If you want to stand out, you have to be all in. In today’s job market, employers are looking for more than just talent, they’re looking for an elusive combination of talent and emotional commitment. They want people will work hard, pursue excellence and bring their best every day. The attitude of being all in is what separates good employees from great ones and will give your career an edge and right now, emotional commitment is at an all-time low. There’s never been a better time to stand out and get noticed as an emerging and engaged leader.
To help you, Adam Tarnow and David Morrison’s new book, The Edge, lays out four simple profound ways to show that you’re emotionally committed without sucking up, selling out, or being anything but the best version of you. Start putting these four ways into practice today, right now, and get ready for your next promotion in a rewarding and impactful career.
Hey listeners, my name is Drew Appelbaum and I’m excited to be here today with Adam Tarnow and David Morrison, author of The Edge: How to Stand Out By Showing You’re All In For Emerging Leaders and Those Who Lead Them. Adam and David, thank you for joining, welcome to The Author Hour Podcast.
Adam Tarnow: Thanks Drew, excited to be here.
David Morrison: Yeah, thanks for having us.
Drew Appelbaum: If you wouldn’t mind kicking this off for us, respectively, can you give us a brief rundown of your professional backgrounds? Adam, we could start with you.
Adam Tarnow: Yeah, I’d like to think about my professional background kind of like an old Seinfeld episode, where you had a lot of plot points and storylines that seem to be unrelated and then they just kind of come together at the end and so I feel like I’m living that right now but started off as a CPA, as an accountant. I studied accounting at Clemson University in South Carolina, was an accountant for about 10 years, then went and worked at a big nonprofit here in Dallas, actually in ministry and so did that, that’s where David and I met.
We were both on staff at that organization together and then, over the last two years, been really focused on leadership development, started a consulting firm in the summer of 2020, focused on leadership development and so that’s what I’ve been doing the past couple of years.
David Morrison: Yeah, so like Adam said, we actually met doing ministry together in Dallas. Did that for about eight or nine years there in Dallas and then made a hard left turn and started working in the QSR industry, so Quick Service Restaurant Industry in 2013. I’ve been doing that ever since and now, hold a position of COO of Tacala, which is a franchisee of Taco Bell Brand. So I live in Birmingham, and we run about 340 restaurants across the southeast in Texas. So that’s the shortest version I could give you right there.
Drew Appelbaum: That is fair but so how did you two meet and how did you two decide, “Hey, let’s write this book together?”
Adam Tarnow: Yeah, well I think we met because we’re both introverts at heart and this organization that we were both working at was filled with a bunch of extroverts and so we probably at one of these big staff retreats or these big massive meetings, David and I just found ourselves just sitting on the sidelines and just kind of talking and really became good friends. I’ve actually — my wife and I know his wife.
We met his wife Julia before we even met David through some other connections because Julia was going to college here in Dallas and my wife and I were serving over at that college doing some ministry over there and we met Julia there. And so David and I just became fast friends through that, through being on staff together at that organization, then our wives. We started having kids around the same time.
So our wives became friends, then we start doing some traveling together, and we were living in the same neighborhood and so yeah, it really just became pretty good friends, and had always had this dream. I think David is a phenomenal author and writer. Another friend of ours named Chris, we’ve always been encouraging David to write. Just going, “David, you need to write, you are so good at writing” and so David, I think it was New Year’s Day of 2021, right? I think is when we started this.
Every New Year’s, we kind of have this tradition where our families get together, the Tarnow’s drive out to Birmingham to spend the time with the Morrison’s and David and I break away and we just talk about things we’re learning, things that are going on in our professional world, what I was doing with my new business and some content that I was putting together and we just stated to map out, what would a book look like if we were going to write one together.
We came up with what ultimately became The Edge and so we started that in January of ‘21. I think our original working title was something about like “10 Ways to Show You’re All In” or something like that and really changed it about halfway through our first draft to be more of what is being published now, calling it The Edge. David, that’s my memory of how we got together and started doing this. Do you remember any other details along the way?
David Morrison: No, I don’t really remember much but I think you covered it really well. I would just add I think on the book, you know, the heart of the book and the reason we had that moment in January of 2021 was we were just asking ourselves the question, “How can we be helpful to young professionals?” and we feel like we’ve had this amazing experience of getting to be in middle management more than we’d like to be.
We just know what it’s like to be almost there. We know what it’s like to want to be in a room where it happens. We know what that feeling is like and then we’ve only very recently kind of been invited into some of those spaces that we used to kind of long to be in and would be like, “What would it be like to write a book to yourself at the age of, you know, 22?” 25 or maybe just new in an industry like I was in the QSR space and giving you suggestions, “Hey, try this, do this, this is going to help your career move faster” and you know, kind of spun off from there, so it was a fun dream to figure that out.
