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Practical Optimism: Tools for Tackling Tough Times

Ken Schmitt, Founder of TurningPoint and 'The Practical Optimist' author, discusses practical optimism tools for accountants in tough times.

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For today’s show “Ken Schmitt, Founder of TurningPoint Executive Search and ‘The Practical Optimist’ author, discusses practical optimism tools for accountants in tough times.”

In this inspiring episode, host Rob Brown interviews author and executive recruiter Ken Schmitt about cultivating practical optimism. They discuss how leaders can create engaged, empowered teams by trusting employees and giving them autonomy. 

Schmitt emphasizes taking “baby steps” to make changes sustainable, whether it’s becoming more optimistic personally or reaching big goals professionally. He suggests limiting doomscrolling on social media and following more uplifting accounts instead. 

Schmitt also stresses the importance of transparency and open communication when mistakes inevitably happen, noting that optimism enables resilience and perseverance. With tips for improving mental health, nurturing relationships, and achieving work-life balance, this episode provides an optimistic roadmap to start the new year off right.  

Overall, Schmitt makes the case that optimism is an attainable mindset, not pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking. 

Key Takeaways:

– Optimism is a mindset and a frame of reference. It’s about believing you can make a positive difference, even amidst uncertainty.

– Leaders who empower and trust their teams create more engagement and satisfaction. Micromanaging squashes innovation.

– Transparency about company culture and clear communication of expectations helps attract and retain the right talent.

– Limit doomscrolling on social media. Follow accounts that bring you joy and inspiration instead.

– Mental health challenges are surmountable. Seeking help is a sign of strength and agency, not weakness. 

“If you’re too optimistic, you may take big risks that don’t pay off. If you’re too practical, you won’t take many risks at all.”

Imogen Allen

Transcript
Ken Schmitt:

people join companies. And they leave managers, what really drives my satisfaction in my position is my immediate boss, or maybe my boss's boss as well, and that, that is a huge, huge, determinant of whether somebody stays long term in a position and how happy and engaged they are. I think because a lot of leaders They don't do the best job of actually trusting and empowering. The talent that they actually hired and They micromanage or they're hovering over their shoulder or they're not giving them the autonomy or the ability to be truly disruptive or innovative,

Rob Brown:

With a brand new year, it's important to start well, but with all the doom and gloom that's going around and how the world is changing, being optimistic and positive is not always a good way to go. Our guest today is founder and CEO of Turning Point Executive Search, an author of The Practical Optimist, An Entrepreneurial Journey Through Life's Turning Points, and he's host of the Leadership Happens podcast. Welcome, Ken

Ken Schmitt:

Schmidt. Thanks so much, Rob. I'm excited to be here.

Rob Brown:

Ken, what does optimism mean in

Ken Schmitt:

today's crazy world? You know, I've always been a big believer that optimism is really kind of a mindset, right? It's a frame of mind. It's how you choose to show up. And while there's a lot happening around us in the world, whether it's, you know, geopolitical or the climate or anything else out there, there's a lot of things that are certainly out of our control as, as the average citizen. But the one thing that you can control is optimism and your attitude and your approach to things and how you show up if you're a leader, you know, how you're leading your team, what are your, what are you allowing them to do? How are you empowering them? How are you trusting them? And if you're an employee, you know, are you being, are you willing to be candid and provide pushback and, and provide, you know, feedback to those around you and also. So, you know, managing up into leadership, uh, as well. And so optimism really is that belief, not, not that it's a Pollyanna pie in the sky, everything's always great, right? You've got, you've gotta have that balance of practicality and, and, and kind of realism to, uh, balance off that optimism. But just the belief that we can make a difference, a belief that we want to make a difference, and that we can just trust other people and really. take the time to engage and understand and learn what their perspective is. In my mind, that's, that's optimistic. That's a belief that things can and will get better.

Rob Brown:

Our audience, accountants, finance, tech professionals, leaders, they're very black and white in many ways. They don't have time so much for the, they might call it wishy washy or the The softer side of things, it's binary, it's right, it's wrong. They don't really think about mindset and positivity and optimism. So convince us that it It counts.

