Podcast: Lead People, Manage Things – The Curt Tueffert Interview

The Busyness Paradox Episode #33: Lead People, Manage Things – The Curt Tueffert Interview

Believe it or not, there was a time when having house cats interrupt work meetings was considered weird. Alas, we’ve been doing this pandemic thing for almost two years now and things have changed. We decided it was a good time to get a boots-on-the-ground perspective on just what those changes look like and how real-world companies have adapted. Join us as we discuss the new world of leadership, sales, work/life-balance, Zoom mishaps and much more with guest Curt Tueffert, Vice President of Sales Development for DXP Enterprises, a $1 billion industrial distribution firm.

People, Places and Things Mentioned in This Episode:

Guest: Curt Tueffert (https://www.linkedin.com/in/curttueffert), Vice President of Sales Development, DXP Enterprises (dxpe.com)

00:30 – Five Stones for Slaying Giants: Critical Success Factors for Business and Life

27:40 – Episode #5: Chasing Productivity & Creativity in WFH 

Episode Transcript:

Frank Butler 0:17
Hello Busybodies, welcome to another episode of the Busyness Paradox. I’m Frank Butler here with Paul Harvey.

Paul Harvey 0:24
Good day.

Frank Butler 0:25
And today we have a special guest with us, Curt Tueffert. He’s based out of Houston, he’s the vice president of sales development for DXP, a $1 billion industrial distributor. And you can find them at http://www.dxpe.com if you want to know more about the company he’s working for. But he also wrote the book, Five Stones for Slaying Giants: Critical Success Factors for Business and Life. And you can find that over at Amazon. We’ll have a link in the show notes when we’re done, Curt, glad to have you on board.

Curt Tueffert 0:56
Hey, welcome Frank and Paul, I appreciate that so much. And looking forward to working with the busyness factor that we all are in right now. Especially in this time in the season.

Frank Butler 1:06
You named it right. I know that, depending on on the industry you’re in, seasonality is a thing right now. I don’t know if the industrial side is as problematic during this end of it as maybe some other businesses might be like, you know, Mattel, and toys, or Lego or whatever. But you’re right. It’s a crazy time, especially with the pandemic. So, what are you guys looking like right now, with the pandemic? Have you guys been doing? Pretty well?

Curt Tueffert 1:31
Great question. First of all, the supply chain hits, even our order for calendars. We are almost in January, the next year, we haven’t gotten our calendars, we’ve identified the cargo ship in Long Beach, it’s somewhere between the 847 and the 900 and 52nd cargo ship, we wanted to Dawn some jet skis to go out there to try to retrieve our calendars. But well, we might have to go with something different as it relates to the pandemic. And it’s, there’s so much going on, I think, from an employer standpoint, our employees are just exhausted, they’re just beat up with all of the things. We’re a North American based company. So my my, my peers in California, well, they’re in a hard shutdown masks required, my peers in the great area of Nebraska, they’re running around with scissors in their hands, it’s just completely different. And it’s hard to, to have a cadence of a message when it’s different. And so when you start thinking about our customers, especially in the oil and gas business, where we have a 45% of our businesses, oil and gas, many of these guys are tenured. So they get up to 5-6-7-8 weeks of vacation, they’re gone starting December 15 of 2021. There, they’re punching out for hunting, for traveling. And so any big decisions are deferred to next year. And we wouldn’t know what that looks like, because we don’t have calendar.

Frank Butler 3:06
We don’t know what day it is, oh, my God! It’s all coming down. That’s amazing that it’s calendars. You know, I did an interview the other day for our local paper, and we were talking about the supply chain crunch. And obviously, you know, some of it is legitimately boats are piling up, the ports aren’t able to get enough people to work for whatever reason, or they’re having to shut down to the pandemic or whatever, right, there’s just so many things in the air. But then on the other end of the spectrum, there’s some companies who are leveraging that to their advantage, they’re not actually experiencing any real disruptions. But they’re able to take advantage of the “oh, you know, everybody’s shortened supply. So we can increase the price a little bit to, you know, take advantage of that”. But more so I think what’s interesting, and something you said is how it can be so varied from state to state, right? From Nebraska, as you said, they’re running around with scissors, they’ve got a lot less requirements in place, whereas California, as we know, is a little bit more strict with regards to how they’re managing the pandemic. That’s one of those things that just creates more uncertainty for everybody, right? It’s what are we supposed to do? And I think one of the things that I always tell my graduate students in particular is that as a, as a manager, as a leader, as a senior manager even, your job is to absorb the uncertainty for your employees, and try to make sure that they feel like they’re on a trajectory. But how do you do that without a calendar?

Curt Tueffert 4:26
Well, you know, it’s always been said that we want to lead people and manage things. And sometimes in these crazy uncertain times, we start to manage people and lead things and it gets a little bit flip-flopped around there. The uncertainty is, gosh, you know, the three of us could talk until February on just the whole ability of a leader to stand strong in uncertain times, articulate their vision, and communicate in every means possible, so that the people who are following that leader understand: this is the direction. Here’s where we’re going. I know this is a distraction. Let’s get back on course, I know this is a rumor, let me squelch it. And we just continue that cadence of clarity. I think that gets us out of the confusion. And here I am with my cadence of clarity and confusion. In education, golly.

Frank Butler 5:24
That’s fine. No, I like the alliteration in there, too.

Paul Harvey 5:28
I think everything you say Curt, is a potential title for this episode, by the way. Running with Scissors. Managing people, leading things. Yes. It’s all Yeah.

