Employer Of Choice: Be The Business People Want To Work At With Rod McDermott And Zach Smith [Episode 53]

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Are you a “company of choice”?

We aren’t only talking about benefits. We’re talking about what it means to truly be a whole entity that is highly in tune with and beneficial for its employees – and how this can be vital for your business growth. In this week’s episode, Doug C. Brown discuss building a whole-minded company with Rod McDermott and Zach Smith, the founders of Activate 180. Doug, Zach, and Rod also talk about becoming the “company of choice”, what employees are truly looking for, the many ways in which the workplace is changing, and much, much more.


In this episode you will learn:


Episode’s guest – Rod McDermott

CSS 53 | Employer Of Choice

Rod McDermott is the CEO and Co-Founder of Activate 180, which helps companies elevate employee performance, productivity, and happiness through affordable coaching for all; the CEO and Co-Founder of McDermott + Bull, one of the fastest-growing executive search firms in North America with offices domestically and internationally.


Episode’s guest – Zach Smith


Zach Smith is the Chief Activation Officer and Co-Founder of Activate 180. He has been a trusted voice in mindset, career optimization, and leadership coaching for over 10 years. Zach has coached thousands of employees across mid-market and enterprise-level organizations, aligning their careers with true calling and passion to create total life fulfillment.

Visit Zach and Rod’s website here: www.activate180.com

Zach and Rod and Activate 180 are giving away 1-month of free coaching, which includes two 60-minute coaching sessions. Applicants must meet specific qualifications to receive 1-month of free coaching. For more information, click here: www.activate180.com/ceosales/

CSS 53 | Employer Of Choice


Employer Of Choice: Be The Business People Want To Work At With Rod McDermott And Zach Smith

I’ve got a couple of great guests, Zach Smith and Rod McDermott. They are from a company called Activate 180. We’re going to talk about how to be the employer of choice. The employer of choice doesn’t necessarily mean you want to employ people in your company. It could be how do you work with outsourced people as well, attract them to your business, and build relationships with them hopefully for life so that they become proponents of your business whether they are an employee internally or they are a vendor externally, but they’re promoting above and beyond for your client base, and how do you retain these people in an era where people are looking now for the quality of life than they ever have been in the past.

They are looking for experiences and life harmony. We’ve got the Millenials. The generation coming up after that is going to be the forerunners in the world. We have a lot of the Baby Boomers and the traditional other groups that are looking at these groups going, “How do I serve these people? How do I get this to the next level, utilizing their talents, labor, and strengths for my particular business? I want to build businesses and relationships long-term.” That’s what our show is about. Let’s go to Zach and Rod.

Zach and Rod, thanks for being on the show. I’m grateful you both are here.

Doug, thanks for having us. We’re excited.

It’s great to be here, Doug. Thank you.

I appreciate you guys being here because it’s such a wonderful subject matter that we’re going to talk about. I have a challenge for everybody reading. Here’s the challenge. Are you the employer of choice? We’re going to talk a lot about that. These two gentlemen on the line have a lot of experience, from recruiting executive CEOs to coaching them and all kinds of disciplines. I want to go right to it if we can. It has always been important, but why is it more important now than ever to be the employer of choice?

I’ll dive in real quick, and Zach will give a little bit of room on this. Companies have to start looking at the whole person when they’re looking to recruit somebody and say, “What is it that we’re offering to them?” In the past, it was career path opportunities. It was financial opportunities. Sometimes it was a little bit of benefits, and you have companies who would say, “We do unlimited vacation.” “That’s cool. I like that.” That’s all becoming passe now.

Now, the next iteration of this is saying, “We get that you spend most of your waking hours with us. We’re here to help you live your best life. We know that when you’re at your best, you’ll be at your best for us too. You’ll be the best co-worker, boss, or subordinate, whatever. You’ll be in the best frame of mind for us to develop you. How do we grow our company? We grow our people.”

You think about it. Apple, Steve Jobs. Steve Wozniak started in Steve Jobs’s garage and became the most valuable company on the planet several years later. Why? It’s because they took people that had great talent and continued to move them ahead. As they move ahead, the company moves ahead. It’s the same thing with Google. You have to look at your people, not just as a means to an end, but almost flip that. We, the company, are means to your end of trying to help you live your best life. If you bring that to us, we’re going to hit our goals.

