Transcript – Successful Leadership with Ed Eppley (#14)

FULL TRANSCRIPT – Successful Leadership with Ed Eppley


Natasha Cary: Welcome to Over the Threshold Podcast, produced by Certification of Delivery Excellence, also known as CODE. I’m your host, Natasha Cary, owner and president of CODE, where we offer online education for last mile delivery personnel. To learn more about CODE certifications, visit our website: The purpose of this podcast is to deliver the journey of individuals in the Final Mile/Last Mile white glove industry. As CODE is an educational company, we hope through these stories you can learn something new. Maybe we teach you something about an individual you know, or we introduce you to someone you’ve always wanted to learn more about. Above all, we hope we can leave you inspired. Let’s get started.

Natasha: Welcome. Today we are bringing you an industry-related episode, that we can all learn a thing or two from. My guest is Ed Eppley with The Eppley Group. Ed is a life-long entrepreneur and is a leading global expert in professional management, sales strategy, and performance management.
He has worked with executive teams at multi-national companies across the US, Europe, China, Japan, and Australia, and his client list includes BMW, Bloomberg, Goodyear, Safelite AutoGlass, and many more. Ed, welcome to the podcast. 

Ed Eppley: Thanks, Natasha. It’s good to be here.

Natasha: I’m excited to talk to you today. We met at the CLDA executive leadership summit in Atlanta about a year ago, I believe…

Ed: That’s correct.

Natasha: …and I instantly connected with your presentation. I think we have similar styles of communication, which spoke to me. But before we jump into our topics, I wanted to have you share a little bit about how you got started, and your path that has brought you to where you are today. 

Ed: How much time do we have? It’s a long story. [laughter] 

Natasha: Yeah! 

Ed: It’s not brief, I’ll say it that way. The essence of how I got into this work is that I’m not a very good employee. When it all shakes down, I’m not meant to work for others. I never consciously understood that until I was about 40. I kept starting businesses, and in most cases, I just let them close or formally ended them. They weren’t big because I’m not the kind of individual who wants complexity. I grew up on a farm. I had a breeding stock business for the swine industry. I then went into the radio and broadcast industry and started the on-air [talent] but then recognized that the money was in sales and morphed my way into that. I left that to become a manufacturer’s rep where I was selling for other organizations, not as an employee but as a contracted resource. And it was while I was doing that, teaching the Dale Carnegie Sales Course, that I got the manufacturer’s rep job. That, in turn, lead me to work for a distributor who I was selling to, and I became their vice president of sales. That’s where I really got myself immersed in management and leadership at a scale that I’d never touched before; I was part of an organization of 100 people instead of one or two people like I’d historically been in. Working with others and seeing the complexity in the work that’s required to manage and lead well really convinced me that I didn’t like managing. I could do it, and I wasn’t bad at it; I was at least competent. In fact, if you talk to most people I managed and led, they would say I was a good boss. But it was not something I got energy from; it was exhausting. 

Natasha: Mhm.

Ed: I came to the realization that I should not formally be managing leading others. So I went full-time into the training industry with the Dale Carnegie business and was selling for a franchise owner and with another gentleman we bought a number of Carnegie franchises. We grew them to become the largest Dale Carnegie franchise organization in the United States out of about 75 or 80 franchises, and the second largest in the world out of about 150.   

Natasha: Wow.

Ed: So, yeah. To put that in perspective, the average enrolment was about $1,500, and we were doing $4million plus worth of training a year. We were putting a lot of people through programs. But along the way, I kept getting into these consulting gigs where I might have sold them training or sales or management or leadership, but what ended up happening is I’d start talking with the president or the owner or the CEO. We would talk about other issues they were having, and because I’d run businesses and at least attempted to be involved with them and because of my work in distribution, I’d seen every kind of business there was. I could intelligently talk about what works and what doesn’t. All of that led me to start doing this formally. I’ve been doing it on-and-off in one way or another for about 20 plus years now. You do that long enough, and you start to see real predictable themes and trends. You get credit for being smarter than you really are, but it’s just because you’ve seen it. That’s really what it all amounts to.

Natasha: Right. 

Ed: So that’s the journey.

Natasha: Well, that was a very impressive journey. You’ve seen and lived it in both business and in life. [laughter] I 100% agree with you. I think a lot of that is what spoke to me as well. I think I realized I was not a very good manager as well because it is very exhausting. 

