Podcast: Should You Leave Your Job?

Is the grass really greener on the other side of the fence or do you need to find out what’s really making you unhappy in your workplace? The CEO and President of PIN Business Network weigh in on leaving jobs and why PIN is such a great place to work.

Podcast Part 1
Podcast Part 2

Announcer: Coming to you from the DTC in Denver, Colorado. This is PIN Business with Laura Cromwell.

Laura: Hey, it’s Laura Cromwell from PIN Business Network. Live from Denver, Colorado.

Joe: You’re good, keep going this is good. Raw.

Laura: Oh, we’re talking about how people like coming back here or try to come back here after leaving, discovering that the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. It’s either turf or a dirt pile.

Joe: And turf hurts, you’ve ever fallen on turf? Oh, my goodness.

Laura: Ouch. So.

Joe: Yes.

Laura: Well, so does the sting of the real-world realities. So that stings as well. So you guys want to tell me about, why should no one leave here?

Joe: Nobody should ever leave here. I think that-.

Laura: What’s so great about PIN that people should stay?

Joe: What’s so great about why people should stay? See, that was a long pause on purpose.

Laura: Now, I’ll tell you, I came here and on a leap of faith, really. I spent five years at the same company and-

Joe: Can we say, what company that is?

Laura: Cabela’s.

Joe: Cabela’s. Yeah, it was a great company.

Laura: So things just started changing and I knew that it was just not going to be the company that I started with. But after five years and a lot of experience and a comfortable time there, and when it was time to leave, I mean, it was hard. I didn’t even know if I should leave. I didn’t know if I should just wait till I got fired or dragged out the door with a severance package. But then I decided, well, you know, when your boss comes to you and says, hey, here are some job openings that I think you’d be really good at. That’s how you know, it really is.

Joe: It’s time.

Laura: Time to go. 

Joe: I don’t think we’ve never done that anyone here so, yet.

Laura: “This job at the children’s hospital, would be great for you!”

Keith: I think you just answered your own question. Why don’t I sound like I’m echoing?

Joe: Push it closer. Let’s have a podcast about how to do a podcast. Okay. So just so you know, we’re having a little bit of difficulties here, but we’re fixing it.

Keith: Yeah. So I think you answered your own question, right?

Laura: Yeah.

Keith: I spent twelve years at my first job before I ever left. And I left on my own accord, not because I was forced out, although I think had I stayed much longer, I probably would have been because of the trajectory of the company. But I think you have to take control of your own professional destiny. So in your example, you own your professional destiny, which is important. But I think when you are looking for jobs and I was told multiple times in that first company that the way you get the raise you’re looking for, the way you get the position that you’re looking for is go from one company to the next company. And that affords you the ability to ask for something that, you know, maybe is outside of the pale of where you’re currently at. But I think if what you’re doing is, you know, getting that hopping from job to job to get that promotion or that raise, another thing you’re never going to, you’re going to limit potentially your ability to to more deeply understand where you’re at, what’s causing your company to be successful, or maybe some of the pain points that your company is enduring that allows you the opportunity to solve problems. And so if what you’re doing is you’re looking for a job because you come in one day and you’re unhappy, I think you’re going to perpetually be unhappy because companies are made up of people. Wasn’t that something they used to say and like an election? Was that the 2012 election?

Joe: Yeah, I think so.

Keith: Corporations are people and people got really angry because they’re not OK.

Laura: Yeah ask the people that used to work for Enron.

Keith: Yeah, well, companies are made up of people. Right. So because we’re a people, you’re going to come in and sometimes you’re in a good mood. Sometimes you’re and you’re not. So the company culture is made up of the mood and the mindset of the people who are here. So if your idea is you should always be able to come into the office and everything should be sunshine and roses and unicorns and rainbows, right. Well, that doesn’t exist. Utopia doesn’t exist. So if you’re looking for a job because there is an opportunity for you to learn something new, right. Then take the job. But if what you’re doing is you’re assigning your life’s happiness to the place that you work. Right. You’re going to just perpetually be angry. Right. Because you’re never going to wake up. You’re just not going to wake up every day and be happy. So you have to be able to work someplace that’s fulfilling for some other reason. Right. So I joke. And you said at the very beginning, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side because outside of my window there was a green field and then it turned dead and then they removed the field. And now it’s a dirt pile because they’re building something.

Joe: It’s a sandcastle actually.

Keith: But I will have conversations with people and make sure that, you know, if you if you’re leaving because there’s an opportunity professionally, then go do it. But if you’re leaving because you’re unhappy or you’re not quite sure or you think some other job is gonna make you happier, I’m going to challenge that assertion because if you’re unhappy here you’re gonna be unhappy there.

