In Art Of Coaching Podcast, Podcasts

What would managers and leaders learn if they had access to raw feedback from their team? What truths would be unearthed and what leadership styles would rise to the top?

As the “Undercover Millennial”, today’s guest Clint Pulver gives managers a peek behind the curtain in their own organization while gathering data and proposing solutions in order to close the gap between leaders and the lead.

Having experienced literally hundreds of working environments across every domain, Clint is uniquely qualified to help us understand the nuance between leadership and mentorship and discern the pros and cons of multiple managerial archetypes. 

We also discuss:

  • Why managers don’t get quality feedback
  • How to gain respect as a young professional 
  • What to do when empathy is used against you
  • Are all employees inherently selfish? 

Clint is a professional keynote speaker, author, musician, pilot, and workforce expert. Known as the leading authority on employee retention, Clint has transformed how corporations like Keller Williams, AT&T, and Hewlett Packard create lasting loyalty through his work and research as the Undercover Millennial. He has been featured by Business Q Magazine as a “Top 40 Under 40,” and, as a professional drummer, he has appeared in feature films and on America’s Got Talent. In 2020, Clint won an Emmy Award for his short film Be a Mr. Jensen, which tells the story of how a single moment in time—and one particular mentor— can change the course of a life.

Connect with Clint:

Check out his book: I Love It Here 

Via Instagram: @clintpulver

Via Twitter: @ClintPulver

Via his website:

While you’re here, check out our amazing sponsors:

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Brett Bartholomew  00:01

Hey, Art Of Coaching listeners. It’s Brett. Listen, whether you’re talking, coaching, mentoring, education or any form of helping others, no true leader would ever turn down an opportunity to become a better communicator, right? And surely they wouldn’t turn down opportunities to learn from failure. So why is it some only pay lip service to this, and instead hide behind their technical skills, topics that come easy to them or only engage with people that will give them feedback they want to hear, we set out to solve this problem with our apprenticeship communication workshops, they’re back on and they’re aimed at leaders from every profession who are ready for a new type of challenge. So if you crave diverse feedback, deeper conversations, and high transfer ability to any work environment, go to Again, One more time to see when a workshop is coming near you or if you want to host. 


Brett Bartholomew  01:14

Welcome to the Art Of Coaching podcast, a show aimed at getting to the core of what it takes to change attitudes, behaviors and outcomes in the weight room, boardroom classroom and everywhere in between. I’m your host, Brett Bartholomew, I’m a performance coach, keynote speaker and the author of the book Conscious Coaching. But most importantly, I’m a lifelong student interested in all aspects of human behavior and communication. I want to thank you for joining me and now let’s dive into today’s episode.


Brett Bartholomew  01:59

What if I told you that in 2019 alone, employee turnover costs US companies more than $630 billion? Now for some of you that might make sense you’ve thought about maybe leaving your job. For others that amount of money just doesn’t even seem real, it’s unfathomable. But it’s very real to today’s guest, Clint Pulver.  Known as the undercover millennial for reasons we’ll get into in the show, Clemson professional keynote speaker, author, musician, pilot, and workforce expert. He’s known as the leading authority on employee retention and has transformed how corporations like Keller Williams, AT&T and Hewlett Packard create lasting loyalty through his work and research. 

He’s been featured by BusinessQ Magazine as a top 40 under 40. And as a professional drummer, he even appeared in feature films and America’s Got Talent. In 2020, Clint won an Emmy Award for his short film, be a Mr. Jensen, which tells a story of how a single moment in time, and one particular mentor can change the course of a life. And in his book, I love it here, which is available now on Amazon, Audible, Barnes and Noble everywhere, Clint pulls back the curtain to reveal the research and unscripted truths of more than 10,000 employees that they’ve interviewed as the undercover millennial. And this really unveils the reasons of their lasting loyalty, something we all seek. Guys, I couldn’t be more honored to bring to you, Clint Pulver. 


Brett Bartholomew  03:35

Clint, it is so nice to have you sitting down with me, man. Thanks for joining the conversation.


Clint Pulver  03:40

I appreciate it, Brett. Thanks for having me on the show. 


Brett Bartholomew  03:41

Yeah, well, listen, we’re gonna dive in here. I always hate it when podcasts kind of beat around the bush for the first 10 minutes. And then at the end, they’re scrambling for all the good stuff. So I’m going to ask you some questions we’re gonna fire away and some good organic conversation what happened as a result. The biggest thing, and this is part selfish part, something I know comes from our audience a lot, is when we hear the terms of leadership, when we hear the terms management, a lot of times these things are either ambiguous, even if we know the classic definition, or empirical definitions, or they’ve just kind of been beaten to death, right? We were talking to somebody about this the other day, he’s like, when I hear leadership and management, I just kind of get turned off. Because it’s a lot of rah-rah, it’s a lot of the same stuff. This is something you specialize in now. What do you think of those two terms where they sit now? And how can we get people to understand their deeper complexity because none of us are as good at either as we think we are?


Clint Pulver  04:37

Yeah, it’s an interesting question, because there’s like a million different answers to how you would define a manager, how you would define a leader, you know. When we look at traditional leadership is, you know, you’re the visionary, you’re the person that sits at the front of the ship, you’re leading the direction, this is where we’re going, this is how we’re going to get from point A to point B, and you’re a leader of people follow you, right? We have that traditional definition. And the manager is the person that’s making sure there’s no holes on the ship and making sure that everything’s efficient. And for me and my background research really focuses on mentorship, because mentorship was not really something that somebody could just define, it was not something that something could be given to, to somebody. 


Clint Pulver  05:16

You can give a title of a leader to anybody, you’re the leader, you’re the director, you’re the supervisor, you’re the manager, you’re the CEO, you can give that position. But mentorship was an important factor because it had to be earned. And so I found that when it comes to the people, when people hated their jobs, or you know, and that’s my research, that’s my background. They talked about the manager, when they loved their job, they didn’t talk about the leader, they talked about a mentor. And that has to be earned. So you can’t define that. And I think that’s why I resonate with it so much. Because there are a million definitions of what a leader is or what leadership looks like, or how to be an effective leader, and mentorship. Man, you can’t earn that title until somebody gives that to you. You can’t become the mentor until somebody invites you into their heart, until you earn that. And it’s an interesting dynamic.


