Popular TikTok creator and Vice President of Production & Creative Services at a Fortune 100 company Timm Chiusano joins us today to discuss the mindset that gets him through each day, the kind of work environment companies must create to thrive, what makes him a great leader and how he outperforms the fear that many of us confront in our day-to-day lives. Timm grasps viewers with his 90-second witty motivational bits and continues to show up authentically for his 400k audience to relate and inspire.
Timm Chiusano [00:00:02] I was never a great student, but I found myself doing well in the workspace for a multitude of reasons.
Sam Jayanti [00:00:12] Welcome to ideamix radio. I’m Sam Jayanti, and every week I chat with entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, career changers, experts and enthusiasts for insider tips that you can apply to turn your idea into a business. So sit back and enjoy today’s show. Today we’re with Timm Chiusano, the creative director of Spectrum Reach. You might recognize him from his TikTok videos, on which he talks extensively about days in his life, his work, life and philosophy overall, and encourages everyone to live their lives with passion and purpose. Timm, we’re super excited to have you on Ideamix radio today. Thank you for joining us.
Timm Chiusano [00:01:03] Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s a treat to be here.
Sam Jayanti [00:01:07] So Timm, in many ways, you are exhibit A in terms of who to emulate and how to live your life with passion and purpose. And what I was really struck by, with your videos, is that they’re so authentic and yes, they’re edited and I’m sure you spent a great deal of time thinking about them ahead of actually putting them together but today, I really want to dive into your philosophy around work and life, as well as mentorship and coaching, which is really what I feel you’ve become to your audience through TikTok. And the engagement level of your audience is particularly striking.
Timm Chiusano [00:01:51] Sounds good. For the record, I feel like I make it up as I go because to your point, it is a very authentic slice of life for me on an ongoing basis but the process has been fun and I feel like I somewhat stumbled into all of this, but it’s been really fun to have this open dialog on an ongoing basis.
Sam Jayanti [00:02:08] Amazing. So if you had to describe yourself in a few sentences, tell us.
Timm Chiusano [00:02:16] I am…I try to look at things as though I’m trying to idiot-proof things for myself on a consistent basis. So I would describe myself as somebody who is consistently curious about how to make the day in and day out smarter and more fun at the same time. I was never a great student but I found myself doing well in the workspace for a multitude of reasons. But I’m also extraordinarily–saying that you’re humble sounds like you’re not humble, but I’m very aware that I’m not the smartest person in the room on an ongoing basis and I’m also one of those bosses that is like, “cool, everybody showed up for work today like that’s a good start to the day.” So I guess I would say I don’t take anything for granted. So to describe myself, I would say I am aware that I need to go and earn what I have on an ongoing basis. I try to be as self-aware as possible. I really enjoy all aspects of life, both in the subtle nuances, but also in the grandiose things that we may come across as luck may throw them in our way. And I just kind of appreciate all the different aspects that are out there and try to enjoy every 24 hours as best I can.
Sam Jayanti [00:03:35] That’s a great life philosophy, one that I think we can all derive some learnings from. And it’s sort of, I guess, tip number one in this episode, in which there’ll be lots of insights from Timm that are helpful to all of us. So I want to go to a video that you did on Tik Tok really describing a day in your life. Let’s have a quick look.
Timm Chiusano [00:04:03] This is the day in the life of a 25-year-old knucklehead stuck in a 44-year-old’s world. I run a 240-person creative department which is hectic AF but I love it. And it’s a big part of why I get up at 4:00 every morning, do some work, then go for a walk, hit the gym, and using two skills every day is just one of my bazillion OCD traits. This day in particular was November 15th, 2021. Monday through Thursday I am suit-and-tie because I want to. I feel like it’s mindless dressing and business casual kind of freaks me out and I’m not quite sure what to do there. I’d rather just grab a suit and tie and go. Oh, and I got a nine-year-old daughter. She’s super cute. Her name’s Evelyn. I work on the subway ride-in. I don’t think I mentioned that. I live in Brooklyn, New York, commute to Midtown every day. I am one of the 15 people in all of New York City that was actually still going into the office in Midtown throughout the pandemic. But now we’re all back and my coworkers are dope, hence the gift of popcorn. And on this particular Monday, I had seven and a half hours worth of meetings. That’s pretty standard for me. Sure that sounds terrible to a lot of you, but it’s actually a lot of fun. And look, I do well, so I don’t mind actually earning my keep every single day. While I may look calm, cool and collected, there is still paranoia and anxiety in there, just like everybody else, which I in turn used to fuel my work ethic. If I’m being honest, around 3:00 is when I have my first real meal of the day and I’m obsessed with protein bars. Towards the end of the day, I start checking the calendar for the next day and the next day after that. It’s looking pretty hectic, but all good, grab some light reading for the train ride home and I’m off. Spent most of my life in and around New York City and I absolutely love it here. If for some reason this is popping up on your for-you, there is a ton of New York City randomness–if you choose to dig deeper. So after a nice little jaunt home, every Monday night is fish taco night. I strongly, strongly, strongly suggest that you have one of your favorite meals every single Monday night, it completely changes the week. And there’s a recipe in my bio. I’m a bit of a need freak, too. Vacuum literally every night after dinner as well, but I don’t talk about that too much. We put our kid in bed and then it’s snack hour. A.K.A I get back to work, too. But it’s not all bad. I allow myself 16 to 20 ounces of beer at the greatest brewery in the world, right around the corner from my house. So I eat my weight in popcorn and have a beer-ish, one last protein bar, I’m getting ready for the next day and then I call it a night.
