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Elise Keith | Where the Action Is

244: Elise Keith: Unveil your system for successful meetings

Elise Keith Show Notes Page

Elise Keith found herself leading teams that fell apart. As part of her efforts to improve she learned she needed to spend more time connecting in meetings instead of being impatient and direct. Now, she teaches others systems and practices to conduct more successful meetings.

Elise Keith was born in Eugene, OR. Despite moving over 15 times before the age of 20, she ended up settling in Portland just over 100 miles to the north. She’s the eldest of between 2 to 4 siblings, depending on how you count it all up, and happy that her family’s predilection for multiple marriages resulted in a generous extra helping of loving grandparents for her children.

Growing up, Elise did well in school but had an incredibly difficult time staying awake in any of her classes except for band, theatre, and gym. This inspired her to get a degree in the performing arts, after which she embarked on a post-collegiate quest to live out a real-life “Pancake House Waitress Turns Superstar!” fantasy.

When it became clear that the waitressing part of the story was going to last a bit too long for comfort, Elise swapped her acting dreams for another kind of fantasy world. She joined an internet startup.

There, she discovered plenty of real-life drama, intrigue, and opportunity every day, often in meetings.

Since then, she’s worked to understand what makes meetings work well and what happens when teams run consistently successful meetings.

Elise discovered that nearly every business expert, leadership coach, sales executive, marketer, and influencer has a cherished set of “meeting hacks” that power their success, and that when you look at these practices in the aggregate, clear patterns emerge.

She captured some of these insights in her book Where the Action Is: The Meetings that Make or Break Your Organization, and today she leads the team at Lucid Meetings as they work with organizations worldwide to help them implement a system of successful meetings that drives performance and brings teams joy.

Elise lives in Portland, OR with her husband, two of their five kids, and a curly-haired Lagotto puppy named Mabel.

Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @lucidmeetings to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShowClick to Tweet

“It’s almost like a Pavlovian conditioned response, you ring the meeting bell and people get upset.” – Click to Tweet

“That initial mindset creates a belief that meetings are a waste of time.” – Click to Tweet

“There are skills to be had and skills to master when it comes to meetings themselves.” – Click to Tweet

“There is an underlying structure to every effective meeting.” – Click to Tweet

“Effective meetings get everybody thinking about the same topic in the same way at the same time.” – Click to Tweet

“Work experience, as we all know, is just another synonym for culture.” – Click to Tweet

“Discipline is simply remembering what you actually want.” – Click to Tweet

“Meetings are not an individual performance event.” – Click to Tweet

“A detailed vision of where you’re trying to go makes getting there so much easier.” – Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Elise Keith found herself leading teams that fell apart. As part of her efforts to improve she learned she needed to spend more time connecting in meetings instead of being impatient and direct. Now, she teaches others systems and practices to conduct more successful meetings.

Advice for others

A detailed vision of where you’re trying to go makes getting there so much easier.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Impatience

Best Leadership Advice

Say “Thank You” more often.

Secret to Success

Remembering that mindset is a choice

Best tools in business or life

Zoom

Recommended Reading

Where the Action Is: The Meetings That Make or Break Your Organization

Liminal Thinking: Create the Change You Want by Changing the Way You Think

Contacting Elise Keith

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lucidmeetings

Website: https://www.lucidmeetings.com/

Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

An Even Better Place to Work

Show Transcript: 

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

244: Elise Keith: Unveil your system for successful meetings

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader podcast where we uncover the leadership life hacks that help you to experience, breakout performance faster and rocket to success and now here’s your host customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach. 

 

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

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader legion, today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show who is really going to help you to understand that something you thought you were good at you’re really not but then she’s also going to help you fix it.

 

Elise Keith was born in Eugene, Oregon. Despite moving over 15 times before the age of 20, she ended up settling in Portland just over 100 miles to the north. She’s the eldest between two to four siblings depending on how you count it all up and happy that her family’s pre-delection for multiple marriages resulted in a generous extra helping of loving grandparents for her children. Growing up Elise did well in school but had an incredibly difficult time staying awake in any of her classes except for band, theater and gym. This inspired her to get a degree in the performing arts after which she embarked on a post-collegiate quest to live out a real-life pancake house waitress turned superstar fantasy. 

 

When it became clear that the waitressing part of the story was going to last a bit too long for comfort, Elise swapped her acting dreams for another kind of fantasy world. She joined an Internet startup. There she discovered plenty of real-life drama, intrigue, and opportunity every day often in meetings since then she worked to understand what makes meetings work well and what happens when teams run consistently successful meetings. Elise discovered that nearly every business expert leadership, coach sales executive marketer, and influencer has a chair set of meeting hacks that power their success. That’s when you look at these practices in aggregate, you find a clear pattern emerging. She captured some of these insights in her book, Where the Action is: The Meetings That Make or Break Your Organization. Today she leads the team at lucid meetings as they work with organizations worldwide to help them implement a system of successful meetings that drives performance and brings teens joy. Elise lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, two of their five kids, and a curly-haired Lagotto puppy named Mabel. Elise Keith are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Elise Keith:    Let’s do it. 

 

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

 

Elise Keith:    So my current passion is unveiling that underlying system for successful meetings. It’s this ability that they have in the best of the best teams to know when they’re going to talk, what they’re going to talk about, and do it in a way that brings out the strength and the joy for everybody involved.

 

Jim Rembach: Now you say that with such grace and simplicity that hides all the complexity underneath. One of the things that you’re talking about very early on the book is this Doom loop which was not reflective in what you said your passion was. So you need to tell us what the Doom loop is.

 

Elise Keith: So oftentimes when people find out that I am a meeting expert, they will immediately say to me, oh, my gosh, you should see our meetings. I’m in meetings back-to-back. Oh! What a terrible waste of time… they have this really ugly reaction and it’s almost like sort of a Pavlovian conditioned response and you bring the meeting bell and people get upset. That belief center, that when you start to talk about this topic, you’re talking about something that’s frustrating and negative and a drain on your time and your will to live, gets in people’s way of understanding and taking action that they can take to really uncover what a wonderful opportunity we have in our meetings. So when you get in and you dig a little bit deeper, tell me about a meeting you had, talk to me about what it was like to be interviewed, talk to me about what it was like when you had a chance to sit in the room where they made that big decision and you can see people light up there’s joy there there’s connection there. So the Doom loop, and what we talked about in the whole first part of the book is how that initial mindset creates

this belief that meetings are a waste of time which oftentimes leads people to fail to prepare for them, fail to take them seriously, thereby leading many, many ineffective meetings that are a waste of time and then reinforcing that loop, they’re stuck in their own perpetual cycle. When you can break that, when you can see what’s actually happening and what that opportunity looks like, then you’re in a place to make great change.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay as you’re talking I started thinking of taxes. Taxes, it’s like misery. However unlike taxes there is hope that there is an opportunity to actually have that better outcome like you’re talking about. You talk about mastering two different things. One is you talk about mastering in meetings and then mastering the meetings at work. So if you could start with what do you mean by mastering in meetings 

 

Elise Keith: So, if you go out and you read like “Hey how do I run better meetings?” on the Internet, you’re going to find a million articles and they all have three to five tips about coming prepared and understanding what the purpose is and keeping people on task and all of that. That’s not wrong. So there are skills to be had and skills to master when it comes to running meetings themselves, any given meeting there are some basics and that’s what mastering the work in meetings is about. So one of those core skills that apply across the board, how do you learn them? How do you apply them?

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay. So you talked about, in that chapter it’s broken down it says “The core competencies, the function reading structure, helping up perceived meeting quality, the spectrum of meeting engagement, designing for a net positive impact, and then the game changers. So if you could kind of walk us through when you, cause for me it’s like when you start saying mastering in it’s not a clear picture. So walking through that a little bit will help.

 

Elise Keith: So essentially when you zoom back from it a little bit there is an underlying structure to every effective meeting and that structure is designed to help a group of people who are coming in as individuals. Duh, we’re all human. Walking in to this room from whatever it is we’ve been doing before. And we all have our own things in our own cares and our own worries, into a room where we’re meant to be thinking together about whatever the topic it is in the same way at the same time. So let’s take a really simple example, you call a meeting because an emergency has come up and you need to know what to do. You get five people in that room. You say, hey, Jim there’s an emergency, what are we going to do? And your initial reaction might be, well, we definitely need to call these people and rally the troops and whatnot. My reaction might be, “Well, what is the emergency? Let’s understand it better.” Fred’s reaction might be “You know what I don’t even think there’s an emergency, you guys are a bunch of

Ninnies.” We’re talking about the same topic but we’re not thinking about it in the same way. So effective meetings get everybody thinking about the topic in the same way at the same time so that they can actually build on shared understanding together. That’s what all of those skills are about.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well even as you’re saying that, I start thinking about the whole human dynamic and getting in the whole cognitive sciences and unconscious biases and all the baggage that we have from that, like you say, in that previous meeting component and what my reaction “Oh gosh! Not another emergency.” All of these factors, I start thinking of the difficulties and being able to just start appropriately, start correctly, so that you have that desired outcome. So when I start thinking about the skills and the competencies, and so one of the things I also think is important is a lot of times is we have to clarify is that you have competencies and then skills are derived from those competencies.

 

Elise Keith: Right.

 

Jim Rembach:    So when I start looking at the competencies, what’s one of the critical ones that you often find people need to develop?

 

Elise Keith: Clarity of purpose. How do you have a very, very clear understanding of why you’re getting people into the room and what that conversation is meant to achieve. That’s absolutely the starting competency period, it’s actually much more difficult than we think it is because our innate sort of human interaction style which we learned in school and in our families is “Hey show up and we’ll talk and we’ll see what happens.” Which is completely ineffective in a business meeting perspective.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well as you say that, one of the things that I like to follow up with after that is intent. So, clarity of purpose and then you run into talk about the intent.

 

Elise Keith: Yeah. That’s exactly it. So here’s why we’re getting together, that’s purpose is why it’s verb and then intent or outcomes. Literally what are we creating? Because meetings are an investment of your business resources. We all know that and that’s part of what gets used to argue to cancel them or make them shorter. It’s like we’re spending time and money here but they’re also a powerful tool for creating tangible outcomes. There’s nobody in a customer situation which says “You know what, every meeting I have with a customer, I want to keep it short as possible. That’s my key value I’m going to get out of that relationship.” It’s like you’re going to get contract signs, you’re going to create trust you’re going to get goodwill, that’s what your key relationships are. So having clarity of that intent helps which skills to bring to bare and how to design that conversation.

 

Jim Rembach:    I think that’s a beautiful starting point. Then we start getting into the whole mastering the meetings at work. So what is the difference?

