- Posted by Action Catalyst
- On December 27, 2022
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- author, Business, career, coaching, dave ramsey, impact, jobs, leadership, Pat Summitt, success
Nationally syndicated radio host, “America’s Career Coach”, and No. 1 bestselling author Ken Coleman covers why people are creatures of progress, the 4 F’s that hold people back, 7 stages to finding your dream job, experience vs. skill, going from income to influence and impact, shares lessons from the great Pat Summitt, and talks about truly, always “feeling the juice”.
Ken Coleman is America’s Career Coach, the #1 national bestselling author of The Proximity Principle and From Paycheck to Purpose, and host of The Ken Coleman Show. Ken helps people discover what they were born to do and provides practical steps to make their dream job a reality. The Ken Coleman Show is a nationally syndicated, caller-driven show that helps listeners who are searching for something more out of their career.
Learn more at RamseySolutions.com/Ken-Coleman.
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(Transcribed using A.I. / May include errors):
Adam Outland: Welcome to the Action Catalyst podcast. This is Adam Outland, and today we’re speaking with Ken Coleman nationally syndicated radio host, often referred to as America’s career coach, as well as the number one bestselling author. Welcome, Ken!
Ken Coleman: Good to talk with you.
Adam Outland: We’re glad to have you back. This is actually your second time on the program, and I wanted to jump straight into a meaty topic that’s on a lot of our minds right now, which is the so-called great resignation. Many people are switching jobs, leaving the workforce entirely, or just waiting on the sidelines, but what can employers be doing right now to drive retention in today’s.
Ken Coleman: Yeah, it’s a really great question. So if we’re talking about retention, you better be showing your team that there’s a ladder where they are, because I think leaders need to hear this, the the leader mentality, and it’s about getting the right person in the right spot. Right? So I’m a big football fan.
We’re in the middle of football season, so you’ve got a 53 man roster on the. And so every year they go through an arduous process by which they take 90 some players or whatever it is when they start training camp, and then they whittle it down to a 53 man roster. And the great GMs and the great coaches are ones that assemble the right talent.
And so the leader’s role is, do I have the right people on the right seat of the bus? That is the primary role. However, a blind spot for leaders is when they don’t. How do I keep them? One of the ways that we, we keep them is what you’ve addressed in the question and retention is about making sure that they see an opportunity to grow, not just in their skill set, not just in their experience, not just financially, but in their role.
More influence, more of a challenge. All those other things matter tremendously, but at the end of the day, we are creatures of progress and, and so you’ve gotta make sure that you give these. A ladder to a future that they see contribution growing. And I think if you do that, you’re gonna have people stay with you much longer.
Adam Outland: And that’s right in alignment with our own values here at the Southwestern family of companies. There’s people walking the halls that have been here for 40 and 50 years, and so having a culture where people can seek growth and promotions happening from the ground up is so I. We’d love to hear a bit more about your background, cuz I know that your path didn’t begin in the same direction as where you are today.
Ken Coleman: Yeah, well, you know, this book, uh, was written from my own experience, um, because I was somebody who was very much ambitious. Certainly intentional, feeling like I was on purpose in my professional life in that I thought I was. Called to go into public service in the area of politics. And uh, the short answer is I’m in my early thirties and I realized that my fire, my passion.
For political work was waning big time. And so I began to really examine that and came to the conclusion that that was not the, the direction that was no longer the professional pinnacle. And so that is a very unsettling thing when certainly when you’ve been focused on it and headed that direction and on your way for quite some time.
And so as I began the process of discovering what my unique role was, where I was supposed to contribute profess. I then began to realize that there were some similarities between public service and broadcasting in that I loved to communicate. I wanted to communicate publicly. Uh, I wanted to maximize the opportunity to influence as many people as possible.
So as I began to walk through that, I realized that broadcasting was what I wanted to do. My heart reengaged that tuning fork inside my chest. I was like, okay, I, I love that public performance, that public communication. I certainly enjoy the pressure that comes with that. That’s a pretty sick thing when we know that most people would rather die than speak in public.
But I’m one of those few freaks that I get the juice man. And so I love it. So as I begin to go, okay, my heart’s saying yes, then my head got involved and, uh, boy, we all know what this feels like. So the head starts. Well, you’re 33. You don’t have a degree in broadcasting. You’ve never done any real broadcasting.
