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The Growth Connection Episode 6

By Felicia Labbe | Mar 23, 2021 | Comments Off

The Pandemic has accelerated how people work. It has also accelerated remote work and the way companies recruit their talent, full-time, contractors and 'freelancers'.

Welcome to The Growth Connection, a podcast to help us all look forward to this year with a growth mindset. We'll feature interviews with cmi's elite roster of experts in the areas of diversity, leadership, the future, mentorship, performance, teamwork and inspiration.

On today's episode...

GC-episode-6

Listen in as Mike Walsh and Tim Sanders expand on how to cut costs while growing an agile and hybrid work team.

Mike Walsh is the CEO of Tomorrow, a global consultancy on designing companies for the 21st century. A global nomad, futurist, keynote speaker, and author of the bestselling book, The Algorithmic Leader, he advises some of the world’s biggest organizations on digital transformation and disruptive innovation in this new era of machine intelligence.

A prolific writer and commentator, Mike’s views have appeared in a wide range of international publications including Harvard Business Review, Inc. Magazine, Business Week, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal. Each week he interviews provocative thinkers, innovators and troublemakers on his podcast, Between Worlds.


Tim Sanders, Upwork's Vice President of Customer Insights, has deep experience in digital transformation, remote work management and agility-through-change. No one has collected more insights on how to manage 'work from home teams' than Tim and his associates at Upwork. An expert at meeting teams where they are at, Tim will customize your session providing action items that not only help, but also inspire.

Tim is the author of five books, including the New York Times bestseller, Love is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends. His publications have over one million copies in print with bestseller status in India, South Korea, Italy, Brazil, and Denmark.

 

Takeaways

  • Create an agile company with cost savings opportunities
  • intentional collaboration used for problem solving produces more innovation
  • A hybrid workplace requires equality for remote and full-time employees
  • Remote workers have become essential post pandemic

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Transcript

Mike Walsh

Welcome to the growth connection, a podcast to help us all look forward to this year with a growth mindset. We'll feature interviews with cmi’s elite roster of experts in the areas of diversity, leadership, the future, mentorship, performance, teamwork, and inspiration. On today's show,

 

I'm talking with Tim Sanders, New York Times best-selling author of five books with over a million copies in print. He is also most recently the VP of customer insights at Upwork. Tim, it's great to see you on screen if not in person.

 

Ted Sanders

It's great to see you again, Mike.

 

Mike Walsh

I think last time we caught up we were having a steak in Vegas. So, this is a new world and date.

 

Ted Sanders

It is a new world completely. And we were having some rum, I believe.

 

Mike Walsh

That's right. So, you know, long before the pandemic, there was already an accelerating shift in the way people not only worked, but how they were using and recruiting talent. Companies were looking for more agile, adaptive, increasingly contingent approaches. So, during this pandemic, which of these trends do you think have been most accelerated and why?

 

Ted Sanders

I think that once organizations got very comfortable with remote work, and they did between March and probably June of this year, they became even more comfortable with what we call independent professionals, freelancers, and independent contractors. You know that the hang up for several years about contingent labor was that we wanted them to be onsite, because we believed that just like with our full-time team members, they needed to be on site to be productive. So, we could look over them make sure they were, you know, doing their work.

 

Now that remote work is in place, remote workers can be found on platforms like Upwork, and there are real cost saving opportunities. But I think what's really been interesting this year is that organizations saw a surge in opportunity or demand and realized how really broken the talent acquisition process really was. On the one hand, you had the front door of a full-time hire, and those open job requisitions could languish for weeks or months.

 

And on the other hand, you'd go to a managed service like a staffing agency, and they would dispatch a group of temporaries, looking for their next gig at a markup of 100 to 200%. And between the two, you got your onsite talent, but it was either very slow or very expensive. This year, I call it the year of the third door. And that third door are independent marketplaces like Upwork, where you can directly access talent, bring them on to work remotely, and literally solve the faster, better, cheaper problem, that conundrum, if you will, that we've been facing in business for decades. So that's a big change for companies experiencing a surge. Here's what I'm seeing at the end of 2020. At the end of 2020, leaders I talked to, and I talked to at least two dozen leaders a week in my job. They're telling me that their full-time team members are on the brink of burnout.

 

They've been working 6, 12, 18 more hours a week, many times over the weekend, unable to peel themselves away from work. They've had hiring freezes, in some case, furloughs and some case cutbacks, and they are burned to the brink. And, so, what they're looking at now is on-demand networks to relieve them, especially around non-core work. So, for example, there's no reason that a software developer you pay $150,000 a year for should be doing code documentation on top of all the rest of her work.

 

That's an example of our managers saying, “let's bring somebody in to offload that heavy lifting”. And I see that as a real trend for 2021, that bringing in on-demand talent that you pay for out of op x, versus having on the balance sheet will be a way of not only rewarding your full-time team members, but protecting them from burning out and protecting your enterprise from incredibly hard turnover. I am predicting we'll see turnover next year like we haven't seen since 2009.

 

Mike Walsh

I want to come back to this question of burnout and work design. But, you know, first off, one of the challenges has, in the past, been the question of complexity. Because, if you're a big organization, then it's got a huge intake of regular people that you need in whether it's seasonal or it’s surge-related. Dealing with the complexity of all of those people has been why people have gone to staffing agencies. What’s changed?

 

Tim Sanders

Well, the platforms have changed for on-demand talent, right, so let's talk about what you mean by that is that enterprises want to manage supply chain and human talent is part of supply chain. Right? So, typically, contingent talent has been managed for decades out of procurement. And, they have the luxury of these vendor management systems, these managed service provider agreements with staffing firms, where budget burn-downs and unified invoicing was automatic and that gave a lot of comfort to procurement whose number one role was spend management, and that became kind of a lock-in mechanism.

 

Regardless of the fact that staffing agencies markup is approximately 100%, meaning if they pay the talent $30, they charge you $60. But, for enterprises, that was fine, because the alternative was the Wild Wild West. And over the course of the last, I would say four or five years, platforms, Upwork the one I work for and is the one I know the best, have gotten much more sophisticated to mimic the back-end capabilities of these vendor management systems, especially around spin management budget burn-down.

 

But what they deliver, Mike, that the traditional solution couldn't, was direct access to the talent. In other words, once you kind of solve this governance issue of budget burn-downs and making sure the invoicing is on point, what is revealed now with these on-demand platforms is the ability for a project manager to directly access the actual person they want to work on their project, based on their portfolio, based on a variety of different filters like fluent in English, in my time zone, and worked on more than 30 Enterprise projects. This is as opposed to outsourcing it and ceding control to talent acquisition, supply chain management, a third-party agency or a staffing firm. That control factor, I think, has been the lever that's driven more and more adoption of these on-demand platforms, as their functionality catches up from a governance standpoint.

 

Mike Walsh

You know, one of the original theories of the firm was based on the idea that you have organizations because it reduces the contracting costs of going to the market every time transactional costs. Yeah, yeah. Right. This is the theory of the firm. The actual costs are a part of it and complexity is another which you have spoken to, but there's another dimension here, which is sort of the cost of intellectual property or breaches. So, if you've now got people that are working for your competitors, you know, how do you actually manage working on sensitive things?

 

Tim Sanders

At Upwork, we've had to take a hard look at that, right? Because, much like any other cloud innovation, reliability and security are the initial objections that keep a market on pause. For example, Amazon Web Services launched in 2006, the market really didn't embrace it till probably 2009 and 10, when it had to, because of the recession for these exact reasons. How can we keep it secure? So, the first thing we've learned is we need to put elements in place contractually that protect organizations from hiring a freelancer who's working with a direct competitor. So, that's part of the solution that we've employed. There's more vetting that you can do, there's certification.

 

Recently, we entered into a collaborative, exclusive partnership arrangement with Citrix to create a Citrix desktop solution that can provide a safety and reliability for a non-FTP worker brought into the tech stack. I was having a conversation with one of the leaders at one of the leading technology companies in the world, and they use a whole lot of upworkers. And they use them on what you would consider intellectual property projects at the company, including having access to customer data and the actual mechanics. And they talk about using abstractions.

 

So, they say, once you start working with on-demand talent, you also start building abstractions. So, they're just one step beyond the actual data or systems control, where they're actually delivering all this work for API integration, for open source and for QA. But, there's no vulnerability on the part of your systems. By the way, these are the same abstractions these organizations used as they adopted cloud technology 2009 through current day, so I think it's just that story over again, where either it's the platform provider, or doing a better job either contractually or through vetting, whether it's third parties like Citrix providing an intermediary, or just the sophistication of the enterprise learning to use on-demand talent at a more sophisticated level, like with using abstractions.

 

Mike Walsh

You know, we were talking about how this is going to change the way we design organizations. And, I think you mentioned the core periphery model from Melissa Valentine. And you know, I've always been interested in this idea that you end up with a very skilled, very capable core inside the organization. And then, you have surrounding you all kinds of different, much more agile, flexible talent. You see this at Amazon, actually. Amazon has a lot of employees, but they have millions of people that are essentially not part of the core enterprise.

 

Tim Sanders

Yes. And some of them work 30 hours a week. Some of them work 30 minutes a week. It's so interesting, because what I believe that Jeff Bezos and even earlier, Larry Page, and a lot of other leaders in the Silicon Valley have figured out is that talent should be paid for based on consumption, not retainer. I'm telling you, it's like cloud computing, where we used to retain computers, and pay for them wholly, and then put them either on our premise or on a co-located facility. There was an incredible inefficiency, but we did that for the security, the peace of mind that we thought we always had access to it.

 

But now, think about how we pay for computing power. We pay for it based on consumption. So, I think that's the flip. And by the way, what you were referring to is Melissa Valentine. I'm going to put this graphic up here. There's a great book that came out in 2019, Mike. It's called The Technology Fallacy. I had an opportunity to interview the authors. It was published by MIT Sloan press and what they basically said is that digital transformation doesn't come down to getting access to technology. That's a fallacy. Digital transformation has to do with solving all the talent gaps in all the thousands of projects that are required to truly become digitally mature.

 

And, they quoted Melissa Valentine's research with all the Silicon Valley firms, many we've mentioned. And she said that what makes them remarkably different is the way they think about resourcing projects and programs. So, as you can see from this graphic, on the left, you've got this traditional talent model, where 85-90% of all the people working on your company's problem are full time employees and you've got this thin layer of outsource contingent, usually not on digital platforms, but by legacy relationship. And on the right, look at that bigger planet. You've got a smaller core, and you've got a massive periphery of talent that's paid for based on consumption instead of some old school 40 hour a week model.

 

Two benefits come from this: 1.) benefit one, you have a bigger planet working on your problem. So, you've got a lot more minds cross-pollinating across many more specialties. And that gives you a competitive advantage. 2.) benefit two, your anchors are a lot smaller, because when you take a look at a profit and loss statement, the anchor of a P&I is talent. Good news stabilizes the shipping port, bad news, if it's too big, ship can't get out of Port when the storms coming. So, I think that's what's really captured the imagination of business leaders over the course of just the last few years, is to really learn to think outside the hire, reconsider the theories of the firm, and begin to, to really think about the theory of the network. Because when I think of an Amazon or Google, I think of them more as a network of supply chains and value chains, than a singular firm. I guess that's why they call it alphabet, right?

 

Mike Walsh

You know, I can certainly see the positives of a world where, almost like making a movie, you are kind of algorithmically matched to opportunities that are both the best fit for your talents or ones that stretch and grow and nurture you. But then, there are two questions like who is ultimately responsible for nurturing talent, if you're on the periphery, and you're not in the core? And the second, and probably the more alarming question, goes to the goes to the future of inequality and the kind of society we live in where, you know, you have a handful of people who are very highly paid with a lot of security and tenure, and you have a huge contingent workforce.

 

Tim Sanders

Good questions, let's handle the first one. And the first one who nurtures talent. When I see organizations that really embrace on-demand talent, and they think about the core periphery model, they begin to rethink talent acquisition, and for example, Flex Era. It's a company out of Chicago, a technology company - they've really embraced in on-demand talent. They don't have a VP of talent acquisition anymore. They have a VP of talent access and he looks over both full time and on-demand talent the same. They're the same class of citizens in his mind. In fact, in the technology fallacy, they warn that you can't treat on demand talent by contractors, freelancers, you can't treat them like second class citizens, because you won't get the knowledge sharing. You won’t get them on your virtual talent bench.

 

So, you have to nurture them just like you do FTEs. But, that doesn't mean that they need to be fixed to your balance sheet. That doesn't mean that you have to arbitrarily retain them at 40 hours a week. So, here's the recommendation. If you're going to use on-demand talent, think about it from the standpoint of building a virtual talent bench. That's what a lot of big companies talk to me about now. We're building this virtual talent bench, we're actually willing to invest in them getting more upscaling training, because we think they have such great skills to bring to the table, we don't have to have 100% of their time in return, we just need them when we need them.

 

And they're building up that virtual talent bench, and developing loyalty by investing not only in paying them top dollar, because they can pay them top dollar and still save money on the total package. But second of all, giving them training resources. But let's turn to the second question. This is the more important one. And that is for the on-demand talents, what's their quality of income and quality of life like? Well, there's a few interesting things here.

 

We just published a recent report at Upwork called Freelancer for written in this massive study. 75% of the freelancers we interviewed say they're making as much are more money working independently than they did working full time, in some cases, two to three times more money. I want you to think about this from a sales standpoint, or I want you to think about it from your business as a consultant or a speaker, you get to write your own check. God forbid you work for some consulting firm like Deloitte that pinned you down to 180k a year plus benefits, when you could literally make 6x that much, if you found a way to turn it up. That's where independent professionals have as an opportunity. Upwards mission is to create economic opportunities so people have better lives. We're not like those price driven networks that try to create this race to the bottom so you can get a logo designed for $5.

 

So, I think it all depends on what platform you use. In fact, Upwards developed a product for enterprises, called a compliance product, where we classify that independent professional, and we classify whether they look like they should be treated as an employee, because of the amount of time they're working, how much access they have, to your systems, how much they're required to be at standing meetings, etc. And, we've created a third-party employer of record who not only payrolls, but also gives them benefits so they're working on-demand, but they have the same benefit as people working next to them. It's just that all the arrangements are separate from the enterprise, from the legal liability, where all the costs come into play.

 

Mike Walsh

My concern is that the people who are capable of making you know 6x what someone Deloitte would earn will always be okay. You know, they'll either be an incredibly in-demand employee, or there'll be someone who makes a fortune, you know, as an independent. But, for the 80% of people in the world who potentially have a more traditional relationship to work - those people need a kind of a safety net, to protect them and benefits. And it's not so much just for their individual sake, but for the kind of overall operations of society. What changes when we move to a complete on-demand talent model for those?

 

Tim Sanders

I don't think it's going to be complete - the freelancer form report showed that as much as it surged this year, it's one out of three. So, two out of three people still work full -time, one out of three works on-demand, but that one out of three makes a huge difference to enterprises that adopt it. So, I don't think it's ever going to be fully on-demand. But, this is a very interesting point. Is it a safety net? Or is it a tight wire? I mean, you put all your eggs in one basket, a company can lay you off, like the millions of people that have been laid off in 2020, due to COVID. You got nothing to fall back on but unemployment. The average Upwork independent professional works with three to five enterprises. A lot of them joined, as they used to work full time, got laid off, got surprised by a department reorg and had to start over again, going on unemployment, which is not even close to what you make as an employee.

 

After nine months of Cobra, you don't even have health insurance anymore. Now, they have three to five enterprise clients, where if one turns them off because of a budget cut, they have the other four to fill, and they can actually go answer more proposal opportunities on platforms and cover that. Surprisingly, Mike, a lot of people that joined in 2020 are never going back. In fact, 12% of the US workforce moved from full-time to freelance this year alone. 96% of them said they're never going back to putting all their eggs in one basket. So, I hear you, I really do. But, I just think there's an interesting, different way to look at it for that one out of three that works independently, especially those that are caregivers. Half of them that are caregivers said that's the number one reason they do it is that they get to spend time with those they take care of and couldn't do that in a full-time arrangement. So, I think there's two sides of it.

 

Mike Walsh

If you're starting out and then planning your career, what have you noticed from the most successful independent workers? What are the kinds of capabilities and skills and mindsets, they tend to, to embrace?

 

Tim Sanders

They’re entrepreneurial, they want to own a business. They don't look at this as a part-time job until they get a full-time job, like a temp does at a staffing agency. So, they have an entrepreneurial mindset. They want to be a business owner. They have a natural tendency to upskill to become the masters of their craft. They are absolutely driven, juiced and motivated by real-time reviews that come in as they deliver work, not just one time a year or four times a year, if they're lucky. So, those are psychological aspects.

 

Of course, when we talk about on-demand worker, we're talking about knowledge work. So, we've got 8000 skill sets on the Upwork platform, but basically, you have to do it from behind a computer. All the onsite work, or non-knowledge work, really isn't something that we're talking about, you know, right now. But fundamentally, you know, 10,000, or more people applied to be on the Upward platform a day, and only a few percent get on. And, that's because we want to make sure they're a business owner. We want to make sure they exhibit entrepreneurial personality. Because the enterprise feels the benefit, in that they're much more competitive to get higher ratings in the next job, than they are to play politics or fit in.

 

And I think all of those become like the psychological attributes required to do this type of on-demand independent work for your entire career. I also find that sometimes you have to work a few years full-time to really understand the benefit and the joy of working independently.

 

Mike Walsh

Well, we were talking a little earlier about work design. And, you know, one of the interesting tensions at the moment is that, in a time of increasing automation, a big part of people's jobs is actually thinking about almost how to destroy their own jobs, to actually think about the underlying process of the activity, figuring out there's a smarter way of doing it. If you can define a task easily enough for it to be outsourced, it probably should be done by a machine to start with. So, how do you get people that are essentially outsourced workforce also thinking in that way?

 

Tim Sanders

It's interesting that a lot of the people hired on-demand are hired to program machine learning for the purpose of automation. So, I think that it's an interesting mindset around project management. When I talk to a lot of companies these days, that are very sophisticated at project management, the reason is because they have a high project velocity that gets to the desired result very, very quickly, usually ahead of schedule. And by the way, that's the secret to success in business, I've learned over the last year. What I noticed is they have a different process around projects and programs. So, they create a project or a program. They defined the goal of it from a deliverable standpoint. And, the first thing they do is taskify it. And they say, what are all the tasks that need to be completed to achieve that deliverable, to hit that goal? And then when they look at that task list, they go, what can we automate? And then that eliminates a certain group of tasks.

