In Art Of Coaching Podcast, Podcasts

We’re bringing you something a little different for today’s bonus episode. Recently I was a guest on my friend Scott Livingston’s podcast “Leave Your Mark” and our conversation was so good that I wanted to make sure you had a chance to listen to it here; a “multicast” if you will. 

Alongside Scott (a regular on our show, see episodes 58 & 128) and his good friend Dom Gauthier (a business leader, coach, broadcaster and former Olympic moguls skier), we discuss everything from how to better define and speak about communication (including a deep dive into the research behind it), strategies for tailoring communication to a team as opposed to an individual and how coaching differs in different cultural contexts… or does it?

As a reminder, Scott has been working in the field of athletic performance for twenty-five years. He is renowned for his dedication to building a more efficient, effective, and resilient athlete using his ability to assess movement dysfunction and deliver corrective exercise, while merging such strategies with effective and specific performance training. He has trained and reconditioned athletes at every level including professional athletes, Olympic athletes, and college athletes, as well as highly motivated recreational athletes.  

Connect with Scott: 

Via Instagram: @kingopain

Via Twitter: @builtbyscott

Via his website: Reconditioning HQ

Via his podcast: Leave Your Mark

Alright, onto some serious business… We’re currently deep into accepting applications for our November Coalition group. The roster is filling up so if you’ve been contemplating our group mentorship program or just want to learn more about it, head here to learn more!

Also, don’t forget to show our guys at SAGA fitness some love. Their wireless BRF cuffs have completely changed the way I train and recover. With all of the travel we’ve been doing lately, their flexibility and size make them an essential in my suitcase. If you enter code BRETT20 at checkout, you’ll get 20% OFF!


Brett Bartholomew  00:02

This episode is brought to you by Saga Fitness, the creators of the world’s first wireless BFR cuffs. Now, if you don’t know what BFR means, or you don’t know what these cuffs are, BFR is just short for Blood Flow Restriction. And it’s also known as occlusion training. And it’s an effective technique that has tons of research behind it, that can help increase muscle size, strength, improve aerobic capacity, accelerate recovery, all in a shorter amount of time. 

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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. 

All right, we have something unique for you today. And I’m not quite sure of the broadcasting term for this. So to give you context, a while back, I was on a podcast with my friend Scott Livingston, he’s the owner and creator of the Leave Your Mark podcasts, and make sure to check that out. 

And also his friend and my newfound friend, Dom Gauthier who is a hugely influential mind in the Canadian Olympic realm. He’s a business leader, he’s a coach, he’s a mentor, he’s a broadcaster, he’s a former Olympic mogul skier. 

So I think this is very, very timely with the Olympics going on. And we’re talking about the role that communication plays in common misunderstandings of it because here’s the thing. And if you’re not a strength coach, you know, this is something that you almost probably laugh at yourself. But you know, the majority of our content generated at Art Of Coaching came from my innate fascination of what makes people so resistant to change. And how simple tweaks in your messaging or communication, or approach can alter that behavior. I mean, we all know that people routinely get in their own way due to fear and a lack of self awareness. 

And I remember how angry some coaches in my field, God. Even when I was working with other organizations in a wide variety of corporate realms, right, whether there’s technology or finance, there were a lot of people in strength and conditioning, they got really mad when I said, hey, communication is important and we need to focus a little bit more on the research and application of this. 

And because they felt like I was telling them that training isn’t important, or sets and reps aren’t important anymore. And the commercialization of strength and conditioning has largely been predicated on those sets. I mean, people spend millions of dollars a year collectively on conferences that would help them learn new exercises, or teach them a new training tool, or giving them technology. Then on the other end of that fewer than 4% of conferences, or even about anything related to communication. 

So the Art Of Coaching in general, right that term, started becoming kind of there were people that were like, oh, is that just like soft and warm and fuzzy tactics? And we would always say no, the Art Of Coaching in all of its context, especially what we do as a company is about identifying, recognizing and adapting to variables that impact human performance. 

Now, if you’re a stockbroker, that’s going to be the market and people’s emotions. If you’re a surgeon, right? There’s a million things from decision making and bias and the complexity of things that you have to figure out and how you have to communicate in the ER. Now if you’re a lawyer, right, that’s the narrative you have to weave together based on facts to convince a jury, right. There are variables and all these things. 

So the Art Of Coaching is social science meets real life. And we believe, as does Dom and Scott, that anybody serious about performance, let alone helping others should not be okay with this asymmetry, right, where professionals are getting taught the technical aspects of what they do in that kind of a domain, but not the domain of human communication. 

And, you know, we also share the idea that those who think they’re good enough at communication, generally don’t have objective data even back that there’s so many misunderstandings. 

So the reason I say I don’t know the broadcast term for this, is we had such a good discussion on Scott’s podcast that we wanted to put it here as a bonus episode for you. Now, that’s not a simulcast, because I think that’s, you know, when multiple broadcasts are happening at one time, and right now, there’s all this stuff going on, whether it’s in movies about multiverses, or whatever. So I’m making up my own term, this is a multicast. So you could hear it one place, you can now hear it here. 

It’s myself, Scott Livingston and Dom Gauthier talking about the misconceptions of communication, why we think we’re so good at it and learning how to redefine the way we speak to and about it. So if you know somebody who really needs to work on interpersonal skills, and maybe they’re skeptical, or maybe your staff is skeptical about that, because they still view it as this kind of warm, fuzzy non tangible thing. Share this with them. 

Our one of our team members, Ali Kershner does amazing podcast reflections. They are all completely free to you. They are for every episode, every single episode, we have them. If you just go to couldn’t be easier. 

You can print that off, you can have conversations with your staff about this and maybe see where your own misinterpretations and misattributions occurred around this topic. Guys, I can’t wait to bring this to you. Without further ado, myself, Scott Livingston and Dom Gauthier.


Scott Livingston  07:06

Hello, and welcome to Leave Your Mark and the performance conversations with Dom and Scott and today we have a guest with us that I’m really honored to have in the house Brett Bartholomew. Brett, I have a nice podcast, cat-cast, podcast history, excuse my befuddlement there. Chatting about a lot of different things in human performance. And Dom and I love talking human performance and sport performance. And so we invited Brett to talk today because, you know, our subject for the last few weeks has been around coaching, specifically a little bit around coaching women and women in coaching, and women in sport. And we’ll play around in that boxes again. 

But Brett has a particular background and interest and wrote the book  Conscious Coaching and is also writing another book right now and has done a lot, his doing his PhD in this area of communication and performance communication and stuff. So we want to get into sort of, you know, what makes a coach a coach, what are some of the deficits maybe still today, and it was funny, I was kind of doing a little perusal of the internet, the interweb knowledge paradigm before. 

And I found this little study, which I’m sure I’m not the greatest scientist spreads. So you’ll forgive me but it was interesting to me because it was a group that had done with the USOC had done an assessment in 1988. And then again in 2007, about coaching and coaching development, etc. And you will like this, because what they basically said was that still today, the biggest focus of most coaches on what they’re, the key things they should be working on are their technical, tactical information, knowledge and sort of their, you know, all the things around, you know, doing the job versus the idea of communication. 

And then they go and talk about later on after sort of delineating those things as the key ones, even 1988 to 2007, we start talking about some of the qualities that make an elite coach and they get, you know, first and foremost is communication. But they don’t talk about the fact that they should be sort of educating themselves in developing themselves in that area of understanding. 

