Decision Vision Episode 130: Should I Forgive? – An Interview with Brandon Lee, FunnelAmplified
Shouldn’t this question be addressed in a personal or spiritual context instead of on a business podcast? No, says Brandon Lee, CEO of FunnelAmplified, because forgiveness is integral and essential not just to our personal lives but in business as well. In a riveting conversation, Brandon and Decision Vision host Mike Blake discussed Brandon’s own stories of forgiveness, what forgiveness is and isn’t, the impact on his professional and personal life, and much more. Decision Vision is presented by Brady Ware & Company.
FunnelAmplified is the first digital and social engagement platform for sales teams.
It was built for the enterprises designed to work with your existing tools to amplify sales and marketing efforts for your organization by enabling and facilitating social selling. The system amplifies social selling content, reach buyer enablement, and it does it with today’s modern buyer journey in mind.
Brandon Lee, Founder &. CEO, FunnelAmplified
Brandon’s passion is helping sales reps and teams use their digital presence and behavior on social media to build influence, establish trust, generate a large network, and use all of that to create conversations that lead to business opportunities.
When he is not working, Brandon is chasing his wife, Megan, around. They’ve been married for 22 years and have five children. Their kids are growing into young adults and it’s been an amazing time of life. Their fifth is a bit younger than the others so they will truly never be empty nesters. That’s okay. Brandon’s family is some of his favorite people in the world.
Mike Blake, Brady Ware & Company
Michael Blake is the host of the Decision Vision podcast series and a Director of Brady Ware & Company. Mike specializes in the valuation of intellectual property-driven firms, such as software firms, aerospace firms, and professional services firms, most frequently in the capacity as a transaction advisor, helping clients obtain great outcomes from complex transaction opportunities. He is also a specialist in the appraisal of intellectual properties as stand-alone assets, such as software, trade secrets, and patents.
Mike has been a full-time business appraiser for 13 years with public accounting firms, boutique business appraisal firms, and an owner of his own firm. Prior to that, he spent 8 years in venture capital and investment banking, including transactions in the U.S., Israel, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
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Brady Ware & Company
Brady Ware & Company is a regional full-service accounting and advisory firm which helps businesses and entrepreneurs make visions a reality. Brady Ware services clients nationally from its offices in Alpharetta, GA; Columbus and Dayton, OH; and Richmond, IN. The firm is growth-minded, committed to the regions in which they operate, and most importantly, they make significant investments in their people and service offerings to meet the changing financial needs of those they are privileged to serve. The firm is dedicated to providing results that make a difference for its clients.
Decision Vision Podcast Series
Decision Vision is a podcast covering topics and issues facing small business owners and connecting them with solutions from leading experts. This series is presented by Brady Ware & Company. If you are a decision-maker for a small business, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure to listen to every Thursday to the Decision Vision podcast.
Past episodes of Decision Vision can be found at decisionvisionpodcast.com. Decision Vision is produced and broadcast by the North Fulton studio of Business RadioX®.
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Intro: [00:00:01] Welcome to Decision Vision, a podcast series focusing on critical business decisions. Brought to you by Brady Ware & Company. Brady Ware is a regional full service accounting and advisory firm that helps businesses and entrepreneurs make visions a reality.
Mike Blake: [00:00:21] Welcome to Decision Vision, a podcast giving you, the listener, clear vision to make great decisions. In each episode, we discuss the process of decision making on a different topic from the business owners’ or executives’ perspective. We aren’t necessarily telling you what to do, but we can put you in a position to make an informed decision on your own and understand when you might need help along the way.
Mike Blake: [00:00:42] My name is Mike Blake, and I’m your host for today’s program. I’m a director at Brady Ware & Company, a full service accounting firm based in Dayton, Ohio, with offices in Dayton; Columbus, Ohio; Richmond, Indiana; and Alpharetta, Georgia. Brady Ware is sponsoring this podcast, which is being recorded in Atlanta per social distancing protocols. If you would like to engage with me on social media with my Chart of the Day and other content, I’m on LinkedIn as myself and @unblakeable on Facebook, Twitter, Clubhouse, and Instagram. If you like this podcast, please subscribe on your favorite podcast aggregator, and please consider leaving a review of the podcast as well.
Mike Blake: [00:01:18] Today’s topic is, Should I forgive? A simple topic to state, not an easy one to cover. And you might be thinking, “Why are we covering something like this? This doesn’t sound like a hard core business topic.” And, you know, maybe you’re right. And trust me, I’m not turning this into the spiritual karma podcast. There are plenty out there that do a much better job than I’ll ever do. And, honestly, if I’m the least, I’m not that overly a spiritual person.
Mike Blake: [00:01:55] But, you know, I do sort of have a personal mantra, which I’ve had for a long time, which is care, serve, and forgive. And I found that if I do those three things, then not only does that help me be successful, it helps other human beings be successful, it helps me be centered and feel good about what I’m doing at any given point in time, particularly when things get tough.
Mike Blake: [00:02:21] And forgive is in there and it’s on this podcast because unless you’ve been in business for a grand total of 6 minutes and 19 seconds, something has happened to you and your professional career for which you have an opportunity to forgive someone. Somebody may have wronged you intentionally. Somebody may have wronged you unintentionally. Somebody may have given you their perception that they’ve wronged you, and that may or may not ultimately be true and you may or may not have closure on that.
