The Triple Threat Raise


The Triple Threat Raise with Kurt Kuyper, President of WKS Krispy Kreme

My new friend, Kurt, known around here as the Doughnut King, shares the best Krispy Kreme doughnut hack ever, and how curiosity, energy, and attitude get you noticed. Because let's be honest, are you coming at your job with big desire? Are you looking at yourself as a Brand? Are you developing trust with your team? 

In this episode, Kurt also shares his career journey that has humble beginnings to where it is now. From working three random jobs to the President of WKS Krispy Kreme, he gives us his best advice about being the best in the business and how to ask for a raise.

Kurt brings the heat on how regular, honest communication can influence how you ask for a raise. He insists on the importance of offering value as an employee before asking for a raise or a career advancement promotion. It is important for managers and team members to have meaningful communication that will help have an openness and vulnerability to better their relationship. 

Kurt puts across the importance of investing in yourself as an employee, which will grow you and, in turn, add value to your organization. The biggest takeaway from this episode is to always keep learning by trying different things within an organization. Learning to build yourself and be of value before you ask for a raise.

You should also be leveraging your talent and planting a good seed that helps grow the organization so that at the end of the day, you can get a raise when you ask for it. Kurt highlights the importance of staying humble and helping others where you’re strong, and they’re weak. He gives some very important tips that successful people should strive to achieve.


What You'll Learn in This Episode:

  • [4:22] Why genuinely interested people appeal more to Kurt and is more likely to help them grow in the organization.
  • [8:28] The importance of thinking of yourself as a brand or business- understand what identifies you and start managing yourself before asking for a raise.
  • [11:22] Bringing the issue of getting a raise with your organization through meaningful communication.
  • [13:52] The power of showing vulnerability in communication to foster business relationships.
  • [17:29] Learning to get exposed to different things within an organization to recognize what you like and what you don’t like.
  • [24:28] Kurt narrates his career journey from selling shoes on Broadway to the president of a company.
  • [28:40] How to leverage your talent and build on it rather than concentrating on your weaknesses.
  • [32:06] The power of investing in yourself to become a valuable brand within your organization.
  • [33:53] How to be successful by helping others in the organization and possessing relatable qualities.
  • [35:02] Kurt gives some important rules that he believes every successful people should live by.
  • [39:05] The importance of being part of a trusted functioning network.



  • “Everyone that’s smart is looking for someone to take their job.”- Kurt [8:43]
  • “Being vulnerable is a critical element of being part of a team.”- Kurt [15:01]
  • “Where you choose to go to work and who you go to work for, can oftentimes help determine your trajectory or the ultimate vocation you end up getting based in.”- Kurt [29:05]
  • “Go with what comes easily to you, that’s called talent because when you build on that, you’ll be better than anyone else because they’ll want that.”- Kurt [29:54] 

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Full Transcript

Kurt (00:01):

Because I always tell people, are you a farmer, or not? Farmers are aware of what to plant, where to plant it, when to plant it, and when to harvest, and sometimes you want to harvest that raise now, but it's the wrong time. The season is not right. The company is not in a good position. The sun is not shining, and it's raining like cats and dogs, and you're in the middle of a storm asking for something, and it's not going to happen, so save your bullets and wait until the right moment. When the company has a good financial period, and you've achieved some new goals, constantly be doing that through thick and thin, and that disciplined approach, and loyalty really matters.

Amanda (00:44):

Welcome. Welcome to the number one podcast that teaches people how to get paid what they're worth. I'm your host and resonate human behavior nerd, Amanda Lefever. I'm super excited about today's guest and you should be to, Kurt Kuyper is the president of WKS Krispy Kreme. Yes, I said Krispy Kreme friends. This man is delivering extraordinary doughnut experiences and glaze tastiness to people all over Northern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Wisconsin. He's a long-time successful food industry executive. And I read that Kurt loves fishing, body surfing, snow skiing, international geopolitical and economic strategy. What? Giving back is part of his DNA. And he currently serves as a board member for Hoby Arizona. Is that right? Is that how you say it? Awesome. It's a nonprofit youth leadership foundation. Kurt Kuyper, welcome to the show. I am so glad that you are here.

Kurt (01:55):

Thank you, Amanda. I'm delighted. Thank you.

