Sept. 23, 2020

Emotional Intelligence

Since 2000, Brent Darnell has been actively teaching #constructionindustry professionals people skills and emotional intelligence. He is a best-selling author, engineer, playwright, teacher, trainer, speaker & coach. We dive deep into how emotional intel...

Since 2000, Brent Darnell has been actively teaching #constructionindustry professionals people skills and emotional intelligence. He is a best-selling author, engineer, playwright, teacher, trainer, speaker & coach. We dive deep into how emotional intelligence impacts people and their teams along with local culture’s impact on emotional expression. Brent shares what you can do today to move towards better outcomes.  The Easier, Better, for Construction Show is where people working to make building easier and better share how.

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Website at for books, audio stuff, and apps Brent’s Tao of Emotional Intelligence for cool, free stuff try out some sample online courses with links at bottom of page



Today's episode is sponsored by the Lean Construction Institute. Join me and many others from the Lean design and construction community at their 22nd Annual Congress.  It is being held virtually this year, the week of October 19th. Our theme is the ABC’s of Lean...Transformation through Actions, Best Practices, and Coaching.  Learn more at


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Brent  0:00  
I'm encouraged because the industry has think how the industry has changed in 20 years, you were hard pressed to find any negotiating work 20 years ago, much less integrated project delivery lean, I mean, lean was making the inception of lean for construction was being talked about, you know, it really has gained the momentum in the last 10 years or so, it just points up the fact that everything we're working toward is more collaborative, more relationship driven. I mean, you can't have lean without the people side of that equation. It I mean, a lot of people try to, they try to make it a process or a scheduling tool, which is not the people sides of what we do day to day, and putting projects together is vital for success. And if you're not adept at that, and human explore these areas, and you haven't really taught people what this means and what affects them, affects everything affects safety and affects stress, the stress levels that put people through affects how they perform. And that's it all boils down to performance. For me. It's all about performance, mental, physical, emotional performance, as well as some type of spiritual aspect to this, which I can't we don't talk about maybe specifically in that, in that context, having something outside of yourself. That's important. I think all of those elements need to be in place.

Felipe Engineer  1:25  
No, you're totally right. And I think it's being recognized in other industries as well. I'm reading a book now that Jeff Sutherland is making me read. And that's what that's what a good mentor does. He forces education on you. And it's a book about Scrum. And the preface is actually quoting from the DAO de Jing and talking about the spirit of how we, we play form and work together. And I'll just give a plug to Jeff, for anyone is going to be, you know, 1000 questions. I'm gonna get asked, you know what, let the comments come. If you don't know what the title of the book is, send me a comment and I'll answer it via an email. Yeah, so I mean, we can talk about whatever you want to talk. 

Welcome to the nbfc show, the easier better for construction podcast. I'm your host, Felipe Engineer Manriquez. This show is all about the business of construction. Today's episode is sponsored by the Lean Construction Institute. LCI is working to lead the building industry and transforming its practices and culture. Its vision is to create a healthy and thriving industry that delivers outstanding project outcomes every time for everyone join me and many others from the lean design and construction community at their 22nd annual Congress. It is being held virtually this year, the week of October 19. Our theme is the ABCs of lean transformation through actions, best practices and coaching. Check the show notes for more information. Thank you, LCI now to the show. Well, I know you are wide open. That is a fact. Brent, when I had the pleasure of speaking with you in person, as brief as it was, I got the sense right away that judgment was really low. You accepted me just the way I was. And I felt safe and secure.

Brent  3:25  
Well, good. I mean, that isn't a deliberate thing. But I'm happy that that's the that's what you felt, because certainly, I would like that for everybody. In fact, I'd like everybody to be able to do that as well, as well as.

Felipe Engineer  3:40  
It was quite striking to meet somebody like yourself, you're like a living breathing Carl young. Well, that's a high compliment. It's kind of funny that just this week alone, Brent, I was talking to a gentleman that runs a small boutique construction company. And he's also a big fan of Carl young. And I thought, what are the what are the odds it was it must be like psychology we can construction right now.

Brent  4:10  
Well, you know, it's getting I'm meeting people. I met a woman through on LinkedIn. That's I did a podcast for ASC II. And it was a roundtable discussion. And she's teaching mindfulness and meditation to the construction industry. And then there's another woman in Australia that's doing something very similar emotional intelligence and health and well being to the construction industry. So I think we're starting to wake up, I think the collective consciousness is a little bit, it's on the rise and people are starting to really get these concepts and know how good they are, for them as individuals and for us as an industry.

Felipe Engineer  4:51  
I think that's a key thing with the change in generations in the workforce. Now I read something earlier this year, that the Millennials and Generation Y have overtaken the majority in the construction industry. Now as the dominant group. We've had quite a few people retire, you know, from the older and I'm like in the middle, where I am. So I'm like I'm struggling. And I can see, you know, one way it's this way. And another way, it's totally new and different than just right in the middle, always correcting people that are not millennials. And that's not that I'm not offended. I'm just not that young.

Brent  5:29  
Well, and we got to remember, I did some math the other day. And I, there's an article in Kurt's magazine called the voice on generations why we're not so different. That I wrote, and the oldest millennial is now 40. Oh, my God. So we got to quit talking about this kid. 

Felipe Engineer  5:52  
Yeah, at the changes here. So I want to, I want to pick your brain, because it's not often that we get somebody with your experience, to come on the show. And this is a topic that's been weaving through the last handful of interviews that I've done with folks have been talking about the psychology of the job site, and how things are changing. And I noticed that that's a space that you work in, quite significantly. For those that don't know, can you tell the audience who is Brent Darnell?

Brent  6:21  
Well, my job is I teach emotional intelligence and all the critical people skills to the construction industry. And that's every part of the industry. I work on the design side, I work on the general contractors, I work down to the foreman level with field folks guys with tools in their hands. And it's all about understanding the the, what emotional intelligence really is and how important all these critical people skills are to success of a project into your own personal success and your own health and well being. And I've done that in 20 different countries, and probably at least that many states and, and I also teach at the college level, I teach at Auburn, and Penn State and Virginia Tech and Northwestern. And so we're starting to make some inroads into the young folks that are at school now that are going to be coming into the industry and telling them how important these skills are. And we all know it to be true, you could have those people that are pre technically excellent, or they're great builders, but they're not very good with the people and stuff. And they're not effective. They're, they're just, they're just sort of dinosaurs in the industry. They're no longer as effective as they used to be. And they used to be quite effective, I think when the culture was different. So and the thing that intrigues me, I've been doing this for for 20 years, can you imagine? 20 years ago, this was probably really freaky and weird. 

