Podcasts

How to Transform Your Workplace Culture, Boost Morale & Respect with Jason Greer

Join us in this episode of Culture Leaders Podcast as we delve into the world of Jason Greer, a diversity and labor relations expert. From a career that chose him, Jason has risen to become a beacon of positive change in workplaces. He shares his story of connecting with diverse individuals and influencing organizations for the better.

As a consultant and “employee whisperer,” Jason’s gift lies in uncovering commonalities across different strata of an organization. His insights into labor relations and corporate culture challenge conventional approaches and highlight the necessity of genuine respect and recognition in motivating employees.

In this engaging conversation, Jason explores the evolving dynamics of the modern workplace and the impact of societal changes on organizational behavior. He also discusses the critical role of leaders in bridging gaps and creating an environment where every employee feels valued and heard.

Notable quotes

“Life. And when I say what is my why, when I answer it with life, it’s I’ve been fortunate to see so many people from so many different walks of life.” – Jason Greer

“People will work for money, but they’ll die for respect and they’ll die for recognition.” – Jason Greer

“It’s very difficult for the employee who’s only making 30 or $40,000 a year to believe that CEO has any issues in common with the issues that you have.” – Jason Greer

“I want to know that I matter and You can tell me that I matter but I want to see you demonstrate it.” – Jason Greer

“America, we have to do almost a great reset.” – Jason Greer on systemic issues

Useful links

Reach Jason at:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jasongreer-laborrelationsexpert
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jason.greer/
Website: www.hiregci.com

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https://www.instagram.com/jess_kriegel/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessicakriegel
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Transcript

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Jason Greer, what is your why?

Jason Greer: Life, and when I say life, you know, this career that I was born into, I didn’t choose it, I feel like the career chose me, has allowed me to encounter so many people from different walks of life, people I never would have met had it not been for this career. And knowing that in some form or fashion, the work that I’m doing is actually making people’s lives better, it’s making organizations better, that’s my why, that’s what gets me going.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So does your organization have a why?

Jason Greer: We do. And that why is that people will work for money, but they’ll die for respect and they’ll die for recognition.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: What is it?

Oh, wow, that’s interesting. And that is at the essence, what drives life into a better direction in your opinion.

Jason Greer: Yeah.

100% I mean we Look Jessica, you know this because of the work that you do we live in such interesting times where you know what? made sense in 2019 no longer makes sense as a 2023 and As a result, I think what people are asking for their organizations what people are asking from each other is I want to know that I matter and You can tell me that I matter but I want to see you demonstrate it to

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Jason Greer: But how, you know, what you need might be fundamentally different than what I need. But that’s why it’s so important for leaders to take the time to get to know their employees on an individual basis as much as they possibly can.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So you do a lot of work in organizations. You do work in diversity, equity, and inclusion. You do work in union avoidance. What is the thing that you spend most of your time doing? And is it what you’re most passionate about?

Jason Greer: Yeah, I spend the bulk of my work on the employee relation side and the employee relation side is effectively coming in, getting to know employees, getting to know what the challenges are within organizations. So when I get called in, I get called in for one of a couple of reasons. One might be that managers, employees are that there’s this widening gap between the managers and the employees and the customer in this case, the corporations have absolutely no idea why this has happened.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Jason Greer: They’ve done surveys, they’ve done, you know, the HR folks have come in and they’ve talked to people and still can’t quite put their finger on what’s going on. I’m known as the employee whisperer, trademark now. And what I’m known for in the industry is my ability to come in and actually get to know the employees, get to know what they’re thinking about when they’re driving to work, get to know what they’re thinking about at work, what they’re thinking about when they’re leaving work. And then to take all of those data points that they’re giving me and to be able to distill it in such a way that the organization benefits from having gotten there.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So more often than not, what is it that you’re uncovering that the surveys and the HR consultants before you couldn’t figure out?

Jason Greer: People are exhausted. People are tired. People feel like they are, you know, I always, I generally make this statement and it’s almost to a point where it’s becoming repetitive. COVID changed everything because I don’t know if it’s that people were faced with their own mortality. People were faced with the recognition that they were actually working from home and there is life outside of the office. I don’t know.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm.

Jason Greer: But it seems like that COVID, not only did it change the world, but it changed the way that people tend to think about their organizations that they work for. Now you have employees who are asking the bigger question. The bigger question is, am I part of something that’s bigger than myself or am I just another cog in the wheel, right? In the machine. The second question is, does this organization care about me? The third question is, is this the type of organization that embodies my values?

Do they live to the example that I live? And more importantly, if I’m going to dedicate the next 30 or 40 years, and almost no one dedicates 30 or 40 years to an organization these days, but if I’m going to dedicate my time to this organization, do I feel like my work matters? Not just to me, but do I feel like my work is valued by the customer, or in this case, the companies that they work with?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So how do you solve for exhaustion? You figure out that they’re exhausted, they’re burned out, they feel like a cog in the wheel, what’s the solution?

Jason Greer: They are the solution. When I say they are the solution, I will ask that question. I’ve had employees who say to me, I’m burned out, I’m tired, I don’t know what to do. And then my challenge to them is, actually you do know what to do because you have a better sense of what’s burning you up than anybody in your company does. And I will spend critical time with them, asking them some basic fundamental questions. If you were to design the perfect day for you, given that your job duties might not change.

