Share before you’re ready. Leaders learn the answer. In this episode of Powderkeg: Igniting Startups, you’ll meet Max Yoder making his third appearance on the podcast. As the CEO of Lessonly, a rapidly scaling tech company in Indianapolis, Max views his job as helping people flourish, thrive and understand themselves. In this conversation Max shares his learnings as a founder and breaks down some of the core principles of his newest book, “Do Better Work.” The mantras and habits that he shares are applicable to everyone, whether you’re leading a team, working on a team, or spending any time with people.
In this episode with Max Yoder, you’ll learn:
- Methods to create clarity, camaraderie and progress in life and work
- Why it’s important to share your work before you’re ready
- How changing a personal habit is similar to the steps in a marketing funnel
- Ways to model the behaviors you’d like to see on your team
- The importance of processing emotions and how to prevent emotion from spilling over
- Compassionate, thoughtful behaviors that inspire better work
Please enjoy this conversation with Max Yoder!
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Max Yoder quotes from this episode of Powderkeg:
“Share along the way. Check in. Don’t get too far without confirming direction.” @MaxYoder #PowderkegHQ
“Share before you’re ready’ is how you make sure what’s getting done matches what’s needed.” @maxyoder #PowderkegHQ
“If you want people around you to be at meetings on time, you have to be at meetings on time. Model the behavior you want to see.” @maxyoder #PowderkegHQ
“The wake and impact you leave in the world boils down to “What am I doing?“ and “What am I celebrating?” That’s what your influence boils down to.” @maxyoder #PowderkegHQ
“Share along the way. Check in. Don’t get too far without confirming direction.” @MaxYoder #PowderkegHQ
Sharing before you’re ready is all about talking to your ultimate audience and ask them: What do you like about this; What isn’t jiving so well; What am I missing? @maxyoder #productfeedback #PowderkegHQ
Get the book: Do Better Work by Max Yoder
Did you like today’s conversation with Max? Get a copy of his book “Do Better Work” on Amazon.
Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
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Previous Episodes of Powderkeg Igniting Startups
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And I build quibble for nine months in this vacuum and within three minutes and individual goals, so why does it do X and X was just this idea that was smart. I never even thought of it.
Hello, hello powderkeg fans. This is episode 80 of powderkeg igniting startups, the show for entrepreneurs, leaders, and innovators building remarkable tech companies in areas outside of Silicon Valley. I’m your host, Matt Hunckler. And today, we’re going to be talking about how you and your team can do better work with a guest who literally wrote the book on it. In this episode, you’re gonna learn some simple but profound ways that you can do better work. This is true for everyone, even if you don’t lead a team or work in a professional setting. I mean, this stuff applies to your personal life as well. Our guest is a longtime friend of mine, we’ve got a ton of history. This is actually his third appearance on the podcast, because he is one of the most listened to episodes, I guess I should say two of the most listened to episodes to date. Now he’s going for the third one in his repertoire. This guy is currently helping more than 400 companies create smart, high performing teams, he leads a high performing team of his own, and is now the author of the brand new book, do better work. So let’s kick things off with the lessonly co founder and CEO Max Yoder. Max, thanks for being here. You bet, man. I
was looking forward to this all day. Dude, me too. All week, actually. Yeah, no, kid. Not gonna lie. No kidding. Yeah, we, when you hit me up and said, Let’s talk about it. I was like any excuse me, and let’s do it. And then we’ll get hang out again any other time
and having the date as helped me prioritize actually reading through your book good and enjoying the chapters savoring them. And coming up with questions for you so eager to dive in, please. But I want to give a little bit of context for those that maybe aren’t familiar with you. You know, you’re our only person that we’ve had on the podcast. This is your third appearance. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. So you’re the only three peat we’ve got. That’s awesome. I appreciate that. For good reason. Your first two episodes, were amazing. Some of our most downloaded episodes. Good people. Love you, Max. Good. Well, I appreciate that. And you’ve got a really cool story. And you and I have known each other for over a decade now.
Yeah, well, man, can you believe that? No, that’s me.
Yeah, I think I knew you actually in 2000. Yeah. 2009. That’s right. That would mean you went on your recruiting? Yeah. But I knew you even when you were an intern at Studio science at the time k plus a Yeah, that would have been 2008. Yeah. So over a decade. Yeah. Well, dude, I’m so excited and I would love to give a little context for those that don’t know your whole backstory. You know, you’re born and raised Indiana. Yep. Goshen, Northern Indiana. Goshen, Indiana. Yeah. Tell me a little bit about what it was like in in Goshen. And were you always an entrepreneurial
kid? I don’t believe so. Yeah, no, I find Goshen to be delightful. You know, you don’t know what you don’t know. And I really just appreciated what I didn’t know about Goshen. You know, and I didn’t have much to compare it to Sure.
I didn’t travel much. You know, I
don’t. I traveled with my mom. She was a travel agent for 20 years. So I traveled with her, but it was kind of like those destinations to you know, beaches, which I’m not complaining about. Sure. But she would, as a travel agent, she gets to go on trips, and sometimes she’d bring us weather. So I flew a lot more and I was younger and don’t remember it. That’s cool. But yeah, it was kind of those exotic locations. It wasn’t to like another potential place where you’d live, you know, like nobody thinks about living in San Juan. Yeah, maybe it’s that nobody thinks about it. But I wasn’t thinking about it. I didn’t go travel to New York a lot. Yeah, I was growing up. You know, it was really after college, that I traveled there. But I think the entrepreneurial event, it’s in the genes. My grandpa started a business, a funeral home that my dad and his brother still run today. Yeah. And
that’s really interesting. It’s not a business. You hear about that much on podcasts? No, I’m happy to talk about it. But I imagine you’ll learn some lessons.
