In Art Of Coaching Podcast, Podcasts

With more than 70 Olympians and 30 medals to his name, there aren’t many coaches as prolific as Stu McMillan. 

But did you know he’d had 38 jobs by the time he was 37 (including one as a “baked potato boy”)? 

How about that he didn’t start working in elite track & field until his 40’s?

This week, we had the chance to sit down (in person!) with Stu and discuss topics and questions he seldom addresses:

  1. The ONE thing every coach needs to learn and take more seriously 
  2. His unique definition of effective leadership and how he implements it daily
  3. Where he draws the line on sharing personal and business information with his staff
  4. Why more coaches should start sharing their work publicly

Stu McMillan is the co-owner and CEO of ALTIS. He has been a professional S&C and Sprints Coach for over 28 years, and has worked with professional and amateur athletes in a variety of sports – with the focus being on power and speed development.

Stu has personally coached over 70 Olympians at 7 Olympic Games; over 30 of whom have won Olympic medals. Most recently, he coached British sprinter Jodie Williams to a sixth-place finish in the 400m at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

If you want to learn more about Stu’s work at Altis, you can visit To connect with Stu, you can find him on Twitter –  @StuartMcMillan1 and Instagram – @fingermash

If you have any questions you would like answered in Part 2, please submit them on our website OR email them to us at

In addition to sending us your questions, don’t forget to register HERE for our FREE workshop on June 28th, as we discuss the slimy topic of self-promotion.  We know selling yourself and your work can feel gross.  But if you’re creating real value that can help even one person, we believe you have a responsibility to share it.  If you don’t, either someone else will or you’ll be passed over and left behind.  Let us give you tools and strategies to do so in a tactical and ethical way, ultimately allowing you to make the impact you want.

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Brett Bartholomew  0:00  

Yeah, I mean, Stu, the fact is, we’re live right now. And you want to debate whether we’ve been called the thinking man’s Joe Rogan. But these aren’t our words. These are reviewers somebody reviewed us and said that 


Stu McMillan  0:11  

and how much did you pay her? 


Brett Bartholomew  0:12  

I mean, I don’t know her, Stu. Do you know now whether she’s a bot or not a positivity bot, which I don’t think exists, do positivity bots exists. We know bots that troll the internet exist. You think there’s ones that just tell people you’re great? 


Stu McMillan  0:23  

All bots are positivity bots? I’ve never seen a negativity bot in my life.


Brett Bartholomew  0:27  

What are you talking about the ones that get on social media and tell people all the awful things you’ve never seen it


Stu McMillan  0:31  

never pure positivity. 


Brett Bartholomew  0:33  

It’s a lie. 


Stu McMillan  0:34  

Pure happy. 


Brett Bartholomew  0:35  

Which brings me to my first topic. So Stu McMillan with us, everybody. Sue Macmillan has a varied background, as do many of you as listeners. And I told Stu, hey, when you come up here, even though you’ve trained gold medalists, Olympians, you’ve done all this. Yeah, you were also a DJ, what else like, it’s kinda like my dad was like, I’ve done it all. I used to know how to do that. What are all the jobs you’ve done? We’ve heard the nice buy at the beginning, but what are all just like, the lascivious bottom feeder jobs you’ve done to give you this worldly wisdom you have today?


Stu McMillan  1:07  

In 2006, myself and my office mates, set it up in our office, Matt Jordan, Scotty Ma, Jason pool was up in Calgary. And we went through our list of jobs. And at that point, I was 37. And I had had 38 jobs, 


Brett Bartholomew  1:28  

37, 38 jobs 


Stu McMillan  1:29  

38 jobs in  37 years 


Brett Bartholomew  1:30  

So, you know, I always think, big fan of Mike Rowe. If Yugi, one of the one of the audience members micro is a dirty jobs show called Dirty Jobs get cultured, this is a Canadian kind of thing. I think that’s an issue. Mike Rose, my unicorn interview, and he did dirty. So he just went out did crap jobs, literally, and showed behind the scenes. And there was some that he couldn’t show apparently, it was like a crime scene, cleanup guy at one point in time, just so people go, splat. You know, he’s got to clean it up. Out of those jobs. Give me three that you never want to do again. And one that you’re like, everybody should have to do this. Like I think everybody should have to wait tables at once in their lives, because it would make them more tolerant to people. Right? I’m just giving an example. I do think people should have to either wait tables or be in some customer service type job. That was huge for me. Right? So give me three that you never want to do again. And one that was invaluable.


Stu McMillan  2:26  

Yeah, I think the three that I’d never want to do again, there’s also three that are invaluable. Oh, okay. So one of the same. And one would be dealing with people in the service industry. So I was I started off in the service industry when I was 12. I was a baked potato boy,


Brett Bartholomew  2:41  

big potato boy. Can you say that in the microphone so people can actually hear it. 


Stu McMillan  2:44  

I was a baked potato boy. 


Brett Bartholomew  2:46  

See, listen to that. That’s like that what is it? What do they call that an ASMR? ASMR. 


Stu McMillan  2:50  

Potato boy. I don’t know what an ASMR is. It’s okay. Yeah. So what I did is I washed the potatoes and wrapped the potatoes in the foil, and then made little holes in the potatoes and put him in the oven. That was my job when I was 12. Where


Brett Bartholomew  3:03  

Where did you work? Where was this?


Stu McMillan  3:07  

I don’t know some little Steak restaurant.


Brett Bartholomew  3:09  

And if you did the baked potato Boy 


Stu McMillan  3:11  

Yes, correct.Well, that after three months, I moved up the dishwasher. 


Brett Bartholomew  3:15  

Beautiful. And then you own the place?


Stu McMillan  3:17  

as baked potato boil is 2.85 an hour. $2.85 an hour when I started washing dishes. I was 3.10


Brett Bartholomew  3:23  

as a 25 an hour. I thought you’re talking 285 That’s like what you charge for consulting now. Right?


Stu McMillan  3:28  

Oh, no, no, that’s for five minutes. Yeah, it was like that was whatever right? But that started me off in the service industry and working with people being a busboy, a waiter, a bartender, a bar, boy, whatever. I think that was I hated it. I got to where I really couldn’t stand working with people could not stand it. 


Brett Bartholomew  3:50  

To be honest. You’re still kind of there


Stu McMillan  3:51  

100% Yeah. But that’s what I do now. Right? So I’ve got that taught me a certain level of empathy and patience for dealing with people that didn’t necessarily like that’s invaluable. Right. And I mean, I worked in the service industry for close to 20 years. And it was really important. So I agree with you. I think everybody should have to wait tables or do something in the service industry, hospitality industry, where you have to work with people talk to people communicate with people, whether that’s staff, customers, whatever. I remember my last day of waiting tables, worked at a fish restaurant in Calgary. And somebody this is a businessman’s lunch, and it was like 10 of them. And they were all getting drunk and they were all idiots. And I hated every single one of them. And I’m serving this guy, some clam chowder, and he just moved he jerked slightly right. And his elbow knocked my elbow and I poured a little bit of this clam chowder on his suit. He yelled at me.


Brett Bartholomew  4:53  

I mean, I’d expect now


Stu McMillan  4:54  

I’m a grown man. 


Brett Bartholomew  4:56  

How old are you at the time you said 


Stu McMillan  4:58  

close to 30 My late 20s 


Brett Bartholomew  5:00  

Yeah, man 


Stu McMillan  5:01  

and he yelled at me. Like this is , so that was it. Like I yelled right back at him. I walked off the job and that second,


Brett Bartholomew  5:07  

but to be fair, you spilled clam chowder. 


Stu McMillan  5:09  

Oh, he knocked my arm.  It’s his fault. 


Brett Bartholomew  5:12  

Was it New England or Manhattan 


Stu McMillan  5:14  

That was the white one. So it’s New England, right? 


Brett Bartholomew  5:16  

Yeah. Jim Cary, you know, flashback Caesar and Ciara. Yeah.


Stu McMillan  5:18  

So that was my last day I walked off the job. I never did that. Again. I said, I’m done with this. I’m done. So that was for me. Like there’s important lessons in that job. Another job that I thought was, can go both ways was I was a postman.


Brett Bartholomew  5:36  

Like, how big was a town that you serviced? And this is when you hear often? So postman where? Where were you


Stu McMillan  5:41  

in Calgary? Calgary is a big town. Yeah. And a postman? It’s a hard job to get, because it’s a great job. But it sucks for five years.


Brett Bartholomew  5:50  

Isn’t that our postal service? Employee person that services is neighborhood? I think she’d argue it’s a great, like she just changed smokes. And cackle. Have you ever seen funny farm with Chevy Chase? No. All right, well, in that they think they’re moving to this place that, they’re trying to get out of city life. And so they moved to a place called Redbud, Illinois. And they go there and they realize they’re the out of towners, nobody likes. And all of a sudden, like there’s this post office person that just launches the mail out and goes and just tackles the entire time. It’s a recurring like thread and movie


Stu McMillan  6:23  

 Yeah, that was me 


Brett Bartholomew  6:24  

very much like our just changed, smokes throws packages often gives our mail to the neighbor. It’s okay when it’s like something small. But when it’s our child’s toys, it gets concerning, but does not enjoy your job and suffers no fools. So better job in Canada. 


Stu McMillan  6:38  

Yeah, I don’t know. 


Brett Bartholomew  6:39  

Alright, well, tell me more tell you about the job. 


