Straight Talk Radio

Randy Pennington Interview with Chuck Gallagher – Straight Talk Radio

Randy Pennington knows a thing or two about change.  In times of great change – like right now – the challenge many people face is “Make Change Work” and my guest today on Straight Talk Radio is a master of that…in fact he wrote the book on that subject.

Randy PenningtonHere’s the link to the audio podcast of the show:  Randy Pennington on Straight Talk Radio

Below is the transcription of the show!


Tired of traditional talk? People pontificating about this or that? The left or the right? Sometimes the truth is just off lost in the noise. Having learned life lessons the hard way, Chuck Gallagher, international speaker and author, cuts through the noise to share truth through transparency!

Nationally-known guests talk about what’s important to you – your life, your concerns and your success. So tune in, turn on to Straight Talk with Chuck Gallagher.

Now, here’s your host, Chuck Gallagher.

CHUCK: Welcome to Straight Talk Radio. This is Chuck Gallagher and if you’re a regular listener to our show, you know we’re here to discuss issues and ideas that can transform your life. Today we’ve got a great show lined up for you.

Every choice has a consequence. Let me repeat, every choice we make has some sort of consequence. Now, if we make bad choices, well, the consequences will be, let’s say, less than desirable. I know, I’ve made some pretty poor choices in life and the outcome, let’s put it this way, the outcome wasn’t fun. But the opposite is also true; if you make positive, empowering choices in life, you will find that the outcome can be awesome. I, too, have lived that.

So I guess it’s safe to say here on Straight Talk Radio that I know a thing or two about choices and consequences. My guest today is also a master of choices in change. From my perspective, we’re all faced with change daily, and in order to make change work, we need to make choices that move us in that direction. Make Change Work is the title of a new book by international speaker and author and consultant and my guest today, Mr. Randy Pennington.

Randy is an in-demand speaker and author from coast to coast and beyond and he’s in demand for his unique insight into making change work in a society, although it’s bombarded with change daily. He’s also the author of some outstanding books like Results Rule! and On My Honor, I Will. Randy’s personal work experience has taken him from a locker room attendant in a municipal swimming pool to consulting in the boardrooms of corporate America. To help us figure out how to make change work, let’s welcome Randy Pennington. Randy, it is great to have you on the show.

RANDY: Oh, it’s my pleasure, Chuck, thanks for having me. It’s a treat to be with you today.

CHUCK: I’m so excited to have you on the show. I really would love to start the conversation about your book Make Change Work. You state, “The biggest challenge most businesses face is staying nimble and relevant in a world that is constantly changing.” So, Randy, why don’t we start off by telling me your motivation to write this book?

RANDY: One of those things that, Chuck, you mentioned, I do a lot of consulting as well as speaking and that’s absolutely true. One of the things that I see, especially in my consulting clients, is the marketplace is changing. If you’ve had success in the past, then you know what used to work. There’s a saying that we tell people, “The past success proves that you were right once,” and that’s because the expectations are changing. The customers are changing, the competition is changing, the economic world is changing. Certainly the political world is changing, and all those things affect who you are. Of all the things that it takes to be successful, the only thing you can control is what you do. Everything that affects your business and everything that affects your life, and it goes back to your choice, the only thing that you can control is what you do.

For most people, they do what they’ve always done and as Zig Ziglar used to say, “When you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always got,” and that’s not going to work for a lot of folks today. Not only in their business, but you start thinking about what it takes to survive today, what it takes to thrive today. You have to constantly be changing all the time. As you were talking, Chuck, I thought back, one of the things that my wife told me very early on in our relationship once we got serious with each other, and we’ve been married now 26 years, she said, “Randy, I’ll never ask you to change,” and then she went on to say, “But I do expect that you’ll continually adapt.”

CHUCK: Oooh, I like that!

RANDY: And that’s sort of what the expectation is for each and every one of us today if we’re going to continue to stay relevant in the marketplace, if we’re going to continue to stay relevant in a relationship, we’re going to continue to stay relevant in our communities, we have to continually adapt to all the forces that come to us.

