We first talked to Mark C. Crowley in May of 2021 when people were starting to return to the office amidst a global pandemic that transformed the remote work paradigm in 2020
Around that same time, something called the Great Resignation was happening and just starting to garner attention. According to a report by the BBC, in 2021 an average of nearly 4 million people left their jobs each month.
The report goes on to say: “Experts suggest that two factors are fueling this trend. While the pandemic served as the trigger, the seeds of the Great Resignation were sown well before – and until the deep-rooted factors causing workers to quit are addressed, resignations are unlikely to subside.”
Mark is a consultant, speaker, fellow podcast host and author
of the book, Lead From the Heart: Heart-Based Leadership for the 21st
Century, which has been recently re-released in a new edition with
almost double the content as before. You can find out more about Mark,
his book and his podcast at his website.
On this week’s Truly Human Leadership podcast, Mark and I talk about the state of the workforce since the Great Resignation began, if it is still happening, how leaders should respond and other issues brought about by this long-simmering reckoning.
Well, anybody who was speculating that this great resignation was going to be a one and done has been proved wrong, right? So, this has been an enduring thing ever since we got together, as I suspected it would be. In fact, it was many years ago that I actually, in the first edition of my book, I wrote there's going to be an inevitability where people are just going to say, "I'm not willing to accept this as an exchange for work any longer." And it took much longer, and I never could've imagined that it would be a global pandemic that would tip the world into acting this way. But when I started to see that record numbers of people were quitting every month, I was the last one to be surprised. It just seemed completely aligned to what I expected. So you had two years of people that were working from home with plenty of time where they weren't commuting, and they had opportunity to start thinking about, "Is my ladder on the right wall? Am I working for the right company? Am I doing the right job? And by the way, what about my boss?"
And so, of course, when we deployed people to their homes for the first time, you had a lot of bosses just thinking that it was business as usual, like no change. All it is that you're working from home. That's the only variable. And they didn't realize that no, people were competing for computers, desk space. They had children at home doing remote learning. You had elderly parents. You had to immerse yourself in their lives in order to manage them. And a lot of people were like, "I don't want that. Just get me my report by eight o'clock, and everything's fine."
And so you call them at nine o'clock in the morning, and the kids are screaming, and you're like, "Hey, I need to talk to you right now." And the managers who kind of figured out that, "Hey, is this a good time to talk? Maybe you want to call me back in 15 minutes when you get that squared away?" those were the ones that made a difference. But the ones who just acted as if nothing was different, people just look at that and said, "This is not good. I don't want to work for somebody who doesn't see me as a human being and doesn't really care about me, who doesn't really want to make some accommodations for the challenges that I'm facing by working at home."
And so, the big picture is, coincidentally, that we're talking in November, and the September JOLTS report just came out, and we have... I think I saw a statistic that said that like 90% of the top CEOs in the country believe that we're heading in for not just a recession, but a serious recession. And so, the next step of that is that a high percentage of them are saying, "We may end up having to lay off people." So when you put that information out there, then people who are thinking, "I don't really want to stay in this company, I don't want to keep working for this boss. I want to make a change," you would think that would be tamped down, right, that people would say, "I can't afford to do that, because I'm going to be the first one let go if I'm the new guy." And instead, we only saw a very small decline. I think it was still 4.1 million people quit their jobs in September, and 4.2 a month earlier.
So, people were willing to take a shot and go somewhere else, because they're just so unhappy. So, I think, just the summation of your question is that the great resignation is our report card for how effective we've been managing people. And until we change how we're managing people and truly reinvent it with a completely different philosophy, I think you're just going to see it continue, even when... I think a great recession might make things a little bit more difficult for people to move as quickly, because jobs will become less plentiful. But irrespective of that, I think people are deciding that life is too short to work for either a boss or a company or both that just doesn't fundamentally value them as a human being first and foremost.
Well, something you were just saying, it reminds me of something that you tweeted the other day, and it's kind of funny that I saw this, because we just had a friend of ours, Lynne Twist, on the podcast, and she and I talked a lot about Buckminster Fuller and his influence on her. And you had recently tweeted a quote from him that says, "We never really change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." So with what you were just saying, at this point, how do we build a new model in business? Because the current one is so entrenched in our society and our culture, in our economic system. Even with the great resignation, the existing structure is still very much in place. So how does that get blown up, and how does that get built anew?
