As the Chairman of the Board & CEO of WD-40 Company, it’s been a challenge for Garry Ridge to lead his team during the massive disruptions of 2020 and 2021. Yet, the uncertainties provided Garry with an even greater awareness of other critical aspects of business, beyond just earning a profit. Garry joins Adam Markel to discuss how WD-40 managed COVID-19 by embracing a resilient mindset and leveraging worry to achieve profound growth. Garry explains why business owners and managers must focus more on creating a culture of belongingness in their workspaces as many businesses continue to function virtually.
How do we leverage continuous uncertainty to thrive in this unprecedented new world?
The answer is to build the resilience we need to power us through the challenges we face so that we become “Change Proof.” Prepare to tackle the future with confidence by reading Adam’s latest book Change Proof: Leveraging the Power of Uncertainty to Build Long-Term Resilience.
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Building Resiliency In Times Of Uncertainty With Garry Ridge
In this episode, I have the wonderful honor of interviewing somebody that I’ve known for a couple of years. We got introduced through a mutual friend. I’ve been admiring his work for many years. He’s done a tremendous job as a leader. I want to start by reading his bio and we’re going to spend some time digging into some pretty difficult concepts, nothing easy, which is good because it’ll be meaningful.
Garry Ridge is the Chairman and CEO of WD-40 Company. He joined WD-40 in 1987 and held various leadership positions in the company before being appointed as CEO in 1997. He’s also an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego, where he teaches the principles and practices of corporate culture in the Master of Science in Executive Leadership Program. He is passionate about learning and empowering the organizational culture that he has established at WD-40 for a long while. In 2009, he co-authored a book with Ken Blanchard outlining his effective leadership techniques titled Helping People Win At Work: A Business Philosophy Called “Don’t Mark My Paper, Help Me Get An A”. He’s also a native of Australia. Garry, it’s just a pleasure as always to get together with you. Thanks for being a guest on the show.
It’s absolutely a delight to be here. My real introduction is, “I’m Garry Ridge. I’m the consciously incompetent, probably wrong and roughly right, Chairman and CEO of WD-40 Company.”
As you can already tell folks, if you don’t know Garry and I hope you will get to know him, not just through this show, but by following him on LinkedIn and other places. You will see he is a man with humility. It’s not a thing you always find in somebody at the level of leadership that he’s at. I appreciate that about you, Garry. Let’s just dive in right there. How important do you think humility is if you think it’s important in a leader?
Now more than ever, I often say that leadership fails when ego eats empathy instead of empathy-eating ego. Particularly in the last couple of years, when our job as leaders has been to bring people together as the world has pushed them apart. That’s been a wonderful opportunity for us at WD-40. We have a tribal promise, which is a group of people that come together to protect and feed each other. This journey is as disappointing as it’s been to the world. It has been one of tremendous learning and we’re better for it. Maybe we were gifted this awful experience to wake us up in a number of ways.
You’ve had to be resilient. Is that fair to say?
Yes. I found an interesting definition that I like about uncertainty and it became more real to me, going through COVID. It is a series of future events that may or may not occur. In fact, most of them don’t occur. Part of the resilience has been understanding what it is that we need to focus on during these times because we could get disrupted very easily.
Isn’t that the truth? Disruption is more the norm than it is the exception. It’s always been the case more these days than ever before. Do you have a personal definition or even a corporate definition for resilience that you can share with us?
I don’t know that we have an absolute definition, but I would suggest that it’s us being able to understand the situation we’re in and make conscious decisions around what we need to do. I was lucky enough, you sent me an early copy of your new book and congratulations on Change Proof. I’m a big fan of Winston Churchill. I love this quote that’s in there that you wrote. This is Churchill’s quote, “When I look back on all the worries, I remember the story of an old man who said on his death bed that he had a lot of trouble in his life. Most of which had never happened.” To me, it’s like there’s a lot of resilience about that as well, but I just thought that was a great reflection on making sure that we get rid of the clutter. As you say, you pause, ask and choose.
