Unleashing Employee Influence

Hosted By Matt DeCoursey

Full Scale

See All Episodes With Matt DeCoursey

Nancy Lyons

Today's Guest: Nancy Lyons

CEO and Founder - Clockwork Interactive

Minneapolis, MN

Ep. #1197 - Unleashing Employee Influence

Today’s episode of Startup Hustle features Matt DeCoursey and Nancy Lyons, CEO and founder of Clockwork Interactive. They gain a better understanding of unleashing employee influence on culture. Listen to Nancy and Matt discuss what employee engagement really means and why employees should be establishing the company culture. As a bonus, you’ll also hear several of Matt’s “Dad Jokes” about entrepreneurship!

Covered In This Episode

A Gallup poll indicates that most (85 percent) employees are not engaged or actively disengaged in the workplace. They do the minimum to make it through the workday, and productivity suffers. Clockwork Interactive focuses on unleashing employee influence on culture to improve outcomes.

The conversation between Matt and Nancy explores the nuances of employee engagement and how we should work in an organization. Nancy’s backstory bolsters her belief in the importance of company engagement and establishing a community culture. They also touch on the role of AI, Nancy’s books, and more.

Get Started with Full Scale

It doesn’t take much to make your employees more productive through engagement. Learn more from the fast-paced exchange of ideas in this Startup Hustle episode.

Podcast for Starting a Business


  • Nancy’s backstory (1:05)
  • The nuances of employee engagement (5:51)
  • The “how” we should work in an organization (14:31)
  • Company engagement and culture (16:58)
  • The importance of establishing a community culture (21:32)
  • Employee engagement should be defined by the community (28:34)
  • Nancy’s books (33:31)
  • The role of AI and technology in employee engagement (36:42)
  • Matt’s dad jokes (39:54)
  • Engagement is all about making people happy (47:42)
  • Unleash engagement by asking people (51:09)

Key Quotes

Engagement is something we have to invest in and explicitly ask for. As organizations, we have to decide what that looks like, especially in smaller organizations. I think we expect participation in culture and the health of the organization and in that connective tissue that keeps people coming back because they might see you or me. But it’s not you who’s going to keep them. It’s the people they work with. It’s how the organization shows up collectively that will attract them in the first place.

– Nancy Lyons

Everyone that I talked to that has been in the space or specializes in it, they’re trying to make things better for a consumer. And, for me, just take me straight to what I want. Clockwork is different because we’re a technology consultancy, but we have a change practice. Because most organizations, when they invest in technology, it fails because they’re not taking the people along with them. So we really work hard to take the people along with our clients.

– Nancy Lyons

When it comes to the definition of a company’s culture, I’m personally a strong believer that it can and should be defined and created by the community itself. In some regards, if it’s just about what your big grand idea is as the CEO and you have hundreds of employees, then that’s it. That’s a selfish approach. I don’t like the idea that employee engagement should always be around work engagement.

– Matt DeCoursey

I used to say all the time that people imagine, we’re just having a party every day, we’re on skateboards, and we’re playing ping pong. And we’re actually not working at all. But I think that’s because our culture really confuses gimmicks with culture. And I think culture is much more intentional.

– Nancy Lyons

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Rough Transcript

Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!

Matt DeCoursey  0:00

And we’re back, back for another episode of Startup Hustle. Matt DeCoursey here to have another conversation on hoping helps your business grow. If you want your business to grow, you probably need to give some time and consideration to how you can unleash employee engagement. There’s a lot to unpack there, and we’re going to try to get it all in today’s episode, which is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult.Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And as a platform to help you manage that team. Go to FullScale.io to learn more. Joining me for today’s conversation is Nancy Lyons. Nancy is the CEO and founder at Clockwork, you can go to Clockwork.com. There’s a link for that in the show notes. It’s right next to the Full Scale link. Why don’t you just go ahead and scroll on down to that and click both of them to know what we’re talking about a little bit. Straight out of one of the Twin Cities, many of that Minneapolis, Minnesota, Nancy, welcome to Startup Hustle.


Nancy Lyons  1:03

Thank you. I appreciate you for inviting me.


Matt DeCoursey  1:05

Yeah, I’m looking forward to this conversation. We’ve done a lot at Full Scale to increase employee engagement. We even have an Employee Engagement Manager. So but where I’d really like to start the conversation is learning a little bit more about your backstory and your journey that brought you to us today.


