Performing Like a Pit Crew Off the Racetrack
About This Episode
What does NASCAR and a pit crew have to do with high-performing teams in the world of business? A lot more than you may expect. Pit crew coaches and co-founders of DECK (Diversity, Efficiency, Culture, and Kindness) Leadership, Mike Metcalf and Shaun Peet, draw on their NASCAR experience as pit crew coaches to showcase how business leaders can create more efficient teams within their organizations. Because just like the 12-second pit stop, in a performance-driven profession, effective and efficient leadership and teamwork can mean the difference between advancing or falling behind. On this episode of The Edge, Mike and Shaun share their secrets to helping your team “win.”
Interested in learning more?
- To find out more about DECK Leadership, visit DeckLeadership.com
- Read more about Mike and Shaun’s unique principles of leadership in their book, 12 Second Culture
- Access Perspectives Unleashed sessions on-demand
The views expressed by guests are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Skillsoft.
Michelle BB 00:00:07 The views expressed by guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Skillsoft. Welcome to the edge, a Skillsoft podcast for learners and leaders alike, and today race, car drivers, but more on that in a minute. And every episode we engage in candid thought provoking conversations on the topic of learning and growth in the workplace. And today, yes, we are talking NASCAR and I couldn't be more excited. I have a bit of history with the organization and I'll get to, to that in a bit now NASCAR or the national association for stock car auto racing is best known as the leader in the sport hosting drivers and their passionate fans at events across north America, Europe, and Mexico, from the cup series to the Daytona 500 today, NASCAR holds more than a thousand races every year and has made drivers like Jimmy Johnson, Bubba Wallace, Jeff Gordon, and so many more household names.
Michelle BB 00:01:08 And while these drivers are the people we know, and we love their success, wouldn't be possible without the team standing right behind them. Their pit crew. Now as racing fans, you know, pit stops are one of the most important elements in any form of motor sports. How well the pit crew performs can truly mean either winning the race or finishing second. Oh, and did I mention the average pitstop lasts only 12 seconds. That's 12 seconds to change four tires and refuel a car before it needs to be back on the racetrack. The difference in one fifth of a second, the time it takes to change a single lug nut on a single tire can determine more than 1 million in earnings. So what does this mean? NASCAR pit crews operate on the edge of what is humanly possible and to be successful. They must work together with a keen level of precision efficiency and synergy.
Michelle BB 00:02:10 So why are we talking about NASCAR today? Well, if you think about it, the relationship between a driver and his pit crew is analogous to that of a business leader and her team to be an effective leader and drive business outcomes. You will like a NASCAR driver must also have a high functioning, agile strategic team operating alongside of you. And in today's rapidly changing workplace efficiency has become the new currency. So just like the 12 second pit stop in a performance driven profession, effective and efficient leadership and teamwork can mean the difference between advancing or falling behind. So what is the key to helping our teams win? Well, to help answer that question, I have two incredible joining me today who understand what it takes to create high performing teams, both on and off the racetrack Mike met and Sean, Pete are the co-founders of deck leadership, a business consulting company that inspires and transforms the modern workplace by uncovering opportunities for diversity, efficiency, culture and kindness for deck.
Michelle BB 00:03:23 They approach their work through the lens of their unique backgrounds, both Mike and Sean have also been a part of NASCAR for more than 10 years currently serving as head coaches for the chip Ganassi racing pit group, as pit crew coaches, Mike and Shawn know quite a bit about the pressure to be fast and to be the best. And so they base their work for deck on their pit crew experience, drawing powerful parallels between creating and maintaining a high functioning pit crew team and creating a high functioning team within business and through their work. They've discovered that in a performance driven profession, timeless truths translate into every work environment. Whether you work in the corporate world, own a business coach, a team, or manage people they've presented to multiple organizations and employees at all levels from managers to C-suite executives. And they've written about their unique principles of leadership in their book. 12 second culture, needless to say, I am beyond thrilled to have Mike and Sean here today for an exciting and fast paced episode, Mike and Sean. Welcome. And thank you so much for joining me on the edge.
Mike and Shaun 00:04:36 So glad to be here. We're excited. Thank you, Michelle.
Michelle BB 00:04:40 Well, as I said, in my introduction, I am thrilled to have you both join me today. And as some of our listeners know, um, you joined us for a special session at perspectives unleash and you were both so amazing attendees. Couldn't stop raving about you. And so we were thrilled to be able to invite you back again. And look, you both come from a NASCAR background. And look, I should tell you, I actually have a little bit of experience with, uh, the world of NASCAR racing. I had the pleasure of working very closely with race operations in my previous role at IBM when the weather company became the official weather partner of NASCAR, and I had the chance to attend several races and see what the day in day out role and responsibility of a pit crew is like. And let me just say, it's, it's pretty amazing to see the level of agility strategy and teamwork that goes into the job, but you're the pit crew experts here. So I'd love to start today's conversation by having you introduce yourself to our listeners, share some additional background on your work at NASCAR and how and why you founded deck leadership.