Felipe Engineer  7:59  
And yeah, still is to a lot of maybe still is right print. And where can people get a hold of some of your work?

Brent  8:08  
Well, then go to my website. And I actually, it's funny, you mentioned that I'm posting on my LinkedIn profile, daily, a chapter from the people profit connection. All right, and then I'm going to also post daily chapters from the tough guys survival kit, which includes relationship skills, communication skills, presentation skills, stress management, time management, so I'm gonna be posting chapters every day on my LinkedIn profile so they can download them one at a time on the chapter. They go to my website, Sprint Darnell, calm, go to the store, and you got links to all the books. Did you know I read a book called The Tao of emotional intelligence.

Felipe Engineer  8:50  
I did not you're gonna tell me about that book.

Brent  8:53  
It's a great book. So I noticed that I read the down the gym every day. Wow. So I have an app where I read through the thing and read different aspects of the data, Jang and then apply it to my day as part of my morning ritual. And I started noticing the real parallels between emotional intelligence and when I taught and the doubt the Jing so in the book, this is just a little book to take the emotional intelligence stats, you get your profile, you decide what you want to work on. And then it tells if you want to work on say empathy. It goes through all the different permutations of the downs of gene that have to do with it. Oh, man, so you can get your empathy down to gene in the morning and say, Okay, this is what I'm going to apply throughout my day to try to work on my into distress. And I've also created an app from the book that does the same thing. 

Felipe Engineer  9:46  
Oh, definitely getting the app. Sold me.

Brent  9:52  
Yes. Well, on the my website, you can go to either Android or Apple and Get the the app that you need. But it's they ask the same thing. Doubt emotional intelligence.

Felipe Engineer  10:05  
Yeah, we'll put in the show notes print. And then for people watching on YouTube, I'll put it right here. So they can check it out. And as well in the description, so people get a hold of that app and transform their whole life. You know, I was, I was flying quite a bit, and I would make sure in every flight up and down, I go through to least once. And it definitely makes it a lot easier to navigate the world.

Brent  10:30  
Big undercurrent of that is that is the constant change. Yeah. And in the construction industry, I think we have a tendency to, for status quo, and whatever is easiest for us to, to go for. And we're not into radical change. And then, you know, you get something like a global pandemic, that really lends itself to radical change and pivoting and figuring out new ways of doing things. So if you're not doing it now, it's you better be doing something because the world's a different place. 

Felipe Engineer  11:05  
You know, that's, that's the funny thing. Like we hear all these stats on how people hate change, and we don't like change, and yet, are we're just a living embodiment of change. We're in a constant state of change.

Brent  11:19  
Yeah. Well, and it's the embracing of that change. That I think is the key. And I always tell people constant, you know, think things being constantly changing makes everything possible. Yeah. Right.

Felipe Engineer  11:33  
I want to I want you to hit back on, you mentioned the topic of stress, I remember, I was lucky enough to be in the audience when you're giving a presentation. And we all had to take the self assessment. And it was it was a big construction group of folks in the audience. And I feel like 80% were over the line. Where were normal stress should be. Can you talk about what stress does to our cognitive functions? For those that don't know?

Brent  12:02  
Yeah, it's stress is a killer. It affects every part of your physiology, every part of your your cognitive ability, judgment ability. And the safety program that we've created talks a lot about stress, because I'm decreasing the ability to problem solve by up to 500%. As it's this low level, fight or flight that your answer your body's putting out these little pumps of adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormone, which guess what shuts down your thinking brain, because your body thinks it's in danger, your body thinks it's in fight or flight. So you don't need a thinking brain when you're in fight or flight, you're either going to fight something, or run away, or freeze. And those are the three options you have. And your brain just thinks it's a survival thing. So it's shutting down in thinking party. So you can think as clearly your judgment isn't as good. You know, and all a lot of things can affect that besides stress, things like nutrition, you know, glucose levels affect things like sleep. There's a great book called why we sleep by Matthew Walker, and it talks about sleep, lack of sleep being a contributing factor to just about every disease, you can make diabetes, any of these autoimmune diseases, cancer, Alzheimers dementia, it's traced back to lack of sleep, either is causing these things or exacerbates those.

Felipe Engineer  13:27  
Yeah, I can't remember if it was your talk, or somebody else talking on the topic of stress in the workplace. And, and they asked two questions, you know, raise your hand if you if you just recognize you're in a high stress situation or workplace and then keep your hand up. If your go to food is sugary, sugary drinks, Red Bulls, monsters, you know, those types of things that keep you caffeinated in the same hand state up?

Brent  13:51  
Exactly. It just feels and it it, it gives you sort of a semblance of your brain working properly, but and it maybe it does for a time because you've got this shot of glucose and caffeine. But the crash that comes later is devastating, because you're going to be far lower than you were when you drank that night. And it also they've linked the those energy drinks and the tar your lean, which is an amino acid to the heart palpitations and heart attacks as well. So those are really bad for you. 

Felipe Engineer  14:26  
Oh, yeah, I made it when I was in college. Brent, my wife and I used to we were dating at the time we, you know, we'd go to the gym, pound a monster, go home, wash our cars, wash our parents cars, paint the house and then be like, Whoa, that's just absurd. You're sitting still and you're sweating. Right? The things you try when you're in college.

Brent  14:51  
But you know, I mean, I'm seeing those that those levels of stress really taking its toll and then you tie that back into mental health issues. We have the second highest suicide rate of any industry. And, you know, it's sort of like when people are talking about Lean and saying we got this and you know, we don't really need lean, we got this guy's you know, we knew we have the, you have a horrible productivity rate, we have a horrible record for how we treat our guys with tools in their hands, we have the second highest suicide rate, we got lots of folks that are way overweight, that are addicted to various over the counter or prescription drugs that use alcohol and tobacco a lot. We're not winning, this is not, this is not a good thing, we really need to start addressing these issues of mental and physical health and well being. Or I think we're going to be in big trouble. And we may already be in big trouble.