 

Then they go, what can we outsource, or Upwork, or whatever that verb is, depending on what they use? And that becomes the second question. And then the third question they ask is, what can we hire for? Or what do we already have on staff? And then the fourth question they ask is, you know, what body can we steal? That’s a professional service term. What favors can we ask from across the matrix to get help? And so those organizations progressively say, automation, first, outsourcing second, in-sourcing third, and then matrix collaboration fourth, and it gives them a really nice efficiency.

 

So, it's like, everywhere you are in that that pile, you have to think downwards, right? So, it's like, if you are on-demand, you should always be upskilling to something that requires some type of creative design work. Because the one thing, and you know artificial intelligence better than I ever will, but the one thing that we aren't going to get until we get to deep learning is that different empathy set of skills that are required for creative problem solving, around designing the automation to begin with. People ask me all the time, what kind of work should I be in a world that's quickly going to automation and I say you need to at least understand how to program the machines.

 

You need to understand how to design the living systems that are complementary, you need to be able to learn to support the new critical path. My favorite book of the year, Competing in the Age of AI, just had a chance to interview Karim Lakhani for that, and he said that all the great companies like an Amazon, that the entire customer critical paths are going to be AI and all the people that work at that company are in charge of designing that critical path, but not being on it.

 

Mike Walsh

You know, right up front, we were talking about the changes being wrought by the shift to remote work. You've been looking at collaboration for years. What are you noticing that people are doing best when they make this type of hybrid environments work?

 

Tim Sanders

It's very interesting. In the most recent Harvard Business Review, you know the Harvard Business Review, you're published in it all the time. There is a cover story here about the great, you know, work from anywhere future. And, what the researchers say is they're finding that done, done, done right from a work design standpoint, collaboration is working better. And I'm surprised. Okay, so when I wrote, “DEALSTORMING”, a book on sales collaboration, I remember one of my advice points is if everybody can't be in the room, reschedule the meeting. And, what we're finding out now is that that's not very nuanced. That's just not really the truth. And here's a couple of reasons why. Number one, you don't have to round everybody up at the same time to successfully collaborate. Unless they're all extroverts, and then they love it. So that's the first thing we're learning. Asynchronous collaboration is what I'm seeing happen a lot more in 2020. And you know what, it's so much more inclusive, it harnesses so much more power of many great minds.

 

But, the second thing I’m really seeing is that when we're all on zoom, like we are in collaborating. When we do collaborate in real-time, we're all on a level playing field more or less. Think about the hybrid workforces that we had in the past, and the ones I'm scared about that are coming in the future, who are four people that are in a conference room, and six people who are on zoom. Who has the upper hand in that situation? So, the one thing I am seeing from work from home, in a remote-first environment, is a more level playing field. The other end last little thing is I think we're learning to become more intentional about collaboration.

 

So, we approach collaboration now for the purpose of problem solving, as opposed to approaching collaboration as something we just do together as a team and conversation. And I think intentionality is the word of 2020. Because what the researchers around creativity say is that when you tell people we're going to collaborate to solve a problem, you trigger incubation between the invitation stage and the actual iteration stage, and it produces a lot more output. So, I think, done right, asynchronous collaboration on a level playing field can actually produce more innovation than what we've seen up till 2020. And that surprises me.

 

Mike Walsh

And I totally agree with you, when you've got half the room in physically there and the other half on screens, you get a weird power imbalance. But that hybrid environment is going to be exactly what we're going to have in the next couple of years. What protocols can you put in place to make that more of a level playing field?

 

Tim Sanders

So, there's two types of hybrid coming. Well, let's talk about the different work designs, okay? There's going to be remote first. That's what we have at Upwork. So, our first inclination is that you're going to work from anywhere and we will have some office spaces in the Silicon Valley for intentional collaboration where it's absolutely qualified. Then there's remote last, that's what most companies had up until 2020. That means we expect you to come to the office, but we'll make exceptions for certain people given certain unique situations. Now, there's this thing called hybrid, but hybrid breakdown breaks down into two disciplines; design in, opt-out.

 

So, some of the firms are saying we're going to design a certain type of week. You're here half the time you're not here half the time. Or we're going to design something where we say people that are in more collaborative disciplines need to be in the office together. Sometimes the sales organization says we're going to design it where the junior people that need to be next to each other for motivation have to come into the office, the more experienced people can work from anywhere. That's called design-in. That looks like the more popular one I'm seeing right now. But, there's no math to support it. So, it's all guesswork. I just smirk when I see somebody say, oh, we're going to do this hybrid model half in and half out, and I just say why? Tell me why it's half and half, why it's not 1/3, two thirds. Why it's not 2080. Because there needs to be math behind that, because it's going to present a recruiting challenge for top talent.

 

Because, top talent is going to gravitate to organizations that fit their work life design preference and what the research says is the highest functioning people in the workforce, hate commuting and they hate business travel. The lowest functioning people in the workforce love being in the office and don't mind commuting. There's real research for this. So, I worry a little bit about design-in. Opt-out simply says are there people that don't want to come into the office for healthy security reasons? That's a smaller piece of it, but I'm hearing that also. I think it's going to be very hard to figure out I really do. I think they'll get there, but what I worry is they've got to have protocols in place so that if there is a hybrid workforce, we don't make second class citizens out of those that continue to work from anywhere.

 

So, there's a book coming out in January, our common friend, David Burkus, is publishing. It's called “Leading from Anywhere”. And that is his number one takeaway from the research. If everyone is not going to be in the conference room, then no one should be in the conference room. Everyone should go to their desk and get on a common platform like zoom so we can have a level playing field. I think that's one work design solution, moving forward for the hybrid workforce that collaborate and work together as a team.

 

Mike Walsh

Tim, it's great to have you on the show. Thank you very much.

 

Tim Sanders

My pleasure.



Transcribed by https://otter.ai


The Growth Connection Episode 5

By Felicia Labbe | Mar 08, 2021 | Comments Off

There are countless competent people in this world, but there are precious few virtuosos.
A lot of time, practice and self-awareness can take you to that next level.

Welcome to The Growth Connection, a podcast to help us all look forward to this year with a growth mindset. We'll feature interviews with cmi's elite roster of experts in the areas of diversity, leadership, the future, mentorship, performance, teamwork and inspiration.

On today's episode...

GC episode 5 FINAL

Mike Rayburn and Vinh Giang will leave you inspired to do the hard work, as they explore how to become a master at your craft.

After all, when you look back at your life, there is almost nothing that you're proud of, that was easy.

Mike Rayburn is a TEDx Presenter who teaches innovation, change and peak performance using world-class guitar and humour to create a transformational experience and generate exponential results. When organizations need innovation, change and peak performance, where do they go? Usually to business leaders, authors, or famous sports figures. Rarely do they go to artists! Yet, for artists, innovation, peak performance, and change are their lifeblood. Being a mega-successful artist and an innovative entrepreneur, Mike Rayburn is uniquely qualified to teach artistic principles in a business context and give businesses and teams the edge they need to perform like virtuosos.

For more than 15 years, Vinh Giang has pursued his passion for MAGIC. This mesmerizing, mysterious art form can compel audiences to shift perspectives, suspend disbelief, entertain with wonder, and inspire people in extraordinary ways. It is his exciting privilege to share this fascinating art with people all over the globe. Vinh is one of the world's top keynote speakers. There are common threads between the worlds of business and magic. Timing. Practice. Skills. Connection. Momentum. Persuasion. Perspective. Influence. Vinh has made the art of weaving those threads into messages that matter. Every year he speaks to over 100,000 people at 80 events around the world.

 

Takeaways

  • The importance of practicing the things you don't like to do
  • Learn how to build greater self awareness
  • Find skills and capabilities you didn't know you possessed
  • How becoming a Virtuoso creates job security and personal growth

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Transcript

Vinh Giang
Well, welcome, Mike, I have been tasked with the job of interviewing you on mastery for this podcast. And this is a speaker interviewing a speaker. So this this should be really interesting.

Mike Rayburn
Yeah, yes. And it could be just as easily me interviewing you on mastery. So I just want you to know that.

Vinh Giang
Well, why don't we start here, Mike? What defines mastery, and then what are the benefits of mastery? For people who, you know, may not be in a job where they think they should master?

Mike Rayburn
Mastery is the highest level of excellence. It's the quintessential manifestation of your abilities in in your greatest area of expertise. And so I look at mastery, the benefits of it are...we all in one way or another seek and value mastery, we may not know. But trust me, if you're having a hard operation, you want the best surgeon on the planet, you want the master, you don't want the guy who got C's in class, you don't want the guy who got B's, or even B pluses, you want the A plus. The guy who's best on the planet. And so obviously, with health, I'm making an extreme example there. But the same thing, if you go to Carnegie Hall, you want to hear a master form. If we if we come to your program, we want to hear mastery on communication, and the visual ways that you illustrate we want it we don't want to see your B show, we don't want to see, we want to see the best. And so people innately value that. And so the value of offering that is that you're sought after is that you get to perform venues or in the greatest mediums for your art form or business or whatever it is that you are gifted with.

Vinh Giang
So I mean, that's one of the benefits of mastery, right, is that there'll be a high demand for whatever it is that you offer. Do you think there are other benefits to mastery as well?

Mike Rayburn
I think there's a personal benefit, and what not, and a lot of the you know, as speakers, we're into personal development. So looking at what our gifts, our purpose, our talents, and that kind of thing, what our what our innate design is, I found that there are two words, it's great just, I had a mission statement. I had, I've taught this for years, and I did a program with a friend of mine, which revealed some things I hadn't realized, there's two words, that's out in just my design. One is mastery, and the other is transformation. And so personally, for me, when I feel like I've done something on a masterful level, or I've done something that I feel like creeps into the world of mastery, and I do think it's very difficult. I feel great. It makes me it's a it's a personal satisfaction that that goes beyond anything else for me. And I would assume that and although I'm not putting myself in this category, I'm assuming this would be for a Michael Phelps, or for anyone who's you know, Martin Martina Navratilova in her day, whom I got to interview about this, by the way to talk about that. And the anybody who's reached the upper echelons of what they do, imagine, they just love the fact that they're there. Does that make sense?

Vinh Giang
Yeah, it does. And what do you think a lot of people pursue mastery? Do you think this is something that a lot of people do? What what are your thoughts on that? And if people don't think people do, why don't people pursue it?

Mike Rayburn
I don't think as many people do, as I wish did. I always, one of the things that I teach is that is to make the choice to become a virtuoso becoming an elephant. Begin I in fact, I have an entire TED talk on this the most. First of all, mastery is not never an accident. No one is just even the most gifted. savant, okay, is not born with mastery. They're born with incredible ability. But there has to be a decided it's a choice to. And so I ask people to make the choice to become a virtuoso. A master someone who's wakes up in the morning making the choice for excellence. So often that it's not even a choice anymore. It's become who you are. And so opposite of virtuoso isn't failure. The opposite to me, the opposite of virtuoso, is competent.

There's countless competent people in this world. There are precious few virtuosos. But what we find is the greatest impact, the greatest influence, the greatest income happen while pursuing the path from competent to virtuoso. And so I make the point that most adults never make this decision, even people who like what they do, they don't make a conscious decision. Instead, they rise to the level of good enough or okay or acceptable and measure by What's Required, rather than their personal best. Which is what we're talking about. And keep in mind, there are two different levels to this that, at least in my perception. There's the level of World Class Mastery, which is when you get the people that we've all heard of, sorry, you know, the people who, who are the best at what they do. There's also personal mastery. And for me to be the best I can personally be, might not put me on the world stage, but it will put me at my personal best. And again, there's a personal satisfaction that comes with that. And so most folks never make that choice for personal best.

Instead, they do what's comfortable. Okay. Does that make sense? Do you think?

Vinh Giang
Yeah, it does I mean, do you think they don't kind of pursue mastery? Because they think, well, I could never be the Michael Jordan. And they don't realize that there's that personal level of mastery that they should aim for. And that's just as you know, that that can be exceptionally rewarding as well.

Mike Rayburn
Yes, I think yes, I think that can be defeating to think, oh, and we all have that sort of the imposter syndrome or the, or the intimidation that comes from looking at, wow, this person is on this level, there's no way. So what? And I, I jokingly said that when I watch somebody play something amazing on the guitar, and I go, alright, I'm selling it for firewood. Which is not true. But but but that's just the fun throwing, but there Yes, I believe that there are people who get defeated by Yeah, by the intimidation of not thinking that it's possible. And that becomes a lot of mastery. And I know, you know, this and, and I would love to hear your thoughts on this. But it comes down to belief, your personal beliefs about what is possible, what's possible for you, or what you might not know as possible. I think that's part of the key. And this is fun, because I'm exploring some things I haven't really thought about what you might not know as possible, because every human I've never met anyone who isn't capable of more than they think they are. Learned anyone who isn't capable more than they think they are.

Vinh Giang
Because I love that statement. Yeah.

Mike Rayburn
And so in fact, I need to hold on to that. Not bad. And so, so what so what we have to work on mastery is first a decision. And then it's your work on your beliefs, you know, what are your beliefs about what's possible, and then it comes down? Of course, we're gonna get to this, but it'll come down to work ethic. But I don't know, do you think about that mean, when you go to do what you do, which is so do you? Where do your beliefs about what's possible come in

Vinh Giang
Well, for me, I have to take a step back, because when I didn't understand mastery, and I didn't think of it as a food I've never tasted before, I never knew how amazing it was. And he almost took me kind of having First of all, just go, Okay, I'm just gonna have blind faith for this and go, look, let's just try it. And then pursuing it and then trying and then getting little glimmers of the benefits, or some of the benefits coming through it. And I was like, oh, man, this is actually amazing. This is incredible. Yeah, and I think that the the quote that I always think of is the the Steve Martin quote, be so good, they can't ignore you, right? And, to me, the undertone of that is mastery. And the moment I build a little bit of mastery, like you said, just kind of creep into that realm. You go, Wow, not many people are playing at this level. And then mastery makes the competition irrelevant. Whereas before I was competing my ass off, right? And then then when you're exposed to this world, and you see it, here's the problem, because once you see it, you can't unsee it,

Mike Rayburn
which You're so right. And, and the Great One of the things that I just noticed from what you said there is, and I've taught this in a different way, but I didn't see it until in this light until you just said it is that the real competition is with yourself. Once you get the real competition is no longer what's out there. It's It's It's with yourself. And I imagine that any of the great golfers any of the great even business people, even the whatever the medium is, if you talk to the greatest, they'll tell you that really who the one that they're competing with is themselves to Trump better what they do rather than To judge what they do or improve or not improve what they do based on others. I think that I think that happens in the beginning. I think we all get it for you. And I look at some speaker who's really good and go, man, I really want to be. Yeah, so we compete on that level. But once you get to a certain level, then you realize, hold it. I'm off blazing my own trail here. I mean, you're blazing your own trail with what you do. You're what you do. I mean, for better, for worse, there's nobody who does what you do. And so if you want what you do, you come to you. And so you're, you're now you no longer are you kind of left behind the people who were you were kind of competing with the beginning, and you're on that path. I like to think that I may be on the same kind of a path. And so it becomes, how, how can I personally be better, without without worrying about what others are doing? Does that make sense? Yeah, I

Vinh Giang
think if people understood what you said that it's going to help them begin the journey, I think so often, we don't begin the pursuit of mastery, because we're comparing ourselves to other people, and we feel defeated in the process. You know, where's what what you're saying is, you've got this is about you, this is you versus you, you know, and, and in a way that makes it easier to start. Because if I just have to be better than I was yesterday, and that's how I learned a new instrument. That's easier than if I wanted to be better than Mike Rayburn. Right? It makes it easier to start. So we kind of just discussed what mastery is. And one of the barriers for people to begin the journey and mastery. I feel like the big question that I'm most interested in is in your world and the world of music, and then how do we translate that to everybody else? But how do you achieve mastery? Like, let's get to the how to

Mike Rayburn
write, I'm going to be a contrarian here. And people say, Well, you can be whatever you want to be. It's just about your you cannot. There's no way in the world that I could be a good accountant. I just I might have a master but I. Okay, there there are things that you then could not be good at. You're great. Yeah.

Vinh Giang
Can't be a doctor can't be an accountant or a lawyer. No. Okay, there you go.

Mike Rayburn
There you go. Now, you. But so the first step to mastery is finding something that you are absolutely gifted with and absolutely passionate about. And there are things that I am gifted with it. I am not passionate about, for instance, math, and math, and I hate math. There are things that I am passionate about, and I'm not very good at. I am passionate about endurance sports, cycling, running, and I'm decent at it. But But I'm flat footed as well. So that's God's way of saying learn with Canvas. That's not your goal. That's not your nobody's gonna lose to me. I'm in that area. But when I found guitar, a combination of guitar performance, and then this is the part that people don't, because they notice the guitar, they lose this part, but exploitation, or personal development. Somebody once said, I was probably 30 years old before I realized this. Maybe a little older. We're talking about it was a little group that had gotten together, we're talking about each person's gifts and talents. And my guests music and performance and comedy and and somebody said, well, Mike, this is a very close friend. So he knew me. Well. They said, Mike, I think your gift is exhortation. And I said, What's that? I know you've heard the word. And he said, I mean, I'll give you the definition in a second. But he said, it matters to you that the people around you do better. And I almost cried because he nailed it. And I didn't even realize. And so it does. It matters to me. I need to know that what I'm doing is somehow informing uplifting teaching edifying others, is it that people benefit from it? Which is why when my dad gave me it was no accident. In I think from cons level, not my dad's that my dad gave me the book Psycho Cybernetics when I was in 11th grade. So I'm in high school, that's heavy reading. For me. It's about belief, the power of the mind the power of focus, the power of believing something strong enough that it becomes reality. And this is 11th grade, I'm reading this stuff. And so when I realized that that combination of music, comedy, or performance and personal develop excitation, those were all I didn't even know what a speaker was. I didn't until a friend of mine said, you're cleaning your funding, you have a message your speaker, you don't even know it. And I was the speaker, you know, and so I believe the first step is to identify what you're great at, and what you love.

Vinh Giang
So did you feel like do you feel like people always come up with the excuse of saying to you why I'm not good at anything. I'm passionate about a lot of things, but I'm just not good at anything. Yeah,

Mike Rayburn
what do you say to that? Um, excuse me, but bullshit.

Vinh Giang
So you call them out on it, I like it.

