Is it possible to manage people?

If not, how do Managers hold people accountable and manage projects?

How do we distinguish between Leaders and Managers?

These were some of the questions Matthew Ward helped me to clarify my thinking on in this fascinating hour long podcast episode.



Rob: [00:00:00] You have a lot of interesting. Perspectives which are a little bit deeper than generally a lot of people go. If you’re okay, we’ll just go straight into that because I’m, there’s so many things that I’m curious about that I’d love to yeah, you go right ahead, Rob.

Rob: Yeah. So you’re you’re a history guy. Tell me where that came from. I’ve 

Matthew: been a history guy my entire life. I think the book I learned to read on was a children’s history book. So it’s been my gig. And if you if you’re at all curious and you read a lot of history, what happens to you is you start asking questions, why, and then The answers to those questions lead you to economics.

Matthew: And so I read a lot of economics. And then the answers to the whys of economics turn out to be psychology. So you read a lot of psychology. And then the answers to why for say psychology turn out to be evolutionary. So you read a lot about that. [00:01:00] And so by the time you’re like, five or six decades in you’ve covered the whole string.

Rob: That’s really interesting., I think school is to blame for so much. I’m fascinated by history. My daughters we’ve always gone to different places. And we’ve looked at like historical buildings. When you go to a new city, you look at the castles, you look at the museums . You get stories from that. 

Rob: And I’ve never been that interested in looking at the artifacts and not even the buildings or that themselves. I just love the little plaques that tell you the story and you get what happened. So my history at school was about the spinning jenny, which was the machinery of the industrial revolution and its Tolpuddle Martyrs and all of that kind of thing.

Rob: And now I look at, I see the relevance of the industrial revolution, but there was no link to it. It was just, this happened. The notes were on the board. You copied the notes of the board. There’s no interest. And I think school takes anything interesting out of a subject and they just give you the dry, most boring aspects.

Rob: My interest in [00:02:00] history really came, like you said, my first is psychology. But you start to look at language, like the way I understand how people think about things is I listen to their language. And then you start to think about the psychology is at the core is the definition of words.

Rob: anD being very clear about what we’re defining and what, how we define something and what we’re really talking about. And then that gets into etymology and so you’re looking at where did this word crop up. Culturally and how has the meaning changed or what’s the core meaning. So that’s really where I got into that kind of thing.

Matthew: We share the same curiosity because you ask why, and it takes you places, right? 

Rob: That’s it. So when you started reading with a history book, Makes me think was one of your parents, historian, interested in history? 

Matthew: No, not at all. But I had a I had one of those mothers that when you’re like a little kid, you were like an an experiment and they tried everything out on you.

Matthew: And I had the chemistry [00:03:00] sets and the Meccano sets and the railroads and I had everything, and until she found something that I really enjoyed and that sort of locked in my Christmas gifts for eternity. 

Rob: yEah, that makes me laugh because when my daughters were young, I I’d heard all this thing of expose them to everything.

Rob: So we had flashcards of art and history and all these kind of things. So there was an actual interest in history. If we could start at the beginning, what were the biggest what were the things in childhood that drove you to interests? And how has that kind of developed? 

Matthew: In terms of just my general interests or my business y life?

Rob: If we start with your general interest and then I’d like to get into where that’s at key, because I’m guessing there’s a link to, to your career or definitely your perspective on what you do, it’s probably going to be shaped 

Matthew: by. There is. Like I said I’m a reader. I’m a voracious reader.

Matthew: And also, I like to write. I’m not creative at all. I come from a creative family of [00:04:00] musicians and artists and that gene cruelly passed me by. But, writing, I can do, and I really love to write. And the more you read the better you get at writing.

Matthew: And so I, I both read and write. So those have been my general interests through my entire life. That, that, that was, what would you call it? My hobby or idle time pursuit, either one of those.

Rob: I can relate to that because reading’s always been, something that I did from very young. So what kind of books were you reading? As I 

Matthew: say I just started in just the general, like everybody, you start with the wars, right? So you read about the wars and then, as I say you get into the whys and it leads you behind the wars.

Matthew: And so then I just, then I, you branch out into social history and economic history. And I love explorers and exploration when, when I was a kid, I always say that history is just a series of stories. That’s really [00:05:00] all it is. And the stories are greater than any. Movie you could ever see.

Matthew: The craziest, wildest, strangest, most exciting stuff happened for real in the past if you just go back and find it.

Rob: Which leads me to. Out of curiosity, if you could visit and see that film of one era, one time, one situation, one war, what would that be? 

Matthew: One period of history that just absolutely fascinates me is this period leading up to the First World War, the later Victorian era, say 1880, 1890 to 1914.

Matthew: People don’t realize. And like we live in people would say we live in the most dynamic age in history. This is not true. Those 30, 40, 50 years before the first war trains, planes, automobiles, electricity, telephones, [00:06:00] rubber, it goes on and on. And all we’ve been doing since then, with the exception.

Matthew: Of the computer and the internet, which is our one great invention, with the exception of those, everything we’ve been doing since has been just engineering. We’ve just engineered better cars. We’ve just engineered better planes. We’ve just engineered better submarines but it was in those years that all those things were created.

Matthew: Out of nothing, they all happen at the same time and that period is so dynamic. It’s crazy. It’s just crazy. And people don’t realize that. 

Rob: And what do you think about that period? Why there was so much innovation? 

