Ep. 87 - GiANT's Jeremie Kubicek


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Jeff Robbins interviews Jeremie Kubicek, CEO of GiANT, a leadership consulting and training company. Jeremie is also the author of several books including Five Voices: How to Communicate Effectively with Everyone You Lead, and a popular book called The 100X Leader. Jeremie has a SaaS platform which they’ve launched called Giant TV, which is described as Netflix meets Peloton for adult learning. Jeremie and Jeff dig deep into culture, communication and trust building in this interview.

Here’s the transcript:

JEFF: Hi Jeremie. Welcome to the Yonder podcast.

JEREMIE KUBICEK: Jeff, so good to be with you. I love that name by the way.

JEFF: Yonder?

JEREMIE: Yeah. Yonder. [laughing]

JEFF: You know, the problem with these things is when you get too literal at something you get boxed in, right? We call it remote work podcast and then three years later everybody decides, “no, no, no, we’re not calling it remote work anymore.” You’re kind of stuck in that. So, it’s always good to kind of go a little oblique with things. It’s a lesson I’ve learned in naming all sorts of things [laughing] over time.

JEREMIE: Makes complete sense. Absolutely.

JEFF: Well, thanks for coming on. (3:27) First of all the question I ask everyone, where are you talking to us from today?

JEREMIE: I’m in Oklahoma City. We have our giant studios here in Oklahoma City but that’s about the only thing. Everything else that we do is remote and virtual.

JEFF: I like Oklahoma City. It’s one of those undergo cities you don’t think too much about and then you go there and it’s just really nice. Great place.

JEREMIE: It’s a feisty city and I like it because I lived in London and I lived in Atlanta for a number of years, almost a decade, and I lived in Russia, Moscow. So, I’ve lived in lots of places. I’m from Oklahoma City and so we moved back here, and the only reason I moved back here is because of the number of pioneers that are here, and the entrepreneurial Ferber that’s here, it’s completely different than I found in Atlanta or London. So, I’m like, “you know what, yeah.” It’s an entrepreneurial city. It’s not the most beautiful city, it’s not like Rhode Island or London or other places for sure, but it definitely has its perks in other areas.

JEFF: (4:37) So you are the CEO of a company called Giant. Tell us about Giant and you and your background.

JEREMIE: Our business is basically focused on people intelligence. We help people maximize their team performance by making people more intelligent around personality, around emotional intelligence, around skills that give them a competitive advantage. And we find that most of that leader development historically has not been scalable, has not been agile, it’s not been really nimble enough. So, we figured out a way to package it and help people learn how to multiple it without having to go to conferences and read millions of books, and so on and so forth. So, my background was, in this business, I’ve been doing this about 20 years. I used to run one of the largest leadership brands. I used to own, with John Maxwell’s assets, we had partnerships with lots of different thought leaders, I built a brand called Leader Cast, which is one of the largest leadership events, simulcasted events, and then we had another brand called Catalyst that was an under 40 leader events, two day, three day conferences with 10, 12, 15,000 people. Those types of 20th century learnings, if you will. It was about 2008 or 2009 I started after the 2008/2009 crisis, I basically started reevaluating how people learn and how adults learn, and I think from the crisis it really spun a new vigor for what is the 21st century of leadership development and learning look like, and that’s what we’ve been focused on.

JEFF: Yeah, and your team is distributed. So, the Giant team.

JEREMIE: That’s right our team is Slackville. That’s where we all live. So, we live in Slackville. We are in London, in Naples, Florida, in Lexington, Kentucky and Albuquerque, New Mexico, Oklahoma City and Atlanta, as our main people.

JEFF: Well I love having people on to talk about culture for a couple of reasons. The saying that I’ve had is that, in a remote work environment culture is your office. There is no physical office to go in and give you that warm feeling of connecting [laughing] with other people and so you need to be much more proactive. You need to be much more intentional about connecting which ultimately creates the culture for a company. (7:39) Talk to me about your experience with culture in your own distributed team, but sort of where that goes.

JEREMIE: I like to think of culture as culture is atmosphere. The problem with culture is sometimes it’s like leadership, it’s too vague, and it just has all of these different meanings. So, for me, I think of the greenhouse to go, look culture’s atmosphere so if you’re present in a greenhouse then you can control that culture, if you will. Now to your point of being distributed, like we are, therefore culture is atmosphere, how then does leaders define the culture. So, I define the culture of our team dynamics, and I have people to help me so I’m an executive team. I actually have a COO named Rich, and he is a different style, and so we use what we call The Five Voices, which is young anthropology that we systematized and made it way more simple. So, Myers Briggs comes from this and so forth, but it’s too complicated so no one ever remembers it, or it doesn’t scale because you have to have these professionals to come in and help you. So, we created the five voices, so I know I’m a connector creative and my COO he’s a pioneer guardian. So that language doesn’t mean anything to anyone listening right now, but it makes a massive difference when you understand the dynamics of your key players inside your culture and what are the expectations, what are the goals, what are we trying to accomplish. So, we’ve just been playing with this for a long time and really, really been working on culture, and the rhythm of culture and when do we meet face to face and how much do we need. Those types of things. We’ve been systemizing good culture in a distributed fashion.