So I thought I’d lead with that in some sense, because I know it’s a bone in your craw are thorn in your craw. And just to sort of cycle into this is, you know, when we look back 20, 30 years ago, we were all coached, in some ways by this, the old adage was, you know, walk softly and carry a big stick and people would kind of go around and you know, the coach would would observe and then hammer you with some kind of insight as to what you should be doing and and over the last 20, 30 years, we’ve started to get a little bit more empathetic in our approach and you know, soft skills and all this stuff. But it seems like we haven’t had the educational process to really backstop that. 

So you know, I’m interested to hear both from you and from Dom, you know, where  should we be going? And how should we be doing this better? So I’ll start with you, Brett because you’re our guest. And then if Dom, you want to chime in on the same subject, that’d be great.


Brett Bartholomew  10:13

Yeah, I mean, I think it depends on a little bit of, you know, of course, what people believe because value is subjective. But we do use literature to back this up, you know, there’s a great meta analysis from 2016, saying that out of 285 Coach development workshops, fewer than 6% focus on interpersonal skills. And those 6% generally are around transformational leadership. 

And, you know, we’ve dove into why, because there’s no shortage of research, especially in the Sport Coaching space. I think people like Christopher J. Cushion, and Kathy Armour and Robin Jones have done great work on this. Even leaning on the work of people like Pierre Bourdieu to kind of look at the art of coaching and the role it plays, but they have a great article called Coach Education and learning to coach. 

And, you know, one of the things they talk about is that, you know, it’s real simple coaching is an individual and a social process, right. And because of that nature, right, it’s inextricably linked to the constraints of human interaction. I mean, by definition, one cannot coach, which coaching is defined as a social process without understanding communication. I think part of the issue, as we’ve dove into this further is because it’s not a rational barrier, right? It’s not like people don’t know that they need to communicate, you know, in order to be a more effective coach. 

What we’ve found through semi structured interviews and other things is, one there’s not a clear idea on most people what communication really is, most of them will say they agree it’s critical. They think that for outcomes to be achieved, one must communicate. However, communication has been grossly over simplified to just mean, verbal, nonverbal and cueing. 

So part of that is again, just people not understanding what communication is the other aspect of when we look at this, of why is this been the case? And I’ll butcher this last name, so I apologize. But a gentleman with last name LeFevre, I think and Evans in another 2016 article, said that the reason for this obsession near fetishization of technical tactical emphasis aligns with this traditional concept of what makes an effective coach, right? Are they using drills that seemed to be effective? Do they have a world class facilities or resources? Right? 

When you look at communication and social aspects, many people believe it’s less difficult to measure objectively. I think what’s really dangerous about that, when I hear people say, this is a soft skill, we’re not able to measure it, we’re not able to manage it. I think folks forget about the fact that marketing is a degree. And there is, I mean, a wealth of research in the marketing literature that shows everything from when are people most likely to open their emails, to what kinds of messaging should Disney or Ford, or, you know, faff use in their communication strategies and marketing.

I mean, it’s alarming to me that people think that Coca-Cola will spend upwards of $10 million on a Superbowl ad, without any analytics of how to frame their messaging and their storytelling so that it connects with people. And so when you look at behavioral science, when you look at marketing, when you look at communications based degrees, our entire world is engineered in order to convey messaging to us in either a direct or indirect manner, or what we talked about on Conscious Coaching, central messaging, which involves higher order thought, right, as picking apart an argument, somebody sending an advertisement to us through fax or research or even what I’m doing now I’m appealing through central messaging versus peripheral messaging, right peripheral is how attractive is that model? Is that a jingle I like?

Is this Brett Bartholomew somebody maybe I’ve never heard of telling me about this or Gregg Popovich? right, because we even see that, you know, the three of us could get very technical about aspects of the art of coaching and social science and behavior change. But if all of a sudden comes Gregg Popovich or another coach, maybe somebody from the Canadian coaching hall of fame, and people that is more representative of those that audience’s aspirational self, well, they could give a whole thing on cliches, and people would still say we like that better. 

So looking at this, and then understanding that there’s also to date and maybe I’m mistaken, but at least when we did kind of our lit review, there’s been no singular agreed upon definition of coaching. There’s only agreed upon that it is a social endeavor. That doesn’t help as well. 

So you pair all this Scott with the fact that most people think they’re already good at communication. It’s not taught. It’s not just the Dunning Kruger effect. It’s the better-than-average-effect, this idea of Dunning Kruger is, right, we all think we’re better at it than we really are, in general, better than average is that’s even more amplified, when that thing we’re being graded on, is perceived as morally virtuous, or is desirable by a certain population. That’s like a force multiplier. 

So I’m glad you asked that question. Because this as needed almost be therapeutic for me to figure these things out why we ignore it. But that’s kind of been the bedrock of what we’ve found. And I don’t want to go on a further monologue. But I, you know, we can go deeper, but that’s kind of the foundation of it.


Dom Gauthier  15:47

Or you could go on a monologue speaking that way. If you asked me,


Brett Bartholomew  15:50

So, I don’t want to bore you guys or disrespect. 


Dom Gauthier  15:52

No, no, no. This is wicked. I mean, I mean, I’ve been a coach for half my, my sporting life, I guess and communication is so critical to me. And I love what you’re saying. I’ve been working mainly with individual athletes myself, I mean, only actually, I’ve never coached a team. 

So from what I’m hearing from you is, it’s all about customizing pretty much your approach, right? Like it’s not cookie cutter, like the way you communicate, or the way it will be received is very different from one athlete to the next. So when it’s an individual sport, like I’ve been dealing with, well, pretty easy to know how to tailor my approach. How do you do it with teams, though? Like, yeah, do you do? Is that a different technique or approach to it or not?


Brett Bartholomew  16:32

Sure. Yeah. I mean, it’s one of the most common questions we get, or, you know, I once had somebody decide to I, guess they wanted to test me because their organization brought me in. And he said, he flopped. He throws his roster. This was a college football coach, throws his roster at me and says, I got 150 people tell me how to coach them all. And I was like, like, what an interesting way to pose? 

Well, first of all, this is our first introduction, right? And what I found fascinating by that, because I, my experience was mainly with groups, right? And so I think that what’s odd about it is this idea that people think that you go in and you like, you spike this scepter into the ground, and that there’s this one thing? 

Well, I don’t know about either of you guys, I guess, Dom, you gave me some insight and your expertise. But, you know, if you’re coaching large groups, chances are these people are with you for a while now. And if we’re using the college football coach, as an example, in this situation, generally, unless they transfer, what have you, they’re going to happen for at least three to four years, right? Of course, there’s injuries and transfer and what have you. 

But you know, this isn’t something that you try to divide or attack all at once. These are micro interactions that you have over the course of the relationship you build with these people. You know,  if all of a sudden, 14 pro athletes were sent to me today, I don’t think about day one being this ceremonial, love them up. You know, tell me everything about you guys. This is stuff that it might be a jab, jab, jab, right hook, right? General coaching, general coaching, general coaching, hey, what made sense to you about that cue? Hey, what did you like, how’d you get into football? You know, what are one of the things that you know, you just start, this is basic talk, right?

And that’s where people struggle is. They want to overcomplicate this thing that granted is very complex. But the reality is they don’t listen, Dom, how you do it with large groups, is you talk a good bit, because it disarms them. It’s welcoming. It’s not a parasocial relationship, when they get a feel for you. And then when they do give you something, you listen to it, and you dig a little bit deeper. 

And that’s simple constructs of theory of mind, right? Like this idea that I have to have a recognition that you’re thinking something else, then I’m thinking or even while I’m talking. It’s not just you and me, Dom or Scott, for that matter. All of you are listening to what I’m saying, thinking about either a past situation that resonates or something you want to say. And then I’m thinking about how I can be more useful and what other examples I should bring in. So now there’s maybe six to nine voices going on, you know.


