How to Build a Team That Builds Your Business

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FEBRUARY 9, 2024

Join Leighton Healey as he sits down with Caleb Brunz, Head Coach, President, and Owner of Paul Davis Restoration of Greater St. Paul and Minneapolis, in the first episode of the "Winning With Workers" series, powered by KnowHow. Caleb shares his invaluable insights and firsthand advice on building a stronger, more cohesive team culture within the restoration industry, and we ensure you walk away with actionable advice on how to do the same.

Read more about Caleb's approach to training and culture on R&R Magazine, here.

Episode Transcription

Caleb Brunz: 
Everybody has a culture. 
Every company has a culture.
It's there no matter what, whether you're aware of it or not. It’s on us as leaders. And it's either positive or it's negative. Every culture has some positives and every culture, no matter how positive it is, has some negatives to it, but it's really, it's not creating a culture: you already have one. 
It's understanding: what is your culture? Does it align with your vision and values of the organization? And if not, what are the tangible things that you're doing to get that alignment? You gotta be willing to make the tough calls. You gotta protect it at the beginning. And you gotta be able to address what would be more the deal breakers of culture.
Having those filters from the start. If you don't have what's important to you. You're not going to know where to go with it. 

Paul Silliman: 
Hi, I'm Paul Silliman.

Leighton Healey: 
And I'm Leighton Healey. 

Paul Silliman: 
And this is the Restoration Playbook Podcast.
Leighton, tell me about what we have in store for everyone today. 

Leighton Healey: 
Paul, this is a new series.
We're kicking off a new series based around our research on how service providers can win with the workforce. We've done the research, and year after year, hiring and retaining staff is the biggest thing that keeps them up at night. And this is a changing landscape. The board game is changing and people need reliable tactics that they can implement to be able to make progress and to be able to feel like they are winning with the workforce.
We're going to be talking to experts in each episode focused on the eight proven principles that leaders are using today to win with our workforce.

Paul Silliman: 
Speaking of guests, who are we going to have on the show? 

Leighton Healey: 
I'm super excited. A good friend and a tremendous business builder is our first guest. His name is Caleb Brunz.
He's the Owner and Head Coach. At Paul Davis of Minneapolis and greater area, Caleb is a world-class culture builder. And so he is very, very equipped and qualified to come and speak to our first principle, which is: Build a Weird Culture. And culture is an engine that drives performance retention and tremendous employment experience in Caleb's business and he's going to open up the book and he's going to walk us through how he does it in a very tactical and-I think-a very approachable way.
So, I'm pumped. 

Paul Silliman:
We'll dive in with Caleb in a moment, but first, a word from KnowHow.
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Leighton Healey: 
So how have you been? 

Caleb Brunz: 
Great. It's been, it's been a great start to the week. Holiday season's over, so scoreboard: zero, zero. It's time to get going.

Leighton Healey: 
Well, here's what's in store for us.
In the fall of last year, we put out a book called Winning with Workers. And within that book, we outlined eight principles that we've identified that seem to be at work within the companies that seem to be having the most success with their workforces. And the first principle is that principle around culture.
But the way that we looked at it is that it's actually around building, kind of a weird culture. Meaning a culture that is distinct. It's not just this like repackaged culture, but it's really quite distinct. And so when I think when I was thinking about Individuals that come to mind that I think have really cultivated something that's very distinct in their culture I mean your name always comes right top of mind for me. And so that's what I was hoping we could talk about today.

Caleb Brunz: 
My name is Caleb Brunz and I'm President and CEO of Paul Davis Restoration. I'm out of Minneapolis, St. Paul, and also own the office in Duluth, Minnesota. Started the business about 13 years ago from scratch with myself and two other employees, one of which is still with me today and, you know, passionately started and I'm called the Head Coach as an informal title.
And that's really when I say we've built the business over 13 years, where we're close to 125, 130 employees across both offices. And, I didn't really build the business. I built the team that built the business. And I'm passionate about that fact. And the head coach title is really encompassing of what I'm passionate about, which is unlocking talent and potential within individuals.
And watching people grow from one point in their career or their, their understanding and their skill sets and experience to another point, and ultimately how they feel when they succeed and the rewards that both the company and the individual get. When they succeed is what drives, drives my passion.

Leighton Healey: 
And what do you think is underneath that, Caleb? Because as long as I've known you, that has been something that's been very characteristic of you. Is that you, you have this genuine desire to help people to, you know, as you and I might say, realize their potential, right? Like, like, what, what are the, if we follow the roots.

Caleb Brunz:
I know, I know where the roots come from that. I mean, I'm one of 13 children. I grew up very poor, did not have a lot of opportunities, but was always willing to work really hard, put in long hours, do manual labor. Grit is the word I would use to describe my upbringing and I'm, I feel blessed and lucky that I grew up with that because it became who I was and at the age of 20 having the opportunity to become an entrepreneur, own my own student painting franchise, really to see what that did for me from somebody who came from really what I had thought at the time, nothing. And my hard work to tap into a development culture and a teaching mentoring culture and, and how I learned and grew so much from that. I really was convicted that as I grew in my responsibilities.
That I had not a right, but I had that there's a better word for it. I had this obligation, if you will, to pass the torch and, and that was my responsibility to pass the torch, to continue to take what I had learned and hand it, hand it forward to other people. So I think at the root, that's really where that passion came from.