Brett Bartholomew  06:06

Yeah. And I liked that answer for many reasons, but one in particular, and it may you and I are getting to know each other during the course of this conversation earned. I feel like there and you can always disagree with me, this is not one of those things where it’s my show, we don’t edit any of it right. But I feel like there’s been this tremendous amount of entitlement on behalf of the lead, right, like you said to be a leader, people need to follow you. I always viewed that as a stakeholder, right? 

Follower is such an interesting term, but we got to go with it, because that’s what’s been used in a lot of literature and people get it. But you know, it’s funny how many books on management and leadership focus on the manager and the leader, and very few focus on the lead. Yet if it’s not earned, right, It’s always like, well, it’s a bad manager. It’s a bad leader. And I know, it’s a broad question. So take it wherever you’d like. What accountability do you think folks who are stakeholders, are the lead, really need to take more of with respect to this? Why can’t we just always blame the leaders in the managers beyond the obvious reasons?


Clint Pulver  07:11

I mean, there’s a win-win situation and all of this, it’s a relationship. It’s a relationship. Just to give a little bit of context, my background, I spent five years as the undercover millennial, I’ve worked with 181 organizations going undercover. It’s kind of like Undercover Boss without the makeup. And I’d go into an organization as someone who was looking for a job, I’m a millennial. So I was young enough to go in and just walk up to an employee and say, Hey, I’m just curious, what’s it like to work here? And I was in normal street clothes, and they would tell me everything. And we’ve been able to get this perspective, from the lead, right, from the people who are experiencing leadership every single day. And it created this unique approach that usually most people don’t talk about. Right? We talk about the leader and what the leader needs to do. And yes, I see, I think there’s power in that. But what does good leadership look and feel like to your people. And that’s what we’ve focused on, it was really interesting. 


Clint Pulver  08:08

If an employee was satisfied, or they were dissatisfied with a leader, it came down to two factors, two variables. The standards that that leader had, could be expectations, the authority that getting on time, showing up doing your job. They’re standards, you have standards as a leader. But the second piece was the connection part. I believe this wholeheartedly Brett, that every single person is asking this one question of their leader, or their manager, or their mom, or their dad, or your spouse, doesn’t matter. Everyone’s asking this question. Let me know when it gets to the part about me. Let me know when your agenda, your mission statement, let me know when your values, let me know when it considers me. And some people hear that and they go, well, those entitled little shining stars in my life, right? Like, let me know when it gets to the part about me. And it’s not about entitlement, it’s about good leadership, it’s about good business, It’s about bringing humanity back into our relationships. So those two variables, standards and connection. 


Clint Pulver  09:09

There were always four types of managers in every organization. Out of the 10,000 employees that we worked with the research that we found, if they were satisfied, dissatisfied, we could take it back to those two variables, and what kind of manager they had that was making them feel a certain way, that was making them want to choose or choose not to do certain things. So that the first manager that we found was the Removed Manager. This is the coach that they’re in the job, but they’re not into the job. They’re tired, they’re burnt out, they probably should have stopped coaching 20 years ago, they should have stopped managing 20 years ago. They’re just tired. So they’re low on standards, low on connection. What did this create in the workforce? Disengagement. Why should I show up on time, my manager could care less. Why should I perform harder, I mean, nobody values that here. So you create a disengaged workforce. 


Clint Pulver  10:02

The second manager that we found was the Buddy Manager. This is the manager that wanted to be really high on connection. They wanted to be liked more than they were respected. They wanted to be friends with everybody. This is the manager that would go and play Xbox on the weekends with all of the employees. And then Monday morning, when they needed to come in and talk about job performance or talk about the, you know, the new agenda, people are like, Dude, I saved you and Call of Duty on Friday, like, yeah, all of a sudden, now you’re calling the shots, it just doesn’t work. So that created entitlement. That’s where you find the employee almost became more of the boss than the boss did. Because they’re buddy. 


Clint Pulver  10:40

The third, actually most common is the controller, Controlling Manager. High on standards, low on connection. This is the old command and control style, put your head down, go to work, I’m not here to be your friend, do a job, do your job. I show you that I love you because I give you a paycheck. That created rebellion. Zero connection, no care about the consideration of the person that they have a life outside of work. And so, rebellion, toe-to-toe, this is the manager is constantly trying to go toe-to-toe with everybody. 


Clint Pulver  11:13

But the fourth, and this was the sweet spot and it’s what we call the Mentor Manager. They were equally high on their standards, as much as they were on their ability to connect. And what did this create? Respect. They weren’t always liked, but they were respected. Then there’s a reason Brett, why we call them the Mentor Manager because it had to be earned. It was a voluntary act when people, it was crazy. I’d walk into an organization and I’d say what’s it like to work here? I know you’ve been here for like 11 years, why? And the employer would fire back with I work here because of Suzy. I stay here because of Suzy, who is Suzy, right? And I go the next employee, you know, you’ve worked it for a while would you recommend it? Oh yeah, man. It’s amazing on my manager Suzy, she’s unbelievable. Why? And it was because they were this Mentor Manager.


Clint Pulver  12:13

Mentorship again, it has to be earned. But there’s certain qualities that invoke the reason for you to be that kind of person. Where somebody would voluntarily choose to listen to you, to connect with you. I guarantee, Brett in your life if there’s ever been a mentor that’s helped you or guided you, they’ve had, we call it five C’s. There’s five C’s of mentorship. I’m not really the biggest fan of like little acronyms, but the five C’s, it’s really what we could pinpoint down when somebody earned this role, when they became the mentor. And the five C’s first it was Confidence. They had confidence, it was a mindset, they were confident in themselves, they were also confident in their ability to get people to where they wanted them to go. I’m confident that I can help you. And they had that confidence and that exuded trust. The second C was Credibility. That manager had some sense of credibility, like if you’re the car dealership manager, sales manager, have you ever sold a car before? What’s your background? What’s your history? What is it that you’re leading me in? And have you had any sort of experience in this? 


Clint Pulver  13:20

The third C was Competence. Competence, you might know everything about the game of basketball, but can you actually get out and shoot a hoop? People wanted to mentor with a practitioner, not a theorist. So a lot of leaders, a lot of managers that are good at barking orders, they’re good at sitting back and saying I need you to do this, I need you to do that. But their competency level is not there. Competency mattered. The fourth C was Candor, great mentors had the ability to create relationships so strong that honesty could exist. 

