037: Desirree Madison-Biggs: The fight wasn’t worth it anymore

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037: Desirree Madison-Biggs: The fight wasn’t worth it anymore

Desirree Madison-Biggs Show Notes

Desirree Madison-Biggs had to make some serious decisions around how she was going to react after a program she worked on for 10 years was cancelled. While she had no control of the cancellation she did have control over how she would react and support her team through the transition. Listen to Desirree’s emotional story and how she fought and what finally happened for her to get over the hump.

Desirree is a fifth generation Californian and Bay Area native, with roots that go back to the mid-1800s when her mother’s Portuguese family settled in Half Moon Bay as ranchers.

It was in high school that she had her first experiences in leadership through student government and sports.  She began to learn that if you build strong relationships, have a vision of what ‘could be,’ care about what you do and for those you do it with, plus have a sense of humor, you have a majority of what you need to lead.

Since her graduation from college, she has allowed her passions to provide the primary direction for her career.  She began as a group home counselor for delinquent boys, then moved to the business world for both start-ups and Fortune 100 companies, working in Human Resources, Sales and Account Management, and finally finding her true calling in Customer Experience where she has worked for the past fifteen years.

She currently leads the NPS and VoC programs for Airbnb in San Francisco.  When she is not working, she spends time her time with her family and serving on the board of a non-profit organization for kids with disabilities and the Customer Experience Professional’s Association.  For fun she enjoys archery, boogie boards, travels, cooks for friends and reads anything she can get her hands on.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen and Desirree will help you get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow –Click to Tweet

“The things I love to do at work, coaching…are things I love to do with my daughter.” -Desirree Click to Tweet

“I never totally understood how people can leave their work at the office.” -Desirree Click to Tweet 

“I can bring the best of myself from work at home.” -Desirree Click to Tweet 

“My home life supplies me with what I need to be the best that I can be at work.” -Desirree Click to Tweet 

“We’re here on this planet for a purpose and we have to define that for ourselves.” -Desirree Click to Tweet 

“Being a person was really more important than towing the company line.” -Desirree Click to Tweet 

“By being yourself you contribute so much more to the whole.” -Desirree Click to Tweet 

“Having the courage to be as authentic as you can possibly be is crucial.” -Desirree Click to Tweet 

“It is okay not to have a linear progression in your life all planned out.” -Desirree Click to Tweet 

“If you follow your heart, life will carry you on an adventure you really can’t image.” -Desirree Click to Tweet 

“If you can’t see that end destination, it’s okay, it’s going to all be fine.” -Desirree Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Desirree Madison-Biggs had to make some serious decisions around how she was going to react after a program she worked on for 10 years was cancelled. While she had no control of the cancellation she did have control over how she would react and support her team through the transition. Listen to Desirree’s emotional story and how she fought and what finally happened for her to get over the hump.

Advice for others

Have the courage to be as authentic as you can be.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Having enough courage to embrace what I don’t know.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Secret to Success

Really caring about the people I work with; listening and collaborating, rather than trying to rule over and make things happen.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

The types of books that I read and the amount of different types of books that I read. It helps me to think differently.

Recommended Reading

The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization

Contacting Desirree

Email: desirree [at] gmail.com

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

Resources

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

037: Desirree Madison-Biggs: The fight wasn’t worth it anymore

 

Intro: Welcome to the Fast leader podcast where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead ad 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.

Jim Rembach:    

 

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Okay Fast leader Legion, today were going to have a great time with somebody who I just think is one of those great people in the world, she just makes you feel warm, she just makes you feel like you’re part of the family. Her name is Desirree Madison Biggs, and she’s a fifth-generation Californian and Bay Area native with roots that go back to the mid 1800’s when her mother’s Portuguese family settled in Half Moon Bay as ranchers. It was in high school that she had her first experiences in leadership through student government and sports. She began to learn that if you build strong relationships, have a vision of what could be, care about what you do and for those who do it with, plus have a sense of humor, you have a majority of what you need to lead. 

