Julius Geis
Founder & CEO MUA

On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup talks to Julius from MUA about turning happiness into a trackable KPI.

Some Conversation Highlights:

I think we have to step back a little bit, because let’s say happiness is really the end result of many things that happened before. If you express yourself of being happy, you probably did a lot of things right, consciously and unconsciously. But things happened before that led to that feeling, that led to this emotion. It’s how I would like to answer your question. So, I do believe there… I don’t believe that you can be happy and unproductive at the same time in the context of work.

I am throwing in another word that is fulfillment. So, we want to be fulfilled and that fulfillment leads to a place, again, that is happiness. Usually, if an employee considers himself as happy, that employee works on their strength, understands their place, feels a sense of participation and unity, and that makes them happy. All these qualities that I have listed usually lead to productivity. I don’t think I have ever seen an employee who would say, “I’m truly happy in what I’m doing, but I’m pretty bad in it,” or “I’m super unproductive.” So, my answer to your question is, I probably would disagree. I don’t think that you can be happy and unproductive at the same time.

Dover Autopilot Launch RD Inline Banner
Tune in for the full conversation.

Listening time: 23 minutes

Enjoy the podcast?

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The RecruitingDaily Podcast with William Tincup. Be sure to subscribe through your favorite platform.

Announcer (00:00):

This is RecruitingDaily’s Recruiting Live Podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week, we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three year old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You are now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup.

 

William Tincup (00:34):

Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you’re listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Today, we have Julius on from MUA. Our topic today is Turn Happiness into a Trackable KPI. I can’t wait to get into this. This is going to be a lot of fun. Julius, would you do us a favor and both introduce yourself and MUA?

 

Julius Geis (00:54):

Yeah, sure. Thank you, William. Thanks for having me. My name Julius Geis, born and raised in Germany, moved to the United States five years ago. Started out in Maui, Hawaii, now live in Rhode Island. Beautiful state here in the northeast. I created MUA one and a half years ago, and we started actually as a journal company. In my previous career, I worked as a brand consultant, and we worked with a lot of change.

(01:27)
So, I realized there is a big need for companies to identify habits and specifically those habits that hold us back to implement new ideas. That’s kind of the birth story of MUA. It’s a system that helps us become aware of our daily routines and habits, and help us change them.

 

William Tincup (01:47):

I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. Okay. Let’s start with the title of the show, Turn Happiness Into a Trackable KPI. Happiness seems soft. I can see a manager or leader going, “I care obviously about satisfaction and happiness and things like that.” I should ask you, is happiness the same as satisfaction? Are those synonyms?

 

Julius Geis (02:13):

You starting off [inaudible 00:02:14].

 

William Tincup (02:15):

No, I’m sorry. Yeah, it’s very, very esoteric. But-

 

Julius Geis (02:16):

No, no, no.

 

William Tincup (02:17):

As I thought about it, I’m like, wait a minute, because you might be thinking about happiness in a different way than people have historically thought about satisfaction.

 

Julius Geis (02:27):

I think there’s a similarity to it. I think the misunderstanding when we use the word happiness is that a lot of us think about us jumping down the room with our hands up and screaming and yelling. Happiness doesn’t have to be as eccentric. I think satisfaction is a bit more intrinsic or it sounds a bit softer, so I think there’s a truth to both of it. There are different words that you can use. I like satisfaction. Some people say awake, some people say aware, but we like to use happiness because it is something we all can relate to. It’s something that how we would express satisfaction to our friends and family.

(03:13)
If you do something, did you really like and that fulfills you and that satisfies you? Consequentially, you would say, I’m really happy doing this job. I’m really happy going to work every day. So, there’s definitely a relationship. I think they’re not separated, it just depends on the perspective of how you express a certain emotion.

 

William Tincup (03:37):

I like that. I like that. Sorry to hit you with that. I really was curious to think about it. Happiness, I’m assuming that where one can be happy in work and not productive, or productive in work and not happy. I’m thinking of extremes there. How do we, either intrinsically or otherwise, how do we link their happiness? Well, first of all, we’ll get to this, but how do we measure their happiness? But how do we link the two? Because I know when you get to a certain level in an organization, you’re going to say, “Yeah, cool, love it.” How does this lead to retention of employees or more performance, et cetera?