If we think about resilience, we can define it. We’ll define it. From my experience is many people who ask that question, how do you define resilience? You’ll get that many independent, different definitions of it. One thing that is important to talk about is what defeats or gets in the way of resilience? You’ve brought something up right out of the gate, which is important. That is worry. You’ve got a lot on your plate. You have a long history with this company. This company has been a model of longevity and resilience and has done quite well. It certainly has done very well under your stewardship. With everything that’s always been going on in that arena, how important has worry been to you or has it gotten in the way, do you think?
I’d like to separate worry from fear because I think that fear is something that fuels worry. What is worry? People often ask me what keeps me awake at night. That’s an interesting question because if it’s keeping you awake at night, I don’t think you’ve thought it through. The world is not perfect. One of the things that became clear to me during COVID is in times of great need, people can pivot around fear. There’s that word pivot. People can pivot around fear. I’ll give you an example of that. In March 2020, when the COVID hit, it was like turning off the light switch. There were so many things that were once optional that is now become compulsory.
One of them was working virtually. We have installed and equipped our tribe to have the virtual tools they needed, but they were fearful of using them because it wasn’t the norm. They worried about how people would see them. They worried whether they would look good. They worried about all this stuff that didn’t really matter. It became compulsory and suddenly, we had to pivot around that fear, not worry about the dog walking in, barking or something going on. We became confident around that. If we can work out, how do we work out what’s making us afraid that’s making us worry and if we can move that, we become much more competent and much more resilient in what we do?
My history is I spent eighteen years in the legal profession before I pivoted. Much of that time, I used to say things like, “You can’t win without worry.” I used to tell my clients that I was a professional worrier. I worried for them. What I got paid to do is take on their worries. At this juncture in my life and over many years of now thinking about it and writing and researching on it too, I feel like worry in many ways is energy wasted, energy-depleting and it is rooted in fear. If we pivot around that fear, what ends up happening is that those worries don’t have to keep us up at night.
Traci Fenton of WorldBlu says, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” That’s an interesting question. I’ve used that a number of times with some of our leaders where they’re stalling on making a decision. I said, “What are you afraid of? What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Now, what would you?” Bringing these things down, it’s amazing how many things we’re not afraid of if we face them and go, “Do I have the right to be afraid?”
Worry doesn’t do anything. It’s such a negative place to be. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned. That’s a difference between worry and concern. As we went through COVID, I was concerned because there was uncertainty. This series of future events may or may not occur, most of which don’t. I spent a lot of time sorting out the possibilities of these events happening or not happening and where does your energy go? There’s a chance that this could happen. How are we going to protect ourselves? How are we going to work around this that may happen?Leadership dies when ego eats empathy instead of empathy eating ego. Click To Tweet
That Winston Churchill quote, which I think is also based on Mark Twain’s take on that as well, there is this ever-present uncertainty. I’m curious, how has uncertainty impacted WD-40? You brought us back to the start of COVID and that was the beginning. What I hear when I’m speaking with organizations, I get this great honor of keynoting and getting invited like you do to speak to organizations on a regular basis. Uncertainty is something I hear constantly. People were waiting and we were anticipating that somehow the uncertainty would come to a head, would end or we’d be going back to something that resembled the past. Inside of WD-40, what has uncertainty looked like and how has the company been dealing with that?
When this first broke back in March 2020, in fact, I was in Italy at the time on my way to our half-yearly meeting in Europe. I felt a bit like an Indiana Jones having this boulder chasing me with COVID. When it broke and got serious, I don’t think any of us thought it would have the longevity that it had because there was a lot that we didn’t know. Initially, it was, “What do we do? I’m uncertain.” We went through a process of secure, reset, revive and thrive of what we looked at. The first thing we did was we needed to secure the business.
We came out and we said, “We have three clear objectives from day one.” We activated our global issue, response leadership team. We said, “Here are three things we’re going to focus on. The safety and the well-being of our tribe, taking care of our customers and securing our business to thrive in the future.” As we went through, the uncertainty got worse because suddenly, it was becoming real.
At that stage, we thought, “Maybe it’s a sprint,” then it became a marathon and then it turned into multiple marathons along the way. Fortunately, we got to learn as we went and being a global company, things were pinging all around the world. It’s interesting to talk to people just in the United States who didn’t understand what was going on in other places around the world. We have a subsidiary in mainland China. It hit there first.
