Our Trauma, Our Agency and Our Values with Michael Anthony
On this episode of THRIVE — sponsored by accessiBe — Kelly and Michael Anthony discuss how it is both imperative and paradoxical to unravel past coping mechanisms in order to be good leaders.
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Episode 117 Links
Think Unbroken: http://www.thinkunbroken.com/
YouTube Channel: youtube.com/channel/UCboltXvff1KfeCHpQbY_8PA/
Vimeo Channel: vimeo.com/agencyscaler
Archives + Show Notes: agencyscaler.com
Kelly: Welcome to Thrive your agency resource, the only podcast for creative, media, and technology leaders who are ready to dive deeper into conscious leadership and agency growth. I’m your host, Kelly Campbell. Thrive is brought to you by accessiBe, the leading web accessibility solutions provider. Join thousands of agencies that are already incorporating web inclusivity into their service offerings. Visit accessiBe.com today.
So welcome back to Thrive. Always happy to have you tune in to another episode. And I really hope if you loved the episode with Rachel Roberts Mattox. You’re gonna love this episode. Today, I’m joined by Michael Anthony, who is the founder of Think Unbroken. He’s a speaker. He’s a podcast host. And he’s also author of the book by the same name, Think Unbroken: Understanding and Overcoming Childhood Trauma. Michael, welcome to the show, my friend. So good to see you again.
Michael: I’m super bummed to be here with you, Kelly. Thank you so much.
Kelly: So you’ve said, before we hit record, context is everything. So why don’t you go ahead and just give us a little flavor for your story, as much or as little as you want to get into, and then I’m sure I’m gonna have a ton of questions.
Michael: Yeah, for sure. Um, so I grew up in Indianapolis. My mother was a drug addict and alcoholic. And in fact, when I was four years old, she cut off my right index finger. And people always be like, how can your mom do that? Well, it was a continuation of abuse. Right? You always hear this old adage, hurt people hurt people. Then she married my stepfather when I was six, and he was super abusive. Kick the shit out of my brothers and put me in the hospital. The kind of guy you pray is never your stepfather. I mean, imagine a guy six foot four, beating up a child, spent a lot of time living with different families. We were deeply in poverty, often homeless. And by the time I was 12, we live with 30 different families. And that would be from the church, from the community, friends, strangers, sometimes a van or a car, like I never knew I was going to sleep most nights. And I never met my real father, which is actually kind of a godsend because of I lay in bed at night and I prayed, like, why won’t you send me my real dad to rescue me God. And I learned at a very young age, nobody’s coming. And that hindered me for a while and then actually empowered me. We’ll talk about that. At 12, after living in an abandoned house for about two months by myself, my grandmother found out and came and adopted me and like great, end of that trauma. Here we go. Life’s gonna be great. Well, I’m biracial, black and white. My grandmother is an old racist, white lady from a town in Tennessee you never heard of. We had a copy of Mein Kampf, Hitler’s autobiography on our living room table. And at 12, I got high for the first time, drunk at 13. And by 15, I was expelled from school for selling drugs, was breaking into houses, running from the cops, getting shot at hurting people, stealing cars, like it was the whole nine. And luckily, I got put into a last chance program. But I still did not graduate high school on time. And in summer school that year, basically, the teacher looked at me, he goes, we just want you the hell out of here. Here’s your diploma. Good luck. And I remember thinking like, okay, hold on a second. What is the solution for all this? What is the solution for poverty, for homelessness, for abuse, for trauma for all of it? I was like, oh, it’s money. It’s gotta be money, like, what else would it be? And so I made a declaration myself, that I would make $100,000 a year legally by the time that I was 21. Now, the legal part was super important because I have family in prison for life. I’ve been in handcuffs, many, many times. And as of today, my three childhood best friends have been murdered. Like I knew what was gonna happen. I knew where I was going. And so I landed a job working for a fast food restaurant and at 18 years old, I had 52 people under me, like I was reading P&Ls as a baby, you know what I mean?
