page title icon 137: Cort Dial: You’re not telling me the whole story

Cort Dial Show Notes Page

Cort Dial was working with the leaders on a capital project in Saudi Arabia. 3 years and 8 million man-hours where required to build this project. Cort asked the supervisors to go all in and sign up to build the project without harming anyone. After months of being told no, Cort had a break through and got over the hump.

Cort Dial is a native Texan, born and raised in Houston and living today in Austin, Texas with his wife Julie, their children and grandchildren.

Cort was the third of four boys whose parents were happily married until their deaths. Cort’s dad was a fire fighter and his mom was a homemaker. His family is Catholic, however, Cort attended public schools where he excelled in basketball and golf.

When Cort was 15, his family moved to a golfing community in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma where Cort spent his days playing golf, fishing and swimming with his brothers and friends. Cort met his wife of nearly 40 years in high school and they were married two weeks after he graduated from Oklahoma State University where he majored in engineering.

He immediately joined Monsanto Chemical Company where he rose through the ranks and ultimately retired while in the corporate staff after 14 years. Ever since, Cort has been the sole proprietor of Cort Dial Consulting, LLC.

Shaped by the firsthand life and death stakes of his early career as an engineer in eight different chemical plants, Cort developed a profound commitment to “the health, safety and wellbeing of the men and women who design, build, operate and maintain our world.” That commitment has guided Cort most of his adult life and is the source of his belief that “business results are best produced through people, not systems or equipment.”

The Dial clan owns and operates two businesses grounded in a simple principle, “You’ve reached the summit of leadership when you can create extraordinary results while caring for people.” Cort’s consulting practice specializes in what he calls “performance transformation” and his unique approach to leadership he calls “All-In™ Leadership”.

The family’s other business, Trent Reynolds Player Development, is led and managed by Cort’s son-in-law, Trent and his wife Katy, is a youth baseball development enterprise whose guiding mantra is “Baseball is for a season, character is for life.” Katy and Trent are the parents of Cort and Julie’s grandsons Max and Jake. Cort’s son, Charlie, is a rising professional golfer making the long journey to the professional tour.

Today, Cort spends his days in Austin writing and teaching others his methodology. He is the author the Amazon Top 10 business book, Heretics to Heroes: A Memoir on Modern Leadership; named “The Best Business Book of 2016” by Canada’s Globe and Mail.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @CortDial to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“What forms a leader is a circumstance, a coach, and an individual that wants to develop.” -Cort Dial Click to Tweet

“There has to be a big game that everyone’s excited about playing.” -Cort Dial Click to Tweet 

“In our society, if you can’t touch or feel it, it isn’t valued.” -Cort Dial Click to Tweet 

“The most important thing for business performance can’t be quantified.” -Cort Dial Click to Tweet 

“By nature, we don’t follow procedures or anything, unless there’s good reason.” -Cort Dial Click to Tweet 

“Give people a good reason to come to work every day, passionate about what’s going on.” -Cort Dial Click to Tweet 

“Let’s start working in the self and social fields.” -Cort Dial Click to Tweet 

“If you create five conditions within your organization, people will give you a good rating.” -Cort Dial Click to Tweet 

“It’s built in our DNA to be part of a group.” -Cort Dial Click to Tweet 

“Give people opportunities to grow and develop, but only in service of the mission and vision.” -Cort Dial Click to Tweet 

“No organization or individual can outperform their self-image.” -Cort Dial Click to Tweet 

“In our society, we tend to turn human beings into its. And in reality, they’re thou’s.” -Cort Dial Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Cort Dial was working with the leaders on a capital project in Saudi Arabia. 3 years and 8 million man-hours where required to build this project. Cort asked the supervisors to go all in and sign up to build the project without harming anyone. After months of being told no, Cort had a break through and got over the hump.

Advice for others

Treat others as sacred human beings, instead of its.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Trying to find others to help as clients.

Best Leadership Advice

Most things that are important for performance can’t be measured.

Secret to Success

Knowing what needed to be said or asked and being willing to ask it.

Best tools that helps in Business or Life

The ability to interpret circumstances that best serve the people I’m leading.