Stu McMillan  6:41  

So when you’re starting, first of all, it’s a really hard job to get. So there was like 4000 applicants, and they hired like nine people. And I was one of those nine. So I felt like, 


Brett Bartholomew  6:51  

accomplishment check. 


Stu McMillan  6:52  

Yeah, exactly, I felt pretty proud of myself. So I’m kind of, there’s a sunk cost fallacy to this. So it’s, I ended up staying this job for about six months, only because of that sunk cost I should have walked out at the first week. But when you’re just starting off as a postman, I don’t know what it’s like down here in the US. But in Canada, you basically get these it’s called a walk, right? You know, this, whatever walk you do, that’s your route, whatever. And you only get the walks that people are that have either called in sick for, or they’re on holiday. So your walk changes either daily or weekly. So you don’t get a chance to learn it, you don’t get a chance to learn the box. So that because the first thing you do is you go the depot and you sort the mail, so the all the mails in this big bin, and you put it into this little box, so all this slots, right? 


Brett Bartholomew  7:42  



Stu McMillan  7:43  

And if you don’t know which slot is you just look in the envelope, you see the address, and then you’re looking for the address on this big box, this big wall of slots, it takes you minutes, per piece per envelope, minutes. So I would there’ll be days where I wouldn’t get out of the depot before 4pm. I get there at 7am. And it would take me eight hours just to sort my mail. And then I have to go on walk and deliver it. So I’d be finishing up at 7pm 8pm you get paid time and a half for it. But it’s man, it sucked. Like it really, really sucked. And every single day you get a new one. And it’s the one like I said is people have phoned in sick for and you don’t phone a sick if it’s a nice walk. 


Brett Bartholomew  8:22  



Stu McMillan  8:23  

you only find it sick. If it’s lots of hills, and it’s icy and there’s dogs. And it was a nightmare. absolute nightmare, but and that’s what you do as a rookie, right? So as you get better and better and better, you can start applying for these better walks. And it all goes on seniority. So if you’ve been there for five years, or 10 years or 15 years, you got this great sweet walk, that might just be a couple of apartment buildings or a couple office buildings. You get in there seven, and you’re done for the day attempt. Some of these guys are finished at 10. And they’ve got another full time job or getting paid for the full time right so there’s a lesson in that where all right this Yeah, this may suck. And what you do may suck to begin with but if you show a little bit of patience, little diligence and just work through it, eventually maybe hopefully, possibly get it right turned out okay, you know, you might get a good walk.


Brett Bartholomew  9:11  

And it makes me think of I mean, that ties in well, I think to coaching and a lot of leadership type themes in that jobs like that are a little bit thankless. Meaning that you do your walk well everybody gets their mail, you’re not really going to hear about it. You do something wrong, you’re gonna get blown up and coaching I think sometimes I mean, this is why people say oh, I don’t do it for the recognition I do. And that’s all great, right? But like there are times as a coach, you still want feedback you want to know it can be very easy to kind of just, you get on this path you even though you try to test your own biases all this it can be thankless, I mean to a degree. I know that I’ve felt sometimes as a coach even though I built relationships and deep relationships with some sometimes and maybe this is just the dark side of myself kind of speak on wonder. Like, if I died tomorrow if I quit doing this tomorrow, like how many people would actually be miss me, how many outside of family outside of this whatever? What impact? Did I really I started wondering about that almost like 15 years in now you screw something up, right? You’re gonna hear about that immediately. But I just remember there got to be a point in time, where sometimes coaching athletes felt a bit, almost like I was a transaction to them, because you want to act like alright. And, you shared a lot about mentoring over the years, right? I wrote conscious coaching, you’d love to say, Oh my God, with every single athlete, we’ve worked with the deepest, most rich, rewarding relationship ever. But no leader gets that with everybody they lead. No teacher gets out with everybody they coach, like, Do you ever feel like anything you’ve like Do you feel like that job kind of helped you with the thankless portion of it? Or is that never even been a thought in your mind?


Stu McMillan  10:45  

No. I don’t feel like that job really helps me but I relate 100% to what you just said. And I would say that it’s I would go further than that. I would say a vast majority of the athletes that most coaches work with, don’t really appreciate the coaches, they definitely don’t appreciate the work that goes into it. vast majority, like it’s in the high 90s, especially at the elite and as you know, right. And it’s something that I mean, we can get into, but it’s,  I’ve coached athletes in a number of different sports at a number of different levels. And what I found, I’d be interested in what you think about this, but the higher the level of the athlete, the more elite that athlete is, the less they really appreciate that process, the less they appreciate the people that are helping them, the less of the appreciate the coach, the support staff and so on. Whereas, it’s like I worked in bobsled for almost 20 years, and Bobsledders are by nature, failed athletes in something else. They failed football players or their failed track athletes. And they end up like no one. No one grows up hoping to be an Olympic


Brett Bartholomew  11:57  

 Right? Nobody ever says that was true runnings, this is I want to do 


Stu McMillan  12:01  

nobody does that. Right. Lots of people do grow up wanting to be Usain Bolt or going to the NFL or whatever, right? So you’re already buying that, you’re failed at something. So it gives these athletes a certain humility, that they appreciate almost anything and anybody that’s helping them on their journey. Yeah. Which was, which is awesome, right? You can get a lot from that as a coach. And then when I moved into, elite track and field and elite track and field is not a sport that I started working in until 2010. Like, late in my career, I started coaching in the 80s. 


Brett Bartholomew  12:33  

How old? Are you at that time?


Stu McMillan  12:34  



Brett Bartholomew  12:35  



Stu McMillan  12:35  

  1. So I’ve already been coaching for a long time. And that takes took some getting used to for me. And I definitely had to draw back on experiences outside of coaching, to be able to get more used to that. And I would say the one job that I really did draw back from is my dad’s a civil engineer, right? So my first job or actually, when I first really started working, was in summers, so I finished school, 12 years old, and I’d go on to construction sites and sweep up, I’d be a, basic labor. Yeah, just cleaning the job site. And I did that every summer, every single summer up until my mid 20s. And, you know, man,  I get so much respect for people who work with their hands. Like has so much respect for those guys. And they get no credit. No, thanks. No appreciation from anybody. And I, hated that work. I could not stand that work.


Brett Bartholomew  13:31  

You get some feedback, though. I mean, you build it, you get to see if it’s quality, if it’s durable. Sure. Yeah,


Stu McMillan  13:36  

you do. Yeah. But you don’t get anybody. Now, beacon actually, hey, great job. Yeah, nobody. Yeah,


Brett Bartholomew  13:42  

nobody’s ever seen you had 20 years and be like, the guy that built this, you know, nobody cares, right?


Stu McMillan  13:46  

So that’s my, as I said, My dad’s a civil engineer and at his home up in Calgary. He’s got above his in the living room above the couch. He’s got six or seven big photographs of these major projects that he was in charge of building. You know, that’s a great reminder for him. It’s also a great reminder for me, right, because nobody at the end of these projects, or even during the building these projects say, hey, Duncan, great job on building that but he can look back and see that and say Are they  take some appreciation for that same way that I look back at, some of the athletes have may not show that appreciation for the work that we’ve done together. I can still look back and be proud about doing the work that I put in there.


Brett Bartholomew  14:33  

Yeah, and you’re right about? There’s a lot of thoughts on this, that I think it’s a big reason why we felt called to take the lessons of sports performance and bring them out into the leadership world. Because I don’t think it’s something that’s talked about, honestly, within sports performance, but it’s recognized elsewhere. In our realm. People often want to say, well, I don’t care about the recognition. I don’t care about this. I don’t care about the things, but we know that they’re inherently full of it because they seek jobs to work with quote, quote, the best athletes or they want to get jobs at, label type schools and big companies, it would be like somebody being Ah, I don’t really care about working, for a big company in tech, but then you ask where they applied. And it’s always Apple and Google, and things like that you’re like, your actions don’t really match your words. Coaches really want that kind of validation and recognition. I think humans do in general, it no matter what, when you get to a point in your career, you think, Alright, I’m not always going to get feedback in what I do, but you do want to lay your head at night and know that like, what did I have in the tank? And could I kind of coach in these circumstances? Could I make it at the perceived best? So I think most coaches are not really honest about that. Because it’s a problem in the field when people say, I can’t get a job. And you say, Well, where are you applying? And it’s always these name brands. 


Now, I also think like other industries recognize that inherently, because they know that, it’s thankless. I mean, think about like the market right now. And the things in the companies that are crashing, are on hiring freezes, or I think of like Elon Musk, who was just derided in the media the other day by the President, because he’s doing a hiring freeze. In a makeshift recession, there comes a point where, you can literally build rockets that go into space, you can do alternative vehicle, you can provide the Ukraine with satellites, and you’re still gonna do wrong, like just nobody’s ever really happy. And I think another thing that you said that is interesting is you’re right at the highest level, it’s even worse with athletes at the highest level, because they start to think while they might have an appreciation of you or me or somebody else, as a coach, they do think you’re replaceable. And then I think it takes a while for them to realize that, okay, it’s not as easy to find kind of this whole package, and they have preferences, they may cash you out. And they’d be like, well, I like the way this guy does that. I like the way, but our preferences aren’t really the same as our needs. So I found that it takes athletes sometimes if there is that relationship, that doesn’t work. In my experience, they maybe went through two to three years, some other coaches until they kind of realized, okay, this is actually what I need. And if that wasn’t true, you wouldn’t see it in the movies, right? Like the Rocky movies, somebody goes through a different trainer, and they come back and they do this are you think of Tyson? If Tyson wouldn’t have lost custom moto? Right, you could argue that he still would have been the greatest in his prime. 