Frank Butler 5:37
Yeah. And that’s something that’s interesting, too, is how do you check yourself when you try to find that you’re managing people more than you’re managing things? Like how do you catch yourself, what is something that you would recommend people do?

Curt Tueffert 5:48
I would recommend for students, whether undergraduate, graduate, new managers, old managers, you’ve got to have a band of brothers or sisters. An accountability group. In academia, we have to have that otherwise, we go to theoretical and we lose the practical. Or in business, I have a group of sales managers who are my peers, that can hold me accountable. It’s almost like, you know, we’re sharpening each other up, you know, as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Without that accountability, I’ll drift. And I’ll find myself leading causes and managing people, and then it’s like Whack-a-Mole. And you know, and I would just say, if you’re in a study program, and you just feel like you can’t do it anymore, that band of brothers or sisters can hold you accountable to get you to the next day. I know, I’m just completely riffing on this. There’s a, there’s an idea in the Navy SEAL program, that you just get to the next evolution. You just…if it’s breakfast, can I make it to lunch? If it’s lunch, can I make it to dinner? And I think there’s so much value and wisdom in what does that look like? Because we we tend to go and catastrophize things and of course, the media catastrophizes everything. And so, all I’m saying is, hey, well, let’s just do the right thing next and the next thing right, and manage things and lead people

Frank Butler 7:15
Yeah. No, that’s that’s a great way of saying it too, and, and in the media certainly does have its impact. And one of the things I always try to tell, folks is, sometimes you have to back it off about 30% of what they’re saying in terms of the severity, you know, in sometimes you’re like, Yeah, you know, there’s cause for concern. But the problem is, it’s like the boy who cried wolf, right? They catastrophize everything, as you said. So then when there is a catastrophe, the reaction is not going to be what it needs to be. Now going down this thought about the disruptions the pandemic has caused, its certainly created a whole lot of new stresses for everybody. And I’m sure you’re feeling that too. I mean, I’m sure you’ve had to change how you manage people and how you deal with customers and what have you. But how do you find your moment of, like, Zen or tranquility, or just that break during the day to sort of refresh?

Curt Tueffert 8:07
Well, you know, I don’t know if I have found it so much, because I tend to be a workaholic, a Type A driver type. So I’m doing a lot more working out and doing a lot more cardio, trying to do that. Here at the office. We have groups of people who take walks around the office, it started in the pandemic, and then it went into a walking challenge where you could you know, how many steps could you take a day? And I’ve asked them as they’ve walked around and said, What does this do for you and they go, it changes our paradigm, it changes our physiology. And so that is a good thing. Now, if you’re working from home, you’re working remotely. And your new office is the kitchen table that you share with your spouse, that’s going to be difficult because everybody’s working from home and you might have to walk the neighborhood, or something of that nature. I think everybody’s got to find their Zen quickly. Otherwise, you’re going to overeat you’re going to over medicate, you’re going to over addict. And you know that “COVID 15,” so like the “freshman 15” There’s an excuse and you know, and holiday season where you know, you might not be in the best emotional state. You can use comfort food and comfort drink to medicate and self-medicate. These are all warning signs to bad behavior.

Frank Butler 9:27
Oh for sure, I agree completely. And I think that’s a good point is trying to find ways to avoid those sorts of maybe coping mechanisms in a sense, right? I mean, they are truly like a coping mechanism, but a harmful one in a lot of cases, right? They have bad effects. And I know somewhere somebody had once said it since I’m working from home more and I’m missing my morning commute. The one thing they do is they throw their earbuds in they throw on their podcast that they would listen to on the way to work, and then they would go walk around their building or their neighborhood for a little bit. Just to get that mindset change, right just to sort of go, Okay, I might not be driving. But now I can change that mindset. I know some people get up and slow roll the morning. There’s different ways of doing it. But I think that’s the thing is, as you say, is trying to find what’s going to work for you. But don’t let it be those sort of negative types of outlets, right, too much eating. I mean, I know I’ve even suffered from the COVID-19 weight gain that I’ve got going on, that I’m gonna have to work on after this. But with that same idea with a pandemic, you know, it’s changed the way we work. How have you guys responded to the pandemic? I know you’re your department’s sales. So what are some of the changes that you guys have made because of that?

Curt Tueffert 10:42
Well, the first thing we did is we wanted to protect our corporate office. So early on, March, April of last year, we kicked everybody out. And we really went through all of those traps in the early stages the pandemic to make sure people were healthy. And we gave them the freedom to work from home and and to be distanced. If there was a problem that has created new technologies. Now we have to, we have to get better IT systems because we’re working from home. Gosh, we thought, oh, my gosh, everybody’s going to be watching Ellen in the afternoon, and no one’s going to get any work done, we found that more people are getting more work done at home. So that’s been an insight, an aha moment that we’ve really, really appreciated. Where we’ve struggled in a sales modality is our customers too are sheltering in place. They’re working remotely, and in the old days, well, “old days” 2012-2019. In the old days, we would call on people in purchasing, people in engineering, people in management, at their place of business, that was a normal thing to do. Well, if you’re working remotely, you can’t call on them at their homes. So they have a reason to not use you. Or they (the customers) have a reason to search alternative means of acquiring the things we sell, Amazon, online, things of that nature. And if we don’t flex to that, if we’re not savvy in the tech ways, we’ll lose out. “Curt, we’d like you from a technical resource. But I don’t need you anymore for technical. I don’t need somebody to tell me how many plies of paper towels I need, and the absorption rate and the dimples in my paper towel, I don’t need to know that I just need to know that my local store has an in bulk,” right. Next thing, you know, I lose that sale.

