Ep. 20, Reclaiming Purpose and Clarity at Work w/ Pierce Brantley

by | Apr 13, 2021 | Podcasts, The Virtuous Heros

Podcast episode

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About our Guest

 pierce brantley

 

Pierce Brantley is an author, speaker and businessman. On today’s show he discusses his life’s work in helping others find their calling and gaining clarity and purpose to their work. Pierce has successfully launched, run, and sold his own company, served as an executive for multiple acquired companies, and consulted with numerous Fortune 500 companies through his company, Invicta Business Consulting. He is also the co-host of the Eternal Entrepreneur podcast — a show for faith-based business owners, and the author of three books including Calling: Awaken to The Purpose of Your Work.

 

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Hannah: Thanks for watching our podcast! Here at Spirit Consulting, our services include business strategy and human resources consulting. In HR we offer executive search executive coaching and work psychology consulting. Please visit us at spiritmco.com, where we fulfill our client’s dreams virtuously. Enjoy your show!

Chris: Welcome back to the Leading Virtuously Podcast. So excited about our guests for today. Pierce, thank you so much for being with us. I know you’re just going to be breathing fire today. So why don’t you answer our first question, which is always who are you? 

Pierce: Chris man It’s a pleasure to be on the show. I have a, I love the content you guys have been putting out.

And so it’s just a, it’s a huge honor to be here. I got three different tracks that I stay in. The one big one is authorship and that kind of transcends everything else I do. And I’ve got a book Calling: Awaken to the Purpose of Your Work which is about helping us find the existential thing that we were supposed to be doing with our lives so that we are on the right path and we get into it quickly and that we love it.

And then that boils down into everything else I do, which is product digital, product consulting helping the best companies in the world build the best software in the world to transform people’s lives. And so I do that and I do a lot of public speaking and stuff as well. So as the trifecta, but I love it.

Chris: I love it. So good. And thank you for communicating that as, as well. I’m always curious Pierce when people have been able to launch out and to be an author. Can you tell us a little bit about your leadership journey to where you are? 

Pierce: Yeah. My leadership journey started way out in the boondocks of East, Texas as the oldest of nine kids and grew up in a pretty poverty-stricken kind of environment.

Chris: Nine kids? Whooo!

Pierce: And I tell you what all from the same parents, as far as I know, and we had a couple of dogs add onto that as well. Extreme circumstances met with extreme numbers from a family perspective, really gave me a grid for managing tons of personalities needing to help take ownership, even from the idea of putting food on the table from a really young age.

And that gave me a lot of confidence. To strike it out on my own. I the first job I ever had was working for myself, I was able to build a company and sell it age 26. And from there getting to share some of those experiences with others have really provided a foundation as I’ve gone through the rest of my career.

Chris: That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing. So why nine kids? 

Pierce: Man, I think that was I will ask myself the same question because I probably won’t do the same thing, but

Chris: You gotta continue the legacy, what are you talking about?

Pierce: I know I’ve I, anytime I broached it with my wife she thinks I’m crazy. And it probably would be, I think they just want it to be open to what they believed there, the almighty was asking them. And and I honor them for that. And it gives you a ton of friends right out the gate.

And so it’s cool. 

Chris: Yeah. So I’m one of six and my parents now have a 21 grandchildren with the 22nd on the way. 

Pierce: Oh my goodness. That’s awesome. 

Chris: We’re you know, if we don’t, we’re not feeling in love with the current culture, we’re just building community. Yes. I know a lot, I can’t imagine what nine must’ve looked like growing up, but I can imagine, I know what six looked like. And so it was just a beautiful disaster in that hot mess of the journey in that way. 

Pierce: They say it’s cheaper by the dozen. I say after five kids, it starts to all just be the same thing.

It’s a big family feel and everyone’s helping everybody. 

Chris: So I know at least for, in my own journey that, that unfortunately, there was a lot of maybe some warts and vices that I had to overcome in order to feel like I was honing the leader than I am today.

Can you talk a little bit about that own, your own journey in that as well? I, I say that with the expectation that, for you to be able to branch out, to go from that upbrining. Branch out, create an organization, sell it by 26. I would imagine that you were probably in a lot more mature and a healed state of mind than I was at that point in my life.

