How to Simplify Communication in the Workplace (with Herman Cain)

Behind the Scenes with Herman Cain (Part 2), February 19, 2020

This episode is Part 2 of Linda’s interview with successful businessman, sought-after speaker, well-known author, news commentator, and former presidential candidate, Herman Cain.  His sense of humor and calm wisdom provide thought-provoking insights that will benefit everyone who listens.


Podcast Transcript

Linda Hansen: This episode is part two of a fascinating interview I recently had with my friend, successful businessman, former presidential candidate, sought after speaker, well-known author, and news commentator, Herman Cain. In the first part of the interview, Mr. Cain shared why he believes employers need to be leaders and teachers in the workplace. I know you’ll enjoy listening as we continue the conversation in part two as you learn more about Mr. Cain’s business background, and you hear his tips for simplifying communication with your employees. We’ll be joining this conversation in process, and I hope you’ll enjoy it. 

Linda Hansen: Walk them through briefly just the high points. 

Herman Cain: Okay.

Linda: You went from Pillsbury then it was Burger King through Pillsbury and then…

Herman: Right. Started out as the Mathematician with my Math degree, worked for the Department of the Navy. Worked for the Department of the Navy. 

Linda: Right.

Herman: I wasn’t in the Navy.

Linda: You’re a business or you’re an analyst. 

Herman: Analyst and from there, I went to work for the Coca Cola company in Atlanta. 

From there, I got an offer to go to the Pillsbury company in Minneapolis. I did that and rose to the level of vice president. Didn’t expect it to happen at age 34 but it did. Going back to…

Linda: Because you focused on performance.

Herman: Performance, performance, performance. And then after I was… rose to the level of vice president and there were two major projects that the organization of about 150 people were supposed to achieve. One, with a brand new computer system, make the conversion. The second was the Pillsbury World Headquarters Project. There were two towers was going up in downtown Minneapolis and Pillsbury was going to be the major tenant in one of those entire towers. So, I had to coordinate with the owners of the towers who were building the towers and trust me, there were a lot of issues along the way. After doing that for a while, to be honest with you, I got bored.

Linda: I’m not surprised. 

Herman: I got bored. I was in my 30’s and I’m going, “Well, what am I going to do with the rest of my life?” I never believed in retiring on the job. So, I talked to the president of the company, Wynn Wallin at that time and he said we need a lot of leaders in Burger King because Burger King was that big growth vehicle. I tell people all the time and a lot of media people don’t understand this, and a lot of politicians don’t understand this. Companies do not plan to stand still. I served on several large corporate boards during my career, the discussion was always, how are we going to grow?

Linda: Right.

Herman: Those are the discussions. Not, how we going to get smaller; not how we going to stay the same size, growth. And that’s what a lot of media people don’t understand. So, at Pillsbury, I needed to make a switch, so I went into the Burger King division and had to start all over again.

Linda: Making hamburgers.

Herman: Making hamburgers, I sure did.

Linda: That’s great.

Herman: Made hamburgers, went through training, went to Whopper College. There is a Whopper College.

Linda: I know.

Herman: I was a magna cum laude.

Linda: Yeah. A star student, I’m sure and just so people know, he actually still eats Burger King when we were doing the presidential campaign. 

Herman: I still do. 

Linda: We have to have a quick meal. We find a Burger King.

Herman: I love that food. But here it gets back to passion. I could be passionate about that food. So eventually they reassigned me to become a VP and general manager for one of the regions. From there, became president at Godfather’s Pizza. Right after that or during that interim, president of the National Restaurant Association, serving on several major boards, SuperValue foods, Hallmark cards, Forblue Corporation. When there was a Reader’s Digest, it doesn’t exist anymore. 

Linda: Right.

Herman: Magazine is there but the company has gone so I served on a lot of boards. All of the board needs were about, “What are the results today? For the last quarter? What are you plans for the next quarter? How are we going to continue to grow the company?”

Linda: Exactly.

Herman: Not, “How do we shove more government mandated programs down the throats of the companies?” 

Linda: That brings up a good point.

Herman: Yes.

Linda: For those who want more detailed information about Mr. Cain’s 

resume and biography, you can go to hermancain.com–

Herman: Yes.

Linda: –and read the full story. Just a little side note too, for a little history on the early times in the campaign and our relationship through where we started Prosperity 101 and everything in, My Journey to the White House, is the book that we published during the presidential campaign, and that’s on hermancain.com along with your seven other books, seven others?

Herman: Six others.

Linda: Six other books, okay.

Herman: Yes.

Linda: All right. So, you’ll be well-read if you read Herman Cain’s books.

Herman: Now, I got to talk about two of the books.

Linda: Okay.

Herman: I wrote a book called, They Think You’re Stupid. I wrote that book 14 years ago. It is about politics, legislators, senators, and everything in that book is still true today.

Linda: It is. I’m just thinking at it.

Herman: They have not changed a thing. That’s depressing, to be honest with you. 

Linda: Yes.