Drew Appelbaum: Now, when you decided to write this book, who exactly is this book for? Is this for every single industry out there, is this for only C-suite leadership, or is this for management, or is this for any employee at any stage in their career?
Adam Tarnow: We wrote it as David said, for that young emerging leader, that person probably in the first 10 years of their career. So all the different industries we’ve been in, so David and I both you know, in the nonprofit world, me in the CPA, professional services world, David now over in the restaurant industry, we know that this is going to be applicable to young emerging leaders in all of those industries.
So I really do think any young individual that is career minded, professionally minded is going to find this helpful. So we think, that’s who we wrote it to. We also, in that subtitle by saying, this is for emerging leaders and those who lead them, we also believe that anybody who has management responsibilities or is responsible for leading some young leaders, we secretly kind of think they’re going to be the ones that maybe like the book the most because it’s going to give them some language that they can use when it comes to developing and coaching the young emerging leaders on their team.
It’s going to help them really just try to explain, “Hey, this is what I want out of my team. This is what I want out of people on my team” and so that was another question that was guiding us as I was seeing in my consulting practice was some managers that were just kind of secretly disappointed in their team but didn’t have the words to use to describe why they were disappointed or what people on their team needed to do to improve.
So that’s another problem we hope really gets solved by this book, is it gives those leaders language to use to say, “This is what I mean when I say I want you to be all in here” it’s this energy, this diligence, this growth and this endurance.
David Morrison: Agreed.
What Does Emotional Commitment Look Like?
Drew Appelbaum: You begin the book talking about this emotional commitment to either position or a company and so I love to hear both of your definitions on really what emotional commitment means.
Adam Tarnow: Yeah, David, you want to go first?
David Morrison: I mean, emotional commitment is caring about the job beyond the paycheck, I think it would be emotional commitment. So I care about my team, I care about the goals we’re driving towards together, I care about the customers or whoever I‘m doing work towards is that emotional commitment.
So it’s not just about, “Hey, I’m in here to clock in and clock out and get my paycheck, go home and do my thing.” It’s, “Hey, I am about what we’re about here as an organization” which is why you know, we used Dabo Swinney as Texas A&M grad, only slightly annoyed by the fact that and that that was Dabo Swinney at the intro.
I know, it wins a lot of points with Adam and his Clemson buddies but we both do have a legit admiration for Dabo and what he did over there at Clemson and I think he just embodies that idea but like, we’re not just here to win football games or to you know, get into the NFL draft, we’re here to be something together and so I think that was the best word picture we could put together and go, “Hey, look at this guy, that’s what you needed.”
There’s a reason that he gets the commitment he gets for people, the result that he gets season in and season out and so I think that’s what we would say emotional.
Adam Tarnow: Yeah, I like that. I mean, I probably can make that any better that it is beyond just your to do list and your job description. There is this part of you that cares and so I think that is really a big deal and I think, the reason David and I bring that up in the introduction is we really do believe what we said in there, that talent is a commodity nowadays.
I mean, everybody is talented and smart. That is no longer what we believe is going to set us apart. Your new competitive advantage in today’s marketplace is this emotional commitment and I think the argument is really substantiated by the fact that emotional commitment is so low right now.
All right, if you look at all the employee engagements stats that are out there, they’re terrible and a lot of leaders are freaking out about this because they don’t know what they can do to really try to improve that emotional commitment and so, I was with a group of leaders yesterday, a group of CPAs.
When I’m with them and I’m talking through the content of the book, I just kind of jokingly say this but it’s only half joking which is, “Listen, the bar’s never been lower.” I mean, if you have just the slightest bit of career ambition, the bar has never been lower and all it takes, everybody believes you’re smart, here’s the little thing that we think is going to give you the edge.
If you do this, if you can show the energy, show diligence, have that growth mindset and really develop endurance along the way, along this journey, watch out, right? You’re going to get noticed, that kind of ambition is going to really attract attention from a lot of people and I think your career is going to start to really move in the direction you want it to go.
It’s going to be a lot more fulfilling. Obviously though, hopefully there would be some financial rewards that go with that and just feel a sense of autonomy with your career. You’re not feeling like you’re just responding to everything coming your way. You feel like, you’re moving in a direction on purpose and so, that’s why I think it’s so important for us, especially the emerging leaders to understand how important emotional commitment is and what it does for them if they can show it.
Drew Appelbaum: When you start a position or maybe you’re at a position, you know, talent takes you so far and then the attitude and going all in is what you’re saying gets you to the next level but does it benefit the company when you go all in or does it also benefit the individual in their career now and taking the next step forward if they emotionally and totally commit.