Felipe Engineer  15:51  
We probably are definitely in big trouble. I mean, when we look at the statistics, that's been done time and time, again, you mentioned the productivity, we keep seeing roughly 75%, you know, give or take a percentage, as three out of four jobs are late and behind schedule. It is so normal I talked to I've got a lot of friends that are on the owner side, and they work in capital construction, you know, every day day in and day out. That's how they pay the bills. You know, they're what I call serial builders. They're constantly, you know, there's the big university clients, the big healthcare clients, pharmaceutical people that are building year round. And they're so used to projects being late that they're not even surprised when it happens. Yeah, that's just the expectation. And it's not it's not the, the building is not the problem. And it's not the people aren't smart enough to schedule Well, there is just a level of complexity that we haven't kept up with. Right? You've got this crazy amount of specialization, when you just look at construction titles today that exist, you know, versus even 20 years ago, there's probably 20 times the number of specializations now than there was. And any given project team. I remember talking to a team earlier this week, on a small job, somewhere around the 20 $30 million mark, and the team was 45 people. Wow. You know, and that that's, that doesn't even include the people that are going to be in the trades. That's just on the front end planning, the design of and the stakeholders on the client side, I mean, the numbers of people coming together to make buildings happen, our just, I think much, much larger than they used to be.

Brent  17:36  
I agree, it's, it's something that we have to get our arms around, or it's going to be out of control. And I think that's, that's where lean comes in, you're going to find the things that add the value and find the things that that you really do need to do. And I'm my guess is we're probably doing a lot of stuff we don't know.  

Felipe Engineer  17:58  
Oh, definitely. So I'm guilty of that myself. I'm always trying to learn and, and to let go of the things that aren't valuable for anyone.

Brent  18:05  
Yeah, it's true. And but you know, we get back to this change is hard thing. I read a book recently called immunity to change, which was it's such an interesting book and the psychologists, they did this, they talked about the study of the these people who had like, you know, really horrible, physical, some kind of disease or symptoms or something, and the doctor gave them drugs, and they interviewed, and they found guess out how many out of 10 actually take the drugs and do the protocol. 30

Felipe Engineer  18:41  
Probably say, just to guess I'm gonna try to read your mind somewhere less than 15%.

Brent  18:47  
Yeah, it's two to three. Yeah. So this one guy, he had he had a double hand transplant.

Felipe Engineer  18:57  
Really? So he had a double hand transplant. What happened to him?

Brent  18:59  
Yeah, that well, they have anti rejection drugs, just kept forgetting couldn't take it. And they had to cut his hands back off. Wow. So and so the psychologist came in and said, Why do people do that? Like, okay, here's your heart, man, you have congestive heart failure. And if you take these minutes, you're going to live probably at least five to 10 years and have a healthy normal life. And if you don't take it, you're going to be dead. And they find that people don't take it. Why? Well, there's something called psychological immunity. So there's some psychological reason that they have in their psychology that is telling them to, to do something or not do something to protect themselves. And I started trying to relate this to people I worked with, like what Okay, I've got a guy that's a 50 year old superintend a total control freak micromanager. And we know those guys, right. Oh, yeah. And it's like, Look, I mean, think about it. You can make your life easier. You can work a lot less you can mentor people. You can teach People, there's always positive things. And yet they will not give up that control Why? Well, the psychological immunity is, look, if I teach somebody to do it, or mentor somebody to do it, and they do it well, what am I here for? I'm making myself obsolete. Right? I want to be relevant, and I want to be contributing, and I don't want to be. So the psychological immunity is, if I just, you know, delegate, then I'm useless.

Felipe Engineer  20:31  
If I give it away, and what am I getting paid for?

Brent  20:34  
Yeah, exactly. So you got to overcome that psychological immunity before people will actually work on creating change. And it's really hard. But there's a really good methodology in the book, step by step kind of methodology to try to figure out what is that someone? What is that competing thing that's preventing me from creating this challenge? And the change is hard. I always do this exercise. Every everybody, when you're listening to this, you're watching this. Do this with us. Say the names of the days of the week out loud. Ready, go. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, perfect. Now say the names of the days of the week in alphabetical order, go, Oh, my God.

Felipe Engineer  21:18  
I could feel my pupils dilate. See, and see most people will have given up now know that? Yes, it's gotta be like, Monday. It's Friday, when I know. It's Friday, Monday, Friday, my late Saturday, Sunday, Thursday, Tuesday, Wednesday, there you go. Well, you've you've trained, it took me like a week to learn that I had to see the days of the week on a calendar in my mind or even find where's the earliest instance? So I bawled my eyes go, boo.

Brent  21:49  
Yeah. See in your brain, if if your life isn't in danger, your brain just says I'm doing that. Like, if it has to burn a lot of glucose to create something that's totally different than what those neural pathways that are established are, your brain will not do it. It's it's a survival mechanism. And you know who the worst of this masters, the experts, because they just know the answer. They can't have that beginner's mind, right? They have the the experts behind the Masters mind, and they just know the answer. They can't get to that beginner's mind when they knew nothing. And there's infinite possibility.

Felipe Engineer  22:26  
Now, that's where that, you know, kind of leaning into chaos, that infinite potential of things that can happen. Even I've been introduced as the lean guru recently. It was just yesterday, and I was laughing and laughing. People are like, Why are you laughing so hard? I'm like, because it's, it's funny, I come into things. Try to be open, and just see what's gonna manifest, like, what's gonna happen, like, I have an idea of what we could do.

Brent  22:55  
And I try to cultivate that as well. Even when I'm doing like a keynote. Sometimes I'll just go way off script and do what the audience is sort of telling me to do or feeling that they're telling me to do. And those instincts, things are always better. Oh, yeah. If you just let things unfold, and capitalize on what's happening in those moments, instead of coming through with these preconceptions on whatever it is, how to run a meeting, or how to do much better off.