Amanda (01:56):

Yeah, it's going to be a great show. And first, I have to ask because I love doughnuts and I am definitely your target market. So how do doughnuts, and this love of geopolitical and economic strategy mix, really quick? Could you just tell me like how do those loves overlap?

Kurt (02:17):

That's a great question. I don't even know how to answer that question. I think the people around the world love doughnuts and, everybody's got a sweet tooth no matter where you're from. Some are less so, and some are more so, but it's been interesting how the simple, humble little doughnut Krispy Kreme represents has allowed me to connect with people in different countries. And I've always been a student of international politics that was a part of my undergraduate studies. And so, I think that, I just followed my passions and was lucky enough to find out what I didn't want to do in life. And I found Krispy Kreme, and recognized the incredible, simple pleasure that it was, but also what it meant to people at an emotional level. It's been an extremely rewarding experience to be able to be part of it over the years.

Amanda (03:07):

Yeah. So what is your favorite doughnut?

Kurt (03:11):

You know, I love a hot, sour cream cake doughnut. Yeah. There's something about it. The regular glaze, I mean our original glaze doughnut is the hero of the show, and it's what has paid my salary for many, many years. But the hot, sour cream, by the way, you can take it home, microwave it for seven seconds. A little vanilla ice cream, and a nice caramel sauce.

Amanda (03:37):

I have never heard of a hot, sour cream. I didn't even know that existed.

Kurt (03:43):

It's kind of like a buttermilk doughnut, but ours has a unique flavor that I don't think you can get anywhere else.

Amanda (03:46):

That sounds awesome. Okay. So, now I'll stop talking about doughnuts because I love them. But I also want to ask, like, let's talk about, of course, getting a raise in the food and beverage industry. I read an article in "Restaurant Today" that said we expect to reward good workers with merit raises as appropriate. But your line employee expects a sort of longevity bonus simply for putting this time in. What would you say to people looking to have this once a year conversation about their hourly rate?

Kurt (04:21):

Sure. Well, I'd say it, you don't have to wait. You know, I like to tell people that at the end of the day performance trumps tenure, or any regularly scheduled meetings. So, if you have the ability to sit down with anyone in your organization to learn about how do you grow your worth, and value, slash career, do it. Don't be shy. Ask people; people love to share their advice, which is one of the reasons I love your invitation to talk today. You know, there have been a lot of lessons learned over the years, and not anything necessarily that I had an epiphany about but have the luxury of spending time with people that taught me, and it's just nice to be able to pass it along. I think organizations love doers, and the key with that is, I look for a few things in people, I look for those who are hungry, because I can't teach it. The fire in the belly that many people talk about, intellectually curious. They are the people that like to figure out how to make things better. They want to understand how a business works, the language of business, and they are thoughtful. They're action oriented people who really don't mind saying, hi, my name is so and so, I'd love to sit down with you for just a few minutes when you have time, what's the best day? And I oftentimes will make time for those people. They'll come out of the blue, and they can be an employee in a store. And it's just nice to know that someone is genuinely interested and they're not looking for the immediate raise. They're looking for information, which then allows them to get where they want to go. And I'm happy to help them along the way. And, even if it doesn't mean they stay with our organization, I tell them all the time, that candor level we've established in the relationship is critical, because if I'm able to help you, ultimately you're going to turn around and say to someone else, that's a great place to work. Those people care about you as an individual. But in the meantime, while you're still with us, you then understand why you're doing what you're doing, so you can put pennies in the bank to go so you can go achieve your dream, and we'll cheer you on to victory. And I mean, 50% of the time people ended up staying with us because they realized that it's not necessarily greener, and they can explore their ideas, and their desires openly without feeling like we're thinking less of them because there are flight risks. It's not that way at all. So, I think that you know, again, performance, trumps tenure and asking for an opportunity to learn how to make more, it's not only sensible, it's essential. And those who wait are really fooling themselves. They need to toot their own horn at some point. And, you know, I tell people all the time, at least in our business for example, at a crew level, you can make doughnuts, you can decorate doughnuts, and you can sell doughnuts. Oftentimes people have one position, but they will wait for someone to notice them. Instead of saying, Hey, how is my product looking? How, am I doing, and what, when can I learn something else so I can add value? Bing, Bing, Bing, light goes off and the manager then says, but let's sit down. I'll calendar you for some training in this other department. And that's how you proactively go about getting on the agenda. You got to get on someone's agenda on their calendar, and that's how you do it. And then, once you start learning skills, different skills, you're going to earn more. And once you become what I call a triple threat in our business, you learn all those departments. You then have punched the ticket into the entry-level training program for our management program. And it's no different, once you go up, you learn HR skills, you learn what you know how to negotiate, you learn just business law, etcetera, and eventually you're ready to take the leap, and do cross- departmental or multi-unit type roles.

