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Cliff Duvernois (00:10):
Hello everyone and welcome to the call of leadership podcast. Here. We’re going to listen to powerful stories and advice from those in our Michigan community who answered the call of leadership. I am your host Cliff Duvernois. And my guest today, he is a success and business coach. He’s a motivational speaker. He’s a webinar professional and he has his own podcast, his mission to help people around the world attain more success amid great challenges, which is where we find ourselves right now. So he has given talks at the United way. He’s talked to Arby’s, he’s presented at the national restaurant association,
Cliff Duvernois (00:47):
Many other companies and other great organizations. He’s the author of not one but two bucks, inspired how our differences are changing the workplace and his latest book leadership one golden nugget at a time. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the show the host of the draws cast podcast, Jeff Drozdowski. Jeff how are you?.
Jeff Drozdowski (01:09):
Good. You you nailed that last name. Perfect. Yeah, and I definitely appreciate that. It’s with Duvernois as your last name and Drozdowski as mine. I think that our names have been mispronounced a few times in our life.
Cliff Duvernois (01:26):
I think I’ve, I’ve heard just about every way that you could butcher my last name. Somebody would really have to be creative to surprise me anymore.
Jeff Drozdowski (01:36):
Cliff Duvernois (01:37):
If you would. Why don’t you share with us, you know, where you’re from? Where did you grow up?
Jeff Drozdowski (01:41):
Yes. I grew up in a Northern suburb of Detroit, a Royal Oak, Michigan of course now really since the 1990s until current. It is a very trendy city that a lot of people go to for bars and restaurants and, and really to live now too. But I tell people when I was growing up in Royal Oak, especially in downtown, there was the police station, there was a theater, movie theater, there was a car dealership and a library and then there was tumbleweeds because there really was nothing else. And downtown Royal Oak, but grew up there, great place to grow up, very sports oriented, a city which fit me well since I was very sports oriented growing up. And that’s kind of, you know, the beginning of it all was right there.
Cliff Duvernois (02:32):
After you graduated high school, you decided to pursue public communications at central Michigan. Why did you, why did you go into public communications?
Jeff Drozdowski (02:42):
So I was fortunate enough in my sports activity, I was a pretty good baseball player, was highly recruited to go to college and really had an opportunity while at least there was the thought, I had an opportunity to play professional baseball as well. So be honest with you. The idea of going into communications was really with the idea that after college when I was playing professional baseball, I, you know, during those college times I could learn how to interview, I could learn how to be interviewed, I could be a, you know, after my baseball career I could be a sports broadcaster. And that was kind of the plan going into it. Little did I know that really since baseball didn’t work out, I still would use my communication skills, but it took a little bit later in life, but it finally kicked in.
Cliff Duvernois (03:37):
And now what you were talking before in about, you know, going into professional baseball and what was it that kinda steered you down this other path?
Jeff Drozdowski (03:48):
Baseball didn’t work out and just because of injuries more than anything else. Central Michigan. Yeah, central Michigan was very good at baseball, especially during the time that I was there. We won our Mid-American conference championship three out of the four years I was there and I had a lot of teammates that went on to play minor league baseball, one to play professional baseball. And after college I just kind of knocked around at some jobs and got into the restaurant industry after trying a couple of different things and spent 30 years of my life in the in the restaurant industry and really my career just kind of gravitated to, to where I’m at now. For many years. I was a restaurant manager, so I learned a lot about leadership and I learned a lot about how to deal with people during those times of being a manager of people but also dealing with the customer end as well.
Jeff Drozdowski (04:50):
Right. So as time went on and my career advanced and I got into more corporate environment, people really started to recognize that I may have this talent for training and development of people. And from there really that’s kind of the foundation of where I took off from there because I spent a lot of time in front of classes. I spent a lot of time talking to trainers from different industries as well as other people in the restaurant industry, just about the restaurant industry in general, built that foundation to be able to really feel comfortable about speaking in public. And that was really the foundation. And from there it kind of took off into this leadership realm. Cause at the end of the day what I realized was is that without good leadership, everything else within an organization, it was really destined for failure. Yeah. And the company that I worked for primarily was a franchise type of company. I would tell people, if you a good owner, a good manager of people, your business will succeed. And if you’re not, your business says destined for failure. And I can’t tell you how many times I would tell people yet they would still fail because they were not good leaders. And maybe it’s because they weren’t equipped to be a good leader, but their philosophies were just destined for failure.