Mike and Shaun 00:05:44 Yeah, Mike Metcalf, I'm just finished my 16th season and racing and motor sports started as a developmental picker guy. College athlete, uh, had some injuries in college, wanted to keep playing, being in a competitive environment, stumbled into racing and had never watched a race and never seen one didn't know anything about it. And for some reason, somebody hired me, which is, you know, looking back on it, what it's worth. And I'm very similar to Shawn. We, we, we started developmental kind of just trying to figure it out. I said, maybe I'd do it for five years and that's coming on three times. Right. And so worked her way into a coaching role. Um, and, and just learning how to deal with teams and getting people to go fast. And far at the same time, we've learned a lot. We started writing people would ask me, I wish I could get high.
Mike and Shaun 00:06:39 You know, how do I get my team to function like a pit crew? And so we just started putting content together, not thinking we had much of a story, just trying to help those people that we knew close to us. And it ended up being something a lot bigger. Yeah. And I had a similar story to Mike's, um, from Vancouver island, British Columbia came to the United States on a hockey scholarship, um, was in the Pittsburgh penguins system and was, uh, sent down to NASCAR country, which at the time was Greensboro ended up in, uh, a huge brawl opening night. And then when I was suspended, I met a guy in the stands, worked in NASCAR and, um, you know, I laugh, I tell people I tried for 25 years to get to the national hockey league and I made it to NASCAR like six weeks.
Mike and Shaun 00:07:18 So, um, linked up with this guy at red bull about halfway through our NASCAR journey. Um, and, uh, yeah, I think you can tell, we don't take ourselves very seriously. You know, Mike and I had an opportunity to speak up at the NFL combine, um, and to our horror, the day before the event, um, we get a program with everyone with all their, uh, letters under their names, 150 speakers, 148 of them add all sorts of letters, doctor PhD, CSCs, you name it except for Mike and I. Um, so instead of playing small in the moment we just made up our own, um, CC, I'm a Canadian citizen, uh, FHP, I'm a failed hockey player. Uh OPCC on the other picker coach and chip Ganassi racing now track. I was racing and, uh, finally GSO on the German shepherd owner. The one I like to use most is Irv. Cause everyone's like, alright, cause Sean goes first. So they usually hear him and they're like, oh my God, what's Mike going to say? And burb his backup running back. I was the second stringer my entire career. So, uh, just to shout out to those who never made it to the starving team, I'm, uh, you're, you're my people.
Michelle BB 00:08:23 So I would be an R a O rescue Akita owner. So I'm going to add that to my list of titles. I like that a lot. Right?
Mike and Shaun 00:08:34 You think of those titles, right? Like there's nothing that drives us more crazy than people that you don't th the, the Sage on the stage people, right. We're just, we're figuring it out as we go, just like every other human being in this world. And, uh, those letters, you know, they don't serve the people in the audience and that's, that's what leadership's about. Right. It's about selflessness. And we're very passionate about that message. I love
Michelle BB 00:08:55 That. I love that. And look, you know, you, you bring a level of experience in creating high-performing pit crews into this world of business. You don't take yourself too seriously. And I think that that's what actually helps people better understand the message that you provide. And so I want to start here with, with deck and, and that stands for diversity efficiency, culture and kindness. Now I've heard you say that these four principles are key to a pit crews performance strategy, and I'm not sure that too many people would say that these are the four components that they would think of as essential for creating successful teams on the racetrack. So over the course of your experience in NASCAR, serving as pit crew, coach, and coaches talking to business, why these four components, what is it about them that's so magical together?
Mike and Shaun 00:09:48 So the way that we worked through that diversity is building a team. Efficiency is becoming a team. Culture is being a team. So figuring out how to exist together. Uh, and then kindness is more than a team and that's the glue that brings all those others together. And so, um, everyone is looking to get faster speeds, the currency of business. It's our tagline on our book, and it's not big beating smallest, fast beating, slow. Um, the average age of businesses in the U S used to be over 60 years and it's less than 18 now. And so what does that tell you? It tells you that if you don't have adaptability and speed as a current in the fiber of your organization, you're looking at ops obsolescence. And so, you know, we knew that, Hey, we don't have a choice. We have to be fast, but we knew that with the series changing, there's been a lot of changes and there's more changes coming next year.
