Amy Radin Show Notes Page
Amy Radin (RAY-DIN), was used to getting organizational resources to innovate and drive change. Then she met Drew and gained a new perspective that caused her to never again complain, or tolerate complaints from others, about not having resources.
Amy, author of The Change Maker’s Playbook: How to Seek, Seed and Scale Innovation In Any Company, is a native of Brooklyn having been born and raised there long before it was the cool borough.
Her passion for all things innovative is evident back to her teenage years. The daughter of a pharmacist/small business owner dad and an artist mom, Amy learned, through her early experiences at Harold’s Pharmacy, what it really meant to serve customers, meet their needs, earn their loyalty, and stand out. She sees understanding people as the starting point for innovation of any type. Technology, in her view, is just an enabler.
Amy is a proud graduate of the New York City public school system. She was a member of one of the first graduating classes of John Dewey High School, an experimental school whose structure and programming approach were based upon a progressive philosophy of education.
At Wesleyan University, Amy studied in the College of Letters, one of the first integrated curricula in Literature, Philosophy and History. She loved the study of language, and during a semester in Madrid and over the course of a summer at Middlebury College became near-fluent in Spanish. She decided to round out her liberal arts education, complementing it with a MBA in Marketing, earned at The Wharton School.
Amy is the kind of person who is drawn to “what is possible” with an emphasis on getting stuff done, not simply dreaming. She undertook a complete career pivot in 2014, leaving the corporate world to engage with entrepreneurs as an independent advisor, and author of The Change Maker’s Playbook: How to Seek, Seed and Scale Innovation in Any Company.
She is married to Mitchell Radin, her husband of 34 years. They are the proud parents of 3 children, Jared, Molly and Shira [“SHEE-RA”], and share their home with their rescue cat, JJ.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“We as human beings tend to prefer just sort of sticking to the status quo.” – Click to Tweet
“Change is hard and it takes magic gluing of the right people to get you from where you are to some place very different.” – Click to Tweet
“Change is emotional and it’s physically difficult.” – Click to Tweet
“In today’s world, speed is critical. You can be right and late and it just doesn’t matter.” – Click to Tweet
“There are people moving much faster than you, no matter what it is you’re trying to do.” – Click to Tweet
“It’s not running faster on the same treadmill, it’s changing how you go about things to compress time.” – Click to Tweet
“How you treat your customers determines if there’s going to be money in the cash register at the end of the day.” – Click to Tweet
“It’s a matter of recognizing how big a role the contact center people can play and then making room for them at the table.” – Click to Tweet
“The people who are talking to customers have incredible insight about how customers are feeling and engaging with products or services.” – Click to Tweet
“Everybody should spend time with customers, it’s eye opening.” – Click to Tweet
“Any change initiative in an organization, if there isn’t active sponsorship from the top, it’s hard to get any place.” – Click to Tweet
“Start-ups don’t have a monopoly on innovation and big companies don’t have a monopoly on bureaucracy.” – Click to Tweet
“Can you form interesting collaborative relationships that bring together people with different perspectives, skill, and experience?” – Click to Tweet
“Listening is an underrated skill.” – Click to Tweet
“Establish and invest in a diverse network of relationships.” – Click to Tweet
“In a world of constant change and unknowns, even if you think you know everything today, it’s going to be different tomorrow.” – Click to Tweet
“My key to staying relevant is constantly investing in relationships.” – Click to Tweet
“It’s not what I know, it’s that I know who to call.” – Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Amy Radin was used to getting organizational resources to innovate and drive change. Then she met Drew and gained a new perspective that caused her to never again complain, or tolerate complaints from others, about not having resources.
Advice for others
Holding her back from being an even better leader
Best Leadership Advice
Try it – there’s nothing wrong with trying.
Secret to Success
Having a network that I give to and full of people that are willing to step up and help me.
Best tools in business or life
Intellectual curiosity. I am a constant learner.