That is what it comes down to. If you take care of your people, they’ll take care of your business because they’ll be more engaged. They’ll feel supported. When people feel supported and taken care of, they’re going to show up in a bigger way and go that extra mile. In our coaching approach, we look at this five-pillar model when working with people, not just supporting them in their careers.

Gone are the days when you could support the worker. As Rod was talking about, it’s supporting the whole human, the whole individual, and helping them thrive in their lives. We use this five-pillar model. We focus on careers, but we also focus on relationships, both within the organization as well as in their personal lives.

The other pillars are life experiences, health, and wellness. It’s building lifestyle habits that support them in optimizing energy and managing stress levels. Lastly, finances. The reason that we do this, and it’s supported by a lot of great data from Gallup, shows that if people are operating at a high level in each of these five areas, they’re much more likely to feel fulfilled in their careers and feel connected to the organization.

If they’re a size seven or above in each of those areas in a personal rating, they’re half as likely to turn over as an employee as well because their lives are working well. What happens for people is if they’re only focused on their career and aren’t having a well-balanced and living with attention, then things start to fall apart in their life.

If you take care of your people, they'll take care of your business. Click To Tweet

They’re having a sacrificial conversation because they feel like they need to pull from one to give to the other, but if the company supports them in living that well-rounded life, they don’t feel like they’re missing out on anything. They can show up fully engaged and supported and unlock potential for the employer. That is what helps people feel connected and weaved into what the company cares about. It’s by feeling taking care of themselves. It’s the give and take. It’s the energetic exchange that creates that.

I’m going to try to unpack a little bit of this. Firstly, we all know that cost of turnover is exorbitantly expensive in a business. People get it intellectually. I don’t think they still practice it across the board. What you said was a means to an end. If you take care of your people, they will take care of your business. All employers tend to want that, but they don’t embrace what you guys are talking about. They’ve been forced to now, which I’d love to delve into. When you guys were speaking, it reminded me of the story of something I read at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. Whether people like Steve Wynn or they don’t, this story embodies what you guys are saying.

A guest comes to the casino, and the wife forgot her needed medication. It was a critical medication that she needed for her health. One of the employees took it upon himself to drive almost two hours one way, pick her prescription up, and bring it back to the hotel for her. It wasn’t a requirement for this young man to do it. He just did it. I would love to get your input on this.

When people are working, whether employees or partners and people in the company, when they’re treated in a manner in which they feel valued and respected, they will go above and beyond. Who wins? Not only is the company, but the customer itself. The customer is now so happy. They start making referrals, or you end up in an article that some guy 3,000 miles away reads and goes, “Maybe next time I go to Vegas, I’ll stay at the Wynn Hotel.” What do you guys think?

Being a CEO myself, I’m a student of a lot of those kinds of stories. I’ve read stories about Southwest Airlines. It’s the same kind of thing. They empower their people to solve the problem, get it done and make sure the customers are happy. I’m a huge believer in that. The reverse is also true. If the company says, “This is what we want you to do. Do this and stay in this box here.” They don’t look at the whole human. They just look at the person as a means to an end, then those people, that’s when they adopt the attitude, “That’s not my job. This lady left her prescription.”

You end up with a company that’s like that. Over time, from a service level, you’re going to be beat out by your competitors if that’s the game you’re playing. If you’re playing a price game, you can play that game all day long. You just got to be the cheapest price. It depends on what part of the market you’re trying to hit. At the end of the day, we believe like you believe, that turnover is expensive. The cost of a new employee is generally double.

In my business, it’s doubled the first year, and it’s one and a half times the second year of what an existing employee, which means we can pay that person way more to keep them. We’re still doing better than if we have to replace them because of their productivity. My business, their best productivity starts in year three. If we lose people in less than three years, we’re losing them at their best right before their best. We can’t afford to do that.

Adding to that, what you’re talking about, Doug, is what I see as an impact player when you say that. It’s somebody willing to say, “I’m going to do this not because it’s my job. It’s because it needs to get done for the good of the company, for this individual that is a client of ours. We can go above and beyond.” Those are the type of people that are impact players.

You might also refer to that as a culture influencer, the type of person that shows up big that’s encouraging other people, that cultivates energy amongst the company. Those people have options. They have a lot of people coming after them. You could consider that risk of them taking the initiative to say, “I’m going to go do this because I know it’s the right thing to do.”