Leighton Healey: 
And when you look at, I mean, 13 siblings. Or 13, you know, 12 siblings and yourself, do you think that because because the term like we're talking about culture I'm talking about how do you how do you build we use the phrase in the book? How do you build a weird culture a culture that's very distinct and you know, it's thick you can kind of cut it with a knife I mean that is a little bit of your origin story.
Do you think that do you think that a person can be more? or less wired to be a great culture builder. Do you think it's a, do you think it's a, do you think it's a learned skill or do you think it's something that is, is really more kind of nurtured into you? What's, what's your perspective? 

Caleb Brunz: 
I think it's an and.
I think it can be both. I think it can be learned. And I also think that certain people have a higher propensity to be able to contain and, and, and be aware of, of a culture. I was thinking about the term culture today and, you know, at the root of the word culture, I always joke is the word cult. Now that has a negative connotation, but, you know, what does that mean?It means that people are all growing in the same sort of fashion and, you know, cultures and countries have a culture. States have a culture, provinces, regions, cities, neighborhoods, all the way down to the family unit, you know, and we're talking about upbringing, you know, our family definitely had a culture.
And I think that, you know, that it's, it's, to me, it's both emotional and intellectual. I think it's how people act, respond, it's values. In the organization, it's activities, but it's also an emotional piece. It's how people feel and how people in a culture make other people feel that also kind of holds the glue together in terms of the culture.

Leighton Healey:
I think that's a way, a great way of phrasing it. There's, there's something, I think there's something unfortunate that's happened in that somehow, somewhere along the line, culture, you know, left being this kind of like the, the field of, You think of like an anthropologist studying, uh, a people group, uh, you know, trying not to make contact because they haven't had much contact with the outside world, uh, and then pizza parties, you know what I mean?Like it's like some, somewhere things fell off the rails and I think it's because people want to be able to have, You know, they want to know shortcut ways to just quickly impact, you know, common organizational challenges like retention and, and, you know, positivity and, and morale and stuff like that.
Let's go inside your culture. Like, let's take a step inside your, your team. And, and I'd really appreciate if you could paint as much of a picture as possible. Sometimes when I'm thinking about culture, I think about like, you know, visiting someone's house and you, you know, like their house has a smell and you're like, Whoa, wow, that's a unique smell.
And they're like, wow, it smells like home, man. You know, there's a, that's what I mean by this kind of like a weird component to it. And so if we were to go on a tour. of your company. Maybe, maybe someone other than you is leading us on a tour and, and we're kind of goosenecking looking around. What are some of the things that we're going to see?
We're going to, what are we going to feel? What are we going to see some things that we experience that we might even say, well, that's kind of weird. Like paint us a picture. 

Caleb Brunz: 
Yeah. And for me, I'll, I'll paint what I would see. And it doesn't necessarily feel weird because to me, again, it's the smell of my own, of my own house.
It's home. But the feedback I've seen is when people walk in and start to interact with, with our team members and are hanging out in our facility, they would see, they would see an excitement. They would see a very warm and welcoming environment from any position in the business, whether you're a technician or a cleaner in the contents facility.
Or you are in management or in leadership, you wouldn't really know who's who, maybe because of some of the dress and attire, but you wouldn't feel a difference. There would be a bit of a feeling of no hierarchy, even though there's a different level of responsibility with every person. You would feel a sense of most people knowing everybody else's names.You would feel a sense of pride. This group takes a lot of pride in where we're going as an organization and what we're doing. And you'd see a lot of excitement. There's a genuine amount of excitement in our culture for opportunities to continue to grow and move along in whatever career path people are in, in whatever track or role and responsibility that they're currently in.
Outside of that, you'd see a lot of fun. We've got a lot of fun developed into our new space. And you just see an overall positive attitude that would come from most people who work here. 

Leighton Healey: 
And you've recently moved into a new facility. And, and so I'm curious, like when you were shopping for a new building, you know, there's the business case for, for expanding your space.
There's, there's, you know, there's the practical requirements of making sure, you know, your people aren't, you know, working on top of each other. But what role did culture play in, in the decisions you made on that space and your build out camp?