Oh my gosh, yeah, it was, it was cool to see. I was always very proud growing up to my parents, and my dad owned a business with his brother. And as you should be. Yeah, that was really cool. And I think it’s just a neat business because people are really kind of they have their own conceptions of it straight out of the gate. You know, when you engage with a funeral director, it’s because somebody you loved passed away. Yeah. And ideally, you have a really good experience then because it’s a very important time to have a really good experience. But I just had a lot of pride in it was having the inside scoop on what it’s like to what happens after death. You know, like my dad made death very natural because we talked about it at the dinner table you know, somebody dying, here’s how they died. Death was just not something that was a football. Yeah, and I thought that was I think that’s very good for me. How so? I just, I gotta imagine, it was one of the reasons that I really was excited about kind of grabbing life by the horns. It’s just like we’re gonna die you know, and I there’s nothing that scares me about that. I don’t want to die soon, right. But this the idea of everybody dies, some people die way sooner than they expect to. And that is a motivate anything to have planted in your head when you’re
eight. It’s almost like ingrained stoicism.
You got to get it done right. Yeah. Like us move. Yeah. Yeah. It’s like I’m at peace with death. I don’t want to die right now. But I’m at peace with death. And I really like to just soak up life.
really cool. Yeah, it was a positive impact.
Did you learn any direct entrepreneurial lessons or business lessons? Just observing your, your dad and your grandfather’s business?
Yeah, I think if I look back to see how they manage customer service, you know, that’s a place where you got to nail it. Yeah, you’re dealing with folks in a very tough time. And it’s, you got to show a lot of empathy. And you got to be very patient, because a people have a lot more things to do when their folks die than make sure the funeral goes well, and there’s just so much going on. Yeah. And I think to be able to see the posture with which my dad and his business partners and you know, teammates, approached people was a very positive one. I think, you know, my dad always, he told me, I remember the day he told me, we’re driving away from the funeral home. And he told me that, I asked him a question like, What do you do if people aren’t good actors? You know, I didn’t use the word actors, but like, you know, they’re not if they don’t do the right things. He said, what most people do. And that was very important for me to hear. Because he would have said, well, you know, Max, here’s how you protect yourself from everybody else. I might have had a different worldview. But he was like, you know, most people want to do right by one by one another. And that was just a big deal to me. And I tell him, I’ve told him that that I’m really glad he went that direction.
When you’re like that impressionable kid, right. That that lodged in your psyche?
Yeah. So the core of people was good. Yeah, no, and just sit back and fear of when most people are good isn’t probably healthy. If you would have said, Hey, most people are bad. You gotta protect yourself. That would have been a different thing. Yeah. I think he knows that. Because he experiences a lot of people. And he sees them at a very vulnerable point.
Sure. Sure. Wow. I didn’t know that about you. Yeah. Well, I’m glad we talked about it. Yeah, me too, man. Well, so take me now fast forward to you mentioned you you traveled you only really traveled to places like New York City and San Francisco. After college, right? You had a very interesting college career, and that you created your own major. Can you talk to me a little bit about that? Yeah, that
was a really just a great, great blessing I was studying to be a communications major, wasn’t really confident that business was the right route for me, because I didn’t really know what it was, like, I didn’t know the underlying principles of business. If you would ask me about finance and accounting, I probably couldn’t give you an idea of what accounting was. But finance, I thought it would have said it was accounting. Like I you know, my brother always said that. A business person is somebody walks around talking on a cell phone with a briefcase, that’s when we were growing up. And that was kind of as much as I knew about a business person, you know, and my dad owned a business, but I was thinking kind of the Wall Street business person. Sure. What you saw in the movies, yeah. So I didn’t go after business school I didn’t love I like Excel wasn’t my thing. And I my friends were in that school, were kind of doing things I was like, that doesn’t sound interesting to me at all. So I went communications I wanted to study of people and how we interact. And I found out that I can create my own major through the individualized major program that IU offers.
I only knew one other student that actually did that program. Was
it the magician? Yes. Yeah. I think you were telling me that he was the popular one. Yeah. I got a lot of attention because he was a magic major. And there was like one magic major in the country. Yeah. And I’m sure it was Harry Potter was happening. And it was a big deal. Oh, yeah. I never met him.
He’s a cool, dude. Good. Good. Yeah,
I only heard good things. We didn’t have a lot of camaraderie. Because it was like everybody imp was doing the different stuff. She didn’t have advertising. It was a little different than magic. Right, right. Yeah. And I did advertising and brand management, which is really the title. Under the title, there was upper level marketing classes. Yep. Which is super helpful. But then a bunch of sociology, psychology, communications, just a beautiful way to get a liberal arts degree that has a business sounding name. So I was really fortunate that my telecom teacher, Steven Crunky, who became the the person, you’re going to shepherd me through the whole thing, because my sponsor said, You should go do that. Because I don’t know if people will know that that’s an option. No, and I want more people to know what the options are. Well,
I’m glad we could talk about it. Yeah, me too.
Me too. I hope that somebody is going to IU and thinking oh, I should look into that. Because you should. You should it is it stands out when you go and get the job. And somebody’s like, well, what tell me about this, and you’re like, why I created my own major, there’s something that speaks to people. As far as I can tell, that was a positive, it was never a negative, you know, that somebody went out there and kind of crafted their own major,
I kind of wish that was the default. And and
I don’t know why it isn’t. I think we just gonna live in a world where we’ve created some structures where it isn’t, but you know, if we started over, hey, create your own major out of the things that are happening in across campus, you know, the things that appeal to you think about how many people are in what k 201 And they’re just wanting to banging their heads against those that was called.