 

Elise Keith: So oftentimes when we look at “How do you get better at meetings?” We do in fact stop right where we just took it. There are some core skills you need to have. You need to understand that. It’s a good use of time and run a good meeting. Well who here has a business where there’s only one meeting? Okay, that’s not our case. We have lots and lots and lots of meetings and oftentimes when people come to me they say “Elyse, We really need you to come in and work with our organization. We absolutely need your help. We’re in terrible meetings all the time.” and I say “Okay, great. Let’s schedule something for next month.” And they said “Oh no, no, no, we can’t do that. We’re in back-to-back meetings, we have no time to think.” So right there you know that there is no way they have time. So sit back and go “How do I make each and every one of these back to back to back to back meetings an effective use of everybody’s time?” It doesn’t exist. The organizations that have broken that cycle have done so by having designed upfront, how each of those meetings needs to run in a way that is transferable, It’s easy for everybody to pick up, they learn by doing, and they end up with this underlying system of expectations and support and training and models that break that cycle.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well as you’re saying that too, I start thinking about what I often see as something that

Occurs. If you are more effective and you have these frameworks is that the reality is, is that your need for meetings goes down dramatically.

 

Elise Keith: Dramatically. Yeah. It’s fun when you put in a system that takes and organizes the conversations into clear different distinct conversations. So we know we’re doing strategy here. We know if a problem comes up we’ll deal with it there and then. You do the math and you can see that both performance goes up, engagement goes up, and the time spent in meetings goes down dramatically. So it’s a quadruple bonus win for everybody.

 

Jim Rembach:    Most definitely. I think also that gets back into where we initially started to close the loop is that you know people don’t have that doom feeling again. It’s like they feel like this burden has been lifted and that’s so much more is getting accomplished and that they will actually come to those meetings and you don’t have a lot of unconscious and also conscious biases that actually you have to now get over.

 

Elise Keith: Yeah it’s actually one of my favorite. We have a process we call red velvet roping. Where we decide who we’re going to work with and who who’s not really ready to work with us from an organization perspective and my favorite litmus test question is to ask an employee “Tell me about your meetings” because if you want to get at what their work experience is like and work experience as we all know is just another synonym for culture of their organization. That question is entirely revealing and then there are some organizations where they will say “Oh yes what the rumors are true. We do do that and I love it.” or they’ll say things like “Well, rich ones. Because my meetings like this are we run them this way and I know this process.” They’ll get very specific in detail. The most common answer is “Meetings, I hate them. What a waste of time.”

 

Jim Rembach:    Well I think there’s a couple of words that you’re hinting on here and we’re going to get on just a second, is that you talk about types of meetings and when I started actually looking at the book and what are your parts in the book is just part four it talks about sixteen types of meetings that work and I’m like sixteen of them and as I started reading through I’m like oh I never really considered some of these meetings. So we have informal, we have formal, we have things that are like you say unplanned, we have all kinds of different meetings. I just want to run through this list of sixteen real quick so that people can get proper context and then we’ll come back and talk about two of the biggest opportunities that you often see as far as the meetings are concerned. 

 

So you talk about the Cadence meeting, Team Cadence, progress check, one-on-ones, action reviews, governance cadence, the catalyst meetings, idea generation, planning, problem solving, decision making, workshops, the learn and influence meetings, sense making, introductions,  issue resolutions, community of practice, training and broadcast. So that’s a pretty extensive list and we’re not going to go into all these that’s what you get the book for or at least one. If you’re talking about those two big opportunities where do they exist?

 

Elise Keith: So the two big opportunities is, there are two places where they exist. One is right up front there in the skills portion where you do some basic agreements within your company about what kind of foundational expectations you should have for your meetings. As a team what is our working team agreement around meetings so that we can have a framework where we can begin to develop competencies, expectations, respect. It’s really all about respect. So this is how we’re going to use our time together. With that in place what you find is that teams then start to open the door to getting to the next big opportunity and that’s understanding those different kinds of meetings and how to put them together into systems or processes that achieve business goals. 

 

So let me give you an example of what one of those systems looks like. In my company we run service projects and software projects and often some of those involve sort of a long term pilot. We’ll do like a four month pilot to onboard a new client. As that pilot progresses, my team knows which meetings they will run at each stage of the process to make sure they get the clients to the outcomes that they’ve bought from us. So they know when they’re going to do a kickoff. They know how the decisions will be made. They know what the larger vision is. They know how they’re going to address all of the things that will inevitably come up because something always goes a line in any event and they know exactly how to run each one of those

conversations in advance. So when my team pulls on a client like that they are calm, they’re confident, and they’re prepared. They don’t have all the answers, they don’t know how it’s going to run but they’ve got a system that’s going to make all of those conversations run smoothly. It’s a huge enabler, it’s a huge enabler and those kinds of systems are available for every team trying to achieve a business goal.

 

Jim Rembach:    We kind of started at this talking about the human element, started talking about the differentiation between folks and all these different dynamics and so when I start thinking about getting every single person on the same page through all this. You talked about some of the organizational agreements this any other ultimately what you work up into the book is called so it’s something called a communication of architecture. So there’s two things. If you can kind of explain what that means and then also how you get that individual commitment because I’m always thinking about that person that does one or two things, maybe always takes us off paths like “No, no, o reel back it up pull them back in” or that person who just like really doesn’t contribute. So if you could kind of tell us a little bit about the architecture and then addressing those types of characters.

 

Elise Keith: So the architecture really is, it’s a combination of three elements. It’s those performance criteria. So the shared agreements about how we as a team and we as a company are going to meet. It’s the specific meetings we’re going to run. So how we do our check-ins, how we do our kickoffs, all of that kind of thing. Then it’s the support, so how do we make sure that we have the training and the infrastructure and the buckets of sticky notes. Whatever it is that we need to make that go. So that’s like a communication architecture is the intentional design of how your teams are going to collaborate to achieve your goals.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well I would dare to say that even when you start thinking about that, if I’m going to put that in place for an organization maybe I even want to start now to include that in my whole candidate review process and interview process and on the process and start making it part of your DNA.

 

Elise Keith: Absolutely, absolutely. In fact when we work with clients who are making that transition, we’ve actually recorded five levels of performance maturity in terms of how robust those systems can become and there is no reason for most organizations to go to the extremes. You can be entirely effective at different levels with different kinds of groups but as you grow in scale you do need to put more of that in place to avoid basically what we call the metastasizing meetings. The meeting cancer problem. A lot may eat your calendar. So, yes absolutely. Starting with sort of the key processes.

 

Now there’s a fascinating bit of research being done by ADP and Cisco. Where they were looking not at the problem of meetings but they were looking at the problem of employee engagements and team performance. So here’s an example of how they started to implement that system. They were like, they found that all the work happens in teams, some teams perform better than others and they wanted to look in practice what’s going on in the teams that perform better than others and what they found was that in practice those teams had more occurrences of positive energy exchange. So positive attention going between people. They put in a check-in process at a Cisco. They put in a check-in process that they were able to track with technology because they’re a big tech firm and they found that in the teams where the employee checked in with the manager and the manager gave back that attention, engagement went up, but they found, getting to your earlier question about the human dynamics that not everybody did it. Some employees didn’t check in, some managers didn’t reply. So they got much, more clear, much more explicit about that expectation and started to make meeting performance part of job performance. How the percentages of check-ins that the manager replies to directly became a part of how they were measured. They started replying more. What gets measured gets managed.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well and also it’s what you expect you must inspect.

 

Elise Keith: Absolutely, absolutely. And, engagement scores went up, performance got went up. There was a direct correlation between, “No we are in fact going to talk to each other positively about things we mutually care about regularly” and we perform better. 

 

Jim Rembach:    So Elise, I dare to say that when I started looking at all this work that you’re doing and the absolute sheer demand for it that you have a lot of things that you’re attempting to focus in on and I want to get to those in a second. Before we get that talking about the frustration element, talking about getting on the other side, a lot of times we have to just stay focused and persevere through all of this because we’re talking about transformation. Transforming the way that we’re actually interacting or working with one another and a lot of times we focus on quotes on our show to do that. Is there a quote or two that you like that you can share?

 

Elise Keith: One of my favorite quotes is “Discipline is simply remembering what you actually want, what you really want.” I think that’s key for those transformational moments. How do I put in the processes that help me remember? How do I make it simple for me to remember what I really want and stick to it?

 

Jim Rembach:    Going back to what you had talked about before, being able to set that expectation, being able to talk about the visioning, doing all of those things, that is a great quote for that. 

 

Elise Keith: I think one thing that’s really important to add to that while we’re talking about it and with the expectation setting, oftentimes as leaders that feels so burdensome. I have to tackle and take on these behaviors like the opting out or the interrupting or all of these things but if you step back and you look at it and you realize meetings are not an individual performance event. We never meet alone. Meetings are things that teams do. So simply saying these things out loud, inviting your team to participate with you in the monitoring of time and all of those things is actually a much faster way to transformation and it means you don’t have to do that by yourself.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well it’s kind of interesting to me because even looking at your bio and talking about where you came from and where you are now, really what you’ve been really engaged in are things that require you to practice and prepare before you have a performance. That’s what you’re talking about doing from a meeting perspective. You need to do all of those things in order for you and everybody to perform in meetings.

 

Elise Keith: You do but I think another great parallel to that is that if you’ve ever went to a parade and watch the military band go by, they’ve played Stars and Stripes forever, nine hundred million times. They don’t need to do a lot more rehearsal to make that exquisite. The guy on his hundredth run of cats is not like studying his lines real hard the day before. That’s why having a System, having some sense of how it’s meant to go and then practicing up into that makes that in a powerful enabler for the organizations that have those systems because then they can bring people in. The third cat and cats leaves, the new guy who comes in can see exactly how that runs they learn by doing. That’s the same is true in these high performance organizations. You go to the Navy SEALs and you go to an action review and this your first time in an action review, all those other seals have been through that thing a couple times. They know how it runs, they’re going to get you on it.

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a great point. Well I would dare to say also too when you start talking about being able to come to the position that you are today and going through all these learnings and and all that as well as working with these organizations that there’s a lot of humps that you have to get over. So as far as your concern, do you have a time where you’ve gotten over the hump that you can share?

 

Elise Keith: So well I think actually a great example of transformation for me there is in how I start meetings. So I used to be, I’m very impatient, I’m very direct, and I used to be the kind of person who would walk in and say “Okay, this is on the agenda. Here’s what we’re going to do. Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.” I found myself leading teams that would fall apart. The more I got into this work I went and visited with a coach and started learning about how to run agile meetings and I was sort of shocked and aghast to find that they all started with icebreakers. I’m like what is going on, aren’t these professionals? Why are we talking about our favorite kind of breakfast? But what I saw in practice is that the teams who took that moment to connect personally we’re able to then clear their extra baggage, come into the room and have the conversation. So learning that skill was an incredibly hard skill for me to learn because I wanted to be very professional and serious and get the things done but it has made an enormous difference in not only how we practice and share what we do with others but also how we succeed as a company ourselves.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well I would dare to say what you just talked about right there is actually a common thing that you probably run into because of many factors. One being you’re sharing where you were coming from, from a positioning perspective also another factor meaning “Hey, I’ve got five more behind this one, let’s go.” 