I want to mentor with someone who’s going to shoot it straight. That’s going to tell me what I need to do. And they’re going to tell me if I’m lacking, if I’m struggling, but they’ve also made the deposits of trust, right. That’s why the connection piece is a part of this. They put it in the time, I think sometimes in leadership, we look at people like a fireplace. I know, it’s a little weird, but if it clicks for me. We look at people like at a fireplace, and it’s like, we look at them and say give me heat, then I’ll give you wood, right? Give me the results, give me the effort, give me the dedication. Then I’ll give you time, I’ll give you recognition, then we’ll talk about what you want. And I think when we flip that, that script, right, we connect that allows us to then make the withdrawals we can have those candid conversations. 


Clint Pulver  14:35

And then that leads us to the fifth C, and they had the ability to just care about people. To care, to honestly care the moment we stopped caring for the individual that we’re striving to mentor and connect with and lead. It’s the moment that we fail. Because everybody’s asking, let me know when it gets to the part about me. And you might be the guru, you might have credibility, confidence, all the things but if you don’t care about me as a person, that’s not true mentorship. And so those five C’s, Confidence, Credibility, Competence, Candor, and the ability to care. That’s what those powerful leaders had. That’s what people talked about when they stayed at an organization, when they thrived at an organization and they tied it back to a leader to a mentor, is because they had those five C’s.


Brett Bartholomew  15:24

Yeah, and I appreciate you getting tactical with that. I remember you going through those on when we did our research on you, we always research our guests. And I remember you hearing that talking about that on another episode. And within your book, you also talked about within this employee turnover, right? That’s cost US companies more than $630 billion, at least as of 2019. Right. And we look at that and it’s interesting, because it goes back to let me know when it gets to the part about me, a lot of times we see turnover, and we’re not going to talk about like COVID notwithstanding, right, because COVID, that’s a different. 


Brett Bartholomew  15:58

But a lot of times we see turnover because people feel like an organization isn’t serving them, or the environment is. And I found the perception of this pretty interesting, right? Because people tend to take, the lead or the stakeholders tend to take accountability off themselves. And I appreciate how you have different types of managers laid out. I mean, a little bit of bias there. In my book Conscious Coaching, we have 16 different archetypes that we talked about from the skeptic, the royal, the leader, and we know that we have to balance these things, they exist in everyday life, right. But with this turnover, it’s such a tricky thing, because almost every manager and leader will say, hey, Clint, I value communication, I value relationships. Yet the research we do shows that most organizations and individuals very rarely invest in true interpersonal skills, evaluations, they’ll do personality types, they’ll do rah-rah seminars. But when’s the last time with all your research, you’ve actually heard about a lot of these organizations, pouring funds into tactical communication strategies, as opposed to run of the mill HR motivational seminars.


Clint Pulver  17:05

Yeah, everybody’s looking for the quick hack. They’re looking for the quick hack on how to create connections, how to create a personality assessment that will kill time at the next training and really feel like we’re connecting with each other. I did my thesis in school was all about the Hartman color code. And we saw organizations that would use this, to connect, to try to understand people. And it created more misdiagnosis, and more issues and problems than it ever did good. What happened, it was part of onboarding, it was a part of orientation. 

So you’d come into the organization, first thing you did is you took a personality assessment. And so you’re supposed to take this test as if you were a five year old, right? Yeah. And I don’t even remember what I did for breakfast yesterday, yet, and I’m sitting there, and I’m trying to, you know, figure out what I would have chosen as a five year old. So first off, the results are skewed. And then everybody’s in this group environment, and they want to look good, and it’s the first day on the job. And then it prints out this color. And the color means that you are a certain person, right? And that you behave a certain way. 


Brett Bartholomew  18:15



Clint Pulver  18:16

Yeah. And we would watch these organizations, and they’d get together and they’re on the first day at the job, and people would walk up and instead of saying, Hey, what’s your name? Where are you from? You know, what’s your background? What made you want to work here? What department are you in? First thing people would ask is what color are you? 


Brett Bartholomew  18:32



Clint Pulver  18:34

Crazy dangerous. And also, like people like, I’m red. You’re the jerk? Yeah, you’re the authoritative person. Oh you’re yellow, you just want to screw off. You just want to eat or you’re lazy. You just want to have fun. And it created misdiagnosis. And we do that so often in organizations, we’re trying to get this quick hack fix. And there isn’t, there’s just isn’t. It takes time, it takes commitment, it takes the tactical strategies to go okay, how do we create meaningful conversation, meaningful connection that actually lasts that’s real? It’s not some assessment.


Brett Bartholomew  19:09

Yeah, you can’t have it because these things are dynamic and fluid. I mean, listen, we see this happen. We see this on the podcast, right? People, we see this with the names of organizations, Art Of Coaching, oh, you must work with athletes. NO, coaches only work with athletes, right? Like, we love surface level judgments, because these heuristics, right. And they helped us at certain points in time in our life, but not anymore. Here’s a question I’ve never heard anybody ask you and granted you’re on 8 million podcasts. So I haven’t listened to all of them. I did my research on you, but I’m not a creeper. Right? Good or effective leadership is going to look and feel a little bit different to everybody. I mean, cross culturally, we know that certain leaders on in the eastern part of the world is not always going to be effective on the western side. We know that we’ve had people that I mean, when I box competitively, I didn’t want to coach come in to hug me when I failed. I need to know what I want to do, what I need to do and get on with it. 


Brett Bartholomew  19:59

Here’s my question. In your research, and we’re going to talk about the origins of your research more. Within your research. What was a time you were surprised where maybe you went into an organization and you’re like, this place needs a lot of help. But then you found out there were some people that thrived on the opposite of what you thought was this classical view of good or effective leadership. Maybe they liked a Machiavellian environment. Maybe there was a little bit of ambiguity in their job, and it challenged them. Does the question make sense? I’ll make it more clear. If not, but was there anything that three, three a loop where you thought that this isn’t what I expected? And there’re some folks that really liked this almost kind of detached form of leadership?