Sam Jayanti [00:06:00] So, Timm, one of the things you did was stay in the office through the pandemic. Tell us a little about that, especially given that we’re now in an environment where people are either back at work or starting to come back to work. There is definitely a shift underway in terms of employers wanting people back at work, professionals, you know, some being very comfortable with that, others less comfortable with that. Tell us about your philosophy around the office and, you know, getting your team back in the office as well at this time.
Timm Chiusano [00:06:36] We are spread out across the country. So there was already like an organic hybrid environment that we were existing in. I stayed in the office through the pandemic for a few different reasons, starting with my previous boss left the company right before the pandemic hit. And I wasn’t the only one at my level that was still in the office in charge of the what’s a 400 person marketing department, but there were a lot of responsibilities that I ended up taking on. And just for consistency and also just based off of where I was trying to push things at the time, we primarily focus on helping service small businesses. Nobody needed more help–well I shouldn’t say nobody, but it’s
Sam Jayanti [00:07:24] Pretty much nobody needed more help than small businesses
Timm Chiusano [00:07:25] Small businesses needed a lot of help, especially at the offset of that. So A, just based off of who we are, what we do, being present, as present as possible, A because we already had change at the time from a leadership perspective and B we just had all of the change that the entire world was going through and because of the focus on small business, I thought it was really important to just have a consistent presence and be there. And also there’s like a calm in the storm type of aspect to it.
Sam Jayanti [00:07:55] There is.
Timm Chiusano [00:07:55] Seeing, I think that there was genuinely something about seeing me in the environment that they were consistently used to seeing me that helped lend itself to, okay, it’s not–not that it’s not that bad, but there was just it felt like it was an anchor and honestly, for myself, too, it felt like a bit of an anchor. There’s also some rigor to it of getting up and leaving the house and the fact that the commute was a piece of cake. I hate saying it like that but like driving from Brooklyn into Midtown
Sam Jayanti [00:08:27] Was pretty nice.
Timm Chiusano [00:08:28] was a piece of cake. That allowed my daughter, my wife, to get out of the house for a little bit. We all weren’t kind of on top of each other during the day, and the building stayed open. So it was kind of the perfect storm for me to just consistently go in. Now that folks are coming back, it is really, really nice to have the, I mean, what might sound cliche, but the camaraderie and my new boss, his ability to kind of pop by and just even just say hi or you don’t realize what type of productive conversations you can have walking down the hall in the elevator on the way home, how much easier it can be for me to go next door and just say, Hey, instead of sending you this email, can I just ask you a couple of quick questions? The ability to read each other’s body language a little bit more. There is something legitimately–not only just engaging, but that just adds to the positive nature of a productive environment by being physically present with each other. And I personally just think that there’s something nice about a day in which you get up, and regardless of what you do with your morning, you are then simply physically active by going somewhere else.
Sam Jayanti [00:09:49] True.
Timm Chiusano [00:09:49] And just how that kind of breaks up the course of a day. So, I mean, overall, I understand and appreciate the hybrid environment and how that is somewhat of a new normal. But I think that there’s a lot that we can all get out of an environment in which we are in close physical proximity to each other. And there is a legitimate–and because I saw the before, the during, and then the after, and the during for me was just almost full isolation, that as people started to come back, A the excitement, like legitimate excitement. And a couple of the first travel experiences where people were like running up to each other and being like, “is it okay to hug and just making sure everyone is kind of cool with the physical interaction to begin with,” but there was something really heartwarming about that, and you could tell that [00:10:41]as much as we may want to be careful with our words relative to, you know, work is not a family environment and those that say, hey, look, this is a family here, that that reeks of it being a toxic environment, those types of things like we spend so much time together. There are inevitable bonds that could and/or should be created by the fact that we have to deal with these business circumstances and the fact that we have to rely on each other, and that when you actually have the opportunity to sit down next to each other or even just do that drive by, so to speak, there’s there’s so much value in it.
Sam Jayanti [00:11:21] Are you finding that with younger professionals on your team who might even have started work during the pandemic and were forced to start remotely, obviously, that is there a reluctance to come back into the office because there isn’t a clear understanding, given their first experience of working, of the benefits of actually being in person.
Timm Chiusano [00:11:53] It’s funny, actually, I have not seen that in a generational aspect.