Cliff Duvernois (06:16):
Right. I think people have this, this notion, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I think people really have this notion that just a leader is just somebody that just tells people what to do and they’re supposed to do it.
Jeff Drozdowski (06:27):
No, no question. One of the biggest mistakes young leaders make is they think that the title is where the respect comes from, but the title is just the beginning and it really means nothing unless you gain the respect of the people that work for you.
Cliff Duvernois (06:42):
You bring up a good point because I’ve talked to other restaurant tours for this podcast. The restaurant business is tough. I worked in the restaurant business. So you know, I was, I started off as a bus boy, became a host, became a server and I go, I would never do that again. But there are some people out there that absolutely love it. And for you, I mean you said you worked there for 30 years. What was it that, what was it that that kind of like motivated you to get into the restaurant business in the first place?
Jeff Drozdowski (07:15):
Really it was kind of an innocent reason. I had a good friend of mine that had worked for this company and just for transparency sake, they still don’t really want me to mention the name of the company. That’s why I’m not. But I got into this company based on the fact that I would be getting into a position where I would be doing a lot of traveling as a franchise consultant. I was 24, 25 years old, young guy, single, unlike, Hey, I get to see the country and get paid for it. This is great, you know, so I jumped at the opportunity and, and did that for about a couple of years, but then I met my wife, we decided to settle down and start our family. So the next kind of generation or the next evolvement of, of my restaurant career was getting back to local here in the Michigan area and running a restaurant for for this particular company. And from there it was a lot of trial and error because like we talked about my background, especially my degree in college as communications. It wasn’t restaurant management or it wasn’t hotel management, it was communications. So the road to me being a successful leader really is strewn with a lot of failure, a lot of success. But I really learned the hard way learning all about it in the restaurants. And that’s with your employees as well as with the customers.
Cliff Duvernois (08:44):
You see, you were talking before, you said that you had worked in the restaurant business for for 30 years. Yes. And at that point I think most would say, you know what, I got my 30 years in, I’m going to punch out, work on my back swing, maybe move down to Florida or spend the winter months, become a snowbird. Instead you decided to found draws, talks.com. What, what inspired you to, to go back out there again? What to help people help develop leaders.
Jeff Drozdowski (09:15):
All that experience that I had in the restaurant business I feel was just kind of a stepping stone for the next thing in my life. And I certainly am not the type of person that is ready to work on the backswing. I still have a lot of years left to make an impact on people, whether that would be as a, you know, a motivational speaker or speaker on leadership, but it really is just the next level. The next thing that I’ve built this foundation of a career on and I started getting the bug about speaking and offering by attending conferences in particular restaurant trainer conferences and watching the people up on stage speak and the effect that they had on the audience and realizing that I had a gift, that I had some talent to actually be able to do that myself.
Jeff Drozdowski (10:17):
And I started kind of, that really was my jumping off point where I started talking at a trainer’s conferences. Positive feedback is always a good thing when you’re in the public eye. Feedback is huge, right? So, and I, and I got feedback not only from fellow trainers, but some of the other professional speakers that had watched me speak and said, you know, you’ve got the ability to do this. So I jumped into it and honestly, in order to really get taking off in this, it took about an intense year of learning. And I started attending a national speaker association meetings, started picking the brains of a lot of people about how to create this business of offering and speaking. And it took a good year of doing that as well as getting the podcast off the ground and doing the YouTube videos before I really felt like that I had a, a good place to, to advance from and had my feet underneath me.
Cliff Duvernois (11:20):
You know, it’s interesting you talk about that cause you talk about creating a podcast, you talk about creating YouTube videos. What and I, and I’ve heard other people say that this is a good idea. If you’re going to launch a business, you have to think of yourself as a media company first. What was it that inspired you to go out and start just creating all this content? Like I said, the podcasts, the videos.
Jeff Drozdowski (11:42):
Well you did mention and you know, there’s no denying it that this is kind of a second career for me. So I was starting a little bit later in life and what I needed more than anything to break into the speaking business was exposure. And one of the biggest bits of advice that I got from some other speakers was you got to create some exposure for yourself. You’ve got to get out in the public eye. So you can do that by podcasting. You can do that by making a video. Creating content really is, is the big buzz word. And I, and I think you know that too, the whole ideas is creating content. So I threw everything up against the wall so to speak. And I do the video blogs and I do the podcasting and of course I do the speaking and, and then the next item that kind of goes with that is, is writing the books and writing from really what moves you. The last couple of years has really been about exposure more than anything else. And frankly I’m not afraid to be in front of the camera. And I think that I’m giving off the vibe here that I’m not afraid to talk out a podcast that I’m, you know, that this is, it’s, it’s going pretty well. It’s working pretty well.
