Chris Tuff – How This Dad Is The Millennial Whisperer

Chris Tuff |

#83: Chris Tuff - How This Dad Is The Millennial Whisperer

"Everyone, take a trip with your dad before it's too late."

-Chris Tuff, talks about the life-changing trip he took with his Dad

Chris Tuff |
Chris Tuff

Chris Tuff
in 10 seconds

In today's conversation, you'll learn 3 key things:

Clip: Take a 1-on-1 Trip With Your Dad
Watch Time: 2 minutes

Chris:  My dad was a turnaround CEO for international companies.  He has this thing that is super cool, that he announced at one of our family dinners.  

He was going to take each one of his kids on a trip anywhere we want in the world, and it could be no more than five days.

We had to plan the whole thing. And the caveat was, that it needs to be in a country that he’s never been to, and you’ve never been.

And then, within 24 hours of returning, you have to send an email to the rest of the family, recollecting your trip.  Then he sends a recap at the exact same time.

I just went on my trip. I sold the rights of my book to a Portuguese publisher and I’d heard so many great things about Lisbon, so I said, “Dad, we’re doing it.” 

He’s been to Cuba with my brother, Iceland with my brother, Barcelona, with my sister.

Father/son relationships can be very hard on us. I’ve always struggled with wanting more of his affirmation. He’s British and not as emotional.  I’m the exact opposite of him in that way. 

But after that trip, he sent an email to everyone and said, “Chris is by far one of the most enthusiastic people, because he never stops.”

And I don’t often hear his view of me, which I see all day, every day.

But for him to finally see those things in me, was a big moment. The same is true of my view of him.  It takes really getting away to realize this.

I encourage you, everyone to go take a trip with your dad. And to connect that way, regardless of what type of relationship you have.

It’s cool, because within our great eight, it’s inspired them a lot. Hank just brought his dad to the Auburn game when he was featured on the field. And a lot of people are starting to do these trips, and they all come back with these amazing insights.

Chris Tuff teaching us how to build better work environments

Clip: How Empathy Can Improve How You Deal With Your Team
Watch Time: 2 minutes

Chris:  One of the tactics that I talk about, which is so important, is developing real relationships with your people, because the younger generations and Gen Z’rs, expect real connections with their people. So open up your one-on-ones when you’re talking to them about work or life.

My friend Mike, who’s an executive at Home Depot, is the example I use in the book. He says, 80% of the time, out of his 30 direct reports, they choose to talk about life.

And it’s through that connection that everything else ends up following. So, why aren’t we doing it?  Because we’d like to do it the same way our parents did.  

And then another thing, from an organizational standpoint, what is the number one thing millennials in the workforce care about? Money and benefits.

That’s no different than any other generation. Where it gets different, is number two is positive work culture. And number three is work flexibility.

You look at these new pressures as parents — I call it the Pinterest generation — we have these expectations on ourselves that are absolutely ridiculous.

And to juggle those expectations with our work expectations, our personal expectations, it is bound to be a massive disappointment.

You look at all of this stuff working together and it creates an environment where change has to happen.

Clip: What Dads Can Learn From Their Kids (And Apply To Their Business)
Watch Time: 2 minutes

Chris:  I talk a lot about millennials, and you know what my big statement is? 

Millennials aren’t the problem. They just expose all the problems. 

And I get a lot of boomer executives that have been reticent to change, to read the book and see it through the eyes of their children.

And their first response is usually, “Hey, Chris, I read your book. I understand my kids a lot better, and you’ve got some points there.”

It’s really interesting, as you look at the millennial generation and gen Z, some of the elements that I talk about within the book are products of helicopter parents, and snowplow parenting, and social media.  And the fact that participation trophies were a reality. 

It’s the harsh reality of the world we’re living in. 

Now, it’s up to us as both leaders and parents to help teach these things that are essential to bringing us to the next level.

And what it comes down to are two key elements, which is my platform for everything that I’m doing, and why I wrote this book:  we’ve got to bring more empathy and more connection. 

