The truth about high engagement is much different than what most leaders believe.  Learn the truth from Dr Bob Nelson, one of the world’s leading experts and best-selling author. 

In this episode you will learn: 

  • What really drives engagement 
  • Specific things you can do to improve engagement now 
  • The importance of being recognized 
  • How you will grow as a person as you adopt these principles



Read more about how to improve employee engagement.


The Transcript

Brad Wolff: 00:00

Welcome to the, it is about you show today. We have as our guests, Dr. Bob Nelson, Dr. Bob is an expert in the area of engagement and motivation. Dr. Bob, welcome to our show.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 00:25   

Brad, thanks so much for having me.

Brad Wolff: 00:28            

Absolutely. So, tell me a little bit about yourself and your organization.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 00:34   

Yes. Well, I’m the world’s leading authority on employee recognition engagement and retention and that all started with my doctoral work. I did on my PhD with dr Peter Drucker on the topic of employee recognition. At a very simple question I asked, we know positive reinforcement works. We’ve got 400 studies that say that you get what you reward, what you inspect, what you recognize, what you incentivize, you get more of it guaranteed hands down. My question was, is why don’t more managers do that? And the corporations I had worked for, I had it, I never really saw it happen. And so, I want to answer that question. I did a three-year study test specifically drill down on that and was able to find out that the reason why leaders do, do and don’t do it are two very different things for managers that don’t do it.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 01:30   

They, they are afraid that they don’t know how to do it well. They’re afraid of there, they’re busy. They don’t really believe it. They’re afraid they might leave someone out. A lot of other similar types of excuses. But for those managers that use recognition, I found there’s just one common denominator. And that was that they had internalized importance of the behavior of the beliefs that all our behavior follows our beliefs. And so, they believe firmly that they’re in charge of the motivational environment of the people that worked for them. And so that translated into the behavior for them where they looked for opportunities to recognize people. And then when they saw them, they acted on them. So, they said something, they did something. And, and that’s the ticket to make this a reality for anyone listening.

Brad Wolff: 02:18            

Awesome. So, tell me a little bit about the journey that’s brought you to where you are today.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 02:27   

Well, from that study before I finished my dissertation, I, had a professor in graduate school class that was talking about this and said that the overwhelming evidence that a research we have, there hasn’t been much application in business. And I thought to myself, well, I’m going to do something about that. And so, I on the ride home from graduate school that night, I typed out a letter to a New York City publisher and spent several weeks trying to get him on the phone. And when I finally did, out of, I guess pure frustration, this is the admins part, would you talk to this guy? He, he answered the phone, said, what do you want? And I said, well, I’ve got an idea for a book and I wrote you a letter. He said, we’re not going to respond to a letter.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 03:13

It’s you. If you have a book that needs to be done and you’ve got to save the 70,000 books that are published this year. Why your book must be one of those and why we’re the only publisher could possibly get it right. And then, and as he was hanging up, he said, he said, by the way, we get 10,000 proposals a year. We published 24 books click. And I said, well, game on, you know, let me go do a proposal. And that was a year. And that year there’s 70,000 books published this year. There are one and a half million books published, one and a half million. So, let me just tell ya, it’s gotten a lot harder, but a time at your timing was relatively fantastic. Yeah, I guess I get yes. And, and it was a business book. You know, I, I’d done books before.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 04:06   

But that was part of my epiphany is I realized that all the places I did books for business publishers and they seem to operate off the same assumptions. First, it’s a business book, so no one will buy it. Second, it’s a business book, so it was boring. So, let’s put a boring cover on it. And third of all. So, someone’s going to buy this, not spend any time trying to tell people about it. And it’d become a self-fulfilling prophecy yet sure enough it didn’t do very well. So, I did a book before this one on recognition, which is called empowering employees through delegation. And it was a great book. The total sales of that book were 3,500 copies. Now with this epiphany, I had to say, well, I’m going to be part of the promotion of the book and making it happen.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 04:54   

1,001 ways to reward employees. The book that ultimately was published by that publisher has sold 2 million copies, 250, 3,500 copies, 2 million copies. What’s different about these two things? Well, the one thing that’s different was, was me and my take on this, that, that I wasn’t gonna let some publisher, any publisher just say, well, we’re, you know, we put in our catalog, no one’s buying it. I wouldn’t, they agreed to do this book. I’d sent them a 60-page single-space letter with a one-line cover letter that said, this is what I’m going to do to promote this book. What are you going to do to meet me halfway? And they told me later, they all looked at each other, what have we unleashed? But the, I did all this thing I dug in and then they dug into because it’s all, I was digging in and, and together we made it happen.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 05:48   