JEFF: Wow. I have so many questions. (9:48) So, by defining how people are, their personality type, you also start to define their communication style, ultimately things like their loves languages. How they connect. What they need to connect. Talk to me about what that means, again, particularly in an environment. Because there’s a lot of people who need to connect by sitting in the same room together. By looking in peoples eyes, sort of a more kinesthetic type way of connecting and learning that doesn’t quite work so well when your company is online or there’s [laughing] a pandemic going on and your companies online, whether you like it or not.

JEREMIE: So, the beauty is if you know someone and really know their wiring, and the way I describe wiring, it’s this nature/nurture choice. So, the nature is what were you born. I’m an extroverted feeler. My nurture though is I was brought up by an introverted thinker. So, my Dad and I worked on a farm in a tractor cab with no radio. So, I had an upbringing of extraversion in an introverted world. So, I learned how to adapt. Most of us have learned how to adapt really, really well. The problem is, we’re confused if we never studied ourselves. We end up playing someone on TV that we’re really not. So, the one thing that’s really important is helping people find out who they really, really were at 16 years old, and then what layers got covered on top of that personality over time, and who you’ve adapted to become, and are you comfortable with that or not. So, in our world, with our own team members, we do a lot of deep dives and we know each other really well, and because we use the Five Voices, we understand predicted leadership behavior. So, we can predict the behavior based on stress. So, on moderate stress and extreme stress, we know the tendencies of each other, and we give each other space and time to talk about it. So, we have these sessions that we do. We use agile as our system for two week sprints and getting work done, so we’re highly productive. But we also have these moments and these check-ins and these one to ones and other things that go into highly present. So, the idea is how do you stay present and productive. If you’re overly productive and under present then you’re not going to form communication and relational trust. If you don’t have relational trust it’s almost impossible to be a distributed team. That’s fully engaged. You can get people who are compliant but not engaged. So, we have an engaged team, so we have this language that says, “look, we’re going to fight for the highest possible good of each other,” and that’s the mentality of anyone who works on our team. We have a metaphor because I write books, so we have these books. The 100X Leader is the latest one and we use the metaphor, the Sherpa on Mt. Everest. The Sherpa is the best leader because they have to climb, and they have to help climbers. They have to perform and help performers. So, therefore, as the leaders to find the culture then Rich and myself and our Exec team, we are the Sherpa to the rest of our people. Meaning that it’s not about us getting to the top so we can take our picture at the peak, it’s literally going, “how can I help you get to the next level?” “What level do we need you to be on and how do I help you?” “What support do you need and what challenge do you need to get there?” Does that make sense?

JEFF: Yeah, absolutely. There are a number of tools that have been created over time for people to identify themselves and their styles, their communication styles, their thinking styles over time and I like them. There’s been some criticism of them over time. Things like Myer Briggs, as a hiring tool and how that can sort of limit diversity in a company or start to define people in [laughing] ways that they don’t want to be defined. I like this idea of, not empowering people, but I oftentimes feel like people have shame about what they might see as their shortcomings without recognizing their strengths, and ultimately one of the things I say as a leader is like, “you need to repeat yourself often and in different ways.” If you send something out as an email, you probably also need to get on a phone call and say it again, and if you could get on video, if you could tell it to people in person, people learn in different ways, people communicate in different ways and you need to be empathetic to that. But I like this idea of getting even more granular about it and people saying, “hey, I need to get on the phone with you, because that’s how I communicate best.”

JEREMIE: And if you know someone and they know that you know them, then they know that you’re for them. And I think that’s the key. I think about every one of us wants to work with a team or people that you like, and how do you like someone? Well, a lot of leaders think, Well I can’t get close to people or Because I need them to stay productive. Well that maybe will get us compliance. So, what does productivity mean? It means when they become fully alive. So, helping people find out who they really, really are. And that’s just what we do as a business. We always say, “you can’t get what you don’t possess.” So, at the core of our business we have to live it, we have to live what we sell, and we sell people intelligence, so we spend a lot of time working on our own people intelligence. How do we eliminate gossip. We try not to have gossip, so we really focus on that. How do we deal with stress behavior? For instance, we have something we call weapons and we can share with people what the weapon of every personality is, and so a pioneer is someone who is, when and all stakes, they’ve got to win, they’re like a general, military strategist. They’re 7% of the population. That would be in the Myers Brigg land at ENTJ and INTJ, those types of things. But the weapon of a pioneer is a grenade launcher and we can share and show when people use that. When do pioneers tend, what’s the trigger that causes them to pull the trigger, and it’s really, really fun because people now start getting in you, oh my goodness. But the reality is we say, “look, I’m all the voices. I’m all the personalities. I’m adaptable. I’ve played a pioneer most of my life but I’m really not one, I’m really a connector and creative pioneer.” So when you understand those dynamics like that, inside a team culture, it gives you a lot more latitude to be able to have influence because if I don’t know people and I’m trying to lead them, then I might expect the worst in them, or I might create a narrative over somebody because they’re not doing a certain this or that, well, when I’m not around you I don’t see you. So, therefore, these narratives pop in my mind as the leader. But if I know, for instance, Oh, no, no, no, they’re a guardian, they understand guardian work, love it, a guardians detailed, very formulaic, let him go.