Mike Blake: [00:02:58] But as somebody in my position where I don’t do litigation, but I do dispute resolution, I mediate disputes, I can’t tell you how many companies are broken up, how many families are broken up simply because one or multiple parties we’re just unable to find it in themselves to forgive. And often things that, to me, sounded really in the greater scheme of things relatively trivial. And I don’t want to trivialize anybody’s pain, that’s not the point. But, also, when a third party examines a fact pattern, there’s a different perception of the fact pattern, and the impact of that fact pattern than if you’re sort of in there and living it in the moment.
Mike Blake: [00:03:55] And I think that’s why forgiveness is so difficult. There’s the saying, to err is human, to forgive divine. For a long time, humanity has understood that the act of forgiveness is one of the most important and one of the most difficult and challenging things that we can do. And, you know, as I think our guest will touch on, I think – I have some idea of how this conversation is going to go, but I can’t tell you that I know exactly we’re going to talk about how and when.
Mike Blake: [00:04:24] But one thing that I think is going to come out is that there is a cost to not forgiving. I mean, there’s a cost to forgiving, too. But it’s a different kind of cost and the cost, frankly, is front loaded. But there’s a cost to not forgiving. And, frankly, I’m not sure if the younger you are, the greater the cost is or the older you are, the greater the cost is. I think you can make a case for either one. But the point is, is that, chances are, somebody in your business life has given rise to an opportunity for forgiveness.
Mike Blake: [00:05:04] And there’s a very good chance that something like that has occurred in the last 18 months as we’re in this – I used to call it the trans-pandemic period. I now call it the inter-pandemic period because it looks like we’ve left one or entering at least one more, unfortunately. Times are tough. People are not necessarily at their level best all the time. I’m certainly not. I’ve certainly done and said things that I wish I could take back and I’ve sought forgiveness. And other people have done the same with me. But it is not easy.
Mike Blake: [00:05:34] And, you know, I just hope that a conversation like this and talking to our guest, who really has just such a compelling story, and such an air of class about how he tells it, and his willingness to kind of not filter, and kind of really be raw about it is going to help gain more insight than I could ever provide or even attempt to provide on my own.
Mike Blake: [00:05:59] And so, joining us to help us with this topic is Brandon Lee, who’s Founder and CEO of FunnelAmplified, also a bunch of other companies. But I know he doesn’t want me to do a big intro. But I will say that FunnelAmplified is the first digital and social engagement platform for sales teams. It was built for the enterprises designed to work with your existing tools to amplify sales and marketing efforts for your organization by enabling and facilitating social selling. The system amplifies social selling content, reach buyer enablement, and it does it with today’s modern buyer journey in mind.
Mike Blake: [00:06:35] Brandon’s passion – I think he has multiple ones – is helping sales reps and teams use their digital presence and behavior on social media to build influence, establish trust, generate a large network, and use all of that to create conversations that lead to business opportunities. When he is not working, Brandon is chasing – and he used that in his LinkedIn profile, so I think I have implicit permission – his wife, Megan, around. I assume in a positive way. They’ve been married for 22 years and have five children. Their kids are growing into young adults and it’s been an amazing time of life. Their fifth is a bit younger than the others so they will truly never be empty nesters. That’s okay. Brandon’s family is some of his favorite people in the world.
Mike Blake: [00:07:18] When you connect with Brandon, just mention anything about parenting, awesome marriages, the English Premier League, Oregon Pinot Noir – so I guess he’s a big Erath fan – or great cigars and you will capture his attention for a fun conversation. He is also a man that seeks to love God and be loved by God. And he’s cohost of the Social Your Sales podcast. Brandon Lee, welcome to the program.
Brandon Lee: [00:07:43] Mike, thank you so much for having me. I appreciate being here.
Mike Blake: [00:07:47] So, you know, let’s dive into it. I asked you to be on this podcast because you posted such an awesome story about forgiveness on LinkedIn. Not Facebook, but on LinkedIn. We normally don’t see that stuff. We’re not supposed to really open the emotional kimono to show people who we are. It’s all supposed to be buttoned up and sterile. You don’t talk about politics, religion, any of that stuff. And you put it on LinkedIn. But I can’t do justice to it. Can you tell us about your forgiveness story, please?
Brandon Lee: [00:08:24] Yeah. Absolutely. And before I jump into that, I’ll tell you that that post has been my most engaged post in the past month. It’s, you know, up over 15,000 views. It’s like 100 and almost 200 likes and pushing to a hundred comments. And I think it’s because there’s a big need for this conversation. And I do find that it is a hard conversation. It is a hard topic. And I’ve had so many direct messages from people that want to share their own story, and deal with it, and parent issues, and whatnot. And it just shows me that, you know, social media is a great place for us to be able to have complete conversations, not just, you know, put our title out there, but to actually be a human being.
