Unapologetically BOLD: I'm not sorry for....
Being fired with Pete Havel
October 14, 2020
Have you ever been fired? Oh, the gut-wrenching feeling. It's scary and leads to a lot of unknowns. But in this conversation, Pete talks about how he has turned this bad experience and turn it into an opportunity! About the guest: Pete Havel, a leading speaker, trainer, and consultant on workplace culture and office politics, is author of the best-selling book recently ranked as Amazon’s #1 ‘Hot New Release’ The Arsonist in the Office: Fireproofing Your Life Against Toxic Coworkers, Bosses, Employees, and Cultures He helps organizations take on people's problems and bad behavior in the workplace–the challenge that puts them in headlines and courtrooms! For more information, visit www.petehavel.com
Have you ever been fired?

Oh, the gut-wrenching feeling.  It's scary and leads to a lot of unknowns. But in this conversation, Pete talks about how he has turned this bad experience and turn it into an opportunity!

About the guest:
Pete Havel, a leading speaker, trainer, and consultant on workplace culture and office politics, is author of the best-selling book recently ranked as Amazon’s #1 ‘Hot New Release’ The Arsonist in the Office: Fireproofing Your Life Against Toxic Coworkers, Bosses, Employees, and Cultures

He helps organizations take on people's problems and bad behavior in the workplace–the challenge that puts them in headlines and courtrooms!

For more information, visit

The transcription bot apparently isn't perfect...but who is?

[00:00:01] spk_0: welcome to unapologetically bold. I'm not sorry for If you're a person that is tired of apologizing for being you, you know the human part of you that sometimes feels like it has to be different at home versus work versus play. The human side that just wants to be hot, humble, open and transparent about your wants, desires and uniqueness. If you answered yes. This podcast is for you to join me, Emily Elrod as I dive into conversations with Amazing Guest. About what? You're not sorry for initiating and loving ways. Let's get started. I am beyond blessed today to have a peace with Havel is author Amazing book called The Arsonist in the Office And I did a little linked in a content post about it and just have after reading that how engaged I've been in with this book. And it was it was a quick read. So I'm so happy for you to come on, want to talk about content as a leader you never hear, and then to about the good that comes from it. So, Pete, thank you so much for joining me on the show today also. So just tell us a little bit about herself. I know that you were an author, but mawr, if the audience what's know more

[00:01:22] spk_1: about you? Sure, the author things really need to be, uh, it's still It's very strange when I have people you know, asking you to sign, but it's still weird. I don't know that that myself design my own book, but, um, yeah, this is This is very new being a consultant trainer, things in that sense in that past, the my world. And this is where I alienate about three quarters of your audience. I saw a career in politics, a za lobbyist and political consultant, and thinks that you know everybody around the countries of celebs, especially during an election season. So that's what it did. Influence People supported business community on all sorts of good things that create jobs. But I had that once, hopefully once in a lifetime moments of of something that shook me up in the wrong way at first, but then sent me in a direction that it's pretty cool. I hear from people all literally all over the world. Say either thank you, or can you help me on this question or something? like that because I talked about the worst moment in my life that, frankly, has led to some of the best moments. So it Zoff

[00:02:31] spk_0: Hello? That I think that dots right into what you're not sorry for so feet.

[00:02:36] spk_1: If

[00:02:36] spk_0: you tell the world what are usual worry for

[00:02:39] spk_1: I got fired and I'm not sorry for it. I, uh absolutely not. When you're in the middle of a circus, Don't don't be surprised. Don't be. Be afraid. Actually, um, feel grounded by by the fact that you may have been the one normal person in your organization.

[00:02:59] spk_0: And I love that because your book again, you go into a big detail on it. So if you could give the audience just a brief background of the story, I'm gonna tell we're gonna go get the book like the book is a quick read and it is so fun and entertaining. And at first you're like, this is over the top, but then it's like, Oh, no is reality. And I've had arsonists in essence, and the book is called The Arsons in the Office. I've dealt with people that are arsonists in the office, so speak to your story, and then also, I want to define what an arsonist is.