JEFF: (18:19) Another thing about these definitions is there’s a certain vulnerability to it, right? I’ve got my own quirks too. Here’s my stuff, let me lay it out on the table. Let’s figure out your stuff, let’s lay it all out on the table, and that builds a certain amount of trust right?

JEREMIE: Absolutely, and that trust is, again, vulnerability is, we have a little tool called, know yourself, lead yourself, and it’s an infinity loop and at the bottom it has tendencies and tendencies slide over to patterns, and then actions, and at the very top there’s consequences that shape your reality. So, what we’ve done is we built self-awareness into a visual tool and we encourage our employees and our clients to create tendency logs. Well I’ve got 28 tendencies that I’ve logged in myself. So, I’m just going to be vulnerable and I’ll share one of them as an example. And by doing this what I’m doing is trying to go, “look, leaders define a culture, I’m going to screw up, you’re going to screw up, it’s okay, but let’s at least be aware of our tendencies, and if we can know ourselves and lead ourselves that’s the game.” Because when you lead yourself you don’t need to be lead by other people. I think that’s the real secret to distributive work, is, you need unbelievably self-aware people for it to be very, very successful, because if you have people who are needy, who are constantly flailing in the water, or they’re on a mountain and they need the Sherpa to always come down and get them, it’s not going to work very well long-term. So, for me, the “know yourself to lead yourself,” one of my examples is I have a tendency to exaggerate, and I’ll always have that tendency to exaggerate, that’s in me. Well, is that a weakness, or is that just a tendency? It’s a tendency, but when do I do it? That’s the secret. And I do it when I’m trying to win an argument. I’ve learned that about myself in the last two years and I’m always 50. And I’m just now learning it, and I showed my wife and she’s like, “yeah, I’ve know that. I’ve known that for a very long time.” So, I’m just now becoming aware of my tendency to exaggerate. So, my wife and I built, as a hobby, this modern farmhouse development in Oklahoma. It’s called the Prairie at Post, and it’s really, really, really neat. Well, we had this builder who wasn’t following the rules, so there’s only five builders out of 20 houses. So, I went to Larry, and I was mad at Larry, I said, “come on Larry, you know,” and I almost said, “Larry we’ve had eight builders who have all followed the rules”, that was my exaggeration, and I caught myself, I lead myself going, He knows there’s not eight builders. He knows there’s only five. Historically I would’ve said there’s eight builders and then Larry would’ve thought, There’s not eight builders, and then we would be on a side argument about how many builders there actually was and he would not have complied with the actual issue that I had. And so, I caught myself and go, “there’s five other builders who have had this very issue and they’ve all complied. You need to get onboard.” And he did, and I didn’t have to have the side conversation. But sometimes I try to prove myself.

My point, if you’re a listener in this, all of us have tendencies. We all have tendencies to fly off the handle, be impatient. We have positive tendencies, we have negative tendencies, but most people aren’t aware of their tendencies, and so, the definition of insanity, they do the same things over and over expecting different results, when they’ve never figured out, Oh, my goodness. I’m limiting my influence. So, as a team we just said, “hey guys, we’re going to work on our tendency logs. We’re going to be aware of them ourselves to try and self-lead,” and if you, for instance, Jeff were my team and you saw me being willing to realize, yeah I do that, yep that’s a tendency, and here’s when I tend to do it, and I share that with you, then you might be more open to work on yourself as well.

JEFF: And it’s all about learning, right, advancing and opening yourself up to learning. You talk about needy people but it’s okay to be needy, it’s okay to need, it’s just you need to learn [laughing]. I think it’s important for a company to have a culture of teaching and learning. For my company Lullabot we actually started as a training company and that culture got engrained in us without quite realizing it, [laughing] that even as we advanced into being more of a consulting company and a development company, we still had this culture of what do you need to know, how do you need to know it. And people speaking up when they didn’t know things, because they knew that other people around them would help them to advance. (23:50) But it’s that point where people aren’t [laughing] taking in that information, they’re not opening up for that information, that things that really frustrating.

