"It is a positive book because I was able to wash the dirt off and I was able to overcome those hurdles and obstacles that all people face — and they're coming. But I do think we can equip ourselves to thrive and be successful and be the best we can be." — Ron Ward, author, The Dirty Side of Leadership
He previously served as the Academy Director of the Federal Probation and Pretrial Services Academy at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Charleston, South Carolina.
Ron also oversaw the US Probation and Pretrial National Wellness Committee. As academy director, HE was responsible for training all newly hired U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services Officers, and the certification and recertification of the agency’s firearms, safety, and search team instructors.
Raw Transcript of this Episode:
[00:00:00] Curt Mercadante: All right. Hey there. Freedom lovers, Curt Mercadante here. Welcome to yet another wonderful, amazing interview we have here on the freedom media network before I get into, uh, who we're interviewing today. And we jump in today's interview. My gosh, if you are a first time viewer or listener. Welcome if you've been here before.
[00:00:20] Welcome back. And if you've been here before, please bear with me or finally take action on the free stuff. I'm about to give you, take out your smart. Text the word Freeman, F R E E M a N to the number 5, 5, 6, 7, 8. It'll take you a few moments. You probably already have that cell phone out anyways, surfing the web surfing Facebook, whatever it is, text Freeman to 5, 5, 6, 7, 8.
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[00:01:01] You can listen to it while you're. On your way back from a day job, maybe it's a day job. You hate put that commute to work for you. We lead you through the five pillars of the freedom lifestyle, actionable steps you can take to create the life of joy, fulfillment, and freedom you want. And the only cause is use that smartphone text free, man, all one word to 5, 5, 6, 7, 8, and speaking of free, man, our guests today, Ron ward.
[00:01:29] Is a free man. He wrote a great book, the dirty side of leadership, which my gosh, I first read well over a year ago. I remember actually maybe two years ago, I, we were traveling around the country when you and I had some discussions. Ron is in addition to writing that Amazon bestseller, he is a speaker and founder and CEO.
[00:01:48] Of forward operations. He previously served as the academy director of the federal probation and pretrial services academy at the federal law enforcement training center in [00:02:00] Charleston, South Carolina, where I live for about eight years. And. We kind of met. We never met in Charleston, but through a, a common acquaintance who there is there in Charleston, there's a whole lot more there's martial arts, martial arts champion lessons learned in his book.
[00:02:15] We'll talk more about that today. Ron asked me to keep his bio brief. So, uh, Ron, thank you so much for joining us in the freedom media network.
[00:02:23] Ron Ward: Thank you, Curt. I'm a fan.
[00:02:26] Curt Mercadante: Well, likewise, likewise. So you, you mentioned now, you know, you're, you're a new business. What are you two years into it? Maybe two and a half years into it.
[00:02:36] Uh, you retired last year from what you were doing, uh, in law enforcement. And you said you're busy. You're traveling around the world, right? Well, the country right now, uh, keeping busy doing that. Tell us, what are you traveling around doing? What kind of training are you doing?
[00:02:51] Ron Ward: Curt. Uh, the reason I wrote the book and started my company is I was, and this is no disrespect, but I, I, to a lot of [00:03:00] great leaders, but I went to a lot of leadership programs and I got a lot of great catch phrases, but I did not really.
[00:03:07] Developed a skill set that I needed. So I started on that journey of developing my own, my own skill set, helping other managers. And it just kind of took off from there. But my passion is to help people lead and be effective. And as you know, in this world, post COVID and during COVID, uh, leaders were challenged in ways they've never been challenged before.
[00:03:28] So I'm trying to do my small part to help, help them be well and, uh, and lead, uh, with vision and strategy, but also. Uh, with, uh, some empathy it's
[00:03:40] Curt Mercadante: uh, and, and the beauty of taping in this podcast is that I'm not so hung up on technical things. I literally need to go on the other side of the computer and turn something off real quick.
[00:03:49] Please bear with me. We'll edit this outta the audio.
[00:03:58] I forgot to turn my air [00:04:00] conditioning off. And it's like a jet engine when it turns on. And so no one would, you wouldn't be able to hear me and no one would be able to hear us. So, um, you know, when it comes to leadership, your book is the dirty side of leadership. And you talked about leadership and going around doing leadership training consulting.
[00:04:16] If you type the word in leadership to linked. there's a million leadership coaches, everyone posts on leadership. Uh, there's so many people who identify as leaders. What, how do you define that word leadership and how might that be a little different than, than some people think of it? Given the fact that everyone on LinkedIn seems to like to talk about it.
[00:04:38] Ron Ward: You know, uh you're exactly right. And, uh, it was, it was even a little intimidating when I, uh, started the journey of writing a book because I'm like my God, I think half the people are leadership gurus. So, um, I, I do have to mention that I did research some leadership gurus. Who've never led, so I could kind of mark them off a [00:05:00] little bit, but, uh, I developed this definition and it is.
[00:05:05] Leaders make everything and everyone around them better. And. It's awesome to me, I've been in the middle with the federal government. I've been in the middle of chaos and difficulties, and it's super cool to watch a genuine leader, come in and check on staff and they, uh, establish a vision and this is how we're gonna move forward.
[00:05:28] And it it's art, you know, it's both science and art and, uh, it's, uh, it's, it's a wonderful thing to observe. And I did. Best to aspire, uh, to those types of levels. Cause I definitely had plenty of opportunities,
[00:05:45] Curt Mercadante: you know, I noticed, and I, and I do follow you on LinkedIn and see, and I, and I know in addition to leadership consulting, you're doing some career coaching.
