JT McCormick didn’t have a great place to grow up. He was surrounded by poor role models and was given every reason to give up. Despite almost every odd stacked against him and nothing to bolster his success, he found a pathway out that very few explore. Now, his organization is known for delivering an exceptional customer experience and being a great place to work and JT shares his story to inspire others how to get there.
JT McCormick shouldn’t have succeeded. He was born the mixed-race son of a drug-dealing pimp father and an orphaned, single mother on welfare. He was raised in the slums of Dayton, Ohio, suffered incredible abuse and racism, and had multiple stints in the juvenile justice system. He barely graduated high school and has no college degree.
But succeed he did.
Starting by scrubbing toilets, JT hustled and worked his way into better opportunities, eventually finding incredible success in the banking and mortgage industry. He was on top of the world.
And then the mortgage industry fell apart. He lost his job, and literally all of his money. He had to borrow from his friends to make rent. He was nearly back to where he started: with nothing.
But this time, he had something that he did not have growing up in the slums of Dayton: the knowledge of what it takes to succeed. JT used this setback combined with what he learned as the springboard for him to reach even bigger heights.
He worked his way from being the lowest paid employee to the President of Headspring Software, which he helped grow to a multimillion-dollar, 100-plus person company that was repeatedly ranked as one of the best places to work in all of Texas.
Currently, JT is the President and CEO of Scribe Media, a publishing company that helps you write, publish and market your book. The company has worked with more than 1,000 authors and Entrepreneur Magazine recently ranked Scribe as having the Top Company Culture in America.
JT is the author of “I Got There: How I Overcame Racism, Poverty, and Abuse to Achieve the American Dream” where he talks of poverty, starting with his career cleaning toilets and eventually becoming the President of multiple companies.
He has mentored at-risk youth in the juvenile justice system, as well as youth in low economic communities. JT’s work has been featured on CNBC, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Inc, and many others. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Megan, and their four children, Ava, age 5, Jaxon, age 4, Elle age 2, and Jace, 5 months.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“It doesn’t matter where you fall on the economic ladder, you don’t know what you don’t know.” – Click to Tweet
“You don’t want people to be satisfied, you want people to be fulfilled.” – Click to Tweet
“Attention to detail is a basic thing that will help you be successful.” – Click to Tweet
“The frontline encounters, interactions, and lessons that we provide for each other in the workplace are the things that will help us become a great company.” – Click to Tweet
“The things that you do over and over are the things that help you grow as a company and as a person.” – Click to Tweet
“You can’t change the past, but you can change how you view the story. Choose to take the positives from the harsh lessons that you went through.” – Click to Tweet
“It’s up to you as an individual to change your mindset.” – Click to Tweet
“It’s never one thing. It’s consistency. It’s day in, day out.” – Click to Tweet
“How you treat people is how they will also treat people externally.” – Click to Tweet
“People. Process. Profits. You find great people, you can build great process, you can make great profits.” – Click to Tweet
“Don’t let someone else define for you what success looks like.” – Click to Tweet
“It’s not work-life balance. It’s just life.” – Click to Tweet
“It’s not about failing. You can make mistakes, but the key is to learn, grow, and not repeat those mistakes.” – Click to Tweet
“You only fail if you stop trying.” – Click to Tweet
“Capitalism is not a bad thing. You can do more with money to give back to others than you can being broke.” – Click to Tweet
“What did you do for others to help improve their lives, to teach, to share, to help grow?” – Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
JT McCormick didn’t have a great place to grow up. He was surrounded by poor role models and was given every reason to give up. Despite almost every odd stacked against him and nothing to bolster his success, he found a pathway out that very few explore. Now, his organization is known for delivering an exceptional customer experience and being a great place to work and JT shares his story to inspire others how to get there.
Advice for others
Surround yourself with people far smarter than yourself.
Holding him back from being an even better leader
Best Leadership Advice
Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” Never be the smartest person in the room.
Secret to Success
I’ll ask questions, and I’m not embarrassed about it.
Best tools in business or life
Surrounding myself with great people that are far smarter than myself.
Contacting JT McCormick
Show TranscriptClick to access edited transcript
Jim Rembach (00:00):
Okay. Fast leader Legion today. I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who’s really gonna bring some emphasis to the human centric leadership that we talk about on the fast leader show. JT McCormick shouldn’t have succeeded. He was born in a mixed race and son of a drug dealing pimp, father and an orphan single mother on welfare. He was raised in the slums of Dayton, Ohio, suffered incredible abuse and racism and had multiple stents in the juvenile justice system. He barely graduated high school and has no college degree but succeeded. He did starting by scrubbing toilets, JT hustled and worked his way into better opportunities. Eventually finding incredible success in the banking and mortgage industry. He was on top of the world and then the mortgage mortgage industry fell apart. He lost his job and literally all of his money he had to borrow from his friends to make rent.