Amanda (08:10):

Interesting. Okay. So, typically, when somebody approaches their manager, I love that tactful way of saying, when can I learn something else to add value? Is that something that people are asking you to whenever you're sitting down with employees ,and they're hoping to kind of like move up the ladder somehow?

Kurt (08:29):

Yup. I think some people come at it with a bigger desire. So, they'll say, how do I get your job? And I'll say, that's a great question. It's multilayered and it takes many years, and the opportunity is there. Everyone that's smart is looking for someone to take their job. I'm looking at grooming people all the time to take over the next level position and having redundancy throughout the organization. That's our lifeblood and our ability to sustain in case someone, God forbid, gets hit by a bus, gets sick, is out for multiple months for whatever reason, and we need to be able to continue without a buck. That's the signal that you have a smooth-running machine. And that's the true salute to anybody who runs a store or a shift, is that when you're gone, the place operates as well or better without you. So, the depth of training you've done for your people. So, I always tell them, look, focus on building a legacy for yourself. Build a reputation. I often tell people, think of yourself, and this is not news, some book I read at some point, but think of yourself as a business entity. Think of yourself as a brand, and if you think of Gillette, what are they known for? What are the top three things that they're known for? Product marketing, etcetera, great packaging innovation over the years of how to incrementally price things. What are you known for as an individual? And if you're not sure, ask people around you. Ask the people that have worked with you, and ask them to be completely candid with you, good, bad, or ugly. And when you find out, ask them what are the top three words that you think of when you think of me as a business partner? And that will help you see if you have a lack of consistency in how people perceive you. And then, you have to start managing that. You have to start managing through your behaviors, and your own time, and manage your own time effectively. There's the old saying at Hoby, we talk a lot about it, which is you're writing this foundation, and it talks about leadership of self, leadership of others and leadership in community. And you can start with yourself if you don't have an organized routine in your day to tackle the basics and put yourself in the right frame of mind. You can easily get diluted into thinking that because you've been somewhere long enough, you deserve more money, and that's not the case.

Amanda (10:46):

Yeah. You had mentioned that people will come to you and say, I haven't had a raise for awhile, and then you will ask them when was the last raise? What are the other questions? Because I know that I personally did this whenever I was working in the restaurant business, I went to my boss, and I said, it's been a really long time and so and so is making more money than me, and I work harder than she does. And I know now that I probably shouldn't have approached my boss like that. But it was a learning experience. So, what would you say to someone that is maybe in the same boat?

Kurt (11:22):

I don't think what you said is wrong at all. In fact, I think when people come to me and say that it tells me that it's an opportunity to help them understand how the business works, and how how they get perceived. And part of it too is a big word, it's patience. This happens often where we see people who come in, they're making more than someone else, and it can be either that they negotiated a better deal. It could be that the market conditions were different when they struck the deal with the company. They need to be bringing something to the table that you're not aware of. But people oftentimes cure a salary or a pay rate and think, oh my gosh, why is that person making so much more money? And I think it's perfectly fine to say, your boss, look, I'm going to understand what happened here. How, how are they getting this? And I'm not. I've got more value. Just help educate me. And most of the time I'll tell people, look, you know what? In some cases, you're right. This was a miss on our part. We need to sit down with you. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. Other times it's, I tell people, look, give them a year or two. You've got to see how any, if you're not willing to be patient, and I mean that sounds like a long time for some people, and I tell them what you struck a deal with the company and you should be happy with the rate that you struck. If you're not, you have a choice. You can either leave and try to go get more money somewhere else, or you can stay and prove that you can be patient and earn value and create a legacy for yourself that makes it absolutely glaringly clear that we need to pay you more because you are of such value. Meanwhile, the person that was making more money than you either have performed in a stellar way and impressed you. So, you go, ah, now I know why that person was brought in and paid more than me, or they will be gone. And you'll be like, well, the organization really realized that that person wasn't that good. So, it just takes time. But organizations sometimes are slower to the table than we'd like to be. But this is the value of having regular conversations and understanding the pulse of not only the people that you work for, but the people you work with, and when that is fluid and constant, it's amazing what can happen. The stifling part of all these raise issues comes about from a lack of communication, like 99% of the problems with the business.

