Cy Wakeman: Your Ego is Not Your Amigo

By Dan Miller

The classic television show “Office Space” drew a passionate following because of its portrayal of time-worn office politics. And those themes – poor managers, unproductive meetings, wasteful drama – are what make the “Dilbert” cartoon oddly familiar to many American workers.

One might say Cy Wakeman, an international keynote speaker, business consultant, New York Times best-selling author, and global thought leader, is doing everything to spoil those toxic workplace storylines.

Cy opened WorkHuman 2018 with a pre-conference keynote, “No Ego: How leaders Can Cut the Cost of Drama, End Entitlement, and Drive Big Results,” making salient points through data, humor, and storytelling about how to build a positive workplace. To truly modernize HR and leadership philosophies, ego has no place.

“Your ego is narrating your entire world to the negative,” said Cy. “Your ego is not your amigo. Your ego is a filter on reality and corrupts your data. You’re making decisions based on corruptive data. Your ego is like wearing a pair of prescriptive glasses that are the wrong prescription.”

Cy cited ego as the primary source of drama, which, when left unchecked, has a negative impact on employee engagement. She mentioned a Gallup poll that said, “71 percent of Americans quit their jobs on a daily basis. The problem is they keep coming to work and getting a paycheck.”

Then Cy got into some basic math, saying there are 2.5 hours of drama per headcount per day. That’s 17 hours a week, 68 hours a month, and 816 hours a year. If drama is emotional waste that hinders productivity, does that catch the attention of a CFO?

“If we upcycled all the energy spent on drama per headcount and put it into results, happiness, and engagement, think what could happen,” said Cy. “Leaders need to facilitate good mental processes so that people can get rid of emotional waste in the workplace and put their full self into doing what’s right.”

And ego is the main source of drama.

“Drama is an unproductive thought pattern of disruptive behavior,” said Cy. “Drama is emotional waste in the workplace. Most people consider drama is the cost of doing business but it’s really your next competitive advantage if you change your philosophies and defuse the drama.”

Cy said leaders have the opportunity to identify the drama and the inherent ego that fuels it. A big portion of the ego is the need to vent, and “you can’t vent and self-reflect at the same time. Your brain as an adult is binary. You have a toggle switch – it toggles down to low self and toggles up to high self.”

Cy’s message to HR leaders: “Your job is to take the toggle switch of people and every time they get low, switch it up to high. Establish accountability, which is the death to the ego. Self-reflection is the ultimate drama defuser.”

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Dan Miller is the director of content marketing for Globoforce.