 

Elise Keith: Yeah.

 

Jim Rembach:    So how common is that particular issue, an opportunity present with the clients that you’re working with?

 

Elise Keith: You know I find it and I don’t know if this is transitioning but I find it to be incredibly common in the places where they have no good process. The meeting to meeting to meeting thing and they’re all stressed and rushed. I also find it to be more common when I meet with women leaders and I recognize this in myself as well. So I as a female employee, I came into an internet startup as one of the only female employees on the tech side and we were working so hard to be taken seriously professionally that often some of these softer skills which are now being called power skills correctly weren’t welcomed or we believe they weren’t welcomed. Getting to the place where you can unlearn that bad lesson take some courage and some time and some commitment to the larger result. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I would dare to say that what we think is what we should be doing, oftentimes is not going to help him benefit us and you’re exactly right. When I start thinking about this work, start thinking about the book, I started thinking about the opportunity, I started looking at a whole slew of opportunity even for those of you who are having the opportunity to watch this particular podcast versus listen to it. Elise has tons of masks on her back wall that are full of colors so I know there’s a lot of things that you had that feel your passion including we talked about your brand new puppy. When I start looking at goals, what would be one of your goals?

 

Elise Keith: One of my goals, vision wise, big vision wise we would love to see this whole conversation change and to have the recognition of meeting systems become a more common thing working its way into teams. On a personal goal level I would love to help create a center where people could come and experience and experiment with some of these practices. A meeting lab basically. A meeting invasion Center, wouldn’t that be exciting.

 

Jim Rembach:    Most definitely, and the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best.

 

Elise Keith: Thank you.

 

Jim Rembach:    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 solution is guaranteed to create motivated productive and loyal employees who have great work relationships with their colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work visit beyondmorale.com/better. 

 

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

 

Elise Keith: Let’s do it.

 

Jim Rembach:    All right. So what is holding you back from being an even better leader today?

 

Elise Keith: Impatience.

 

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

 

Elise Keith: Say thank you more often.

 

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

 

Elise Keith: Zoom.

 

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

 

Jim Rembach:    Every other morning, remembering that mindsets a choice.

 

Jim Rembach:    And what would be one book that you’d recommend to our legion. It could be from any genre. Of course we’re going to put a link to where the action is on your show notes page as well.

 

Elise Keith: Liminal thinking by Dave Gray.

 

Jim Rembach:    Liminal thinking. Okay Fast Leader legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going too fastleader.net/elisekeith. Okay Elise this is my last hump day hoedown question. Imagine you were given the opportunity go back to the age of 25 and you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take it all you can only choose one. So what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

Elise Keith: Vivid visioning. That’s what I’d take because the ability to create a detailed vision of where you’re trying to go makes getting there so much easier.

 

Jim Rembach:    Elise I had fun with you today but can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you.

 

Elise Keith: They can find me on our company website, which is at lucidmeetings.com 

 

Jim Rembach:    Elise Keith thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom and 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 the download and subscribe if you haven’t already head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.

 

END OF AUDIO 

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Chris Griffiths | The Creative Thinking Handbook

243: Chris Griffiths: Knowledge is no longer power

Chris Griffiths Show Notes Page

Chris Griffiths sold his company at the age of 26 and thought that he had the knowledge to turn anything into gold. After losing his home and several cars he learned that it’s not knowledge that creates success, but instead it’s the ability to improve your creative thinking skills.

Chris was born in Cleveland OH, and spent the earliest part of his childhood in Birmingham AL. An only child, Chris was adopted by British parents who he moved with to Wales, UK as a kid.

Chris’ parents were explorers and they moved from America to Wales to seek opportunity; they had successful careers with their own businesses.
Showing a natural flair for entrepreneurship at a young age – Chris setup his first shop selling homemade lead figures during school. But ultimately, Chris was not pleased with his negotiating skills with the school taking a 25% cut of his revenue. And that’s not all Chris achieved during his school days, either, at just 16 he sold his first software game – but then failed his computer science A-level exams at the age of 18.

Not to be deterred, Chris setup his first company which he sold at the age of 26. Falling trap to the hubris which so often accompanies early success, he then lost his next company – along with his house and five sports cars!

But, showing the resilience now integral to his own creative message, Chris continued to innovate and had soon built one of the fastest growing tech companies in Europe, which went on to become a PLC.

Despite significant success with this company, Chris ultimately walked away after disagreement with the board who were not open to new, innovative ideas.

After leaving, Chris was determined to bring his vision of tech and creativity to fruition; alas, he setup OpenGenius. Here, he established a highly-commended creativity training network, as well as spending several years developing Mind Mapping and Task Management software which has been used by teams and individuals from Nasa, Disney, McDonalds and Nike – to name a few.

Chris is also the author of The Creative Thinking Handbook: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Problem Solving in Business. This book enables you to develop your creative problem-solving skills to make better decisions with an individualized step-by-step strategy. Based on long-term research and testing of the creative thinking process, it will help you to generate more ideas and find brilliant solutions for any professional challenge.

Chris proudly lives and works in Wales and is married to wife Gaile – with whom he has two amazing children.

Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @GriffithsThinks to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShowClick to Tweet

“Technology is impacting on how people think and their ability to create. And it’s not always good.” – Click to Tweet

“The focus in business today seems to be all about speed. But that’s the completely wrong way to look at things.” – Click to Tweet

“You need to be able to spend more time thinking rather than just doing.” – Click to Tweet

“Knowledge used to be power, it’s no longer power. Information is cheap.” – Click to Tweet

“The real power is in the creation of new knowledge.” – Click to Tweet

“We lose the ability to be creative for a whole load of reasons.” – Click to Tweet

“The decision radar allows you to ascertain how you make decisions.” – Click to Tweet

“Human beings are decision making machines.” – Click to Tweet

“When you’re making decisions in business, 99.99% you don’t have to make an instant call. However, most people operate under that mindset.” – Click to Tweet

“You can’t be a leader if you’re always reactive.” – Click to Tweet

“A good leader knows that they have to give themselves good thinking time.” – Click to Tweet

“Sometimes it’s not knowing what to do that makes the difference, it’s knowing what not to do.” – Click to Tweet

“Innovation isn’t an event, it’s a process.” – Click to Tweet

“Unless you solve the right problem, you’re not going to get anywhere.” – Click to Tweet

“Companies come up with a lot of great ideas, they just don’t know how to pick the right ones?” – Click to Tweet

“You can’t be as creative as you might want to be unless you start with the right mindset.” – Click to Tweet

“The difference between a leader and a follower is innovation.” – Click to Tweet

“Any company that wants to survive is going to need creative leadership.” – Click to Tweet

“If you have fear in the creative process it’s never going to work.” – Click to Tweet

“Success and failure are not opposites, they are part of the same process.” – Click to Tweet

“To be innovative you have to constantly change into something new.” – Click to Tweet

“To be a good leader you have to be a good coach.” – Click to Tweet

“When you lose your ability to use your imagination you just destroy your creativity.” – Click to Tweet

[optin-cat id=11101]

Hump to Get Over

Chris Griffiths sold his company at the age of 26 and thought that he had the knowledge to turn anything into gold. After losing his home and several cars he learned that it’s not knowledge that creates success, but instead it’s the ability to improve your creative thinking skills.

Advice for others

Enjoy more of the good times and stop sweating about the bad times.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

I’m not spending enough time on the things a leader should.

Best Leadership Advice

Don’t worry about problems because they are a sign you are pushing the boundaries.

Secret to Success

My ability to use focused daydreaming in order to create and come up with ideas.

Best tools in business or life

Using Aoya to build better and stronger ideas.

Recommended Reading

The Creative Thinking Handbook: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Problem Solving in Business

The Little Prince

Contacting Chris Griffiths

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-griffiths-5897a498/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GriffithsThinks

Resources and Show Mentions

Ayoa – Mind Mapping

Creative Thinking at NASA

Dr. KH Kim and the Creativity Crisis

Call Center Coach

An Even Better Place to Work

Show Transcript: 

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

243: Chris Griffiths: Knowledge is no longer power

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader podcast where we uncover the leadership life hacks that help you to experience, breakout performance faster and rocket to success and now here’s your host customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach. 

 

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

 

Okay, Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who’s really going to put some tactical ways, applications and really outcomes for us to be able to do what we need to do today from a competitive landscape perspective. Chris Griffiths was born in Cleveland, Ohio and spent the earliest part of his childhood in Birmingham, Alabama. An only child, Chris was adopted by British parents who he moved with to Wales, UK as a kid. Chris’s parents were explorers and they moved from America to Wales to seek opportunity they had successful careers with their own businesses. Showing a natural flair for entrepreneurship at a young age Chris set up his first shop selling homemade led figures during school. But ultimately, Chris was not pleased with his negotiating skills with the school taking a 25% cut of his revenue. And that’s not all Chris achieved during his school days either, at 16 he sold his first software game but then failed his computer science, A level exams at the age 18. Not to be deterred Chris set up his first company which he sold at the age of 26. Failing trapped to the hubris which so often accompanies early successes then he lost his next company along with his house and five sports cars. But showing the resilience now integral to his own creative message Chris continued to innovate and have soon built one of the fastest growing tech companies in Europe which went on to become a TLC. 

 

Despite significant success with his company Chris ultimately walked away after a disagreement with the board who are not open to new innovative ideas. After leading Chris was determined to bring his vision of tech and creativity to fruition, alas, he set up Open Genius. Here he established a highly commended creativity training network as well as spending several years developing mind mapping and task management software which has been used by teams and individuals from NASA, Disney, McDonald’s and Nike just to name a few. Chris is also the author of—The Creative Thinking Handbook: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Problem-Solving in Business, this book enables you to develop your creative problem-solving skills to make better decisions with an individualized step-by-step strategy. 

 

Based on long-term research and testing of the creative thinking process it will help you to generate more ideas and find brilliant solutions for any professional challenge. Chris proudly lives and works in Wales and is married to his wife Gayle with whom he has two amazing children. Chris Griffiths, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Chris Griffiths:   Absolutely, looking forward to…

 

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

 

Chris Griffiths:   I would say my current passion is trying to merge technology with the science that goes behind good thinking skills and creativity. Technology is actually impacting on how people think and their ability to create and it’s not always good and that’s a shame. My passion has always been understanding modern brain based learning theory. Understanding what makes people think in a certain way. But I’ve also loved technology so to be able to combine those two things together and develop technology that helps you think more strategically and objectively is really what we’re all about at this moment in time. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Well, this particular dilemma that you solve for is becoming so significantly important to the marketplace and differentiation. When I start looking at the maturation process of how we’ve gone about to become more efficient and more effective it actually has been detrimental to what you’re talking about.  So we’ve stripped out a lot of the ability for us to creatively think. We also don’t understand the process like you’re talking about. We’re also not spending and investing the time and effort to be able to do it because we’re just too busy just doing things.