Ed: Yes.

Natasha: When I was in sales and keeping up with salespeople, sometimes I would look at them and say, ‘Do you not care about making more money?’ You know? [laughter] It’s like, the more effort you put into it, the more you’re going to get out of it! I just could not grasp that. Why am I, as your manager, pushing you to make more sales? Don’t you want it? If you don’t, then maybe you’re not in the right position. But at the leadership summit, you said, and you had many words of wisdom but one that really stuck with me. I’ve repeated to my husband, who is an entrepreneur, and my friends or any business owner, and I’m paraphrasing. I’m sure I’m not saying it exactly as you delivered it. But it’s along the lines of, ‘You have to decide if you have a job or if you have a business.’ Right? And you decide that by the way you manage your business. The way that I took that is not only is it about setting up processes and systems, but so many business owners feel like they have to do it themselves, and it’s because they started the business doing it themselves. 

Ed: Oh, yeah.

Natasha: I worked with somebody who had an event planning business, and she produced about $5-7million a year, and she would order the toner for the copier, and she would do it herself. [laughter] She was having trouble with the toner and putting it in, and I looked at her and said, ‘What are you doing?’ And she said, ‘Well, I’m doing this.’ ‘But why are you doing this?’ And she said, ‘Well, I’m not too good to do this myself.’ 

Ed: Right, right.

Natasha: And I’m like, ‘That’s not the point. The point is your time as the business owner should not be spent on changing out the toner in the printer.’ It’s not that you’re too good to do it, right? 

Ed: Right. And Natasha, that’s very observant of you and very wise to recognize that because many executives, rightfully and correctly, don’t want to ask people to do something they wouldn’t do. So they feel compelled to model the behavior they want from others, and that’s an admirable quality or characteristic. But the other thing they also have to measure that against is the premise that I’m a big advocate for. As a manager at any level, one of the questions you have to ask yourself is ‘what are the things that can and only can be done by someone at my level and should be done by someone at my level if [I’m] doing [my] job well?’ And there are certain things that go with being a president or a VP or a director or a manager, right? There’s certain things that can only be done by a person at that level, and if you’re doing stuff other than that, it means you’re, in some fashion, doing work that should be done by other people below you in the organization hierarchically. And if you’re doing that, it’s either because you’re protecting those people or because you find doing that more pleasurable than doing your actual job. 

Natasha: Mhm.

Ed: It’s helpful for most managers to have what they’re doing held up to them. Look in the mirror and see what you’re doing and ask yourself if there’s somebody else that can and should be doing this, or is this stuff that only I can do? Am I the only person who can do this? And if you’re not the only person who can do it, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. 

Natasha: Yeah. I had a friend of mine say that, as well as saying if there’s a role or task that can be spelled out easily in steps 1 through 10 or can be written out and somebody else can follow it easily, you should not be doing it. That’s something that you can delegate, right? 

Ed: Yes, you can.

Natasha: If it’s something where there’s business strategy and more brainstorming, things like that, obviously that requires a different role or position. I would love to get your opinion on a leadership statement or comment that is familiar which is: ‘People need managers, not companies.’ And talking about business owners or managers that are doing things…sometimes they don’t trust the people that are doing the role. Maybe that’s why they don’t delegate to them. Or maybe it’s a culture or the way they’re being treated. But what are your thoughts on that statement? ‘People need managers, not companies.’

Ed: There have been a number of studies done, and they’re doing about every 3 to 5 years. Somebody’s going to replicate a version of this study and what they typically come back with is about 60% of the time somebody leaves the company…it’s mid-50s to 60%, so 55% to 60% of the time they’re leaving because there’s something that’s not right between them and their boss. That’s the primary driver for them leaving the company. There are other factors, but when they are forced to rank them, something’s wrong between them and the boss. So I think it’s a fair statement. I think that it’s fairly accurate. In most cases, it’s a big contributing factor. If the culture’s not right, the person doesn’t really like the job or the business or the industry; a great boss can keep somebody in that role. [laughter] Probably longer than the person should stay because they just love working for somebody who’s doing the right things to help them be the best version of themselves. So when you’re not the best boss, when you’re not doing the things that really help that person get the energy that they want from the job that they have, then it becomes very easy for a person that’s talented to listen to a phone call from a recruiter or read the OneADs or or…you get the idea. 