Ken Schmitt:

Sure. Well, I think, I mean, whether, whether you are, um, you know, a believer in data, whether you're a believer in more anecdotal evidence or whether you just kind of believe in a greater universal purpose, no matter what it is, there is data, there's research, there's information out there to really prove the case that a being more optimistic, being more engaged and more positive. creates a better work experience for you. So if you're, if you are black and white in terms of how you think of things. Um, secondly, it also, you know, helps you in terms of just your own, you know, wellbeing, you know, your, your mental mindset or state of mind, your physicality, how you're, how you're doing, you know, aches and pains and all these things that, that creep into our lives as we get into our older years. I'm in my early fifties now, or I guess technically mid fifties cause I'm 53. Um, but you know, but having a more positive mindset. Um, really does, uh, support that. And so even if you are in more of a binary mindset where you think things are either one way or the other, you know, you can look to a lot of different research and data out there over the last several decades that proves that if you are more optimistic, more, um, positive person in general, then you will have a better life, no matter what your career happens to be, even if you're in a more technical, uh, or accounting and finance type position.

Rob Brown:

Let's talk about the generations. It used to be that. If you were young, you saw the world in a good way, full of possibilities, you've got that vigor of youth, if you like, and nothing can get you down, and as you get a little bit older, you get a bit more grumpy. You see the world for what it is. You start to bitch and moan and whine and nothing's as good as it used to be. But have things flipped? We see a lot of mental health and well being issues with the younger generation. They live on screens. Talk to us about the approach of generations to something like optimism.

Ken Schmitt:

Yeah, I think we'll actually back to one of your first questions is, you know, defining optimism. And I think that's what we're all getting used to all of us being in leadership roles and being a little more advanced in our career experience versus those that are Gen Z in their in their late teens or early to mid 20s. And I think optimism for us was you know, as far as from a career perspective went, optimism was if I, if I put my time in, if I show up early, if I stay late, if I, if I, you know, kind of give it my all and, and do the right things and just do what my boss asked me to do, then my optimistic self will say, great, I'm going to climb that corporate ladder. I'm going to get to a better position. with more authority, more responsibility, more money, um, and that was kind of our, our definition of optimism and those kinds of things, you know, if you look now to Gen Z, and I have two kids, one 26 and one 22, so I am living and breathing the Gen Z, you know, attitude day in and day out. Uh, it's different. Their definition of optimism is less around, you know, I am living to work. where everything is about work and it's more like I'm working to live, right? I'm, I'm, I'm getting a paycheck for a reason. And so their optimism is defined by transparency and clarity and, and, you know, expectations that are in line with what they want to do with their lives. So optimism for them is the ability to talk about their mental health. How are they doing their, their unwillingness to work 60, 70 hours a week. because they want to go on with their, you know, get on with their personal lives outside of the nine to five. So I think, you know, the optimistic, you know, the optimistic Gen Z has a different definition and approach to how they, how they look at life versus those of us, I'm, I'm Gen X, and those of us that are a little bit, you know, more seasoned in our experience, we'll look at it as well. And I think also optimism is, is the, is the, I think the positive side for Gen Z in terms of what we're seeing from them. is they're very optimistic about making a difference in the world. They truly believe that, you know, hey, things need to change, whether it's in politics, whether it's in climate, whether it's in just respecting the opposite political party, no matter where you are in, you know, in the world. You know, it is about that clarity, that transparency, and that the average citizen can make a difference when they're talking about these things, um, and, and, and pushing back, if you will, on the powers that be.

Rob Brown:

Now, you've got a recruitment, a search, a talent background, Ken, what stops bosses from keeping talent? People leave a bad boss, don't they? They won't tolerate it anymore.

Ken Schmitt:

Right. Exactly. I've been recruiting now for 26 years. My company is almost 17 years old. So quite a bit of experience to your point. And during all those, you know, almost three decades now, my, the mantra that we have in recruiting has not changed, which is people join companies. And they leave managers, which means you're going into a company expecting a certain culture, a certain way of operating, a certain, you know, optimism, if you will, you know, a certain, you know, goal and, and focus. And then you realize, okay, really, I, I, I'm exposed to that to a certain extent. But what really drives my satisfaction in my position is my immediate boss, or maybe my boss's boss as well, depending upon the size of the company. And that, that is a huge, huge, um, determinant of whether somebody stays long term in a position and how happy and engaged they are. I mean, Gallup does their. their global survey every single year about employee engagement. And it's really kind of crazy that it's hovered around the same number for so many years, right around 24 to 28 percent of people say they are truly engaged at work. Right. And I think because a lot of leaders don't do a great job of, they do a good job of recruiting talent. They don't do the best job of actually trusting and empowering. The talent that they actually hired and they micromanage or they're hovering over their shoulder or they're not giving them the autonomy or the ability to be truly disruptive or innovative, or companies are very top down when the reality is most of the best ideas out there come from the bottom up. But if you're a leader that is all, it's on top of your team all the time and not giving that space and that breathing room, you know, you're going to squash any desire or, or potential for innovation. In a professional firm

Rob Brown:

or any company, if you're hiring, what kind of things should you be doing and saying to make people optimistic that they are a good fit for you and they should join?

