How to Recruit Top Industry Performers | Mike Kaeding


How can you recruit the best people in your industry?

My guest Mike Kaeding has an answer—build a place where people love to work.

As the CEO of Norhart, a construction business on a mission to eliminate the housing crisis, Mike has consistently attracted top performers with Norhart’s unique workplace culture. 

In this episode, he’ll share how you can do the same—and break down his company’s mission to create a disruption in the construction industry.

He’ll also cover:

  • Understanding the genius of others
  • The habits that serve him
  • How to give feedback
  • The power of self-assessment
  • And more

Mentioned in this episode:


Mike Kaeding: My most important job as CEO is to create the right culture and environment for our staff. When is the best opportunity you have to communicate with a new employer? It’s on day one.

Voiceover: You’re listening to the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast with professional speaker, coach and consultant Nicole Greer.

Nicole Greer: Welcome everybody to the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. My name is Nicole Greer, and they call me the vibrant coach and I am here with another fantastic guest. I’m excited today to talk to Mike Kaeding. He is the CEO of Norhart, a construction business on a mission to eliminate the housing crisis, hello, and create a disruption in the construction industry. 

After his father passed away, Mike took on the challenge of leaving his family’s business despite having little knowledge about the construction industry. But with his passion for business and his willingness to learn, Mike has been able to transform Norhart into a successful and thriving company. Mike is dedicated to fostering a unique company culture, I bet it is vibrant. 

And he has values of creativity and innovation that are supporting his whole company culture. He believes that by empowering his employees to think outside the box and take risks, Norhart can develop the most innovative solutions in the housing crisis. Mike is passionate about making a difference in the construction industry and is determined to make Norhart the leader in disruptive construction. Welcome to the show, Mike. I’m so glad to have you here.

Mike: Hey, thanks for having me. This should be fun.

Nicole: Yeah, I think it will be absolutely and as we said before the show actually officially started, I have a long, wonderful, beautiful relationship with property management and housing people in apartment communities. So I’m glad to be talking to somebody we have the same background. 

Mike: Love it. 

Nicole: Yeah, fantastic. So my first question right out of the gate is always the same. I’m collecting definitions of leadership. What’s your definition?

Mike: I think it’s two parts. It’s identifying a vision. And then the second piece is understanding the genius of others and being able to inspire that out of them and putting them in the right nuanced spot that matches their genius to your overall vision.

Nicole: That’s fantastic. And you’ve got such a cool vision. Will you just talk about that for a moment? The whole idea that disrupts construction, you want to get rid of the housing crisis. I mean, what a wonderful mission in this world. Will talk a little bit about how that got a hold of your heart, and maybe, dare I say this, your soul, and now you’re pursuing it?

Mike: Yeah, so you know, high level, we design, build and rent apartments. But really, we’re about solving housing affordability. And the way we’re looking at doing that is fundamentally about driving down the cost of construction. If you look at a lot of industries, in the last 60 years, like manufacturing, for example, they have improved labor productivity by 760%. But in the world of construction, it’s remained flat. Basically nothing at just 10%. 

So really simply, as we’re just applying the innovations and technologies of other industries, into our own, and we’re having solid success with it. Right now we’re achieving about a 20 to 30% reduction in cost. Someday, we hope to achieve a 50% reduction. But imagine what that means. It means someday your rent, could be half, or your mortgage payment could be half. That’s the kind of impact that we can have.

Nicole: Oh, that’s fantastic. Well, people want to know, especially me. Can you give me an example of how you are reducing that construction impacting and the cost?

Mike: Yeah, so there are 10,000 little problems you solve that come together to make it a reality. But to give you some flavor of it. Imagine for a moment if a construction company were to produce cars. See in the road construction, you have very different companies coming together to do the work. So you might have a different company installing the windshield, a different company installing the door, and a different company yet again, installing the wheel. 