Mike and Shaun 00:10:43 If we didn't have, uh, uh, just kind of like a foundation of speed, we would, we would fall short. Right? And so, um, those were our pillars. We knew that we needed to have different views coming to the table, different people with different ideas. Uh, we knew we needed to build trust, which is what efficiency is. Uh, we say culture eats strategy for breakfast. It's great to have an incredible process and I have all the X's and O's, but, um, if you don't have the people that are excited about being there that enjoy work week with each other, that aren't collaborative, things like that, then your culture is going to take a hit and you have no chance. And then kindness is two fold. It's us being kind to ourselves. You know, we just talked about it. We, we failed to make it to a football field to make it to hockey, you know, as professionals.
Mike and Shaun 00:11:28 But, um, we kept going and there's grace for ourselves. And so often we don't give grace to others because we're not condor ourselves. And so we wanted to have a kind organization. And so, um, with those pillars, we felt like we'd been able to be successful and think that if we can do this as two, uh, idiots that work in, uh, on a bigger program now that anybody can, and Michelle, this was like, this was born out of necessity. When Mike I inherited this program, um, it was, uh, it was a dumpster fire inside a dumpster fire. Like it was a mess. And, uh, you know, both teams were outside the top 25 and it wasn't that we weren't talented. We had a plenty of talent in the building. The problem was we were lazy. We were entitled and we were selfish. And so Mike and I thought, you know, there was a lot of work to be done.
Mike and Shaun 00:12:14 Um, if we're going to throw 60 to 80 hours a week at this, we wanted to do it a certain way. And that's why, you know, we brought in, you know, the, the diversity piece, right. People that don't think or look like us have different experiences. Um, you know, it was a catalyst in building this and, uh, you know, we operate with half the budget to the teams we're racing on. So if we didn't weaponize our culture, we had no chance to compete. So what we like is if we could value our people more than others, you know, when they came to the building, it was unquestioned that they were valued in this organization. Not only them, but their voice, you know, and their gifts. Um, we had something for the other teams and three years later, we were on the top of the chart.
Michelle BB 00:12:55 Yeah, that's unbelievable. And I have to, I have to ask this because, you know, clearly it worked with your racing teams in NASCAR, but how does this translate to managing teams off the race track?
Mike and Shaun 00:13:11 Well, you know, you know, it's interesting Mike and I go into these businesses all over the country and, you know, they think we're, we're going to deliver a process. Right? We want our people to operate like a pit group, but operating like a picker is elevating people over process, right? It's that it's making people feel valued. And, you know, the, the constant remark we always get is we had no idea how much, what we do would parallel what you guys do. If you think about it, it doesn't matter if you're running a bank, um, a business team or a pit crew, it boils down to inspiring human brilliance. If you can do that, if you can get a hundred percent out of the people that work with you, um, you have a far greater chance of leading your category than if you have a bigger team, um, this full apathy. Yeah. I would just add that, you know, it's, uh, that Sean, Sean crushed that I don't need to say anything else.
Michelle BB 00:14:09 Well, uh, you know, I, I took some time. I want you both to know in preparing for our conversation, I do this with every one of my guests. I have learned so much doing this podcast. Um, but I took some time to read your book 12 second culture, which is really amazing. Terrific, congratulations. Um, and you see this and, and God, this one hit me like a ton of bricks and America in particular, there has been a long preoccupation with being fast and being the best. But as we look at it, it is possible that winning or advancing at all costs is actually hurting us. And the facts that you cite, I just want to share them with our audience. We think it's important more than 50% of us employees would trust a complete stranger over there. Boss heart attack rates are the highest on Monday mornings. I'm glad that I woke up and felt good this morning. Uh, the United States is the world leader in antidepressant medication. More than two thirds of us employees experience a lack of connection or inspiration in their workplace. And you've coined this as the American hustle workplace culture. What have we done to ourselves and how, why have we brought people into this culture and continue to let it persist?
Mike and Shaun 00:15:22 I mean, people are burning out at alarming rates. Um, and I think there's a, there's a self determination theory. I think we referenced this when we were with you all before, is that people need three things to be, uh, successful and that's to be authentic in who they are competent at what they do and have meaningful connections to others. Like it needs to have those, those three need to intersect. Um, and, and we've completely removed that meaningful connections, the others piece, like we've moved two thirds, uh, I mean a third of the, the pillars out of what people need to really truly be happy. You know, so many people will say often, like, you know, it's just, I'm just too, I just have too much going on. But the reality is, is there's just not enough of things that you, that mean something to you going on in your life and why can't work be that way.
Mike and Shaun 00:16:15 Why can't we, you know, we can care about people and say it all the time. You can be overworked, underpaid or undervalued, but not all three. And we can't always pay people more. We can't always, uh, make the make less work. You know, sometimes the works, the work. If we have a project to get done, we have to get it done, but we can always value people. You know, we can, as managers, as, as leaders, just take 30 seconds on the way home from work or walking from your zoom office to your kitchen and just call somebody for no reason. Other than just to say, I appreciate you, that's free. Right? And that's the things that we're not doing. We're looking at productivity. We mistake activity, uh, for, for achievement. And there's this illusion of movement that we have as long as we have a busy schedule and we're doing a lot of meetings and we're making a lot of calls and we're clicking off our to-do lists, um, that were successful.