So, here’s my question. I think most coaches and leaders would just say if I say, Well, how do you deal with that? Then? How do you deal with that when you get later into your career, and you just kind of feel like you’ve poured your all into it. You have all this stuff behind the craft, but maybe somebody just didn’t appreciate I think a lot of coaches will just be like, Ah, you learn to live with it, you move on whatever. But how would you describe those emotions when it hit you the first time did it make you angry? Did it make you feel like what’s the point? Did you ever feel resentful? Or were you always just kind of numb to it?


Stu McMillan  17:33  

You can’t ramble on for five minutes and then ask four questions in a question. 


Brett Bartholomew  17:37  

Yeah, well, I’m asking a question.


Stu McMillan  17:40  

Which question do you want me to answer


Brett Bartholomew  17:43  

 that one right there, you’re wise ask you know, this is like Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. So I provide perspective, give context, 


Stu McMillan  17:51  

I understand that. 


Brett Bartholomew  17:51  

Yeah, well, they get on with it quick trying to get 


Stu McMillan  17:53  

down to one question,it’s, first of all, I agree 100%, with what you say, with the with your thesis within that, if you’re saying that you don’t care about whether people are appreciating what you’re doing, you’re probably lying to yourself, because people don’t appreciate what you’re doing. 


Brett Bartholomew  18:11  



Stu McMillan  18:11  

You probably suck at what you’re doing. Because people don’t appreciate it. Yeah. It’s the most human of emotions, right? You want to feel like you’re valued. if somebody says that, no, I don’t care about that. They’re totally 100% lying to you on to themselves. More importantly, so for sure. And I get frustrated when I feel it. And I feel like that lack of value, that lack of appreciation, from whoever I’m interacting with, if I’m putting myself into something into whatever the interaction is, whatever that relationship is, and I feel like that’s not being appreciated or valued. I feel like I’m being disrespected. And I will, first of all, I asked myself whether I am giving enough here that okay, am I really should I be being appreciated for what I’m doing here? Or is this on them? where they’re not just they’re just not appreciating it. it’s something that they’re not respecting, to the point where I would expect them to expect and I’m at a point in my career now where I just won’t work with people like that anymore. It’s pretty simple. I don’t need to coach another Olympian or another gold medalist or another professional athlete, I don’t care. You need to be a part of this with me. you need to be appreciative of everything that’s surrounding you in this process. You need to appreciate what this requires from you. And you need to appreciate the people that are around you helping you do that. And if and I will work with them because, you’re not born that way. And many of the athletes that we work with And you’ve worked with many of them as well, right? When you work with NFL players, your typical NFL football player has been the best athlete at every level of their development. And because of that, there is a tendency for them to take their own ability for granted. Yeah. And when they’re taking him for granted, and all the people that have been a part of that process with them, they take their help and their support for granted. So I get it, I understand it, you have to understand that context. And then But then you have to work with them. And I will do that to some extent. But if it’s still clear, and very clear that they’re not interested in that, then just, I’m checking out as your that’s not a relationship I’m interested in having at this point in my career and life.


Brett Bartholomew  20:49  

But how would you have handled that at another point? Early on just


Stu McMillan  20:53  

just as you say, right, I get frustrated. I say, alright, well, what can I get out of this? And if it’s furthering my own ambitions, if it’s furthering my learning, if it’s furthering my own development, my own development as a coach my own development as a human being, then I’ll deal with it, it’s okay. I’m alright with that. If it’s furthering my development as a communicator, so I can better understand where they’re coming from be more empathetic for why they are treating, not just me this way. But if they’re treating me this way, it’s chances are they’re treating everybody this way, right. So I can, so there’s an opportunity there for me try to better understand why they are this way. And I feel like I’ve got that now, I don’t need to continue learning those lessons. I’ve learned those lessons at this point in my career. I don’t need to continue that. So that’s my, what, I guess he gets you a question early on, it would frustrate me. And then secondary too that, I would just reframe it as an opportunity for me to move forward, learn from it, and use whatever the situation is to further my own development, whether that be reputational, or whether that be, alright, is this something internal or intrinsic? I can take from this.


Brett Bartholomew  22:12  

I’m glad you mentioned that piece, like being honest about figuring out how all right, I can get my feelings about it. Or I can leverage it for my own ambitions as well, because I think that that’s something that the nondiscretionary listener would think, Oh, that’s manipulative. That’s not right. That’s not this, that’s not. And this is a whole thing that I’ve fallen out of love with, with traditional views of leadership. And it being squeaky clean, and people just saying it, I’ll just be a servant, just be a servant, be this be that the reality is, you’re not going to be able to coach or lead at the highest level like you have, without getting your hands dirty a little bit, and without also being able to take certain situations and spin them like that. and I because there’s some coaches that will say, hey, well, I’ll ask them the same question I had, or they’ll ask me the same question I asked you. And I think they want us just to be like, Well, I just, I really find out, what things mean the most of them, and I tap into that empathy, and I unlock them. That’s it, I unlock moments, I know, certain people aren’t gonna like you, certain people aren’t gonna like you, they’re not going to fall in line. But the only reason I was able to write about those archetypes and things in conscience for every, it took so many interactions with the same kind of person in similar situations for me to learn how to navigate them. So it’s like the first fight you get into, you’re going to take a punch on the nose, you’re going to do this. And then you learn how to nobody really learns how to counter or create leverage in a negotiation, or to how to navigate even just a constraint more successfully in the environment, if we’re talking motor learning, until they’ve eaten it. And so like, why not just say, Okay, this is how you’re going to behave. And this is what I’m going to do for it. This is how you’re going to behave, right. I’m gonna, like real life is the best content. It’s the best learning. But I’m just glad that you mentioned that because I think that some people it’s like, they want an immediate out. Even somebody that I asked him a question for this episode. And they talked about, they’re not in performance, but they’re talking about how they’re not a job that they like, and they really want to get to their dream job. But there’s so many, they need the money and this and that. And I say, Well, what are the things in this job right now that work for you? He’s like, Well, it really does have the best education in terms of coding skills and cool than us that like quit worrying about the next job or the next thing before you handle this. And I just I feel like people struggle with that saying, What can I get selfishly from this and realizing that that’s not always bad to be selfish in the moment, so you can be more selfless later on? Does that concept? Right? .


Stu McMillan  24:39  

Yeah 100% I mean, that’s, we live our lives like we see a foot in front of us. And sometimes we need to take a slightly bigger picture view of okay, this is where I’m at right now, this is frustrating, but what can I learn from this opportunity to what opportunities can I take from What’s happening within this foot now, that can further my development? Two feet from now three feet from now a mile from now? Yeah. And I feel like sometimes we forget about that this is a long time that we’re here. Right? And what is like, this is this is something I, somehow I figured out pretty early in my coaching life, that I wanted to be as good a coach as I possibly could. And I was very strategic with everything that I had sort of how I progress through my development. And if something frustrated me, that was an opportunity for me to work on getting better at that, which was frustrating me at the time. Yeah. And how would that then make me a better coach long term, I didn’t get stuck in it. This is really pissing me off right now. And I’m just getting more and more and more and more frustrated, because you’re not moving forward. In that point, you have to, okay, where where’s the opportunity in this? And that’s, I mean, it’s a bit of a cliche at this point, right? Reframing things, but we’re constantly have to reframe constantly. And I see zero issues with that, the better of a leader I am, the better of a coach I am, the better of a communicator that I am, then the better the people that I’m leading. And coaching and communicating with, the better their experiences are with me. Yeah, so it’s not about me now. Sure, it is, but it isn’t right. You know, it’s both


Brett Bartholomew  26:28  

Yeah. And well, and building off of that, coached long time done a lot of different jobs, you own a company, right? you’ve grown this company, you’ve seen the good, the bad, the ugly. So you’re a mentor, a leader, a coach, a guide in a lot of different ways. And this next question is meant to be broad. I just want to see how you attack it. How at this point out of the numerous hatch, worn, do you personally even define effective leadership? And I’m not looking for a textbook, I’m not looking for anything. Just.


Stu McMillan  27:08  

That’s, it’s such a broad question. That it’s, and it’s funny, right? Because that’s probably a question that I that all of us who do lead need to start with. If you understand what effective leadership is, it’s probably something that we need to put more thought into. I feel like a good leader is the one that understands and can get the people whom they are leading to pull in a cohesive direction towards a shared purpose or function. And what does that mean? That means okay, maybe it’s an identifying what that purpose is, what that function is, whatever that of the organization of the people of the athletes that you’re coaching, whatever that is, what is the purpose? What is the function, what are all the pieces and the parts that come together to try to, or to interact to further that purpose. And then putting in a system and putting components in place in which you can effectively and efficiently provide an opportunity for all those parts to interact interrelate in an effective and efficient ways to further that purpose. You know what I mean?, I mean, that’s for me. Like, it’s a very broad way of putting it, but that’s I think about from a coaching perspective, right now, what is, the purpose is as a coach, is to try to create a way in which the athlete can perform at their very best, get the most squeezed the most potential, the most athletic potential out of the athlete as we possibly can. And alongside that means, okay, we got to keep the athlete as healthy as we possibly can. So what does that mean? That means that all of the component parts that come together to further that purpose you have to align, you all have to agree with what the purpose is. And they all have to come together to further that purpose in effective and efficient ways. And a coach is one who understands how all of these different things interact, to feed that purpose. And then understanding when any of those pieces of that big massive puzzle are out of alignment, or are pulling in another direction, and to either nudge them back into the proper direction, or cut them loose.


