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Charles Conn | Bulletproof Problem Solving | Future Skills

246: Charles Conn: You can easily take apart almost any problem

Charles Conn Show Notes Page Charles Conn used a really simple tool to solve the problems for a company with thousands of employees. It was this humble beginning which now finds Charles on a quest to solve the problems of the world. Charles Conn was born in Phoenix Arizona to half Canadian, half American parents, …

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214: Cheryl Strauss Einhorn: Where I am may not be where somebody else is

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn Notes Page

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn grew up trying to investigate and get to know her father to develop a deeper relationship. This led her to develop the AREA Method that gives people a systematic approach to solving big problems leveraging perspective-taking and investigation.

Cheryl was born in Baltimore, MD but mostly lived in a suburb outside of Boston along with her sister who is 14 months younger. Both of her parents are doctors and her mother was one of the first women in her medical school. Her dad was in a then-new field of medicine called Nuclear Medicine and developed several new medical tests that are today commonplace. As a result, he spent a lot of time working – both in and out of the house. This led Cheryl to try to find a way to draw him out. She began by asking him many questions that would lead to another, and so on. She taught herself how to ‘interview’ him to find out what he was thinking about. It was so successful that she not only has a close relationship with her father, but it also likely led her to pursue investigative journalism.

Cheryl has worked as a journalist for two decades now writing for publications including Barron’s, the New York Times, Foreign Policy Magazine and more. She was also live on-air for many years as an analyst for CNBC and worked as an associate TV producer at Inside Edition. It was during her early journalism work that Cheryl developed her AREA Method to help her – and now others – to solve complex problems. She was searching for a way to make big decisions better – with greater empathy and understanding for the other stakeholders involved in her stories and her decisions.

AREA, which is an acronym for Cheryl’s decision-making steps, is the only system to uniquely control for and counteract bias, focus on the incentives of others and expand knowledge while improving judgment.

After years of successful implementation of AREA, Cheryl distilled her system into her best-selling book Problem Solved, A Powerful System for Making Complex Decisions with Confidence and Conviction, with a foreword by Tony Blair, who is no stranger to complex problem solving as the former UK Prime Minister.

AREA is currently being used successfully across broad domains ranging from low-income high schools, to multi-national companies like Goldman Sachs, to government agencies including the State Department and graduate schools such as Columbia Business School.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“Our brains set mental shortcuts, simply because otherwise we’d have decision fatigue.” – Click to Tweet

“We need well-worn pathways, assumptions, judgments and biases, but they don’t go away when we’re solving for complex problems.” – Click to Tweet

“In today’s world we all have information overflow.” – Click to Tweet

“Perspective-taking allows you to walk in somebody else’s footsteps and push yourself out of your own perspective.” – Click to Tweet

“In order to invest in an uncertain future that is valuable to you, you need to have time for thoughtful reflection.” – Click to Tweet

“You need to know when to slow down and what to do when you slow down.” – Click to Tweet

“If you come into complex problem solving and assume it should go very rapidly, you’re not really investing in yourself and the relationships you’re engaging in.” – Click to Tweet

“You’d rather get to a decision that has a good outcome for you, than get to a decision quickly.” – Click to Tweet

“Relationships is what gives us our quality of life.” – Click to Tweet

“We’re all inconsistent decision makers.” – Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn grew up trying to investigate and get to know her father to develop a deeper relationship. This led her to develop the AREA Method that gives people a systematic approach to solving big problems leveraging perspective-taking and investigation.

Advice for others

Put things in context and don’t granularize.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Using the cheetah pause even more.

Best Leadership Advice

Be here now. Really be present. So that you can really connect with people.

Secret to Success

General joy for the day.

Best tools in business or life

The art of the question.