JEREMIE: Exactly, and that is the consistent intentional leadership that needs to be there. So, what we’ve done is we’ve created a system of our calls and our calls, when we get together in our meetings, we do looking back, looking up and looking forward. We go backwards over the last two weeks, “Hey, let’s look back. What’s happened? What’s good? Let’s celebrate.” And we have a system called a “communication code” and the communication code that we use has been really helpful and myself and another business partner, Steve Cochran, we created this, and we could actually create most of our content based on pain and issues that we’ve incurred. We’re like, “oh my gosh we keep doing that. How do we solve that?” And what happened is Steve is a pioneer, he has a tendency to critique, and I’m a connector, I want to celebrate. So therefore, I bring this big, such and such I’m working on, and I bring this little fire of excitement and Steve takes water and throws it on the fire. [laughing] So, that’s historically how we actually create all of our content. It’s been brilliant. We’ve had a great partnership in that. But the idea of the communication code is there’s five words, there’s care, celebrate, clarify, collaborate, and critique. And it’s really, really important in a team dynamic especially if you’re distributed, if you’re working remote, all those things. To learn how, what does care look like to a person and how much care, based on a personality. You have some personalities that are like cactus, they don’t need a lot of care. Just put them out there, don’t water them, they’re good. You have Ficus trees over here who need a lot of care, and so care is an important element, and people need to know that you’re for them. But then there’s some personalities that need more celebration than others, that’s why it’s important, it’s mainly between the thinkers and the feelers on the team, and if you understand what celebration looks like, that doesn’t mean a ticker tape parade for a full day, it could just mean, “hey Jeff, let’s just pause for a second guys, just celebrate. Did you see what Jeff just did. That’s awesome.” And everyone piles on, ok, great, two minutes, five minutes.

JEFF: Yeah, it’s easy for a company, especially start uppy, where you are really focused on goals, to miss the milestones along the way.

JEREMIE: That’s right. So, you use this language as a code and so when we start the conversation we go, “okay guys, do a communication code,” and sometimes it’s lead by the person, “guys I’m gonna share some things, I really need you to clarify before critique. Then let’s collaborate a little bit and then we’ll see if there’s critiques even needed, because I’m not in there yet. Or there’s times when I’ll go, “hey, I want your full critique.” On the flipside, you don’t have to say it long-term if you have intuition and you start learning, he’s a connector, celebrate a little bit. Or they’re a nurturer, make sure that they feel the care. Or if they’re a pioneer, don’t celebrate too much, go right to critique. [laughing] So, it depends on who you’re talking with, but that language has been so helpful to build really strong trust. So, after we do our meetings, we do looking back, then we go through our sprint review, and we use Trello and we use Airtable, Miro and all these great tools, but as we go through them and share them then Rich, our CO will go, “alright guys, let’s do a communication code. What do we have?” And then people will pile on and they’ll be like, “hey, Bronson I just want to celebrate you man. Dude, without you, we would never have gotten this far this fast.” That’s it. Or, “can I have the clarifying question, when you do this are you saying this?” And having those rules for everyone, it eliminates the chance for drama to come into the team. So, that’s been a really key part for us as we’ve been working remotely and virtually for so long.

JEFF: (28:18) I’m curious to talk about drama. You also talked about gossip and stress. There tends to be less, at least I’ve observed, and it seems to be a side effect of the things that need to happen around remote work, but there’s not office politics in the same way. But there still can be gossipy, those things that bubble up a little bit. Talk to me about those dysfunctions and how to avoid them.

JEREMIE: A couple of personalities are more prone to gossip than others. We have just found that. A guardian doesn’t really gossip, they just say it. [laughing] So, my wife doesn’t gossip about people, she just comes straight out, she’s a guardian, and she’ll say, “this isn’t right. Here’s what I see.” And so, you know exactly where you’re at with certain personalities. Certain personalities will have a tendency, we call it cyber warfare. They’ll use a little cyber warfare. So, we have a tool. We have about 60 tools by the way, that we use as part of our product for clients, Google, US Air Force, Biagen, those kinds of companies, we’ll use our language, big and small companies, but we also use it for our team, and one of them is called “Go to the Source”, really simple. Go to the Source is, “you know what? I’ve got an issue with Dan,” and I come to you, you’re the third-party, Dan is the second party, I’m the first party, and I come to you, “Jeff, you know, I don’t know, does Dan, I don’t know he just frustrates me. Have you ever experienced that?” And I’m fishing in the gossip world and I want you to partner with me to advocate, to make me feel better that Dan’s a jerk and I’m amazing. And so, I then go to you for this and what that does is that begins to erode, it becomes a cancer or a toxin in the cultural system of a team. So, your job, if that happens, your job is to be a firewall. This is a simple language, the fire is starting to spread, you go, “um, you know, um, it sounds like you got a personal thing with Dan. Have you gone to the source?” And it reminds me, Oh yeah, I’ve got to go to the source.

JEFF: (30:56) Source, meaning Dan?

JEREMIE: Being Dan. Yup. “No, um, okay, yeah, okay, I got it.” And all of a sudden it becomes pure accountability just because you can even say, “hey you remember I’m the firewall, go to Dan.” So, then that language shuts it down immediately, and what we found is objective, common language is a key for success of teams, because healthy communication is, if we all know the same language, we all have a tool. So, you say I’m a firewall go to the source, I remember the tool, “yeah, yeah, yeah, okay. I got it.” I go and have a conversation with Dan, “you know what, Dans actually not a jerk. I forgot he’s a guardian and I’m a connector, and he’s my nemesis voice. Got it. Okay.” And it gives a chance for that relationship. But if you go, “yeah, he kind of does that to me sometimes too,” you just opened the door for the fire to spread and then I’ll come to you again and again and again, because you’re not advocate with me against Dan.