Contacting Amy Radin
Resources and Show Mentions
Show Transcript:Click to access edited transcript
Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader podcast where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader, and now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner Jim Rembach.
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Jim Rembach: Okay. Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who really gives clarity around something that quite frankly, I think just about every single organization can benefit from. Amy Raiden, author of the Change Maker’s Playbook: How to Seek, Seed and Scale Innovation in any company is a native of Brooklyn. Having been born and raised there long before it was the cool borough. Her passion for all things innovative is evident back to her teenage years. The daughter of a pharmacist, small business owner, dad, and an artist’s mom. Amy learned through her early experiences at Harold’s pharmacy, what it really meant to serve customers, meet their needs earn their loyalty and standout. She sees understanding people as the starting point for innovation of any type. Technology and her view is just an enabler.
Amy is a proud graduate of the New York City public school system. She was a member of one of the first graduating classes of John Dewey high school, an experimental school whose structure and programming approach were based upon a progressive philosophy of education. At Wesleyan University and studied in the College of Letters, one of the first integrated curricula in literature, philosophy and history. She loved the study of language and during a semester in Madrid and over the course of a summer at Middlebury College became near fluent in Spanish. She decided to round out her liberal arts as occasion completing it with an MBA in marketing earned at the Wharton School. Amy is the kind of person who is drawn to what is possible with an emphasis on getting stuff done, not simply dreaming. She undertook a complete career pivot in 2014, leaving the corporate world to engage with entrepreneurs as an independent advisor. She is married to Mitchell Raiden, her husband of 34 years. They are the proud parents of three children, Jared, Molly, and Shira, and they share their home with their rescue cat, JJ. Amy Raiden, help us get over the hump please.
Amy Radin: It’s great to be here Jim and looking forward to having this conversation about how to execute innovation. People love to talk about innovation, it’s hard to get things done and helping people do that has really become my passion.
Jim Rembach: Well, and I appreciate that. And so, when we start talking about passion, one of the things that I found very interesting when I was reading the book is how much you actually infuse emotion into this whole process. So your book, when you first open it, really lays out the road map, it’s a playbook right? But to me it was a road map because it’s kind of visually that way where you go from–discover position with purpose and go all the way through to achieving impact. And then in every single part, each individual part of this book is chapters within that area, but then you put everything through a scrubbing process or an iterative process where you were asking about the capabilities, connections and culture. So how did you actually come to the conclusion that you needed to do that as far as with these three C’s for all of these particular areas.
Amy Radin: Right. I guess, what happened with me is that no matter what role I played in my career, and even as, as you can tell from my early education experience, I was always drawn to what’s different and what’s next. We as human beings tend to prefer just sort of sticking to the status quo, we don’t love change generally. And for some crazy reason I was always different I always wanted to go towards the white space. And really what I found largely when I started to work on digital transformation back in 2000, and that was when people were just saying like, wow, there is some commercial possibility around this thing called the Internet. We have to see how it’s going to affect our businesses and our lives. There was a lot of resistance, a lot of ambiguity, a lot of uncertainty. And what I found just from being a hands on operator, because I had real goals. In those days I was at city we had a budget and we said, okay, well you’ve got to make this stuff happen with the Internet. What I really saw as a practitioner of change is that the real key–you can buy technology you can get on to space, you can find designers but the really hard part is can you attract talent and can you build a culture where people are really working collaboratively because change is hard and it takes that sort of magic gluing of the right people in the connecting and the right environment to get you from where you are to someplace very different.
Jim Rembach: As you’re talking, I started thinking as well, you’d mentioned something about people not liking change. And I’ve had the opportunity to chat with a lot of folks who’ve actually studied this particular area. Some will even say that they’re, well, it’s not that people don’t like change is people fear change for a couple of different reasons. First of all, if we do this change, how is it going to impact me, my job, my life, my family? That is one very real fear. The others are, is that our body was designed to be in cruise control, it’s way God made us. So in other words, we put everything into a habit, right? And then we repeat the habit. And at any time we disrupt the habit, that’s the part that becomes somewhat uncomfortable. And then also we don’t want to feel confident and competent because of the change.
