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097: Roberta O’Keith: I was in a dark place at my job

Roberta O’Keith Show Notes

Roberta O’Keith found a fellow co-worker on the floor, non-responsive and barely breathing. As the person responsible for handling employee complaints about work, she knew stress finally took her down. That was Roberta’s wake up call.

Roberta was raised in Downers Grove, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago; along with her older siblings LeAnne and George. She was the only one in her family to graduate college and also go on to obtain a Master’s in Business Administration.

Her father was a keen business man that left his corporate job when she was in grade school to pursue his dream of being his own boss.  At an early age, she learned the basics of marketing and accounting by stuffing envelopes, building mailing lists, and doing the bookkeeping for her dad’s growing business.

Roberta is known for having a broad range of skills and abilities. She’s worked as an emergency medical technician, coached gymnastics at the local YMCA, led sales and marketing efforts for large life and health insurance companies, and executed many business process improvement projects. She even loves the creative process of picking out fabrics and designs to make quilts.

Roberta doesn’t lean to one side of her brain, but leverages the whole thing when it comes to analytics, process, passion, creativity, and growth. This is why she dislikes being pigeon holed or labeled as just one thing.  She loves to learn and grow and challenge herself. She’s discovered that her best work is in environments that are ambiguous and undefined.

She currently works as a Business Excellence Leader for Black & Veatch, a multi-billion dollar engineering, design, and construction firm that leads and manages human infrastructure projects throughout the world.

She is also involved with many non-profits that help improve the quality of life for individuals and children around the world including World Vision, Samaritain’s Purse, and Child Fund.

Roberta currently lives in Lenexa, Kansas (suburb of Kansas City) with her husband of 18 years and two children; Faith and Joshua. Her husband is pursuing his Masters in Divinity and pursuing a pastorate career.  Yes, she a pastor’s wife…. Not your typical one!

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @rokeith70 to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“Companies not forward thinking are not willing to take the risks.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet

“In order to change or manage growth, identify your key people.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet 

“Business excellence can help you drive innovation and change.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet 

“Business excellence is all around culture change.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet 

“Self-awareness helps you to that next level or burst of passion.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet 

“You have to be very mindful of culture and how to set the tone.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet 

“Change starts with yourself.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet 

“You feed off of people’s energy; positive or negative.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet 

“It’s important to coach yourself to higher levels of energy.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet 

“How can you bring passion, resilience, and discipline?” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet 

“Find the support of like-minded people to help you move along.” -Roberta O’Keith Click to Tweet     

Hump to Get Over

Roberta O’Keith found a fellow co-worker on the floor, non-responsive and barely breathing. As the person responsible for handling employee complaints about work, she knew stress finally took her down. That was Roberta’s wake up call.

Advice for others

Seek out others outside of your company for support to help you to move forward.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Fear

Best Leadership Advice Received

Overcome your fear.

Secret to Success

A great support system that supports me in anything I do.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

My coaching tools that I’ve learned through Energy Leadership.

Recommended Reading

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Energy Leadership: Transforming Your Workplace and Your Life from the Core

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Contacting Roberta

email: rokeith70 [at] yahoo.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rokeith70

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”]

097: Roberta O’Keith: I was in a dark place at my job

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.

 

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

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader Legion, today I’m excited because we have a black sheep in the family on the show. Rebecca O’Keith was raised in Downers Grove, Illinois western suburb of Chicago along with two older siblings, her sister LeAnne and his brother George. She was the only one in her family to graduate college and also go on to obtain a Master’s in Business Administration. Her father was a keen businessman and left his corporate job when she was in grade school to pursue his dream of being his own boss. At an early age she learned the basics of marketing and accounting by stuffing envelopes, building mailing lists, and doing the bookkeeping on her dad’s growing business. Roberta is known for having a broad range of skills and abilities. She’s worked as an emergency medical technician, coach gymnastics at the local YMCA, lead sales and marketing efforts for large life insurance companies and executed many business process improvement projects. 

 

She even loves the creative process of picking out fabrics and designs to make quilts. Roberta doesn’t lean to one side of her brain but leverages the whole thing when it comes to analytics, process, passion, creativity and growth. This is what she dislikes being pigeonholed or labeled as just one thing. She loves to learn and grow and challenge her yourself. She’s discovered that her best work is in environments that are ambiguous and undefined. She currently works as a Business Excellence Leader for Black & Veatch a multibillion-dollar engineering, design and construction firm that leads and manages human infrastructure projects throughout the world. 

 

She’s also involved with many nonprofits that help improve the quality of life for individuals and children around the world including World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse and Child Fund. Roberta currently lives in Lenexa, Kansas, which is a suburb of Kansas City, with her husband of 18 years and two children Faith and Joshua. His husband is pursuing his Masters in Divinity and pursuing a pastoral career. Yes, she’s a pastor’s wife but not your typical one. Roberta O’Keith, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Roberta O’Keith: I sure am. How are you doing, Jim? 

 

Jim Rembach:    I’m doing great. I’m glad to have you. We’ve known each other for a couple years and I’ve always been fascinated by –Gosh! You’re talking about the diversity in your bio and just different perspectives that you have and viewpoints and you’re even a wild child and now preacher’s wife, can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better? 

 

Roberta O’Keith: Thanks, Jim. You know, my current passion today is around helping companies grow. It’s all around how do you take your company to that next level.

 

Jim Rembach:    We’ve known each other because of the customer experience and being part of the Customer Experience Professional Association and when you talk about customer experience, isn’t all customer experience focused on growth?

 

Roberta O’Keith: You know, I don’t think so. I think there are companies out there that are reactionary and so they are losing costumers left and right and so they’re scrambling to put together or improve what their customer experience strategy is today. So, I think there are two sets of companies out there, one that’s reactionary and one is truly focused on innovation and growth. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, so that’s really interesting. Just talk about that from a consultancy perspective, right? If I’m looking at two different types of organizations and are looking for someone to come in and support and help their transformation, transition and help improve the processes associated with customer experience, how can you determine which one is which? Because often times they’ll say the same things, we want to grow, we want to be better than our competition, we want to provide the best—we hear the same general statements from everyone but yet there’s only so many—the top poster companies for customer experience out there. What’s the difference?

 

Roberta O’Keith: I think a company that has their eyes set on future growth, they’re using words like, innovation, they’re forward thinking. Companies that are feeling the pressure of losing market share they’re ones that are the leaders in their market share that they’re always ahead, those are the companies that are the ones that I think have the greatest opportunity to improve because of their drive and their determination and also their forward thinking. A lot of company struggle in this are that are not so forward thinking, they’re not willing to take the risk that sometimes you need to take when developing CX strategy or to implement and execute some of those strategies, that’s key. I think what their risk tolerance is is definitely indicator of who I’d like to work with. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay. That’s very interesting, thanks for sharing that. When you started talking, I started thinking about something that I often talk a lot about and that is mindset. There’s a book that I’ve been recommending for years if anybody has kids, well heck, it’s not even just about kids anymore, same thing with the [5:51] lead, a book called, Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck. And she talks about having a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset. And as you we’re explaining the difference between those two types of organizations and they’re focus on customer experience and how they view it, I started thinking of a fixed mindset with that company that doesn’t want to take risks that is fearful in their decision-making process and their action taking thinking about whether you stop losing that is absolutely a fixed mindset. Where a growth mindset is, “hey, we’re going to make mistakes and we’re going to learn from those mistakes.” And we need to focus on the positive and we’re going to learn through this. And we need to take some risks because if we don’t take those risks we’re not going to move forward. So, then how do you determine or help an organization that maybe kind of in the middle? 

 

Roberta O’Keith: So, you’re dead on with the two different mindset, the fix mindset and the mindset for growth. Companies need to recognize that in order to change or manage any kind of initiative to grow, if they’re stuck in the middle, they need to identify and see that they have people that are passionate, that are disciplined and people that are resilient to those changes. And if they can find those key persons in their organization they can help drive to change or initiative it’s very important to have. And I think from a business excellence structure or standpoint this is where I come from, is that implementing a program around business excellence can help you drive the innovation and drive the changes needed to improve that customer’s experience and take your company into that next level. And business excellence is all around culture change and how to identify the key people that can help you drive your organization to that next step. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I also know that you’re certified and six Sigma as well as a couple of different things, you even shared a book with me when we are at members meeting at Member Exchange for the Customer Experience for the Professional Association, show me a little bit about that book and what is it about? 

 

Roberta O’Keith: So, what’s interesting, the book I gave you is Energy Leadership by Bruce D. Schneider. He talks about the seven levels of energy that a person kind of gravitates toward or can live between various levels of energy. And energy being—there is energy that goes on between you and I, there’s you feed off of people’s energy it can be positive it could be negative but it’s all about recognizing where you’re at during the situation that you’re in or during a day to help coach yourself to a higher level energy or a lower level of energy. What I mean by that is a lower level of energy like a 1, if you’re level 1 or level 2, really talks about kind of people that they don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, everything is bleak, mundane, they’re the people that you know you don’t want to hang out with because they just seem to bring you down and drain your energy. 

 

As you move up the various levels of energy is where you get more energize to—your problems solve, you’re clear minded, you’re at a win-win mindset versus a I’m a victim mindset. And so, this place is very much into corporations and companies who have maybe an employee engagement issue or culture issue that they’re struggling with in order to help them get to the next level. Being able to recognize and understand this levels of energy can help in organization move through and bring their employees along the journey to become more passionate, more resilient and more disciplined in order to drive change.

 

Jim Rembach:    So that goes back to what you were talking about in regards to an organization and their customer experience focus and transformation strategy is—where’s their energy coming from? 

 

Roberta O’Keith:   Exactly, exactly. And it’s tough some people get discourage, we all get discourage but recognizing  where you’re at on the spectrum if you will, this book helps you identify where you’re at today and where you might want to be tomorrow or on the next hour. And so, it helps you recognize what you think, what you do, and how you emotionally react, so, you can move forward. So, more self-awareness helps you get to that next level or give you that burst of passion and energy to get through the day. 

 

 Jim Rembach:     So it definitely sounds like that’s one of the book for CX folks that are trying to lead the transformation to have in their libraries, so to speak. I think being mindful like you talked about the culture piece, you talked about being in secure places as far as where you are versus where you want to go and being really focused in on the positive energy to help you get down to the right path.

 

Roberta O’Keith:   Absolutely, absolutely. And the book is really more of a story, so it’s an easy read. To understand how a current business owner is struggling with issues within in his company and dealing with various personalities, like we all have to deal with, and so it’s a really good, easy read and I think it’s very insightful for anyone.

 

Jim Rembach:    Also we’re talking a lot about inspiration. You know, energy, like you’re talking about comes from quote that we actually like on the Fast Leader show. Is there a quote or two for you that you can share?

 

Roberta O’Keith:   One of my favorite quotes is Culture eats strategy for dinner and eats innovation for dessert. I think that a great quote because you have to be very mindful of culture and how do you set the culture tongue, and do you drive initiatives move your culture along through any growth or change initiative that you’re facing. 

 

Jim Rembach:    So, when you start thinking about, we shared a little bit about off mic your growing up and how your sister was so much older and then your brother came along and you’ve said that by the time you were born you’re parents kind of wore out, so you got to get away with things that maybe you otherwise wouldn’t have. But we learn a lot through our path and our journey of life and we have humps that we have to get over and a lot of times we get a chance to make course correction and go off to a better direction. But is there a time where you have to get over a hump and it made a difference for you that you can share? 

 

Roberta O’Keith: There is a time in my career where I was the ombuds person who was the one who took on internal complaints for employees that wanted to raise an issue either with the manager or a co-worker confidentially. And I had a co-worker who was having some issues and one day we found her in the rest room passed out barely breathing. And I knew from the stresses that she was going through that it was causing physical issues for her.  Luckily she ended up being okay but that was a real wake-up call for myself because I was feeling like I was in a dark place at my job, I was feeling like I wasn’t valued, I felt like no one cared about what I was doing and just didn’t really feel like—I didn’t have that passion anymore to drive change this particular organization. And it was a wake-up call for me to look at myself and said, “Am I going to be the next person on the bathroom passed out barely breathing because of the stress.” And I realize very quickly I needed to change my mindset or get some help in order to move me forward. And so, I had to leave off that particular toxic environment for my own mind sake and for my health as well. And so I was able to get some coaching, coaching helped me quite a bit this is where I learn more about energy leadership. And it really help be become more self-aware of how I was perceiving situations or perceiving the job or task at hand and how could I bring change because it all starts with me it doesn’t start with other people, the change starts with yourself and how can you bring that passion and that resilience and that discipline to any project or any initiatives, so I definitely learn a lot there overcoming that obstacle.

