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Ep48: From Champion to Entrepreneur with Bernard Brogan

We are very excited to feature Bernard Brogan, Co-Founder and COO of PepTalk, as this month’s Founder Story.

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We are very excited to feature Bernard Brogan, Co-Founder and COO of PepTalk, as this month’s Founder Story.

Chartered accountant turned entrepreneur, Bernard founded PepTalk after a long career as part of a high performing culture with Dublin GAA winning 7 all-Irelands.

Co-founded with his cousin, James Brogan, in 2017 in Ireland, PepTalk exists to make work infinitely better by creating an environment for teams to thrive through shared experiences, understanding and trust.

By 2019, PepTalk surpassed 15,000 platform users spanning 19 countries. By 2021, PepTalk raised €1.2 million in seed funding to support global growth ambitions, followed by a further €3.6 million in 2022. They were ranked 19th in The Deloitte 2022 Technology Fast 50 Awards later that year.

Today, their global customers include Northern Trust, Paypal and Global Payments and the business employs a dedicated team of 25.

Prior to this incredible success, Bernard founded Legacy Communications, one of Ireland’s fastest growing digital marketing agencies and well as owning a number of Pubs and other business interests.

Today, we’re talking to Bernard about his journey to success, his greatest learnings along the way, and his obsession with creating leaders and workplace cultures that enable people to thrive.

Add in the dulcet Dublin tones, this is a conversation you do not want to miss!

NEW! Video Podcast

Watch the full video of this episode, featuring Bernard Brogan!



All the links mentioned in the show.

Connect with Bernard:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bernardbrogan/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bernardbrogan/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bernardbrogan

Website: https://www.peptalk.com/

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The Transcript

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

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Bernard Brogan 0:00
So you need to be a lot more intentional about how you create a culture and there needs to be actions actual physical things need to things need to happen rather than kind of saying, Oh, this is what we need to do.

Leanne Elliott 0:15
Hello, and welcome to the truth lies and 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 0:25
My name is Al and I am a business owner and we are here to

Leanne Elliott 0:29
help you simplify the science of people and create amazing workplace cultures.

Al Elliott 0:32
Welcome back. Welcome back. If you’re on YouTube, and you’re watching on YouTube, this Hello. This is our third video we’re doing on YouTube. We’re still learning loads. So we’re not quite we’ve not quite got all the color grading and all the fancy stuff that we watch the YouTube videos on and don’t really understand. Not got that quite right, but we’ve given it a go on when

Leanne Elliott 0:53
we are giving a go and actually we need to tap into our HubSpot network buddies. If you didn’t know hotspot I’ve recently just taken on their first cohort of YouTube creators for that YouTube Network, which is quite exciting. So we probably need to point it. Yeah, get in touch with some of our new YouTube firemen and get some tips. All right,

Al Elliott 1:13
good thinking good thinking. Talking of tips. I’m so bad at segues, talking to tips we were talking to an amazing guy today. Bernard Brogan Bernard Brogan not only is possibly the most auditory and visually attractive man in the world, because he’s from Dublin got an amazing accent, amazing voice. But also he is just an incredible all round guy. Now the background to Bernard is he’s an ex GA football player, which as far as I can work out that seems to be like the Premier League, but for Gaelic football,

Leanne Elliott 1:46
I think Does that sound about right? Yeah, yep. Sounds right.

Al Elliott 1:49
Yeah. One thing I didn’t understand, though, was that even though they’re kind of professional and putting that professional because they’re not get they don’t get paid. He was still on the counter at the time.

Leanne Elliott 1:57
I mean, I’m I’m, I’m not surprised that Bernie was the kind of guy that could spend more than one play at once and be incredibly successful at both aspects. So yeah, I’m surprised that it isn’t paid. I’m not surprised that Berlin made it work.

Al Elliott 2:09
Fair enough. Fair enough. No burn has got pep talk, which is a company which is growing, and we’ll go into that in a second. But the focus of this episode is going to be around sort of mainly psychological safety, how to build teams, and the crossover between sports teams and teams at work layer we last spoke, I think was episode 15 to Stephen Wheaton. And that was the first time I’d heard the term psychological safety I honestly had never heard it before. Now, obviously, I think I hear every single week because it’s something which most guests bring up. For those people who have not heard of it. Can you just give us like a 15/22 Intro to what it is, and maybe an example of why is important?

Leanne Elliott 2:43
Yeah, psychological safety is a shared belief amongst people in the workforce, that they can express their ideas, their opinions, their views, their feedback, without fear of any negative consequences, such as being embarrassed or threatened or harassed, even mocked. So psychological safety is the term that describes the environment and the climate within that environment. It’s been created to help people feel safe and expressing themselves. psychological safety is really really important organizations, it leads to typically high levels of creativity, innovation, ideation, which is kind of intuitive, I guess. But commercially, all of those things linked to higher employee engagement. They linked to higher productivity, faster speed to market. Typically organizations that enjoy high levels of psychological safety will generate more revenue, there’ll be more profitable they’ll have happy customers. It’s a pretty is as things go as stuffs go in the culture world, it’s a fairly fundamental thing to get right.

Al Elliott 3:49
Fabulous. So if you’re interested in that, then go back to Episode 15, which is Stefan weed, and I will link to it in well, I won’t because the end of the show notes, but it’ll be in the show notes. But it is definitely a good episode to learn more about psychological safety before we go and meet the man with the smoothest voice in corporate wellbeing is our favorite. Django so what have you got today?