Organizations giving people that autonomy to be able to go out and make those decisions for the good of the company creates synergy. To know that, “This is how we operate. We care for the greater good. We care for our people, and we put them first.” Knowing that means that they’ve aligned on what the guiding principles are and what their true North is. They’re able to follow that. Daniel Pink does some great work around this, around motivation too.

He says there are three main elements of motivation. That is autonomy, purpose, and mastery, the ability to master your craft. If you’re giving people space to be able to accomplish those things, you’re going to get more out of them. You’re going to have the intrinsic natural energy to go that extra mile. That’s what you’re achieving. If people have that, they’re not going to be looking elsewhere. Employers need to be able to create that support for the impact players, for those people to want to stay and be engaged fully.

CSS 53 | Employer Of Choice
Employer Of Choice: You spend most of your waking hours with us, and we’re here to help you live your best life. We know that when you’re at your best, you’ll be at your best for us too.


Doug, I want to make one other quick point on this. There’s a company that I know fairly well that’s the leader in their space globally. They’re about a $12 billion business. The founders have a saying. This first got published back in the ’90s when they said this. It was revolutionary back then. We all grew up as the, “Customer comes first, take care of the customer.”

They said, “Customer doesn’t make our list. We have only two entities on our list. Our employees come first. Our vendors come second. If we take care of our employees and our vendors, they’ll take care of the customers.” Because these founders have this philosophy, they’ve grown their business into the largest in the world in their space.

It’s a $12 billion company. It’s unique. I’ve tried to recruit people out of that company. It’s hard to do. They’re a private company, but they take care of their people with internal equity grants and it’s phantom equity. It’s owned by these two individuals, but they are renowned for taking care of the people. They walk the talk.

What I love about what you guys are talking about is everything that you’re saying comes down to this. I’ll get Tony Robbins credit on this because he came out with the basic human needs. If we look at growth, contribution, significance, love, connection, all of these human needs, what I’m hearing is the shift has happened where people are not looking for just money or financial gains any longer.

It’s part of security, which is also a need for a lot of people. However, that’s not the driving force or the only force now. It’s all the other human needs that are coming together in which people are looking at life, especially after now, we shifted a bit off the pandemic, Ukraine and Russia conflict, the escalating prices, and everything that’s been going on with gasoline being $6 a gallon or plus. What people are going for now is, “What’s my quality of life going to be like when I’m here now? How can I be stable in an organization that is going to take care of all of this for me, and I’ll take care of all of that for them?” Do you guys agree or disagree with that?

I agree. This is Zach’s teachings. It is one word we call fulfillment. There are a whole lot of ways to get fulfillment, but if I can get fulfillment from my company, I can rate my fulfillment a 9 or 10 out of 10. Some of that is, “I’m getting compensated fairly. I’m getting developed fairly. My company cares about my well-being, not just at work but at home. They’re helping me live my best life.” All these things dive into this one big area. That’s the grading scale that employees are using. We all complained for a long time about the Millennials and the Gen Z, and in 2021, the Baby Boomer.

We’ve been looking at this generation. They didn’t want to work. The reality is they wanted fulfillment. They wanted to be able to take a hike on a Friday afternoon and then come back and clean up their emails and do stuff. They don’t want to be stuck in an office necessarily doing that. They want to look at their career as having a portfolio of experiences that allow them to have a personal and professional life. They still want to move ahead. They’re still driven. They want to take great trips to Europe. They want to do fun things. They want to have life experiences. It’s not just work-life balance. Zach, you say it best. I’m not going to steal it from you. What’s your quote?

“It’s work-life harmony.”

They work together.

That’s what it’s about. The game has changed. What I saw happen when the pandemic took hold was people were moving on this cycle. Everyone got shook a bit, and they caused a reevaluation because people got out of this rapid pace of going and working towards something that, as they got a chance to evaluate, maybe they realized it was not the highest priority or value to them. In some of the older generations, the younger generation is already starting to realize that maybe that veil has been lifted of, “If I achieve enough and make enough money, then I’ll have happiness and I’ll feel fulfilled.”

That’s changing. To me, that’s evident in also some great research that’s been done. Harvard Business Review released a stat that I thought was staggering. What it said was that fulfillment was the reason that 9 out of 10 people would be willing to leave their job for less money. As Rod was talking about, these things are still important to be able to support yourself and support the life experiences that you want to have.