CHUCK: Randy, it hit me as you were talking, you mentioned Zig Ziglar, “Do what you’ve always done and get what you’ve always got.” Honest to goodness, I understand the spirit in which that statement is made, but I’m also seeing that today, Gosh, there are a lot of people that you meet on the street sort to speak that would say, “Gosh, if I just keep doing what I’ve done, I’ll get what I’ve had,” and yet, the reality is I’m not so sure that that is as true today as it was because if the world changes… Let’s put it this way, change it for a second, if I’m a postman and I’ve delivered the mail for the past 20 years, the fact is just the idea of people sending letters and using the postal service has so dramatically changed, I’m not sure that that person can still do what they’ve done and expect to get what they’ve gotten because you have to adapt so differently.

RANDY: You’re exactly right as you said that and you made a great point. The challenge that we have today is that a lot of the things you’re right. We won’t be able to get what we’ve always got because you came from a choice standpoint, from a success standpoint, but there are many things in our life that are completely out of control, like you said, except our ability to adapt to them. I took some flack back a couple of years ago when the economy went bad after 2008 because people kept asking me, “When will things return to normal?” and my response to them was, “What if this is it? What if this is normal?” Many of the jobs that were lost when the economic meltdown happened are never coming back.

CHUCK: Right.

RANDY: There are jobs right now that are in danger of becoming extinct. One of the things, Chuck, you see in my book Make Change Work, one of the things you see on the cover is an upside-down dodo bird.

CHUCK: Yeah, I wanted to ask you about that. What’s the deal with that?

RANDY: I’m glad you noticed it was a dodo bird. One guy was an interview and he said, “What’s up with the dead, upside-down chicken on your book cover?”

[Chuck laughs]

RANDY: But the dodo bird became extinct within 100 years after its first contact with humans.

CHUCK: Really?

RANDY: It was found on the island of Mauritius and once the sailors came ashore, the dodo bird had been living in an environment where it was absolutely suited for success. It had no natural predators, it had lost or abandoned its ability to fly, so it lost its ability to fly. It had become, as the old saying, fat, dumb and happy. So when the sailors came ashore, the dodo, being a very curious bird with no natural predators, just walked right up to the sailors to check them out. Of course, sailors having been on the boat for months and months and months saw basically a 3-foot high 45-, 50-pound bird walking toward them. It’s pretty safe to understand what they did next.

CHUCK: Yeah! Big chicken dinner.

RANDY: Yeah, but interestingly enough, though, you would think, ”They just stopped walking toward them.” It wasn’t the sailors that did the dodo bird in because, as it turns out, dodo meat is somewhat tough, but what did diminish the secondary, the unintended consequences, and isn’t that the way it happens very often in life, the unintended consequences of those secondary things really get us. While the sailors didn’t like dodo meat, the fact that the birds lay their eggs on the ground was perfect for the hogs and rats and the feral cat and dogs, and what have you, that came off the ship. And the dodo was literally wiped out in less than 100 years because it could not change quick enough to survive.

When you look at a lot of jobs today, you mentioned postal work, you’re exactly right. Postal workers are not a dodo bird yet, but I think they aren’t too far away from being on the endangered species list. When you look at a lot of other jobs, you’ll find jobs that are on the endangered species list. Certainly, you find companies that just no longer are relevant in the market place and one of the best examples right now is Blockbuster video versus Netflix.

CHUCK: Right.

RANDY: Netflix did away with the need for Blockbuster. Why do I have to go up and fight with the guy about when I return the DVD or even a VHS tape when all I have to do is go to my computer, go to my television or go to my set box and stream something live any time that I want? So, the technology is driving change, society is driving change eventually, certainly political decisions are driving change. If you can’t adapt, you are destined to become like the dodo bird – extinct.

CHUCK: Randy, before we close out this segment of the show, I need to ask this question. You use a lot of business examples in the book. Yet, I get the clear impression that the principles that apply to work or business also to apply to, we’ll call it, work in your personal life. Did you really intend the book to work on both fronts?

RANDY: Absolutely. In fact, one of the thing is there are a lot of business examples, but there are a lot of personal examples in the book as well. I’m a very firm believer that we try to separate work, and life at work, and life away from work and so forth, I think there’s just life. Life is experience wherever you are and the things that make sense about getting a group to change at work also makes sense about getting yourself to change if you’re trying to develop a healthier lifestyle or getting a family dynamic to change. The principles are always the same.