JEFF: In short-term great feeling, “oh, I’ve got someone who understands me,” because gossip is just fear, right? It’s paranoia tinged fear. I think that I don’t know if I trust this person and their rubbing me the wrong way, and to have someone say, “I totally understand you,” feels great, but not as great as ameliorating the fear altogether, right? And reminding yourself that Dan’s actually not so bad. His intentions aren’t bad, and if you dig in deeper with some dee question, what did you actually mean, it’s not so malevolent as you’ve made it up in your mind.

JEREMIE: That’s right. And that narrative, the narrative that we put over people, happens usually because of missed expectations, and we just find that expectations are this key. So, if I have an expectation of Dan to do a certain thing or to appreciate something that I’ve done, So, it’s really been important. So, all of these dynamics are in place, and an example, I’m a connector, everything is personal. So, historically, that’s a tendency. So, if I have an idea I put that idea right over my heart. I go to Dan, “what do you think about my idea” he might critique it or shoot holes to my idea thinking he’s helping and then all of a sudden blood starts running down, because I put that right over my body right? And he’s like, “why didn’t you put it there? Why didn’t you put it out to the side?” And what happens then is that narrative I go, “I can’t trust Dan. He’s not for me.” He doesn’t like my idea. He doesn’t like me. Okay, so while that’s not true but that’s how I played it. Well, if I’m a feeler, I’m going to do that. If he’s a thinker he’s not even clued into that. So, he’s going “what? That’s silly. He just asked my opinion and I gave him my opinion.” So, those are these dynamics that are at play inside relationships, inside teams. And over time we found that the pressure of the client, the pressure of the work, and usually the leaders were wanting to be overly productive, they sweep that kind of stuff under the rug, and over time it will implode a team. When it didn’t need to be that way. In fact, you create the common language, you create the visual tools that all the team starts utilizing, and by doing that, that makes people more intelligent and when they’re more intelligent themselves, around emotional intelligence or their own personality, or they’re gaining skills to deal with gossip and narratives and communication, all of a sudden that’s a competitive advantage, because your team isn’t suffering the fooled errands of most other teams.

JEFF: And you become invisible in a sense because a lot of those tools that your customers, clients, whoever, outside your company you’re working with, might use to divide you, to manipulate you. That stuff sounds intentional. This is sort of unintentional. This is the way that humans behave with each other, doesn’t happen. Just something as simple as if someone wants to hire someone away from your company, it’s hard to compete with that culture that you’ve created and also maybe a culture of openness where this person would come to you and say, “hey, I just got a job offer from one of our clients. Let’s talk about this,” rather than the more stereotypical kind of thing where these things happen in secret, and in the background, and with a certain amount of shame and often come out in sometimes angry ways, but oftentimes sort of shame based kind of ways.

JEREMIE: That’s right. So, if you’re this leader who is leading a team, a team is like a flight well, and to get this team to perform at the highest level, you have to start with communication and relationship. That’s where relationship trust is built. Then you get alignment. Let’s get everyone on the same page, then execution, now let’s make it happen, then you’ll find that you have capacity. Your capacity of your team will handle more because you have more trust with each other. If you skip communication and relationship and don’t value those things, if you don’t value personality, if you don’t value the nuances of understanding your team and they don’t think that you really, really know them, but you then force them, “let’s get on the same page. Come on. Let’s just get it done. Dag gone it.” All of a sudden that will create compliance.

JEFF: “I don’t want to hear about the difficulties. I don’t wanna hear about the problems you’re having. Let’s just all get together and make this thing happen.”

JEREMIE: Just get it done. I lived in Russia for two years in the early nineties, and I watched 70 years of domination and you know what it lead to? It lead to abdication. It lead to compliance, just do enough to not get killed. Just do enough to not get sent to the gulag, but I’m not fully engaged at all.

JEFF: (37:25) So, that’s how you keep your sense of self, right, is to not quite go all in? Don’t be vulnerable. Just do what’s needed. Don’t show too much emotion, kind of get through, get by.

JEREMIE: That’s right. And that’s what leaders who are so fixated on productivity, and by the way I love to be productive. We are very, very productive. But we’re so productive out of relationship that people give way more than they would’ve ever given, because they’re vested, they’re excited, they’re bought in. I have to literally work with our team on the weekends. Like, “guys, why don’t you just not work. Take some time off. You’re good.” “No, I love it, this is awesome. No, I’m fired up too. Relax.” It’s the opposite of what other teams have experienced. So, there is a secret to it, but as you know Jeff, it takes a lot of work to set this up for your teams to be able to thrive, and it takes consistency of you as a leader. We have one type of leader called a protector. They’re like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They bring lots of rah rah and then they can come in and micromanage, and that ying and yang coming back and forth can create a lot of drama with people. So, it’s just knowing yourself, to be able to lead yourself and becoming a consistent leader. I’m not a perfect leader at all, but we have tools that allow me to be way better because I’m following these tools.

JEFF: Well, I think perfect is dangerous. There’s no room for culpability, vulnerability, change, error. All of this stuff. Going back to Dan, right? When you go to Dan, Dan needs to be open to say, “oh, I’m really sorry you didn’t understand what I was saying. I made mistakes. I must’ve not explained myself well enough to you.” Like, there needs to be a certain amount of empathy there if Dan doesn’t take any, “well, it’s your problem for now,” well that doesn’t go very far. (39:46) You talk about relational trust. We talk about trust a lot on this podcast but define relational trust for me.

