Ken Broo (WLW) Interviews Mark Graban on His Favorite Mistake, Quitting Jobs


Here's another recent interview, with the Cincinnati radio station WLW — Ken Broo sitting in as guest host for the Bill Cunningham Show. You can listen to the audio or read the transcript:

Full Transcript

[background music]

Announcer: Now, your host, Ken Broo, on News Radio 700WLW.

Ken Broo: One more day. It's the average American and for the great American. Glad you're with us on this Friday as we look ahead to a big weekend and a big day here in the tri-state. More on that coming up in just a bit.

4.3 million people disappeared from the job force in August. Where did they go? Where did they go, and why are so many people filing for unemployment when there are so many jobs that are available right now? The math doesn't work. Nine million-plus jobs available and seven million people are on unemployment.

What's going on here? Are people picking up and walking away to go to nothing? We were told that this summer was going to be the summer of the Great Resignation, and it is as promised. For whatever reasons, COVID has been the impetus for people to try and figure out exactly what they want to do with their lives.

Some of them have decided they don't want to work anymore. What happens when you get “quitter's remorse”? More important, what if you leave a paying job to start up one of your own and it's having trouble getting traction? These are real issues.

Standing by is somebody who knows exactly what's happening here and might also lead us to believe that quitter's remorse is a really big thing. He is Mark Graban. Mark is a two-graduate degree holder from MIT, business consultant, professional speaker, interviews everybody for his podcast, which I would recommend. I've started listening to it. It's a great workout podcast to listen to.

He is the host of the podcast called “My Favorite Mistake.” Let's hope his favorite mistake isn't appearing on this show. Mark Graban, how are you on this glorious Friday?

Mark Graban: I'm doing well, Ken. I hope you don't think it's a mistake to have me on. [laughs]

Ken: No. There we go. Listen, I love the title of the show and I love the interviews you do, because no one is infallible. There was one guy that was infallible, and he left this earth around 33 AD. I don't think there's infallibility anywhere. It's great to have you with us. Let's talk about the 4.3 million people that disappeared in the month of August. Where did they go?

Mark: If you look at the federal data that shows people quitting jobs, that doesn't mean they're leaving the workforce. A lot of these 4.3 million are quitting for other jobs, whether that means they're getting a pay raise someplace else, or, in a lot of cases, there's other factors. People are leaving a bad boss or a toxic workplace for something that works better for them.

Ken: A lot of people just left, and as you just mentioned, they go on to other jobs, but they don't like their job. They say, “Look,” for example, if I was in the foodservice industry, “I waited on tables. I did that.

“Now, the pandemic came. My restaurant downsized or was shut down for a while and I had to go on government assistance, and during that time, decided look, I really don't want to spend the rest of my life waiting on tables.”

Then, you get to a point where when you quit, there's not a compatible job that you go to, and so you get this quitter's remorse. What happens if you've made a career decision that didn't pan out yet and it's starting to sink in that maybe this was the wrong thing to do? How do you deal with that?

Mark: The first thing you do, whether it's a mistake in quitting a job or just a mistake in general, you have to be kind to yourself. Like you were saying, Ken, we all make mistakes.

One thing that I've gotten out of interviewing people on My Favorite Mistake is that CEOs, and successful entrepreneurs, and NFL athletes, and people who are successful in different industries or professions, they all make mistakes. They're not successful because they never make mistakes.

The opposite is true. They're successful and they've reached the pinnacles of their field because they learn from their mistakes. A lot of people on the podcast talk about mistakes they've made, quitting a job.

One of the takeaways is look, making one mistake and quitting a job isn't necessarily going to kill your career. If you quit a job and it turns out to be a mistake, it's good to think about why you made that decision, why it seemed like a good decision at the time, and what you would do differently.

Let's say if somebody quits a job without having a new job lined up, that's a mistake you don't want to keep repeating the rest of your career.

Ken: That was always the blueprint. Don't leave a job until you have another job lined up. Going back to when my parents were in the job force, that's the one thing they preached to me, “Don't leave a job unless you have something else lined up.” That wisdom might have worked then.

I think more people now, Mark, are looking for jobs that don't necessarily provide comfort and financial security. That's important. If you can have that, that's great, but they're looking for jobs that fit into the lifestyle they want.

Maybe that is because of childcare, or that might be because they don't want a career. They'll take a job that will allow them to live their life the way they want to live it. This old conventional thinking probably doesn't apply to everybody right now.

Mark: There are a lot of factors. People will leave jobs in retail and restaurants because they don't have a regular schedule. They don't have a regular number of hours each week. Then, there's this question of purpose and fulfillment.

The pandemic times has everybody, myself included, thinking about, “What do I want to do with my time? What brings meaning to me?” For a lot of people, that means changing companies, changing professions.

