11 - Design Within Preach

Tyson has a cat on a leash and we speak to Amanda Turberville - Global Head of HR at Montway – about how her design and art background led her to HR. Good Segway? We cover the beginning of vaccine mandates by large employers, how art and other disciplines can create a great background for People, HR for fighters, and how to deal with defensive/aggressive employees. Great Segway. We nail it on this one.

Release Date: August 31, 2021

[00:00:00] Speaker 1: Warning. This podcast is about the realities of working in people operations. This is not a stuck-up PC compliance-based or employment law podcast about stuffy outdated HR practices. Shit will get real here and we assume no responsibility. [00:00:16]

[00:00:16] Tyson McKenzie: We had a strict no alcohol policy, and everybody was like, "Oh, don't drink. HR is here." Meanwhile, I'm like mid-crack for beer.

[00:00:24] Alexa Boggio: If they're that disengaged before, they're going to be disengaged at the office just be sitting at their desk looking at Facebook. They were going to find ways to [beeps].

[00:00:31] Speaker 1: This is the People Problems Podcast with Alexa Boggio and Tyson McKenzie.

[00:00:40] Alexa: Hi, Tyson. I'm not allowed to ask what's up.

[00:00:42] Tyson: I'm going to ask you what's up. No, I'm going to ask you what's up this week.

[00:00:44] Alexa: You know what is up? My dog is being a jerk. That's what's up. I gave her a treat that I buried honey on the bottom of, so that she'd lick it while I was recording and leave me alone rather than barking at me because she's ornery. She finished it in 30 seconds. Now I'm just hoping and praying that no one is hearing my dog during this recording.

[00:01:05] Tyson: That's fine.

[00:01:06] Alexa: Yes. That's what's up. My dog is a pain in the ass.

[00:01:09] Tyson: My cat's outside today. My husband got home early, so he's outside on his leash.

[00:01:14] Alexa: Amazing that-

[00:01:14] Tyson: Yes, my cat's on a leash.

[00:01:15] Alexa: -your cat has a leash.

[00:01:16] Tyson: Or my cat has a leash. Did I say my dog? Yes. My cat has a leash.

[00:01:19] Alexa: My dog has a leash, so we have that in common.

[00:01:21] Tyson: No, but my cat's actually really unruly. We live in the country and oftentimes neighborhood deers and other cats and stuff will come by and he will literally chase a deer. He chases deer.

[00:01:34] Alexa: Hmm. Does he ever catch them?

[00:01:36] Tyson: No, because he's on a leash because we can't in good faith. It is not [crosstalk]

[00:01:39] Alexa: How long is that leash?

[00:01:41] Tyson: It's a really long leash and it has a spring on it. I cannot in good faith allow my cat out into the wild. There would be carcasses turning out.

[00:01:50] Alexa: When did humans start putting cats on leashes?

[00:01:53] Tyson: When they started to kill all the neighborhood animals.

[00:01:55] Alexa: [Laughs]

[00:01:56] Tyson: Honestly, I cannot trust him outside.

[00:01:58] Alexa: Is this an outdoor cat that's a psychopath and not an indoor cat that you're sheltering?

[00:02:03] Tyson: He's an indoor cat and he does need to be sheltered, but I don't know what went wrong with him [laughs].

[00:02:10] Alexa: This is why I'm not really a cat person.

[00:02:13] Tyson: Ah, he's so cute though.

[00:02:14] Alexa: Yes. I have friends that have an outdoor cat. It gives no fucks about anybody, but it always comes back. It's always around hanging out, eating mice.

[00:02:24] Tyson: They always come back.

[00:02:25] Alexa: They know who feeds them. They're not stupid. Amazing. Well, I'm a dog person and you're clearly a cat person.

[00:02:32] Tyson: I'm actually not. I'm not. I'm really not a cat person.

[00:02:34] Alexa: Then how'd you get a cat?

[00:02:35] Tyson: Because I lived in a shoebox in Toronto for a long time and I couldn't get a dog. I was going to college. I was never home. I just needed a pet and I love my cat more than anything in the world, to be totally honest, but I am definitely a dog person [laughs].

[00:02:49] Alexa: What's your cat's name?

[00:02:50] Tyson: Wolf.

[00:02:51] Alexa: How old is Wolf?

[00:02:52] Tyson: He just turned six, I think.

[00:02:54] Alexa: Is he a special kind of cat or is he just a cat? I don't know my breeds.

[00:02:59] Tyson: No, he's just a black, long-haired cat adopted. He came in off the streets, which maybe is why [laughs] he's so bad.

[00:03:07] Alexa: He needs a leash. Yes. The rescues you can never tell. Ours has stomach issues and I'm like, "Well, she ate garbage off the streets of Arkansas for a year." Of course, she has stomach issues. Amazing. All right, Tyson. Well, it's still August and you're still a Leo. How's the month treating you?

[00:03:28] Tyson: Well, August we just-- actually, no, I guess it's like mid-August at this point when people are listening, so hopefully August is still treating me well, but so far so good.

[00:03:36] Alexa: All right. Are you feeling your moon energy change and such, whatever that is?


[00:03:44] Alexa: I'm trying to learn. You're teaching me slowly. You're going to make a hippie out of me yet.

[00:03:48] Tyson: [Laughs] Well, I think that that brings us to our pops in the news because that's going to [crosstalk].

[00:03:52] Alexa: I think it does.

[00:03:53] Tyson: I think this is going to be an interesting conversation.

[00:03:55] Alexa: We might stay a cat person and dog person for this once. All right. We will move ourselves to pops in the news.


[00:04:13] Alexa: Before you put your gloves on and prepare to virtually hit me, Tyson, I will preface this by saying the spin on this article is very much geared towards the divide amongst different types of workers. New York Times came out with an article. At this point, it'll be a couple weeks old, but early August, that is about workplace vaccine mandates revealing a divide amongst workers. Not a surprise. This is largely about large employers. Walt Disney, Facebook, Google, Walmart have decided for at least their headquarters employees to require vaccines.

