Chris Tuff: Finding Significance by Redefining Success #31

Warwick Fairfax

August 11, 2020

His big-deal career and its big-money perks left him unsatisfied. So he stopped seeing success as outperforming others and started serving others. Today he’s the best-selling author of The Millennial Whisperer and making a lasting impact on the leaders of tomorrow.

 

To learn more about Chris Tuff, visit www.22squared.com

 

To learn more about Crucible Leadership, visit www.CrucibleLeadership/com

Highlights

  • When he hit rock bottom in his pursuit of success (4:42)
  • Discovering what it meant to have true impact (5:54)
  • What younger workers crave in their bosses (8:41)
  • The false lure of status (13:37)
  • How shifting his definition of success changed his life (19:34)
  • When success itself becomes a crucible (20:08)
  • Why significance satisfies (23:05)
  • The life purpose he discovered (25:25)
  • What millennials find most important in leaders (27:57)
  • The 70-30 rule wise leaders tell their millennial employees (31:48)
  • What connection at work really means to millennials (32:51)
  • How to be the transparent leader millennials need (35:48)
  • Key episode takeaways (43:54)

Transcript

Gary S:

Welcome everybody to this episode of Beyond the Crucible. I’m Gary Schneeberger, the co-host of the podcast, and the communications director for Crucible Leadership. And, you have clicked play. We really hope you’ve clicked subscribe and then maybe you’ve shared with folks on a podcast that deals in what we call crucible experiences, those moments in life most of us if we’re honest with ourselves know all too well. They’re painful, they can come out of nowhere sometimes, they are failures, they’re setbacks. They are those things that knock us off balance, can knock us off the trajectory of the life that we’re on.

Gary S:

But we talk about them here not to sort of wallow in the pain of them. We examine the pain of them, but we talk about them here as the title suggests, to help you move beyond them. And, the reason for doing that is that we believe that beyond those crucibles can be some of your best living, where you can truly find a life of significance. And with me as always, is the architect of Crucible Leadership without whom we would not have a Beyond the Crucible podcast, the host of the show, Warwick Fairfax.

Warwick F:

Thanks, Gary, very much looking forward to it.

Gary S:

And our guest today Warwick, is Chris Tuff, which is a fabulous last name. I’m very jealous Chris, about your last name. Tuff is an awesome last name. Chris Tuff, is the author of the USA today bestseller The Millennial Whisperer. In his book, Chris offers research based time tested strategies for bridging communication gaps between millennials and the rest of the workforce. Millennials are on track to make up three quarters of the workforce by 2030.

Gary S:

With that being true, it’s crucial for employers to harness the strengths of this generation and help develop strong leaders for future generations. In his book, Chris, debunks myths about millennials while providing an in depth look at generational stereotypes that do tend to be true. He shares practical real world tested solutions to better understand millennials and effectively recruit, retain, and motivate this passionate generation. Welcome Chris, and Warwick, take it away.

Warwick F:

Well, Chris, thanks so much for being here. I love what you do with millennials helping organizations understand that generation, I think it’s 20s maybe 30 somethings which is a crucial generation, and as you’ve mentioned, just is poised to be huge proportion of the workforce. I love the titles of your books, Millennial Whisper and your new one which we’ll talk about here in a bit, Save Your Asks, all about kind of networking and listening.

Gary S:

Very good work by the way, we get it right, Save Your Asks, with a KS on the end.

Chris T:

Exactly.

Warwick F:

I was trying to pronounce it correctly.

Gary S:

Bravo. Well done.

Warwick F:

Wouldn’t want people to have a different understanding of what the book is about. Obviously, saving your behind is probably not a bad idea either but that would be a different book.

Chris T:

Yeah, it would.

Warwick F:

But anyway, so Chris, tell us a bit about yourself, how you grew up, and how that led to kind of your crucible which really shifted the direction in your life.

Chris T:

Sure.

Warwick F:

But tell us a bit about who is Chris Tuff?

Chris T:

Absolutely. And, thanks so much for having me. It’s a privilege to be here. One of the big things for me is I grew up in an overachieving family, the youngest of six kids, my dad was a turnaround specialist, CEO, kind of turnaround guy. And, I say to everyone that one of the best things that my dad ever did for me was he never set me up with a job interview. And, I graduated from Vanderbilt University top of my class 2003, and it took me 64 failed interviews until I found lucky 65th which was at a digital advertising firm, right as we’re coming back from the .com bust.

Chris T:

But it was through that experience that I was able to be put into kind of this Plinko game of jobs in life that was somewhere close to my own passion and purpose. And it took a couple of lateral jobs, moves, until I became one of the first kind of early people working directly with Mark Zuckerberg and the social media, emerging media, social media kind of arena if you will. And I use that as my first… I like to call it currency, right?

