034: Louis Efron: I told my team to leave
Louis Efron Show Notes
Louis moved to Japan to head up HR and build a consistent global culture for the organizations he was working for. Louis focused on learning the Japanese language to help lead his team, but it’s what he learned about the culture that taught him the big lesson. Listen to Louis tell his story of learning about leadership behavior and what leading by example really means so you can move onward and upward faster.
Louis Efron was born in Santa Monica, CA, but has since lived and worked across the US and four continents.
His work experience ranges from Broadway theatre management and production and serving as VP of HR for a Fortune 300 medical device company. Currently Louis serves as the Head of Global Employee Engagement at Tesla Motors.
In addition, Louis is a contributing writer for Forbes and Huffington Post and the author of How to Find a Job, Career and Life You Love.
Louis hold a BA from California State University, Fullerton, as well as a BS and JD from Saratoga University School of Law.
He is an awarding winning Fortune 300 Human Resources Executive, thought leader, speaker, husband, father and the founder of the charity World Child Cancer USA.
He is currently working on his second book that will help organizations transform their employee engagement, culture and business success.
Louis currently resides in Livermore, California with wife and kids.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“My purpose in life is to inspire, enlighten and teach“ -Louis Efron Click to Tweet
“The foundation of purpose is the magic that makes great organizations.“ -Louis Efron Click to Tweet
“Being paid fair is one of the lowest factors for employee engagement.“ -Louis Efron Click to Tweet
“Everyone wants to go into an organization where you feel cared for.“ -Louis Efron Click to Tweet
“If you don’t have trust in any relationship…you can’t go any further.“ -Louis Efron Click to Tweet
“If you don’t trust your organization…you’re never going to have that magic.“ -Louis Efron Click to Tweet
“Employees need to feel you care about them across the board.” -Louis Efron Click to Tweet
“It’s about helping other people become successful, grow and get wins.“ -Louis Efron Click to Tweet
“Be the change you want to see in the world.“ -Ghandi by Louis Efron Click to Tweet
“Your actions…is ultimately what drives their behavior and actions.“ -Louis Efron Click to Tweet
“Be who you want the world around you to be.“ -Louis Efron Click to Tweet
“Be who you want your team to be.“ -Louis Efron Click to Tweet
“Be who you want your direct reports to be.“ -Louis Efron Click to Tweet
“Be yourself, be genuine, be authentic.“ -Louis Efron Click to Tweet
“The more you can be yourself in life the more success you’re going to have.“ -Louis Efron Click to Tweet
“You always want to hire people better than you.“ -Louis Efron Click to Tweet
“Relationship building has been the key to all the success.“ -Louis Efron Click to Tweet
“My best tool is shutting everything off and taking time to actually think.“ -Louis Efron Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Louis moved to Japan to head up HR and build a consistent global culture for the organizations he was working for. Louis focused on learning the Japanese language to help lead his team, but it’s what he learned about the culture that taught him the big lesson. Listen to Louis tell his story of learning about leadership behavior and what leading by example really means so you can get over the hump move onward and upward faster
Advice for others
Be yourself and be genuine and authentic. The more open you are with others, the more open they will be with you. Practice being yourself. People will appreciate you more and follow you.
Holding him back from being an even better leader
Time. Trying to work smarter and not harder is the key thing.
Best Leadership Advice Received
I want to be the biggest idiot on my team. Rephrased to: You want to hire people better than you.
Secret to Success
Best Resources in business or Life
My mind. Meaning there are tons of tools that can be distracting, sometimes I need to shut things down and take time to actually think.
Purpose Meets Execution: How Winning Organizations Accelerate Engagement and Drive Profits
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
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54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.Click to access edited transcript
Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligent practitioner, Jim Rembach.
Jim Rembach: Contributing to the annual $150 billion loss in training and development investments is downright demoralizing so raise your spirits in training ROI by increasing learning transfer with ResultPal, get over the hump now by going to resultpal.com/fast and getting a $750 performance package for free.
Okay, Fast Leader legion, I’m excited today because we have a glamour man from a glamour brand. Louis Efron was born in Santa Monica, California but has since lived and worked across the US and in four continents. His work experience ranges from Broadway theatre, management and production, and serving as a VP of HR for Fortune 300 medical device company. Currently, Louis serves as the head of Global Employee Engagement at Tesla Motors. In addition, Louis is a contributing writer for Forbes, Huffington Post, and an author of the book, How to find a Job, Career and Life you love.
