In A World Podcast – Mike Miller – BeForte

Mike specializes in sales performance and management coaching, team acceleration and effectiveness, strengths-focused development, and helping leaders grow and promote collaborative, healthy, engaging work environments and Energy Intelligence. We define Energy Intelligence as the acute awareness of your greatest energizing activities where you can sustain your best performance. Conceptually and theoretically speaking Energy Intelligence is a precursor to Emotional Intelligence because of its deeper roots in your own psychological development from childhood to becoming an adult. Understanding how you should react in different situations is not as important as understanding “why”. When you understand why you do what you do, you can better understand how. That is Energy Intelligence.

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-Transcript-

Brad Burrow:
Welcome to In a World with Real Media. I’m your host, Brad Burrow, and this podcast will dive into the lives of the most successful people in business. We’ll learn how they overcame adversity, took advantage of opportunities, and learned from their experiences. Learn from our experts, get inspired, then go live your story. It’s In new World with Real Media.

Brad Burrow:
Hello, and welcome to the In a World with Real Media Podcast. I’m here with Mike Miller today. Hey, Mike, how are you doing?

Mike Miller:
I’m doing very bright. How are you?

Brad Burrow:
So, we have… Mike and I have worked together… we’ve gone to church together-

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
… um, for a long time, we’ve known each other for a long time, and now we’re working together, um, on the beForte-

Mike Miller:
Yes.

Brad Burrow:
… uh, project. Man, I want to just give people just a little bit of, uh, background on what you do, and then, then I want to kind of talk about, you know, your career path and how you’ve kind of worked your way up to, to what you’re doing right now.

Mike Miller:
Sure.

Brad Burrow:
So, let me read this. It says, Mike specializes in sales performance and management coaching, team acceleration and effectiveness, strengths focused development, and helping leaders grow and promote collaborative, healthy, engaging work environments and energy intelligence.

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
Man, there’s a, there’s a lot there. So, I want to talk about that. First, what is energy intelligence? Explain that to me.

Mike Miller:
Uh, it’s a great, it’s a great question. So, um, whenever we’re at work and we’re connected with what energizes us most in what we do, we perform at higher levels, we’re more engaged, and we get greater job satisfaction, we’re healthier, have overall better well being, it’s just a better place to be. And energy intelligence is really connecting to those intrinsic motivators that gives you that energy to do your work at your best, simply put.

Brad Burrow:
Is that why I hate writing proposals? (laughs).

Mike Miller:
Probably a drainer to you. We, we talk often about, um, drainers and energizers.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
So, you, you may do proposals really well and do a good job, but, but if they’re, if it’s detailed and draining… detail orientation is one of my drainers, and it just, those are areas that can get in your way, and they present risks to your performance, if you’re not aware of them. If you’re aware of them, you can do things to keep that from happening. And that’s part of energy intelligence too, not just what energizes you, but also what drains you.

Brad Burrow:
And so do you give people like a strategy on how to deal with those situations? Is that kind of what you’re, what you’re trying to do?

Mike Miller:
Yeah. Uh, the first step is an awareness, developing awareness of what your workplace energizers are and what they’re not. And we have an assessment that does that. It’s a scientifically proven assessments. It’s very accurate for what it measures, and then we explain those, uh, the assessment to them. They connect to it. Most people connect very closely. It’s kind of a visceral connection when you’re talking about energy.

Mike Miller:
And, um, and then we have some strategies to help them optimize. How do you stretch the areas that energize you the most? Kind of get out of your comfort zone because that’s where you do your best work. It’s where people recognize and, and see you in action, and they, you get awards for that. Um, and then what happens when those other th- when those, you know, drainers can get in your way, and how do you keep that from happening? Because those kinds of things tend to be things that we procrastinate, that we, you know, put to the last thing of the day, and they don’t get our best effort. But if you’re aware of those, then you can take steps to actually optimize those.

Brad Burrow:
Do you find that most people don’t know these things about themselves, I mean, they have no idea of really what energizes them or what, what really kind of sucks the life out of them, I guess you could say?

Mike Miller:
Yeah, that’s a really good way to put it. And you, you know it’s true, especially in the workplace setting, because we’ve often, uh, heard about competencies and what we’re good at,-

Brad Burrow:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike Miller:
… which is part of a, a strengths equation. It’s just part of it. We all have natural talents that we bring to the equation, competencies, abilities, learned skills, but you can have a lot of learned skills that totally drain you, right? So, connecting to those energizers as intrinsic motivators, it’s not as obvious, and having a, a way to scientifically arrive at, arrive at those, and then when you really couple your energizers and intrinsic motivators, intrinsic motivators with those competencies, it’s where you can be at your best, right? It’s where you deliver your highest and best performance.

Brad Burrow:
So, as a leader, I mean, you could be putting people in a position to fail just by not knowing some of these key facts about the way, um, people work.

Mike Miller:
Yeah. No, it’s, it’s, a, it’s an important aspect. You know, as humans, we tend to look at people’s faults and their weaknesses, and for many years-

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
… the area of, um, um, uh, organizational psychology and human resource is focused on what people did wrong versus what they do right. And it’s, you have to be very intentional about understanding when you see people at their best. It’s a question we ask of groups, of leaders, of… you know, “When were last at your best at work?” Brad, I’ll ask you, when were you last at your best at work? What were you doing?

Brad Burrow:
Well, that’s a good question, you know. For me, uh, just to tell you a little bit, I, I go through an ebb and flow. There’s times… like, it’s, it’s kind of interesting. It’s like there’s times when I’m ultra-focused, ultra, uh, getting a lot done, and there’s other times when I just can’t even get off the starting line.

