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Boots in the Office: Your Workplace Survival Manual by Fred Stawitz



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Gary Pinkerton hosts Fred Stawitz, author of Boots in the Office: Your Workplace Survival Manual. The conversation centers around lessons in the workplace. Stawitz discusses how we should relate to colleagues and subordinates. He encourages us to give our employees the tools needed for them to succeed. He explains critical factors that can shape a great workplace.

Announcer 0:04
Welcome to the heroic investing show. As first responders we risk our lives every day our financial security is under attack. Our pensions are in a state of emergency. A single on duty incident can alter or erase our earning potential instantly and forever. We are the heroes of society. We are self reliant and we need to take care of our own financial future. The heroic investing show is our toolkit of business and investing tactics on our mission to financial freedom.

Gary Pinkerton 0:39
Welcome to the heroic investing show, a podcast for first responders, members, the military, veterans, and anyone looking to improve their financial future and gain some freedom with their time. We teach America’s heroes how to build passive income, build their startup business and safely grow wealth through real estate and other alternative investments. We help current and private First Responders put protections systems and a team in place to help them build a life where they can focus on their passion, that service or product that they’re uniquely gifted to share with others, making the world a better place for all of us. My name is Gary Pinkerton and I co host this show with Jason Hartman. This is Episode 205. Today we talk with the president and founder of storymakers Incorporated. storymaker is based in Houston now pursues excellence and literary and visual arts through the creation and publication of books, scripts, videos, graphics, and other vehicles for sharing the human experience. Through this company, Fred helps businesses create effective solutions by shaping a culture that engages employees in safe, productive and sustainably profitable operations. The lessons here on what does work doesn’t work and how you relate with your co workers and how you relate with your support. It is awesome. I mean, Fred hat doesn’t have time in the military, but he understands what’s happening here with members of the military. Wonderful gentlemen, there were so many nuggets here about leadership and just human interaction. And I know you’re gonna appreciate this one. Well, that Roque investors. Welcome back. Thank you so much for joining me. As always, I think we have I think I start saying that we have an incredible guest for you. We do this time. I’m not kidding. We have Mr. Fred starlets, with our group. And so I said, Hey, Fred, let’s just start recording because every time I asked something or said something to Fred gold came out of this man’s mouth. So I said, let’s just get this on recording. So Fred, thank you so much, first and foremost, for joining us here on heroic investing.

Fred Stawitz 2:43
My pleasure. No pressure, right.

Gary Pinkerton 2:47
Yeah, be careful what you say now. So as you know, we talked a little bit off air about these are active duty members of the military veterans and brothers in service. So first responders, firefighters, police officers, MTS individuals that maybe aren’t wearing military uniforms in other countries, but they’re doing as hard or harder work and as dangerous of a situation. And they have some of the same challenges of no one really sets them up, or gives them classes on how to you know, control their own financial future. Yet all of us out there, love these individuals being around to help, you know, provide the country for us and sustain the country that we enjoy. And a lot of times, we’re not helping them so you’re out there to help them. I think it’s an amazing journey or an amazing goal. Talk a little bit about maybe background, like, Where did you grow up and what did you do in your life?

Fred Stawitz 3:35
I grew up in Kansas, but and my father was sheriff, so I’m familiar with public service and that kind of attitude toward serving society. I taught school for a while, and then I hit it, absolutely lucky and got a job at the NASA Space Program. Awesome developing training for the engineers that designed the first about 10 minutes of shuttle flight and that just launched the crew From that point

Gary Pinkerton 4:00
forward, wow, that launched into what that’s cool.

Fred Stawitz 4:04
That launched into learning and being able to develop technical training programs in any kind of corporate environment. And the benefit of developing corporate training programs is you get to see pretty much all sides of the technical process. So you learn about an entire organization, how it functions, how the operations elements function together, and what’s necessary the competencies that are required to make it all work well.

Gary Pinkerton 4:30
Nice. So you’re president of a company called storymakers? Yes. Is it for your authorship? Is there a larger, more broad purpose of the company? It’s for authorship, and then I also do publishing of other authors.

Fred Stawitz 4:44
Okay. So it’s that kind of endeavor, and also then speaking at various HR safety types of events around the world and digital technology, all of the stuff some of the latest issues with workplace.

Gary Pinkerton 4:58
So as far as the publishing Not just like getting it out there, but you’re also an editor for others. Yes. Nice. Okay. So one of the things that I asked them if you’d be okay talking about it, because it relates directly to this audience is a book you wrote called boots in the office. And the subtitle there is your workplace survival manual. And you been the audience, this podcast. Tell us about your book.

