This is Part 2 in the series, written by Jeremy Scrivens, recently voted world’s most influential speaker and blogger on passion in the workplace, and the future of work.
How a great salesperson discovered the motivational power of recognition
Brownie Points is a 2nd stream platform in the future of work, leadership, business and organisational life. What is 2nd stream – it is the intentional use of the New Tech to augment every person to thrive and flourish in their work, relationships and lives. It puts people at the centre and it gives individuals and groups the apps and the data to create their own meaningful work experiences and to track their progress; how are we contributing and growing together, as individuals, as groups and as organisations.
In the first article in this series, I shared how in my thirty years in HR I had ‘discovered’ for myself the power of positive recognition and appreciation to engage people to go the extra mile or above and give above beyond to a customer, a colleague or their manager.
We were taught in HR that the most engaged people at work give their discretionary effort, the bit they hold back when they are not engaged. I describe this as a state of being, a state of flow, when an individual or a team or an organisation is giving the whole of their hands, their head and their heart to the task. 2nd stream tech sees organisations as living things and 2nd stream leaders look to discover what gives life and vitality to individuals, groups and organisations, so they can learn, flourish and grow through Vital Conversations.
2nd Stream Leaders use the New Tech to install positive feedback loops into the daily work experience. They put this data into the hands of individuals and teams because people who own what they create and they take responsibility when they care about the topics.
What are these topics that deeply engage people to go to another level of life and contribution? I have been listening to what people really care about for a long time now. One topic that keeps coming up is the human cry for positive recognition and appreciation.
In an earlier article, I wrote about my own personal sea change when I threw away my diagnostic tools looking for what was wrong in people and instead looked to uncover the best in people and their contribution, not the worst.
I began to ask people different questions and it changed everything. I wrote about how I was called in to work with a freight company that was losing its best drivers to a competitor. Instead of doing exit interviews, I asked the drivers who were staying why they were staying. All of them worked for the same depot manager who did something the other depot managers didn’t. He gave his drivers positive recognition and showed appreciation for when they did good things, not bad. The other depot managers only gave negative feedback to their drivers and the good ones left.
This was a profound personal awakening for me, a revelation in fact; so, it was for Tony Delaney, CEO of Brownie Points a 2nd stream platform which puts people first through edifying and lifting them up through positive recognition in real time.
Brownie Points a 2nd stream platform which puts people first through edifying and lifting them up through positive recognition in real time.
Brownie Points is already making an impact, such that one aged care company in Western Australia, Swan Care – who installed Brownie Points – won a national award for having the most engaged staff in the aged care sector. That got my interest straight away! Aged Care is a challenging industry in which to attract, keep and motivate good people.
Brownie Points has been installed at Swan Care in Perth. They named the program Feathers and have won an award for the most engaged staff in the aged care sector.
Brownie Points is good kit but I don’t want to talk about its features and applications; not just yet. I want to start with Tony’s personal journey. Tony is a modest and humble man. He happens to be one of the greatest salespersons in the last thirty years. I came to this topic of recognition through my HR lens, Tony through his years of being motivated as a salesperson selling the New Tech. Tony discovered for himself the motivational power of recognition in his own journey, that’s why I want to share some of this now. Tony’s personal story is the motivation and the passion for Brownie Points.
So, please, join our conversation.
Tony, can you tell us a little bit of your story?
I started my working life as an accountant. Absolutely hated it but became fascinated when I audited the expenses of sales people who, back in the seventies, seemed to have unlimited expense accounts. I thought that’s for me!
I got a job with a software company selling accounting software. They wanted someone with an accounting background to sell the software. That’s how I got into the tech industry, which I have stayed in ever since. They had one of the first desktop solutions, that was a Convergent Technology piece of kit. A screen with a box and a disc in it that sat on a plinth three feet wide! One big lump and it sat on the desk, a forerunner to the desktops of the nineties.
I had a variety of jobs and then was head hunted to join Information Builders. They had one of the first 4th Gen languages in the market called Focus. It was one of the first pieces of kit people could use without being a programmer. It had a whole suite of management information and was very successful. Information Builders were the very first company to take a mainframe product and put it onto a laptop.
Why were you head hunted?
Because I was in business against their product and they wanted me to sell their product. It was a better product and this attracted me.