I don’t know, there’s a bunch of them. Okay, sorry. Okay. 201 was definitely a head against the wall.
Okay. Yeah. And they’re just like, wow, and they’re not going to have to do that. Yeah. And you can have a partner at work who does that really well, right? Like it never hindered me that I didn’t know precisely what to do with Excel because somebody around me did and maybe that’s because As
we force people to the business schools, you know, so maybe I’m talking in circles here.
But I think they try to trigger this well rounded thing in business. And it’s like, well, I can be well rounded and just know a lot about people. And that can be a great business skill.
Absolutely. Well, and it is a good business skill. It’s kind of what you’ve turned into your superpower, people as a CEO.
Yeah, I think that’s my job is, is helping people flourish and thrive and understand themselves. First and foremost, self awareness. You know, like, I didn’t realize self awareness could be shortcut. I thought you had to just go through life and kind of grow it real slowly, but surely. But I’ve learned over time, there are some tools that can help. There’s some behaviors that can help. And if you know yourself, you will work on yourself. And I want people to know themselves
one and tell me a little bit about that, as you find yourself in the business world and a first time CEO of a company of one. Yeah, with your startup quibble. I remember the first time you pitched me the
idea. Yeah. Pitch it in front of people. So thank you for that, of course.
And you got great feedback. I remember you gave an awesome pitch. I think somewhere on our blog, we still have a video of you, me. So that was sitting in my own duplex talking about quibble. That’d be really I’ll see if I can take that up. We’ll put it here. We had flip cam put it in the show notes. Yes, we did. That flip cam.
I thought those things were gonna make it. Yep. Didn’t see this iPhone.
out of left field. Steve Jobs. Yeah. Well, that the cripple story that is in your book that I absolutely love. You really kind of brought together with this sort of Venn diagram? Yeah. Concept. Do you mind talking through that?
Yeah, sure. So when I ultimately realized kind of looking back on quibble was,
you want to give us the 32nd pitch on equivalent
couple was, yes, serving and pulling software. So really, it was we called the quibble because it was quick polling, it was just kind of amalgamation of those two words. And the idea was let’s embed polls into articles into blog posts. If you’re writing about something within that article, let’s give somebody something to interact with to share their feedback on whatever the topic is, you know, do you like it? Do you not like it? Pretty, pretty just generic polls, but we wanted to make them look engaging and pretty and attractive, because we kind of thought polls were relegated to sidebars, you know, kind of my thing, like they’re on the sidebar, they’re not part of the content. And a poll can give you insight, engagement and reach when you think about anybody who’s publishing, they want all of those things all the time, they want to understand their audience better. They want their audience to interact with them, they want their ideas to grow. So we put it all into one thing, but the monetization strategy wasn’t there. And what I write about in the book was just how I designed and developed quibble in a vacuum, and didn’t go out and speak to the ultimate people who I wanted to put it in their blog posts and articles. And, you know, we all know better than that. Now, I didn’t know better than that, then. And I think there was some hubris, there was some I know the answer it mentality, and I was gonna go build this thing, and then people are gonna go, Wow, good job. And what ended up happening was, I built it. And on the launch day, three minutes after I send an email of the, you know, few 100, people would sign up for kind of get early notice, somebody sends an email, and I build quibble for nine months in this vacuum, and within three minutes, and individual goes, well, why does it do X? And X was just this idea that was smart. I never even thought of it. never even thought of it wasn’t like I thought it out and said, Do I, here’s why it was like, Oh, I’ve never even considered that. And it was a good idea. And it was kind of a 10 link, because for the future of of quibble, I was trying to make up for the fact that it stayed in that vacuum so long, and spent all of my resources on developing the first version of the software, when I should have built something a lot simpler, a lot less kind of baked and got it out in people’s hands to get feedback. So sharing before you ready is like, which is what I should have done share before you ready, is how you make sure that what’s getting done matches what’s needed. I was getting stuff done, but it wasn’t was when it was needed. Yep. And when you share before you’re ready, you communicate early and often so that what you’re getting done aligns with what’s needed. And you do that by talking to your ultimate audience and saying, you know, what do you like about this? What isn’t driving so well? And what am I missing? Those are kind of the three big questions.
Can you slow that down for me and maybe even break it down? I love the concept of share before you’re ready. Yeah. And you’ve been talking about that for a long time. Yeah. I love the concept. But sometimes taking it from concept to actual implementation is the is one of the more challenging pieces. How would you recommend sharing before you’re ready if say I’m tasked with a project? Yeah. What’s
What’s the project that you got tasked with
so let’s say I’m tasked with a project of writing email copy to announce the new feature set for the powder keg platform, beautiful, beautiful
example. So the traditional way people would go about writing the email copy or knots powder keg platform is they go well, I was tasked with this I was I was given people but confidence in me to do this. Well, I’m gonna go in a hole and come back and really wow them. And I’m going to start writing and I’m going to really, really stress over the writing I’m going to edit and then I’m gonna come back and say I got it. Here’s the email I want to send. And that could be days. When I finally come back and say I’m ready to share this with you cheering before you ready would go and taking an hour to write that first draft and then going is this directionally accurate? Like, what am I missing? Yeah. And if if I gave you that assignment, you’d come to me and you’d say, is this directionally accurate? And I could say that is totally in line with the direction I was hoping. Or I could say, Hey, Matt, I’m hoping you maybe take it this direction, or maybe the tone is off, or hey, don’t forget to add these things. And then you go, okay, great. You go back to work. And when you get when you feel pretty comfortable with your next draft, come back and say, driving, and I’m thinking, what am I gonna go, Matt, you’re nailing it, go get it done. But you’re just communicating along the way. It’s all it is. It’s just communicate, checking and checking in. Yeah, it’s informal check ins.
