New Strategies for Workplace and Personal Success in 2023, featuring PILOT

Hosted by

Steve Boese

Co-Founder of H3 HR Advisors and Program Chair, HR Technology Conference

Trish Steed

CEO and Principal Analyst, H3 HR Advisors

About this episode

New Strategies for Workplace and Personal Success in 2023, featuring PILOT

Hosts: Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane

Guest: Ben Brooks, Founder & CEO, PILOT

This episode of At Work in America is sponsored by Paychex, one of the leading providers of HR, payroll, retirement, and insurance solutions for businesses of all sizes. The only constant in business is change, and 2023 will be no exception. That’s why hundreds of in-house compliance professionals at Paychex compiled a list of regulatory issues that could impact businesses the most this year to help you prepare. In our guide, find out about federal and state regulations and programs that may affect your business and your employees in the coming year, so you can take appropriate action now. Visit to check it out, today.

This week we met with Ben Brooks from PILOT to talk about finding success in the new year by building in new strategies for personal and professional growth.

– Employee disconnection and what to do about it

– Goal setting and how to achieve your goals

– How technology can help the process

– Employee experience in the remote/hybrid workplace


Learn more from PILOT here

Thank you for joining the show today!  Remember to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts!

Transcript follows:

Announcer 0:00
Welcome to At Work in America sponsored by Paychex. At Work in America digs in behind the headlines and trends to the stories of real people making a difference in the world of work. And now here are your hosts, Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane Steed.

Steve 0:24
Welcome to the At Work in America show! We have a great show today. It’s kind of an annual tradition here on the At Work in America podcast. We welcome our friend Ben Brooks from PILOT at the beginning of each year, and we actually welcome him about midway through the year as well for a health check midway. But before Ben joins us, Trish, how are you? Good to see you.

Trish 0:45
I’m good. I’m buried in snow here in the Midwest. But other than that, fantastic.

Steve 0:50
Yeah, and the snow Trish, it’s good. Glad to hear that. You’re fantastic. The snow is playing havoc though with your connection, and your conductivity. We’ve actually had some fun in the pre show joking around about that. But if we do lose you here and there, just dial back in, we’re gonna plow through as best we can here on the show.

Trish 1:07
Sounds good.

Steve 1:08
All right, so we must thank our friends at Paychex. Of course, this episode of At Work in America is sponsored by Paychex. One of the leading providers of HR, payroll, retirement and insurance solutions for businesses of all sizes, the only constant in business is change and 2023 will be no exception. That’s why hundreds of in house compliance professionals at Paychex have compiled a list of the regulatory issues that could impact businesses the most this year, and to help you prepare. In their guide you can find out about federal and state regulations and programs that may affect your business and your employees in the coming year so you can take appropriate actions now and visit to check it out today. And thanks to our friends at Paychex, of course.

Steve 1:50
Trish let’s welcome Ben Brooks to the show. Ben Brooks is the Founder and CEO of PILOT, an award winning employee career development software platform. Inspired by his successful executive coaching practice, Ben saw an opportunity to democratize executive coaching and empower employees at scale. He invested his life savings into founding the company with a mission of ensuring everyone feels powerful at work. Ben, welcome back to the show your triumphant return. How are you?

Ben Brooks 2:21
I’m great! I’m fabulous. I’m fabulous. Glad to be here. What a fun tradition we’ve created. And I’ve been looking forward to this all week. I wish we had snow here. Trish it has been 320 days since New York City has had snow, the fourth longest stretch in history. So we got plenty of rain but no snow.

Trish 2:40
That’s shocking!

Ben Brooks 2:42
So send some send some from Waterloo, Illinois all the way to New York City.

Trish 2:49
You can have it. I built a snowman today though. I’m a snowman builder. Are you a snowman builder when it comes?

Ben Brooks 2:55
Oh, yeah, we get you know, try to get some avant garde want some a one eyeball one or something are different. Kind of like a whole crew to take a face rather than just the carrot like bringing in you know, like some asparagus sticks. Like make it you know, make it fun, right? Make it Mediterranean maybe, you know, so I like that. Okay, yes. Okay, but and Trish, we do have a Wi Fi policy of PILOT, we’re a remote first company. So this is a thing that not a lot of companies have been talking about. But with everyone working from home, we had to actually have everybody make sure they had appropriate speeds, upgraded routers, the right packages, we even paid for everyone to get hotspots, we paid for the hardware, and then they added their cell phone plan. Because it can be pretty stressful if you don’t have a hotspot and you do and you’re able to join as a result. But that’s one of the things that part of the transition to remote work, we actually have to sort of equip our homes for resiliency as well.

Trish 3:43
You know what, I’m glad that you mentioned that because especially in my situation, I’m living outside of a big city. So I’m in a small town of like 10,000 people kind of in the Midwest and middle of nowhere. And you can’t always get even if you have the highest speed package. Right? It doesn’t always cooperate and especially during a snowstorm. So yeah, you’re right. We have to think about these things in the coming years of the way of we’re working remotely.