 

Jim Rembach:    Thanks for sharing that. I know that for many of us it takes a long time to get to that realization. And so many of us also don’t have, I guess you’d say like you were referring to the wake-up call of to finding a co-worker who’s non-responsive in a critical situation, but if you were to give somebody one piece of advice on, if they started to feel those things, what would you tell them so that they didn’t get to that point?

 

Roberta O’Keith: Finding a support system, a support group, a person who you can share those things with definitely—when I was working on a particular project and I wasn’t feeling like I had the support at work with regards to driving some change around customer experience, I sought out other people that were like-minded outside the company through professional organizations to help me move along and know that I’m not the only one struggling with those issues at your company and that I wasn’t crazy and that I can be a zealot for customer experience and I have others that are as zealot as well. Finding that support to really help you move forward is definitely some great advice.

 

Jim Rembach:    You bring up a really good point about the power of community. Oftentimes we think that the community that we are part of is the community that is part of the four walls that are surrounding us and oftentimes we have to take a step outside of that to realize that the community is a lot bigger than we think it is. 

 

Roberta O’Keith: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. I think too. Sometimes we think that if we stay in that four walls we’ve got blinders on and we don’t see any other opportunities out there or way of life that is different in the corporate sense, if you will. And so when I left my job during that time that was pretty difficult, I did leave my job on my own, and I sought out consulting work at that time because I really wanted to overcome the fear of being able to succeed. I was afraid that I couldn’t when I was in that wall and I was really scared. And I got to a point where, you know what, I’m going to take this leap of faith and I’m going to trust in my own ability and trust in my own skill set that I can do what I’ve always dreamed about and that was having my own consulting work and company. And I was able to do that, and boy, the world is so different when you’re a consultant. But I see how I could’ve so much value now to other companies instead of just those four walls and being so confined in those four walls. 

 

Jim Rembach:    We talked off mic about direction and next stage and next space and you talk about being independent **with Black and Veach and I know you’re happy there but when you start thinking about all of these things including your husband going to become a pastor, what are some of your goals?

 

Roberta O’Keith: My goal is to get my husband through seminary, he’s got a year and half left and it’s been a four year journey. Some of the personal goals, I want to be able to give back. One of my goals is really be able to feel that sense of accomplishment with others. I climb that corporate ladder, I’ve achieved the goals that I wanted to achieve from a corporate sense and I’ve achieved personal success through my own company, now it’s more like, where can I help others achieve their goals? And where can I help companies achieve their growth plans or their goals as well? 

 

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

 

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

 

Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Roberta, 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. Roberta O’Keith, are you ready to hoedown? 

 

Roberta O’Keith: I sure am. 

 

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

 

Roberta O’Keith: Fear. 

 

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

 

Roberta O’Keith: Overcome that fear.

 

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

 

Roberta O’Keith: A support system. I’ve got a great husband and family that support me in anything that I do. 

 

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

 

Roberta O’Keith: I think my coaching tools that I’ve learned through energy leadership has definitely helped me. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What would be one book, and it could be from any genre, that you’d recommend to our listeners. Of course we’ll put that Energy Leadership one on the show notes pages, what else?

 

Roberta O’Keith: I really like the book by Tony J, Zappos leader, Delivering Happiness. 

 

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

 

Roberta O’Keith: Listening and facilitation skills, I would definitely want to take back. Because that would help me become more aware and being open minded to hearing other people’s opinion. Back when I was 25 I was pretty opinionated.

 

Jim Rembach:    Roberta, 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?

 

Roberta O’Keith: You can connect with me at rokeith70@yahoo.com or on LinkedIn, robertaokeith. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Robert O’Keith 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]

 

089: Doug Woodard: I could not disclose what had happened

Doug Woodard Show Notes

Doug Woodard was new to his company when he had to terminate a long tenured employee. Doug faced a lot of fear in letting her go and facing the team. While wanting to take ownership of the decision Doug was not able to be transparent with the details. Listen to Doug’s story of how he was able to get over the hump.

As Managing Vice President of Customer Channels for US Card Operations, Doug is responsible for customer contacts across Capital One’s US Card business, spanning both Branded Card and Partnership Card (private label and co-brand cards) portfolios.

The Customer Channels organization delivers on a full spectrum of customer needs including service, fraud, disputes, collections, and recoveries. In addition, the organization provides critical horizontal support functions such as training, knowledge management and workforce management that enable such an extensive network.

The Customer Channels operations network spans 20+ sites and 16,000+ agents in six countries, including internal on-shore, offshore captive, third party suppliers and work at home agents.

Specific functions include Branded Card Servicing, High Value Servicing, Small Business, and Partnership Card service, credit, merchant and commercial operations, along with Specialty Operations.

Prior to joining Capital One, Doug held executive roles at both Staples and Citi, leading extensive customer service operations, as well as accountability for the customer experience strategy. Prior leadership positions included roles at L. L. Bean and Accenture.

Growing up in upstate New York, Doug attended SUNY Albany for both his undergraduate and master’s degrees.  Currently, he resides in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife, Noel and their college-age daughter.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“My job is to take care of the people that take care of my customers.” -Doug Woodard Click to Tweet

“It’s so easy to lose sight of purpose and focus on function.” -Doug Woodard Click to Tweet 

“It’s the purpose and sense of belonging that the person doing the work is connected to.” -Doug Woodard Click to Tweet 

“Without great coaches and mentors there’s no way.” -Doug Woodard Click to Tweet 

“Coaching is a pillar of success.” -Doug Woodard Click to Tweet 

“We’re all bound by the same 24 hours in a day.” -Doug Woodard Click to Tweet 

“Your job as a leader is not to be popular.” -Doug Woodard Click to Tweet 

“Lead by values and do the right thing.” -Doug Woodard Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Doug Woodard was new to his company when he had to terminate a long tenured employee. Doug faced a lot of fear in letting her go and facing the team. While wanting to take ownership of the decision Doug was not able to be transparent with the details. Listen to Doug’s story of how he was able to get over the hump.

Advice for others

It’s easy to worry and obsess about the function and lose site of the purpose. And yet it’s the purpose and sense of belonging that the persons doing the work is connected to that’s really inspiring and unleashes their potential; and that allows us to make amazing customer experiences.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Time and being bound by the same 24 hours as everyone else.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Your job as a leader is not to be popular. It’s not a popularity contest.

Secret to Success

The ability to connect with people is small or large formats and inspire and engage them.

Recommended Reading

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t

Contacting Doug

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/douglas-woodard-51615020

Resources

CX Day is a global celebration of the companies and professionals that create great experiences for their customers put on by the Customer Experience Professionals Association

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”]

089: Doug Woodard: I could not disclose what had happened

 

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.

 

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

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader Legion today we have a special episode on the CX day. What is CX day you might ask? CS day is a global celebration of the companies and the professionals that create great experiences for the customers, it’s actually put on by the Customer Experience Professionals Association. And the guest that I have today on the Fast Leader show was actually a keynote speaker at the Customer Experience Professionals Association’s Member Exchange this year in Atlanta, Georgia. And in this interview Doug Woodard share a personal story of finding his footing and his voice as an introvert in the sea of intimidating extroverts in dealing with and getting over the hump with important personnel issue. Doug Woodard is the managing Vice President of the Customer Channels for US card operations at Capital One. Doug is responsible for customer contacts across Capital One’s US card business spanning both branded card and partnership card which is a private label and co-branded card portfolio. The Customer Channels Organization delivers on a full spectrum of customer needs including service, fraud, disputes, collections and recoveries. 

 

In addition, the organization provides critical horizontal support functions as a training, knowledge management and workforce management group that enables an extensive network. The Customer Channels operation network spans 20+ sites and 16,000 agents in six countries including internal, onshore, offshore captive, third-party suppliers and work-at-home agents. Specific functions include branded card servicing, high-value servicing, small-business and partnership card services credit, merchant, and commercial operations along with specialty operations. Prior to joining Capital One, Doug held executive roles of both Staples and Citi, leading extensive customer service operations as well as accountability for the customer experience strategy. Prior leadership positions that Doug held include roles at L.L. Bean and Accenture. Growing up in Upstate New York, Doug attended the SUNY Albany for both his undergraduate and Master’s degrees. Currently he resides in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife Noel and their college age daughter. And now on to the interview with Doug.

 

Okay, Fast Leader Legion today we have a special guest from the member insight exchange which is the Customer Experience Professionals Association member meeting. And we’re here in Atlanta doing the show. And I am blessed to have on the show today with me Doug Wodard. Doug is the managing VP at Customer Channel in card operations for Capital One. He was born and raised as a military brat. Ultimately settling in Upstate, New York in Hudson Valley and had some really good memories growing up with his younger brother. Doug are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Doug Woodard:    I am. 

 

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

 

Doug Woodard:    Sure. My passion is taking great care of our customers at Capital One and taking great care of my employees, associates and agents that take great care of those customers.

 

Jim Rembach:     You said that in that in a certain order just a second ago but I just had the opportunity to sit with three of your (inaudible 3:38) which it resonated with me in so many different levels, but you actually foot that model. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

 

Doug Woodard:    Sure. One of the things that I believe as a leader is that my job is to take care of the people that take care of my customers. So, ultimately my job is about taking great care of our customers at Capital One in our credit card division but that means that my responsibility is really is about taking care of the people who take of them. 

 

Jim Rembach:    And I think for us we kind of know that intuitively but however we get so focused and you mentioned it in your keynote, actually doing the task and doing the activities of the business that we lose sight of that.

 

Doug Woodard:    That’s right. It’s so easy to lose sight of that. It’s so easy to lose sight of purpose and focus on function. I think it’s very easy as leaders of any discipline to focus on the function at hand so if we talk about what I do for living and have responsibility for all of our contact centers, for all of our different kind of functions, it’s so easy to worry about and obsess about that function and lose sight of the purpose it’s the purpose  it’s the sense of belonging that the person doing the work is connected to that’s really inspiring and that really unleashes their potential and that allows us to make amazing customer experiences.

 

Jim Rembach:     You mentioned something for us that’s really important is that inspiration and that passion and that intrinsic drive and motivation. And on the show we often look at leadership quotes to help us with that because sometimes they just ground us and head us in the direction that we need to be going, if we are going there. Is there a quote or two that is important to you that you can share with us? 

 

Doug Woodard:    Gosh! It’s actually hard to narrow down, my team knows that I love quotes and I use them all the time. A couple of come to mind, first is, maybe one that isn’t necessarily associated with leadership but Maya Angelou said: ‘People will forget what you did for them. They forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel.’ I’m abbreviating her quote but I actually think that’s a really important leadership quote. When you think about the jobs we have as leaders, when you think about the difference between purpose and function I really think the power of inspiration is thinking through the responsibility that you have for how it feels to work in your team, your organization, your company, whatever you’re responsible for. How did making people feel both customers and employees? And so that is actually for me a leadership quote. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Really powerful one too. And had well over 60, 70, 80, episodes and that quote has actually come up quite common so it has an amazing impact on a lot of people. So, your definitely in the mixed with a lot of others where you kind of have grounded yourself in the proper meaning and mindset and making that huge impact, we don’t always do that and we have humps that we have to get over and we have a lot of lessons that we’ve learned within that, can you share a story about a time where you’ve had to get over a hump in leading yourself or others that kind of helped you? 

 

Doug Woodard:    Sure. I think the biggest hump for me has been—I’m actually strongly an introvert. And so very early in my career it was a little difficult to find my footing, to find my voice because it was so intimidating oftentimes being in an environment of people who I and sometimes later learned they weren’t, but I assumed were extroverts because they’re out in front leading and they’re able to inspire and engage enormous people. And I would look and marvel and would dream and aspire to be one of those kind of leaders but would be held back from being an introvert and needing to find that my voice became something that has just been a theme throughout my career to the point where I tried to be very clear about my leadership principles, what my leadership voice is, but that was really hump for a long time. 

 

Jim Rembach:     So when you start talking about that hump, can you think about a specific time or a real story where you have some details and kind of cause you to think differently? It might not have been at that moment at that time but can you think about a time where you can reflect upon?

 

Doug Woodard:    Sure. You know, early in my career I had to make a difficult decision to let someone go who had been with this company for a really long time, this is a couple companies ago, and she was I thought seen as the cultural center of the group and yet she had made a set of really bad choices let’s say, she had crossed a line of values and principles for the company not just for me that there really was no going back and I really faced a lot fear in both the act of letting her go as a leader but then facing the team, and I was relatively new to this company, and wanting to take the ownership of the decision but it was a highly sensitive situation and I could not disclose what had happened and my fear was that it was going to be seen as a power struggle between me and her but the reality was there had been some things that were done behind the scenes that again were such a clear violation of the companies’ rules and values and principles that the separation was not questionable but because of the sensitivity you couldn’t point to that and I had go in front of this group that had known her as a leader for really long time and without specifics the decision and that was a really difficult thing to do and I face it with a great deal of trepidation but I got some great coaching and at the end just had to be my natural self and exhibit the same care and compassion for the team as I had throughout my brief tenure and that got me through it. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I think you brought up a really important word that we all have to remind ourselves of and that is coaching and that we shouldn’t do some of the things that we do in isolation.