Jim Rembach (00:53):
He was nearly back to where he started with nothing but this time he had something that he didn’t have growing up in the slums of Dayton and that was the knowledge of what it takes to succeed. JT used his setback combined with what he learned as the springboard for him to reach even bigger Heights. He worked his way from beginning or from being the lowest paid employee to the president of Headspring software, which he helped grow to a multimillion dollar a hundred plus person company that was repeatedly ranked as one of the best places to work in all of Texas. Currently JT is the president and CEO of scribe media, a publishing company that helps you write, publish, and market your book. The company has worked with more than 1000 authors and entrepreneur magazine recently ranked scribe as having the top company culture in America. J T is the author of I Got There: How to Overcome Racism, Poverty, and Abuse to Achieve the American Dream where he talks of poverty starting from his career, cleaning toilets, and eventually becoming the president of multiple companies.
Jim Rembach (02:01):
He has mentioned or he has mentored at risk youth in the juvenile justice system as well as youth and low economic communities. J T J T’s work has been featured on CNBC, entrepreneurial entrepreneur, Forbes, inc and many others. He lives in Austin, Texas. With his wife, Megan, and their four children, Ava Jackson, Ellie, Jace, and he’s here to help us get over the home. My man, Jim, how are you sir? I’m doing fantastic. Now I’ve given my Legion a little bit about you, but tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better.
JT McCormick (02:40):
Wow. My current passion, man, I, I, my wife, my life comes down to, I call it my pillars, five pillars in life,
JT McCormick (02:48):
JT McCormick (02:49):
health, family, business and investing. So if it doesn’t fall within those five pillars, I don’t do it. I love golf. I love to go out and play it and play around a golf. But it takes about four and a half hours to play around a golf. I much rather have that time to spend with my children. So until I can put all my children in golf lessons, I, we’re, we’re not playing golf right now. So I strict my, my passion are those five pillars and that, and that’s what I, I stick to. I love football, but unless Tom Brady’s going to send me part of this $20 million contract, I really don’t care. So I focused on my pillars and if it falls outside of those, I don’t do it.
Jim Rembach (03:30):
You know, I, I think thank you for sharing that. Uh, you know, and talking about those five pillars and the focus and the execution is something you talk about in the book. And for me, I, I have to say that having the book and getting an opportunity to really understand some of the things that you’ve experienced in life and how we have talked about how that gets incorporated into the culture of your business is vitally important. But you start the book talking about mentoring, you know, young men, 15, 17 years old and talking about this speech that you gave in this juvenile correctional facility. And, and for me, I think it’s really important for us to talk about how that parlays into what we find in the workplace today, as well as how it impacts the customer in the customer experience. So if you could give us a little bit of insight into that and how you feel that that’s translated into your business.
JT McCormick (04:24):
Yeah. W as far as the, the mentoring and the speech, how that transfer, you know, [inaudible] I, I said this to a group of CEOs one time, there are about 250 CEOs in a room and I started off my keynote speech and I said, okay, how many people in the room know how to perform brain surgery? Any neuro surgeons in the room? Of course nobody raises their hand. I said, how many people in the room can launch and build a rocket? Any aerospace engineers? No one raises their hand. And I then I followed it up with, see, we don’t know what we don’t know. Unfortunately, the communities of where I come from, there was a lot that we didn’t know. You know there’s, how am I supposed to know that I can be a barista when there’s no Starbucks in the communities where, where I’m from?
JT McCormick (05:12):
How am I supposed to know what organic food is when there’s no whole foods in the communities in which I come from? So what my point being is even when people are entering into the workplace for the first time, there’s many things that you don’t know. And we take for granted that people are supposed to know these things. So when I mentor the high risk youth and I go in the first thing I said, okay, today we’re going to work on shaking hands. 60% of these kids, they put their fist up and they want to give you a fist pound. They don’t even know how to shake hands. And the ones that do, they give you the lip shake you, they look down at the ground. But [inaudible] it’s a travesty in a shared, this is a factual statistic. 40% of all high school students, regardless of where you fall on the economic ladder, 40% of all graduating high school students will never go to college yet.
JT McCormick (06:06):
And still we send you out into society with the expectation that you’re going to be a productive member of society and we don’t even teach you how to shake hands. So [inaudible] such as, excuse my language, such an ass backwards thing that we’re still teaching you what Columbus day is when we know damn sure he didn’t discover America, but we don’t even teach you what attention to detail is. We don’t teach you high interest loans. We don’t teach you to how to to shake a hand. We don’t show you a certified financial planner that you can go become one without ever needing to go to college. So you know, D doesn’t matter where you fall on the economic ladder, you don’t know what you don’t know.
Jim Rembach (06:49):
I love that you bring that up because it’s funny that when we start talking about customer experience, we start talking about customer service service and, and even when you start talking about, you know, some of those kids that do go on to college, a lot of them don’t even make it, they drop out. Right? So we had this large percentage of folks that we are expecting to deliver a Ritz Carlton experience who don’t even know what the heck a Ritz Carlton is.