Joe: I don’t think anybody could be unhappy here if they’re just if they focus on what they’re doing and doing and working towards the greater good of the team. But this is a really intense place. There’s a lot of things that change all at the same time, the intensity and the intent of how we actually deliver things for clients. I think that the one thing that we say here collectively is if the client doesn’t eat, if our partners don’t eat, we don’t eat. Right. And that’s a real thing for us. And so but people constantly will create their happiness in their workplace. And this is just a place to have experience. That’s just a place that you get to be challenged on a daily basis and you’re surrounded by really smart people. So if you can handle the really smart people and not be intimidated by that and always have that vision to kind of grow and win, then this is great. But this is a great place for it. But if you’re you know or not, if you don’t challenge the status quo, if you don’t apply yourself and try to innovate, to help us grow as a company and become better then you just don’t fit for us. And sooner or later, you either figure out you don’t fit or we self-select or we ask you to, you know, to leave.

Laura: Yeah. So have either of you ever regretted leaving a job?

Joe: No.

Keith: No, I think, no.

Laura: I can say that for myself as well, because each time I did leave a job, I did feel like I mean, I was missing a part of myself. I mean, when I left NRA, I cried for like a week.

Joe: Terrorist.

Laura: I’m a domestic terrorist according to San Francisco and that makes me so happy.

Joe: Oh, boy.

Laura: Yeah, I got to put that on my resume.

Joe: So disclaimer, we do believe in-

Keith: Freedom of speech and freedom of association.

Joe: But isn’t that great here, though, because there are no political fights. Did you notice that? I mean, there are people that literally have different opinions that range from far left and to far-right. I don’t want to say, far-right. We don’t have anybody here. I don’t think it’s far, far right. The way that it’s described in the media, anyway. But people that are right-leaning or conservative, that we definitely have people here and there’s no ridicule. There’s no judgment. And to have this many people inside the company and have the mutual respect that is created and that exists, I think is pretty amazing. It is a testament to our culture as a company.

Laura: And, again, when I left Cabela’s it’s not the way I wanted to leave. And I did feel very sad, but also very excited to come here because I recall distinctly during my interview you came in through the door and was like, “Is this the girl from the NRA?”

Joe: I did actually say that. “Tell me about yourself!”

Laura: I called home, I was like, “Mom, they’re excited that I actually worked at the NRA!” Because when I was out looking for jobs at the time, nobody wanted anyone, the sentiment of the gun culture was very negative at the time because Florida had just, Marjorie Stoneman had just happened and all this legislature was happening. So I know my resume got put in the trash by a lot of people except you guys.

Joe: No, but I think, so that’s a testament to just who we are as a company. You’re right. We have a tendency to accept people where they are, not where we maybe we want them to be individually as far as our thought process. And as a result, people feel comfortable here. There’s no judgment. Nobody walks around out there. And again, this is where we start saying the grass is not greener anywhere else because politics play a part in how people get positions. And we freely want people to embrace the idea they’re part of something bigger. And I think that helps us to establish more trust with the people that are here. They feel like they can walk into the CEO’s office. They feel like they can walk into the President’s office. And, you know, we embrace everyone individually and even in the interview process. You know, we’ve had some people that ended up on the team that most people would say, well, I can’t believe they worked there or we just don’t have that mentality here holistically.

Keith: Yeah. Yeah. You asked the question, “Did you ever regret leaving a job?” And I said no, sometimes I was happy to leave it. But I think that the common thread between the places I was a little bit more excited isn’t the right word, but a little bit more excited to leave those environments because they were overtly political. And I’m not talking about left/right politics. I’m talking about.

Laura: Personal politics.

Keith: Bureaucracy, red tape, making sure that you know, this is my position. People walking around and introducing themselves, comma, MBA, I don’t care. That’s awesome. But you know, you can’t have this job because you don’t have this credential or you have to serve this much time and then using, you know, either tenure or that that education, that credentialing system as a way to stifle ideas. And I just I don’t thrive in those environments. And so I didn’t really last long in the places where that was the actual culture. But it’s hard to see that. So I think maybe leaving a job for the wrong reasons. I’ve done that before. But I think then you quickly realize that oh, that that was something maybe I pretended that wasn’t actually the issue. And then you have to basically resolve yourself to fix the problem. So I tell people whenever they walk in the door here, but this is a very unique place to work because, you know, right from the very beginning, you become effectively an owner from the very beginning. You have a stake in the future of the company. And it’s not for somebody else. It’s for yourself. And a lot of people will.

Joe: Well, you have to be here six months.