Leanne Elliott 4:13
I have a word

Al Elliott 4:14
of the week, Word of the Week alert.

Leanne Elliott 4:17
I just want to say at this point as well if I’m trying to look at you, but if I look there slightly is because I’m looking at out and I want to see his reaction. Because sometimes it’s funny in these bits. My Word of the Week owl Tribrid. How al Tribrid guesses

Al Elliott 4:37
I’m guessing has come from hybrid. And it’s probably how I’m gonna guess that it is. You might try a hybrid working week at work but he’s just like a pilot. He can roll back. Oh, that’s

Leanne Elliott 4:51
a that’s a very good guess. But it’s not it’s not the answer I’m looking for. On the board. It’s not I’m afraid it’s not on the board. But Good, good effort Tribrid. So Tribrid is a term that I came across just this week given by Rg a research to find people who split their working time between the Office Home and various co working spaces or cafes. So basically what they’re saying is workers like the connectivity and connection of in person working. I would also say that, um, there’s no data for my psychology brain would imagine it’s maybe there may be more extroverts that enjoy that the co working in spaces that are their office. So basically, they like the in person working, but they don’t necessarily want to travel all the way into the office, or have the interruptions from colleagues. So this gives them yeah, basically what Tribrid is, and of course, as well, cost of living crisis, it may mean that we get well lit nicely heated, or indeed chilled spaces with reliable Wi Fi. That is what tribe it is. People who work from home or office or various co working spaces call me crazy owl. I’m not sure there’s a term that we needed to have. I

Al Elliott 6:04
don’t think so. I remember though, having said that, when I used to work at home, I used to sometimes go to restaurants or bars or restaurants or bars or pubs to work because I felt like I needed the people around me that said that’s changed since since the pandemic. I’m much happier just sitting in fact, I’m much happiest not seen meeting anyone apart from me and on a daily basis.

Leanne Elliott 6:23
And I think that is your little extraversion brain that maybe was kicking in. They want you to be the buzz.

Al Elliott 6:29
So I was a Tribrid wanker.

Leanne Elliott 6:31
Well, you didn’t have oh, no, you did have an office? Yes, you were Yeah. I would have tried

Al Elliott 6:36
to try. But anyway, so what else you got? Leah?

Leanne Elliott 6:39
I have another business, a scandal scandal for you. You may have heard PwC, Australia got themselves into a bit of a tricky situation. Did you hear about this? No, I didn’t. So PwC, Australia, Price Waterhouse Cooper as our previously known. Basically, the headline is a number of senior partners at the firm use confidential government advice that they gained from various clients and contacts to drum up work for multinational companies to help them pay less tax.

Speaker 2 7:12
Yeah, not the most ethical or even perhaps legal thing to do. So PwC worth forced to issue a public apology and stand down nine partners pending the results of its investigation. Since then, anonymous, anonymous, that’s a hard word to say anonymous anonymous group of employees have formed their own committee. It’s got a cut sheet. Coaching is car coach, probably don’t tell me do you know what America is? You know, that coach means anyway, Welsh, catchy, a catchy name for that committee, the committee to restore trust in PwC, through transparency and accountability

Al Elliott 7:51
of accountants for you name things, isn’t it? So they

Leanne Elliott 7:54
have stepped up calls for radical reforms within the business and also raise doubts at the independence of the internal investigation. A good example here of a lack of psychological safety with this group giving that feedback anonymously. So, you know, it sounds like there’s been a bit there’s been a bit of scandal and now even in the investigation, there’s a bit of potential scandal there. It will be interesting to see what happens if there’s any professional sanctions criminal charges that do come but what is for sure is the PDB to PwC brand as a whole are not willing to take the hit. Having already solved that Australian government advisory business, the source of the publicity problem for one Australian dollar to Allegro funds. Wow. Yeah, what else you got Leah? Moving on from anonymous to infamous tick tock is a goldmine when it comes to understanding the latest workplace trends of our dear dear and very much loved for me personally. Gen. Zed is my absolute favorite generation without a doubt. So this episode of that news roundup Well, I thought I would add a little segment called a segment called tick tock tails. Oh, man,

Al Elliott 9:07
I love it. The Alliteration is just, it’s just getting me a little bit aroused. I don’t know why I said.

Leanne Elliott 9:14
Okay. So I must admit this feature is inspired by the Tony and Ryan podcast, which is a very funny Australian podcast that put a lot of stuff on YouTube shorts and on tick tock, on tick tock, tick tock. And also I came across a creator called Kayla Avery, who was also making a bit of a name for herself for this type of thing onto the chalk. Basically, it’s all about corporate talk. So it’s basically you know, things like, we’re gonna pin it. circle back. We’re going to have the flagpole we’ll whiteboard it ahead of the huddle on Friday.

Al Elliott 9:50
Just reaching out, it’s reaching out, circling back,

Leanne Elliott 9:54
circling back. But yeah, but these cruises are basically exposing the passive aggressive nature. You have some corporate talk that we all understand and we use to passively aggressively maybe school, our bosses, or colleagues, or even our employees. So I’m gonna read you some corporate talk. And I would like you to see if you can translate it into real chat for me.

Al Elliott 10:17
Bear in mind, I’ve never worked in corporate. So this is going to be fun. If you send

Leanne Elliott 10:21
an email, you will know. Okay, so corporate job number one, as per my last email.

Al Elliott 10:27
Why the fuck? Haven’t you done it already?

