Jan. 27, 2022

How to Support and Grow the Trades Workforce with Christopher Brenchley of Rock the Trades

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Although there’s an immense lack of skilled tradespeople, there’s still tremendous investment going into our nation’s infrastructure. It’s great that the US has the money to improve infrastructure, but if you don’t have the people to do the work, it can’t be done. That’s why Rock the Trades was born.

In this episode, we have Christopher Brenchley, CEO and Co-Founder of Surehand, the skills-first hiring platform that instantly matches industrial employers with best-fit tradespeople. Chris is also evangelizing the growing workforce development initiative, Rock the Trades. Rock the Trades is celebrating the American industrial worker, raising awareness of the skilled trades as a financially rewarding career path, and empowering those that choose to embark on this journey.

Listen in to learn why supporting the educational system is necessary in supporting the trades workforce and how you can join this incredible initiative!

What You’ll Learn in This Episode:

·       The mission and goals behind Rock the Trades and Surehand.

·       Why is there a shortage of skilled tradespeople?

·       How the Rock the Trade Scholarship Program is empowering young people to join the trades.

·       Technical/Vocational educators and instructors are being poorly compensated… How can we fix that?

·       Chris’ career journey: Lessons he’s learned, his personal mission, & his biggest inspirations.

·       Opportunities for advancing your career and earning potential in the skilled trades.

·       The power of hiring a coach.

·       The importance of a beginner’s mindset & engaging your community.

·       Missteps and experiences Chris has had in launching digital B2B products/services and as an executive in large trades-based corporations.

·       How to connect with Rock the Trades and support their mission.


Resources Mentioned:

Download the Rock the Trades App: www.rockthetrades.com/app 

Skilled Trades Alliance: www.skilledtradesalliance.net

Bring Back the Trades: www.bringbackthetrades.com 

Intelligent Construction Opportunities: www.intellopps.com/home


Connect with Chris Brenchley & Rock the Trades:

Visit their website: www.rockthetrades.com 

Follow them on Instagram: www.instagram.com/rockthetrades 

Connect with Chris on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/chrisbrenchley 

Follow Rock the Trades on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/showcase/rockthetrades 


