64: How a $100m+ Founder is Revolutionising Tomorrow’s Workplace

The Future of Work and Building Businesses with Michael Girdley

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The Future of Work and Building Businesses with Michael Girdley

In this episode, Al talks to Michael Girdley about the future of work, the importance of integrity and loyalty, and the impact of technology on employment.

They also discuss the role of generational differences in the workplace, the value of learning how to learn, and the potential of large language models.

Michael shares personal stories and insights from his experience as a leader and entrepreneur, providing valuable advice and perspectives on various topics.


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The Transcript

⚠️ NOTE: This is an automated transcript, so it might not always be 100% accurate!

Like this?

Join 20,000 listeners every month who get expert insights on building amazing workplace cultures!


Speaker 1 0:00
Like I just love trying to understand somebody’s motivations trying to understand what they’re trying to do like it’s a puzzle to be figured out for me and people are just fascinating complex puzzles.

Leanne Elliott 0:16
Hello, and welcome to the truth lives of workplace culture podcast brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. My name is Leanne. I’m a Business psychologist.

Al Elliott 0:26
My name is Al I’m a business owner,

Leanne Elliott 0:28
we are here to help you simplify the science people and create amazing workplace cultures.

Al Elliott 0:32
Yeah, 64 times we’ve said that now, isn’t that weird?

Leanne Elliott 0:36
I’m not sure we have actually

Al Elliott 0:38
anyway. So there’s plenty of things going on here at truthy towers, you’re probably going to see lots of projects coming out from us at the moment, we’ve been invited a few more shows, which is very exciting. So if you’re in the UK, then in 2024, you got to just everywhere, you’re going to want us to come and meet us meet and greet all that kind of thing. We only charged 20 pound per photo. We’ve got a keynote potentially coming up, we’ve got lots and lots of content. And of course, the amazing guests, we’ve still got about 20 more guests to bring you. By the end of the year. Really, we’re we’ve got so much stuff to bring you always saying is that you’re probably gonna see us around quite a lot over the next few weeks. Yes,

Leanne Elliott 1:18
you are. And I guess a quick reminder really, for anyone listening who wants to create an amazing workplace culture, which I’d imagine you do. Otherwise, why would you be listening? Or maybe you’re wondering why your workplace culture isn’t amazing. That could be why you’re listening. But if you are one of those people who are listening who wants to create an amazing workplace culture, we have created a simple and very powerful three part process for building a phenomenal workplace culture. It is of course, based on our our x seven model, which regular listeners will have heard of, I’m sure, at the moment, it is invite only, which is why we’re only really talking about on the podcast or to people we know who really care about people and culture. So if you are a business owner looking to grow in 2024, or perhaps a leader looking to build the world’s greatest team, maybe you’re eyeing up in exit, perhaps looking for that money, money, Judge, get your bag, I can touch we’ll send you an application for the RX seven. It will help you create awesome workplace coaches, improve employee well being retained the very best of town ultimately give you the data insights you need to sell your business in 2024. So there you go. That’s Enough said on that I’m joined to my cup of tea. Yeah, well, sadly,

Al Elliott 2:33
you’ll notice it’s not well publicized for a very specific reason, because we are only after a very specific type of person. So yeah, if this sounds like it’s up your street, drop us an email, I’m going to send you a link to the application form. Okay, so the bad news today is you’re not going to hear much of us really, because the good news is that we’ve got Twitter’s number one business advisor on the pod today. If you’ve seen any tweets or exes, there’s just not the same. You can’t collect money. And if you’re listening, if you

Leanne Elliott 3:02
see me girls, and she’s like fetch, stop saying fetch fetch, it’s not going to catch on. It’s not gonna catch on Elon like Twitter. Sorry, Elon says non Twitter users

Al Elliott 3:14
in the room. I only use it to to stalk people. And that’s how I found Michael because basically, if you’ve ever seen any tweets like I have around about business or leadership or anything like that, there’s a very good chance you have seen our guest today because he’s involved in almost every discussion. He’s got nearly 200,000 followers and has 196.7 1000 followers at the moment employs over 1000 people across all of his organization’s he has grown, for example, his family owned firework company, Alamo fireworks, he’s grown it to the largest fireworks company in Texas. He’s also founded Jura software, which is one of San Antonio’s largest companies. He is the genius behind scale path. You’ve probably seen that on Twitter and you’ve seen it online. He’s also been geek of the year he has been Man of the Year. He’s probably likely Twitter are of the year he’s one of my personal heroes. I’m delighted to welcome Michael goodly to the podcast. The first question I to ask him was, why does everyone seem to turn to him on Twitter for advice?

