PeopleFirst! with Morag Barrett

Sit back, and grab a coffee as Morag and Brad Montgomery talk about emotions drive engagement!

Show Notes

Welcome to SkyeTeam's People First! In this series, we explore the people side of successful business and careers. We all have a story to share, a leadership journey that we are experiencing.

We'll be interviewing authors, business leaders, thought leaders, and people like you to uncover the latest ideas, resources, and tools to help you become more effective at work - and in life. As it turns out, the secret is cultivating winning relationships. Business is personal, and relationships matter!

So, sit back, and grab a coffee as Morag and Brad Montgomery talk about emotions drive engagement!

Chapter Layout:
0:00 - Open
1:48 - Origin Story
3:49 - Pivot Point
6:00 - Trips & Stumbles
8:11 - Receive Feedback
11:44 - Happiness Is...
16:38 - Applications
17:52 - Common Sense
20:36 - MBWA
23:04 - Contact Info & Wrap


- [INTRO] Welcome to Skye Team's People First with Morag Barrett.

- My guest this week on People First is my friend and colleague Brad Montgomery. Brad is a certified speaking professional. And if you don't know what that means stay tuned and you will learn. But ultimately Brad teaches people to use happiness to boost productivity, creativity, innovation and profits. He turns typical meetings into transformational events using the power of happiness. And he's a pretty funny guy. And if you are unsure, he has been able to make audiences, across 50 States and on four continents giggle his clients include Microsoft, Verizon, the FBI, yep, that one, the CIA, yep, that one too and the IRS, you mean the IRS has a sense of humor, Brad? I love it, I love it. Anyway, audiences of meeting planners describe Brad as authentic. He's a real human a funny guy on stage and off. And I am excited to share his leadership journey with all of us today. Brad, welcome to People First.

- And the crowd goes crazy.

- I don't know, I really should have a laugh track going or you should maybe you could have hit that button for us.

- That will do, it still goes boom.

- I'll say, it's nice to be... I've got my little graphic going, I'm sorry. I forgot that it comes up, Morag I'm so glad to be here.

- Well, I'm excited for the conversation and as we're there three People First episode, Brad, I'm always a little bit nosy and a little bit curious about everybody's origin story, 'cause of course we see you, the Brad of today, the successful keynote speaker Hall of Fame speaker no less.

- Oooh!

- And it's easy to lose sight of the wee lad you once were. So when you were a wee lad back in elementary school, the teacher said, "Brad, what do you want to be when you grow up?" What is your answer?

- I wanted to be a larger lad

- A larger lad.

- So in fact, I'm... In a second I'm going to walk behind the camera and grab a prop. 'Cause it's visual, baby! I wanted to be the... Not just the owner of an ice cream parlor. I wanted to be the owner of a chain of ice cream parlors. 'Cause I thought that was so cool.

- It would be. So can I ask what's your favorite ice cream color, not color, flavor?

- Well, I can tell you what, it's not, it's not vanilla and I'll tell you why it's not. I love my wife, my wife is a vanilla with chocolate sauce woman, that's what she wants and I like variety. So the key is variety, It's about... It's really has nothing to do with the vanilla it has to do with, Oh, for Christ's sake. Can we get something else?

- So when I was little at my granny used to buy Neapolitan in a block, it was... It was the vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, also with all the additives and you had to fold the box down and she would slice it and put it between little wafers, and I thought that was the height of luxury. But I have to say, I do like my sort of caramel waffle cone, mix with a bit of chocolate in there too. Well, there you go.

- My experience with Neapolitan, is it the strawberry is always left over. People are scooping out those vanilla and chocolate and the strawberries left.

- Well, I know, I didn't like the chocolate 'cause it was... It was always fake chocolate. So very important leadership journey in terms of ice cream flavors and how that has either emotionally scarred us or shaped us into the leaders that we are today. So tell me what was the pivot point that then took you from aspiring ice cream parlor leader, to professional speaker and Hall of Fame?

- My like so many of us Morag, my line is not straight. So I got out of... I did magic tricks in college, so my summer job was being a magician at a Renaissance fair, and oh, I have stories about that.

- Go on then. And then after college I thought, Oh I'll do... Honestly, I'll just master magic, I'm pretty good at it, I'll master it in a year, and then I'll go to law school, like my dad, and that'll be that. And then of course, when you're 21, you're an idiot and you don't realize you can't master anything in a year. So after being in it for a while, I realized one, Oh, this is hard and a year is not going to cover it. And two, I kind of got lucky because or I don't know lucky, maybe it's because I was awesome but my goals were just... My only goal that year was to have fun, master magic and not borrow money from my parents. And I got lucky and I got into some cool places and the money was coming in, and I was excited and I won a contest, which was cool, and I got booked at the Magic Castle which is a really prestigious magic club for magicians. And I came back and said, "screw law school, I'm not going." And I was kind of open to it thinking, well eventually I'll probably go to grad school but that time has not come so...