Clint Pulver  20:39

Yes, and no, I mean, for me, in our research, what we were looking for was trends. You’re always gonna find people that are like, Yeah, I don’t want someone to connect with me, just let me do my job, don’t talk to me. I’m good. I’ll just put my head down, go to work. I don’t need you to call me. I don’t need you to tell me how wonderful I am. You’ll find tons of people like that. Yeah. And then you’ll find the people there, I need the feedback, I need the connection. But what we’re doing when we’re in organizations is we’re looking for overarching trends. Okay, when these are organizations that are having problems with retention, they’re having a mass exodus of people that are leaving, and they can’t figure out why. They keep reading the articles in Forbes, and they look at, you know, I saw that we got to do these types of things to keep the millennials. And we brought the ping pong tables, and we’re doing the beanbag chairs and free food and nobody’s staying. 


Clint Pulver  21:25

That’s when we come in. That’s when we come in and we look for the trends. Well, what’s going on? What are they talking about? What are they seeing, it’s always going to be individual, it’s always going to be different, you cannot do a one size fits all approach. There’s not, right. But there are trends in specific organizations, for example, I’d go into a fast food restaurant, was just thriving, it’s killing, every employee was satisfied. It was the same chain, same name. 

And I’d go six blocks down the road to the same restaurant, completely different culture, high turnover, everybody’s disengaged, people are unsatisfied. It’s toxic. And so it always just depends. It’s not this, I don’t know, it always bothers me when people can claim as a company, we have a wonderful company culture, as a company. And for me, I found it really came into divisions, departments, you know, managers and their teams. That’s where the power really was seen, felt, and then over time, could grow. But it’s a hard thing to put the one size fits all approach on to anything when everybody’s so different, right? We’re all individuals.


Brett Bartholomew  22:33

Yeah, now you keep using the term we and one thing our audience will appreciate, because it’s a very discerning audience. It spans firefighters, performance coaches, folks that are in various tactical communities and medical world. Talk to me about your organization, when you go in, when your team goes in, when we, when we’re connected, when you guys are doing the research, what does that team comprised of? How did you put them together? How did you find the right people that were in this mission? And how are you conducting some of this research?


Clint Pulver  23:01

Yeah, so we’re all young millennials, and some of us are Gen Z employees. So if I worked with like a beauty salon, or if I worked with like a hair and makeup organization, me going in as a guy, it just wouldn’t fit for me looking for a job. So we had to have some undercover millennials that were females to come in and to help us. And sometimes we worked with organizations where I could not do it by myself. And so we invoked other millennials that were passionate about what we were doing, to help us go undercover into these organizations. And so we’ve got a team. And then we’ve got our management team, we’ve got the team that works on the side with the clients to making sure that we figured out what’s going on, what we want, what certain divisions they want us to go into and go undercover for. So it’s a process that we’ve got our editing team. 

So I go in, we have hidden cameras, one’s a little pen, shoots in 10ATP that we have, another one’s a lapel camera if we need it. And then we have our editing team, the whole goal is not to figure out who needs to be fired the next day. That’s not what this is about. This is not also to figure out who needs to be promoted. 


Clint Pulver  24:10

The goal is to figure out the truth. How do we get real honest answers? And a lot of companies they do the surveys, right? I remember when I was in corporate America, let’s do a survey. Let’s just throw out a random survey and everybody fills out the survey. And let’s get the answers back and see what we need to do better. And I remember when I would get that I never answered honestly. Because I was always worried what’s on the other side of the survey. Yeah, you know, yep. Take this anonymous survey. No, thanks. Yeah, everybody’s wonderful. 

And we’ve created an environment where you’ve been able to capture that real authentic data. And then the video team comprises that. And some people, some organizations want the video. Some organizations don’t want the video. If it’s a small organization. We can’t do video, because people will figure out who’s saying what, and that’s not the goal. And so yeah, it’s a whole team operation to figure it out what do you want. There’s also subcontractors or people that work full time? Because sometimes we need larger amounts of people to help us do undercover work. And sometimes I can do it myself. So it just depends.


Brett Bartholomew  25:10

Yeah. And I appreciate that, especially because with the litany of leadership books that are out there, the litany of management books that are out there, so few, you know, it’s very easy to write a book that has inspirational stories, or that talks about Steve Jobs and this and that, but when you really do the research of it, and you talk about the messy realities, it makes it stand out. I think one thing in our audience, anybody that didn’t skip past the intro will hear is you have such a unique, diverse background of between being yeah, you’re a speaker, you’re an author, you were a musician, pilot. And now workforce expert. Now you also won, if I’m correct, an Emmy Award for a short film at one point in time, is that right before I go on with the question? 


Clint Pulver  25:51

That’s correct. 


Brett Bartholomew  25:52

So within those things, right, that in of itself gives you a unique perspective of what is effective management and leadership in different spaces. Which of those environments, and of course, you’re an amalgamation of all of them, Clint, but which one was extremely impactful in shaping your view of kind of like, there’s this gray area of management leadership that we need to figure out? And that’s where I want to spearhead my research? Which one of those industries Did you see a lot of that really take shape?


Clint Pulver  26:22

That’s a hard question to answer. Because I mean, for me, when I was young, like I never wanted to do this for a living. Like this is not like where I grew up as a kid saying, I want to go undercover and then be a professional speaker, and train organizations on how to create better workplaces. I didn’t grow up saying that. I wanted to be a pilot. And then I was diagnosed with an eye disease, I was gonna go blind by the age of 31, I was diagnosed with keratoconus that derailed that whole dream, I ended up going to college, I ended up going into the medical field that was miserable in the medical field. And out of just pure necessity and pain. I jumped into this world by happenstance. I was a part of a mastermind group in New York City. And we were meeting with other CEOs and executives. And one of the guys that we met with had a retail sporting goods chain in Manhattan, fairly successful. And we were sitting there, and we’re talking to him about his business and his strategies and what he’s done and what’s worked and what’s not worked. And then I asked him, I said, so what about your management style? What about like people? Have you felt the need to change there? And he fired back so quick. And he said, No, there’s no need to adapt with people.


Brett Bartholomew  27:34

Clint is hitting on some critical points here. And there’s a lot to be said about opening yourself up to feedback and strengthening your skills through situational constraints. So if you value improving yourself personally and professionally, make sure to visit For more on how you can elevate, how you live, learn and connect with others. That’s Alright, back to the show.