Mike and Shaun 00:17:09 And I think we're missing. Yeah. And I call it, I call it the north American hustle culture because there's a Canadian. I don't want to call it the American hustle culture and start pointing fingers. But, um, I think we're, we're up there. We are down here. Um, you know, and we've just, we've bought into this fallacy that, um, you know, that, uh, we just got to hustle and go, go, go, go, go. You know, the problem is, is these little black mirrors that we all carry around now? Um, we're, we're taking in more information in a week than we, than we did in a decade. Right. And to think that our brains, we still have the same primal brains as our ancestors, right. Just the technology gets faster. So to think that we can process that effectively and just don't keep ramping up the speeds.
Mike and Shaun 00:17:55 Um, you know, it is part of that fallacy. I think the biggest, the biggest miss, maybe the biggest lie of all is that in this society, just because something is easy, we don't think it's effective. Right. So if I were to tell you, Michelle, I want you to take an hour out of the day just to think you'd be like, well, no, I, can't excited this spreadsheet to send up these five emails and right. Because if something's easy, it's not effective, but the waiver processing information, we have to understand this is effective, even though it's easy.
Michelle BB 00:18:29 I think that's a really interesting concept. And I, you know, I think everybody gets it intellectually. We understand, we need time. We need to give ourselves grace, by the way, I talk about giving grace all the time. So I love to hear that. I, I often talk as well about building meaningful connections and communicating often and with purpose. And so I feel like we're on the same wavelength here, but, but we know that not everybody is. So what can we do about this, this culture that we've built? Because it, you know, it's one thing to talk about the shifts we need to make. It's a whole nother thing to actually do it.
Mike and Shaun 00:19:07 I mean, I think, I think it starts one person at a time and I think it starts within. And we say often that it's important to invest through overflow and that you pour into your own self so much that it pours out into others. So often we go to an offsite and we listen to Michelle, she gets us fired up, we're inspired. And then we go back into our environments and then we dump it all out. But then we're empty by the end of the day or the end of the week. And then we're back to ground zero. Um, there's a great Zig Ziglar quote. I think it says that if a flower is broken, you don't fix the flower. You fix the environment, the flowers, and we all need minerals and sunshines and air, you know, and we don't give ourselves air. We don't give ourselves time to breathe.
Mike and Shaun 00:19:53 We don't give ourselves time to think. And it's important for us as humans. Like we say, we're taking in so much right now. If we don't implode, um, our chance to be brilliant, uh, it never happens, you know? And, and you think about, you think about what you get to do with this speed, right? Because you're, you're, you're working on overdrive. And you know, if you think about NASCAR pit stops in 1960, they were an excess of a minute 30 seconds. Uh, we had a group run, one for change, four tires and put 18 gallons of fuel in the car at 9.8 seconds. Right. You would've told those guys back then that you're gonna do at nine seconds. They would have laughed you out of the racetrack. But the problem is, is because we have so much information coming in, it traps us in horizontal thinking patterns, right? So Michelle, if I were to ask you, um, you know, like, like say you had a, a great weekend or an offsite and you come back in and, and in your downtime, you got a moment to think, and you came up with the greatest plan ever, and you come into work Monday morning. What's the first thing you do Monday morning when you get to work, read number of up your email.
Michelle BB 00:21:00 Oh, well that too, I hold my first team meeting. And then I stress over the amount of email that's coming into my inbox. And you can just see being me, me, me, me, me, me,
Mike and Shaun 00:21:08 You got it. So what do we do? We go down the email rabbit hole, right? And then we have two meetings. And then before, you know, it it's noon. So we go have lunch and then we have an insulin crash and then we have another meeting and then we've got to put out a flyer in the afternoon. And before you know it, we got to the end of Monday and we never got to implement the greatest plan ever. So what do you do? You photocopy it and you bring it back and it gets a little bit lighter, right? So then you come in Tuesday morning, what's the first thing you do Tuesday morning.