Keith: Well, yes.

Joe: Yeah. So.

Laura: Passed that landmark!

Keith: When you when you’re sitting there. That sounds great. The challenge is actually stepping up and owning that piece. And that’s actually the part where most people that I interview, that’s what I’m trying to figure out, whether or not that is. You’re nodding your head because you’re in an interview and this would be great to have a job or if that’s really something that you’re wanting for yourself as a professional. And so, again, when people tell me, hey, I’ve got this opportunity, people have come out, I’ve got this opportunity, they offered me this job. Right. So if you’ll match the salary, I’ll stay. Well, number one I’m not going to match the salary because I’m not going to do counteroffers with you, because if you went through the process of multiple interviews, accepting an offer and then using it as a bargaining chip, you’re going to come back to the table with that bargaining chip again and again and again. So we’ll just call your bluff right now. Right. It was awesome to work with you and I wish you the best. And that’s where you were kind of reference to get the beginning where people call us back. Love to come back and work for you.

Joe: Yeah, that’s just happened.

Keith: The bargaining chip has been spent. Right. And it’s not because there’s some sort of vindictive nature. Right. It’s largely because the company has moved. It’s moved forward. And the thing that you remember as an ex-employee here actually no longer exists because we have sort of coalesce around that hole, for lack of a better way to say it. And then we’ve moved forward. All right. It’s the business J curve. So that position doesn’t get replaced with the same skillset. It gets morphed and then it grows. Right. So people are looking for an opportunity to come back to something that actually doesn’t exist anymore.

Joe: Yeah, we, it’s really interesting. I mean, you’re in the middle of it, right? You go to visit with the different departments and-.

Laura: All day.

Joe: And I’ve seen a lot of companies, you know, obviously we have some big clients. And I don’t think that the culture or the identity that we have as a company exists out there. And I mean, Keith, Friday, Thursday, I got a call from an employee that had left and she had been here, what, a year and a half year?

Keith: Yeah.

Joe: And she came into our office and she was crying like, “I have to make this decision.” I happened to walk in on it. And I was like, wait, what? What just happened here? “HR someone is crying!”.

Keith: I mean, it’s a day that ends in “Y”.

Joe: As I you know, I sat with this particular employee and listened. And I just said, “Look, I think you could you can miss an opportunity looking for one.” And one of the benefits of what we have as a company is that this is a pretty large family. Right. We protect each other as a company. And even when you come in day one, we want what is best for you. But over time, what has happened is the people that have left, having conversations with the people that are here are saying, hey, I left because I wanted to make an extra two thousand dollars or three thousand dollars or five thousand dollars. And, you know, we pay pretty well, really well. But they left and they went to an environment where it’s like dropping yourself in the middle of a shark tank or dropping yourself in the middle of an environment that’s toxic, that makes you wake up every day thinking about or having to make a decision. Do I want to go to work today or do I not want to work today? And I think in large part, we rally around each other and it’s not like it’s always great. It’s not. There’s a lot of adversity that pops up. And, you know, we’re in a changing world where technology can change so fast that it can push us into a place where we could fail for a client literally overnight. But I think we learn to appreciate the fact that nobody places blame on another person. And even if you fall down or fail forward, we’re picking you back up and saying, OK, look, this is just, you know, shake it off. We’ll get back on the track and we’ll figure out another way to solve this problem.

Laura: So as an employee, like you said, the middle of it, am I happy all day, every day, maybe not. But I’m happy. I’m content.

Joe: You’re never content. “Content” is the wrong word for you, I would not call you content. You’re always pushing.

Laura: Pushing, yeah I’m a very impatient person. It’s in my nature.

Joe: Join the team of lots of impatient people.

Laura: We’re what happens when a bunch of impatient people gets together.

Joe: Success!

Laura: But if I’m unhappy, I articulate it to my manager or whatever partner I’m working with. If I’m unhappy about something I don’t want to stew on it. And instead of looking outside, the grass is greener. Well, maybe you should start watering your own.

Joe: Yeah. That’s a good way to put it.

Laura: And take care of your own lawn. And then you, we will be happy and you will get over that hurdle because like, any relationship, it takes work.

Joe: Yeah. It does.

Laura: Jobs, and you know, employees. It is a relationship just like any other partnership you will ever have in your life.

Joe: But I think our tenure, if we look at as a company, I know that we’re kind of veering off and not talking about holistically what, the grass is always greener on the other side. But I think as a group, people stick around. They’re just here a long time. I mean, for the company being seven years old and more than what, more than 50 percent have been here over three years?

Keith: Probably. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, employees one through seven are still here.