Cliff Duvernois (13:05):
Nice. Yeah. Cause I know that, that you’ve, you’ve gathered you’ve gathered an audience on those different platforms and producing content and I’m really glad that’s working for you. I would like to go back to something that you said earlier when you were talking about leadership and you know, leadership really is something that I believe some people have just this innate ability for leadership and for other people you’ve got to learn. But I think for anybody on the planet, there’s always more to be learned. You talked about how you, you know, you learned a lot from some of your failures as a leader. Is there one particular instance where you had a setback as a leader that taught you a very powerful lesson and yes, you can change the names to protect the innocent.
Jeff Drozdowski (13:47):
I fell into the same trap as a restaurant manager that many young managers do. And that’s thinking that the title really is where the respect comes from. And all you have to do is open the doors, hire people, and watch others, you know, make the food and deal with the customers and whatnot. And that is not the case, especially in a customer driven business. One of the biggest lessons that I learned and I actually my leadership keynote has to do with this story and in my keynote is called wash your damn dishes and lessons learned, other lessons learned on the power of servant leadership. And the biggest lesson that I learned was all, well let me backtrack a little bit. My biggest failure early on was having a lot of turnover. I was losing people left and right. Turnover is huge in the restaurant business or holding onto people is huge.
Jeff Drozdowski (14:48):
So I had to sit back and go, I’m losing as fast as I’m hiring them. Eventually I have to stop looking at me or excuse me, I have to stop looking in them and start looking at me. So what I started to do was started to be an example for my employees. I started treating my employees differently. I started serving their needs to a certain level where, you know, I took into consideration their personal schedules more than I had done in the past. Rather than just saying, these are the hours I’m giving you, this is what your work. And we kind of worked on schedules. I started taking the turns or I started taking my terms on the dirty jobs of a restaurant and that was the biggest thing. And that included sweeping and mopping and floors, washing of dishes. And once I started to do that, people started responding to me very, very differently because they thought, you know what draws as willing to do exactly the same things that he’s asking us to do. So let’s get behind him. And from there on my success rate as a restaurant manager changed and went from being mediocre to a little below average to being an excellent manager.
Speaker 5 (16:07):
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Cliff Duvernois (17:09):
That’s awesome because I’m, I’m, I’m really a big believer in the fact that, you know, two things is that, you know, culture flows downhill. And the second thing is, is you really do have to lead by example. So by stepping up and showing that you’re not afraid to do those little chores, those little activities, taking out the trash, sweeping the floor, mopping the bathrooms, whatever’s involved with that really does set the tone for your business.
Jeff Drozdowski (17:34):
Absolutely. And people respect you way more for it. When, when you do it like that, rather than standing, you know, standing from above and, and making people feel like that you’re you’re too worthy to be able to do those. So, and you know what a cliff that is a idea that is pervasive even in some places that you wouldn’t expect. And it may not be that officers in the Marines actually do those things, but they set their soldiers up to succeed based on that principle of all of them being in together and, and succeeding together rather than being, there’s the officers and then there’s the soldiers. So the Marines is one of the big, big influences as far as their ideas and attitude that I’ve gotten over time as well. If the Marines can do it, then the rest of us can do it.
Cliff Duvernois (18:36):
You know, it’s interesting you say that because one of my favorite authors, and I love his pad by his podcast, is Jocko Willink. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him or not. Yeah, he is. I got his leadership manual probably about, I want to say like six weeks ago or eight weeks ago, and I devoured it in like three or maybe four days. I thought that was absolutely invaluable. And one of the things that he shared in there, what you keyed on earlier was, you know, he had a commanding officer that came in there. They basically had a mutiny against him because he was so horrible. The next leader that they got in there, they were shell shocked that he would actually take the trash out to the trash bins. They’d never, they’d never seen a commanding officer do that before. And it fired them up. It motivated them to start taking pride in where they worked and how they lived and everything else. So, you know, you’re right there. I think there’s a lot of lessons that can be drawn from leadership, from the military.
