Elias: [00:33:13] Yeah. And we called it, we had one day, we were four days in the office pre COVID and we always had one day, Thursdays, we called it work remote Thursdays.
[00:33:23] And what I told everybody was it’s not work from home. Experience Austin, go plug in at a coffee shop, you know, or go to Mozart’s and sit outside and work the afternoon. Right. We just wanted them to experience and be outside. Or in an environment other than their homes. Right. Just plug in for the afternoon.
[00:33:42] And then that, that might be more focused on research that day. Whatever it might be, but you’re right, it creates different ways for time management in a lot of ways.
[00:33:52] Erik Qualman: [00:33:52] So what do you guys see, because it can get controversial quickly, but if you look at – we’ll make it less controversial – so look at a big company like Amazon. Can an Amazon have all A players?
[00:34:07] Nick Schenck: [00:34:07] No.
[00:34:09] Erik Qualman: [00:34:09] Then when you say no, I mean, they could be an A maybe in their role, but like, is there players that wouldn’t function well if they were told you’ve got to get to this point?
[00:34:21] Nad Elias: [00:34:21] I think there’s an A player in every function. It’s just what people measure as the responsibility of that function.
[00:34:29] So a warehouse worker, there’s an A warehouse worker, but if you’re trying to have that warehouse worker maybe run inventory, they might not be an A on inventory. Right. And I think there’s a book called Topgrading, which I don’t know if you ever heard, and we teach a lot of those interview best practices. What Topgrading says is: Hey, look you’re an A player or a B player, a B player has the potential to become an A player.
[00:34:58] Your C players, just get rid of them. Because they can get to Bs, but they can’t get to As. Right? And he’s got the different questions that you’re supposed to ask around that. I don’t know if that’s the right answer, but that’s what I’ve seen.
[00:35:12] Erik Qualman: [00:35:12] It’s a tricky question, because then you take Tom Brady. You’re now the offensive guard, you’d be terrible.
[00:35:17] Nad Elias: [00:35:17] Because it’s not his function.
[00:35:20] Erik Qualman: [00:35:20] But if you look at a team as well, I don’t think there’s a team that’s ever been all All Pros. Does that make sense? If All Pro is your line of A, then there are, I’ll call them B players on that team that wins the Super Bowl.
[00:35:34] And if you take, a lot of times, these dream teams that they put together, not just basketball, but these collective All-Star teams, they get smoked by these other teams. There’s other factors because the other team has been together longer, but it’s always interesting.
[00:35:48] Nad Elias: [00:35:48] Well, like you can take, you know, in NFL, the Pro Bowlers right, they’re all A players at their position.
[00:35:56] And again, it’s more exhibition. They don’t practice nearly as much. But the dream team stories in basketball, those teams, before everybody figured them out, they were cleaning up, right? Those are A players in every function.
[00:36:12] Nick Schenck: [00:36:12] To me, what separates A players is how much it means to them.
[00:36:16] It’s hard to get in an organization, especially beyond maybe like 10-20 people, where everyone who’s working there, it means so much to them. And so that, to me, that’s the difference. Because if it means a lot to you, you’re going to go that extra distance. And I kind of got that concept when I – going back to my Houston Texans days, Gary Kubiak would talk about the players that he cared about the most, that he loved the most, the biggest compliment he could give them was like football means a lot to that player. And what he wasn’t saying, but was implied is that, that player’s doing this because football matters to him versus players who maybe are doing it because of the things that football can buy that person.
[00:37:00] And that always resonated with me.
[00:37:02]Nad Elias: [00:37:02] In our world, I’ve had clients tell me after an interview, what’d you think of that candidate? And they tell me: Well, he’s a solid B player. That doesn’t mean they’re going to hire him. You know, I actually, I’ve never had a client say – the feedback can be: He’s a solid B player, but they’re not going to come back and say I’m going to put an offer out to them. Right. They’re waiting for that A. But again, maybe it’s about what makes up that A player. What’s the definition of that A player? I think in a lot of ways.
[00:37:30] Nick Schenck: [00:37:30] I have a question about just your business. I saw Facebook made an announcement not too long ago that creators can now charge people to access their live streams on Facebook. I’d love to hear about some of the innovations you’re making with your business. And is that something that you would ever consider in terms of giving talks on Facebook live and putting it behind a paywall?
[00:37:51] Erik Qualman: [00:37:51] I mean, we’re always willing to test different things. And so it’s interesting. Because later today, I’m going to go down to the University of Texas, and they have the first-ever influencer class. So I’ll be giving a lecture down there with the professor friend of mine. But it’s their first ever influencer class.