 

Chris Griffiths:   You’re 100 % right there. You see the focus within business today seems to be all about speed it’s about getting things done quickly. But that’s the completely wrong way to look at things because—let’s use technology as an example, if you use task management software and task management software helps you get things done quickly have you considered what if you’re doing the wrong thing? So you need to be able to spend more time thinking rather than just doing well.

 

Jim Rembach:    And one of the things that you have mentioned in the book to me is—we’ve always heard, I think it’s one of those things that’s just so socially shared we think it’s galvanized. In fact, you throw a whole issue with it and it’s really that knowledge is power but it’s not power, you say it’s not power, why is knowledge not power?

 

Chris Griffiths:   Yeah, this is so important. It used to be knowledge used to be power but it’s no longer power in information is cheap we can find out what we need to know when, we need to know, because of the Internet we all have access to the same information. That’s dangerous because it’s resulting in sameness people are coming up with the same ideas. Maybe they do it in a different way but it’s just the same thing. You see where the real power lies now is not even in the use of knowledge the real power is in the creation of new knowledge. And this is what we’re all about this is why Melina Costi and I wrote the Creative Thinking Handbook and why we’re developing AO at the technology app to make sure that people know and have tools in terms of how to think more objectively.

 

Jim Rembach:    And what we’ll do is we will put a link to that on your show notes page and we’ll get to that in a second. I think it’s critically important to really talk about that new thinking and it kind of flush that out. We’re not talking about with things that have just never been created before. In fact, when you start looking at innovation and the creative process it’s about taking elements and components and variables and then putting them into your environment and that’s when we start getting into that whole divergent and convergent thinking process. You even cite in your book a video that I’d done about Dr. George Lan’s work at NASA, how we essentially get stripped of that ability and skill to be creative in our thinking. By the time we get to the workplace we’re just doing stuff.

 

Chris Griffiths:   Yeah, you’re right. And it really upsets me because quite often you’ll hear people say—I’m not the creative type—but they’re saying that more as an excuse because of any genetic failing. There’s no such thing as a creative type. Have you ever seen a five-year-old that’s not creative? The fact is that we lose the ability to be creative for a whole load of reason. So what we do at Open Genius is help people get that creativity. We take that further because creativity is only part of innovation of course so it’s pulling it all together into systems and processes that give people a really good chance of making the right decisions.

 

Jim Rembach:    And I think that’s the important part is we’re not talking about freeform, chasing smoke scenario we’re talking about having structures and having  methods and roadmaps and all that. One of the important things that you talk about is decision radar. Tell us a little about what the decision radar.

 

Chris Griffiths:   Well, it was something that we wanted to do in our own research, in our own studies, but it’s actually become a great motivator for people. The decision radar is an instrument that allows you to do a test with 40 questions and those questions will ascertain how you make decisions. Now making decisions is made up of lots of different areas. It’s your ability to evaluate. It’s your ability to innovate. It’s your ability to overcome fear. It’s your ability to direct other people and bring them along on the journey. There’s so many things that make up good decision-making. And what the radar allows you to do is test yourself to see where your strengths and weaknesses are. So it gives you a starting point to see what you need to do next to give yourself a good chance of success.  

 

And I say success because if you were to look at this at the simplest level human beings are decision-making machines. We wake up in the morning and we start making decisions, some are big some are small. If we give ourselves the best percentage chance of making the right decision on the bigger ones then all of those combined is going to help us be become a success.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well, one of the things that I think’s important is I was looking through the decision radar and then getting into the whole thinking errors, and we’ll talk about that in a second, is that lot of research has been given to as well as a lot of people talked about this whole reptilian brain and the fact is that we decide based on emotion first and then we start looking at the whole rational side. So how does the decision radar actually accommodate for the whole fear-based, quite like freeze, appease—how does it accommodate problem? 

 

Chris Griffiths:   Yeah, that’s a really good question. When you’re making decisions in business, yes, there are going to be times where you need to make an instant call but 99.9% of the time you will not need to do that. However, most people operate under that mindset. They get their emails they want to clear their inbox they make decisions that could be quite large and they’re making them based on instinct and emotion. The great thing with the decision radar is it gives you a overall view of all of the different skills that you need to encompass in your decision making to have the best chance of making the right decision. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Well, and I think as you were saying that I also started thinking about the types of decisions that we must make. Some of those are quick in nature as such being able to build our skills to know that, oh, this is not something that should not take a quick response. We need to step back go through the matrix.

 

Chris Griffiths:   It’s really difficult because  if I look at which mode of thinking people spend most of their time when they’re in work it’s a reactive mode of thinking, which means they’re allowing external influences whether it’s colleagues, whether it’s emails, whether it’s social media, dictate what they do and what actions they take. Now a good leader knows that you can’t be reactive in fact you can’t be a leader if you’re always reactive because you naturally become a follower to external things. A good leader knows that they have to give themselves thinking time. And it’s really difficult. Henry Ford said, there’s nothing more difficult than thinking, the reason he said that is because people just don’t do it.

 

Jim Rembach:    I think that also is an important point when you start talking about dissecting what it is that the most highest achievers do who people who are the top influencers of the world, the wealthiest of the world every single one of them. If you look at it across the board dedicate time to the thinking process.

 

Chris Griffiths:   Yes, absolutely. You can go all the way back to the great inventors and they would have a scheduled time out for what they would call thought experiments. It’s just giving your brain time to connect the dots and do so in a way that they’ve never been connected before. That’s where you come up with a personal, original, thoughts. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, so that kind of leads into the whole thinking errors issue. Get us understanding what you mean by thinking errors.

 

Chris Griffiths:   A lot of people talk about thinking outside of the box. It’s very easy to say it but what does that mean? What is the box? It’s probably the starting point. And that’s what we do at Open Genius we try and make people aware what the box is and help them to remove it. So, the box is all of your experiences, it’s your fears, it’s your beliefs, it’s your assumptions, it’s a combination of who you are. Now if you can remove those, which are essentially thinking errors, so their cognitive biases that might stop you doing things if you can remove them you instantly become more creative. It’s fascinating because sometimes it’s not knowing what to do that makes the difference it’s knowing what not to do. Now with creativity because we know study after study with the exception of a study that we did with 5,000 people shows that creativity diminishes with age. The study that we did show that you actually see a slight increase in creativity when people get towards their 40s and mid-40s. We don’t know why we can assume it’s because they have more time to think and be free perhaps they’re more financially secure. But what essentially you need to do is change that situation around the way you’ve lost your creativity through your sort of educational life you need to unlearn all of the bad habits the thinking errors that actually stop you from being creative today.

 

Jim Rembach:    You can argue that if you were to maybe bump up some of those statistics associated with when people kind of hit the ceiling so that happens about at that same timeframe. What I mean by ceiling is that it’s your technical skills will enable you to advance to a certain level but then you have to actually flip and you have to become somebody who is actually skilled at the whole people leading component. If you hit that glass ceiling and you’re not going anywhere and you’re trying to figure out why you’re going to have to be more creative. 

 

Chris Griffiths:   Absolutely, that’s a good point.

 

Jim Rembach:    So we talked about the thinking errors but then that actually gets it to the point where we need to have some solutions and you have a solution finder steps. Tell us a little bit about them.

 

Chris Griffiths:   We always knew that innovation wasn’t an event it’s a process. Everyone talks about creativity and innovation but people don’t really know what it means. How do I do it? Is it just sticking post-it notes up in a boardroom or having colorful beanbags around the office? Actually it’s a process. If you can go through in a systematic way you’re going to give yourself such a better chance of being more creative and coming up with better solutions. It’s very simple. Most things that are good are—it’s a common sense approach which is no longer common. But essentially the solution finder breaks a problem into a few areas so the first area. The first area would be the stage that no one does. The stage that everyone misses when they’re trying to come up with a solution to their challenge would be defining what the challenge really is. Einstein said if he has sixty minutes to save the planet he’d spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes solving the issue. And that is true because you see unless you solve the right problem you’re not going to get anywhere. Most people just solve the obvious problems and not the ones that really make the biggest difference or they’re the ones that are easiest to solve. 

 

Stage one in the solution finder is to go through a series of techniques and tools. The very simple where you actually look at your problem in lots of different ways, you reframe it and you analyze it from different angles you use different tools so that you can just see, is this the right thing to be spending all our time and energy or is there something deeper? 

 

The next stage is the point where you have to come up with your ideas. Everyone thinks that’s easy. It’s not because I can tell you that most organizations that I’ve worked with and coached, and I’ve coached Nobel Laureates, royal families, European courts and parliaments, I’ve coached CEOs, I can tell you now they don’t know how to brainstorm. People think brainstorming is getting a group of people in a room and coming up with ideas that’s actually the next stage which is the evaluation stage. There are certain things that you can do to give yourself and your team the best chance of coming up with great ideas so that would be the next stage we help people do that. 

 

The next stage would be the more analytical and evaluative stage. There are companies that can come up with lots of ideas but don’t know how to pick the right ones and so again we use tools that do that, and these are basic tools they’re just canvases. With the book you can download the canvases and you can just actually write in the canvases or just put post-it notes in them, don’t think this is complex. I guess the final part is really important and it is often overlooked is that if you want to take an idea from inception to action you’ve got to understand how to do that. So it’s all about the direction that you take in making an idea happen and that is very, very important. Now, you can jump in and out of any of those stages at any time but I would say by far the most important one and if I only have a short time to spend with somebody I won’t even spend the time thinking up ideas with them I’ll just define what their challenge really is. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Well, as you started talking about—having the canvas having the access to the system the frameworks understanding the roadmap and the process that’s all great but one of the things that you talk about in the book is really committing to thinking differently. And so what do you really mean by that?

 

Chris Griffiths:   Well, you can’t be as creative as you might want to be unless you start with the right mindset you have to start with the—everything is possible mindset. That’s very, very difficult for people because they put their assumptions and beliefs into the mix way too soon. This is why we have tools and processes that make sure that doesn’t happen. I’ll give you an example, if I was to look at a normal brainstorming session when people are putting ideas out there it always follows a normal progression. The first stage would be people would come up with lots of sensible ideas. These are ideas that they feel comfortable with they don’t seem stupid they know they can make them happen but these are the obvious ideas these are the ideas everyone comes up with. And then all of a sudden the ideas will start getting a little bit strange and people will slow down because they think—I’m going to look a fool if I say what this idea is and they stop they just stop. Well, they’ve actually missed the two most important phases of ideation which the second stage is to actually push through to the completely weird and wacky ideas, literally anything goes. The reason being is the third stage is where you find new and novel ways to follow because what you do is you combine the weird and whacky ideas with the obvious ideas from stage one. And I can guarantee you you’ll always be able to find a way to connect those dots together. It doesn’t matter how wacky the idea is when you say how could we link it with this sensible idea you will always find a route to do it. And that’s where you end up with true creativity.