The article is talking a little bit about what this actually winds up doing, whether or not you believe in vaccine mandates, and all that stuff, we can come back to that. What it's actually doing is it's causing like a bit of a cultural rift because they're saying, "Well, you're requiring HQ to get vaccinated but the in-store workers and the frontline people, you're not requiring that?" Like WTF like, what the fuck, which I understand. Walmart's got like 17,000 employees, 1.6 of them are in their headquarters, so like, "Okay, cool." 10% of your population has to be vaccinated.

It sounds like the big concern here, and this is what I'd love to get your thoughts on before we introduce our guests, is just how do you make the decision when basically what you're saying is it is, as a large employer, a public health responsibility, at least in Walmart's eyes, according to this article, to require the vaccines were possible. Because there is a labor shortage right now, if you require it in places like your stores, you will literally not be able to open them because you won't have enough employees. This is like the right hands not talking to the left, and you're doing different stuff for different people. Discuss.

[00:05:59] Tyson: First question, because it can be different in the States, how is vaccine accessibility? Can anyone who wants a vaccine go and get a vaccine for free?

[00:06:09] Alexa: Yes. You can get a vaccine for free.

[00:06:10] Tyson: Yes. The same as in Canada.

[00:06:11] Alexa: Look, and let me preface that by saying I don't know every corner of the United States. It's a large place. There are, from what I understand, places where it can be hard to get to the closest, but it's the same places where it's hard to get an abortion. It's the same place where it's hard to get to the doctor. These are known areas. It is not because the US lacks access to vaccines, it is not because they are not covering them for the population. That is not the issue.

[00:06:34] Tyson: I think just what confuses me in this situation is, I guess the reason for not requiring it is solely based on the fact that they have a shortage of workers and they can't get workers unless they--

[00:06:46] Alexa: You don't have to be at HQ is my guess, like we just did this for a fucking year and a half. HQ is optional, for most people is my assumption. They're like, "We can make you get vaccinated? You don't have to be here."

[00:06:58] Tyson: Yes. I don't know, I'm struggling to comment on this because-

[00:07:02] Alexa: Get it out.

[00:07:03] Tyson: -I'm just going to say it very clear, I do not agree with mandating vaccinations for employees. I do not think it has any place at all. I'm concerned about it. I feel very strongly that we should never ever, ever put people in a position where they need to sacrifice their beliefs, their body autonomy, anything like that in order to be employed. I do not agree with it. I am by no means an anti-vaxxer at all, like I'm not an anti-vaxxer. I don't want people to call me a Trump box, because I'm really not anti-vaccine, but I am very much pro-choice in every sense of the word as it relates to your body and your body autonomy.

It's hard for me to comment on this because my first thought is, "Why the fuck are people doing this? Why have we gotten here?" I really wish we weren't in this place where even the HQs were mandating it.

[00:08:06] Alexa: Individual body autonomy and public health are literally at odds with each other. They're literally oil and water. You cannot get herd immunity, and we've immunized people hundreds and hundreds of times for hundreds and hundreds of things. You literally can't get population immunity if everybody gets their choice. In this particular instance, this particular moment, there's all this disinformation, misinformation, whatever, it doesn't matter what your news channel is. They're literally at odds with each other.

As an employer, maybe we've talked about this once before, but I think what's happening here is you're seeing employers go, "Nobody else is going to stop the buck, I'm going to stop the fucking buck because we've got to get back to life as normal." They're the only people that really have the ability to say, "All right, well, politics isn't going to do it for me, the government in some instances isn't going to do it for me." It's like the base camp guy just being like, "No more politics with the office."

The employers have-- They are in a way this weird, what's the right word? I don't want to say a racer, but they're this weird sponge of culture that also has to be efficient and keep people moving. In a lot of ways, it comes down to the employers in these instances, because there's too much other crap in the way for any of these other good regulatory bodies to do it. You'd think the public health officials in these first-world countries would have a better line of sight and a better open dialogue with government and we'd have better understandings of are booster shots required? What's this vaccine doing?

The good news is that we have millions and millions and millions of people that have been vaccinated at this point. Hopefully, all the misinformation and disinformation should we get rid of, which is a lot of data, but I agree, I think it's a little ridiculous that businesses now have to be church and state all at the same time, but who the fuck else is going to do it?

[00:09:54] Tyson: I guess. Where I am currently located in my city, we have 83% of people with their first vaccine, which is likely going to be 83% of people that eventually become fully vaccinated. In my opinion, I think that because we were originally told 75% herd immunity. Sure. I don't like the moving targets. I don't like government getting involved. I don't like the workplace getting involved. I have very, very strong beliefs about freedom of--

[00:10:23] Alexa: You have a chicken pox vaccine?

[00:10:25] Tyson: I do not have the chickenpox vaccine. I had chickenpox as a child, so I do not have that. Again, I'm not anti-vax. I literally got my tetanus shot like five seconds ago because I'm a hundred years pregnant. I'm really not.

[00:10:39] Alexa: It could be a big kid.

[00:10:40] Tyson: I think the vaccines have a very strong, positive impact. My child would be vaccinated. I don't have any issues with that. I just don't like people feeling as if they're forcing it on people.

[00:10:50] Alexa: It just seems silly that employers have to be the ones to step in.

[00:10:55] Tyson: Yes. I don't like that.

[00:10:55] Alexa: I think that's why it's uncomfortable. It's like, we should be able to figure this out before it gets to, "Well, I'll lose my job if I don't do it."

[00:11:02] Tyson: It's also such a new vaccine. It is emergency approved. Look, we're going to have a shitload of data in a few years, and then in that case, sure, maybe. I don't know. I don't know, we should probably wrap up this conversation, but I feel very strongly that employers should not have to do that.

[00:11:20] Alexa: I think they shouldn't have to. I understand why they are. Part of me looks at this though the federal government just should be doing this. It just should. There should be more data about it. We should have more clear trust in the people that have created this vaccine.

[00:11:32] Tyson: That's it. Don't get me started on big pharma.

[00:11:34] Alexa: Just because it's new doesn't mean the science is bad. Let's not conflate those things.