But if you were designed the perfect day for you, what would that look like? Based on that answer, then I start to ask questions like, is this a conversation that we could bring your manager into? And we’ve created situations where we have employees, let’s say this particular group of employees have been quote unquote burned out, or very nearly deciding that they’re going to exit the organization.

I will bring the managers in, I will bring the executives in, and we will have this round robin session of the managers and executives hearing directly from the employees about what motivates them, what they need more of. And then we can’t give them everything, but we’ll begin implementing those things in their daily work functions. What’s fascinating to me though is we were spending so much time on the employees, but we weren’t spending enough time on managers. That was not a decision that I made. It was more along the lines of the organization saying, We want to understand what’s going wrong with our employees.

Well, if you’re talking employees, plural, then you’re talking about not only your line level staff, but you’re also talking about your managers. And what we’ve discovered from so many managers is that they are exhausted as well. They’re catching hell from the top, and the top being the executives who are pushing them to process, hit their numbers, hit the financial goals. They’re catching hell from the employees who are just never satisfied. And in the middle, you have the managers who no one is asking that critical question.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm.

Jason Greer: Who’s cheering for the cheerleader because managers are often in the position of being cheerleaders, but no one gives a damn about them, right? So that’s really how we go about helping people in terms of moving from a place of, I’m incredibly exhausted, I’m going to exit the organization to them feeling like they’re at least invigorated and this is the type of organization they want to be a part of.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: You know, it’s interesting, I’m doing research behind the scenes right now. It hasn’t been published yet. It will probably in the next couple of months. But John Frase over at Incra Consulting has 30,000 frontline employee survey results of a culture survey that is also paired with lots of questions about their lifestyle. You know, do you work on a farm? These are frontline hourly workers, right? It’s not the corporate, it’s non-corporate employees. And the questions are, you know, do you work on the farm? Do you have a second job?

Jason Greer: Mmm.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: How do you get quality sleep? Do you, are you a single parent? Those kinds of questions. And one of the data points we were looking at this morning is people who report having lower quality sleep report getting less communication from their managers, less effective training at work, not happy with their shift schedule. Like when you have bad sleep habits, your lens through which you analyze everything,

Jason Greer: Yes. Interesting.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Becomes problematic. Now, I don’t think you were talking about poor sleep when you said exhaustion, but to some extent, it does make sense. I mean, that feeling of exhaustion makes everything harder, right?

Jason Greer: But it makes sense.

I mean, consider this, Jessica, that I deal with employees. And when I say line level employees, I deal with the employee who’s making $10, $12 an hour all the way to the employee who’s making $10 to $12 million a year, right? And what’s fascinating to me is when we talk about that exhaustion or that lack of sleep.

I’m amazed at the number of line level employees who are working two to three jobs just to make ends meet. So sleep is such a foreign concept. They wish they could sleep, but they show up to these roles, they’re exhausted. Their manager might be the best manager in the history of that, of the respective organization, but they can’t correctly based on what you shared and it makes total sense. They cannot process what he, she, or they are saying because their brains are exhausted. Their bodies are exhausted.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm.

Yeah.

Jason Greer: So I might say something effective, hey, can you move the coffee cup six inches to the left? We’re about to take a photo. What that exhausted employee hears is, you do everything wrong, everything. You can’t even put the coffee cup where we need it to be. That’s because the exhausted employee’s brain is in a threat state. And when it’s in a threat state, it perceives threats even where there are no threats.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm.

Yeah.

Yeah.

Yeah, so there’s a circular nature of the absolution of accountability in the corporate world that I’ve begun to notice and I’m writing about right now for a paper for school actually, which is I’ve interviewed a lot of CEOs who will describe the exact same dynamic that they’re experiencing, that they’re exhausted, that they’re burned out. There’s so much pressure from the board or…the private equity investors that own their business or the shareholders to whom they are accountable that are pressuring them to push harder, to get more out of their teams.

And so the CEOs are saying, I’m exhausted and I’ve got a lot of pressure. The managers are having that experience. The frontline workers are having that experience. And everyone can point to someone else and say, someone else is the problem. How do you break the cycle? What is the solution that gets

Jason Greer: Yes.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: The narrative to change.

Jason Greer: By helping people recognize that they have very common issues, very common concerns. Look, if you’re talking to the CEO who’s making 20, 30,000, 20 or $30 million a year, right? And I’m having fun with numbers. It’s very difficult for the employee who’s only making 30 or $40,000 a year to believe that CEO has any issues in common with the issues that you have, right?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Jason Greer: But if I’m able to help them find a level of commonality, and that’s oftentimes the organization, maybe it’s the mission, maybe it’s the vision, maybe it’s the critical job function, right? When I’m able to help them find some source of commonality, that’s when I can get people to begin talking the same language. But oftentimes it’s having the executive sit in the room with a line level employee, the line level employee sitting in the room with the executive, and in a matter of maybe an hour, give or take,

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm.