JT McCormick (07:13):
Exactly, exactly. You know, and I’m going to pause there if you don’t mind Jim, you brought up customer service, customer experience. Here’s what I, what I think is just mind blowing to me. We have all heard this. We strive for customer satisfaction. I think JD powers even calls our customers satisfaction survey. I find the term customer satisfaction to be deplorable. Who the hell wants to be satisfactory? I if someone says, how would ask my wife, Hey, how’s GT as a husband, I don’t want her to say he satisfactory. If someone sits into my kids, Hey, how’s your dad? Oh he’s the satisfactory dad. No. So I, I find the whole term of customer satisfaction to just be asked to mine. It should be customer fulfillment. You know, how, how fulfilled are, are your customers, how fulfilled are the, we call them a tribe. Others would say employees or team members. I don’t ever want you to be satisfied. I want you to be fulfilled in your career once you did enjoy the work that you do. I want our customers, our authors to be fulfilled in working with us. So customer satisfaction is just a ridiculous way to look at that. That’s what we’re striving for. Satisfactory. That’s, that just doesn’t make sense to me.
Jim Rembach (08:33):
Well [inaudible] okay. So when you start talking about that not making sense, what also doesn’t make sense is that we can continue to try to improve the performance and lead people who are actually delivering that experience. So there’s a lot of people in, in our society who are, are, have grown up, you know, with some of the unfortunate circumstances that you grew up with. Right? You know, half siblings, um, you know, uh, illegal things flying around left and right. Um, but luckily you found an uncle Bobby who was a mentor to you. All of us need a mentor and somebody to help do what you’re talking about, guide us. And more and more people who are in that leader role, especially frontline leaders, have to really start focusing in on improving their skills and abilities to lead those people. And knowing that we’re going to have to do some pretty basic things like teaching people how to shake hands.
JT McCormick (09:27):
Right? Right. [inaudible] you know, we do master classes here at the company with, with scribe. We’ll do masterclasses on how to write an effective email, how to communicate or the phone. And those are very important skillsets because many people have not been taught those things. I, I’m incredibly fortunate that I’m surrounded by people. So, so our company, we’ve got 50 people now. I am the only person in the company that doesn’t have a college degree and 75% of our tribe members have master’s degrees, have some type of, you know, additional education that we’ve got people who have gone to Harvard and so on and so forth. And I’ve asked the, each one of them, where did you learn attention to detail? None of them learned it in college. So it’s one of those things that it’s such a basic thing that will help you be successful that we don’t teach. So you nailed it. Those frontline encounters in interactions, in lessons that we can provide for each other in the workplace. That’s what helps you be a great company. And it’s never, I say this to people all the time, it’s never one thing. It’s a series of things that you have to do over and over and be repetitive, consistent. It just, it sounds mundane, but those are the things that help you grow as a company and as a person.
Jim Rembach (10:53):
Well, and as well as you know, as you know, thinking about this and going through the book and learning about your life experience and also how that connects with what we’ve been talking about is we have to build the ability for people to deliver the Topal tough love. Like your uncle Bobby, right? Um, so the, the having the uncle Bobby’s in our world, having the people who could not pity us, you know, but help guide us as vitally important. So how are you bringing that into scribe?
JT McCormick (11:22):
You know, for me, one, I take my past, I don’t, I made a decision a long time ago that I wasn’t going to be a victim of my past. You know, my dad was a pimp and had 23 children and, and yes, I was sexually abused in sexually molested by one of my dad’s prostitutes. But I made the decision not to be a victim. I can’t change the past, but I can change how I viewed the story. And what I mean by that is I choose to take the positives from those harsh lessons that I went through through the chaos that I went through. One of my favorite, this lesson has served me so great throughout my career and I do bring this into our culture and our company. When I was a kid, I was eight years old, Jim, as eight years old, my dad had me one weekend.
JT McCormick (12:10):
Yeah, we’re walking through the grocery store and I’m a in. A little girl walks past me. She goes to school with me and she says, hi Javan my real name’s Giovan. I didn’t say anything. I put my head down and I was shy. My dad smacked me in the back of the head. I fall to the ground, my nose starts bleeding. He snatches me up and then he’s got me pinned up against the frozen food door and he’s like two inches from my face and he says, I don’t care who it is. You say hello and show respect and be kind to everyone. Jim to this day I say hello, show respect and I am kind to everyone and that was such a valuable lesson and where I take it a step further is I’m actually more kind two service industry individuals, housekeeping at a hotel. The person that’s taking your ticket at the movie theater, because rarely do people even take the time to say hello to those individuals. The the restroom attended at the airport. I’ll say thank you. Restroom looks nice. Thank you. I appreciate it. You know, I’m my stir to those individuals than I am any founder of a company, any CEO, that those people have enough, uh, individuals kissing up to them. But we’ll just overlook housekeeping and not say hello. And sometimes you can make a person stay with a simple hello and a thank you.