And of course, the wheel company, they would be stuck on another project, they can get out there for two weeks. And when they did come out, they’d be irate because they can only work on one car at a time. See, the world of manufacturing looks at us and says dude you’re crazy. Why are you doing it that way? But that’s the way it’s always been done. And so one of the first things we did was bring all of that work under one roof. 

Now once we did that, we unlock some really cool techniques. For example, the assembly line. So basic, but had a meaningful impact on manufacturing. But how could you do that in construction? I mean, you can’t take a building and drive it down a line. Well, no. But what you can do is you can take the person and move them through the building. 

And so right now all of our teams shift by one unit, through the building every five hours. If you look at the end of our building, every five hours, we have a brand new apartment unit completed. And just that one technique drives the cost of a project from, or the timeline of a project, from 15 months, down to nine months. Fundamentally, it’s just hundreds and 1000s of those little things that we do to solve costs.

Nicole: I love what you’re talking about. That’s fantastic. So you are a strategic fellow. And I absolutely adore that. Tell me about your recruiting process. So when I got introduced to you, via your amazing assistant, she sent me your information. I was reading on there that really you have this belief that really resonates with one of my own beliefs is that recruiting is where it’s at if you’re going to, you know, have a company. So having the right people. Will you share a little bit about your strategy around people?

Mike: Yeah, oh my gosh, it’s so critical. And I didn’t always understand this. In fact, it kind of hit me in the face in kind of a challenging way. But after I understood this principle, which became the most important foundational principle of our business. It’s what’s changed our lives for the better. And that is that we want to hire the world’s best people. And I don’t just say that. I truly mean that. 

We will fly people in from other states to come work during the week and fly them home on the weekend. One of our staff members in 2007, Steve Jobs, announces the iPhone, Steve Jobs walks off that stage and our staff member walks on that same stage, following Steve Jobs. It’s that kind of caliber a person. And one of the things we’re faced with was how in the world do you hire those people? 

I mean, there’s a lot to it, right? Building the right culture, having the right vision. But a key element that you just talked about is recruiting. See the best people, they’re not looking for jobs. What I didn’t understand is I would post and pray, right. You’d hope that good candidates would come to visit your site and apply for a job, but they just don’t. 

And so we had a hard look at ourselves, and what are we going to do to change us. So at this point in our company’s size, we’re about 100 employees. And we decided if we’re going to be serious about this, we needed to hire on a recruiting team. We hired about 14 or 15 recruiters. So 15% of our staff were just focused on recruiting. 

They went out and worked to find the right relationships, the right people that were best in the industry and what they’re doing, build those relationships over time. So that when we had open jobs, we could pull them in to our company. And yeah, that’s recruiting. There’s so much more there. But that’s how we do recruiting.

Nicole: Nice, fantastic. And so what I heard you say is you’re very proactive instead of reactive. Now, and I’m gonna shamelessly use that in the future. You know, quit posting and praying. I love that.  That’s awesome. So when you hire these folks, and you challenge them with to go out and find the best is because you’re going to do some really big work. 

This vision of disrupting construction, number one, and then also changing, you know, the housing, you know, and making it affordable for people. So, how did that vision get lodged in you? I mean, everybody heard on your intro, you had your pop, and he started things. And so how did this get a hold of you? How did you get your vision?

Mike: You know, ever since I was young, I always knew I wanted to make some kind of meaningful, positive impact in the world. You know, my dad died at a relatively young age. And it reminded me how short life really is. Now, we only live about 5000 weeks here on earth. And the question I ask myself almost every day is how do I want to spend the minutes I have here on Earth? And so for me, it’s about making that positive impact. 

I always knew that I wanted to make that impact. There’s sort of a journey that people go on to figure out, how will you make your mark in the world? What impact can you leave? What legacy can you leave for others and improve the world around you? And it took me some time to understand what that really was. 