[00:38:06] This isn’t how to become an influencer. It’s actually the other side of the coin. As a brand, how do you hire influencers? And I’m sure they’ll have a course next semester that’s how to become an influencer. So they have both. But it’s been an interesting thing. Influencers have always been there.
[00:38:21] I remember, this is funny, because I grew up in Detroit. So I worked at Cadillac and so we were doing a Cadillac commercial. We had Cindy Crawford in one ad, and then we had Barry Sanders, the running back for the Lions, in another ad. And so we had to pay Cindy Crawford, at the time, a lot of money. We had to pay her $500,000 to be in that commercial.
[00:38:38] And then Barry’s like: If you give me a free Cadillac, I’m good. Barry was awesome, because he just goes along. That’s a whole ‘nother podcast we can talk about how awesome Barry Sanders is.
[00:38:49] Nad Elias: [00:38:49] We can dedicate the whole podcast to just that.
[00:38:52] Erik Qualman: [00:38:52] To him just being a great human being. He’s cutting his lawn. He’s coming to watch me play tennis on our tennis team in high school. He’s just a great dude. But anyways, influence has always been there. It’s just a different model in what it looks like today. And so I’ve been on both sides of the influencer game, and recently I’ve done some stuff with like Sleep Number and Samsung. And it’s great for everybody. And so yeah, whenever there is a new tool, we usually look at it, and if we have the bandwidth, we’ll test it because it might be the next thing.
[00:39:22]But it’s really about just getting out there, testing, failing fast, failing forward, failing better.
[00:39:27] Nick Schenck: [00:39:27] Yeah. You see a lot of journalists now who – maybe they’re getting laid off by their newspapers – and they’re starting Patreon accounts or Substack accounts, and it’s going direct-to-consumer and getting subscription payments through those services.
[00:39:39] And it’s kind of an interesting trend. And I wonder if people are going to start getting their news less so from newspapers and more so from like individual reporters that they have affinity toward.
[00:39:50] Nad Elias: [00:39:50] Create a lot of op-ed opportunities. Are you on Tik Tok?
[00:39:55] Erik Qualman: [00:39:55] We’re on Tik Tok. We’re on there.
[00:39:57] Nad Elias: [00:39:57] Okay.
[00:39:57] Erik Qualman: [00:39:57] That’s good.
[00:39:57] Nad Elias: [00:39:57] Some good personal videos? You got any dance videos on there?
[00:40:00] Erik Qualman: [00:40:00] We’re doing some dad jokes to start, we’re testing stuff. And one thing that hit was in March, because we have some animators. I go, you know, there’s not a good moving graph of the Coronavirus. And so that’d be helpful for me to see it. We’re always asking how can we help?
[00:40:16] So it gets back to focus. Whenever you don’t know what to do, always ask, how can I help? And so we go, well, as animators, what can we do? Oh, can we do that? Okay. We can figure it out. Alright. So we figured it out. And then I bring this up, because someone on Tik Tok like reposted it on Tik Tok. It got 20 million views.
[00:40:31] So we’re like, Whoa. The organic reach on LinkedIn and Tik Tok are massive right now. Really everything else you have to pay to play. But LinkedIn and Tik Tok still have massive organic – and organic just meaning free – reach. You don’t have to pay for it.
[00:40:45] Nad Elias: [00:40:45] Yeah. Are you seeing Tik Tok…you know, obviously we’ve seen the craze from a social standpoint.
[00:40:53] Is there a professional business related opportunity there?
[00:41:00] Erik Qualman: [00:41:00] Yeah. I mean, for what we do, it’s just with the younger generation getting exposure to that younger generation, think about 20 million views. That’s crazy. And some of the other stuff we’re posting, some of it gets like zero. Right. So you’re just testing to see what works, but it’s really a better mousetrap.
[00:41:16] So it’s not anything revolutionary. It’s just a better version of an Instagram, which is a better version of Facebook, which is a better version of MySpace. It’s not revolutionary these items. They’re more evolutionary. The algorithm is really good. So I always limit myself to 15 minutes.
[00:41:31] Nad Elias: [00:41:31] And then generations define it. Right? We were at our holiday party last, uh, last December. That’s when I first found out about Tik Tok. One of our millennials was like, Oh, you’re not on Tik Tok? I was like, Tik Tok? What’s Tik Tok? I got the app and I was, I was on Tik Tok, you know, ever since our holiday party, but, um, there’s certain people that have never been on Facebook. Instagram, Tik Tok, and it follows these sort of generational divides in a lot of ways.
