122: Claire Brooks: I wasn’t culturally understanding

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122: Claire Brooks: I wasn’t culturally understanding

Claire Brooks Show Notes

Claire Brooks moved to Detroit, Michigan and found a senior role with an advertising agency. During her first meeting, she met with the brand manager for an American car brand and she began to mixing up the names of car parts. After a moment, the brand manager asked ask what was she talking about. Claire, felt she failed with her attempt to impress. Listen how she turned this moment into a global empathy opportunity.

Claire Brooks was born in West Africa to English parents and lived in West Africa and India until she was 8 years old. She was educated in England at Cambridge University, studying ancient Greek and Latin and Social Sciences! She started my career in Europe, coming to the US in 1997.

All her life Calire’s been what’s called a ‘Third Culture Kid’ (TCK), a child whose formative years were spent outside her parents’ culture. Her early childhood was spent changing schools every 2 years and having to make new friends; and taking long-haul flights back and forth to see family.

To this day it’s tough for her to answer the question “where are you from?” However, when she moved to the US, she turned her early experiences into a business. TCKs are known for being culturally attuned and this, together with her Masters in Social Sciences, enables her to earn her living as a culture consultant.

Claire works with Fortune 500 brands around the world, helping them to understand the culture and emotions of their consumers and shoppers and develop winning strategies!

Despite her global perspectives, Claire believes that the only real legacy we leave is our children (in her case her son James) and in a life lived productively and humbly in the service of others. It’s not about me, could be her mantra.

Claire is driven by curiosity and self-knowledge. She believes the ancient Greeks counseled us well to “know thyself” before attempting to know anything else. She’s built a global consulting business on the premise of helping others to explore and know their non-conscious emotions, motivations and cultural beliefs as they relate to their behavior as consumers.

Claire is currently the president of ModelPeople Inc., a global brand insights and consulting company. She is also the author of Marketing with Strategic Empathy – Inspiring strategy with deeper consumer insight.

Claire currently resides in Chicago and Manchester, England.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @modelperson and get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“Everything you do strategically needs to start with real empathy with your customers.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet

“Strategic empathy is equally applicable to non-profit organizations.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet

“We all have our own mental frameworks. Organizations are the same.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet

“Successful organizations have a very powerful internal culture.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“Looking at customers as people is a different framework for a lot of organizations.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“You have to empathize with somebody as a customer before you can serve them well.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“Companies have more data than ever about their customers.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“If you can relate data to observation then you get a complete picture.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“You have to develop empathy within managers and employees.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“If you’re just looking at customers as paying the bills, it’s not going to work.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“Entrepreneurs build their businesses by really knowing what’s going on with customers.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“Customer empathy has to be the foundation for everything you do.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“At the end of the day never forget that you’re serving real people.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“Empathy isn’t strategic unless you take action.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“The biggest learning situations are mistakes.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“If you don’t have a passion for what you do, getting up in the morning becomes very hard.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“You have to think about society as well as your family and business.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“Focus on where you can add value and bring your skills.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“I don’t think business is glamorous, but it can be a lot of fun.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“You don’t have to be front and center to be a leader.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“Let other people do what they’re good at and help them win.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“Don’t go in seeking to win; look for the other side to win as well.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

“Be curious and don’t be afraid to explore.” -Claire Brooks Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Claire Brooks moved to Detroit, Michigan and found a senior role with an advertising agency. During her first meeting, she met with the brand manager for an American car brand and she began to mixing up the names of car parts. After a moment, the brand manager asked ask what was she talking about. Claire, felt she failed with her attempt to impress. Listen how she turned this moment into a global empathy opportunity.

Advice for others

Everything you do strategically must be based in empathy.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

It’s time, you can’t do everything. You have to focus.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Leap over the hurdle and engage.

Secret to Success

Hard work and attention to detail.

Best tools that helps in Business or Life

Lack of ego.

Recommended Reading

Marketing with Strategic Empathy: Inspiring Strategy with Deeper Consumer Insight
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

Contacting Claire

Website: http://www.modelpeopleinc.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/claire-brooks-6367533/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/modelperson

Resources and Show Mentions

Empathy Mapping: Unlock greater empathy in the customer experience.

54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.

Show Transcript: 

Click to access edited transcript

122: Claire Brooks: I wasn’t culturally understanding

 

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.

