#BeBetter Podcast with Michael Kurland

Your Managers Are the Messengers of Your Culture

How managers can deliver a positive micro-culture in your team.

David Deacon is the Founder of The Talent Office and author of The Self-Determined Manager. David has a passion for cultivating great managers who thrive on developing teams that are accountable, driven, and loyal to their organization’s culture and business goals. David speaks about the importance of managers fully understanding the power and the opportunity behind their roles.

Portrait of David Deacon

“If you don’t talk about the culture, you don’t make it live.”

—David Deacon

The Talent Office

20. Your Managers Are the Messengers of Your Culture

Key Takeaways

  • Your culture is your best differentiator.
  • The climate your managers create must be consistent with the broader culture for your company.
  • Great managers can create great cultures.

Social Links


David Deacon is the founder of the talent management consultancy, The Talent Office, the author of The Self Determined Manager, and the founder of The Self Determined Training Company.

As a thought-leader in the fields of learning and development, talent management, and leadership development, he has influenced leaders and teams around the world, resulting in better-managed companies. Recognized by the Best Practice Institute as a “Best Organizational Practitioner” in 2014, he continues to drive impact through leading world-class talent management approaches in the companies.

David’s HR leadership career has spanned a spectrum of learning and development, talent management, and HR Business Partner roles in a range of reputable companies, including MasterCard, Credit Suisse, Deloitte, Capita, British Gas, and Paribas. He has lived and worked in the UK, the US, and Asia.

“What will differentiate you as an expert is not what you know, it’s how much it matters to you.”

—David Deacon

The Talent Office

Podcast Transcription

Hello, I’m Michael Kurland, CEO and Co-Founder of Branded Group. Welcome to the #BeBetter Podcast. To me, our company’s mantra to “Be Better” is more than a tagline; it’s a culture that permeates our organization, propelling our team to Be Better to each other, our customers and our communities as well as to ourselves. Each week on the #BeBetter podcast, I interview leaders who authentically exemplify how they are being better in their professional and personal lives.

Today’s podcast is dedicated to Keep America Beautiful. Formed in 1953 by a group of corporate and civic leaders in New York City, Keep America Beautiful sought to bring the public and private sectors together to develop and promote a national cleanliness ethic. Learn more about Keep America Beautiful at https://kab.org/.

Michael Kurland (00:00):

Welcome to another episode of the BeBetter podcast. I’m your host, Michael Kurland. Today, we have our first international guest, Mr. David Deacon, Founder of the Talent Office, joining us from the UK.  David. So happy you’re here. Why don’t you tell the audience a little bit more about yourself and what you do?

David Deacon (00:26):

Thank you, Michael. I’m so happy and delighted to be your first international guest. That’s cool. So thanks for inviting me. I’m David Deacon. I’m the founder of The Talent Office. The Talent Office is a consulting firm that works solely in talent management and leadership development and culture development and employee experience and career development and all those kinds of talent, HR things. We also do management training, which is because I wrote the book. So obviously I have to plug the book. I will try to plug the book a couple of times with your gracious permission. The book is the Self Determined Manager which is my attempt to get managers to understand better the power and the opportunity behind their roles. So it’s not about delegation and difficult conversations and the usual stuff that we talk to managers about. It’s about attitude and approach and what great managers actually do. I’m trying to change the world of how management gets done and change how talent management gets done along the way too.

Michael Kurland (01:48):

That’s great. From our point of view or my point of view, you get into these middle management roles and it’s to your point robotic. It’s okay. You need to learn how to have this hard conversation, learn how to manage these people. That’s the operational side of it, but there’s so much more to being a manager. There’s the emotional side and the emotional intelligence. I’m assuming that’s where you’re going with what you’re saying, right? It’s not just do task A, B and C, and you’ll be good at your job. It’s you have to do all of the job requirements, but you also have to learn how to read people and what works with person A isn’t going to work with person B. Is that fair to say?

David Deacon (02:37):

That’s exactly right. I’m sure we’ll talk about it as we talk about culture, because the thing with managers is what a manager does is to create a climate for the team of people that work for them. That’s automatic. It’s built into being a manager because we look to our manager for the signals about what matters and how to behave and how things are going and what the priorities are.  So a manager creates a sort of microclimate and this happens because if you’re a boss and you’re in a bad mood and you go into the office back in the days when we were able to go into offices, you went into the office and you snarled because something had happened. Or if you didn’t have your favorite coffee at Starbucks or whatever it was, you’re in a bad mood.