CHUCK: Well, my guest today here on Straight Talk Radio is Randy Pennington and we have been talking about his new book Make Change Work and as soon as we take a quick break here on Straight Talk Radio, we’ll be back with Randy because I know that there’s a whole lot more to this discussion. Join me in just a minute.

[Commercial break]

CHUCK: This is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio and I am here with my friend Randy Pennington. Randy has written an incredible book that I really think people need to consider whenever you’re thinking about a change, when you’re thinking about what happens in life. The title of his book is Make Change Work and if you’re interested in a copy of the book, you can find it certainly at More than likely you can find it at Barnes & Noble if you walk in the store and certainly if you go to his website,

Randy and I were talking a little bit about change and how this works not only in business but in personal life. Randy, I think we live, but I guess there’s a feeling in business on the end of the personal front that the pace of change has sped up. Does that seem really true to you? I mean, what does that mean for people today?

RANDY: The pace of change has sped up. If you look at technology for example, there’s a principle in technology, Chuck, that talked about the fact that the power of a microprocessor was Morse law. The power of microprocessor doubles every 18-24 months. Remember hearing [14:14]for years?

CHUCK: Right. Absolutely.

RANDY: My very first personal computer I bought, it was a smoking hot computer. It was the hottest thing on the marketplace. It was the suped-up Ford Mustang or the Corvette of computers. It was a 286 processor with a 40-megabyte hard drive and I just [14:42] to somebody today it was larger than the entire hard drive that I had.

[Chuck laughs]

RANDY: It cost about $2,000 and two years later I bought another machine. It was smoking hot and it was a 486 processor and it cost about $2,000 and that kind of went on and on and on. Well, now the pace of change is much, much quicker, but it’s the compound effect that makes a difference. This has continued to double and now what seemed like a very small change because things have continued the compound effect, one more change becomes dramatic. Doubling becomes dramatic so think of it this way. There’s an old French children’s sort of rhyme story/puzzle kind of thing that says this, “Imagine that there’s one lily pad in a pond today. And the number of lily pads doubles every day. On what day is the pond half full?”


RANDY: The answer is, let me go back and say, if it doubles, in one month it’s completely full. Okay?


RANDY: In 30 days it’s completely full. On what day is it half full? And the answer is day 29.

CHUCK: That’s right!

RANDY: If it’s doubling every day and on day 30 it’s completely full, day 29 it was half full. When you start looking at the compound effect of change, it’s like we’re living in day 29.


RANDY: Because it’s moving, because the compound effect, now you add a different factor, it says, “Okay, we used to compete from a business standpoint.” If you were a business person in North America, you competed with business people in North America.

CHUCK: Right.

RANDY: Now, because of technology… Remember they told us technology was supposed to allow us to slow down and work less?

CHUCK: Right.

RANDY: Yes, that hasn’t happened for me. I’m not sure about you.

[Chuck laughs]

CHUCK: Not at all.

RANDY: See, now what’s happened is that the pace has changed so you have more people with moving at faster rates of change in a continuous environment. What my corporate clients tell me is that they start a change in their company, they implement a new process, or a new program, or a new initiative and before that one is done, they’re starting another one. In fact, in some cases before that one is done, before it’s ever completed, it’s abandoned because it’s no longer relevant.

CHUCK: Right.

RANDY: Things are moving that quickly. As a result, all of us feel like we’re running as far and as fast as we can, and yet we’re still being asked to run faster and further.

CHUCK: Yeah and, Randy, no.1, I don’t [18:06] up with this, I don’t really mind change. I think it’s kind of fun and I think maybe there are some of us that are wired that way, but I have to admit, I wonder how folks will keep up.

As an example, I walked into Walmart the other day and literally I just looked around and the question that was in my mind was, “What would happen if most folks found out that their job had been replaced with technology? Or if they had lost their job?” And the question is, “What would folks do?” I looked around, and I’m not saying this is a judgmental thing, it could be Walmart or it could be any store in the mall, or wherever it happens to be where people are gathered, but it seems that in many cases people are truly unprepared for the inevitability of change that’s coming. And it’s going to be dramatic!