Jason Greer: That line level employee starts to see that he is really no different than the executive and the executive is really no different than the line level employee. Because oftentimes, and I hate to say it, they both hate the organizations they work for. Right? So it’s once we can identify something we agree on, then we can begin to make some critical changes.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, you know, there’s a narrative that I hear a lot that people just don’t want to work anymore. And there are a lot of consultants, me, you included, who say, if you can create meaning in their work, if you can get them to see the value that they’re adding, then you’re starting to cook with gas. Right. But I get pushback on that narrative from people who say, and this comes from both front lines and executives who say, yeah, but like, even if I understand what value I’m creating for the business, I just don’t care.

That doesn’t make meaning for me. So for the people who are so disconnected from the value proposition of the organization, the purpose of the organization, is it possible to find meaning for them? Or do they have to move on?

Jason Greer: It’s out first. I love your question. I would advise those folks to move on. And when I say.

I remember talking to an employee about six months ago and she was saying something very similar to what you described. It’s, I really don’t care about my job. I don’t care about this organization. I’m just here to get a paycheck. Right. But then she followed that up with, I’m tired of getting passed over for promotions. I’m tired of the fact that it seems like my manager likes everybody else, but me.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm.

Jason Greer: And because she opened the door, I was able to at least start having that conversation with her where I said, look, if I were in charge of making promotions, right, if I were in charge of promotions, I wouldn’t promote with you.

And she, Jessica, she looked like I had just stolen her pet gerbil. I mean, she just looked, she was, she was crushed. She goes, why wouldn’t you promote me? And I go, because everything that you said in terms of how you don’t value the organization, how you don’t really want to be here comes across in how you show up and so you’re asking the organization to invest in you, but you’re clearly demonstrating that you don’t want to invest in the organization. So maybe.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Ah, that’s interesting.

Jason Greer: Right, right? So we have one or two choices. Either you decide to move on someplace else where you fit that mold or that organization fits the mold of what you’re looking for.

Or we start to get into some assumptions that you’re making about the place that you work for. Right? Because you hit on some very heavy keys. You said that your manager placed favorites with everybody but you. You said that you’ve been promoted. You’ve been passed over promotions. If you really didn’t care about the organization, you wouldn’t care that the manager’s playing favorites. If you didn’t really care about the organization, you wouldn’t care about the fact that you didn’t get a promotion. So maybe it’s that you actually do care.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Right.

Jason Greer: But you’re so scared of what that looks like if you continue to be rejected. And then we started getting conversations about rejection that she had experienced in her life outside of the job. And that’s what she’s bringing into the job, right? Now in terms of people that I see who by and large, I’m starting to recognize that

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Jason Greer: There is just a group of people who just don’t want to work because their value isn’t something else. Right? We, it’s the first thing we generally ask somebody, you know, after you introduce yourself, the next question is usually, what do you do for a living? Right? Well, there might be people out there who would answer with, I just live. I don’t need a position. I get by on whatever I make.

You know, whether that’s selling goods on the street or whether that’s, you know, living out the gig economy. I think that we need to be mindful of the fact that we can’t quite put people, not everybody into these boxes and assume that they’re going to function properly because some people just aren’t cut out for it because they don’t want to be cut out for it. It’s not in their makeup.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm. I worked for a large technology company that used to define potential with three characteristics. One, the person was capable of doing more. Two, they wanted to do more. They had the desire to do more. And three, they wanted to do it here. If they didn’t want to do it here, then they didn’t have potential because there are a lot of people who don’t care about the organization and they have a lot of aspirations and ambition.

Jason Greer: I like that.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: They’re just not aligned with the organization that they work at. So we’re seeing a lot more unionization right now in the world. I believe that we’re headed towards a national strike where the unions will collaborate to coordinate an effort against corporate America and to slow down business as we know it. What do you think about that?

Jason Greer: Yes.

I think theoretically it makes sense, but logistically it’s absolutely wrong. The problem with labor unions as a whole is, so I’m a former board agent with the National Labor Relations Board and the NLRB is the governmental agency that is the caretaker for the National Labor Relations Act, where you sit as the theoretical objective party between companies and unions. Unions who are looking to either organize companies.

Or companies that have already been organized and they have existing contracts, right? Collective bargaining agreements. There is a clause in the AFL-CIO, and the AFL-CIO is one of the largest groupings of labor unions in this country that says they have this anti-rating agreement where if I’m an organizer for the Teamsters, and I find out, Jessica, that you are an organizer for, let’s say, the United Food and Commercial Workers.

And you are attempting to organize a group of grocery store employees. Once I find that out, in terms of our agreement, I’m not allowed to attempt to organize that same group of employees, but it doesn’t stop unions from doing that. Right. I think that all the components are there for what a national strike would look like in terms of sentiment, in terms of employees being fed up with their organizations.

In terms of a lot of corporate creep, in terms of greed, and lack of accountability for their employees, more accountability for their shareholders, less accountability for their internal stakeholders, right? I just don’t know that unions by and large are organized enough to come together to do that. If they were, they would have already done it.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So if I’m a CEO that’s worried about my workforce unionizing, which I’m sure many are right now, I’ve been told a thousand times by talking heads to listen to my employees more, right? Beyond listening to your employees more, what can I do as the CEO to prevent my workforce from unionizing?

