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#34: Dr. Scott Geller at NSC 2019

September 9, 2019 | 50 minutes 51 seconds

Vivid Learning Systems Chief Safety Officer and podcast host sits down with Dr. Scott Geller live on the expo floor from the 2019 NSC Expo.

Links and Show Notes

AC4P - Actively Caring for People | https://activelycaringpeople.org

Transcript

Jill:

This is the Accidental Safety Pro, live at the 2019 National Safety Congress and Expo in lovely San Diego. My name is Jill James, Vivid's Chief Safety Officer, and today I'm joined by Dr. Scott Geller, who is a distinguished professor of psychology at Virginia Tech, who just started his 50th year. Welcome to the program.

Scott:

Thank you, Jill. It's great to be here.

Jill:

You and I were supposed to have a third person with us today. Charlie Morecraft was going to join us for the second time on the podcast, and Charlie is a bit under the weather, so sending out our positive energy to Charlie today.

Scott:

Yes, we are. Perhaps some of the listeners will know that Charlie and I gave a keynote address that this conference for 10 consecutive years. Charlie would go first, and he would tell his story. Many people know Charlie's story, and he tells what happened to him. By the way, the safety professors in the room, they're sitting on the edge of their seats-

Jill:

Yes they are.

Scott:

... as they hear Charlie explain how one little incident resulted in serious consequences for him. So he spends an hour telling his story, getting people all emotional, and then he says, "By the way folks, that's why. That's why we're here. That's why we're here, to prevent others from doing what I did, and now I want to introduce you to Scott Geller, who's the psychologist, to tell us how. Now that we know why we're here, what are we going to do about it?"

I spent an hour talking about how, and I start up my conversation by saying, "How do you feel? How do you feel?" I can see it in their faces. They're teary eyed. He said, "Don't forget that, because that's why you're here," and sometimes we don't hear that enough, because safety is all about proactive. Prevent it before it happens. And we don't get enough recognition for the proactive things we do.

Scott:

It's when the incident, the injury happens-

Jill:

Something [crosstalk 00:02:15]

Scott:

... then we get all kinds of attention, and that's what Charlie reminded us. He'd tell us what it's like when it happens, but being proactive, we get to prevent things happening, like what happened to Charlie. So we get them. Then I say emotion is a motivation. When you're emotional, you're motivated. Let's talk about what we do about that motivation.

Jill:

What a gift to an audience, to be able to hear both of you, and for you to be able to help an audience process what they've just been through, because it is an experience to listen to him, and then to follow up with the science part of it. When it comes to this podcast, the Accidental Safety Pro, everyone tells their story about how it is that safety found them, or they found safety.

So, I'm interested if you could share your story about how did you become the scientist that you are, to be able to partner with Charlie all those years?

Scott:

That's a fun question. Well, I'm a psychologist. I started in cognitive psychology, and for several years studying cognitive psychology, and then I realized I'm not making a difference. I'm publishing in academic journals, and people in the academic field, but what about the public? What about the real people? So then I started thinking about behavioral psychology.

The application of behavioral science to improve human welfare. And I started with safety belt motivation. We're talking about the '80s, or the mid '70s. People were not buckling up. Only about 20% or less of the population wore safety belts. The safety director of Ford Motor Company at the time was Dale Gray And he called me up about 1979 and he said, "Scott, you've got to help us to get our people to wear safety belts, because if we don't wear safety belts, we're going to have to put airbags in cars, and airbags are going to cause injuries. An airbag is not as protective as a safety belt."

That's how we started, and that was the beginning of behavior based safety.

Jill:

How did he find you?

Scott:

In those days, I was doing safety belt research, and I had some grant money, and I was trying to convince the government, Department of Transportation, National Traffic Safety Administration, that we could use positive consequences, so they were all in to pass a law and enforce it. Negative consequences. But we were trying to show them that people feel better working for positive consequences than working to avoid a negative consequence.

We got some media attention, and he found my name and he gave me a call.

Jill:

That's crazy.

Scott:

He said, "Scott," and then would I travel around to 313 different facilities and talk about a behavioral approach. We had their workers out in the parking lot, measuring safety belt use of their workers as they left the parking lot, and it was 10%. Then we set up programs to motivate positive. If you're buckled up, you'll get a bingo card, and we're going to play bingo. Just small tokens of appreciation. Increased it to beyond 60%.

Jill:

I feel like I experienced the reverberating effects of your work in the '70s. When I got my first internship as an undergrad, I did a safety internship. I have a Community Health Education as my undergrad degree. But I picked safety, because I thought no one else would want to do it, and so I worked for the Department of Transportation. And the first campaign they had me work on was on seatbelt use, and this was in the early '90s.

And at that time, there was this video that was circulating around. I bet you remember it. It's called Room to Live.

Scott:

Oh, sure.

Jill:

I remember talking about that at the time. Was that your foray into workplace safety and community safety?

