Getting Leverage In Business Through Apprenticeship And Mentoring With Moe Abbas and Applying Emotional Intelligence With Justin Bariso

A lot of people are having struggles with applying for apprenticeship because companies nowadays tend to hire people with experience in their field. In this episode, Dr. Diane Hamilton talks with Moe Abbas, the CEO of Acadium about this dilemma and how Moe’s company is addressing it with their digital apprenticeship programs and certifications. He also discusses the tools that they’re using to help accelerate human potential and the mentorship they provide for people who need it.

Many people get the wrong idea about what emotional intelligence is about in a work environment. They think that empathy and mutual agreement are all that is needed when it comes to EQ, but that is not the case. In this episode, Dr. Diane Hamilton is joined by Justin Bariso, an author and speaker who helps organizations and individuals develop their emotional intelligence. Justin’s new book, EQ Applied, illustrates how emotional intelligence works in the real world. Diving more into the subject, Justin unveils the three questions you need to ask yourself before talking in order to get positive results and shares some tips you can use to develop your EQ.

TTL 634 | Apprenticeship And Mentoring


We have Moe Abbas here and Justin Bariso. Moe is the CEO of what was formerly GenM, now it’s called Acadium. He’s also in the business of making job training free and accessible. It sounds like he’s shaking up education. Justin is the author of EQ Applied. He’s a big contributor to Inc. and Time. He is the emotional intelligence expert, which is right up my alley. This is going to be so much fun. I hope you enjoy this episode.

Listen to the podcast here

Getting Leverage In Business Through Apprenticeship

I am here with Moe Abbas who is the CEO of GenM where they make job training free and accessible to anyone. He Cofounded the Canadian General Contractor Group of Companies. He led that group from an office basement in Canada to $20 million in sales. This is going to be an interesting conversation. Welcome, Moe.

Thank you for having me. It’s great to be here.

You’re welcome. GenM is very fascinating to me and I want to get a little background on you before we get into that. I mentioned some of what you’ve done, but can you give us your background that led to GenM?

We’ll start way back when my family first came to Canada. I was three years old and we came as refugees. Like a lot of other refugees, we grew up very poor. I remember when I was ten years old, I would go door to door selling different products and services to help my family. I didn’t get to keep any of the money, but it taught me a lot about sales and work ethic. I ultimately got to meet a lot of cool people, which was the best part of that whole experience. Pretty much of my teenage years was a lot of hustling. I started working when I was super young. I dropped out of high school. I did not believe in the education system. Instead, I did a few things. One is I traveled and did contract work. I was doing phone repair when I was eighteen. I was the youngest phone repairman in North America. I didn’t even know how to fix phone lines. I could figure it all out on the job, which was great.

A common theme of my life is figuring things out on the go. It was great. It opened my eyes up. I had never seen wealth before. Here I was, eighteen years old in Palm Beach, Florida. I was walking up to this 10,000 square-foot mansion in a gated community in the backyard. The frail old person comes to the door and I’m like, “They’re normal human beings and this is what wealth looks like.” I came back to Ottawa with a new-found insight on the world ultimately. How I got educated is not through traditional education. I’ve always been a big reader my whole life. I’d science fiction books and I switched to reading nonfiction. I’d go to the bookstore every day for 6 to 8 hours a day. I’d read books. I read a book every two days. I learned how to speed read.

TTL 634 | Apprenticeship And Mentoring
Apprenticeship And Mentoring: You have to commit to your apprentice to a certain degree in order to give them value and to get value back in the relationship.


Within a few years, I had read a book in every single nonfiction shelf on the whole bookstore. I did it in the off-season. I started two landscaping companies at the same time. I was going door to door but this time, I was more sophisticated about it. I set up crews and routes. I ended up selling those two landscaping companies and started a construction company when I was 20, 21. I had no network, no experience, never picked up a hammer before, never did any trade work before. Within five years, I took that company across Canada to number one market position, $25 million in sales, $100,000 plus, hundreds of contractors. I did $1 million from Starbucks in my first year. I didn’t even have an office when I first started that.

Along the way, I won lots of awards, 40 under 40, 30 under 30. I signed up on the board of directors for the Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau. I had two boys, which was fantastic. I was very busy in my twenties, that’s for sure. I had gotten to a point in my life where I don’t know if it was the fantasy books or growing up poor. I wanted to have more impact in what I was doing with my life. I had made millions and was very successful in my mid-twenties. I was self-made but it wasn’t about the money. It’s about what you can do with your life ultimately. Money to me is a tool to resource to achieve your objectives. It is important to resource much like relationships are and food is, but ultimately it’s just a resource. It’s not a goal or outcome. It’s a tool on your journey. The question about impact led me into the technology world and I started working on a few projects. One of those projects ended up being GenM but we rebranded into Acadium.