Herman: The other book I wrote is called, CEO of Self. You’re in charge of yourself in your life. That’s where I put down some of the things that I had lived by and worked by all my life. CEO of Self, we had to reproduce it in paperback because we sold out all of the hard backs.

Linda: That’s great.

Herman: But we still have a few, They Think You’re Stupid, books left and it help you better understand some of the narrative and the noise out there, that people are inundated with sometimes.

Linda: You bring that up, the narrative and the noise, and I tell people, just tune out the self-acclaimed pundit–

Herman: Yes.

Linda: –and focus, what do you want for your life? 

Herman: Right.

Linda: So, when people ask about government systems to support where there’s all the ISMS in the news today, I tell people to do a little research and then find out what did they want for their lives and which system more aligns with their values? So, as you think about growth for these companies that you’ve worked with and the organizations with which you’ve been involved, growth is so important. You mentioned how big government can hamper that growth. 

Herman: Yes.

Linda: We’ve talked so much about too much taxation, legislation, regulation.

Herman: Right.

Linda: Do you feel that that is the biggest challenge for employers and do you feel that the employees fully understand those challenges?

Herman: That’s the biggest challenge and no, many of the employees don’t fully understand it. I recently did a video and wrote an article and the caption line was, Capitalism Creates; Socialism Takes. 

Linda: Exactly.

Herman: That’s the concept. Many employees don’t understand creeping socialism. You have some people out there making promises of free stuff that can never be delivered because socialism is going to take control of your life. It’s going to take your resources.

It’s going to take away some of your liberties. Going take away some of your freedoms.

Linda: And your money.

Herman: –and your money. Capitalism creates.

Linda: Creates.

Herman: The way it creates is freedom to make decisions. Freedom to pursue what you want to pursue, your liberties. We have that law of the land. If you look at the United States of America as an example, perfect example, the United States of America has less than 5% of the world population. But the United States economy is 25% of the world’s GDP in less than 250 years.

Linda: It’s amazing, isn’t it? That it’s just absolutely amazing. 

Herman: It absolutely is amazing because you are free to succeed or fail in the United States of America.

Linda: It’s up to you because you’re CEO of self.

Herman: You’re CEO of self and if you fail get up, try something else. You can’t do that in a lot of other countries and that’s how I illustrate how capitalism creates. This country is successful today because of capitalism, not socialism.

Linda: Exactly. Exactly and I feel that people are afraid to actually talk about that a little bit but it’s a fact.

Herman: It is a fact.

Linda: It’s truly a fact and I know that so many times– I’m sure you can address this as well. People think that the employer or the business owner is just some person who drives fancy cars and has all the money in the bank and that might be true. Bill Gates, Elon Musk, but they all started somewhere, right?

Herman: Right.

Linda: They all started somewhere and for so many employers they might have the business that is the anchor employer in a small town in rural America.

Herman: Right.

Linda: They may be taking home less every pay cycle than any of their employers or they may not be taking a check at all because they’re dumping everything back into the business.

Herman: Right.

Linda: This is something employees just don’t understand.

Herman: It doesn’t matter whether it is a small business, a medium size business or a huge mega business. The principles are the same.

Linda: –are the same, right. Yeah, every business needs to make a profit.

Herman: Yes.

Linda: Right, in order to grow and I asked people too, “Do you want to work more so other people can work less or not it all?” I mean it’s kind of like if you have somebody who borrows your car or comes to stay with you, they always say, “Fish and house guests smell after three days.” So, when there is that overstaying, you’re welcome, or taking advantage of someone, that’s almost what happens with big government and when we are overtaxed. Because those of us who actually produce are being forced to reallocate our income to those who do not produce.

Herman: Yes.

Linda: If it’s flipped the other way, you know I’ve asked someone who was getting minimum wage at one point. I said, “Okay, if you think the owner of your company should give more because it’s important for people who have more to give to those who have less, then let’s just take $2 out of each one of your paychecks or $2 out of every hour that you work and will give it to someone who isn’t working.” She said, “Well, that’s not what I meant.” I said, “Well, that’s exactly what you meant. It’s just done in different scale.

Herman: It’s on a different scale.

Linda: Right and these simple things don’t tell anyone how to vote.

Herman: No.

Linda: They just help people understand basic economic realities. Money does not grow on trees. There is a limited pie of funds that employers have to work with–

Herman: Right.

Linda: –and in order for them to secure and keep providing those jobs for the employees, there has to be an appropriate balance.

Herman: Success is nonpartisan.

Linda: It is. That’s a great.

Herman: It’s nonpartisan.

Linda: That’s a good quote. Listeners, write that down. Say that again, please?

Herman: Success is nonpartisan. Basic economics facts, nonpartisan.

Linda: Basic economics facts.

Herman: Yes.

Linda: It’s so true. 

Herman: It is. It’s nonpartisan. You don’t have to make it partisan. I can recall one of the things that I do is I do a lot of keynote speaking. I can actually give and have done this many times a speech without ever mentioning partisan words, divisive words, that sort of things. Just talk about the facts. Talk about the results.