So talk to me about why you’re a student of human behavior.
Yeah, I love human behavior.
What is it about us that when you when you lay it out like that, that is clearly the practical and logical answer is to share along the way, check in don’t get too far down the path before you, you know, you’re going in the right direction. Yeah. That’s obviously the logical reason. But we as humans in general, act illogically. Yep. It we want to go and make it perfect. And, and share and have everybody go, Wow, you’re so brilliant. Exactly. What is it about human behavior that that is the what’s the word? It’s the honeypot?
I don’t what I think makes us do that. And I’m not a psychologist, but the psychologists that I read, I hope wouldn’t, wouldn’t would say that I’m getting close. So perfectionism is one big thing. You know, we’re taught to be perfectionist people put perfectionist on their resume, like it’s a good thing. Perfection is don’t don’t tend to go very far. They don’t tend to create much, because they stay in that vacuum for a very long time. But we tend to prize this idea of well, I make sure I really get it right. Which kind of implies that you know what to do given enough time, and I don’t think you are I know what to do given enough time. Well, we know what to do when we share what we’re doing with other folks. Jonathan Hite would say and he’s a psychologist, a positive psychologist, he’d say you and I individually aren’t very smart. Collectively, we can be very intelligent, especially if you don’t have the same background especially we come at things from different angles, collectively, we can be really intelligent. If we get a bunch of people who think the exact same way in a room we don’t get any smarter. But if we get benched people have different angles, we get quite a bit smarter. So I think we believe that we’re supposed to have the answer and and know the way in kind of dominant life, that anybody worth their weight can can know the answer. Have the answer know the way dominate life. And that’s kind of encapsulated in a phrase. I say leaders know the answer. I think it’s a myth that we believe I’m a leader, I should know the answer. And I see it played out a lot, especially with first time managers, and anybody can be a leader. Don’t get me wrong. But first time managers tend to really take it very seriously and say, well, now I’m in the position, I better know what to do. Well, they don’t know what to do, because I’ve never done it before. And there’s new problems all the day all the dang time. And Ben battaglia was kind enough to go on the record telling the story. So I’ll tell it again, he saw a discrepancy in our system. And his default was the leaders know the answer approach. Well, I should just figure out what the hell’s happening here. And the system, any any any kind of went in a corner and tried to figure it out? Couldn’t figure it out. And two days later asked one other person, Kyle, another person. Tamra, have you noticed this, and they immediately gave him really good ideas that, you know, 48 hours had gone by before he got these good idea because he stayed in this vacuum. And they ultimately collectively figured out very quickly what was happening, but then he’s like, you know, my instinct, even if he will help me write the book, it’s not knowledge that we need to learn the answer isn’t enough, we’re just naturally going to have to kind of, we have to put it into practice that we need to learn the answer. So lead, and it’s hard. And you know, Ben helped me write the book. And it’s freaking hard, you know, he’s not, we’re not going to nail it every time. So the alternative to leaders know the answers is leaders learn the answer. And when you flip that one word, the world changes. If I’m, if I’m learning the answer, I can ask you anything. I don’t be nervous. How would you
suggest to leaders, or anyone really wanting to do better work to catch themselves when they’re going into this pattern of, okay, I just got assigned this task, I’m gonna go start to work on it. How? How could we empower our audience? Yeah, to say, leaders understand that they need to learn,
yeah, they need to learn. So first and foremost, if you are leading other folks, you do it and they’ll do it. So if you want to impact the person who, you know, maybe isn’t confident, if you show them that that’s the way to get things done, they will start getting things done that way. And so it’s incumbent on all of us to go out there and set out and be a model for this and make it safe. That’s how we get our whole organization to do it. If you’re if you’re listening right now, and you maybe don’t work with other folks, and or maybe you have some folks you could bounce ideas off of, but you don’t do it enough. I would encourage you to say why am I not sharing with our murderer right now? And you say, well, it’s not ready yet. And that’s precisely when you need to be sharing. You know, when you answer the question of, well, I’m not ready yet. But that’s precisely the time I give an example of things be a lot more like a sculptor in the book, a sculptor doesn’t. It doesn’t wait till everything’s been cast in bronze or sculpture being cast in bronze to get feedback that’s too late. You know, it’s in bronze. They wait when things are still in the clay stages and when they’re wet, and they’re doing little mini models and saying, I’m gonna make this bigger, is it directionally accurate? If you say Hey, Max, the eyes are off or the chins off or whatever it is the bus that I’m creating, you know, as A clay sculptor, I can do it pretty quickly, I can make moves, right? But if I wait till it’s bronze, nothing, it’s exhausting to go back. And I’m probably not going to go back. Sure. So think think more like a sculptor. And don’t be shy, you’re ill you’re allowed to not know what to do, you’re not supposed to know what to do. If we knew what to do, we probably wouldn’t have given it to you as a project would probably just be done. We don’t know what to do. So I hope that helps. I think it’s ultimately just self reflecting and saying, Why am I not doing it? Sure. And it’s probably because fear and ego.
Well, you say self reflecting. And I imagine that’s a lot of how you kind of learned these lessons, because you, you talked about quibble how you didn’t share before you’re ready. Yeah. What kind of self reflecting practice Do you have, where you’re able to say, Hey, why this didn’t work is because of not sharing. Before I was reading, yeah.