[00:05:52] Um, and in your book, the dirty side of leadership, certainly there's a lot about your journey and how you lead and, and [00:06:00] advice for leaders. Wanna be leaders, but there's also a, a, a fair amount of, of lessons for anyone who just wants to achieve what they wanna achieve in life. Um, and you know, one of the things, when you talk about leaders and you talk about where you are, you didn't start.
[00:06:18] you weren't born into suddenly. I know I'm gonna be a leader. I know I'm gonna be a coach. I'm gonna be traveling around the country, training everyone. You started at a certain level. I remember in a book you had to write, read about learning to write better, right? Improving some of those skills. What do you say to someone who, you know, might attend one of your training sessions, who is like five rungs below?
[00:06:41] Where you're at or the manager level or in a corporation being at the vice president level or president level, who is like, man, there's just so many steps between here and there. How am I ever going to get there? What do you tell someone like that?
[00:06:57] Ron Ward: Yeah, that's a great question because [00:07:00] I'm certainly, uh, not arrogant enough to think that I can slide in and do a two hour or four hour, eight hour presentation.
[00:07:09] And. You know, change the course of someone's life immediately. Uh, I think that we, as leaders have to inspire people to be lifelong learners and grow. I always tell people the information's out there. Uh, we just have to open up and not waste so much time doing other things. And when I'm say other things, I'm talking about things that are unproductive and, uh, we build our knowledge base.
[00:07:33] But the second thing that I stress is you need a mentor. You need a mentor, and this is not an, an, an advertisement for me. Business is great, but, uh, one of the smartest things I did was hire a coach. I had all this leadership experience in the federal government, but I didn't know anything about marketing.
[00:07:51] Uh, there were so many things I had to learn. So I hired a coach to help me get up to the level that I need to be. So I encourage people to learn, [00:08:00] grow, get a mentor. And then finally, and this is along your Bailey. Is stay well, like don't overthink the stuff. Don't get to the point where you're unhealthy, you're stressed and I've been all of those.
[00:08:13] As a matter of fact, when I read your journey, like it almost triggered me. Uh, I think I spent half my career stressed out and, um, I've, uh, I've got a new program called rethinking well wellness and I try to help people go from wellness to wellbeing. Wellness has become just another program, a. And, uh, it's moment by moment and a focus on our wellbeing.
[00:08:36] And I know you say a lot of wonderful things about that, Curt.
[00:08:40] Curt Mercadante: Yeah. And, and you, you're someone who has worked in an industry that is considered, Hey, tough. This is tough. This is badass. Right. And, and you move forward and, and in martial arts, but there's a, there's a lot of folks and, you know, um, I'm, I'm by no means I do Chiang, you know, I, I'm not into martial arts.
[00:08:59] I'm kind of moving [00:09:00] in that direction, but. A limited amount I do know is in martial arts, right? It's it's the open hand and in many cases and right. There's some martial arts. I, I believe you were in karate, but there's some martial arts where you can win a fight without actually ever throwing a punch.
[00:09:15] Right. And, and when you think about the stress and the grasping, where have you found whether either through people you work with or. Lessons learned through your own career, the fine line between being disciplined, having a plan moving forward and the balance of, you know, I'm so stressed that I'm now stuck in quicksand I'm so I'm grinding away and it's just killing me physically, but I'm also not achieving my goals.
[00:09:44] Where do you find that, that fine line? .
[00:09:47] Ron Ward: Yeah. And, uh, there's some intuitiveness there, but, um, that's part of the reason I tell people to get a mentor and surround themselves with positive people. I think so many times we're around [00:10:00] toxicity and we're, we're we feel trapped with these people when we need the, the courage to kind of distance ourselves.
[00:10:07] I learned this several years ago and there were some people who were always negative. They were always speaking. Um, you know, about someone else back biting those kind of things. And I started distancing myself and also, you know, you, I call it interpersonal communication. Uh, when I talk about the various styles of communication, but you've gotta learn to reprogram your mind.
[00:10:29] You've got to have positive self talk and you've gotta replace. I do this funny thing in my wellness. I have a boxing glove and I have someone just punch my hand over and over. And I said, you know, that doesn't hurt that much, but after time it's gonna start to bruise. And I talk about when you walk in, I know we've seen the movie, Rocky, you know, you, uh, walk in there's tape, wrapped around those bags where they've been punched so much, and those were all new at one point.
[00:10:59] [00:11:00] But at some point they erode and, uh, they dilapidate and so forth. So. I think in, at that journey, if we will start to take the steps it's called pairing in martial arts, you pair or redirect. And if you would start pairing those negative thoughts and self talk and surround yourself with good people, we can usually.
[00:11:24] Uh, start to feel better and start to, um, really increase our wellbeing. I have been there Curt so many times, and these are the only things that I've found and I'm sure some people have a lot better answers. I do breathing exercises regularly because I'm programming my brain. That it's time to chill and relax.
[00:11:44] So there are steps you can take. And sometimes I'm just gonna tell you, I was in situations where there was a deadline, it had to be met and you do the absolute best you can. But as soon as you reach that goal, uh, you've gotta start, you know, getting back to your good [00:12:00] habits. Uh, and during that stressful time, that's when you need those other things.
[00:12:05] I discuss.
[00:12:06] Curt Mercadante: You mentioned the paring. Um, I take chigong every Saturday. I go and then I do it daily and it's, it's moving meditation. It's about moving energy around. And after a year he actually showed me what happens when you speed it up and you could turn it, it becomes, you could turn it into Tai Chi and these things he's like when you speed it up.
[00:12:24] Well, you're actually doing. You can defend and you just learned all these martial arts moves without even knowing it. Right. But there's a piece of it where it's a standing meditation. So the horse stands and you have Chi ball and you have your arms out. He can do it for eight hours, you know, standing there.