But once we got into the business, once we started building up kind of our expertise in what we’re doing, we started to realize that we could drive down these costs. And now we can actually solve possibly housing affordability in the long term for people and thinking about how big of an expense that is for all of us in America and across the world. 

If we can cut that expense by half, think about the lifestyle that people can have. The better lifestyle knowing that they’ve got that much more income coming in, because they’re not having to spend it on housing, just got me excited to see the universes kind of come together in a way that I think we can solve this problem.

Nicole: That’s fantastic. You know, in my work, Mike, I’ve got this coaching philosophy, and it is called SHINE. And so S stands for self assessment. And one of the big beliefs that I have, as a coach and as an entrepreneur, when I go out and work with companies is, you know, the leaders need to slow down and they need to self assess. And I think one of the greatest things that they can do is figure out their mission and their vision. 

I’m curious, how do you run your day, your week, your month, your year, so that you stop and think about what you’re doing? I mean you’re in a growing company. You got a lot going on. I went to your website, we’ve got brand new apartment communities going, this is a very exciting time. So what do you do to self assess, so that you can kind of check in with Mike and make sure he’s where he needs to be in doing what he’s supposed to be doing?

Mike: That’s such a great question. I think just kind of you mentioned, I think the first place to start is you need to understand what your purpose, mission, values, strategies and goals are. And we have got all that written down. And that doesn’t come overnight. That comes with time, comes with experimenting, trying something, bumping into walls. Getting feedback, iterating and constantly evolving that. 

But once you’ve gotten that laid out, that can kind of help guide you where you need to be. And so for me, there is three key strategies of the organization. And those are the first three that I think about on a regular basis. And the most important of those three, is creating a place where people actually love to work, right. And so that’s kind of my groundwork to think about my days and my weeks. 

Another useful exercise we do is every three months, as a leadership team, we take a full day off, and we stop and we assess. We set goals for that three month period, we come back and look at where are we at. What are the big problems we’re facing? Are we on the right track? Do we need to make a pivot and a change? And we outline kind of, okay, what are our goals for the next three months? 

So that’s kind of at a quarterly level. But then another, like, regular exercise that I do, at least for myself, I get a Saturday morning. We’re home with the kids. And we’re all everyone’s kind of doing their own thing at that point. And it’s just a moment for me to kind of reassess. Okay, where am I at this week? What am I doing next week? And am I aligned with where I need to be? So those are a few things.

Nicole: I love that. All right, everybody. So three strategies that he’s got going on, you can adopt these for yourself is create a place where people love to work. Quarterly, take a day, get away from the office, get with your people. Set goals, see where you’re at, see how you’re doing. And then just like a little readjustment on the weekend. Sit still, make sure you personally are in the right place. I love that. 

So I’d love to talk about number one, just a wee bit. You know, creating a place where people love to work. Employee engagement and culture are huge in the work that I do. And the survey says, Mike, that, you know, culture engagement is not where it needs to be. What are you guys doing to make it a place where people love to work?

Mike: Yeah, there’s, there’s so much to this. I would say the most important thing. It sounds simple, but it’s critical, is hiring the best people. Because I’ve seen this so many times where people join an organization, maybe because of the reputation or it’s exciting, but they’ll leave because of their co-workers or their direct manager or leadership. It’s the relationship aspect that drives people crazy. And I was at a team meeting a couple of weeks ago, I was with the carpenters. 

And they were talking about the issues, you know, there’s always business issues, right? They’re kind of going through all the troubles and challenges that they’re faced with. What was really neat is that one of the employees stood up and he said, Mike, we got all these problems. But I will never leave here. This has nothing to do with you, Mike. But the reason I would never leave here is because of the people sitting around me in this group today. 

It’s my coworkers. I have never been a part of a team of people that are upbeat, positive, engaged, passionate about what they’re doing. And despite the challenges we face, I would never leave it for that reason. So that’s number one. There’s so many other things like you’ve got to create the culture intentionally. 

