The focus needs to be on the money. In this episode of the Talent Empowerment Podcast, Dr. Chaz Austin, President of Austin Career Packaging & Marketing, shares his vast expertise on the gig economy and helps us understand all the aspects behind it.

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πŸ“ŒTALKING POINTS

(1:27) Gardening leadership theory

(3:13) Creating a safe space for people in modern business

(6:47) Bringing your best self to the workplace

(10:04) How do we get people and leaders to engage to create a nurturing environment?

(13:17) Long-term partnerships with an employer

(26:45) The gig economy

🌟ABOUT DR. CHAZ AUSTIN

Dr. Charles Michael Austin, Ed.D. (β€œDoctor Chaz”) holds a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.

For the past 20 years, he has worked with clients all over the world, advising leaders and managers on how to be more effective, and how to use social media to reach their target audiences. He also trains workers on how to market themselves in The Gig Economy.

Dr. Austin has been a college professor for over 20 years, teaching a wide range of courses in business, leadership, and communication. He has presented papers to the National Association of Women MBAs, the Association for Business Communication, the National Council for Workforce Education, the Society of Educators and Scholars, the International College Teaching and Learning Conference, and the Global Conference on Leadership and Management.

πŸ”—CONNECT WITH DR.CHAZ

πŸ”—CONNECT WITH TOM

πŸŽ™οΈABOUT THE PODCAST

Every Thursday on the Talent Empowerment Podcast, Tom Finn, the dynamic Co-Founder and CEO of LeggUP, ventures into the minds of trailblazing CEOs, HR executives, and talent development savants from various industries to dive deep into their career paths, dissect their strategies for growing people-first culture in their organizations, and uncover how they’re driving talent innovation.

Tom Finn:

Hey there, thanks for tuning in to the Talent Empowerment Podcast. We're here to help you love your job. We're gonna unpack the tools and tactics of successful humans to guide you towards your own career empowerment. I am your host today, Tom Finn, and on the show today we have my friend, Dr. Chaz Austin. Dr. Austin, welcome to the show.

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

Thanks, Tom. Good to be here. Thank you.

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Tom Finn:

Well, we are thrilled to have you on the show and I'm glad you are with us. If you don't know Dr. Austin, let me take just a moment to introduce you to him. Dr. Charles Michael Austin, EDD, also known as Dr. Chas, holds a doctorate in organizational leadership from Pepperdine University. And if you don't know where that is, it's in beautiful Malibu, California. For the past 20 years, he has worked with clients all over the world, advising leaders and managers on how to be more effective, how to use social media. to reach their target audiences. He also trains workers on how to market themselves in something called the gig economy. Dr. Austin has been a college professor for over 20 years, teaching a wide range of courses in business, leadership and communication. So let's start there. If you do just a smidge of research on Dr. Chaz, you're gonna find out he has this theory called gardening leadership theory. So Dr. Chaz, let's start there. What is gardening leadership theory? And of course, why should we care?

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

So I'll quote from what was recently posted on LinkedIn. So I don't misquote myself. And basically, the philosophy behind gardening leadership theory is this. A great leader is a gardener. He or she creates a safe environment for their people and protects and nurtures that environment so they can grow and flourish. That's the heart of it. Make sense?

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Tom Finn:

It does make sense. So I think on, on the surface growing and nurturing people makes a whole lot of sense, but why is that important?

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

For two reasons, one, it's the right thing to do, two, you make more money that way. When you have happy employees or workers who feel taken care of and heard and appreciated, they'll give you more. It's better for business in addition to being the right thing to do. But leaders and managers are interested in profits. Let's be honest about it. This is not about being a nice person. So if you hook them with the idea first that this will improve your bottom line, that gets them. Then the second part of it, which you don't even have to mention to them, is people will appreciate you more and appreciate the environment they work in and you'll be doing some good in terms of creating something where people feel safe and nurtured and able to be creative.