Joe: Yeah. All seven of them.

Laura: So as I sip on a beer and this podcast room, what our other employee retention ideas, besides, having a beer fridge, that you think are useful in this day and age?

Keith: Benefits is a huge deal. So people thinking about salary, they don’t think about the hidden benefits that exist, right? So making sure that that portfolio continues to expand and the utilization continues to expand, the services that we provide are there. I think we have you know, we have interesting ideas and philosophies around vacation and remote work and connectivity. I think when I observe the employees right at the people that work here, I mean, people, they play games. I mean, I know that there are multiple kickball leagues and volleyball leagues and people go golfing and they play on football teams. So there’s a lot of camaraderie. There’s a lot of common interests, which I think we also cultivate. So if somebody is I think it’s very rare that somebody is working here and they’re not connected to at least one other employee with some sort of common interest outside of the office. So, I mean, a couple of weeks ago, guys were getting ready to order pizza because they were gonna stay late and play a card game. So we bought ’em pizza. And then they stayed and played the card game. Illegal card game, yes. Not like gambling.

Joe: No, we gamble. We rolled dice. What is? I don’t remember what was, Magic The Gathering?

Keith: I didn’t want to throw you under the bus, because [Josh is] talking in my ear, I’m going to throw you under the bus. So anyways, buy a pizza. Right. So then they spend the evening doing, you know, just hanging out and kind of building a relationship so that when they need something at work professionally, you know, that you have people that you can trust. So I think those are the types of things that you look at them as sort of extracurricular activities because they’re not core to the function of servicing clients or building data. But if you don’t have those relationships, then when something goes wrong, you don’t have the people that you can count on to help fill in whatever gaps need to be filled in. So I’m a big proponent of making sure that people here are creating personal relationships with other people that are here, not the not breaking the relationship policy, but creating personal relationships where they know that they can count on the people that they work with.

Joe: Yeah. What he said. I think the open door policy is probably the biggest. I really do.

Keith: Yeah, but most people that come through the open door in my office leave crying.

Joe: No. Come on now.

Laura: I have yet to leave. Crying from your office.

Joe: Let’s try it!

Keith: Every time Josh comes into my office, he’s always in tears as he leaves. Here’s Kleenex for you.

Joe: Aw, dude, Josh that’s not, look, oh, you gotta, stop we’re not even in your office.

Keith: See? 

Laura: Trail of Tears over here.

Joe: An open-door policy allows for a whole lot more innovation to the “fail forward” effect that comes from that. Like, “Hey, Joe, I have this great idea,” or “Hey, Keith, I have this great idea.” It’s I think one of the issues with companies is they never, you know, don’t mess with what works. Right. So they’ll ride, you know, negative regression on revenue on a product that they’re out there selling and make a name names. But there’s a lot of ones that one of them that are selling solutions that just don’t work. Right. And so part of that comes with the idea that your job is to do this. We don’t have jobs here. We don’t. We have opportunities. And I often say with the difference between an opportunity and a job is what an opportunity can survive adversity and a job can’t. And that’s why people look for the greener grass near the other side, because there is no opportunity. Well, here. There is no ceiling above your head. There’s nothing you can’t accomplish. There’s nothing you can’t take control of. There’s nothing you can’t say, “Hey, look, I really want to have this special product and I want to get it across the finish line.” You can rally people around you. People are excited about change. They’re excited about doing something new that could lead to a positive result for one of our clients. And I think that passion and the fact that you can walk through my door, you can walk through Keith’s door and say, “I want to do this.” I mean, I think that’s a powerful, a powerful thing inside of an organization.

Laura: I sent you a Slack yesterday of rewriting the words “Santa Baby” to apply to a client.

Joe: We’ve got to use that.

Laura: This is the first and only company where you, the CEO, have directly asked me to work on a particular client project that I knew I would be good at and excited about. And I was just totally floored. And like, even just now, I’m still like people actually asking me for things. And, you know, there’s no chain of command. You’re just going straight to me and saying, “Hey, do you want to do this? Because I know you can.”

Joe: And I think that is the, I don’t know-

Laura: That’s the differentiator between any other company.

Joe: It’s fun. But I mean, sometimes I wear people out and we wear people out because we’re like, hey, let’s try this and they’re like, “Aw, shit. I haven’t finished this yet.” Right. So we do squirrel a little bit. But I think that squirreling is you know, when I was younger, I always saw that young people, kids, had the ability to solve complex problems of really simple solutions. And as you get older, you find ways to make your life a whole lot more complicated by not seeing through the obstacle as something you could either walk around or go over or go under as if it’s fixed. So it stops you from progress. And as a company and as individuals, we have a way of saying that’s not a problem. Right. We get around that. No problem. And people go, how are you gonna get around that? I’m gonna walk around it and see how that works. I gonna burn it down, no. So that allows for people to be energized every day because the surprises always lead to something better for us as a company.