[00:11:40] Tyson: [unintelligible 00:11:39]

[00:11:39] Alexa: The messaging is so fucked at this point that it's like politics. Everybody just got so fucking fed up with it.

[00:11:45] Tyson: It's become political.

[00:11:46] Alexa: You start to see these employers go like, "Let's just cut this shit all the way out of the office because this is unruly."

[00:11:52] Tyson: I could not agree more. I hate that it's political.

[00:11:54] Alexa: It sucks. It just sucks that there's no trust and employers are just like, "I got to do it. I think this article highlights that you're seeing this struggle with employers and I'm very excited to get our guest's thoughts on this, but you're starting to see employers go, "Well, nobody else is going to do it. If I can do it in these batch examples, these guys but not these guys, and these guys but not these guys, I can try to play the card of like I'm covering my from a liability perspective, but I'm also doing something good." It's a cluster fuck. It's a total cluster fuck. It makes no sense that Walmart's like, "Oh, just HQ has to get vaccinated."

[00:12:30] Tyson: Oh yes. That doesn't even make sense to me at all.

[00:12:32] Alexa: It doesn't make sense.

[00:12:32] Tyson: [unintelligible 00:12:32]

[00:12:33] Alexa: It doesn't make any sense. It only works if we all agree on this or don't. It's a patchwork problem. Anyway, without further ado, I am very excited to introduce our guest, Amanda Turbeville. I think I'm saying that right. She is the Global Head of HR at Montway. She hires, trains, and retains by breakfast. That might be the best tagline for a professional we've had on the podcast yet. Hires, trains, and retains by breakfast. If you're not a copywriter, maybe in another life you should be.

With a background in interior design and a natural love for HR, she's been working in the space for over 10 years. She's been in the skincare, fitness, and transportation industries. She works best in unconventional environments and the "gray areas." That reminds me of our buddy Dom. In her spare time, she takes on interior design projects and builds steampunk lamps. First and foremost, Amanda, hello, welcome to the podcast.

[00:13:20] Amanda: Hello.

[00:13:20] Alexa: I have to say you're after my own heart with your interior design background, but I promise not to talk about that for this whole thing because I could talk about that all day. You have to explain what a steampunk lamp is and why that's a hobby.

[00:13:37] Amanda: Because of my interior design background, one of the things that I struggled with was finding lamps, chandeliers, or something that I liked that didn't look like everything else. Long story short without getting anybody in trouble. I know some Chicago electrician connects that were actually doing the John Hancock and Willis Tower. They were updating the electrical in there, which had some vintage electrical pieces, such as pressostats, gauges, all of those old school kind of thing.

[00:14:14] Alexa: I'm going to pretend I know what those are.

[00:14:14] Amanda: I took all of those pieces drilling into them and just started creating these lamps per se floor lamps.

[00:14:23] Alexa: Can I ask you the ignorant question?

[00:14:25] Amanda: Yes.

[00:14:25] Alexa: What makes it steampunk?

[00:14:28] Amanda: The look.

[00:14:29] Alexa: Is that just the look?

[00:14:31] Amanda: It's just the look. Yes.

[00:14:33] Alexa: I feel like steampunk gets used a lot now and I'm like, "I don't actually know if that's a style if that's just a--

[00:14:38] Tyson: I don't know that is, I've never heard of that before. Steampunk.

[00:14:40] Alexa: It reminds me of Mad Max. Every time I think steampunks, I just think of Mad Max, but that's probably not accurate.

[00:14:47] Amanda: It's more a look. I'm sure if you spoke to somebody who's really into that era and the steam pump, they'll be like, "No, that is not true. Really when it comes to look in a tire, they're steampunk, but it really gets confused by people thinking it's industrial, which they are different.

[00:15:02] Alexa: They are different. They are truly different.

[00:15:04] Tyson: I'm looking up now and I've just seen pictures of like old school girls wearing bustiers.

[00:15:12] Alexa: Yes. There's a lot of that.

[00:15:16] Tyson: [aughs]

[00:15:16] Alexa: This is a rabbit hole we'll have to go down-

[00:15:18] Tyson: [laughs]

[00:15:18] Alexa: -the recording because I don't know where the steam punk Google is going to take us. For all of our listeners, we'll spare them. Do us a favor, Amanda, talk to us a little bit about how you go from-- You went to a school for interior design. Yes?

[00:15:33] Amanda: Yes.

[00:15:33] Alexa: Tell us how you go from interior design to Global Head of HR. Let's start with that.

[00:15:37] Amanda: You know what? I don't even know how that happened. Well, I do, but I went to school and I'm like, "Yes, this is what I'm going to do." Then, during college, I got a job and grew. I was at that place for seven years. From there I grew from just working part-time and then went to a national trainer. Then I worked in the fitness industry, another company, and then I became Director of Compliance. It was just something that I naturally just started to fall into. Finally, I was like, "This is just my calling and I'm just going to start taking certifications and things of that nature." That's what happens.

[00:16:13] Alexa: The fitness where you worked, that was UFC?

[00:16:15] Amanda: Correct.

[00:16:16] Alexa: The gyms?

[00:16:16] Amanda: Yes.

[00:16:16] Alexa: Pretty fucking cool.

[00:16:18] Amanda: Yes. [laughs]

[00:16:18] Alexa: Wait, so at one point you're working for UFC's gym brand and you go, "Yes, I totally have an interior design degree."

[00:16:26] Amanda: No, no. I started interior design and ended up at Ultimate Fighting Champion, the Director of Compliance there. I don't know how that happened.

[00:16:35] Alexa: At no point, you were like, "I should probably go back and use my interior design degree" Or you were like, "I'll get there?"

[00:16:39] Tyson: Were you doing it on the side?

[00:16:41] Amanda: Yes. I've always done that on the side, let's say, but I feel that having that design and that art creative background is what helped me in HR.

[00:16:54] Alexa: [unintelligible 00:16:54] on top of that?

[00:16:54] Amanda: The creative fitting. Just that. Anything from--

[00:16:58] Alexa: Just to be clear, these are not concepts that people associate with HR. Nobody says, "Oh, design, creativity." Double click on that. Tell us all of your thoughts about how design and HR go together.

