Tub Tor Rides Again?

July 12, 2021

Last week I introduced you to my inner critic, Tub Tor.

Among the many responses to that email, a surprising thing happened regarding the all-important topic of employee turnover.

Before I explain that random connection, let me first thank many of you who emailed me and introduced me to *your* inner critics. Keep those emails coming!

One chief product officer even suggested we assemble a one-time roundtable for members to introduce their inner critics to each other. Love that! 

Now, let’s move to the seemingly unrelated topic of job turnover.

Recently, I had two 1:1 coaching calls with members who were considering leaving their jobs.

As you all know, we are in the middle of an unprecedented employee retention challenge. More people are leaving than *ever* before.

As part of this historic turnover wave, I spend a lot of time helping members think about what they really want, and if leaving is going to actually solve that.

Sometimes it definitely does, and, sadly, too often it does not.

In both of these 1:1 coaching calls, the members were unhappy about certain things *and* their companies really wanted to keep them. 

Their bosses had even asked, “What would it take to keep you?”

Here’s the thing: They had a very hard time answering that question.

They would say to me, “Well, I can’t ask for this”, or “That would never be possible.” 

No matter what I did, they just could not provide real answers.

Tub Tor rides again!  

Yes, that’s right. 

I finally realized *their* internal critics were blocking them.  Each time they would begin to think about something they wanted, their Tub Tor would say they did not deserve it. 

With one member, I decided to have her open my email from last week and read it out loud to both of us.

That helped get beyond her inner critic.

Here’s the real kicker: Do you know what she finally said about what she wanted?

You are probably thinking:

  • lots of money
  • triple promotion
  • 3 months of vacation a year

Or, something else beyond the pale.

*None* of the above. 

Her number 1 desire was this: 

I want to have clear responsibility and accountability and be tied to outcomes that really matter for the business.

Next she wanted to keep learning and really be challenged.

What? Really?


I told her those answers are what makes her a dream employee and why her company wants to keep her.

Her Tub Tor, however, rose up yet again and made it hard for her to hear that compliment.

This was tough work. Tub Tors are persistent. 

If you are a manager and one of your best employees is leaving, and, you are having trouble like I did in this conversation, then your solution may be to hang in there, be patient, and out persist their Tub Tor.

You should emphasize again and again that you want them to say what *they* want without regard to what might be possible, or even what bosses like you might want to hear. 

If you do this and be clear that there is no wrong answer, then you might have a shot of riding past their inner critic. 

No guarantee that you will like what they say, or that you will be able to act on it, but, given my experience, there’s a good shot that you will be positively surprised and then be able to find a way to keep them on board, which is, in fact, what happened with both of these members when they finally got beyond their Tub Tors. 

Love, Phil, aka Phyl, aka Tub Tor

P.S. If you are a current member and are on either side of this employee turnover challenge, then you know what to do: reach out and ask for help!

P.P.S. Years ago, I decided to leave McKinsey, and my boss asked what it would take for me to stay. I couldn’t, however, answer the question. Not clear what would have happened if I had answered, but we’ll never know will we? The good ol’ Tub Tor rode again.

Recent Talks and Activity Recordings

  • Clubhouse and the Audio Revolution (not recorded)
    Jonathan Ehrlich, Partner, Foundation Capital
    Talk Type: In the Moment 
    Audience/Roles: All Roles
     Two things to know about Jonathan Ehrlich:
    1) he co-led the seed round in Clubhouse and was thus the first venture capitalist to spot its potential;
    2) he’s a Councils alum with an interesting career arc.We held an informal conversation with Jonathan about Clubhouse, the future of audio, and Jonathan’s career journey from a mostly offline retailer in Canada to relocating to Silicon Valley and reinventing himself.—
    —Jonathan Ehrlich is a Partner at Foundation Capital who invests in early early-stage consumer, marketplace, commerce, and SaaS startups and technologies. He joined Foundation Capital in 2013 as a partner after spending nine months with the firm as an entrepreneur-in-residence. Before joining Foundation Capital, Jonathan spent 17 years as an operator during which he founded three companies, built a $100M+ revenue business, and ran marketing for Facebook. He is the first institutional investor in Clubhouse and currently sits on the board of Bulletin and Chord. His Foundation and personal investments include Shelf Engine, Mainstreet, Truepill, Hooked, WayUp, League, Front, and Flexport. When not working, he can be found on his bike or chasing his four kids around.
  • No Ego, Part 2 (not recorded)
    Cy Wakeman, Best-selling Author and CEO
    Talk Type: Leadership Development, Culture
    Audience/Roles: All Roles
     We had a follow-up session with Cy last Friday that was amazing. We did NOT record it due to confidentiality. We will be planning more.

    In the meantime, you can watch the spring keynote with Cy, which was a GREAT session. Members loved it. I collected live case studies from members, which I anonymously shared with Cy to get her reaction on what was to be done. You gotta watch to see her great answers.