Scott:

Then I started to come to safety conferences. I'd sit and listen to these presenters, and I was so disturbed. I was so disturbed, because it's think safety, and it's all about working to avoid failure rather than success seeking, so I started to think, people have to learn the psychology of safety, the human dynamics of safety, the psychology of experience.

I went in and I started to give keynotes, starting at ASSE back in the late '80s, and I'd been a regular here at NSE, and my first significant book in this field was called The Psychology of Safety, published in 1996. The line out for people to get this, because it was a new thing, never thought about the psychology of safety.

And of course, as you indicated, I've been doing this for 50 years, and it's very reinforcing, because people need to know the human dynamics of injury prevention.

Jill:

So when you were starting with that, and you were starting to talk about that aspect of safety that no one has ever spoken about before, what sort of tangible things were you asking people to try? You're a scientist, so I'm guessing you were giving people ideas about try to do this, this, and this.

Scott:

Get behavioral, for one thing. Talk about behavior. For example, have a session and ask people, "What have you done for safety?" We call it the safety share. Last week, what have you done for safety? Someone would raise their hand. "I didn't get hurt." That doesn't count. What have you done? But that's how we keep score.

Scott:

Notice organizations, who gets the best safety award? The one who had the fewest injuries. In those days, we gave prizes to workers who didn't have an injury. In fact, they ran lotteries, talk about an accident. An accident is something you can't control. I don't like the word accident.

Jill:

I don't like the word accident either.

Scott:

We call it an injury. But the point is in those days, some companies still do this, you get a prize if you don't have an injury, guess what that does?

Jill:

Yeah, under reporting.

Scott:

Under reporting. And if you-

Jill:

That's why [OSHA 00:08:21] doesn't like that whole idea.

Scott:

Exactly. And going further with this, what I saw is, these people whose safety we are talking about accident investigation, to find the root cause. You kidding me? See as a psychologist, I know you don't find root cause or as a scientist you don't find root cause from an interview with the talking to people. You have to manipulate an independent variable, look at its effect on a dependent variable and then make sure that other [00:08:50] factors aren't, you can't go cause and effect this not what it's about. And the word investigation.

What's that sound like?

Jill:

Punitive.

Scott:

Yes, punitive. And that's how safety was. And it's getting much better now. People don't... I wish they would use the word injury analysis. And I wish they just... It's not an accident and it's not an investigation. We're not looking to find the root cause, I ask audiences, "How many why's do you ask to find the root cause?" And they all raise their hand and they say, "Five."

Jill:

Oh, five.

Scott:

Where'd that come from? It's too much common sense. Too much bad science. That's BS, right?

Jill:

Yes.

Scott:

Bad science. I mean, as a scientist I don't want to teach somebody something to do, unless I know it's true. So we call it contributing factor-

Jill:

Right, because everything is multifactorial. Anything in life is multifactorial.

Scott:

Yes. And how do you find those things? People have to talk about it.

Jill:

Right.

Scott:

But we stifled that conversation. If we reward, if you don't have an injury, if we call it an investigation, if we say we're going to find a root cause, guess what? The root cause they're going to look at me because I was the one who was injured. So I must be the root cause. I mean that's the interpretation people make and it comes from language.

Jill:

Right. Our biggest job is to make people feel safe, to be able to speak and to be able to share and to speak their truth about whatever it was or multiple things that occurred to get there.

Scott:

And guess what Jill, who knows? Who knows where the risks are, who knows who's taking risky behavior? And by the way, it's not necessarily, they just weren't thinking. Who knows who's not paying attention. The workers do, the safety supervisor or they don't know. But in the past, they used to be the ones who would give them training meetings, and would give them the discussions and try to top down. It was top down. It's got to be bottom up.

Jill:

Absolutely. It's the most powerful questions to ask from, show me your job, explain your job to me. Yeah, something that I did a lot when I was with OSHA for a number of years as an investigator and you're supposed to do these interviews.

Scott:

See? Investigator.

Jill:

Yeah, right? I'm an investigator.

Scott:

You're an investigator.

Jill:

And so, I thought, "Gosh, how am I going to find out about what really is happening here? How am I going to find out about what's really happening here? I have to ask the people about their work and how do you do this work and make them feel comfortable?" And what sticks in my mind is a particular investigation I was doing. There was a complaint that alleged employees were having to stand. It was a giant place that ground up tires, giant tires, tractor tires. And they would shred them and turn them into beds that cows would lay on. And so this hopper, that's as huge as where we are right now, that these tires would go into. And the allegation was that it didn't get locked up ever when it got jammed.