I’m fortunate enough to be very, very excited and interested in writing. And it’s not necessarily to publish Though clearly, I do appreciate publishing. I just like to write and I like to process my own thoughts by writing. And it occurred to me while writing the book, that we will write down our to do lists, because we’re worried we will remember what to do. But we will not write down our most important thoughts, as though we can carry those up here. But we can’t even manage our to do list. Like, oh, who are we fooling? We have to write a to do list down, but we don’t spread our most important thoughts down. Yeah, it’s bizarre it is. But I think most of us go through life keeping the most important stuff up here and putting our to do lists, like get bread, you know, call Jess. It’s like, that’s pretty basic stuff. And I’m struggling with it. But you get the idea. Yeah, I want more of us to write stuff down. And it’s not about ever sharing it. It’s just about getting it out of your head and being able to make sense of it. And I think when you sit back, I just get I’m fortunate enough to be able to spend a lot of time, close my eyes and just thinking, and that’s a beautiful thing and saying, What would I have done differently there. But I think the main thing in any self assessment is to look internal and not external. Connor gave me the Jim Collins phrasing today is first look in the window, and then looking I’m sorry, first look in the mirror, then look in the window, look out the window. So first, look inside yourself about what could I have done differently? Yeah, because it’s pretty easy, I think for folks to just kind of make a quick checklist of all the things out the window that that mess the whole thing up for him and not look internally and say, well, what could I have done different? Cuz I could have gotten up earlier? I could have made three extra calls. You get the idea? Yeah, sure. That’s where growth comes from. It’s not the stuff out the window. It’s like, what could I have done differently?
Well, and you mentioned Connor, talk to me about who Connor is and what he means to you. Obviously, we all go back. Yeah. to 10 years ago.
Yeah, he’s my best friend. And he’s a yin to my Yang at lessonly. I mean, the yin to my Yang lessonly. He has so many strings that I don’t have. And I like to think you know, the opposite is true. We just balance one another out really well. Yeah. He is an eternal optimist, or maybe not so much can kind of get to in threat mindset or in any given day, he might be up and I might be down and we he helps me get there or vice versa. But he oversees all revenue at lessonly. First guy to join the team built all you know, I don’t think we’d have I don’t think we’d have 110 teammates without Connor. I’m not sure we’d have 10 teammates without Connor. I’m not sure what I’d be doing right now without Connor. So yeah, he’s my business partner. He’s a president lessonly.
Yeah. So So you talk about that yin to your Yang. How important is that at work?
Yeah, I’m convinced if anybody has ever done business well, even you know, the folks that we think of them as singular figures. They always had somebody. They always had somebody you know, I don’t know who Steve Jobs was. It might have been Tim Cook’s just kind of use a very obvious example, somebody we think of a singular figure, you have to have a balance. You know, we just and Connor does such a great, I just I don’t believe that there is anybody out there who is making their way in and making a lot of progress without that balance, doesn’t mean there’s not an exception. I shouldn’t say but I think the rule is you need somebody to balance you out. And Connor, is that person for me?
Well, I think it’s great to have that kind of perspective to sort of be aware of that. And being self reflective. Probably what you’re doing in the early days of lessonly. Yeah, to be able to identify, hey, I need I need someone. Yeah, it can be the yin to my Yang, or the Yang Lima. And it
started out simply of like, he knows sales, and I don’t Yeah, and that was, you know, the first step into saying, well, oh, man, he’s all and I was living with him. So countermoves in, got introduced by Alex Lau introduces an old friend of mine and very gratefully did countermoves in, we get really kicked it off. And I’m just starting building lessonly and he is getting me pumped. He comes on. He’s like, I could sell that like, this is really good. This could be sold right now. And I’m thinking it’s supposed to be unable to be sold. And he’s like, I could sell this right now. And he’s coaching me on sales. And then I’m like, well, there’s anybody who could bring in this guy, and I begged him. It’s not that he said was saying no, but I was nervous. He was gonna say no, I just didn’t have a lot of confidence. And I’m trying to give him every reason to say no, so that if he comes in, he doesn’t find those things out after the fact to me like why didn’t you tell me you know that we didn’t have all this figured out?
Interesting. That’s a very different approach to sales.
Yeah, I was trying to get him to I wanted to make sure if he said yes, he could never look at Because at that point I already love the guy sure can never look at me and be like, Why did I leave my job for this? Yeah. And I wanted him to have clarity what he was getting into the good, the bad, the ugly, and there was not a lot of ugly,
but it’s pretty important whether you love the person or not sure. It’s, it’s, you’re totally
right. I think it gave me more of a motivation. Sure. Like, I really want this person on the team and I didn’t want to let him down. And then ultimately, you know, Mitch and Cory who came after Connor, same same spiel, Cory and I met like eight times before, over many months before he joined as as our customer experience leader, and he still has that today. And then Connor knew Mitch, but we just really laid it out. And then when he came in, I could be like, we’re in this you know, like, we’re in this together. He came in with his eyes wide open. And that was really important to me.
That’s great. Well, and there was one thing that you said that kind of sparked a thought. We were grabbing drinks at the in front of room a couple of weekends, and it was fun. And you shared the quote from Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. Yeah, that sort of analogy is like a pipe. Yep. And something you said about processing the day’s most important thoughts. You mind sharing that in a way that you did? Because that stuck with me, but I it didn’t. I couldn’t say it as eloquently as you Sure. Yeah.