So maybe it wasn’t as, as much of a journey, but yeah, I just wanted to throw that out there to before we started to dive into the virtues, because sometimes when we just talk about virtues first, I feel like people are then like, oh, look at this guy. Who’s way too pious. I can never reach that level of excellence.

Pierce: No, absolutely. I actually, I really enjoy that question. I’m glad you, I’m glad you asked it and absolutely not. So I say the two things that are top of mind for sure that I had to grow out of, and it’s really been a continual process is one letting go of what I call is a poverty mindset, which is the idea that lack is basically the state of the world and that you have to.

Constantly work to basically escape, lack, and a part of that was coming from living below the poverty line, my whole life. And then the outcome of that, which is workaholic ism where I would spend, easily Chris’ 18 hour days, seven days a week. I would just absolutely not stop.

Wouldn’t take any time off on the weekends. And all that was because of a belief that if I stopped. Basically anything good would disappear. What’s really interesting about that is I think that is definitely something that unique that I’ve had to work through. And and stuff. What I’ve seen is that’s true for a lot of entrepreneurs, too, that if they don’t build balance into their lives they’re so bought into their own vision.

But they’ll forsake some of the things that are right in front of them. And so it’s really healthy in order to be a holistic leader in order to really be present to everything that is in your life to realize that there isn’t lack, there’s really an abundance and you need, and your own focus will help bring that out and find that and then the other is that, basically to share that out.

Going back to my own life and that, I’ve seen from a leadership perspective back to the original sort of question. There has been times when, I’ve really encouraged guys. Oh. And you’re calling it quits at seven o’clock. Go to nine. If you’ll put a stretch, go in there and just start working until nine o’clock every night, you’ll find good things from it.

It’s always worked well for me. And I didn’t realize, I thought I was, I thought I was basically being a banner for hard work and what I really was doing was being a banner for isolationism. And that’s definitely something I’ve had to work through. On the other side of that, there’s a lot of really good things that come from focus.

Knowing why you’re working. I think so often we will work hard and we don’t know why we’re working. Or we get just really into the gutter or into the ditches digging and we don’t know where we’re going. So all of the growth from that has been good for sure. And and learning that there’s a balance has been really good as well.

Chris: Yes, that is an awesome answer. Thank you for just having the courage to be able to share something like that. So now I’m also now the follow-up question that has got to be, so how did you get set free from that? 

Pierce: I think it was a lot of things. One was my now wife just saying, Hey, I know this is normal for you, not seeing you in the evenings, all that kind of stuff is having an effect.

And we went through that through the our dating period and I realized, you know what there are other ways to do that. And then just. From a faith perspective for myself. I really believe that good things come without sorrow. That doesn’t mean there isn’t sacrifice.

That doesn’t mean there. Aren’t good that there isn’t an exchange, a healthy exchange of the entrepreneur needs to get used to there is for sure. The, but. All that being said the best things come in life from actually like what you say from having a virtuous perspective and leaning into that those can be the guard rails, so to speak of your life.

And when you put them up, you’re focused in what I believe is the orient of the universe. That things are going to go in a direction that, that are good because you’re operating from a standard operating procedure, which is virtuous.

Chris: So Pierce in, in, just to clarify too, was it like an ultimatum from your which I think you said wife, or was it just this isn’t working and you were just like, recognize okay, maybe this is this is not the way that I need to be. If this is going to be a long-term relationship, I’m just trying to really get an understanding because.

And the reason why you’re probably why Chris why are you making me do this? And you’re probing really deep right now. But I think about the fact that the pandemic making us all, like regardless of your working situation, most of us are now at home. And a lot of people have talked about the fact that the work-life balance has actually gotten worse.

From working at home because there is it’s so easy to basically be like, okay the kids are in a good spot and now I didn’t work earlier. So I’m just going to work work, and then, and there is no having that healthy balance. So I think your story of that reckoning of understanding that I think can be really helpful.