 

Since her graduation from college she has allowed her passions to provide the primary direction for her career. She began as a group home counselor for delinquent boys and then moved to the business world for both startups and Fortune 100 companies working in human resources, sales, and account management and finally finding her true calling in customer experience where she has worked for the past 15 years. She currently leads the net promoter score and voice of the customer programs for air B&B in San Francisco. When she is not working she spends her time with her family in serving on the board of a nonprofit organization for kids with disabilities and the Customer Experience Professional Association. For fun, she enjoys archery, boogie boarding, traveling, cooking for friends, and reading anything she can get her hands-on. Desirree Madison Biggs, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    I absolutely am Jim. It’s good to be here.

 

Jim Rembach:    Thanks for being here. I’ve given our legion a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is, so that we get to know you better.

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    My current passion is my teenage daughter. Well she’s always been my passion outside of the things that I do for work and for the community but I’m just having a blast having a 17 year old daughter.

 

Jim Rembach:    I have a 12-year-old myself and sometimes it really is exciting and sometimes it isn’t so exciting. So for you, when you start talking about that excitement, what is it about that relationship in that time and you both of your lives that’s really doing that for you?

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    So one things that I love about being a grown-up is the opportunity to have an impact on other people’s lives and there’s nothing more poignant than having a kid that you’re responsible for growing into human. So all of the things I love to do at work like coaching, being alongside, influencing and helping to grow skills are things that I do with my daughter, she’s at appoint in her life where she’s making some serious decisions about the next couple of steps and it’s just great to be there with her as she goes through it.

 

Jim Rembach:    You know, I think you bring up a really important point that we often miss and we always hear the phrase of “don’t take your work home and don’t take your home to work” but the fact is, is that those lines they are so blurred in today’s world because we have to do a lot of the things that you’re talking about both at work as well as at home. And you talked about the development and helping others and doing all of that, I mean to me I’ve seen more of a connection to that occurring today than I’ve ever seen it before. What are your thoughts on that?

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    I think it’s absolutely true Jim. I’ve never totally understood how people could leave their work at the office and vice versa with the home front. I found that I can bring the best of myself from work at home and ensuring that my home life supplies me with what I need to be the best I can be at work, doesn’t always work out that way but for the most part when it’s intentional it does.

 

Jim Rembach:    You know, I think for me just even the way I described you and then the way that you make me feel, I could imagine that being on your team, would allow me, in the way  that you are, would allow me to do more and give more because you make people feel so welcome.

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    Thank you. I feel like we’re here on this planet for a purpose and we have to each define that for ourselves and we get to create it which is kind of exciting, kind of scary at the same time. But I really found that the axiom of leaving the world a better place and doing that every time you meet with somebody, at least if I’m trying to do that something good might come up a bit. I want people to feel better after they leave, not worse.

 

Jim Rembach:   I know for folks that have that type of value system and that type of passions for the human condition and human growth and development that there driven a lot by quotes and we share them a lot on our show. Is there a quote or two that kind of gives you that energy to continue to do that, to help others?

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    There are actually two that come to mind. One is a quote and the other one is more of a mantra. The quote is one that I came across in my 20’s. so back when I was starting my career in the business world, and it was when I’ve seen people use frequently, it’s from Margaret Mead and it’s “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world for indeed that’s all who ever have” and I found that to be a nice of linchpin for whatever I’m doing or touchdown, I’d rather say, because it really doesn’t take a huge amount of effort to get people together that care about a specific topic and generate the kind of impetus you need to make things different. And then the other one is one that I’ve come across recently, I don’t know if you’ve read anything by Brene Brown, Jim, but she’s written a number of books and she’s a social worker professor down at the University of Houston and she does all of her work on shame and vulnerability which I think is an amazing body of work that has direct impact on how we lead. She has this mantra that I’ve taken up and so as my daughter and that is “Don’t shrink, don’t puff up, just stand your sacred ground” and that has just really meant a lot to me as I go in to different meetings, as I’ve built different relationships at a new company, it’s about being authentic and being myself which is kind of scary sometimes.

 

Jim Rembach:    I know that with all that you have learned don’t it. I don’t want to date you, but you obviously are a very wise person and that’s another thing that for me, kind of just adds to your warmth is that we have humps to get over our life and I know that we’ve all had them, and can you please share one and with the Legion?

