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The Creative Leader’s Mindset

Navigating Complexity with Innovative Thinking Cultivating Leadership Excellence In this insightful episode, Dina Denham Smith dives deep into the intricacies of leadership, creativity, and emotional intelligence in the modern workplace. She shares her journey from classroom to boardroom, offering a unique perspective on how her equestrian passion parallels her leadership philosophy. Through engaging anecdotes and …

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Ryan Gottfredson | Successful Mindsets

265: Ryan Gottfredson: I shifted from my negative mindsets

Ryan Gottfredson Show Notes Page Ryan Gottfredson came to appreciate his deep learning about mindsets because it’s much more fulfilling and rewarding than learning about them due to being in crisis. Now he’s spreading the word about mindsets to help enlighten others. Ryan was raised in North Ogden, Utah, nestled on the bench of one …

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Debi Mongan - The Mindful Call Center

164: Debi Mongan: I was totally wrong

Debi Mongan Show Notes Page

Debi Mongan decided to take a break from her career to raise her daughter. After five years had passed Debi decided to go back to work. She thought she was going to re-enter where she left off. Once she realized that wasn’t going to happen she took a step back, which helped her to take a leap forward.

Debi was born in Washington DC and raised mostly in the Maryland suburbs. She was an only child until she was 10 years old, when her first brother was born. Her parents divorced when she was 12 and both remarried. She is now the oldest of three brothers and a sister. Her family is made up of natural, half, step and adopted, multi-cultural siblings. Don’t ask which is which, as she’ll tell you she doesn’t know. “They are my family. Period.”

Due to the gap in age between Debi and her siblings, she was very maternal toward them and was always involved in mentoring one or all of them in one way or another. Being a leader and a guiding force came naturally and having them to “practice” on was great training, even though she didn’t realize it at the time. While still in high school, she got a job in a telemarketing call center that sold magazine subscriptions. She was an administrative clerk and literally learned everything from the most entry level position there was. When she turned 18 she was permitted to get on the phones for the first time. After a short time attending college in North Carolina, she returned home and to that same call center. This year marks her 30th year working in the Customer Service and Contact Center industry.

Debi worked in several contact centers over the years and first moved into a leadership position with Maryland Baseball, LLC. It was a dream come true to work for the Oriole’s minor league teams and have an office in the stadium. Her staff was primarily teenagers and college students, which brought out her mentoring side. She left the sports industry and took a job with one of the largest, at the time, vacation ownership companies in the travel industry. She spent twelve years directing the customer service, reservations and B2B division of the company. About five years into this position, she started studying mindfulness in her personal life and was amazed at the positive effect she was seeing in her life at home and at work.

This prompted her to experiment with adapting mindfulness techniques to make them appropriate for the workplace. She started sharing with some of her employees and quickly realized she was on to something. She left the travel industry and took several short-term management assignments in contact centers of various sizes and industries to develop and test her ideas. In 2016, she finally took the plunge and founded The Mindful Call Center.

Debi has one daughter Shelby who lives in Chicago as she enjoys life on the coast-side, near the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“There’s something about sincerely showing that you care about their well-being that makes a person feel loyal want to stay.” -Debi Mongan Click to Tweet

“Until I hand you a red cooler with a heart or kidney in it and you’re running to the helicopter, you’re not allowed to be stressed.” -Debi Mongan Click to Tweet

“You need three things to remind you that it’s time to stop and take two minutes.” -Debi Mongan Click to Tweet

“Your thoughts do create your reality.” -Debi Mongan Click to Tweet

“You can manifest just about anything you want.” -Debi Mongan Click to Tweet

“Your mind is so powerful that it can affect your job and your KPIs when you harness it correctly.” -Debi Mongan Click to Tweet

“The universe will whisper in your ear for a little while, and then if you don’t listen, it’s going to yell at you.” -Debi Mongan Click to Tweet

“None of the things and issues that are keeping you up at night are world-changing or life-altering events.” -Debi Mongan Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Debi Mongan decided to take a break from her career to raise her daughter. After five years had passed Debi decided to go back to work. She thought she was going to re-enter where she left off. Once she realized that wasn’t going to happen she took a step back, which helped her to take a leap forward.

Advice for others

This too shall pass. None of the things and issues that are keeping you up at night are world-changing or life-altering events. Just take it easy.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Being self-conscious and taking things personally.

Best Leadership Advice

Don’t say it if you don’t mean it and you’re not going to do it.

Secret to Success

My sincere desire for the success of others and not just my own.

Best tools that helps in Business or Life

Owning my mistakes and admitting when I’m wrong.

Recommended Reading

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)

The Alchemist

The Napkin, The Melon & The Monkey: How to Be Happy and Successful by Simply Changing Your Mind

The Monkey, the Moon & Maybe: How to Embrace Change & Live Fearlessly

Contacting Debi Mongan

website: http://mindfulcustomerservice.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebiMongan

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

Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

Empathy Mapping

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

 

Show Transcript: 

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

164: Debi Mongan: I was totally wrong

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

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

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay Fast Leader legion, today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show who’s going to help us really unlock the power that’s already inside of you. Debi Mongan was born in Washington D.C. and raised mostly in the Maryland suburbs. She was an only child until she was 10 years old when her first brother was born. Her parents divorced when she was 12 and both remarried she is now the oldest of three brothers and a sister. Her family is made up of natural half-step and adopted multicultural siblings, don’t ask which is which as she’ll just tell you she doesn’t know they’re all my family. Due to the gap in age between Debi and her siblings she was very maternal toward them and was always involved in mentoring one or all of them in one way or another. Being a leader and a guiding force came naturally and having them to practice on was great training even though she didn’t realize it at that time. While still in high school she got a job in a telemarketing call center that’s old magazine subscriptions. She was an administrative clerk and literally learned everything from the most entry-level position there was. When she turned 18 she was permitted to get on the phones for the first time. After a short time attending college in North Carolina she returned home to that same call center. This year marks her 30th year working in customer service and contact center industry. 

 

Debi worked in several contact centers over the years and first moved into a leadership position with Maryland baseball. It was a dream come true to work for the Orioles minor league teams and have an office in the stadium. Her staff was primarily teenagers and college students which brought out her mentoring side. She left the sports industry and took a job with one of the largest at the time vacation ownership companies in the travel industry. She spent 12 years directing the customer service, reservations and B2B division for the company. 

 

About five years into this position she started studying mindfulness in her personal life and was amazed at the positive effects she was seeing in her life at home and at work. This prompted her to experiment with adapting of mindfulness techniques to help make them appropriate for the workplace. She started sharing them with some of her employees and quickly realized she was on to something. She left the travel industry and took several short management assignments and contact centers of various sizes and industries to develop and test her ideas. In 2016 she finally took the plunge and founded the mindful call center where she is today. Debi has one daughter Shelby who lives in Chicago as she enjoys her single life on the coast side near the San Francisco area Bay. Debi Mongan are you ready to help us get over the hump? 

 

Debi Mongan:   I can’t wait Jim, glad to be here.

 

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

 

Debi Mongan:   Absolutely, I’d love to share it. Currently my passion and my focus is on getting the buy-in and getting acceptance from leadership in the contact center and customer service industry to understand that mindfulness belongs in the contact center.

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, so when you say buy in you’ve actually been doing this for a while so you’ve actually had some positive financial impacts that you’ve seen as well, right?