Sam Jayanti [00:11:56] Interesting.
Timm Chiusano [00:11:57] I’ve actually I’ve seen it more based off of those that have potentially other family circumstances. And so I’ve actually, from my personal perspective, I’ve seen it more based off of what makes the most sense to that individual. And that was kind of the way that I’ve always tried to push myself from a management perspective and how I’ve tried to get others to look at the dynamic that is just the human layer in addition to whatever the business needs are, which is where that person in their life. So if you’re somebody that happened to have a child during that time period, all of a sudden coming back is going to be that much more daunting to that person that had more of kind of a cluster of help at home, so to speak, and that this single person, younger generation, may be like, okay, cool, I actually have an excuse now to wear the nice clothes that I have, and now I’ve got an excuse to kind of go out after work and so I feel like it’s been very circumstantial based off of somebody’s just personal situation holistically.
Sam Jayanti [00:13:01] Yep.
Timm Chiusano [00:13:01] And the question of value has actually been largely revolving around individual role as well, where, especially in the creative space, somebody that it’s like I can get up at 6:00 in the morning and click render on that thing that I was finishing up the night before and then let that run and then by the time I have my first meeting I can do X, Y and Z. Or some sort of cadence of events along those lines. And we had to be very specific about it. So I think for any managers that are still kind of dealing with this, that to look at it in a just kind of age bucket, that that might be putting too many variables outside of the conversation that need to be included, which are general personal circumstances. You know, what might their family circumstances be and also their role. Because there are some people that I think are legitimately more productive and more helpful to the greater good of whatever the business is that should not have to lug either certain equipment or be have time lost via commuting. Yeah. So I think it’s actually really interesting and I hope that these conversations are coming up more often that are broadening it from just these types of people are looking at it this way to know can we get more specific about what an individual’s needs are, what are the business needs, what is the role that they play, and how do you connect those together to create the right environment that is going to include both in the office and at home?
Sam Jayanti [00:14:30] Yeah, very idiosyncratic. Totally agree. Another theme you talk about, Timm, is this idea of earning your keep. Work, as you said, is obviously a huge part of your life and for most people, especially in urban working environments is a huge part of their lives. You didn’t, you know, it took you some time to sort of hit your stride with really understanding yourself, what you were good at, what you wanted to do, how you wanted to spend your time at work. Tell us a little bit about that journey.
Timm Chiusano [00:15:05] I’ve always been very self-conscious. I was not a good student and I was always–I think one of my benefits from what I bring to the table in a work environment is a deep desire to exceed someone’s expectations. And that if I didn’t get somebody to think of me in very positive terms, that I was then failing, and that I was just kind of fail my own burden that I put on myself for whatever reason. I don’t think it has really anything to do with my childhood I think it was just like, Wow, there’s a bunch of strangers now and they rely on me for these things versus, Oh, I’m in school. If I’m not great at school, my parents will get mad at me. But like, I’m not letting other people down, so to speak. But in a sports environment or in a work environment, it was completely different because it’s like, no, if you don’t do this thing really, really, really well, there is a broader impact to that and not being able to exceed people’s expectations in that capacity, A I think scared me at first and then B I really liked the idea–even in the situations that I think most people would go away from, which was wanting people to be in a position where if they didn’t know where to go, that they could come to me.
Sam Jayanti [00:16:20] Right.
Timm Chiusano [00:16:20] Even in an entry level.
Sam Jayanti [00:16:22] So acting as a mentor, really.
Timm Chiusano [00:16:23] Well not even–well in more of a it is going to sound bad, but almost like a dumping ground of sorts of like–.
Sam Jayanti [00:16:32] Okay.
Timm Chiusano [00:16:32] I don’t, I don’t know who takes care of the garbage in the truck, Timm.
Sam Jayanti [00:16:36] Right.
Timm Chiusano [00:16:37] And it’d be like, I’m cool if you come to me with that question because that means as you, as you think about any business problem–and it might be a bizarre scenario to put on the table, but like, literally if I’m, you know, entry-level position, production manager, production associate for ABC Sports and people think, I don’t know what to do with this question. Let me go ask Timm. Like that was a role that I was very happy to play, even if in some circumstances it was a bit of a dumping ground because that meant that they trusted me and that they thought that I would help them figure something out. And then as I saw that start to snowball throughout my career, I’m like, this is actually a good thing. It can be exhausting because people can walk in your office and be like, this is 10,000 miles away from what you do and what your responsibilities are but, can I ask your perspective and I kind of like the fact that there might be a pop quiz from time to time of like, that’s interesting. I never would have thought of that question. I have no idea who does that. Let’s sit down and have a conversation about that and try to figure it out together.
Sam Jayanti [00:17:36] A very early sign of leadership and ability to manage.