Mike and Shaun 00:21:39 And the same thing goes on, right? A couple more meetings scheduled. It kind of throws us a little bit sideways, uh, lunch, insulin crash before you know it, um, it's seven at night. You didn't get to implement the greatest plan ever. So it was photocopied. Again, you bring them back on Wednesday and the same thing happens Wednesday, and you photocopy it and bring it back Thursday and you keep photocopying until there's nothing left. It's just a blank piece of paper. And that's the difference between being thinking horizontally and thinking vertically, you know, horizontal thinking is how do we get to the end of the day? How do we get to Friday? Right? We celebrate all these days in north American culture. Ooh, hump. They were halfway there on Friday. No, no. You should be like celebrating. I'm halfway to this audacious goal that we set. Right. And thinking vertically and horizontally thinking vertically is making success list, thinking horizontally is making to-do lists. Right? And then it goes back to the pitstop example. If those guys would not have thought vertically, you know, all these years of that we've been doing pit stops, we would still be at a minute and 30 seconds. But because we think vertically we're at nine seconds,
Michelle BB 00:22:45 That is, that is so fascinating. And I'm so glad you brought this up because this notion of horizontal versus vertical thinking, because look, I'm guilty of to do lists. I have my to-do list. I know what I need to get done. And I feel accomplished when I took something off, but you're flipping it on its head, right. You're saying rather than thinking about all the things you need to get done in a day, think about the successes. Think about the outcomes that you're trying to drive. And so what it sounds like to me as we think about our success lists is that creativity and innovation are more likely to flourish in that environment. There are a product of vertical thinking, as opposed to this horizontal thinking where it's, we're satisfied when we get to the end of the day. And we've managed to check five things off, whether those were the right five things or not.
Mike and Shaun 00:23:30 Correct. Yep. And it's easier. It's easy to tell if you think Wednesday's halfway there, you're a horizontal thinker because all you're thinking about is getting to Friday and think about the list the way typically you start at the top and you check going down, right, right. Where we're trying to go, like we're trying to go up, like build your list to where it lifts you through the week. Not just you get toward the end of the,
Michelle BB 00:23:52 So I need to, I'm going to take this podcast and I'm going to re-listen to it every single time I start checking off the boxes on it to do no, I'm serious because I think that we, to your point, we get so inspired and we get so motivated by hearing somebody tell us a better way. But then we go back and we repeat the same behaviors. And so I think we've got to figure out how do we shift? How do we, how do we change in ourselves? But it's not just us because our teams are already that this is the way they think this is the way they operate our peers, our leaders, we really need to, to adjust the entire mindset of our organization. So that we're all thinking creatively. We're all thinking vertically. Yeah, absolutely.
Mike and Shaun 00:24:39 Absolutely.
Michelle BB 00:24:40 You know, I'm hearing this and I'm seeing so many parallels here and we just talked about this on our most recent episode of the edge we released, um, our global knowledge, it skills and salary report, and it surveyed about a 10,000 it staff and decision makers around the globe. And what the findings told us, no surprise to you, many are burnt out. They don't have that time to think creatively or be innovative. Um, and respondents reported that workload is the biggest hindrance to personal growth and development saying that there just isn't enough time to up-skill or even get done what they're supposed to get done in the day. So I think this, this sounds familiar and, you know, as a leader, I hear it and it concerns me. And so I have to ask myself, what can I be doing to give my teams the tools they need? How can I become a better servant leader? Is it by giving them the time and space to think? And, you know, I think the message from you is really clear. We need time to think. And especially in this digital and remote world where we all live, according to the schedule of our mobile phone, it seems like creating time to think is all the more urgent and necessary. So how do we do that? How do we give people more time to think?
Mike and Shaun 00:25:54 We, uh, we were glad to some, some time in Notre Dame, right before the start of their football season and their theme for the year was that, um, everything you want in life is on the other side of heart. And, uh, in the question isn't, is, is it hard, but is it worth it? Is it worth it for you as a leader to make the time, create the time force, the time to upscale, to pour into yourself, even when it's tired? Is that getting up a little earlier? Is it going to sleep, you know, at a different time, you know, like whatever the sacrifice is necessary, it's thinking about downstream. If I'm pouring into myself right now and investing in myself, what is the ROI look like for those that are affected by them? Um, it is very and in common and no one's going to judge anyone listening to this.
Mike and Shaun 00:26:47 If you just stay in the lane of getting the things done that you have to get done. Right. But the challenge is, is how can we as leaders take it to the next level, think vertically, invest in ourselves. And, um, you know, I mean, it is a challenge and it's, it's not for everyone. And it's hard for leaders, right? Michelle. Because like, when you're like, okay, I'm going to give my employees time to think, right? What happens right away? What you stand to lose. So you give all your employees an hour to think what you stand to lose is measurable. Right. But you can be like, okay, well, I'm going to lose a five reports. I'm going to lose this list, this right. But what you stand to gain is conceptual, right? It's it could be five X or 10 X or a hundred X.