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Tom Finn:

So how do you create a safe space for people in modern business? The reason I ask is it's so different than it was 30 years ago. And you've been studying, researching, writing for a long time. How do we do that now?

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

First step, if you're gonna lead or manage people, you wanna get some kind of therapy for yourself to understand how you're wired. So it's how you're wired and then how you're connected. So what drives you as a human being? My wife is a Freudian analyst and she taught me and showed me, and it's very interesting, that the workplace is modeled after the environment you grew up in as a child. So the boss... the leader, the manager is like mom or dad. And when you're a kid, it's always about outflanking your siblings. When you get older, it's the same proposition, only now everybody's wearing suits. You're still trying to outbox the other workers, so you will appeal to mommy and daddy. So if you understand that, the boss, in other words, if you understand that as a boss, You understand how people behave. They do behave like little children. How come he has a bigger office than I do? How come he got a bigger screen than I did? That kind of nonsense. It's okay, children, just relax. If you understand that's how people are wired and you understand yourself, then you don't behave like the traditional mommy and daddy who has all the power and punishes the child if they do the wrong thing. And... criticizes them rather than acknowledging them for the good things they do. I mean, parents so often, it's just like being a manager. It's not something you're really trained for. So parents, you're not really raising your children. Your parents are raising your children. And if you come from an environment where it's dysfunctional, that translates into how you run an organization. You think you have to be like the mean, tough mommy and daddy. and that doesn't work. If you understand that you don't have to do that, that you have a choice, that what's gonna empower your people and impact your bottom line positively is you're not behaving that way. That's a huge relief for people. They're not living in fear of mommy and daddy's gonna get mad. I'm gonna get punished, or when you get older, I'm gonna lose my job, or not get the promotion I wanted, that sort of thing. So I think it's understanding how you're wired first. and then you're more effective in leading other people.

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Tom Finn:

You just blew my mind. I mean, if I was an emoji right now, I'd be the little face with the head that just exploded. And here's why. What's really interesting about what you said is that first you said, understand who you are as a person and understand how you were parented in your own home as a child because that actually has an impact on your management style. And if you don't understand that, you can't figure out how to connect. with people and nurture the next generation of people that are coming up within the organization.

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

Exactly. Yep.

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Tom Finn:

I mean, look, it makes all the sense in the world. I guess the question is, what if, and most people have, come from some sort of dysfunctional parenting situation, right, I mean, no matter how perfect your folks were, they probably missed on a few things in your opinion, right? So how can we take that information and say, look, I got a little bit of a twisted past, how do I make sure I don't bring that to the workplace and I bring my best self?

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

You're prone to behave the way you were wired as a kid. I'll use myself as an example. My father was German, so it was about disciplining the children, right? And what that looked like when I was growing up was beating them. That's how you discipline children, with the belt, yes? So I had this man who was 6'2", 220, leaning over me with a belt and just slamming me on the butt. So that doesn't work. or a version of that doesn't work. It didn't work back then for me. I have to intercede. I have a choice in the matter. I have to say, you know what? That didn't work. I'm not going to do that. That's exactly what I don't want to do to my workers is threaten them or make them afraid of me. Yes? So, and it's something I have to be conscious of all the time because I'm thrown to doing that. That's what I know. That's in my DNA. But I do have a choice as an adult to say, That doesn't work. Take a deep breath, don't do that. It didn't work for you as a child. It's not gonna work for them. There's another way to do this that's gonna empower your workers and create a safe space so they feel that they can come to you with any idea they might have, as wacky as it might be, and that you'll be receptive to at least listen to them. I always love the idea when bosses say, my door is always open. and you go in with a great idea and you walk out like a flat tire. And just like a child, you ain't going back there again. Because I am not going to take that abuse. This is not someone I want to work with and I'm probably going to quit because if I have to deal with this, I'm unwilling to do that. Yes? You want to create just the opposite. So again, it's a matter of choice. If you understand this is how it was wired, but this is not the only alternative. you can behave in a different way. I've learned to do that. I've learned not to be abusive to the people that report to me. But I mean, just because that was done to me doesn't mean I have to do it to somebody else. It's like fraternity initiations. Yes, I was in a fraternity in college. So you abuse the pledges, and then when it was your turn to be a brother, then you were abused. Now it's your turn to abuse. That has to stop, because it's just not effective financially. And it's not the right thing to do, but we'll forget about that. Again, appeal to bosses in terms of the money. It's much more effective for you. Get more out of your people if you treat them with respect.