Amy Radin: Right? I think all of those things are right, Change is, it’s emotional and it’s physically difficult. I was a pretty mediocre science school in high school but one thing I remember from my high school physics class is Newton’s first law, the law of inertia and I take that very much applies to us. People will stay on their–an object will remain in motion on its current path unless it’s forced out of position by something big and that’s usually something bad, imagine a boulder coming down a hill and it gets slammed to the side. So that’s us were kind of cruising along. I think a lot about one of the principles of behavioral economics, loss aversion. The theory of loss aversion says that we will discount upside and overweight downside. So if we see the opportunity to earn $2 on a bet, we assumed that we could actually lose $4 if things don’t work out, so it’s really natural.
I think the other thing that happens when you’re inside any kind of an established organization and it could even be a startup that’s been around for a while, I don’t think big companies own the space on bureaucracy and just getting complacent. But big companies, especially big public companies, especially those who are regulated, they are engineered for predictability and continuity they just want the cranked to keep turning continuously. Any change, innovation, those are just continuity they’re like bolts being thrown into the gears, the system setup to not tolerate that stuff. And so I think the question for established teams in any kind of organization is, sure the continuity is important, now you want to run a healthy business and serve your customers with quality, but how do you allow for some discontinuity? And that’s where the change comes from.
Jim Rembach: You know, it’s kind of interesting that you’re saying that because as you were talking about that I started thinking about how we often have this quest for speed and velocity. And because of what you were talking about, the reverse actually happens. In our quest for the speed and velocity we have all this repetition that occurs and we need people to follow it in order to increase our speed, but yet that in fact creates so much friction that it slows us down.
Amy Radin: It is, it creates friction. I think speed, you raise a good point about speed because I think in today’s world speed is critical. You can be right and late and it just doesn’t matter because there are people moving much faster than you no matter what it is you’re trying to do. And I think one of the challenges is it’s not sort of running faster on the same treadmill it’s changing how you go about things to compress time, it’s been really eye opening to me. Since leaving the corporate world I’ve spent a lot of time with many startups, coaching them on enterprise business development and marketing and things like that. It’s been really eye opening to see how a startup who does not have resources, who’s investors are on their backs to show returns, how they get things done. Compared to the corporate world, even something as simple as a market research study, do you need to do the $200,000 study that takes five months to get the results? Or can you do a series of very well structured man on the street interviews to get enough clues to get to where you need to go. So, they have a much better sense of when good enough is good enough and that mindset, allows them to move quickly. They simply don’t have the resources so they have to be much more resourceful and scrappy. That is one of the big time compressors.
Jim Rembach: As you were talking about that I started thinking about something that we were discussing prior to actually getting on the interview and it’s how you have constructed the different parts of the book which is–it’s in three. And you talk about that it is structured, in seeking, seeding and scaling. And one of the things, as I mentioned to you that kind of stood out for me is I was looking at the structure and the way that you have it is I also started seeing different parts of the organization in my mind. And so for me, doing a lot of work with the frontline, in contact centers, customer service and having that background and developing those front line leaders and call center coach is that I started seeing the seeking part being so critical. So many organizations at their frontline aren’t capturing the things that they need to in order to be able to hand, insights off to the people who can actually do the seeding and then subsequently the scaling.