David Deacon (03:27):

So your first thing is you snarl and everyone is then for the rest of the day, careful. They tip toe around you and they feel that the mood is muted, and everyone’s a little bit cautious and no one tells jokes. Your mood has set the tone for the team. That happens all the time. Because that happens, the best managers recognize this and they deliberately and intentionally choose the environment that they create for their team. In that simple act lies much of being a great manager and poor managers are sort of accidental and not thoughtful enough about the micro climate that they create for their team.

Michael Kurland (04:18):

I’m thinking more middle-management right? Because that’s really the bread and butter. That’s when you work so hard to get to this middle management position, and then you’re there and you got there because you were so good at doing the function of your job because you weren’t managing people. You were functionally working through your job and then you get there and now you have to manage people. Now you come in and you had a bad day, or your co cohort, other middle manager dumped some extra work on you. Now who are you venting to? Well, you’re venting to the people that were your cohorts when you were doing the functional part of your job.

Michael Kurland (05:08):

Now you’re managing these people and that sets a tone. And that’s something that we have a slight problem with. It’s just once you get in there and no one tells that you have to compartmentalize your emotions down to your people, right? Because you set the tone for the day as you just said. Anyway, this is all fascinating and a great conversation. So we’re off to a good start. I like it. Let’s talk a little bit about that company culture because you kept saying climate and I think culture and climate are pretty much synonymous or at least hand in hand. So why do you think a solid company culture is so important?

David Deacon (05:48):

There’s three thoughts. So three thoughts occur to me, Michael. Differentiation really matters at the moment because information is just everywhere, right? It’s everything that you want to know about what a company does and how it does it and what its history was and what his style is. All those things. If the information is everywhere, there’s massive transparency. There’s no mystery anymore to your company in terms of what it does. Actually anything that you do that isn’t very positive tends to be out there and out there fast..

Michael Kurland (06:39):

My fiancé used to work for a local news channel in college. She thought she wanted to be a journalist. She would have been a great one. She always tells me their motto in the newsroom is if it bleeds, it leads and it’s like bad news. Everyone wants to hear the bad news to your point.

David Deacon (07:03):

That’s exactly right. Because of that, how are you going to differentiate your company? The answer is style, right? It’s what makes you attractive. It’s how you operate. It’s the priorities that you have. It’s the way that you and your people show up. That’s the differentiator because all other forms of mystery and specialness have been torpedoed by transparency and that’s probably a good thing.

Michael Kurland (07:33):

It’s a great thing because I can remember my first couple of jobs back in 2002 and you walked in the place and it looks like a good place. It has this little website that back in 2002 wasn’t much of anything. Nobody talked about culture. Like what’s that? That’s like, Oh, Google has that. They have bean bag chairs and ping pong tables. But 20 years later, now, to your point, it’s all transparent. You’re walking in and we have a huge part of our website just dedicated to our culture because we need people to know what they’re walking into when they come in and what they want to sign up for.  It’s a good thing to your point. Transparency.

David Deacon (08:15):

I think it is. It signals what’s important. So your employees know what’s important and you always know when you’re dealing with someone who works in a strong, positive culture, because you can have a strong negative culture as well.  But if someone’s working in strong, positive culture, two things happen. One, your interaction with them is pretty consistent with your interaction with anyone else from the same company. Secondly, it’s consistently positive. So because they have that kind of certainty around them of what’s important, they operate with that confidence that means they show up as you want them to.  If you’re a founder, you’ve created something. You need people to do that. What you need people to understand is how to behave when you’re not there because you’re not there.

Michael Kurland (09:11):

Yes, when the cat’s away, the mice will play. But to your point, when we’re going through a hiring process at this point, it’s a big thing we talk about and we volunteer hours. We give back and that’s not for everybody and there’s nothing wrong with it. If you don’t want to volunteer and you don’t want to give back, but that’s part of our culture. I don’t want to say it’s expected, but there’s going to be opportunities left and right for you to do that at Branded Group. So if that’s not something you’re interested in, maybe this isn’t the best place for you and that’s okay, but to your point, right, were putting out there what our expectations are for our culture. It’s a positive culture too, thankfully not a negative one. Maybe someone’s just not happy and doesn’t want to do these positive things. So the culture is not for them. I like what you’re saying.