 

Julius Geis (04:23):

I think we have to step back a little bit, because let’s say happiness is really the end result of many things that happened before. If you express yourself of being happy, you probably did a lot of things right, consciously and unconsciously. But things happened before that led to that feeling, that led to this emotion. It’s how I would like to answer your question. So, I do believe there… I don’t believe that you can be happy and unproductive at the same time in the context of work because the…

(05:07)
I am throwing in another word that is fulfillment. So, we want to be fulfilled and that fulfillment leads to a place, again, that is happiness. Usually, if an employee considers himself as happy, that employee works on their strength, understands their place, feels a sense of participation and unity, and that makes them happy. All these qualities that I have listed usually lead to productivity. I don’t think I have ever seen an employee who would say, “I’m truly happy in what I’m doing, but I’m pretty bad in it,” or “I’m super unproductive.” So, my answer to your question is, I probably would disagree. I don’t think that you can be happy and unproductive at the same time.

 

William Tincup (05:59):

I’ll have to think about that. Maybe I can come up with something. But you said that the behaviors or the stepping stones, because if you think of happiness as an outcome, there were some building blocks to help you get there. For the audience sake, what are some of those building blocks?

 

Julius Geis (06:16):

Yeah. I mean, this is really where our program starts and where we really differentiate ourself towards other programs. MUA is purely focused on self-reflection with a retrospective view. What we are doing is we allow employees to reflect on their daily activities by literally listing them down and then ask themselves how did I feel doing that specific activity, whether it was a meeting with a client, a morning meditation, a coffee break, or working on a specific project, and then choosing an emotion, like something positive rather negative, or something that is neutral. That exercise leads to what we call self-awareness. We become more aware about these nuances that are between our emotions.

(07:08)
What I mean with that, an employee that does not train awareness or does not train mindfulness, it’s another word that you can use in that context, they usually respond by the question, how do you feel right now? They say, “Well, I’m overwhelmed. I really have too much work, and it sucks, and I feel generally overwhelmed.” But how can you help somebody who just generally feels overwhelmed? It’s super difficult, because I don’t really know what to do. The only solution I potentially could have is, “Well, do you need less work? Should we shift work? What is the solution?” An aware person can say, just to finish that thought, an aware person can say, “I do feel overwhelmed because of,” and that’s the big differentiator.

(07:59)
That awareness and that understanding of self now leads to a self-organized workforce that becomes more happy. I know it sounds a bit… Maybe the chum sounds a bit foreign and, again, there are nuances in between, but because I’m able to express myself, I can release my emotion because of I can express myself, I can actually ask for help, and culture can organize itself. So, the result is that people do more the things they like and that energizes them, which leads to happiness versus the other way around.

 

William Tincup (08:41):

In the reflection, I would assume at the end of the day or maybe the next day, whatever the cadence is, they reflect on the different building blocks of their day, the different things. And then, they report to themselves again, I guess, if they’re honest. I guess this is all predicated, right? They have to be honest. So, they’ve got to be honest with themselves, and then they track that. Does management or are their managers, do they have any insight into those things?

 

Julius Geis (09:14):

Yes, they have, but I think what we are really proud of when we created MUA, we like to call as a people first approach. Most of these softwares that are out there, most of them call themselves experience platforms or engagement platforms, they’re actually built for management. In our opinion, they are built to control people. MUA, the design intention was to truly help people go through these exercise, learn that skillset of self-awareness and mindfulness, and use analytic to make better decisions moving forward.

(09:58)
The cherry on the cake is that, consequentially too, we are creating data from the input the employee is generating. But first of all, it’s really truly for the employee, because without analytics or with analytics, they gain something which is that skill. They train a skill that they don’t have at the moment, but management can participate. We have a beautiful analytics that allows management to feel the pulse of their organization. I like to call it sometimes the heart rate monitor or pulse measurement. So, it’s really this top view of how vital is my organization right now and to really prevent crisis before they appear. So, it’s never about controlling, it’s more about connectivity, feeling the pulse. It’s much more softer than hard analytics, if that makes sense.

