Jon Powell, NextAfter | Turning Data into Donations

Jon Powell, NextAfter | Turning Data into Donations

Pete the Job Guy
Pete the Job Guy
Jon Powell, NextAfter | Turning Data into Donations

Pete the Job Guy and Jon Powell from NextAfter chat about how data can change our actions from within to make our message stronger. And a stronger message leads to more donations.

Josh: Good morning, Jacksonville and welcome to the Hard Work-ah with Pete the Job Guy Langlois. If you’re looking for a job or looking for any kind of candidates, this is the show you need to hear, so tune in now, now of course and every Sunday morning at 8:00 to answer any questions you might have about jobs because this is your show. This expert show is your guide to everything jobs. This is a place where you can hear about new job opportunities and get free extensive career advice from local business leaders themselves. The staffing industry’s leading authority, Pete the Job Guy Langlois explores the failures and successes behind Jacksonville’s top influential individuals, and he does it while discussing hard workplace issues with an honest and oh-so entertaining filter. Take it away, Pete.

Pete: Good morning all you hard workers out there. This is Labor Day weekend. Congratulations. This is your weekend. Tomorrow is your day. This is where we celebrate all the contributions of the workforce, and it’s like our birthday because we’re all working, right? We’re not trust fund babies sitting on piles of hundred dollar bills. It’s none of us. We are the workforce of today and tomorrow, and tomorrow is our day. I hope you’re having a great weekend. You’re eating hot dogs and hamburgers with the kids.

Pete: Maybe if you got a boat and you’re on the water, you’re gonna go down to Fort George. Who cares? Relax, enjoy, because that’s kind of funny. We celebrate our contributions as workers in the United States. How do we celebrate it? By not working. I love it. Oh, man. I’m gonna talk to you today about a bunch of different things and we have a great guest lined up for you. We even have lessons or let’s see, leadership lessons from Coach Larry. It’s a new segment we’re having. I can’t wait to intro that and have Larry come on and help us out.

Pete: First, I want to talk to you about the wrapper and the prize. By the wrapper, I’m not talking about a poet that likes to make music and needs to turntables and a microphone where it’s at. No, not that kind of rapper. I’m talking about a prize or a present that comes in a wrapper. It’s wrapped up in something. If you listened to the show regularly, you know I’m new to social media. I still refer to Twitter as the Twitter and the Instagram and the social media. I’m new to it.

Pete: Facebook, listen, I’ve been on Facebook for a little while which I understand the younger generation has moved away from Facebook. I don’t know. I’m still on it and I put new post up here and there. What I’ve noticed on the Instagram and the Twitter especially Instagram is there’s no shortage of people that dispense information and that information, they give it to us and it’s suppose to change our behaviors, right? There’s a lot of people, that either through video or interesting post, and then they tell us, here’s what you should eat. Here’s the fashion. Here’s the career advice that I’m gonna give to you. Here’s the way you should do things.

Pete: What I’m noticing is they’re self-proclaimed experts and they have a wealth of knowledge on whatever the topic du jour is, and to me it’s mind-boggling to me that these folks have no credentials or experience are very little in whatever topic that they’re telling us about. For instance, let me give you this one. I saw an Instagram post the other day and this gentleman proclaims that he can make anybody a millionaire through his online program. All you have to do is he came make you a millionaire.

Pete: Now, the great thing about the internet is it takes just a couple of minutes. You can do a cursory review of somebody’s name and you can pull up their background experience. I happen to find this gentleman and he is an attendant at a local gym. Now, listen to me, there’s no shame in that game. That’s a job. Anything to do with jobs, that’s all about me and there’s no shame in that but I can’t believe that his own program works. I can’t believe that he’s a millionaire donating his time at the gym, greeting people, cleaning up and doing all the things that an attendant at a gym would do.

Pete: I can’t believe he’s doing that at a close to minimum wage job or he’s just doing it out of the kindness of his heart. See, what I’m saying is he’s telling me that he’s got to … He’s telling all of us how to be a millionaire online but yet it’s not working for him so why tell me? If you haven’t noticed, there’s shortage if bikini clad women that are at the beach and taking suggested pictures that … Then you read the message that they’re putting out and the message deeply philosophical and it tells us how we can be like them, and achieve Zen, and be very relaxed and calm, and have a great life like theirs.

Pete: They don’t even have enough years of experience in the workforce or enough years to know. Their boyfriend could break up with them the next week and they’re down in the dumps and the whole Zen cracks apart to nothing. What I’m saying is it comes in a nice wrapper. It comes in a nice wrapper but the prize isn’t all there. Now, listen. There’s nothing wrong with being aesthetically appealing. These people that are aesthetically appealing that dispense information. That’s great.