Mike and Shaun 00:27:29 If someone comes up with a good idea. Right. But that's not measurable. And that's why it's so hard to make that shift. Right. Because what we stand to lose is measurable. You know? And one thing that Mike and I made very certain right from the start is, um, the equation that's in the book and that we live by as power equals work over time. You know, w we were trapped here by bosses that, oh, well, this guy shows up at six and he stays till seven at night. Well, yeah, but he's behind the engine shop and he's over here. He takes two hours at lunch. Right. I want the person that comes in for six hours produces a ton of work and then goes and spends the rest of the evening and dinner with their family that is efficiency. Right. And I think we get that wrong in these businesses where we think we have to hold someone from seven to five or seven to seven. No, no, here's the work. Right. You all go after it. And soon as you're done, you're out of here and that's how we run this department. There's a list of the work. And once the work's done, you're gone. It doesn't matter if it takes you two hours day,
Michelle BB 00:28:27 You know, that's, I think that's, I think that's exactly right. And I, I really love that phrase. Everything you want is on the other side of hard, because I think it is hard to change ingrained habits, right? We all have these sort of ways of doing things in particular. When you get to my age, it's a lot harder to change our habits, but I think it's so important. And, you know, it might be helpful. I don't know if, if you would, but if, if you could maybe, maybe have you share some more on the outcomes and the transformations that you've seen, because right now, I think it's been theoretical for us. We talked about why it's important and what you can do, but what are some of the things that you've seen? What are some of the differences that you've seen organizations make by creating this time to think, or providing employees with the chance to take the time they need be more efficient, get, get, work done at their pace, but still have this ability, uh, to your point to go home and spend time and do other things that, that, you know, I think help restore the soul a bit.
Mike and Shaun 00:29:33 Yeah. We were with, uh, his company, uh, about a month ago and, uh, one of their senior director, key leader, people, they were in the midst of a big reorg. They're changing the business to make sure that they're able to meet the demands of a post COVID world. And at the end of it, our session, he just stopped. And he's like, you know what, I'm going to put a pause on this. You know, we we've thought so much about how to change our process. We've completely not thought about the people that are going to have to implement the process. And so when I hear stuff like that, I realize, all right, we're we're, I know we're just two, a couple jobs from racing about, you know, we're are able to, to impact the world in a pretty profound way. Cause this, these are thousands of people who are actually gonna feel valued and they're going to come to work energized because people aren't just trying to squeeze more hours out of them to meet a bottom line.
Mike and Shaun 00:30:27 They actually care about them and want the best for them and want them to be fulfilled and energized and connected and excited to come to work. And those are the companies that perform, you know, year after year, you see the people that are at the top and their employee engagement's really hot. And there's a reason for that. And one of the things we did in house was, you know, NASCAR underwent a pretty significant change. We went from, uh, six athletes to five and, um, you know, Mike and I traditionally practiced from Monday to Friday in the off season and we just weren't getting anywhere. And one, one day we were like, all right, guys, um, Fridays off with this caveat, you're going to go home and think how we can make this thing better. And one of the guys came back and what you have to do in NASCAR is you have to do adjustments and you have to carry a wrench out.
Mike and Shaun 00:31:14 But it's hard to carry a wrench when you're carrying 2 65 pound tires. And this one guy came back and he's like, well, what if we just carried it in our mouth? Right? And this is a piece of steel, right? It's a steel Ridge. He's good. He wants to bite down on it and kick it over the wall. If you watch a NASCAR race, every single team does it that way. Now we're the first. And it was because we gave one of our athletes, you know, a directive and the time to think about the directive, right? Like, think about it. How many times do you have a brilliant idea in the shower or on the drive, home from work or when you're, when you're not doing the thing that you have the idea, right? That's what that space allows you to do because your brain kind of takes his foot off. The gas allows you to think,
Michelle BB 00:31:59 You know, that you, you said something earlier easy doesn't mean less effective. That feels like such an easy thing. But you know, in the moment, you're not thinking about, well, what's the easiest way to carry this. And yet you ended up with a solution that is now being deployed across all athletes and all teams. Yeah.
Mike and Shaun 00:32:20 Yeah. But easiest taboo now in our culture, right? If it's easy, that means you're not hustling. That means I'm not as good. You're not as valuable employee. And we've got to get out of that, that way of thinking and to get out of that, it takes, it takes courage. I mean, that's a requirement for leaders to the today. Cause you're going to have to buck system a little bit. You're going to have to go against the grain. You're going to have managers as we have had, what are you doing? Everybody else's work. And why is your department office? Our department is thinking we were blending our heads up against the wall. We couldn't figure it out. We send them home, us staying here and continuing to try to butt up against the wall. That's not moving, isn't efficient. It isn't productive. And it's just burning people out. So give them some time. Maybe they'll have lunch with their kid or do nothing at all. Um, at the very least they'll come back excited the next day because they had some time off Michelle. We believe in this. So, so thoroughly that Mike and I are restoring an old 18 hundreds gristmill and building it into a simplicity retreat, big wide porches, rocking chairs, a water wheel, water falling over the dam. Anything that elicit simplicity, we're building that because we think it is so needed right now.