 

William Tincup (10:51):

It absolutely makes sense. I’m thinking to myself, if they learn, so if I’m honest with myself and something that routinely comes up, maybe I’m overwhelmed with the number of Zoom calls that I have. I should say that today, I’ve got 12 Zoom calls. I get to the end of the day, I’m just like, “I’m tired of Zoom.” I reflect on that, et cetera. Now, that’s great for me to then understand, okay, I shouldn’t start off my week with 12 Zoom calls. That kind of sets me up for a bad pattern. Next Monday, I can then not 12, go with six, something like that. So, I can see how the data helps the individual.

(11:38)
If that happens, because I’m thinking about jobs, all jobs, and please debunk this, but I’ve often thought that all jobs have some element of work that you don’t like. It doesn’t matter if you’re the president or the cashier or whatever, there’s a bit that you like hopefully. And then, there’s something in there that you just don’t like that you can’t get rid of it. That’s a part of the job. Do you believe that? I mean, do you subscribe to that?

 

Julius Geis (12:12):

No, I agree. You’re absolutely right. Our idea is not to eliminate the understanding that there are things that we enjoy more than others. The trick is really how we relate to these situations. How much shall we attach to those, and how much do we allow emotions to take over an entire day? I give you an example. MUA really trains us, or in my own use, I use it daily as well, of course. Many times, I have a beautiful day, there’s a lot of great stuff that I’m doing ,and then there’s this one phone call, let’s say with my bank, and that’s a big flame and it literally takes away my entire mood.

(12:58)
It’s how I relate now with this situation. I have two choices. That situation overshadows my entire day, and I just feel stuck and I feel frustrated and that’s how I end my day. Or I recognize that that specific conversation turned me down or took away some energy. But through the acknowledgement, I removed the power it has, that emotion, I removed the power it has… Sorry for losing the thought. The power it has for removing all the positive that happened in my day, and that’s the big difference.

 

William Tincup (13:40):

Yeah. You had eight hours or seven hours of really good stuff. You hit and miss, but mostly good stuff, and one event makes the whole day… Put cast a shadow on the entire day.

 

Julius Geis (13:53):

Exactly. And so, if you look at employees-

 

William Tincup (13:55):

That’s happened to everybody.

 

Julius Geis (13:56):

Exactly, William. If you’re looking at employees, for most of us, this is our reality. We have no awareness on those things that really bring us joy. We don’t even take them. We are not even aware of it. We never celebrate these little things, that coffee tasted beautifully, or what a great team meeting we just had. We always focus on the things that hit us hard. So, if we balance that out, we have a more healthier selves. That healthier self has a huge effect on your teams and your culture within the company.

 

William Tincup (14:38):

Are some people just hardwired to be better at self-reflection? I’m thinking about personalities, but it could be other things outside of personality. Because there’s some vulnerability there on some level that I have to now look objectively at my day, and then go, “Okay, that went well. That didn’t go well. This went well,” the whole bit. Grayed out everything and takes… I mean, it takes objectivity. You got to be vulnerable. The second thing is, are there just better people hardwired for it?

 

Julius Geis (15:18):

I don’t know. I don’t really think so. I think everybody has the opportunity to be self-reflected and to be mindful. Of course, they’re probably people who, from their personality traits, that have maybe a more easier access to these qualities. But generally, it’s a learnable skill, if that makes sense.

(15:41)
The second part, I think you mentioned vulnerability, and that was our reason why we used symbolism. I experienced that firsthand on myself and with others that if I ask you, William, how are you doing today? I’m expecting you to express it through sentences, et cetera, it’s really, really hard.

 

William Tincup (16:06):

That sounds like work. Yeah, that sounds like work.

 

Julius Geis (16:06):

Exactly. It’s really hard. So, we use symbols to really lower the bar. But subconsciously, you’re going through the same process. You self-reflect. You make a decision of a corridor of emotions, and then you move forward. So, we lower-

 

William Tincup (16:23):

Take us into the symbolism again real quick. What are the symbols?

 

Julius Geis (16:26):

MUA uses three symbols, and that goes through the entire ecosystem. We use a heart that stands for everything that is energizing, like an activity that energizes me. We use a flame, and yes, it does not come from lit up, it comes from burnout. The flame addresses negativity or emotions or relationships that rather take energy away. Again, the inspiration came from the word burnout. The last symbol we use is a line that stands for neutrality. It’s okay that you don’t know how you felt about something, or that you just say it is what it is. Those activities, you can give a line in MUA.