Steve 4:07
Ben I was thinking about you recently because you’re well known for folks who know Ben or follow Ben online on social media. Ben is famous, I’ll say now notorious famous for traveling and going to really exotic places while maintaining while running pilot while working with your teams working with your customers and clients. I don’t know if you use the term workation or not, but that’s a term people use. But Ben, you’ve done a lot of that. And I know recently you were had a really fun kind of end of the year into the new year kind of experience. Maybe you could start with there. Let’s talk about that a little bit.

Ben Brooks 4:40
Yeah, I love to travel I love to see the world. The reason I like living in New York, people from all over the world are from here. And so it inspires me to go see where people are from and things like that. I I did create a goal in 2020. That didn’t exactly turn out as planned because some things happen in 2020. But I wanted to experiment with the idea that kind of the worst case In our, you know, work leisure, they’re calling it that you know of doing remote work, one week, per quarter, and distinct from, you know, kind of the midpoint between work. And the vacation is I still work a full day in these places. But it’s nice because then at night, I go do stuff or have a meal or tech on the weekend. And so I got to go to Panama, and I was in LA, it was in Panama the country in LA. And I even did Sao Paulo in Brazil, and then got to go to Buenos Aires as a part of that. So it was a really wonderful thing.

Ben Brooks 5:35
So I’m gonna continue it this year. So I’m making those plans right now. But I did take a really fabulous disconnect, where I did exactly zero minutes of work, a true vacation, I believe it or not, I checked my email on my connecting flight. And I went to the Middle East to the United Arab Emirates, always wanted to go. And I checked my email on the way there and I did not look at it until I was on the flight on the way back and it was gone for two full weeks. Wow. So this is a stress test, does my business fall apart? Does that mean to have good people and process and trust and boundaries or resiliency, if you’re you know, if you’re an executive at a company and you feel like you can’t disconnect, you may not have a good team, you know, you may not have good process you may not have already. So it can be kind of a stress test for me to say, you know, it makes me anxious sometimes that the deal of anxiety is you know, but there’s also trust and clarity.

Ben Brooks 6:24
But also my whole team knows that they can have my cell phone number, my personal number, they can call or text me 24 hours a day. If I’m asleep, I’ll answer when I wake up. But that’s how people get a hold of me and to not rely on me being on Slack or email. And so I got to go to a desert camp. I wanted to go for five years I wrote this down. People think I’m crazy. I went to this desert camp in the UAE, way south near the Saudi Arabia border like four hours from Dubai. Were you flying to Dubai and drive to Abu Dhabi go away with and it’s the Empty Quarter desert, the largest uninterrupted desert in the world. And you go into this resort called the Khazar. All Saurabh it’s absolutely fabulous. It’s an Anantara resort really, really look Luxe place that the sheikh built and you drive you know literally hours out in the middle of nowhere and then you ride camels and do falcons, you know falconry and archery and stargazing. And you can go on hike the dunes did dune bashing, we sort of like it’s like almost at being on the sand dunes. So it was a wonderful experience. And then Abu Dhabi is where I spent my New Years. So wonderful reset. I came back fresh. And we are absolutely in sixth gear here at pilot in, you know, as the month starts.

Trish 7:33
Well, we love looking at the pictures and videos you posted. I was absolutely living vicariously. I think actually of all the things you did you also went skiing in Dubai, right on the largest indoor skiing in the malls.

Ben Brooks 7:48
Do you see Steve’s face? He’s like what? Skiing in Dubai? No.

Steve 7:55
That stumped me a little bit.

Trish 7:57
I was there a few years ago, I was by myself like it was over for a keynote and I was there in the mall, looking at the ski resort, right? did not do it kicking myself as I’m looking at your pictures like why didn’t I do that? I should have done that. But but one of the most fun things I will say that I saw that you posted was actually you were walking through the sand and it looked like water, just rippling, like the way that the sand moved. It was so just mesmerizing. And I was gonna ask you because I know you’re big into meditation. Right? You’ve been doing that for at least a decade? Could you maybe talk about not just the meditation aspect, but taking a true vacation? I would imagine you come back with sort of inspired right? I mean, just sort of giving your mind time to think and be creative and sort of explore how did that setting either aid or hinder that sort of creativity for the coming year?

Ben Brooks 8:52
Well, I think that’s kind of the set and setting the mindset and the setting that I’m in the context I’m in both affect that. And so, you know, our brains, you know, never had so much stimulus in the history of humanity, right evolutionarily. And the fact that you know, the breakthrough of cloud technology and mobile that we have our our offices and our purses, in our pockets with our smart devices, so called smart devices is really cool and great in so many wonderful ways. But you know, machines if you don’t give them arrest and maintain them, there’s a there’s a metric and kind of industry engineering, meantime between failure. So you’ve got to figure out the preventative maintenance you know, you remember I toured a UPS facility once you know you probably have never seen the UPS truck broken down on the side of the road. And there’s a reason because they know the mean time between failures, the amount of time between when you replace a part like an alternator and a vehicle and when it breaks and they plan for maintenance before it breaks. Because if you have a truck break down then people don’t get you know Valentine’s Day flowers and birthday gifts and legal documents. So how Some important things. And so people are no different. We have to kind of think about our meantime between failure because often we get to this point of burnout. And then we like we quit jobs or do something really drastic or with a midlife crisis or something else. It’s like, how do we in front of that, build that time?

