Garry Ridge 00:03
Imagine a place where you go to work every day, you make a contribution to something bigger than yourself. You learn something new, you’re protected and set free by a compelling set of values and you go home happy.

Adam Baruh 00:27
Welcome to The Change where we share stories and inspiration from servant leaders who work to destigmatize mental health issues and increase psychological inclusivity in the workplace. I’m your host, Adam Baruh. What does it mean to be a great leader? Does it mean an attention to bottom line success? Does it mean that a company’s stock price is going through the roof? Here on the change, we discussed the great resignation, often, it’s a real thing, a factor that every business owner should pay close attention to if they aren’t already. Because more than anything, the trends we are seeing with the great resignation are a reflection of how people are making decisions today regarding their careers. I’ve often wondered if the great resignation would have occurred without the pandemic, part of me thinks this trend was inevitable. But the pandemic turbocharged, its acceleration, whatever the cause, one thing is for certain business will forever be changed. This isn’t some temporary event that will go away. People want real and meaningful change with respect to their professional lives. Here to discuss the great resignation and the future of leadership is Garry Ridge, culture coach and chairman and CEO of WD 40. Company. Hey, Garry, welcome to The Change.

Garry Ridge 01:40
Good I Adam, it’s great to be with you.

Adam Baruh 01:43
Yeah, so happy to have you here. So, you know, one thing that struck me as I was, you know, putting this episode together, is you’ve clearly been in business for a while you’re an established CEO of you know, a major company. And yet, you described in one of your articles, I think through your blog how it was, I believe, if I’m not mistaken, being on a flight and reading a book by the Dalai Lama that kind of propelled you towards this. I don’t know if reinvention is the right word, but just this clarity for you in the direction that you want it to lead for yourself and becoming a better business leader, as a culture coach. So why don’t we start there? And, you know, give us a little bit of perspective, in terms of you know, where you were at, kind of in that time in your life when you had this realization?

Garry Ridge 02:38
Yeah, thanks. Thanks a lot. Yeah, that goes back a while I’ve been CEO of WD 40. Company for 25 years, I’ve been with the company for 35. And in 1997, when I was given the privilege to leave the company, as the CEO, I’ll admit it, I was scared, I really didn’t know how to create a culture that people really wanted to go to work and were respected. And that the phrase that I read that you’re referencing, I was on a 35,000 feet, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean in the middle of the night, flying from Los Angeles to Sydney. And I was reading some of the work of the Dalai Lama. And the Dalai Lama said, our purpose in life is to make people happy. And if you can’t make them happy, at least don’t hurt them. And what was clear to me was, there was a lot of leadership behavior, where people were actually leaders are actually hurting people, and not sending them home happy. And I truly believe that happy people create happy families, happy families, create happy communities, and happy communities create a happy world. And more than ever today, we need a happy world. So my journey on that started way back then, about 25 years ago.

Adam Baruh 03:55
Yeah, and, you know, I guess, tell us a little bit about the business landscape at that time. Because, you know, what, what were you witnessing in terms of other business leaders that had this perspective? Because I can’t, you know, going back in my own mind, I can’t recall that it was really mainstream to have such a, you know, focus on employee first and, and, you know, going beyond productivity and being driven by, you know, just creating a world of happiness.

Garry Ridge 04:26
No, you know, it was about the bottom line and how you got there, it didn’t really matter, because it was, you know, to be seen as successful. It was, how profitable were you? But, I think what, what really helped me and in a tremendous way, as I said, as as becoming a new CEO of a public company, that’s a huge responsibility. And I needed to learn the techniques of, of how to build a, an enduring culture. You know, imagine a place where you go to work every day, you make a contribution to something bigger than you So you’ll learn something new, you’re protected and set free by a compelling set of values and you go home happy. So I looked around, and I found a master’s degree at the University of San Diego. It was called The Master of Science in executive leadership. And it was a program that was put together by the university and Ken Blanchard. And I applied and I was enrolled in this master’s degree, and that probably one of the greatest teachers of servant leadership in the world. Dr. Ken Blanchard was my professor. And from that learning, I then said, I’m going to try to take these learnings of servant leadership, which were so important, and put them into practice at WD 40. Company. And we started that, and back in the year 2000. And back then, there wasn’t a lot of talk about employee engagement, there wasn’t a lot of talk about, you’re creating great places other than those that make profit, and we want it to be different.

Adam Baruh 06:10
Yeah. And I, you know, I’m curious, you know, where this comes from, like, how, you know, where this side of your leadership perspective came from? I mean, was this, you know, did you grow up in an environment that was very, you know, supportive of, you know, people and differences and emotional intelligence, and that sort of thing? You know, if I guess, if you would just, you know, give some perspective as to like, where do you think this emanated from within yourself to be this type of leader?