Chris T:

We all have our own currencies that we put off into the world, and that was my first currency that was pretty close to my own passions and my own purpose, but that’s what brought me to my firm where I’m a partner. I’ve been there for almost 12 years now. And what happened three years ago was, on the outside I was killing it, right? Sheryl Sandberg, would have lunch with me when she was coming in town, and I was flying all over the world and hobnobbing with the who’s who, But inside I was suffering.

Chris T:

And there are two things what ended up kind of becoming my rock bottom catalyst moment. Going back to my favorite professor in college, Bryan Griffith, who actually helped me with the Millennial Whisperer, something’s always stuck with me and crisis catalyzes change. And, when I had a little bit of time to look at my life I was feeling incredibly unfulfilled. And a couple things changed in the month off that I took from work, and one of those things was my metric of success. And, my metric of success was beating my older overachieving brothers in the game of life.

Chris T:

And, I changed that to success being judged on a daily basis. When my head hits the pillow at night, “Did I have the impact that I intended?” And I can happily say three and whatever years later, that I’ve had a successful day every single day since changing that. But the other thing that I really started to shift was really having impact through people. And, it was through kind of that leadership and being that servant leader that we’re hearing more and more about, that I was not only feeling more fulfilled, but I look around me and I was like, “These millennials are awesome.”

Chris T:

I got a team of 30 of them. They’re some of the best out there. And it was actually on an executive retreat with Tommy Breedlove, he was leading the retreat, and we didn’t know each other at the time. And I introduced myself and I was like, “I don’t really know what I do anymore but we’re 390 employees, mostly millennials but I’ve kind of become the millennial whisperer.” And I shared my story, I talked about my rock bottom moment. I was very vulnerable and I sat down and Tommy looks at me with his big blue eyes and his Southern drawl, “You better write that book.” And I was like, “What book?” He goes, “The Millennial Whisperer.”

Chris T:

And it was in that moment that The Millennial Whisperer was born, and I did a pretty quick sprint to write and publish it over an eight month period. And we’re 14 months on the other side of it, and it’s brought me to stages like Nike. I’ve been on the main stage at Nike and working with some of the world’s largest and most prestigious corporations, but also small businesses. I’ve worked with some dental clinics locally as well as some restaurants, and what’s so amazing is my favorite quote from this book is, “Millennials aren’t the problem they just expose all the problems.” And, there’s a lot of things that we talk about out there but that’s kind of the journey of what took me into being a published author.

Warwick F:

Gosh, what a great story. It’s not everybody who grows up with a dad is an entrepreneur turnaround manager. Those guys tend to be very driven, very focused, take no prisoners coming through because don’t have time to wait, don’t have time to other than action, action now, was your dad kind of like that image you have of a turnaround guy.

Chris T:

And wait. So, also British. So, he… Yeah, and an old Etonian. He went to Eton. And here I am, right? I come out. I’m the youngest of six kids. I’m an identical twin. Right?

Warwick F:

Wow.

Chris T:

So, kind of struggling for my own identity, and the most emotionally in tune sensitive kid. It’s like, “Where did this kid come from?” So the juxtaposition of that, and my dad was always really interesting, and I think one of my big things out there, and I see it actually even with my bosses is there’s this constant yearning for that validation. Right?

Warwick F:

Yeah.

Chris T:

And, I think it’s actually indicative of why I wrote this book because you’re finding that from a generational standpoint. There’s a lot of similarities there and it’s important to look at that relationship of parent and child for especially the expectations of younger millennials and Gen Z-ers, because what they’re craving more than anything else is real connection with their bosses. You can’t just be the bossy boss.

Chris T:

You’ve got to also be a mentor and coach to them, and you’ve got to take that. We’ve always been brought up that you can’t be friends with your boss, right? And that line goes out the window, not always out the window but everyone on your team wants to feel like you have a vested interest in their life. So go ahead and follow them on social media, connect with them on a Monday, say, “Meg, I saw on Instagram that cat you adopted. That’s adorable. Tell me more about it.” Right?

Chris T:

That creates a real connection. And, I use my relationship with my dad is one of the examples of it is a reason why you have such a shift in the expectations of these younger workers, and we can talk more about that.

Warwick F:

Gosh, some of my listeners know I grew up in Australia and sort of almost an English Australian background, went to Oxford like my dad and a few relatives, so I’m not English but I understand the mentality and Eton, one the top private schools in England. So did he come across as, I guess, I think in England of sort of the SAS which is sort of the British equivalent of Special Forces, this kind of tough no nonsense. English people don’t do a lot of drama. They’re just quiet, resolute, here we go. Was he kind of a bit like that?

Chris T:

So, it was interesting. When he came over to the US, he found that it was incredibly more efficient than England in all their ways, and it was a lot more egalitarian, right? And, there was nothing less egalitarian than Eton where he came from.

Warwick F:

Well, yeah. That’s the top of the social spectrum. When I was in college in the late 70s, early 80s, class system was still pretty apparent. So yeah, it would have been culturally radically different here.

