Cultural Habits that Build Trust

In this, The Faces of Business episode, David Mead, Founder, David Mead, talks about Cultural Habits that Build Trust and allow business leaders to foster a good culture in the teams and businesses they lead.

In this, The Faces of Business episode, David Mead, Founder, David Mead, talks about Cultural Habits that Build Trust and allow business leaders to foster a good culture in the teams and businesses they lead.

As a culturalist, David brings a relatable, human approach to leadership and simple, practical tools that leaders and their teams can use daily to build trust and human connection. It allows teams to achieve higher performance, innovation, collaboration, retention, and well-being.

David has spent over a decade working with and learning from leaders worldwide. He helps leaders implement good cultural habits, sharing a simple framework for leading and influencing others with humanity, regardless of role or title.

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David also co-authored the phenomenally successful book “Find Your Why” with Peter Docker and Simon Sinek in 2017. That has been translated into 25 languages and sold 400,000 copies.

Damon’s fondness for culture is no secret. He is pleased to welcome David on his Livestream.

Damon asks David to share how he became a culturalist. David bifurcates his answer into two parts. The unconscious mind and conscious decision.

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He starts with the conscious part first. After graduating in five different majors, from architecture to forestry, he could not figure out what he would become. After college, he “bounced around between different sales jobs.”

David got interested in corporate training gigs and soon landed a job as a corporate trainer for a Yellow Pages company. He liked to share and incorporate new information. The progression from sales-centric sales training to training door-to-door campaigners showed David a path down to culturalism.

In March 2009, during training, he met a guest speaker named Simon Sinek, who would become David’s long-term business partner, co-author, and confidante. Simon shared this idea about the Golden Circle and Purpose. He explained this theory so well that it was easy to grasp.

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When David listened to the speaker carefully, he could figure out “why I’ve done really well in certain jobs. And I’ve done really poorly in others.” He would write it down in the training material. When Simon returned to visit them, David handed him a copy of the training manual. Simon was surprised at how I translated his speech into the written manuscript. He offered David a partnership right away. Simon’s first book and TED Talk came out in late 2009. That was the first time David knew about culture.

Similarly, David is pleased to present his ideas and experience in a book form.

From David, Damon learns that many companies hardly adhere to what they superficially say. Moreover, in training sessions and leadership summits, David says he could relate to and internalize whatever the speaker said. He believes Simon influenced him positively and shaped his career.

David points out that people’s flawless professional façade masks their unwillingness to change. He categorizes these types of individuals into categories. The guest points out impostor syndrome if a person in a leadership position tries “to keep that façade up.”

Disproportionate sense of education, experience, promotion, and achievement keeps “that humanity from coming out is so often in a leadership position.” Damon reflects that one’s confession of one’s mistakes and weaknesses doesn’t make one lesser a being. Besides, “it’s easier for leaders to understand and embrace a different way of leading that builds that culture of trust.”

David elaborates on diverging perspectives on whether or not leaders should share their emotions and admit fallibility. Some leaders are comfortable with that, while others conceal their feelings and human side. To David, it is entirely an individual’s choice.

Damon invites David’s comments on the concept of leadership in today’s business. The guest, through analogies, shortlists some leadership traits:

They care about their team.

They teach their juniors productively.

They help the team connect with the business’s vision, mission, and goal.

“All these human characteristics that make these leaders magnetic,” David believes.

David shares his observation regarding the change in the work environment in recent years. He bifurcates these changes into eras: the pre- and post-COVID-19 Pandemic. Before the Shutdown, we got along with our jobs and enjoyed them to a certain extent. The practice of coming to the office, mingling with people having the banter, and the like made our lives livable. On the other hand, as soon as we went remote, “we were sitting by ourselves in front of our computers.” We lost the human connection, and culture was ignored all of a sudden.

The guest further elaborates on the idea, saying “leaders were not prepared” for hybrid working conditions. They could not distinguish their professional lives from their private lives.

David opines that besides our person and mind, we need to show up with our heart if we genuinely care about our human experience. When a coach gets tough on us, they believe we have more inside us than we think. “It’s not about being nice.”

With a pleasant working environment, as David declares, he is not “a hippie fest where we all hug and sing Kumbaya.” Rather, he refers to an organization that cares about performance, innovation, transparent communication, retention, and the well-being of its staff. Undue job stress causes “innovation to go out the window.” Moreover, it leaves one more anxious and depressed. Under these circumstances, a business can barely sustain, let alone grow!

Damon seeks David’s advice for those who want to practice exemplary cultural practices.

The guest replies that he lets people identify three traits: honesty, humility, and humanity. “These are something I believe every single one of us has inside of us already.”

Honesty, according to David, is not limited to telling the truth. “More importantly, it is about living and behaving in alignment with what we profess to stand for.” The biggest killer of trust is “when a leader says one thing and does something else.”

Similarly, humility is about admitting our weaknesses without getting defensive. And significantly, it is to realize our strengths and abilities without letting ego get in the way. The guest suggests that people put these traits into practice.

Damon asks the guest what plans he has while helping people. David reveals that his focus is now implementation of the ideas that he mentioned earlier. He intends to create an online course to train business leaders on his ideals. His target audience is small and medium enterprises. David wants to unlock people’s captive goodness in this nine-month organizational program. “They don’t have to learn anything new. They just got to become aware of what they’ve already got,” he feels.

Damon concludes the discussion by saying, “This has been awesome thinking.”