Pierce: Sure. Yeah. I’m happy to go deeper on that. I love the challenge too. So no, one of the things I love about my wife is that she doesn’t give ultimatums. We’re not really in an ultimatum relationship. What we do is we have. We respect the fact that when people, when each one of us bring something to the table, we’re doing it with the intent of love and we’re doing it with the intent of trying to help bring out the best in the other person.

And so that was how she brought it forward to me. And I recognized it too. I think when I was in my early twenties I just to give some examples, I would do. Sometimes two all-nighters a week. So I do like to 48 hours stints of work and, first off the body just can’t do that indefinitely.

And there’s a practical part of that. Just, you just can’t do that indefinitely. But even I don’t know if your Enneagrams or Myers-Briggs, but I’m like an INTJ three, so I’m have a disposition for work anyway. And so I would look at ways of working around the clock and stuff like that.

Keep your mind focused. And when I just really realized was, there’s gotta be a reason. There’s gotta be an intent for why you’re doing all of this work. You say it’s to build a company, but at a certain point, once your needs are met. Why aren’t you getting off the hamster wheel? And that’s a really good question.

And I think for any business owner to ask is if things are operating effectively, why are you still doing it? And she brought that up to me and I’d seen the need for it anyway. And so it, it just made good sense to start working on that. And, I’d helped to kind of to work through that too, but it’s one of those things now.

So now I check myself, I’ll give you a quick practice. I just started a new contract fantastic contract with a fortune company and we’re doing some great stuff and I’d gotten a message after hours about, connecting me to someone. And I was thinking, old Pierce would have, oh man, this is 2:00 AM.

I’m going to prove that like I’m on the ball and respond to this instantly. And now I realize. Whether I respond to it now or not, doesn’t change the momentum of the project. It just doesn’t. And so having time to recognize when I’m going to be on and when I’m going to be off makes me a more present person, both to my work, into my other relationships.

Chris: Amen and Pierce. Do you guys have children together? 

Pierce: Yeah, we do. We got a little girl she’s brand new right out of the oven. It’s two months old tomorrow. So we’re, I’m over the moon, new dad. The dog is less happy about it. I’ll tell you that much demoted quickly 

Chris: Yeah. And the reason I bring that up, because yeah, to your point.

When you start to, it’s just being present, trying to be present in all situations. And if you are grinded out at work and you’re not being present to the people at home, and then on the same and vice versa, if it’s just it’s not a healthy thing to be able to constantly, always be on, because then one relationship is always going to say, And and thank you so much for communicating that.

Cause I feel like, yeah, let’s like, I guess the other thing that I was thinking about in my own mind, Hey, like it’s a little worrisome, I don’t know if it’s like another time zone, what it is for it to be sending out emails at two in the morning. But I’m also thinking, if I’m partnering with someone, do I want someone to be, grinded out at two 30 in the morning because it’s like, Are we really going to have a good quality of life to be able to like when we are at work to really be present to those around us, et cetera.

Pierce: It’s crazy that you bring it up because I think it’s actually systemic and building a good culture which is one of the reasons that. Being a business owner is building a good culture is ways to combat that practically, but you look I think it was a CEO of Alibaba here recently said that the new standard for work needs to be 90 hours a week.

That’s how much he works and that anyone who works for his company needs to get used to that. Just being the new norm and that you hear it, you just it’s everywhere. Go look. People are living under their desks over there. To the conversation of a virtue. You think about it in practical terms.

Okay. If I’m providing value. Then that value and I value myself. Then that’s going to have some kind of effect on one, what I charge and who I work with as well. Knowing your values helps you to find alignment, both from a costing perspective and a business relationship perspective. And that in and of itself is healthy because I know probably anyone listening to this, maybe Chris, even yourself, there’s been point been times when.

An offer was made and you’re like, man, I would love, that cashflow, I would love that little boost, but something tells me that this is not the right person to get into bed with, or this company isn’t the right, but there’s going to be an exchange here. There’s going to be a cost here. That’s going to be more than just my time.

It’s going to compromise something that, that I believe in. And and having those values helps you put up good guard rails, and I think will actually make you a more profitable company too. 

Chris: Amen. You wrote this book Pierce and just wanted to ask you how does a calling clarify and approach to leadership.

