Allison Behringer is the creator and host of the world famous podcast - THE INTERN (+1 million downloads). On this episode, Allison talks about what to do on the first day of work, whether or not to drink all the free alcohol at office parties, and neither confirms nor denies whether she hooked up with anyone at her office. The BONUS SECTION promotes the idea of honesty being the best policy at work (and life) and ASK MR CORPO section explains why MR CORPO always imagines you are standing in a bubble when he is talking to you.
Meet Allison Behringer: World Famous Intern (11/16/2016)
JUSTIN: (singing) Allison. I know this world is hurting you. Oh, Allison. My aim is true.
JUSTIN: Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of the Mr. Corpo podcast. Today we're gonna talk about how to be an intern. And we have a super special guest who is really good at being an intern. Her name is Allison Behringer, in fact she had a podcast that was called The Intern. So in anyone in the world that might be well-qualified to go on a podcast and talk about being an intern, I think it would be Allison. But a few more things about Allison before we get started. One, she's an absolutely fantastic person. I have that on good authority from Rob. The second thing we wanna know about Allison, she has started nonprofits, she has taught in Thailand, she's lived in India. So she's super interesting.
And her internship was at BetaWorks, which is some type of incubator-startup-tech company. And she was tasked with the very amorphous job of hey, why don't you come on over here and start a podcast, whatever that means. And not only did she start a podcast, but the intern podcast was world-famous, had, I'm gonna say, over 100,000 downloads, maybe just less than that a mil -- more than that, but less than a million, but more than a million. Somewhere around a million. Okay, she's giving me a thumbs down, a little bit less than a million. And I really encourage you to go check it out, we'll give you all the details later, but she is thoughtful, insightful, and she made a bunch of mistakes along the way. So let's get to work and start talking about it. Hi, Allison.
ALLISON: Hey, Justin. Thanks so much for the very flattering introduction.
JUSTIN: Yes, that's what you get on this show. You know, nothing but kind words. So what do you do first? I don't wanna spend time talking about how you get an internship, cause I think for each person that's gonna be very different. But let's say it's Day One of your intern, you show up, you don't know anyone, what happens next? What do you do?
ALLISON: So if you listen to The Intern, you'll know that it took me a little bit to figure that out. Um, so I'm speaking only in hindsight with all my wisdom. Um, my first priority was getting to know everyone and really making sure that I was going out of my way to meet everyone.
JUSTIN: How do you meet people? I mean, I listened to the podcast a little bit --
JUSTIN: -- I think you said you stuck -- you kind of like held down the kitchen area and tried to talk to people --
JUSTIN: -- but what did you do? Like, tell me -- I want our listeners to know, it's your first day, you're in the office, you're an intern, no one knows what the heck you're doing there. Did you just walk up and shake people's hands? Like, what happened?
ALLISON: Yeah, you know, I mean, I -- at BetaWorks we had the luxury of a kitchen, coffee, snacks, all the things, almond butter, KIND bars. Um, and so without a lot to do I would just kinda go into the kitchen, be making tea, you know, maybe like a third cup of tea and someone would come over. And I'd be like, oh you know, how do you use the coffee machine? Like, just strike up a very small conversation. BetaWorks is made up of a bunch of small companies, or very early-stage companies. A few founders. And so everyone's kinda working in small pods. But because I was working by myself, um, I didn't kinda have a built-in group to fall back on. I didn't have that built-in friend group. Um, so that kinda made me have to -- if I wanted to have friends at work or people to sit with at lunch, I kinda had to -- um, had to meet people. I'm a very social creature. So...
JUSTIN: Yeah. I mean, I think it -- it seems to me that's one of the challenges of being an intern. When you're hired to a full-time job, you've got a manager, you've got a team, you've got a role to do, everyone knows why you're there. But often when you are an intern, it's kind of this bonus situation. And -- and people don't know exactly what to do with you. They don't know how to treat you. Do they treat you as a co-worker? Do they treat you as their little brother, their little sister? And so I'd imagine that's kind of a difficult dynamic, existing between worlds.
ALLISON: Yeah, yeah. I imagine it's different in different industries. But BetaWorks, because it was pretty small, like, I never really felt like I was treated like a lowly intern. Like, I was never asked to get coffee or anything. The more that I acted like not an intern and the more I acted like a podcast producer, the more people treated me as such.
JUSTIN: Okay, so you're new in the office, you're an intern, you're taking the initiative to introduce yourself to other people and -- and let them know you're here, and let them know what you're working on. In -- in this BetaWorks office, you guys did a lot of, sounded like company drinks, or after-work drinks. 05:00 At the office they had free drinks, things like that, these mixers. What's your take on that social drinking work atmosphere, from the perspective of an intern? Is there advantages to being in -- an intern in that? Is there drawbacks to that? Or did the alcohol lubricate the conversation? How did that go?
