Episode 1: Discovering your Cluelessness with Andy Frey
How Andy and I discovered our cluelessness and what we did about it.
Automated Episode Transcript
Published on: Sat, Nov 09, 2019
[00:00:03] Anthony: Welcome to the Clueless at the work podcast, where we talk through a framework for being successful in your job. My name is Anthony Garone, and I’ll be hosting this show with some friends who are experts in helping people grow. Content is based on my book Clueless at the Work Advice From a Corporate Tyrant, which is published by Stairway Press. You can find out more at Clueless at the work dot com. Welcome to the inaugural episode of The Clueless at the Work podcast. My name is Anthony,
[00:00:36] Andy: My name is Andy,
[00:00:37] Anthony: and we’re here to talk through my new book, Clueless at the work advice from a Corporate Tyrant
[00:00:46] Andy: available on Amazon
[00:00:48] Anthony: and Barnes and Noble and published by Stairway Press, which is a small independent publisher based in Ah, Apache Junction, Arizona. A good friend of mine named Ken Kaufman runs it, and, uh, he’s got a really great roster of authors, dozens of books available, and, um, the publisher is actually doing pretty well. They’ve been selling a lot of books, so that’s really good. Really? Yeah. Yeah.
[00:01:18] Andy: Good for him. Yes,
[00:01:19] Anthony: very good for him. So, um, I am here with my good friend Andy Fry. And the reason we’re doing this podcast is because a people consume podcasts like, uh, like hot cookies like fast food. That’s right. And people don’t want to read my book because it’s a book. They they want to hear people talk about it. Um, well, maybe not necessarily my book, but just books in general, I think people enjoy podcast more. So here we are. And Andy and I used to work together at a wonderful company in Tempe, Arizona, where he still
[00:01:59] Andy: works. It is a wonderful company. Yeah.
[00:02:02] Anthony: Why don’t you tell us a little about it?
[00:02:03] Andy: Yes. So the company is melt media. It’s ah, creative agency. Digital agencies software development firm. Does a lot of, uh, lot of large large websites for very large $1,000,000,000 brands being in biotech pharma. Um, but still, it’s a software development company, but also a very creative company. Exactly. Branson branching out. It’s, uh, getting some copywriters and starting to offer other surfaces that are just more convenient to have in house than what we used to do. But, uh, when I started, it was a little scrappy thing. 20 people and now were 70 strong or more. And, um, things were going great. It’s a supercool company. Great vibe.
[00:02:43] Anthony: Yeah. And, uh, in the book, there are plenty of stories of when I was working there. Um, and there is a lot of great stuff to learn while while I was there. So, um, it’ll be cool toe walk through some of those stories, but for the benefit of the listener. Um, when Andy and I used to work at melt media together, we would have these long conversations about how to help people and how we were each clueless and how people working with us. We’re clueless at times. And when I thought about making this podcast, I thought, and he would be the best guy to talk with
[00:03:27] Andy: the most clueless
[00:03:28] Anthony: way. Have we have so much report, so much history. So many great deep moments on. I thought most of the conversations you and I had in your office or mine I was like, Man, I wish these were recorded. So here we go. We
[00:03:48] Andy: lost a lot of good good content just talking to the chairs and the
[00:03:51] Anthony: chalkboard. Well, we can make it up right now. All right, So, um Andy, tell us just briefly like a one minute, you know, snapshot of your
[00:06:20] Anthony: right? Cool. And, ah, for the benefit of the listener, I also I have a similar background to Andy. I wasn’t so entrepreneurial, but, um, started out doing a lot of networking sys admin stuff. You know, I I’m also an I t got a computer science programming degree. And then I said I would never go to college again. And then 12 months later, I was enrolled in a master’s program. And then I said it took me four years to do the two and 1/2 year or two year program, and I was like, Uh, well, that was terrible. I am never going to go back to college again. And now I’m the chairman of the Industry Advisory Board for that program. So so good at this. Um, and then just in terms of work, I have kind of, ah, varied background. While I was studying computers, I ended up working in Hollywood for a little bit as a guitar technician and studio technician. And music is a major theme in my life. Um, so I’ve always been doing something musical. Ah, And then after I learned in Hollywood that the chances of making a full time income playing guitar was almost next to nothing. Even the greatest players I’ve ever seen in my life are driving and vans and, you know, eating a Taco Bell and sending a majority of their paychecks to their families, which isn’t much. Um, I realized technology is the way to go. So yeah, I pursued technology. It worked. Uh, I’ve always done some form of programming and computer management or something like that. So that eventually led Thio. Well, when I was 22 I said, When I’m 30 I want to make $100,000 and I want to run teams of technologists. I got that job at the age of 29 11 months. I met my goal. But you
[00:08:16] Andy: said you said you wanted to manage technology.
