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Aaron Edelheit Leadership Podcast Fast Leader Show

193: Aaron Edelheit: I’m going to turn off

Aaron Edelheit Show Notes Page

Aaron Edelheit was grossly over-worked, over-whelmed and way too connected. He found himself becoming less and less productive despite investing more and more time. Not only was work suffering so was his family and friends. Finally, Aaron decided he was going to turn off.

Aaron was born in Marlton, New Jersey new jersey but grew up in Boca Raton, Florida along with his two brothers Mark and Jon.

Around the age 9 his father was reading the Wall Street Journal and Aaron asked him what all the numbers were, pointing to the stock listings. He explained it to Aaron and it seemed fascinating. It wasn’t long until he was hooked.

Aaron has always been fascinated and interested in business and investments. For some unknown reason, he’s been reading the Wall Street Journal since he was 9. He started his own money management firm at age 23 and lived above his parent’s garage.

Then, he started a small side-business buying foreclosed homes and fixing them up and renting them out. He started with 16 homes in 2008 and built it up to 2,500 rental homes with 80 employees. He sold the company in April 2015 to a publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trust.

Aaron has been featured and quoted in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Bloomberg, and CNBC among others and has given lectures on business and entrepreneurship in the U.S., Canada and South Africa.

He is the Chief Strategy Officer of FLO Technologies and the CEO and Founder of Mindset Capital, a private investment firm and author of The Hard Break: The Case For The 24/6 Lifestyle.

Most importantly that I was a good father and husband and that I tried in my own little way to make the world a better place.

Aaron currently lives in Santa, Barbara, CA with his wife Valerie and his three kids Nora, Max and Miles.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @aaronvalue to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet  

“Over-work is actually hurting our chances for success.” – Click to Tweet 

“Once you work past 55 hours, in the long run, it’s all garbage.” – Click to Tweet 

“We’re connected every second to every person that has our contact information.” – Click to Tweet 

“We’ve ceded our control and freedom to everybody else having the ability to invade our lives.” – Click to Tweet 

“Why is there so much anxiety, anger and frustration – arguably this is the best time to live ever.” – Click to Tweet 

“Success in life is not about consuming more information.” – Click to Tweet 

“You’re actually not giving your brain the chance to be creative – to be innovative – to be problem-solving.” – Click to Tweet 

“What’s in short supply at this day and age – it’s time.” – Click to Tweet 

“A lot of people are starting to realize that’s it’s not necessarily things but experiences.” – Click to Tweet 

“Why not give yourself the gift of time.” – Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Aaron Edelheit was grossly over-worked, over-whelmed and way too connected. He found himself becoming less and less productive despite investing more and more time. Not only was work suffering so was his family and friends. Finally, Aaron decided he was going to turn off.

Advice for others

Don’t be in such a rush to get to a destination. Enjoy the journey.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

I need to do a better job of being more present.

Best Leadership Advice

Don’t focus on the short-term, really think about the long-term and the things that don’t change.

Secret to Success

My Sabbath practice, the hard break of turning off and being with friends and family.

Best tools in business or life

Communication – I can communicate complex things in a simple manner.

Recommended Reading

The Hard Break: The Case For The 24/6 Lifestyle

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist)

Contacting Aaron Edelheit

website: https://www.thehardbreak.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aaron-edelheit-0707b519/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/aaronvalue

Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

Public Speaking

Show Transcript: 

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

193: Aaron Edelheit: I’m going to turn off

 

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.

 

Call center coach develops and unites the next generation of call center leaders. Through our e-learning and community individuals gain knowledge and skills in the six core competencies that is the blueprint that develops high-performing call center leaders. Successful supervisors do not just happen so go to callcentercoach.com to learn more about enrollment and download your copy of the Supervisor Success Path e-book now.

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who’s going to help us to stop doing something so that we can move forward faster. Aaron Edelheit, was born in Marlton, New Jersey but grew up in Boca Raton, Florida along with his two brothers Mark and John. Around the age of nine his father was reading The Wall Street Journal and Aaron asked him what all the numbers were while pointing to the stock listings. He explained it to Aaron and it seemed fascinating it wasn’t long until he was hooked. Aaron had always been fascinated and interested in business and investments. For some unknown reason he’s been reading The Wall Street Journal since he was nine, I think his dad had something to do with that. He started his own money management firm at the age of 23 and lived above his parent’s garage. Then he started a small side business buying foreclosed homes and fixing them up and renting them out. He started with 16 homes in 2008 and built it to up to over 2,500 rental homes with 80 employees and he sold the company in April 2015 to a publicly traded real estate investment trust. 

 

Aaron has been featured and quoted in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Bloomberg and CNBC among others and has given lectures on business and entrepreneurship in the US, Canada and South Africa. He is the chief strategy officer of Flow Technologies and the CEO and founder of Mindset Capital, a private investment firm. Most importantly he wants to be a good father and husband and that he tried in his own little way to make the world a better place. Aaron currently lives in Santa Barbara, California with his wife Valerie and his three kids: Nora, Max and Miles. Aaron Edelheit, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Aaron Edelheit:    Yes. I am.

 

Jim Rembach:   I’m glad you’re here. Now I’ve given my Legion 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?

 

Aaron Edelheit:    Well my current passion is to spread the message about how being connected every minute and every second of every day is not good for us both business and professionally and also how overworked is actually hurting our chances for success. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I guess we have so many different mixed messages about this particular issue that we don’t know which way to go. We hear about you have to work harder than everyone else in order to be able to get ahead and then we hear that hey, you can’t burn the candle at both ends because you don’t function well and so on and so forth. And so we see a really big confusion around this. So when you start talking about trying to find clarity in your own place, really where does it start for someone?

 

Aaron Edelheit:    About 12 13 years ago I hit a wall. I had a lot of early success in my professional career and I worked all the time and then when I hit a rough patch, my personal life my social life that could all suffer, but it wasn’t until I hit a rough patch and then no matter how hard I work no matter how many hours I put in I didn’t see any change in the business results that I realized that something was wrong and really out of desperation I needed to do something different. So I began a journey to actually take a hard break or take a Sabbath where I turned off my phone I turned off my computer and I stopped working and I tried to give my brain a break. At first all I could do was try to make it four hours

I tried to make it till noon on Saturday, that’s how addicted to work I was, and then overtime over a couple weeks I’d built it up to the afternoon and then after some time a couple of months I built it up to a whole day. It transformed my life and it enabled me at a very rough time for many people in 2008 to actually have the vision have the courage to start a business that was fundamentally against what everyone was experiencing at the time, which was buying foreclosed homes when no one wanted to buy homes. It enabled all of my success the fact that I had this day every week, I have a vacation day every week like who doesn’t want that, and found that I had this time to decompress the process for renewal every week where I could get excited for the upcoming battle every week. 

 

After I sold my company I spent the last three years researching and writing this book. There are 200 footnotes in my book because my book is the business case for the Sabbath so I wanted to prove definitively that this is good for you. There are studies from like Harvard and Stanford and Centers for Disease Control showing—and once you work past going back to your original question, once you work past 55 hours a week in the long run it’s all garbage. In the short run you can grind yourself anyone can accomplish something over a couple weeks even a month or two months but in the end it’s going to affect your decision making, your ability to think clearly, be innovative, be creative and all of this has been shown over decades of research. And so, what I wanted to show in this book and share with people is that, okay, so what do you do with this information? And my idea is there’s a tool that’s actually thousands of years old that is practice across faiths and ideologies even secular people are basically taking the Sabbath. 

 

Jim Rembach:   And the book is titled, The Hard Break: The Case for the 24-6 Lifestyle so it’s kind of funny that you’re saying that we’ve known this for thousands of years thousands of years but yet we’re not only just repeating a pattern we’re actually deepening the pattern and passing it down to even younger generations. Before we got on this interview we were talking about one part of the book where you mentioned specifically, and this is based on studies that you found talking about how teens are even especially at risk with all this, and these teens are going to be people who are in the workforce really darn quickly. When we look at that entire emerging generation of workers and also looking at the fact that we have so many unclaimed hours a vacation time, is this really going to ever stop? 

 

Aaron Edelheit:    Well, that’s why I wrote the book because I want to make this case. You and I remember a time before cellphones before we were connected when you were home from work or you’d be away you’d be on vacation you might be able to call via payphone or you do long distance but it was kind of a hassle. Now we have instantaneous communications we’re connected every second but not only that were connected every second to every person that has our contact information. People can email us they can text us they can send us social media likes spokes all that stuff. They can tweet at us LinkedIn messages, so it gives us this sense of freedom that we can do stuff from everywhere and that’s why you have ideas like work-cation but it comes with a big downside and that we’ve essentially ceded our control and freedom to everybody else having the ability to invade our lives out peace and quiet our down moments and we’ve given up this freedom and there comes to be a pretty significant downside as I share in the book there’s a lot of negative downsides to essentially being on call which is what you are. First response may be well I can respond what I want but they know that you’ve read it they know that they’ve grabbed your attention and this has some pretty significant downsides to our young who have no tools to cope with this. And that’s why the number one way middle school kids die now by suicide that’s why college I believe college campus health clinics are being overrun with mental health issues where it’s growing at double-digit percentages. And we have the sense in our country right now why is there so much anxiety and anger and frustration arguably this is the best time to live ever in terms of health, well-being in terms of life span everything—violence it’s all in the right directions but people are very anxious and then you see this in depression medication. And so I think it’s tied to the overuse of technology and the fact that we’re running around like chickens without their heads cut off we have no downtime. 

 

Jim Rembach:   That’s a really interesting point. You’re talking about the whole downtime part, I know when my kids are on their devices or when I’m on my devices I’m not moving, what do you mean I have downtime, right?  But no, the brain is always activated. I think there was something that I heard the other day where we start talking about the fuel that we put in our bodies, what we eat, even though that it’s not from a size perspective comparatively larger but the brain actually uses over 20 percent of that fuel. 

 

Aaron Edelheit:    That’s right. But it’s the same thing if you think about your brain it’s a very great analogy and I’m thinking about it, think about the amount of information we’re consuming every day compared to what people used to consume. I heard some crazy statistic that the average person consumes as much information like a day that a hundred years ago someone would consume in a year like we’re just being bombarded with information, breaking news, we’re just consuming so fast, we’re not machines and in fact, success in life is not about consuming more information. What’s really important about the brands, this is what I love you have this tradition that’s thousands of years old, that’s been practiced for across faith and then the latest in neuroscience says that when you’re actually resting, daydreaming, going for a walk in the woods, you think that you’re not using your brain but there’s a part of your brain called the default mode network that goes into overdrive. And what is the default mode network? The default mode network processes information and it takes all the experiences and data that the brain is collected trying to form patterns trying to gain understanding. Think about the proverbial idea in the shower, like why does that hit you in the shower? It’s because there’s a part of your brain that’s actually working when you think it’s not. What happens when you’re running around like a crazy person and you’re working and you’re emailing and you’re texting and  you’re on your phone all the time you’re actually not giving your brain the chance to be creative to be innovative to be problem-solving all the skills needed to succeed in today’s economy?

 

Jim Rembach:   That’s a great point. I also heard study not too long ago that talked about when we start talked about—when we start talking about our listening skills and our active listening skills and our ability to be able to take information and therefore you can leverage it and decide upon it and use it intellectually is that even when we have to go to the bathroom our IQ drops like 10 percentage points because instead of listening and engaging and thinking we’re just thinking—I got to go, I got to go. 

 

Aaron Edelheit:    That’s right. And it’s the same thing—there’s another effect a psychological effect that has been documented for over a hundred years called the Zeigarnik effect, which is when a task is not complete it kind of remains as a weight on our brains. You think about all the tasks you have to do and it just sits there and it affects your decision-making it affects your ability to think clearly and so think about how the modern world works all the emails and all the stuff that you have to do constantly it never ends so you have this ongoing Zeigarnik effect, what’s one way to fight against the Zeigarnik effect? It’s to go ahead and say, I’m going to turn off for this period and I’m going to make sure that I get at it after this point in time. Again the idea of the Sabbath of knowing there’s this defined hard break it’s not something that I do in this period of time. 

 

Jim Rembach:   As you’re talking I’m thinking about what I see from a society perspective and a communication perspective and what people are focusing on right now is that I think there’s a growing, well first of all need, but then also presence in society about mindfulness. 

 

Aaron Edelheit:    Yes. 

 

Jim Rembach:   And being really mindful of all the things that we’re talking about and in the back of the book you have the worksheets that’s kind of what you’re doing is you’re trying to get people to be more mindful of what they’re doing. You have questions to ask yourself but then you also have questions to ask your partner, friends, spouse and child. But the questions to ask yourself you have in here are, when was the last time that your phone was off for 24 hours? Did you respond to any work-related emails or texts over the weekend, on your last vacation? When was the last time you took a nap and rested in the middle of the day?–we’re not from pure exhaustion. When was the last time you read just for pleasure? It’s all these really mindful activities in order for you to say, hmm, I need to do a better job of creating structure and having that Sabbath. 

 

Aaron Edelheit:    Yeah, it’s about creating a regular—. I am the chief strategy officer for a start-up that’s growing really fast. I am partnering to build houses outside of Atlanta, I have an investment partnership in Charlotte. I just wrote a book, it’s really hard. I have three small children. I’m on the board of a non-profit there is a lot of stuff going on in my life right now and frankly sometimes it’s overwhelming. But I already know what’s coming up right in a couple hours is I’m turning off and I’m going to take a deep, deep breath and I am going to be able to just become Aaron. I’m not work Aaron I’m not this title Aaron responsible for all these people and I get that renewal and that vacation every week and it’s the best thing that I do that’s why I wrote this book it’s why I’m preaching this message. Having this defined period this hard break where I can then be myself and then think about things and take a nap read for pleasure do all these things that make life enjoyable and give long-term satisfaction spend time with friends and family but then also having that renewal that when Saturday night rolls around. I’m excited to turn back on I’m excited to get but what did I miss? What’s going on? Oh, I get to check all this stuff it renews me every week. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Well, that’s definitely been a huge shift I’m sure from where you explained that you were doing that you had to find and do your research so you had a get to that rationale side and then also address all the emotional things that went along with it. And with that as far as that emotional piece, oftentimes we look towards quotes in the show to help give us some inspiration and hopefully point us in the right direction. Is there quote or two that you like that you can share? 

 

Aaron Edelheit:    Well, one that I would share is from Abraham Joshua Heschel who is a very famous rabbi actually marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and it was called it praying with his feet which I love and he wrote a very small book, great book, called The Sabbath, and he calls it a palace and time. Do you think about what’s in short supply at this day and age? It’s time. I think a lot of people are starting to realize that it’s not necessarily famous but experiences and the value of time is incredible, why not give yourself the gift of time? Where people can grab—your attention won’t be taken away and that you can actually just be you. So give yourself this kind of palace, I’ve called it a vacation. I’ve always loved this turn of the phrase coined at the Sabbath is a palace in time. Here’s the thing it doesn’t have to be religious. I profile people in the book that or secular, Christian, Jewish, Mormon, Seventh-day Adventists, corporations that are doing it for non-religious reasons like Boston Consulting Group.

 

Jim Rembach:   There’s definitely some good practices in many of those face and religions and  if you don’t have one that you follow you definitely still have to have the things that we’re talking about is you have that mindful restful and this peace the reflection, all of those things are critically important. Now, I know that when you started talking about going through everything that you went through from a heavy work perspective and even before that and even since after that you probably had some humps that you’ve had to get over where it really got you to where you are today. Can you share one of those stories with us?

 

Aaron Edelheit:    Well, I could tell you is I’m still addicted to my phone as much as everybody. My wife has taken my phone from my hand and thrown it in the bushes. She complains that she just sees the top of my head because I’m looking down at my phone. Just because I turn off—I wrote this book half to myself than to anyone else just to remind myself. I love Twitter, I’m on Twitter you can find me @AaronValue—this is not a screech or cry against technology it’s just like anything it can be good or bad and it’s how you use it. I just think that people were—we have this new technology we’re not realizing all the downsides from extreme overuse and from overworking. I still struggle all the time and I can tell you is that—and I write about this in the book about how important it is to prepare and how you can actually do this, there’s a lot of how-to tips but my scramble before I turn my phone off every week that’s still not something that I’ve perfected. Because there’s all this stuff to do I’m going to turn off like I’m off—there are emails to send there are people to call there’s stuff I’ve got to have be in place. And so I still struggle with it in some regards. I’m not saying and I have—please don’t think I have all the answers this is just one answer. 