blue collar households, everybody, you guys get the joke on this, right? Y'all understand the value and fulfillment that come from a career in the trades. You understand that just because you learn a trade, therefore have a skill that you can use to fund your life forever. By the way, you'll never suffer for work. It doesn't mean you have to do that forever. We talk to people all the time that come in from the field or off the job site, they go into management. There's no better career path to a small business ownership or entrepreneurial success than entering in the skilled trades. That is Mr. Christopher Brenchley with rock the trades. He's been out there evangelizing, uh, for trades, for careers in the trades. And he's been highlighting several men and women, um, as rockers. And you'll be able to see his social media postings on like Instagram and LinkedIn. Uh, and they're, you know, I'm a little jealous how Michelle was on one of them. Great stuff though. I mean, it totally uplifts the people that are doing the work that we recognize to be trading. He and I get into some pretty deep discussions. Around the complex problem that is this skilled trades shortage. He points out that is multi-generational. We're talking talk about transfer of knowledge, formal and informal mentorship, uh, educators at CTE programs, the stress and, and conflict that parents experience when they're in support of their children, start in a blue collar trade. Which leads to him describing his vision of white collar parents, celebrating their children beginning a blue collar career. And when you talk about like a marker, a line in the sand, the war. That's that's a pretty significant one. And I think with all the L and M family out there, we'll get there. We'll get there. let's not forget to give a shout out to our patrons that have been supporting and contributing to the show to keep us commercial three. And of course, we're going to shout out the L and M family members that have been pitching in, contributing some dollars into this effort, helping us stay commercial free. Uh, and we invite the rest of you listeners out there to hit us up@learningsandmissteps.com. You can sign up for the mailing list where we'll send out some cool stuff once a month. I promise not to harass you too much, or head on over to the, become a member button. Click on that bad boy and become a patron would appreciate any and all the support that you give us. And here we go. What's going on, LnM family . Here we are with Mr. Christopher Brenchley, also known as CB. Uh, how you doing this morning? I'm doing great. Jesse, happy Saturday. It's good to be on with you. Oh man. It was, it's amazing. The power of social media. Um, you know, for a long time I treated it more like a slacking goofing off type of thing. And all of a sudden, uh, it's become a powerful source to connect with amazing people. Uh, and you and I got connected. Uh, we have a kindred spirit around, um, having an impact on the trades out there and the industry. So now the question, I mean, it's such an important topic. I'm glad we're talking about it today. Um, so I, so you're in the industry now. With Surehand and Rock the Trades, uh, and y'all are making big giant waves. I mean, I've seen, uh, Shannon, Tomasko Darcy, several other people that you're highlighting Barbie, the welder, who we just interviewed. Um, you seem to be doing a lot to, to highlight and elevate and celebrate those individuals. How did, how did that whole idea come, come to pass? Uh, yeah, that's a great question. And, and, you know, and as I said, it's such an important topic for us all to consider out there, but rock the trades is really born out of the work we were already doing with Surehand. And just simply, you know, for your audience, Surehand, the way to think about it as match.com for industrial employment. So we use big tech to con you know, give industrial employers across energy manufacturing, construction, a faster, more cost-effective way to find best fit, skilled trades, talent, uh, semi-skilled industrial labor. You get the idea. So we're up here in Silicon valley, you know, uh, doing our thing. And, uh, we stood that company up in 2018, we're doing our thing and, you know, along comes 2020, right. And we were, we were serving the oil and gas industry initially that was our beachhead market, um, actually serving in a very unknown sort of trade, uh, called non-destructive testing, industrial inspection. It's probably one of the most pervasive trades that I know of that no. Has ever heard of, so it's a tremendous career path if you're, you know, uh, if you're interested in an interesting career in the trades, uh, that has a big impact on our world, have a look at non-destructive testing and industrial inspection. But anyway, so, you know, at the beginning of 2020 oil and gas was taking it on the chin from, you know, the oil price wars that were going on, and then here comes the pandemic. Right. And it's affected all of us in many ways, you know, too many, uh, frankly. But yeah, you know, one of the impacts that it had on our business was in the oil and gas sector because of that down to. Um, demand dropped, right? Prices fell, oil and gas went negative for a bit, right. Crazy stuff. So anyway, it forced us, we went through this sort of very existential moment as a business and it kind of led to two things. One, it accelerated our expansion into the manufacturing sector, which we did is we came out of last, uh, going into last year. But the other thing that it did is it, you know, these moments will sort of push their good forcing function. And we looked at the business, we looked at the world that we were serving and the space we were playing in. And I realized that, you know, for the thousands of industry conversations we'd had since 2018. So, you know, all the industry, stakeholders, employers, industry, associations, trade schools, trades people themselves. It became very clear to us that as good as the work we're doing, you know, connecting work with workers and the other way around. Is there going to keep doing that? The bigger problem actually sat at the top of the talent pipeline in the skilled trades and that there just weren't enough people out there getting excited about enthusiastic for and embarking upon careers in the skilled trades. And we realized we had frankly, an existential, um, need, uh, or imperative to go after that, uh, issue. And that was really the Genesis of the rock, the trades initiative, which we just stood up, you know, less than a year ago. And we've just had so much positive momentum since then. And the videos that like the thing that really captures my attention and. In terms of just kind of visual, uh, pleasure, but also like the potential impact that it can have on drawing youth in, or not just youth, anybody into the industry. It's the videos of the folks like doing the Dom work. Like it's powerful in, in it's it's, it's in, it's sexy. It comes across as man. That's exciting. Cause it really is. I mean, I came up as a plumber and uh, even now when I go speak or it's been a while since I've done it, but when I get to like go to speak at a career day, um, sometimes, you know, because the I'm a trades professional or was a trades professional that trade gets bumped down from fifth grade down to like first grade because you know, the fancy people with the, um, high status jobs get fifth graders and a counselor would usually ask, it was like, just like, you know, we're getting down first grade. Is that okay? I'm like, absolutely. My slideshow is the same for every grade. And what I'm going to be showing is people working with the torch people, working in dirt, people, working with water, people, working on Heights and people operating machines. Like it don't matter what age you are, I'm going to be able to connect with your students. And so it was very kind of low tech, but the product that y'all are putting out there is like, man, it's, it's flashy, and it's going to have an impact. What kind of response have y'all received regarding those, uh, those videos and the marketing you're doing about the people that are doing