JEREMIE: Well, I trust an uncle of mine. Do I like him? He’s different, you know what I mean. So, trust, relational trust is likeability and it’s a different level. We’ve been working as a team on SaaS business model for the last two years and we’re growing a ton and our product works, the content works, but our team really, really likes each other. Well that is so fun because we can’t wait to hang, we can’t wait to talk. It’s almost like a joke, because our spouses are going, “really, you’re talking to Bronson again or Mike again or Rich or Tracy?” And I’m like, “yeah, we’re just jamming right now,” and so, the point though is that relational trust means that you’d want to go hang out for a barbecue or you’d want to go places. That’s a deeper level. That doesn’t mean you have to be best friends with everyone, don’t hear that if you’re listening, or you’re inviting people all the time to come hang with you, but the point would be, do you like them enough that you want to devote that amount of time? And, is your mission strong enough? So relational trust means you know the communication styles, you can predict leadership behavior in other people, and you can give grace to them and you can also challenge them. We found in relational trust, if Mike knows that I’m for him, he does, he’ll let me challenge him and push him to the highest levels. Well, the verb we use is “liberate”. So, if you think of Mt. Everest, if I’m a Sherpa to Mike, “Mike you should be at Camp 4 for sure. That’s the level we need you at.” So, I’m giving him enough support, “what do you need to do your job”, he’s our Chief Revenue Officer, and then I’m going to challenge him, “now Mike you told me you’re going to do this. Where you at? What’s going on? What do you need? Are you afraid? Are you excited? What’s happening?” And we talk about those things openly. So that relational trust though means that he so knows that I’m for him that we can have really hard conversations without there being retribution and that’s a key component of relational trust.

JEFF: Yeah, it’s more of a two-way street when we think about it compared to trust which tends to be, I can trust a newscaster, but it’s not really a relationship.

JEREMIE: Well Jeff, it’s really influence. It’s not positional power, and I think that’s a 21st century, especially in this remote setting that everyone has been experiencing lately, it’s “yeah, I can force you to do something because I have a higher salary than yours,” but that goes back to compliance. But relational trust is like influence. I can maximize my influence or I can minimize it, and my reputation is built on a thousand small things that I do, and so, if I want to grow my influence with people, then I’m getting to know them, I’m understanding them, I’m calling them up, not calling them out, and that’s something that we talk about a lot. Like, “hey Mike, I’m calling you up dude. This is who you are, come on man, I believe in you. Let’s do this.” Well that’s a calling up. I don’t have to do that very often. But when I do, people know that I mean it and I’m for them and I want to support and help them there. But I try not to call people out, “dog gone it, seriously, again,” that demeaning domination leads to fear and manipulation. It can motivate people for like a week maybe, but over the long-term if that’s my strategy, than that’s the Soviet Union strategy.

JEFF: We’re stereotyping of course. (44:01) Talk to me about stress. So, we’re recording this at the end of April, beginning of May, and we are locked down here in the United States, it is not only a stressful time in general, but a lot of people are working remotely. Talk to me about stress and should we just suck it up, [laughing] or do we just blow off at our clients? What’s the best way to deal with it because it sounds like those things are not great?

JEREMIE: Well I think you have two parts of stress; you have moderate stress and you have an extreme stress. So, what is moderate stress? Most of us we’re in this storm, okay. So, when the storm came in general, we’re sent home, we’re locked down, we’re having to adjust. So, say in March everyone was having to adjust and adapt to the whole idea. So, it’s not just your own stress, but it’s managing the stress of your kids. I had two college students who came home, my high schooler and my college students, I have three kids, I have two graduates who aren’t graduating. That’s stressful. I’m having to manage their stress and then I have my wife’s stress and my stress. So, that’s the combination of this storm. It’s a storm. While all of us are in it, but then if you have a company or a business that you’re running, it’s a storm within the storm. So, if you have a restaurant and all of a sudden not only are you in the storm of the Coronavirus, COVID, but you’re now the storm on your hands with your team because you have to manage and you only have 30 days cashflow, maybe. So , therefore, what does that look like? So that becomes extreme stress. So, what we’ve done on Giant, it’s giant.tv and what we’ve done is, once you understand yourself and know yourself, we show you in video form and in all types of illustrations, we show you what extreme stress will do, and what your tendencies are. So, if you know for instance, for me, I have a tendency to get hyper focused and start creating ideas in moderate stress. In extreme stress I will pull away and watch movies and just completely crash. Well, that’s only happened maybe once or twice in my life, extreme, extreme stress. Most of the moderate stress, I get a lot done and I’m overly focused on ideas of how to get out of certain things. Well that happened. I experienced that. So, it’s important to understand how extreme stress will take you out. Some personality, and it’s based on personality types and we see it over and over again, the pioneer versus the guardian versus the nurturer or connector or a creative, they will do things differently. So, if you know your kids. If you know your spouse. If you know your team, you can help them because you can predict their leadership behavior. So, then you can help them respond to certain things. You can help cut things off. You can help distract. You can help them, “I know where you’re at.” I know what my son will do, he’s a guardian pioneer. I know what my daughter whose a creative will do. I know what my other daughter whose a nurturer will do. So those are the combinations, so it’s really important to just understand the dynamics of it. And then when you track your tendencies know when it happens, and change your actions, that’s when you begin to lead yourself. Most people just accidently run into this and they throw all kinds of fits, and cause all types of drama, and there’s ramifications of that in relationships, in families and in teams.