The conversation ends with Damon thanking David for his time.

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people, leaders, habits, company, simon, organization, culture, thinking, leadership, sudden, progression, facade, talk, human, idea, helping, write, feel, put, trust


Damon Pistulka, David Mead


Damon Pistulka  00:01

All right, everyone, welcome once again to the faces of business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. And I’m excited for our guests today, because we have David Mead here is going to be talking, David’s going to be talking about cultural habits at build trust. David, welcome.


David Mead  00:18

Thank you, Damon, great to be here.


Damon Pistulka  00:20

Oh, yeah, this is gonna be a lot of fun because you know, culture, if there’s one thing that has risen to the top of people’s concern meters, or whatever you want to try to say, in the last couple of years, are really in the last year and a half? I think more than than any as, as people are changing jobs and, and a lot more of the, what did they say that the the turnover of people is culture, because culture keeps people around, and it helps helps you retain people.

So what? Let’s just start as we normally do, David, tell us a little bit about your background, and really what, what got you into culture? What got you into thinking about culture, and then studying about it, and then finally teaching people about it, and we just what really hooked you in on it?


David Mead  01:14

It’s an interesting question. Because the, I started unconsciously thinking about it way before I started consciously thinking about thinking about it. So I’ll start with the conscious part, because that’s where, you know, things really sort of started, but I had always been, I mean, I graduated from college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. And I had got been through like, five, not completely, but I had started five different majors, right? from architecture to forestry to like, I could not figure it out. And I just graduated and communications because I wanted to get out of there.

And so I after college, I just kind of, you know, bounced around between different some different sales jobs, just to try to figure out what I wanted to do and where I wanted to land. My dad, when I was growing up, was a consultant for Franklin Covey. And, you know, he traveled all over the place, and you know, seemed like that Job was kind of interesting. And I thought, oh, that might be cool. So I went out and looked for some corporate training gigs.

And I ended up landing a job as a corporate trainer for a Yellow Pages company. So I’m dating myself a little bit. But did that for a while. And, and that’s where I kind of got the, that initial sort of spark of who it’s like, it’s really nice to share new information with people to be able to have them, you know, incorporate that and go and do something different with it. And I love seeing that progression from I used to be here. And now I’m here because of what I’ve learned. So I thought, well, that’s, that’s cool.

I didn’t love the sales training part just because there’s traditionally so much turnover and sales. And yeah, I would train these people. It was like a two week long training program. And then three months later, they were gone. I was like, oh, like, I didn’t really get to see that continued progression, which I really wanted to see. So anyway, fast forward a few years, I had been hired as the Director of Training for this little startup.

And there’s only about 15 people in the company. But they did door to door sales, they sold satellite TV, you know, door to door in the summertime. And I was I was there for about a week. It was about a week into the job. And they said, Hey, we’re having this this off site. We’re doing this little, you know, team building thing next Tuesday night you want to come on? I said, Sure. They said we’re gonna have a guest speaker. And so I showed up and some guy named Simon Sinek walked in. This was 2009, March of 2009.

Nobody had any clue who the guy was at the time. Yeah. So he came in. And he shared this idea that he had about start with why and the Golden Circle and purpose and all this kind of stuff. And it was like, oh, like I, I knew it already. But I hadn’t heard anybody actually put it into words and into a way that was really easy to explain and easy to grasp. So I thought purpose that explains all of a sudden, why I’ve done really well in certain jobs.

And I’ve done really poorly in other jobs. And so I really kind of gravitated toward that concept. And I wrote it down into the training stuff that I was writing for this little startup. Well, Simon came back two or three times to visit us and work with us and stuff. And I gave him a copy of the training manual that I had written, just to kind of show him what he had inspired.

And he was surprised that I could hear him speak once and turn it into something. And so he asked me if I would come and help him put together an online course that he was putting together. And this was right about the time that the his first book and his first TED Talk came out in late 2009. So I worked on that project, and then he kept me on, you know, part time to do some other content stuff and you know, answering emails and whatever. There are only three of us on the team at the time. Yeah.

And so that’s kind of where I started thinking, oh my gosh, like, there’s something to this culture thing, and showing up with purpose and having it be more than just, you know, selling, you know, X number of units or, you know, being this financial target or whatever, as important as those things are. Like, if there’s no meaning to it like it. It’s, it’s not as it’s not as it’s uninspiring, obviously, right. So that’s sort of where the where the, the genesis of all this was the, the to make to make a longer story a little longer. I, so the, the company that I was working for, they didn’t really get it.

So I was working with Simon part time in the mornings, because yeah, East Coast time was I was on mountain time. So I’d worked with him for a couple hours in the morning, and then I would go in the afternoon, you know, my regular my regular job. Yeah, I was trying to incorporate all this cool stuff that I was learning.

Well, they didn’t really get it. And so a couple years later, they let me go. And so I called Simon and I was like, Hey, I got some spare time you got anything else for me to do. And that’s when I started working with him full time, I started speaking on his behalf, doing, you know, talks and workshops all over the planet on his new books as they came out. And so for 10 years, that’s where I spent my time sharing those ideas with people around the world, which has been, which was awesome.