Matthew: The Industrial Revolution, right? The confluence of that and the eras that came before it, the Age of Reason, Age of Enlightenment, Age of Science.

Matthew: And then you get the Newcomen steam engine in about 1740, and that just touched it [00:07:00] all off. And it also helped that this all occurred in England or Great Britain. England in particular, that had the power, the prestige and the capital to spread and the empire to both draw from and spread it around the world.

Matthew: So all these things came together at this magical time in history that really cannot again be replicated. I don’t think it was a moment in time.

Rob: I totally agree with you with the Industrial Revolution because the part that I recognize and I saw was we just completely changed from a rural way of life where work was something that the family did. where the family was an economic unit to suddenly being uprooted and everyone moving to cities and you live in an artificial way of life because you’re not used to that many people.

Rob: Everyone’s used to the village. People would normally pick their partner from around the village. They wouldn’t travel very much. They would know everyone. You’re suddenly into a different world. [00:08:00] It’s changed the dynamics. What kept families together for so long was the fact that you needed the family to work the farm.

Rob: The smallholding and so work became something different. Work became something that you did for someone else. It broke up the family life it separated the income source from the family. So money was independent, which later meant that man and wife were independent. anD it’s created a working environment that now I look at all the burnout that people talking about, and I look at.

Rob: sTress that people are under and a sense of not really having meaning in their life, which was something that Marx actually talked about right at the beginning, he talked about alienation from work and all of these kind of things. 

Rob: Where do you see the biggest impact of the industrial revolution in our workplace today? It’s incredible, 

Matthew: The the impact was so pervasive that much of it hangs on today. And I’ve written about this in some of my posts for, as an example, [00:09:00] the workday.

Matthew: As you pointed out. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, there wasn’t a work day. You just did what had to be done when it needed to be done. As you rightly said, work only occurred when it left the family. But this idea of work and every way we think about work is a piece of the industrial revolution that’s still hanging on to this day.

Matthew: And we seem to be just locked into it. And these, and this is why things like Remote work now, which I also post about are so interesting because a thing like remote work directly challenges our older, heavily entrenched notions about what work is. And you can see it on LinkedIn in the comments.

Matthew: Whenever anyone posts about remote work, you can see the battle between the industrial revolution And these new ideas occurring right in the comments. It’s really [00:10:00] interesting. 

Rob: So I want to start with where your journey is taking you in terms of what you do. 

Matthew: What I do in particular on LinkedIn is I write and I post about things I know and things I enjoy. And I try to stay in my lane. And as I’ve pointed out earlier, my lanes are pretty wide.

Matthew: So I can travel back and forth a lot. But generally, I do what I like. And I would say to use the term value proposition. My value proposition is that I’m older. I’ve had nearly five decades now. In the retail field, but in business in general, and dealing with people, places and things, and I have all this experience and I’m relatively new on LinkedIn and it was my brother that suggested once I retired and I was banging around looking.

Matthew: For things to do, he suggested to me that I should be on LinkedIn because all this experience and this knowledge [00:11:00] has value and LinkedIn is the place to display it. So I wouldn’t call that a strategy of mine. I would just say that’s my brother’s strategy. But that’s what I like to do. I like to just.

Matthew: Stay in my lanes, here’s the things I know and I like and I’m good at and here I am. I, when you read my posts, that’s me. 

Rob: So those lanes that you know, and you enjoy, how how would you define them? 

Matthew: Specifically people in relationships, how people relate. And how those relationships contribute to culture, and what is culture, and where does it come from, and how do you work with it, and the management, because I’ve had my own business for years and years, I grappled with these things in the real world, these were not theoretical to me, I had to deal with them for a living, and I have all these decades of experience with it, so I’m deeply interested in [00:12:00] cultures, how they’re formed, The relationships between people, what are relationships and leadership and management, where does that come from?

Matthew: How does it work? And all the nuances of that, and there and being interested in psychology yourself, you will agree, there is an endless amount of nuance to those things. And often you see them reduced to memes, or platitudes and that’s just will not do. These are complex subjects, and what I try to do is explore them, and write about them and try to just give some idea of their complexity.

Rob: One of the difficulties of social media is about our attention span has got short. And so one of the issues of posting on LinkedIn is that you only have so much. And I tend to write a lot and I’ve had to learn, like you, you’ve just got to cut it down. And so one of the problems is it does simplify because you lose a lot of the [00:13:00] nuance by having to keep it into a short burst.

Rob: So what can happen is we talk in generalizations and I know you’ve spoken about the leaders of this and managers of this. So yeah, it becomes simplified and we lose some of the nuance. 

Matthew: This is true. And so what I try to do is knowing that, and I suspect you try to do it too, Rob, ’cause I can see it like your post our pleasure to read and I can see you struggling with this as I do, dealing with a subject that, is complex, but the limitations of a, a social media world and the format we’re on.

Matthew: One of the things I see on LinkedIn people talk about is, where do you get content? Where do you get content? 

Matthew: And to me and possibly for you, Rob content is endless because if you take a heavily nuanced, complex subject, that would be Lord knows how many posts dealing with it piece by piece.

Matthew: [00:14:00] Yeah. So there’s always if you’re curious enough and you’re interested enough, you’ve had enough experience and you’re knowledgeable enough, you can just chip away over a series of posts. And that’s what I do. I just pick a thin piece, I deal with it, but I know in my mind, I will be fleshing this out down the road.