 

Jim Rembach:    You and I had the opportunity to talk about customer experience and impacting the customer experience. I talked about customer-centric leadership and human-centric leadership and you talk about creative leadership, what is that?

 

Chris Griffiths:   The difference between a leader and a follower is innovation. It’s the ability to innovate in so many different ways and bring people with you. If you want to be a leader that’s really going to be a market driver rather than be market driven you’ve got to be a creative leader. Also you’ve got to look at where we are in today’s fast-moving economy. Anything that can be automated is going to be automated. The world is becoming a very flat place in terms of you’re going to have so many competitors trying to win on price is never going to work anymore. So you have to be creative. Any company that wants to survive is going to need creative leadership. You can’t argue that any futurist in technology will tell you that it’s the ability to innovate and create that will be the most valued people especially the tech community but ever every industry.

 

Jim Rembach:    It’s one of those things you and I had talked about this. This isn’t a futuristic thing this is today. Dr. H Kim wrote the book called, The Creativity Challenge and she was on the Fast Leader show and we’ll make sure that we link to her episode as well. She talks about the really issue behind and those multiple reasons why we have this degradation in creative thinking and where we are today and the impacts of what it’s causing. It is not a situation where industry verticals heck societies for that matter is exempt everybody is included in this issue.

 

Chris Griffiths:   It is. It’s good as artificial intelligence may get it’s not going to take over the intellectual capital that we have as human beings to be creative, not for a very long time.

 

Jim Rembach:    When we start talking about all of this—and even in the book you have several inspirational quotes, we look to quotes to help us focus, what’s one of your favorites that you can share?

 

Chris Griffiths:   I think my favorite is that, winners fail more times than losers even try. It’s one of the things with creativity if you have fear in the creative process it’s never going to work. Also if one can realize that success and failure they’re not opposites they’re actually part of the same process then you become comfortable with it. You have to fail the unless you’re extremely lucky you’re going to have lots of failures before you get to a big success it’s just that we hear a lot about the big successes that happen just naturally but you don’t hear about a lot of the failures that those sort of founding company directors would have had to go through to get there.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well, most definitely. That’s one of the reasons why we talk about those on the Fast Leader show we talk about humps that we have to get over. Do you have one of your humps stories? 

 

Chris Griffiths:   Yeah. I’ve had two big humps in my business journey. Once I sold my business at 26, as you quite rightly said I allowed the hubris to set in, when you’re very young and you have a great deal of success you think everything that you touch will turn into gold but that clearly wasn’t the case. Everything I made from selling my company I invested into computer telecommunications and I created some absolutely beautiful technology that no one wanted to buy but it was a great learning experience I wouldn’t change it for anything. Yes, I lost my house and my cars but wow what a lesson I learned from that and it made me who I am. And also you pointed out that I then went on to grow Burchfield into a PLC and a Tech Track 100 company. I could see at Burchfield that it had lost its creativity whilst we were a PLC and we had amazing people on the board it was no longer innovative so that was a painful hump for me to think I’m going to step down from the company that I’ve taken from nothing to seven years of straight growth to a PLC because I’m going to do what I believe is right. What I believed was right was this focus on using technology to help people become more creative. To start again was painful it was difficult and it took a long time but again I’m really glad I did it.

 

Jim Rembach:    As you’re talking Chris I start thinking about some things that kind of run through my head at times and maybe this is a little bit TMI or too much information but sometimes I get very frustrated with the rate at which the velocity at which things move and so I lose patience and I’m like, you know what? I just have to jettison that and just move on because it’s a boat anchor it’s holding me down.

 

Chris Griffiths:   Yes. And you’ve got to have the confidence to do that. Again you’ve got to overcome fear because you can get trapped in a situation where you’re very comfortable. Going back to the quote  we’d all started from that quote, winners fail more times than losers even try, you have to be willing to break the status quo and when you break a status quo it could go either way.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well, it can go either way. But for me it’s one of those things where you start talking about—I had somebody on the show that talked about your core four as far as the things are important to you, for me I think one of my core is breaking the status quo. I’m like—just because you’re doing it that way does not really mean that it’s the right way. 

 

Chris Griffiths:   Yeah, absolutely. If you have a realization, let’s just say things don’t go the way that you hope they do so you break the status quo and you end up in a situation you don’t like the great thing is you can’t lose because you have to change the status quo again. So you can keep changing things until you get to the place you want to be. You see innovation itself the word, the meaning, comes from the Latin innavatus so that means to change into something new. So to be innovative you have to constantly change into to something new. The best example of innovation on the planet is Mother Nature and even she doesn’t get it right all the time.

 

Jim Rembach:    When I start looking at what you’re doing where you’re going the things that you’ve learned along the path really a global society we need to move, I’m really excited about the work that you’re doing but, I’m sure you start looking at all of these different things that you could do and you really have to step back and start focusing in order for you to be able to make impact. So if I start looking at that I start thinking about your goals, what is one of them that you have that you can share?

 

Chris Griffiths:   My goal is to change the complete way that technology is utilized. The issue with where we are at the moment is it’s the first time in human history that human beings do a lot of their thinking in front of a black box. People don’t stop to think about the impact of that and how computers are actually dictating the way that we think. I’ve made it my purpose and my mission to develop technology that actually helps. Technology itself enhance human thinking and turn that thinking and turn that thinking into action. So it’s not about just doing things quicker it’s not about just tasks lists it’s about well how can you use technology to enhance thinking skills, innovation and creativity.

Jim Rembach:    And the Fast Leader Legion wishes you their 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 solution is guaranteed to create motivated, productive and loyal employees who have great work relationships with their colleagues and your customers. To learn more about an even better place to work visit beyondmorale.com/better. 

 

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

 

Chris Griffiths:   I am ready to hoedown. 

 

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

 

Chris Griffiths:   I guess the thing that’s holding me back is that there are so many opportunities for us as an organization. Even though I study this and I write about it you have to focus at certain stages. We’ve just got so many things going on which are positive from our consulting side from our technology side from the books as a leader I know that I’m not spending enough time doing what a leader should. If you were to ask any of my team that same question they would say well we probably don’t see enough of Chris because he’s so busy doing these other things. I know that and I’m working on it. To be a good leader you have to be a good coach and at the moment I’m probably not the best coach to my own team that I should be. 

 

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

 

Chris Griffiths:   The best leadership advice I’ve ever received, I guess the issue for that one is I’ve had so much good leadership advice over the years. I think what that really stuck in my mind was don’t worry about problems because problems are a great sign that you’re pushing the boundaries. If you’ve got no problems you’re stuck and you’re comfortable in your status quo. A lot of people when they come to me and say I’ve just got so many problems I say are well done at least I know you’re stretching yourself.

 

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

 

Chris Griffiths:   My ability to use to focus daydreaming. It’s the best skill that we’ve got in order to create and come up with ideas and yet people don’t think about the power of daydreaming. It is the one time that you will have where you’ll be using all of your brain’s resources to help connect all those blocks of information that you have inside. People don’t have the confidence to just sit back and put their feet up and just think for an hour or two. That’s what I do and I do it constantly and I tell my team to do it too. 

 

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

 

Chris Griffiths:   Well, you might say I’m promoting my own product but I definitely would say Aoya which is the technology tool that we’ve been building for over 14 years. We’ve only just released it. We’ve had other product but we released it very recently. Using a tool that helps me use technology to capture my ideas and build better and stronger ideas to share them with my team and turn them into action has made all the difference to me. I can tell you one thing, I would not be involved in anything unless I wanted it and A Aoya was something I always needed or wanted personally because there just wasn’t anything out there that could do it.

 

Jim Rembach:    What would be one book that you’d recommend to our legion, it could be from any genre. Of course, we’re going to put a link to—The Creative Thinking Handbook as well.

 

Chris Griffiths:   Thank you. The Creative Thinking Handbook is a great book I would say that but actually it’s doesn’t even come close to the book that I would recommend which is on a different level altogether. It’s a business book that should be read by all business people and it’s read by very, very few. It’s a book that sells over a hundred million copies a year it’s the best-selling French book in history and it’s called, The Little Prince. It’s actually a children’s book but just Google the Little Prince, it’s a small book buy it read it to your children if you haven’t got children read it to yourself. The essence of the book is how as adults we lose our ability to imagine. And when you lose your ability to use your imagination you just destroy your creativity.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader legion, you can find links to that and other bonus information including a link to a Aoya on Chris’s show notes page which you will find at fastleader.net/Chris 

Griffiths. Okay, Chris this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question. Imagine you were given the opportunity go back to the age of 25. And you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take it all you can only choose one. What skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why? 

 

Chris Griffiths:   I think I would take back that advice that I was given about not sweating the problems. Because when you’re young and you’re pushing hard to be inventive where the commercial world is your playground, which it was for me, you worry too much about things. I know perseverance will always get you through that but I guess I would have enjoyed more of the good times and stopped worrying or sweating about some of the bad times. If I had realized that problems are an indicator that you should be proud that you’re pushing and striving for something new I would have looked at things in a different way.

 

Jim Rembach:    Chris, I had a good time with you. How do folks get in touch with you?

 

Chris Griffiths:   You could get in touch with me on Twitter it’s@Griffithsthinks, I love to hear from anyone that’s listening.

 

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

 

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

 

END OF AUDIO 

 

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Tamra Chandler | Feedback and Other Dirty Words

242: Tamra Chandler: It’s time to reboot feedback

Tamra Chandler Show Notes Page

Tamra Chandler had just bought into a partnership and lost all of her equity when the firm experienced a forced closure. Tamra responded by building a successful organization elsewhere and has continued positively impact the lives of colleagues and clients. She’s now on a mission to reboot feedback.

Tamra Chandler was born in LaGrande, a small town in eastern Oregon. Her family moved to Montana when Tamra was three. As a result, she grew up in Kalispell, situated in the beautiful northwest corner of Montana, near Glacier National Park. Tamra is an only child of young parents, so she’s known to say that she and her Mom and Dad grew up together.

Both of Tamra’s parents were business owners before they reached the age of 30. Her mother owned a popular women’s clothing store and her father launched a series of start-ups over the years. Today Al, Tamra’s dad, still sits in his CEO seat of a successful company he founded more than 20 years ago. As such, it’s probably not a surprise that Tamra is also the founder and CEO of her own company.  It just took her a little longer to get there than her parents.

An entrepreneurial spirit and strong work ethic run deep in Tamra’s blood, driven by years of witnessing her parents’ hard work and passion. She began working in her mother’s store while in middle school. Once she was old enough to collect a paycheck, she worked a smattering of jobs through high school and college, including as a lifeguard and swim instructor, office store cleaner, and cherry sorter.

Armed with an Electrical Engineering degree after college, Tamra began her professional career as a Boeing engineer. Truth be told, engineering was never her true calling, and after three years she returned to school at University of Washington. MBA in hand, she never looked back.

Grad school led to a consulting job at United Research, where she learned the trade from some of the best professionals in their fields. In those early consulting years, she gained skills, know-how, and techniques that have been key to her success and continue to be part of what differentiate her and her team today.