It's not work-life balance. It's work-life harmony. Click To Tweet

To be able to support yourself financially is still important, but it’s about getting a fair wage and being treated fairly. That was what was found in some great research that was also done by MIT Sloan around the Great Resignation. The initial interpretation was that a lot of it was because of compensation, and that’s why people were leaving.

They found that on the list of reasons that people were leaving, compensation was number sixteen. There were fifteen things ahead of why people were resigning from their roles ahead of compensation if they felt like they were being treated fairly. Number one was a toxic corporate culture. People are feeling like they were disrespected and not treated fairly, and diversity, equity, and inclusion were not incorporated into the organization.

There were a lot of different components that led to this. What they found was if people are able to have fulfillment and if they’re able to feel purposeful in what they’re doing, that is a currency. It’s one that’s valuable, especially to the upcoming generations. Companies that are paying attention to it are going to be able to get and retain great talent. Those that aren’t willing to change are going to struggle.

We’re speaking with Zach Smith and Rod McDermott of Activate 180. It is the company name. You’re going to get a chance to get some exposure to that. We’re hitting a crucial point, especially because Rod, you mentioned you’re at the end of the Baby Boomers. I am too. Zach, I’m going to assume you’re not young anymore either.

A lot of times, when companies come to me and go, “I want to hire elite sales performers,” my first question to them is, “Are you an A player company?” They don’t think about that. What I’ve found is because a lot of companies are still run by Baby Boomers or even traditionalists, the next generation up, they look at Millennials and the new generation coming up as if they don’t understand it.

It fries their brain a little bit to think that, “What do you mean they want experiences and harmony and all of this?” It’s one of the situations that this is something that people can capitalize on if they embrace it because it’s not a question of, “Is this going to happen?” It’s already happened and continues to happen. Those generations will take on.

I’m sure their grandchildren and great-grandchildren will come along and throw them a curve ball too. You guys find that maybe like I do in the companies I have helped, it’s not 100%, but it’s out there. A lot of the people, our generation and above, are having a hard time embracing this new concept of the new reality.

I see it when I talk to a lot of folks, even younger than me. I’ll talk to folks that are in their late 40s. They’re like, “I’m an old soul. I worked my ass off to get ahead. I did everything. I paid my dues. My kids were born, I was back at the desk the next day, and I did all this stuff.” Now they want to take a month off and do all these things. There’s a certain amount of fighting it versus understanding it. The other side of the coin, and this is my personal perspective, is that we as employers change the rules. Prior to the 1980s, you could work for a company for your whole career.

My dad spent 35 years at Merck. They moved him ahead, developed him, and gave him new experiences. He’d worked in this job for 3 to 4 years, and then they gave him something else before he got bored. He had a pension. He still, to this day, lives off his pension. Pensions are gone. There are 12% of the companies out there that offer pensions. They view employees now as a variable cost.

Whereas before, they viewed them as a fixed cost, “We’re going to bring you in. We’re going to train you.” There are a few training programs. This is happening in the banking industry now. This is interesting. I got off the phone with somebody at a client who’s on the board of a $10 billion bank. They’re like, “We’re having problems finding people the exact level.”

I said, “That’s because they’re all the same age as your CEO, who’s 66.” They’re all retiring. The training programs are gone because banks are focused on this quarter’s numbers that they don’t want to spend money and send their people to training programs. I started at Citibank in the ’80s. I went to training every quarter in New York City.

CSS 53 | Employer Of Choice
Employer Of Choice: If we lose people in less than three years, we’re losing them at their best right before their best. We can’t afford to do that.


They put me up in a hotel. They bring a Harvard professor down. The training was six months in the beginning. They don’t do that anymore. The companies were the ones who changed the rules. They started looking at, “90-day, 13 weeks, I got to hit my numbers. I got to deliver to Wall Street. I’ve got to keep my costs in a band here.” We, as employees, became variable costs.

Now, all of a sudden, the employee is saying, “If I’m a variable cost, then I want this side over here too. I want to live my life too. I want all the benefits, not just compensation or time off benefits. I want to be able to live my best life.” We were the ones who started that by saying, “If you want to retire, you better be putting money in your 401(k). That’s not my problem. That’s your problem.”

I tell employers now that you can fight the new reality, or you can learn to speak this new language. If you can speak this new language, you can speak to this new base of employees. You can pay them in the currencies that they want, and they will pay you in the currency you want, which is growth in revenue, profitability, and market share in your business. You can both have it.

