Mark Graban Interviewed About Jobs Numbers and Mistakes by Laura Coates

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The other day, I wrote a post that referenced my appearance on The Laura Coates Show. I had a transcript made, so I am putting that into a new post here, which can be found after the streaming audio player, which you can use to listen to the interview.

[background music]

Announcer: This is “The Laura Coates Show” on SiriusXM POTUS, Channel 124.

Laura Coates: Hey, welcome back to The Laura Coates Show here on SiriusXM POTUS. I'm joined now by Mark Graban, who is an internationally recognized consultant, published author, professional speaker, blogger, and podcaster.

He builds upon a deep education in engineering and management, with practical experience working with executives and frontline employees in multiple industries to synthesize and practice methods, including how to improve continuously using physical methods and also people-centered leadership approaches.

He joins me now to talk about what has been widely reported as the Great Resignation, and it in fact continues. This as the President of the United States is speaking right now at a critical moment for his economic agenda in his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Mark Graban, he tweets @markgraban, or go to markgraban.com, G-R-A-B-A-N.

Mark, welcome to the show. How are you?

Mark Graban: I'm great, Laura. It's good to talk to you.

Laura: I'm glad you're here. Thanks for stopping by the show. First of all, the Great Resignation, it seems to have continued. The jobs reports are out from August and September. What do you make of where we are right now?

Mark: I love looking at data, diving into data. I'm a people person, so I think we can look at the numbers and some of the stories behind those numbers. If you look in August, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs. That's 3.6 percent of the workforce in a given month.

You'll see some headlines will say, “Oh, well, that number is up 2.7 percent from July.” It's not so helpful to compare this month versus that, but if we look at a 20-year period, that's the highest number in 20 years.

There has been a very steady upward trend going on since 2011. More people quitting their jobs for different reasons, whether that's for better pay or better working conditions.

Laura: When people think about the idea of quitting, there's a lot to this notion. I know that it's just a phrase, has some people having a visceral reaction.

When you talk about it from the standpoint of the trade-offs, and the cost-benefit analysis, and the idea of liveable wages, there's a lot to be said about what it says about our overall economy and jobs in this country, where the cost-benefit analysis and the trade-off is, you know what? At this point in time, it's not worth it perhaps to return or to remain.

Mark: The pandemic, I've talked to a lot of people, including some guests on my podcast, who said the pandemic has caused people to pause, and reflect, and to ask, “What do I want to be doing with my career? What do I want to be doing with my life? Am I willing to continue putting up with an environment that maybe isn't ideal?”

A lot of organizations these days are caught in a bad cycle, where whether this is a culture, unfortunately, or in other industries, but the organization is short-staffed, and that means the employees who are still there have to work harder or work overtime.

That leads to burnout. The burnout leads to more people quitting. Unfortunately, that cycle gets worse. I encourage leaders, “You've got to find a way to break that cycle. Don't blame people for quitting. We have to make conditions in our organization better so that people want to choose to stay.”

Laura: On that point, I wonder if people are having a bit of there's buyer's remorse, but how about quitter's remorse? Are you experiencing and having conversations around that as well?

Mark: Yeah. On the podcast, out of over 100 people I've interviewed, these are very successful people from different walks of life, seven of them — I went through and counted up the other day — told a story where they said the favorite mistake in their career was either quitting a job, and then it somehow turned out to be a mistake, or, taking a new job and realizing the circumstances are not exactly what was promised.

There's a flip side to it. I had one guest who talked about the mistake of not quitting and sticking with something too long.

The idea of making mistakes, and this is a general theme on the “My Favorite Mistake” podcast, and I have basic reminders for myself on a coffee mug, if we've made a mistake or if we're afraid that a decision was a mistake, we can be kind to ourselves, realize and remind ourselves nobody's perfect. We all make mistakes, including really successful people.

The key thing is to learn from our mistakes. One job mistake isn't going to kill your career. I've talked to so many CEOs and successful people who have figured out how to learn from a misstep or a mistake and they can bounce back from it and get on a better track.

Laura: In advice you've even gotten on your podcast as well and given out and talked to people about this issue, how do you address it? Is it about a mindset? Is it a way about thinking about how to stay optimistic and opportunistic, as you've spoken about in the past?