 

Debi Mongan:   Absolutely. What’s wonderful about this is when I go into a contact center the first thing I want to do is I give you an overall picture of where are their pain points, where are they struggling, And generally there’s a few KPIs that they’re looking at attrition is another huge thing that they want to address. So what I have seen happen is after just one hour workshop teaching the most elementary aspects of mindfulness that I’ve adapted and made appropriate for a contact center agents have improved their productivity tremendously. The escalation rate for calls drops because all of a sudden they’re confident and they feel like they can handle it and they do handle it and there’s a lot of calls that they kind of give in and escalate when it’s not needed, so escalations are seeing they’re down and time is money that’s absolutely very helpful right there. Yet the biggest change that I see and the biggest help is with attrition there’s something about sincerely showing that you care about their well-being in their life that makes a person feel loyal and want to stay. We all know that the longer someone’s with you the more cost-effective it is. I’ve read studies that say that it will take up to a year’s salary just onboard a new agent, the impact on the business. So that’s one of my biggest focuses is to help with the attrition problem. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, when I think about mindfulness it’s one of the areas of overall wellness, wellness covers a lot of different factors mindfulness being one, why for you is mindfulness something you’ve actually held on to and want to actually do more of that type of work?

 

Debi Mongan:   Well, mainly because I have my own personal experience with it. I’ve had it work for me and been very excited by what it’s done and I want to share that, I just generally want to share that. The other aspect of me that is the caretaker and the nurturer, and mama bear is then nick name that I’ve gained from agents along the years, and that’s because I really do care about their well-being and discovering a way for them to be less stress and more productive and more focused and that’s the holy grail to me. Nothing is worse for me when I was running a call center than to have someone come into my office and just look so stressed and be so worried about any particular thing that was going on at the time. I was famous for telling them, look until I hand you a red Igloo cooler with a heart or a kidney in it and you’re running to the helicopter you’re not allowed to be stressed. But for years I said that but I didn’t have any way to tell them how to not be stressed. Then I discovered it in my own life and I was playing it at work for myself and sharing it and one thing led to another. The other thing is wellness, that’s very important to me the entire wellness at work, for lack of a better word craze I’m so thrilled that it is and then it’s catching on. But I want to concentrate on one thing, I’ve said before, a football team has a head coach and a defensive coach an offensive coach because you’ve got to address all the different aspects, and I just want to be the defensive coach.

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, so you say defensive coach when you talk about mindfulness, how come that’s not an offensive coach?

 

Debi Mongan:   Well, I think over time it turns into being an offensive coach but the problem is in the beginning it’s more defensive for a lot of different reasons. Number one just getting the buy-in and getting people not to roll their eyes and not to think, oh I have to quit my job and go to Tibet and meditate on a mountain for a year, that’s not what it’s about. So, it’s very defensive in the beginning but that’s the great thing about it is that at some point it just becomes part of your life a very offensive.

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, so talking about you get past the eye rolls somebody wants to start working with you what does that look like?

 

Debi Mongan:   Well it can look like whatever they need. I try to be really flexible but just say in general they want to have me in for a workshop with their agents. So, I’m going to spend about a half a day prior to the workshop getting high-level view of everything that’s going on. As I mentioned before find out what their pain points are? What do they want to accomplish? What are the things that are keeping them up at night so that I can specifically address some of those things? And then a workshop would typically last 60 to 90 minutes. I do limit the workshop size so I may have to do more than one in a day depending on how many agents that they have and we spend that time just learning the very basics. What I’ve developed, I call it STATT, and what that means is set 3 and take 2. 

 

In the initial workshop they’re going to learn what balanced breath and mindful breathing is all about and that is just an amazing tool to have. If it’s the only tool that they ever have it it’s going to help tremendously. One of the things that makes that work—what I have to worry about is after I leave it can’t be a one-day one-hour workshop it has to be cultivated it has to be practiced that’s why they call it a practice. So, that’s why I’ve developed STATT to remind them and to help them. And then what I do is the set 3 part of STATT is you need three triggers throughout the day, three things that are going to remind you that it’s time to stop and take two minutes. So that’s where the contact center adapting to a concept contact center comes in. I understand that the world and I understand how to find those three or where you’re most likely going to find those three opportunities throughout the day to take two. So, that’s kind of what I’ll do within that day, we’ll teach them the basics so that they know and then I help the group as well as individually figure out and decide what are those three trigger points throughout the day that are going to remind them to take those two minutes to use the tool that they’ve just learned and then there will be a lot of follow-up and just helping them to continue.

 

Jim Rembach:   I had the opportunity to share with you off mic that there was a really good friend of mine who was actually working in contact centers and had a really nice niche carved out within the utility industry teaching mindfulness her name was Barbara Burke but unfortunately Barbara passed away. For me I saw her really have a significant impact with a lot of organizations because of what you’re talking about and doing the mindfulness work. One of the things she also had a lot of success with is with book clubbing. She wrote a couple books and one of her books was titled the, The Napkin Mellow of the Monkey, and make sure we’ll put a link to both her books on your show notes page, but it was amazing for me to see talking to her clients, her customers, that were in these contact centers and how much of a positive impact working with her had actually had upon them both personally and professionally was huge. 

 

Debi Mongan:   Well, I have to tell you this is going to sound like we practiced this, but we didn’t we can both attest to that, I list in the things that I suggest a company do because there are the parameters of people can’t be off the phone and they can’t do this they can’t do that. One of the things that I did eight ten years ago back when I first started experimenting with this was started a book club. That way people could read the book at home on their own something related to wellness and then we would discuss it and it was great at least gets the subject on the table. I am not familiar with Barbara and I’m really excited that you’ve shared a little about her because I definitely will look into to her work.

 

Jim Rembach:   Barbara always said that she wanted to make a dent in the world and of course she’d passed away and she’d left a void in the world, so hopefully there’s an opportunity for you to step in and carry some of that important work forward. Now one of the things that we’re talking about when we just refer to mindfulness and stress and all those things, emotions and energy. One of the things that we look at on the show which is really important to help give us energy and help us with a sense of direction are quotes. Is there a quote or two that you can share that you like?

 

Debi Mongan:   There is. Actually I’m kind of a collector of quotes I love that stuff. In trying to pick one it would be really difficult but I the one I want to share is a quote from Dr. Maya Angelou, I have a handful of them that I love. This particular one she said, ask for what you want and be prepared to get it. And the thing that I liked the most about that quote is that over the years since I first heard it, it has changed in what it means to me. When I first heard it I took it quite literally.  I was at an early stage in my management career and I needed to understand—I was working in professional sports industry nothing but men and I really, literally needed to understand—ask for what you want and assume you’re going to get it prepare to get it. So, that’s what it meant at first and why it stuck with me. Now 25 years later, it means it’s a validation to me that your thoughts do create your reality. You can manifest just about anything that you want. Your mind is so powerful, your mind is so powerful that it can affect your job and your KPIs when you harness it correctly.

 

Jim Rembach:   Without a doubt. For me I keep trying to remind myself cognitively about those things so that I can influence all that subconscious thinking that’s going on at ten thousand miles an hour. When I start also thinking about all this and you talked about the journey and what it meant to you differently. Throughout our lives we have a lot of humps that we have to get over and they help formulate some of those things in our head that aren’t so good and it helped us hopefully have enough wisdom and power to be able to put those things at bay and really be more mindful and focus on the positive but those humps are a lot of learning opportunities. Is there a time where you’ve gotten over the hump where we can learn?

 

Debi Mongan:   I actually unfortunately have several, I actually have a couple. I love that that’s saying that the universe will whisper in your ear for a little while and then if you don’t listen it’s going to yell at you and I’ve had a couple times I’ve been yelled at. One that I think is important and that I learned the most from and still tap into later. A little over 25 years ago I had been in the customer service industry for almost 10 years and was moving up the ladder and doing pretty well and got kind of my first management just a little above a supervisor position. My initial reaction and thoughts which I’m kind of ashamed to admit now was, knowing take it easy. Now I’m a manager I don’t have to talk to customers anymore and just not the great attitude at all and this happened to coincide with when my daughter was born. When she was born I decided to take a break from my career it wasn’t a hard decision to make it all I wanted to at least spend the first five years of her life with her, so that’s what I did. A lot of people were very supportive and a lot of people thought I was crazy you’re just hitting your stride, but that’s what I did. 