Pete: What I’m saying is when you focus more on the wrapper, what’s it wrapped in and what it looks like then the actual content that you’re delivering and you’re asking me to change my habits based on the information that you’re sharing, I got a little bit of a problem with that. I don’t want to discredit people because if people genuinely want to help others by giving them information that’s gonna help their lives to be better in some way, shape or form, that’s great but you really should have tested, credentials or experience that if you’re gonna speak from a position of being an expert and you’re gonna ask others to change their behaviors based on your opinion, and your advice, you really should get out there and get some more experience. This is just the way, I feel, right?

Pete: Now, for me, I give people career advice. Anything to do with jobs. I give people career advice. I share my own personal failures and successes to help others. My undergraduate degree is in workforce education. I’ve been in the workforce for 30 plus years. I have run staffing companies. Now, listen to this. I’ve placed thousands and thousands of people in my career. I’ve helped thousands of companies find the talent. I’m an expert at giving career advice. I’m an expert.

Pete: I’ll also tell you this, from a leadership perspective, 20 years ago is when I first started being a leader even before that and I managed the team of one subordinate employee. That’s all, but I built my way up and I have credibility because I, for the last nine years have been the chief operating officer of $120 million company with 37 offices nationwide in over 450 employees. I speak from a position of credibility and I give you advice and I expect nothing in return.

Pete: The content that I deliver to everybody, the content which I will refer to as the prize is a whole lot better than the wrapper that it comes in. This is what I have to say to you right there. You are welcome. All right. Now, Arren, with me as always is the world famous Arren Mills.

Arren: Hello.

Pete: You’re a millennial. You’re more than 25 years younger than me which is fine. It’s okay, but you’re perspective on this might be different than mine.

Arren: Sure, yeah.

Pete: What do you think about the wrapper and the prize, and Instagram and the Twitter?

Arren: Yeah. I would say, that I think a lot of people on Instagram probably place themselves as self-proclaimed experts but on the other half, I think they’re just trying to talk about their journey on whatever they’re trying to get to, whatever their goal is. For instance, me, I always claim and I always say that I’m not an expert but I am sharing my experience with you and if they can take away anything from it then that’s awesome. If not, they just like looking at stuff on my Instagram.
Pete: Which is great because it is. It’s entertaining and it’s fun to see stuff. I love the information sharing. I guess I just get twisted up in a knot when I … Especially, when this guy is trying to tell me how to be a millionaire and he’s working a minimum wage job. If it doesn’t work for you, how is it gonna work for me?

Arren: I would say the same thing with parenting like when I was pregnant, people were like, “Oh, don’t do this with the baby and don’t do that.” I’m like, “Do you have any kids?” They’re like, “No. My sister has a kid.” I’m like, “Oh, great. Perfect. You’re an expert. Got it.”

Pete: Right. Well, let’s move in right along. We’re happy to have our guest today and our guest is Jon Powell. Jon is a senior director of research and education at NextAfter and Jon, welcome to Hard Work-ah with Pete the Job Guy.
Jon: Glad that you guys have me here.
Pete: We’re all certainly glad you’d be here. What is NextAfter?
Jon: That’s a really good question because it’s kind of an unusual name like what’s next after this? That’s exactly how the name of the company was formed but it was formed by my boss, a guy named Tim and he has just this passion to understand why people give. Why do people donate to not-for-profit organizations? Why do they give it all? Let’s just decode generosity because if we can decode generosity, then we can determine how to inspire people to become more generous, right?

Pete: Right.

Jon: His big thing has always been, “How do we make the most generous generation of the world? We got to decode generosity.” What NextAfter does is they use all the tools of the digital world. Think about all the digital marketing that you’ve ever experience, ads, emails. I mean, you get a lot of emails from not-for-profits. All of those different things. What we can do is we can run tests and people, they’re not even aware that they’re in a test. We can test one message against another and determine which one was better at inspiring generosity. Maybe saying the mission, maybe saying it in a way that’s more tangible. Even the way in which you make an ad.

Pete: Wait a second. This sounds incredibly analytical
Arren: Yes.

Pete: In last week’s show, we get that big data folks on and the two ladies Katie and Karly from NLP Logix.

Arren: So awesome.

Pete: They were phenomenal.

Arren: You’re a big data guy, right?

Jon: I guess you could say that. Maybe not as big data as they are. They’re like mathematics statisticians. I like to think of myself not quite as an academic but in between of the normal guy and the academic. I take that stuff and I say, “What can you nonprofit do with this? What can you learn? Well, maybe you need to write your email like this to inspire the most generosity. Maybe you need to change the way your ad looks by this to inspire the most generosity. Maybe you need to offer this to them instead of asking them to give out right. Build a relationship first and here’s the proof.” That’s where the data comes in. It’s there for the proof.

Pete: That’s exciting and just hearing what you do and I can hear the passion and I would see it.

Jon: A lot of passion.

Arren: Getting up out its seat.

Pete: The listeners can’t see it but I can see the true passion and this is one that when your head hits the pillow, you got to feel good about what you do.