Michelle BB 00:33:34 All right. So I want to find out when it's done and I want to, I want to breath. I want to bring the team because that sounds amazing. And it, it, it sounds like just the kind of place where you can. I mean, our brains are so cluttered right now with so much coming in your point about processing information. It sounds like that is the best way to spark creative thinking to spark in, uh, innovate, uh, innovation. Um, and I think to get excited about what you do, because when we are running at this pace, I gotta be honest. It's hard to get excited some days.
Michelle BB 00:34:14 All right. Well, this has been amazing. I mean, I literally, I could talk to you for the rest of the day, but I think we're, we're running out of some time. So, um, I do have one final question. Look, I've been asking this question of every single guest. So, so both of you have to answer, um, and I've been asking it in, you know, as we've gone through this pandemic, I've learned so much about people and what's important and what we have learned about ourselves. And so as we reflect on the past 20 months, we've all had a really different experience when it comes to the impact of the pandemic. And so here's my question. It's a three-part or if you need to write it down first, what have you learned about yourself through the pandemic? Second? How are you applying what you've learned? And then third, what advice would you give to others based on that knowledge? So what have you learned? How are you applying it? What advice would you share? Sean, let's start with you.
Mike and Shaun 00:35:14 Yeah, I would say, um, you know, I think that I learned that, um, you know, the pivoting is hard and that new normals are hard and that, uh, living in the unknown is hard. Um, you know, but I think it was a very formative moment of at Notre Dame a couple months ago that everything great in life lies on the other side of hard. So, you know, I no longer ask myself as something hard I asked, is it worth it? And that's a game changer, right? Because a lot of times the answer is yes, it is. Um, as far as what, what do I apply to what I've learned? Um, I don't think it's so much what I've learned. It's more about how much I need to unlearn. Um, there is no returning back to the way it was right. This, this is this isn't new normal, this is normal.
Mike and Shaun 00:36:03 And so it's imperative to walk through the doors of your business, especially as leaders and understand the things and behaviors that no longer serve you, right? The diseases, the stall job, what we've always done it this way. Well guess what, today's a new day and COVID is really kind of throwing us off the tracks. I come through the door every day and like, what do I not know or what no longer serves me. And I think that's been my big takeaway. And then finally, what did my mind share others? Um, you know, I think COVID has, has offered up a lot of hard stops to a lot of people and the businesses and the jobs you've had for a long time. Uh, and, and the friendships. I mean, there's even been a lot of in the life, right. And we don't get to script this, right. We just get to play the cards that we're dealt. And, um, when it comes to hard stops in life, we kind of live by this and, and it's this quote, and it's, don't put a period where life intended a comment because you get to choose the punctuation of your life. And in a hard stop may look like the end, if you allow it to be the end. But you know, there's always things like intestinal, fortitude and grit. And if you have that, um, it may or may not be comfortable, but, um, it's certainly navigable.
Michelle BB 00:37:22 I, I love that. I absolutely love that. And I like this idea of, I get to punctuate my own life. Right. I love that. Mike, how about you?
Mike and Shaun 00:37:33 Well, initially I was excited when you say Sean could go first now I'm like, I don't know if I'll be able to touch that. Uh, but, uh, I've uh, very simply the one thing I learned is that I am not a stay at home dad on paper. It sounded like it would be fun. Um, and when the whole world shut down, I was like, this is kind of cool. Cause my wife was, she's always been online from home. So I'm like, man, I get to watch the kids all day. So I'll be awesome. After about four days, I was like, Nope, cannot wait to get back to work. Uh, so, um, um, you know, I've, um, I've really parked on the investor overflow part kind of like to your point. Like I tell people that, um, I look at all these busy people in these leaders that we get to the incredible opportunity to work with and kind of realized, like I'm not doing that myself.
Mike and Shaun 00:38:30 You know, like I'm not giving myself enough time. And so is there something that I really, you know, to your point, you know, you have to be intentional about that. You have to build it into your schedule. Um, and maybe that's cutting out some of the things you like or TV show or whatever, but just to, you know, to unplug is so it's so important. It's so powerful and it's changed the way that I view everything and it's allowed us to do a ton of stuff. And people were like, how do you guys get so much done? It's like, I don't know that we get that much done, but the things that we do not do get accomplished, like we thought about it, we talk about it, we plan for it. We prepare for it. And we're in it invested in it when we're doing, we're not distracted.
Mike and Shaun 00:39:08 You know, we can clearly think about that. And I think that's just the problem with a lot of people. It's not that they're not smart or can't figure it out. It's just so many other things pulling out when we're in something, we've try to be in it. And I think that gives us an edge. What advice do we have? Yeah, I would say don't forget the, the momentum of, of like all the diversity stuff that happened. Um, and, and the reason why I say that is because, um, you can kind of start to see like people aren't, you know, talking about as much, you know, I would say right now is maybe this time a year ago, but, uh, my mentor told me a few months ago to get to new ideas. You have to ask some new questions. We must ask new questions. And some things are working in our lives, our relationships, our careers, our families, marriages, all that.