Mike Rayburn
And I call, I call Excuse me, I should have spoken that way. But I say it that way, because I want the edge there. I want someone to take an edge that because it's freakin not true. My book is called What if in the first sentence of the entire book is you are a genius. And I'm not a motivational speaker rah rah, because I don't believe in that. I say it because it's demonstrably true. We're all genius. But we're all genius in a different way. And quite often, our area of genius, first of all, was probably it might have been laughed at or just not accepted. And so we went, Whoa, can't do that. And we've done we'll be like everyone else. And what we find is that your greatest impact influence and income will come from how you're different. And so your area of genius. And also, like, for me, your genius might be a combination of things that others don't have. And that's, that's what it is for me. And I would say it's probably what it is for you as well. But yeah, I'm by for instance, I am not the best guitarist in the world. I am not the best comedian in the world. And I'm not the best speaker in the world. However, I'm the greatest freakin combination of the three of them. Now, I might only combination of the three of them, and that's fine. Okay, but, but I, I that's me. And that's my expertise. That's my genius. And I ask people questions like, what is it that you and you alone can do? Or what is and I want to I want people to think on that because I would sit down with a piece of paper and an hour and your favorite beverage and light a candle and write what you and you alone knew. And then the same question phrased differently is, what is it that you do better than anyone on this planet?

Vinh Giang
Right, because people thinking in kind of thinking it with a singular mind. I think it's one thing that I'm going to be good at. But what you're saying it's the combination of things that makes you a genius, not one single thing.

Mike Rayburn
Right. And I've listened to your rotation. And I've watched you and your genius is not just your message, and it's certainly not I mean, I say certainly meaning I know, you're not there yet. You know, illusionist, you're gonna use that. But you're an expert and masterful way that will reach people that no one else can reach. I mean, people, there are people there, might you and I might look at our presentations and think, Oh, look, we both teach this or we both teach this. But you're going to teach it in a way that no one else could hear that. So there's somebody out there can only hear from you in that way. And yeah, same thing true for me. And so anyway, I believe that everyone does have a genius. And it's just sometimes it's a combination.

Vinh Giang
But But I love the clarity that you provided just now is that so many, I think, again, a huge block for people is that they go Well, I'm not good at any one thing. However, the answer that you just so eloquently provided us is that it's the combination of things and this is why I think a lot of young people struggle with this because you don't have multiple things to pull from just yet. You know, like, it's so important that you go in and, and gather these different ingredients so that when you bring them together, you create something truly unique. And and it's okay that you're not good at anything yet, because you're still young, right? I think that's something people struggle with.

Mike Rayburn
Yes. And there's two adages of mastery that have to do with the number 10, sort of the number 10 or do this will run, when you find that it usually takes 10 years of exploration, where you're usually studying masters is even Mozart, you listen to the things he did at a very young age, you know, you're listening to a symphony, and y'all he composed that at seven, for real. Wow. Now, you look at that funny, and it doesn't change the world. It's Mozart, but it's Mozart before we became Mozart, okay, it was his development period. So there's usually it's obviously going to vary, but it's usually a 10 year development period that almost everyone who becomes a master goes through. We're not a master, where they're exploring where they're trying. You see this with Stevie Ray Vaughan, who's my all time favorite guitarist, where he went through a period where he's learning this plan in these blues clubs. And then he's trying to emulate he can sit there and sound exactly like Clapton. He gets on exactly like Hendrix. He can sound exactly like, you know, whomever he wanted to. But it wasn't until after those years of doing that, that his own style emerged. And that's when he became, he changed the world of guitarists. And so we find that so that's one divisible 10 and the other one is, is the famous in the book outliers? Yeah, that's about the 10,000 hours 10,000 hours to be to become a master of anything. I will generally agree with that with one a really important caveat. And that is the difference between 10,000 hours of practice versus deliberate practice.

Vinh Giang
Right?

Mike Rayburn
The difference there is practice. I mean, I could pick up the guitar and play 12 hours a day. But if I'm simply going over solos, I enjoy playing the things I like going over songs, trying something that I heard here, whatever in a haphazard way, or just in a way that makes me feel good for 12 hours, or just whatever I'm putting in the hours. But I'm really not getting anywhere. That's practice. deliberate practice, is where you're focusing on what number one is your greatest opportunity, number one is your greatest need to improve number two, improve. When I practice. I will make a point of, of looking for first is one of the pieces that I played it's I don't know how many people in the world can play a bill on it very few play it on a guitar, and that is Bohemian Rhapsody as a classical piece. And so all the parts are coming out of one instrument, I don't even sing it. So it's all coming out of the instrument. It took a freakin long time to get. And there are certain passages, certain areas that are still challenges to this day. I practice those a heck of a lot more than I practice the rest of the piece because the rest of the piece, but there's certain parts. I mean, I explained them somewhere that there's certain parts I know are more difficult. So the people who become masters are the ones who focus on one focus on the area of their expertise that needs work.

Vinh Giang
See, but that that's such a that's such an almost a foreign way of looking at practice for for many people, because practice. That means practice is painful.

Mike Rayburn
Yeah, wow. Yes. But yes, it can uncertainty is it can be painful. Yes. And you show me any world class athlete who said no, no, they all know it's painful. They know, they were uncomfortable, slathering and hurting and all that kind of stuff. And that's, that's what it takes. But there's also there's a satisfaction to it. But yeah, I have a good friend who made an observation a minute about me. So I'll just share. I humbly share that he said this, to me that was I felt was a compliment. But it was an honest question. I had no, he said, he said, I know why you're good. And I said, Okay, I'm listening. He said, You fell in love with practicing. And I went you are. So I love the practice.

I look forward.

I wish I could just do nothing. But practice. I got too many other things I do. Really? That's crazy. I wish I could practice all the time.

Vinh Giang
How did you fall in love with doing what's hard?

Mike Rayburn
Well, I'm passionate about Oh, and hard is not actually, I don't know, maybe I'm different. I know, you're probably the same way. But he almost has to have a challenge to it or be hard for me. I don't want it. I'm not bored with it. Look, when you look back, there is almost nothing in your life that you're proud of that was easy.

Vinh Giang
That's true,

Mike Rayburn
that you are proud of. And I look back at the things I'm proud of having done the first hologram performance of onstage with Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, I did a duet with myself. And I was a hologram and all this. Wow. That was the closing of the 2014. NSA conference in San Diego. And so I no one had ever done it. I love to do things. No one's ever done. But I feel

Vinh Giang
like the reason Yeah, I mean, in what you're saying you love it. Because you know, what it brings, you know, the feeling that it brings once you have practiced it, and you've gotten good at it? You know, I think I think a lot of people just again, unaware of the benefits of mastery. And and it's just inspiring to hear you talk about it. And I think the the question that I really want to ask you, Mike is if if I'm an accountant, or I'm an electrician, or I'm so I'm a sales rep for a drug company. How do I apply mastery there? I mean, I understand deliberate practice, but how does it translate to the professional world? Well, you know, for people who are in our world, you know, of practicing magic or practicing music,

Mike Rayburn
right? Imagine you're passing music, we get that. And so our challenge, the reason we have a career is what we do is we translate that to business every day. And so, yes, so how does that translate it translates in every way you can do it. So I look at it and I asked people to make to do an exercise. Yeah, I can do my full presentation and I'm talking about becoming a virtual so I asked him to do an exercise and I don't have time in a keynote to do it. But in a workshop I would When I say I want you to write this question at the top of a piece of paper and then answer it, the question is, what would it take for me to become a virtual? So I ask people to do this exercise. And I say, I'll guarantee you three things about if you'll do this exercise number one, it probably won't take you more than about 10 minutes. That's because you already know the answers. Most of us know exactly what we need to do. We just don't do it. Yeah. Now I believe are true. Yeah, me too. And so so it's like, hey, well, let's quit keeping them out here. Put them on paper, and do it. And number three, it'll change your life. And it doesn't mean that you're going to be, you know, type a 24 hours a day. I don't think that's mastery or success. It's simply saying, My time is worth it.

Vinh Giang
Yeah. But this is this is the thing that I feel is that during this whole pandemic, I think what's become extremely apparent Mike, is that people who are virtuosos are the people who are still relevant. But in, in in times of in terms of confidence ease, then sure, you can get away with average you can get away with satisfactory, but during a time of an emergency or a pandemic, like we are right now, then the average starts to sink to the bottom and the only thing that stands out is are the masters. Correct? You know, and I think that that's clearly one of the benefits that I hope as people listen to you, they start to realize is that again, Steve Martin Rob be so good. They can't ignore you if you're gonna do it anyway. Be so damn good at it that people can't ignore you. And you're recession proof you're pandemic proof if you do this.

Mike Rayburn
What we found as speakers during the pandemic was a chance to find out how many of us number one walk or talk.

Vinh Giang
Yeah, true.

Mike Rayburn
No talk, we're walking.

Vinh Giang
I can tell you now that right at the beginning of the pandemic, it is shoves me on my face. And I was like, Damn, I'm, it's so hard to walk the talk right now. Because things are so hard. So I really did put all of us to, to the test. On the topic of before, you know, how do we build mastery? Like I say, thank you for the answer. It just gave so much insight even for me, you know, inside I haven't thought about before as well. And I just want to ask you, do you do you think? What about self awareness though? What What if there are people who think to themselves are more I'm already great at this. You know, how do we how do we approach that? You know, I mean, I fell victim to that in the world of magic. I was like, Oh, I'm already really good. Until someone, you know, cared enough and told me an attender away at a very tender way that now you're not making the kind of crap. So how do you do that self awareness? Or do you need other people? Can you build your own self awareness? Or,

Mike Rayburn
well, you got that self you got, we get self awareness from outside ourselves. You know, I had one time where I did a program for it used to be called IMG Corporation, they're not for you. And I did a program for them in Minneapolis. Standing ovation, encore sold every piece of you know, CDs, books and everything that I brought with me. So Tuesday, do Asians buy everything and the woman who booked me, sat down with me afterwards, and I'm like, sitting down to get my do accolades. And she said, these words to me, I'll never forget it. She said, Mike, that was good. Let me tell you how you can be great. And I was like, What she did was she pointed out a part of my program. That was slow. And as soon as she said it, I knew it. I knew she was. And the audience was way more forgiving. But if you just go by the audience, that's not a full, it's good indicator, but it's not the full indicator. So he was right. So once I improved that, my show got that much better. So I think it's a kiss of death to think that you are the master I consider myself I I don't think that I am a virtuoso. But I have made the choice to be on that path. And I know a lot about the path. That's what I teach. I don't always I don't think that I am and I have other people say people have people say that I am I that others say maybe I'm not. And so I don't. You know, I don't think myself and I think that when we start to think that,

Vinh Giang
yeah,

Mike Rayburn
it's kind of the kiss of death.

Vinh Giang
It's like that paradox, right? The moment the master stops being a student, the master is no longer a master. It's a kind of strange paradox. You have to continue to be a student in order to be a master. It's just it's such a strange paradox. Yeah, and

Mike Rayburn
Robert Fripp, you know, who's, who's Patricia Fripp sister Patricia grips, one great speakers who will Robert Fripp is one of the Greatest Guitarists in the world. He's on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the Top 100 Guitarists of All Time and I studied with him, and I studied with him over I went over to Spain and stayed with him for a week in a monastery. What He made a point. And this is guy who's one of the I mean, rolling phone calls in one of the 100 best there has ever been. Right? He said, you are a teacher, you have a teacher and you are a teacher, always, huh, or a teacher, and you have a teacher, always. So we're always helping those who are coming up, or helping those around us who are peers, like you and I help each other. We're peers where we can help each other. And you're always learning from someone. And if you lose that, you're not.

Vinh Giang
That's such such a great ingredient. I love that. And, and again, I just again, I really think that, like you said that self awareness is so important. And we can only get that self awareness from an external kind of perspective of awareness. So, you know, regardless of what industry, you're in those of you listening to this, I think it's very important to build that self awareness because that that then lights a bit of a fire under your ass to go. Let's find that teacher. Yes, because that's what we need to be able to pursue mastery.

Mike Rayburn
Right? It might be a group of teachers.

Vinh Giang
Yeah, absolutely. And that's something that I find kind of keeps me in check is by always having a teacher in my life. You know, and I love it, thank you for providing and something really cool that I've just got here. And in the world of magic, this is something we use, right, we use a, we use a three way mirror. So this, this is a three way mirror to help us build self awareness. And, and no matter what we do, even as speakers, we film ourselves to build self awareness. So I think that that self awareness ingredient is such a critical element when it comes to mastery.

Mike Rayburn
Do you

see that however we do that? Well, if you were at my program, I would ask you afterwards, what do you think what what? And and you'd probably be very gracious to say, Hey, good program, Hey, I just maybe let's think about this, you know, and we need to become sponges for that. What gets in the way of mask ego can mastery but can also it's a double edged sword, it's.

Vinh Giang
And also, I think what's really interesting is most people are afraid to tell us the truth, though. Most people are afraid to tell us how we can improve. I often tell this to, you know, to the younger people that I sometimes speak to, I say to them, the five closest people to you, they know how you can improve, they're just afraid to tell you because they're afraid to hurt your feelings. So I think learning how to create a safe environment to seek feedback. And make sure you seek feedback from the right people as well. Don't just ask random people, if you ask the random audience how you can improve as a speaker, you may get a mixed bag of beans, right? So to me who you ask and learning how to create a very safe environment so that you can learn how to improve because again, the secrets to you unlocking the next trajectory in your life, the closest people to you around you, they tend to know they're just not telling you.

Mike Rayburn
Exactly which is where I am such a proponent of mastermind groups. Because I mean, yes, mastermind groups where you know each other you get to know each other, so it becomes a regular thing. Yeah. And, and you know, you have each other's backs, I'm in one called an M six. There's six of us. Dan Thurmond, Tim guard Walden, Walden, Chad hymas, dan Burris and me and, and just those just, if I would just sit as a fly on the wall, listen, those five talk, okay? Because then I would benefit from it. But when they you know, they've got your back. You know, they love you know, that they're, they you know, that they would never say something to cut you down. They don't need the ego act. You know, they're not in that ego trip of having to put others down so they feel better about themselves. They're helping you get better. That's an environment you want. That's, that's where mastery, fostered and nurtured and watered and wrong,

Vinh Giang
that's again, another ingredient that's necessary as you move towards mastery, a safe environment and a group of people who who love and want to see you succeed.

Mike Rayburn
Yeah, you know, there's there's two other points to make sure that we get into this that I think that as I was preparing for this, that I wanted to share about mastery. mastery, growth toward mastery is always greater focus on detail. It's always greater focus on detail. When you're in the beginning of something, you learn the general way it works. And you just find what you know, if you're learning to play American football, and you learn how to throw the ball, how to catch the ball, how to, you know, run with the ball, if you don't learn that you're not learning the details, yet further and further along in your growth, no matter what it is. You're getting, you get you have greater and greater focus on detail. So right now, I might play all the notes of a piece correctly. When I listened to the way this passage worked with this passage or the way, or the maybe the little buzz I had on the string of the frets. Or maybe I've altered the tempo in a way I shouldn't have that, Oh, these tiny little details. And those are what I need to work on. And so our perspective gets more and more microscope. And as you get better as you get as speakers, we will now I mean, when you start, you're just trying to memorize your speech, you're trying to get up there and say something, hopefully, we'll make some impact or whatever. But as you get better and better at it, as you get, as you get deeper into this and more time into it, then you realize, hold it. When I step over, when I look away at this, what or Hey, I've got this little tendency, I keep looking to the right, more than I look to the left, or, you know, there's little details that you do that become important to see, for instance, I have a tendency to speak too quickly. And so once I realized, I can slow down, I started studying come comedians, like Ron White, who speaks impossibly slowly. But you know, but those little details. So whatever career it is, as you get better at accounting, as you get better at engineering, as you get better at computers, as you get better at sales, sales, detail thing you get the simple details can make or break a sale. But in the beginning, it's just like, Do I know my product? Or how am I presenting to them? What What am I supposed to say here? Once you get into it more you realize about the connection and the relationship and the little details that might help that person make a decision? You know what I'm saying?

Vinh Giang
Yeah, no, I there's so many kind of common threads between your message and my message, and I think even like you said, in the professional world. As magicians, we have to learn sleight of hand first, the general sleight of hand. And then we call the area of specificity that you talk about the microscope we call it subtleties. So then magicians learned that this little subtlety, the art of subtleties, can actually make this trick turn into a piece of astonishing magic. And that often is the difference between, again, a trick, and then an astonishing moment. And the difference is in the subtleties.

Mike Rayburn
Yes and no. And what we're both saying is that this is true for any career is true. This is true for parenting. It's true for your health. It's true, it's true. Anything that really matters. If you want to become a national, it is a greater focus on detail. And really Yes, I think the other the other thing that I wanted to share is something that I call and I think I named it this, I don't think anybody told me this, but I call it the law of diminishing returns. As you get better, it takes more to achieve less. So as you get and you have to embrace this point, okay? Because what happens is in the beginning, I can pay a coach to help me speaking, and they, they give me all these ideas, I go, Wow, this is great, I change this thing and did whatever. As you get really good. You're paying a coach to help you make one little change. But those who are masters embrace that fact, and they still do what that work is to get them all that work to get that little bit better. Does that make sense?

Vinh Giang
Absolutely. And then you put it in such an inspiring way, you know, thank you for revealing that word to us in such an intimate way. Because I think often people don't pursue mastery because a they don't understand it. Be again, no one speaks to the benefit of it in the way that you just just have. Hope people feel excited. Because it's a whole new world.

Mike Rayburn
Yeah, I have to I have to, like keep my nerd side in check here because I get and I did it. So good. I wouldn't This is why I needed to teach, teach and sharing but I wanted to teach this mastermind cuz I get into it. And I think that I lose people you know, I think people don't know.

Vinh Giang
I don't think you're losing people. I think I think your your excitement comes through and your dedication towards your own craft and also your passion for teaching people this I think is it's shining through Mike and, and and not what I love about just Alcoa now and I'll kind of chat now is that. I mean, I believe I pursue mastery and you've excited me to also continue the path of mastery as well because you're right. It's the little things now at our level that makes the biggest difference. And I think for most people, like again, hear mark out, if you can become a virtuoso in your space, you're gonna become so good that you're calling your customers and your clients, they can't ignore you and it no longer becomes Should I work with Mike, it's how do I get to work with Mike right? And when you get to play again in that arena.

Mike Rayburn
Yes, it's a different world. And it's also you are talking about freaking job security. Yeah. What you do, because that's one of those things where you're the best at what you do or one of the best if you're not your boss. Or your organization is your clients are not treating you like what you want, you'll find some others because people desire mastery. They don't.