[00:42:00] Nick Schenck: [00:42:00] Okay. I might need to give Tik Tok another chance. I had it. I downloaded it. I checked it out and it started serving me all these, um, dance videos of girls in their twenties and younger. And I was like, this kind of seems creepy. I’m going to uninstall it. And then I started hearing about the privacy concerns with China.
[00:42:16] And so I uninstalled it, but I’ve heard enough good things on the other side of the coin that it’s probably worth another shot.
[00:42:21]Nad Elias: [00:42:21] Let’s talk a bit about AI. We do quite a bit of work in artificial intelligence. And you mentioned this earlier in the podcast on touchless and things that we’re seeing out there. Going forward, most of these organizations are going to be incorporating some type of AI in their business.
[00:42:37]This isn’t really COVID related. This has been a thing for a while. Um, anything you’re seeing out there with some of the companies that you’ve worked with or any innovations around AI that you’re seeing out there?
[00:42:52] Erik Qualman: [00:42:52] It’s funny because one of the top questions I get is: What do I see, like breaking through, coming through?
[00:42:57] And I go, it’s the marriage of artificial intelligence with the gig economy, meaning Uber, Instacart, because I want to – on Alexa – go, Alexa, I want you to go get the same groceries I got last week just to have them delivered in an hour. And I want you to look for any coupons you can and apply those coupons, and that’s it.
[00:43:18] It’s saving me a hassle. And so anyone that can figure out that – they marry that AI with the gig economy – I think that’s what we’re gonna see play out here in the next couple of years at a massive level.
[00:43:28] Nad Elias: [00:43:28] Yeah.
[00:43:29] Erik Qualman: [00:43:29] Um, artificial intelligence, some unique things you can see like lawyers. I love that they use, they repurpose Watson.
[00:43:37] So they used to have a paralegal that has to spend all these hours and they bill the hours to the client. But now 80% of it’s boilerplate. The artificial intelligence can go read like this 30-page contract and just get the 20% that the lawyer needs to look at. Like this is boilerplate.
[00:43:53] Nad Elias: [00:43:53] Does that save the client money?
[00:43:55] Erik Qualman: [00:43:55] It saves the lawyer. It saves the paralegal time that they’d pay that paralegal. So it saves the lawyer time. So it depends on that lawyer if they want to transfer that savings to the client. Good lawyers would because it’s a fully transparent society, and so bad lawyers don’t. And so it’s really just understanding that that’s a huge saving. It’s getting rid of like a lot of waste when you think about that time.
[00:44:21] So that’s some of the cool stuff. You can see artificial intelligence looking at an aerial drone that’s looking for cracks in a pipeline where you’d have to manually look for that. And so there’s a lot of cool stuff that’s happening.
[00:44:31] Nad Elias: [00:44:31] We have a client here in town that we’ve worked with called SkyGrid.
[00:44:36]They are mapping the sky for when, um, for drone activity. So making sure that drones aren’t running into each other. So they’re taking, you know, their dev center’s a bunch of gamers, right. They hire guys that have gaming experience, and they’re saying, okay, look, your job now is to help us map out the sky.
[00:44:54] So when drones are flying everywhere, um, they have different routes that they’re now following. Um, uh, yeah, it’s, uh, It’s a division of Spark Cognition here in town, which is another company we’ve done some work with. So, um, I think predictive analytics, right? Anything you mentioned Amazon, but how smart AI is going to get around making these types of predictions, where as consumers, whether personally or professionally, we get what we want before we know we want it.
[00:45:22] Yeah, right. And that’s like the toilet paper arriving at your door. You’re like, Oh, I do need toilet paper. You know, it’s like, or when you get a, when you get, you’ll start getting like, uh, you know, Eric will get a gray shirt just like that. I don’t know you need a gray shirt, but it’s a gray shirt, so I’ll take it.
[00:45:40] Right. But the cost of returning will be so easy. So if you don’t want it, return it, but we think you want it, and you’re going to get it. You just keep it.
[00:45:49] Nick Schenck: [00:45:49] Recommendation engines are really fascinating to me now. And they’ve improved a lot. I mean, I’m just thinking about my Netflix profile and what Netflix has served me.
[00:45:57] It’s so much better than it was even a year ago. They’re learning a lot about me, which I don’t know if I should be scared about or not, but as long as they keep it on Netflix, that’s fine.