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    The story I want to tell you about happened a couple of years ago and it was point, it was more like a crucible where everything I was, was laid out flat and I had to make some serious decisions about how I was going to act, how was I going to behave, how I was going to true to which value and then make some decision and follow through, so that’s the story I want to tell you.

 

Jim Rembach:    Please do.

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    So a couple years ago I worked for a fortune 100 company that was going through tremendous radical change and I had a program that I had been running for almost 10 years there and I absolutely loved it, I had built a team that I was passionate about and we had gone through lots of changes through the overarching company changes but there came a point where I had to make some decisions around the cancellation of my program that I’d spent 10 years building, actually that decisions wasn’t made, that was made for me, I had to choose how I was going to react to that and then manage my team through it and I eventually having to lay off most of team and it was very, very difficult. I had to decide each step of the how I was going to behave, what words I was going to use and to whom I was going to be true and I hadn’t been tested like that probably I don’t know ever really. 

 

So I think the crux of it really came down to when I had to make decisions about how hard I was going to fight with whom for what I believed in and  that’s where I really found myself being tested and so I had to fight and fight and fight until I decided that the fight wasn’t worth it anymore became career limiting and this was at the highest point to the company with a lot of new folks coming in everybody jostling for power for getting their agendas moved forward and me just kind of being in the crosshairs. So having crucial conversations that would promote what I believe in, in terms of customer experience overall for the company and then how we were going to go about pulling that program together and how it’s going to change, so I had to manage through that and then eventually lost and that was a tough blow because I had been used to having a very comfortable and respected position in the company and suddenly I was nothing. That was really hard on me personally and I had to make some crucial decisions about how it was going to take that and then once I sorted through, what was really important, how to decouple myself from what I was producing, what I had to accomplish and really just being myself and bringing that to the table that was really hard but I got through that work and then I found myself having to make some decisions about people that had work with for 6, 7 years about their lives and how I was going to handle that, managing my responsibility to the company and then managing myself to the relationships that I had built and so having those kinds of conversations kind of Breaking the rules in some forms not in an illegal way but kind of going off the ranch a little bit, I felt like being a person was really more important than telling the company line so helping my team manage through was really important to me.

 

Jim Rembach:    That reminds me of a time for myself this were—there was a situation much like you were referring to, there was a change in senior management and they decided to close the operation, part of the business that I was working in. Essentially in 90 days we had the responsibility to tell 800 people that we were letting them go essentially and we didn’t do it that way. What the company decided to do was say “Hey we have jobs for you over here and so you could just move over there.” However those were the jobs that people didn’t want. They didn’t come and become part of the company to work where they were told that they needed to go now. So, what happened is, this people said, “No, that’s not what I wanted, it’s not what I’m going to do? I may do it for a little while but—so they left.” Really what they did is they gave 700 of those people the opportunity to leave, that’s what they did. They didn’t actually terminate them, lay them off or anything like that, they said, “You have jobs, they’re just over there.” And for me, that was one of the hardest things to be able to go through and see people struggle on how they were going to proceed. And for me, being someone who—I just love to help people, I don’t want to see people hurt it just tore me up and I didn’t survive it. And so for me, I’m like you know what, “If this is the way that people are ultimately going to be treated at this organization, I’ve got to go, I just can’t live like that.” So I mean, for me what happened, I test in to think and, how did you get through that and where did you—obviously you’re not with that organization anymore, how did that occur? How did that transition happen?

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    It happened like one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time. And ultimately I had to decide each day how I was going to be and it was over an extended period of time, like you said decisions are made but man the implementation of the decisions oftentimes take weeks or months. And so, it was really about being a person first and a manager second, so I did my best to make sure that people landed either outside the company or inside the company in new positions, worked overtime on that. And then the people that I had to package out, I made sure they had all the benefits that they could possibly have and then help them find places outside the company as I could help, so that was helpful. 