the work? Yeah, that's a great question. And I agree with you a hundred percent, by the way, that early imprinting and, and consistent imprinting of, uh, the value and fulfillment and frankly, financial reward, whatever you, whatever you, you know, whatever that means to you, uh, are, are very real in the skilled trades. And I would just, before answering your question, I mean, one thing I like to say, and I'm super mindful of every. Is there is no white collar world without blue collar workers. This, this call, this web conference we're on isn't happening with folks pulling fiber along the railroad tracks or maintaining cell towers or working in a manufacturing plant, building laptops and cameras and microphones. And so like, I don't care what line of work you're in, you know, blue collar, white collar, everything in between when you drive into the office or you drive to the grocery store, or you're going out to the movie theater or doing anything with your friends, family, coworkers, just take a minute to be mindful of the tens of thousands of blue collar workers and skilled trades people that makes our daily lives possible. Right. And so, you know, you talked about social media, you talked about video, we've got two goals with sure. Han and rock the trades. One is reducing industrial labor shortages. Uh, you know, I'll spare you all the. Data. You've seen them. You've seen the same reports I have. And I think it's like you look at every other day, I see another article, another news media piece across the spectrum, right? Uh, in terms of media landscape around the frankly near crisis mode, we're, we're hitting with the lack of skilled trades people and it's happening at the same time that, uh, there's tremendous interest and investment going into our nation's infrastructure and shoring that up. And you know, it's good to, it's good if you've got the money to do the work, but if you don't have the folks to do it, you've got a problem, right. It sort of breaks my brain a little bit. So you asked about sort of momentum and response. I'll tell you, you know, I've been doing, uh, you know, if you look at kind of my career path and I'm a white collar, I worked for a painting contractor. My early twenties you'd have to ask him. I don't think I was particularly skilled, but you know, I w I was a white collar guy from the beginning in the sense that my interests and ambitions and high school. Where to go into marketing and business, like, that's what I wanted to do. Right? So for me, a college education made a lot of sense, right? It was the right fit for me, based on where I was and where I wanted to go. And, um, you know, for us with rock the trades, uh, and our kind of broader mission, we're gonna, we're gonna find ourselves success would do two things. Uh, if we are, as we raise awareness of the skilled trades as fulfilling financially or in career paths and empower those, choose to embark on those journeys in a variety of ways, right? Those were sort of the two outcomes we're driving. But to me, it all, and I'll tell you having done this for like 30 years, this kind of disruption and digital, and you know, the world I've been playing in, you know, usually you'll go out with a new product or service or idea, and you'll, you'll, you know, you'll be out there talking to the world. And a good percentage of them will like look at you cross-eyed and be like, this makes no sense. This is never going to work. We don't need this. You're wasting your time, all the haters, right. Or naysayers or whatever. And you know, oftentimes a lot too often they're probably ended up being right, right. In the end. You never know until you go on the attorney. But, uh, in this case, I will tell you that, you know, as you think about industry stakeholders, right, folks that are in the, you know, federal state, local government, you think about employers brands who serve the blue collar, uh, world sell their products and services that world, uh, industry associations like American welding society, American society for non-destructive testing, NCCR, you know, the gazillion of those, um, labor unions, trade schools, community colleges is that we've engaged stakeholders with the rock, the trades mission and message. I, I, I swear to you, there's not been a single person. That said those things. There's just tremendous, like people lean in almost immediately because when you really pull back on the problem that we're talking about, cause you start thinking, well, what's causing all this, right. Well, I, is there a shortage in the trades? You talked a little bit about it where it's so much about getting awareness that early in printing, making these jobs look sexy, not dirty, right? Like, I mean, but, but to me again, it's about the value and necessity of them. That's so important, but we've just had so much positive energy. Um, and you know, I think one of the best ways to sort of underscore that as we launched our rock, the trade scholarship program, part of our empowerment, uh, uh, element of the, of the initiative. You know, we seed funded that as sure hand, uh, we did $10,000 in grants last fall to four individuals, uh, to apply to spring program. So very modest, right? When you look at, you know, American welding society, I think it's going to give out $2 million this year, which is also fantastic. Um, but our goal for 2022 was the 10 X that commitment working with partners and, you know, individual and organizational donors. And we're at 80% of that goal. Right? So you, you know, this is where I think just in that one part of what we're doing, tremendous traction, tremendous energy. Um, and then you combine that with our growing following on social media, you know, adding new rocker influencers, like Barbie to our rocker wall every day. And Shannon to most goes like the lady volts was our latest edition. Um, but yeah, just lots of positive energy and momentum around the initiative. Yeah. You know, the energy and momentum. Um, it. On one hand, it's like overwhelming. Um, and on the other hand, it's like, well, it's about damn time. You know, about five years ago, uh, Wesley baker, he was my boss at the time, asked me like, just, what do you want to, what do you want to do? Like when you grow up, I'm like, I got to think about that. I'm still trying to figure that out. Exactly what I landed was what I want to do, where I see myself is speaking to educators, parents, and students about careers in the trades like, I don't even know what that's going to look like. I don't know how in the world I'm going to get there, but that's what I see. That's, what's calling to me. Um, and similar to the walk with the rock to trades, like Genesis, it happened what really triggered and flipped that switch was the co the lockdowns, right? The tr at the time I was traveling a whole bunch and I got told, go, ah, go sit in the corner and keep your hands to your. And I said, well, hell, we started a podcast. And from that, um, I've been able to, I've connected with the skilled trades Alliance, which I know has connected Adam and Mary Beth and that absolute. So I get to play with them, learn from them and figure out how to contribute to the same thing that we're all working towards. Got to connect with Steve Turner with Bring Back the Trades um, we just started live streaming, some stuff. And Stephanie Brown, you know, you mentioned the white collar blue collar, and I love your quote. I guarantee you, we're going to have some images with that quote. You don't have light colored without the blue collar. Um, Stephanie Brown is, is, and with the intelligent construction opportunities has put together some messaging and an initiative or thinking around Perry, Winkle of opportunities, the connection between blue collar and white collar. And so there's all these different, uh, perspective. And like the problem is not as simple as some of us want to make it. It's like extremely complex. And so I'll give you an example and actually I want, I would love your thoughts on this. You know, there's scholarship programs for students that are going into trade programs, into pay for tuition, et cetera. And there's there's