Timm Chiusano [00:17:43] You saying it that way makes sense. It’s funny like I
Sam Jayanti [00:17:47] I know you didn’t think of it that way but
Timm Chiusano [00:17:51] In hindsight, because I don’t think a lot of us reflect on things so deeply. And I’ve almost been thrust into having to reflect on things deeply because the myriad questions that I’m now getting. And I’m like, oh, that’s interesting. How did I do that at that junction of my life or why am I these ways where it usually just kind of go when you live, right?
Sam Jayanti [00:18:12] Yeah.
Timm Chiusano [00:18:13] Now you invite a whole bunch of people in to ask you questions from all types of different angles. I was a goalie in high school and I was also captain of the team, which is kind of an odd combination. Usually goal in ice hockey are not captains. I think it’s even not permissible by depending on which league you’re in.
Sam Jayanti [00:18:31] Didn’t know that.
Timm Chiusano [00:18:31] Yeah. And I always enjoyed trying to get people to rally around something. And I always enjoyed being last in line to help protect something, so to speak. And I think that those two things, in a weird way, kind of snowballed and put me in a position where I became comfortable with leadership and I became comfortable to help solve problems with people, almost to a fault, where I’ve been told often, like, stop saying yes to everything, or like, don’t, you know, in some of the key elements that I learned along the way were how to just have a deeper engagement but yeah, it’s the evolution I think started with a desire to exceed people’s expectations once I was in a broader environment where there was reliance on who I was and what I was doing in the workforce, and then just becoming more and more comfortable with how I could, if I saw something that I thought was worth trying to advance, how do I navigate the work environment so that, as I would call it, you can bring your weird ideas to life and there’s so much that you can learn along the way. And if you are willing to not think about the extra work that you’re doing and you just see it as a growing opportunity throughout, amazing things can happen. And I think once people kind of let down their guard, they’re like, okay, this might be exhausting but this is not about the company or it’s not about the business necessarily it’s about me learning and exploring my own curiosity in the space and there can be something wildly powerful about that.
Sam Jayanti [00:20:07] I mean, that’s so key, I think for people of every generation. I really have come to believe over time that there are two types of people. There are people who has a curiosity and a learning mindset and it’s just like a feature of their personality. And so to your point, fielding the questions, figuring out weird problems, figuring out how they fit into the context, even if the motivation was exceeding other people’s expectations, hugely furthers your learning process at a time when you could have taken the opposite tack and sort of said, here’s a narrow thing of what I need to do and that’s all I’m going to do. And I don’t really want to hear about, you know, other questions or other things because it’s not in my job description. And I think that, well, it’s really looking at the forest rather than the trees is such an important aspect of growing, learning, keeping it interesting for yourself as you make your way through whatever job you’re in, for however long that is. Okay, I have to ask this, but what is Shmily?
Timm Chiusano [00:21:22] So it’s Shmily.
Sam Jayanti [00:21:23] Shmily.
Timm Chiusano [00:21:24] Say Shmily.
Sam Jayanti [00:21:25] Okay.
Timm Chiusano [00:21:26] S h m i l y which is see how much I love you. Like, literally, I want you to see how much I love you at any given moment. So we learned about it at a wedding, I don’t know, like 15 years ago at this point, I think.
Sam Jayanti [00:21:43] Okay.
Timm Chiusano [00:21:43] Literally heard whoever was giving the service describe this concept as the bride and groom were standing there before taking their vows. And it just like immediately stuck because it’s so close to just the simple word, smiley and smile, but shmily and just such an easy way to leave a note to do something to, you know, those letters then can obviously kind of exist in so many different capacities and that can be, you can write those letters next to, you know, leaving out a piece of fruit for, you know, my wife or my daughter, you know, to make sure that they or, you know, a glass of water like all of the little things that kind of show like, I’m just being thoughtful. So it can be something like big and grandiose or it can be something really simple and almost mundane. But it’s just a trigger to be like, this is me thinking of you. This is me wanting for you to see how much I love you.
Sam Jayanti [00:22:42] It’s a great reminder and it’s a wonderful idea to live by.
Timm Chiusano [00:22:46] It’s also it’s kind of I’m glad you brought that up because in just the general way that–and I think this is where people can have more fun with like these aspects of life, of like caring and curiosity and how much you can show somebody that you care and you understand, you know, and still in a somewhat of a silly way, I saw that those letters being able to kind of replace the letters R A N G E R S on the New York Rangers jersey. So as we’ve been kind of experimenting of like, where is all of this going? Like coming up with stickers and magnets that I leave around the city that instead of saying, nix on the shorts, it says Shmily. Instead of saying Rangerss on the Jersey, it says Shmily. For me, that was kind of a, you know, is was my ability to kind of spread something that is largely for my wife and I, but then also in a weird way for it to kind of like pay homage to New York sports. So it’s fun.
Sam Jayanti [00:23:43] That’s wonderful. I love that. So one of the comments that you had from a follower on one of your videos was that they really felt the video was sort of a dystopian nightmare rebranded as heart-warming goals.