So I love that you pulled out that quote, because that quote just makes me smile every time I see it. And there's a little hidden story behind that in the sense that anytime I see something with Buckminster Fuller, I'm reminded of Amy Edmondson at Harvard Business School who worked directly for him when she got out of, I'm not sure whether it was her master's or PhD or where it was in the scheme of things, but she actually worked for him before he died. But the ideas that we need a new model but nobody's willing to embrace it is not lost on me.
And I love your word entrenched, because I think it's not just entrenched. It's part of the foundation that we think that the model of leadership is to pay people as little as possible, squeeze as much out of them as possible, keep them under some level of fear and intimidation. We think this is what's going to drive people's performance. And so, I really think that there are companies that are hurting. There are currently, even now, more job openings than there are people applying for jobs. So that means the companies are really struggling to find not just people to fill positions, but the right people to fill positions. Somewhere along the line, there have to be enough companies that are looking and saying, "What do we have to do to stop the bleeding?"
Just the other day, I was reading something that said that there's evidence now that managers are afraid to have any difficult conversation with an employee, like confront any performance problem because they're afraid that it's just going to be another person quitting and leaving, and that's going to leave them high and dry. So we're actually going in that direction. We're just not going to manage people, because we don't want them to leave. And I'm saying, "Okay, well, alternatively, why don't you take a look at how you're managing and what people don't like about it and maybe fix those things?"
So the first thing I would say to anybody from HR that's listening to this is there are two things you can do. By the way, I used to think this was going to be a top-down thing. I thought CEOs would see the science that I'm talking about and realize, "Wow, the guy's giving us a formula for changing how we lead." But even with them, they're like, "Well, why would I have to change? I'm the CEO of the company, and I've been successful. The people working for me have been successful. So why would we have to embrace anything new?"
So that's been the resistance that's been going on, and now I'm saying, "Well, it's happening from the bottom up. People are telling you whether they're applying or not applying, staying or not staying, whether or not they like your culture. And if you want to attract really great people and keep them, you're going to have to do something different." And I think there are many CEOs that are figuring this out. I had Bill George on my podcast just a couple weeks ago, and he's obviously a fellow at Harvard Business School, been teaching there for 20 years, and he said, "The people I talk to, the people in my circle, CEOs, they're on board with this. They know that they're going to have to make that shift."
So it's going to take time. You have to buy into the idea of it first. And so, I think the first thing that I would ask HR to do would be to start to measure where turnover's coming from, by manager, because the likelihood is they're principally responsible for it. It's not the company. It's largely how people feel they're being treated, cared for, and supported, or the opposite of those things.
So start there. I would do a quarterly survey. I learned this from Google. Karen May told me this. She goes, "We send out a quarterly survey, and we ask people one question, 'Would you recommend your manager to other Googlers?'" And I just love that. It's so binary, and it gives you such an immediate feedback that is so usable. And you start to look and say, "Well, what's going on with the managers where no one wants to recommend them?" And so, explore it. Go interview employees. What would make you recommend your manager? What's something that we might be able to coach this manager on? And then you start to work with those managers, ideally elevating the percentage of people saying, "Yes, I would definitely recommend my manager," but calling out the behaviors, "Here's what we're seeing consistently in the managers that aren't being recommended. These are the kinds of behaviors that we're seeing." We want to work with those managers to get there, but we want everybody else to understand what true north looks like, if you will.
And then, you obviously have to weed out the people who are unwilling to make those changes. So, the changes that we're looking for, we know, consistently, data shows this over and over, that people want to work for a boss that cares about them personally, that supports them, that makes them feel safe, that's appreciative, that grows them, develops them, all of those things. So that's the formula. But the binary question is, do you recommend them? Well, you start to work with these people that aren't getting recommended and elevate their performance or have somebody else take their job.