- Next year.

- I was an entertainer for years, and it was through that Morag, that I got exposed to professional speaking and professional speakers. And then it was a 15 year morph into becoming not just a guy who stands on stage to entertain but a guy who has an idea that he wants to communicate.

- So you make it sound so easy, but I have heard from you, around the stories around the Magic Castle, that it wasn't as smooth sailing as perhaps the jump, the time warp from then now might appear. So tell me about some of the trips and stumbles along the way.

- I didn't have any.

- It was perfect. Cool as a cucumber.

- I was born awesome, come on.

- This is where I go, liar, liar, pants on fire, Mr. Montgomery. I think it's like every... Every job is the same and that you start out as a young person thinking you're better than you are. And I think that's a nice that we all have that protective quality that we don't know at the time, how dumb we are and how bad we are. We only know that with hindsight. 'Cause like in my case, standing on stage, I never would have done it, if I would've known how bad I was. Thank heavens, I didn't know, 'cause I wouldn't, whatever. Yeah so, the trips and stumbles, when you're a guy on stage are obvious, I think, if you're entry level in a big corporation or whatever, sometimes they're not as blatant but when your audience walks out on you, as they have on me, if people just come up to you and say, that sucks which they've done to me and we're not talking like maybe that happens at your quarterly 360 review. We're talking if that happens daily or multiple times a day, which has happened to me, that feedback is instant and inescapable. So, quickly you learn, you can't be on stage and not have some dings. And it's just part of the process. It's just... You cannot be a good anything onstage until you're at least mediocre and in my case, really quite bad, but that's part of it, you know, at this point I'm proud of that. You can't... One of the reasons I'm good now is I've been on stage thousands of times and lots of them sucked.

- And like you in an industry where we get graded absolutely every day and we all know that happy sheets, et cetera that are done at the end of the training workshops. And to your point, people can walk with a ... Vote with their feet and walk out. So what advice do you have for leaders who may be embarking on their performance review process right now and either about to deliver or receive feedback that doesn't fit their self image? How can they best receive it with grace, and process it in a way that helps them to learn and grow?

- You're asking new leaders who are about to get feedback as in you're not an awesome leader yet.

- Mmmh.

- Yeah well give in, 'cause that's the way. Welcome to life, Honeybunch, that's what I would tell them. It's just part of it, I was talking to a professional, actually somebody you and I both know he's also a speaker. Karl Mecklenburg, is a pro bowl football player a former Denver Bronco. He was talking that in football, if you're... If you make a mistake one time out of every 10 times, so 90% success rate, but 10% mistake then you're a pro bowler. And part of the football culture is you don't just make the mistake, then you go into the office with all of your peers and you look at film of your mistake and everyone tells you how stupid you were. And if you can't get over that sort of feedback you're never going to be a pro bowler because part of it is learning from the mistake and trying not to make that particular mistake again. And that is hard, isn't it? That kind of tough shove?

- Let's be clear getting feedback that we need to do different, that we aren't living up to our own ideals. It hurts, it hurts. But as Karl demonstrated in that anecdote and his. From his career and from all of us, it's looking for that 1% grain of truth and separating the, what we did from who we are, 'cause it's not that I suck as a person, I suck at the magic trick that didn't quite go as effort, effortlessly as I might've liked. It's not that I suck as a person, it was, I was not as eloquent or on my game when I was on the stage and delivering that keynote. So, it's the 1% of truth, and then making a choice about what are we going to do, if anything, with it? Because the reality is we don't have to act on the feedback but of course there are potential consequences if we choose not to.

- Plus I would just politely push back that I'm not positive what you mean by 1% of the grain of truth, but like in Karl's example, and in my example, when I was on stage and people left, I wasn't 1% bad, I was 100%, it just was wrong, it was digital, like either that's good or it's bad. And I wasn't good, so, there still is something there like, apparently I want to get better. And I'm not part of to get better... Part of the process of getting better is just to realize you're not there. You were talking about what advice I would give to those young leaders. I think part of it is just to get over yourself and take a deep breath and remember you're human and the life isn't... Life here... Sky's not falling today, but it's a process and you're going to be... If you're at the beginning of your career let's say your mid 20s you're going to be better in your late 20s. And guess what? You're going to be even better in your early 30s. And you're going to still improve in your late 30s, if that's obvious and it should be, then I think it just gives yourself permission to say calm the heck down here, you're learning, you're young, get used to it.