 

William Tincup (17:14):

If someone is… I think it relates to a question or a path that I wanted to ask. If someone has a flame, and it’s just a flame that’s there, and they keep having the same flame week in and week count, A, that’s going to give them that insight. I get that part. They’ll have the insight, so they could possibly train it or change their behaviors or change their whatever. But do managers have, because you said pulse, I’m assuming it’s generalized to the organizational department or what team or whatever, but not to a particular task.

(18:01)
Let’s take the flame real quick, and let’s just say that that flame keep happening. I guess you could trigger it to the individual. I get that part. But what about to the… How do you create a teachable moment for that manager? I’m thinking about just the same flame over and over. It’s just week in and week out, or day in and day out. The flame, flame, flame, flame, flame. Okay, now, I know that, which is good. I have insight into that. Maybe there’s a way to manage that. But is there a way for… An intervention is what I’m thinking about. Someone else to then say, “Hey, I’ve noticed these 10 flames in a row, et cetera.” Is that either where you are or where you’re going to take this?

 

Julius Geis (18:54):

Yes, you can do that. But first of all, and I think that’s very, very important for us, it’s not possible on an employee’s identity. I cannot see William-

 

William Tincup (19:05):

Anonymous.

 

Julius Geis (19:06):

Yes, it’s always anonymous. We also build certain criteria. You mentioned, yes, we do have a team level and you have tag levels, we call them. It’s kind of like… Yeah, we have tags that you can track. To answer your question, it’s possible for management. You can see if there is a repetitive emotion on a specific work tag or workflow tag, how we call them. That could be a project ID, a client name, recurring work tasks in your workforce. You would see that.

(19:40)
The idea is that you offer a field where you get in touch to offer a solution. What I mean with that is, let’s say you are a team leader of a team and you identify what you have described. There’s a certain work task that creates a lot of flames. We encourage now team leaders to have a conversation with their teams. That’s what we want. We want you to communicate. We don’t want you to call out, that’s why you cannot identify people behind the selection. But you can-

 

William Tincup (20:15):

Right. Yeah, there’s no retaliation. Yeah.

 

Julius Geis (20:16):

No, absolutely not, and that’s super important for us because there are tools out there who do that. We are rejecting this idea of spying on peoples. But we want leadership to become conscious and aware of their teams as well, and we want them to initiate conversation. Now, two things happen. A, you have a workforce that is self-aware because of our exercise, and you have leaders who become more aware about the results or about their vitality of their workforce. And interestingly, a different form of conversation happens now. It’s much more solution-oriented, than it is like top down, KPI-driven or something like this. It’s rather of, okay, how can we, as a collective, make sure that these specific work tasks are not constantly a flame? Or why are they a flame? What does make them to a flame?

(21:16)
For example, if you work in the service industry, there is a truth that searching clients have a negative effect on your teams when you compare them with other clients. We believe that’s a very insightful indicator to know, “Hey, client A actually really burns us out. We create the same revenue with them, we have the same work pass with them as we have with other clients, but there’s something on the client side maybe that is just not healthy for our organization.” So now, leadership can make a decision. Can I have a conversation with the client? Should we continue working with the client, or should we focus on other clients? Et cetera, et cetera. So, it’s always about empowerment of choice. You make the decision, but make it from a place of awareness and empowerment.

 

William Tincup (22:10):

Yeah. What I love about this is once you know, you can’t unknow.

 

Julius Geis (22:14):

Exactly.

 

William Tincup (22:15):

This is for both the individual as well as for managers, if that client… Now, you know. And so, you’ve got to then do something with the data, or we’ll just going to be, again, it leads to burnout. You’re going to burn out personnel. This has been absolutely fantastic, Julius. Thank you so much for your time, and I love what you’re doing.

 

Julius Geis (22:38):

Thank you. No, thank you so much for having me. Yeah, no, it was a pleasure being on your show.

 

William Tincup (22:44):

Thanks for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Until next time.

 

Announcer (22:49):

You’ve been listening to The Recruiting Live Podcast by RecruitingDaily. Check out the latest industry podcast, webinars, articles, and news at Recruit-

The RecruitingDaily Podcast

Authors
William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


Discussion

Please log in to post comments.

Login