Jim Rembach (13:35):
You know what you say that I think that’s also a character reveal. Uh, I’m, you know, there’s a couple of people who I’ve had some business dealings with that are in the customer experience industry who dared to tell me stories where they didn’t do that and we’re quite proud of it. And I’m like, you know what? We’re not a right fit. You know, I had to exit, you know, and, and sometimes I didn’t do it fast enough to be honest with you. Um, but talking about knowing where I stand in my five pillar, you know, your five pillars and things like that, for me as I’ve gotten older, it’s knowing that Hey, there are certain things that I need to take a stand for and you know what? I need to be okay of the consequences as a result of that. And you know, making sure that everybody is treated in that way and that I’m not the one, I’m not saying I’m perfect, have I, you know, done wrong. Absolutely. I mean, is it intended intended? Absolutely not. But I think it’s an important character reveal. And that’s something that we can also look for when we’re bringing, you know, try, you know, tribe members in.
JT McCormick (14:31):
Yeah. So, you know, here’s, here’s one Jim. This one always, I laugh about this. I don’t understand it. All of us in business have probably gone to a lunch or dinner that cost $150 $250. Hell, some of us have spent $500 on a lunch or dinner, a business dinner and, but we’ll, we’ll just stay with two 50 now. What? No watches gym. We’ll spend $250 on a business lunch. We leave a 20% tip. That’s 50 bucks. We’re paying 50 bucks to the person who took our order. And if you’re at a place that costs $250 for lunch, I promise you the person who took your order is probably not the person who brought your food out. It’s usually a different person. They’ll come out and put it all on the table and then the person that took your order will come in and say, how is everything?
JT McCormick (15:15):
How’s it look? So we’ll leave $50 Tim, for that person that took her order. But here’s what’s amazing to me. We won’t leave $3 $5 for housekeeping at a hotel that, that these individuals cleaned the toilets that we sit on. God knows what takes place in some of those beds. We don’t even leave $3 $5 to housekeeping who are making 10 12 maybe $15 at best. And if we took the time, believe $3 $5 tip, that $5 tip may take an individual’s child out for ice cream. You know, gas right now here in Texas is about $2 a gallon. That five bucks may get put two gallons in the tank to get that person to work the next day. And they cleaned the toilets that we sit on, but we’ll be 50 bucks for a person that took our order at a restaurant. I do not understand that.
Jim Rembach (16:11):
Okay. So I think hopefully you just changed the societal norm because many of us probably don’t even think about that. Um, and I do also know that there are certain things from a cultural perspective, you know, where you don’t tip it all right if you go to, if you travel globally. Um, and so some things that in our society we do and other places they don’t. However, I think one of the things that’s critically important is for us to become more aware. I think that’s really kind of the message that I get from you is that we need to be more aware of our impact and our effect and how that can affect, you know, impact other people’s lives. So thank you for sharing that. [inaudible]
JT McCormick (16:48):
packed our fact it, you know, I, I really, I really appreciate that term you just said, uh, aware. You know, we, we as a culture, we as a society, what we’re humans for one, so, so we tend to be selfish because we’re humans. It happens. But when things go wrong or you’re having a tough day or traffic’s bad, we tend to be frustrated where we’re, we’re upset, more angry. And I say this to people all the time. It’s up to you as an individual to change your mindset. And I, I’ve been on this big kick lately, I call it the one mile radius. If you’re frustrated, you’re angry, you’re pissed off, whatever it is, go stand outside your office, go stand outside your house. And within a one mile radius, there’s somebody that will trade places with you in a heartbeat. And so I, I look at that as well.
JT McCormick (17:38):
It’s up to us as individuals to keep things in perspective regardless, regardless of where you fall politically. I don’t care if you’re Democrat, I don’t care if you’re Republican. Put that to the side. The of the matter is there’s a single mom right now with two kids walking 1100 miles from Honduras to try to get into this country and create an opportunity. Well, my worst day of being sexually molested or my worst day of going hungry, I have never had to face that, so I keep it in perspective that I say to myself, okay, there’s someone trying to get into this country to create an opportunity. Dammit, I was born here. I’ve got a head start, so I keep things in perspective.
Jim Rembach (18:19):
I think that’s a great point. I mean for those that have actually been no birth here or are here now, we have opportunities that others just never have. When you talk about four pathways for people who are less fortunate and how they see their way to be able to get out. Okay. You took the fourth
JT McCormick (18:35):
I took the fourth. No one told me about it. I, I stumbled upon it. But yes, where I’m from, there were three avenues. Rapper, athlete or drug dealer. No one told me about business entrepreneurship. I mean, Jim, if someone would have said entrepreneur to me at age 15 I literally would have thought you were speaking a foreign language and no one told us or, or tells the, the those communities of where I come from about that fourth option. And Jim, let me, let me say this as well. This is very important to me. So we, we, like you said, I’m mixed race. My father’s black, my mother’s white. But when I see low economic communities, unfortunately most people hear that and they think black community, they think Latino community, people tend to forget there’s West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi that are full of low income, white communities, broke, does not discriminate.