David Deacon (10:15):

Which leads to the third thing, which is that once people join your strong culture, it resonates with them and create stickiness. So they’re much more likely to be loyal. They’re much less likely to take a job for a little bit more. Everyone, most people will take a job for a lot more, but it just creates that kind of that retention, stickiness that people like it. But I like it here. I want to stay. I once wrote an engagement survey, two questions, engagement survey with a brilliant Susan Ross when we were both at MasterCard and the two questions were one, “Do I like it here?” and two, “Do I plan to stay?” because ultimately that’s all employers or employees really want to know about. Am I happy? Am I staying?

Michael Kurland (11:11):

That’s so simple, but brilliant. I might steal that.

David Deacon (11:17):

I’ll take that simplistic. Brilliant, absolutely going to put that on my resume.

Michael Kurland (11:23):

So we’re talking about the retention rate here and that’s something that we highly focus on and it’s a two way street, right? Because for us, our clients like it when our employees stick around, because learning our client’s needs and wants on more than just a functional basis is very important. But, to your point, we’ve had employees stay when they’ve been offered higher paying jobs because they like it here. I think it’s almost a FOMO thing. Oh, I don’t want to leave here because I love it here. Even though it’s a couple thousand dollars less a year, I’m going to stick it out because I love it. We have a high rate of millennials working for us. It’s that purpose that we give them. Branded Group is huge on giving back.

Michael Kurland (12:13):

We have a One for One program that we’re redesigning currently. That’s one minute of service for every work order completed, which is going to change in 2021 because we can’t afford to give out that much service anymore. We’re going to have to hire people full-time to do community service. So they say the purpose that they have of being here is worth more than the higher pay or going somewhere else. Leading into the next question, how can companies develop a company culture and what have you done to help companies develop company culture?

David Deacon (12:56):

I want to talk about MasterCard because I mentioned that Susan Ross and MasterCard. I was the Chief Talent Officer there for five years, 2012 through 2017. It was a real period of transformation in that organization. The relevance really is that what Ajaypal Singh Banga, the CEO was driving two things at once. He was driving a transformative business strategy and in parallel as far as he was concerned, no less important, a culture transformation in order to support the business strategy. What he recognized was what we were doing as a company, which was essentially growing fast when we hadn’t been growing at all, going after emerging markets and developing markets, when we’ve only really been playing in the developed markets. Going outside the U S into every corner of the world, rather than being really US centric and a little bit of Europe. Being ambitious and inventive and creative and going for stuff where it was before the company had been a not-for-profit and therefore been sort of a lot more risk averse.

David Deacon (14:24):

So he was transforming the business and transforming the culture at once. The two things worked together because they made sense. There’s huge opportunity in front of MasterCard driven by ubiquitous digital technology and everyone has a cell phone. Everyone. They might have not have anything else, but they had a cell phone. So if everyone has a cell phone, you have a unit of transmission for electronic payments. You no longer need a telephone line and reliable source of electricity. You don’t need a way of mailing a card to a recipient who may not have a fixed address. You just need your two actors to have a cell phone each. So this opened up electronic payments and MasterCard obviously was the first to see this. Ajay recognized that that was a huge opportunity. That was what he was going after.

David Deacon (15:23):

So that was the business strategy, but the culture, which was based on being this not-for-profit bank-owned association wasn’t going to support the strategy. You can have a great strategy, but if the people didn’t change their approach, didn’t get ambitious and growth oriented international and all these things wasn’t going to happen. So for him, there were two sides of the same coin and that was really important because it meant everyone understood. A bit like you’re describing in your company. Everyone understood it really mattered. It wasn’t something that HR was saying. It wasn’t something that had been delegated to one member of the ex-co, to get some posters put up. This was Ajay’s mission, business strategy, culture, transformation. This was his mission. He then he supported that in all kinds of ways because he’s a brilliant, brilliant communicator.