Garry Ridge 06:41
Well, you know, when I was growing up, I didn’t really realize the influence that a number of people were having on me, until I was given the opportunity to lead myself and years subsequent to doing that master’s degree, I wrote a book with Ken Blanchard, we co authored a book together, called Helping people win at work, a philosophy about not making people’s papers and helping them get an A and in that book, I actually talk about the people who influenced me as I was growing up, not only my mom and dad, dad worked for the same company for 50 years from when he was 1615, to when he was 65 years old. My mom who lived till she was 99 years, nine months old. You know, it was certainly someone that was always the cheerleader. But then I worked in the local hardware store in the local sporting goods store in the local dry cleaners, I worked on milk trucks, and each one of these individuals were showing me ways that leadership shouldn’t be that until later in my life, I didn’t realize the lessons I was learning. And I can give you a very little example of that. Yeah, I worked at a place called Five docks Ford store. And five dock was a suburb that I grew up in Sydney, and the owner of that was a guy by the name of Jack Lambert. And in those days, they used to do repairs to tennis rackets in the store itself. So you know, in the back workshop of the sports store, Mr. Lambert would be out there, actually stringing tennis rackets. And I remember Mr. Lambert’s hands. He had calluses on his hands, because he was pulling what they actually call cat cat, then I’m sure it wasn’t get cut through and tying it really hard. And you know, it was you could tell his fingers would sometimes bleed. And I still remember vividly walking out to him one day and saying, that hurts Mr. way. But why are you doing that? And why are you putting so much effort into that tennis racket? And it’s a bit like the story about who packed my parachute. Mr. Lambert said, the person that is using this tennis racket tomorrow is depending dependent on the work that I do today. So in anything you do, remember, you’re doing something to help someone else play a game. That’s their best game. And that was just one of the things I reflected on so but really, it was, you know, when I became the CEO of a public company, I went, Wow, I wake up every morning, and I have the the opportunity to either make a positive difference in people’s lives or not. And that making a positive difference to me. Adam was absolutely more refreshing than not making a positive difference.

Adam Baruh 09:35
Absolutely. You know, and hear in 2022, especially given the great resignation, you know, for leaders to make this type of concerted change. There is kind of mainstream support behind that or there’s a lot of dialogue so people kind of, you know, people are understanding, you know, why these why it’s important to have a people first type of management styles. But you know, back, I’m curious, you know, your experience back in the 90s, when you began to, you know, as your role as CEO, and you began to implement some of these employee first changes, what sort of what were you met with, I guess in the business community and perhaps among your, your board.

Garry Ridge 10:19
If we ignore him, he’ll go away, because he’s been drinking too much again, Blanchard’s Kool Aid. But there was also something else I read that really was very impactful on me. And it was written by Aristotle, who was born in 384 BC, and Aristotle said, pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work. So my case to our board and our leadership was, if we created an environment, where people absolutely, in most cases enjoyed what they were doing, do we feel that they would do a better job? And if so, if they did a better job? Would they delight our customers? And if they delighted our customers, were our customers come back to us? Again, and again and again and again? And in hard times, would people get up every morning and live our just cause, which is, you know, a group of people that come together and protected feed each other? And the answer was, yes, because you can have the greatest strategy ever. Let’s add a mu and I write a strategic plan, we could do that. Let’s take it over to Harvard Business School, give it to some really smart professor and say, give us a mark on our strategic plan. And he said, Yeah, he or she said, yeah, no problem. They greatest 70 out of 100. Fantastic strategic plan. Oh, so good. But what about if only 20% of the people who go to work every day in the organization are actually engaged and enthusiastic about executing that strategic plan? Well, if you did simple math, right, this is pretty basic. 20 times 70? Is 1400. What’s your outcome? 14. Let’s say 80% of your people who went to work every day, were enthusiastic, and motivated, and encouraged to execute that strategic plan. A B times seven is 5600. Now for a dumb guy like me, that made sense.

Adam Baruh 12:26
Okay, I’ve read your, your articles around the soul sucking CEO. So I’m, I’d like for us to get there. So like, as you know, as you began, you know, this, this focus on on yourself, you know, with this perspective on your team, I guess what, what did you see in yourself? I mean, what did you have to learn on in terms of maybe some belief systems that you had, or belief systems, just in business in general, that you had to power through and, and demonstrate, you know, in order to let me let me put it this way, what were some of the measurements for yourself, and for the marketplace, in which, you know, this work towards creating happy and valued employees? What metrics were out there that you could demonstrate? Yes, this is actually working.