Frank Butler 12:40
That’s interesting. One of the things that the technology has done in terms of like, you know, we’ve got different modalities now with zoom. And of course, we have text messaging and phone calls and Microsoft Teams, and oh my goodness, right? There’s all these things going on out there. That has changed how you develop relationships with your clients, right? I mean, that’s what sales is, it’s about developing relationship, that one on one with whomever the purchaser is or the decision maker, whatever it is, you feel like, now you’re having to play, as you said earlier, whack-a-mole, but with these technologies of oh my gosh, this client’s using this now, now we have to learn how to do this. And we have to get our salespeople trained up on that, and so on and so forth. Do you find you’re…

Curt Tueffert 13:21
Wow, that’s a great question, Frank. And in the beginning, all of our sales managers panicked, we didn’t know exactly what to do, I thought everybody wanted to be on a zoom call. So if your background said, “Let’s go, Brandon”, man, you’re gonna be in a whole lot of problems when you’re talking to people. So we had to scrub that. If you’re calling from your king size bed with your 1970s blue light poster in the background we had to scrub that. So we had to have default…default backgrounds. Now we’re at a point where zoom calls don’t require video, they just require audio. So let’s go all the way back to something that we used to call conference calls, right? And it’s the same difference, where you’re now just using zoom or teams to do conference calls. However, the best piece of the technology that I use all the time, share my screen.

Paul Harvey 14:16
Oh, yeah.

Curt Tueffert 14:17
Cuz I can talk to you, Frank, I can talk to you, Paul. And it’s words and you don’t get it right. But if I share my screen and show you a PowerPoint slide, or a picture, or a diagram, now we’ve got another…we will get visual, we have auditory, we have kinesthetic learning. Now things are advantageous. And so that is an adder. That’s a technology breakthrough. Not so sure I’m, we don’t need to see each other on video anymore. I have a face for radio, and let’s just keep it that way. But you know, we’re using other technologies to their advantage.

Paul Harvey 14:51
You raise a good point, though, that if we don’t kind of lean into the technological changes that are forced on us, we can revert to things that aren’t so…don’t have the same potential. So like you said, the…reverting to the conference call, basically, I’ve noticed with meetings and classes with students, when the cameras start turning off, people start tuning out, you know, it just, they just aren’t as engaged anymore when you can’t be seen. But, like you said, having the camera on brings its own set of challenges and drawbacks. I like the idea of like you said, leaning into the…accept the limitations, but don’t go all the way back. Use the fact that you can use the visual cues and such to keep people engaged. Make sense.

Curt Tueffert 15:30
Paul, you make an excellent point there, and especially in academia, where we all live. And when I’m on Zoom calls, in fact, I’m on a large one tomorrow morning, when we use things like polls and questions and dialogues and chats, that helps engage everyone on the call, we create a community. We actually do things like create breakout rooms and discussions, that tend to keep people engaged and leaning forward. You know, we can still put you on, turn the video off, and then open up three other windows, and go make sure that my Amazon order is coming, that that my news channel is current, and we lose the translation. But boy, I love these new, subtle tools that help me, “here’s a poll, what do you guys think?” And you quickly get that from your students or, “Hey, in the chat, tell me what you think about blank” and that might work. But But again, it’s it’s it’s the adoption of these new technologies and making the assumption that the three of us on this call, know how to use it in the proper way. And sometimes it’s wonderful. And it’s…the facilitator is a master facilitator. And sometimes it’s just painful. With their attempt to use polls and quizzes and opinions.

Paul Harvey 16:45
Yeah, when it’s bad, it’s real bad. I agree with that. Good point. It seems to have something to do with the personnel involved in the call or the meeting, or whatever it is. I’m thinking back to that first. when this first started, spring 2020. I think like a lot of schools, things were humming along like normal, we got to spring break, and we just never came back again. That was when everything really blew up. One of the first things I noticed was I got engagement from students who I almost never heard from before, like in class, even in meetings and just calls with people I know outside of work. The level levels of engagement seem to be different, you know, higher for some people lower for other people. And so I’m wondering, especially in your position, working with clients, or potential clients and strip suppliers, and such, is that something that you’ve run into that you’re kind of communication dynamics that were all nice and established before have had to change because of the technology?

Curt Tueffert 17:40
Absolutely. And we’re relying upon our vendors, our our manufacturers to level up to the same level of of heightened awareness. And that isn’t happening. It’s still death by PowerPoint. It’s just now death by PowerPoint on a zoom call. And it’s just, you know, it, you know, you don’t need to read the screen to me, I can read. And, and so the tragic part of that is people tune out. Yeah. And it’s just like, oh, they tuned out physically, because you know, but it was harder. Because you’re in a classroom, you’re in a meeting room, and you’re getting the marketing PowerPoint, that’s the same one, one size fits all. It’s just now into a zoom call.

Paul Harvey 18:24
PowerPoint is just as evil today as it was before the pandemic.

Frank Butler 18:27

Curt Tueffert 18:27

Paul Harvey 18:28
Not the tool itself. But the way it’s used, to a degree.

Curt Tueffert 18:31
Just the way it’s used.