Mike Miller:
Hmm, hmm. Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
There’s those times when I’m, I feel so good about what I’ve accomplished in a short amount of time, and I don’t understand why I can’t be in that place all the time.

Mike Miller:
Yeah, yeah. No, it’s a, it’s a great point. And that, that’s actually a psychological term called flow, um, which is kind of like being in the zone. It’s when you start a project at 10 o’clock in the morning, and before you know it, it’s like 3:00 in the afternoon, and you haven’t even been hungry, and you haven’t eaten lunch, and there’s nothing around to eat. That’s being in the zone, in flow. It’s when your, this mental state of focus where time flies, right? It’s, um, um, sometimes referred to as, um, uh, a, uh… well, it’s referred to as flow, and not the kind of like in the toilet flow-

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
… but being in the zone, so… Uh, and then there are other times when, you know, you’re, you’re faced with doing something, maybe it’s writing a proposal, where it just kind of plays to your drainers, your, your energy drainers, and for me, it’s detail orientation, and it’s just like time slows down. Every minute has 60 seconds, and when you’re in flow, it feels much faster, but when you’re faced with a draining activity, you can actually take steps to kind of get through it to keep it from getting in your way.

Brad Burrow:
Hmm.

Mike Miller:
One way to do it is to reframe your thinking and to reframe it through the lens of one of your energizing strengths. For example, um, I mentioned detail orientation being a drainer of mine, but I, I have to do a lot of detail oriented work. I don’t necessarily like it, but if I think through my strategic mindedness and, uh, the big picture of where the end point’s going to be, it, it really helps me get through those details because I’m thinking of the end in mind as opposed to what I’m doing in the moment.

Brad Burrow:
Do you ever have people tell you that… like, I have things that I dread doing that, once I finally focus and do it, it didn’t take as long as I thought it was going to take to do it-

Mike Miller:
(laughs).

Brad Burrow:
… but yet I’m procrastinating and saying, “Gosh, it’s going to take forever.”

Mike Miller:
Yeah, you know, that’s not uncommon, and, uh, you’re not alone. Uh, we all do that. And typically, if you, uh, think about what those draining activities are, they are things you procrastinate.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
You put them off to the end because you just don’t want to deal with them right now. And then, then it gets worse, right? It starts spiraling, because you’re like, “Now I’ve got a half hour to do it. I know it’s going to take an hour and a half,” and you’ve procrastinated it that long, so it gets worse. So, if you can tackle those things and use strategies to understand that there’s ways to manage through it, sometimes you can turn to other people and they actually can help you out. Maybe ones strengths based strategy is to, um, turn to someone who actually has that as an energizer. Freakishly enough, there are people who are energized by the things that drain us.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
And, and if you can trade that or barter it… Now, I’m not saying, saying, you know, you have to do it, and, and that’s dumping, you can’t dump on people,-

Brad Burrow:
Right.

Mike Miller:
… but if you can trade those complimentary strengths and being aware of that, especially in a team environment, can be incredibly powerful.

Brad Burrow:
And you recommend that in a corporate setting?

Mike Miller:
Absolutely.

Brad Burrow:
Wow.

Mike Miller:
In fact, I just came off of, uh, six workshops in the last two days over Zoom, and we’d spent a, a lot of time talking, getting people, uh, building awareness around their strengths, their, uh, weaker areas. We also talk a lot about strengths being overdone, which is if you think about things that you love to do… We’ll take an example. Um, what do you love to do? What, what’s something you love to do in your work?

Brad Burrow:
Well, the great thing about my job is I love doing what my job is,-

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
… you know, creating, um, recording music, you know, video, that type of thing.

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
I really love going out and shooting, uh, you know, photography and stuff like that and finding-

Mike Miller:
Oh, nice.

Brad Burrow:
… the beauty in things.

Mike Miller:
Oh, that’s cool. That’s cool. Well, so creativity may be one of your strengths, and that’s one of mine, too. Um, I know, though, that sometimes… I’ve had people come to me and say, “Mike, you have too many ideas. You need to kind of, you know… it’s too broad a scope. You ca- we can’t do what you’re thinking of doing.” And I, I might not say it, but I may be thinking, “Wait a minute, I’m the creative guy here,” you know, that’s what I feel like I’m known for. And it, it’s, uh, whenever you receive feedback that’s unexpectedly negative, it, it, chances are it’s one of your strengths that’s being overdone.

Mike Miller:
And what happens in that case is, as good as your strengths are, if you dial them up and use them at the wrong time and the wrong situation and the wrong, at the wrong level, it actually looks like a weakness. And, so what happens to me sometimes with creativity is, is when I have a lot of options… like, I love options, right? Options are great, because my brain starts to just think in different ways and it goes crazy, but that can sometimes delay my decision making. So, uh, that’s the consequence of my strength going into overdrive. For somebody who has, let’s say, problem solving or critical thinking as one of their strengths, maybe they see every problem is hyper critical. They’re hyper critical about everything. They become known as like being very negative, and, and they get that feedback, and it’s strange to them because that’s what they do, right?

Mike Miller:
So, you have to take steps to mitigate that. Understand when it happens, what could trigger it, kind of the situations for me, it’s options, and that triggers that potential. So, if I see that coming, we can actually step in the way and lean into maybe another strength that will help pull the energy away from the one that could go into overdrive.