 

Need a powerful and entertaining way to ignite your next conference, retreat or team-building session? My keynote don’t include magic but they do have the power to help your attendees take a leap forward by putting emotional intelligence into their employee engagement, customer engagement and customer centric leadership practices. So bring the infotainment creativity the Fast Leader show to your next event and I’ll help your attendees get over the hump now. Go to beyondmorale.com/speaking to learn more.

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, Fast Leader Legion, today I’m excited because we’re going to talk about something that’s critically important to not just profit organizations but also non-profit organizations, all organizations that are trying to really connect with customers. Clare Brooks was born in West Africa to English parents and lived in West Africa and India until she was 8 years old.  She was educated in England at Cambridge University studying ancient Greek and Latin and Social Sciences. She started her career in Europe coming to the U.S. in 1997. All her life, Clare has been what’s called a Third Culture Kid, a child whose formative years were spent outside her parent’s culture. Her early childhood was spent changing schools every two years and having to make new friends and taking long-haul flights back and forth to see family. To this day it’s tough for her to answer the question where are you from? However when she moved to the US she turned her early experiences into a business. Third Culture Kids are known for being culturally attuned and this together with her master’s in social sciences enables her to earn a living as a culture consultant.

 

Clare works with Fortune 500 brands around the world helping them to understand the culture and emotions of their consumers and shoppers and developing winning strategies. Despite her global perspectives, Clare believes that the only real legacy she will leave is her children and a life lived productively and humbly in the service of others, It’s not about me could be her mantra. Clare is driven by curiosity and self-knowledge she believes the ancient Greeks counseled us well to know thyself before attempting to know anything else. She’s built global consulting business on the premise of helping others to explore and know their non-conscious emotions, motivations and cultural beliefs as they relate to their behavior as consumers. 

 

Claire is currently the President of Model People Inc., a global brand, insights, and consulting company. She is also the author of marketing with strategic empathy inspiring strategy with deeper consumer insight. Claire currently resides in Chicago and Manchester, England. Claire Brooks are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Claire Brooks:  Sure. Good to see you.

 

Jim Rembach:    I’m glad to have you here. Now I’ve given our listeners a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better. 

 

Claire Brooks:  Well I think you covered it pretty well Jim. My current passion is really helping Fortune 500 marketing companies to understand their consumers and customers. And it’s not just the old kind of chestnut you should understand your customers it’s about a deeper level of understanding and it’s what I call empathy. So, the book is called strategic empathy because everything that you do strategically as an organization needs to start with real empathy with your customers as real people. How they think, how they feel, how they behave and how they relate to the products and services that your organization it’s trying to sell them. So, that’s the passion and it’s not just about profit organizations either this strategic empathy idea is equally applicable to nonprofits. And so I’ve recently found an additional passion doing pro bono work for organizations like the World Federation for mental health helping them to understand it’s very talented people that work in the mental health field but work from a clinical point of view or from a donor point of view or from a volunteer point of view and understanding the experience of mental health and how to connect that is very important to me at the moment.

 

Jim Rembach:   You and I mean had the opportunity to chat a little bit off mic about this particular issue about becoming really a or connectible, relatable and desired type of organization regardless of where it comes from. And it seems simple, I mean, people are people, how can this be that hard? However as I going through the book there’s one thing to me that popped up in the work that I do with organizations. And of course you confirmed and affirmed what I was talking about. But it’s really this issue around framing and that organizations well people I mean when we’re in an organization it’s really difficult for us to relate outside of our own four walls. So, how does an organization really go about preventing themselves from being handcuffed by their problems?

 

Claire Brooks:  I really liked the way that you put that Jim, this idea of framing because we all have our own mental frameworks we all have the culture we grew up in the beliefs we grew up with and that frames the way that we see the world and the way that we relate to others and understand others organizations are just the same. Successful organizations have a very powerful internal culture. And so people learn how to think they learn what a mental framework will get them promoted. And companies have silos as well, they have divisions between different functions within the company. So sometimes the marketing people don’t talk to the product people or the engineers don’t talk to the designers or they’re talking but they’re talking in a way that is within that mental framework of the organization. So, what I try to do is to break down silos and get multi- functional teams to go on what I call a strategic learning journey so really connect with their customers or consumers in the field physically and observe them using the company’s products. Talk to them as real people, understand their lives where they come from what their cultural beliefs are and when this happens that tends to be an “aha” moment. I was thinking about that from our point of view but that really made me think I need to do things differently, I need to design a product differently, I need to speak to my customers in a different way. And it’s only really through that looking at customers and consumers as people not as numbers in an XLS or a balance sheet or whatever, looking at customers as people and that’s a different framework for a lot of organizations, believe it or not.