The other thing that I would suggest is that, and this is a higher hurdle for some managers, because I think there's still this fear. You hear the word heart, you immediately associate it with all kinds of softness, and, "This is going to get us into trouble. More we care about people, the more you're going to take advantage of us, and we're not going to hit our goals," all that mythology. But what I would suggest is that you start asking people... Like, in other words, the only people that you hire for any management position, management meaning supervising other human beings, that there's a requirement that they demonstrate that they actually care about other people, that it's not just about themselves, that they thrive in the success of other people, that they want to help other people succeed. They're not threatened by their success. They're advocates. They're coaches.
And the way to do this, interestingly enough, is simply to ask them. So if I said, "Hey, have you in your...?" So you're a candidate, and I'm interviewing you, and I say, "In your career so far, has there ever been anybody that you intentionally helped support to grow from the position that you were either hiring them into or began managing them in and intentionally helped them grow into a promotion or maybe even two promotions? Have you ever done that?" And of course, they go, "Well, yes. Oh yes, absolutely I do this. Sure I do." And then you go in for the punch, which is, "Okay, great. So, tell me the names specifically of these people. Give me two or three examples, and then tell us what their job was and what you did specifically to help them grow in their careers and get onto the next promotion." And then, you're generally going to get, "Oh, well, I..." And you identify that those people didn't do anything to help other people, because they don't think about other people.
And I call it a caring gene. And Gallup has told me that... Jim Harder told me once, we were working on an article together, and he said, "Because you know, there's only about 30% of the population of the world that really would align to what you're talking about." And I said, "What do you mean?" He goes, "No, we know this. Most people are just focused on their own growth, their own success, their own careers, their own recognition. They don't really care about other people." So it's almost not surprising that 30% of American workers are engaged, because just like through natural distribution, 30% of the population, 30% of all managers have that caring gene. So we need to be looking for people who not only know how to drive performance, but also act like a coach, like somebody who really wants to help the team do well without being so self-focused that people can feel that they're competing with their boss or their boss is holding them back.
The way this should work is, so if I'm a CEO and I'm seeing millions of people are quitting and I have tremendous number of unfilled positions and the people that I'm attracting are not the people that I need, they don't have the skills, they're not who I want, but I'm struggling to find positions, and I'm looking at this, and I'm saying, "This is probably a result of our culture and how we're managing people." So I believe that they then should be going and saying, "We need to reinvent our culture in a way..." And this doesn't mean blowing it up. It just means, "How do we refine it in a way that we tell people that these are the values that we're looking for, like this is the behavior that we want our managers to live to?"
And so, I remember, in the course of my career, that I worked at... My very first job out of college, it was a savings and loan... It was effectively a bank, if you will. But they were in the business of just basically attracting deposits and selling mortgages. It's all they were doing. And they realized at some point that that was no longer going to be viable, that they couldn't make enough money to survive. And so, they started to become more sales-oriented. They started to train their employees, their people in the branch networks, so when a customer came in, they just didn't say, "Oh, you want a CD? Okay, here's your CD." They'd say, "Oh, while you're here, I noticed you don't have your checking account with us, and by the way, when was the last time you refinanced? And where is your credit card?" And so they're having an engaged conversation with people, and they're being taught how to do this.
Well, when you ask people to suddenly start selling when you've never done that before, that's a bit of a hurdle. So you have to say, "Hey, we're all on a journey together here. We're all new to this. This is where we have to go, and we're going to train you, and we're going to coach you. We're going to teach you how to do this. We're going to give you time to learn it, but we need you to get there."
And that's kind of the model for what we need to do here. You just can't tell managers, "Start being caring," and expect anything to happen. There has to be a system, like a redefinition of... adding values, if you will. So, if you just added caring to your values, then the CEO could go out to the managers and say, "This is a new value for us. We need to be much more caring of our employees, and we're going to hold you as a manager accountable for that. We want to see that behavior in you. We not only want to see it in you. We want your employees to tell us they see it in you." And this is how cultures change, so it's not like this can't be done.
And so, just to kind of pin it down, while it's being forced from the bottom vis-à-vis the great resignation, the way for this to happen is for CEOs and chief human resource officers, chief talent officers, all those people in those positions to say, "We're going to pivot now. We're going to align ourselves to the new reality, which is this is what it's going to take on our part to attract and retain great people."