And then I started getting skills because skills have utility, and fast forward a little bit, I landed a job with a Fortune 10 company, no high school diploma, no college education. And I hit my goal of making six figures. And then that thing happens to people, that happens when they’ve never had money before. And it destroyed my life. And I found myself at 25 heading into 26. I was 350 pounds, smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, drinking myself to sleep, cheating on my girlfriend, and that’s when I put a gun in my mouth. I was done. I was like, I thought money was supposed to fix this. It didn’t. And the next day I’m laying in bed.
Now keep in mind, I’m 350 pounds, it’s 11 o’clock in the morning, I’m smoking a joint, eating chocolate cake, and watching the CrossFit Games. Like, if that’s not rock bottom, I don’t know what it is. And, I got up and for whatever reason, I went to the bathroom and I looked at myself in the mirror. And I remember being eight years old, and the water company came and turned our water off. Now people were always turning our things off our water, electricity, our heat, we’re getting evicted. But on this particular day, I went in the backyard, it’s blistering hot, Indiana, August, summer day. And I take this little blue bucket, walk across the street to our neighbor’s house. And for the first time I stole water. And I remember being like when I’m a grown up, this will not be my life. And it wasn’t financially. But in every other way, I was still that hurt last little boy. And as I looked in the mirror, remembering that moment, knowing I had let myself down, I asked myself, what are you willing to do to have the life that you want to have? And the answer was no excuses, just results.
And from that moment, I dedicated myself to getting the hell out of my own way to ultimately be the hero of my own story. And 11 years later, here, I am talking to you. Now that process has been a tremendous amount of work, therapy, group therapy, men’s group therapy, trauma therapy, CBT, EMDR, ABC, all the acronyms. I was getting a coach, going to personal development, getting education in trauma where I have over 30 trauma informed certifications. It was putting myself in a position to be successful by investing in myself, by learning, by asking difficult questions, and by ultimately showing up every single day. And today, we think I’m broken, my mission is very simple. I want to end generational trauma in my lifetime through education and information. So another kid never has a story like what I just told you.
Kelly: Well, first of all, thank you for sharing that story. I know that you’ve shared it on many stages, and I’ve heard it before in different variations. And it never loses impact, right? Because this is very true to who you were and how you grew up and what you experienced. And so the people who are listening or watching may not have the exact, I mean, definitely they’re not gonna have the exact same experience. But maybe there are pieces of your story that resonate with them. Maybe even if it’s just the eight year old stealing water, maybe if that’s the only piece, right? Or maybe if it’s more. So I’m really curious. This whole idea of looking in the mirror, right? I think that is something that all of us have done at certain points of our lives, and how long we stand in front of that mirror; what we actually see, what we allow ourselves to see. I’m curious, like, what happened in that moment for you? Like, when you kind of asked yourself, like, what are you willing to do? What was the experience of that? If you can kind of just like dive into that a little bit more?
Michael: Yeah, it was me very much. I mean, I’d never actually looked at myself before. To that moment, I cannot recall one time where I ever actually looked in my own eyes. I mean, there was so much shame, so much guilt, so much of the embedment and ingrained moment of you’re not good enough, you’re not strong enough, you’re not capable enough. I had no self-esteem, I had no self-belief. I was a ghost effectively just kind of navigating the world as I thought I was supposed to be by placating, by bending myself, by being plastic to the needs of other people.
One of the things about trauma that I don’t think people fully understand that I’ve wrapped my head around, especially recently, trauma is actually the theft of identity. It’s not the experiences that we have, like I got the scars, like I have the finger of my mom cut off like that. That’s with me. But the thing that is taken from you stripped is your ability to be you. And you think about this, the most dangerous thing I could do as a kid was have an opinion. The fastest way for me to get my head slammed into a wall was to say I need something. And so you learn how to turn that off. Why?
Because it becomes autonomic. It’s a survival mechanism. Your brain serves one purpose, Kelly. It’s very simple, survival. It doesn’t give a shit about your dreams. It doesn’t care about the color of shirt you have on. None of those things only want you to survive. And so it’s adaptive. And you’re put in these situations, and you have to be able to navigate them. So you learn to stop being you because every time that you’re you, they’re suffering. Every time that you’re you, there’s pain, mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, sexually, something happens. And the more that it happens, the more your brain goes, oh, shit, man, don’t do that. Don’t do it. Don’t you dare ask for that thing you need?