Rob: There was a post that I did a week or two ago and I knew when I wrote it, I’d missed something out. It was everything you want, you get from other people. And I knew, I was like, except inner peace or happiness, the kind of thing that you get from meditation, you get from yourself.

Rob: But That would make it that much longer. That would make it harder to read. So I just simplified it. And it was someone picked out on it and it’s yeah, I know. Which then led to the next post. But often we can get into snap. Yeah, it can be the thing of the platform if we’re not conscious is that we get into a snap.

Rob: tHis is right. This is wrong. A polarization of ideas and [00:15:00] simplification. But yeah I find just reading other people’s ideas and my responses to them, and then I’ll generally have about three or four posts. Like ideas just from replying, just from commenting on other people’s Posts because there’s just so much stimuli.

Rob: I find it quite difficult to read now because as soon as I read a couple of pages and it just sparks off ideas because there’s some like you say if you’ve read a lot Then you have so much already a base to work on and it’s just a new idea just links together two or three others.

Matthew: Oh that’s absolutely true. And once again I can see it in your posts, but what I like to think and Maybe you think the same, I don’t know. What I like to think is that if you’re consistent about it this becomes your brand, if you will. People learn or come to understand that you have more to say, and you are going to say it.

Matthew: Nothing you write is a one off. And my hope, and perhaps it’s [00:16:00] yours, is that if you can if you can have the kind of people engage with you that understand that, then you can carry a conversation on a subject on for a very long time, because they expect it from you. 

Rob: Again, branding is often simplified with, it’s going to be these colors, these fonts, these things, which is part of it, but it’s really about, there needs to be some substance as well as the form. And yeah, it’s having a particular take and having a, I don’t know, I suppose a way of approaching something.

Rob: So for example. When I know you from your posts and it didn’t take many posts to know that you were someone that thought deeply and widely and that there was a historical context. And yes, you can get that from someone just even from a couple of posts. Oh, 

Matthew: My idea of branding and this, I also comes from my business life.

Matthew: Is branding is simply what people think when they hear [00:17:00] your name, that’s what branding is. When you hear Coca Cola, what do you think? You don’t think of the colors. You don’t think you get an image in your mind. And so it’s the same for, in my opinion, you or I doing our thing posting here. When they see your name, do they think?

Matthew: And that, to me, is branding. And we both appear to be doing the same thing. We want to be known for our content, and we want to be known that it’s readable and worth reading.

Rob: Yeah, very true. Okay, there’s so many things I want to talk about. But first of all, You alluded to your career where you had a number of retail outlets? 

Matthew: Yeah. I’m from the retail world. Yes. My whole life. 

Rob: If we can talk about, that journey that you took on to get to where you are now.

Rob: Because your journey is going to frame. Some of like your interests is going to frame how you look at things, but your journey is also part of where that focus is. And then I’d like to talk about generally where you see work today [00:18:00] and the problems that we’re facing. 

Matthew: Where to begin?

Matthew: When I was a kid 17, I hitchhiked across Canada. And I and I’m from the greater Toronto area and I hitchhiked out West as people did in the middle seventies. And I ended up my, myself and several friends, we ended up in Calgary, Alberta, and we ended up there with no money and lived rough for a while.

Matthew: And the very first full time real job I ever had. Was when I, out of desperation, just walked into a door, in a light industrial park. Desperate to get a job, to get some money. And that door happened to be Warner Brothers Records. And I ended up in the music business for a record label, Warner Brothers.

Matthew: And that sort of put me in retail permanently from then on. That’s what I’ve done from the age of 17 went from Warner Brothers, [00:19:00] went to Capitol records where I was the Western region manager, and then it came back to, my home in Burlington, which is just outside of Toronto here and all I wanted to do at that point was open my own business because I felt I could do it better.

Matthew: whEn I was 23, I opened my 1st business and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. Right up until I would say 2011, 12 ish, when I sold my business off. I the old retirement shtick. I Began writing a book that never seems to get finished. And then in a conversation with my brother a couple of years ago came the Hey, why aren’t you on LinkedIn with all this speech, and here I am with you today. 

Rob: I’m very glad that you are. 

Matthew: As am I. 

Rob: 23, you believe that you could do it better? 

Matthew: I believed I could do it better before then. I just did it at 23. 

Rob: sO what did you see were the problems that you felt that needed to be fixed? 

Matthew: I’ll try to keep this short.

Matthew: [00:20:00] When I was in the music business, this would be 77, 78, 79, the music business was going through a transition. It isn’t what it is today. And up till then it had been run generally by musicians. People in bands, people that were in bands, people that like music.

Matthew: aBout the time I joined it started to change and more professional type people were coming in. My boss, who went on to become president of Capitol Records, he was not from the music business at all, and he was unique. And this gave me a great opportunity. It was chaos, really.

Matthew: It was chaos. And as I always say, in chaos, opportunity. And I just looked around and I could see so many things that I thought I could do Better in the midst of this chaos and so that’s what I did. I gave it a shot. What could go wrong? 

Rob: tHat’s exactly the attitude I had in, when I opened my first business six months later, I was 60 grand in debt sick and [00:21:00] homeless.

Rob: Yeah in there, done it. So what happened when you opened what kind of shop did you open? 