Caleb Brunz: 
Well, one of the Areas where we were lacking in the past is as we grew, we all grew our first warehouse and we had to move our second warehouse.
Down in the same complex, but it wasn't that walkable and we had to move our office, same complex, but it took, if you wanted to go say hi to somebody, you really had to maybe get in a car, go around the block or take a five minutes, six minute walk. And we all know we can feel so busy that we can't have the time for that.
And so it was very decentralized in a way. So absolutely. One of the perks of our new building was to get everybody under one roof and the amount of speed and energy. And I use the term emotional contagion. It's the transference of emotion from one human to the next without speaking. That just now naturally occurs.
I mean, I can walk down and say hi to people in their offices. I make it a point to walk around the office and smile and say thank you to people for, for doing what they're doing. We've got a fun space because we had some extra space. We have a social space and we've got a golf simulator. We've got a game room with pool tables, ping pong tables, basketball, like, you know, all the pool, you know, all the shuffleboard, all this fun stuff.And we haven't even barely tapped the, uh, the potential of all that because we're still finishing our setup. But you know, that it's not just all, you know, sunshine and rainbows either. This group works. Works really, really hard. So that was definitely a part of it and part of the opportunity in terms of the building, but it's really, the other part of that is we're a culture of winning, getting things done.
And we've sped up the, uh, amount of ability to get things done by quickly, you know, talking to somebody versus sending an email. It takes two days for them to reply and two days for you to reply to their reply and three days for them to reply to your reply from their reply. You get where I'm going with that.So, so speed and that has definitely helped. Um, with our culture of getting things done and achievement. 

Leighton Healey: 
So, so I'm someone on your team. Maybe I just joined the team. And, you know, we all want to be recognized. And we all want to be praised. I've, I've always been very interested in what types of behaviors, um, has, has leadership intentionally dubbed praiseworthy.
In hopes of them cultivating more of it, you know what I'm saying? Well, And, Yeah. So if I want to get praise, like, how, how do you think about, how do you think about using praise as a mechanism to cultivate desired behaviors? And then what does praise look  like in your company?

Caleb Brunz:
We have a saying that find people doing things right.It's so easy to find where everybody needs to improve and change, but human nature sometimes is just focused on the negative, and we make it a point to focus on the positive. And so where we recognize that specifically is around. We call it shout outs. You know, what have you seen of your peers where you go?Wow, they did this for this client. They did this for their team member in the job, in the working environment or in our restoration business. And every quarter we do an all team meeting. And in that all team meeting, we spend some time, we break off and we break into small groups and gives people a chance to intermingle, talk amongst themselves and their goal is to share experiences of catching other people doing things right.
And then they sit back down and we call on people and people are proud to raise their voice in public and talk about somebody else. And the story they heard or what they saw and it's genuine and it's rounds of applause and you know, it's not always big things. It's sometimes doing some of the little things that make the biggest difference in showing our clients care and concern and showing, showing each other care and concern.
So, but you know, you talked about new people even being recognized when our new hires come on board. We sent out an email welcoming them aboard with a little bit of their bio and a picture and something about them personally and what they like to do for fun. We also show that in our newsletter that's monthly.
And the coolest part is, and it's a very fun because you know, Leighton, you know that people's two biggest fears in life? Do you know what they are? 

Leighton Healey: 
I, well, I, I can, I'm happy to take a stab at it.

Caleb Brunz: 
Go ahead. 

Leighton Healey: 
Well, I would think that one fear is a fear of, probably irrelevance or probably a lack of, of footprint or legacy. You know, they didn't get to write their name in the wet paint of history or the wet cement, I should say.
And maybe loneliness?

Caleb Brunz: 
Those are really deep. These aren't as deep. But the first one is either, either death by fire or drowning. It's, it's, and the second one is speaking in public. So those are, those sound much, yeah, those sound much more realistic.
I know. I appreciate where you're going with that, but our new hires, they, we have them trounce up on stage in front of everybody else, introduce themselves and say their name and what role they're in and why they chose to join Paul Davis and they get a round of applause. So you're talking about some recognition pieces.
So we just even recognize the fact that they joined a winning team. We recognize that they took a risk in joining Paul Davis and we recognize that. You know that they're on the team. So, you know, you're talking about praise and recognition and it's not fluff. I mean, it's not like everybody gets a trophy.
I'm not a believer of that. We are an absolute aristocracy where we, where we, where we don't do that. But when you find people doing things right, it's absolutely important to recognize it. Yeah. 

Leighton Healey: 
So, on, on that, how do you think about this? Because this is something that I, I think about a fair bit is there's a buddy of mine, he, he wrote a book and I, there's a line in it that really stuck out to me and it said, one of the challenges in building up teams is that you, you have to find a way to help high performers become facilitators of high performance.
And so oftentimes, in, in cultures, you know, that we want to praise them, you know, they want that praise. And so then to, to, to feel safe that they can direct praise at their peers, there's like, there's like a selflessness that I think came with the person when they came in the door. But there's also, I would think, there's like a, there's almost like an unspoken confidence that there will be opportunities for me to be recognized.
How do you, how do you think about cultivating selfless praise in light of the fact that people also want to be praised? 