Amanda (13:40):

Do you think it's the manager and the employees lack of communication, or do you think it's like a top-down type of communication or, what do you think it is,?

Kurt (13:52):

Yeah, that's a great question. I think it's both ways. I think obviously, it has to start from the leadership. The tone, and the culture of the company, and fostering that kind of candor. I oftentimes tell people look, trust is a delicate thing, so to the extent we can avoid having to trust one another is really important. What I prefer to have is a system in place that assures that we have certain things we have to abide by, the core values that guide us, our systems in the store for cash deposits, etcetera. So there's no finger pointing, but more importantly, that there's enough one-on-one discussions happening regularly that are documented so that I understand where you're coming from, and vice versa, and it's clear, and there isn't a lingering curiosity. The person's blind when they're driving home, boy, I wonder, should I have said this, and you know, if they're not comfortable picking up the phone and saying, you know, I forgot to ask you this question, that's a problem. There has to be a candor and openness that the managers or people in general who say, I got this, I got it, I got it. I don't need any help. Those are the ones I've worried about because being vulnerable is a critical element of being part of a team. Because when people know you're willing to say, you know what, I don't know how to do this or I need your help and I can't do this, without you. The world opens up. People want to help each other. I think that that's a natural human tendency. You want to help, but if you don't have regular communication, and you just aren't fostering this kinds of business relationships, it builds what I call these Chinese walls. I mentioned that phrase earlier with you privately, but you know, people can assume that things are happening behind the scenes that aren't even happening, or they can assume too much that, well, I'm going to have my raise. They're going to notice me. My father told me at one point in time, you know, look, you have to punch your own ticket. The conductor may not come by and ask for your ticket on the train. He grew up in the train day. He said, it's not because the conductor's a bad person. It's just that they don't have a system. So, we all have to have systems, whether you're a manager or you're an employee that you know, I call them mental islands on the calendar, you need to put something out there on a calendar. Then, in two months I'm going to go, I'm going to achieve X, Y, and Z. I'm not going to go to my boss and say, Hey, I'm not sure you know this, but I did do what we talked about. I followed through, I've learned these skills and I hope you appreciate the fact that I am doing what we talked about. I love that, because I think in the pace, we all move, oftentimes those kinds of follow-through actions get missed. But you need to be able to in a polite way, show people that you, you set goals for yourself, you followed through on maybe just a passing conversation to have with your boss or someone from outside of the store environment who you happen to talk to, you know, behind the counter so to speak. But when people know you really do listen and do follow through, it makes a huge impact. They remember, I remember that person at that store. Wow, they're an up and comer and it's just little things like that, kind of you dropping a pebble, and eventually, people remember. And if they see that over time that you're consistently fostering, managing up, and sideways, they see you as a collaborative spirit versus someone who's just out for themselves.

Amanda (17:14):

I could see that. I really liked, punch your own ticket. So, are you doing, do you feel like people have to do this in like a tactful way? Like you're not bragging or, are you bragging? How are you approaching these conversations?

Kurt (17:31):