Brett Bartholomew  29:45  

The thing that I think that I always listened for when I asked that question, which is purposefully broad, and the you said many good things but the number one thing I always listened for is the interaction between things which you stated numerous times, right like and what I mean by that is, we get this idea that leadership is one thing when it’s not, it’s an interaction between the leaders and the lead, right? Whether you want to call them stakeholders, followers, anything like that the history of the organization or people between them, the context, the context, especially all these, it is an interaction as framework. Whereas I think, you look at any of these books that I read coming up, and how many books you could have written at least 1000 books by now with how prolifically you, write People still like to think there’s traits to great coaches, that there’s traits to great athletes, and they’re sure we love this trait based approach. All you’ve got to be this, like I said, before, you’ve got to be a servant, you’ve got to be patient, you’ve got to be a great listener. And so I like that you said interaction, is because well, do you really need to be all those classic versions of things to be successful? Or is there a point when those things can actually work against you in some contexts? We joked off air, we joked off air, man, you’re yelling a lot, and why are you so loud, we just give each other a hard time. And I remember even talking to my mother, who’s got a very, her voice projects, and I go, mom, people say, got two ears and one mouth. And she’s like, Well, yeah, mines pretty loud. So I must have a lot to say. And she just kind of ribs me by like, Why do you think that there’s still this obsession with traits, as opposed to more people holding your view that No, no, a trait doesn’t make a great leader in China, and a great leader in this, like, why don’t people take more of an interactionist view? As coaches and leaders? Why do we struggle with that? Why do we want black and white? Why do we want templates so that we can act a certain way to ensure success?


Stu McMillan  31:41  

Because it’s easy.


Brett Bartholomew  31:44  

Why do we want ease as


Stu McMillan  31:45  

a simple, right? that is also a human trait, you know, we sort of, we tend to many of us, and I would say, I’d argue, a vast majority of us just kind of want peace. And we crave simplicity. And we tend to avoid the complex and the chaotic, 


Brett Bartholomew  31:45  

we want control too 


Stu McMillan  31:45  

want control. And we’re so it’s the way in which I look at this. And I feel like, it’s I think we’re saying the same thing, but I’ve come at it from a slightly different way. If you’re most functional organizations, your most functional, whether it’s a sporting team, or a multinational industrial organization, whether it’s a government, whether it’s a coach, whatever it is, there is a set and defined and shared agreement around what the function or the purposes,, that is primary priority number one, is every person, every body that’s in that organization, that team, that athlete, group, whatever, has an understanding what the purpose is, and it’s shared. Secondary, and this is the second most important thing is the interaction between all those component parts within it. So number one, you have to have the purpose that has to be well defined, has to be shared and agreed upon between all of these people, secondary to that is then establishing an environment or a culture in such a way in which all of those component parts within that system within within that organization within that team, whatever it is, have a way to interact and interrelate in effective and functional ways. 


Now, the greater the team, the bigger the organization, the greater the system, the bigger the government, the more difficult that that becomes. Because now you’ve got more and more component parts that you need to be interacting, and more and more component parts that have to have a shared vision, a shared understanding, a shared agreement with whatever the purpose and the function is. So we kind of bias towards more simple systems, because they are easier for us to predict. And they are easier for us to control. As you say, most importantly, and we tend to and this is totally human nature. And it’s it’s how we’ve become we’ve learned so much about this world that we’re living in. Because we’ve done a really good job of digging deep into single, singular component parts, whatever that component part is, and then defining it and learning about it to its nth degree. Right, it’s just called reductionism. It’s why we’re here. It’s why we understand so much about the world that we know is because of this reductive scientific process. But when we become so reduced, and so we focus so much on the small component parts within the system. We lose perspective of how this little one component part interacts wit All the other component parts, and we lose perspective with how it now is where it’s facing in respect to whatever the function or the purpose of that system is. And as we do this 100%, you’re right is because it’s easier to control. If you got three parts in the system, and they all interact, then we can guess, with pretty much certainty how this interaction is going to go you’ve got 3 million parts, it becomes significantly more chaotic, 


Brett Bartholomew  35:29  

right? It’s like the weather versus Yeah, 


Stu McMillan  35:30  

100% 100%. And, there’s some days where I just want it to be a super simple system.  all of us will. But I really get off on the chaos and the complexity that’s way more interesting to me. Way more interesting, it’s way more challenging. and there is definitely still times in a day, in a week, in a month, in a year in a career, where I just need time to just talk about it just can this be a little bit easier


Brett Bartholomew  35:58  

when I want to? I’m going to interrupt here for a minute, because I want to know, at what point you just really realize that you embrace that chaos. And here’s the context of that daily, and I can’t imagine how many you get if I get this many you get coaches that reach out that how do I phrase this? not only do they want simple answers for things, but they generally are interested in communication or leadership or being a better coach. But they’ll say I and I’m going to dive into that more once I’m kind of done with these courses on X’s and O’s stuff are technical or whatever, right? They still, there’s an acknowledgment that I need to embrace this chaos. But not until I’m kind of done doing the things that I like to do. At what point did you just kind of realize, you know, what, no, this is the direction I have to go. I have to lean into the complexity. I mean, I’d have to imagine, if I knew nothing about you, I’d have to imagine I mean, you with your vast history working with the Olympics, right? That’s and I don’t know if I can say this without upsetting some people. But the Olympics are there’s a lot of crooked crap that goes on in the Olympics, governing bodies. And all this was it, you just looking at the landscape and being like I am in I lead and coach in a landscape that doesn’t play by these rules. They’re not squeaky clean. So like, I’ve got to learn how to do these things too obviously have more ethical ways. But I’ve got to learn how to navigate this space where nothing makes sense the way that it should. And I’ve just got to learn how to be more resourceful. Because I want to see if you can talk to these people through this interaction and say, like, wake up, right? Like you can bide your time learning these things. But inevitably paths lead to chaos and complexity, if you want to lead at the highest level. And I think they do. I don’t think there’s any jobs out there where people are not leading at a high level. And it’s not a shit show to some degree. I just don’t I don’t think anybody I don’t even think companies like Amazon have clean, organized systems. I think on the front they do. But can you imagine how many lawsuits these people wake up to daily? How many? All that so like, what what was that turning point to you? When you’re like, alright, this is what I’ve got to lean into. I can’t just no more black and white. This is our rollin.


Stu McMillan  38:08  

Yeah, I mean, I think great leadership can exist within simple systems as well, though, you can be a great leader of a really super simple system. That’s, that’s not chaotic. Yeah. So it’s, they’re not, they’re not too totally 


Brett Bartholomew  38:23  

Can you give an example. 


Stu McMillan  38:24  

Well, I mean, if you live in a city of 40 people, and you have a company that’s just you and your brother, and your best friend, you can be a great leader. And you can have a great company. And you’ve and you’ve got a super simple system. That doesn’t mean you’re not a great leader.


Brett Bartholomew  38:40  

Yeah but you might think you’re hotshot,


Stu McMillan  38:43  

but you can be great. You can. Absolutely, you can be great. Okay, you don’t need a million people,


Brett Bartholomew  38:48  

yeah, that’s, I think that’s a good message. 


Stu McMillan  38:50  

And you don’t require the chaos. Yeah, to be great, a great leader, you can be a great leader of simple systems. Now, to get to your question. I’ve always been that way. Number one, so my bias has always been towards creativity, and curiosity. Like I was an artist growing up, that’s what I should have been, like. So I left high school and I went to art school, only because I was quote, unquote, the artist. And that was expected of me. I was going to go and work in art. I don’t know what I was going to do. But I was super creative.


Brett Bartholomew  39:24  

What your dad think of that, at the time, given his background. I mean, he said, he’s an engineer, right? 