Louis holds a BA from California State University, Fullerton as well as a BS and JD from Saratoga University School of Law. Louis is an award-winning human resource executive, thought leader, speaker, husband, father and the founder of the charity World Child Cancer USA. Louis Efron are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Louis Efron: Jim, I am ready, thank you for having me.
Jim Rembach: Hoh, hoh, I’m so excited. Now I’ve given our Fast Leader legion a little bit you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you better?
Louis Efron: Yeah. I love writing that was something I’ve always love. But I always say my purpose in life is to enlighten and inspire and teach. So, my goal in life is to shift the employer-employee engagement issue where majority of people around just don’t really like what they’re doing. They don’t like their jobs and not fully engaged, I just think there’s such power, a global power in our economy, in our community to helping people align with what their purposes in life where they’re great at, with their passion about and just the explosion of potential around that, it’s really where I’m really passionate about where I focused most of my energy.
Jim Rembach: For the past decade, I’ve kind of been studying in the whole area of employee engagement and retention because my whole customer experience in customer service side led me to the realization that until you have that piece, that foundational piece, it’s darn, darn near impossible to have the other. So, if the inside, doesn’t have the engagement, have that intrinsic drive and motivation, people need to be there and feel that they’re making a contribution and then therefore, guess what—Great! Customer experiences are just going to be a default really. But when you think about what you have focused on in regards to purpose, there are several studies that basically say that: Purpose, and it’s not just me and my individual purpose, but it’s the purpose of the organization that really is what drives the worker of today and for generations to come. What are your thoughts on that?
Louis Efron: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. When you understand what your purpose is in life, like why you exist, why you’re on this planet and you’re able to find an organization that aligns with that purpose—so, you jump out of bed each morning wanting to change the world, your align with an organization is changing the world along the same lines that you had passion around and what you believe your focus is, that is remarkable you can’t get better engagement. And as you said, there’s a lot of research showing the connection to mission on purpose is by far the most important thing, baseline foundation behind employee engagement. And as you mentioned, once you have a ingrain and play engagement it naturally transitions over to high customer engagement and it naturally transitions in the business results. So the foundation purpose is the magic that makes great organizations and makes the things we’re talking about today.
Jim Rembach: Absolutely. And the other thing that I been finding in the research that I’ve been following in the work that I’m doing is that, the component that really helps with that purpose piece is really around well-being. When you look at the traditional way that organizations go about measuring employee engagement, measuring employee satisfaction, there’s so many different words that you can label that with. They oftentimes go to—hey, how do you like your performance package or your compensation package? How do you like—do you have a best friend at work? And it doesn’t seem like those things really make as much difference as—you know what, I feel valued. I think you’ve given me the tools that I need to do my job. Have you seen the transformation for you being in charge of the employee engagement, those measures are carrying significantly greater impact than—hey do you like this, would you refer us?
Louis Efron: It’s funny, there are couple of things you’ve mentioned that’s really interesting. Number one, when you mentioned about money and compensation there’s a great book by Daniel Pink called, Drive, and if you read that book. There’s research in there that shows that compensation—as long as you’re being paid fair you’re not getting robbed. That means paid fair, that is the lowest factors for employee engagement that drives employee engagement but that connection and mission and purpose in adding value is actually key. You mentioned about having a best friend at work, funny you mentioned that because I did—I work with Gallup Q12 for many years as Stryker and for 11 years I was going around doing action planning sessions and addressing that particular question, because that’s one of the questions in their engagements survey. And everybody always challenged it but it was a very emotional question a really good question I think, because it also helps bring in that value and care.
Everybody wants to go into an organization you’ve so cared for, you’ve so valued and the workers, people that you’re working with, are more family, I’m not saying family like they become who we have dinner with, but family that look out for you and care if you’re sick or there’s personal things going in your life. So, I think one of the main things that I’m trying to drive now when I look at employee engagement the three key factors are, reestablishing trust, demonstrating care and practicing servant leadership. These are three tenets that I’ve written about before, I’ve been talking about at Tesla and other places, it’s really, really key. And if you don’t have trust for example in any relationship, whether it be a personal relationship or your business relationship, you can’t go any further. If you don’t trust the people you’re working with such as your organizations or leaders, you’re never going to have that magic that’s going to drive engagement.