I think it's one of the other things we look for is humility, right? So, boastfulness is really unattractive. What I think is very attractive, is someone who's self-assured, someone who knows that I have learned, we've talked oftentimes in terms of knowledge, will, and ability, your organization's responsibility is to give you the knowledge. But ultimately, it's up to the individual to demonstrate through their own behaviors that they have the will and the ability to do a particular job. Some people burn out, and they lose the will, they're very good, but they've lost it. The organization asks you to ask itself, what have we not done? So, this person's willpower is still strong. That's one question. The other side of it could be, that this person has a lot of desire, and a lot of passion, but they're just not suited for this role. Maybe they're not a front counter retail salesperson but can be very effective somewhere else. Maybe even in the organization, maybe they would be excellent in accounting, helping us because they're very detail-oriented but don't want to deal with the customers that much. And so, as you learn who you are, you have to be self-aware, and be able to articulate that to whoever you're working for or with, and say, look, you know, I'm more of this kind of person, and I'm passionate about this. How can I leverage that tendency and my skillset? And that just opens up flood gates of information, because oftentimes, I love for people to grow up in the field and run businesses really well, and all of a sudden they're 25 years old and they're running a 2 to 3 million dollar business. And I say, you know, pretty amazing, right? So, if you want to grow your skillsets and manage more through people across other units, let's talk about that. But maybe, that may or may not interest you. Maybe, you'd be more interested in moving to our support center and helping in some sort of administrative support way, because some people really want to learn marketing. They want a Monday through Friday job versus a seven day a week, 24- hour restaurant, crazy kind world, which I love. So, everybody has to know what kind of life they want, and ask for that. You know, I've said this before, but I think it's finding out what you don't want to do is 90% of the battle. So, you've got to expose yourself to different things. That's not to say job-hopping is ideal, right? Because you can get exposed to different pursuits within an organization. The best people, who I see that have just that curiosity we talked about earlier or that hunger, I'll say, have you ever thought about coming to the office for a day and spend a day in accounts receivable? Because it may be that, Hey, they don't have an appreciation for how difficult that job is. And then they go there, and they realize my job is not as hard as I thought. I liked what I'm doing over there. They're doing a lot, and they have a lot of pressure, and it just keeps coming. The bills keep coming in, you know. So, I think the more we actually cross- pollinate, that way people get exposed to what they start comparing what they really do, and do not like to do. And they also build healthy respect for what other people do in an organization. A lot of people want to go out and be an entrepreneur and make a lot of money and all those standards, the starry- eyed child kind of syndrome, right? At the end of the day, if you've ever been an entrepreneur and been out on your own, like I have, you understand the value of being part of a bigger organization. You have a healthy respect for each of the roles in the organization, and you understand the value they add, and how much time they can free up for you. So, you're not having to be the payroll, you're not having to X, Y, and Z, and deal with the worker's compensation, all these types of issues. So, I think it's about surrounding yourself with the right people. And for anybody who's trying to manage up in their career, need to look at who they are naturally, and then make sure that over time they expose themselves to people who balance them. So, if you're naturally an Energizer bunny, I call them that, they have to just go, go, go rah, rah, rah cheerleader mentality.

Amanda (21:30):

I know someone like that!

Kurt (21:30):

I do too. Or they can be the, what I'd call the organized taskmaster. And that doesn't mean that it's bad in a bad way. It means that they get things done. They're rigorous, they're detail oriented. They're a driver, but they're not the person that always should be conducting the HR discussions, the kind of person that you need, someone else who has the softer side of Sears approach to be able to navigate, artfully, difficult situations in a way that makes both parties feel heard. And oftentimes some people will just talk over others. They may not be a great listener or an active listener. And so, you have to figure out, who are you? Are you not a good listener? How do you get better at it? And who do I need to go spend time with so I can learn how to be better? You know, you'll pick up things. I think one of your other interviewees mentioned this idea, which is that you, you're putting little stones in a wall even though you don't remember, you don't realize it throughout your career and you'll do things, reach out and do some fun, different things because you'll be amazed how they end up benefiting you in the long run. From my own experience, I remember taking an improv class in Hollywood years ago when I graduated college. And had three different jobs to try and make ends meet. One was selling shoes, one was doing the books for a talent agency, and the other was waiting tables down in Malibu, and I just by chance happened to hear about this class. So, I said, what the heck, I'm going to go try this-best thing I did at that age. In retrospect, I didn't realize it until 20 years later, but it got me comfortable talking to audiences and being comfortable with silence and acknowledging the value that someone else brings to the table. Little things that you just don't realize when you're in a simple improv class, who would've thunk?

Amanda (23:21):

Not me, that's crazy. So, did you do it for public speaking or did you do it just because it sounded like cool and fun?

Kurt (23:28):

It was a mixture of both. I was trying to realize or get out of being shy, if you will, which was natural, I wasn't an introvert by any stretch, but by the same token, I admired people who could get up and just improv, improvise and talk extemporaneously about any topic and just kind of go with it, and be engaging. To me, that was something that I didn't think I was, and I wanted to learn how to do it. I don't know that I've ever gotten there, but I am constantly trying to learn how to connect with people.

Amanda (24:04):

Yeah. No, I think you do a great job. If I say so myself. So, I have one question. How does someone go from, did you say selling shoes, or working on shoes, working in restaurants and doing books for a talent agency? How does someone go from those things to being a president of a company?

