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Scott Miller: Management Mess to Leadership Success

My guest is Scott Miller. He is the Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President of Thought Leadership at FranklinCovey.

This episode is a great one. We are talking about leadership. How do you go from being that rainmaker in your world, your business and whatever it is that you do to showing other people how to perform at that level the true test of leadership: lead yourself and lead others? We also talk about character and competence and why these are important to leading teams, leading your community, leading those around you and asking the tough question, “Are you living up to certain standards?”

The last thing I want to talk about here and give you a little preview of is we break down the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. This is incredibly powerful. You're going to want to hear this. It's a slight nuance. However, it is so profound and will make a difference in your world no matter what you're doing, whether it's managing your family life and yourself or if you have teams of others around you that are helping to share your vision to get the results that you're looking for.

Dustin
Scott, three weeks into your first leadership role, you were publicly demoted. What was the role and what happened? What's the story here?
Scott
I was about 26 years old. I had moved to Utah from a four-year career at the Disney Company. I joined a private company here, the Covey Leadership Center, which was Dr. Stephen Covey's small boutique consulting company. I was hired as a frontline salesperson selling our solutions to K-12 schools. Because I had shown some early promise here and I brought with me some talent from Disney around quality standards and performance, the then Vice President promoted me to become the leader of a group of about a half dozen clients service coordinators. They were all ladies, that's immaterial but they were, and my job was to continue selling but also manage their quality, instill in them a greater sense of productivity and quality and raise the standard and put some systems in.
I was in that job for a couple of weeks and I was relieved of that responsibility quite publicly mainly because I was a jerk. I was a workaholic single guy in his twenties that did not respect people. I was very efficient as opposed to being effective with people. I was asking people to work late at night. I asked one young lady who was going on her honeymoon, would she check her email and her voicemail, which I thought was quite normal and to her credit, she said no. I was mortified at her what appeared to be insubordination. Fortunately, the vice president had enough wisdom to relieve me from that very new role and it wasn't until about four years later did I get the chance to then lead people again probably to everybody's benefit.
Dustin
You work with a lot of companies and a lot of people in this genre of leadership. Do you often see that to be the case where here we have a young rainmaker and he or she gets promoted into that position, but maybe it's not necessarily the right time? Maybe they're great as a rainmaker and not necessarily somebody that wants to get into management. Do you see that on a great deal?
Scott
I see it pervasively. It is probably cancer in organizations where we value hierarchy and promotion. The only way in most companies to earn more money, earn a higher title or get promoted is to become a leader of people. What makes most star performers stars are rarely any of the attributes that make great leaders. There is fundamentally an organizational misalignment where we lure, not lead, great people into leadership of people roles. It often ends up not just destroying them, their reputation, their career and their self-confidence, but often destroy the people that are subject to their paradigm. The one thing we know to be true about leadership is when you move from being a high performing individual producer into a leadership role is you have to make some fundamental shifts in your paradigm about what got you here won't get you or them there. I think it's a slippery slope for too many well-intended people.
Dustin
You're pretty transparent. Owning up to that story is a big thing. In this world, there is this theme of transparency. It's more accepted than ever before but I'm curious in your view of life, can a leader be too transparent?
Scott
I think the answer is yes, you can be too transparent. I'll share with you my experience. Brené Brown, the famed author, speaker and social scientists popularized and legitimized this idea of vulnerability and transparency in the last half-decade. If you haven't read Brené Brown’s work, do that. I haven't seen it yet but I heard her hour-talk on Netflix as life-changing a few weeks ago. Vulnerability has been a very powerful tool that I have matured into. Someone about a decade ago said something to me that changed my life. She said to me the following, “If you think they don't know, they do.” I thought it was prophetic. Everybody knows your strengths, weaknesses, fears and what you're struggling with.