Recommended Reading

Heretics to Heroes: A Memoir on Modern Leadership

Inspirational Presence: The Art of Transformational Leadership

Contacting Cort Dial

Website: http://www.cortdial.com/fastleader

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cortdial/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CortDial

Resources and Show Mentions

Increase Employee Engagement and Workplace Culture

Empathy Mapping

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

137: Cort Dial: You’re not telling me the whole story

 

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.

 

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 improved customer loyalty and reduce your cost to operate. Get over your emotional hump now by going to empathymapping.com to learn more. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who likes to lay it on the line but does it with humility. Cort Dial is a native Texan born and raised in Houston and living in Austin, Texas with his wife Julie their grandchildren and children. Cort was a third of four boys whose parents were happily married until their deaths. Cort’s dad was a firefighter and his mom was a homemaker. His family is Catholic however Cort attended public schools where he excelled in basketball and golf. When Cort was 15 his family moved to a golfing community in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma where Cort spent his days playing golf, fishing, swimming with his brothers and friends. 

 

Cort met his wife of nearly 40 years in high school and they were married two weeks after he graduated from Oklahoma State University where he majored in engineering. He immediately joined Monsanto Chemical Company where he rose through the ranks and ultimately retired while in the corporate staff after 14 years. Ever since Cort has been the sole proprietor of Cort Dial consulting. Shaped by the firsthand life-and-death stakes of his early career as an engineer in eight different chemical plants, Cort developed a profound commitment to the health, safety and well-being of the men and women who design, build, operate and maintain our world. That commitment has guided Cort most of his adult life and is the source of his belief that business results are best produced through people not systems or equipment. 

 

The Dial clan owns and operates two businesses grounded in a simple principle, we’ve reached the summit of leadership when you can create extraordinary results while caring for people. Cort’s consulting practice specializes in what he calls performance transformation and his unique approach to leadership he calls all-in leadership. The family’s other business Trent Reynolds player development has led and managed by Cort’s son-in-law. Trent and his wife Katie is a youth baseball development enterprise whose guiding mantra is, “Baseball is for a season character is for life.” Katie and Trent are the parents of Cort and Julie’s grandsons Max and Jake. Cort’s son Charlie is a rising professional golfer making the long journey to the professional tour. Today Cort spends his days in Austin writing and teaching others his methodology. He is the author of the Amazon top ten business book—Heretics to Heroes-A Memoir of Modern Leadership named the best business book of 2016 by Canada’s Globe and Mail. Cort Dial are you ready to help us get over the hump? 

 

Cort Dial:  Yes I am Jim. 

 

Jim Rembach:   And I’m glad you’re here. Now, for everybody who isn’t aware we actually had a little bit of an issue with our first interviews so this is a redo and I want to thank Cort for coming back and actually helping us make sure that we had a good recording because the information that he actually provides both in his book and just in his in his teaching is very valuable to all of us and has a very unique perspective. So, Cort, I’ve given our listeners a little bit about you but can you share with us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better.

 

Cort Dial:  My passion is to help leaders capture the hearts and minds of their people and then focus that energy on whatever their business imperatives are. And right now I just completed a six year engagement with a large company and you know I’m excited about who’s around the next corner, who’s the next individual leader that I’m going to be coaching.

 

Jim Rembach:   I think you bring up a really interesting point when you mention and you talk about a six year journey. People oftentimes think that, hey just go to a training session or let’s just have a two-day or three-day workshop and everybody’s going to be better at communicating and connecting but that’s just not how it works, does it? 

 

Cort Dial:  No. What I believe forms of leader is a circumstance, a coach, and an individual who wants to grow and develop into extraordinary human being, extraordinary leader those three things together are what I look for. I bring the coaching I look for the circumstance and I look for the leader. In the case of this recent six years it was a gentleman who was in charge of deep water drilling, offshore in Gulf of Mexico and if you’re we’re what’s happened out there with the horizon disaster and then dropping oil prices he had a lot to do to change his organization make it profitable.

 

Jim Rembach:   There’s a whole lot of challenges when you start talking about that type of business and that type of industry and the different level of I guess you’d say people different types of organizations have everything from the day laborer or the laborer to very sophisticated and complex skill sets and jobs and education. So, when you start thinking about all of that how does an organization bring those multi different groups together?