 

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:

 

Need a powerful and entertaining way to ignite your next conference, retreat or team building session? My keynotes 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:     Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time for the Hump day Hoedown. Okay, Aaron, the Hump day Hoedown is a 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. Aaron Edelheit, are you ready to hoedown? 

 

Aaron Edelheit:    I’m ready to hoedown. 

 

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

 

Aaron Edelheit:    I think that I need to do a better job of being more present and like everyone else put the technology away and make sure I’m really focusing on the person in front of me. 

 

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

Aaron Edelheit:    Don’t focus on the short-term really think about the long-term and the things that don’t change. The things like what Jeff Bezos has said, it’s the people’s want, great customer service, convenience those kind of things never change.

 

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

 

Aaron Edelheit:    Oh, that’s easy, that’s my Sabbath practice, the hard break of turning off and being with friends and family. 

 

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

 

Aaron Edelheit:    I would say it’s communication. I think that I can tell a good story and communicate complex things in a simple manner. 

 

Jim Rembach:      What would be one book that you’d recommend to our listeners they could be from energy genre of course we’re going to put a link to, The Hard Break: The Case for the 24-6 Lifestyle on your show notes page as well. 

 

Aaron Edelheit:    I just actually read a wonderful fiction book called, Pachenko, and it tells a couple of generations of Koreans that lived in Japan before, during and after World War II, it’s wonderful.

 

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/aaronedelheit.  Okay, Aaron, this is my last hump day hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity go back to the age of 25 and you have 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. So what skill or a piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

Aaron Edelheit:    Patience. I was in such a rush to be a success I even left college early you tried to graduate college early and I wanted to get out there and work and got a job and then immediately started managing money and started seeing success and I was so focused on just being a success as opposed to having a balanced life. And so when I suddenly hit a wall, and I described this in my book, and it got sick and my personal life was in shambles and then suddenly work which was everything was struggling I had no real foundation to rest upon I went to a really dark place. Now, luckily for me it was a wonderful turning point in my life and led me to start a Sabbath practice, started take taking better care of myself. I wrote this book so hopefully people don’t have to go through the same thing that I did. If I just had a little more patience wasn’t in such a rush to get to a destination kind of quaint to say enjoy the journey a little more take better care of myself and build myself up to be more successful in the long term, I would have been much better off.

 

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

 

Aaron Edelheit:    Sure. Well, you can find my contact information on my website, thehardbreak.com. You can find me on Twitter as I said @aaronvalue. You can find me on Facebook, Aaron M Edelheit the author of Hard Break and you can find my book on Amazon.

 

Jim Rembach:      Aaron Edelheit, 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. 

 

END OF AUDIO 

[/expand]

 

Simone Vincenzi

192: Simone Vincenzi: I basically made myself homeless

Simone Vincenzi Show Notes Page

Simone Vincenzi decided to quit his job and go to school to learn how to run his own business. Tragically, his grandfather pasted away and Simone decided to travel back to his hometown in Italy from London every two weeks to comfort his grieving mother. Quickly, his savings was exhausted, but he continued to travel home to his mother and made the choice to become homeless.

Simone was born and raised in Maranello, Italy along with his younger brother Graziano. His parents divorced when he was 14 and it taught him how to fend for himself an that good can come from something bad.

While growing up Simone was always independent and loved talking to people. He has always been the life of the party. This is why he found the perfect career in the catering industry as a waiter and restaurant manager.

He was always happy doing what he did and he did not understand why people would compromise their happiness. This is the reason he moved to deliver seminars to help people live a happier life.

Simone Vincenzi, known as The Experts Strategist, is the co-founder of GTeX. He’s a contributor to Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post. He’s a TEDx speaker, Host of the podcast Explode Your Expert Business and author of 3 life-changing books.

Simone is transforming the personal development and speaking industry to help changemakers change more lives.

Every year he speaks in front of more than 5,000 business leaders, which included sharing the stage with Les Brown, Dr. John DeMartini, Trent Shelton and many more. He has also organized over 170 events, including Gary Vee speaking from York Hall boxing ring.

Following his passion for making an impact on the younger generation, he also partners with the largest youth organizations in the UK, helping them deliver more effective courses and training.

Simone now lives in London with his lovely wife Lovelda. Simone cannot live without 3 things: Speaking, basketball and playing his Didgeridoo.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @simonegtex to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow –Click to Tweet 

“Structure and frameworks are crucial, because they give guidelines, but at the same time they give freedom.” –Click to Tweet  

“Why are you doing what you’re doing, what is the motivation behind it?” –Click to Tweet  

“There needs to be a line where we have a policy and line where we have a framework.” –Click to Tweet  

“There’s this big talk about you’ve got to be passionate, but I know a lot of passionate people that are doing freak zero with their lives.” –Click to Tweet  

“Where are you channeling all this passion that you have?” –Click to Tweet  

“The moment when I implemented my strategy, I now had a channel for my passion.” –Click to Tweet  

“Intention creates attention.” –Click to Tweet  

“Count your blessings, and everyone has a different blessing.” –Click to Tweet  

“Be aware of what you’re doing and ask for advice.” –Click to Tweet  

Hump to Get Over

Simone Vincenzi decided to quit his job and go to school to learn how to run his own business. Tragically, his grandfather pasted away and Simone decided to travel back to his hometown in Italy from London every two weeks to comfort his grieving mother. Quickly, his savings was exhausted, but he continued to travel home to his mother and made the choice to become homeless.

Advice for others

Have a strategy and be more aware of what you are doing and ask for advice.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Making decisions without thinking about consequences.

Best Leadership Advice

Lead by example.

Secret to Success

My resilience.

Best tools in business or life

My team.

Recommended Reading

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

The Richest Man in Babylon

Contacting Simone Vincenzi

Podcast: https://gtex.org.uk/podcast/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/explodeyourexpertbiz/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/simone-vincenzi/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/simonegtex

Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

Public Speaking

 

Show Transcript: 

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

192: Simone Vicenzi: I basically made myself homeless

 

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.

 

Call center coach develops and unites the next generation of call center leaders. Through our e-learning and community individuals gain knowledge and skills in the six core competencies that is the blueprint that develops high-performing call center leaders. Successful supervisors do not just happen so go to callcentercoach.com to learn more about enrollment and download your copy of the Supervisor Success Path e-book now.

 

Jim Rembach:     Okay Fast Leader Legion, I’m excited to have somebody this guest that we have on the show today because he’s going to help give some framework and understanding and something that we oftentimes think is intangible. Simone Vincenzi was born and raised in Maranello, Italy along with his younger brother Graziano. His parents divorced when he was 14 but it taught him how to fend for himself and that good can come from bad. While growing up Simone was always independent and loved talking to people. He has always been the life of the party. This is why he found the perfect career in the catering industry and as a waiter and restaurant manager. He was always happy doing what he did and he did not understand why people would compromise their happiness. This is the reason he moved to deliver seminars to help people live a happier life. Simone Vincenzi also known as the expert strategist is the co-founder of GTex. He’s a contributor to Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine and The Huffington Post. 

He’s a TEDx speaker host of the podcast, Explode your Expert Business and author of three life-changing books. Simone is transforming the personal development and speaking industry to help change makers change more lives. Every year he speaks in front of more than 5,000 business leaders which include sharing the stage with Les Brown, Dr. John Demartini, Trent Shelton and many more. He also has organized over 170 events including, Gary Vee speaking from York All Boxing Ring. Following his passion for making an impact on the younger generation he’s also partnering with the largest youth organizations in the UK helping to deliver more effective courses and training. Simone now lives in London with his lovely wife Lovelda cannot live without three things: speaking, basketball and playing his didgeridoo. Simone, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Simone Vicenzi:     Ready to rock, Jim. Ready to rock. 

Jim Rembach:     I’m glad you’re here. Now I’ve given my Legion a little bit about you but can you share what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?

Simone Vicenzi:     Yeah, absolutely. My passion is to inspire and empower business leaders to get more customers and to change more lives ultimately.  We work with businesses that—I have a mission that they’re not just there for profits. Although profits are important and they’re a crucial part of a business but it’s not the main reason why they started a business. Like it’s not the main reason why I started my business. And we particularly helped them in making a lot of money and getting a lot of clients running seminars live and online presentations. That’s what we specialize on here at GTex. 

Jim Rembach:     For me when you started talking about that issue of mission and why an organization exists. I often find because I was been having this discussion with one of my clients, being certified in emotional intelligence, I try to help them differentiate by connecting at a deeper level other than, hey these are our features and our benefits. Because from a product perspective—even if in a service perspective for that matter too many times we go to the functional and we forget the whole finesse piece. And it’s really the finesse piece that ultimately causes people to initially engage with us maybe get to a point of having trust with us and then ultimately staying with us and referring us. It’s really those things that are kind of rooted in the whole whether its happiness authenticity all of those components that we say are intangible. For the course of my life I’ve found that they’re not intangible there’s frameworks and there’s things to focus in on that helps you deliver. When you start thinking about creating some structure and frameworks about that how do you help or teach organizations to do that?

Simone Vicenzi:     As you said structure and frameworks are crucial, are really important because they give guidelines but at the same time they give the freedom for an organization for an individual to be themselves and to express themselves within the framework. That’s why I prefer frameworks rather than scripts the scripts as a script is something which is setting stone, this is the script. While when you’re given a framework you’re allowed individual or a company to be to be free and to put their own personality in their own ethos into the equation. If you’re thinking about the topic of mission which is what we started talking about and you mentioned the importance of every mission behind products behind services then there are a few things that we explore with a company. First, of all he is a why they started what they started. There’s a brilliant book which probably you’ve read or maybe you’re listeners have read which is called, Starts With Why from Simon Sinek, if you have not read the book you might have watch his TEDx talk or maybe you have read some of his articles. In that book he mentions that people follow leaders that have a purpose. But a lot of leaders they forget to actually share why they started doing the things in the first place. So something that we start from is why are you doing what you’re doing? What is the motivation behind it? What is your personal motivation? And there are two things that you can distinguish within that. One is your personal motivation for yourself as a human being. And the other is your personal motivation that you have for what you want to create for others in the work because they are both important. 

Now we all have personal goals. There are very few mother Teresa’s in the world they’re just doing big for others. I have my personal goals, I want to be wealthy I want to have a great lifestyle I want to provide a great lifestyle for my family for my children, when I will have children, for my wife. I want to go on holiday whenever I want. I want to wake up with a smile on my face and be happy doing what I do. That’s my personal motivation. But then I have an external motivation which is what I want to see in the word, what is the legacy that I want to leave? And then at this time I’m talking about changing the way entrepreneurs run their businesses. Because I believe that if an entrepreneur is more purposeful and runs the business in a more effective way and they make more money as well then they will have a ripple effect in their communities in their families in their household with their clients and this is the intangible that I cannot see but it excites me because I know it’s happening even though I can’t see directly. And that’s where we start from the beginning. 

Jim Rembach:     Now you bring up some really interesting points because as you’re talking there’s a couple things that kind of stood out to me that I think are definitely worth us maybe delve into a little bit deeper. First of all, I think there’s a big mistake that gets made if we’re not careful taking a framework and turning it into a policy. Because then I think that does put the constraints on people because ultimately what we need to be able to do is take that mission and that reason and the passion behind it that which we’re talking about the positives, not the threats and a weaknesses components it’s the positive components, and actually not being able to scale it. You talked about entrepreneur but organizations that are even large have the same desires and goals and issues and humps they need to get over. And so when we start talking about taking that personal, aligning it with the work that you’re doing, and not using the framework  for something that could be a negative or detractor like turning it into a policy. Is there a point by which you see that kind of happening and then you got a kind of real people back from? 

Simone Vicenzi:     First of all even that because we work with a large organizations. One side of our business, which mainly my business partner deals with, is a sales training for recruitment agencies. So we work with larger recruitment agencies we work with the some of the largest recruitment agencies in the world to help them train their staff. And I believe that not every policy is wrong I think that in life or in business we will need policies and we need frameworks. So there needs to be a line where we have a policy and the line where we have a framework. Now I think that the way you are dealing with certain issues that there are for example very critical for example, how are you going to deal when a client is not happy and now they want to cancel their account or they’re asking for a refund? There needs to be a policy for that. There are so many things that you can leave to that person to decide but then there might be other decisions for example, we’re talking about leadership you are looking at the manager how would the leader team to perform better? So very specifically about the sales environment. In that case it’s better to give them a framework because if we give them a policy the policy might not be aligned with the personality that they have and actually instead of supporting them it’s holding them back. In that case they’re looking at how do you lead your team? It’s great to have frameworks because then I can put my personality I can put my genius or I can put what I know is great for me I can infuse that in the framework so that I can have this connection with my team. Does it make sense, Jim?

Jim Rembach:     Absolutely makes sense, and so for me as you were talking I started also thinking about the build the depth and level of expertise of somebody who is looking at being able to create or scale. If I don’t have a lot of experience and depth and understanding I’m going to err unintentionally on the side of policy because I don’t know a whole lot of it about myself and I don’t understand that really here’s where I should be leveraging and using a framework and kind of give people the freedom. I do see a whole lot of requirement in regards to utilizing people who have the skill and understanding and who know how to apply some of the finesse and the artistic and the freedoms and the innovative energizing types of things to know the difference in where the line is. I don’t think you can actually just give it to somebody at a lower level and say here, follow this procedure or follow this process and now write this up. 

Simone Vicenzi:     It also depends by the person by the individual because there are people that work really well with frameworks and there are people that work really well with policies and the very solid structures. If you’re given to a person who is incredibly detailed that they love to have a structure to follow and they want to know word by word what they are going to say what they’re going to do otherwise it puts them in a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable and they would not perform as well then you know that that person will need a much more stricter guidelines. But then if you give the same guidelines to another person who’s maybe very creative and they love to express themselves that’s holding them back. I think in every business it’s finding the right person the right role with the right personality with the right passion that gives you the outcome that you want or the best possible outcome for the company. We’re going into the art of recruitment here which is I think is a major part of the leadership conversation. How do you find the people that are the best fit for your team? One person instead of another one. Which role would it be? How do you move people within the organization from one side to the other? And it’s something that—for example I’m going through right now. We grew our company one year from three to eight people so we had a really a large growth. And it was about allocating the different people in the different role. And the more we were getting to know them the more we knew what position was best for them. 

Jim Rembach:     I think that’s a great point. Because as you were talking I started thinking about, if that person needs a whole lot of that structure and a whole lot of that step and processes and detail and stuff that person who’s perfect for being in compliance or being in quality being an analyst where hopefully someone who’s in a leading position or we put in a leading position is one that—just give me a framework and let me apply what I know and my skills and what I learn and give me the opportunity to have some more flexibility because therefore I’m also going to do that for my people. And that’s when you know an organization can scale where they can actually gain some velocity instead of needing people that are in leading roles to have so much structure and policies and things like that to give them a decision-making power so in other words. In other words, okay, I have all this behind me and I know this is how it’s supposed to go and therefore I feel confident enough in order to be able to move forward. Where people who are a little bit more creative and have the frameworks can say, you know what? Give me 80% of what I need to know or heck even 50% of what I need to know infuse me and other people and let’s go. 

Simone Vicenzi:     Exactly, exactly absolutely. 

Jim Rembach:     When you start thinking about—gosh! All these people who you’ve spoken to all these people you’ve spoken with all these people who you’ve worked with what you’re doing I can only imagine that you’ve been exposed to a ton of different quotes in order to inspire you. And on the show that’s one of the things that we look at. Is there one or two that you can share that you like?

Simone Vicenzi:     Absolutely. There is one which was very relevant to me in particular in my leadership roles and as well and growing my business, which was, Passion will get you moving a strategy will get you there. And the reason why I love this quote it is because there is this big talk about passion you got to be passionate, you got to be passionate, you got to be passionate, you got to be passionate. But I know a lot of passionate people that are doing freaked 0 with their lives but they’re really passionate. Every time they have a new project and is the most amazing project ever and then you’re looking at their bank account or their organization or their team or whatever they’re doing and you’re like, where are you channeling all the passion that you have? And that was me at the very beginning very passionate all over the place. Why? Because I didn’t have a solid strategy. The moment I implemented this strategy then I had a channel for my passion and I could focus my passion to create something of value something productive. 

