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The Great Resignation

Alyssa Carswell | February 17, 2022 at 8:00 AM

Communication Is Key

It's no secret that today's companies are known to have a high turnover rate, however, Covid-19 has aggravated this in the recent years. That being said, more and more employees are leaving their jobs, to either find a different company, switch careers, or pursue their own passion projects.

In today's world, it's very common. However, owners need to know what to do to prepare for these cultural changes. In this blog, Hollywood Branded shares what employers and employees need to know about the Great Resignation from the expertise of Krister Ungerbocker, who is the Founder of TalkSHIFT.


EP292 The Great Resignation with Krister Ungerbocker


A Little More About Krister

Krister is the founder of Talk SHIFT, a global movement that focuses on leadership language and teaches why strong communication leads to better results in both business and life. He is also the author of 22 Talk SHIFTs, a number one Wall Street Journal bestseller that shares numerous ways to strengthen communication. He's the former founder and CEO of an award-winning global tech company named after himself, Ungerboeck, where he helped its value grow from one million to $200 million. Krister is the recipient of St. Louis Business Journal's 40 under 40 Award, and has appeared in numerous publications, such as NPR, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and more. 

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Interview Transcript Highlights

Question: Well, I love starting off always, and having you share with our listeners your journey of how you got here today, not so much on the podcast, but you've launched an amazingly successful business. Wow. A $200 million evaluation is just a little, that's insane for most of our listeners to understand how one man can do that, but you've written a number one best selling book. You've done so many things that are monumental. What drives you and got you here?

Answer: What got me here? So maybe the, I would say what got me here is a strong desire to make my father proud...It's been a journey, but yeah, that was actually part of the thing what led to the book is, I say in the beginning of the book that I found myself at a YMCA after building this $200 million company, I found myself looking in the mirror, tears streaming down my cheeks, and I saw the leader that I'd become, which is a leader without followers. And so I had read all these business books and everything I wanted to do to make my father proud. And ultimately, I realized that I had become a pretty angry, more demanding and maybe we got great results, but there was probably not with the most compassionate style. 

I was never a yelling leader. And ultimately I realized after I, so I wrote the book and after I found myself at the YMCA, I was like, I'd read all these books and where did I go wrong? And ultimately at the same time that I left my business behind my wife decided to leave me behind two weeks later. So I really had my life was basically at ground zero, and I was like, well, what did I miss? And so I threw out all the business books that I had been reading since I was 12 years old. And I just went and surrounded myself with all the people that I would've judged as weird and far out and crazy back when I was a CEO thinking, maybe I'll learn something from these people. And I always kept my CEO hat on thinking I'm going to bring some ideas back and repackage them and translate them into words that work in a business context.

And that was really what resulted in the book, was taking all these things, when I would go on these journeys and experiences. A good litmus test was would a CEO raise his eyebrows if I said, "hey, I'm going to do this"? And they'd be like, "I would never do that". I'd be like, "then I'm going and I'm going to see what I'm going to learn". And then a lot of the stuff was things I'm like, "yeah, that's not going to work in a business context," but what the ultimate thing that came out of it was a good blend of the aggressive leadership style that did result in a lot of our success, with also the opposite of the equally compassionate language that probably led to my, the lack of compassionate language is what led to my downfall. So I'm like, "it was the intentions to write a book that blends the hard and the soft, if you will."

And with 2020 being what it was and quarantine, this book I don't think would've been nearly successful prior to 2020, but now it is, in many respects, it's really, I would hope that it's a little bit of a handbook for how to lead in this new world, what we're leading in. Part of what was language was really informed by the book because I started businesses in France and Germany and we actually had offices around the world, but I had to learn to lead in two foreign languages as an adult. And so language was really present for me as I was writing the book and thinking of, German's a very direct language, English and French are much more indirect in different ways.

And I wanted to build tools that were practical, fill in the blanks phrases that anyone could pick up, like you finished chapter one in the book and you're like, wow, I've already got one phrase that I can use to change how I lead either in the context of my personal relationships, or in my professional life. So, that was what we did.


Question:  When you're diving in and talking about the great resignation and you're sharing that a lot of people are going off and trying to work for another company, or we have the whole new world of hustling. So, everyone wants to be a hustler. Everyone wants their side gig. Everyone wants to, they want to be the entrepreneur and creator of their own future. How does one handle that knowing that you're talking about sensitivities, you're talking about not being insensitive, you're talking about wanting to build employees. How does a leader navigate that in a, it used to be, you signed my employment agreement, you cannot work for anyone else any longer. And that just doesn't hold. So what do you do?