Natasha: Mhm.

Ed: They’ll start exploring options. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has five levels. There’s survival at the lowest level, security, belonging, importance, and then at the highest level is self-actualization. And if you think about survival and security, essentially, the organization that you work for determines whether or not those needs are met because the organization in the industry you happen to be in sets the pay-scale. It’s not so much the company because the market drives what somebody gets paid what they’re worth. But above that, the belonging, importance, and self-actualization, that is hugely impacted by what the boss does or doesn’t do. If I’m your boss, Natasha, what I do makes you feel like you either belong or don’t belong to this team or this organization. What I do makes you feel like you’re important or not. What I do as your boss really causes you to be on that career path where you get to be the very best version of yourself, even if it means leaving the company ultimately, but if I’m investing in you as your boss trying to help you get to that and knowing it’s important to you, man that’s a really powerful package of motivators that would cause you to want to stay by my side longer than you might otherwise.

Natasha: Right. Well, that’s the thing. I mean, I worked in corporate for many years, and a lot of times you’re taught to not make it personal and to not bring certain conversations in with certain employees, but it IS personal, right?

Ed: Oh yeah.

Natasha: It’s how you treat people [that] matters to them and making them feel like they’re not just a job. That they’re not just their tasks and what they’re doing every day is the most important thing. It’s how they feel, and feelings have a role in your job, whether you like it or not. Because we are motivated by them sometimes and as you mentioned, how you make the person feel is what’s going to determine whether they stay or not.

Ed: Yeah. It’s a big factor. 

Natasha: What would you say are the top three business practices everyone should do or have on their list? No matter what business they’re in? 

Ed: Well, I think it would be absolutely crucial if I own and operate a business, or maybe I don’t own it, but I’m the president or the GM of it — what leadership do I exhibit in terms of having clarity about where we want to take this organization? What are we trying to do? Is this just a lifestyle business, and we’re not really trying to grow it? Are we trying to grow it and take it some direction where it can be bigger than what it is and more sustainable and has a chance to survive after I’m gone? Is that the play? You’ve got to think about the endgame and where are we trying to take this organization. That’s number one, the leadership, and the thinking that must go into that. After that it’s, ‘What’s the culture I need to support the business model I’m trying to operate?’ What I mean by that is if I need creativity and entrepreneurial thinking, then I need to create a culture that makes that happen. If I need specificity and real high-quality and perfection, then what’s the culture that I need that causes people to want to give me that high quality, that perfection? There’s a lot of work that goes into building a culture that supports the business model that we want and need. If we get those two things right, believe it or not [laughter] a lot of people think I’m crazy when I say this, but you’ve got to be really good at meetings. You’ve got to be really good at knowing what kind of meetings to have, how often, and being really skilled at getting the right kind of conversations in those meetings to produce the output that the meeting should produce. Most bosses, most executives, most owners are not trained well to do that. 

Natasha: That is the most powerful thing I’ve ever heard, I think. Because communication is how you get things across, right? All the things you want to do is through communication and how many meetings do we put in that get lost, and then people want to talk about something and then you have the meeting for the meeting, you know? [laughter]

Ed: Oh yeah. You have the meetings before the meetings. Even worse are the meetings after the meeting when people try to…

Natasha: Oh my god.

Ed: …change what was already done. Yeah.

Natasha: Yes, and then everybody has their own agenda and then it becomes political and then you’re like, ‘Oh my god. Why are we here? Who called this meeting?’

Ed: Yeah. It’s painful to think about.

Natasha: It is. Do you think people are natural-born leaders? Is that a thing or maybe they have some natural qualities, and they have to put in a lot of work? Or are there some people who just get it? 