 

Doug Woodard:    Oh, absolutely. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Getting that coaching and getting that support and that help.

 

Doug Woodard:    That is so true. You know without great coaches and mentors there’s no way that I go from being a quiet kid in the back of the classroom to now having responsibility for this huge global operations for I think one of the biggest and best brands. I’m so honored to have the job that I have but without that kind of coaching, without people taking time out of their day to help me to find my voice to figure out how to be a successful introvert in a world seemingly filled with extroverts, there’s no way I’ll get this job, it’s critical. And no matter—my job or my title or my responsibility to this day, coaching, advice, good counsel, is a pillar of success and I couldn’t do it without the input of others.

 

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 to operate. Get over your emotional hump now by going empathymapping.com to learn more. 

 

Alright Fast Leader listeners, it’s time for the Member Exchange version of the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay Doug, 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. Doug Woodard, are you ready to hoedown?

 

Doug Woodard:    I’m ready to hoedown.

 

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

 

Doug Woodard:    Time. We’re all bound by the same 24 hours in a day, it constrains on what we want to do and I think the choices we make. Time are really always a challenge. 

 

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

 

Doug Woodard:    Your job as a leader is not to be popular. It’s not a popularity contest you need to lead by values and do the right thing and realize the right thing is not trying to win popularity votes. 

 

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

 

Doug Woodard:    The time that I think that I’ve invested in trying to be always a better communicator. The ability to connect with people in either small format or large format and inspire and engage them and I think has been one of the most critical elements of my success.

 

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

 

Doug Woodard:    Good to Great, Jim Collins. 

 

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

 

Doug Woodard:    I think if I only have one it would be that ability to engage and inspire as a skill. I think that has been the thing that is underpinned all of my success and has been the differentiator of my career not only in terms of my personal success but more importantly what’s enabled me to help lift others up.

 

Jim Rembach:    Doug, 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?

 

Doug Woodard:    Sure. They can find me on LinkedIn. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Doug Woodard, 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  

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061: Lynn Hunsaker: I will inconvenience myself to do that

Lynn Hunsaker Show Notes

Lynn Hunsaker moved to Belgium without being able to speak Dutch. She found herself needing to quickly speak the language in order to build key relationships. Lynn did learn how to build her skills in Dutch quickly and later discovered that the skills she developed helped her in some unsuspecting ways. Listen to Lynn tell her story of how her new language experience helped her get over several humps in life.

Lynn has one brother and three sisters and all of them were born in different states in the US. As a youngster Lynn lived in 11 states, with most of them being west of the Mississippi River. Lynn even learned Dutch while living a year and a half in Belgium and The Netherlands as a church missionary volunteer.

Lynn was always also a shy kid, even when her grandparents came to visit. She was reserved in sharing her opinions but eventually noticed that others who spoke up got more perks, and her ideas were just as good. So Lynn learned to build the courage to speak up, and found herself moving up quickly.

Within 4 years Lynn became Head of Corporate Quality for a Fortune 250 company in Silicon Valley, the only woman and youngest person in most of the executive meetings she attended. Lynn learned to stand her ground and be assertive.

Lynn’s roles over 11 years required her to engage every line of business, account team, and support function in making substantial improvements. With no direct authority over any of them, she had to achieve goals through influence.

What helped Lynn most was getting familiar with frameworks and techniques for change management, personality types, managing assumptions and intended outcomes, situational leadership, organizational learning, internal communications, and accountability.

Now Lynn is putting her knowledge and skills to use in an entrepreneurial endeavor called the Marketing Future Forum, designed to help marketers become more efficient and effective in their jobs through interactive learning opportunities in small bites of time.

Lynn is also currently leading 2 sister-companies: Marketing Operations Partners and ClearAction customer experience consulting. Both are focused on cross-functional collaboration to get things right the first time for customers’ well-being and organic business growth.

Lynn is an active volunteer, she has served for 10 years on the Silicon Valley American Marketing Association Board of Directors, 6 years on the Bay Area Association for Psychological Type Board of Directors, serves on the leadership council of her church’s women’s organization, and is the Director of earthquake preparedness, across 8 congregations in Silicon Valley, and is a frequent co-chair of committees for the Customer Experience Professionals Association.

As a frequent columnist in customer experience publications and speaker at customer experience events, Lynn hopes to change the lot of customers lives (mankind) by perpetuating a holistic view of customer experience management, especially cross-functional engagement to prevent recurrence of issues, and make businesses lovable, with raving fans.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“I’m excited about spreading knowledge as far and wide as possible.” -Lynn Hunsaker Click to Tweet

“I really enjoy seeing things from different perspectives.” -Lynn Hunsaker Click to Tweet 

“I’ve always felt lucky in life and that I needed to give to the world.” -Lynn Hunsaker Click to Tweet 

“Let’s welcome early warning signals and constructive feedback.” -Lynn Hunsaker Click to Tweet 

“I will inconvenience myself to make sure I’m seeing it from the other person’s perspective.” -Lynn Hunsaker Click to Tweet 

“I have a lot of passion when I see a path toward a to-be picture.” -Lynn Hunsaker Click to Tweet 

“If they want me to deviate from the path they need to give me reasons.” -Lynn Hunsaker Click to Tweet 

“As a leader, make sure there’s a shared vision.” -Lynn Hunsaker Click to Tweet 

“In organizations we often assume there’s a shared vision.” -Lynn Hunsaker Click to Tweet 

“Checking for understanding is the biggest skill that has affected me.” -Lynn Hunsaker Click to Tweet 

“Understanding what’s driving other’s assumptions helps me maintain my passion.” -Lynn Hunsaker Click to Tweet 

“Part of passion is the persistence element.” -Lynn Hunsaker Click to Tweet 

“If you let go of a passion readily, then it wasn’t really a passion.” -Lynn Hunsaker Click to Tweet 

“The human interaction is so important.” -Lynn Hunsaker Click to Tweet 

“When you delegate to people, help them see the intended outcome and then let them be free.” -Lynn Hunsaker Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Lynn Hunsaker moved to Belgium without being able to speak Dutch. She found herself needing to quickly speak the language in order to build key relationships. Lynn did learn how to build her skills in Dutch quickly and later discovered that the skills she developed helped her in some unsuspecting ways. Listen to Lynn tell her story of how her new language experience helped her get over several humps in life.

Advice for others

Learn about intended outcomes management.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Bootstrapping things.

Best Leadership Advice Received

When you delegate to people, help them see the intended outcome and then let them be free.

Secret to Success

Doing the whole job and taking a look at the big picture and making sure all of the pieces fit together.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

Techniques that I learned in change management class.

Recommended Reading

Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment: How to Improve Quality, Productivity, and Employee Satisfaction

Contacting Lynn

Website: http://www.clearactioncx.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/clearaction

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”]

061: Lynn Hunsaker: I will inconvenience myself to do that

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 intelligent practitioner, Jim Rembach.

 

Developing your contact center agents using surveys are what monkeys do. Elevate your ROI and BOC by building integrity and agent engage mode to survey calibration process only available in the award winning in the External Quality Monitoring program from Customer Relationship Metrics. Move onward and upward by going to www.customergradeacall.com/fast and getting your $7,500 rapid results package for free.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader Legion, today I’m excited because I have the opportunity to share with you somebody that I have known for a couple of years and we’ve had some really good conversations and being able to introduce her to you is something that does mean a lot to me. Lynn Hunsaker has one brother and three sisters and all of them were born in different states in the US. As a youngster Lynn lived in 11 states with most of them being west of the Mississippi River. Lynn even learn Dutch while living a year and a half in Belgium and the Netherlands as a church missionary volunteer. Lynn was always a shy kid even what her grandparents would come to visit. She was reserved in sharing her opinions but eventually noticed that others who spoke up got more perks, and her ideas were just as good. So, Lynn learn to build courage to speak up and found herself moving up quickly.

 

Within four years Lynn became head of corporate quality for Fortune 250 companies in Silicon Valley, the only woman and the youngest person in many of the executive meeting she attended. Lynn learned to stand her ground and to be assertive. Lynn’s roles over 11 years required her to engage in every line of business, accounting, and support function and making substantial improvements. With no direct authority over any of them she had to achieve goals to influence what help Lynn most was getting familiar with frameworks and techniques for change management, personality types, managing assumptions, and intended outcomes, situational leadership, organizational learning, internal communications and accountability. Lynn is also currently leading to sister companies, marketing, operations partners and clear action customer experience consulting. Both are focused on cross functional collaboration to get things right the first time for customer’s well-being and organic business grow.

 

Lynn is an active volunteer. She has served for 10 years on the Silicon Valley, American Marketing Association Board of Directors, six years on the Bay Area Association for psychological type Board of Directors, serves on the leadership Council for her church women’s organization and is the director of Earthquake Preparedness across eight congregations in Silicon Valley and is a frequent co-chair of committees for the Customer Experience Professionals Association. As a frequent columnist in customer experience publications and speaker at customer service events, Lynn hopes to change a lot of customer’s lives by perpetuating a holistic view of customer experience management especially across cross-functional engagements to prevent recurrence of issues and make businesses lovable with raving fans. Lynn Hunsaker, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Lynn Hunsaker:    Bring it on Jim, I’m ready. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I’ve given our folks a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so tha we can get to know you even better? 

 

Lynn Hunsaker:    I’m really excited about spreading knowledge as far and wide as possible and I found that one of the best ways to do that is in group settings where people have a lot of interaction such as using social media and other community platforms and subscription opportunities, so in pursuing in both marketing operations partners and clear action we feel like this is the way to make new ideas go viral and accelerate adoption within companies as well. 

 

Jim Rembach:    You know Lynn for the longest time I consider you one of the leading technical experts in regards to some of the things that we’ve already talked about as far as the marketing operations piece the customer experience piece, the cross collaboration piece, I think you’re a machine in regards to the way that you produce so much of the material in regards to these particular areas of new businesses, both be B to B and B to C that—how do you do it? How do you actually do it? Do you have a bunch of minions that we don’t know about? Helping you produce all these?

 

Lynn Hunsaker:    I don’t know. I get ideas and I have tons of ideas that I haven’t yet executed on. I really enjoy seeing things from different perspectives as I talk to people and that’s usually my best spotter, seeing how other people are talking about things or how thing come across as I’m explaining something to them. That gives me ten new ideas for things I want to put out there and help people choose a better path. 

 

Jim Rembach:    You bring up an interesting point about the ten different things. And maybe it’s a gender thing and I’m just a guy and I’m automatically defective in that, guys just don’t multitask. We don’t have the connection between our two brain hemispheres that women have. And so, we have a little bit about, unless you try to do that, but for me I think about 10 different ideas when I see what people are talking about but I have difficulty just executing on one. Because for me for example, the whole writing thing just seems to take a long time. And people asked me to write all the time but heck I’d rather have a guest and do a podcast video. So, if you start thinking about those 10 ideas and being able to put them in textual form and you do that and it seems like so rapidly, what helps you execute and do it quickly to get all 10 things when I’m struggling with just one?

 

Lynn Hunsaker:    I don’t really know. I know that in 2009 there was a downturn and I made some goals that were pretty ambitious for getting my ideas out there because you wanted to accelerate business as quickly as possible and that economic downturn. I hired some people to show me how to do the webcasting and podcasting and blogging and I think practice makes perfect. I was very productive that year but it was very difficult because it was my first time trying those kinds of things. And now, I think that repurposing content is such a big deal, you create something in writing or on the podcast then you can switch it over to the other mode, take snippets of different things and repurpose them. Sometimes it looks like there’s a heck of a lot more new stuff when it’s actually breathing new life into things that were existing and just rearranging them for a new mode.

 

Jim Rembach:    And I think that’s a really important point, thanks for sharing that, is that we have to think a little bit big picture and holistically when it comes to anything that we develop these days. Because having access to it to be able to have multiple and different audiences connect with it that means we have to put in different types of medium, so that’s a great thought. Now you and have also had a lot of discussions, your parents were missionaries and so that was part of the moving around in different places and you have a strong faith and so I know that also being an author, a speaker that there’s a lot of things that you look for in inspiration because we talk about those. You and I had the opportunity to trap a bunch of quotes and inspire us on several occasions but is there one or two that you can share with the audience that helps and give you that extra drive and push?

 

 Lynn Hunsaker:   Well, certainly where much is given much is required, I’ve always felt lucky in life and that I needed to give to the world. One of the big quotes that made a huge difference in my career was from our chairman at Applied Materials, which is the semiconductor equipment company, our chairman was James Morgan and he used to say, “Good news is no news, no news is bad news and bad news is good news.” Which I think gives everyone pause to try to interpret what that means. 