Speaker 1 4:08
I definitely feel like I am turning into kind of the internet’s weird business Uncle, you know, that uncle that you have that your mom can’t really explain what he does all day. But every time there’s like a business question, it’s like, go ask Uncle Michael. Like I think, I think that tends to be my persona. I think also on social media. I’m infamous for being just like overwhelmingly positive, which is a strategy of mine to tie live my life and it’s how I try to do things on social media for and it’s intentional. In terms of what I do every day, I spend the majority of my time creating, owning and supporting businesses. I’m a total business nerd. That’s what I love to do. Ever since I was a kid. That’s It’s the most fun thing I can think about as being entrepreneurial. And so today I have about a dozen companies in varying states of growth everything from right now to people in A slide deck all the way up to companies with a couple 100 people. And, and that’s what I do. I create, incubate and grow companies, regular

Leanne Elliott 5:09
listeners will know that we are fascinated by how the generational differences are playing out in the workplace. Michael is a Gen Xer, his team spends multiple generations, I wanted to find out what he thought separated, Gen X is at work and other generations, there’s a bunch of

Speaker 1 5:26
things, you know, there’s unique things about Gen X, and primarily the the idea of generational theory, and I’m totally dilettante in this, but I’ve read enough to talk about on Twitter. But the idea of generational theory is the way generations and groups of people are shaped is totally dependent upon when technology showed up. And for most of us as Gen X who were born 1965 to 1980, here in the United States, so that makes the youngest of us kind of in the 43 years old, and I’m 48. So I’m like dead center, like case study Gen X right here, that really impacts your lifelong worldview. So for example, you know, most of us grew up with baby boomer parents, either Old Baby Boomers, or Greatest Generation parents who are at work all the time. And we’re also very difficult to connect with, right, not from a just like, in a personal sense, but it’s like four o’clock school has ended, you’re at home, you’re by yourself as a genetics, because your parents are still at work and you’re taking care of yourself, that it’s not easy to find your parents, you you, you get locked out of the house where you’re gonna sit outside of the house until somebody comes home with a key to let you in. And that creates a very different set of approaches to life versus say, somebody who’s born more recently, when cell phones are ubiquitous, right? Like, my kids can instantly reach me anytime of the day, which causes them to have a totally different worldview, for example, than we do as Gen X who grew up when it’s like, well, maybe send your parents a fax, and they’ll get it later. Like that just totally, that totally changes and impacts your worldview. And if you think about all of technology, from television, to YouTube, and all that kind of stuff, it changes the way young people and then afterwards as adults view the world and how prospective so there’s a ton of Gen X things. But that first one you could think about as Gen X have this like, huge perspective of like, I’m on an island by myself, I have to be self reliant, because that’s what they were taught as kids, there wasn’t immediate access to all these different resources like kids have today. So you’ll see us in the workplace do weird stuff like that, we want to be very independent as Gen X, just because of the way technology affected us when we grew up.

Al Elliott 7:29
But the factors that affect the different generations is not just about technology, it’s about integrity. One of the biggest complaints these on these days online about the younger generations is that they’re a little bit flaky. Now again, this is not my words, this is what you’ll see on Reddit, Twitter, anyone who’s tweeting about Gen Zed, that that word often comes up. And whether that’s true or not, it is interesting to understand why older generations think at this about the younger generation, I’m a Gen X or two. So Michael thinks is down to not really having much choice about the matter. You’re

Speaker 1 8:04
going to know who all the people that you can trust are and that you’re going to have relationship to those people in your neighborhood, you’re going to be like, Okay, well, I know it can always go to Aunt Jill or I can go to this old guy, he’s he’s always at home. And I know he’s trustworthy, right? And those relationships, and the trust of those people is going to be very important. And you’re going to want them to trust you. And the way you get them to trust you is to do what you say, have high integrity and place value on consistency around following up and that sort of thing. Right? So So you’re like, Michael, what are these core values? They’re not special. I’ve just yet another Gen X, who thinks the exact same way because of what happened when I was 11. It’s just anyway, is super fun. But yeah, in terms of doing those things, I think I hopefully just answer the question of, well, what does it take, like trust is built up over a lifetime and destroyed in a moment. Like that’s very much exactly true. These sorts of things. And, you know, as I, as I’ve gotten older, I understand that there’s a lot of people in the world. And you know, once you lose that trust, you generally have to go try to rebuild from fresh someplace else, or do the hard work to try to rebuild it, which people that are the closest relationships in my life, I would definitely do that. And one of the ideas of generational theory is like each generation has a pendulum like it swings back and forth, right. And like, say, for example, if you’re part of a generation where your parents were helicoptering, right, which is what a lot of younger millennials experienced through baby boomers and still have baby boomers trying to control their wives. Even as adults, you’re you are going to do exactly the opposite as a parent, right? And like, let’s say, or, for example, let’s say that you had a parent that was very distant, and was very reserved and cold to you. Well, what are you going to do when you’re a parent, the child becomes apparent they’re gonna do the exact opposite. So to some extent, I give like my kids are Gen Z. They’re 14 and 17. So they’re kind of young Gen Z’s at this point. and they’re gonna, you know, they’re gonna act in a certain way based not only on technology and how that’s affecting their day to day life, but then also like, the weird things that my wife and I are doing, because we’re very hardcore Gen X, right? So they’re gonna respond in a way where we’re like, okay, like, this is your life, you get to decide what you want, like, we’re, you know, my wife and I, for example, treat our kids almost as peers, right? Where it’s like, well, no, you like, you’re gonna get to decide what you want to do. We don’t, we’re not going to control you at all, because we’re swinging the pendulum back and forth. And so what did my kids do my kids that turned around, and they treat us as friends. Right, as opposed to like, the way like, my relationship was with my parents, or my grandparents who were just like, much more like, parental. And so there’s interesting, weird, like byproducts of this, like, you’ll see things where Gen Z, for example, like they, they’ll do this thing where like, they just walk into my closet and just like, take my clothes, like, they just wear my clothes all the time, whatever they feel like it shoes stuff, like because we’re friends, right? Like, because that’s the way we’ve always treated them. And they’re kind of the first generation to see their parents as friends, which is very different than all the previous generations.