JEFF: Absolutely. That stuff you brush it under the rug for awhile and eventually it explodes and giant rug bits all over the place. (48:23) I want to zoom out a little bit. I think a lot of the stuff that we’ve been talking about here, pretty much all the stuff, falls under the emotional intelligence umbrella. You talk about people intelligence with emotional intelligence being part of that. (48:45 What else do we need to know as leaders under this heading?

JEREMIE: We would say it’s personality and emotional intelligence, it’s skills. So, if you could put it altogether which is where a lot of leadership IQ comes together. Like actual know how of how to do it. So, one of the keys would be for instance, right now in this season, assessing the damage that has happened. I call this the tsunami. The season that we’re in, if you ever studied tsunami’s and I have been, tsunamis are not just one wave, it’s not a tidal wave, they call it the tsunami wave train, and it’s actually 3, 5, 7, 10 waves that come in. Some of them hit five minutes after one another. Some of them hit an hour after one another. So, we’ve already experienced a three wave tsunami. COVID, the shelter in place ramifications, and layoffs. I’m predicting another wave of layoffs, probably in May. If there’s no vaccine there could be another wave, that would be a five wave tsunami, then there could be another resurgence followed by probably adapted shelter in place financial ramifications followed by another. So, there could be an eight wave tsunami over an eight or nine month period. So, if you understand that dynamic, how then do you adapt to that as a leader, as a team? What needs to happen? So right now, here in bed, I’m doing a whole series and show on assessing the damage and preparing your team to restart. So, what has to take place in the midst of that? And so, those are skills. This is a skills intelligence, if you will. “Okay, I see the damage. I see where my team is. I understand the psyche of my customer. What’s the battle plan that we have right now?” So, we created a battle plan for Giant, it was a survive and thrive. Survive was contingency planning and stabilization, and then thriving was response and building. What can be build during this time? What do we respond during this time? So, that’s an example of a skill that a leader will think versus if you’ve ever seen Saving Private Ryan or some of those war shows where you get a leader and then all of a sudden, there’s the good leader and there’s the bad leaders, and the bad leader kind of cowers under pressure and they just kind of check out, and the idea would be, the skill of a leader is to assess the damage, to start getting the team, gathering them back, “okay, guys,” establishing short-term goals. What needs to happen between now and September? What needs to happen between now and the end of the year? Let’s now worry about their five year, 10 year vision, let’s just assess where we’re at and what can we do? What can we control in the midst of the uncontrollable?

JEFF: From my business coaching clients, I remind them that it’s okay just to get by. [laughing] That’s step one. Let’s worry about keeping the company alive through this whole thing because that’s the main thing. There are opportunities but if we’re still worrying about survival, don’t worry about the opportunities yet. But there are opportunities and kind of once you can acknowledge and ultimately, sort of as you’re saying, come up with a plan [laughing] for survival, because it may not just happen on its own these days. I’ll give you a hint as existing remote working companies we have a bit of competitive advantage at this point.

JEREMIE: Absolutely. Oh, my goodness. We are getting so many people. We created a remote “boot camp” if you will, how to do team developments, one of these things that I’m telling you about, and we put it out there, and we’ve offered it, but we have so many people who are looking for advice on these things. And if you’re listening you go, “yeah, we’ve been doing this for years. Oh, my goodness why is it just now vogue or it’s okay,” but the new norm will change the dynamic of work. You probably talked all through that in other episodes, but the new working world will be different because of this.

JEFF: Certainly. I think that there will be a little bit of a backlash. I think that there will be and there are companies that have just done this whole remote work thing without any plan, without any adjustment of their culture, they may have an alpha culture that doesn’t translate very well to remote working, and people may feel disconnected and it may not be working, so in a few months when they go back to the office they say, “let’s never do that again.” But I think that there will also be a lot of people who are saying, “oh wow, I’m way more productive. We’re being much more vulnerable with each other. I feel more connected. I feel like I actually understand my team better now that the communication is more of a level playing field, it’s not based on where your desk is within the office.”

