The customer experience will never exceed the employee experience. If you want to be a company where customers love to come see you and are engaged and they feel good about it. How do you get there? Well, you have to have employees that love to come to work, that are really engaged, they're excited about what they do.

In this episode

The power of gratitude and small acts of appreciation can build trust and loyalty within teams.

Managers often underutilize the tool of gratitude and recognition in their efforts to build trust and morale among their teams.

Chester discusses the blurring of lines between work and personal life, emphasizing the importance of setting good guardrails and aligning personal values with company values to create a positive customer experience.

Chester Elton is a #1 New York Times Bestselling business author, organizational culture, employee engagement, and leadership expert. One of today’s most influential voices in workplace trends, he has spent two decades helping clients engage their employees to execute on strategy, vision, and values. His work is supported by research with more than one million working adults, revealing the secrets to develop a high-performing team. 

In episode #171, Chester explains how important it is to reflect on your work as a leader daily and get into the habit of gratitude to improve your leadership and management, both in work and with your family. He even shares some tactical ways to use gratitude to strengthen your personal relationships. 

Tune in to hear all about Chester’s leadership journey and the lessons learned along the way!

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.


Gratitude stones and their significance


The impact of gratitude on teams and companies


Work-life balance and personal leadership


Family dinner ritual to promote gratitude


Mental health in the workplace


Leadership, trust, and personal growth

Resources mentioned in this episode:


Aydin Mirzaee (  00:24

Chester, welcome to the show.

Chester Elton  02:59

Hey, Aydin. Delighted to be here. Thanks for the invite.

Aydin Mirzaee (  03:02

Yeah, super excited to do this, you know, we were having such a great conversation. And I said, Let’s stop. So I can press record and and go from there. So traditionally, on the podcast, we always start with a question or two, which which I’m gonna get into, but I’m gonna go off script here today, and maybe start with something else, which is, you’ve really been passionate about gratitude, acts of gratitude. And you were just about telling me the story of something that you did that kind of showed an act of gratitude while at a at a hockey game. So maybe you can set the stage and tell us the story.

Chester Elton  03:37

So as we were talking, I’m a big fan of tokens and rituals. I think it gives you that sort of boost when you need it, you know? And as you and I were talking he said, Look, I’m always amazed at how simple acts of gratitude impact people. So I grew up in Canada diehard hockey fan live in New Jersey, now we’re in New Jersey Devils fans, you know, go to the we don’t paint our faces Aydin button where we’re this close to being face painting hockey fans. So what I do is when I go to the games I literally bring with me and I’ll show you these little gratitude stones Alright, actually says gratitude on it. It actually says gratitude on it. And so I literally every time I go to a game I’ll bring five or six of these gratitude stones with me. And you know, it’s so funny I know a lot of guys that work at the at the Dells. In fact, the president of the devils is a good friend of mine. The thing is, is the people that really make everything run at arenas and stadiums are the security guys are the you know, concession guys are the, you know, the hosts and hostesses and I always love to engage and hear their stories and give them their very own little gratitude stone. So I invited a couple of guys from the neighborhood, you know, we kind of know each other but not really. So we went to the hockey and as we had to go through securities, so I wouldn’t set off the metal detectors, which I’m such a knucklehead because rocks obviously won’t set off. I took them out of my pocket. They Put them on the thing. And my buddy, it’s a couple doors down he goes, I saw that, and I was gonna ask you about it. But I thought, no, I’ll put this is gonna be really good. So anyway, so you know, we get to our seats for having a game and we’re getting near the end of the game. And I said, three buddies, you know, there’s four of us in there, he said, Listen, I have this tradition that we have it in our family, that when we’re with people that we really enjoy, and that we’re grateful for their friendship, we give them a little token of gratitude. And it’s this gratitude stone. And they had all this is like, really cool, you know? And I said, Now, there’s a story behind it. Do you know why it’s a stone? And they go, no, why is it a stone? Is it because when you throw a stone in the pond, the water ripples, just like gratitude. And he goes, Oh, I saw what you did there. So to me, it’s a little something that you keep in your pocket, it’s a stone, so you can feel it. It’s unique, like we all are, and often flawed, you know, I, my friend say, what do you get him, I said, Well, I could collect them from the river, put them in a polishing machine, and then etch gratitude and fill it with silver. Or, I could do three clicks on Amazon, and they’ll send me a box of 100. I do the ladder, you know, and I love giving them to the crossing guards. And I love giving them to the conference organizers, I always send them to the executives that I coach, as a little reminder that even when you’re having a really rough day, this is a reminder that 99% of the world would trade places with you in a nanosecond, right? I mean, you think about you and I were doing this podcast, you know, we are just so incredibly lucky and gifted and blessed, whatever word you want to use. And this is just that really nice reminder. And, you know, I know you’ve got a lot of managers listening to the podcast, and sometimes managers feel like, they’re the material between the hammer and the anvil. That’s the manager, right? Even when it’s that think of all the good people that got to where you want it to be. Think of the people that support you think your families think your friends, we’ve all got something to be grateful for. And I love the ritual of a gratitude stuff. And that’s my story.

Aydin Mirzaee (  07:00

That’s awesome. So when did that first start for you?