Dom Gauthier  19:09

That’s so good, yeah. 


Brett Bartholomew  19:10

I think the critical thing to your point, if I can be more succinct, is it’s micro interactions over the long term learning how to listen so that you can reframe, and ultimately reflect their language back at them. L

ike my, I think the guy just got done training Jack. Jack is towards the end of his NFL career. Jack likes to joke around, keep it light hearted whatever. You know what I said you’re pretty laid back guy when I first met him, it’s our fourth year. And he goes listen to like, my entire life is structured in the NFL and prior to that it was structured playing sports prior to the NFL. He was training for me as a means to an end and I still want to enjoy it. Great. It’s not hard to pick five other athletes like Jack and our group of 20 that are like that because you know what they gravitate to Jack and Jack gravitates to them and we see that interaction. 

And then we see this technician kind of subgroup that they may not want to talk much there, they want to be coached at everything. So this is kind of what led to the construction of my book have these archetypical personas that are by no means saying these athletes or individuals are monolithic. And this is how you deal with them all the time. But it gives you subtle cues of how to start the interaction and guide it and see what else you might be able to excavate. But gee whiz, I guess that’s a lot of work to some folks. Because what I heard early on, and we don’t hear this much now is, well, I don’t have time for that.

 And so I remember I had this slide of Batman backhanding Robin. And it’s like, that’s your job, your job. So let me get this straight, you have time to set up bands and chains, and pneumatic resistance based machines and your bungees and your hurdles, and they’re all lined up meticulously. And yet you don’t have time for this, it really gives a lot of insight as to who got into coaching, because they like sport and exercise. And who got into it because they actually want to deal with people.


Scott Livingston  21:00

Really good. Yeah. Well, it’s interesting, you know, in listening to you that there’s this kind of confluence, and I think that you it’s become far more clear over the last 10 years that to your point, and I commend you for the work you’re doing, Brett. And can we to come down and spend some time after I’ve been released from the constraints of ever ending..


Brett Bartholomew  21:20

Are you guys still locked down?


Scott Livingston  21:23

I won’t even get into that, my friend. But anyways, the thing that’s interesting to me is like, if you look historically back at coaching, and you made a good point, I mean, a lot of what’s the raison d’etre for a lot of people going into coaching, while they love sport, they want to work with people, they want to help people, etc. And they’re usually taught. 

So first of all, you’re an athlete. So you’ve been told how to do everything by somebody before you. And I would say it’s only probably in the last 10, 15 years, and maybe even last time where we started to actually have conversations about what I would call athlete autonomy. 

In other words, teaching your athlete, you know, why they’re doing what they’re doing. Most of the time, it was basically do, do what I tell you to do, and shut up and do it, you know. And so that was kind of the strategy. So these people became coaches. 

So their strategy for coaching was I tell you what to do, and you listen to what I tell you, and we go forward. And so then, this dissonance started probably 10, 15 years ago, where and you see that sort of marked as well by the increases in salaries in pro sports, and even in Olympic sport, people being able to generate income, etc. And sort of having this independence. 

And the athlete actually asked him the question, why am I doing this? and a lot of these coaches are like, well, you know, didn’t know how to sort of shift and there were certain coaches, who had sort of made that shift to your point maybe had a different raison d’etre for being in coaching, you took it upon themselves, to learn about the mindset or learn about how they communicated, whether that was done through a didactic means, or whether they did that through, you know, the nature of reading, and connecting, and mentorship and everything else. 

And I would argue that for the most part, and I’d love to hear your point, but up until now, I think the art of communication has been guided downwards through a mentorship and apprenticeship model, and not through a didactic learning model, so to speak. So now, you know, there’s that model is very difficult to make happen for everybody, because there’s so much out there, you know, and so the idea of being able to actually go and learn this stuff and know that you do it or don’t do it is new for people.

But why they don’t, why they don’t value it, my interpretation is that they don’t recognize. that they don’t, to your point, don’t recognize that they don’t do it poorly, or that they do it poorly. And that they’ve never, that’s never actually been emphasized to them, like, Damn, you tell me as a coach, how was communication emphasized to you and your coach development?


Dom Gauthier  24:02

Actually, not much. It was all again, it’s, they call it the Art Of Coaching, although it was art, you had it or you don’t, right, you created it. And for me communication was key from the start. I mean, there is some courses where they address it, but it’s not like, it’s not like someone mentored me into it, right, like from an organized, you know, coaching course, or whatever we have here in Canada. And I mean, it’s, I think we’re being taught a lot of the skills, technical skills, tactical, but definitely when it comes to this, you know, emotional intelligence, it’s kind of like, well, you have it or you don’t and then that’s what often makes you end up being a good coach or not. And for me, it was always critical. 

And I think, Brett, probably the way you are doing it as well as we travel a lot. I was a ski coach. So we travel a lot, nine months a year in the same hotels and stuff. So we were able to develop that relationship with the athletes and it’s not every coach that has that luxury or not, but where you get to get that, you know, really deep relationship or to appointment, it’s almost you know, detrimental because you’re together so much. 

But my point is that I would always like, make my plans. And then, you know, the key moment for me was not when I was on the ski hill was really at breakfast. And that’s when I would really read them, you know, not just ask the typical hey, how you doing what’s up, like, but just like, read them, look at how they go to the buffet, grab their cereals and stuff. And from there, I would kind of adjust my plan. And that’s how I would tailor things to their body language or their actual language. And I think that’s what people don’t value enough. 

This is where it matters. It’s all around, it’s how they are when they show up, how do you see them walking in the parking lot? I think, you know, even if you’re not traveling with them, look at them, you know, how do they walk with their bag, like showing up at the rink or on the field or whatever. And  I think as coaches, it’s not thought I think it’s everyone sees the or understand there’s a value there. And you know, reading books, like your book, I think will resonate with a lot of people. But it’s also something that’s tough to coach, right. Like, I mean, other than mentoring, I don’t think you can learn that in books. Can you?


Brett Bartholomew  26:21

No, I’m glad you said that because well the short answer your question is no. And that goes again to the origin of this issue of, again, this inattentional blindness. And then you have to look at the way most coaches learn, you know, research asserts that and common sense when we all look at it, most coaches learn to coach through either coaching, how they were coached, or coaching how somebody they view as a successful coach coaches, you know, and so, and then again, most coaches, they’ll go to books that you think about the pay scale, right? It’s not a lucrative profession, people don’t get into it for the money. So they tend to go to books, as opposed to more context rich mediums, such as maybe online courses or live events. 

And then if they do go to live events, this stuff, I think what’s interesting is for a highly skeptical audience, that views itself as very self aware, and very, I don’t know, somewhat just practical, I don’t think that they’ve fully realized how much the commercialization of tools and tactics has gripped them, right. They, most of the clinics that they do go to are selling training methods, avant garde strategies, what have you, when you look at the art of coaching, it can essentially be characterized as a form of structured improvisation. 

Guys, quick interruption here, I want to tell you about something, you know, I never had a mentor directly in my life. Of course, I’ve learned from a wide variety of people. And but I’ve never had somebody walked me through it all the way it being whether that was my coaching, my business, how to write a book, anything like that. And more importantly, I didn’t really identify with a lot of these mentoring groups out there that seemed really money focused or status focus. You know, a lot of times I just wanted something that could help me gain some clarity, maybe give me some accountability and just give me building momentum, because I can get in my own way. 