 

And then I had to manage everything inside with the team that was left and then kind of cobbling together a whole new program, adjust into a new Vice-President that had a completely different idea, it was an exciting idea but nevertheless it was all new, after having been very comfortable for 10 years with what I had built before, it’s like being in a whole new company. So, again being who I was first was super important, it was very, very difficult, I didn’t have any crutches to lean on and just had to be myself.

 

Jim Rembach:    Now that I reflect back as well, like you’re saying I think for me the one thing that allowed me to really take it day to day at a time and keep going for the next day was that I had the opportunity to focus on others and their well-being before I had the opportunity to think on my own and when that occurred that’s when the decision really became easy.

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    Yeah that make sense.

 

Jim Rembach:    So if you start talking about that story, the things that you have referred to in your youth that you had learned, if you had one piece of advice to give the Fast leader legion, what would it be?

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    This is going to sound really trite but I think it is just absolutely crucial and it’s something that I’ve wrestled is, being myself. Sometimes yourself is comprised of a temperament, values and other characteristics that really don’t fit into a typical, or you might perceive that they don’t fit into the broader culture and so being a little bit out of the mainstream can be uncomfortable but buying being yourself you contribute so much more to the whole. And so I think having the courage to be as authentic as you can possibly be is crucial and that’s the one thing I would advise my daughter, I advised, I have other young people in my life, two, three other organizations and it’s really about discovering and loving who you are so that you can make the biggest impact going forward and just staying true to that self. 

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a good grounding, thank you for sharing that. Okay so, I know you had a lot of things going on and your passionate about a lot of things including the giveback thing that we had mention within your bios as well as with the Association of the CX PA, but if you start thinking about one thing that’s really exciting you right now, what is it?

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    I think what’s exciting me right now is thinking about my future. I feel like again I’m at a crossroads with my daughter about ready to go off into college. I’m at a very exciting company and I’m involved in a number of different organizations and so I feel like there’s this whole maelstrom of events that are happening that could catapult me into something altogether different. And I’m trying to go into that whole effort being mindful of again who I am, what I want to be when I grow up cause I still feel like I’m growing up despite my tenure place in the world, but what’s really exciting me right now is to think about what my future might hold, and where I could contribute best. 

 

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 listeners, it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay Desirree, 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 that are going to help us move onward and upward faster.  Desirree Madison-Biggs are you ready to Hoedown? 

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    I am Jim.

 

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

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    I think that having enough courage to embrace what I don’t know holds me back sometimes, I get scared.

 

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

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    I think it was “Don’t be afraid to ask for help it’s a sign of strength and not a weakness”.

 

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

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    Really caring about the people that I work with. Listening and collaborating rather than trying to rule over and make things happen.

 

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

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    I think the types of books that I read and the amount of a different types of books that I read really helps me. I find myself bringing even fiction into the work that I do it always keeps me inspired and thinking about things differently.

 

Jim Rembach:    What would be one book that you would recommend to our listeners, and it doesn’t have to be a business book?

  

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    Well, in this case it actually happens to be, “The Fifth Discipline” by Peter Senge, many of your Fast leader legion has probably heard of him, if not read this but the learning organization is really crucial in one of my secret passions, creating that in my team and the field handbook, is something that I go back to over and over again for the tools to do certain aspects of my job.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay Fast Leader legion, you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to the show notes page which you’ll be able to find at Fastleader.net/DesirreeMadisonBiggs. Okay Desirree, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you’ve given been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything, you can only choose one, so what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    Okay, so, the one thing that I would take back with me is the knowledge that it is okay not to have a linear progression in your life all planned out. That used to give me a huge amount of ‘anx’ that was completely unnecessary, that everything is going to be okay, if you follow your heart and you are able to be educated and get those basics under your belt, that life will carry you on an adventure that you really can’t imagine, and if you can’t see that end destination it’s okay, it’s going to all be fine.

 

Jim Rembach:    Just keep moving forward.

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    Just keep swimming. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Desirree 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?

 

Desirree Madison-Biggs:    Sure! I have a really easy my e-mail address is desirree@gmail.com 

 

Jim Rembach:    Desirree, 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 move onward and upward faster.

 

 

2019-11-27T08:31:05-05:00October 7th, 2015|Podcasts|0 Comments

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