[00:08:19] Anthony: I did say I wanted to man the opposite. Yeah, yeah, right. So I think that’s why you and I get along so well because we have ah lot of overlap in terms of interests in terms of history, but not a lot of overlap in terms of where we want to go with our lives. So let’s get started. Clueless at the work is a book that, um that I wrote over the last Ah, over the last few years, I ended up just feeling like I need to change my life. And when I was 32 I spoke with Steve. I I talked about that in the book right at the beginning because I think he was the 1st 1 to kind of flick my ear, you know, and go, Hey, you’ve got to start thinking differently. And he told me about mindfulness, and it sounded like, Yeah, this is really cool, you know? Mindfulness. Yeah, I bet. You know, Steve’s into this. I’m into whatever. But as he was talking about mindfulness, I really I didn’t know what he was talking about. We were sitting in front of some flowers, and, uh, it was what, Steve, everything’s kind of big. So like it was a big vase of lilies, you know, Stargazer lilies and some of the pedals were on the table, but some of the flowers were looking amazing. And he said, you know, these flowers aren’t trying to be anything that they’re not. They are exactly what they are right now, and some are thriving and some are dying. And that’s okay. And they don’t need to pretend to be something that that they aren’t. You know, the dead one isn’t trying to look alive. And I was like, OK, yeah, that’s interesting. Yeah. Yeah. And then, um, six months later, I was at a guitar camp with a guitarist named Robert Fripp, and he was talking about mindfulness and, you know, playing the instrument and being very considerate of what you’re doing at every moment. And not just with the guitar, like when you’re not playing guitar. In fact, we didn’t even play guitar for the 1st 3 days. We learned how to sit and stand and breathe, and I thought, OK, this is interesting. What is this? What am I doing here? You know, and then one day in class, that was like bouncing my leg, you know, just that nervous kind of thing. And he goes, Everyone take a look at Anthony’s leg, you know, look at him, bounce his leg recklessly. And he has clearly no control over what is happening right at this moment. And he doesn’t even know why. And everyone turns around and starts laughing. And I’m like, Oh, crap. And then I realized this is what Steve was talking about. You know, like awareness of who you are and and paying attention to your body and allowing yourself to just be no human being just twitches their leg, you know, doesn’t just sits there and bounces there. Let’s like a nervous tick or something like that. And that’s when I realized that was clueless. Did you ever have a moment of, ah like that where it was, like, a turning point in your life?