And because we couldn’t find that we created something of clone, and it’s called the Coalition. It is open to people from all walks of life, we have had a wide variety of professions represented. And what it is, is it’s an intensive six month mentoring program, with myself and other professionals. It’s a place where you no matter where you’re at, if you’re just getting started in your career, or you’ve been doing something for 30 years, if you just feel like you’re a little bit lonely, and you want other people to talk to you about a business idea you have or something you want to do, maybe it’s a podcast, maybe it’s a book, maybe it’s just the way you deal with things in your relationships. 

And you’re looking for people that don’t want to just rah-rah all of it away. They want to give you tactics, they want to share stories and strategies of their own. This is what we do. And we are accepting applications for our November group. Again, it’s six months, all these calls are recorded. We’ve had tons of international folks come so don’t worry about the timezone you’re in, don’t worry about what country you’re in. 

Just worry about putting skin in the game and investing in a group of people that want to help you. We will have these selected by the time it starts in November. So do not waste time. Usually, when we announced this on the podcast, it still fills up in a matter of a month, maybe two. And while I’m recording this, this is now the start of August. And if you’re listening to this sometime in the future, still go to We do this twice a year. We’re always running some aspect of it. We’d be honored to have you again, get the community you need, gain clarity, build momentum with people like you. 

I think what’s interesting is for a highly skeptical audience that views itself as very self aware, and very, I don’t know, somewhat just practical, I don’t think that they’ve fully realized how much the commercialization of tools and tactics has gripped them. Right. They, most of the clinics that they do go to are selling training methods, avant garde strategies, what have you, when you look at the art of coaching, it can essentially be characterized as a form of structured improvisation, right like, and we know that experience is crucial to structuring that kind of practice. 

And so if we think about how one learns, and how one teaches and what is being taught, and the context it’s being taught, these things are devoid of any kind of facilitated interpersonal guidance in coaching, they are because you think you learned just through being on the floor, you think you’ll learn just by doing internships? Well, of course, you can learn how to command groups and enhance technical proficiency. But you don’t necessarily gain self awareness by being on the floor, especially if you’re around a bunch of people, much like in academia, a good friend of mine is in academia, and he talks about how, you know, a lot of the feedback forms have been altered to essentially be protective of professors, right? Like, they don’t want to deal with a lot of change. 

Well, we see this within in groups and coaching. We see this in the various organizations that created there was a very well known coaching conference, it just went on down here in the United States, where it’s very much like this. I mean, you would think, guys, it’s West Side Story, with all these people and their jumpsuits and their polos snapping their fingers representing their university. And the presentations are less about anything truly didactic and more about this is why we squat, you know, and then you, it’s very defensive. And so one thing we started to look at within that if we look at the art of coaching, as a form of structured improvisation is okay, well, let’s look at, let’s look at that word. And we go into education. And, again, this is all kind of part of the founding argument of my doctorate. 

So I’m trying to give context is we look at teaching, what are teachers conceptions of improvisation because one thing I know working with military is they don’t need to be sold on this, whenever I go present for the military, on any of these things related communication role playing, there’s, the 20 slides that I usually have to lead with, with research and whatever, don’t need to be discussed. And I know that because I did that one time with my own naivete. 

And a member of the soft community stopped me and said, We don’t need to hear this, this, you know, move, shoot and communicate is a lot of what we have to do, or, or we’re dead, you know, you don’t need to sell us on that. Get on with it. Let’s talk tactics, right? Whereas if I presented a sports science seminar now, you know, these people speak the language of literature. So you have to do that. So if we think about this stuff, and giving you some insight on what it says in education. And by the way, you see this in the medical community as well, about $12 million is loss every year. And this was a 2015 statistic. Yeah, dude, you litigious issues and in medical type situations based on doctors not communicating well, based on client and healthcare provider interactions, any of these things. 

But if we look at yeah, like the root of improvisation, and people are gonna have different interpretations of this. But if we look at the root word, it’s improv-visus, right? So improv-is-us. And that’s a Latin word that literally translates to the unforeseen, right? And we know that to improvise is to be open to new perspectives and new actions and new constraints, the things that inevitably are what surrounded the coaching process, and not just coaching mind you, let’s not act like coaching is a sport centric term. 

Coaching is management, coaching is guidance of any kind, right? When you’re trying to lead people in an orchestrated effort to alter a behavior or achieve an outcome, you’re a coach. And that’s why we decided with our company, we weren’t going to show any kind of athletic or body health performance centric imagery, because we’re trying to appeal to a wider demographic. I think the thing that breaks my heart is that we have immediate buy in from the medical field, legal community talking about communication, right? Military all these things yet coaches are the biggest pain in the ass. 

Yeah, who do a lot of coaches draw inspiration from, you know, I can go into 15 houses at different coaches I know right now and they’re gonna have you know, military base books and and book by this, but it’s almost like they don’t want to do the dirty work Dom and I’m only addressing you here because Scott and I have talked about it. And I want to invite you in is like, it’s messy. Right? Think of your past experiences. How many experiences whether it be in romantic relationships, your coaching, your professional speaking all the things you’ve done throughout your career, how many of those conflicts came down to communication based situations that you couldn’t have anticipated until they happened?


Dom Gauthier  35:19

Right. Now.


Brett Bartholomew  35:21

Right? So like, we have to get people I guess the take home message of what I’m saying is, if we know the origin of these issues, part of this solution is changing the way people view the word communication, right, so that it’s not so nebulous. And we’ve done that by talking about the byproducts of poor communication, right, like, the one thing guaranteed, and this is the only time I’ll speak in absolutes. The one thing I can guarantee is poor communication will make every situation in life worse, every. So you know, we have to, unfortunately, sometimes use fear based tactics of saying, yeah, you can choose not to work on communication. 

But don’t be surprised when it costs you your job, or relationship, some credibility and opportunity, the by products of it are clear. And then we also have to change the perception of the art of coaching and improv. Because when I ask people in semi structured interviews, hey, what’s your perception of the word improv? Now, you know, a comedy, laughter whatever. Really, the direct correlate to this is adaptability, right? But improv is to adaptability, what sound decision making is to pragmatism. And yeah, that is so getting people to change the way they view these things. So that they understand that okay, I recognize that  these problems in my life. Here’s an alternative. Here’s the language. I know that suggests this is the alternative I should choose. And then you’ve got to make it appealing. 

Because if you go to a training workshop, right, Scott, if you go to, if you went to like when I worked at athlete’s performance, if you guys came for a mentorship, you’re coming to an idyllic setting, with hot tubs and cold tubs in a world class way your room, you’re in your happy zone, you get a workout, you get to learn, how many people wake up in the morning, they’re like, I am really ready to get uncomfortable and do some role playing with some hard shit under constraints around people that are gonna judge me.


Scott Livingston  37:19

I love that Brett. And you know, I  just finished reading the book. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, I think I’ve forwarded to you called to The Attributes written by Rich Diviney who’s a former Navy SEAL. And I’m actually going to talk to Rich this afternoon about attributes. And he basically distills down this idea of these different sort of categories of call them psychological attributes. 

For example, like he looks at, you know, give you an example of leadership. He’s got the grid attributes, the mental acuity attributes to drive attributes, leadership attributes in leadership. There’s things like empathy, selflessness, authenticity, decisiveness, accountability, not to get into all of that, but you know, he looks at skill versus attribute, a skill is something that can be taught didactically and then basically practiced and refined or honed. Whereas an attributes, it’s basically an innate in essence, forged rather than learned, it’s something you have inside you that you need to forge new forge it through putting yourself in stress, challenged uncertainty, and essentially effectively pressure tested. 