JEREMIE: Here’s my percentage, this is just a hunch. Fifteen percent (15%) of companies will work differently. Now if you extrapolate that out with how many millions, that may be way too high, but the only rationale I have is the number of clients that have told us that. So, if you’re in the commercial real estate world, that’s going to be a different dynamic, because you may, depending on the property have a harder time. We have two clients who are pulling out of cities and going into a hub and spoke model working out of their home, and they’re giving up the fixed overhead, because of this experience. And it’s been extremely positive. And I think that’s the other thing, we have this thing called a “peace index” Jeff, and we kind of do an index form of where’s your piece at right now? And we found the overwhelming majority, it’s been about 70% of the people. have been more peaceful in the midst of this. Now, those are some people who haven’t lost jobs and their spouse hasn’t lost a job, and so forth. But, they’ve enjoyed this. So, there’s been some positive obviously. But I think to your point, a lot of people are experimenting with remote. This is one big experiment. And a lot of them are coming out of it going, “that’s what I want to do forever.” So, I think it will change how many change agents are out there and how many freelancers start things, and so on and so forth.

JEFF: (56:14) Talk to me about the Giant SaaS. For people, I try to define all of the terms when they come up. SaaS software as a service. So, you have some software around all of this.

JEREMIE: We found that most of the traditional learning for adults was get them to a seminar, sell them a book. It was like go to these long events, read this book and that was where most learning of the 21st century. We just found because of 4G, because of streaming services, because of our phones, most adults are cynical know-it-alls, who don’t read anymore. So, therefore, what content looks like, so on and so forth. So, we were like, “you know what? Lets make adult learning. Let’s make it very, very focused.” So, we created visual tools, we created common language, we created these almost Netflix meets Peloton meets Play Station platform called Giant. So, it’s giant.tv. If you want to just try it out and experiment with it, you can go to giant.tv/jk. That gives you 30 days, not just kidding but that’s Jeremie Kubicek. So, giant.tv/jk and you can try it and do a little demo. But what we’ve done is we basically created this system. We use the term “progress is a process.” So, we say, what if you added one tool to you repertoire every week. So, we’ve got 65 or so tools. We’ve got these different pathways. We have things from how do I actually deal with transitions with people? How do I lead remotely? How do I lead my teenagers remotely when I’m working from home or my kids to that’s more the softer side, to the really needy practical, how do I deal with extreme stress in someone. How do I lead my team with…. So we have about 800 or 900 episodes and then we have pathways and surveys and data and it’s a really unique system and you unlock cards and we share with people what it’s like to be on the other side of themselves. So, it’s almost like a self-awareness journey meets a team performance system. And it’s all designed to get you to work more intelligently and to know yourself, know your team, to get real hard skills on how do I eliminate this? How do I increase influence? How do I get someone to the next level, so on and so forth. So that’s what we built.

JEFF: (59:11) Is this focused more at leaders and managers or everybody on the team?

JEREMIE: No, this is the cool part. We started off with having everyone in leaders, but we’re morphing it to everyone. What we found is we have a lot of aspirational leaders who wanted to go further, like, why are we limiting them. So, we are just literally in the next week going to open it to everything. Right now, we have three different groups. If you’re a consultant guide, you can actually learn our system, and you can go and we become a wholesaler if you will, so you can use the system. If you’re an individual or a leader, we have those separated, we’re about to let it be for everyone. So, everyone can see everything. And you can then decide how you want to use it with your team. But we do have team tracks that teams can use. Then we also have a system we’re about to employ that allows teammates like almost forced relational trust with each other. It’s like, “Jeff you’re going to meet with Dan this week and you’re going to do these questions.” We’re just creating some innovation around people, adult learning, that hasn’t existed, and we’re getting a lot of looks and a lot of people who are appreciating it. We’ve also made the cost so low. So, it’s very inexpensive. I think that’s another thing people appreciated, which is like a SaaS model, when you have $8.99 a month for an individual I can do that.

JEFF: It’s cheaper than Netflix.

JEREMIE: That’s right.

JEFF: And you get more out of it arguably.

JEREMIE: That’s right. You could only watch so much. Literally, we’re done binge watching in our house. We’re just tired of it.

JEFF: Eventually you get through the stuff you want to watch and then you’re watching stuff you don’t want to watch. [laughing]. (1:01:33) Well, Jeremy, if people wanted to follow-up with you, get in touch, ask more questions, what’s the best way for them to do that?

JEREMIE: So, giant.tv/ obviously. Or you can go to jeremiekubicek.com. So, if you want more information on anything that we’re doing then you can go to either of those places. Jeff, thanks so much man. It’s so good to talk to someone who is so competent, and I appreciate your questions and your rhythm.

JEFF: Like I said at the top of the podcast, I love this stuff. This is the stuff I really enjoy. Helping people to connect. Helping people to understand each other. And ultimately using that as a method for productivity as a feeling. [laughing] Like, not so much productivity as an output. I think productivity is a measurable thing. We think of this back to the turn of the century, the Industrial Revolution measuring productivity and how many widgets do we have put per hour. But there’s a personal feeling you get from really feeling like you’re personally firing on all cylinders. It’s something that’s kind of , you can connect with that much more when you’re working remotely because it’s you. You’re managing your own time. You’re managing your own productivity, and it can be a great feeling. But I really think that all of this stuff that we’re talking about, culminates in that. There’s obviously business value to having a productive team, but ultimately I think it could be really rewarding for everyone involved.

JEREMIE: Love it. Well, thanks again Jeff.

JEFF: Thank you Jeremy. Keep in touch.

JEREMIE: Appreciate it. Take care.