[00:03:33] spk_1: Absolutely. I bring people prolactin words behind enemy lines with me into the craziest job scenario you can ever imagine. Um, it starts out with me being called into my CEO's office after what was strange hours. Worked with people basically beginning with Hi. Nice to meet you, Pete. Um, we're praying for you in here, and you know, that's great. I believe in the power of permanence. Awfully strange area from complete strangers. And they haven't told you why? Um, the, uh but my CEO calls me in and says, I probably should have told you all of this before, but I don't think you'd be here today and then tells me what I knew what my job was on paper, but he told me what? It was kind of off menu, if you will. It was I was hired to partner with and essentially become a Kevlar vest for the organization. Um, if being the buffer between them and an employee that they call the arsonist. If somebody that filed at that point somewhere between two and three dozen complaints often believed to be false and they give me this person's job and basically say a good what do you go get him and what is know if you need anything and it was hell on wheels for the next. Well, lawyers won't let me say how I was to identify the company, but, uh, it was it was crazy. And, uh, when I left in the book,

[00:05:13] spk_0: it definitely waas cause amassing in the few things that element you point out is that it is okay, didn t bring actual complaints up. But whenever there Dylan four reasonings to bring people down for belittling. And as you talk like in your book, the first meeting, you have the ladies of button in her top just to get a reaction to see what you can do. And she comes to your private meetings and then she goes to your wife. I feel like that's the straw that broke, broke the camel's back, but were personal. And then it nobody's dealing with, like management doesn't know how to deal with her.

[00:05:51] spk_1: Now they have made the decision that, um, she had made some and keep on using the the the Feminine Program. This is not a book about anything into women. Men cause more problems in the workplace. It just happens to be my story, but the crazy numbers of of complaints. But they had made the determination that she was so volatile, so unpredictable, so reckless solidity, so many different things that they thought, you know what, at least on, and if we keep her in this job, we know what she's doing. We don't know what she'll do to us from the outside if we Terminator. So we're going Teoh to keep her inside and let other people do with her. And that was essentially as I want my role

[00:06:45] spk_0: and that's what you put in there is cheaper to keep her. And I want to do a preface on this. To that, I love how you put in the aspects of the reality what men face because of false accusers. But then also the reality of work, work zone or work environments that don't address of users. So I love there's a whole, uh, basically chapter that you eloquently put out that case on why it's not good for your your daughter. Even talk about your daughter in that. But then also, what's all suited up for the man and an understanding that's a viable like like that's about this. A Bible feeling, you know, you don't as a man as much as it is as a woman, you know,

[00:07:25] spk_1: walks you out of your career. Um, in a lot of occasions without a lot of questions asked, I was terrified. I, um I didn't want that accusation on my on my record, so yeah,

[00:07:38] spk_0: So And I even, um talked to a guy that I put that Lincoln post out and he wouldn't even like it because he called big and airy Text me and he's like, I just want you to know this is so true. Like, cause what I have found out is that whenever I got fire or I don't get fired, whatever I left, um, I chose to leave. I was told that everybody is replaceable, including me, like, and I don't all these athletes, I've got stuff in a really Indian. It already go obviously because I am human. But I was like, OK, but after reading your book, one of the biggest incest, not everybody's replaceable because there were people that are still working that or in essence in that, and they still may not be there Still, but they're arsonists in the office. And they kept getting promoted and from one area to another area to another area just because people either wouldn't want to deal with them or to their great performers. So talk about that for a minute. On what do you think? People get promoted even though there so like destroying a culture and environment?

[00:08:50] spk_1: Sure. A, um is I only used the term selfish, but there I probably don't mean something that strong. An atmosphere where everybody's looking at for themselves first. Yeah, in some ways. Tough. Argue with the, um with the supervisor. Who says, You know what? This person is making me a lot of money. They're making me look good. Um and, you know, on each of the calculations they're reviewing, they're probably wrong. But whether doing it's like getting about half way through a problem on your S a. T s and declaring that the answer, you're you're not doing all the math, it's necessary or not Looking at the people who are leaving forever, that will never come back to the place because of what they saw happen. You're not looking at the lawsuits. You're not looking yet. The, uh, frank with physical and mental health of employees. The reputation, um, in of of, uh, the organization. There's so many different things to get missed in that calculation. And you're absolutely right. The people that do the kind of shorthand problem on that math is my top performer. It's an easy choice, but do do this stuff on the back of the page because you're gonna get very different results.