And so I was going around this place trying to make people feel safe to talk with me, just so I could find out what was happening, and I couldn't come up with anything. And so I'm leaving this investigation with nothing and I'm feeling like there must be something happening here. And I'm driving my state vehicle away slowly from this place and out of the bushes, literally out of the bushes of this company, this man comes up to the window of my car and knocks on the window and says, "Can we talk to you? Because bad things are happening here. And I said, "Absolutely." They said, "Could you meet us at the Burger King tonight after work?" All these employees showed up to tell me what was happening.

Scott:

Unbelievable.

Jill:

But you have to make them feel safe to be able to do that, right?

Scott:

But that was the issue Jill, that's exactly our problem. We have a culture where it's driven underground and it's all about how the leaders talk, and it's all about how you keep score. Who gets the safety award? The one with the fewest injuries. Whose the safety leader of the month? Who's that had the fewest injuries is how we talk. Here's a word we have to talk about. Empathy.

Jill:

Yes.

Scott:

Empathy-

Jill:

What is that... yeah, please.

Scott:

Well, empathy means I need to find out, like you said, where's the other person coming from? When you have an injury and you talk to the injured person or it's just a near hit or they call near miss, bad word. Two airplanes were flying, had a near miss, means they hit. We call it the good catch. But you know, report those things. But when you talk about it, you have to try to find out from the other person why it happened. That takes empathy. It's not the golden rule. You know what the golden rule is, right?

Jill:

To do unto others.

Scott:

As you would have them do. It's the platinum rule, it's you treat others as they want to be treated. That takes empathy. If you think about it, treating others like you want to be treated, no, it's how they want to be treated. And a leader, practices empathy. A safety leader, practices empathy.

Jill:

So how do you teach that when you're doing your work for people who aren't maybe just kind of wired that way already? How do you do that, and is that part of what you do with your work now called active caring?

Scott:

Actively chairing for people.

Jill:

Yeah. Is that teaching empathy?

Scott:

We'll, absolutely. In fact, the technical word, interesting. Let me backtrack.

Jill:

Yes.

Scott:

I was a behaviorist, remember, applied behavioral science and behavioral based safety was based on applied behavioral science. Then I saw some of the consultants misinterpreting it thinking it's only behavior. And then in fact the engineers counting up at risk behaviors, and safe behavior and get in a formula percent safe and then comparing different departments, I mean, that's better than nothing. But, it's missing the human part. It's missing empathy. It's missing, here's the word from psychology, humanism. It's missing humanism. So, I wrote several books called people based safety and some companies now using that term.

Then recently we moved to actively caring. Now think about actively caring, active behavior, caring humanism. So the technical word is humanistic behaviors.

Jill:

Okay, break that down.

Scott:

Humanistic behaviors. There were certain principles in humanistic psychology that behaviorist need to practice. In fact, I'm doing keynote speeches now at psychology conference and that's my topic, it's humanistic behaviorism. I'll give you an example. We just said one empathy. The humanist is empathic. For example, you see behavior and you define it as that's at risk behavior, or you see two people fighting in a parking lot and you say, "That's aggression." How do you know? What are their intentions? The humanist wants to know, they could just be horseplay.

And in fact, some of your listeners might have been in situations where you horseplay, just fooling around and then somebody gets hurt and it turns into aggression. But the behavior looks the same. What changed? Intention-

Jill:

The intention. Sure.

Scott:

So, intention is what the humanist bring to the game as well as empathy. Find out, what were your intentions? I don't think you met to get hurt. So why did you take that risk? And that's how you find the contributing factors-

Jill:

Make that choice.

Scott:

... by the way. Well, there are behavioral factors. I saw other people doing it. It's a norm around here. It's a descriptive... You call out a descriptive norm with whatever. It's the way we do things.

Jill:

It was only going to take 10 seconds.

Scott:

There you go. And matter of fact, the boss gave me the impression that he wanted the job done right now. He empowered me. You know what empowering means to some people? Get it done, with fewer resources.

Jill:

Dangerous, dangerously[crosstalk 00:17:05].

Scott:

But now the humanist talks about empathy and empowerment in a different way. Empowerment means one, I know how to do it. We call it self efficacy. I believe, notice believe, behaviorists [inaudible 00:17:20] this is what they see. Humanist, what do you believe you can do? Second, do you believe it will work? So if I teach you a safety process, you might be able to do it through training. But now I need to educate you, showing you data that this response, this process will work. That's education. Is there a difference between training and education?

Jill:

Yes.

Scott:

Yes. I asked my audiences, "Would you rather have your kids get sex training or sex education?" They laugh and they, "Oh, education-"

Jill:

Why the 17 year old and definitely education.

Scott:

[crosstalk 00:17:57] go, though you know the difference. Training is behavior and feedback. But education is important too. We need to know the rationale behind the process. Okay, so we've got self efficacy. We have response efficacy and then we have outcome expectancy. This is the motivation that is, is it worth it? So I can do it and I think it will work. All these extra things, is it worth doing? Consequences. What will the consequences be? Can you convince me that it's worth putting my cell phone in the back seat while I drive?