It was me and a few friends in a basement office. We had no money, but we needed to grow the business. What we would do is work with students who volunteered in our company. We would help train them and launch their careers. It gives us an affordable way we can grow our business and that talent pool we could hire from. I did this for almost a decade with many different kinds of students. I was doing it again for this project. We were working on the social media app at the time and my Cofounder, Richard, turns to me and he’s like, “Moe, we have hundreds of applicants here. Nobody had experience and they’re all looking for experience. Why are we building a social media app? Why are we not solving this problem? You have a unique insight. You have more experience working with students than anybody else. This is a very significant problem.”

I did a conversation about the education system. We’re twenty million Americans. We spend $160 billion on tuition primarily to start their careers, but we are going to switch careers 5 to7 times in our lives. We can accelerate with automation, then you look at the options that they have for training. How do you get job training? There are only two ways you get job training. Either do it through postsecondary or a boot camp. Most people do postsecondary and it costs a lot of money. It takes a lot of time. It’s not accessible to a lot of people. The main thing is you walk away with no work experience. This is the number one signal that employers look for in the job market.

We had this crazy idea that maybe businesses could train candidates for the job market. We’ve been doing this for a long time. We do it very well. We said, “What if we could enable other businesses with this?” We had this unique insight, something we ended up coining as a digital apprenticeship. Essentially, it’s a skill transfer from a professional to novice. In Acadium, the change of value is skills for help. In exchange for help in your business as a small business owner, you help our candidates get job training ultimately. The businesses in our platform are small businesses. They’re predominantly less than four employees. They don’t have a ton of money, but they do make revenue in their business. They usually run $50,000 or more on their business. They’re committed to their business. They’ve worked with either a student, a remote worker or somebody in the past before so they know how to work with other human beings.

They genuinely enjoy giving back. It’s nice when you’re working alone for a very long time to get an apprentice who can help you in your business. Somebody who cares about the work that they’re doing and is there genuinely for good intentions. For a lot of business owners, it makes them feel like they’re giving back. It helps them get leverage in their business, which is what a lot of business owners try to do. For us, because the exchange of value is skills for help, we want to keep the membership fee super low. It enables us to go do coursework for students and build tools to enable the businesses and the candidate to work and collaborate together. Ultimately, they can also certify their apprentice.

A lot of apprentices work or go to school full time, but they need the experience to launch their career. Click To Tweet

That’s what we’ve done. We kept it at $89 a month. For that, they get access to membership tools and support. They get an apprentice, which is ten hours a week for three months. It’s 40 hours of help in a month for $89. For us, we’re very clear that this isn’t about unpaid work. It’s not what we’re about. It’s got to be a fair exchange of value. You have to provide mentorship to your apprentice. They’ll work for you and with you on your business, but it is about this fair exchange of value. You have to commit to your apprentice to a certain degree in order to give them value and also to get value back in the relationship. That’s what we’ve been building. We’re only focused on digital marketing right now. We will go to other verticals later on, but digital marketing is a massive vertical in itself. We have 5,000 businesses who are members of our platform who bring on apprentices to help them in their business. We’ve trained over 80,000 students through our platform.

From running an MBA program when I was a chair at Forbes and from the work I’ve done teaching online, I’m trying to envision how you’re doing this. A lot of what we talked about when I’d been in these board meetings is how education was going to change in the future. The bits and pieces of content were more of the focus than the actual delivery of how people would learn. What you are on is a huge thing here from my experience teaching thousands of business courses. I am thinking that this has a lot of room for so much growth, as you mentioned the different verticals. If it’s the digital space, they are working virtually. They’re not actually going to their offices, right?

Yeah. We designed it so that there’s a very low opportunity cost. We want to make sure that we reduce the friction in enabling our candidates to get job training and also the amount of work that a business has to do to help their candidates and their apprentices as well. It is remote, ten hours a week. As a business owner, you don’t have to supply a laptop, you don’t have to supply space. By making it remote, matching is way more effective. You may have the best match for you who is 4 to 5 hours away or maybe even in another country and that’s the best fit for your business. It’s the same from the apprentice side. A lot of our apprentices work or go to school full-time, but they need the experience to launch their career. I’m making it ten hours a week and remote. They are then able to still work or go to school while still getting the experience they need to launch a career.

You mentioned the sizes of the company was small. Is there a reason that you don’t go larger than that?

Later on, we will but right now, we are focused on helping small businesses grow because of cost constraint. They don’t have the money to hire. If you’re making $50,000 to $200,000 in your company, or maybe even more than that for some businesses, if you’re not making a huge amount of revenue, you can’t afford to spend $80,000, $90,000, $60,000 a year to hire somebody full-time. You just can’t because you’re a small business owner and this is the majority of businesses. There are 27 million small business owners in the US. A lot of them are entrepreneurs and solopreneurs. For them, they can’t afford it, but they need to leverage. They have skills, knowledge and experience. They could be on an apprentice, they can get leverage in their business, and they can also provide this training back to their apprentice. It’s a win-win for both sides.