Mark: Part of being kind to yourself is forgiving yourself for the mistake. Something only ends up seeming like a mistake when we look in hindsight. They say the cliché, “Hindsight is 20/20.”

When someone's making a decision today, they're making the best decision they can make based on the information they have right now. If we're quitting because we think this other job we have lined up is going to be better, of course, there's a risk that the new job isn't better, that the grass isn't greener.

Again, at the same time, if we think we're in a bad environment, I heard the clip of former press secretary talking about an abusive workplace, if somebody is in an abusive workplace or has a bad boss, they might very well regret the mistake of not quitting.

It depends on the circumstances, but there's that reminder to be kind to yourself, to forgive yourself, and, again, realize everybody makes mistakes.

Laura: In terms of the idea of your podcast, My Favorite Mistake, help people understand a little bit about what motivated you to have this podcast. It's a very interesting and thought-provoking way to frame it and it's a big learning opportunity for people.

Mark: I've been podcasting more of a niche professionally for about 15 years. Because of that, I would have people pitch guests to me. I would often have to say no because it wasn't a good fit.

Last summer, I was pitched one of the original Sharks from the show “Shark Tank,” Kevin Harrington. I thought, “I would really love to talk to him. I would want to interview him. I need to figure out a way to say yes instead of saying no.”

I brainstormed, I talked with a couple of PR people who book the guests and they loved the idea of My Favorite Mistake. Kevin Harrington loved the idea. He was the very first guest. My second guest was then Congressman, Will Hurd from Texas.

A favorite mistake, the way we frame it in the podcast, it's not necessarily your biggest mistake. Sometimes, a favorite mistake is our biggest mistake, but a favorite mistake is something that sticks with us. We learn from it. It maybe led to something better, even if it was a mistake in the moment.

Hearing these executives, and entrepreneurs, and entertainers, and retired pro athletes, people from different walks of life and different professions, to hear them reflect and to admit their mistake, that's such a good example for others to think about our own mistakes.

To reflect on them, to forgive ourselves if we're still upset with ourselves about it, and then try to figure out how to move beyond the mistake and do something better.

Laura: Speaking of Shark Tank, it brings me to one of my thoughts about this Great Resignation and people taking leaps of faith and reconsidering where they want to be, what they want to be doing. How do people start to think about it?

If you're struggling maybe to go back on the job market, or you're thinking, “You know what? That's not for me,” or, “This is an opportunity to do something different,” should people consider starting their own business?

Mark: That's a great path. A lot of people are doing that. There are record numbers, in terms of the number of new business applications. Over 500,000 applications in July of last year, and that number has sustained, even earlier in the pandemic. There's a number of factors.

People who were forced into it because something changed at their company, but then there are the entrepreneurs by choice. Some of this comes back to, again, thinking about, “What do we want to do with our lives?”

Sometimes, people have had an idea and they re-evaluate their lives and they say, “You know what? I'm going to go for it.” That said, starting a business is risky. 20 percent of businesses fail in the first year, 30 percent fail in the second year.

Some of the lessons from entrepreneurs who have come on the show My Favorite Mistake is if we're starting a business, we want to make lots of little mistakes early on so we can learn from those mistakes and we can shift our business, we can shift our marketing approach as we learn from making small mistakes.

Making small mistakes is the key to preventing big, catastrophic mistakes down the road. Assumptions are bad. Testing ideas is good. If we have an idea for a business, try to do not just talking to family and friends, because they might tell you what you want to hear.

Go and talk to people who would be customers and try to see if there's a way where they can vote with their wallet, or at least give a very strong indication that says, “Yes, I would buy the product or service that you're bringing to market.”

Laura: This is helpful and so important. Mark Graban, thank you so much for your time. How do people hear your podcast, My Favorite Mistake?

Mark: Thank you for that. They can go to myfavoritemistakepodcast.com. They can search My Favorite Mistake podcast in any of the podcast apps or music services. You might get the Sheryl Crow song, but you want to make sure you search for My Favorite Mistake podcast after you're done listening to her great song.

Laura: [laughs] In that order. Mark Graban, thank you for your time. You can also go to markgraban.com or follow him on Twitter as well @markgraban, G-R-A-B-A-N. Thank you.

Mark: Thank you, Laura.

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