Ben Brooks 10:14
So I typically try to think about that as like, I find for me personally, deep disconnection to week vacation, at least once a year makes a huge difference. It’s not it’s not it’s compared to to one week vacations. It’s like a three week vacation. Because my second week I am it’s such a lower vibration. Right? And I’m not, you know, thinking about the tasks of work. So I ended up thinking about work a decent amount, but in a really inspired creative way, I read something, I dream about something, I get to read other things, etc. And so it just makes such a difference. I think so much we talk about burnout, like it’s an employer problem to solve in HR. But a lot of times I think we need to think about it’s an employee thing to manage proactively right? Including disconnection, right? We think connection is great, but if connection is that we’re always on, and it’s we’re just on demand, that is exhausting. So we have to kind of set the boundaries and give ourselves the permission that we’re not going to fall apart and the law are going to be scorned. People are admired your manager in particular, set the example, you know, my team knows, and they’ll try to do a little work while they’re on vacation, said, let’s figure it out, someone else can do that thing, they can push that email campaign or do that check in or something else. Because even if it’s 30 minutes, you have to do something on a week long vacation, you think about it every frickin day. And then the day of you’re organizing your whole day around that stupid 30 minute thing. And it’s like, just not worth it. So I’m a big believer in sort of this, the hygiene, right, the sterile environment, right. But that is a lot of its employee managed, because typically thought the office is calling your phone the whole time is that you’re getting an email to kind of keep up and see if you can help out and do this stuff. You got to control that impulsive behavior and just know that, you know, the organization is bigger than you, even if you’re the owner of it.

Steve 12:08
Yeah, that’s a great point. And I was just looking at some data, you know, and it’s not surprising data, right? We see that that US workers in particular have a really difficult time, disconnecting, whether it’s for a week, or certainly for two weeks is a real challenge. We’re so accustomed, and I do think it’s both an employee or an employee problem. But I don’t put this all on employers at all. I do think it’s a lot of our own, get into our own heads as individuals that oh, my gosh, this will fall apart if I’m not available for three days, or somehow you’ve cemented your importance to the organization. And it’s not, you know, not for nothing. Right. A lot of organizations are undergoing cuts. Right now, there’s lots of companies very, very publicly and well reported. News of a slowdown, perhaps, and layoffs happening. So there is that natural urge sometimes as an employee to think, oh, my gosh, I, I can’t go away for a week and be out of touch right completely, because therefore the organization will think somehow I’m not needed. Right. And that’s that’s a real thing. I think people do feel that. And I do think it does take both both sides of the equation, the manager slash the employer, as well as the employee, right to get past some of those. Those concerns, right?

Ben Brooks 13:25
Yeah, if you don’t, the employer then has turnover, regrettable attrition, right. Part of the way people help themselves out of burnout is they quit, they tap out. And so called job bankruptcy, you blow it up, let me to install righ t and t. Right. And so that is, you know, part of what employers is a benefit to the employer helping the employee do their own maintenance, their own rest, right, because they will have longer tenure. gussto had some research that the productivity of an employee in the year three explodes, right? You’re one you’re the frickin new guy find in the bathroom, they ran out stuff, right? You’re too you’re kind of figuring out your swing, your three United gets stuff done, you know who the people are, you know, the culture, you know, the priorities know what’s real, what’s not. So if you lose people before they get to that peak productivity, right? Real big implications in the organization. So you have to manage as a marathon, not a sprint, because if they just go all out, you know, for 10 or 12 or 18 months, then they turn and so versus saying, this is a place I can sustainably you know bamboo HR talks about this, you know, you gotta win at work and went outside of work. And so you got to help your employees and champion them winning outside of work and whatever is important to them in their lives.

Trish 14:38
Yeah, no, I that’s a great point. I think, you know, and it is unique to each employee as to how to Steve’s point, how secure you feel in the role you have with your leaders that you have or if you are a manager, and but I guess for you, I’d like to know what if What would you say to someone maybe, you know, who doesn’t have the opportunity to travel to all these things. Got it places, right? Are there? Are there tips or things that you think they could do? Maybe over the course of a week, hopefully over two weeks to maybe even in their own city? Kind of rejuvenate? Is there any recommendation and maybe that can send to the meditation part too, that I like I alluded to earlier, you’re, you know, you’re a big proponent of that. What can those employees do?

Ben Brooks 15:20
Yeah, it doesn’t have to cost money. There’s creative ways people do apartment swaps, or house swaps with people staycations other things like that little kind of, you know, think about if someone were to come visit your hometown or your city, you know, what would you show them? Or what would you do, oh, we go to this little park, or this island, or this spot, or this thing. There’s a lot of stuff often in our local communities that can give us that escape, but part of it is even vacation is essentially an infrequent or one off or ad hoc method, right? Because, you know, depending on, you know, think about just how many weeks or days of vacation or a number of occasions have gone a year. It’s a pretty sporadic and fixed number, right? And so thinking about what are the weekly and daily rituals, for me, it’s meditation may not be for other people. But you know, I learned meditation 10 years ago, it’s a thing that doesn’t cost me any money. Right? I don’t even need electricity for it, I can do it in any place at any time, I can do it. When I’m visiting a friend, I can do it at home, I do it when I’m sick when I’m healthy. So some people it’s their faith, right? It could be prayer or faith based tradition. Other people can be you know, physical exercise, or Pilates or yoga, or running or something else like that.