Jon: Yeah. I like the idea of understanding why people give or why people buy which is what I used to do for ten, some years. To be able to take what I love to do which is understanding why consumers tick, what makes then act. Then to apply it to a world where it’s about generosity, it’s about giving back, I mean, it’s a one-two punch for me.

Pete: Wow. That’s exciting. Tell us a little bit about your background prior to NextAfter?

Jon: Up until NextAfter, I spent probably ten or so years in this “why do people buy” kind of stage. I work with the company that’s local. They’re local. They work with a lot of companies internationally and nationwide. They’re called MECLABS. They’re an institute. The whole thing was why do people buy? I spent a number of years running my own experiments with big clients like H&R Block, Verizon. People of that magnitude, even small businesses.

Jon: Then I had a chance to actually go over all of the experiments and come up with these patterns. That’s great and wonderful, and all but there’s something about what do I do with this. I have this moment, what am I gonna do with this? I’m just helping people buy more stuff. You got to have stuff, right? I left MECLABS to try and figure out how to do this insider company, so I worked for company called B+B Smartworx. They’re headquartered just outside of Chicago and they’re all internet of things, and for the industrial world. I mean, that was great but then Tim came to me with this offer I couldn’t refuse. He said, “Jon, I would like for you to do for MECLABS but do it for the cause of generosity.”

Pete: Wow.

Jon: Okay. What’s the catch?

Arren: He sounds awesome.

Jon: Right. More pay? What’s the catch? More opportunity? Really, it’s addictive.

Pete: One thing because what you’re talking about really transcends all industries and it’s nice that you’re in that nonprofit giving back space but when I look at my own profession, and I’m a professional sales person, I’m a recruiter. I help people find jobs, and the market’s changed. I say it quite a bit because back in the day if I had a good quality candidate I would simply open up the phone book and look at which company this person would appeal to and I would make a whole bunch of calls. You take that philosophy nowadays. Number one, there isn’t a phone book. Everything is on the internet.

Jon: Phone book.

Pete: Number two, nobody answers the phone and shame on me if I ever make an uneducated sales call, cold calls, if I call … Number one, nobody answers the phone before we’re trained from our devices. Even if I call my wife, she won’t answer but if I text her, she responds. If it’s an unrecognized number, they have this little caller ID unrecognized, so I’m not taking that because somebody is gonna sell me something. Now, we need information to help us refine which activities are gonna yield the best results. Is that akin to what you do?

Jon: It is. I think you nailed it. It’s what do I do in order to get the result that I’m looking for.

Pete: Right. You use data and analytics as your key determinants, and studies, and tests. Tell us a little bit about the testing process and how people don’t even know they’re participating.

Jon: I know. It seems kind of scary but when you’re online, you may or may not know it but you might enter into a site and they may have split you unknowingly into one experience and somebody else simultaneously at the same time has been split into another experience. What happens is we watch you.

Arren: It’s super scary.

Jon: Your personal identifying information is never a thing that’s being watched but it’s always the activities. We’ll record the activities and then we’ll aggregate them and measure them against each other. Now, and this is where you get last week which is the statistics, is there a statistically significant difference meaning is there a meaningful difference. If this happened again, how likely would be in there? We measure for that so if I’m to recommend something to a not-for-profit, I wanna know that the risk of them putting that into action is low because you never know 100% what’s going to happen even if you have all the statistics in the world but you can measure risk.

Pete: Right.

Jon: That’s how it works.

Pete: It’s one thing … This is interesting. I’m gonna turn this a little bit. There’s a lot of tests that determine the likelihood that … Even from a pre-employment screen. If someone is going to be successful, take this test and that’s gonna say, you’re more likely to be more successful than this person. I think there’s some [wonka-wonka 00:16:43] with that. What do you think of those pre-employment screening test?

Jon: I’m glad you ask. Actually, I’ve got a personal vendetta with one of these and I won’t say which one it is.
Arren: They are not accurate.

Jon: I’m not gonna say which one and what. A lot of times when you work for big companies, they’re gonna use screening, they’re gonna use these different personality profile tests to try and determine if you’re a good fit. It’s greathearted but what happens is if you don’t understand what you’re being compared to, then you could actually … Somebody could … It may appear that you’re not gonna be as good a fit for them … Actually, you are. What would happen is when I went to work for this company, not NextAfter but one of these other companies, I had to take this exam and I took it.

Pete: Here comes the vendetta. Here’s the vendetta. Vendetta alert folks. Here it comes.

Jon: I thought I did great until I saw the results and then my boss tells me, “If I were going by the results, I wouldn’t have hired you.” I’m like, “Great. Thanks, man.” I’m thinking oh, but he’s like, “We’ve got this here so we can help you.” One year passes by, no difference in my results. Two years passes by, no difference from my results. Now, I’m actually running tests. Three years, four years, five years. Now, I’m actually out there speaking, sharing the findings, everything that I’m learning, no difference in results. What’s going on here? I’m clearly doing well. I’m succeeding well. They’re so glad that they hired me and I’m representing the company, but why was it that the test almost set me home?