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Tom Finn:

Okay, what do you say to people that say, come on, Dr. Chaz, it's 2023. Um, we, we do not have abusive cultures in the workforce. Uh, you know, my job is to lead and nurture, but I tend to find that at times it's a lot of lip service. Um, not that it's an abusive culture, but it's, it's almost a culture or, or a process where people are too busy to help. Right. It's not that I, I. I'm taking the belt out in your example, but how do we get people and leaders to actually engage so that they can produce this nurturing environment?

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

I would disagree respectfully. I think environments are still abusive in 2023. It may not be that you're yelling at your people, but if they live in a climate of fear where I'm the boss and you better kiss up to me or you're gonna lose your job, that's not a good place to be in. Because then you're always kissing butt, yes? And not doing your best. You're always trying to second guess, is he or she gonna like this? What kind of mood are they in? What do I say? What do I don't say? So the trust isn't there. They're always walking on eggshells. So that's the first point. I'll deal with that. You keep going.

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Tom Finn:

Well, I appreciate that. So how do we actually create that trusting environment? You use the word trust. It's used by a lot of leaders. It's used by Great Place to Work, who is a surveyed organization that gives you a logo that says you're a great place to work based on how employees respond. And a lot of that is based on trust between the employee and the manager. So how do you feel that trust plays into this relationship?

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

A lot of it's a structural problem. And you're the CEO of a company, you're on a long-term contract. Yes, I work for you, I'm not. If we're in California, you can fire me for any reason, right, right to work laws. So it's always set up, we're like, I'm always nervous. What do I say, what do I don't say? What did he look at me funny? Did I do the wrong thing? Should I talk to him, should I not talk to him? How about you put me under contract, and then I don't have to worry about that. But companies are reluctant to do that because they treat workers a lot like parts on a machine. You're in for six weeks, you're out for six weeks. This is the gig economy, yes? Where they don't invest in people long-term. They're not interested. So I walk in there knowing I'm gonna be there for six weeks on a project. Trust isn't the issue. I just have to do my job and make them happy enough. and not upset the boss so when he needs what I do again, he'll call me in and then I'll work for another six weeks or six months or whatever it is. So I think it's a structural thing. If you as the CEO are not committed to my long-term success and you're just hiring me like rented furniture, I'm not interested in all this. I'm not interested in trust or anything else. I'm just gonna do my job, keep my head down and hope you call me back.

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Tom Finn:

Yeah, but isn't that kind of what the market has said during the great resignation over the last year? Employees have come in and said, look, I'm going to be with you until I'm not. And if you, you know, lack of a better term, piss me off, I'm out. And I will go resign and find another job in an equal or better pay situation with somebody who may or may not be a better boss, but you're going to pay me five or 10 grand more, maybe 20. Sure. I'll go across the street for that. So hasn't the balance of power shifted back towards the employee?

