March 3

Journey to the Soul – in Just 7 Minutes with Blaine Bartlett

SBS Podcast


What You’ll Learn From This Episode:

  • How disengagement has an enormous cost to it
  • Why vulnerability and authenticity are important
  • Don't tell - ASK


Related Links and Resources:

On my website, that landing page or homepage has got a free book, 'Tapping into the Soul of Business'. It's an eBook, it's an easy read of around 35-40 pages. So, my Mastermind program is a 52-week long program but what I wanted to do is to make two months of it available in written form, it's not the mastermind itself. The book that is associated with that, you can get two chapters on it that actually speaks to two months’ worth of practices. And you can find that on 


Blaine Bartlett is President and CEO of Avatar Resources. He founded the firm in 1987 and since then has led the company in developing a footprint that is truly global.

His firm develops and delivers high-impact solutions for every type of organization, anywhere in the world. They have established and maintain an impressive global network of specialized affiliates with one aim in mind – to help businesses achieve their dreams, one employee at a time.

Here are the highlights of this episode:

1:24 Blaine’s ideal Client: I love that question; because for me, it's actually morph. It started out with large enterprises. I'd work with some of the largest organizations, me and my company, some of the largest companies on the planet. Mostly that focus has been initially on 'how do you implement a strategic client' or 'strategic initiatives'. Big shifts, big directional juxtaposition from what it was. How do you get people on board? Kind of like rolling up against the Queen Mary and kicking it in a bow saying 'turn, turn, turn'. It's an interesting preposition. Where we are today, is really focusing more on the small to midsize companies. My ideal is an organization that's gotten right around between 100-300 people. And I say that selfishly because I can see movement at that point in time, with that size of an organization. And there's a reason for that; 80% of the world's economy is driven by these small to midsize companies. And the big enterprises are the ones getting all the press. But the ones that really make a difference are these small to midsize organizations. And having them actually percolating well (running well) is what I like to be working towards and what I'm actually directing my company to work closely today.

3:03 Problem Blaine helps solve: I will reference Gallop on this. Gallop is an annual poll employee engagement and the needle has not moved for at least 25 years since I'm aware of that poll being done. And what is shown consistently which is globally is that between 85-87% of employees worldwide are disengaged from the work that they're doing. Now, they show up, they go through the motions, but that disengagement has had an enormous cost to it. And this is one of the reasons why small start-up organizations (5-20 people) that's not so much an issue, but you start getting into a 'larger than a 2 pizza' organization, I'm quoting Jeff Bezos here. People started to become disconnected from the organization's mission, from its founding purpose and soul. That problem has a cost, and that's what we solve; that's actually what we work towards making possible is high-level of 'emotional engagement' in what the organization is trying to make it happen.

4:30 Typical symptoms that clients do before reaching out to Blaine: Symptomatically, what tends to appear is people waiting to be told what to do. That's probably the most glaring example. People are highly creative, they're innovative. The human spirit seeks to express and it seeks to grow but that doesn't seem to be the case in many organizations. And that's that higher hierarchical structure. Reporting relationships - "don't move until I tell you that you can move"... "I'm the boss" and it's a mindset! "I'm the boss and I'm supposed to let you know what to do next. I'm supposed to give you direction." In today's economy, that is #1 a CRAZY idea because people don't appreciate that, you stripped away their agency. And when you strip that away, the emotional engagement goes out the door. Secondly, they have creative ideas about how to best move forward next and I think this pandemic has been a great example of that. Some of the firms that we actually worked with in this past year have actually found ways to set their people free - and I said 'set people free' in a sense of coming up with ideas like "how do we stay alive? How do we keep our business going?" and trusting that their employees can actually come up with some good ideas that they could have never have thought of on their own. That's what we're looking for. And the employees started to feel invigorated, they started to feel appreciated. And then out of that appreciation, they feel valued and then they start contributing more. So, that's what we look for.

6:23 What are some of the common mistakes that folks make before finding Blaine and his solution: Old mentor of mine, long time ago said "if you're the smartest person in the room, you're probably in the wrong room" and I mentioned that as a way to think about this: most owners think that they know best about how to run their business. Most 'leaders', if the organization is large enough and you're not the actual owner but you are being hired as a CEO or whatever. The mindset is "I'm supposed to know what to do" will get you in trouble more often than not. And so willing to be vulnerable, this is where authenticity comes into play. People disconnect when certainty is in place. They connect through vulnerability. So, leaders have positioned themselves and present themselves as being certain; it's kind of a paradox, because people are looking for certainty to a significant degree but if you position yourself as a leader as absolutely certain, there's no way for people to bump-up against that certainty and challenge it. You need to be able to be authentic enough to be vulnerable, "I'm not really sure, I think I have an idea here. Bounce around with me in this". And you get some trusted folks in the organization that you do that with. That kind of certainty will trip you up more often than not  

8:19 Blaine’s Valuable Free Action (VFA): I think the one that I would pay most attention to is ask questions, don't tell- ASK. A couple of reasons here. One: in questions obviously, you get information when you ask a question. But questions are also invitational. So, when you're asking somebody a question, you're actually asking them to participate with you. And if you're looking to move the needle on the employee engagement, particularly emotional engagement, well the easiest way that I ever found to do that is to be willing to ask questions. And that kind of bounces us back into this question of vulnerability and authenticity. If you're asking a question, by definition you're interested or curious in the answer coming back. It's not a proforma exercise. You're not doing it just to check the box. You're actually looking to invite people to participate. Then you have to honor that invitation. 

9:39 Blaine’s Valuable Free Resource (VFR): I'm actually offering two of it. On my website, that landing page or homepage has got a free book, 'Tapping into the Soul of Business'. It's an eBook, it's an easy read of around 35-40 pages. Go to the website, look for 'Tapping into the Soul of Business' and it is very visible on that front page. The other has something to do with Leadership Mastermind. What I've decided to do with that is, leaders need to get a grip on what actually means to lead in today's world. So, my Mastermind program is a 52-week long program but what I wanted to do is to make two months of it available in written form, it's not the mastermind itself. The book that is associated with that, you can get two chapters on it that actually speaks to two months’ worth of practices. And you can find that on

11:11 What is this 'soul of business' mean?  Journey to the soul of what? Everything has a soul, and really do mean that literally, not in a religious sense. But everything that has very existed has this spark that seeks to be expressed, and that is very true with businesses. Every business I've ever encountered where founded on an idea; and that idea looks for expression. The question is actually a two-part question. How do I keep my organization connected to its founding soul? And from the leadership perspective, what does leadership actually mean? Because they are actually connected. And for me, leadership with the way I define it is 'co-creating coordinated movement' and the kicker on this is for the sake of what? And this is where the soul comes into play. For the sake of keeping us connected to who we are as we express that in the marketplace through the service or product we offer. That soul is where aliveness exists, that soul is where creativity and innovation come into play. How do you tap into that? Tapping into the soul of business.

Every business I've ever encountered was founded on an idea; and that idea look for expression" – Blaine Bartlett 

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