So if I’m hearing you, right, he actually doesn’t talk about communication as of formal attribute or the elements there. And I would say it’s probably a disappointed discussion this afternoon. But I’m interested in your viewpoint and Dom’s viewpoint is that I think of communication more as an attribute or the elements of communication more as an attribute and not so much of a skill, and that to your point they need, you need to put yourself in a place where you actually have to be uncertain, be challenged, be stressed, so that you actually see where you are have deficit and then manage that deficit or mobilize that deficit in some sense. Thoughts?


Brett Bartholomew  39:11

Yeah. Do you want to go since I’ve been talking a bit? 


Dom Gauthier  39:14

No, no, go for it. Okay.


Brett Bartholomew  39:15

Um, so Scott, you know, I want to make sure I’m clear. And I I totally understand and appreciate what you’re saying. The only alternative? I would  suggest, and it’s an alternative, just because again, this is the area that I’ve chosen to nerd out about, right is, and I don’t like using this phrase, because it’s been, I think it’s a protective phrase that academics have used, but in this case, the literature would disagree that it’s not a skill. 

Now, this is where I have to give credence to a gentleman named Owen Hargie that leads much of this but they do talk about it is not only as skilled behavior but as strategic enterprise. And I’ll give you one definition, right, of which there’s many as you can imagine, Imagine right academics love their definition. This one would be from, from Hamilton 2014. He defines communication as a process which I think that word is important in general. Right, it goes back to a Dom’s great question of how do we manage this in large groups and what have you. And I said that it’s a continual, it’s a continual thing, right? It’s not a Dr. Phil moment. It’s not a, it’s not a Gandalf. 

Here’s my scepter, now listen. It’s a process by which people share ideas, thoughts, and feelings, in commonly, comprehensible ways. Now, six things that we go through, and if you’re wondering how I have this, somewhat memorized, because this is a cornerstone of our apprenticeship. And we’ve always got to lead with this, because we want to start our two day seminar with a sense of mutual understanding. So you know, Harvey would say that, you know, communication is a skill, that is a prerequisite actually for scaled learning, whether that was the use of stories, right? Back when we were just tribal creatures that didn’t really have a full understanding of the world, world. But we use stories as the preeminent, culturally dominant force to teach lessons. We know that communication develops personal identity and theory of mind. 

Hargie also goes on to say that it’s and this is fascinating, because I think it was a wake up call, even to me is communications is necessary for survival, let alone success, right? Like, we’re at the top of the food chain, because we’re the preeminent social animal on this planet. You know, not because we have fangs and claws, and superhuman strength, gorillas would rip us apart, all these other animals would destroy us. But because we’re the preeminent social animal, and we’re able to get together in groups, and we were able to communicate and that improved our hunting capabilities, our tactical capabilities, right, where we’re at. We know that improves one’s ability to cope with stress, it’s the basis of social capital. 

And let’s not forget the biggest thing that’s perhaps most relevant to this moment in history. Its prophylactic against mental degradation and mental illness. Well, literally the harshest treatment you can do to somebody in a world that kills people via a firing squad, lethal injection, we murder and we do all these awful things, is social isolation, you will actually see parts of the human brain shrink, when people are socially isolated. 

So collectively, these researchers go on to say communication is not just a skill, it is the essence of the human condition. Dom a little bit of you know, not to get dark. If DOM unfortunately went silent right now, and he just passed out. And we don’t know what’s wrong with Dom right, this recording is ongoing. Dom’s not saying anything to us. But you better believe Dom’s communicating and he’s communicating that something is wrong. And then that’s a whole another conversation of what’s different about communication and interpersonal skills. I think we’re all leave it and then open it up, you know, to again, more dialogue is, you know. 

I want it to be clear my fascination started with this when I was hospitalized, then trying to make sense of why these nurses and doctors who are the world’s best communicated with us as patients like we were creatures, and leaned upon medication and things like that, as opposed to try and do, you know, these people customize their coffee in the morning, more than they did their communication strategy to us. 


Scott Livingston  43:30



Brett Bartholomew  43:31

You know, and that, and that’s something we all do. And then this amplified for me when I got into motor learning and my master’s degree in cueing, and so then it became a motor learning based thing I’m going to tell you right now, where like, we know that all communication occurs within a particular context, as does the wielding of most skills, right? Even if we’re only, even if I’m just talking to the training nerd, that says, yeah, yeah, Brett, Scott, and Dom, whatever it still, all I want to talk about is training. Great. 

But you need to understand that your communication and that athletes perception and interpretation of not only your demonstrations, but what you’re asking of them is the largest thing that affects their ability to learn that skill, you’re asking whether it’s a shuffle, or a clean or what have you. So we’ve got identify three real things, the context, which can collectively be the situation, circumstances in which an act occurs, so right now online via zoom, with three coaches slash practitioners interested in helping others, right, communication, we know that from earlier, the process by which people share ideas and thoughts in commonly comprehensible ways, facts and statistics, metaphors, stories, what have you, and then the fit between them, right. Because when we have the context, the nature of our communication, of course, the audience and the fit, which is that attunement of the audience and what we’re saying and how we’re saying it and the mediums in which we’re sharing it. Now we start to understand the messiness of this. 

And mind you, those are just three components of the communicative process of which there’s eight. So if most people think about the fact if you’re like, what’s another thing we can do to get better, as opposed to having clear definitions and an understanding of the why we got here? If we would just lead with understanding, and I can’t take credit for this is called the coordinated management of meaning theory. fancy term for a very basic thing. Right? Again, you gotta laugh at some of the research behind it. If people went into most situations, understanding that misunderstanding is actually the baseline. Right? That’s what this theory says is, if I go out and talk to my neighbor, right now, who’s mowing his lawn for god knows what reason. And at 141, if I just understand that, no matter what I say, even if we know each other, he has yet to know what I’m going to ask of him or why, right? It’s every interaction is new. Regardless, if we think of the baseline is misunderstanding. 

And communication is a tool and a skill that bridges that gap, we’d be better off now, mind you, that sounds a lot like empathy, It’s not because empathy is I feel what you feel, I don’t go into that discussion with a level of misunderstanding, because I know I want to say something to him that I understand clearly. This is more compassion, I understand what you may feel. And I have the theory of mind to consider that myself. You know, which is why on this conversation with you guys that are interested in I’m reading your body language, you look interested in not annoyed.

 So I’m elaborating on another podcast where I know they just want me to get to it and talk about my athletes. I’ll give them an above the fold headline, and invite for them to ask me more much like a barber. Hey, what do you do for a living? That guy doesn’t give a shit what I do for a living? You know, I just am a teacher. Oh, yeah. What do you teach? athletes, coaches and communication skills? Now if he asked for more elaborate, but I’ve learned too often that the minute I’m like, oh, strength coach, or this or a speaker, you know, oh, that’s cool. You know, my brother did that. And then we’re on to something new. They’re polite, but they don’t care.


Dom Gauthier  47:03

Oh that is my biggest trigger, when someone uses your answer to then go on to their store. And that’s why sometimes I don’t even communicate as much as I would like to maybe because I’m, I just get annoyed by that people. And to your point earlier, you mentioned when someone talks, you know, often people will actually be thinking about what they’re going to say next. And it’s obvious. I mean, and now we’re doing an interview, obviously, I’m doing a bit of the same. I think we always do. B

ut for some people, it just seems so strong that you can tell all they think about is when they’re going to come up with their answer, which is in fact, not an answer. It’s more of a new statement or a new story. And it’s just so no,


Brett Bartholomew  47:44

Yeah, well, damn, I mean, that’s the fun of using improv as a medium to bridge this gap. So would you guys like, would you play along for a minute? Oh, great. So Scott, and Dom, you guys are the players here. Now, this is a trap. Nobody’s going to win. Right? Now. You’re both we’ve been talking about this. So you’re both already aware, you’re attuned, you’re going to do better than most people. 

