Tim Kight – CEO at Focus3
Tim talks about:
How Culture is Built
Why it’s so Important
Nick Glimsdahl 0:03
Welcome to the Press 1 For Nick podcast. My name is Nick Glimsdahl. And my guest this week is Tim kite. Tim is the CEO of focus three. In addition, he’s also a speaker, writer and coach Tim, welcome to the Press 1 For Nick podcast.
Nick, thanks for having me. This is I’m looking forward to this.
So I asked every single guest, Tim, the one question at the very beginning. And the first question is, what’s one thing people might not know about you?
Tim Kight 0:31
Oh, that’s interesting question. Um, gosh, what what I choose, I just was popped into my head, I guess, because the Olympics are on but I was the high school national champion in the 330, intermediate hurdles, and 1971. So that that’s probably something people don’t know about me.
Nick Glimsdahl 0:50
That’s quite impressive. That is that is a feat in and of itself is running around the track is hard enough, let alone jumping hurdles and getting that lactic acid to kick in about halfway through that race.
Tim Kight 1:02
Yep. That was it was a track and field in football or my sports in high school. And I love track. It was a great sport sillas I don’t I don’t run obviously anymore. But it was a it was great back then.
Nick Glimsdahl 1:15
And it’s great. Well, you mentioned that you, you run you’re the CEO of focus three, tell me a little bit more about that.
Tim Kight 1:22
Yeah, we you know, I started the company, Nick, in San Diego many years ago, I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years. And we’re called focus three, because the three things we help clients do is develop leaders strengthen culture, and empower people. Those are the three things we do leadership, culture, and then the behavior of people. And what we’ve discovered is when those three disciplines align, an organization, a team, a company can achieve greatness, and all are necessary, we believe that leaders create the culture that drives the behavior that produces results. And we put our stake in the ground around those three disciplines, many, many years ago, and that is our passion. That’s our everyday work, help organizations develop leaders strengthen their culture, and build behavioral discipline, people.
Nick Glimsdahl 2:08
Love that I love the three pillars. Let’s start on the second one. What does culture mean to you?
Tim Kight 2:15
So our definition of culture is what people believe how they behave, and the outcomes of their behavior produces that culture is not. And we like to say that you don’t get the culture you proclaim, you get the culture, you practice, promote, and permit every organization in the world. I mean, almost everyone has a statement of core values, something on paper, which is necessary. But we believe that there are three steps to culture building, and that is paper head part, that you put it on paper to clarify it, you then communicate it so people can understand it conceptually. And then you’ve got to coach it. So that goes from the head to the heart. And we also have discovered there’s a profound difference between a concept in someone’s head, and it believes when someone’s heart, and by that definition, and then paper head heart that journey, the biggest distance make the big jump, the hardest step is from head to heart. And the reason why is because what goes on your heart is something you decide I can’t believe for you. You can’t believe for me. And and I’ve learned in four decades of cultural development, culture consulting work, that asking someone to believe in a set of beliefs and behavioral standards. That’s a very personal ask. That’s a very deep personal thing. I can you know, conceptually, I can certainly agree with lots of principles, but believe at the heart level, that that’s another step and, and so that the culture for us, we believe the definition is what people believe, at the heart level, how they behave, because behavior always proceeds from belief. And then the outcomes that behavior produces. That’s our definition of culture.
Nick Glimsdahl 3:58
Does that resonate? Man paper had heart it resonates more than more than you know. I mean, the biggest riff that I have in in customer service or customer experience to let alone business businesses, visions mission statements is they have on the wall, they write them off, they put them down, they may review them once a year, but it doesn’t go to the head. It doesn’t go to the heart. And where’s that disconnect for more? So most organizations, I mean, obviously you can’t just pinpoint in general, here’s where all the disconnect is. But is there a Is there something to point out on why people don’t go to that next, the second step into that third step?