Ed: Yes. [laughter] I think, Natasha, there’s certain people who are blessed with a lot of the qualities that make it attractive to want to follow them. They’re decisive, they see things that maybe others don’t. They’re charismatic in some way. They may not be articulate, they may not be that well-spoken, but they have the conviction and the belief in what they’re doing that’s really attractive to a lot of people. So I think there are some people who have those characteristics, and you put them in the right situation, right place, right time, and they show up as being, ‘Wow, what a great leader!’ and they’ve had no training to be that. At the other end of the spectrum, one of the most remarkable things, if you read and study it at all, is what the US military does. I’m talking about all branches: air force, navy, army, you know. Any of the major branches of the military are remarkable in that they can take what I would call in some cases, some really flawed people, and because they break them down and instill in them a set of values and beliefs, they teach them the importance of these values and beliefs and make it part of who they are. These people who might have been felons before they got to the military can literally go on to be people who you would follow into battle and risk your life for. And literally, even if they leave the military, they’re the kinds of people who can go on and be tremendous in whatever endeavor they go through. 

Leaders can definitely be built, and I’m talking from scratch. If you’re willing to put in the work and have the right mechanisms…one of the things the military has is corporal punishment, right? They can punish you into doing what needs to be done, and we in business don’t have that luxury in some cases. What I mean by that is not that we want to use corporal punishment but when somebody’s not performing, if somebody’s actually exhibiting self-destructive behaviour, if we hold them accountable for that they can leave and they can continue to exhibit and will exhibit that self-destructive behaviour in the next job they have. Whereas in the military, if you don’t fix your self-destructive behaviour, you’ll either get court marshalled and dishonorably discharged or you’d go to Leavenworth. So the idea is that there could be a punishment that fits the crime, as it were.

Natasha: Right. In corporate America, you just keep getting written up, and who knows if you’ll actually do it while you’re costing the business money. 

Ed: Exactly. But I’m a believer that in most businesses, in most cases, we can build leaders. I don’t believe there is a correlation between education and the capacity of somebody to be a great leader. 

Natasha: 100%.

Ed: I don’t believe that if they have a college degree, that makes them more likely to be a good leader at all. 

Natasha: Yeah. Actually, I saw a study that said that the better leaders are your B students, who may not necessarily have a college degree because they have that balance of smartness and social integration with people and what have you. So I thought that was interesting. 

Ed: Yeah, I think there’s probably validity in that. 

Natasha: Mhm. 

Ed: Now, one of the exercises that you had us do at the leadership summit was comparing and discussing the smart side of the business vs. the healthy side of the business. Can you elaborate a little bit more about that?

Ed: Pat Lencioni’s book ‘The Advantage’ is the author of the concept, and I certainly subscribed to it. Before I ever became a part of Pat’s organization, The Table Group, I was using the model of smart and healthy as a way to analyze and diagnose the issues that an organization would face. The premise is that smaller organizations really don’t have much of the smart stuff. When we talk about smart, it’s technology, finance, marketing, procedures. It’s the infrastructure that you ultimately have to put in place if you’re going to scale this business and scale it profitably. Let it grow to what it can become and not have it implode because you don’t have the right systems, processes, the right strategy, the right finance, the right marketing to drive the revenue that you’re trying to produce. What small businesses often have to offer is health. The health of the organizations [are] rallied around some cause, usually start-up businesses have a David and Goliath thing, right. ‘We’re just trying to survive, and we’ll do whatever it takes.’ And if we’re not the owner of the business, we’re attracted to what the owner’s trying to do, and we’re attracted to the freedom that comes with that and the willingness to try things. Most businesses that are in a start-up phase are somewhat almost destined to do trial and error kinds of strategy. They have an intent of what they think will allow them to make money and be sustainable, but in reality, it’s only through trial and error that they come to realize what it is that will let them keep making enough money to stay in business. 

So people who join that kind of enterprise, they’re not there for the benefits. They’re not there for the salary in most cases. They’re there because they either know and believe in the person who owns the business, or because they’re attracted to the purpose, the higher calling, the David vs. Goliath kind of opportunity. So that healthy side of the business Natasha, also has a couple of other components. Usually, there’s minimal politics. What I mean by that is people don’t have to choose their words yet. In a small business, 5 to 10 people, usually people speak their mind, and they’re not afraid to say, ‘I don’t think this is very smart’ [laughter], or they’re not afraid to put up their hand and say, ‘I know you want me to get this done, I’ve got no idea how to do it.’ If you’re part of a 300-person organization, if you said, ‘I think this is stupid, what we’re doing here’, you would first probably ask yourself, should I say it? And the second thing you’d ask yourself is, how do I say it, so I don’t get in trouble? 