Chris T:

And so it was actually… It had the opposite effect to a certain extent where I hear stories when I talk to people now that he’s retired, but I’ll talk to people, they’ll be like, “Wait was your dad Tim Tuff?” And I’ll be like, “Yeah, he actually was. A lot of people don’t put it together. What was like?” They’re like, “Chris, a lot of the stuff you talk about in your book he did that. Did you know he knew every single person’s first name at Harlan? Thousands of employees and he knew everyone’s first name. Did you know that at lunch he would sit with a different group every single time?” As I was about to publish the book I sent it to him and he was like, “50% of the book I really agree with and it’s something I’ve been practicing for a while which is just good leadership.”

Warwick F:

Yeah.

Chris T:

And then he was like, “The other 50% I just don’t know well enough to have commentary on.”

Warwick F:

Okay. That is so neat to have a dad like that. And, I love the story you share that he was obviously driven, connected, and he could have connected you with stuff, but it sounds like he had almost a better path that he wanted you to achieve that success and feel that sense of validation yourself. That’s sort of amazing. I actually have three kids in their 20s and they’re all… Well, the older two are definitely millennials, the younger 22 is probably on the bubble. And by the way, millennials what is it, 22, twenty?

Chris T:

24 to 38.

Warwick F:

Okay. I hear you there. And yeah, that’s something for me to think about. I tend to want to help my kids without running their lives. I really try to be almost a more like a coach than … Whatever you want to do, as long as you love it. Try to do my best but boy your dad had a really smart idea. So fast forward a bit, you mentioned the crucibles, you got into Vanderbilt. It’s one of the toughest colleges to get into in Nashville, Tennessee. Great school, you became a partner at a very young age of a great ad agency. Is it Atlanta or…

Chris T:

Yeah, 22squared in Atlanta and in Tampa.

Warwick F:

And, you’re doing so well making all these connections but somehow you felt like you’re being successful, but is there more to life than just success? I think you mentioned work-life balance. You have two daughters.

Chris T:

Yeah. Exactly.

Warwick F:

You know young kids, they’re only young for a certain time and then they’re gone. And, you don’t want to kind of ignore that and yep, “Sorry, I missed your ballet recital, your soccer game,” whatever they’re doing, “But I’ll be at the next one.”

Chris T:

Exactly.

Warwick F:

Reminds me that haunting Cat Stevens song, Cats in the Cradle. You don’t want to be that person. I’ve always loved and hated that song in a way. I’ve tried not to be that person. Nobody wants to be that person. So talk about the shift as you shifted in your thinking of work-life balance, you shifted in your thinking about what success is, being through people not just to them. So, your thinking shifted. So, talk about that shift.

Chris T:

Yeah. I think there was also an element of just letting go of the game. Right? Growing up in a very well to do family as well. Yeah. My brothers all went to Harvard and Harvard Business School, and there was a lot of this status piece going around. And one of my favorite podcasters, Naval, has something I think really profound to say about status and it’s that status is a zero sum game.

Chris T:

And because when you’re gaining someone else is losing and in this kind of crucible moment of my own, I was able to really take the time to reflect on not only what was important to me, but what I’m driving for. And, I was able to let go of the game of life that was kind of playing all around me as well as it really was keeping up with the Jones’s to a certain extent, of the better car, the bigger house, the more lavish vacations, the private jets, all of that stuff, and I took it right down to the foundations.

Chris T:

And, I was even telling Tommy’s group for his executive retreat earlier that I was on today, that for a year I didn’t have any friends. I another big piece was I quit drinking which was kind of a component of if it was a big soup, it was like one of the main ingredients of this soup and that I knew it was an important piece and contributed to an anxiety that I wanted to take out.

Chris T:

So I quit drinking, I doubled down on my family, I changed my metric of success, and I started living a little bit more for the moment and less for the status piece. And I think it looks easy on a timeline but for a year I didn’t have friends. I legitimately had almost no friends. All of my old friends went away and then at the same moment, I turned to my wife and I was like, “You know what, I have no friends.” And she looked at me because I’m such an extrovert and she was just sad for me.

Chris T:

And I was like, “You know what, I’m really bored.” And it was one of my best friends. I was kind of confiding in him, who he was just… He was one of my newer friends. He goes, “Chris, you know boredom is just a synonym for serenity and peace, right?” I was like, “Oh, so that’s what this is.” I was even talking to amazing author Shelley Paxton, who wrote a book called Soulbbatical, which talks exactly about this.

Chris T:

The importance of finding a little bit of time to recollect yourself. And, that’s what came right after what was kind of manifested as many panic attacks and being distraught a few days in a row. I was like, “Things have got to change.” And, so I took that month off. And, these were the epiphanies that came out of the moment but also that kind of trickled through for the next year. And then I met Tommy, and that kind of is the stake in the ground to what was built off of and now become my next platform if you will.