Vinh Giang
I was reading the book on Netflix, and one of the tests they do on Netflix is they they, you know, they say, Well, if this employee is thinking about leaving, would I fight for them to stay? And I think all of us have to ask ourselves that question, right? If, yeah, if we wanted to leave, you know, Karen, who's our beautiful manager who helps us manage our entire business if we wanted to leave, which he fought for us to stay? And you know, it's it's one of those things where, if you are a virtuoso in what you do, and you're in your company, if you wanted to leave, would they fight for you? And I think if you are a virtuoso Hell, yeah, they're gonna fight for you. But again, if you're just average, they'll probably be like, Yeah, sure. Absolutely.

Mike, did

you have any concluding thoughts on mastery? If if people are kind of again, again, I just think that if you tasted this, you can't

go back. But this is what this is. The message is, do you have a message to send to those people who have never tasted this before? And you're trying to convince them? This is the best food in the world? What would you say?

Mike Rayburn
Oh, it's like sushi. For me. I was like, raw fish. No, freakin way. And right now, and somebody said, Mike, you trust, right? I say, trust me, I know you. You're gonna love this. And so I did it. And now right now, it's my all time favorite meal. Yesterday was my birthday. And I had sushi for dinner. Oh, wow. Like, it's like, whatever that greatest meal is. I'm glad you came up with that analogy. That's what mastery is. And keep in mind, when I think here's, here's my TED Talk called become a life virtuoso, which is, I call it because whenever I say as Master, what matters is, we all get what it means to become a master the importance of becoming master in our career. And that's what the realm that you and I have spoken about the medium in which we've spoken about this. Oh, really? I thought, well, who am I to teach? Well, it was a point but three or four years into my doing this, where I thought, who am I to teach this about my career and not apply to the things that matter more like being a father, my health, my spirituality, my Finance? So it's really that same question, what would it take to become a virtual so it whatever the other career is? The other thing is, what do we become for me to become a virtual? So Father?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah.

Mike Rayburn
So in my relationship, in virtual, so have virtuous health. And so it's really, mastery is about not being it's not about being great at everything. It's not about being good at everything. It's about being great at the most important things, and that there is enough time for that.

Vinh Giang
Mike, thanks so much again, I absolutely love it. I you've inspired me and and you know, it's not that that's hard to do. It's but it's just I've been doing this for a long time, and you've kind of sparked that inspiration in me. So Thanks, Mike. Thanks for joining us. Thanks, everyone, for listening. I really appreciate you joining us for this podcast between two speakers.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


The Growth Connection Episode 4

By Felicia Labbe | Feb 22, 2021 | Comments Off

As leaders, you choose which emotions you unleash within your team, and we all know that a positive work environment increases employee loyalty, productivity and mental health. But how do you create and maintain that atmosphere?

Welcome to The Growth Connection, a podcast to help us all look forward to this year with a growth mindset. We'll feature interviews with cmi's elite roster of experts in the areas of diversity, leadership, the future, mentorship, performance, teamwork and inspiration.

On today's episode...

GC episode 4 FINAL

Take some time to learn how to create a Culture of Listening with Heather R Younger and Clint Pulver on this week's episode of The Growth Connection Podcast.

Heather R. Younger is an experienced keynote speaker, two-time author, and the CEO and Founder of Employee Fanatix, a leading employee engagement, leadership development, and DEI consulting firm, where she is on a mission to help leaders understand the power they possess to ensure people feel valued at work. As a champion for positive change in workplaces, communities, and our world, Heather delivers clear and purposeful strategies that drive real business results – such as increased employee engagement, loyalty, collaboration, and connectivity.

 

Clint Pulver is a motivational keynote speaker, author, musician, and workforce expert. As the president and founder of The Center for Employee Retention, Clint has transformed how corporations like Keller Williams, AT&T, and Hewlett Packard create lasting loyalty through his work and research as "The Undercover Millennial." Known as the Leading Authority on Employee Retention, Clint helps organizations retain, engage, and inspire their team members from the front desk to the board rooms and everyone in between. He expertly helps audiences navigate generational complexities, communication challenges, leadership missteps, and cultural cues.

 

Takeaways

  • How did Heather become known as The Employee Whisperer and how her unique insights builds stronger, more loyal teams
  • Why management shouldn't run away from tough conversations, especially during a pandemic
  • How to create your own culture of listening
  • Why delegation and communication are important to removing barriers in the workplace

Click below to listen!

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Transcript

Clint Pulver
Hey everybody what's going on? My name is Clint Pulver and I am so excited to have the amazing guest. Heather Younger is in the studio today, her virtual studio. I'm in my studio and we are kicking off this podcast series and Heather, I am so excited to be hanging with you this morning. How are you?

Heather R Younger
I'm doing great. It's beautiful. Beautiful. I'm in Colorado. It's a snowy day. So I'm having fun.

Clint Pulver
You guys have a lot of snow right now. Is it melted? Some is it?

Heather R Younger
No, it's snowing actively right now. You know, this is this is that time of year I want snow. It makes me feel kind of vibrant and upbeat. 

Clint Pulver
If it's gonna be cold, it might as well be beautiful cold right? And we're in Utah. So I'm not far from you. And yeah, I'm right there. I agree, you should at least have some snow.

Heather, you and I hang out in kind of the same space, this this world of employee loyalty and how to build organizations that people never want to leave? You are known as the employee whisperer. Tell us what that means. Where did that come from? A little bit of your background.

Heather R Younger
Okay, so the reason why I'm where I'm at right now is because some years ago, over the years, I've actually been managing people for a long, long time. And some years ago, I went through a merger of some companies. And during the merger, the I noticed that the culture was going downhill, no one was listening to employees, they really are the ones that are driving the business forward. And so what happened is, I could see the trust breakdown. And people from other teams would come to me and ask me what was happening, why weren't leaders communicating with them? And so I went, I was starting to feel down myself through the merger. And so I went to the head of HR. And I said, Listen, we have got to do something about our engagement, about our lack of trust and the fear that's brewing underneath the surface. And she said, You know what, you're right. You should go do something about that. I was like, Huh, I was leading customer experience at the time, not HR. And I said, Okay, I'm gonna go ahead and do it, I did it. Because I knew I had already been kind of a culture bear inside the organization, and people would come to me and they knew I would be there be a good voice for them. And I'd like to uplift people. So I did it. And within quick order, people started to trust each other, we made them start to interact with each other, we did fun games and things to bring them together. And, and it was right in that period, where I realized there was such a huge need for folks, somebody to be the voice for the people, for the employees who drive the business forward to the executive leaders who actually can do something about it something to really to change the experience for those people who are moving the bus forward. So I just chose to be that. So within about few months after we started, that's about six months after the council started, the merger didn't go all that well. And they did have to do a lot of layoffs. And I was in that first round. And even though it hurt at that point, I knew that it was I was called to do that work to be the voice for those who didn't ordinarily have a voice who felt a little hopeless and helpless, and be able to give that to those who could change it. So that's where I'm at today.

Clint Pulver
Amazing. And so since that point to where you are now, tell us a little bit about what you do for organizations, your your background and experience, obviously has, you've been doing this for how many years, Heather?

Heather R Younger
Well, me, I've been in this field for now about 10 years and been full time in my current role right now for about three years. So it's been a really interesting ride, I haven't looked back since I decided to go on my own. And what right now what we focus on was a focus on helping organizations create listening cultures. And so we do that through helping them with employee engagement surveys, focus groups, employee resource groups, and affinity groups within the diversity inclusion space. We also help obviously, I do executive coaching for leaders that really want to utilize me and my background. And then we do some training. And and of course, I'm a speaker. So all of these things are, are wrapped into one to really help organizations create better listening cultures.

Clint Pulver
And I think creating a better listening culture right now is so important. I mean, COVID-19 just disrupted so many different industries. There's obviously been some businesses that have thrived during this time. And then there's been businesses that are barely hanging on. What have you seen right now, during this time, that great leaders are great organizations have been doing to create a better listening culture? Because I think there's a you know, some listeners and people that have businesses, right, they have employees, and they're looking for ideas, how do we do that better? How do I obviously still maintain a business and function with profitability and productivity, marketing, but also how do I take care of my people? Because yes, they drive the business forward. So what have you seen and what would maybe be a few recommendations on how leaders can can do that better right now?

Heather R Younger
Well, it's interesting because I, you know, going back to why listening cultures why why is that the focus? It is because when we think about the people who are in the front line, oh, The frontline with our customers, the ones who know the most about the business, we need to be listening to them. They're the ones who know our customers best, our customers, the ones that pay our bills. So we're talking about profitability. If we aren't listening to the people who are closest to where the profit comes from, we are going to really see ourselves in a heap of trouble, right? So we want to make sure that we're listening first, when we are listening, listening at all levels of the organization, from the frontline, all the way up, we're able to then aggregate those voices in a way that speaks to us, helps us with strategy helps us actually helps us with productivity, because if people feel like their voices are heard, like they do matter, and that their voices are powerful, they're going to go over and above and do more for the team and the organization. So that's really the thing that we want to focus on creating that listening space. And I say, create a listening culture, because for examples, a lot of organizations will listen via a survey, they may do a poll survey and a survey, yes, but they don't do anything about it. Or if they do something about it, they never connect the dots back to the people who use their voices to and then the action that they're deciding to take. So it's connecting the two and organizations that do that very well, are the ones that are going to really prosper in this type of environment.

Clint Pulver
So how would you recommend that they do that?

Heather R Younger
Have a plan, you know, you don't go into a survey or into focus groups or activity groups or just like, Let's go, let people talk, you know, you have to have know the why behind it, you have to know how it's going to happen and what you're going to do with it. So having a plan to start with is most important. Because, again, I've seen organizations way too much go in and they do 123, like tactical things, but they don't have and the idea from a big picture of where they're going with it, and what the end goal is. So I mean, listening first could be a manager on a one on one on one, right? It could be when they're just doing, you know, performance reviews, it could be a one on one session where they're just meeting with their people weekly, which should be a regular cadence for managers. It could be from an organizational view, it could be the surveys or focus groups are culture teams. And what they're doing is they're listening, and they're making sure that they're corralling all of what they're hearing and starting to look for big themes, what are the things that our people really need, and want from us in order to have a better experience inside the workplace? And when I when they have that better experience? What is going to make them go the extra mile, what's going to make them be so enthused, that they're going to sell products harder, right, they're going to be better when it comes to the customer interaction, they're going to be better when it comes to their co worker interactions. So all of those things come to the forefront. But we have to start with listening first, and all of these these other ways around the organization.

Clint Pulver
Yeah. What would you say Heather to a busy CEO, or an overstressed manager, who, you know, they click in their emails, they open up their inbox every day, they've got a to do list that is this long. They've got so many other things on weighing on their mind, other things that are pulling their attention. And they might be listening to this going, Okay, I get it. I get it. Listening is important. But I don't have time. I don't I am so busy. And you expect me to, to meet individually and to have a listening session? What would you say to somebody that's in that situation? That's just busy. And sometimes they you know, it's easy to forget about people, it still matters. But what would you maybe advocate for on how to do that better?

Heather R Younger
Well, I mean, I would say number one, I've been there. Again, I've managed people my majority of my life, and I know exactly what it means to move them down the totem pole, and put projects and processes in at the forefront. So I've been there, yes. But what I can say to you is this. Putting together making sure that you have a cadence, something that's scheduled on your calendar with each of your direct reports doesn't have to be every week, if you can't get there, every two weeks, I mean, try try to have some cadence start small, if you need to do once a month, you're not meeting with them at all, once a month, you're doing more of a team meeting. So start with the baby steps, and then go from there, I did have a cadence of trying to meet once a week with each of my direct reports to make sure that I could find out what barriers I could remove from them for them. And so here's the thing you can't really afford not to listen, really can't afford not to take that time and have that time with your people. Because you will have all these other things that are up there. But guess what you have to delegate you have to empower and you can't do that if you're not meeting with people and figuring out what it is you can do to remove barriers and to you know, plow through things and and help give them access to things that they need. So that's what I would say to them.

Clint Pulver
Yeah, it's a crucial thing. And I think sometimes with COVID right now, a lot of employees or even employers kind of look at Well, there's not very many options, and everybody's just trying to survive. So put your head down, go to work, and just be glad you have a job. But I think that what we've seen too is that great leaders that have learned to listen better, that have picked up the phone and actually called have scheduled time to connect with their employees. It always increases productivity, it always empowers people, it always in the long run will just create better results. And that little investment of time really goes a long way.

Heather R Younger
Yes, I want to say amen right now!

Clint Pulver
I wanted to ask you that, what would you say when we talk about listening? The best type of listening? Is there a specific way that you have seen is maybe better? Is it a survey? Is it a one on one, what would be your advice on how to listen better and where to start, that would get the best results.

Heather R Younger
I think in the end, the organization should have a listening strategy. So that's going to be multi level, it is going to be above organization, that kind of a survey level, drilling down to themes and looking at, you know, focus groups or different culture teams. But at some point, you know, a lot of this has to do with what the manager and the employee relationship, the the two people, the one that's looking to you for guidance, and the one you're looking to, to get things done. So that has to get done, it has to be a priority. But if the organization loosens up some space for those type of organic conversations to happen, that's where things are going to get rich. And then above organization, you do it too. So the strategy should really be multi tier, it should start top to bottom. But in the end, you have to make sure that that manager, the leader and the team member are interacting and give them weight things to talk about, what can I talk about to my team and brought me I'm meeting with every week. Okay, so I know I do projects and processes, but how about how are you doing?

Clint Pulver
Yes!

Heather R Younger
How are you feeling during this time? How are you how are you and your family handling? What is happening right now. So those are the conversations I tell you, they will give you so much more, they will pay so much larger dividends, if you are focusing on the caring side of the leadership right now, at the organizational level, with listening and being very responsive. And at the at the leader level with your team member when they're sitting right in front of right in front of you. And they may not tell you what's happening. But it's really come upon you to to dive deeper. And, and not be afraid, be a little vulnerable yourself. All of those things I think really helped to create more effective listening. Overall.

Clint Pulver
I think it's interesting in leadership, a lot of the times you see leaders that focus so much on the tangibles, right, the profit, the growth, the strategy, how do we move the needle, but it's really the intangibles that matter to the employees, you know, they don't remember how effectively you ran a meeting, or how well your strategy is to grow quota to 10% growth, or you know, they don't they don't talk about that they talk about the moments. They talk about the intangibles, how you make them feel. And I think now more than ever, and the time that we're living in, we need that we need good leaders to practice that.

Heather R Younger
Yes, absolutely. You know, it really is about emotions. And we as leaders get to choose which emotions we unleash within the people we lead, we get to choose that we choose it in our interactions, how we engage with them, how we, whether we do engage, or we don't engage, right, whether we choose to kind of show up fully and in a vulnerable way, in an authentic way, or we choose not to, and like I said, to focus on the numbers, the processes and projects. Now, having said that, again, I have managed people and I know that there's pressure to have the projects get completed to make sure we Institute processes, in fact, I think processes a huge way to produce more positive emotions at an organizational level, and all of the employees inside the organization. And so when I say that it is there are things in the background that we can do that can kind of scale the experience in a way that maybe we didn't think we could before. And so that would be like if we're doing this survey, and we're listening, what is the plan to communicate back to employees about what you're doing? If you know that the morale is low? What can you do about organization to create more recognition programs, or processes for recognition, or touch points for recognition that can uplift and enthuse your people? So those are processes that we need to focus on. But it's the emotional side of things, that really should be our priority. So I'm 100% with you there.

Clint Pulver
Have there been specific ways that you have seen that, that companies have recognized their people during COVID-19? Has there been anything specific or any ideas that you would give to leaders that can maybe use some help on how to recognize their employees more?

Heather R Younger
You know, here's one thing that I've said recently, I've said it a lot. But recently, it's been a big priority. And that is there's nothing more powerful than the written word. And right now, everybody's like so zoomed out, our emails, Zoom Text messaging, so much digital, right? Why not get back to the basics, writing from the leadership team, or the manager, handwritten thank you notes, with specific things that maybe refer directly back to your organization's values, mission norms, something that they did that really points back to that thing, so Keeps it focused on the organization. But at the same time it gets down to the person. And what did they specifically do? and writing it? Oh, my goodness, a novel concept that comes in the mailbox, they get it? What a surprise. Right? So this is just going to get getting back to basics, I think is the biggest thing, picking up the phone, as you talked about, maybe it's not zoom, maybe it's not text, we're just picking up the phone and saying on that group call that we had, I noticed that your energy was a little bit down. I just wanted to reach out to you. I just wanted to see how you know how you're doing? Is there anything I can do for you? Yep. And that those are just the kind of conversations it is the soft stuff. That is the hardest stuff to do.

Clint Pulver
Yeah, but we had to do it, you're spot on. It is the soft stuff. That is the hardest stuff to do. But it is what gets remembered. It's what employees talk about. I still remember Heather, when I was working in corporate America, I was in sales. And I'd get a monthly quarterly projection of where I was at what I was doing, how the business was going. And I could not, I can't tell you a thing. I can't remember anything from that. But I do remember at the top of every quarterly projections sheet, my manager would write a note and just praise me. And he talked about, dude, you're killing it, you're doing so great. I love how you're doing this. You're working so great with all the rest of the team. I just appreciate you if there's anything you need reach out, I still remember that I remember his handwriting. I remember what that meant. Every time when I got that quarterly projection sheet. I was excited to read it. I was excited to look at it. And it just was a little thing that really made a big difference.

Heather R Younger
That's huge. Yeah, it really is I people, it drives me nuts. We actually call things soft skills. I know because it is so hard, right? I think it's much easier to look at a spreadsheet and judge whether that's right or wrong. But it's so much harder to look through the soul of a person. Right? And to have and to allow them to authentically show up as they were put on this earth to do like those are the kind of things that just you can't put a price tag on, you can't put it that as loyalty. Loyalty comes from allowing people to show up as their fullest selves, even if it doesn't completely align with you. Okay, but that you're there to support them for who they are. Ever you actually show up not as someone perfect person with some bad cable. Yeah, yeah. Go up and say, You know what, I? This has been a tough day. But let's work together and see how we can get through this. Yeah, they have to see that you are resilient. Right? And then that helps them become resilient too.

Clint Pulver
Yep, I agree. What would you say? I mean, during during this crazy time with with COVID. You've worked with a lot of different organizations during this time. I think sometimes leaders forget. Or sometimes they don't even know that there is a problem. From your perspective and the organizations that you've worked with Heather during COVID-19. During this this time, have you seen an overarching theme from an employee's perspective, anything that the employees are hoping for wanting? Can we give some insight to a leader that's listening right now, from your expertise, that this is what you've seen the employees have needed and craved the most from their leadership during this time?