We spend so much time trying to hide behind a veneer we created for our life. Our public life versus our private life and those of us that can bring congruency and alignment with our public and private life are liberated to be more truthful and to be more vulnerable. At the same time, people that are nefarious, people that don't like you can weaponize your vulnerability and try to use it against you. It will always happen so expect it. I don't think I aligned myself with many people like that. I'll always trust versus be distrustful. You being vulnerable and transparent is not just in vogue. It is relatable. It's a great way to build trust with others. It makes you more approachable and more identifiable. It makes you a better coach of people.
I was preparing for an interview with the famed actress and producer, Viola Davis. I was reading an article on how she was raised in abject poverty and her amazing story to success. She said when she came to Hollywood, she was taught that she has to have a thick skin. I love that part because I've always prided myself on being thick-skinned. I'm not easily offended, which may or may not be true. In this interview, she said something profound. She said, “Thick skin doesn't let anything in and also doesn't let anything out. Having translucent transparent skin allows things to both come in and also come out.” Generally in life, using authentic vulnerability, not over disclosure and not always being in a confessional is great for having people to like and identify with you.
I'm an officer in a public company. There are many things that I know that if I were to share, I would be fired over or go to jail over. I've had to learn the fine line between what is shareable and what's not. Overall, I would always encourage people, especially leaders, to share your vulnerable aspects and your fears. I'm a stutterer. I have a quite pronounced stutter that my parents put braces on me twice and years of school speech therapy in pathology. I share that quite publicly. The number of people who come up to me after programs or speeches is amazing. I can't believe I shared that but if it helps one person share their fear and build confidence in others then mission accomplished.
Dustin
I want to rewind a bit in the sake of transparency and telling a great story and people getting to truly know you and then we'll get into the book. You mentioned Disney. My understanding is you were in Florida. That's my old stomping grounds. You went to Rollins and you started at Disney and you were doing real estate.
Scott
I was working for the Disney Development Company which is the real estate arm of the Walt Disney Company.
Dustin
What attracted you out of school to get into real estate? Is that in your family? What prompted you to go into development?
Scott
Nothing, it was purely accidental and serendipitous. I was working as a waiter in a restaurant during college. One of the customers took a liking to me and she had been hired at Disney to be a part of this new company called the Celebration Company, which was the developer of the very famous town called Celebration Florida, which was the ultimate manifestation of Walt Disney's original idea of Epcot. She asked me if I want to do an internship. I went to my public relations professor who actually runs the Coca-Cola sponsored American Pavilion at Epcot. He worked for-Coca Cola and he said, “Are you kidding? Of course, you want to take that internship.”
I took the internship and through my own savvy, turned it into a full-time job and career for four years. They happened to be a real estate developer and I got into the ground floor of this amazing community called Celebration and the rest is history. There was nothing deliberate about it, other than I was always good at what I call friending up. My friends were always people who are wiser, older, more educated, more traveled and more seasoned. I rarely had friends my age in my 20s and 30s even now. Most of my friends were in their 70s and 60s because I learn more from them. That was all quite serendipitous. Sometimes, the best things in life come that way.
Dustin
Friending up is a huge takeaway, who you surround yourself with. What do you look back now while you were there for four years? What did you take away from that experience, those four years there?
Scott
I think a focus on quality. Prior to Disney, I spent several years in the political world working on then George H. W. Bush's Presidential campaign, then two years with Vice President Bush and then Senator Quayle. I spent several years on US Senate campaigns and those campaigns were always focused on high-quality reputation. Back then what you saw on Dan Rather for eight seconds was what the public thought about you. I was heavily steeped in quality standards. Disney, of course, is the ultimate representation of quality.
Disney taught me a lot about getting it right the first time. Not being afraid to make investments early on and not being afraid to change your mind. Disney has several public and lots of non-public reversals of decisions. They were going to develop a theme park in Virginia, which was quite controversial, an Americana theme park. They got quite into it and they backed out because the politics and the respect for the cemeteries and graveyards were so big. I learned from Disney the importance of high quality and also not being afraid to admit you're wrong and changing your mind, which believe it or not, they do quite regularly. They do it early, fast and then they get out.