Warwick F:

You made a really important shift in your thinking because I get it. I grew up in a wealthy high status family, and 150 year old, very large media organization, you could belong to all the exclusive clubs, Oxford, Harvard Business School, all the rest, and I wasn’t driven by status. It was more just wanting to live up to the expectations of my parents, but because my mother was very outgoing and could throw parties like you wouldn’t believe, people would come from Hollywood and they would tell their friends, “You got to go see lady Fairfax because the parties that she throws are not what you’re used to in Hollywood.” And, that’s saying something. They were pretty amazing.

Chris T:

That is saying something.

Warwick F:

We would see the … I don’t know Liberace, Kirk Douglas, some famous folks, top business leaders, and it’s like in general, are they really happy? These are successful people, business leaders, politicians, prime ministers, ambassadors, but are they happy? And you can be very successful and happy but if you’re measuring your sense of happiness by how far you’re climbing up the mountain, there’s always somebody better as I’ve said in other podcasts.

Warwick F:

In sports, we talk about the greatest of all time like at the moment, Roger Federer, maybe in tennis but he’s got a couple of folks, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, nipping at his heels. But few of us will be like, “Is it possible that you’re going to be the greatest advertising executive in history?” It’s possible but maybe not. So if your success was measured by that benchmark, there’s a high probability of failure even if you get to be number two of all time, which would be incredible.

Warwick F:

So, if you measure success by that, you’re almost doomed to fail with about 99.9% possibility as opposed to, “Well, I just want to do what I do, what I love, and let the chips fall where they lie. And I want to help people.” See your epiphany I think it’s vital both for your family, but also for your own sense of self. And, that shift was huge. I want to shift to Millennial Whisperer and your other book, but does that make sense? Does shifting how you define success?

Chris T:

It was the greatest thing and I must credit Mark Manson, who wrote The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F. He’s got a chapter about success.

Gary S:

A flip?

Chris T:

Yeah, yeah. A flip. Exactly.

Gary S:

Not giving a flip. I was just checking.

Chris T:

Exactly. But it was actually through that and he tells the story of the Drum. It’s a pretty famous story at this point but he was the drummer for Megadeth. And, the whole story behind it was he was originally in Metallica. And I’m probably botching this a little bit, but after he was kicked out of Metallica, it was right before Metallica hit it huge and he was like, “You know what, I’m going to take them on. I’m going to create something even bigger.” And he created the most amazing heavy metal band, almost as big as Metallica.

Chris T:

And if you look at any of his interviews, there’s all of this anger in him because his metric of success was beating Metallica. And so at no point was he ever able to be fulfilled, and here he was selling out stadiums, and which is nearly impossible, but yet he harnessed all of this anger because his metric of success was absolutely off. And that was really the catalyst for me. I was like, “I got to look at my metric of success. Oh, wait. It’s beating my brothers in the game of life. That’s horrible.”

Warwick F:

And they may care or they may not have cared about that. I don’t know whether there was a competition. It’s kind of crazy.

Gary S:

And before we move off of this subject, I think it’s important for the listener to hear what we’re talking about. We’ve heard a lot of crucibles, a lot of stories, a lot of tragedies, a lot of failures, a lot of setbacks, a lot of traumas, a lot of trials on Beyond the Crucible. But this crucible that Chris has gone through and other people right now are going through, some of you probably listening.

Gary S:

Strangely enough, it’s success. The crucible is success itself. And whether or not you were the kind of success you’re pursuing, how you define success, the way you define success, if you don’t define it in the proper terms for your life and your family and the balance of those things, can be a crucible in and of itself. Is that a fair assessment of where you found yourself Chris?

Chris T:

100 percent. And one thing that’s interesting, I went and saw the number one psychiatrist in the nation. And, I’m not going to name names but he’s pretty well known. And he brought me through all these analyses because I’m like, “What is going on with me?” And he was like, “Chris.” And, at this point we got a pretty good relationship. He turns to me, he was like, “Do you want the good news or the bad news?”

Chris T:

I was like, “Bad news always first.” He goes, “Well, I don’t have that much of it. But the bad news is that your rock bottom is most people’s mid-point. Here’s the good news. Unlike some other family history and stuff, from a chemical standpoint you’re really good. And one of the things that I have to employ and I’ve never told anyone this is that, do two things for me. Don’t do drugs or alcohol because that’s just going to take away from your enthusiasm and your joie de vivre. And two, go give back to the world because what you have is something special.

Chris T:

“And, it is your duty to take all of this enthusiasm and this optimism that you have even at your lowest point right now, to give go off and do that to the world, and obviously I was like, “All right, I can’t wait to tell my wife this result.” And I told her and she’s like, “Yeah. No, it’s absolutely right.” So I think, yes, it’s all of those things but also there are a few other elements that I think everyone’s low points are different. Right? And sometimes it doesn’t take that ultimate, that crisis, I don’t think to catalyze that change. But I think it does take sometimes a period of strife that if you’re to look on a timeline, it is a crisis in your life. So…

Warwick F:

Yeah. I think one of the things we often say in Crucible Leadership is you can’t compare crises. Somebody might have lost a loved one, or we interviewed a navy seal that kind of was paralyzed in a parachuting acccident. There’s a lot of different crucibles. And those people will say, who’ve been through much worse crucibles than I have, they’ll say, “You can’t compare crucibles. Every crucible is just as valid as every other one.” And that’s them saying it not me. And I think it’s so true.

