YDKWYDK with Les Landes, Landes & Associates, The Power & Purpose of Imagination & Freewill in the Workplace

June 13, 2022 Steve Denny/ Les Landes
YDKWYDK with Les Landes, Landes & Associates, The Power & Purpose of Imagination & Freewill in the Workplace
Show Notes Transcript

Les is Founder & President of Landes & Associates, a management consulting firm that specializes in organizational communication, employee engagement and systematic continuous improvement.  The firm serves clients in various industries, as well as government, education and non-profit organizations. 

Landes is a frequent speaker at forums and conferences across the country, and he is the author of numerous published articles on topics related to communication and organizational performance.  His articles and interviews have appeared in numerous publications, including Communication World, The Public Relations Strategist, Executive Speeches, Training, Total Quality Newsletter, Quality Progress, Strategy and Leadership, Journal for Quality and Participation and more. He writes a regular e-column/blog called Inside Out that focuses on improving organizational culture and communication, and he is the author of the popular business fable, Getting to the Heart of Employee Engagement

Prior to Landes & Associates, he was with Pet Incorporated, a major international food company, where he served for 10 years as the company's head of corporate communications with responsibilities for public and media relations, consumer affairs, employee communication and creative services.  He also played a major role in developing and implementing the company’s quality management system, and he led the organization’s extensive two-year effort to use its 100th anniversary as a major business building platform. 

Landes has served in leadership roles for the St. Louis chapters of multiple professional organizations, including President of the Association for Multi-Image International; President of the Corporate Volunteer Council; President of the Public Relations Society of America; and Board Director for the International Association of Business Communicators.  He is also a long-standing member of the Professional Advisory Board for the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Media Communication. 


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Welcome to the You Don't Know What You Don't Know podcast by Innovative Business Advisors. Successful business owners who have started, grown and led businesses share their journey and direction for the benefit of those traveling the same path. Today we're talking with Les Landes, business owner and founder of Landes and Associates. Landes and Associates has as its mission aligning employee engagement and marketing and communications. Its expertise is helping business owners build high performance organizations by providing expertise and services in the areas of employee engagement, marketing, communications, leadership, development, and talent acquisition. Les is an expert in these fields and utilizes a core group of other seasoned professionals to deliver the services his clients desire. Les is also a published author of the book Getting to the Heart of Employee Engagement. He's a thought leader and author of multiple articles, white papers, and is a man that's really driven to serve his community. Les has got a giver’s heart. His authority on these topics is widely regarded and you can find Les featured in many media magazines and articles. And you can see several of his keynote addresses on his YouTube channel. I am honored to welcome Les Landes.



So Les, tell me a little bit about the moment you decided to get into into business. Yeah.



The business right.



So I don't know, I think I've probably always thought about working or doing my own thing, having my own business. But of course, that's not where I started. Started working with a guy that brought me to St. Louis.



Brilliant man I knew from university days.



Named David Furlough. 



But for a whole host of reasons, we decided that wasn't really the right thing for us to be doing right now. So I went out to work for Maritz for a while, for a few years.



I was an audio visual writer, producer, and a creative supervisor.



And then I wound up getting a position that was just terrific, was the head of corporate communications for Pet Incorporated, was one of the world's largest international food companies. Yes. You know the old evaporated milk, cow on the can. And, of course, they had a lot of other foods, Old El Paso, Mexican foods, Progresso,



all kinds of really big name food, food brands,



Did a lot of work around what was known at the time as total quality management TQM that we all know and love, or at least we did, until I realized that it was really getting us just caught in a bunch of programs rather than really making substantive difference in the way that we did things in organizations.



And I really wanted to be able to get out and have that kind of



I'll call it the right thinking about how we really get people engaged in an organization. And so I just decided, after about 10 years of Pet that I was going to strike out on my own. And I don’t know if I might have stayed there longer, but there was a lot of stuff going on in the organization at the time. And they were going through some big changes. They wanted to make a big cut in various people in various parts of the company. And I said, Well, let's take a look at our operation here, because I had a number of departments reporting to me.



And after I got done talking with the,



I guess it was the chief administration officer was my boss. I said, you know, as you can see, we probably actually need more people rather than getting rid of folks.



He said, You know, I totally agree.