Amy Radin: Yeah. And I guess, for me, and I know you shared in my bio that I, my first job is really working behind the counter in my dad’s store and so I was a frontline person. How you treat your customers determines if there’s going to be money in the cash register. At the end of the day It’s very, very real and visceral. And then I was really lucky to have worked– i started my corporate career at American Express where the culture was such that as a member of the marketing and product team, my colleagues and I, we naturally would involve the employees who are frontline, the people on the phones all day in the call center. Whenever we started a new project we do marketing campaign or some big new innovation, one of the early steps was always to do something as casual as, you know, have a brown bag lunch with a group of Reps. Go sit in the contact center and monitor calls really get that input. So I think nowadays there’s certainly structured ways to get insights, through technology and databases and all that and all kinds of tools for capturing insight. I also used to just read call center logs. I remember riding the train early in my career and just reading printouts of customer comments. And so I think the information is there and it’s a matter of recognizing how big a role the contact center people can play and then making room for them at the table from the beginning of the process. I’ll tell you one quick story that I bet you’ll enjoy since you work a lot with contact centers. When I was at e-trade, we ran a companywide innovation challenge and the idea was to engage employees to get business plan proposals, not just because we want to proposals but because we really wanted to sort of reignite the innovation DNA in a company that really was a disruptor when it was founded. Everybody in the company was predicting that people and technology we’re going to win. Companies with 30 employees or tech employees a very, very tech driven company. We ran a very rigorous process with outside judges and serious challenged the winning team was a group of call center representatives. Out of about 60 or 70 proposals that were submitted in probably high school graduates maybe two year college and their proposal and plan trump those of people who others we’re assuming we’re going to get a slam dunk. So to me that was very, very heartwarming and exciting.
Jim Rembach: I’m sure that brought a full circle for you talking about being behind the pharmacy counter.
Amy Radin: It’s funny the companies I worked the people were sometimes refer to the people in the call center as back office and I’m like, wait a second, we’re in the back we never run a direct consumer virtual remote business. The people who are talking to the customers are the people who are on the phone or the people who are on chat, they had incredible insight about how customers are feeling and engaging with products and services what’s working for them, what’s not working for them. That’s very important insight to get and an executive should do it as well not just mid-level people. Everybody should spend time with customers it’s eye opening.
Jim Rembach: It totally is. And even what you’re talking about in regards to those call logs is that there’s technology these days for all of that with speech analytics and you’re being able to look at key phrasing, words spotting emotional detection, all of these things have become quite sophisticated over the past couple of years. It used to be that only the very largest of large organizations could utilize some of those tools because of the cost. And now over time, scalability is starting to take effect and a lot of organizations can take advantage of a lot of that discovery that they weren’t able to do before. However, it just goes back to that whole inertia thing is that, well, we’ve never really done that I’m not exposed to that and it goes back to that whole seeking thing. And the reason I bring that up is because you said something that I think is critically important as you talk about the innovation DNA of an organization. So if I don’t have an innovation DNA within my organization, where do I need to start that?
Amy Radin: Big question. First of all, and I’ll tell you how I got started on this. Part of it was I guess, my wiring, going back to how I was raised and my education. The way I got started working on innovation per se was, I was in this digital job at city and really my responsibility was to figure out like what’s the impact that digital of the business that at the time was generating $5,000,000,000 in earnings. We were about a quarter of earnings it was a very important business and analysts cared about a lot. My boss came to me one day, the CEO, and he said, Amy, I want you to make us more innovative because we’re not innovative and we need to be innovative. And at the time I was like, okay, is he thinks I’m really special or I’ve tried the short straw, I am the only person crazy enough to do this and you don’t say no to the CEO. So it’s like, okay boss, I’ll go figure it out. And honestly I started networking and reading and saying like, what is this? And as luck would have it, there was a gentleman named Larry Keeley he’s a real authority on this whole topic of how do you create a discipline around innovation. And I was very lucky being at a place in the city who had those resources. He came (inaudible 17:18) but I think the thing is to go out and start asking, who in your network would know anything about this and where do you start? But I think for me it’s a couple of lessons the CEO has to care, right? Any change initiative in an organization, if there is an active sponsorship from the top, uh, hard to get any place he or she needs to create accountability across his or her entire direct report team.
