Episode #64 Smile and Succeed for Teens with Award Winning Author Kirt Manecke

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 Kirt Manecke is an award-winning author. Endorsed by Temple Grandin, his book, audio book and new online course, Smile & Succeed for Teens: Must-Know People Skills for Today’s Wired World is a crash course in social and career skills. The Parent’s Guide for Smile & Succeed for Teens is available for parents who want to easily assist their teens with the skills in the book. Classroom packs with teaching guide are available. The online course is ideal for at-home or virtual learning. For career skills training for adults, Kirt’s book Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service is a 60-minute crash course in customer service and sales. Learn more at www.SmiletheBook.com.

Additional Information

Dr. Temple Grandin, leading autism advocate, called Kirt by phone the same day she read his book Smile & Succeed for Teens and urged him to use her testimonial to lower the unemployment rate for all teens:

“Smile & Succeed for Teens is a fantastic resource to help teens be successful at work.”

-Temple Grandin

Learn more at www.SmileTheBook.com

Automatic Transcription from Otter.ai

book, people, young adults, Tosha, smile, customer, mock interviews, business, interview, teenagers, autism, great, teach, wrote, chris, job, important, Kirt, question, volunteer

Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of the autism and action podcast today we've got another great guest, Mr. Kurt Maliki. He is out of Milford, Michigan, and he has got some amazing information to share with you guys.


Kurt, welcome to the show. Thank you for taking time to be here today.

Oh, thank you. Tasha. You're welcome. Thank you so much for having me.

So I don't know. I'll go ahead, Chris.

Oh, sorry. Sorry. Yeah. So you're you're you're a published author, you wrote smile and succeed for teams, endorsed by Temple Grandin, which is, which is amazing. Can you tell us about the book?

Sure. The book is a crash course in social skills and job skills. And the reason I wrote it, I'll show you a picture. how this all started? Well, my first book is a 60 minute crash course in customer service and sales. And I wrote that for businesses. But I had all these moms and teachers tell me, Kurt, you've got to get that book in the schools. It's all the people's skills, kids aren't learning. I said, I don't know anything about this school. I wrote this for business. So then I took the information in this book, and met with teenagers for nine months. And moms and great teachers, I had great feedback, and then wrote the book for teenagers. So the premise of my first book is, it's a crash course. It's quick and easy to read, which means people will read it. So I kept that premise for this book. And what's in this book, Chris? It's all the social skills that bring that make friends that bring customers back to a business, it's all the little things that are really like Tom Peters, the author of In Search of Excellence always says the little things are the big things. You know, somebody greets you, when you walk in and business, they answer the phone properly. When you say thank you, they don't say yep, or no problem. They smile and say, You're welcome. When you leave a business, they say thank you, Tasha, for coming in. We're looking forward to seeing you again. And that's what it's all about, you know, body language. But it's quick, short, easy to read. And that's, I think, why the autism community picked it up, especially. Because too, it's got, you know, visuals and Yeah, that one is on cell phone etiquette. But yeah, there's cell phone etiquette, how to shake hands, or you know how to do a fist bump or an elbow bump, saying, Please, and thank you reading customers, making friends volunteering, effectively making eye contact, and there's a little tip in there. If you know, if you have trouble with eye contact, which I know a lot of people do. There's a little tip, I don't know if you can see it yet. Look at somebody's nose.


I love Oh, there's a little target there. So they're just fun little things that are quick and easy to learn and, and that we all can use. I get adults that like review my team book, The Detroit News editor told me, You should just take the team's off of there and keep it for all for everybody.

Well, it sounds like there's a lot of valuable information in there, especially about the unspoken rules of communication. Right? Well, there is.

And it's all based on a sick, you know, my first book, I wrote it, because I created a six week training program when I had a specialty retail store. And we were a startup and we had two other competitors within, you know, half a mile of us. So I knew we would only survive if we had great service. And I wouldn't want you or Chris coming into my store and not be greeted anyways, that that's just common courtesy. So we'd hire nice people, but we put them through the training program. And that's what I based my first book on is my six week training program. And then the team book is based on it. So it's real world stuff. It's not theory, it's not fluff. There's no wasted words, I try a student can read a paragraph and instantly apply it at the job that day. And in the team version, we added a chapter on which is important, I think for the autism community on how to interview and get a job. Yeah. And also a section on overcoming stress, but also another chapter on how to volunteer effectively, because that's so important for the young adults to go volunteer, even Temple Grandin told me, she said, I love this action on volunteering and volunteering at an animal shelter because she said, this is where these young adults need to get those social skills.