Leanne Elliott 11:09
What’s interesting about generations is that, and the reason we talk about generations, and the reason we consider them in, in psychological research is well, it’s not just a pop culture thing that we’re bitch about generations and defining them has a purpose in social science. And what’s interesting, particularly about the generations that we have floating around at the minute is we have all had such different experiences. If you think about, you know, I’m what they call a geriatric millennial, which I don’t really appreciate, but I understand it means I’m an old millennial. I was born between 1980 and 1985. So in terms of growing up with technology, I was a lot less exposed and somebody who grew up a little who was born in 1993, for example, it would also be classed as a millennial. But I think what’s interesting is that when you are a millennial, you kind of do see it from both sides, because I get the Gen X thing I was a latchkey kid, I let myself in after work after after work went down the mind. It is, but no, I let myself in rough day after school and stuff. And I can totally understand the you know, the the sense of this is the world is you got to toughen up, you got to get on with it if you want to get anywhere. But I also really hated that as a millennial entering the workplace. So I really like about Gen. Zed is that they are starting to change that conversation, changing the narrative about it. And I guess, you know, building on the changes that we’ve seen socially anyway, in the last 50 years. Of course, one of the things that has really shaped Gen Zed is their ability to carry around an insanely powerful computer in their pocket that’s connected to the world logic database, and can give you an answer to any question at any time. So of course, this shapes the way that they look at knowledge. And remember, this is all as well before pre chat, GPT or chat, Jupiter, Gen Alpha won’t just have the world’s knowledge at their fingertips. They’ll also have this advanced reasoning machine that can explain anything in any way that they like. So I’ll ask Michael, how he sees this changing the way the future generations approach work.

Speaker 1 13:16
So then the second part about Gen Z, that super interesting is because they have grown up in a time where everything all knowledge, everything they want is instantly accessible, right? Like so there’s not only the technology of YouTube, right, which is they’ve YouTube defied how they think about knowledge. They’ve also been in a situation where like, items like Amazon, like Amazon of just like here in the US, like you press a button, and it shows up the next day. Like it’s just a freaking miracle, like compared to the way things were back in the 80s, when you had to get off the Sears catalog and hope it showed up, you know, someday. And so because of that, like Gen Z, and my kids, especially, they have no time for anything that isn’t practical. Like it’s either immediately useful, and they understand why it’s going to be useful to them, or they have no time for it whatsoever. So like we struggle, in the case of my kids, for example, to get to understand why algebra matters. Like we have lots of talks about okay, like you got to learn algebra. What Why do I need to learn algebra? Well, you want to do these other things five to 10 years from now, like you need to know algebra right now in order to be on a path to do that. And like that, like mind shift for them is like incredibly difficult because of the impact of not only the way we’re acting as parents, but secondarily, the way technology has affected their generation. so deeply.

Leanne Elliott 14:31
generational differences are often deniable, but we should try to understand generational differences. We definitely should not stereotype our teams based on their age alone.