funds and grants that go to the education or to the, um, institutions. Right? What I see next, the next gap that's already, there is the gap of instructors of these trades. And, and we already know it's my sentiment that educators are poorly compensated for the value that they bring to our community. And so I have a, I have a little seed in my head that it's, hopefully it's not a weed, another weed, uh, But I have this thought what if we were, what if I was to put together with the support of the L and M family, a scholar, and some kind of scholarship, I'm going to say scholarship program, but some kind of grant thing too, to celebrate and honor those instructors out there so that we give them some money so they can do something for their classroom or for themselves. Cause we know educators sacrifice a tremendous amount of their personal time to pour into our youth. Uh, what do you think? Uh, I think it's a great idea. Uh, Jesse, I mean, I think when you look at, um, you know, when you look at the problem, so he's one, I agree it's incredibly complex. Um, this is a multi-decade generational kind of thing, right? I don't, I'm not naive enough to think we're going to solve this problem in my lifetime. I'm just not right. And, and when you look at, when you look at sort of how we got here, I'll start there and then I'll circle back to your right. You know, there's sort of, there's three drivers in my mind around this issue. The first is, you know, you, you touched on it. We've got the baby boomer generation, right? The generation ahead of us, like I'm in my early fifties. So I'm early gen X, right? Uh, I was never really a slacker, but anyway, the, uh, the, I was very early on, but you know, those folks are aging out of the workforce by roughly 2030, and they've held a disproportionately high percentage of skilled trade jobs out there. So you look at any given trade and you look at the median age data, and, you know, in the trades, it's, you know, load up or forties, depending on the trait. You look at software engineer coders, right? It's 27 and he's starting to see holy cow like that, that gap is tremendous. And it's because for the last 30 years, as long as I've been in the workforce and a lot of folks will tell me it's been the last half decade, there's been this relentless prevailing narrative out there that is undervalued vocational education. What's now called CTE career technical education, union apprenticeship. With this college first college degree by default mindset. And again, we're not anti college, uh, at rock the trades, but we are all about helping folks understand a, the value of skilled trades towards society and be restoring parody between blue collar and white collar career paths. Right. And so much of that starts in the classroom that early imprinting. You probably remember. I know I, when I went to high school, I had wood shop. I had plastics, we had auto shop and again, I was on a college track, right? Like, I mean, I knew early on what I was going to do, but I got exposed to making and building and I had that, you know, tangible, physical imprinting that's by and large gone, uh, from the high school or the educational experience, unless you're going to or a vocational technical school or program. And so I want to, I mean, I, a hundred percent agree that supporting the education. System and the educators out there. And I would also add to that and one of the things that we're centered on, and you'll see, as we move through the year, you know, we started out with job matching, right? So you can go, you know, you can go to the app store or Google play and download our rock, the trades app. And, you know, you can go find skilled trades jobs near you that, you know, whether you're working in the trades already and have a skill, you know, you have skills, you have experience, you create a profile, trade, specific profile will show you all the jobs like in the last 30 days that are near your, uh, your zip code. Right. And we scrape probably, I don't know, a hundred thousand jobs a month. So there's a lot of opportunity out there by the way that are paying two, three times minimum wage. But like, yeah, like, and so again, these two sides just keep missing each other. So, uh, but where we're moving and it's kind of rhymes with what you're talking about. Yeah. This knowledge transfer from one generation to the next. And you know, when I look at the market and I see all these baby boomers aging out of the workforce, retiring, semi retiring, whatever the scenario is, they've got all that knowledge up here, right? Cause by the way everyone talks about, oh, this they like working with their hands. They should go into the trades, chase, people use their brains. That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. And so you have all this institutional knowledge, right? And you've heard the old saw about a, I forget what it was like the plumber a year, you were a plumber, right? It's the old joke about, you know, a guy goes fixes, someone's a leak in a bathroom, gives them an invoice. And it's like, I don't know, 99 bucks in parts and like 5,000 in labor. And it's like, well, why is it because I know what to do with that tool. I have that institutional knowledge. Right? So I think there's a huge opportunity for informal coaching and mentoring, formal coaching and mentoring to automate. What's going on in the classrooms out there, because, you know, as you said, by and large, the schools are underfunded or, or, and the educators are overworked and, you know, the shop classes don't exist anymore. So it's about how do we kind of restore that infrastructure. And I think a scholarship program that could, you know, drive funds or a grant program that could drive funds into the hands of those educators, getting tool brands, like Stanley black and Decker and others. And I think they're already doing this to some degree, but like getting tools in classrooms or into those shop classes, supporting that I think are tremendous opportunities to kind of reverse the flow on this. Well then that just means I got to get off my butt and make it happen. Um, so Chris, what should the L and M family know about you. Oh man, that's a big question. Um, you know, I think the thing that's been most interesting for me, as I said, you know, I spent a bit of time working in the trades and look, honestly, I really enjoyed that experience. I took a lot from that in terms of, you know, accountability, work ethic and, and attention to detail and all that stuff that actually still serves me in my professional life. Um, but you know, I I'd say my background, as I said is, you know, I'm a digital evangelist. I've spent 30 years helping companies do new things fast. I live in a, in a realm of mistakes and missteps because we're right out on the very edge of, whatever industry or problem we're trying to affect or problem we're trying to solve. And so there's a ton of learning that comes from that. But I would say the red thread that runs through my life has been, you know, when I look at my career, as I said, I've been in digital forever, but I, I really enjoy and, and focused on helping adult working professionals. Find success. So I started my career in ed tech, basically adult learning, corporate training, e-learning performance support that realm, uh, initially in the white collar sector. Uh, and then probably in 2010, I moved into the blue collar sector, but that's like my work jam. Like I live to help people. I'm a big fan of servant leadership, both with my teams and Incruse, and, and, and everyone that's out there. I mean, I think we've all got a, uh, I think as humans, I think we have a, an imperative to, to help lift one another up, whatever that means. Right. And so that's kinda how I roll. I like to say that, you know, my, my personal mission is to prove out that nice guys can finish first. It's not always the case. Uh, and so I try to bring, you know, I just try to be a nice, decent human as a person. Um, yeah, so that's, that's kind of what I would leave with the audience. I think what's most interesting though, and I think super important. For what we're doing with