In 1994 Tamra joined a fledgling team of consultants in Arthur Andersen’s Seattle office. In 1998, she made partner at Arthur Andersen and soon after stepped in to lead the Business Consulting practice for the Northwest corner of the U.S. That fledgling team grew from 20 in 1998 to 225 by 2002, when things took a sudden turn. Despite thinking she’d found her place, Tamra was uprooted by the Andersen-Enron debacle, and soon found herself leading 375 consultants, along with a few fellow partners, to Hitachi Consulting as a safe harbor. Tamra dedicated six years to Hitachi and established a thriving practice. While continuing to support clients, Tamra wore many other hats while at Hitachi, including Chief People Officer and Strategy Lead. Inspired by the work she was doing to differentiate Hitachi in the field of global consulting firms, Tamra saw the need for a strategic consultancy in the people, organization, and talent space. Armed with this insight and a vision of what could be, Tamra made a friendly departure with six colleagues in tow to launch PeopleFirm in 2008.

This year PeopleFirm celebrated its 11th anniversary and was recognized (again) as one of Forbes Magazine’s Top Consultancies in the U.S.

Tamra takes pride in having created so much positive change on a human-to-human level. Some of the impacts have been big, some small, but all are meaningful. Tamra has been in the fortunate position of being able to provide opportunities for people to do amazing work in areas they feel passionate about, and they have shined. She notes that there’s no better feeling that seeing someone blow your mind with the work they do and the impact they’ve had, and knowing you had a little part of their success.

At an organizational level, PeopleFirm is Tamra’s legacy. She had a vision of a different kind of consultancy, and with all the amazing people who have been part of the PeopleFirm tribe during the past 11 years, they’ve brought that vision to life. She’s immensely proud of what they’ve built in a short time and she’s grateful for the many industry honors the PeopleFirm team has received.

Tamra lives in Seattle, Washington. (However, a recent home purchase in France is bringing her that direction more often these days.) She is happily married to Jeff Mosier, her partner of 33 years. Tamra and Jeff have two children: Ivy, 23, a visual artist, and 19-year-old Wilson, who just completed his first year in Economics and Management at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Tamra and Jeff’s house is typically full of dogs, although Tamra says there aren’t enough at the moment, as only Perry and Luna Fox are in residence today.

Quotes and Mentions

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

“We need to reboot this idea of feedback.” Click to Tweet

“Feedback is broken in the way most of us have experienced it.” Click to Tweet

“It’s time to fix feedback so it’s something that’s truly helpful and not harmful or hurtful.” Click to Tweet

“If you’re seeking or extending feedback, first and foremost we need to build connections with that person.” Click to Tweet

“If I don’t trust you and you’re trying to help me, I’m not going to trust that feedback.” Click to Tweet

“When feedback is coming at us, even if we have a trusted relationship, it still may kick up our fears.” Click to Tweet

“Of fight, freeze, flee, or appease the most common feedback response is appease.” Click to Tweet

“Our traditional models of the dreaded performance management review have polluted our idea of feedback.” Click to Tweet

“Let’s redefine feedback and understand what good feedback means and try to bust a bunch of these myths that pollute our experiences.” Click to Tweet

“The most impactful feedback that people get is positive feedback.” Click to Tweet

“Leaders who give positive feedback are the highest ranked leaders in leadership capabilities.” Click to Tweet

“Just lean into the feedback, frequent, focused, positive-oriented feedback.” Click to Tweet

“Leaders need to move away from this idea that they need to be hard, critical, or strong-willed.” Click to Tweet

“For our relationship to be strong, we have to have five positive connections to one negative.” Click to Tweet

“We’re all works in process, none of us are perfect.” Click to Tweet

“The roles we play in feedback are seeker, receiver, and extender.” Click to Tweet

“If we start moving ourselves into seeking feedback the benefits are immense.” Click to Tweet

“We can start asking some really good questions as a receiver of feedback that helps use get value from even a blunder feedback experience.” Click to Tweet

“How do you go out there as a leader and seek feedback?” Click to Tweet

“The most powerful feedback we can seek, is usually to our peers.” Click to Tweet

“We are all fighting our own battles.” Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Tamra Chandler had just bought into a partnership and lost all of her equity when the firm experienced a forced closure. Tamra responded by building a successful organization elsewhere and has continued positively impact the lives of colleagues and clients. She’s now on a mission to reboot feedback.

Advice for others

Connect the dots and make something with it.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Managing my time more effectively.

Best Leadership Advice

Be yourself.

Secret to Success

I truly care about people and connect with then on a personal level.

Best tools in business or life

My husband.

Recommended Reading

Feedback (and Other Dirty Words): Why We Fear It, How to Fix It

How Performance Management Is Killing Performance—and What to Do About It

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

Contacting Tamra Chandler

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mtchandler

Website:  www.peoplefirm.com

Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

An Even Better Place to Work

Show Transcript: 

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

242: Tamra Chandler: It’s time to reboot feedback

 

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader podcast where we uncover the leadership life hacks that help you to experience, breakout performance faster and rocket to success and now here’s your host customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach. 

 

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

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay fast leader legion, Today I’m excited because today’s guest is going help us with one of the most important f-words in your world. 

 

Tamra Chandler was born in LeGrande, small town in Eastern Oregon. Her family moved to Montana when Tamra was three as a result she grew up in Kalispell, situated in the beautiful northwest corner of Montana near Grayson Glacier National Park. Tamra is an only child of young parents so she’s known to say that she and her mom and dad grew up together. Both Tamra’s parents were business owners before they reached the age of 30. Her mother owned a popular women’s clothing store and her father launched a series of startups over the years. Today, Tamra’s dad still sits in a CEO seat of a successful company he founded more than 20 years ago. Tamra began working in her mother store while in middle school. Once she was old enough to collect the paycheck she worked a smattering of jobs through high school and college including a lifeguard swim instructor, office store cleaner, and cherry sorter. Armed with an electrical engineering degree after college Tamra began her professional career as a Boeing engineer. Truth be told engineering was her true calling and after three years she returned to school at University of Washington with an MBA in hand and she never looked back. 

 

In 1994 Tamra joined a fledgling team of consultants in Arthur Andersen’s Seattle offices. In 1998 she made partner at Arthur Andersen and soon after stepped into a lead business consulting practice for the northwest corner of the United States. That fledgling team grew from 20 in 1998 to 225 by 2002. When things took a sudden turn despite thinking she found her place

Tamra was uprooted by the Andersen-Enron debacle and soon found herself leading 375 consultants along with a few fellow partners to Hitachi Consulting as a safe harbor. Tamra dedicated six years to Hitachi and established a thriving practice. Inspired by the work she was doing to differentiate Hitachi in the field of global consulting firms, Tamra saw the need for a strategic consultancy in the people organization and talent space. Armed with this insight and vision of what she could be, Tamra made a friendly departure with six colleagues in tow to launch People Firm in 2008, that’s been recognized as one of Forbes magazine’s top consultancies in the US. Tamra also is the author of How Performance Management is Killing Performance and What to do about it, and Feedback (and other dirty words): Why we fear it, How to Fix it. 

 

Tamra lives in Seattle Washington. However a recent home purchase in France is bringing her that direction more often these days. She’s happily married to Jeff Mosier, her partner of 33 years. Tamra and Jeff have two children Ivy, 23, a visual artist, and 19 year-old Wilson, who just completed his first year in economics and management at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Tamra and Jeff’s house is typically full of dogs although Tara says there aren’t enough at the moment. Tamra Taylor, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Tamra Chandler:   I am totally ready. 

 

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

 

Tamra Chandler:   My current passion is, I am just so excited about this feedback thing. So I think that I’m sort of eating and sleeping and breathing that. We just had a great event here in Portland. I’m sitting in Portland Oregon right now. We had 40 executives show up last night and just said what we call a Learning Lab and just the conversation and the wisdom even from those leaders and the experiences that they share just has me just super excited that we did this book and we’re out there kicking up this conversation.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, so that leads me to want to ask, what was the main emphasis in those discussions?

 

Tamra Chandler:   Well I think everybody agreed with us, that we need to reboot this idea of feedback, that it needs a fresh start. That feedback is broken in the way that most of us have experienced and they’re probably engaging in it today, and so we’re out there trying to start a movement of leaders and everybody else who wants to come along with us who thinks it’s time to fix feedback. So it’s something that’s truly helpful and not harmful or hurtful.

 

Jim Rembach:     Well and one of the things that you talked about in the book and what it starts off with and to me it just kind of launches from there and really sets a good groundwork is you talk about self-preservation and part of this is just wiring is who we are as animals and then there’s been a lot of societal things that have impacted it but ultimately we’re talking about how to preserve that self-protection component. So when you say tell self-protection, what does that really mean for everyone?

 

Tamra Chandler:   Well I think where we came from, we have evolved over time but our evolution, what we’ve learned to do is protect ourselves, and back in the day that might have been the saber-tooth Tiger or the snake hanging from the tree, right? And we learned that danger means physically respond, get out, and be safe. And the interesting thing is with the world of feedback, well if someone’s coming at you with some feedback it’s probably not going to cause the end of your life but we tend to still physically respond in that way as that self-protection and what happens mentally when we do that is we move into with what Laura and I like to call our reptilian brain, we sort of moved back into that protection, the safety, the fight-or-flight kind of mode and when we are in that brain our wise brain shuts down. So almost all of us can think about times where someone has said something and we’ve responded in a way that when we think back on it later were just sort of horrified or at least little bit humiliated and it’s because that reptilian brain took over and our wise brain shutdown and so we weren’t able to show up necessarily the way we want to because we’re in that self-protection mode 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay so for me that kind of also leads me to a particular question before we go into something else, and that is you talked about how we respond to understand be able to take in fear related type of information before we start taking in things that are growth focused and positive. So if I start thinking about those elements and components, should it be that I wait to do the fear types of things that could potentially cause people to—and as you put it in the book we’ll get in this to a second, it’s fight, freeze, appease, we’ll talk about that in a second, but should we sequence things in a certain way so that we’re having a greater amount of success?

 

Tamra Chandler:   Well yes and no. I think that one of the things that we talk about is if you are wanting to engage in a feedback relationship with someone whether you’re seeking or whether you’re extending feedback that first and foremost we need to build connections with that person, we need to have trusts, we need to have a platform by which we can have the conversation because if I don’t trust you and you’re trying to help me, I’m still not going trust that feedback even if it’s valuable. So yes we have to start from that perspective but I think what we have to realize is when feedback is coming at us even if we have a trusted relationship it still may kick up our fear and that’s where we have to really sort of change our minds. If we say we have to train our brains and we have to learn to get out of that reptilian brain and back into our wise brain and so like when we do workshops with people and stuff we spend a lot of time helping them start to practice little tips to get into your body because when we get back into our body we get out of that response mode so even simple things like rubbing your hands together to start and feeling the more between your hands can start to take you out of that response mode and get you back into your body so you can start to gain control. So we can’t stop the fear even if we love somebody they can still come at us with something that is scary to us, so we have to also figure out ways to start to manage our own fear and get out of our brains in that sense.