 

Now where it gets interesting is five years later when I decide to reenter the workforce I’m I think I’m just going to go right back in where I left off and I’m interviewing and I’m very quickly finding out that’s not what’s going to happen. I had to sit down and have a little talk with myself and figure out, okay, how am I going to approach this? What I decided was I’m going to start from scratch. It just so happened there was a job opening at the Baltimore Orioles minor-league baseball team, very close to my home a huge baseball fan my whole life, this was amazing. All they needed was someone in their telemarketing department selling tickets. So, I went to the interview and did really well and I clearly remember coming home and telling my family I’m going to take the job I’m going to them what I got and in six months I’m going to be running the place. I was totally wrong it was three months. Actually it was a very small contact center and telemarketers, there was only eight of us, but three months end I was asked to manage the team and literally going from I’m on the phones today I’m managing everyone tomorrow. It was very sobering and exciting and scary and as Maya said ask for what you want and prepare to get it I don’t know that I was really prepared to get it but it was great and I learned a lot with it.

 

To add to that, a few months after that we started a partnership with Special Olympics and I was asked to expand the call center from the eight telemarketers that we had to 40, I had no idea how to do that or what to do so there was a lot of learning process. But the reason that it was successful was I approached it from the perspective of still being on the phones and still being on the frontline that’s what really cemented to me and that was going to be my management style. I consider myself an advocate for agents and reps and it’s worked for me all along and I don’t intend to ever change. That’s how this evolved to where I am today. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Thanks for sharing that. I can only imagine going from 8 to 40 unless you been in it—that is like a massive growth. When you start getting into that larger number the whole scheduling issue and the exception processing of people needing time off and all this that and the other just becomes a huge burden within itself it’s a lot easier to handle with eight but when you have that higher number it’s really tough. You said you didn’t know where to go and you just focused on agent, I have to push back on you say no, no, no, no, you had to learn a heck of a lot more than that. Where did you go? 

 

Debi Mongan:   There was some trial and error for sure the Internet wasn’t even a thing at that point so getting feedback from agents actually as far as the training part of things what worked for you so I was able to develop training that way. We had two great assistants that were really helpful and I had a colleague that was my direct superior and the four of us we just figured out how we thought it should be. There was nowhere to go there was no references to take we just figured out how it should be and knew going in that we had to be really flexible because we weren’t going to get it right the first time.

 

Jim Rembach:   Well, you had a lot trust that you had obtained at that point from management that’s for sure because it’s was a risky proposition so I commend you on how ever you even handled that it wasn’t just an agent thing you were managing that executive expectation as well.

 

Debi Mongan:   Yes, thank you that that was really a nice confidence builder for me. As I mentioned before baseball is professional sports so there’s very few women doing anything that level they there and to be successful at it was really great. The flip side of that coin is we were so successful that they ended up just selling the division to Comcast and we got taken over by the big conglomerate so somehow that’s supposed to be a compliment but….

 

Jim Rembach:   Well, it is. You actually built a revenue stream for them that they otherwise would not have had.

 

Debi Mongan:   But the thing about it is if you grow up a baseball fan you love it, it just seemed like I will do anything I will crawl in class to have an office in the stadium?  I would go out at lunchtime and sit and watch batting practice so I was willing to do a lot to have that position. 

 

Jim Rembach:      Well, yeah it’s funny that you say that. You and I talked about the whole pro bono work thing and me being such the giving heart sometimes my wife is like, you need to stop doing that. I’m afraid if I was able to work for a baseball organization they probably wouldn’t have to pay me, right? 

 

Debi Mongan:   Correct, exactly. 

 

Jim Rembach:      Okay, so you got a lot of things going on, you’re trying help people be more mindful in contact  centers and hopefully like I said you’ll be able to fill that void and carry it forward that Barbara had actually vacated too soon, there’s a whole lot of moving parts to all of this. If you were to say you had one goal, what would it be? 

 

Debi Mongan:   My one goal that I can look back and say I was successful, I have to use an analogy to explain it to you, those of us that have been in the business for a really long time remember back in the day when it was unheard of to take an agent or a rep off the phone for 15 minutes to one-on-one coaching session, unheard of. Now we look back on that now and think that’s ridiculous. Of course you need to do that because the return on that is amazing and that’s what I’m trying to accomplish with the mindfulness aspect of wellness. I want to look back and have it be commonplace and I want everyone to laugh and say I remember the day when we didn’t even know how to balance our breaths. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Debi Mongan:   I hope so. 

 

Jim Rembach:   I know you are. Okay, what do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today? 

 

Debi Mongan:   Being self-conscious to take things personally.

 

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

 

Debi Mongan:   Don’t say it if you don’t mean it and you’re not going to do it.

 

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

 

Debi Mongan:   My sincere desire for the success of others and not just my own. 

 

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

 

Debi Mongan:   Owning my mistakes and admitting when I’m wrong.

 

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

 

Debi Mongan:   I’m going to give you two, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and The Alchemist by Paul

Coelho.

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, Fast Leader Legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going www.fastleader.net/Debimongan. Okay, Debi this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: imagine you were given the opportunity go back to the age of 25 and you’ve been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything back you can only choose one. So, what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why? 

 

Debi Mongan:   This too shall pass. None of the problems and issues and things that you’re facing that are keeping you up at night are world-changing, life-altering events just take it easy. Because life is too short, life is way too short and that time can be better spent doing other things.

 

Jim Rembach:   Debi, 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?

 

Debi Mongan:   Sure. My website is www.mindfulcustomerservice.com and I am on Twitter @debimongan. 

 

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

 

END OF AUDIO 

 

 

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Christine Comaford Smart Tribes Power Your Tribe

160: Christine Comaford: I had to reach to a deep place inside myself

Christine Comaford Show Notes Page

Christine Comaford fell to the ground and her body couldn’t stay standing. She had just found out that her step son died unexpectedly at college. While trying to cope with this tremendous loss, she had to fulfill numerous professional obligations. But she was unable to function. That’s when she found something that she had never realized before that has allowed her to experience an entirely new existence.

Christine was born in Hollywood, CA and raised in Palos Verdes, CA and Greenwich, CT. She has 1 older sister. Her parents divorced when she was 16, then re-married when she was in my 30s. She cried tears of joy during the entire ceremony!

Christine’s parents were both entrepreneurs and renegades in their own way. Her mom is an immigrant with English as her 3rd language (Russian and Spanish were first). She is an artist with fiber and jewelry as her primary mediums. She taught Christine about adaptability. Her father led Human Resources in the early days of Mattel Toys and Gallo Wine. He taught her about entrepreneurship and tenacity.

Christine was always involved in business ventures from lemonade stands to girl scout cookies. She got her first job at 14 at a bakery and discovered she loved business even more than she thought. She often questioned authority and “the rules” which led to her dropping out of high school and negotiating her way into college at 17.

She quit college once she fell in love with computers… why get a computer science degree when she could just teach herself to program then get a job? That’s what she did and after a few small companies she got a job at Microsoft. She had to pretend to be male to get an interview, but that’s another story. Later she launched and sold/took public 5 companies and then retired. The phone kept ringing and she was asked to use the cool tools she had shared with her employees to get great success. SmartTribes Institute was the result. Now she works with companies of all sizes that want to create peak performing leaders in emotionally engaging and resilient cultures. She knows people are tribal and company cultures providing safety, belonging, mattering yield powerful and sustained results.

There are 2 key aspects of Christine’s legacy:

  1. The many careers she has helped to shape. The people that have come together to form powerful teams, the conflicts that have been cleared. The emotional resilience and agility that has resulted. The great companies and many jobs in awesome cultures that she has supported.
  2. Christine’s volunteer work for the past 19 years has been with hospice patients. She has helped 40 people die with as much grace, peace, closure as possible.