He goes but how's it going to look



if everybody else has to cut people, and you don't do that, and you add people?



And I said, You know what?



Why don't you just put my name at the top of that list. And we'll get rid of the others as well. And then I'm just going to take off. And he says no, no, no don't do that. He says, you know, we need you around here. So think about it overnight, and then come back in the morning, but I decided that was that was time, it was the opportunity. And that was more than 25 years ago. So So that's, that's how I got out here. Wow. Wow. Well, the interesting thing was Maritz when you were at Maritz was it a family run company at that time? Yes, indeed. In fact, trying to remember if



the new generation had come in. When I started there it was Bill and Jim Maritz. It was their father who started the company way back in the 30s I think it was.



And they



They were there. And it was, it was fun company to work for.



Was it, was it different going from a family run organization over to, you know, a big conglomerate like Pet?



Yeah, I mean, it was different a lot of ways. But, you know, Maritz was no small company, they had 1000 employees. So. So it was, it was no, it was not like a mom and pop shop. And when I went down to Pet, of course, this was the corporate headquarters, there were operations all around the world. But at corporate headquarters, there was you know maybe three or 400 people. So there were actually a lot more people out at Maritz in the workplace, but obviously, the position and the work was radically different.



Being responsible for both internal and external communication for the corporation, and like I said, I  had Consumer Affairs reporting to me,



creative services,



public relations, communications. So it was pretty big, getting my thoughts that I had. And it was,



was a great experience.



I often think about, you know, I also had the opportunity to work in my corporate background with a public company. And I think about public relations back before the age of the internet was completely different than it is today. Oh man, let me tell you.



Yeah, sure, as heck was. I mean, you know, I think the same principle applied and it's you got to really build relationships with the right people which got a whole lot easier to pinpoint the relationships and develop them than it is in the day of social media because they're just so many directions and so many places that you can go.



It was



much more focused and contained and manageable. Back when I was in charge of all that.



I’ll bet it was. It's gotta be, it's gotta be daunting these days. But so tell me about Landes and Associates. So you leave and you you formed Landes and Associates at that point? Actually, I formed a company called Landes Communications because that was really the core of of my work, that was really my seminal expertise. And then that's really pretty much everything that I did in the whole quality arena and engagement arena, and its roots in effective organizational communication. And so, actually spent a lot of time talking about the role of communication and in total quality management, you can add some articles written and interviews done like this one, and made presentations in conferences all around the country. So,



that was that was really the main focus of it. And



and so,



it wound up taking a lot of different branches and avenues.



I found myself doing a lot of public relations work, marketing work, organizational communication work, plenty of engagement work a lot of different kinds of things. And



so, after a while, Landes Communications was, I got a I got a call from somebody who said I think we ought to team up. And it was another company called Leadership by Design and



and I had been basically a two man operation and up until that time. And this was relatively small consulting firm, about eight or 10 people.



And I was the Chief Operating Officer and everybody else



was really pretty much in a consulting role of one kind or another. And we did a lot of interesting work and they, but within a year the CEO of the company



got brain cancer and and died shortly thereafter and we didn't really have a strong enough



I guess I'll just call it



relationship glue to hold that team together and so we all kind of dispersed. And then I started my



same business I had before Lander, Landes and Associates, I said Landes Communications because I was really using a lot more people to affiliate with than I had before.



Fascinating to, quite a, quite a change from from being in the big corporate world with with all of those resources.



To out in your own right and kind of set your own course. Yep. Yep, absolutely. I'll tell you one thing I learned in a hurry, I said it was a two man operation before I went to work for this other company.






and that woman that was with me back then



she decided she was going to be a stay at home mom for some years. And when I got out of this other operation,



we just worked out an arrangement where I could just use her on a freelance basis, a virtual basis. And that's been 20 years and I swear to God, I wouldn't know what the hell to do without her. Without a virtual assistant, excuse me, without a virtual assistant being a one man operation is is not much fun. Yeah, it's really challenging. We refer to it internally as the chief everything officer. Who Terri is for you.