On the cool thing about an animal shelter too, is that I mean you're surrounded by animals with we're just by nature, non judgmental, and, you know, agenda free, you know, for the mean. And so that I see, it seems to me like there'll be less maybe fear going into it because, you know, you're working with like I said some something that's non non judgmental and like, people, right? So

that's a great point. I never thought about that Crispin point.

It totally, totally takes the fear out of that and put you in a more comfortable emotional space to be able to do that.

And I guess the One question I would have too is like when you're when you're talking about interviewing in dealing with the stress of that, maybe maybe like, Can you share like one or two tips that either from your book or just kind of off the top of your head that you can share with people?

Yes, that's a great question, Chris. I think, and I know for individuals with autism, it's it's really challenging. I would suggest doing mock interviews, and I've got them inside my teaching guide for the schools. And inside my parents guide, you'll see when you get the parents guide, Tasha, I would suggest doing the mock interviews with different people. Somebody yesterday, I don't know if it was you or somebody else I was talking to said, it's really helpful. They have a lot of different people doing it so that when they go to the interview, they're used to a new person. But yeah, those mock interviews, knowing, you know, being prepared, being comfortable or as comfortable as you can. And I was talking to somebody yesterday and even said, I wonder if when you go into a store and ask for a job application, because as an employer, I used to get kids when we had 25 teenagers, our shop was called Surf's up. So it was a windsurfing store with a lot of technical equipment, snowboards, etc. But if I had a young adult come in with a smile, and he was dressed appropriately, and he had good people skills, or she would, I would say, you know, Karen, do you have a minute? Could I talk to you right now. So I'm wondering if young adults with autism, I'm just throwing this out there to you, when they asked for that resume instead of what 99% of kids do, which is, can I have a resume? I'm not a resume. Sir, can I have a job application? Say, I'd like a job application. I am a great employee, I mean, that interview the best, but I'm very dependable. I'm not on my cell phone, and I will show up on time and do a great job. Because you're always thinking as an employer, if I'm not here, he or she is representing my business, will the customer come back? So just you know, things to talk about, but I would do role playing? And I'd also teach them, you know, to research the company beforehand. Yeah. Yeah, I

think that's some really great advice for sure. And I think, in the world of autism, their environment is so important to really acknowledge and know what's going to work good for them. Do they need a quiet environment? Do they need? Are they okay working with people? Or would they rather work? You know, individually? So yeah, doing the research is very important.

And being ready for the frequently asked questions, which I listed in the guides, you know, why do you want to work here? Um, where have you worked before, and they can bring up the volunteer experience just some of those common questions. So they're not caught off guard. But I know that's really tough for individuals with autism to do that. So maybe, in certain situations, you know, these are entry level jobs we're talking about for teenagers or young adults, maybe I don't know, it's you, you and Chris would know better than I, would it be beneficial for them to say, Excuse me, like I said before, I may not be great at interviewing, but I am a very dependable Boy, you can count on me, I won't be on my cell phone, I will do my very best job. And I'm good at whatever they're applying for. I don't know if that's a good point or not to bring up.

I think there's probably a balance. You know, I mean, I think we want to, we want to be authentic as people, you know, when we go into a business and we're applying for a job and I understand they're sort of like, give and take where they expect a certain thing from us. But also we want to be true ourself. So while maybe interviewing isn't our strange, like you said, maybe gin, focusing more on why I'm dependable, and I'm on time and I'll do everything he asked me to do is a good angle. But yeah, I think there's probably a balance there.

That's a good point. Yeah.

Do you think datia

I think that's great advice. And I also feel like the self confidence and in doing those exercises in the book that you were talking about and doing the mock interviews, that's so important, because that gives them that confidence and that courage to go forward. Right and to be successful and succeed.

And that you know, when you say confidence every day and every sentence I wrote in the book, I thought this will give that team confidence. This will give it 10 cameras, because I remember being in seventh grade, you know, so nervous knocking on adults doors to see if I can mow their lawn in some, you know, some gentlemen opens the door at 65 years old. Nobody taught me what to say or how to act. I didn't know and it's so much easier if you have a guy.