Matthew: I researched the heck out of it and back in those days, it was, it’s not like today. Today, there’s so much money sloshing around. Anybody can get money for anything, but that wasn’t true back then. And I didn’t have a lot of money. So I looked for a business that was fairly inexpensive to build out because everything was bricks and mortar.

Matthew: Fairly inexpensive to build out. Didn’t require any inventory. And was what I thought, anyway, fairly easy to run. And that got me into, believe it or not, the hair business. hair salon, no inventory, no accounts receivable small footprint, easy leases, generally speaking, not much capital investment.

Matthew: It allowed me to get in, up, and running pretty quickly, and I couldn’t have done it really any other way.

Rob: [00:22:00] Yeah my business was a gym. But I had a friend then, he was a hairdresser and he had a couple of hairdressing businesses. Yeah, and it does seem a great business 

Matthew: model. All cash, pretty simple. Or so I thought.

Matthew: Turned out it wasn’t because the entire business model. is based on personal relationships. That’s it. That’s everything. And this is where I got my education, if you will, on the critical importance of personal relationships, because that’s all there was to it.

Matthew: Managing personal relationships. If you wanted to build more, you had to scale them. You had to develop your managers. Don’t. Everything, I can’t say it enough, everything is about personal relationships and mastering all the nuances of them was the difference between profit and loss.

Rob: So how long did it take you to recognize that? Was there a problem? So I went into the, to the gym and then realized six months that I [00:23:00] didn’t really know what I was doing and I needed to figure everything out differently. Was there any moment like that or was it smooth sailing? 

Matthew: It was a series of moments.

Matthew: As I can laugh about now, every day, a new catastrophe. I would say. That it was probably, I was probably three or four stores in and probably four or five years in before I truly figured it out. But until then, as you said, I didn’t know what the heck, I’m 23 years old, 24 years old. What do I know?

Matthew: I don’t know nothing. All you know, in hindsight, it’s just as well. I didn’t know anything because if I did know, I wouldn’t have done it. But there you are, you’re in it. It’s sink or swim, right? You got to figure it out. So it was, I would say probably two, three, four years of it was brutal.

Matthew: It was brutal because I did not understand this concept of relationships, how to manage people. The whole thing I knew nothing [00:24:00] about. I knew nothing about. And so I had to have it beaten into me over those first few years. 

Rob: When you opened at 23 what do you wish you’d known at 23 that you knew at the end? What were the kind of milestone lessons? 

Matthew: I guess it would be a cheap to say, I wish I knew everything. But to be honest with you, I don’t really have any regrets.

Matthew: I think I learned the things I learned. The right way by having them beaten into me because I respected them more and I am much more grateful for them. Now, I think I could search my memory bank and come up with a list of things. I wish I knew, but in general, I really have no regrets.

Matthew: As tough as it was, I’m happy it went that way because by having these things beaten into you, it’s pre disasters you for later, because as I grew and we eventually ended up with 72 stores. In two, three completely different cultures, Canada, United States, [00:25:00] and Quebec. And we had allied we had products and distribution centers and warehouses.

Matthew: As things grew, the stakes got bigger and the problems got bigger and the potential disasters got bigger and even more life threatening. In those early years were instrumental in helping me overcome when things really got serious because, the time to mess up is when you’re young because you have the rest of your life to fix it.

Matthew: But as you get older, the cost of messing up gets higher and higher. You don’t have as much time. You don’t have as much energy. You’re burning a lot more bridges. No one cuts you some slack because you were just a young whippersnapper and you gave it a shot, so the time to mess up is when you’re young.

Matthew: That’s the time to do it and learn the lessons and use them going forward. tHat’s my philosophy in any 

Rob: event. Yeah, that makes perfect sense because you look, as you get older, [00:26:00] you look at, your kids and the next generation and you think you want to share the lessons and save them some of the pain.

Rob: There is something about humans that We don’t really pass on lessons as well, generation to generation. We, it’s like we, if you look back at Socrates and the Stoics and all of those people, they’re all saying the same thing that, we’re saying now to our kids. There is something about humans that you have to go through that experience in order to respect it and appreciate it, 

Matthew: As the saying goes, I will die on this hill. Experience matters. We were talking about the industrial revolution and where that. came from in those years? What was the Industrial Revolution or anything in history except the accumulation of experience, right? The accumulation of experience built all of history, and so experience matters.

Rob: So just to get the nuance of that, what you’re really saying is [00:27:00] there’s enough pain there’s enough failure, there’s enough built up insight that people can see. From that, that what’s going wrong. 

Matthew: Oh, absolutely. As I always say, no experience is wasted good or bad. Switching back to history there was vastly more failures than there were successes.

Matthew: The universe of things that went wrong is much larger than the things that went right, but they were all experiences that people built on. And it’s the same in our own lives. We forget the things that went wrong, but in your life, way more stuff went wrong than went right.

Matthew: Because if you’re trying to do something, open a business, for instance the universe of things that can, there’s only one thing that can go right. You open the business, but the universe of things that can go wrong is enormous. So all these things have value. The experiences themselves have value.

Matthew: And if you let them, they accumulate, right?

Rob: SO growing from one store to 72 [00:28:00] stores, that’s a huge growth in the business, which leads to, as you mentioned a great growth in you. What were some of the key lessons? In talking about relationships, because I’m guessing the first three or four stores, you said it’s all built on relationships.