Dustin
Four years at Disney, you’re learning quality, you’re understanding this and then you got this opportunity at FranklinCovey. How did that go about? Was that friending up or did you see an ad?
Scott
It’s totally friending up. A senior leader at The Disney University, which is the educational unit of Disney, left Disney and came to work for Dr. Covey in Utah. She had taken a liking to me. She was 25 years my senior. A person at the Covey company met me at Disney in a meeting, his name was Chuck Farnsworth. He was 25 years my senior. They took a liking to me and saw something more in myself than I saw myself. They took a big risk and a big bet and move me to Utah, which was an amazing experience for a single Catholic boy from Orlando, moving to Provo, Utah. Talk about culture shock. I am the product of older and wiser people taking risks on me, making bets in me and extending trust to me.
I'm not sure I always deserved it and then having the courage to take me to the Woodshed and saying “What are you doing?” I have some great stories about the Woodshed and they were transformative to my career. I try to pass that on to people that are more junior to me. The wisdom of all that is when I was in my twenties and teens, I realized how I was going to grow and learn was from friending up. It wasn't meant to be opportunistic. They liked me. I would wash their cars or mow their lawns. I was never above helping them, but I began to earn the respect and trust of these very influential people who will have me over for dinner. I would come and learn, “How do you become a Vice President? How do you open a law firm? Should I be an entrepreneur? Should I go into real estate? Should I finish college?” I learned so much more from them than playing beer pong with my colleagues in college.
Dustin
It's unique that you're a leader in a company that teaches leadership and how to be a leader in other companies. When you started there, were you a little intimidated by that?
Scott
It’s daunting. I am the beneficiary of hundreds of wise, patient, smart and forgiving people across the entire FranklinCovey for many years. I've been on edge several times. I clawed my way back in. Fundamentally, people here respect my character, my work ethic, my ability to apologize and right wrongs. It's been very daunting. The standard here is high both on character and on competence. It's reminding every day, “Are you living up to the standard?” It's horrifying in some days and inspiring others. It’s been an amazing journey and I am a better husband, leader, parent and friend. I hope by degrees of measure by trying to adopt most of what we teach but it's never possible to live it all. You're always failing.
Dustin
I want to get into Management Mess to Leadership Success. First, we should define what leadership is. I'm curious as to what your view of the word leadership is.
Scott
There’s no definitive definition of leadership. There are thousands of books written about leadership and there will be thousands to come. My years here being an interviewer, which is my job now to the greatest leadership minds, it's a combination of character and competence. Character meaning treating people with respect, having high values, telling the truth, righting wrongs, delivering on your promises, not screwing people over, not spinning the facts, admitting your mistakes and generally leading a life of high ethics. You’re balanced with your competence, which is you’re doing the job you were hired to do, delivering results, whether it be client engagement or profit or cost of goods or managing your P&L or inventory turns, but you’re doing the job. Sometimes people can be high on character and low on competence. That doesn't work. Sometimes people are high in competence and low on character. That doesn't work. Some people are low on both but portrayed themselves as high on both and hoodwinked people into thinking they're great and they're not. For me, leadership boils down to do you have high character? Do you have high competence? You're always going to ebb and flow on some but constantly have that be your Jiminy Cricket and you will be a great leader.
Dustin
One of my follow-up questions, which seems a little weird now in the context, but I still want to ask it because I'm very curious about your opinion or your thoughts on this. I wrote down is leadership changing and what I meant by that is it’s like the Steve Jobs management style. I'm picking on him because he's vocal. He was known at times for this. It’s to rule by the iron fist and sometimes has to blow up on people and that gets the best out of them versus now there's this empathy and collaboration and transparency. My question for you is, is leadership evolving? Is it changing or are we getting better at it?