Chester Elton  07:03

You know, I’ve been doing it for a few years. Now. In fact, I was trying to go through Amazon and add them up. I’ve given well over 1000 Gratitude stones away. And so I’ve been doing it for maybe just over two years now. It was so funny, I was just kind of surfing around, and I saw this thing I was looking for, you know, gratitude things. And I came across the stones i that you know what, that’s really tangible. That’s really cool. And then, you know, you develop the story around it and the ritual behind it. I set little goals every day. And one of my goals every day is a random act of kindness. I’m just such a big fan of a random act of kindness. And this gives me the opportunity and the reminder, to just perform a little random acts of kindness for everybody and anybody that comes across your way. Yeah,

Aydin Mirzaee (  07:48

that’s a great way to start. And so but just going on this idea of gratitude. So, you know, beyond reminding ourselves that this is, you know, we are very lucky. And to put things into perspective, you were just telling me about, you know, before we hit record, how it’s also a very important practice for people in companies, right, like for teams, what are some ways that you think gratitude is impactful within teams and within companies?

Chester Elton  08:17

Well, I really appreciate that question, Aydin, because Adrian gosta is my co author. And we’ve been writing together for over 20 years now. And as we studied high performance teams and leaders and cultures, the common thread was always gratitude that people felt like what they did mattered that they made a difference. And that when they made a difference, it was noticed and celebrated. So when you talk about how do we build a team, it’s got to start with trust, right? If you don’t trust your manager, forget everything else. Yeah, but we’ve got free snacks. No, it doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter if you don’t have trust, one of the best ways to build trust is through gratitude. And what I mean by that is that if I perform and you recognize me for that performance in whatever way that is, right, I call out with a team, you’ve got your wonderful platform for productivity, you know, you get shadows and all that kind of stuff. What the message is, is my career is safe with you, you won’t take credit for my work, you can give credit, where credit is due that builds trust, when I compliment you or we come together as a team, and we celebrate the team’s success. And we point out what people did and how they did it. And that was important to the team, those celebrations, and I’m a big fan of little celebrations along the way that builds momentum. I grew up in sales. And one of the one of the things in sales that we often make the mistake is we don’t celebrate until you hit the quota. Well, it can take you the whole year to hit your quota. You know, cheer for me a little bit along the way. You know, again, you know, everything comes back to hockey for me. I mean, we cheer when the players skate out on the ice. It’s the game hasn’t even started yet. Why do we cheer because we want them to know we got their backs we’re supporting them. And it’s so funny. I love this Aydin. When you say How was the game? We won? I love as fans when we say we want, as if we were on the ice, as if it was, I made the safe. But see, that’s the essence of a team, right? We all feel like the little things we do contribute. So it builds morale, it builds momentum. It builds trust, it’s probably the most underutilized tool in most managers toolbox. And if I were to ask you, why do you think what do you think the number one answer is I get when I’m coaching executives as to why they don’t give more praise and recognition, more gratitude. What do you think the number one answer is?

Aydin Mirzaee (  10:35

I want to say the don’t remember to that’s a good way, but they haven’t built the habit to do it. That’s close. Give me another one. Yeah, maybe they feel that they should only praise or give gratitude when something like really surpasses expectations and not for the everyday stuff.

Chester Elton  10:54

Yeah. You know, what’s really funny is we took all our research, we published it in a book called leaning with gratitude. And we had gratitude myths was restarted. Those are two of the myths. We only

Aydin Mirzaee (  11:06

read the main one, I didn’t get the main one. I’m kind of disappointed.

Chester Elton  11:10

You know what you’re you’re a solid B plus. The number one answer is I don’t have enough time. Oh, really? Interesting. Yeah. Isn’t that fascinating? And it’s so interesting. You say, What do you mean, you don’t have time? Is it well, you know, we do art stuff, we’re doing more with less, we’re checking the boxes, and blah, blah, blah. I said, okay, so Aydin’s killing it, just doing a great job. And you can’t find time to tell him, he’s doing a great job. When Aydin screws up how much time you got now. You’ll laugh I was doing this at a conference in in Georgia. And the guy says, Oh, I’m on that like a duck on a June bug. I’m not sure exactly what that means. You know, a New York minute I get that right? live just outside near. And what you gotta do is you gotta turn that around. We’ve always got time when somebody screws up, because we’re we’re managers and we solve problems we jump in. So if you flip that around, say, look, the more that you focus on what your people are doing really well and build up their confidence, the less likely they are to have those big catastrophes, right? And so it’s so funny a leader, we were doing this thing. We speak a lot of conferences. And so guy comes up to me later says, I really wish you’d told me that about three months ago, to praise our top performance. I said, Why is this I just lost the top performer. I said, why? He says, Well, you know, I was always praising them. He was doing great. But I didn’t want to offend, you know, the other guy on the team who, you know, doesn’t get a lot of praise and recognition. They said, Well, why don’t you give him a lot of praise and recognition? Because he’s, you know, he’s not very good. At this trait, you stop praising your top performer because you didn’t want to perform the underperforming and now your top performers gone. And the end of former still here he goes, Yeah, really screwed up. So you know, I mean, it seems so obvious when you put it in perspective like that. And yet the number one excuses I don’t have time.