 

What it meant for me and as I used it as a voice of the customer manager and customer experience improvement director and then later as a head of corporate quality there was, Gee whiz, we already know we’re pretty good so good news is no news, we do get a lot accolades but we’re pretty sharp people and were very proud of that. So, no news is bad news because there are people who aren’t informing us of what’s going on in their minds they’re going to be voting with their dollars and will be left in the cold. And finally bad news is good news means let’s welcome early warning signals, let’s welcome a constructive feedback and take it as such and humble ourselves to be appreciative for those early warning signals so that we can make sure we’re always on the trajectory that we can think we’re on. And I found that to be powerful in many dimensions in my life. I still remind myself of it even just yesterday as I was receiving feedback from one of my colleagues.

 

Jim Rembach:    Thanks for sharing that. One thing that kind of stood out to me that I had to correct myself with is that when I heard you say that I’m like, “When do you celebrate?” We needed some of that as far as the motivation piece is concerned. So, I think though when I look at it again there’s humility in that. 

 

Lynn Hunsaker:    Yes we do celebrate the good news but that’s given that’s why it’s no news, doesn’t mean no celebrating.

 

 Jim Rembach:    Got it. We definitely have to celebrate. So, I know you had mentioned to me a couple of other quotes that are important to you.

 

Lynn Hunsaker:    I had this quote when I was a young girl, I think I must have been about nine or ten and that was on an index card at one of the classes I attended and I put it on my bulletin board and I just love it. It’s kind of weird because when you’re thinking of the language here and my age it resonated with me and I left it on my bulletin board for, I don’t know five or six years, and I think it was by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do not that the nature of the thing has changed but our ability to do has increased.” And I think that it goes back to my initial story about learning how to repurpose material and a very prolific, you persist in doing it now it becomes second nature and sweep it out.

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s very true. I can definitely see how that has influenced you even from a long time ago until today, thanks for sharing that again. Gosh, I know there’s—even you and I, we have this conversations about our own humps that we were trying to get over and hopefully we’ve helped each other accomplish that. As far as sharing one of those humps with an audience can you tell us a time by which you’ve had to get over it and it really set you on a better course of direction?

 

Lynn Hunsaker:    Well, sure. There’ve been many times when I’ve been puzzled by what’s going on with the group that I’m leading or group that I’m participating in. I think one of the most definitive humps that I achieved was just to begin to view things from the other person’s perspective. For example, when I went to Holland and Belgium I had only learned a little bit of Dutch in a language school and you don’t really learn that much from even high school classes when you’re learning a foreign language, the best thing to do is to be immersed. So, I was immersed and sitting there with people speaking Dutch. I didn’t understand everything they were saying but I mimic what they were staying in their mouth inside my own mouth. And I found myself bunging myself sitting in their shoes and check that further with other things and other scenarios later in life, in my school, in my work imagining myself sitting where the other person’s sitting. 

 

And I think that that probably was more emphasized for me because of the nature of the work that I was doing, which is customer satisfaction work, you’re trying to understand what’s going on in the customer’s mind and then trying to help your executives and fellow employees to adopt what was going on in the customer’s mind and make use of it. So you have to, also in my role, I had to step in to the shoes of the people around me, my executives and fellow employees, and see things from their perspective and then connect the dots. So, that’s been reiterated over and over again and I’ve taken it to the point where, if I imagine that I need to have physical proximity or make myself available to meet them where they are, I will inconvenience myself to do that because I know that it’s in the best interest of us both. And I need to make sure that I’m seeing it from the other person’s perspective and treating it like that way in order to get the progress that I want. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Thanks for sharing that. There’s a couple of things that stood out to me when you’re referring to that and one being is that, that doesn’t happen quickly. Even learning a new language, they say it’s easy when we were a young child and we can pick it up, but you’re a teen at that time I think as you’re referencing it, it was a little bit harder to learn the language as we get older. But what you did was totally engulf yourself with it and took the time and the effort in order to be able to get to the point to where I think in a year and a half you were pretty fluent with Dutch.

 

Lynn Hunsaker:    That’s right. I was able to get 16 credits of A grade just by taking one medieval literature course in Dutch, that was the only one they offered it was just horrible like, “Why are we learning this kind of Dutch language, nobody speaks this way anymore? But we had a Dutch guy who was teaching it and that’s what he thought was really great for college course and then the rest was through testing. And so I do still think in Dutch occasionally especially my most personal thoughts and I like to use it whenever I can.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well, and so for me, I think that is just a great really connection also too Fast Leader show because oftentimes people think, “Hey, Fast, how can I get there quick?” Well, how you get there quick is by doing it the right way and not by taking shortcuts.

 

Lynn Hunsaker:    That’s right, you think it’s right the first time. 

 

Jim Rembach:    There you go. And so the beauty, and why we love for folks like you to share your stories, is that we can learn from that and that’s the power of stories it’s experience that we can borrow somebody else’s experience, so thanks for sharing that experience. If you start thinking—gosh, we talked about so many things that you have on your plate, but if there was one thing that’s really giving you a lot of energy and a goal that you have, what would be?

 

Lynn Hunsaker:    I have a lot of passion when I see a path toward a ‘to be picture’. Something that would be so awesome compared to the way things are right now. And I can automatically create this path toward it. I often use some kind of research in creating path and I like to get a lot of inputs from other people. But vision at the end state is something that I maintain a lot of continuity for as well as the path to get there, so that’s one thing that people working with me are well-informed to know that if they want me to deviate from the path they need to give me reasons. I don’t just ads I don’t just jump off from that. I have a lot of energy for this earthquake preparedness committee that I’m leading. I have a lot of energy for everything that I’m doing and I think that half of it is just having the vision. And then of course as a leader the other half is making sure there’s a shared vision and I think that that is something that we take for granted quite a lot. I liken it to—if you’re going on a trip with somebody and you haven’t figured out you both want to spend your time this way or that way, you quickly learn that you don’t have a shared vision. In organizations we often assumed that there’s a shared vision and checking for understanding I think is the biggest skill that has affected me in my adult life because it wasn’t something that was kind of part and parcel of my childhood it just didn’t check for understanding you took things at face value and you fell in line with things. So realizing that people may not be falling in line or that I might not even be falling in line or maybe the line that we’re following may not be the best line. So, I’m always checking my own assumptions and checking my assumptions about others, understanding what’s driving others assumptions can help me maintain my passion as well. I think that part of passion is the persistence, there’s a persistence element to it. If you let go of a passion readily then it wasn’t really a passion.

 

Jim Rembach:    You mentioned something about the passion for this earthquake preparedness? What has given you passion about earthquake preparedness?

 

Lynn Hunsaker:    When I first got that assignment I didn’t really know much about, and I thought, “Well, let me take a class from the Red Cross, let me take a class from my city and see more about what there is. I’ll tell you the first day that I took that class, I came home from it, it was around 9:00 o’clock and I smelled some smoke in my neighborhood and I thought—wow, what’s going on, I can’t see any fire trucks or whatever. But I turned on the news, which I liked to turn on the news at night, and lo and behold the San Bruno gas explosion had happened and I don’t know if the smoke was coming from that, but this was a huge issue with dozens of homes and fatalities just south of San Francisco where a gas pipe a burst in the neighborhood that evening, and that really drove a home of the importance of what I was embarking on.

 

And as took the classes I learn so much about how people’s lives were at stake and how there was also real tender element about those kinds of situations where the human interaction is so important. So since then I’ve had meetings with my neighbors, a couple of years in a row where they come over and we talked about how we’re going to help each other thinking about who’s going to do this, who’s going to do that now so that if I’m out of town and we can take care of each other. So, there’s a lot to it like that, I think the human element and human to human stuff is a huge part of what turns people on and turns me on in particular and drives that passion.

 

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.

 

Max on contact center agent performance is impossible unless your customers involve in grading and coaching agents. So make it simple for you and customers with the award winning External Quality Monitoring program from Customer Relationship Metrics. Get over the hump now by going to customergradeacall.com/fast and getting your $7500 a rapid results package for free.

 

Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Lynn, 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. Lynn Hunsaker, are you ready to hoedown?

 

Jim Rembach:    You bet, bring it on. 

 

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

 

Lynn Hunsaker:    Probably bootstrapping things. So a matter of resourcing. 

 

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

 

Lynn Hunsaker:    Well I read the book called that Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment and it was incredibly impactful and helping me to see what empowerment actually is. When you delegate the people help them see the intended outcome that you have and then let go let them be free.

 

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

 

Lynn Hunsaker:    Doing the whole job. Taking a look at the big picture and making sure that all the pieces fit together.

 

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

 

Lynn Hunsaker:    Techniques that I learned in change management classes. I can’t underscore enough how important it is for anybody who wants to make an impact in an organization to take a formal change management classes, not about coping it’s about and being strategic in making change happen. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What one book would you recommend to our listeners, they could be from any genre? 

 

Lynn Hunsaker:    Well, I think that Zapp! The Lightning and Empowerment might be a good one. It’s a pretty quick read. It’s entertaining and you can certainly finish it on a trip from San Francisco to LA. 

 

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/Lynn Hunsaker. Okay, Lynn 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 you could only choose one, so what one skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

Lynn Hunsaker:    I learned about intended outcome in an executive leadership course I took in my 30’s and I wish I would’ve known about intended outcomes management much earlier. It’s the idea of looking at the end point what are you trying to achieve and then allowing a lot more flexibility in terms of getting there but in every interaction preparing for it. What is the other person going to be expecting? What am I expecting to happen? And how does this contribute toward that intended outcome? So usually an intended outcome is something that takes several steps or several interactions to get toward, you might not even as a state out right but being clear about it in your own mind from the beginning that will keep you on course.

 

Jim Rembach:    Lynn, 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?

 

Lynn Hunsaker:    Sure. I’m on LinkedIn, LynnHunsaker. I’ve got Twitter @clearaction and my website is clearactioncx.com

 

Jim Rembach:    Lynn Hunsaker, 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 www.fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.

 

END OF AUDIO

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048: Tabitha Dunn: I feel like I was punched in the gut

Tabitha Dunn Show Notes

Tabitha Dunn was given the responsibility to pull together a team to determine the best way to measure customer service. After collecting information inside and outside of the organization Tabitha’s team presented their recommendations on what to keep and change. When their recommendations were met with resistance by executives, Tabitha felt like she was punched in the gut. Listen to Tabitha tell her story about what she missed and how you can move onward and upward faster.

Tabitha grew up moving around quite a lot since her father was in the military. Born in California and having lived in New York, Maryland, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Nebraska, Oregon, Colorado, Greece and Germany. By the time she graduated from high school, she had lived in more places than most people live in a lifetime.

Growing up with so much change has given her the experience to confidently face new things and change. This pattern of change has followed her into adulthood where she has worked across multiples functions in business (from Quality and Operations to Customer Service and Account Management) and in various industries (such as government contracts, semiconductor, manufacturing, healthcare and software).

Tabitha’s current career passion is building and leading customer experience functions. In her current role, she leads the customer experience discipline for Concur, an SAP company.

Tabitha currently resides in Bellevue, Washington and is happily married to her best friend for the past 20 years, has a 12 year old daughter and loves to read books and ballroom dancing.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“I’m the person that can make changes; I can’t ask other people to change.” Click to Tweet

“I try and remind myself…look for what’s working really well.” Click to Tweet 

“One of the best ways to make changes is to get ideas of what would work.” Click to Tweet 

“Get them involved and help apply their passion.” Click to Tweet 

“It is about helping one another and being able to lean on one another.” Click to Tweet 

“If we use both the positive as well as the negative side…it helps to bring people along.” Click to Tweet 

“One of the best things I can do for my team is to share stories.” Click to Tweet 

“They get to make their own mistakes, but not mine.” Click to Tweet 

“You’ve got to bring people along for the entire journey.” Click to Tweet 

“If I feel like I’m not able to make a difference than I’m really not happy.” Click to Tweet 

“What am I going to do to make a difference?” Click to Tweet 

“What am I going to do to help my people?” Click to Tweet 

“If I’m that excited to do it, they’re likely just as excited to do it.” Click to Tweet 

“It should be my job to shift to coaching and help them grow and reach.” Click to Tweet 

“Making a difference is not always doing…often it’s coaching the people.” Click to Tweet 

“Tell me if I’m giving you enough coaching and support.” Click to Tweet 

“We’re not planning for perfect, we should stop thinking it will be.” Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Tabitha Dunn was given the responsibility to pull together a team to determine the best way to measure customer service. After collecting information inside and outside of the organization Tabitha’s team presented their recommendations on what to keep and change. When their recommendations were met with resistance by executives, Tabitha felt like she was punched in the gut. Listen to Tabitha tell her story about what she missed and how you can move onward and upward faster.