Well, I got to read it and reread it and reread it. Yellow ship, which is our annual user conference, a lesson this annual user conference, Jill Bolte Taylor was one of our speakers. She’s a neuroanatomist really cool backstory. She wrote a book called My Stroke of Insight, I highly recommend picking it up became a New York Times bestseller, amazing TED talk. Oh my gosh, yeah, she’s top 10 TEDx of all time. So she happens to be my, my mother in law’s best friend. So that’s how I got to know Joe got to go on a walk in the woods with her then got to and that was amazing. Two hours, I’d love to talk to you about it. She taught me about modeling. Basically, modeling is everything. You model it, people will do it, you don’t model it, people won’t do it. And it’s kind of created my central thesis which I kind of forgot kind of how to live came from that walk in the woods with Jill Bolte Taylor. Well, another thing she did for me was gave me this analogy for processing emotions. She said, I view it like a pipe, and emotions like water running through a pipe. If you process your emotions, they they run through the pipe, if you don’t process them, they build up in the pipe. And what ends up happening for a lot of folks who have never taught how to process their emotions and are given a kind of social emotional learning about how to process their emotions. The pipe gets soaked, it’s full, and it wants to burst. And when we’re overwhelmed like that either does burst and have a big outburst. And like we actually act out, or we tried to, to kind of quell the pipe from bursting by by going to Addictive Behaviors, drugs, alcohol, retail therapy, anything that kind of makes the emotions feel like they’re not there for a given time, social media, TV, anything. Yes. That distracts anything that numbs and you know, I know all too well about kind of digging into those things and kind of thinking that they’re going to help and they don’t help at all. Sure. So her analogy is water either flows through and you process the emotions or it builds up. And for a lot of folks, it builds up. And because we’ve never been taught how to get it out, we tend to not be very good at getting it out, or it seeps out of us. And I’ll tell you, at the end of writing the book, it started to seep out of me, I’ve carried so much stress, trying to get the book to work. And I wanted the book so badly to be good. And I agonized over every sentence, agonize over it, that when I was done, I could feel my body pushing the stress out. And I would just cry at random and arbitrary things, not arbitrary, but like even like slightly emotional things. I just start crying. I was on the stage in front of the whole company at the State of the Union with their biggest meeting, and I was up there for probably 30 seconds. And I got to say, hey, the book come out soon, and people cheered. And I just I just lost it. And it was it was
just not laughing at you. Oh, no, I’m not I’m not at your expense. I’m laughing because I know how deeply you feel things. I can just picture that. Oh, it was
I was I just had chatting my wife and my head thinking lock it up, lock it up. Because she says to me when it’s like gametime and she knows my emotional like lock it up. Because you know you you’re speaking Yeah, you’re speaking and people are here to hear you speak not cry. And she’s not like, you know, suppress it. But she’s like, You got to speak still. Just as so yeah, I was thinking about Jess at that time, lock it up, lock it up. Anyhow, I had let a lot of emotion built up in that pipe. And I don’t think I processed it very well. And a oozed out with me when it was just like my body was physically pushing it out of me.
How would you recommend to a friend or teammate some of the ways that you found have successfully process emotions?
Yeah, therapy, counselors. Anything that is with a third party who has experience helping people process their thoughts, you know, and I say a third party because it’s not that I wouldn’t recommend a friend friends are great. Do it with a friend. Don’t Don’t say like, Well, I gotta find a third party if that’s not available to you. But it’s very helpful if it is available to you to find a third party who is trained and helps you kind of put put into words what you’re doing, you know, like whatever stories you’re telling yourself how we can give you a kind of context for oh, this is not just you, that can be very helpful. And then being able to talk through you know, limiting beliefs. Talk through forgiveness. Your dad As somebody who specializes in this, and he has been very helpful to me, I have a consortium of folks around me who kind of fit that mold because I need them. But I don’t think I processed the book with anybody other than Jess, I was, this was like, the one of the important things I have projects I’ve ever worked on, you know, lesson leads the most important thing from a business standpoint of I worked on this was like the most important single project and I didn’t handle it very well.
Well, the work product is amazing. Yeah, it ended up finding and Congratulation. Thank
you. Thank you. I just think I’m not mad about how I handled it. But I’m sure I could have maybe cost a little less stress for myself and Jess,
and the next book you write, I’m sure it’ll be less stressful. Good
There was something you said I wanted to make sure we came back to and that is this magical walk in the woods with Jill Bolte Taylor, can you break that down for me? Like even just like, Take me there, right. Yes, at the immediate scene.
Yes, I’ll drive to Bloomington Demeter. And we have an hour and a half blocked off. We ended up walking for two hours. And she likes to walk and I love to walk. So we’re walking. And she’s like, you know, how can I be helpful? You know, tell me about yourself. And I’m nervous. This
is your first conversation. We
have never spoken with it. Wow, I’m nervous. So I parked my car. I meet her at a kind of mutual meeting spot. And she’s like, I’ll hop into your car. So she asked in my car. And I was kind of nervous. I’m like, Oh my gosh, like car, because she’s highly intelligent, and has a beautiful story. And you know, she’s my, my mom, my mother in law’s best friend. So I want to do this well. But ultimately, we just started talking very openly about things I was struggling with. And at one point, she said, Well, I needed my teammates to do a certain behavior. Like I want to have difficult conversations. She’s like, Max, do you have difficult conversations? I’m like, Yes, I do. She’s like, do they know about them. So her whole idea was, you know, modeling has to be seen. And now you know, I was like, well tell me more about this. And she’s like, she didn’t describe it as a as a as a fountain. But I’d say that’s not bad. where something comes out the top and it goes all the way down. So if you are moral leader on a team, and you are in any way, helping people behave, or kind of setting a tempo or tone for how people should behave, she’s like you have to do, you have to do the things you want other people to do. And ultimately, what I realized is if you want to see it, be it and in the first introduction of the book I talked about if you want to see it, be it and the whole idea is you’re not going to make anybody do any, you can’t make anybody do anything. We spend a lot of time complaining about somebody not doing something and we ultimately should just look at ourselves and say, do I do that, because ultimately, that’s the best we can ever do is do the things we want to see. And when we model things we want to see life really clarify. So what we tend to do is we say I want people to be to meetings on time, but if I’m not to a meeting on time, well, that’s because I have a circumstance that that makes it okay, right? But nobody looks at your background circumstances, they just look at your behavior. And so you just have to do it. If you want other people to be in meetings on time, you gotta be at meetings on time, you know, and if you’re not at meetings on time, and you want other people to be, don’t expect it to happen, you have to model the behavior that you want to see. And she just really helped clarify that for me. And when I think about all the things I need people to do, and I think, Am I doing them that is incredibly clarifying, because they start to say, no, no, no, well, why I’m expecting anybody else do it. So now I have start doing them. And I start to realize how hard they are. And I start to realize, you know, I have a little more empathy for the ask. But I also when I start working on those things, just realize how hard of a thing it is to just even personally do the things that I expect other people to do. So now I empathize more when they don’t do them, you know, I can can be more compassionate. But ultimately, I can also model behaviors I want people to do and it’s so amazing how well that works.