Scott
Yes to both. There’s a sea change happening, at least in organizations. The new generation of worker, whether it be Gen X or Gen Y or Gen Z, with the choices they have, their level of education and their level of opportunity. They're demanding more from their leaders. They're demanding respect, they're demanding balance, they're demanding environmental conscience and flexibility. I think there is a gravity that is demanding that leaders show higher character and be more considerate and more deliberate and be more vulnerable and transparent, expect more and give more. There is an odd perplexing incongruence. Not to get political, but it confounds me that our country is lifting up as the pinnacle of leadership, the President. Although I'm a lifelong Republican, I vehemently disagree that your personal life and your professional life are separate. Your character is your character.
How you treat people in your personal life, in your business life, your credit score and your personal life have absolute congruency with how you manage your company's P&L, whether you're the owner or you're a divisional leader. I do believe there is a higher expectation, especially with the #MeToo Movement and diversity, unconscious bias and inclusion. There is an extraordinarily higher level. I hope it's not going away and I don't think it is. Those leaders should be on the watch. I need that to be aspirational, not on paranoia that the next generation of workers is going to demand a higher level of character and competence out of all of their leaders. I hope that the citizens and voters of our country remain the same.
Dustin
I feel like we are thriving as a culture and as a society. I am spot on with your commentary there. You already mentioned there are many books on leadership. Why did you write this book? What is the story behind the story of writing Management Mess to Leadership Success?
Scott
FranklinCovey has authored and published 40 books on. We have fifteen to twenty legitimate New York Times, Wall Street Journal bestsellers. We don't need more books per se. We like to write books because we have points of view. As we've talked before, the world is awash in leadership books. A lot of them are clean, buttoned up and all tied up nicely in a bow. That hasn't been my experience. Many of them are written by academics. Our company has sold 40 million copies. We know something about writing and selling good books. My journey wasn't always the same as what I read in John Maxwell's, Ken Blanchard's or Tony Robbins’, these people that I adore. I've interviewed many of them and they're my heroes. My journey was more two steps forward, three steps back. I wanted to write a book that was authentic, real, approachable and relatable for people like me who aren't naturally good leaders. Too many people become leaders when they shouldn't have and that we should take leading people more seriously as a career choice, like we take becoming a pilot, a doctor, a plumber or a professor.
You don't fall into those jobs. You train for them and you deliberately decide to do that. Leadership can be very damaging to people. Like pilots can crash planes, leaders can crash people. You may not kill them physically, but you might kill them emotionally or kill their confidence. A lot of damage is done to people through poor leadership. I wanted to call that out. Not in a daunting way, but in a real way to say, “Get legit, should you be a leader? If the answer is yes, here are 30 challenges you're going to face.” I faced every one of them and I tripped, skinned my heel or broke my back on many of them. If I could call out these potholes that I fell into, it can allow you to steer around them. I can reach an audience in a little bit more of that edgier real voice. That isn't to discount any of the books that we've written. I am proud of this from my association with them. There is a group of people that are unfiltered, hesitant, fearful, accident-prone, the Gerald Fords of the world. He was known for always tripping up on things. I resonate with that and there's a large audience that does as well.
Dustin
You mentioned the challenges in the book. Will you explain a little bit of the challenges and why you decided to go this route? Did you want to be more interactive with the audience? What were you thinking?
Scott
FranklinCovey has been in business for 40 years. We've sold 40 million copies of our book. We have 30 different types of solutions to help organizations achieve the results and build their culture. Within those 30 solutions, there were hundreds of leadership life lessons, principles, disciplines, habits and practices. The CEO and I, Bob Whitman, along with our Chief People Officer, Todd Davis, and a group of about six or eight smart people got together and wrote up several hundred Post-it notes calling all of these best practices and challenges.