Jason Greer: First, you need to make sure, I don’t care if you’re the CEO of a company of 50,000 people or if you’re the CEO of a company of five people.

To the best of your ability, you need to be as visible as possible. And I’m not just talking in terms of virtual conversations. I’m talking about once a quarter, coming into a given facility and actually walking around talking to employees. Because here’s the mistake so many CEOs make. So many CEOs will come in and they believe that they are, quote unquote, walking the floor.

But they come in, they will greet the receptions.

They will walk past all the employees and say hi on the way to the conference room where they will sit for the next three hours and listen to presentations from a group of executives and facility managers who were there to make the CEO feel so much better about the work that they’re doing on behalf of her, on her behalf. She would then walk out, she’ll wave at everybody, get a couple photo opportunities and then leave. But I sound like I’m being cynical, I’m not. I see this happen all the time. When you come into a facility.

Root yourself in that facility. You might not remember these employees names, but they’ll remember you. Shake their hands, take some selfies, have some pizza with them, spend time. It goes beyond just listening to the employees because the vast majority of employees think you’re not listening anyway. But if they get FaceTime with you, that’s what matters. Part of the reason why we’re seeing such a uptick in unionization is the fact that we have, listen.

The generations are different. I’m Gen X. I’m 49 years old. And I would say that nobody gives a damn about Gen X. When people are talking about generational divide, they talk baby boomers, they talk millennials, they talk Gen Z. Nobody talks about my generation.

But thank God we have the millennials. Thank God we have the Gen X because what they’re effectively, or Gen Z, excuse me, because what they’re effectively doing is they’re saying, we no longer bow at the feet of these corporate titans.

They put their pants on just like we put our pants on. And we want them to get to know us just as we want to get to know them. Because you consider what’s going on at Starbucks. I mean, Howard Schultz in the 90s was, he was second only to Black Jesus, right? I mean, everybody loved Howard Schultz. And because that was still during a period in which we worshiped these corporate titans and he retired rich. Fast forward to 2020.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hahaha!

Jason Greer: 2021 Starbucks is being unionized out. It’s damn near impossible. It’s damn near impossible to believe 20 years ago that Starbucks would ever go union. Now you have well over 300, 400 Starbucks stores that have gone union, right? So the idea was let’s go ahead and bring Howard Schultz off of his yacht without respect to Howard Schultz. And let’s take this 40, 50, I think he’s in his 50s, maybe early 60s, year old.

White man and put him in these stores where now he’s standing in front of groups of employees who have multicolored hair.

Don’t understand why they can’t wear their Black Lives Matter pendants, right?

They have $200,000 worth of college debt or student loan debt. And they’re making 15 bucks an hour serving coffee to a bunch of privileged people who get upset because they didn’t get three shots of vanilla, right. In their latte. And we’re going to ask this man to identify with their issues.

It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work if you weren’t already doing it. But if the only reason why you’re doing it is because you want to prevent a union as opposed to you’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do, that’s why we’re seeing an uptick in unionization because employees by and large feel like companies do not care about them. But it’s the companies that directly demonstrate. And when I say correctly, correctly.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm.

Jason Greer: Simply means that they understand their employees in terms of what their employees need, and that’s what they get to those employees. The worst thing to happen to you as an organization is not being targeted by a labor union. The worst thing for you as the organization is when you choose not to do anything about

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Do you think labor unions are shooting themselves in the foot by negotiating the company into contracts that make it harder for those organizations to be agile to, you know, survive?

Jason Greer: 100%. When you look at the UAW contract that was just settled with General Motors and, you know, with basically the big three, was it General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, I think they call it now.

Fantastic. I mean those contracts are fantastic. When you look at the contract that UPS settled with the Teamsters, they’re fantastic contracts. But do they make fiscal sense in the long term? Because I can pay you out right now, but it’s the exact same scenario that the Carmakers discovered when they were back in the 70s and the 80s when they were given these you know, lifetime health care pensions and all that great stuff to those employees.

And then when the economics changed, when the economy became global, then they couldn’t afford to uphold those contracts and they stopped being as agile. They stopped being able to meet the demands of a global business base. So I think by and large unions that if a union is going to do something that’s going to be good for the employees, that thing has to be.

Not only what’s good for them today, but what’s going to be good for the organization five years from now. Because if it’s good for the organization from a financial sense, it’s going to be good for the employees in terms of having jobs.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So do you believe that the minimum wage earner in America is being exploited? I mean, there are a lot of people who are in these unions that believe that it is an exploitative system.

Is that wrong? Are they being?

Jason Greer: Who I think are being exploited by whom.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: By capitalism? Are they being underpaid and over exploited?

Jason Greer: I don’t know that I would say…No forget that I do believe in a living wage I Do believe that America continues to get more expensive? Where a six-figure salary? 20 years ago is a baseline salary today, right? Given the nature of just inflation and everything else that comes with it I think that

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm.

Yeah.

Jason Greer: The challenge that America has, and I’m going to take this off the worker, and I’m going to say America in terms of the system. Again, given my age, when I was 16, all I heard from my parents was get a college education, get a college education, get a college education. That mattered. And I got my college education. I went on, I got my master’s degree, and I went on, I got another master’s degree. I founded a business. I’ve been incredibly successful.