Jill:

So that third thing is that where we get into, okay, so the trench has been dug, it's not dug very well. It's not sloped appropriately. The job is going to take me a minute tops to do that. I can see this isn't right. I know I'm pushed for a deadline. How do you apply that? That's that behavior-

Scott:

Absolutely.

Jill:

You want them to make the right decision for themselves at that time. So how are you training on that [inaudible 00:19:03]? The empowerment.

Scott:

Well, let's talk about motivate-

Jill:

The motivation, yes.

Scott:

We'll talk about.. With empowerment, they know how to dig the ditch safely. Now let's assume they did that, okay? And they believe that digging the ditch safely is going to prevent injuries. But they're in a hurry. They want to get to the break room or the boss said, "Let's go guys, it's all about production-"

Jill:

The traffic is waiting.

Scott:

So they take a shortcut. The motivation part is the consequence part. What am I doing this for? Let's talk about texting. Big issue is texting. Let's face it. We know how to put our cell phone in the back seat or how to... We know how to drive without the cell phone, we know not to be tempted to pick it up. And we'd also believe that it would work. That if people stopped texting while driving, we'd have fewer crashes, not accidents, by the way, crushes on the highway. But why don't we do it? Because it won't happen to me.

Jill:

That's right.

Scott:

And besides, I'm in a hurry and I've gotten windshield time. This is my opportunities sitting at the stoplight to check up on my email. So that's the critical one. So we have training, education, and motivation. If you say yes to those three, I can do it. It will work. And it is worth it. You feel empowered. Now that's back to humanism. Behaviorists don't talk about feelings. Humanists do. But we put the two together. By the way, humanism alone is not enough. We have to get behavioral and we have to use consequences to motivate that behavior. So we're calling it humanistic behaviorism or actively caring.

Jill:

Sure. And so how do you get people... While you've been talking about this, I've been thinking about a scenario that happened to me yesterday. So I'm on the plane flying to beautiful San Diego here, and the man sitting next to me, this six foot six, has a very brave job, I won't name it, to disclose who he is, kind of job. And he suffers terribly from anxiety. And it was really hard for him to be on the plane. And he shared that with me. And in response I was empathetic and we talked about it. And he said, "It was so hard for me to get on this plane today and I've taken, my medication." And I said, "Okay, so let's talk about what that's like for you, let's talk about some breathing techniques, let's talk about what would it help if I talked with you during this takeoff and during the landing and how are you feeling?" And the fact that he disclosed that to me, was fabulous. I was so proud of him. I said, "Thank you so much for sharing that with me," so that he could be brave to get through that with flight.

Scott:

Well, I'm proud of you. You must have shown him empathy. You must have shown him the ability to listen with empathy or he wouldn't have. And, that's what humanists do. Humanist ask more questions. You probably asked him more questions than told... You weren't telling him, you were asking him. Right?

Jill:

I think that, smile opens lots of doors. So I'm wondering, do you... When you're trying to train people who have been, as Charlie would say, tough guys forever, how do you teach them to be open, to be empathetic, but also to receive and to ask and to say, hey, my life is on the line here. This is a hard stop for me.

Scott:

Well, it's easier said than done. Let's get back to this-

Jill:

Yeah, right?

Scott:

Let's get back to this guy on a plane. He could get some systematic desensitization. He could get therapy to reduce the anxiety. That's a psychological issue that he has to deal with. But let's talk about a related issue to anxiety. Let's talk about stress. Let's talk about, I want your listening audience to understand stress as good.

Jill:

Use stress and distress. Right?

Scott:

That's it. Thank you, Jill. You know that. Most people don't get that.

Jill:

That came from my community health education degree.

Scott:

Good. The difference is the perception of control, right?

Jill:

Yeah.

Scott:

If I got butterflies in my stomach or all lined up-

Jill:

You stress.

Scott:

Yeah. Here we go. We need to teach the world that, stress, I feel so stressed. Good.

Jill:

Which one is it here?

Scott:

Hans Selye, the Austrian who did all the work on stress. He said, "When you're not stressed, you're dead."

Jill:

Amen.

Scott:

Stress means we're here. We're getting things done, but distress is bad and the challenge is to get in control. That's what safety professionals do, is help people believe that they do these things and you might feel like stress, but everything's the ducks are all lined up and the butterflies are wrong. We know what we're doing. It would be, that's okay.

Jill:

Yeah. Before I do public speaking, if I have those butterflies, I'm like happy because I know that's my, you stress, coming out and I know that things are going to be okay. It's when I don't have it, I'm like, "Oh, Oh, I'm not feeling anything here."

Scott:

You know how unusual it is for me to talk to someone who gets that? It's unusual. People... they don't see it that way. I have to explain, and I'm talking to somebody, "Well yeah, I know what you're talking about." That's very reinforcing.