- So I love the fact that the focus of your business is around bringing happiness to the workplace, to boost productivity, the creativity, innovation as I mentioned in the introduction. So how has that... How has that changed over the years? 'Cause I flashed back to my first career in banking, where I can assure you in the early '90s, happiness was not up there. It was the make money, make money, make money transactional approach to business, but I recognize now it's evolved. So tell us a little bit more about the happiness at work and why that is a passion for you.

- I think you're going to love how I deflect this question. When you introduce me Morag, I was horrified when you mentioned all the happiness stuff and then while you were talking, I looked at my own bio on my own darn website and go, Oh, this is the wrong version. So yes, I have talked about happiness and you and I can talk about happiness as much as you like, and I totally plan to answer your question. But my current interest is really about social and emotional support as it relates to performance which really is only a couple of giant steps to talking about engagement and our personal sense of wellbeing and happiness. So they're on the same page, they're like... They're spirit animals.

- Oh yeah they are. So tell us more about that then, that, that's your passion. Why that, why now?

- Because it's what I care about, and let me explain, when I first started to be a speaker Morag, I just was trying to fill my calendar. I didn't have any passion about a speaker, I was just my background was from entertainment, when you're an entertainer your job is to please the audience. And when I decided, I guess I should be a speaker I started thinking, how do I please the audience? And only when I grew up doing that, I realized, well I can be quite good, and I won some very nice awards doing that type of material that I went out and researched, and learned about and was able to communicate. But really things changed when I realized, I don't care about this. What do I care about? And why aren't I talking about that? And the way I discovered that is a little it's... I think it's instructive for every career, I have. If you imagine this line being my entire keynote, here's all the stuff that I was reporting on data I had read and studies, I came to understand and whatever. And there was a little bit in the section that was kind of in my mind labeled stuff Brad actually believes in and cares about. And that was the part when I get to that part, like, Oh, this is really exciting, I love this part. And then I do it and the feedback was good, but it was too late, I'm off to the... What I needed to cover. And so really about 10 years ago, so mid 40s I was at, I finally realized, Oh, that section right there, that's my keynote, screw it. That's it, forget everything else. Like I said, all that stuff is on the same page, they're all siblings. So they're not... It's not crazy but just realizing I only... This is what I really care about, I have been an encourager my entire life, I have been the recipient of like really strategic mentoring and coaching, and I've really benefited for that. If you asked me, what do I want my kids to know about? What do I want any young person to know about? What do I want those, those people at the middle and end of their career to understand better when I am convinced they don't, it's... Calm down and remember your person, and maybe you could be a little more supportive if we can connect that to bottom line business metric growth, boom that would be cool, and guess what? We can.

- It is, it's bringing the fun back to work, so that in that... Today, we're recording this on a Monday on that Monday morning, when you wake up, when your feet touch the ground, if more of us could go, yay, it's Monday, I get to play with my work colleagues again and have fun versus the, oh, heck it's Monday, another five days of this. If we can change that around and harness that passion, it makes a huge difference for everybody and what we can do together. Darn right.

- No, and that's part of it, I think, 'cause that's sort of the engagement piece, like can you go in there and live? But the second part to me, is equally or even more interesting, which is how do you get there?

- So, how did you get there?

- And I think... And that's why being a strategic encourager, or harnessing social and emotional support in a way that's helpful, really has a payoff, a social or a selfish payoff for us. And I think that's how you get to the happiness piece. That's how you get to the, yay, it's Monday piece.

- So audience members and participants in your programs what do they leave with that they can apply in their own world and in their own world at work and their own world, as it is now work at home?

- I want them to leave with the feeling that they can do it. Meaning I'm the first one to tell you, if you want the content from my keynote I could probably give it to you on a note card. I mean, it's not that deep and I'm hyper sensitive and aware of the fact that I am giving people information that they already know. I'm there... No one's listening to me saying, I have never heard that instead they're saying like, "My grandma told me this." So then the question becomes, how do you tell people something you feel they should know in a way that makes them say, "I want to listen." But most importantly in a way that makes them want to act on it and that's the motivational piece. And for me, the answer is feelings, and we don't talk about that much in business, but I want them to feel like this is relevant and feel like they can do it and feel like they understand what to do next and feel like they want to do next. So for me, it's all about... Is that a weird answer? It's about feelings.

- I love it, your grandmother was a wise woman, and like you say, a lot of we share is common sense but it requires an uncommon discipline to actually do it. It requires a passion to want to do it. It requires courage to do it even in the face of, in banking that this is not how business is done, but it's a choice. And often we're so busy running on our hamster wheels, we lose sight of that choice, that if we're not happy here, if we're not thriving and working and doing the skills in an area that we want that we can't have influence and affect change. That's what makes your session so powerful.