RANDY: Let me go back to one of the examples. I wrote in my book, Make Change Work, “This is how fast things change.” At the time that I wrote, the State of Nevada had just approved legislation that allowed driverless vehicles on the road.

CHUCK: Right.

RANDY: So, at the time that was a big thing. That was the new thing and immediately I thought of, “Wow, okay, so now what happens when there are driverless vehicles on the road?” Couple that with, there’s a little robot that’s been introduced in the marketplace in the last year, called Baxter. The thing about Baxter is that Baxter has little eyes on its head so that humans can feel more comfortable in interacting with him. You can train Baxter to do anything. You take its arms and its legs and you move him and Baxter can learn a [20:00] task. The cool part is he costs less than $25,000.

CHUCK: Um-hm.

RANDY: Now, what happens when you’ve got Baxter in a driverless vehicle? Forget about Walmart, what happens when you work for UPS? What happens when you work for FedEx? You think that’s going to change? And I thought, “That’s going to completely change an industry.”

CHUCK: Absolutely.

RANDY: Yeah. Then I turned on the TV and found out that, “Pennington, you’re late to the game because you’re thinking about robots and trucks and Amazon’s flying [20:38].”

CHUCK: Right.

RANDY: So, you’re right. Technology is going to change everything and here’s the part that we as humans have to get over, and we’ve never really done it successfully yet, is that technology is going to continue to go and the thought always was, “When technology happens, it will allow us to have more leisure time. It will allow us to learn new things. It will allow us to be more productive,” and for some people that’s true, but for most people it’s not. For most people, because they have stopped learning, it goes back to that thing, you have to stay relevant, you have to stay nimble, you have to stay engaged, and once we stop learning and get excited about that, then all of a sudden when the world changes around us, we’re like the dodo bird, we don’t know it’s coming and we are completely unable to adapt because we have no skill set.

Let’s go back to something I mentioned in the first segment. Many of the jobs that we lost in America or knowing to never come back and the reason they’re never going to come back is because, 1) They’re being done by technology, or 2) They’re being done in another part of the world. The tragic part of that is, and this goes back to your very first comment, choices have consequences. We’ve made choices for years and years and years that say, “We’re educating for jobs that exist today as opposed to educating for jobs that will exist in the future.” Many the people that you’re seeing, quite frankly, Chuck, they don’t know that it’s coming because they’ve never slowed down. They’ve never slowed down or never taken the time to look.

CHUCK: Yeah, and, Randy, it’s a tough situation because I look at it and I think to myself, because you mentioned driverless cars, which I’m fascinated by, but I look at my little granddaughter that I spent time with over this past weekend in a rainy, cold environment, and as we were sitting around and it occurred to me that by the time she’s ready to drive or licensed to drive, the reality of a driverless car will be pretty normal. To me it’s kind of like when a horse and buggies were out and everybody knew how to ride a horse because that’s how you got from point A to point B. Then a car is introduced and eventually there’s a whole segment of people who fundamentally don’t know how to ride a horse. I don’t! I mean, if I did, it would be somebody putting me up there and I have no idea how to control it because it isn’t relevant and soon driving a car won’t be a relevant thing to an average person because why not let technology do that? You can spend your time in the car doing something that is more productive or fun or exciting. And that will be the new generation’s joy that is going to be dramatic for those folks like you who I tend to fall into that baby boomer category.

RANDY: Well, we can thank technology for that. And as going back to human beings making change work, there was a time when that wouldn’t be considered a real difficult challenge because we baby boomers would be nearing the end of our lives at this point. You didn’t use to live that long. Some of the research says that within the next 100 years or probably less, it is feasible to assume that the average life span is close to 100 years old.

CHUCK: Right, absolutely.

RANDY: And now what are you going to do? Now how do you stay productive? It comes back to, if you can’t figure out how to change, as my wife said, “You don’t have to change, you have to continually adapt,” if you can’t do that, it’s not going to be a great life for you.

CHUCK: My guest is Randy Pennington and I am Chuck Gallagher. Here on Straight Talk Radio we’ve been talking about his new book, Make Change Work, and you’re going to want to stay with us through the break because when we come back, Randy is going to talk about some practical applications of things that we can look at in terms of making change work for us. So stick with us here on Straight Talk Radio.