And so I, I was really paralyzed for about a year to two years and sat on the sidelines, kind of having a pity party. And then one day I realized I’m just gonna have to get out and do this. Nobody’s sitting around thinking how they can help Ken Coleman, you know, nobody woke up today going, I think that Ken Coleman.
Got some raw talent. I think he’d be great in broadcasting and I can make that happen for him. Where is his number? That doesn’t happen. And so I got to a point where I was like, okay, I’m gonna have to, I’m gonna have to face rejection, I’m gonna have to face fear. I’m gonna have to face doubt and pride, and I’m gonna have to step out and do it.
So I just started doing stuff and I signed it for broadcasting class sports broadcasting class. And got there the first day and there were a bunch of 20 somethings and I was 33 at the time. I think 34, I can’t even remember. And it was two weeks into the class before the guys realized I wasn’t an instructor.
So, uh, it was kind of humbling, but it was also great. Got me the opportunity to do my first live broadcast, which was high school football, play by play on the internet. Two people listening to that first broadcast, the kid in the booth next to me and my. The kid was so nervous he didn’t know what was happening.
And uh, Stacy, even if she didn’t like it, she wouldn’t tell me she’s that amazing.
Adam Outland: But of course today, you’re now the host of the Ken Coleman show, where you hear from people every day looking to land their dream job. In talking to your listeners, what are some of the commonalities? What are most people looking for?
Ken Coleman: Yeah, so that’s a really great question. I think it falls into three major buckets of people that are listening the show and calling the show. The first group are people who are, who really don’t know clearly, or they don’t believe firmly, that they know what they’re supposed to do with their life. So it’s, we could call them unclear or confused.
That’s the first bucket. I’m not sure what I wanna do with my life. Ken, the second group, they know what they want to do. Pretty darn good idea, but they don’t know how to get. And then the third group is very interesting. Uh, they know what they want to do or what they’re supposed to do. They know how to get there.
But fear, finances, or family or past failure is keeping ’em on the sideline. So that group is really interesting. It’s a smaller group of the three, but those people know what they’re supposed to do and how to get there. But, uh, either, uh, they have to make a move and, and family would never go for it, or family would be upset.
Or maybe they’re fi they’re in debt and their finances are a mess, and so they’re like, I don’t think I could do it. And then pass failure, whether it was moral failure or they started a version of the dream years ago and it failed spectacularly and they’re just, they’re afraid to come back out.
Adam Outland: Let’s start with the people who are lacking vision. How do you begin with that group?
Ken Coleman: Yeah, so these people are in stage, one of the seven stages that I unpack in the book. And stage one is get clear so they’re not clear. We gotta get ’em clear and here’s how you do it. There’s three indicators. Think of it as a a panel on our car.
When we all get in the car, we see all the gauges and everything. And for our own personal dashboard as a human being, there are really three indicators. The first is, That’s what you do best. Really simple, and we’re talking specifically hard skills and then people skills, otherwise known as soft skills, right?
And so we want to get really clear on what we do best. I don’t wanna know what your average. Talents are, uh, I, I really don’t care what your awful talents are, right? Where you just, oh, you’re just, you’re abysmal. Uh, those are weaknesses. Those are good to know about, but those don’t indicate anything about our purpose other than to say these are areas we weren’t created to spend a lot of time in.
All right, so that’s the first indicator talent, what you do best. Second, I. Passion. Now, this is defined as work you love to do. So this is again, for specifics. What work do you look forward to? I mean, the task, the function, a role. So you leaders out there, you love leading, you just love leading people, and all that encompasses that.
When you think about opportunities to. You have high emotion. Watch this. When you are in the midst of leading, you have high emotion, time stands still. You feel the juice, and then you are devoted to it, to the point that you want to get better. Um, you, you, you can’t imagine a scenario where you aren’t leading a team and leading people.
That’s high emotion, high devotion. And now the last indicator is, Now this is results that matter deeply to you. This is where the results of the work and your personal values have a really tight connection. Okay? So what results do you want to contribute to the world? So that’s mission. They all three come together and they show us where we were meant to contribute.
So when I use what I do best, To do work. I love passion to produce results that matter deeply to me, mission. And they come together like a big giant neon arrow, and that’s a direction, a compass. And it says here in the world, the marketplace, the world at work. This. Is where I was created to contribute.