Pete: Wow.

Arren: Yeah.

Jon: Well, I figured it out. They’re comparing you to something, right?

Arren: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Pete: Yeah.

Jon: Just like if I’m running the test, I’m comparing one result to another. Well, when you actually look at who made the test, where they came from, I discovered that the particular person who designed this test was fleeing Nazi Germany, oh my gosh like crazy, coming to America and they have this idea of who the ideal person was which was modeled after the ‘50s and the ‘60s. Somebody who didn’t really have any interest in any faith, they were very American, and so what was happening is I was being compared to this theoretical norm.

Pete: Right.

Jon: I’m totally not that. In fact, what I found on the internet, okay, I really got into this, is that people from different nationalities outside of America were struggling with this test and they were online trying to figure out how to cheat it and there’s no way to cheat but except to figure out, okay, what do I know about the maker? I look at the maker. I looked at his values, I looked at his writings and then I figured out exactly how to take the test and get a perfect score.

Pete: There was a bias in this.

Jon: Yeah.

Arren: Crazy.

Jon: I got the perfect score and I was the perfect employee. They’re like, “Oh my gosh, Jon. You are so amazing.” I’m like, “No, I just cracked the test. I wanted to make a point.” Now, I’m not against these tests.

Pete: Right.

Jon: What I was against is that leaning too heavily on it.

Pete: Right.

Jon: That’s why when it comes to things like this, it’s great, it’s helpful. There’s risk, reducing risk but at the end of the day, you can’t ignore your intuition, you can’t ignore what you see, you can’t ignore all of these other things.

Arren: Observations.

Pete: You know what, if I could package that up in a bottle, and put it in a bottle, and have these companies that I work with who believe and they give so much validity to these tests and they make hiring decisions based on the test, it’s not a factor in the overall decision, it is the key determining factor, no, he does not have this so we’re not gonna be able to use this person. I mean, hey, look. I’ve been in this business a long time. I know what a qualified candidate is and I can tell based on the questions, behavioral interview questions that demonstrated work history and also talking to their managerial references and understanding the background because the test to me should never be the determining factor.

Jon: Right. Something that’s right is wrong and that was the thing. There were other aspects of this test that were perfect. There was no right or wrong, it was just who was this person and how did they interact with others.

Pete: Right.

Jon: This one particular section was giving so much weight and it was designed so well for managers to just look at it and say, “Like it, don’t like it. They’re good, they’re bad.” It’s just good lead scoring, I guess you could say but it’s … Yeah.

Pete: Now, true to form with nonprofit, you offer some free courses, right, to some of these nonprofit companies?

Jon: Right. One of the things that I love about working with Tim and working with his company is that we created these courses to sell initially, right?

Pete: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Arren: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jon: I mean, you wanna make some money, okay? We’re a for-profit company but we’re cause-based. We’re on a mission but we still need to make money to continue to do this stuff. Well, initially we were thinking, okay, we’ll charge 300, we’ll charge 600 but then he started like, “I got to eat my own dog food.” He’s like, “We’re gonna give away the online experience.” When we developed these courses, this is going to teach somebody how to fundraise online. ‘

Jon: If you are already doing work like this or you know somebody that’s doing work that they’re trying to raise money, inspire generosity online specifically and even offline. These courses will help you do just that. They’ll teach you how to do it in Facebook. They’ll teach you how to do it in Facebook. They’ll also teach you how to do it in email and they’re free. You can go in there and they’re free. One course is nine hours long. All videos, all of that. One is four to five. Another one,, if you …

Pete: Go ahead.

Jon: Right. It’s all free and it’s some of my best work. I’m really, really proud of it, and it utilizes all 1,100 plus experiments in the library.

Arren: Crazy.

Jon: They’re freely published and measured for things like statistical significance but it’s all there. If you want to further your career in fundraising, maybe you’re considering a career in fundraising or working with a nonprofit or if you’re a nonprofit and you know somebody, I’d encourage you to check it out.

Pete: Speaking of free, I happen to look into your background, I see that you’re a TaeKwonDo instructor as well for the Fil-Am community. Is that correct?

Jon: Yes. Actually, that’s one of my … It’s funny. Actually, I was at jury duty maybe a month or two ago and the judge ask, they’re like … Or one of the lawyers asked, “Is there anybody here that knows anybody else?” We’re all sitting there and somebody raises their hand and they’re like, “Yeah. I know Jon Powell over there.” I’m like, “What?”

Arren: Who are you?