[Commercial break]

CHUCK: My guest today on Straight Talk Radio is Randy Pennington and, Randy, I have to share a brief personal note. Randy talks about the importance of relationships. I doubt, Randy, you’ll remember this, but my first national Speakers Association North Texas meeting, that was 2007 in Dallas, Texas, I knew of you and when I went into the meeting, I asked someone I met to confirm that you were in the meeting. I saw you standing back talking with someone and I thought that was who you were and they confirmed it. Not being a particularly shy person, I made my way to you and introduced myself and not knowing what to expect from a person with your background and success, you stood and talked with me for quite a while, encouraging me to pursue my passion. And, Randy, I want to tell you, on a personal level, that’s something I will never forget.

RANDY: Well, you’re very kind. I do remember that because I remember you doing a piece of your presentation and I was just very impressed not only with your passion, Chuck, but also with the way you’ve crafted the story together and it takes a lot of courage to stand up in front of audiences and lay yourself wide open like you do. From a straight talk perspective, and simply say, “Hey, folks, there are some days that… I’m going to tell you about a time when I screwed up,” and that takes a great deal of courage and I admire you for that.

CHUCK: I appreciate it and, Randy, your kindness is the kind of thing that I have found from so many people and so many guests that I’ve had on this show. Folks, we are here with Straight Talk Radio talking with Randy Pennington about his new book Make Change Work and I want to remind you that you probably should pick up a copy of this book. It is a great book. You can buy it from Amazon. Pick it up from a bookstore near you or visit Randy’s website, for more information.

Randy, I want to go back to something that I thought was a fun conversation. In the very first segment we were talking about the cover of your book and the fact that you have this upside-down dodo bird, which I first looked at and thought was a duck until I looked at more carefully. I thought, “That’s odd.” You’ve got a chapter in the book entitled “Dodos and Coyotes”. We know that the dodo went extinct, but what’s the coyote representative of?

RANDY: Well, Chuck, the coYOte is probably the most, or the COyote, depending on which part of the country you’re living in, for those of us living in Texas, like I do, it’s a coYOte. The coyote is the most probably nimble animal around today so let me give you some history to put that into a perspective. Coyotes are native to the desert Southwest and now they exist literally from coast to coast as far north as Alaska, as far south as Central America. They live certainly in the desert, but they live in the mountains, they live in forests. They especially live in urban environments. The research has suggested that there may be as many as 2,000 of them living in urban Chicago.


RANDY: In the city [28:51]. I think it’s like 37 states have placed bounties on its head and it continues to grow, and its population continues to expand its reach, and it continues to flourish unlike most animals that never make that transition to living in a world where humans dominate. The coyote has figured out how to do it and how to thrive at it.

CHUCK: Well, I have to tell you, I believe that and I am shocked. My personal coyote story, which is a very sad one, is I lived in South Lake, Texas, from 2005 to 2008. That’s the time I had the opportunity to meet you personally. We had several cats. They were inside and outside cats, they went back and forth and, of course, in Texas everybody seems to have a fence, and this was a highly populated area. Some time in 2008 one of the neighbors came in and said, “I think you might have lost one of your cats to a coyote and sure enough, coyote would have gotten a cat,” and I am sitting there thinking to myself, “How in the world is that possible when you’re living in a neighborhood where there’s children playing everywhere and houses stacked with fences separating, and that’s about the extent of it, how in the world would you ever find a coyote?” but sure enough, apparently they were pretty prevalent.

RANDY: Well, they are very prevalent and the thing is, this is one of the things that makes coyotes extremely adaptable, is they are so good at hiding. They will see you long before you see them, and you won’t see them, a human won’t see them, unless they want you to. In fact, coyotes have become so adaptable, this is amazing when I’ve read this, that they will actually walk on their tiptoes to keep from being heard.

CHUCK: Wow! Oh, my goodness. Now, for those that are listening, let me just break this for a second. For those folks that are listening to this radio show, this is not a show about animals as such. The whole purpose of the discussion of the coyote as compared to the dodo bird is to talk about adaptability to change.