We were seeing what happened and as it went through other geographic locations. The uncertainty was real. However, I think then we got a little bit comfortable with it and saying, “The world’s probably not going to come to an end. What do we need to do? How do we need to focus?” Coming back is interesting too because as we’re coming out of this a little bit, you can’t turn that light switch back on again. It’s like a dimmer switch. We’ve got to turn it up. We turn it back a little bit because if we turn the switch back on again, people get blindsided. It’s like, “Bright light in my eyes.” It’s certainly been a journey.
The other thing is people have been going through their own hero’s journey. The person we said, see you Monday morning to back in March 2020, is not the same person we’re getting to interact with again in October and November of 2021 personally. As leaders, we have to invest in making sure that we get that little catch-up done. We got to be asking, “How are you?” personally. We kept connected a lot virtually, but we got to keep asking, “How are you? What’s going on in your life? Are you okay?”
That is such a powerful point that you brought up because in the discussions that I’ve been having, even with the Marines. I was privileged to deliver a workshop to a group of young Marines in the morning and the afternoon, the same day to their senior leaders. The, “Are you okay?” is not culturally a thing in many branches of the US military. It’s becoming the case because they are more conscious of the long-term and even the short-term impact of stress, exhaustion and burnout in their ranks as well. From our standpoint, we look at resilience as the way to become stronger, to leverage even the uncertainty itself as a catalyst for growth, individual growth, organizational growth.
That requires an understanding of what resilience is, what contributes to greater resilience and what actually gets in the way. One of the things that get in the way in the military is this not feeling permission to speak honestly and transparently about where you are. For a leader to ask the people in the organization, “How are you doing?” Not the gratuitous, “How are you doing” because if you ask somebody on the street, they’re going to say, “Good.” There isn’t a depth to that inquiry. It sounds to me like that’s what you did. You were asking your people, how are you actually doing in your personal life as well as just fulfilling your business role?
We’ve got a very high employee engagement or what I call the will of the people. During COVID, there was some research done by the ADP Research Group that showed that employee engagement globally dropped down to 16%. Now, ours is 93%. Halfway through COVID, we were doing everything we could to ensure that we kept that cultural equity high, by a whole lot of fun things that we would do and connecting things that we would do. Halfway through COVID, I said, “We need to go out, do a mid-term employee feedback survey and see if we can capture any areas where we’re failing our people. Are we not connecting?” We went out and redid our employee engagement survey. We do it in seven languages across the world. It’s confidential.
The numbers came back. They were as good as or better than they were before COVID, which we did a survey in March 2020. One of the numbers that changed that I had to dig into was a question we ask, “I am excited about the company’s future.” It came back as 98% of our tribe globally. They said they were excited about the company’s future. Here we were in the middle of COVID. There were no signs yet of us being able to see our new world.
We did a little digging and we wanted to find out why. What came back very clearly was we are living our tribal promise of a group of people that come together and protect each other. We feel safe in this environment. If we can get through this together, we can get through anything together. I thought, “I would hate to be trying to lead an organization through this that entered with a very low employee engagement.”
There’s a lot of talking about resignation. I’ve renamed it. It’s not the Great Resignation. Here’s what it is. It’s the Great Escape. People are escaping from organizations where they don’t feel they belong. They’re not treated with respect and dignity. They don’t go to work each day knowing they’re making a contribution to something bigger than themselves. They’re not learning, not being protected and set free by a compelling set of values and not going home happy. It’s not the Great Resignation. Anybody I talk to who’s moving from one organization said, “I’ve had it. I can’t put up with this toxic environment anymore. This has proven to me that there must be something better.” This is the Great Escape.
Do you think Garry that in the time that people had at home because I went through a period of my career where I used to commute and living in around New York. My office was in the city was in Manhattan. Living in the suburbs, the commute was 1.5 or 2 hours each way each day. That’s four hours more likely each day, twenty hours a week of just being in the car and commuting.
Being home was new and different and a challenge for folks at the beginning, do you think that people were able to come back to themselves? They had the time to contemplate the time to recognize that they enjoyed that time at home, maybe time with their kids, maybe they were able to be at the dinner table, they were able to see how they could, in fact, integrate work and home life? I know that presents its own challenges where there are no boundaries between the two. Do you think that’s part of this Great Escape that people have realized that they can have more of what’s important to them in life?