Timm Chiusano [00:24:03] I’m so glad you brought that up.
Sam Jayanti [00:24:06] Thanks to Katie. And I loved your response to that, which was basically like, wow, I mean, when I read that I sort of thought, wow, someone’s really on their vocabulary here. It’s great. How do you how do you react to that or how do you think of people like that? Like we’re sort of surrounded, I think, especially in a place like New York City with a type of person who is cynical and disbelieving and perhaps negative? I don’t know. But how do you react to that?
Timm Chiusano [00:24:48] I kind of enjoy people seeing it from different angles. And actually I love when people say that they thought that at first and then they will literally come back several videos later and be like, I used to think that or something like that. And they’ll tell me something that they thought about me that was like the very negative aspect of it but you grew on me or I learned X, Y and Z. I’m like, I love it. You started off with by saying, Hey, man, when I first saw you, I thought, “Blank” and “blank” is like some sort of terrible, you know, version of me, which I get. And then they came–so, yeah, it is very bizarre to put yourself out there for the potential of comments from every single corner of the globe in some cases. And it’s fine. I actually I believe that no matter what feedback you get from anyone, anywhere at any time, there’s something that you could potentially learn from it. So I try not to…I don’t let it get me down too much. There’s definitely times when you read a handful of comments and you’d be like “ugh” like that kind of stings a little bit and it depends on the circumstances. For something like that, I get it, I understand why people could see somebody like myself in that light, but obviously I can’t I can’t control too too much of it. But I do use it as a reflective mode to be like, okay, well, what specifically might that person have seen that made them have that exact reaction in the moment? And also use it as a friendly reminder. Again, like I need to and should be aware of the fact that that could land with anybody from any walk of life at any given time. So like all of a sudden somebody scrolls and there I am talking and doing my thing. How self-aware can I be to be as honest as I could and should be, because if you’re not being honest then I feel like it’s kind of all for not. But then also, you know, kind of sensitive to the fact that how I’m choosing my words about, you know, what a dinner was like, what a day was like, etc… I’ve always been able to grab encouragement or just kind of like positive reinforcement about why I look at things from day in and day out basis simply by looking at the cover of a newspaper. You look at the cover of a newspaper and it’s very easy to be like, I am not running from a bomb right now, so I don’t care what meeting I’m walking into next like that is on me so I am okay.
Sam Jayanti [00:27:24] It’s real.
Timm Chiusano [00:27:24] Right. And so from a similar perspective, thinking about the way I am saying things and then also the way that people might see me, it just kind of, it allows you to give yourself breathing room a little bit. But I also do appreciate the fact that I do need to be very careful or as careful as I can be with my word choice, depending on the circumstances. There are times where I want to be satirical about myself. And then if they get the joke, they get the joke. If they don’t, then it’s whatever. But yeah, I mean, I saw a comment yesterday where somebody said something about “I bet this guy doesn’t realize how much the people on his team cringe when he says something.” And I was like, “You don’t know how much I made myself cringe. So like, I’m way ahead of you, my friend,” because there’s also those aspects, too, right? People see 90 seconds, me recapping, you know, me being awake for 18 hours into a 90 second clip. They’re obviously not getting the whole whole story. I think people that have now been there for a while probably know me as well as a lot of people in my real life, so to speak. It’s bizarre to have people throwing comments at you from all corners, but
Sam Jayanti [00:28:44] No doubt that it is.
Timm Chiusano [00:28:45] I appreciate it.
Sam Jayanti [00:28:46] But I’m glad that you’re taking it in stride. So Timm, one of the ways in which you coach your audience, and it’s super interesting for us because we really believe in the power of coaching and are trying to make that accessible at scale through our product platform at ideamix. And you’re coaching at scale through social media with these little sound bites and thought bites, in a sense. Let’s take a quick look at this video called Don’t Be Afraid of Anyone.
Timm Chiusano [00:29:28] My name’s Timm and I would like to give you something. It’s a gift that this garbage can gave me about a year ago. And I would like for you to know this, too and I would like for this to really, really, really sink in, especially as it relates to anything from a career perspective or from a relationship perspective. You don’t have to be afraid of anybody. You really don’t. Whether it’s a boss, whether it’s a coworker, whether it’s a girlfriend, boyfriend, etc. If you’re being a good person and you’re trying, then it’s kind of bullshit if people are giving you whatever they are giving you that is leading to additional anxiety or fear. And you don’t deserve that. Again, with the caveat of just being nice and working hard, fuck anybody that is making you afraid. I’ve been there. I’ve been stuck in that situation and it sucks. It’s unnecessary and I want this to sink in. And hopefully this is a gift that you can take into the new year. That’s all I got.
Sam Jayanti [00:30:43] Tell us about how you encapsulate some of these ideas. “Don’t be afraid of anyone” is a very empowering message and so many especially younger people coming out of colleges, universities, changing jobs, whatever circumstances they might be in at a time when certainly it’s been the greatest set of uncertainties of the last 20 years. Tell us a little about that.