Jeff Drozdowski (19:32):
No question. One of the first podcasts, one of the first interviews I did was a, with a retired Colonel from the United States Marine. And yeah excuse me, Colonel Tom Domin and he’s a, he’s a local guy as well. He’s a Michigan guy actually grew up with them and went to school with them, but we got back together after many years and he said to me, you know, the biggest, one of the biggest things in the Marines is soldiers eat first, then we have to take care of the soldiers first because they’re the ones, you know, on the front lines doing the dirty work, you know, being the fighting soldiers that they are and they’re the ones who need to be sustained. And we can, we can eight after them, but let’s take care of them first.
Cliff Duvernois (20:20):
Yes, exactly. And, and, and this is probably gonna sound like a redundant question because you’ve obviously done a lot of research in the leadership. You have a lot of experience in that arena. Who are some of the leaders that have inspired you over the years?
Jeff Drozdowski (20:34):
So Colonel Tom Domin was definitely a one of them. And some of it was because of just seeing him go through his advancement and he went into the Naval Academy. From there he went into the Marines. He served in desert storm and in Afghanistan. And you know, the lessons that I’ve learned talking to him have definitely been an influence. I’m also a sports guy, so somebody that if you like sports, especially baseball, Tito Francona Terry Francona in Cleveland now, but Boston red Sox and Terry Francona abides by that. I’m with you to some degree. I’m still the boss, but you know what, we’re all in this together and you follow me, I’ll take care of you. And, and together we’ll all succeed. He, he’s been a big influence as well. As far as leadership. And then some people along the way to my area supervisors or district managers, a lot of people call them as I was a manager in the restaurant world that knew how to treat me the way that I needed to be treated to be successful. I was not, he, he or she was not the type of leader where they’d make a round hole. And expect the square peg to go into it. There was that flexibility as well as them being leaders to understand how I respond to direction and we all succeeded together because of that as well.
Cliff Duvernois (22:13):
One of the questions that I do want to ask is at the time of this recording and going through this whole covert 19 and the, the president just yesterday expanded his stay at home order until April 13th. There’s a lot of people out there that are afraid, you know, the nerves are just shot and I know at some point in time we are going to emerge from this for those people that are, that are staying home or you know, having to deal with us and you know, their family and their kids and a little bit of uncertainty. What do you, from your perspective, what are, what are some of the key lessons that we can take away from this ugly mess?
Jeff Drozdowski (22:52):
Well, I think that one and nobody in my age group and you know, I’m not afraid to say I’m in my fifties have gone through anything like this before. Right. I mean the last time the world went through something like this was the Spanish flu back in, you know, 1918 through 1919 so we haven’t, yeah, we haven’t experienced anything like this, but something that I’ve watched people doing and something that I think is going to be one of the big lessons that comes from this is really what is valuable in life. What’s valuable in life is your family, your neighbors, your community, and really taking care of each other. You hear all these stories now about in my local community, the teachers that are not working right now are going and setting up places at different schools during the week where the kids who don’t have any meals go to, you know, it’s a drive through situation, but they are picking up breakfast and lunch from the teachers who are giving back to their students because you know, a lot of these kids just because of their background, they don’t, they don’t have meals.
Jeff Drozdowski (24:09):
So that’s an example of the community outpouring that’s going on. And you hear a lot of those stories and you hear about the professional athletes, drew Brees as an example, giving $5 million of his own money to help the situation down in new Orleans. So there are these stories of people that are giving back because at the end of the day, this is, I think, going to be the biggest lessons. It doesn’t matter where you’re at in life, what status that you have. This affects everybody. We all need to help each other out through these times. And I think, I’m hoping that it will last well past where we’re at right now. I don’t think too much about different sides of the aisle when it comes to politics right now or what people’s politics are right now. It’s really irrelevant. You know? It’s, it’s just taking care of each other right now.
Cliff Duvernois (25:02):
Yeah, I absolutely have to agree that, and that’s the one thing that I’ve been seeing more and more with post on Facebook, on LinkedIn. Even the tone of the commercials on TV has changed where a lot of businesses are, you know, if they’re doing it correctly, they’re stepping up and saying, Hey, this is how we want to help you. And you know, and I think that that what we’re seeing now is even though we’re going through this horrible time, we are also seeing examples of humanity at its best. Not everybody’s doing it, but I think when you’re, like you were talking before about the baseball player that donated a $5 million just to help out down in, down in Louisiana. And there’s a ton of other examples. There was something on the news about a restaurant tour. I’m trying to, I’m trying to get him on the podcast, but the restaurant tour, who opens up his restaurant and they’re making meals exclusively for first responders. So you know, there’s so many great examples out there of people that are, that are doing really good things. And I’m with you. I hope that this, I hope this attitude is the new normal. I don’t want to think that staying home and being scared to go outside is the new normal. I want to believe that, you know, seeing people come together to help others a lot more than what we were doing before. I hope that becomes the new normal.