Natasha: Mhm.

Ed: And that’s the start of being political by my definition. It’s when we choose our words. It’s when we even question whether we should say what we’re thinking or not. If you have to wait for the right time to say something, that’s political. 

Natasha: Right. 

Ed: Most people would say it’s common sense, but I would argue part of what we have to do in business is get the real issues on the table as quickly as possible, and that should not be a function of whether somebody’s prepared to hear it or not. Now I’m not saying it’s not true, but if you’ve got a great business, if I own a business, I want a business where somebody’s going to put their hand up and say, ‘Wait a minute, why are we doing this? This does not make sense to me.’ I may get frustrated with it, but I don’t want to shut that down because we may be making a dumb mistake. If we’re making a dumb mistake, I need to know about it. The smaller the business, usually the healthier they are, but they need smart to get to the next level. They need some structure. They need some strategy. They need some finance skill that they don’t have. The bigger the business, the more they need to work on the healthy side of it. That’s a correlation I’ve seen proven time and time again. 

Natasha: I’ve always gotten in trouble because I worked in the big business, and I didn’t think about what I should say or how I should say it, and I said it! [laughter]

Ed: Yeah?

Natasha: But that got me in trouble sometimes. It wasn’t the right time, or it wasn’t the right place.

Ed: So where do you find yourself today, right? Not in this situation where you have to worry about it. 

Natasha: No. I, too, have realized I’m better off as an entrepreneur because it’s hard for me to follow all the rules. I mean, I could follow them. I like structure and policies, but I also like the ‘What if?’, you know? You have to question things. Not to death, but you have to question things. Am I doing it the right way? What is the end result? Is the step that I’m taking going to get me the goal that I’m trying to achieve? If not, then why am I doing it? There has to be purpose.

Ed: Oh, yeah. Rules are situational. 

Natasha: Mhm.

Ed: I’m like you, I’m not a person to follow a rule just because it’s a rule. Which is a reason why I shouldn’t be an employee… 

Natasha: Which is why we work for ourselves today! [laughter]

Ed: My good friend and trainer, Julie, she and her husband get into debates and discussions as most married couples do, and she says that Dave doesn’t always want her directions about how to get somewhere, and she’ll say, ‘Look at the map.’ and he says, ‘The map is just somebody else’s interpretation of how to get someplace else.’ 

Natasha: Exactly! [laughter] That’s hilarious. Now we’ve mentioned that a smaller business is probably healthier and needs to work on smarts and the bigger business needs to work on healthy because they probably have the smarts. What is the right balance? How do you determine how much time and effort you put into one or the other?

Ed: I would probably look at the symptoms of what’s going on in the business. For example, if there are a lot of meetings after the meetings, if there is a lot of hallway talk about decisions that are being made or not being made, if there’s this rumbling, this unease that’s going on in your organization, that’s not a smart issue, that’s a health issue. 

Natasha: Mhm.

Ed: If there’s a lot of mistakes being made in what we’re producing, if there is a lot of redo’s, starts and stops. That’s probably an issue relative to either strategy or process. 

Natasha: Right.

 Ed: [When I get invited into an organization…] I literally had this happen yesterday out in Colorado. I was out there with one of my clients, and I had a request to talk to somebody else in the community. So I went and spoke with the president and the head of HR, and I said, ‘Was this happening? Is this happening?’ and there was a look on their faces saying, ‘How would you know that?’ And I said, ‘Well, the size of your company is about 50 people, and you’re this old, and you’re owned by private equity, and when you put all those things together, it’s pretty predictable that these kind of symptoms would be in play.’ And they said ‘Yeah.’ and I said, ‘Well, it’s a health issue.’ You’re a smaller company, but the truth is, because they’re owned by private equity, they’re being run and expected to operate more like a big company. It’s tough. It’s a tough place to find yourself. They actually needed to work on both smart and healthy, but we got pretty specific in the prescriptive things that they need to work on. We’ll see whether it happens. To answer your question about what the balance should look like, it’s not 50:50, I’ll tell you that. 

Natasha: Right. It’s figuring out what’s the issue you consistently talk about, and then that’s where you need to pivot and focus on until you fix it.

Ed: Yeah, because otherwise what you end up doing is chasing the symptoms, and you play Whack-a-Mole.