So for us there, I do literally every orientation. And we’ll have you know, 30 or 40 people every week at orientation for that. I do what we call a follow up orientation, where I check in two months later with that same group and say, how is it actually going? What is your actual experience? My goal is to learn from them, as well as instill further our culture and values. We have annual team meetings. 

We have quarterly events that people attend. We do every six months an employee survey. Again, this is not revolutionary. But what I think is a little bit different than some companies is we take those survey results, and we share them fully with our employees, including my results. In fact, my results are the first ones people see. 

And they’re not always perfect. Like the last survey I went down a little bit, right. There’s some good lessons in there for me. And then what we do is we now take those results, and post them on our website. So you can actually go and read all of the comments. The good, the bad, and the ugly, about what people are actually saying. 

Because I think the first step to actually improve is to be truly and humbly and radically honest about how you are struggling today. And I think when people see you doing that, they come on board, and they want to help you grow and improve as well. So there’s a couple of things.

Nicole: Okay, yeah, I love what you’re talking about, Mike. This is so fantastic. So, again, he’s just reiterating, you know, if you want to have a place where people love to work, hire good people. And, you know, I do a little recruiting talk for a lot of SHRM Society for Human Resource Managers. 

So I talked about the difference between turkeys and eagles. And I tell people all the time, eagles want to hang out with eagles and turkeys want to hang out with turkeys. And so you know, you hire eagles, you’ll attract eagles. Eagles have friends who can come to work for you. And when they get there, they want to make sure they’re with the right flock. So I love what you’re saying there. And then also don’t miss this everybody. 

We have our CEO here who is doing orientation. Did everybody hear that? That’s huge. So what’s the real benefit of you been at orientation? You know, I think other leaders might say, you know, that’s why I hired HR. You know, that’s why I have other people. But why do you feel it’s so important? What happens to you, that makes you keep coming back for more?

Mike: My most important job as CEO is to create the right culture and environment for our staff. When is the best opportunity you have to communicate with a new employer? It’s on day one. And so I can share that energy and passion and excitement for what we’re doing in a way that’s hard. 

Even if someone has the same level of excitement for it, and can deliver the same kind of speech. They don’t have the role of CEO. And there’s something to be said with that relationship building, with communicating directly with people together in an environment like that you can’t get really any other way. I think it’s a mistake for leaders to miss that opportunity.

Nicole: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. And, you know, sometimes I’ll have leaders say, you know, Mike, they’ll say, like, you know, no, they don’t mean to meet me. It’s just me. I’m like, I know, but you’re like the rock star, you’re like the guy in charge. And there is something about meeting the person that’s leading the way. 

You want to make sure what you’re hearing in the recruiting process. And then the guy who’s leading it, or the gal who’s leading it, that these two things match. It’s also like a verification of what I’ve just decided to do. And don’t miss this, everybody. If you’re hiring a bunch of eagles, and the best people in the industry, they want verification, I’ve made the right decision. It’s a big deal to start a whole new company. 

So I love that. And then the check in. And then I check back in, and then do the survey, and oh my gosh, post the results on the website. So all my HR people that are listening, they’re like, oh, how am I gonna get that done? But that’s amazing. That’s absolutely amazing. Okay, all right. So that’s the S, in my SHINE coaching methodology. 

Let me ask you a question about habits. You already know what a habit is. It’s something we do repeatedly that either serves us, or slays us. So I want to know about the habits that you have as a leader that really serve you. What are some things you do all the time or consistently, that really support what you’re trying to carry off here?

Mike: That’s so powerful. You know, I think a lot about this, because we only have so much brain power to like, adjust ourselves. So I want to make sure that my life’s habits are set in a way that’s guiding me in the right path. And then every week I’m spending a little bit of time tweaking those habits as I go along. So there’s some simple things for example. So I do a 15 mile run every Sunday. 