Garry Ridge 13:21
Personally, if I look at myself, one of the other great mentors I’ve had is Marshall Goldsmith. And he’s named the number one executive coach in the world. And I met Marshall, because I use his book, what got you here won’t get you there. The 20 Bad habits that great leaders have in the class that I teach at the University of San Diego. And what became clear to me was, I probably had every one of those attributes in some degree of abundance as a leader. And one of the things that we learned in the class that I took the master’s degree I took was, you have to understand who you are, before you can lead others. And when I went through that evaluation, you know, in the DISC profile, I was a turbo d be brief, be bright, be gone. That’s, that’s out. That’s a hell of a soul sucking. See. So I had to be aware of the behaviors that I had, that weren’t creating a culture that was appealing to many people. So it was first The first lesson is the first learning moment is and I you know, I coined the phrase, Bill learning moment, because, you know, one of the things that we’re always afraid of is failure. So let’s turn any failure into learning. So one of the things I had to learn was to be self aware what what don’t I want to be and in fact, what I wanted to be when I understood that was much more comfortable than what I don’t want to be. So, you know, early on, we started doing employee opinion surveys in our organization, we were analyzing ourselves. And as we did that, we saw that we were growing the trust and the psychological safety we had in the business, because people were actually ended up saying, I love to tell people, I work at WD 40. Company. And it wasn’t because we were giving them free pieces on a watch. It was because we were trained treating them with respect and dignity, we cared about them, which means our our empathy, aid our ego, instead of ego, no empathy, we were candid with them, which means no lying, no faking, no hiding, I believe most people don’t lie. In organizations, I believe they fake and hide because of fear. We were holding them accountable. What does that mean? It means we were very clear around what an AE look like? What does it look like? If for me as a as your leader, and what does an AE look like for you as the person I leave. And importantly, we took the word manager away, and we replaced it with coach, because our job as leaders, is to be a great coach, and what does a great coach do? A great coach observes the play to improve the players play, so the player can win the game. And most managers micromanage particularly Alpha salsa, CEO. And then thirdly, we said we’re going to hold each other responsible. So there was a lot going into the mixture of this petri dish that we call it, that, that builds culture. When I was in school in Australia, many years ago, my science teacher gave me a Petri dish. And the science teacher said we’re going to grow culture in this petri dishes. Sounds pretty interesting. What do you have to do? So first, you have to decide what are the ingredients you’re going to put in there to make good culture? So you decide what that is? Now, what do you do you watch the petri dish every day. Why? Because as the owner of that petri dish, you need to ensure that no toxins were getting in to kill the great culture. And if they were you treated them and you took them out. And you have to do that consistently.

Adam Baruh 17:18
Yeah, I want to definitely echo that, because that was my experience, too. And I think we spoke about this when you and I met last on how you know, for, for my company’s suite centric, I’ve been which I’ve been running for five and a half years. It was truly, you know, the pandemic, and, you know, some pretty severe anxiety that I was going through, where I kind of had a revelation that I had some pretty severe impostor syndrome, and I needed to address it. And so I started working with a coach and, and really, you know, like, to your point that you started with, and the last response was, you know, you have to be true to yourself, and you can’t try to lead, you know, trying to check other people’s boxes, right, you have to be true to yourself, you have to be authentic, and you have to have self awareness. And I think, you know, for me, you know, what I look at for, you know, great leaders is always like a very heightened sense of self awareness and also vulnerability and authenticity. And so, you know, why do you think, you know, why do you think, I guess with this great resignation trend, why, why are we seeing more and more? How conversations around how important these are in leaders and why do you think that was perhaps missing? You know, before the pandemic and business leadership?

Garry Ridge 18:42
Well, you know, as you’ve heard me say, I am I am calling it not the great resignation, but The Great Escape, people are escaping toxic cultures. So, before COVID People went to work, and a percentage of them were engaged, unfortunately, a low percentage, the rest were kinda okay. And they went home and life was okay or even good. So, okay, and okay, or okay and good put together means life is okay. And then COVID Here, suddenly, the work environment became more toxic, less connected, and life was not okay. And so we had not okay, not okay. And in that circumstance, people said something has to give. So they either unfortunately, in some circumstances, that was relationships that fell apart, but in a lot of circumstances in the business environment. People going to work so I’m not putting up with this anymore. This is not my I can’t have not okay, not okay. I just can’t do it. I’ve got to find something different. So they escaped toxic cultures. So my question is, Are people escaping from your toxic culture or escape in to your non toxic culture. And I think that’s what we were seeing now in the marketplace. So, you know, leaders should have got a very significant slap up the side of the head, and a big wake up call. Because people are not going to put up with this anymore. The L type leadership where, you know, hours the master of control, he thinks he’s corporate royalty, I think learning is for losers. The ego eats the empathy instead of empathy in the ego, they have all the answers, they must always be right. They love a fear based culture, I think micromanagement is essential. They don’t follow through on their commitments, they hate feedback, all of those behaviors that are causing these toxic cultures. People not gonna put up with it.