Leanne Elliott 10:29
Okay. As you’re aware, you should

Al Elliott 10:33
be aware because I’ve told you for at least three times,

Leanne Elliott 10:37
I’ve attached another copy for your convenience.

Al Elliott 10:39
You’re a fucking idiot, because you’ve lost the last one.

Leanne Elliott 10:43
You are nailing these. Sorry, if I was unclear,

Al Elliott 10:46
sorry, if you are an idiot, you misunderstood. I’m sorry, you’re an idiot basically, is covers that whatever.

Leanne Elliott 10:54
I’m sorry, if you can’t understand that very simple thing that I’m trying to explain to you. Just a friendly reminder.

Al Elliott 11:01
This is the ninth time I’ve told you, Kate, get your ass in gear.

Leanne Elliott 11:06
Okay. I recall that quite differently. You’re lying. To put it more simply.

Al Elliott 11:17
I got back, I circle back. You’re an idiot. And you need something really simple to understand. Which is why I’m making it more simple for you.

Leanne Elliott 11:26
And the last one, this outcome was not surprised to me.

Al Elliott 11:30
I knew this all along and I told you this was gonna go to

Leanne Elliott 11:33
you this is gonna happen. And now it does.

Al Elliott 11:36
I want no nothing more to do with it.

Leanne Elliott 11:39
Washing my hands of you. Yeah. Isn’t it amazing that you said you’re not really worked in? Well, neither of us have worked in corporate and you’ve not really worked enough to environment and yet we all understand corporate talk office politics it is. It is brilliant. Maybe a game for you feel free to take those. Those little statements there. Maybe play a bit of a cup talk bingo this week talk. If you get a full house, let us know we’ll get a prize.

Al Elliott 12:05
Don’t be trying to register that because we’re going to register as soon as we’ve come off this, but we’re going to register corporate bingo.com And we’re gonna have the trademark and everything we’re going to there’s going to be a great game. I love that. I love that. Yeah, that was one of my favorite bits of the news roundup. So shall we go on to the main segment or anything else? No, I’m doing brilliant. Loved it. So Bernard Brogan X GA footballer, X accountant, now co founder of pep talk. Well, why am I introducing him? Let’s get him introduce himself.

Bernard Brogan 12:39
My name is Brenda Brogan and I am more known for my Gaelic football exploits for Dublin, GA. We weren’t Seven Samurai Warriors, or premierships as you might call them in the EU in the UK. And, and I’m a co founder of pep talk, which is a employee culture and employee engagement platform.

Leanne Elliott 12:57
There’s something about the Irish accent and maybe it’s because it because I come from an Irish family but it’s just it just feels like home doesn’t it?

Al Elliott 13:04
It’s like a hug hug through the years for coach. So Pep Talk is a pretty impressive company. These are just some really quick stats for you. So James and Bernard Brogan were the founders, the co founders, they’re both cousins. I think it’s probably difficult to live in Ireland and not because in somehow it started in 2017 raised over 1.2 million euros in 2021. Then the increase the team to about 25 more people and also won the contract with likes of PayPal impressive. Further 36 million USD in investment to expand the US and other I believe they’ve got four offices in the US. All fancy fancy addresses on them. And then recently last year, they were Deloitte Deloitte technology fast 50 Winner, they were number 33. I think they were which is a pretty impressive price. So the whole point of pep talk is it exists to improve safety, reduce risk, increase retention, and reduce absenteeism. So how does it do it very simply, it just measures provides insights and suggest actions. If you look at their website, those are the three key tenants of the actual company. And they do it via an app, which uses a combination of surveys, check ins, early warning systems, all based on psychological science. I asked Bernard to give us that higher level version of what pep talk does are basically

Bernard Brogan 14:26
we surface back really simple, frictionless pulses that take two seconds because people it’s hard to get people to do anything as you know, but we want to give them value straightaway. So we’re giving them relevant interventions for themselves and for their teams and then helping people managers you’re a good salesperson, you become a sales manager, you’re a good tech person you become a tech manager doesn’t mean you have the skills to be an effective leader. So we to look for people managers, to have the skillsets to have a hard conversation feedback, a top performance review, communication, clarity of your role, these things are just hired do as leaders, we just help those that be a crutch for your for your teams at scale across an organization.

Speaker 2 15:06
So what pep talk are basically doing just to make sure you understand it’s like a, an employee insight survey, but pulse, meaning just maybe a couple of questions and out much more frequently than in depth survey. And they use that to create general markers for managers on how people are thinking, feeling performing. Is that about right?

Al Elliott 15:27
You’ve pretty much nailed it. The reason why outlining that it will become clear a bit later on because we do have an app to spell is similar. We’re not in competition with Bernard, and we’ll explain a bit more about that later on

Leanne Elliott 15:39
is interesting that Bernard talks about how his experience as a high performance sports has kind of shaped his his vision for the company and it’s something we hear a lot a lot about in psychology we’ve heard from last week’s episode, Kate Goodyear from Langham Langer Rock who worked with the team GB I think we’ve had people on in the past as well who have been athletes or, or trained athletes, athletes, and I think is this understandable crossover that the psychology that is needed to engage people in very high pressured environments to perform well is not gonna be too different from the psychology we need to do the same for employees and equally high pressured environments. So it is really interesting to hear how this has shaped his vision for the company. But what did Bernard see in sport that he knew could be applied to the workforce

Bernard Brogan 16:32
it was it was a story around the sense of team and pep talks. Real USP is about focusing on the team and the manager, to to conjuncts the culture that why you want to stay why you wanted, why you want to go to the wall for each other, I had an in sport or left and right me, I had my colleagues, my met my friends, my teammates, that we’d go to go to war together, and we will do whatever we could to help each other out and try and get over the line

Al Elliott 16:55
burner credits his old manager Pat McElroy for his enthusiasm for not only sports, but also just for generally, business and entrepreneurship and, and really just making your vision come alive. I asked him a bit more about this story about parent.