Ben Brooks 16:30
So think figuring out how to build in, right, the maintenance on a smaller basis, right, because, you know, I’m a pilot, you know, I love airlines that have been airlines CEO one day, you know, airlines airplanes have different kind of maintenance, there’s what’s called line maintenance, which is sort of if a plane overnight is in, you know, an airport in Charlotte, Bill, you know, it’s kind of like a lube oil filter, like you’re just checking it and you’re looking at a couple of things, making sure the tires and the brakes are good. And then there’s like heavy maintenance, where you take the skin off the plane, you take the engines off, you look for corrosion, you take all the seats out, right, that’s like your commission for a month, right? The plane or longer sometimes line maintenance, you do overnight, it’s kind of this repeated thing, that plane is ready for an on time departure the next day, right? So you want to think about yourself, like what are those recurring these, it’s gonna be different for each person. But even myself, you know, I’m the owner of my business and the CEO, right, I don’t have a boss that I report to. And it’s still a struggle, the number one person that gets in my way, taking care of myself is this guy, I’m putting myself through stops, right. So so that it’s also like, I just, I got out of the, you know, during the pandemic, I was doing virtual fitness and didn’t go to the gym. And that was a big, important thing for me. I got January finally got a gym membership, new gym, I’m trying to create a ritual on Wednesday mornings, I went this morning, but still has work to do this, they can call out, you know, like, you got to figure out these kind of more reasonable things that you can do not these things where you just are completely fried when you get to your vacation after six months.

Steve 18:02
Yeah, that’s a really good I love that approach by the airline analogy was fantastic. Like those things you can do every day or every night, whatever your cycle is, if it’s meditation in the morning, or it’s something even in technology in a weird way can help us with some of this if we allow it even if we you know, even in our small organization, right, and I didn’t do do anything to make this work. But every day like I think it happened set five or six o’clock, I forget which time now, Microsoft sends me a hey, it’s time to begin your virtual commute. Here’s some Oh, things. Yeah, it’s really cool. And I love it. I don’t, I don’t do it every single day. But incorporated in that is just going over open items, things that didn’t finish in the day, or maybe two dues that wants me to create it, but it always ends with Hey, Guided Breathing exercise or 10 minute decompress video or things like that. And it’s, it’s really, really cool. So it fits into that kind of okay, every day at least even if I only take five minutes to do it. Right. It’s, um, kind of given myself that little bit of like that said that, like that line maintenance kind of thing that you mentioned. Yeah. It’s a super analogy out to think about that some more. Maybe I can incorporate some more of that into into my day to day too. Yeah. Hey, Ben, I wanted to ask you specifically, though, I know because we just get to talking right? We’ve talked out this has been, by the way. This has been, according to my extensive research provided to us by show producer Karen Steed. This has been six appearance on the podcast in one form or another. How about that?

Trish 19:26
You know what that means?

Steve 19:28
I do. There’s a gift.

Trish 19:32
Yes, he finally gets the gift. So then, should we tell him?

Steve 19:37
I would not tell him I would think.

Trish 19:41
All right. So Ben, you have just joined an elite group of executives such as, let’s see who’s in the group? Cecile Alper-Leroux. Yeah, I believe Don Weinstein.

Ben Brooks 19:54
I was gonna Don Weinstein. Yeah, okay. All right. Some heavy hitters. I’m watching my mail.

Trish 20:01
I mean, it’s not like you know, it’s not like the green jacket you get from golf or something like that. But it’s it’s pretty darn cool. Let me just say so you’re watching. All right.

Ben Brooks 20:10
Well, Karen is amazing. So thank you, Karen, for the for the count, I will hopefully make it to seven. Yeah. So, yes.

Steve 20:20
One of the things so bad because I bring that up. Because like we do have we always have notes were prepared for the show. But we get to talking about different things. We don’t always like referenced the notes. But what are the things that was in the show notes, official show notes for today’s show, to talk to you about and I want to talk to you about this, which is we’re still towards the beginning of the year, it’s late January, as we’re recording this. It’s still and I was I was doing this just this week, myself is trying to figure out what am I trying to accomplish both kind of this year in a big, big picture way, but also kind of more narrowly, like this quarter, even to this month. And one of the one of the things we wanted to talk to you about it’s kind of what are some productive ways to approach goal setting? Because for me, I think and maybe for others, it can feel a little daunting. It can feel like oh my gosh, like now it’s just I’ve created this huge list of things. Now, I’m afraid to even know how to begin because it’s so scary. How do you think about just that approach, both either personally, or professionally, or kind of the blend of personal and professional, like we talked about a little bit in terms of just approaching big picture.

Ben Brooks 21:24
I feel like goals is little, like, sort of big data and HR. Like we’re all talking about it and pretending we’re doing it, but it’s not happening that much. Right, you know, Oh, yeah. Goal. So yeah, uh huh. I’m working my goals, right. So I think part of it is realizing that very few people are good at goal setting, or even set goals. So if you’re not that good at or you haven’t set them, you’re in good company, you’re in the majority feel okay, no shame, no resistance around it. But you know, old book, but Brian Tracy had a book called goals, really creative title. And, you know, there was research around the three most important things that help people achieve their goals, whether they’re personal or professional, I got a couple of thoughts on this, but it’s restricted. Number one, they defined them, right, it’s hard to meet a goal if you haven’t said it, right. So sort of like you, you’ve defined a goal, right? Number two, they wrote them down. So to go from kind of something in your head to something on paper, or digitally, is perfect.