Recommended Reading

Problem Solved: A Powerful System for Making Complex Decisions with Confidence and Conviction

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance

Contacting Cheryl Strauss Einhorn

Website: https://www.areamethod.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cheryleinhorn

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cheryl-strauss-einhorn-57353823/

Resources and Show Mentions

The Future Project

Call Center Coach

An Even Better Place to Work

 

Show Transcript: 

Click to access edited transcript

214: Cheryl Strauss Einhorn: Where I am may not be where somebody else is

 

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

 

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

 

Okay Fast Leader Legion, today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who’s going to help us make big decisions significantly better. Sheryl Strauss Einhorn was born in Baltimore, Maryland but mostly lived in a suburb outside of Boston along with her sister who is 14 months younger. Both of her parents are doctors and her mother was one of the first women in her medical school. Her dad was, then in new field of medicine called nuclear medicine and developed several new medical tests that are today commonplace. As a result he spent a lot of time working both in and out of the house, this led Cheryl to try to find a new way to draw him out. She began by asking him one question that would lead to another and so on. She taught herself how to interview him to find what he was thinking about. It was so successful that she not only has a close relationship with her father but is also like it also likely led her to pursue investigative journalism. 

 

Cheryl has worked as a journalist for two decades now writing for publications including Barrons, The New York Times, Foreign Policy Magazine and more. She was live on air for many years as an analyst for CNBC and worked and worked as an associate TV producer at Inside Edition. It was during her early journalism work that Sheryl developed an area method to help her and now others to solve complex problems. She was searching for a way to make big decisions better with greater empathy and understanding for the other stakeholders involved in her stories and her decisions. A.R.E.A. which is an acronym for Cheryl’s decision-making steps is the only system to uniquely control and counteract bias focus on the incentives of others and expand knowledge while improving judgment. After years of successful implementation of A.R.E.A. Sheryl distilled her system into her best-selling book, Problem Solved: A Powerful System for Making Complex Decisions with Confidence and Conviction. 

 

With a foreword by Tony Blair, who is no stranger to complex problem solving as the former UK Prime Minister, A.R.E.A.’s currently being used successfully across broad domains ranging from low-income schools to multinational companies like, Goldman Sachs to government agencies including the State Department and graduate schools such as Columbia Business School. Sheryl Straus Einhorn, are you ready to help us get over the hump? 

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:        Absolutely. Thanks for having me here today Jim.

 

Jim Rembach:       I’m glad you’re here. 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. 

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:          Certainly.  I’ve been just so fortunate for the work that I’ve been able to do with A.R.E.A. that I would say my passion really has been to see how A.R.E.A. is able to help individuals, nonprofits, schools and more to be able to have greater confidence and conviction in not only their own problem solving but also use a system that can really strengthen the important relationships in their life by focusing on the other stakeholders involved in their decisions. 

 

Jim Rembach:    When you start talking about decision making and within the book you talk about, there are really only a few absolutes and there’s tons of gray area, and the A.R.E.A. method is a way to navigate the gray areas and avoid those mental shortcuts that enable us to make small decisions easily but may impair our judgment when making big decisions. And so when I started thinking about the decisions that we have to go through making and how many times we stumble, it’s almost like gosh, I wonder if we get such an—like cruise control or in a systematic way that we’re just taking information making decisions that we don’t really recognize what it’s a big decision that we need to use something different to be able to solve for. 

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     Well, I think that’s a good insight. Researchers tell us that we make about 40,000 decisions in any given day. So, that’s everything from what side of the bed to get up on in the morning to what kind of a late night snack how big a late-night snack and how close to bedtime should we have that. And so our brains have set up these mental shortcuts simply because otherwise we’d have decision fatigue. Picture yourself walking into your local supermarket standing in the cereal aisle if you didn’t know what color box or roughly where it was in the store you’d be overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices because the average supermarket also has about 35,000 different items in it. So what happens is we need these well-worn pathways these assumptions judgments these biases but they don’t go away when we’re solving for complex problems. And so what happens is we end up using well-worn pathways that may not serve us when we’re solving for complex problems. And so what A.R.E.A. tries to do is to find a way to pry open some cognitive space to really allow for new information and new insight when we want to solve big decisions. 