Fred Stawitz 5:25
It actually came about from relatively personal experiences. The genesis of it was I had a lunch group that we got together and would discuss, we were friends and we discussed whatever topics came up. But what was happening was that very frequently, somebody would be ready to quit on the spot when they walked in the room. I mean, they were so utterly frustrated with what they just encountered with on the job and so I would spend a lot of lunchtime talking them in off the ledge and so you may not want to quit right now. Your spouse may not be Happy to go home and announce that, oh, I quit my job. I don’t know where I’m going to do tomorrow or what I’m going to do. And that kind of started, we had to research and figuring out that there were quite a number, almost 75% of the workplaces are non supportive and have issues. And so it makes sense that people are going to have some kind of problems in there. So I started looking into how do you deal with it if you’re an employee? How do you first of all recognize what type of workplace you’re in? And then what do you do about it? And the interesting analogies I came up with was looking at the weather, everybody can look out the window and see what is going on outside and figure out how am I going to prepare for moving out and doing whatever I need to do that day. But nobody understands the science behind it. Other than meteorologists, this is similar situation in workplaces that all the human dynamics nobody really can predict, to a high degree, how those things are going to work, but the They can experience a workplace. And so this is supportive. This is sunny. This is the measurements missing in action. It’s windy, it’s a benign kind of situation. It’s low grade contention. It’s rainy. And it’s or the animosity has reached a higher level. And there’s really conflict going on there. And it’s antagonistic, it’s stormy. And then once you can do that in a workplace, you can kind of figure out what’s your plan for dealing with it. And it matches with what people in the military do on a mission is you figure out what environment you’re in figuring out what resources you have, and then how do you must have those resources to create a successful mission.

Gary Pinkerton 7:44
And so that’s the tie in of boots like you this is broader up into the point where we talked about the military, right? This was in the workplace, any employee, there’s something to learn hear from really from anyone or for anyone, but there’s a specific section. Is it true? There’s a story specific section that’s really aimed at the military and the specific challenges there. What I’ve done is the introductions are, I’ve got a representative from each of the different services that have read the book and relate their experiences in the benefit that they got from reading the book. Got it. And so that kind of leads into something we were talking about beforehand. And it’s very clear, if you kind of look into Fred’s background, and what he’s doing in his, you know, what drives him is that there’s this love for the service for the military for service providers, and I’ll throw first responders in and it’s driving some of how you give back of what you focus on who you want to serve. Members of the military talk about why that is.

Fred Stawitz 8:41
I remember back in Vietnam days, I had friends that went to Vietnam, I was lucky enough to have a high enough number that my my number wasn’t called. But I saw that there’s were and I saw what happened to them as a result in some of them came back quite changed from that experience, realizing that they were sent in defense of our democracy in defense of America, and seeing the trauma that many of them went through, and then how they were treated on the back end of that, and realizing that, that just that, thank you for your service, pat on the shoulder isn’t enough to carry many of them through what they had to had to deal with when they got back. It’s bubbled in my mind for many, many years that we need to treat the first responders, the police, the firefighters, the military, in a different manner than we do we say that we respect them. We need to respect them all the way through the process in a lifecycle that they experience. Got it. Okay. What I try to do with boots in the office is most of them are not going to retire in the military. So they’re going to come back they’re going to get civilian jobs is I try to provide some assistance in understanding how you can be successful in the civilian workplace based on the fact of the skills that you’ve learned in the military, there’s there’s other organizations that help translate those skills to particular industries. But in general, what’s a way that you can approach the civilian workplace, understand what’s going on, and be able to deal with it in an effective manner. So that then you can control your future to a higher degree, since you’re probably not going to get the complete level of support that you actually need.

Gary Pinkerton 10:28
And we say complete level support as in when you go to work there or getting hired, or both.

Fred Stawitz 10:34
Well, there’s a there’s a lot of service people in how they’ve been treated in terms of interviews, how visible HR people and how they view veterans. And my view is that veterans have a particularly important set of skills that involve a high level of leadership. And that given the right conditions and the right support structures, They’re going to do very, very well. What typically happens is that a lot of the workplaces are not as well organized in terms of a command structure, and the expectations as the military is. So you move from a really structured environment to an unstructured environment. And you don’t have a lot of guidance on how you interpret this environment, how you do it, and you just plunge forward and trying to succeed. Well, it’s the same as trying to capture a hill without figuring out what your environment is first. It’s not going to work. Right?