What made you a good salesperson Tony?
I never tried to see the tech, I tried to sell the solution. I focused on the benefits to the organisation. I have never sold hardware or software, only the benefits. I took time to build rapport with people and to build relationships. This led to trust and I believe my clients felt that they could rely on me.
I hope this is not a leading question – did you believe in what you were selling Tony, was it a job or a passion?
It was a passion.
Did you believe in what you were selling Tony, was it a job or a passion?
It was certainly a passion.
The first time I felt this was with the Focus product. Prior to that I was trying to sell green screens and funny little cursors. Focus brought real meaning in helping people do their work better.
Tony, you were coming into your own at a time when the tech moved out of the hands of the geeks and into the hands of ordinary citizens to help them experience better work and even life?
Yes. Focus was my first experience of selling proper solutions that really did make a difference. Before I was selling a server or a data base which didn’t set the world on fire.
How did this difference make you feel about the worth of your own work?
For me the difference was that you could see people’s eyes light up. People could see how the solution was going to improve their work experience. This was no longer a conversation with geeks but with real people!
Would it be fair to say that when you saw people’s faces light up; you felt you were making a contribution?
Tony: Yes, it was the first time that I got passionate about my work. I saw I could make a difference to people. My success came from my passion.
Just before coming to Australia, I worked for an Irish company that was selling mobile tech, it was really advanced. They were selling the capability to have a wallet on your phone or book concert tickets. They were successful and again, something new, a hand-held device that was truly portable and solutions that people hadn’t thought about before.
Jeremy: Tony, there is this consistent theme of innovation in your story, being in and around something new but also something of real, tangible benefit to people.
Tony: I have always loved being at the cutting edge of bringing something new into existence that helps people in their work and life. For example, mobile top ups – having the capability for a parent to top up their children’s mobile phone and lock information. This was revolutionary in its day.
When I came to Australia in 2008, I got a job with a company who sold intelligent software that could almost think for itself. It was used by the military for war games and in the Eurofighter. It was a fantastic piece of kit but I just felt uncomfortable selling it to Defence and the military, knowing it would be used to kill people. I wanted to sell tech that would augment people.
I was successful whilst I was there. Something happened which awoke in me the power of recognition and how could technology leverage this for individuals, managers and organisations. As always, the most powerful awakenings are when they are personal.
Whilst there, the British Consulate put out a competition for the best technology. I put a submission in and won! I got a nice plaque and two first class tickets to the UK, of which I insisted to our MD that I should get one! I felt so good. It was one of my first experiences of the power of positive recognition for work. The reward, the air ticket was great, but it was the recognition that really mattered to me.
The reward, the air ticket was great, but it was the recognition that really mattered to me
Then I moved to a company that specialised in loyalty systems for the car industry. You buy a car and they give you a loyalty programme and all sorts of benefits. This was my first taste of what I am today and what gets me up in the morning with Brownie Points. Giving something to someone for doing something that goes above and beyond for someone else without tying this to a reward but to the human need for recognition and appreciation.
Giving something to someone for doing something that goes above and beyond for someone else without tying this to a reward but to the human need for recognition and appreciation.
The car loyalty tech was transactional, not transformational. It was about extrinsic rewards, not recognition. But it got me thinking.
What if we could use a tech platform for people to experience meaning in their work by giving them recognition for doing something good for someone else?
What if we built this feedback and the positive conversations into the heart of a person’s daily work experience?
What if we could share the best stories of exceptional ‘doing good for someone else’ across a whole organisation, what would this do for employee motivation, contribution and organisational learning, what if? So, the idea of Brownie Points was born.
Thank you, Tony.
Brownie Points is firstly a vision for a world of work which puts people first. Secondly it is a philosophy or underlying theory about what motivates people to give of their very best. Thirdly it is a true 2nd stream digital tech platform and App in that it puts the tech in the hands of every individual and it recognises that every person is motivated differently. Authentic recognition is at the heart of the full experience and potential of inclusion and diversity.
Please join us for the next instalment of the Brownie Points story. One tip, look out for the story of the Concierge’s Tie.
In the meantime, if I have got your curiosity going and would like to know more about Brownie Points or the Concierge’s Tie – please reach out to Tony and the team here – tell them how you found out about them!