ALLISON: I think in many ways, alcohol is an equalizer. Everyone's kind of becomes more on an equal plane. And again, I came from teaching. So coming into this, you know, we used to call, um, we'd do happy hour drinks every other month or so with my teacher friends. And we would call it book club as like a code word, so the kids didn't know. You know, of course they think we're like the lamest people on earth. You know, like the 10th graders think, yeah, that -- our teacher could never do that. But we'd call it book club. And so like, to be drinking in my place of work just felt like, should I be -- am I allowed to do this? You know, like cheers-ing with my boss before we knock back a beer? Like, this feels so weird. It feels so uncomfortable. And I will say, probably, got a little too drunk. You know, didn't do anything embarrassing, but like yeah, maybe got a little too drunk at some of those --
JUSTIN: Is that nerves, or you're just -- the cocktails were good, or what was it?
ALLISON: I mean, it's free booze. So again, like, coming from being like underpaid, not having any of those perks --
JUSTIN: You gotta take advantage of it.
ALLISON: Yeah, like I'm a sucker for anything free. Which is why I think I gained like five pounds in my first couple months there, cause of all the free food. It's like -- it's in front of you, why not? Same with the beer at these happy hour things. Um, but I think it's like -- I think it's definitely advantageous as an intern because it can put you kind of on the same level as just -- everyone's hanging out after work, relaxing a little bit, lowers the stakes, um --
JUSTIN: Yeah, yeah.
ALLISON: I will say though, that I think that in startups there's this um, feeling of like, we're all family, we're drinking together, we're all friends. At the end of the day, these people aren't your friends. Like, they're your co-workers. And the point of drinking together after work, yeah, it's for like, camaraderie and certainly like, I made a lot of good friends. But it's a place with business, and at the end of their day, the goal is to make money. And so I think that sometimes all the freebies and drinking can um...not distract you, but can um...
JUSTIN: Well, can get confusing, too. I'd imagine.
ALLISON: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
JUSTIN: So you know, that was one of my questions. So when I listened to the podcast, there was one guy, I think it was in one of the early episodes, who said he liked to go dancing. And then he very strangely kind of said he likes to go dancing by himself. But you explain that ultimately he did invite you to go dancing. But I'm not sure if you ever followed up. Did you in fact go dancing with this guy?
ALLISON: You know, I didn't. But he's -- he's become a good friend. And I think he was just being awkward. Yeah.
JUSTIN: Okay. But -- but I guess I -- it gets me, the -- the question I was just curious if there was a -- a wormhole there. But the question for me is, yeah, when does it come from hey, we're at work, we're sharing free cocktails to, did this guy just ask me out? Did he just ask me to go dancing with him? Which is a pretty like, amazing first date move, but --
ALLISON: Right, right, right.
JUSTIN: -- but like, was there any of that dynamic? Did you feel that tension in the air? Did you see other examples where people took it one step too far and this was their dating pool?
ALLISON: Completely off the record?
ALLISON: Yeah, so back on the record, you know, I think, um -- I think sometimes relationships do come out of, of -- you know, working situations. I think it, you know, generally like, can get sticky sometimes. Cause then you're -- you're sitting right next to them. But I think that it's mostly -- was mostly just friendships. Like, there's a lot of people who I worked with at BetaWorks that -- they've left BetaWorks, I've left BetaWorks, and we still hang out.
JUSTIN: That's cool. So actually one of the questions I had, cause um, you know, our listeners won't know this, but um, in fact, I'm pretty old dude and Allison's a young person. So one of the questions I have is, how much did you exchange social media information? So you're there, you're in a new office, you're meeting new people. At what point do you cross the bridge of, oh, are you on Instagram? And then, change -- exchange user names and start following each other?
ALLISON: All the tech people at BetaWorks were really into Twitter. And I just never really used Twitter. Um...but because it was a -- a, um...a tech company and a social media company, and so many of the products are built onto social media platforms and all of that, everyone's following each other on everything. Um...
JUSTIN: Interesting. Now, do you feel pressure to like, like photos or things that -- Twitter's one thing if you're posting about work, and I understand that, but on the more social side of things, did you feel pressure to keep liking what they were posting or did you -- did it give you an insight you didn't wanna have to your co-workers? Is there pluses or minuses of sharing your social media content?
