Jack Milligan

Jack Milligan – Shine Your Shoes

This week Siebe Van Der Zee speaks with Jack Milligan. Jack is an Author, Lecturer, Business Leader, HR Professional and Community Leader. Jack is passionate about all things HR and shares 10 lessons with us that he has learned throughout his leadership journey.

About Jack Milligan

Jack Milligan is a founding partner of Leathers, Milligan & Associates (LMA) a Human Capital consulting firm headquartered in Phoenix.  He recently sold his interest in the business which continues to thrive serving global clients from offices in Phoenix and Tucson.  He spent over 20 years with ITT in HR positions all over the globe and then served two years as Corporate VP of HR for a publicly traded multi-national firm in California, before starting LMA. 


He continues to teach Human Resources courses for two local universities, and he has taught the HR Certification Institute preparation class for over 20 years.  He is now semi-retired but still leads his own HR consulting firm (The HR Academy) focusing on business and HR strategy, assessment, coaching, talent selection and executive compensation.   


He has been a proud and active member of Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) since 1970.  In 2003, the SHRM Arizona State Council awarded him the Professional Excellence Award and again in 2015 SHRM honoured him the Lifetime Achievement Award.  Both of these are given to only one HR professional in Arizona each year. His new book on salary negotiations titled Make More Money! was published in July 2016 and is available on Amazon.   


Jack is active in his community and has served on the United Way board, various Mayor’s committees, the East Valley Cultural Alliance and the advisory board of the Desert Samaritan Hospital.  For the past six years he has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for Goodwill of Central Arizona.


Jack has obtained the SPHR, GPHR and SHRM-SCP professional certifications, and he holds two certificates in Employee Relations Law.  He earned a master’s degree in Human Resources and Organizational Behaviour and a Bachelor of Science degree in Labour Economics from California State University at Northridge, CA.  He is a past president of the Valley of the Sun HR Association (VSHRA) and a past State Director of the AZSHRM State Council. 


Jack and his wife Trisha, have three grown daughters, two granddaughters and have lived in the Phoenix area since 1980.  He is an Army Brat, Vietnam Veteran and still donates his time to veterans’ re-employment issues.


Episode Notes 

Lesson 1: Live a goal directed life of accomplishments 07m 52s

Lesson 2: In your professional life understand your industry 11m 25s

Lesson 3: When people report to you. Hire them with care, treat them with honour. 14m 38s

Lesson 4: Be a developer of human talent 19m 30s

Lesson 5: Stay Humble, maintain a servant mentality and remember to say thank you 23m 16s

Lesson 6: Admit your mistakes, be reliably honest and promote trust 24m 54s

Lesson 7: Prepare anticipate and think 29m 44s

Lesson 8: Communicate with crystal clarity what you want, and expect & it tends to happen 32m 17s

Lesson 9: Shine your shoes 36m 15s

Lesson 10: You have trouble with your boss…you lose! 37m 57s

Jack Milligan – 10Lessons50Years

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:00:00]
Hello, and welcome to our podcast, 10 lessons t Took Me 50 Years to Learn where
we dispensed wisdom, not just information, not mere facts to an audience of
future leaders around the globe. In other words, we will be talking to
interesting people with interesting experiences. My name is Siebe Van Der Zee
and I’m your host.

I’m originally from the Netherlands and I’m currently living
in the state of Arizona in the United States of America. Also known as Dutchman
into desert. My company is involved in executive search and performance
coaching and Oh yeah. In my career, I’ve had the opportunity to live in four
countries on three continents. This podcast is sponsored by the professional
development forum, PDF and PDF helps up and coming professionals accelerate
their performance in the modern workplace. I hope you will enjoy this program.

Our guest today is Jack Milligan. Jack has been a friend of
mine for many years. He has an impressive background in human resources, both
in a corporate role and in a consulting role specifically in outplacement.

Jack formed his own HR consulting firm, Leathers, Milligan,
and Associates, and recently sold the company successfully. In 2002, he
received a professional excellence award at the Arizona SHRM  (Society of Human
Resource Management)
council. And in 2016, he received a lifetime achievement award from the same
organization. For 22 years, Jack taught HR professionals to obtain their
official HR certification. And that is why I like to refer to him as the guru
of human resources. Welcome Jack, how are you?

Jack Milligan: [00:01:51]
Siebe Thank you. It’s always a pleasure and I wish my mom was still around to
hear that introduction. I do.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:01:57]
Well, the guru of HR you truly have a, an amazing background and we are very
grateful that you are joining us today to learn from your experience over time.

Before we get into the 10 lessons learned, I am curious,
Jack, has there been a lesson that you learned early in your career, a business
lesson that perhaps you can share with us?