Advice for others

Do not plan for perfect. Get it right enough to move forward.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Not enough sleep.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Work in different parts of the business, so you can see how they all work together.

Secret to Success

I get up at 5am and workout.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

Constantly learning.

Recommended Reading

The Martian

Contacting Tabitha

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tabithadunn

Resources

The power of the word “Together”

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”]

048: Tabitha Dunn: I feel like I was punched in the gut

 

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.

“Whether in the office or on the road work with your community or coach to practice great behavior and produce great organizational results capture real-time behavior practice competency-based development plans and invite feedback in an elegant and simple application. Take top performance mobile by going to resultpal.com/fast and getting a $750 performance package for free.”

Jim Rembach:    Thanks, Kimberly. Okay Fast Leader Legion, I finally got this person on the show today that I’ve been trying to get for a while, I’ve known her for a little bit but she’s just one of those people who’ve always intrigued, we banter and kid with each other, she’s brilliant and I’m so excited that you’ve got the chance to meet her today. 

Tabitha Dunn grew up as a military brat. She was born in California but lived in New York, Maryland, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Oregon, Colorado, Greece, Germany and by the time she graduated from high school she had lived in 10 different places, eight states across couple different countries. Growing up was always change has given her the experience to confidently face new things and changes. This pattern of change has followed her into her adulthood where she has worked across multiple functions and business from quality and operations to customer service to account management and in various industries such as government contracting, semi-conductor, manufacturing, healthcare and software. 

Tabitha’s current career passion is building and leading customer experience functions. In her current role she leaves the customer experience discipline for Concur an SAP company. She currently lives in Bellevue, Washington where she is happily married to her best friend for the past 20 years and has a 12-year-old daughter and loves to read books and do ballroom dancing. Tabitha Dunn are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Tabitha Dunn:    Oh, I certainly am. And boy, you’re making me blush for all of that. I had to say, every time I talk to you Jim, you always makes me smile, I think that’s particularly special gift, I love that. 

Jim Rembach:    I appreciate that. I’ve given our listeners a little bit about you, but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you better?

Tabitha Dunn:    Absolutely. Hush! There’s so many passion, but it really comes down to—I can’t stand for to go by my life where I haven’t been learning something. So for example, this year I finally, after 20 years, talk my husband into doing ballroom dancing with me, and he’s falling in love with it. He got to pick the dance, we’re doing Argentine Tango lessons together. Every week there’s so much fun, my daughter’s learning French and I thought, the best way to learn and know a language is to get to speak it with other people. So, my husband and I are learning French with her so that we can have the fun of being able to do that. We look forward to maybe going to France someday, maybe next summer, to try out our French language and get to go see another culture.

Jim Rembach:    Listening to you tell that story, thanks for sharing, is that there’s a couple of things that definitely resonated and connected with me. One of things that I’ve been trying to do in the past couple years is not to repeat the previous year. They say as you get older the years start to seem to go by faster and faster and if you break down you look at some of the neuro-science and brain science associated with aging, one of the main reasons that it seems to occur and move faster as we get older is because we’ve built so many habits in our lives and so what happens we’re essentially on cruise control, we’re on automatic pilot, we’re not disrupting enough inside of ourselves. 

And so, I’ve really try to be conscious and make a conscious effort of not repeating that same year and doing some things that are really dramatically different and the Fast Leader was my effort of doing that for 2015. I can tell you it brought so many things to my life, like this opportunity just to spend with you and to share our conversation with others that has been a blessing. I’m trying to do the same thing for 2016 so to me I got drawn to that. When you go through those shifts and you try to make those big adjustments you need a lot of inspirations to do that and we focus on quotes on the Fast Leader show to help give us that extra push. Is there one or two quotes that stands out for you that do that?

Tabitha Dunn:    Those are always, I think, such a tough question because quotes are hard for me to remember but I have on my desk this little disk, it’s a heavy metal disk, and it’s, “To be the change you wish to see in the world.” And I know that’s been improperly attributed to a number of different people over the years, but wherever it came from it just resonates with me because it reminds me that I’m the person that can make changes. I can’t ask other people to change that’s just not an expectation that’s ever going to come true.  I can change though, and that change reminder that quote is just too powerful for me. 

Jim Rembach:    It definitely is for me as well.  Even when you started talking about your story of learning ballroom dancing, getting your husband do it, your daughter learning French and everybody learning French, that is almost true. I had just the opportunity to interview somebody who’s talking about culture change in an organization and being part of an organization that maybe has been a had a culture that’s been around for a very long time and moving that barge can be really difficult. A lot times it’s easier to start a new and building the culture you want, but happens when you go and try to change one that’s already in place? He talked about that barge is moving so we need a tugboat, that’s a great analogy. 

Tabitha Dunn:    It is, I love that. 

Going back to the quotes and the story telling and the things like that. When you start talking about trying to inspire others to make changes in the organization, be more customer focus, be more customer centric, what are some of the things you do or used to help make those connections and make that movement? 

Tabitha Dunn:    A lot of times when we’re trying to make a difference we focus on what’s not working well, we want to go fix something, I think it’s internal part of human nature. I admit it I am definitely a fixer. But I try and remind myself that I also look for what’s working really well as well and go find those things, because those are the things we can build upon. If I think about customer experience and I think, okay, often the best ways to make changes is to get those ideas that would work from people across the business and help get them involved and help apply their passion to help bring us all together. I know I use the word ‘help’ a lot because it is about helping one another and it’s about being able to lean on one another and make that difference. If we use both the positive as well as the negative side to think about all of those differences we want to make, it really does help bring people along in that change. 

Jim Rembach:    You’re right and it’s not just opinion that has proven that to be the fact, there was a study that I was reading that was stating—and you have to be genuine with this is what I’m getting ready to share, this is a genuine issue is that, using the word and focusing in on the  concept and the meanings of together, by people believing they are in something together and it is genuine, just by using that word and people feeling it causes performance to skyrocket. 

Tabitha Dunn:    That’s fascinating. I haven’t read that, I love it if you’d share that with me, that’s interesting. 

Jim Rembach:    I’ll see if I can find and make it available on the show notes page for your episode which you’ll be able to find at fastleader.net/Tabitha Dunn, I’ll try to do that.  When you started talking about your story of being an army brat, moving all over different places, and I know you’ve been with a couple of organizations trying to implement this customer centric and human centric organizations, there’s a whole lot humps that we have to get over in order to reach some goals we want to reach, is there a story that you can share with us that can reveal some of those humps that you had to get over so it can help us? 

Tabitha Dunn:    I always feel like one of the things that I can do for my team the best is to share stories things that I didn’t do particularly well in the hopes that helping them. Felling my pain will help them, make sure that they won’t repeat that, they get their own mistakes but maybe not mine. I use to work for Xerox. I work for Xerox during the time of incredible pain and suffering. It was the time when Xerox was in the news every single day. I’ve never going, “When it’s going to go bankrupt?” I am okay, he’s got to admit that’s going to go bankrupt. And she was determined that we weren’t going to do this. That we we’re going to fight to save the history of our company and make a difference and really turn it around. I know Harvard Business Review has even written a great story about that turn around. And being married during those years gave me an incredible opportunity to turn my hands to so many different parts of the business to go help and make a difference. 

One of them was where we try to look at different parts of our services organization to be able to align metrics and I was asked to pull together a team to say, “Let’s figure out what the best ways are to measure customer service. Let’s figure out like how are we doing other parts to services and Xerox how do we do it in our part, and what are best practices elsewhere.” You and the team should comeback with a recommendation for what the new set of metrics could be and show what we’re going to keep and why. Show where are we going to change and why. And my team and I were super excited and we put it a ton of work and a lot of heart into that process. I remember when we got up and we each to turn and we’re sharing throughout the whole process and the entire time that we were presenting, I think that my heart fell all the way to the floor because there was so much resistance in the room. I could see my team just like, supplanting over their chairs and feeling almost like they were being hit even though I know now that those leaders in that room were not trying to have that impression. 

I remember walking out of the room and my executive ** looked them in said, “Well, that didn’t go well did it?” And I’m like, “No, no it didn’t.” And he said, “We should talk about why that went wrong.” And he said, “Do you understand what you did?” And I’m like, “ I feel like I miss something really important.” And he said, “ You missed the other people in the room. You and your team did great work at getting input but you didn’t let it with anyone of these leaders beforehand. You didn’t get like, how much resistance they give you, even just having a chance to have a sneak-peak at what you guys were thinking about to that they could have a say or even just know what was coming, they would’ve appreciated it so much more.” And I’m like, “Something that simple, I thought the presentation was supposed to give them that insight?” And he said, “No, no, no you’ve got to bring people along the entire journey, and they weren’t with you for that journey, and they didn’t see what you see.” And so, now we’re going to have to start over. And I still—even telling that story I feel a little like I was punch in the gut and that was like, How could I forget something like that? How important that was?  But I swear I have never, never forgotten that—how important it is to bring people along on a journey. 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a great story, and thanks for sharing it. As you were telling it I started thinking about issues that I think everybody has to contend with when you start talking about doing just that very thing, and that is time, we were all overloaded, and so when you start—I don’t have time to do that—the fact is that you have to have that time, you have to make that time, you have to plan for that time. If your project gets extended, then it gets extended if you’re not allowed for the project to be extended you’ve got a find another way to still build that in because it is such a critical component. But oftentimes, like they talk about as far as training and development of people, what’s the first thing to go when times get tough? What was that developing? 

Tabitha Dunn:    Yeah, they’re true. But we’re going to have it. 

Jim Rembach:    Definitely do. 

When you start talking what you are currently working on, you and I have the opportunity to also be experts for the Customer Experience Professionals Association and try to help others as well as our jobs, all of these things are family and they are so important—learning French and ballroom dancing, there’s just so many things that we have as interest and I think that’s pretty common when you start looking at folks that are contact centers, customer care, leadership roles for that example, it doesn’t matter if you’re in charge of us, that creative piece and that drive and having several interest and growth are so important but when you look at all of those what are some of the things that you have that are part of your goals setting?

Tabitha Dunn:    Wow! One of the integral parts of what makes me happy in a job is making a difference. If I feel like I’m not able to make a  difference then I’m not happy in my role and I’m probably will look for something else that will give me the opportunity to do that. I am almost always start goal setting with two things, what am I going to do to make a difference? And what am I going to do to help my people? And those two things are the center piece of my goal setting. As I looked at my setting goals for this year, I really looked at what are the things that I can do that makes difference? And what are the things my team can do to make a difference? And what are the things that are going to get them motivated and excited and help them grow. I have a joke that I say but it’s a true joke it’s the fact that the more excited I am that I want to put my hand into something in a project or to do a specific project the more that I have thought myself to let go of it and give it to one of my team. Because if I’m that excited to do it they’re likely just as excited or more so and it should be my job to shift coaching and help them really grow and reach for that thing. And it’s thought me that, that making a difference is not always doing the thing, often it’s coaching the people so that they can do that thing. 

I think I have my own epiphany right there are you share that, thanks for doing that. Also to if I don’t give those things up because of my excitement, I start taking over. 

Tabitha Dunn:    I have the same problem. So I was like, “Oh, no, no I can’t do that, I have to let go more. And then you just got to tell your people, tell me if I’m giving you enough coaching and enough support, enough of the safety net, or if I’m giving you too much because they’re the only person that can judge how much or how little they need at each of the process as they go through and work on that project or that initiative. 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a great point. If you’re to start talking about everything that we’ve shared at this point, what would be one piece of advice of advice that you would give to Fast Leader listeners? 

Tabitha Dunn:    One piece of advice—advices are so hard, I always think that it’s so important for it to be specific to what people need. We have a huge transformation we’re doing right at work for our services organization and I and my team are leading it. One of the thing I keep telling to all the leaders involved, “We’re shifting to this new service model in January it’s not going to be perfect. We’re not planning for perfect and we should stop thinking that it will be perfect instead we think about, what do we need to do to make sure it’s right enough for us to have a good basis to move forward? And then find all the cracks and fill them in as we go, but that design for perfection, boy…We kick ourselves all the time for that, don’t we? 

Jim Rembach:    That is so true Tabitha and the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now, before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.

“Contributing to the annual $150 billion loss in training and development investments is downright demoralizing, so raise your spirits and training ROI by increasing learning transfer with ResultPal. Get over the hump now by going to Resultpal.com/fast and getting a $750 performance package for free.”

 

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

Tabitha Dunn:    Oh, I so am. 

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

Tabitha Dunn:    Not enough sleep. 

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

Tabitha Dunn:    Works in different parts of the business. You can learn how all work together. 

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

Tabitha Dunn:    I always thought I was late nighter, turns out you can become an early bird. So I get up first thing in the morning 5:00 o’clock and I go work out. 

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

Tabitha Dunn:    Constantly learning.