Jill:

I watch the speed skater, oh gosh, what's his name? I can't even think of-

Scott:

I know who you are thinking.

Jill:

You know who I'm thinking about? Before he skates, he always yawns, he's always yawning and I think, oh, that must be his you stress coming out. Right before a race, he always has these big yawns. And sometimes before I speak the same thing happens.

Scott:

[crosstalk 00:24:48]. But now we're back to, okay, so you want to know, so how do you train, what do you take to education and training? Why is empathy important? Why is it important to ask more questions? Well, so that's the education. But now we can do role play, could we?

Jill:

Yeah.

Scott:

That's training. You do role play. So, break up into dyads, two people. And one person, tell your story to the other person and the other person, I just want you to listen. Before you educate them on, how do you listen with empathy like you did with that individual on the plane, you-

Jill:

I did that because I have a mental health first aid training, and so I used it yesterday.

Scott:

Yeah, and because you believe it, your facial expressions, your body language, do you know what it said? I care. That's what you were saying to this guy. I care.

Jill:

So the safety training that we've been doing forever, right? We need to add some education, particularly around empathy and around empathetic listening and the humanism principles that you're talking about.

Scott:

We do.

Jill:

That's what you're spending your life's work doing?

Scott:

Well, it's actively caring for people. We have a movement, it's now worldwide. We have a website, AC4P. Check it out. Ac4p.org. And my daughter just started a company. And you're going to interview her later today, I think.

Jill:

Yes, I am.

Scott:

And [Krista 00:26:16] started the accompany Geller AC4P and a website, gellerac4p.com. We have books, we have wristbands. Let me show you this wristband. This wristband, it says Actively Caring for People. Every wristband has its own identification number.

Jill:

Oh, I see it.

Scott:

And the prices... And my daughter will talk about this here at this conference this afternoon, it's called STEP, S-T-E-P. STEP into actively caring. S, see somebody doing an act of kindness. So Jill, you've given me an opportunity to talk to you about the psychology of safety. I'm thanking you by giving you that wristband.

Jill:

Okay.

Scott:

And that's S, thank is the T for STEPS. So I'm thanking you. Now I want you notice each wristband has its own identification number-

Jill:

I see this. This long number.

Scott:

They're all different. You go to the website, AC4P.org, and you sign in with that wristband number and your story. Scott Geller gave me wristband numbers so and so, because I invited him to do a podcast on the psychology of safety. Next word P, you pass it on. You pass it on to somebody else and they tell their... We have these wristbands traveling all over the world. It started right here and it's acts of kindness. It's Pay It Forward. Everybody knows about Pay It Forward, but it's not random acts of kindness. It's intentional-

Jill:

It's purposeful.

Scott:

Purposeful. You got that too. You're good. Its purposeful acts of kindness. We have books, and one more thing, I'm wearing a blue wristband. Police officers were blues. They had to have the blue line-

Jill:

That's in blue line.

Scott:

[crosstalk 00:28:10] blue, and it says actively caring for people policing. And so community policing is now happening in several communities. Arizona has Northern Virginia, and police officers wear this wristband. It has its own identification number and they do the STEP process, and then they tell the citizen, "Go to our website activelycaring policing.org and register. By the way, we have training books that we go to police departments and we teach them the process. We have-

Jill:

Beautiful.

Scott:

... a book that teaches this. We have it for safety professionals. My daughter and I have a book that's published by American Society of Safety Professionals, and it's here at this conference and it's called Actively Caring for People's Safety. We have police officer... A former police officer, and I wrote one for police officers. I wrote one for school personnel. Wrote one for college students, and my latest one, and I want to give you a copy, it's for parents actively caring for your child. How to be a more effective parent.

Jill:

Don't we all need that?

Scott:

I don't know if I could bring this up, but there's a syndicate columnist and somebody passed on one of his columns. His name is John Roseman.

Jill:

Sounds familiar. Okay.

Scott:

It really disturbs me. He talks about the authoritarian parent, tell what to do, but don't give them a rationale. Just the opposite of what we're talking about. And if they say, why? Because I said so. That is so opposite. So the principles we're talking about for safety are true for parenting. And by the way, he also says in his latest column, "Parents need to be leaders in be authoritarian." That's wrong. Leaders are empathic, leaders give a rationale behind the rule. Leaders are humble, leaders ask for feedback. That's what a leader is.

Jill:

And we're growing the next generation of leader. As a parent of a 17 year old who's on the cusp of starting college, and team minus, however many months now, my biggest panic as a parent is whether or not I put enough feathers on the wings to successfully fly out of the nest and to be able to make his own decisions and take care of himself, not only his human body, and to make good decisions and to be a good student, but more importantly how to take care of his emotional being. That's my panic part of the job. So yes, I'll take that book.