Aydin Mirzaee (  12:59

Yeah. And I’m laughing here as well. But this is very common. This is very not not that uncommon. So what about how can people build this habit? Obviously, they should go out and get the book leading with gratitude. Thank you for that. And you’ve you’ve written three books, and I do want to talk about, you know, all three. I mean, you coach a lot of people, right? You’ve spent a lot of time with many executives, if someone says gives you all of the reasons in the myths that you talked about? Are there like tactical ways or like some things that they can do? Or people the listeners can do to get better at this?

Chester Elton  13:36

Yeah, no question. It’s a learned skill. It’s like anything, you know, we were talking about, you know, not everybody’s interested in being a great manager. And I think that part of that is, if you really want to be a good leader, you know, sometimes you get promoted to the manager, because you were the best salesman, right? Or you were the best researcher, and you get no training, you get no help with that. And if you really want to be a good leader, you need to be a student of leadership. So if there’s a discipline involved, and creating a culture of gratitude, you know, a safe culture, like it’s a discipline like anything else. So you know, make it part of your daily routine, absolutely. Say, look, we’re going to open and close our meetings with gratitude. We’re going to open with assess success story, and we’re going to end with a little shout out. And by the way, get your team to participate. Say, look, I’m the manager, I’m not gonna see everything that’s going on, who says something great, who’s got a great customer story, who’s got a great customer success story? And you celebrate that, right? Make sure that that’s part of your day, and it becomes part of your rituals and your routines. Yeah, I would buy a bunch of gratitude rock stuff of Amazon. I’ll share this with it’s kind of fun. So the first books we wrote by the way, my mother would make me correct you we Adrian, I haven’t written three books. We’ve written 14 books. Wow, that is a wow. And by the way, when we started writing books, we had no idea that we didn’t have writing that many. Well, the first books we wrote, you know, was managing with carrots, the 24 Carrot man As your you know, a carrot a day, our biggest selling book was the carrot principle, and on and on and on. And so you’ll notice there were a lot of orange because carrots are orange. And so we live the mantra. Well, we adopted a little mascot that we have a lot of fun with. And when people participated our conferences, when we do some, we give them the metaphorical carrot, you know, more carrots, less sticks. So we adopted a little mascot, his name’s carrot, the carrot.

Aydin Mirzaee (  15:24

Oh, wow. And yeah, I should say like, for everybody who’s just listening in the carrot principle, you’re wearing I see an orange, it looks like an orange Apple Watch orange shirt, orange glasses. You have a carrot mascot, like an actual mascot that you’re holding. So yeah, very on brand.

Chester Elton  15:41

Yeah, well, and here’s what’s always surprising to me, is we’ll be presenting to like the senior executives, the CEO, conferences and stuff. And we do fun little things to get people engaged knowing off their phones, right. So it will play Name That Tune in, you name this tune, I’ll give you a carrot. I’m always amazed that these captains of industry, if these guests that are making millions of dollars a year, will launch themselves out of their seats to win this little carrot. And I keep thinking, you know, you’ve probably got an American Express black card, you could probably buy the factory that makes these things. You know, it’s the competition, it’s the reward is the acknowledgement is that tangible little thing that says, Yeah, I got it right. And it’s amazing to me. Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about my favorite part of our book, leading with gratitude. And that is the last chapter. And it says, taking home, all these great leaders that we interviewed and lead with gratitude. Now, Alan Mulally, the guy that saved the Ford Motor Company, and Uber’s Julie, that turned around BestBuy. And you know, Ken Chenault that we interviewed him just as he retired from American Express phenomenal success in their organizations. They all shared with us gratitude practices that they did with their families. And I love that there’s a great saying that I love to share with people and say, look, as you lead in the workplace, and so on. I love this quote, and it goes like this. No success in business can ever compensate for failure in your home. In other words, these are great principles. And will they work as far as building a great team? You know, a great culture, a great organization, great customer focus? Absolutely. The thing is, don’t leave that at work. Take it home, like I give gratitude stones and all the conferences I speak and I give them to all the executives, I coach, I give them to the crossing guard. I came to my neighbor’s I came to the garbageman. What was the last time you stopped the guys that picked up your garbage and said by the way, I know nobody ever says this to you. I really appreciate the fact that you pick up my garbage every Thursday, you know, and when And when’s the last time we talked about the garbage guys? When they don’t pick up your garbage? Right? Then all of a sudden, we’re on the phone with the city. Hey, where’s the garbage can? Our mailman Armando? I always laugh I go. How many people know their postman’s name? The kid shows up every frickin day. You know, I love talking to her mom, though. How’s it going? Hey, would you like a drink? Have I given you a gratitude stone? Oh, I have? How about I give you one to give to somebody else. Just you know what I mean? It’s a two minute exchange. And Armando loves bringing us the mail. And I love seeing Armando. I’m getting a little bit off on a tangent, but I just want your listeners say listen, when you find something that really works at work and does something extraordinary. Ask yourself this question. How do I apply that to my personal life? And I guarantee it, not only will you be a better leader, it’ll help you be the person that you want to be as well.

Aydin Mirzaee (  18:33

That’s super interesting on the notion that you know, success in business can compensate for failure at home. So is it that maybe we can go a little bit deeper into what that quote means? Like, how do you interpret it?