RANDY: That’s exactly right and there are certain things that make the coyote extremely adaptable. One of it is the fact that it is somewhat paranoid. [chuckles] I guess you would say it from a human being perspective. Andy Grove, head of Intel, said in the book, “Only the paranoid survive,” but they are deeply suspicious. But most importantly, they are completely purpose-driven and mission-focused.

CHUCK: Right.

RANDY: They don’t think about what happens or what doesn’t happen. They simple think about, “Today I need to eat. How do I do that? What do I have to do to get what I need to be done?” They just simply do it, they don’t worry about thinking about the change. They focus completely on the goal.

CHUCK: Hmm, that’s interesting. They’re not focused on the change, they’re focused on the goal. Okay, so let’s say, Randy, that I’m a business owner, a business executive, a manager in an organization or a team leader. It could be any of those. What do I have to do to get people that I lead to change as quickly as I need for them to so we can remain competitive?

RANDY: One of the things, Chuck, that you have to do is start talking about change all the time. Not about change for the sake of change but you always have to focus it on from a customer perspective, from an operations perspective, from a sales perspective, what’s going on in their business? Where do we have to go next? And then you continually talk about where it is you want to go with your business, why it’s important that people continually adapt to get there. I almost wouldn’t even talk about change. I would talk about what are we trying to pursuit?

So think of it this way. You said you spent time with your granddaughter. Was it granddaughter this weekend?

CHUCK: Granddaughter, yes.

RANDY: Okay, so remember a time when you were the parent of a 2-year old.

CHUCK: Okay.

RANDY: And your 2-year old son or daughter walks into your kitchen today and sees the ultimate prize on top of your refrigerator. It’s a jar of double-stuffed Oreo cookies.

[Chuck laughs]

RANDY: What’s immediately going through that child’s mind at that point?

CHUCK: They want the cookie!

RANDY: They are simply focused on the cookies. Do you have to tell that child, “Hey, think outside the box?”

CHUCK: Oh, no.

RANDY: “Try new ideas. I need you to change your approach.” No, all you have to do is focus on the cookies and the change naturally happens. Now, let’s look at the other side. Do you have that same problem if there’s like Brussels sprouts up there?

CHUCK:[laughs] I doubt that they consider that a prize so they’re probably not focused on the goal, absolutely.

RANDY: Right. So here’s the question for a business today, “What’s on top of your refrigerator?”

CHUCK: Ooo, I like that. That’s a great question.

RANDY: If it’s Oreo cookies, we get it. If it’s Brussels sprouts, we don’t. It’s the same for us as individuals. Every single day if you wake up saying, “What’s on top of my refrigerator? How do I get that? What is it that would be so exciting, that would be so cool, that would be so much fun, that would be so rewarding to your relationships, to your personal life and to your success, that you would work every single day to try whatever you can to get there?” That’s what the coyote does! It’s so focused on survival, it’s so focused on raising its pack. It’s focused on doing those essential things, and it doesn’t worry about the change. It doesn’t say, “Gee, today there are no squirrels to eat so I don’t know, what do I do? I guess I’ll starve.” It says, “There are no squirrels to eat so I find a trash.”

CHUCK: “I’ll find something else.” Right, absolutely.

RANDY: “I’ll find something else because at the end of the day, my purpose is to eat. And I think there’s something that we as humans, and certainly there’s something as organizations, and to me it comes back with that fundamental question of, “What’s on top of your refrigerator?”

CHUCK: That’s fascinating because as you said that that makes so much sense, if the right thing or the thing that you are passionate about is on top of your refrigerator, you’re absolutely right. You’ll figure out how to get there. I guess all too often, the unfortunate thing is people quit looking on the top of the refrigerator or have the wrong thing there and therefore, the motivation isn’t there for them to deal with or make change work in their life.

RANDY: You’re exactly right. There’s no reason why they even should bother.

CHUCK: Fascinating, fascinating. Okay, look, we’ve got a really short period of time and we may have to come back after the break with this, but you’ve got a word in your book, and I think it’s pronounced spineating.

RANDY: Absolutely.

CHUCK: What is that? Sorry, Randy, I’m hearing the music that says, “Gosh, we got to go to break.” So let’s do this, we’re going to come back to the question. You’ve got a word in your book called ‘spineating’, we’re going to come back and answer that question so stick with us on the break here. This is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio. My guest is Randy Pennington who has written a great new book, Make Change Work. Hang with us through the short break and we’ll be back to talk with Randy and we’ll talk about ‘spineating’.