Tim Kight 4:37
I think so. What I’ve noticed is that that leadership puts a team together, they come up with a Pulitzer Prize winning statement, they debate and they come up with stuff and graphics and marketing and corporate communication gets a hold of it. And by the way, none of that is wrong. None of that is bad, that it’s not but the problem is it’s necessary. Step but insufficient, right. And so once it goes on the wall, once it goes on a piece of paper once it goes in a written form, that’s when the real work begins. And I think this is the first step. That is the first misstep. The first mistake, if I would, is that and this is fundamental to leadership. And here’s another focus three principle. From a leadership perspective, if it’s not happening in you, it’s not going to happen through you know, the words, if it’s not on a leaders heart, then it’s not probably going to get on the heart of the people that those leaders lead. And when I say leadership, too, I don’t mean just the people at the top. But I mean, people who who lead a small team, the supervisors, the frontline leaders, that the managers out there that are there doing the everyday work and making sure that people execute, those are the leaders who have to constantly communicate and coach the culture, and then tie the culture belief behavior to strategic and operational disciplines every day. Because cultures job is to create the behavior that wins, that’s cultures job, or say in another way, cultures job is to create and sustain the behavior called for by strategy. And that means if you ask for behavior in your strategy that is not supported by your culture, you’re going to struggle execute. For example, in the world of customer experience, customer service, every company, of course, wants elite exceptional customer service, of course they do. And in their strategic stuff, and their strategic statements and their plans. They talk about and ask for commitments to customer service, and then there’s probably something in their culture statement about customer focus and managing the customer experience. Well, if the everyday frontline leaders are not talking about manifesting, demonstrating, promoting, practicing, pouring their heart into, hey, we believe this about the customer, we believe it’s about our behavior, serving the customer. And this is how we execute our strategy. If that’s not happening, it’s the frontline leaders are constantly talking about reinforcing, promoting that culture. Like I said, clarify, communicate, coach, clarify, communicate coach every single day, you can’t get a culture you don’t talk about. That’s what that’s what I’m seeing is the big gap.
Nick Glimsdahl 7:22
In the conversation that we had prior, as we were prepping for this call, you said something pretty profound. As we were kind of ripping back and forth on culture and customer experience. You said culture drives behavior, behavior drives cx and it that in and how you just said what, at the very beginning, or at the at the end of that conversation, right there was, you need to communicate that daily. The problem is, most organizations from my perspective, look at it from a quarterly business review. And they say I need to meet with this person one on one, I mean, it needs to meet with my group, and we need to have an overall company strategy. But they don’t necessarily communicate it daily.
Tim Kight 8:08
I’ve noticed that the truly elite organizations have a passionate commitment to having regular cultural conversations, I call it a cadence of communication. And when we teach leadership, we teach leadership for culture, we teach leadership for culture, for customer service, behavior, any other behaviors, safety, sales, all the things we commit to, you’ve got to talk about and reinforce, and have conversations tell stories about the culture on a regular basis. And part of it, Nick is this vision, this understanding of what culture is if people understand that culture, his job is to create necessary behaviors, customer service behavior, we understand that culture is job. And you really understand and believe that you’re going to talk about culture every day. If you don’t believe that, if you don’t believe that culture, his job is to generate and energize that kind of behavior, then you’re not going to talk about it all the time. And I think it goes down again, if it’s on your heart, as a leader, as a supervisor, as a manager, then you’re going to talk about it. You’re going to describe it and you’re going to you’re going to tell stories, and you’re also going to call it out when you don’t see it, you’re going to hold people accountable to behavior inconsistent with the culture, because there’s a fundamental cultural law if you permit it, you promote it. Yeah, behavior comes from one or two places, by the way, behavior is either taught or allowed. And I’ll say this about customer experience, and I’ve seen this again, I’m I I like being where I am in my career because I’ve seen so much I mean, I love being my age. I love having done this for you know three and a half, almost four decades I’ve noticed this the way you treat each other inside the business always finds It’s way to customer. Meaning that you will never treat your customers any better than the way you treat each other. customer service customer experience starts with experience we give to each other inside the organization. And I can’t tell you how many companies that I’ve worked with and consultant over the years who call for exceptional customer service. And then I watch the way they treat each other. Pretty good chance that that that frustration and interpersonal conflict that’s unresolved inside the team is going to find its way to the attitude and behavior of frontline people who are seeking it, who claimed it be seeking to give the customer great experience.