Chester Elton  18:48

Well, I think it’s particularly pertinent right now. Now that was a quote that was like in the 60s was a religious philosopher named David O. McKay, who said that I always remembered it as a kid, is because now there are no lines between work and your personal life. Right? We’ve all got smartphones, you know, I’m old enough to remember when you went to work at nine and you lifted five and nobody could get me after five o’clock. You know what, it was pretty great. It really was pretty great. So now you know, and you know, work is global. You’re wrapping up, you can always get hold of somebody in Singapore, China, wherever. And so now that all of these lines are blurred work is life and life has work, right? So the principles that you use to govern your your business life are going to be the same principles you use to govern your personal life, because it’s one in the same. You’ve done this, I’ve done this, right? You got to take a call at 10 o’clock because of the time change, right? Somebody pings you at eight o’clock and you’re at dinner with friends and you look at that and go, I gotta take this call. I’m sorry. You know, we don’t set up good, good guardrails. Right. So now that all of that is blurred, you really got to make sure that you’re governing principles at work and life really mesh. You know, I know you love to offer tools to your listeners. There’s a book, oddly enough, not one of mine that I highly recommend. And it’s called How will you measure your life by Clayton Christensen. He was a wonderful professor at the Harvard School of Business died of cancer a few years ago. And this was his last lecture every year. And he would help us students answer three questions. And I think these are three questions we should be continually asking ourselves. One is, how am I going to build a career that is worthwhile, and that I love, right, that I love going to work? Secondly, how will I continue to build deep and meaningful relationships? You know, you look at all these studies, you know, the Harvard study on what creates a long, happy and healthy life. Number one is deep and meaningful relationships. And another great book, by the way, by Robert waldinger the good life, right? How do I continue to develop deep and meaningful relationships? And then the third one is, how will I live a life of integrity? And then you’ll love this Aydin? Because these are Harvard business school grads, how will I live a life of integrity and stay out of jail? And I in that last chapter, and it’s the shortest chapter or a section in the book, he said, be aware of people that asked you to do something, just this once. compromise your your principles, just this one’s because he says it do it once. I know you’ll do it again. What are your boundaries? So long answer to a great question is your personal life is your work life, your work, life is your personal life, make sure you’ve got a good match, you know, make sure that your values line up with the values of your company that if you really are a customer centric company, and you really care about your customers, we did some work with Avis Budget rental car, they had a great slogan. And they said, the customer experience will never exceed the employee experience. Think about that. If you want to be a company where customers love to come see you and are engaged and they feel good about it. How do you get there? Well, you have you have employees that love to come to work that are really engaged, they’re excited about what they do. And you know, you and I know this, right? You go into a store or even the online experience, the way it’s set up, you can tell who loves doing what they do, and who’s punching the clock, you know. And so I love that that the customer experience will never exceed the employee experience. Oh, we treat our customers like gold. Well, hopefully you’re treating your employees like gold too, right? Because that will ripple through.

Aydin Mirzaee (  22:36

Hey, everyone, just a quick pause on today’s episode to tell you about a new feature that I am so excited about. We’ve been working on this one for quite a while and excited to announce it to the world. We’re calling it meeting guidelines. So there’s all these things that people already know they should do when they organize a meeting. So for example, you should make sure that you shouldn’t invite too many people or if you’re booking a recurring meeting, you probably want to put an end date on that meeting. Or if you’re going to invite someone to meeting, you should probably you know, if they have more than 20 hours of meetings that week, maybe be a little bit more considerate and ask Should I really invite that person to the meeting. So there’s a bunch of these sorts of things that you might even know about. But what happens somehow in larger organizations is that people forget all of these things. And so that’s why we built this feature called meeting guidelines. It’s super easy to use, it’s a Google Chrome extension. So if you install it, what will happen is it will integrate with your Google Calendar. And that way, whenever anyone within your company is about to book a meeting, these meeting guidelines will show up and make sure that people know and take a second look at that meeting that they’re about to book and make sure that it adheres to these guidelines. So if you want to book or within your company, have a no meeting day, or if you want to make sure that every meeting has an agenda in advance before it’s booked. So all the different sorts of guidelines that you may want. And they’re all obviously highly configurable, because every company is going to be slightly different. But this is the first time that there is a way that you can get an entire organization to change their meeting behavior. It’s something that we’ve been working on for a very long time, super proud to announce it to the world. It’s called meeting guidelines. If you’re interested in checking it out. We’d love for you to do that and give us feedback. You can get to it by going to fellow dot app slash guidelines. Again, that’s fellow dot app slash guidelines. Check it out, and let me know what you think. So I have to ask you about the other people that you’ve chatted with. Have there been any interesting gratitude rituals that people I mean, you mentioned a few people that had gratitude rituals at home. So you know, you have three kids, we have family one What should we do internally? Like teach me how to do that at home?

Chester Elton  25:03

Yeah. Oh, listen at the end. There’s a great family ritual. You’ll use this. How old are you kids?

Aydin Mirzaee (  25:10

We have twin girls who are seven and then we have two and a half year old.

Chester Elton  25:14

Okay, the seven year olds will get it. The two and a half year old will want to get it. So a good friend of ours. He’s got a digital agency. And then in New York, his name is Dave kirpan great guy, big New York Mets fan, not that that matters. Give you a little context. So he said, our kids would come home from school. And we’ve tried to eat together as often as we could, you know, you get band practice, and volleyball, whatever. And he said, I know you’ve had this conversation, you say, So how was school? They got fine. What did you learn? Nothing.