You’re right on it, Rod. At the end of the day, what I see happen a lot is these conversations are happening. I don’t understand. I feel like we’re providing the things that we want. We’ve got our mission and guiding principles, but these decisions oftentimes are made in a silo at the top. That’s where people get sideways. It’s just not understanding, but it’s hard to understand if you’re not listening. The key is to listen because those younger generations, I consider myself a cusp of Millennial. I am still in the Millennial generation but in the latter part of it. I’m in that in-between. I’ve got this opportunity to work with all the different generations.

This younger group wants to feel heard. They want to be a part of the conversation. They want to be a part of something. If you give them that opportunity, you not only can learn, but you also are going to help them feel like they’re making their mark. You’re going to weave them into what you’re doing. That is what is creating the engagement because now, 85% of workers are not engaged. It’s because they don’t feel that level of support and engagement with the organization, what they’re doing and why it matters. You’re going to see this huge emergence of companies being put into this position where they’re going to have to be transparent about who they are, what they care about, why they do what they do, and how you can be a part of it.

As we’re talking about currencies, it’s going to be a major one. That’s one thing that I would say, is take the opportunity to listen, because you’ll see a massive receptiveness, and people will have the opportunity. If you put that out there, you have to be willing to listen and make some adjustments. That will uplevel your engagement to a whole new place. You’re also able to get some great ideas from people that have their finger on the pulse of where things are going. Sometimes the newer generation gets a bad rap, but they’re talented and think differently. They’re thinking outside the box and making their own rules. That is where things are going. Listen.

Society said the same thing about the ’60s, “I wonder who’s running companies now.” I love what you said. You got to listen. Sometimes companies, when I talk to them, they’re like, “I can’t get my marketing to work.” We look at the messaging, and it’s off. They go, “What do I do?” “Who are you listening to?” To listen, one must first ask a question. Go back to your client base. Go back to your potential buyers. Ask them what they want, then build your marketing around that. It will resonate. It’s not hard, but a lot of people look at that. What you’re saying, Zach and Rod, is so true.

They’re making these decisions up in some ivory tower somewhere amongst a little board room, but they’re not asking these people what they want, but these people are saying, “I’m demanding this. If I don’t get this, I’m not going to work. I’m not going to do it.” It’s creating all these job shortages around for people.

I can only imagine now that people reading this are going, “I got the point. What do I do about this?” Let’s go to the experts, Zach and Rod, with Activate 180. What does the company do about this at this point? I know listening is cool, but give me a step-by-step game plan to the best of our ability on this call if so.

It’s looking at the new levels of support. One of the approaches that we take is to provide a model so that everyone within an organization can have access to a coach. Traditionally, coaching has been done either at the executive level or for people that need to be fixed or turned around. We take a different approach.

For us, it’s being able to provide constant support for people to feel like they’re developing personally and professionally and that they’re building emotional intelligence levels. What we’re doing within that, too, is emotional intelligence within yourself, but also with others. That coupled with skill-building around effective communication so that people know how to communicate if something feels off because if you’re not doing that, you’re holding onto it.

The way employees are going to be engaged is when they know their company is moving them ahead and developing them. Click To Tweet

You’re building resentment. Resentment leads to disconnection. Disconnection leads to, “I’m going to look elsewhere for something that feels better.” Instead of getting people holding onto something, you’re getting people leaning in. The key is if you’re listening, you’re also creating psychological safety. You’re opening up the conversation for people to take an interpersonal risk, share their ideas, and be bold and innovative, which in turn is going to create further engagement.

It’s not only just in the listening. It’s also in the further engagement of your people. We do that through coaching, training, and development because people want to feel like they’re growing. The thing is that people want to feel like they’re growing and developing. Another thing too, and I referenced this in the article from MIT Sloan and the studies they did, the number one way they found to build retention was in lateral job opportunities.

That was the number one way. It wasn’t in job promotions, but it was just variance. That’s also something. It’s variance in new opportunities. We talked about the experience, this currency that people want. That also applies to people’s roles. If you get in this redundant space of doing the same thing day after day, people’s attention spans have diminished.

They say that we have the average attention span now of a goldfish with these newer generations. If you have people doing the same thing day in and day out and are in a place of redundancy, they probably are going to get disengaged. If you couple growth and development with other opportunities to be able to advance their career and lives, then you’re going to create an open space for people to feel like they’re getting better. An intrinsic human need that people have is to feel like they’re growing.