ALLISON: I don't know who followed who first. But my boss and I follow each other on Instagram. 10:00 But also because I started manning the BetaWorks Instagram account. And I would definitely like, like his pictures of his kids, you know, just to show, you know, everyone loves -- I don't know if you care -- it's --
JUSTIN: Well, that's boring. Yeah, no. No, I don't have any kids but you had to like all the pictures of his kids?
ALLISON: I mean, I wasn't like going through and liking the pictures. But they came up, you know, make sure you give it a like.
JUSTIN: Yeah, cause it -- people would be sensitive about the kids, right?
ALLISON: People with kids love talking about their kids, right? Right?
JUSTIN: Yes, that's true. That's true. Alright. So play it safe. Always like the pictures of the kids. That's Allison's advice.
ALLISON: And just ask people about their kids.
JUSTIN: Okay. Alright, so -- so let me change gears a little bit, and you know, on this podcast, as you're going through the process of going to work at this new company, and the trials and tribulations, you used your Grandpa as your sounding board for advice. How do I sign the contract, how do I ask for a raise, what do I do in this moment, I'm interviewing for a new job, can we practice? Did you find it useful or did you find there's a generational gap?
ALLISON: You know, one thing about my grandfather is that he -- he definitely gives advice and he has a lot of wisdom. But I think that what makes him a special old person is that he recognizes that things have changed. And anytime he gives me advice, he's like, "But you know, I know the workplace is different."
ALLISON: Or like, you know, things are changing. Um, I think that my grandpa's advice had a funny way of not making sense in the beginning. And then by the end of the episode, by the end of whatever adventure I was on, there was a good nugget. In episode five of The Intern, I document my experience asking for a raise. And my grandfather's kind of the first person that I go to after I'm like, I'm gonna ask for a raise. Um, and I tell him all the insane salaries that are being made in the tech world. And I tell him what I'm asking for, and he's like, no way, no way.
JUSTIN: I agreed with him when I was listening to the episode, yes.
ALLISON: Yeah, so, okay. So you did agree with him in the beginning of that? Yeah. Um...
JUSTIN: Well I agreed -- just to bring our listeners up to speed, so -- so basically Allison had been working at this company for three months --
JUSTIN: And then she goes to her grandfather and says, hey, grand --
ALLISON: Six months at the time.
JUSTIN: Si -- it was six months? Okay, I thought it was three months. And says, I'm gonna go ask for a raise. And your grandpa was like, you're crazy. And you know, it was interesting um, in the context of you know, our episode last week was about how to get a raise. And I had a very different approach then maybe how your grandfather approached it, which was, he said, "You have to justify it by how much sales have you added? Or how much money have you brought into the company?" And that is the direct line to how much you can get a raise and how you justify your work. Is that right?
ALLISON: Right, right. Right, right, right. Yeah, exactly. So I don't know that that was necessarily good advice for my situation. But at the end of the day, I think the reason why I didn't get a raise was because my job wasn't -- isn't like, tied to profits. At BetaWorks, there wasn't an argument to be made for that.
JUSTIN: It started as an internship. Became a really, you know, important, great job. But to ask for that right off the bat, it was gutsy. But I thought there were a few plays you could have had there to actually get some more money. You did in fact end up getting a little bit more money.
ALLISON: Yeah, yeah.
JUSTIN: Um, you got 5,000 extra bucks. Which is every little bit adds up --
ALLISON: Which is great, yeah.
JUSTIN: And as they point out on the podcast, ten percent. They can lord it over you. Cause ten percent sounds great. But when it's only 5,000 you're like --
JUSTIN: , Thi. You know?
ALLISON: Right, right.
JUSTIN: But uh, you know, no. I thought that was a -- that was a -- a gutsy move when -- when you did that. I thought one of the things that was interesting was, you went around your office and you asked everyone how much money they made. Now, let me just say for our listeners, I -- as an intern, if you're listening to this, I do not recommend you go around the office and ask everyone --
ALLISON: Neither do I.
JUSTIN: -- how much money they make. That is not one of the pieces of advice we're leaving on this show. But you know, what -- I -- I was actually pretty surprised. Was that your own idea, that just felt normal to you?
ALLISON: You know, I had, um, the great fortune of working with this woman named Katelyn Prest, is my editor. So kind of she -- we would meet once a week, talk about episode ideas, structure, and she was the one who encouraged me to do this. Um, to ask people.
JUSTIN: To create a confrontation or an awkward moment? Or just --
JUSTIN: -- like, pull back the curtain, I guess, is kind of what I thought it did.