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

Tabitha Dunn:    I’m going to go for five, my favorite book this year was The Martian. 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader listeners, you can find links to other bonus information and that book from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/Tabitha Dunn. Okay Tabitha this is my last hump day hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you have been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have back with you but you can’t take everything you can only choose one, what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

Tabitha Dunn:   I would remind myself I made a very good decision at 25 cause that’s when I married my husband. But I think that the thing I would have wanted to do is I wish I’ve been better listener. That’s why I wish I’d taken the knowledge of listening and taking in what people are telling me. And I wish I did so much better back then. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Tabitha 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?

 

Tabitha Dunn:    Absolutely. I am on LinkedIn it’s pretty easy to find, Tabitha Dunn, and it’s also easy to find me on Twitter as well, anywhere you look for me just Tabitha Dunn.

 

Jim Rembach:    Tabitha Dunn, 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

 

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044: Sarah Simon: The blood drained out of my face

Sarah Simon Show Notes

Sarah Simon was in a new role and had little experience when her boss came down with a terrible migraine headache. She told Sarah to take over as the facilitator for a very important client meeting. Sarah had to make the choice of embracing her fear or running away from it. Listen to Sarah tell her story and how she was able to get over the hump.

Sarah Simon was born on the west side of Cincinnati, Ohio, where she was an outspoken, mischievous and athletic youngest child. Sports were central to life her childhood home, and she gravitated especially to soccer and competitive swimming.  She was fortunate to come of age at a time when kids were free to wonder all day in the woods without a map or bicycle long distances without a helmet. Her dad was a career academic, but the lure of her mother’s clicking heels and power suits was irresistible and Sarah followed her mother’s path as a businesswoman.

Sarah started her career as a number-crunching data analyst for a boutique market research, headed by a husband-and-wife team of Burke alumns, where she quickly realized she found a home in business intelligence.  She worked her way into program management with web survey pioneer Intelliquest in Austin, Texas.  Three months of triple-digit Texas heat became too much to bear and the high technology market itself was on fire, so she ran to the Rocky Mountains to work for Heat Software as their in-house analyst. In 2003, despite dire warnings that she was senselessly “pigeon-holing herself” into the dead-end world of customer engagement, Sarah leapt happily into the world of Voice of Customer research.

Currently, she serves as VoC Consulting Director at Confirmit, where she uses in-depth needs analysis to architect new feedback initiatives from scratch, and runs diagnostics on existing programs to optimize structure and function to yield business insight. She is a 2015 CXPA CX Expert, CX industry blogger and occasional speaker.

Sarah takes her free time seriously, and can be found climbing the high peaks of Colorado (and the word!), riding her Harley Davidson or off-roading in her Rubicon, caring for her large second-hand mutts and working on her small acreage.  Sarah loves cooking and travel and hikes a section of the Appalachian Trail northbound every year.  She has a weakness for wine, music and muscle cars.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“A lot of times my best work…is when I say don’t hesitate, just go.” Click to Tweet

“Innovation requires risk, success requires risk.” Click to Tweet 

“We get so afraid of making a mistake that we check for threats that aren’t there.” Click to Tweet 

“Stop over focusing on analyzing things to death.” Click to Tweet 

“Being courageous isn’t about not having fear, it’s about facing fear.” Click to Tweet 

“The longer I hesitate, the longer I wait, the more fear manifests itself.” Click to Tweet 

“I need to take fear and turn it into excitement and positive energy.” Click to Tweet 

“If you’re a little bit nervous with something just jump out and do it.” Click to Tweet 

“You’re not going to innovate…if you’re constantly fearful of failure.” Click to Tweet 

“Do not hesitate, go.” Click to Tweet 

“It’s okay to go by the seat of your pants when you’re smart.” Click to Tweet 

“Sometimes you just need to trust your gut and make things happen.” Click to Tweet 

“When I’m where the buck stops, backing down is not an option.” Click to Tweet 

“You’ve got to save your social and business capital for the fights that matter.” Click to Tweet 

“Happiness is a choice.” Click to Tweet 

“It’s up to me to play the cards I have been dealt.” Click to Tweet 

“Anger and sadness don’t hurt anybody but me.” Click to Tweet 

“The universe does not have an agenda against you.” Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Sarah Simon was in a new role and had little experience when her boss came down with a terrible migraine headache. She told Sarah to take over as the facilitator for a very important client meeting. Sarah had to make the choice of embracing her fear or running away from it. Listen to Sarah tell her story and how she was able to get over the hump.

Advice for others

Do not hesitate, go.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

I’m actively trying to understand my growth limitation and when I identify it, I am going to kill it.

Best Leadership Advice Received

You need to pick your battles.

Secret to Success

I love to build things from scratch. When I do, I am a woman on fire.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

Confidence in new situations.

Recommended Reading

The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation

Contacting Sarah

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VOCMountaineer

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”]

044: Sarah Simon: The blood drained out of my face

 

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.

 

“Whether in the office or on the road, work with your community or coach to practice great behavior and produce great organizational results. Capture real time behavior practice from competency base development plans and invite feedback in an elegant and simple application. Take top performance mobile by going to resultpal.com/fast and getting a $750 performance package for free.” 

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay Fast Leader Legion, thanks for joining us today I have the excitement of being able to have a good time with the guest that we have today. Sarah Simon, was born on the west side of Cincinnati, Ohio where she was an outspoken mischievous and athletic youngest child that loves soccer and competitive swimming. Sarah feels she was fortunate to come of age at a time when kids where free to wander all day in the woods without a map or bicycle without a helmet. Her dad was a career academic but the lure of her mother’s clicking heels and power suits was irresistible, and Sarah followed her mother’s path as a businesswoman. 

 

Sarah currently serves as the VoC Consulting Director at Confirmit, where she uses in-depth needs analysis to architect new feedback initiatives from scratch and run diagnostics on existing programs to optimize structure and function to yield business insight. She’s on the CXPA expert panel along with me and is an Industry blogger and occasional speaker. Sarah takes her free time seriously and can be found climbing the high peaks in Colorado and the world riding her Harley-Davidson or off-roading in a Rubicon. She loves cooking and traveling and hikes a section of the Appalachian Trail north bound every year and when not doing these things she easily succumbs to her weakness for wine, music, and muscle cars. Sarah Simon are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Sarah Simon:    You bet I am Jim. Thanks for having me.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay Sarah, I’ve given our listeners a brief introduction but can you tell us what her current passion is so that we get to know you better?

 

Sarah Simon:    Absolutely, Jim. I have a lot of ways that I love to focus my energies in my free time but I am spending a lot of time and energy right now on home renovation and also doing some work in maintenance around my small acreage.

 

Jim Rembach:    So when you start talking about home renovations, I mean, for me the planning process and going through that was just as important as doing the work. So when you start thinking about some of the things that you’re working on right now, how do you go about tackling, getting something done?

 

Sarah Simon:    Well Jim, first of all something will just kind of bite me as I need to take this project on. And just the other day I was looking at my cabinets and I thought, why is it they’re looking tired, I’m tired of the light colored maple, I’d want some deeper richer color, so you go out on Google and you Google cabinet refinishing at-home cabinet refinishing, you get some tips and tricks but at the end of the day what you need to do is just say “Here’s my color, I’m going to do this.” So, you follow some of the steps for prepping and cleaning the cabinets, the de-natured alcohol, the scrubbing, the light sanding and then you just take that leap of faith and apply that new gel finish and stand back and hope that you like what you see it. Fortunately I do.

 

Jim Rembach:    So for me I kind of, almost can get an insight into your head and looking at a particular process. The reason I asked you that question is because many of the guest that I have the opportunity to have on the show and for our listeners, we focus in on improving the employee experience and the customer experience and the strength of leadership that’s necessary, the depth of leadership, the skills associated with all that in order to be able to create more human-centric organizations, and one of the biggest and chief humps, I guess you’d say that a lot of people have to get over, is the difference between looking, measuring, and actually doing and impacting and having enough fact. One way or the other whether it “Hey, it didn’t come out right, I need to do it over again or hey that turned out pretty well but I actually did something”, so how do you get folks that are struggling with that hump of actually doing something to get over it? 

 

Sarah Simon:    Jim I find that a lot of times my best work that I produce is when I just say don’t hesitate just go. And innovation requires risk and success requires risk and one of the things I think in this voice of customer experience, employee engagement space, it is important to measure right, just like with a home improvement project you say measure twice cut once. But sometimes we get so afraid of making a mistake, so afraid of looking like a fool in front of our colleagues or doing something wrong that we get into the second guessing this over analyzing, we’re checking around every corner for threats but threats that aren’t really there what’s the worst thing that can happen if you jump up and try to make an improvement to the customer experience? We need to get a little more into some calculated risk taking and stop over focusing on analyzing things to death. Some of my favorite quotes or thoughts are around courage and a lot of people think when they see someone who’s brave, when they see someone who’s courageous, that that person doesn’t have fear and the opposite is true, being courageous isn’t about not having fear it’s about facing fear, acknowledging fear, and overcoming it.

 

Jim Rembach:    I think you bring up a really valid point. Even when you started talking about tackling and fear and going on the Appalachian Trail, hiking the Appalachian Trail, and the difference in the fear component, and how you actually approach it from a mind-set perspective, there’s a difference between seeing fear in front of you and putting the fear behind you. Often times when I think about folks that I’m having conversations with about their own voice of the customer data, their employee data that’s associated with engagement and those things is often times I’m talking to folks that their only fear is that I have to measure and get my measurements out. It isn’t the fear of, we have to make some changes and make some movements and I am fearful that it’s going to go bad, so it’s almost like they’re focusing in on the fear of their current responsibility that has been given to them. So when you talk about being able to have that person increase their ability to carry the data, the information, the insight forward to folks that have to make the decisions, how do you advise them?

 

Sarah Simon:    Wow, wow! Jim that’s a good one for me to ponder. I would say this, one of the things that I’ve noticed for myself whether it’s a business, climbing mountains, long distance back packing trips, riding motorcycles, when I find myself being fearful the longer I hesitate the longer I wait, the more that fear manifest itself, it grows from just being a fear in my mind to a physical reaction in my body. And I’ve learned overtime that when I feel that fear coming on I need to just channel it and I need to move. I need to take that fear turn it into excitement, turn it into positive energy and do whatever it is I’m doing whether it’s riding my motor cycle on a wet road or downhill skiing on a slope that I look at “Ooh maybe that’s a little too steep for me”, I just need to do it. And I would encourage customers experience professionals, if you’re a little bit nervous with something just jump out and do it, I’m not talking about being rash or being careless but I am saying maybe you need to be a little less cautious or a little less careful than your being because if you’re spending all of your time measuring customer feedback, measuring employee feedback you’re not going to have any time left to actually act on somebody’s gut instincts when you start seeing a trend emerging in the data and you think that’s exciting, that’s the kind of thing that we can a wrap a campaign around to get our colleagues excited about the customer and about a partnering with the customer to build this customer experience, jump out and do it, just go ahead and try, take some risks. 

 

I likened to, when I was a kid we had a big diving board at the swimming pool we would go to, and if a kid would get towards the end of the diving board and hesitate sometimes they crawl back down. And I’m like, “Get over it, just jump.” Sometimes you just need to get to the end of a diving board, jump off and make something happen that’s when the excitement and the innovation happens. You’re not going to innovate in your customer experience program if you’re constantly fearful of failure.  

 

Jim Rembach:    Listening to you say that, it actually reminded me of a story that my older brother Dan tells about a time when we had gone to a public swimming pool. At that time this is, I think it’s unique when you talk about it today, but they had like a 20 foot diving board it’s a big facility, and I was in front of Dan, Dan’s afraid of heights, I went to the edge of the diving board and for me, that water seem like it was close yet far away but I jumped anyways and went head first, and let me tell you, it was a good smack on the head but I got up and did it again. So, as you were talking about this whole fear thing and where you place it, and also one of the things that you said that kind of stood out to me is that, and I have to ask the question and this one has to be directed to myself as well is that, am I practicing fear or am I practicing boldness? Because it does come in one of those scenarios to where, you’re going to get what you practice and if I continue to practice fear, that fear is going to be the first thing I see and it’s going to stop me dead in my tracks. So thanks for sharing that.

 

Sarah Simon:    Absolutely!

 

Jim Rembach:    So quotes, you started mentioning quotes and you mentioned about quotes of courage and things like that and quotes are important to us in the show, is there one or two that kind of stands out to you and gives you that bump of courage?