Jack Milligan: [00:02:20]

Jack Milligan: [00:02:20] Well, interesting you ask. Since we’re talking to up-and-coming professionals, I can remember one of the most indelible impressions that, that I experienced was really as a senior in high school, in beautiful downtown Akron, Ohio, where my School counsellor and had a bulletin board where companies locally could apply for jobs for part-time students.

And I applied for one of those and got the job. And the job was working for a company called Olson electronics, and it was after school. So, it was like four to seven 30 or eight o’clock at night three days a week. And my job. As it turns out. I was so happy to have it at the time was a minimum wage, of course. But there was to a high school senior who was really at his first job. It was like I was going to be rolling in dough. But the job, the job itself is what taught me a serious life lesson. My job was to, you know, I was surrounded by a basement full of electronic parts, you know, with widgets and gizmos and gadgets and reel stats and, you know, semiconductors, all, all kinds of interesting electronics and my job was to put together what was called a mystery box. Out of the catalogue for Olson Electronics people could order specific electronics of course, but they can also get this mystery box and you never knew what you were going to get.

It’s kind of like a box of chocolate. And so, my job was to push this little card around and take a few from this box and a few from that box and a few from another box and then package it all up and put a shipping label on it and send it out. And of course, the first week of doing that, I was really excited.

The second week of doing that, I became, you know, this is a little repetitive and a wee bit boring. And, and the third week I started looking around and realizing I was doing this in a, in a dark basement and in Akron, Ohio in the wintertime, it gets dark early. And so there I was all alone. Pushing there were other people in the building, but not in the basement.

And so I’m just doing this repetitive circling, like, you know, going through a maze and putting these boxes together. And I think I lasted three and a half or four weeks at that job realizing, and this is the insight it’s like, I need human stimulation. I need to be around people. I need to be social in what I do.


And, and that job just literally drove me crazy. And so, I had to give it up and go find another one at that point.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:05:04]
I love it. Yeah, I love it.

Jack Milligan: [00:05:06]
You know, it says I can’t do isolation. I can’t do one of those individual
contributor kinds of jobs where you’ve got no other people around you. And so,
I just want to start crazy.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:05:20]
I like it for different reasons because of course I know you quite well. And I
know you interacting with. Well over time, thousands of people, amazing numbers
of people that you have worked with and counseled you are in that sense very
much an extrovert. You like people and people like you. I can safely say that
so I can see if, if I think of that and your personality to put you into
basements without other people yeah, it could be interesting technology, right?
Like you said, but that’s not the place you want to be. No, but you have to
experience that first. Right?

Jack Milligan: [00:05:59]
And, and so the moral of that story, I guess, is look into yourself and
understand, you know, what kind of environment you need and, and kind of
subscript that with, that’s gotta have some kind of checklist as you move into
a real career kind of position.

So, I was able to apply that pretty much the rest of my
normal natural career to, you know, is this job going to have some of those and
be able to check off some of those boxes that has to do with human interaction?

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:06:30]
It kind of reminds me Jacko when I applied for my first serious job after
graduating from the university.

And I went back to my home country in the Netherlands. I had
studied in the United States and I thought, you know, I don’t want to work for
a bank. But the first opportunity was a bank that showed interest. And in my
mind, I thought I want to get used to interviewing back in my home country, go
through that process.

Let’s start with a job where I’m not interested because that
way, I just get that experience and then I can move on and become serious.
Well, the reality was they offered me a job and I had a great time working for
Citibank in Amsterdam at the time, something I would have never expected. And I
spent a number of years, as you know, in international corporate banking. It
was for my plan. In your case, it was to reverse. You realized that this is not
what I want to do, but it helps you then perhaps steer your career in the right

Jack Milligan: [00:07:33]
Oh yeah. I headed right towards human resources work.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:07:37]
Absolutely. Well, that’s, that’s an interesting story to start with looking at
your 10 lessons.

The first lesson, I’m already curious your thoughts live
a goal directed life off accomplishments
. What do you mean with that?

Jack Milligan: [00:07:51]
Well, I’m a firm believer in in the notion that people who set goals tend to
accomplish more, being a goal directed person, kind of follows logically that
if you establish goals for yourself and for your performance and for your
career, In a number of well-known areas, the major areas of your life, you will
in fact, enjoy life more.

You will accomplish more. And I believe your life will be
richer because of it. And I suggest six major areas, all need at least one
written goal at a time. Personal professional family, financial, spiritual, and
community. Those six areas, I think all deserve. Good analytic thought. And the
discipline to actually cast it in writing. And I think those should be SMART goals,
you know? That’s an acronym of course stands for specific measurable,
achievable, relevant, and time-based SMART goals tend to. By themselves define
the kinds of things that you have to get done in order to stay. I can check
that one off and move on to the next one.