It’s right up with everything that I do in my realm of experience in terms of business, training and everything that you’re talking about. This is very fascinating to me. I’m curious, what type of things are they helping with? Give me an example of how they help each other. A task, for example.

TTL 634 | Apprenticeship And Mentoring
Apprenticeship And Mentoring: Acadium’s goal is to accelerate human potential and enable businesses to train students for the job market.


The businesses do their best on the platform for those that are prepared and know what they want to get done ultimately. With that being said, a lot of them also had caught with their apprentice to figure out what they enjoy doing so it becomes mutually enjoyable to work together. A lot of the talks were like digital marketing and the verticals we’re in. It’s social media management to help them through social media. There are lots of ways they could do that, whether it’s researching content and competitors, putting up posts, responding to comments, creating email marketing campaigns, reviewing the content for the campaign, checking the data around that or content marketing.

Maybe they’re running articles, researching keywords for search engine optimization or looking at site structures and see how they rank in there in the search engine rankings. Maybe it’s an ad campaign where they want the apprentice to review ad spend, how that’s trending, how the segmentation is going, what other segmentation could be done. These are some of the different ways or maybe it’s a research project or a unique marketing project. There are many different ways. It’s pretty much whatever you’re doing for digital marketing that you could get more of leverage in is what an apprentice could be helping you with.

You say you have somebody for three months. After three months, what if you want, can you get a new apprentice at that point? Is that the same person or does that defeat the purpose?

Sometimes an apprenticeship gets extended by 1 or 2 months and that’s fine, but we don’t allow consecutive apprenticeships with the same business. What we found other than a small extension is for the apprentices training the better off learning under different mentors. They’re getting a variety of experience and doing, let’s say, 6 or 9 months with one business with the same task over and over again. It provides a variety of experience with different mentors who also give them a bigger network as well for the apprentice. On the businesses, they can come back and get another apprentice at the end of the apprenticeship.

What we find is businesses sign up to the platform, they activate their membership. It’s a recurring membership. It’s built quarterly so it’s every three months. A lot of them do consecutive apprenticeships. Some of them do 1 or 2 maybe take a little break and then they come back or they do one, will be there for a couple of months. They do other things in their business and they come back and get another apprentice. It’s not always necessarily knocked it back apprenticeships. A lot of them keep the membership and then they get an apprentice when they need one in their business.

I’m trying to foresee in my mind who knows more almost. A lot of these people probably are doing almost personal assistance or some of it. Do they have the skills or are you training them to have the skills most of the time? Do they usually come with some of the skills and you’re helping them use them?

We are very clear that this is a training program ultimately. You’re getting this leverage but you can’t have these crazy expectations that you’re going to work with a digital marketer who got ten years’ experience. These are predominantly all entry-level, but some do have experience. I say this but some are experienced marketers that are looking for more experience. Those ones usually opt-in to work with more experienced marketers on the platform. We have a lot of marketers in the platform who run agencies or who run pretty significant businesses. They are small businesses but they do big numbers.

Those ones usually opt-in to work with the more experienced marketers who are looking to learn very specific skill like maybe SEO, paid ads, marketing or social media, whatever it may be. I wouldn’t expect that. If I come to the platform, what I’m going to expect is somebody who is tenacious and wants to learn, not somebody who knows digital marketing. I will have to figure out how to get leverage in that relationship ultimately. You’re not going to get somebody who’s going to go and run a massive paid ads campaign for you with no older site. That’s not what it is about.

I’m wondering if you have some format that makes it more efficient. The process of how they interact like this is how you can teach them. This is how they can learn. Do you teach that part?

Yeah. We have tools and how it works is we have two matching styles. One we’re experimenting with called an instant match. The other one is a normal search process. You sign up, create your profile and then you can search for an apprentice. It’s like a dating app. You send them out a chat request and then they opt back in and you can chat with each other. If you want to work with each other, we have one-click labor contracts in the messenger as well after you get on a call and see if it’s a fit. We also have a call scheduler so you can schedule that call easily. It sends you a reminder. If it is a fit, you have one-click labor contracts. You start the apprenticeship. In the apprenticeship, we have tasking tools and scheduling tools. We even have a workstation, which is cool. We rolled it out. In a sense, what it lets you do is you can work in a shared work environment in the cloud, which is a replica of your computer.