Brandon Lee: [00:09:20] So, my forgiveness story started young and, you know, I’m very careful the way that I explain this, because I do start it with my dad had a harder dad relationship than I did. And so, this isn’t a point fingers blame and be a victim. For me, over time, it just became the reality that there was a lot of pain. There was a lot of hurt. There was a lot of brokenness. There was a lot of just crap, to be honest, that I picked up, I adopted, I incorporated into my life. And the way that I was going to get rid of those things that affected me and made me be a person I didn’t always want to be started with forgiveness.
Mike Blake: [00:10:18] So, I like to delve into that, because, you know, you highlighted something that I passed on very briefly. You know, the cost of not forgiving can be pretty insidious, can’t it? Because it creates this burden. And I get the sense from you that it carried a very powerful burden on you, and then by extension, maybe on people that you cared about.
Brandon Lee: [00:10:45] Yeah. I mean, it affected all areas of my life. It affected the way I showed up with my wife in our marriage, and with my kids, and, of course, in business, and with my team, with customers, with the industry. I didn’t realize for so long because I just thought, “Oh, you know, this is just the way life is. This is the way I am.” That I had a choice. I didn’t have to be that way. And I had some hardness. I had some walls. I had some hardness. I had some areas that I didn’t like the way I reacted or I didn’t like the way I showed up. I didn’t like how defensive I got and how defensiveness turned me into more aggressive. And there’s never been physical abuse or anything with my wife and I.
Brandon Lee: [00:11:38] It was just attitude for my part and a lack of forgiveness and taking things personal. And, you know, when people behave in a certain way – and it doesn’t matter if it’s a customer, if it’s a vendor, if it’s a spouse, if it’s children – my tendency, because of the stuff that I carried, adopted, and lead me, I took a lot of stuff personal. Like, they were personal attacks, or personally making decisions to harm me, to whatever against me. And the reality is it’s just not true.
Brandon Lee: [00:12:17] Like, everybody carries their own stuff in life and they make decisions for their different reasons. And, you know, 99.9 percent of the time people make decisions. Yeah, they may influence me and they may influence me negatively, but they’re not making it to be negative to me. But that was something that I carried for a lot of years. And I know that it influenced, as I say, the way I showed up.
Brandon Lee: [00:12:43] And, you know, I’m a technology guy. And so, when I became aware of this, I started looking at Brandon 1.0 needed an upgrade. And I wanted to take a look at what did I need to do to create that upgrade and continual upgrades. And when I unpeeled and got into a lot of things, I realized that there was a lot of anger, there was a lot of bitterness, there was a lot of frustration, there was some victim thinking. And these were all things that didn’t serve me well. And they were, if you will, pieces of code that couldn’t go into 2.0. Like, they had to be stripped out because 2.0 wasn’t going to function the way I wanted it to function with that garbage code in there.
Mike Blake: [00:13:32] So, I mean, that’s a fascinating way to put it. One, I noticed you said it’s 2.0, not 1.1.
Brandon Lee: [00:13:38] Good jumps. You have to take good jumps.
Mike Blake: [00:13:38] That implies a wholesale version change, not simply a series of upgrades and DLC. But, also, my experience with scenarios such as yours is, you know, people who do grow up in an abusive environment naturally do have those psychological outcomes. It’s a natural way that your brain is wired because of fear, because of the lack of validation that we need from our parents, at least from time to time. I do agree there’s a line between validation and enabling, but that’s a different podcast. But you can also be very clearly on one side of the line or the other. Not every case is grey. Some cases are clearly, you know, black and white.
Mike Blake: [00:14:38] And the question I want to ask you is this, which is, in some cases, some people deal with that through spirituality, right? They find it in God, they find a new universe, nature, whatever their belief system is. Some people find it through, frankly, self-medication of some kind. Some people find it through self-help or psychological therapy. And I don’t know to what extent any of those were involved in your life, and you can choose to share that or not.
Mike Blake: [00:15:18] But you took a path of, I think, confronting. Confronting the root cause, which is, I think, extremely hard, because you’re not just forgiving, but you’re actually also confronting something which historically have been very threatening. And being able to do that ain’t easy. And there are probably other options – I’m not a professional psychologist – available to you to kind of address or rewrite that code to Brandon 2.0. Why did you choose the path of forgiveness versus others? Or did you choose others as well? Was it sort of a package deal?
Brandon Lee: [00:16:04] Yeah. That’s a great question. So, it was definitely a package deal for me. But forgiveness, for me, I feel like it was the door that led to the other areas for me. I have a friend of mine who has a nonprofit on forgiveness. And I’ve been on his board and I’ve learned a lot from him. You know, I encountered him later after I was in this journey. And that’s why I was drawn to it, because I had already experienced the value of forgiveness for myself.
Brandon Lee: [00:16:44] But he’s got this great story that he tells, which is, when you don’t forgive, you’re walking around with a backpack that’s filled with crap, like stinky, smelly, rotten crap. And it affects every conversation that you have. Because when you walk up, there’s a stench, if you will. And when we don’t deal with our own forgiveness, it influences the way that we show up, the way that we respond, the things that we say, the willingness to give people the benefit of the doubt, so many things like that.