Damon Pistulka  06:27

And you actually co wrote the book find, finding your why excuse I didn’t write down your


David Mead  06:34

why. Yep. Follow on to his first book. Start with Why Yeah,


Damon Pistulka  06:38

yeah. Yeah. So did I, because I got an A Matt, did you learn a lot being out talking to people? I mean, talking to them hearing their situations? I think, because not so much the message you’re giving, I think, is people that are speakers, they learned so much from the audience, and from the stories and the things that they heard. What do you think some of the things that really resonated with you that you you learned, just by being out and talking to that many people?


David Mead  07:12

That I mean, there were so many. So in that time, I was, you know, I went and spoke or did workshops for about 225. Companies. Yeah. So you know, this specific conversation sort of all, you know, blend, yeah. But there were definitely patterns that I noticed. Right? Yeah, where, and this is, this is, these are patterns that have influenced the work that I’ve done since I left Simon in 2015.

But a huge one was, you know, I mean, you bring an entire company or a team together for an off site, right, which is usually where I would go to speak or give a workshop. So every six months every year, and, and they would always get up, and they would not always, but often they would get up and they would talk about our vision or our purpose, or this is our why, because we have a speaker coming in to talk about the why right.

And usually, the way they talked about it was completely wrong. It was not a purpose, or a Y or a vision at all, it was just like a different way of talking about their metrics that they wanted to hit for the year. But they would, I was just like, you could feel the eye rolls.

Right from the back of the room. Yeah, like, oh, my gosh, okay, here we go. Again, we’re going to talk about this, you know, once every six months or once every year, and then when we go back, we’re never going to hear about it again, until we come back to the next off site. So that was one huge pattern is companies would say all the right things are tried to, you know, instill this purpose, or this idea of, of something bigger some meaning to, to the work they were doing, but they didn’t follow through on it. So that was one huge pattern that I saw.

And that was on a company level. The other thing is, I noticed such a present presence of what I what I call a facade, right? Where you say the right things to the right people, you be careful what you say to certain people in certain positions of authority, you pretend like everything’s okay, you love your job, everything’s great. But when you are in the side conversations with the people that you actually trust, it’s a completely different story.

So the idea of, you know, showing up to work and sort of putting on this, this facade and not really being able to let out what we’re feeling who we are, what we’re concerned about what we care about, because we’re afraid that we’re gonna get in trouble or that we’ll be made fun of or that we’ll be, you know, put on some sort of list of people who are that way or whatever it is, like, we just we kind of pretend that everything’s rosy and fine. Hmm. So those are a couple of the big things that I noticed is patterns across these organizations.


Damon Pistulka  09:55

Yeah. Yeah. So so as you looked at At the companies that said the right things, but didn’t do the right things, what were some of the characteristics that you saw of companies that you went to? And they were saying the right things but weren’t doing. They were saying the right things, but in essence, they weren’t carrying out the right things.

What were some of the characteristics in those companies that actually took to heart what you said, and made the changes compared to the others that just kept saying what they thought? And do it was? Was there more you think that? Was it like a top down buy in on culture, and then really changing the way they operate on a daily basis? What were some of the things that you saw them have to do or characteristics that made you go? These these people might do it?


David Mead  10:50

That I wish I could answer that question. But here’s the thing for most of the time, I mean, I shouldn’t say that, for all of the time that I was with Simon. It was kind of a one shot engagement, right? So I go give a talk, or I go give a workshop. And in rare cases, sometimes a company would have us back because they’d have, you know, like a leadership summit in different country, and we do it, you know, three or four times.

But that was it. And so we didn’t really do any follow up, you know, a lot of follow on, we didn’t follow these organizations or work with them for you know, enough time to be able to see that transition happen. I know it did. Because if you look at I mean, look at me as an example, right? I was just a guy that was sitting in Simon’s audience.

And I thought, oh, my gosh, I want to do something with that. And I’ve completely shaped my career around it. So I know that there are hundreds, if not 1000s of individuals who were sitting in these audiences, whether it was me or Simon or somebody else, yeah. who genuinely took this stuff to heart and either made changes on their own team that they led or in their own personal leadership, or maybe they because they couldn’t do it, where they were they left and did it somewhere else.

But I don’t have any specific example for you, which is one of my focuses now. Yeah. How do we get that stuff implemented? So I can see that it’s the same issue that I had on with the sales training, right. I want to see people go from here to here. Yeah. And if you only work with them once you don’t get to see that. Yeah. But that’s where my focus is more on how do I help people over the long term?


Damon Pistulka  12:19

Awesome, awesome. We’ll talk about that a bit more as we go on. So you’ve mentioned one thing that I really, really would like to dive into just a little bit more. And that’s about people bring in a Mossad to work or putting on a different face when they come to work, and everything’s okay. Why do you think? I mean, why do you think we still are not fostering more of a? I mean, because so many people, I mean, you can’t just do it can’t just bottle that up forever, it just festers and gets ugly?


David Mead  12:55

Oh, there are some people that would argue violently with you about that, that you absolutely can bottle it in there. And for I mean, like work is not a place where you let that stuff out. Come on, man.


Damon Pistulka  13:07

I guess I guess you’re through there for someone. But I mean, there’s there. I mean, there’s life happens. And and, you know, when we when we look at that, when you look at the makeup of the workforce across the across the globe, it’s ever changing. We have different ages, we have different ethnicities and different backgrounds, and even within a given geographic area. And I just don’t understand why where leaders are still thinking that way, because there’s too many variables to be able to live this rigidly and expect that.