Rob: So you had to build the relationships with the customers, with the hairdressers. And then it’s expanding to, you’re having to manage the relationships with your managers and make sure that they’re managing the relationships with, that you looked after when with the hairdressers and the customers.

Rob: anD then I guess it’s area managers and that. What was some of the. Challenges that you faced along that path, 

Matthew: the single largest challenge, assuming you have the resources to chain out to build out, right? Putting that aside, and you should, the largest challenge you’re going to have. Is chaining out or cloning your culture.

Matthew: If you’re successful in, say, three stores, and you want to open a fourth, then [00:29:00] you have to take the culture that made those three stores successful and somehow copy it into a brand new location at some distant place. With all new people. How do you do that? And how do you grow or develop managers who understand the culture and can deliver it to a brand new set of people consistently and reliably.

Matthew: And as you grow, you’ll get, say, eight of these things. nOw you need some middle management, and where do you find the people? How do you develop the people that can oversee the growth and maintenance of the culture? And how do you, every time you open a new location, and our locations were from one end to the other, 2, 000 miles kilometers apart.

Matthew: How do you make sure what you’re doing, what’s happening in Rimouski, Quebec is the same thing that’s happening down [00:30:00] in Windsor, Ontario. That’s the challenge, cloning the culture. That’s the biggest challenge you have. And that’s why I say this understanding of. People, relationships, culture, management and leadership are so critical in what I did for a living for nearly five decades.

Rob: Yeah, that’s, so you were managing remote teams long before COVID, long before it became fashionable. 

Matthew: Oh yeah, if you’ve got a if you’re if you’re in retail and you have a chain of units that are not local. Then yeah, you’re working remote before the word was even coined.

Rob: So this has given you like a wealth of experience and a wealth of knowledge that you can identify culture and how it drives performance. So in terms of what in the business world what do you see are the biggest problems? Yeah, the biggest problems that businesses are facing right now?

Matthew: You have to divide it up. There’s businesses, large [00:31:00] corporations, and then there’s this new world of entrepreneurs and I guess what they’re called now, solopreneurs and people whose entire capital is their laptop and their headsets. And this is an entirely different world and the challenges they face, in my opinion, is they don’t have the ability to experience the complexities of people.

Matthew: Let me flesh that out a bit. I think people have become enamored too much with technology. Now, when I started and I was doing all this stuff I mentioned earlier, the highest tech thing in the office was a telephone. You had to deal with people. You had to go and see them. That’s not necessary anymore, and I think people focus too much on the technology, and not enough on the fact that behind all the technology, behind all the data, behind all the spreadsheets, behind [00:32:00] all the software, at the bottom of it all, are people.

Matthew: If you’re selling a product, whether it be a person, place, or thing, or yourself, The purchaser is going to be a human being, even if they sit underneath many layers of technology, they’re still a human being. And all this, and you know this, Rob, all the psychology that has existed for 200, 000 years is still sitting inside.

Matthew: that person you’re trying to sell your product. And you have to understand that. And if you’re focusing on the tools, which is just what the tech, the technology is just a tool. And if you’re focusing on the tools, then you’re focusing on the wrong thing. If you’re digging a hole, you shouldn’t be paying attention to the shovel.

Matthew: You should be paying attention to the hole.

Rob: So just to summarize that what you’re saying is I think is that a lot of businesses are looking at the technology and the complications of [00:33:00] technology, remote work and whatever, and they’re forgetting about the people which I totally I’m totally aligned with and I would even go further is that I think the same thing has happened in relationships.

Matthew: Oh, very good point. Very good point. 

Rob: My background is relationships, it’s personal relationships, it’s people dating, couples, whatever. 

Rob: The biggest conundrum is how can we be in a time when you have more choice of partners, more access to single people. And yet more people are saying they can’t find anyone.

Rob: And it’s because they’re downloading Tinder, Bumble or whatever it is. And looking to go shopping. There’s someone forgetting that on the other side is someone else shopping. aNd they’re looking for, to buy qualities as opposed to develop a relationship. 

Matthew: Wow. That’s such a good point. So let me see if I understand you dating apps in particular.

Matthew: Really, you’re just shopping for product. You’re not trying to build a relationship. [00:34:00] Yeah, and relationships are vastly more complex than products. And there’s so many products on the shelf. And you have so many options. You just click through them like you would Netflix. Interesting. Interesting.

Matthew: Cause you know, I was going to ask you about that. I was going to ask your opinion on this, on dating apps this whole thing. So that was very interesting. 

Rob: My background was fitness, stress why weren’t people sticking to the motivation happiness which then led to the biggest problems, relationships.

Rob: The biggest problem in relationships was conflict. So mediation, understanding that, and then realizing that a romantic relationship is really a great team. And if you’re a great team, then you have a great relationship. And so I was dealing with people who were stuck and trying to find their partner and they’re going, yeah, but I’ll try this.

Rob: And just really realizing that.

Rob: Helen Fisher is an anthropologist and neurobiologist [00:35:00] and whatever. And she basically studied relationships. in Primitive tribes back in history in all different cultures and, people are all saying, oh, no, no one wants relationships anymore. People don’t want lasting relationships too.

Rob: People have changed. She said people haven’t changed. They’re still evolved, they’re revolved and she says that we have three drives. So we have a sex drive to be interested in meeting people. We have a romantic drive to focus on one person. And then we have a companionate drive.