rock the trades is, you know, blue collar households, everybody, you guys get the joke on this, right? Y'all understand the value and fulfillment that come from a career in the trades. You understand that just because you learn a trade, therefore have a skill that you can use to fund your life forever. By the way, you'll never suffer for work. It doesn't mean you have to do that forever. We talk to people all the time that come in from the field or off the job site, they go into management. There's no better career path to a small business ownership or entrepreneurial success than entering in the skilled trades. These are not like binary. Yes, no decisions for folks. So blue collar people already get this to me, it's about expanding these messages and this and this and pushing back on any misperceptions that are out there to an all collar audience, blue collar, white collar, and everybody in between. And you know, one of the inspirations for me was like, During the pandemic, you know, and, you know, we're, we're, we're at good fortune to be able to do what we do sitting in the corner, uh, connected to the internet. You know, that wasn't true for too many, like a lot of the essential workers out there, right. A hundred percent. And, and, you know, I, I guess for me, what, what I started to realize is I looked at my own social media feeds and arguably, you know, I got friends across all political, uh, perspectives. I got friends across blue collar, white collar, but, you know, I would say by and large, my bubble was probably a white collar bubble. And you know, when you go out on Facebook and social media and you see all these parents and families wildly celebrating their kids, getting into like Stanford or Harvard or university of Delaware or Texas tech or whatever, I want to see those same families doing the same thing when their kid gets into American welding academy or getting into the UAT ATC apprenticeship program. And we start to see that that's when I, you know, if you want to know how I roll, it motivates me. That's what I want to see. Cause, cause to me, unless we really bring new and perhaps unexpected entrance into these industries, we're not going to increase the pool of talent. That's serving across energy manufacturing, construction. So long answer to short question, but that's that's me and that's how I roll. Yeah. Yeah. So I was having a conversation with Ms. Kim white, who is one of my coaches and by the way, L and M family gets you some coaches, it's amazing transformational. Uh, and she pointed out, uh, the, the struggle or the pain that she had to deal with, or maybe conflict that she had to deal with as a parent supporting her son. Making a move into the trades. And that's another, like, again, the complexity of the problem is the PA to your point, right? Yeah. We want them to celebrate. We want to see these big giant parties. We want to see all of that around people make a youth making decision to come into the industry. Uh, um, but there is a conflict that those parents have to deal with. Also the haters that are gonna say, what are you doing? Like, don't you expect more and aren't you worried like this, this sort of thing. What are your thoughts on that? Oh, listen, it's at the core of what we're striking out with rock the trades. I mean, that stigma is driven by a few things. In my view. One is again, that relentless prevailing merit narrative, we've just been sort of as a society, again, over the last three to five decades, we've just bought into this whole thing. Like, Hey, if you want to be successful in life and find fulfillment, just go to college, you go in undeclared, figure it out as you go, you spent four years probably. Right these days, uh, the bulk of people that start college, by the way, I think it's like, oh, it's north of 50%. Don't even graduate. Um, as they're going through that they're taking on or their parents are taking on student loan debt burden. That's a lifetime debt burden. We're approaching like $2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt out there. And some 35% of it is held by the gen X generation, which means you're now paying for that debt for your entire career. And then the kicker to me is I just read a study from the front of the reserve bank of New York, that they did a study of recent college graduates. Like in that cohort, uh, upwards of 40% of those graduates entered, uh, know, got a job or entered a field where they didn't even need that degree. Right. So they're, they're taking four or five years in their early twenties, late teens, early teens. Taken on a lot of debt to do something the waste time and money that they didn't need to. And then I compare that to, you know, Janey decides to go get, uh, you know, if she's fortunate enough to get accepted in the IBW, uh, electrical apprenticeship program, she'll do five years. She'll earn while she learns to become a journeyman electrician, but she's going to be set when she comes out. Right. And so you can look at the data around earnings potential over a lifetime or career lifespan, comparing white and blue collar trades. Like for me, I got the ROI I wanted for my college education, because again, it aligned with my interests and ambitions. I had a PR for, you know, 17 year old. I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do and you know, but not everybody becomes a tech company CEO, right. Or, or a neurosurgeon or a top litigator. You do. You're going to bust your hump to get there, pass college, but you're going to get the return on investment tenfold or more, but that's not true for everybody. So again, I think it comes back to this idea that, you know, college is, is, is not the best for its starting point for everybody. And all of these blue collar career paths are out there where you can make, you know, certainly high five figures, low six figures. And as you, as you get your journeyman card and you are a plumber, you are electrician. I mean, everybody knows this in the sense. They just don't think about it, which is the next time you need someone to come out and work on your air conditioner or work on your plumbing or work on your, your, uh, your home's electrical box or panel. And you get that invoice and you get that bill, just think about it. Right. And you think about like, oh, okay, this guy's or this gal is doing pretty well. I would bet. Right? And so these are some of the things we're just trying to push back on is information is power. And there's just a lack of understanding around. The skilled trades, how much money people can make the quality of life and work-life balance elements of it. Like you can leave your work at the job site or in the field. I was saying some of that doesn't carry over and there are challenges in the skilled trades. I mean, every profession has its downsides, but technology safety, all these things are impacting the industry. The industries we're serving are making those jobs safer, cleaner, higher tech. Like they're, they're getting really sexy from our high school. And so as a parent, I think, you know, I know Steve does a lot of work with bring back to the trades. Really educate parents to really make sure that these career paths are being pushed with, by guidance counselors. For example, let's make these first choice career paths not fall back career paths only for those who are deemed like, oh, well they can't have college, or they're only suited to work with their hands, which as I said, is the worst expression I can, I can think of. Um, it's not a positive, it's a negative. So it's about words. It's about messaging. And, and again, I think for us rock the trades is about really creating that rallying cry, that call to action out there, just like adjust, say no to drugs or, you know, any of the social impact means and initiatives that have come up in the last decade that have been incredibly powerful expressions that doesn't exist in the skilled trades today. And I think that's a big part of what we're trying to do. We want, we've created this open source initiative or brand with rock the trades. We're sure. Hands to. But the same way we're bringing in rock rocker, influencer