Brandon Lee: [00:17:26] So, for me, forgiveness was a door that had to be opened. And then, once I opened it, I started to realize a lot of the things that I say I adopted through the situations that I was in as a kid. And those things that I adopted were, you know, you’ve got to defend yourself. I mean, I did. I grew up with a lot of fear. And so, when things felt attacking, my response was to attack back. And it didn’t lead to great decisions. A lot of times that response hurt me more than it could help me. And it added a bunch of emotion. It added a bunch of anger, and frustration, and stress, and things that don’t serve anybody well.
Brandon Lee: [00:18:19] So, you know, the root of mine was spiritual. I do consider myself a man of faith. I do consider myself somebody who tries to do my best to first let God love me, because I think that’s really hard for a lot of people to even think about being worthy of that. And then, secondly, to respond to that by being a forgiving, loving, kind, supportive, encouraging person to other people. And that’s all rooted in my faith in Christ.
Brandon Lee: [00:18:54] And I don’t mean to downplay my faith as much as it didn’t end there. You know, it’s not like you become a believer in some whatever religion and all of a sudden it’s all hunky dory. It’s just not true. It took a lot of digging. It took a lot of work. It took a lot of reflection. And that’s, where you’re saying, the hard work. And it sucks. It’s freaking hard.
Brandon Lee: [00:19:18] Like, looking at things and going, “Okay. Why do I respond this way?” And when you start unveiling things like, “Well, it makes me angry.” “Okay. Why does it make you angry?” And you go, “Well, it feels like a personal attack. It feels this way. It feels that way.” And when I came to the conclusion and realized that I can choose my feelings, that was a big eye opener for me that I didn’t have to choose. There’s a lot of responses I could have. And I could choose joy. I could choose peace. I could choose encouragement and loving. I could be kind to people. I didn’t have to choose those negative responses.
Brandon Lee: [00:20:02] It started to change the way I saw things first. And then, it put me on a path of going, “Okay. Now, I’ve got to rework my go-to behaviours.” Our human brain wants to be efficient. And we learn how to respond to things. That’s like stereotypes and just learned behavior, “If this happens, I do this.” And it’s really hard to take a step back and go, “I don’t want to respond that way anymore. So, how do I do this?” And there’s a lot of failure in that. There’s got to be a lot of forgiveness with yourself. There’s got to be a lot of grace with yourself. And realize that there’s a lot of times I’ve had to go up to people in my family, especially, and outside my family and say, “You know what? I really screwed up.” And not I’m sorry, but the humility of saying, “Will you forgive me?” took it to a level for me that had a ton of changes.
Mike Blake: [00:21:05] What a fascinatingly powerful thing to say. On a superficial level, the difference between I apologize and will you forgive me is conveying the same sentiment. But on the other hand, one is a much more vulnerable position. I apologize takes ownership, which is fine. In some cases, that may be sufficient. But then, asking for forgiveness, that’s really interesting. That’s a fascinating spiritual question we could talk a whole hour on. I just want to point that out, because I think that’s a really important sort of bullet point here.
Brandon Lee: [00:21:50] Yeah. And you know why I think it’s important, and maybe I’m getting too philosophical here, but this is what I thought through, when you ask someone for forgiveness, there’s a humility to it and there’s a respect for the other person. And I feel like respect has gotten pushed to the side in our culture. There’s actually a lot of disrespect. If I disagree with you, it gives me a right to disrespect you. And, unfortunately, it’s one of the downsides of social media and the Internet.
Brandon Lee: [00:22:25] But to humble ourselves to a point of saying, “Hey, I wronged you.” and to say, “Will you forgive me?” And, you know, we have a rule in our family, and the rule was, “Don’t say yes unless you really mean it.” And if you need more time, that’s okay. You can say, “I hear you. I understand. And I’m just not ready to forgive you yet.” And to be okay with that because everybody’s got a process and deal with this stuff in their own way. And, you know, what I’ve learned inside my family is that I can be okay with letting it sit until they’re ready to forgive me, because I know it’s going to happen. But it may not happen right now. And I used to take it as, “Well, if you’re not going to forgive me, then I’m going to go back on the attack.”
Mike Blake: [00:23:18] Right. Which is, I mean, when you sort of step back, that’s a very selfish position to take, right? If you’re not going to give me instant gratification, I don’t want it anyway. I mean, it completely undermines the genuineness of the request.
Brandon Lee: [00:23:37] Sorry. Go ahead.
Mike Blake: [00:23:37] No. Go ahead. I want you to talk. Not me.
Brandon Lee: [00:23:40] No. I was going to say that I talk a lot about in my personal life with my wife, my kids, close friends. But it has a direct impact in our business life and how we respond to people in business. You don’t act one way at home and then act totally different at work. You can act somewhat different, but the roots are the same. And when you want to respond by feeling attacked or you want to attack when attacked, it’s going to play out in other areas of our lives.
Brandon Lee: [00:24:14] And it doesn’t serve us well in that environment either, especially where you’re around people that are less likely to forgive you because they’re not your family. They don’t have to live with you every day. They can say, “You know what? Forget you, write you off, and you’re done.” Or you’re the one that says, “You know what? Forget you, write them off, and you’re done.” And that doesn’t do anyone any good.