[00:17:11] Amanda: It's the creative thinking. You're here. You're drawing on paper. You're doing all of these engineer drawings, let's say, or whatever the case may be, working with architects. You're finding solutions to problems in more of a creative way. When you're HR and you're dealing with problems where something may stop you, but you've been all through these different channels within art, whether you paint or do all that, it helps you think more creatively, more outside of the box, versus being more, let's say corporate. No offense to anybody who's more corporate. I like to think a little bit more-

[00:17:44] Alexa: Fuck corporate.

[00:17:46] Amanda: -of the curve.

[00:17:47] Alexa: This is an incendiary podcast. Amanda, we're here to say crazy shit like "fuck corporate."

[00:17:50] Amanda: Oh man, hey, don't want to offend anyone. Got to be careful about that. [laughs]

[00:17:54] Alexa: I know. We love them.

[00:17:57] Tyson: I worked with interior designers in a past life. I always thought that interior design was picking colors and things that match and which pillow, but that's actually interior decorating. [laughs]

[00:18:08] Alexa: Right. Exterior decorating, interior design, architecture. Isn't there one in between those two that's you can move walls and structures, but you're not a full-blown architect?

[00:18:18] Tyson: I have no idea.

[00:18:19] Alexa: There's a bunch of gradients.

[00:18:22] Tyson: What's so interesting about interior design is there's actually a lot of psychology that goes into it. You want to know when you enter a space, where are you going to want to move and turn to turn on a light? Like, how are you going to be moving about that room in a way that makes sense? There's so much actual thought and psychology that goes behind it. One of the teams that I worked with, they did workspace or office space interior design.

What goes into that is actually so interesting because you want to be creating a place with the psychology first of how people are going to be moving about this space, using this space, thriving in this space. Making some of those connections, it actually really does loop back to HR in a lot of ways.

[00:19:09] Alexa: Amanda, do you ever use design thinking? That's a fad in the HR people space recently.

[00:19:17] Amanda: Design thinking? I don't even know. What is design think?

[00:19:20] Alexa: It's like scrum masters. It's okay. It's a buzzword.

[00:19:22] Amanda: For me, I'm always design thinking. For me, I'm just like, what is that?

[00:19:28] Alexa: It's like yes and thinking.

[00:19:29] Amanda: What are they trying to categorize it now? What's going on with it?

[00:19:32] Alexa: I'll totally butcher the framework. I think of design thinking like the idea of the shopping cart challenge, which is like the original, like, "Put a bunch of people in a fucking room, watch them use shit, watch them do shit." That's how you create shit like the computer mouse. That's how you create great, awesome, innovative design. That is not what design thinking is. Design thinking is like an organizational theory framework. Anyway, go ahead, Tyson.

[00:19:55] Tyson: Is that where the scrum people come from?

[00:19:57] Alexa: No, I don't think scrum's the same.

[00:19:58] Tyson: I feel like scrum is somehow connected. My understanding of design thinking was that you basically are just throwing spaghetti at the wall and nobody can say no. You're just throwing out brainstorming ideas and you can't ever say no, but it's more like, yes and thinking. It's just a way of brainstorming that really tries to remove any naysayers.

[00:20:21] Amanda: When you first told me about design thinking, I first thought I had to do something with the software. I know the software people are the ones who brought it to fruition. They always were.

[00:20:29] Alexa: I think it's this idea of rapid prototyping. It's this idea of, "Let's talk about what the customer needs and let's rapidly iterate on it. Then let's allow that to create new services, new processes," versus being like, "We have to create X out of Y." It's a more expanded version of being able to create that stuff. I just bring it up because it's one of those buzzwords that just for two or three years on the HR conference circuit recently, it's been like, "Oh, have somebody talk about design thinking" It's like, "Is anyone fucking using this?"

[00:20:59] Amanda: Does anybody really know what it is? They hear all of these theories of what it is. I'm just like, but what are we looking at for it?

[00:21:10] Alexa: What are some artistic theories, things that are actually from the art and design world that you actually think are applicable here other than just creative thinking?

[00:21:19] Amanda: To Tyson's point, it's more or less when you're an interior designer in that field, you're working a lot with people. Aside from the psychology of the actual design world itself, you're also making sure the person is happily, trying to get inside that person's head, trying to really evaluate this individual, what style they want because, for example, somebody come up to you would be like, "Hey, I like this style." You're like, "This is a traditional and this is contemporary. Where are we going with this?"

Really I have to be the one to really dissect it and be like, "We got to bring this together. Let's see if this work and make it work." There's a whole psychology to it as far as a personality aspect as well. That's what we're doing in HR, taking all these concepts together and making them cohesive within the company.

[00:22:12] Tyson: Specific for the team or the company. It's going to be bespoke based on what their goals are. When we're talking about this I'm like, holy shit. Interior design is basically HR.

[00:22:24] Amanda: Yes. A good way to look at it.

[00:22:27] Alexa: Amanda, you've cracked the code.

[00:22:29] Amanda: This is it.

[00:22:30] Alexa: This is it. It's actually really funny because when I was like, "Oh, it's so cool. She has an interior design background." I'm an interior design nut. You could ignore my messy apartment behind me, but I'm a nerd about this stuff, and because I like it personally. Nothing gets me more. If I could fuck off and blow time every day, I would be designing rooms and houses I don't own. It's my favorite thing to do but then you get people who see your place or your places or whatever and they go, "Can you do that for me?" I'm like, "Yes, except that you are the problem there."

I'll do it for you if you give me a budget and you give me some examples of what you like and you walk the fuck away and let me work. Then everyone's like, "If you love interior design, you should do that." I'm like, "First of all, no, I'm not going back to school at this point in my career. Second of all, I would have to deal with humans most of whom who have terrible taste and it would take all the joy out of it for me. I love the idea that you're making it cohesive and you're like, "This person wants contemporary. This person wants traditional and this person wants boho-chic and this person wants [unintelligible 00:23:36] and they don't understand that those are all different."