David Deacon (16:22):

One of things he did really well was he picked up little phrases and it’s funny because I can still remember them. So for example, sense of urgency. He would talk over and over and over again about the importance of a sense of urgency, not just for him or his ex-co or the other top 50, but everyone in the company. So every town hall he did, every communication he did, he talked about sense of urgency. You did the same. This war on cash. He talked about the war on cash, which was his signal that we were going after, not the developed payment markets, but every other market where 85% of the transactions were still in cash. That was what we were going after. It was a war. This wasn’t an approach on it.

David Deacon (17:18):

It wasn’t a move towards, it was no, go after. It was war. So he used that language and repetition and the fact that we all hung on his every word as we all do with our CEOs. He used that as the reinforcement. So he was really clear that it mattered. That it was about the business and then he reinforced it and then we went after it. So we did leadership development we do a lot of stuff on what you have to show up. If you’re a manager or leader with lots and lots of communications, not some symbolic things, how the office is set up is very symbolic.

David Deacon (18:08):

We were becoming a digital technology company. So we created the office environment like a digital technology company. We looked more like Apple than Apple did. It was to send the message that says this is how things are around here. So, if we had more time, we’d probably get into it more. It’s a really good case study of how to develop a culture by demonstrating its importance and then reinforcing it all the way from what the CEO says to how you decorate your office and every space in between.

Michael Kurland (18:47):

Sounds like it’s more. way more than words on a wall. I think the biggest thing that I have done as the CEO of Branded Group is walk the walk. When we are out there and I’m saying volunteer, I’m not at every volunteer event, but I’m at a majority of the volunteer events. I’m certainly at the big volunteer events, the company-wide ones. If there’s some people getting together to do something, I may not be there if it’s not scheduled with the whole company, but I’m at every beach cleaning. I’m at every food pantry drive. If I’m not there, then it becomes lost. Like, Oh, he’s just says it, but he’s never here. So you’ve got to walk the walk. I’m a firm believer in that and it sounds like that’s exactly what Ajay did. But the other thing that you got me inspired about, it sounds like he’s rallying an army of troops on the war on cash. Then everyone had their battalions and knew what they needed to do to win this war on cash. So I think that’s amazing.

David Deacon (19:55):

It was absolutely brilliant. It was inspirational. He’s such a smart individual. He was so smart. Very, very cool. So I tell you what though, it’s funny, you said about them about showing up at the events. The irony is you could show up at nine events and everyone will be delighted to see you. If you missed the 10th event, everyone would say he doesn’t care, but it’s your involvement, every, every leader.

Michael Kurland (20:36):

It’s just, like you said, you’ve changed the office to make yourself look like a digital company. That was for the optics, for people to start believing, Hey, we’re a digital company. We’re no longer a nonprofit bank where we’re a digital. We’re on the forefront. So that’s what they got to see.  We’ve touched on this question. This is the next one. What advice would you give to other organizations about developing a strong culture? I think we’re doing a good job of talking about that.

David Deacon (21:09):

We are, but I would add one thing and funnily enough, actually I did this with my most recent client, which was a medium-sized technology recruitment firm. We created a culture deck, which sounds awful when I say it like that. So Netflix did this. Very famously. Netflix created a culture deck and they did it because they were scared that as they scaled, they knew they were going to scale fast. They were scared of the things that really mattered about their culture and leadership style, a way of working, which is really what this is all about. That that will get lost. That the influence the founders have would just get dissipated and it would no longer be recognizable as to how they built it and what they wanted to create. It would become a different thing. So they started capturing the words and phrases and instructions and exhortations and informal rules that said, this is how stuff gets done around here. It ended up being famously at least 40 slides. Each one just with a phrase, so not corporate PowerPoint, but funnily enough, PowerPoint.

Michael Kurland (22:41):

Like the anti-culture culture.

David Deacon (22:44):

Exactly right. That’s exactly right. The beauty, the importance and the power, it was their words. It was their words. So if they’ve been in front of you, you would have heard them using the words that ended up in the deck. So we did that. We didn’t do 50. We ended up with 20 slides at the client I was referring to. It was a combination of things that really mattered to them because they’re very strong sense of family, very strong and they really wanted to maintain that. So we captured a bunch of these comments, the importance of family. But they also needed to grow because there’s this huge market opportunity, despite COVID. They absolutely needed to grow. This family thing is being nice to each other, it’s looking after each other, arms around each other, wasn’t actually helping them to be ambitious enough and aggressive enough and pushy enough and hold each other to high enough standards.