Heather R Younger
Yes, I think the biggest thing right now the entire world is really sick of the unknown, right? They're fearful of the unknown. And employees are no different. And so what a leader can do right now is to help as much as possible within their sphere of control, get rid of the unknown, inside of that small circle. And so what I mean by that is, if you are aware of things that are happening in the organization, or you know that you want to move in a direction with a team, don't hide that from your people, they are adults, they want the truth as much as you can give it to them. So being really upfront, involving them in the decision making process, and powering them during this time to again, control what they can control. That way, if you can feel like you have more influence or control in your little sphere, it makes you feel less out of control, right? And then the anxiety can go down, and the stress can go down. And so I would say that'd be the number one thing that employers are looking for right now is for their leaders to help have them to help them get rid of some of the unknown that exists inside the workplace where they are able, and that they can own their small little space right now. That's going to reduce their stress and their anxiety.

Clint Pulver
So as we close Heather, what would be maybe one action item if there's if there's one thing that you could get leadership in today's world to do to apply that to help decrease the uncertainty to help them listen more, one action item that whoever's listening, they can walk away and say, All right, I'm gonna give this a shot today, with my employees. I'm gonna I'm gonna try that. What's one thing that you would propose?

Heather R Younger
Okay. This is gonna sound earth shattering. It's gonna just rock your world...Reach out to them and talk to them. Just reach out and talk to talk to them.

You know, don't run, what happens, it's easy for us to do right now, during this crazy time of change is for us to bury our head in the sand, or for us to kind of ignore the fact that there's a lot of stress and anxiety that there are increases in mental health issues, right that are going on inside our own teams. Yes. Right now, today, commit to reaching out to each one of your people, and just checking with them. I just wanted to see how you're doing. How are you dealing with every minutes here? What can I do for you? And just listen.

Clint Pulver
I'm gonna say it for you, Heather. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Heather, this has been incredible. Your insight, your expertise is priceless. It's valuable. And it is so needed right now, more than ever, if any leader or anybody that's listening to this, if they want to connect with you, bring you into their organization to speak to train to help to create a culture of listening, where can they find you?

Heather R Younger
Well, you can find me at Heatheryounger.com. You can also find me through CMI speakers.com. So you can go there and find me there. I am on LinkedIn pretty actively. And so if you want to go a little bit more of me and kind of the content, that's probably the biggest platform I'm on right now. So I would say just find me Heather younger on LinkedIn.

Clint Pulver
Okay, sounds amazing, Heather, you're incredible. Thank you for taking the time to enlighten us share your expertise, and we look forward to good things to come. 

The Growth Connection Episode 3

By Felicia Labbe | Feb 08, 2021 | Comments Off

Mentorship comes with a lot of responsibility. Ty Bennett describes it as a Peter Parker moment - with great power comes great responsibility.  

Discover how you can become a better mentor and leader to others.

 

Welcome to The Growth Connection, a podcast to help us all look forward to this year with a growth mindset. We'll feature interviews with cmi's elite roster of experts in the areas of diversity, leadership, the future, mentorship, performance, teamwork and inspiration.

On today's episode...

GC episode 3 FINAL

Spend a little time with Ty Bennett and Phil M Jones as they dive deep into the impact of mentorship and the responsibility of shaping minds.

Ty Bennett has spent the last twenty years studying, practicing, and mastering the art of influence. At 21, Ty and his brother built a direct sales business to over $20 million in annual revenues. He developed a system and organization that would help over 500 sales managers fine-tune their sales and leadership skills in over 37 countries and is the author of three best-selling books. He is also the founder of Leadership Inc., a speaking and training company with a mission to empower individuals and organizations to challenge their status quo, cultivate exceptional relationships, and compete in extraordinary ways.

Phil M Jones has made it his life’s work to completely demystify the sales process and bring both simplicity and integrity to a world that is often full of big egos and even bigger lies. He's written 8 best-selling books, produced two original programmes for Audible and delivered over 2,500 presentations in 57 countries across five continents. Phil’s unique philosophy of using specific word choices to teach people “Exactly What To Say” has made Phil one of the most practical and in-demand business experts on the planet.

Takeaways

  • The difference between mentorship and leadership
  • How people respond to different styles of mentorship
  • Why knowing what you are truly responsible for is so important
  • How to be a better mentor

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Transcript

Phil M Jones
So here we are on the growth connection. I'm Phil Jones, joined by the brilliant Ty Bennett. And we're having a conversation today about mentorship. So Ty, what does mentorship mean to you?

Ty Bennett
I think mentorship to me is tied a lot to leadership. I think great leaders take people under their wings. And they don't just lead by example. But also by instruction, they help people grow. Right. Ultimately, I think the goal of leadership is to create other leaders. And I know I've been personally blessed by mentors in my life that have helped me to get to where I am today. I'm sure you have as well. But I also now talk to leaders quite a bit about this mentoring process and how they can not just lead effective teams, but ultimately grow the leadership on their team and do it in more of a strategic fashion.

Phil M Jones
I'm just thinking even as we talk about mentorship is do you choose to be your mentor? Or does somebody choose you to be their mentor?

Ty Bennett
I think it could happen both ways. I think that I have had people describe me as their mentor and been shocked by that statement. I don't know if you've had that experience on that?

Phil M Jones
Yeah- Dang, that feels like a big responsibility. Right?

Ty Bennett
Yeah. Because, you know, they just tend to follow my work or, you know, look at me as kind of that example. And I look at people in my life. And I've had close mentors who I have a very personal relationship with. But I have other people who I consider mentors that I've read their work or studied their life, that I haven't necessarily been mentored day to day by, right. I don't know, what's your experience with that.

Phil M Jones
I've had that same experience of people have been like, oh, Phil's been my mentor about blank, blank and blank and being equally overwhelmed. And then I think about who the mentors are in my life, they've all been almost a conscious decision. I'm working on X, who's better x than me, or who's got experience in that area of x that I haven't got that I can learn from and, and sometimes I've been, I've been fortunate enough to really get up close on that mentor and being able to learn through asking them questions, and then being able to share their experience around those things in full my own opinions. And other times, I haven't been able to get close. So I've just been a spectator or observer of them from afar, and then cast my own opinions on their mentorship even though they had nothing to do with it. So I guess understanding that I found mentors that don't know they have mentored me, doesn't surprise that maybe this replicates into the other area. And I think mentorship is is also a word that gets thrown around a lot without true understanding of what it is. So what was the difference between, say mentoring and coaching?

Ty Bennett
You're such a wordsmith, I'd love your thoughts on this question too. When I think about leaders, I think people are are looking for mentors, not managers. I think that they're looking for somebody who invest deeper into them. That's the the word mentor connotes an investment to me it, it's more purposeful, it's more intentional, it's giving in the approach. It's abundant, and it's mentality. And I think that some leaders lead and they're proficient in what they do, and, but they don't necessarily dive into people's lives and give as fully as others do. And I think that's a big difference between a mentor and a coach or a leader or someone who you look at just more of kind of a manager or supervisor role.

Phil M Jones
And I think mentors can coach and can manage, right? Like those are tools within their toolkit. My general take on mentorship though, is it's often been from experience, that mentor is showing up and they're prepared to actually utilize what they've lived through, work through, gone through, etc. and then being able to give that journey back to others, often without the judgment or the tale of here's what I think you should do. More so of when I was in your situation, this is what I felt, this is what I thought this is what I did. This is what I learned from doing that take from that what you choose to do. So it's almost leadership through experience where you're prepared to be honest with that experience with others. So that you know that they can learn from that. And if we look at us as speakers, like what are some of the greatest mentors that you've had in your world as growing as a professional speaker,

Ty Bennett
you know, one who I didn't know as day to day as some others, but had a huge impact on me with Stephen Covey, the author of seven habits early in my speaking career, I got to know Stephen Covey and had several conversations with him. I live in Utah, he lived in Utah, one conversation, the wall that always impacted me and actually, I think has really shaped my mindset. And my approach was the very first conversation I ever had with him. He was hosting a political event at his home. And I was invited to the event by a mutual friend with the purpose of meeting Stephen Covey. And so after I made a large donation, I was invited to go to this event. And I remember going in and he has this big, beautiful home, and there's all these people there and you're looking around like all these famous people that you would recognize, and my wife and I were there. We mingled for a little bit. And then my friend Kevin brought me over and introduced me to Stephen Covey. And when he did, he said, Stephen, this is Ty Bennett ties writing a book, and he was very gracious. And he said, Ty, what's the title of your book? And I said, it's called the power of influence. It was my first book. And he said, that's a great title. He goes, can I give you some advice? And this was Stephen Covey was like, Yeah, yeah, like, Can I record this? Can I write this down? And the advice he gave, he said, make sure you write the book for the reader, not the writer. And I said, What do you mean by that? And he said, you know, a book that's written for the writer for their own ego. He said, that book just isn't gonna go anywhere. He said, but a book that's written for the reader, to teach and to inspire and to help people. He said, That book is going to be a home run. And then it's like, you got this train of thought going new, as you know, time a lot older than you. I was in my late 20s. He was in his late 60s. And he said, I think we go through life. And we think life is about achievement, right? What's the next step? What's the next goal? And he said, maybe it's with age, but I think at some point, we figure out life is about contribution. It's about how can I serve? How can I give? So that was a two minute conversation. The very first time ever met Stephen Covey. And to me, it totally shaped my mindset I've written about this, I've spoken about it. I think what he taught me in that, obviously, is, if you write a book, you read it for the reader, but that your focus as an influencer, as a leader, as a mentor, as on the other person, it's on the audience, it's on the person that you're leading. It's on the mentee, it's, it's how can you contribute? How can you add value and, and I seek to do that personally. But I also try and teach that mindset as often as possible to the audiences that I speak to. And that was, that's a mentoring conversation that I'll never forget.

Phil M Jones
That's such a huge point as well, as we apply it to the world of speaking also, is there's a difference between using your experience to be able to create a level of greatness in others. And using your experience to say, aren't I great? I think we see both examples of that in this world a huge amount, right is is those two things. And I was having a conversation with a mutual friend of ours Clay Bear the other day, and we were talking about the difference in content. And this certainly applies to leadership too, between Come with me content and look at me content, as speakers, there is this natural feeling to fall into this look at me approach and make yourself the center of the outcome, as opposed to the Come with me, which I would class is more of a mentoring type mindset that says, Okay, I'm going this way, or I've been this way, let me light the way so you can see, as opposed to let's stick everybody in a ring around me and make me brilliant.

Ty Bennett
I like that. Yeah, I mean, Phil, you know, I've, I've written about storytelling. And one of the things that I often remind people is that you shouldn't be the hero of your own story, it goes along with what you're saying, because there's nothing relatable about it. But I think what you're referring to in this mentoring, by experience is that it's not the the mentor, it's not the person who becomes the hero. It's the process. It's the learning through the situation. It's the journey that becomes that hero that we both can learn from together. And I like the distinction between Come with me and look at me that's really good.

Phil M Jones
Yeah, and great mentors. And I think Stephen Covey is that example to you a second ago is never told you what to do. They may be allowed you to see the world from a couple of different perspectives, then shape the decisions that you made that followed. And that's a huge level of responsibility. I think about some of the greatest mentors in my life, and they happen to be all significantly older than me at the time. So my earliest mentor would be my grandmother who showed me a way to be compassionate and inclusive and optimistic regardless of circumstances. And that was such a gift to be able to have lived in witness for that, but never did I get an instructional lesson from and never would she have known how much she mentored me, which I think is really interesting when you think about the ability to influence others without having a direct line of communication. This is okay. It's mentoring time. Now, let's plug into our mentor hour where I'm going to help you be a better man T. It is something we're doing all the time and every leader, right, whether you're the leader of a family, whether you're the leader of an organization, whether you're the leader of a community group, we're all a mentor, whether we choose to be or not.

Ty Bennett
Yeah, I think that's something we have to step up to, right. And recognize the the influence and the impact that we can have, and be willing to hopefully give and share some of our experience in that. Right, what we've, and and it's not just the good, a lot of it's the bad, right? It's being willing to be open and real and vulnerable with some of the challenges that we've had in the learning and growth that comes from that. So

Phil M Jones
how does somebody decide the Okay, I'm responsible for being a mentor to many people, some chosen someone chosen? And I want to get better at this, what is the process around mentorship that says, Okay, I can improve our amount on this right now? Because I don't think anybody's denying the Yes, I have a responsibility towards this in some circumstances. And yes, I want to be better at it. I'm always a view, like you have a house.

Ty Bennett
So I'm currently writing a book called leader of leaders, which really kind of dives into the practical approach to this. So this is geared towards leaders in a role within an organization really targeted at that mid level to C suite leader who their role is not just to supervise a couple of people, but to really grow the leadership acumen with their within their organization. I think the leaders that I've talked to, everybody says, you know, we want to grow our leadership capacity. But how do you do that on a daily basis, especially with all that's on our plate, right, we're all so busy, we all have so much that we need to do. And so the way that I look at it from a practical standpoint, is that you as the leader is you have learners on your team. And your goal is to move them to that position of leader as well, I think that there's some different mentoring approaches based off of the competency of the person you're working with, and based off of the risk of the project, or what it is that you're dealing with at the time. And so what we're writing about and breaking down is sometimes we model leadership, sometimes mentoring is very hands on it's, let me show you how to do this. And let's talk through why I do it a certain way, or why we do it this way, that would kind of be the basic level of modeling, then we move into coaching. And coaching is very hands on if you think about, like I'm a big college basketball fan, I watched a game the other day, and a coach is not on the court. But he is very involved in the every play that's going on in what's happening, and is touching base with people on the way. And so sometimes we're coaching them along the way, we're hands off, but we're saying okay, here's the next step, let me help you through that. And then we move into kind of higher levels of mentoring, where we're more hands off where we're consulting. And consulting is more reactive than proactive, right coaching, you're jumping in, but consulting, you're there when they need you. And then ultimately empowering them, this is your baby, go run with it come back when you know, with a finished project. And so really trying to put a practical how to on a day to day of what mentoring looks like as you're growing leadership on your team. So that's kind of the premise of the mentoring model that we've developed, and that we're putting in the leader of leaders book,

Phil M Jones
I boil it all down, I think from my experiences, I you know, there's a level of management. And then the next level for management is the ability to coach the next level from coaching is the ability to consult. And then above that is to mentor. And to be a successful mentor, you still need to have all of those skills in your arsenal that sit beneath that. And I'm trying to simplify the differences between all of them, as I listen to you and think about my own experiences is the managers are about sharing with you the responsibility of what needs to be done, and then holding you to account of making sure that thing is being done, a great coach is going to be like a mirror, who's going to have the ability to get to ask questions of you to improve the performance of how you get that thing done. And keep you honest in that, which is why I say like a mirror is actually allowing you to see a better version of yourself every time that you look at it. A consultant might help you find the understanding of what you want to get done and why you want to get it done. So actually, you end up with a higher level of leadership because you understand the purpose behind why you're doing something, not just what you're doing is like the real reason that sits behind it. And a mentor takes that one stage further and helps you understand how to think which is really tough. You cannot give somebody an instruction manual on how to think whereas every great mentor has changed the way that people think. And I think it's by presenting them with puzzles, challenges, obstacles and exercises that grow muscles in people's decision making growth muscles in people's mindset, that all of a sudden have them wake up with different levels of confidence and different levels of clarity. But it all works for That framework of having to go through those levels, I don't think you can be a good mentor, unless you've been a good manager, unless you've experienced or being a good coach, unless that you've been on the receiving end of good quality consultation plus you've done bad consultation or have have seen the difference of high quality consultation yourself. And mentorship is like real life stripes on all.

Ty Bennett
I think there is a linear growth process to it for sure. And we gain experience through that I, I'm curious, Phil with you. I mean, obviously, you speak to a lot of groups, but you've also served in roles with companies as kind of that mentor, thought leader, working with them and helping them look at how they think about their approach. And in those roles that you've worked with corporations, what have you found to be effective as the outside thought leader, mentor and those approaches?

Phil M Jones
It's a good question. And the answer is simple. It's the ability to change the vantage point that they're looking at any problem through, quite often, that's what it takes, whenever anybody is looking to work with outside help is typically because they've exhausted all of their existing resources towards the solving of a problem or a challenge, right is like they've taken everything they can they run in it, they've hit some form of dead end, and then they asked for external help to help them fix the same problem. Whereas the outside help normally quickly realizes they're trying to fix the real problem, what a great mentor does is, is they change the vantage point of where you're looking at something from so that could be giving them a new lens to look at it through, it could be moving, the self centered position, they might be looking at that problem through because quite often, what it comes down to is like how do we beat the competition? Yet the answer that they're looking for is how do we better serve the customer? The answer better position is well, what is the promise that you're making to your people that you're currently under serving them with that if you could actually amplify that promise and make that more apparent towards other people, then you would be your competition by default. But if you focus on beating your competition, you're not focusing on winning the game. It's always some form of shift of vantage point. And that takes a level of maturity, though, to be able to get a huge quantity of people to be able to do that. You take your Stephen Covey scenario, there would have been 1000 people that could have said those exact same things to you. And you'd have brushed it off, not because it was less relevant advice, it's because your mind would have been like on other things like, oh, what do I need to get from my wife for a drink while I'm at this thing, and and what's our table number again, except you would have been everywhere else, but because it was Stephen Covey, it had 100% of your attention. And because you empowered him in that moment, to have the mentor power, your mind was open to be molded. And and that's what happens in my world, when I get invited into these environments is they almost have pre decided that you have Oracle, like your powers, they could have had that same set of words said to them from dozens of other people in their organization. And this is where I get to earlier is you have to decide that somebody is your mentor. And only once that's done is the power truly granted, it's kind of Wizard of Oz type type stuff. And I think we have that responsibility as speakers is to understand that a meeting planner or bureau agent a, you know, SVP, you know, a group of committee members in an organization said, this is somebody who we are happy to provide a level of mentorship to our people for this sustained period of time. And that is a Peter Parker moment right, with great power comes great responsibility. Understanding that is huge. I've always said in the speaking world, and I think we've had conversations even at NSA events, etc about this is that it? It isn't a speech to an audience. It's a conversation with hundreds of individual people exactly the same time thought shaping responsibility that exists in any mentor environment is both a lot of fun and a lot of responsibility.