Stu McMillan  39:28  

He’s a civil engineer, but he was, like, he’s a great artist as well. Right? So at that point was I going to be an architect and that’s that’s how I was going to take my art, or I was going to do something else. I went into something that’s called Visual Communications, VC, advertising art, which definitely wasn’t for me, but that was  I was always creative right like with most creative people are the ones that see connections between things that other people may not see. Right. So it’s kind of you know, my dad was like that my mother was also like that as well. My mother is an avid reader. She’s read Two to three books a week, from the day I was born. Right. So it’s that’s the household I grew up in. So I was always had this creative way about me that was more interested in the connections between things than in, the minutiae, or the or the details of what those things that are in and of themselves. Yeah, so that was always my bias. And then when I met Dan path, so Dan path is a coach is the head coach of Altice been my primary mentor for to almost my entire coaching career, I met him in 1995. And one of the first things he said to me was, coaching is like spinning plates. And may not mean anything to young kids anymore. But back then there was this thing that these long, long poles, eight feet tall, or whatever, and you’d get a plate on this pole, and you’d spin the pole, and the plates would spin up on these poles. And he’s really good guys on Johnny Carson, show, whatever it might be able to get like this, row of 20 plates spinning all at the same time. And he said, great coaches understand not or don’t just understand how to keep the plate spinning, or can spin multiple plates, but understand how the interaction of all those plates are affecting each other. And when the spin rate is slowing down on that one over here. And when to get to that one, it went to get over to this one. And he said, so great. Coaches are just master generalists, they have to know a little bit about a lot of things and how all of those little things have to interact. So it was sort of default in me for when I was very young, to see connections in things. And then when I started getting really serious about coaching, which was in the mid 90s, that was defaulted into me, then this is what a good coach is. And that became sort of my objective, I need to know more about more. And then the interactions between all of these different things. And this is and that’s again, it goes down to a system, right? There’s all these component parts, all these cogs within this system, think about everything that we need to know about as coaches all the ologies, all of these different things, pedagogy and all of this stuff, we don’t need to know just about it. But how all of these little component parts interact?  and how this how they connect, which is why I think it’s so important to give you a bit of a plug, this is why, because we have with a thought about this before, where does communication sit within this. And communication isn’t a component part within this big system that we call coaching. It’s not biomechanics, and physiology, and anatomy, and nutrition, and psychology, and communication, and this and that, and this, it’s all of these different things. And what connects them? Is the communication, right? It’s that is everything about a functional system. Everything, it’s so important to coaches. And that is something I didn’t really truly learn until much later in my coaching career. And that’s when I really started focusing much more on that aspect of it is what is going to connect all of these component parts is how I interact within that system, and how I can get these component parts all communicating with each other.


Brett Bartholomew  43:22  

Yeah, no, I think that’s really well laid out. And I appreciate that. I mean, I think that was one thing that was an aha moment. And also frustrating moment for me too. When I, I want to go into the literature to learn more about the foundations of these things. And then I, I remember reading articles, saying coaches are contextual figures. And they’re social beings interacting in a social environment with other social beings. And therefore, communication is the very foundation in which coaching and leadership has to occur. I mean, communication, if you take just one definition is the way we create shared meaning and understanding out of signs, symbols, words and interpretations. And so that always fascinated me as to why people wouldn’t I mean, even if you look at standard definition of leadership, It is a construct that is built off of influencing one’s behavior, which can occur without communication. The problem is, it’s not as sexy as many of the things that can be talked about. But the absence of it is, we got a coach the other day, and we’re going to ask you this later in the show. He’s like, how do I make what I do see more sexy when it’s not? And I say, it’s funny, people typically value something most when they’ve lost it. They just do. And there’s lots of research to back this up. So like, we’ve learned that we don’t even advertise communication anymore. We talked about what happens in the absence of it. We know what happens in the absence of great communication, you’ve wasted time, you’ve lost relationships, you’ve probably lost face and credibility, your life gets significantly harder without it. And so you sell the sizzle, not the steak.


Stu McMillan  45:00  

Yeah, yeah, what is without communication? And that’s the question, right? Because I don’t feel like this. People may be listening to this and feel like we mean communication to be this verbal thing. 


Brett Bartholomew  45:12  

Oh, definitely not. 


Stu McMillan  45:13  

And it’s probably many of your listeners will know different because you’ve talked to them. Many coaches, and maybe people who haven’t listened to this before, haven’t listened to you before. Maybe thinking we only mean that. And that’s not necessarily what we mean. It’s, I think that’s an important


Brett Bartholomew  45:28  

one I’m gonna get this is gonna get to the key question that I’m going to ask you. And but to touch on that since, like, Yeah, you where I was gonna go when you talked about interactions with things is, yeah, so you’ve seen the interactions of things. But then let’s bridge into the interactions between people. And this is kind of seating it, because most people and I think if there’s one thing I could get across to people, and then we’re gonna talk about how you do it, it’s the baseline of all human interaction is that of misunderstanding, you brought two interns with you, right, that are sitting here watching us, like, they don’t know me from Adam, other than what they’ve seen. Just like if you go into the grocery store, and I’ve talked about this before, and you bump into somebody, that person has no inherent understanding of your intent. So the baseline of all human interaction is already one of misunderstanding. In the absence of communication, communication is the tool that bridges that gap. And like you said, it occurs in many different contexts verbal nonverbal, para -verbal, all these things. But I think most people don’t understand how to recognize it, even if they understand and this is what makes you unique. Yes, you understand  The connections between seemingly disparate things, but you’re also really good at reading the room, reading between the lines, seeing and hearing the unsaid what people think is unsaid, and you’re good at reading people. And I think that that doesn’t always come through listening. I think listening is a huge component of it. But I think people also mistake like I could listen to you all day. But if I never disclose, I never give any information I never talked. I also don’t see what you react to how you react to it. It’s very much like these podcasts, they’re not scripted. They’re not and they’d be horrible if they were their conversational, these aren’t interviews. But I can get an idea of what do you geek out about if I throw you 1000 Different nuggets? And then I listened to the conviction and I read it. So it brings me to that question then like, how do you because this is another thing that our audience wanted to know from you, is when coaching so much of it is reading between the lines, people aren’t going to tell you, they don’t say hey, Stu, here’s you know what, let me write this down. Here’s what motivates me. Are you talking about being valued? Here’s what makes me feel valued. Or hey, you know what, this is how you get things across me, I brought this list so you can better coach me. How do you discern those things with people you work with when they don’t even know themselves well enough, let alone how to talk to you about what they need. Like  how do you manage that? And, and nobody needs a system here. But just what are some things that you think about where it’s like, yeah, I’m a new athlete. I’m a new individual. I’m here. What are you paying attention to? What are you thinking about?


Stu McMillan  48:12  

Yeah, I mean, it’s, there is no system to that, right. I mean, we only learn those things by having those conversations. And, you made a real good point at the end of that meandering question,


Brett Bartholomew  48:30  

deep thoughts.


Stu McMillan  48:32  

I don’t know if they’re deep


Brett Bartholomew  48:33  

Stuart Smalley my mentor yours is Dan path. Mine was Stuart Smalley. 


Stu McMillan  48:37  

Stuart Smalley was 


Brett Bartholomew  48:38  

Oh gee, Jack, handy. deep thoughts with Jack Handy right. That’s it. That’s pretty much my whole mantra.


Stu McMillan  48:45  

He was awesome, man. Yeah,


Brett Bartholomew  48:46  

I’m not Jack Handy was


Stu McMillan  48:47  

you’re definitely not Yeah. Yeah, there’s definitely no system to that. And the hard bit is, and this is what I feel like I’ve gotten better at. And You alluded to it is often times and I would argue that it will be most times they don’t know themselves. And our job is to help them find out themselves. They don’t know what their problems are. They don’t know what their objectives are. They don’t know what their goals are. Because where are they coming from? They’re just coming from what they’ve heard. What they’ve heard other people talking about what they’ve seen on TV, what’s around the world around them. It’s not real. It isn’t, most of the time, they haven’t done the work yet to figure out what their own lives are about what their own questions are, what their own problems are. And I feel like so much of coaching is helping athletes figure that question out.


Brett Bartholomew  49:56  

I’m waiting. I feel like a bated breath. It looks like there’s someone else coming.


Stu McMillan  49:59  

No, there’s no thing else coming. That’s it. It’s like, how do you do that? Well, you just start having those conversations with them, the first conversation, you have you sitting down with a new athlete, and it might take an hour might take two hours, whatever. And they talk to you about their goals and their objectives and what they want to do. And, you know, this is these are my outcome goals. These are what I’ve done in the past. This is my process. This is what I feel. And it’s all bollocks, man. All of it. Now, they don’t know yet sure, you know, their 20 year old kids, or 25 year old kids. And these are just things that they’re just pulling out of thin air. because they think that those are the things that they should be thinking. And they haven’t had the experiences yet in their life, to truly understand what they want to get out of what they’re doing. What do they want to get out of the sport? And that’s for more and more, I see that as being, a part of my role a bigger part of my role, not my entire role. But that’s where it comes to, again, like, what is the purpose here? What is your purpose as an athlete here, let me help you better define that work with you over the course of time to figure out what that purpose is. And once we understand what that is, then we can build a system together to try to move towards it. But if you don’t know what it is, I’m not going to build a system. That’s trying to reach this magical purpose that you’re just pulling out of thin air that you think sounds cool. Because that’s not it. And I’m not interested in that. we had this all the time, right? I’m, I’m coaching a girl now who wants to be one of the best sprinters on the planet. She wants to run 10 Eight, and her first sentence to me was, I want to run 10 Eight. Why do you want to run 10? Eight? What makes you think you can run 10? Eight? Why is this your purpose? and not something else? Why is this what you want to get out of the sport, not something else. And it’s not comes from up here. It’s not coming from your head. It’s coming from everything else is around. right. So it’s then together, and it may not even happen. And most of the time, it doesn’t happen. Because they don’t put the work in, or we don’t have the time together to be able to figure out what the actual real and true purpose of their time in the sport is, or their time on doing whatever it is that they’re doing. Right. So much of leadership is again, the number one priority of it is what is the purpose? What is the function of the system? Not how things interact? That’s secondary, not what those little pieces are. That’s tertiary. What is the purpose? Let’s figure that out.