Particularly about working from home, it depends what their environment is at home. If you’re in the United States and you’ve got your room in your house to be able to find a place to work. We’ve got people living in places like London and Shanghai. There’s no way to put a desk, a computer and nowhere to work. One of the things that became clear to us real early is we had to find out how we could help people find a place to be able to work if they had to work from home. I think it depends.Humans innately embrace tribalism. If everyone can do something together, they can get through everything together. Click To Tweet
Is the Great Escape a thing that you’re seeing elsewhere in the world? At least at this point, I’ve been reading, it’s mostly in the context of the US, but are you seeing some similar things happening elsewhere too?
Not so much. In more of the relationship-driven cultures like in Europe, Italy, France and Spain, where their relationships are so important and they work on them so hard versus the US which is a more of a direct type of culture. It’s more dominant here than anywhere else. More so, people said, “It’s not that I’m not at the office, but now that I’m not there look at the way they’re treating me. At least when I went there, I was able to find some belonging.” This gets back to this thing about belonging. As human beings, one of the most dominant things we have is the desire to belong. I know that some people missed going to the office because they didn’t like being at home.
They wanted to belong to their people and their tribe. I was reading some stuff from the Society of Human Resource Management. They’re all talking about the importance of belonging now. Maslow in his hierarchy of self-actualization, has it as the third rung, and it’s been there for many years. Organizations provide safety, security and a means to feed your family. Most of them do that. The next one is belonging. When an organization provides that belonging, that’s when you start to get a high engagement or will of the people.
It is so enlightening to me to know that because when the connection piece, the tribe and the family piece of it were taken out, “What exactly am I getting out of this if I’m feeling other things that are not necessarily showing me or I’m not feeling taken care of?”
I’ve been observing. After Labor Day in the US, we opened the TP, we call it that because we’re a tribe, and I said, “We are going to make our place as safe or safer than anywhere else you would choose to go. If you want to come back in, it’s totally your decision. If you’re vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask. If you’re not, you have to wear a mask. We had all the protocols in place to meet everything that had to happen.” We’re challenging ourselves around people saying, “We have to have a work from home policy.”
I said, “No. We’re not going to have a work-from-home policy. We’re going to have a work from where philosophy.” People are not just working from home. What became very clear to me is they were working from anywhere. We said we’re going to let people make their own decisions where they work from. We’re not going to have them have to go and crack up the hierarchy to their boss or their leader to get permission. We want them to use our values to make a decision of where they should be working at the time.
I’ve been going into the office probably three days a week. I’d be there all the time, but I want to set the example. I want to say, “You can be flexible.” I got goosebumps observing our tribe members come together in some of our collision zone areas that you’re aware of. They were just so happy to see each other. They sit and talk. I see them leaving the building with a smile because they’ve reconnected with the people they love and care about, which was amazing.
It makes the job so much more than the money, even the responsibility or even the other fulfilling things that they do in a day. It’s more holistic than that. We’re more holistic. It’s never just one thing. I was thinking about you because when I went to visit the office and I heard that term for the first time, the collision zones and saw it in the architecture because you guys designed that building for that purpose, in many ways. For people that don’t know what we mean, it literally means areas where people can come together without planning it or it’s happening spontaneously. You run into somebody.
I was doing a bit of research on this concept of weak ties, which you probably have heard of and know what this is. This idea that the whole water cooler connection has been lost and where innovation often occurs that you can’t plan for. You can plan in the way that you plan for it, but you can’t predict or measure it in some ways, is that people will run into each other and they don’t have strong ties to one another cause they don’t work in the same department. Somebody from accounting is running into somebody from HR, from Operations or what have you and they collide not physically, but they’re in the same proximity to one another and have a conversation about something. All of a sudden, there are some ideas that are birthed out of that. There is some innovation that occurs.
You have those, “What about, what if have you thought of conversations.” Resilience is how you recharge. What we’re talking about now is people personally recharging.
Many people define resilience more often than not as this capacity to bounce back. That’s what we hear. That’s what Change Proof is debunking a little bit of this myth that it’s about bouncing back. It is more about the process by which we recharge more than it is the process of endurance or enduring. As you say, if what we’re doing is running a single marathon, we could create the perfect environment for training for that task, but it’s not one marathon. It’s like saying at the beginning, as you did that there’s one disruption or that this is the greatest disruption that any of us in our personal or professional lives will ever face.