Christine currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband Geoff Heron. Geoff does special effects and visual effects for major motion pictures—he’s done over 100 so you’ve definitely seen his work. She has 3 step kids, all grown.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“The vast majority of people haven’t fully tapped their amazing potential.” – Christine Comaford Click to Tweet 

“Everybody’s showing up the best they can with the resources they have.” – Christine Comaford Click to Tweet 

“We all have blind-spots, that’s why they’re blind.” – Christine Comaford Click to Tweet 

“The human being will go to whatever behavior feels best.” – Christine Comaford Click to Tweet 

“If we don’t know how we’re feeling, how can we get to how we want to feel?” – Christine Comaford Click to Tweet 

“Often when we have a problem we hyper-focus on it and we keep staring at it.” – Christine Comaford Click to Tweet 

“We choose the meaning that we make.” – Christine Comaford Click to Tweet 

“Nothing is good or bad, only thinking makes it so.” – Christine Comaford Click to Tweet 

“The meaning of your communication is the message received, it’s not the message sent.” – Christine Comaford Click to Tweet 

“Putting yourself out there is more important than smarts.” – Christine Comaford Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Christine Comaford fell to the ground and her body couldn’t stay standing. She had just found out that her step son died unexpectedly at college. While trying to cope with this tremendous loss, she had to fulfill numerous professional obligations. But she was unable to function. That’s when she found something that she had never realized before that has allowed her to experience an entirely new existence.

Advice for others

Have compassion for others and their challenges.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Time management.

Best Leadership Advice

Putting yourself out there is more important than smarts.

Secret to Success

Tremendous tenacity

Best tools that helps in Business or Life

Meditation

Recommended Reading

SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together

Power Your Tribe: Create Resilient Teams in Turbulent Times

Contacting Christine Comaford

website: http://poweryourtribe.com

website: http://smarttribesinstitute.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Comaford

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

Resources and Show Mentions

The Emotion Wheel Graphic – know what your emotions are

Resilience Cycle Graphic – anchor the outcome you want

An Even Better Place to Work

Empathy Mapping

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

Show Transcript: 

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

160: Christine Comaford: I had to reach to a deep place inside myself

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

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

Jim Rembach:   Okay, Fast Leader legion I’m almost not excited to have this guest on the show today because I will be greatly disappointed if I only have her on once. Christine Comaford was born in Hollywood, California and raised in Palos Verdes California and Greenwich, Connecticut. She has one older sister. Her parents divorced when she was 16 and then remarried when she was in her 30’s she cried tears of joy during the entire ceremony. Christine’s parents were both entrepreneurs and renegades in their own way. Her mom is an immigrant with English as her third language, Russian and Spanish were her first. She is an artist with fiber and jewelry as her primary mediums. She taught Christine about adaptability, her father led human resources in the early days of Mattel toys and Gallo Wine. He taught her about entrepreneurship and tenacity. Christine was always involved in business ventures from lemonade stands to Girl Scout cookies. She got her first job at the age of 14 at a bakery and discovered she loved business even more than she thought. She often questioned authority and the rules which led her to dropping out of high school and negotiating her way into college at 17. 

 

She quit college once she fell in love with computers, why get a computer science degree when she could just teach herself a program and then get a job. And that’s what she did after a few small companies she got a job with Microsoft. She had to pretend to be male to get an interview but that’s another story. Later she launched and took public’s five companies and then retired. The phone kept ringing and she was asked to use the cool tools she had shared with her employees to get great success, Smart Tribe Institute was the result. Now she works with companies of all sizes that want to create peak performance leaders in emotionally engaging and resilient cultures. She knows people are tribal and that when company cultures provides safety belonging and mattering it yields powerful and sustainable results. Christine currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband Jeff Herron. Jeff does special effects and visual effects for major motion pictures. He’s done over a hundred so you’ve probably seen his work. She has three step kids all grown. Christine Comaford, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Christine Comaford:   I’m ready. 

 

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

 

Christine Comaford:   My current passion is that Smart Tribe Institute it is really helping people step in to who they truly are. I find the vast majority of people even the eight billionaire’s I’ve worked with and two US presidents haven’t fully tapped their amazing potential. And when they learn to be emotionally agile when they learn to be resilient and adaptable at a deep profound level when they learn how to bring that experience to others we can do anything. 

Okay, so wait a minute, you’re talking about those that you’ve worked with and still they have issues with not being able to bring their full self, I can only imagine what the rest of us have issues with.

 

Christine Comaford:   Here’s the thing. Everybody is showing up the best they can with the resources they have. We bring them more resources than they can show up in entirely new ways. And yeah, it’s super wicked, courageous for as U.S. president and billionaires people we think are super accomplished to have the guts to say, I want to go to the next level. That’s like huge courage. 

 

Jim Rembach:   That is a good point. And when you start thinking about the next level it does require push. And that push oftentimes, if you’re already at a certain point well it doesn’t matter if you are or not you need others to help do that. 

 

Christine Comaford:   Because we all have blind spots that’s where they’re blind, right, you can’t see anyone. And when somebody says, wow I know I’ve got some blind spots I can’t see them but I’m getting these responses that I don’t want to get or I can’t seem to get over this hump or have these perpetual behaviors that I want to change, can you help me syndrome and see (4:20) and shift and when we say yeah, we’re about being emotionally agile. Jim, the human being will go to whatever behavior feels best whatever behavior on their behavioral menu feels best or if there isn’t a better choice a good feeling choice they’ll pick whichever behavior feels less bad. As leaders we have this amazing opportunity to help our people expand to edit to increase their range of behaviors that feel good. So, if accountability doesn’t feel good they’re not going to be accountable. What if we could take and make accountability feel good. So, we’re going to talk about creating more behaviors that feel good that actually get people what they want. Gosh! 

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, so as you were talking I started thinking—you said several things there and it brings me to something that you had in the book, so that for me I often find disconnect and confusion with, and quite frankly in a book it’s difficult to read so I’m going have to ask you for a larger map of it, and that is the emotion wheel. And so I think when you start talking about being able to connect with self, you guys can’t see this when she’s showing me a big picture of it, of your video.

 

Christine Comaford:   But I give you guys a picture if you want it.

 

Jim Rembach:   Definitely. 

 

Christine Comaford:   A nice pretty big color wheel. 

 

Jim Rembach:   And so looking at the emotion wheel and you see how it connects at the core, talking about the hub and the spindle of it, is oftentimes people will say something and describe themselves or a particular feeling or something like that maybe that they’re always used to actually describing themselves with and it connects back to fear. And so when you talk to them about fear they’re like, no, no, no I’m not scared—really? So the whole self-actualization piece to me I think is a major gap.

 

Christine Comaford:   Yeah. So here’s the thing, there are a lot of sub-flavors if you will. In the emotion wheel when you see the image of it that will get you, in the scared piece of pie the scared sector it can be rejected, it can be insecure, it can be anxious, it can be overwhelmed. How often do you hear people say that they’re overwhelmed? All the time. So, here’s the thing, if you look at Travis Bradbury’s recent research only 36 % of humans know how they’re feeling in any given time. If we don’t know how we’re feeling, how can we get to how we want to feel? So, we need to first step back and say okay, the emotion wheel’s great for this, you’re upset or whatever, what exactly is going on? You look at the emotion wheel you figure out what’s going on here then you can do one of the practices in the book. You can do maneuvers of consciousness which takes you through a process of resisting what is happening that you’re not enjoying to getting really curious to getting kind of amazed that it could even happen to getting in full appreciation. And in about 12 minutes you will shift your emotional state powerfully that’s how resilient we are. We can get in this hamster wheel where we’re just ruminating and obsessing about a particular thing or we can just grab power your tribe. We can use maneuvers of consciousness tool and we can get into something that we want.

 

Jim Rembach:   Okay, I had this conversation just yesterday with the guidance counselor at my at my kid’s school. I have a daughter who right now is a freshman like many freshmen do she’s having some struggles. And then also when you start talking about the enormity and the impact of that year on your academic career it’s pretty significant. And I told her I said look, people don’t come out of the womb knowing how to achieve they have to learn that. When you start to have resiliency you have to learn how to become resilient in order to achieve.