Laura: Yeah, absolutely. So just to dovetail a little bit. So we’re facing a recession right now.

Joe: I don’t think that.

Laura: Allegedly in a recession.

Joe: Oh boy, better look at my stocks. Nope, still good.

Laura: Buy McDonald’s. But, you know, we want to start thinking about, OK, now’s not the time to upset any apple carts or, you know, do anything crazy, especially not leave your job. Or if you do, you go somewhere that’s, quote, “safe”. But how from your guy’s perspective, you know, hunkering down when the market’s slow.

Keith: No such thing. No such thing. You are either in control of your own destiny or you’re outsourcing that to someone else who does not have your interests at heart. Look, no job is sacrosanct, right? There is no such thing as a job that will, is guaranteed to be recession-proof. The only thing that is guaranteed to be recession-proof is your desire to be recession-proof. That’s it. So the idea that there’s some nefarious force that is controlling what you do. I just have a hard time buying it. Maybe because I’m obstinate, my wife would tell you that I’m obstinate and maybe I just need somebody to, like, poke at. I need some sort of authority figure to poke at. But I refuse to be the victim in my own mind and cede control over what I’m trying to accomplish for myself and my family to anybody else. Not a chance. So if you think there’s going to be a recession. Great, right? If you think that’s the reason why you should stay in a job, I would tell you to re-evaluate why you’re in the job. If you think that leaving a job to go to a more recession-proof job is the thing that you want to do, I would tell you to re-evaluate why you want that job. Because I said earlier, if you’re going to do the job for the wrong reasons, you’re going to hate the same things about that job that you didn’t like about the one you’re currently in. So either you’re happy as an individual and you will find a way to be happy in your job or you’re miserable as a human being you’ll be miserable everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you go. So I don’t buy the theory that because a recession may come, because it may come at any time, who cares? Right. Big deal. Because successful people don’t allow outside influences to make them not successful. Full stop.

Joe: What’s the worst that could happen if there’s a recession? I mean, this is a real question, right? Because I adhere to a theory if you’re an A player, right. If you’re I’d say this in student language to a student, B student, C, student. If you’re an A student or a B student or an A employee or B employee, C employee is right next to you in a business has any sort of attraction based upon economic condition. Who goes first?

Laura: C.

Joe: C, obviously, right. Who goes next?

Laura: B.

Joe: So who should you always be?

Laura: A.

Joe: Always. And if you’re an employee, everyone will want you. I don’t care if the world burns to the ground, they’re going to want to surround themselves with A people. Now, we’ve taken that philosophy to a whole different level, you know, personality tests that we do and they come in multiple interviews. We elongate the process so we hire slowly, fire fast if there are major issues within the organization. But we take the idea that we want all A employees. We want all A-caliber people. And we miss sometimes. But we never miss to the C. We may miss to a B, but we don’t miss to a C. And that way we can do the same thing when we’re talking about clients. And if a client goes through some sort of negative regression, who are they going to want next to him? An A company that actually represents them on the data and marketing side or a C company they don’t want a B company. A B company can’t survive in that particular environment because they have to reduce the amount they spend in marketplace in order to create a result. So for us, we just maintain the A. We maintain the A on our side so that we’re never afraid of what happens in the marketplace. So if the world burns down, we may contract a little bit in our growth, but we’re not going to contract in the ability to go out in the marketplace and be bullish about what we can accomplish for any industry out there. So I think that that’s that philosophy, again, has to and has to be ingrained in you. And if you walk out and talk to your peers, they probably say, “Hey, we’re awesome!” We heard this morning, right. Evan saying, “Oh, my goodness. I actually interviewed all these other companies and they’re total crap.” And then there’s us. All right. And I don’t mean that the companies don’t have a value in market. It’s just that we’re we can do so much more than most companies. All companies in the marketplace. It just creates a different world, a different class.

Laura: Yeah. And I mean, when people ask me about what I do and I get, “You do all that? “Well yeah, why not? So know just being able to show people like we’re different and we’re fun and yeah. It can get crazy in here. But it’s a good kind of crazy. It’s like it’s our crazy. It’s our crazy. Yeah. Birthday shots. Yeah. We have a gong every time one of the sales team members makes a sale or closes. It’s just different.