And then moving into care, if people only feel that you care about products, that you’re trying to force out the door and the hours your working at work and you don’t care anything about their personal lives—if it’s the kids birthdays that you don’t care about, or people getting ill, whatever it is it, employees need to feel that you care about them across the board. And then in demonstrating practicing servant leadership, is essentially when you’re doing the job yourself you’re responsible for making that successful. And you’re leading other people, it’s about helping other people become successful and grow and get wins, that’s how you establish more trust and more care. If you do that, if you practice serving others and being a leader that serves your team as opposed to serving yourself, those three combinations together really create that magic that we’re talking about here where people still care, value and so they’re winning they’re successful, and then you get the strong engagement that you need to drive business results.
Jim Rembach: Yeah. With what we’re talking about here, obviously you and I are singing from the same choir from a passion perspective, we feel so strongly about this. For me, we focus on leadership quotes on the Fast Leader show and when I say leadership it doesn’t mean that it comes from a business perspective per se but it just leads us both as individuals as well as maybe our teams that we help with. I know with your background in theater and everything from the artistic perspective as well as the human component and condition and passion, is there a quote for you that has stands out that gives you some drive and energy?
Louis Efron: Yeah. I love quotes and I frequently quote a lot of great speakers, but one quote that I really love is a quote that most people knows from Gandhi, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” For me it’s leadership by example. When I talk to leaders and I talk about what’s really, really important it’s what your actions and the way people perceive you and what you do is ultimately what drives their behavior and their actions. And so, that quote sums up for me what great leadership is about—be who you want the world around you to be and be who you want your team to be and be who you want to direct your reports to be cause that’s how it works and it’s the essence of great leadership.
Jim Rembach: There’s so much depth of a lot of the quotes of Gandhi and that is one that you can use as a continual challenge of self, challenge of team, challenge of organization, it goes on and on and I think it will live through the rest of human history. With that and with the passion, with the background and many things that you’ve done and the different continents that you lived in, I know there’s had to be humps that you’ve had to get over in order to be able to move forward faster, is there a hump that you can share with us that you had to get over and how it affected you, can you tell us that story?
Louis Efron: Yeah, definitely. A couple of stories, the first time I move, I move to Japan one time that’s the first time, it’s about six year ago I move to Japan to head up an HR for Stryker when I was working over there and it’s a remarkable experience and a chance from HR perspective to move into a totally as foreign cultures you possibly get, from language to history to just people practices, and I was sent over there to help to form HR department and build a consistent culture across our company—a global culture. We really hadn’t touched Japan much, Japan was always a very, very, successful business for us and as we got bigger and the economy start changing we needed to get in there and make sure that we had that consistent global feel in the organizations as well.
So, I came in, you had to learn a little Japanese, about a year before my wife and I took some Japanese and brush up when we got there and then we took some there, so I was trying to understanding the culture studying as much as possible, so I got to my office in the first day, I was essentially—I was trying to catch up on things and learn the business, I was in my office to probably about 10:15 at night, had my door closed and when I was done I open my door and I looked out, my entire team was sitting in front of my office at their desk so I’m like, “What are you guys doing here? You guys can go home. What are doing?”
And I found out that intrinsic Japanese cultures, your employees don’t leave before your boss. And so I said, “Listen guys, if you’re done with your work you can leave. You can basically leave when you’re done and I’m fine with that.” So, I reiterated that a few times and still there was no difference in their behavior. I was trying to lessen my hours, and this is not so funny, I realized that the only way I’m going to get this changed of behavior is if I start leaving at 5:00 o’clock so they’ll feel empower to leave. So what I start doing is I literally start leaving the office at 5:00 o’clock doing the work I needed to at home and queuing up e-mails for the morning to sending them the nights they didn’t think I was working and then suddenly they felt I could leave. It took time evolve but what I learned from that is essentially that, as a leader people follow your lead. Especially in Japan, such a traditional environment around that, it’s so blatant and clear to me but it really drove home the message, again leadership by example. The behavior I’m putting what people see that I’m doing is how my team’s going to behave. And if I want to change that behavior I’ve got to change my behavior and that was a great example that demonstrate to me how the power of that. That was one story around it.