Ben Brooks 22:23
And number three, and this is a really critical one to share that with other people. It could be your spouse, your best friend, your boss, your neighbor, your roommate, your clergy, it could be anybody but so important, you know, define a goal, write it down, share it with others, because all of a sudden people like oh, if you talk to this, I get up like people get enrolled. People want to help each other. And they have suggestions and ideas. So it’s really important in whether you’re, you might go oh my gosh, already, this point in January, I’ve missed much. It’s like, just like a birthday, when I’m September, baby, get all freaked out about where I’m at in life in September because my frickin birthday. But I’m not like that in August. I’m not like that in October, right? So it’s January 1, it’s artificial. And you can use it productively, but you don’t want to have it be a negative. And to Steve, to your point, you mentioned kind of that laundry list that sort of daunting. One thing that I totally do this as my failure mode and dysfunction. So I will collapse, brainstorming with prioritization. I’m a really good brainstorm. Like, like if I play Pictionary, like what it could be. And I’m like, given million thoughts or whatever. So but you have to select a reasonable prioritized, meaningful list. Because what it ends up being is it’s not your ceiling to what you can achieve or accomplish in a year, it’s your floor. And you want to think about a reasonable standard, something that you think you could reasonably achieve. Because what often happens is goals move from a feature to a bug. There’s this thing that we’re supposed to, like motivate us and give us purpose and clarity and focus. And then it turns to some of the D motivates us and overwhelms us and has us distracted, because it’s a laundry list. So thinking about goals that are reasonable, right, and the priority there’s a there’s a framework called the wheel of life, it takes 60 seconds you can google Wheel of Life assessments free and there’s you know, different components you know, your family and your you know, your health and friendship and love and you just assess on a one through 10 scale where you’re at, it can start to help you focus even visually about which categories you might want and if something is going well you might not meet a goal in it right you know, you every year you max out your 401 K you do a good job of making some other savings and you’re in a good spot on savings. Well, maybe that’s not your goal, but you it’s in your physical health or it’s on having more fun or being more social or being more connected to your family. So you know, also realize that you’re not going to work on every area of your life at the same Time, right? Like, you know, as I’m building pilot in the early years, and even now, there’s other areas of my life that are not green right there, yellow or red. And like, those are trade offs, you know, it’s kind of that well, saying you can have it all, just not all at once. So figure out what you want. Now, also, given the context right now, you just had a baby, maybe it’s not the year you’re gonna have an eight pack or run a marathon. Right? It’s a treat, you have a beautiful baby, hopefully beautiful baby, but you know, maybe, you know, a baby of some kind, right?

Steve 25:32
Babies are fine.

Ben Brooks 25:33
Yeah, exactly. You know. So Steve, that’s some of my thoughts are on. In particular, to set goals beyond work, as long as whoever performance management system will be in the work day or you know, something like that will like list out our goals, you could do something that will list that our goals for work, and sometimes they’re meaningful, sometimes they’re not. But less often, we enlist them in our personal lives. And so then sometimes what happens at work really irritates us or we get really stressed, or we’re obsessed about work on vacations we talked about earlier, because we haven’t taken a portfolio approach we haven’t diversified, right? Hopefully, you didn’t put all of your retirement into Tesla stock, right? You want to diversify? Well, you don’t put all of your goals into one slice called your job or your career, you want to think about others. So if your jobs a little bit off, or something happens, or maybe unfortunately, got laid off or something, you have a balanced view, and you don’t feel like your world is ending because your world is many different things.

Trish 26:30
Yeah, I love all of those examples you gave Ben. And I think one of the things I appreciate about you is that you do share these publicly. So I wanted to mention, you know, I saw them on Twitter, I think you shared them on Facebook and other places, but you call them development objectives. In essence, right? They were they were limited, there were just a few. But I love this idea of like you said networking, holding yourself not only accountable, I also kind of see like a manifestation, I’m some that sort of believes in that if you put it in writing, and you sort of put it out into the world, you’re more likely to have something happen, because other people will want to jump on board with you and be like, well, I know a person or I’ve done that before or whatever, right? My question, though, is, if you’re setting all of, you know, say two or three things that you have intent around for your year, and whether that’s like you, I’d rather do it at some random time than than January one. Because I think everyone is so sidetracked with holidays, and everything else that’s happening. To me, it’s almost better to do it I, I usually take end of January is my time personally to sort of set some things up. Because things are kind of

Ben Brooks 27:37
A Lunar New Year, you’re on the lunar years guess, right? It’s your career.

Trish 27:44
But I guess my question to you would be like, if you’re someone who, you know, maybe set three intentions for your year, right around both work and personal. What if you see that one is really becoming impossible or derailing? Right, I think a lot of times I hear people get stuck. I’ve heard this both in my HR, you know, World of Work, or in personal life, and people then freeze and they don’t do anything. What how would you handle that? If this was your own, you know, say you’ve set intent for three things this year. And now one of them is either not achievable for whatever reason? How do you kind of recommend resetting yourself and getting either back on track or onto a different track?