Natasha: Right.

Ed: You just beat at a problem as it puts its head up and sometimes the problem’s the exact same problem, other times…or should I say, the symptom’s the same symptom you tried to solve six months ago, and when it pops back up the next time, it’s disguised as something else. But you need to get to the root cause.

Natasha: Mhm. Now our audience is the last mile, final mile industry. You’ve done a lot of work in this space. What are the areas that you see that are common that could be improved upon in this industry? I think about what you just said about the client in Colorado, they’re baffled that you knew what they were going through. I think a lot of people think that…

Ed: Yeah.

Natasha: … their issues are unique to them, but we all have a lot of similarities, right? In the last mile industry, what do you see as a commonality that the industry as a whole, that business owners or executives are facing that could be an opportunity for growth or impact in their business?

Ed: I think a common factor for everybody regardless…well, let me start this a different way. If you go to most members of the CLDA, I’ll bet that you’re going to hear from 75% of them that they can’t find enough good people. It might be higher than that, would you agree?

Natasha: Yes. Absolutely.

Ed: I was sitting in a meeting for the last two-and-a-half days in Colorado with an organization that’s a ski resort, and they can’t find enough good people. Now that’s two totally different business, would you agree?

Natasha: Yes. Absolutely.

Ed: There’s nothing in common between running a ski resort and last mile delivery…

Natasha: Although they are both very much service-oriented, right?

Ed: Yeah. But…

Natasha: But running the business operations? Completely different.

Ed: Well, the ski business is 17 weeks out of the year. It’s a totally seasonal business, weather dependent, that’s my point. It’s also a totally different scale. We’re talking to a company of nearly 2,000 people when they’re at their peak. 

Natasha: Wow.

Ed: Much bigger than the average CLDA. But their number one issue is, ‘We can’t find enough good people.’ I don’t care what business you’re in; your problems are not unique. You’re unique; you as an individual are unique, but the issues you face as a business are very, very common. Most of them are guilty of doing work that can and should be done by others. Most of them are terrible at growing and developing other people. Most of them are trapped in doing what they’ve historically done and not necessarily giving the market what it’s asking for. Those are probably three things that I would say are very typical regardless of the business. 

Natasha: I have noticed that. I think that a lot of the business owners in the last mile industry are still very much working in the business more than they are working on the business.

Ed: Correct.

Natasha: And again, I think it goes back to that industry, a lot of industries are similar, not very unique, but it is very hands-on, and a lot of the owners that I’ve talked to started out as a delivery driver. And they worked themselves up to be the business owner, and so it’s hard for them to disconnect and move on from that sometimes. 

Ed: Well, and as your example earlier on, Natasha. In some cases, they feel guilty if they start acting like an executive. In some cases, they would rather actually do the work than manage and lead others doing the work. And you know what? That’s okay. But then that’s where you should make the decision and follow along with the principle that just because they own the business doesn’t mean they’re the right person to run it. 

Natasha: Right, yeah.

Ed: That’s when you hire somebody else to be your general manager. 

Natasha: And I think that a lot of people don’t even think about or consider that, that they should hire somebody to…

Ed: In some cases, it should be an option. I agree with that.

Natasha: Yup. So what do you do that helps you to stay focused? I mean, you’ve talked to so many people, about what you’re doing. While you’re not running your own business and managing people, you’re talking about managing people and managing your business, which can be very exhausting. [laughter] I’ve been in the services industry before doing marketing, and it’s challenging to have other people listen. You see what their issue is, and they don’t want to listen to you, or they disagree with you. Which I fine, and that’s okay because they know their business more, but you know the generality of what they’re facing. So how do you keep yourself focused and try to help others see where they need to improve?

Ed: In most cases, I don’t try to tell any client what they should do. My job is to ask questions. My job is to hold the mirror up of what I see to them so they can get that perspective, which in some cases confirms what they already know is going on. In other cases, it helps them understand there’s stuff that’s happening that they’re not aware of. But more often than not, they’ve either heard what I’m saying or I’m getting them to realize that by the questions I ask, you’re not the first person to point that out, to make me talk about this or think about it. I don’t want to be in their business, just like a therapist doesn’t want to tell the patient what to do because you don’t want to be responsible for that person’s life. But your job is to get them to understand what their reality is. If they like it, fine. If they don’t, then help them think about what they can do differently. 