Jim Rembach:     And as you talk about that I’m starting even to think about my kids, I have three kids, and for me I’m like, hey, when you get up in the morning you have to know what you want to be doing or what you should be doing or if not you end up laying around all day. And so for here right now we’re doing this interview while my kids are having their summer break from school and that’s exactly what they want to do all day. And so finally my wife and I said, this is crazy. We try to keep them busy and doing camps and things like that and my daughter’s going on mission next week but there’s times in between where we don’t have things for them to do so she created a checklist. And she said, look if you do these things you probably could get them done in 15-20 minutes. At the end of the day we still have to go to them and say, you hadn’t even finished your checklist. So it’s like they don’t have a good practice and a good habit of actually going through and executing because. You talk about the passion piece and an even frameworks instructor but you got to move forward. 

Simone Vicenzi:     Absolute, absolutely, I agree with you. 

Jim Rembach:     How do we get people to move from, I don’t know where to go I don’t have a framework to actually executing, is that where—

Simone Vicenzi:     I can tell you an organization I’m not a parent so I I’m the kind of person that will not give advice if it’s something that I’ve not experienced myself. So in this case sorry to disappoint you Jim but nothing around parenting there teenagers and kids are different than adults and I used to work in about 150 schools a year that’s how I started doing courses. When I run a seminar with young people or teenagers it’s completely different from when you run a seminar with adults. If they listen to you for 10 minutes in a row with the young people you’re lucky. There are some schools that I went into that if I came out without having like pens and books thrown at me it was a good day. So I would not expect that unless I go in a prison maybe to go this wrapping a seminar with adults. 

Jim Rembach:     I would dare to say though that the whole attention span—okay, so adults may not throw books and pens at you however the attention span is actually for many adults even shorter because they have so many different things that they have to focus on so many tasks they have to do and so many responsibilities so oftentimes the attention span you got 30 seconds—and that’s important from a speaker perspective from a trainer perspective.

Simone Vicenzi:     You know what’s a difference Jim? The difference is if the audience wants to be there or not, that’s the main difference. Because even if you go to school and the students want to be there, I did some summer camps with students and they wanted to be there. It was a leadership camp they were the top performing students of the school and sometimes even not the top performing but they wanted to be there and it makes the experience very different. It’s almost like the same if you go into an organization if the people of the team they want to be there is one thing it’s completely for an experience everyone is excited, I want to get involved they’re there to learn and therefore when you are excited your attention is increased because it’s something that you want, intention creates attention. So when your intention is there the attention is there too as well. 

Jim Rembach:     That’s a great point. Okay, so looking at the things that you’ve actually gone through talking about the parents early divorce and quickly you learned how to fend for yourself and getting to even where you are today I’m sure there’s a lot of humps that you had to get over, things that you’ve learned along the way, can you share one of those stories with us?

Simone Vicenzi:     Yeah, absolutely. I’m not even 30, I’ll be 30 years old soon, but I feel that I lived an intense life. One of the story that I can share is when I became homeless that was a huge learning experience for me. I was at a point where I was very successful in the catering industry. At the age of 19 I was the youngest Michelin star restaurant manager in Europe. I just earned a lot of money from a very young age I was living incredible lifestyle. I was going clubbing every night strip clubs, you name it I was I was living the dream at 19. And when I was 22 then I came here over to the UK I was recruited to work in this Michelin star restaurant from Italy so I moved here and after a couple of years then I knew that something needed to change. And therefore I decided to quit my job and then started my business doing leadership from what I’ve achieved before in the catering industry. But I didn’t have a clue how to run a business. I had some savings, not too many, but I have some savings but at the same time my grandfather died at home. So, now my mom was left there by herself with my little brother and my mom and his father, my grandfather had a very strong connection so she was devastated completely devastated and I know that in that moment my mom needed me. I was in the fortunate position where I was going through my studies to complete my diplomas and to go to my business salaries and I wasn’t didn’t have a job as well and I was living off my savings so I decided that every I was going to go back every two weeks to Italy and travel two to Italy and two weeks in London. But then I looked at my finances and I couldn’t sustain that kind of lifestyle. I wasn’t earning any money and I was taking two flights and London is a very expensive city as well. 

What I decided to do is I basically made myself homeless. When I was in London I was sleeping in parks, streets, and tube stations whatever and wherever there was a Wi-Fi I was there during the day and I was going through my studies and still learning and then I was going back to Italy I was there to support my mom and still going through my studies. And that was one of the best experiences of my life because I’ve learned what it was like to live with nothing. I think that everyone should have the experience not to be homeless but to live with nothing because it makes you appreciate 15 20 times hundred times more every small thing that you have and that’s what happened to me and so I’m happy that I made the decision because I knew that my mom needed help she needed me there, and my mom didn’t know anything at the time otherwise she would never allow that, she didn’t know I quit my job she thought that was taking two weeks holiday at a time to be with her, and that went on for six months. And then when mom was better I went and find a part-time job because I had no money at all, deplete all of my savings and then I started building my business from there. 

Jim Rembach:     I have to say that I think you’re the first person who I’ve ever heard became homeless by choice. 

Simone Vicenzi:     I don’t know anyone else too. 

Jim Rembach:     I can’t even imagine coming to that conclusion and making that decision and how you—

Simone Vicenzi:     For me was it wasn’t a tough decision that’s the thing of the story, it was logical I am that kind of person and I’ve always been. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get what I want. I don’t care how long it takes I don’t care how hard I had to work I don’t care whatever situations I’m in I have just this winning attitude that I don’t care about the circumstances I’m in and I was born that way that’s always been me I’m super competitive. I play basketball in the national league here in the UK for example and I’m pretty sure. I’m not like the average player that you expected as basketball player I’m a short Italian guy but I’ll go to my training every single day and play by myself and do whatever is required for me to compensate what Mother Nature didn’t give me with. My wife she didn’t even like me she didn’t even want to date me and it took me like more of a month, some people call it stalking, t to get her to actually consider me. I’m the kind of person who never gives up and for me that is just the logical decision, this is what I got to do. What do I have? Great I’ll do it. 

Jim Rembach:     Well that resilience is something definitely shoot, I think I would say a lot of people would covet to have that kind of resilience and be able to do what you need to do in order to be able to go forward. A lot of people won’t take the two, three, four steps back in order to ultimately get to ten steps forward that that vision is oftentimes lost. 

Simone Vicenzi:     That’s why I think I’m better lucky, we say count your blessings and everyone has a different blessing this is mine and everyone has theirs. It’s a personality that I thank God for having that and giving me this confidence because that’s what made me—at the age of 26 become one of the most influential migrant entrepreneurs here in London and more and more and more. And that’s all down to my opinion that resilience and I’m thankful to God whatever you believe in, if you believe in God or not whatever I’m thankful that that’s part of me. 

Jim Rembach:     Yes, I’m a person of strong faith and oftentimes I’ve shared in the show and I do believe that those things come from him oftentimes we just don’t find our blessing we all do have them and we have. We have to learn how to find them and then have to own them and continue to grow them. When I start thinking about all these things that you have going on and being a very young man and I could definitely see a family coming in front of you—

Simone Vicenzi:     Yeah, coming soon.

Jim Rembach:     Good luck with that.

Simone Vicenzi:     I need it.  

Jim Rembach:     I’m sure you have a lot of goals but if there was one that you could focus in on what would it be?

Simone Vicenzi:     On a personal level, yeah, having a family having kids that’s on a personal level that’s coming next year probably and that’s going to be a completely new chapter of my life. Every blessing comes with a curse at the same time there is the Ying and Yang in everything. My personality I’m incredibly driven and I can get things done and I don’t need anyone around me then that also impacts everything else that I’m doing so it took me a long time to become a team player not only in my business but also with my wife and she has to remind me constantly, hey we are the two of us you’re not by yourself anymore. And with the family coming up it’s going to be even more difficult because I’m just used to have an idea and crack on with that. I want to do something no problem I’ll do it without really thinking about the consequences that can create, it’s just my personality. When you have a family that’s different, I’m sure you know that better than me I’ve heard this. So on a personal level that’s my goal and then on the business level is to get GTex to be the number one community in the UK for experts and speakers and trainers to be the number one hub where they think about training. I’m a consultant I’m a speaker and trainer when I think about training I go with GTex and that’s the most logical choice for me, and that’s where we are building a company. 

Jim Rembach:     And the Fast Leader legion wishes you the very best. 

 

Need a powerful and entertaining way to ignite your next conference, retreat or team-building session? My keynotes 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.

 

Alright, here we go Fast Leader legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Simone, the Hump Day Hoedown is a 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 a robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Simone Vincenzi, are you ready to hoedown? 

 

Simone Vicenzi:     I’m ready to hold down.

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

Simone Vicenzi:     Making decision without thinking about consequences. 

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

Simone Vicenzi:     Lead by example.

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

Simone Vicenzi:     My resilience. 

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

Simone Vicenzi:     My team. 

Jim Rembach:     What would be one book that you’d recommend to our listeners and it could be from any genre?

Simone Vicenzi:     Love as a book I love, The Richest Man in Babylon—it’s a financial book.

Jim Rembach:     Okay Fast Leader listeners you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/SimoneVincenzi. Okay, Simone, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imaging 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. So what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why? Heck this was just three years ago.

Simone Vicenzi:     Exactly, exactly pretty easy to remember even if it’s four or five years ago. A lot change in five years—biggest piece of advice—what should I bring? Strategy—bring more awareness of what I was doing and actually asked for advice, that’s probably the best one. Asking for advice because I was doing too much by myself and that was very stupid. Sometimes necessary but sometimes I could have be more humble and say, hey I need help. 

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

Simone Vicenzi:     Yeah, absolutely. There are two places where you can connect with me, you’re listening to a podcast so you probably like podcasts and you can join my podcast which is, Explode your expert biz, you can find it on any podcasting platform. The other option is to join our Facebook group, if you’re going on Facebook which is, guess what? Explode your expert biz, on Facebook and you can get a lot of free training on how to be a great consultant, speaker, trainer in your field.

Jim Rembach:     Simone Vincenzi, 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 a fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.

END OF AUDIO

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Erik Seversen Ordinary to Extraordinary

149: Erik Seversen: I realized part of the problem was myself

Erik Seversen Show Notes Page

Erik Seversen had a horrible string of hiring the wrong person. That’s when he needed to do something different. He decided to totally change the interview process and his leadership style. Erik started focusing more on using emotional intelligence to move forward and applying it to his new English as a second language startup.

Erik grew up in Parkland, Washington, which was a quasi-meeting ground between really rural and the “big” city of Tacoma. He was the third of three children from a middle-class family, and Erik’s biggest decision every morning was whether to take the bus or walk to school.

It wasn’t a bad childhood, but Erik struggled with math and spelling, and although he had a loving and supportive family, he often felt out-of-place. However, Erik had a very large imagination and very large dreams, and he focused hard working toward them.

When things began to click, Erik decided to go to UCLA. He applied and was rejected, but Erik didn’t let this stop him, so studied at a community college and got into UCLA two years later. Erik had been to over 30 countries by the time he re-applied to UCLA. After graduating near the top of his class, Erik went on to get a Master’s Degree in Anthropology at University of Virginia, and he followed more opportunities teaching English as a Second Language in France, Thailand, and universities within the USA.

While teaching, Erik started a Motorcycle Touring Company and went into business for ten years. Erik is currently Director of International Business Development at EagleRider, a company he helped grow from a valuation of $7MM to over $100,000,000, but he is also applying the success formulas, motivational leadership, and entrepreneurial strategies he learned in business to Language Linq a company Erik created which aims to make lives better for English as a seconds language professionals who need to improve English for their career.

Erik lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two kids of eleven and thirteen, and he’s now learned from people in over 80 countries.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“If you’re helping somebody, you’re not afraid of anything.” -Erik Seversen Click to Tweet

“Fear goes away if you’re helping somebody.” -Erik Seversen Click to Tweet 

“Doing things for employees, that made them give back more.” -Erik Seversen Click to Tweet

“You don’t have to be confident, but appearing confident goes a long way.” -Erik Seversen Click to Tweet 

“Knowledge is awesome and action is way better.” -Erik Seversen Click to Tweet 

“Pull the trigger before you’re absolutely ready.” -Erik Seversen Click to Tweet 

“The time is never, ever going to be perfect.” -Erik Seversen Click to Tweet 

“We need to create our own paths, often.” -Erik Seversen Click to Tweet 

“Give more and it comes back to you.” -Erik Seversen Click to Tweet 

“Getting past fear leads to really good things.” -Erik Seversen Click to Tweet 

“Turn fear into positive motivated energy.” -Erik Seversen Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Erik Seversen had a horrible string of hiring the wrong person. That’s when he needed to do something different. He decided to totally change the interview process and his leadership style. Erik started focusing more on using emotional intelligence to move forward and applying it to his new English as a second language startup.

Advice for others

Getting past fear leads to really good things.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Time, not time management, but time.

Best Leadership Advice

Give more and it comes back to you.

Secret to Success

Praying every single day and meditating everyday.

Best tools that helps in Business or Life

Loving, compassion, and gratitude.

Recommended Reading

Ordinary to Extraordinary: http://erikseversen.com/fastleader/

The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed with Happiness

The Magic of Thinking Big

Contacting Erik Seversen

website: http://erikseversen.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/erik-seversen-56ab9b10/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ErikSeversen

Resources and Show Mentions

Erik Severson’s Fast Leader Legion Resources: http://erikseversen.com/fastleader/

Developing a Better Place to Work

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: 

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

49: Erik Seversen: I realized part of the problem was myself

 

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 improve 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 the opportunity to talk to somebody who has a really interesting perspective on the customer experience, the human experience and really globalization as a whole. Eric Seversen grew up in Parkland, Washington which was a quasi-meeting ground between really rural and the big city of Tacoma. He was the third of three children from a middle-class family and Eric’s biggest decision every morning was whether to take the bus or to walk to school. It wasn’t a bad childhood but Eric struggled with math and spelling and although he had a loving and supportive family he often felt out of place. However, Eric had a very large imagination and very large dreams and he focused on working hard towards them. When things began to click Eric decided to go to UCLA he applied and was rejected but Eric didn’t let that stop him so he studied at a community college and got into UCLA two years later.

 

Eric had been to over 30 countries by the time he reapplied to UCLA. After graduating near the top of his class Eric went on to get a Master’s Degree in Anthropology at the University of Virginia and he followed more opportunities teaching English as a Second Language in France Thailand and universities within the USA. While teaching, Eric started a motorcycle touring company and went into business for ten years. Eric is currently director of International Business Development at Eagle Rider a company he helped grow from a valuation of seven million to over a hundred million dollars. He’s also applying the successful formulas of motivational leadership and entrepreneurial strategies that he learned in business to Language Link a company Eric created which aims to make lives better for English-as-a-second-language professionals who need to improve English for their careers. Eric currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two kids of 11 and 13 and he’s now learned from people in over 80 countries. Erik Seversen are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Erick Seversen:   I am absolutely excited to go over the hump Jim. How are you doing?

 

Jim Rembach:   I’m doing great. I’m glad you’re here. I’ve given our Legion 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? 

 

Erick Seversen:   Yeah, definitely. My work passion is just that, you mentioned a little bit about taking business strategies. For the for the last 10 years I’ve been reading every business book there is from Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill to the more contemporary ones Brendon Burchard and I’m using these in business and its really been successful and I realized not a lot of people are using these same strategies that are successful in language. So, I created Language Link and my goal is to take these students mostly ESL English as a second language students coming to the United States. They’re smart people but they struggled and because they know more English in their head then they think they do so their confidence is broken a little bit so I’m taking these business success strategies applying it to language and allowing them to speak confidently and better and their lives really improve by it. It’s just exciting for me to see their lives improve. 

 

Jim Rembach:   You talked about you talk about these concepts and people not really applying them to English as a second language or language learning but there’s companies like Rosetta Stone huge company grown like crazy, what do you mean by—you don’t see these models? What’s the difference?