It’s like a screen-sharing but it’s more interactive. Imagine you’re screen sharing but both of you are controlling too. It can be anything. Let’s say you’re in a Facebook ad. You’re working on it yourself. Your apprentice could be watching you and then you can ask them to do segmentation of an ad set and then you can watch them. They’d take over the mouse. They’ll do that segmentation and you’re observing them or maybe you’re going to do a little bit of email work or some other work. You jumped back into the workstation and then you can have a video chat with them, you can talk to them, you can give them feedback on the work they’re doing. You can take over the mouse again and then continue whatever that work is. This is all part of the tools that we have. At the end of the apprenticeship, you can certify your apprentice as well.

Having an apprentice can help you leverage your business and provide training back to the apprentice; it's a win-win for both sides. Click To Tweet

What software do you use for being able to both view what’s going on at the same time?

For the workstation, we built that software. We acquired a company for that and then put it into our product. That company was charging what we charge as our membership fee just for that software.

You have a very interesting thing. If I’m a VC reading this and I’m interested, where are you in the funding stage of all this?

We are very capital efficient. Part of the benefit of being in Canada is it’s not like in Silicon Valley where an engineer is like $300,000. We realized you burn a whole lot of capital. We’ve raised investment monies. We have raised capital for our business. If you’re a VC it’s, what does the market look like ultimately? What does it look like when businesses can train students for the job market? What does the world look like when you’ve democratized skills training where anyone with internet can now get training and can accelerate their career potential? What does that world look like?

I’m curious what your growth potential is or what you’re looking for? Are you looking to be bought out? Where do you see the future of this going?

If you look at it, a few companies want to acquire us because if you look at the market right now, predominantly what was offered is eLearning on the internet. This is how people get skills is through content and there are a lot of content providers, Skillshare, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Pluralsight, you name it and there are a ton of people that do content online, but then you look at how do people apply that content? There’s a platform you can practice and you can get applicable skills and work experience ultimately. That doesn’t exist there. You can go to a job board and try to get some internship or co-op program, but that’s not what those things are meant for per se.

The relationships are very different and the instructions are very different. When you look at that, you can imagine where big learning company like maybe LinkedIn or something, they wanted to acquire this type of platform. That was not our goal. Our goal is to achieve our mission of accelerating human potential and enabling businesses to train students for the job market. We’re trying to marketize job training to enable anyone to get training for free, wherever they are in the world. Whichever is the best way of doing that, whether it’s getting acquired or maybe going to an IPO down the line, is what we’re going towards.

The mentorship is such a huge thing. I’m on a couple of boards that deal with mentorship in itself. You’re taking this to a whole new level. I could see a lot of potentials. It’s amazing what you’ve done so far and how long have you been working on this?

We’ve launched it in the marketplace, September of 2017, so it’s a few years. We were working on the eLearning coursework for our platform for a little while before we have it in the marketplace. We built a whole marketing curriculum, which is available for free on iOS, Android and the web. It’s a beautiful curriculum. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn. It’s on our site. It’s totally free. If you want to learn digital marketing, it’s a complete curriculum focused on digital marketing. We did that for a bit and then we moved onto the marketplace.

Where is that located in your site? Is it under businesses or students?

It’s under students. We have a new site. It’s rebranded to Acadium and it’s going to be live.

It will be I’m interested in the certification aspect because I offer training in my site for curiosity in the sense that I certified people and they get a certification. SHRM recertification for example. What’s the recognizing authority in your certification? Is it your company itself or is there some other authority behind the certification?

The number one signal is going to be the work experience. The certification is the value-add. It’s from the business owner. It’s a certification that says, “You’ve successfully completed an apprenticeship in social media working with this business owner.” It comes with a reference letter from that business owner. It’s a bundled thing and you can put it on your LinkedIn. You should check out, there’s a company called Accredible that does certifications. It makes beautiful certifications that can be shared very easily. If you use certifications, you would want us to use their platform for that.

We all have our unique perspective that’s influenced by our background. Click To Tweet

What you’re doing has so much potential because I’ve had people on my show who have worked with Salesforce, who are doing it with blockchain to keep track of education and different things. I could see many different potentials of keeping track of people, what they’ve learned, their badges or whatever you want to call it. There are certifications in a blockchain format where they can take it from employer to employer instead of, “Here’s my degree.” Instead, you’ve got to pick and choose à la carte menu of what I really know. What I’d like to see in something like not what you do, but in education in the future is if we start doing à la carte things, I don’t want to lose the soft skills part.

The humanities part and the things that they learned in college. It’s something to consider how they are getting those skills, the ability to work together, the communication, emotional intelligence and that type of thing. A lot of that is the glue. It’s something that I like to see. What you’re doing is impressive to me. When I was looking at this, I’m like, “This is up to my alley of everything I deal with.” I was excited to have you on to talk about this. A lot of people are going to want to know how to find out more. It will be at, right now it’s at Is there any other link or anything you’d like to share? I want to make sure that everybody can reach you.