Bernard Brogan 17:09
In my sporting career, I had a great leader pack Elroy, who asked a lot of hard questions of me. And he thought he was a great business person, he’d been bought and sold a couple of businesses, and he knew how to deal with people, he put his, he put his arm around him and he kicks him in the ass, which was one of them. And some people react as you know differently to feedback and to motivation. And he just made me gave me real clarity about effective leadership about how to bring people on a journey. And he felt there was more in me as a as a sports person. And he pushed me and pushed me pushed me for about 18 months, I ended up becoming a player of the year. And in our sport and GA, the following year, we turned a corner as a team, and not that it was down to me. But he did the same for obviously, the whole group. And but you felt it was just a sole focus on yourself. And I mean, that was the journey started of our seven, seven aren’t as they say in 2011, he kind of really brought us together, we talk

Leanne Elliott 18:04
a lot about leadership on the podcast, and we have had some phenomenal guests in in the past talk about leadership. I think what Bernie has just done, there is really kind of made the point that leadership is not about hierarchy. Yes, there may be a bit of asking from time to time, but it’s more about creating this shared belief, this shared vision, this shared sense of belonging, you know, to us burns phrase to go to go to war with each other. You know, that’s that’s hard loyalty. So I think it really just shows that whatever industry or world you’re talking about, leadership is really, really important. And that’s it, which is why I think for any leader listening, it’s so important for you to invest in your own development, as much as the development is your own team, because you are, you know, you are this figurehead that can can really serve as a source of inspiration and performance. Or you can be you know, that the point in which it never gets off the ground in the first place.

Al Elliott 19:07
Yeah, absolutely. And I think we, as you alluded to, before, we’ve had at least three or four people on the podcast who have been in the sports world have now gone into business. And they just they almost all of them cite someone like this. Remember Kyle den Hoff in I think episode 23 was talking about a great manager and that’s what made made him a great athlete. He’s this car from HubSpot, a great athlete and then on to why he’s such a great manager these these days, although not His words, but I spoke to his colleagues and apparently he’s fantastic.

Speaker 2 19:40
I think it is a really good kind of analogy to use or a world to, to look at and can, you know, draw similarities from we think about, you don’t own in the UK, football or soccer. Now one of the greatest managers, football managers of all time, for as much as it pains me to say it was the Asperger Syndrome Manchester United. And I think he was managed, what 1920 years maybe longer won them as many Premier League titles, fa cups, league cups, European Championships, they dominated. But you’ve got to think over that span of 20 years, particularly in the world of sport, where a career if you’re looking might last, what 15 years, there would have been so much turnover within that team, whether naturally or otherwise, over time. The constant was Alex Ferguson, and that philosophy and mentality and expectation and vision, you know, as a leader, you are the constant where the people are coming and going is kind of irrelevant, because you’re, you’re the person setting the tone.

Al Elliott 20:42
Yeah, I totally agree. I totally agree. So I spoke a little bit more about the psychology behind both athletes and entrepreneurs,

Bernard Brogan 20:48
I think probably high performance sports gives you the opposite have to be driven you have to why I became a high performance individual in my sport was because I wanted a more and more people I trained harder, I did the extras on my own in the backfield kick and points as a free taker as a as a striker. So I practice and practice and practice I wasn’t naturally skilled as other people. So I worked harder at it. And that’s a similar thing for a for entrepreneurs or for people, as you’re saying in some coming from sport into into business. They just have a mentality maybe to work hard or things or to be ambitious to not ask like a trait of high performance. People I feel as curiosity and pushing yourself. It’s not been happy in your comfort zone. I always push themselves Okay. Sometimes I can’t make stuff when you just stay in your comfort zone. It’s not easier. But I think that’s what we all need. And that’s what we serve we searched for in sport. And some people get there, some people don’t. But I think that’s an attribute that amount entrepreneurism are people in business that have came from sport will do well, because they have that goat can go getter attitude, and will and will work hard and won’t accept mediocrity, I suppose.

Leanne Elliott 21:55
Yeah, the psychology of entrepreneurs is really interesting, particularly in terms of innovation, or risk taking or pushing yourself being very comfortable outside of your comfort zone. It’s all things that definitely we’ll see in the personality profiles of entrepreneurs and in high performance athletes as well. My word of caution would be and I think Bernard is mentioned it there as well, is that, you know, it’s practice, practice, practice, I wasn’t naturally, as skilled as other people. I think that’s the case for any entrepreneur that is in a growing business that is perhaps now got this brand new people element that they’ve not had previously, and may not quite have the same innate strengths to deal with, as we’ve mentioned before, you know, people don’t necessarily want a lot of change and disruption, once an organization gets to a certain size, your CFO certainly doesn’t want you taking lots of risks all the time or, you know, keep going in, in the pursuit of, of, of growth alone. And that’s what we saw with with tech recently, nor the layoffs, you know, pursuing that that high growth model can have it’s, it’s dangerous. So I think there is an element there of the practice, practice practice may also be around kind of the more leadership behaviors and competencies you need to nurture as an entrepreneur in a growing business.