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

Nope. I never believed in that great resignation. That was temporary. I knew the advantage was always the boss's side. So if you want my loyalty, I come in. You're the CEO. I come in to work for you. You want my loyalty? I'd like to sign you to a long-term contract with us. Now you're invested in me. Yes? Now I'm not going to go up and quit. Okay? Because I don't have to worry about getting the next gig, getting the next job, another five or 10 grand. You're going to pay me so well and give me such good benefits because you respect what I can do for you after this three months of working with you, and you're getting to see that this, I want to keep this guy. Now we've got something to talk about because I'm there for the long haul. You know it. I know it. You've given me the seal of approval. that you want me there long term as a member of your staff, not just in and out, and then we can talk. So as always, it's capitalism, and the advantage is always to the boss. People, that great resignation idea, people would quit because they could go somewhere else, but they don't really want to. They would rather stay if they could, but if you're, as the boss, not offering me anything other than a revolving door, Hey, another five or 10 grand, buy, I'm out of here. I don't care. If you're not invested in me, I'm not gonna be invested in you. But if you throw down and say, okay, long-term contract, really? Nobody does that. We do that. Because we wanna nurture employees, we wanna train them, we're looking for long-term stability not to keep having new people in. And that's a whole new conversation.

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Tom Finn:

All right, Dr. Chaz, I will bite on this one and go down the rabbit hole with you. So what type of long-term contract would be appropriate in a business setting? Five years, two years, 20 years? What does this actually look like in your mind?

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

I would look at two years, renewable. Yeah. Two, one year, two years is like, okay, this guy's really committed. He really wants me to stay here. And here are the possibilities after the two years. We can renew for another year. We have an option to renew for another two. These are the perks we'll give you if you stay for two years. Once you stayed for two years, we'll increase this, we'll increase that, we'll increase your responsibilities. We'll give you more challenges because we don't want you to burn out. We know you'll do a great job, but after two years you want a new challenge. We'll give that to you. We will structure it. Wow, I like this guy. He listens to me and he knows who I am and he knows what would work for me. Certain benefits would work for me. Other benefits I don't care about. We'll give you health insurance for your kids. I don't have kids. Okay, well, how about a better title? That I'm interested in. How about you can work virtually? That I'm interested in. How about the commute times? I don't care about that. So we structure it according to my needs as an individual. And I feel you're taking care of me. You care about what I do. You want me as part of your team and you're willing to commit to that, not just with lip service. Yeah, here's the contract. You got a contract, I want one too. I'm valuable to this organization as well. You're still gonna make the big bucks. But I wanna know after two years, I'm gonna be vested, the 401k will be working. I'll get stock options, et cetera, et cetera. Make it so I want to stay. Make it interesting for me. Make it something that's going to hook me. So I will commit to you the way you've just committed to me.

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Tom Finn:

Okay, I get it, but I don't know, I'm gonna play red team here, and red team really means the alternative view, right? So if I give you the alternative view here, playing red team, two years isn't a long-term contract. I was expecting you to say 10, but the problem with long-term deals like that is people get lazy. You see all sorts of examples of that in society. You can certainly look at professional sports and see when somebody... signs a big long-term deal, their production goes down. It's not, it's only natural. It's human nature. Look at some of the unions that, uh, I'll pick on one, just for example, look at the teachers unions where you get tenured and no matter how bad you are as a teacher, as long as you don't physically assault anybody, uh, you keep your job for life essentially, which is why, in my opinion, humbly, we have such a bad education system, um, under the collegiate level. in American society is because you don't have to perform anymore. You have a long-term deal and your performance matters zero. So how do we avoid that in business? Because I think that's what the CEO is thinking. Look, I want you to perform every day when you show up at our organization, not take a 10-year deal and when you're asleep for nine years.