I do three additional exercises beyond that. I always make sure to go to bed at the same time. Getting enough rest is really critical to me. Always home at the same time to be there with my kids and family. I’ve got that time set aside. There are certain business habits as well. For example, we actually lay out our habits as part of our culture and one of those habits is a one on one. 

So every employee gets up to a half an hour meeting every single week with their manager. And so I do those meetings as well. That’s a habit of mine. And the big goal there is for management to stop and listen, right. Just get feedback. Hear where things are at, and then they have some time to communicate as well. 

We have other habits, like, again, seems simple, but it’s so powerful when done well. Weekly team meetings. Same place, same time, you have the same agenda going through issues. Discussing working those through together. We have, as I mentioned earlier, we have the quarterly meetings, we have an annual kind of meeting that we do. But every single employee throughout the whole company also gets an annual meeting with their own team. 

And it’s about connection with that team. But the thing everyone seems to talk about, another key habit of ours is 360 degree feedback. So everyone goes around the room throughout the whole company, now within your own team, and the people that know you, but everyone goes around the room and shares with each other eye to eye, person to person, what you’re doing well, and what you’re not doing well. 

That’s honestly one of the biggest gifts that you receive within this company is an opportunity to have honest, real feedback from the people that know you best within the business environment. So those are some of some of the habits we engage on a regular basis.

Nicole: That’s fantastic. Yeah, I was just working with a manufacturing organization for three days straight. And one of the greatest conversations we had in those three days was about giving feedback and how some companies like, we can’t practice feedback, because everybody’s ego gets hijacked. And, you know, everybody’s upset and offended and this kind of thing. And so we had a real long talk about like, how do you put this in place habitually. So I love the fact that you’re telling me that it can indeed happen. And there’s a great book. I don’t know if you’ve read it, Mike, but I do a little program on it. Kim Scott’s book Radical Candor. 

Mike: Oh, yeah. Good book.

Nicole: Yeah. And so in there, she talks about, you know, you have to challenge people directly, which is what you just said. We go around. We’re eyeball to eyeball, we’re talking to each other. But it’s with this spirit of caring very deeply for this human. Like, we know you can do it, right.

Mike: Yeah, that’s so powerful. It’s interesting. When I see people go into that meeting, they’re always a bit nervous, and some are quite nervous. But after coming out of that, like, yeah, it was hard hearing the honest feedback. But you also feel the care. And when you have a group of incredible people, like best in the world kind of people, it becomes exciting, because you realize that people around the room are like changing the world in some way. And now they’re helping you get to their kind of level. It gets exciting.

Nicole: Absolutely it does. And again, and when you have a very strong vision and mission, like Mike Kaeding has everybody. Don’t miss it. You know, he wants to change the housing crisis and the way we do construction. So, I mean, there are lots of young people who can just listen to that. In fact, I don’t practice real estate anymore. 

But as I shared with you, I have my real estate license, because I did property management for so long. And you know how you have to take your continuing education credits. And so I went, and for my continuing education credits, I think it was about a month ago or so. And there was a whole group of young people at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill that, you know, are trying to find housing in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 

Go to school there, and they have to be four to an apartment community in order to pay the rent. So, you know, we were hearing about how there’s not affordable housing, and these kids need to be close to campus. So I mean, it is a crisis out there. And it was part of my CEU. So is that same thing in Minnesota, what you’re experiencing?

Mike: Yeah, I mean, rents across the country are rising, and it’s becoming, rent is actually growing faster than people’s incomes. And that’s obviously not sustainable. And so if you can give that back to people by lowering those prices, it’s so powerful. But yeah, we’re seeing the same thing here.

Nicole: Yeah. All right. Well, I’m glad you’re on it. See, and that’s the thing. Nobody’s a mistake. That’s one of my other philosophies. Like you were born to, there’s some kind of purpose, vision, so you got to figure it out. It’s not optional. All right. So the third part of my coaching methodology is all about integrity. And I’m a big believer in you know, continuing to teach people character traits and do character development into their adulthood. 