[00:10:08] spk_0: Yeah, I love that. Because the other thing that realized to May is I think wellness and safety programs for companies and one among things that confer shirt me so much is that sometimes people care more about their customers well, being more than their employees. Well, the and talk about that well, I'll say that in one of the stories I know that they didn't care about the customers well being. Whenever you talk about the fish with the lady they basically put out on a firing squad. It felt like every political terms. But talk about that whenever people care more about results and the productivity compared it to the well being of the group of the individuals.

[00:10:54] spk_1: Sure it's he's his. For lack of a better analogy, I would like it to that old saying about. Once you start down the path of lying, you're telling bigger and bigger lies. We've already, I think, in a culture. When it starts to go bad, you find people having to cover more and more because it's not just that that first action bad behavior or, uh, you know, whether it's whether it's corruption or yelling screamer, any of the things that communicated toxic workplace is it becomes page after page incident after incident. Who has caught the virus of toxicity so much in what may start in the wellness is and safety department. Not by you, of course, but you know, in your department. And then it heads over the finance because finance figured out that you can get away with X amount of stuff and they get the job and you suddenly have one. A whole lot of unethical people to your standards have dropped completely, but three it is host a protection racket in that there's so much going on. Everybody knows a little bit of something, which makes you, if you know enough makes you pretty irreplaceable because no one wants to come after you.

[00:12:18] spk_0: Yeah, it really is. And so talk to people about you getting fired and how much it has helped you afterwards. Like what has been the beauty that has came from it.

[00:12:32] spk_1: There's a lot of things, um, and I will not. And, you know, I hear from people regularly about what should I do? Should I She just quit. I can't take anymore all these different things that I was council people, that unless it's affecting your your mental or physical health, as hard as it is sucking up until you can get to safety, if you will be a pressure in an organization, keep on driving on to the finish of you know, someplace where you can land elsewhere. But when it when it's done for me. And my, uh, my firing was essentially I spoke up when it's you talked about, things got crazy. Things began looking like a lifetime. Um, movie of the week. And

[00:13:19] spk_0: it's crazy.

[00:13:23] spk_1: Yeah, got even stranger. So what the would it became for me when I spoke up, I was, uh I was booted and it hurt, and it uh, you know, it's tough to the answer that question in that next interview of why did you leave your last employer? Well, now I can say already turned Teoh Shepherd Chapter three and you can you can read it. But up until that point, I was paralyzed and my confidence was shot because it was something. How do I I don't even tell people I was in the right. If there's a right and wrong this I was the guy that wasn't fascinated. Problems in I'm out, and I'm pretty because of it, because professional, um so what? It's done for a few things. One is given me a story I could tell the book gives us very well. Two is giving me a mission in life. Um, it lit a fire under me. And I will tell you, I could have cared less about culture, and I always thought it it was touchy feely word I never explained because I was worked on some pretty great places. Love, my boss is Some of my co workers were in my way. I was have fun in my jobs that never worked remotely in a lot of cases. So you know if I had problems at work. It was my fault. Um, what it's done for me is it would've fired under me like nobody's business in that, um I saw I had my own experience. I really saw other people go through the Agni with them again. And, um, I've learned some lessons from it. Really? Not soon enough, because I didn't do the analysis until I wrote the book and so took me a while to figure out really? All right, where the weaknesses in the what are those things that I haven't? Oh, maybe I give too many strikes to, you know. Okay, let me, uh we'll just move on from that because I don't want to be that guy, and, um, they're sometimes you you better start documenting. You need to watch your back. There's that old saying of, uh, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean you're not being followed. There's a little bit of that in in the workplace, situations in that you can let's stop for a several off your back multiple times. But at some point, if the same thing is happening again and again, you're not dealing with it. You probably haven't issue that you better take care of or it's gonna bring you. So for me it is given a platform. It's given me missions, given me friends all around the world, some great shows. Teoh, come on. But it is, you know, for what started out as about the most miserable position I have been in in life has turned into incredible opportunity and blessing.