Gary Pinkerton 11:35
Yeah, very well put. And so we alienate ourselves and we feel alienated just by our own actions compared to what everybody else is doing in the workforce as well. I can remember showing up way earlier than everybody else in working longer and you know, alienating people around me because they weren’t on that pace and didn’t appreciate me being on that pace. Frankly, it made them look bad. It’s interesting. We come in with a set of preconceived notions is different than the people who are in the workforce. We’ve covered this subject a lot on this podcast series, because I feel like it is one of the most important benefits or resources we can provide those that are still active duty, those that are still serving in public, you know, civil service, and that is give them pointers and some encouragement that it’s not that hard to go do and some of the benefits that you walk in with is just being put together right, you know, just just like knowing how to get there on time and and figuring out the trip in on your own and figuring out what you’re going to do for and I don’t want you to say the average person can’t figure out how they what to do for lunch, that’s that’s inappropriate. But just a lot of things, a lot of life things you’ve been forced to just figure it out and get here on time in the military, help you kind of lay this a lot of the things that are they come with a daily or weekly activity at work, kind of just put those into threshold, you know, at the bottom, I’m going to worry about it. There’s a lot of advantages. There’s a lot of things where you’re giving credit for your leadership. But then we also are speaking a different language like you just mentioned, right? So

Fred Stawitz 13:08
I haven’t focused very much actually on that part of it. That leadership part, pays dividends. If you’re in a supportive environment, if you’re in an antagonistic environment, it’s going to work against you. Because you’re treading on somebody else’s territory, that may not have the competencies that you have or the leadership skills that you have. But they have the authority. As you said, they may feel intimidated by by your set of skills, they’re going to do everything they can to limit your opportunities.

Gary Pinkerton 13:38
So do you feel you’ve talked about antagonistic environment, the different weather patterns, right, or the different weather conditions is that obviously, I mean, I’ve been in command so I get that, you know, the leadership has sets the culture, the leadership determines, you know, the culture of the organization, but I also feel like there’s situationally dependent aspects of that, like a person can come to What otherwise might be a supportive organization and turn it into an antagonistic relationship for them personally, just by the way, they’ve shown up, I guess.

Fred Stawitz 14:09
Yeah. But one of the things that I discussed in the book is a technique for managing controversy. Do you think of a gun, there are a lot of different things that the military folks in the workplace can think about that they can use as tools, and one of them is in managing conflict. Think of it as a ping pong match. Somebody says something, and it may be like, what’s with that report you did? And how that individual response when the ping pong ball goes up to them? How do they hit it back? They hit it back with? Well, what do you mean, or? Yeah, is there something you saw in there that I don’t see, I agree with you. It was terrible, that they’ve got options on how to respond that either elevate or minimize the conflict between them and that individual. And so one of the skills it’s very, very useful for anybody in the world is being able to manage that conflict by knowing how to either ask questions or deflate any of the conflict and the antagonism that’s being directed toward them. Ah,

Gary Pinkerton 15:12
yeah. So relationship management somewhat and also dealing when they’re no kidding is a conflict there. I think a lot of conflicts we make on our own because of how we misinterpret how we choose to respond that

Fred Stawitz 15:24
misinterpret and then and then react instead of respond. And so a chain reaction thing, and then it just escalates. But if you think about and sometimes you do want to disagree, but think about it, is it in your benefit to disagree in that particular situation? Or is it better to put that disagreement off to when you’re positioned better to actually make an argument,

Gary Pinkerton 15:48
so timing plays into it and then also, not making it personal to the other individual? Right. I mean, they may have a personal view, but if you can, unemotionally discuss the the goal, the project, the deadlines. Things like that, as opposed to, you know, making it personal to them, then they dig into right. So that that’s all kind of about relationship management. But it’s, it happens every day in the workforce. Right? I’m running a company of one right now. I’ve already forgotten a lot of that. But you brought along

Fred Stawitz 16:14
some heated disagreements.

Gary Pinkerton 16:19
Yeah, and thankfully, I’m not recording them or I might be, you know, God is sanitarium

Fred Stawitz 16:25
runs parallel to that. His attitude. The way I look at attitude is think of it as a light switch. light switches up here and a good attitude light switches down. It’s in a bad attitude. So the question is, where do you keep that switch? You keep that switch right next to you so that you don’t let anybody else change it without your approval? Or is it sitting out on your desk? Is it out in the hallway? Anybody walked by can just throw you in a bad mood just like that?