Ty Bennett
For sure, I think, one I know for me and and for you that weighs heavy on me when I'm brought in and at times is intimidating, right? I you probably you've probably had some of these imposter syndrome moments before you stood up for a speech. I remember being in Abu Dhabi speaking to a group of CEOs of oil companies. And right before I went on stage, I'm looking at this audience these shakes and and I'm like, What am I doing here? You know, just just thinking about, you know, the the impact that those words could have on this group and the audience they serve, right where that goes. But I also think that it it pushes us and and pushes leaders to step up to that responsibility of mentorship. right to be heard, right to earn the right to

Phil M Jones
take the responsibility that comes with it. Yeah, but you take every one of those moments where we've had imposter syndrome ahead of an event is because we weren't considering Will we be able to deliver our speech is when we were considering the response. ability of the perceived outcome as a result of that piece of work? Yeah, it was the responsibility attached towards will this make the den? Will this deliver the outcome that they are looking for? I could deliver my speech 1000 times over and now I deliver my speech fine. Yeah, understanding the needs of that audience is what allows you to truly shape your content towards them. And I think that that is a mentor based responsibility.

Ty Bennett
You know, my parents have been great mentors to me. And one of the things they always said, when I was a kid that I don't know, that I thought that much about, but they would always say where much is given, much is required. And I think to this conversation for us in the roles that we serve, but to anybody listening, who has that opportunity to serve in that mentor role, I think that applies where much is given, much is required there, there is a requirement to step up to give more, and to invest yourself fully, to have the kind of impact that a mentor can have.

Phil M Jones
And to use your example of Stephen Covey again, I think so much of mentorship is what happens outside of the moment that you're mentoring. It's actually all the work that sits around it that empowers you to be effective in the moment when you're mentoring. Same as a basketball player, right, the work you're doing the training course, is what allows you to deliver on game day. It's the same metaphor that exists from a mentoring point of view in that if you want to be a better mentor, is understand that congruence is probably one of the most important ingredients is are you what you say you are in every area of your life. And know that if somebody grants you the privilege of being their mentor, which I think is the right word to look at it is that you take that responsibility seriously, not just in the moment, but in every moment where you might be being watched, which in today's market is every moment all the time.

Ty Bennett
Yeah, it exists in all areas of life. I think, you know, as speakers, I truly am inspired by people offstage more than on you know, Phil, you and I've gotten to know each other over the years, and I think you're unbelievable onstage. I love your work. I love your delivery. But having spent time with you and your brilliance offstage, it's congruent to use your word it exists. And because of that the level of credibility that you have with me, is different than somebody that I've seen who's brilliant onstage, but doesn't seem to live up to it off.

Phil M Jones
Yeah, certainly. And same as how I've seen you live your storytelling messaging, your influence messaging, your leadership messaging, in a variety of non commercial areas of life, through the way that you raise your children through to the efforts that you bring onboard into your community, to the way that you support less experienced speakers, the way you give back towards chapter etc, it's, you're living your truth in any given area, and somebody could stumble across across your work, because they'd never seen you on stage and spotted the YouTube video, and then find you live in the exact same set of values when you're in the grocery store and dealing with a shopper system. And I haven't seen you in every one of those moments, but I've never seen you not living what you teach. I was

Ty Bennett
coaching an executive this morning preparing him for a presentation that he has coming up. And we were talking about finding his voice and that this idea and just said I think the biggest thing is being comfortable in your own skin. Because people read that we connect with that. And and I think that that, I think for a lot of people who may be want to be viewed in that mentor state, I think sometimes that's the disconnect is they're not living their values, or maybe don't even know what their values are fully, to be able to live them in all areas of their life. And because of that there's there's a disconnect, and we don't see them in that same light.

Phil M Jones
I got two questions for you, before we wrap this thing up that I'm really intrigued to know the answers to one is, is who is your current mentor towards like where you're looking to get to work on and things in your life? And then the second question I'll give them back to back on purpose is if someone listening into this right now is thinking that they have accepted the responsibility of being a mentor in their role and want to get a lot better and if what is the first thing that you think they should do?

Ty Bennett
So when you ask that question, I think that I have mentors just like you in lots of areas of life, where else say, okay, in terms of speaking, who's somebody further down the road that I want to be like, or that I see their business as something that I want to aspire to, or as a father or as a husband or just in life in general. In general in life. I have a mentor His name is Ulysses Suarez. He's a Brazilian. I actually lived in Portugal for two years, serving a mission for my church when I was 19 to 21. And he was the leader of that mission at the time. So I spent two years being very closely mentored by him And, as luck would have it, he never returned to Brazil but actually moved here to Utah and has close to me since then. So for the last 810 years, I've had a chance to continue to be mentored by him. He's someone that I learned from his example. I'm inspired by the way he lives. I am amazed at his capacity to show love and to be present and to be engaged in not just my life but other people's lives. That's who I would look at as, as my mentor, although there are others and others we could speak about just specifically in the speaker world to your second question, if someone finds that they are in a mentor role, and want to be better at that I, my favorite leadership quote, and I wish I said it, but john Maxwell said it is you can love people without leading them, but you cannot lead people without loving them. And I think that that applies so much to a mentors role that your capacity to truly care about those people that may look at you as a mentor, to because of that love, have patience. Because of that love, be willing to give a little bit more of yourself because of that care, see them for the potential they have and not just for the slow growth or the mistakes that they've made. I think that starts with that mindset.

Phil M Jones
I love that john Maxwell quote, I just wrote it down for myself to ponder on a little later. So good. I guess I should probably answer the same two questions, right?

Ty Bennett
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Okay,

Phil M Jones
I haven't had an individual mentor in any area of my life for for quite some time. And some of that's circumstantial. You know, my life has changed a lot over the last decade through planning and purpose and growth and geographic moves and marriage and babies and all of that good fun life stuff. So I haven't been in one place long enough to be able to cement what would be a traditional mental relationship like the one that you talked about. But I've always had this belief, your success is in direct correlation with the quantity of quality people that you surround yourself with, right, I think we have enough evidence around a variety of personal development spheres to, to not doubt the truth in that. And the result of which is a piece of advice I was given by a very early mentor, a speaker friend of mine called Nigel Reznor in the UK, Nigel once said to me, as if you're ever going to compare yourself with anybody compare the whole of you with the whole event, which you very quickly realize is impossible. So what it led me to then do is to decide that the mentorship that I'm looking for in people is actually not any individual person, because every individual person has flaws in some way. And inevitably, you end up feeling disappointed, because instead of truly seeing somebody as a mentor, you see them as a role model, when then when that role model lets you down in some way you find yourself lost, that for me, made me very vulnerable. So instead, I created a Frankenstein monster of a mental that is a purpose for collaboration of maybe 30 to 50 people at any one period of time with people being subbed on and off the bench on a regular basis like you would a basketball game. So I create this hypothetical mentor in a variety of different different scenarios that I do have real conversations with in my head. And sometimes those conversations have been fueled by a real life conversation I had with one of those specific people. So for example, if I look at longevity within the speaking industry as being something that's important to me, the role that I grab on to that level of mentorship in my life is someone like Scott McKay. But I don't want Scott's mentorship in every area of my life. But for that area of responsibilities, the best person who's closest enough to me to help me navigate that, who I know thinks like me, and a lot of other areas. Therefore, I can give like ultimate value to that in that given area of life. But then when I think about marriage and relationships and balance with kids, etc, different mentors in different ways, for different reasons. Now, so that is my my true answer on who in terms of first steps. I think it's about finding clarity on what you believe you're responsible for. And I know that if people have got to this ended the interview of yourself and myself right now the majority of those people are involved in the events industry in some way, shape, or form. I think the mistake that a lot of people make in the events industry that prevents them being a true mentor is they limit what they believe they're really responsible for, for example, bureau agent believes they're responsible for finding three potential candidates that could be a fit for the speech they're looking for that is on topic of conference, as opposed to the responsibility of helping make sure that both the known and unknown objectives of that event are truly maximized in a multi dimensional capacity. And the mentor leader that takes that bigger picture responsibility of understanding the true impact and it's that never underestimate the impact that you can have on one person's life. I think are all responsibility in The events industry right now is to know that we are not reacting to the change, we are creating the change and seeing if what we can be is honestly take responsibility for a greater outcome than the one that we believed was our responsibility in the past. So from a UI point of view, we become better mentors, if we understand we're responsible for serving the entire event and the business's objectives than delivering a great speech, it shifts that focus again. And that's the challenge I'd have to everybody listening is what are you truly responsible for? And then how do you show up for that refined vision of what success looks like? That's how you can mentor cuz Stephen Covey didn't decide that he was responsible for helping your book perform better. He saw a young talented man with passion, ambition and fuel in his tank, and took the responsibility of saying if I make a two degree shift in the way that you think you might go on to be able to achieve greater things as a result of which, and if history tells me anything that was true, whether it was influenced by him, or it would have been the same regardless, he certainly hasn't heard your career trajectory, like with that shift in thinking. And I think that's what mentorship is about is to go. But But my vision is greater than the moment my vision is for something that is bigger than just that individual point in time. And and that would be the question I'd be asking with people, what are you truly responsible for? And how does that shape the way that you communicate with others, if you move the finish line further out towards a bigger impact, with the knowledge of understanding what really is going on as a result of your actions? long answer, but that's where my head's at on it today.

Ty Bennett
I mean, obviously, we could keep going for a long time talking about mentorship. But, you know, as we wrap this up, I do think you've made some great points in terms of, you know, a mentor, being able to teach through experience, being able to kind of redirect thought process and help people to think differently, is that kind of highest form of leadership and, and all that linear progression along the way to get to that stage and, and each of us stepping up to the responsibility of that as we get a chance to mentor others. This great conversation.

Phil M Jones
Yeah, likewise, I'm stoked to read this new book of yours. It's got a name yet?

Ty Bennett
Leader of Leaders - Mentoring with Competence

Phil M Jones
Can't wait to grab a copy and see how it shapes the way that you lead from the stage. Thanks for chatting my friend.

Ty Bennett
Thank you.

The Growth Connection Episode 2

By Felicia Labbe | Jan 25, 2021 | Comments Off

COVID19 has been in our lives for an entire year now and it's caused us all to pause and reflect as businesses and human beings. 

It's been a moment of truth, almost like a forced reset.

Welcome to The Growth Connection, a podcast to help us all look forward to this year with a growth mindset. We'll feature interviews with cmi's elite roster of experts in the areas of diversity, leadership, the future, mentorship, performance, teamwork and inspiration.

On today's episode...

GC episode 2 FINAL

Hang out with Dan Thurmon and Chris Bashinelli as they explore positive mental health and the importance of taking time to breathe.

Chris is a Moderator for the United Nations, an Eagle Scout, a National Geographic Explorer, and has interviewed some of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People on the Planet. He's lived with nomads in Mongolia, farmed for tea on China's hillsides, and Sumo Wrestled the heaviest Japanese human being in recorded history. Bash's life mission is clear. When we 'change our mind,' we 'change our world.'

Dan Thurmon is the author of two books, a Hall of Fame speaker, and a recognized expert in delivering peak performances, on stage and in the workplace. He encourages audiences beyond the pursuit of "success" and enhances our life experiences and professional endeavours with purposeful, positive contributions. Dan's philosophy can be summarized by the title of his book, Off Balance On Purpose. He believes that we will never achieve "perfect balance" and should, instead, learn to embrace uncertainty and initiate positive changes that lead to growth.

 

Takeaways

  • How to stay focused on what you can control, to lessen levels of anxiety
  • Learn how to navigate productivity and connection during a pandemic, when distractions are everywhere
  • Why technical preparation is equally important to preparing your heart and good intentions
  • Different ways to create space in you mind for creativity to flow freely

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Transcript

Dan Thurmon
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the cmi speaker interview series, where speakers interview other speakers and go deeper into the wisdom and maybe a little bit of a story behind the story. My name is Dan Thurman, and I'm here today with the one and only Chris bastianelli, better known as Bash, to his friends and to his clients. With Chris really, the whole world is his friend. So you could call him Bash. Bash has acted on the sopranos. He's moderated at the United Nations. He's hosted his own TV show for PBS and Geographic magazine. And he's done so much travelling around the world learning, teaching, and educating audiences as a speaker for many, many years. He's still a young dude, just 34 years old. But you'll be amazed by the wisdom in this man. So Chris, thank you so much. And welcome!

Chris Bashinelli
Dan, thank you so much. You're a great friend, and you have been for many years. And still, one of the great I have to say regrets of my life is not taking you up on the offer to learn how to backflip all those years ago. It's a skill that I still wish I could learn. And maybe we can do it one day together.

Dan Thurmon
We were trying to do it in like five minutes, you know,

Chris Bashinelli
without any mat to brace the fall!

Dan Thurmon
Yeah, in a hotel gymnasium like that, like little workout room actually is all it was, and it was before your speech. So like you are getting ready for your speech, getting ready to go on stage, and you're like, Oh, damn thermos here, I've got to take advantage of this moment and learn how to do a backflip. But that's how you are. You learn from everyone everywhere, wherever you go. And you don't waste any time, like getting to the nuggets of what people are all about. I was so looking forward to being with you today. And I am just pumped about this moment. Because any experience with you is simultaneously therapeutic and a little bit of a conviction. Because you know, you have this way of caring for people, but because of such a loving presence, it's almost like you hold us accountable. You cause people to take a really good look at what's going on within their lives within their thoughts. And you have to take it very seriously. Right? So I wondered if you could give us a bit of your core philosophy about life that kind of brings that quality to the surface.

Chris Bashinelli
First of all, let me say thank you so much. And it's an honour to be with you. You're a great friend. And it's an honour to be a part of cmi. And to be a part of this speaker series. I just learned so much from each and every one of you and from our entire team. So for me, I'm very grateful to be here. The lesson that's been hitting home for me a lot recently is not trying to change the world. Instead, let's change ourselves. During this pandemic, I have found especially when all of our businesses have just been flipped completely upside down. The people who are doing really well, the businesses, the people, the individuals, and the communities that are doing really well are able to focus on things within their control. And at the very beginning of this, one of our good friends, Tim Gard, said to me, "Bash, focus on what you can control." And then it dawned on me riding this pandemic out, which I do believe it will pass, is kind of like riding out a wave. When I go in the ocean, and I surf. I'm not yelling at the waves. I'm not mad at the wave for wiping me out of everything that happens to me when I'm out there in the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean or the Indian Ocean or wherever it might be. Everything that happens, every challenge, every wave that crashes on me is information. I take it as information. Oh, I need to move a little further up on my board. I need to move further back so that I can become a better surfer. And we can use this opportunity to become better surfers of life. Yes, we might not be able to control everything in our lives right now. The economy, the weather, our finances from day to day, but we can control the attitude that we bring to it. I believe.

Dan Thurmon
I love that, and that frame of reference and ownership of this challenge is so important, really to all of our clients; what are you finding in the individuals and the organizations that you're working with that you're able to help them see that maybe they couldn't see before like your gift is that you take these beautiful thoughts that can be philosophical, and in some ways, intangible, but you make them very practical, and you help people really understand what the next move is. So what do you think is the next move for the people who feel that way? Right now,

Chris Bashinelli
I would say, Dan, from the smallest company to some of the largest, and I recently had a conversation with one of my largest clients in a major, major international company. And I would say our next step, the first step, and the last step is to open our hearts, open our hearts to what other people are going through. Because from the smallest client to the largest client, everyone is struggling with the same things during this pandemic. How can we work from home with all of these distractions at our fingertips? How can we stay connected to our family when we might not actually be able to physically give our loved ones a hug, people are hurting, and people, in many ways, are working harder than they ever have before. One of the things that I've found to be super helpful for me and something that I'm sharing with clients is that we have to take care of ourselves to truly be there for others. It's not sustainable to work 12 or 14 hours a day, seven days a week, we must take time to breathe, we must take time to be grateful to go for a walk if we can, if we can exercise, whatever practice we have, that keeps us centred. Because if we are in a positive state of mind, then we are in so much more powerful of a place to give to our clients and to give to others. So the step I've been recommending to others is twofold. One, open our hearts to what others are going through because we are all struggling with the same things right now. And to create some boundaries in our lives so that we can be more productive at work and more relaxed when we're not at work. That way, we can become resourced when we're back at our computer and working with our clients.

Dan Thurmon
Yeah, that's great, great advice. Being heart-centred is something that just comes so naturally to you. You're a very empathetic human being when you mentioned not being able to embrace a loved one. You know, I thought about you and how much wisdom you derived from travelling the globe. And, and those experiences of searching and journeying have kind of brought you this, this level of clarity about how everyone truly is connected. Like we're all dealing with the same stuff. And you saw that regardless of culture, or language or occupation, or like class in society, and you brought that forward through your TV show to audiences everywhere to help us feel that way. And I think about the fact that you can't travel, the fact that we can't hug each other, we don't even see each other smile as much because we're wearing masks, right? And so, how do we find this sense of connection right now. You know, the need for humans to be around humans and draw energy from one another has not gone away? If anything, it's increased. So how do we do that now?

Chris Bashinelli
Well, Dan, I think the thing to keep in mind is that connection is an experience. And it's an experience of the mind. It isn't necessarily a physical experience. I've travelled to many countries, filming TV shows on an expedition for National Geographic, I've travelled to many countries, in many places, speaking at different conferences, every single one of those times that I've gotten on a plane, with the exception of a handful, when I'm travelling with the production crew, I travelled by myself, I am in hotels by myself, I go on stage, I'm with people, and then I'm by myself again, if I were to truly believe that in order for me to feel connected to the people I love, I had to be around them physically. It would be a really tough go for me. So one of the practices that I've done is a really simple practice. It is simply to close my eyes, think about somebody that I feel close with, and just really feel that closeness. And we might say, well, that's corny, and they're not really here and fine. We can listen to that voice if we want, but how is it serving us? Instead, we can just imagine the person is there with us. Imagine we are feeling connected with them. And then we and then what we realize is we actually have control over that feeling. Wow, I can feel connected to my mom, to my father, to my children, to my loved ones to my spouse to my cousin's to my clients, whether I'm in the same room with them or 10,000 miles away, and that connection is a choice.

Dan Thurmon
But it's such great advice. And you're full of practical pieces of wisdom like that. You're a young guy, and you've been doing this a long, long time. So when I think about your journey, the question that comes to my mind is when you were in your early 20s and moderating at the United Nations and putting yourself forward into situations that you know, from an academic point of view or whatever it's like, you're just going there and opening up to the experience, but with a level of confidence. How did you? How did you find that measure of confidence to step into new moments? And trust? I'm okay, I'm enough. I'm here; I'm prepared. I have something of value to say or to offer or to do. Do you remember that?