Ben Brooks 28:24
Yeah, I think we get sort of, we auger ourselves into our own rigidity around these things. So it’s good to have rigor from the perspective of, you know, integrity and focus. But context can change. And so been created this term around strategy for a business called continuous strategy. And if you think about product organizations in the HR tech space, they have a product roadmap, right? The idea is, you don’t make a five year product roadmap, right? Because imagine being, you know, Microsoft, five years ago, teams wasn’t even a product, right? But then zoom came around and pandemic and everything else, they had to reorganize their priorities, based upon new information and new context. So you may have set something at the end of January, and you realize, oh, my gosh, like, something totally changed. I got to take care of somebody, my job changed, I’m moving my health is different. So it’s okay to continually reset what those things are. Now, if it’s something that you still want to really have happen, sometimes we over scope or we overshoot, we think you know how to read a book this year. Well, you talk to people that write a book, especially a grip, that often doesn’t happen just a tight year, right? There’s like, kind of maybe you’re getting a publisher or shop and the idea or taking writing classes or learn how to this or creating your time, like so you may find that you need to say okay, well, I’m going to do this portion of the vision of writing a book eventually, I’m going to take a writing class, right.

Ben Brooks 29:56
So sometimes it’s sort of de scoping to meaningfully make progress against the thing that you wanted, and not look at it as a failure. But to rate yourself as green. This is important with startups and small businesses, right? That it’s sometimes it’s hard to predict exactly when something’s going to happen, or how far it’s gonna be. Oftentimes, we’ll get into some Oh, like, I’m gonna build a pool in my backyard, we’ll just like call the pool person, and they’ll just like build the pool. And it’s all sounds like, oh, my gosh, permits and insurance to design and those are concrete shortage supply chain, right? You know, it turns out to be way more complicated. So you’ve got to then say, okay, like, let me knowing that this turned out to be 10 times more complicated. Let me redefine in this period of time, how far I’m gonna get, I’m gonna feel successful with that. And so for instance, even for me this year, I want to work out more regularly. You know, I trained for half marathon last year and did that that was incredible. But I want to kind of have more varied workouts. And I first was like, Oh, I have a body fat. Well, like I don’t, there’s all sorts of things because I want to instead do two meaningful workouts a week, right? And I’m logging on my credit, a little Google Form, drops, spreadsheet, you can do it on gute, Gmail for free. If you got it doesn’t cost you any money. But like, I just did this sort of thing. So I had a meaningful workout today, it’s one of my two this week. And so that for me is more sometimes you focus on the input, rather than the output, the output could be a pack or 4% body fat. For me, I’m focusing on the input. And that’s enough, right? So in psychology therapist will often help people to find coaches as well, what is enough, because if you don’t define enough, whatever you do, will typically always be insufficient against an infinite scale. And then you’ll feel bad about yourself, you’ll feel like you’re not moving forward enough in life, and you’re a loser, you’re not driven enough, or you didn’t try hard enough. And it’s this really negative self loop versus enough for me is to, I didn’t say like seven workouts a week, I can’t execute that. Right, too. I have to find as enough and why cuz I said so.

Trish 31:50
Right? What I like to about that, Ben, is that it’s not I almost feel like sometimes goals can be limiting, right? You, I may set a goal for myself to lose 20 pounds, right? But but that’s arbitrary is just this random, like number, right? It’s not meaningful to your point of the input, I like to focus on the inputs, because I think that that’s something that you can more reasonably do. And then you don’t even know what the outcome might be sometime. And I think that’s okay, the goal to just be healthier versus you know, and same thing in your work, right? You might not even know what that goal is, but by putting intent around it, putting it out into the world, like you said, whether that’s someone in your close inner circle, or whether it’s publicly like you did, it gives other people that opportunity to buy into the intent. And the outcome could be far greater than you would have ever imagined on your own too.

Ben Brooks 32:44
Completely, and I think that’s anchoring into the why of a goal. So somebody might want to read a book every month. Okay, cool. Why is that? Because you want to be smarter about a thing is that because you want time with yourself? It’s like sort of peaceful and serene? Do you want it to skip you gonna be inspired. And then when you often the reason we set goals is we want to feel a particular way. So anchoring the will actually around the feeling. I want to feel more ease. Right, then you may get really curious, how do I feel ease? Like, what do I know about when do I have it? When do I not? And so often, sometimes it seems a little bit arbitrary or squishy, but setting goals and intentions around a feeling or an experience, you know, and there’s certain things where it’s like, I really want you I wanted to go that desert camp in the UAE and dammit, I said, I’m gonna go but I didn’t put a timeline on it. So like I want to it was on my list. Well, one of the goals I put on my list this year was I’m gonna take a grand adventure with my friends. I don’t know if that’s going to be in Japan or Greece or on Long Island.

Trish 33:43
We’re friends, right?

Steve 33:49
Sounds like you’re fishing for an invite?

Trish 33:52
You want to come to Waterloo, Illinois for grand adventure, Ben.

Ben Brooks 33:54
I feel like there could be some grand adventures in Waterloo.