 

Sarah Simon:    You know Jim really it’s just, “Do not hesitate, go!” For me that’s been the most important, there’s nothing eloquent about that quote, it’s direct into the point. I don’t want to steal from Nike and say “Just Do It” but sometimes we need to do that. And having kind of cut my teeth and come of age in the business intelligence world we can be a very, very cautious bunch. But as I started spending more time with sales, I’ll admit it first, when I first started working heavily with sales people they annoyed me because they made me nervous because they’re willing to go by the seed of their pants but then I watched them have huge success doing business by the seed of their pants without over planning, sometimes you just have to have the confidence to trust your gut and as I saw that happening in the sales world as I worked farther towards the tip of the sphere with the business development process I realized it’s okay to go by the seed of your pants when you’re smart. If you have good judgement, you don’t need to always plan things to death, you don’t need to analyze things to death, sometimes you need to just trust your gut and make things happen that’s where change happens, that’s where excitement happens, that’s where things get fun, that’s where innovation starts to emerge.

 

Jim Rembach:    You know, it reminds me also of a quote that was from a previous guest that had a similar type of message about, just get moving, he said: “Look, look folks we’re not killing babies here, no babies are going to die here.”

 

Sarah Simon:    [Laugh] I tell clients sometimes Jim, we’re improving the customer experience, we’re not curing cancer, so if we’re one neuron off in our estimates that’s okay.

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a really good point. You have to put it in proper perspective and, but that goes back to what I was mentioning as far as sometime we feel that our job is at jeopardy and if I don’t do this that means I’m going to get that. And you could say that’s it’s a culture issue associated with that organization, however I think as a society we live with that fear. It’s just one of those that I think that we have like you say put behind us and have that fear be behind us and hopefully propel us to make that right decision and continue to move forward.

 

Sarah Simon:    Years and years and years ago, I’ve said, more of a junior associate, kid in my 20s, I was on site with my boss and the company owner for some focus groups for a major technology client and I was there running support for her, I was making sure the recordings were working, making sure that any late arrivals were ushered in and was also there to learn and help to manage and socialize with the clients while she ran the focus groups, I had never in my life ran a focus group, maybe some round tables but this was a learning opportunity for me. Right after the first focus group of two that night, my boss pulls me aside she says, “I am terribly sick, I have a roaring migraine, I cannot do the next focus group, I need you to do this for me.” The blood drained out of my face, and I’m like, “You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m 20 something kid, I have no training in this.” And she said, “You don’t understand I’m sick enough that I think I would go to the hospital with this migraine, I need you to run these focus groups.” She handed me the discussion guide and in I go, this 20 something kid, I’ve never done a focus group in my life and I sit down with that discussion guide and I just had to sit myself up in that chair, summon my confidence and be the expert and I did it, I got through it, I lead my first focus group. I had no preparation I just went through the discussion guide and frankly the client seemed quite happy with what I did and that’s an example. I could’ve ran from that, I could’ve ran out of that room and said, “I refuse I can’t do this, I’m going to mess this up, I’m going to upset the client, this is going to be a disaster” but that wasn’t a choice.

 

Jim Rembach:   Listening to you tell that story it makes me reflect upon my own kids and looking at the different personalities that they have, and birth order, and things along those lines and even listening to your bio and where you grew up and being that mischievous child and the one that would hang out and get lost in the woods and go crazy on her bike and do all the competitive stuff, I’m not surprised that you were successful with that, I really not. However when you start thinking about that, going through that, addressing that fear moving past it, what do you think it permitted you to do after that, that you would’ve never expected?

 

Sarah Simon:    I think it taught me to trust my expertise and know that when I’m where the bucks stops backing down isn’t an option,  I’ve just got to get it done. I might be scared but I’ve just got to hide that fear from the people who need to have confidence in me at that time and push forward and just do what has to be done to get the job done.

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s one of the reasons also I wanted you on the show, you seem like a woman who has a set of confidence that comes from a place that is not really fear motivated. I mean, when you start thinking of confidence and people having that type of persona and projecting that type of persona a lot of times it comes from a place of total fear, “Hey I don’t want to mess up, I need to have this certain Image” and unfortunately, when you have that as your primary driver as your basis when it cracks it shatters but I don’t see that in you, so when you start looking at all of the things that you have done and that you’re yet to do, what are some of your goals?

 

Sarah Simon:    Wow! Well some of my goals, it’s sounds cliché, I want to travel the world. I want to see the entire world and I have an insatiable curiosity and an insatiable desire to just make that happen, even if it’s got to happen one step at a time, one country a year but that absolutely one of my goals.

 

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. 

 

“Developing your company’s talent and leadership pipeline can be an overwhelming task but your burden is over with result pal you can use the power of practice to develop more leaders faster. Move onward and upward by going to Resultpal.com/fast and getting a $750 performance package for free.”

 

Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion, it’s time for the—Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Sarah, 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. Sarah Simon, are you ready to hoedown?

 

Sarah Simon:     I am ready to Hoedown Jim. Let’s do it.

 

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

 

Sarah Simon:   You know what Jim, if I knew the answer to this I’d be a better leader already. I’m going to be real honest with you, I’m actively trying to understand my growth limitation and when I identify it you better believe I’m going to kill it but I haven’t found it yet.

 

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

 

Sarah Simon:    Absolutely hands down. Dad would tell me when I was a kid you need to pick your battles, you can’t fight every fight, you need to know which battles are going to make the most sense to engage in, do a cost benefit analysis, there are downsides to each and every engagement each and every battle, you might break or damage relationships, you might lose credibility, but dad taught me you’ve got to save your energy, you’ve got to save your social and your business capital for the fights that matter and just let the lower guy you battles pass.

 

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

 

Sarah Simon:    I love to build things. Jim, as a kid I loved building little cities out of whatever I could find. Sand, old bricks, tissue boxes, discarded woods, I would pirate things from my big brother’s train set and build them into my own little cities and I assumed everyone was like this but I found over time that not everyone likes to build things from scratch. For some people building something from scratch is overwhelming and it’s no fun but for me building something from scratch it summons this creative energy that can overwhelm almost any lock in my pathway, it can overwhelm fatigue, frustration or a bad mood, there are few things that I love more than building something from nothing, when I get to build something from scratch I am a woman on fire.

 

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

 

Sarah Simon:    We touched on this just a little bit earlier in the conversation Jim. It’s confidence in new situation. Let me tell you when I was a baby my parents taught me how to swim as an infant and the amazing thing about a baby is if you throw her in the water she just swims it’s instinct, she doesn’t have time to be afraid, she doesn’t have time to second guess, she doesn’t have time to come up with a plan, the arms and the legs start kicking, the little nose and mouth pops up periodically for air and the kid swims and I’ve taken that same confidence in new situations into my work world.

 

Jim Rembach:     What would be one book from any genre that you would recommend to our listeners?

 

Sarah Simon:    The Challenger Sale

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader listeners you can find links and other bonus information from today by going to Fastleader.net/Sarah Simon. 

 

Okay Sarah, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age 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 you can only choose one, so what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

Sarah Simon:    So Jim I would sit down and tell that 25 year old Sarah “Happiness is a choice” I didn’t know this when I was 25 but I know it now. I had to come to the realization that I cannot control other people, I cannot control other people’s actions but I can control my reactions to circumstances and my reaction to the behaviors of others. So I decided it’s up to me to play the hand of cards I’ve been dealt, I can’t choose that hand of cards but I can choose how I’m going to play them. So I choose to smile and be happy, I’ve realized that anger and sadness these things, they don’t hurt anybody but me, if I want to carry them around with me and burden myself with them that’s my problem. So, no crying over spilt milk, that the universe does not have an agenda against you, just let go of negativity, there are rude people, there are mean people, there are negative people, I will not give them power over me to tell me how I’m going to lead my today and my tomorrow.

 

Jim Rembach:    Sarah 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?

 

Sarah Simon:    I absolutely Jim! Easy place to find me is out on Linkedin. You can also find me on Twitter I am @vocmountaineer.

 

Jim Rembach:    Sarah Simon, 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]

 

043: Alison Circle: I have to get over myself

Alison Circle Show Notes

Alison Circle received the results from an organizational climate survey that revealed some devastating results. Finally learning to get over herself, Alison realized she needed to balance what she needed to get done with what people were asking of her. Listen to Alison tell her story of how she prevented undermining her own success.

Alison Circle came from hard-working American stock that has been in the U.S. for 3 centuries. She is proud to come from a family of patriots who have fought in every war since the American Revolution.

Alison is a student of history because it lets her keep perspective about what is happening today. Especially with a sometimes crazy media, may lead us to believe we live in the worst of times. We don’t. As the playwright August Wilson said, “If you don’t know where you came from how do you know you’ve earned their sacrifice?”

Deep in her bones Alison believes in the quote: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” She feels she’s been given so much that it would be unconscionable not to build opportunities for others.

Every day Alison goes to work knowing that she has the best job in the world and she takes the responsibility seriously and gives it all she can.
Alison is the Chief Customer Experience Officer for Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML), and in 2010 her work was recognized with the Library Journal’s Library of the Year and in 2011 she was named a “Mover & Shaker.”

Alison lives in Columbus, Ohio. Six blocks from my sister. She believe in the human connection to geography; living in Ohio I feel a powerful connection to the impact of the Ice Age.

She shares her home with her husband Riccardo and has daughter Sophia that attends The Ohio State University. Alison says, “Just thinking about her brings a smile to my face.”

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“Hoping that they have confidence in me is not what’s going to make that happen.” Click to Tweet

“I have had to lead with great humility.” Click to Tweet 

“If I didn’t have a great team beneath me, I wouldn’t have credibility.” Click to Tweet 

“I have had to adapt to the culture instead of expecting the culture to adapting to me.” Click to Tweet 

“We hold ourselves back from making it better because we can’t think we can.” Click to Tweet 

“How do we make it happen, instead of I can’t do that.” Click to Tweet 

“Let’s start from the standpoint that the answer is…YES.” Click to Tweet 

“Seek first to understand.” Click to Tweet 

“Our frontline needs to see and touch me in this role; it’s the role, not me.” Click to Tweet 

“I’ve got to learn to balance what I have to get done and what people are asking of me.” Click to Tweet 

“If I am not touching people in the way they need…it’s going to undermine my success.” Click to Tweet 

“I can’t be independent and be successful.” Click to Tweet 

“The higher up you go, the less independent you can be.” Click to Tweet 

“I have had to flatten out myself in terms of how I go about doing things.” Click to Tweet 

“What are you doing to contribute to the lack of performance in your people?” Click to Tweet 

“Lead with your ears, not with your mouth.” Click to Tweet 

“Choosing the right words to lead makes all the difference.” Click to Tweet 

“As leaders we talk too much…we need to listen more.” Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Alison Circle received the results from an organizational climate survey that revealed some devastating results. Finally learning to get over herself, Alison realized she needed to balance what she needed to get done with what people were asking of her. Listen to Alison tell her story of how she prevented undermining her own success so you can move onward and upward faster.

Advice for others

If I am frustrated by what somebody else is doing or not doing, what am I doing to contribute to that.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Too much work to do. I need to prioritize better.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Lead with your ears and not your mouth.

Secret to Success

I’m infatigable. I have so much energy and I give it my all.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

Write everything down and choosing the right words to lead.

Recommended Reading

Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry

Contacting Alison

email: acircle [at] columbuslibrary.org

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alison-circle-97a6b117

Additional 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”]

043: Alison Circle: I have to get over 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.

 

“Contributing to the to the annual $150 billion in training and development investments is downright demoralizing so raise her spirits and training ROI by increasing learning transfer with Result Pal. Get over the hump now by going to resultpal.com/fast and getting a $750 performance package for free.”

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, Fast Leader Legion you are going to have some really excitement about this particular episode because it’s going to challenge what you’re traditional thought has been about government work and leadership. We have somebody on the show today who is getting things done for the better of her community, as well as her city, state, and the entire country. Her name is Alison Circle. Allison came from hard-working Americans stock that has been in the US for three centuries. She is proud to come from a family of patriots who had fought in every war since the American Revolution. Allison is a student of history because it lets her keep perspective about what’s happening today especially with the sometimes crazy media which may lead us to believe that we live in the worst times, we don’t. 

 

As a playwright August Wilson said, “If you don’t know where you came from how you know you’ve earned their sacrifice.” Deep in her bones Allison believes in the quote, “To whom much is given much is expected” she feels she’s been given so much that it would be unconscionable not to build opportunities for others. Every day Allison goes work knowing that she has the best job on the world and takes that responsibility seriously and gives it all she can. Allison is the chief customer experience officer for Columbus Metropolitan Library, and in 2010 her work was recognized with the Library Journals Library of the year and in 2011 she was named a mover and shaker.

 

Allison lives in Columbus, Ohio six blocks from her sister. She believes in the human connection to geography and living in Ohio she feels a powerful connection to the impact of the Ice Age. She shares her home with her husband Ricardo and has a daughter Sophia that attends the Ohio State University. Allison says just thinking about her brings a smile to her face. Alison Circle are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Alison Circle:    I am really ready. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Alright. I’ve given our listeners a brief introduction about you, but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you better?