Chris Bashinelli
I have goosebumps from the question. Yeah, I remember it very vividly. I remember taking the train to the United Nations. When I was giving a speech at the General Assembly Hall. The first time I spoke in the General Assembly Hall when I was 23, with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. And I remember standing at the podium, something happened in the middle of my opening speech, and a massive fixture. I don't know if it fell from the ceiling or from the stage. But there was a massive crash. And it's recorded on video, there was a massive crash, everyone in the room heard it. And I looked over, and something had fallen; it was so distracting. And I just realized I didn't think I just said I'm sorry about that. I have telekinetic powers, and everyone in the audience laughed. The reason I share that with you is because I wasn't prepared on paper. But I was prepared in my heart. I was confident to go out there, not that I wasn't nervous, not that my heart wasn't beating- it was. But I trusted the greater mission that I was there, I trusted that, hey, these people believe in me enough to bring me on to that stage, our clients believe in us enough to hire us whatever field we're in, they believe in us, they trust us, that gave me confidence in myself. And it was kind of like not to go back to surfing again. But it was kind of like that experience of pushing down the face of a wave. And when you push down the face of a wave, for many years, I would pull back at the last moment, we're afraid to let go, we were afraid to let go. What enabled me to let go and go down the face of that wave in terms of speaking on that stage and many other states since then was the experience of losing my father. And when I saw my father, I mean, I literally saw my father passed away before my eyes from cancer. And when that happened, that rocked the foundation of my world in a good way. I'm sorry to say it was in a good way because it made me realize, hey, why am I really here? What's the greater reason? Why am I really here? On one level, that propelled me to go on an international expedition that lasted more than 10 years, which I'm still on today. But the real journey that happened was the journey within, so from that experience of loss, I was able to gain sort of a momentary feeling of life is very fleeting; if there's something I believe in, I better go for it. And so witnessing that empowered me to be able to go on a stage, even though I'd never done it before, and opened my heart,

Dan Thurmon
Yeah, that's great. If I can explore something you said about preparing your heart, it really was like a wild moment for me. Because I think about, you know, everybody's trying to get ready for the moment, whether it's a speech or a presentation, or the next job interview or, or serving your client or making the sale or whatever, and you do all the things or playing in a game, or you know, sport, you do everything that you think is required, you're still not ever going to be sure if it's enough, right. And you can kind of keep after it and keep after it. And then there's the other piece that is preparing your heart piece, which is, am I going to be okay to be successful in this moment? Do I feel like I've deserved it? Do I have something of value to truly give? Why does this matter to me? You know you're making a case for is, and I've experienced this in my life...sure we prepare. But in many cases, when your hearts prepared, it will compensate for maybe some gaps in like technical preparation, or by the book preparation. My question is, what happens if you do everything technically, but then you fail to prepare your heart? What do you think happens then?

Chris Bashinelli
We always have to start with a good motivation with a good intention. Intention is behind everything that we do. People can sense it, infants can sense it, animals can sense it. What's our intention when we're dealing with others, when we're dealing with our clients? I think it's a two-fold effect. There's the technical aspect. There's the preparation aspect. You're off balance on purpose. So you have the body of like Hercules. And so you do you the technical preparation is there for you. Still, your heart is just so pure. So giving. The technical aspect, and let's say the sort of inner aspect, the psychological aspect, I think they actually influence each other. Sometimes when we wake up, we don't want to exercise we don't want to work out maybe a lot of times, especially when working out in our living room, if we force ourselves to learn the technical aspect, to do the due diligence of the day to day work that we have to do to be physically technically prepared, that tends to have an influence on how we feel about ourselves. Sometimes we start from a positive feeling within, and that will inspire us to exercise or to engage in the technical aspect of preparation. But sometimes we have to just do the work. And when we do the work, we gain confidence in our ability within, I believe it was Mr. Rogers, the wonderful PBS television host, who was interviewed, and during the interview, he was asked, how long did you prepare for that program, and I'm making this up because I forget the number. But he said something like 52 years, like his whole life, his whole life, what we do on stage,

Dan Thurmon
I find that to be the simplest, the simplest thing, the most difficult thing is living a life that's in accordance with what we share on stage. That's the difficult thing. And that's, that's our work as speakers. And it's also the multiplier, isn't it? I mean, it makes everything else when you get that resonance between your life in your message when you get that right. It just takes the message to the stratosphere in terms of impact. And I think you're right; it all comes down to intention. And the audience knows on whatever level, Hey, is this guy just a messenger for a nice message? Or is he actually living it? Right? Or is she actually walking the talk and kind of filling the room with the, like, practical authenticity and social and proof that what they're teaching us is actually true?

Chris Bashinelli
We learn, I believe, very little by what people say very little. I think we learn mostly by who people are, we learn, yes, we learn by what our teachers are saying. But we mostly learn by who the teacher is themselves, what type of person are they that gives their words power? Otherwise, the words will go in one ear and out the other? Yep, sounds good. We can check off the boxes; they said all the right things. But it has no impact to move us. When somebody has done the work on themselves, the inner work, then their words have the power to move us because there's congruency, integrity. Now that's what we're aiming for. And that's a lot of work.

Dan Thurmon
That's such a powerful leadership message. You know, leaders really need to think about that and do that internal work. And in a way, I'm curious, do you think that COVID...everybody has their COVID story. We have ours and how it impacted the speaker's world, in our relationships with our clients and our families. But I think you know, that journey you talked about going within, in a lot of ways, there was this moment of truth, where everyone had to kind of experience it that almost like a forced reset, where you really had to look back and say the question, has everything I've done been working? Do I really believe what I thought I believed? What is true anymore? You know, who am I? And either you start doing the work to figure that out, or you have to distract yourself and all these ways, self-medication or abuse or, or just entertainment or whatever. You can only avoid that crack that question so long, though, right.

Chris Bashinelli
One of the things that really challenged me when I first started, I mean, I was running my company, Bridge The Gap TV, out of my parent's basement. I was 20 years old, I was editing films, I was on the phone pitching to like Ben and Jerry's ice cream and other companies trying to get sponsorships. And my mom would be like doing the laundry next to me, right. That's, I mean, that's not an exaggeration that actually happened. But one of the tools that I learned was first thing in the morning to do my most important task first thing in the morning, I think lots of entrepreneurs know that whatever is the most important thing on your list, do it first thing in the morning, do not please, for the love of everything. Do not check your cell phone first thing in the morning, unless you have to, because it puts you in that sort of reactive backfoot defensive state of mind doing the most important thing first thing in the morning. What that forced me to do is I would I would just be like sitting at my desk, Dan. And I'd be like, I don't know what, so I would just like close my eyes and just breathe. And just think about what is the most important thing that I have to do today. My point is that when we're not engaged in compulsive distractive behaviour, it creates space in our lives. And only from space can creativity be born. If we're constantly distracted? If we're constantly caught up in the noise, if we're constantly watching the news, which I do not recommend or mindless scrolling through social media. How are we ever going to know who we are, know what we have to offer to the world, and know what ideas are just beneath the surface? It's kind of like an ocean that's moving a lot. And the waters are very choppy. Meanwhile, there could be like, you know, this is a bad example. But like a gold iceberg right below the surface. It's only when we can calm our minds, like the surface of the ocean, then we can allow the beauty and that creativity to come from within. But we have to make a purposeful intention to create space in order for that to happen, I believe.

Dan Thurmon
So Chris, when you talked about closing your eyes and asking what's most important and getting clear on a question or an intention? Would you describe that as mental health? Is it accessible? Do you have to learn a specific process in order to get there? Or can anyone kind of easily do it? And if so, how would you suggest they start, then? It's

Chris Bashinelli
a great question. And I think one of the things to understand with mental health is that a path to positive mental health is available to anyone and everyone. It doesn't take a whole set of very complex techniques. We can just start exactly where we are. Where does anxiety come from? Like, for me, anxiety comes from focusing on all the things that I can control. If I continuously obsess about all the things that are outside of my control, whether or not this client is going to sign the deal, whether or not this person is going to like me who I have a crush on, whether or not it's going to rain, whether or not they're going to be waves, I will constantly be in a state of anxiety, the only thing I can control is what I bring to each of those experiences in my life, to bring my best self to each of those experiences. So when I think about something simple, like sitting down, when I'm at my desk, I'm about to start working, literally just closing my eyes. And Dan, it could be for 10 seconds, it could be for five minutes. I just breathe with my eyes closed. And I think about what is the most important thing I have to do that day. Or maybe I know what I have to do that day, maybe I have a conversation with Dan Thurman. Maybe I'm just going to sit down and breathe and think, what is the most important feeling? I want to get across to Dan in this interview? And just think about that. Or if I have a conversation with a client next week, or if I have a conversation with whoever might be coming up. Just think about what do I What, what are the questions, I have to ask this person. Or if there's a script I want to write or a video I want to record. And by doing that, all I'm doing is concentrating on one thing at a time, as opposed to sitting down at my desk, grabbing my phone, getting distracted, and not allowing those genuine, authentic answers that come from within each of us to come. But in order for those answers, in order for that creativity to arise, there just needs to be some space. And by closing our eyes, we create some space, and then the magic can happen, brother.

Dan Thurmon
Now can that space happen? Because that magic happened? Even when you're not sitting down at your desk? Like, do you create those moments of opportunity and clarity on your surfboard? Or when you're in the moment of doing something else? I know for me, physical discipline is quite often a very wonderful gateway that opens up a space for that opportunity to materialize.

Chris Bashinelli
Totally. For me, so much of what I do is about it's about being present. And that's one of the things that attracts me so much to surfing and to exercise that discipline. By being in such intense physical situations, it forces us to be present. When I think about your work off balance on purpose, I see you in some poses that if I ever tried them, I'd be in the hospital for a month. So I know that you bring intense presence, concentration, focus to what you do. When I'm on my surfboard, I know that if I'm present, I have a much better chance of catching the wave than if I'm distracted. Actually, I've been distracted on waves, and as a result, I've gotten hurt. So it's the same in our work. It's the same in our lives. And with physical discipline. That's sort of a way to, for me, get out of our head, get out of our head, get into our body and to be present. And that practice can be different for all of us every day. For someone who might be sitting down closing their eyes for another person, it might be gratitude practice for someone else, it could be throwing on an album yes, I do have a record player, listening to music, going for a walk in nature, exercising, taking those moments each day, even if it's one moment a day, to care for ourselves so that we can resource ourselves then and be there more for others and then what happens we're out there for a walk, or we're out there on our surfboard, or we're exercising We see that we're getting distracted and thinking about work. Maybe that's not our time to think about work, maybe we've made a boundary and said, You know what, I'm going to exercise for one hour every day. And during that time, I'm going to think about nothing else, then, except exercising, and then what happens, I finish exercising. Now I have more energy and creativity to bring to my office to bring to my work, we have to have the Yin to have the Yang, we have to have them off, to have them on, we have to have the space to have creativity arise.

Dan Thurmon
Yeah, and it's so great, and they come alongside each other. Because in those moments where we're out of our head, in physical activity, or exercise, quite often creating that space, even in the workout, the answer to the problem at work, or the creative idea for the next video or blog comes to you as just this clarity. And it's not because you were trying to pursue it. It was because you created the calmness of mind for it to materialize, created the calmness, and you created the space.

Chris Bashinelli
Like I think of another surfing example. I can think of standing on the shore and seeing all the waves break in front of me. And I'm trying to paddle out to get past the lineup where the waves start breaking. And I keep getting smashed back to shore, and I keep paddling out, I keep getting smashed back to shore. But there's another option. If I go back on the beach, and I look at the ocean, I look at the waves, I might see, hey, there's actually a channel 50 yards to the left, where the waves aren't breaking. And so I can just paddle out there without my hair getting wet and paddle out to the beginning of the lineup. It's the same with any problem-solving equation that we have creating some space gives us a new perspective. And the same goes with bringing in different perspectives, different people, different backgrounds, different cultures because when we bring in different perspectives, it allows us to look at that same problem from the wisdom and experience of countless other minds. And that will be more powerful than any problem-solving equation we try to solve on our own.

Dan Thurmon
You told me that this year, you've been so creative, give us a little insight into your creative process. And tell us what you're working on right now.

Chris Bashinelli
Believe it or not, then I think one of the foundations of creativity is stepping into our own self-worth. And what I mean by that is allowing ourselves to be successful; maybe we have heard stories growing up or had experiences or been let down or whatever that affects how we feel about ourselves. So we reach a certain level of success, or we reach a certain level of health, or fitness with our body or success with our clients or fill in the blank, whatever it is for you. And then we feel like alright, like that's my threshold, anything beyond that, I'm going to sabotage myself, and it's not even conscious. So that's why I think it is critical. Every day. Each of us has some sort of practice, whether it's gratitude, or prayer or meditation or breathing or going for a walk, something that centers us something that empowers us to feel good within not based on external conditions, not based on great the person I like they like me back or great this client I really wanted, I landed them not based on externals, based on ourselves based on knowing that we've brought everything we can to our lives. As you said, some days, we don't feel motivated. Some days we don't feel inspired. I think what we have to do, honestly, then we have to strike a balance between being gentle with ourselves and being disciplined. You know, if I don't get a good night's sleep, I'm not going to go and do the heaviest deadlift I can because I've done that, and then I hurt my back as a result. And then I'm out for a handful of days. So if I'm really not well-rested, I might just go and do a few practices of yoga. I might do some light exercises to know that I've done something. Consistency is key. But at the same time, we want to make sure that lazy narrative doesn't take over our minds so that we can use gentleness as an excuse for not reaching our potential. So it's that balance between Hey, am I just saying that I feel tired today? Or am I genuinely tired? Does my body need a rest? And listening to that and walking that fine line between being gentle with ourselves and being disciplined? It takes time, but I think it can produce sustainable positive results.

Dan Thurmon
Thinking of people who are gentle and disciplined. One of your heroes and personal mentors comes to mind, Dr. Jane Goodall, who is a world-renowned, of course, primatologist, an anthropologist, and just legend. I mean, I grew up seeing these movies of her With with the primates and developing relationships within the communities, and it just seemed almost like a superhero, to be able to transform as she did and to elevate her field to a level far beyond it ever was. How did you meet Jane Goodall? What was your relationship like? And how did she impact you?

Chris Bashinelli
Dr. Jane is an amazing inspiration. I feel very, very fortunate to have met her. I connected with her through my company bridged the gap TV, we made our first documentary on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which is unfortunately still one of the poorest places in the United States of America now looking like me, or you, it's generally difficult to gain trust, filming on a reservation. Right? And that it's very, very clear why that is, I realized that if I was going to make a documentary on an Indian reservation, we needed the support from within, we needed the support of local grassroots nonprofit initiatives that were helping people without any hidden agendas. And Jane Goodall's Roots and shoots is a very, very powerful youth-led organization that inspires young people around the world. I think it's probably in more than 150 countries, right now working on everything from animal rights to human rights to saving our planet. And Jane Goodall's Roots and shoots had a community garden initiative on the reservation at the time, and I reached out to them. And over the course of several months, I got to know the local staff working in Pine Ridge, they became a part of the documentary, they invited us into the community. And Dr. Jane was a part of that process from beginning to end. And I've also gotten to speak with her several times, the United Nations and other places. For me, the most profound thing that I learned from Dr. Jane's life is that she really lives her life. For others. She's been travelling nonstop since 1986, which is the year that I was born. So since that year, but aside from now, aside from in a global pandemic, she had not been home consistently, I think for more than two to three weeks in a row for the entire year, because she was on the road, sharing what she learned. And I believe it was said in an interview, she said something along the lines of after discovering what I discovered in Gombe National Park, I had to share that with the world. It would be selfish for me not to everything that Dr. Jane gets; she gives back to the Institute. All the money she receives, almost all that it goes back to the Institute. She's not a rich woman, but she's the richest woman I know internally because she lives her life for others, all the fame, all the attributes, all the accolades, she doesn't care about it only to the extent that it can serve others. And that's an example that each of us can take. It's kind of like the more we shine our light on others. Guess what happens? It bounces back in our direction.

Dan Thurmon
No doubt about it! I want to perhaps close our time together. You've shared some wonderful thoughts about Jane Goodall, and I couldn't agree with you more just what a blessing and privilege it is for you to cross paths with her in life. And not just for a small encounter, but for a true relationship. And now we get to benefit secondhand, and our audiences get to benefit from that experience because of how you are able to articulate it and relate it to the circumstances that we face, in our lives, in our businesses, in our mental health and how we overcome adversity, and even issues of like diversity and inclusion and how we can accept each other and truly be present, and kind of get out of our own way in terms of connecting. So I want to just close with what Jane Goodall said about you, which is we all need more people like Chris in the world. We need more people like Chris in the world. That's the quote, We need more people like Chris in the world, and I agree, or I'd say it a little differently. I'd say we all would benefit from being a little bit more like Chris because that's the deal is we when we change ourselves, as you said, we change our world. We change our relationships. We change our connection. And Chris, I truly believe just our little conversation here today has truly changed some people who listened to it. And so, thank you for being a part of the CMMI speaker interview series. Great to be with you, my friend.

Chris Bashinelli
Thank you so much. Thank you to you and the whole CMI team. Thank you, brother.

Karen Harris
Wow, what a great episode. I've known and worked with Bashan Dan for many years. They are insightful, creative, and they walk their talk every day. Remember, growth is uncomfortable because you've never been here before. Keep growing!


The Growth Connection Episode 1

By Felicia Labbe | Jan 11, 2021 | Comments Off

Welcome to The Growth Connection, a podcast to help us all look forward to this year with a growth mindset. We'll feature interviews with cmi's elite roster of experts in the areas of diversity, leadership, the future, mentorship, performance, teamwork and inspiration.

On today's episode...

GC episode 1 Copy 2 (1)

 

cmi's CEO and Super Promoter Karen Harris and keynote speaker, author and former Blue Angel Pilot John 'Gucci' Foley sit down to discuss the Glad to be Here mentality and get to one another on a deeper level.

 

Takeaways

  • Learn how John Foley got the call sign Gucci and what it was like filming the Top Gun movie.
  • Explore how the Glad To Be Here mindset can change not just your professional life but your personal life
  • How to find different and unique ways to increase communication between leaders and employees while converting to the virtual world
  • Why you have to start looking inwards to see an outright result

Click below to listen!

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Transcript

Karen
So here we are with the first edition of The Growth Connection. It's a series of interviews designed to help us all look forward to this new year with a growth mindset. I'm joined today by John "Gucci" Foley. Welcome, John!

John
Glad to be here. Such an honour.

Karen
Glad to have you here. So okay, first of all, this call sign named Gucci. Where did this thing come from?

John
Well, here's the thing with call sides. So all fighter pilots, we get called sides. But here's the key. You don't get to pick it. If you'd like it, it doesn't stick. So one day, I was with my team, and we were about to go out, and I showed up with this thin black leather tie on now that wasn't even cool in the 80s—right, Karen? Buddy looked at me they go 'What is that?' That's Gucci. Well, no fighter pilot wants Gucci. You want Hitman, Viper, Iceman, you know, something. But it didn't help us living on a sailboat and driving an alpha male at the time too. So it stuck.