I’ll take it from a company perspective, Doug. Companies are stretched thin. Most of them want to be employers of choice. They’re just not sure how. They like the idea of helping their employees live their best lives. They’re just not sure how to do it. Having run an executive search firm for the last years and been able to interact with CEOs of small companies all the way up to pretty big companies, we hear some of the challenges they are having, holding onto their people, recruiting people, and then developing their people for jobs.

Oftentimes, when we do a search, there’s an internal candidate or two that should be ready, but there was no internal development. They do have a learning and development department. That’s usually one leader and a couple of folks. They run training programs, and they put everybody in training once or twice a year, but that’s not real development.

Real development is saying, “Here are some areas that we’re going to work on, at least in the career side of things. Here are the transitions and progression we want to make so that you are promotable and ready for that next opportunity.” I know this sounds counterintuitive to what I do. Our executive search business oftentimes is called because the client says, “We’ve got a couple of people who want to put their hat in the ring. We don’t think they’re ready for the job.” In the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “How come you didn’t get them ready? What are the things?” I know the reality. The reality is they don’t have the resources. You might have 1,000 employees in a human resources department of 15 people.

They can’t give the other 985 employees coaching and development on an ongoing basis, but we can. That’s what Activate 180 has done. Zach talked about the 85% of folks that, at one point or another, are disengaged. That’s where the 180 comes in. We want to activate these folks and do a 180 on that disengagement and make it 85% of them are engaged.

The way they’re going to be engaged is because they know their company is moving them ahead and developing them. It’s interesting. One of the add-on products that we’ve developed over the last few years is spouse and family coaching because we’ve had people call us and say, “My husband or my wife is excited about the development that I’ve had, and they want some of that. Can we get that for them? Can I get them a coach?”

You start seeing people develop in all these areas of their lives. Companies have it within their power. They’ve looked at it in the past. I’ll share my example. I’ve had an executive coach for years. He’s been amazing. He’s helped us build a pretty decent-sized company. We’re now global in our executive search business. There’s no way I could have done it without him, but I also couldn’t offer him to everybody in my company on a regular basis. I met with him twice a month for over twenty years, but I’d have extra hours, and people say, “Can I get an hour of his time?” It was usually life-changing to be able to do that, but it was an hour here and an hour there.

CSS 53 | Employer Of Choice
Employer Of Choice: If you couple growth and development with other opportunities to be able to advance their career and lives, then you’re going to create an open space for people to really feel like they’re getting better.


I would spread them around to whoever might need him. It was $500 an hour. It’s too much money. I can’t afford to do that, so we created a model where it’s affordable for companies to offer it to every employee who wants a coach. It’s almost a rounding error on what you pay. Compensation is between 3/4 of 1% and 1.5% of the comp of that person. That’s not how we bill, but it can be as cheap as $125 a month. That’s how cheap it can be. For that level, can I get a return on investment? Yes. The ROI is easy to get to. That’s the solution that companies have needed.

They just don’t have the scale in their L&D departments to be able to offer real development of people on an ongoing monthly basis. That’s the answer that companies are going to buy. There’s a bunch of companies that have raised a bunch of money that have scaled fast. The education of what we do now is becoming pretty proliferated on a global basis. Companies are realizing, “This is a true, not only employee benefit, it’s a baseline offering to be able to build my people up and develop them into who I need.”

How do people get ahold of you guys? I get it, coaching. By the way, I’m going to do a plug for coaching because I was a coach for many years. I took a little experiment. I looked back through the years I had coaching. I took the years I didn’t. I cross-compared them and added all up the numbers. Every year I had coaching, I grew by about an average of 22%. When I looked at that number, I was like, “Why didn’t I do this for these years and that year?”

When you look at the myriad of years over the time period, it’s huge compounding growth. I don’t think coaching is an option for anybody who wants to AB an A player or be at the top of their game. We all heard the adage, “All these top people always have coaches.” Why? It’s because coaching gets us to think on a different level, act on a different level, and make decisions on a different level.

I ran the numbers, and it was 22% a year. If anybody’s reading this and going, “Is a coach right for me?” do you want to grow? The ride inside the vehicle is always different than of somebody outside the vehicle looking at the vehicle. I remember one day, I was driving down the road, and somebody was pointing at my car. I was like, “What do you want?”