 

Jim Rembach:   You mentioned something about observing customers in their own environment, the ethnographic type of study work. When you start looking the types of clients that you work with and the work that you’re doing, how much of it does involve actually going through and doing those ethnographic studies?

 

Claire Brooks:  That’s where, if you like the rubber hits the road actually going out and doing these ethnographic studies, and a lot of organizations do that. But some of the companies that help them to do ethnographic research don’t always help them to break outside of these silos and so they’re still looking at people as objects that’s the where the idea of empathy comes and I know you do a lot of work with emotional intelligence, Jim you’re telling me that, and I think it’s that idea that you have to empathize with somebody as a customer or a consumer before you can really serve them well. So, you can’t look at them as a subject of research you really have to get down and have the conversations with people one on one.

 

Jim Rembach:   Now ethnographic research isn’t the only way that you do with this data. Companies are more data than ever about their customers and if you relate data to observation then you get a complete picture. Ethnographic research won’t tell you everything you need to know because it’s small-scale, you need the big scale data approach. But you can’t look at data alone you have to relate the two and you have to develop this emotional intelligence this empathy within managers, within an employee’s, within an organization. Because if you’re just looking at customers as people who pay the bills and bring in the revenue and then it’s not going to work there isn’t going to be a dedication to really serving your customers. 

 

Claire Brooks:  I think it’s important that you bring that up, and thanks for sharing, because when you start thinking even about ethnographic studies you have a bias that occurs because of the observation in itself. In other words people don’t necessarily behave when you’re actually watching them in the same way they would if you were not.

 

Jim Rembach:   And that’s true, and bias is a big issue in ethnographic research. You obviously read the book, Jim, which is good, but we can do a lot to minimize that. But you know, ethnographic research isn’t the only way to observe. If you think about entrepreneurs and the way that they build their businesses they usually do it by really knowing what’s going on and with their customers. So, they get out there they talk to them they observe them and they have a very visceral empathetic feel for their customers. When organizations get big replicating that entrepreneurial understanding is very difficult, and that’s the work that we try to do by taking cross-functional teams on these learning journeys. We try to replicate that entrepreneurial gut feel for a customer. 

 

Claire Brooks:  Yeah, I think that’s a really interesting point. Because typically when we get to be a larger organization as everybody focused in on their niche and their particular technical expertise and they’re doing that heads down with such a fervor and doing an excellent job at it that they don’t stop and do that mindfulness reflection and do that existential type of work to be able to say, “Okay, how is what that I’m doing right here right now really impacting and making effect on the customer and where can I fill in gaps and –and thinking about them like you said, as people not objects, that is really hard for them to do. And a lot of times on the show we look at quotes to help us give us the right direction. Is there a quote or two that you can share that helps do that for you?

 

Jim Rembach:   Well, the quote that we’ve been talking about is really, customer empathy has to be the foundation for everything you do. By all means do the market research, do the desk research, get the data, prove out the size of the market, at the end of the day never forget that you are serving real people and you have to have not only a knowledge, a functional data-driven knowledge of those people and how they behave, but you have to have a real raw observed understanding empathy with how those people behave, how those people feel about your products use your products and feel about you as a company, and the best CEO’s do that.

 

Claire Brooks:  I very often have a group of CEO’s by senior executives on my learning journeys, they might not be able to come for the whole week that we’re doing this work but they’ll come for a day. One example of that is a customer that had a product recall and they really wanted to understand, the very senior executives, not only what was going on with the recall whether it had affected the brand, whether if it’s a huge brands, a global brand, whether American consumers were turning against the brand as a result of this recall. And so we were able to stage a day where we talked empathetically with a number of products users and those in real our harsh that came out of that. The brand was okay but there were things that the CEO and the senior executives needed to do to make sure that customers were better communicated with. So, there was a level of understanding that was generated that helped them actually feel better from the C-Suite they were looking at a bit of a disaster it helped them feel better it helped them communicate with the organization it’s not as bad as we thought. But here’s what we need to do to make sure that customers know and that we’re on this and we’re dealing with this and we heard you, we listen to you. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Now you mentioned something about working with cross-functional teams and so for me, I find that working with different groups has a very different set of dynamics along with it. When you start thinking about all of those different cross-functional groups, how can you get them to come together faster? 