influencers into the mission for doing the same thing on the organizational level, everyone from, you know, all the entities I talked about earlier, uh, because they're the ones that have not just the, the stake in the stakes in the game, but they've got significant resources and reach to leverage. So now imagine a big tent in rock, the trades, where we've got all these influencers and we're adding a couple of months and we get add one a week just by the interest that's coming in. And we have more and more organizations coming to us contributing to the scholarship. How can I help? How do we rock the trades? And so the vision for it is to really, you know, uh, get to signals so that we can amplify this issue in this message and give those white collar parents. Something that they can point to and be excited about either, either direct their kids. There are folks are separating from the military and reentering or entering civilian, uh, career path. Uh, really just show these opportunities out there for the great career paths they are. So I think celebrating, honoring, informing all these things are so important to help give those parents that do have a child that wants to, they could probably get in the school early. They want to write. That's the thing, my story parallels to yours, except I'd said I'm going to go work in the trades. for me, the, the thing was I stepped foot on a job. And it was supposed to work for the summer to make some money, to have some cash, to go to school. Uh, and I was like, oh my, like where has this been all my life. And what I know now, I couldn't frame it back then was the environment of a job site, was the prime environment for me to learn, grow and develop the classroom was an environment that suffocated me and then I would always get in trouble in. So it was not a joyful experience. Uh, and so that's, you nailed it. That's the thing we learn differently and we need to put our youth in the environments that help them grow and develop. And, and, and, and the, the thing you talked about, right, there's earning there's debt, there's all these things. The, the thing that we also need to be messaging, which you think you're doing is the fulfillment, the quality of life and the fulfillment that you can do. From at the end of the day, working in a mechanical room, installing mixing valves, water heaters, expansion tanks, all the good stuff, and look at it and say, I did that today. Like, there's something about that, that people don't know. We, we, and you know, this man, we meet so many deliriously happy people in the trades. You know, we go out to industry conferences and stuff like that and have conversations, you know, across the trade spectrum. And, you know, I, I get, I meet more happy people than unhappy people. And I will tell you, you know, having been a white collar warrior for 30 some years, it's not all it's cracked up to be here in the white collar world. Right. I'm not complaining, but what I'm saying is. especially in big tech, right? Silicon valley has become this, you know, the, the big jobs, the status, prestige jobs, aren't tech, startups are big tech companies. And again, there's nothing wrong with those companies and things like, like that, or I'm not bringing those companies down. Right. But, you know, the reality is there's a lot of downsides to the white collar group. Like you said, you don't finish every day with a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment and getting something done. I did this today. It's not always the case. You don't get to leave your work at home. The pressure to work 80 a hundred hour weeks in some cases is Rhea. You know, burnout is real work-life balance issues are real. And again, I'm not saying it's all, there's no issues than a blue collar trade career. I mean, there's issues. But like, let's not pretend that this white collar career path is, um, you know, uh, this ideal that just completely should overshadow folks thinking about going into the trades as a first choice career path. Totally. So you're a digital evangelist, a white self-proclaimed white collar person, a professional, and that is completely dedicated to, to enhancing, celebrating and making careers in the trades. A first choice. Like, did you write that in a journal back when you were six or seventh grade and just took the steps to make that happen? Or did you have another idea of what you want to do? No. No, I would be disingenuous if I said that the one thing I will say is, you know, uh, career-wise, I'm a white collar professional, right? Like I don't claim to, you know, I didn't come up the way you came up in terms of learning a trade. You know, other than my time in, in my late teens, early twenties working for a residential house painter. Um, and I was okay, but like I said, I wasn't very skilled. Um, you know, like I said, the red thread for me was about helping working adults find fulfillment. So, so that that's sort of been the red thread for me throughout, throughout my journey. I got into the skilled trades, uh, professionally in a meaningful way, like serving them as part of the Surehand mission. So back in 2018, uh, We, uh, I essentially joined as team lead. Uh, what's called an incubation, uh, cycle up here funded by Stanley black and Decker, the good folks to put tools on shelves, your favorite hardware store, because their mission is really for those who make the world, right? So everyone from the DIY or as the weekend warriors to the professional trades people, you know, they're, they are very sort of, I would consider a very progressive organization as it relates to workforce development, diversity inclusion, uh, corporate social responsibility. So yes, there are big fortune 250 global company, but they've got a real soul, like, and I've seen it firsthand being, uh, with them being our investors. Right. So that's how I got into really in a, in a meaningful way, the blue collar realm. And as I said, as they started out helping folks scale up, uh, support their productivity and performance on the job and kind of the more of the white collar. Moving into sort of more of an HR tech play, right. Connecting work with workers and vice versa. And the blue collar trades was a really nice extension of the work I'd been doing on the ed tech side. But it was also, it also hearkened back. Like I love to wrench on cars, right? Like I'm a car junkie. Yup. And so, you know, I've had collector cars that had kind of beaters. They were nothing, no crazy, but like, you know, my weekend, you know, garage queen weekend type project cars. And so I mechanically inclined, like I like to, I like to work with my hands. Right. But I would think back to my grandfather who worked in the textile industry, we're done in the factory floor, you know, that, and he had a big house on a hill, was a pillar in his community. Right. You go back to the 1950s. And I started thinking like, where did that go? Like w how did that happen? How did that disappear? Yes. To me, that's, that's really kind of what I bring to this. My everyday. And, and, you know, again, I think when you look at, when you look at problems out there that are being solved in whatever the problem space whoever's doing, the solving a big part of doing that is, is, is coming into that challenge with what's called a beginner's mindset. Oh, we all have our own biases. We all have our own experiences and was really, really difficult, particularly, you know, I look at myself, I, you know, I'm, I'm in the, I'll call it my third act, let's say, right. Especially. And so, you know, I've been around the block. Right. And so I can bring, like, on the one hand I've experienced and perspective hard, one hard fought as, you know, learning and missteps. Like, I mean, that's the game. There's no success without failure friends. Like it's just not possible. Um, but like, to me, it is this idea that, um, you know, when you come into those problem spaces with the beginner's mindset, you look at it differently. There is no sort of these, you know, sunk, fallacies or ways of thinking. So I find what's really interesting is when we start talking to people about rock the