Adam Baruh 20:49
Couple things on first, I will ask this, I read when you were talking about The Great Escape. And you just described, you know, it’s an escape from toxic cultures, but you wrote about also how it’s part and escape from their current careers and workplaces, but perhaps more of an escape to a fresh start a renewed even revised sense of purpose. So, you know, the the second point that I wanted to make in this old form into a question is, you know, during my intro, you heard me talk about putting the question out there did the great resignation, you know, with this trend of people leaving their jobs to do something different? Do you think that without the pandemic, we would, we would see this type of trend, whether you know, it’s an escape or resignation, whatever you call it, you know, how much did the pandemic play into that?

Garry Ridge 21:47
Oh, I think it amplified it. As I just said, you know, they people weren’t happy at work, and they weren’t happy before, but home was okay. So I think it absolutely amplified the situation. And it really, people said, I have to do something different. I’m not going to put up with this for much longer. I cannot, it’s not my life. So they, they are looking for the different things in their leaders.

Adam Baruh 22:15
I want to, you know, in regards to the great escape or resignation, I want to I want to read a comment that you made, and then get your your perspective on it. “Transformation, even upheaval is universal. It’s also timeless changes around us all the time. The only open questions are the order of magnitude, not our choice, and the way we respond, our choice. And more to the point of this piece, the ways and this is in regards to this article that I read. The ways we choose to lead support and nurture our workplace culture and community of cherished relationships, makes the difference between a healthy tribe of engaged enlivened tribe members, and the millions of resumes that are in circulation to them.” So yeah, I’m just looking for your perspective on, you know, I guess change workplace culture, given the fact that like, change is universal, and we can expect it, you know, this type of change that is more of an empathetic form of leadership, a compassionate form of leadership, this will stick around for a while, like this will be immune to change, right? Or how do you see change, perhaps enhancing this, this concept that we’re speaking about now, in regards to leading with compassion and empathy?

Garry Ridge 23:33
Well, you know, changes is really an interesting word. Because again, I’ve said it’s the degree of change. And what we’ve had in the last two years, is a an enormous degree of uncertainty. And uncertainty is a series of future events that may or might not occur. And at the beginning of COVID, there was a huge uncertainty, you know, where are we going to die from all of this. So, you know, changes is, is is just dynamic, and then you pile on top of that the, the unrest there is in the world, changing in the environment that we’re living in, and what’s causing the anger. That’s, that’s just, you know, oozing out in a lot of areas around the world. And it’s just, there’s some sad stuff going on. And that’s coming from somewhere. And it’s got to be coming from people’s feelings. And those feelings are are ignited. But you know, we, we are really a social animal, and we’ve got to get back to a point where people are feeling like they belong. And unfortunately, you know, during COVID belonging was not big because that connection was broken. So I’m hoping that this is kind of a right turn in the right direction, because it is so severe. And the evidence is there, it is so severe, the amount of people that are deciding to do something different, but, you know, at the end of the day, you know, we, as businesses have the greatest opportunity to make a positive difference in the world, it’s not an end our business was business will thrive if we do it, because Damn it, Aristotle was right, pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work. And this is not about, you know, soft, this is not soft, and it’s not easy, it’s hard. And it’s hard. Leaders have to have a backbone of steel and a heart of gold, you know, and you have to have both those things together. So it’s not about just singing, singing Kumbaya on a Friday afternoon, and free pizza, you know, you have to have a clear purpose, you have to have a clear set of values that protect people, and you have to applaud them and reward them for doing great work. But you have to be a great coach, and you have to be brave enough to spend enough time on the sidelines, watching the game, and enough time in the locker room, feeling the culture to be able to help those players improve their game and take the prize on the podium.