Warwick F:

But I think one of the keys before we shift to the books you’ve written and Millennial Whisperer, is everybody wants joy and fulfillment. Everybody wants happiness. And striving for success in and of itself is not the way there and what, you’ve found, I’ve found, I think a number of our guests have found, is significance when you focus on a life on purpose helping others, that does satisfy.

Warwick F:

You do something for somebody and it changes their life even in a small way, you feel good about yourself. We’re just wired that way. So, there is one path in which we can say with a high degree of certainty, you want to feel fulfilled in life, think of others, give back. There is a path where there is hope. So…

Gary S:

And I want us to get on the on ramp to you talking about your books and talking about how you’ve experienced that Chris, by reading something from your book, The Millennial Whisperer, because I think that’ll get us there. This impressed me so much. Listen listener to how Chris, found what success really looks like for him. This is just three paragraphs from The Millennial Whisperer.

Gary S:

“With each passing day, they his team rewarded me with production and loyalty crushing goals and all the key performance indicators we could throw at them. Yes, these millennials. It was almost as if the second I relinquished any desire to be perceived as the more traditional hero style of leader, it unleashed something powerful and almost unstoppable in them. You know that guy who sweeps in and saves the day and solves all the problems in the workplace, that’s the hero leader. That’s who I tried to be for the first 13 years of my career. That’s what almost took me out.”

Gary S:

“Instead, I made my millennial employees the heroes and assumed the role of the guide and coach that caused me to shift to equipping them rather than to trying to make them all clones of me.” That really as you talk about changing your definition of success to doing things, not to people, toward people, but through people, that seems to summarize that pretty well to me.

Chris T:

Yeah. And it sounds a lot better when you say it than when I read it. Right now I think it’s absolutely true. And going down to my own purpose, my purpose, and it has been this stated for the last seven years, even before my kind of crucible moment, and it’s to inspire and connect. And everything that I’ve done has kind of followed that stake in the ground. And so, one of the key things that was important for me was, once again, shifting the metric of success and having impact through people.

Chris T:

It’s interesting as you look at the needs and wants of this next generation, you’ve got to look at what makes them the way they are. And my favorite thing when I go into some of these corporations and I talk to these, usually it’s around the 45 to 55 year old executive. And they say, “Chris, why in the hell did these kids show up on my doorstep at 24 years old and they don’t even know how to communicate?”

Chris T:

And they go on this long rant. And I said, “Well, there is a reason for it. And, the reason is because it was really your generation that parented them.” And because there’s a lot of whether it be participation trophies, snowplow parenting. I’ve had parents come in and try to negotiate their kid’s salary. I’ve got time and time again, all of these examples of how these kids have just been, snowplowed parented through a lot of their formative years. And, it’s also why I use the example to help inspire and a lot of these other parents don’t give your kids job interviews.

Chris T:

Don’t set them up because it’s just going to get them on the wrong track and 10 years later they’re going to be a lawyer, and completely unfulfilled because that’s where your connections were. So let it happen with natural selection. And so one of the other pieces is you’ve got to also look at that kind of relationship. And the two key pieces that if anyone can walk away from how they can approach either their millennial children, and Gen Z children differently, or their employees, and the two biggest things of what they’re craving is connection and context.

Chris T:

And that connection piece, they want to see that you take a vested interest in their life. And that’s why certain things like rewards and recognition are so important to them. They were rewarded and recognized all the way through when they show up at an organization, they expect a certain amount of that. You can do it too much but you got to have some component there of building them up.

Chris T:

But then it’s also if you take the four leadership characteristics of what they find most important. Number one is inspirational leadership, two is transparency, three is authenticity. And that unto itself is really where I like to kind of talk about, “Let’s focus really the things that we can do as leaders to be better leaders, and then the culture piece will be a byproduct of that.” So, I can go any which way…

Warwick F:

Yeah, yeah. No, that’s fascinating. So, talk about how… And I think you’ve talked about how millennials are misunderstood. But see, I guess you’ve mentioned some of the key components of what millennials want. Would you say that that makes them different than other generations? What’s different about millennials versus these others?

Chris T:

So, there’s two reasons of what makes them so different. One is the impact of social media and digital media on them. And it’s also what makes older millennials different than younger millennials. And then two, it was really the impact of the recession of 2008. Older millennials were in the marketplace, and then younger millennials saw their mom and dad lose their jobs and then inherited all this student debt. So, the needs of both of those are even different. And the needs of older millennials versus younger millennials, and Gen Z-ers, are also a little bit different. You always see this with a generation. But there are certain things that I like to focus in on in terms of the things that they all want, right?