We narrowed it down to 30 from several hundred. We sequenced them and organized them. We named and renamed some of them and said, “Of all the things we could teach people, if they could cover them in a month because there are on average 30 days in a month, what would they be?” We picked these, there were a lot more, there was a lot left on the cutting room floor and that could be the second book. We organized these that we thought were valuable, actionable and relatable. I’ve identified with struggling with all of them. That's how they came to be. They're not the definitive 30, but there are certainly 30 that every leader has or will or is facing. I thought if I was to bring them to life in stories of where I succeeded or failed or others I've seen do both, it would help people tremendously.
Dustin
This process that you went through sounds pretty intense. What surprised you in writing the book or this process of doing the research or even releasing the book?
Scott
Writing a book is nothing like writing a blog for LinkedIn or writing a column for Inc. Magazine. It’s an art and a science. You have an editor, publisher and people you're accountable to. You can edit a LinkedIn blog, but once your book is published and it's out there on digital, print and audio, you own it for life. You need to make sure what you say is responsible, true and defendable. If you need to edit it later on that you're willing to own what you've said. It took a lot of hard work. Writing a book is not something haphazard. I spent hundreds of hours from 3:00 AM to 5:00 AM writing this book. I sacrificed a lot. I have three young boys and there were lots of Sundays where I was writing from 12:00 PM to 9:00 PM up in the loft, not playing tennis with them. It’s a sacrifice.
Writing a book is hard work. Each book is better than my first book. I hope my fifth book is much better than this. It’s a bit of a cathartic and I kept thinking, “I think this will be helpful.” I would send it out to twenty friends to have them review it and they will come back with eviscerating reviews. One person’s thought was, “It horrifying and you have to take that out.” Five more would say, “That is the best line in the book.” I had to make a lot of judgment on what represented our company's brand well, what represented my brand well and what I think would help people. There were a lot of judgment calls I had to make.
Dustin
A book on leadership could be for Fortune 500. It could be for entrepreneurs. I imagine your audience is greater than just the business community. Who did you write the book for? Who did you have in mind?
Scott
I wrote the book for anybody at any level which is a leader of people. Will CEOs of Fortune 50 companies benefit from this book? Yes, because you becoming the CEO of a multimillion dollar company does not mean you don't make mistakes with people. Here's a good example. Challenge 21, allow others to be smart. That is a tough thing for a lot of CEOs to do. I learned that concept from Liz Wiseman who wrote the famed leadership book, Multipliers. Are you a genius or are you a genius maker? Whether you are an entrepreneur, whether you are a single woman at home blogging, whether you are a mid-level leader, we find ourselves with skewed paradigms of others. The bit of hubris and arrogance in that our job as leaders is to communicate our vision, translate vision into action through behaviors, deliver results, help our clients bring value to everyone, respect people, improve and admit our mistakes. This book sounds cliche-ish but it's a book for anyone who is or will lead people. It will make you a better leader by entertaining you along the way.
Dustin
I want to come back to the challenges that you mentioned. You have challenges in the book for people to go through and to test on themselves. How does one apply these challenges in their everyday world?
Scott
These are not genius. I did not write anything in here that was original to me except for my stories. All of these challenges are simple but to quote Dr. Covey, “To know and not to do is not to know," and that's profound. These challenges are very applicable. For example, Challenge 3, listen first. Listening is this massively underrated leadership competency. By the time you become a leader, you have been extensively trained on how to communicate and articulate. You have PowerPoint presentations and repeat your message again. You're in convincing mode and persuasion mode. Everybody has had days and weeks of communication training. How many of us have had a single hour of listening training? Great leaders are great listeners and by very nature, it's counter-intuitive.
You're hired to fix it, solve it, answer it and resolve it. It's hard to do when you're listening. When was the last time you followed someone because they were a great listener? You follow them because they were charismatic and a great communicator. They were persuasive, charismatic. I teach these skills that Dr. Covey teach around great listening techniques. Being a great listener requires you to be very selfless, invest in another person, be quiet and be comfortable with silence, stop interrupting. Things that are counter-intuitive to otherwise great communicators. They're all pretty intuitive. I take each one a little bit deeper than perhaps the common leader maybe thinking about. They're quite pragmatic.