 

Cort Dial:  Well there has to be a big game that everyone’s excited about playing and that’s one of the key jobs I believe that the leader is to articulate the vision if you will the big game were a lot to playing here. And in the case of this gentleman his big game was we got to be able to drill every well on budget on time the first time which has never been done in the industry in the Gulf of Mexico and that was a huge game for everyone. And like you say in his organization he has top one percentage from Stanford engineers and then he has people with probably an eighth grade education out on his rigs and everyone in between. Ultimately they were able to do that for months and saved him about close to million dollars and demonstrated the corporation, hey this is still a viable business. 

 

Jim Rembach:   When I started reading Heretics to Heroes and scanning over it– first of all it’s a really different and interesting approach that you’ve taken with writing that book because it’s more in the first person than it is talking about theory and ideas and maybe even practices and case studies about other companies but this was your life.

 

Cort Dial:  Yeah it’s essentially a nonfiction novel the way I look at it and that’s what I tried to do. I tried to have people follow my journey development and then once I reached the point where I was capable of coaching others what does it look like when I coach these others and I wanted to put people in the room when outstanding, coaching an extraordinary leadership was going on have and see and feel and hear what it looks like. And the feedback I’ve gotten on the book is—and even the gentleman who selected as a best book of the year is they love it because it touches them so much and affects him emotionally and inspires him so much.

 

Jim Rembach:   Definitely. For me oftentimes we think about in certain industries certain job types and the people who oftentimes you know fill those particular roles and when you start thinking about engineers, accountants, lawyers a lot of times they aren’t perceived as being touchy-feely people oriented type of folks and so their leadership comes across as very structured and very distant but you actually kind of changed that type of a characteristic or even a stereotype within these organizations and that’s what’s made the difference.

 

Cort Dial:  Yes. Well in our society in general if you can’t touch and feel it isn’t valued. What is the mantra in most businesses? If you can’t measure, you can’t manage it. And one of the first lessons I learned as a young man I was fortunate to work for the gentleman named Dr. Edwards Steming who was pretty famous in the 80’s and he said to me once, Cort the things that are most important for business performance can’t be quantified. And that started me thinking about what does he mean by that? So, that’s what’s missing in most organizations. They have great systems and programs and processes and they know all the behaviors that need to be exhibited in order to perform well it’s just getting people to do it is a challenge. By nature we don’t follow procedures we don’t follow anything unless there’s a good reason for doing it that’s the leaders job. Whoever’s at the top of any organization one of your main functions is to give people a good reason to come to work every day, passionate about what’s going on and ready to behave in the ways that we need to behave to perform.

 

Jim Rembach:   One of the stories that you talked about or situations, experiences I guess I should say, in the book is you introduce something that I just never heard before and correct me if I’m not pronouncing a correct but that was it Inshallah 

 

Cort Dial:  Mmm-hmm, Inshallah.

 

Jim Rembach:   Inshallah. Tell us about where that came about for you?

 

Cort Dial:  Well one of the things a leader was putting in front of a major capital project over in Saudi Arabia was that we’re going to build this thing we’re getting ready to build. Work three years, millions of man-hours and we’re not going to harm a single person and that anyone who’s done that type of work knows that’s impossible but that’s why it was such a big game. And I was working with the supervision of the initial supervisors, initial supervisors on that project because it’s always important to get the core there before anyone else shows up. And their answer to my question, my invitation was, can you sign up to build this thing without harming anyone was no for months. And they kept throwing this thing called Inshallah in my face which is a concept over there which essentially the way they put it was it’s in God’s hands we don’t have any control over whether anybody gets hurt. Ultimately I found that that wasn’t actually what Inshallah meant means is with my hard work and God willing it will happen, that’s me paraphrasing it and that’s what I was taught. I went to one of the mosques in Bahrain and met with a teacher there and he helped me understand it. When I went back and confronted these guys and said, hey you’re not telling me the whole story ultimately they committed to it and what they came to realize was it wasn’t that we need a new programs or systems we needed to start treating these men, and I say men because in Saudi there were no women, we need to start treating these men’s as we would any loved one look after them the way we would our own sons and think like that. Ultimately they worked million man-hours and didn’t have a single person leave the project for any medical attention which is impossible but they did it. And when you ask them why they did it? How did they do it? They’ll tell you because I was a father. I became a father I was much more than a supervisor I was a father.