Felipe Engineer  23:26  
Are you watching my stuff? Like how to run a meeting? Yeah, that's right. Yeah, yeah. That's right. It is. But that's hard for people, especially if you're in a habit of control. Yes, to let that to let that go. And just see what happens. It is better, like, do a small experiment, something really tiny. And see how it goes if it goes better or not. I was having this conversation with my son. Earlier today. He was he's kind of been phoning in his exercise routine since he's been on the activities due to COVID. And I just instead of telling him what he should do, I turned it around. I said, hey, how strong Do you want to get it? His answer was stronger than you. Oh, wow. And I said, Good. Boy, how you gonna do that? If you only have to your what you're supposed to do? He's like, it's not gonna happen. I was like, well then always dominate you, boy. The next time I saw him, he was like, dripping with sweat. Nice. We stepped up his game. Yeah. He wants to be stronger than Dan. I encourage that, like, be stronger than dad for sure. That's awesome, man. Yeah, he's a sharp kid. And most people are like that. I just have the one kid. Yeah. Cool. Yeah, it's all like I have two hands. So one kids all I got. I can't. I can't handle more than two. Not that skilled. I bought you Brent. No, kids.

Brent  24:57  
I'm married late. So I'm a 40 of my wife was 43 when we got married, we decided not to have kids. 

Felipe Engineer  25:04  
So well, you can just adopt me. Oh, yeah, I could be one of your your your children not here running around.

Brent  25:10  
Okay, sounds good man. We're just we're getting ready to move into a bigger place, you will save your room.

Felipe Engineer  25:17  
There you go, yeah, just keep my room the way it is like my, like my tchotchkes and my knickknacks, as you can see from behind me, right? So people that go to your website, you give a lot of stuff away for free, Brent, I mean, that is itself is an interesting concept in our businesses, because you're technically a consultant. And here you are just giving away all this free stuff. What is some of the rationale for that?

Brent  25:42  
Well, my mission statement is to help to transform the industry. And, you know, my my theory is the stuff I've created for the industry and the stuff I've kind of cobbled together from lots of different sources. It's really not mine. It's a bunch of different peoples. I didn't know I never copied anything or stole her thing. But I took concepts and say, Okay, wow, that would really work in a lien setting that would work with, you know, learning about relationships. And so a lot of it's stuff that I've taken from a bunch of different sources. So it's not really truly, absolutely mind, although I take credit for piecing them together and applying them to construction. And the other thing is, I mean, the mission statement is to help transform the industry. And I can't do that if I'm covetous of the information that will help transform the industry, right?

Felipe Engineer  26:33  
Hello, that you're taking the commandment to heart not coming out.

Brent  26:37  
That's right. So by the way, if they go to Brent, Ford slash resources, there's an emotional intelligence test, there's something called the body battery inventory that will measure stressors versus recovery stuff, there's a really good team exercise called the four quadrants, there's the tough guy survival kits, second editions there. So it's all kind of really good stuff there.

Felipe Engineer  27:03  
And I took that first test myself, and I saw that then I was heading in the right direction towards being more empathetic. And I say, heading in the right direction, I wasn't where I wanted to be like, in my mind, I was much further along than I really was. Right? It was a good wake up call. If you can't game the test. You've done well to make that assessment.

Brent  27:25  
Oh, good. It was a friend of mine that actually did the questions. He's got a PhD in sociology. And he's very smart. So he did that. And it's not perfect. And it is a self perception evaluation. So it's your perception of yourself. So there's all kinds of little limitations built in. But sometimes, like you said, it can be a nice wake up call or a nice, just to pointing you in the right direction. Which is what what this is all about is figuring out are there some things that I could work on to be better? It's the best version of yourself that you can pay?

Felipe Engineer  27:59  
Yeah, it's like, reminds me of the old Stephen Covey sharpening the saw, yeah, you can, you can cut the tree down. Or you can spend time sharpening the saw and cut the tree down faster.

Brent  28:12  
It's totally that that metaphor is so appropriate for this industry. I cannot tell you how many times that that people have that excuse of well, we got to get the work done. Well, that the owner came and said, You know what, I want to see some footers. And well, why don't we take about six weeks and really do some heavy duty play. Now we don't have time for that. We got to get some footers. So it's like, okay, let's get some footers, which may change based on what we do here. But okay, we'll get some funders and if that's what the owner wants, and it's like, when are we going to learn? I always tell the story. There's a there was a Japanese construction firm, and they had a 12 months schedule. And they it was the site was just like, we just cleared the site. months went by and the owner said like, Hey, guys, you know, we got we got 11 months left. What's up? We're planning now, okay, not a month went by. Hey, guys, you got nothing. There's no footers, there's no nothing. There's a steel going up what the what is going on what we're planning. another month went by three months, four months. And finally they started doing stuff on the fifth month and guess what? They finished a month. You know, what does that tell you? Yeah. And we don't do that. We just, it's so chaotic. And so like, let's just work over there for a while. Okay, well, let's work over here. Well, we were stopped there because of an RFI. Okay, well, let's just go over there. That's fine. Do that.

Felipe Engineer  29:52  
Keep changing direction.

Brent  29:53  
Yeah, that's what we do for Do we ever whenever we finish and they all finish you know.

Felipe Engineer  29:59  
Eventually do finish or you get told enough. The other? Yeah, there's a well, we I mean, there's some cultural things where we just like to make progress. It feels good to make progress. Yeah. Right. And planning is not exonerated or elevated in our culture. No, it's seen as like a necessary evil.

Brent  30:26  
Right. Yeah. And that gets back to the whole conversation about you got to change the culture. For things like lean and even technology, embracing technology, you have to change the culture first, because you can't just slap technology or slap a lien process on a culture that's not willing to embrace, accept, move forward, improve. It just, it's those are band aids that just come off eventually. And you're back to the same Oh, crap.

Felipe Engineer  30:58  
You bleed right through that band aid. Yeah, the mental part. And I saw in your in your profile, that you got an award from nr, some time ago. Yeah. I love the title of the award. He tell people what it is.

Brent  31:17  
It's the top 25 newsmaker in my ward was for transforming alpha males into service focused leaders.

Felipe Engineer  31:26  
And what year was that? 2012 2012? Yeah, so we've got some, some traction on that.