Pierce: So Calling is the existential reason for why we do what we do. And I believe every person on the planet has one. If Calling is a compass, I think virtue and leadership are the wind and the sails. So if you know the direction you’re supposed to head these other two things, virtue and leadership are really going to.

Determine how much push you have in that direction. Because all things being equal. We see some people who are really living it out strongly like yourself, and others where you see all the potential in the world. You ever met someone and they’re dripping with potential. And they’re just there your heart breaks because they’re not living up to it.

Chris: Unfortunately just got dragged through the news. I don’t watch the news. Some people in my network. Tell me about that. And so just thinking about oh man, looking at his career and how just those kids just continually feeling like you’re you it’s like almost, it’s just like constantly through this flow of like hitting the peak of his career.

And then all of a sudden it’s. 

Pierce: Over and over again. Yes. It’s tragic. I love, there’s a a quote I love and it’s you can gain the world, but you can, you lose your soul. And I think that’s what happened when you have talent. That’s detached, that’s siphoned. That’s separated from your call.

The great thing about knowing your existential why you’re here and what you’re doing is it gives you clear. So practically the best of leaders, can’t be all things to all people, right? Moses, couldn’t be all things to all people. You look at some of the other great leaders, different people in politics and anyone you would aspire to.

No one can be all things to all people, knowing that, knowing what your calling is going to give you focus, because it’s going to say, this is where I should develop my leadership skills and leadership is a lot more than just okay. Am I, eating last assignments or am I raising my lid so that my leadership, technical skills are growing leadership theory.

Leadership is about knowing exactly how, what you do fits in line with the vision that people can get behind and can grow in. And All of the technical skills and soft skills and and ways of white boarding out what you are capable of doing in the world. Won’t matter a lot. If you don’t have that internal sense of direction that tells you where you do and where you don’t go.

Chris: I love that analogy that you just gave of the calling is the direction and essence leadership and virtue are the wind pushing the actual boat in that direction. That’s such a beautiful way to look at it. So thank you for that clarification that I feel like that’s very educating and helps me just get a sense to the work that you’ve been doing as well, Pierce.

As it relates to yeah, I just want to think about some can you share some examples of where you’ve been able to help others like clarify their calling and how that has manifested within their own lives and the work that they’re doing? 

Pierce: Sure. Yeah. And in so many ways, I feel like I’m at the beginning of this but what I would say is, the book has been a big part of that.

And specifically working with men to help, raise good families. I feel like a lot of the lessons that, I’ve learned or been able to learn to actually come from really bad examples. I’ll give you an a I’ll give you an example here. So years ago I was actually after selling my company I had a boss and they they had said, Hey, here’s what we need you to do something.

So I did it. And then About two or I worked til about 2:00 AM on the project. I remember it was two or two 30 and the next day they asked if it was finished and wasn’t finished yet. And I said I said I said, I worked, till two 30 on this, I’ll do my best to get it done.

And they blew up and they said, did I asked you to work until two 30? Or did I ask you to work until it was finished? And I was like, my gosh I really felt like I’d put a S I was trying to be sacrificial, and prove myself there. And they absolutely, weren’t buying it. And but then on the flip side of that, they had an internal virtue and they told everybody in the company, this was that, Hey, listen, is.

If your client has a need that they’d say like at 2:00 AM in the morning, they use that example again they said, you should be the person they call you should be on call for anything, even something in their personal lives. And what that did was it created a lot of dysfunction because you didn’t know.

Where the separation between, what where your work ended and where kind of being an advocate for someone you didn’t, your clients ended. And one of the things in recognizing that that kind of dysfunction, I was able to really work with everyone within the organization to say, okay, listen, where do boundaries exist?

If you know me at all, I love boundaries because I think they’re healthy. And working with my, immediate executives there helping them to make good decisions, helping them not to get bulldozed, all that type of stuff was all part of it. But anytime you know who you are, it lets you be in a chaotic situation.

And almost be agnostic to it. Like I can be in some of the most stressful situations you can imagine. And it’s not that I don’t feel it I’m still human. But be pretty unmarred by it because I have a really strong internal sense of my own direction, it’s that whole compass analogy again, I’m headed north.