As you look at your kids, my kids, the Gen Z that are entering the workforce, which are 24 all the way through to those being born today, there’s an element of connection and energy.

Skills that are missing because they aren’t flexing that muscle all day, every day because they have a screen in the middle.

So how can we act as a catalyst to create that interpersonal connection and encourage them to flex that muscle?

I have rules within our team, for example, if you’re in the same building as someone, you have to get up — you’re not allowed to IM, you’re not allowed to text, and you’re not allowed to email.

Get your ass out of your seat, walk over to them, look eye-to-eye and talk to them. And that’s my quick tirade on that.

There’s a lot that’s happening right now, that I think it’s important that we take action, and that we also paint a picture that, how I sign all my books is: “the best is yet to come.”

We can either choose light, or we can choose dark. And it’s up to us to help people choose light through connection.

Chris Tuff | Millennial Whisperer
The Millennial Whisperer (the best-selling book, not a Nicholas Cage movie)

Clip: Two Quick Tips That Will Improve How You Connect With Your Team
Watch Time: 2 minutes

Chris:  Build a better sandwich.

Your people want instant feedback. So don’t wait until the review to give it.

They’re actually much more open to some of the critical pieces than you think. But go in with a compliment. Say, “hey Chris, great job on the podcast. Way to push yourself.” Don’t say, “but”, use “and”.

“And there are a couple of things that I think you can do a little better. I counted how many times you use fillers. You said, um, 32 times, and you said like 57 times. So definitely look at improving that in the future, and just be aware of that.

And by the way, seriously, great job way to put yourself out there. You’re already above and beyond a lot of your peers because you’re actually doing it.” So that’s the feedback piece.

The other piece is this idea of turning “let’s” to “by when.”

I think we live in a very unaccountable culture. We all like to talk a big game and then we don’t walk the walk.

There’s no worse email or no worse interaction than you saying, “Let’s grab a drink, or let’s grab dinner”, and then nothing happens.

So in the future, just respond immediately with “by when” and it brings instant accountability.

It’s been a life-changing thing for me because those coffees and lunches actually happen when you answer the “let’s grab coffee”, and you immediately say, “okay, by when next week? Let’s pull out your calendar.”

That’s probably what ended up spurring this podcast now, is we said “okay, by when do you want me on your podcast?”

Chris Tuff and kids
Chris and his girls

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Watch Time: 1 minute

Chris:  One thing that we do that I think is super important, especially when you have more than one kid: figure out scenarios where you can connect with the other kid.

Sometimes, you end up gravitating, either out of convenience or age, mom and dad pair up.

Create scenarios where you flip flop. I drive my nine-year-old daughter to school every day. She’s very emotional like me, and we are always attached at the hip.

She goes riding every Saturday, so my wife takes her to riding, and then I go off with Marlon, and we go on adventures together. I’m hoping that she’s going to be my kiteboarder. By flip-flopping, you get more of those dynamics.

The other dad tip that I’ve been doing that is super cool, is we’re doing mindfulness together at bedtime.

We use the Calm app, and it’s a helpful way that we can bond together. It’s kind of two birds with one stone, where you can meditate and bond together as father and daughter.

Clip: Rapid Fire Questions with Chris Tuff
Watch Time: 4 minutes

Rapid Fire Questions with Chris Tuff:

– What was your first car? Nissan Pathfinder

Favorite meal to eat for dinner? Umi (if you’re buying)/steak on my Green Egg

– Favorite dramatic movie? Dead Poets Society

– Favorite comedy movie? Black Sheep

-Favorite live concert you’ve seen? The Samples, Rogue Wave, Band of Horses

If you were a major league baseball player, what would be your walk-up song? Some wussy, indie-rock song like the Shins

– Favorite podcast? Naval

Chris Tuff fam

Thank you Chris, for showing us how to improve how we work with millennials, why you should carve out individual time for each of your kids, and why it’s so important to take a trip with your Dad.


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