[00:12:40] And the toughest thing isn't even the body. It's your mind starts to go nuts after about five minutes sometimes. Right? So you do it, but he always says, act like an egg. Be strong enough to keep everything inside and protect it, but be strong enough to protect everything from the outside. And last week I asked him, I said, but at some point the shit hits the fan or whatever [00:13:00] is the key.
[00:13:00] Then toughening up the egg shell. And he said, no said, what do you mean? He said, be able to, when that egg, imagine you're the egg and you roll off the counter instead of splattering, when you hit it, learn to be like a cat, redirect the. So you, you hit the ground, but you don't absorb the energy, which as you said, pairing reminds me of that.
[00:13:23] And one piece, I mean, we've talked about it in, in, in, in, um, regards to stress and in our own lives. One thing I'd love, I I'd, I'd love for you to describe is you train law enforcement professionals. And we know these days, law enforcement, depending on who you talk to is either under attack, rightfully under attack, wrongly under attack, but either way at the heart of it is either conflict with the public conflict, with politicians or conflict with someone who's literally standing in front of me, ready to harm me.
[00:13:56] How does that peering in, in your [00:14:00] martial arts training, has that come into, uh, serve you well in terms of training people, because part of conflict, right? Is, is. Is the redirection of energy, right. Rather than either internalizing it or, or, or throwing a punch
[00:14:13] Ron Ward: right away. Yeah. Curt. I was a police officer at the beginning of my career, and it's a very challenging profession, but I wouldn't trade it for anything because you really learn those interpersonal skills, those soft skills, but also hard skills, but more along the lines of your question in, in the academy, what we did is create scenario based training.
[00:14:37] We have, you have laboratories, you have classroom, you have testing, there's four levels of, uh, feedback. Uh, that you get and, um, the scenario based training, um, we debrief afterwards, what did you do? Well, what would you do differently? and, uh, we, we check their anxiety level. We teach a grounded breath and then a [00:15:00] resetting breath.
[00:15:00] So a grounded breath, you can use this. Let's say that someone is meeting has a meeting and they really dread it. They have to maybe confront someone you can do. Even when you're shaking, someone's hand, you can do a very deep diaphragm breath while you're shaking their hand. And it's gonna cause a hesitation in blood.
[00:15:21] It's gonna help you, uh, think more clearly and be more calm in that situation and keep your thoughts together. But I believe that it's that combination of classroom, um, laboratories and doing the live scenarios. A lot of people are kinesthetic learners. And unfortunately when we do training. We do the PowerPoint presentation, the catch phrases, and you know, most people have about 11 minute detention span and then we're expecting them to remember all these terms and diagrams.
[00:15:54] When in fact they really need to experience it. And, and I will say in my trainings [00:16:00] about every 15 to 20 minutes, I've got volunteers, I've got people working on things, cause I want them to experience what we're doing. And that's why I developed scenario based training. But to, to put a, a, a ribbon on this, the response, their response, you have an instructor that gives them feedback.
[00:16:19] Their partner gives them feedback. They evaluate themselves. And over time we see people start to develop that emotional control and they start to make much better decisions, but you have to put people in realistic environments. You can't just put on a gun and a badge. Head out and be law enforcement.
[00:16:39] And of course there's use of force in a lot of other factors, but it is that mental control that you learn to develop in connection with. And in nexus with your skills
[00:16:49] Curt Mercadante: in, in the book, you write about repetition and you write about scenario based training. And, and one of the interesting things, you know, I've worked with some folks who served in the military, and I know that they've done [00:17:00] things that I have never done from a physical, mental, emotional.
[00:17:05] Courageous point of view. But the interesting thing is some of them will say, well, I'm not fearful. I did. that was in that realm. But in your book, you write, you write about all the things you did from that, in that sort of thing, right? From a, from, from training firearms, all that, but you talked about actually the anxiety that builds if you had to confront someone in their review or in the office and you, you kind of bring it back in scenario based training and repetition is important for that too.
[00:17:35] And, and speaking, and training and, and doing that over and over again, do you. There are some people not just in law enforcement, but overall might do scenario based training when it comes to physicality. Maybe they they're in martial arts and they do it. But for whatever reason, they forget to apply it.
[00:17:49] If they're giving a talk
[00:17:51] Ron Ward: uh, absolutely. I just finished, I did eight hours of training in, uh, Clearwater beach, not a bad location. [00:18:00] um, and I was so impressed to see how people evolved as they were doing practice scenario. And we make it, uh, very realistic, but my problem occurred, I realized was an insecurity that I had, because if you read my book, I grew up in the, you know, the Appalachian mountains and, um, not a lot of culture.
[00:18:19] And, uh, didn't really, I wanted to play a college basketball or be a basketball coach. I didn't really push myself. It wasn't until later in life, uh, that I began to really, uh, focus and, and push myself. I, I, I really, uh, got into my faith and, um, in Christianity and, and just started thinking about who do I want to become.
[00:18:44] And, uh, it really set me on this course of just learning and growing. And I'm, I'm still doing that. And, um, I don't know. I. I think that's the issue is, is we stop or we don't try to grow. I, [00:19:00] I believe the answers are out there. We just have to find the answers and, um, you know, we can improve in every way in every area.
[00:19:09] I wanted to say one last thing about, you know, you mentioned, uh, the preface of my book is the night before I'm terminating someone and I laid there in bed. Twisting, turning. It's all true. I was so nervous and I fought the national champion, uh, in the finals. And I was, I think, more nervous in terminating this person.