All the people in the world had an ease make no difference to me. 

Chris: So that makes me beg the question is to them, what was the response to that client? 

Pierce: So well with it was with with the boss. So it ultimately ended up having to part ways. So we’d had those conversations and. So I had a VP colleague who was with me and he had done something similar and he’d really sacrificed himself to try and meet a certain goal cause certain KPI in the company.

And then he got disinvited from a huge client meeting from, from our mutual boss and. He was really frustrated and discouraged by it because he’d worked really hard to use the language he’d really taken ownership of part of the company. And then to be disinvited to this huge, it was like a national level type situation or potential for it was really disheartening.

And so I remember being in the car with this, with his boss and saying, Hey, This guy has really put forth the effort here. You, we talk about ownership as a, as like a, as a big time leader. That’s what everyone wants. This guys is taking it. And I kid you not. What he said to me was Pierce.

You said there’s one thing that I live by. If I see someone performing well, I make a point not to encourage them. You said, I can’t let people thinking that they’re doing a good job here. If they do, they’ll get a big head and they can always take over larger parts of the company, you said, so it’s important.

He knows he’s in his place. And so it was like shocking, Uber, shocking. You’re like what kind of what is what world is, this guy living in, but I say all this. Sometimes. 

Chris: And how does someone like that rise to that level? It’s like, how is this? 

Pierce: There’s two sides of of what I’d say is leadership.

And I’ll we’ll use the term leadership loosely. There is influence. Where someone says, I want to do something because I believe in the direction that someone is going or the mission that someone is going in. And then there’s manipulation, which says, if I don’t go in the direction someone is going, something bad is going to happen.

So one is encouragement based and one is fear-based. And I think for anyone who is really wanting to grow their own internal leadership, it is extremely important as a leader with integrity. To know that you are motivating people through encouragement and not through fear. Even if you personally have fear about the unknown, do not ever leverage that as a way of getting outcomes out of somebody else because ultimately it’s lowercase a abuse.

Chris: Thank you for sharing Pierce. What a story. And yeah, I can see how, being able to know your calling know where you’re heading, helps you to really have clarity when you butt up against people that you know, are going the exact opposite way. And just saying this is not my value system.

This is not what I want for my career, what I’m currently doing. And no level of compensation is going to be worth this toxicity for me personally. So I need to clearly it’s time for me to be able to move on at that point. So thank you for that. And thank you for just, that witness and courage for others.

That probably are also in. Just thinking through, I hate to use the pandemic, but, and with us, being able to grind out that many more hours I’m probably am actually know for certain that with revenues down in bosses, being able to wanting to get more out of their employees, it was already a thing where we do more with less.

And then you add ignite above that with the pandemic. And that’s just a recipe for. Toxic leadership things where people are, feeling like, unless they’re putting in the, 50 hours to 90 hours a week that, whatever, that one guy that you said 90 hours a week is the new norm that you are not going to be on this team.

And. Yeah. So thank you for that. And I hope that inspires others to, to think through if they’re up against that type of leadership to really think to themselves, is this a place that I want to be, and is this a place where I want to be able to grow into as well? So thank you. So the other question I had for you Pierce isyou, so we, I feel like we covered the.

The calling question and looking at how virtue and calling work together in that regard wanting to hear you speak a little bit on, on how does differentiation such as branding get affected by virtue and a company’s values? 

Pierce: Absolutely. I’m really glad you asked that question.

So I love you. If you go to spiritmco.com your website, and you’ve got these values listed here, like joy, patience, self control, kindness, humility, integrity, faithfulness, honesty. I love them. I absolutely loved them. Because they say something about your character and the character of people that you’re going to attract.

The great thing about knowing your value. And accompany is it actually creates brand differentiation as well. So let’s take the the virtue of. Let’s say that you value joy. Not just being a happy person, but the sentence of consistency and said fastness and in a world of chaos that is going to have an effect on everything.

If you really own that, it’s going to have an effect on your standard operating procedures. It’s going to have an effect on the way you approach marketing. It’s going to have an effect on the way you lead your team. The company that, for instance, that comes to mind is Zappos. I don’t know if you’ve ever read the guy’s book about how he created the shoe company and he’s sadly he’s passed now.