Rob: And so it’s that understanding that people are still looking to get their needs met, but then it’s realizing that what people are doing dating can become very toxic and it’s because people are, have a consumerist mindset and they’re looking okay, I want someone like this, I want someone like this, I want something like this.

Rob: And then they go out on a few dates, they have fun, they get, they get into a relationship with someone and then they don’t turn out to be their dream. anD it’s I just can’t find anyone. And it’s everyone’s looking for the person that’s going to fit [00:36:00] into their jigsaw puzzle.

Rob: And yeah it’s. And looking in, in in organizations and then looking at teams, realizing it’s about team and how the teamwork teams work together, realizing it’s the very same issues of relationships, which you’ve seen from the business context. It’s really realizing that that the whole industrial revolution has changed the way that we live, which has changed relationships. And because it’s changed relationships, it’s inherently stressful to work in an artificial environment where people are working in something that they’re biologically not evolved for. So that’s stressful.

Rob: They’re working with masks and all of these kind of things. So that really creates a place where people can’t be themselves naturally. And the structure of the great breakthrough of the industrial revolution was that it revolutionized everything. And what it did, it went from agrarian families living on [00:37:00] farms to produce specialization.

Rob: And the great breakthrough was the specialization and it was the structure and it was very, it was the logistics so that we had the planes and we could move product, we could make product at scale, ship it, which meant huge benefits. And like you say, since then it’s been, looking at data that 1870 to 1970 I think people were 50 times more productive.

Rob: And since 1970, we’ve barely become more productive. And that’s despite the computers, mobile phones, internet, all of the things that we look at as being life changing actually haven’t meant that much difference. And looking at What you’re saying about everything since the Industrial Revolution has been engineering is where I see the big problem.

Rob: Is that I’ve, I see the work has gone from logistical making things and moving things to knowledge work, which is about the potential inside someone, the potential to see something differently, the [00:38:00] perspective to come up with creative ideas, new ways of doing things to create for people to create value.

Rob: For me, the barrier to that is. It’s not artificial intelligence, but it’s emotional intelligence. It’s about being able to free people up that the workplace can get more out of people.

Rob: Yeah, that’s

Matthew: there’s a lot to unpack in there. But generally speaking that’s a fascinating take. And I would agree with you on every point. I would agree with you on every point, for sure.

Rob: In terms of that, like as in the industrial revolution, so I see the next revolution being in relationships. 

Matthew: Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah. How 

Rob: because the if we’re working to knowledge work and we, there’s been a shift where, so I think it was 1970, there was a billion people who were knowledge workers.

Rob: And so more and more work is, our work is our head, our ability. So even in retail retail, as I understand it is [00:39:00] quite heavily managed and it’s managed because we know if we put this out, this offer, we only need people to take orders. But if it was about personal selling because most retail, like if you look at mass market shop, it’s impersonal, although people say have a nice day and all of this kind of thing, it’s, we know it’s by rote.

Rob: We know that there’s a script. They have to say this. We know it’s about the money. But if it was, I don’t know, it’s hard to say in a retail outlet, but if you look at say like an advertising agency. Or a marketing agency, their ability, their value is about the ideas that they come up with.

Rob: The value of their ideas in a collaborative, psychologically safe environment where people are thriving is so much more valuable than an environment where they’ve been micromanaged. And I think the success of the past of the industrial revolution came from micromanaging or it came from specialization and standardization, and that [00:40:00] very frame of management is what now limits people, but because we’ve got our recent memory of the last two, three generations, that was what a successful manager was, but the whole context has changed. And so now we’re looking for a different style. So for me, I think one of the problems is human resources. Personally, I don’t want to be a resource for someone.

Rob: I understand it came from at that time he was making the most of people, but I think the very name is Like I’m a resource for this billion dollar company. I’m not a number. I’m a person. And I think one of the things that we don’t understand is that people aren’t resources, but people have access to resources, their personality, their relationships, their personal, their knowledge experience are the resources that we want, but the person is the gatekeeper.

Rob: And if we don’t treat the [00:41:00] person. If we don’t have the great relationship with that person, we don’t have get access to their resources. So when we can harmonize and develop better relationships then we get access to their resources. 

Matthew: That’s both fascinating and it has the ring of truth to it because you could argue.

Matthew: That people’s abilities, potential, people’s potential is unlimited in certain sense, but when you ask them to use them, use their resources to do a single task, you are artificially limiting this valuable resource that’s sitting right in front of you. Have I got that right? Yeah, exactly.

Matthew: Fascinating. Fascinating, Rob. 

Rob: Because the development of the Industrial Revolution was, the line was the innovation. And it just needed the monkey there to press the button. And now we need someone with brains. Value is created from getting more potential from people. 

Matthew: aNd of course, as you [00:42:00] point out, this whole terminology, this word resources itself comes from the industrial revolution 

Rob: and our style of organization management. All of those. We haven’t changed the structure, but we’ve changed the nature of our work, 

Matthew: right? And it’s changing fast.

Matthew: And the I think we both said at the very top of our discussion, these ideas of work are stubbornly hanging on from an era that is, long past us.

Rob: sOmething else that I know that you have strong opinion on is separation or the difference between a manager and a leader. Correct. I fight that 

Matthew: battle every day. 

Rob: So what do you see as misconceptions? And how would you like to address those misconceptions? 

Matthew: I think this is a new thing, relatively new thing in that this idea of leader and leadership, because again, I’m older, and in the past, leader and leadership wasn’t as the [00:43:00] words people used. It was being a good manager.