JT McCormick (19:34):
Poor is not racist. So you know, you don’t know what you don’t know regardless of what color you may be or what race you may be. So unfortunately from those communities of which I come from, no one knows of these other options. No one knows that they can be a pharmaceutical rep. I got, what is that? No, people have no clue. So I’m big on it. If I could, the sweeping change I would make within our educational system is I would add a class your freshman year and it would be called show and tell and not like for my, my six year old where she brings her favorite toy. She shows you, she tells you about it. Know your freshman year. Show me how to shake hands. Tell me why it’s important. Show me a financial advisor. Tell me how I can become one. Show me attention to detail.
JT McCormick (20:25):
Tell me why it’s important. So on and so forth. And especially for inner city kids or low economic kids because there’s so many things we just don’t know. You and I were talking before we came on. How am I supposed to know that I can be a barista when I don’t even know what the hell you know, there’s a Starbucks in the community. How am I supposed to know what organic food is when there’s no whole in the community? So you know, how am I supposed to know I can be a bank teller when the only thing in my community is a damn payday loan place. So it’s you don’t know what you don’t know. And unfortunately, like I said, in those lower economic communities, there just a lot of things that we did, we don’t know.
Jim Rembach (21:05):
Yeah. And you know, as you’re talking, I’m starting to even think about going back to the whole, you know, five star experience. I mean, there’s a lot of people and there’s very few people who’ve had that experience. I mean across all different types of economic spectrums. Of course, the lower ones, but there’s middle ones who’ve never done that either. And we’re expecting them to do that. So therefore, when I even think about scribe, you know, winning and being recognized as the best place to work, how does that happen and how do you maintain it and sustain it?
JT McCormick (21:36):
Yeah. Again, it’s never one thing. It’s consistency. It’s the way we approach everything. So I’ll give you a few. You heard me talk about customer satisfaction so that, that’s one right off the bat. We never want people to be satisfied. We want you to be fulfilled. We want to go that extra mile. What’s that look like? A lot of the things that we talk about internally. A great example, no one works for me. People work with me. I’m no one’s boss. I’m no more important to the organization than everyone else within the culture. Here’s another big thing. You hear this in corporate America a lot. They say they want to attract and retain the best talent. I don’t want to retain anyone that sounds like we’re, we’re going back to the slavery days where I’m going to retain you. So the way I look at this is we want to offer and provide, we want to offer you a great career, a great place to work, and we want to provide you a career that if you so choose, you can retire from scribe, you can grow your career here, you can learn.
JT McCormick (22:40):
So all of these little pieces make a difference in how you were approach the, the, the culture. And like I said, a a big one. Here’s, here’s another big one. Uh, I refuse to say human capital. That’s just, that’s just horrible. Sounds like we’re, uh, you know, trafficking people and we are very conscious of how we approach it. We don’t train people. We teach coach and mentor, you know, you train your body, you train horses, you train a dog. But we teach coach and mentor. So it’s, it’s a holistic way of how we approach our, our culture, how we do business, how we interact with individuals. But it’s never one thing. I get so many people said, well, J T give me one thing that you guys do. It’s not one thing. It’s, it’s consistency. It’s day in, day out. It’s being willing to call out each other on a culture principle or violation of one of those principles and values. And then number one, uh, of, of all of it is we always put people first.
Jim Rembach (23:43):
Okay. So as I’m sitting here and, and unfortunately we still have this continued argument where people say, I don’t understand where it translates directly into revenues. I don’t understand where it translates directly into profitability. I mean, it’s an intangible. And for me, I call hogwash on that. But for you, for somebody who’s sitting in the top seat, what have you seen that translate into from a organizational health, wealth and prosperity perspective?
JT McCormick (24:10):
So for first and foremost, how you treat, treat people in my opinion, is how they will also treat people externally. So if we treat our tribe members well, then they’re going to treat our authors, our customers well, in addition to how they’re being treated. If you treat someone horribly, that’s going to reflect externally too to your customers. Someone’s going to have a a bad day because you’re treating the bat and it’s going to reflect on a phone call and interaction, whatever the case may be. So I truly believe in, in putting people first, I operate in a very simple, uh, cause there’s not a lot of academic gifts going on up here. So I keep it very simple. I call it the three PS. People process profits. You find great people, you can build great process, you can make great profits. So many companies put those out of order. I’ve had people challenge me and they’ll say, Oh JT, you know, processes first. My argument is you can have a flawless process. You put bad people in it, they will wreck your process. Give me great people. We can build great process. It will equal great profits that I keep it that simple. I don’t make business complicated.
Jim Rembach (25:32):
Well I think that’s an important point. Be honest with you. Um, I think it’s, we can’t, we have a tendency to overcomplicate.