And here’s what’s beautiful about this. It’s not one job. It’s not one silver bullet. Woo. What if I make the wrong decision? It’s not that because in your sweet spot where all three talent, passion, and mission aligned, there are multiple jobs, career paths, and even dream jobs. And so that’s what I say to that person.
Let’s get clear on the work that you were created to do. We created an As. In that first stage, it’s called the get clear Career Assessment, and we show you where you score on the universal talents, the universal passions, and the universal missional results. And then we fill out a purpose statement for you, and then we give you professional possibilities so that now you’ve got a litmus test, a filter by which you make all future professional decisions.
Now we move to stage two, getting qualified, and then you move on to stage three. Get connected for opportunities. Stage four, when opportunities come to you through connections, you can get started stage. Now we’re working on the ladder, climbing that mountain, if you will, that stage five get promoted.
Stage six is get the dream job, and then what do you do when you’re on top of that mountain? Well, now your focus changes. And now I’ve, I’m looking out and the dream expands and I, in stage seven give myself away. I’m not working for income anymore. It’s there. Influence is there. It’s all about impact. So that’s a quick snapshot of the seven stages and how all that fits in.
Adam Outland: And all of that is in your book. What’s the name of your book again for our listeners?
Ken Coleman: Sure it’s from paycheck to purpose. Those four words really address the emotions that every human experiences around work think about it, right? From paycheck to purpose. Paycheck is the provision we all have gotta pro provide for ourselves or for others.
But then we all long to make a difference, contribution. And that’s the purpose piece. And so, uh, we want people to realize that you can make the income that you desire.
Adam Outland: Now over the years, you’ve had some very notable guests on your show from US Presidents, Tim Tebow, Tony Hawk, countless others who have been a few of your absolute favorites.
Ken Coleman: Wow, that’s, uh, that’s, that’s my favorite list is pretty, pretty long. I could probably do a top 10. I, I think the names that pop out first and foremost at the very top of the list, coach Mike Sche. First major interview I ever did, and to this day, uh, an hour sitting on the floor of Cameron Indoor Arena, coach Kort, that was pretty amazing.
I love coaches. I love Pat Summit. The, you know, the greatest, one of the greatest coaches of all time, Peyton Manning. That was, that was a really fun interview. What a serious, serious competitor he is. Uh, committed to greatness. Certainly enjoyed interviewing condo, Aliza Rice. We’re talking about a brilliant woman that served our country in so many unique ways.
Certainly a history maker. I recently interviewed George W. Bush, probably one of the most enjoyable interviews I’ve ever done. He’s top three, not just because he was a former president, but because of how comfortable in his own skin he is, uh, despite the fact that he’s seen and heard things that a fraction, a teeny tiny fraction of, of, of the population we’ll ever see in.
That was enjoyable. Mike Row from, uh, dirty Jobs, probably one of the most enjoyable interviews I’ve ever done. Uh, just from a conversation standpoint. I was telling some friends the other night at dinner, they were asking me a similar question. I put Malcolm Gladwell on the list because of all the people I’ve interviewed and I’ve interviewed two presidents and US Senators and all the things.
The most intimidating person I’ve ever interviewed was Malcolm Gladwell because of how brilliant he is. He’s just such a smart guy, but he’s very humble. Malcolm is up there. It’s amazing how, while these names that we kind of marvel at of how you know well known or accomplished, they are, the reality is they’re just men and women like us, and to truly have a conversation like that as powerful, powerful experience.
Adam Outland: You mentioned Pat Summitt. I’m not sure if you know this, but one of the groups under the Southwestern Family of Companies is the Pat Summit Leadership Group.
Ken Coleman: Do you want a great Pat Summitt story? So this is from my interview and, uh, I don’t know how many times she told the story, but your audience will love, it’s a great leadership lesson.
So I’ll give you the quick version. So I asked her one time, I said, uh, What was one of the most valuable lessons you learned early on as a young coach? Cuz she took the job at Tennessee, I believe, at 22 or 23. It was one of the two. So she’s really young, she’s only a couple years older, uh, than maybe the freshman and maybe a year older than her seniors.
And she told me about her first game. It was against Mercer and they lost. And uh, she called her dad cuz she always did after every game. And he answered the phone. He said, all right, just like that. She said, daddy, what do you think? He goes, well, You need to get you some race horses because you don’t take donkeys to the Kentucky Derby.