Speaker 1 14:43
I think the great leaders need to understand that people are not widgets, Ray, they’re not uniform, and not everybody wants to be treated the same way. So generational theory, and individual intelligence, what’s going on in people’s lives where they are in their life? What’s up happening with their family, what their dreams and hopes are. I think those are all part of it. For sure I encourage people to consider generational theory as a way to try to meet their employees where they are. You know, Gen X, for example, wants to be treated very differently than say you’re a prototypical millennial, right? Millennials, classically, and stereotypically they bring their whole selves to work. They’re part of a tribe, they care about that kind of stuff much more than Gen X does. Because like, you speak to me about a tribe, I’m gonna be like, whatever, like, I don’t care, like, just show me. It’s all about the results to me. And that’s very prototypical Gen X. And so, yeah, I think that’s a factor. But I just want to be clear, like, I don’t think you should stereotype people, I think you should just consider their generational aspects of them, in terms of seeing them as an entire person as a leader. And that’s, that’s what great leaders do, in my opinion.

Al Elliott 15:50
I think as a business owner, this is quite refreshing to hear, because the temptation is to want to simplify everything down into like basic terms. So you were saying, Oh, she’s a millennial, and therefore she wants this. He’s a Gen Zed. So therefore he wants that. People are people, they’re not odometers. They, they’re not just there to register the passage of time. One of the things that makes Michael such a respected leader, and dealmaker is that he understands people. And he remembers the exact moment when he dawned on him that not everybody wanted the same thing.

Speaker 1 16:24
Yeah, so this individual was a frontline warehouse worker for us. And we go to him and we say, Hey, would you like this opportunity, we’ll train you, we’ll do all these things for you. You can double your salary. It’s an amazing opportunity, we’ll pay you to learn. And so we go to him, and we pitch him on this. And I’m like, Well, this is against it. Yes. And this person said, No. And I was like, what, like, you don’t want to do this? And, and it was at that moment, like I visited with him. And he’s like, no, no, I’m just happy just doing what I’m doing. Like, and, and to me, it was like, so confusing. I was like, Well, why not? Like, well, you know, like, this is, you know, my father worked in a warehouse, I’m going to work in a warehouse. I’m happy working in a warehouse, you know, I don’t really want to take on the additional challenge. And that was just an opportunity for me to learn as a CEO. And as I started to get this idea around leadership that everybody that you work with is different with different perspectives. And just because I felt immediately ambitious, like, oh, yeah, I should totally go do that. And I would have taken that, that decision in a heartbeat. His psychology was one where he just had different set values. He was happy just with the status quo. And ultimately, like, he was so sure, but like, I couldn’t really argue with it. I was really just like, Okay, well, sounds good. Well, we’ll find somebody else. And and ultimately, we did,

Leanne Elliott 17:41
hey, I understanding people is one of the most difficult but most rewarding skills and minds you can learn. I think, you know, if you really want to get into the psychology people, it takes continual learning, you’ve got experts like Professor sicheren, Cooper and Dr. Warren Sherman, who have been on the podcast that have dedicated their entire working lives to understanding what makes people want to work, and they likely still don’t know all all the answers. And that’s because times change values change, generational perspective change. There is however, one hack, and I’ll be honest out only the best of the best leaders nervous and I probably shouldn’t tell you, I might get in trouble with the elders. But I’m willing to take the risk in the name of developing great managers. Are you ready for owl? Yes, if you want to understand what people want, what motivates them, what makes them tick at the deepest of psychological levels? Ask them

Al Elliott 18:38
that’s been kind of a recurring theme. I think over the last few episodes, particularly talked about employee resource groups, you don’t have to know everything about sort of different the way that someone lives, their life, their lifestyle choices, and in fact, you probably won’t know everything. So like you said, ask them and you’re gonna get some amazing results.

Leanne Elliott 18:53
Talking of managers and leaders. A lot of people think that a great manager is great at the technical work and doing the work. Michael trained as a software engineer. So I’ll ask him if he misses building software? No,

Speaker 1 19:07
I mean, for two reasons. I like to play games where I feel like I have an unfair advantage. And like I know enough about coding to realize, you know, I don’t have a strong enough memory for details, I don’t have the pleasure of digging into details that like other people who are really good at programming, they have that kind of wiring that I just don’t have. And to me, it’s it’s not inspiring, and it’s not fun. I am much more inspired by working on bigger ideas, working on the psychology of people helping other people be themselves and developing connections with them, that I’m interested in developing and solving a puzzle on a computer screen.

Al Elliott 19:44
And I think what’s so refreshing about this and this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this is that most high achievers particularly like an entrepreneurial setting, they don’t end up doing what they studied at university if they went to university at all. There was an old thing that saying that if you can spell the word onto But you’re not one, people who do well understand the psychology of people, there’s not that they are the world’s best coder. In fact, if you are the world’s best coder, there’s a chance you’re not going to be a great manager. What’s cool is that most successful people have learned on the job most successful leaders have learned on the job, which is great news for kids who don’t like school. Look,