Brent  31:33  
Yeah, you what's interesting, when they told me I got it, I thought I didn't think anything about it. I thought, Okay, well, that's kind of cool. And then when I went there and saw the people that did get in this, I was blown away. The guy that won the have the Award of Excellence, which they picked one of the top 25 newsmakers. And this the guy that won. No, that wasn't even the guy that won. It was another top 25 newsmaker. He was the guy that got the Chilean miners out. Oh, my God, like I felt so inadequate at that point, such an imposter at that point. But they said, No, you need to enjoy this. This is something that the industry and this again 2012 Yeah. wasn't quite there yet with regard to, you know, collaboration and relationships and those kinds of things. So they said, You're, you're on the cutting edge of this, like you're really doing some good work here. So enjoy it. And then they told me, I said, Okay, let me put this in perspective for you. The odds of winning a top 25 newsmaker is much greater than in terms of general population, then you winning an Oscar. I said, Wow, that's phenomenal. That's pretty cool. So I did learn to embrace it, and really was humbled by it, because like I said, these amazing people were nominated. But yeah, I mean, that's my mission from the start is to help the industry be better. I noticed there were a lot of alphas, I noticed that sometimes they're, they get in their own way. And I teaching them a different set of skills, they learned to be really effective, and even more effective than they already are. Because they are just great people. They're the drivers, they get stuff.

Felipe Engineer  33:27  
Yeah, they already make stuff happen. They know how to do it. And then you're increasing your skills with what you teach, makes people the full package.

Brent  33:36  
Oh, it just turns them into superstars. I'll give you an example. This guy to coach a couple years ago, he was in Mexico, his name is Gabrielle. And he was removed from a project because the owner said, this guy's a jerk, get him out of here. And his project team didn't want to work with him. And so he came to me since this is a 50 year old Superintendent that's got lots of experience. Totally just a badass, you know, builder. Yeah. And he came to me like, like a whip, dog. He looked awful. And I said, Look, this, let me just sit lay this out for you. There's nothing wrong. I said, this is just a different set of skills. That's all this is. So we're gonna learn a different set of skills, and you're going to be more effective with a lot less wear and tear on yourself. So he was all in as most alphas are. He did the hard work he he really did a lot of work on empathy and social responsibility and being better team member. And so about six months into this engagement, they put him on a project with a really difficult client. And, and the client hadn't hired a construction management firm, to keep an eye on things and the construction management firms guy was just crazy and he kept posting like stage photos and things that were wrong, like the states itself and, and this guy Gabrielle had developed such a good relationship with the With ownership, that they ended up firing the construction manager and just hired this contractor directly, right. So, so fast forward.

Felipe Engineer  35:15  
My dog is barking at the dog barking. Yes, touch. The dogs like this is so onpoint I gotta work. 

Brent  35:25  
So fast forward another six months and they promoted Gabriella to our Chief Operating Officer for like all of Mexico. He was like the ops guy. Yeah, became the man. That was in 10 months, he did that from being removed from a project to the ops manager for the whole country. So he, I mean, that's a, that's a living testament to alphas did they do the work, they make the changes, and they and they create something that they didn't even know they could create 10 months just to give perspective to folks, that's probably if I'm guessing, some daily work that he's doing right over the 10 month period, it's not like a two days, a two day transformation. And then the butterfly emerges from the cocoon. Now, it doesn't happen that way. We found that this is more like learning to play a musical instrument or learning a language to take it's a different part of your brain. It takes a lot of repetition and coaching and follow up. And we did but at least monthly calls. And sometimes every few weeks, he he called me about halfway through and he said, I'm not you're not a counselor, but maybe you can help me with this. He said, My niece has moved in with us. And she's a pain in the ass. We kind of hate her. Like, she's trying to run our lives. And that's about what's happening with her. And he said, Well, she just got a divorce. She lost her job. And that's why she's having to move in with us. You've lost your place to live because you can't afford it. And I said, How do you think she's feeling right? And his face just like, lit up, you can see the empathy coming in, you know? And he said, she doesn't feel good about herself that she? And I said, Well, how would you feel? So remember, when we first started, think about your body language and what you? He said, Wow, he said, I never thought of that. He said, so what are you going to do is we're going to have a family meeting, and I'm going to it's going to tell, tell everybody, we're just going to love her and support her and be here, which they did. And then about a month later, he calls me back and he said my niece, she's dating someone, she's got a new job, she's looking for her own place to live. Everything is really turned around. And I think part of it was because we were so supportive of her. So I mean, man, you get stuff like that going on. The guys not only nailing it at work, but he's also his personal life is better because of this one.

Felipe Engineer  38:04  
Yeah. And that's where, you know, in my life, Brent, sometimes I get lucky. My wife has been just an unbelievable creator of that sense of it's going to be okay, no matter what, you know, all the trials and tribulations that I've gone through, she's just been an amazing rock. And I still have it, it's it's amazing. Even my, I've had relatives of mine told me that it's unique and special. And you got to appreciate it. And as you're telling the story of just thinking, you know, she just wakes up like that. And she's like that with me. It is very, very unique. Yeah, you almost it's like a superpower. Yeah, really? it Yeah, you feel a little bit I feel a little more stronger. Just knowing that someone's out there with my back. Right. That's great, man. Glad you got that. Yeah, it is powerful. And, and your mindsets the same thing. There's a there's a business business owner is pretty famous on on many different social media feeds, I won't name his name, he's kind of a quasi private individual. But he does a lot of that type of coaching to like similar to what you did with gay Gabrielle. And he saw at some of the talks that I've heard, that people self esteem is actually can be a hindrance to creating an environment of success. And like in both those cases with with the person you were mentoring and coaching and with the nice, like, that was definitely something that was deficient. Yeah, and you can't always control what happens like something might happen at work and you get categorized or classified as an underperformer. Right and then you get labeled. The labels are really hard to take off of, you know.

Brent  39:54  
Well, and it gets back to that original conversation we had you felt in the judgment from me and you know, That's a, like I said, I didn't do that deliberately, like, let me just make sure I'm not judging this person. But I think it's something cultivated over time with working on your own emotional intelligence, because I am a recovering jerk, you know, I mean, totally, I was such a deck, and I'm telling you, you know, mechanical engineer, the smartest guy in the room always had to prove that I'm right, and you're wrong. And it was a horrible, horrible place to be. And so I've done a lot of work on myself through this journey of figuring out what works for the clients. So you're right, it's that it's that journey of your yourself and, and creating those changes and creating that space to create the change. And working it's a lot of work.