Linda: Right.

Herman: Guess what? They are nonpartisan.

Linda:  They are nonpartisan, right. 

Herman: Yes, they’re nonpartisan.

Linda: I know you and I think part of the reason we enjoy working together is we enjoy bringing together opposing sides in the sense.

Herman: Yes.

Linda: I always think that there is something that we can agree on. If we take even the most contentious issues of the day, I could go to anybody that’s in a totally opposite political side of the spectrum, right?

Herman: Right. Yeah.

Linda: And be able to pick something that we can agree on because for so many of us we actually want the same things.

Herman: Yes.

Linda: We actually want the same things. We just approach it a little bit differently but I do believe that when we can educate and inform in a caring empathetic manner, that helps them see that we really care about them. We’re not trying to criticize them. We’re helping them to be prosperous and successful. That can really turn the tide for individuals, families and for companies and our country.

Herman: Yes, absolutely.

Linda: So, I think we are probably running out of time here soon. I know Mr. Cain has to go record his own show and so do you have any parting thoughts that you want to leave with our listeners today?

Herman: My parting thought would be, the better that the people in your organization understand those three fundamentals that I shared earlier, do what’s right. Make sure everybody knows what you’re trying to achieve as an organization. And also make sure they understand what their role is. If people focus on their role, performance, performance, performance, they will be successful and feel more productive and their whole organization will be more productive and the whole organization will be more successful.

Linda: Absolutely.

Herman: I’ve also experienced in my 50 years of being in the workplace– I calculated this stuff — 

Linda: You’re just a kid. Yeah, you’re just a kid. 

Herman: –it scared the crap out of me. Is that–

Linda: Try to keep up with him, audience.

Herman: –sometimes opportunities, you don’t know that they are coming.

Linda: Right.

Herman: Take my career as an example. I indicate, I had a personal goal of being a vice president of major corporation before by the time I turn 40. Well, it happened at age 34. Shocker. You’ll never know. I also had a goal of being president of a company before 50. Well I was appointed president of Godfather’s at 40. When I turned 50, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I really didn’t but other opportunities came along.

Linda: Right.

Herman: So, my life has continued to unfold in terms of new opportunities because I was never afraid of the new opportunities.

Linda: And you lived in a country that allowed you to pursue opportunity. 

Herman: Living in a country where capitalism creates.

Linda: Capitalism creates. Absolutely. With that, I do have just one other question that I would think that would be important to the employers.

Herman: Yes.

Linda: What would you see is they’re best return on investment for spending time educating their employees about the issues that affect their jobs?

Herman: Their return on investment will be a successful enterprise, period.

Linda: Absolutely.

Herman: A successful enterprise can be described and defined in different ways. You have to define your success factors. Someone wrote about one time. What are the most important success factors for you? What are the metrics that you’re going to use to determine if you’re successful? So, your return on investment is to hit those metrics but you have to define what those metrics are and make sure that the employees know what those metrics are. Yes.

Linda: Right and how it impacts them.

Herman: Exactly.

Linda: So fantastic. Well, thank you so much.

Herman: You’re welcome.

Linda: I can’t thank you enough. It’s always a pleasure and as you guys, whoever is listening, you can tell that we have a long friendship and enjoy working together. I’m just so blessed to have you as adviser and–

Herman: Well, thank you.

Linda: –and mentor and someone who has helped me as I’ve considered everything to do with the Prosperity 101 programs. I’m so thankful for Mr. Cain to be a mentor and friend and I’m thankful that we could share this interview with the listeners today. So again, I’ll just direct you to hermancain.com.

Herman: Yes.

Linda: One thing we didn’t mention—is that you have a new documentary coming–

Herman: Yes.

Linda: –or that just recently came out, From Poor to CEO–

Herman: Poor to CEO and the official release date is going to be November the 26th. 

Linda: Fantastic.

Herman: That’s what we’re working on now in terms of making it more widely available. But we did do early previews on the west, out west and on the east. The reception was incredible. It is, I don’t know how the filmmaker took 50 years of my life and condensed it to 69 minutes.

Linda: It was very good. It was a great movie and it’s very inspiring and it shows again what can happen when the conditions allow for prosperity regardless of background–

Herman: Right.

Linda: –you had a very humble beginning regardless of color, regardless of the time frame in which we live. But when we have principles and policies that allow for individuals to thrive we can have people like Herman Cain, who bless our lives with their wisdom and common sense.

Herman: Yes.

Linda: Yes, that’s another one he’s written, Common Sense principles.

Herman: Well, Thanks, Linda. I have enjoyed it.

Linda: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Herman: Good luck on your project.

Linda: Thank you so much.

Herman: Yes, you’re welcome.

Linda J Hansen

Linda J Hansen

Linda J. Hansen is the Founder & President of Prosperity 101, LLC, and the creator of the Breakroom Economics™program. She is passionate about helping to enhance communication between employers and employees, especially regarding basic economics of job creation and business prosperity.