And that’s all he said. And, uh, that was the end of that conversation. And she said it stuck with her, you know, you know, you gotta have thoroughbreds to win big. And as a leader your, I think most important responsibility is to, is to assemble talent, the right talent. So that’s a fun little, uh, little story.
Adam Outland: So let’s talk a bit about another one of your books. The one question which asks the reader what they would wanna know from the people they admire the most. What’s the secret to a well crafted question?
Ken Coleman: Yeah, so, you know, the secret to a good interview is also the secret to a great conversation, which I’m a huge fan of connections.
And you know, we talk a lot about that, that stage three in the new book, from paycheck to purpose get connected. So what’s the, what’s the art of connection? And it’s really taken on the posture of a student, can you transform yourself into a human sponge? And so, you know, in my interviews, my goal and my posture.
Is one of you have so much value to give to the audience, and I’m here to get as much of that out of you as possible. So that’s, that’s the mindset. And so that, that, you know, informs the questions that I ask. So like with a patch summit, you know, you know, you gotta first know who your audience is. And so if you’re a leader and you’re doing an interview for your company or your team, whatever you, even though you know it’s your company, you gotta sit down and ask.
What does the audience want to know and need to know right now? The want to know is, you know, what do they wanna know when they hear from somebody? That’s very influential. So there’s a little bit of the entertainment appetite that you’re looking at there. Now, the need to know is okay, they need to hear some leadership lessons from Pat Summit because she’s in such a unique thing.
So, You know, you’re starting with that and that informs the rest of the conversation because I now know that Pat Sum has, has experience, and then she has skill that can be transferable to the audience. And so how do I maximize that? And so that’s a simple answer to that. That’s that’s how you make sure that you’re doing a really good interview.
Adam Outland: That’s powerful for any leader as well. Anyone who wants to draw the best out of their employees and be authentic and honest with them about how to improve.
Ken Coleman: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. And again, I mentioned this briefly, but I wanna highlight really quick. That’s the key to great conversation. You know, a leader to leader and you’re hanging around other eagles instead of talking about yourself.
Show up. And ask questions, get knowledge and wisdom, get insight. People feel tremendously valuable when we ask them their opinion, and so you’re showing that you value them and they’re gonna feel tremendously valuable as a result. So I mean, don’t, don’t forget that technique in everyday conversations.
Adam Outland: So on that note, what are some of the most surprising responses you got when you were interviewing for the one question, were you ever caught off guard?
Ken Coleman: No, that that book was so thought out that the format of that book, as you know, is to reveal and showcase the power of one question to, to.
Life changing answers. One that sticks out to me, uh, is the Jim Collins answer, you know, and I’m, I’m asking him about why do we, as consumers want to consume great, but we as humans are so scared of doing what’s necessary to do. Great. You know, the idea is, is that when you and your wife book a vacation, the this conversation ever happens.
Hey, listen, what do you think about an average? They got an average rating and uh, there’s an average beach there. Or who says, man, I love our team. I’m so excited this year they’re, they’re, they’re 500. They’re five and five and we’re so fired up. Or, let’s go to a concert. They’re okay. I don’t really like the band.
They’re okay. Like, nobody says that. So we don’t consume average, but we don’t pursue greatness. And so that was the heart of the question. Okay. And so I asked Collins that, and as you know, he goes on to say, he goes, he, he, he recalls a story when he was. In a business school and a young man came up to him and said, I’ve got a, a fork in the road, professor Collins, uh, do I take a job with a Fortune 500 company, uh, which has got stock options, the great benefits, yada, yada, yada, super secure.
It’s a lock versus do I go start my own business? When the young man asked him that, he, he, he responded and said, Who’s to say that the job with the Fortune 500 company is in fact that stable and he reminded the young man of how quickly Enron, which I think everybody in businesses knows the unbelievable.
Historic collapse of Enron. He was basically saying if the economy tanks or there’s a moral failure or there’s something that goes on, all that stock can evaporate in a moment. And he said, betting on yourself is as safe, if not safer than working for someone else. And he said to me, Ken, this is what we all must face.
And he said, we all tend to lean towards a future that is almost paint by numbers. And he said, there’s safety. We think in that. Approach as opposed to going to a blank canvas and painting our own masterpiece. Therein lies why most people don’t pursue greatness, and essentially what he was so phenomenal insane is, is that we would rather be safe and even potentially miserable than we would to be uncomfortable.