JT McCormick (25:38):
Totally, totally. And, and we have a tendency as humans, individuals, especially in our society now, we want to automate everything we want to. Everything’s got a process. We have totally left out the people relationship factor in this. Most people, the default is to send an email, send a text, no, the default for us pick up the phone. And if you can, let’s do it in person. There’s nothing that’s ever going to beat an in person conversation. There’s nothing that’s going to be a phone conversation. But we default to, to email it and, and it’s, it’s interesting, we help people write their books, but I’ll argue with anyone when you receive an email words on a screen or words on the screen, there’s no inflection point. There’s no, there’s no care. There’s no dialogue. I can’t have a conversation with you. If I see your words on the screen, I can’t respond in, share my thoughts with you, then I’ve got to respond to an email, then I got to wait for you. Whereas I could have put all of that to bed on a three to five minute phone call and built a relationship as well.
Jim Rembach (26:53):
Yeah. I’m glad that you say that. You know, talk, cause you and I have talked about this as far as the, the, the maturation and the people who are now on the workforce and how they’re being, you know, um, uh, influenced to do certain things that society tells them to do. You know, like I talked about my kids and you’re almost so my daughter wants to send me a text on something like, Oh no, I’m not texting you about and we’re having a conversation. It’s like, no, no, I can just text it. You don’t understand. I’m not having that conversation.
JT McCormick (27:23):
It’s, uh, it’s interesting as well. I especially, so our average age here at scribe, there’s 50 of us. Our average ages is 35 and we’ve got a huge amount of people who are still in their twenties and one of the very important things that I say to to our tribe is, do not let Facebook and Instagram define success for you. So many people are looking at what someone else is achieved or what someone else has taken a picture of and posted versus sit back, what are your own five pillars? What? What are you committed to? Don’t let someone else define for you what success looks like. It may not be making six figures, it may not be millions of dollars in a big house and in cars and things of that nature. You may have a different different definition of success, but you’ve got to figure out what that is and don’t let social media dictate or define what success is.
JT McCormick (28:26):
And more importantly, here’s a hot topic, Jim. You know this one, the whole work life balance thing. I call complete. I beat me out if you need to, I call complete bullshit on it. You know, we all have to work. We all have to make a living and it’s not work life balance. It’s just life. You know, we’re, we’re all going to go to work. The key is, and what I find so, so offensive about this gym here, get this, you see I get worked up about it, is whenever you hear someone say work life balance, immediately it goes to work. Don’t work. You know the, the four day work week don’t work 60 70 hours a week. Don’t pick up your phone first thing in the morning. Work, work, work. No one ever says anything about the life balance. How about you not binge-watch Friday through Sunday and not get anything accomplished and have the audacity to wake up on Monday and complain because you don’t like your job. How about you don’t stand in line 24 hours for the new iPhone that has two new things than the phone you already have. And here’s what’s crazy to me. When’s the last time you’ve ever heard someone come up and say to you, Oh my God, Jim, man, I’ve been studied my 401k and financial future the whole weekend. No one. But they’ll tell you they binge watch game of Thrones all weekend. So yeah, it’s accountability is such a big part of what we preach within our organization. It’s actually one of our values is accountability.
Jim Rembach (29:53):
No, I love that you shared that because I mean it’s true. It’s like, Hey, okay, what have you spent the last three hours doing? Snapchatting your face and sending off messages.
JT McCormick (30:00):
Take it, taking a picture of your food in a, here’s, here’s the thing that kills me. People will take a picture of their food and you and I both know this. No one ever gets it right on the first picture. So you take two or three pictures, then you got to upload it, put it wherever you’re going. Instagram, tick, tock, Facebook, wherever you want, you’re, you’re putting it. And here’s what’s crazy. Then you put it, you’ve posted it, you set your phone down, and every three to five minutes thereafter you’re picking up your phone to see, Oh, how many likes did I get? How many hearts? How many comments? And at the end of the day, what’s it matter? What did you get from it? And that’s how I approached life. What does this do for me? How does this get me closer to my goals? How does this make me a better area, a better husband, a better CEO? And if it doesn’t, I don’t do it.
Jim Rembach (30:50):
Well, and you know, to me this goes back full circle. This is the core of what we need to start doing from a leader perspective is having these conversations, setting these expectations and getting people to do something that’s going to impact their ability to help others. I mean, it’s not the binge watching thing and all that. So I mean, for me, when I start thinking about all this and you’ve talked about the passion and you know, inspiration and, and focus and all that, one of the things that we look at on the show are quotes. Now let’s do that. Um, so is there a quote or two that you like that you can share?
JT McCormick (31:20):
Oh man, quote. You know, I don’t, I don’t generally have quotes, Jim, I, I have things that [inaudible] that I live by. They’re usually more of a story. And so I’ll give you, give you a great example. I just despise the term fail fast, man. Given my background where I come from, Jim, I’ve spent my whole life trying to learn faster. I don’t want to fail fast, you know, and one of the greatest things that I ever read in my early twenties, I read the book thinking we’re rich and the rich specific stories in there, I’m going to paraphrase them, that stood out for me. So they’re not quotes, but these were very impactful stories. The first one they said that, uh, Thomas said, listen to 10,000 times, uh, to, to figure out how to discover electricity, the light pole. And it talks about did he fell 10,000 times or did he find 10,000 ways that didn’t work.