 

Erick Seversen:   Oh, yeah. Rosetta Stone is actually great, I really enjoy it. And it’s got a very nice formula for how to learn a second language independently on a computer, what I’m going for is the student who’s coming over from a different country maybe an intermediate level, advanced level even some high intermediate but they don’t know how to connect with the language. On Rosetta Stone I can learn how to conjugate a verb all day long I can learn the pronunciation all day long but what I don’t know is that there’s a difference in teaching styles in Japan and the United States for example. In Japan the difference between a teacher’s level and a student’s level is a lot wider there’s not supposed to be as much direct engagement it might even seem rude in classes in Japan. Whereas in the United States you’ve got a really smart student who doesn’t say a word in class because they don’t want to act impolite towards the teacher the teacher gives them a bad participation grade because they’re not engaging in class. So, there’s a little thing to do to just understand the difference, making friends with people in a different country so a strategy—the best way to learn language often is just familiarity and speaking it with people. 

 

But you get so many students who come to United States or Australia or the UK to learn English and they find a little bubble of either aloneness which is a problem in itself, I address homesick on being alone or they get a small group of people from their country and have a good time together but they’re still speaking their native language and they don’t know how to break out and meet another student who speaks English only. One strategy for example is to know exactly where your class is about 10 minutes before your class get across campus and start walking towards your class and then just look for somebody who’s walking alone who look walking the same direction and he looks like a person you’d be interested in speaking with and say, “Excuse me, do you know where this classroom is? Chances are they’re already walking in that direction they’re going to hear your accent they’re going to want to speak to a foreigner as well they’re going to walk with you and talk with you as they get you to your class and by the end of the eight minutes it takes to get to class there’s a good chance that you have a meeting for a coffee and become friends after that. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Gosh. Thanks for sharing that, that perspective was really vital. I also started thinking as you were talking about the growth that you’ve had at Eagle Rider and that to me listening to you talk and whether or not it’s intentional per se it sounds to me like you’ve got to focus on the customer that others just fail to possess.

 

Erick Seversen:   Oh, my Gosh. One of the models of the company is we provide dreams, we rent dreams, we rent motorcycles as the pith of the company and we sure do. We provide experiences that change people’s lives. I literally can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard somebody say, “This trip changed my life or best trip of my life” and about 50-60 percent of our customers are people who come from Australia from Europe from Japan, Germany to come ride in the United States on a motorcycle, they’re on a Harley-Davidson riding up Route 66.  I’ve seen big huge bikers, tattooed bikers, almost weeping at the end of the trip talking about what a great life-changing experience they had because they’ve been dreaming about it since they were kids, it really is a beautiful thing. So, for the customer service directly we have that and also we have somebody in accounting or somebody in IT who’s having a bad day sometimes we say, Hey, walk out front on the Saturday don’t go to your desk until 11:30 on a Saturday or Friday morning I want you to go back and see the customers for a little bit just go interact with the customers. Always it gives them that revived life to get to work and just really enjoy what they’re doing knowing that they’re doing an accounting spreadsheet but what they’re doing is they’re providing dreams for people, real people.

 

Jim Rembach:   That’s a great lesson that I think many organizations can learn from a customer focus, customer centricity. Knowing that people have to have that connection with the consumer, our customer even when they’re in the back office and don’t necessarily interact with them daily. They do need to understand where their purpose is and how they’re making a difference to the overall health and wealth and viability of the organization.

 

Erick Seversen:    Absolutely.

 

Jim Rembach:   When you start thinking about all of the things that you’ve been working on for the past couple years and where you’re headed right now, I think we also talked off mic and you have a new book coming out which is, Ordinary to Extraordinary, what is that all about? The title seems easy but what’s inside?

 

Erick Seversen:   Yeah. In the bio you read at the start I was an average kid in an average neighborhood and my favorite quote is Elon Musk and is this, I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary, and simply I did that myself. I’m an average kid don’t know big support I ended up mowing lawns when I was 19 years old. Flying to London and hitchhiking down to Africa, because I wanted to see elephants and giraffes basically really I wanted to see what Africa was about as a 19 year old, and nobody helped me do that but I had a big dream big goal I worked hard to make that happen. I don’t really consider myself extraordinary but in the end I’ve been to over 80 countries lived in five, I’ve done some great things in business as well. But my actions are extraordinary because I didn’t let people say things that they thought were impossible weren’t possible, I didn’t listen to them. So that’s where the title of the book came from and the funny thing is I ended up writing 42 first-person true narratives about things that have happened,. I’ve had a machine gun in my mouth in Nigeria. I lived with the Indians in South America for a while. I’ve climb some mountains around the world. I’ve had a girlfriend in Paris and that was a great story, and so I wrote these stories and my editor said, “You know what Erik, you’re ten friends are going to love this. And I go, “That’s not a compliment is it?” He said, “No.” So, I had to restructure it with what do we get out of this? And what the book does is it groups all of those stories and some of them deal with  being in an outlaw bike Clubhouse with tattooed monsters of AK47 sets tattooed on their necks and what life is like with these people and it was engaging I learned so much from them and there’s a section in there on that. But I just had the stories as they were which was neat but what I did is I added a component of, what can we get from this? And there’s a book called The Power of Meaning by Emily Isfahani Smith, which is genius, it came out this year. It talks about four pillars of meaning—they are belonging, our purpose, transcendence, and storytelling. I grouped all of those 42 narratives into one of those four pillars and I kind of show the reader how that influenced my life, how it gave meaning to my life and it will let the reader recognize where they’re lacking. Are they lacking in belonging? Are they lacking in purpose? Are they lacking in storytelling? It’s been really fun to create a narrative throughout this book of a bunch of narratives. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, so for me listening to you chat about your escapades and your travels I started thinking to myself—and you start talking about having some struggles as kid in school, applying to UCLA not getting in but not stopping, for you it seems like there’s no fear that you’ve got this  resiliency. But I when I start looking at the majority of people is that fear handcuffs them it keeps them from sticking their neck out it keeps them from doing that trouble because—you know what? I might get a gun stuck in my mouth. So, how do you push yourself past the fear or is it that—you know what? That’s just something that doesn’t fire in my head. 

 

Erick Seversen:   No. I was actually quite nervous growing up. I was nervous during my travels but I learned I’m going to say two things about fear, the first one is I definitely felt fear. Every time I walked huge sections in Africa, sometimes 60 miles in a row, and when I’m getting into evening sometime  I’ve been walking all day alone out in in the desert and all of a sudden I’m approaching some small village, I don’t know if they’re going to like me. I don’t know where I’m going to stay this night I don’t—so this nervousness is there but I overcame it and I realized that by just asking people and helping people smiling I consider to be even some helping somebody. Adam Flores he’s a guy who does business seminars down in San Diego, he says I just learned this two weeks ago from him he said, “If you’re helping somebody you’re not afraid of anything.” Fear goes away if you’re helping somebody. The quick example of this was he said, Hey would anybody—if I say, can you go give a dollar to the homeless guy out in front of the hotel? Who would not be afraid of doing that? Everybody raised the hand then he said, “Hey, who would like to go up to the man in a business suit standing in line checking in and ask for a dollar from him?” And everybody was feared they don’t want to go there and be embarrassed. The point is when you’re doing something good for somebody the fear goes away.

 

Jim Rembach:   Now that’s a really good point and I never really thought about. I know now for me talked about having kids is that maybe I need to do more of that because one of the things I do and I’ve shared with this before on the show you can call it brainwashing or whatever you want—yes it is and it you don’t like it send me an email and I’ll delete it. When I ask my kids, why did God put you on earth? To help others. 

 

Erick Seversen:   Oh, great, that’s beautiful. Jim, that is so awesome. 

 

Jim Rembach:   If you just focus on that, it kind of removes you and your fear and your ego and you’re—you talked about kids and there are people that are saying and speaking up in a classroom here in the States is there’s a lot of reasons because they don’t to look stupid.

 

Erick Seversen:   Exactly. 

 

Jim Rembach:   –so I just keep my mouth shut that way I don’t look stupid. I think that’ll allow you to bring a lot of those humps down and you’ll be able to get over a lot easier, so thank you for sharing that. 

 

Erick Seversen:   In business one of my “aha” moments was realizing that doing things for people who work below me, for employees, that made them give back more. I wasn’t being nice to them and I wasn’t giving—when I say giving sometimes it’s teaching them something highlighting an interesting quote that I think will make this particular person’s life better that day, bringing in a small module to make them think about something different that might be better that way, focusing on the why so they can understand the big picture, so I consider giving them these things and they give back tenfold. I’m not doing it to get the bigger return but it always happens. 

 

Jim Rembach:   That’s a good point. For me it’s trying to make sure that I’m not trying to do that intentionally because I want the return it’s just doing it just to do it. 

 

Erick Seversen:   Exactly right. 

 

Jim Rembach:   You talked about quotes. You talked about quote that’s important to you and we always asked for those, and thanks for sharing that, you got to that point before I did. I know you shared a lot of stories talking about your travels and things like that talking about work but can you focus in and give us some details on one particular time where you had to get over the hump and it made a difference for you? 

 

Erick Seversen:   Let me think of a time—this is when I was trying to hire somebody and the role was–I’m kind of an assistant role they had a reporting role and I had a horrible string of three people in a row didn’t make it past their 90-day probation, in fact, they didn’t make it past three weeks. And so something was wrong and so two things happen, the first that thing happened was I decided to have a working interview where I’d choose the one I liked out of the fifty people are who applied and I’d say, Okay, you’re not hired but I like you I want to pay you for a full day’s work on Monday and you’re going to come in and you’re going to get paid for this day no matter what but you’re not hired at the end of the day we’re going to have a discussion and either you’re hired or here’s your money have a great life and it helps so much. The first guy I hop in an hour half into it I walked by he was in a cube I walked by his cubicle and he’s on his phone that just didn’t fly if you’re on your phone an hour and a half into a job that you’re going to have I don’t think that’s going to work very well. 

 

I actually did a probing question just to make sure it was an emergency, it wasn’t. And then the next the next one, full day working interview, he had great Excel sheet all over his resume how good he was at Excel. I had a very basic Excel work that I wanted him to create and it wasn’t nearly as polish—he was a nice guy and I thanked him very much I paid him at the end of the day and that was it. The third one she came in she was good with the people her Excel skills were adequate and I saw her work and she did really good and so she was hired and that’s when I mentioned giving that it was her that I actually started working on to really be intentional about—I realized part of the problem was myself. I was trying to lead a millennial by giving a directive and expecting it be done in a certain amount of time and I realized that wasn’t right. The way I proposed something to get done changed, I didn’t talked about why I talked about how this report, that somebody was creating, is going to benefit some of the people that I’m going to show it. So my leadership style changed a lot—yes she’s still with the company eight years later which is awesome.

 

Jim Rembach:   That’s a great perspective of the differentiating and treating people differently it’s also as giving people an opportunity and kind of debunking some of the things that you would actually perceive when you’re going through an interview process as well, just to find out that those Excel skills were what you said.

Exactly right. So when you start thinking about her and her development I would dare to say she’s not doing the same things that she doing when you first—what is she doing now? 

 

Erick Seversen:   Now she’s got into—we have about 4,000 motorcycles and now it’s about 2,500 we become more efficient with them, and she’s titling. She has to be the intermediary between the B and B to make sure all those bikes are titled. She worked at the fleet department to make sure bikes all over the country get—can you imagine how hard it is to get your little slip in DMV and check if you have a smog check or not and get it paid and get a sticker on your license plate? She does that to 2500 vehicles at a time.

 

Jim Rembach:   Oh, my goodness. 

 

Erick Seversen:   That’s pretty impressive. 

 

Jim Rembach:   It is pretty impressive. Okay, so when you start thinking about this current work that you’re doing in regards to English is a second language and you start talking about the differences in how people learn the cultural differences and all of those things, how do you separate the learning or focus in on the learning piece and the individual piece? Because you even mentioned it with the young lady who said, hey, your Excel skills weren’t that great but it’s these other things that were important and we’ll teach her the technical Excel stuff, how are you actually focusing in on developing and getting people to gain some competencies in the language speaking piece but then also gain some competencies and skills and their emotional intelligence and becoming a more effective person?

 

Erick Seversen:   Actually, I focus more on the latter on the emotional intelligence of the language learning there are a lot of good schools out there. The community college I went to was Green River Community College now it’s Green River College so that’s a four-year things up in Washington State, they actually have a huge international program and they really work on cultivating the student and acclimatizing them and helping them build friendships and bonds and teaching them some of the differences between culture and how language and culture are the same but a lot of other schools don’t. There are a lot of very, very good skills taught at different universities at different community colleges at different language skills but not many are focusing on the integration the emotional intelligence of the speaking and a lot of the students they have things in their mind but they can’t release it because they’re scared to speak and make mistakes. So, I try and eliminate that fear. I take some things from certain books and one of them talks about—you don’t have to be confident but appearing confident goes a long way and you can do that by looking somebody in the eye, you can do that by a good handshake, you can do that by walking 25% faster than you normally would. Those little things I would focus on more than the actual language skills. I do focus on—I know the language skills I’ve taught it for ten years and I do that as well but that’s not the biggest focus. I try and get into things like meditating in English. I’ve got a 15-minute meditation I’ve created where somebody can listen to it. It’s a guided meditation and it basically says, your English will be easy today and it allows them to be relaxed in their own head and have a conversation with a fictitious character in their own head in English and they’re always shocked about how good they speak to themselves in their head they can speak better to themselves on their head than they can to somebody on the sidewalk. They can translate that into real English because they now they know what’s inside of them.

 

Jim Rembach:   So, as you are talking and explaining that to me I started thinking definitely about the whole Napoleon Hill influence and having your affirmations and being able to really shape your mind. And you start talking about choosing now it’s coming full circle for me and I appreciate it we’re having this conversation long enough you know how people can choose to be extraordinary.

 

Erick Seversen:   Exactly.

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, so when you start talking about building a particular organization, you’ve done it with the motorcycle ride share company, you’re trying to do it with the current company, if you were to say, I am trying to do the same thing either within my own organization as an entrepreneur or do my own gig, where do people really need to focus their efforts and activity?

 

Erick Seversen:   Oh, yeah, so I’ve got a great answer I’m going to clarify something. I started a company called Ride Free Motorcycle Tours, that was my company I owned it and I ended up selling it and then and I worked for Eagle Rider, I wasn’t one of the founders Eagle Rider but I was instrumental in helping it grow and I’m still with Eagle Rider as well. For starting up entrepreneur it’s this—knowledge is awesome and action is way better. I’ve seen so many people who have read the Brendon Burchard stuff who’ve read Tony Robbins they know it inside it out they’ve listened to Napoleon Hill stuff and but they’ve got all of this knowledge and they’re not really doing as much with it because learning it is exciting in itself and I think a lot of people get caught up in to the learning aspect of it but it doesn’t mean anything until you absolutely start to apply it. So the one thing is always keep learning but know when it’s more important than to take action towards beer business on something it’s scares you maybe which is making a call to a potential partner rather than reading the next chapter of a self-help or a motivational book.

 

Jim Rembach:   For me as you were talking I started even going back to that whole fear thing. I don’t want to look like a fool, I don’t want to make a mistake, I don’t want to—and so therefore it’s got to be perfect and I’ve got to study it to the nth degree  before I take a chance.

 

Erick Seversen:   Yes. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Are you saying to me, as I was listening to you, that I just have to practice execution?

 

Erick Seversen:   Absolutely. I’m kind of laughing to myself because we had an IT guy once who in a boardroom he was in a high-level meeting he was a little bit nervous and he said everything’s going great but I’m having a hard time executing myself. Every time I hear that I think of that—absolutely I say pull the trigger before you’re absolutely ready. So many people want all of the stars to be aligned perfectly they want to know of everything in the book, they want to have the plan mapped out. I used to be more guilty about myself too and what I’ve started doing is I’ve started going when I was totally scared when I felt half prepared and I figure things out as I go and that’s really made a big, big, big difference because the time is never ever going to be perfect. At some point you need a little base but you got to go.

 

Jim Rembach:   Yeah, I think that’s a good point. Also too when you start talking about an organization, if you’re in a particular organization where you don’t feel safe enough to be able to move forward you never will move forward. 

 

Erick Seversen:   Right. It was a professor in grad school who said this to me once, she said, good classes aren’t given they’re created. If somebody has a good idea they have an idea that I’m going to propose to teach this class that doesn’t exist yet same thing with jobs even at Eagle Rider there are few jobs that I’ve had it wasn’t a position that I moved into it was a created position because it made a lot of sense. I think we need to create our own paths often don’t wait for somebody to do it for you.