Nancy Lyons  1:22

Well, thanks. I, I always appreciate telling the story because it’s a sort of non-traditional path. But I never thought that I would spend my entire career working in technology. I actually thought I was going to be an actor or a comic. So go figure. And, and interestingly enough, you know, when I started working in this space, a lot of my colleagues were musicians and artists as well. So I’m, you know, I’ve been working in technology since the 90s. I actually just yesterday was talking to somebody cuz I was doing dinner theater at night. And I was working at a, at an early internet service provider by day. And it was, in fact an Internet service provider that I ended up being the president of and that we sold but it was a premier residential provider in the Twin Cities. And it was, you know, it was before the big telcos came into monopolize the entire game. And we started building websites in 1995. So that’s how long I have been doing this work since most people that I talk to on a daily basis were zygotes. And we sold that company, we built websites for BASF, and M&M Mars and Miller Coors and then we that company was acquired in 2001. And in 2002, we started Clockwork, and Clockwork is a experienced design and technology consultancy. And we work with a wide number of corporate enterprises, ranging from companies like OPTiM to Ameriprise to Mercury Marine to UnitedHealth Group. We spend a lot of time in regulated industries. So we work with financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, and insurance a lot. Super exciting business. But we’re helping, you know, a lot of these organizations that are regulated who have sort of been slow to adopt technology shift and I my, my business partners and I, self-taught, you know, we I like I said, I want to be an actor and I decided to learn Pearl one day because that’s what you do. And really developed a theoretical understanding of how the business is going to work and was able to get involved in that internet service provider and change and shift into digital creation, design, development. And then once that was acquired, Clockwork became sort of our central focus. We also have another studio called Tempo. And Tempo is low-code, no-code agile. As you’re probably aware, the business that we’re in right now can sort of plod along because big companies move slower. And Tempo is really really exists to serve startups and small to mid-sized, mid-sized organizations who are dealing with more pressure to actually just get it done and get out there to launch.


Matt DeCoursey  4:29

Okay. Now, you know, you mentioned you want it you thought you would be a comic. I would probably not being fair to you or the listening audience to not share a couple of the dad jokes that I wrote about on entrepreneurship.


Nancy Lyons  4:45

Yes. I would love to hear them. I would feel cheated if I didn’t.


Matt DeCoursey  4:48

And and i know i was like i. This is the perfect chance. So you know, I wrote my pitch deck in Braille. I’m gonna get funded, I can feel it.


Nancy Lyons  5:02

All right, I’ll give it to you. That’s good. That’s good.


Matt DeCoursey  5:04

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Either dad jokes, like,


Nancy Lyons  5:08

Right out of the gate.


Matt DeCoursey  5:11

Yeah. Okay, so I asked the venture capitalist when I’d get funded, and he said March 1st, so I walked around the office and I asked.


Nancy Lyons  5:24

I like it. Like.


Matt DeCoursey  5:26

All right, I got got, like, 20 of these, but I’ve only if you want to hear the rest of them, go find me on social media, because I did publish them. Some of them have been big hits. So you know, the last thing I wanted to share is, you know, I have a fear of elevator pitches. And so I’m taking steps to avoid.


Nancy Lyons  5:46

Oh, I think it’s early, and I appreciate them.


Matt DeCoursey  5:51

Listeners, I might break out some more of these. So anyway, you know, yeah, I mean, Wi Fi. And yesterday, I got back to the office, and I found my co founder had been on eBay all day. I mean, if I find him again, tomorrow, I’ll lower the price. Yeah. So there’s one more my investor says, I have two major faults. I don’t listen. And all right, that’s enough. Anyway, back to employee engagement. Yeah. Okay. I mentioned the employee engagements and important thing, and thank you for listening to my jokes. Hopefully, you all I felt the clapping of listeners around the world there. But no, but when you talk about when I think about employee engagement, for us at Full Scale, we’re just a little context software development. We have 325 employees, most of which are in the Philippines, and then march 2020 occurred and they sent everyone home to go work. With that the in-office culture and everything that we had spent years developing and making awesome, was useless. It wasn’t the same. It was it required a whole different thing. So we created a position for employee engagement and, and for a couple different reasons. One, health, mental health, you know, people were basically during the pandemic, you know, locked in their, in their homes, and it was kind of a lonely existence. And also, we wanted to create a sense of community virtually, which involved in some other things to like, you know, we do quarterly events that do get people together in person, we still have, we still are remote only. But you know, this, the employee engagement programs, I think, had a lot to do. So in 2022, the Wall Street Journal had deemed that the year of the resignation, but we have a 93% employee retention rate, which is huge, huge in any year. And we feel that the employee engagement efforts, which are everything from cont, contests, clubs, different things that are just kind of getting people involved in creating a sense of community were really important. Now, I know that the word tribes is on the naughty list for use for a lot of people. But there is a book called Tribes by Seth Godin, which is all about creating a sense of community, and I’ve read it and I think it’s a very important thing. Because by by creating by doing effective employee engagement, you should also be, in my opinion, be working on getting them to engage with each other, if you can create that sense of community. Now, Seth Godin uses the example of the Grateful Dead, which I think is a great example, because people follow that band all around the world. And if and if you’ve ever been, and I’m old enough to have gone to a Grateful Dead concert, half the people were there for the parking lot, and half of them are there for the show. But that gives you a good example of the tribe find if you can get people people find as much value in interacting with each other in the community, that becomes a more powerful draw than the main attraction that’s on stage, which could be the company or the founder or like something you’re or maybe even the product that you’re working on. So how do you feel about all that?


Nancy Lyons  9:07

Yeah, I mean, I think we we’ve sort of applied a really shallow definition to this idea of engagement when it comes to employees. You know, engagement is send them a survey once a week, ask them how they’re doing. Engagement is, you know, I mean, when we were all in the same place, it was, you know, we got caught up in gimmicks, put, put soda in the fridge and tell them it’s free, that’s engagement. And I think, you know, it’s much more nuanced than that. And it’s, it’s also two way, it’s not, we don’t just engage them, they must be engaging, and they must recognize their responsibility and engaging each other. So I, you know, I am with you in that. I think that engagement is something we have to invest in. Engagement is something we get to explicitly ask for. And I think as organizations we have to decide what that looks like. So, you know, I talked about engagement in a really different way. Because I know a lot of folks have talked about engagement or talking about, you know, what, what can we do to make them happy. And I think, especially in smaller organizations like yours and mine, you know, not not tiny but small, compared to, you know, the big, big corporate entities, I think we can have an expectation of participation in culture, and in the health of the organization, and in that connective tissue that keeps people coming back because they might see you or me. They might hear your podcast and say, I got an apply for a job here. But it’s not you who’s going to keep them. You know, it’s the people they work with. It’s how the organization shows up collectively that will attract them in the first place. So yeah, I think engagement is a much broader topic than we generally explore in these conversations.