The is fine for the links. If there are businesses in the audience that want to get leverage in their business in digital marketing and are willing to provide mentorship back to an apprentice for that help, this is the best place to come and do that and definitely share out. If there are readers who want to learn digital marketing, we have the best platform in the world for that. There is no better platform for that. I highly recommend to come check us out at

Thank you so much for being on the show, Moe. This was fascinating.

Applying Emotional Intelligence With Justin Bariso

I am here with Justin Bariso who is an internationally known author and speaker who helps organizations and individuals develop their emotional intelligence. His thoughts on leadership and EQ have been featured by Time, NBC, Forbes, Inc., you name it. LinkedIn named him a top voice in the field of management and workplace culture. His new book, EQ Applied, shares fascinating researches, modern examples and personal stories that illustrate how emotional intelligence works in the real world. It’s nice to have you here, Justin.

Thank you, Diane. I’m very happy to be here.

I love anytime we get to talk about emotional intelligence. This is going to be right up my alley of what I like to talk about. It’s interesting. You might find this funny because when I wrote about emotional intelligence and call it, and when I was in university, I was going to write about sales performance. I had no idea what I wanted to correlate it to. I thought, “Let’s see what makes people better at sales.” I had a teacher who randomly says, “Do you mean you’re going to write about emotional intelligence and its relationship to sales?” I had no idea what he was talking about, I go, “Yeah.” That’s how I fell into it. I’d like to know how you fell into it. Can you give a little background?

It’s not too far off from that as far as stumbling into it. My background is I worked for years for a nonprofit in New York City. It was very mission-driven and what I call very forward-thinking because we’ve got a lot of training in managerial skills and dealing with people, showing empathy, but they never once called it emotional intelligence. My wife is from Germany. I moved to Germany several years ago and started my own consulting business working with German executives. As far as managerial process and style, the US are slowly coming along. In Germany, they are even much further behind. There’s this German phrase that I learned very quickly when I moved over here as I was working with the direct reports to the managers and they said, “Nicht schimpfen ist genug gelobt,” which loosely translated as “Not getting cursed out is enough praise in the workplace.”

TTL 634 | Apprenticeship And Mentoring
Apprenticeship And Mentoring: Emotional intelligence is being able to understand emotions in yourself and others, then being able to process and manage that.


That gives you an idea. There’s very little praise or commendation in the workplace. That intrigued me because my job was helping them with communication skills. Drawing on my background, a lot of times, I ended up speaking about how we can relate better to people. How can we motivate people? I started writing about that, specifically the emotional intelligence field. I felt like there was this gap in the literature. You talked about having Goleman on your show before who obviously I loved. I’ve learned so much from him through the years. I felt like there was this gap for very simple, what are practical tips that I can walk away and be able to put something into practice?

That’s when I started writing about it for Inc. originally and the column blew up. People seem to appreciate that angle. That’s how it started. I’ve written more and more on that and then the deeper dive was the book which was published in 2018. I’m enjoying spreading the word and helping companies because we see a resurgence. This is not new stuff. It’s been around for decades and the principle has been around for millenniums. It’s going through resurgence because of the way the world is headed right now. You also have a lot of newer generation workers that aren’t so familiar with the principles. I’m enjoying spreading the word.

What year did you start talking about emotional intelligence?

It’s not that long. It’s been a few years as far as researching it specifically and writing about it specifically in those terms.

In the last few years, you start to see more and more people go, “I’ll start to know more about this.” I’m still surprised by how many places request emotional intelligence as one of the top things. It’s something that many people struggle with. You hear the term and maybe think you know what it is or you think that you’ve mastered some of these skills and yet everybody still struggles with it.

That’s part of the problem that’s been around for a while. It has become ubiquitous as someone commented on a post. I love reading the comments because it’s such a learning experience too to see what the audience thinks of as emotional intelligence. He was very anti-EI and he was saying, “There is no real working definition for emotional intelligence. It’s this feel-good set of principles that everyone changes.” I think that’s what happened in the last 10 to 15 years. Since so many people were talking about it, the real meaning of it got lost.

Emotional intelligence isn’t being nice to people. Sometimes people call it common sense, but it’s not really that. This is a real set of principles. It could be used for good or bad. That’s one thing that a lot of people don’t realize, but people can also use emotional intelligence to manipulate others. It’s not always a feel-good thing. That’s the thing is it became so ubiquitously that people lost the meaning or what is it exactly. Companies too are interested now in getting back to the basics and teaching people what exactly it is and how to use it effectively.