 

Claire Brooks:  Well through the research and through the learning journey. What we’ll do is we’ll mix up the teams. We’ll put a product person with a marketing person, a technical person with a non-technical person we’ll make them listen to the same consumer conversations and so they hear the same things. When we bring them back into the room and we always do this, by the way it’s what we call an activation phase we don’t just let them listen to consumers and go off that wouldn’t have any teeth at all, the strategic empathy part is about action empathy is not strategic unless you take action. 

 

So, we bring people back together after and we’ve done these consumer conversations and we have them distill what they’ve heard and we have them play it back and very often they haven’t heard it properly. We have to maybe play them some video or correct assumptions correct or correct what they’ve heard. Then we have them work with what they’ve heard. What does this mean for me in my function, in my silo? And then cross-functional teams, what are we going to do about this? How are we going to design things differently and communicate things differently? So this can be very fast to answer your question about speed. We can get these conversations up and running in a week have the activation session immediately afterwards. Within a couple of weeks you might have a radical turnaround in the way that functions within an organization relate to one another, understand the customer and I have decided to work together to do something about this, so activation is the key. 

 

Jim Rembach:   I think your starting point is important for all of us to make sure that we’re very intentional about and what you had talked about was mixing up the groups. And for those that are familiar with appreciative inquiry and positive psychology what that is—it’s talking about unlikely pairs, your matching unlikely folks with one another so that they actually gain different perspectives. That is like a critical foundational point when you start talking about working with cross-functional teams and trying to get them to bond and understand one another better that is a key point cornerstone.

 

Claire Brooks:  It kind of build on that, Jim, because I’m glad you brought up appreciative inquiry. That often involves bringing in people from outside the organization. Sometimes, we’re involved in getting speakers to talk from a very different perspective maybe a fashion person to talk to a car company, maybe a doctor to talk to people designing the seats and often consumers come in too we’ve actually involved customers in the debate. We’ve had executives in a retail fashion store talk to their customers one-on-one about products that they’ve bought and why did you buy that? What experience did you have? And so the appreciative inquiry approach is very powerful. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Very much so. I know when we’re starting to talk about a lot of these dynamics of dealing with all these different peoples and everybody has their own humps that they’ve had to get over and that really has to also be part of our understanding of learning about folks and how they interact with us. But we have humps that we have to get over, do you have a time where you’ve had to get over to hump and it made a difference for you and you can share that story?

 

Claire Brooks:  Mine’s a good one. I came to the US 1997. I actually followed my husband to Detroit. He is an engineer and got a job in Detroit and eventually I followed him. And it was a challenge for me, it was a cultural challenge for me because English people tend to think 

America’s like England, we talk the same language but it really isn’t. So, I got a fantastic job working in an ad agency in senior role, a billion dollar advertising budget, top car brand a very American car brand as well. And at one of my very first meetings I was dealing with a very experienced, very no-nonsense brand manager very senior guy, and I got very flustered. I was hot off the plane I started mixing up my car parts so I started saying—in England we talk about bonnets not hoods and we talked about trunks not boots. And the client put up with me for a couple of minutes and then he leaned over to his second-in-command and said what is she talking about? I could have died. This is my chance to impress this guy and then I could have died. But I picked myself up and I decided that, okay, I wasn’t culturally understanding what was going on, we were dealing with trucks as well that was the other thing trucks don’t really exist in England, so I had to go out I had to learn about trucks I had to learn about truck culture. And it really brought me up short. Okay, I’m a third culture kid I need to be able to get into truck culture now. And out of this really came my passion for understanding culture and  in a commercial sense, a product culture, truck culture, but also helping other people understand that because it’s no good if I just understand that that’s just academically interesting I had to lead teams of clients and create it within the agency to help them understand so that they could empathize so that they could create advertising that really spoke to customers and really understand the culture that they were dealing with. I proved myself ultimately as a translator of truck culture but that was a real learning for me. 

 

Jim Rembach:   I think it was important how you rebounded from that right?

 

Claire Brooks:  Yes. I felt like getting back on the plane at that time. It was awful. But, yes, you have to rebound. The biggest things learning situations are mistakes and that’s true for clients as well we design that wrong, we did that wrong. Okay, we better deal with that and that’s true as an individual, if to get over the hump.

 

Jim Rembach:   Definitely. And I think part of what you’re talking about too is that—somebody was talking the other day that I was having a conversation about reputation in that when you think consistently and that you’re always trying to build a reputation that is of high caliber that when you do fall, and you will, it’s a lot easier for you to dust yourself off and rebound from that. So, you have to think long term, in the moment short term you fell, oh well give yourself a chance to get up. 