Chris T:

And one of those from an organizational standpoint, work flexibility. You look at what COVID did, but one of the things they craved for so long and weren’t able to ever get and the thing that I actually came up against the most was your easiest fix when I go into these corporations that could do it physically knowing that 35% of any organization can actually work remotely, where it’s not physical labor or some of these other things, but it’s like, “This is an easy fix for you guys. Just let them work from where they want to work. And if you can’t trust them, then you’ve got a hiring issue. If you can’t trust them to work from where they want to work then you’ve got a hiring problem.”

Chris T:

And so, you look at some of these things, and you look at a lot of these needs and wants. And once again, I go back to millennials aren’t the problem, they just expose all the problems. But the other side is true with social media has impacted them profoundly, and that there’s a lot of things they can learn from the older generations, one of them being the interpersonal muscle as Tommy would say. Right?

Chris T:

At age 13 they’re given a brand new phone with a Snapchat account on it. So their first flirtation, they didn’t have to call mom and dad and get through mom and dad on the phone, and then get to the other person and then create… That creates this interpersonal muscle that no longer really exists. So it’s up to us to help teach those things to them, and to help bring some of those…

Warwick F:

And, they’re bombarded with things that can be helpful or not helpful. Just the horror stories of young teenagers they get affirmation, but then they get torn down by friends in some cases that can lead to even suicide just because of social media and just the … It seems like easy to say horrendous things on social media. Even with my own two kids, I’ve got a two sons and a daughter, the daughters in the middle.

Warwick F:

When look at my older two, Facebook is kind of one of their social media outlets of choice. My youngest son who’s 22, Facebook is so for the older people, “I use Snapchat. I never use Facebook.” And my older two don’t really do Snapchat as much. So there’s not that much difference between the 29 and the 22 year old in terms of age, they’re all in their 20s, but yet how they use social media is different.

Chris T:

Yeah. And, it impacts all of us. It’s not just them. In The Millennial Whisperer I call it the Pinterestation of a generation, and it also leads into one of my rules my 7030 rule, but a lot of us suffer from the grass is always greener complex. And my 7030 rules in place that on the first day of employment I tell them, “30% of your job is going to suck and I’m sorry. 70% should fire you up and fill you up but welcome to life.

Chris T:

And any of your friends that you’re seeing their perfect lives, play it on Instagram, they’re full of it. Right? And listen, I’ve done it too.” Right. And I tell the stories of some of the things that I’ve done. But it’s like that’s not a reality. So let’s figure out from your job description, what’s in your 30% zone of suck, and then what’s in your 70% zone of fire you up and fill you up. And by doing that, when they have three days in a row of doing Excel documents, and budgeting, or whatever that zone of suck thing is they don’t quit in order to pursue it.

Warwick F:

It’s sets their expectations. That is so smart. I want to dwell a bit on those four things. You talked about inspiration, Authenticity, transparency, and then the culture kind of being affected by the others. When you say inspiration, is part of that millennials kind of want purpose and meaning at work? I don’t want to midtread it but…

Chris T:

100%. 100% but they also part of that interpretation of the real interpretation of inspirational leadership is also that connection piece, right? So there’s elements of you got to reward and recognize your people, you got to take a vested interest in your people, and you’ve got to start opening up more of this idea to be both the boss but also a mentor and a coach to them, as well as potentially a friend.

Warwick F:

Right. They don’t want to see themselves as just a small cog in the big machine.

Chris T:

Yeah.

Warwick F:

And maybe people in the 50s said, “Well, that’s just life work isn’t meant to be fun. I’m a cog and I just go to work, punch the time clock, and I go home and try to recover on the weekend.” But that people aren’t thinking that way. It’s not the 1950s. They’re looking as you say, for some connection. They want to feel like that their boss cares, that there’s meaning, that the boss actually knows their names, the names of their kids, what they do for fun on the weekend.

Chris T:

Exactly.

Warwick F:

They want to feel that they care. And back to you they said authenticity and transparency, you can read all the books but I’m sure millennials they know if you’re faking it. If you’re just reading from a manual, or seminar you just went to, or a book you just read and it’s not real. As I often say that one of the worst as you would know, one of the worst things in advertising is doing great advertising for a product that’s awful because people will really, really get angry. That’s the worst possible combination, great advertising with a product that sucks. So you don’t want to be that manager, right, that just says all the right things, asks all the right questions but you know they could care less about your life.

Chris T:

Massive disdain for hypocrisy. You’re absolutely right. And, the other piece to that is if you ask anyone, and I’ve seen this in corporations, “Hey, Bob, do you consider yourself to be an inspirational leader?” When you talk to Bob, he’s like, “Hell yeah.” They laugh, they light up, it’s like, “Thanks, Bob.” And then you have two people on Bob’s team, “Hey, is Bob an inspirational leader?” Their first question is, “Is Bob going to find out if I tell you the truth?”