This is a day in the norm. Tomorrow will be another day and then in a year from now. To know that since the race has no end, so to speak, it’s one endless beautiful marathon. What the research is clear on is that to have longevity and performance capacity at high levels over time, we have to have rituals for our reset.
The other thing that was clear to us too is not talking about what we’re going to do, but talking about why we are doing it. That was in rapid changing times during COVID. It’s not like, “This is what we’re going to do.” It’s, “This is why we’re doing what we’re doing. Does everybody understand the why?” I admire Simon Sinek’s Why, How, What. It’s not, “What we’re going to do.” It’s, “Why we’re doing it? This is how we think we’re going to do it.” Asking our teams and tribes, “Do you think this is the how that we should do or is there a better way or what have you learned with this,” which I think is important.
I’m truly observing this. I love Simon’s book and the way he describes those three things. You brought up Pause, Ask, Choose earlier, that comes from Change Proof. It’s that concept of what do you do with the pause? Pause is its own reset. In many ways, its own benefit to just pause before you send an email or you react to something. As a father of four, I can say pausing has held me in good stead for a long time. As you pointed out to pause to ask, “Why are we doing what we’re doing before we choose that next step?” I’m just observing the way those two things are overlaid.
I was fortunate enough. Thank you. You sent me a free PDF to review. I love the Pause, Ask, Choose. That makes so much sense. Many times, we don’t pause. We are rushing. Many times, we don’t ask, “Is there a better way,” and many times, we don’t realize we have a choice. It’s powerful and I can’t wait for the book to get out there so others can benefit from it. It’s exciting.If people went in with low employee engagement, it means that no values are protecting them. Click To Tweet
I want to go back to the assessment that you sent out, that survey too. Was there anything in the survey that you noticed that you thought you had some concern about or tilted your head and went, “That’s interesting?” Was there anything that came up like that? Did you recall?
The other thing that I thought was interesting was that we have one question that talks about communication between our coaches and tribe members. It was a pleasing thing because I thought that being virtual, that opportunity of communication in its intensity may have dropped, but it actually went up. I can’t prove this. This is just Regionian Theory, but I think the receivers were more tuned in than ever before. The people that we wanted, our tribe, we’re more tuned in. I sometimes think about communication as here’s a radio station that sends out a signal and here’s a receiver that’s receiving it.
There’s a lot of interference in the middle. If you don’t have the radio finely tuned, you won’t get the clarity of the message. I think during this time, people were more tuned in to receiving the messages that we sent because there was so much going on that was uncertain that they had a deeper interest in. In any change, the first two things people think about are personal concerns and information concerns, “How has this personally going to affect me and what information do I need to give me a sense of security?” I think we’re more tuned in than ever before.
There’s no question that certainly in times of uncertainty or change, people feel stressed and we know that to be able to think outside the box or just be strategic in your thinking, the strategy or thinking strategically and reacting out of stress are things that are almost mutually exclusive. I’d love to find out more about how you’re approaching that check-in phase or what it is that you are recommending for people inside the company dealing with stress. It seems like the company is faring better than a lot of companies.
We’ve presented for the likes of Home Depot on one side and a company called Vogue Tyre that’s been around for 107 years, based in Chicago and the others. Small but successful company, very large successful enterprise and everything in between, the SAPs, equitable or whoever it seems to be exhausted. When asked, often, the exhaustion is bordering on burnout in some places. It’s not because the company is struggling.
Most of these companies are doing better than they’ve ever done before. Kraft Foods, I have a friend that’s been working there forever. More people are buying food than there’s ever been. The numbers are great. Companies are doing phenomenally well, and yet, I liken it in some ways, like in Formula 1 racing where you cannot drive one of those high-performance cars quickly, fast to win a race on bald tires.
There’s this element of maybe there are some folks that are feeling like their tires are getting bald in the process of keeping up with the supply chain issues, other changes, other disruptions and things that are there. Is there some intentional work that you are considering or already engaged in to help people in the company be more resilient mentally, emotionally, physically or even spiritually? By that, more in terms of their alignment between what’s important, their values and what they do at work as well. Is there something like that’s an initiative within the company already?