Aydin Mirzaee (  25:46

100%? Or what did you do today? I don’t remember.

Chester Elton  25:49

Remember? So he said, we’re gonna change this up. Because you know, we’re here as a family. And we want this to be meaningful. Yeah, you have to answer three questions at every dinner. And they are these. Number one, what was the best part of your day? Everybody remembers the best part of their day? Because the best part of their day, right? Secondly, who are you grateful for who’s not at the dinner table? Maybe it’s a teacher or a friend or a coach or the bus driver, whatever, right? And then the third one, which I think is just really lovely, and who you’re grateful for who’s at the table? Who hasn’t been thanked yet? So think about it, right? You let your kids brag about their day. And you and your wife do it too. Right? Right. Here’s this is the best part of my day, who’s you set the stage, by the way, great management practice, you know, model the behavior you want to get. And then they’ll talk about who they’re grateful for it a friend or something. And then and then it was, and then everybody at the table gets thanked. Now. Here’s what’s really funny. He says when we first started it, I guess got data and stuff like this. Yeah. What did we like some kind of like petri dish for your next like management, you know, Guru Booker’s? Because, look, let’s just try it. Let’s just do it. And he said, they started to get into it and really appreciate it. She said, I knew we’d crossed the Rubicon when my daughter invited her friend to dinner. And I overheard her say, Okay, so at dinner, you got to answer three questions. Okay. That’s awesome. I’m good. Have good answers. Don’t embarrass me. Right? And that’s what he says we knew they had that traction. And he said, It just creates such a great spirit around our dinners and sharing. Isn’t that a great one?

Aydin Mirzaee (  27:27

It’s a great one. Yeah. Definitely beats the what did you do today? Or? Yeah, no, I agree. I especially like when on the last one, he said, Who are you grateful for at the table who hasn’t been thanked yet? Mommy doesn’t get all the things. So. Yeah, but also the what was the best part of your day? I feel like I also have to put a caveat there and say, you can’t say recess. Yeah, love you, whatever the whatever the answer is, but ya know, these are great practices. And I think now I really understand when you said that, if you find something at work that really works, take it home. I think now, I fully understand and hopefully everybody listening in can also emulate. I did want to also mention just on the topic of gratitude, because I know you have something coming out soon. So do I have a crack that you have your own gratitude journal that is coming out very soon, or is currently available?

Chester Elton  28:29

Yeah, it’s coming out just in time for American Thanksgiving. You know, I haven’t grown up in Canada. You know, Thanksgiving is in October we in Canada, for American listeners, and you and I both have dual citizenship. So this will resonate with us, is we separate Thanksgiving from Christmas, in the States is like, you know, the last guy in the Macy’s Day Parade is Santa Claus. You go from Thanksgiving, boom, it’s Christmas, right. And we just think it’s a great launch time. For Thanksgiving. It’s called the gratitude habit, 90 days to a more grateful life. So it’s so funny, because I’m a big journaler. I think that’s a big part of, you know, this is a great leadership discipline that I like to share. And that’s a reflection, the great leaders that we talked to all took time at the end of the day to reflect and they ask themselves, what did we set out to do? What happened? What did we learn? What are we going to take forward? It’s actually the four questions that the US military uses after every engagement, I’m sure the Canadian military as well. It’s the debrief, what did we set up to do? What happened? What did we learn? What are we going to take forward? Well, they do that pretty much on a daily and weekly basis. And the really good ones do it with their teams, and say, Okay, we had a great week. What did we set out to do? Or how did we do it? What what came up while the pandemic hit? Well, that’ll screw up your way, you know, and then what would we take forward? And reflection is writing it down. Now I’m old school I like to write in a physical journal. A lot of people keep digital journals, and I think those are great. And I would find these gratitude journals as well. So I was doing this little gratitude practice. isn’t the whole event when all sudden it hit me and I said to Adrian Gossett Mikasa Why don’t we have a journal like, we’re the apostles of appreciation, the, you know, the Guru’s of gratitude, the, you know, the Dalai Lama’s of workplace traumas, we shouldn’t have our own, you know, journal. And so I took all the best practices that have all these different journals. And I said, you know, sometimes a journal when you get it, you know, it’s a year. I think that’s daunting for people. So we looked at how long does it take you to develop a habit? Now? Do you remember, it went viral on the internet? If you did anything for 21 days, you can develop app? Do you remember that?

Aydin Mirzaee (  30:33

Yes. Yeah. There’s a lot of the power of habit and atomic habits and a bunch of great habit books. Yeah.

Chester Elton  30:40

Yeah. Well, the one you know, 21 days? Absolutely, by the way, positively? Not true.

Aydin Mirzaee (  30:46

Yeah, like it takes longer, isn’t it? Like 60? Something days? 65? Something like this?