 

Jim Rembach:   Very true. Okay, so talking about creating that own path—you have a book that’s going to be released, will actually put a link on your show notes page to get more information on that, I even get a discount and some other resources and tools we’ll do that—

 

Erick Seversen:   I have a landing page also that ericseversen.com/fast leader and some of the things we’ve talked about, some pictures of the places I’ve traveled, like you said the book will be up there for 50% off for you nation and so that’s good. 

 

Jim Rembach:   That’s awesome and that’ll also be on a link line of show notes page, so you can always come to Eric’s episode on show notes page and get a direct link to that if you can’t remember the URL—you got the kids, the business you’re starting, the business you’re working for, the book you release, you’ve got a lot of things going on.

 

Erick Seversen:   Oh, yes I do. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, we have to narrow and focus because we know that’s an important—Napoleon Hill too as well as many of those other guys to come up focus, right? What’s one goal that you’re focused on? 

 

Erick Seversen:   The first thing that pops to mind is one-third of a triangle. The first thing that popped to mind is is climbing Mount Elbrus, it’s the highest mountain in Russia and climbing mountain is my passion outside of work. I conquered Gowen South America’s another big one, so that’s the self in this triangle. I need to take care of myself even if it’s selfish away from—my kids are too young to climb Everest, my wife in not going to go to Russia with me for two weeks so that’s one. The other side of the triangle is my work. I’m balancing the Eagle Rider and my language link and that’s just been a blast working hard. I wake up really early in the morning so that I have time to do both and I love it. I can’t wait to wake up every single morning when I’m going to bed. The other part is family. If my kids have a soccer game I’m going to make a choice, do I miss this Wednesday afternoon soccer game and work, because I know I need to? Or do I take work off and go to the soccer game? Whatever I choose to do I don’t focus and dwell on the other one. My kids not going to cry if I miss his soccer game and I’m not going to cry about missing it if I chose to work and if I go to the soccer game I’m not going to be worried about those three phones that I might miss. 

 

Jim Rembach:   That’s good perspective.

 

Erick Seversen:   So balancing that triangle of self-life and family is my biggest goal right now. 

 

Jim Rembach:   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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Jim Rembach:   Alright here we go Fast Leader legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Erik, the hump day hoedown is a 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 a robust get rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Erik Serversen, are you ready to hoedown?

 

Erick Seversen:   Yes I am. 

 

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

 

Erik Seversen:   Time. Not time management because I’m pretty good at it, it’s time. I try like Jockey Will Nick does and wake up early but I can’t do this—4:30 in the morning, so I do the best I can, but it is time. 

 

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

 

Erick Seversen:   Give more and it comes back to you.

 

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

 

Erick Seversen:   Praying every single day and I also meditate every single day. I pray multiple times throughout the day and I meditate and that time really I think helps me get more done in my 24-hours of a day.

 

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

 

Erick Seversen:   Loving and compassion and gratitude. Loving and gratitude—

 

Jim Rembach:   What would be one book that you’d recommend to our listeners it could be from any genre, of course we’ll put that the link that we had mentioned to your upcoming book Ordinary to Extraordinary, and the landing page as well.

 

Erick Seversen:   It’s going to be, The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. This book is written in 1959, every single time I read it I get more out of it and it just has so many gems on how we can be more successful with small changes in our life and thinking absolutely huge with big tall goals. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, Fast Leader legion you can find links to that and other bonus information for today’s show by going to fastleader.net/ Erik Seversen. Okay, Erik, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity go back to the age 25 and you’ve been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skill that you have now back with you. But you can’t take everything back you can only choose one. What skill or a piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

Erick Seversen:   I would take back the piece of advice that—getting past fear leads to really good things. I was pretty good about it when I was 25 but I was still experimenting and I was fearful of what’s going to happen in my future and so now seeing where it’s come and that strategy has paid off, so work through fears turn fear into positive energy, motivated energy. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Erik, 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? 

 

Erick Seversen:   Erik at erikseversen.com, the website has links to all that and the easiest way to get to me is just through there.

 

Jim Rembach:   Erik Seversen, 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.

 

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086: Ann Parker: I had kind of lost my power

Ann Parker Show Notes

Ann Parker was in her twenties and had become a shrunken version of herself. She lost confidence in herself and lost her identity. Her world and her future came crashing down and that’s when she reached inside and climbed out. Listen to Ann tell her story of finding new strength.

Ann Parker was born and raised in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania with an older sister and a younger brother with parents that raised them to be of strong faith.

Ann was a confident person in her youth, with a strong faith in God a personal passion for positively leading and influencing others. But she had to re-make and rediscover herself in her late 20s after a difficult divorce with her high school sweetheart.

The marriage wrecked her. As she was emerging from the “black hole” of divorce she learned to become grateful for all that the experience taught her about loving herself and others. Now, Ann feels lucky to have married again to the best man she’s ever known.

Ann’s divorce experience taught her how important it is to be true to yourself. One’s leadership “brand” should be consistent throughout your personal and professional life. Until you know yourself well – your strengths, passions, power, and needs for growth, you will not be as effective leading other people to their own places of influence.

Empathy and respect are huge for Ann. She feels that you can understand anyone you come across in life if you just make it a priority to see the world through their eyes. Hate, jealousy, greed, and shame cannot thrive when you allow people to be who they are and love them for who they are, regardless of your personal biases and limited worldview.

Ann is currently the senior manager of the Human Capital Community of Practice and the Senior Leaders & Executives Community of Practice at ATD (Association for Talent Development). At ATD Ann has had the privilege to talk to numerous training and development practitioners, hear from a variety of prominent industry thought leaders, and develop a rich understanding of the profession’s content.

In addition to her full-time work at ATD, she is a freelance blogger for The Huffington Post and a freelance writer/editor for Brighter Strategies.

Ann currently lives in Woodbridge, Virginia with her husband where they are anxiously awaiting the birth of their first child.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“People have skills that get overlooked because of stringent job requirements.” -Ann Parker Click to Tweet

“I am the best leader when I am me.” -Ann Parker Click to Tweet 

“Who you are as a leader at work is who you should be as a leader at home.” -Ann Parker Click to Tweet 

“I’m am effective as a leader when I am playing to my strengths.” -Ann Parker Click to Tweet 

“Allowing yourself to be who you are is not easy.” -Ann Parker Click to Tweet 

“Let the folks that you mange know that you need their strength.” -Ann Parker Click to Tweet 

“Love yourself first; then you are able to be an incredible leader to other people.” -Ann Parker Click to Tweet 

“Recognize self-doubt and call it out.” -Ann Parker Click to Tweet 

“You are the best leader when you are you.” -Ann Parker Click to Tweet 

“Not every decision you make has to be perfect.” -Ann Parker Click to Tweet 

“There is not always a right choice; just make a decision.” -Ann Parker Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Ann Parker was in her twenties and had become a shrunken version of herself. She lost confidence in herself and lost her identity. Her world and her future came crashing down and that’s when she reached inside and climbed out. Listen to Ann tell her story of finding new strength.

Advice for others

Not every decision you make has to be perfect. You can be faced with choice A or choice B and both are okay, just make a decision.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Self-doubt is something that creeps up in me.

Best Leadership Advice Received

You are the best leader when you are you.

Secret to Success

I am pretty empathetic. I like to see the world from their eyes and worldview.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

Faith, faith in myself. Faith in five people who I know will love me unconditionally no matter what. And faith in my God.

Recommended Reading

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Rising Strong

Contacting Ann

Website: http://www.td.org/CTDO

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ann-parker-280313a

Twitter: https://twitter.com/atdsrleaders

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: 

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

086: Ann Parker: I had kind of lost my power

 

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we uncover the leadership like hat that help you to experience, break out performance faster and rocket to success. 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 keynotes 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. 

 

Alright Fast Leader Legion I can’t wait to meet with our guest today because for the past several years she’s been learning about other fast leaders and the mentors that guide them. Ann Parker was born and raised in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania with an older sister and younger brother and with parents that raised them to be of strong faith. Ann was a confident person in her youth with a personal passion for positively leading and influencing others. But she had to remake and rediscover herself in her late 20’s after a difficult divorce with her high school sweetheart, the marriage rector. As she was emerging from the black hole of divorce, she learn to become grateful for all the experience had taught her about loving herself and others. Now Ann feels lucky to have married again to the best man she’s ever known. Ann’s divorce experience taught her how important it is to be true to self, ones leadership brand should be consistent throughout your personal and professional life until you know yourself well your strengths, passions, power and need for growth you will not be as effective leading other people to their own places of influence. Ann is currently the senior manager of the Human Capital Community of Practice and the senior leaders and executives community of practice at ATD, The Association for Talent Development.

 

At ATD, Ann has had the privilege to talk to numerous training and development practitioners hearing from a variety of prominent industry taught leaders and developing a rich understanding of the professions content. In addition to her full-time work at ATD she is a freelance blogger for the Huffington Post and a freelance writer/editor for Brighter Strategies. Ann currently lives in Woodbridge, Virginia with her husband where they’re anxiously awaiting the birth of their first child. Ann Parker, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Ann Parker:    I’m ready. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Alright. I’ve given our listeners a little bit about you but can you tell us which are current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?

 

Ann Parker:    Yeah, sure. So, I’m really lucky to be at ATD, Association for Talent Development for eight and half years now. And I’ve been challenged and grown here and seen my career track changed several times. I started in writing and editing for the membership publication magazine and now I’m in the communities of practice department, which is really just a member focus department. I think right now I’m really focus more on leadership and kind of influence in a greater role and a greater space in the organization. And I’m also for the members looking at ATD’s members who are talent development professionals and my specific membership segment is senior leaders and executives in that space. I’m really serving them well and I’m getting to know who they are and what they want from us as a professional membership association. 

 

And currently, I’m working on a really cool magazine for this audience it’s called Chief Talent Development Officer also CTDO is the acronym for that. And this is a free quarterly digital magazine so anyone can subscribe and the content is very high level, again its focus for talent development executives and it’s also focused on any leader in the organization. And the content show how developing people matters. And we talk about topic such as leadership development, change management, employee engagement and those kinds of things. So, I’m really excited and passionate about that currently and also gives me the chance to write and edit again for ATD which is one of my biggest hobbies and personal passion as well. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Thanks for sharing that and there’s something that you had mentioned that to me kind of struck a chord and I want to make sure that all of our listeners hone in on this particular fact and that is you don’t have to have the title of talent development in order to be focused on developing talent.

 

Ann Parker:    Correct, yeah. ATD really looks at a broad audience and we think about talent development it’s anywhere from someone who’s title is talent development officer to trainer, HR, human capital, organization development and even a manager. So anyone who’s in the role of mentoring, coaching, managing, developing another person, so any leader if you think about it that way. The stuff that we offer as an association and the magazine CTDO, specifically, is for anyone. And I think specially in the kind of the workplace today where change is constant and there’s a really interesting generation dynamic going on in the workplace this is exciting, inspiring and I find it to be pretty cool. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Well, there’s also one thing for me that when I start thinking about what you’re talking to is that people think or assume that innovation really comes from the lightbulb moment it is that, “Hey, I got this idea that’s no brand-new no one has ever taught of it before” that’s truly not the case.  And when you start thinking about coming up with something that is unique and different and that can make a difference. And so for me, I have found some of my best content, ideas, elements that I can now combine with something else to come up with something better when I look outside of my own industry, when I look outside of what my core skills were it was that expansion that cause me to actually expand, if that make sense. 

 

Ann Parker:    Yeah, absolutely. I think when I found that on my own personal work that when I can’t come up with my own personal “aha moments” on my own. And really when I surround myself with people who have different strengths, different ideas, who see the world differently we can kind of all put that together and create some really actionable ideas that are truly innovative. And I think the same goes for—we look at how you hire people for the workforce and exactly what you’re talking about Jim. 

 

Jim Rembach:    You know that’s a really good point. I kind of had a somewhat of a dispute, I guess you’d say let’s put it that way cause that’s friendly, with somebody who was talking about a particular job that they were trying to seek, a candidate for and one of the requirements they had within that particular job was something about having a 10 years of experience in that particular industry but when I look at the rest of the role I’m like, is that really a need? In fact, when you start thinking of having 10 years of experience only in that particular role, how much diversity? How much creativity? How much opportunity is being brought to your particular organization if you’re going to put people in that tiny box? 

 

Ann Parker:    Right. I think that’s extremely frustrating. And I think even if you look at job descriptions now, personally for me when you get education requirements—I think so many people have skills, and ideas, and viewpoints to add are just overlooked because of stringent and all the requirements like that I can agree with you, I think people need to look at not just a role and kind of who that person was already maybe that exceeded the role but what they want for the organization, what this role could do, what does this job position could do and then kind of hire to that.

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s for sure. Now, I know that having opportunity to chat with you briefly a couple of times and also learning more about you is that you’re a person who seeks inspiration. You had written a little bit about someone who you met recently, I’m a fan too of Berne Brown and some of her work and I try to get her on the show but she is just so popular right now that I can’t get her, but we seek out inspirations from others in order to help give us that extra bit of confidence to move forward and go down a particular path that we wouldn’t go through before or go to before and we use quotes on the show, is there a quote or two that kind of stands up for you that you can share with us?

 

Ann Parker:    Yeah, sure. I think about my personal leadership mantra, my personal leadership philosophy it would really be that, “I am the best leader when I am me.” And this kind of a quote that I’ve recited over and over to myself for the past few years. I went through a leadership development program here at ATD, I had the opportunity to go through that, it was a one on one coaching time along with some workshops. And I went into that experience, I was really so excited about it and I should mention I like to be inspired and I think I’m a pretty self-aware person and pretty reflective and I like to search for constant growth and development in my life. I was so excited with this opportunity. I went in thinking I had a certain number of things about myself that I wanted to change to be a better leader. I’m not decisive enough. I’m not assertive enough. I really need to develop my strategic thinking capabilities, these are all kinds of things that are in my head that I was thinking when I go in to this workshop. 

 

So it was all about developing your own leadership brand. And I learned that that really transcends beyond just your professional work life to your personal life as well. Who you are as a leader at work it’s who you should be as a leader at home, with friends, with your church or community. And so that was an eye opener to me that consistency which makes sense. And I kind of learn through the process coaching at the workshop that when I’m trying to master up these skills that I—I see my CEO, my Director that I think I need to attain, I’m going to be effective as a leader when I’m me and I am playing to my strengths as best as I can. And so that was kind of an eye opening epiphany for me, if you will and I think it’s a pretty simple concepts for it to really sink in my bones was pretty cool. So come into terms with that and then really looking at what I have to offer as a leader and how I can best influence people and developing those skills and certainly that all ties in to Brené Brown’s work I think the humanness of leadership when you allow yourself to be you, to be who you are to be authentic. Brené talks about a lot of authenticity and vulnerability, it’s not easy it really takes a lot of courage. So, I think along with learning that through the coaching experience and reading Brené’s work was really an inspirational and transformational moment for me and my personal leadership.

 

Jim Rembach:     And I would say that listening to you talk, and thanks for sharing that, is that many of the things that you’re referring to I think go on throughout our lives. I know for me I still struggle with looking at somebody else who I admire and saying, hey, I should do more of that or be more like that, and I have to stop myself because I start feeling like I’m deficient and then I can’t bring my whole self to the situation or the interaction because I feel like I don’t have as much confidence, this is what it comes down to.

 

Ann Parker:    Absolutely.  I agree, I think that’s an ongoing struggle something that we’re going to—as people do throughout their whole lives, it’s a process. I think even just being real about that sometimes in certain ways as a leader is respected letting the folks I manage know that. I need them, I need their strength, I need their skills and when they do all they can and they are best selves that’s when we all succeed.

 

Jim Rembach:     I think one of the things that stands out is really the whole concept of acceptance. And it isn’t acceptance from a deficiency perspective, a lot of people I think refer to acceptance at—oh, you’re just quitting and giving up.

 

Ann Parker:    Hmm-mm. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Well, but the thing is when we start looking at strength building and being extraordinary in regards to a strength is that what we really should be doing is putting our efforts and focus and additional learning on those strengths because it’s easier for us to expand something that we’re already strong at instead of looking and focusing in on weaknesses and trying to bolster them up. And so, I think coming to the humility, the realization talking about getting courage from that and saying, look I accept it that this isn’t one of the things I’m best at, but you know what, and you are and so I would love to collaborate with you.  

 

Ann Parker:    Yup, exactly. And it’s not easy to admit that, to yourself or to others even. And I think that’s absolutely the place where you have to get— have some humility there and find some courage to admit that and then to do what you can as well to be as you said your best self. 