ALLISON: Well you know, I was very curious what people made. But I was a little nervous about doing that. Um, and what's interesting is, while I was very much like so unsure as an intern, right -- you're an intern, you don't know what rules there are. You don't know what lines you're crossing. And yet, I had this um...mandate, if you will, to ask questions. And like, push boundaries, cause that was the point of the intern. And you know, it was -- it was astounding. I would say, half the people I asked told me their salary, no problem. The other half were like, uh, uh, uh. What? And I also, like, I really didn't know if I was allowed to be doing this. I didn't know. And at --
JUSTIN: That very well could be against company policy. I mean, you talked about that it's legally, you're allowed to ask. But a company policy may discourage it, or --
ALLISON: Right, right. And like, I'm -- I'm not trying to get fired. Like, I'm trying to stay. But I'm also trying to make a good podcast.
JUSTIN: You put forward the idea that -- of, what about 15:07 salary transparency, and -- you know, what are the pluses and the minuses of this, and you know, the -- the gender pay gap is a real issue. Um, and I have to say, you know, listening to it and having now worked at a lot of companies and hired a lot of people, there's no easy way to go about it. Um, you know, cause people have different experiences and how do you put a price tag on different, you know, um, backgrounds that they have or different companies they worked at or whatever the situation may be. And so it can get complicated unless you make it so simple that everyone is the same, or everyone at this level is exactly the same. And then I think transparency works. But to just lift up the curtain and be like, here's what every single person in the office makes, and now everyone knows --
ALLISON: Yeah, you got a mutiny on your hands.
JUSTIN: Absolutely. Congratulations to you for kind of tackling a lot of interesting topics through this podcast and the -- and like I said, it's called the intern and there's seven episodes?
JUSTIN: Eight episodes. And you know, there's a -- there's a few interesting topics. Another one is diversity in the workplace. Um, I think you did a great job tackling that difficult topic. And so, you know, it was really impressive to kind of follow you on your journey from, you walk in the first day, you don't know anyone, I loved when you talk about all the acronyms and secret codes everyone has, you talked about making a list. It brought me back to my first day on the job, where it sounds like everyone in the room is smarter than you, cause there's like, "The APS on the BOM, you know, on the LTD..." and you're just like, oh my gosh, these people are so smart. And you're writing them down and you don't know them. And about -- it's like you don't ever notice, but then 30 days later, all of a sudden, you're saying those acronyms, right? Did you have that experience?
ALLISON: Oh my gosh, I was um...I was talking to a radio producer friend of mine, and talking about this, you know, this company. And this was only a month or two into my time at BetaWorks. "Yeah, such and such company, they just raised their series A." And my friend goes --
JUSTIN: Yeah, what's that?
ALLISON: "What the fuck is a series A?"
JUSTIN: Yeah, yeah.
ALLISON: And I was like, oh, wow. I had no idea what that was either just a few months ago. But it just so easily seeps into -- into your language.
JUSTIN: Yeah. And it can work even on catch phrases when you're in the office. Like, there's certain catch phrases someone'll say something, and all of a sudden someone else says it, and then all of a sudden, everyone's saying, "Now we're cooking with grease." It's like, you know, who made that up? It's like, oh, I did. So I think you had a fantastic run there. Let me just leave this segment of How To Be An Intern with a last piece of advice from you. Looking back on your experience, looking back at joining this company, being new, um, thinking of someone who might be in a similar situation, is there anything you would do different, or any piece of advice that you'd be like, make sure to do this, or make sure not to do that?
ALLISON: I wish that maybe I would have like, owned the fact that I didn't know stuff, and -- and -- and eventually I started using that to my advantage. Like, my outsider perspective, I think, was valuable. And like, what made the podcast unique. But in the beginning I was just like, oh my gosh, I have to learn all the lingo, I need to think like these people think. I don't know. I -- I feel like I reflected every kind of passage of my life, like when I was a senior in high school I was like, Allison, why weren't you more competent as a freshman? Same thing in college. Like --
JUSTIN: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
ALLISON: Same thing in a -- in a first job. And it's like, looking back to the beginning of BetaWorks, I was the same person with the same drive and intelligence and ambition, but for some reason I didn't think I had it then. So just like, I don't know what it is.
JUSTIN: Well, they're -- well, they're all stepping stones.
ALLISON: Yeah, yeah.
JUSTIN: You know? And I think we're all finding our -- our way, getting different experiences so that we can be more confident or be better at whatever we do next. But --
ALLISON: Yeah. When you start something new, are you now like...
JUSTIN: Yeah, you know, it's interesting...
ALLISON: Starting at a higher place of confidence?