Jim Rembach: That’s a really good example. One of the things you referred to quite often is the servant leadership aspects of the work environment. For me, as I started seeing more and more of the generational changes and societal changes, I started talking also more about servant teamwork and that we have to have more collaborative environments and that also the folks that are the team players have to do really a little bit more of what those folks and in Japan were doing, and that is you give that respect to the leader and the rest of the team and step up. Oftentimes I see us going the opposite way and to say that, “Hey, it’s me, me, me and I don’t necessarily have to participate in that?” But when you look at the why we are wired and where we do find purpose and then get to that point of having satisfaction with our well-being is we have to be part of a group we’re made that way, that’s the way we’re hardwired.
Hopefully we can find a blend—is Hawaii got in the middle? Is that where we all need to be? [Laugh]
Louis Efron: I’m onboard. Give me a ticket, I’ll hide out there with you, right now? [Laugh]
Jim Rembach: Let’s go. Alright, when you start thinking about all of the experiences that you have had and even that story, if you are going to give our listeners a piece of what would it?
Louis Efron: Number one is, as a leader to be yourself. Be genuine. Be authentic. The one thing that shows a lack of care to employees, and people pick this up, humans are intuitive. I always talk about from coming [13:43 inaudible] when I talk of the subtext of life and in a play there’s the words and then below the words is the emotion and when you move by a piece of theatre or a piece of film or a piece of a TV program whatever it is, you’re not moved by the words you’re moved by emotions of the actress and connection to what’s happening and how it connects to you. So, as a leader if you’re not yourself and your trying to be someone else, and being someone else’s is too difficult to become perfectly honest it doesn’t make any sense it’s too hard and usually it doesn’t work, so the more you yourself and the more genuine you are, the more people are going to see that and the more they’re going to trust you and the more open you are with them, the more open they’re going to be with you.
I see far too many leaders out there trying to emulate other people, we all know we work for certain boss and that certainly just colors our leadership during those times when we’re working for those people because that’s how it is, again leadership by example. That I’d really encourage anybody listening in the leadership perspective is to really practice being yourself and it seems crazy, right? Practiced being yourself but it is a basic thing that a lot people dismiss. And if you’re not if you yourself and it’s not working, maybe you’re in the wrong environment, maybe you’re in the wrong role. But the more you could be yourself in life the more success you’re going to have. So, that’s one key piece of advice I would give is, be authentic, be a genuine leader and people will appreciate that and they will follow you more as a result of it.
Jim Rembach: When you’re talking and explaining that one of the thing that came to mind for me was in a current assessment that somebody invited me to take, so it was like, “Okay, I’ll give it a shot.” They talked about energy units, meaning that here’s how you think you need to behave in your role and here are your natural tendencies and if there is a wide gap between those you end up using more energy units. So, you have to emulate and be what you think you need to be even though that’s not you and after a while you just get wiped out. And it makes sense, so the question would be is if we can emulate long enough so that we actually do make some behavioral modifications and it becomes second nature you don’t use as many energy units, that’s yet another test I’m sure I had to pay for. [Laugher] But it makes sense what you just said and it connected for me, so thank you for sharing that.
If you start thinking about –you mentioned something about writing your next book, I know the work that you’re doing at Tesla Motors is giving you a whole lot of excitement especially with the way that you all are expanding and the recognition that you’re getting for having such a fantastic culture and I know for a fact that your work is contributing to that. But if you were to say that there’s one thing that’s giving you a ton of excitement right now what would it be?
Louis Efron: It’s watching—being environment, I’ve been very, very lucky in my life to have been blessed with my career. The environment where I saw a lot of people that are connected to their purpose in life and so have [16:40 inaudible]the mission and purpose of what they’re doing, certainly test is a great example of that. Pretty much every employee at the organization are connected to the larger mission and purpose of changing the world. Speaking about this, I got to meet a lot of other passionate people that are really in the right roles in life, that are making a difference and you just show the energy, we talked about the energy, there’s nothing more energetic and much more they’ll charge your batteries, and being around someone else who’s also has a fully charged battery, and that’s exciting. So, that’s the thing that really gets me out of bed in the morning, have a chance to interact with people like that in my life. The more I can do that the better I feel and the more positive I felt about my life.
Jim Rembach: Louis, 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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Alright here we go, it’s time for the rapid pace part of our show and it’s the—Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Louis, the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Louis Efron are you ready to hoedown?