[00:46:05] Erik Qualman: [00:46:05] Yeah. And all this stuff is slow until it’s fast. Meaning that it takes a lot longer than people think. So Amazon has been practicing for 10 years. Just here’s your stuff. And so then it’s coming. And so it’s slow, slow, slow people think it’s overnight. It’s not, it’s like no pun intended. It’s slow, slow, slow, then boom. All of a sudden, it hits. Right. And then it just takes over the world.
[00:46:29] Nick Schenck: [00:46:29] Well, I saw something that there’s these voiceover companies now that can take like a 10-second snippet of your voice and then create a synthetic voice based on that sample.
[00:46:41] And so imagine that you hear your voice saying something and you’re like, wait, I didn’t say that. But it’s just a snippet of your voice that someone took to create a synthetic voice. That is one of those things, talking about it goes slow until it goes fast. That’s like, Ooh, that’s like going too far, right. These companies on their website, they have boilerplates saying that we follow these ethical guidelines. Right. But, you know, you’re putting a lot of trust in that.
[00:47:07] Nad Elias: [00:47:07] That’s Skynet Terminator technology. Hey, I’ve got sort of a wrap-up question. I know we’re nearing the end of this, but talk to me about spirit animals.
[00:47:17] I got that from your book. And another thing that really resonated with me, because I’ll tell you mine in a second, but, uh, uh, I think you mentioned, you’re the Army Ant?
[00:47:25] Erik Qualman: [00:47:25] I’m an Army Ant. Yes.
[00:47:26] Nad Elias: [00:47:26] Okay.
[00:47:27] Erik Qualman: [00:47:27] And so there’s four spirit animals when it comes to focus. And when I say these four, you have a tendency of all four of them.
[00:47:34] But there’s really one that you major in and probably one that you minor in. And so the Army Ant is the person that goes, they take on basically more than they should. An Army Ant can carry 5,000 times their weight, but that doesn’t mean they should. Meaning, they get back to the anthill and it’s a problem, because they can’t get it all in the anthill.
[00:47:50] And what that looks like from our perspective is that you’re doing five projects, parallel process. And so at net, it takes you longer to do those five, where if you took them and broke them out one at a time, like a Swiss cheese approach, like punching holes in that Swiss cheese, you’d be much better off both from a health perspective, the projects would be better, and it’d be done faster.
[00:48:12] So rather than parallel processing like an Army Ant, you should just focus on one thing at a time. Then there’s the squirrel. That’s the FOMO – fear of missing out – that they’re really good at innovation, but, and they’re really good at sales often, but what they do is they want to move on to the next shiny object.
[00:48:29] And so everything looks good to them, so they want to move on. They don’t want to complete the project that they’re on. They want to kind of go.
[00:48:34] Nad Elias: [00:48:34] And I’m raising my hand right now. I know what I am. I read the book.
[00:48:39] Erik Qualman: [00:48:39] Squirrel.
[00:48:39] Nad Elias: [00:48:39] Yeah. That’s exactly what I am. Complete lack of focus. Sorry.
[00:48:48] Erik Qualman: [00:48:48] My daughter’s favorite animal is a hedgehog, but a hedgehog they will curl up. So they’re defensive by nature. And so what that looks like from a focus perspective, is that you go: I want to write a movie, but I need to get a degree, a PhD in screenplay writing. And that’s what a hedgehog looks like. Before they get in the arena – and we’re in the office right now, it’s got the Teddy Roosevelt ‘Man In The Arena’ speech. Before they get into that arena, they want to have all this armor on, when that armor can actually weigh you down.
[00:49:13] So hedgehogs, that’s what their thing is. And they’re procrastinators or sometimes precrastination. So that’s a term I wasn’t aware of until we went in this project. Precrastination is that to not do the thing you should be doing, you procrastinate, you start doing your email when you should be doing the one thing from the huddle that you guys had in the morning.
[00:49:33] And so that’s what a hedgehog looks like. Then the chameleon, what they do in the chameleon and all these are like positive things. When you look in the book, I go more in depth on why you would be this animal that a lot of them have positive things like your greatest strength is your greatest weakness. But the chameleon, there are very people pleaser.
[00:49:53] And normally that serves them well, they’re looking out for other people. And so they might say, I don’t love this job, but I’m in it because I’m going to provide healthcare for my kids. And so the chameleon adapts to what they think is the right thing for society or the right thing for everyone else.