Steve 33:58
Yeah, you hurry right out there. You can go for a snow freezing cold and no Wi Fi. It sounds awesome.

Trish 34:04
You’re gonna live here, we’re gonna have to do a grand adventure in Colorado, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Ben Brooks 34:08
There we go my hometown. But that’s that sort of ports in office structure, like desire mapping. And there’s some methods around this, that you get to what you desire underneath it, because we often, you know, set these goals that it’s like, it’s kinda like, are we looking good to ourselves or that you want to work? Watch out for the S word. I should. Oh, that’s a stop sign, stop, drop and roll. Right? Because should is generally not a great place. Because things that we should do. Like think of things that our mother or father told us we should do. Resistance breakdowns by gritting your teeth, etc. So slow down, just like do I want to do that you don’t need to do that’s different than the thing you should do. Yeah. Okay.

Trish 34:58
You’ve given us a lot to think about.

Steve 35:00
I know, I know this is I love it. I love the beginning of the year conversations with Ben Brooks for the last few years, because it just helps us maybe think about things a little bit things that we’re trying to get through whether it’s goal setting or planning on how to sort of meaningful, meaningfully kind of keep some boundaries between work and now work, which is really, really tough. And it can be tougher. I don’t really do predictions or trends too much anymore. We did them for a long time, I sort of gotten out of that business, but I don’t know if you’re big into the trends or the predictions for the year. But one of the things I have I wanted to ask you about was just, is there a? Is it a word? Is it a theme is something you’re thinking about? You came back from your two weeks off? Right? You said you thought about works? Um, you know, in a more kind of deeper way, and maybe a little bit more strategic way, if that even is a fair word to use? Is there? Is there a split you’re thinking about as you approach 2023, either both from pilot as an organization as a business or just little bit more broadly, as as a leader, as a tech executive, as an owner, etc? Is there one or two things really, this is the year of this? Is there anything comes to mind?

Ben Brooks 36:07
Yeah, I think, you know, I think it’s definitely about predictions as nobody can predict the future. Yeah. And the predictions that are the most accurate are based on past based cyclical patterns and things like that. Right. So is it really the future? Or is it the past? Right? Yeah, I think an area that I have a lot of energy around sometimes is a prediction is an area of a lot of energy around is the idea vibrancy. So you know, aliveness, right, and so but PILOT, one of our five values is vibrant. We define that as being alive in our interactions. And alive doesn’t mean always cheery or Pollyanna, alive could be that we’re sad. We had the loss in our family, we’re expressing that we’re upset about mass shooting that’s happened or something else like that. So but there’s, I think, a missing vibrancy in the workplace. I’m seeing sort of, you know, what we thought of gig work was driving a rideshare or delivering food. You know, people are in six figure gig work jobs. They’re salaried vice president title roles, but it’s sort of login logout pretty transactional.

Ben Brooks 37:12
We’re not developing and fostering the relationships that we have in person. We’re not sharing our whole selves. We don’t know. I don’t know beyond your screen. Steve, what’s happening where you are right now, I don’t know what your struggles are or what you’re excited about. That’s why shows like this are great because it helps to bring some of these things out. For me, vibrancy, I think is going to be a big part of, of really having people be excited about work again. So it’s not just wind and it’s not just a gig. And I think that that’s really as humans right, you know, when they log in Logan University, Southern California wrote a book I mean, it said, you know, fish, school birds flock and humans tribe, tribal leadership. And, you know, to think about a tribe, right, you know, from an evolutionary perspective on the plains, you came together you did things you supported, you celebrated you, you know, you collaborate, you are a collective you pulled resources, and you know, sort of the communal part of it, I think it’s very easy in the digital age and working from home to, you know, drive down your suburban, you know, house open the garage door, put your car and close it be sort of hermetically sealed from the world and just selectively look at the notifications in your phone if you want to talk to anyone and just sort of doom scroll or binge or you know, or things and, and so I think that there’s a vibrancy and that’s why people want to get back to conferences and events, they want to be meeting off sites and in person they want to be having these learning experiences. More people than ever I never want to go to a meditation or a yoga retreat or of psychedelics thing or something else people are just excited for the vibrancy so Steve that’s kind of I don’t know if you’ve got a thing that you or Trish seems I’d love to know that as well.

Steve 38:51
Yeah, I was waiting for Trish to try because that’s usually she would add something like that. Yeah. I think for me, it’s Yeah, trying to be a little bit more a little bit more open a little bit more open to connect. I’ve been very very insular and met for a long time for various reasons. So yeah, I’ve tried to do a little bit more of that. Were we Trish and I have talked about our travel schedules i events we’re going to try to get to we’re specifically trying to get to some new ones this year. You know, in order to meet some new people do have some new experiences. I’m excited. We’ve got one coming up and I’m excited because it’s a place I haven’t been in a long time right for for just a city just ignore it says fits in Philadelphia, which is fine, fine, fine. So yeah, we’re not Philadelphia. It’s just It’s fine. But I just haven’t been there in 20 years, probably. So like, oh, yeah, I’ll go to Philadelphia. That’ll be fun. So I guess for me that’s that’s maybe it sounds like so.