You know, it’s like mom and daddy had you for however many years maybe they didn’t get all the things in place they needed in place, so that you could be an amazing man or woman of character. How do you guys address quality of character? I heard clearly you’re hiring great people. But you’re giving feedback. How do you see character playing a part in developing your company?

Mike: It’s so interesting, because if you get that character not quite right, it can really slow down and gunk up your company from executing well. And when you get that kind of ego out of the way, and when people are high degree of integrity, they’re working well together. I’ve seen what those teams look like. And it’s incredible. They perform at a 10x level than what the average team performs at. So we talked about feedback. Another way that we address character in particular is coaching. 

So we work with quite a few different coaches, depending on what niche we’re working on. But we also have general business coaches and a whole team of coaches, that anyone within the organization can get coaching if they need it. And then in some specific cases, if we’ve got something where we think it’s still the right person, it’s awesome what they do, but there’s something a little bit off, then we’ll bring coaches in to work with them, particularly on that issue of character that they’re struggling with.

Nicole: Yeah, but that’s fantastic. One of the key things I have in my toolbox is a wonderful, wonderful tool called the true tilt profile. And it has 48 character traits that people can work on, and you can do a 360 around that. So you know what you were saying earlier about getting 360 feedback. It is absolutely huge. 

And to me, again, it’s like we wouldn’t have hired you, if you can’t do marketing. We wouldn’t hire you if you couldn’t lease an apartment, you know. We’re going out and finding the best. But really working on the quality of people’s character, I think it’s just a lifelong thing that human beings need to do. 

Alright, the next thing we need to talk about in the SHINE coaching methodology is N, which is next right steps. So sounds like you have a strategic plan, you’ve got goals in place. Tell me a little bit about your planning process and how you do strategic planning. How are you going to cure this? These two big things in the world? But how do you do your planning and keep organized?

Mike: So we talked about earlier, we have annual meetings, we have quarterly meetings to help align those plans. But we have a 10 year plan, a three year plan, a one year plan and quarterly plans. And it’s not that we can predict the future in 10 years out, we can’t. But having a direction helps align us all to be on the same path. And I often say that we shoot for the moon, because even if we miss it will be among the stars, right? I’d rather shoot for a hard goal and miss it than just shoot for an easy goal and achieve it. 

So the other piece of it, I guess, to kind of outline part of that plan is one thing that people often ask and they say, Mike, you’re lowering construction costs, that’s great. But does that mean you’re pocketing all that income for yourself? Well, the way we think about it is like this. Elon Musk talks about how it’s hard to produce a car, but it is 10 to 100 to 1000 times harder to produce the system that builds that car. It’s the same in construction. 

It’s so much harder to build a system that builds apartments or any residential space at scale. And so we’re actually pouring those profits into building out that system, including factories, including infrastructure, logistics, international supply chains, so that we can build that whole infrastructure up to drive down that cost and scale up even further. 

And our dream over the next 10 years, is to reach 192,000 units, with a 60,000 unit per year construction pace. And at that sort of level, we’re now starting to have an impact on supply and demand of housing. So now prices start coming down. But here’s the magic. It’s not just for our own residents. It’s for everyone in that neighborhood, or even nationwide.

Nicole: That’s fantastic. Yeah, and don’t miss everybody. He said, you know, when you set a direction, start to get alignment. Put a system in place. He was dancing all around the model that I’ve shared on this podcast many, many times, which is the Center for Creative Leadership’s model for leadership. Which is direction, alignment, and commitment. And so just circled right around there. 

So I didn’t want to let that skip past me. And I don’t know if you’re familiar, Mike, I but you are. There’s an old book, you know, The Fifth Discipline that’s out there. And, you know, I read that book, when I got my master’s. And I talk about it all the time. People are like, Nicole, it is this thick. I’m like, I know, read it is so good. Because in there, it just talks about how everything is systemic. And you can’t get away from it. 