Kurt (24:16):

I'm selling shoes at the Broadway, Fox Hills mall. Sure. Well, again, I tried some things that I didn't have say, the best luck with falling into the right situation where I had either the great mentor at my feet or upon graduation from college. I also had a little bit of a wild hair I think admittedly at that time in life. And I wanted to try a few new things, but I quickly realized doing three jobs and working those crazy hours that that was not a sensible life. And so I ended up falling back on a role with Atlantic Richfield oil company in downtown Los Angeles and working in their interstate taxation department for legal affairs. And wow, you figure they'll figure that out. That it was, I wanted to find a company that had a wild cat kind of mentality, and the oil business does have that, but they're also a huge business, and they were very diversified. And I just happened to fall into that through a friend. I said, look, where would you go? And they recommended this. And, it turned out to be fantastic because the big company had immediate street credibility, when I ended up talking to people and just by fate, and this was really what set me on the path to be in the restaurant business with, I'll be as brief as I can. I happened to go to a sponsored function that Arco had, and it was Henry Kissinger who was speaking. And I happened to sit in this room and right next to me an older gentleman sat down, we started talking, he said, what are you doing? I told him,;I'm working in the interstate taxation department. How are you liking that? I said, I'm bored. I like the work, but it's repetitive, and it's not what I thought it was going to be. And he said, what would you like to do? And I said, well, I'm not sure yet, but I'm trying to turn over the stones and figure out where to go. And I think I would be good in marketing and maybe asset management, something along those lines. And he said, well, I happen to be the head of real estate for Atlantic Richfield. And yet again, quirk of fate. But we got into this conversation. He said, you know, I really like you, but I can't hire you. You can't get in my department because you don't have an MBA. And he said, if you go get one, I'd love to talk to you. And I said, well, I will go get one. But in the meantime, is there some people that you might introduce me to so I can get exposed to the different avenues within the real estate world? Because I know a little bit about marketing and a little bit, you know. And so, he did. He introduced me to people all through Los Angeles. And I was able to get meetings with people I would never have been able to get meetings with, purely because it was an exploratory discussion that he had arranged. And that, that was a great lesson for me, is you can help introduce people. It's up to them to make their way. And it was a great example of leadership. And when I think about him often, Ben Kubler is his name. He, God rest him, but he was a great man because he helped someone. He listened, he listened, and I've always remembered that. But through that, I ended up working for a brokerage company in Orange County that ended up getting acquired by a bank and then got apart by bank of America and they decided to invest. But meantime, I had developed relationships with the university of California, Irvine, and ended up working for them in real estate while going and getting my MBA and got exposed to different restauranteurs who were looking for space. I was helping them secure restaurants in Pasadena, etcetera. That may is the pivotable moment. When I realized I liked the restaurant business, I'm seeing these people who are chefs, owners, and they're wearing multiple hats. It's exciting. And I ended up working for Pizza Hut doing consulting work, real estate, and eventually leveraging that to work with Taco Bell and then to Krispy Kreme and onward, and onward. But I graduated with an MBA, decided I'm going to learn this business from the ground up. And I took a job as an assistant manager with Taco Bell, with an MBA.

Amanda (28:07):

Wow, just in a store, like managing people? Slinging tacos?

Kurt (28:11):

And it was really interesting because they said, you know, where do you want to live? I said, North Carolina, look at me. I was living in Irvine at the time. Why North Carolina? And I said, well for me it's going to be near the beaches. It's going to be near the mountains. I can fish, I can go horseback riding, I can do all the things I love doing. And they said, okay, sure. So, they hooked me up with some people in North Carolina and we ended up getting sold off to a franchisee. But that was also the benefit of working for the company and then seeing the franchise world. So, that's where my career really diverged. And you know, I had a choice either to stay with the company and hunker down and feel safe and go back to Irvine, or stay and go with the unknown in North Carolina with a new company that bought us out. And decided to go with the unknown, because I was happy where I was living, and I liked it by hook or by crook. I ended up coming back west because that's where the base of my knowledge was, which is another thing for people to realize is you know where you choose to go to work and who you go to work for can oftentimes help determine the trajectory or the ultimate location you ended up getting based in the higher up you go, the more flexibility you probably gained to being able to take jobs in different locales. But you also have more freedom, I think financially just to make those choices. So, to the extent that you just are self-aware, you know where you want to go, you know the types of environments where you'd be happy, and you're thoughtful about it. You know, it's not that you fall forward gracefully. You have to have a plan. You have to say, look, these are the things I like doing. This is what I'm good at. I call it talent. Some people fight the trend or fight the current, and they go, I have to learn those things that are hard for me. No. Be aware of them. Yes. Learn enough to be okay at it but go with what comes easily to you. That's called talent because when you build on that, you'll be better than anybody else because they'll want what you know, just go with that. Love your talents.