But if we can get goals, a single goal, at least in each one
of those areas. What it does is allow us to make some informed decisions about
our time, how we spend our time and in pursuit of those goals, or, you know, in
going bowling or, you know, try and, you know, some reading, a casual reading,
or do I find this particular thing?

The most important commodity any of us have is time. I
guarantee you it’s limited. It is finite and a while at some points of your
life, it feels like it’s going to go on forever. It doesn’t. And at some point,
you do run it.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:09:43]
How do you know if a goal is smart?

Jack Milligan: [00:09:46]
Well, it has to pass those tests. You know that the acronym S M A R T all
stands for a particular test for your goal.

So, is it a specific goal? Yes. It, in fact measurable, is
it achievable in the first place and is it relevant to what you are trying to
do and accomplish generally speaking. And lastly, you put a time base on it.
I’m going to be, I’m going to do this by a certain date. And of course,
sub-plans all have to have those same kinds of things.

What are you going to get done by what date? And, and, you
know, so you’re constantly put the M back in the measure.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:10:23]
I like it. I like it. I mean, I, I strongly believe in setting goals and on a,
on a weekly basis, I write lists of things I need to do. And I’ve been doing it
for many years. And as I sometimes tell people, I write lists of lists because
I have so many lists and I do keep track of them right. Because it’s, it’s,
they’re all, let’s say relevant smart. In that sense, there you go.

Jack Milligan: [00:10:49]
This kind of thing. You know, I keep that right in front of me at all times and
work down through the check boxes. And that’s been, that’s been proven by the
psychologist after study, after study that shows that highly productive people
just tend to be goal oriented.

So is it cause, or is it effect and you know, one goes in
hand in hand with another highly productive people are generally goal-oriented?

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:11:14]
I like it. Yep. I agree. The second lesson Jack is in your professional
life, understands your industry.

Jack Milligan: [00:11:22]
Well in a professional life. I believe if we’re whatever you are doing,
whatever career you pursue, that you look around you and, and understand what
industry that you were in.

So, you know, in your professional life, I think it’s very
beneficial that you take the time to figure out what industry is, understand
that industry, study that industry. And you do that primarily by studying your
competition. So, understanding, your understands leads to studying your
competition. And then lastly, and this is one of those number of these that
cheat and have three things.

It actually is understanding where the money comes from, you
know, where what’s the cashflow of the organization.  Follow the money. You bet. Now I don’t care
whether you’re a butcher or Baker or a candlestick maker. You, those three
things will apply to any effort you are putting your heart and soul into.

And in terms of your career, understand the industry.
Understand your competition and know where the money comes from and where it
goes. It really doesn’t matter what you do as an HR guy. I certainly wasn’t
responsible for some of those things as my primary goal set and in the human
resources field, but it, it really gave me a leg up when I, I could have, yeah,
no conversation with any of the senior managers in our organizations, because I
understood the competition and what they were going through. And I understood
where we were. Vis-a-vis that competition. And so, you know, it’s like the
higher you go in any organization, the more you’re going to be responsible for
having the right strategic direction and magnetic North in the right place. And
it all, and those are three key secrets I believe. Understand your industry,
understand your competition and know where the money comes from.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:13:17]
It also helps. I think once you understand that to position your own value
proposition, right? What can you add to an organization? What do you have to
contribute? And it is very helpful when you are in a job search to really
understand that company, but also the industry, its competitors. And that is, I
think very helpful. It’s not just applying for a job. You are applying for that
specific job. And if you can demonstrate that you understand to a great extent
what is happening. You may not know all the details of course, but that can really
make a positive influence on someone that is looking to hire someone you say,
this person can contribute because he or she is, is already aware and
understands the issues that we’re dealing with.

Jack Milligan: [00:14:06]
Absolutely. You make good points, all of them. And so, I, I think we’re in
agreement on all those.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:14:11]
Well, let’s move on to number three, if, and when you have
people reporting to you, hire them with care, treat them with honor and
absolutely positively do your performance reviews on time.

Jack Milligan: [00:14:27]
Again, a three for under a category of just one, one of the 10 things it’s
highly likely that. And I’ll come back to this a little bit later on. It’s
highly likely that in your career, you know, you’re going to get good managers.
You’re going to get mediocre managers. You’re going to get bad managers, but
whenever are you yourself fine. You’re moving into a supervisory kind of

One of the hardest career changes individuals can make is
moving into a supervisory position from being one of the boys or girls. And so,
you have to separate yourself from the group and become a leader, become a
supervisor. The second biggest, I think changes is when you move the next step
up, when you start supervising other supervisors or managers, so each step up,
you get a little bit further away from your core expertise, whatever you
started as an organization, and you become more and more focused on your
ability to get things done through people.