[00:23:38] Tyson: That they don't go together

[00:23:38] Amanda: The level of patience. I think the number one thing that I learned in interior design is patience. In HR, as you guys know, that is just one thing that you just have to-- Patience and understanding I think is you're just like, "All right." That was the number one thing. I'm just like, they keep flipping, changing and you're just, "No, but we agreed on this." You're just internally losing your mind, but you're like, "No, we'll make it [unintelligible 00:24:05]."

[00:24:06] Tyson: I also feel like you could pull a, "We could include both of those elements, but it wouldn't look the greatest." Then that's when the mind ninja comes out and you're like, "Look, we could do it your way or we could do it my way, which is much better," and blah, blah. Not that we all do that HR, but sometimes we have to. We have to educate them and show them the pros and cons and manipulate them a little bit here and there. Nothing wrong with that.

[00:24:36] Alexa: Everyone who listens to this podcast who's not at HR is going to be so fucking skeptical of the encounter. [unintelligible 00:24:42] person who doesn't suck and they'll be like, "I think I just got worked by Tyson." Amanda, just pull a hard right turn on this, but I'm sure it'll loop back. I am fascinated by the fact that you worked for Ultimate Fighting in their gym brand. Tell us a little. You said you were in compliance. That is a thing that we have not really talked about other than to say, "Dear God. God bless the people that have to do that," but also, "Oh my God."

I'm sure that's a pretty particular role for something like a fighting gym. Also, would just love to hear your experience about coming from compliance and the lens that gives you.

[00:25:16] Amanda: To your point, that was wild. I was there for five years and this is right. This is in 2010 when I started with them. They were just getting popular at that point. Two or three years in, they wanted to start opening UFC gyms. You guys may have seen them. They're now across the country and they needed somebody to deal with the compliance portion within the gym. Make sure the gyms are safe if they're putting up boxing rings and bags and the trainers, and usually, if I was going to a location, there was some concern there. That's why I went there. I was reviewing every solitary thing and making sure that they were following the right protocols, procedures, cleaning.

[00:26:04] Alexa: Did you love that they were sending you in once there was a problem, not before there was a problem?

[00:26:11] Amanda: I got used to it and people already knew. They were like, "Oh ma'am, here we go." [laughs]

[00:26:16] Alexa: What's some of the stuff that came up?

[00:26:19] Amanda: It was a lot of employee complaints. The trainers were being inappropriate. More HR-related stuff that was more compliant stuff, or the gym would not follow the actual-- There's a plan that they needed to follow. They didn't have the right materials. They didn't upkeep the gym. They didn't realize how much it was going to be. Things started falling apart, but it was mainly trainers being inappropriate. All of the trainers had to have a fighting background. Luckily, I didn't come across that too, but a lot of them had temper problems, things of that nature.

[00:26:54] Alexa: Oh, you mean men who fight quasi-professionally sometimes have anger issues?

[00:26:59] Amanda: Yes. They would go in the ring and go at it and sometimes it got serious. That was fun.

[00:27:06] Tyson: This is a public gym. I don't think we have these in Canada, but is this a public gym where you pay to be a part of and then you would just learn how to be a fighter there?

[00:27:16] Amanda: You can, or just fitness. Kickboxing. [crosstalk]

[00:27:19] Alexa: It's like a boxing gym you can just go use or you can take their classes and it's all branded with UFC.

[00:27:24] Tyson: These trainers would be just working with lay people, not professional fighters?

[00:27:30] Amanda: Right. We would have professional fighters come to the gym, visit the gym, things of that nature. Yes, all of the trainers though were professional fighters, whether it was boxing, kickboxing, MMA, jujitsu, Muay Thai, or even had a personal training, just strength conditioning background. You had to have that in order to be there.

[00:27:53] Alexa: Awesome.

[00:27:54] Tyson: This compliance role, was it under HR, or was it not an HR rule? Did it fall under an HR department?

[00:28:01] Amanda: No. At that time, it wasn't as structured as I would think it would be today. When I left there six years ago now, I've been with Montway for that time, they were just starting to get to a point where they were more corporate, but it was wild the first, I would say, three or four years.

[00:28:23] Alexa: UFC blew up. It's funny. As a former amateur boxer, I cannot imagine those facilities with any level of professional human resource insert any word you want for any of this into that. I'm talking dirty basement gyms full of dudes who just-- You got to hold your own in there.

[00:28:46] Amanda: Yes. That's how it was in the beginning, and I will admit I loved it. I loved every moment of it, but that's definitely an environment you need to love. You don't like that.

[00:28:58] Alexa: It's not for the faint of heart.

[00:29:00] Amanda: Actually, when they started to become more corporate and really started changing is when I'm just like, "This is just not really for me anymore."

[00:29:09] Alexa: Because it was less interesting or because--

[00:29:11] Amanda: Yes. It was less interesting. They're taking the personalities away from the trainers. You have to do this, you'd have to do that. I understand protocol, policies, and procedures, but it was more or less you go there, you can only do so many things when you're training in a class. They took the life out of the trainers where it wasn't fun anymore.

[00:29:31] Tyson: I was just saying let's unpack "it became corporate." Was it just things just became too cookie-cutter? There was no freedom in the way that they were able to do their role?

[00:29:41] Amanda: Yes. In the beginning, the trainers would be able to pick the music that listen to, to a certain extent, or they could pick a playlist that they want and Hey, I'll do my class with this playlist where the playlist now you have to follow is this playlist, or they would be able to wear their own. As long as it was UFC, they had t-shirts and clothes they can wear, whatever, but now in class, you have to wear this. It started really good--

[00:30:05] ?Alexa: It turned into Zumba.

[00:30:07] Amanda: Pretty much. Yes. You're pretty much--

[00:30:09] Alexa: Which is tough because you're trying to create an experience for the customer that is, in theory, going to make people want to go and is consistent and all those things. At the same time, you're wringing all the life and creativity out of the people who do it.

[00:30:21] Tyson: It takes out all their creativity.

[00:30:22] Alexa: Yes, exactly.