 

You and I talked a little bit and you talked about the work that you’re doing now having a split—living, trading across the pond as far as, you’re in Chicago right now as we’re talking and it’s wintertime you think you may escape the extreme cold and go the UK but you didn’t do that so we’re glad you’re here, but it you have a lot of things going on. What is one of your goals?

 

Claire Brooks:  I love what I do and I also think that’s really important. Because if you don’t have a passion for what you do getting up every morning and spending ten hours a day at it and becomes very hard, so my passion is to continue to do this.  We’re bringing on new clients all of the time. I was talking to a couple of new clients yesterday who have stuff that they want us to do for them. So, for me having done this for, what 15 years now, it becomes very interesting because you start to make the connections. 

 

We’re not specializing in any particular industry. We work in food, beverage, fashion and automotive, and that’s good because that’s how customers are they don’t just buy your product. I can also help my clients make connections between categories, the kind of person who drives your car also shops at these stores also eats this way likes these food brands and so that becomes more and more interesting as time goes on. And then I mentioned the non-profit work, so that’s really a goal to take some of what I’ve learned and give back because you have to do that you have to think about your society as well as your family and your business. And I most entrepreneurs do that, I think you get to the stage where you realize that you can make a difference elsewhere and that’s increasingly important to me.

 

Jim Rembach:   And the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor:

 

The number one thing that contributes to customer loyalty is emotions. So, move onward and upward faster by gaining significantly deeper insight and understanding of your customer journey and personas with emotional intelligence. With your empathy mapping workshop you’ll learn how to evoke and influence the right customer emotions that generate improve customer loyalty and reduce your cost to operate. Get over your emotional hump now by going to empathymapping.com to learn more. 

 

Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion, it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Claire, the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Claire Brooks, are you ready to hoedown?

 

Claire Brooks:  I am. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today? 

 

Claire Brooks:  It’s time, Jim. You can’t do everything and the more you do the more you want to do, so focus. You really have to focus on where you can add value, bring your skills, whether it’s to clients or to society.

 

Jim Rembach:   What do you think is the best leadership advice you have ever received?

 

Claire Brooks:  I was 22, first job with an American company. I was sitting there trying to figure it out and my manager said, “Don’t, leap over the hurdle, jump in, so engage come up with an idea run with it and you will figure it out as you go along.”

 

Jim Rembach:   What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

 

Claire Brooks:  Hard work, attention to detail. I don’t think business is glamorous but it can be a lot of fun it’s worth it, the works worth it.

 

Jim Rembach:   What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?

 

Claire Brooks:  I think a lack of ego, and I hope that everybody that knows me would agree with that. You don’t have to be front and center to be a leader, let other people do what they’re good at. Help them win. Help them own what they’ve done and to be proud of it because that’s when they’ll really learn and implement what they’ve learned. 

 

Jim Rembach:   What would be one book, and it could be from any genre that you recommend to our legion, of course we’ll put a link to your book on the show notes page as well. 

 

Claire Brooks:  I did an MBA and when I was an MBA student we were recommended to read a very slim volume it’s called, Getting to Yes by Fisher and Ury, and you may know it. But it really advocates win-win situations, don’t go in seeking to win look for the other side to win as well. And I’ve applied this really widely from dealing with my son when he was a toddler to negotiating very big contracts. Again put your ego aside look for win-win situations.  

 

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/Claire Brooks. Okay, Claire, this is my last day hoedown question. Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you’ve been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you. But you can’t take everything back you can only choose one. What piece of knowledge or skill would you take back with you and why?

 

Claire Brooks:  Be curious. Don’t be afraid to explore and learn and don’t give up for the first hurdle. When I started my business I was asked if I could do things, I was asked if I could work in Japan or in India I didn’t have a clue how to do it but I went found out I went and found partners who could help me with that.  Never say no. My very first job I was told and I’d be judged on knowledge, skills and attitude. I could learn the first two, I couldn’t learn attitude that was internal so, go for it, you will succeed.

 

Jim Rembach:   Claire, it was an honor to spend time with you today. Can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you?

 

Yes they can Google me, Claire Brooks Model People and that will take you to the website, www.modelpeopleinc.com and there you’ll see contact details for me and you’ll be able to see some video on there of me talking about the book. That will tell you a bit more about what we do.

 

Claire Brooks, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. 

 

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 move onward and upward faster. 

 

END OF AUDIO 

 

2019-12-08T06:55:03-05:00May 24th, 2017|Podcasts|0 Comments

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