JUSTIN: It's interesting. Definitely. I mean, I was so shy as just someone growing up. Like, I never could talk to a girl, you know, for example. Like, I was just so shy. I'm painfully shy, I'm a little bit of an introvert. And I think over time, you go to college and you're crammed together with boys and girls, you have to talk to girls, whether you can or not. And you make a lot of mistakes. It's a safe place to make a mistake. And then you go to work, and for me, in fashion retail, it's 95 percent women. So okay, now I can start to build up my confidence and interactions, and now I'm probably more normal. But you know? Um...I'm just getting to the normal phase.
ALLISON: Just reaching...
JUSTIN: But no. It's -- it's hard to hold onto that confidence, um --
JUSTIN: -- in everything that you do. Um...but I think being able to acknowledge...cause you don't wanna get down on yourself. You don't wanna lose confidence. So for me it's about reminding myself, or when I have a new person join the team, I go out of my way to talk to them at least once a week in private and say, it's natural that you're gonna feel like you don't know what's going on. And it's natural that you're not gonna feel as confident as you did at that last company. This is the learning curve. And just give them permission to live in this uncertainty while they're building up their comfort and their confidence, I think, is really important. Because you go to a new job, 20:03you want to impress everyone. But guess what? Everyone else knows where the bathroom is. And everyone else knows how to work the coffee machine and you don't. We're all humans. And so if you start from there, I think uh, you can build those relationships faster. And you know, listening to you on the podcast, it sound like you -- you found your way into that. So...
ALLISON: Yeah, yeah. Eventually.
JUSTIN: Alright. Well -- well Allison, thanks for your advice on how to be an intern. Don't go anywhere, cause we've got a couple other segments. We wanna ask you some other questions.
Alright, and now a quick word from our sponsors. Today's show is brought to you by Forlorn Hope Wines. As always, I wanna give a shoutout to the winemaker, Matt Rorick. But I have exciting news today. They have launched a wine club. Go to forlornhopewines.com and click on the Wine Club button. You can subscribe for six bottles of wine, or 12 bottles of wine. And here's the thing: the wine club is all the exclusive stuff. It's all of Matt Rorick's secret, small-batch, not-for-sale anywhere else, not in restaurants, not available on the website. It's all the super crazy, exclusive, experimental stuff. So get on there. Use the Mr. Corpo discount: M-R-C-O-R-P-O. I don't know why I feel like I have to spell that but, Allison --
ALLISON: Can you spell the name of the company?
JUSTIN: Forlorn Hope? F-O-R-L-O-R-N, H-O-P-E, W-I-N-E. Was that a test cause I've had two beers?
ALLISON: That is correct.
JUSTIN: Okay. I win the spelling bee. Alright, okay, thanks.
JUSTIN: Alright everybody. It's time for the bonus section. Bonus section! Bonus section! Bonus section! Come on Allison! Bonus section! Bonus section! I love you! Bonus section. On today's bonus section, we're gonna talk about honesty is the best policy. When in doubt, tell the truth.
JUSTIN: There's a lot of positioning when you're in the workplace. There's a lot of, I wanna look good. I don't want someone to think I don't know something. I can't say this because politically it might be dangerous. And there may be a time and place for all those little games to be happening. But I just wanna come out and say it: honesty is the best policy. Now, you've heard me say before that I love this idea of efficiency through over-communication. And to me part of over-communication is being honest and taking the time to explain things. And I wanna use a few examples because I've got Allison here from the intern podcast. There's a few examples on your show, actually, Allison, when I was listening, and I thought wow, that got way more complicated and there were a lot of hurt feelings when there didn't have to be.
And one of these examples was, every week at BetaWorks they introduce the new employees. And everyone claps, and everyone's super exciting. And on the podcast, you talk about the first few weeks, they would say, are there any new people we need to introduce? And your boss wouldn't introduce you. And you didn't have any explanation. And this went on -- how long did this go on? Two weeks at least. How long?
ALLISON: Oh, I think like three or four weeks. Yeah.
JUSTIN: So, three or four weeks. Every week, they're saying, who's the new employee? Allison, every week, has worn her favorite outfit, knowing, this is my moment to shine, and no one calls your name. It's like this roller coaster of emotions. You think this is your moment, they're gonna say your name, and then they don't.
ALLISON: Yeah. Also, by this point, I'd introduced myself to half the office. So like, everyone would kinda look at me. Like, it'd be like, any new employees? And everyone would look at me and I'd be like...