 

Christine Comaford:   Yes. And often when we have a problem we hyper focus on it—ow, this feels bad, ow, I don’t like this and we keep staring at it. What I want us to learn how to do, because it’s so powerful, and you can do this with your daughter and it would be awesome is to say, yep, that’s bad we want to consent to it, that’s bad that’s painful we’re feeling overwhelmed whatever that’s super stressful consent to it we don’t resist it. And then we say and what would you like? And then we can go through the outcome frame and you can even do it with around your experience at school. What would you like? Okay, cool, something she can create and maintain not like someone magically we do something for her something she can create maintain. What would you like?

 

Second question, what will haven’t I do for you? How will you feel? What benefits will you get? Grab the emotion wheel because people are going, oh, I feel good. No, good is not an emotion. Okay, how will you know when you have that particular outcome question? 

 

Number three, how will you know? Well, when I’m getting these grades and when I show up at school and I’m not super nervous. We need to get evidence and criteria in question number three. 

 

Question number four, when we’re with whom would you like this? I just want to (9:19 inaudible) and I just want this right now. 

 

And then question number five, what a value might you risk or lose to get it? To get that outcome that you want in question number one, what that you value might you risk or lose? Wow, well I’m going to have to maybe stretch a bit. I’m going to have to maybe do more homework? I’m going to have to maybe get a guidance counselor. I’m going to have to not hang out with my friends quite as much, whatever, I’m going to have to tell people that I’m scared and I need help there’s always an ego risk there. 

 

And then question number six, what are your next steps? And by the time you’re done with an outcome frame please you guys do them for fifteen minutes. Please go deep if you’re going to do an outcome frame give it what it needs. When we go and we do now come frame for 15 minutes our reptilian and our mammalian brain takes it from being a fantasy to a reality. Because when we go in for 15 minutes we start to see, we start to hear, we start to feel, all the good feelings the visuals, the auditory, the kinesthetic experiences of being in that desired stage then we can actually start to create it otherwise it’s kind of like a glib fantasy.

 

Jim Rembach:   I think that’s an excellent point. As you were talking I’m like, Okay, well I hit on that, I hit on that to try to direct her and help her move forward. But it’s all those other pieces that I didn’t have and it’s going to allow me to close the loop, so thank you for sharing that. Ultimately, what we’re doing is we’re getting to the point where we can actually have and create a resiliency cycle. In the book you talked about this resiliency cycle and if you could hit on those real quick please.

 

Christine Comaford:   In the beginning we are needing to release resistance. Something happening it doesn’t feel good we’re not enjoying it and we are sitting there resisting it. When we’re resisting we’re giving it a lot of energy and that energy is actually what we need to do something to create what we want. First, we want to release that resistance and the maneuvers of consciousness that I mentioned is a great process because it takes you from being super resistant to really appreciating whatever that experience is. Next, we have to increase rapport with ourselves. We have to say, okay, so now that I’m not resisting anymore what would I? How am I feeling? What part of me is having a challenge with this?  

 

And we give you a bunch of tools and power your cards for that and next we get to make new meaning. Hey, because this is happening it actually means that, oh, it’s cold and rainy and wet outside, oh, bummer this means traffic’s going to be really bad. Oh, t’s cold and rainy and wet outside this means that I can sit down with Joe, who I’ve always been wanting to hang out with have a cup of coffee let traffic pass and establish this really cool relationship. We choose the meaning that we make. Stuff happens all the time we get tons of sensory input playing into our brain stem but we choose what it means. Nothing is good or bad only thinking makes it so. 

 

Next, we want to anchor that outcome. We figured out the outcome that we want. We’ve made the meaning that we want around it. Your daughter—it’s so awesome that I’m having this challenge at school because it’s really helping me stretch and grow and get to know myself and deepen my relationship with my dad, this is cool. Then when we learn how to anchor that we can set a visual auditory kinesthetic anchor in our body. For instance, we can anchor that good feeling so that when we have those hard days we can trigger that anchor and flood our systems with positive visual auditory kinesthetic cues. Then if we’re working with others we want to enroll, engage others. We want to build that tribal agility so everybody else has these tools and then we want to expand that tribal power so as a team we can adjust and adapt.

 

Jim Rembach:   When we start talking about being able to get into the team aspects of it and when we refer to the different transformations that organizations are just really being enforced to have to go through right now, for multitude of different reasons, is there’s a there’s a whole lot of emotions that come into play that could cause us to focus on those bad things instead of the positive things. You talk about to me it just jumped out, I’ll give everybody the actual page number, to me it was kind of subtle but it led on to some really important things. And that was on page 104 where you talk about people misunderstand one another daily. Why? Because we speak different languages and we’re not talking about English and Spanish we’re really speaking different languages at a subterranean or subconscious or primal level everyone deletes distorts and generates and formulates about the environment differently. And therefore every human has his or her own unique map of the world his or her map is created based on the environment in which he or she was raised in and a multitude of other factors. As a revolt as a result we are all essentially speaking different languages and this is how misunderstandings occur. So, we have to be aware of that going into, and we’re trying to create this tribal power and the resiliency, and understand something that you call the Meta Programs, tell us about that?

 

Christine Comaford:   Yeah. So, we often think back into the last time when somebody was upset based on what you said and you said to yourself or to them, but that’s not what I meant. It doesn’t matter what you meant, sorry, it matters what they received. The meaning of the communication is the message received it’s not the message sent its how it was received. This is why meta-programs which were discovered by Leslie Cameron Bandler in the 70s and refined in the 80’s there are over 60 meta-programs we’re just going to talk about four. Meta Programs are so powerful because they are the lens through which we experience the world. This is not personality testing that’s like the third floor of the building this is Meta Programs or the sub-basement. What’s interesting about Meta Programs is once you start to, and you guys will figure them out in a sec, once you start to decode somebody’s Meta Programs you understand the structure of their identity. You understand the structure of their belief system. 

 

Let’s go over a few of them. For starters toward or away, is a person motivated by going toward pleasure goals, goals, goals achievement, achievement, achievement? Or are they motivated by away, solving problems, mitigating risk, preventing disaster? We need to understand that because if we are goals, goals, goals toward oriented people toward pleasure we don’t think about the pain but we’re trying to sell an idea to our team engage them in a project deal with a conflict whatever and they are away, the person we’re talking to is all about mitigating risk solving problems preventing disaster, we’re not going to be speaking the same language. If we can sit down with them with that away person and say, wow, I have a problem I really need your help I want to avoid this bad thing from happening. They’ll be like, Oh, she’s speaking my language. When we use Meta Programs the person’s most primal part of their brain their creature neurology their reptilian mammalian brain says, they’re the same as me I don’t have to resist them. 

 

Okay, so the first one is to ward away. Start to think guys, are you more to ward or more away? There’s no right answer be who you are but also these are contextual. At work you might be one Meta Program around parenting, around money around romantic love you might be another. Let’s pick it a couple more to illustrate this point. The next are options or procedures: are you all about lots of choice lots of possibility “the world of my oyster” I want to be able to shock and jive and change and pick a bunch of different things? Or are you more motivated by a proven step-by-step process? Sometimes people get confused here. Option people like to create procedures for somebody else to follow.

 

A procedure person if you interrupt them while they’re walking through their five-step process or whatever they will start back at the beginning because it interrupted their flow it messed up their procedure. A procedure’s person is compelled to get to the end of the process so make sure that the end of the process is where you want it to be. You’re working with one of our clients. 