Adam Baruh 26:25
You know, something I’ve spoken to my coach about quite often are, you know, this is kind of in relation to empathetic leadership. Blind Spots on and it’s something that I’ve, I’ve dealt with, I’m still trying to, I’m trying to, you know, understand where that that fine line is between, you know, having to run my business, but also trying to be an empathetic leader. For me, one of my blind spots, you know, as an empathetic leader is always wanting to trust people and give people the benefit of the doubt, which isn’t a bad thing. I mean, that’s, I still want to have that, you know, as my my first and my first response is trusting and just assuming everybody is always, you know, doing the best. So it’s been hard for me, like when there’s been employees who just were struggling to perform, you know, obviously, it with empathetic leadership, you know, reaching out trying to see how you might help this person. But there, there is that fine line, like I said, where you’re still you, at the end of the day, you have to run a business. So, you know, talk to us a little bit about maybe perhaps, where you’ve experienced blind spots, or maybe some advice for, you know, leaders who have this employee first empathetic approach, like how they can deal with blind spots and what that means to be an empathetic leader also.

Garry Ridge 27:50
So great question. So if you go back to my my comment about values, a set of values that protect people and set them free. So trust is important. But this there have to be boundaries to protect people. So let me use this little story as a as a way of thinking about it. Let’s say that we have a paddock with a fence route. And in that paddock was a herd of sheep. And on the other side of the fence, were packs of hungry wolves. What would be our responsibility as a leader of that herd of sheep or that flock of sheep? It would be to protect them from the wolves. So how would we do that? So let’s assume that our values are what the what the sheep like the feed on so in the center of the paddock, what do we do, we put the food for the sheep. So whether the sheep spend most of their time wandering around the center of the organization around where we want them to be, if that food wasn’t in the center, they would be tempted to go out to the side of the paddock, and get under the fence looking for food and get eaten by the wolves. So trust is really important, but you have to have boundaries to keep people safe from themselves. So in an organization, a compelling set of values that protect people and set them free is very important. Because that gives you the vehicle to have a higher degree of trust because you’re doing your job as a leader, you’re protecting them as well, without that boundary. Without that protection, people will get under the fence and they will either intentionally or unintentionally or they could be they could be enticed to get further and further and further away. You know, people ask the question, Well, should we do that? Well, I think its okay, well, it’s yeah, maybe if we interpreted this way, but, and they slowly, slowly, slowly get towards that fence, and then they get under a wolf heater. And our job is to keep them inside. The other part is we’re not perfect you and I, in no way are we perfect, you know if this if people could see us now you can see me now you see behind me there’s a whole page full of post it notes up on the wall. They’re all my reminders of who I want to be. Because I can’t remember who I want to be all the time because I’m just bumbling my way down this path of life. And the world pulls me off. Yeah, it’s the outside world that will pull me away from where I want to be. Even on my computer screen right here, right now, I have a post it note. And it says, Am I being the person I want to be right now. And then it says who is that person and I have a list of who I want to be. I want to be grateful. I want to be caring, I want to be empathetic, I want to be responsible. I want to be a listener, I want to be fact based. I want to have a balanced opinion. I want to be curious, I want to be a learner. And I want to throw sunshine not a shatter. So why would a guy in his 60s who has been a leader for 25 years need a stupid posted note on his computer to remind him of who he wants to be? I’ll tell you why. Because I’m not perfect. I have to keep reminding myself, because the world will try and drag me into places I don’t want to be.

Adam Baruh 31:35
You know, thank you for sharing that. And I’m so glad you know, you. You open yourself up and you know, expressed that we are not perfect. I mean, I think I mentioned that same thing in my last interview that I had, where the goal isn’t to reach some Nirvana state where it’s just perfection, and then everything in life after that will just flow smoothly and to the to the you know, the quote that I gave before, it’s like, you know, there’s circumstances outside of our control, life is always going to be testing us. And it’s always going to throw challenges our way. And, you know, personally, I mean, I, I spend years struggling over those challenges, you know, with this mindset of this isn’t fair, I’ve worked so hard. I mean, even we had a tough q1, NetSuite centric. And you know, last year, I really, I really look back reverently on 2021, it was just such a year of growth for me personally, and a lot of hard work also. And then q1 For us comes around, and it almost felt like, you know, we went back to like, 2018-2019, when, you know, we were just kind of starting out as a company. And I, I remember asking myself, like, why is this happening? And even making statements like, this isn’t fair, I worked too hard last year, to be back to where I am right now. Right. And I’m just now gaining a perspective that, you know, this is just how life is it’s going to have ups and downs, there will be challenges, and thank God for them. Because when those obstacles are put in front of us, it really is a time of learning a time of perspective, and a checkpoint, if you will, to say, you know, my Am I on the right track, because I’ve, I’ve invested all this time in growth and learning. And here’s an obstacle again, the choice is mine, how I’m going to react to it. And even I was talking with my wife last night, just, you know, saying, you know, I think I think I’m I’m in a more content place than I’ve ever been. And it’s not because my business has reached X state, or, you know, whatever, like, my, my podcast is, you know, reach this number of downloads, right? It’s not about that. It’s just, I feel when these obstacles come up, that my response to them is reflective, and it’s less reactive. Right? And so, um, you know, I think there was this notion, perhaps, in this old way of businesses, that of how businesses were managed, where you can’t really show weakness, you can’t show vulnerability, you have to project strength, you always have to project that you’re on the right track. And so, you know, how do you look at the future and the future of leadership given, you know, this message I was just kind of describing where, you know, really the lesson is to to achieve that sense of self awareness and, and authenticity.