Exactly. She's, she is pretty much the one man band in our office these days. Right. Yeah. And, and, you know, she does a really nice job of of keeping us straight. Because, you know, my partner Terry Lammers, and Terry and I are kind of the big picture guy, and she is the implementer, she makes everything happen. So, you know, when you when you were, when you were out there, you started in communications, you kind of evolved into a into a broader consulting. What did, what was the special sauce for you guys? What made you guys special and different than, than the other folks that were on the field? Yeah, you know, I like, I like special sauce a lot better than unique.



Because I swear to God, every time somebody says, We're unique, and I'm saying, Okay, well, let me show you about five of the people who are doing the same thing you're doing. Yeah, a little different, maybe even distinctive. Absolutely, they have their own special sauce, but unique, and not so much. So I prefer special sauce or distinctive or something. So thanks for that.



Before I jump into that, I think it will be helpful for me to kind of succinctly say, how I position myself



is to really help organizations improve organizational culture and communication.



To boost employee engagement, alignment, and performance. That's sort of the clinical way of saying it. When I get a little more poetic, I like to say that I help organizations build high performance cultures of trust,



where people love to work, and customers will love doing business.



Those are rare birds. And I'm, I'm pretty,



pretty fixed on that word love. Because we spend so much time in our work, more time than we spend with our families with our insurer.






and, you know, human beings were meant for more



were meant to thrive in their work.



In fact Freud said that the two things that are most important for human happiness are love and work.



Well, but not just any kind of work, right?



It's work that really is nurturing, really fuels the things that can make us feel good as a human being. And so



when it really comes down to it, when you think about



your employees, and your customers, really think about it in the context of that word love.



That's what you need to wrap your head around.



One of my colleagues has written a book called Love is Just Damn Good Business. And there's a lot of truth to that. In fact, one of the posters I give to all of my clients, I say that it's a poster,



I think it's called Flying Edna or somebody who does that. But it's just real quirky character. And it says, absolutely everything you do is a chance to give love, start anytime you'd like.



And so I make sure that that's, that's always there. So that's, that's a description of



who I am now, your special sauce question. Yes, sir.






I think about that in two ways. One is sort of what are the things that may be a little distinctive, not unique.



But distinctive, and first of all, is what I told you before.



That was the head of corporate communications for major international food company for about 10 years. So the kinds of things that I talk about, the kinds of things I help organizations deal with, are things that I actually live.



I haven't been a lifelong consultant out there with my consultant degree and end up out there telling people what they ought to do. Not really understanding what they're going through to deal with that.



And then the other thing is that I am the author of numerous articles and professional publications on the topic of communication, engagement, I



can’t even count how many times I've made presentations at conferences around the country, and then the author of the business fable Getting to the Heart of Employee Engagement.



And then the other thing again, am I the only one who has ever written a book and written articles? Hell no. But you know, a little bit distinctive.



And then also, I have a, my Lean, I'm a certified Lean Six Sigma Greenbelt professional



with Six Sigma Global Institute. So again, no, these are things that kind of make me



stand out from the crowd.



Now, for what makes me distinctive about what I do,



I like to say that



I synthesize three things. Now I'm sort of a cross between a love doctor



and an organizational engineer and an occupational therapist, how’s that? Now can you get that picture, Steve? I can get that picture.



Because success with this kind of work really requires what I call the right mindset about human beings and organizations, the right heart set about human beings, organizations, and then the right systems and processes and tools to put those principles and practices into everyday operation.



So it takes all of that in order to avoid getting caught on what I call the program trap, which is just one off activities that are designed to sort of tweak people and you know, the the pizza Fridays and the Employee of the Month Award, worst thing you can possibly do with a team, and all of these kinds of one off activities.



Now, the right mindset and heart set are kind of based in



maybe two main sets of principles.



First one is really understanding what I call the ABCs of what employees want.



A they want to achieve, B they want to belong, C they want to contribute.



And as I said to you at the very beginning, you know, people were meant for more.



They should not be defined by their job description. Is that a responsibility? Sure. But what else can they contribute? Much, much more.



And then the other thing



which is really the subtitle of my book,



and I'm gonna give it to you right now, which is the one thing that I will claim as unique.



Certainly original, and the subtitle is The Power and Purpose of Imagination and Free Will in the Workplace.



So it all came to me kind of when I was thinking about writing this book. And so,



so the way I'm going to describe it is by asking you to complete a phrase for me, okay?






free as a bird. Bird, right, everybody says that, gets that. So what are birds free to do?