 

Jim Rembach:    It’s really interesting that you say that because a while back I was looking at some things associated with brain research and oftentimes researchers try to categorize certain parts of our brain for certain activities. One of the things they were talking about is like decision making where our brain gets accessed and some research has just come out not too long ago that basically says our entire brain lights up when it tries searching—our archives on how to go about making a particular decision. For me I kind of see you saying that, well if our brain is lighting up and not able to find a particular pathway that we need something like A.R.E.A. in order to help move forward otherwise we just are going to be stuck and frozen. 

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     I think that it’s not only that our brain looks for what have we done in the past regardless of whether or not it has necessarily worked out for us, which is problematic. But the other thing is that in today’s world we all have information overflow. And so when we’re faced with a complex problem one of the most off-putting and frustrating parts of the process is, where do you start? How do you decide where you’re going to look for information?  Are those kinds of information sources credible? And so on. And so A.R.E.A. tackles that as well. What A.R.E.A. says is instead of how are you going to solve your complex problem, it says don’t worry about that. Invert the question and instead ask yourself something that many people find far more empowering. Which is, what do you have to have happen in the outcome of your decision to know that it has succeeded for you personally? So now without even knowing how you’re going to solve it you probably are able to identify what needs to happen in the outcome for you to know that it has succeeded and from there you can derive what I call your critical concepts which are the one two or three things that need to happen in that outcome for you to solve for that vision of success. So now you no longer have an open-ended research problem instead you have something that is targeted and focused on what you deem needs to happen for the decision to have a successful outcome for you.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well, I think it probably fair at this point before we go further to talk about what the A.R.E.A.  method actually stands for and throughout the book you have something called cheetah sheets and cheetah notes and messages and we’ll talk about that in a second because I think that in itself is a powerful mental model, but you talk about you know as far as A.R.E.A  being the theory and the idea and what the acronym oh it stands for is absolute understanding your target relative research related sources, exploration broaden your perspective, and there’s also another e in there which is exploitation which is challenged, assumptions and then an analysis which is reduce uncertainty and make your decision. Now you talked about being able to create and evolve this method over the course of time. What kind of started you down this path in order to figure about, oh wait a minute, I needed to cheat a moment maybe this is the time for you to explain cheat a moment and then we need to do something different here.

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     My background as you pointed out as an investigative journalism, and I spent a decade as an editor and columnist at the business magazine Barrons and while I was there I ended up specializing in what you might consider calling the, bearish company’s story. Those are stories that take a skeptical look at a company’s finances or at their strategy. Now when these stories would come out a lot of times there’d be a big share price reaction. Sometimes the stock exchanges would halt the stock sometimes regulators would get involved. One time a CEO went to jail for 10 years, a couple of companies went out of business, and as this happened the story really weighed heavily on me and what I realized is it’s not just somebody as investment portfolio it could be their retirement account it could be your ability if you work at one of these companies to show up in the morning or if you are a customer of the products and services that these kind of companies have that also would be impacted. And so I just started to think about how could I have greater confidence and conviction in my own decision making and given that I had a very nice middle middle-class background outside of Boston, as you also mentioned that’s also a limited background, and so how could I better confront my own mental shortcuts. At the time new research was coming out how we all had these heuristic these sort of shortcuts that tend to impede our ability to see new information as we were talking about. And so I just thought this idea of the beginner’s mind that’s hubris, I can’t look at a data set and just say I’m going to be objective now and be objective. And so instead I thought, you know what, given my background in research what about the idea of putting together a research process. Could I basically invert that and instead of saying I’m going to be objective just acknowledge I’m a flawed thinker and set up a construct that would allow me to work with and works through ambiguity so that I could better focus on the incentives and motives of the sources who are giving me their stories and have an opportunity to control for and counteract some of my own mental shortcuts so that I could, as you explained before expand my knowledge while improving my judgment. And so that’s really how I came up with A.R.E A.R.E.A it was an attempt to do a more ethical job at Barron’s and have greater confidence and conviction than my own decision making. 

 

Jim Rembach:    When you started talking about being able to apply this I don’t suspect that you had a nice little system together and then Boom! you had success. How long did it take for you to actually know and refine and iterate and know that you had something that could be repeatable and leveraged by others? 