[00:50:09] Or I’m going to be a lawyer because my parents will be so proud of me if I was a lawyer. And so that’s what the chameleon looks like when it comes to focus. And all of us struggle with, you gotta know what your spirit animal is to know what that weakness is when it comes to focus, meaning why aren’t I hitting that summit?
[00:50:27] Why aren’t I getting to that next summit in life? I’m doing very well, but I’m not crushing it. Like I know that I could hit that grand slam instead of just this triple. And so that’s why we go to those spirit animals. It sounds like we’ve got a squirrel here, so I’d love to know what we have in the room.
[00:50:43]Nick Schenck: [00:50:43] I can see myself in a little bit in each of them, but probably the Army Ant is number one, probably most predisposed to that one.
[00:50:50] Nad Elias: [00:50:50] Now can you be promoted to another spirit animal?
[00:50:58] Erik Qualman: [00:50:58] They’re all level playing fields. I do see people taking it. I go, I wish I wasn’t an Army Ant, because it sounds like, yeah, I’ll take everything on. I’m like, I’m the man, like, what’s your greatest weakness? Oh, I take on too much stuff, you know? That’s a big problem and it’s a huge problem. You shouldn’t take on all this stuff. Um, but yeah, I think that over time, your core is not going to change, and that’s gets into research that’s well beyond my educational level, but it’s really about, okay, you’re going to major in one and minor in another, and it might morph over time, but you whatyou are.
[00:51:30] Nad Elias: [00:51:30] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, when I train salespeople, uh, not just in our organization, in other organizations and I know I have a high need for approval, which is the one thing that you don’t want salespeople to have.
[00:51:42] Again, it kind of goes back to saying no, right? Really good salespeople know how to say no. My problem is I say yes. So I’ve had self realization over the years. Knowing that I have a high need for approval and being aware of it when I’m in the situation. Right. And that’s one thing, because a lot of salespeople are that way, but if they’re not aware of it, it becomes a problem.
[00:52:03] But if you can create some awareness around it, then you can, I don’t know if overcomes the right word, but you can cope with it.
[00:52:10]Erik Qualman: [00:52:10] You make it not a liability. Like it’s not going to be your strength and nor should you go down that, that role, just like sports is always great because it’s a great analogy.
[00:52:20] To where it’s like, okay, you’re a three-point shooter. You are not going to be defensive player of the year. But you’ve got to make it so you’re not a liability so I can actually have you on the court. That you’re net positive. And so go to your strength. I want you shooting those, shooting those, shooting those. That’s where you should spend your time, but it’s really just make that weakness, your defense, just make it not a liability that when we have you on the floor, that’s a net positive. Yup. Yeah.
[00:52:43] Nad Elias: [00:52:43] And then you get somebody else to play the defense, right?
[00:52:45]Nick Schenck: [00:52:45] We started off with sports. Before we started the interview, I asked you if you still play pickup ball. You said you retired from basketball.
[00:52:51] So what do you do these days to stay active?
[00:52:54] Erik Qualman: [00:52:54] Yeah, chase the kids, which is good. No, what’s been great during the pandemic is outdoor swimming – has been awesome. Tennis, got back into tennis, which I talk about in the book just to kind of have some social aspect as well to that sports, but those are the main things.
[00:53:08] The gym, it’s crazy. Because since I was 18, I would literally. I would go look because I was always a scrawny kid. And for college basketball, you had to like put on weight, put on weight. And so.
[00:53:18] Nad Elias: [00:53:18] Especially an Izzo team.
[00:53:19] Erik Qualman: [00:53:19] Yeah, an Izzo team, like you gotta bang, come on. And then, so it’s like, it’s crazy to think about for six months, I didn’t go to a gym, where since age 18, I was definitely in the gym at least four or five days a week. So that was an adjustment, but it’s been great to be outdoors.
[00:53:33] Nad Elias: [00:53:33] Yeah. Well, I’ll tell you, this has been a lot of fun having you on and I know you won’t,plug it, so I’ll do it for you, but get a copy of this book. For me, it’s a game-changer, and I’m not just saying that because you and I are friends. It’s something that I’ve struggled with for a long time. So Equalman.com. You can also get it on Amazon. The Focus Project. It’s a great, great book.
[00:54:02] Eric, thanks for being on today. We enjoyed it. Looking forward to doing it again soon.
[00:54:07] Erik Qualman: [00:54:07] Honored to be here. Lots of laughs. Love it.
[00:54:09] Nad Elias: [00:54:09] All right. Thanks guys.
[00:54:10] Nick Schenck: [00:54:10] Thanks.