When we talk about the spiritual, emotional, that’s been a big part of ours going in. A lot of companies, if they went in with low employee engagement, which means that there are no values protecting them. They’re not having a feeling of belonging. They don’t have bald tires. They’ve got no tires. They’re running on rims.
On the other side of it, through the whole year, we’ve done a lot of work around ensuring people and setting the example with people say, “Let’s prioritize. We can’t do it all. What’s most important?” Then saying, “Take your time off, please.” We’ve had a number of workshops in the organization. We had Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick come along and do a couple of sessions on gratitude and anxiety at work. Facing the things that are facing people, giving them tools to be able to try and understand what’s affecting them is important. We gave everybody in the company a subscription to the Calm app and did workshops on, “How may you use this and what should you do?”
I don’t think other than turning up the volume around the things that were important to us, that’s what’s carried us through. We had the best year in many years of history of the company. Our revenues were up 19%. Our profits were up 16%. We’ve just paid out the largest growth reward to our people. Our employee engagement is higher than ever before. They’re more excited about the future than ever before. However, there is a lot of pressure, particularly, in the supply chain. That hasn’t been easy. Empathy is important and showing people we care. I send out a daily message every morning to the tribe, one of inspiration and encouragement.
Unfortunately, it’s far way too often in the last few years, but it’s wherever I am in the world. We were sending weekly updates and video updates to our tribe. It’s transparency. Telling them the truth loudly, “This is where we are.” Brené Brown says, “In the absence of facts and data, people make up stories.” That is something that’s on my mind all the time. Asking yourself as a leader, “Am I being the person I want to be right now?” I asked myself that many times a day.
I asked myself, “What do I want to be? I want to be caring. I want to be empathetic. I want to be reasonable. I want to be a listener. I want to be fact-based. I want to be balanced and want to be a curious learner.” I have to ask myself that more during COVID because the COVID hook would have pulled me off that road very easily. I found myself I had to keep coming back, “You don’t want to be out there. This is where you feel comfortable.” I’m doing this for a lot of leadership groups as well. It’s awareness of where you are.
It’s a bit of the way you’re baked because you’re a teacher, an adjunct professor and it feels to me like you are more bought into the value of constant never-ending improvement, of learning of personal development, as well as business development than maybe some folks are. Are you still teaching your class virtually?
We taught it in person a few months ago. One of the first things we did in our TP, we held the class at the TP, but in 2020, we did it virtually, which was another wonderful experience with my co-teacher, Dr. Dennis Thompson. We had to take our syllabus and turn it into a virtual program which was a great learning experience. I was pretty scared at the beginning, but it worked out pretty well.
As we wrap up, I appreciate this conversation. Uncertainty isn’t going anywhere and our response to uncertainty is in part what we’re talking about. The uncertainty and the lack of a lot of clarity on a macro level have taken a toll on people in a way that we have not seen before. This has been a truly global event. For other leaders like yourself, making an impact in terms of the organization is more important than it’s ever been. It can’t be lip service.Do what you think is right. Do your best and make peace with it. Click To Tweet
There are three things that I pulled out of a case study of a business that was dealing with this uncertainty. The three things were, first, things have to be tangible. You could have talked about collision zones until you’re blue in the face, but if you didn’t redesign your offices to create that, it wouldn’t be living and breathing in the culture. It’s tangible, not just something that’s gets written, put in a frame and in the breakroom or something. Breakrooms aren’t in now.
Two, we have to try stuff. That means failing often failing to find out. I’m sure you’ve had your share of fail to find out along the way. In fact, I might ask you to share one of those before we depart because it’s always important to get a sense of how people who are in successful enterprises have dealt with even a small and modest failure of something larger too.
Lastly, taking the time, which is what you said earlier, to check in with people and to genuinely care, which is then having those uncomfortable conversations. Uncomfortable in that you keep asking questions beyond the point of it being politeness. You’re curious. You want to know. How are you feeling? How are things at home? What are you doing with your time? Are you taking time away? Are you doing things for your body?
For example, on the resilience side of things, we believe in a recovery map, a simple process where people, in those four areas, mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, can do something several times a day. That could be as little as 30 seconds or 1 minute on up to 25 or 30 minutes, the longest to create a recovery zone for themselves.