But that’s harder to say to the average 16 year old today. That’s harder to say to the average 21 year old today, because the mechanism by which they could have a slice of the American pie, right? The mechanism by which they could have a life within the middle America.

It costs too damn.

I mean, if I’m going to go in and get my college education these days, which I still, I’m a huge proponent for education, because I don’t believe that you go to college to get a job. I believe you go to college to learn how to think, right?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm.

Jason Greer: The challenge is how do I say to an 18-year-old who doesn’t play sports, who’s not intellectually gifted to the point of being able to have a full ride, who does not test particularly well on the ACT or SAT?

Therefore, they’re not going to get scholarships. How do I say to them, you know what? I know you’ve been living in your mom and daddy’s home for 18 years, but now you’re gonna go in and get your four-year degree.

And you’re going to go into debt for about maybe $150,000, $200,000. But make sure you major in business. Make sure you major in science. Make sure you major in something that’s actually going to pay you well. But don’t major in art history. Don’t major in social work like I did. Don’t major in philosophy. Don’t major in psychology. The things you might enjoy, because then you’re going to come on. You’re going to be working at Trader Joe’s, but you still have this huge bill that you’re going to get hit by, but within six months to a year after graduation, if not before that.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm.

Jason Greer: I think the problem with America in this, when we talk about exploit exploitation, I don’t know that it’s the workers who are being exploited as much as we have a system that just does not consider anybody other than the ultra rich. But in order to get to the ultra rich, I’m not speaking as African American. How was that born into money?

I am the second generation college graduate. I am second generation. My dad was first generation middle class. I’m the first generation upper middle class.

I could go on and on about this, but I think that as a whole America, we have to do almost a great reset. Because if we’re not careful, we’re going to take this upcoming generation of people who deserve better than what we’re leaving them with. And we’re going to take this new generation of folks who could be incredible workers, who could be incredible thinkers, could be incredible producers, creators. We’re not gonna leave them with anything other than broken dreams.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So what’s interesting is the CEOs that we work with, I would say by and large get that because they’ve hired us to help them with their culture. And it’s not, more often than not, it is not organizations that have a bad culture that are trying to fix it. More often than not, it’s organizations that have a good culture that wanna leverage culture to drive even better results because they know the power of culture.

Jason Greer: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So we’re not dealing with a lot of toxicity, right? We’re dealing with CEOs who quote, get it. You in the labor relations unionization prevention work, I would imagine maybe deal with a couple more toxic CEOs than we do. I mean, when you speak to CEOs about this, does it fall on deaf ears? Are they open to learning? What is it that you’re experiencing when you have these deeper conversations with the leaders of major organizations?

Jason Greer: That’s a fantastic question. You know, I’ve been very blessed in my life with the rare exception of maybe three or four organizations who I’m not going to name whatsoever. I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to work with and counsel companies that get it. And if they didn’t get it, then they get it now, right? CEOs who I’ve had to have some very tough conversations with about how they show up to the employees.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Jason Greer: How they show up to their managers, how they show up to their executives, and they get it. It doesn’t mean that they get it instantly. It doesn’t mean that they don’t fight me. But I’ve had to tell a couple CEOs, you know, you hired me for a reason. And if you want somebody who’s going to tell you what you want to hear, there’s a bunch of other consultants I can recommend to you. But if you want someone who’s going to tell you what’s really happening in your facilities, if you want someone who’s going to tell you what your executives really think about you,

That’s why you hired me so that I can make you better. So I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve had executives who take the hard criticisms and they come out fighting, but they don’t come out fighting in terms of getting rid of everybody. They come out fighting in terms of, okay, that was hard to hear, but I want to change and I want to help this organization grow because I know I’m not going to be here forever, but I want to make sure that whoever takes over for me is in a better place than what I was when I inherited this place.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm, that’s beautiful. Okay, well, I have more questions for you, but I know that there’s also callers that have some as well. So why don’t we go to the callers now to see what questions I have for you.

Jason Greer: Absolutely.

I’m sorry.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Thanks for watching!

I would love to be in the house.

Jason Greer: Hey, well first I would love to be on your podcast so I can talk about my dad and talk about my mom. If you ever are looking for a guest, I would do that in a heartbeat. My parents are everything. And when I say my parents are everything, my parents, look, my father was a, he was a cotton farmer in Denmark, Tennessee. And my mother grew up in Crystal State of Missouri.

And both were impacted directly more, my mom more so than my father until, so later on, um, by segregation and by racism. And my parents brought me up in such a way that they made sure that I understood the society I was coming into, but they also made me under help, help to make me understand that despite what the world thinks about you, it’s not what the world calls you is what you answer to, right?

My parents have loved me, loved me legitimately from day one. And my dad’s 86, my mom’s 81. And I will tell anybody and everybody that I am a living testimony to the legacy of Jerome and Elaine Greer. I’m proud of the fact that I founded a scholarship and behalf of my father called the Dr. Jerome Greer Scholars for my high school, which I went into the Hall of Fame for in October 14th this year, where

Four students, freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior, and it revolves obviously as people graduate, are recipients of the Dr. Jerome Greer Scholarship because I believe in giving my parents their flowers while they’re here. I’m in the process now of creating a scholarship with or a fellowship with Southern Illinois University of Carbondale with their medical school called the Elaine Boone Greer Fellowship.