trades, I get this question like, well, why, why are you solving this problem being come from the trades? Like you're not, that's not your land or your background. I don't, I don't think it matters. I think what you need to do is surround yourself with people and perspectives that have had that experience and that are, you know, boots on the ground quite literally. Right. And that's why it's so important. You know, as a, as a tech startup, trying to solve a problem out there is you have to get out of the building with your beginning mindset, right? Like a hundred percent. So anyway, I think those two things are just so important when you're trying to solve any problem out there. It's just, just think with a beginner's mind, anything's on the table. And then second, just get out of the building going cage, the community you're trying to help, or the folks you're trying to help. You'd be amazed what you learn. Oh man. You know, the, the, the space or Mike, the S the second act that I'm in, in my career has been around, um, lean, lean, construction, lean problem solving, et cetera. And those two things that you just said, they're universal begin approach with a beginner's mindset. Like you want to get people to, to listen and jump on board and appreciate the value you're attempting to bring, come at them with the beginner's mindset. You come in with that expert attitude. You ain't getting nowhere with nobody. Now, second thing, get off the damn chair and get out there to where the pain is being expressed. You go out there, you're going to make some magic happen. That's beautiful. Now third act in your life. You're having tremendous impact. It sounds like you've had tremendous impact all the way. You've got to deal with some haters along the way. You've had some bad ideas or some ideas that were not appreciated by everyone as much as they were appreciated by you. Uh, and so that leads to the next question. Um, what is a, a learning, a significant learning that you had along the way as a result of a painful misstep? So I've got two. I got two to share a few and I, by the way, I probably have 2000 in terms of how many missteps I've made All right. Y'all we got a bit of a change here. Yes. I'm breaking up the flow and that's not going to change. It's going to stay the same, but the L and M family has spoken out and we've heard you loud and clear. What we are doing is the backstage passes. These clips that you're not going to be able to listen to on this audio version are now going to be available to everybody. On our YouTube channel. So head up our YouTube channel, subscribe, follow, like hit all the buttons and, and give yourself a little bit of a. Uh, learnings and missteps marathon and catch up on all the outtakes. We want to hear your comments and we want to know what you're learning from these things, because all of our guests have shared some pretty intimate, uh, missteps and have had some pretty profound learnings. And we hope that you can take that and apply that going forward and even teach it to your people, the people you care about. So, That is going to be the deal going forward. Thank you for supporting us and back to the show. I know I subscribed to early in my life that I gotta be right all the time. And then when I discovered like, oh, I learned about. When I put myself out there and don't get paralyzed by with perfection, make some damn mistakes, learn from them, adjust and keep on trucking. And so that's the whole purpose of the question. And so, I mean, two things that stood out to me and what you shared with us was, you know, when we're out there pitching our ideas, farming them out, socializing them, trying to figure out what people, how people are going to respond. It's really easy to get lost in the passive. Oh, that's a good idea. Oh, that's great. It's kind of like the American idol syndrome, right. They show the early, the beginning of the new series and there's folks up there that really shouldn't be up there, but their family was telling them, oh, you're a fabulous singer. Like you got to get, you got to go for the, the uncomfortable, raw, real feedback, because that's where the value is. It's not on the pats on the. It's on the actionable, um, objective, maybe even harsh, sometimes feedback or observations of your ideas and your thoughts that are going to really help you, uh, form that into something meaningful for yourself and for others. And, and the other is, is just do it and find meaning in your work, right? Like you they'll understand, uncover, discover what you're about. What's meaningful to you. What are the boundaries, the parameters, the purpose, and one purpose, one person's life, and then make all your decisions based around that. Because after you, after I started doing that, it was gravy. Like when I, when I get became or disconnected myself from the expectations that people set on me and the expectations that I adopted and, and attached to myself when I said that doesn't, I'm not happy. I don't experience joy. Doing those things. I'm going to do this all of a sudden, man. It, I mean, you, you touched on it. It's like it was, it's like a rocket ship of, of fulfillment and contribution and connection. And I mean, right now I'm in a space in my life that there is, I never would have believed that I would be where I'm at now, but it's a result of having made that, um, discovery and leaned into it. Like you said, uh, man, this is, this is good stuff. So that leads us to, to the, maybe the closing question. We'll see if it's actually a closing question, but, uh, what footprint do you intend to leave on the world? Yeah. I mean, look, we've, we've touched on a few of the things that motivate me and get me up in the morning and, you know, and I have to say, I want to, just to quickly build on what you were just talking about is, you know, part of the tension in the, in exploring, right. And pushing the envelope is this sort of tension that exists between yourself being, you know, a tireless dedicated champion of your idea, right? All the passion and balancing it with the intellectual honesty around the feedback you're getting on it. Right. It's that, that that's where the tension is, but that's where the magic happens. Right. In terms of the footprint. I mean, look, as I said, I just try to live everyday. By example, I think professionally as leaders, we have to, uh, again, instill this idea that you know what no, one's right. All the time. I think one of the biggest, uh, sort of misconceptions I had coming up in my career. As, you know, you'd be in your, let's say mid twenties and you'd see board meetings. Right. Like in, in the, in the corporate context. Right. And you'd see the C-suite has come out of the board meeting and they all look all knowing and all powerful and all associates, guess what? They're just like you and me. Right? They, they, they, it seriously and nobody. And so the joke is that not the joke, but like, what I learned is you get, as you advanced in your career on the white collar world, right. You get into the, you and you advance, right? So you director VP, maybe C suite or whatever, as you move up, you're you feel like you're going to get to this place where everyone has all the answers, it just doesn't exist. It's not true. Everyone's trying to fight through the problems every single day. I swear to you just like when I started. Right. So, so one, I would love to leave your audience with that notion, like don't, don't feel like someone out there has got all the answers and you don't. No one knows. Right. Um, and so I think the two biggest things for me, As I said, look, we're in a very sort of divided divisive sort of culture right now, right across so many different planes. And, and I think for me, my hope for us humans, right? Regardless of you know, where, where are you come? Because by the way everybody gets you, do you write a good friend of mine says that all the time you do you. And that's my mantra. Like, look, you, you get to be how you need to be. Right. Like it's real simple. So my hope is that we can just, we can find our way to be a lot more compassionate, a lot more empathetic and, and just