Clint Pulver  28:06

What about like people? Have you felt the need to change there? And he fired back so quick? And he said, No. There’s no need to adapt with people.


Brett Bartholomew  28:17

Yeah, that’s inherently and not to cut you off. I remember you doing this and the gentleman, you had a hell of an accent when you impersonated him in a previous show? Where we see that so you can get to know our audience in this conversation. Even better is we see that in sports performance all the time. There’s plenty of people that fetishize the training, what makes somebody run a faster 40 Jump hire do this, they’ll invest 10s of 1000s of dollars into these things, right? They can always find money to go learn more about mobility and this and strength training. But then when we say hey, you know, as we conduct our research, what do you think communication is important in coaching? Yeah, absolutely. Do you think it’s critical in this sports performance Organization? Yeah, absolutely. How do you evaluate yourself as a communicator? Crickets. Or they say, well, you know, I asked staff for this for feedback, and exactly like you’re saying, well, that’s bias. 


Brett Bartholomew  29:04

And then even scarier along the lines of the gentleman that you were talking about. One of them said, I go, how do you know you’ve done a good job communicating? Because you know, people think communication is verbal, nonverbal, they think that’s all there is. And they go, well, I know I did a good job if what I did, or what I asked for, that actually moves forward, right? Or there’s an undertaking of my request. I’m like, well, there’s a difference between commitment and compliance. Why do you think that people devalue, you know, becoming better communicators? Why does everybody think that just because they communicate all the time, that they’re great at managing or that they’re good with people? Where’s this false aside from Dunning Kruger? Where’s this coming from that people think they don’t need to adapt with human beings in real time, just their practice just their management or technical expertise?


Clint Pulver  29:49

I’ll tell you, it’s because most managers have no clue they’re doing poorly. They have no idea, there’s no incentive, Brett. For anybody to tell a manager how they really feel, or to tell a coach how they, there’s not a lot of incentive there. Because if you complain, right, or to have honest conversations, and I truly wish we could have more of them, it would make this problem go away. I really believe that. But there’s no incentive, you’re gonna get blacklisted, you’re gonna be caused or deemed as the dramatic one, you could get fired, you create contention for most employees, it’s just easy to keep quiet. You know, they sit down in the one on one management meeting and the boss is communicating, what can I do more for you? And most employees just say, no, it’s great, you’re doing awesome. It’s great, you know, maybe maybe a little more time off, or maybe give us a little more training, but what they’re thinking in their mind is you constantly micromanage everything I do. You’re the person that every time we win, you take the credit. Everytime we lose, you blame everybody else. And I’m thinking about going somewhere else. Most employees don’t tell their manager that, they just leave for four weeks later.


Brett Bartholomew  30:58

Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely interesting. You’re right. I mean, the incentive, sadly, should be self awareness and some form of self completion, right? If you’re able to do these things, and you find out that people in your organization don’t value it, that goes a long way towards, you know, avoiding burnout and being in a field that, you know, maybe isn’t the right fit for an organization, right. And it’s a lot better than just like being stationary. And that’s another thing I appreciated about your background, right? Born in 1987. If I’m correct, yeah? 


Brett Bartholomew  31:23

All right. And you’ve clearly bounced around a good bit, and you have to, write in my opinion. Now, again, I’m biased, I think that we live in a world and a time where change is constant, you’ve got to be able to build and move these skills. Now, this is a selfish question. But what I know a lot of our audience dealt with as well. As I started speaking more, you get a lot of looks when you’re younger professional, right, no matter what you’ve done or accomplished. And it’s this balance, right, Clint, because you want to be humble because we inherently know we’re not perfect. But you also feel like you shouldn’t have to apologize for your age and perspective that you’ve gained. How have you managed that when you go into these organizations, and you want them to be bought into what you’re doing and clearly you’re competent, right? But inevitably, you’re gonna have some people that are like, who the hell is this dude and his team? Are they coming from my job? What did they. Talk to me a little bit about how your age has worked for you and against you within the work you do?


Clint Pulver  31:23

You got it. 


Clint Pulver  32:19

I think we’re right out of the gate, we admit that I am young, I am a millennial. I am 33 years old. But my brand and my messaging is focused on that is the reason why I’m talking to you. It is because of my age, and the research that we have done because of my age, that allowed me to do this, that I can give you a perspective, that if you are older, you just don’t have, you’re not getting, right. Or it’s just it’s that uniqueness of it. And so I think it’s hard, especially in the corporate world, for a young speaker to take the stage, and start speaking to senior executives and CEOs and managers that are much older and have done this and it’s easy to look at, they look at, it’s still even at me and the gods, another millennial, you know, and they’re playing the stereotype of entitled, lazy, non committed, the kids that just want everything. 

And so it’s a constant battle. And so I think it’s right out of the gate. Listen, I’m young, I’ve just dedicated some time to something and I’m here to help. I’m here to serve you. And we create an environment based off of my age that I was able to capture a unique perspective that I think will help you succeed.


Brett Bartholomew  33:34

Straight forward, right? Often Race or lead with it. I found that, you know, early on some of the ways that I had to combat it, or that we were given grace as people thought sports performance is really cool. I’ll never forget one time I’m sitting here and guys question me one moment on my age and this and that, you know, we’re talking about some different psychological principles and not into it, right. He’s kind of sitting there like, yeah, you can tell he was kind of forced to come to this event, this workshop, all of a sudden, over my right shoulder, there’s Buffalo Bills and Patriots game playing. And he asked me a question about the game, and I gave him some answers. Now he wants to talk to me, you know, and it took the point of helping them understand that when I work with 40, or 50 athletes on the field, or screw it, even five to 10, that there might collectively be $350 million on that field. That’s Asset Management. Now I spoke his language, it was a unique entry into buy in. What is it? 

What’s another example that you went into because again, our audience faces this daily and I think your work speaks to it tremendously as unique, your unique position. Can you give another example you don’t have to use names or organizations where you are met with a form of gatekeeping and you had to find a lateral way to get that buy in, so they’d be more open to your organization? What’s another way other than just admitting your age, speaking to the understanding, yeah, this is what we do. What’s something else you’ve had to pivot to?