Frank Butler 18:32
And it’s funny, because, you know, we have in college, we have classes, typically on business communications, and sort of that includes what’s a good presentation style, you know, not putting too many words, and they’re using it as a maybe more for structure to help you fill in the blanks. And then yeah, you still get those slides that have everything they’re going to say on it. And they just read from it. You’re like, oh, no, don’t do that, please.

Curt Tueffert 18:53
in 12-point font

Frank Butler 18:54
12-point font, yup. And you can’t read all the…you’re like squinting…

Curt Tueffert 18:57
So you’re…so it’s an eye chart in the back of the room? Yeah.

Frank Butler 19:00
Goodness. You mentioned it already earlier about the different backgrounds people had. And so have you created now a code of conduct for professionalism for zoom, are these virtual meetings now?

Curt Tueffert 19:11
Yes, we first of all, we invested in a corporate zoom license. So that gives everybody access to the tool? Because before we didn’t know, and so it was like, you get the free one, you get the free one, you got 15 minutes, you only have 30 minutes. And we’re a billion dollar company acting like a startup. And now we stepped into it because the pandemic forced us to get a corporate license. And so with that corporate license comes the responsibility of making sure that you’ve got the right backgrounds and you’ve got the right things. And the challenge is you just can’t police it. I mean, if there’s 200 people using zoom on a daily basis, I don’t know what everybody’s background looks like. It could be horrific.

Frank Butler 19:57
True, very true. And and we also know that that people will stress about like the cleanliness of their house or maybe what is in the background. And by creating some structure around, that can certainly make it a lot easier on the people who are on the other side of that, or, you know, are working for you. And that that can provide some relief in there. What’s interesting that you mentioned there too is this notion of just having to pay for that sitewide license, right. And you said with that, we were acting like a startup, you guys are pretty mature company at this point. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with acting like a startup in certain areas. But the way you handle your sales process or your meeting processes, probably not the area to have that.

Curt Tueffert 20:40
Agreed. You know, before the pandemic, we were using traditional face-to-face meetings, that was the right thing to do. And then the pandemic forced a couple of things. On the good side, on the upside, it forced us to have meetings on the phone and on Zoom, where we used to be on a plane or a train. Now that reduced our cost. But it also forced us into a piece of technology we didn’t budget for which is corporate zoom license, right. And so one thing is a trade off of the other as the pandemic winds down, if it ever does, we’ll find ourselves making better business decisions regarding Can I have this meeting on Zoom, or let’s just say, Frank, you’re the customer or the prospect. And I’ve got Paul on the phone here. And he is a subject matter expert, instead of the two of us flying to your location. We can have this and zoom at your time and make it a whole lot more effective if we use the tools in the proper way. And so that’s a great thing. I just don’t see us going back to buying an airplane ticket just to have a one hour meeting because the client asked for it that way.

Frank Butler 21:47
I think that’s one of the biggest benefits that we’ve certainly had as a result of the pandemic. Is that sort of ripping that band aid off on let’s get rid of all this unnecessary travel and-

Paul Harvey 21:57
My frequent flyer miles disagree

Frank Butler 22:00
Well, that’s why you get the corporate or the credit card with the frequent flyer miles and just charge everything, right?

Paul Harvey 22:05
Oh, I did.

Frank Butler 22:06
Me too. With that whole change, have you guys adopted a hybrid work policy? Or you, sir, just have some loose rules around hybrid work or remote work?

Curt Tueffert 22:17
Great question. Think about the pandemic being less than two years fully old, or new. Work has changed as we know it, we thought we would just be a temporary go home for a couple of months and then come back that lasted over a year. Now we’ve asked people to come back if you feel comfortable. So it is hybrid, which is almost a job description now. And for all of the people on this call who are in college or graduate college, one of the new negotiating poker chips is is this a remote position, meaning I don’t want to come to the corporate office if I don’t have to anymore, or maybe I just go one day a week. And so things have changed so rapidly that we we have 2500 employees. And so we’re like, okay, some of them can stay at home. And they get they get their work done. Some of them have to come to the office, because it’s an office bearing work responsibility. Now, this has a ripple effect, all that commercial office space. I mean, tragically DXP, we have this beautiful four story office that we moved into in October of 2019. And so now, if you want, I got a great sale on cubicle, we’re not going to pass anymore, because we’re not going to have this four story building fully occupied some of the local mom and pops around this area that used to feed and how then clothe and do the automotive repair for all these office buildings, those people aren’t coming to that central location. So that convenience of dropping your car off at work. Those guys are no longer in business. And it’s just it’s so get there is a big impact.

Frank Butler 24:08
It’s amazing, just sort of the ripple effect this has but then of course, there’s also new industries cropping up are growing as a result. So we’re seeing some shifting of jobs and what have you. And of course, there’s some benefits, as you said, some productivity picked up from some of your people during that time. How do you find your ability to manage people’s change? Because you probably got some people who are on site all the time, some that are hybrid, some that are not coming in as frequently. How do you try to avoid giving preference to those that you see on the regular because it’s really easy to you know, do that?