[00:19:30] And, and I figured out what that was. I allowed that culture, the fact that I didn't go to an Ivy league school, I didn't have the same pedigree. I allowed that to get in my head and it caused me to be insecure. it's kind of like, who am I to go in and terminate this person? The government's invested all these hundreds of thousands of dollars in who am I to do this.
[00:19:54] And once I got a grasp of my own insecurity, my own journey and how I [00:20:00] got there, I went to work on it. And, uh, I was a different leader, uh, a few years later than I was the person who was stumbling my way through a termination. I can assure you. You
[00:20:13] Curt Mercadante: talk about that insecurity of where you came from and, and how that played out later in your career and at the beginning of your career and your faith.
[00:20:20] And, you know, when it comes to there, there are some folk who only focus on actions and maybe they'll only focus on their thoughts, but they don't go and attack the actual underlying beliefs. That's right. And so in order for you to get to the point where you took action, right? So there's some people who, who would.
[00:20:40] They don't even allow themselves permission to say, I want to be X. You, you said, use the words. I decide who do I want to be? There's some people who I want to be this, but I can't do that because I was only born in West Virginia. I want to learn martial arts, but I can't do that. I'm outta shape. I'm not tough.
[00:20:55] I'm not whatever. How did you get to the point and how, what advice do you [00:21:00] have to, for someone who's at that beginning level whose limiting beliefs are so strong that it doesn't even allow them to kind of identify or define who they want to. Before they can even take action. You kinda be like, where do I wanna go?
[00:21:13] Who do I wanna be? How did you get to that point where you're finally like, no, I'm gonna define this.
[00:21:19] Ron Ward: Yeah. Uh, for me, that's a two part answer. Number one is I got bullied badly. If you saw that in my book, I didn't even put all the bullying because I didn't wanna write a bullying book. And, um, I think I was fighting.
[00:21:33] I think I, I literally remember saying in my mind, after I'd gotten beaten up pretty bad. I'm gonna get to the point that no one can beat me now. I know that's unrealistic, but anger was a driving for force and hurt and pain. And I guess that old cliche, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Right.
[00:21:51] Um, I didn't wanna get beat up anymore. And I decided that I was gonna go to very high Heights in martial arts. Now what happened [00:22:00] is once I got into martial arts, I, I started loving the art. And the other thing is at some point, the. Uh, began to evolve and you you've seen UFC jujitsu boxing. So I ended up sparring with someone who took me to the ground and just dominated me.
[00:22:17] So I've always been a person that I want to grow and I want to increase. So I began to take jujitsu and then boxing and all these different things. But back to your question, I think that is the question that almost every human being has to ask themselves. People get either burned out or satisfied with medio.
[00:22:37] And I believe that we're created the greatness. There's something great. Whether you're a great father, mother, or coworker, there's something great for you to do. And sometimes I believe that we, that people get a little bit of motivation, then they set their sites way too high. In other words, I'm gonna run a marathon.
[00:22:56] Well, you haven't gotten off the couch in a year. [00:23:00] So I encourage people to start small, but I think you do have to hear from people such as yourself or someone who speaks into them or maybe encourages. Or they just really come to that point, that breaking point that I've gotta make a change, but we both know there are people that never make that change.
[00:23:20] And I hope that as leaders, genuine leaders continue to speak out, continue encourage, continue to help that people will start to take steps. The beauty of any of these things is progress is addict. When you begin to make progress, it, it reignites your passion to thrive and to be better and do better. So it's that little nudge that you just mentioned.
[00:23:47] If, if we can help people to take that nudge, they can improve and do great things.
[00:23:56] Curt Mercadante: my, uh, my Chiang instructor. He's I don't know. I don't know what the [00:24:00] word is, belted or whatever in like five different things, you know, and yeah, he's, he's taken me down with his pinky before, and there's a lot of redirection of energy that he does.
[00:24:09] It's amazing. Does Kung Fu shallow in, you know, and he, he came to my retreat and he, we did chigong sessions and he mentioned that 31 years ago, he had experienced abuse growing. He joined. He got into martial arts to learn to kick ass, but through the process, he learned more to control his emotions and redirect the energy in your case, it was being bullied.
[00:24:34] And it's interesting how often, and maybe I think this is just human nature often, and I can tell this on sales calls with potential clients, this person, the pain isn't big enough for this person to jump in the pain. Isn't yet big enough. I've actually, I've actually had people tell me. Curt in your book, you write that the pain has to be big enough and it's not there yet.
[00:24:55] And unfortunately I have to wait for the pain to get, and it's sad to watch sometimes when it's [00:25:00] like, you gotta wait for someone to get their butt kicked by a bully before they make a change. I, I guess that's just human nature, right?
[00:25:08] Ron Ward: uh, yeah, it is human nature and, and, you know, we have to, we have to do our part, but we can't carry that burden.
[00:25:17] If someone makes the choice. Uh, to continue down that path. We know where it leads. We know where the path leads and we can do as much as we can enlighten them, but there will always be human beings. You know, um, the graveyard is filled with unused potential and I don't wanna be, I don't wanna be in the dirt, uh, knowing that I did not accomplish things with the abilities that I have.
[00:25:43] Um, the martial arts, you mentioned something Bonai. Uh, when you talked about the horse riding stance, which is Chico dos, you, you, you triggered me because, uh, the bunkai is the hidden meaning behind kata. When you see these movements, it's the hidden meaning and they're so it's so [00:26:00] deep. And, um, when I began to realize that, uh, it, it took me to a new level in the way I thought.
[00:26:09] And the second thing. This Chico dosh or horse riding stance, we would hold that and throw punch after punch. And I remember an old Japanese instructor would always go, you know, 10% physical, 90% mental. And I'm like, obviously he does not fill the pain in my body. Right. Uh, this guy doesn't get it. I every.