Exploring and asking questions about what a person’s rituals are, what their habits are so that you get a greater sense of whether they are, in fact, riding on good tires or whether the tires are bald or maybe they know it or don’t know it. First of all, is there a challenge that you faced? I’d love to get a sense of how you dealt with it. Lastly, what some or one ritual that you have for your own personal recovery, given the fact that you’re taking and looking after a global organization?
The willingness to fail and find out, as you know, we’ve never made a mistake ever at our company. We took the word failure out and we replaced it with learning moments, as you might recall. We don’t make mistakes. We have learning moments and a learning moment as a positive or negative outcome of any situation that has to be openly and freely shared to benefit all people. That simple change in the definition of failure has paid off so well for us.
We’d be here for months if I was to tell you all the learning moments I’ve had over time. One of the things that I was born with is I don’t remember bad very well, which I often think, “Do what you think is right. Do your best and then make peace with it. Let it go.” That was one of the big learnings that I had during COVID is, “Look at our values, do what we think is right. Do your best, let it go and move on because if you don’t, you’ll get bogged down, which I think is something that is where you don’t want to be.”
Feedback is vital and the recovery. The last thing, is there something that you do on a ritual basis, even on a daily basis?
I have my daily questions and I asked myself, “Did I do my best to make clear goals and achieve those goals? Did I do my best to find meaning? Did I do my best to walk my 10,000 steps? Did I do my best to listen? Did I do my best to reach out to family? Did I do my best?” I asked myself these questions, and I graded myself, “Yes or no?” If I didn’t, then I need to refocus again. I love the daily questions.
I have a code of conduct that resembles that in a different way. It seems like we all have very similar things that are a signpost for how you’re doing on a particular day. You can again take the feedback and pivot, recalibrate as needed.
The world will rip us out if we let it. We’ve got to recenter ourselves.
Is everyone well with you and your family?
Yes. I just became a granddad again. My daughter in Australia had a little baby girl. I haven’t seen her yet, but I’ll be on an aircraft on December 15, 2021, flying south to meet my new granddaughter.
Nothing in the world could be better. I can relate to you now because I’m going to pull. It’s been a blessing to have you on the show. I want to say your support for the book Change Proof publicly is so appreciated. I know how much you’ve got going on in your world to take time to read, but I know you’re also a lifelong learner. I hope the book also provided some insights for you. That would be my highest hope.
I love the Pause, Ask, Choose. I’m looking forward to getting my real copy.
It’s been a pleasure. As always, we welcome your comments. Have a blessed day. I hope wherever you are and whatever you’re doing at this moment, that you love your life, every bit of it, all of it, no matter what. That is the key. I’m grateful in this moment as well. Ciao for now, everyone.
- WD-40 Company
- Helping People Win At Work: A Business Philosophy Called “Don’t Mark My Paper, Help Me Get An A”
- Change Proof
About Garry Ridge
Garry Ridge is Chairman of the Board and chief executive officer of the WD-40 Company (NASDAQ WDFC) headquartered in San Diego, California. WD-40 Company is the maker of the ever-popular WD-40 multi-use product, as well as 3-IN-ONE Oil, Solvol, and Lava heavy-duty hand cleaners and X-14, Carpet Fresh, Spot Shot, 1001 and 2000 Flushes household cleaning products.
Garry has been with WD-40 Company since 1987 in various management positions, including executive vice president and chief operating officer and vice president of international. He has worked directly with WD-40 in 50 countries.
A native of Australia, Garry has served as national vice president of the Australian Marketing Institute and the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association.
Garry received his Masters of Science Degree in Executive Leadership from the University of San Diego, CA, in June 2001.
Garry is an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego. He teaches leadership development, talent management & succession planning in the Master of Science in Executive Leadership program.
In March 2003, Garry was awarded Director of the Year for Enhancement of Economic Value by the Corporate Directors Forum.
In April 2004, Garry received the Arthur E Hughes Career Achievement Award from the University of San Diego.
In 2006, Garry was awarded the Ernst & Young – Master Entrepreneur Award.
In 2009, Garry co-authored a book with Ken Blanchard titled “Helping People Win at Work: A Business Philosophy called “Don’t Mark My Paper, Help Me Get an A”, Release in May 2009, FT Press. #MG 100 coach.