Jon: “I don’t know you,” and he’s like, “Yeah, remember when you were teaching TaeKwonDo?” I’m like, “Oh yeah.” It’s not something that … But, yes, I teach for free. I’m focused on the Fil-Am community. That’s a Filipino-American community. It’s not just, “I’m gonna teach you guys how to chop blocks in half.” I’m actually licensed with the World TaeKwonDo Academy in Korea, so it’s an outreach that’s designed … I actually have to eat my own dog food too in what I’m doing.
Jon: I use the information from NextAfter to help grow that community and get support and it’s been amazing. Again, there’s so many bright kids that come here from the Philippines. They know two languages and they’re really smart but adapting to the culture can be tough and so one of the things I love about this art is that it’s so forward, it’s so confrontational and it’s so confidence-based. It gives people the skills that they need to adapt to this culture and actually get ahead. There’s a lot of teenagers, there’s some adults. It’s just really fulfilling for me and fun. I like to kick. I like to do crazy kind of things.

Pete: Right. It’s a great outlet.

Arren: Kick some butt.
Pete: It’s fantastic.
Jon: Why not?
Pete: Look, we’re at that time right now. Jon, sit tight. We’re gonna have you come back for the second part of our show but let’s pause right now to take a break and get the news and weather update.
Pete: Welcome, back all your hard workers. Man, I’m gonna tell you, that was a fun, fun first action-packed half hour that we just had. Jon Powell was an incredible guest. That’s a man that gives back and he’s got a great job helping nonprofits and you could see the passion. Everything that he talked about. If you go back to the beginning of the hour when I talked about the wrapper and the prize, Jon is the prize. Jon has the prize. He gave great career advice to those of you that are thinking about what’s your next step, all that but I’m glad to have Jon here. He stayed with me through the commercial break and he’s back. Jon love hearing people’s career journeys. What would you tell your 20-year-old self right now?
Jon: That’s a good question. I’ve actually talked about that a number of times. I don’t necessarily regret the steps that I take so I mean, becoming a personal assistant to learn the foundations of digital marketing because I was nervous about it, I don’t regret doing that. Some people thought that was not smart but it was very smart. The thing that I wish I would have paid more attention to is not just the work that I’m doing but the people that I’m working with. For example, like I spend so much time trying to decode people externally like why do they buy? Why do they give but I didn’t spend enough time decoding how my coworkers work and how I can best work with them.
Pete: Wow.
Jon: It’s really a humbling lesson and I look back and I say, “You know what, if there’s anything I could tell my 20-year-old self is the choice, it’s fine but spend more time optimizing how you work with people so you can get the very most of each opportunity and everybody can benefit.
Arren: Wow.
Jon: It’s a good lesson and that’s why I still do the whole TaeKwonDo thing is because that gives me a chance to get that lesson to kids before they, well …
Arren: That’s awesome.
Jon: … learn it the hard way.
Pete: Right. You know, Jon, we say … Every week, we try to dispense advice that’s gonna help people in their careers because your careers are a journey. It’s not really a destination. It’s a journey and it involves and sometimes you have the best laid out plans and life comes in and scrambles it like an egg and you have to go in a whole new direction that’s part of life. I love it when people get introspective and were the sum total of our life’s experience right now. It’s nice to say if I did more of this or less of this, and that’s the benefit of hindsight.
Pete: Back in the day when you’re living it, you’re going fast and furious just trying to do the best you can. It’s nice to have the wisdom of age and experience, even though you’re relatively a young man. You can look back and say a little bit more of this, a little bit less of this. We can’t change it not would we wanna change our coding right now. This is who we are but when we tell others especially young people entering the workforce that this is what I, Jon Powell, or I Pete Langlois, or I Arren Mills which I did a little more of and little less of, it’s helping people steer their own personal ship on their journey so that’s great.
Pete: Now, if people want to get more information or they wanna reach out to you, Jon and learn about NextAfter and some of your programs, how do they reach you and how can they see more information?
Jon: It’s really simple. It’s Jon without an H, J-O-N Just email me directly. I’ll respond. Whenever I do emails like for our marketing “emails,” I actually write them expecting replies. I mean, some weeks, I’ll have like a hundred I have to go through in a single day, but that’s because I want to create an expectation with people that if you call me, I’ll answer it. Even if I’m busy, I’ll get to it. If you’ll email me, I’ll get to it. That’s my first and foremost thing and of course All the courses on NextAfter is gonna have the courses but all the research is there at I think we were occasionally looking for folks in the digital world that wanna help with digital fundraising and all that so there’s some jobs there occasionally but just reach out to me directly and I can show you the right direction.
Arren: Ooh, a mentor.
Pete: Jon Powell, I think you’ve been an outstanding guest. I appreciate you coming on Hard Work-ah with Pete the Job Guy. Folks, you heard how to get in touch with John. It’s an exciting career path. Like I said, John, when your head hits the pillow, you got to feel good about what you do. Thank you, sir.
Jon: Thank you.
Pete: All right. Let’s go into our next segment. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re proud to have a new segment and we’re featuring leadership lessons which Coach Larry and we’re proud to have Larry O’Brien on us. Larry is the chief learning officer with Mendoza & O’Brien. Larry, tell us a little bit about yourself please, sir.
Larry: Pete and Arren, thanks so much for this opportunity. Yeah, I’m the chief learning officer for Mendoza & O’Brien leadership development. We’re a global organization focusing on helping managers become great leaders. We do a lot of teaching on skill building, self-awareness, having that leadership mindset and we also focus on executive coaching so our coaches work one on one with leaders to help them get into that next level.
Pete: Right. Larry, I happen to know a thing or two about you. I know your career spans 20 plus years as an executive coach, as a leader, developing effective management leadership programs. That’s why I have you on here you know the show is all about giving career advice to people and I think you’re a special guy and I think you have some special advice to people. Each week, you’re gonna come on and you’re gonna give some leadership advice to help managers become more effective leaders and we appreciate that.
Larry: I thank you for the opportunity. This really has been my life. Over 20 years working in Fortune 50 companies and businesses, working with leaders one on one and in the group setting, doing workshops and really helping people become the best, the best leaders that they possibly can be, so I’m really excited for this opportunity to work with you all and the great people, and your listening audience.