Matthew: Being a good operator running things. You didn’t see the word leader as often as you do today. You see the word leader absolutely everywhere. And my my beef with it is that it devalues a very important idea. And I like to think that the, if, let’s put it this way. If you are a middle manager and you’re really good at your job, you have a team that looks up to you and respects you and you call yourself a leader.

Matthew: What is Winston Churchill then? Are you Winston Churchill? No, you are not. So what is he? Follow my logic there? I think that leadership, leaders should be reserved, should be a more elite term, and it’s perfectly fine, it’s perfectly fine to be a great Stupendous, superlative, exceptional manager of people, [00:44:00] places, and things.

Matthew: That’s perfectly acceptable. And a example I often use is Henry Ford. Now Henry Ford the first was a visionary and you could say he was a great leader. You could make that case. But Henry Ford, the second who took over. One of the largest industrial conglomerates on earth was a very good manager, but no one would call Henry Ford II a leader.

Matthew: But he was very good at what he did. He was a great manager. But was he his father? No, he was not. Was he Winston Churchill? Was he Napoleon Bonaparte? Was he Alexander the Great? No. So if we’re going to call ourselves Leaders, what will we call those people? What will we call Napoleon?

Matthew: Because we’re certainly not him. That does not mean that you can develop leaders in smaller situations. 

Matthew: Someone can jump out of a situation, take [00:45:00] charge, and become a leader. In the moment, you can lead people out of a situation, as I always say, if you’re the right person, in the right place, at the right time, and you recognize it, and you seize it, you are a leader.

Matthew: But, if you’re limited in scale and scope, you’re not a leader forever. You’re a leader in that moment. Because to be a leader forever makes you Winston Churchill. Which you probably are not.

Rob: We’re defining a leader as someone who leads people to a change from a specific situation. Winston Churchill is an interesting example because he was a leader for a specific moment, he was the great leader during the war, but In peacetime, when you were looking more for a manager, he wasn’t a great prime minister.

Matthew: No, he lost the election right after the war. And when I was a kid, when I was younger, I thought, what madness is this? Who, what madness, he’s [00:46:00] Winston Churchill, how could you not vote for him? Then I started thinking about this idea of leadership, and it’s exactly as you said. He was a great leader in the moment.

Matthew: As Henry Kissinger said, a leader is someone who takes people to a place they’ve never been. Winston Churchill took the people of Great Britain to victory. After the war, the moment was gone. And he was a competent, he was the first sea lord beforehand, so he knew what he was doing, but he was not leading people anywhere anymore, right?

Matthew: He was not the man, he wasn’t the person for the job after the war, but he’s still a great leader. He was still a great leader, certainly. 

Rob: This this really resonates to me. An example I can look at is Alexander the Great. Probably the greatest conqueror, definitely of his time and one of the greatest leaders throughout history.

Rob: And he conquered most of the world taken on from his father and he extended and he conquered most of the known world and in India, [00:47:00] his army marched up and they were about to conquer. Yeah, 

Matthew: he got to the Indus river. 

Rob: Yes. And 

Matthew: yeah and all those people said, that’s enough.

Rob: Oh no maybe, but it was, he was going to conquer another land and the king there said to him. Okay, come live here. You’ll inherit my kingdom. And I’ll teach you how to be a king. And Alexander’s who are you to tell me that?

Rob: I’ll come and just take your thing. 

Rob: And he said no, you’re a conqueror. He says you can go and conquer. You’ve conquered all these lands. You’ll conquer this land. You’ll take it. But how will the people be any better? You’ll go away. You’ll forget about them. People will be no better.

Rob: He said, I’m a king. I live here. My people are better because I’m here. I’ll teach you how to be a king and make your people better. And that to me. Is part of the difference that we’re talking about when you go out and conquer you need Alexander the Great or you need Winston Churchill or Napoleon but when you want to Stabilize and you want to manage a [00:48:00] country or a company you need someone that isn’t looking to break records, isn’t looking to expand. 

Rob: Someone like Alexander the Great is restless. When these people said, we’ve had enough, this is enough. How much more? And he’s a great example because I think it’s that the one where he says I’ve given you this, I gave everything away.

Rob: All I want is the glory. And a leader, when we’re looking at it in this way, a leader is motivated by something, they’re driven and they can’t sit still. They can’t just make the world better for other people. They need that drive. It’s like a billionaire’s drive that needs more and more to have a bigger number and a bigger score.

Rob: And I think in your terminology, a manager. is someone who can keep everything running over and make the world better for everyone else. 

Matthew: I think switching to Napoleon, he had the ability to not just be a great leader, but to develop great leaders. The marshals who ran his corps were great leaders in their [00:49:00] own right.

Matthew: People like May and Marceau and all those guys and Benendot, they were all great leaders in their own right. But what he didn’t have, and he might’ve been better off with them, were managers, people that could manage. what the armies left behind, right? What he didn’t have was managers. He didn’t have those hardworking, uninspiring autocrats that just get things done, right?

Matthew: And that’s Henry Ford II. He just got things done. He wasn’t flashy. He wasn’t leading people anywhere. He just got things done. Except for the Edsel. Which was a catastrophe and he’s unfortunately remembered for, but Henry Ford the second and Henry Ford the third, they were not their father or grandfather, right?