 

Alison Circle:    Well, my current passion is around design and innovation. I’m responsible for the recreation of a 21st-century library here in Columbus and I have the incredible opportunity and privilege of leading that from a design innovation standpoint and it gets me out bed every day at 4:30 and I’m at work at 6:30 & 7:00 it gets me going all they long. 

 

For me I’ve been part of different committees, boards as well as being employed by certain organizations that it’s just is so challenging to get things to be done differently. And when you say innovation there’s this whole change management, organizational psychology, all these things associated with it and it takes so much knowledge, skill, and energy in order to be able to make an impact, how are you getting this things done?

 

Alison Circle:    Jim, there’s one important word that you omitted in that list and it is patience. Cause I’m by nature not a very patient person. My mother used to laugh at me when we go to the store as children and I’ll be out of the car in the store, bought everything as she and my sister were just getting out of the car, and I’m like, “Come on lets go.” As we talked about leadership and getting over the hump, I think the hardest thing for me has been to slowdown. The classic case of view ** ahead and you look behind and there’s nobody there behind you, I’ve got to be very careful about that. 

 

So, one of my struggles is how to balance pace, timelines, the pressures of getting it done with making sure that I bring my people along with me and provide clarity and consistency in what we’re trying to do. Because I can talk with my hands as much as possible and ideate all day long. But if I found anybody who believes it, who can deliver on it, I got nothing, so I have to be really mindful of that. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I would also dare to say that have been quite accustom and familiar with working with smaller groups and when you had taken on this particular role, my assumption is that kind of change—and you also had several constituents that you had to now be mindful of and try to get not just behind you but also to support you and push you forward, if you are to think about all of those things that you’ve been able to touch which one presented you with the most humps to get over?

 

Alison Circle:    I am leading an institution that is 137 years old. I am first person to lead the librarians who is not a librarian. So, you take this iconic, traditional, I guess I would not say traditional because librarians are also always trying to think ahead, but it’s a profession and to place someone at top that profession who doesn’t have that expertise is a challenge. 

 

It’s a challenge to sell the value that I bring, it’s a challenge to win people’s confidence and my hoping that they have that confidence is not what’s going to make it happen, and so I’ve had to lead with great humility and listening, problem solving with people because that’s what I can do for them, I can’t tell them how to be a better librarian. I have direct reports who oversee them, who are all professional librarians, and they do a masterful job. So, it’s a marriage of their skills with my design, creativity, execution ability, problem solving ability that has really made this work. Because if I didn’t have a great team underneath me I wouldn’t have the credibility, so, that’s been one of the biggest hump. 

And also I was an internal hire and I had been the marketing director before, I had come at the time when marketing was done by librarians and I came in bringing a professional expertise and a discipline, and that was hard for people. 

 

I must say overall in my ten years, this organization’s been patient with me as I have had to learn how to adapt myself to the culture instead of expecting the culture to adapt to me that makes sense. I came from a global brand agency where the pace, as you might expect, where the expectations were enormous and we had to deliver, that’s the bottom line, and then coming in to an organization that is very democratic, everybody feels right to a voice, and I didn’t know that, and that was a big learning development for myself.

 

Jim Rembach:    There’s many things as you were talking that stood out to me, and that whole adaptability, flexibility, collaborative aspects being able to slowdown in order to be able to speed up. And one of the things that we focus on the show are leadership quotes because I am certain as you are going through all of what you’ve gone through to have start seeing some success it required a whole lot of that energy that you are blessed with to have naturally but you still needed that inspiration, is there a quote tor two that stands out for you that gives you that extra jolt of energy?

 

Alison Circle:    I was thinking about that question. And I’m going to answer that in two different ways. One is what lesson of quote is standing on the foundation of great role models that my parents provided for me. And to keep a clear-sighted vision on what’s important to get myself out of the way and to listen at what’s going on. But I was thinking about something—a quote that I found that is inspiring that I just read. I’m a big student of the creative process, so I love reading about composers and artist and writers, and I was just reading a book by John Lar who is Bert Lahr’s son who was the Cowardly Lion in Wizard of Oz. John Lahr was a theatre critic for The New Yorker for 25 years. One of my favorite playwright is August Wilson who wrote this magisterial cycle of the African-American life through the decades from the last century. And he was talking about writing a play and saying, “Oh, I just got to make this play better, but how am I going to do that?” And he said to himself, “I can always make it worst, why can make it better?” and I thought, “Isn’t interesting that we hold ourselves back from making it better because we can’t think we can do that. We sure do think we can make it worst, so why couldn’t we think we can make it better?” I think that level of optimism, and that can do spirit of I can plough through and I can figure it out, that is the quote that drives me forward. 

 

Jim Rembach:    For me there’s two things that stood out when you were explaining, and first of all thanks for sharing it, is that mindset—we talk a lot about mindset and getting your mind, and then choice. Oftentimes we make the choice on what you were just talking about whether our choice is to focus in on, “Well, I can’t do that.” Or more so, “How can I do that?” 

 

Alison Circle:    One of the things we’re working on here as part of a customer experience strategy is how do we make the answer, yes. If we think this is the right thing to do, how do we make it happen? Instead of, “Oh, man I can’t do that, and I can’t do that we’re going to have—okay, that’s all true but let’s start for the same point that the answer is yes. Now, let’s backfill and figure how it get there. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Thinking about the other side of that, oftentimes we rear the ugly head of the world policy. It’s too easy to fall back on, policy. I’ll be transparent, I was removed as a customer because somebody threw out the word policy, and for me, I said, “Well, if that’s what you’re going to fall back on then there’s nothing more to talk about.”

 

Alison Circle:    Right. Here’s my example, I was talking to one of our managers—a great manager, lovely person, positive, I’m standing there and a customer comes in and she has a book and she said, “Hey, I drove down here today, I check out this book, I already had the book I lost the book that I checked out I haven’t even opened the book that I bought because I forgot I bought it, can I give this to you? The first word out of that manager’s mouth was, “No.” and I thought, “Gosh, this lady drove down here how about—Gosh! Thank you so much, let’s make this right for you.” I mean it’s that subtlety of how do you make the experience a yes instead of automatically go to no, because of what you just said the whole idea of what the policy is, I can’t do that. But at least, act like the policy is not between my interaction between you and me. 

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a great point. As you were even talking, I start reminding myself of just an interaction I had with my 12 year daughter and along those same lines. The first response was, no, and then she was giving me really something that aligns with what I was saying, and I’m like, “Why did you say no to begin with.” It’s a habit, it’s just a habit” and I think we have to be mindful of that and say okay, that is not a habit that going to permit or allow or enable us to be able to find a way to get a yes. 

 

Alison Circle:    Well, and more on that too is, I think about a quote is that perfect one is seek first to understand. What are you trying to tell me? And when people ask me questions or say something, what are they really telling me? And trying to understand what is driving the question. I did this all the time and you probably do this where you’ve say, “Oh, do you know when such & such is…instead of saying, I need to do X and I’m going to need Y for that. Does that jive with what the question is, I just ask? We’re not very directing clear on how we get the information that we need. I work really hard in trying to be clear and concise about what I’m asking of people. 

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a very good point. There’s so many things that I am sure contributed to you being able to not only essentially fill the job responsibilities and role that you have right now but then also thrive at it because you have received a lot of recognition for the accomplishments that the library system has had. And I know as you just explain that it’s been a collaborative effort and a team effort and you’re the instigator in regards to all of that. Was there a hump helped you to meet the challenges that you have today and also you’re going to meet tomorrow that defined a better path for you, can you share for us?

 

Alison Circle:    We had an organizational climate survey a couple of years ago and it was devastating honestly it was not positive about upper management. We are stretched really thin right now and I had to understand that I can be as busy as I think I need to do but because of who we are our frontline people need to see and touch me as I embodied this role. It’s not me Allison Circle but it’s this role, there needs to be much greater touching and I can be impatient with that as I want it’s not going away. 

 

I think the thing I’ve had to learn as a leader, I’m a middle child so I’m pretty much about making everybody happy, but I have to realize that I’ve got to learn to balance when I got it I have to get it done and what people are asking of me. And it gets back to that same thing, “What are people really asking me?” And if our staff keep saying, “We need you to come out and talk to us, I have to get over myself and realize, “I may have this [16:28 inaudible] list over here” But if I am not touching people in a way they need to be touched it’s going to undermine my success. I’m also an extremely independent person, the thing I’ve have to learn the hardest is I can’t be independent and be successful. That’s actually the theme to all the things I’ve talked to you about it here, I can’t just go off and do something, like anybody who’s in the kind of role I am, we could probably do it and get it done at half the time It’ll even takes to explain it to somebody but you just have to understand that the higher up you go, the less independent you can be. 

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a really good point. I would dare to say if you even feel that back a little bit is that our inability to do such that can permit us from moving up.

 

Alison Circle:     That’s exactly right. In looking at the questions you’ve given me ahead of time and reflecting on my journey to this role it has been less myself as this independent force, the only way I could think about is less vertical and more horizontal. That I’ve had to flatten out myself in terms of how I go about doing things instead of this vertical—I’m a soldier in the field when I’m going off and doing it. Does that makes sense? 

 

Jim Rembach:     Absolutely, it absolutely does. If you were to talk about getting over that hump and all of the learnings that you’ve had in order to affect and impact that survey result, if you were to give our Fast Leader Legion one piece of advice, what would it be? 

 

Alison Circle:     Here’s what I struggled with every day, if I’m frustrated by what somebody is doing or not doing, what am I doing to contribute to that? It’s not what is that person doing wrong, where have I lacked clarity? Where have I not held that person accountable? As a leader that is your responsibility. I was on the drive yesterday and talking to my management consultant, who is my husband now, I was frustrated about something. And he’s always so matter of fact about he said, “People process in tools so do the people understand, so we’ll do the people understand what is expected of them. Yeah, sure they do, blah, blah, blah. And he said, “Has it been written down, documented, do they understand it, do you know they understand it?” so you got to start there. To me the advice is, what you are doing to contribute to the lack of performance in your people, because that’s where it comes.

 

 Jim Rembach:    I think we can also carry that into our personal lives as well. 

 

Alison Circle:    No, I’m always right. [Laugh]

 

Jim Rembach:    I know for you, when you start talking about this energy, when you start talking about the recognition that you have been receiving as part of the work that you been doing and the transition in the ideation and the innovation, so many things that are going on for you and all the things that you have in your plate, if you were to talk about the goals that you have for the future, what would they be?

 

Alison Circle:    My professional goal is that we deliver extraordinary opportunities for the people in my community. I am so gratified that the first library we built was in a very depressed neighborhood, there had been no new development in that area in a generation. We had no children, we had people with their head down, no interaction, and today we have meeting rooms and meeting room usage that has gone up 350%. 

 

Our children flood the space, our circulation of children’s book outpace is our top category, we have 160% increase in circulation on kid’s books. What that saying to me is, we’re giving that community hope, that community feel people care about them, that they’re valued and we’re giving them a path to success. As we do this other buildings again umping that up and delivering opportunity to this community. On a personal level, I’d say it’s to continue to feel—what I have is kind of insatiable need for creativity, design and innovation and that always to me expressed through language, arts, music, design, and how can we constantly reinvent that. 

 

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

 

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Alright here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time for the—Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Allison 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, Allison Circle, are you ready to hoedown?

 

Alison Circle:    I’m yee-hoe ready to hoedown.

 

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

 

Alison Circle:     Too much work to do. I’ve got to learn to prioritize better. 

 

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

 

Alison Circle:     Lead with your ears not with your mouth. 

 

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

 

Alison Circle:     I’m indefatigable. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Say that one more time. 

 

Alison Circle:     I’m indefatigable. I have so much energy. I get up in the morning. I work 12-14 hour a day. I give it my all, I’m positive, happy and in the end I’m a well-adjusted person. 

 

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

 

Alison Circle:     It’s really important to write everything down. I’m a big believer that words really matter, choosing the right words to lead makes all the difference.

 

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

 

Alison Circle:     I’ll tell you what I just finished, last night I read, Building Art, which is the biography of Frank Gehry. The reason I suggest that is it talks about constantly looking at thing with a different eye and figuring out how to solve problems in an imaginative way. 

 

Jim Rembach:     I think that’s a great choice. Okay Fast Leader listeners, you can find links and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/Allison Circle. Okay, Allison this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to 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 you can only choose one, so what skill work or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

Alison Circle:     I would say stop talking. I think as leaders we talk too much. And even in our personal lives we talk too much, we need to listen more and really hear what the people are telling us.

 

Jim Rembach:     Allison 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.

 

Alison Circle:     I would love to, I love to hear from anyone about this and thank you again for having me today. My email address is acircle@columbuslibrary.org.

 

Jim Rembach:     Allison Circle, 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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