HR Social Hour Episode #93 -Jon Thurmond & Wendy Dailey Chat with Jason Treu

Fantastic time on the HR Social Hour podcast with the incredibly talented Jon Thurmond and Wendy Dailey. We discussed culture, employee experience and engagement, teamwork, team building, building trust, my game Cards Against Mundanity, and much more.

I also shared two HR leaders that you should check out Heather Dulin​ and Emily Markmann (and I’d in Susan Hamilton Mahaffey who I had a fantastic conversation last week with!).

We’re joined by Jason Treu, Chief People Officer and Company Culture Expert with Unstoppable Workplaces in Dallas, TX.  We talk about why companies struggle to develop high performing cultures and teams and what lead him to create “Card Against Mundanity.”  Jason also describes a decision he made in 30 minutes that changed his life and routine for the better.  There’s wine app talk and much, much more! 

Jason’s recommendations for HR leaders to check out:

How to reach Jason:

Why Retailers Holiday Return Policy Makes Zero Sense

Customer returns are a big deal with more than 48% of shoppers returning a holiday purchase and shoppers with a poor return experience are three times LESS LIKELY to shop with that merchant ever again. So it makes sense to have an extended window for holiday return. But I found that many smaller to medium-sized retailers don’t have an extended window. That’s very surprising.

As I was shopping for gifts for my new wife, our two children and others, was how many retailers had a 14-day to 30-day return policy. In my search, I went through more than 50+ small-to-medium-sized retailers who didn’t have one. I immediately didn’t buy anything from me and I wouldn’t go back for holiday shopping in the future.

This was even more frustrating for shopping for clothing or shoes. I couldn’t take advantage of all the holiday deals and I had to wait until I was in a window to return after the holidays.

One retailer that had a good holiday window was Jimmy Choo.

You’d think this would be a “no-brain” policy. It’s a simple part of the customer experience. Well, you’d be wrong.

It’s the little things that get overlooked that cause the biggest issues. As a shopper, I don’t need a fancy website. But I do need a return policy that works!

How to be a Career Changing Mentor

Here’s an excellent article on how to be a career changing mentor. Every mentor wants to positively impact and share their wisdom and lesson learned with their mentees. The challenge is they aren’t exactly sure how to do it.

There is a skill and art to conducting a successful mentorship engagement. This article goes into depth on it.

Here is an example below…

Impactful questions for mentors to ask their mentees:

  • What kind of advice do you need right now?
  • What else is on your mind?
  • What’s getting in the way of your learning?
  • How would you perceive this challenge from the outside?

AirPods Pro vs AirPods v2 vs Powerbeats Pro Review (Which Should You Get?)

Wireless ear buds are incredibly useful and a business essential item. The challenge is what to get? Well, I’ve spent countless hours using them and talking to dozens of users. Here is your review guide to choose between AirPods Pro, AirPods V2 and Powerbeats Pro.

AirPods V2:

  • Stay in ear well even during exercise. Some people do have issues so you have to try them out. They can cause problems staying in when you sweat a lot (ie summer time exercise).
  • Can hear ambient noise around you, which can be helpful in some situations and not in others
  • Smallest battery case (and men benefit from that because they put it in their pockets in many instances instead of a purse or backpack).
  • Battery life is the lowest. You have to keep the case around to charge. It’s inconvenient if you have a lot of calls back-to-back. You have to keep the wired headphones around.

AirPods Pro:

  • Active noice cancellation works great. It also has transparency mode to hear around you. It’s a great to have both options. BUT some people only use noise cancelation on planes or in the office and they prefer the over-the-ear noise cancelation headphones (and they are better in ANC than Pro).
  • Stay in ear better than V2, but some people complain about the silicon tips. They claim they can hear they own “heart beat” and/or a weird pressure. Some people hear an echo in their ear when they talk to someone. I’ve spoken to a few people who ride and they claim the wind affects the sound.
  • Sound better, both bass and treble. It’s not as big a gap as between Powerbeats Pro and V2.
  • Better Bluetooth connection. I found them to connect quicker and easier.
  • Bigger case causes issues just like Powerbeats Pro. They don’t fit in your pocket well so people have to leave them at home or put them in a bag. The challenge is their battery life isn’t as good as Powerbeats Pro.
  • $250 price tag is steep.

Powerbeats Pro:

  • Sound the best of the three. It’s made for music.
  • Case is huge. That’s a problem. I have to put them in my backpack or I have a smaller case I bring with me. It’s annoying.
  • Battery life is insane. I’ll get 5-6 or more hours of calls. I can get 9-10 hours of music. It’s a major advantage. I can go al day on 1 charge.
  • Calls sound great. Never had an issue. Some people claim wind is a challenge versus AirPods Pro. I didn’t find this to be true.
  • Bluetooth connectivity is just as good. AirPods Pro switches between devices slightly better.
  • Doesn’t have noise cancellation. They have noise isolation. It’s not the same, but I found it to be very good.
  • Never fall out…ever. They are the best for sports and activities. They’ve handled pouring down rain and worked right through it. Sweat is no issue. Although the one thing I liked about the AirPods is I could hear the environment around me better then the Beats. I have to remember to look around me when I run.
  • Some people complained they didn’t like fit in their ear and discomfort over longer periods of time. Sometimes I do have to take one out to hear someone talking (ie placing an order for coffee).
  • Like having buttons on the side of the earpods too versus just Siri.
  • $250 price tag is steep.


