In today’s podcast, we’re joined by Jeffrey Klubeck, Founder and CEO of Get a Klu and the author of The Integrity Game where he discusses influence and persuasion.
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Allison: Welcome back to the Deliberate Leaders podcast. I am your host and executive coach, Allison Dunn. I am very excited to introduce our guest today. We have with us Jeffrey Klubeck. He is the Founder and CEO of Get a Klu. He is also the author of the almost-out book, The Integrity Game. He is a master of transformative, strategic problem-solving as well as honest, powerful accountability. He is a firm believer in the formula: Motivation + Accountability = Results.
In today’s podcast, we are going to be diving into influence and persuasion, how to ensure you are heard in a crazy, noisy world. Jeffrey, thank you so much for joining us here today.
Jeffrey: Well, thank you, Allison. It’s a treat.
Allison: Excellent. I love to kick these off with a deliberate conversation. What would be your number one leadership tip for our listeners?
Jeffrey: Look within. I mean, so many come to mind, but I would just start with look within. It’s almost like dating. People would say who’s my dream person. Who’s my soulmate? It’s like, okay, once you figured out what you want, then do you deserve that? Are you a person that deserves the ideal person? Are you a leader that deserves to be followed? So look within and constantly try to improve yourself, and then very close to that is permission, permission to lead. Try to get permission. Everything’s easier if you have permission.
Allison: For sure. Okay. Thank you for those. I am super curious. Can you just share a little bit about your background with us?
Jeffrey: First and foremost, married, three kids, two dogs, and people say, what do you do for a living? I say, I wake up. I figure out how I’m going to deserve my wife and kids, so they get me going. I’m a communication guy, a soft-skilled guy. I have a Masters in communication. I’m a retired adjunct professor of communication, so I taught all of those modules – nonverbal, persuasion, listening, audience analysis, et cetera. I had a stint early in my career as a recruiter, a head hunter. I was on both sides of the desk, internal and external, in staffing and dabbled in some real estate. Did some real estate investing. I started Get a Klu 16, 17 years ago, so I’ve been doing coaching, consulting, training, and it’s going really well. And I’ve added author to the list of titles and it’s fun. I’m having a good time.
Allison: Okay, fantastic. Thank you. The Integrity Game is the name of your new book, so why is integrity such a huge part of our business world?
Jeffrey: Well, there’s a lot of reasons why. The first is it’s easy to see the problems. Everybody can see where the problems are and it’s easy to then say, well, it’s a communication problem. It’s a communication problem. Well, communication is comm-uni-cate, to make one with. It’s integration. Integrity is communication. It’s the coming together of one thing with another. And most people usually use the word integrity when they’re accusing somebody else of not having it. What I want to do is make it fun and easy to look within and encourage people that it’s okay to strengthen and work on our own integrity, and that should get us a lot further where we want to go in life, in business and career.
Allison: So your book is about to come out and we’re recording this a few days before. It’s coming out in two days so by the time this is actually posted, it’s out and it’ll be available. The Integrity Game, what compelled you to write it?
Jeffrey: I was asked to do a keynote back in 2020 during COVID. It was going to be a virtual keynote. I’ll never forget I opened it saying, I’ve done keynotes in hotels plenty of times, but this is the first one I’ve ever done in my hotel room, where you record it and they play it for their audience on the day. But when I gave them a list of topics, time management or motivation, I put integrity in there. I always had a couple things to say about integrity, but they chose integrity and now I had to develop the keynote. And what came of it was a 10 point model of integrity that struck me as really being like a vertebrae for personal professional growth. It could be a comprehensive model for personal and professional growth.
Most people, when you ask what is integrity, you’ll get these two answers. It’s do what you say you’re going to do. Be your word, or do the same thing when nobody’s watching as you would when somebody’s watching. Do the right thing when nobody’s watching. So those are the two answers you normally get. But I came up with 8 other things that we want integrated into the equation, because if I said I was going to drink 18 beers before today’s interview, and then I drank 18 beers before today’s interview, would I be able to claim integrity? And we all know the answer is no, because yes, I did what I said I was going to do, but I wouldn’t be achieving my potential or I wouldn’t be serving others, et cetera. So there’s other things we want to integrate, and it’s a trick question – do you have integrity? Everybody will raise their hand.