[00:16:13] spk_0: No answer, No, but I think it's true, because I'll say whenever I left, it was a leap of faith. It was scary. Everything on Yeah, left on my own. But it was single. I just knew it was a point that every more being shot, some lives well and even do it. Wellness and safety programs which I continue to do now, like I was less be able to learn how to do stuff there, almost 10 pails and like and I ate the healthiest. I moved the most while I was in essence, was it. But I was so stressed out and how much it had affected my health not being able to live out my purpose, not in just in essence, being stressed all the time, working long hours for things that just I feel like I couldn't get things don. And then I remember there was times where I have meetings were I don't even have typically don't crime. Very. I could be very stoic at times. I'm trying to get better to be more human, but I would be left would like crying in a lady. And I'm like, I've never done this before. Like, there didn't bullies like yelling and screaming at me. Why don't you come to be one on one? Like, why don't we like you talk to me like we're best friends, and then we get a meeting in its attack zone. So talking about things like that in how, what red flags? Because there was made they Now I look back. It's like, Oh, this is red flag. This is like when the company culture is plastered all over the walls, but the people are acting it. You know, some of those things. What? You what are some red flags? If anybody that,

[00:17:54] spk_1: uh I 20 of them in the book Tonto being a football fan, everything comes in top 20 something. Sue me. Um, but some of the biggest ones of the reddest of the red flags are things like retaliation. Um, somebody speaks up Somebody, uh, you know, puts in their, uh, their opinions on things, or they accidentally crossed a line of Hey, bus. I heard about this. This problem we've got and that problem that they found maybe something that nobody's supposed to know about. And they find themselves out of a drop, or they find themselves not getting that promotion. Um, but, um, not a lot of cases today. That person and I talked about a couple examples in the book. Didn't know what hit. Oh, until they're out of the job in that the ground. It's not instant. The groundwork may have been laid long ago to take you out, and you're sitting there just stunned. Shocked? You don't even have it on your radar street. But it was put out on it. Um, some other things are certainly the yelling and screaming the expect. Yeah, um, also silence, um, as well. On the flip side of Okay, you've got a toxic manager that everyone's afraid of, and they give the obligatory All right. Does anyone have any questions? And their silence, um, is because everyone has learned you don't say anything and especially in your world. Well, listen, safety in that kind of thing in the right industry, if you've got a full season, are going to speak up when they see a safety issue, you got all sorts of problems. Uh, those air this riff you on those were some of the worst, but, uh, play more

[00:19:41] spk_0: yes, and then talking about two people Cove. It has put a lot of people out of their jobs, some having to fire. Some have been furloughed. Some have been released or have to leave on their own. Talk to those people that are looking to go back into the work force. You talk about fireproofing yourself to be able to go into in checking things out. What is some recommendations you would have for people that heaven fire Lego and finding a new job?

[00:20:16] spk_1: Yeah, they There's several of them that you can do right now. Some of them are trickier. Um, I think I have a list of about tangible, but some of those are just a inoperative and that you can't go, you know, waltz into, uh, into the office and look around. Tough to get that face to face meeting in some instances, but go online. Um and, uh, uh, Google. Things like presents. Uh, let's say, um, Pete's candy store still. All right, what's in for that peace games for lawsuits, sexual harassment, all these different things that are kind of buzzwords for something's wrong here. Then head over the glass door while you're while you're in the neighborhood ancient check and see what the with the reviews are. And, uh, I wouldn't say because you're always gonna find somebody who's mad about something. Um, grande company's gonna be hit by somebody that hit that they're just happen. But you can start seeing trends. Um, especially when they're talking about, you know, certain departments, for instance, and, uh, that they points very something very specific. You may start seeing. Yeah, I guess it's a look. Look for those trends. Don't worry about the one review. They may be right, but you don't want to rely on one complete strangers view on the Internet about, uh, about becomes. But if you're seeing fire six people talking similarly, um, check it out. The last thing I would say LinkedIn is your friend. Go on there taping the company's name and one of the search fires, and especially that people have time on their hands. Find out who has worked there. Maybe don't go toe to current employees to find out the last word. And just say I am applying for this job. You have a few minutes with love to talk with you about your experiences in, uh, in the company. You're gonna get people and incidentally, people their networking. Right Now, go contact your friends on on LinkedIn. Give him a call and reach, actually, because, frankly, we're all bored right now. You will give it access right now. Uh, you never have