Caleb Brunz: 
Well, that's a good question. I think also the older you get and the more self aware you become, you don't need as much of that external praise because you're, you know, you're good enough for yourself.
Now, with that said, we all like a good attaboy, like, you know, uh, Leighton, it's been awesome to see you grill your company. I'm so proud of you. Right? It's been, it's been, it's neat to see where you've gone and how you've grown over the last three years, right? That feels good, right? We all, we can all say that, that, that, that feels good.
You inviting me on here to talk about what we've done, you know, as humble as I am, I do appreciate it. And, and, you know, in a way it, it recognizes what we've done. So thank you for that. So we all do, uh, yeah. Like praise. And I don't really know for me what we do specifically to do that. I think in culture, when we talk about culture and I'll use more of a broad answer for this, it's I think that the leader's heart and the leader's personality, who they are as a person and the leader's values and the organizational values are really at the heart of culture.
We used to use the term late and you're probably familiar with speed of the leader speed of the pack. And it's really so if the leader is selfless in handing out praise to anyone or their direct reports, I think that gives people, you know, the unconscious permission to do likewise. So I would say that that's one of the things and I would say honestly, 100 percent of culture starts with the, with the first and foremost, the leader and then the leadership team and then the team leaders and, and it's their responsibility to carry, to carry that forward and to protect that culture. So this is one example of that.

Leighton Healey: 
So how would you, like, if you had to lead like a, just like a micro masterclass on the mechanics of how to properly praise somebody, because I think for some people it's just, you know, it's, it's.
You know, I said, good job, like, why are you on me about this, right? Like, how would you, how would you coach someone that is, you're giving more responsibility, they're gonna have some reports, and they've never actually, no one's ever told them, like, how do you properly praise someone? Like, how would you respond to that?

Caleb Brunz: 
I don't know if there is a formal, proper way to do it outside of having a, um, a spirit of authenticity with, with that praise. Me, personally, finding somebody doing something right. It needs to be something that's real, right? False praise is worse than no praise at all, in my opinion. And so catching somebody doing something right might seem little, but is bigger than you think.
And praising people doing things right. What that does is it validates that you'd like those things to continue. So if you're seeing things in your organization that somebody's doing really well with and you want it to continue, you're, it's a good bet. It's almost. Frankly, it's almost a better bet to bet on praising that performance you want to see continue happening than it is to even address the performance that's not happening.
If I was to bet and say if I could only, if I had to choose, and I could only do one of those, one would be to find all the things that people need to work on and address it and talk to them about it. Or all the things that people need to continue, that's going well, and I had to bet on one of those, and I could only do one of 'em.
I would absolutely bet on focusing on the positive and the strengths of what's, of what's, what's going well, and so finding those little things, I think everybody's a little different. You gotta understand a little bit about their personality, if they're more shy or reserved. It may be better one to one taking him aside and say, Hey, I've noticed, man, you've done a great job every month of cleaning these reports up.I know it's part of your job. I know it's a simple task, but man, I can't tell you, it may seem simple to you, but to get those reports every month consistently is such a big deal to me because I don't have to worry about it. I don't have to think about it. I don't have to come back to you. I don't have to do extra work.
And it means a lot to me and taking that person aside, I'm using kind of an example for maybe an accountant, right? Simple things that they would feel like, well, it's just part of my job. Letting him know how it actually impacts the organization and how it impacts you in a tangible way helps connect the dots for them versus just saying, hey, great job on those reports.
And they might walk away going. Well, he is just, he's just looking to gimme false praise. So I, that's what I would do. 

Leighton Healey: 
Yeah, I think it makes a lot of sense. I think it makes a lot of sense. I think that's really good advice. And now I, the, the other side of that, and I, I think, I think you would agree that what you're not saying is, you know, always praise.
There are times where there's some realignment. Sometimes when I think about culture building, I think about, I, I just, I think about gardening and I think about in when you garden, you prune and you weed and. How do you think about, how do you think about pruning your culture and safeguarding your culture?
And, and could you give us some practical examples of things that you've done? 