David Mead  13:47

Yeah, I think the what and so here’s the thing, and I’m gonna go back just because it ties into what I’m about to say. But going back to your last question of, you know, what are what what is it that caused these people to say, you know, what, I’m gonna make this change, or what, what changes have I seen? So while I, it’s true that with the, you know, most of the companies that I’ve worked with, or at least when I was with Simon, I wasn’t able to see that step change for people. However, I’ve talked to enough people who have made the change already, not necessarily because of me, or because of anything.

I’ve heard so many people out there talking about, you know, culture and leadership and all this stuff that have made that change. But I’ve also gotten a sense of what type of leader it takes to go from here to here. So I know that I’ve experienced that myself. And I’ve seen it. I’ve talked to people who have made that change. So I’ve got some some insights there. And now I forgot the question that you just asked me. Oh, that’s good.


Damon Pistulka  14:49

Go ahead. Sorry. Well, I


David Mead  14:51

was just gonna I thought I remembered and then I didn’t write the last thing that you asked me.


Damon Pistulka  14:58

I didn’t write it down. Oh, no, I just, I just think these these trusted conversations. Or like, if I’m talking to you, and we’re friends that work, and I’m telling you how I really feel, but I can’t go tell my, my supervisor, my, you know, Cola, whatever someone else in the company that I’m really having trouble here. And that to me, it affects the businesses so much.


David Mead  15:28

So I remember what you asked, which is in when you’re in a leadership position, what keeps us what keeps that facade up? Why can Yeah, let who we are out? So there are two interesting factors. One, I think when you’re in that leadership position, and when you are somebody who is being led, maybe you’re an individual contributor, or you’re, you know, you like you just said, you’re talking to somebody and you can, you can share what’s going on with somebody else, but you can’t go to your supervisor with that.

So let’s look at those two sort of I use this just for for visual, right, not that one is better than the other than other. But from a leadership perspective, what keeps that humanity from coming out is so often in a leadership position, we feel like, well, I was promoted to this position, because I know what I’m doing, because I have the experience, I have the education, I should have all the answers.

And so when we don’t, when we’re struggling, when we’re floundering when we don’t know what to do next. We don’t we can’t show that because then people will think, Well, why are they in that position? They have no idea what they’re doing. Right? Yep. And it’s this kind of all or nothing approach where I can’t show any weakness, I can’t show any fallibility. I can’t show any doubt, because these people are looking to me for the answer, and I have to have it.

That mindset, I hope is starting to become more antiquated, but that that has been what drives a lot of that facade. You know, for for leaders, from the other end of the spectrum, somebody who is struggling, who needs help, who made a mistake, whatever it is, that what’s keeping them from going to their boss, is a lack of trust and connection. They don’t know that, that they don’t know whether or not their boss has their back.

They don’t know how they’re going to take it. And if I admit a mistake, or if I say, You know what, you gave me this project, and I have no idea what I’m doing. What are they going to, you know, like, demote me, am I going to just be going to be embarrassed for you know, on the mild end of the spectrum, all these consequences that are either true, or we make up in our heads, but that ends us from doing that, because we don’t have that level of relationship.


Damon Pistulka  17:44

Yeah, I’m thinking I’m thinking about this, because this is you really get into some good here. Both on the leadership, the leadership side, and why the facade is is kept up. Because they’re afraid to show they don’t know it all they don’t have or any weakness. Do you think in your work now, because you’re helping people through this on a more long term basis?

Do you think that and totally antiquated, right? It because it used to be, you know, in the in the 90s, in the early 2000s. And before that it was built, you know, you’re a leader, you don’t show weakness, you don’t bring emotion to work, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And it just, you lived it? Do you think now though, it’s, I shouldn’t say easy, but it’s easier for leaders to really start to understand and embrace a different way of leading, that does really start to build that culture of trust.


David Mead  18:51

To me, there’s a yes and a no there. So I think it’s becoming more accepted to do that, where, you know, there’s everybody’s talking about it, their books being written about it articles on it all the time. I mean, I’m in it a little bit more, because that’s where I put my focus, but there’s a lot of, it’s not like, if you’re showing emotion at work, all of a sudden, you’re this revolutionary, like, yeah, it’s a thing. Like it’s being talked about kind of like, you know, 15 years ago, purpose was not a thing.

And now it’s like everywhere, right? Yeah. So in that sense, yes, it is getting more easy to do it. However, from a very individual personal perspective, it’s not getting any easier to be vulnerable. Right? We still got to take that first step that just kind of like makes your stomach Yeah, yeah. But knowing that we’re in the context of this is what people are looking for. This is what people want from their leaders.

This is acceptable leadership behavior. The context is set for people to more confidently be able to sort of take that baby step and depending on where people are in that, in that in there On an individual journey, yeah, they’ll do it a little different ways. But if you’ve never showed emotion at work, if you’ve never admitted fallibility, any of those kinds of things, it’s gonna take a little baby step to get you going. Or, you know, whereas some other people might be a little more comfortable with it.


Damon Pistulka  20:17

Yeah. It almost seems like what you’re helping people do is helping them reframe. reframe what leadership means, and what it really looks like in business today.


David Mead  20:33

Well, I mean, think about this. Right. And I, there’s the million definitions for leadership out there. Yeah. Yeah. But if you think about the, you know, your favorite teacher, or a great coach, or mentor, or somebody who’s had a positive impact on your life, right? You don’t have to necessarily tell me about it. But there’s somebody pop into your head. Okay. So I have asked this question to literally 1000s of people all over the planet.