Brett Bartholomew  52:43  

Yeah, well, and that goes into vision and mission statements and how people no matter how dry those are, like we have a very clear now it changes, it’s evolved. But we have a very clear mission statement at art of coaching to define that purpose, right? To change the way the world interacts. Now, it used to be the change the way the world interacts when it matters most. But should you need to change it all the time? Right, then could it be to change the way the world interacts and builds relationships? But we’re like, no, let’s keep it simple. windows back in the day, used to be a laptop in every home. And that was pretty contentious, because like that was when computers were like massive, but that’s what they wanted to get that to the aspirational goal. And I know throughout my life, I interacted with a lot of people that were just thoughtless, they were careless, they didn’t care. And so I was like, the world would be better, like does your company make the world a better place, I genuinely thought, if I could create a company that taught people how to just be, better, or at the very least not shitty communicators. I think that adds value to the world. But then you have to think about well, how do I make that sexy, right? There’s people that will listen to this podcast. And there might be some of that performance demographic or like, Oh, my God, you got Stu McMillan, you should be asking about speed, you should be asking about this. This guy is trained some of the world but the problem is, is that they don’t see the forest through the trees. And they realize, right, let’s say Stu has given you everything and there’s no shortage of content you’ve given people. Like why do you want that? Why do you just want to hear Stu, talk about this? You’ve heard it on four other podcasts. You’ve heard about this. 


And so this brings me to my next question for you. And I’m actually wondering, like what you think about this technique, when it comes to reading between the lines, and everything I asked you initially, the one thing that I’ve tried that I learned through this podcast, is you learn a lot about people by asking them the questions they don’t expect, and making them deal with a little bit of what’s called a Pouria creating that doubt of like, did I say the right thing? Did I answer that right did that sound stupid? Meaning that we found most of our guests think the best episodes were man I left that feel like it was trash that I didn’t do a good job that I could you kind of got me out of my comfort zone. We kind of went different places. But then our listeners would think the opposite. They’d say it was so refreshing not hearing I’m talking about blank, because I’ve heard that on every other podcasts they were on. So I think that getting people comfortable is one thing like if I want to get to know a stranger, yeah, my, hey, where you from did it. But it’s really not you ask them these kinds of questions that are a little bit in left field. And you throw some little outliers here and here and here, that you really start to see what they struggle with what they open up to, or where they take it. Because think about if I give you options, right, if I kind of throw something out in the field, now you’re in control of that conversation, you might kind of waffle on at first, but then you take it somewhere, then if I do it again, you take it there and allows me to see those threads, were just keeping you in your comfort zone, you can rehearse that shit. I mean, if I asked you anything about the human body and speed and anything, right, like, you could just bop bop, but I asked you some things that make you feel like damn, Brett, that’s a broad question. I don’t know where to even want me to go on that. So what do you think about introducing a little bit of discomfort into early interactions, a little bit of ambiguity into earlier interactions, to see what people do with that?


Stu McMillan  55:59  

Yeah, I’m 100%. About that. I think that’s a really good point and a great way to do things. And I think we biased towards the exact opposite of that, as we’ve talked about, because of simplicity standpoint. Because we don’t want to go deep. We don’t like the chaos where most people are uncomfortable with complexity. And it goes to again, like you can ask me about speed, acceleration, whatever it is. And those are talking about those parts of the system. It’s not interesting, that isn’t the thing that’s going to make or break any coach, any athlete. It’s how those parts interact in what’s called a program that makes the difference, right? Tell us talk about the program, the methodology, the philosophy behind it, not the pieces that are in it, not interesting. People are really interested in it, because it’s simple, or they think it’s simple. And they don’t like it, it’s a security blanket, right? They, don’t want to put the work in to understand the complexity. They don’t want to put the work in to understand the interactions between things. They just want to know what that thing is not why it’s there, not how it’s interacting. The other thing,


Brett Bartholomew  57:11  

that’s a really key point, I think that’s a really key point. Alright, switching gears a little bit. Now this is going to be a mix of audience based questions you can take anywhere. 


Stu McMillan  57:19  

Where Did you ask these questions? 


Brett Bartholomew  57:20  

we farm them out our newsletter, social media, I call friends? I asked my neighbor, did you? Yeah, we go down to the street. there’s, like, we’ll ask them. And then there’s some selfish questions. And I’ll start with a selfish question. Right? Because I’m a selfish guy. So, I’m looking at you right now. I’m just I need to know this.


Stu McMillan  57:41  

What’s what’s going on with your beard these days?


Brett Bartholomew  57:42  

A lot. I don’t want to talk about it. My mom’s here to visit. So I had to trim it a little bit. 


Stu McMillan  57:46  

It’s pathetic. 


Brett Bartholomew  57:47  

Yes, I know. Are you ready to focus, 


Stu McMillan  57:50  

I’m focused, 


Brett Bartholomew  57:51  

I run a remote team, we just hired somebody else, or at any point in time, we have five or six people kind of working for us. And growing up, I had already always heard that. And I don’t really like the way this is phrased. But this was a term you don’t complain down. I also have had leaders that I worked for, that were great in many capacities. So my critiquing them in this context is no critique of them overall. But they didn’t always really let you in. And that lent itself to a certain mystique, you didn’t know what they struggled with, you didn’t know a whole lot about them. And so you genuinely or generally kind of saw them at their best or with the face or the mask that they put on. Inherently with my team, I take an approach of Yes, I still need to set boundaries. But I need them to know what I’m thinking what I’m struggling with what I’m wondering, because I genuinely want input. I want feedback, I want an interactive place. And I’m not going to create a holacracy right at the end of the day, the buck does stop with me. And I also don’t need to be friends with everybody. I’m going to have to fire people or I’m gonna have to lay down a lot of times, but I need to show them a lot of different aspects of my true self. You having a company of your own people that will work both with you and for you, in turn with you and for you, however you want to describe it. How do you know what is right and what is wrong? Or how do you discern what aspects of yourself to show to them? How much do you disclose versus not? Or do you believe No, I kind of take that traditional approach hierarchically if you’re at this point in a company and I know it’s it’s contextual. It’s not going to this is you, you shouldn’t disclose that much. Like where do you go? Where do you personally stand with that? In your own context? How much you let people in?


Stu McMillan  59:39  

Yeah. What’s the holacracy? Is that different from a holacracy? 


Brett Bartholomew  59:44  

Yeah, Holacracy oh my God,


Stu McMillan  59:47  

 everybody’s got to dress like Buddy Holly every day. 


Brett Bartholomew  59:49  

I mean, it could be no that yeah, that’s a good one, too. It could be themed. 


Stu McMillan  59:53  

We could do that. 


Brett Bartholomew  59:53  

We could go places. 


Stu McMillan  59:54  

I’m gonna start a holacracy 


Brett Bartholomew  59:55  

Yeah, if we didn’t live in a 


Stu McMillan  59:58  

interns that look like well Buddy Holly. I think Harvey put some sunglasses. He looks like a Buddy Holly. Yeah. Not so much


Brett Bartholomew  1:00:06  

no Zack Morris Saved by the Bell mediocre wave? Let’s get to the question because the people want the truth.


Stu McMillan  1:00:13  

Yeah, it is. Yeah, and I think this differs, right? So let me turn this back. You want to show people in your company of four to five people, sort of behind the curtain, a little bit of some of the things that you’re challenging are challenged by some of the things that you struggle with? Like what’s so give me an example of what your meaning there. 


Brett Bartholomew  1:00:42  

Yeah. So for, I’ll give you a great example, one thing we did is, we always are trying to think of what provides the most value. And by the way, I’ll give you a hot take too, I actually think running a four to five person team, remotely, in some ways is harder than people that run fortune 500 companies that have 1000 employees or more. I 100% will say I think remote work with a team that’s abroad during a pandemic. And all that is one of the best leadership experiences I’ve ever had. Right? There are a lot of things that you have to think about, because now it’s not just a matter of getting things done. You have to set culture when several 1000 Miles separate you, you have to find ways that like, since we can’t meet face to face a lot, how do you keep everything from zoom meetings and all that engaging, while also not being like HBr hokey, where you’re like, hey, I have a water cooler, hour and, all this kind of stuff. So I think that stuff’s pretty hard. So I think that when you’re doing hard things in an increasingly complex world, and there’s a customer service element, and we’re also creating in a space that we don’t really have many competitors, and we think we have a pretty unique product. And so there’s not an established way to kind of create a company that’s focused around helping coaches and leaders interact more effectively and efficiently. So I think that to have better conversations, and for them to help us as a company, especially me, like us make better decisions. They’ve got to know more, they’ve got to know Hey, Brett, why do you? What do you seem not sure about? Why do you seem unsure? what are you insecure about in this capacity? If we choose to go this direction versus not? I have to speak my mind a little bit. Because otherwise, I don’t think that we can have that process of mutual decision making.


Stu McMillan  1:02:26  

Would this differ if you had instead of four or five if you had 40? Or 50?


Brett Bartholomew  1:02:31  

Yeah, I mean, I think you have different divisions then. So I think just the org chart would necessitate it as such. Well, right now everybody in our company is involved in a wide range of decisions, where you’re gonna have managers and directors that oversee their own teams. But still, I think I would do that. Let’s say I had five divisions, I’d still do that with the lead of those five divisions, I think that you have to show a little bit of that, I think that you have to, because the goal is if it’s really shared leadership and a mutual process, you have to think, let’s imagine there’s 1, 2, 3, there’s four people in this room. If I said, Guys, we have three options of where we can go, yeah, there we go. I don’t count myself. I’m talking to people I’m talking to, if I said, Guys, we have three options of where we could go here, Option A, option B, Option C, here’s my thoughts and concerns about all of them. And I’m kind of between the lines on this. And this is why I’m nervous about what like what are your thoughts? I think that lends itself to more context, as opposed to being weak or uncertain, or whatever, another shades of gray within that, but I think I’m being pretty clear on this one. I think I’m just, it’s what do you How much do you open up share behind the curtain? When you’re running an organization? How much you I’ll be more specific. So you have two interns? Right here, how much behind the scenes? Do you let them see? The good, the bad, the ugly and all this?