Matt DeCoursey  10:56

Yeah, when I think about employee engagement, a weekly or monthly survey does not make my list. Like, that stuff’s important, but that’s more that’s HR data. That’s not engagement, that’s feedback from the community engaging is is okay, so I, I have a heavy hand and the beginning of this, and then they kind of ran with it. Because engagement to me needed to be things that people wanted to do, and things that we could do with each other that built a sense of team or whatever that you know, like, and then in a remote environment, like okay, well, there had to there’s invariably, almost certainly someone that you met during the pandemic, yet a zoom relationship, or you had with with them, and you finally meet him in person, you’re like, oh, man, it’s great to finally meet you, changes the dynamic. That’s, that’s an example of engagement, creating something where people can do that with each other. Now, part of what made me feel so strongly about this was, I had been trying to recruit a senior manager to come from a company in the Philippines to work for our company in the Philippines. I just couldn’t get this guy to come on board. And finally, I messaged him, I’m like, just teach me why didn’t you want to cut? And you know what he said to me, he goes, well, you offered me significantly more money. But in the end, he didn’t want to quit his job because he didn’t he played basketball on a team with a bunch of his friends. He didn’t want to quit the team. Yeah. I mean, thinking about that. That’s, to me, that was kind of wild. I was like, whoa, but it also really showed, like, his engagement and involvement with the other people that he worked with, and the high value that was put on that and like, think about that, that’s a weird thing, because you’re like, I can’t, I offered him a significant pay increase, the benefits were better. Yeah, for that reason. And you know, that’s, and I was, and that’s why I was like, man, we really got to, I really wanted to get some things going that would make our employees like find more value other than just a paycheck. So


Nancy Lyons  13:02

Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, as leaders of organizations, we can set the voice and the tone. We can inspire and encourage, but we need, you know, it’s interesting. I use this analogy, and some people are like, shocked by it, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and imagine that you won’t be I mean, I heard your dad jokes. I’m just gonna say I


Matt DeCoursey  13:28

got another, I got another one. So


Nancy Lyons  13:30

let’s close out with that. When when we’re all done. Just lay it on us. We’ll leave laughing


Matt DeCoursey  13:39

or wait till the last possible.


Nancy Lyons  13:42

Tell me. I enjoyed them. I laughed, I’m in. But I often compare work to cults. And hear me out hear that word cult you know, we’re all I mean, so many people consume my head. Yeah, true crime. And we’re all much more familiar with so many cults, especially after the pandemic, when you know, podcasts were a huge form of entertainment and, and learning. And we see these leaders as being the instigators of the criminal activity. But the truth of the matter is, let’s look at Jim Jones, for instance, did you know that your podcasts would take this turn today? Let’s look at Jim Jones. And


Matt DeCoursey  14:23

we will be talking about that what Jonestowns and then the world’s largest mass suicides?


Nancy Lyons  14:30

Sure, just call Nancy Lyons if you want to get sensation, call me. Um, but when we look at that, you know, tragic as that story is, Jim Jones set the stage but the other cult members were the ones who, who made the Kool Aid, who served the Kool Aid and who forced the Kool Aid on the victims of that horrible event. And I think that’s an exactly, and I think that’s a perfect illustration of how unhealthy cultures work at work. You know, the CEO can be, can set the tone, and in fact can be inspiring and can be, you know, somebody who encourages progressive thinking in the workplace, and kind of embrace all the new ways of working. But if in the, you know, the layers of the organization, there exists people with influence, who continue to sort of do things the way they always were, they’ve always been done or continue to lament, you know, the past and continue to try to connect with it. We’re not going to change, we’re not going to create a healthier culture. They’re going to continue to point backward. And you know, they’re they feel better with the past. The past is known. The future is unknown, that makes people anxious. And I, you know, and we hear it everywhere. I mean, I was just saying to my dad the other day, when we were having this uncomfortable political conversation that, you know, the reason that we look backward to the good old days is because it’s known, we’re familiar with it. But then I asked him, you know, he’s an 85-year-old man, I said, but Dad, when were the good old days? Was it during the Depression? Was it during, you know, the Korean War? Was it when, during the Civil Rights Movement, was it in the set? Like, when were the good old? What was actually so good that there was no, you know, there were no horror stories, there was no discomfort, there was no poverty, actually never and, and yet, we romanticize backwards. And I think that’s true of of work. I think that’s true of organization. That’s why we keep having these conversations about where we should work, instead of how we should work, right? And I think the how involves more people inside of the organization, more active conversations, more explicit requests. I think the how is far more complicated, and requires people’s participation, to explore, to determine to define and to work.