Free to fly, free to, free to hunt, free to



procreate, right, free to build their nests, free to do a lot of things. And you you miss one that some people come up with which is free to poop on your car right after you wash it. Oh, yeah.



I have a tree out in front of my house and unfortunately, when you’re parked under it you will get to meet all of our bird friends, right? So here's truth, Steve, birds aren't free to do a doggone thing. Every single thing they do from the minute they start chirping at your window usually too early in the morning to when they go build that nest you were talking about to when they lay eggs and have baby birds and they go get worms and all that kind of stuff.



It's all pre programmed, predetermined they have absolutely no choice in the matter. None whatsoever. Now, human beings have programs too,



mostly for the same



reason, comfort, safety, survival.



But we alone in the entire animal kingdom



have the ability to wake up in the morning to the alarm clock and look at the thing and say, You know what?



I know the early bird gets the worm. But doggone it, I'm going back to bed.



Particularly with the snowstorm that we faced last week, right? When snow storms come it doesn't stop the birds. That's true.



That's really important to understand that we alone have the capacity to choose to bypass our animal programs, we can do that anytime we want.



Now, the other thing,



we alone have the capacity to imagine. It's not our intellect. Sometimes people say the difference is, you know, we’re far more intelligent than animals. I'm not sure that's true.



But we do have one unique ability. And that is the ability to imagine, which I define as, as the capacity to conceive of things that do not exist in the natural world.



To be able to look at nothing and say, Let's build a cathedral and worship God.



To say, look at that moon up there, why don't we go up there, and then use our tools of freewill to be able to choose to do things that make things to fly to the moon and the stars and elsewhere. So



So here's the cool thing. And this is what I came across. Literally, when I was writing my book, it was, like hit me like a thunderbolt that the two things are intrinsically linked.



That imagination without freewill has no power.



And free will, without imagination has no purpose.



Now you nod at that. And you think, Well, that's kind of cool. So what, especially when you're talking about people in the workplace. Well, here's two big so whats.



First of all, to the extent that we keep people trapped in their animal programs, confined and constrained by the things we say you got to do, and don't do ever vary from this.



We keep them trapped in their animal programs, and they cannot excel by definition, you cannot go above and beyond if all you're doing is following your frickin animal program.



So where does innovation fit in? Right? Second thing is adult human beings hate to be told what to do.



Adult human beings, hell, even teenagers, right? Even two year olds, they don't like to be controlled.



And they certainly don't want, they want to make sure that they have some control over what happens to them in their lives. In a lot of organizations, the only control they've had is to stay and do what the boss tells you, or leave and go get a job somewhere else, so somebody else can tell you what to do.



So what I do with my systems, processes and tools as a, as a love doctor, and as an organizational engineer, and as a



occupational therapist is design systems and design all of this stuff in a way that really enables people






to get out of those animal traps. So



yeah, really cool, really special as well. And I think Les as I was listening to you talk, one thing, one thing I will also say is you're incredibly modest. Because when I was doing some research about you,



you are incredibly well written, you've been interviewed far and wide. There is a tremendous amount of your work available out there and people have shared it immensely. So I was, I was interested to have you segue into that free will and imagination because I happened to watch a keynote speech that you delivered regarding that and I just thought that was absolutely brilliant. So it's quite an insight. Well, and you know, the thing that I really want people to, to grasp and to embrace



is that it’s not just a novel insight.



If you really internalize it, and fully grasp the significance of it, you will never again keep people trapped in their animal programs.






just won't.



Now, here's the thing.



Real important to keep this in mind.



Our animal programs are actually the things we're going to default to almost all the time.



That's what we're going to do. Because it's easier, it's routine. It's procedural if we had to rethink everything we had to do every morning, every day. Oh, you know, you have to think, Well, how am I going to brush my teeth today? Or how am I going to take a shower, I'm gonna eat my, my toast or whatever.



And so you really have to come up with new systems and processes to help reshape thinking. I actually have a quote here, I want to read to you. It's from Buckminster Fuller, who was the great philosopher engineer of the 20th century.



And he said, If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don't bother to try and teach them. Instead, give them a new tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking, and doing. And so that's what I'm doing with these systems and processes. What I'm trying to do is to help people get focused on what I call systematic, continuous improvement.