[00:22:25] spk_0: in everything that something's That's huge because what I found is like big life decisions. We usually just do it on the way. I'm not getting married. We don't do your research on the other person, you know, it's like, let's just walk down the aisle, and then it's like getting a job. Listen, let's just take it,

[00:22:44] spk_1: Yeah, in cars and everything else, You You're so excited just and just have the opportunity. You don't think through this those basic things. And frankly, this is a huge reason. Wire of the book because, uh, you're not thinking clearly. It may be that excitement that you talk about, you know, the new car, college acceptance of marriage or whatever else, but it may be you got PTSD kind of thing going on with You don't work well under pressure. You, um as a consultant, you can appreciate this. You may be better A better consultant, then, you know, Then you do fill in the blank. I'm for me. When I was in politics, I was better as a consultant. What was this? A candid. I just thought more clear with same thing in workplace situation. So, yeah, I, uh, really think there's something to that and much like anything else, um, you may know something, but it doesn't mean when you're in a really bad situation, you're gonna apply. And that's Ah, a huge thing. I hear again and again really smart people that just kind of obliterated in a bad situation because they're worried about survival. Um, at that very second. But they're not thinking about anything else around, and they can hurt.

[00:24:06] spk_0: And that's what we speak a lot about. And recently, on our wellness and safety, we address stress first because never you're so stressed out you're learning centers of your brain shut down and so you can't be creative. You can't be innovative. And that's the one thing that also that was very big. And while point back to the importance of caring for your employees, health first, before your customer self because you want to be innovative, you want to grow. I don't know any company that doesn't want to be creative and do great things, But if you have people there walking around like robots, they're only gonna do what they have done. Task over and over again. It is letting mechanical base. Oh, it's not going to be that that thinking that we want

[00:24:48] spk_1: and you don't even know that therefore, you crawl inside. So I, uh, for me when it when I'm stressed, my back started hurting my shoulder started acting up. I didn't. But I never I'm stubborn enough to realize I'm stressed. Produce that company. You got a message?

[00:25:07] spk_0: Yeah, and that's a big thing to is to understand where you do what you do with your stress. So I'm what is called it. Someone has her, which is like how you are you keep it in your body in you don't let it out because if you let it out, like people might think that you're like a bad person and you like to stay pretty. Probably that's how I am. And so I will keep it in, and I know it's in my shoulders and into my ballot and having those those reactions. So where doesn't even play in a part of your body is very important for people, but whenever you're too stressed, sometimes you don't realize it. A family member Mark start saying things. So I guess that's another thing is what has your wife said for you from Go being in the situation to being fired? What has her thoughts on the book and everything is well,

[00:25:55] spk_1: Oh, she's one of the experience. That would be a very interesting question, you know, and let me only start from when I was going through all that. There's a riel struggle that I had because it was it wasn't intermittent weirdness. The crazy rain cloud of this function was not coming over me over once a lot. It was a downpour. Yeah, I could have brought that home every day And at some point, frankly, I decided. You know what? I'm gonna I'm gonna work my way through the shortly I'm gonna win because I done Well, that's another situation. I'm gonna come out OK on this, But in the end, I had Teoh you have some conversations of OK, this just not really Well, um, and, uh, it it's been a challenging a few years that I talk a little bit about, um But, you know, at some point you can either what that stuff break you or remake it. And for me, it was It was definitely the the remaking process. Rely on my faith a lot. Trust my faith a lot. And for me, if one of those things and a joke about that, um, there's two things I hold to in life this gives you seem like a weird combination, but, uh, God hasn't player on. And if it doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. Um, when those two things are intersecting, it's a really we're time to be it. But but for me, I kind of wrote it out in that. Okay, this is about the most surreal. And I pretty much determined that for my friends because nobody had experience like I had. Uh, this is an experience that surely, for whatever reason I was put on Earth is this is pretty a bit more unique than some has that, um, then I need to talk about it. I need Teoh to help other people and then from there to figure out what else Um, I could do with it. And, uh, some people thought it was absolutely crazy. Uh, because you know, it's a taboo. You don't want to talk about a previous employer, and I never identify himself. Um, I I was careful about that in that I was both professional, but also very, very open about what I experienced. Um, but there's a lot of risk, I think, just concerned about. All right, how is this going to go? A lot of people write books. Not all of the men. Well, it's a, um you know, on this subject it was I had some people being like artist apple driving over the cliff when they read it. Especially when they had other people seeing what other people were posting about. Oh, my gosh. This applies Teoh. My life. This is happening inside the company. I think a lot of those doubting Thomases were like, Okay, good. Jumpy. Yeah. Thanks, Kim. That's for work out. So, yeah, I will not lie that it has been a, uh, an absolute roller coaster ride. Um, but the opportunities I'm seeing to help some major industries the crises that are popping up every day and companies this week, it's the Ellen Show. Other times, you know, we see what's happening with law enforcement, for instance, about now that rogue employees, a few employees that, um, can hurt everyone. There's just different principles that are learned from. If you don't address your problem, you're gonna have more. It's like the gravel. I think that the movie the ground was were you know, they they start multiplying. But yeah, it's been, um it's a strange thing to say. I'm very fortunate to have gone through about the biggest nightmare imaginable because who I am today, I think, is, um, somebody that can help a lot more people than when I was doing before. Yeah,