And I asked them, I say, think of that person in your mind, the person who made that positive impact on you and write down their traits. What is it about them that makes you think of them in that positive way? The same answers always come up. And you know, what never makes the top of the list. strategic thinker. Yeah. Right. Yeah, it’s not that, you know, strategic thinking and delegation and problem solving and all those other leadership competencies that we that we that we talk about are not important. Of course they are.

But that’s not why we remember these impactful leaders, it’s because they were, they genuinely cared about me. This teacher taught me in a way that only I needed to learn not how they taught everybody else. They connected with me, they saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself, there are all these human characteristics that make these leaders magnetic. Yeah, right. So we know what that looks like. But we’re sometimes even though we know that we’re afraid to kind of put ourselves out there and be that kind of person, because it takes some humanity, which sometimes is tough to put out of work.


Damon Pistulka  22:18

Yeah. Yeah. And I think tudes, you know, if you’re, if you’re the highest level executives in a company, I think, honestly, it’s easier to go one way or the other, because you don’t have other people. But if you’re in the middle of a company somewhere, and you’re trying to live this kind of way, and lead this kind of way. It’s it may be, it may be not accepted, you know, by your supervisors to really to be this way.

And I also see on the other hand, too, that if you are one of the top, you know, few leaders in a company, it’s the buck still does stop with you. And and there are some things that have to happen in the end. But what are some of the things that you’re seeing now, that may have changed a little bit over the last couple of years with culture that really helps to build trust and some of these habits that somebody can look at and go, Listen, if I intentionally tried to build more of this, I’m, it’s going to help us out in this way.


David Mead  23:24

I think the one of the bigger shifts that I’ve seen is, before hybrid and remote work, I wouldn’t say culture was a nice to have, but it was less. I mean, it was easier to talk about not doing anything about it. Because, you know, I mean, the We Still you know, there were certain people at work that we still got along with, you know, we still enjoyed our jobs to a certain extent when we were all together, and we kind of had the banter and whatever.

But as soon as we went remote, and just we were sitting by ourselves in front of our computer, and we lost that sort of human connection, culture really couldn’t take a backseat anymore. And all of those people related issues that we used to kind of just, you know, sweep under the rug, or, you know, like, not really worried too much about because we’re all together and we’re all kind of doing our thing. All of a sudden, they couldn’t be ignored. So that is one thing I’ve seen is is leaders were not prepared. For the most part.

Again, I’m generalizing. Yeah, a lot of leaders were not prepared to, to sort of what’s the best way to say it, just sort of break into or break out of this sort of work environment of the four walls of our of our office. And all of a sudden, I’m staring at you and I’m having a meeting with you and your bedroom, like, yeah, all of a sudden, I’m thrown into your personal life in a way that I’ve never had been before. And a lot of leaders just weren’t ready to process that. And so I think there

are those who are still trying to keep that professional distance of I don’t want to know anything about your personal life, I only care about what you know what you do and who you are and how you show up at work. All of a sudden, that’s not happening anymore, because now you got kids running in and yeah, dogs all over the place. And like, yeah, yes, for the first few months, you know, yeah.


Damon Pistulka  25:16

That is that is gold right there. Because, you know, you’re right, a lot of leaders distance themselves from the personal lives of the people that they’re leading to the point that really don’t know a heck of a lot about him. And I don’t really want to


David Mead  25:33

when, and so there’s a progression here, right? So and so I don’t want to No, no good. Yeah, keep going. Keep on. So there’s a progression, right? So the all of a sudden, there’s this thing of like, okay, there’s this awareness that I, even if I don’t say it out loud, I’m very uncomfortable with, you know, all of a sudden getting into the personal lives of all of the people on my team. That progress too. Okay, so I’ve got to now I know, I got to keep people engaged, because now we’re all remote. And I’m being told that, you know, we got to do things to keep the team, you know, together and all this kind of stuff.

So there were so many ideas, great ideas for how to do that, right? Happy hours once a week on Zoom, or, you know, little games before meeting or like all these things. And so you can do those checklists and say, Okay, I did that I did that I did that I did that. But people were getting so burned out from being on zoom all day, nobody wanted to show up to the happy hours, because it was just like, they just felt like we’re doing this just to do it.

Yeah. So there’s this progression of I have no idea what to do to Okay, here’s some things I’m going to try even though I don’t know what I’m doing, and that’s okay. But where it really gets to the effective part is when it’s not what you’re doing, it’s who you are being. It’s how you show up to those things that you’re doing. So rather than doing it as, okay, if I do these five things, I’m gonna engage my team. It’s okay, how do I, how do I genuinely care about the human experience of the people that I lead?

What do they like to do? What do they respond well, to? What is not landing? And how can I zero in on the activities that they seem to lean into and make those more meaningful and more personal, so they want to show up to them? So all of a sudden, this leader has to put themselves out there and say, What does my team need? And how can I give it to them? Not what am I supposed to do? And magically, this result of team engagement will will happen because I did the things?


Damon Pistulka  27:37

Yeah, yeah, that’s, that’s a heck of a jump, isn’t it? It’s a heck of a jump, because you have to, and you said it, you have to generally care about the human experience.

And maybe I’m paraphrasing too much to really build the right culture, because it because if you show up, and you’re only showing up in body, but you’re not showing up in mind, and you’re not really engaged in what’s going on, and really trying to understand, as you said, what these people need, and help them with that. And it comes back again, caring about the caring about the human experience, you’re not going to be able to build that culture with, we’re just going through the motions.