[00:11:49] Andy: Yeah, the So the seven habits story is mine. That what happened? Um, so I was late twenties, So in my kind of late twenties, I started, um, skydiving. And it was Ah, I didn’t want to. I was doing it because I just didn’t want to be a wimp, you know, my best friend, best friend. Ah. Said, hey, we’re gonna go scot having for your birthday. And I I had never had always made fun of skydiving. You know, people always talk about it. Yeah, it’s, you know, it’s It’s ah you know. Why would you jump out of a perfectly good airplane. That sounds insane, you know, and I had no interest in it. I didn’t like roller coasters, so I was 16 and, um, and I I went to the class to learn how to Scott. It was a Saturday afternoon, uh, ironically, taught by a safety guy from Dow Chemical and, um, super cool guy. And we spent eight hours learning how to do it. And then we went out the next day. That that was a Saturday went out on Sunday and there’s this brick, the old Cessna, you know, 1 82 out there, Um, and the interiors ripped out. The only person who’s got two chairs, the pilot and we’ve got these ratty, you know, riggs on and jump suits and everything. And I just kept plowing through it cause I didn’t want to disappoint my buddy Dan. And, uh, I went and did that jump and and I got out. You know, the wind is ridiculous, you know? And I came down and landed. We’re supposed to tumble when you land. Do thing called appeal of a parachute landing fall. And I stood up, realized I was supposed to the crash and then So I just rolled and And after I did that, I you know, it was that was awakening because I realized I had initially been doing this too. Just not wimp out. Now, I was so thrilled with it, and so excited. I want to go back up again. And around that same time, I was at a school district and the new director of I T ah guy, um named payments a his and he was super super cool guy. Very chill. Um, he came from Michigan State University’s veterinary school, is an I T director. I think it’s what his previous role was, and he wanted everybody to read Dr Koby’s Seven Habits of highly effective people. And I had been up that up to that point in my life, which wasn’t very long into my life, you know, but, uh, half the distance to wear him now. A. I had been bouncing around, bouncing off things and just not paying attention. I had no responsibilities. It was just me and I just did what I wanted to do. And I wasn’t a terrible person. Wasn’t, um, wasn’t, uh, wasn’t a pain to anyone, But when I read that seven habits book. All of a sudden it was like holding a mirror up and realized all the things I didn’t do, all the things I didn’t know, and that book actually caused me then to start reading all the other books that I started reading and was slow. In the beginning, I was not a reader. I did read manuals really well absorbed, you know, hundreds and hundreds of manuals. Loved reading that stuff. It’s dry, it’s technical. I get it. My brain works well with that stuff. But seven habits was a new thing, and and it it transformed the way I thought about how I interacted with people. I did not realize, uh, any of the things like begin with the ending might all the simple things, you know, seek first to understand, then to be understood. That was a big one for me. I always just ran headlong into things. I’m just, like, figure it out as I go along, and, um, then, over time, and especially more over the past 15 20 years, I absorb more and more books and more books led to more books and more. Authors referenced other offers and researchers, but it mindfulness was the same thing. I stumbled onto that because of Ah, one book mentioned that somewhere mentioned one of the authors that I think I was reading Martin Seligman the positive psychology stuff. And then I find some of the other mindfulness people. And then he started reading the research on it. And then suddenly I’m like, This is a thing. This is a big deal. I had never heard of it. Didn’t know anything about it, but it just it snowballed. Everything snowballed. And then I was hungry for for understanding why people did what they did, why people interact the way they do. And that’s today. I’m still I sometimes juggle three audio books when I walk in the morning, because I I don’t know which one I want to read the most, you know, And and then New York came out and I had to get a read that you know. So it’s Ah, um, plus, I had my entire life. I’ve had a DHD. So, you know, I’ve bounced around a lot. But now that I’ve got Theeighty HD under control, I can actually get through a book, take my notes apply it. Get through the next book. Take my notes. Apply it. You know. So it’s Ah, but yeah, that was seven habits was my transformational. That was a big one for me.
[00:16:37] Anthony: I think that when you landed after your first skydive and stood up and then rolled Yeah, that is a total clueless move. Yes, you know. Yep. And we all do it. It’s, um I think it’s Brian Regan. Who does that bit about, um, like when you’re in a taxi and they drop you off at the airport and, like, have a great flight? You’re like you too. Yeah, you’re like they’re not flying. You do it at restaurants, you do it. You do your own auto. Yeah, exactly. And that’s exactly the problem. The autopilot thing. Autopilot is what it led me to write this program, you know, for kensho education and was called pause. And the idea was to get people off of autopilot. But it is so hard. Our auto pilot, I don’t know if it’s an American thing or whatever, but I know I’m not unique in suffering from the kite of the kind of autopilot that I face. And I know you face some of it too. But it’s that whole thing of leg. You just you say things because you’re trained to do it. Or like you said, I knew I needed to do it. So I stood up and rolled instead of like, I don’t need to roll because I landed safely, um, on terra firma, right. Why am I gonna roll? Because that’s in the book. You know, like someone told me That’s what you do next. Yeah, like saying you two is a courtesy, even though the other person is not flying or not eating your meal or whatever it is. Yeah. And I think that kind of cluelessness is really It’s so pervasive, like we only get these little conscious moments of it. But there’s so much cluelessness in our lives in general. Yeah,