Al Elliott 23:12
Yeah, absolutely. And just because you start running, you’re not going to be Usain Bolt within a year, this just be doubly so hard on yourself, the fact that you’ve now grown your team from five to 25, you’re still learning as well about how to manage a team. Now, one thing that has come out through over and over and again, in almost every single of these episodes, is that just because you like read a book about culture doesn’t mean that then you’re going to have a culture, culture needs to be intentional. There’s a saying you always salient Oh, I’ve always misquoted because I remember exactly what it is. It’s something about culture is Do you remember it?

Leanne Elliott 23:46
Yeah. The fact is, you have you have a culture, whether you want to or whether you know what it is or not, you have a call, if you have people within your organization, you have a culture, which is why it’s it makes me smile, perhaps when people will say, Oh, you know, we’re doing a big culture project that’s going to transform our culture, yet, they don’t quite have a clear understanding of exactly where their culture is. Now, which is why, you know, tools like pep talk, and others are so important in understanding your starting point. So you can then go down that, that route of transformation. But yeah, whether you like it or not, you have a culture.

Al Elliott 24:21
Yeah. And I think what’s really important is that your culture will probably change as you scale. The cultures almost certainly change your cultural was certainly certainly changed with the pandemic, with working from home with hybrid work. So I think what was really cool is that Bernie is saying, regardless of what’s happening in the external world, you still need to be intentional about your culture.

Bernard Brogan 24:42
As far as the world of work has changed. People are a bit dispersed, is it a hybrids bit of flexibility? So you need to be a lot more intentional about how you create a culture and there needs to be actions, actual physical things need to things need to happen, rather than kind of saying, Oh, this is what we need to do. So we’re helping teams with those those Tips and Tricks and actions and habit change over over over a period with organizations. I learned largely through my own experience and working with the team and the psychologists and the experts. But how do we actually take some of these lessons and give them give them true joy organizations and true, true true team culture. If you want to create a culture where you look left and right, your colleagues, you want friendships, you want a team experience. And it was a story about that as I was I was free taker, I took the penalties, I took the scores and probably got a lot of the glory. And even though I didn’t do probably a lot of hard work on the pitch, and it was about that selflessness about obviously commerciality of we’re an amateur sports you don’t get paid.

Leanne Elliott 25:38
It’s interesting how burnin mentions that he often got a lot of the credit in the glory for his role, but it was very much a team effort. And I think there are things that of course, in the public eye, there will be specific people that are celebrating that’s true in the sports world and the business works where we will no names like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos. But I think what’s what’s really interesting is what Bernie has said is that he didn’t necessarily see that as his individual success, it was that team success. And it is again comes back to, you know, that mission, whatever that that mission you need to deliver, whether it’s winning a football game, or securing a new client, there is going to be that one person that might be the one that gets over the line. But the collective effort that has taken place to get to that point has to be recognized and internalized as a team and by every member of the team to feel that their contribution counts. The key thing I think is well, that why we see these superstars in in sports that do really well is something around the superstar effect, which we talked about back in episode 3031. I think, you know, which is why you shouldn’t always hire superstars necessarily. So the superstar effect basically means that and this was was coined from research in the sports arena, so So Tiger Woods for a long time dominated as the best golf player on the world. And what psychologists observed is that when Tiger Woods was playing in a competition, rather than raising their the game, and performance of everybody else playing actually dragged down their performance below their usual average or usual level of performance for various reasons where they felt intimidated, what’s the point, and this can carry through as well in business teams. And the difference between a superstar that will be effective in your team, and a superstar that won’t be effective is the ability of that superstar, to be coached. And as we know, there is no successful sports person out there who isn’t able to be coached. So the other side of this, as Bernard suggests, is that you build a culture that’s centered around the team, rather than the individual.

Bernard Brogan 27:53
We all know, in the tech world is this hero engineers, there’s obviously this big ego, CEOs, etc. So there’s a lot to summer that there may be take, take the clever, take the limelight, a lot in the last while it’s been a tough time for tech, the tech world. So culture is a big tank to get around your people. Fundamentally, culture is about the values that you learn over time and set the team camaraderie, the friendships, you have communication, the legacy of the sport to play. So all these things are coming late in high performance, and we’re trying to just protect you organizations. And they’re doing a lot more in the UK. Now, one of

Al Elliott 28:25
the things that Bennett talks about a lot, there was trust. And like when you got a sports team, of course, that makes sense. Everyone needs to trust each other. But also, it’s got a really big impact in teams in organization. It really

Leanne Elliott 28:35
does. And I think even more so now that we are seeing this, this hybrid working or Tribrid working is that, you know, we haven’t got that same we haven’t got eyes on our employees, we have to trust that they’re there during their work. And I think this is where a lot of the tension between employers and employees is coming from is that employees feel they can be productive working at home, and employers or leaders in particular for that they’re losing control. So I think trust is, is probably more relevant now. Post pandemic than it ever has been.

Al Elliott 29:07
Bernard also believes that trust is essential to lower risk of accidents to increase psychological safety. And just generally to make a team work.