David Mead  28:22

And Damon, you got to show up with your heart, man, it’s not just about your mind, right mind and heart again, go back to the leader, I just You just thought about the reason that you’re drawn to that person is because they showed up with their heart they cared they genuinely cared about your human experience.

They might not have been nice to you. Maybe it was a coach that pushed the crap out of you, because they believe you had more inside you than you thought you did. Yeah, but it’s not about being nice. Yeah, that people can feel when you care about them, you can still have the hard conversations, you can still hold people accountable.

You can still say, hey, you know what, I get the sense that you’re sitting at home all day, and because nobody’s watching you, you’re not getting a lot of work done. Are you okay? Like, what’s going on? Are you struggling with that? What kind of help can we get you? Right? You can still have those hard conversations, but people know that it’s coming from a place of genuine concern for their experience.

Nobody wants to go to work and be bored or be feel like they’re not contributing anything or feel like, you know, just got to punch this clock. Nobody wants that. And a leader doesn’t want their people to want that. So if they feel like that’s what’s happening, they jump in with empathy and compassion and say, What can I do to help so that you can have a great experience at work? And if it’s not here, how can I help you find a place where you can have that experience?


Damon Pistulka  29:34

Yes, yes. And it’s funny you just said that because we were we were just talking in a meeting and one of our clients earlier today about that very thing. It’s like listen, if you’re if this is not the right environment and culture for somebody, we need to encourage them to find the place that is right for them because that is what’s right to do.

And, and it really, it will help everyone in the long, long run So let’s come back. He said, show up with heart. I really liked that because it is what they have to do, they really have to show up differently, not just to robotically go through the motions, but really to think at this deeper level and help people help the people that they’re leading, be successful in their lives and their professional lives, so that the organization can be successful. Yeah,


David Mead  30:24

I’m not I’m not advocating for a hippie fest where we all you know, hug and sing Kumbaya, like need to grow the business and get results. Yeah. But if you think about what is every organization care about, they care about performance, they care about innovation, transparent communication, retention, well being if you’re a really good one, right? Every single one of those things, is, relies on our ability to trust and connect with each other.

Think about it, if we if we work in an environment, virtual or in person that is devoid of trust and connection, if I show up, and I don’t trust my boss, I don’t connect with the people on my team. I’m not friends with them, like, yeah, on the surface, we can like have a nice conversation about the game last weekend, but like we don’t genuinely know or understand them. We’re gonna go into self preservation mode, right? Which means we don’t ask for help. We don’t give feedback.

We don’t give opposing opinions or ideas when somebody you know, shares a strategy or a direction forward. I’m not gonna say a thing, because I don’t know, the repercussions for that. Am I going to get in trouble? Am I going to get put on some shortlist of getting, you know, to get fired? Am I going to, you know, be ridiculed or whatever. So if I don’t reach out for help, if I don’t work well, with other people, collaboration goes down, because I’m working on my own performance is going to suffer, right?

Innovation goes out the window, because I’m not going to suggest an idea that might not work. And when you pile all those things on top of each other, I’m having more stress, more anxiety and more depressed. I hate my job well being goes out the window. Yeah. So you have somebody showing up to work like that? How sustainable Do you think your growth and progress as an organization is going to be?


Damon Pistulka  32:09

It’s not going to last long? You can get it in


David Mead  32:11

the short term. Absolutely. You can beat people over the head for their numbers. Yeah, but it’s not sustainable. And they’re going to take off as soon as they find something better.


Damon Pistulka  32:21

So what are some of the things that that you’re helping helping people do that do to create the habits, right? How do you help someone create the habits because we’re talking about cultural habits, and habits isn’t a one off seminar, it’s not a, you know, it’s something you have to do overtime and consistently to make sure it’s just something that you do instinctively, over time after a while. So what are some of the things that you’re helping people do to create those habits?


David Mead  32:56

So I’ll take one step back from that, and then get to the actual practical thing. So I help people to identify, or I actually have identified three traits that all of these leaders that are these magnetic leaders that we remember, for all the right reasons, nice that I have found, they all have in common, right? And I’m speaking in general terms, but like, yeah, it’s 99%.

What I’ve seen asking 1000s of people, those three traits are honesty, humility, and humanity. And these are something I believe every single one of us has inside of us already. Very quickly, the definitions honesty is not just about telling the truth. More importantly, it is about living and behaving in alignment with what we profess to stand for. So yeah, you like Yeah, everybody.

That is the biggest killer of trust I have ever seen in an organization is when a leader says one thing and does something else. So honestly means that we are in lockstep with what we what we stand for. And when we veer off course not if but when, because we will, because we’re human, and we’ll screw it up. We’re honest about that, and willing to do the hard work to bring ourselves back into alignment. Humility, as much what you think it is, it’s about admitting our weakness without getting defensive.

And importantly, admitting our strengths and our abilities and the things that we have without letting ego get in the way. But asking ourselves, How can I use these things to lift up the people around me? Right, the humility to give what we have away? Humanity is what I talked about a minute ago is having that genuine concern for the human experience of the people around us doing the little things that just help people feel seen and heard, know that they’re valued and valuable.