Brad Burrow:
It takes a while to figure that out, doesn’t it? I mean, just even to recognize what’s happening?

Mike Miller:
Yeah. Awareness, uh, it’s one of the more powerful, um, concepts in strengths-based, uh, leadership and coaching, is this idea of overdrive, because people have not been coached that way. Because most of the time, what is overdrive, 90% of the time it gets coached as a weakness, okay? Because people see it as a weakness. Like, if you saw me delaying my decision making, you’d say, “Mike, you need to make a decision.” You’d see that as a weakness in decision making, when really, I’m just kind of having fun up in the options, right? And that’s what it is. So, once you have a, you can get a handle around that, it’s an incredibly powerful coaching, uh, instrument and strategy.

Brad Burrow:
So, you’re equipping leaders to figure these things out about the people that work with them, basically.

Mike Miller:
Yeah, absolutely. And teams, because teams can help each other out. They can, uh, you know, we can get a study buddy, and, uh-

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
… you know, have somebody who can tap you on the shoulder going, “I think you might be doing a little bit too much,” you know, or if your, let’s say, enthusiasm is one of your strengths, you know, that often comes back as well, “You’re, you’re, you’re, um, a little over the top and maybe un- not quite believable because you’re so excited.” And enthusiastic is a, a, a strength of belief, and it’s different than optimism. Optimism is kind of everything is awesome, right?

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
It’s a Lego Movie.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Mike Miller:
Now, enthusiasm, though, it’s if you believe in something, you get excited and passionate about it. So, when you’re, when you feel like you really believe in something, if who have enthusiasm, how do you temper that back? People can tap you on the shoulder and say, “Hey, I think maybe you can dial it back a little bit.” Those can be really great team conversations to have.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah. Awesome. So, I want to kind of get into your, your background and your career a little bit here.

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
A couple things that really jumped out to me. One, Indiana?

Mike Miller:
Yes.

Brad Burrow:
You went to Indiana University?

Mike Miller:
Yes, the Hoosier.

Brad Burrow:
So, you’re Bobby Knight guy, I guess, huh?

Mike Miller:
I was. I was there in the chair throwing years.

Brad Burrow:
Were you really?

Mike Miller:
Yeah, yeah, I was on campus th- then. I wasn’t at that game, but I was on campus and I remember it vividly. It’s quite exciting.

Brad Burrow:
Do you, did you know who he was? I mean, just curious. I mean, the, I mean, the Bobby Knight. That’s pretty cool being-

Mike Miller:
Yeah. No, I didn’t know him personally, but obviously, went, went to many games at Assembly Hall.

Brad Burrow:
Like you knew his history and stuff-

Mike Miller:
Oh, yeah.

Brad Burrow:
… and then you knew what kind of guy he was and all that stuff?

Mike Miller:
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And, uh, you know, he was very cherished at Indiana-

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
and his, his style was built for that time. I don’t think his style would go over too well at this day and age.

Brad Burrow:
Obviously, not today at all.

Mike Miller:
No, not at all (laughs).

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
And it was different, but, but players responded to it and, uh, I actually had a chance to go to the 1987 National Championship game in New Orleans and watch Keith Smart hit the shot in the, the last second and beat Syracuse. So, that was pretty exciting.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah, yeah. Pretty cool. That’s awesome.

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
Then you went to University of Nebraska for your master’s degree.

Mike Miller:
That’s right. Uh, so after-

Brad Burrow:
Were you on campus?

Mike Miller:
Uh, you know, it was a distance program,-

Brad Burrow:
Oh.

Mike Miller:
… and it was actually an interesting combination of programs. I, I was pulled into it because I was drawn to this whole idea of strengths, and it was a, uh, um, collaborative program between the University of Nebraska and the Gallup Organization, which develops strengths finders,-

Brad Burrow:
Mm-hmm (affirmative), right.

Mike Miller:
… and did a lot of work in positive organizational behavior, and I was so connected to that, and helped, uh, understanding what allowed people to be at their best and, and, uh, you know, look at what they did right versus what they did wrong. So, that program really attracted me. And, um, I did it about, you know, 20 years almost into my career, which gave me a lot of experience kind of, um, kind of a foundation.

Brad Burrow:
Different perspectives too, yeah.

Mike Miller:
Yeah, for sure. And having been in a, at that point, in a leadership role for, senior leadership role for almost seven years, it was really practical application as well.

Brad Burrow:
So, from there, Grand Canyon-

Mike Miller:
Yes. S0-

Brad Burrow:
… which they were one of the very first… weren’t they one of the very first kind of distance learning… I don’t know. This is what… maybe I’m wrong on this, but I thought they were really, really pioneers in that area.

Mike Miller:
Yeah, they were. Um, so, University of Phoenix actually did a lot of that as well-

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
… and they kind of had, um, satellite campuses everywhere. And the person who started University of Phoenix went to Grand Canyon University and now it’s, uh, I don’t know, 25,000 students on campus,-

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
… thousands in distance learning. And, uh, I’ve been working in my, on my PhD in performance psychology for the last three and a half year, I’m now working on my dissertation, so yeah.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah, awesome. Awesome.

Mike Miller:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brad Burrow:
Okay. So, I don’t know if you know this, but my dad was the director of HR at Marion Labs.

Mike Miller:
Oh, is that right?

Brad Burrow:
Yeah, Ed Burrow.

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
So, I, I kind of followed, you know, things. I was pretty young when, when all that was happening, but, you know, part of his job was to work with, uh, Mr. K on-

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
… distributing Royals tickets throughout the whole company and stuff like that.