Well obviously, you are, you are pretty darn committed to your book. They weren’t accustomed to people that took that approach. Commit to the book because committed to the topic because topic works and there are not that many things in life that, that work, that is, that are simple and work. If people putting them into practice, it’s not going to work if you don’t put it in practice. There’s the fact that to say we don’t have time for that. It’s not gonna work for you if you don’t do it. So, my, my focus shifted to how do I get people in the game? How do I get leaders and managers and companies in the game? And I’ve been doing that ever since.

Brad Wolff: 06:23            

Awesome. So clearly, you’re excited about what you do. What is it about what you do that brings you so much joy and excitement? Dr. Bob?

Dr. Bob Nelson: 06:34   

Well, I personally gained this, like I said, showing someone a proven principle that will work for them. Getting them to see, see that and believe it, and to try it and have it work. That does it for me every time. But also, for me personally, I love the idea of I can make it happen any given day. Every, every day. I don’t, no one’s paying me a paycheck. I’ve gotta earn my paycheck every, every day. And as a result, I earned. I don’t know, I’d probably earn 10 times. Why would I make as a salary from someone as there’s no one to put a limit on what I can do or how much I can make. So that’s very freeing. It’s frightened into a lot of other people though. I’ve learned there, I got to have a job. I got to have some, a steady paycheck. So that I go, I don’t have a steady paycheck, but let me try it. You get a few hundred thousand dollars royalty checks, you know, worry about a paycheck.

Brad Wolff: 07:34            

I was gonna say, yeah, well there. So yeah. Well if I don’t, if I wish, if I had the royalty checks you had, you know that. You know that story.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 07:41   

That’s funny. I see my wife’s mom, she’s, you know, she said she was talking with, well Bob got lucky with that book. My wife didn’t miss it. Miss you guys live luck had nothing to do with it. Mom luck had nothing to do with it. Bob goes out there every day swinging.

Brad Wolff: 08:00            

Well, you know what, I love the outside looking in when someone’s been doing something for years and just pounding away and you know, little by little, as soon as they make it, wow. Their timing was good, and they got lucky and I heard how it works.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 08:13

Yeah, I heard a, was it’s Lewis M O famous singer, and he thinks that the crowd, he said, we’d like to, we’d like to thank everyone that supported us over the last 20 years before we became an overnight success. Yeah. I think that’s the notice in the new Lewis. Yeah, he said that it was, it was great. Yeah.

Brad Wolff: 08:33            

That’s a normal cause people because people didn’t know who we were. They think when they found out about us that somehow, we just appeared. That’s just because they didn’t know what we were doing before

Dr. Bob Nelson: 08:43   

And how many, how you know, before the Beatles came to America, you know how many concerts they did in England, 1100 1100

Brad Wolff: 08:53            

If it weren’t for all those concerts, in the beginning, they probably weren’t even that good. They wouldn’t have, they wouldn’t have become that good.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 09:00   

You know, Michael Jackson on before we went on tour. You know how many times he would practice through the routine, every single step where he’s going to stand, how he’s going to turn away as good in the next a hundred times. Absolutely. Exactly. 100 times before we ever do it live. There are no accidents in those people

Brad Wolff: 09:20            

Work their tails off.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 09:23

Even Steve Jobs, Steve jobs, you know, he used to present, and he would, you know, hold up an envelope and pull out the iPad in front of it. It all looked very spontaneous, dozens and dozens of time. She’d walk through all the bushes where he is. We’re going to stand the point. He’ll emphasize nothing left to the Magination because he knew it was important to get it right.

Brad Wolff: 09:47            

And yeah, and that’s absolutely the case. So, based on what your, based on your experience, what do you see as the keys for leaders to truly build cultures of engagement that drive their company results in way out from what they would have been?

Dr. Bob Nelson: 10:05   

Well, I think the key is that the micro-level of the role of each leader in the organization, that they’ve gotta be someone that that takes the people that work for them at heart to want to get to know them and to help them succeed. If that, if they get that going for them, then they can harness that power of the whole group and drive it towards the organization’s mission and objectives. There’s no doubt about it.