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

That's why I said, good point. First of all, a lifetime contract for anything? Oh yeah, any human being is gonna say, I'm done. I don't have to do anything, really. I don't even have to show up, I'll still get paid. No, that doesn't work. That's why I didn't say 10 years. So if you're the CEO, model it after your contract and your contract's probably not for 10 years, it's probably for one or two. I think two is just a nice sweet spot. Five's a little too long, one's a little too short. I think two is fine, and then we'll really reevaluate all the way through, and right before two years is up, we will renegotiate. Do you wanna stay here? How can we sweeten the deal? Do we wanna keep you? Like that. So I agree that's a large part of the problem with the educational system is that there's, I've been an educator forever. The other part of it is we're still teaching to the test and we're still teaching theory and we're still not addressing what kids need. That's, so that's the other part of it as to why it doesn't work. But lifetime, as a CEO, would you, would you have a lifetime contract? No, yeah. So neither should your workers. That's why I thought two years would be a nice good time for them, I could settle in for a year and then the second year, now I'm pushing toward, I wanna stay with this company. What can I show them? What benchmarks does the CEO want that will have him come back to me short of two years and say, we want to keep you, we want to offer you another two years, maybe three, and these are your new responsibilities, here's your new salary and your new perks.

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Tom Finn:

So Dr. Chaz, I'm going to assume you're a boomer. Am I correct?

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

Yes.

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Tom Finn:

And during sort of the early stages of boomers, there was this philosophy of you come into the organization and you get developed and you get mentored by somebody who is a senior leader, a senior partner, a whomever, and you go under their wing and they sort of teach you the ropes and they teach you how to behave. They teach you how to interact. They teach you how to... apply the corporate value systems and deliver for the organization. That model for most organizations has evaporated. So outside of compensation, how do you engage and nurture this next generation without a model that engages and nurtures? It's not there structurally anymore.

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

Maybe we need to put it back. If you want the kind of productivity you want, let's just take a step back. If it's all about you're getting your perks and you're getting your bonus and nothing about the employee, then you're going to do everything you can to replace me or any employee with a robot because they're cheaper and they don't complain and they don't need vacation and they don't come in late. Nothing. Robot doesn't work. Throw it out. Get a new one. If your commitment is to just you and your bonus, then I'm a liability. If we shift that and you're looking at building long-term an organization, then you want me on long-term. Then you want that model that we had back in the day, the good old days, where, and you would do this. If you put me in a two-year contract, you would want me to be mentored. You would not mean to be showing the ropes because you're looking long-term, I'm gonna grow with this organization. Maybe one day replace you. Once you're so old and rich and wealthy, you don't need to work anymore, yeah? So you're gonna need a replacement. You're gonna need senior management. You're gonna work to have me be that and you're gonna put that back in where I have mentors and I'm someone who's showing the ropes because you're invested in my growing with the organization. So what's the emphasis on? Is it your... bonus or is it the organization? And I don't think those are exclusive. I really don't. And I think if you get a, it's like Taylor Swift, she grossed a billion dollars on her tour and gave each of her drivers, cause she has like 50 vans that go from city to city. She gave each of her drivers $100,000 bonus, like that. She's gonna pocket half a billion dollars herself. so she can give some of that away. That's gonna get their attention, certainly. You do that for me, you get a nice big bonus, and it's not just your bonus, it's the bonus for the whole company, and you get your $3 million and you throw me 50,000, I'm sticking around because your success is my success, and the way it's become is your success, I'm in the way of your success, so we're not working together, it's you versus your workers. So if we can have it where it's you and your workers, you'll make more, I'll make more, and you'll have more stability in the company and more productivity and make more money.

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Tom Finn:

Yeah, I think what you're saying is a rising tide raises all boats. If the economics of the business are such that it's successful and we have a lot of extra capital to deliver to the organization and to individuals, we should do that. And I think a lot of organizations do take that tact. I mean, we're sort of playing on the, you know, the organizations that don't do a good job, but there's plenty of them. There are, there really are plenty of them that do it. darn good job of delivering value to their employees and bringing them up, developing them, giving them bonuses when appropriate, when they can, giving them stock options, private companies that do this, publicly traded companies that do this. So I think people understand the concept, but this idea of a multi-year contract, whether it's two, three, four years, five years, whatever the number is that you come up with, right? That long-term contract. The thing that's still playing around in the back of my head is... Can't they just quit anyway? Like, why does that, why does a long-term contract, two, three, four, for argument's sake, let's just say it's one of those. Like, I can still quit if I want to.