Chris T:

And it’s like, “No.” He’s like, “Heck no. He’s not. He doesn’t do anything to take a vested interest in me. He doesn’t get me fired up. I don’t know where we’re going, blah, blah, blah.” I created an assessment that breaks down some of those things, but gets the input from all of their employees that are oftentimes younger. But transparency I think is another interesting thing. And I talked about connection and context. A lot of people misinterpret transparency to be one of two things on that spectrum.

Chris T:

They either interpret it to be on one side financial transparency and they say, “Chris, I’m not going to tell everyone how much we’re making and what our profit margins are.” It’s like, “No, it’s not that.” Or they go to the other side of it and they say, “They interpret it as vulnerable.” And they say, “Chris, I’m not going to cry in front of my people.” And we’re not talking about Brene Brown and vulnerability.

Chris T:

What they want from you in transparency, is context. Why are you making the decisions that you’re making? So you’ve got to be giving them the data and disclosing those pieces to demonstrate that. So when you lose a new piece of business or something happens, talk to them about why and what it is that you learn from that. Don’t just sugarcoat everything, and especially X’s were brought up this way, that you have to sugarcoat and only present the good news. You got to throw that out the window and instead inform them with this context so that they can start connecting the dots themselves. That’s what I do.

Warwick F:

People want their bosses to be honest with them about, “Okay, if we’re having a downturn, what happened? And maybe it’s even, “Look, this is the direction the company’s going in. I don’t know that I completely agree but I’m doing the best I can.” Or, “We got hammered by the market or competitors and here’s what we’re trying to do. And, I think maybe went in the wrong direction but here’s what we’re going to do next.”

Warwick F:

They want some transparency in the sense of honesty about what’s happening. And you don’t have to get into every detail but give them enough that they kind of, “Okay, the guy’s being straight with me.” And I’m sure trust is got to be huge. If you don’t trust your boss, you’re not going to walk off the cliff for them. You got to trust them. You got to believe that they have your back.

Chris T:

Exactly.

Gary S:

That gentlemen, well, you may have heard was the landing gear starting to come down on landing the plane. Before we start to really land the plane, we’re just sort of have the little chimes go off in the landing gears going down. Chris, I’d be remiss if I did not give you a chance to let our listeners know how they can find out more about you, about The Millennial Whisperer, and now I’m going to try it, your upcoming book Save Your Asks.

Chris T:

There you go.

Gary S:

How can they find out more about?

Warwick F:

And if you can give just maybe a couple thoughts about the key component of Save Your Asks.

Chris T:

Yeah, yeah.

Warwick F:

What is the thrust to that book?

Chris T:

So the best place to find me if you actually … I’ve got a free offer for getting a hard cover of the book if you go to quiz.themillennialwhisperer.com, I’ll send it to you all up in the show notes. But you just take a quiz, I’ll tell you what type of millennial leader you are and then you just have to pay for the shipping. If you have any issues, I’ll send you a free PDF, I’ve no problem with it. The more people that read the book, the better.

Chris T:

It’s just about getting the book out in the world. And, the business model and ROI on it is we’ll have a longer discussion about that. But it really is impact that I’m trying to make. So go there, check it out. The best place to get in touch with me is actually on Instagram. And, I’m @T-U-F-F22, the number 22. And, I respond to almost every single thing there. And then just themillennialwhisperer.com, you can find more stuff about the book as well as the assessments and a lot of other fun, free tools for you.

Chris T:

In terms of moving to the Save Your Asks piece, and it’s I think a good next layer on top of the impact that I’m trying to make. But one problem I think I had I asked myself, “Am I having the impact on also the younger generation in helping them to learn how to better network, and use real authentic connection to drive that networking coupled with.” I want something that anyone can take and be able to pivot their career to a place where they are more fulfilled and in line with their purpose.

Chris T:

When passion, purpose, and profession all overlap, it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. But in order to get there takes a lot of work in some of these things. So, I wanted a tool that people could execute on that. So it’s essentially how do you better network your way to a more fulfilling life through some tactics and the book title itself is a call to action. You two are the best examples.

Chris T:

Every single day I bet people are reaching out to you saying, “They’re going and wasting their one ask out of the gates.” Right? And they’re like, “Hey, can I be on your podcast?” It’s like, wow. How about doing a little bit of research and understanding what it is that drives us, and what we’re all about, before you go in for that ask.” Right? I call them, “Askholes”. I already hooked you up this, that, and enough is enough.

Chris T:

And I think with a shift in mentality and saving that ask when you start focusing in on genuine relationships, amazing things happen. And, one of the tactics that I’m writing about is this idea of just having a longer view. The tactic itself is called shawshanking. And, this was taught to me by a guy I met in the early days of Facebook, and it was six years after we had first met at Menlo Park on Facebook, blah, blah, blah, whatever, that we’re at dinner, and we had just signed a huge deal.