[00:26:30] V being a, a or every part of my being is hurting. And all of a sudden I was, I was in this situation, we were in an all day clinic and I mean, it was brutal. And I was at this point that I literally thought I'm gonna have to make up something like, I need to throw up or something because you can't just walk out.
[00:26:55] And I had students there, but I did. Conceive how I could [00:27:00] do one more thing. That's how bad I was hurting. And I was a black belt. So it was more intense for black belts. When you were sparring, you were sparring other black belts, not white belts at that time. So this day was crucial in, in my world and they, we were holding the Chico Dodge or, or horse riding stance.
[00:27:19] They had a bamboo stick. Japanese instructor would hit you if you started to raise and. I said, I just can't do this anymore. And all of a sudden something in my brain said, just do one more. So I threw one more kick and I kept saying, do one more. And that moment, that epiphany, that aha moment came. This is mental.
[00:27:41] Now my body's given up, this is all mental. And I went through another two hours of training after that moment. When I absolutely did not think I could do another minute. And it was a turning point in my life. It was a turning point in my [00:28:00] martial arts. I began to win and win big, but I also began my students began to win.
[00:28:06] And, uh, that was very important, but I started understanding almost everything we do. Curt is that strong mental exercise. It was a huge moment for.
[00:28:17] Curt Mercadante: I don't have you read da, uh, David Goggin's book? Um, oh yeah. Can you know, and what is it? 40%. I think he says 40%, most people that you were at without realizing it, when you were ready to throw up, you might have been at 40 or 50% and you didn't realize it until you got to the other side of it.
[00:28:32] No, it's,
[00:28:33] Ron Ward: that's exactly right. Yeah. It's it's true. And then later how that come into play is I had the flu we'd just started, we'd moved the academy to the federal law enforcement training center. We had a two week safety instructor. The other primary instructor had to have emergency knee surgery. I had one person coming from Hawaii.
[00:28:51] This was in my book and I had to teach one week, the first three days with full blown flu. And I would [00:29:00] go lay in the corner, drink Gatorade, sip on a or nap, literally nap for 15 minutes. And he would tap me on the shoulder. I had to tell everyone I have the flu. You can, you can go home and we'll reschedule or you can stay.
[00:29:10] They flew from all over the. and I made it through that and I don't think I could have had I not had that mental discipline that I had learned all those years in martial arts.
[00:29:22] Curt Mercadante: There was a, there was a number of things that you write about in the book growing up and you, some of 'em you've mentioned here that helped built that mental discipline, martial arts, uh, you know, you talk about basketball boxing and a number of other items and, and just growing up where you grew up, right.
[00:29:36] It took discipline to get outta there. Yeah. You mentioned being, and you were a deputy sheriff at one point. Can you describe the trajectory? Cuz I think it's always important for people to hear that Ron Moore didn't just wake up one day with his own business and he didn't just wake up one day training law enforcement professionals from around the world.
[00:29:56] You came from the small town in West Virginia. You were a deputy sheriff. You were, [00:30:00] uh, you, you worked for your church for a. What was that trajectory from there, from West Virginia to where you are now training law enforcement professionals around the country to help keep us safe.
[00:30:14] Ron Ward: Only because of my Virginia friends, it was a rural part of Virginia on the West Virginia line.
[00:30:19] So when they listened, they won't, uh, think that I, uh, dis our little small region it's right on the West Virginia line in Virginia. Um, Curt. I don't know if I understand, I I've always been driven and, you know, we, we will always have the nature versus nurture talk, but I also think I had some pride that, um, I've had to work on.
[00:30:44] Um, when I early in martial arts, I just didn't wanna get beat. I wanted to, I, one of the biggest trophy. And, uh, the reason I tell people to get a mentor is they will help lead you. I'm I'm coaching a 22 year old right now. And, um, [00:31:00] it's very interesting because it's not that they. Their thoughts are wrong.
[00:31:04] They just haven't evolved because I think of the way I thought when I was 22 and where age comes in, but I do think I was driven, but at some point I began to have effective leaders speak into my life and, um, they may not know all the, the cool lingo. You know, they may not communicate well with say gen Z the 20 something year olds, but they will give good steady guidance and they will give you compassion when you need it.
[00:31:34] There's a few times, there's times in all of our lives, when we need someone to put their arm around us and say, Hey, I got you. I got your back. And we call it sixes because of six o'clock, you know, on the, when you're. uh, police officer, you're constantly checking your six and that's what we would say to each other.
[00:31:52] I got your six and sometimes that's very important to know that someone has your six, none of us have it all together. I still don't [00:32:00] by the way. It, it sounds great. When you, when you speak about some of these things that I've done and law enforcement and all that, but I'm just me. Uh, but I worked really hard.
[00:32:09] I decided I wanted to reach. A higher level. I wanted to reach my potential and, uh, a lot of great people surrounded me. A lot of people helped me and then I began to mature. And there's something about, you know, that gray that I see there in your beard, uh, that is invaluable. And, uh, we, we have to have those wise people and that's why you do the conferences.
[00:32:35] And that's why I go out and train and, and talk to people. We all need it. And. Things evolve and change. If we allow it to
[00:32:44] Curt Mercadante: you, you mentioned that word pride and, and pride. Maybe keeping you from doing some things and, and, and holding you back. But in your book, you also talk about when people go into interviews in the interview process, and that's the time not to not to hide from your accomplishments.
[00:32:58] Yeah. And, and, and share it. [00:33:00] Right. You're, you're, you're, you're selling yourself and all that. If you look on, you know, in this day and age of social media and you look on LinkedIn, it's, it's, it's interesting that. sometimes the, the people who are most successful strike that balance between I have to share what I do and the impact I have, but you can tell it doesn't come from a place of pride and ego.