Don’t you dare have an opinion. Don’t you dare show up. Be silent, be hidden, be in the back, be quiet. And that serves you. That’s what’s so messed up about it. It is for a period of time it serves you. Your’e 4, 7, 12, 15 years old. And then it doesn’t any longer. But you’re still operating through this scope of not understanding who you are. Because you’ve only ever been what other people needed you to be so that you could be safe. And then you’re 25, 37, 50 to 80 years old. And you’re like, I don’t know how to say yes. And I don’t know how to say no.
And in that moment, really what it is, it’s you don’t have agency, you’ve never been allotted the ability to be you without massive suffering. And so now you’re in this weird juxtaposition of measuring the dichotomy of all this stuff that led you here, looking at the top to bottom, the ups and downs and being like, holy crap, I have no idea who I am. And at 25 years old, looking in that mirror, that’s what I recognized and understood. I never ever was me. Yeah, your favorite band was my favorite band. Your favorite food was my favorite food. The way that people treat each other I did based on how I thought I needed to be so that I could be a part of the community.
Kelly: Belonging. Right?
Michael: Yeah. 100%. Right. It’s I mean, for me, when I was a kid and running around with the kids that I did, that was brotherhood, right? And in my 20s, it was the same thing. But it was so toxic, it was partying and women and drugs and money and cars. And, we rent limousines and go down to this club, and people be doing cocaine all night. And they’d be like, I’ve never done cocaine in my life. I never wanted those things, but I’d be in the room. Right? And be in the room just so I could be seen. And eventually, I found myself though the weirdest moment of my life, probably even this fucking day. It’s crazy. Like my friends like, do you want to go to this country music concert?
Yo, I hate country music so much. It’s not even funny. And I was like, absolutely I do. I can’t wait to go. This is like my favorite thing ever. And in that moment, sitting here looking at all these people. I’m like, I’m not supposed to be here right now. I’m only here because they want me to be here. And in the mirror. And looking at that moment, it was recognizing the truth. And when people understand what I’m about to say, it will change your life forever. And the people who don’t understand they’re going to judge me and call me narcissistic. But the people that understand this is going to hit home. Healing trauma, being the person you’re capable being is about this. I only do what I want to do. And I never do what I don’t want to do. And that’s agency. And that’s the thing that I discovered in that mirror.
Kelly: Yeah, thank you. It’s funny. I love the word agency. When I started creating all my social media handles, I chose agency scaler not just for the obvious reason that part of what I do for a living is helping creative and technology agencies to scale but it was about scaling or augmenting personal agency, human agency. And so I love that you kind of bring it back to that. [Commercial] It’s funny. One of the things that you said that resonates so deeply with me is like the things that we use, survival mechanisms as coping strategies as those numbing agents even if you know what, let’s not even go to numbing agents, let’s just focus on like the coping strategies that kept us safe, right?
Those things were brilliantly designed back then. Like our bodies and our minds are so brilliant in the way that they showed up for us, right? And what I find fascinating is that as we develop into adulthood, and even become leaders, those are the exact things that we have to undo, unlearn, unravel, in order to move forward. I mean, it’s like, such an interesting paradox, right? So I’m curious, I mean, you’re a leader now in many, many senses of the word, but even when you were in that Fortune 10 company, right? Even if you were kind of low man on the totem pole if you will, you still worked at a Fortune 10 company. I’m wondering about that experience and your leadership experience now? And how you kind of see the unpacking related to that.