Curt Tueffert 24:39
Absolutely. And, and you know, this is such a pertinent question today because how do you reward employees cost of living quarterly reviews yearly? 360s. It’s very difficult. I’ll be honest with you, we’re learning as we’re going because we’re just not we’re an old company, meaning Traditional it’s face to face, belly to belly sales, it’s face to face in the office, if your work is done at three o’clock, you have to stay till five just so you can leave and get into the traffic. Because of this agrarian society of come to work at eight leave at five type thing with a one hour lunch. Those things are all immediately in real time being destroyed. And it’s, it’s really hard Our managers are scratching their head going, how do I evaluate this person who I literally haven’t seen face to face in three weeks? Well, one way is it’s a requirement, you have to come into the office X days a week, there’s a rotation, that rotation helps. Some of our larger offices or branch offices may be staffed with 10 people, maybe five of them come in Mondays and Tuesdays and the other five comes in Wednesdays and Thursdays and so on and so forth. We we staggered workforce, so that we can serve customers face to face over the phone as well. And help those managers develop. The other follow up question to you guys would be how do you train them? Yeah, honey, I got a really good person and they’re in Cedar Falls. And we’re in Houston. How do you train that person corporate culture onboarding, the corporate speak the software, you just send them endless YouTube videos, you know, until their eyes bleed and just it’s man. We’re all in this boat, the entire world. I think in this boat as it relates to the care and feeding of remote employees

Frank Butler 26:37
That OJT element has changed, right? Being able to shadow somebody to learn the ins and outs of a job certainly has changed.

Curt Tueffert 26:44
And think of the the graduate students and the undergraduates, they’ve grown up with technology. They’ve grown up with immediate access to immediate information immediately. Now they’re stuck in in a remote office and they haven’t seen their boss, everything is lower. They’re really going to have a problem. I’m going to struggle because they want to be president in 18 months. And they haven’t gotten the laptop, yeah.

Paul Harvey 27:09
Yeah, that was something we had talked about Frank, I think a year or so ago, the challenges that first batch of college graduates going into the working world was having the first batch to go in during the pandemic. And largely because of what you were talking about the socializing the just getting the feel for how we do things and how we interact with each other, all those soft skill, intangible things. It’s how do you get that? How do you onboard that with someone that you’ve never actually met in person.

Frank Butler 27:39
That came out of JP Morgan, that was one of those things their CEO was saying was, we want them on site, because the people who have suffered the most are our new employees, you know, those younger ones. And we we talked about how it’s probably a structural element, you have to give them some structure because they were coming out not, you know, having to already learn a new way of doing things because they’re probably not doing as many online classes and those things. And just as a quick aside everybody, Curt does also teach at the University of Houston on the side, and he stays probably busier than most, but as he said, he’s a workaholic. But with that, you know, I think that’s a an interesting point, too, is that culture, we have to learn new ways of maintaining culture in this transitioning work environment.

Curt Tueffert 28:18
So much culture. I mean, I’m old enough to remember going into the break room and celebrating everybody’s birthday once a month. I’m old enough to remember office parties and things of that nature. And you look at some of these work hard play hard cultures of Google, Salesforce, Microsoft, where they do these impromptu celebrations. Well, hard to do an impromptu virtual happy hour, it loses its luster after about six minutes.

Paul Harvey 28:47

Curt Tueffert 28:47
And I talked to a young college, young man who got his master’s degree from the University of Houston, works for a major tech company, and got hired right at the COVID and hasn’t met his manager met his manager in 10 months.

Paul Harvey 29:03

Curt Tueffert 29:04
Physically met his manager only because he said, “I really would like to meet you.” And so yeah, for all those jobs that require hand to hand on the job training, and there’s some some technical things. How do we do that? How do we teach a workforce that’s never worked remotely, to work remotely and be productive and not feel guilty? That it’s three o’clock and you knocked it all out? I in the gig economy and talking to the younger generations, I’m talking 30 and under project work seems so much more appealing. Here’s a project, you need to complete the project. They may complete it in less time than you think because they work from eight till two, and then they get back on at six and they work till midnight, and they knock it out and you scratch your head going. Well, it’s done. It’s done accurately. It’s done, you know, under budget and before the deadline. I can’t complain and We start outsourcing our work as projects. Rather than you have to be at your desk at eight o’clock, your manager has to see you. Your keys have to be on your fingers on the keyboard, all of that stuff that’s gone.

Paul Harvey 30:13
You’re singing our…singing our song.

Frank Butler 30:15
Singing our song. That’s right up our alley there. I know you’re running short on time here with you, Kurt. Any any parting thoughts before we let you go, because I know you’ve got your hard deadline.

Curt Tueffert 30:28
I think one of the keys for going forward is everybody on this call. We have to find a way to become much more adaptable, adaptable to the changes in technology adaptable to the changes in our workforce, whether we’re an employer or an employee, he and allow that change and that adaptability not to frighten us away. But to give us the curiosity to lean in. And that’s that’s the key is the adaptability.

Frank Butler 30:58
And he can we can hear Kurt’s getting blown up there. So yeah, we appreciate your time. It’s great having you on hopefully, we can get you on again soon at some point and have a wonderful holiday.

Curt Tueffert 31:09
Thank you very much, guys, I really appreciate that. And just shoot me an email when this thing goes live. So I can get a get a gander at listening, we should.

Paul Harvey 31:17
And we can we can send you a pre release copy, if you want to give it a listen,

Curt Tueffert 31:21
I trust your editing judgment, I would just love a copy that I could put in my archives.

Frank Butler 31:25
Absolutely, absolutely happy to do. So. Thank you so much.

Curt Tueffert 31:28
Merry Christmas,

Frank Butler 31:29
Merry Christmas.

Paul Harvey 31:30
Merry Christmas. Thank you.

Frank Butler 31:32
Thank you have a great one.