Speaker 1 20:22
here’s what I told my children. There are things that you don’t need to know in this planet, I remember growing up and they would, when calculators first came out, and like handwritten arithmetic wasn’t important anymore. Or as important as it used to be, and that sort of thing, or spreadsheets came around, or our algebra and all that kind of stuff, like it started to where computers can do more and more stuff for you. But what I’ve told them, and I think this is this is becoming more and more important, even as technology grows, is that you’re at school are not learning algebra, you’re not learning biology, you’re not learning chemistry, like you’re learning how to do two things. One is you’re learning how to learn. And two, you’re learning how to think critically. And that process of learning how to learn, in my opinion, like is getting even more important year after year, because technology keeps pushing forward. All these things that we’re learning and using today, YouTube, Twitter, AI chat GPT electric vehicles, like crypto cryptocurrency, like none of that stuff even existed or was even a theory, when I was growing up and going into college, like the computer programming language they’re using now are totally different, they didn’t even exist, that even thought of back then mobile phones, all that stuff is brand new. So all that stuff is accelerating, the process of technology evolving, is accelerating. And to me, learning how to learn is even more important, because you have to be able to get good at things very quickly these days. And so that’s what I tell my kids so far, they seem to be believing it either that or it’s us punishing them when they don’t get good grades, but like, that’s not Yeah, that’s what’s happening here, you’re learning how to learn, you’re not learning how to memorize a particular thing, which I think is a good thing. Like we don’t need the Chinese educational system where you’re memorizing a bunch of stuff, ideally, the educational system, and people’s parents would do their job. You know, I think if they don’t do that, I think you have a situation where the ceiling for somebody in their future careers is very limited. You know, I think your job as a leader and an employer, at least in the US, is to help people become the best versions of themselves, but your job is not to create them, right, we didn’t use an employer not adopting them, you’re not their parent. So hopefully they’ve come in with those things, you know, being already prepared, because that’s, in my my opinion, a parent in the school systems job. But I think as a leader, your job is to help them grow those things as best you can. But you can’t, it’s just too much to ask a leader to try to create those things, you know, in a job situation, in my opinion, we need people who can think critically, we need people who could learn quickly, cuz that’s what the world is demanding. And it’s it’s gonna continue going that way.

Leanne Elliott 22:52
If Michael currently employs over 1000 people, then I suspect he’s recruited at least five times that over the years, we want to know if he had any tips for finding and retaining great people, so

Speaker 1 23:03
much good stuff out there, you know, I think I’ll give you something very specific. And it was just this idea that when you want to build anything great, you know, the key to that is to go and recruit people who are better than you. I think it’s a real danger for a lot of people, that you try to find somebody that’s not going to be a threat to you as a manager. And I think that’s a very poor thing to do. As a leader, you know, an old mentor of mine told me, he’s like, Look, you should go hire people better than you for a number of reasons, one of which, like they’re more fun to work with. But number two, someday you’re going to want to be promoted out of this job. And it’s much easier for your bosses to promote you if they know there’s somebody willing to step in and do the your job at some point. So yeah, I would say, specifically, as I think back on to younger me and my 20s, I had a mentor told me that hire people better than me. And it’s proven to pay off throughout the rest of my life, sometimes

Al Elliott 23:55
the raise of resistance to employing great people, which sounds counterintuitive, but a manager might worry that they’re going to be better than they are. Well, ideally, they

Leanne Elliott 24:06
should be. That’s a

Al Elliott 24:07
really good point. Because I remember back to when I had my web agency and a guy came to me for as an intern job. And I looked at the CV and I was like, Oh my God, this guy is a genius. We used to do Google ads so pay per click, please do that. I’d love to and I was looking. He’s not on paper at pay per click is not done in Google ads, but I reckon he’ll be much better than me. And I honestly because I was a bit younger than maybe my like, sort of mid to late 20s. I was a bit like, oh, do I really want to employ Richard, do I because he’s gonna make me look stupid. I know, he is. Turned out he did make me look stupid, because he was an absolute natural at it, and then went and now I think he’s running one of the largest paperclip companies, organizations in the UK, quite rightly so because he was brilliant. And I learned that day that I shouldn’t be using my ego as part of the recruitment process. Michael totally agrees and he says that you should definitely recruit the best you can. However, It’s not plain sailing, you’re gonna have to be prepared to put the hours in. Yeah,

Speaker 1 25:03
I think people get confused with hiring somebody that is, you know, going to be difficult, right, which is one of the things that happens when you hire high performing people is they need sometimes different and more care and feeding. Not to say that I was like a high performing young person. But that’s what my like review said, when I had a job. And like, look, I was kind of needy in terms of stuff, I was producing a lot of things. And that created more work for my manager. Unfortunately, I had a situation where that gentleman like, he was just terrific to me, because he was like grandfathered age, so nothing was gonna threaten him in terms of his career because he was ready to retire the next five years or so anyway. But I think a lot of people look at these high performing people, and they think, Oh, they’re going to show up and they’re going to be demanding of me, they’re going to create a lot of work for me, they’re going to be dramatic, they’re going to make my job harder, I’m going to have to replace them because they’re gonna want to move on to something better. And if you’re a lazy manager, sometimes it’s just easier to take the easy path out. And that’s kind of like life that way, like a lot of people just like, take the easy path out, I tried not to,