Michael: Yeah, one of the really fascinating things, I read this book, if someone knows the name of this book, please email it to me, because I cannot remember. I’ve read like 700 books in my life. And this always sits with me. There’s a line in the book where the guy was talking, he says, people often become their nickname. And I thought that was really fascinating when I read that, because when I was a kid, people used to make fun of me calling me coach. Because I always wanted other people, wanted us to be successful. I wanted us to rise, and it wasn’t like this thing where I did it just for fun. Like I did it because I want to see success. And people I love it, right? And people used to make fun of me, all these kids were assholes about it. And I’m like, well, that’s really interesting, because that’s what I do now. And like I never connect those dots. So if you know the name of that book, please tell me.
Kelly: I don’t know the name of the book. But what does it say about me that my nickname was hot sauce?
Michael: Yeah, I don’t know. We got to sit down.
Kelly: That’s a whole another conversation.
Michael: So you know what happened is, I’ve always been in some sense, a leader in 18. Having all these people under me, it was really weird, because I made every mistake. What do you think an 18 year old boy is doing when he’s hanging out eight year old girls out of a fast food restaurant all day, right? Being an idiot. And all the employees were either younger than me or dramatically older than me. So not only I’m leading kids, but also I’m leading adults who are in their 40s and 50s. Some even in their 60s, where this is like their full time job. And I learned so oh my god, I mean, Kelly, I made every mistake you could make. But I also broke every record you could break working for this company at the time.
And it was, I mean, we were doing 10 G’s a day and burgers and fries. Like when I mean like nonstop, like you learn how to move and pivot and go really quick and do all the things. And that served me for a while because I was learning but the hours were gnarly. Like I wouldn’t get home till four o’clock in the morning. I’d have a day off. And I’d have to be back the next day at four o’clock in the morning. Like it was really intense. And so I definitely learned what I didn’t want to do. And so I bounced around for a little bit between that trying to figure out where I wanted to land. I work for a shoe company and I worked for a hardware store. And I was just like this, ain’t it? None of these things are gonna get me 200,000 a year.
And I’m going somewhere to answer this. One day my friend calls me. We’re on MySpace, excuse me. He didn’t call me. We’re on MySpace. We’re messaging. He just got a brand new tile. I was like, bro, you went to my high school. You grew up next to me. how did you get a Tahoe? What are you doing? He’s like, I got a job with an insurance company. And I was like, oh, my God, like I didn’t know that was possible. Only thing I knew was Buy Here Pay Here, unemployment lines, WIC vouchers. I didn’t know you could do. I didn’t know how he figured it out. And I was like, okay, cool. That’s how I do it. Now, obviously, I won’t say the name of the company. But I end up landing with this company.
And in that, one of the really cool things that happened is they actually took us through training. Like we had to learn, we had to be studious to work for this company. Like we went through Franklin Covey stuff, we went through sigma six stuff, we went through stuff that they just made up, that was pointless, but we were always learning. And what I discovered was that to be an effective leader, you have to continually learn. And that’s kind of what started to kind of spark my interest in IT. Because I always really enjoyed being in the room and I would look at these, I would look at the CEO, or I’d look at the SVP, and I’d be like, but you guys went to college, I’m never going to be successful. I had such an incredible limiting belief.
Think about this. I’m never going to be successful making $125,000 a year, right? That’s my thought pattern at the time. But I would look at these guys. And sometimes I get to go and sit with them for a minute and have a conversation. And I was just like, oh, you can have this kind of growth. You can build this, but I hate being told what to do. So it didn’t work very well for me. And so I was always getting in trouble. I would get kicked out of meetings. Can you imagine that? Like you get kicked out because I’m like, the thing that you’re talking about is asinine. It doesn’t make sense. Why would we do it that way when honestly this is the way that makes sense.
Not recognizing whether that’s true or not, but just feeling like I got to speak my mind in the moment. And what happened was, I was sitting one day, talking on the back porch with a friend. And he was like, I’m quitting my job tomorrow. I was like, oh, cool. I’m gonna actually quit mine too, because I had started a photography business. And I was doing that as my side hustle. But that was starting to take over. And I was like, okay, cool. I’m gonna go over here and do this. And so many of those skills became transferable: sales skills, conversational skills, follow up skills, doing things legally and by the book, right?