Joe: And I think that it contributes to the overall, you know, just people miss each other. Right. I mean it’s a different environment. I’m not at work. I’m always like, I wonder what they’re doing. I have traveled to three days a comeback. I’m like “Hey, how’s everybody going?” “We didn’t know you were gone, thought you were in your office.” Keith, “Like Joe’s back, aw shit.” 

Laura: Everyone behave! So advice for people who just aren’t sure if they should stay or they should go to wrap this up. I mean, what would do.

Joe: Here or just anywhere?

Laura: Anywhere?

Joe: Keith has a different story, but the same. So actually, I could probably say “the” and he would say “you” and I would say “half” and he would say “two.”

Laura: Both of you can answer, it’s ok.

Joe: We have a similar philosophy on this. Quite similar. But I’ll start it and then I’ll let him finish it because I know he feels the same way, but I don’t think a job completes a person. I think a person completes a job. Right. It completes what you do on a daily basis. But the character who you are, how you interact with people, all that becomes individualistic to just enjoying where you are. Just enjoying life where you are. The bad stuff is going to happen. Good stuff is going to happen. Things that you don’t expect are going to happen. Things that you do expect are going to happen. But if you can just concentrate on being present by being present with who you are. It doesn’t matter what you go through. It’s just another experience, something to add to the list of things that you go through on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. As long as the environment is good where you are, unless you’re in A player and you happen to do what we do, then we just love for you to come here because the grass is definitely greener here. But other than that, I think that there’s, you’re not improving your position by thinking that you’re smarter than the people around you. You’re not improving your position by thinking that somewhere along the line you’re going to get another perk or another benefit or move paid a couple dollars probably to look internally to what kind of person you are. But, you know, I like to just enjoy people who I’m around. Right. And as a result of it, I don’t ever go home thinking to myself, oh, this is absolutely terrible. And we haven’t had great, we’ve had bad days, bad conversations. And I still every day go home thinking to myself, oh, that was fun. I use the word fun to describe it, even though it might not have been fun to have to go through certain events during the course of the day.

Keith: I would say have a goal. Have a goal. A job is not, a job is not the answer. In my experience, it’s not the answer. What you’re looking for are experiences. So when you go, when people walk in here, I tell them this isn’t a job. Your responsibility here is to experience what’s going on and then become a better professional, become a better person because you’re going through those or you’re going through that activity. If what you’re doing is coming from someplace to go to another job to get two thousand dollars more. I can promise you you will. It’s not going to pay off the way you want it to, leave taxes aside, but it’s not going to pay off the way you want it to. When people come here or if people if somebody walked in my office and said they were thinking about leaving, the first question I would ask is, what is the thing that you believe you are going to experience here that’s going to make you a better professional? Why do you apply for this job? I don’t like that. Where do you see yourself in five years? I hate that question. I ask what I ask them is why are you interested in this position? Right. Because if you’ve been doing something for so long and then you’re just looking for the same thing, but maybe it pays you a little bit more, I can promise you that I’ll find somebody who is better at doing the thing that you think you’re good at doing, and I’ll find them cheaper because there are there’s always somebody right there. What’s the adage? There’s always something that’s willing to work a little bit harder. Somebody that gets up a little bit earlier, somebody who does one more rep, somebody does one more lap. Right. So if you’re ever if what you’re doing is saying to yourself, “I have arrived” and you have to hire me because I’m the person, right, then the chances of me hiring you are pretty slim. Right. Because at that point in time, you’re walled off to things that you haven’t experienced because you know everything. So when people are telling me here, “Hey, I’m leaving and I’m gonna go to this place because, you know, because they’ll pay me more, will you match it?” No, I’ve already talked about that. But if they said, “I’m going to this other job and I ask, what are you going to be doing that other job?” And then they tell me it’s this. Then my response every time that has happened is, “Is that what you or where you see your career progressing? Is that going to fill that that knowledge, hole, gap for you to get you to that ultimate goal that you have as a professional?” And if the answer is “No,” what on earth are you doing? So, again, my I don’t think I would have said when I first met Joe, however many years ago, I don’t think I would have sat there and said to him that my goal was to be the President of this company. I don’t think I ever said that.

Joe: It was my goal.