[00:18:28] Andy: it’s constantly autopilot thing is constant, and I see I see people doing it all the time, and it’s almost it’s almost as if they just stopped thinking and and you know, the same thing with the mindfulness, always telling people to breathe. Just just breathe. One of the big things that I, uh, that I keep hammering home to people is you have. Ah, this is in the back of one of the anniversary editions of the seven habits. But Thea, there’s, Ah, space between stimulus and response, and you know you have. You have the choice to to do what you will with that space. That’s where your power and your happiness lies in that space for people who are on auto pilot and don’t think and don’t manage how they respond to stimulus, that space is very small. They don’t There’s not enough time to think about how you’re going to respond to, uh, to the stimulus. But when you step back, take a breath and pause. As you said, you know, and think more about that. You open up that gap and it gives you more time to think it’s it. It actually saves you from saying I’m sorry more often, and, um, and it does bring you into the moment, and we take those deep breaths and that’s all you’re thinking about is taking that breath because you remember to do it. You’re off autopilot now because you’re off course from your normal your normal track, which would have been too just respond, right? You know, So um, it’s a powerful tool. It’s actually on my Actually, it’s college football season, but usually it’s on the face of my phone that little saying so
[00:19:56] Anthony: Well, I see autopilot in, um, in political beliefs, you know, like, Oh, it’s Trump. Therefore, it’s bad or oh, it’s Obama. Therefore, it’s bad. Um, and I think, you know, we do this with everything that we encounter. Like I have a preconceived notion of this thing. So it’s either it is what I think it is until it isn’t. But it’s not that I was wrong. It’s that I learned, you know, like when you read more, you end up realizing how much you learned. But you don’t end up realizing unless you’re humble. How little you knew. Yeah, and one of the jokes that I like to say is their entire libraries full of things. I don’t know. Yeah, because it’s so easy to just believe I’m smart. I understand life. I know what’s happening in the universe when in reality I’m a moron. I am clueless. I am a I am a vapor in the wind, you know, here today, gone tomorrow. And instead of having this notion that I am smart that I know what is right and wrong for the world. You know, like like any presidential decision, like I have any authority or capability to assess its merit. You know, I can’t even make a good decision on, like, is it better to use Java Or, you know, I thought were python on this project, right? Forget about national like national consequential decisions, right? I can barely make simple decisions. And yet you see these people who are like, Well, this is clearly wrong because this guy’s a bozo, you know, like maybe there’s a lot that you don’t know about what is happening. And I really I’m hoping that this book introduces some of that sort of belief, humility and the mental humility because to say that we’re clueless is an understatement. Yeah. Yeah. We don’t even understand why a seed in the dirt with water turns into a plant. You know what we know? It’s a chemical reaction, but why does that happen? I don’t know of the olfactory senses, like there’s no money in understanding how they work, but they’re not quite understood how your senses work. Yeah, like your sense of smell. your sense of taste. There’s not full understanding of these things. My wife, who’s the nutritionist she’s like You have a state of nutrition is like the state of medicine in the 17th century or something like that and even, you know, medical knowledge. It’s so limited. We think that we’re so smart, but we’re not. We just have fancy clothes and shiny technology, and then we think, Well, I’m making this much money. I have a job of this status. I am smart, Yeah, but that’s it’s poison. And that poison is the autopilot. Yep, and
[00:22:58] Andy: you hit on it with humility. That’s the other thing. Humility and always being curious. I use that ABC acronym constantly when you’re when you’re always curious, you realize because you’re digging for more information, and the more you dig, the more you realize you don’t know. And then you just kind of naturally, assuming you’ve got some kind of awareness and you’re not associate bath, Um, that you you are just a little speck, and there is an infinite amount of knowledge out there you don’t know, and it’s also related to all the you know, listening to people every time you sit down. There’s something they know you don’t know if you could just remember to always be curious and then mix in that humility. You’ll realize that and you’ll go through life going. And when you said something about people saying, you know, acting like they know for sure something is right or wrong when you hear people like that, do you Do you have an alarm in your head? Oh, absolutely. Yeah, it goes off like you know. That for sure is that I thought a fact like, you know, tell me how you know that for sure.