 

We use a lot of Meta Programs in sales and marketing and we laid out the whole process for their procedural prospects, sales prospects, and they came back to me and they said, it’s not working they’re not buying anything more. And I said, what was the last step in the process? They said, the close the sale is closed. They said, whoa, whoa, whoa the last step in the process should be the project is completed and we meet to discuss the next one. They’re like, oh, whoa, options, procedures know which one you are. And then next let’s look at active reflector. Active reflective, active is like Nike, just do it. Active people have a short sentence structure, they don’t use a lot of words they all about action, action, action they get really impatient, go, go, go. 

 

Reflective people want to consider, ponder, understand, analyze then they’ll make a decision. Active people sometimes decide too fast and make mistakes and have to rewind. Reflective people sometimes they take too long, they procrastinate, etc. You need to understand who you are and who you’re talking to. Ideally put active reflective persons together on a project. Let’s just do one more general a specific. In Power your Tribe we show you all the decoding questions and all the ways to figure out with somebody else and a ton of examples of Meta Program language. General specific, high-level in that net executive summary, specific people like lots of details and then they can start to understand what that high-level vision is. If a specific person is talking to or selling to a general person pretty quickly the general person will drop out of rapport they’ll be like, whoa, too much information just give me the net-net. Likewise, if a general person is selling to a specific person the specific person might not trust them, well, this was a little too high-level this guy doesn’t really know what he’s talking about, this is too flaky what’s he leaving out? So, high level explanation of Meta Program, super-powerful, beautiful stuff. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Well it is. And as you were talking you mentioned it about sales and marketing is I do create a lot of marketing content and material and communications and things like that and so what I try to do is use both ends of these things within a particular sentence. You’re talking about somebody going towards a goal and avoiding a fear. If you put that all into one sentence you actually appeal to both people because they’ll pick out the part that connects with them. 

 

Christine Comaford:   Okay, Jim, you just this before. The human brain deletes, distorts and generalizes, so, yes everybody what Jim said is really important. You can do a blended Meta Program message because a person will delete this stuff that’s not relevant to them, beautiful. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Absolutely. Gosh! Like I said, I didn’t want you on the show just once– 

 

Christine Comaford:   I’ll come back. 

 

Jim Rembach:   –we’re going to talk about that. There’s a whole lot of going back to the emotion wheel and everything that we’re talking about. There’s so much frustration as well as some of the positive things when you get these things right just the power and the ability to perform and exceed and overachieve is just tremendous but it’s loaded with emotion. 

 

Christine Comaford:   The connection between people the loyalty between people the confidence that you can build it’s just awesome the peace, yeah, it’s beautiful.

 

Jim Rembach:   Absolutely. One of the things that we look on the show to kind of help give us a little bit of emotional charge are quotes, is there a quote or two that you like that you can share?

 

Christine Comaford:   I love “Leap and the Net will appear.” I’ve taken so many risks in my life because I really felt like the right thing to do and people were like, you’re nuts you really shouldn’t do that, but I just felt it. I think all of us have like a little Spider Man sense, like a little spidey sense, my spidey sense was saying, go brave.

 

Jim Rembach:   I’m glad you have taken those risks because you’ve been able to produce some of the things like you have within the Power your Tribe and I’m sure you’ve affected a lot of lives in the process. With that for you to get to this point and take those risks and pit it and do all that there’s a lot of humps that I’m sure you’ve had to get over, is there a time where you’ve gotten over the hump that you can share? 

 

Christine Comaford:   January 15, 2015 my stepson died. He was 21, totally healthy kid, totally happy kid, super athletic using my prior book, Smart Tribe, to help not end, because it’s too big to end, but reduce binge drinking at Sonoma State University, he was doing all this amazing stuff he’d always been just this amazing child, and he died at 21. When I got the phone call from his dad, my ex-husband I fell to the ground it’s like my body couldn’t stay standing and I had a bunch of commitments to people and again, I’m super, super crazy responsible, and I had a really hard time functioning for a week. So my amazing assistant Alexis took care of smoothing things out for everybody. 

 

But it was hard to show up for people because I had like 40 executives that were flying down to the Dominican Republic to do this huge strategic retreat and they really needed my help. I had 300 people that were gathered in this other place I had all these big huge, gnarly commitments that I had to meet. And I had to reach down into myself at a level that I hadn’t reached down to even with my divorce, even with the death of my dad, I do reach to such a deep place inside myself and then of course I would find myself. And when I got was that even though I’m super responsible I realized that I’m more supported than I ever knew and that people really want to help. And knowing that has been huge for me because now I can let myself receive in a ways I couldn’t before. 

 

Jim Rembach:   Well thanks for sharing that and I’m sure, I can speak for myself and I’m sure the rest of the legion say we’re sorry about the loss of your stepson. For me I find myself in that story in a couple of different moments not the depth that you’re talking about but I know also that those days are coming in front of me so I appreciate you sharing that. When you start thinking about all of these things that you have going on right now, obviously family is very important to you, you have the work with the Power of Tribe in the Institute, speaking, all of these things, coaching, when you look at all of that that’s sitting on your plate, what’s one of your goals?

 

Christine Comaford:   I have so many. I think the biggest one is really to know that when I one day leave this life that I have really made a profound difference. That’s why I’m working now, you know I retired when I was 40 and here 55 here I am working. People are so remarkable and I do hospice volunteering as well and I just helped my 40th patient pass. The honor the privilege, leadership is a privilege, to help somebody step in to who they truly are there’s nothing like it. And to be able to do that every day, which all of us can, that’s what I live for.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Christine Comaford:   I’m ready to hoedown.

 

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

 

Christine Comaford:   Time management.

 

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

 

Christine Comaford:   Putting yourself out there is more important than smart.

 

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

 

Christine Comaford:   Tremendous tenacity. 

 

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

 

Christine Comaford:   Meditation.

 

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

 

Christine Comaford:   Power your Tribe or Smart Tribe.  

 

Jim Rembach:   So, we’ll put a link to both of your books on your show notes page and you’ll be able to find that legion at the fastleader.net/Christine Comaford. Okay, Christine, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question. Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25. And you’ve been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you. But you can’t take everything back you can only choose one. What skill or a piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

Christine Comaford:   I would take back compassion, compassion for others and their challenges. Because when I was  25 I really didn’t get that everybody’s doing the best they can and I was really judgmental and really being able to take back what I see now around compassion and letting people be who they are I think would be lovely to have brought back then.

 

Jim Rembach:   Christine, 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. 

 

Christine Comaford:   Yes. Go to poweryourtribe.com that’s our new book website and then if you want to learn about a ton of other stuff about us you can go to our YouTube channel, Christine Comaford. You can follow us on Twitter @comaford and you can go to our company website, www.smarttribesinstitute.com.

 

Jim Rembach:   Christine Comaford, 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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087: Roy Atkinson: Despite the fact that I grew up privileged

Roy Atkinson Show Notes

Roy Atkinson grew up as a privileged kid. Then Roy found himself needing to work his way through high school and college while his mother tended to her ailing mother and Roy’s father. Roy had to get over several humps to move onward and upward. But one of Roy’s most valuable lessons came later.

Roy was cited as the model for the “Digital Renaissance Man” by Charles Araujo, writing for CIO Insight. His varied background shows why.

Roy is a lover of language. He studied Spanish for three years and French for four before graduating grammar school. He returned to Spanish for three years in high school and two more in college, by which time he was the only non-native speaker in the class. He started reading Italian as well, and learned to speak it with friends and neighbors in New Jersey.

Along the way, he studied six years of Latin, two years of Greek, and two years of German in formal classes, adding some conversational Serbian through a friend. He is currently about six months into learning Swedish using Duolingo software.

Roy was also an honors student in English literature and philosophy at Iona College and at the State University of New York, at both the Purchase and Albany campuses.

This all ties back to his love of communication in all forms, and his desire to understand and be understood.

Roy learned customer service from the ground up, delivering newspapers, mowing lawns, walking dogs, stocking shelves and ringing up customers in a supermarket.