Nick Glimsdahl 10:40
You’re 100%? Right. Happy employees equal happy customers. No question. Yeah. And what you touched on, you mentioned customer service a couple of times. The things that I see in customer service, is they are they are by far the most expensive resource, are the people inside that customer service department. But they from my perspective, are the least invested resource and customer service are the people. So how can companies change that mindset?
Tim Kight 11:11
Well, this is why, you know, in my my passionate desire to serve our client base with, again, develop leaders strengthen culture, and then empower, equip and empower people with necessary skills, I’ve noticed the same thing, and that is that people tend to be underdeveloped in and if if behavior comes from what is taught and what is allowed. Then if you want exceptional behavior, if you want exceptional treatment of customers inside the customer service department, you better train them, you better give them skills. And here’s an interesting thing to distinguish between job skills and behavior skills. Because job skills are technical and task specific. And you got to have them I mean, of course, job skills are important in the in my job, in my role as CEO of our company, there’s a lot of technical stuff I need to know. But what what I’ve noticed is is that that job skills rise no higher than behavior skills. And behavior skills are things like self awareness, emotional management, empathy, listening, communication, collaboration, resilience, decision making, problem solving, what what is what’s horrible term, by the way, soft skills. That’s I don’t like that, because they’re, I think the soft skills are the hard ones. And I’ve noticed this about this Nick, companies hire for job skills, they fire for behavior skills. And they tend to train the most in job skills. But what comes out causes all the problems is behavior skills. And Customer service is behavior, skill, heavy. I mean, it requires robust, mature behavior skills, man, you better have empathy, you better have communication, you better have listening, you better have self awareness, you better have that emotional intelligence, radar, if you’re going to be great at customer service, you better have problem solving skills. Those are the competencies that make a difference in customer service. And they’re there and they’re learned there. They’re not they’re not no one’s born with those. No one know that those are the skills that we most need to be trained in and may also add this, America as a nation is not doing very good at training in those skills. And if you’re going to have a customer service department, you’d better train your people in a battery, a portfolio, a library of behavioral skills, that give that customer a fantastic experience, train them, you’ve got to give them those competencies.
Nick Glimsdahl 13:44
Well, I would 100% agree with that too, because behavioral skills don’t just translate to customer service, because when they go up into the organization as they continue to grow with those behavioral skills, and they learn, they are improving the entire organization across the way because not only are they understanding the customer’s perspective, they understand where their pain points are, they understand then they can lean into marketing and sales and operations and, and others. But if you don’t have the behavioral skills out front, inside customer service, that customer is only going to give you one chance to screw up. And if you screw up, it’s it’s on you and so on the organization. So I would highly recommend. What Tim just said is constantly drill your team and teach them the behavioral skills. Instead of just hiring for the job skills, continue to communicate with them, the importance of it, have them listen back and look future, our past conversations not just of themselves, but of others maybe in leadership, and train them of the behavioral skills that need to be taught to get them to understand, articulate, communicate, have empathy through that journey. Yep,
Tim Kight 15:01
so the the system that we use for behavior skill development is something we call the R factor. And that we become pretty well known around the country, in fact, around the world in certain places for R factor training. And it’s based on this equation E plus r equals O, which stands for event plus response equals outcome. And it teaches something extremely straightforward about how life works. And, and one of the great applications of E plus r equals O is customer service. because it teaches events happen, you don’t control events, you do control how you choose to respond. And your response is what produces the outcome. So E’s happen events you choose your are your response. And that’s your response that produces the outcome. And Customer service is the art and the discipline of responding to customer events in a way that produces a great outcome for the customer. And what I’ve done over the years is I’ve studied how high performers manage the R factor differently than average performers. And it’s all behavior skill. It’s all about the way you think it’s about the way you empathize. It’s the way you see the situation. It’s the mindset that you bring, it’s the belief system that you bring, it’s emotional intelligence. So we’ve studied and documented and then put into a deliverable, a training module training approach, how to develop the way people respond. The really cool thing about our factor training is that over the years, every client that puts their people through our factor training discovers that one of the first things people do is they take the E plus r equals o training home and they share with their families. Because it was I was I was not just a business or customer service thing, e plus r equals O is how life works. You experience events when you drive your car, and how you respond makes a difference. You experience events when you travel, and those who are back traveling and end, your response makes a difference. You experience the events in your interaction with your spouse or your significant other or your children, wherever you happen to live with. And the way you respond to them creates an outcome. So the ER O is a simple and powerful system for providing people equipping people with behavior skills that make a difference. And the impact of it we’ve seen is just enormous inside organizations. And it’s a powerful tool.