Brad Wolff: 10:29            

So, I want to emphasize a word that you used or a phrase you used, take it to heart. Can you expand a little bit on that, Dr. Bob?

Dr. Bob Nelson: 10:39   

Yes. You must. You must see that, that the power of your success is going to lie in your ability to influence and inspire others. So, you got to get out of yourself and out of your own head and you’ve got to get focused on other people. And then if they’re working for you, you are the most important person to them in there. Yeah. At work you. And so, you’ve gotta be positive and you’ve gotta be proactive and you’ve got to be forward-looking all the time. And so and so when, when you come to work, if you know, make a beeline for you, your office and staring at the carpet and slam the door, just like that, you set the tone for the day, bosses in a bad mood and it’s going to ruin their day too. So, you just, I know managers that before they walk into their building, they will stop and think what they’re, what’s on their mind, what they’re worried about.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 11:27   

If it’s something important, I’ll take out a piece of paper to write it down, so they don’t forget. And essentially they clear their head because when they step in the building where they work, they’re stepping on stage and the audience are playing too, day in and day out are the people that work for them, people they work with and they’ve got, they’ve got show that they’re there for them so that then the employees can then return the favor. That’s a that’s a very simple thing in it. But it’s amazing that when, when I have a group, I often do an exercise to bring that alive. And, and in a two-minute exercise, everyone gets up. Okay, see how many people we can be in the room in bed you feel. But if you’re in a bad mood and people kind of rumble around that, stop.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 12:08   

Okay everyone, keep meeting people. Make this one. Change your behavior. Pretend that each person in me stills quickly as you can, is a long-lost friend you haven’t seen in 20 years. And the room, the room explodes, the energy goes up, the volume, there’s hugging and whatnot. And then let’s debrief that two-minute exercise. It says what you should be doing as a leader every day. You’ve got to be connecting with people. You’ve gotta be giving them the possibilities. You gotta, you gotta show them that you’ve got their best interests at heart.

And if you do that, they’re going to want to pay you back. And in tenfold is what comes down to. I had; I did that in one in Sacramento. I had this; this guy came up to me. He was, he owned a deli. He said you know what you’re saying is so dead on. When I opened my deli 20 years ago, I challenged my staff to say, if you treat everyone that walks in that front door like their favorite aunt or favorite uncle, I will make up the difference in Andy tips. You don’t get under 20% I’ll make up the difference to give you 20% he said in 20 years he had to do that one.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 13:15   

This is, this is this works. It works. And then why did you, how come only once because as people treat him like, oh good to see you. Yeah, Gary, right? Gary and Mary, good to have you back. Guess what? They could come next time with their best friends because they know me here. They love us. I go, man, I gotta go to a sushi restaurant. Let me tell ya. From, and my wife’s going back 15 years, they knew our names from going there. One time they addressed this by name. Now they’ve got it. Now they’ve got sushi roll named after me. It, Dr. Bob Rowley. Oh, my goodness. Everyone. I know I take it there. Yeah. It’s just, it’s a, it’s wonderful. And that’s the way life should be. That’s certainly, that’s the way he works. Should be completely investment

Brad Wolff: 14:04            

Make, it’s not a choice that only some people can make, but I don’t think we’re conditioned to make that choice. We’re conditioned in a very different way. I wonder if you can speak a little bit about how, the way most of us are conditioned influences the way we engage and relate to others.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 14:21   

Well, they are all our behavior follows our beliefs. So if you believe, if you’ve got a negative view on the world and people are out to get ya, and there’s cynicism and don’t start me with politics and it’s pretty easy to get negative, negative view of the world and then a, everyone’s out for themselves. And I got, I gotta, you know, I gotta be crushed them to in order to whip in, you know, then yeah, you’re going to, you’re going to define that reality in anything you do and you’re not going to be a, a Lauren’s going to work for because you’re in bed, you’re gonna be the person that takes credit for their ideas and it’s not it be a surprise and a, it’s going to be, it could be. You have a, you can have a higher turnover if you even make it in the job, which you probably won’t.

Brad Wolff: 15:06            

So, what now, what would you say would be helpful for leaders that have been conditioned in that zero-sum game? Fear. What if you get more than I’m going to get less? What do you say to help those people realize that the opposite?