So it’s not enough to say, Oh, I’ve got this head of innovation because you have sort of a target on your back, right? If your colleagues aren’t putting some skin in the game. I’ve always found that there are always people in the organization care about this. Anybody who sees a career runway in front of them and has ambition is going to be scratching their head and saying like, doesn’t management get it? Like what are they doing? The world is changing, we now all carry a computer in our pockets. We all know about one click shopping. You go on and on. So all this innovation has pervaded and taken over our lives. So people know it’s a matter of identifying them, empowering them and protecting them and putting some structure around what it is you’re asking them to do linking innovation for real business goal, having a real business objective. At e-trade I used to keep a list of people I called the hand raisers and it’s like anybody who reached out to me, it was like they care and built an informal network. So I think ultimately you need some dedicated resource, but as soon as people in an organization, no, that’s a senior executive who cares and the CEO is nodding their head up and down people will start to just identify themselves.
Jim Rembach: Well, I know what you were just talking about. I mean, you talk about tribe, community champions a lot of folks have actually formalized that particular process of doing all of that networking and connecting and have all those hand raisers and all those pot stirrers because they can do what you said when they collaborate and work together, they can actually raise the tide for everybody when you started talking about this innovation DNA.
Amy Radin: Everybody is, you know, we’re in a low unemployment situation. And even beyond that, there are so many specific skill sets that are in demand and so being perceived as a brand that is on the move and interested in, and active about continuing to adapt where the world is going, is going to automatically make it easier for you to attract better people. So yeah, it’s like the rising tide that lifts all ships. There are things, the networking and the informal actions to just like watch for who’s stepping forward. I’ve done some things in the past, like when we first got going at city on our innovation efforts, we would organize brainstorming sessions where we were deliberately very collaborative. We would invite in people from product, people from tech all parts of the organization, analytics, etc and we’d brainstorm. We’d look at different aspects of the customer experience or different segments of our customer base and say, okay, let’s just think about how could the introduction of digital channels impacts customer relationships. And we would implement test. So those kinds of, sort of semi structured collaborative sessions also started to draw people in and everybody likes to be on a winning team they’re excited about this stuff. We gradually influence the entire organization to the point where instead of digital just being sort of the domain of the department and innovation being the domain of just smoke with people, there were many, many people in the organization supporting our projects with their managers understanding that this stuff really mattered.
Jim Rembach: What you’re talking about here in all the words and descriptors and momentum and movement and inspiration all of that is just loaded with emotion that we had talked about before and it’s in your book. But one of the things that we’d like to do on the show in order to help with that emotion charge is look at quotes that people like. So is there a quote or two that you could share that you like?
Amy Radin: Yeah, one of my favorite quotes from the book, Comes Forwards The Ad and it said, big companies have funding scale, brand, infrastructure but they also have bureaucracy and don’t see near term value of innovation. Startups are hungry they bring speed, burning passion and agility that they may be furiously and passionately barking up the wrong tree. The point is startups don’t have a monopoly on innovation and big companies don’t have monopoly on bureaucracy. And I think that’s a major aha and conclusion and takeaway from the book is that–we all talk about the importance of diversity, but really a great way to get moving is can you form interesting collaborative relationships that bring together people with different perspectives, skill and experience? I get very irritated, I’ve been working startup, I say, uh, those big companies, they’re dinosaurs, they’re going away. And then you meet with corporate people and they say, oh, those startups they get away with murder. And I’m like, you know what? Listening is an underrated skill. If these folks in these different camps don’t see themselves as a different camps, but listen and realize they have a lot to learn from each other they will all advanced their objectives.
Jim Rembach: Oh, that’s such totally true. I think we all have our own circumstances and situations and we have to learn how to iterate and pivot and adapt within our own environment. And that’s one of the things that also we focused in on the show is times when people have gotten over the hump on something and what they’ve learned from that. Is there a story where gotten over the hump that you can share?