Nick Glimsdahl 17:38
Tim, I’ve I’ve, I’ve known of this equation for many years now. And I love it. And I’ve shared it with absolutely everybody. So anybody that knows me outside the podcast know that I continue to lean into this equation, and I’m all in. And I think it’s so important because it comes down to how do I react to the event that’s coming at me and never respond,
Tim Kight 18:04
respond, if I write on if I write for my coach a little bit here, because to us the reaction is emotion driven and impulsive. Whereas the response is intentional and thoughtful and discipline driven. Just a little this little footnote and the way we like to teach it if I might.
Nick Glimsdahl 18:20
No, I appreciate that. I 100% agree with that. It’s, it’s so interesting, because you have to actually acknowledge the situation, understand the situation and then find a way to respond to the situation. If you don’t actually go through that process. You can.
Tim Kight 18:36
You know, it’s funny you say that because the first r factor discipline is press pause. There’s six are effective disciplines. The first is press pause, to establish clarity to get clarity, and using the era system. So what we teach people is press pause, and ask yourself three questions. What event do I have? What outcome do I want? What response Do I need. And we get into trouble, Nick, because we tend to act too quickly on the basis of impulse and old habits. And what we need to do is train ourselves in this discipline of pressing pause and using this simple system, this three part system era to clarify the event, the E, then clarify the outcome, the O and add, don’t choose the R until you’re clear about the E and the O. Because impulse and and old habit doesn’t think it’s not concerned with understanding the situation. It just wants to react. It doesn’t think about consequences. It doesn’t think about outcomes. It’s just it’s just reactionary. Whereas if you take the ers system, press pause and ask those three questions. Now you’re in a great spot to say okay, all right. This is happening. Outcome I want now here’s the I call the necessary R and little footnote on that. Sometimes the necessary R is uncomfortable and something we’re not ready good at. And we tell people in our training and our coaching is, yeah, some of the most important things in life are difficult. greatness is hard it is. But be great choose, embrace productive discomfort and say yes to the difficult things. And that press pause and gaining clarity, unbelievable value for people. And I’m like you, I use it all the time. And it’s, I use it daily multiple, I wear a wristband that says, er, I want to remind myself, despite being the author of it, I need to constant reminder, it’s very powerful.
Nick Glimsdahl 20:36
Yeah, I love it. I think it’s, the more that you understand it, the more the easier that you can use it. And just like anything in athletics, it takes practice, you have to continue to find ways to, to use it, and it’s going to be uncomfortable at first. Yeah, just like jumping over the hurdles at the very beginning. That was not fun when you were a middle school trying to find a way to get over those big old hurdles through and it’d be easy to get under them. But that’s not a way through life. Well,
Tim Kight 21:04
this the era Oh brace that I am on now is the Jacksonville Jaguars colors because I was just with the Jags last week, urban had me come in and teach e plus r equals O to the team. And it’s the it’s the key to success in life period, whether it’s NFL football, or it’s been a husband or a dad. It’s just it’s just, again, it’s life. events happen. We choose responses and our responses produce outcomes. And I love By the way, I love the fact that it’s only three parts. Now, it’s not super complex, I don’t think it’s easy, but it sure it sure is clear. And and it’s not terribly complex. And so I just you know, I’ve just found great value in it. And I love teaching it. And it’s had a tremendous impact on lots of organizations and it to our topic, Nick, it directly applies to customer service. Again, because every when a customer has an as an experience, they’re bringing it to the customer service department, or they’re bringing it to somebody inside their organization and saying, Hey, you know, here’s my situation, here’s my e that I’m getting, how can you help me? And that’s all about how does that person inside the business inside the organization respond to that customer situation. And the more there’s a discipline is it’s a powerful thing. You know, another thought that I had based on our conversation that we had before in prep for this, think about this for a second. Most of the events in customer service are predictable. Not all, but most, you can map them. And we do this training. When we do er o training, we tell people map and be prepared for