Dustin
You've inspired this in me back to when you were 26 years old and you got that promotion and back to when I was younger and in a leadership position. I'm almost hesitant to say it but it feels like great leaders generally come with age. When you're younger in life, you want to prove it. You haven’t had enough life lessons. Is that fair to say? Do you have examples of people that are younger and grasp these leadership concepts early on or is it generally those that grow older with age?
Scott
It’s a superb insight. There’s a difference between being smart and being wise. I’ve learned that a lot of smart people aren’t wise but most wise people are smart. Wisdom comes through age and years in the saddle. It isn’t to mean that young people can’t be wise, don't take that away. I have failed my way to success. There are lot of things that entrepreneurs can appreciate and understand. Rarely will you meet these people that are younger who are great with people. Usually because they had great parents. They taught them these principles of how to be effective with people. I had great parents but for whatever reason, I didn't listen very well early on. I probably did not become a very competent leader of people until my 40s, which means I wrecked a lot of people in my 30s. I'm not afraid to admit that and I'm not afraid to apologize for it. I had some successes because I wasn't a horrible wreck, but I had a lot of messes.
I do think that the younger generation is generally a wiser generation. One thing that they're going to learn the hard way is the value of face-to-face communication and connecting with people because they are unwilling victims of their technology. They don't know a world without it. There are many positives that come with that. Nothing replaces sitting down in front of someone two feet from each other and having a live human connection conversation. The younger generation which was going to transform our world in all kinds of positive ways hopefully will learn from this book and others that relationships with people are everything. There is no family, legacy, churches, foundations, institutions or trust without strong relationships with people. That comes from learning the difference between the efficiency and effectiveness with people, something I to this day still struggles with.
Dustin
Will you break that down in terms of your understanding of that so people can benefit?
Scott
Dr. Covey, to quote him again because he's a very wise person who's passed now, “You are efficient with things, processes, systems and your time. You are effective with relationships.” I have always struggled because I'm fairly fast. I like to check things off, get things done and move onto the next. I tend to live in the future, which is maybe good and bad. It’s probably my biggest weakness in life. I tend to treat people like I treat mowing the lawn. Get it done and get it fast. Good enough is great enough. That's not how you treat people if you want to build a legacy and build influence. I'm constantly having to slow down, listen, not interrupt, be patient, be in the moment and be a friend. That takes a level of selflessness that isn't natural me. The biggest legacy Dr. Covey has left on me is this rubber band snap on my wrist, “Am I being efficient or am I being effective with those around me?” The true leaders that transform organizations know when to be efficient and when to be effective. That's probably a principle in life that is not unique to Dr. Covey, but it probably transfers across generations, religions and cultures. I value it, I'm horrible at it and I struggle with it every day.
Dustin
I appreciate the clarity and you owning it. It's incredibly powerful. I side with you in terms of where my strengths and weaknesses are. I love relationships, however I love checking things off the list a lot. Slowing down, being patient, being present, that is huge. I want to ask you about your radio career and your podcast career, specifically the takeaway. You've got the On Leadership With Scott Miller Podcast and the weekly radio program, Great Life, Great Career. When you first got started or when you took those on, what were some of the things going through your head? What have you learned? What has benefited you greatly from taking these on?
Scott
I’m not afraid to jump into things that I’m not great at. There’s probably wisdom and insanity in that admission. I like to disrupt myself. I've never interviewed somebody. I’ve never been on camera. I sure have never been in a radio studio. I tend to plunge into things and I'm not afraid. As I said, I change my mind. There's some wisdom and sometimes a disappointment leads into an appointment. I'm okay when things don't work out. I don't like to leave carnage or break promises. I'm pretty good at steering things into other things or saying, “This radio program might turn into a TV reality series. That's interesting. Or this podcast might turn into a book.” I'm pretty good about starting in one thing and doubling down on it. If I see it starting to falter, morphing it into something else or just bailing altogether, but with an agreement and not owning the expectations. What I have learned is I'm not very good at both. I have to slow down and articulate and not over annunciate.