Chester Elton  30:52

Yeah. Now, you know, the answer is always It depends, right? It depends what habit you’re trying to develop and who you are, right? Some people are really good at developing habits, and some not, the average is between 60 and 90 days. So we thought, well, let’s put together a three month journal 90 days, and we’re not gonna have dates at the top, we’ll just like this is day one, and you can put the date in? How do you start your day with gratitude? What are you looking forward to? What’s kind of your word or mantra for the day, I love that one. I read Jay Shetty, his book, Think like a monk. And he challenges you to develop your own Buddhist mantra. And so my mantra is, every morning I get up and say, Be kind, be grateful and be of service. So what’s your mantra? And then you end the day in gratitude? What were three things that were grateful for my wife and I, by the way, take it home, my wife and I, at the end of every day, we asked each other, what are your three, give me three things you’re grateful for such a great way to end the hate, you know, grateful that grandkids came over, you know, grateful I went to the hockey game and made better friends with the guys in the neighborhood. really grateful for the fact that we scored six goals and they only scored five. I mean, simple things, right? And then what we wanted to do is so many people would like to journal and yet don’t because why they don’t have time, right? They don’t, you can’t make the time everybody gets 24 hours, you find the time. And so on the right hand page, we said, look, just jot down some of the experiences that you wanted to remember, and who are some of the names of people that you want to remember, like at the dinner table, right? And it doesn’t have to be pros, it doesn’t have to be, you know, like Winston Churchill’s journals, right? Give me just bullet points. And then the reflection at the end of seven days and the reflection at the end of 30 days. Because I write I’ve probably got 40 journals that I’ve kept over the years, I rarely go back and read them. And I should write, I tell my, you know, my my friends say, Well, why do you write them? Do you think your kids your reader might go? Well, no, I don’t, I don’t know that anybody read them. I do tell my kids though. And this is another good practice thing. I do put money in my journals from time to time. So I think that maybe they’ll go back and just look for the money. And along the way, they’ll stumble across a story or something that their old man wrote, you know, 20 years ago. So I really appreciate you asking about that. Because again, it’s a daily ritual that’s routine. And if you miss a couple of days, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be 21 days in a row, 90 days in a row, miss a couple of days, don’t worry about it, pick it up and move on.

Aydin Mirzaee (  33:15

So I have to ask you, do you actually put money in your journals? Just say really? Oh, wow, that’s, that’s so interesting.

Chester Elton  33:22

Yeah, I’ll put a 20 in there. Or, you know, if I’ve traveled, you know, I’ll put a 10 pound note or a five pound note or, you know, tends to

Aydin Mirzaee (  33:29

journalists or like in old books, or do you have like, No, it just

Chester Elton  33:33

it might journals? Yeah. Randomly in pages? Yeah. There’s gold in them their pages? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that’s

Aydin Mirzaee (  33:40

great. Super interesting learning lots of lots of very tactical things here. We’ve talked a lot about gratitude, 14 books you’ve also written all in. And one of the things I wanted to make sure that we talked about because again, I you know, super highly relevant. This was the most recent of your publications, obviously, not withstanding the journal that is coming out, but it’s an anxiety at work. So this was a 2022 publication. And yeah, talk to us about anxiety at work. What was the what was your thought process in writing that book?

Chester Elton  34:16

Yeah, so glad you asked that, because if if you look at our books in our first book we published in 2000. It’s caustic and Elton Adrian cost congestion cost. And our goal was Lennon and McCartney. Didn’t didn’t quite get there, but it’s a it’s a worthy goal. The anxiety workbook is caustic and Elton and Gothic. So it’s Adrian Goseck Cestrum and Anthony caustic which is Adrian son now I’ve known Anthony since he’s six years old, and great kid classic millennial super smart. You know, he got his master’s degree at USC and genome mapping your DNA. It told me the names of the courses not only can I not Sam, I’ve got no shot at spelling them. Right. Super smart kid has been anxious For most of his life, who has something I kind of didn’t know, actually, you know, because whenever I see him, it’s you know, Uncle Chester, although I’m not actually his uncle, but you get the drift. And he, over the pandemic, our publisher called us, we just written leading with gratitude, and everything was shut down. And they said, Listen, what are you guys thinking about for your next book? Well, Anthony had come to us and said, you know, you wrote your book all and you’re all about culture, and then leaving with gratitude. Do you ever talk about mental health? And I’m the tail end of the baby boomers. Adrian’s that classic Gen X or, you know, we never talk about what are you kidding? You know, rub some dirt on it, get back in the game, you know, turn that frown upside down, I got an answer for you, you know, you’re anxious, cheer up. Or just calm down. One of my favorite quotes that we put in the book was never in the history of calming down. Has anybody ever calm down by being told to calm down? You know? And so he said, How can you have a healthy culture? How can you really be a great leader? If you’re not addressing what is one of the number one issues in the workplace right now? And that’s anxiety, and depression and mental health? And we said, okay, fine, we’ll take a look. A piece, Tony, we had time, right? The numbers are staggering. I mean, we were shocked that literally pre pandemic, about 18% of employees said they had anxiety disorders. Now, everybody gets anxious. But an anxiety disorders keeps me from doing my job, right, debilitating, in the middle of the pandemic, that jumped up to 32%, or I’m sorry, 30% in all employees 42% In workers in their 20s, that those are ridiculously high numbers? Well, you know, one of the issues that a lot of companies have is you find good people, you want to keep them. So we wanted to look at retention numbers. 50% of millennials and 75% of Gen Z are as we would say, in Canada, Gen Zed quit their jobs due to a mental health issue. So we said, Well, why like, why would you quit? Because 90% of employees don’t feel safe talking about? And why would you guess that people don’t feel safe talking about mental health? And I guess it

Aydin Mirzaee (  37:07

might be different for different people. But yeah, maybe. I mean, at some level, they probably feel that they won’t be positive for them. And in some way, they’ll be judged.