David Deacon (23:49):

So they’re missing the opportunity. So we needed to both describe what was really important still, but also be somewhat aspirational. We also need you to do these things. So we ended up with this amalgamation of what’s important and what we need, and but again, their language, not HR speak. This was not vision, mission stuff. This is what you’d hear people saying to each other and then we used it everywhere. We used it in onboarding. We used it in hiring. We used it in briefings, in town halls, in leadership development in every possible way. We talked about these things because if you don’t talk about the culture and it sounds like you’re doing a great job of this, but most companies don’t talk about it and they don’t make it live. As a result, it just kind of rumbles along and changes. You almost feel like you were a victim of the culture, but actually you’re the creators of the culture. But if you’re going to create it, you have to describe it in an accessible way. In a way that’s almost living and breathing. The leadership team has to own this thing. You can’t write a culture deck, send it out to wherever you want as an attachment and say, we’re done.

Michael Kurland (25:07):

You can’t go “Here’s your new culture.”

David Deacon (25:12):

You can’t do that.  We have to reinvent it all the time. You have to have to have employees always, always involved in adapting it and critiquing it and bring in new ideas.

Michael Kurland (25:23):

I’m really liking what you’re saying because for us, we did this with our PR company and we went through and had all the employees do our vision and our motto and put all the words, put all the things, the words together on the wall and value statements and mission. So you just said that it’s not the vision and the values and whatnot. So you’re talking about the everyday speak, like, this is how this works. This is how this makes me feel and when people are down in the trenches or that are working for you, that’s how they think. When you say it like that, I feel like I need to go back and do something like this for Branded Group as well and have it then like the culture, the real culture, not that our culture isn’t real, but the next, the deeper level thoughts.  I love what you’re saying here.

David Deacon (26:31):

Because you said something really interesting about serving and giving back and so likely one of the phrases that would be in your culture deck would be something like “We live to serve.”

Michael Kurland (26:42):


David Deacon (26:44):

Something like that and if you don’t articulate it really simply, but really powerfully, it’s easy for people to forget that actually is the 20 things that really matters is that we live to serve.

Michael Kurland (27:03):

I like it. I’m taking notes over here.

David Deacon (27:08):

Well, Michael, The Talent Office is an international consultancy, so anytime you need help.

Michael Kurland (27:15):

I like it. So going into the next question, we talked about it in the beginning, but what role, if any, do managers have on influencing culture? Let’s circle back to that.

David Deacon (27:32):

We did talk about it, but I just think it’s so important, because we all experience the culture or the way we work through our managers. You’re important because you’re the CEO, but if I work for you, I work for a manager. So my experience of being an employee of your company is a little bit driven by you and the comms you put out, the priorities you set, showing up at volunteer days. But actually how my manager treats me, what her management style is, the priorities she’s setting,  the tone she’s role modeling, the way that she brings the team together or not the way that she works with me as an individual or not, that’s actually how I experienced working for you. So I might understand that there are some things that are important about the climate, the culture, but what I experience is what my manager creates for me. Ideally, there’s absolute coherence between those things. So the micro-culture that she creates for the team is consistent with a broader culture that you’re creating for your company. Ideally, that’s the outcome, but that is not necessarily the case. That’s why managers are so important.

Michael Kurland (29:05):

Back to the point of coming in and snarling because you didn’t have your favorite Starbucks coffee. That sets the tone for the whole day. If you don’t get your favorite Starbucks coffee, four out of five days of the week, that’s really bad culture, you know?

David Deacon (29:20):

But I’ve got to tell you, I am guilty of that irritation.

Michael Kurland (29:24):

The Starbucks coffee?

David Deacon (29:30):

Your listeners will know this. You can have a terrible team environment inside a wonderful culture. You can have a fantastic company, but there will still be teams that are bad. Similarly, you can have terrible cultures. One of my previous employers will be in this category, but there was some really, really good, strong, high performing, growing teams within that toxic culture. Why? Because they had great managers. They had great managers who created that culture about performance and growth, even though the company didn’t want to contribute. They didn’t make that really a priority. They didn’t support it at all. But the manager created that and that’s why managers are so important.