Felipe Engineer  40:52  
Yeah, it is a lot of work my you know, in the work that I do, it's, it's change work. Right? It's, it's constant, it's constant change, work we do, we do actually build things to, and the work that we do, right, as an outcome, but it's people that make it all happen. And, and you've seen teams that are high performing, that's like the, that was a big thing. Probably 20 years ago, when lean was getting started. And even, you know, some of the there's a lot of a lot of coaches out there in the industry now that are helping people with with issues, and we're starting to use the athlete analogy with people in business. Now, to get a high performing team, we need high performing athletes, high performing individuals. Alright, we're moving in that direction. The analogies, the sports, I think, are lend themselves really well.

Brent  41:45  
Yeah, they do. And then always astounded me that we, we take a group of people, a group of strangers and throw them in a room and it's high pressure, it's high stress, and they eat crap and food and they don't get enough sleep, and they don't manage their stress well, and they don't exercise ever. And then we expect them to perform at that level. And guess what the amazing thing is they do perform at a high level and they finish those projects. But it comes at a pretty high price. No, we have the second highest suicide rate, and you have a lot of people that are getting these autoimmune diseases and heart disease and these lifestyle choice kind of diseases at early ages. And so it comes at a high cost. And I think we can work on both of those areas, we can work on teaching people that consequences of those lifestyle choices. And then we can manage projects better where they aren't so crazy. And don't take such a tall end. But you can do both. 

Felipe Engineer  42:44  
Yes, you can use the end. And that's right, yeah, you can do the work and have a good time doing it. Definitely. You can be at work and have a family life outside of work, right.

Brent  43:02  
Yeah, and, you know, I just posted on my LinkedIn, chapter eight, which is the teamwork and trust and how to create high performing teams on every project.

Felipe Engineer  43:13  
So you've got a lot of good stories about folks getting in touch with you and doing some transformations. And you mentioned that you've been in 20 countries at least, do you see today? Are you still surprised at how similar human beings act regardless of where they live?

Brent  43:31  
Totally, it's, um, in fact, I did a session a two hour session on emotional intelligence and relationships in China, Monday morning. And what we're, it's been curious about the cultural differences. And of course, the test is more Western culture. So this one woman said while scored really low and emotional expression, and I said, Well, that's probably a cultural difference, because from Western culture to Eastern culture, you probably do have lower emotional expression, and lower independence and higher social responsibility. So those cultural differences show up in in the test. But what we talked about was, everybody feels the same emotions. Emotions are universal, but the it's the rules around expressing those emotions that are different. And that can go for countries for culture, even for companies, right? Even for offices within companies. There's different unwritten rules about how you express emotion. And some people are an even gender differences. Like you get a guy that's kind of a really strong personality, maybe a little bit on the angry side, that's a real mover or shaker. And then you get a woman exhibiting those exact same, you know, traits, and she's labeled because of that, well, she comes out a little too strong. So, when people ask me about like, I got this woman project manager just coming out a little bit too strong, I'll say, if she was a man, would you ask me that question? Would that be even on the table? No, you'd probably say, Well, I got this great project manager, he kicks but he really can manage. Partners. Yes.

Felipe Engineer  45:21  
Push her to get the work done.

Brent  45:23  
That's right. So we have to be aware that those cultural biases have those, you know, those unwritten rules around emotions and expression and make sure that we're curious about those and not condemning or judging about those and explore those and ask those questions that, you know, if this was a man, instead of a woman, would you be asking this question? And if the answer is no, then why not? Let me Let's explore that. Say, what what biases have we come up with about strong women in this industry? that we need to address? We need to figure out, you know, what's, what's going on there? 

Felipe Engineer  46:01  
That is, it's unique. And, you know, by mere chance, Brent, when I was coming into the industry, right out of the college, like the first handful of jobs that I worked at, my mentors and bosses were women. And it was the I remember going to some of the company functions and looking out into the audience and, and seeing, you know, just a handful of women in total, I said, What are the chances that I keep ending on all these projects, and I just took for granted that women were better represented in the industry. And I just heard a statistic today in 2020, that construction, women are still less than 10% of people in the workforce.

Brent  46:38  
Yeah, here's the more frightening statistic, some astronomical like, I think it's 60% leave within the first five years of being in the industry. Because they, they see no opportunity, they see nobody like them in the C suite. They see people with these unconscious, unconscious biases against them that hold them down. They're also there, there's elements of this comes up every woman conference I've been to. So this isn't me saying this, this is women saying this is that sometimes women don't support other women in this industry. And that can become an issue. Now don't get me wrong. There's some really brilliant women who are totally into mentoring and helping women get move up and, and become as leaders, but there's something wrong. And they're they're undermining that process. Again, that's not me saying that. That's them saying that at these conferences that are women's conferences, that's something that they want to address internally, as well. 

Felipe Engineer  47:43  
Brent, let the comments come to the show. Just bring him? Well, I mean, the audience has been too quiet.

Brent  47:50  
It's the elephant in the room, we have to talk about that. And they do they do at these conferences, the women talk about it in the context of other women. And I think it's a it's a conversation that has to be had. We have to talk about it. Yeah. So yeah, I mean, there's still lots of issues out there. But I'm encouraged and hopeful that the younger people are really embracing the things that need to change and changing them. And, you know, the baby boomers, the there there are some that are champions have those changes to and the ones that aren't that mean, they're going to be leaving retiring. We're going to wish them the best and then usher in the new leadership and get people to really make some substantive changes in this industry and all areas technology, diversity, and the culture has shifted. And we're just feeling the shift.

Felipe Engineer  48:42  
Yeah, I think that's part of it, it's. But again, you can go the other direction, you can either through your wisdom, open up to possibilities, or you can share your world down. So that's a choice. Someone was talking today, they were a younger person younger than myself. And they've had some new people join their team. And they were they were expressing how they've got these traditions. And mind you this is like a young person. So this was just for me, it was amazing to hear a younger person talking about honoring the traditions of their team, like the ethos of their team, the culture of their team, and who are like no disrespect, with these new people coming in with these ideas, of how things that should be they're just fresh out of school. They're like energetic, excited to be, you know, contributing and at work. And they're like asking, How do I deal with all of these new ideas that are like they're trying to throw away what we've built here. And I was thinking about some of the people retiring, saying that, you know, as they're leaving, they want to impart on the people below them. And they're almost like a foot out the door, but to retire like in a year or less, right now. Now they've got that sense of like imparting and here you've got this like fractal story. Here's a younger person saying we have these traditions. But I don't know how to make it evident to the new people why these things that we do are important. I want to show them and the new people are like, I want to show you because you're a dinosaur, right? Someone and the age differences only like five years, we're not radically different in age. 