Well, when I break down the model, I said, don’t shoot the messenger because 45 minutes from now, I’m going to ask again. And so I point out in a fun way, dynamic way that we all have integrity, but we all need more. So it’s a trick question. It’s not whether you have some or not. We all have some, but we all need more, but we all judge ourselves by intent. We all think we’re good people and we are. But if held accountable, we would see where we’re out of integrity and where we can improve that. So I’m trying to make a dent in what I think is a big challenge in the world. Everybody can point to where others are out of integrity, but how many of us are looking within and working on our own? I want to knock on that door and try to up level the world’s integrity.
Allison: Yes. Integrity is in my coaching, a word that is often hard to point to as to exactly how it looks. How do you show up with integrity? What does integrity in behavior look like?
Jeffrey: It’s a gray area, yeah.
Allison: And so when we talk about values, you often see integrity on someone’s wall and you go, but what does that actually look like? You said you had a 10 point element of it. Would you share a few of those elements so that we could have an insight into that?
Jeffrey: Yes, absolutely. I’m happy to share all of that. I want to be brief because I can get going on this, but as a preview it’s 10 points, so it starts at the top. Imagine. Visualize this. Visualize lacing up sneakers where you put the lace in the hole and you go. What are the laces doing? They’re integrating. They’re bringing the left side of the shoe together with the right side of the shoe so the shoe could do what it’s made to do. What it’s supposed to do. Reach its potential. If the laces are loose, the shoe falls off. You step on a rock. You’re bleeding. Now you’re not getting to where you wanted to go. You’re delayed by a little bit. Anything out of integrity could render everything else out of integrity.
But as far as the 10 points are concerned, that’s why I break it down in the keynote. I have a picture of a shoe, the 10 holes. We want to cinch these things closer together, and it starts at the top with purpose, purpose and meaning. Does everybody have an answer to the question – what do you believe is the meaning of life, or further, what do you believe is the meaning of your life? Well, if you don’t have answers to those two questions, now you might be like the garden hose just spraying water everywhere, but it’s not… You follow? Everything else you’re doing might be out of integrity if it’s not tethered to a true north without meeting and purpose. It’s okay if your meeting and purpose and life changes from week to week, day to day, but if you don’t have an answer for the meaning of life, chances are greater that you might waste it. So purpose and meaning. What’s the purpose of this interview? What’s the purpose of the meeting? What’s the purpose of the company? What’s the purpose of the event? What’s the purpose of the speech? It’s a fundamental question. I don’t know if I’m coming up with anything new here, other than the way I integrate the model.
But then gifts. The next point is gifts or competitive advantages. There are man made gifts, God given, manmade, self-generated. I think I was a gifted communicator. I went ahead and integrated that with a master’s degree in communication. I think I’m better off now, but how many people are suffocating their gifts or hiding from their gifts or running from the responsibility it would take to cultivate, optimize and share their gifts? These are the same people that raise their hand when you ask if they have integrity.
Anyways, so purpose, gifts, then potential, mission/vision. Vision – what’s the farthest out that you see? What do you see? Mission – what’s the greatest accomplishment towards that vision? And then objectives – what do we need to do this year to get towards the mission and towards the vision? And then closely related – but it gets its own peg because it’s so important – the fourth peg is goals. There’s a lot of talk about smart goal setting. I changed the model. I added an A, changed the R. Goals are quarterly milestones towards those objectives, the mission and the vision.
And then the next point is strategies, tactics, and resources. Once you set a goal, the brain goes, well, how do I achieve that? And there’s strategies, tactics, and resources everywhere. It’s one thing to say, go there. It’s another thing to say, go there. Here’s a map, instructions and a canteen full of water. Now I’m ready to go. When my wife says Jeff, make dinner for the kids, but then she says the cooking instructions and the ingredients are on the counter, then I’ll just go. So sometimes to motivate somebody, all you need to do is give them strategies, tactics, and resources. But other times you need to get them out of their own way. That’s a different interview.
But then of all the choices we have on strategy, what do we commit to? So that’s the next peg. Word and commitment. And then what do we actually do? Behavior. I’ll ask an audience. How many things do we do in a day? 100. How many of those are things we said we would do? 15. Of the 15 we had said we would do, how many of them are strategic? Of the 15 we’d said we do, how many do we actually do? How many of you have integrity? But I earn their trust in the keynote up to that point, but that’s heavy.