[00:30:23] Amanda: Totally. That was the issue. Then they tried putting me in polo and I said, I'm out. I'm not doing this.

[00:30:28] Tyson: When that started happening when things started getting more corporate, did you find that a lot of the trainers jump ship at that time, or what was the result of that?

[00:30:41] Amanda: Yes. Actually, now that I think of it when I look back, I still talk to some of the trainers, actually, most of the trainers that I developed a relationship with, none of them work there anymore. A lot of them, and of course life happens. It's been six years. Life happens. Some got married, whatever, but a lot of them did leave shortly after those changes started to be made.

[00:31:00] Alexa: Do you have any thoughts now? One of the things I find fascinating about this, and I think this is a really hot topic right now, is there's so many groups like this gyms, restaurants, whatever you have. You have these-- I don't want to-- "transient" is not the right word, but I can't think of a better-- I'm not very articulate today. I need more coffee. These groups of people where this is either it's a gig. For some people, it's a full-time profession but rarely is it a full-time profession for decades and decades. These are the kinds of professions that people use for stints in their career, supplemental work, additional work, extra cash, house money, whatever.

I'd be very curious to get your thinking. Now, looking back on that experience, having been in HR with this other group for quite a while, and with your design background, what do you think are the really important parts of those employee relationships that people often screw up? Because you cannot treat a part-time restaurant, retail, gym worker, and lifestyle the same way you would want to corporatize some other things that are easier to a regimen. I think these are fascinating populations that get overlooked in the HR community, and they're very hard to solve for.

[00:32:05] Amanda: When I worked at UFC, for example, a lot of the trainers that I work with. Because I lived in the Chicago land area, the Chicagoland just so happened to be, they had five or six locations at the time, was the number one gyms, like number 1, 2, 3 down the line gyms in the nation. I was there the majority of the time. A lot of the trainers that worked in the gyms though, they actually were more full-time. They were the full-time trainers.

I know once in a great while we would get somebody that would do it part-time, but I don't understand how, as a side note, some of these people would come and just fight their life away, have bloody eyebrow, and just go in the shower and then just come back out and just walk into like suit and tie and just like walk into their other job, but I guess [unintelligible 00:32:51]

[00:32:51] Alexa: I used to do it. I loved it.

[00:32:53] Amanda: They were just, "I just need to come here and just mess shit up."

[00:32:57] Alexa: Yes.

[00:32:58] Tyson: I feel like these kind of people love, love, love what they're doing, and it's like they're so passionate. I feel like it's a bit of a lifestyle.

[00:33:05] Alexa: Yes, and fighting aside. I just mean like you work at a gym part-time or you work at a shift job or one of these more like less structured, less 9-to-5 groups.

[00:33:17] Tyson: It sounds like they were mostly full-time trainers, right?

[00:33:20] Amanda: Yes. The training, because they had a lot of clientele but they were mainly full-time there. Yes, it was--

[00:33:27] Alexa: Maybe because it was a younger organization.

[00:33:28] Amanda: It was younger. Yes. I don't know if you guys have ever been to the Chicagoland area, that's where I'm from, but the areas that they put them in were prime locations. Any of the trainers there were more full-time trainers.

[00:33:40] Alexa: Got it.

[00:33:41] Tyson: Are these people that used to fight in the UFC professionally or no?

[00:33:45] Amanda: No. We did have a trainer, but these trainers did fight professionally. We actually had a trainer. He was a UK Muay Thai champion.

[00:33:54] Alexa: Muay Thai, there was no joke.

[00:33:56] Amanda: Yes. Trust me. He also taught me how to do Muay Thai and I loved it. Let me tell you, I got my ass kicked. Okay. I got a mark.

[00:34:04] Alexa: Someone tried to get me into Muay Thai and I wound up staying in boxing because I was like, I love my shin bones. I would like to keep them in intact. I'd just take shots to the face.

[00:34:10] Tyson: I did the Muay Thai classes in self-defense. They do it as self-defense classes, I think. I took one class. It was really silly, which is like me and my girlfriend and we were just messing around but. It's tricky.

[00:34:22] Alexa: All right. What other learnings from your time between InDesign or-- Excuse me. Interior design, InDesign is an Adobe program. It's probably stuck in my head right now. Design, ultimate fighting, and now you working in the auto industry. You've had a myriad of different experiences with humans. What are your big pillars and takeaways?

[00:34:45] Amanda: My number one thing that I say and I take with me, and it's not like I'm reinventing the wheel here, but my whole thought process, "If there's a will, there's a way situation." Any adversity, anything that's been thrown my way, there's always a solution to almost every single problem. From the start of being a national trainer up until now, it's a rare occasion where something, there's not a solution to it let me say.

[00:35:16] Alexa: That's that creative thinking though, to go full circle.

[00:35:19] Amanda: Yes.

[00:35:19] Tyson: Can you tell us, this is such a quintessential question, but a time that you had to overcome something and persevere through something? Whether it was an issue you're dealing with or something that stands out to you where you were like, "Oh, shit." Then you had to do something to persevere like you said to get through.

[00:35:39] Amanda: Yes. I was actually HR and marketing all in one.


[00:35:46] Tyson: Don't say anything else.

[00:35:49] Alexa: I love that, but also I know what you're saying and I felt for you.

[00:35:52] Amanda: The company at the time decided to let go of the marketing person there, and this marketing individual, I should say, was kneedeep into a project that we were doing for Chicago Bears. What I mean by kneedeep is that we were supposed to create a video and have all this mercha-- I don't even remember what it was. All I know was I had a week to create it. A week to create a script, a week to make sure it sends to the right people. Then we ended up streaming, and it ended up working out. Yes, they decided to let go of a marketing person. They're like, "No." I had to step in and I had to literally recreate this whole thing for the Bears.

[00:36:40] Alexa: It's pretty incredible that they tapped you to do that, because I don't know how many people there are in this profession that the marketing team would be like, "We lost somebody. Let's pull the HR chick. She's pretty handy. She's quite pretty and a bit handy."