Mike Miller:
Right.

Brad Burrow:
So, he got to work with Mr. K a lot. But I saw that you worked there.

Mike Miller:
I did.

Brad Burrow:
That’s pretty cool. And was that your first, that was your start in, in corporate world?

Mike Miller:
Um, I actually came after a year of being in the banking field because I have a degree… my undergraduate degree is in finance, and I thought, “Well, I could go to a bank, right?” And it was like, “No, this is not for me.” You know, I, at one point in my life, I thought being-

Brad Burrow:
Details, details.

Mike Miller:
(laughs) Exactly. At one point in my life, I thought being well-rounded was really good, right? It was the best place to be. And I quickly figured out that being in banking was not where I wanted to be, it wasn’t energizing. I didn’t know that at the time, but I figured that out. So, I, uh, actually, uh, Marion labs was upscaling at that time. They were launching Cardizem, which is a cardio-

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
… cardiovascular drug. And, um, so I took a job in Florida and, uh, interviewed, and I was living in Ohio at the time, took a job in Florida as a sales rep in the field. And, uh, I was there for about a year and then became a hospital rep in, uh, Augusta, Georgia, calling on institutions, teaching institutions, Medical College of Georgia. So yeah, that was, that was a great time. Marion was a great company. I had a chance to meet Mr. K. They, um, he would always bring, um, that’s… you know, he was a salesman-

Brad Burrow:
Right. Right.

Mike Miller:
… but that wasn’t what he did, right? And, uh, so he would always bring the new sales reps out to his house, and, you know, introduce them, you know, you get to go spend time at his house, and how cool was that?

Brad Burrow:
Wow.

Mike Miller:
And then take you to the Royals game. So, it was awesome.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
Great company.

Brad Burrow:
He knew had to do it right, didn’t he?

Mike Miller:
You know, in, in, there’s a, uh, there’s actually a, um, a, a, a movie, a documentary on his life. I know you’ve probably seen it, and it’s just fabulous.

Brad Burrow:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike Miller:
It really speaks highly of, not just the man, but, um, you know, how he, you know, he knew how to run an organ- he knew how to bring the best out in people and create environment and culture that really, at that point, probably wasn’t as well appreciated as, you know, it became later, so…

Brad Burrow:
Yeah. Yeah. We did, uh, we were contracted by the Royals to create all of the video content for the Hall of Fame-

Mike Miller:
Oh, neat.

Brad Burrow:
… so, you know, we really dove in deep into what Mr. K did to develop the team and, you know, he was groundbreaking in the way he approached everything,-

Mike Miller:
Oh, yeah.

Brad Burrow:
… you know, even how he, he found talent. You know, Frank White was found because he had good eyesight.

Mike Miller:
Yeah. Wow.

Brad Burrow:
You know, and he said, “Well, we can… if you have good eyesi- eyesight, and you’re athletic, we can turn you into a baseball player.”

Mike Miller:
Oh, wow. That’s really cool.

Brad Burrow:
Ain’t that amazing?

Mike Miller:
It’s really cool. I, it was, the, uh, when we moved back to Kansas City, we, uh, my wife is from here, interestingly enough, that, that I didn’t h- We weren’t married at, at the time when I was working for Marion, but, uh, it’s kind of in a way of how we met because I saw her outside of a medical building, and she was working for Marion Merrell Dow at the time, so we kind of had a, you know, I got, I had a rap, right?

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
So, but, uh, when we moved back here, we, uh, we became supporters of the, um, Kauffman, um, Performing Arts Center, and, um, his daughter, Julia, had, had, had supporters over to the house and I felt like it was like a flashback in time. I got to go into the basement, and it hadn’t changed a bit. The World Series trophy was there. This is going back about 10 or 12 years ago, but it was fabulous. It was great to be back in his house again and just kind of see things.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah, that’s pretty cool.

Mike Miller:
He was a great man.

Brad Burrow:
So, you went from there, um, to, uh, another sales kind of position, and we don’t need to go, uh, through everything in your, your history, but, but I want to get into the idea that you decided to start your own business.

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
What, what were you thinking there? Why, what made you say, “Okay, I’m, I’m going to go out and do this”?

Mike Miller:
(laughs) Yeah. Sometimes I still ask that question, but now it’s a-

Brad Burrow:
(laughs) Me too. 22 years later.

Mike Miller:
Oh, yeah. Well, I’m 10 years into it, and, um, you know, at the time I had been about 25 years in the biotech pharma industry. At that point, I was working for Genentech, a really awesome company headquartered in the Bay Area, really kind of cut my teeth in management and leadership and really-

Brad Burrow:
You were there a long time too.

Mike Miller:
Yeah, 22 years. And, uh, it was just a great ride. It was the first biotech company that had a commercial operation, and really, on the ground floor, started in 1988. And, um, it was, it was just the culture… You know, this is way before the dot coms were around, but the culture there was, you were appreciated for being a human, uh, you were appreciated for being an adult, you’re expected to deliver results.

Mike Miller:
It was so energizing, and I really just grew an affinity for that and had no reason to leave with the exception of the fact that that particular point in time, I was in a role where I was traveling a lot, and, uh, I was on the road three to four nights a week, managing half of the United States. And, uh, at that point, rewind the tape, uh, 10 years, and my kids were six, eight and 10. And I, I had to make an intentional choice. And actually, my wife took me to a, a, uh, an intentional living marriage conference in Phoenix, uh, that was hosted by Dr. Randy Carlson of Family Life Radio, and I was like, “Yeah, let’s go.”