Scott:

But Jill, it scares me. Because parents do their best, but then they listen to these newspaper clippings and it's getting to the public. I'm a ivory tower professor and this so distressful. Because we know the profound knowledge and the challenges to get it out there. Marketing winds over profound knowledge. I look around this conferences marketing everywhere, and I know I mentioned it, I know where there's people are lacking, it's not their fault. They've not been educated on some of the principles that they need to be educated on. But sometimes consultants stop learning. I'm a consultant so I know what I'm going to do... They stop learning.

Jill:

Not evolving.

Scott:

You know, life... I'm going in my 50th year, I never stopped learning. Teaching and learning is our legacy. It continues just like you do, right? You continue to learn and you continue to teach. It's an ongoing process.

Jill:

That's what gets me out of bed. So speaking of your legacy and Krista, your daughters nearby, and I'll be recording with her later. I've had one mother-daughter duo on the podcast so far. First, a daughter who is a safety professional and her mother's a safety professional as well, a professor at the university of Whitewater, Wisconsin. And so you are now going to be the second parental units on the podcast. So my question to you is, did you set out to intentionally raise a safety professional or how did that work?

Scott:

And the other question could be, how does it make you feel-

Jill:

Yes, exactly.

Scott:

... to have a daughter, who's following in your footsteps. It's like we have a limited time. My tombstone says, "Driven to make a difference." My autobiography written in a behavioral science says, "Driven to make a difference." But we only have so much time. But when you have a daughter or a son or someone who can take over for you, oh, that that makes it feel good even that, because let's face it, some names come and go. Whenever I give a presentation, I talk about my heroes, W. Edwards Deming. And some people will know his name, but many people, who's that? Well, he passed away a few years ago. At the age of 93. He had 93 years, but then he's forgotten and sometimes we reinvent the wheel.

Some of the stuff that Deming taught us, we're... Deming said, "Don't blame people for problems caused by the system." And another one of my heroes is B. F. Skinner. He was the behavioral scientists, my point is they only had so many years, but I have a daughter now who can take over. You ask the question that I know I didn't, never intended it, but I was a researcher and so she was my subject for many years. She always talks about this study. Maybe she'll talk about it later. Let me give you a brief. I have two daughters. They both got to PhDs by the way. And when they were... When Krista was 16 and the other daughter was 14, I wired them for sound and I send them to stores to buy cigarettes in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Jill:

Wow, I bet they thought, wow.

Scott:

They were not happy. They were not. But you know, they did it. I told them why. Explained why. And I wasn't a top down thing and they enjoyed the fact that they got to be in this experiment, they went to 20 different stores. Krista was never turned down. She bought 20 packs of cigarettes. And of course I had staffs who buy me Vantage, buy me Lucky Strike.

Jill:

Hard packs, off pack all those.

Scott:

And then the other daughter, she was 14, she was turned down twice. Once by her basketball coach who knew that she shouldn't be. But here's the deal. Then it came out in the newspaper, front page news, the sting in Blacksburg and their pictures are on the front page with a mount of cigarettes in front of them.

Jill:

Oh my gosh.

Scott:

And then, I sent them back. They went back to the stores, the same 20 stores-

Jill:

What happened.

Scott:

... to see. It decreased, but not as much as we wanted to. Krista was stopped four times. She tells a story of how at one time she's in Kroger and they had this big poster with the newspaper article, don't sell cigarettes to these girls and she hadn't seen it. So she's waiting. And the conveyor belt, her pack of cigarettes is rolling down to the conveyor belt and the cashier looks at her, looks at the poster and gives her a lecture, a public lecture, but here's the bottom line. They lost a lot of friends. We shut down cigarettes purchase by 18 years-

Jill:

By the teenagers.

Scott:

... by teenagers.

Jill:

Wow. Good on them.

Scott:

But get back to your son, he's 17 and you're worried. I don't blame you. Social media is ridiculous and I know that we don't want to get political, but we have so-called leaders who are really managers top down. There's a difference between managing behavior and leading people. What we're seeing, not only in the government, we're seeing it everywhere, it's all about managing behavior. Even behavior based safety is coming across as manage it, watch this person write down the numbers, plug it on our computer, get percent safe, that's behavior based safety.

Jill:

Or show them a video and we're going to have great behavior.

Scott:

Or show them... Yeah, man. In fact there's one consultant firm, that to get you interested in behavior based safety, they show you a video of workers doing at risk behaviors. Silly at risk behavior. The audience laughs and says that's behavior based safety. No it's not. But it is, by the way some people teach it. That they're missing to bring it all around. Now they're missing the caring part. The humanistic part. And they're missing the connection like you had with that individual on the airplane.

Imagine, he left that airplane feeling better. You made him feel better because you listened. Quick story with the wristband.

Jill:

Yeah. Is this mine to keep?