- This is where I'm politely pushing back. No, it's not that hard, it doesn't take courage. No, it's not that complicated. At least that's my take on it, I'm telling people to go out there and we say, please, and thank you. Be nice, care about people. Wonder where they sit and see if you can understand that. That to me is not rocket science, and that's what kills me when I, when I talk to leaders and they're like, "Whoa, are... I read 19 books on a strategy of leadership." And I'm like, "Yeah, but have you ever let your people know that you care about them?" To me, that's just not hard, that they already know that, yet they're not doing it.

- It was funny, I was on a call this morning with Dr. Marshall Goldsmith and the 100 Coaches. And that was the theme of the conversation that we had today the need for acknowledgement and appreciation and recognition for ourselves and either asking for it. But also to your point, the willingness to give it, 'cause you can never over appreciate or over recognize others. And not only are you helping others to feel good about what they're doing, but there is a reciprocal 'cause it fires off all of the the mirror neurons and everything else. It feels good to give that appreciation, and yet we hold back.

- You were mentioning about, I know you and I are on the same page, but I was saying I don't think it's hard. One of the first times I realized I had a little wisdom for business, it was years ago. So the beginning of my speaking career, so, I was still entertaining, but not selling... I wasn't selling myself as an entertainer but that meant I really was still making stuff up and didn't really know what I was doing. And I was hired by a big computer company that has three initials and one of them starts with I. And then there's an M and a B in there and see if you can figure out the... And I was hired for this big management conference, and they were teaching these newish managers all these fancy techniques. And they had an unlimited budget to train these new leaders, and I'm sitting in the back as they're talking about managing, by walking around. And the point was hilarious to me, Oh, you got to get out of your chair and you got to walk.

- Go talk to the people.

- To the people you're managing, and then you're going to have to talk to them. And I'm like... They're scribbling notes. Oh, that's brilliant, Oh, I can do that. And I'm just thinking, are you freaking kidding me? Like that isn't obviously... Forgive me Morag, my phone's ringing, it's behind my brick wall.

- It's the CEO of a certain computer company saying...

- Wouldn't that be great, yeah.

- We want you back.

- You named us by initials, you couldn't fool us, We know exactly what you're doing. My point is that they were kind of holding out as, "Oh, this is our strategy, it's a skill to tackle I mean, teach this to you," and I'm like...

- I don't know, but you got to give grace here that sometimes we just need a reminder, for example for me, I know it took me 262 days. And I know that because I was using it in my own keynotes to wonder why I was getting a little grumpy last year, 'cause obviously the whole world went sideways with the pandemic. And I realized that I'd replaced my commute and downtime on airplanes every week with a bed desk, bed commute. And I wondered why the COVID curves were going the wrong way. And so there, it was all about the reminder of, okay what new habits am I going to introduce? For example, when I hang up from the endless Zoom calls I now hang up and I go do something I move. And again, it's not rocket science, it's obvious. Don't just sit, it's unhealthy. But we need that reminder sometimes to just shake us up a little bit and start making the easy habits part of our every day approach.

- Yeah I feel you, you're right. I think the difference is like the word simple and easy, and they're not saying, but I just kind of feel like of course there are hard skill tactics and strategies for leadership that leaders ought to know. And I honestly don't have a lot to say about those, but that soft-skill tactic of doing this to me is ridiculously simple. But I agree with you, that doesn't necessarily mean it's easy and in fact, I wouldn't be in business if it was so, yay.

- So on that note, Brad, how can people learn more about the programs that you offer and get the updated bio?

- I know.

- That accurately describes the value that you bring?

- Oh, can you imagine that,, my name is Brad Montgomery, and that's the website, come on by and visit, I'll buy you a cup of coffee.

- Please do, and I'll make sure all of that information in the show notes around us, Brad. I look forward to seeing you in all four glorious, three dimensions in due course, but in the meantime thank you for sharing your leadership journey with People First, today.

- You rock Morag, you're doing good work. Keep it going.

- Thank you.

- [Announcer] Thank you so much for joining Morag today. If you enjoyed the show, please like and subscribe, so you don't miss a thing. If you learn something worth sharing, share it, cultivate your relationships today, when you don't need anything before you need something. Be sure to follow Skye Team and Morag on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And if you have any ideas about topics we should tackle, interviews, we should do or if you yourself would like to be on the show, drop us a line at that's S-K-Y-E Thanks again for joining us today and remember business is personal and relationships matter. We are your allies.

What is PeopleFirst! with Morag Barrett?

Welcome to SkyeTeam's People First! In this series, we explore the people side of successful business and careers. We all have a story to share, a leadership journey that we are experiencing.

We'll be interviewing authors, business leaders, thought leaders, and people like you to uncover the latest ideas, resources, and tools to help you become more effective at work - and in life. As it turns out, the secret is cultivating winning relationships. Business is personal, and relationships matter!