To finish the model, it’s word and behavior. What do you actually do then? Of course you do anything, you’re going to learn. Learning and growth and then accomplishments and then service. What do we accomplish and who do we serve? So those are the 10 points on the model, and I kind of bury those or develop those through the parable. Just a simple story about a baseball team and a season ticket holder and a hot dog vendor
Allison: And a hot dog vendor.
Jeffrey: Well, the season ticket holder. He’s there to see his son play baseball, but he observes the hotdog vendor has kind of a poor attitude. Hey, you don’t want us to go into extra innings. You cheering for us to lose? The hot dog vendor says hey, I got my buddies to hang out with. That seems a little out of integrity, the guy says, and off they go – with some plot twists.
Allison: Yeah. So parable written in the story form. Very, very fun.
Jeffrey: Yeah. It’s a Trojan horse. Like when I’m speaking, I try to use humor and metaphor to get the …you know, I think I’m taking on a big subject is questioning the world’s integrity and challenging the world to raise their integrity looking within. So why don’t I introduce it in game form and a soft story, rather than some stuffy academic chart based text?
Allison: Jeffrey, what is the best advice that you could give leaders today regarding integrity?
Jeffrey: Well, to integrate three things like you said in the intro. Well, first of all, motivation plus accountability equals results, so leaders need to understand what motivates people. I’m a lead with love kind of guy. I’m not a lead with force, coercion, manipulation, threat, anger. I’m not. Those can motivate somebody, but that’s not my choice. My choice is to get people – the thing is engagement. That’s a buzzword, isn’t it? Employee engagement. So how do you get followers? How do you get people engaged? I think categorically of all the ways that you do it, one, you have to take the time, really take the time to get to know your people. Really, really, really know them and then help them figure out what they want, and then integrate that with what you and the company wants.
So the integration of engagement, motivation, and accountability, but the engagement piece is if I take the time to really find out who you are, you might get to know yourself better in that process. Isn’t that fun? And if I take the time to really get clear on what you really, really, really, really, really want, you might get more clear on what you really, really want than you were before. Now I’ve got engagement. Now it’s easier to do the rest, to motivate you and hold you accountable because I’ve got permission. I’ve got buy-in; I’ve got engagement. You’re excited, you’re clear, you’re focused. So there’s a lot of stuffy, academic, theoretical stuff when it comes to leadership, but really just take the time to get to know your people. Help them get to know themselves better. Find out what they want and then see the integration between what they want, what you and the organization, the team wants.
Allison: I feel like this may be too general of a question, but is there a favorite technique that you use in order for leaders to really get to know their people?
Jeffrey: Yeah. Questions like appreciative inquiry, you know, that’s what you’d say question, you know, there’s nothing more powerful than a question. Just ask Socrates. But the brain cannot hear a question without trying to answer it. So it’s attention gaining, first of all. Second of all it’s guidance, and if you can get really good at the art of asking questions, you will guide people to the answers without telling them the answers. Most people, most things when it feels pressed upon, it’ll press back. So asking questions is an invitation where statements could be a repellant. So if I had only one tool in the world to get to know people, it’d be questions.
Allison: Good questions. Okay.
Jeffrey: Yeah. Really good questions. I’ll give you an example. Are you ready, Allison?
Allison: I’m ready.
Jeffrey: What might you normally share when you decide you’re going to let somebody get to know you?
Allison: I might share personal things about my life that they would be able to see into my soul without, but if they don’t ask that question.
Jeffrey: Well, if I ask that question, what would you normally share when you decide you’re going to let somebody get to know you. Now, all I need to do is ask follow-up questions to whatever. Such as? Oh, for example, tell me more about that. Oh, I can relate to that because …and so if I have really good questions and then follow one question could set up the next questions, but anyway, you understand what I’m getting at. Good questions really, really, really make the difference. Yeah. I love the part that they’re an invitation rather than a repel. They can repel, but mostly they invite.
Allison: And sometimes they do
Jeffrey: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Rhetorical questions, passive-aggressive questions. There’s the dark side of communication, but I use words like invite, share, what would, not what do. You have to be very careful about the language. What do you normally share sounds different than what might you normally share.
Jeffrey: So care with our language and mastery with our questions is going to help us get to know people better.
Allison: So you were talking about motivation plus accountability equals results. Can you help talk through what’s the importance of internal accountability when you’re looking at the integrity model?