He paid for college expenses by pumping gas and playing music. After academia, Roy launched a musical career—he had been playing guitar, piano and percussion since childhood—and was able to work as a full-time musician and producer for over twenty years. He was voted “Best Solo Artist” six consecutive times by the readers of the New York regional publication Musicmachine Magazine and was inducted into the Musicmachine Hall of Fame in 1989.

In 1995, Roy changed careers and obtained a job running information technology for an international nonprofit think tank based in Camden, Maine. He was later hired by The Jackson Laboratory where his manager suggested he attend an HDI meeting, and Roy became a member and later a founding officer for the Northern New England local chapter.

When HDI, the professional association and certification body for technical support, needed someone with technical understanding, deep IT support experience, and excellent writing skills, Roy applied for and got the job. He has been with HDI since 2010 as their senior writer/analyst.

Roy currently lives near Bar Harbor, Maine.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“Speak the language of the business that the business understands.” -Roy Atkinson Click to Tweet

“Understand what success is to your business.” -Roy Atkinson Click to Tweet 

“Understand how to help customers be successful in your business.” -Roy Atkinson Click to Tweet 

“Express things in the terms that business units can understand.” -Roy Atkinson Click to Tweet 

“Be mindful, pick up on details for people.” -Roy Atkinson Click to Tweet 

“Earning your way in and getting familiar with people is really important.” -Roy Atkinson Click to Tweet 

“You can get disconnected with people if you push it to hard too fast.” -Roy Atkinson Click to Tweet 

“Understanding the other person is paramount in any relationship.” -Roy Atkinson Click to Tweet 

“Listen to what people have to say and how they say it.” -Roy Atkinson Click to Tweet 

“Being a good leader is to understand when you need to go in and when you shouldn’t.” -Roy Atkinson Click to Tweet 

“Try to help other people get over difficulties they are facing.” -Roy Atkinson Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Roy Atkinson grew up as a privileged kid. Then Roy found himself needing to work his way through high school and college while his mother tended to her ailing mother and Roy’s father. Roy had to get over several humps to move onward and upward. But one of Roy’s most valuable lessons came later.

Advice for others

Eliminate obstacles from your people’s path.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Focusing too much on what other people think.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Leaders are people who make other leaders.

Secret to Success

Seek to understand and then be understood.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

My technology that helps me to connect with others.

Recommended Reading

Peter Drucker: Management Rev Ed

Contacting Roy

email: roy.atkinson [at] ubm.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/royatkinson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/hdi_analyst

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”]

087: Roy Atkinson: Despite the fact that I grew up privileged 

 

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

 

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

Jim Rembach:    Okay Fast Leader Legion it’s said that our experiences that makes us wiser. Well, then our guest today is one of the wisest because he’s had tons of experiences. Roy Atkinson was cited as the model for the Digital Renaissance man by Charles Araujo writing for the CIO Insight. Roy is a lover of language. He studied Spanish for three years and French for four before graduating grammar school. He returned to Spanish for three years in high school and two more in college by which time he was the only non-native speaker in the class. He started reading Italian as well and learn to speak it with friends and neighbors in New Jersey. Along the way he studied six years of Latin, two years of Greek, two years of German in formal classes, adding some conversational Serbian through a friend he’s also currently about six months into learning Swedish. Roy was also an honor student in English literature and philosophy at Iona College and at the State University of New York at both the Purchase and Albany campuses. This all ties back to his love of communication in all forms and his desire to understand and be understood. 

Roy learn customer service from the ground up delivering newspapers, mowing lawns, walking dogs, stocking shelves and ringing up customers in the supermarket. He paid for college expenses by pumping gas and playing music. After academia, Roy launch a musical career. He’d been playing guitar, piano, percussions since childhood he was able to work as a full-time musician and produce for over 20 years. He was voted best solo artist six consecutive times by the readers of New York regional publication, Music Machine magazine and was inducted into the Music Machine Hall of Fame in 1989. 

In 1995 Roy change careers and obtained a job running information-technology for an international nonprofit think tank based in Camden, Maine. He was later hired by the Jackson Laboratory where his manager suggested he attend an HDI meeting and Roy became a member and later a founding officer for the Northern New England local chapter. When HDI, the Professional Association and Certification body for technical support needed someone with technical understanding, deep IT support experience, and excellent writing skills, Roy applied for the job and got it. He has been with HDI since 2010 as their senior writer. And Roy currently lives near Bar Harbor, Maine. Roy Atkinson are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Roy Atkinson:    I’m ready to get over the hump and help everybody else do it too Jim. 

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

Roy Atkinson:    My current passion is making sure that people get great service whether it’s IT support or customer service and making sure that the folks who are practitioners in those areas have good information to go on, that’s really my focus and my passion. 

Jim Rembach:    That particular focus and passion, I have that too Roy. So, when you start thinking about you and what you bring to it, needless to say your experiences are ton, but what do you like bringing to it that you think is kind of like your niche and your special song?

Roy Atkinson:    I think that in many senses I’m a translator and it not only goes for languages had someone tell back in the days when I was working in a supermarket one of the Cuban folks that work there told me that I should work at the UN as a translator and that translation skill not only works for languages but it also works for technology.  I was just writing something yesterday about being technology translators on how to support people, can help people understand and better utilize the technologies that they have if they can explain them in terms of people to understand. And in order to do that you have to have a deep understanding of the technology and be able to explain it in everyday terms, analogies, stories so that people get a hold of it and corrupt their brains around it. 

Jim Rembach:     Thanks for sharing that and the translation piece, I think the experiences that you’ve had bring so much to the ability to do that translation. But you and I had the opportunity to have a brief conversation after a recent call center conference in Long Beach the with the ICI contact center expo. It was after a keynote where they were talking about executive buy-in and they were talking about an executive at Delta dental of Michigan, Loobag Battagliari (?) was talking about his exposure and introduction to the contact center and held the director that was there, really helped indoctrinate him and helped communicate the contact center. And he talked about several things that I think probably both of us have written about. But that translation to the executive level is something that so many people struggle with at the frontline and even middle managers. With the experiences that you had, if you were to say that there’s one or two things that the folks can do in order to kind of breakthrough that barrier what would it be?

Roy Atkinson:    I think one of the most important thing, and this has been a big topic and information technology over the past few years, is learning to speak the language of the business, there it is again learning that language and delivering information in the language that the business understands. The business may not care about how many times you pick up the phone last month those and those metrics that are so important to contact center and support center managers so they can determine staffing and things like, if I go to the sea level and I say “Hey we enter 10,000 calls last month” they’re going say, “Okay, so what? It’s not important to me what’s important to me is how quickly did you get people back to work after something broke. Why did something break? That’s a big question. So understand what success is to your business and understand how to help the customers be successful in the business and then be able to express things in the terms that the business units can understand.

Jim Rembach:     When you started talking I started thinking about my own experiences being in contact center operations and some of the struggles that I had as a youth in my tenure in contact centers, and part of it was just what you’re talking about. And I think for me as the course of my career is gone and I’ve had the opportunity to sit on some boards for nonprofit organizations for-profit organizations and had those strategic conversations. When I was in operations if someone wants to say to me, you need to talk to your language for me it’s like, what is it? I’ve never exposed to it? Where do I go get it? How do I actually get past that hump of “I’m in the innocent unknowing bucket”? I’m clueless, what do I do?

Roy Atkinson:    So, one of the things that you can do is get yourself educated, okay, that’s one thing.  And one of the best way to do that is start reading. Read business publications, read Harvard Business Review, read Bloomberg. Get to look at the terminology, understand what they’re talking about. In my case, I decided back in 2010 that I really needed to have a more formal structure to that and so I started taking classes at Tulane University Freeman School of Business and pick up a master certification and advanced management strategy on 2011. So, I had that formal business background that would enable me to be more familiar with the terminology and understand what they were looking for and what the terminology meant to them and that’s super important. 