Dr. Bob Nelson: 15:24   

It’s true. What I tried to do is I try to take a lead with the research and the evidence and say, this is what employees want today. This is, you take, for example, a millennial, youngest generation, the largest generation in the workplace today. I was on a CBS 60 minutes talking about them and when they would, when they called, I said, you sure he got the right guy. I’m not a millennial. They said, we’re positive. We’ve got the right guy. Because from their research they said one of the defining characteristics of the generation is they expect to be recognized daily. This is the trophy generation, right? And instead of one one’s, everyone’s a winner. I’m the, I’m the guru of, thank you. I’m the King of rewards. So, you’re the guy. And so, okay. So sorry. I tried to start with the evidence and the research and saying, this isn’t me saying this is what’s, this is what’s out there.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 16:16   

And it’s probably true in your own environment if you take the time to, to check it out and find it out. So, worst comes to worst, try some of these things. And if they don’t work, then don’t do them. But if they do work, maybe I’ve opened your eyes to something. And so, like the books decide, as I said about the first time you meet someone, for a lot of people that will, that will trigger them to say, wow, that was different and maybe I could be more like that. Or we’re often, I often, when I talk about the topic, I’ll often you know, adventure to the topic of, of, of raising children. You know, because most people are our parents and I’ll say, well, this works. We know this works with your employees, but it works in, in all aspects of your life.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 16:57   

Anyone works with your spouse; it works with your kids. When’s the last time w what did you do to get your kids to clean their room? You nag them. How’s that working for you? Okay. What if you caught him doing it right? Well, they never and never cleaned the room. What did you with the time they carried folded laundry to their room, you noticed that you, you praise progress towards the end goal? Wow. I know, I know it’s going to happen. And then the kid is like, Oh, well this wasn’t that, that harder to do and wow, it really means a lot to you. I could do that again. I know I’ve got a relative that that got a three-year-old to start emptying the dishwasher, you know, his mom do it and then one day to do his own.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 17:39   

And they, Jimmy, that was great. Yeah, it does it every day now. It’s like we’re, we’re all, we’re all creatures of habit. And if you were drawn pause of consequences in those people that provide them and we shy away from negative consequences and speaking, provide those. So be the type of person in someone’s life, whether it’s your employee or your boss, your boss needs good news too. When’s the last time you praise your manager, right? A, certainly your spouse, your kids, this is true in all aspects of life. If you lead with the positive, you’ll, you’ll get back in spades more from that person. And yet most managers and you know, Ken Blanchard I worked for 10 years, she used to say the, that a positive, negative or no consequences. Most managers, the way they manage, he called the leave alone. Zap.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 18:27   

We, we’re not gonna give you any information. We’re, I could tell you what to do, right. But if you do it wrong, we’re going to let you know right away, you know, and leave alone. Zap, leave alone, zap. And that’s for most, most employees, only time of the year from their bosses when they made a mistake, they never hear it. And then they want to avoid their bosses as much as possible or spend their time making sure that they’re covering their ass so that something goes wrong, that they can’t be blamed. You know, this has spent all their time being defensive and hated that. That’s the thing that’s amazing as a man.

Exactly. That did not happen because of what they did. And they doubled down and say, you know, it’s hard getting good workers now and this employee is just no damn good. And I got to take their work back and do it for them because they always get it wrong and well that’s the first, second time you do that, I’m not even going to try, cause you could take it back anyways. So here it is.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 19:17   

Do it yourself. Exactly. So, so their actions are proving their own beliefs in their head. And so, they don’t see how those beliefs are working against them. So I try to re reconfigure their beliefs and get them to speak another possibility at least to try it out, you know, and because a lot of times, once they, once they see the light, then that’s the first step and then they could do a second step and then it has, it can have a lot of power. So, if you get them, that happens. That’s true in any relationship, honestly. And I, I, I mentioned that I was at a conference and someone came running over to me. They saw me and they said, your book helped saved my marriage and said, what are you talking about as well? I was taking me, as my spouse for granted and he got me to, to see that I was doing that.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 20:06   

If you, if people are important to you in your life, you need to show it and your relationship, if you take them for granted, the people there that are most important to you aren’t going to be there for you when you need them because you’ve taken for granted so long. And, and I, and you know, I, I find that a lot of people, myself included, it’s very easy to end up giving, you know, your loved ones, the dregs of what you have left over after you JAG home from work and you’re burnt out and you’re in, you’re tired and, and what’s for dinner? You know, it’s like, well, let’s, let’s, how about saying, Hey, let’s go out. How about I brought the, I picked something up on the way home. Hey, no, there’s on me. It’s not that hard to do that if you, if you at least a start with a thought, you know,