I asked my students because I still teach quite a bit about why they think the definition changes so much. There are many researchers out there. You’ve got the MSCEIT and Bar-On EQ-i. You’ve got all these different assessments and they all have different categories for the sub-categories. All that underneath falls under emotional intelligence based on what they named it, what they researched it, their factor analysis and things that they’ve done. It can have a different basic definition. To some extent, I could see why you would say that a little bit, but in general, it’s understanding your emotions in there and other people’s emotions and then acting appropriately. It is the overall thinking. How would you define it?

First of all, identifying and understanding. It’s being able to understand emotions in yourself and others, then being able to process and manage that. Sometimes that means acting on my emotions. Sometimes it means holding back based on what I’m feeling at the time and also being able to read others. We live in this age where everybody wants these simple bite-size things. The tagline on my book is, “Emotional intelligence is making emotions work for you instead of against you.” It’s being able to understand and manage emotions in a way that is positive for you.

Sometimes things need to be handled right there and then, but many times it's just a matter of pausing. Click To Tweet

I think that’s important. Some people have almost split emotional intelligence into understanding yourself and understanding others. Their emotion is a two-part factor. I looked at it that way a little bit when I was writing about perception in my next book. Perception ties into emotional intelligence in many ways as well because to understand somebody and see their side of anything, you have to have empathy. A lot of people only look at things from their own unique perception. How does emotional intelligence tie into perception?

We all have our unique perspective. It’s influenced by our background, by our work, by who we’re surrounded by, whether or not we’re married. How many brothers and sisters we have? What culture we grew up in and all those things? We all have these blind spots and the key, that’s why it all begins with self-awareness, is first of all recognizing that. Many people don’t recognize that and they see the world this way. Even if we think we’re right, which most of the time most of us do, it’s being able to understand the other person’s perspective. I learned this from Chris Voss who taught me great things about empathy.

For any readers that don’t know him, he’s a former lead kidnap investigator for the FBI and wrote a great book on negotiation, Never Split the Difference. He summed up empathy with a sentence. They’re five words. He told me, “Empathy does not equal agreement.” That was eye-opening for me and he was the perfect one to be able to teach that point because Chris was negotiating with hardened criminals, with terrorists, with kidnappers. Of course, he couldn’t agree with them. He didn’t agree with their methods. He didn’t agree with what they are trying to do, but he had to learn to understand them. If he couldn’t understand where they’re coming from, if he couldn’t understand why they’re in the situation they’re in or why they’re asking for what they’re asking for, there’s no way he was ever going to be able to get out of that situation in a positive way.

Hopefully, we’re not dealing with hardened criminals on an everyday basis, but the principle still applies, which is being able to understand people, their motivations and why they’re doing things without necessarily agreeing with them. That’s a lot easier said than done. That’s another reason why emotional intelligence is in demand and such a difficult thing to learn. We like the idea of it, we liked the sound of it and we think, “I can do that,” but then when the pressure is on, even with people that we care about like I’ve been studying this topic for years. I still make such a dumb mistake sometimes with my wife and I’m like, “Why did I say that?” It’s a total miss on her perspective and being able to see things from her eyes, but I’m learning.

We all are. It’s a hard thing. Nobody’s got a 100% score thing on this. It’s always developing. It’s a growing thing. I think that Goleman’s work was important in that area, especially in leadership, to see that this is something that we can improve. We knew IQ was more in stone than EQ and all of this has led to all these different Qs. We have cultural quotients and curiosity quotient. I think that they’re trying to quantify something that’s very hard to quantify, but it’s something we need to be able to track and measure because all of the workplace issues, we know that communication and conflict is one of the biggest costs that companies face. If we could work on emotional intelligence, that’s such a huge step. If you’re hired for your skills and you’re fired for your behaviors, we need to focus on those behaviors. You talked about giving practical tips and looking at the gap. In research, we always say, “Look for the gap in the research,” and that’s what you found. What are some of the practical tips that you could share to help people develop their EQ?

One thing I talked about in the book, I tried to think of a good illustration or teaching tool that people could carry around with them that would be easy to remember. It’s the age of Netflix, everybody’s streaming. A few years from now, we’ll say it’s the age of Netflix, Disney and Hulu is so many nowadays. Netflix was big at the time when I was writing the book and I thought of what I hoped would be a nice illustration that could help people remember. It’s like we’re watching a film or a TV show on Netflix, you have all these controls at your fingertips. You can pause, you can turn the volume up and down, you can mute, you can rewind.

I tried to use that to communicate some simple things people can do like the pause. It’s the most simple one. It’s the biggest tool that we need to use every day. It’s simply taking a pause at the right time before you say or do something. That’s why some people call it common sense, but it’s hard to put in practice. We’ve all had the time where we sent an angry email and response to somebody like, “What are they telling them about?” and you’re emotional like, “I’m going to respond to this right now.” An hour later you’re like, “What did I do?” We stick our foot in our mouth in some other way. The pause is taking a few seconds to stop yourself before responding or reacting.