But talk to me about that when you got that paradigm shift. Oh, I need to model all these behaviors to I mean, did you end up with a big long list of new habits you needed to create? Oh, my
gosh, so many things that I wasn’t doing that I want you to other people to do, like, you know if I expect a teammate to respond to something in a timely manner, but I wasn’t responding to other things in a timely manner. Because well, I get a lot of email. It’s my it’s my excuse. It’s like, they don’t care. Right? You know that they just see what I do. And they do what I do. And if I make it okay to kick the can on something, or to not say, hey, message received, give me some time to follow up, but just leave a black hole. Like let’s say you sent me an email. Yep. When I’m at my best, I say, Hey, mister, just give me some time. Yeah, I acknowledge receipt, it doesn’t mean I have to respond right away. You know, I don’t want you to stop my life from my email. If I wasn’t if I’m not doing that, why do I expect anybody else to and the times that I don’t do that I know, I’m not setting the example that I want with my teammates, which is don’t leave people in the dark, you know, they it shouldn’t just let them know Message received. That’s, that’s all I ask. When I do that, well, I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. And I’m my teammates can see it, and then they start to do it too. When I don’t do that. Well, the nice thing is I can apologize. And the cool thing about modeling is you either nail it, or you could do apologize when you don’t nail it either way, you’re modeling the behavior you want to see because guess what, your teammates are gonna nail it either. And if you don’t give them the ability to come and say that’s my bad. Don’t expect them to do model or to kind of don’t expect them to do it very long. They expect them to go in a corner and hide. Yeah. But if I can come out and say the standard I hold myself to is this and I didn’t I didn’t achieve it and I’m sorry. Well, then they can do that too. Modeling just works across the board.
So that’s a great example on that one habit. What happens when you look in the mirror? Before you look out the window? And you see, oh, wait, there are these 12 habits that I need to do? Did you go and attack all 12 of those at once?
No, no, I don’t think that’s why it’s called 1% at a time is the motto, you know, focus on one thing, 1% of the time with self compassion. And I also write about that in the book. It’s like 1% at a time. I think we think that awareness creates purchase, you know, like, if you think about a marketing funnel, right? Awareness is the first step and at the end, it’s purchase. And instead of purchase, let’s just call it behavior change, you know, like it’s had a bit, it’s changed to a habit, I’m aware of that need to change something all the way down the funnel, to it becoming an actual habit of mine. It’s a long way down the funnel. Awareness is just the first step. But I think we forget that we learn a new thing, and we beat ourselves up the next day when we’re not doing it. You know, oh, I wish I now know that a better behavior and look at me, it’s 24 hours later, I’m already not doing that behavior. And we start to kick ourselves and beat ourselves up. And when I say one person at a time was self compassion, I mean, when that happens, you have to remember your brain doesn’t work. awareness to purchase, right? It’s not doesn’t just happen like that. It takes a long time, just like it takes a long time for somebody who’s being marketed to to go from awareness to purchase. Yeah, our brains take a long time to build new habits. So 1% at a time, do it more every day, or every week or every month. And forgive yourself along the way. When you inevitably fail. In moment,
revert back to your old habits. Yeah, when you’re that’s a better way to put it, you revert back when you inevitably are human. Yes, you’re
human. Yeah. And that’s, that’s modeling, right? If I do that, or I give myself a little self compassion, don’t expect perfection myself, then I ideally relieve other people of that expectation.
Yeah. That’s great. So you talk about making sure people can see that. Yeah. Are there any things that you do? To make sure you know, maybe it’s a habit you’re working on at home with Jess? Yeah. And how you communicate with her? Yeah. And it’s something you asked your teammate, Team teammates to do? Yep. How do you make them aware of
that such a good question. Yeah. So if it’s something I’m working on at home, I tend to speak kind of openly about it with the team in a way that I think is appropriate. Like we have team meetings with the sales development team every two weeks, and people ask what’s going on in your life? And I’ll say, well, here’s something I’ve challenged me. And ideally, you know, what I tend to hear afterward, like if I say, Hey, I have a challenge with a family member, and I don’t give them details. But somebody comes to me and say, I’m having a challenge with a family member to after that, you know, like creates a vulnerable experience where they can relate to, if I want to prop up a behavior that maybe is happening at work, I don’t want to prop myself up as the one who’s doing it. Well, I don’t want to shine a light on me, I just need to do it. But I don’t, I don’t necessarily go out there and then broadcast that I’m doing it. Sometimes in a weekly note, I’ll share something that I’ve learned, like I wrote a note to the team and a bunch of people who subscribe to it. But generally, I’ll try to find somebody on the team who does it well. And I’ll prop that up. Yeah, you know, the behavior that I’m working on, that I really aspire to, I’ll prop them up as a model, because simply by me celebrating it yet, I’m doing a very similar thing to doing it, I need to also do it. And you know, I’m doing it, but by celebrating somebody else, I can prop somebody else up who’s a good example of it, I can say why it’s so important that they do what they do. And other people start taking notes.