Chester Elton  37:18

Absolutely. There’s a huge stigma, about mental health, whatever, you can hack it. I told you this was a high pressure job, I told you that there would be days when you’d have to work 1012 hours. Now you’re telling me you can’t do that? What are you weak? Right? Particularly if you’ve got if you’ve got a baby boomer boss, count on it, right? Because that, you know, we grew up, you don’t talk about feelings, right? You don’t talk about mental health, right? They call it work for a reason, all the cliches, right? So it’s really interesting. But if I said to you, 42% of your workers in their 20s are showing up with broken legs, you know, I we got to fix that. So in the book, we teach managers and leaders to do three basic things, to make it not just psychologically safe. You know, a lot of work has been done on that, you know, my voice matters. I can speak up, which is great. How do you create an emotionally safe workplace, again, back to work in life? No Boundaries anymore, right? So you got to address the whole employee, not just the worker. So you say, Look, you got to do three things, you’ve got to you’ve got to normalize the conversation and say, Look, if you broke your leg, we’d say, you know, go to the doctor, get some physical therapy, come back when you’re ready. Right? Well, same thing with mental health. Say, look, you’re overwhelmed. Yeah, sure. Listen, take some time off every everybody needs to take a break from time to time, right? So you’ve normalized the conversation. And then that gets you to D stigmatize, you gotta say, look, and by the way, don’t worry about being judged. Or if I if I admit that I need a mental health day that I won’t get the promotion, I won’t get the raise, I won’t get the plum assignment. Right. So you’ve normalized it, you d stigmatize. And then the third one can be the toughest and yet the most important, and that is, you’ve got to learn as a leader, to empathize. Now, empathize is different than sympathy. Sympathy is a bummer, dude. I’m glad I’m not you. Right. Empathy as look. And I don’t know exactly what you’re going through. I’ve gone through things like that, I have felt like that. It’s okay. Now, the easiest way to make that happen, and not always easy to do is if you as the leader, share your story. A great friend of mine has a great online HR company called HR leaders, and he shares the story so I feel very comfortable at talking about Chris Rainey. He’s got this wonderful HR leaders podcast, and he was talking to this leader as a pharmaceutical company CHRO and they were talking about mental health. Well, Chris, his whole life at suffered with anxiety and impostor syndrome and all that stuff. never admitted anybody. Not his best friend from childhood who is his business partner, not his wife. He’s not his family, and he would make excuses. When he got really anxious. He’d say, you know, I’d really like to go to your wedding. It’s just I’ve got so much work. Or you know what, my stomach’s acting up and just not feel like I got to touch the flu. I’m gonna, I’m gonna stay home today. See, when when you hide it, and when you don’t address it makes you into a liar. You lie because you’re afraid, right? So he’s on this podcast now, in his company that he would do the podcast in the middle of the bullpen. And everybody would listening, when he got so engrossed in the conversation that he said, You know what, that’s me. I’ve suffered from anxiety my whole life, and I would make excuses and all of it. Well, then he realizes he’s in the middle of his company. And his wife listens to the podcast all the time. I went crap. My secret is out. And he said, he was terrified. Well, they wrap up the podcast, and he thought, I’m going to turn around, and my whole company’s going to be looking at me, I mean, not a big company, right? 10 people or so? He says, I turned around, and they came up to me, and every one of them said the same thing. And they said this. Thank you, Chris. Me, too. Me too. You think you’re the only one? I’m the only one that’s struggling? I’m the only one that’s good. You know what, I guarantee you. Everybody’s got something. And because he shared his story, he made it safe for everybody else. And he’s very now he’s very honest about it. You know what, I’m overwhelmed. I’m overwhelmed. I’m going to take a day off. So when somebody comes up and says, Chris, me, too, I’m overwhelmed. I’m going to take a day off. I want to tell you a cute story. It comes full circle. So after the pandemic, I spent some time with Chris in London, I had a speaking engagement in Windsor. And I gave my gratitude stuff. It talks about rituals and, and tokens. He said, You know what, Chester, there isn’t a day goes by where I get up, and I make sure I take three things with me to work, my wallet, my phone, and my gratitude stuff. Isn’t when it gets really tough. I take that stone and ideas go. Yeah, but you got a great wife. You got a great kid. You got a great people working for you. I know this is rough. We can get through this. He said I’m surprised actually, that it got so stressful one time, I’m surprised I didn’t snap in. My gratitude stuff. So again, share your story. normalize it destigmatize it, empathize. Share your story, make it safe. Boy, you want to talk about building trust. You want to talk about people who want to come to work and love who they work for. That’ll do anything. Make it psychologically and emotionally safe. At work, people will walk over hot coals for you and your customers.