[00:24:05] Anthony: Ron Siegel, who did the science of mindfulness lecture series, He said that when he, um when he goes to conferences about mindfulness and meditation, he asks a question. Who here is good at meditating and the people that raised their hands? He says, Those are the people that I need to like, not talk. Thio. Yeah, those are the ones who don’t understand what this is all about, because as you search yourself through meditation, this mosquito azi search for yourself through meditation. You should be realizing how little you control about yourself, how little you understand about yourself and how distracted we are. You can’t be good at meditation. The more you learn about meditation the worst. You think that you are at it? Yeah, Yeah, yeah. And I think it’s Bill Nye who had a quote. Um, everyone has some knowledge that you don’t have everyone everyone you encounter and heck, even Bill Nye. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Even Bill Nye knows something that we don’t know. Yeah, there’s Ah, there’s
[00:25:16] Andy: a quote I rode up on one of the white boards at the office. Um, and I don’t remember who to attribute it to, but basically, if your mouth is open, you’re not listening. Yeah, you know, and which is a super common problem in the office world today, I think, in general, where you came from, the factory with two years, one mouth, we should be listening twice as much as we’re talking. And, um and so any kind of quote I could find related to that Because I see it all the time, right? Ah, lot. A lot of talking. Did you get almost almost did the mi RG?
[00:25:46] Anthony: I get it all the time that I got blood on my hands. This’ll must be so interesting to listen to me. Oh, trying to catch a mosquito while talking. Let’s get to the, um uh, the basics of the book. So stage zero, I think we can cover stage zero in this episode here. But uh huh, there’s flow, which is an important topic that we can get to. Um, but let’s talk about the basics. The I start with a story from Ron Siegel who I mentioned did the lecture. Siri’s the science of mindfulness, and he talks about the Buddhist student who’s getting tea poured by the master. Unless he’s talking on and on. Um, well, I’ll just read it. Yeah, all right. The Buddhist scholar came to learn from the Zen master. The scholar had an extensive background in Buddhist studies and was an expert on the Nirvana Sutra. He came to study with the master and, after making the customary vows, asked her to teach him Zen. Then he began to talk about his extensive doctrinal background and rambled on and on about the many sutras he had studied. The master listened patiently and then began to make tea. When it was ready, she poured the tea into the Scholars Cup until it began to overflow and run all over the floor. The scholar saw what was happening and shouted, Stop, stop! The cup is full. You can’t get any more in. The master stopped pouring and said, You were like this cup. You are full of ideas about Buddha’s way. You come and ask for teaching, but your cup is full. I can’t put anything in before I can teach you. You’ll have to empty your cup. I love this story because it goes back to what we were just talking about. You walk into every situation with decades of assumptions and beliefs, and yet we think we can critically judge well and everyone but even the people who are in positions above us. And I’m not saying subject yourself to authority, but at least consider that they may know something and have experience that you don’t have
[00:28:06] Andy: right and end judging ourselves. You know that the research is abundant on how people are horrible judges of themselves. It’s ready. So you know, to see someone you know, that story is perfect because when you ask someone, you know how are you with this? I’m fantastic, you know? Yeah. Defined. Fantastic one, but, you know, show me. Uh, always question. Always be curious. Uh, there’s a great study I used I didn’t talk at. Ah, no media about what good listeners do. Borrowed the whole concept from a Harvard Business Review article that spoke to me. It was great. Short, sweet. Got to the point. I just expanded it. And one of the studies is about, uh, people who, you know, assess their own driving skills, and then they have piers assess their driving skills. And, of course, it doesn’t align and ours. You know, our assessment is always better than other people’s assessments, but it’s but the big issue there’s, what do you assessing it on? Um, so there’s so many variables in it, And so any time it’s that alarm again, somebody says, Yeah, I’m, um, expert at this. Okay, Well, show me, You know, it’s not that I don’t trust you. I just want to see I’m curious, you know, um, but, uh, yeah, in the and the, um, you know, when you come in, horns blaring, lights shining, you know, I’m coming in to fix them, coming in tow, own this and everything. It’s that same thing You know, I would rather that they ask a lot of questions that would make me feel more comfortable. I trust them more. Um, I got it. Theme.