JT McCormick (32:19):
That phrase alone changed my whole mindset because I started to figure out that, Oh, it’s not about failing. You can make mistakes, but the key is to learn, grow, and not repeat those mistakes. So for me, I believe you only fail if you stop. If you stop trying to learn and grow, then yes, you fail. And, and I’ll be fair here. I’ve got a lot of failed relationships because, you know, we broke up. We’re not together anymore. Okay, great. But you know, I made a lot of mistakes as a first time president of a software company, but you only fell if you stopped trying. So I made those mistakes. I learn I grew and I made sure that I didn’t repeat those, those mistakes. So that, that was a big wow for me. I just refuse to say fail fast or you know, failure in gypsy.
JT McCormick (33:09):
Get me fired up, Jim. So here’s the other thing that that goes with, with mistakes that we as a society that, that I call bullshit on. We’ll tell our children, we’ll tell our tribe members, you know, Oh, you learn the most from your mistakes. Well, here’s the damnedest thing. Go to LinkedIn, go to any blog posts. No one’s sharing their mistakes. You can go find it and it’ll say, Oh, top five things Jeff Bezos does to be successful. Top 10 things Steve jobs did to be successful. Okay, that’s great. Where’s the top 10 mistakes that they made? Because if we truly learned the most from our mistakes, then why the hell is no one sharing mistakes. So from, from my position in leadership as a CEO, I share mistakes that I’ve made throughout my 25 plus year career. And I do my best to to show others that, Hey, here’s what I did wrong, here’s what I said wrong, here’s what I should have done. So on and so forth.
Jim Rembach (34:05):
Well, I am just so for us, we do share those on this, on this fast leader show, and we talk about getting over the hump, you know, because that does happen. We, you know, if we, if we share those mistakes, hopefully someone will learn by it and not repeat it, right? That’s history is supposed to do for us. It’s not making everything look like it’s just total bliss and have Rose colored glasses. It’s the reality. So is there a time where you’ve gotten over the hump that you can share?
JT McCormick (34:28):
You know what? When I was a first time president of a software company, that was when it first hit me that you need to trust and depend on people to be successful. Up until that point, I have most of my career was spent in sales in a very individual, what I call an individual sport. You just had to worry about you just kinda like golf, you know, it’s just you out there. Whereas in business you have to depend and trust on a group of people. And so the big hump for me, the eye-opener was, and this actually goes into the second story I was saying with thinking we’re rich when they said paraphrasing Henry Ford was on trial because they said he wasn’t fit to run a company that big because he only had an eighth grade education. They said, it’s Henry Ford, you’re not fit to run, run this company.
JT McCormick (35:23):
And they were asking him question and question and question, and he said, look, I assure you for every question that I don’t know the answer to, I am surrounded by a group of people that have the answers that I can some in and go find the answer. So to me in leadership, I looked back and remembered that lesson. Then I figured out really fast, Oh, I don’t need to be the smartest person in the room. My role as CEO or president is surround the company with people far smarter than myself. Rule number one, rule number two, surround myself with people far smarter than myself. And then rule number three, repeat rules, wanting to, that’s, that’s all I got. [inaudible]
Jim Rembach (36:03):
well, I mean arguably, which, what you just said right there, there’s a lot of people who are sitting in all of the hall of fames of all kinds of different, you know, sports, uh, as well as business who have done and learn how to do exactly that. There was actually a story that came out that talked about the people who were the Nobel laureates, the one who once who actually got rec or received recognition, you know, for their expertise. They weren’t the smartest ones that were actually in their discipline. But what this, what they learned to do is what you just said.
JT McCormick (36:31):
Yes. [inaudible] and matter of fact, Oh Jim, this is great. So matter of fact, one of my favorite people in business was George Westinghouse. Many people don’t know who that is. So Thomas Edison discovered direct current George Westinghouse discovered alternating current. And so these guys went back and forth. But I’ll fast forward. Thomas Edison had a group of people that work under him with him. And for every pattern that they went and received, he made them put the patent in his name. George Westinghouse had a group of people that work with them. And every time one of those individuals discovered something, something, he let them put the patent in their name. So he was people first. He’s also accredited with the, uh, the founder of the modern day weekend because back when Westinghouse was around, he was also in a time period of your, your Vanderbilt’s, your Carnegie’s and those gentlemen worked 364 days a year. Westinghouse was the first person who said, you know what, I’m giving Sundays off and I’m giving half days on Saturday. And it was unheard of. But he was all about putting people first and he realized, if I surround myself with people far smarter than myself, I take care of those individuals. I serve and support those individuals. That’s how you become great. And I’ll be dead. When he passed away, 50,000 people went to his funeral in the all pitched in to create this bronze statue of him. No one did that for Thomas Henderson.