Curt Tueffert 31:34
Bye, bye.

Frank Butler 31:35
Well, that was an outstanding interview, I thought we met with Kurt, actually a week a week ago. And at this point, it would have been a week ago from when we recorded this. But as you guys know, it takes little time to get them edited up and post it. But we had a nice conversation with him back then it was close to an hour, he had lots more content. And we might plug in some of that here or as a separate episode or something or as a separate episode, we got a lot of good stuff either way. And so it’s been great to have him on again. And I feel like he really has touched on a lot of things that we address here, right, just how the evolution of the work environment is. And that notion of leaning into it. Right? Embrace it. And this is something that is hard to do for the average person. People do not like change. We don’t, we don’t like change, we inherently dislike change,

Paul Harvey 32:26
Some more than others

Frank Butler 32:26
Some more than others, yes

Paul Harvey 32:28
Our baseline resistance to change is pretty bad

Frank Butler 32:30
I mean, you know, some people thrive on it in different ways. But that’s the thing is that we have to find ways of learning to deal with this in not in a harmful way, as Kurt was saying, you know, don’t overeat or don’t over drink those kinds of things. But I think something really important to keep in mind with all of this, though, is how do we cope with the change out there? And how do you lean into it? How do you learn to deal with this new environment. And if you’re a manager, it still means creating some level of structure. And I think what Kurt had said was very interesting, because it is actually a type of structure, which is give them projects, right? Instead of kind of these general directions. If you give them a project…

Paul Harvey 33:12
Instead of be at your desk for 40 hours a week, or 50 or 60 Just be there packaged up yep, say here, here’s your next package of work. bang it out. Here’s your next one and let them

Frank Butler 33:22
Finish it whenever right in. If you’ve got it planned for two weeks for them to get it done, and they get done in a week…

Paul Harvey 33:28
Don’t punish them for it, don’t punish them for getting the work done faster, especially if the quality is good.

Frank Butler 33:33
And not only that, you might try to encourage them. If they let’s say they had a two week project, they’re done in the week. Maybe you encourage them to do some developmental activities for themselves, you know, watching TED talks or listening to some podcasts, doing activities that are going to help them grow. But you got to give them direction on that.

Paul Harvey 33:50
Yeah, don’t just say, go watch some YouTube videos. See you next week. Be specific.

Frank Butler 33:55
Do your job, lead, right?

Paul Harvey 33:57
Here’s something that you’ll need for the future. Here’s some stuff you can read or listen to or watch to get prepared for that.

Frank Butler 34:04
And that would be as Kurt was saying, managing things. And leading people, yes, you’re giving them structure. You’re giving them things to help make them better, which is what’s leading, right? It’s how I’m going to lead, I’m gonna help you get better.

Paul Harvey 34:20
Exactly. You’re managing the work, literally, you’re packaging it up, you’re structuring it, you’re getting it to the employees in the way that makes sense. You’re literally managing the work, and then letting the people giving them guidance as needed.

Frank Butler 34:34
It’s just that’s such a great way. And I’m glad we had that conversation because that’s just causing these fireworks to go off in my brain right now of some of the things that I was not getting the pieces put together fully yet in the puzzle. And now I’m starting to see some of these ways that we can look at you know, we keep saying let’s let’s measure output, the quality of the output, not the time spent, let’s let’s focus on those things. It changes how we manage too, in a lot of cases

Paul Harvey 35:01
And notice that we didn’t, like, feed that line to Curt or anything like that. We just let him get there on his own. And, you know, focus on the output, not the time spent. Yeah, he worded it way more eloquently towards the end there. But yeah, it’s like a teardrop rolling down my cheek when he was talking about that.

Frank Butler 35:18
It was beautiful, wasn’t it?

Paul Harvey 35:20
It was.

Frank Butler 35:20
I think what’s great, though, is that we’re seeing managers having to IT leaders and executives, because he’s vice president, and he’s, he’s up there at dxp. And seeing this evolution happen. And I think something he also mentioned that we expected this pandemic not to last as long as it did. And because we’re still rolling through it, it’s forcing us to also figure out how can we, as leaders, as executives, or whatever, look at the world differently and evolve what we expect, we have to change our expectations at this point, especially I think, with the work environment the way it is, right? People were saying, hey, there’s not enough people working right now. And for whatever reason, people might be saying, oh, you know, people don’t want to work this, again, we’ve, we’ve addressed this more along the lines of people, do they just want to be paid and have certain things met, demands met these days that they can it’s the power has shifted more towards the employee right now. And, Paul, you were gonna say something sorry.

Paul Harvey 36:20
No, just kind of…taking a summation of a few of the things that we’ve talked about over the last couple of minutes. And with Kurt as well, the notion of resistance to change and how we’re being forced to do things. I mean, we’re forced to make certain changes, especially from a managerial perspective, that’s kind of upside to the pandemic, I think, so much of this, these changes that we have no choice like we have to do these things are things that we’ve known we should adapt to, for a long time, you know, concur, was talking about unnecessary or unneeded travel expenses, you know, fill in all the other stuff we’ve been talking about. A lot of these things are stuff that you’d hear people talk about, yeah, we need to move in that direction. But now we have to move in that direction, we don’t have a choice. We have to get more efficient in a lot of ways. But we have to manage our people, like actual people, lead them, and pose that again, manage, manage the work, lead the people manage things, lead people, yeah, we have to do that. Now, if you don’t do that you’re gonna go extinct. So it’s not a not a net loss in that regard.