[Commercial break]

CHUCK: My guest today on Straight Talk Radio is Randy Pennington. I’m going to recommend you pick up a book by my friend, Randy Pennington, and the name of the book is Make Change Work. You can find this book on, you can pick it up in a book store near you or find it on Randy’s website,

Randy, we were talking right before the break, and I had to ask you this question, then the music cut in, so let’s go right back to it. You’ve got a word in the book, which is I think pronounced or at least I assume, spineating. What does that mean?

RANDY: ‘Spineating’ is a word, Chuck, that I picked up from one of my graduate school professors, a guy named Dr. Merlon Dye. He said, “Human beings are guilty of spineating.” And here’s what he meant. He said, “What’s supposed to happen and if you imagine, and this is a very rudimentary explanation, but, if you imagine that something strikes a nerve and then it goes up through the nerve, it hits the spinal column, it’s supposed to hit the spinal column and go up through the brain to be processed before we respond to it.”

CHUCK: Okay.

RANDY: Then we respond how we respond, but it’s filtered through the brain. Unfortunately, what a lot of humans do, though, is something hits, the stimulus goes up there and it travels up the spinal column to a point that’s about parallel to the mouth and then just goes straight out the mouth instead of going through the brain.

CHUCK:[laughs] Oh, I’ve seen that before. I’ve done that before.

RANDY: I think he calls it ‘spineating’ and he said, and I think it’s a wonderful word, and he said, “What ends up happening, though, is that when we don’t stop and think about things, then we find ourselves in this unproductive stimulus-response loop.” We have a stimulus and we respond, we have a stimulus and we respond.

CHUCK: Right.

RANDY: I will go back to your very first premise because it’s so powerful; choices have consequences. The way we break that down, the way we break that loop is to make sure that that response is being filtered through the brain, to our brain of choice as opposed to habit.

CHUCK: Oh, that is powerful. Randy, that is so powerful. You can almost do a whole show on that concept and I see that so often. Obviously, I talk about ethics and choices and consequences and the unfortunate side of doing what I do is you tend to find a lot of people who are examples of unethical choices as I was in the past. And the reality is, most of the time, it’s because of spineating, because something happens, there’s a stimulus, you immediately act, you don’t think about it, you don’t think about the choice and the consequence that follows, and the next thing you know, you’re in the midst of a very unpleasant consequence.

RANDY: And that’s exactly what happens. The consequence in some cases can be a poor ethical choice, as you talk about, or sometimes things happen. You think about bad choices and sometimes, you said in the opening, you get choices that are good and choices that are bad. It wasn’t a bad ethical choice, but it was the night that I walked away from a charitable auction owning an Arabian horse.

CHUCK:[laughs] Okay.

RANDY: You know, it’s not an unethical choice, but it was certainly a bad one. You mentioned one of my other books. It’s a book called On My Honor, I Will and in that book I use something we call the ethics litmus test. There are six questions that people can ask themselves and I think there’s some application to every choice that we make. One of the questions is, “How would the person you would like to be respond to make this choice? Think of a person that you would like to be and pick a point, five years from now. Would that person you would want to be make this choice?”

The other one is, “Where will this choice lead you?” As we talked about with the dodo bird, it wasn’t the fact that the dodo bird got killed by the sailors, it was, obviously, dodos didn’t have a choice about where they lay their eggs at that point. It’s a mindless thought, but if they had a choice, would they have chosen something different?” And it’s [42:26] lead you. What are the unintended consequences? What are those secondary consequences?

I think, when you’re talking about ethical choice or a change choice, or a choice about what you eat for dinner tonight – all those things, we got to go back to that, choice has consequences. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. At least filter it through your brain so you’re being conscious about it.

CHUCK: Yeah, and that’s the thing, it’s that consciousness. Sooner or later, Randy, everybody has to deal with an unpleasant personal change, like losing your job. With the short time we’ve got left, what are some of the tips that you can give people for dealing with change when the change isn’t their choice?