Matt DeCoursey  16:58

Yeah, they got to feel good about it. So I’ll share another employee engagement thing that accomplishes more than just employee like employee engagement, we actually created a holiday in house holiday that we call outreach day, where we spent our admin staff spends quite a bit of effort finding a number of charitable causes or community things that we can do. And we give everybody a day off to go participate in that if they want. And it’s a big thing at our company. And now imagine 300 people showing up. And, and so there they feel, so that accomplishes a number of things. One, they get to engage with each other. And then that’s the that’s like the third stage, like the meaning like that’s not even the main event, the main event is feeling like they’re giving back and then doing it within their own communities with so last year, or this year, we planted hundreds of trees, we cleaned up like a mile of beach. We installed solar panels at schools that were off grid. And we also have an animal rescue where we showed up and just did a bunch of work and you know, cleaned out painted did a bunch of stuff like that. And we and we had last year we adopted an eagle. And that same thing I didn’t. Yeah, I didn’t even realize we had a cot. But but we spun that into reason I mentioned that as we spun that into an employee engagement contest, where we did a, like a reductive process to name the eagle, which got named C#, like yeah, coding software, which was a great, great name for for an eagle. And we announced that at the company Christmas party. So you see, you can get these things that kind of tie into each other and, and I think that I don’t know, I pride myself at being able to create quality hype on Sundays, but but that’s what it is. Yeah, get people involved with it. And I think that one of the you know, later when we did an actual HR-type, anonymous employee engagement and feedback survey, I mean, we got overwhelming amounts of comments about how they that our employees felt like the company cared about them, and also cares about the community it operates in. They feel very, they have a sense of pride to to work for a company that comes in and contributes to the to the well being of the local community. Now, keep in mind in the Philippines. It’s that’s over the, you know, the course of many of our employees lifetimes, I’ve also watched are still do watch a lot of exploitation-type stuff where foreign companies or companies come in and want to exploit the local resources or people or we’re on the opposite end of that we’re trying to disrupt that. And like I said, you get into that and people feel really good about it. I think the thing is As if your employees feel good, and take a pride to have a sense of pride in where they work and who they work with, and that culture, man that the there’s, there’s a lot for sure. So a lot, it’s a very for sure. So I gotta I gotta do some work for a second here, I gotta remind everyone, as I talked about the company that if you need to find expert software developers, that doesn’t need to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io, where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs and see what available developers testers and leaders are ready to join your team. Go to FullScale.io to learn more. As a reminder with me today is Nancy Lyons, the CEO and founder of Clockwork, you can go to Clockwork.com to learn more about what they are up to. There’s a link for that in the show notes. And then I think I would probably be best to tell you another joke right now, because I’ve got that many just ready to go. It Nancy, do you know why the startup founders office was always a mess. He was too busy, disruptive to clean up.


Nancy Lyons  21:13

I keep giving it to you. It’s early. I’m, I keep enjoying these I have to admit Nice work.


Matt DeCoursey  21:20

Well, you know, I mean, with that, I asked my co founder to embrace his mistakes. And he gave me a hug.


Nancy Lyons  21:29

Yes, yeah, I get it.


Matt DeCoursey  21:32

So now look, this, I’m telling goofy dad jokes. But you know, these are all these kinds of things. I don’t know if telling jokes, because that can go a lot of ways for you with if you’re telling jokes to your, your, you know, community of workers. But I think as a leader, the it’s important to I’ve made a lot of effort to be out there to operate out on the same level with my employees, meaning you don’t work for me, you work with me. And I think that I think that was a dynamic. And I look, I think a lot of CEOs and leaders say that. I think that very few of them actually mean it. You know, I get that feedback that you know, so give me an example, when we first started operating in the Philippines. And you know, we have 100 employees after a year, so pretty rapidly growing right away. And then I would go and I would sit there, when I visit, I would go talk to every single person. And then after I left, we do kind of a quick survey about the management interaction. And they get this overwhelming response. It said, I basically do paraphrase all of them. So I can’t believe the CEO spent as much time talking to us, as he did. And my first reaction to that was, where have you been working? You know, now look, if you’re at Apple, I can’t expect Tim Cook to interact with 400,000 employees or however many they have. But there are ways to do that, that aren’t maybe personal interaction, like one of the things that I do is, every quarter I send out a video update. And it’s just me, in this in my podcast studio, I turn on the same camera, and I record an update about it. And then, you know, a couple times a year or two, I send out a form that basically says what do you want, you know, I do kind of a, you know, a townhall type format, which my employees have learned that I’ll answer most questions they submit, and they have some fun with that, too. I think one of the more interesting ones was, Matt, do you drink? Wanna to get wasted? You know, you get some of that. But you know, but I think that by putting those kinds of questions out there and then answering them in a transparent, candid way. You know, the pandemic was really where I first started doing that because I didn’t really have a way to interact with people in person. And then I was like, huh, this is a very effective way to do it, especially and then you want to get them to engage with the actual video, put the question, answer the questions they have. And you get it you get a really good sense of what’s going well, what is it and what’s important to people?


Nancy Lyons  24:23

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think you and I are cut from a similar cloth. And I imagine some of that is sort of the Gen X CEO, you know, thinking. I’m gonna go out on a limb and imagine we’re in the same generation. But I also think


Matt DeCoursey  24:38

We’re young early.