Mike Miller:
So, we were there, and they, they were talking about living intentionally in Christ. And so, you know, I was sitting back and I was just about ready to finish… I was about a year and a half from finishing my MBA, and I said, “You know what, I’m gonna wake up one day and my kids are going to be gone and I’m going to be remembering the ba- you know, the trade table in the, on the airplane that I saw a lot of.”

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
And so I just said, “You know what, I’ve, I’ve got to change things, and I have to be able to spend time coaching them, and being with them, and, while they’re growing up. I can always go back and do other things later.” So, that was my reasoning. And it wasn’t necessarily the best time to start a company because it was 2010, and maybe it’s not quite as bad as starting in a pandemic, but, um, you know, at that time-

Brad Burrow:
Yeah, that was, that was right when the economy’s crashing.

Mike Miller:
Exactly.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah, yeah, that’s right.

Mike Miller:
Yeah. So, that was that bubble. And, uh, you know, fortunately, Genentech was one of my and still is one of my good clients and so they were wrapped into that, and, and developed a lot of other clients along the way now, so…

Brad Burrow:
Zero faith involved in that, uh, decision to jump out into-

Mike Miller:
No doubt.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
Uh, it was a step of faith for sure, um, and it was-

Brad Burrow:
A lot of reasons not to do it at that point, you know.

Mike Miller:
People thought I was crazy, and they really were like, “You’re doing what?” Because I was in a job that I really loved, and I love the organization, and, you know, I was in a great spot, um, but to take that step out then, it really required intentionality. And I really had to kind of dig deep and say, “You know what, I’m going to do this and I’m going to do it.” And I don’t regret that decision a bit, you know. I mean, there have been things and bumps along the way that, um, you know, getting insurance, you know, having employees, at one point I had, you know, six or seven employees, and so, you know, uh, I’ve adapted along the way, but it’s been, it was a great move.

Brad Burrow:
And then you got involved with, uh, Strengths Partnership.

Mike Miller:
Yes. Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
That, that seems like a pretty big deal.

Mike Miller:
Yeah, it was, you know, and I, I spent a couple of years studying at Gallup, and I went back to them, and I was coming up my own practice, and they said, I said, “Hey, I want to use your tools and I, I want to use Strengths Finder.” And they’re like, “Yeah, we don’t do that.” And I’m like, “What? You don’t do that?

Brad Burrow:
What?

Mike Miller:
I, I just spent two years studying here.” And, “Yeah, well, we know that you could go out and, uh, you can buy the book and do some things. There’s a lot of kind of a cottage industry around there.” And I was like, “Yeah, but if I’m going to be teaching leadership development, I’m not going to be doing things under the sly using this stuff that’s not mine that I don’t own. That’s just that leadership to me, that’s like…”

Mike Miller:
So, I kind of searched and searched and I came, uh, ran into this small little boutique company in England, uh, in London, called Strengths Partnership, and they had this incredible tool that they had developed about three years before that called Strengthscope. And I started using it, and I became certified in it, and I started using it with some clients, and they loved it. And the tools that they’ve developed around it, I mean, I actually be- uh, at one point decided I was going to become the US licenser of it, which I did. And we trained, you know, a couple hundred people to use it in their practices. So, for about seven years, I was the US licenser for Strengthscope, which was a great experience, but now I, somebody else has the license, my bu- former business partner, so…

Brad Burrow:
Yeah. But you built a lot of relationships through that, probably-

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
… and, and helped a lot of people, so that’s pretty, pretty cool.

Mike Miller:
Yeah, it was exciting, and it was exciting to see some, uh, to be able to take, you know, my, uh, knowledge of the in- of the instrument and, you know, help people, uh, build their practice, and, and, you know, teach them how to do it, how to do what we were doing with many of our clients.

Brad Burrow:
So, if you could look back right now and, and say there are some key takeaways from your career that have kind of shaped who you are now, you know, and things that you’re teaching-

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
… and things that you’re helping people with, what, what would those be?

Mike Miller:
Yeah, it’s a great question. So, from a leadership perspective, I, I always take the position of looking at what people do right versus what they do wrong. And sometimes that’s really challenging because sometimes people just do things that are wrong and, but most people are well-intentioned and, and, uh, intent is probably 95% of the game. I have worked with very few people who had, you know, malintent or, you know, were intend- intending to hurt someone. So, you know-

Brad Burrow:
But yet we always default to thinking that about people though, don’t we?

Mike Miller:
Yeah, it’s so easy.

Brad Burrow:
Don’t we? I mean, isn’t that right?

Mike Miller:
We do. And I think part of that is our, kind of our nature and in, um, the way we’re built. You know, we’re built, uh, to run from danger and fear and spot it really fast, right?

Brad Burrow:
Yeah, right.

Mike Miller:
Because it’s protection. And it kind of goes back to, you know, basic needs, and, but, you know, we do have a prefrontal cortex, uh, which is great, not just our amygdala which can get hijacked us, you know, and take over our emotions. And, you know, that’s the whole idea around, how do I engage intentionally and en- engage that prefrontal cortex till my, you know, that separates me from the animal kingdom, right?

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
So, and realize that most people don’t do things with, you know, malintent, or, you know, they’re, they’re, they intend to do well, and how do you find that? And if you find that in them and you, you spot that in them, how do you call it out, help them build on it, and, and give them what they need to be successful?