JUSTIN: What are you supposed to do? You gotta raise your hand? Or --
JUSTIN: So anyway, it was interesting, I'm listening to you, and actually in the podcast, it -- you -- you explain, I -- I really appreciated your honesty in the podcast. It was one of the things that really made me connect with your story. But you know, it started to lead to some insecurities. It started to feel like, well, why aren't I getting introduced? Are they embarrassed of me? Have I done something wrong? Is it only real employees that make a lot of money that get introduced and interns are not worth anything? And so this goes on, and it's kinda left unresolved, and then I think it's a few months later that you kind of circle back with your boss and you say -- and, or I think he admitted to you, well, Allison, not everyone at the company knew I had hired you, and this job wasn't really clear, so I didn't -- that's why I didn't introduce you when you first started. And your reaction to that was, oh, okay, that makes sense, right?
ALLISON: Yeah, yeah.
JUSTIN: I mean, still some hurt feelings, but you know, I listened to that and I just thought, man, what a bozo. Why didn't he pull you aside and after that first meeting, 25:02say, hey, listen Allison, I'm super excited to have you here. But right now it's just a little bit touchy and not everyone knows you're -- you're hired. So I wanna fly below the radar and then we'll announce you a little bit later. Would that have made a difference in your experience?
ALLISON: To be totally frank, there's a lot of things that happened with The Intern, especially at the beginning, that I wasn't sure if were being like, played up for the drama of it all.
ALLISON: Cause I did, in a lot of ways, especially in the beginning, before I kinda had my grip on what was going on, felt very much like a guinea pig, myself. Especially cause I was being asked to document myself. And so everything that was happening in real time was potential events to be included in this serialized podcast that was my life, and experience. So I don't know. I have some questions that I think will probably never be resolved. Um, but yeah. I mean, to answer your question, it did make me feel like, am I a real intern here. But then, like, other interns were getting introduced. And then I was like, is it just that I'm this weird side project, and I'm not really part of the company, is that why?
JUSTIN: Yeah, yeah. No, I mean --
ALLISON: And then you just end up like, creating all these scenarios in your head, right?
JUSTIN: No, your mind can go crazy with the possibilities and -- and usually it's not in a good way, right?
ALLISON: No, no, never.
JUSTIN: It's not like delusions of grandeur. It's like, oh my gosh, well I wasn't very nice to him. I didn't like that photo of his kid the other day. I wonder if that's why he didn't introduce me. You know? But I -- but I think the point is, you know, this general philosophy of, when in doubt tell the truth, or honesty is the best policy, you know, it really comes down to you wanna treat each person like a human being. And you wanna let them know what's going on. And it may not be a big deal for James that he didn't introduce you and he has a reason in his head, but the fact that he wasn't able to just come to you and say honestly, here's why I didn't introduce you, it led to all these misgivings and these different feelings. And that's just the most simple, basic example. If you play that up into the workplace with actual stakes of, you know, my -- they -- they didn't call on me for this meeting, or they invited someone else instead of me. And you don't know why they did that. It can totally screw you up. And so I think, it's just as much for the boss in making sure that you're explaining decisions that you make, as it is for the employee. If you have doubts, you talked about when you start out at a new job, say that you don't understand something. Say that you don't know how to do something. No one's gonna hate you, and no one can look down on -- no one can ever hold it against you if you raise your hand and say, you know, what, I still don't understand this. Can we get some extra time to talk about it? And that's a lot better than faking it, not doing a good job, and then people going like, whoa, that Allison, you know, she's not that good at the Open-to-Buy meetings. And it's like, well, that's not fair.
JUSTIN: So that's the bonus section for the day. I just wanna encourage everyone, be honest, let's just be real.
JUSTIN: We're gonna move on to the Ask Mr. Corpo section. Now, Allison, you're a special guest, I wanna give you first right of refusal, if you wanna ask me something, or we'll go to the questions.
ALLISON: Oh, actually I -- I just thought of a question.
ALLISON: Have you ever received leadership or management training? Because I think maybe it was the case with me, and I think the case with others, we interpret interactions with our superiors, with our managers, as intentional. Where I think that my boss might not really know how to handle that either.
JUSTIN: No managers get any advice or any training, especially when they start out.
ALLISON: Right. And it's a -- and it's a startup, too. So like, there -- no one really has managers or any kind of training.
JUSTIN: Oh, forget it. There -- there -- and the problem is, everyone thinks they're smarter than they are. And it's like, often times what happens is, you're good at your job. So they promote you. And then guess what? You're promoted. Nothing has changed. No one's handed you a manual. No one's told you how do you interview people. No one said, what ha -- what do you do if your employee asks you for a raise? What do you do about X, Y, and Z. There is no manuals, and so actually I didn't plant this question, but I'm writing my new book, which is called How To Be A Boss.