Because these current systems that we have now are so entrenched. What stops the C-suite? What stops the board? What stops activist investors a little ways down the road, either into a recession or just far enough out to where maybe things have rebalanced? What stops them from going back to the way things were?
I think part of it is that if you've been... So you're a senior leader. You're probably somewhere between 45 and 60, right, in that era, right? So you've already had 20, 25, 30 years of experience. You're long in the tooth in terms of how you operate. So the premise that, "Hey, we need to change how we manage people," doesn't really resonate with someone who's successful and made it to the top. So then, they start to compare what... talking about, what you talk about, in terms of evolving how we manage. And I think they go into a, "What if it doesn't work? We need to hit our numbers. We need to hit our goal, and we can't afford to go one quarter and find out that by caring for people, that people stop working, people stop producing, and we have to go to Wall Street and our investors and say, 'We had this horrible experiment that backfired so terribly.'"
A couple years ago, I spoke at one of the most well-known insurance companies, and this was their senior management team. They came in from all over the country. And so, when I got done laying out my whole thesis, the national sales manager got up, and he said, "You know what..." This is exactly what he said. He goes, "You know what you've just shared with us is absolutely brilliant and spot-on, right?"
And I don't think he meant to set me up, but then he said, "I got to tell you, if I'm the national sales manager and if we are midway through a quarter and we're not on target, my natural instinct, and will continue to be even after hearing your presentation, is to go to fear and intimidation. And the reason is that it works. When I threaten people and say, 'If you don't hit your numbers, you may not get a good review, and if you don't get a good review, that puts you on the list for layoffs or termination or fire and brimstone,' whatever it is, I'm going to that." And he goes, "What do you think of that?" And I said, "Well, obviously, you weren't listening to my presentation, because you would've never asked that question, because putting people into fear is the most destabilizing. It's actually the opposite of giving people support to put them into their optimal level of performance." But we think that that's the way to go.
And then, unfortunately, we still have this major lean into shareholders being the principal stakeholders for companies. So the CEOs, who I'm asking to drive the change, are also hearing from their shareholders saying, without saying it directly, "We don't really care about what you do for your employees. What we care about is that you hit your numbers." And so there's this pressure of, "If I'm too nice, if I'm too caring, if I'm too supporting, this is going to backfire, and I'm going to be out of a job." So there's all of that tension.
And yet, there are so many companies that have demonstrated that this is the right formula, that... I don't know what it's going to take, if it's going to take more resignations, more difficulty finding people. So some people are already on this. Bill George confirmed that. There are CEOs that are already moving in this direction trying to change their cultures. And then there's going to be these resistors, which is like, "This is bullshit, and we don't need to be leading from the heart. We don't need to care about people. People get paid a job. They're going to get their pay. We'll give them a raise if they do a good job. We'll give them a bonus if they do a good job, and we get rid of them if they don't. That's our deal." And there's going to be CEOs that are going to think like that, but those aren't the people that I'm trying to influence, because they're going to have to suffer greater pain before they come to their senses.
Something else I wanted to ask you about, I think it's probably a good idea for you to make this distinction. Tell us what the difference is in leading from the heart and being a heart-led leader.
I want to just... Now I'm going to embarrass myself here, but I want to hug you for asking that question. It's such a great question, because I hate the expression... Let me backtrack and clean off the whiteboard. I don't agree with the expression heart-led leader, even though nobody has been talking about this longer than I have, right, in the sense that the idea of leading from the heart is something that I've been sponsoring and advocating for for the last dozen years, and publicly. And the idea is that, I think in order to persuade CEOs, the same people we've been talking about, or anybody in senior leadership, or even a lot of individual managers, that this makes sense, is to get them out of the belief that the heart is a soft, weak, sentimental, Valentine heart, all the fantasies that we have, like the heart is like kryptonite.