Ken Schmitt:

Yeah, I think a lot of it comes around, comes down to really just kind of transparency and really honesty. You know, we have this expression that we call, that we call your employment brand. Every company has a brand in terms of what their product or service happens to be and how, how they are, you know, perceived by their customer base. But a lot of companies don't spend nearly as much time focusing on their internal employment brand. What is it like to work at ABC company? Are we a pre IPO, hard driving, metric driven, you know, 60, 70 hour a week organization? But we're trying to drive to a certain point to go public, right? And so you, you kind of had that reality, or are we more of, of a company where we're mature, you know, we're going to, we're going to be growing every year, but maybe two or 3%, not the hockey stick kind of growth of a pre IPO company. And you need to bring somebody in who's more mature, who's more seasoned. And even if they are more junior, somebody who is, is comfortable and, and, um, uh, effective in an environment, in a culture. where, you know, policies and procedures are all buttoned up. There's not a lot of room for creativity in some organizations. So it's, it's a, it's step one is, is understanding and owning that employment brand, what kind of an organization are you? Step two is then translating that into your job descriptions, how you hire, you know, where you hire from. And step three is being very transparent and making sure that who you do hire is aligned. with the things that we talked about. If you are that hard driving 60 plus hour a week company that is really go go go trying to go out there and plant your flag everywhere and it's a it's a market grab kind of organization, you probably don't want to hire a brand new parent. Who wants to have time at home with their new child and is going to need flexibility for doctor's appointments and those kinds of things. Uh, not, it's not a right or a wrong or a judgment call. It's just, you know, a willingness to, to align your culture and your organization's, you know, um, kind of process with the types of people that you hire. And if you don't do that, then you're going to end up hiring the wrong kind of person. Or you're going to be telling your new hire that you're one type of company when the reality is you're not, then there's going to be a very quick misalignment. And that employee is going to be very unhappy very quickly.

Rob Brown:

You deal with professional service firms. You know what it's like in accounting firms. The traditional model is you join us young, you work 10, 15, 20 years. We chain you to a desk in a dark room, running spreadsheets and crunching the numbers. You might make partner. If you do make partner, we might invite you to contribute a few hundred thousand dollars to our equity pot. That's not reason for people joining to be optimistic in a career choice, is it Ken?

Ken Schmitt:

No, you're exactly right. And that's an example also of leadership. The people that are in leadership positions really have to change their mentality and their expectation, whether it's an engineering firm, an accounting firm, a law firm, that model that you just described, Rob, is, is, is, I mean, it's, it's decades old. As we all know, I've been recruiting for a long time. I started my recruiting career. in accounting and finance exclusively bringing people out of big four back then it was big eight, right. And doing that and bringing them into either mid tier firms or local firms or moving them from, you know, from the, uh, the agency side, you know, the firm side to client side. And it was very different back then. People were very excited about getting that new job, that first job coming out of the CPA firm. And we're willing to do what I mentioned before about climbing that corporate ladder and putting their hours in fast forward to today. And it's very, very different. Their expectation is different and their, their desire to do that is very different also. So leaders, the current partners and managing directors of these firms have got to change what they're doing to, to incentivize these folks coming out of school to go into their firm. There's a lot of talk lately in the U S especially where I'm based around, you know, the lack of, of CPA, lack of accounting and finance majors going into college and university. because you're, you have to do six years of schooling. Then, like you said, you have to go in and do a lot of grunt work early on. And with the amount of student debt that you have coming out compared to the average salary coming out of school, the ROI is not necessarily there. That really, it takes such a long time to make enough money to have it, have it, you know, kind of justify the number of years and low salary that you start off. that, you know, there's a drought out there in terms of good, strong accounting and finance talent. And so that's going to have to change. So I've, I've been seeing a lot more conversation out there and reading more articles about, you know, these, these professional service firms that are looking for people with different kinds of degrees, not just accounting, but engineering or business or economics, or, you know, even poli sci. And, and communications looking for this kind of talent in a different talent pool than what they've been used to for all those years. And it's going to require that kind of new thinking to really bring up the new generation of talent through that system. Is