Caleb Brunz: 
Absolutely. Well, for starters, for us, culture starts with knowing what kind of culture we have. What do we want? And, and having that somewhat defined, I think it's defined in, in your core values. For us, it's grit, growth, integrity, compassion, and respect.
And so, if you have those filters, It starts really in the interviewing process and the recruiting process to make sure you're looking for people who would align with those for looking for people who would align with introspection or whatever, whatever value is important to how the business is going to operate because if they don't and you have your culture, two things are going to happen.One, they're going to be unhappy because they don't fit the culture. Or two, they will become potentially cancerous, not intentionally, but just who they are potentially. Or a weed, in your example, they become a weed in that garden. So, there's the proactive approach, which you, it's, you know, you don't always get right.
In fact, you're probably going to get right maybe 50, 60, 70 percent of the time. But that's better than zero if you don't take that proactive approach. And then the, the guarding of it is really, really important. And I'll say it this way, I'll steal it from  Gary Vaynerchuk. If you're not willing to fire your highest performer because they are killing your culture, then you're not a good leader.
And so part of that is you got to be willing to take a perceived hit on results for performers potentially who are doing really well. One example, we had somebody, one of my longest employees was with us 12 years, a year after we started the business and we're in a leadership level in one of our service lines and he was performing.
But we continually get feedback from our adjusters that he was unapproachable, that he was not very workable in terms of solutions, was very black and white in his approach, and more importantly, from the folks he was leading, we got a lot of feedback about how hard it was to work with this individual.
And so. We addressed it, we sat him down, we created a plan, we highlighted these items, and we did it for a while over, you know, almost over a year. So we give a lot of chances and then at some point we just had to say, you know what? The results are great, but we gotta let you go. And what always happens where you really understand that you did the right, I call it the collective sigh of relief that happens in an organization. There's like this, oh, we can breathe. And so folks on that team was really, I mean, the energy that came out of that has now shifted that entire team's culture. One of the best team cultures we have is a sub team in the, in the, in the whole organization.
So that's one of the way you got to be willing to make the tough calls. You gotta protect it at the beginning and you gotta be able to address what would be more the deal breakers of culture, which is, you know, respecting people that that was our respect piece. So again, having those filters from the start, if you don't have what's important to you in your culture.You're not going to know where to go with it. I just want to say this for the viewers. I think most people understand this, but maybe they don't. You talked about, you know, either throwing a pizza party or that's culture, or on the other side it's, you know, this deep sociological equation. Everybody has a culture.Every company has a culture. It's there no matter what. Whether you're aware of it or not is on us as leaders. And it's either positive or it's negative. I'm sure every culture has some positives and has in every culture, no matter how positive it is, has some negatives to it. And so that's important to know.
And it's really, it's not creating a culture. You already have one. It's understanding what is your culture? Does it align with your vision and values of the organization? And if not, what are the tangible things that you're doing to get that alignment? 

Leighton Healey: 
Yeah, that's very well said. Sometimes the way I've thought about it, and I don't know if it's a perfect, I don't know if it's a perfect example, but I've started to say culture is like a childhood.
Like everyone had a childhood. You can't say that a company doesn't have a culture. You can't say a kid didn't have a childhood. Now, there's ways that we evaluate whether or not it was a. Bad childhood or a good childhood and obviously there's a measure of how we write of recollection But you know so much of a child's experience in the way They're nurtured the way that that community and belonging was was facilitated by caregivers You know, I think there's some in there's some interplay between that and company culture.
What do you think? 

Caleb Brunz: 
Yeah, I would agree with you you were talking about character. Apply it into a company culture.

Leighton Healey: 
Yeah, character, I mean, it the end of the day, the more building on what you're saying is that I think some people don't give that much thought and consideration in the in the book we talk about how, just what you said is that every company has a culture, You might just You might just have a culture of just being very transactional with people and applying very little consideration to the human experience of working together.
And that's our culture. Like, let's just, let's just call it what it is. Maybe let me, let me, let me ask a different question to you, Caleb, is for a company that's maybe never been intentional about their culture, where do they start? Like, where do they start? 

Caleb Brunz: 
I would start with walking around and talking to people, have some questions designed for every level in the organization, meet people where they're at, find out what do they like about the company, what don't they like about the company.
And there's an art to that because they need to feel safe that they can actually share that with you. And so there's an ability to, you know, help them to be vulnerable by you being vulnerable and saying, Hey, I want to know how my company's doing. I want to get better. What are some things we can do to get better at as a company?
And so I would get as much of that information. You could do the surveys, you could do all that stuff, but I frankly think it's best to go face to face and look people in the eye and try to break down the emotional barriers. That would prevent them from sharing because the survey is going to go only so far.
Half the people are going to fill it out and it's not going to feel like you really care. It's just going to become another email. So that's how I would go about trying to figure out where am I at. Have a vision of where you want to be. Again, back to your filters, what's important to you. And then start to communicate what's important to you.And then start to make those decisions with new people coming in. That's your easiest way to make this change. And then start to work with those. that might be in between clarity around it, you st Here's our culture, here what we want to see and p with what, uh, the old sa on expands, right? And wo need to hear things 10 ti finally listening for theOne, focus on it. Two, the definitions again and get your words that you can repeat over and over and over again and then do that, it starts to become second nature. I'll give you an example. Our vision frame. We have these things we call marks. How do we know we're on track? One of those is that we're worth every dollar.So people know this saying one. Another one of those is that we're crushing it. Another one is our reputation precedes us. And so, you know, people come back from a job and they're like, Oh my God, we crushed it, man. We're just crushing it this month. And so these things get in the collective vernacular. And then that starts to build culture.I'm going to go a little tangent here, but it's so important to think about this. Back to culture in general and what you were talking about. Words create action, and words create action based off of energy that comes out of the picture we feel or see out of that word. So the word creates a mental image.
The mental image creates emotion within us to be able to take that action. So when you think about People the people business. It's so cool when you really start to understand the people business. It's not human capital here We're talking about we're talking about human souls and we're talking about people who have energy levels I call them oodles.We all have a certain amount of oodles of energy and we have more oodles of energy When we're clean burning, it's like great gas is coming in. We're burning clean. We're being more efficient We're getting way more done because we've got all these oodles of energy the other one is the negative side. So when people are struggling emotionally, they just get less done.
And so many times our job as leaders is to create as much clean burning energy. An emotion in the organization is possible because that gets more done. Happy people produce more people who like their jobs, like the organization and like the people they work with get more done because they care more.They want to stay there. They want everybody else to do well around them. And the opposite is true. And so if people still don't take this seriously, I would tell you you're missing out on a huge. R. O. I. Of the time invested in the money invested to create this clean burning energy in your organization, which has to do with dealing with people emotions.
And if you don't like humans and you don't like the mess that we all are because we're all messy and we all bring our home stuff to work and we all bring our work stuff home. And if you don't treat your job as a bit of a somebody who has to be a bit of a closet psychotherapist and psychologist and understand the dynamics, get out of leadership.If you don't like people, get out of leadership, in my opinion. And don't run a company that has a lot of people, because you're just doing the world a disservice.