Karen
oh, it's done. It's stuck. So my one of my all-time favourite movies is Top Gun. And of course, you know, Maverick, goose, they're my most favourite characters of the whole movie. So when I when, when we were talking about, you know how you got your callsign coochie? I'm thinking, Okay, so how did they choose, say Maverick or goose or whatever? So, from your perspective, it's, if you don't like it, it sticks.

John
Yeah, it's a little both. Well, you know, I actually did some of the real flying in that movie Top Gun. I'm not sure. Right, right. Yeah, yeah, that was on the carrier enterprise. And so I got to meet, Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. And so Hollywood did a great job, by way of capturing the air to air scenes. It was incredible. You know, I did some of the flying, and my teammates did some of the flying. But I think what was really powerful was the captured the essence, a little bit of that competitiveness. And so that's what you're getting in those call sites. You know, Iceman is the far You know, right hand, you know, very cold and calculated. Mavericks, you know, kind of on edge, you know, push no limits and reality is that somewhere in between, right, but call signs, yeah, they come up in all different shapes and sizes. Hey, by the way, when this podcast comes out, I know it's coming out in 2021. We'll get to see Top Gun Maverick as it's going to be hitting the theatres probably late in the year.

Karen
I know, I'm so excited.

John
It's great. It's great flying footage, my buddies fly in, and it's incredible stuff, you're going to really like it.

Karen
oh, man, man, it was just so great. And, you know, I'm female, right? I'm a woman. However, it doesn't mean that we as women don't get excited about that sense of competition, that sense of accomplishment. So I'm very excited about that movie coming out. Okay, so I'm sitting here with a very accomplished individual, John. You're a former Blue Angel. Before that, you were an instructor pilot, a top 10 carrier pilot, plus you got a degree in mechanical engineering, and you have three master's degrees, two of which are from Stanford. So you have a thirst for knowledge for learning, for growing? Yeah. Where does that come from? Any idea where that's come from?

John
I think for me, it's always been part of my ethos. I think it came from my parents in the upbringing, you know, always trying to, to get better, right and, and do the best you can and accomplish something in a giveback way. And that's where I've got a new mantra now. It's called give, learn, grow. And I gotta be honest with you, I used to call it learn how to grow, give, and then Okay, lies that actually, the essence is to give first like we're doing right now just giving, what we can share with the audience, hopefully, being able to give them something of value, right. And so I realized that giving is first, and I do that with the course and all the engagements we have, it's just given as much as you can, but then you're continually learning. And I think that thirst is always been there and it really was strong on the Blue Angels, you know, we had an ethos of glad to be here, which means we're grateful. So we're really trying to put out this positive energy, but also an ethos of operational excellence, that allows you to get better every single day, where it's constantly trying to get better building trust building teamwork. And I think that that's always been a part of who I am. I mean, this whole zoom, this last year has been a great experience of learning and growing. And what we found is we're actually able to impact clients at even a deeper level, a more intimate level.

Karen
Yeah, yeah, you've really adopted this whole virtual space that we're in terms of finding ways to help your clients to deal with some of the disruptive pressures that they've been under all year. And it's probably not going to end into 2021. I think disruption is here to stay forever, major disruption. And so as a result, we need to find a very different unique ways to communicate with each other, and, you know, leaders with their employees, etc. So you've really been sort of one of the leaders in the space to do a great job of converting to the virtual world. Tell us a little bit about what that took for you. You know, since learning is one of your piece of your mantra, what did that take for you?

John
Well, first off, it's listening, right? It's listening to, you know, the customers and finding out what do they need, right. And if you remember, when it first happened, we weren't sure everybody was trying to have it, you know, and all that. But it became clear that people need a connection. That's why I like what you call growth connection, right? Before you can grow, you got to connect, right? And so especially virtually, with people, you know, some companies, most companies being remote, but a lot having hybrid cases, and I found it, that's what people are asking the most of how do I get my people to stay connected? How do I keep them inspired? How do I keep them not just motivated, but you know, feeling positive when there's all these challenges around us? So that was number one. But what I liked is that most clients, if that was it, that was would have been fine. But what we realized that it's not enough just to connect, we got to align everybody, we have to look at the glass as being half full, not half empty. And so how do you do that? Well, you got to paint a metaphor. And you got to connect people that, you know, these, these new tools we have that allow us to go into breakout rooms allow us to do these beautiful word clouds, allows us to do surveys allows the interaction that you know, people come out of these meetings, more inspired and more pumped up, but also with a clear action plan.

Karen
Yeah, yeah. You mentioned connect and alignment. In a recent tweet that you did, like, just a day or so ago. You talked about seeing something, seeing things from a different perspective. Yeah, which gives you greater context. And then that context gives you a greater understanding of how things connect. And then from that alignment grows. And that makes you that causes you to pay less attention to the insignificant things. Yeah, which allows you to become more strategic now. Holy, moly, there's a lot to unpack in there. I'd like us to unpack that. So I know You talk a lot about Connect, align, commit when you're presenting and with your clients, and you're doing training and advisory work. How does this what you tweeted about, you know, the different perspective gives you a greater context? Let's start there. Let's unpack that out.

John
Yeah, well, it's a, it's what you do. It's how you build trust and teamwork. And then the commitments get you whatever we're trying to achieve, right, which is taking care of our people first, taking care of the customers making a difference in people's lives. And what I learned was, there's a lot of science behind having this glad to be here a positive state of mind, it turns out, Karen, that when you're in a grateful state of mind, it lights up the area of your brain, okay, where your observations come from how you perceive the world. Now, then, also, when you're in a generous state of mind, so you're giving you're sharing with people, right? It lights up the area of your brain where self-esteem comes from. So here's what's powerful. When you connect those two dots. When you're in a grateful state of mind and a generous state of mind, you will see things others don't see. And you have the confidence to take the action. That's innovation, that's creativity, that's seeing a glass half full, not half empty. And so it's amazing. When you can get people not just, you know, myself, when you can get a whole organization to take on that mindset. It's amazing what can happen.

Karen
So gratefulness is something I've heard up for a long time, lots of us have heard about having a grateful mindset. But there's a lot of people that are probably pretty fearful, right? You know, even you know, going into 2021, there's a lot of fears. So how do you connect that dot between Oh, my gosh, how the heck can I be grateful when I'm scared? Right now I'm just scared.

John
Well, I like to make a distinction because you're absolutely right. The biggest thing challenge we have and the biggest call it an enemy out there is not the Coronavirus. It's fear. It's what you just said it's fear itself. And and so how do you overcome the fear? That, by the way, I think it is natural, it's okay to feel fear. I actually to flip it though, I say that I'm scared, but never afraid. And this is a subtle point, they that's a big difference. See to me scared is awareness. All right, it says little hairs that stand on the back of your neck. It says, Let's wear rpp equipment, let's take the precautions we're supposed to. I mean, companies are doing that they know that right? But how do you deal with the fear and in an individual's heart, right. And actually, the antidote for fear is joyful effort. Most people would have no idea that, but it's it's having a joyful effort. You watch, you will overcome that fear. And so with me, you know, whether it was flying jets off aircraft carriers, or final blazers, or more importantly, you know, what I've done after the military, you know, like I said, Business School worked with now over 1000 companies, and you get to see this at a real level, right. And what you can see is that, you know, we can show and analogies and give people the inspiration, but more importantly, the tools to overcome their own fear. And one of them is being scared. So again, what I mean by that is you don't walk down a dark alley late at night, you don't go off things, right? You're aware of it, you increase your awareness. And with that awareness, what you want to do, and what companies are asking for is alignment, right? Let's get our people aligned, because there are so many distractions out there, and there are so many things that are gonna pull us away. So if we can, we can get them connected and aligned, then what we want to do is be very strategic, and what's the commitments we want to make, and I call those high trust contracts, by the way, and those are verbal and non verbal. And with those high trust contracts, bam, you get some great operational excellence execution.

Karen
So how do you create those high trust contracts?

John
Well we do itright here in the zoom rooms, we are the breakout rooms, we do it right here in a virtual way is you get people to number one, lay it on the table, I have what I call five dynamics that create a high trust environment, Okay, first is you got to have a safe environment. And I'm not just talking physical safety, I mean, psychological safety. All right. Second, is you want to check your ego at the door, you know, I mean, we get to work with so many great people, there are so many amazing companies out there, right. And so what I've noticed is that everybody is good, let's just check our ego at the door, because this is about the we not the AI, this is about better together. So that's the second element. The third element is to lay it on the table. And that's just openness and honesty. Karen, it's you know, it's it's getting people in a room and saying, Let's be open and honest about this. The fourth is ownership mentality, I like to call it an own and and fix it, which is really accountability. You know, but when I learned and this is this was really critical, is it's not about accountability, if all you're working on is accountability, you're not a High Performance Team yet, because what you really want to have is personal responsibility. And when you have personal responsibility, accountability and ownership becomes a given. And then I think the fifth and most important one is to have a glad to be here mindset, you know, that out of respect and gratitude and gratefulness. And what I found, Karen, is that that works in every organization in every vertical, whether it's you know, healthcare, technology, manufacturing, I mean, it's about people in teams, right? And that's what's making the difference.

Karen
Yeah, I, you know, I've watched, obviously, I've watched some footage, footage of you doing a debriefing session, you call them I believe, I have a briefing session with the Blue Angels. And then I've had the honor to sit in on some of those debriefing sessions with some clients lately. And, you know, I've been thrilled to participate with you, where you were saying, hey, my safety, that was my, my error, or whatever you would say, that doesn't happen a lot. You know, in these kinds of environments when you're working with a client, so yeah, tell me what you feel that does by by saying, hey, personal responsibility, accountability, and my safety and being meaning, hey, I made a mistake, right?

John
Yeah, yeah. Or there's things we could have done better, right. Or we could have done better. And that's what we're always trying to give, right just give value. And I think the first thing is, you got to come from a humble mindset, right, that humility. So, you know, you mentioned it with clients and the debriefs are so powerful right after an event, right. And so what I've learned, Karen, is that, first, I paint the picture by showing a video. You've seen this in that briefing room. It's one thing to talk about it but it's a whole nother thing to start. See it, and you viscerally can feel it. Right. It's, it's, it's unique. And I always do a breakout with them and talk about, you know, well, how is that in your company in your relationships? Right? And and they get it, you know, people talk about those five dynamics. So then what we do is we actually implement them right after the event, I mean, right then and there, and they get to see how quickly you can, you can implement this. And it starts with an inward look for an outright result. That's why I always talk about myself, and what am I grateful for big picture. And it's such a, it's such a blessing to work with so many individuals, right, and to be able to share and give back, and then I'm always looking to improve. And I thought the way to improve is, number one, notice, is there anything you could have done better, and then just ask the client? And they'll tell you, and it's it allows us to get better for the next event.

Karen
Yeah, absolutely, for sure. And you mentioned earlier that you know, glad to be here and give learn grow are mantras of yours, right?

John
It's about better together. This is about leadership, this is about teamwork. And we are better the more diverse, the more we embrace other people's ideas, the more we learn to listen, and, and, and, and, and care about each other, then all your processes, your procedures work so much better. You reminded yourself How fortunate you were to be part of that team just to be selected. And I think of all the companies we work with, and actually it's not it's also the individuals, that's the secret sauce is just being grateful for the opportunities we have. Right? And, and that becomes the game-changer. Because when you can instill a culture of Glad to be here. And it's not just words, okay. And I think that's the essence that you're feeling is what I've noticed is it's an ethos, it's it's the way to see the world, it's about being respectful, but also about challenging each other in a beautiful way. It's about appreciating others, it's about a growth mindset, you know, glad to be here and mixed in with this operational excellence. So you got to have a plan got a process, right? And we show that when you when you combine the two, it really is exponential results. It's it's not one plus one equals two, it's one plus one equals 11. And most importantly, the people leave feeling better about not only themselves but about the world, and and the people they get to work with.

Karen
So has the Blue Angels always had that as a mantra? How long has that been? It's a cultural thing. It's something that, from what I understand is a long term cultural perspective there.

John
Yeah, when I joined the team, I, you know, you never get to sit in on a debrief. When you're an applicant. It's only when you're a Blue Angel, right? Because they're very, it's a sacred space. And I remember the first time I sat in on a debrief, I had just gotten selected, and I was blown away. Number one, just with how humble everyone was, number two, how they were constantly looking to improve what I thought was excellent, they picked apart and said, you know, we can be a lot better. But they always ended with this, just the words Glad to be here. And that's that stuck to my heart. But what I've really done is, is I've realized that I've taken in a whole new to new way of it's much more than just being grateful, all right, it's actually a culture of excellence. It's actually a culture of caring. And and this culture is what is the most important because when you have that, and you know, you can create these little small teams first, right? It doesn't have to come out. It's beautiful. And I've never seen anybody not only embrace it, but actually take it home. And people you know, they'll text me and they'll say, Hey, I used it up at the table with my kids. You know, when we when we talk about what are we grateful for today? And and what are we grateful for when we wake up? And this glad to be here is the secret sauce?

Karen
That's it. And it sounds I mean, obviously to me, it would also really help to increase performance, right? Personal my personal performance and my organization's performance, right?

John
Yeah, yeah, it's, it's the starting point. And actually, most people think that Well, after I increase performance, then I'll be happy. It's actually just the other way around. You know, once you create that gratefulness and gratitude in your heart, you watch not only your own individual performance go up, because it's natural, the energy I can create it right and but the team environment goes up the organization environment goes up and that to me is the benefit of having a process and a mindset that's called glad to here.

Karen
Now you created a foundation for at the glad to be her foundation. So kind of work has had that foundation, but doing

John
well. You know, Karen, in the last decade alone, we've been able to sponsor over I think 347 different charities around the world. We've donated over $2 million We sponsor my wife and I sponsor 47 kids. And I know you do, too, in countries all around the world. In fact, my vision and dream is the sponsor child in every country of the world, because I want us to come together, you know, but it started really, one day, I always wanted to give back and I said, Well, wait till I make a lot of money, and, and then I'll be able to give back. And that wasn't happening. You know, I finally said, hey, what the heck, just start tomorrow. And what we do now, and we've been doing this last decade is every time we get hired, it's all future revenues. I give 10% to charity. And and the clients, they usually don't know this when they select this, but there's 10% is going to go to charity. And then I realized that probably, you know, there's so many good works out there everybody is, is really caring that we give now we let the client pick where half of that goes. So that's where we've done 347 charities, because probably 300 of those have been clients, charities, and a bow impact. And when you see so many people out there, just really caring, and a lot of local stuff. I mean, because you know, it's wherever the client is, will support them. And yes, changed my life. I you know, our business took off like crazy. I don't know if that's because the business got better, or because we were giving more, I think it's a little both.

Karen
I think it's a little bit of both, but I think I'm a big believer in you give and you shall receive. I'm a big believer in that, that mantra. So, you know, Top Gun world Blue Angels rolled, it's historically very masculine. And I mentioned earlier, though, that I've really kind of identified with the Top Gun world from way back, when did that movie goodness, what is it 2530 years ago that they made that movie, whatever, a long, long time ago. So, you know, I had somebody asked me, just last week, you know, how do your ideas appeal to a more gender-diverse audience? males females?

John
What are your thoughts about that? Well, first off, thanks for bringing it up. It's it's always a challenge at first. But what what happens is, at the end of glad to be here is universal, okay? excellence is universal. It's it doesn't come from any, you know, male, female, it's not masculine or feminine. And what people find is that actually, I'm very proud of the military and the Blue Angels and what they've accomplished, since, you know, back in the 80s, and 90s, when I was there, much more diverse. I mean, if you look at it, it's amazing what the country is going through and, and how powerful that is, you know, I actually get more people standing in line to talk and say thankful there are more women than there are men, this message actually resonates more with the the women in the audience, because they realize that it's it's this caring piece, it's this idea of having both excellence with a deep compassion and a deep caring, and actually coming from a male, they're surprised a little bit. But they feel it. It's not rhetoric. Right. Right. And, and I think that that's, that's what we care about, right? It doesn't, it's about bringing the whole world together. That's why I met sponsoring a child in every country, it's, it's about better together. This is about leadership. This is about teamwork. And we are better the more diverse, the more we embrace other people's ideas, the more we learn to listen, and, and and care about each other, then all your processes, your procedures work so much better. Yeah,

Karen
I agree with you. 100% there. So, you know, this has been amazing. Thank you. I'm so grateful for the time that you spent here. One last thing, you know, if you could speak to directly to one or two people today, what do you think is the best next step for us as leaders or individual employees? Or just, you know, somebody doing whatever at home?

John
What's our next best step for this new year? Well, first, it's just embrace the change that we're seeing in the world. And what I mean by that is, I truly know that it's an optimistic timeframe out there to be aware that yes, we still have challenges, and we're going to take care of those. But I think back to my dad always said embrace challenges, because challenges, build endurance, and then endurance builds character. And with strong character, you're ready for anything. And I think that's true. as an individual, as a team and as an organization. We're building the character and the culture is making a difference. I'm super excited for 2021 I'm so grateful for all the opportunities we get, and let's continue to help others and help the world. Yeah,

Karen
I am with you. They're Glad to be here. I hope you enjoyed your time with John is glad to be here mindset has already helped me to reach new heights. Remember, embrace challenges and change. Growth is uncomfortable because you've never been there before. Keep growing.

The cmi Team & Breast Cancer Awareness

By Felicia Labbe | Oct 22, 2020 | Comments Off

You’d think that writing about breasts would be easy, fun even, but these bouncy, squishy bags that hang off our chests that can sustain the life of tiny humans can also kill us.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, aka Pinktober.

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If you didn’t already know, cmi is solely owned and operated by women. We are a team of 6 intelligent, hard-working, creative and beautiful humans who happen to have mammary glands. And to support Breast Cancer Awareness, we spent some time decorating bras and learning about breast health.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, and the second most common cancer overall. It is a leading cause of cancer death in less developed countries. The second leading cause of cancer death in American women is exceeded only by lung cancer. There were over 2 million new cases in 2018. 

unnamed (1)2020 has been a powerful reminder that our choices and actions have the power to protect or harm those around us. Taking away the taboo of speaking openly about Boobs and their health, therefore normalizing the jugs, is an essential first step.

It’s estimated that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed in their lifetime. A woman’s breast cancer risk nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

 

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Bosoms, busts, chesticles, jubblies….whatever you want to call them, don’t forget to do thorough self-exams and head for mammograms. Early detection is critical to positive outcomes.

Don’t be a statistic-The Breast is yet to come!

On a lighter note…"do you wear a Titsling or a Brassiere?"

My Post

 

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