I rolled down the window, and they go, “You got a flat tire starting on the back of the car.” I didn’t know. They were my coach outside looking in. I was like, “Thank goodness.” I pulled over to the tire shop. They fixed it. I didn’t get stuck in the hot heat in the middle of the summertime in an area. People looking for coaching, how do they get ahold of you guys? What’s the best route.

You can find us at Activate180.com. That’s a great way to find us and get a feel for a little bit more of what we do. There’s also an opportunity to Contact Us page there. I got my email here because I love hearing from people. We’d love to start the conversation with you. My email is ZSmith@Activate180.com. Rodd’s is RMcDermott@Activate180.com.

We’d love to hear from you and start the conversation. There’s only so much we can cover here, but we love talking about this because we care about cultivating and architecting incredible cultures. We deeply care about people. That’s what this is all about. For companies that get that, that’s their greatest asset. That’s how we show up big and who we’re able to support. That’s how you can find us.

Doug, I was going to share something too. It’s not quite the same calculation that you did. Over the last several years, we’ve paid our coach about $1.5 million, but we’ve done hundreds of millions in business over that period of time. It’s less than 1%. I 100% know we wouldn’t be where we are now without the coaching we received. It’s the same with some of our senior folks in our company who received that.

When we started rolling out Activate 180 internally over the last couple of years in our own company, the growth that we’ve seen was astronomical. When people were so busy, I had a handful of folks talk to me and say, “I don’t know that I could have gotten through the year without my coach.” One person said to me, “I wouldn’t be the husband, father, and partner I am to my co-workers if I had had my coach with the amount of business that we processed in 2021.”

It makes a ton of sense. We, as human beings, always look long-term. We’re supposed to get married for life. We’re not thinking most of us, “I’ll get married. In 22 months, I’ll redo this. In eight months, I’ll jump out of this and do it again.” We want long-term friends. We want friends we’ve had from childhood to grow with us and all of this stuff.

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It makes sense that we should hold on to employees who want to be there and who are productive. When we’re dating or trying to woo the other partner, we do all kinds of things. We make calls and send love letters. We do all things that maybe aren’t appropriate in the business setting to send a love letter, but the point being is that we do extra special stuff.

We’re constantly checking in with our partners to say, “Are you happy?” When they’re not, we’re trying to fix the problem. As employers, they look at this thing as almost a commodity sometimes. It’s just an expectation. They’re not realizing that this is a person and this person wants to be developed, and they want to grow because, as a human, we must.

Not to keep quoting Tony Robbins, but you’re either growing or you’re dying or sliding back. What you guys do makes so much sense. I know from having relationships that were not good. I can look back and look directly at my business and realize, “My business didn’t grow that well because my relationship was not that good. My relationship is great. My business grew by millions.” It’s those types of things.

Everything is holistic here. That’s what I love about what you guys do at Activate 180. It’s not just like, “Let’s work on this one piece of the business and forget about all that other stuff.” That’s not going to necessarily filter into the business when it is the business because it is the person that you’re dealing with. Gentlemen, this has been an outstanding interview. I know people got a great value for this. I appreciate you guys being here. I know we can’t cover everything. Maybe I should’ve asked you what you guys were hoping, “I will be asked this question.” Did I go to do a good job, and we’re good to go?

You did a great job. There’s one piece that I felt myself wanting to add when we were talking about how you create this environment and how you support your people. The one other piece that I wanted to add is support your leaders because they’re the people that are engaging with your people day in and day out. Make sure that they have systems for performance management to support their people in growth. What I find is if you can get managers out of this place of needing to fix, be the answer to everything, but teach how to empower people, help them find their answers, and coach their people also, you’re creating an environment and a coaching culture where you are preparing people for that next level.

There’s one more piece I did want to add because it’s important. Make sure that your leaders are effective and have the support that they need. You’re a manager by title, and you’re a leader by how you show up for your people. That is ultimately the key. Doug, thank you so much. I love being here. I love this conversation. I could talk with you about this stuff all day long. We love it. Thank you for all the work you’re doing.

I appreciate it, Zach.

Doug, this has been a lot of fun. The only thing I would add also is that if employers are having a hard time saying, “Can we actually adopt this kind of mentality? We’ve been around for 10, 20, 30 years and we have this culture that’s been set and ingrained,” look back to March of 2020 when they shut down. I can’t tell you how many companies I know, including my own company.

If you were to ask me, could I work out of this home office for a year plus and get things done? I would have said not a chance. I can’t do it. I learned I could. Not only I could, but I could also do well and prosper and have a little more balance. I usually start my day here and end my day here, and I’ll go up to the office, which is twenty minutes away outside traffic hours.