So I want to change that mindset, because what I'm really talking about is the science of the biological heart, not the Valentine heart, not the romantic heart, but there's science that shows that the heart actually plays a significant role in influencing our choices and our behaviors, that feelings and emotions drive our behaviors. And so, if that's the case, then we basically need to basically reinvent how we're approaching leadership, knowing that this is the biological truth.
But the idea of a heart-led leader, on its surface, implies it's all about the heart. And we have to be careful that... What I'm saying is, it's a balance between the heart and the mind. It's not one or the other. We've been managing with the brain alone, which I think is what gets us into trouble. We don't think about the impacts on people. We lay off people because we think it's going to help us hit our quarterly numbers, and we don't understand that we've just polluted our workforce with fear. They're thinking, "Well, I'm going to be the next guy let go, so why should I be loyal here?" We're not thinking that way, and those thoughts don't come from the mind. They come from the heart.
But at the same time, managing a business still requires us to use our minds. We still need to use data, and we still need to make hard decisions. And so, it's a balance between the two that I'm really striving for. And the reason that my book... You could say, "Well, your book is called Lead from the Heart, so aren't you hypocritical?" And I'm saying, "No, because we have no heart in the way we lead today." And so I'm saying that's the missing component, is the care and the empathy and even compassion, things that have historically sounded ridiculous and soft, that I'm saying actually have an enormous impact on people. But it can't be all of that. So you can't just be thanking people and appreciating people all the time and developing them and growing them. You still have to hold them accountable for performance.
So I'll make this one punctuation, which is that if you went up to people who used to work for me over long period of years, 25 years, at every level that I managed and said, "Well, what's one word you would use to describe Mark Crowley, your former boss?" You would think, by now especially, that they would go, "Oh, he's the heart guy. He's all heart. He's all about the heart." That's the word. And yet, if you went to them, what they would really tell you is, "He's the most demanding manager I ever worked for."
So you'd go, "Well, how could you reconcile that with being the heart person?" And the way that I reconcile it is that, A, I'm competitive. B, I'm being rewarded for performance. Leadership is a job about driving results, so I'm all with that. But if I'm going to support people, making them feel safe, intentionally making people feel safe, committing to their development, making personal accommodations to support whatever going on in their life that might be challenging, as simple as giving them extra 15 minutes to come in late so that they can take their kids to school. If I can make that accommodation, I'm going to make that accommodation, because it feels good to people, and they feel grateful for it. I'm going to do all of those things and appreciate people and have a team of people that will support them. So I'm all about collaboration. I'm all about mutual support, having each other's back, creating this fantastic environment.
My belief was, if I'm going to do this when nobody else is doing this, then I'm elevating their potential. So I used to just say, "Look, we're not going to be mediocre here. This is our lives. So if we're going to be doing this and I'm going to support you in these ways, I think we should be aiming higher." So we used to set, I used to set, our goals significantly higher than what everybody was doing or asking, higher than what the company was asking us to do, but also, what everybody else was planning to do. Nobody set their sights above it. It's like, "You want X, we'll get X." And I'm saying, "No, let's do X plus 20%."
And initially, my manager's like, "20%? That's ridiculous. How could you ask us to do that?" And I just said, "Well, just build a plan, just see if you can come up with ways to do this." And they started looking at it, and they were like, "Yeah, we can do that." So we used to just blow everybody away because we set our sights from the very beginning on achieving something far greater, and we only would've done that if I hadn't built the foundation of support, with all the multilayers of things that I was doing to make sure those people felt like they were working for the right person at the right time and the right job and the right company.
What do you see right now in terms of where we are in being hybrid or being remote? What's working? What's not working? What's the thinking right now?
When we first started going back to the office, I wrote an article for Fast Company that several people misinterpreted. And what I said was that we should not be considering full-time remote work. It's not a good idea. And people wrote me... The only time I've ever gotten hate mail, people were sending me messages saying, "You're a corporate shill, and you're just advocating for CEOs who want us to go back." And I said... Right? And I just want to go back and go, "Go back and read it, and you'll see I'm an advocate for hybrid," so this is, what, 18 months ago, whatever? So I was an advocate for hybrid at the time. But what I was saying was that it's not good for us as human beings to be remote all the time. And the counter-argument that I got from people was like, "I have friends, and I have family, and I'm with my kids, and I'm with my spouse, so I'm the harmed by not having interactions."