 

Jim Rembach:     That’s for sure. So I know when we start talking about this stuff, the old saying and I’ve said it many times and I know I’ve said it several times in different episodes is that, the Lord didn’t give us youth and wisdom at the same time. 

And that’s for sure. 

It is. And we have to go over humps in order for us to get wiser. Is there a time where you can remember that you’ve got over a hump and you became wiser as a result can you share that with us? 

 

Ann Parker:    Yeah, yeah. So I think just personally you’ve mentioned at the beginning of my bio, I went through an early divorce and as people we go through at some point in our lives, maybe not everyone which is great, but I had kind of lost my power, if that makes sense. I become some shrunken version of myself. I was in my 20’s so certainly still kind of growing and molding as a person and myself. I been married very young and so it was kind of this personal crisis at a young age where I longer felt confident in myself. I no longer felt like I knew who I was. And kind of the world and the future that I built around myself all came crushing down and so it was kind of place a personal transformation, kind of reaching in and climbing out of that and finding myself again, I feel really grateful for the chance to do that. 

 

I think some people just going to go through their lives and life happens and you keep moving and you don’t really know who you are. You reach 50 or 60 or even 70, but I had the chance by the age when I think it really counts to kind of remake myself a little bit. So, yeah, I think for me that was kind of the biggest personal hump in my life so far. And honestly it took a lot of therapy and counselling and just a lot of honesty with myself. And came through that to really know myself better and love myself better and I think that’s kind of where it all start. I think even in your personal life and your leadership roles at work just know who you are and loving yourself then you’re able to really be an incredible leader to other people and kind of bring out the best in them. And so that’s been a pretty transformational experience for me. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Thanks for sharing that Ann and I know you’re on the better side of that caused we’ve talked about that earlier with finding the right person as well as expecting your first born. So, the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. 

 

Ann Parker:    Thank you so much. Yes I am in a great place and I am feel grateful for that and very excited to meet my child, and Thanksgiving Day is when she will be here.

 

Jim Rembach:     Now before we move on, let’s get a quick word from our sponsor: 

 

An even better place to work is an easiest solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone. Using this award winning solutions guarantee to create motivated, productive and loyal employees who have great work relationships with their colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work visit beyondmorale.com/better.

 

Alright, here we go Fast Leader listeners it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Ann, the Hump Day Hoedown is a 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. Ann Parker, are you ready to hoedown?

 

Ann Parker:    I’m ready. 

 

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

 

Ann Parker:    I think self-doubt is one thing that creeps up time and again for me and so being able to recognize when that’s happening and kind of call it out in myself and then either surround myself with people who can do what I can’t do or be honest with other when there’s something I don’t know and then again play to my strength. 

 

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

 

Ann Parker:    You are the best leader when you are you. 

 

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

 

Ann Parker:    I’m a pretty empathetic person and so I like to get to know people and see the world from their eyes and their view. I think that hatred and greed and intolerance can be avoided when people are able to as the old cliche’s—walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. And so I think I really value respect and empathy and that has helped me to be a pretty effective leader. 

 

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

 

Ann Parker:    Faith. I would say faith in myself. Faith in the five people who I know will love me unconditionally no matter what. And faith in my God. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What would be one book and it could be from any genre that you’d recommend to our listeners? 

 

Ann Parker:    Brené Brown’s, Daring Greatly and her newest as well, Rising Strong. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader listeners you can find links to that and other bonus information from today show by going to fastleader.net/Ann Parker. Okay, Ann, 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 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, so what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

Ann Parker:    Decisiveness and the ability to understand that not every decision you make has to be perfect and there is not always a right choice. So you could be faced with choice A or choice B and both are okay, just make a decision.

 

Jim Rembach:    Ann 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?

 

Ann Parker:    Yes, you can connect with me via e-mail at aparker@td.org. You could also check out my latest publication via ATD, www.td.org/ctto.

 

Jim Rembach:    Ann Parker 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 

 

[/expand]

 

 

083: Mike Wittenstein: I am by no means an actor

Mike Wittenstein Show Notes

Mike Wittenstein had not acted since his junior high school play. But he decided to take an acting class and it helped him to grow his business. Listen to Mike tell his story of how he discovered a way to improve the customer experience by using the fine art of acting in a whole new way.

Mike grew up in Orlando, FL, on the same land his great grandparents grew oranges and raised dairy cows. He was born with an entrepreneurial streak, having started a woodworking venture at age 13 which paid for his senior year abroad in Brazil.

College included another three semesters overseas (Brazil and the former USSR). The start of Mike’s professional life included stints in travel, banking and real estate.

When Mike was young, his ability to see patterns and opportunities sooner than some others put him on the outside a bit as others found him out of touch with their current reality. Once he learned to slow down and change his language from future state to current state, things got much easier.

And then Mike found his love of story and tech when he co-founded one of the world’s first digital agencies.

Mike’s entrepreneurial skills served him well as IBM’s eVisionary for Global Services where he started three consulting practices, the last one in customer experience design. Next, Mike founded Storyminers in 2002 to continue mastering the art and science of customer experience and to build the business.

Mike currently lives in Marietta, GA, living a life that can serve as an example to others, with his wife Lois and his daughter Hannah. Some weekends, he gets to build furniture in his basement woodworking shop. Mike also has a son Isaac in college at Georgia Tech.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“Do what you love and love what you do and you have a good life.” -Mike Wittenstein Click to Tweet

“Open your mind and relax your thinking and you’ll pick up on patterns.” -Mike Wittenstein Click to Tweet 

“When you’re in a service business you’re designing for other people.” -Mike Wittenstein Click to Tweet 

“Using empathy you don’t need to have lots of market research.” -Mike Wittenstein Click to Tweet 

“Get the noise in your head down to a level where you pay attention to somebody else.” -Mike Wittenstein Click to Tweet 

“Measurement has a really strong bias in it.” -Mike Wittenstein Click to Tweet 

“A lot of things that matter to customers aren’t things we have measures for yet.” -Mike Wittenstein Click to Tweet 

“Your brand can’t be any better than what your customers’ experience.” -Mike Wittenstein Click to Tweet 

“You’ve got to design for adoption.” -Mike Wittenstein Click to Tweet 

“Experiences are about transforming people or leading them to points of discovery.” -Mike Wittenstein Click to Tweet 

“What would you like to learn – it will help you get closer to completing life’s puzzle.” -Mike Wittenstein Click to Tweet 

“Shutting down the doors of things you don’t want to do opens opportunities.” -Mike Wittenstein Click to Tweet 

“The way the world works has changed dramatically in the last few years.” -Mike Wittenstein Click to Tweet 

“In order to be a good speaker you have to first be a good listener.” -Mike Wittenstein Click to Tweet 

“Everybody’s got confidence inside them.” -Mike Wittenstein Click to Tweet 

“People follow confidence.” -Mike Wittenstein Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Mike Wittenstein had not acted since his junior high school play. But he decided to take an acting class and it helped him to grow his business. Listen to Mike tell his story of how he discovered a way to improve the customer experience by using the fine art of acting in a whole new way.

Advice for others

If you’re looking to make a big change in your life or if you’re just getting started right out of school – pick what you want to learn the most and it will give you a hint of things you’ll like to do.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Being even more mindful and paying even more attention to those I serve.

Best Leadership Advice Received

  1. You can’t teach a pig to sing – it doesn’t work and it pisses off the pig; you can’t push change on people.
  2. Find out what it takes to makes someone else’s job easier and do it for them.

Secret to Success

The ability to see patterns.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

Listening. If you’re not paying attention to them there is no way your message will get through to them.

Recommended Reading

Adaptive Enterprise

Contacting Mike

Website: http://storyminers.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mikewittenstein

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: 

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

083: Mike Wittenstein: I am by no means an actor

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 keynotes 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. 

 

Okay, Fast Leader Legion I’m looking forward to today’s show because my guest is one of those folks that I look to for inspiration. Mike Wittenstein grew up in Orlando, Florida on the same land his grandparents grew oranges and raised dairy cows. He was born with an entrepreneurial streak having started a woodworking venture at age 13 which paid for his senior year abroad in Brazil. College included another three semesters overseas in Brazil and the former USSR. The start Mike’s professional life included stints and travel, banking and real estate. When Mike was young his ability to see patterns and opportunity sooner than others put them on the outside as others found out of touch with their current reality. Once he learn to slowdown and change his language from future state to current state things got much easier. 

 

And then Mike found his love of story and tech when he co-founded one of the world’s first digital agencies. Mike’s entrepreneurial skills served him well as IBM’s e-visionary for global services where he started three consulting practices the last one in customer experience design. Next Mike founded story miners in 2002 to continue mastering the art and science of customer experience and to build the business. Mike currently lives in Marietta, Georgia living a life that can serve as an example to others with his wife Lois and his daughter Hannah. Some weekends he gets to build furniture in his basement workshop. Mike also has a son in college at Georgia Tech, Isaac. Mike Wittenstein are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Mike Wittenstein:     Absolutely, happy hump day.

 

Jim Rembach:    I appreciate you being here with me today. Now I’ve given our listeners a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that I can get to know you even better?

 

Mike Wittenstein:     Sure. My uncle told me a long time ago that if you’re happy at what you’re doing, you do what you love and love what you do that you have a good life, and I am so excited to say that I’ve got a good life right now. I do what I love, which is customer experience design that helps businesses with your strategy, frontline people to enjoy their life a lot more serving customers and of course create some value for customers. It’s so much fun as an international speaker to jump around between cultures and to bring stories of one area to another part of the world that was one of the unexpected pleasures for me. We’re not the only innovators in the world in the United States, there are lots of cool things going on around the world and if you open your eyes and your ears you can see things, you can find patterns that can really help things here in this country as well.

 

Jim Rembach:    It’s really interesting that you say that because one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the show is because to me you’re an inspirational example of that whole thing you needn’t  necessary use the word exactly but that mindfulness component. And for us I think we get so busy, at least for me, I get so busy that oftentimes I just don’t see some of those small details and those small opportunities that could potentially make a really big impact. And I know you talked about having the ability to see patterns and things like that and that’s also recognizes as one of those big skill sets and values that are needed in individuals and organizations. But it sounds like you actually have gone through some activities in order to be more mindful. What do you do in order to do that?

 

Mike Wittenstein:     I spend some time in between undergraduate and graduate school during the wide variety of different jobs. I was clueless as to what I really wanted to do. When I was in each of those different jobs, sometimes they were fun, sometimes they were frustrating but I remember having a chat with my aunt, my aunt Norma and she told me, Michael don’t worry about it, it’s okay everybody goes through this, that made me feel better. But then she gave me a really good piece of advice, she said, file that stuff away in your head come up with a little way to organize the things that happened to you, the things that you see you’re going through all these different businesses find out what the owners did in the early days and what’s going on now and you’ll start to find that you’ll be able to access all those different experiences as life goes on. So without knowing if that would work or not I tried it and actually it works. So what I did is I paid attention while I walk into a furniture maker. 

 

For example, I loved woodworking, I had a job making dental furniture for a couple months and I look at the condition of the shop and the way the guy treated his employees and what the sales were like and the marketing materials and everything. And I learned about his patterns, I learned about his psyche, his way of treating people, his way of seeing the world. I feel the gap, I started looking at how did he go from thinking about world this way to making that decision? So consulting is a great way to accelerate your learning because you can go in and see what other people’s decisions ended up with. Usually, you have to wait years and look at your own decisions to see what turns out but by working with so many companies that’s where I started to get that feeling of—what did somebody do a long time ago that made the business the way it is today? 

 

Jim Rembach:    You know that’s a really good point. I often talk about being able to utilize and leverage your core in order to help you move forward. A lot of times what we end up doing is to seek growth, to seek development, to seek advancement, we often go into areas where we have really no shrank, no experiences and we find ourselves at a point failing even faster. So, I think oftentimes we don’t have that inner work, that inner look in identifying those things that really got us to where we are and using those to leverage us forward. So, if you were to say that there was one thing that somebody could do in order to help them with that inward look, what would it be? 

 

Mike Wittenstein:    I guess it depends on what age you’re at. Because when you’re in your late 20’s you start to come into this feeling of your own personal power. You realize that people will listen to you, that what you know matters and can create value for other. If you’re in your 30’s you’re learning about your own style and your effect on others. When in your 40’s you’re starting to learn how to wreak positive change on the world, you’re also starting to aggregate different disciplines and thinking from different ways of working in order to create the solutions that you’re a part of. So, the first word that you brought up, mindful is probably the thing that I would recommend to people that are looking for a little bit of direction. Just be a little bit more mindful, pay attention to what’s going around you. Pay attention to how things are making you feel. 

 

In the customer experience world for example, when you go shopping or when you eat out see if you can translate how that digital sign or snapping images at you, does it make you feel more relaxed? Does it make you feel like you want to experiment with a new dish? Does it make you feel aggravated and frustrated because you already get enough commercials when you’re watching your paid cable-TV at home? Can you tell I have an issue with that? So be mindful is a great first step. Once you’ve opened your mind and you’re kind of relaxed you’re thinking a little bit you can start to pick up on some of the patterns. At first, the younger you are that start picking up on patterns that matter to you.  As you get older you’ll start to be able to push those aside not just subjugate them but just to temporarily let the patterns that affect other people come to the front, and that when you can become a really good designer cause most designers don’t design for themselves. Some very great artist and architects said, I really didn’t care about my clients, I did it for me, paraphrase. But when you’re in the service businesses you really are designing for other people. So when you learn what that elderly gentleman needs as he’s walking to the threshold of your store or what the lady who just lost her husband needs that she’s being cared for in a hospital. You start to develop an empathy. And using that empathy you don’t need lots and lots of market research. You can just use a unit of one, you can use a human being who’s living and breathing and feeling and caring and start to design for them but you have to be able to remove your own bias, you have to be able to get the noise in your head down to a level where you can pay attention to somebody else. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Thank you for sharing that. As you we’re taking I started thinking about a lot of different things and I started going to a place, where for me I have a pretty big background of managing a lot of folks in operation setting,  I started thinking about, you know what? What you just described works in an employee engagement and an employee experience perspective as well it’s the same types of core things to be able to be mindful, to focus on them, to help them move forward, and then ultimately they went and so does everybody else the process. 

 

Mike Wittenstein:     You know Jim, let me threw something else. One of the things I love about customer experience design is that it’s an integrative discipline. On its own it doesn’t really create that much value but when you tied in with operations and finance and people and call centers and design and technology and retail and whatever your favorite words are it has the ability to let a whole bunch of different ways of thinking and working and doing all collaborate quite nicely. So, you can get some amazing changes to happen by just sharing with people. 

What happens in their area has a big impact on other people in other areas that’s one of the hardest aspects of change for us to manage. So when you said employee experience that’s where my migraine went. Because before you have a great customer experience, you’ve got to deliver a really good employee experience.

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s for sure. Now I know when we start how mindfulness, we start talking about inspiration, creativity a lot of things are found when we start talking about quotes and we love them on the show and we want to hear as many as we could possibly get. We have many them on our show notes pages, on our website at fastleader.net for people to quote and we turn a lot of them into graphics, but is there a quote or two that kind of stands out for you that gives you some mindfulness power or inspiration that you can share?

 

Mike Wittenstein:     Yeah. Before I tell you what the quote is I’ll tell you why it’s meaningful to me. In American we tend to measure everything and measurement gives us that comfort that we’re doing the right thing, that we’re hitting our ROI’s but measurement also has a really strong bias in it because you can only measure what you can see and a lot of things that matter to customers aren’t things that we have measures for yet. Like how they feel, what they care about, what they gravitate to, their favorites, those kinds of things. We all are emotional and very human beings. Numbers are the way we all think all the time, you will say, 80 something percent of what we do is subconscious, were not even aware of it. 