 

Jim Rembach:   When you start thinking about the different generations that are in the workplace thinking also about how these generations have been brought up even going back to the whole, I have a day laborer it’s a sixth eighth grade education all the way up to the Stanford, Doctor and Engineering you have a situation where connecting to those people at that deeper level is not an easy task and so I know you talk about the big game but you also mentioned something about the five conditions of performance, how does all of that come into play so that that collaboration and that connection at a significantly deeper level than just, hey here’s my title and here’s my job responsibilities take place. 

 

Cort Dial:  A lot of times leaders will ask me, okay how do I capture the hearts and minds of people? And because what we really want them to do is stop working and when I call the systems and behavior fields not stop but don’t put any more investment in there you put enough in there let’s start working in what I call the self and social fields and that’s what’s going on inside of people in between people the social constructs in an organization. And so I I’ve developed years ago this sort of quick fixers, quick start up approach and basically you will create five conditions in the organization people will give you well beyond what if they normally give you to get a good rating and keep the boss happy. And those five things are a big game to play their commitment and confidence that we’re going to win this game especially confidence and commitment that the leader has. A sense of belonging, it’s built in our DNA to want to be part of a group and belong to a group throughout all our evolution if we were excluded from the group or excluded from the leader it meant death and so psychologically we are very hungry for belonging. People are looking for opportunity to grow and develop especially these newer generations coming in but what’s important is to give people those opportunities but only if they’re in service to the mission and the vision. And then to work on people’s positive—give them a positive self-image no organization or individual can outperform their self-image. 

 

So for example, what I was working on with those men over there was changing who they were being. Who they were being were like you said early accountants they were they were using the predictive mechanical part of their brain to say I know this is impossible I had all my experiences we can’t do this without hurting people, people die when you build things like this. And have them access another part of the brain we have which is the part that loves and cares and has concerned and can see the impossible and can say I don’t care if it’s impossible my son is not going to get hurt. I was trying to pull that out of them and has since have them shift on who they were being from being like mechanical predictors to human beings. You said it’s tough to access these things it’s actually very easy and simple if you just become a human being and stop being a manager stop being a supervisor and start looking across at this other human being and interact with them as if you’re interacting with something sacred a sacred being. And in our society we tend to turn human beings into it’s and in reality they’re thou’s and if you have thou relationship to all the different human beings you come in contact with you’ll have a profound effect on their hearts and minds.

 

Jim Rembach:   You bring up a really interesting point, thanks for sharing that. There’s things that kind of hit me and one of the things that you bet I think about, and I kind of ran into this the other day just at the grocery store, some people you just can’t make that connection with and they just refuse to give it back even though if you keep giving it and giving it you’re just not going to get it in return. So, when I start thinking about an organization and I have multiple thou’s throughout the organization is that there’s some who are just going to—I absolutely refuse to participate and engage with that. What do then especially if they’re in a key role?

 

Cort Dial:  Well, if they’re in a key role you either need to move them into a more of a single contributor role definitely get them out of a leadership role or in most cases they will remove themselves. People don’t like to work in an organization where everyone’s going this direction and excited about it I’m one of the few that isn’t. The other thing I share with leaders is don’t expect everybody to sign up immediately. When you work with people in the way that we were talking about here you’re basically creating a psychological container with your vision and with your leadership that you’re putting people in. It’s like popping popcorn, you put the kernels in there those are the people your vision the future you’re inviting them to become part of is the actual popper and you’re the source of heat as a leader and if you do this well some of the kernels are going to pop. But there isn’t any popcorn popper, there’s some kernels of pop early some will take later and some that never pop, so, they expect everyone to pop that’s not going to happen. There’s certain strategies for treating all those different groups as they slowly start to sign up and get enrolled in what you’re inviting them to sign up for.

 

Jim Rembach:  I think that’s a great analogy. For I started visualizing all that and it totally makes sense in it. That is kind of the way it happens, I mean it’s simplistic in it’s vision but I mean that is what occurs. 