For nurses who have decided, because my mother’s a retired nurse, who decided to go into medical school. So, I’m just, I’m proud because I can honestly say that I am their legacy, and I’m making sure that their legacy carries on. So to answer your question, and I could talk about my parents for days, my parents are awesome, and they have loved me from day one, I love them so much.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: That’s wonderful. I love that story. Okay. Next caller.

Wonderful. What is your question?

Jason Greer: Wow.

Fantastic question. I am old school and I will tell you from an old school perspective, it’s going directly to them and asking them, what do you need in order to feel like you’re valued here in this organization, right? Because what we typically see is when people come to the door, they’re really excited, but then oftentimes there’s something within a culture that changes them, either their excitement level continues to rise or their excitement level begins to diminish. I’m a big believer in actually going directly to the employee and asking, what do you need here?

Given the job description, but what do you need here in order to make sure that this is a place where you feel valued, seen, heard, and appreciated?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Well, that’s allyship, right? I mean, that’s being an ally in creating an environment where someone can thrive according to them. It’s figuring out what they need. I wanna talk about, I wanna talk with you, if it’s okay with you, about a moment in which you were an ally to me. We were both on Squawk Box, we were guests, and talking about the tech layoffs at the beginning of 2023, a sharp…

Jason Greer: That’s it.

Yes.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Pivot from the great resignation of that marked 2022, suddenly everyone was getting laid off. And we got interviewed together to talk about, it was the first time we met, it was actually live on air, talking about the tech layoffs. And Andrew Sorkin asked me a bunch of questions first, I think, and those questions were, you know, what’s wrong with these people that…

Jason Greer: Right.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: They want puppies and they want all of the perks that millennials and Gen Zers are stereotyped as wanting. And I gave him some kind of answer. I can’t even remember what the answer was basically. And he came back at me and said, yeah, but, yeah, but, and kind of pushed me in a way that I got, I ran out of answers. He kept coming back at me with basically the same question so many times that eventually what I said was, well, I don’t know.

Jason Greer: Yes.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Why don’t you ask Jason what he thinks? Because I had nothing left for him, you know? And then, and I just punted to you. And then you took over, you handled it masterfully. Thank you, you got me out of hot water, but also you were, you know, incredibly intelligent in what you were saying because this is your world. And somehow he was happy with what you said, not what I said, even though I think we were saying kind of the same thing. And I hung up that call feeling so frustrated

Jason Greer: Thank you.

Yes.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Irritated with Andrew and I talked to Lynn, a mutual friend of ours, and she let me know that you were feeling for me in that moment and that you…you felt like he was bullying me. And then you reached out to me and you told me, I’m sorry, how did that make you feel? I mean, you were just a listening ear.

You didn’t have a solution, right? You just said, I just wanna acknowledge what just happened and I wanna be a listening ear and tell you that I have empathy for this situation. And that wasn’t cool. And I felt so touched by that. It’s something that I remember to this day as being very profound because I felt like…

Jason Greer: Yes.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I was seeing like there was someone that was on my side in this situation that felt very difficult for me. And that was a beautiful example of allyship. We don’t see a lot of that in corporate America today where people just have each other’s backs.

Jason Greer: Yeah, I’m gonna save this. Oh, please.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So I’d love to hear, yeah, your experience with that.

Jason Greer: It felt so personal. And because if you remember, he didn’t really ask a question. He stopped asking questions and started throwing barbs at you. And I remember thinking to myself, first, and I tell anybody, everybody, Lynn Smith is one of the best people I’ve ever met in my life. What she has done for me on a professional level, personal level, I can never fully repay. And so,

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm.

Haha, right!

Jason Greer: We had met through Lynn, at least I think via email or something along those lines. And then we officially had our moment of actually meeting each other on one of the more it was a very tense interview. But I remember as you were going through I’m like, you know, we’re team Smith here. We’re team Lynn Smith. You can’t do that to my teammate. And I’m just getting, I’m getting, I can’t quite say angry, but I remember thinking to myself,

Jessica brings so much to the table. And it seems like you are going out of your way to belittle her and make her look small.

And so when it, when you threw it back at me, I was just like, thanks for putting me on coach. Let’s go. Right. And it, it just, it was a tough interview. I actually thought you handled it well. I thought that you did your best to stay as above board as you possibly could. I didn’t mind that you pivoted, that you threw it to me because I felt like in that moment, whether you saw it or not, we were teammates and.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm.

Jason Greer: Because we weren’t there, you weren’t there to try to make yourself shine. Even though, look, let’s be honest, being in the national media, especially for the places that you and I have been able to, to be interviewed by is fantastic from terms of how people view you and all those things. But fundamentally we are there because we are subject matter experts who are seeking to give people our opinions, our perspectives on things with the hope that it helps them in some form or fashion. And not everybody’s going to agree with everything you have to say, but nevertheless, you’re there to say it, right? I felt like it went from that to.