Leighton Healey: 
You know, I, there's so many good things that you said there, but I have to, I've got to ask, what are some examples of things that make for a bad burn?
You know what I'm saying? Like what? So if the goal is clean, you know, I just think of a nice clean burn and then my mind goes to, you know, that sputtering generator that you're trying to get going or that, you know, that, that diesel truck that leaves you in a cloud of oil smoke as you pull off from the, from the, you know, from the intersection.
What, what are examples of things that cause for, for, uh, suboptimal burn, you know, what gets in the way of just pure oodle power?

Caleb Brunz: 
When someone's having a bad day and the company or their manager or their leader piles on to them or you're coming they're coming back from a long day of work and They walk into the shop and all sudden the managers starting to tell them everything that did wrong that day Or why isn't the stuff put away right away?
And and it's just been one of those long days All that's going to do is crush morale, defeat energy, and the next day they're not going to be as excited to go back out there and go crush it, as an example. And so when, when those understanding how people are feeling and being careful when to choose, as we talked about earlier, when to praise, And when to give some constructive criticism, you've got to understand your audience at that time as well.
I think that's, that's super important to remember. And then again, if, if there is bad energy with certain individuals who you just know are toxic because their life is toxic, that will just, again, as we talked earlier, you know, weeds, weeds will spin off more weeds, right? As we know in gardening, or, or cancer spreads.
That other tangible piece is, again, to remove that if it gets, if it can't get course corrected, to remove that as soon as you can, because that will, again, have that bad burning energy, if you will.

Leighton Healey: 
Well, let me ask, I want to go back to a comment you made earlier and go in a little bit deeper. So, You have, I, I would say that based on what you've described and what I've experienced of your company is that, you know, your, your company is a thick milkshake, like there is some real body to, to what you've built.
It's really impressive. But how do you. Spotlight your culture in a selection process so that you do it justice and then also, how do you fit test in your selection process for culture? What does that look like for you and your team? 

Caleb Brunz: 
So the promotion piece of it, one of the sayings that we have is as we be, they become.So we're role modeling that and who we are through the first phone call of a candidate through the entire interview process. How are we treating them? Do we do what we say we're going to do? And we're very process driven on our recruiting process. Most people are blown away that the fact that we schedule a time to actually give them a decision before they leave their interview.
You know, there's no like, I'm just going to go interview and we'll wait and see what happens. So, there is that piece that promotes the culture. It's all how we talk. How vulnerable we get, how open we are to share the excitement we have in that interview about where we're going as an organization, the willingness to match their needs with the positions to talk about development.I mean, all that foundation of culture is literally done through the interview process. And if they don't like that, that's self selecting and that's okay. We also, it's a little tangible thing, but every. The process for us starts with a very informal meet and greet, where we bring our candidates through.
And we give 'em a tour and we give 'em a tour of the building, but it's really a tour of the facility and the people, and everybody seems to walk away from that and say, I mean, we did this in our old facility through multiple buildings and, you know, it was really not a well very old and decrepit facility, and people still walked away with that.
Now, in that one we'd say, Hey, don't, don't look at the building. It's not about the building. It's about our people meet the people, understand our business. So, so, so the tour, so to summarize at the tour and then who we are and how we facilitate from the process helps promote that the, the word you use to how to, how do we vet that in them to see if there is alignment, we have a couple of things, one, we use a profile tool called culture index that's more around aligning their.natural strengths and abilities with the different jobs that we have to offer. It doesn't always, it doesn't measure values. We know that. And since culture is mostly based on values, it doesn't necessarily vet that, but it gives us some starting point of, can it work in the right position? Really, the only thing we have to go by is past experiences.
How do they react with a challenging question in the interview? Examples, examples, examples. So we say, don't show me, tell me. Like, tell me where this was. And so we have questions related to the values. Tell us a time where you had to get through adversity or you showed grit. It's one of it. We'll speak like this.
It's one of our core values. Give us an example and then we'll probe deeper. Okay, tell us a little bit more. Why were you proud of that? And we can gauge from their level of response. Have they really been tested? Do they really have? And then we do multiple people in an interview because as humans, we can put what we call halo effect on people, which you're familiar with Leighton and having two people in the room.
One person can Really see a lot more than the one who's facilitating the interview and through our recruiting process, we absolutely have new candidates talk to other people who are in the organization. It's both for the foundation for them to receive the vibe. It's also for our people who are on the team to protect what they love, and they will tell us flat out.
Please don't hire this person. I got a bad vibe or hey, something's going on here. Now we got to talk through that. Make sure it's legit. But those are some ways in which we. We hope that who's coming in. And frankly, there's an expectation. Once you've got the interview, now you've got your working interview, 30, 60, 90 days, and it's okay if you don't fit here and it's okay if we see you don't fit here.
So, you know, just cause someone's joined the team. Doesn't mean that it's like any performance driven team. It's like any sports team, if they show up on the team and they start missing practice or they're performing at practice and they're hungover and they're not delivering, you know, it's like any, any football team, they're going to get cut.
And people join us knowing that, hey, this is a winning culture. We want to win and we're always looking for great people and we're always recruiting. So. It's not that people are afraid of that. It's actually the high performers want to be part of that. So the people in the company aren't afraid to lose their jobs.