[00:30:14] spk_0: I love and I think it's so true. So I never rot at the end of our time. So if you could tell anybody that is apologizing for being fired. What would you say to them

[00:30:28] spk_1: first if they were feeling bad about themselves? Don't not enough. You can't walk through that anymore to There's gonna be some lesson you will learn. So think room and figure out. What do you want? What we did. Right for you. For your family talkto. Um And, uh, if you feel like you need to be sorry to say your sorry butt, but move on your get through it together, But finally, and I know I'm going over on this answer. Don't be ashamed, but take when you could learn from it and turn it into a strength. And I will wrap up with this. I heard from a guy earlier this week who was talking about. How do I haven't even talked about being fired in the next interview inspired late last week, and he contact me over the weekend. Spoke yesterday, and he s So what do I do? And, you know, we walked through and said, Don't don't ask your employer. He knew that, um, but give me a little bit more information about what happened, and it was a case where Hey, had spoken up, and he was a guy that when he saw problems he wanted to identify and his organization, they covered him up. And, uh, that if there was a problem, you know, you, uh you saw those full of dirt will take care of the issue, and you'll see it happens Everything. But I said, what you just identified is, um, you left a drop and you were can do kind of person and that when you see an issue happening that is gonna hurt the productivity of company, you're gonna be the first one to volunteer to help solve it. That's who you are. You're not the guy that, uh, uh, they got fired and decide what the strengths are and running because there's a lot of companies for as much as we have really screwed up ones, there's a lot of great companies that you say I want that personality.

[00:32:27] spk_0: Yes, and I think that's true. I think the big point to I want to point out is that most companies, I think are great. They really are. But it's just those bad ones that are just so loud. And you hear so many stories that it's, um it really can resonate with you and you can remember those so and I'm I'm blessed to work with amazing company. So I will say that there is light at the end of the tunnel. You just actually find it. So thank you so much for joining me. Thank you for everybody that watches. Well, go get pizza book. We tell them where you think you would get your book.

[00:33:02] spk_1: Sure, they go on my website at Arsonist in the office dot com, Or or hop on Amazon, where they have not only the paperback that's on my website, but also the e book and the audiobook, where you'll hear all the craziness that I reinstate that all the lessons

[00:33:22] spk_0: I have it on. Audible it. I read it already one time going to go back through it again. It is good. I've already recommended for a few people because here's the thing I'm thinking about my Booklist. Your book is in the top. I have to say that at least top 10. We're looking talk Bob, just because if I had had that, if you're over optimistic to that, is your book right? Blacks or for dealing with arsonist in office, maybe. Thank you again. So much feet. It was such a blessing to get to talk with you. And thanks for all the join. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of unapologetically bold. I'm not sorry for this test shoot anyway, please, like and subscribe and share with your friends as we continue the message of being unapologetically bold, Bobby and hot humans who are humble, open and transparent, CNN.