Nancy Lyons  24:41

I’m 100% Z. I, I feel the same way in that. I do feel like I owe people my time and attention and you know, whatever that looks like like in fact, we’re having an all staff next week. So we’re flying people in, we’re mostly remote, we do have a building, it’s sort of an iconic building. It’s an old service station in Minneapolis that we’ve redone. And it’s, it’s kind of fun. And so we’re flying people in for a two day all all staff on site. And, and the entire agenda came out of my one-on-ones with the whole staff, the things that I’m thinking, so the what I heard was, the pandemic got us away from sort of a cross organization, agreement on standards of excellence. So we’re gonna define those, but the other thing that we’re gonna you know, and so we’re having meetings to sort of review some of the things that came up pretty regularly in those conversations. But the other thing that I’ve challenged them to, and I just had a one-on-one with my COO yesterday to work out the logistics of this and the outline for it. But we’re gonna have a design thinking workshop, where we explore the future culture of Clockwork. So one thing that I’ve recognized and that I heard from so many people, and I’m sorry, can you hear my dog? Because of course, he’s been sleeping all day. But right now he’s at my ankles, like, are you going to feed me? Why are you talking? Who are you talking to?


Matt DeCoursey  26:15

I cannot


Nancy Lyons  26:16

I apologize for not but yeah. I’m actually out of town. And so that’s why there’s this weird backdrop here. But anyway, um, what I hear from them, is what I feel that I think a lot of people feel, and that is we are exhausted from Zoom. Right? We are having meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting on Zoom. And we have and so the way we’ve compensated for not being near each other is and you know, we’ve always had remote workers. So that’s not new. But now we have more. I actually got another building at one point in my career because I used to say, if people didn’t like each other, we wouldn’t need more space, because you’d stay home like normal people. And that is employee engagement. And we’re coming together next week to talk about how can we, you know, examine how we work explored new ways of creating that connective tissue and that culture, you know, that sort of cultural tissue? And, and then how can we do that without creating more opportunity for meetings? You know, because we’re exhausted. So how can we get better at working asynchronously? And how can we really think actively about what the culture needs, instead of saying, Well, you know, what, what we need is each other, let’s go back to the office, instead of doing that, like everybody else, we really want to challenge ourselves to think more out of the box. And I’m kind of excited about the results. But then the other thing that I’m doing that I think is important, you know, Clockwork is different because we’re a technology consultancy, but we have a change practice. Because most organizations, when they invest in technology, it fails because they’re not taking the people along with them. So we really work hard to take the people along with our clients. And that’s something that we’re going to do with ourselves next week. But out of this, we’re hoping to have a template for a workshop that we can use with our clients and beyond to help them push themselves out of the where will we work, and start asking the questions about how they’re going to work. That may be different that speaks to what the future is looking like, or what direction we’re headed in. And I think that’s really important.


Matt DeCoursey  28:34

Yeah, you know, there’s, there’s so many situations where I look at, like, you know, the, the show, Silicon Valley that was on HBO for years did a really effective job of making fun of the Silicon Valley-type workplace where everywhere they went, there was like, Do we have more sushi chefs, we have more bowling alleys. We, it was more you talk about how we’re going to work. I would look at some of that stuff. I’d be like if we’re gonna work. And so some of that I think that that it’s not necessarily about how many ping pong tables or air hockey tables or pinball machines you have in the office or sushi chefs because I mean, sure that’s nice and it’s fun. You might find that you might get more community community and employee engagement if you hand out brown bag lunches and give people a picnic table to set out you know, there’s there’s a million things and when it comes to to definition of a company’s culture I’m personally a strong believer that it that it can and should be defined and created by the community itself in some regards, like if it’s just about what your big grand idea is, as the CEO and you have hundreds of employees then that’s it. That’s that’s a selfish approach, like, you know, I don’t like the idea of employee engagement shouldn’t always all be around work engagement, like I mentioned, like doing these quarterly team bonding events. I mean, those aren’t like sitting down and doing a workshop. And I’m not trying to pick on workshops. Oh, no, no, no, I totally random one. But those are important. But it’s I think it’s important to do stuff like Okay, so in the Philippines, karaoke is huge. And I have, I have had amazing, fun and engaged with my employees singing karaoke. And I’m not like a big karaoke. I do have the voice. I can tell. But I don’t know that I did, you know, and so with that, but it’s back to that, like, from and I’m just speaking more from the leadership perspective, like, yeah, you just have a different job than these people do at your company. And I think that that that goes a long way. And I recently purchased a farm just south of Kansas City, and I had a, I had a build a little half court basketball court just recently for me and my kids. And, you know, I was so impressed with the guy that built it, because, you know, he had a big crew of people. And he was the first one there. And the last one out every day. Now, he also engaged with his employees by helping him do work, I saw him on the sides, like doing other stuff and getting to know people. And you know, and where I’m going with this is sometimes employee engagement can actually be done from the leadership perspective, by showing up and doing the job with them for a few minutes. I’ve done that for every job we have at Full Scale like, and like they were shocked to see me dragging trash bags out of the office one day. Now look, some of that I do to help. But I don’t think if you get out of touch with the job that all the people need to do out the company that you founded or run, you don’t really have a good perspective on it. Now I can tell that that the guy that was laying concrete that is so much different than building software, you know. But I could tell that the employees really engaged with him. And we’re, I could just sense it. Because he wasn’t just showing up and barking a couple commands and then leaving, you know. And like, and some people think that’s a form of engagement. It’s not, you know, it’s like, I mean, there’s a lot of ways to to, you know, to get through that now, you know, speaking of bad culture, did you hear why all of the employees at the soda startup?