Know that we have their backs that they have a place with us, right? So honesty, humility, humanity, are the three traits that are they have to become part of our character if we’re going to become these magnetic leaders, right. So How do you do that the ideas are great that their traits, but how do you actually put them into practice. And so when we get to the habit stuff, this is where I don’t prescribe anything. I’ve, I’ve put into practice some things that work really well for me. And I give those ideas so that people can think, okay, based on my personality, my role, my situation, this is what it might look like for me.

So I’ll give you an example and give you a couple more, but I’ll start with one. So, for honesty, as far as living in alignment with what we profess to stand for, right, I have four core values that I try really hard to live by. And every week, I pick one of them. And it’s an action, it’s a verb, it’s something I can actually put into practice, right? So every time I go through a doorway, at home, at the store, or church, wherever it is, I don’t care. Every time I go through a doorway, I repeat in my head, that value for the week. Wow.

And it reminds me when I live this value, this is what it looks like. It absolutely changes the way I show up to interviews to you know, engagements, client calls, interactions with my kids, my wife, yep, right? Am I perfect at it? No, am I going to screw that value up every once in a while, of course. But 1000s of times in a week, I’m reminding myself what that value looks like. Then the next week, I pick the next one. And I do that. So 10s of 1000s of times a year. I’m pounding my values into my brain, and it absolutely affects the way I show up.

So the whole idea behind these things is how do I make these actions as frictionless as possible? Rather than giving people another To Do List of Oh, geez, now I got to do all this stuff to create this habit on top of what I’ve already got going on. Every time you sit in a chair every time you walk through a doorway every time and you know, I think it’s atomic habits. Yeah. You know, I’m talking about he talks about habit stacking, right, what do ya anyway? And just tack on something else. Right with that same habit. So do the things that you’re already doing all day long anyway, but show up more intentionally? with it.


Damon Pistulka  37:14

Yeah, yeah. That intentional living, I tell you, there’s there’s a lot to be learned about. When you look at what you’re trying to do to help people understand these cultural habits, and when you when you get someone that wants to be and will put the effort into being intentionally different. I think that piece is such a catalyst in the overall because yes, the stack and habit stacking and, and things like learning atomic habits, but but that that desire, and the willingness to live intentionally, I think, because we look at some people say they can’t change, but I think anyone can change if they intentionally are want to do that.

And we’ll we’ll put the effort to do it. And I think you’re saying like your doorway reminders. That was right, I wrote that down, because I think it’s brilliant, is just pick the things that you want to really focus on and remind yourself of, because it will change the way that you operate.


David Mead  38:19

So I don’t believe that people, of course, people can change. When’s the last time you moved? Or, you know, like, got a new job, or I mean, of course, we all will change we want to change when we see a purpose in it. But people don’t like to be changed. We want to make the decision. We want to set that vision for ourselves and say, Okay, I’m going to walk 10,000 steps a day.

For what? Just so I can you know, my watch can complete the circle and I can be like, Oh yeah, I walked in, who cares? But I want to walk 10,000 steps because I want to live to you know, be able to play with my grandchildren. Like set some sort of a reason for these things going back to purpose going back to the why right. It’s habit for habits sake is gonna fall off pretty pretty quickly. Yeah,


Damon Pistulka  39:09

yeah. Well, I think when you look at the cultural habits that build trust, it’s great that habits are great. But what really becomes of leaders that are displaying these habits and practicing habits of doing these things that that really build that trust and that kind of relationships with the not kind of but the relationships with the people are working with and around the leaders themselves the people on those teams experience a much higher and it’s this is not even the right word, but satisfaction in what they’re doing. But because it’s really more life enjoyment, I think.


David Mead  39:54

Yeah, there’s this. I don’t know. One of the other things that people talk a lot about Is work life balance, right want to have work life balance, but the way that I am not the only one that talks about it this way, but I talk about work life integration, yes of it, you are the same person, that goal is to be able to show up and be the same person at work and at home.

And to be able to feel like you can express yourself and live your values in, you know, share who you are, and what you care about what’s meaningful to you in both of those places without feeling like you have to put a filter on or put that facade up and not say those things or, you know, act or, or, or show up in a certain way because of the person that you’re with, or the situation that calls for.

And I’m not saying we don’t adapt our styles. Oh, yeah, that’s fine. But like, letting out who we are and feeling like we’re not able to let that humanity out just because we’re at work, and we have to be professional. Come on, like, we’re still humans.


Damon Pistulka  40:57

Mm hmm. That’s awesome. Well, this these events, some great conversations, I do want to I do want to switch the topic, the conversation a little bit, because now you’re you out. Explain your practice now and what you’re doing and how you’re helping people, because we talked earlier about, you’ve got some cool things coming out. I want to make sure we talk about that. But let’s talk about your practice. Now, how you’re helping people what you’re doing. And and so we so we learned that?


David Mead  41:27

Sure. So I mean, my big focus right now is implementation, how do we take these ideas that I talked about, and put them into daily practice. So whether I’m giving a talk or a workshop, or you know something longer, I will always give you something to do when you leave. And I love it. I was yes, just yesterday, I was talking and I’m looking at a sticky note because I wrote it down. And I was having a conversation with somebody who does instructional design, because I’m putting together this online course, which we’ll talk about in a second.

But she said something that I love, because I mentioned to her, I want people when they’re when they’re done taking this course I want them to be able to do something. And she mentioned something about taking that one level higher and saying what not What do you want them to do when they’re done? What do you want them to keep doing? Wow. Right? And I was like, oh, yeah, it’s like, I don’t want you to be able to do it once. I want to be able to help you keep doing this as long as you as long as you can. So implementation is my big thing now.