Get some phone calls done on the way, but no longer am I competing with a million other cars on the road or doing any of that stuff. I walk 100 feet that way, and I get to have dinner with my family at 6:30 at night. That’s cool. I’m more productive, but I wouldn’t have been able to buy into this had we not had a pandemic. Sometimes we’re forced by necessity into being open-minded. That’s happening now when you see the movement of employees and the velocity that’s been taking place over the last couple of years.

They’re voting with their feet to go to organizations that they feel are aligned with the life they want to live. You can be that organization. You can do this, trust me, but there’s going to be a little bit of training, and it’s going to be a little uncomfortable and different, but you can get through it. On the other side, you’re going to find, “We’re better for it.” You might enjoy your life better.

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Employer Of Choice: You’re a manager by title, and you’re a leader by how you show up for your people.


I firmly agree with this. As you guys are saying, this story popped into my head. I used to be a professional DJ. I’d be a mobile DJ most of the time. I would do corporate events and thousands of weddings. Every once in a while, I would do these long-term marital anniversaries, 40-year, 50-year, 55-year, and 60-year anniversaries. I would notice the people would be happy with one another. They still look like they were teenagers in love and all of this stuff.

Many of them had built businesses together. I would go up and ask them because I was so curious. I was like, “What’s the secret here?” The woman would always say the same thing, “You listen to each other. You take care of one another. You empower one another,” which is what you said, Zach. I would ask the guy, “What do you think?” He goes, “Someone has to be the leader. You always listen to her. You ask questions and understand one fundamental that she’s always right.”

He laughed a little bit. It was almost verbatim. All of these people had long successful relationships. They were looking for long-term gain and benefit from one another. They would coach each other through life. I know my wife does that for me. She’ll say to me sometimes, because we have daughters, “You’re thinking like a man.” I’m like, “How do I not think like a man because I am a man?” She’d be like, “This is how perspective on how a woman thinks.” That allows me to change my thinking to communicate better with my daughters.

Anybody who is questioning, “Is coaching for me or not for me?” I’m pushing hard on this show for people to contact you guys because I know what it brings on the other side. Reach out to these guys. They are the real deal. Gentlemen, once again, thanks for being here on the show. I want to have you back if you’ll come back.

Thanks, Doug. It’s a pleasure.

Everyone, wasn’t that a great episode? They probably think about the long-term versus short-term commodity of an employee or outsourced vendor. We all want long-term relationships, people who care, and people who proactively build our businesses, but how do you do that? How do you reduce the turnover of that? It’s expensive, whether it’s internal or external. A lot of people think, “I have a vendor out there. It’s an external vendor. I’m not paying them as they sell. I’m not paying them all that stuff.” When you turn them over, now you’ve got to find a new one. Sometimes finding a new one doesn’t always go that well.

The questions that were being asked were, “Are you set up as an A player company to attract A player talent to you? How do you deal with the generations coming up if you’re an older generation? If you’re even in that generation, how do you even raise what’s going on and be able to do that profitably, be able to have, build, grow people, and give them their own human needs that they’re looking for, as well as provide them a pathway to live a life working with you, not just for you?”

I hope you got a lot out of this episode. Check out Activate 180. Rod and Zach are both professional guys. I’ve had several conversations with them. Give them a look. If you want or need anything from a particular episode that you want me to do, send me an email at Doug@CEOSalesStrategies.com or @DougBrown123, that’s my LinkedIn address. Let me know what you want for the subject matter. We’ll source talent and bring this subject matter to you because we’re here for you, our readers.

Speaking of being a reader, if you would, tell other people about his. Bring them forth. Have them subscribe to the show. If you haven’t, please do so yourself. If you love this show, please give it a glowing review. The more reviews, the more subscribers, and the higher the algorithms. It will be in my favor and the company’s favor to bring this show up so we can continue to keep bringing you great talent.

If you want to build your business, talk about sales, talk about how to get into the top 1% of sales globally, you want a higher trained manager to retain top elite performers, those A player salespeople, reach out to me at Doug@CEOSalesStrategies.com. Give me a call to the company at (603) 595-0303, or hit me up on LinkedIn @DougBrown123. Until next time, go out and sell some stuff. Sell it profitably. Sell a lot of it. Be happy and live your life to its fullest capacity to your success.


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