And so, when you get into one of those kinds of positions, I
think hiring right in the first place, you know, is one of the keys to your
success. Higher than with care. Also, you know, treat them with great respect
employees, particularly highly productive employees need feedback. And that
leads to the third fudge factor here in this particular one.

And that is do your reviews on time. It’s having a career in
human resources. I can’t tell you how many organizations, how many companies
seem to have a little cancer going on in their midst. Because the people in
charge of people, aren’t really given those people, the feedback that they need
in a timely fashion.

I’ve been in an organization after organization, we’re
getting performance reviews. The feedback that synapse that actually happens
between a boss and an employee is one of the single most important
communication sessions that employees ever have, and supervisors aren’t
comfortable with doing it, but by and large.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:16:40]
And why is that? Why are they not comfortable sometimes doing that?

Jack Milligan: [00:16:45]
I think the number one key to answer your question is organizations themselves
have to hold their people; managers accountable for doing people management.
And there is no more single important. Milestone then the semi-annual or the
annual review.

You, of course, there shouldn’t ever be any surprises in
those documented performance analyses. The real key to supervision is daily
communication and, you know, never letting a surprise show up that you haven’t
already discussed with the individual, but a lot of supervisors just aren’t
comfortable with doing that kind of rating of another human being and, and
that’s the problem. That’s a management problem. Because if we’re gonna select
people to be in those positions, we need to give them the tools to do the job.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:17:41]
Is there perhaps an expectation wrongly, perhaps that if you do well in a
review, you can expect that your compensation will go up or that if you do not
do well, that your job may be on the line.

Jack Milligan: [00:17:57]
Well, you bring up a good point. Siebe there’s, there’s a whole lot written and
there’s a whole lot of discussion going on about pay for performance and the
fundamental tenant of pay for performance if you do a good job, you’ll get
that.  And you will go up the line. But
here lately, a lot of organizations have cited and decided to disconnect the
performance review with the actual economic aspect of it. I just had my 50th
year in human resources, work organizations that I’ve worked with on, like you,
four different continents and all that. It was kind of gone back and forth on
this issue, but either way you look at it and whether it’s connected directly
where, if you’re rated a five, you’re going to get 10%. If you’re ready to
four, you’re going to get 7%. those kinds of absolutes sometimes when some
organizations are disconnected completely, but the conversation between the
employee and the supervisor has to happen, it has to happen on a regular basis.
And whether it’s connected or disconnected, the supervisor has to communicate
the reasons for that in a way that they will understand.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:19:13]
The transparency will hopefully make that clear. The next lesson is, be a
lifelong learner. Listen, well, and whenever possible, be a developer of human
. Sounds good. Is that easy?

Jack Milligan: [00:19:29]
Another three for him. And under the, you know, the number four here a lifelong
learner you know, most of the folks we’re probably talking to see about our
recent college grads or perhaps even, you know, about to be a college grad.

And one of the things that we tend to celebrate is why I’m
glad I’m done with all that learning. Now I’m going to go apply it, you know,
but the truth is that the half-life of a baccalaureate education is three to
five years, depending upon how technical you are. And you have to keep up with
your profession, you have to keep up with what’s happening in, you know, as, as
the educational bottom bar keeps moving upwards that you are staying up with
that. And so, a lifelong learner is what it’s going to take. So, celebrate the
notion that you’ve got your undergraduate. If you’ve got your graduate degree
or even your post-graduate degree but realize there’s nothing more passe than a
20-year-old baccalaureate degree.

It’s old, tired arm. Yeah, you need to stay in the learning
phase. So, and the, so the second part of that is listening. Well, listen,
listening has a great, has a great deal to do with trust in an organization.
And the fact that you are soliciting information from those who work around
you, and certainly those who work for you, but whenever possible translate all
of that listening and to being a developer of human talent, there is, to me,
after a long career, there is there’s no, well, I guess maybe there are a few,
but not very many greater thrills than hearing from people who used to report
to me that have now risen to senior levels in organizations.

And, you know, we stay in touch and we talk occasionally and
just knowing that, that development, mental experience with them, put them on
some kind of track that they’ve valued, and they stay in touch. And I’m glad to
reciprocate that because it’s a thrill for me to have, I think about. 18 to 20
senior vice presidents and organizations spread around the globe who used to be
in my department.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:21:43]
Wow. Wow. It’s a very important point. And it’s definitely a lesson that I’m
still learning. I feel, I do remember when I started out in executive search
talking to candidates. On the phone. And I would always prefer to see the
people or meet them in person. And my boss said, well, you will. He told me.
And again, it’s a lesson learned for me that when you listen, don’t see the
person you actually pick up as he put it a certain rhythm in a person’s voice
and boy looking back over 20 years, I completely agree with that. And with
that, the importance of listening, it’s not only showing respect, but you pick
up where that person is coming from. And that is obviously as a manager is
critically important. It’s not to convince that person one way or the other
it’s to listen to him or her and to get that information and perhaps say, well,
we need to give you more information so you can adjust your opinion or your
thoughts or wow you’re on the right track. This is exactly what we’re looking
for. So, it’s an important point. It, it seems simple, right? Stay humble. It’s
a, it’s a, it’s a very important lesson to learn.