I just don’t like you. And let me tell you why. And it’s so fascinating we’re talking about this, because I was warned about the fact that everybody sort of has their moment in the hot seat. And it doesn’t matter if you’re on CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News, whatever.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Jason Greer: It could have been maybe a year later, I had my moment in the hot seat with Andrew. And we were talking about the move from, I think it was Goldman Sachs, who was pushing people to come back into the office, right? I went into the interview, I was exhausted. When you talk about, you know, lack of sleep, right? I was exhausted. I’ve been on the road for probably think at that point, maybe about two and a half months straight with maybe one weekend at home.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Mmm.

Jason Greer: Get the call from CNBC that they want me to come on to talk about the Goldman Sachs Initiative. Flew in at 3 a.m., I’m in a hotel room, wake up at 5 a.m. so I could do this 5.45 a.m. hit. I’m already tired, but behind that was, I had spent all this time with these employees for the better part of two and a half months, many of whom were making so little money that they were having to get state aid for healthcare.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Jason Greer: Stay aid for food, Jessica. And.

When I read about people being upset about, you know, Goldman Sachs employees being upset about having to go back to work or go back to the office, thinking…

Many of you probably are six or seven figure a year income owners. And you’re being asked to go back to the office, but I’ve been sitting down with employees who are scared to death of getting sick because if they get sick, they lose everything.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Jason Greer: And I just wasn’t feeling a whole lot of sympathy.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I’m going to go ahead and turn it off.

Jason Greer: And then I’m in front of Andrew who doesn’t seem to feel like a whole lot of sympathy for a lot of people. And he’s asking me these questions. And I just finally said, if your employer is telling you to go back to work, that’s where you go.

And then he started to challenge me, but he started to challenge me in such a way where mentally I got stuck. I had other answers, but I was like, you’re not going to punk me.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Jason Greer: And I ended up coming across like an ass, like this insensitive ass, because I stopped thinking in terms of…people and I started thinking in terms of me versus him.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Jason Greer: And what’s fascinating though is after the interview was over, I linked in was just inundated with CEO saying, thank you so much for saying what we can’t say. Thank you so much for saying what we choose not to say because of what social media is going to do to us. I’m like, well, what’s so, what would social media do to you? And then I found out cause social media destroyed me. Right. And I became the face for corporate greed and business insider did an article on it. And,

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Ugh.

Jason Greer: But blessedly, I got a round two. And it’s just, thank the ancestors because life allows you, sometimes you get an opportunity to, to write your own. And so it came back in the air. This is right after Labor Day. And they wanted to talk about the push for people to come back to the office.

And I got outside of my ego and started to talk. And I started to talk in a way that simply said, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging your employees to come back to the office. But if you’re encouraging your employees to come back to the office, simply because you want them to hold meetings in person, that’s not a correct reason to bring people back to the office. And Andrew and I forgot the other two folks, Andrew’s like, whoa, wait a minute, Jason.

This is a complete, complete departure from where you were three weeks ago. Did you get a bunch of Twitter hate? I wanted to say yes, but I wasn’t going to give them that. Right. That’s it. I said, no, I go, you’re just asking better questions, Andrew. And that, right. And that, that pisses me off a lot. I’ve not been invited back to CNBC since then, but I don’t, it’s okay. I hopefully I will, cause I love CNBC. I love Squawkbox, but it gave me an opportunity to actually state.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah

Jason Greer: How I feel about something without getting involved in the ego battle. And I learned quickly whether it’s on the air, whether it’s in person, whether you’re a leader, as much as you possibly can, understanding that all of us have healthy size egos, take as much of your ego out of the way and ask yourself the bigger question, what am I doing this for? And more importantly, who’s gonna be in power?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

It’s so beautiful. I hope what people take away from part of this conversation is how unnatural those news segments are in terms of fostering true dialogue. It is just soundbite, quick as you can, try and get something interesting to happen. It’s so, it’s just such a simplified version of the complexity of a real conversation. And…

Jason Greer: Poof, boy. Ha ha ha. Yes.

Yeah.

It is.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: It’s funny, when I started doing the news, everyone started thinking differently about me. You touched upon that briefly. There was some sort of new image that people had of me because I was doing news segments, which is a complete illusion. I was exactly the same. The only difference is I was, I happened to be on the news every once in a while, right? I wonder what that is, just seeing people in media that makes them somehow look bigger, like.

Jason Greer: Yes.

Yes.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: A bigger deal because I happen to know someone who knows someone in a newsroom that suggested that I get on TV.

Jason Greer: Yeah, but Jessica, be fair to yourself. People’s opinion of you would be far different if you got on the news and you sucked, right? I mean, right? You’re really good, you’re really good, right?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Perhaps. Yeah, but isn’t the talking kind of like performative? I mean, what substance is there to being able to talk well? I mean, I don’t know. Sometimes I beat myself up, but it feels like, is that a skill?

Jason Greer: Percent. Look, I will tell you, I love, love the news hits that I do. I love the media. And you’re right, it does change people’s perception of you. But it changes people’s perception of you because it’s not like you’re doing these Rudy poo. It’s not like we’re doing these Rudy poo, you know, startup sites. I mean, when you’ve been on CNBC, you’ve been on MSNBC, you’ve been on Fox, you’ve been on NewsNation.