Michael Kurland (30:21):

You’re making me think so much. I have my middle management team and I breathed the culture down to them, but are they breathing it down to the next level? I want to say yes, but I think I need to go back and probably do some brush-up with them to make sure of that. I’m sure we have some discontent at some point, because not everything’s perfect, but get in there and really do some evaluation because you raised such great points.

David Deacon (30:57):

The question to ask them is what environment are they creating?

Michael Kurland (31:02):

I like it. I’m taking notes.

David Deacon (31:04):

What environment are you creating? Because then they should be able to answer that question. They might need a bit of time to think about it, because most of us do, but if they don’t know the answer to that question, then there’s some remedial work to do. Funnily enough, that’s another thing that we can help you with. Right? The training remotely delivered, we won’t even have flights involved.

Michael Kurland (31:33):

I may have to have some off air conversation. So this is the big one. Here we are. We were talking about it before we went on the air. What is this month? Number nine now of COVID and work from home and burn out and all the things that we’ve discussed during this season. You guys had your first vaccination was today, correct today for UK? I found out this morning that the first round of vaccinations for Southern California is going out next week for the essential workers. So there’s starting to be a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s talk about how it’s impacted culture. How has COVID impacted culture and leadership style currently? What have you seen?

David Deacon (32:28):

I think it’s really interesting. It’s been such an interesting year, hasn’t it? There’s been so much going on and we’ve all been tested in all kinds of ways. Some people have come out of that pretty strong and some people have failed the test. Most of us have had good days and bad days, plenty of bad days in most cases. For me, the thing that’s changed the most as it relates to culture is how you used to feel pretty confident that you could influence the culture because of your role and because of your reach. You could see people, you could meet people, and you could smell what was happening in the offices. You were part of conversations, you were visible and accessible.

David Deacon (33:24):

You had your arms around your company and CEOs feel that whether the company is five people or 50,000 people, they feel as though they have their arms around it in some way. They use all of the levers and all of the tools that they have to influence that. I think what happened with COVID and the wrenching shift into remote working and working from home, not even remote, but most people in a lot of organizations worked from home, is a lot of the opportunities to influence culture and style and being that visible force got taken away from you and it wasn’t replaced by anything.  I did a podcast a few months ago where we talked about why aren’t you sending stuff to people’s homes?

David Deacon (34:23):

Why doesn’t everyone have a branded coffee mug, drinks, mats, badges, whatever, pins, whatever it is, why aren’t you sending stuff to people’s homes? They said, well, why, why, why? And the answer is because no one’s walking into your office and seeing the logo. No one’s coming in and understanding from the paint color and the carpet and the way that the reception desk is laid out. No one’s getting any of those cues anymore. They’re in their home, not your home, they’re in their space, not your space. You’ve sent them no reminders of there’s a bigger enterprise, which you’re part of. So the other thing that happened, this is all sort of back to the prior conversation about managers, who I’m arguing were really important, became even more important because actually in many cases, the only interaction you had with the company was with the team and the manager. That was pretty much it for the vast majority of employees and the vast majority of organizations. So the tools that you had as a senior leader to influence the culture have where they just weren’t there. They drifted away and they were replaced by I’m in my home. I have multiple Zoom conversations with my colleagues and my manager.

David Deacon (36:10):

So if your manager isn’t really in tune with the culture and how we want to work and how things should get done, and what’s actually important, then you’ve lost so much control of your culture. I mean, it’s fascinating. It’s really interesting.

Michael Kurland (36:25):

You’re making me reflect. In the beginning of this pandemic, we were doing that, Zoom calls and happy hours. We were doing a book club and we were sending lunch to the employees and letting them know, and then it just got so burnt out. Nobody wanted to hear the recipe of the week or the workout of the month or the yoga of the month. So it was just like, leave me alone. So we took our foot off the gas because I think that the message can start falling on deaf ears, or at least that’s what I thought about to your point. I think there are some opportunities where we’re nine months later to send a little swag package and maybe do a Zoom background for everyone.