Jeff Drozdowski (26:23):
Absolutely. And you know what, I think deep down inside, I think most people do but we all get you know, we all have our path but sometimes the path takes us in a different direction and sometimes it’s the better path. So let’s just hope as we both agree that things will kind of reset a little bit when we get back to normal. Speaking of path, you like to refer to mountain climbing quite a bit in your content. So the first question I got for you is why is, why is mountain climbing such an interesting activity or sport for you? Being always been active with sports, you still work out quite a bit. And once I got back to a point where I could devote some of my own personal time into challenging myself, I started looking at these big boulders that were, you know, eight, 10,000 feet in the air.
Jeff Drozdowski (27:22):
And I thought, wow, you know what? I wonder if I can do something like that. So what I found out, and the first one that I really climbed was in Alaska, but I made it and it was only 3,500 feet, but that was the hardest 3,500 feet that I ever climbed in my life. A flat top mountain for, for your listeners who’ve ever been to anchors Alaska, that was a tough climb. But there’s a certain freedom when you get up to altitude, there’s a certain peace, there’s a certain calm, there’s a certain state of mind that occurs kind of naturally when you get up there. That’s may, it may be climbers high. I really don’t know. But I think a lot more clear when I get up into those altitudes. So one of the big lessons that I learned was, as I just mentioned, sometimes those lower altitude climbs are harder than than the higher altitude climbs.
Jeff Drozdowski (28:21):
That 3,500 foot climb was a lot harder than the 7,200 feet that I did in South Dakota in a place called Harney peak. It’s just like, it’s just like life. Even though the climbs may be significantly different, the smaller ones, the smaller challenges actually might be harder than the larger ones. So I kind of equate that mountain climbing into people reaching their goals and there are certain things that happen on a mountain climb that reflect people reaching their goals in life. So I’ve kind of taken my personal experiences with climbing and and kind of applied that into a, one of the keynotes that I do crush the mountain, crushed the climb, crushed the climb, baby crush the climb that crushed the client. No worries, no worries. What am I going to see that on a tee shirt. Interesting that you say that because my second book, I actually made some tee shirts that have my website on it and the title of the book. But I haven’t done that on a T shirt yet. Maybe it’ll be hashtag crush the climb. Hmm. I like that idea. Even better. I’ll I’ll give you some residuals on that since you, since we, you know, kind of brainstorm that idea. Well I’m not going to turn you down.
Cliff Duvernois (29:45):
Oh, awesome. Excellent. Well Jeff, thank you so much for your time. One last question here. If our audience wants to connect with you and follow what it is you’re doing or check out your YouTube videos or listen to your podcast, what are, what are some of the best ways that people can, can get in contact with you?
Jeff Drozdowski (30:02):
Sure. So the ultimate clearing house is, is the website draws, talks.com D R O Z talks, dress talks.com and you’ll find all the information that you need there as far as booking me for an event, I have my books available on the site there. You can get both of the books and you mentioned them at the top on Amazon. So if you just look them up under my name, Jeff draws Dow ski, then you’ll be able to find them both so you can find those there. But if you go to the website then it gets routed to me and then I will send you out a signed copy right from from my home here. So the draws cast podcast is on all your favorite platforms as I’m sure yours is. So I tunes to Stitcher, to Pandora to, you know, you name it, it’s out there. And then my YouTube channel is the draws, the, and then the second word is draws, D, R, O, Z. And that’s my YouTube channel. And you can check out all of my little leadership blogs.
Cliff Duvernois (31:07):
All right, Jeff, this has been an absolute treat. Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it and thanks again for, you know, for taking time for us today.
Jeff Drozdowski (31:16):
My pleasure. Good luck your podcast moving forward, you know, get ahold of me anytime.
Cliff Duvernois (31:22):
Great, thanks. Hey everyone, real quick before you bounce, if you want to join me on this journey to learn more from these fascinating community leaders, then hit the subscribe button at the top of your podcast player and I will catch you in the next episode.
About The Host
About The Host
Cliff is the host of “The Call of Leadership” podcast. He has published over 500 short stories over Facebook, Medium and LinkedIn. He is a passionate lifelong learner, marketer and philanthropist. He currently lives in Reese, Michigan with his fiancé Sherry and her two children.