Chris T:

And I turned to him and I said, “Jason, how in the heck did you keep in touch with me the most ADHD guy in the world? Here we are probably your biggest deal today. Right?” And he goes, “I shawshanked you.” And I was like, “What is that?” He said, “Every single week for the last six years, I’ve had some form of communication with you, and not once have I asked you for anything. I was just checking in, keeping up the relationship whatever.

Chris T:

I wasn’t ever asking anything. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to try that tactic.” And I tried that tactic at the agency and we ended up landing one of our largest clients 18 months later after I became best friends with the person. And one of the things that I’ve made it now known is shawshanking is a verb. And when you start focusing in on creating genuine relationships, and real connection, just like The Millennial Whisperer, amazing things happen.

Chris T:

And in order for us to actually start being freed, and living that life, we’ve got to evolve our currencies and continually do that with side hustles and passion projects. So encourage your people to pursue side hustles and passion projects to offset that 7030 rule, that 30% zone of suck. Sometimes it’s a 5050, sometimes it’s flipped where it’s 70% of their job sucks, but it’s up to us to help them pursue that. But we’ve got to pursue those things ourselves because that is how we truly evolve our currency to be that thing that is changing with our own heads and heart.

Warwick F:

Well said. That’s awesome.

Chris T:

As you could tell I get pretty excited actually.

Gary S:

Yeah. It’s fascinating to me to think that you have a twin brother. Is he the calm one or is he the excitable one?

Chris T:

My wife is an identical twin and I’m an identical twin. So we’re both identical twins. I equate some of our amazing marriage to the fact that when you grow up with someone exactly like you, not many people can have that bond. But our twins are both very different than us, and I think one of the best probably experiments or validations, to the idea that your spouse molds you whether or not you understand that we’ve had foils, we had identical foils, and then we both went off and married these very different people.

Chris T:

And now here we are 13 years later, and we look, and we’re very different. And so my twin brother is actually a private school teacher, and head of admissions for a school in Connecticut. Julie, my wife’s twin sister and her, they’re both professional soccer players. And they’re both kind of still in that domain but they’re also very different from one another. So it’s really interesting that kind of the science and psychology from a sociological experiment standpoint.

Warwick F:

Wow.

Gary S:

Well, that is fascinating information too. Yes, the tires are on the runway. We are landing the plane.

Chris T:

Let’s do it.

Gary S:

Before we go listener, let me summarize for you I think some takeaways from this episode with Chris Tuff. One, Chris, talks and you heard him say it a couple times that crisis can be a catalyst for change. It’s certainly was in his life. Crisis was a catalyst for change. One of my greatest joys in co-hosting this podcast is when the guest’s way of looking at life and leadership, and Crucible Leadership Warwick’s way of looking at life and leadership sync up.

Gary S:

And while Chris says crisis can be a catalyst for change, we talk at Crucible Leadership about how your crucible can be the launching point to a life of significance for you if you learn the lessons of that crucible. So instead of asking why in the midst of a crucible or a crisis, ask what. What can you learn from where you find yourself? That’s takeaway one. And then takeaway two from this conversation is take a long look at how you define success.

Gary S:

If it’s to beat others, Chris said his idea of success was to beat his older brothers. If it’s to beat others and to gain things, not to help others and to put people ahead of things, you may need to reassess your definition of success because redefining success can be how you find success. I’ll say that again. Redefining success can be how you find success. That’s what happened to Chris, that’s what happened to Warwick, and that’s how in Crucible Leadership we talk about finding success that is couched in being a life of significance.

Gary S:

The third thing that you can take away from this is the great example that Chris, gave in his book about if you’re a leader, don’t try to be the hero. Empower others to be the hero. You may see on my lapel pin if you’re watching, I have Captain America. Don’t try to be Captain America to those you lead. Be Nick Fury, be the head of the Avengers not the Avenger. Help them along that way, pour into them, become a mentor and a coach. Help them in their hero training. Together, you can help the world and you can change the world. And then the final piece of takeaway advice is the one that… I just want to say the words. Don’t be an askhole.

Chris T:

Yes.

Gary S:

Thank you. Thank you listener for spending time with us on this episode of Beyond the Crucible. We would love it if you would go to crucibleleadership.com, poke around, see some of the blogs, we have an assessment there that you can take, you can sign up. Most importantly, you can sign up for an email to get insights from Warwick, about how to live as a crucible leader, how you can become a crucible leader, how you can move beyond your crucible as the title of this podcast says. So until the next time we are together on this podcast, please remember that your crucible experience is tough, is difficult.

Gary S:

Right now you could be feeling a lot of pain. But as Warwick expresses every time we do a podcast, and as Chris has expressed here, those difficult times can in fact be some of the best times in your life. They’re far from the end of your story. They can be if you learn the lessons of them, If you use your crisis as a catalyst for change, those moments can be the start of a new story that’s the most rewarding of your life, because at the end it leads to something truly important, a life of significance.

 

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