Jack Milligan: [00:23:01]
Well, that’s the next one coming up. Right. And we we’re stressing staying
humble, maintaining a servant mentality and remembering to say, thank you.

That’s my number five on your list there and staying
humble. You mentioned the magic words and kind of a great segue into this one
that no matter how much you think, you know, there’s, there’s probably you
know, enough room around the things that you really don’t know quite yet to
fill a box car or two.

And so, staying humble. Kind of goes along with this next
one, about maintain a servant mentality. I realize that you particularly, as a
supervisor of other people, your primary job is to develop those people and
knock down the barriers to them producing the maximum that they can. And
otherwise just stay out of the way.

And so that kind of goes along with the whole notion of
servant mentality. And lastly, under this one, another three, four of course,
stay humble, maintain a servant mentality and never forget to say thank you.
Those two words are very, very, very important. Then it shows an appreciation
for contribution from another human being that you value.

It’s easy to translate that to, you know, that person is of
value as well. And along that same theme, you know, all these things and you,
you wanted me to put together this list of mine, 10 things. That’s really
probably 36, but you know, frequently they come, they come in threes because
they tend to be along the same three and reinforce one another. It kind of
leads to that, our next one. Right?

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:24:38]
Exactly. Admit your mistakes. Be reliably honest. And promote trust
another threesome.

Jack Milligan: [00:24:45]
You know, admitting your mistakes. I, I think it kind of goes back to the
supervisory treatment of people with, with care and honor is you and you want
to work as an employee.

You want to work in an environment where you’re going to
grow and you’re going to learn. And the good supervisors that you get to work
for will, will not only tolerate you pushing the envelope, they will, In fact,
encourage you to push the envelope. the knowledge being it’s how you’re going
to learn and learning by error is a very effective way of learning.

Don’t make the same mistake twice, learn from it. But by all
means those who are pushing the umbrella out. Those that are pushing the, you
know, the barriers out or people who are knocking on the limits of that and
creating an environment. Within a supervisor subordinate relationship where
that subordinate understands that it’s okay for me to make a mistake.

I want to own up to it. I want to talk about it. Maybe in
group or team fashion. I want to share the learning that I have made with
others so that it kind of multiplies that way. But the expectation is that I
will be pushing that envelope enough so that I will in fact, make a few
mistakes. And what that leads to in terms of admitting your mistakes is, you
know, becoming known in your peer group and throughout all of those areas of
your life, that you are a reliable, honest person.

You’re going to take accountability for what you do and for
what you don’t do sometimes. And that you know, being reliably honest is kind
of like a modifier of it. I’m not just a little bit honest, right? I am a
reliably, you know, contemporaneously, honest,

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:26:40]
Now some people, Jack may, may say that, you know, admitting mistakes is a sign
of weakness.

Jack Milligan: [00:26:46]
Well, those people probably don’t admit many of their mistakes. You know, that,
that, that certainly is a, an attitude that can be held by a few people. But I
think the world has taught us. And certainly, my career has taught me that it’s
best in all of this servant mentality, being humble, telling the truth, kind of
entered magnetic North, the direction of your behavior ought to be towards all
of these things that we’re talking about, because what it does is it helps you
grow overall and.

And make this reliably honest impression upon your peers and
it’s what we need in the world. And it’s one of the things that we need in
order to develop people.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:27:33]
Yeah, no, I, I fully agree, fully agree. It’s just that there are people, as we
both know, that would perceive a differently and indeed those people perhaps
may not reach their ultimate potential because well, they make mistakes, but
they won’t admit it.

Jack Milligan: [00:27:50]
Don’t worry about it.  It like it’s kinda
like throughout your career, you know, you’re going to have some good and bad
bosses you can learn from each one of them. And so, when, when we get to my
very last one of the 10, and we’ll, we’ll talk some more about this, but, but
just the whole notion of being around trustworthy people and, and that’s the
end of this one, you know, those kinds of behaviors will promote trust.