We humans would rather be miserable than uncomfortable. And the reason is we know what to expect with the miserable, right? We can bite our stick, get through it, drink our face off at happy hour on Friday, go out on the lake on Saturday, watch a bunch of football on Friday, and try to like forget everything.
And then Sunday night comes around and, and, and we get all anxious. We get all nasty and miserable and we just try to make it through the next weekend. And that’s because again, we’d rather be miserable than. When people weigh the costs to choose purpose over a paycheck, many people sadly, will choose the paycheck and not go for purpose.
And it’s an uphill battle, man. This isn’t one book’s gonna solve this problem, you know? But we as leaders, we can help, you know, because if you get people that are on purpose in positions that they were created to fill in your company, you can’t hold greatness.
Adam Outland: In closing, when you’re thinking about vision and purpose and you’re talking to someone who’s calling in and they say, man, I’ve been at it a while now and I’m having a tough time staying motivated, what would you say to someone who’s hit that slump and needs to recharge?
Ken Coleman: The first thing I would tell them is, is you’re not having a problem with motivation. You’ve lost sight of your why. You don’t have a motivation issue. You have a confusion issue. You have a distraction issue. And so I would tell them the retreat to Clarity, and I would tell them to go back to the process that I teach, that I unpacked.
Get clear, write a purpose statement. If you’ve never written one before, take the Get Clear Career assessment. Read the first two chapters of this new book, because when I retreat to Clarity, I see my why again, see, vision is the, where vision is. The mountaintop purpose is the why. Why do I wanna scale the mountaintop?
And so when we lose motivation, we have forgotten our motive. So the root word of motivation is motive. When we watch these legal dramas on television or in the movies and the lawyers, uh, that are the prosecuting attorneys, and they are trying to convince the jury that there was a motive. They’re trying to say this is the motive.
And if they can establish motive, then guilt can be attached. And essentially it’s going, why would that person do this bad thing? Well, here’s why. And when they prove the why, and so we, so it’s like the root word of motivation is motive. So I just gotta be able to say what’s my motive? And when I get back to clarity, I see my motive.
I reattach, reconnect to my why, and then you’re not gonna have a problem getting outta bed the next. But I can tell you that the person who is, is lacking motivation has been distracted or is confused. And I’ll give you a practical example so that it doesn’t feel like I’m teaching in platitudes. I get calls all the time from teachers.
Elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, high school teachers in the public school system. And I’m not bashing the public school system, I’m just telling you what’s happening on the show. I’m telling you what’s happening in real life. And by the way, go look up the data. You can go check me on this.
Uh, teachers are quitting at alarming rates. And the reason is is cuz the system is jacked up, they spend more time doing paperwork, um, they’re unable to discipline. They have all this pressure for standardized test score. To be able to keep their jobs so that you know, or the school gets funding for them to be able to keep their job and they’re not focused on the thing that they got into it for, which is just the instruction and the guiding of young human beings.
Yet when they got into it, their why was really clear, but now the why’s been covered up by all this other stuff. And so what has happened is they’ve gotten distracted because the system makes ’em do all these other things and they don’t even get to spend hardly any time on the joy. And so they get distracted to the point where they get confused.
And so that’s an example where distraction and confusion are the perfect storm. And now teachers call me going, Ken, I thought I was supposed to be a. But I’ve lost my passion and I have no idea where to go, and so I’ve gotta uncover what’s caused the confusion and the distrac. And then at the heart of it, I go, I’m not saying that you have to stay in the environment you’re in, but you’ve not lost your passion for instruction.
It’s really instruction is what you love. Turning on the light bulb for people. So you can do that in the corporate environment, in HR corporate training. You can do it on the community college or college level where the students actually wanna be there and then they begin to see that they didn’t lose their passion.
They got distracted, they got confused.
Adam Outland: Yeah, that adds a lot of clarity about avoiding outside influence and really controlling the controllables. This has been a, a really great conversation and, and I really appreciate your time. Where’s the best place for our listeners to reach out to you or pick up your books?
Ken Coleman: Thank you for asking Ken coleman.com is the best way to get the book connect with me on social media there as. Uh, and then find out how to listen or watch the show. We’re on YouTube podcast, Sirius XM and 75 radio stations around the country.
Adam Outland: There you have it, Ken. Thanks again for joining us on The Action Catalyst.
Ken Coleman: Anytime. Always enjoy being with you.