I talked about that in terms of I learned this trick from Craig Ferguson, the television personality. He was giving an interview and he said, “I learned many years ago before you say anything, you have to ask yourself three questions. Does this need to be said? Does this need to be said by me? Does this need to be said by me now?” He jokes that it took him three marriages to learn this lesson. It’s funny because we laugh at that and so it sticks in our mind. Diane, I’ll tell you, I use those three questions every single day at work, at home and most of the time the answer to at least one of them is no. I bite my tongue, but then plenty of times the answer to all three questions is, “Yes, it needs to be said, it needs to be said by me and it needs to be said now,” and then great.

TTL 634 | Apprenticeship And Mentoring
Apprenticeship And Mentoring: If you’re upset and you come at someone frustrated, usually that’s the reaction you get back.


You have the confidence to say it. Sometimes things need to be handled right then but many times, it’s just a matter of pausing. A lot of times, you get through the first two questions. Yes, it needs to be said. Yes, I need to say it, but it’s not the right time. In the work context, sometimes you do have to speak up about things right away. Many times if you do, the person’s not going to respond well to it. If you find the right time, later on, the right circumstances and you have a one-to-one with that person, you can get a lot further and make it through the person. That’s one, then I get into all these others.

I want to touch on that because I’m interested in the introvert versus extrovert part of that. Introverts tend to think and then speak, extroverts tend to think as they speak. That tip could be particularly helpful for extroverts, don’t you think?

Yeah, definitely.

As an extrovert, it’s very hard for us sometimes to think about what we’re saying because that’s how we process. We’re thinking out loud as we’re formulating and then it comes out as we’re thinking it. For introverts, they may seem more intelligent in a way because they’re thinking of it, but it’s their preference. They’re able to process their thoughts and then come out with a more formulated idea. It would be interesting to see the research on who puts their foot in their mouth more. I’m sure it’s the extroverts and how that ties into emotional intelligence.

For introverts, you hit on a great point there. Those three questions, you may not necessarily need because your challenge may be speaking up at the right time. You may feel too nervous like in a meeting context for example, at work. I recommend they ask themselves, “Will I regret not speaking up? Will I regret not saying this?” Sometimes asking themselves those quick questions can give them the motivation to go ahead and say something that they wouldn’t otherwise. That’s how we go back to self-awareness. Getting to know ourselves and what our tendencies are and then developing questions that can help us, these little tools like these three questions which can help us and our personality and being able to manage emotions at the moment.

Managing of emotions is fascinating. When you were talking about the introvert-extrovert thing, I’m imagining a lot of talks I’ve given. I’ve asked people, “How many of you here think, ‘I wish I hadn’t said that?’” All the extroverts raise their hands and then you asked, “How many of you here wish, ‘I had said that?’” That’s how you find the introverts and extroverts are because we all have this different preference for how we process our information. All these tips are super helpful and you can tailor them to your personality needs. Are there any other tips that you want to share?

I’ll speak on that Netflix method. Volume control is another one. Being able to dial it back and I would credit my wife for teaching me this, which is the way you approach a conversation is usually how people respond. If you’re upset and you come at someone frustrated, usually that’s the reaction you get back. If you’re very calm and rational when you’re going to a conversation, then usually at least in the beginning, that’s the reaction you get back. When you’re on the receiving end, being able to dial things back even if someone comes at you frustrated, resisting that urge to come back the exact same way, which can quickly escalate.

No matter how skilled we are at our jobs, we are still going to have weaknesses, blind spots, and places that we need to work on. Click To Tweet

Being able to dial that volume back and it works along with the pause. You take a moment to gather your own feelings and then ask questions calmly, but then that can help the conversation to go on a lot better way than it would otherwise. I want to get into all of them but muting yourself and listening. Sometimes there’s no need in talking because if the other person is in a real emotional state, you can say whatever you want. It’s not going to help, if anything, it’s going to hurt. If you focus on listening, any talking that you do, maybe ask a couple of questions to help you better understand the other person, why they feel the way they do or why they’re in that state. That’s the mute and then the record. Biting your tongue is the mute, but then the record is listening to what they have to say and being able to come back to it and revisit it at a later time. A lot of times, the timing is what it has to do with managing emotions. It’s being able to take ourselves out of the moment and then come back to it later on.

It’s something that many people struggle with. What I found interesting and I’ve shared the stage with Travis Bradberry in the past. I know he talked about this and something I saw, that CEOs have some of the lowest levels of emotional intelligence in some of the research he did. Even though we see that isn’t necessarily the case all the time, I think that at a certain point you’re getting out of direct contact with people. Maybe right at the beginning, you’re getting promoted because you’re interacting, you have all this connectivity with people. Your emotional intelligence was good, you get promoted but then you’re back there looking at this dress or looking at the balance sheets, EBITDA and whatever else you’re dealing with all day long. What advice do you give to CEOs who maybe their level isn’t as high as it could be because their job has put them out of touch?