    Cy Wakeman is a drama researcher, global thought-leader, and New York Times best-selling author who is recognized for cultivating a counter-intuitive, reality-based approach to leadership. Backed by over 20 years of unparalleled experience, Wakeman’s philosophy offers a new lens through which employees and executives alike, can shift their attention inward, sharpen their focus on personal accountability, and uncover their natural state of innovation simply by ditching the drama.

    Deemed “the secret weapon to restoring sanity to the workplace,” Wakeman has helped companies such as Google, Facebook, Viacom, Uber, NBC Universal, NASA, Pfizer, Johns Hopkins, Stanford Health Care, Keurig Dr. Pepper, AMC Theatres, White Castle, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and countless others learn to navigate our rapidly changing world using good mental processes to harness energy wasted in workplace drama and reinvest that effort into achieving profound business results.
  • Battle Buddies – A Way to Support Your Teams
    Craig Hopkins, CIO, City of San Antonio
    Talk Type: Leadership Development; Skill Builder/Practitioner
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    We ran a short QnA-focused webinar with Craig to introduce an idea that has taken off in his org, the City of San Antonio, where he is the CIO.It’s called Battle Buddies. So, what is a Battle Buddy?Adapted from the US Army, a battle buddy is a partner assigned to an employee in an organization who is expected to assist his or her partner.Even though we are not in military combat, Craig says our corporate responsibilities can feel just as stressful and overwhelming at times.A battle buddy is not only intended for comradery and support, but also to help reduce stress, provide professional and leadership guidance, and at times, get into the trenches together to get things done. Since we will each be watching each other’s actions, we are all battle buddies to each other, as partners and as a leadership team, driven by our mission while adhering to our Core Values.Craig talked about how this has worked in his organization and how to set it up in yours.
  • JTBD in Large Distributed Environments
    Jay Haynes, Founder & CEO, thrv.com
    Talk Type: Product; Skill Builder/Practitioner
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    Jobs To Be Done has proven to be an effective methodology for building much better holistic end-to-end products and customer experiences.

    *But* CG Council member companies with large distributed environments are finding it difficult to apply JTBD in effective ways.

    Jay Haynes, CEO of thrv, and a global expert on JTBD will come and speak to the Councils community on this specific challenge of using the methodology in large, complex technology environments.
  • Groundwork: Get Better at Making Better Products
    Vidya Dinamani and Heather Samarin, co-Authors of Groundwork
    Talk Type: Product
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    Product leaders are all too familiar with the one to two-year period it typically takes to train and coach PMs. Product leaders hire smart people and then work with them individually, guiding them through how to think about product management, and watching them develop. Vidya Dinamani and Heather Samarin wanted a much faster way to help cultivate efficient and effective product managers that consistently create products that delight customers, regardless of the industry, the environment, and the development methodology that the team employed. They took years of experience as product executives and working with hundreds of teams as product coaches to create a framework to Get Better at Making Better Products.

    The design philosophy and methodology behind Groundwork was created to help product leaders be confident that their teams were committed to solving the right customer problems, minimizing costly rework by using individualized needs, and leveraging actionable personas in big and small product decisions. Vidya and Heather want Groundwork to help product teams have a much higher chance of success in the market—and help every product manager shine.

    Join Vidya and Heather as they share the background, principles, and methodology behind the Groundwork to help you, and your team, get better at making better products. 
  • Making the Case for Empowering Your People
    Marty Cagan, Partner, Silicon Valley Product Group
    Talk Type: Product, Leadership Development, Culture
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    From Marty: “I have long been interested in the difference between how the best companies work, and the rest. Working with both types of organizations for so many years, there are many differences ranging from culture to process to staffing to roles to techniques. But at its core, strong product companies empower their people, and most of the rest do not. My focus over the past few years has been tackling this issue head-on, which means the product leadership. In this talk, we’ll discuss why this model consistently yields better results, and what’s necessary to transform to work like the best.”

    Marty’s Bio: Marty Cagan is the founding partner of the Silicon Valley Product Group, which he created to pursue his interests in helping others create successful products through his writing, speaking, advising and coaching. Before starting SVPG, Marty served as an executive responsible for defining and building products for some of the most successful companies in the world, including Hewlett-Packard, Netscape Communications, and eBay.As part of his work with SVPG, Marty advises tech companies of all sizes and stages, stretching far beyond Silicon Valley. Marty is the author of the industry-leading book for product teams, INSPIRED: How To Create Tech Products Customers Love, and the upcoming book EMPOWERED: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products. Marty is an invited speaker at major conferences and top companies across the globe.
  • See talks from the last month and beyond here.​

About the Author

Phyl Terry

Phyl Terry, Founder and CEO of Collaborative Gain, Inc., launched the company’s flagship leadership program – The Councils – in 2002 with a fellow group of Internet pioneers from Amazon, Google, and others. Thousands of leaders from the Internet world have come together in the last 15 years to learn the art of asking for help and to support each other to build better, more customer-centric products, services, and companies.

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