[00:33:21] Um, and then there's people who just me, me, me, me, and you tell it's all pride and ego, but then there's other people who it's like, you gotta talk about more, what you do. Like I don't, if I had money to give you, I don't even know what you do. So where, where do you think that balance is? You know, how have you learned that balance between the pride and the ego, but.
[00:33:39] Hey, I've done some things here. If, if people don't know about it, I gotta share it, but it's not selfish to do
[00:33:44] Ron Ward: so. A moment of vulnerability here, one time, uh, I have always been, I've got a lot of flaws, but I do love to see people succeed. Like if I, I look at your LinkedIn and I've seen the growth. Lake.[00:34:00]
[00:34:00] And I feel like you got a message that needs to be heard for sure. I celebrate you. We don't even know each other that well, but I'm like, yeah. And I try to, like, if you've noticed I'll like, or comment or whatever. So I, I do love to see people succeed, but there was a, a moment at the academy. We, we had first gotten there and we had students in the room.
[00:34:21] So the students want to know why you are an instructor. Like you have to have some credibility or street cred, like why is this person teaching me? So they asked me my background. I said, I qualified for the us Crady team. I've taught defensive tactics around the country. I, then I began to say what some of the other instructors had done.
[00:34:43] I was very proud of it. So there was, uh, someone new made the comment. Ron told him he was on the us karate team. And in that moment, I. I really felt that he missed a point. He really missed a point at that point in my [00:35:00] life. Uh, I wanted the students to see we are the best of the best and that's who you're getting trained by.
[00:35:07] And you're gonna be great when you leave this academy. Now I could have just not said anything or I don't know why I'm here, but I did know why I was there. And of course, you know, this, my skill level was much higher than theirs and we got them where they needed to be, but this person was insecure. This was someone who I think was a little jealous, uh, to begin with, but it really frustrated me.
[00:35:31] And I explained, uh, to him, uh, once I found out, by the way, he did not have the nerve to say that to me, of course said it to other people. So I confronted him and I said, I did say that I was on the credit team because I want our students to know that we have the best instructors in the country. Right.
[00:35:49] And, uh, I would not wanna be, I would not wanna place all my trust and care in, in someone. If it, it deals with firearms and defensive tactics. If I didn't know, they're really good, that's my [00:36:00] reasoning. Take it or leave it. And if the next class asks me, I'll tell 'em the same thing. So real life situation.
[00:36:11] Curt Mercadante: one thing that I, that I love in your book. And you, you hinted at it here. You touched upon it. I'm kind of a Nur, a behaviors nerd. And I, and I love this, this type of stuff. And my wife says speech language pathologist. So she's also gotten me so curious about it, how people develop, how people learn. And you mentioned earlier, uh, some people are kinesthetic learners.
[00:36:31] Mm-hmm uh, and in your book you outline the different types of learning that people have and behavior styles. I think it's important, not only from anyone who's teaching others or presenting to others, but also. For an individual to put them, you know, that, that bit of self awareness of how can I put myself in the best possible situation to learn, uh, and understand how I learn best.
[00:36:54] Can you go into more of those learning styles? I know you mentioned the, the kinesthetic and what that is, but, but some of the others, [00:37:00] yeah. I nerd out on this stuff. So
[00:37:01] Ron Ward: yeah, some of, some of the things that I teach is communication and I use some of the practical communications, you know, from passive aggressive to generic.
[00:37:10] And I try. Give a little bit of background information, especially passive aggressive. We know what it means. They don't quite have the courage to say what they want to say. So they're gonna do it in a passive aggressive way. Like I use example, you show someone a house you bought and they say, oh, that's a good starter home.
[00:37:28] And, uh, you, you know what you got there, but, um, I think to be effecti. And, and I'm gonna speak to managers here for a minute. I, I, um, to be effective, you have to know your people. I tell everyone, you have to know yourself, get a PhD in you. That's my most popular catch phrase that people repeat back to me and, uh, get a master's degree in your staff.
[00:37:51] And, uh, I say that because Curt, if you and I communicate in a completely different way, and you're my manager, Uh, you know, [00:38:00] you may use analytical communication and I'm just not getting it. And maybe I'm spatial. Like you have, you know, the various types of thinkers and maybe I'm spatial. It takes me a while to think things through, but you want an immediate answer.
[00:38:14] So these things are kind of, uh, on a collision course. So as we begin to understand each other, um, I believe that it, it, it's gonna strengthen, you know, not only friendships relationships. You mentioned your wife, I'm sure you know, the right things to say to her. And, uh, and she understands the same with you, whereas you probably know her hot buttons.
[00:38:39] You probably could say something, not that you ever would Curt, but, uh, you, you might have let something slip before that didn't go over well, but sometimes it really is the style of communication. And if someone is not receiving, you know, as the old saying, if they're not getting what we're laying down, Uh, it doesn't matter.
[00:38:59] None of it matters. [00:39:00] So I I've bounced around a little bit, but, but it's because I've got so much information where I've studied communication so much, but the other thing is we talk about active and empathetic listening, and I have scenarios that will kinda, you have to move back and forth between those two.
[00:39:15] But I learned there's a higher level of listening. I, if I'm talking, if you're talking to me right now and I actually give you the eye contact and I respond. I say, so what you're saying, I am absolutely showing you that I'm deliberate, I'm listening, I'm understanding, which is a higher level than just listening.
[00:39:36] So I take people through this whole process, but again, I make sure that the kinesthetic learners, uh, have some way that they can evolve and they can understand what I'm saying. And I wanted to say a last thing, and I know, you know, this. The power of a good story will cross. It will catch those visual learners, those auditory learners, [00:40:00] there's kinesthetic learners.