So a couple of things I’m working on are I just yesterday launched a one week live cohort based course that covers some of these things where we really dig in, and I’ll teach you, you know, the the framework, obviously, that I have, but the whole intention behind it is great. How do I take that principle or these principles and apply it to my own context, whether I’m a middle manager, a CEO, a stay at home parent, whatever it is, these principles still apply to whatever level of leadership or influence you have. So that’s one of the the exciting things I’m working on that launches.

The first cohort starts on November 28. And then the second thing is, you know, I’ve recently developed a an implementation program that’s about nine months long, that helps organizations start to implement and instill this so that everybody from the newest individual contributor all the way up to the owner of the company takes responsibility for creating this culture of trust and connection.

The other pattern that I’ve seen, maybe I mentioned it before, nope, it was on a prior phone call to this, sorry. But one of the other things I have seen so prevalent in organizations is that people who either are lower on the totem pole or who have no official authority, often will just fold their arms and be like, Wow, it sounds great.

But until my boss does something about it, there’s nothing I can do. Nothing like grinds my gears more than that. You absolutely can do something about it. And we all have the responsibility to we all have influence. I don’t care, the position of leadership or not, you influence the people around you. So how do you show up? How do you be that kind of leader that implements these things with your sphere of influence, as small as it might be?


Damon Pistulka  44:20

Hmm, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. I think the organizational thing would be really interesting. Well, back let’s back up to the first the first part the week long. I mean, I just think something like that. Because if you’re given people the habit, the the tools to start building those habits, whether it is like you said a stay at home dad, a CEO doesn’t matter.

Those kinds of things can be life changing, no matter your sphere of influence, like you said, it’s just it’s great to do and then I think to do The longer term organizational stuff when you’re trying to figure out how this really fits together in what we’re doing the implementation help kit could really keep that organization making those incremental, you know, you’re gonna get some jobs, but it’s just that incremental grinding, grinding of of going, you know, what this is kind of we’re feeling our way through it, we’re continuing on and, and really would be helpful because, as you said, living the way you talk is, is is hard to do.

In organizations, it’s really hard to do, because you’re not doing it just for one person you have, you have many people speaking with, like we talked about earlier, very diverse backgrounds and experiences, and do you know, but yeah, this is exciting stuff. Exciting stuff. So Who who are you typically helping with with life? So like the week long leadership program that’s for for individuals that want to do that, or small teams or what


David Mead  46:06

what do you really I mean, it’s, it’s really targeted for people in a in a leadership position. And it’s certainly, you know, the principles like I say, apply no matter what situation you’re in. But if you look at the landing page, it’s more targeted toward, you know, a leader within an organization. But, you know, that could expand as well. Like I said, I just barely launched it. So I may do different iterations for data applications. But yeah,


Damon Pistulka  46:32

very cool. And then your nine month organizational program? What kind of organizations do you envision? Where do you help? What are they? What are you looking for there? What’s,


David Mead  46:45

so I’m doing primarily small, smaller organizations or teams within larger organizations to start with? So I’d say anywhere from you know, 20 to 100, and 150. People?


Damon Pistulka  46:58

Very good. Good stuff. Because so what are you excited about? What I mean? Yes, you’re launching classes this your launch? They’ve, what are some of the things that you’re excited about to see and hear? And, and just to get to a getting to experience?


David Mead  47:16

I might go a little world PC on you. But I mean, with all of the, I don’t know, you look at the world and knees, it seems like so much is going wrong? Yeah. And there’s so much, you know, just stuff out there that we wish we could change. The thing that I get excited about is there are so many good people out there. Yeah.

So I mean, I get excited about helping people kind of activate what sometimes is what I call their captive goodness. It’s like, it’s all in there. But sometimes, you know, it’s just been buried based on our experience, or what we’re exposed to, or the environments that we’re in. But we all have this stuff in us. And it just, it’s exciting to me when people feel that little spark and they go, ooh, like, I can do that. Yeah, I see it all the time. That’s amazing.


Damon Pistulka  48:07

That’s awesome. Awesome. That was a great, great saying to their activate our cat getting people to activate their captive goodness. Oh, wow. That’s cool. Because you know, if we see people doing that I agree with you’re saying 100%. You can you can watch a lot of things and you think everything’s going the wrong way. But there’s a lot of people doing good every day. And if we can do as you said, activate more people’s captive goodness, will this amplify that effect?


David Mead  48:37

Yep, it’s in there. They don’t have to really learn anything new. They just got to become aware of what they’ve already got.


Damon Pistulka  48:41

Yeah. And let it out. Awesome. Well, so man, they it’s so glad to talk to you today. This has been awesome thinking. Just thank you. Thank you. Welcome.


David Mead  48:52

Thank you. I’ve, I mean, I was able to work through some things in my own head to that was good. It was good conversation. Thanks, Damon.


Damon Pistulka  49:01

Awesome. Awesome. Well, everyone, thanks for being here today. And listen to us on the faces of business. We had David Mead, here talking about cultural habits that build trust, we’ve gotten some really good topics, little subsets of that. Go ahead and check out his website. I’m gonna go ahead and put that in the show notes here when we’re done. And check that out. Go back and listen to some of this. There’s some some great things in there. Thanks, everyone, for being here. Thanks, David. We’ll be back again later.

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