Michael Kurland (37:23):

Because I’m sure everyone’s tired of seeing my ceiling fan in the back ground and  I’m sure with all the managers, like you’re looking at whatever’s in their background too. Oh, we forget because you’re muddying the culture waters of we’re still Branded Group, but you’re not. You’re Michael Kurland living in your apartment in California with his ceiling fan above his place. H’s drinking out of his, not even his Branded Group mug, not even to plug the mug that I’m drinking out of. All good stuff. Really making me think today. I hope for the audience too.

David Deacon (38:02):

We should have done this six months ago.

Michael Kurland (38:05):

I don’t think we would have known six months ago because the burnout wasn’t real, the burnout happened. I think we’re doing this at the perfect time and I think it’s just for me. And, like I said, hopefully for the audience it’s reinvigorating. We still have a culture job to do like this. I mean Christmas is right around the corner. The holidays are right around the corner. Everyone usually takes their foot off the gas, but there’s still stuff to do culturally heading into 2021.

David Deacon (38:36):

There is and I’m starting to describe it as getting ready for the great reset.

Michael Kurland (38:41):

We were talking about that too.

David Deacon (38:44):

Next year is going to be wild.

Michael Kurland (38:47):

To get into me, my 2019 and the six years prior, I was on a plane at least one week a month, if not two weeks a month going to travel for business. L’d get to experience wherever I was a little bit extra when I wasn’t working every single minute in that city. I’ve been on a plane three times this year. It’s incredible. Now I’m just like send me anywhere, anywhere. I’ll do anything. There’s no nowhere to go. So to your point, as soon as the vaccine is distributed and people feel comfortable and travel ready, I’m getting on a plane and I don’t care where I go, somewhere to give me a restaurant where I can try a different type of food and all that stuff.

David Deacon (39:43):

The pleasure of being in front of clients and in front of your people and just recreating those communities. It’s going to be huge.

Michael Kurland (39:55):

Huge. So this has been a great conversation. I think we have so much more to touch on, but we’ll have to save that for the next episode when we have you back on. But last question I ask everybody, what are you an expert at? What advice do you have for our audience on how to become an expert at said thing?

David Deacon (40:18):

What am I an expert at? I guess I’ll be a bit thematic. I think I’m an expert at telling managers what to do.

Michael Kurland (40:33):

I like it.

David Deacon (40:35):

Which was why I wrote the book or maybe I feel I’m an expert because I’ve written the book. Maybe that’s the better way to put it. It’s a passion for me. The importance of people managers and the role that managers have and the impact they can make on people’s lives is just a passion. That’s sustained through the writing of the book and the publishing of the book and the creating the training company, and now trying to get people to actually want to pay attention to any of that stuff. So I think if you’re going to claim expertise, as I just have, make it something that you have a passionate point of view about. That really matters to you for whatever reason. It doesn’t matter why.

David Deacon (41:36):

But you must feel it. It can’t just be an intellectual expertise because that’s easily replicable, right? At the beginning of our conversation that you were talking about the ubiquitous availability of information and transparency of all of that, what will differentiate you as an expert is not what you know, it’s how much it matters to you. And if it really matters to you, then people will pay attention in some way to your expertise. If it doesn’t matter to you, they won’t, and they’ll go somewhere else because there was always someone else to go and get the information you can provide. So go after something that really matters to you would be my advice.

Michael Kurland (42:17):

I love it. Very, very great advice. David, this has been a great conversation, as I said, I want to keep going, but we’re running short on time. We’ll definitely have you back on to come back on. If the audience wants to get ahold of you, how can they find you?

David Deacon (42:38):

So they can email me david@thetalentoffice.org, or they can go to the self-determined manager website, www.self-determinedmanager.com.

Michael Kurland (42:52):

Great. Everyone, please pick up that book.

David Deacon (42:59):

So it’s on Amazon. People say it’s like a conversation with me, which, if you’ve survived this long or more of this. The book’s not about proxy for this.

Michael Kurland (43:09):

Well, David, thank you so much for coming on. Like I said, we’ll definitely have you back and audience until next time.

I’d like to take a minute to thank you, our valued listeners. My intention is for this podcast to inspire you, in some way, to be better.  Change starts from within and radiates outward. Therefore, start with being better to yourself and only then will you recognize how to be better others and your community. Thank you for joining us today! If you want to learn more about Branded Group, then visit us at www.branded-group.com. From our website you can follow us on social media. Also, always feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. Until next time, Be Better.

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