But there's really science that shows that actually, that's not the case, that particularly, like if you're working from home five days a week, you're at your desk, you're on a computer, you're not interacting with other people, and you're missing out on something really, really important. Human connection, belonging is achieved... I know this is going to sound completely crazy, but it's true. Our hearts need connection with other people. We need to be with other people. And so, this is also very much aligned to everything that I think about all the time, which is that our hearts... Our minds tell us, "No, no, I can work from home. I can work from home effectively, and I'm going to get all the connection I need." What I'm seeing happening right now is that people's hearts are telling them, "You know What?" Excuse me. "I'm missing being in the office. I'm missing being with people." So it's like a form of loneliness, which is a sign from our bodies saying, "You got to go out there and be with people, because being alone and being solo all the time is not good for you."
There's also science that shows that it's the microconnections. So I run into you in the hall, and I just say, "Hey, how you doing? Did you see the game last week?" because I know you like football. We have a five-second conversation, and I move on. You move on. I go an hour later, and I go into the cafeteria, and the person that works the cafeteria, and we have a conversation about what the special is, but we're having an interaction, and we know that actually, those add up into something really meaningful for us.
So, what I think is happening is that you still have people that say... I'm very interested in working remotely and people who move their families and moved away. People in technology, I think they have an easier job, or easier time. There's less interaction in their lives normally in the way that they do coding and programming and those kinds of things. But for most people, the best solution, I believe, is hybrid. I think that being able to work from home... I work from home, I love it. I absolutely love it. But when I get an opportunity to go speak or consult, I'm so happy just being with other people that I realize I'm an introvert and an extrovert all at once. I think whether that's true of all people, what is true of all people is that we really need to be with other people. And you just can't do that if you're working remotely five days a week.
Let's talk for a second about the new version of Lead From the Heart. Tell us a little bit about it. Tell us what people can expect from it and why you decided to put out a second edition.
The original premise of the book was that we have misinterpreted human beings in our approach to managing them in the workplace and that our theories of leadership go back well over 100 years ago to the Industrial Revolution when people, we believed at the time, at least, that they really didn't want to work, that the work was hard, and that the way to get them to work was to tell them that they were going to be paid and that they would get perhaps a little bit more pay if they produced more than we expected, and that through the course of the day, we were going to make sure that we kept the flame underneath you the entire time. So, we also wanted to pay you as little as possible and squeeze as much out of you as possible, simply based on the premise that that would make owners more profit.
So, work was a shitty experience for people, and they accepted it, simply because they needed to put a roof over their heads and food on the table, and this was the way to do it. And so, people had to basically take whatever was offered to them. And so, we've just basically continued this whole philosophy for over 100 years and never really looked at it to say, "Have things changed? Has anything changed? Is this still the right thing?" And the truth is that people want to work. People, not only do they want to work, like it's not just about pay anymore, people want to be filled by it. They want to grow in it. They want to do something meaningful and significant, and they want to work with people that they can work well with, so this is their lives in the way that they see this. So people were fundamentally changing for decades in terms of their aspirations of work and what would make them happy and content and engaged at work, and we were stuck on this old philosophy.
So, there's that, but then, when I wrote the book originally, I'm also saying something else profoundly different, which is that we're not the rational people we think we are. Descartes said, "I think, therefore I am," and we believed him for a long, long time, over a century. And we now know that that's simply not the case, that there's a... Antonio Damasio, when he was at the Salk Institute, wrote a book called Descartes' Error, where he proved that intelligence is actually distributed through the body, not just in the brain, and that we are actually driven mostly by feelings and emotions. And there's many, many other researchers from all sorts of academic levels that have come out with a similar premise, but basically confirming that we're not really that rational, that feelings and emotions drive up to 95% of our behavior, and then we use our minds to rationalize the feeling.