But we’re going to start level one. So Mr. Livingston, this is as if we were teaching somebody a split squat, right as part of a lunge progression or what have you, right? This is very basic. You guys won’t screw this up. There’s only one rule. Okay. You guys are, Dom you will ask Scott a question. It can be about anything a pink elephant, your desk, whatever. Scott, you have to respond with another question. Okay. It doesn’t have to be relevant. It can be closing open ended, whatever, right? But this is like, just go ahead, we’re gonna see how many we can get until one of you makes the mistake of answering that question, or not actually asking a question at all. So Dom, start us off.


Dom Gauthier  48:45

So would you use a pen or a pencil to take your notes for now?


Scott Livingston  48:51

Are you in Vancouver right now?


Dom Gauthier  48:53

I wonder if you should take water, coffee, because you seem tired. And I would recommend you take a coffee. Do you take coffee?


Scott Livingston  49:02

I’m just wondering what the temperature is like in Vancouver right now?


Dom Gauthier  49:08

Like, do you wear your glasses to, you know, to read or do you wear to drive as well? And actually, like talking about driving like, you know, he’s still going to Montreal every week from trauma.


Scott Livingston  49:23

Where did you get those headphones down there? Really nice.


Brett Bartholomew  49:25

Good. So pretty solid. Now, a couple of you made a couple of questions that were really statements raises question. But now if we’ve made that a level up, and I said you actually have to respond precisely. So if Dom said are you driving to Montreal every week.

 Now you have to keep what we define as good orchestration. Orchestration is thought of like as relevance synchrony, right? Are you actually responding to what he’s asking? Right? Because that goes back to what Dom said. People will ask a question just to go off on a tirade of their own. That’s poor orchestration. visual depiction of good orchestration would be like volleyball players bump set spike, right? You’re setting the other person up for success. So now try to do it one more time staying relevant to one thing. 

Let’s say the topic is bowling. Okay, I’m choosing it for you. We’re elevating constraints. You have to start with the topic of bowling. Scott asked Dom a question.


Scott Livingston  50:21

Do you like 10 pin or visit 5 pin bowling? I think it’s five pin? Better?


Dom Gauthier  50:27

Well, actually, I don’t like bowling period.


Brett Bartholomew  50:30

That’s a statement. So boom. Like, you got to ask a question. 


Dom Gauthier  50:34

Oh I have to go back on a question. 


Brett Bartholomew  50:36



Scott Livingston  50:36

And it has to be relevant to both.


Dom Gauthier  50:40

Okay, so I’ll pick that up again. Then..


Brett Bartholomew  50:43

Yeah, go ahead. Like 10 or five pin ball,


Dom Gauthier  50:44

I would say. Five pin. I think it’s something that needs more precision, doesn’t it?


Brett Bartholomew  50:54

So notice how he answered first and then lead with a question to win, quote, unquote, it’s just gotta be a straight question. So well, what’s 10 pin bowling? Would you believe that? It’s a harder way to do it. 


Dom Gauthier  51:05

Okay. Okay. Gotcha. 


Brett Bartholomew  51:06

All right. So, listen, these are very basic activities. But they’re hard, right? We understand that they’re hard. And these are basic improv games. Now, that’s not what we do at our workshops, you might do that to break the ice and get people to loosen up and highlight an elemental truth.

 The point is, is what we do is real life role playing. So we’ll say hey, what’s the constraint somebody’s dealing with? Ah, I’m trying to ask for a raise at work. And my boss is intimidating, great. I want to see this interactive. I need two people. And we get people from different professions to interact. And we may line it up for him. And then what we do is we want to explore possible futures. 

Because think about it. Nobody really gets to rehearse and refine for some of their biggest moments in life. So now we’re like, how could this go worse? Maybe we assign one of the role playing agents on archetype. Maybe one of them’s irascible. Maybe one of them is demeaning. Maybe one of them is this right? And then we see how could we make it better? We’ll even have one elevate their tone of voice lower it. We throw all kinds of muddiness into it.

 And what’s funny is generally not often, but generally, we’ll get somebody that’s like, well, this isn’t, this would never happen. And what’s great as we usually have somebody else in the audience, I go, yeah, let me tell you about last week for me, you know that happened in our most recent one where somebody said, a certain situation that we purposefully elevated to be pretty, pretty tough, right? Because we look at this as overload, like, this is the equivalent of putting more weight on the bar or increasing repetitions or what have you. But this person was like, this wouldn’t happen. A firefighter slash paramedic says, You want to bet, because what do you know, firefighters and paramedics have to do role playing all the time, they have to look at the adjacent possible. 

So the things that are really goofy, and seem not relevant sometimes are actually great examples of things that happen all the time in interactions. Somebody didn’t listen, somebody tried to assert themselves. Somebody brought non relevant information and to the scene, they broke up, does it make sense what I’m saying? Or am I off in la-la -and?


Dom Gauthier  53:06

It’s beautiful. One of the things that more and more sorry, I was talking with a very probably one of the top psychologists here in Canada with athletes. And he works with the short track speed skating team and he actually he was telling me a couple of weeks ago, this whole thing that he started now like maybe over right since the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018. Anyways, and it’s all about this roleplay thing, like he gets them out of their comfort zone completely. 

Because you can imagine like training for short track speed skating, right? It’s not like a football game. It’s huh. You go and circle and circle and always the same way. And, you know, you want it to open to their creativity and taking decision because it’s a sport where tactic is key. Like, there’s so tight. And for those of you who haven’t seen it, you know, because we talk to people all across the states. I’m hoping right now like, it’s not a famous sport in the state. It’s pretty famous and popular, I should say in Canada and man like sometimes you have like on the relators like, pretty much there’s like 30 plus athletes on the small rink. It’s like a hockey rink. And they do realize none of that. So basically, it’s point was that we need, I need to do some to force them out of their comfort zone to start thinking differently.


Brett Bartholomew  54:17

And this is, that’s it’s a great point. You look at what they did with football, right? They shrunk the field, they tightened it. But here’s my question to both of you what a coaches do to practice? What a coach are you right? We  have athletes who go through walkthroughs, boxers and fighters will shadowbox against imaginary opponents. Military will do war games. Folks in the medical side will act like there’s a power outage or certain technology is not available. What a coaches practice. Well, I know what strength coaches do to practice they just lift weights and they let the they do the thing they’re already good at and then they tell everybody else to get uncomfortable and that it will help them grow yet a lot of them insulate themselves from a communications Yeah. 

How are you a coach if you’re not practicing coaching? And then you doing your job and saying that’s practice is like saying that an athlete playing their game is the only way or their sport is the only way they improve. Do you appreciate the cognitive dissonance of this? You know, like this is what is crazy to me and I and I point the finger at myself just as much as because until I stumbled on the wake up call of what I was studying my Masters in Communication, and queuing, and yada, yada, yada, and the different ways in human behavior is influenced. I was obsessed with technical tactical as well. And then I still have an appreciation from it. 

But like, you’ve got to wake up at some point say, What am I a coach? What is coaching, by definition, an interactive process that requires social interaction? How am I practicing that? I coach every day, no, that’s not practicing, saying you play your sport every day is not the same as practicing. And better yet, when do we do it under constraints? When do we do it under external guidance? Oh, me and my staff do this all the time, your staff, you trust your staff to give you the feedback that you don’t want to hear? Yeah, come on. I don’t care what hiring practice you have, what kind of culture you have. Your staff is not always going to tell you the things you want to hear. They’re not. 