Timm Chiusano [00:31:15] I remember that one in particular hitting me one day and having this realization of “I don’t know what I am actually scared of here.” Like that nauseating feeling of going into your boss’s office into some sort of meeting and being afraid. And I saw that on a garbage can and I’m like, wait a minute. These are things that you kind of know and that you hear and that you’ve kind of tell yourself from time to time of like, oh, you know, I should be comfortable, I should be confident, etc.. But then to see it in those specific words on a garbage can of all places, I was like, Okay, what am I actually afraid of? Like he, the previous boss…no one’s actually going to reach across the table and punch me in the nose so if I am actually doing what I need to be doing, I am actually going to be better if I am comfortable and confident in the situation.
Sam Jayanti [00:32:13] Yeah, but is it isn’t the fear that all of us feel at a basic level of either failure or disapproval?
Timm Chiusano [00:32:23] Mm hmm. Yeah, without question. But if you can understand that that is okay, that you’re going to have bad meetings and that you’re going to potentially overlook something, [00:32:35]that it’s okay to care about something. For fear to dictate what you are doing, I think that that’s a different conversation. [11.7s] What I was seeing and what had hit me like a ton of bricks was I was making business decisions based off of fear and I was not comfortable to have direct conversations based off of what I thought was best in any given moment. And that is a bad way to run a business. If anyone is in an environment where fear is being used as a guiding light or it is like, Oh, we will do these things, and if we don’t do them this way, then there are consequences, that is a bad way to run a business and that business–even if it is sustainable,
Sam Jayanti [00:33:22] Is destined to fail.
Timm Chiusano [00:33:23] is destined to fail or is destined to just flatline forever.
Sam Jayanti [00:33:26] Yeah.
Timm Chiusano [00:33:27] If you do not have an open environment in which people are comfortable to say “I know you said this, but I would like to talk about that,” you cannot grow without that type of environment. And I read this series of books from the Harvard Business Review that made that hit home like a ton of bricks which was ‘you will stifle your own creativity. You will stifle inner dialog that is going to help advance products, go to market strategy, how you’re talking to consumers and you literally create an echo chamber when fear is at the core, when there is pervasive fear in a company. And even if you were talking about a mom and pop shop, if it is just like, oh, these are the things that we do because this is what we’re told to do, then you are immediately almost dismissing the consumer or any outside variable that is going to get you to think differently to be able to provide a better product or service. So removing fear and getting people to be comfortable with the fact that A you know, I was kind of saying that for a couple different reasons. One, for those in charge, do not do this. A, I would argue that it’s almost like a broken window aspect of things that eat away at our society because you’re making people anxious, you’re making them potentially react poorly when they go home. It is the definition of toxic from a mental perspective. So those that are creating those environments at work, A you’re doing a greater disservice to society. I firmly believe that because think of how pervasive that then becomes. That person could go home and on the way home they could snap at somebody on the subway. They could be a jerk when they go in to pick up the fruits and vegetables they had to pick up at the grocery store on the way home. They could then walk in and talk in a short way to their kids. Then not have versus having at least, like, being pleasant. Think of how much a greater good that can do. So those that are creating toxic environments that are rooted in fear are stifling their own business and they are creating a more toxic environment in much greater ways
Sam Jayanti [00:35:45] Across society.
Timm Chiusano [00:35:46] Across society. And they think and especially because in those cases, in a lot of those cases too, we’re talking about people at companies that are well-paid and that, you know, there are people that are probably well-paid too. So you’re almost throwing away opportunity to do greater good and you’re inserting this toxic element that then kind of spreads out and then can become generational, too.
Sam Jayanti [00:36:12] Yeah.
Timm Chiusano [00:36:12] Like in a it might sound bizarre and potentially like an aggressive stance to take on this, but I firmly believe that that is a root cause of a lot of other issues that we have simply because people don’t know how to manage other people. They let their own fear dictate and then start to push this agenda of “let me make others scared because I’m not quite sure what’s going on here so I’m just going to try to be angry about things and try to push them in a certain direction.”
Sam Jayanti [00:36:41] It breeds risk aversion, right, and it breeds kind of it totally distorts communication and transparency and I mean, in really extreme cases like Putin and Russia, it leads to just totally inaccurate, crazy information and as a result, a series of poor decisions.
Timm Chiusano [00:37:03] Yeah.
Sam Jayanti [00:37:03] Yeah. I couldn’t agree with you more. Timm, as you look back on your career, and it may not be simply career related. It might be life and personal/family related as well, who are your coaches and mentors, like who are the people you rely on? If you had a problem that you wanted some advice on, who are those people for you?