Clint Pulver  34:54

I think something that we’ve used as testimonials. Testimonials for sure. Other organizations, right? You increase your credibility and your competence when it’s not just you that showing that. When you have the street cred with other people, when you have the backing of other people, you know, you know this as a speaker, Brett, if we can get good testimonials of people that can back us up that come from a reputable source, that matters. We were talking about this with books before we even started. Yeah, those little things they help. 

And so when we would do this with an organization, and they saw the effectiveness of it, and we brought to light things that they had never even, it wasn’t even on the radar, things they didn’t know about, right, because most people, most leaders have no idea that they’re doing poorly. And there was value there. And we did it in a way that helped them to become more significant to become better for their people. And then they spread the word. You got to bring Clint, man what he’s doing,  it changed our organization for X, Y, and Z. So having other people establish credibility and competence in our brand and in our messaging helps a lot.


Brett Bartholomew  35:59

Yeah. I think that those are things that inherently again, we know whether people actually do it or not. I mean, it’s amazing how many coaches and leaders and in a wide variety of fields, I run across that feel guilty asking for that. We’re working with a coach right now that he does incredible work on the creative side, he found a powerful lateral skill. And he is terrified, terrified to ask for testimonials. And that really a lot of it boils down when we talk to him as he has trouble accepting compliments. And I go listen, this is about and it goes back to what you said earlier, Clint, in a weird way becomes about us. And I go, Listen, this isn’t you want to help other people. And you have a responsibility to market yourself ethically, of course, if you want to help those people, but it’s so hard.

 And with somebody like yourself that has this platform, both established and burgeoning, right continues to grow? Where do you find this middle ground between, hey, I’ve got to self promote, because I have some things here that I believe that can help. And also, I don’t want to be one of those guys. And of course guys being an inclusive term, regardless of how anybody identifies Right? Like, how do you find that balance at this point in time?


Clint Pulver  37:10

It’s hard. It’s really hard. Because as a professional speaker, you are the brand, you are the person, you are the product. So you have to market yourself, you have to. That’s what people book, that’s what people are, they’re reading your book, they’re listening to your keynote, it’s you. And so there is that fine line, and it is hard to balance for people. I go, gosh, look at Clint again. He’s on this other stage or Oh, yeah, Clint wrote a book yet. We all know, Clint, we know. But I think I tried to ask myself, Okay, why am I posting this? Okay, is this to just boost my own ego? Or am I providing some sort of value? Right. 

Again, we’re establishing credibility, we are the brand, but we’re also trying to give, we’re also trying to help and I can’t serve everybody, there’s going to be certain people that follow me. And they’re going to, I don’t know, I just have to always make sure that everything I’m doing, I’m doing it for the right reason. And I’m trying to add value, while also establishing credibility and competence. I have a business and that brand and who I am and my messaging is a part of that. But I think if I can tailor that with content. I mean, that’s the best I think we can do. I mean, what else do you do there?


Brett Bartholomew  38:20

Yeah, and I think people drastically overestimate some times, you know, they feel like, well, I don’t have a creative team, or I don’t have this and like you really don’t have to write like you can, you can put these things pretty basic, you know, quoting from your book, and I appreciated this part in particular. And these are your words, a manager’s ability to relate to and connect with their staff is as important to an employee’s engagement as that manager’s level of expectations and standards. Now this is falling apart where you talked about, of course, the importance of empathy. Now, empathy can be such a double edged sword, we can get too drawn into an individual organization’s problems. We all know about the good aspects of empathy. Talk to me about a time when maybe empathy got the best of you, and you needed to take a step back as somebody that wanted to help but was getting too drawn into a situation this can be personally or professionally.


Clint Pulver  39:10

Yeah. I coach a lot of speakers, a lot of speakers. And I believe, I’ve always believed this myself is there’s this mantra that I love, and it just simply said, stay sensitive. Stay sensitive. Everybody deserves a phone call. And some people don’t agree with that. And some people are too busy to even fathom that. I’m not


Brett Bartholomew  39:33

Why don’t they agree? What’s the reason you heard?


Clint Pulver  39:35

I think people are in different positions, right? Where if someone said everybody deserves a phone call, they would have no life. 


Brett Bartholomew  39:41

Sure. Yeah. 


Clint Pulver  39:42

You tell that to, you know, Gary Vaynerchuk or Simon Sinek. I mean, that’s a different world. I’m not in that world. Yeah, I’m not. And for me right now, everybody deserves a phone call. If people want to chat, if they need some help, if they need some guidance, everybody deserves a phone call. And I’ve had people you know, take advantage of that. I’ve had people that constantly ask for more, ask for more, ask for more, ask for more. And there comes a line where I believe that you have to earn it, you’ll be willing to earn people’s time, be willing to. 

And sometimes it’s that balance of, okay, I want to help you, I get where you’re at, because I remember when I was there, and I’m still being coached, right, great mentors are always being mentored. And I still to this day, have brilliant people that give me a phone call. People that I admire, and they’ve given me their time. But I’m always leery to take advantage of that. Unless I’m earning that, earning that trust. And that can be done through a lot of different ways. And I, yeah, I just, I had a guy just the other day, and he was like, Dude, we’ve been coaching, we’ve been doing calls, I’m charging him a thing. Like, this was just me trying to help him. And then he was like, Dude he’s like can you give me 600? bucks?


Brett Bartholomew  40:57

Interesting. Totally normal requests out of the blue.


Clint Pulver  41:00

Yeah. And I’m like, what? 600 bucks. He’s like, I’m low on rent and it’s 600 bucks. And I said, Whoa, it put me in such a weird situation. Here I am trying to give and help and connect and empathize. And I’m giving my time. And I know that there’s a million other things that I could be doing. And then, you know, the kid asked for 600 bucks. And I asked him, I said, so what about your financial situation, and he quit his job. And he’s trying to work in this world of professional speaking. And then we had to have this card conversation again, of standards of, okay, well, then we need to figure out the budget problem. 

Because you’re living in a place that you shouldn’t be living in, you’ve got a car that you shouldn’t be driving, you’ve got expenses that are way over your, you know, what you’re bringing in, like, we’ve got some other issues here that need to be talked about. And so I think again, it was just that’s a right off the cuff off the top of the head experience where it was trying to empathize. But the empathy went a little bit too far into this realm of where I created this relationship where, hey, just give me money, I need money. So sometimes we can give too much. And it creates this entitlement, right. And that was a good lesson for me.