Answer: Well, ultimately the only way to win is to provide people something that they want to do that's more interesting. And I think there's two, well, I think there's two things that we as leaders need to look at is, and I think big part of what I do is also, it's not just about leadership in the context of business, it's also about leadership in a marriage or family or as a parent. And I think it boils down to the same thing we need to, what are the behaviors and things we do that convince others to say, "hey, I'm excited to do this," or spend more time with this person, whether it's at work, or follow them in that way, or in personal life. And then I need to minimize the behaviors that cause people to shut down and be like that Stacy or that Krister, because I know that my shareholders, which is one of my challenges is [that] I spent more time sometimes laying in bed thinking I want to ring those people's neck. And I'm like, "those were not times that I was thinking about problems for the company."


Question: So what does quitting and staying mean?

Answer: Quitting and staying means, well in the simplest thing saying, I used to be really committed to my job and I would think about it on my drive home and in the shower and on weekends. And now I'm just going to spend more time with my family. And once five o'clock rolls around, I'm going to flip off the switch and that I'll turn it back on at 9:00 AM or whatever my first meeting is tomorrow. Yeah. That's probably a good one. And then the more serious one is when someone says, yeah, I'm actively going to eat into the 40 hours per week that I'm being paid almost as a, it's like the old equivalent of somebody in a manufacturing, it's the white collar equivalent of someone in a manufacturing plant laying down on the job because they just don't like their boss.

I had one reader of the book who did work in more of a blue collar setting most of his career. [He] told me about stories where I think he was working in a car repair shop. And he was thinking of his communication. He told me he actually had cases where employees actually would lay down on the job when would ask him to do something. And he'd say, what are you doing? He's like, they wanted to get him fired...this doesn't just happen in blue collar, it happens in the office too. It's just called solitaire, whatever computer game or Facebook you have on your other tab before you shift tab over, if somebody's looking over your shoulder.


Question: Do you think we were on this path anyways and COVID just sped it up, like they sped up so many other things, or do you think COVID itself shifted all of us?

Answer: I think COVID shifted, because I think that it. I think people, well, one, I think obviously the work from home thing was a lot of company leaders at the very hot top started to realize, well, we have to do it. So now that just opened the flood gates, I think for, I say Zoom, in one of the parts of the book, I say Zoom broke down the walls between our personal and professional lives. So now we have these tools that opened up the floodgates of, we were able to stem, we were in a tech company and we were able to stem the tide of work from home for many years. We were fortunate we had won five top workplace awards and we had 99.3% employee engagement.

So we did have an amazing culture that caused people to want to stay and, but now it's like, well even now, my company, I'm still an owner that every[one] is working from home. And so you've got that side, but then it's like everybody's there with their kids. And then there's this emotion of like people losing people and all the things on the news. And so I think there was this just great questioning of what really is important to me? So in that regard, I don't think that, my sense is I don't think that it would have changed in the US if... Because the rest of the world is already that way except for maybe China and Hong Kong and India, maybe to some degree. Well, actually I say India probably was a pretty hard driving work culture as well. But if you go to Australia, or the UK, or any other developed country outside of, I don't think there's anywhere near the aggressive work culture that existed in the United States two years ago. And for the hundreds of years before.


Question: And I still think there's a good work culture, it's just different. Now we're finding ourselves with a lot of hustlers as employees, that they want their side gig, they want to develop their own thing of whatever it might be on Etsy or this or that. And so it's a split time of attention.

Answer: Well, I think that I think will probably come to an end. The reality is, is to build a business like a side hustle, ultimately it's mostly an online market business, like how do you get the people buy your Etsy shop? And we're doing one of the things that's really unique from marketing side is we're basically marketing this book almost exclusively with Facebook ads and like the, that was this executive from the large Fortune 500 company, he's got a side gig. He's like, "I'm going to sell some supplements online." I said, "well, do you have an extra quarter of a million dollars sitting around because it's probably going to cost you that much to actually find out how to actually make money selling with Facebook ads or YouTube ads or whatever?" So, I think that there's this initial, oh, I'm going to start my Etsy shop, or I'm going to write my book, or I'm going to do whatever. And then when it's done and the crickets start, the deafening of crickets, and when you got, maybe you got to turn the crickets into the clickets.

And that costs a lot of money, approximately $25 per... If you're doing it really well. Yeah. So I think that a lot of that side gig, online business side gig is probably going to go away, and people are going to have some very painful, expensive mistakes. The one challenge is the people who are going to make it are the best people.


Check Out The Podcast!

Krister has so much great information from his experience as an author and leader who recognizes the importance of language and communication. Check out the podcast below to learn more about the great resignation and how to be a better leader!

Every week we have a marketing professional on our show to share their tips, tricks and lessons learned from their professional experience. Check out some of our other podcast blogs from earlier this year: 

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Alyssa Carswell

Written by Alyssa Carswell