 

Jim Rembach:    I think that’s a really important point when you start talking about some of these techniques and tactics. I do want to get a little bit more into this whole fight, flee, freeze or appease. And so, I want us to talk a little bit more about this four elements that’s associated with this self-preservation and how it impacts feedback.

 

Tamra Chandler:   Right. The fight, freeze, flee or appease I think in the corporate environment when we’re working side by side the one that gets the least amount of attention but is probably the most common is the appease. Someone actually, last night, brought this up where they are trying to drive more feedback for leaders and asking individuals to provide more feedback for leaders and they said unfortunately most of the responses, oh, you’re great everything’s lovely and keep doing what you’re doing rah rah. Those are people trying to appease they’re not actually engaging there’s still the fear there of having an honest conversation. Maybe that leader is doing great things but that’s still not good feedback that’s not specific it’s actually not telling them why they’re great or what they should keep doing. Oftentimes if we’re extending feedback to someone and we see them sort of glass over or they’ll say, gosh, thanks a lot, we kind of instinctively know I don’t think that landed anywhere I think it just woof and they said thank you and they made it sound like they cared about what we said and they walked away that’s really an appease. 

 

Jim Rembach:    So when you start talking about this, and you and I had the opportunity to chat a little bit off mic before we started recording, we talked about what we’re kind of familiar with and what we’ve been exposed to and really when we start thinking about this whole traditional mindset action and activities associated with it as well as the emerging workforce and how they really don’t receive much feedback or have not received it and so we’re really almost having to start from a ground zero which could be a good thing.

 

Tamra Chandler:   I think maybe that is a good thing. I think that when you talk to people who have grown up in our traditional models and particularly throw in there the dreaded performance management review all those models have really polluted our idea of feedback. If you think about the review, and review makes us believe that feedback is this big heavy meeting that hashes over the past and that one person is the know all tell all of the other person and I bring you into the room and I put my box of Kleenexes in the middle of the table because we’re going to have this big conversation about your strengths and your weaknesses and we’re going to hash over the things that happened last year, there’s so little value in that conversation that is not feedback. But we think it is because we’ve been told it is. And so these are the types of things that we have to sort of wipe the slate clean and say that’s not feedback let’s redefine feedback let’s understand what good feedback means and let’s try to bust a whole bunch of these  myths that pollute our experiences in the way that we’re going forward.

 

Jim Rembach:    I think that’s perfect. So let’s bust a couple myths, go ahead. 

 

Tamra Chandler:   Okay. One of my favorite myths is, and I know that you do a lot of work with leaders. It’s interesting because if you talk to leaders a lot of them think that good feedback is, I’m out telling my people what they’re doing wrong or telling them how to fix something. The science and if you’re geeky enough you want to get into the science, look at Zinger and Folkman’s, Research in the Space, because it’s really powerful and they’ve looked at thousands of leaders and  understood what’s happening here and ask the people that are working these leaders. Here’s what we know, the most impactful feedback that people get is positive feedback. It drives the most important and improved performance, it’s inspiring, it helps people look forward, it engages them, it drives that level of commitment. Leaders who give positive feedback are the highest-ranked leaders in leadership capabilities. 

 

So if you’re trying to improve your leadership scores just lean into the feedback frequent focus positive oriented feedback. Interestingly, even leaders who really do a good blend of more positive but also corrective and directional feedback there’s starting me better than those that just give pure positive feedback, which is kind of an interesting finding. You probably really need a blend if you’re really helping your people grow thrive in advance. So leaders need to move away from this idea that they need to be hard or critical or strong-willed and move their people forward. If you can lean in to that positive feedback that’s hugely important.  I think the other thing, there’s this old, I’ll use the PG language here there’s this whole idea of the poop sandwich. A lot of people were trained on this idea that gives somebody a compliment, give him some tough feedback and then close with a nice compliment and that was a good feedback practice, for years that was trained and taught to people. It’s a horrible practice. Because what happens with that practice is we’re mixing the message, what is it we’re trying to say? Is it the positive thing or is it the tough feedback? What’s the most important piece in that? And most the time people are going to smell the smelly medal the poop sandwich part and say, you know what? I think those two compliments were just thrown in there they’re not even meaningful. And so I don’t trust any of that information particularly those compliments. And so we start to erode the trust between the individual we’ve diluted the message and and it’s really not a valuable conversation at all.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, so also you shared something a little bit about Gottman’s research in the all five of them, got to hit on that a little bit. And we actually have to go overboard on the positive in order to impact that thing that we need to have improve in (inaudible 15:36)

 

Tamra Chandler:   Right. And the Gottman research is about relationships and that ties back to that in order for feedback to flow in order for this to work for us to get value out of it Jim if you and I have a relationship we have to have trust. In order for us to have trust we have to have some connection that binds us. And so what Gottman’s research, while he did it under the auspices of marriage counseling and evaluating marriages, we think what’s so important that we can take away from that is for our relationship to be strong we have to have five positive connections to one negative. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be five positive feedback it can simply be—we go to lunch we work on a hard project together we have things that connect us—so our relationship has that strength in it. And the more positive connections we have, I think of it like you’re building that ground level you’re building the platform by which you and I can have richer and more influential and meaningful conversations. So those positive connections you just keep putting more layers underneath that relationship.

 

Jim Rembach:     For me as you’re saying that I start thinking about longevity and I started thinking about 10 years and I started thinking about all of those things associated with how long people are actually at work together and when you start looking at these term lengths who are putting all those factors into place about people at senior level how often they turn and turn. If we’re looking at mid-level and absolutely the frontline, people are saying now you’re going to have like 14 jobs if you emerge into the workforce by the time you get out of it, I mean, do you really even have time to build a religion?

 

Tamra Chandler:   Oh gosh, I sure hope so. But I think you’re right.  I think that is one of the challenges. Laura and I sort of joke about when we’re working with a new set of managers or leaders for example and you start telling them, hey, you need to be connecting frequently and they get this sort of glassy eye days and  you know what they’re thinking is, when do I find the time to do that? And I think what we need to realize is again with all these things it’s light and easy. We’re not saying be robotic about it we’re not saying you have to sit down for half an hour with someone we’re just saying be authentic be engaged. We all have to eat we all have to do these things so use those times to really connect with people and build that relationship. If you are a new person you’ve got a new boss you can drive that too starting to reach out and just getting to know people.

 

I was reflecting this week on some of my best friends are people who’ve worked for me at one time but took the time to say, hey I really want to get to know you, and had the courage to drive that relationship. We can all engage in this process even though, yes, there’s a lot of churn and there’s a lot of change.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, so that leads me to something that we also talked about off mic. We talked about what we’ve been conditioned to in the workplace and in our society, we talked about North America versus other places around the world and I had shared how on the Fast Leader show I read a bio that’s a little bit more of a personal bio because I say it’s not what you do that makes you great it’s who you are that makes you great and it’s a very important distinction that we often lose. And you said, well, that’s kind of a phenomena here in the States, however, when you travel globally you get and experience something different, what do you experience?

 

Tamra Chandler:   I was thinking particularly, because as you mentioned in my bio, I’ve been spending a lot more time in France and as I’m getting to build a community in France what’s been interesting to me is the contrast in their relationships. What I’ve noticed is people don’t ask you right away what you do, they want to know who you are, and they ask you questions about your family, and your history. Maybe it’s because their history is so much longer, I don’t know, they care a lot about those types of things. But also what I’ve learned is that they’re faster to become your friend, it’s easier to get into those communities and move faster I think. 

 

Unfortunately, and maybe it’s the speed like you’re talking about that we work at in the U.S. that it’s hard sometimes to make new friends or to build those relationships, like people aren’t really willing to invest the time. Maybe that’s because, well, how do I know you’re going to be here in a year? But I find it’s easier and in a very short amount of time in France we’ve been able to build kind of this whole network of friends and people and people go out of the way to help you. And gosh, I wish we could bring more of that back, as we’re trying to bring the human back into the work that we’re doing in the U.S. just really leaning into those relationships and establishing much more of that rapport would make us all so much stronger and frankly happier.

 

Jim Rembach:    And I think this kind of goes into the hold rebooting of feedback, is that we need to do things differently than we’ve done the past. You talked about Dr. Dweck’s work in regards to mindset and having more of a growth mindset and we’ve got to change some of our behaviors. I even remember working with one particular Police Department on an engagement, a project, and I had some senior level leaders within a conference room and I started asking some questions where we got into that as far as who you are not so much on what you do. And then one guy looked at another he goes, I’ve known this man 20 years and I just learned something new I had no clue about. Why did you count 20 years and not know that? 

 

Tamra Chandler:   Right, right.

 

Jim Rembach:    I think that we just have to really stop and take a step back and so part of that gets into the reboot of feedback, how do we reboot?

 

Tamra Chandler:   Well, first and foremost we need a new definition of feedback so that’s the first thing we put forward. We need to redefine it in a way that provides us sort of that platform again that which we can all connect with. Can I read you our definition? It’s a clear and specific information that sought or extended with the sole intention of helping individuals or groups improve grow or advance. So we were really careful about the words that we selected in that definition the clear and specific as in focus, you’ll hear us talk about one thing, the sole intention of helping somebody improve, grow or advance. We always say go out there and kick a lot of ass. One of the first questions you should ask yourself is, what’s the intent of the feedback if you’re looking to offer somebody some feedback? What’s my intent? We absolutely, as you said lean into the growth mindset and we play with this idea of flipping the switch from prove to improve. How can we in our own minds switch from prove to improve? So making sure if you’re offering someone feedback you’re not trying to prove something but you’re trying to help them improve. And I think so often when we get feedback wrong it’s because we think we need to tell somebody something maybe they made us mad or we think we have a point of view that they need to hear or something of that nature which is then in our definition not feedback. As a receiver of feedback or as a seeker of feedback if we switch from this idea of prove to improve then we can open ourselves up to look for all works in process none of us are perfect we all got things we need to work on. So if we start to say, hey, this is who I am, as we said, this is who I am and this is what I’m working on help me here I’m in this state of continuous improvement. We’re not out trying to prove we’re the smartest or prove we’re the best at something or all that type of thing that puts us in a completely different state of mind. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Well and as you’re talking you use some words I think it’s really important for us to be able to explain and talk about because we need to build skills in all three of these. You talked about a speaker, a receiver, and then there’s also an extender, help us with that. 

 

Tamra Chandler:   We wanted to make sure and we kind of thought about what are the roles we all play in feedback? And we broke it out into these three roles seeker, receiver and extender. We always start with seeker because that we think is really the golden egg here in changing how we engage in feedback. If we start moving ourselves into seeking feedback the benefits are immense. We lower the fear both in ourselves and in the person we’re asking because we’re giving them permission we’re seeking specific feedback that we care about we get to choose the time and the place and hopefully we’re asking in advance so the person we’re asking has the time to prepare and think about their answers so we’re getting higher quality information. So we can really lead the way by getting out there and seeking. 