Brett Bartholomew  42:14

I mean, that’s a great example, on our audience values, things that are off the top of the head, again, real people dealing with real stuff, they don’t want, you know, something scripted. And so, you know, I can relate to that before we go on to the next point, because that what you just said fits perfectly with another part of your book that I want to read off. But one aspect I can relate to is, so we run, you know, a mastermind group of our own, called the Coalition. And it was, you know, I was talking to an individual that, you know, is wanting to be a part of it, and we just get a feel for him. Like you said, a lot of people deserve a phone call, everybody. So we’re talking to him. 

And we found out real quickly, that it was more about them wanting a job, they wanted a job, they didn’t want to join. And it was tricky, because we had great rapport, we were having a great conversation, we had a good group of professionals from a wide variety of fields that would have loved to help. But then it took this left turn of like, well, I’m really applying for a job. And now it’s tricky, right? Because you respect this person, you’re talking to them. But the perception of what this call was about is absolutely changed. And you know, internally, well, if I say what I’m inevitably gonna get to say is like, Hey, we’re not really hiring for that role right now. That becomes somebody that well, I’m not, you know, then whatever, screw you this, that or could go really well. But you know, I kind of sat here and I thought, man, you know, it goes hand in hand with what you said with, we don’t always have an understanding of what’s in front of us, or even what lies within ourselves. 

This person had something in them that he was reaching out to try to get a job, I’m reaching out to try to help him bring him into our organization. And then it’s like until something or someone changes our perception. And then once that perception has changed again, your words and very well written, the way we view and internalize that information also changes. So my point with that being of I realized, man, I’m very open about our business and our practices. 

And when I asked him, I said, you know, what, where did this come from? Well, I’m not happy in my situation. And I heard you on your podcast, talk about how you’re growing. And so I thought, if you’re growing, and I’m not happy, there’s a good fit. And I was like, Oh, all right, I need to be a little bit more careful even about the words I choose and the framework, because you think you’re letting somebody in, you think you’re being relatable and helpful, but you could be given all false signals really interesting. Now, that always happens again, and again, obvious, but interesting,


Clint Pulver  44:27

Totally. Absolute, and the kid in that story, he hasn’t called me again. You know, I said, anytime you need anything, just call me let me know. I’m happy to help. I’m here to invest in you. And we had that tough conversation. And I haven’t gotten a phone call back. And I think that’s a part in this too that, you know, again, that’s where the standards come in, and the boundaries and you know. Empathy is important, but sometimes boundaries are also important. I think sometimes we were easy to be walked on or we don’t want to hurt somebody’s feelings or we, I don’t know, but sometimes again, for throwing out the boundaries, it’s a good thing.


Brett Bartholomew  45:04

There’s this distinguish, just like you do a great job with mentor and manager, right? These things don’t always mean what we think even though that’s a type of manager, but it has to be earned. I think people confuse service and servant, right? You want to provide a service. I’ve never really liked the term serve. And I’ve used it myself, right? My opinions change, imagine that. Right? But like, we get confused service or servant. You know, one other question that we had from you from our audience. And I love this question is one thing that is one of the most unrelatable things to me. 

And I know the individual asking this question is when you hear about folks that give advice, other businesses, other people, regardless of the field, and yet, they don’t admit the own problems and struggles they have with their organization, right? It’s like, well, I’m going to tell them, when you’ve been trying to grow everything, and you’ve continued to build this platform. What is one of the things that you feel like as I continue to grow my team, what do you still struggle with? What’s the thing that you still look at yourself as a leader? And you’re like, oh, boy, you know, this has been tough growing or dealing with this aspect of it? Where do you wish you had mentorship?


Clint Pulver  46:09

So in our, in our worlds, Brett, you will relate to this. We’re entrepreneurs, we work 80 hours a week, so we don’t have to work 40. We could literally turn it on and leave it on all day, we could work all night, there’s always something that could be done. So for me, I struggled turning it off. It’s hard to turn it off. And you know, one of my business partners is my wife. You know, that’s a hard bounce. And we could do a whole podcast on that.


Brett Bartholomew  46:36

 For sure. 


Clint Pulver  46:36

Because you know, we’re getting ready for bed. And I’m like, Hey, have we figured out this flight for tomorrow? Do we know what we’re doing? What’s that like? And she looks at me goes, Clint, we’re going to bed. Like, I don’t want to talk about work. Okay, let’s talk about our kids. Let’s focus on us. Let’s like, and it’s been a good reminder, and I still struggle with it. Because again, you can always be working. And it’s a good reminder for me. And again, we go back to boundaries, like what I talked about with that kid, right? Learning to say, No. Could I give the kid 600 bucks? Yeah. But  that doesn’t mean that it’s right, right. It? Could I keep working? Yeah. 

What do I do when I wake up in the morning? You know, do I lean over and grab my phone and start scrolling through my texts and looking at Facebook and looking at emails? Or do I turn over to the person next to me and say, Hey, good morning. How are you? What do you need today? Like, I know, it sounds somewhat trite. But I’ve said it. I’ve said I’ll say it again, marriages grand but divorces about a 100 grand. It’s true, though. And where do we put our time and our focus? And for me, I have to, I’m always striving to balance that. Having an organization with employees and if successful business, that’s a grand idea. But when employees leave constantly and consistently because of your lack of connection, your lack of leadership, your lack of whatever it is the 100 million problems that there could be, you’ve got to step back as a leader. 

How do you expect to connect? How do you expect to create an environment where people thrive when you’re so busy boiling the ocean? We deemed success with busyness and I always have to strive to remind myself that I’m still successful. I’m still providing even when I’m not working. I’m almost doing that better when I don’t and there’s the balance soul learning to turn it off.


Brett Bartholomew  48:36

Yeah, it’s critical I mean, especially within the part of your book that talks about values and also simplifying your schedule. Always a hot topic, are you a fan of morning routines? Are you a fan of this optimizing every aspect of your day when it comes to simplifying your schedule on I’m not going to give, I want the audience to check out your book so I’m not going to go through everything that you reference in there but give it give us your take on these kinds of things and what’s worked and then what’s also failed miserably for you right, what did you try to do that you’re like, not for me.