Because, I mean, all I did was illegal stuff as a kid. And so, I learned so much, but the number one thing that I took away from leadership in corporate, was that there’s no nice way to put this, they only care about money. They only care about money. And I took that away, and I knew what kind of leader I didn’t want to be. And then as I’ve built and cultivated my own businesses, my own brands in the last 12 years kind of just doing my own thing. It’s been really about understanding that leadership is first about vulnerability, probably more so than anything. Because your team if you sit here and you tell them bullshit, they’re gonna see through it. We’re not stupid. If you’re talking about, oh, numbers are great, and things are amazing. But your P&L is garbage, and you’re not paying yourself because you can’t afford to, because you’re not making any revenue. They’re gonna know because we can sense that energy. Right?
Kelly: It’s a great point.
Michael: Authenticity is the number one energy producing element on planet Earth, right? I’m taking that from my friend, Gary Brecker. He told me that is incredible. And it’s so true. Because think about what you want when you connect with people, authenticity. And so the greatest leadership skill that I learned in corporate was that those dudes are never authentic, right? They got PR to come clean up. When was the last time some dude in corporate was like, yeah, yo, I really fucked up, I’m so sorry, guys. Not going to happen again. Never. Everybody’s in running everything. And then over here, when you’re on your own, if you do that, you’re going to lose people, you’re going to lose money, you’re going to lose credibility, you’re going to lose everything.
One of the reasons why most people are not successful in their businesses, in their endeavors, and everything that they do is because they’re always bullshit. They’re not keeping it real. Like I’m willing, and this is my superpower. I’m willing to be publicly embarrassed, because I don’t care. I really don’t. I’m like, great, I learned something if it happens, and so my team knows, you can call bullshit on me in the middle of the team meeting with all 37 people on the phone. And let’s figure out why. Right? Because if you’re going to be an effective leader, it’s got to be more than about the money. It’s got to be about the impact. It’s got to be about the brand values and the mission, which are not the same thing. It’s got to be about where you’re going. Your team needs to be in alignment with that they need to understand, their purpose.
You need to be on the same page about their goals. How do you help them? It’s amazing to me how many people will stop working for me, because of the next thing that they’re able to go to. And I love when I get to keep people. I have some people under me, have been with me for 6, 7, 8 years, right? But I have people who are with me for like 18 months, and they’re like, yo, I just got a promotion, double the salary to go into a leadership role because of the things you taught me. I’m like, great, bye. Help me replace you. Good luck. I’m always here for you. Right? And that’s what I want. And there are people who are so afraid of that, when I interview people, and they come to my team. Like there’s multiple processes before I’ll even sit down with you. But I’ll be like, where do you want to go? What do you want? I don’t want to keep you here, if you don’t want to be here. If this is a stepping stone, keep it 100.
Tell me, great, I will give you everything I can as long as you show up and you produce every single day. And so many people who own businesses are scared to do that. Because they’re like, I’ll never be able to find that person. Yes, you will. And there’s more of them. Because people are incredible. And there’s so many people who can bring value to your business. But you’re afraid to give them the tools that you’ve learned which is actually hindering your whole business, which is making you an ineffective leader. I mean, I’m sorry, I’m on a rant right now. I can keep going if you want me to.
Kelly: Please keep going.
Michael: Well, look, I mean, it’s really gonna sit back. You sit here and you look at this idea like okay, I want to build this company. I want to build this brand. I want to build this business. Well, if you don’t know your values, personally, first and foremost, how are you going to integrate somebody into believing that in your business? Like when I sit down with people, the two most important questions that I ask them is what are your values? If you cannot answer them, I’m not hiring you. Even if you’re like, my values are like this, these nonsensical things that I would never consider value and be like great if you have no, because that to me is level one of do you know who you are?
And if you cannot work for my company because you have not yet done what you need to do to get to that place. And number two, and I took this from my mentor, Tom Bill, which has dramatically changed the way I hire people. He goes, ask them the last time they were offended. And I’ve always loved that question because if you want to work for me, you’re gonna have to be willing to take massive criticism in a good way and publicly because I’m willing to do that. So I lead the same way I want people to follow. And that means that when we’re in team meetings, and you don’t come through, I’m gonna like talk to me exactly what happened.