ALLISON: There we go.
JUSTIN: And it's exactly that, which is to say, from soup to nuts, this is what it takes to be a good boss. And you know, there's a people side to that. There's a process side to that. But I think it just goes -- it's so crazy, it's like handing you the keys to the Ferrari and being like, good luck. And it's really unfair. Now, to be specific, to answer your question, I did get a management training once I -- I think I was a vice president.
ALLISON: Uh huh.
JUSTIN: And basically, I was super high flyer, I'm just like yeah, everything's going fast, I'm super smart, I'm gonna like do a really good job. And it turned out I was not that good of a boss. And I think the company kind of realized it to say, the guy's smart, but he doesn't have the first clue how to be a boss. They sent me to a three-day training down in San Diego. It was life-altering. Um, and so that was one of my experiences. It was the first time where you sit and talk about the interaction of employee and boss. And so I learned a lot from that. And then maybe it was a year 30:01 later, I had an absolutely horrible interaction with an employee, I was trying to fire her, the company didn't want to fire her, it was just kinda went around in a circle, and basically they came back and said, you need an executive coach. And executive coaches are totally different than managerial coaches. Cause executive coaches, it's one-on-one. And they basically just psychoanalyze you. And then they're there. And I remember this coach would teach me -- she said I wasn't a good listener and it was about body language, and did -- was I paying enough attention? And she told me to always picture that myself and the person I'm talking to were in a bubble together. So if we're at work, if you're talking to me, I have to imagine we're in a bubble together, and only you and I exist in this conversation.
ALLISON: Isn't that the best feeling though, when you're talking to someone and they're treating you as if you are the only person in the room --
JUSTIN: Yes, oh my gosh.
ALLISON: Even those there's a million other people in there, right?
JUSTIN: Eye contact...not interrupting anyone. Like I'm doing now. If you think I'm bad now, I used to be even worse. This is the best version of me. But absolutely. I mean, being a great listener, I think it's something, actually, that I've gotten a lot better at, and -- and you just appreciate in people. I do wanna follow up on one other angle on the Ask Mr. Corpo, which is: last week on the show, I gave advice whether you should send thank you notes or thank you emails after you interview at a company or not. I told everyone unequivocally, under no circumstances, do not send a thank you note. And I feel 100 percent confident on this, but the feedback has been overwhelming. People are shocked.
ALLISON: That's what I thought.
JUSTIN: People are surprised. And they don't believe me. And the truth is, I want everyone to know, I have credibility on this topic. In fact, I started a -- a online startup tech company with the express purpose of sending thank you notes. That's what we did as a company. We sent handwritten thank you notes to other people. So I am a proponent of good manners. My mom always says, when you go eat dinner at someone's house, I do send a postcard thank you. I'm always writing to people. I do believe in the written word. I do believe in good manners. But I wanna go back to what I said in the episode. And remember, if you read my book, How To Write An Email, you don't wanna waste people's time with email. You want it to be effective. So Allison, let me tell you. If I've just interviewed you and you send me an email that says, "Justin, thank you for interviewing me. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah," what am I supposed to do with that? Like, I don't -- there's nothing good I can reply with.
ALLISON: But I'm not expecting a response.
JUSTIN: Really, you're not?
ALLISON: Yeah, no. When you send a thank you note in the mail for a gift that your aunt gave you, you're not expecting her to be like, "Thank you for your thank you note."
JUSTIN: Well, actually I kinda am.
JUSTIN: When I send thank you notes, I like people to kind of acknowledge me and be like, either snap a picture of it --
ALLISON: Well, now you're just looking for affirmation.
JUSTIN: Snap a picture of it or to call me and say, "Hey Justin, thanks for the thank you note." Is that too much?
ALLISON: Why -- that begs the question, why are you sending thank you notes, then, Justin?
JUSTIN: Because I want to acknowledge their effort. And then I would like them to acknowledge my effort. Is that wrong?
ALLISON: Thank you for the thank you note to the thank you note.
JUSTIN: It's just like, you know, common courtesy I thought. But -- but the point is, I get this email, and it says Justin thank you for interviewing me. And like I said last week, I don't know what to do with that. You've put me in an awkward position and now I think less of you. Cause it's awkward.
ALLISON: Well, okay. Here's my question. Like, everyone's different, right? To me there's a greater risk of not thanking someone who loves to be thanked than thanking someone who doesn't really like being thanked.