So I love what you’re talking about. So it’s one thing to set the goals, but it’s a whole different animal to figure out the system that you need to have in place to make that goal come true. So it’s really two phases. You can dream it up. And then you got to systemize how you’re going to get there. So I love that.

Mike: Dream and ideas are actually really quite simple. All of the work and all of the energy and all the complexity is in the execution and alignment and actually driving everyone forward toward that.

Nicole: Yeah. And so when you recruit somebody, because I’ll just go back to that for a hot second, because I can just imagine a young man, a young woman that’s been in construction somewhere else. And they come over and they, like their heart is telling them, this could be so cool, but I bet you they have like a little sneakily thing in the back of their head, like, are we really gonna do this? Because they’ve been working so long. And you know, the way we’ve always done it. What happens to these folks, when you get these eagles in the door, and they start to see your systems? What happens with these folks?

Mike: Awesome, actually. You know, we talked a lot about recruiting earlier. And part of recruiting honestly, is the new employee experience. We want that experience right from the first interview, to be amazing, even down to like providing honest feedback, if they didn’t actually get the interview, we tend to provide, here’s honestly, why rather than kind of hiding behind some legal infrastructure. 

But anyway, people ended up joining the company. And at the end of orientation, I always wrap it up with just, you know, where’s your head at? You know, what’s the good, the bad and the ugly when it’s not always perfect? And then one of the most common negative answers is, Mike, I’ve heard this all before. I will believe it when I see it. I say, awesome, I love that hold my feet to the fire. 

I tell them in two months, we’ll be talking again, and I want to hear the honest answer of what you experienced. And if there’s problems, let me know how we can improve. And again, two months later, again, it’s not always perfect. But I would say 90% of the time, 95% of time, they come back to that meeting and say Mike, I was the most skeptical person in the world when I was at orientation. 

But that day after orientation, I walked on site. And random construction people said, good morning. And they were engaging, and they were fun. And they were driven. And they were excited to be there. And I was sold. This is the kind of company you’re describing. And that’s my favorite moment, is that follow up orientation.

Nicole: Yeah, that’s fantastic. Yeah. And again, you know, the people want to be part of something special, they wouldn’t be part of something different. They want to be part of something that wins. I mean, what you’re talking about is all the things that build a vibrant culture. That’s fantastic. And I love this last question in the interview. 

So again, for all my HR people listening, at the end of the interview, where’s your head at? The good, the bad, the ugly, so just write that down. That’s part of your resume question list. That’s fantastic. All right. So the last thing in the coaching methodology is E in shine, and it stands for energy. And so Mike, here’s what I believe about employees. They have six different energies that we can impact and try to keep them energized. 

So one is intellectual, what do people need to learn or be trained on? Then there’s emotional energy, you know, and he’s hitting that, you know, do people love to work here. He’s trying to build a culture where people love to work there. Then there’s a spiritual energy. And that energy is like go team, there’s camaraderie, team building, team essence, right. And I believe in the mission and the vision. 

Then there’s also their physical energy. People who are healthy, just work better. That’s what I know. And then also, we have the social energy. I know and like my leader, and I know and like the people on my team, so I’ve got good social energy. I’m also allowed to go out to industry events and see what’s going on. 

And then the final energy is money. You know, I gotta pay my rent, pay my mortgage. So we’ve got to keep those energies stoked inside of our human. So what are you doing to energize your team, maybe on one or two or six of those levels?

Mike: Boy, they’re all so important. Maybe the last one you kind of mentioned was money, which is kind of interesting. One of the things we say often is we never want pay or benefits to be the reason why someone leaves. If you want the world’s best people, you need to pay top of market to get them right. And too many business leaders, including my younger self, say that sounds expensive. And it is. 

But what most people fail to understand is the best people outperform the average by two to five to 10 times as much. I have, I’ve literally seen it. I’m a total believer in that now. And what’s interesting, then, is if instead of looking at a cost per person basis, you look at a cost per unit produced. Cost per productivity. You find that the best people are actually the least expensive, even though you’re paying top of market to support them. And so yeah. 