RANDY: Well, the most important thing is mindset. How you think about change and there’s always going to be some disappointment, that’s natural. Disappointment that lasts a short period of time is natural. Disappointment that lasts a long period of time is a mark of potentially you ought to involve somebody else in that decision. We need to get a different perspective on it, but the change piece of it is how you think about it because we don’t create our own reality, we create our own perception of that reality. I came to think reality is what it is. Perception isn’t reality. No, that’s not necessarily true. Perception is my reality.

CHUCK: Right.

RANDY: But that doesn’t mean it’s the only reality. How I look at this thing is important. Grandma Moses, one of the most celebrated artists in American history, became an artist very late in life because arthritis wouldn’t let her do needlepoint quilting any more. So, she could have said, “Hey, wait a minute. I can’t do it with my hands, I can’t do anything.” Or she could say, “Gee, I can’t do that, but I can do this.” It’s a mindset thing.

CHUCK: Right.

RANDY: That’s where it starts. The second part is, it really is like that old movie with Richard Dreyfuss. It is about baby steps. You do something, you do something every day. You make a conscious choice to do something every day and until it becomes habitual. Everybody says it takes 21-30 days to build a new habit. That’s not true, and I know that for two reasons. One is, I read that dark chocolate is good for your heart and it didn’t take me 21 days to develop that habit.

CHUCK:[laughs] Okay. I got that.

RANDY: Second, though, is, if you think about your new exercise program or something that’s a real challenge for you, a year or two later, you still have to make a conscious choice about it. We’re all going to be different, but you have to think, “Here’s the mindset.” The second thing is you have to then decide, “Here’s what I’m going to do about it,” and you do take that small conscious choice of, “Here’s what it’s going to happen next.” Everybody says this mindset stuff is all about your [46:00], it’s really not. The way we adapt to change is by understanding that we create our own response to it.

CHUCK: That’s true. We do create that.

RANDY: We create and we have to be responsible for our own choice about how we think about change. Once we do that, then that opens the door for other things. The hard part, going back to spineating, is to break that stimulus-response loop.

CHUCK: Randy, we are running very close to time. I want to ask you a real quick question because I know you’re in a lot of corporate boardrooms with your consulting work. Obviously, I speak a lot about ethics in business. What do you see on the landscape regarding ethical action in business today?

RANDY: This may be somewhat controversial. I think ethics has been hijacked by the legal department in most corporations.

CHUCK: That’s fair enough. I wouldn’t disagree.

RANDY: And I think it’s unfortunate. I think that in most corporations, ethics has become an issue of compliance. Here’s the thing, there are corporations out there, there are companies out there where ethics isn’t a compliance issue, it’s a commitment issue, and in those companies, I think you have a higher level of commitment to the values of the company. I think you have a higher level of candor, you have a higher level of ownership. If I could do the one thing to change the course of ethics in corporate America today, I would say, “We have to get back away from this ‘ethics is compliance’ so that I can check off a box when I’m dealing with sentencing guidelines and in case we ever get caught and start talking about values, and start talking about what’s important, and start talking about it not for a compliance, but for talking about it because we believe that it’s right.”

CHUCK: Randy, I appreciate that and I will tell you, I know today there are times that I am hired to speak because I am a check-off box for the US sentencing guidelines for people to avoid criminal activity for unethical action.

We’ve been talking with you about your book, Make Change Work, and, look, I really appreciate you taking the time. I want all of our listeners to know that you can pick up the copy of Randy’s book Make Change Work at or a bookstore near you or go to Randy’s website,

If your organization is planning a powerful meeting that seeks a truly inspirational presenter, one that earns standing ovations time after time, visit Randy Pennington’s website. I’m sure he’ll welcome the opportunity to talk to you.

Randy, thank you so much for joining me and to all our listeners, join us next week for more Straight Talk, transformational talk radio to live by. This is Chuck Gallagher and remember every choice has a consequence. Here’s to the power of positive choices.

You’ve been listening to Straight Talk with Chuck Gallagher. Tune in each week on, each Monday at 2 p.m. Pacific, 5 p.m. Eastern, as Chuck Gallagher, international speaker and author, cuts through the noise to share truth through transparency. Nationally-known guests talk about what’s important to you – your life, your concerns, and your success. Visit for more information and turn on to Straight Talk with Chuck Gallagher.

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