 

Cort Dial:  The people that resist to change like this are very useful because they’ll point out everything you need to overcome all the challenges all the reasons why it can’t happen and that’s essentially what you’re going deal with. Ultimately you want them and you want to guide them through these different stages ultimately into exploring your invitation and then you can’t force anyone to say yes so there is no choice so as a leader you have to be perfectly okay with anyone saying no thank you. However as you said earlier if some of them are in critical positions if they can’t find a way to say yes then they need to be moved or reassigned or whatever.

 

Jim Rembach:   So without a doubt when we’re starting to talk about all of this especially the length of the journey that’s necessary and the effort and the activity that needs to go involved there’s a whole lot of an emotion we need in order to be able to pull this off. One of the ways that we look for that on the show is through quotes and your book is just loaded with quotes for sure but is there one or two that kind of stands out to you that you can share?

 

Cort Dial:  I guess the one that I always go back to is that, you can’t quantify, Dr. Deming. What he basically said was, young man as you mature you’re going to come to realize that the things that are most important for safety, quality, productivity in any business result or human endeavor cannot be quantified. And that hit me like a ton of bricks and it caused me to begin a journey that I’ve been on ever since which is what are all these things that you can’t count you can’t see they don’t exist in time and space but I have a profound effect on our performance? 

 

Jim Rembach:  That is so deep and so profound in so many different ways. I think I kind of like what you’ve really alluded to with it as well is that it’s a lifelong journey in order to figure all that out and being mindful. I guess that’s where it starts and like you even said a moment ago is that it’s the whole self-peace all those things that start with me. 

 

Cort Dial:  Especially in a world that most people see this stuff as I’ve had it people call it psychobabble. We’ve all grown up in this world where if it doesn’t exist in time and space it isn’t real that’s it through the education system and through all the business. It’s funny though if you go back a few hundred years just the opposite was true where the mystical the spiritual was all that mattered and everything science was evil. So all I’m all I’m trying to do is, hey let’s bring this other half back into its rightful place. I’m not saying the mechanical and the system’s behaviors aren’t important, absolutely critical. As my dad used to say this an old Texas saying, you’re half-ass which ever cheek you’re missing. I’m not suggesting we stop doing the things we’re doing but we have to start learning how to access this other half of the equation and those who do leave other people in the dusk perform at a level no one ever thought was possible.

 

Jim Rembach:   That’s a great point. I know with the things that you’re doing with your work the book trying to develop—mentor others and really make us all in something that more people can actually participate in but—grandkids got a lot of things going on, what’s one of your goals?

 

Cort Dial:  One of my goals is to write a second book which is about the—how to do what I do. I’ve created this thing I’m calling a summit which has captured the entire process and all the materials involved. I’m now hosting these small very groups to come spend a week and meet with me in Austin and learn how to do what I do. People who would attend that are like people that are leading a major change in an organization or coaches those type of folks. And then the second big thing as I said I’m working on is writing a second book because a lot of people have loved the book and said, now how do I do what I’ve read about in that book? 

 

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.

 

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

 

Cort Dial:  I am ready. 

 

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

 

Cort Dial:  I’ve sort of been spoiled because I’ve never had to look for clients and now I’m trying to figure out how do you reach this broader audience and give away in a sense give to others all that I’ve created over the years. 

 

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

 

Cort Dial:  We already talked about it. Most things that performance can’t be measured.

 

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

 

Cort Dial:  Because I had this knack of knowing what needed to be said it was dying to be said or asked at the moment and I was willing to ask it. 

 

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

 

Cort Dial:  The ability to interpret circumstances in the way that best serve me best serve the people I’m leading.

 

Jim Rembach:   What would be one book you’d recommend to our listeners, it could be from any genre, of course we’re going to put a link to, Heretics to Heroes on your show notes page as well.

 

Cort Dial:  Inspirational Presence is by a gentleman named Jeff Evans.

 

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/cortdial. Okay, Cort, is my last Hump 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 skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why? 

 

Cort Dial:  Storytelling. Because it affects people emotionally captures their hearts and minds.

 

Jim Rembach:   Cort 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? 

 

Cort Dial:  Yes. I’ve actually created a landing page on my website, it’s cortdial.com/fastleader and that will tell them everything about me. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Cort Dial 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 thefastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.

 

END OF AUDIO