Garry Ridge 34:54
So much so and, you know, just over the weekend, I was listening to a piece by It’s called Living from a place of surrender the Tethered soul in action. And it’s a series of lessons by Michael singer. And he basically says that, you know, there’s the world around us that we that will enter us. And we either reject something or we accept it. And if we reject something, we put a lot of energy into rejecting it. So it’ll always come back on us. So we just need to surrender to the things that really, as Buddha said, life’s life’s difficult. So good. What are the as you said, and what do we learn from those difficulties? And how do we put them into? How do we put them into action? And how do we let things go? I mean, that’s one of the biggest, the biggest challenges I’ve had over time. And I’ve got down to just asking a couple of simple questions. Did I do what I thought was right? Yes. Did I do my best? Yes. If both of those answers are, yes, take a deep breath, make peace with yourself and let it go. Because you don’t have room to fill all of you your backpack of life, with all these things that weigh you down, that in the end, not going to help you walk the path you want to walk.

Adam Baruh 36:25
Yeah, um, so I was just jotting down a couple notes I wanted to follow up on so um, let’s start out with this. Let’s start with your your framework for success. I read on your website, you have Garry’s Framework for Success: People, Purpose, Values, Execution and Freedom. Talk to us a little bit about that.

Garry Ridge 36:45
So, you know, people, it’s all about the people. Again, I learned a long time ago that there is no way that I could, you know, achieve everything on my own. You know, as Ken Blanchard says, you know, not one of us is as good as all of us. So, you know, we need their own purposes, you have to have a purpose in life, my purpose in life would became clear to me, when I read that piece about the Dalai Lama, our purpose in life is to make people happy, if we can’t make them happy, at least don’t hurt them. You know, values are one of the guiding lights, the boundaries that are going to help you be the person you want to be right now, you know, a value is something that you hold more dear than something else. And that’s important. You know, execution is around, you have to do things, you’re at the end of the day, you can’t just have a lot of blah, blah, blah, you have to actually make things happen. And then, you know, the freedom part is, you know, I’ve often said that people in organizations who have freedom, ie, they know that where they can play and where they can’t play, performed better than anybody else. So, you know, I think those people purpose values execution and freedom, are really important in putting together the framework.

Adam Baruh 38:09
Yeah, absolutely. So I, you know, I think a lot of people listening here today are probably going to be curious how you actually put that into effect at WD 40? Companies? What are the actual ways in which you implement these and implement your, you know, culture, culture, first empathetic leadership approach? Like, how do you guys actually do that at WD 40?

Garry Ridge 38:32
We’re intentional. When we talk about we’re intentional, we say, you know, we have a, our purpose, our The reason we exist is We exist to create positive lasting memories, solving problems, and factory sounds and workshops around the world. There’s our purpose, why don’t we get up every day, to create positive, lasting memories, it’s actually our second value, we value creating positive, lasting memories and all of our relationships, you know, so you’re having a purpose of people, dedicated people, philosophy, that people are going to be the ones to help build our business. We’re purpose and values. Execution is pretty simple. It’s, you know, is what I expect from you, here’s what you expect from me, let’s hold ourselves accountable for that. And then the freedom part is, we openly say that if if you can make any decision you need to make in the company as long as you use our values is the basis for making a decision and we don’t make mistakes. We have learning moments. So we want to reduce fear. Finally, we have to be a great coach. Every but we took the word manager out of our vocabulary, we don’t have managers. Yeah. Manager. Your report your coach is the one I like that and, and the coaching relationship is a two way relationship. I have a responsibility to you. And if you think about it, Having to redirect somewhere, it’s a lot easier as a coach to be able to say to the madam, I was, I have a commitment to you. And that’s to help you get, you have a commitment to me, you want to get an A right. But we have that. Now, I was observing your play. And here’s what I saw. And I believe that if you were to change that play, because of this reason, there’s a bigger chance that you’re going to score the goal, you want to score your that would make them a try, you need to make, and that’s the whole, that’s what takes the fear out of having to redirect people. Because if you’re just redirecting people without that commitment to each other, it’s what Why are you picking on me? You know, that they’re, they’re? No, no, no, no, we made a commitment, you wanted to get an A, I was I entered into this relationship as a coach with you, because you wanted to get an I, and my commitment to you as they help you get that I by observing your play, and giving you feedback around how you could I believe, win in your game. And I’m going to do it by spending a lot of time on the sideline, and a lot of time in the locker room with you.