Scott:

Yes it is. But I have a smaller one for you. We have three sizes. Let me take this, I'm going to show you this. So one of my students is telling, the ACP talk, we call it a movement, the actively caring for people movement. And he's talking to another student at LSU, Louisiana State University, and they had a leadership conference and he's explaining the movement. By the way, it started after our tragedy at Virginia Tech, April 16th, 2007 as you all know. They only say 32, but there were 33. The shooter was killed also and we have to understand that that shooter was bullied because he didn't speak clear English. He was bullied. We have to understand, what was the culture that influenced that terrible behavior?

Okay, it was wrong behavior. But weigh-in, he had no friends at Virginia Tech. They ignored him. He wore sunglasses and a baseball cap when he came to class. But anyway, it just goes... It's more than behavior.

Jill:

So that's how you started this active caring peace with...

Scott:

I was doing actively caring, we call it actively caring for safety, in the 90s with Exxon. But after my student came back, after... Let me finish the story. So the girl he was telling the story to name is Amy, she says, "Let me tell you a story, I was riding the Metro in Washington DC, sitting across from a gentleman whose head was down, imagine your story, looking so unhappy. So sad." And I know that on the Metro you're not supposed to talk to people. You're just supposed to sit and ride. But I looked up and I said, "Are you okay?" That's the only question. And she looked up to him, he looked up to her and he said, "No, I just had the worst day of my life." And he explained.

And she asks questions and showed emotion. And then she said, "You know, I'm gonna have to get off here soon. I sure hope you have a better day." He said, "Wait a minute, before you leave," and he took this wristband off his wrist and he says, "Somebody gave this to me, it says, actively caring for people. You just actively cared for me more than anybody has all year." And so she told that story, and my student comes back and says, "Where did he get that wristband?" We didn't have numbers on them in those days. "Where did he get it?" What if we could track this? What if we had people put a number on this, and we could track where it's been and where it's going. And this one wristband that I started right here at the NSC conference in San Diego goes to South Africa. And by the way, the movement is big in South Africa. So that's how it all started.

Jill:

How many of these are in circulation?

Scott:

Oh, thousands. Thousands. I brought-

Jill:

That was 15,000 something on that one.

Scott:

Here you go, 15,311, that's your number. But we have them for... By the way, we've reduced bullying by more than 50% at schools where they had a bullying prevention program. Guess what bullying verse prevention how is, find a bully, punish the bully, kick them out of school, you know, completely different. How do we do it? It's called actively caring for people. We don't pay attention to the bullier, some of that bullying happens for attention. We pay attention to acts of kindness. So students talk to each other and they give out wristbands. They talk about acts of kindness. And one third grade, by the way this is published, so this is research. In one school, the teacher would ask the students, on a three by five card, look for acts of kindness and put it in our treasure chest at the back of the room. All I want you to do is write the name of the persons, the act of kindness, and your name, and what was the act. And every morning she read three of those to the class. This is like third graders.

And then she picked out one, and she gave them a wristband as the actively caring hero of the day. At the end of the day, they passed it in and the next day somebody else wore the wristband. This silicone rubber wristband on a child size was so popular, and all they talked about was actively caring for others. Bullying was not part... We measured it systematically. We gave out surveys every Friday, and sharing increased, acts of kindness increased, get this, self-esteem increased and bullying behavior decreased. Even at a school that had tried the top down punitive approach.

Jill:

That's more powerful than a bulletproof backpack, right?

Scott:

Yeah. And does this country not need actively caring?

Jill:

We absolutely need actively caring.

Scott:

It's Martin Luther King said, "The tragedy of today," I'm paraphrasing, "Is not the noise, the loud noise of the bad people. It's the appalling silence of the good people." Right? Martin Luther King said, that the good people need to step forward and actively care.

Jill:

I've heard a nun whose name I'm not going to get, right, calls it, the Cesspool of Silence.

Scott:

Yes.

Jill:

And I wrote that on a note to myself and I keep it in my house. And her challenge is to be able to say in those times where things are, like bullying behavior or non empathetic, people are just... terrible words and language that are used, to be able to be brave enough to say I think differently about that. She said it keeps you out of the Cesspool of Silence.

Scott:

And you know, what related to that is social media. Social media is the negative stuff. And by the way, I have a... I'm proud to say I have a Ted talk. I have a Ted talk-

Jill:

I have listened to it.

Scott:

... it's on self motivation. It's more than 8 million views. And I watch, I look at the comments that come in and some of the comments are so negative and I want to respond and my colleague say, "Don't waste your time." But maybe we shouldn't waste our time. I mean, look at it this way, we're hearing all the negative stuff with my Ted talk, and that's wasting my time. But some of the negative stuff that comes over the media, we're giving them a voice and we're sitting back and saying, don't pay attention to them.

Maybe we need to start a voice out there. Like this voice of the positive, like you voice. That's what you guys do. Vivid learning is about a positive voice to safety and beyond. The principles we've talked here about safety, it's more than safety. We talked parenting, we talked... Actively caring is beyond.