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

Mm-hmm, you can. There's a penalty, of course, okay? Yes, you can still quit, but your job is to make it so that I don't want to quit. I can now take a deep breath, I can relax, I can do my job, not be looking around. Now, I wanna go back to your point. It's easy to say this, there are market conditions that companies can't do this in many cases, in most cases. because the competition is not working that way and they're hiring robots and they have far less costs on labor so they can go to market at cheaper prices and undermine you and put you out of business. So you're competing with that. You wanna be a good guy and take care of your workers. Meantime you're getting killed in the marketplace by the competition, which doesn't care about their workers. So I understand that too, but. in this model in a perfect world where you're really taking care of people and being a great manager or leader, the pot is so sweet. Now I wouldn't wanna quit in a million years. This is great. This is wonderful. And after two years, I'll look at it, but I think I could continue. But here's what I need. I need more of a challenge. I need more money. I need a better title. If you're willing to do that, and if you've invested in me and mentored me, and I'm really part of the organization, but really a part of it, then let's continue.

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Tom Finn:

Well, I think that kind of builds the point for long-term partnerships with an employer. But one of the things that you focus on is understanding how to self-market in the gig economy. So while we're sitting here talking about long-term relationships with an employer, you're also an expert in understanding the gig economy, which is the inverse of what we're talking about. The antithesis. Of this entire conversation is something you study in the gig economy. So help me understand your expertise in the gig economy.

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

So I wouldn't say it's the antithesis. I would say it's one step between what we have now and what we just talked about, this ideal world, yes? So while unions are coming back, while leaders are looking at possibly long-term relationships with their employees, we are in the gig economy. So employers, for the most part, don't care. And we have to look at the reality. So let's stop. this utopian idea, and let's look at what's for real now, which is what makes teaching people about this hard because they want what we talked about or they want what the boomers had, and it's really gone away. So what you have to do is, the Bible, my Bible, it says, the truth shall set you free, but first it's gonna piss you off. So these are the things that. You need to hear and don't want to, but it's my job to tell you. And how it is, is there's really no more corporate loyalty. You're on your own. You have to learn that you are a brand, what that brand is, how to articulate it and who to sell it to. So from now on, you will have two jobs until things change. And it's a perfect world. You will have two jobs. One is what you do, and the other one is marketing your skill set to people who will buy. Forget about social media and finding fans. We're not looking for fans. We're looking for money So essentially you're your own business and you go from job to job and gig to gig and project to project Because that's the way it is. We'd like it to be different Teaching people or training people to do this is like pulling teeth. They hate it They want to they want it the way it was And that's just gone. So it's a struggle. But once they get it I said, I don't care if you like it or not, it's just how it is. So it's something you learn to do. You learn to use a smartphone, you could learn to self-market and you don't have to be great at it, just good enough that people know what you do and will pay you for your skillset and you're always up-skilling. This is for the rest of your life. I tell them, once you're dead, you're off the hook. But for the foreseeable future, we're in the gig economy. I will train you how to be effective.

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Tom Finn:

Okay, fair enough. So for those of us that are on Instagram X, we're on YouTube, we're on all of the different social media apps, right? And you're thinking through Facebook and LinkedIn and threads and TikTok, all of the different spaces that you can sort of self-promote in the gig economy. What you said is stop thinking about fans and start thinking about the Benjamins, if you will, or the dough. All right, how do you do that, man? Really, I mean, how do you just not post and actually generate revenue and some sort of brand from this?