Leanne Elliott 26:05
let’s not sugarcoat this, being a great manager is really, really hard. Being a lazy manager is pretty easy. And you can probably tell being honest which one you are by just reflecting on that. How hard is your job right now as a manager. But you know, as employees, we guess the thing is, we do learn a lot from both we learn as much from the bad managers as we do from the good. And the other interesting thing about high performers is, you know, if you are wanting to recruit a high performer superstar into your organization, during that recruitment process, try to identify one thing, try and identify if they are coachable. If a superstar is coachable, they won’t make your job harder. If they’re not then progress with extreme, extreme caution. As a psychologist, I wanted out to dig deeper into why Michael thought he’s made the choices in life that he has, there

Speaker 1 26:58
is some stuff that happened in my childhood that explained why I’m super, super in touch with all the little nuances and all the psychology of people. So I mean, it’s not really a secret, like I had a pretty crappy high school experience. Here, we moved when I was 12. And I moved from, I think, a pretty, you know, standard American setup in terms of schooling and social environment to one that was at the time. And I think still, to some extent is, you know, a very high pressure, you know, schooling area, and I didn’t fit in super well. And to eventually get to a point where I figured out how to navigate that being a bit of an odd person. I mean, that’s just the other thing I’ve gotten totally comfortable with, like, I’m an odd person, I’m comfortable in my skin now. But back then I had to start to learn how to read the tea leaves to start to get psycho psychological about understanding what people’s motivations were. And growing up here in Texas also is a place where people are the opposite of being very direct. Not as much as the Brits like to now be direct, but like, we’re kind of in the same vein. And, you know, it took a lot of me developing those skills over time. And then I think I just like they were survival skills at the beginning. And today, I just find it fascinating. Like, I just love trying to understand somebody’s motivations, trying to understand what they’re trying to do. Like it’s a puzzle to be figured out for me and people are just fascinating, complex puzzles to go around. So yeah, that’s my answer for it. Like, yeah, it all ties back to childhood. Which is true. But today, like Yeah, I just it’s so fascinating to me. I love trying to figure out what people are thinking and why they’re thinking it

Al Elliott 28:31
because isn’t the full interview, you’ll hear me actually totally empathizing this because I was looking really weird kid. Well, I regret going to grammar school for my sixth form, which is from the US those words might just totally confuse you. I don’t know what the equivalent in the US is basically, at 16 I went to a normal school and then at 16 I went to my last two years study before University at a what’s called a grammar school. I went probably three or four days sometimes without talking to any single person from the moment I left the house. The moment I got back to the house. I was like Michael, I did not fit in. But this made me a better adult, I think because I was I had something to prove. I remember when I was a manager and I used to sit back and go right okay, we’re gonna do 80,000 pounds this week. This is like 2820 30 years ago, lady 1000 pounds this week, and I have been the one who’s put this together. Look at all these people had a great time. I put it together, that kind of like that. Ego wouldn’t have been there if I’d had an ego as a child. So I want to know, should we allow our children to face adversity? Well, adversity actually made them a better adult. I think my

Speaker 1 29:35
wife and I strongly believe that if you live a childhood, a child, a childhood without struggle without setbacks without conflict, you’re not you’re you’re just delaying going through and dealing with those things until you’re an adult and you see these people that I you know, unfortunately, like they grew up without constraints. They grew up without any setbacks their parents protected them and And to me like they turned out to be not very fulfilled adults, like they don’t have direction and mom and dad are still in there. helicoptering on them. So, you know, my wife and I very much agree that our objective as parents is to create amazing, well adjusted adults ready to go out and do whatever they want in the world, and not to create the absolute best childhood for a child. I think that’s a huge mistake. I see it on Twitter all time, people are like, my child is going to have the best childhood ever. And I’m like, no, no, no, no. Like, your job is to create an amazing adult, as a parent, as a parent, not to provide the most like, Glamour is beautiful, pain free childhood possible. So whenever I see now, like my child, going through struggles, like my job is to coach them and help them and then figure out how to deal with these things now, rather than trying to do that when they’re 25, because now is the time when they can go through those struggles. And it’s, if it was like me, being in a position where I didn’t get along well with people in high school, and I still am kind of motivated by that, you know, like full transparency or if it’s other things going on failing a classroom, that kind of stuff. Do I feel empathy for my kid? Absolutely. Do I know it’s necessary for them to go through that to be amazing? well adjusted successful adults. Absolutely. So it’s both to answer your question. Specifically,

Leanne Elliott 31:19
we couldn’t have someone like Michael on the podcast without asking him about the future of work. He’s an experienced leader, and business owner, he’s bought companies sold companies, built companies, and now is an investor in companies. He’s seen a huge shift from the workplace banter in the 90s, to now people being afraid, perhaps to say anything for fear of upsetting someone. I’ll ask him where he thought the balance was?