Pete: Yeah. We really appreciate you being here. First of, Larry, give us a good leadership coaching lesson right now. What’s a good tip?
Larry: Well, fantastic. I know you’ve been talking about big data and when I think of big data, I was thinking about this study from MIT and they did a study, what’s the most important leadership skills were for leaders? What came out on top was to know yourself called, to have that self-awareness, know your tendencies, your strengths, your weaknesses and that came out above any other skill. Let me ask you a question, Pete. You don’t have to answer this.
Pete: Right.
Larry: Pete, did you notice that the more you got promoted, the better your ideas became? Maybe your jokes got even funnier. Maybe you even lost your weight, some weight rather but did you change? No.
Pete: No. Go ahead.
Larry: Go ahead. Maybe in your case, you changed but the reality is that people feel uncomfortable giving leaders feedback and the higher we go in an organization, the less we know. It’s how do we get that self-awareness or that big data on ourselves as leaders when people are reluctant to give it and exactly the time when we need it most.
Pete: What I found, if I may share and tell me if this relates because I have … I’ve been a leader of leaders for many years. As a chief operating officer, I have multiple regional vice presidents that have multiple branch managers, et cetera, reporting to them and I have found that so many people are so remarkably unaware of how they’re perceived by not only their subordinate employees but managing up and sideways as well laterally. People are unaware that their actions create these perceptions. I’m telling you it’s amazing that you’re saying this because … I mean, you must have to take people really on a journey of self-awareness, right?
Larry: Absolutely. Sometimes, it’s about getting in their heads a little bit. Why is it that they don’t ask for that feedback? Sometimes, they’re afraid to hear what … There maybe something that they’re afraid to hear so they ask. Sometimes they think it makes them look weak as an example. Really, it’s quite the opposite. I mean, MIT here is telling us the number one thing that you need to do to be successful is be aware, have that emotional intelligence around your strengths and your tendencies. It can be quite a challenge. I have three tips for you as it pertains to getting some feedback.
Pete: Hey, Larry.
Larry: Yes.
Pete: I wanna make sure people right now … This is the big thing about this show. If you sit and listen to the show and you get entertained, that’s okay. That’s not such a bad thing but if you listen to this show and you do something differently as a result of the information that we share with you each week, it’s gonna be better for you. Your performance may improve, you’ll be more effective, productive or you’ll avoid a pitfall or some of the failures that myself or some of my guests have had. That’s why we give advice. Larry is about to give three leadership tips right now and I would encourage anybody if you have a paper and a pen next to you, write this down, if you have a phone and you wanna jot down notes to yourself, do it. This is the time where you’re gonna hear something that will help you. Go ahead, Larry.
Larry: I’m so glad you mentioned that Pete because some of these things, they’re pretty simple but we don’t implement them in the day to day and that’s the key to success and that’s completely aligned without being the Hard Work-ah, right? It’s not that you know what to do, you just need to do it. Tip number one is to ask for specific feedback. I was coaching someone on self-awareness and she said that’s constantly asking, “How did I do?” All she hears is, “Oh, great job.” That’s not really helpful.
Larry: It might feel good for a little bit but instead of saying or asking, “How did I do?” ask “How did I do at presenting the budget numbers in today’s staff meeting?” That’s much more specific or share a little bit. “I’m concerned that people were checking out during the presentation what can I do to make it more engaging?” Bonus points if you ask this one, “If I could focus on developing one thing as a leader, what would that be?” That’s tip number one asking for specific questions instead of “How did I do?” “Oh, you did fine.” Thanks.”
Larry: Lesson number two comes from Sheryl Sandberg. She’s a COO of a company called Facebook, if anyone has heard about it.
Pete: I think I’ve heard of it.
Larry: You heard about it? One thing I learned from her about a leader is that she would not let you leave her office or go away unless you told her something she could improve upon. Now, that’s Sheryl Sandberg, a great leader. No, don’t lock people in the office or in the conference room. You got to be a little firm here. Ask for feedback. Give people some time, be patient but be firm and get that one thing. Have them think about it. Then number three is about how we react to the feedback because you mentioned earlier, Pete about some leaders and their lack of self-awareness. It could be because maybe they get defensive and when you get defensive, when you’re hearing what you might not feel so good then you tend to shut other people down.
Larry: One thing I do is if you start feeling defensive when someone is giving you feedback, change that defensiveness, replace that defensiveness with curiosity. A simple knee-jerk reaction I do when I get defensive is, “Tell me more about that,” or ask questions about what does that new behavior look like? What impact might that new behavior have? Then finally thank them for the feedback. Once you thank them, ask them to hold you accountable, so, “Hey, I agree. I’m gonna do better at XYZ. Could you do me a favor? If I show that side of me, again, at that meeting, can you hold me accountable or take me aside or just remind me.” That changes the relationship and people want to help you and they want you to be successful, so you’re engaging them in your own success.
Pete: You know what’s great about this, Larry. This self-awareness, this is hard for a lot of managers. Listen, I’ve had good managers, I’ve had bad managers. I’ve had barkers that are just pit bulls and say do this, do that. I don’t pay you to think and all that other stuff. I’ve had that. This takes somebody that wants to be that great leader, that can put themselves out there and say, “I need specific feedback,” and they use the correct phraseology to get it specific because ultimately they want to be a better leader for the people that report them. I love the fact that you said about Sheryl with Facebook. She doesn’t people leave without giving them this feedback to help make her better. Now, that’s fantastic. Now, I wanna lock Arren in a room and just lock her up and keep her there all day …
Arren: Oh, man.
Pete: … because she’s gonna ruin everything if she comes out. That’s the way it is, but I can’t do that is what you’re saying so I won’t.
Arren: Thank you.
Pete: Number three, it’s like you can’t be defensive anytime you ask somebody a question about feedback. What do you think of me? Give me specifics on what I can do? If I defended that for one second, you think I would ever get more feedback? It’s not gonna happen. especially if you react to it in a negative way. This is fantastic, Larry. Each week, we’re gonna have you come on and I really … I know you’re a busy guy and I really appreciate you taking time out and sharing these tips with us and the audience. It’s gonna help us all to be better and more effective leaders. Larry O’Brien. Thank you, Larry.
Larry: It’s a pleasure. Thank you.