Keith: Right. But I saw that there was something here that I could do. And there was a petri dish of ideas that I thought I could bring something to. And that was what was interesting. There was nothing other, no other validation that I needed other than this place was a place that was thirsty for ideas. And I had ideas. And some of the ideas I had he liked and some of them he thought were crazy. But because I was willing to tell him the crazy ideas, he was, “All right. This an interesting play.” But my goal was never to be the President of the company. Right. I don’t think I could articulate anymore what my goal was outside of like maybe getting out of the place I was, which would contradict everything I’ve just said. But the point is, is when I was having a conversation with him, we didn’t start with, “I need a new job.” Right? It was, “What is it about where I’m currently at that’s not fulfilling and why is it not capable of being fulfilling?” Because he wasn’t just going to sit there and say, yeah, I’ll hire you because I’ll let you leave this job without thinking through and come here, because then I would’ve done the same thing. Right. And at this point in time, you know, me leaving here is not, I don’t think it’s even an option. I think that would be quite possibly the dumbest thing that I could do. Not because I have to be here, but because in 20 years of 15, 17, 18 years of experience, this is the first place I’ve ever encountered where you can be wrong. You can say the dumbest thing on earth and you and everyone will look at you and say, “That was dumb,” and then that’s it. 

Laura: You’re not going to get fired.

Keith: Right. There’s just a freedom to being able to to be a part of that. And I had a conversation the other day where I said to somebody who may be listening right now, “You have all these great ideas. Just go do them. What are you waiting for me to give you permission for? Just go do it.” And I don’t think you will find that mentality in very many other places, because I’ve hadn’t seen it before. And people that come here and stay. I think that’s the reason why they stay, is they recognize that this thing that they found is pretty unique. It’s pretty special.

Laura: And you even because I came for actually, I applied for a completely different role. And then in my second interview, you said, “You’re overqualified for this.” And I was just like, “OK, well, I guess that’s the end of that.” And then you said, “We’re gonna hybridize a role for you.” I thought, “Oh, you like me, you really like me!”

Keith: It was something about machine guns and helicopters.

Laura: I gave you all the full Laura Experience because at that point I was like, “You know what? I’m just gonna be myself and, you know, I got nothing to lose at this point.”

Joe: Well, the other side of what Keith is saying is that people want to be here as well, because I don’t know how many times a week somebody calls me and says, this just happened, by the way, I literally just got a text message that says. “Let me know if you think I’d be a good fit for one of your companies.” They asked me a question last week, “Joe, how are you doing?” I go, “I’m doing great. I always get a lot of stuff going on. It’s kind of crazy. And, you know, some of it’s a little you know, it’s a lot to deal with. It keeps me up at night sometimes. But I’m doing amazing. How are you doing?” And then I’ll go in and talk about the things that are happening in the company. Someone may be good, so maybe bad, not bad, but challenging. And everyone has always said it just sounds amazing. I’m like, “OK, well, I don’t know.” I don’t what I said that sounded so amazing. But they’ll say something sounds amazing. And I’ll go back and say, “Look, we have our problems just like everybody else. It’s just how we handle it and how we perceive it, how we perceive things that happen on a daily basis. It’s just different.” So I think a lot of what happens here at the company is what it is being able to look at you and say, “Yes, you can do more than that job.” Right. So we need to build something that is much more that’s bigger. That is you thinking completely outside the box about what you can accomplish. And we do that for every position in the company. And then when somebody leaves, Keith just said that we find a way to say, hey, how do we make that position even more powerful inside the organization? And then we bring something like, hey, we’re thinking about this. And they go, “Oh, that sounds fun,” right? or “Oh, crap. I don’t want it.” That’s right. “That’s a lot!” “Yeah, that’s a lot, are you in?” And so that type of challenge that we put in front of people and that we allow people to grow within is just created this immensely powerful culture that frankly is infectious. Right. It affects our clients. And then our clients love coming in here and they’re, “No, no we’ll meet you at your office.” I’m like, “Oh, that’s great.” And they get here and I’m like, “You want a beer? How about a whiskey? You want a whiskey? Oh, you don’t drink? That’s OK. Look, I’ll drink two for you? Do you want a water?” Ok, I might not do that. Yeah. Yeah, we’ll do that. Yeah.

Laura: So yeah, have you ever had anyone turn down your challenges?

Keith: Yes.

Joe: Which time?

Laura: The most memorable one.

Joe: Oh, my gosh.

Laura: Or recent.

Keith: So I would say most people that I have ever given a challenge to, they don’t overtly come out and say, “I’m not going to do that.” I don’t think anybody, maybe they do. I don’t think anybody that I have interacted with has ever said to me, you know, in response, “I’m not going to do that.” I think what I have observed is I believe, you said it right. You came in for an interview and I said to you, “You’re overqualified for this job.” You took that as “They’re not going to hire me.” Well, what I was actually trying to do is figure out how to create a role that was commensurate to what I think you’re capable of doing. So extrapolating that out to where we are today, I don’t think the vast majority of the employees that are here realize what they’re actually capable of. And so when I give somebody a challenge-

Joe: That’s a perfect way to put it.