Adam Baruh 41:10
So what does that relationship look like between coach and employee? Or tribe member? I think I read you describeyour the the team is kind of within a tribe. Right? So what does that relationship look like? Does it look like frequent chat like one on ones?

Garry Ridge 41:31
It looks like, as I said, spending a lot of time on the sideline. So yeah, it’s one on ones. There’s formal and informal interactions, you know, in our talent development, our talent system, you know, we we have a formal part of it that we expect at least every 90 days, for the coach to sit down with the person they’re coaching, and talk about how that person is moving towards getting their A, and it’s up to the person they’re coaching to tell them where they think they are. So a typical conversation might be Adam, you said, this is what your ad looks like? And I’d sit down and say, okay, Adam, that’s what you said, your ad look like? How do you think you’re Where do you think you are? on that? what’s getting in your way? Are there obstacles? And you would tell me, and so what I’ve observed this, can I give you this feedback on that? And how do you feel about that? So that formal part is in place. In that same conversation, we asked the people we coach to share with us how they’ve lived our values in the last 90 days, 90 days, we only have two measurements of values, you either live them or you visit them. So for example, our second value is we value creating positive, lasting memories and all of our relationships. Tell me, how did you create positive lasting memories, and who did you create them within the last 90 days, we have another value as we value doing the right thing. And I’m giving you an example. That will as defined by our value, we’re how you did the right thing. So that formal parts in play, but then there’s the inform, there’s the informal part of doing it as well, or the when you need to. And let me give you an example of when you need to, and how your values help you do that. I’ll refer again to our second value, creating positive lasting memories and all of our relationships. I was in a meeting some time ago in offices, and there was a group of us together, and there was someone in that room who was not creating positive, lasting memories. They were having a horrible morning, you could see that toxin just flowing out. So what do you do in that circumstance? Well, how the soul sucking CEO would probably reprimand that person right there and then embarrass them, your chair, cut them down? And what would that do? It would embarrass the person but more importantly, everyone else in that room would think to themselves when and when am I going to get cut down in public? Again, that’s not going to build any safety. So that doesn’t work? Do nothing doesn’t work, either. So what did I do? At the end of the meeting, I said, Hey, Adam, let’s go for a walk. So we walked outside of our building, and I looked in a trash can. And I’m looking behind a car behind the tree. And Adam says, What the hell are you doing? To Adam? I’m looking for you. What do you mean? The you I know and love to always is striving to create positive lasting memories was not in that room today. What’s on your mind? what’s getting in your way? Are you okay? And that’s how you would use the value to open the conversation, to be able to have it. So we had a conversation that we flushed out. You need to have you just had a bad morning. And we were able to do I was able to do a little coaching and say, you know, observing that play, it’s not going to do well blah, blah, here’s what you might think about at the end of it, you know, shook hands and had Adam went back inside and visited a couple of people at the meeting and said, Hey, that wasn’t me, and they all said we know it was a new buddy Where are you today? What did I notice the next day people going down and say, Hey, Adam, how are you today? Is everything okay? Yeah. Are you okay? Mate? There’s that’s true coaching. But it’s true coaching showing love.

Adam Baruh 45:13
Yeah, I love that. And you know, I read this. This concept you wrote about called the “I’m okay. You’re okay. Quadrant.”

Garry Ridge 45:22
Yeah. Transactional Analysis.

Adam Baruh 45:24
Yeah. So tell us a little bit more about that, like, what is, you know, their surface level? Are you okay? But then there’s, you know, actually, you know, being able to get to the root cause of what may be happening in someone’s life. How do you, I guess, describe this, this idea of that I’m okay, you’re okay quadrant, and, you know, what it takes to, I guess, you know, get get more of that honest feedback.

Garry Ridge 45:47
I think, funnily enough, the simplest thing is to ask, are you okay? So, you know, in a great business relationship, we both want to be okay. You know, if I’m not okay, and you’re okay, then, you know, I’m feel like I’m being the loser. If, if I’m okay. And you’re not, then you’re the loser. But it’s, it’s, it’s so simple. You know, what, if you had a sales guy working for you, and he missed his sales target for three months in a row, owl, the soul sucking leader would run in there to chew the person out. But what if you went in and said, Hey, I noticed you haven’t got your sales target in the last three months? Are you okay? Doesn’t that open the conversation? For some say, Well, this is what’s going on. And it’s a conversation that’s having the time just to dig in and ask the questions.