Leighton Healey: 
Let me ask a couple of questions before we move into kind of a rocket fire round here, Caleb. And this is something I, I've, I often ask and I think about it myself. And I always wonder, you know, how clear is my team on this? And it's, it's kind of one of those questions that I think it's easy to shy away from.
But I think there's a lot in it and it's. What does it take for someone to get fired on your team? And how widely and how, how, how, how clearly is that known?

Caleb Brunz: 
Any breach in values. There's tangible, intangible values. If there's, you know, a complete breach of no, no brainers in most organizations, theft, embezzlement, not that we've ever had that.
Hopefully never will. You know, it's automatic, right? There's certain violations that are automatic. And, you know, we have handbooks and all that good, fun HR stuff, which is definitely needed in organizations. Outside of that, when it gets to some of the softer pieces of values and culture, people do understand that, you know, we are a company of second chances.
Yes. We're rarely not a company of third chances. So we will address situations. We will talk people through, try not to, you know, we've used PIPs before, but I don't like PIPs. If you're using a PIP with somebody, I've rarely seen somebody ever stick around in a company once it's called a PIP or a performance improvement plan.But it usually comes up in what we call performance meetings, annual, quarterly, when people start in the organization, we have 30, 60, 90 day check ins, six month check ins. So some of these course correcting come up in there. And if it's not happening, usually the person knows it, oftentimes will quit because they don't want to be a poor performer in a winning culture.
Or it's just the writing's been on the wall. And we have to let him go. So that's, that's the, I guess, the best way I can describe. And when we've done this enough, we hope we're not taking advantage of this. But we always would rather give people enough chance than not enough chance. And sometimes it burns us.
But here's the visual I would leave you with. And I learned this a long time ago. I want to know that I did everything in my power to give them the skill they needed, to give them the direction they needed, to give them the clarity they needed, to give them the leadership they needed, to do the job. I want to know that the company respected them enough.
We gave them what we give everybody to be successful in the role. So I call it, so we can have clean hands. So we don't ever look back and go, yeah, part of that was on us. We threw him in a role, we trained him wrong, man, that's on us, shame on us. And I never want to feel that feeling because I have before and it's not good.
That's when you know you got to change something big in your company. Anyway, does that help explain? 

Leighton Healey: 
Very much so. Yeah, that's well said. And I think that as you're saying that, that any listener with experience in the leadership seat, they probably have flashbacks of experiences where they've sometimes I've, when I've advised.
You know, emerging leaders, I've told them, I say, you know, it's hard, truth, but sometimes the road to becoming a great leader is sometimes paved with the bodies of followers where you had to, you know, you made a mistake and, you know, hope you learned from it, right? Cause there's, you know, there's some collateral damage there, right?
And to your comments earlier, these are real, these are real people. Yeah. Caleb, let me, let me, I want to throw some kind of rocket fire round questions at you. What is one thing. that you would recommend leaders stop doing to create a stronger culture in their workplace? 

Caleb Brunz: 
Stop killing your culture with negativity.If you're always focused on the negative, I would stop doing that first and foremost. And we all do it. So I would just say stop doing that the best that you can. And focus on the positive.

Leighton Healey: 
What do you think about, I remember one time I read a book about like how Disney operates and there's like Disney that the customers see, then there's like Disney behind the scenes where like Mickey Mouse is like having a cigarette, you know, let me just take what you said there just a step further because I think that it merits asking, how do you think about not being negative within the trusted circle of your management team.