Brandon Lee: [00:24:35] I mean, the core of our businesses is our influence, our network, the quality of that network and the influence. And if we have a path of destruction behind us, it means we’re limiting our own network, our own influence, our own ability to go back to somebody in three years or two years or six months and go, “Hey, we had a great experience together and now I’m doing this.” You know, either, (A) Will you introduce me to this person? Or (B), Would you take a look at it and give me feedback? Or whatever it may be. You blew that bridge up.
Brandon Lee: [00:25:14] And if you blow that bridge up, it hurts your business. And it all hurt because you’re carrying hurts and pains and tendencies to act in a certain way because you haven’t dealt with the underlying stuff, which is, “You know what? I got dealt bad cards. It sucked. Now, I have a choice of either getting a new deck and showing up differently or letting the hand that I was dealt continue to cause destruction in my life.”
Mike Blake: [00:25:45] When you approach this forgiveness plan – after this question, we’re going to get into some of the specifics that, I think, the timeline is really important – I am curious, I want to ask this before I forget. And that is, can you make a habit of forgiveness? Does forgiving once on something make it easier to forgive things that are completely unrelated just because you start to adopt a forgiveness mindset that that’s just now on the table?
Brandon Lee: [00:26:13] That’s a really good question. I think it does. I mean, it’s not always a one plus one equals two world, right? It’s two steps forward, one back; Two forward, three back. You know, there’s different triggers. There’s different places of our persona that we want to protect, that when they’re attacked, we respond differently. But I do think that what I’ve noticed is, once I started to be aware of taking that backpack off and not showing up with the stench of attack when attacked that so many different situations just played out better.
Brandon Lee: [00:27:06] I mean, a lot of times people act in a certain way because of their own brokenness. And they don’t even realize or see the influence it had on you or the effect that it had on you. And if you respond in attack mode, all of a sudden, you’re both duked up protecting yourself and neither one of you really know what the heck started it in the first place. I mean, if you want, you can go down that path of like, “Oh, well. He did -” But it just doesn’t do any good. And I mean, I’m going to throw this curveball out there because this is probably going to be – and maybe I’m just cutting you to the chase, and I’m sorry if I do that. Will you forgive me, Mike?
Mike Blake: [00:27:49] I will. There’s nothing to forgive. Just keep talking. You’re saying awesome things. Just keep talking, man.
Brandon Lee: [00:27:54] Yeah. I have a business partner now, who in a previous business 15 years ago had embezzled from me.
Mike Blake: [00:28:07] No kidding.
Brandon Lee: [00:28:09] And over time, as we both went down our own paths separately and came to a place of – and what I realized was there was a lot of stuff that was driving his behavior, and his decisions, and his own insecurities, and his own stuff that it wasn’t about money. It was about other things. And I don’t want to get too deep and tell someone else’s story. But, you know, years later, it started with an ask of, “Hey, I screwed up. I did you wrong. Will you forgive me?” And it was, “Absolutely. What’s happened in your life? What’s going on?”
Brandon Lee: [00:28:59] And there was a share of these are some of the things that I’ve learned about myself, and some of the behavior that I had, and what I did, and how it played out. And it wasn’t, like, immediately. We didn’t just jump right into it. But about three years later, after working on restoring the relationship, rebuilding trust, getting to know each other as a new, you know, I’m working on 2.0 version, I got to the point where I thought, “You know what? We did good together before. Yes. I know I’m opening myself up to a potential issue again. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” But you know what? I think that life and people calls for second chances.
Brandon Lee: [00:29:47] And, you know, he is one of my partners in a current business, and I’m excited. I’m really excited when this business gets to a point that has, you know, maybe more popularity, more recognition, that one of the stories we’re going to share is about our own story of forgiveness. Because here’s the thing, I had to ask him for forgiveness, too, because my response to his behavior wasn’t good either. And I had to own my response to it no matter what he did. I wasn’t proud of my response, my behavior, my attack, my attacking his character, and other things because that’s not who I want to be. And so, I’m excited for that.
Brandon Lee: [00:30:35] And I’m sure there’s a lot of people shaking their heads. There’s a lot of people thinking that’s really unwise, stupid, ignorant, whatever. But you know what? I guess part of being an innovative technology guy means I can be innovative with forgiveness, too. And, you know, so far it’s been a good five, six years and things are going well.
Mike Blake: [00:30:59] Well, I mean, what a fascinating story. I did not know any of that until you just said it. But it’s illustrative of why I wanted to talk about this in the podcast, because you do have opportunities to forgive people in a business context that can be very meaningful to your career. And it sounds like you’re very happy with that partnership 2.0, and the cost of being unable to forgive, and I guess seek forgiveness as well would have been the missed opportunity to enter into that partnership. And both you and I have been around the block once or twice. We both know that finding a good business partner is not easy. It is not a commodity.
Brandon Lee: [00:31:43] Right. Well, I mean, here’s the other thing we all got to think about, do you, as an individual – and I’m speaking to myself as well – do you want to be known for the worst decision you made, for the worst behavior you made? Or would you appreciate and be grateful for people to forgive you because you recognized later that it was a bad decision. You shouldn’t have done it. And a genuine sense of remorse or a genuine sense of, “I want to grow from this.” Not just a, “Hey. I’m sorry. Can we move on?” You know, there’s a difference there. And that’s why, I mean, it was three years of rebuilding, rebuilding trust and other relational debt.