Rob Brown:

optimism coachable, Ken? Some people seem to have a set personality. It's the way they were born or brought up. Can you teach, mentor somebody to be optimistic? I think

Ken Schmitt:

so. I think there, there is, you certainly have a proclivity to be one way or the other, definitely, but Glass half full, glass half empty, right? Right, exactly, exactly. But I, but there's also, it also depends a lot on your environment. I mean, I mean, you look at folks that, that are alcoholics, right? You know, they do have a gene, a very specific part of their DNA that says they are more likely to become an alcoholic, right? Or a child of an alcoholic, let's say. But it doesn't mean that they are, they are guaranteed to, to have that be there lot in life. It depends upon the environment and what they're exposed to that will, that will or will not trigger that alcoholism, if you will, or that that addictive, uh, behavior, uh, and I think optimism is. is in everyone to some extent, but it's how you nurture and focus that. 009fd6009fd6 And I think, you know, how many times we talk to, or we either talk to, or we hear from brilliant leaders out there who say, Oh, I had this teacher in fourth grade or seventh grade or eighth, or I had this coach, or I had this or that early on in their life that somehow unlocked. whatever that skill was. It's the same with optimism, right? So, so teaching and being a great leader and a boss is really important. And you will have the ability to, to mentor and, and, you know, develop optimism in your team. If you look at your role in that way, if you see your role as not just being ticking and tying numbers left and right. but truly a responsibility to mentor and develop and, and craft an organization full of optimists, full of people that see the glass half full, as you talked about before, and not people that are looking for the doom and gloom everywhere.

Rob Brown:

One of the arguments pessimists make is if they are pessimistic, they're never disappointed because their expectations are always so low and bad things are going to happen. But even in the Bible, it says when you have trials, not if you have trials, and we're all going to get. Disappointment. So where does the optimist have the advantage?

Ken Schmitt:

I think, yeah, I think they have the advantage of kind of going into a situation where their, their default, if you will, is that, okay, this is going to go well. How can I ensure or improve the likelihood and the odds that it will go well? So that is definitely a, you know, an advantage. But I would say, you know, and like, like you mentioned earlier on, my book is called The Practical Optimist. And I get that term because my, my dad was very optimistic, the visionary, you know, kind of the entrepreneur who, you know, the proverbial, I think, uh, Reed Hastings from LinkedIn said, um, you know, it's all, if you're, if you're a, a, um, innovator and an entrepreneur, you know, you're basically jumping off a cliff and building the parachute on the way down. That, that was my dad for sure. My mom also very visionary, brilliant woman, somebody who had a lot of great ideas, was very methodical, but was also very, very practical. And so her ground, her practicality grounded my dad's optimism and vice versa. And so you do have to have both for sure. If you're too optimistic, right? And you are just looking at everything that you do with rose colored glasses, then you're going to make some very big bets and take some very big risks that are not going to pay off. And if you're too practical, On the flip side, you're not going to take very many risks at all. You're going to, you're going to, you know, get people to approve whatever you're asking for a new budget, headcount, whatever it is, because you're not really pushing the envelope. You're asking for the bare minimum and you're going to really squash that innovation and creativity if you're, if you're overly focused and committed to the practical side. So I think, you know. Both sides, the pessimist and the optimist have a bit of a advantage so long as they are balancing their natural default mode with the other side. So they see the opportunity, they see the chance to make things better. And they also understand how somebody else on their team might have the opposite default than what they have. And having that balance and that yin and yang, so to speak, um, creates the best organizations and the best possible outcomes. Do

Rob Brown:

you have any tips for dealing with failure, setback, the things that would damage optimism?