 

So, my favorite quote is one that actually one of my colleagues developed, I can’t take ownership of this although I do repeat it all the time: No matter how hard you try or how much you stand your brand can’t be any better than what your customers experienced. What that means is at the end of the day you can have all the metrics and all the cool programs, and the best digital signage, and interactive stuff everywhere in your store in your hospital or your hotel, but if it doesn’t make the experience noticeable, memorable, and shareable to the clients, to customers, to the patients, to the guest, it doesn’t matter, you’ve got to design for adoption. That’s one of the beauties of customer experience design in my opinion is that you can work on the change which is usually a combination of process, technology and people you can also make sure that people buy into that so they can authentically deliver it it’s exactly the same process you just have to do it twice, that’s why I love that phrase so much. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Thanks for sharing that and also thanks for giving us the reasoning and a little bit more detail. When I put all these together you started talking about the maturation process in your 20’s and 30’s, and the mindfulness, you started talking about paying attention to detail, we’re not there. Some of us aren’t there at our 50 age either and also being in that 20 age group or even at the teenage group, how do you move forward faster and get to those points to where you can gain that wisdom? I always talk about the quote, one of my favorites is that—they unfortunate reality is that the Lord didn’t give us youth and wisdom at the same time so it’s a process we have to mature through it. And the way that we do that, and you I talked about this before we got on the show, is that—men, we make mistakes, that’s how we learn. We have to actually go through some humps in order to come to those learnings and gain that wisdom. Is there a story that you can share with us where you’ve got over the hump and you actually gain a lot of wisdom from it? 

 

Mike Wittenstein:     Now, I don’t know if I’ve ever gained a lot of wisdom they used to come in really small pieces overtime. But recently, I’m in my 50’s now so you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, I was doing some random learning, I belong to a number of organizations and one that I don’t belong to is the Southeastern Association of Facilitators but every once in a while I’ll go to a completely new group just for the heck of it to see what I can learn. So, I go to this meeting and they have a facilitation there by a director, a theatre director, and he takes us through some really fun theater games and we have a discussion about how the authenticity of theater can really help bring out the best in conversations and things like that, it’s pretty interesting. But during one of the exercises I actually felt something that I had never felt before I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was but I knew that it was transformative. And because I already knew that experiences were all about transforming people leading them up to the points of discovery where they transform themselves I went in to dig in to it. 

 

So, I called the director up and I invited him out to lunch and we talked a little bit and then he said take a class they gave me a free pass to take a class at the Alliance Theatre so I take an acting class. And I am by no means an actor, I did a junior high school play but that’s my whole career so far, but we dug in to that idea of what is it that can help another person to feel transformed and to make the long story short a year later we introduced a new service called human prototyping which uses human beings, real customers and our clients together with theater actors and directors to create a service design environment where we can work on the human side of things not just on the technical aspects of a software rollout where the voice of customer numbers and all kinds of things like that. So, for me that was a huge epiphany that happened just recently.

 

Jim Rembach:    That sounds fascinating. When I start thinking about the value of that and being perceived, so you mentioned something about understanding your customer being able to have things fit and be of value within their perception, their world, and their environment. How do you have something like that be perceived of value to potential clients?

 

Mike Wittenstein:     Haah. The first couple of times we did it was really, really hard because we had to sell people vapor ware. Are you sure this will work? Well, no, we think it will. So, that that was a big selling job, well it came with a guarantee so that’s a great way to get your ideas tried. So what we found out is that when we did this with a quick service restaurant here in area they actually discover better ways to do their service innovation and they adopted some of our methods. When we did it with a disruptive.com start-up they found out that their messaging was way off base and they needed to make some adjustments both in terms of the order of exposition as well as in some of the ethnic components of the story they were making some big mistakes that they weren’t even aware of.  So, ROI, going back to that beginning part of our conversation is usually about figuring out what is my investment going to be worth going forward. Typically it means, is the investment I already made going to be sustained? So, when we take something like human prototyping and say, hey this is going to help your ROI and the client is looking at it in arrears like who might previously made investments makes sense with this, I can’t say that they will. But going forward, it absolutely does help because we help businesses figure out what their change is going to be accurately and we let them make all the mistakes they can while they’re still on the theater stage before they go and roll it out. Like from your background with call centers you might have a new script come out or a whole new series of script or a special offer, you don’t really find out until the hundred or 500 call is made that some things are not working and then it takes another few days and another few thousand calls to go imagine being able to test that stuff out before you go. And I think we should redo this whole section going back to the question of the hump question because this one just went away off to the side. 

 

Jim Rembach:    No, no this is really helpful and insightful and I’m actually kind of put you on the spot a little bit Mike because you’re one of those folks that shares openly and without any type of expectation of getting anything in return and I’m sure that in itself has given you quite abundance in your life. But I know also that we often as folks we have patterns and some of those patterns are in the advice that we get, right? So we find ourselves kind of giving some of the same advice because it’s been so powerful and impactful on us and hopefully will be on others. So, if you were to say a piece of advice that you have given to folks that you find yourself giving moreover that seems to have value, what is it?

 

Mike Wittenstein:     It’s very easy to answer that question. If you’re looking to make a big change in your life or if you’re just getting started like right out of school you have a lot of different options. People tend to try to do what they think your quotes should do. Going back to what my Uncle Sam told me about finding what you love and loving what you do, I found that if you pick what you want to learn the most it’s one of the smartest things that you can do. So think mindfully about what you would like to learn next that’s going to give you a hint about the things that you like and it will also get you closer to completing life’s puzzle.  Now, you’ll never finish that puzzle but the closer you get to finishing it the better you feel about the work that you do the more the desk and give you a hint about the things that you like and you will also get you closer to completing life supposedly never finished that puzzle but the closer you get to finishing it the better you feel about work that you do the more of a magnet you become for other people and the more influence you can wheel. So there’s more responsibility with that and you’ve got to get smarter, you got to get better, you’ve got a get better at things that aren’t in your wheelhouse so that you connect what you know to others. So, ratchet that back and it’s all about know what you want to learn next and then go with your heart in that direction and you’ll open up all kinds of opportunities. So, shutting down the doors of the things that you don’t want to do creates all kinds of opportunity and abundance in your time, in your thinking ability, in your openness, to try a new and do new things. Can I add one more thing? 

 

Jim Rembach:     Absolutely. 

 

Mike Wittenstein:     If you know that you want to learn something, like I learn this when I was 14 or 15 I was really working on my tennis game, one of our neighbors said, “Mike if you want to get better at tennis you have to play with people who are better than you and that shortens your game.” Now convincing them to play with you I learn it was a whole different skill set but after I learn that that made me a little bit stronger too and playing with better tennis player made me a better tennis player, so that’s part of the thing behind learning. One last thing if you don’t mind, it also works with our vendors and our clients. Every time I hire a contractor and every time I work with a client, I do this religiously, we have a conversation you might call it exparte if you’re an attorney but outside of the contractual terms we have an agreement about what the client wants to learn and what they want their people to learn and we both make adjustments from our individual sides to make sure that that learning happens. That way there’s more than just a service provided and a check at the end of the day, people are strengthen and capabilities are adjusted and improved and people feel really good about what they’ve done. 

 

Jim Rembach:    You know when you think about a lot of the things that you’ve had experience with, the things that you want to learn in order to continue your growth as well as those that are important to you, when you think about all of that what are some of your goals?

 

Mike Wittenstein:     You know my goals right now are honestly a little bit fuzzy I know that I’d like to diversify the business that I do so that it can be even more successful financially. I realize I have a duty or responsibility to those that I work with do a really good job. And I’m also quite aware that the way the world works has changed dramatically in the last few years. I feel like a brand new doing business because all the rules have changed and it’s not an uncomfortable it’s not an unfamiliar feeling for me because when I travel overseas as an exchange student to Brazil and to Russia all my cultural props were just kick up from under me it’s like a guy on crutches and he has no crutches or canes to walk with you just kind of left to your own devices, what you do? You’ve got to makes sense of the language, the culture, the patterns, the eating, the food, the questions and you got to figure all that out from scratch. It’s kind of how I feel right now with all of the change that’s going on with social media, and influence, and trust, and referrals, and where this business come from and a lot of people are ready to take your check and offer you service but they’re more concerned about making money than they are making you money. So, it’s very confusing right now for so many people that I talk to, to find that right next of things to do. So, I’m taking my own advice, I’m being mindful and listening. I’m hanging out with people that are smarter than me and I’m trying a bunch of different things. Try not to create so much change that it’s confusing for people who already know me, that’s the honest answer to the question right now is that figuring out how the world works so I can you remain relevant and I enjoy that brand that I dote for so long.  

 

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 getting significantly deeper insight and understanding of your customer journey and personas with emotional intelligence. With your entity mapping workshop you learn how to evoke and influence the right customer emotions that generate improve customer loyalty and reduce your cost operate. Get over your emotional hump now by going to empathymapping.com to learn more. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Alright here we go Fast Leader listeners it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay Mike, 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. Mike Wittenstein, are you ready to hoedown?

 

Mike Wittenstein:     I am ready. Let’s go.

 

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

 

Mike Wittenstein:     I think being even more mindful and paying even more attention to those that I serve. 

 

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

 

Mike Wittenstein:     That one’s easy. I was working at Martin Marietta one summer and a woman named Marge Bell was my manager she gave me two lessons that I’ve never forgotten and I’ve often repeated on stage. The first one is you can’t teach a pig to sing, now you’ve heard that before but she added this phrase, it doesn’t work and pisses off the pig. And coming from a large corporate environment I got a chance to see that you can’t push change on people that they don’t want you’ve got to learn enough about them to introduce it the right way. Everything that Marge Bell taught me was to find out what it takes to make somebody else’s job easier and then to do it for them without them asking. And she was a big corporate politician kind of a person she got so much done from the very low level director that she at working all the way up the organization by applying that principle. So, I got a chance to see that and I really like that advice.

 

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

 

Mike Wittenstein:     I think it’s the ability to see patterns. People look to me for you what’s coming, they want the comfort of knowing what’s around the corner. And because I just see the world a little differently I think that’s one of the things I count for them. 

 

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

 

Mike Wittenstein:     Best tool is probably listening. I’m a professional speaker I’ve worked in 25 something countries now. And in order to be a good speaker you really have to first, be a good listener. Because you’re not talking at people or two people you’re talking with people and hopefully for them. If you don’t pay attention to who they are and where they’re coming from there’s no way your message is going to get through effectively.

 

Jim Rembach:     What would be one book, and it could be from any genre, that you’d recommend to our listeners?

 

Mike Wittenstein:     The book that had the biggest impact on me when I was in my late 30’s was recommended and written by guide IDM name Stephan Haeckel, the name of the book is Adaptive Enterprise and it taught me how to look at a business as a system. It made a big difference in the way I work. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Okay Fast Leader listeners, you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/Mike Wittenstein. Okay Mike, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you 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 skills or piece of knowledge you would you take back with you and why?

 

Mike Wittenstein:     I would take that confidence. It takes people a wide variety of years to figure out they are confident. Truth of the matter is everybody’s got confidence inside of them and the sooner you find it the more you can have a positive influence on others. So, that’s what I would like to have first because people follow confidence.

 

Jim Rembach:     Mike 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?

 

Mike Wittenstein:     Sure. Please visit me on our website for lots of great information and contact as well, the address is www.storyminers.com. And Jim it has been absolutely amazing being on the show with you. Thank you so much.

 

Jim Rembach:     Mike Wittenstein 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

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031: Jeff Furst: I had little confidence in myself

Jeff Furst Show Notes

Jeff Furst was elected as the Alumni Chair, as a sophomore, of a historical fraternity chapter at Northwestern University called Phi Kappa Psi. Instead of doing the typical homecoming duties and the once a year meeting Jeff decided take on the needs of a deteriorating chapter house. Over the next two years Jeff spearheaded the fund raising of over 1 million dollars to help restore the chapter house. Listen to Jeff tell his story of how he overcame low confidence, low engagement and high doubt and flipped things over.

Jeff Furst was born in Freeport, IL and raised in Rockford, IL with his younger sister. Rockford which is known as the screw capital of the world is also the home of the legendary rock band Cheap Trick.

Eventually Jeff found his way to Northwestern University where he earned a degree in Economics.  Jeff especially enjoyed his economic history classes with Joel Mokyr and Charles Calomiris the most.

Following graduation, Jeff worked in commercial banking for American National Bank which is now part of J.P. Morgan Chase.  After three years, Jeff enrolled full-time at The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, now called Booth School of Business, where he earned his MBA.

After graduation, Jeff was recruited by AT&T and moved to New Jersey to work in marketing and product strategy at AT&T.

After a short period of time Jeff decided to follow in his parents, grandfather, and great-grandfather’s footsteps and started his own company.  Today, Jeff is the founder, President, and CEO of FurstPerson.  FurstPerson provides pre-hire assessment tools and services to help companies that hire customer contact employees improve the chances of making the right hiring decision.

Jeff wants to leave a legacy of having raise kids that are good citizens of the earth and to have been a value to his customers.

Jeff still resides in Rockford with his wife and three kids. And he spends his free-time providing taxi services for kdis and volunteering for various organizations and teams that his kids are involved with.  Jeff also enjoys belonging to the cult known as CrossFit.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.” Jack Welch by Jeff Furst Click to Tweet

“I was able to show I was committed…it helped to get buy in from others.” -Jeff Furst Click to Tweet

“Be patient and work through things…growth and opportunity come from that.” -Jeff Furst Click to Tweet 

“If you don’t do this the repercussions can be dramatic.” -Jeff Furst Click to Tweet 

“I did not want to be a member of a chapter that went out of business.” -Jeff Furst Click to Tweet 

“You always have to be looking forward.” -Jeff Furst Click to Tweet 

“What needs to happen tomorrow to make today even better?” -Jeff Furst Click to Tweet 

“Hire smart people, give them what they need and then get out of their way.” -Jeff Furst Click to Tweet 

“Create an environment to empower people.” -Jeff Furst Click to Tweet 

“What are the gifts each person has; give them what they need to capitalize on them.” -Jeff Furst Click to Tweet 

“If everybody agrees with you something is wrong.” -Jeff Furst Click to Tweet

“Be careful of universal agreement and look for the counter-intuitive argument.” -Jeff Furst Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Jeff Furst was elected as the Alumni Chair, as a sophomore, of a historical fraternity chapter at Northwestern University called Phi Kappa Psi. Instead of doing the typical homecoming duties and the once a year meeting Jeff decided take on the needs of a deteriorating chapter house. Over the next two years Jeff built an incredible movement that ultimately raised over $1 million dollars to help restore the chapter house. Listen to Jeff tell his story about getting over the hump so you can move onward and upward faster.

Advice for others

Hire smart people, give them what they need and then get out of their way.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Focusing on clear goals and strategies. Instead of creating clear goals and strategies I spend too much time in them.

Best Leadership Advice Received

If everybody agrees with you something is wrong. Be careful of universal agreement and look for the counter-intuitive argument.

Secret to Success

Cross Fit and working out. I am a better person because of it.

Best Resources in business or Life

I love reading about business people and historical figures and what they did. Those lesson never die and can be applied in many ways.

Recommended Reading

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

Contacting Jeff

email: jeff.furst [at] furstperson.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/furstjeff

More 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:

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

031: Jeff Furst: I Had a Little Confidence in Myself

 Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we uncover the leadership like hat that help you to experience, break out performance faster and rocket to success. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.

Jim Rembach:    Thanks, Kimberley. Okay, Fast leader legion you will want to make sure that you actually go to iTunes and download and subscribe the fast leader show, if you haven’t already because today we have somebody who I’ve known for a very long time and I’ve looked up to for a long time and it’s just one of those people that gives a unique perspective and insight on a lot of topics and you’re going get to learn a little bit about what he’s doing today coming up in the show.

 

Jeff Furst, was born in Freeport, Illinois and was raised in Rockford with his younger sister. Jeff ultimately found his way to Northwestern University where he earned a degree in Economics. Following graduation Jeff worked in commercial banking for American National Bank. After a couple years Jeff decided to enroll full-time at the University Of Chicago Graduate School Of Business and he earned his MBA. After graduation Jeff was recruited by AT&T and moved to the Garden State of New Jersey where he worked in Marketing and Product Strategy at AT&T. After a few years he decided to follow his parents, grandfather, and great-grandfather’s footsteps and start his own business. Today, Jeff is the Founder, President and CEO of FirstPerson. FirstPerson provides pre-hire assessment tools and services to help companies that hire customer contact employees, improve the chances of making the right hiring decision. So Jeff Furst are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Jeff Fursts:    I am Jim. Thanks for having me.

 

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

 

Jeff Fursts:    Sure Jim, happy to do so. So I think, put aside having my own company and working on that which is obviously a great passion of mine, I really become quite interested in education and particularly teachers and how teachers are evaluated in the quality of teaching in schools. Obviously, having three kids that are all school-age probably is a big contributor of that. So, I am really interested in what’s going on in the world around teaching, not only here in the United States, but also  what else is happening outside the US and other countries and how they approach education.