Adam Tarnow: Yeah, David, why don’t you talk about how you’ve seen that play out in your career?
David Morrison: Yeah, this has been interesting and recent. The answer to this, the short answer to your question is yes, it obviously helps both. It is why we think that both emerging leaders and bosses are going to like this book because emerging leaders are going to be like, “Okay, this is helping me move forward faster” and bosses are going to be like, “This is helping me get my objectives done, what my objectives might be within an organization.”
I even had this moment just yesterday with someone who has newly joined my team and she just called me up. She said, “Hey, I see you sending a lot of messages on this particular topic. I know about how to solve these problems, do you mind if I take the lead and go ahead and solve this for you?” and I was like, “Uh, of course I don’t” right? “Please do, go for it” right?
Just that initiative that I see a problem, I’m going to solve a problem, she’s moving her career forward faster than her peers because she is showing emotional commitment to the thing that we’re pursuing together, right? She did more than her job in that moment, and it is going to help her and it’s going to help me, and I think that’s what we think about the book. It’s like this magic potion that works best for both groups.
Adam Tarnow: Yeah, I love the idea and I’m going to steal it from Donald Miller as he talked about in his book, Hero on a Mission, this idea of mutual benefit that when you can find these things in life that are beneficial to you on your journey but also beneficial to others and the others in this case as we’re talking about would be your organization that you work for, your company, your non-profit, whatever it is, some really cool things can happen.
So I think Drew to answer your question, that is what emotional commitment does is that yes, it improves the life of the leader because your career is going to start moving faster and there’s going to be some rewards that come with that but it is also going to help the organization and that’s a really great win-win for everybody and some really cool things can happen.
Gaining an EDGE
Drew Appelbaum: So we know it benefits both company and individual and to get there, to show you’re all in to make that transition, you two created a little playbook and you call it the EDGE system. So can you walk us through the EDGE acronym in terms of what everything means?
Adam Tarnow: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, the four parts of this and what it takes like how do we demystify what it looks like practically, what’s observable when it comes to showing that you are all in. So the EDGE is an acronym, energy, diligence, growth, endurance and so energy is just simply that positive attitude that you are bringing every day. Diligence is that care and persistence that you show towards your work, what you are actually hired to do the things that show up on your to-do list.
Growth is this hunger for progress and development, both for you individually and also for the organization and then endurance is just that ability to bounce back from hardship and so, as we were sitting around trying to go, “Okay, so yeah Dabo talks about all in, we talk about emotional commitment, people talk about engagement, what does that actually look like?” so what can I put on my to-do list?
That’s what we like about this framework, is we really think that demystifies it. So now, a young leader can just wake up every day and go, “Okay, I want to show them all in. So am I bringing energy? Am I being diligent with what’s on my to-do list? Am I continuing to want to grow as a professional and continue to see this organization grow?” and when, not if but, “When hardship comes my way, am I viewing that as an opportunity to develop endurance?”
That this is not, “I want to be like that marathon runner.” I want to be that person that can endure going through the different seasons of a career and when we look back on that, we think, “Hey, that’s what it looks like.” Those people are all in when they can do that.
Drew Appelbaum: Is this system something that can be implemented immediately or is this something where you need a few months to just start working on yourself and start working on some ground work and then you could bring that into the workplace?
Adam Tarnow: Yeah, it’s probably going to be a little bit of a slow play with this where you, first of all, you have the awareness that, “Okay, these four aspects really do start to impact me and these are the things I need to work on” and so at the end of the book and the conclusion and some of the next steps that we give people, we tell them not to bite off more than they can chew right now.
The key here is to use this if you’re a young leader, go have some conversations with your boss or with your team leader and say, “Which of these aspects do you think I need to improve on?” and just pick one to start working on. So for you if it’s energy, just focus on motivation or optimism or gratitude or some of the other ideas that we had in those chapters, just focus on that and just try to make some small progress in these areas.
But David, he and I we’re even talking about this recently, it’s funny we wrote this for emerging leaders and those who lead them but even for me and David, I’d love to know if you agree with this, these four things will continue to help me now today keep my edge, right? This is going to help me keep my edge with my clients and out there in the marketplace that I need to bring positive energy.
I need to do good work, I need to continue to want to grow professionally and be able to endure all the ups and downs that come in a professional journey. So I think this is like a lifelong project for all leaders and it starts in those early years and so David, I’d love to know, do you agree with that? Do you see how this continuous to give you an edge?
David Morrison: A hundred percent. I think, you know, these four principles will drive your career forward no matter where it’s at but I would add regarding just kind of the practicality of it or the immediacy of some of these stuff that mostly good parts of this book are written by Adam just so we’re clear and the sections that I find so helpful are when, you know, we’ll say in the book, “Hey, next time this happens in your office, try this.”