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

The focus needs to be on the money, not people applauding you and saying you're wonderful. It's like going to your mom, I think you're wonderful, dear. She's not a client and we're a potential client. She's not gonna pay you. We're not, it's a matter of shifting focus. This is why it's a training. And I take a long time with my private clients to work on this because it's a whole mind shift. I tell them it's a way to change consciousness without the use of drugs. You're thinking about it in a different way, and you're behaving in a different way. And I will have worked for as long as I want, because people, this is a brand new concept for most people. They've never had to do this. They've never been asked to do this. I cannot count how many people I've worked with who say, you know, I'm 50 years old, 60 years old, 40 years old. I've worked for one company for years. They moved to Indiana. I was unwilling to move. I've never written a resume before. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. All I know is I do my job. I had a nurse once I worked with. She was a nurse for 40 years. They closed the hospital. I said, you're going to have to market yourself. And she said, I shouldn't have to. I'm a nurse. I just want to be a nurse. Sorry, you're going to have to learn how to market. And these are people who have no concept of self-marketing, no concept that they're a brand or that they're their own business, or how about being entrepreneurial. It's a whole new way to think. So it's tough for them. And I have a lot of empathy. for what they have to go through. But once they come out the other side, it's like, oh, this works. I don't like it. And I say, I don't care. I don't like it, but this is the way I can always find work, not focus on one client, but focus on a series of clients. So I'm never unemployed and I'm never beholden to one boss who looked at me cross-eyed one day and decided I was expendable and threw me out.

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Tom Finn:

Yeah, look, I understand the security feature of branding. I completely get it. And I think it's valuable in today's market. Um, I think what I would want to know if I'm listening is, okay, Dr. Chaz, like, how do I start? Just give me the starting point. How do I think about this differently?

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

Great, so you're my client, let's say now, in this scenario, okay? First two questions I ask, what do you wanna do? What's the next step in your career? Yes, and then we get to the concept of re-careering. Yeah, so I've been doing this forever and now I wanna try something new or I wanna move to the next phase in this industry. It doesn't matter, whatever it happens to be, I can get behind it. What do you wanna do is the first question. And I don't know is a valid answer. A lot of people at all ages, they don't know. you are seven or eight careers, yes, not jobs, careers. So this is the new normal. So that's the first question. So let's say you have an idea of what you wanna do next. Okay, my second question is who do you know? Who do you have a relationship with who either works in that field or might know someone who works in that field so you can start getting rooted in that industry and take your transferable skills and move them over into that industry? and start a whole new life. And you're not the first person to do this. You're the 10 millionth person to do this. So that's, again, what I teach classes. It's wonderful because people realize, oh, I'm not alone. I'm not the only one in the room who needs to change things around. And it is about relationships. It's not the paper. It's the people. It's not the resume. It's the relationships. And that's what will propel you into the next career. I have a Friend of mine who was a production accountant in the entertainment industry for 40 years, she moved to the East Coast and she got a realtor's license. She has people skills, she's great with people, she's very intelligent, she's articulate. She will do well in that field. That's a huge change, but that's what she needed to do. So you're not the first, we can make this happen. I will guide you through that and we'll work on what's called the cumulative positive. In other words, what have you done before that will make you better at what you did next? And that's my job is to show you, oh, you did this, that would help you here. Oh, hadn't thought about that. Of course you hadn't thought about that. You've never had to do this before. I will coach you so you can see how marketable you are and what specific things you have that people will pay for in this new industry you want to work in.

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Tom Finn:

Yeah, it's a good way of looking at the world. I mean, everybody needs to brand themselves a little bit. Everybody needs to take their time and think about what they wanna do. And I would argue that you need to find something that creates some purpose in your life so that you can find happiness. Because if it's just, I wanna brand myself, that's an empty shell. But if you start to think about it and say, I wanna brand myself in this way because my heart just sings when I think about that. and that makes me just love life and give more energy into the world. Well, that's, that's a place to be.