Amanda (30:07):

Yeah. And so, don't really focus like on your weaknesses and try to build those. Like, figure out what you're good at, and what you like, and where you want to be, and what company you want to work for.

Kurt (30:19):

Yeah. I mean you may not be an accountant by trade, but for gosh sakes, take an intro course to accounting, so you understand the language of business and the basic outline of a P and L, right? Because until then, you don't have an appreciation for the pillars of the business, and you can't really talk artfully to anybody who is in a senior-decision making capacity. And this goes to raises too. Companies have to be profitable in order to have the excess funds left over to do things like raises. So, if you're focusing on when to approach bosses, you know, it really is being aware of the cycle in business. I always tell people, are you a farmer or not? Farmers are aware of you know, what to plant, where to plant it, when to plant it, and when to harvest, and sometimes you know, you want to harvest that raise now, but it's the wrong time. The season is not right. The company is not in a good position. The sun is not shining, and it's raining like cats and dogs, and you're in the middle of the storm asking for something, it's not going to happen. So, save your bullets and wait until the right moment. When the company has had a good financial period, and you've achieved some new goals, constantly be doing that through thick and thin. And that disciplined approach and loyalty really matters.

Amanda (31:34):

I love that. Okay, so sowing the seeds, and timing, be a good farmer. That's, that's great. That is so good. And this, this is so good, and I have to start to close unfortunately, which is such a bummer because there's so much that has been amazing. So I do want to ask you though, is there anything else that you want to add to this conversation about how people can, you know, get a raise and feel like they're valued in their companies?

Kurt (32:06):

No, I think we've covered so much. Investing in yourself, I think is critical along the way. You know, if somebody is interested in looking up Darren Hardy, he has a great podcast as well, just about general life and leadership. But oftentimes they'll take, it takes about 5% of whatever your earning and invested in himself every year. And if you think about that, it can be a lot of money. Not for anybody. You think about what 5% of your income would be. It's a lot of money, probably for anybody at any phase of life. But if you're not reinvesting in yourself, I don't know how you add value because you, whether you are reading books or you're going to a seminar or you are paying for lunch to sit down with a recruiter who you've never met, you know, be willing to step forward and invest in yourself because again, you are your own business entity. If you're going to create a brand reputation, you have to have more value over time. So getting your network established and surrounding yourself with some key people on the way is going to be critical as well. And that includes just the basics of, you know, knowing a good tax accountant, knowing a good attorney. These are many things that people wait to do until when they have a crisis moment, and you don't have to, life can be a lot more organized and you can navigate things a lot more artfully if you have those people. And those relationships already established when the storm hits. And so, I think that that's probably life advice, but also career advice. It really helps.

Amanda (33:36):

Yeah. And that brand reputation, you've mentioned that a couple times. I've never thought about that as like creating your own brand almost within, within your organization, and as an employee, do you see that a lot of people will do that?

Kurt (33:53):

I don't know how many do it. I know we talk about it and much like I had mentioned earlier, you know, dropping pebbles, the advice is really only worth what someone's willing to take and put action to. So, I always, I've learned, you know, the truisms are truisms for a reason. They've proven themselves over time. So, those simple sayings, you know, really, you have to listen to those, you know, the old Ben Franklin kind of stuff, but what do you do in your own life to bring those to life? That's the question. So, it's a matter of dropping pennies along the way, helping others to huge thing and you're helping others along the way. Ultimately you are going to succeed because if you're a good developer of people, you become the lifeblood of your organization. If you create a reputation for yourself of being someone who's humble, and smart and funny. It's one of the things I remember. I love, there's some rules you asked me. One of the things I guess I could close with and there's a list. It's a rule that is made for this discussion today. So, here they go. Here you go. Okay, so here's some rules I've learned to live by. Never say yes immediately in negotiations or otherwise assume they need you more than you need them. It's a good mindset but remain humble. Being boastful is unattractive. We talked about that earlier. Get things in writing, emails work fine. For example, I was able to get a monthly car wash allowance, just something small, just a small perk. But those are the kinds of things you can get if you, if you really want it, you're going to be asked to be out showing people around or taking people out for whatever reason. And you want to, you want to have a good appearance.