For most people, AirPod Pros will be the best bet. I love the Powerbeats Pro. It’s my go-to earbuds. The V2 is definitely in third place. It’s not a bad bet for a Christmas gift for a teenager or someone college bound.

I do think that anyone should test them out and see how they work. There are challenges with each and I’ve found everyone has a slightly different experience (and uses).

Couple other reviews to check out that will give you more insights into what to do.

Why Leaders Need to Vulnerably Open Up About Failure

Failure is almost always spoken about in the past tense. That creates an artificial safety net. There isn’t true vulnerability in that. Love this article (“Opening Up About Startup Failures and Vulnerability”) in “First Round” that goes into it. Read on.

Leaders, entrepreneurs, founders and others many times open up and share their failures ONLY after they are successful. But does that really help others who are in the midst of struggling? Founder Jeff Wald shares what it means to get raw and vulnerable about failure in the “present tense.“


Failure’s become trendy. We live in a culture of innovation and pushing envelopes, which requires failure,” Wald says. “But I’d draw a distinction between failure and vulnerability. We’ve confused the idea of putting failure out into the market as making yourself vulnerable, when it isn’t. Talking about how your startup didn’t work or how your product fell flat isn’t the same as digging into how that made you feel or how you failed specifically as a leader — there’s a degree of separation there. You actually need to put yourself out there.”

Here’s the difference between talking about failure and getting truly vulnerable: Vulnerability is necessarily personal while failure is not. Don’t conflate the two.

Sharing tales of startup failures, market defeats and company losses is not necessarily an exercise in true vulnerability, especially when there’s a safety net of follow-on success to fall back on. “I only got comfortable mentioning Spinback after there was a successful end to that story, when there was no downside for me,” he says. “Given where I am now, everyone automatically views the failure as a stepping stone to that success. So even though I’m more forthcoming about it, talking about the company going under doesn’t really make me vulnerable. It’s an abstract layer, a discussion in which I’m still shielded. Talking about the depression that went along with it and the inability to cope with the failure — that’s a little bit more down the road of vulnerability.”


Failure has been an invaluable teacher for Wald, but only because he put in the time to excavate its lessons. “Failure can be something that happens to you, or it can be something you learn from. But that doesn’t happen through osmosis, it takes a lot of concentrated effort and dedication to unearth the takeaways,” he says.

For Wald, moving past the notion that his failure defined him ultimately required professional help. And something he’d once scoffed at — working with a coach. When first approached with the idea, he wasn’t too receptive. “One of the WorkMarket board members took me on a walk and said, ‘We think you need to get a coach’ and I said, ‘I think you need a coach,’” Wald says. The board member, however, made it clear that the suggestion wasn’t optional. 

“At the time I was more focused on proving that I was right as opposed to being effective. I was very emotional and volatile. There were board meetings where I would sit in the corner with my arms crossed, hoodie up, and not say anything,” he says. “There were other times where I threw things — sometimes tables and chairs. I was an asshole. I wasn’t giving off the impression that I could provide the leadership that a growing and transforming company needs.”

Wald reluctantly went through the process of finding a coach, determined to do the bare minimum to satisfy his board and nothing more. “I certainly planned to blow it off,” he says. But just as Wald needed to connect with fellow founders to get a better context for his work, it took a coach who had a similar career path, and thus more relevant context, to realize how helpful an outside perspective could be. “I met with people that had clinical backgrounds in coaching, but I knew from my own makeup that I needed somebody that had sat in my chair before. I was introduced to someone who had been incredibly successful in the startup world first and then went back to become a coach.”

Example of Great, Inspiring Company Values by CEO of Twilio

Excellent post on creating great company values (versus lame ones) & challenges behind “living them” by the Twilio CEO. Encourage you to check out the article below.

“CULTURE is a word that Silicon Valley and startups everywhere toss around all the time,” says Lawson. “What does it really mean and how does it relate to VALUES? What I landed on is that culture is living your values.

Values are written words, and your culture is how you actually live those written words.”

“Our values are in motion, specifically through a three-stage lifecycle that gets us to the next stage of growth. First, we articulate our values, then live them and finally, test them.”

Love these two values the most (see the picture below): 

1) “Empower Others: Make Heroes. Unleash the greatness of others inside and outside the company.”

2) “No Shenanigans: Be thoughtful. Always deal in an honest, direct, and transparent way.”

Values are for guiding behaviors and helping people make decisions that everyone will support and feel proud about.  

Values are really really hard to get right and usually take iteration. But it’s worth investing in because the positive/negative consequences are massive.

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