Trish 39:49
For me, it’s about being intentional too. I want to not just I feel like the last couple years have been letting things happen. Or not knowing what was going to happen because of Just the way the world was working. And now I feel a little bit more able to be intentional about the network I choose to be part of making new friends, which is very difficult when you’re older, you know, or can be scary. And so even if it starts on social, which, you know, that seems a very comfortable way for a lot of people to sort of meet people. But yes, just interacting, being intentional about who I interact with more people I don’t know as well. And then kind of to Steve’s point, trying to find ways to then meet them in real life meet in person and see what happens there. But I love this idea of vibrancy and I think that really ties back to your your talk about anchoring, you know, goals around feeling because I think we do sort of operate a lot or you can operate without much feeling in our day to day so I think that would be interesting if I incorporate that with intent would be good for the year.

Steve 40:57
Yeah, absolutely. Guys, this has been super fun I love the check in I love our January sort of begin the year with Ben kind of routine I’m already going to like pitch Ben to come back and you know, maybe July or so mid year if we can, if you’re not off galavanting and having that what’s the word you use then the adventure the adventure somewhere in the world with Trish, that Trish may or may not be part of we’ll see. But we’ll try to get you on the books to come back. We didn’t really get to talk about pilot all that much Ben but the website is, right for everything that’s happening at PILOT. You know, again, award winning, multiple award winning technology company democratizing coaching and learning and just doing great, great things, Ben, just real quick, just give us you know, 60 seconds on PILOT real quick.

Ben Brooks 41:45
Well, we’re excited Diageo, the spirits company that makes like Johnnie Walker and Kettle One, Tanqueray, Don Julio. We’re have a great relationship with them. They named us their supplier the year. Wow. So great company really well run great culture, really big commitment to DEI. We also just won a competition with EY, the Ernst & Young part of the LGBT chamber of Congress in nature, a nationwide business pitch competition. But you know, we, you know, is a lot of companies are laying off, we’ve been hiring like crazy. It’s really wonderful to be a jobs creator. It’s very meaningful.

Ben Brooks 42:21
And PILOT’s helping organizations be vibrant. We’re helping people, you know, HR leaders are really desperate to figure out, you know, retention is the number one priority, even in the face of layoffs, right. It’s still a tight labor market for talent. So we’re really helping people with HR leaders with retention, the DEI part, it’s like, Hey, we’ve made we’ve made a lot of talk, we haven’t done a lot of walk. And so we’re helping them invest in underrepresented talent, right. And also to figure out that vibrancy and the employee experience and engagement in a hybrid and remote work context, pilot helps sort of oxygenate the culture, and really has everyone our mission is for everyone to feel powerful at work. So we’re excited. We’re working with a bunch of big companies all over the world where it’s fun, we’re deployed all over Asia and Pacific. So it’s actually getting this global reach that I could never do, you know, on Zoom calls, or with an airplane or anything like that. So it’s really fun to see the team to reach more people. So we can be helpful to anyone listening to this, we’d love to talk.

Steve 43:20
Yeah, absolutely. Go to to learn more, find Ben, you can find him he’s out there. And he’s more than willing to engage with you on what your organization needs and try to help, right. And that’s what it’s all about. It’s like helping people kind of be their best right and be successful at work, which is why it’s, it’s a great mission and a great a great group of folks. And we love working with Ben and the entire team tends to go to Ben, it’s got a wonderful team that it’s a pleasure to work with every time we do so. Thank you to them. Great stuff. Trish. I love it. Great to see Ben, of course.

Trish 43:50
Absolutely. Yeah. Thanks for coming on. I think too, if you you know, if you listen to this episode, the ideas, the creativity, the passion that you have been all of those things really embody what PILOT is. So I think they’ve been getting to know what the company is all about, just by hearing you speak about your own personal journey, as a leader, and just personally, so thank you for sharing all of those details. And I was thinking back today. I mean, you’ve sort of been my unofficial executive coach for many, many, many years. And I do appreciate it, I think you you always come up with things I haven’t heard of, or things, you know, resources. You mentioned three or four today that we’ll put in the show notes, notes that people can go and check out and, you know, help build their own skills and expand their thoughts and creative side as well. So thank you for sharing all that.

Ben Brooks 44:42
That’s a very generous acknowledgement I’ll put out there one of my goals this year is to get out more myself, Steve, like you mentioned the new events, new things do audiences so I’m just going to put out there that I’m looking to get in front of more people to share this empowerment message to speak media stuff, other things that we can help and a lot of that’s already starting to come together. So I’m just, you know, again part of you know, I mentioned that, yes, right stated goal, write it down and share with others I’m trying to share with others. This. My goal is to be in front of more HR audiences at conferences, media inside of companies, I’ll come to fly out and speak with you, etc. But I just, you know, I think there’s a message that people need to hear that this is possible and people get into HR to make a difference and we want to help people make a difference. Absolutely.

Steve 45:25
That’s a great way to kind of put a bow on it. I think, Ben Brooks from PILOT thanks so much once again for joining us. We’ll see you again mid year. Trish, thank you, your Wi Fi held up, stay warm out there in the snowing Midwest. My name is Steve Boese. I want to thank our friends at Paychex of course for all their support. You can learn more about what they’re up to a and again, thanks for listening to the At Work in America show. All the show archives at We will see you next time and bye for now.

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