Frank Butler 37:23
You know, that’s so interesting thinking about that idea of, as he eloquently put it, you know, managing things, leading people, and trying to avoid the leading things and managing people building a cohort, right? people you can trust. And that’s something that’s in not only trust, it’s having people who are going to be able to tell you, Hey, Frank, Hey, Paul, you got your head stuck up your butt again, you know, you’re starting to shift more toward trying to manage the people versus doing what you need to be doing, which is helped develop them or whatever it is. And that means that you’re creating an accountability system. It’s hard to make yourself accountable, right? It’s really easy to say no for yourself, right? Make yourself accountable for yourself, it’s going to stop eating sweets for the next two weeks. Well, it’s easy to say. But if you’re not having to have anybody else that you’re accountable to, you might slip easily. It’s about having those others there to help reinforce the good behaviors in some way. And that’s a challenge, especially now, especially now, because you might not be next those people exactly. I’m wondering if that’s something like, you know, recording your zoom calls or something to help review them, right. Maybe that’s something companies can do is if you’re having a team meeting, you might record him on zoom as a leader, and then have a third party evaluate the maybe there’s a service out there that can do that, or maybe something that you can have HR do in house, it’s like how can we better lead people versus manage people? And that could be an interesting,

Paul Harvey 38:53
I think you’re onto something there, Frank. Yeah, I could see like a automated piece of software that plucks out from a zoom transcripts, commitments, the 23 minutes and 14 seconds, you said you would finish blah, blah, blah, by Tuesday afternoon, just pull it out to kind of have it in front of you. Like, oh, I didn’t say that didn’t or someone else said that they would do this by that date. Because you’re right. There’s, I think of it. In the old days, we used to talk about how our career in academia was somewhat unique, because you had to sort of police yourself so much more than in other jobs. And you had to have that self accountability. Or you can just go years without publishing anything and you know, drive yourself extinct. Yeah, I think more of the world now is experiencing that, that need to self manage and self monitor their their own commitments, their efforts, with those commitments, instead of just planning on being in a workplace for a certain number of hours every week. And assuming It’ll all get done during that time. Yeah, I think you’re onto something there. I like it. Yeah.

Frank Butler 39:55
I think there’s something interesting about that, and maybe if folks are doing this and They want Paul to review your your zoom calls just to see if you’re making headway on the leading versus managing, we’re happy to do so too.

Paul Harvey 40:08
Can you imagine if that was your job, just to review corporate zoom calls?

Frank Butler 40:13
I think I think it’d be a great little consulting gig on the side, too. I mean, I feel like it’s right up our wheelhouse to considering the content we’ve taught and the things that we’ve done and know the exact ad programs we’ve taught.

Paul Harvey 40:23
Yeah, but weeding through the banter and chit chat

Frank Butler 40:28
Well I think that, you know, you do like a team meeting or something like that, it’d be pretty clear within a 30 minute team meeting or whatever, what’s leading versus what’s managing the people.

Paul Harvey 40:39
That’s an interesting point, too, though. I wonder. And I think you could make the argument that the zoom or whatever remote format, kind of forces that a little bit, in a face to face meeting, things always go off the rails, you know, like, you get sidetracked and this person won’t stop talking about that or anything. I think we just have a different mindset, going into a scheduled Zoom meeting, that, you know, this is a set amount of time, we got to do set amount of things. And no one wants to get into like, banter and chit chat and sidetracks. On zoom. I don’t think so I haven’t seen nearly as much of that, as I used to see in regular face to face meetings.

Frank Butler 41:19
No, I think that’s true. I think it’s more difficult to I know, we had a farewell for one of our people in the College of Business. And one of the complaints I had about zoom, is that, you know, we had, I don’t know, 2024 people, 25 people on that Zoom. That would have been mostly together, face to face for this very well. But the thing with Zoom, the challenges that you can’t have your little side conversation,

Paul Harvey 41:42
No, one person can talk at a time basically.

Frank Butler 41:45
That’s pretty much right one person, I mean, yeah, you can use breakout rooms. But that’s not the same, organic or natural the way it happens when you’re in a room where everybody’s there having cake and whatever. And you’re just having these little side conversations.

Paul Harvey 41:58
Closest you can have as little in the chat section. People can chat back and forth with each other. But then, you know, you’re kind of distracting from whatever the main subject is. And I always live in fear every time you start, like making jokes about something someone said of accidentally sending it to the wrong person. That yeah,

Frank Butler 42:17
you know, let’s talk to your right. It’s like, I know that I’ve received private messages on zoom that were not meant for me, but for somebody else. Yeah. Those are always interesting.

Paul Harvey 42:26
I haven’t gotten any exciting ones yet. But it’s definitely happened that they just all have happened to be mundane, boring things.

Frank Butler 42:32
It’s certainly an interesting thing for sure.

Paul Harvey 42:34
Get like news.