Keith: It’s you can’t see it or maybe you’re not capable of seeing it or maybe you don’t believe it. But I do. And so what I’m going to put in front of you is an opportunity to recognize and realize that you are actually capable of doing that because you won’t realize it until you actually do it. So I coach kids, I have 40 eight and nine-year-olds, 40 of them, they’re between eight and nine years old. They don’t know what they’re capable of doing. Right. So then I show them and then as they start to practice. So this happened a couple of days ago. As they start to practice it, once they get it right the first time, then all they want to do is to show me that they’re capable of doing that. And they’re like “Look at I got it. I’m doing it right. I’m doing it right!” I knew you could do that. All you needed was a space where you felt comfortable enough that you could fail. While I was watching to the point where you’re not going to fail. So I offer people challenges all the time and I will not tell you how to get there. Because then what you’re doing is you’re following a roadmap that I wrote as opposed to your own. So in that sense, yes, people have not risen to challenges, not because they overtly say no, but because maybe there’s just a piece of them that they don’t believe in themselves the same way I believe in them. So out on the floor, out it out there, I believe that there is a capability level that every one of our employees has that I see them capable of. And I’m not sure everyone believes the same thing about themselves that I believe in you guys. So just using you as an example. Right. I think you’re capable of more than you give yourself credit for. So I’ll continue to provide you with opportunities. Right. And some of them you take in, some of them you don’t. Right. So you’re even an example of somebody who has told me “No,” but you don’t tell me, “No.” Yeah, right. You just sometimes you do it and sometimes you don’t. That’s OK, because I still think there is a bigger role for you that you can’t see. I’ve told him what I think it is. Right. I’ve given you bits and pieces of it, but I think you’re capable of doing much more than you actually realized. And the guy that’s sitting on the other side of the glass doing the same thing is true for him, too. Yeah. Why?

Joe: Why glass between us? Josh is producing and go, another podcast. There is another part that we’re not really, what reason why people don’t do it, right? Is that some of the things that we’ve built in this company based on math, people don’t believe it’s possible to happen. Right. They just don’t believe it, like. Yeah, right. We can’t do that. They’ve set limitations. And the more time you’re here, the more you figure out that there is no limitation. All right. And then fear of loss, like fear of failure stops people from doing things. And now I become a whole lot more vocal about people telling me they’re not going to do something. And I go back to when I go, “You see that wasn’t a request. I’m telling you, you’re gonna do that.” And they go, “Well, where do I start?” And I go, “You put the first foot out, your second foot out. You keep walking towards your desk and then you actually get that stuff. And then you go over here and you put it on a whiteboard. You try to dream a little dream of how you can actually execute on that.” Because I believe that one percent of the world knows how to implement. One percent of the world is in a position to implement. And if there’s anything that anyone takes from here and decides to go to the dirt pile or the sandcastle across the street, I want them to take with them, because I want to take with them that anything’s possible. Right. And that there is no, you shouldn’t have any fear. You should just understand that there are consequences and just make sure they’re not deadly. If they can’t eat you or take away your birthday, you should be able to push yourself to accomplish anything. Anything is possible.

Laura: All right.

Joe: Dun-dun-dun! Anything is possible!

Laura: Yeah, because I went to a small women’s college and they pushed us on us was the “impossible is just another problem to solve.” So, to that point, I think we can wrap things up. And for all-

Joe: You’re wrapping it up with, you went to a women’s college? You should probably plug ’em here.

Laura: Sweet Briar College!

Joe: Sweet Briar, there you go.

Laura: Accepting applications for class of-

Joe: Oh, boy.

Laura: Oh, the best four years of my life. And, you know, for women’s college, it’s also a small environment. I went to school with 700 women. If that, at the time, was probably 600. But they tried to shut us down and we said, “Hell, no, you won’t.” And we actually took it all the way up to the Virginia Supreme Court and we got lawyers involved. And it was-.

Keith: I remember that.

Laura: We, we fixed it.

Keith: I remember that.

Laura: We said, “Hell no.” We got the southern fighting spirit, you know. It’s not going to happen. So we fixed it and it’s thriving now. And actually, Sonny Perdue, the Department of Agriculture, is on their way over there now to look at the new greenhouse that they built because they’re starting a winery on the grounds.

Keith: I remember when that was happening, now that you say it, I didn’t know that’s where you went.

Laura: We fixed it.

Keith: Yeah, ’cause clearly, I read it on your resume.

Laura: For all you listeners out there who are curious about the job openings at PIN Business Network, please visit us online at PIN Business Network dot com and see what’s out there. We’d love to have you come in.

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