You cannot cower and run away. Like, we’ve got to find the root of what happened here. Because like, honestly, Kelly, I probably fucked up as the leader. It’s like, I’ve come to find 99.9% of the time when there’s mistake downstream. It is my fault, 99% of the time, because I didn’t show up effectively, because I wasn’t clear on directions. Because in the SOP that I wrote, I missed a step, because of whatever it was somewhere along the line, that mistake happen. But I can only get to that when we are in this setting, whether it’s publicly or privately, and I go, why did you mess up? Tell me what happened. And they go, oh, well, that thing that I thought you gave me wasn’t there or complete, and I go, okay, great.
And then the other side of it, like they just might not have been paying attention and doing the job. And so when you’re in a leadership role, you’ve got to be willing to fall on your sword for everything. I take no credit for the accomplishments. And I take all the credit for all the failures, right. And that’s one of the things that has helped us grow businesses to multimillion dollars over the years. In COVID in 2020, in my retail business, because I run multiple companies, we increased revenue by 77%, over 2019. We did it again in 2022 at 74%. We’re talking millions of dollars. Because when everybody else tell and ran, I said, let’s walk into the fire. Let’s see what happens. Let’s go for it. Let’s be the most aggressive we’ve ever been.
Let’s show up. Lets build community. Let’s make sure. And look, this was hard. We had to remove people from one of the companies that just were not producing; they weren’t showing up. That’s the worst part about leadership. You got to hire slow and fire fast. And you really do. And you’ve got to be willing to look, you can only give people so many chances. And there’s companies right now somebody listen to this, you have somebody on your team you should have fired on day one.
Because you knew they weren’t the right culture fit. Because they’re toxic, they’re a complainer. They’re always right. They’re the people who don’t show up. They’re the people who they leave early, and they show up late. And they always have an excuse, and, and this and that. And like, I want to take care of my people. I want to. Like everyone who works for me knows that they’re getting taken care of. Because that’s how I think about it. But you’ve got to show up to and if you got people on your team who are not showing up, get rid of them, because you’re not going to be successful with them on your team.
Kelly: It’s also going to just stay in your mind, like this nagging thing that you constantly have to deal with.
Michael: Well, yeah, and look. Yeah, 100%. Look when it comes down to this, right? If it’s keeping you awake at night, yo, you know what to do. But you’re like, there’s such a great coder. And? So as Rose in the Philippines, and go find them. Stop making excuses. Right? Some of you are in boards that you shouldn’t be in, some of you are doing all these things that are taking away from productivity, some of you just aren’t showing up. And so I think the greatest thing about leadership I’ve discovered is just been through the massive number of failures. I’ve been leading teams. I’ve been leading teams. I was 18 years old. I’ve hired over 500 people. I’ve consulted with major Fortune 500 companies, I’ve done all these things. And so it’s like, I promise you as much as I know the sun’s gonna come up tomorrow, that two things are gonna happen. One, I’m going to look at my phone. I’m gonna have to solve a problem as soon as we’re done with this interview. And two, somebody is gonna f*** something up.
Kelly: That’s the reality.
Michael: And that’s the truth about it. But when you’re willing to step into and acknowledge that and not run from it, instead be solution-oriented. I don’t look for problems. I look for solutions. And when you are willing to be solution-oriented, there is always a way to, it’s really funny people on my team will come to me and be like, I don’t think we can do that. I’ll be like, why? And they’ll go through and I’ll be like, why? And they’ll go through. I’ll be like why. Will go through and I’ll be like why? I’m like okay, cool. Great. So you gave me all the reasons why you can’t, now tell me the same number of reasons why we can.
Kelly: Yeah, I love spinning that around. Absolutely. But I’ve never heard it where you had to create the same like the equal number of why you can’t. So that’s actually good. I’m going to use that.