[00:36:49] Amanda: [unintelligible 00:36:50] what they told me. For me going now in my chair like, "Is this a joke?" [laughs]. I think that they thought, "You have a design background. You can do marketing right."

[00:37:02] Tyson: You're creative.

[00:37:02] Amanda: Yes, totally.

[00:37:03] Alexa: This is what I always use to talk about with my major in college. My major in college is called commerce, organizations, and entrepreneurship, which is the liberal arts way of saying business. Depending on what I was interviewing for out of college, it was whatever the fuck I wanted it to be. It was like, "Oh, yes. I'm totally an econ major. Oh, yes, I totally studied business. Oh, yes, I totally studied sociology." Whatever I needed. I could've been a fucking art history major. With a title like that, nobody knows and nobody cares. Design is a little bit like that catch-all. It's like, "What is that? What kind of design?"

It's just such a big sticky term especially if you're not a creative and you're not a design type that you're like, "Oh, she's got these fine skills. Get them over here." Which I love because I think those are the-- I forget the side of the brain, left side, right side?

[00:37:45] Tyson: I feel like it's left side.

[00:37:46] Alexa: Left side? I think it's left side.

[00:37:47] Tyson: It's design-ey and creative.

[00:37:48] Alexa: I'm much more left-sided. People don't know that about me, but I don't think those are the gangster skills that there are not enough of in this profession.

[00:37:55] Amanda: It was definitely a journey. It was a journey, I'll call it that, that I would never forget and I'll always have.

[00:38:03] Alexa: What are you looking most forward to in the future of your journey in this profession?

[00:38:07] Amanda: Actually, I'm looking forward to actually partnering with universities, or being an advisory or counsel to really help mentor individuals or students to be either a leader and/or within HR, whatever they prefer, and help their careers. I think that's my next step where I need to change it up a little bit. I like to change it, so that's probably going to be my next step.

[00:38:34] Tyson: What would your advice be to someone who is like interested in going into HR?

[00:38:39] Amanda: "Are you sure?" No, I'm kidding.


[00:38:43] Alexa: It's usually my first question. It's like, "Just got to check that real quick."

[00:38:47] Amanda: The advice I would give is companies overall, and this is not necessary advice. Companies overall, you are not a revenue-generating department, HR. Company overall are going to look at you and be like, "What do you bring to the table? What is your revenue?" My thing that I could tell them is always try to be ahead of the curve and always try to make sure that you're being, again, the creative aspect when you go home to the department so you can make an impression, deliver solutions and you can be a little different within the organization. You're going to have to stand out. They're already going to look at you as not revenue creating, so you're going to have to do something within there.

[00:39:27] Alexa: You got to add value. It doesn't have to be revenue but you got to add value.

[00:39:29] Amanda: Exactly. You got to add value. Also, you're a businesswoman first or a man first. You got to think business first. Not anything else but that. That is number one.

[00:39:40] Alexa: [unintelligible 00:39:40]. Speaking of adding value. It is time to move us to our people problem.


[00:39:54] Alexa: Tyson, you got a problem for us today?

[00:39:56] Tyson: Yes. This problem comes from a listener. They want to know how to deal with an employee who is always defensive and aggressive. They didn't really add too much more context, but I thought that that would be really suitable for this conversation. Just in general, I guess, how to deal with people who are responding aggressively or defensively?

[00:40:20] Amanda: Well, one I think I need a bit more background.

[00:40:23] Tyson: Right. This question tends to be a little vague.

[00:40:26] Amanda: Yes. What happened, though, because I have questions. Really, the best way to handle that situation is to handle it head-on. I would just bring that employee in or bring the person in there, sit them down, and be like, "Look, we've had this discussion with you. We've tried mentioning this in multiple different ways." Again, I'm just looking at this as neutral because I don't know the backstory. "We just feel the way that you're responding you're just a little defensive. There may be something on your mind. I would like to get your thought process on why you're acting this way, or why do you decide to think this way or whatnot." I would just tackle it head-on and go from there.

Again, that's me not knowing the backstory, because there's always a backstory to it. Maybe they're even having a bad day for all I know. I don't know.

[00:41:14] Alexa: Any instances where you wouldn't tackle it head-on or the guy might put you in a chokehold? I don't know.

[00:41:21] Amand: Well, first of all, how did it get to that point? First of all, don't let it linger, because it sounds like this employee's always been this way. Why did we let it get that far? How come we didn't tackle it maybe the first time or even the second time that it happened?

[00:41:39] Alexa: Well, I think this brings up, maybe if I can subject myself on to this question. Maybe the question is how do you address non-performance-based issues that seep into situations? How do you, rather than just be like, "We don't like your personality." This person may not be fucking up. In a lot of instances, this sounds like this person could be like a salesperson maybe, aggressive, defensive, maybe there's some ego in there. This is the question of how do you address employees who are not fitting from a different perspective, not fitting from a dynamic perspective, not fitting from a personality perspective, versus you're clearly fucking up from a numbers perspective?

[00:42:21] Tyson: I would actually say, so that's how we're interpreting the question. When I'm having conversations and coaching on performance management, that is probably the hardest conversation to have because you cannot teach someone to have a different personality. Oftentimes, we'll talk, like when I'm chatting with the manager, I'm like, "Is this something that is trainable? Because we're wasting our time if it's not. There's only so much you can do, and if someone's not a good fit and it's creating a toxic environment that's impactful to other people, then it will have an effect on the performance."

I've had situations where people are like, "I'm afraid to speak up because I don't want this person to talk down to me or make me feel like I'm stupid," and then all of a sudden, the whole team has a performance issue. I actually find that those are the worst and oftentimes the hardest to deal with. Maybe a time where we wouldn't handle it head-on is if it was so bad that we had to move almost directly to firing the person. That does happen, especially depending on how aggressive this person is getting. No questions asked. This is just like, "Let's get rid of them."

I have a very, very low tolerance level for aggression, or someone who's creating a toxic environment for other people, which are then impacted and can't work and the team performance declines.

[00:43:38] Amanda: At that point, it's like, how long did it take to get to that decision and why did we let it go that long if it's affecting other people in the department?