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     For me the linchpin moment was recognizing that I wanted a perspective-taking system. The reason why perspective-taking is so powerful is it gives you a beautiful two-for-one. As you walk in somebody else’s footsteps you not only better understand their incentives and motives but you also push yourself out of your own perspective which gives you an ability to sort of better confront your own assumptions and judgments. And so the thing that I recognized that really was the game changer was this idea of separating out our sources and that’s why you have absolute and then the next concentric circle of information is relative and then the twin engines of creativity the E which is exploration and exploitation and then the final A, analysis. And so for me understanding that this separation of sources could allow me to better able to sass out incentives and motives and confront my biases, that was the moment that I realized that I was onto something that I wanted to continually refine, iterate. And then when I was invited to teach at Columbia University first at the Graduate School of Journalism and now the Business School where I’ve been for the last decade or so, I noticed it didn’t matter who tried the system it worked for students at the journalism school that have any business or financial background students at the business school who didn’t know anything about interviewing with this powerful combination of the perspective-taking and this ability to understand how to talk to other people to understand their frame of reference really seem to help people to better problem-solve and to strengthen their relationships. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, so when I start thinking about the effect and impact—okay, you kind of had some a given lab sitting right there with all of the students, have you been able to leverage it back into the investigative journalism arena?

 

Cheryl Strauss:    I certainly use it in my own stories. Actually I talk about in the book in the exploration chapter one of the big investigative pieces that I did for foreign policy magazine and ProPublica which was a story about the World Bank. I go through how I think about applying those different steps when I discussed that story and of course I’ve now been very fortunate to use it at different companies and also with nonprofits and in some low-income schools. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I can think the whole perspective taking piece while we can recognize that that is important that we often have an issue with speed. Meaning that going through and trying to solve big problems it takes significantly more prep work and effort and all of that investigative piece you’re talking about, however, I need to move on this. So, how can people especially in a business environment make sure that they’re not shortchanging and shortcutting the framework and compromising themselves? 

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     I would say two things, we are in an environment where we constantly feel this need for speed. Our technology works so quickly for us and we’ve sort of really learned that things should come rapidly to us. But in order to invest in an uncertain future that is valuable to you need to be able to have time for thoughtful reflection and you need to know when to slow down and what to do when you slow down and those pauses really refresh. So you end up getting your work to better work for you. If you come into complex problem-solving and you just assume that it should go very rapidly you’re not really making an investment in yourself and in the relationships that you’re engaging. I do think that while something like A.R.E.A.  is meant to be repeatable and flexible and you should be able to use it in the way that you want so you may apply all of it or you may only apply some steps at any one given time because we’re all resource bound this idea that you want to take the time to learn the system so it can be an operating system for you is an investment in your ability to do exactly that. And as you mentioned before I build in what I call cheetah pauses, so why the cheetah? The Cheetah’s prodigious hunting skill is not its ability to accelerate like a racecar it’s actually that it decelerates by up to nine miles an hour in a single stride. In hunting that’s far more valuable than the acceleration because that deceleration that is where you get agility flexibility and maneuverability those are all the things that you really want in a quality research and decision-making system for you. So as you’re going through the area mapping I continually have suggestions for where to take a cheetah pause and when I suggest that even more importantly I have a cheetah sheet which tells you, okay, so what? What do you want to do now? And it provides you with either where to look for sources of information that may be useful for where you are in the process or what kind of analysis might you want to apply to the information that you’ve gathered.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, so when I’m thinking about the area method and who can best leverage this for me I started moving and gravitating towards people who are actually in that strategic planning, strategic decision-making part of an organization. I mean do you find that others and operations can actually leverage this as well? Or is it pretty much just in that strategic realm area?

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     The really nice thing is it can be for every type of person it doesn’t matter. One of the things that’s been so interesting since the book has come out is the different types of places that have asked me for instance to give talks to their employers or to their customers everything from meditation and wellness organizations to groups that are helping people re-enter the workforce to startup companies to Fortune 500 companies it doesn’t matter where you work or what you are doing the A.R.E.A. method is there to help you with both personal and professional decisions. Actually this week I launched a podcast for the first time where I am interviewing people who are using the A.R.E A method. What are you using it for? How are you using it? What works and what doesn’t? And the person who I interviewed for this first podcast he used it for his honeymoon. Who would ever think that you would take an analytic decision-making system and apply it to something as romantic as a honeymoon? And what was so fun about the interview and you can access it at my website which is areamethod.com is that he said it’s exactly the kind of problem you want to apply it to. 