That is a major point right there is getting out of touch. Maybe they were and this isn’t always the case, but there are many times where they were more emotionally intelligent earlier on. Maybe they had a certain weakness that gets exacerbated because they’re there now in this position, where people aren’t giving them honest feedback anymore, whether it’s out of fear or whatever it is. The number one thing for someone in a position like that is to find someone that’s going to give you honest feedback and to try to build a culture where people feel comfortable and safe giving you that honest feedback. No matter how skilled we are at our jobs or even low EQ or EI, I don’t know which term you prefer, but lower high, we still are going to have these weaknesses. We’re still going to have these blind spots and we still have places that we need to work on.

That’s why continuing to get that feedback is so vital because those blind spots are going to grow once you’re in a position like that, where people aren’t going to give you the feedback you need. I’ve been able to speak publicly for many years and many times people will tell you, “You did a great job. I enjoyed this.” It’s rare that someone will tell you something that you did wrong or that you need to work on. I gave a talk and it was a good friend of mine that came to me afterward. We had something completely different to talk about afterward. Afterward, he went through, “I loved your speech. This is what I loved about it, this and that.” I said, “Give me something I could have done better.” He’s British, so you got to get it out of him, but he’s good. His first reaction was, “I can’t think of anything. Okay, maybe one thing,” and right away.

TTL 634 | Apprenticeship And Mentoring
EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence

I was so thankful that he told me this thing because it was something I was totally blind to and I never would’ve thought of it in a million years. As soon as he said, it made total sense and I could see why it would be a put-off to the audience. That’s the thing. That’s what we need. We need that honest and real feedback so people that are in those positions like executives are finding someone to do that. There are many different ways to do that. You can hire a coach or you can get an advisor, but if you can have people right there on your team, and that’s why I said building the culture that supports that. It’s easier said than done. That takes some time and thought, how can we build that safe environment, where people can tell me when I’m wrong and not be afraid to say, “Tell me what I’m completely missing something?” Then being open to that too. I think that’s the most helpful thing.

In my mind, you think of the Steve Jobs of the world. Who’s going to tell them? That’s the problem, but then the people who want to get improve hire people. Those are the greatest cultures because they’ve gone out to look for help. As you said, you don’t know what you don’t know. Even Daniel Goleman said, “Having a 360 was one of the most helpful tools in the whole emotional intelligence training.” Emotional intelligence ties into many different areas. I’m glad that it was able to be something I fell into and it sounds like you ran into as well. What you get from that can help in many different areas of business if you can work on that. A lot of people could benefit from your book EQ Applied and from reading all your work. You’re in Inc.’s most popular columnists and you’re obviously a speaker. Everything that you do is focused on this important skill. How could people find out more?

The biggest thing is the book. The book is available in most retailers. You can find it on Amazon. It’s probably the way most people are buying books nowadays, but Barnes & Noble or Apple Books or any of that stuff too. It’s EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence. I also have a website. I blog on the topic because a lot of it, I’m collecting stuff that I’ve written before through Inc. EQ Applied is the name of the blog. Almost every day you’ll find something new on there or you can check out the column on as well.

Thank you, Justin. This was so interesting. I love all this and I hope ever everybody has a chance to check out your book and your work. I enjoyed having you on the show.

Thank you very much, Diane. It was a great conversation.

You’re welcome.

I’d like to thank both Moe and Justin for being my guests. We get many great guests on the show. If you’ve missed any past shows, please go to You can also listen to the shows about everywhere, iTunes, iHeart, Roku, everywhere else and on the site. Everything you need to know about anything I’m working on in terms of Cracking the Curiosity Code, the book or the Curiosity Code Index, everything is there if you drop down the curiosity information from the top. I hope you enjoyed this episode and I hope you join us for the next episode of Take the Lead Radio.

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About Moe Abbas

TTL 634 | Apprenticeship And MentoringMoe Abbas is the CEO at GenM where they make job training free and accessible to anyone. He Co-Founded the Canadian General Contractor Group of companies.

He led the group from an office basement in Canada to $20 million in sales.

About Justin Bariso

TTL 634 | Apprenticeship And MentoringJustin Bariso is an internationally known author and speaker who helps organizations and individuals develop their emotional intelligence. His thoughts on leadership and EQ have been featured by TIME, NBC, Forbes, and—where his weekly column draws over a million readers a month.

LinkedIn named him a “Top Voice” in the field of management and workplace culture three years in a row. His new book, EQ Applied, shares fascinating research, modern examples, and personal stories that illustrate how emotional intelligence works in the real world.

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