And trust in my opinion is probably one of the most
important, but elusive commodities of the relationship between people and trust
in an organization. I haven’t been in lots of HR, organizations, where trust
was absent in the organization and the human resource department. And you can’t
really get much done. You don’t get much traction if, if the overall reputation
of you or your department is one that is not trustworthy.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:28:50]
Very important and trust of course, connects to integrity. And if there’s no
trust and no integrity, that’s a bad situation to have for everyone involved.

Jack Milligan: [00:29:01]
Yeah. Siebe, I think one leads to the other they’re kind of synonymous, you
know, and I think integrity, you know, it’s, it’s really promises made promises
kept know. And as long as your ratio of promises made, promises kept. It was
close to one, you know, you’re going to be building this trust. You’re building
this reliability kind of thing that we’re talking about.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:29:23]
Very important. Lesson number seven, again, prepare, anticipate, think
three things.

Jack Milligan: [00:29:32]
Prepare, anticipate, think. So many times, we’re so busy, you know that when
we. I think, well, I’m just going to have to do some shortcuts here and fake it
till I make it, that kind of thing. And so many careers are lost when they get
into that kind of mentality. One of the single most important career lessons I
ever learned was the notion that preparation is probably the single most
important part of execution.

Preparation is planning. Preparation is thinking it through.
It’s having a vision it’s identifying where you think you need to go with this,
where the solution is preparation is everything that goes into the research of
it. But also, once you are as prepared as you can possibly be recognizing we
deal in a world of ambiguity.

You’re not going to get all the information that you want to
make decisions many times. And so the secondary part of that is anticipating
what could go wrong. You know, I think I’ve developed a pretty good plan here
about what are the weaknesses in it. Anticipate pushback. Yeah. Anticipate,
other opinions about what your planning and preparation has done for you.

Those two things, great preparation and anticipation of
where your pushbacks are going to come from, allow you to succeed. In business,
case management, selling an idea of selling yourself and a lot of people just don’t
spend anywhere near enough time. Those two gears and the third gear is think.
They underlined reality of in order to prepare in order to anticipate what it
is, is time that elusive quality of time, that finite thing, we’ve all got just
this limited amount of that. We spend some of that treasure and the notion of
for heaven sakes, just think it through it used to be in the old days, you
know, it was the IBM, it was in every IBM building.

It was on every IBM business card. Think it’s just that one
word Think. And if you will do that and prepare and anticipate where things
might go wrong, I think there’s, there’s no denying your success.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:31:57]
Thank you. Good point, good point lesson number eight, communicate with
crystal clarity, what you want and expect, and it tends to happen

Jack Milligan: [00:32:06]
Yes. Yes. That’s my belief. You know, one of the greatest falsehoods about
corporate communications, excuse me. I’d just say about any kind of
communication is the expectation that is actually happened. Frequently and it
hasn’t happened. You tried and it didn’t get across. Yeah. And so, when I say
communicate with crystal clarity, that implies that you also you know,
anticipate where the weaknesses of the communication might be and that you ask
your audience to say, now tell me what you just heard me say in whatever
fashion you choose to say that in what you want, whomever you’re, you’re
communicating with to replay what they heard back to you. So, you can tell if
it’s a match and if indeed it’s a match, then great you passed the test of
communication, but frequently they will be a little off. And so, zeroing in on
that is the, you know, the art of. The crystal part of crystal clarity.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:33:14]
Is that something Jack that you also experienced in the, in the army and the
armed services?

Jack Milligan: [00:33:22]
And well you were in the army too, but we’re both in, in an army.

And the army was, which is, you know, repetition,
repetition, repetition, repetition. It’s going to become what they call it
rote. And so, what you’re doing is really creating a reflex of kinds of things
and, and to fit certain situations and yeah, in the military, in the right way
or the wrong way. And the military way is, is really you know, just it’s done
that way so that you kind of automatically respond in certain situations. The
meaning is the same across many barriers so that you will do the right thing at
the right time. Yeah.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:34:04]
And there is something, you know when, when you coach people, when I coach
people where you talk about brain muscle, you can train your brain. And the
simple comparison is when you go through traffic and the traffic light is green
and it goes to yellow and red. It’s not that you say, gee, what, what just
happened there? Right? You may be listening to the radio or in our conversation
with a passenger, you stop the car or you start driving. And I think that’s
part of training your brain and, and repetition typically requires that and
very useful. And I think once you have your brain muscle developed things that
could be difficult to deal with become much easier. You already visualize in
your really showing that film in front of you, of how you plan to do it. I
think that’s very helpful.