 

Here you have a vacation that has much greater import than any vacation you’ve taken before. You’re starting a new family. You’re also probably likely to spend more than you’ve spent on other vacations. You’re also spending it at a time where you’re making a lot of other big money decisions because you’re planning a wedding at the same time. In addition while of course you just want to assume that it’s going to be relaxing and fun there’s actually the planning fallacy that gets in the way of this idea that the vacation should just be perfect on its own. And so putting in this up one time to think about, well, what kind of honeymoon did they want? How would they know it succeeded for them? Identifying their critical concepts was not only a fascinating interview but turned out to be something that for them was an incredibly successful usage for A.R.E.A. but of course, I never could have imagined.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well I can definitely see how that honeymoon decision was probably bigger than any business decision he could ever make that would actually affect your life forever and beyond wouldn’t it? When we start talking about making some of these decisions and really learning from them failing from them all those things that are important to us from that growth perspective is that oftentimes we have to look towards quotes in order to help direct us. And so is there a quote or two that you like that you can share?

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     Sure there’s a Voltaire quote that I love, which is, judge a man by his questions rather than his answers. I think that’s essentially showing up for other people and the perspective taking and the ability to ask other people where they are and why they are where they are and what evidence they’re using to formulate their stance or their reasoning is something that can really help to bring us together and to holistically solve our problems when we’re involving other stakeholders in our decisions. 

 

Jim Rembach:    One of the things I liked about the A.R.E.A.  method is that oftentimes with our decision making it’s iterative, we have that gray matter that we need to navigate. You actually talked about the steps actually building upon one another and radiating out and providing as a feedback loop. So, when you start looking at the area method and the speed and decision-making and we talked about speed being important does that feedback loop process actually assist with shortening? Have you proven that shortens the decision making timeline and cycle? 

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     it certainly can but the idea is that not all investigations are linear nor should they be so at times you need to be driven back into **all of the process. That’s really part of the beauty of A.R.E.A.  is this concept of, can I make my mistakes before I make them? You can’t do that all the time but sometimes you can. The exercises that are in the area e part, exploitation, help you with that because it forces you to confront your own assumptions and judgments with evidence. I find for my students, for companies, or individuals, or nonprofits that I work with it’s often those exercises in exploitation their drive people back into **your parts of the process. Because you’d rather get to a decision that has a good outcome for you then get to a decision quickly. 

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a good point. Now one of the things that we will look at is times where others have had mistakes, you talked about me making a mistake before I make it or avoiding one is also important, and so that’s why we share on the show. Is there a time where you’ve had to get over the hump something you’ve learned where we maybe not make that same mistake?

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     One of the things that you mentioned in my bio is just sort of critical to how I’ve developed as a person. That was this idea that—my father who was such an important person—we traveled around the world following him and sitting at some of his speeches that he gave and going into the hospital with him on vacations or on weekends many times trying to figure out who he was as a person and recognizing that when somebody’s busy up here doesn’t mean that you want to just let the situation be. The onus is on us to try to figure out how to create that safe space for other people to enter it so that we really can build relationships which is what gives us our quality of life. This idea that something so simple, this idea of the question was just a something that was transformational in my life. For a long time he would not make it home for dinner or not be available even when he was at home and figuring out that I didn’t want to give up and that relationships are integral to our quality of life. And this idea that how do you asks something so somebody can enter into it? This idea of open versus closed questions. The fact that there are knowledge questions versus information questions versus opinion questions versus feeling questions and that you want to use these at different times with different people because otherwise we come into a situation we assume we know what’s going on. I don’t know if this has happened to you but this has happened to me many times, I’ll come home from an evening or an event or an episode that has occurred and when I confer with the person who I was with we’ve had entirely different experiences. And so understanding that where I am may not be where somebody else is and constantly having that opportunity to check in because I can ask a question, that allows me hopefully to really not only prevent misunderstandings which can be very detrimental to us emotionally as well as in our work life and so on, is something that I think is just available to everybody who wants to give it a try and I think that’s really nice. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I think it is, I’m looking forward to you especially with two teenagers and soon to have a third I think I need to really step back and have more Cheetah moments for sure but then also have this framework so that I can actually remove some of the emotional aspects and the frustrations and stuff just dealing with those kids who don’t have a whole lot of prefrontal cortex development yet, within their judgement. 