Jeffrey: Internal accountability, it’s a trick question. What’s that? You really want accountability? Get an external accountability source, cause I’ve got a quote in the book. Left to our own devices, we will more often excuse than confront ourselves. So if you want to do internal accountability, fine. I just suggest you learn what it really is first. Learn how to deliver accountability. Lot of times. Oh no, accountability. Where’s the accountability? You could hear a lot of people saying that on a day to day basis, but if you stopped and said, all right, if you were going to teach somebody accountability, what would you teach them? How do you know what’s accountability versus effective accountability? How do you confront somebody, but still keep them engaged? What are the tools of accountability? What are the techniques? What are the dialogues of accountability? What are the pitfalls when endeavoring to hold somebody accountable? Most people don’t have answers to those questions, but I teach it. And so I would say, if you want to hold yourself accountable, cool. Learn it! Commit to learning accountability. Get yourself in a situation where you’ve learned how to hold somebody else accountable because you can’t get to that place without going through accountability internally.
Allison: One of the conversations that I sometimes often have because I’m a coach as well, and people arrive in my world because they don’t have anyone really holding them accountable, and they need that because they maybe lack it as an internal process or they let themselves off the hook.
Jeffrey: Yes. Or they’re at the top of the organization and they have to save face.
Allison: They aren’t accountable to anyone
Jeffrey: Technically, they are not. And the good leader will will themselves into that situation. Absolutely. Continue.
Allison: So my question is what is the difference between accountability and responsibility in your world?
Jeffrey: Okay. Very cool. Let’s break it down. Accountability is the willingness to be counted.
Jeffrey: Okay. Which can occur whether you’re responsible or not. They’re not necessary in sufficient conditions for one another, that’s for sure. The responsibility is… A personal professional growth definition is the ability to respond. I often say nothing is our fault, because everything’s multi-determined, but everything is our responsibility. So when you come to accountability and responsibility, they’re so closely related. One of the things we teach when we’re training coaches or training leaders on accountability is the value of taking 100% responsibility for everything that happens in your life, and most people resist that upfront. But it wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t my fault. And I say, you’re right. It wasn’t your fault, but it’s your responsibility. Who’s the only person we are guaranteed to spend the rest of our lives with? Us! So, the more personal self responsibility, and it’s tricky because people could confuse that. Well, that’s not my problem. That’s not my job. That’s not my… Yes, it is. You are able to make an impact on something, but you won’t know what your job is until you play the integrity game. What’s my purpose? You answer those questions, now every decision is integrated with your answers to the 10 questions that’s on the integrity game.
Responsibility – we’re all able to respond. Most of us avoid responsibility rather than embrace responsibility. Most people want to pass the buck, CYA, manure rolling downhill, you name it. And it’s the same reason, the same thing that has us flinching. If we hear a buzz by our ear, even if it’s a fly, it is non-threatening. We’re hardwired to protect ourselves from a bee, and so same thing emotionally. People are hardwired to protect their egos from being wrong, so ego defense gets in the way of responsibility, of more responsibility. I’m responsible for myself whether I’m willing to be counted or not. Does that make sense?
Allison: Yes. And I appreciate that that’s the distinction. So good. Your new book is called The Integrity Game. Are you going to make it into an actual game?
Jeffrey: Yeah, I have a plan to do that. I have a game in mind. I have the concept for it. Where is it? I sketched it out in one of my journals. Anyway, yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. It’s going to be down the road. There’s other things that I need to do first, but ultimately, I want to create training materials, physical materials, activities, etcetera, that are integrity game branded. And because I’m using baseball as the metaphor, it lends itself wonderfully to so many different gimmicks, if you will.
Allison: Fantastic. Well, I can’t wait to see the book come out. Congratulations on getting this passion project onto shelves.
Jeffrey: Thank you.
Allison: You’re welcome. What would be the best way for folks to connect or follow you?
Jeffrey: I’m easy to find if you just Google Jeff Klubeck. I’m very easy to find through Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn. If anybody wants to go to theintegritygame.com, I don’t know what the website’s going to look like in a couple days after the book launch, but right now people can get a free PDF of the book if they wanted to, but that’ll change after the launch. getaklu.net. I’m very easy to follow.
Allison: Fantastic. Jeffrey, thank you so much. Congratulations on your book and I wish you the most success.
Jeffrey: Thank you so much, Allison. It’s been a treat.