Brandon Lee: [00:32:36] And when I thought about it for me, like, I made some stupid decisions in life. I’ve done some stupid things. And I don’t want to be remembered for those things. And I hope that people don’t hold those things against me for the rest of my life because maybe I was a different person back then or I hadn’t grown up yet, I wasn’t as mature, whatever it may be.
Mike Blake: [00:32:59] Well, don’t we also want to be remembered and known as somebody who offers forgiveness. You know, sort of the hard headed one and done kind of mentality plays well, I think, on TV and Hollywood. And I think it plays well because in those stories, actors are basically avatars for the aggressions of the people watching. But when it comes right down to it, don’t the best people want to work for somebody like you in that regard, that you have the space to screw up, basically. And there’s some reasonable path to redemption as opposed to one and done.
Mike Blake: [00:33:52] And don’t you want that person having your back? Don’t you want that person being your vendor, your supporter, your adviser, whatever it is? And I suspect this wasn’t really explicit in your mindset. This is more of an internal conversation. But there’s nothing wrong with forgiveness also having sort of collateral benefits elsewhere, right?
Brandon Lee: [00:34:20] Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, life is integral, right? None of this stuff sits in its own little compartment.
Mike Blake: [00:34:33] It’s integral. And to that extent, it’s also nonlinear. That’s the other part that’s really important.
Brandon Lee: [00:34:40] Yeah. And, you know, I’ve got a story with somebody that worked for me years ago. A good guy. You know, this is pre-social media days. And he was responsible for marketing. And we had a brochure that we were creating. And it went through all the editing routes and, you know, grammar check and spell check and all that. And the first go around, we get the printed brochures and there were two big typos. And the original final file didn’t have the typos. He had sent the wrong file. And go through it all, printer didn’t do a mistake. It was our mistake.
Brandon Lee: [00:35:27] So, you know, we owned it and we had a conversation. He wasn’t fired. It was an expensive mistake. But we said, “Okay. What do we need to do operationally to make sure this doesn’t take place again and blah, blah, blah.” And I think he was really, really nervous I was just going to come in and go, “You’re fired. Get the hell out of here.” And then, you know, six, seven months later, we went to reprint and, unfortunately, he sent the wrong file again. And that time I did fire him. But it wasn’t, “Get the hell out of here.” It was, “Hey, we put operations in place. This is the second time. You’re not paying attention to detail. We’re now 40 grand into mistakes and there’s just no room for it.” And, of course, nobody likes to get fired and say, “Oh, I get it. You’re right, I’m wrong.” There was frustration. There was fear. There was, you know, how am I going to provide for my family type stuff going on.
Brandon Lee: [00:36:34] But several years later, I got a message from him on LinkedIn and said, “Hey, would you be willing to jump on a call with me?” I said, “Absolutely.” We had a great conversation. He just said, “Hey, you know, I want you to know when I left, I was pissed. But I also want you to know now that you did the right thing. I totally get it. And that situation helped me become a better person. And here’s some things that have taken place in my work life, blah, blah, blah.” And he’s like, “I just want to thank you for that, for how you handled it. Not for firing me, but how you handled it.”
Brandon Lee: [00:37:09] And you know what? This may sound very cheesy. This may sound very Pollyanna. But I carry that conversation with him a lot, especially on hard days. And, you know, being an entrepreneur, being a business owner, it’s freaking hard and frustrating and all those things. But it’s some of those life experiences I have that make me proud, to be honest. They make me keep moving forward, keep wanting to treat people well, because you never know what is going on in their lives and you never know what impact you’re going to have on them. And then, therefore, their relationships and their family. It’s like that, you know, throwing the rock in the lake and watching all the the waves go out.
Mike Blake: [00:38:00] So, I think an interesting object lesson from that anecdote – and by the way, I think it’s really fascinating. I’m guessing in a way with some distance, he probably thought you did him a favor in the long run.
Brandon Lee: [00:38:19] And that was the conversation. Yeah.
Mike Blake: [00:38:21] Yeah. But there’s a difference between forgiveness and absence of consequence.
Brandon Lee: [00:38:29] Absolutely.
Mike Blake: [00:38:31] And just because you impose a necessary consequence, that doesn’t preclude forgiveness. You can still say I forgive you, but this isn’t about forgiveness. It’s about my business cannot afford to sustain this kind of error because it has a real monetary cost that imperils the business for everybody, and nonmonetary.
Brandon Lee: [00:38:57] Right. And nonmonetary. But, I mean, here’s the other thing, if we get back to forgiveness at the core, is, I’ve heard this said before, I mean, not forgiving somebody is like taking poison yourself and hoping that it hurts them. It festers inside of us. I mean, there’s a lot of data, there’s a lot of science around the lack of forgiveness, and bitterness, and anger, and what it does to our bodies and our life expectancy. I mean, all those things, they’re not doing us any good.