Aydin Mirzaee (  42:34

He has so many different insights. Chester, we’ve talked about, you know everything from the first principles basis, like what gratitude can do gratitude in the home gratitude at work, taking great habits and taking them home. I love the three questions that now we have an outline of what you can do at home, what you do to review and gain feedback and what armed forces and many other organizations do in order to reflect the act of reflecting as a leader, so many different learnings today and so many great stories. The question that we always like to end on is for all the managers and leaders constantly looking to get better at their craft. Are there any final tips or tricks or words of wisdom that you would leave them with?

Chester Elton  43:18

Yeah, well, I’ll give you words you can decide if they’re wiser. I would really encourage you, you know, one of the leaders that I just love and adore is a guy named Scott O’Neill. He’s a leader in the sports industry. You know, he ran Madison Square Gardens in New York, and he was CEO of the Sixers and my beloved Dells, he said, be a student of leadership. And what he means by that is be curious, just feed your mind. Find good podcast, find good books, you know, I mentioned to you how you measure your life, Clayton Christensen, read it, and review it and go back to the good life. You know, by Robert waldinger, these are great books to feed your mind. Be curious, and be observant. And what’s the Oh, that was really good. What they did there, I’m gonna start doing that. And ask for input. You know, find a good coach, find a good mentor, find somebody that you can go to and say, Hey, I’m struggling with this with my team. Have you gone through this? Have you got any ideas? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Be curious. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. One of the biggest mistakes we make as leaders and I did this when I had to manage my first sales team. I felt like I had to be right 100% of the time. I’m the leader. I’ve got all the answers. Don’t know when he’s got all the answers. Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know. And don’t be afraid to ask for help are great. And then just in closing, and I know you love stories, and I’ve got one last one for you and is never forget that those are people. Right, and that they’re important and they’ve got a story. And you should know that story. Right? When we wrote a book on teams, and we got to interview the commander of the internet still space station. It was fascinating, right? Chris Hatfield, he’s Canadian. And so he was one of only three Canadians to actually go into space. He was the commander of the International Space Station to American astronauts, three Russian cosmonauts and him. And they were up there for three months, you know that, which is the drill, the most productive three months in the history of NASA. So being asked that they do the debrief, well, I got to meet him at a conference in Lethbridge. And I said, Hey, Chris, like, like in the debrief, like, what, what was different about your team? And he said, Look, Cheshire we trained for 12 years before we went up, can you imagine 12 years. And he said, in those 12 years, you gotta be super smart. Like he says, we’re all super smart. And we learn all the rules, and we learned what to do and how to do it. Because if you break the rules and space, people die, a little bit of pressure. He said, the difference on ours was that not only did we obey the rules, we knew each other stories. He went to train in Russia, he didn’t. He didn’t live on the NASA campus. He took public housing, he learned to speak fluent Russian. Can you imagine what that meant for the Russian cosmonauts? You know, the old joke, if you know more than two languages, you’re multilingual. If you know two languages, you’re bilingual. If you know one language, you’re probably American. So that gesture towards that he says we knew each other’s hobbies or interests or families. And so he says, But I’m convinced that the biggest difference was the one unwritten rule. And we all signed on to it. And you’re gonna love this. Every astronaut had to perform a random act of kindness for every other astronaut every day, every day, rituals, routines, right? And instead, it was never anything big. I’ll help you clean the equipment, I’ll help you with the calculations. Let me make dinner, whatever it was, we didn’t keep track. There wasn’t a little chart with little stars on it. Although I said, that would have been cool, Chris, because like you’re in space, little stars come up. And yes, that would have been stupid. Well, if I ever get to be the commander of the International Space Station, we’re gonna have a chart. But he said here was the the impact of that. He said, We never had a heated argument. No one ever lost their temper. Because when you perform little random acts of kindness for each other every day, the message is, you’re on my team, I care about you, I got your back. I’m cheering for you. And I love you. Who doesn’t want to be a part of a team like that? Right? I feel safe. I know that people around me care for me. And the way I know that is they do little things for me every day, in your relationships in your marriages and stuff. Don’t let a day go by that you don’t tell your kids and tell your spouse how much you love them. And I know it gets routine. Last quick story. You know, my wife and I were getting up the age. And we’ve got a deal. I’m we just celebrated 40 years of marriage, I’m wildly and madly in love with my wife. And I tell her I love her probably too much. She grew up in a more reserved kind of family. Anyway, one Saturday morning, didn’t have tennis didn’t have kids. I asked her. Honey, we’ve got to deal with that I die first because I can’t live without you. So that’s our deal. I die first, right? And I’ve been curious. They said, What are you going to miss most when I die? She says I’ve actually thought about this, really? So what is it, she said, and it was really a wonderful, tender moment. She said, I will miss all the times every day that you tell me that you love me and that you encourage me and support me and literally everything I do. I will miss that terribly. And I thought there’s not a better answer. There’s not a better answer. So lead with gratitude. You know, make sure people that are near and dear to you know that they that you love him and you care about him. It works at work. It works really good in your home life. And Aydin, I just want to say grateful for you. This has been such a great conversation. Thank you for the invite. I am grateful for your talent and for your podcast.

Aydin Mirzaee (  48:52

Thank you, Chester. This is jam packed full of more stories per minute than most of us had in previous episodes. So thank you so much for taking the time coming in with with energy and with passion and talking to us. Really appreciate it. And thank you for doing this.

Chester Elton  49:10

You bet. Hey, call me anytime. This is great fun.

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