And also tied to Damasio's work and others', I've discovered that the heart actually plays a role in all this, that the heart and the mind are connected, that the heart is sending more information to the mind than the other way around, and that the constant circulation of feelings and thought are basically driving all of our behavior all the time. So when I say, "lead from the heart," I'm saying we're affecting people in the hearts because that's what's driving their behavior. So that was the original premise of the book. And the title of the book, Lead from the Heart, was so off-putting to people in business, because they immediately thought, "He's got to be soft. The guy doesn't get business. He's a religious nut. He's a spiritualist. There's something wrong with this. We don't bring heart into leadership."
And so, what I had to do... And the interesting thing was education. The book's being taught in now 10 universities, so education figured it out quickly. Business resisted it, simply on the title alone. So, what I decided to do was to start writing articles. I write for Fast Company, and then I started a podcast and all of this so that people could hear me talk about this and hear these ideas or read these ideas and start to realize over time that, "Hey, maybe my resistance to this is not appropriate. Maybe I need to dig into this a little bit more."
But in the process, what happened was the people that I was talking to... I'm interested in learning from people who were talking about something that's going to support this thesis. So that's the common denominator of all the people that I've had on my podcast. So I've learned from all of them. So, one other component of this was that my publisher came and said, "Do you know...?" So this was a year ago this past August, so 14, 15 months ago, "Do you know that your book sold more copies last year than it did in the first eight?" And I said, "No." And they said, "We think the world is ready for your message now, completely ready." And they said, "If you can write it in 100 days, we'll publish it, a second edition." So I wrote it in 75, because I've just been marinating in this ever since the first edition. And so, that's the answer.
So what do you think for the next couple years? What do you think is going to...? Do you think the great resignation is going to continue, even if there is a recession? What are you thinking about how we're going moving forward?
None of us know what's coming in terms of the economy. There's just so many weird variables with wars going on and polarized politics and "Is China going to invade Taiwan?" We have all those kinds of issues going on, but we also have seen mortgage rates double. Interest rates just keep going up. Inflation is eating... Just paid $120 yesterday to fill up my car. We've got all these kinds of challenges. So, it almost seems obvious that next year, the next couple of years, from an economy standpoint, are going to be more difficult than what they've been. Money is more expensive, all those kinds of global kinds of challenges that we're faced with. There's going to be a slowdown.
But if I'm a CEO and I'm running a company in a difficult time, I'm going to want really good people to work for me to get us through that, and I'm certainly not going to want people to leave. So, the other companies are looking and saying, "I still need to get good talent here, because we're going into a headwind, and I need some people to help us get there." So there's still going to be this tension in companies where if you're not really truly caring about your people, there's always going to be the option for some other company to come in and say, "Hey, we may have laid off people, but we still need people with your talent, and we want you to come here, and we're going to give you X in terms of compensation, but we're also going to give you these other things," and those other things are the things that they're looking for.
So, if I'm looking at a CEO and I'm saying, "Well, it's all hands on deck, and we're just going to leverage our people, and that's how we're going to get through the next couple of years," I'm saying, "You're going to get spanked by the universe for thinking that way." So, in other words, this is the moment that you're going to want to change. This is the moment that you're going to want to say, "We want to create an environment where no one wants to leave and everybody wants to come, because that's going to be the differential. If we can build a team of people who love being here, who are committed to the work that we're doing, those are the people that are going to get us through, create the stability, create the interest, create the support."
And those are the companies that are going to thrive in this economy. And the thing is that it's so unpredictable and so uncertain that when you're working in an ambiguous period of time that we're living in right now, the last thing you need is a whole lot of disruption in your workforce. You don't want 10, 15, 20% of your people quitting, because it's just so much of a drag on how the businesses operate.
I was just reading... Chipotle, they had so much turnover that they've been able to observe in their stores that their productivity has gone down significantly, and it's because people haven't been there long enough to know how to make the food quickly enough. And it's like, "What ingredient goes into this one?" And so, people are frustrated, because they want to get in and get out, and it's because of massive turnover. So if it's happening in Chipotle, it's happening everywhere. You just can't afford to be without talented people, and you don't need the instability of having people quit because you have the wrong culture. So, I think the great resignation is going to quit along those lines, and CEOs and senior managers are going to be really smart to say, "This is the moment in time where we're going to really commit to creating an environment where people want to belong."