Jim Rembach:     There’s one other aspect that for me I’ve also found is that, you find uniquely different folks within different segments or areas of an organization when you start talking about personalities of course but the way that they actually connect with the business and the customer, and heck even themselves for that matter, is that you kind of have to start with that general framework but then you have to look at the individual and I even recommend to folks building a dossier on the folks that are decision makers within the organization. Like this person for example, loves coffee, I had the opportunity go to a workshop on the science of persuasion and this one guide during the break was talking about how he wasn’t able to connect with the person who he reported to directly and I ask him, “When you walk into his office, what do you see?” He goes, “Coffee” it was all over the place. This guy is a coffee aficionado. He buys coffee from all over the world.” And I said, “What about you?” He goes, “I hate coffee.” I said, “That’s your first problem.” 

Roy Atkinson:    Exactly.  I’ve got a friend named Robbly Jess, who works for a company called Rack Space they’re famous for fanatical support and Robs thing he just love video calls with customers from Rack Space he’s in the support world, and he looks at the background when he’s on the video call he looks at the background maybe he sees a picture of a dog he understands that that person has a dog is a dog lover and so he’s able to send a bunch of dog bones to that person before the next time they talk, things like that are really important picking up on details for people, super important. And I think that—and I know personally I’m always a little bit jittery when people start asking for personal details because I want to feel comfortable with them but at the same time if somebody is mindful enough to pick up on something like that for me it makes a world of difference. I know that you love chocolate and so you send me chocolates, great, that’s a great way to make a friend and introduce yourself to further your relationship. Chris Brogan way back quite a few years ago, wrote a great blog which I refer people to still and it’s called, Earning Your Way In, and he talked about—maybe I met on Twitter and I re-tweeted one of your tweets or I liked one for you tweets and maybe next time I have a Twitter conversation with you and maybe you send me a direct message with your e-mail address saying I’d love to talk to you about this so I responded e-mail so now we’re connected on Twitter and e-mail next thing I connect with you on LinkedIn I get to look at your profile, I get to know more details about you, where you work and what you’ve done and what you do now. And then maybe we have a phone conversation and the next thing you know we’re having coffee together because I came to your city and that type of earning your way in and getting familiar with people is really important than I think. You can get disconnected so this is a delicate area because you can disconnect with people if you push it too hard too fast and understanding the other person of course is paramount in any relationship. So, listen to what they have to say, listen to how they say it. 

Jim Rembach:    I think those are all great pieces of advice. And for us when we start talking about how do we make sure there were on the right direction, right course, and those reminders a lot of times we lean to leadership quotes. Is there a quote or two that stands out for you that you can share? 

Roy Atkinson:    Today I was thinking about a quote from Peter Drucker and I’ll paraphrase it because I don’t remember it exactly but it has something to do with manager’s being people who get in the way of people getting work done.  And that can certainly happen at so many different levels it’s so easy for managers to insert themselves into places that are just creating stumbling blocks for people to get things done. So being a good manager and a good leader is to understand when you need to go in and when you shouldn’t, that’s a really important thing.  I love Drucker, I love Jim Marrone. Jim Marrone has so many different quotes, I can’t even think how many. I use to have a randomizer on my e-mail signature years ago that I think I had 30 Jim Marrone quotes and I would just insert one in my e-mail signature every time an e-mail out, it was great, I loved it.

Jim Rembach:    I know that looking at all the things that you’ve been able to get exposed to and that you really sought out in regards to your own growth and development and very creative as well as technical and structured so you’re working both sides of that brain which is awesome. But to really come into your own, a lot of times, we have to get over some humps in order for us to really find our zone and into really find a groove. Can you think of a time where you’ve had to get over the hump where it sets you in a better direction? Can you share that story?

Roy Atkinson:    There are a lot of humps that I’ve had to get over Jim and I guess one was, despite the fact that I grew up, kind of a privilege kid, I went to a small parochial grammar school, I went to a parochial high school, especially during high school and the early bits of college there were some internal things in the family my dad was ill, my mom was trying to take care my dad and her mother was also ill so she had to devote time and effort to taking care of her mom, all of these created some financial stress on the family and so throughout my high school and college years it was up to me to go out and pay my way and so that’s where some of that work experience comes as I was always working, always trying to figure out could I schedule my college classes in the morning and work at night which I did for quite a few years, so all of those things were difficult to overcome but the same time I learned things from every single one of those experiences. I learn some self-sufficiency from being able pay those bills. I learn to be creative in how I scheduled myself and what my tracks were in school and all that kind of things, so all of that played out in later years as I approach difficulty and try to help other people get over difficulties that they were facing.  

And they’re one of the most valuable things that I could do for people who work with me or for me, was to eliminate obstacles from their path. I remember one specific instance where one of my team members was rather discouraged on how to take a certification exam and he wasn’t sure he could pass it and didn’t know how he could take it because it was far away. And so I managed to convince the testing company to let him take the test remotely, which was not their policy, but I managed to convince them to do that. He passed the certification test and it kind of turned him around because he felt more self-confident. I think that type of thing is important, get the obstacles out of the way. 

Jim Rembach:    So, Roy, I know you’ve gone over a lot of obstacles. You’ve also done a lot of things from a creative side, you have a music business, you’ve been a musician, all those languages that you’re learning, the writing that you love to do, but when you start thinking about all of those things what are some of your goals?

Roy Atkinson:    I think that one of my primary goals is to help my organization be more successful. And I think one of the ways we can do that is by better communicating with our members in our communities. And so I try to increase the options for people, as a matter fact, today as we’re recording this we’re coming up on the first Twitter chat that HDI is going to do and so that will increase the options that people have to communicate with us not only on the subject that we’re going to talk about today but to feel more free about tweeting us and communicating with us that way, open up the channels make sure that people have as many options as possible to freely communicate that’s really important and that’s a limitation of another obstacle and maybe overcome their fear of getting on Twitter give them some place to start, that’s important too.

Jim Rembach:    So, now for the folks that are listeners that are in the support community, what will be the Twitter chat, hash tag that you’re actually using? 

Roy Atkinson:    It’s hash tag #hdichatat

Jim Rembach:    Perfect. So hopefully they’ll come see you. 

 Roy Atkinson:    One P M eastern time every Friday. 

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 customer’s involved 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 up over the hump now by going to customersgradeacall.com/fast and getting your $7500 rapid result package for free.” 

Alright Fast Leader listeners it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Roy, 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. Roy Atkinson, are you ready to hoedown?

Roy Atkinson:    I’m ready to hoedown.

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

Roy Atkinson:    Focusing too much on what other people think. 

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

Roy Atkinson:    Leaders are people who make other leaders.

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

Roy Atkinson:    Wow! Seek to understand than to be understood, Stephen Covey.

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

Roy Atkinson:    My technology. It allows me to connect with so many people in so many ways. 

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

Roy Atkinson:    I would highly recommend Management by Peter Drucker.

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

Roy Atkinson:    I would take back a little bit better understanding of how to use a spreadsheet. Because at that point I was doing business it was a full-time job and I would’ve been better at it if I understood the financial side better.

Jim Rembach:    Roy 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?

Roy Atkinson:    Sure thing. You can find me on Twitter @RoyAtkinson or @yatkinson, you can also find me at @hdi_analyst, that’s the HDI side of my Twitter life. And you can e-mail me roy .atkinson@ubm.com.

Jim Rembach:    Roy Atkinson, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom theFast Leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over for 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]

 

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

Mike Wittenstein Show Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hump to Get Over

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

Advice for others

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

Holding him back from being an even better leader

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

Best Leadership Advice Received

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

Secret to Success

The ability to see patterns.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

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

Recommended Reading

Adaptive Enterprise

Contacting Mike

Website: http://storyminers.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mikewittenstein

Resources

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

 

Show Transcript: 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Mike Wittenstein:     Absolutely, happy hump day.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Jim Rembach:     Absolutely. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Jim Rembach:     Mike Wittenstein thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom, the Fast Leader legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. 

 

Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.

 

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