Jack Milligan: [00:34:56]
It’s a good point to let you make, I think. You know, the flip side of the
communicate with crystal clarity coin is that you come back to test whether or
not the results you expected or the results that you got. And so, the flip side
of crystal clarity is, you know, evaluation and accountability. You really do
learn that the more trouble that you take with making certain that you have in
fact, communicate, you know, that it’s, that it is actually occurred, but it
has happened is that you get the kind of results that you expect. And so, then
that kind of leads to number nine.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:35:36]
Well, yeah, and I feel that I need to make sure I’m in good shape because Lesson
number Nine shine, your shoes

Jack Milligan: [00:35:45]
That’s how I get away with multiples things rolled into one. Shine your shoes.
It was really my idea of being emblematic of taking care of yourself.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:35:55]
Appearance sets the tone.

Jack Milligan: [00:35:57]
Yeah. And my, my dad drilled into me and, and you and I both got it drilled
into us again, with, in the army, as that shining your shoes was emblematic of,
of, of a well-organized approach to where you are and what you do.

It’s taking pride as well in your appearance. It’s leading a
well-organized existence. Shine your shoes is, is all of these things rolled
into take the time to make certain that you are appropriate in your
presentation and your preparation and all of these things. We’ve talked about.
The pride of nothing builds confidence Siebe like the preparation that we’ve
talked about when you are well-prepared you perform better.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:36:45]
And that includes indeed shining your shoes or being dressed appropriately part
of the preparation. And obviously once you do that, you don’t have to think
about it. It’s taken care of, right?

Jack Milligan: [00:36:58]
It, it, it just lifts a lot of weight off your shoulders. If you’ve done the
right preparation, the right planning that allows you the time. To make certain
that the details are in the right place. You can’t anticipate everything, but
what a comfort it is. When you have an argument prepared for something that is
now pushing back on you, that you haven’t anticipated.

So, yeah. And, and, you know, just take some pride and how
you put the whole package together, including yourself.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:37:30]
I like it. Then you bring it down to shine your shoes, but that’s a, that’s a
very good deeper meaning to it. Lesson number 10, you have trouble with your
boss. You lose
. Wow. Wow. No hope, no hope left.

Jack Milligan: [00:37:45]
Know it sounds harsh, but the truth is you either fix it or leave. Do you have
trouble with boss? Like I mentioned earlier, a couple of times you’re going to
have good bosses are going to have mediocre bosses and you’re going to have bad
bosses. And one of the most troublesome times you will find yourself in is when
you get a mediocre or a bad boss, but there’s still learnings that can happen.

There are still ways for you to grow as an individual, as a
boss, a future boss, as a potential supervisor, wherever that by just observing
and watching the bosses that you are dealt. Through your career. Yeah. And so
just because you’re working for a bad boss doesn’t mean there can’t be some
learnings there, there definitely will be. But your career is too short. There
is not enough time on this planet, in our lives to spend too much time working
for a bad boss.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:38:41]
Basically the clock is ticking. Right?

Jack Milligan: [00:38:44]
The clock is ticking and you, you want to make certain that you maximize your
learnings whenever possible, and while you will have a learning from a bad
boss, it won’t be as enriched a learning as if you’re working for the upper 10%
of good bosses. So, if you have trouble with boss one way or the other, you’re
losing. And so, when I say fix it or leave, you know, fix it, there’s zillions
of examples where there’s been disagreements. I’m not talking about those kinds
of situations between you and your boss about substantive and, you know,
differences of opinion or approach.

And, you know, you need to work those out as they happen and
go along with it. But I’m talking about the overall cumulative quality of the
supervisor that you’re trying to learn from. And if that’s not where it needs
to be, if that’s not where it should be, then you need to move on. You need to
get yourself another boss.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:39:45]
It’s a very important point. And I think of that when our clients are
recruiting candidates. They look at, can the person do the job? Will they love
the job? Do they have passion for it? And then the third one sort of meant as a
joke, but relevance. Nevertheless, can we quote unquote quote.

Tolerate working with that individual, does it click and,
and I think it’s fair to say if there is a candidate and you really like that
candidate chances are, and perhaps he or she doesn’t have all the
qualifications, but you say we like this person and well, we can provide
certain assistance so that he or she can do well. At the same time if the
person has the skills and the experience, but it doesn’t really click well,
chances are, you’re not even going to hire that person because it’s, doesn’t
seem like a good cultural fit or personality fit. Very relevant.

Jack Milligan: [00:40:42]
I agree. I think what you’re talking about Siebe is, is first of all,
competencies, and second of all chemistry.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:40:49]
Yes, exactly.

Jack Milligan: [00:40:51]
And the single most important aspect of, of hiring is making certain that the
individual that you are hiring with care turns out to be the person who brings
the competencies that you think you’re getting to the actual job. Chemistry. On
the other hand, is yeah, no, it’s, it’s kind of a scientific term to apply to a
non-scientific analysis of the bubbling, crackling cauldron of these
personalities that go into the workforce and do they all actually fit and more
importantly is that they fit well enough to maximize the business opportunity
presented to that team at any point in time.