JUSTIN: Wow, that is well said, Allison. And I'm still gonna say I like my idea better than yours, but I'm not gonna say you're wrong. But -- but the truth is, we have hundreds or thousands of interactions with other human beings every day, and we don't write a thank you note for every single interaction with them. If someone does something, if you run into someone and you say, hey, thanks for talking to me at the bus stop today, there's a million things that we do that don't, in the social norms, command that you need to send an email or say a thank you. And my argument would be, and you've actually challenged me to -- to rethink this a little bit, I'm gonna ask some other people in my work life and I'll come back one more time to talk about this, but --
ALLISON: This is a contentious topic.
JUSTIN: Do other people expect thank you notes or not? For me, it -- it could not be more clear that it's creating awkwardness. But you've challenged me, so I accept the challenge.
ALLISON: Well, here's another interesting question. At what point did the social norms around this change, right? Cause you read like any book about this, it's like, you follow up with a thank you.
JUSTIN: You read books about sending thank you notes after an interview? What kind of books are these? You're so boring.
ALLISON: Don't start snoring on me. Um, no but like the com -- the common --
JUSTIN: Oh, you're talking to your grandpa too much, maybe. That's what it --
ALLISON: Retake, retake. The common...(laughs)...see, what you guys don't know out there is that they gave me free beer. So I'm having a little bit of trouble.
JUSTIN: 35:02 That's right. Actually, Allison, you bring me to my next point...um, which is all the listeners out there, you may have noticed that the episode sounds different. Maybe the sound quality is a little bit crisper? Listen when I clap. (claps) There's no echo! Guess what? We've worked out a deal with this incredible company called Neuehouse. It's a shared --
ALLISON: Oh, I thought it was Neuehouse.
JUSTIN: Is it Neuehouse? They haven't told me. I say Noy-house. Okay. Noy-house or Neuehouse --
ROB: Hey, just give me one solid, like, Neue and Noy. And then I'll research it.
JUSTIN: Well, no actually, this is part of the episode, is us just talking through it but you seem to be insistent upon being the interruption monster today. So whether it's Noy-house or Neuehouse, it's spelled N-E-U-E. I would say, "noy". We are recording in their sound booth. And it's an incredible place where creative entrepreneurs come to work. In fact, I have an actual script that they've instructed me to read. So now, let me read it. We are here at Neuehouse, and Neuehouse is a private workspace and cultural center for creative entrepreneurs in film, design, fashion branding, architecture, and the arts. It's actually an incredible space. I liken it to the Rolls Royce of working environments. And so the reason we got on this topic is because they gave us some free beer to make the episode go faster, or smoother, or whatever the case may be. So thank you to Neuehouse, or --
ALLISON: Neuehouse was my read of it.
JUSTIN: Okay. Either way, uh, we'll get it right next time. So enjoy this echo-proof chamber, chamber, chamber. Alright, Rob's giving me the evil eye. We'll, uh, we'll take off from here. Hit me on the social channels. I'm at Instagram at JDKJDKJDKJDK. I'm on Twitter at Mr_Corpo. Or as always, send me an email for your anonymous questions that I'll answer on the show. That's email@example.com. And actually, before we go, Allison, where can people find you on the social networks?
ALLISON: Sure. So um, my Twitter is AlBTweetin. That's A-L-B-T-W-E-E-T-I-N. Instagram, ALB1919. And if you wanna listen to The Intern, you can go to iTunes, Overcast. Or if you listen to SoundCloud, wherever you listen to podcasts, and find it there. The Intern.
JUSTIN: And also we didn't ask you, what's next. You've moved on from The Intern, you've got riches and famous from that, what's next?
ALLISON: I'm working on a new show.
JUSTIN: Really? Is this breaking news?
ALLISON: Um, no. It will be soon, when it's ready. I mean, when it's ready, yeah.
JUSTIN: Well, yeah, so it's breaking news that you're working on it.
ALLISON: Yeah, I guess so.
JUSTIN: Okay, alright cool. What do we have to expect from it? Is it gonna be work based, like your adventures of Allison based?
ALLISON: No, no. It's um...
JUSTIN: Fireside with your grandpa, what is it?
ALLISON: That would be good.
JUSTIN: He had a great radio voice, by the way.
ALLISON: So good.
JUSTIN: Great radio voice.
ALLISON: So, oh my gosh, he hammed it up so much, too.
JUSTIN: Well, we look forward to catching whatever you do next, you did a great job with The Intern, I hope everybody goes and checks that out. It's a great listen, eight episodes, it goes quickly, and you learn a lot about work and -- and what's happening out there in New York City in this tech startup, you know, entrepreneurial, VC world. It's very white. It's very male. And it's very boring. But Allison makes it amazing. Alright, and Rob, thanks for another great episode. See you next week.