Well, and in a way too, by even just writing about it, they’re modeling it for you. You bet.
You bet. Yeah, I being able to tell their stories, being able to say them verbally or in writing, helps people understand what’s what I want from them, you know, what I desire from them behavior wise? Yeah, I wouldn’t probably these behaviors if I didn’t want them.
Right. Right. I love that Max. I think that’s a really good way of thinking about it. And you gave me some ideas even just how to implement here at work. Yeah, I
think about Pete the planner, he I think this was something that I had an awareness of it Pete the planner really crystallize it is you should never be the hero of your story. You know, don’t be the don’t tell a story. You’re the hero. Right? And that’s just good advice. Yeah. People don’t tend to dig that. Like, celebrate other folks. So I’d say like your influence in life boils down to what do you do? And what do you celebrate? And celebration is an act of doing but I call it I specifically as a separate thing, because I can celebrate things that maybe I won’t do. You know, somebody else’s doing them. But I think it’s really important that we do it. So if I see a politician that I think behaving very, very well, I should celebrate that politician. I might never be that politician who’s doing that those things as a politician by should celebrate people who are who are doing the things that I want to see more of. Yeah, absolutely. So what do I do and what do I celebrate? I have control over what I do. And I celebrate in my the Wake I leave in the world, the influence I leave in the world boils down to those two things, what am I doing and what am I celebrating? I think when we distill it down to that, and we ask ourselves the question, what do I do and what do I celebrate? We can understand where we’re influencing and where we’re where we’re making an impact on the world. And ideally, we we get a little more, we focus a little more on, on thinking about those things as opposed what anybody else is doing and celebrating doesn’t matter what any real student focus on you. That’s how you motivate and influence anyone is your own behavior, not shaming somebody else’s behavior.
I love it. I wish more people had that perspective.
Thanks man. Took me a long time. I’m
well. And so that brings me to my last question, which is, what impact do you hope this book has on the world?
Yeah, if I could boil it down. The reason I make wrote the introduction, the way that I wrote the introduction to say, if you want to see it, be it in 1% at a time and self compassion, basically saying, You’re gonna read this book, you’re gonna see these behaviors. And if you want anybody else in your team to do them, you have to do them, because you can’t make anybody do anything. And the reason I think that’s so important is because I would speak about these behaviors that i No matter. They’re, they’re compassionate behaviors, they’re thoughtful behaviors, they’re progress inducing behaviors, they create clarity, they create camaraderie. I know that they matter. But what I when I go out and talk about them, I inevitably get a question from somebody in the audience that says, Well, what about my teammates, they’re never gonna go for this. And that person basically, summarily is like, I’m not even going to try, because my teammates won’t do it. Right. And that, to me is just a losing bet. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy, because you ultimately can still do and celebrate things. And you should, even if your teammates never, ever, ever change, you’re still doing your job. Yeah. But I think we give ourselves an out by saying, well, nobody around me will do it. So why should I even try. And that bums me out. So what I want with this book is to remind folks that anybody on the team can make more progress. They just have to do these behaviors. And there’s other behaviors that of course, I don’t even know about that helped make camaraderie, clarity and progress, but the ones I wrote about anybody can do, it’s not a manager’s job to create progress, clarity, camaraderie, anybody can do it. And if people don’t respond, at least you did your part. That’s all we can do as our part.
I love that. I appreciate you writing this book. I know it was not an easy task. Thanks, man. I know you put a lot into this. And it was pretty fun. I just got to share the story on the show that I wanted to do last minute prep for today’s interview. And I left my book at home on my bed stand because reading it last night. And I was like, Man, I blocked an hour this afternoon. I wanted to read this book. I was commiserating with she and on my team. And she was like, Oh, I have my copy in my backpack. So it’s getting out there, man. I’m so excited that my team is reading it and they’re excited about it. I definitely want to get a copy for everyone on the on the rest of the chair. I can help with that. Because everyone needs to do better work. Not for me or for powderkeg. But for themselves. Yeah,
it transcends at home. Yeah. And I’ve not said that all these behaviors. They’re not just work behaviors, that it’s relationship behaviors. So thank you for saying
that. Absolutely. Man. If people want to get a copy, where do they go?
I look great. Thank you for asking. So you can just search do better work on Amazon. If you want to check out the microsite that we made kind of gives you more background. It’s www.do Better dot works instead of dot Commons dot work. But yeah, just search do better work on on Amazon do better work with Max Yoder at the end of it. We’ll get you there right away. Awesome, man. Thank you.
Thanks for being here. Hey, this is Matt here again. I just wanted to say thanks again for listening to this episode. I hope you walk away. Not only feeling inspired, but also armed with some new actionable things that you can bring back to your office. Bring to your most valuable relationships and grow new valuable relationships. Make sure to give Max a follow. He’s always sharing insightful stuff. He’s on Twitter at max Yoder. I think he’s the same on Instagram and all the platforms. So make sure you check them out. And definitely pick up a copy of the book do better work you can find on Amazon, audible or by going to do better dot work. You can learn more about Max and lessonly and the whole book project and to be among the first to hear the stories about entrepreneurs, investors and other tech leaders outside of Silicon Valley. Subscribe to us on iTunes at powderkeg.com/itunes will catch you next time on powderkeg igniting startups