Pete: Now, it’s the perfect time to go to the world famous, Arren Mills with our job report. Take it away, Arren.
Arren: Thanks, Pete. In the spirit of our hardworking Americans, happy Labor Day.
Pete: Happy Labor Day.
Arren: I’m Arren Mills and this is your JOB Report. The US labor market was a mixed picture in July but overall remains in good shape. In July, the US economy added over 150,000 jobs while the unemployment rate fell to 3.9%. Expectations for the economy added 193,000 jobs with the unemployment rate falling to 3.9. All in all, the average job before it signals a continuation. That was wrong. All in all, the August job report signals a continuation of moderate job growth for the temp help industry overall and the general economy providing a positive labor market environment for staffing operators. Back to Jacksonville location, unemployment is still sitting at 4.2% which is .5% higher than this time last year. I’m Arren Mills and that is your JOB Report.
Pete: Great job, Arren. You know, Arren, let’s just talk about first off, what Larry had to say and you know it is all about that self-awareness and asking for feedback that you might not necessarily want to hear. What do you think about what Larry had to say in those three tips?
Arren: I think it takes a lot of humility to be able to do that and you know the saying humility over hubris and hubris is, for those …
Pete: Isn’t hubris like a broccoli? I think I had hubris in my salad.
Arren: I’m always using these new words every show. Hubris means pride or overconfidence and so I’m saying that it’s always better to humble yourselves and to really look or take the reflection on yourself and that’s what I do every single day. I take a 25-minute reflection before I go to bed and see where I messed up and what I can do to be better the next day.
Pete: 25-minute reflection?
Arren: I mean, you could on like a two-minute reflection if you need to or you can drive in your care and turn the radio off but you wouldn’t hear this awesome show so nevermind.
Pete: I love it. When I think about the leaders that I know and the leaders that I’ve had or better said the managers I’ve had in some situations, this is such a foreign concept to ask what should I do and what can I do better to help you? For a lot of them, that would be a real foreign concept because they don’t want that feedback. They don’t wanna know. It’s their way or the highway.
Arren: I feel like that’s really a loss for them because once you take yourself out of your own body or take yourself out of your own line and see how you interact with people outside of your body, then you’d be like, “Oh, I would never want to interact with myself again if I treat people that way. I think it’s just good to remove yourself from that and see what actions you’re doing every day for the next day.
Pete: Here’s something we got to chew on too. As leaders it’s a journey. You always want to be better and Larry is talking about, listen, you meet with your folks, here are the three tips, ask for specific feedback. I love what he said about Sheryl the COO of Facebook that she’s not gonna let you leave the room, unless you give her something to help her to be a more effective leader, and also making sure that we aren’t defensive when we take that feedback. I think those are great tips but some people, they don’t have performance reviews. They don’t even do them. That in itself is a foreign concept.
Pete: We have to get Larry to talk a little bit more about what is the correct frequency of having these types of performance reviews? It’s not all about the manager telling you what you did right, what you did wrong and what you need to do to be better, it’s turning the tables a little bit. Okay. Now, it’s time for what can I do better? Specifically, how did I do when I did this and what can I specifically do better to help you, right?
Arren: Yup. I feel that.
Pete: Good stuff. Now, I turn it back to when you think, Arren, when we had at the beginning, at the top of the hour talking about the wrapper and the prize. A lot of things look so great on the outside. We spent so much time and energy you have in this great wrapper but the prize, the actual content isn’t there. What I mentioned in Instagram, these people with all these wrappers, all these great aesthetics and, “Look at me, look at me, look at me,” their goal is to get more follows, more follows, more follows and they get more follows on top of that. It’s all about me rather than giving back so I was excited that Jon Powell came on.
Arren: Such a strong speaker. I really like how he flips everything. He says, “It’s not about me, it’s all about you. What can I do to help you? How can I give you what you need to succeed,” and because he does that I feel like it turns back to him and it turns him into a really successful person.
Pete: Again, that’s the prize. That’s the premise of this show. It’s all about the content. We’re giving back zero in regard for reciprocation. I don’t want anybody to give me anything. We’re just trying to give you information to help you to be more effective, more productive, to help you to be more successful and that’s what Hard Work-ah with Pete the Job Guy is all about.
Pete: Folks, I wanna tell you, if you are looking for that next step in your professional career or if you need a job assistance in any way, if you are an employer and you’re looking for qualified candidates whether you need one or you need 200, you call me, Pete the Job Guy. I promise you, I say it in each and every week, qualified candidates are out there. There has not been a candidate genocide. I can help coach you so that you can find and attract the area’s best talent. If you think placing an ad is gonna get it for you, good luck with that.
Pete: The best way to reach me is you can send me an email anytime, or you can call me over at SNI Companies, 904-713-2550. I am surrounded by people that are better, faster and smarter than me, doggone. If I’ve done one thing that’s right as a leader, Mr. Larry O’Brien is I’ve surrounded myself with people that are fantastic, like-minded. We have highly functional teams that if you need technology professionals I got a technology team.
Pete: You need accounting professionals, I got an accounting team. You need general office administrative clerical people, I have that and if you need people in the O&G, in the energy space, doggone, I have SNI energy. We have SNI banking. Listen, with specialists, we swim in very narrow channels and when you do the same thing over and over every day you become an expert, myself and all the recruiters that work with me. We don’t place nurses one day, light industrial folks the next and then dabble in technology. No, sir and no ma’am. We do one thing and one thing only, we are specialty providers of professional staffing services and we are freaking awesome.
Pete: 904-713-2550 is our number. You can always reach me, Pete at I wanna thank all you hard workers for listening, sharing your time with me and the world famous, Arren Mills. I wanna thank our guests Jon Powell and I wanna thank Larry O’Brien and his leadership lessons with Larry that are gonna be brought to you as part of our segment each and every week. If you’re smart, which I know you are because you’re listening today, and you’re committed to doing something different as a result of the time that you spent with us on this show, you are gonna have a fantastic career but right now, what I want you to focus on is your family, and your friends, and you go out for the rest of this Sunday and tomorrow and enjoy your Labor Day. This is our …