Dom Gauthier  56:08

 So, how do you do it? How you do it? 


Brett Bartholomew  56:10

Get around people and other people? I mean, I’m biased. I’m telling you what, that’s what we’ve tried to create with our apprenticeship. Yeah, we have the workshops where people from every field have come FBI agents, HR representatives, nurses, firefighters, trained coaches, sport coaches, you get people in a wide variety of spaces in and have them work through role playing scenarios, under constraints under evaluations of self. 

So we have an evaluation form, that everybody after a role playing scenario, and they get videotaped. They evaluate themselves, how well did they play the role that was assigned to them? And then what we do is, let’s say I played the roll, right? You and Scott, Dom and every other attendee would then give me your perception of how I did so a peer evaluation, right all on this sheet. And then what we do is we rewatch it, we rewatch it. I regrade myself, based on me hearing all your criticisms, right, which we need to have. It’s a day one agreement, you’re not going to win this weekend. It’s a trap. We’re putting you under constraints so that we are under elevated, right, like and that’s what’s fun about it really growth minded people come and they laugh at their inadequacies.

But then once we’ve regraded now, here’s what we do. Because we have my egocentric bias, me grading myself, your individual bias, you grading me, now we get you into groups or pods, and we say now we need to group bias. So you guys collectively get in groups, you might argue I gave Brett a one, here’s why Scott might say I give him a three, somebody from the Philippines might be like, ah, in my culture, he would have been perceived like this, that’s a two, and you come up with a cumulative score. 

And what we’re not worried about is a perfect score. There’s no perfect coach, there’s no perfect communicator. That’s not the goal. I do not want to teach people to communicate like me, that would be awful. Dumb, you wouldn’t want people to communicate like you, we want people to be aware of how they communicate. So what we’re worried about is the perceptual gap. At the end of it all, Scott has consistently given him threes and self threes. But everybody else has given him ones or worse yet, zeros. Scott, there’s a gap to bridge. 

And what’s nice about the model is Scott theoretically, could come to five different apprenticeships in five different cities in five different countries with five different subsets of different professionals that are there, and he’d never have the same score. So we don’t need to do a level one and a level two and a level eight, because it’s a different experience every single time based on the people we’re around. Sounds like real life.  Sounds like what happens every day. How long does that last. Like what’s close it on that? Week long program?  So ideally that and I’m glad you asked that ideally, when we constructed this, cuz you know, like, a weekend workshop is not enough to teach.


Dom Gauthier  59:06

I know, exactly. 


Brett Bartholomew  59:06

But we also have to adapt to the constraints of people that are like I can’t get away from work, or we had a coach the other day be like, can you put your workshop on an app? And I’m like, no, I’m sorry. And he’s like, why can’t get away for two days? I’m like, on a weekend. And so we wanted it to be at least four days Dom, unfortunately for this variation of we did two, because that’s another way that we need to get people indoctrinated. Imagine this Dom, imagine us saying, we have this problem. Communication is not sexy. 

People aren’t aware of it role playing scary. Getting around strangers is scary, because people want self protection, self enhancement, whatever. And it’s four days and you’ve got to spend $1,500, you’ve created so many barriers there. That what we’re really trying to do is we’re trying to just get people to, we’re trying to make it as easy as possible for people to get a taste. So even though we don’t want to teach it in two days, we teach this version in two days, we are going to make another version that is four days more immersive, right? The goal, but if we made it four days, right off the bat, we lose, because now we’re adding another barrier for people do it, I hate to say it. 

But if you look at it, it’s very much how drug dealers, you know, we’re so successful with kids and youth, right? Like, they get them hooked at a young age through low barriers, they’re on the corners, easy access, and you can look at, I know, it might be a super inappropriate thing to reference. But we have to talk about how things become systemic, ease of access, low barrier of entry, you know, what have you and then that becomes something that so we want to do that. 

But in a positive way, we want the drug here to be a little bit of humility, maybe have a little bit of fun. Like, if I tell you Dom, hey, day one, nice to have you, brother be ready to laugh and get frustrated. But here’s the thing, everybody here is mutually bought in, in terms of this being about learning through failure, and not getting caught up on ego. And we all want to help each other get better. You know what I mean? 

And that’s the thing coaches aren’t doing now. Like, they’re just going to shit where they play it safe. Right? Everybody, just, let’s do what we’re good at. Let’s get around other people that, you know, they like this, let’s not have any tough talk. I get in on these games, because it’s fun for me as a facilitator to show my imperfections. Because what am I supposed to be there and be like, hey, I know everything, I don’t. I have days I communicate awful as a spouse, this is a process. It’s  situational. None of us are great at it. That’s why we need to practice it.


Scott Livingston  1:01:37

To pull the thread off a couple of things that you just said and sort of try to bring this to conclusion because I want to honor everybody’s time. But to me, one of the you talked about the it starts with understanding. And at the end of the day, I’m curious both from you, Dom, because you’ve coached other ethnicities, and you’ve read because you actually commented on on somebody from Indonesia having in their comment, one of the things that’s really interested me ever since I did some work in Oman was how different cultures look at the same thing with a completely different lens. 

And, you know, Dom, you coach the Japanese team, you coach Japanese athletes, fundamentally, understanding also infers that one needs to recognize that you have your bias perception, the way you actually filter the information and how you come to recognize or understand the other person’s and cultural perspective on something. And that’s a big, that’s a big can of worms to get into. But I was always interested in when I worked the National Hockey League, because you had Jap guys, Fin guys, Swedish guys, French guys, English guys, you know, everybody came from different places, and they looked at the same problem with completely different viewpoints. Just wanted to put that out there for both of you, I’d love to hear your thoughts on your experience in Japan, and then come back to Brett. 


Dom Gauthier  1:03:00

Again, the key is the in, you know, getting that engagement that Brett keeps, you know, kept talking about and that that buy in ultimately, right. That’s the key. And when I worked with the Japanese, that’s what I realized that it’s I can’t force things, I just got to, you know, integrate myself slowly understanding them, having them understand me, and then we can get to that place where we communicate, you know, really, right, like, because at first it’s the society, for example, in Japan, where it’s the most extreme, you do this, and you’re told to do that. And you do that, right? You don’t even question it.

 Now, the new generation is changing. And I was dealing with young Japanese athletes. So that’s, you know, back in 2002 to 2006. They were in our late teens in general. So for example, they don’t even really eat with chopsticks. I was using chopsticks better than them. So just you know, stupid image, but to give you a context of how things are changing there. 

So now they’re starting to ask more, why question things a bit more. But the key thing there was that I had to come to a place where I gained their trust. If I don’t gain their trust, I’m just this they call them Gaijin the people who are not, you know, Japanese, but live in Japan, and I was just a Gaijin coming in to get my big salary and then go back to Canada where it’s all I care about, but it was not, I really cared about my athletes and they had to feel that and it took, I would say almost two years to really get to that fully, you know, trust relationship and it took a lot of my tailoring of my communication and adapting to society but adapting to everyone within that group there was about between 10 to 14 athletes depending on the moment of the year. 

And to me that’s something that I took away from my four years in Japan was that and I’m trying to apply them to me that was I guess, you know, when I asked you Brett how do we work that getting out of the comfort zone? I guess I did, I didn’t ever really realize it but that’s how I went and did my course on real communication and trust building relationship building. And I still need to do more. But as you were talking like, Well, I never did these.


Brett Bartholomew  1:05:06

Come hang out with us, come on out, Yeah. Once you can travel, we do them all over. And so we want to


Dom Gauthier  1:05:13

I will be in California for the next year. So should be easy. My wife is going to Stanford. So I’ll be there from, I guess, after the Olympics, after, if they happen the Tokyo Olympics, then I’ll be moving there for a year or so. And what day would that be? So the closing ceremonies are on the ninth of August and on the 10th or 11th, I should be down in Palo Alto. So Beautiful. 