Bernard Brogan 29:17
If you have trust from a manager and an organ and the team that will reduce accidents, you’ll be able to come forward with a challenge you’re not going to try and bury problems. That is what high performance is and we try to layer that upstream peace of mind and the word cultural safety, psychological safety, the words that commonality we’re trying to get after

Leanne Elliott 29:35
see the psychological safety that we feel to them be able to trust our managers or trust that we can provide feedback without you know, any fear of negative consequences can be down to our own well being it comes down to the performance. It can also potentially be down you know, come down to life and death situations or my mom was talking to Stephen and he talked about the work of Amy Edmondson who’s a pioneer in psychological safety. And they use the example of research done in hospitals with nurses and how the health outcomes are the patient outcomes were much higher in hospitals, health care organizations with high levels of psychological safety. Because as a nurse, if I think there’s a there’s a mistake that’s been made in terms of the medication that’s been given to a patient, if I didn’t have that psychological safety, share that with my, my boss, which might be more than likely the consultant, the medical doctor, and I might not say anything, and that could seriously implicate the health of a person as the same when it comes to workplace health and safety. So yeah, I think it is true. And especially as we’ve said, people that are working in, in more isolated environments

Bernard Brogan 30:39
do a lot of work in DHS, and the psychological safety and looking after your teams, those kind of desolate environments where people are on sites or in a lab as a as a pharmacy or pharmaceutical organization. They don’t maybe sometimes get the the HR support or the audit tools, the HQ or the desk environment will get so we will feel we can add a value there. And that’s going to really focus on the US as well around at EHS psychological safety is to upstream incidences, accidents, and near misses is the metric and KPIs at organization, you know, making sure that you have good relationships, that is a sense of trust that you hope that it’s not, as you said, it feels this culture of fear, which sometimes construction for like, as you say, healthcare, these industries where you’re told to do something now, if you don’t do it, that doesn’t give you autonomy as an individual. So that that doesn’t give you a psychological safety, you’re always in fear, you’re kind of you’re afraid to give your opinion, you’re afraid to ask questions. psychological safety is an environment where I can ask questions, beat him, beat him simple or beat him beat him really intelligent. But you’re in an environment where you are the group and the team and the organization is gonna, it’s gonna grow because people are asking good questions, they’re curious, they want to learn, they’re motivated, shown off, and they’re energized. And that’s fundamentally what what you want from from the hype form and culture.

Leanne Elliott 31:55
Construction is a really interesting industry, I think, to, to look at psychological safety, both in terms of, of the impact potentially, on our physical safety and our mental health. You know, we spoke to Kate Goodyear last week, who is a child psychologist with Langer walk, and she talked a lot about, you know, the kind of the, you know, the the bachelor culture that can can come about in a male dominated work environment, particularly on site, you know, for example, you may have times where perhaps you’re, you know, your colleagues or maybe messing around at a point that they shouldn’t, or, you know, you notice that somebody is skipping a step in it, and a safety check, but you don’t want to say anything, and it’s not just the fear of repercussion against your mind, you can be the fear of repercussion amongst your colleagues as well. So, you know, that’s how we can see these ripple effects in terms of our physical safety. And I think in terms of, of construction, as well, you know, as Kate was saying, you know, the suicide rate amongst the construction industry is really, you know, high, it’s disproportionately high. And that’s often because of these male dominant dominated environments, very different social and psychological challenges that men face and don’t feel as able to talk about them. Having this psychological safety with your manager with your colleagues, you know, can help you go do you know, what I’m not doing right at the moment, this is going on at home, this is what I’m experiencing, psychologically, is what I’m finding difficult. And if we can have those conversations earlier, and as managers and as leaders, if we know what’s going on earlier, we can we can nip it in the board, or we can put steps in place to stop it from, from escalating. I’m not sure there’s anything worse, as a manager to have I guess, one felt that your your member staff was able to come and talk to you, but also that it’s now escalated to a point that it’s really difficult for you to manage, you know, manage that situation effectively, whether it be in terms of somebody’s mental health, or even in terms of kind of their performance management conversation. If these things have been continuously, you know, overlooked from from a compliance perspective and ethical perspective, whatever it is, yes, psychological safety May, as a term seem a bit fluffy and nice to have. When you start to break it down and start to look at practical examples of how this plays out in the workforce. It really is a significant thing that we need to think about. We need to focus on not only for the performance of our business, but the literal, you know, health and safety of our employees.

Al Elliott 34:23
If you’ve heard the answer before, you’ll know that she’s talks about data, she’s fanatical about data. The idea is that you shouldn’t be taking any kind of decision or do any kind of intervention, unless you have got the data which backs it up.

Leanne Elliott 34:35
As per my previous podcast episode. I have mentioned the importance of data before.

Al Elliott 34:41
Yes, absolutely. So you know what Leanne thinks about data? Some organizations think oh, well, that’s great. Well run a survey was stick it in a really fancy like PowerPoint presentation, send it to the board or standard before the board and Bosch job done the course that is not the case collecting data It was the first part of this, then you’ve got to look and see what else you do with it. So pep talk have three sort of fundamentals, which is measure insights, actions. And the idea is that you measure it great, of course, the SDI, some surveys and some apps in place. But are they producing insights that you can act on? And are you actually taking actions on those, Burnett explains, is not just a tick box exercise,

Bernard Brogan 35:22
we’re just going to so much that the world of work can get from those high performing cultures and the values and layers that we brought in over time. And you’ll always hear some of the stands here today. Like, if you’re if this is a box ticking wellbeing tool, this isn’t the standard for you look at those lovely one of the one of the stands beside us. And that’s like, the old Xbox things you can do for culture and wellbeing, and they will live there at the side. Or you can try and actually enact change management and try and actually make a difference. And that’s what pep talk we’re trying to do. It’s not easy, because you have to engage your people, managers, you have to engage your teams, you have to do things, you have to have a team talk once a month, you have to do these things that create trust, you can’t just like no silver bullet to this economy. And God organizations have leaders who naturally do that, because they’re just natural born leaders, or they want to build a culture to keep for what we do is there’s some action to it. Like there’s loads of survey tools out there to tell you what you already know, we, you’ll know yourself, there’s a world of them, but very few of them provide the action to relevant action to actually solve something. And that’s what’s really given us energy in our clients. And we have to work harder than this hard and we’re building. But that’s really our USP. And that’s where we’re getting our joy.