Brent  50:21  
What that situation, I've always said that we seem to be about a generation behind in the construction industry, a lot of Gen Xers act like baby boomers and a lot of Gen Y act like Gen Xers or even baby boomers, you know what I mean? It's sort of that, oh, that old traditional hard work ethic, all of those kind of mentalities that are really present in the industry. But I think it's just like emotional intelligence, it's all about balance. It's the balance of honoring the traditions, and then embracing the new, the new ways of thinking doing. And I think there's room for both. And I would as an old, you know, baby boomer, I would say, my advice of other baby boomers would be err on the side of embracing the new. Because I think that's where we fall down more than, you know, maintaining the traditions, I think we're really good at that. Yeah, we're less adept at embracing the new things. So I would say, give them the space to do that, and give them the the wherewithal and the mechanisms and everything to at least throw those ideas out on the table. And, you know, the other thing is, I would take a look at my own emotional profile. And if I have the control problem profile, and I tend to micromanage and resist change, then is that coming into play in this situation, you know, am I doing it because I really think that the old traditional things of our team are the best thing ever and can't be changed? Or am I just resisting something different?

Felipe Engineer  52:00  
No, no, it's good. And on the flip side, that, you know, people that do have that control mechanism, and like you said, you're recovering, you know, earlier in your career, so let's pick on you. Yeah, you know, what are the good sides of being controlling?

Brent  52:16  
Oh, man, you know, you're organized, you will get everything correct in terms of plans and specs, and tolerances and all those things. That's an awesome part of that profile. And it's about creating that balance, where you can get those things where you need to get them. But you also are open to a new product or new technology or a new something that may make things easier, and you have to be open to that as well. And then and again, there's room for both. I think we, we think that there's not like, I get this, I asked baby boomers, is there one day, a week or one day a month where your people could work from anywhere? No, they say, Oh, this was before COVID, before COVID COVID? They would say no, they have to be here at seven. And I said, you know, that's just that's a ridiculous argument. That is utterly ridiculous. Because if you're updating, you know, a BIM model, or some kind of technology thing, or you work on change orders, or you're working on a schedule update, you could do that from a beach in Aruba. If they've got good Wi Fi.

Felipe Engineer  53:25  
Yeah, they do. This they do. So I've heard I haven't been there myself. 

Brent  53:29  
But I've heard. So as baby boomers and these older, even doesn't matter age doesn't matter generation, it's the people that are stuck in those ways. It's about opening up to those possibilities, and saying, Let's keep the best of what is. But let's also bring in the best of what could be and maybe even some things that aren't quite cooked yet. You know, bring those in, and let's figure it out together. Yeah.

Felipe Engineer  53:54  
And after COVID, there is the beginning stages of COVID after the price, say like, not an April here in the United States for probably around May. It's like everything I saw on social media was a COVID webinar how to adapt. Like when I saw on the UN I subscribed to primarily construction things I just saw like an outpouring of people adapting and sharing it simultaneously. And I remember a year ago, I couldn't tell you what any given theme was or what people were sharing. I mean, outside of like the people that do BIM, God bless them in their beautiful writings been all BM shared. I mean, it is some gorgeous things that I see shared, you guys know, those of you that operate in that BIM space. My hat's off to you because you make some of the most beautiful posts I've ever seen. But then to see the contrast with this year, just the openness and the transparency with like what's happening. I remember a client came to a group of their contractors, many contractors, like More than a dozen. And they asked the contractors would you share with us what you're doing to pivot with COVID challenges we want to we want to know, not because we don't think you can handle your projects, but because we are struggling to pivot. And we want to we think we can learn from each other. And that created just a magical dialogue among, you know, more than 15 different companies, and they all came out of it better. Right?

Brent  55:26  
Yeah, it's important that I mean, this forced disruption, if you're not innovating right now, you, you got to, I mean, things are different. And they will continue to be different. And I've done probably half a dozen webinars on pivoting and innovation and during this time, and how to really look at things differently. One of the exercises I highly recommend is scrap your vision statement, just throw it out the window. And most vision statements are pretty crappy anyway, they're, you know, we, we want to be the preferred provider of construction services blob, right now, scrap it, and then have a contest and you can do this online, or you can do it in you know, when we get back to meeting but creative a vision statement, that's exactly 32 words. So then you can do, you may have to put in some filler words, but you do exactly 32 words. And then you have a second round, you do the winner of that round. And the second round, you do 16 words. And then you do round three is eight words. And then round four is four words, and then two words, and then one word, see what that one word ends up being and see, which is the sweet spot of really something innovative. That is going to be good for decades. Because you know, blockbuster had a plan. And Netflix had a vision. Yeah. Right. And the same thing for like Nintendo and it did you Nintendo was a card company established in the 1800s.

Felipe Engineer  57:05  
No, I had no idea.

Brent  57:07  
They were playing card company. And their vision was to create people through play. Well, they're the biggest gaming company on the planet, right now. So you got to have that far reaching vision that's compelling. That's exciting. That's a challenging, that's really embraces everything that we want to be in this future for this industry. And most vision statements don't do that. So we encourage them to start there and get this new vision, and then start embracing things that are different and saying, you know, we didn't think this could work working remotely. And guess what? It does work, it can work, it can work very well, very well. Yeah. So it's about embracing the best of that. And then minimizing the downsides of that. And what I found from teaching up to I'm teaching a lot of courses and webinars and everything online now is very little, as long as the only thing is lost is that human to human energetic connection. That's the only thing that's missing. But in fact, in some ways, the online stuff can be better than the in person stuff. Because it's just one example introverts, introverts that are in a room, they're gonna sit there and be as quiet as they can be, and not interact very much, where if you got them chatting in and doing some exercises that they can do sort of anonymously, you're all over it. So you're getting better participation from those.