Brandon Lee: [00:39:34] So, if we don’t learn and figure out a way of forgiving – doesn’t mean forgetting – there’s still consequences, there’s still boundaries of things. You know, people don’t just, “Oh, yeah. Okay. You said I’m sorry. Let’s get back to normal.” Because they’re probably going to do it again in that circumstance. But, you know, forgiveness is as much for us and even more for us, I think, than it is for the other person.
Mike Blake: [00:40:03] I think that’s right. You know, I think you’re apt of sort of the manure laden backpack. The only thing I would add to it is, it also probably contains about 75 pounds of lead in addition to everything else. It is toxic because, to some extent, when you’re not ready to forgive, it’s a necessary defense mechanism. So, necessarily, it’s a protection from continuing to allow yourself to be injured to some extent. But then, you do reach a point at which that that protection is no longer necessary.
Mike Blake: [00:40:44] And, now, you’re simply, as you’ve described, sort of carrying this burden around that’s only costing you. That person that you let go has already moved on. They found another job. They’ve learned a lesson. Maybe they found a new job or a job they’re just better at that maybe is less detail oriented, whatever it is. But you’re still carrying that. And then, as you said, when you carry something like that that’s emotional, it’s very rare that it doesn’t leak out and impact other people because very few human beings can compartmentalize themselves to that extent.
Brandon Lee: [00:41:27] Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s well said, Mike.
Mike Blake: [00:41:32] So, we’ve completely gone off the script, which is fine. So, I’m just sort of carrying this conversation as we go on, which is great. In your mind, is there such a thing as conditional forgiveness? Or does all forgiveness have to be just unconditional?
Brandon Lee: [00:41:57] Well, I think there’s some semantics there that would need to be unpacked a little bit. Because I think there’s a process in forgiveness, too. And, I mean, there’s some really horrible things that have happened to people in the world that make it extremely difficult for them to forgive. And I’m not trying to make it light that, “Oh, everybody just go out and forgive the people who have done the most horrible, horrific things to you by any means.”
Mike Blake: [00:42:32] And if you don’t do that work, by the way, you’re not really forgiving, you’re just suppressing.
Brandon Lee: [00:42:36] Right. Absolutely. So, I think there is a process that people will go through. Some may go through it faster than others. Man, Mike, I don’t know how to answer that conditional versus unconditional. I do believe in boundaries. I do believe in protecting ourselves from repeat harm. Absolutely. I don’t think that forgiveness means people are right back where they were by any means. I think it’s the internal process of a person to say, “What am I still holding on to? How is it influencing my life?” Because at that point, it’s about you being healthy, not worried about them. It’s about you healing and moving forward in the best version of yourself possible. Because life throws some really crappy stuff at us.
Mike Blake: [00:43:49] We’re talking with Brandon Lee. And the topic is, Should I forgive? Let me ask you this, is there a downside to forgiveness?
Brandon Lee: [00:44:02] You know, I think there can be. I think forgiveness is, in my opinion, improperly defined is forgive, forget, and move forward. I think there can be a big downside to that. Man, it’s such a complex topic in everybody’s situation and where they came from, what circumstances, what was done to them, what’s their own ownership in it. It makes it extremely complex. You know, Mike, I don’t know if I’m qualified to answer that question. It would really make me worry to answer that question.
Mike Blake: [00:44:54] Well, yeah. I’m definitely not qualified. But this is the Internet, so that’s not going to stop me. Let me offer your position and I’ll just ask you to react to it.
Brandon Lee: [00:45:08] Okay.
Mike Blake: [00:45:08] I think that forgiveness can be harmful when it’s actually cloaking something else. For example, if forgiveness is really just a way of suppressing something, then I think that that does come. I think that may even be more harmful in certain cases. Or if forgiveness is attempting to trivialize a meaningful transgression or a meaningful crime, not from a civil code, but just a crime that somebody has inflicted upon you, a real harm, that if somebody trivializes that and attempts to make excuses for it in the name of helping you cope, I think that kind of forgiveness can be very damaging because I think that’s what sets you up for exploitation over time.
Brandon Lee: [00:46:10] Yeah. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that, Mike. I think that, you know, I guess the question for me would be, is that truly forgiveness? Or is that, as you said, kind of masking what else is there? I think we, as humans, we make a lot of decisions to go the easiest route. And sometimes it’s easier just to say we forgive to try and get life back to where it was before or believe it’s where it was before. And I guess in that case, it’s not truly forgiveness, but it’s pretend forgiveness and that can be very harmful. I agree with you.
Mike Blake: [00:46:57] And then, to me, I think there is a risk to forgiveness. I mean, talk about your business partner, forgiveness could expose you to, basically, having the same thing happen to you again.
Brandon Lee: [00:47:12] Yeah. Yeah. It definitely can be played,
Mike Blake: [00:47:16] Yeah. As a finance guy, of course, I express everything in terms of that because it’s all I know. And the universal law of finance is that return potentially comes with high risk. And if you want that return, that’s just a risk that you have to take. And if you’re not willing to take that risk, you’re just not going to get that return.