Stu McMillan  1:03:52  

Yeah, it’s, that’s changed a lot. And I’ll echo what you said about becoming a remote company. For eight years. 90% of our employees shared the same space daily, 


Brett Bartholomew  1:04:10  

and how many is this? 


Stu McMillan  1:04:11  

This would have been anywhere between 12 and 20. Okay. And now for three years. We’re all over the world. And the challenge has grown exponentially over the course of that time. And that is, I would say primarily because we can’t have those types of conversations. Those conversations where these, the employees, the people we’re working with the people that are working for us understand what this is, what our challenges are, what our what our problems are, what the the day to day things that are going on is and that becomes really difficult. Unless you’re meeting online over zoom for an hour every single day. It, you know, I just we can’t do that, right? If we try to have, different, I probably spend three hours a week, meeting staff. And then once every two weeks we meet as an entire team. But that’s for work, right work. That’s not for us to talk about all the other stuff, right. So it’s really challenging now at this point, running this company, which is entirely remote, or almost entirely remote. And so I couldn’t agree more with you. Like, that’s such a big challenge that wasn’t there before, because you’re having all of these organic, natural conversations over the course of being in the same space all day long. Yeah, so all that stuff, that really wasn’t a big problem for us. And at that point, I’m, a believer in again, if we’re talking about this shared purpose, or shared function of what we’re doing, shared being a big part, and then all the component parts of in that being able to communicate properly, and pull in the same direction, they have to know what’s going on, they have to, or it’s not gonna be shared, right? Now, so that all of those gets to the point where we’ll talk about whatever problems or whatever challenges we have. And the level is we just stop talking, we get to finances, you don’t want to get to know that part of it. But everything else that we’re struggling with, that we’re challenged by, whether that be marketing, or whether that be, we’re dealing with athletes or working with athletes, or teams, or consulting, or whatever that is, over the last couple of years, obviously, the all of our 99% of our challenges that come because of COVID. And because so much of our businesses disappeared because of it. So we all know that, and all of the staff know that, right? We had those conversations all the time. And now  it’s, the line kind of becomes a little challenging at that point. Because we can say, oh, man, this is getting rough, it’s getting rough, it’s getting really hard, you know, this loss, this loss, and they start worrying about their position, their job and the, the growth of the company, the sustainability of the company. So we, we have to be a little bit careful how we do have those conversations. But I’m a big believer, like you are on letting them in, pulling the curtain back. And they have to understand everything that’s going on, I really do believe I’m glad we’re small enough at this point, kind of like, you know, we’ve got 11 full time employees. And a few knuckleheads from over in Europe that come and join us every few weeks, or every few months. And even 


Brett Bartholomew  1:07:29  

mail order brides. Like, you know, he just like reach out to you say, Hey, anybody from Europe want to come over? And they’re like, hey, and all of a sudden, you’ve got the other rolled up jean shorts and good looking hair, and they’re over here. They always smell good, though.


Stu McMillan  1:07:39  

But yeah, not always. Yeah.


Brett Bartholomew  1:07:41  

Yugi what cologne are you wearing? Right now? The camera picked him. What is that? I don’t even know what you said. 


Stu McMillan  1:07:46  

to the extent where all of the interns were involved in our daily meetings, as well as daily conversations. They’re not now because it’s, we’re at the track together, and then we’re separate for the rest of the day. they don’t even get the experience that the interns that used to get the experience when they came because they would be, totally embedded within the entirety of the system, as if they were, you know, full time employees. Now they’re not, they show up there for three hours of training, four hours of training. That’s it, it’s done. So it’s, yeah, it’s a real significant challenge. It’s high. It’s definitely much, much harder for us now than it was three years ago. And that’s something that I’ll be very honest with, we haven’t done a very good job. We really and truly haven’t, it’s, we feel like we do a good job of communicating and sharing the requisite information, and having those conversations and understanding from the perspective of the employees, their challenges, their problems. But I don’t feel like we’ve done a good job of that. Just because, just the constraints around having these conversations are such that it’s hard for us to do, right. Even when we have a conversation. We may, so many times the last two years, I’ve left the conversation thinking man, it was a great conversation. She got what I was saying he got what I was saying, I know it’s I understood him, or I understood her. And then I find out three days later that it was the exact opposite. And they just didn’t get it at all, or I didn’t get it at all. And so that happens all the time now where  it didn’t at all before.


Brett Bartholomew  1:09:26  

It’s like what we think what we know what we can put into words, but we end up saying what the other person hears what they actually understand. It’s a long road. But I’m glad that you said that because and I think I hope you don’t undervalue your response which was super thorough to that. Because I think that’s where real learning occurs like I share so that mutual learning is enhanced. So that decision making processes and trust is built more quickly. Because if we have that shared purpose, well within boundaries, how open I am with you, kind of just galvanizes that that helps you understand the world I in all these things a little bit more effectively. And, here’s the thing that I think most people miss out on knowing that so many people would try to seek internships or opportunities or work at places with big flashy this that when in reality, think of the constraints you’re up against now, right? An artist having to do things remotely, right? I mean, think about us, my wife and I moved out, we moved into this house, not both working for the company. It was just me at that time and an administrative assistant. Now we have five employees, there are people that may say, Hey, Brett, can I come work with you when you do this, and this and this, and it’s always something off site, or sexy or whatever. I’m like, Man, you would learn so much more interning at our house and doing non sexy work, but hearing the daily discussions and decision making and staff meetings, but you know, how many people actually even want to do that, right? And then how many people you’d even trust and like, and then think about that? How many people would want to go see Altis, if you had some big shiny, fancy facility, but then you’re like, Okay, come here, we’re going to be remote, we’re going to do this here, we’re going to be really resourceful. They’re missing all the things that will help them lead in the future, when they have constraints, and when they missed the good pieces. And so I think you have to share those things. 


Stu McMillan  1:11:10  

I think that is how we became who we became, it’s how, the quote, unquote, brand of Altice became the brand that it is today is because 100%, because of that, because before we opened our doors, and invited and welcomed coaches from all over the world to come and spend time with us, that wasn’t available, really, in any high performance environment in the world. your typical coaching education, in sport performance says you go to a conference, and you sit there, and you watch somebody present about the highlights of whatever they’re doing. Yeah, good or bad, whatever. I mean, there’s great presentations is great presenters, but they’re generally the highlights there, those are the component parts. It’s not the context is not the interaction of these parts. It’s not the system, in context, boats and all. and the biggest reason why we became who we are, is because one week of every month, we invited coaches from all over the world to come and spend a week with us. And they would show up at nine o’clock, and they leave at five, and they just shoot, they just watch us go about our day, we’d have conversations, organic conversations, they’d watch his coach, we’d have conversations outside of the track, we have conversations in the weight room in the classroom, they have conversations with the athletes, we have conversations with the athletes, it’s this thing became something that wasn’t there. And then it’s okay. we finally saw something that really or finally found something in this industry that appreciated the context and appreciated what this really is, and what coaching really is truly is right? There’s still people that don’t quite get it, they still think it’s about the what those little small component parts and don’t respect the context and the environment within which all of this happens. But it’s such an important thing. And it’s, as I said, it’s why we became who we are 100% because of that 100% there’s not a single person that sits and there’s now over 500 coaches of visitors over the more than that now over 600 By the way, 600. So the last nine years, that’s crazy. For over by the way over four days at a time. So over 600 coaches have spent at least four days at a time 


Brett Bartholomew  1:11:10  

they pay their own way 


Stu McMillan  1:13:40  

they have their own way paid, and they pay, 


Brett Bartholomew  1:13:42  

Imagine that. 


Stu McMillan  1:13:43  

Absolutely. I think there might be one or two that didn’t enjoy their experience. Yeah, no, that’s it’s such an important point. It really is


Brett Bartholomew  1:13:55  

what it lends itself to, you know, coaches should be problem solvers, not pontificators. Right. And so, when you have to deal with less than ideal situations, that’s where the goodness grows. And, by the way, without getting into a side, because we’re gonna go into this rapid fire piece here. I love that you talked about something from nothing and being restored. I mean, like you have in your past history as a DJ and us both being music and especially Hip Hop heads. That is always something I loved about true hip hop and that documentary from something to nothing, the art of rap. It’s like you have your loose leaf. And they’re, I mean, just listen to that, right? You hear just artists just like the I wrote my way out kind of mentality. And I remember watching that movie and some of them talking about their process of I’d wait till I was physically hungry. And I’d write my lyrics. Others would be like I wanted to be here. Others I want to be here and coaching in the performance realm hasn’t evolved to what it could be yet because people can’t stand that level of degrees of freedom. People still want that box but I think we’ve hit on that. Another theme that you touched on. A lot sharing you mentioned Sharing 13 times. And then you mentioned part of our brand. 