 

Jim Rembach:    You know, I just had the opportunity to prior to you and I speaking, meet with a professor who is also on that same journey and has that same passion right now. It is amazing to see how much change focus and passion is being put into education, education reform and really creating that next generation of both workforce and leaders and really community leaders and citizens. What are the things you’re working on right now specifically that are really giving your energy towards that particular pursuit?

 

Jeff Fursts:    Sure. The first thing that I’ve been doing a lot of research in and trying to understand and then even taking it back to the schools that my kids are involved in, just trying to understand, for example Jim, what is a good teacher versus a not so good teacher? And what is that mean to an individual student. There’s research out of Stanford, a guy name Eric, I probably won’t pronounce this right the last name correctly it’s I think it’s, Hudecek, but he’s in a lot of research showing that for example a teacher who is above average can accelerate the learning path in the classroom by six months or so versus a teacher who is a below average or isn’t quite up to the capabilities of delivering education could actually have a regression of six-month, right. 

 

For example, kid inner-city schools and kids that are in those environments cause they don’t have any choice, you have five years of bad teachers, well now, that’s 30 months that their potentially behind. So, no wonder once those kids reach the workforce that they’re not—they have a challenge finding jobs, they have a challenge in putting food on the table and obviously the implications to society because of that. So, we’re just kind of focusing on that teacher question and how do schools identify teachers who can be the right fit for the classroom and capable of delivering, at least average if not above average, in the classroom. Obviously, there’s a lot of things that go into that Jim but that kind of links to what I do day-to-day and  there’s a natural gravitation or easy path for me to look at that and really get excited about it.

 

Jim Rembach:   As I was listening to you give that answer, and thanks for sharing is, some of the work that you’ve been doing in regards to identifying the right behaviors,  the right characteristics of people who actually conserve others well, teachers kind of, like you’re saying, easily fall into that servitude or supporting or helping others type of realm and being able to identify their characteristics is important. While definitely this is a huge issue and is one that we can afford to lose in a lot of different ways and so I hope that you continue to find the passion and the drive to do that. One of the ways that we find drive and passion here on the Fast leader show is that we lean on leadership quotes. Leadership quotes can give us that extra ‘umph’ and that extra focus to help continue on and persevere and get pass. Are there some quotes for you that do just that, can you share them?

 

Jeff Fursts:    Sure Jim. There’s one in particular that I came across early on after I started FirstPerson and found it to be a really helpful. It’s Jack Welch, I’m sure it’s one of many business quotes that he’s probably contribute over the years. So it’s: “Face reality as it is not as it was or as you wish it to be.” I really think that whether you’re leading a company or you’re in a volunteering capacity or whatever it might be, to me that’s really instrumental because a lot of people, and I was early on was one to go this route, you envision how you want things and you kind of pretend the way that that’s what it is, but that’s not reality. 

 

In order to improve your own reality of whether that’s your company’s growth or how they’re at home or a group you might be involved that’s a volunteer even the example we’re talking about like teaching and  how do you face reality of what that environment is today but what can you do to move forward. I think unless you’re grounded in that reality and not thinking about how it may have been in the past or how you wish it was, you start with where it is today the reality what it is and then you can work towards helping, lead the organization or being a contributor to others that are leading the organization to get where you want to go. Of course, that means setting goals and such and understanding what that vision ultimately is. But I really found that to be a very practical and helpful quote when I came across that many, many years ago.

 

Jim Rembach:     And I would dare to say that oftentimes we have to essentially sip from that saucer of reality and make sure that we do focus in on what we have to do with what we currently have in front of us. Oftentimes we talked about getting over the hump on the fast leader shows because that’s our dose of reality, to say:  “Okay I’ve got to move forward with whatever this particular hump is and get over it.” There’s going to be learnings from that and oftentimes there are things that we carry with us for the rest of our lives. Is there a hump that you remember that you had to get over and that it actually made you be a better person better leader, can you share that story with us? 

 

Jeff Fursts:    I sure can Jim. Yeah, so this goes way back to my college days a matter-of-fact. I was a little hesitant to say, well is there anything in college that really makes us who we are and I think obviously the education and classes you take and people you meet are part of that but to me college was also broader experience and so in Northwestern, I belonged to a fraternity Phi Kappa PSI. While most people think of the fraternity environment—parties and lot of fun and certainly there was that, but more importantly Phi PSI was a historical chapter at Northwestern one of the early chapters there and we had a great legacy, but when I was there in the late 80’s we had a lot of problems. The house was falling apart, the chapter house was falling apart, there wasn’t lot of money, and our alumni group was not existent. I was elected as the alumni chair, which probably in most cases is kind of—you have a meeting once a year and you go to homecoming, so that’s what I really need to do. But I got excited about the needs of the chapter house had and thinking through, what are we going to do to fix this? I was probably in my sophomore, so I said there are couple of more years left there and it was really a problem for us. So, my role as an alumni chair, I’m saying, “Well, there’s got to be a way for us to get some more alumni involved for creating a broader network. Fortunately, Northwestern and that was Illinois, a lot of our alumni were very local to the North Shore, Chicago to the city itself and to the other suburbs, so we were geographically in good position but I really felt that there’s a challenge. 

 

You know, the undergraduates they don’t really care what was going to happen. They’re going to leave in two to three years and we obviously had not done a good job of involving the alumni base back into the house and getting them to campus to visit with us. So, for better for worse I took it upon myself to figure out a way, how we can get alumni back involved. I had met this older gentleman who had graduated from Northwestern was a Phi Psi, call him Brother Al, and he had this little pancake business. What he did is he brought in a little equipment and set it up and he made pancakes and he’d do this pancake breakfast. And I thought, well, this is may be an interesting idea, a hook, a gimmick maybe to get—host a breakfast, organize it and bring alumni back to that. I knew I could get the undergraduate members, my fraternity brothers there because on a Saturday, Sunday where we usually eat breakfast, at the kitchens clubs and they’ve been out probably all night and everybody’s hungry. Bottom line is, I setup to organize this first breakfast and work the phones and got about ten or fifteen alumni there. And then we did another one and that grew and we did a third one and that grew and ultimately we had 30, 40, 50, people that had come to these breakfasts at various points. And from there, I was able to get a small advisory group put together and that helped us get a little more framework around more, higher level organization and then ultimately and eventually a year or two later led to a more detailed fundraising campaign. 

 

We ultimately put about $1 million back to house we raised that through working with the University and through alumni donations. But what I learned Jim is, coming back to the hump and the leadership example is that, one is, at that time I had  little confidence in myself around leading others especially when you think of your fraternity brothers who, there’s a wide range of interests and thoughts around what should be done and people kind of live their own lives about their studies and we collect together and there certain common bonds that we had but I really was not that confident in how I could lead that group and this was an opportunity to step in and actually try to help the house to be better and try to create a better environment for next year and the year beyond and I think with that I also learned about perseverance. 

 

This took a long time to put together but once I was able to show that I was committed to it and it can create results that focus help to get buy-in from others with other chapter members and such. And it also help me understand how to be creative and—a pancake breakfast that’s kind of ridiculous but it was a nice little gimmick that worked. It was different and it worked to get the alumni’s attention and get them back. That epiphany was really about setting goals and working to them but also how to communicate them over and over and over with that message and understand how to get other people to get bought into it and that really help me—maybe step outside of my shell, being 18, 19 years old and that experience ultimately helped set up eventually when I decide to leave AT&T and start my own company.

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a great story Jeff. I mean for me, when you were telling it I started coming back to the quote that you said that you like from Jack Welch because to me it was all summarized in which you just shared with us in regards to the hump that you got over with going through that fundraising process and getting so many of those different stakeholders involved with helping to bring that house back to a better sound footing and you know being in better shape, that’s awesome. I think a lot of times it seems that folks want to have that quick turnaround, that short injection, that quick win, that silver bullet all of those things that were told and that are glamorize in news and entertainment and all that. But at 18, 19 especially 18 year 19-year-old today, that’s exactly what they think how everything happens. What was different for you in thinking that, “Okay, start this idea but then let’s expand it, let’s expand it, let’s expand it” because that’s what you kept doing and you didn’t stop. What were some the things that you were thinking about that next step? How did you do that?

 

Jeff Fursts:    Sure, you’re absolutely right. Just to make a quick comment about thinking of today and the world, everything is so quick. If you don’t respond to your e-mail immediately or anything with social media it certainly drives a very responsive world versus taking a step back and thinking things through and having the ability to be patient and work through things. I do get concerned sometimes that we lose that and to me ultimately that’s where growth and opportunities do come from. Going back to your question and the experience back in Northwestern was, it came down to understanding that if we don’t do this the repercussions could be dramatic. The university could come and say, “Look, your house doesn’t meet certain code things and if it doesn’t certain code things were going to shut it down.” “Or you guys can’t live here anymore” that would displace 40 or so people that live in the house. We wouldn’t be able to serve meals there and all of sudden that physical structure becomes a gathering in a point for everybody, and so it doesn’t exist anymore. We can’t go there, we can’t use it and that was going to be a challenge, so that was one thing. Back to reality of what could happen if you play the [16:07 inaudible] a little bit in terms of potential scenarios. The other thing I guess I thought is, for whatever reason if nobody else’s is going to do it or if nobody is thinking about it then this is the things at a higher level that Phi Psi talks about at the national level and such in serving others and being a contributor to your community. And I certainly didn’t want to be a member of a chapter that was the one that went out of business, so to speak. So, taking that approach and coming back to—I didn’t really talk about that initially it was more of people  making fun of me about—Oh, we’ll give you pancake breakfast, and Look at what Jeff’s doing. And, “Okay, fine,” you live with that. But the first one once it was partially successful and then the second one was even more successful it just stick in to that and then start and talk about, “Look at this, this is where this could go” we get more alumni here they’re going to help us. They were here in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and they don’t want to see that legacy go away and they want to help and make sure that the chapter continues forward.

 

And so, it was starting to resonate that craft that message, I give myself probably more credit today than maybe able back then, but crafting a message, “Look, we need to do something and the alumni are the ones who are going to help us get there cause certainly undergrads we don’t have that and university isn’t going to care one way or the other.” So, not only do we need the alumni because of the financial opportunity they could bring but also because they can intervene at the university level and in those types of things. So, just building on that message,  and building on that buy-in and continuing to get suggestions as more and more of the chapter members got involved and then once the alumni got involve they had even more ideas and we got things organized. So, really it was just kind of that service component and it’s— you also had to be looking forward. And also, I know I said, I accomplish this today that’s great but what needs to happen tomorrow to make today better, that makes sense. 

 

Jim Rembach:    It definitely does, and I appreciate you sharing that story. It makes me even more excited about while you were talking about your current passion around the education efforts and all of the things that you’re doing there, that with the success that you had here, I know you’re going to make a big impact on education, I appreciate that. So if you were to think about what you’ve been doing with the education piece, that story that you had shared about creating that movement, what is one piece of advice that you would give to the fast leader legion?

 

Jeff Fursts:    Sure. Well, this is related a little more to the business side of things but I think it could be expanded to anything. When I first started FirstPerson back in the late 90’s, I had some older individuals who had been, around the blocks so to speak, and the advice they gave me which I’ve took to heart and really think a lot of is: “Hire smart people, give them what they need but then get out of their way” and you think about what does that mean? Well, you create an environment to empower people, whether that’s in a business like you’re not involve in or volunteer work and he was there just because they want to be there and want to try to help. Understanding what are the gifts that these person has? And then giving them what they need to capitalize all those gift but then getting out of their way and let them do their thing. Now, having said that it’s important that there’s a lot of work around communication, the vision of what we’re trying to achieve so you don’t have everybody walking off their own individual path and then the organization can move forward. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Well, I appreciate you sharing that piece of advice. Now, we talked about FirstPerson and the work that you do at FirstPerson in helping companies select those right people and hopefully they’re getting out of their way once they do that, but what is really exciting you about some of the work that you’re doing at FirstPerson right now?

 

Jeff Fursts:    Sure. There’s a couple of things, Jim. One, is the application of technology. What we do is we’re helping organizations hire people and we do that because we help them to find a job, we help them create a model that can be measured. In other words, can it come to a process that can be measured and then evaluated against some type of performance outcome? So technology today is really exciting and create a lot of passion in our side because the ability to use different types of web based tools, the ability to interact with data sources and do that in real time has enabled us to do so much more around serving our customers and helping them do things not only at a lower cost but on our faster delivery standpoint. At the same time back to the candidate, and candidate experience were able to create a more engaging a more immersive experience so it’s fun for the candidates. For example, think about using—you create like simulations or kind of game-like tools that a candidate can go through, that’s not only create a much more engaging process for the candidate, it helps maybe the customer promote their brand in a better way, it’s also really predictive performance. And so, technology is really enabling us to do a lot of things. Even five years ago we couldn’t do that because of cause implications or development timelines those types of things, so that’s one thing, And then the data, it already talks about analytics and how to use data and so and so forth and I realize it’s a big buzz word and overused quite a bit. But there are some really neat opportunities to pull various data back to the process. And so where human resources, recruiting and hiring ten years ago, it was kind of a feel good thing. Today there’s an opportunity to quantify the hiring decision, put a financial model around that and so HR can go back to the executive team and talk about, “Look, we’re making these investments and how people are hired.” and as a result we are contributing to business outcomes in a way that it were driving retention from an improvement perspective, we’re hiring people who are better at delivering that customer experience, our C SAS scores are improving, our resolutions improving and now the sudden is becoming an opportunity for that chief Human Resources officer to be an equal at that C Switch  level as the CTO or Operational Leaders and such because they can demonstrate a talent strategy in a quantifiable way. It’s great to be a part of that it’s exciting to be part of that, and I think for us in particular the work we’re able to do with our customers and to see how that creates real results is really powerful for us.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well, the Fast leader Legion wishes you the very best. Alright! Here we go Fast leader legion, it’s time for the—Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Jeff 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 a robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster.  Jeff Fursts, are you ready to Hoedown? 

 

Jeff Fursts:    I am.

 

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

 

Jeff Fursts:    Thing that’s holding me back Jim is focusing on clear goal. So, instead of working on clear goals and strategy, I spend too much time working in them and got to get away from that. 

 

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

 

Jeff Fursts:    I think, it had something that’s somebody told me. It’s a quote from Mark Twain, if I’m not mistaken, “If everybody agrees with you then somethings wrong.” And so, it’s time to take a step back and find out what really is going on and think through all the angles. Be careful of universal agreement and look for the countered truth of argument there.

 

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

 

Jeff Fursts:    Cross-fit and working out, believe it or not. So, I find that just with the day-to-day and the amount of stress that incorporate in the business and be responsive and balancing work and family, so the ability to escape for 30 minutes to an hour and exercise really helps me clear my mind refocus on goals and such. So, I find that I’m a better person because of that.

 

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

 

Jeff Fursts:   I love reading. I think in particular I find that—during the introduction you mentioned economic history class, I love reading about business people or historical figures and what they did. For example one book is heightened Ron Chernow, which is about JD Rockefeller and talks about how he grew up and built his business and there are things maybe I don’t agree with that, but a reader might not, but the lessons learned from his perseverance and understanding of the strategy, of the oil business and gas business how he got there, I just love that historical contacts because I think those lessons never die. They can be applied in any timeframe even today with the technology we have, there’s a lot of parallels.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader listeners, you can find links to other bonus material and that book on the show notes page which you’ll be able to find at Fastleader.net/Jeff Fursts. Okay, Jeff 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 been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills you have back with you but you can’t take everything you can only just take one thing, so what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

Jeff Fursts:    Jim a piece of knowledge, if I go back to 25 and have this piece of knowledge and start from there be able to control my own destiny and not let others control it for you. The back channel there, decisions that I made post 25 where maybe, we let other partners or other people have too much influence of what we were doing versus controlling ourselves. From a company perspective it would’ve made a huge difference and if I go back and take that one piece of knowledge in terms of controlling my destiny and not letting others influence it, I think my path forward would’ve been very different.

 

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

 

Jeff Fursts:    Sure! You can connect with me on Twitter @furstsjeff or on Linkedin or my E-mail address is Jeff.fursts@firstperson.com

 

Jim Rembach:    Jeff Fursts, 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.

 

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