Jill:

Yeah. We are taking care of the whole human and isn't that what we do as safety professionals, right? Where-

Scott:

Absolutely.

Jill:

It's not just figuring out what the right guard is to be on something. It's like why does that need to be there?

Scott:

And you know what's powerful about safety professionals? They understand proactive. You know the rest of the world we're all reacting and wait for something to happen and people... But safety professionals understand the need to be proactive. I got to share one more thing about humanism.

The top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Remember?

Jill:

Self actualization.

Scott:

Oh, I love it. This right lady said self-actualization and that's what the world is saying. Self-actualization. But I'm pleased to tell you not true. Not true.

Jill:

Okay. What's up there [crosstalk 00:45:18] star.

Scott:

No, you're absolutely right, for his first hierarchy. And even my introductory psychology textbooks still get it wrong. They self set self-actualization. What do you do? Oh, you're so good. You practice your basic needs.

Jill:

The foundation.

Scott:

[crosstalk 00:45:32] then you also have safety and security. Then you have your social needs. Then self esteem and self actualization. I once asked my professor, "Sir, what...," as a behaviorist, I want to know, "How do I know when I'm self actualized?"

Jill:

I've always wanted to know this. Please, please share it. Because it feels sort of ego filled, right?

Scott:

Oh yeah. But it is humanism. And humanists don't necessarily have to put it in behavioral terms. But I need to know, like you said, and he said, "It's when you can sit back and say, I did it, I made a difference. I did what I wanted to do." And then he looked me square in the eyes and he said, "And Geller, you're never going to get there." And he's so right. I'll never believe that I've done all I wanted to do to make a difference. But Maslow died in 1970, his last book was published by his wife in 1971. It's called The Farthest Reaches of Human Nature. He said he was wrong, the top is not self-actualization. The top is self-transcendence, going beyond yourself for somebody else. That's what safety professionals do.

Scott:

They give you chills to know that it's... And by the way, you don't have to go all these things, Mother Theresa didn't, Gandhi didn't. Everyday people help others without feeling self-actualize. I mean self-actualizers think, I've done it all. No, we help people. My daughter and I are writing. The next book is The Power of Pets, and one of our-

Jill:

The Power of Pets?

Scott:

Power of Pets. I wrote a book, I think it's my best accomplishment. It's 31 co-authors with this book called Applied Psychology: Actively Caring for People, and my daughter, you'll have to ask her this afternoon about her chapter, The Power of Pets, but the reason I bring that up is we actively care for our animals. It's about a helping, not a selfie. But our culture is all about self. I'm taking a selfie instead of as Maslow taught us. It's not out there. Just like you said, self-actualization, it's we need to send this message to safety professionals. It's self transcendence and every day, safety professionals go beyond the call of duty for someone else. They ask someone to put on those safety glasses, they're proactive. Proactive means actively caring, proactive means self-transcendence. It's not about me. It's about you.

And knowing that safety professionals, they teach others, teach others that the top of that ladder is going beyond yourself for somebody else. And that's the mission of a safety professional.

Jill:

It is. Amen to that. As we're rounding out our time today, I was going to ask you what keeps you going, and what gets you out of bed everyday. But I think you just nailed it. I think you just nailed it.

Scott:

Yeah. My professor says, "Scott, when are you going to retire, man?" And you know what I saw, I gave the orientation lectures this summer to 600 at a time. Parents and students. What I said to those new students, I said, "You look, I know you want to get your grades." You say to your son, "I know I want you to get good grades, I want you to do well in college." But let me tell you what college is really about, finding your purpose, finding what you want. If it takes you six years, seven years, 10 years, I wish for those students that they would find a job like I found, that I don't want to leave. That it's not a job. It's a mission. It's a purpose. It's actively caring for people.

Jill:

Wonderful. Dr. Geller, thank you so much.

Scott:

Thank you.

Jill:

Really appreciate it. Really appreciate your time today.

Scott:

I appreciate you also.

Jill:

I do too. We're going to say goodbye to our guests. Really thank you so much for sharing your story.

Scott:

Thank you Jill.

Jill:

And thank you all so much for spending your time listening today and more importantly, thank you for your contribution. Making sure your workers, including your temporary workers, make it home safe every day. If you'd like to join the conversation about this episode or any of our previous episodes, follow our page and join the Accidental Safety Pro community group on Facebook. If you aren't subscribed and you want to hear past and future episodes, subscribe on iTunes, the Apple podcast app or any other podcast player you'd like. You can also find all the episodes at vividlearningsystems.com/podcast.

We'd love it if you could leave a rating and review us on iTunes. It really helps us connect with more safety professionals like you and I and Dr. Geller. And share any episodes you'd like with your friends. If you have a suggestion for a guest, including if it's you, shoot me an email at social@vividlearningsystems.com. Until next time, thanks for listening.