Felipe Engineer  58:43  
Much better. Yeah, I remember in the early days of the, of the shift, we had some things scheduled to go in person, and we couldn't, because the travel restrictions, and we had to go virtual, and the team had said, you know, before always trying to be cost conscious and think, can I save some time and money not traveling, and I always put the offer out there. And nobody would ever take it. They always wanted in person had to be inverse, it can't work, right. And now it's the virtual is way better. And there's no last time to travel. And the collaboration is much deeper. The conversations are much deeper. It's just a testament that the human, the human animal is the most adaptive creature on planet Earth.

Brent  59:30  
And maybe we won't ever get that human to human energetic connection down from a technology solution before the technologies come such a long way in such a short period of time. And the features that are available that weren't available, even a year ago are astounding. Yeah. So yeah. And that technology will continue to evolve and get better and better and better. And just like I remember doing webinars five years ago, and that None of the videos played and they were choppy and crappy. And I mean, I mean, yep. And now I can do, I'm doing a virtual virtual session tomorrow with 50 women in the industry. We're gonna talk about COVID, and innovation and diversity and all these things. And I'm putting them in, I'm doing interactive whiteboards, and I'm doing chat, like, chat stuff, where everybody can weigh in, I'm doing breakout rooms where they can have some deep discussions and some smaller groups. And, and, I mean, to me, that's even can be better in some ways than them all meeting in a room, you know. So yeah, you just got to use the technology and incorporate it. And the other thing I'm doing a lot of is taking a lot of classes on how to deliver online stuff and a more interactive, you know, better way and get people to really embrace that, because, quite frankly, I've sat in a lot of these webinars and zoom meetings, and they're pretty, a lot of them are really horrible, and boring. 

Felipe Engineer  1:01:10  
And it's a long lecture. It is, we did a I remember when we had this team doing research is the international team. Shout out to the construction industry Institute for volunteering me to to lead that team. One of the things that happened, we had to had these meetings that we had said, you know, we start planning this, it's a two year ordeal, or a two year labor of love, however you want to look at it depends on who you are in on the team, where you're doing research and construction. And we found that early, we had to be in person. And people said that the in person work is where it's amazing. And then when, when COVID hit us is a month before the next in person meeting, we had a shift to online. We went online cameras on to two days, 16 hours. So one eight hour day online, and then second aid our downline. And people said, Wow, I wanted to rethink this online thing that was actually pretty good. Like we finally because we took all the things from the in person I were doing plus deltas at the person. And I just looked at those and I said what did people what were we not fixing? That we're just really we intentionally fixed the stuff that people complained about, like not having a break, to do some email. I mean, teams had gotten into arguments about you're spending too much time like checking your email, you're not paying attention. And then just giving people a little bit of space to do that. answer those critical things, or my phone rang four times in a row. Should I take it? Yeah, you should step out and take the right. rake in most cases and and people adapted, Brent. I'm amazed the adaptation that people do.

Brent  1:02:56  
Yeah. Well, maybe with a little creativity and a little thought behind it. Your online stuff can be just as engaging as as any in person thing. In fact, sometimes even more with the technology for use it right. In fact, I'm trying to get the word virtual out of my lexicon. Because virtual rich Siler and I had this discussion, he says, virtual a sent me a definition of virtual, which is not real, you know, a facsimile of reality or something like that. So I use the term online instead of virtual all the time. Because it infers that, in fact, I call it live online learning, not a virtual classroom, a webinar webinar tends to be somebody talking for an hour, I will do webinars, I do interactive, experiential stuff that's going to really be engaging and fun. And you'll learn a lot and apply it in real time during the session.

Felipe Engineer  1:03:59  
That's awesome. We're birds of a feather on that way. Yeah. Totally. Yeah. It's got to be interactive. You got to get your hands dirty, have those experiences. The only I've been accused of being a theoretician, Brent, if you can believe that. And that's the only theory that I subscribe to, is empirical theory, which says that all experiences are gained by direct senses. Yeah. human sense making direct. Like that's it. That's called being live. That's right. Guilty. Yeah, yeah. Oh, this has been great having you come on and share. Is there anything else that you feel compelling to share? Brent?

Brent  1:04:46  
Well, I would say take care of each other and check on each other often, the suicide rates are actually increasing across the board all demographics, and so it's bound to be increasing in the construction. Well, so don't just assume people are okay, check out on them often. And really try to get some good deep discussions on how they're doing. And, and, and don't forget the human side of this, we're isolated physically, but we don't have to be isolated, you know, emotionally or there's all kinds of ways you can connect with people, you don't have to be there to shake their hand or pat him on the back. But check in often, because some people are really struggling during this, people with anxiety and depression. And you know, that isolation is really taking a toll on them. So make sure you let them know you're there. Let them know you're, you're there to help them. And even to give them some resources. There are some great resources, prevent construction, suicide, calm, there's some risk assessments you can take and collateral material, I invite you to have those discussions with your people as well, especially during this time because it's hard.

Felipe Engineer  1:05:59  
Now, we'll put a link to that in the show notes. And people can check that out and use that. I've definitely gotten the calls from from some friends in the industry that have been struggling. And those have been the we're just going to talk as long as you need to. Yeah, when you get if you if you're out there and you get that call. Think about what else would you do? If you were in that position, you made the call to somebody else, you'd want somebody on the other end to just listen. Yeah, well, thanks, man. Thanks for having me. This has been fun. Yeah. Likewise, you should be like a recurring guest. So it's gonna, it's gonna put it out there now, like this was so easy to talk to you.

Brent  1:06:40  
This is well, thank you. Same here. You're You're a good host. And I'm glad we touched upon some topics that or maybe people are uncomfortable with, I think we need to challenge each other. There is time we talked about that all the time with lean is no respect for each other doesn't mean you you just shut up and be nice. It's challenging each other. So I hope there's some things that I said that challenge folks know that I'm here to help love the industry, and I love the people in it. And if there's anything I can do to help you as an individual or your company. Just call me. I've got lots of resources and like you said, most of them are free. So yeah, check it out. 

Felipe Engineer  1:07:22  
Yeah, definitely value add Brent Darnell, thank you so much and have a great rest of your week. enjoy talking to the world and helping the industry get healthier. We appreciate it. Take care. Bye bye.

Very special thanks to my guest. I'm Felipe Engineer Manriquez. The EBFC show is created by Felipe and produced by passion to build easier and better. Thanks for listening. Stay safe, everybody. Let's go build!