Leanne Elliott 36:29
I love that so much measure, insights, action. And I think it’s so important because yes, we can we can we can anyone can run a survey and pull up the results, insights, and often why we need experts like Bernard and his team or me, or the psychologist, is that you need to turn that data into insights, what does that actually mean? How is it all interconnected. And then the third point action, if you don’t intend to act on the feedback that your employees have given you, you’re probably better at doing nothing at all, because any any trust or morale that you’ve built, in asking people their opinion, and people have put themselves in the, you know, their vulnerable situation, assuming they have this psychological safety. If you’re not then using that data to make any change within the business, then that’s just, you know, what’s the point that’s a real, a real drain on our morale and our feeling of psychological safety. As I mentioned earlier, we have our own, you know, culture tool called the RX seven, and it is this hybrid of culture and engagement. And well being much like pep talk, but we’re not a direct competitor, we work with much smaller organizations, typically under 100 people. And one of the things that we’ll always make sure that we do is, is kind of pull out these equations for clients. So if you’ve scored, really, you know, if you’ve scored low on resources, which means probably typically, people will have high workloads and not necessarily the skills are trained to do their roles. They’re scoring low on resilience, they’re feeling a bit low on energy, on positivity and optimism. And then you’re scoring very high on extra roll effort. So people are going above and beyond and putting in the extra hours, that low resources plus low resilience, plus high extra effort is more than likely gonna result in burnout, because you’ve got people who don’t have the resources or the psychological capital to keep going. But they’re still you know, working above and beyond. So what that’s what we mean by we can take the data. So how we scored on resources, how we scored on resilience, how we scored an extra effort there, the data points, the insight, is it though those three things combined, are predictive of a potential burnout problem later down the line?

Al Elliott 38:36
Absolutely. And as Leanne says, The RX seven is perfect for you for like three, but roughly 30 to 300 employees. That’s sort of our sweet spot. I asked Bernard what the sweet spot for pep talk was,

Bernard Brogan 38:46
yeah, well, the sweet spot is anywhere from over 100 or 200, up to a couple of 1000. We work with it with a with AB bank in Ireland, or 12,000 people we work with Pay Pal, which is more 15,000 people across Asia, US and Europe.

Leanne Elliott 39:00
So regardless of who you use, or what tool you use, please don’t just rely on the technology to fix everything. We’re talking about people here, you know, a piece of software or artificial intelligence is never going to be able to replace these honest, authentic conversations, especially when you are scaling your teams.

Bernard Brogan 39:22
But as you scale and you lose proximity of the people, once you’re over 100 people, you start not being able to see everyone and no one everyone they are known that no one everyone’s name. And then flexibility and hybrid has made it even worse again. So there’s the need for not just need for for tech, obviously technology allows us to do a lot more at scale, but just that that nudging towards the behaviors that are traditional in nature that are having a conversation more about you as an individual, what do you into? How can I help you get after your goals? How can we as a team have more better communication? How can we support each other more? They’re just human conversations, and that’s what’s been left out. It’s like, how’s the weather to do and we can Okay, I want to move on to KPIs and OKRs and sales numbers. I mean, that’s that’s the superficial, what’s happening, and we need to go with that level deeper. And that’s what we’re trying to unpick in organizations.

Leanne Elliott 40:10
One of the questions I get asked a lot from business owners is how, how frequently do I need to do this? How much is too much? If I do a survey every 12 months, maybe a pulse check every now and again? Does that mean that I’m cool? I know how my people think and feel I’ve got the data points I can crack on, or is actually better to not do any of that and just have conversations because my organization is small enough that I can have a conversation with every member of my staff regularly. Should I just do that? And the answer is always, it depends. And probably both, is what we’re talking about here from a science perspective is we’re talking about quantitative data. So then the numbers that we can, you know, push through fancy, fancy tools and statistics, and we’re talking about qualitative data, getting the statistical analysis and that, but it’s a much richer data point. And I think the point is to have a real holistic view of your organization and understanding of how your people are thinking, feeling and behaving at work, you need both my advice would always be a comprehensive employee engagement coach, check survey every 12 months, post checks, at least every six months. But as we’ve heard from pep talk, we can do it much more frequently. As long as we’re just asking a few questions at a time. And in terms of of the face to face conversations, or the the, you know, the person to person conversation, or even person’s team conversations, they need to happen as well. Even if you’re using pep talk and getting this consistent monthly insights, that doesn’t replace the importance of you having conversations with members of your team, because it is that human to human interaction and connection, that’s going to help us build trust, help us build psychological safety. And ultimately, we need that psychological safety. So our people answer these surveys, honestly, to give us that feedback, we need to know where to make the changes. So it’s almost like this chicken and egg continuous loop of a situation we need to be person to person human heat to human to build the relationships that foster psychological safety, for us to then get the the authentic data and insights we need in our in our surveys and our quantitative data to drive change.