Timm Chiusano [00:37:28] I mean, first person I’m going to these days is my wife. She is you know, it sounds cliche to say, but she is the rock of our family and her encouragement is the reason why this is all possible. Especially at 44 years–I mean, when I started doing this I was 42, which is crazy, I think I’ve been doing this for, you know, almost two years now–her encouragement is said to like give me time and space and to watch and to cheer and to be able to help me make sure that things were okay before I click “Post” is huge. So she’s first and foremost. Very fortunate that my dad had a career that was not too dissimilar in some regards, but also very different in enough ways that he’s a great sounding board but then also a different perspective on things. And then somebody that sticks out for me from the early stages of my career is a gentleman named Mike Tirico. He’s a sports announcer. He was the host of the PGA Golf Tour on ABC Sports back in the day. And he would proactively come to me at times and like, ask me very specific and direct questions about where my head was at on a slew of topics, including when I first met my wife, who was working for the crew at the same time as well. And I just appreciated his demeanor because he had this amazing ability to be that guy on TV that so many people were like, “that’s like he’s the host and he’s done Monday Night Football. He’s done like a slew of things.” But then taking the time to care enough about the guy that had been with the company and on the team for maybe a year or several months before we got to know each other better and to make sure that I was okay and that I felt the opposite of what we were discussing earlier, that I wasn’t scared to go to him with a question versus being the guy that was like, you know, under no circumstances can my rental car get screwed up. The fact that I saw him early in my career as somebody that was approachable and well-rounded, too, to kind of care about both the work and the life aspects of things and to ask me questions about both. There’s something very endearing about that type of personality that made a huge difference. And it’s funny, too, because.
Sam Jayanti [00:40:02] he basically taught you that style in a sense, or you internalized that style and sort of incorporated that to your own working style
Timm Chiusano [00:40:10] Yeah. I mean, I’ve been fortunate to have a a good amount of examples along those lines where I saw what I felt like were kind of both sides of the spectrum of approachable, engaging, caring and just you wanted to spend time with that person and you wanted their perspective and then those that might be harsh, you know I worked at a country club for a while as a kid, as like the guy in the driving range that goes out and picks the balls. And so I felt like I saw a slew of different personalities and the laid back person who is obviously very successful but would take time to kind of hang out with us and be like, hey, you know, “sun’s about to set do you want to go play a couple of holes with me” versus the guys who were like, “why are these golf balls so dirty?” It was like, you know, it also just kind of framed up like what’s actually important and how you can behave and how you can get people to be comfortable with you which I always thought was such an important aspect of life.
Sam Jayanti [00:41:14] Couldn’t agree with you more. Another coaching tip, Timm, that you have put out in your videos, which I also loved because it was again, this message of total empowerment was “anything I can do, you can do better.” Let’s take a quick listen.
Timm Chiusano [00:41:29] Before I continue, I have to be super, super clear about something. Anything I can do, you can do better. I’m just a dumb ass C student that for some reason work always clicked, but school didn’t. And now you can judge my resume for yourself. Just know that anything that I can do, I know that you can do better. If you want to.
Sam Jayanti [00:41:48] Tell us about that, you’ve achieved a lot. You are always pushing yourself, as you said at the very beginning, to find ways to be better, do better, learn more, and motivate your team to do all those things. But yet I think you really want people to understand that there’s never a limit to what they can do. So explain that a little bit.
Timm Chiusano [00:42:16] I firmly believe that anything that I can do, someone else can do better if they want to. Like that’s the last thing that I see in that post. I think that’s a very important caveat because A, there’s nothing about what I do that people should–that literally the world “should” look to and be like I should be doing those things or that I am not successful unless I’m doing those things. Happiness first and foremost, above all else. But if you see my world and you’re like, that’s cool I would like to do that, I want everybody to feel that that is fully within their reach. You know, we all make choices about how we’re spending our time, how we choose to act and behave and the things that we’re willing to invest ourselves in. And there really is not anything all that special about me–not a great student, didn’t kind of get in the front door through an internship that kind of helped set me up to do X, Y and Z. Certainly, you know, very privileged as far as the grand scheme of life goes for a multitude of reasons. Very thankful for any conversation that was set up so that I could make an introduction to those things but like once you’re in the door, you’re in the door and then like Godspeed.
Sam Jayanti [00:43:30] It’s up to you.
Timm Chiusano [00:43:30] Right. And I mean, I literally started as a substitute teacher and freelance everything I could get my hands on to get that first opportunity as a part time person and then get the full time opportunity, etc.. Once you kind of get in and again, depending on what you want to do, I fully get that there’s some people that are like, I have no interest in managing a large group of people, that sounds terrible, no, thank you. But based off of my skill set, and anybody that’s like that looks like a nice path to go down, I want them to feel very comfortable and I want them to feel very comfortable with my content that like they’re–and that’s why I try to speak as calmly as possible about like as much as I try to talk fast in some regards or be able to explain a lot in a short period of time–most of that is because I’m just long-winded by nature. And also you’re trying to take an 18 hour window and condense it into 90 seconds. But I’d like to casually say things like, you know, Monday morning started out with a conversation about the analytics continuum and almost see it in a very casual way and it’s not me trying to sound impressive, like, oh, these are things that you’re talking about. It’s no, it’s like that was just a topic.