Brett Bartholomew  1:05:35

I think we have one in the Seattle area, but we’ll definitely do something California. I’m glad you brought up Japan and the exam was that word guising. If I heard a.. 


Dom Gauthier  1:05:44



Brett Bartholomew  1:05:44

Gaijin, right? And so we look at that, right. And it’s this misinterpretation of you coming out there, as if it’s a cynic here, right? Like, ah, there’s just some easy to high paying gig. And the Japanese aspect of it is very relevant, because we think of the what happened as a result of the Potsdam Declaration during World War II. And this idea of a misinterpretation of the word mokusatsu. Right. And there’s a great article written about this, called one word, two lessons, and we talked about this at the event because we again, we tried to highlight the ramifications of mistranslations, misinterpretations, miscommunications, like I just made a rap song. And the idea of this for anybody that hadn’t heard of it that’s listening. And this was new to me, too, is we look at these, and I’m not fluent in Japanese, but this is, as I understand it, right. 

You know, Moku, roughly translates into silence and Satsu is kill and it means this Act of keeping a contemptuous almost silence. And so when the United States had said, you know, basically, hey, we would like a declaration of surrender. And at the time, I remember the Emperor of Japan, as a story goes, had basically uttered the word mokusatsu, in response to somebody asking him what, what they thought of what America said, during the Potsdam Declaration, and the word was possibly misinterpreted by the United States, right, because they thought that Japan use it ambiguously. And this interpretation was basically the Japanese Emperor saying, what he thought was we don’t have a comment at this time, or I’m not going to comment at this time. America thought if they were saying it’s not worth commenting on, right, as in, we don’t perceive this threat to be a serious one. And not that long off after and I don’t remember it well enough so I don’t want to lie. The bomb was dropped. Right. 

And so when we think of the ramifications again, a poor communication, aren’t we awfully Cavalier in a thing that is caused bombs, marriages, all these things like, you know, it’s crazy. And then in when we think about attributes, Scotty, and I’d love to, you know, be a fly on the wall that your conversation this afternoon, when we look at leadership, you know, attributes that are considered effective and most cultures are somebody that’s visionary, somewhat dynamic, consistent, skilled, trusting, you know, dependable, what have you. 

But what we find is varied across cultures, meaning these things are not always valued across cultures. Let’s look at one ambition. In some cultures, right in American culture, oh, pioneer spirit Ambit let’s go bigger and better and faster. And some cultures right now we’re playing the long game. And we and then they may be more cautious, which in the western side of the world, do we always want to be that. So we look at caution, being cautious, ambitious, compassionate, humble, independent, risk taking, these things are fluid, they’re not equally valued across cultures. And that also goes into again, understand the context, me teaching a course or an apprenticeship here, received very differently over there. And it’s very similar to traits and behaviors, right? 

We think narcissism is bad. Well, sure if that is a trait, which is a stable disposition, where you’re always narcissistic. But if that’s a selectively deployed behavior, or I’m a brain surgeon, who is the best in the world at operating on tumors. Well, guys, I hate to tell you, if I have to get a brain tumor removed, I want to go to the most narcissistic surgeon possible, because we need people to want to be the fastest and the 100 meter dash we need people to do. 

So you see, this gets very dicey. And it gets very dicey at the messaging, we’re sending coaches and leaders in general, because I use the term synonymously of what is good and bad, and false dichotomies. And that’s led us to a world right now where you couldn’t get more black and white. You couldn’t get more black and white and people couldn’t be further away. All because of the 1% on both sides searing the narrative ubiquitously.


Scott Livingston  1:09:54

Yeah, I was. I don’t know if you’ve ever read the Malcolm Gladwell book, The Outliers, but he talks about Korean Airlines. And there’s this chapter about how it was the worst airline in the world for a long time. And they had a terrible record of crashes. And when they finally did a big forensic deep dive on, it was effectively because the two pilots, because of hierarchical learning and culture, their copilot would never tell the pilot if he was doing something wrong. 

And literally, there were cases where the pilot was flying the plane into a mountain, and the copilot would not say anything, and they crashed. And so they had to, you know, they had to go back in, but when they did the assessment, and then the retraining, they had to realize that there’s different ways, like an American culture versus Korean culture. The way they interpret information is categorically different. 

It’s just you couldn’t find two different ways of interpreting information, intonation, tonality, all these different things like, you know, when you talk about communication, and you know this very well, as you know, the words are one thing, they’re a very small element of it, it’s actually your facial expression, your tonality, and these things have far more importance. So, you know, somebody who’s New Yorkers, like, come on dah-dah-dah, versus a Korean is like, yes, sir. You know, or whatever, you know, like, they interpret information completely different. It’s incredible.


Brett Bartholomew  1:11:16

Yeah, one and Scott, that’s a great example. And that’s why Dom,you know, we have no desire to teach people one way to communicate that’d be awful. Because we could go into a New York, you mentioned the New Yorker, we could watch two New Yorkers, you know, doing that, or we could go into selfie in Boston and watch. And we could think, wow, that the pace of speech is ridiculous. And this, and the slang this is awful. No, that’s the context and the fit, that they’re excellent communicators, because their shared understanding. 

And I think that’s the thing that if there was one trait or behavior, you were saying, hey, Brett, all right, well, that’s interesting information, then what’s the one thing that you think is universal that people need to have improved communication? Real simple, right? It’s one of the big five traits, openness to experience. Because here’s the thing, right? My, Unfortunately, my logline sometimes for people is hey, how is working? I was coming to the workshop, and working on communication and having conversations with strangers about these things. How’s it gonna make you worse? How is just engaging with information around communication? Gonna make it worse? 

Sadly, Scotty, as you know, from the text I sent you the other day, you still have people that basically say, Yeah, but I bartender for 15 years, I think I know how to talk to people. What do you do? What do you do with that? You know what I mean? What do you and then that’s a real response. It’s almost alarming, where it’s not, you know, not that it’s not worth the response. Everybody’s worth your time. 

But like, I just realized that’s the Bruce Lee, the teacher will appear when the student is ready. There’s nothing I could say to that individual to get them to change their mind. You know that is what it is. It’s heartbreaking. I’d lie if I didn’t tell you. It was it was heartbreaking.


Scott Livingston  1:12:57

Well, I, you know, I commend you for your mission Brett and one of the reasons why I wanted to have you on today is because I respect that you know, the work you’re doing so much, and I thought you would enjoy meeting Dom and Dom meeting you. 


Brett Bartholomew  1:13:08

Yeah, absolutely. 


Scott Livingston  1:13:10

You guys, I’ll probably connect again at some future point. But thanks for your time. I want to kind of conclude because we did ask you for an hour and we’re a little over an hour.


Dom Gauthier  1:13:20

It goes by fast. Fast. It goes by fast for our listeners, but yeah, exactly. It’s awesome. Brett, thank you.


Brett Bartholomew  1:13:29

Yeah, my pleasure. Thank you for the discussion prompts. They were, they’re phenomenal. We’ll simulcast this on our podcast as well.


Scott Livingston  1:13:36

Cool. That’ll be awesome. 


Dom Gauthier  1:13:38



Scott Livingston  1:13:39

Well, guys, thanks everybody for the time today. It was fantastic conversation as usual when I get this guy on any session with me and also with Dom so thank you for your time guys and have a great day. 


Brett Bartholomew  1:13:51

Take care Guys.

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