For some reason when the camera goes live, I get pretty stiff and pretty formal. I like to tell it as I see it. That doesn't always work well in a conservative brand like FranklinCovey. I have to balance what is our brand with who I am as a person and make those congruent and not incongruent. What I have learned most is the vast wisdom from listening to these amazing authors like Seth Godin, our generation’s finest marketing mind. Dan Pink, the social scientist, Doris Kearns Goodwin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and General Stanley McChrystal. I interviewed Guy Kawasaki, the former evangelist from Apple. I interviewed Kim Scott who worked at Google and Apple. There were amazing stories from Sheryl Sandberg, Tim Cook and Steve Jobs with the book, Radical Candor.
I'm humbled and overwhelmed at the wisdom, the genius, the lessons, the mistakes that all these people have been willing to share in their own humble interviews, just how generous they are. I interviewed Stephanie McMahon who is the Chief Brand Officer for WWE. She’s the daughter of Ed McMahon. She's a very famous diva on WWE. She’s more gracious off air than even on air. Her preparation, she was on time, she was Skyping into her iPad and it wasn't working. She went and got her own tablet. She was mindful of wanting to make it a good program sincerely, not just for how she worked and how she looked, but for our brand and for our listeners. I've been inspired and impressed at how all of these super celebrities, academics and authors have been gracious, emailing me afterwards, thanking me for the interview and willing to promote my book.
That's been a refreshing insight and you thought some of them might be divas, but not a single one of them is. Seth Godin is the most humble person and the most generous person I have ever met. The guy makes an insane amount of money every day. He was on CBS This Morning. The guy will take my email just like my team member. Fame and success for a lot of people have humbled them, not grow them to arrogance. Although I don't have any famous success, as I gained some influence, I'm reminded around staying humble and appreciative for everyone who's helped me along my journey.
Dustin
I definitely can relate. We’ve had amazing guests on the show and I’ve had that great experience as well so spot on with that. I want to move us into what I call WealthFit round, which is essentially a fancy name for rapid fire questions. In the last few years, what have you become better in saying no to?
Scott
Nothing. I am perpetually overcommitted. I say no way too much. As opportunity becomes bigger and better, I shouldn't be saying no. I tell you one thing I say no to. I stop loaning people money for some reason. I have been subject of dozens of friends asking to borrow money. Only one of them has ever paid me back. I find that loaning people money ends the friendship. There's some biblical wisdom around not loaning or borrowing money. I have been a borrower as well too. I probably sound hypocrite, but I try not to loan for money because it often destroys friendships.
Dustin
Aside from money, the non-loaning to people, when opportunities come along and you have to say no, what is your advice there?
Scott
If you're saying no, you’re saying yes to something greater. I have a column in Inc. Magazine. I host these two podcasts. I'm working on this television pilot. I'm writing three books. I have a 60-hour week corporate executive job. I'm doing most of it at a B to B-minus level. If I shed some things off, some of them will naturally move to an A. I might advise people, what are your A's that can become a plus if you said no to some B's and C's. It's easier said than done and I'm a bad example of it, but I should evangelize better. Think about what could be an A, you'll have less heartache saying no to your B’s.
Dustin
I find that fear and self-doubt often stop people from achieving their goals. When you experience these things, what do you do to get yourself back on track?
Scott
I'm an odd duck and I have a lot of fear and self-doubt. I have a lot of people criticizing me. Every day someone's commenting on my glasses, my hair or I talk too fast. I don't believe or read any of my press, which I have some. There is great power in disrupting yourself and reinventing yourself. I’m going to ask people, “Are your fears rational?” What's the worst that can happen? Someone criticizes you online. Who cares? There are seven and a half billion people out there. You'll find someone else who likes you, respects you or thinks you're smart.