Sam Jayanti [00:44:48] Yeah. It’s just how the day started.
Timm Chiusano [00:44:51] Right. And as often as I call myself a dumb ass, which I stand by, that if I can stand there and have these types of conversations and try to triangulate things for people like I don’t care if you sucked the math. You could run a PNL really well. And I’ll tell you why, because it’s the simple premise of dollars in dollars out
Sam Jayanti [00:45:14] It’s arithmetic.
Timm Chiusano [00:45:16] Right. And I literally had a teacher stand over me in high school, the one said, even if you get a tutor, you’re not going to pass this class.
Sam Jayanti [00:45:25] How encouraging.
Timm Chiusano [00:45:25] Right. And then flash forward into my early forties and I’m taking a Harvard Business School Executive Training Program in a conversation directly with somebody that kind of oversees the finance side of the executive program, having a conversation with him about this crazy exercise where they give us 13 blank PNLs and we had to figure like which ones were for which types of categories of businesses and feel comfortable to be the first to raise my hand and to have this dialog with this person and to think that for, the way my brain works, a lot of that goes back to the way that I used to look at baseball cards or hockey cards. And so I want those that have aspirations or that want to even just go do their own thing and think “yeah but I could never do the finance side of that because I sucked at math.” No. And literally anything that you see that I am doing, you can do better if you want to. And if they can see that and gain some sort of inspiration or encouragement from that, amazing. Again, all of this wildly exceeded any expectations that I had going in which were zero. So if there’s one person that’s like cool, now I’m more comfortable to actually walk into that meeting with finance and is like, I don’t have to feel as though this is going to crush me, I can look at it in the way that’s going to work for my brain and start to formulate it in a way that’s going to help me be more comfortable in the workplace. That’s an amazing outcome.
Sam Jayanti [00:46:56] Totally agree. I’m glad to hear you say that about HBS because I really felt that it did that for me as well. There was a way that they tackled and explained topics that made it completely agnostic to whatever your background was or however good you were or weren’t at math or any other particular skill, and the achievability of all of those realms which are so important in business was kind of open access to all, which was amazing. Timm, last question.
Timm Chiusano [00:47:35] Yeah.
Sam Jayanti [00:47:36] What’s ahead? How do you think about the next five years?
Timm Chiusano [00:47:41] I have no idea. I really don’t. It’s funny, I think a lot of this has been possible because I literally just worry about what’s next on my to do list. And I had this reflective moment the other day where I thought, I was starting to do some of the math of what I’ve done so far and where I am and as I was trying to wrap my head around, like, okay, what am I doing content wise, etc. and I’m like, Oh my God, I’ve done like 700 pieces of content over the past 18 months or however long it’s been since I started. It’s nuts. But like, if you, you know, so I’ve always functioned much better under ‘I don’t have to figure out the entire mountain, just let me grab a bucket and.
Sam Jayanti [00:48:27] Just the next step.
Timm Chiusano [00:48:27] Yeah, exactly. And that’s helped me with so many of the biggest challenges I’ve come across in my career and I think some of the biggest challenges I’ve come across in life, whether it was dealing with a sick parent or, you know, trying to just navigate the world of being a newlywed or ‘hey, here is a large department, you got to go rebuild it’, like everything has been so much more digestible. And I’m like, don’t get scared by the big thing. Just look down and do the next right thing. So honestly, I really don’t
Sam Jayanti [00:48:57] Think that way.
Timm Chiusano [00:48:58] Yeah, I mean, I could paint a vision in my head of and I keep going back to this one specific thing where for whatever reason, there’s a set of circumstances where my daughter’s 12 years old and I can surprise her after school on like a Thursday, and I’m like, Hey, we’re going to Paris tonight. But like, I don’t know, is the circumstances surrounding that me in this current role and like things are just in a good spot and I could go do this thing? Has some sort of other parallel universe opened up and I’m doing something else? I’m not quite sure. I’m very comfortable to live in the present and to appreciate that while I can have a moodboard of sorts in my head that none of it would ever happen, nor do I need to worry about it, but if I make the most of whatever I have in front of me in the exact moment that I have, then you know it can lead to good things.
Sam Jayanti [00:49:52] Well and having goals but not getting overly indexed on them but keeping them on your moodboard, as you said, which I love that visual actually, is really fantastic advice. Thank you so much for being here with us.
Timm Chiusano [00:50:09] Thank you so much for having me I loved it.
Sam Jayanti [00:50:13] Thanks for listening today. You can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and while you’re there, please do review the show. We love hearing from you. So email us at email@example.com or Instagram DM us. Our episode this week was produced by the incomparable Martin Milewski with music by the awesome Nashville-based singer songwriter Doug Allen. You can learn more about Doug at DougAllenMusic.com.
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