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     So somebody who has three kids and two of them have come through most of the teenage years and one who’s still there it’s not removing emotion it’s this idea of working with emotion. Because the emotion is often what sets up these mental biases too. We stopped being able to process and our brain goes to something that we’ve done before or gives us an example that may not work and the fascinating thing about teenagers is who they are one minute is not who they are the next minute. We’re not quite as frenetic as they are even though we’re all inconsistent decision-makers ourselves. But this idea about working with and working through the ambiguity and giving yourself the opportunity to really look at it from their perspective is something that I think can really help because parenting is the toughest job in the world.

 

Jim Rembach:    Most definitely. As the saying goes you really can’t understand it until you’ve actually done it. When I start looking at the things that you have associated with the book, the teaching, all the work that you’re doing I’m sure you have a goal or two that you’d like to accomplish. But when you start thinking about just one of them what would one of your goals be that you can share?

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     Well, one of the very exciting things that’s come out of the publication of this book was that a national nonprofit called the future project approached me and said I love this and the number one ask for help that we get from high school principals is how to help teenagers make these decisions better. And so he asked me if I would put together a boot camp and see what would it look like to teach decision-making to high school students? And so on a rainy Sunday about a year ago I put together a boot camp for high school students from Newark, Brooklyn and Manhattan to learn part of the A.R.E.A.  method. When I thought about how did teenagers learn? They spend a lot of time on their phone or on their electronic devices. And so I developed a digital module, think of it like a web-based app that they can use on their phone or on a computer or a tablet that can give them an opportunity to develop some of the skills for A.R.E.A. And so last year I developed then a couple digital modules because that boot camp was so successful and three hundred students in nine high schools in five states actually use the prototype modules and that was very successful so this year I’ve actually set it up as a company that I’m calling, Decisive, and I’ve been building more of these blended digital experiences that students can use but interestingly I’ve also been using the modules in the corporate world, in my talks at conferences and at companies. And so a big goal for me is to really try to see what’s going to happen as

I continue to develop the modules now that I’m doing an expanded pilot that will launch in early 2019 in high schools and I’m using it for some businesses, what is this tend to give people in terms of their own professional development in terms of their ability to build a better culture for where they work or where they are interacting? How is this really giving them some of the skills to have greater confidence and conviction in their own decision-making? 

 

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

 

An even better place to work is an easy-to-use solution that gives you a continuous diagnostic on employee engagement along with integrated activities that will improve employee engagement and leadership skills in everyone. Using this award-winning 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. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time to do the Hump day Hoedown. Okay, the Hump day Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. We’ll ask you several questions but your job is to give us robust and rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, are you ready to hoedown? 

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     I’m try. 

 

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

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     Using the cheetah pause even more. 

 

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

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     The art of the question. 

 

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

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     I think it’s to be here now. This idea of really being present in the situation that you’re in so that you can have an opportunity to really connect with people. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What do you believe is one of your secrets that helps you lead in business or life? 

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     I think it’s my general joy for the day. 

 

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

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     One of my favorite books is, The art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin where he sort of breaks down this art of learning into what he calls smaller circles. I think this idea about taking a problem and breaking it down is something that I really like and I use an A.R.E.A.  I read the book not long ago and really recommend it. 

 

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

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     I would take the cheetah pause. I think when you’re in your twenties it’s hard to recognize the moment that you’re in. You’re moving quickly and you’re also don’t ** what’s going on around you, say that for other people but certainly I feel that way myself. If I could go back in time and say Cheryl put things in context and don’t granulize that’s the environment that I would give myself. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Cheryl, 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?