Clint Pulver  49:06

Yeah. So first off, I mean, trying to be somebody that I’m not, are you pick a lane like here’s the thing in entrepreneurship or in business, there’s a million different things that you could do. You can work on SEO, you can work on your website, you can work on your your marketing with your copy, you can work on your video work, you could work on your messaging, you can I mean there’s so much and it’s easy to have, you know, like we have a million social media accounts right you get your Twitter, you got your LinkedIn, you got your Facebook, your Instagram and when I tried to do all things right when you try to become the speaker that speaks to everybody about anything, you speak to nobody about nothing. Like you’re not, you’re not niche enough and so I’ve tried to just focus on the things that I do best. For me it’s been video, creating great video content. And when I’ve tried to go outside of that lane, you know to do a podcast for me, that’s it’s not my lane. It’s not my lane. 


Brett Bartholomew  49:59

You doing all right here. Listen, this has a reputation. And our podcast has a reputation of getting some folks out of their comfort zone and not because we try to be edgy and disrupt the disruption. But because we started it because we got tired of banal podcasts where people read off scripts, and you know, it was all that you’re holding your own here. So maybe you are underestimating yourself a little bit, but I appreciate what you’re saying.


Clint Pulver  50:21

Yeah. And it’s just and again, maybe I could, right.  But it comes back to again, okay, what can I say no to, so that I can say yes to other things. Yeah, that might play to my strengths a little bit more. So yes, you maybe could, but should you? That’s always just something I’m always kind of asking myself. As far as morning routines, no I don’t really have one.


Brett Bartholomew  50:45

You want us over right there. Thank God, if you’re gonna say you woke up at six, took a cold shower and ate a kimchi omelet, I would disconnect that line right now and not apologize.


Clint Pulver  50:54

No, sir. No, sir. My life is chaos, especially right now with the book launch. And we still plan. Okay. I will be honest there. I plan. Sure. I look at my calendar, I look at what I’ve got the next day. But my schedule dictates a lot of that. And I think there’s some power in having a routine of some sort or having some sort of a schedule, right. There can be value there. But for me, I don’t, I take what I’ve got, I prioritize that. What do I need to attack that day? And that’s where my focus is.


Brett Bartholomew  51:22

Yeah. I appreciate that. So you mentioned the book launch. Right? We always want to make sure that we save that, you know, nothing drives me nuts when people come on, and they just want to sell people something right out the gate, you’ve given great value all that, we want to support you the audience wants to support you talk to us about when this book launches, and why it’s going to be different than the hundreds of other leadership books they got there on their shelves right there.


Clint Pulver  51:46

Thanks, man. I appreciate you, Brett. I appreciate the show. This has been fun for me. It’s different, it’s unique. And I appreciate you letting me talk for a minute about when the book comes out. April 13, next Tuesday. And it’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I need to say that too. Some people can kick out books like it’s nothing. And that was not this experience for me. This has been almost five years in the making and a lot of blood, sweat and tears. I’m not a good writer. And I wanted the book to be written by me. 

And yes, I had an amazing editor and great developmental editors that helped me make a message into a message right. But I still wanted it to be me. I didn’t use a ghostwriter. I didn’t use, I wanted to be me. And so that took a lot of time, took a lot of effort. And we put our heart and soul into this and the perspective that we’ve created that I think it’s unique. Because this is not another leadership book written by a self proclaimed leadership expert. That’s not me. Now, yes, I’ve gained some expertise in what we’ve created. Right? 

We call ourself a workforce expert. But I’m not a leadership expert. All I did was create an environment where employees can speak their truth. This is a book that’s written by 10,000 employees, who knew when their leaders were getting it, right. I captured their stories. And we put it in a way that was principle based. And when people stayed at an organization, when people were happy when they were thriving, doesn’t mean it was always perfect. There were certain key elements that were always there. And again, there’s that gap. There’s that gap where most leaders have no idea what their people really, truly think. 

And so the goal was to shorten that gap if we could, in some way and allow leaders to get a perspective into the hearts and minds of their people. And it’s been a beautiful journey, and I’ll never do it again.


Brett Bartholomew  53:44

Yeah, well, that’s what I was gonna say, you know, I had written my book in 2017. And what was so annoying is, annoying and refreshing. Right? A year later, when you’re writing the second one, I go, do you have any clue what it took to write that one? Yeah.


Clint Pulver  54:01

People that are like, you should write a book. Those are not your friends.


Brett Bartholomew  54:05

Right. And the people that think that you’re a millionaire, because you’ve written a book. You’re like, Oh boy. You know, but yeah, I mean. And here’s one, I’m going to take it off your plate. The other question that we got always well meaning, but always kind of made me wonder is where can I get your book guys, you can get Clint’s book at the same damn place, you can get nearly every book, it’s on Audible, It’s on Barnes and Noble. 

Good news. Not only will it be in the show notes, and you can get a free chapter by clicking the link in the show notes at But you can just literally put his name into Google, Clint Pulver book, and that will come up. Clint, can you tell I’ve had to answer that in a lot of my own book. 


Brett Bartholomew  54:53

You killed it. 


Brett Bartholomew  54:55

Listen, man, I appreciate you coming on. I appreciate it being candid. I don’t think and I would guarantee Allen Stein probably did not say, hey, get ready this because this guy’s not going to stay on script. But you did an excellent job, man, we appreciate you talking about the messy realities of your life, your work, how you’re trying to help people and the organizations you work with. You get the last word.


Clint Pulver  55:18

It means a lot, Brett, thank you, thank you again, and thanks for everybody for listening. Thanks for checking it out and, and giving us a shot. You know, that’s the thing. You put this thing out into the world. You know this, Brett, when you write something and it’s nerve wracking, you’re literally putting yourself out there. And we tried our best and for me, it’s not about being the best in the world or being the most successful. I’m just trying to be the best for the world. I’m trying to make a difference for other people. And that’s my reality. That’s my authentic self. And we tried our best with this book and it’s been an honor to be on the show.


Brett Bartholomew  55:52

I’m glad you did it. Guys. Brett Bartholomew, Clint Pulver, Art Of Coaching podcast talk to you soon.

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