I do work with some organizations, some pretty big ones, and often times the executive or owner or CEO would say, ‘I want you to have private conversations with the people in my team because I think they would benefit from that.’ When I make myself available to those people, often times the rules of engagement need to be discussed: ‘How candid can I be with you?’ And I say, ‘You’re talking to some combination of a priest and a lawyer.’ [laughter] So what you’re saying is sacred, and I will not repeat it or regurgitate ownership of it as coming from you, but I will use it to help me craft the sermon that I’m going to give to the CEO. I’m looking for themes and things that the CEO or the president or the executive needs to know about that they might not otherwise get directly from their people. But I never violate that confidence, and so the job here is to elicit information, to ask questions, to get people to see the reality that I see, and then decide if it’s accurate or not and decide what to do about it. 

Natasha: Right. Alright, well, I have one final question for you unless there’s anything else you want us to cover. What advice would you give to young leaders? What should their focus be? There’s so much in front of them. What do they do?

Ed: First of all, they have to be masters of their time. It’s just such an undervalued component. But until you can be really, really good at how you use your time, you’re going to work way too hard at whatever job you’re in. Whether you’re a boss or not, whether you’re a manager or not. Number one, you’ve got to be really good at your time management. I would argue, be almost ruthless with your time management. There’s a lot of good information out there on that, but that’s number one. Number two, they’ve got to become very self-aware about who they are as a person, and what their strengths and weaknesses are, their biases, their preferences for how they want to behave. I’ve got a blog on my website if people want to see it where I talk about the right assessment. I don’t have a favorite assessment. What I have is a belief that you need the right assessment at the right time in your development as a manager. It’s really important that you don’t get the right information at the wrong time because it could cause you to not develop as quickly as you otherwise would. I think the third thing is you need to identify what your style is. Are you a teller? Are you an asker? Are you a verbal leader? Are you a non-verbal leader? There is no right way to do that. But you need to understand what your style is and be okay with your style and not try to be something that you’re not for the most part. I think there are things to fix for all of us, but I would never be a good cheerleader kind of leader. I’m not. I’m one of those who is not going to say a lot, believe it not as much as I’m talking with you!

Natasha: I love that. That’s some really great, solid advice. I did want to mention that you also have a podcast. You have great information on there, and you can find that on and your blog. And I also follow you on LinkedIn, where I always get awesome nuggets of information there. And you also have a book. Are you working on another book?

Ed: ‘Let’s Be Clear’?

Natasha: Yes. Let’s be clear.

Ed: Yes. ‘Let’s Be Clear’ is the book I have out. Am I working on another book? Yeah, probably. [laughter] Way to be decisive when you’re asking other people to be decisive. We’re actually building it in part through the blogs. I don’t know how many blogs we’ve got up now; it’s probably 20, maybe more. And my co-writer, the guy who helps me, Thad, he says ‘Look, we’re going to just work on the blogs and eventually, thematically we’re going to come up with another book. We either have the content for it, or it will emerge because there’s going to be certain things you’re going to get really excited about.’ I think there’s another book in the works. It’s probably a year or two away from actually getting out there, but I’ve come to realize, Natasha, that I like writing. 

Natasha: Oh, nice! 

Ed: I enjoy it, and I just need somebody to make me disciplined about doing it, and that’s what Thad does for me. 

Natasha: You need accountability.

Ed: Oh, I need certain kinds of accountability. If it’s not out on the golf course, I sure do. [laughter] 

Natasha: Well, Ed, thank you so much for being a guest on the podcast today. I’ve really enjoyed talking to you as always, and I look forward to the next time we can catch up. 

Ed: Thanks for the opportunity and I appreciate all the work you do to support the last mile delivery folks, the CLDA, and if there’s anything I can do to help you or your audience, please don’t hesitate to let me know. If you want to reach me via is my email. I am on LinkedIn and happy to respond if you’ve got questions. 

Natasha: Awesome. Thank you so much, Ed.

Ed: Thank you.  



Natasha: Thank you so much for listening to the Over the Threshold Podcast. If you liked what you heard on this episode, I’d love it if you’d subscribe, leave a review or share with a friend you know who would like to hear it, too. To learn more about CODE certifications, visit our website