Al Elliott 42:19
As you can probably tell from the way Bernie talks, the enthusiasm he’s got for this project is kind of infectious. So I said What is next for pep talk?

Bernard Brogan 42:27
It is it’s all consuming. And it’s and it’s a built in team. And we have a co founder, James, because and family what we were on to each other all the time. And it’s just that journey and all the rest of our colleagues. And it’s just trying to achieve something that hasn’t been done before. And we’re doing it a bit differently. It’s hard. And but the rewards, self fulfilling rewards, obviously, it’d be great and time a fee, if we ever got to do it, the financial rewards but the self, the self fulfilling fulfillment of been able to build something to do a good job, to grow a business to provide employment are the type of stuff and it’s really, really hard. turns me on, as you say.

Al Elliott 43:04
So let me take the pressure off you for a second. And let’s just summit where we’re up to today, we’ve had a lot of things. But we think we can sum up into really three sort of key areas that you need to take action in. So the first one is you need to do some kind of audit to get that data to measure it. Whether you use pep talk, whether you use RX seven, whether you use Hi Bob, whether whatever comm whatever you use, just ensure that what you’re using actually will measure the right thing, and also will return the insights you want. It’s using a Google form or something or a Google Form to do some kind of engagement survey is next to useless because all it’s going to do is give you a load of numbers, you really need someone who’s going to be ever on app or someone is going to be able to tell you what those numbers mean. So number one, do an audit

Leanne Elliott 43:51
couldn’t agree more our data without the inside is completely useless. And of course, we hope that you if you are an organization, over 100, you do use pep talk, we hope that if you’re an organization under 100, you do use us in the arc seven. But the point is, and I know Bernard agrees on this, just use somebody, you know, just engaged somebody to help you with this stuff. Because it is really important. And what that’s going to help me to do is work towards psychological safety or even understand the level of psychological safety you already have within the organization. I think it’s been mindful as well that that could change over time with growth with new employees. Joining with, you know, older employees leaving an acquisition is significant changes in the business in terms of an influx of customers, it could be anything is There’s levels of psychological safety can shift. So you need to work on it consistently. You should always actively encourage your teams to speak up, to share their ideas to give you feedback to tell you where the roadblocks are, and where the risks are. And I think as a leader, you know, extending this idea in terms of psychological safety, I think you know, an audit like this is one element. As we’ve said, those one to one conversations or humans, human conversations are another element. I think the third element as well, if you’re really taking this seriously to foster this sense of psychological safety, and work on your own development as a leader 360 feedback tools are phenomenal. So that’s when, as a leader, I will ask my staff to assess my performance, I’ll ask my customers, I’ll ask my, my peers, I’ll ask my, my manager, I’m getting all of these different points, to really understand how you’re performing how I’m performing as a leader. So then if you really want to take it to the next step. Yeah, look at 360 tools.

Al Elliott 45:42
So number one is doing an audit number two is working towards a culture of psychological safety. Number three, is simply turn your managers into coaches, we’re not in the 80s anymore. managers don’t need braces and cups of tea and shouting at people. It’s not like that anymore. The whole point is that once you’ve measured it, once you’ve got your insights you need to take action. And generally, in most organizations, it can’t be just one person, it needs to filter down to the line managers and those the people who need to have human to human conversations. They need to understand that their job is to help their employees achieve their goals, because if the employees get what they want, the managers will get what they want.

Leanne Elliott 46:24
Mic drop mount allows fabulous.

Al Elliott 46:28
Not dropping these mics at about 300.

Leanne Elliott 46:30
I love this one.

Al Elliott 46:33
Okay, so that is everything. I think, is there anything that we’ve missed out? Leann that perhaps we should have talked about?

Speaker 2 46:39
No, I don’t think so. I think we’ve covered all the main points there highlighted Burnitz work and the amazing tool that Pep Talk is I mean, come on the names of people that are using it, you know, as as a high quality tool, we will leave all of the links in the show notes, both to pep talk to Bernard and to us as well and the RX seven, if you are interested in learning more about that if you’re under 100 people and I use it up to 300 out, but I don’t know at that point. I think pep talk might be a bit but

Leanne Elliott 47:10
I’m not the salesperson

Al Elliott 47:12
sales and marketing guy. And so I’m always just like, oh, let’s just let’s just expand our total addressable market just by sort of maybe about 200% But um, RX seven is currently in invite only mode. So if you are interested, then you just look at the show notes. You can send email, send an email to Leanne or myself, and we will assess your application and just see if it’s suitable for you. Goodness Lee, and that has been fantastic. And you know what, I absolutely love the new Roundup. I want more of these where we have to try and guess what we’re after. And guess what the things mean?

Leanne Elliott 47:40
Oh, do you like the cop talk the cop talk? Do you know what I didn’t I knew what obviously I knew we were doing burnin this week, but I usually just kind of look through my little my little collection of things for for the news roundup and just pick out the ones I feel like talking about but I feel actually I’ve accidentally aligned them really quite well this week. absolutely perfectly. Yeah. But I’ve only just now got the pep talk Corp talk connection.

Al Elliott 48:03
Well, I think let’s let’s pretend that this was all planned out. It was whiteboard ID and we

Leanne Elliott 48:11
then we stuck a pin in it and we circled back to it a couple of weeks late. That’s enough.

Al Elliott 48:15
Say goodbye Lea by them. Bye. See you next week.

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