With a big S, because we do continuous improvement sort of sporadically and spontaneously, but systematically is not something we do very well.






and you've heard of the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. Right? Who hasn't?



And do you remember his classic phrase in there?



Well, he's got a lot of them, to which one do you refer? Good is the enemy of great. The enemy of great, right, yeah. Now, let me tell you what I say. Great is the enemy of better.



Because today's great, is tomorrow's everyday standard. And there is no such thing as what I call the Cinderella myth for long term winners, you know, happily ever after ain't gonna happen,



especially today. So you've got to have systematic continuous improvement. And here's why it has to be systematic, because we will default to our animal programs unless we have systems and processes. See, we're caught in our habits, what you need is a habit to break the habit



of doing things over and over again the same way.



If you don't have the habit to break the habit, you will continue doing your old habits.



Because we're given, we're so given to us to the processes and the habits that drive our everyday behavior. So regular huddles, weekly huddles that have three specific things that you do with every team all the time, everybody bringing small ideas, big ideas, everybody involved in, okay, at least once a year, we're all going to sit down and look at every single process not all in one, not one time spread out through the year, we take every single process, strip it down, how can we make it better? How can we make it more efficient? See, the problem is managers believe that all you got to do is have an open door policy. Or tell people hey, we'd love your ideas. What are they going to do? They got work to do. Right?



Now they don’t, let me get the word. Go ahead. I'm sorry, I cut you off. I said, and now they don't even go to the office anymore. So you can keep the door open all you want. But



that’s right. Absolutely. Yeah.



So I've got,



in fact, I got a whole again, like, I know, a dozen different systems, processes and tools, and systems, processes and tools that I bring into the organizations that I work with. And certainly one is having the right kinds of improvement holes. A lot of people have huddles, they're mostly for catchup, how are we doing on this job? What's this, where, what's the status of this thing? They're not about improvements, not about improvements. So when you, when you think about, you know, all the things that you've you've had the honor to work on over the over the many years that you've run your business, is there one thing that pops up that you would be most proud of?



I would say certainly completing that book.



Because truth be told,



if I'd had to choose my career over again, I’d probably be a Hollywood screenwriter.



I love movies, and I love well written movies. I mean, I listen for the words and the dynamics



and in the movies are just really the thing that gets me. So writing that book. And you know what?



Coming up with that original thought about the connection between imagination and freewill, something that really has stayed with me and had an impact on me, and, frankly, a lot of other people. And I remember when I was trying to get this book published by Josie Bass, which was a great big business publishing firm.



And the woman that I was talking with, one of their editors said, you know, this is a great book, I love it. And she said, and she said, I want you to know that I have a philosophy degree from Yale.



And I have never seen that principle, that philosophical principle ever stated before, by anybody, and she said, it’s profound and significant. And she said, and we can't publish your book. What? Why is that? Well, the only books that they'll let me publish any more is you either have to be a superstar, you know, I can get somebody who couldn't write worth a darn, as long as everybody knows who they are. Somebody who’s a proven author and established and all this kind of stuff, which is why I wound up going to Iuniverse, but but in any event.



So those are the, so truly, that's, that's significant. I also am very proud of the work I did at Pet, as the head of corporate communications and lot of the work that I've done with some of my clients. So I can't say that there's any single thing that stood out other than those things kind of all lumped up in in one package. Well, you've got quite a list of clients, too. I mean, I was, I was amazed to look at some of the testimonials and the list of engagements that you've had over the years on your site that that's, that's quite impressive. Yeah, well, thank you. Thank you. Excellent. What, what was, what were some of the big challenges for you, particularly as you're, you know, running your business and engaging in your business? What, what did you see as some of your challenges, even potentially failures that you've experienced over the years? Yeah.



So the early challenge was probably pretty obvious that same thing that every entrepreneur faces, right. I did not leave Pet with a treasure trove of clients just waiting there for me.



Had to, I remember how much money I made the first year, Steve, $14,000.



It's a humbling experience, isn't it? It is a very humbling experience.



And, and I have to tell you, there were more than a few times in the early you know, first couple years, three years maybe



that I almost gave in, especially since I was actually getting a number of very attractive job offers after I left Pet.