Gary Pinkerton 16:51
Yeah, yeah. Wow. That’s some good parenting lessons learned to you. I keep telling my kids ever make Well, maybe we’ll have them have you say it or hear you say it.

Fred Stawitz 17:00
Be glad to.

Gary Pinkerton 17:01
Yeah, so I tell my sons all the time. And you know, they’re teenagers. So they’re in that, you know, learning about life and getting ready to be on their own stage, which is challenging. You know, I tell them all the time, hey, you get to choose how you respond. Even when I’ve made you mad. Anyone makes you happy, you get to choose whether you’re going to get mad or not. And that’s hard, though.

Fred Stawitz 17:18
I mean, I’ll tell you, I’ll be the first one to think about that is if you decide to get mad, think of it as going on vacation. You’re not gonna be productive during that time. And maybe you get mad for two minutes, and you’re really resilient and you can kind of kick back into gear pretty quickly. Maybe you’re mad the rest of the day and sleep on it, and you’re reset your switch the next day. But be aware that you decide how long you’re going to be mad. As long as you are in that mood of being mad. You’re not going to get much done. Make it your decision, take ownership of it. Wow,

Gary Pinkerton 17:50
that would be amazing if you weren’t led around by your emotions, but got to choose and use them strategically. Ah, cool. What about other aspects of the book that we haven’t talked about? touched on,

Fred Stawitz 18:00
there’s three main sections. One is dealing with the weather scenario, the weather metaphor of figuring out what your environment is like, then once you figured out the environment, the middle section is you’ve got two things to control within any environment. One is your level of risk. And that is how much and the way you can control that is by what assignments Do you accept, at face value? How much of that do you push back and share with the management assigned, assigned you to do that because you don’t feel comfortable with the skill set or the access to resources to actually make that happen. So don’t don’t accept full responsibility for creating something that you don’t know that you are actually able to create. And that’s more important to manage that in a non supportive environment than a supportive because it’s supportive. You can take more risks, and you’re going to have as long as they’re honest risks that are that your actions are intended to support. and enable the goals of the organization, then you’ve got some latitude for making mistakes within that, that environment. If you’re a non supportive environment, you don’t have much latitude for making mistakes. So you have to manage your risk a lot more closely. Another thing is documentation. And not in the sense of HR documentation. But just project management documentation of I was asked to do this. This is what I did. This is who I talked to, this is the results I achieve. When I worked in a space program, a shuttle flight was a two year planning project. So if you imagine if something goes wrong, during the launch, they can look back two years, who’s gonna remember what they did on on a project two years ago without proper documentation. Yeah, have the documentation that limits your vulnerability if you don’t have it, then you’re pretty much hanging out to whatever, whatever winds are gonna blow you one direction or another.

Gary Pinkerton 19:51
And I think you said three parts right. So that was it was a wet or or was there a third here yet?

Fred Stawitz 19:56
No. That’s the second part. The third part then is managing Junior professional development, if you need to add some skills to make sure that your competencies are up to up to snuff, then the company may not provide that access, you need to either access a subject matter expert in that area, maybe inside the company, maybe outside the company, maybe use LinkedIn to connect with somebody that that can provide you or guide you to connect in with those competencies. Maybe you enroll in a class outside, you have to take charge of the things that you need to continue the positive progression of your career.

Gary Pinkerton 20:33
Nice. So you got me interested to get the book? Where are we at Amazon?

Fred Stawitz 20:37
It’s available actually, throughout the world on any online venue, any of the major ones, you can walk in any major bookstore, export, and they can order. Awesome.

Gary Pinkerton 20:47
Okay, what have we not covered or better yet? In addition to that, how do they reach out to find out more information about you or from you, Fred? The

Fred Stawitz 20:55
excellent way would be to contact me on LinkedIn. It’s just read solids. I connect with a lot of people around the world and I love sharing what I know I love helping people develop. I help love helping guide them in a direction that they can be increasingly positive influences on society. Awesome. Fred, thank you so much for joining us that flew by.

Gary Pinkerton 21:20
But it’s hard to believe and I really appreciate your time with us today. I look forward to connecting again.

Fred Stawitz 21:25
My pleasure.

Gary Pinkerton 21:26
Absolutely. Thank you, sir. Bye bye.

Announcer 21:29
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