Mike and Shaun 00:39:56 But then there are a lot of things that aren't, and a lot of things that need to change. We need new ideas, which means we need new questions. Where do new questions come from? They come from people that have new eyes that are new to your organization, new to your life. Um, have a different background, have different social economic experiences. We use this diversity of thought, diversity of experience, diversity of age, diversity of motor that's our team diversity acronym. Those are the people that ask new questions. So many, you know, if we're in the same line of thinking in the same line of work and have the same friends that we've always had, they may not get us to those new ideas that we want. So I think it's expanding and keeping a rigid mindset, a growth mindset, um, I think is, is, is incredibly important for leaders right now.
Michelle BB 00:40:45 Thank you both so much, Sean, Mike, this was tremendous. I encourage everybody to check out 12 second culture. I think that's so it's just such a tremendous book. And I, as much as I don't want to finish this conversation, we have reached the end of today's episode. So again, thank you so much for joining us. It's been a pleasure. I've been taking copious notes this whole time, and I look forward to taking the concepts that we've touched on today. Vertical thinking, creating time to think, getting to the other side of heart and recognizing, you know, is it worth it? And if it is, then we should get to the other side of heart and then applying them in my own life. As I lead my own team and to our listeners, I want to thank you for tuning into this. And every episode as we unleash our edge together on behalf of the entire Skillsoft team, we encourage you to keep learning, keep growing and in light of our conversation today, consider the following. It might just be time to take a look in the mirror and ask, are you investing in yourself? Because if the answer is no, you might want to consider the changes you're going to make to ensure that you invest in yourself first in order to then effectively invest in your team. I'm Michelle BB. This is the edge. And until next time you will.
About Our Guest
Mike, being the oldest of four siblings, learned the struggles of leadership at an early age. The Charlotte native and former football student-athlete graduated with honors from Appalachian State University. He first entered the world of motorsports in 2006 as a developmental member of a NASCAR Pit Crew. Mike slowly climbed the ranks and started coaching pit crews in addition to competing in 2012. Presently, he is Co- Team Lead for Pit Crew and Human Performance at Chip Ganassi Racing and Fueler for the No. 42 Cup Series team. Outside of motorsports, Mike is very active in the community. He serves on the Board of Directors for the organization RunningWorks and is a board member of the Daddy Saturday Foundation. He also co-authored the book 12 Second Culture with Shaun Peet. When he isn't with his wife and 2 children or working, you can find him obsessing over all things related to cedar, bourbon and the Bible.
About Our Guest
Shaun was born and raised on Vancouver Island, Canada. He came to the United States on a hockey scholarship where he played four years in the Ivy League at Dartmouth College. He then played eight years in the minor leagues, serving as the captain of the New Mexico Scorpions. A chance meeting with a fan then afforded him an opportunity to work in NASCAR as a Jackman on a pit crew for the next 12 years. In 2013 he was approached to coach the Chip Ganassi Pit Crew Department. The Ganassi Pit Crew Department was the first pit crew to ever receive the Comcast Community Champions Award for their dedication to help those in need.He currently resides in Davidson, NC with his wife Jane. He is an avid reader and feels most alive when he is hiking in the mountains. He truly believes that there is more knowledge and wisdom in Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” than most 4 year degree program.
About Our Host
As Chief Marketing Officer, Michelle leads a global marketing organization, focused on transforming today’s workforce for tomorrow’s economy. Since joining the company, she has been responsible for Skillsoft’s global marketing strategy, which includes generating awareness, driving preference, and building affinity for Skillsoft. Additionally – and perhaps most importantly – Michelle serves as the company's brand evangelist, helping to build a vibrant community of passionate learners.
With more than 25 years of marketing, branding, and strategy experience, Michelle has made it her personal mission to support the advancement of women in business. Prior to Skillsoft, she served as Chief Marketing Officer of IBM Watson, where she was instrumental in developing the first “Women Leaders in AI” program, which honors women who put AI to work across industries and around the globe. She also served as the global head of marketing for The Weather Company, an IBM Business, helping companies understand how to anticipate, plan for, and ultimately make better decisions – with greater confidence – in the face of weather.
Michelle is a prolific speaker on a range of topics, including the war for talent, digital transformation, and marketing in a post-pandemic world. She covers these topics and more as the host of Skillsoft's podcast, The Edge, now in its second season. She has authored countless papers covering a range of business and marketing topics, was at the center of Skillsoft’s leadership role in DEI through free “Leadercamps,” and has taught two Percipio courses on the Pink Pandemic and Public Speaking.
Michelle is also a founding member of CMO Huddles, a group dedicated to bringing together and empowering highly effective B2B CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness. Michelle holds a Master’s degree from Simmons University and sits on the pro side of the Oxford comma debate.