So the key there is that the best people are actually going to save you money in the long run. And so one of the things we actually tell our team is that there is nothing in our pay or benefits or infrastructure or anything you sign that makes you stuck here at the company. You can leave tomorrow, with no problem whatsoever. I do that. 

And we do that because we want to earn the right for you to choose to work here. And part of that is that our teams get calls from recruiters on a regular basis. We tell them, take the phone call. We want what’s best for you, we want you to know what’s out there, we want working here to be a choice. So take the phone call. Then if there’s something better, better pay better benefits, better working conditions, come let us know. 

And we will make a change to our pay and benefits as a result of that feedback. And not just a change for you. It’s for everyone that’s associated, or that makes sense to change as well. We probably made changes once a month, or once every other month as a result of feedback we get from there, so that our pay and benefits are always top of market.

Nicole: That’s fantastic. Yeah. And that will keep people loyal and engaged a long, long time. All right. So my HR people are like mind blown by that whole thing you just said. But don’t miss everybody. This is a CEO of a very successful company with a very, very serious mission, who is laying down his philosophy and putting things in place and rocking the SHINE coaching methodology at the same time. 

All right, so we are curious, how could we find you or find out more about your company? We’d love to maybe figure out if we could apply for a job with such a fine company. And where we might be able to follow along and see what you guys are doing. How could we find out more?

Mike: Yeah, you can visit our website by visiting That’s n o r h a r And there you can find a lot of interesting stuff, including new investment opportunities. But one of the more fun ones that’s new, is we got a new show, a new podcast, called Zero to Unicorn. And we’re now in recording season two. 

We just had an interview with Michael Uslan, who is the originator and the founder of the Batman movies and executive producer of them. And he spent 10 years trying to get that approved before making that the huge success that it is. So if you’re interested to see people that have made a worldwide impact on things, we have some amazing guests coming up.

Nicole: Oh, that’s fantastic. And also you can find Mike over on LinkedIn. And he has got all of his social media right at the bottom of his website. We have just had a delight in having you on the show, on the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. And here’s what I know. You enjoyed everything, you took great notes. I took two pages of notes. Again, people. 

So get these things written down. Helps you retain what you’re learning. And so here’s what I’d like you to do, would you go down to the bottom of the screen and just press that like button and leave a little love note for Mike and myself. I would really appreciate it. Mike, is there just one more nugget you might leave for a listener who’s like, wait, wait, don’t let him go. Get the nugget. One more thing you want to leave us with.

Mike: Yeah, you know, one thing that I have learned is that anything I start, I’m not very good at, right. And that’s very common. It’s human nature. We’re born in a way that we can’t walk, we can’t talk, we can’t add one plus one. But something happens in our mind as we get older, we start to think that when we start something new, we should be a success at it out of the gate. And that can hold us back, especially if we see some initial failure in that. 

But what I’ve learned is that you need to be comfortable in being uncomfortable. And the fact you didn’t hit in the stomach a bunch of times with problems and things that you face. The key is to be okay with that and just take your next step forward. And I can’t stress how important having that right mindset is to truly seeing long term success.

Nicole: That’s fantastic. All right. You gotta crawl before you walk. You gotta walk before you run. That’s what he’s telling us people. All right, so good. All right. So here’s what I want to do. I’m gonna sign us off with something Mike said. It’s an oldie but a goodie. He said, listen, shoot for the moon and you’ll land in the stars. And so thank you so much for being on the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast.

Mike: Thanks for having me.

Voiceover: Ready to build your vibrant culture? Bring Nicole Greer to speak to your leadership team, conference or organization to help them with their strategies, systems and smarts to increase clarity, accountability, energy and results. Your organization will get lit from within. Email And be sure to check out Nicole’s TEDx talk at

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