And I can tell you right now, my wife wished I had taken some of those job offers. But



But yeah, that was that was the tough part. And then that every time that I was just about ready to go do some interviewing for a job, some big thing will come through and it will carry me through to the next thing and then to the next thing, and in the next thing. And you know what that's like so, so I'd say that was the tough part about I'll just call it the challenging part about the early years.



And I think in the middle years, I would say that was



balance. Very, very hard.



What do you mean by balance, like work life balance? 



That was one aspect of it. Yeah. How do I how do I make sure



that I'm doing everything that I can to



make money for my family, and provide for my family and then at the same time,



really be a good husband and father and be home to do what husbands and fathers do.



And frankly, if there's one thing that I could go back and do over again, that would be, because it just, reflecting back and seeing the kind of stress that it caused in our family relationships,



it just was not good. And and then just looking at it strictly from a business standpoint, the balance was balancing the time that you spend on doing the business versus growing the business.



Man, let me tell you, that, that push me, pull you, kind of tug all the time. It's exhausting.



And probably would have done that differently as well.



Anyway, those are the, those are the main things



that jumped out at me.



Yeah, it's funny when we, when we look back, you know, that's, that is the big thing when you're when you're in it in the moment, right, you think the most important thing is I gotta take care of this thing, whatever this thing is in your business, to the detriment of the rest of your life that's around you. Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, a lot of it is just plain fear. Because you don't, if you don't



do something and shake stuff out of the trees and keep those those clients



happy and and



you don't have anybody that’s giving you a paycheck.



That's for sure. It's all, you carry it around on your shoulders, right? That's right. Yeah. Yeah, it's it was that, you know, you made that you made a key decision, you were you were quite well regarded in your corporate life, you made a key decision to go out on your own. And then you had many opportunities to, to go back, and go back to where you were before? Right. The decision you made was to stay on your own. What, what drove you in that regard?



I was meant for more.



I, you know, that phrase that stayed with me for a long time.



I wanted to blaze a trail and do some things that I was



afraid would be somewhat constrained if I, if I went back to the corporate world, or stayed in the corporate world.



You know, I just wanted to



test my wings, like the little bird flying out of the nest. But in this case, it was my choice, right? Right.



And I imagined what the possibilities would be.



You know, it's it's fascinating. I saw on your website, there was a piece on there about employee engagement. And there was a link to a study that,



you know, talked about the basically the low level of employee engagement, if you will. And and yeah, I think for for folks like you and I, that have been around for a while, I think that's relatively constant. Right. And it's that that old phrase that Emerson talked about, you know, walking around with being quietly desperate on the inside. And you broke free of that mold. Yeah. You went out and you went out and can reach for the stars, because you were meant for more. Right? And yeah, yeah. And you know, what the, really everybody, here's the thing, Steve, this is really important, because everybody feels that way. Everybody, I mean, they want to achieve, belong, contribute, because they were meant for more, right. And if we design organizations right, they can realize those aspirations right within the organization, we have. Regardless of what their job is, right? Regardless of what their job is. I mean, you know, I even have a list, this is kind of funny, I just happen to have that out here.



You know, we tell employees, well, open door policy, you know, take initiative, do it, go on, and so forth. Let me tell you what they say.



No one really cares about my ideas and opinions.



I might get in trouble. It's too hard, wouldn't make much difference. I'm too busy with my work, it's not my job, they just want to cut jobs, I'm not sure what to do. These are all the things that are going on in people's heads when they hear this stuff about open door policy. Because you have to design, redesign the systems and the processes and the tools to really enable people to do that. Not enable them. But to actually make it part of the, of the work they do. You know, I have a couple of client, one client in particular, I loved what he said, we decided we're, we're in the continuous improvement business, we just happen to do this other thing.



But we're in the continuous improvement business. And everybody is a part of that. And we're going to make it a systematized approach to doing that. And and see, here's the thing.



I always get a kick out of people who say,



How do I motivate my people?



First of all, I say, Well, unless unless you've taken in slaves or God has taken you in as a partner, they are not your people.



They're independent, competent, adult human beings who can do a heck of a lot more than you're giving them an opportunity to do.



Secondly, it really doesn't work. You know, there's this thing called self motivation, which you got to do






remove the causes for those thoughts and feelings that I just got done describing.