Brad Burrow:
Yeah. So, you, you are teaching leaders and, and managers how to do that even, even people that are working for them?

Mike Miller:
Yeah, yeah. And it’s, um, it’s very rewarding because it, it’s like multiplying the, uh, what you do. You know, you see that, and when teach that to other leaders, they take it out and they see somebody respond to it in a way that, “Wow, that, you know, that carrot-

Brad Burrow:
It worked.

Mike Miller:
… and stick didn’t work so well, but this did.”

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
And, you know, you can certainly… fear is a motivator, and it… you know, organizational practices were built on, you know, using that as, you know, “You better do this or you’ll get fired,” right? So, you can get performance through fear but you can get better performance through strengths, and through positive emotions, and positive organizational behavior, and, and serving others. You know, I’m a big believer in servant leadership and being able to, you know, have, be humble about yourself, but look at what people do right and give them what they need to be successful.

Brad Burrow:
So, beForte.

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
Where, where did that name come from? Give me, tell me the story behind that.

Mike Miller:
Yeah, that’s a great question. So, um, so, uh, we were trying to come up with something that kind of s- stuck with strengths, uh, and forte is strong in Latin, and forte.com was taken, so, uh, so, be-

Brad Burrow:
(laughs) So, it’s a web address then.

Mike Miller:
Yeah, yeah, part of it, you know, I think, but probably have the great branding exercise of it.

Brad Burrow:
True, you got to think about those things, you know.

Mike Miller:
You do, you do, you know. It’s a… So, um, “be”, is beForte, be strong. So, you know, it’s, uh, that’s how the name was arrived at, and, uh, it, you know, it kind of just stuck so.

Brad Burrow:
So, did you grow up around Indiana or is… where did you grow up?

Mike Miller:
Yeah, I grew up in northern Indiana in Elkhart-

Brad Burrow:
Okay.

Mike Miller:
… kind of the, um, land, the, the world of recreational vehicles. I think just about every RV in the country is built, uh, in Elkhart, Indiana. So, I grew up there and then, uh, you know, was there up until going to college in, in Bloomington, and, uh, spent… Then I moved, after college, I never lived in Indiana. I haven’t lived in Indiana since. I’ve been back there many times but, um, started in Ohio, then Florida, then Georgia, then Chica-, uh, Oklahoma-

Brad Burrow:
Wow.

Mike Miller:
… and, which is where I met my wife in Tulsa, and then Chicago, and then Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, Orange County, and then back to the middle in Kansas City.

Brad Burrow:
So, out of all those places, what’s your favorite?

Mike Miller:
You know, I’ve, I’ve always been a believer, you kind of bloom where you’re planted, so I loved every one of the experiences, right? I mean, Florida had the Beach, California had the beach,-

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
… and Chicago was just a thriving city.

Brad Burrow:
West LA sounds pretty exciting.

Mike Miller:
Really cool. I mean, to live in those big cities was a really great experience. Um, but I love Kansas City. I really do. I mean, I feel like this is home. I actually was telling my wife, I was like, “You know, we’ve lived in our house now 16 years. That’s the longest I’ve ever lived in one house.”

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
I mean, even when I’m, from when I was a kid. So, but I love Kansas City because it’s got so much to offer. It’s like a best kept secret, you know. The people are great, they’re kind, they’re, they’re, um, they have great values. You know, we’ve got issues, but man, there’s great restaurants, or sports teams, The Chiefs, big Chiefs fan. So, um, you know, it’s, it’s just a great place, but we loved living all the places that we lived.

Brad Burrow:
Do you feel like, um, you know, uh, we talk a lot about faith here at Real Media, that’s, you know, who I am.

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
And I do a podcast with a pastor, so it’s kind of a, a part of it. Do you feel like there’s a place for faith in work?

Mike Miller:
I absolutely do. Um, I think for those of us who are believers, um, it’s, it’s our ministry, it’s our, it’s our, where we can share our faith,-

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
… and where we can live through that, and have people ask questions, “Well, why is he focused on what I’m doing right? What’s that about?” You know, so… and be different, not conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. And I, I believe that the greatest field of mini- ministry is in the workplace. I absolutely do.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
And, um, I, you know, there’s a local, um, business ministry called UBN, and I’ve been, you know, really kind of warmed up to what they’re doing because they’ve been serving the workplace. But I think just in our own, um, sharing of our faith, I believe the workplace is that greatest field of ministry.

Brad Burrow:
So, tell me about UBN. What is that? I’ve not heard of that.

Mike Miller:
So, Unconventional Business Network.

Brad Burrow:
Oh, okay. Okay.

Mike Miller:
You’ve probably heard about Rick, uh, Boxx.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah, yeah.

Mike Miller:
And so yeah, it’s, uh, you know, they have a… he’s done a great job with that putting it together. In fact, uh, I’ve spoken on some of their… they’ve been running weekly webinars on Zoom since they couldn’t bring anybody together.

Brad Burrow:
Right.

Mike Miller:
They have been doing a great job of serving, you know, the local business community, small business who they don’t have, they’re not afforded the, um, big, um, budgets that maybe some of the larger companies are to bring speakers in, or do some of this stuff.

Brad Burrow:
Right.

Mike Miller:
And so he’s been really serving their needs really well. So yeah.

Brad Burrow:
How has COVID changed your business? You know, I can talk about Real Media, has it’s changed our business.

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
But I tell people this, it’s not about me. But I want to come out of this really thriving, not, not just surviving. A lot of companies are just trying to survive through this thing, and hopefully, the economy gets going again. Obviously, we’re recording this-

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
… you know, coming out of the lockdown and all that stuff, but, uh, how has it changed your business?