Amy Radin: Yeah. I talked a little while ago about this issue of resourcefulness, we never have enough resources. I think the big aha moment for me when I realized, wow, you really can break the orthodoxy of the corporate world, you can’t do anything with budget or a team. I met at an early stage founder named Drew and he was advancing a medical device that is basically the moral equivalent of an inflatable airbag that would open in that split second when an elderly person began to fall. The statistics on the number of deaths that occur every year because of elderly people falling and the cost to the health care sector are just–it’s fright. And so he, for a personal experience, became very passionate about this. So you know, you can imagine from medical device, the bar is unbelievably high on getting approval and so you had to sort of catch 22 situation where he couldn’t get even his early stage funding until he could prove that there was some chance of this working, but he couldn’t prove that there was a chance of this working without some resources.
So what he did was, he went down to a car junk yard on a Saturday morning with his son and comb through the cars and found an airbags that were reusable, not destroyed, not bloody or anything. He took them to his tailor with some bicycle inner tubes and for a couple of bucks sewed up a crude prototype to raise his first few hundred thousand dollars angel funding. And so that story I’m like, wow, I will never again complain or tolerate complaints from others about not having resources. It’s kind of like, where’s your junk yard? What can you do? And so that was a big one for me because having spent over 20 years in the corporate world, I was used to a way of doing things. And then I took myself out on the street and said, I really want to change my career. I want to use my expertise to help other people. And I could do that in a bigger way outside the corporate world. But it’s a little like, all of a sudden you’re like naked. Where’s all that structure? Where all those resources? Where’s that budget? Where’s my CFO? Kind of figure things out. So that’s a story I probably think of on a daily basis.
Jim Rembach: Amy, thank you for sharing that. And the Fast Leader legion wishes you the very best. Now, before we move on, let’s get a quick word from our sponsor:
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Alright, here we go Fast Leader legion it’s time for the Hump day Hoedown. Okay Amy, the Hump day Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insight fast. So I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us a robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Amy Radin are you ready to hoe down?
Amy Radin: I am ready.
Jim Rembach: Okay Amy. What is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Amy Radin: Fear.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Amy Radin: Try it. There’s nothing wrong with trying.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Amy Radin: Having a network that I give to and full of people who are willing to step up and help me.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?
Amy Radin: Intellectual curiosity. I’m a constant learner.
Jim Rembach: What would be one book that you’d recommend to our legion and it could be from any genre. Of course we’ll put a link to your book on the show notes page as well.
Amy Radin: I’m just finishing a great book by Yuval Noah Harari he’s a futurist philosopher called Sapiens about the history of humankind and on this whole topic of change and how did humans get to be sort of the dominant species, if you will, it’s a fascinating and quite accessible read on a complex amount of information. It’s on my bedside right now and quite enjoying it.
Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/amyraiden. Okay, Amy, this is my last Hump day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25. And you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you, but you can’t take everything back you can only choose one. So what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
Amy Radin: I think that what I would take back is the–how important it is to establish and invest in a diverse network of relationships. I happen to have a 25 year old child and I push her on that topic every day because in a world of constant change and unknowns, even if you thing you know everything today and you’ve mastered the skill or function that is going to drive you through your career it’s going to be different tomorrow or even tonight. And my key to staying relevant is constantly investing in relationships. So I tell myself it’s not what I know it’s that I know who to call.
Jim Rembach: Amy it was an honor to spend time with you today. Can you please share the Fast Leader legion, how they can connect with you?
Amy Radin: If you visit my website, which is www.amyradin.com, you can find some free resources on the website, a download or content from the book, a one page pdf infographic of the the Seed, Seek, Scale framework. And also you might want to take the Change Makers quiz and sign for my monthly e-newsletter. So I’d love it if you would do that.
Jim Rembach: Amy Radin, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. The Fast Leader legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot! Thank you for joining me on the fast leader show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe. If you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you onward and upward faster.
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