Nancy Lyons  32:35

I did not?


Matt DeCoursey  32:39

It was so depressing to work there.


Nancy Lyons  32:44



Matt DeCoursey  32:47

Yeah, I artfully set that up. And then yeah.


Nancy Lyons  32:53

I mean, it’s your podcast, man.


Matt DeCoursey  32:55

And I may change the title of this to be you know, unleashing employee engagement and a great and yeah.


Nancy Lyons  33:03

I like, I like it.


Matt DeCoursey  33:05

I knew I’m least proud of this to everyone else. So either thank Nancy or get mad at her but direct all the comments to her. Nancy Lyons. And she’s on LinkedIn. And she’s written. She’s written some books, too. Why don’t we go ahead. And you want to tell everyone what those books are? We shouldn’t have made it to the 33rd minute Oh, I found.


Nancy Lyons  33:31

Yeah, I co-wrote a book about, you know, essentially digital project management with a human centered lens. And it’s a, you know, that books been a slow burn. It’s been around for a while, actually. But I think it’s great for people who are making a shift mid-career or people who are curious about how to create digital product. It. It’s called Interactive Project Management: Pixels, People, and Process. And it’s, it’s used as a textbook in colleges, but it’s not nearly that dry. But the book that a lot of people are appreciating right now, and I appreciate that they appreciate is, it’s called Work Like a Boss. And the subtitle is A Kick in the Pants Guide to Finding and Using Your Power at Work. And really what we’re talking about when we talk about engagement in the workplace is that power is the idea that most folks when they apply for a job, you know, they they look at that job description, they said, that’s what I’m gonna do. And you know, when we think about even the global conversation about work, you know, there, I think a lot of people had an existential crisis during the pandemic. And they’re asking themselves, like, what am I doing this for? What’s it all for? Do I have a purpose? And then a lot of folks solution coming out of that is, you know what, I’m only going to do what they paid. This is only what they paid me to do. I’m only going to check these boxes. They’re not going to get any more for me, I’m tired. Well, we’re all tired. But I also think that work is more challenging and more interesting. If you go all in and if you look outside of your job description, to see where you can add value. And I think where people get confused is, when I say add value, I’m not saying work more, work harder, exhaust yourself. I’m saying add value, think differently, solve problems take initiative take risks, and I think the average employee, and again, you know, I don’t even I don’t call my own colleagues, employees because that’s uncomfortable for me. But I do think when we’re looking when we’re casting sort of this, this wide net, when we talk about employees, the average employee really takes from a job description, what the expectations of them are, but the most valuable people, especially now, when we’re seeing technology conversations bubble up, when we’re seeing people scared of, you know, AI, and what it’s going to do to their job, we need engaged folks, not people who, you know, and you mentioned this earlier, you know, when you were talking about, you know, ping pong in our industry, and Foosball, like I used to say all the time that people imagine, we’re just having a party every day, we’re on skateboards, and we’re playing ping pong. And we’re actually not working at all. But I think that’s because our culture really confuses gimmicks with culture. And, and I think culture is much more intentional. And setting those expectations and hiring high performers who are interested in being more hybrid and not just fitting in a happy little box with a label. Those are the people that have really ambitious futures to look forward to. And I think the people that need to be afraid of AI are the people who don’t think outside of their job descriptions. And that’s really what my book, Work Like a Boss, encourages people to do.


Matt DeCoursey  36:42

If your skill set so limited that AI can issue like that, then you need the right skill set. I mean, it’s like, I’ve had a lot of people, you know, be in the software development business, people are asking, like, what do you think about AI is going to replace developers? Not anytime soon? And probably never, because there’s just a lot of components to that, that, you know, now, do I think it’ll be a tool that helps people do things better, faster, cheaper? Absolutely. And now, it’s already happening. But that’s a good thing. You know, like, you talk about the AI is, is going to end up doing the jobs that we struggle to find people to do anyway. I went to McDonald’s last week and ordered from a full on AI everything, like it was a robot in the in the window and like me there at the word, not the window, but you know, at the, at the stand, and I was like, Oh, this is I immediately thought I was like, there’s no way this is gonna go. So I was like, trying to I was trying to break it. Basically, I was sitting there, like, changing my order and doing this and do no, no pickles on that and nailed it. Now. Why is that important? Because you know, business is like, I don’t have any vested interest in McDonald’s success or failure. It’s just, that’s where I was when this occurred. But I know for a fact that they have a very difficult time finding people to do some of those jobs right now. So, you know, a lot of it’s also just repetitious stuff. And then like, you know, I think that you know, some of that stuff, there’s tools that could make your job more attractive and better, like, what do I use ChatGPT for, like, give me a list of talking points. Give me some inspiration. I even was showing I worked in the music industry. For a while I was talking to one of my buddies, who was a rock star. Era is not was and I was like, dude, have you tried AI for writing songs? He’s like, No, I don’t even know what you’re talking about. And I was showing him GPT and I asked it to write me a country song that was based on the idea that I wanted my beer to be as cold as my ex. And it wrote a hit. And it wrote a frickin head, you know, and like, and that but you know, that’s the kind of stuff like there’s somewhere where you’re stuck or you need leverage or inspiration and I in my whole point for for my musician friend was, dude, this is a muse in your pocket, you know? And like, you can even like, if you’re trying to ride give me 20 things to record a song about. I don’t know, just see what happens you only need to have one thing that pops to like really be good. And, you know, so there’s a lot of stuff out there and like like I said, these are things but these are things that can still be like employee engagement tactics when you talk about the community like oh, I’m, I’m finding I’m finding that my life is a lot easier and I’m having more fun at work because I’m using this tool to do this this. The idea of community is to make the community my point. So like some of these things can kit some of these things can be added in there. By the way, do you did you? Do you know why the beavers startup didn’t get funded?