[00:31:02] Andy: Oh, absolutely. I It’s Yeah, You go out into the forms or stack overflow or any of those places. And how can you not be humbled instantaneously by somebody who gives such a deep answer to something that you thought you were an expert in? It makes you realize you’re not an expert, right? I think that person, you know, clearly that’s what they’ve done for decades. They’ve got that 10,000 or more hours. They they think, eat, sleep, breathe it. I bow to them. Yeah, I’ve never put that kind of effort in anything except a broad industry. That’s, you know
[00:31:39] Anthony: well, I’ll close this episode with another example of that. There’s a song called Fracture by the band King Crimson. I mentioned the guitarist Robert Fripp earlier. One of the reasons I went to find him, you know, and seek his His training was because this song has eluded me for literally 20 years. You know, since the late 19 nineties, I have been studying this song and I don’t mean literally 20 years like 24 hours a day or something, but and
[00:32:08] Andy: by alluded, you mean playing it?
[00:32:10] Anthony: Yeah, and even understanding it like it’s one of those things. The deeper you go into it, the less it makes sense, you know? So it’s a very fast song. It doesn’t sound fast, but when you go to play it, it’s like, This is This is so stupidly hard. Why would anyone write this? Why would anyone try playing this? So I went to learn from him and everything I learned. It was like it made no sense, you know, like like he talked about. He actually pulled me aside. We were at lunch and he goes, Anthony, you’ll never be able to play fracture until you can bend your thumb at at the bottom knuckle of your thumb, you know, so not like where you normally bend your thumb, but the knuckle below that. So you need to keep a straight thumb and basically do this. And he kept. He kept bending his straight thumb from this knuckle, not the one at the wrist and not the one where we normally bend. But that one in between. And I still don’t quite understand. But It’s made a huge difference in how I play the song, and it was that and so many other things, the way he changes strings. When he’s picking the way he picks the pick he uses. You know all of these things. They all add up to the system that can lead to this song. But I’ve spent so much time studying it that instead of making a video, Siri’s about on Make My Make word music channel. I’m a YouTube channel instead of making a Siris on how to play it, my series is called Failure to Fracture. You know, like it’s all the things that have led to failure of playing the song because I don’t know if it’s Robert who wrote it, says it’s impossible to play, and it’s not impossible. It’s like an aphorism. You know, there’s truth in the aphorism, but you don’t understand it until you experience it. And to say that the song is impossible can only be understood by those who have tried playing it right for and not just like for 10 minutes. I mean, for years and there are it’s I made this Siri’s thinking. Yeah, maybe 20 people are going to get this. It turns out there’s like hundreds of people around the world who have been trying to play this song, and it’s just it’s ridiculous and these videos get thousands of views, you know, here I am thinking, How much more esoteric could it be? Right? But there really is a community of people around the world who realized this thing is impossible and it really is hard, and we really don’t understand how to play it. And the series is called Failure to Fracture because the double meaning I fail to play the song fracture. But it’s also like a transition from from total failure to playing fracture right? It’s a double meaning, but, um, you it’s like if your cup is full, you can’t truly understand what it is that you’re experiencing because there’s no room for other understanding. So unless we remove our assumptions, we’re not gonna learn. And so that’s what I’m hoping that we can start doing through this podcast. Siri’s, you know, take listeners through this journey of cluelessness, and hopefully listeners will recognize it in their own lives.
[00:35:40] Andy: Realized their cup is not, huh? There’s lots of room in there
[00:35:44] Anthony: or empty it when they have to.
[00:35:46] Andy: Yeah, yeah, yeah,
[00:35:47] Anthony: yeah! All right. Cool. So, uh, that’s the end of Episode one. The next episode, we will be talking about, um, contradictory knowledge and showing up on time
[00:36:00] Andy: showing a bum time.
[00:36:01] Anthony: Yeah, that’s a good one. And again, the source of all of this is a book that I wrote called Clueless at the work advice from a corporate tyrant. And you can go to AA Clueless at the work dot com Thio, find out more. Thanks.