And people are going to astonish you and put in the systems and processes that make it part of their routine work, to engage in improvement, and you will be astonished at what people will do.



And can do.



I couldn't agree more, I think



it's so rare to see that it is amazing when you do see it. I mean, I, I think about Elon Musk all the time. I mean, you're talking about using that imagination and the freedom to just go out and innovate and make it happen. He's built, he's built three organizations now that are doing exactly that. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You know, there's one other thought I want to share with you, because this is another great book.



It's called Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. Okay.



And in it she has a phrase that needs to be said, over and over again, everywhere it can possibly be heard.



And it goes to the heart of what I was talking about with habits.



She says, Habits are good servants, but terrible masters.



Now think about that.



Habits are good servants. But terrible masters.



We have to have our habits and routines. Like I said, you cannot be reinventing every minute of every day, you’d go nuts.



But when those habits and processes become your master, instead of you becoming the master of the habits and processes, you're stuck, man, you're gonna be stuck in good or less than good forever, you will never get to the point that I said before, great is the enemy of better.



Yeah, it's the old cliche, if you keep doing what you've always done, you're always gonna get what you already got. Right? Yeah.



When you, when you think about, you know, when you think about kind of the arc of your business you had shared with us when you started, you know, some of, some of your challenges and successes, and then kind of in the middle of your business. In the, in the current environment. The current business environment is, in many ways, quite different. And in many ways, quite the, very much the same as it as it always has been. What what do you see is, as the current challenges, and the current opportunities in the in the marketplace today for you guys in particular? Yeah, well,



I'm not sure that, that my situation is typical. I mean, I'm at the, the, I'll call it beyond the peak of my career.



And I don't do nearly as much business



as I used to intentionally. And I don't have kids in college anymore. And,



and so I can kind of go a little bit more at my own pace. And what I have done actually,



it's a little bit ironic that most of my business these days, I'm kind of a communications, a virtual communication director for organizations,



which I really love doing, because that's my bread and butter. And we bring in engagement stuff as well.






and as I'm looking at what I really want to evolve more toward, because I'm never going to retire. I mean that, that’s the surest way to die, right? Yeah. I've heard somebody say that's, you know, that's your kind of a signal to God that it's time to put the pieces back in the box, right? That's right, exactly.



So I can't imagine that I’m ever going to, quote unquote, fully retire. But you know, deep in the heart of me, I think I'm a teacher as much as anything.



And so I'm really thinking about just trying to find a variety of different online ways that I can teach courses or teach,



I'll call them sort of



a little, a little more than a workshop, but a little less than a full blown engagement. But, in fact, I'm starting something right now called Accelerated Corporate Evolution. And it's a two month program



that we're going to be offering virtually online



to work with clients on how to embed



two of the continuous improvement processes that are kind of the pillars of the work that I do. One is the huddles. How do you really have a good



continuous improvement huddle.



And then secondly, is really effective streamlined method for doing business process management. With that, in fact, I call it the demi model.



D-e-m-I, I like to joke, it's not Demi Moore, it's not Demi Lovato. But if that'll help you remember it, then that's it, it's document, execute,



monitor, maintain and improve.



Excellent. So I’ll work with groups over a two month period to do that virtually online.



Sounds wonderful.  How do, how do people learn more about that if they're, if they're interested in learning more about that program? They can go on the website, it actually starts with a free webinar. Okay. And then after they see the webinar, excuse me, they can book a call with me to talk about the two month program. Wow, wonderful.



And then I can send you a link to that to that webinar. Excellent. Or to the registration page, I guess, actually, it starts. I don't know, I got somebody else doing this for me, Steve.



But it starts with a registration page. Sign up there. You set up a time to see the webinar. You see the webinar, then you set up a time to talk so I'll send you the link for all that.



So here you are, 20, 20 plus years in the business and continuing to innovate, gotta, got even a whole new way of delivering wisdom that you bring to the table. Yeah, absolutely. That's awesome. Yeah. That's awesome. Well, listen, I'm gonna, I'm gonna throw you a curveball. I’ve got to ask you one other question that



that that I heard from you that I, that totally fascinates me. You love movies. And you love well written movies, right? Yeah. What's your favorite? And what's your, which, which, which of kind of the current



flock of movies do you feel kind of fits within that whole well written mode? All right, so I actually have, I keep a list here.