[00:40:01] It's that one ingredient that just combine them all and help people remember and relate. So I'll tell everyone be a good storyteller. If you're gonna be a good, uh, presenter and a good coach.
[00:40:13] Curt Mercadante: Ha have you I'm you know, maybe you've run across more than more than a lot. uh, for instance, managers. Who fall into the trap of, they're just not getting it.
[00:40:25] They need to get it. I don't have the time. You know, I need people who just come in and get it. And it's very skilled people who might be engineers, who might be analytical, who might be very good at building a product, but they're hearing something maybe much different. Then the manager thinks they're saying if that makes sense based on their learning style.
[00:40:47] Absolutely. How, how do you get the manager to understand it's in his or her best interest to not just say, well, they, they either get it or they don't .
[00:40:57] Ron Ward: Yeah. One of the things that, that I teach [00:41:00] this is my full, robust eight hour training or a day and a half training is the perception gap. And. I have, I use a story about a CEO who walks in his team, you know, they're, they're, they've not met their quota on sell.
[00:41:17] So he gives 'em this rally cry. Come on, you've done it before you did it last month. I know you guys can do it. We gotta meet that quota. And it just so happens when everyone leaves the room. About two weeks later, they had a 360 review, um, and they are. Uh, writing about him and it was all that he doesn't care about anybody.
[00:41:40] He only thinks about money. Um, you know, he, he doesn't have any compassion. He doesn't have any empathy. So he reads this he's stunted. He thinks he's coach of the year. And yet his employees think he's terrible and doesn't care about them. So I began to talk [00:42:00] about ways that we can narrow that gap. The overreaching theme.
[00:42:05] I read a survey where a thousand employees were surveyed and they said, what's the one word, one word that you want from your manager. And that was trust. Now when they interviewed a thousand managers, given advice to each other, theirs was adaptability, but going back to trust. you gotta, you gotta start to be, you know, show that you're reliable and consistent and, and, uh, trustworthy, competent.
[00:42:33] All of these things build trust and it narrows that gap. I use the illustration. If you have, if you had a, a surgeon, do you want 'em to operate from across the room or next to bed? And, um, we, we don't wanna get too close to our employees, but we certainly need to understand. How they communicate now, I use the general social chart.
[00:42:55] I know that Myers Briggs are 16 types of communication. You can get so technical on this [00:43:00] stuff, but I use the expressive, the driver, the amiable, and the analytical, and I have found. most people. Now this is a Huey level view. Of course you can get real specific with people. But generally speaking, if we understand someone's general personality, we can talk to them more.
[00:43:19] If I'm talking to someone driven, I want to reflect the vision and where we're heading, you know, uh, I have to give you some feedback, but here's where it's gonna get us. They love that because they got drive. You tell the same thing to someone that's amiable. They may be laid back and not really care. So I'm gonna speak in a different way to those people that have that different personality type.
[00:43:43] And you can only do that through getting to know your staff. Um, so. it's a long answer. I'm sorry. But, um, there's a lot, there's a lot to unpack when you start talking about communication and it's so interesting when you talked about Googling leadership, Google communication, [00:44:00] it's all over the place and people still can't communicate.
[00:44:02] Curt Mercadante: it's unbelievable. I love, I love the, the, the, you know, the term perception gap, because it's, it's that way I'm communicating clearly another person's like I have no, I somewhere there's a gap. The, a story. I, I, I tell that that really exacerbates it. but then you bring it back and you're like, people are like, wait, no, that applies to here is this was 22 years ago, 20 years ago.
[00:44:25] I don't know I was on a political campaign and the guy, the driver for the candidate and the candidate was like a type, a very, very, just kind of, most of them are, but, but you know, didn't seem to. Have any empathy or, or care about other people's perceptions. But in this case, his driver was a guy who was happened to be on the spectrum.
[00:44:49] So you had to be very specific about the things you said. And so it's always taught me, especially with kids. I have to be very specific because that [00:45:00] perception, you never know where it's at. In this case, we're sitting in the campaign office and the phone rings and Charlie, the campaign manager. And I could tell by the tone of.
[00:45:08] It's the candidate. And I can hear the candidate yelling across the room. Over the phone. Yes. Yes. Okay. Yes. Okay. Well, I'm sorry, what specifically did you tell him? No, no, no. I want the specific words you said. Well, he hung up the phone. It turns out this is what happened. The car was low on gas. They got to the campaign event.
[00:45:31] He handed the keys to the driver and said, go put some gas in the. The key word is some, he took it to the gas station and went, came back, put some gas in the car. And I don't know, 20 minutes later, they were stuck on the highway. he ran outta gas, but it's like, what specific words did you use now in that case?
[00:45:53] It's far out, but I tell that story and people laugh and they're like, well, no, that's actually happening to me right now in my workplace. [00:46:00] And so you never know where that perception gap is based on the other person's style.
[00:46:05] Ron Ward: You're right. And Curt, I. Just to kind of, um, continue on with this point. I teach, uh, the basics of body language.
[00:46:14] Like, uh, the go Gollum has become very important because of all the virtual things. Um, so, uh, I jokingly, I bring someone up and I give them different cards with different body language, but I start from kind of the head up and, you know, the Gobel and this little area. Right here. And, uh, we, we talk about body language, but this actually happened to me.
[00:46:37] I had an employee was upset with me and, uh, ended up having a discussion. And the employee said, well, I knew you were angry with me. And I said, whoa, whoa, whoa, I wasn't angry with you. And, um, He said, yeah, you were glaring. And I said, what do you mean? He said, you were like this. He brought my Gella. He didn't know what a [00:47:00] Goum was, but he brought it in the go global I'm struggling.