Ken Schmitt:

Yeah. I mean, I think it's, I mean, it's kind of cliche, but you know, it's, it's really important in my, in my experience over my many years of running a business and being in recruiting to, to, to take stock of what went wrong and to really be willing to, to have that transparent, very honest conversation with yourself. Okay. In this situation, what could I have done differently? And there are times where you do everything right and you, you follow the protocol, the process, whatever it might be. And for whatever reason, for factors out of your control, it just doesn't go well. It goes sideways. It's going to happen. But even in those situations, you can take a step back, take some time to, you know, don't just move on to the next thing and next decision, but take. It takes some time. As I say, as, as, as Gen Z says, right, you know, kind of take a moment, take a minute, um, and just, you know, look at what happened good or bad, what happened and what could I have done differently? What will I do differently next time around? Uh, I'm, I'm really big about transparency. And so when we, when I've made mistakes running my business with a decision or taking on a client that I shouldn't have or pushing too hard on, on increasing fees or whatever it may have been. You know, I'm very transparent with myself, but also with my team. I want my team to feel comfortable with any mistakes that they make. I don't want them to be hiding mistakes and have it want to be a much bigger issue later on because they were too afraid to bring it to my attention. So that transparency with yourself and with your team. goes a very, very long way. And I want to normalize the fact that we all make mistakes. I don't care what your title is. I don't care what your bank account looks like. I don't care how nice your car is. We are all making mistakes. I guarantee it a hundred percent, but what I can't guarantee is that everybody's going to be willing to really take stock of that mistake and figure out what to do next, next time around. So to your question about some tips, I I'm, I'm very big as far as journaling. And I do a lot of journaling on a daily basis. as a business owner, as a husband, as a father, as you know, as a leader, as a manager of my team, things that I did well and things that I didn't do well. And again, trying to learn from that. And for me, I recall things and remember things much better if I write them down. And I also get a chance to process them as I am writing them down. And so I have that journal book that I write in almost every day. And it really helps me to kind of see the. uh, have more visibility, if you will, into what went wrong and where I maybe, maybe I, I lean too much on my optimistic side. And I thought, and I, and I kind of ignored some of the red flags along the way, not realizing they would eventually kind of blow up at the end. And so it helps me to understand what to look at more closely the next time around. Are

Rob Brown:

optimists happier? You ask people in life what they want and they say, I just want to be happy. Right. Is there

Ken Schmitt:

a link? Yeah, I think it's, that's a great question. Um, how long is this podcast? Uh, there's, there's, um, you know, I mean, you look at, for example, you know, they, on a global basis, there's a lot of conversation about, you know, a living wage and what, what should that look like? And there's been a lot of research done and all the things that I've seen it come back with is pretty much the same basic number every year. A basic income, if you will, of about 75, 000 to 78, 000 is really that threshold of happiness. People don't get any happier beyond that. Right? In general, not, not for every individual, but in general, beyond that 000 a year U. S., that is the number that where people are happy. So then the question becomes, well, then why do people need to make millions, in some cases billions of dollars, is that really increasing their happiness? And, you know, it certainly increases conveniences without questions, without question, but are they truly happy? Or happy year, I should say. That's, that's a big question out there. Um, and so I think it's, it's hard to answer that question in a succinct way, but I think happiness is to some extent is in the eye of the beholder. Back to my earlier comment about, you know, everybody or Gen Z is, is defining optimism differently. I think we're starting to define happiness. Differently as well, perhaps as a, as a result of the pandemic where the entire globe, the entire planet went through the same thing. And we're realizing now, okay, people that were traveling 70, 80% of the time in, in a sales position, they realize now that, you know what? I wasn't very happy doing that. I want, I'm still willing to travel, but I'm going to travel 40 percent of the time. And I want to spend more time at home with my family, or I'm not going to work so many hours in the office. I want to be able to leave by 6 PM to get home and actually see my kids before they go to bed at night. Or I want the flexibility of working from home, either hybrid or fully remote so that I can take an hour off midday, pick up my kid from school or go see their ballet recital, or go watch a soccer game that they're playing in. Uh, and that really is what truly. drives my quote unquote happiness and my satisfaction with life. It's not about another title. It's not about more money. And we have this joke in recruiting that, you know, nobody on their deathbed says, Oh my God, I wish I had worked more. Nobody has that, you know, regret at the end of their career or end of their life, right? It's, I wish I had spent more time with my family. I wish I had focused more on my relationship with my kids or my spouse. Um, so that where I, that's where I think happiness, if you will, and optimism along with it, is definitely being redefined in today's world.

Rob Brown:

We hear a lot about mental health. mental well being, mental resilience. Is there evidence that if you are optimistic, you're more likely to safeguard your mental health?