Caleb Brunz: 
You mean when I'm interacting with my team?

Leighton Healey: 
Yeah, because sometimes I find that leaders will exude that positivity with their frontline staff, but then when you get behind closed doors at the management team, then some of those rainbows disappear and it's really more about, you know, the hard truth. How do you think about living out that? That advice that you just described with those closest to you in your inner circle of management?

Caleb Brunz: 
It's almost easier to focus on the negative with your inner circle. Because you take for granted that they because they're in your inner circle, you take for granted that they need praise. So it is very important, if not more important, that with those folks, you're equally focusing on the positives.
And again, it starts with the leader. And if you're doing that, they're gonna do it likewise to the people that they lead. If it's outwardly focusing on praise, then they're really not doing it if they're not also seeing it lived out through your interactions with that inner circle. And there's a lot of great things that your leadership teams are doing, and that your team leaders are doing, that do need to continue.
That you can find things to focus on. And the other thing I was going to say, and this is for myself, I always try to remind myself to smile. Smiling is my favorite, right? Look what happens when you smile. It's contagious, right? That emotional contagion, right? You walk around with a smile. Like, does it really matter if there's stuff to work on?
Yes. But does it, can you, can you talk about it with a smile? Yeah, you could probably talk about the things to work on with a smile. You don't have to be, you know, doom and gloomer all the time. So anyway, a little tangent, but… 

Leighton Healey: 
No, it's, it's good. It's, it's, it's good advice. And it's, I know that there's some, you know, there's some, there's some, there's some miles behind that, that advice.
And so it's good advice. Okay. Couple last rocket round questions here. What's one thing you'd recommend that leaders start doing to build a strong culture. 

Caleb Brunz: 
Start to put some money in your budget and, and there's hard money and there's time in your budget, which is money. So make it a priority. And the only way to make it a priority is to add time and add money to this being a focus for you.

Leighton Healey: 
Well said, and let's talk about long term bets. And so many things with culture, my experience has been, they take time. And so. Are there any long term bets that you'd recommend leaders take when it comes to their culture that you found has really paid dividends? 

Caleb Brunz: 
The number one focus area for us is development and growth.And it takes time to develop that into your culture and it takes resources. We have an IIC certified trainer on staff. Guess what? Guess who wants to come get their certs? The rest of the metro area, right? It, it's a, it takes time and money to do that. And what we have found is people just need to see a path.
And so that development piece allows to get in touch with We have a culture of no ceilings. If a technician came into our company and 20 years later they wanted to become an owner, I would love to see that opportunity. And you can't have that without a culture of wanting people to learn and grow, but it takes resources to be able to do that and tangible meetings to plan out what does the path look like for that individual based off not the company's needs, their needs, and then plug them into how that can work for the company.
So focused on development and growth.

Leighton Healey: 
Very good advice. Last question, Caleb. You know, if you had an opportunity just to take the stage. You know, the entire industry that you belong to is, is edge of their seat. What's one thing that you would want to teach them about attracting and retaining talent in this industry today?

Caleb Brunz: 
I would really challenge everybody to think long term about raising the standard of our industry. outside of our industry that would look at this and say, how do we get curriculum in the schools? How do we get this career opportunity known to as young as possible of people to grow the amount of people that we have to choose from to work in our industry?
You know the stats, Leighton, we know the stats across construction and trades that that workers are not plentiful. They're getting fewer and fewer, especially as people retire. And if we don't do something to proactively look at that. And it's not just students, it's also non-traditional restoration workers.
It's embracing the Hispanic workforce. It's creating English as a second language at your facility, or Spanish as a second language, and embracing those cultures, embracing the disenfranchised. In the inner cities and really look to become the lighthouse for attracting talent outside of our industry.
Cause if we don't do that, I think we're going to be really, really struck. I'll say it this way. I think that's our competitive edge. The more we're focused on that, we will continue. The more we build the market share of people, all of our competitors who won't be able to do that. Won't be able to service the same amount of clients, and those clients are inevitably going to go to the companies that can service someone in a good way, and that's going to be us.
So that's what I'd leave it with.

Leighton Healey: 
Solid. Every time we talk, Caleb, I leave with, I always leave with two things. I leave with, I leave with more respect than I had for you, and it's already high, so it's, you know, so it's, so it, you know, because, you know, you, you practice what you preach. And, and then a laundry list of things that, that I want to do in my team.
So thanks for really being generous with what you've built because I know you've put a lot of time and effort into it, so thanks for being our guest. 

Caleb Brunz: 
I'm honored to have been invited Leighton. So thank you. 

Leighton Healey: 
So there you have it. Caleb provided the playbook on how you build a weird culture and a culture that retains staff and accelerates them.
I hope you enjoyed that. You can find more resources at and if you want to learn more and you want to be able to provide your staff with some step-by-step guidance, check out our new series with R&R Magazine at There's some great step by step guidance that complements what we've provided in this podcast.

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