The Transforming Power of Self Awareness

Brandon and I had Eric Sprague and Larry Wilberton on the Head Heart & Boots show a couple weeks ago. Our intent was to learn more about their Morning Tech Meeting (soon to be SuperTech University), as we’d heard great things, and wanted to promote it to our clients and listeners.

And we did just that, for about 10 minutes. The rest of our conversation largely centered around the topic of self-awareness and it’s transformational power. 

The Harvard Business Review divides self awareness into two types, internal self awareness, and external self awareness. Internal self awareness is the ability to know at any given time what’s happening inside us, to be able to identify the emotion we’re currently feeling. External self awareness has to do with our ability to know how other people are experiencing us, perceiving our behavior. 

During our chat, Eric talked about how much he and Larry struggled running Shamrock Cleaning and Restoration in those early years. Former college roommates and long-time buddies, running a company together turned out to be much harder than they anticipated- they were like oil and water together. They couldn’t agree on anything. And of course, the employees observed this, and it was a huge drag on the company culture.

They also struggled the first couple years turning techs over. They’d get 3 or 4 good techs, and then months later 2 or 3 would leave. “Those guys sucked”, they’d say. Then they’d recruit another handful of techs, and again, a few months later a group of them would leave. “Those guys sucked” they’d again lament. But then sometime later one of them said, “You know, the one thing constant in this situation is you and me. Do all of our techs suck, or is there something wrong with you and me?”

This moment of clarity pushed Eric and Larry to hire a coach and they immediately embarked on a journey of personal and professional development. They hired a coach that the two began working with, and Eric dove headlong into studying leadership from the likes of John Maxwell and other leadership icons. 

The turning point for them was when they attended a Howard Partridge conference and listened to Dr. Robert Rome speak about the DISC personality assessment. As they sat in the audience listening, everything became clear to them- they were polar opposites of each other! No wonder they couldn’t agree on anything.

The experience was exhausting emotionally, but it created a fresh start for the two and they went back to their business with a renewed perspective, not just of each other, but of their team as well. The discovery of who they were, ultimately helped them see their employees and technicians as people with their own unique personalities and struggles.

Ultimately this new found self-awareness became the flashpoint for what later became the Morning Tech Meeting business. 

Armed with this new information about themselves, they began to look at their techs differently. Why were the guys not following the process we gave them? Why weren’t they earning high marks from customers. How in the world are we getting so many callbacks? These questions became, “What do our techs need from us that they’re currently not getting?”

And it came to them. Many of these technicians came from troubled home lives. Most of them were in their early twenties and never had the chance to go to a personal development conference, or much less, college. And many received little, if any, mentoring or development from previous jobs. Yet Eric and Larry were often sending them to affluent neighborhoods filled with doctors, attorneys, scientists and engineers. How did their technicians feel about that. Did they feel equipped to engage with these customers?

Most of them weren’t. Eric and Larry had given them all the technician training and paid to get them the appropriate certifications, but had they given them the soft-skills training needed for them to feel confident engaging customers with very different life experience?

So they set out to change that.

Immediately Eric began to create short, daily lessons for their technicians. They’d meet with them each morning after vehicle load-out and job assignments and Eric would deliver a short talk, often drawing on his own reading of John Maxwell and other leadership books. He’d teach them about setting goals, how to build rapport with customers, how to be a good team-player, the importance of grooming and personal appearance, and other foundational skills.

Eric and Larry started to see the morning practice bear fruit- the technicians began improving almost immediately. There were less callbacks, and the company was getting better reviews. More importantly techs were sticking around. The culture on the team in general was improving.

Over time, these short morning lessons became more and more diverse. Each day of the week there was a different recurring focus- one day they’d train on DISC in order to better understand themselves and their peers, another day they’d train on consultative selling. On Monday’s they’d spend the entire lesson talking about the company’s mission statement, and every Friday the technicians would take a quiz on the content of that week’s lessons.

Today, those daily morning lessons are the backbone of Morning Tech Meeting, a technician training platform that disaster restoration and home service companies are using all over the United States. 

To hear our full conversation with Eric and Larry, check out “Do it for Them” on the Head Heart & Boots Podcast:


Chris Nordyke

Chris Nordyke is a past State Farm insurance agency owner and commercial sales executive in the restoration industry. He’s a founder and Co-host of the Head Heart & Boots podcast, co-founder of the Floodlight Consulting Group, and co-founder of the Floodlight Leadership Circles. Chris resides in the beautiful state of Oregon with his wife of 20 years, Cara, and their 3 children- Lily, Jack and Simon.

Email Chris at:

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