predictable events. Because most of the events that you get in your job and in your life are predictable. Again, not all but a lot. And you shouldn’t be surprised when a predictable event happens, you should be prepared. And I can’t think of a place that applies more than a customer service. Yeah, there’s like, yeah, we’ve seen that before. Customers, that’s something that happens to our customers. And you shouldn’t be surprised you shouldn’t be caught emotionally unprepared. You should be you should be strategic and say, again, yeah, yes, thank you for sharing that I know that happened. And that must be that must be uncomfortable if it’s something bad. And then you know what to do, because you’ve been trade. I if I if I could snap my fingers, I would I would install era, every customer service department in the world,
Nick Glimsdahl 23:33
I would do the same. I also have a ton of value in that every day. What you mentioned on the Jacksonville Jaguars, we all we are all part of a team, regardless of if we’re in athletics or not. And if you are next to a 673 150 pound guy or you’re next to the your customer service rep next to you on the left, you have to find a way to build that core and build that team as a whole holistically not It starts with you. And then it goes out. And it doesn’t matter what you said leaders are not leaders, because they’re at the top leaders are leaders because of what they’ve done and how they prep themselves to be successful for the day. Yeah, we
Tim Kight 24:19
say leadership is not authority based on a position you have it’s influenced based on trust you have earned.
Nick Glimsdahl 24:27
I keep doing this. This is awesome.
Tim Kight 24:30
It’s not a title. Yeah, it’s not a position. One of the things I love to teach is that your company can put you in a position of authority, but only you can put yourself in a position of leadership. It’s a mindset. And I’ll tell you what I personally do and and I when I teach our leadership module, it’s what I encourage leaders to adopt this mindset. Here’s what I say to myself every day. Today I get to lead with purpose. serve people solve problems and bring energy. Man, what a blessing. Not I have to, I get to lead with purpose, serve people solve problems and bring energy. And I gotta honestly say, Nick, having been in this business as long as I have and owning and running my own company, I cannot imagine and I don’t frankly want to be around leaders who don’t think that way. Because mindset, it’s exactly the mindset, it’s, it’s it learned, it’s a mindset. And and, and I will jokingly say to people, you know, when you drive your car and you drive up to the facility, you drive up to the office, you drive up to the job site, you drive up to the school, or whatever you happen to work, before you get out of the car. Say to yourself, today, I get to leave a purpose, or people solve problems bring energy, if you can’t say that don’t get out of the car, until you do say it. And then and I really deeply believe in, in mental training, and and sometimes you have to speak your emotions into existence. Because you don’t always feel like that’s a blessing. You don’t always feel like doing those four things. But how you feel isn’t the issue, what you think and how you talk to yourself. And the mindset that you feed is what matters be a little footnote here, terms of mental training, emotions respond to visual and verbal input. Emotions respond to visual and verbal input. So if you drive up in your car, and you park in the parking lot about to get out of your car and go into your job, and you’re a supervisor or manager or leader, and you don’t have specific verbiage to visualize and verbalize yourself into a mindset that wins from a leadership perspective, you’re making a mistake.
Nick Glimsdahl 26:45
Get an exception to and customer service is around. Oh, man, I got a I got to take this call again. Yeah, I took 180 calls today. And nobody responded, or everybody that I talked to was frustrated. Okay, well, you get the opportunity to solve their problem and hear them out and create a better experience for them. And it’s, that’s the mindset that you come to, you’re going to have a better outcome for that for that customer. And if you’re not, you’re gonna say, Man, this is another frustrating person, I can’t wait for this person to get mad at me again. It’s a different mindset.
Tim Kight 27:21
I just thought of this. So imagine. Let’s say that you run a customer service department. And there’s no call center, right? 50 of us, and you’re our boss. And every morning, you teach us to say to ourselves, today, I get to work with purpose, serve people solve problems, bring energy, man, I love my job. And we all 50 of us say that every single morning. Today, I get to work with purpose, serve people solve problems, and bring energy man, we love what we do.