Frank Butler 42:38
You know, it’s gone bad when we hit that. I mean, come on evil people have actually gotten in trouble on Zoom for having their camera on. And they were like, you know, either taking care of themself like that one guy. I forgot which CNN or something like that. He was a lawyer who ended up I hadn’t heard about that. Yeah, it was a maybe like a year ago. Now. He was taking care of his and he also wrote for The New Yorker, I believe, wow, they both fired him because of you know, that we’re gonna put away. So, and I know there’s been other other things I know that there was the other day this one guy was getting frisky with his wife and the cameras on and I’m sure he thought he had turned it off. And people have thought they’d been on mute. And in fact, actually, my parents they went, they were in a zoom for an opening of a new military museum. I forgot which I think it was an army’s big, big time. And there was a lot of high level officials and former government officials high level government officials on there. And I believe this dude was a former high level like attorney general or something like that, you know, not the attorney general. But you know, in that office, well, no. And he didn’t have his mic on mute, and his wife was fried in the riot act. And everybody could hear that. The administrator who was controlling zoom, figured out how to mute them, which is a skill that if you don’t know how to do if you’re adding the Zoom meeting, learn how to mute others. It’s an important little things. The first thing you should learn. Yeah, or what I do is always start the Zoom meeting where everybody is required to be on mute. Because you never know.

Paul Harvey 44:12
Use auto mute everybody to start. That’s right. Yeah, that’s right. You never know. Always assume the cameras on and always assume that likes listening.

Frank Butler 44:20
Well that, you know, that’s a good point. Always assume your cameras on always assume people are listening. So behave accordingly. You know, it’s amazing to me sometimes that we ask Kurt that you have like a code of conduct for these things. You should create your own code of conduct and the basic of that should always be always think that your camera’s on. Always think that your mic is on. So be careful with what you say. And be careful with your facial expressions.

Paul Harvey 44:47
Careful what your spouse says. Yeah,

Frank Butler 44:50
yeah, exactly. I do. I do like the idea of having a zoom background to help out because you know, some people they don’t they got kids or Whatever and, and you know, might be a mess, and they don’t need to clean up and they just, they’re just trying to find a place in their home. To get away just so they can do these things. Don’t give them grief about it, you know, let them have a zoom background and make it a corporate background just, you know, make that something that’s uniform across the board. So there’s no, you’re taking away from the stresses of those kinds of things. Just making life easier for your employees. That’s a basic element. They’re

Paul Harvey 45:26
really annoyed, I updated, you know, zoom at some point, and it took away my, my favorite background, crying cowboys. really annoyed about that, I need to get that set up again, ah,

Frank Butler 45:39
you know, updates. They always do weird things.

Paul Harvey 45:42
Kill your crying cowboy background. So they do.

Frank Butler 45:47
Any any last thoughts? Paul, before we wrap this one?

Paul Harvey 45:52
I’m just happy that we had another opportunity to talk to someone with their boots on the ground out in industry. Yeah. And that they unprovoked seem to agree with our general mindset, that this is a rare opportunity in history. And it can be it can have long term beneficial effects in terms of work, the workplace and management if we allow it to. So thanks to Kurt for being here. Thank you,

Frank Butler 46:15
Kurt. Yeah, absolutely. That’s one of the things that we want to do is we want to bring examples of the real world stuff going on, you know, we can talk about it all day long. But it’s nice to get it reinforced. And, you know, we see how the world is evolving. And that’s some of the things that we’ve been addressing is this world is evolving. And there’s a lot of new things we’re learning as we go. As Kurt said, they’re having to adjust on the fly, they’re learning as they go. And that’s the same thing that we’re doing to one of the things that is happening. And I sort of brought it up, I want to bring it up a little bit more clearly now is that there are some stresses that occur with being on Zoom. A lot of that comes down to you have to be prepared, you know, you have to prep yourself, you know, do your makeup or comb your hair, or whatever it is. There’s that notion of having to make sure your background is certain a certain way. And all these things sort of contribute to new stresses that we haven’t had an encounter before the pandemic because we were either face to face and you were already going through this daily routine, whereas now you might not be doing this daily anymore. And so it’s creating a sense of

Paul Harvey 47:24
there’s always a, you know, a need to put yourself together to go to work. But it’s weird to do that in your house. And not leave your house. Yes. Really weird. Yeah. Try and do it.

Frank Butler 47:42
Stay in our hoodies and hats, you know, and just isn’t hatch. That’s right. That’s right. The cult of Busyness Paradox, the cult of the paradox. No,

Paul Harvey 47:52
We got to work on that.

Frank Butler 47:53
We got to. We got to find the proper name there. Again, thank you for listening, please share, rate, subscribe to our podcast, I you know, we’re not really good at that call to action elements there. That’s not our things. We’re not marketing professors. Not our thing. But it’s important. You know, we we do this because we want to help change the work environment by thinking about what does it mean to work today. So, thanks for listening, everybody.

Paul Harvey 48:19
We’d like to get as much as many people participating in our conversation as possible. So if you know anyone who might like the show, please share it. If you want to know anyone who might want to be on the show as a guest. We’d be happy to talk to you.

Frank Butler 48:34
Exactly. That’s a key. If you know somebody who we should be talking to because they’re doing some cool things in the work environment. Let us know we would love to have a conversation with them. Thanks for listening, everybody.

Paul Harvey 48:45
Good day, folks. The Busyness Paradox is distributed by Paul Harvey and Frank Butler. Our theme music is adapted from “It’s Business Time” by Jemaine Clements and Bret McKenzie. Our production manager is Justin Wuntaek. We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode, and we’d love to hear from you. Please send any questions, comments or ideas for future episode topics to input@busynessparadox.com, or find us on Twitter. Also, be sure to visit our website, busynessparadox.com to read our blog posts and for links to the articles and other resources mentioned in today’s show. Finally, please take a moment to rate and follow or subscribe to our show on Apple podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google podcasts or wherever the heck you get your podcasts.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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