Brad Wolff: 20:51            

It’s like, it’s like living, it’s like treating other people with an attitude of gratitude is basically what I’m hearing. Exactly. And if you go through life grateful, you just get more of what you’re grateful for. In general. It’s a fact. How did we get people to stay in it? And it’s scientifically based. It isn’t. It. That’s a nice thing. It isn’t just a theory. It’s been,

Dr. Bob Nelson: 21:10   

I mentioned positive, negative, no or no. A consequences is what you get to any behavior. The rule of thumb research shows is positive has four times the power of the, of the consequences. Gallup organization, a couple of years ago, they came out with their research on the topic six times a power. A positive consequence has six times a power of a negative or no consequence in shaping desired behavior results.

Stephen Covey used to talk about seven times the power. And this is partly true because in the age we’re in the high tech fast moving age constantly that changing age that, that we, we are more craving the stability of, of a strong relationship, the, the feeling valued and noticed in our, our, our alienated environment of high tech. You know, so I, you know, John Nesbitt and his book, 1983 mega trends from his research showing the biggest trends shaping our future and now we’re here was that the more high tech we become, the more high touch we crave.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 22:15   

And that’s where we are today. And that’s partly why this topic is especially important in our high tech, fast moving elderly and needed age where everyone spends 80% of their time at a screw on the screen. Whether it’s what we’re doing right now or TV or, or their, their cell phone, you know, it’s where we’re going. We’re in zombie land and everyone’s like walking around, staring at their phone, talk to them. This is missing your restaurant looking around though. There’ll be two people having dinner together to booze on their cell phone. And I’ve been with the person who did this right.

Brad Wolff: 22:49            

Probably texts each other. What are you going to get? Exactly. Exactly. So our, so it sounds like when someone makes the effort for a sincere personal appreciation, it stands out more because it’s less cause we get less of it because what I, what I take out here, there’s even more value in it now because it’s still,

Dr. Bob Nelson: 23:10   

And then, and if it wasn’t, if that was a fluke, then they’re, they’re kinda trying to understand it and, and you know, they’re the, maybe the person has a terminal illness or something, you know, I don’t know. But if it happens again and they see, well that’s who you are then wow. Then they dropped their garden. They’re there to do anything for you. You know, I had, I remember a, I mentioned, I worked with Kimberly answer for 10 years and I was his chief of staff and as a co, a co-writer and whatnot. But I remember I was with them very closely. So, I’d be with him. He’s packing for trips and w with him when he’s unpacking and he’s going on this one trip worldwide trip. He has gone for like three months and, and he’s always checking in with me about my family and my career and he encouraged me to do my PhD and whatnot.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 23:59   

And I remember, you know, ask him about my son Danny who had that time when he was three years old. Yeah. And say, oh yeah, Dan is really into trains. It’s, it’s funny cause he’s just all about trains. And so, cam goes off on this trip, he’s gone three months, he comes back, I’m with him, he’s got a whole time. He’s got one bag. I don’t know how he does this one bag and I’m with him. He was unpacking and darn if it’s in the middle of that, he pulls out this little wooden train and he goes for Danny and it picks up in Zurich for 10 bucks.

Now I’m fine. But just like God fact that he would have even remembered and thought of doing that is exactly I do. I do anything for this guy. You know, he’s shown to his behaviors, not to his words, through his behaviors. They have my best interest at heart and then in my family that my career, why would I want to go someplace else? You know? And, and so it was,

Brad Wolff: 24:48            

And these, these, these principles are transferable for all of us. They don’t just work for Ken Blanchard or something.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 24:54   

The city, they do not just work for Ken Blanchard. They, I work for anyone in any relationship and guaranteed. And then if you have a team that works there as well and effecting the book, I did 1,001 ways to reward employees, which now I was in a re-expanded edition 1,501 ways to reward employees. Yeah. I started to get 28 chapters started with no cost items because if there’s no cost and there’s certainly, there’s no objection to doing it right. So low costs, the team-based to, you know around certain themes like safety or attendance, whatever on up to organizational type things, 28 categories, all real-life examples of things that are being done right now. And I named the companies, I named the people. We’re possible, I name the results they got, but it’s very, very real if you open your eyes to it. So, a lot of managers have just been oblivious or theirs, they get so busy and focused on