Jim Rembach (38:14):
That’s a great point. And again, another one of those wisdoms that you shared that I appreciate. Okay, so talking about your journey, and first of all, I want to stop and take a special note. I don’t always do this, but you know, if you have not, um, learned about JTS McCormick story, you definitely need to pick up the book. I Got There. Um, and I’m going to mention that again and again. Um, okay. So JT, when I start thinking about the mentoring that you’re doing, your five pillars working at, you know, do what you’re doing with your, your tribe, um, at scribe, you know, growing the business, all of those things. I know you have goals. So if you could share one of those that are, that’s important.
JT McCormick (38:52):
You know, if, if I passed away right now, I, I’ve always said to two people, the one word that I would want to describe me is fair that I always took the time to listen to someone else’s point of view, that I always took the time to try to understand it from someone else’s angle. I was always fair. And so the, the, the legacy that I would want to leave is, was I fair and did I do everything I possibly could to support the growth of others? Did I give back? Yes. I want to be the the absolute greatest husband that I can be, the greatest father that I can be. But I also want to be able to, for people to say, I gave back, I did for others. You know, I, I learned what that fourth option was and I didn’t keep it to myself.
JT McCormick (39:43):
I went back and I shared the, the, the fourth option and I said, Hey, you know, this, this capitalism thing that our country seems to demonize right now. Hey, you figure out this, this is one of the greatest things in the world. Capitalism took me out of my circumstances. Capitalism has provided me a phenomenal life. And capitalism is not a bad thing. You can, you can be conscious in capitalism. You can do good with capitalism. And in fact, it’s funny, capitalism built wealth. It builds money. But you know what? I can do more with money to give back to communities, to teach others, then I can be broke. And you know, I’ve heard so many people say money is the root of all evil. I have never met a person that was rich, go Rob a liquor store. But I know a lot of broke people that have Rob some things. So it’s, money’s not the root of all evil, not having money. It creates a lot of evil. And so for me, the legacy that I would want to leave as much like George Westinghouse is what did you do for others to help improve their lives, to teach, to share, to help grow that. That’s what I would most want to be remembered for.
Jim Rembach (40:56):
And the fast leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on, let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.
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Jim Rembach (41:22):
four slash better. Alright, here we go. Fast leader Legion. It’s time for the Oh, okay. JT. The hump, the whole a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So I’m gonna ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust, get rapid responses dot. Going to help us with onward and upward faster. JT McCormack, are you ready to hold down? Oh man, let’s do it. Alright. So what is holding you back from being an even better leader today? Myself. And what is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
JT McCormick (41:54):
Best leadership advice I’ve ever seen. Don’t be afraid to say, I don’t know. Never be the smartest person in the room.
Jim Rembach (42:03):
What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
JT McCormick (42:07):
That I’ll, I’ll ask questions and I’m not embarrassed about it.
Jim Rembach (42:11):
What is one of the tools that you use that helps you lean in business and life?
JT McCormick (42:16):
It helps me lead in business, uh, surrounding myself with great people that are far smarter than myself.
Jim Rembach (42:21):
And what would be one book that you’d recommend to our Legion? And it could be from any genre. Of course we’re going to put a link to. I Got There as well as Think and Grow Rich on your [inaudible] page as well.
JT McCormick (42:31):
Think and Grow Rich is definitely one and I would say from a leadership perspective, if someone’s interested in it, American Icon by Allen McCauley, I, I may be butchering his last name but the book is called American icon and it’s about element Kelly and how he helped turn around for
Jim Rembach (42:48):
okay, fast literally and you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fast leader.net/jt McCormick. Okay. JT is not last time they hold on question. Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age 25 and you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you, but you can’t take it all. You can only take one. So what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
JT McCormick (43:08):
I would take back humility and I would take back the the, the reason why I would take that back is to realize that given where I came from, I grew up in chaos and it was all about me. I had to get out, I had to survive. But at 25 knowing what I know now is surround yourself with people far smarter than yourself. Surround the company with people far smarter than yourself. Ask those questions that will take you so much further in life than trying to attempt to do everything yourself because you can’t.
Jim Rembach (43:40):
JT, I had fun with you today. Can you please share the fast leader Legion, how they can connect with you?
JT McCormick (43:44):
Wow. Best way to connect with me is through LinkedIn. In fact, every Tuesday I share some of my mistakes or advice that I have on LinkedIn. So that’s the best way to to find me. Or you can go to scribe media.com and find me there.
Jim Rembach (44:00):
JT McCormick. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. The fast leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump.
Jim Rembach is the Editor in Chief of the Customer Service Weekly and it’s Podcast host. He is President of CX Global Media and the creator of the Call Center Coach Virtual Leaders Academy. As the host of the Fast Leader Show Podcast, he has interviewed hundreds of experts, authors, academics, researchers, and practitioners on various angles, viewpoints, and perspectives for improving the customer experience. He has held positions in retail operations, contact centers, customer support, customer success, sales, and measured the customer experience. He is a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner, Employee Retention Specialist, and recipient of numerous industry awards.