really care for one another, a lot more than I think we've, we've been able to do. And if I can lead by example and live my life professionally and personally, in, in those, in that regard, then they'll be happy, right. This idea that nice guys can finish first or have an impact and saw it. I think that's important. Um, and then lastly, like w with what we're doing with rock the trades, I am. So, as you can tell, I get so passionate about this. Um, and there is no, the way I look at what's going on out there right now, we've talked a lot about, you know, imprinting, uh, the youth, right? Yep. So grade school, middle school, high school, how do we imprint the trades positively and get them excited about, oh, I would love to do this right. By the way we, I know I did. I shouldn't say we all, when I was a little kid, I played with Tonka toys at the uni, hang out in the sandbox, but front loaders, dump trucks, all that stuff, like, like I was in printing. Right. Um, and so, but how do you keep that going as we go through that career path discussion. But I think for me the ideas, I said, if we can get sort of this all collar audience out there to really understand the value of the skilled trades, the, you know, the hard work in men, women out there who build, operate and maintain the world around them. Um, again, it's not just sure. Hands imperative or rock the trades imperative or the L and M community's imperative. It's all of us like this world. Doesn't, we'd be living in caves if not for skilled trades people. Right. So, so, you know, raising that awareness, um, encouraging more and more folks to enter the skilled trades. And as they do that through, you know, the benefits of, you know, what we're putting out there with our rock, the trades app, connecting people with jobs, connecting people with training providers, connecting trades, people in the trades, curious with one another via a community that we're gonna be building upon, you know, the momentum of this mission combined with our scholarship. I mean, again, if, if I can go out on my Facebook feed or Instagram feed and I see families and people from white collar households from that echo chamber, from that bubble wildly celebrating Jimmy or Janie, you know, going into the trades with as much fervor and excitement as I see these. Celebrating them going, uh, into a college or a white collar career path. Uh, I think then we will know we are starting to make a difference out there. And again, I'm not naive enough to think this is a problem we can solve overnight, but you know, every day's a great day to rock the trades. Like let's, let's get that out there, um, every single day. So how, if somebody wanted to be a rocker or support the effort, how would they go go about contacting rock the trades and getting themselves signed up? Yeah. So the best thing to do is, is go to rock the trades.com. I mean, that'll give you everything you need to know about what we're up to with the initiative. Uh, you know, if you're someone who is in the trades passionate about, you know, it's survival and thriving and, and so on and want to be a rocker, you can, you can drop us a line there and just let us know. We'll reach out to you have that conversation. Same with roadie partners, organizations, you know, our vision is to put rockers up on the stage as they should. You know, I do a lot of these things and I, you know, I'm kind of the, I guess the, the voice of the initiative, but really the, the real stars are the trades men and women like Barbie, the welder, like Shannon, and like others that you'll find on a rocker wall, their narratives, that those authentic journeys and experiences, those are representations that anyone considering getting into the trades can have a look at. And I think it's not just about the youth. There's a lot of mid-career folks out there right now because of the pandemic, because of the disruption that's already happening, thinking about their work and life choices out there, right? I mean, you've seen the great resignation quit rates are through the roof. You see generational shifts where I can promise you generations. Uh, cares the why and the purpose and the mission matters a lot more than it did my generation. We came up during the late eighties, you know, Gordon Gekko wall street, greed is good. Like seriously, you go after the big car, the fancy house credit cards out, the yin yang debt Laden, like th th th the today's young generation doesn't think that way. So anyway, I, I don't, I think there's no better time to go after this problem. So rock trades.com is the best place to learn. More can follow us on social media. We focus on Instagram and LinkedIn. Uh, as I said, if you're already working in the trades, you can go to, uh, re or you can go to the, uh, Google play or apple store, download our free rock, the trades app. If you're looking for work or trying to, you know, increase your earnings potential, we connect you with job opportunities. Um, and as we move through the first half of this year, we're expanding that feature set to, again, not just connect folks with job opportunities. But folks that are trying to skill up with all the training opportunities that are out there in the skilled trades. Uh, and then lastly, we believe there's a real opportunity. We've gotten a lot of positive feedback around this idea of, for all the communities and social networks that are out there. There really isn't one, uh, network dedicated to in the same way. LinkedIn is dedicated to kind of the broader workforce and professional community. There really isn't one that focuses on the skilled trades across energy manufacturing, construction. So we're also focused on connecting peer to peer, um, trade tips, trade tools, ideas, techniques, all that stuff. And as I said, I think informal coaching and mentoring is a big part of that knowledge transfer equation. So we're, we're hoping that we can, uh, have an impact there. So those are the three best, best places to go. To rock the traits. Perfect. We will get all that stuff in the show notes so people can scroll down and click links and sign up and support the damn mission, Chris. Awesome. I appreciate your time, my friend. Thank you. It has been a real pleasure, Jesse. Thanks for having me on and helping us spread the good word I told you it was going to be an awesome conversation. Hit up the show notes, check out, rock the trades, check out your hand. Like a comment, a clap, a heart, all of those things go a long way in terms of getting the message out. So please hit them up. Tag some of your friends as you interact with his posts with rock to trades, let's help celebrate them rockstars out there and now we're going to celebrate an L and M family member that dropped some feedback for us on the apple podcasts, API thing. It appears this individual's tag name is this podcast is spot on. So thank you. It says Nita lift. Listen to this. I just finished listening to the episode with Barbie theWelder wow, what a great conversation. It made me feel like anything is possible when we change the way we talk to ourselves. Jesse is a great welcoming host who pulls the best out of people. And I appreciate that big time. You know, talking about anything is possible. And we change the way we talk to ourselves. I believe that 100%, I think many of us have this broken record on loop that is, is judging us and critiquing us in a less than positive manner. And, and it would serve us best to let that. And, and let me help you by telling you, you are amazing. You are making a difference and you're always learning, uh, let that play on repeat for a few years and see what the outcome is. Be cooler with talking to you next time. Man you are one dedicated listener, sticking with us all the way through to the very, very, and please know that this podcast dies without you. And we invite you to share how the episodes impacting you along with your thoughts, questions, and suggestions. You have been gracious with your time. So we added social media links in the show notes to make it super easy for you to connect with. Be kind to yourself. Stay cool. And we'll talk at you next time.