Amanda (35:39):

And you said get those in writing. Like you just said, Hey, get a car wash.

Kurt (35:46):

You recapitulate a conversation that you've had with someone. So, if you're talking to the boss about, Hey, as you said, you know, as we discussed, I'm looking forward to getting that car monthly car allowances planned. When can it start? And it just, and you just get the yes, it'll start on May 1st or whatever date it is and there you go. And then if it doesn't happen two months later, don't worry about it. Just send that note to payroll and say, Hey, I'm not sure you really got the memo. Here it is and copy the person who promised it, they won't feel badly either. They'll actually feel bad that it didn't happen. So, you know, I think the other thing is make the business case, learn the language of business. Like we've talked about, learn how to put forward a return on investment case study. You're going to send me to this seminar. This is what I think you'll get out of it. I will commit to generating X amount of dollars but being able to show people that you're thinking that way from the beginning is really important. Especially if you're talking about even a 20 cent an hour raise. If you give me that raise all of this people, oftentimes I'll promote someone from what I know they can do versus what I hope they can do. So, I need someone to show me that they have the willingness to do the job even before they get paid for it. When I see that sometimes I'll give them that you have a bigger raise than they expect. I'd say know what you stand for. Like we talked about being the business entity, be willing to be vulnerable. We talked about that. There's another one that's be brief. Brevity has real value in this world, especially as things are going fast and furious and people were trying to get through agendas during the day and some people just go on and on and on. And for me, it can be a red flag because they can become the distractor in the organization. Just constantly peering over the cubicle, interrupting other people with stories that have maybe not even a point.

Amanda (37:32):

I just wanted to come talk to you.

Kurt (37:37):

Exactly, I think people who talk about themselves all the time is a sound, I always listened to see are they asking about what somebody else is going through or, what are trying to tell people what they did over the weekend. The people who are interested in what's going on with other people, that typically tells me they're externally focused, which has a really big value for me. I like those kinds of people I really think Ben Zandra is a great symphony conductor. You'd get a great Ted talk. I think many people have watched over the years, but he has this great one where he talks about rule number six and by the way, there are no other rules, it's just rule number 6, with which he says is, don't take yourself so damn serious. There are people that, you know, when something happens, the hair on fire people, they're running down the hallway. Oh my God. To me that just signals you're out of control and you're letting little things get to you. And instead, I'd rather you be the person who is the center of the hurricane and there's things whirling around and you're going, Hmm, okay, I see where that's going. That's going to be fine. That's not going to hurt me. You know, you need people that can have that, that self-awareness, and instill confidence, and calm and others versus the person who's just constantly being a warmest about things and gossipy, there's a lot of drama out there.

Amanda (38:52):

I know we don't need all of that. Okay. So, where can people find you, Kurt, if they want to connect or anything like that?

Kurt (39:04):

Yeah. LinkedIn can be good, but I typically have what I call a semi-closed network. So, if I've actually done business with people, or I know someone in my network who has done business with them successfully, then I will admit them to the network. I found that to be very valuable for me because there are a lot of business development people. God bless them, they've got a tough job, but they're trying to get new business, probably 10, 15 emails a day of wanting to join. And a network is only what it's worth. And I understand people wanting to get access to your network, that I get, but I want to make sure that when they get access they're responsible about it and that they are really a master of whatever their trade happens to be, and I can feel confident recommending them. So, as much as I'd like to say, yeah, contact me on LinkedIn, I might not be able to do much. I think the best thing to do is email me at my private email address. I'll just give it to you. It's, [email protected] And I'd be happy to try to get back in touch with you.

Amanda (40:09):

Nice, answer any questions. You've been so good Kurt. Yes. You've brought a ton of value and I know that people are really going to be excited about this episode. I'm excited. I learned a ton and I feel like I need to take an improv class now.

Kurt (40:31):

It's a lot of fun, it's a form of group therapy. I think everybody should go through it.

Amanda (40:35):

That's awesome. Alright, well I'll let you get back to your day and thank you again, so much. And we, uh, thank you guys so much for tuning in, and if you haven't already, go ahead and subscribe to the podcast and we'd also love it if you'd leave us a comment. A five-star comment would be fantastic, but I'm going to sign off for now and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode of the raise up podcast. Bye.



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