[00:47:04] Uh, so I realized when I concentrate, like if you're saying something very intent, I'm like this I'm listening. That's what I was doing, but he interpreted that I was angry. And, uh, so we, we had to narrow the gap there on that perception gap, because I was not angry. I was listening, but those are things that happen.
[00:47:27] One more quick thing. I do this for fun. Is I put text messages on the, uh, the screen. Now this sends sounds simplistic, but people really glean information from this. So let's say, Curt, you and I are gonna go to lunch. You're back in Charleston, like you should be. And, uh, , uh, we're gonna have lunch and, and I, I send you a text and, and there's a story in my book that you may or may not remember, but it was about a manager that says, can you all meet tomorrow to five employees?
[00:47:58] So what I do is I say, [00:48:00] Uh, and it's on the screen. We have this pre-planned, but I say, Hey, Curt, you wanna go to lunch? And then you respond like, sure, what are you thinking? Uh, and I name off a restaurant and we go back and forth and we finally settle on a time. It usually takes about 20 text messages to do that.
[00:48:18] And I show how you can lead conversations where if I said, Hey, Curt, How about we meet for lunch tomorrow at Hall's chop house at noon, downtown Charleston, chances are you will respond with specifics because I led you in that direction. And if I don't lead you, chances are you will just do what I'm doing.
[00:48:42] Uh, this all happened for me when I had a friend who uses talk to. In other words, there are voices on there instead of the text message. So I never do that. I never do it. He goes, Hey, ma'am what are you doing? You wanna play some guitar later? I immediately press [00:49:00] that button and I go, sure, what time you wanna play guitar?
[00:49:03] I did the exact same thing he did, even though I never do it. So, uh, we, there are so many ways that we can lead and we can be more efficient, more effective, just takes practice and willingness.
[00:49:16] Curt Mercadante: It's. I remember I used the voice to text once without knowing it. I accidentally pressed it and sent a client. I had sent, oh, actually, you know what?
[00:49:24] I had sent him a voice to text. I did send him it and I voiced it cuz my kids were there. And I think my BA I was holding my baby. And so I used the voice to text, forgot to take my finger off and said to my wife, be there, be right there. Honey. Love you. but my client gets, this gets a voice text ending with be right there.
[00:49:42] Love you. And he's. I love you too.
[00:49:46] Ron Ward: you never send me any of those messages, Curt. Yeah, right?
[00:49:49] Curt Mercadante: Yeah. Oh, well, Ron, I've really appreciated this final question for you. There's so many positive things in your book. So many positive lessons, [00:50:00] uh, so many, um, uh, stories, great stories, not only in relation to your journey, but how people can grow personally, professionally, but also as leaders, managing teams, leading teams.
[00:50:12] So why does it have such a negative name? What, what, why is your book called? Some people may be wondering this. Can you explain the dirty side of leader?
[00:50:21] Ron Ward: I think that's a great question. Uh, I know it would sell more books, Curt. I mean, what , I'm kidding. Um, if you really look at all the challenges in my life, there was a dirty site to that, and then it evolves.
[00:50:36] And toward the end of the book, I began to show how human behavior so bizarre and how you have to build the courage to stand up for yourself. And, uh, I do think that is, um, the, you know, The hard work that you have to put in and the growth and the maturity and things like that, it, it can be dirty. Uh, and I, I think so many, I love the great [00:51:00] gurus and I receive a lot, but I'm just saying that.
[00:51:02] Sometimes they all have this wonderful, happy ending. And, uh, it's this wonderful thing that you use, these five steps and everyone improves your team rallies and it, and it all goes. But I show in there I had conflict, you know, I did the traditional conflict resolution. I'm so proud of myself. And these two employees kind of shake hands proverbial.
[00:51:24] You know, they shook hands. They, they go away two weeks later, they've gotta blow up bigger than the first. . And so finally I realized I had to set boundaries and I literally had to say, there's gonna be personnel action. So those stories are interlaced in tragedy. So I did want people to see there is a dirty side of leadership and you can win.
[00:51:46] But don't expect that you're gonna graduate college. You're gonna get the job of your dreams. You're gonna marry the person of your dreams. You're not gonna have any problems. You're gonna be this great leader of a company, and everyone's gonna do exactly what you say, cuz you [00:52:00] are such a great leader. I'm sure they're gonna do so, you know, you get the point.
[00:52:04] I, I did want people you're right. It is a positive book, but it's a positive because I was able to wash the dirt off and I was able to overcome those hurdles and obstacles that all people face and they're coming. But I do think we can equip ourselves to, to thrive and be successful and be the best we can be.
[00:52:24] We're human. It's just the best we can.
[00:52:28] Curt Mercadante: Well, anyone listening, watching can get the book at Ron's website. Well, it's available on Amazon, but you can also just go to his website. Anyways, learn more about him. Learn how to work with him forward operations. It's the Le uh, the number four. Not spelled out, not, not the, not spelled out.
[00:52:43] Just the number four forward operations.com. You can get the book, you can learn more about Ron, learn what he's doing, hire him, uh, bring him into your organization, work with him on the career, coaching, everything he does. Ron ward. I want to thank you so much for being on the freedom media network
[00:52:58] Ron Ward: today.
[00:52:58] Kirk. Thank you. [00:53:00] I appreciate everything you do. Keep up the good work,
[00:53:02] Curt Mercadante: likewise. And again, if you haven't already done. So take out that smartphone text Freeman to five, five, six, seven, eight. Cause I wanna send you my free freedom lifestyle audio course. This has been another amazing interview on the freedom media network podcast.
[00:53:15] Thanks so much for listening.