Brad Wolff: 25:48            

Say if they really, if they were aware of it, they would, they would change. So

Dr. Bob Nelson: 25:52   

If they’re aware of it, not, but most people have heard that. Yeah, I know it’s well. But awareness, you gotta treat people, right? Yeah. Yeah. I like I’ll, I’ll talk to managers and go, Oh yeah, I’m good at this. I’m all over. Okay, great. And I’ll go talk to their people. And after five minutes, an employee of theirs will say, are we talking about the same person? Because he never does this. He did when he started in the job seven years ago. He did, he brought in donuts once. But he never does this until this is, it’s the knowing, doing gap. So, people know that. Yeah. People, I know people, employee. My employees are important. I know that’s true. And so, I must be doing it because I know I did it. The things that are, you know, but you’re not doing it.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 26:32   

Yeah. So, there’s a knowing, doing gap, what we know, thinking that we get credit, but we get no credit for knowing and not doing. Oh, you say, because, Oh, this is simple. I can do this. I know you can do it. I’m not here to say, can you do it? I already know you could do it. I’m here to say, will you do it? What’s your evidence? You’re going to do it. How are you going to hold yourself accountable to make sure you do it? You can have a buddy system. You could use your calendar. You’re going to, you’re going to, before you go home each night. I had a week where the CEO is the president of a, a restaurant chain, and he said, bye, bye. I know this is important. We all know it’s important to how you treat your employees.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 27:07   

But, but I’m busy. Yeah. I don’t, I don’t even know what time I’m going home. You know, it’s often nine or 10 or later, and I just don’t have time. And he said, I said that for years before one day I said, if people are my most important, asked it, I don’t have time not to do this. And on that day he made a commitment that at the end of each day, before he went home, whether it was six or seven or nine or 10:00 PM, he would take a couple minutes, reflect on the day and whose performance stood out, who suggested an idea, who served as a client who helped a coworker without being asked and jot them a note, a couple of notes, and he’d put it on their desk and he could go home. And he said, wow. I started doing that. And he got instant results from it that people thanked him, and they’d post his notes and it spoke to them.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 27:57   

And so, then he saw the power of it. And so, he made sure to do it every day. And it became like clockwork became private as behavioral repertoire. And now it’s part of what it means to work for that person or any of the powerful. So, when they work with you, they realize CEO stands for chief engagement officer. There you go. Yep. That’s the, that’s the, the real tacos. And if they do it, if they do it, then no one that works for them has the excuse not to do it. It’s as busy as the CDO does, is that they’re doing some of this. I’ve got no reason not to do it. I picked fact as working with an insurance company. I was talking to, you know, the 230 senior leaders of this insurance company. And their CEO told me on a break, he goes, Oh, you know what you’re saying is dead on?

Dr. Bob Nelson: 28:45   

No, I wrote a note to someone out in the field about something they had done, and I was out there, you know, a few months later. And I was like shocked and surprised to see my note in front of her workstation. And I said, Mary, what’s, what’s, what’s this? What, why is this here? So, I’ll Mr. Johnson, I, I got that it just made my day. I got that. And I didn’t even know that, that you knew as the project I was working on, let alone to thank me for having done such a great job. It’s every day it uplifts me, I’m feeling bad. I read over that note again and he said, I had no idea the power of this. And, and so here’s the senior leader, he’s telling me this and I’m teaching a class on this as people. I said, well, you got to tell your people this.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 29:27   

They go, oh no, I don’t want to do that. So, I said, well, I’m going to tell it. So, we got back to the other 230 of his vice presidents and stuff and I said, that was kind of interesting story. And I started telling the story and I, and I purposely kind of stumbled on it. Mr. Johnson fill in the details. Well, yeah, so that he could tell the story and you could hear a pin drop. And I said, gee, if, if you’ve got time to do this, does anyone here have an excuse not to? That’s not. You know, so you gotta, you gotta crack the ice, however you can. You got to get culture. Leadership drives culture, culture drives engagement. You can get a culture by people at the top setting the example. Yes. Now that’s a challenge too because then a lot of people say, well as soon as our CEO is on board, then we’ll make this happen.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 30:15   