Ken Schmitt:

Yeah. So I'll, I'll, I'll, um, condition this by saying that I've been married to a marriage and family therapist for 31 years. Um, so there's, there's some degree. Success there. And again, back to transparency and communication. It's very, very important, obviously in a marriage as well as in any other relationship as well. Um, but in terms of, in terms of, you know, kind of mental health in general and connected to optimism, you know, I don't, I don't know that it's, I don't know if it's directly correlated. I think again, it depends on how you define optimism. If you define optimism as I have, I have agency over my life. I have control. I can make a difference. I can make an impact in my life. Then yes, without question. That will invariably goes wrong. I can bounce back from that. Right, right, exactly. Yeah. You have that resilience, but also that perseverance to bounce back, but also push through, um, perseverance and resilience is really important. And so I think that mental health or that, that ability to, to, to connect the two is based on how you define, you know, both of them also. But I also think that, you know, one of that, one of the, the, the taboos or challenges with mental health is that. People were not comfortable in years past talking about it. And so not only are you struggling with mental health issues, but now you have to keep it hidden, which just exacerbates the problem and makes it much worse. If you are optimistic, if you're an optimist and you feel like, you know what, I, again, I have agency over my mental health. I want to, and I can do something about it. If I'm feeling depressed or down or whatever it might be, or the world events around me are really just, you know, taking its toll, you know, I can go see a therapist. I can talk to my HR leader and my Company and say, Hey, do we have an ERG uh, uh, plan? Do we have an employee, you know, resource group? That's what it's called in the US here, that where they provide mental health services. Where, you know, we have a, a, a a, uh, a benefit plan at my company that provides mental health services, not just medical, but also mental health. You know, so I think that transparency, that willingness to normalize mental health. You know, it definitely probably starts with optimists because they, you know, know they can have a difference and make a difference, but it's equally as important and impactful for pessimists as it is for optimists and being able to understand that and realize that you can make a difference. And you don't have to feel this depressed every single day. And it's not normal, quote, unquote, normal to feel that way. And there are folks out there that can help you with that. So that mental health. You know, again, awareness and transparency is, is controllable and optimists have, I think, a better willingness to, to look at that. I will also say the flip side and kind of the potential negative of being an optimist as it relates to mental health is that you are so focused on your, on, on, I have control over my life. I know I can, if I'm going to get to a certain point in my career, it's up to me, not anybody else. The negative side of that is that if you're too optimistic and you think, wow, I'm feeling really depressed, but I'm sure I can push through, but you know, one month, two months, three months goes by and you're still feeling that way and you're still trying to handle it all on your own and take it on your own shoulders, then that optimism can actually be a bit of a, you know, of a negative, if you will, and really it will, it will take away from the opportunity for you to rely on somebody else to help you out and to provide that support that you need to pull you out of that depression or anxiety, whatever it may be. Would

Rob Brown:

you recommend we turn off the news and come off social because there's so much doom and gloom there are so many people living better lives with you that are better looking, wearing better clothes, driving bigger cars. That's a grind.

Ken Schmitt:

It really is. It is. I mean, you've, you've hit the nail on the head. Am I actually, I've had a discussion with over the last couple of weeks with some friends of mine about, you know, just hypothesizing what would happen if all social media, just for whatever reason, shut off one day. And what will we all do? We would certainly all freak out initially. Chances are pretty good within a week or two, we would all adjust. And we would go back to having live conversations and what you know about your friend group and your peer group is what you see and hear physically around you versus comparing yourself to somebody in your age group halfway around the world and seeing them supposedly wake up in the morning and looking perfect, uh, and just so they can, you know, post on their social media account and feeling like, Oh my gosh, I never looked that good. I never sound that good. I'm not that funny, whatever it is. So yeah, I agree. I am not a big believer in, um, In social media. This is my personal opinion. I'm not on Facebook. Um, I am on, uh, I'm on LinkedIn, which is the professional social network out there, but it's not the same as Facebook at all. I am on Instagram, but I choose on my Instagram account to follow things that make me feel good. If I want to go get the news, I can get it from a gazillion different resources, but, and I want to stay informed, certainly. I'm But I don't want to be inundated day in and day out, actually minute after minute with so many posts around all the problems in the world, or these other people that look better or feel better. I want to see people dance. I want to see families with their kids together. I want to see, you know, great decorations and displays on people's houses for Christmas and the holidays. Um, I want to see, you know, military, video of military coming. home to their family, having not seen them because they were on deployment for six months. Those are the things that make you feel good. And literally that dopamine and that, you know, all the things that you know you need chemically in your system to make you feel good, that's all triggered by that. Whereas the opposite is triggered if you're watching. Another, you know, volcano eruption, or you're watching another political fight or, um, uh, somebody who's, who's, you know, putting out a menorah in Poland with a fire extinguisher, which just happened recently, as we all know, all these things you think it's just, it's just, it gets to you. Every one of those negative data points that affects your psyche. And that really has an impact on your optimism or your ability to feel optimistic. If it feels like everything around you is doom and gloom. So yes, if I had it my way. I would, I would say let's do away with social media and let's go back to the good old days of focusing on one on one conversations and relationships. Uh, and that's the most important thing in life.