Nick Glimsdahl 28:00
What would that how would that be different? How would what would the impact be to the customer? If you just changed your mindset? I love that man. Yeah. So I wrap up every pod every podcast episode with two questions, Tim. The first one is, what book or person has influenced you the most in the past year. And the second one is if you could leave a note to all customer service professionals. And you could hit everybody’s desk Monday Damn, what would it say? Hmm.
Tim Kight 28:28
Well, I read four or five books a month. A lot. But recently, I have been reading CS Lewis. And I just I’ve read it many, many times. But I know just, you know, I go back from the classics and revisit again. And so I was reading the abolition of man here the last week I’ve read it slipping, reading it slowly. And just wonderful. And I don’t know if you know this or not CS Lewis. And, and, and Winston Churchill were the two most influential leaders in Great Britain during World War Two during the the war in the bombings that were coming from across the channel from the Nazis, and, and the great spiritual leader of England was CS Lewis, and the great political leader was Winston Churchill. And that was I was just studying all that. And then I got reading some more of lewis’s stuff and just powerful, powerful thing. So been reading Lewis. And I think if I could put something in front of customer service, folks, how did you phrase the question again?
Nick Glimsdahl 29:32
Yeah, if you could leave a note to all customer service professionals is going to hit everybody’s desk Monday at 8am. Doesn’t matter how small or how big it would be? I would say.
Tim Kight 29:41
I’d say two things at the top, it would say e plus r equals O. And then underneath that, it would say today I get to work with purpose. serve people solve problems bring energy, man, I love my job. That’s what I’d say.
Nick Glimsdahl 29:55
I love that full circle. Yeah, yeah. So Tim, what’s up way for my listeners to define you to get your content to sign up for your newsletter to find your podcast like where do people get a hold? Yeah,
Tim Kight 30:10
sure. So our website is focus three.com and it’s the number three, the numeral three. So focus three.com is our webcast. Our is our website. And that’s pretty much the place to go now I am on twitter at Timothy kite k ni ght. And also on LinkedIn and I post is Timothy kite again. k ght on LinkedIn, I post every day something like this is the my my purpose of social media is to provide regular encouragement, insights, motivation for folks. And we do have a podcast called focus three podcast and Urban Meyer had been my co host, but he left me to go take that job down in Jacksonville. Where Yeah, I know, I know, we’re about to that we actually have recorded four brand new podcasts all on culture, by the way, which we haven’t yet posted and published. But we’re gonna get back to that on a regular basis. And we’re about to launch a new newsletter as well. That’s going to come out Monday, Wednesday and Friday, which is pretty exciting. And Monday will be a video a short video and then Wednesday and Friday will be brief written it’d be direct email, but that website has all that information on it. So focus, read calm. And at Timothy Kate on Twitter and LinkedIn,
Nick Glimsdahl 31:28
good stuff, I highly recommend his his podcast and I’ve been all over it. I I go back and listen is he does recommend, take that time and digest that multiple times. There’s some there’s some deep value in those things, a ton of nuggets, and I highly recommend it. And I’m also signed up for his newsletter too. So get up and get signed up and choose e plus r equals o today. Thanks, Tim. I appreciate your time. All right, Nick. Thank you, man. Appreciate it.
The Press 1 For Nick podcast is both educational and engaging, and each episode offers listeners a dynamic blend of insightful stories, best practices, and invaluable lessons.
Nick’s guests – each with a unique wealth of knowledge – include leaders from a variety of backgrounds and industries. Some of his guests include:
- Customer service & customer experience leaders
- A hostage negotiator
- Award-winning authors
- Home Depot’s Senior Director of Customer Care
- Former VP of Disney’s Magic Kingdom
- Lyft’s Head of Partner and Customer Engagement
- Deputy Chief Veteran Experience Officer from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
On every episode Nick asks his guest two questions:
- What book or person has influenced you the most in the past year?
- If you could leave a note to all the Customer Service and CX professionals, what would it say?
You can find all the podcast guests’ answers under their episodes below.
If all you want is the guests’ book recommendations, you can go here.