You’ve been on News Nation, go on down the line, CNN.

They’re bringing you on because their hope is that you have something substantive to share. But I see it as a gift because, and I’ll speak for myself, I’m on the road well over 220 days out of the year, and I spend so much time in the weeds. When I say it’s in the weeds, I’m saying I’m dealing, I’m living in the stories of people across this country.

In multiple industries and multiple businesses. And it’s helped me to articulate and form an opinion, to form a perspective. And it’s not just my perspective. It’s based on the stories of people who I’ve been privileged enough to listen to. I’ve been privileged enough to converse with. And then to be able to actually demonstrate that on the air. It’s such a gift. I’ll give an example. CBS News out of St. Louis, Campbell TV.

KMOV TV, Channel 4 in St. Louis, and I’m originally from St. Louis, reached out to me on Wednesday of last week. And I’d just gotten off the road. I was tired. Common theme here, getting off the road and being tired, right? And the reporter, Melanie Johnson, a fantastic reporter, asked me if I would comment on this developing story of these nine African-American sanitation workers who work for the city of St. Louis. If I would comment on the lawsuit that they filed against the city claiming discriminatory treatment, as well as the fact that they were denied over time, despite the fact that they were routinely working over 40 hours a week. I had not heard the story. She sends me the news clip. I read it, digest it, and we do the story. And it turned out she’s a fantastic interviewer.

So I’m giving her my perspective based on what I know about labor law. I’m giving her my perspective based on what I’ve seen as it relates to diversity. To my ancestors be the glory that these after that news clip hits, I’m really proud because that’s my mom’s favorite TV station. So she saw and she’s really proud. All right.

A number of different workers reached out to me via LinkedIn, you know, other social media sites, they reached out to her saying that story that we did, and you’re talking about a two to three minute hit, that two to three minute hit actually made them realize that they were being discriminated against. Made them realize that when their employer said, we don’t have to pay you overtime despite the fact that you’re working well over 40 hours a week was a lie because Missouri labor law says you have to pay time.

Now, does that mean that all of those folks are really being discriminated against? Maybe not, or maybe so. But that’s to me as the power of doing an interview, that to me is the power of the media, is that it opens people’s minds, it opens people’s perspectives. And the fact that I can be a part of that, man, I’m honored to do it. If a high school called me today, right, it, I don’t discriminate, but high school called me today and said, Hey, we want an interview for five minutes. I was like, I’ll give you 10. Let’s go. Right. I just, I love it.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Well, that is the perfect segue to my last and favorite question, which is what is one question you don’t get asked in any of those interviews that you wish you would?

Jason Greer: Why do you love the hard times that you’ve encountered?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm. And why do you love those times?

Jason Greer: Because it’s made me into who I am today. You know, I was a victim of cross burnings when I was 17 years old, you’re talking 1991. I saw my father.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Jason Greer: Who chose to move to a city called Dubuque, Iowa, who moved there simply because he wanted to educate kids who happened to be white. He was a grade school principal. And my parents at that point had been married for roughly about 30 years at that point. So my mom and I stayed in St. Louis because of my senior year in high school. And I was still competing for football scholarships at the time. And so my parents did a commuter marriage and we had no idea that we were the first family to come to Dubuque.

Under the constructive integration plan whereby they’re going to recruit over 100 black families into the city or the course of 10 years. Nobody told us. So you have my father who is being, you know, receiving all these death threats by the KKK, the Kukos clan. You have my mom and I who don’t know any of this is happening. We just can’t understand why the windows in our home was being broken out. People were spray painted the N word all over our home.

And then we actually moved to the city, right? We officially moved to the city. And I went from this world of thinking that.

If I ate my vitamins, said my prayers, and made white people feel comfortable around me by being friendly and smiling and things like that, that everyone would like me. And all of a sudden I have these people putting up the high Hitler symbol or the salute when I would, when they walked by me or drive past me. I walk in the mall, little white girls who were like three or four years old, when they see me and they start running toward their father, screaming monster or whatever.

I’ve seen some stuff in my life, Jessica, and I’m really glad that they call her when she was asking the question about the impact that my parents and how it was brought up had on me.

Because it was because of my parents and it was because of the example that they set that I was able to endure. And it’s because of many of those experiences and other experiences that I’m not gonna tap into right now for purposes of this conversation that has allowed me to grow into the man that I am today, flaws and all, but I’m still so proud of who I’ve become. And it’s because of those hard times that I’ve gotten there.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: And I’m proud to get to know you and so grateful that you spent time chatting with us today and opened up, you know, and got real and shared you with us. Thank you so much. How thank you and how can people get a hold of you, people that are listening if they want to hear more?

Jason Greer: Thank you, Jessica. You’re fantastic, so thank you.

Absolutely. You can go to my website, HireGCI.com. Hit me up on Twitter at Labor Diversity, Instagram, Jason.Greer. You can hit me on LinkedIn, Jason.Greer. Talk to me. I love having conversations with folks. So please feel free to hit up any questions you have or anything of that nature. If I can ever be of assistance, I’ll be there.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Thank you so much.

Jason Greer: Thank you.

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