Or, as you mentioned earlier, a record number of people are starting businesses, which brings a whole new opportunity to make mistakes, and to learn from them, and to get better, whether it's a new job, new career, new business.

Ken: I hear that a lot, “Well, I want to quit and start my own business.” I heard that a lot when I worked full time in television for many, many years. It was, “Well, it's all right. I want to start my own consulting company.” OK, consult what? For whom?

A lot of people look at working for themselves, which is great. You don't answer to anyone but yourself, but there's a lot of research over and above the equity you're going to need to start your new business. There's a lot of research that has to go in as to whether or not that business is going to be successful.

If you've quit a job, you think, “I'm going to start a new job up. My gig job on the side, I'm going to make that a full-time job.” You better research it, and then also find out, how are you going to have money to live on until that business gets up and running.

I think a lot of people quit and say, “I'm going to start my own job,” and about three or four weeks later, they're saying, “What the hell did I just do?”

Mark: An important lesson from people I've talked to is it doesn't have to be in the order of quit a job, and then start a business. One of my guests on My Favorite Mistake was an emergency room doctor, Greg Jacobson, who's now the CEO of a software company called KaiNexus.

He didn't quit as a doctor, and then start the company. He started the company. For a period of time with him and the co-founder, it was a side hustle, if you will, while they had jobs to build the software and, like you said, go and figure out if this is something worth quitting a job over.

You can do your research and anything you can do to start the business while you still have the security or, let's say, the health insurance of a full-time job. That's a prudent approach to try to avoid a mistake that would be really catastrophic.

Ken: We're chatting with Mark Graban. He's a business consultant, couple of degrees from MIT, and we've already mentioned his podcast. He did, too.

My Favorite Mistake, which is a good listen, because unless you have experienced some sort of struggle in life, there's no way to enjoy the mountain that you will eventually climb. It's easier said than done.

The people that are successful, Mark, the people that you have talked to a lot in the shows I've listened to, they have that story, where they've made a mistake, but they've used that mistake to build on something better.

Again, not having gone through it, that's an easier thing to say than do. What would you advise someone who has made that mistake, whatever it may be, so that they, A, don't make that same mistake twice, and B, get them into a mindset to turn that negative into a positive?

Mark: There's a balance. One of my recent guests, Cash Nickerson, who is the CEO of a company and he's a best-selling author, he talked about finding the balance of you want to reflect. You want to think about what happened, think about what you would do differently, but then don't dwell on it.

At some point, you want to analyze, what happened? Why did I make the decision that, at the time, seemed like a good idea? Did I not have enough information? Did I have misleading information that led me to make the decision?

A lot of times, mistakes don't reveal themselves to be mistakes until days, or weeks, or months, or years after we've made a decision. I like Cash's advice of reflect, but don't be too hard on yourself. That's one of the keys to moving forward.

Ken: Learn from it, because you're only going to get better if you don't repeat those same mistakes. By the way, what was your favorite mistake in your life?

Mark: [laughs] I took a job coming out of MIT down in Austin, Texas. It was a big corporation. I realized pretty quickly that, “Ugh, I don't think this is a company where I want to spend the rest of my career,” but I got to do interesting work, I met some people who are lifelong friends, and maybe more importantly, I met my wife, and we have our 20th anniversary next week.

Ken: [laughs]

Mark: Taking that job, I'd say that mistake panned out.

Ken: Hey, look at it this way, a mistake professionally does not necessarily mean it is a mistake in your personal life, right?

Mark: Right.

Ken: That's a great illustration. The podcast, I found it on iTunes. Where else can we find the podcast? By the way, I understand you've written four management books, which are good.

Good in the fact that you wrote them and that they apparently were successful, but good in the sense that maybe those books might help some CEOs or mid-managers that are struggling with this new day in the labor force. People are not motivated by the same old stuff.

Where can we find your books and where can we find your podcast other than Apple?

Mark: People can search Amazon for my books. They can go to They can find the podcast, like you said, searching any of the podcast apps or directories, or they can go to

Thank you for having me on. I was born in Dayton, so I want to say hi to my home state.

Ken: Dayton, Ohio, the Gem City. Very good. Mark, we'll do it again. This is good stuff. Mark Graban, and we appreciate your time. Stay well.

Mark: Thanks. You, too, Ken.

Ken: My Favorite Mistake. Wow. I've had several. I'm not sure which one would be my favorite, but I can tell you this, everything that I did that didn't turn out well, I learned from.

The great tragedy in something that doesn't work out well is to not learn from it. I think I learned from all of them. I did. Let's face it, you're in life long enough, you're going to make multiple mistakes. You got to make sure that you learn from them so you don't repeat and not have a good future past that.

I love his podcast. Discovered it about two weeks ago. It's really, really good.

It's coming up on 124 News Radio…

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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