Nancy Lyons  39:54

I do not.


Matt DeCoursey  39:57

No one could understand the dam business plan.


Nancy Lyons  40:00

did you just was this all in a day’s work? Or did these come about over a period of time? Did you sit down with Chet GPT and craft these or? Yeah.


Matt DeCoursey  40:10

Idid not. I write better dad jokes for entrepreneurs than GPT, which is one of the things that I found that I actually do better. Now we were, I was recording short form content, like videos and rails. And I was like, You know what, I kept seeing these two guys that were telling dad jokes. They’re like sitting on a dock somewhere where you live because I could see lakes and snow and stuff like that. They just thought really funny dad jokes. I was like, someone needs to do this. So yeah, I looked up a bunch of dad jokes. And I read through hundreds of them. And when I saw one that could be converted. I like it. So yeah, I’m running out of material. But I’m planning on going on tour because I feel like so many. I got invited to like an investor, be a speaker and an investor thing. And I really threw him a curveball. I was like, I’ll be a speaker, but I’m only going to tell dad jokes about entrepreneurship. And they’re like, what I was like, by the time you get to me at 3pm, everyone’s gonna be asleep is the only the only way we’re going to wake people up. We have good news. So I like it. Yeah. Yeah, well, yeah. So these are partially stolen that mainly revised. So yeah. Did you also hear why the software developer took a better job out? The salary was


Nancy Lyons  41:33

Joe, you didn’t know you didn’t? Yeah, I?


Matt DeCoursey  41:40

I caught around. Did you hear? Did you hear about the startup that just kind of evaporated? It’ll be missed. Hey, I sense that I have a good audience with Yes. It’s all these.


Nancy Lyons  41:59

Like we bonded? Yeah, yeah.


Matt DeCoursey  42:02

Well, you told me you thought you’d be a comic. And I was immediately like, looking on. I wrote these most of these on January 14 of 2023. Apparently.


Nancy Lyons  42:12

That’s awesome.


Matt DeCoursey  42:13

Yeah. And then I’ll give you I’ll give you one more, did you. I mean, this one’s a little sad. But did you hear why the startup founders wife left? Someone had to eventually exit? Well, I’ve been saving this. Ready. Here we go.


Nancy Lyons  42:32

Nice. Nice.


Matt DeCoursey  42:33

Sound effects. I’ve got two of them in this platform. I’ve used them maybe three times and 1200 episodes.


Nancy Lyons  42:40

I’m here for you. Send me a thank you note. Forgotten snail mail.


Matt DeCoursey  42:45

I forgot I had I realized I don’t even know if there’s any of I’ve missed I’m looking at this list. And oh, do you know Dublin Ireland has been a real hot hot space for startups. I heard that all the valuations there are kind of blew me I wasn’t supposed to say Dublin in the beginning. But yeah, I think that’s all I got. I’m looking through this


Nancy Lyons  43:11

I think you really your strongest material you lead with your strongest material. And now I think the expectation is that we’re all drunk.


Matt DeCoursey  43:20

Yeah, so the bad ones work.


Nancy Lyons  43:23

Yeah, so I think you I like the way you like


Matt DeCoursey  43:27

I’m trying I like the Braille. Braille, I’m gonna get funded. I can feel it. Yeah, some people don’t really. I don’t know that find that. Yeah, I think the other one I you have to think about I was asking the venture capitalists get funded March 1. I walked around the office and asked again, so I’m bummed. So anyway, yeah, I’m officially out of material on that. I can help them except for the one that’s model that’s mildly inappropriate that I can take. So


Nancy Lyons  44:02

You could edit it out.


Matt DeCoursey  44:03

Did you hear why the erectile you hear why the erectile dysfunction startup failed?


Nancy Lyons  44:09



Matt DeCoursey  44:10

To raise its capital.


Nancy Lyons  44:11

we go. There it was. Yeah.


Matt DeCoursey  44:18

Direct once again, direct all comments, feedback. And hey, Nancy Lyons.


Nancy Lyons  44:23

Yes, NancyLyons.com. Bypass my company. Just bring it to me.


Matt DeCoursey  44:30

Well, well, we we are here at the end of my improv comedy hour. And another thrilling episode of Startup Hustle was brought to you by FullScale.io Look, go to FullScale.io and if you fill out the form there. I’ll write another dad joke. All right, another dad joke for every I think um, so do it. Do it for the community.


Nancy Lyons  44:56

I think you just sabotage yourself.