And then that may not ever happen. So, you gotta, you gotta start where you can and have it bubble up. I was speaking in in Seattle to 800 people and there’s this woman in the front row. I go, you look familiar. Cause yeah, I heard you speak five weeks ago when I was there. And she goes, I had to come back and tell you what happened. I go, well what happened? She goes, well, I left the room. I had seven pages of notes from hearing you talk. And I said, I had one, one, one thing in mind when I left. I’m doing this. I’m not going to go back and ask for permission. I’m going to do this in my sphere of influence in my departments. And I said, well, like what did you do? And I, I love the fact that all the things you did, none of them I, I said per se, that means she got the essence of it is she ran with it.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 31:01   

So, she said, well, we had a, we had a fun, a fun committee that had five people in it. It was anonymous. No one knew who any of them were, but anyone could say it’s time to do something. Morale, slumping. I go, well, what types of things? Well, we had downtown Seattle. We had a picnic up on the roof of the building or, or we, we swapped, we traded meeting, we had meeting rooms and we traded meeting space with the, the company on the next block over. They had a limo company. They didn’t have me in space. We gave a meeting space. They gave us limo rides we can give to people and just being creative and having fun. And after a couple of weeks she said, people started saying, what’s going on in your area? Your people are so excited to come to the next meeting. This have a joint meeting now.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 31:44   

And its kind of bubbled up. And she got asked to, to could you make that happen for the whole facility? And I wrote it up as the best practice, you know, external validation. And fast forward, 18 months later, that company, a law firm, Perkins coy out of Seattle, entered the best place to work. Could the American number 23, I would say from one person in the middle of the organization, she was the manager in the finance department. She was not on top. You got a bubble in the top, but one person converted that culture and the people from the top, you’ve got to give him credit. They didn’t reject it. They saw what was going on and they embraced it, it sounds like. Well, and that’s because it, you get results and then you show them the results. So, don’t, so don’t do this because there’ll be fun here and it’ll be, we’ll let you know.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 32:32   

People like it. We’ll want to work. People aren’t going to work. All they’re gonna wanna do is play. Yeah, there you go. You gotta talk, you gotta talk the language, reprimands. You guys say this is how it’s, this is how we’re going to bet this is going to drive our performance and our goals. This is how we’re going to save money from not having a, by lowering our turnover because people aren’t going to lead because they like working here X in, which makes us an easier place to attract talent. You take a company like Zappos, I’ve worked with Dan, we’ll have to put out an ad for, for jobs. They’ve got so many people lined up to one of the works there cause everyone that works there, everyone that knows him wants to work there. What a great company and that, and likewise with Southwest airlines, Southwest airlines is, is more restrictive in their hiring and admissions for Harvard University.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 33:19   

Incredible. Because? Because why? Because it’s a fun place to work. Is it not? Is it just, that’s funny, isn’t it? It’s this. No, it’s not just having fun. It’s like they, they allow people to be who they are and if it’s fun, then it works. And they, lot of people don’t know that. I mean, this is why the, they’d have the most unprecedented track record for profits for one thing in the airline industry, but also, they’re able to pay their people better because they’re more successful. They have better benefits than other airlines, which then keeps the wheel turning more and more. So, you know, this works, but it impacts the bottom line. And as you make that case to upper management, yeah, whatever you’re doing, do more of it because it’s working. So,

Brad Wolff: 34:00            

Yeah. So, there’s no question the evidence is there and the evidence has been there. What I’m curious about is when managers, leaders embrace this philosophy in their lives, how do you see it impacting their own personal growth and development?

Dr. Bob Nelson: 34:17   

Well, yeah. If you can’t improve one part of your life and I have   it impact all aspects of your life so that if you, if you become a better leader, then you’re going to be a better father. You can be a better spouse. It just goes through the territory. You improve any area of your life and it improves all aspects of your life is, what would I say?

Brad Wolff: 34:38            

So, it’s, it’s gonna, it’s gonna. It’s gonna expand out in terms of what you are, who you are, what you’re like as a human being.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 34:45   

Yeah. I can give you an example. Like I’m, I’m good friends with Marshall Goldsmith. He’s a number one ranked executive coach in the world. And, and he was telling me about a client, he said, and he works with CEOs, you know, that. And he had a, a CTO that said, you know, Oh, you know, it’s gonna feedback on this style and how it was off putting the people who’s going to and whatnot. And he goes, well, you know, that’s because I’m at work. I got gotta take things seriously at, at home.