Brandon Lee: [00:47:39] Yeah. Yeah. And there’s also wisdom in putting systems in place that have checks and balances and things like that. In my case, you know, more on the financial side. But in all circumstances, there’s the ability to forgive and move forward. And, also, to have it, you know, some cautiousness there. And then, I think a lot of that has to lead to ability to have a more honest, direct conversations. Because I think a lot of things that go bad start with – and, again, there’s so many things that people need to look at of whether they’re willing to forgive. And so, this is hard to make it a blanketed statement.
Brandon Lee: [00:48:25] But in a lot of relationships, there may have been behavior that wasn’t great, that wasn’t horrible, that somebody didn’t like, but they let it continue because they didn’t have the courage or the security to take it head on and say, “Okay. This isn’t inappropriate,” because they have their own fears or “If I say this, what would happen?” You know, there’s so many layers to it that it’s so hard, I can really share from my own experiences, but getting into some of those things, I just worry that I’m going to say something that sounds like, “Well, in my circumstance, it doesn’t make sense.” And they’re probably right.
Mike Blake: [00:49:11] Well, you know, it could be. I think our listeners understand at the end of the day, this is two guys talking and we may not know a darn thing. But I do think we have –
Brandon Lee: [00:49:21] I have a degree in this.
Mike Blake: [00:49:23] But I do think we’ve covered some interesting ground. And so, the last comment I’ll make, I’ll ask you to respond to and then we’ll let you go. We really put you through the intellectual wringer here. But, you know, you mentioned a system in your last response, and I think over time I’ve developed in a way a forgiveness system coming from Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Is it habit two? Whatever it is. One of the habits is, first seek to understand. And that whole concept changed my relationship with forgiveness.
Mike Blake: [00:50:09] Because, for me, only when I could put myself in the position of the transgressor and truly empathize with them, it’s really hard for me to forgive without that. But then, getting into the habit of that or having a system where I say, “Why did this happen? Was it truly personal? What might have been going on to let them do this?” It could be as simple as being in Atlanta and somebody cuts you off. You don’t know if that person just had a fight with her husband and just stormed out. Or if she’s late for work for six minutes and she’s going to lose her job. Or just a lousy driver. Not everybody can be at the far end of the bell curve when you’re a great driver. So, for me, that sort of became my forgiveness system.
Brandon Lee: [00:51:02] You know, a little anecdote on that, when I was in grad school and I was in Texas, I was actually out on a date. And I got off the highway and as I came up to the red light, I looked over and there’s this guy in a car next to me just going nuts. And, you know, I don’t know if I was thinking or what. I rolled my window down and he’s like, “You, blah, blah, blah. You cut me off, blah, blah, blah.” Like, “Oh, I am so sorry. I didn’t realize I did that.” And he keeps yelling and saying all this stuff. And I finally just stopped and I said, “Dude, I said I’m sorry. I didn’t see you. It wasn’t intentional. What do you want?” And he just kind of stopped and looked at me and left a final kind of eff you and rolled up his window and left.
Brandon Lee: [00:51:52] Then, I remember sitting there thinking, going, “I didn’t do it on purpose. I didn’t even realize. Like, I must have made a mistake. I didn’t see him. I cut him off. You know, I was on a date. I was probably distracted. Sorry, other driver.” But that had a big impact on me moving forward. And realizing that there’s a lot of times that people do things they don’t even realize they’re doing. And I have a big emotional response. And they’re oblivious to the fact that their behavior caused or was the cause of my response.
Mike Blake: [00:52:30] Yeah. And for all you know, that person years after reflecting says, “You know, I really overreacted. I wish I could say sorry to that guy.” For all you know, right?
Brandon Lee: [00:52:40] Yeah. Yeah. Exactly.
Mike Blake: [00:52:43] Brandon, this has been a fascinating conversation. I will say it is by far the most metaphysical one we’ve had on the show. And that’s not a criticism, by the way. It’s just a distinguishing feature. So, in the keywords, we’ll just put hash tag metaphysics, I guess.
Brandon Lee: [00:53:00] There you go.
Mike Blake: [00:53:00] But, you know, I think you have so much to teach people here. I suspect we’ve only scratched the surface. If there’s a part of this discussion that we didn’t touch upon, it didn’t go deep enough, can somebody contact you if they want to start a conversation with you? And if so, what’s the best way to do that?
Brandon Lee: [00:53:19] Yeah. Absolutely. So, LinkedIn is probably the best way. You can find me – and I want to change this – it’s Brandon Lee Social Selling is my LinkedIn handle. And as I’ve told you before, I hate the term social selling. But it’s been there for a while.
Mike Blake: [00:53:38] But there it is. Okay. Well, that’s going to wrap it up for today’s program. And I’d like to thank Brandon Lee so much for sharing his expertise with us.
Mike Blake: [00:53:46] We’ll be exploring a new topic each week, so please tune in so that when you’re faced with your next business decision, you have clear vision when making it. If you enjoy these podcasts, please consider leaving a review with your favorite podcast aggregator. It helps people find us that we can help them. If you like to engage with me on social media with my Chart of the Day and other content, I’m on LinkedIn as myself and @unblakeable on Facebook, Twitter, Clubhouse, and Instagram. Once again, this is Mike Blake. And our sponsor is Brady Ware & Company. And this has been the Decision Vision podcast.