I'm not surprised at all. But I can tell you.



It boy, I'll tell you, this is really hard. I'm just gonna have to talk about a few of them, okay? Please do. Because, just enjoy the time. We've got just a few more minutes before I have to go. But what I think is probably my favorite movie of all time is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The arc of that movie.



to the tragic ending that gets relieved by this crescendo that I'm not going to tell you about.



is absolutely magnificent. Yeah. Another one that I don't think got nearly, it did get best movie of the year, but I don't think got nearly the attention it deserved was Shakespeare in Love. Yeah.






starred with Gwyneth Paltrow, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes brother whose name I can never remember.



Just, just brilliant. And then of course there are classics that a lot of people like, The Shawshank Redemption, Braveheart, Gladiator, you know, Life is Beautiful. Life is Beautiful. It's kind of a sad, funny, tragic story. Unbelievable movie. Oh my God.



Certainly, To Kill a Mockingbird if you're looking for classics. Good Will Hunting, one of my favorites.



That Robin Williams did so much, didn’t he?



My God, unbelievable. Something's Gotta Give, Midnight in Paris. I love Woody Allen. That's one of his best of all. Have you seen that one? Yeah. Just, just wonderful. A more recent one, The 100 Foot Journey. I haven’t seen that.



Oh, yeah, you got, you will love that movie. 100 Foot Journey. 100 Foot Journey. 



Let's see.



Oh, Crazy Heart. Did you see that one? Crazy Heart? Crazy Heart. It's with,



I can't believe I can't remember his name.



Bridges. Jeff Bridges. Jeff Bridges. Thank you. Yeah. Yeah, incredible. He won the best, best actor award for that movie. Okay, just, just magnificent.



So there's, there's a few of them. You know what another one is just, just sweet and fun. And it's based on a true story. It's called October sky. Have you seen that? No, but I've heard about that one. Yeah, gotta get that. And then of course, my favorite musical of all time and I'll let you go with this one. Singing in the Rain. Yeah, absolutely. Wonderful movie. I think the best. Probably the best musical ever. Well, you know



West Side Story has got to be up there. Yeah, I was gonna say that was, that was pretty popular too. Yeah. This, hey, listen, this has been incredible, this has been incredible we're gonna have we've got a slide that will pop up here that'll have all of your contact information on it so people can reach out to you, but Les it’s been an honor to have this conversation with you. You do phenomenal work out there.



We will link to your book, fascinating read. This whole concept of



free will and imagination and how you can really honor that and people and set your organization free is is the word you just used. I love the word you just used, to honor that.



You got to honor it and love it. Yeah, if you really, if you put that deep inside of you,



you can't help but do the right thing with people and get the most people are capable and willing to contribute.



And, and you know, we got to let them play right? We got to let them let them fail every now and then, skin their knees and. Oh my God, I gotta give you one more thing, I gotta give you one more thing,



you treat mistakes and failures as treasures.



And there's some organization, I can't remember what it is. But they literally have a quarterly fail fest where they get a trophy for the best failure of the quarter.



Where they learn where they failed the worst and learned the most. They get a trophy for it.



A traveling trophy. I think that's awesome. This is not my idea, but I heard somebody say and I think it was somebody from Silicon Valley that said, you know, the United States is the only place in the world where failure is celebrated. And that's what makes us unique and different and better than any other place on earth where people are, you know, risking their whole lives to get. And I think that captures it very, very well. Well, thanks, Steve. I really appreciate it. By the way. I just love the way you're running e4e, you're doing a superb job. I hope it's working out for you too. Yeah, thanks. It's a lot of fun. I enjoy it. I think, you know, it's a community of givers. And it's



what enriches my life is to hang around with people like that and see the amazing things that they do. So thank you very much for



your continued participation in that group. And then for playing with us today. This was awesome. I really enjoyed it. Good, me too, Steve, thanks. All right, let's make it a great afternoon and we'll talk soon take care. Bye bye. Thank you for listening to the You Don't Know What You Don't Know podcast. We invite you to visit and sign up to receive updates on upcoming episodes. You can also let us know if you'd like to be a guest or recommend a business owner to be interviewed. Find us on LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube where you can like, follow, share and join our efforts. Thanks for listening. We hope you'll join us again.