Adam Baruh 46:39
So, you know, you just made me think about an earlier conversation I had in one of our early episodes, where we spoke about Michelle Dickinson was the guest that day with me, and she was sharing a story about how she was going through a divorce. And her her performance review came up, you know, with her with her supervisor, and she, she got, you know, a lot of poor scores, and where normally, you know, she she did well, on all of our performance reviews, and, you know, she was kind of like negatively reviewed with her employee or her employer saying, you know, something to the effect of, you’re not your bubbly self these days. Michelle. So, where I’m going with this is what’s your take on the performance review? We’ve had a number of conversations on this podcast about, you know, this, this idea of the performance review is that, you know, in this day and age, are they okay to implement, right? And then, you know, what do you think happened, you know, with Michelle’s performance review, where her supervisor, you know, again, couldn’t really look below the surface. And, and, rather than asking, Are you okay, just, hey, you’re not your bubbly self. So I’m going to downgrade your your rank?

Garry Ridge 48:01
Well, the book that I wrote with Ken Blanchard is all about how performance reviews as they were, are really awful. You know, normally, in the old in the, and too much today also is, someone sits down and they have an annual review. Well, what good is that? You know, it’s like, well, here’s, I want to talk about you and your last year, and here’s some areas that I think you could have improved on. Or why didn’t you talk to me about 350 days ago, and we could have started working on it. So firstly, in most performance reviews, the time lag is useless. Number two is there’s no clarity around what does an ad look like. And the person giving the review is reviewing, not committing to helping people actually get an A. So you know, I think the old type before and, and then we got really clever, we started putting them on electronic systems, so people could tick boxes and come up with grades that were unrealistic. He didn’t performance is an ongoing coaching opportunity. And we need to be talking to people on an ongoing basis around why don’t we agree that he looks like and how am we going to work together to help you win your game? And this once a year stuff, it’s useless?

Adam Baruh 49:19
Yeah, I totally agree with that. Alright, so as we wrap up here, I have a final question for you. And it’s, you know, in regards to the future of leadership, you know, we spoke a little bit earlier on in this interview about the future of leadership, and I’d like to revisit that like, where, you know, where where do you see the future of leadership heading.

Garry Ridge 49:44
It comes down to a complete commitment to the fact that we as leaders are here to serve our people. And if we serve our people, they will do their best work. So I think empathy plays a larger part in that I think clarity play As a larger part in it, I think clarity around the values and the boundaries are really important. And this, you know, emphasis on helping others win. I think that’s where it is. And vulnerability and openness. You know, as I said, our the soul sucking CEO thinks he’s corporate royalty or she thinks she’s corporate loyalty. They have the biggest office in the place, they never go to the canteen, or the the canteen, or they have tea or coffee or whatever with the tribe members, because someone’s bringing them coffee or tea to their desk. To get it. Leadership is a contact sport. And we as leaders have got to be in contact with our people and listening to our people, and doing listening to us and hearing what they say.

Adam Baruh 50:44
Well, that is a beautiful way to end today’s interview, I want to thank you so much for being my guests here today. I know um, you know, as as chairman and CEO, WD 40 company got a lot on your plate, and you’re, you’re a pretty busy guy. So I really appreciate you taking the time to join us here today.

Garry Ridge 51:02
Look, it’s my my privilege. And I really don’t like the word busy. I think I have an abundance of worthwhile work. And sharing this with you today is worthwhile work, because hopefully, some of the folks that are listening to the great work you’re doing here will hear some things that will really motivate them to take a real look at who they are and what they’re doing to others because life is a gift. Don’t send it back unwrapped.

Adam Baruh 51:27
I love that. Thank you so much for closing with that. As chairman and CEO of WD 40 company Garry Rich has helped reignite excitement and create cultures that foster breakthrough innovation in companies and workplaces in over 62 countries. In addition to his full time role at WD 40 company. Garry shares his experience and insights externally through executive coaching, consulting and speaking. Garry is also an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego, where he teaches the principles and practices of corporate culture in the Master of Science and Executive Leadership Program. In 2009, he co-authored a book with Ken Blanchard outlining his effective leadership techniques, titled “Helping People Win at Work: A Business Philosophy Called Don’t Mark My Paper, Help Me Get an A.” You can read more about Garry on our website, Our theme song and sound engineering was provided by Shane Suffriti. You can listen to more of Shane’s music at If you have a story to share about making a difference in the lives of people you lead, or if you want to tell us what you think about our podcast, send me an email at Thank you all for listening. We’ll see you next time on The Change.

EIQ Media, LLC 52:49
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