Oh, totally. Yeah, I could be like, my worst nightmares going on. He probably even today to some degree. Yeah, just that for that fear of rejection and kind of, yeah.

It is hard. It's difficult. But you know, with these role playing exercises I have, it's not only the interviews, but it's the customer service scenarios. You know, you're you're in your Business a customer walks in, what do you do? Or you're in your business? You're the only person on the sales floor. For instance, if they're working at Best Buy or Home Depot, you know, you're already with a customer, what do you do? You know, you don't do what most people do, which is ignore the second customer for 20 minutes until you're done with the first one, right? It teaches them to say, Oh, hi, you know, if you walked in Tasha, and they were with a customer, I'll be with you in a minute, or, Hi, I'm tied up with a customer. But you know what, let me get somebody to help you. So that changes that whole scenario teaches them acknowledge new customers, even when you're busy teaches them if you walk in somewhere, they're working. And you asked, you know what hospital room is? 239? They don't point they walk you, huh? Yeah. Yeah. You know how many times you've had somebody I get that all the time, they point to aisle 90,

which I think could be very long, right?

For one thing, dial 19 if they if they gave you the right number, which sometimes is right, and you can find it anyways, there's a million products or teaches them to walk that person to the product, because that's another sales opportunity also, and it you know, the resources, teach them not teach them not to be afraid to fundraise or sell overcome that fear. Yeah,

yes. Well, where can our listeners find your information online?

Oh, they can go to my website, TT Tasha on www dot smile, the book calm. And these resources are also available on Amazon. And if they have any questions, they're you know, they're welcome to contact me also.

And that is for the smile and succeed for teams. That's also for your parents guide. Right?

Yeah, cheers, guy. And then schools. Oh, I've got the you know what I forgot, I've got the new online course also, I totally forgot about. So

tell us about that.

Well, that, you know, when you have a book, you want to have it in different versions for how somebody wants to digest it. And some people would rather have the content. I mean, I have an E book for smiling succeed for teens. But this is an actual online course. So I'm excusing. Individuals can buy it or school districts, and they log into a platform, it's good for one year, it's very affordable. It starts at $24.99 for the year, and they log in. And it's the same content that's in my book. So I have seven chapters in the book, there's seven modules in the online course. But with the online course, we can add more interactivity. So there's interactive questions and answers to test their knowledge. And there's also curated videos for provide for additional support. There's a lot of like clickable links on there, where there's a testimonial or a quote from a famous person, while with the online course they can click on that and learn more about that person. So there's a lot of interactivity there. And then some people prefer to learn that way.

Absolutely, especially teenagers nowadays, they're so visual, they love the interactiveness with the technology, it keeps their attention and keeps them engaged. So I'm really glad that you've got that companion course there, there are still a long course to go along with that, and made it available to so many other places, the schools, not just individuals.

Exactly. Thank

you, Tasha. It's great for parents to purchase for their for their young adults. And then we were able to colorize the images, you know, the images in the book are black and white, which is fine. It makes it a little more exciting, a little more engaging, and more appealing.

We always like to send off at the end of every episode, what would you say your best advice out there would be for parents?

That's an easy one. And that's a great question. I wrote both of my books and the very first page of each book, and you'll see cash when you get a smile and say, Hello, teach your young adults and you can roleplay this, just smile and say hello. And it sounds so trite. But it makes such a difference in somebody's life. If you do that making a friend. And it's everything in business. If you walk in and somebody does that the foundation is set for success. If they don't do that, which happens a lot. You're thinking, Hmm, maybe I won't come back here again, you don't feel welcome. It's a little thing, but it's huge. And that would be the thing I would say smile, say hello, because your son or daughter, maybe they may be in the back room doing it. But a customer might walk in or a vendor walks in. Hey, how are you makes all the difference? Because ignoring somebody is the worst thing in the world and customers will go somewhere else.


Great advice. Well, Kurt, thank you so much for taking the time to be here today. Thank you an absolute pleasure. Oh, you're

welcome. Thank you, Tasha and Chris, it's been it's been such a pleasure meeting you and talking with you. Thank you so much.

Thank you. You're welcome.

Let's Discuss!

Now, we would love to hear from you.

Do you have questions? Do you have ideas? Do you have an opinion? Do you think we missed something?

Let's have a discussion in the comments below or head over to the Autism in Action Facebook group. We would love to hear from you!

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