Speaker 1 31:45
Well, I think I think America is, is fundamentally a place that I kind of think about it as a feedback desert. That’s a phrase I’ve tried to use. But it’s just this idea that like, if you go to a real if you go to a party, or you go to a workplace here in the US, like everybody is so terrified of insulting the other person that they never really talked about anything that’s real. And this was something that really only, you know, my eyes opened up to it, visiting other countries going to France, or Spain or Mexico, and seeing the way people talk there and being much less worried about offending the other person, you know, that opened my eyes to it here in the US. And I think, look, I think there’s an upside to us trying to be kind all the time. Like, that’s one of the things I love about certain countries, like I love kindness and visible kindness to other people. So I love that aspect of America. But the downside of it is like we’ve become so intentionally kind and so worried about being unkind, that we never take the next step to often tell people what we truly think or what the true situation is. And I have, for example, like one of my friends who is a CEO of a company, right now, she has a leadership challenge, because her people are all terrified to tell her the truth about stuff. And they only gather their courage and tell her later, you know, after they can’t clean up a mess, and they have to absolutely tell her. And I think all of that ends up costing us, you know, I think I think we would do better, to try to stay kind but like, if you’re, we’re at this end of the spectrum, right now, we’re just like so kind, that you can’t really say anything without fear of like pissing somebody off or offending even somebody for the slightest thing. And I think everybody would be a ton more happier if we just brought it down a couple notches in the United States, like just stop being so thick or thin skinned all the time, I think it would be huge for most people’s happiness and workplace efficiency, too.

Al Elliott 33:42
And Michael was really balanced about the idea and his kind of tone, because we did, we did back and forth a little bit on that. And he was, he was explaining that we can’t go back to how we were where there was essentially bullying, but at the same time, we’ve got to be careful, we don’t get to the very other end of the spectrum. So quite a balanced answer. I think that yeah. And

Leanne Elliott 34:03
I think as well, it’s, you know, it’s if you’re if you’re having a conversation with someone related to performance, then maybe some more direct conversation is needed. If you’re chatting about what somebody did over the weekend, and you bantering about the fact they did something that you find amusing, then I don’t I don’t see the place for context is everything because I think absolutely,

Al Elliott 34:21
absolutely, you know, and over 30 years of investing in companies, building companies buying companies as Leon said, I had to ask him, Where does he see the future of this? I mean, you know, regular listeners know that. We are both very bullish on AI. We use chat GBT extensively. It’s just recently looks like an app store for chat. GBT been released yesterday. That’s going to be really interesting. So I think the future is rosy, but I wanted to see if Michael agreed. Yeah.

Speaker 1 34:49
So I think large language models are really interesting because they’re going to do the same parallel as what the spreadsheet did in terms of like work right. It creates a situation where we’re going to take existing employees are going to make them a lot more effective. It’s also turning into like its own new programming language akin to what people are doing in Microsoft Excel, there’s people who are becoming incredibly good at writing these prompts and you’re seeing them their pages long, and then the LLM produces stuff on the other end. So there’s lots of talk about it killing jobs, I think it’s not killing existing people’s work, it’s just making the people that are here much more effective. Now, does that mean that because they’re more effective, a companies won’t need to hire more people in the future? Absolutely. But it’s also a situation where I don’t think people should be scared that some large language model is going to come in and take their job tomorrow, because frankly, it’s not going to do it any more than the calculator did, or the computer did, or the spreadsheet did, or the mobile phone did, like these are just going to make the existing humans that we have much more efficient, the company’s more efficient. And when all that happens, actually, the employees get paid more, and they’re happier. And so I think it’s a net good thing, you know, just like almost every single other technological advances we’ve done, it makes people’s lives better. And so I’m very optimistic about him. And I think all the scare tactics are really kind of overblown. And

Leanne Elliott 36:06
of course, we had to ask Michael about the argument, the debate of 2023, where does my uncle stand on remote versus hybrid versus in office working?