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

Yeah, that's a concept I created called monetizable passion. Meaning you may be passionate about something, but when we look at the market, okay, you can't make a living at it. So it becomes a hobby, yes? So I had a girlfriend years ago who was a vice president at Nielsen Media, yes? And she'd been there 30 years. I said, it's your career. She said, no, this is my job. My passion is my horse. This job pays for the horse. No one's going to pay her to ride horses. So it's understanding that. Is it monetizable? You may love it. I had a student once come up in a classroom during a break. She said, I decided what I want to do. Well, my passion is I want to be a photographer. And I held up a smartphone. And I said, nope. I said, smartphones have killed off the photography business because if you're, say, working as a wedding photographer, The couple doesn't know the difference between the quality of a 35 millimeter image and what's on a cell phone. I had a friend who was a wedding photographer, she closed the business because it dried up. So you can always take pictures, but let's find something else that you can monetize. This is business, you don't have to love it. You may get lucky like I did, where I have something that has great purpose, makes a serious impact on people, and I make a lot of money, okay? But you may have to kind of settle for. I'm going to do this job. I like it. It's fine. It's good. And I get three weeks vacation every year. And then I can indulge my passion. And I can do skydiving all over the world, which I do every year for three weeks at a different place. So you can have that sort of balance in your life. But I think the monetizable part is really important for people to understand.

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Tom Finn:

Yeah, I love what you said there. Monetize your passion, try to figure out what you want to do. And if you want to ride horses and can't make any money at it, go find something you can do to pay for your ability to monetize something else and then go ride your horses, have enough time to ride your horses. I think that's important.

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

Yeah, and it could be something related. Maybe you become a horse trainer. Like if you want to be a graphic designer or you want to be a better example, you want to be a painter, okay? But you can't make a steady living as a painter, but you can get a master's and teach painting and do graphic design and that all ties in. So if you make money selling a painting, it's great. And if you don't, You're okay too because you've still got money coming in and you're not doing side gigs, you're not working at Starbucks, nothing like that, and it's all tied in together. So there's that opportunity too for some people.

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Tom Finn:

Well, look, I've always heard that painters get rich after they're dead. So that was never an economic model I wanted to play around with. Um, but, uh, but I totally get your point. And I think we, I think we've covered a lot today. Look, we started with how do you create and nurture organizations? And we've ended with how do you create a brand for yourself where you can find your passion and monetize it. And I think what you're saying is it's a little bit of both. It's a bit of a mixed bag in the market today. and you've got to figure out where you fit, and you've got to figure out how you can monetize your skill set, promote that skill set, and be somewhere that makes you happy.

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

Yep. Yes. Well said. Well said.

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Tom Finn:

All right, well, I think we've wrapped it up then. Dr. Chas, where can we find you if people wanna get in touch, they wanna connect with you, they wanna learn more about what you bring to the world, where can they do that?

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

Go to my LinkedIn page, Dr. Chas Austin, C-H-A-Z, as in zebra, Austin, like the capital of Texas. And you'll find everything you want to know about me, my books. I have three courses on LinkedIn learning. I have a TEDx talk and all the writings I've done, et cetera, et cetera. So that's the place to go.

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Tom Finn:

All the things are on LinkedIn for Dr. Chas Austin, EDD. We will put all of that in the show notes. So for my friends that are driving, riding a bicycle, you don't have to look at your phone and try to type that in or remember it. You can click the link. Dr. Chas Austin, thank you for being on the show. It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know you.

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Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.:

Thank you, Tom. This was a great discussion. I appreciate the tough questions and the wonderful dialogue we've had.

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Tom Finn:

Well, we appreciate you as well, my friend. And thank you all for tuning into the Talent Empowerment podcast. We hope you've unpacked a few tips and tricks to love your job. And I hope I didn't offend anybody today. Get ready to dive back into all things career and happiness on the next episode. We'll see you then.

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Tom Finn
Podcaster & Co-Founder

Tom Finn (he/him) is an InsurTech strategist, host of the Talent Empowerment podcast, and co-founder and CEO of an inclusive people development platform.

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