In this episode:

Jon Powell

As Senior Director of Research and Education, Jon is wholly focused on taking everything the NextAfter team is learning and transforming it into insightful, practical and immediately actionable advice for marketers and fundraisers, regardless of their organization size.

Jon knows firsthand the challenges marketers face: he has experience building an entire digital marketing department from scratch as Director of Digital Marketing at B+B SmartWorx and has more than eight years of hands-on marketing optimization experience gained through managing hundreds of A/B and multivariate tests at the MECLABS Institute.

In addition, Jon has already conducted multiple in-depth meta-analyses of the thousands of case studies that are held in the research library of MECLABS Institute, one of the largest independent databases of experiments for marketing and sales in the world.

Finally, he is no stranger to public speaking. He has previously spoken about messaging, value proposition, and email optimization at events like Dreamforce, the DMA Annual Conference and Exhibition as well as MarketingSherpa summits. In both 2013 and 2014, attendees gave him the highest rating of 100+ speakers at Salesforce Connections (formerly known as ExactTarget Connections), one of the nation’s most important digital-marketing events.

Get Connected:

Connect with Jon Powell on LinkedIn | Email

As for the event for nonprofits in San Antonio, here is the NIO Summit.

For free courses on digital fundraising (the principles apply in “offline” fundraising too).

Browse all the published experiments that help make up these courses.

And lastly, the jobs link (NextAfter is actively looking for one position right now), click here.

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