Speaker 1 36:17
I totally depends upon the company’s situation and the company you want to build. I think all these people that are telling you that remote work is the only way to go or hybrids the only way to go or in offices, the only way to go. I think number one, it’s somewhat a stylistic choice. But then it’s also one, where it depends upon what the situation is, if you’re doing a small startup, and it’s a lot of connectivity amongst the people is really important. You need to be in the office together. But it’s not the only way. And so I think, you know, every time I see the argument, I’m like, yeah, they all have their place. And I think just the best thing about remote work is it has the potential to, you know, to raise the tide for all boats, right, these opportunities that potentially weren’t possible before remote work just makes it possible. And so I’m very bullish on it. I love remote work. But I also love hybrid work, and I love it in office work, and I do them all, and my companies do them all just depending upon what’s best for the company. So

Leanne Elliott 37:08
I think what Michael is saying there is It depends, which is an answer I’m very much appreciate. You know, it’s also what every pretty much every single one of our experts has said when they’ve been asked about remote versus hybrid versus in office, it really does depend. You know, if we think back to our four day workweek episodes, even we have the word expert on the four day week work who ran the global pilot Americana. And he was the first to say that, you know, these kinds of things like the four day workweek will work for some organizations and not for others. And I think that’s true of remote versus hybrid versus in office work. It depends on the kind of work you do. It depends on the amount of collaboration or deep thinking that your work requires. What is for sure is that having your team work from the office won’t make you a better manager. So leaders, if you are feeling like you are losing control, losing influence, perhaps losing some sense of camaraderie in your culture, maybe focus on improving your competence rather than changing your context. The key thing is to listen and make it easy for your team to communicate their thoughts and choices to you. It really isn’t rocket science, when we boil it down. Ask people what they want, within the constraints you have, try and give it to them. Kimberly also mentioned this from first direct a few weeks ago, that one of the greatest strengths of the bank was to be able to go direct to the CEO with any concerns and any feedback and the CEO would listen. And that perhaps out is a rule to have great magic club. Be approachable.

Al Elliott 38:38
I love it. Great manager club.

Leanne Elliott 38:41
I like that. Oh, now this problem when you’re married to an entrepreneur, you can’t just say shit like that because next week there’s gonna be a frickin PowerPoint and probably website up.

Al Elliott 38:50
I’m just thinking there must be a play on words with a Fight Club Fight Club. So I’m going to be me and charged up to chat about that later on over a small gin and tonic. If you’re not following Michael on Twitter, just search for accurately you can see how long he’s been on Twitter because of his handle. He’s he’s got like a six letter handle. You can go and find him there at goodly you can go to you can go to Also, I believe he’s got a new YouTube channel called goodly world. I’ll put a link in the show notes to that. He also has a newsletter, which you definitely subscribe to. And if you’re interested in joining a group of like minded peers who are turning over somewhere between half a million and $5 million. Michael’s created something that might just tickle your pickle scale

Speaker 1 39:31
path is a business that we incubated this year. It’s a CEO peer group that we’re super proud of for companies, anywhere in the US or beyond that want to scale past 5 million in revenue. It’s for folks that aren’t ready for Vistage and YPO or EO or any of the in person networks. It’s a great virtual opportunity for them. So we’re building out a really special thing are over 100 members and would love for anybody that’s a small business person that wants to scale to give it a shot.

Leanne Elliott 39:57
So that is it for this week on podcasts a huge thank you to Michael goodly for sharing his insights, experiences and phenomenal work. A pretty nice addition to other founders series. I think there are. Yeah, definitely

Al Elliott 40:11
I’ll be contacting other people on Twitter to ask them if they’ll be on the show. So, if you’re kind of a big cheese on Twitter, look out I’m gonna be sliding into your DMS as to Gen Zed say,

Leanne Elliott 40:20
if you are a Brie or Camembert expect out to get in touch very very soon. Next week next week’s exciting actually I’m excited about next week owl who will be gone

Al Elliott 40:30
Yes, next week is a sport special sports and leadership edition.

Leanne Elliott 40:33
We have some very cool people on next week. I’m not gonna sound good do a little teaser here. So we have a former Premier League football. I get an overall please. We have a current England rook player oh and we also have a world record breaking yacht sailor from the UK it’s it’s quite a lineup.

Al Elliott 40:57
It really is. So if you’re not subscribed without your phone now like subscribe, and also just let us know give us some feedback we’re on we’re you know you know by now we’re on LinkedIn search for truth lies and work. You’ll see one of us popping up and talking just tell us what you think about the by the episode not enough to review do it don’t give us five stars and tell us how amazing we are please because we’re that needy we really are you bye for now

Leanne Elliott 41:30
I like my pickle tickled

Al Elliott 41:33
that’s going in the outtakes quite good with the left hand trackpad.

Leanne Elliott 41:37
I have a hand and I can use it to check to me a couple of weeks to train

Al Elliott 41:41
myself to use the left hand oh, this is all work rubbish. But at the same time, he wasn’t saying let’s go back to how we were in the 90s where you could just take the mickey out of someone who’s only got one leg, you know is that I’m gonna do that again. That gave Rob

Leanne Elliott 42:01
going in to do

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