Mike Miller:
Well, if your business is 80% live workshops-

Brad Burrow:
Yeah, exactly.

Mike Miller:
… and you’re traveling to them, you have to pivot. So, it’s, um, you know, it was challenging at first and it, I didn’t really, you know, I was kind of like everybody, a little bit stunned, and then I got in the groove of, you know, “Okay, I’m going to get up and watch the news because I got to see what’s going on.” Well, that was a terrible thing to do, still is, because you just get into a spiral at the beginning of the day. And so, I then I started practicing, you know, my quiet time and, you know, gratitude. There’s a lot of great evidence around gratitude.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
You just start differently, and it just helps you manage what’s going on out there, try to quell the noise. But, um, yeah, I’ve had to flip, and, you know, I, I, I was a bit stuck because just on the very front of it, I was getting ready to go do a large workshop with a couple hundred people in San Francisco and the plug got pulled on that.

Mike Miller:
So, I was like, “Okay, now what do we do?” And, uh, you know, we kind of waited, and a month went by, and I, I finally got to the point where I was like, “You know what, I’m just going to help people right now. It’s all I’m going to do.” So, developed some, uh, use of materials. We, we have a product that I partner with another group in, in London, um, called Sales Motivations, and it’s really about mindset. And, you know, during this time, if you’re a customer facing person, all right?

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
You, your skills didn’t change, right? COVID didn’t change your skills. It didn’t change your technical capabilities, right? You still had those, but what was getting in a lot of people’s way was just all of the noise and the mindset, right? So, I decided to take this, uh, framework, which has a lot in cognitive behavioral psychology, which is kind of my interest, and, and, um, and, uh, you know, building resilience, and developed it into some micro learning workshops. And I just said, “You know what, I’m going to go give it to some of my clients. I’m just going to give it to them.” I said, “I got this. I just want to do 45 minutes, no charge,” just gave it to them, and they loved it. You know, I went around to all my clients and they just loved it.

Mike Miller:
Now that’s turned into a series, and, uh, a series of three or four workshops, and, uh, some tools around it. And, you know, that’s, that’s making waves. And so people are really benefiting, not just in their workplace, but outside of their workplace too, because I’ve been finding… and I don’t know many studies on this, I have to look at the evidence, but there’s this connection between if you can learn a skill that f- uh, really is helpful for you outside of work, you’ll probably apply it better inside of work. So, um, there’s a theory there somewhere, I’m sure. But, uh, certainly it helps from a job resource perspective of how you give, help build people up, that helps build engagement. So, you know, I did have to flip, and I’m still doing it.

Mike Miller:
An example. Um, so that workshop that was canceled, the 200 person workshop.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
So, I worked with your team, right?

Brad Burrow:
Right.

Mike Miller:
To… I, I had… people were Zoom fatigued at this point,-

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
… so you have to do something totally different. So, I made this proposal. This might have been my creativity and overdrive a little bit, by the way, but, um,-

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
… I made this proposal to this team. I said, “Let’s do a game, let’s do a game show.” So, I wrote a game show that was going to be an interactive session to engage their teams and break them into two groups, and that’s what you guys produced.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
And so, you know, we had to do something different. And you know what? They loved it. And, um, it was, now we’re doing follow on work with their ind- you know, smaller teams and breakouts, but, you know, you have to be, you have to think differently right now, and it’s, um, you know, to make it work. I’m sure you’ve had to do the same.

Brad Burrow:
Well, we have, and, and, and I think some of that, it’s, COVID, in some ways, has driven innovation a whole different direction that we would never have gone that direction without it.

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
You know, so in some ways, it’s… I don’t even know if I want to say it, you know, that it’s, it’s been helpful in some ways.

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
Uh, but, you know, it, I think you have to have the mindset to be able to change, right?

Mike Miller:
Hmm.

Brad Burrow:
I mean, that’s, I don’t know if you talk about that in your leadership deal, you know,-

Mike Miller:
Oh, sure.

Brad Burrow:
… and presentations at all, but, man, if you’re not willing to change-

Mike Miller:
Yeah, it’s like, uh, we talk, we do talk about it, and it’s, especially during this time, it’s, it’s critical to have a growth mindset, you know-

Brad Burrow:
Right.

Mike Miller:
… rather than looking, uh, versus a fixed mindset, looking at the problems and how those are going to be the end of you.

Brad Burrow:
Woe is me. How am I going to get over this deal?

Mike Miller:
Yeah, it doesn’t, it doesn’t work, and you have to be able to say, “What am I going to learn from this? What are the challenges that I can lean into my strengths and overcome these challenges? How can I do this differently?” You really have to have a growth mindset and, um, and, and be a bit resilient too because not everything is going to work. And, um, you know, I do think that it, it, you know, this situation that we’ve been put in, uh, the people who are going to thrive do have a growth mindset. That’s all there is to it.

Brad Burrow:
Mike, do you know of any resources that could help somebody that maybe is struggling, maybe it’s a small business owner, maybe it’s somebody in a small business, maybe it’s a, you know, mid level corporate person, that, maybe a book or some online resources where they could go and learn? Because I think we have to learn how to have that mindset.

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
I, I personally used to, you know, be the woe is me guy, and it seems like everything I thought was going happen bad happened.

Mike Miller:
Yeah, yeah.