 

Of course, once we seek then we’re in receiving mode and sometimes we’re receiving because we’ve asked and sometimes we’re receiving because we haven’t. But whether you’ve asked or not the receiver is really taking that information in and choosing what to do with it. We had a gentleman last night asked the question, what if you’re receiving information from an extender who’s really bad at feedback? Even as the receiver we can take control and we can start to ask questions that help us get value from that. What’s the one thing you want me to get away from this conversation? Is there a place you’ve witnessed me doing that that you can walk me through so I can understand it better? We can start asking some really good questions as a receiver that helps us get value from even a kind of blundered sort of feedback experience. 

 

Tamra Chandler:   And then lastly is the extender and almost always everyone immediately goes to this role and thinks about all the powers with the extender. No, we want to move the power to the seeker and the extender is someone we’re asking to just share what you’re witnessing. Share what you’re observing let go of the judgment, the assessment, the ratings, the no I’ll tell all, the giving the solutions, move to someone who is witnessing here’s what I’ve noticed and then engaged the person in a conversation about, do they see it the same way? Is this valuable feedback to them? How can you help them work on this if it’s something they’re interesting in working on if it’s a strength how can you help them find more places to apply that strength really engaged in that kind of conversation as an extender.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well, as you’re talking to I would think that we could easily make the mistake and basically take what you were just saying right there and think that, oh, that’s top-down conversation and that is (inaudible 26:34) seeking the feedback from a superior in rank. And I would dare to say that no it’s probably needs to be the superior doing it first in order to model it. 

 

Tamra Chandler:   Exactly, yeah. We have tips and tricks and ideas in each of these different roles. The second section in each area says leaders go first. It’s about, how do you get out there as a leader and seek feedback? And for some leaders this is really hard. Because you may have a lot of ego built up in your leadership. You may not have those relationships yet with the people on your teams. We say start easy, start in a team meeting and at the beginning of the team meeting say, hey, at the end of this team meeting I’d really love feedback on ABC, anchor it in the work that you’re doing start to build some muscle with the team that opens up the dialogue. And then when you come around to the next meeting say, hey, I really love the feedback you gave me in that last meeting this is what I’ve done with it at the end of this meeting here’s what I’d like and then you start to build a habit and a rapport. Once you’ve done that maybe you can start building one-on-one relationships with some of those people to go out and say, hey, I’m really looking for feedback on our strategic plan I built let’s talk about that and any ideas you have for me how we could make it even better. So we can really start to show how we can lead the way and that is so important. 

 

The other thing, Jim that is so vitally important to recognize here is the most powerful feedback we can seek where we can offer is usually to our peers. And so we really like to try to shine a spotlight on peer to peer feedback, research shows that we’re thirty percent more likely to take in peer feedback and I think there’s a couple of reasons for that. When our peers see us more often they know us, they see our work they know our strengths. Even that guy who worked for 20 years he probably still had some good feedback for that peer because they’ve worked closely enough together and leading into that is really important and it’s safer and it’s a great place where we can start to practice some of these skills. 

 

Jim Rembach:    And as you say that I start thinking too is that there are certain organizations and I would dare to say that it’s at all levels where they may look and say, well, I don’t really have up here. in the small organization that can happen in the large organization the person at the very top there’s no peer they’re all subordinates there’s that peers among subordinates. For those people who feel like they’re isolated where do they go? 

 

Tamra Chandler:   That’s really interesting. I think again they can go to the people whoever they’re working with whether they’re peers or not. I would just look at who’s in my ecosystem? And who sees me? Sometimes it may even be a client or a customer or someone else. In our business oftentimes some of the best feedback comes from the clients that we’re working with. And being able to build a relationship with them and ask them for their insights or their specific feedback. Once you’ve got a trusted relationship. So I think we just have to step back and think about who is it this witnessing the work that I’m doing? And how can they provide me observations about what they’re seeing?

 

Jim Rembach:    It sounds like we also have to kind of change our definition of what peer is as well. 

 

Tamra Chandler:   Right, yeah, I think you’re right.

 

Jim Rembach:    Everything that we talked about in all of this—the fear, flight, freeze, appease all of them, all of these is just wrapped up in a ton of emotion. One of the things that we like on the show to help us make sure that we’re focused in the right direction are quotes. So is there a quote or two that you like that you can share?

 

Tamra Chandler:   I love this quote and I used to have it for a long time, I think on my Skype header or whatever it’s, be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle. I think particularly in this case that’s such a great quote because it’s it gets into that fear piece again. I think we are all fighting our own battles. We’re trying to be the better person. We’re trying to contribute. We’re trying to show up or trying to connect. We’re trying to manage our children. We’re trying to manage our parents. We’re all just out there trying to do our best. And in a crazy, crazy luca world. So I think recognizing that—I don’t know about you but I say that I used that quote with my kids a lot. Because when your kids are in their 20’s or teens they can be very critical and very judgmental. I’ll often say, you don’t know that person’s story and you don’t know what they’re dealing with and you don’t know the battles that are raging inside your brain so be kind. And that one just really resonates with me.

 

Jim Rembach:    I would dare to say that I also too for many of us we kind of have to start building our own different approaches. Kind of like getting rid of the hole so what do you do it should be, hey, what are you battling today? You never (inaudible 31:33) that to go. Again I got in a habit of asking person, so where do you find your joy? It’s amazing people will just sit there and process what you’re saying and all of a sudden the corners of their mouth go up their eyes get big and then they start telling you what it is.

 

Tamra Chandler:   Right, right that’s a great question. Talk about connecting those are the dirt great kind of questions to build those connections.

 

Jim Rembach:    Now you have to be prepared though because some of those conversations have brought me to tears.

 

Tamra Chandler:   Oh, well, if you ask my team I’m like the queen of tears, I cry all the time they’re used to it. No one can declare I’m not a vulnerable leader.

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s it, got to be vulnerable. We’ve committed to this as leaders we have to be willing to put ourselves out there. When you were talking about the leader going first is that for leaders oftentimes their legacy is that—you know what? I’ve been beaten up for the past 15 years associated with feedback and now I have something different. Well, yeah, you’re the one who has to do the most work sometimes. 

 

Tamra Chandler:   We even talk about leaders sometimes have to hit the reset button because a lot of us have been trained in ways that aren’t very productive or helpful. If you’re going to change the way you’re going to engage in feedback and if you’re going to start seeking you’ve got to be willing to sort of show up and say, hey, maybe the things I was doing weren’t working so well I’m turning over a new leaf I want to hit the reset button I want to start fresh with you and I’m going to start by asking you to provide me some insights, that could be a really good thing to do sometimes depending on your history with the people you’re talking to.

 

Jim Rembach:     And I would say be prepared to have to do that at least three times because they go and you’re going to get the appease and asking **there’s a what they’re going to give you an appease.

 

Tamra Chandler:   Fair enough, I think you’re right.

 

Jim Rembach:    Needless to say when we start talking about all of these learnings and even talking about the course of where you started near Glacier Park and getting to be part of a global firm and having your own and having the success there’s still humps that you’ve had to get over.

 

Tamra Chandler:   So many.

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s right. Can you share one of those with us.

 

Tamra Chandler:   Yeah, like I said so many it’s hard to pick what’s the most exciting one. But I think there probably wasn’t any event in my life that was more from a business perspective rocking your world than when I was at an 80,000 person top-ranked firm at Arthur Andersen and the next day our license was pulled and suddenly we were unable to operate so we had to respond. It was really an interesting time because as partners we had the most to lose. Our equity was in the firm all of our assets were I just signed a note that was just as big as my house mortgage that I now owed and I had nothing left to show for it. So I thought that was such an interesting time and to watch the way different leaders responded. You saw some of the most amazing people show up and do just phenomenal leadership things to help calm people and bring them forward and really rise to that occasion and then you saw others who did not. That was really an interesting time where we had to step back and say back to who are we, am I going to just flee away and take my bags and run? Or am I going to stay here with my team and see us through this? And I think that was a hump for sure.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well, obviously I know what side you felt long. 

 

Tamra Chandler:   Yeah, it was a time, there’s lots of stories to go along with it. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I would dare to say that there would even be some more interesting stories talking about those that just didn’t handle it very well. What you just said right there to me

is it’s very telling in a lot of ways when we start even going back to that whole self-preservation of self. How do we respond? 

 

Tamra Chandler:   Mmm-hmm. 

 

Jim Rembach:    So, when I start thinking about where you’re going with this—your firm was recognized as one of the top consulting firms, you had the book—what is one of your goals?

 

Tamra Chandler:   People will ask me why I’ve been in consulting for 30 plus because it’s a kind of a crazy world to live in for that long and I always say I’ve been here because I truly think we make a difference. One of our values that people firm is leave every client situation better than you came to it. And that could be a hallway conversation or it can be organizational transformation project. But I truly feel like we advocate for people and we help find that win/win between what organizations need and what people want. I truly believe in my heart of hearts that we help make people’s lives better, at least their lives at work better, and that’s my passion that’s what keeps me going and if I didn’t believe that I couldn’t have done this for this 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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Alright here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time for the Hump day Hoedown. Okay, Tamra, the Hump day Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Tamra Chandler, are you ready to hoedown?

 

Tamra Chandler:   I hope so.

 

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

 

Tamra Chandler:   Oh wow! Rapid response. Managing my time more effectively.

 

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

 

Tamra Chandler:   Be yourself.

 

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

 

Tamra Chandler:   I think that I truly care about people and I connect with them on a personal level.

 

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

 

Tamra Chandler:   My husband. Is he at tool? Don’t tell him he’s a tool.

 

Jim Rembach:     Most endearing sense. And what would be one book you’d recommend to our legion? It could be from any genre but of course, we are going to put a link to “Feedback” as well as your other book on our show notes page as well.

 

Tamra Chandler:   You know one of my all-time favorite books is switch by Chip and Dan Heath.

 

Jim Rembach:     Okay. Fast leader legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going too Fastleader.net/TamraChandler. Okay Tamra, this is my last hump day hoedown question. Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you can take your knowledge and skills back with you but you can’t take it all you can only take one, so what piece of knowledge or skill would you take back with you and why?

 

Tamra Chandler:   The skill I have is connecting the dots from many different things if the one thing I had to hold on to would be that being able to take research and science and experience and connect the dots and create something with it.

 

Jim Rembach:     Tamra 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?

 

Tamra Chandler:   Yes. They can contact me on LinkedIn @TamraChandler and my email for people firm is available there so you get right in to us or you can come to www.peoplefirm.com and connect with us there. I’m also on Instagram and all over the place so I’m not hard to find.

 

Jim Rembach:     Tamra Chandler thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom and 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 a fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.

 

END OF AUDIO

 

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