[00:43:46] Alexa: Is this a situational thing? Is this the person>

[00:43:51] Amanda: This person has been here for a year and they've been doing this for the year. Why did we keep this person on for that long?

[00:43:57] Tyson: We so often do. Going back to what you said, Amanda. If this is just a situation where someone's being defensive, so oftentimes we'll give, let's say, negative feedback, and then the person's like well, it was some other reason other than their own. That's when being head-on is super important and never use the shit sandwich of feedback, which is a positive, a negative, and a positive. Be as specific in examples, tackle it head-on, do not beat around the bush. I think if people are just being defensive, and it's not an aggressive thing, it's just more like, "It wasn't my fault that I was not performing," tackling it head-on is for sure the best way to go.

[00:44:33] Alexa: Yes. I highly recommend the book Ego is the Enemy for anyone who has a very aggressive-- Just slip that on their desk and just leave that there. It's a great Ryan Holiday stoicism.

[00:44:42] Tyson: I was just going to say Ryan Holiday.

[00:44:44] Alexa: It's awesome.

[00:44:44] Tyson: It's great-

[00:44:44] Alexa: It pops as all his books do.

[00:44:45] Tyson: -level of stoicism.

[00:44:47] Alexa: Yes, maybe a little stoicism. What that makes me think of or the reason I bring that up is I would classify myself as definitely sometimes a defensive person, maybe more often than not. I think the question, again, if this person is just always that way, different conversation. This person is always aggressive. Just get them the fuck out of there. If there's a situation where you're seeing this change in someone and maybe it's spurred by a new team dynamic or a project dynamic or who the fuck knows.

[00:45:14] Tyson: A personal issue that you don't know about.

[00:45:15] Alexa: personal Issue. You never know what the fuck is going on behind closed doors with somebody unless you. Ask, check on the whole person. Also, it's okay to ask people what they're scared of. What are you worried about? Why are you being defensive? Not, "Hey, this is defensive," but also, "Why? You're in a good position here. People like you, you've done this, or you've worked really hard on that. What are you worried about here? What are you so scared of?"

Generally, I find defensiveness is a fear-based response.

Aggressiveness can sometimes just be that people truly don't fucking know. They have not been taught because you don't know people's parents, you don't know people's context. You don't know their family situation. Some people just don't have the situational awareness to know that shit fucking is aggressive and it's uncomfortable. To Tyson, it's well, you got to shut that down quickly and you got to call him on it and you got to be like, "I need you to understand why this is aggressive and uncomfortable." Beyond that, it's like, "What the fuck? What are you so worried about? What are the perceived consequences here that we are not seeing when we interact with you?

Maybe this person is worried that if they're not big shit on campus that they're not going to get this promotion. Then this boss isn't going to them anymore. Who the fuck knows? People are In their heads it's incredible.

[00:46:23] Tyson: There's bullies that get rewarded for-- They've moved their way up to companies by being a bully. They've just been awarded for that behavior.

[00:46:33] Alexa: Situationally unaware.

[00:46:35] Tyson: Situationally. Yes, for sure.

[00:46:36] Alexa: Who know, but you've got to ask. You've got to call people. I Think it helps them appreciate you. Because it's not just person telling me that they don't who I am and not to be the way that I am. They don't understand what's at stake here, why I feel this pressure? It's like, just call them on like, "Hey, man or women. Every person, everybody's got fear, what's your fear? What are you so scared of in this situation? Why are you being so defensive?"

[00:46:57] Tyson: Also, it should be the manager having this conversation.

[00:46:59] Alexa: A thousand percent.

[00:47:00] Amanda: Absolutely.

[00:47:01] Alexa: Thank you for fucking saying that, Tyson.

[00:47:04] Amanda: I've seen people that, for example, have moved up in different departments, for example, moving into, and maybe they worked well under this manager but they don't work well under this manager. Another thing that I've noticed to Tyson's point is managers or most people do not like to have these hard conversations. Instead of having these hard conversations here, this employee over here, it's building up and building up. That's when HR is getting involved. It's a matter of just having these hard conversations that a lot of people or not even HR, just managers do not like to have. They don't like these confrontational situations.

[00:47:45] Tyson: Screw that.

[00:47:45] Alexa: Or you're in situations where people just go to HR because the organizational structure's just lazy. Instead of going to people's managers, they just go to HR and it's like, "No, let's make your manager earn their paycheck first."Then I'll jump in and help if I have to." Shitty managers are the root of all evil. I think fe found the source of the people problems. All right. Amanda, any parting wisdom? How can people get in touch with you if they like what you have to say?

[00:48:12] Amanda: Well, you can find me on LinkedIn at A Turbeville. I won't spell it out for you, I'm sorry. I'm going to be here all day if I spell that for you.

[00:48:22] Alexa: It's all right. [unintelligible 00:48:22]

[00:48:23] Amanda: Yes. You can also find me on LinkedIn @IamTurbeville. Find me on there, my little antics.

[00:48:30] Alexa: Instagram you mean?

[00:48:31] Amanda: Yes.

[00:48:32] Tyson: On Instagram.

[00:48:32] Amanda: I'm sorry, Instagram.

[00:48:33] Alexa: You Have an adorable dog.

[00:48:34] Amanda: Thank you. His name is Wellington. I call him Beef for short.

[00:48:39] Alexa: Amazing.

[00:48:40] Amanda: He is 65 pounds of pure meat and cheese.

[00:48:44] Alexa: Oh, my God, he's so cute. That's awesome. I love him.

[00:48:48] Tyson: Thank you so much for being with us, Amanda.

[00:48:48] Alexa: All right, Amanda, thank you for being here.

[00:48:51] Amanda: Thank you. Bye.

[00:48:54] Alexa: This episode was executive produced by me, Alexa Boggio, with audio production by Ellie Brigida of Clear Harmonies. Our intro music was also done by the wonderful Ellie Brigida of Clear Harmonies. You can find more information about us and future episodes at peopleproblemspod.com, or follow us at peopleproblemspod on all--

[00:49:08] [END OF AUDIO]

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