Brad Burrow:
And then I’m like, “No, I’m not going to be that guy. I’m going to think positive, I’m going to believe that good things are happening and good things are coming.” And believe it or not, good things started happening.

Mike Miller:
Yeah, yeah. You know, Mr. K, he used to say, “You move in the direction of your dominant thought.”

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
And it was kind of way ahead of his time. But, uh, you know-

Brad Burrow:
There’s truth in that, right?

Mike Miller:
Absolutely. Absolutely. And it, uh, and I think, you know, some of it has to do with having some faith that you can move, you know, make that move, but, and, and trusting, uh, and trusting God that he’ll do the right thing by you. But, uh, but, you know, from the standpoint of practical tools and strategies, there are resources out there and, uh, books around growth mindset that you could tune into.

Mike Miller:
At UBN, um, I know that I recorded a, one of their semin- uh, webinars, uh, in, I think it was in March, and it, um, we talk about mindset through the storm, which is what we’ve titled this program.

Brad Burrow:
Right.

Mike Miller:
And, you know, these are the things that can just take you out, you know, like automatic negative thoughts, you know,-

Brad Burrow:
Right.

Mike Miller:
… which are ANTs, A-N-T-S. And those are thinking errors, and if they get in your way, if you have these thoughts, the, that’s a problem. You have to challenge those thoughts because they can become, they can become-

Brad Burrow:
But you have to learn how to do that, right?

Mike Miller:
Correct.

Brad Burrow:
Because it doesn’t just happen naturally.

Mike Miller:
No. And most of us tend to get stuck on those thoughts,-

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
… so that’s why they’re errors. So, you have to challenge them, uh, determine, you know, look, is, what’s right about this thought? What’s wrong about this thought? And kind of level your thinking.

Mike Miller:
What the other part about it is, and, is, um, uh, it, it really is about your response, right? Uh, Viktor Frankl said that the, there’s a time between stimulus and response, and you know, he was, you know, Nazi prison camp survivor.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
So, um, you know, that time between stimulus and response is where you have the opportunity to decide how you’re going to respond, you know, and that’s, that’s about engaging your thinking part of your brain versus just that amygdala, which is the emotional side of the brain. And, and that, that takes practice. It takes intentionality.

Brad Burrow:
That’s right.

Mike Miller:
It takes being able to stop before acting. And that’s not the world we live in, you know.

Brad Burrow:
Oh, it is not.

Mike Miller:
We’re in, we’re in a ready, fire, aim world.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
And just look at social media, you know.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
I mean, you know. And the other part about it is, is we just live in this world that is d- d- desiring and dying to be heard. You know, everybody wants to be heard, right?

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
But there are very few people who are listening. And if you can be a listener, that’ll slow you down as well, but it’ll also help you take in the situation a lot more effectively, have more empathy. Um, you know, I mean, people pay to be listened to, right? They’re called psychologists.

Brad Burrow:
Oh, yeah (laughs).

Mike Miller:
But, uh, but yeah, there are resources out there. You could Google Growth Mindset, you can look up that UBN, uh, talk that, that I did. Um, and, and really, it’s… uh, another practice that I think that is overlooked is mindfulness, and there’s really great science behind simple, uh, practices you can do each day to kind of center. Um, some people use it in a quiet time, you know, meditating on God’s word-

Brad Burrow:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike Miller:
… uh, but mindfulness, just, uh, for example, the Gratitude Journal, you know, just write down three day, three things each day, each morning that you’re thankful for that day.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
There’s significant scientific evidence to say that just puts you in a different place. Um, uh, Dr. Randy Carlson says that, um, you know, the further you are away from this moment right now in time, whether it’s, you know, thinking back or thinking forward, all right, the more anxiety you have. If you think about that, it really is compelling.

Brad Burrow:
Interesting. Yeah.

Mike Miller:
Yeah. So…

Brad Burrow:
Well, I really appreciate you coming on the show. It’s, it’s been great to have you.

Mike Miller:
Yeah.

Brad Burrow:
Um, somebody wanted to find you online, where would we find you, and, and if somebody wanted to engage with you to help their team, what would they do?

Mike Miller:
Yeah, sure. You can, uh, drop me a note at mike@beforte, B-E-F-O-R-T-E.com, or look us up at beforte.com and there’s a way to, to connect there, and happy to help out. We just enjoy what we do and helping, getting people to the point of, you know, how can we build on your success, because most people have successes, they just need to understand how they can go, take it to the next level.

Brad Burrow:
Yeah.

Mike Miller:
So…

Brad Burrow:
So, in closing, I have every guest give me their best rendition of the movie voice, and they have to go, “In a World with Real Media.”

Mike Miller:
Oh, yeah.

Brad Burrow:
Are you ready?

Mike Miller:
I am.

Brad Burrow:
Okay. Go.

Mike Miller:
In a World with Real Media.

Brad Burrow:
(laughs).

Mike Miller:
My voice… I’ve been talking too much today, I think, so it’s going hoarse. In a World with Real Media. How’s that?

Brad Burrow:
You know, I’ve had some pretty, pretty funny, uh, responses to that on, on the show, so you’ll be right in there.

Mike Miller:
(laughs) I love it. I love it.

Brad Burrow:
All right. This is, uh, the In a World with Real Media Podcast. Thanks for joining us. Feel free to subscribe. We’re going to have a lot more content coming out. So, thanks for joining us and we’ll see you next time.

Brad Burrow:
This has been In a World with Real Media. Thanks for joining us, and be sure to subscribe on iTunes and follow Real Media on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn so you never miss an episode.

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