Matthew: Henry Ford. The first was taking people places. He had a vision, right? He wasn’t just building cars, right? He had a vision to improve people’s lives, right? But Henry Ford, the second and third, they didn’t, but they were very good managers. Ford’s still a [00:50:00] big company. They’re doing great. Because of their stewardship.

Matthew: And we should celebrate these guys as being tremendous managers. Leaders? I don’t think so. But managers? Absolutely. Top of their game. Best in the business. 

Rob: That’s a great distinction and I’ve never heard that said before. And I think one of the problems is we’ve always glorified the great, it’s the great man theory.

Rob: We’ve always glorified Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Winston Churchill and with the advent of social media, which has changed everyone becoming a narrator of their life, that people are feeling they need to be a leader as opposed to being a manager. Do you think it’s some of that? 

Matthew: Leader is a much weightier term than manager, unfairly, but it’s a much weightier term.

Matthew: And I suppose it’s only natural that you want to append yourself to the weightiest term you can. I suppose that’s natural. My [00:51:00] position is. You don’t need to do that. You can be a kick ass rockstar manager and the world is at your fingertips. Truly. Managers are always in demand.

Matthew: Every organization needs managers. Large organizations need lots of them. Rockstar managers can write their own ticket. Leaders. How many leaders do you need in your business? Two would be a problem, right? But managers, you need just mittfuls of them.

Rob: I want to challenge the idea of manager because I totally understand what you’re saying. But there is one bit I have. And it goes back to People as human resources. 

Rob: I don’t think you can manage people. I think you can manage projects. I think you can manage resources. I think you have to inspire people.

Rob: And my thing is inspiring people and unite teams. And I think it’s about you align people. Because we have a different point of view on that, I recognize there’s something in between us, because I totally get your point [00:52:00] and you can’t just let people free and inspire them and just leave them to go off.

Rob: There needs to be accountability, there needs to be coordination, there needs to be support. 

Rob: I suppose my problem is with the word because the etymology of management is handling cattle. In today’s world, you don’t really want to be manhandling people.

Matthew: I can completely see your point. And if I read you correctly in a business context, you manage things, but your word would be inspire people to get those things managed. Yeah. Am I 

Rob: right? Yes actually, as you say, it’s less about the inspiration, really, inspire might not be the best word. It might be more about align. 

Matthew: Align. Okay. Yeah. You maybe it’s a broader set of words. Maybe it’s you manage things, but you work with people to get them managed. 

Rob: WHat would make sense to me is you would manage the relationship, but, there is a connotation of managing people to me, that is about [00:53:00] control.

Matthew: Absolutely. And I would say that most people would see it that way, but when you said relationship there, it got me thinking about this a little more. You manage the relationship between people and things. You don’t manage the people. You don’t manage the things, you manage the relationship between them. 

Rob: That is really where I see it, is I think you can manage the relationship. 

Rob: But the problem Is the industrial relations been a hierarchical thing where management has controlled the person? Like you can go to the bathroom this time. You can do this.

Rob: This is what you can do. So it’s about managing the relationship. Makes exact sense because managing the relationship. means that you’re aligning people or whatever the words are you’re inspiring them and supporting but managing people Is setting someone up for failure.

Matthew: This is me here. This is me right now. Making notes, Rob. [00:54:00] Splendid. I love that. Managing relationships. Thank 

Rob: you. Thank you. I’m, you’ve given me a totally different view of leadership because I’d seen your post and I saw, and I got the point. We’ve taken something which is a specific role to lead a change and we’ve made that into the everyday life.

Rob: And in doing so we’ve done a disrespect to the role of a manager. 

Matthew: Disrespect the role of a manager. We’ve devalued the role of the manager and the role of Winston Churchill. We’ve devalued it at both ends. 

Rob: So it seems we need leaders. So someone like a change leader is a true leader and we need a role of a leader.

Rob: So then in your view, management would be about managing relationships as well as resources and projects. 

Matthew: Okay. And in fact, do you really manage a a stapler? Do you? No, it just sits there no matter how much you yell at it, what you manage, as [00:55:00] you pointed out so well, the relationship between the person that’s responsible for moving the stapler and the 

Rob: stapler.

Rob: aNd I suppose you’ve managed resources because you have a budget, you have a warehouse of stock or whatever. So you’re allocating resources, maybe? Yeah, 

Matthew: That’s part of your job as an effective manager to make those decisions when you allocate resources. It’s a bigger job than, we’re just talking about it now.

Matthew: Psychologically. And it’s obviously a bigger job that the reports have to be filled out, that inventory has to be, there’s things that have to be done, but in terms of the in terms of people, then yeah, I think managing relationships is spot on.

Rob: That’s great. You’ve clarified something it was in the back of my head and I thought that’s not a hundred percent right. It’s going to be, it’s going to be 

Matthew: fun, Rob, because managing relationships is going to show up future posts by us both.

Rob: That’s what I think we need. That is what knowledge work is and it’s come about because of, [00:56:00] discussion and a willingness to change perspectives, looking for for truth, really. I think we all have seeds of truth and somewhere in the friction of exchanging ideas, we come up with a better version of truth.

Rob: Thank you for your time. 

Rob: I’ve loved the discussion. This is really enjoyable. Time talking to you 

Matthew: for me as well, Rob.

Matthew: It’s so great seeing you face-to-face and hopefully we get to do this again and I look forward to it and I’ll I’ll see you in the comments, buddy. 

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