I’m a different person. I’m a much more, he goes, Oh, really? What’s your, what’s your wife’s numbered? He calls up the wife and he get this drill. I’m out here with your husband. He says that at home, he’s a loving, and it started laughing. He goes, Oh, how about your kids? Give me your kids number. He calls up the kids in front of them and with your dad, he says, he says, I work, he’s an ass a little bit at home. He’s a loving, caring person. They start laughing. You’re the same person wherever you are. Yeah.

Brad Wolff: 35:41            

It’s funny when people think that somehow, we morph into a different character

Dr. Bob Nelson: 35:46   

And maybe they’re making that that trigger in their head because now I’m with someone I love, so I must be treating them better because

Brad Wolff: 35:52            

The person was lacking self-awareness. It sounds like they just did. They just didn’t realize it. They assumed that there are different

Dr. Bob Nelson: 35:58   

A person. Yeah. Yeah. It’s true for all of us. I’m, I’m my a, you know, I’ve had my own journey on this topic. I remember my, my wife is early in my careers and you know, and I was late for something, you know, and she was waiting the whatever it was, go out to dinner or a movie or something. And she said, Bob, I just like you to treat me at least as well as you would treat a business associate. And I’m going, Oh honey, no, no, no. You’re much more important to me. Your behaviors not showing that. And it was, it was a wakeup call. It was food for thought that if the people that are most important to you, I did treat them like they’re important to you or did they get the dregs of what you have to offer? And

Brad Wolff: 36:38            

I guess the people that were club, the people we’re closest to often we feel like we don’t need to, we feel like they just get it. And which is as a human being, we don’t just get it. We need reinforcement

Dr. Bob Nelson: 36:47   

And we rationalize it. Well. I’m bringing home the finances or whatever. I provide this house for us to live in. So that should be worth something, you know?

Brad Wolff: 36:58            

Exactly. But it doesn’t really work that way because we’re emotional creatures and our psychology doesn’t factor those things in when we’re not getting what we want. Exactly. So, Dr. Bob, this is extremely helpful and it’s what I like about it is it’s practical. I’ve got an employee that’s a little bit exuberant right now, so you can, you can hear love to share with a few and share with the audience some of your books because I think it’s very practical and it’s, my guess is it’s probably pretty fun to read too.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 37:33   

So all my books are, are, are positive and they’re practical and you can open them anywhere and have usable ideas that, that, that you can put into motion. So I’ve, the, the one I mentioned at 1,001 ways to reward employees is now 1,501 ways to reward employees. It’s in the 64th printing and it’s available on my website or Amazon or most bookstores. But my, my latest and I’ve, I’ve keep doing different books that tried to focus on this type of topic of how to, how to best lead people is 1,001 ways to engage employees. I’ve done a thousand ways to energize employees, a thousand ways to take initiative at work.

Brad Wolff: 38:16            

So you’ve got something about the number thousand and one, let’s just say, yeah, you’ve got a little bit of a life to love for that number.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 38:23   

I’ve done that. I’ve done a few a the dummies books, managing for dummies consulting for dummies, I last one who was recognized and engaging employees for dummies. And then the publisher has come to me to task to write those. So and I do these things. You’re not going to be a dummy. That’s the no, people love or hate the, that series of books. But it really is, it takes concepts to their basic level and then, and that writing is, is kinda tongue in cheek.

So it’s, it’s kinda fun, but it’s a, they’re very comprehensive book books. They take a lot of work to, so believe me, I do. I do know how, how much work is involved in writing a decent book. So, and a good book takes even more. So Dr. Bobby, I want to express my gratitude for you taking time out of your busy day and sharing your practical wisdom that quite frankly anyone can listen to this and they can start running with it and there isn’t anything sophisticated that they need some certification or training to do.

Dr. Bob Nelson: 39:26   

I don’t believe. Nope, you’re right. You just all starts the awareness and then try one thing, see how it goes or, or, or ask your, your, your employees or have a conversation to say, I heard this guy talk on this topic of recognition 80. He said, which I haven’t mentioned this 85% of employees. So, they right now they feel overworked and underappreciated. And it got me thinking, are we doing enough to recognize our group on things that are going well? Yeah, it says that we’re not Dr. Bob.

This is hopefully this is going to lead to some people reevaluating, just making some simple little changes and experiment and see where it all starts first step forward. Be skeptical, but, but give it a sincere try and see what happens. Exactly.

Thank you so much for taking the time and I really appreciate it. Anytime. Absolutely.