And that is a much more elusive assessment, and it changes
all the time. You know, so much of chemistry is based upon mood and, you know,
moods are very, very short-term kinds of situations, but you got to have the

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:41:56]
I have to ask you another question. You, you, you share 10 lessons, but just
what you said, it can change the mood, right? Jack. Are there any lessons in
your life and your career that you have unlearned? 

Jack Milligan: [00:42:11]
Thank you. That’s an interesting question. Well, yeah, I I’m sure there’s,
there’s lots of them, but the one that comes to my mind really kind of shot all
kinds of holes in my parachute. It was throughout my career, I always wanted to
be a corporate vice president of human resources.

And I worked hard and diligently over lots of years. And
finally, actually became a corporate vice president of human resources, New
York stock exchange listed publicly held corporation you know, billion-dollar
global company, very successful. Yeah. worst job I ever had.

And, and I was. So, in pursuit of that in each measuring
step, I took in my career with that being the ultimate goal in mind that I, I
guess I’d call it, be very careful about what you wish for. And I spent two and
a half years in that job on the 19th floor of a Los Angeles high rise. Tara not
so FERMA building built on ball-bearings only to find out that the most fun and
value that I had in my whole career is with, I was really one or two steps
lower than that. And you know, I was at a plant level somewhere where we had
three or four or 5,000 employees and I had a budget and I had a staff and I
had, you know, colleagues and I had conflict in my head.

You know, all the kinds of things that go with having an
organization around you, too, you know, nine other executives on, on the upper
floors of a, of, of a high-class office building where nothing important is
really happening. I had to spend most of my time out in the field with the,
with the individual operator to feel like I was actually contributing any

It goes back. Back at headquarters. It was, it was like
negotiating between two senior level vice presidents about why one has a
thicker carpeting than the other. It was just nonsense. And, and so be careful
of what you wish for it’s the moral of that story?

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:44:28]
Oh, interesting. Because I had to think about what you mentioned early on about
your first job somewhere in the basement working by yourself and you thought
that’s not the kind of job now. So many years further, you are a senior vice
president of a major corporation, and yes, you are dealing with people, but
wait a minute, it doesn’t really have much depth to it. And if I think of it, I
dunno, if you ever counted the number of people that you have counseled, but I
imagine we’re talking more than 10,000, perhaps more than 20,000 individuals
that you have guided and coached and counseled in your career. And. Obviously I
can see it on your face right now. That’s something that you truly enjoyed.

Jack Milligan: [00:45:15]
Well, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s interesting. You bring that up. I published a
book on negotiations technique and I’m not plugging the book, but

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:45:25]
What was the name of the book?

Jack Milligan: [00:45:27]
Thank you. Make more money.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:45:31]
And it’s on Amazon?

Jack Milligan: [00:45:33]
It is available on all the regular places, including Amazon. You bet you. Yeah.
Anyway, my editor said, this is about, you’re talking to people about
negotiating their economic package. When they joined an organization, it’s
actually a book about career management, but a large part of it has to do in
the name is all about you know, I’m convinced that most people just simply
leave too much money on the table when they join an organization. Most people
don’t ask that’s the subtitle to the book. So, at any rate, the, the whole
notion of what she was after was how many people have you actually tendered
offers? Yeah. And so, I said, I have no idea.

And she said, well, figure it out because I want it for the
gee whiz, as you know, some of the gee whiz statements that are going to go on
the inside flap of the book. And so, I went back to my very first job and kind
of did a, an approximation of, and so it ended up the number that I gave her
was between 18 and 20,000 individuals that I’ve had a personal hand in their
employment offers.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:46:36]
Think about that. Think about personal attention, not just a group individuals.

Jack Milligan: [00:46:43]
Right. And the moral of that story was, you know of all of the people who could
negotiate their employment offers only 10% actually do the vast majority of
people accept what is offered to me. And those that do negotiate, most of them
do it wrong.

So that’s the secret of my book. And so how do you get to be
a 10% or undo do it right?

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:47:05]
Wow. So that’s for lesson number 11. Very read your book. Well, Jack, this has
been a phenomenal again. We know each other for, for many years, but I truly
believe that we got wisdom for you. And I fully subscribe to the fact that you
are known as the guru of human resources.

I really appreciate that. Thank you for joining us. Okay.
And again, thank you, Jack. You have been listening to the international
podcast, 10 lessons. It took me 50 years to learn produced by Robert Hossary
and sponsored by the Professional Development Forum. PDF. PDF provides
seminars, webinars, social media discussions, podcasts, and parties.

For more information, please visit the
www.Professionaldevelopmentforum.org. Thank you for listening and please stay






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