Louis Efron: I am ready to hoedown, Jim.
Jim Rembach: Alright. So what do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Louis Efron: The bottom line is, Time. I mean there’s never enough time in a day and I think just trying to be more efficient and work smarter, harder, trying to balance your teams at work, balance your family, your wife, your friends, your personal interest—there’s so much and especially the more you do in life, the more—adding to your life, it’s amazing how that works. So, time is by far the key thing that if I had more of it or more actually—I can’t get more of it so the more efficiently I can get, how I use my time is probably the key thing I would say.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Louis Efron: The best leadership advice was is when I was back in High School, I was working at a video store and one of the manager said to me, “I want to be the biggest idiot on my team” and I rephrase that by saying the, “You want to hire people better than you” and that’s what he was trying to say. I think that’s the way how my career is, you want to always hire better than you. If you hire better than you, what happens is, when those people take over from you the organization gets better and they hire better than them and the organization can just get better. So, the success I’ve had in my life is because of great people around me. So I think it’s the one thing you ca do is hire best people they only not make you look great and that’s the way it works.
Jim Rembach: Sure does. What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Louis Efron: Relationship building by far. That’s something I think out of everything that I do in life, it’s one thing I’m best at, really connecting with people I enjoy it, it’s a natural thing for me, so relationship building has been the key to all the success and bring the right teams together for me and inspire people.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?
Louis Efron: This is going to sound like a crazy response, but my mind. What I’m saying by that is, there’s so many tools out there, and your iPhones, whatever you’re using all day—BlackBerry whatever it is, that are great tools but I find them incredibly distracting sometimes to thinking. We are in a constant treadmill and life is so busy and there’s so many things and with e-mails and tax and social media you can’t get a break, so that my best tool quite frankly is shedding everything off and taking time to think and use my mind, which we use to do prior to all this technology to make decisions. I make much when I have the time to really think and use my mind effectively to balanced out, I’m a big runner so I go out for runs it gives me time to think, then I get the best outcomes as a result of that better than using any technology around. It’s a weird response but for me that’s it.
Jim Rembach: What would be one book that you would recommend to our listeners?
Louis Efron: One of my favorite staple books is 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell. I think every leader should have it in their and their bookshelf. It’s is powerful, it makes sense, it’s simple and is the essence of good leadership in there.
Jim Rembach: Okay Fast Leader legion you can find links to that book as well as a bonus chapter to Louis’ book on the show notes page that you’ll find at fastleader.net/Louis Efron. Okay, Louis this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age 25 and you have been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you, but you know what, you can’t take everything you can only choose one, so what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
Louis Efron: This may sound like a shameless plug but I’m going to say it anyways, my book How to find a Job, Career and Life you Love, I wrote after—I’m 48 now and I wrote it based on my journey and watching the journeys of other peoples in their lives trying to find and where they need to be aligned in life. And in the book, I’ve written a lot of questions to ask. Had I had the experience I have now that I’ve written in this book back 25 years ago, to start asking the right questions I would’ve got to a point where I was happier and fulfilled and more successful a lot quicker because I find that majority of time in life people are on their deathbed when they start questioning, “Should I have done this? I wish I’ve done that” because you just get in the rat race and you try to make money and you’re trying to support your house and your family and things like that, but the earlier in life you can ask, and it’s never too late to change. The book is basically written so that as long as you start asking these questions you can always revert your path but the earlier in life you can start asking these questions the sooner you’ll get on the right path and the sooner you’ll have success, and the longer you have to work on your success the more successful you’ll be, which makes perfect sense. So that’s what I would say, if they’re having good questions, if I had the tools of those good questions back 25 years ago it would have made a world of difference to my life.
Jim Rembach: Louis it was an honor to spend time with you today can you please share with the Fast Leader listeners how they can connect with you?
Yeah, definitely. You can reach me on my site, it’s louisefron.com at Twitter@louis efron, my Facebook is Louis Efron The voice of Purpose, as you mentioned I write for Forbes, Huffington Post, I’ve got a lot of articles on there, Amazon.com is where you can get my book. I always love meeting new people so please LinkedIn with me I use LinkedIn intensely and I publish all my speaking engagements on my website and LinkedIn, so if you want to see me live somewhere, you can catch me there as well.
Louis Efron, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot!
Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.
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