Matt DeCoursey  44:58

And hopefully, once we get an influx of leads, and you’re just gonna be there burning the midnight oil, I haven’t bought a book of like 600 Dad jokes that I could like go through. I just never I just Yeah. Yeah. Oh, there was the hat startup that was doing really well. People weren’t surprised that they got ahead. Why did why didn’t the umbrella startup get funded to give up? The founders, the founders were a little shady. I actually have a good one. I forgot. Okay, I’m afraid to put my burn rate on the calendar. Because afterward my days will be numbered. I can only tell that to entrepreneurs because most people don’t understand what the burn rate as you know, there was a lot of buzz recently around a founder that had that. A scarecrow that was a new startup founder. The word on the street was he was really excellent in his field.


Nancy Lyons  46:10

Okay, now I feel like, now I feel like


Matt DeCoursey  46:15

I got called back for an encore.


Nancy Lyons  46:20

I think he threatened me with the end. And now I feel like


Matt DeCoursey  46:24

I did. But these jokes. These jokes are similar to the pitch deck I saw for the antigravity startup. They’re just really hard to put down.


Nancy Lyons  46:35

I mean, I could put him down. Put him down.


Matt DeCoursey  46:42

That’s the whole lot. Yeah, yeah. You got it on. Go. You’re welcome. Sorry. Yeah.


Nancy Lyons  46:51

Yeah, nicely done.


Matt DeCoursey  46:52

So those guys I got mixed reviews. I got mixed reviews on on social media, I even have a couple people, like, you know, do the thing where you can have your reaction and my video at the same time. And there’s one lady that’s like, either like giving thumbs up or thumbs down. I’m like, come on. Alright, so here we are. Another at the end of another episode of Startup Hustle and Comedy Hour. On the way out, Nancy, I usually do what I call the founders freestyle, and kind of look back at the best things that were said, we all know, those were my jokes today. So I will just cut to the chase and say, what are what are what if you had to give a couple tips on on our what are the other than the jokes? What are the most important things that we focused on?


Nancy Lyons  47:42

You know, I think we did a fine job of talking about the, you know, the the different ways to think about engagement. I mean, we see engagement as a one-sided, you know, ordeal, and it’s really about, you know, making people happy. And it’s confused a lot with, you know, gimmicky behaviors. And I think engagement can also be an expectation of an expectation we have for the people we work with. Engagement is a dimensional process and it requires care and feeding every single day. And I think that’s we covered that I’m excited about.


Matt DeCoursey  48:18

Yeah, I when I look back at it, I think the the max you have, you have had a lot of great tips. And then I you know, feel free for those of you out there to copy take any of the any of the things that we’ve done at Full Scale. I think that I would look at something like we did for outreach day, like it is just fun, to take a day and give back to local community. It feels good, it feels good. It looks good. I mean, realistically, we didn’t do it for PR, but that kind of naturally happened, you know, because you’ll find that what I found, I’m friends with a lot of our employees on Facebook, because I just saw tons of posting about them doing it and taking pride in the company that they worked in. And that’s a good, that’s good for recruiting, you know, like, that’s, that’s, you know, some good things can come from it as well. And that’s probably my favorite one out of all the things that we do, because it just has all of this, like, it’s just wrapped in good. And, and I think that if and you know, I’m not a super religious guy, but I do believe in the power of intention. And if you have the intention of creating a good quality community and a fun place to work and, you know, a fun place can to work can exist without having to work inside Chucky Cheese arcade, you know, so, and there’s a lot of people that don’t want to be cruel to you know, so I think that overall, you’re not going to unleash your employee engagement. If you don’t try, you know, like you got to try some different things and try a bunch of stuff take the same outlook, I have an entrepreneurship, which is sometimes trying 10 things and hoping one works. And we’ll get to that one and then try some more and then ask the community let the community decide what do you want to do? You know, like, what, what, what will you participate in? Because if you launch a bunch of stuff that people aren’t interested in, and they’re not going to, you know, yeah, that’s not going to work. I think the last thing is create a variety of stuff, you know, like, employee engagement shouldn’t just have one side or one face to it. Because that’s, you know, with 325 employees, assuming that they all like the same stuff. Like we have a mountaineering club, a basketball team, we have a music club, which, by the way, practices throughout the year to then later perform live at our Christmas party. I don’t have to hire a band. But no, but they have a lot of fun with it, you know, and, you know, there’s, I mean, we got a variety of other things, too, like, you know, like, I don’t know, there’s, there’s a big list, so. And, by the way, Nancy, none of that stuff, right?


Nancy Lyons  51:03

That’s it, and they usually run with it, you know? Yeah. And it happens. Mm hmm.


Matt DeCoursey  51:10

Yeah. And that’s, that’s it. So if you want to unleash the engagement, you can maybe start by engaging and asking people so yeah. There you go. I you know, I, I gotta get back. I gotta write some more material.


Nancy Lyons  51:25

Call me again.


Matt DeCoursey  51:30

I’m going to actually do another show with you. And I’ll take laughed at all of them, or at least almost all of them and then I’m going to figure out how to put a laugh track in here to go with that. So it sounds people actually think


Nancy Lyons  51:44

I mean, I’m gonna invoice you.


Matt DeCoursey  51:45

I’ll let you know when I have.


Nancy Lyons  51:48

I’ll invoice laughter. I just want to be clear.


Matt DeCoursey  51:53

All right. I’ll put a budget Q4. I’ll catch up with you down the road.