“Next time your boss says this to you, think about doing this” right? So just super practical, so there is a lot of this like you’re not going to go from an ungrateful person to a grateful person after you read this book. That is a lifelong intentionality to be, to pursue gratitude as a character trait but there are also things in the book where it’s just like, “Let me just try this and see how that helps my career if I interact with my boss this way versus what I might be doing now.”
There is a sense in where, as Adam said, you know, energy, diligence, growth and endurance are things you’re always going to be pursuing in a certain sense and there’s stuff in this book that you could just go, “Let me try that real quick and see how it might improve my relationship with my boss” so.
Drew Appelbaum: Yeah, you also do a great service for the reader because a lot of people who read the book and say, “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know how to take that first step. I don’t know how to get started” and towards the far end of the book, you actually provide five simple next steps for readers. So you don’t have to go through all of the steps even if you don’t remember them off the top of your head but what is that first beginning of how to start implementing this that you do suggest in the book?
Adam Tarnow: Yeah, it’s kind of what I just said, which is take this. You know, you could use some of the graphics that are in the book or you can go to myedgebook.com and download these graphics, put them in front of your boss, and just go, “What do you think?” right? Just start to have a conversation with this because with a lot of these things when we are trying to develop, we need to get a little downwind of ourselves, right?
To know, “Yeah, this really is an area where I need to develop” so you may read this book and just be completely convicted by the diligence section and realize, “Okay, I need to increase my competence, my resourcefulness, my productivity” and you’re convinced this is what’s holding you back in your career right now and then you might sit down and talk to your boss or your team leader and they may go, “No way, you crushed that right now. I think it’s energy” right?
Like, “You are just, you kind of come in like eel, every day just seems like a rainy day for you and so let’s talk about the energy that you’re bringing. I think that’s what’s holding you back” and so I think that’s the first step is just starting to engage in some conversations with people who know you that can give you some feedback to let you know where would be a good area to focus. That’s the easiest first step and I believe the first one that we put there in the conclusion.
Drew Appelbaum: You also have a companion website with the book. Can you tell us what that website is and what readers and listeners can find there?
Adam Tarnow: Yeah, so it’s called My Edge Book, that’s all one word, myedgebook.com. A couple of things that you’ll see on there, obviously some links to be able to go purchase the book, some of the graphics that we’ve included in the book. If you wanted to use those as a team leader or in a coaching session or even just to keep like by your desk or you know, next to your computer or something like that to remind you of some of these principles and what it takes to show you’re all in, you can download some of those graphics.
David and I have also produced some companion films to go along with this as well that can be used by an individual leader to continue to reflect on this but also a series of films for team leaders and so we think those films could be used where at a team meeting, you could show a four or five-minute video of David or I talking about one aspect of the EDGE framework and then there’s a companion discussion and reflection guide that goes with that that you could use to lead some team meetings or even you could use that discussion and reflection guide in your own journey.
So as you are reading the book, you can download this reflection guide, it just gives you some things to think through when it comes to implementation and how you’re processing this, maybe I don’t know, if you like to journal or however you like to capture your thoughts or things that you can think about when you are out exercising or on a walk or walking the dog or something like that. So hopefully, quite a few resources that again, we’ll be focused on action and implementation. So this isn’t just, “Oh yeah, that’s nice to know.” This is really stuff that you can start to apply and implement in your own journey.
Drew Appelbaum: Well, Adam and David, we just touched on the surface of the book here. There is actually so much more inside, but I just want to say that creating this playbook for leaders to take the next step in their career and become emotionally connected and being all in and then getting that emotional buy-in from everyone around them to be more successful in their careers, building this program is no small feat. So congratulations on having your book published.
Adam Tarnow: Well, thanks.
David Morrison: Thanks a lot.
Drew Appelbaum: This has been a pleasure. I’m excited for people to check out the book. Everyone, the book is called, The Edge, and you could find it on Amazon. Adam and David, besides checking out the book, besides going to your website, is there anywhere else where readers or listeners can connect with you?
Adam Tarnow: Yeah, we’re both on LinkedIn; that’s a great place to connect. We’re really loving that platform. It’s been so great to meet people all around the country and interact with them there. So you can either follow us or send us a connection request there on LinkedIn and then also, I’ve got a personal website, adamtarnow.com, where I’ve got some newsletters that you can subscribe to as well as other ways to connect with us but either LinkedIn or adamtarnow.com.
Drew Appelbaum: Well, thank you both for coming on the show today and giving us some of your time, and I just want to wish you the best of luck with your new book.
Adam Tarnow: Thanks, Drew.
David Morrison: Thanks Drew, appreciate it.