Michael: You should. Well so many people are always looking for the reason why they can’t. I’m only looking for the reason why I can. I’m only looking for the reason why I can. I’ve already been at rock bottom. I already have all the cans. I’ve already had as low as you can go. I’ve already had massive failure. And so what I think about is what do you need to do to be successful? Now that comes back to that question I asked myself, yeah, the answer is no excuses. Just results. Figure it out.
Kelly: Yeah. It’s very interesting. Because what you’re talking about in the context of dealing with an employee who only brings you problems, or only gives you the reasons why you can’t do something, you’re almost stepping into really a very traditional kind of like, trauma informed coaching container. What I mean by that is, you’re empowering them to say, okay, I hear all of these things that are true for you. And that may be, has been the case, have been your history. Your experience with whatever you’re trying to solve here. Now, where do you want to go with it? And as opposed to solving it for them, you’re empowering them to say, oh, I actually have the answer to this. And then that helps them to show up differently. Fascinating. Yeah. I love that.
Michael: And, there’s two rules that everyone knows when they work under me. One, I’m not replying to your email. Like, for real. I’m not. Email is the death of all entrepreneurship.
Kelly: That’s why we may need to text you.
Michael: Yeah, exactly. You have my real phone number, right? I’m not replying to your email. I get 10,000 a day, I don’t know. What am I supposed to do with that? And two, everyone knows, you are not allowed to pick my brain or ask me a quick question. I’ll make it higher, 98% of the thing that you’re about to bring to me, you could Google. Right?
Kelly: Or ask a colleague or whatever.
Michael: Yeah. Or find the answer. Here’s what I love. Train your team to do this. “Hey, Kelly, I recognize when I was going through our CRM, that there’s a tagging issue. And I think the thing that can be the solution for this when we’re sending out our outbound emails is that we could go and put this into Google Analytics that on the backside of this two-step process. Is it okay if I go ahead and do that?” Yeah, bye. “Not, hey, there’s a problem with the tagging system. What do we do, Kelly?” Right? I hired you to solve a problem. I didn’t hire you to bring me more. I got plenty.
Kelly: Right. So honestly, Michael, what I hear you saying a lot is like, accountability. And also, I will absolutely support you in every way that you need. Right? So as a leader, I’m going to hold you accountable. I’m going to call you out in meetings because that is the culture and style that I’ve created. And you also know that I have your back no matter what.
Michael: Well, and you know what? So I’m going to go deeper than what you just saw because you’re not in my brain. That is a byproduct of something very simple. My values, honesty, kindness, leadership, self-actualization, no excuses. Everything that happens in all of my businesses, in all my relationships, and all my communication, always filters through my value system. So it comes back to what I said a few minutes ago, if you are a leader without values, you’re screwed. You’ve got to figure it out. It’s the same reason I asked employees when I’m going through the hiring process, tell me your values. I cannot have the time when you come into my company to teach you what your values are.
Kelly: Right. It’s not your job.
Michael: Yeah. Exactly. 100%. And so if you don’t know your values as a leader, and somebody that you’re sitting with, you’re not going to be able to have understand whether or not that juxtaposition of where they’re at and where you’re at is positive or negative. Because when I come and I sit down with somebody, and you hear the language I use and the words I speak in the way that I show up, that’s honesty and self-actualization all through and through. Before we recorded, you’re like, you love me because I’m this way and that says who I am all the time.
Like, I’m not going to not be me. And so when you’re in this position, as a leader, and you want to create a culture of authenticity, of vulnerability, of truth, of the ability for people to come and have accountability, and accountability, someone I love said this the other day, and it struck me so hard. He goes, “Accountability should be encouraging.” And you cannot have a couraging accountability when everything is facetious, when everything is on the backside of bullshit, because as a leader you’re afraid to be honest and keep it real.
Kelly: Yeah. Man, well, everybody who’s watching and listening now you know exactly why I wanted to invite my friend Michael onto the show. Michael, thank you so much. I appreciate your time. I know you’re really busy. Thank you for coming on and sharing all of that. I mean, total mic drop. So thank you.
Michael: Well, it’s my pleasure. And thank you for allowing me the space because of you. Now you’re a part of my mission and my goals and that means the world to me. So thank you.