I'd remind people, “Don't exaggerate your fears. If you have irrational fears, see a therapist and work through them. I interviewed a therapist in my radio program, he was insanely wise. Most of our fears are irrational. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. Take criticism as validation, which I do. When someone writes something about me, I think, “You suffered through 40 minutes of that podcast to tell me you hated my hair? Welcome back to the next episode.” I don't think there was arrogance in what I said there. You’ve got to contrive some confidence to build competence and I'm okay with that. I don't know if I believe the fake it until you make it, but I think I'm living it.
Dustin
You mentioned three books, you mentioned a pilot you're working on and many different other things that you mentioned. I'm curious, do you have any special routines or rituals that you do to make yourself productive or get in a state?
Scott
I'm Catholic, of course I had rituals and routines. That's the most ritualistic upbringing. I do and they're not life affirming or life controlling. I'm an early riser. I got to bed early so I get up around 4:00 to 4:30. I sleep at around 9:30 or 10:00. I need seven hours of sleep every night. I'm not ashamed of that. There’s some shaming going on around executives who sleep three hours a night. Welcome to your early stroke, no thank you. I don't overindulge in a lot of caffeine, tobacco or drugs. I don't use drugs. I never have and I never will. I’m pretty disciplined around my brand and my work ethic, not overly so. My parents instilled a great work ethic in me. I probably should play more and work less. I'm fairly routine. I did things in moderation. I have learned from the people who write great books, they don't write them in the cracks and crevices of the day. They say no to speeches and no to engagements. They leave money on the table. They go and they disciplined themselves and write, think, interview and listen. I'm learning that the hard way. I have to learn to say no to the good in order to say yes to make something great.
Dustin
I would like to know your defining moment. What I mean by that is looking back over your life and over your career, the pivots that you made. Knowing that if you’d made a different decision, your life would be completely different. What’s that moment for you?
Scott
Probably it was my marriage. I wasn't married until I was 41. I was single for the first half of my life. My wife is much younger than I am. I wouldn't say it was the best day of my life. I tell her that it was a great day, but getting married in my 40s provided me with a level of self-awareness, perspective and insight on things that I was doing that I thought were normal that wasn't normal. The worst hour in my life is the drive home from a dinner party and my wife says, “Why didn't you say that? What did you do that for? That was dumb.” It doesn't mean people have to get married to have self-awareness, but my wife, Stephanie, has brought a level of maturity, responsibility and accountability to my life that I think I would never have had.
My career has blossomed even more because she's made me more accountable for my actions than I was as a single person. I see it in people who are single in their 40s and 50s. I'm not shaming anyone. You can have a great life and be single. If you're not married, if you don't have significant other, having that person in your life who will tell you the truth about what you're wearing, how you smell, how you work, what you say and what you do. As we become more inculcated in our own lives, the less self-aware we are and the less feedback we get, that's not good. That is bad. Have someone in your life who will be your truth teller to you.
Dustin
Scott, thank you big time for sharing that and everything that you share. For people that want to continue this conversation, that want to turn their mess into leadership success, how can they hear about your podcasts, check out the book and keep up to where you’re up to nowadays?
Scott
They can follow me on LinkedIn. I'd love to have a LinkedIn connection with you. I post all the podcasts and our iHeart radio program there. I'm also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, but mainly my LinkedIn page. You also can visit the book at ManagementMess.com. If you go to Scott Miller or FranklinCovey or Management Mess to Leadership Success, there's a website. The book is available for pre-order on Amazon and all the famous site. It's available in bookstores.
Dustin
Thank you big time for being on the show and doing what you do in the world and helping us become better leaders. I appreciate you sharing your wisdom and your message.
Scott
I’m honored to be included. Thank you for your time.

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