But I think it was called the business of happiness. And that was because that was one of their values. And so the thinking on that is, Hey, listen, if what, how do you with a virtual company, how do you get people to express or find joy in shoe shopping? It’s by actually meeting them exactly where they’re at giving them options, discoveries, and then if they don’t want some.

They’re exchanging to be absolutely perfect. So you’re creating delight, right? In the mind of the consumer and that’s all rooted from a background value that the consumer will never see, but they will feel in every interaction with the company. And so I think the admonishment, the encouragement to, to business owners, when it comes to.

Really owning your virtues is thinking about down to the last detail. How do my virtues play out practically in such a way that they differentiate me from the competition? Because they can, they really, absolutely. They can.

Chris: Yeah. Thank you. You did your homework, so thank you to your reading up on, on spirit consulting and the values and virtues that we list as our core operating principles for the organization. And yeah, I think that you gave brought a lot of clarity there because I don’t know if I’ve even as a business owner myself have gone to that level of detail and thinking about, okay, here are each of our virtues and values.

And then here’s our probably I think we’re would make the most sense. It’s like, where are some of the areas where it’s easy to start falling away? Like exactly how Zappos had done that. If they ended up getting shoes online and it’s not a fit. Is it going to be such an easy process that they can be able to exchange it.

And it’s not going to be like a total pain and hassle where you’re like, ah, I’m never using this again because I bought the wrong size. So annoyed, blah, blah, blah. I was like, where are the areas where we can already foresee trouble, that we’re going to run into as an organization and start to fall away from these different virtues.

And then really be able to segment that in with all the employees that are working for the organization. 

Pierce: Yeah. Oh man. I love that. I love the way that you framed it from the perspective of like where is there opportunity you think of like patience, for instance, like how often has a client who really wanted to work with you?

And I’m saying this, not just you specifically, but holistically. And they didn’t understand the process of engagement and. For really seasoned clients. You’re like, it’s no big deal. They understand how it works. Like I know in my own business we do something called design thinking or user centric design.

And if you live and breathe the, a business all day long, you don’t realize that you you don’t know what you do know. And then you interact with a client who doesn’t know what you do now. And all of a sudden there’s. Because you require patience and they require more knowledge. The same can go for, do new direct reports when they’re trying to learn a process or something like that.

They’re like, why don’t you know this yet? 

Chris: And somebody just like busting my head, cause there’s so many of those times where we’re like, get it right. 

Pierce: And when you’re at big, when you’re a high performer and you suck up knowledge and you’re always looking to be the best that you can be like oftentimes being the knee-jerk reaction is when someone is struggling to think that it’s somehow, intrinsic incompetence or a lack of motivation or apathy or something else.

And oftentimes it’s not, it’s I’ve never been here before. And and I don’t know what to do. And just that, that thinking of, they may have not been here before. Is a challenge to anyone, especially a leader because you have to think through, okay what would I do in this situation if I hadn’t been here before and then reflect that back to them.

So anyway, 

Chris: Very good. Very good. Pierce, I feel like this has been just going to school and loving the lecture. So it just resonating in so many different ways. So I really am appreciative of you being on the podcast today and yeah. So Pierce, how can people get ahold of the work that you and your company are doing.

Pierce: Absolutely. Yeah. If you can find me at @piercebrantley.co at piercebrandley.co, or for the book Calling: Awaken to the Purpose of Your Work anywhere you get Good books. 

Chris: Excellent. gxcellent. It was a pure joy to be able to share this time with you excited for the way that it’s going to bless our audience and listeners.

And thanks again. Look forward to continuing the dialogue with you as well. Pierce. 

Pierce: Absolutely. Thank you, Chris. Really enjoyed it. 

Chris: Hey, Chris here.

Hope you enjoyed the episode where we discussed all things going bald, just joking, the Leading Virtuously Podcast. If you enjoyed the episode and the podcast, will you please subscribe on YouTube or apple podcasts or Spotify, or you can also share it with a friend that would be tubular. I hope you have an awesome day.

 

 

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