Rob Brown:

Let's finish as a new year starts again. It's the beginning of our year now and people start with good intentions. New year's resolutions, a little bit of recalibration, but accounting types, they're risk averse by nature. They're not entrepreneurial. as entrepreneurs are, entrepreneurs are with their thinking. So baby steps, what two or three tips would you give our listeners to take some cautionary, uh, steps, if you like, into a more optimistic life?

Ken Schmitt:

Yeah, I think, I think one of the things, you know, whether it's, whether it's, you know, becoming more optimistic, whether it's dieting, whether it's, you know, career progression, a lot of people have those great goals in the beginning of the year. Cause it's a natural kind of clean break, right. When the year's starting out. Um, but. It's also very daunting to think like, I want to go from here to there. And the steps in between are so important. And if you don't reach that goal quickly, you think, Oh, this is too hard. Forget it. It's just too much. So to your, to your point, I'll use the same phrase. It's all about baby steps. You know, don't look at it as this huge, giant, daunting task of getting to a better place, but instead it's doing little things along the way. So it could be things as small as changing up what you're following on Instagram. As I mentioned a few minutes ago, bringing more positive feeds or more positive posts into your feed. That's one small thing. Rather than saying, I'm going to lose a hundred pounds. Maybe you say, I'm going to lose 10 pounds in the first month of the year. Let's start with that. If it is a, if it is a dieting kind of thing, or whether it's exercise, I'm, my goal is to go and run one hour a day, seven days a week. If you're going from, from no exercise to that, that's a, that's a very big task. Take little baby steps, go for a walk for 20 minutes. You know, five times a week, start with that. And then you can pick it up, start to jog a little bit. So take little baby steps that way. Also in terms of on the professional side, same kind of thing. You know, if you have a boss right now that is not optimistic and is not empowering and is not supporting you in what you want to do, and your ultimate goal is to become a boss, to become a leader, but you're earlier in your career. Take the small steps, try to provide your leader with feedback and insight as to why you want to give more ideas, why you feel like you can make a bigger impact in the organization than you already are. Give them some reasons, you know, baby steps, some reasons to allow for that. And if it's not working, then okay, my goal now is to change jobs. And maybe it's not going to be tomorrow, but I want to do the things that I need to do to change jobs. And along the way, those baby steps are learning new responsibilities, learning new tasks. Maybe you, maybe you decide to do something on the side and you take some classes at a university or a college on the side. It's very easy to take online courses these days and expand your, your knowledge base. That's a baby step. Maybe it's, you know, finding an internship or some kind of an apprenticeship someplace else in your free time or on the weekends that exposes you to other types of work environments. And again, it helps you expand your skill set. You know, maybe you say, you know what, I, my goal for next year is to go out, you know, and, and see my, my good friends, you know, every single week for dinner. That's a pretty big ask of yourself if you haven't done that at all. So instead say, you know what my goal for this next year, I want to have three to four dinners with my friends without kids, just adults having a conversation. Right. Um, and do that, you know, four times a year. So once every three months, and you'll find that you probably do more than that. But with that more realistic baby step goal, that's much more, um, doable, but also again, it triggers that excitement and the energy and the adrenaline and the, and the dopamine that you, that you want, because you've now accomplished, accomplished something. You've checked that box. Your brain says, I can do this. I set a goal and I met the goal. I'm very excited. So those little baby steps along the way are really important to getting to that big goal.

Rob Brown:

Schmidt for your inspiring lessons in practical optimism. We thank you.

Ken Schmitt:

Thank you so much. Appreciate being here.