Stu McMillan  1:15:04  

You didn’t count


Brett Bartholomew  1:15:04  

Oh, buddy, you don’t want to play we’ll wind it back. I don’t. So this is where I want to end, we got 10 minutes. So you got to be succinct, no Old Man River bullshit. let’s get right to it. We put a poll out. And we ask, and this has nothing to do with you. I just thought you might have some interesting questions. We ask coaches, what were some of the biggest things they struggled with today. And the preponderance of data said, self promotion, branding, sharing my ideas. And so we dug a little deeper, we reached out to about 15 to 20 people, we said, What do you mean? And some of them would say, Well, I just feel like it’s hard to know, they’re so turned off by the social media world. And so turned off by people that have maybe not even on social media that have promoted themselves in a certain industry the wrong way. They don’t want to be associated with that. They don’t know how to share what they do. And so many of them are kind of like, well, I just feel like, if I do good work, it’ll be fine. I get it, if I just kind of keep my head down. So we have very, very, very specific questions. And number one is, what would you say to somebody who is afraid of publicly sharing their work? accomplishment, success, thoughts, ideas, whatever, because they don’t want to be seen as self promoting? I don’t want to share it, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be one of the quote unquote, those guys.


Stu McMillan  1:16:38  

So in about 2000, I asked Dan, why he hadn’t written a book, coach, Dan path, my primary mentor, one of the best coach educators on the planet, and 100%, one of the best track and field coaches in history. And he didn’t have a book, and maybe, one of the wisest coaches on the planet, there’s no question about that. Right, he should be sharing his stuff, right. And this was evident 20 years ago. And he said, Because everything’s already been said, I don’t have anything new to say. And this was at the point where every week, there was probably 15, to 20 coaches hanging out at the track with him listening to him, listening for us, for him to say something, and something new. And since then, there’s literally been 1000s of coaches, spend time with Dan on the side of the track, or now through our programs, you know, in a weight room, or over zoom, part of our mentorship programs or whatever, literally, he is touched 1000s of coaches, with unique and interesting things that disprove what he said in 2000, I have nothing new to say, everyone’s got something new to say. But it’s all contextual. Again, it’s not about this one thing that we say, I may have a thing to say you may have a thing to say, it might be the exact same thing. It’s going to mean something different to each of us, because it connects to different things. And we never just talked about that one thing, it’s about the wise and house and how they connect to all of these different things. And that’s what learning is. And I feel like and this is, I’ve spoken with Dan about this a lot, because he’s still uncomfortable with it. Right? He still feels like to a degree that he’s promoting himself. When what he’s actually doing is educating hundreds and 1000s of others. And coming along for the ride is people are getting to know who Dan path is, right? that’s not the goal. The purpose here isn’t for Dan path to promote himself. His purpose, His entire reason for being is to educate other coaches. And in so doing, he’s getting to be really well known. 


So it depends then on what is your purpose here? It always comes back to that is your purpose to promote yourself? Or is it purpose to learn or to educate or to teach or to meet others or to communicate with others or to become a better coach? And if it is, you better be sharing with people. 


Brett Bartholomew  1:19:33  

By the way, the 14 sharing, 


Stu McMillan  1:19:35  

people are not going to be sharing with you if you don’t share with them. 15, 16 


Brett Bartholomew  1:19:40  

got it. 


Stu McMillan  1:19:40  



Brett Bartholomew  1:19:41  

There’s a tallies


Stu McMillan  1:19:42  

And what I learned, it’s I’ve Mike network, quote unquote, of sharing has up until 2011 being all the people that I could connect with personally. So whether that be over the phone, or people I was working with, physically in physical places, and we never had a problem sharing, this would be a big part of how we learned basically, we just have conversations we learn from each other, I tell you what your what I’m doing, you can tell me what what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, why I’m doing it, so on and so forth. And then, the internet sort of expanded. And I made a conscious effort in 2011. To, I felt that the people that I was sharing stuff with, were people are already sort of agreeing with the stuff that I was saying, so how do I now put my stuff out there? To people that may not necessarily agree with it? How do I stress test? What I’m thinking? 


Brett Bartholomew  1:20:50  

That’s a really good point, 


Stu McMillan  1:20:52  

and so I started this blog, McMillan speed. Back in 2011. And you’ve been on there a couple times. 


Brett Bartholomew  1:21:00  

Yeah, that thing is legend and this thing was like, 1000 years from now. There’ll be like, Yeah. How is that not a book now,


Stu McMillan  1:21:09  

it should be definitely 100% should be. But that’s the greatest thing to come out of that was the interactions that I got with the community. it’s how would gr che he is a Canadian business consultant, former military consultant. And he talks about this framework, called the seek sents, share framework, 


Brett Bartholomew  1:21:35  

seek sent, share, 


Stu McMillan  1:21:37  

seek sentshare, a massive, I really, really enjoy a lot of what he puts out there. So this is something that I came across in about 2010 2011. And it’s basically this is how we learn, right? So we seek all this information, we make sense of it, we share it out into our community for feedback. and be or stress testing it right. And then we seek out more information. And that could come from us sharing the prior information in the community. And that comes back to us as more information, we make sense of it. And we share it again, back out to the community. And through that process that I started with a blog in 2011. And then I started the Twitter account in 2012. you just create and you build a larger and larger community, we get more and more people sharing what you’re doing. There’s more opportunities for us now to, stress test our work, we get more people saying, Hey, you’re great, but also more people saying, Hey, that’s not very good. That’s pretty stupid. That’s dumb. So I learned way more in the first five years of starting a blog and getting on Twitter that I probably did in the 15 or 20 years prior, when I was just speaking in my own little echo chamber, my echo chamber of people that already had sort of very similar thought processes to me, or already similar coaches as I was. So it’s for me, it was just this, people, I don’t know, if people out there say I’m a self promoter or not, I have no idea. But for me, the purpose is very clear. This is for me, this is a very selfish thing for me. I’m trying to learn more, I’m trying to become better and better at what I do. And the only way I can do that is by hey Brett, what do you think of this? Hey Eugy? What do you think of this Hey , Harvey, what do you think of this hey? What is this community of however many 1000 people are in it? What do you guys think of this? Let me know. And then maybe I can get better from that through that process. And maybe you’ve learned something as well.


Brett Bartholomew  1:23:33  

The stress test piece is so critical on why you were talking, I was looking at the definition of promote, which you spoke about several times, you want to argue how many times you said the word promote  promote, number one definition in Oxford, to further the progress of something, especially a cause venture, or aim, support or actively encourage. And that is what I think is so wrong with the way that people typically look at that stuff, is it highlights the point that meanings are not in words, they are in people. And so oftentimes people get an idea of what this means. Self promote ugh, promote ugh, sell ugh. And they’re too busy thinking and linking these with negative experiences they’ve had, and these biases, which then just continue to perpetuate their own insecurities, which are really ones of rejection, right? They’re not worried about promotion so much as they are there. If you told somebody hey, if you share this, if you put this out there and I told you, everybody would love it and lot it and and get something from it. 100% all these people would be like, oh, yeah, it’s out there. But they don’t want to do it because they’re really scared of rejection. And so what is your way then to use an exemplification tactic to be like, No, it’s a moral virtue of mine. I don’t promote. It’s okay to just say you’re scared. It’s terrifying to put yourself out there like Theodore Roosevelt has that whole man in arena quote, but I just want people to be very clear that it’s not you being scared to promote or share what what did you say seek sent share? It is really your fear of rejection. And I don’t think that you can become you can grow in any capacity, let alone as a leader, if you’re not scared of that. 


Now, the thing you did masterlly, you answered every damn question we had in one. But I do want to say something one, we’ve got to do a part two to I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I say meanings aren’t just in words, they’re in people. Yet sometimes what people mean to you cannot be put into words. I’ve never got to say this in a truly sincere way. So I’m taking the opportunity now, what you meant to me your friendship, your camaraderie, your support, from the moment that my book came out, when the rest of the world had not yet heard about it, yet you organize a bunch of your employees, you were wearing my conscious coaching shirt on a motorcycle, you are sharing it with the world you barely knew me from Adam, but you had known me through enough interactions that you just threw yourself behind it, what that meant to me change my life. And what you mean to me is something that I will tell my kids and my grandkids about. And I’ve never got to say that to you, because I have too much fun, just giving you a shit and going back and forth with you. But I love you tremendously. I love how candid you are. I love how thoughtful you are. I love that you can go into the deep and dark places and have just as much fun as the places that are kind of just, a little bit more laid back and superficial in terms of what we talked about and what we share. And I love the information that you brought for our audience today in the place that you went. So I’m sad that this has to be the end of it. But I just want you to know that. And I also want you to tell everybody listening where they can go to support you find you learn from you and grow with you.


Stu McMillan  1:26:53  

Appreciate you brother. Yeah. Yeah, no, I really do appreciate that. And I’m just gonna go super simple and say, right back at you.  honestly, honestly, out to is probably the best way to find me and our stuff. On Twitter @StuartMcMillan1 on Instagram of fingermash. That’s my former DJ name. Hopefully future DJ name when I get back DJ-ing again, when it’s coaching malarkey is finished. But uh, no, I appreciate you. Appreciate your time. Appreciate you having me here and appreciate everybody listening.


Brett Bartholomew  1:27:28  

Absolutely. And guys, if you want to hear a part two, which we’re definitely going to do whether you actually want to hear it or not, send your questions. Remember, you can go to or you can email us at for Brett Bartholomew myself, Stu Macmillan, the art of coaching team, everybody. Thank you for listening, and we’ll see you next time.

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