 

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn:     Certainly. First thank you so much for this opportunity I’ve really enjoyed it. I would hope that people will reach out to me at my website which is areamethod.com. And you can also contact me directly through that site and I look forward to hearing your feedback to help you make big decisions better. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast

Leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot!

 

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

 

END OF AUDIO 

 

 

Judd Hoekstra leadership podcast

129: Judd Hoekstra: I had all that junk swirling around in my head

Judd Hoekstra Show Notes

Judd Hoekstra got into a downward spiral. He got to the point where he was putting emphasis in the wrong area. It created a huge negative cycle for him and he didn’t even want to show up. That’s when Judd decided to reframe the negative thoughts running through his mind. Listen as Judd shares how you can get over the hump.

Judd Hoekstra was born and raised in Edina, Minnesota with two brothers, one older and one younger than Judd; his parents are still married and living in Minnesota.

He grew up with a passion for sports and any competitive activity. He was part of teams that excelled and teams that floundered. He was interested in knowing why so he began to study leadership at Cornell University where he also played hockey and baseball.

Early in his career he worked for Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) in the Change Management practice. He focused on how to lead people through change, both personal and organizational change.

Judd is the co-author of Leading at a Higher Level and Who Killed Change with leadership guru Dr. Ken Blanchard. Judd’s most recent book, Crunch Time: How to be your Best when it Matters Most, coauthored with professional baseball pitching coach Rick Peterson, reveals the secrets of how to be your best under pressure.

He has also developed multiple leadership training programs and tools for The Ken Blanchard Companies, a premier leadership training and coaching company. Judd received Blanchard’s prestigious Founders’ Award faster than anyone in the 37-year history of the company. The award recognizes Judd for his outstanding contribution to Blanchard’s intellectual property.

Judd currently serves as Vice President, Central Region at The Ken Blanchard Companies. In this role, he serves on a sales leadership team responsible for developing sales strategies with accountability for creating customer devotion, enhancing Blanchard’s purpose-driven, high-performance culture, as well as top-line revenue growth and bottom-line profitability. He is also responsible for leading a team of sales consultants to achieve individual and team performance targets.

Judd earned his bachelor’s in business management and marketing from Cornell University, where he played hockey and baseball. He also graduated from the Advanced Business Management Program at Kellogg School of Management. Judd and his wife, Sherry, live in the Chicago area and are the proud parents of Julia and Cole.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“We’re hard wired in ways that don’t help us right now.” -Judd Hoekstra Click to Tweet

“Physical survival isn’t the threat, they’re more psychological in nature.” -Judd Hoekstra Click to Tweet 

“Pause and recognize when your reflex reaction isn’t doing what you need.” -Judd Hoekstra Click to Tweet 

“Choose a different thought that will serve you better.” -Judd Hoekstra Click to Tweet 

“A lot of the thoughts that come into our heads aren’t helping us.” -Judd Hoekstra Click to Tweet 

“In pressure situations, common thoughts are fear, worry, and doubt.” -Judd Hoekstra Click to Tweet 

“The deadly trio of demotivators are fear, worry, and doubt.” -Judd Hoekstra Click to Tweet 

“You don’t have to succumb to fear, worry, and doubt.” -Judd Hoekstra Click to Tweet 

“Think differently about a pressure situation and see it as an opportunity.” -Judd Hoekstra Click to Tweet 

“Our instinctive reaction is to be focused on preventing catastrophe.” -Judd Hoekstra Click to Tweet 

“I need to focus on the success I’m trying to achieve.” -Judd Hoekstra Click to Tweet 

“With how much information we’re taking in, the simpler the better.” -Judd Hoekstra Click to Tweet 

“Are you willing to pay the price to distinguish yourself from the rest.” -Judd Hoekstra Click to Tweet 

“You have no right to be your own worst coach.” -Judd Hoekstra Click to Tweet 

“We all have that swirling negative self-talk that goes through our head.” -Judd Hoekstra Click to Tweet 

“Your mind is important to your performance.” -Judd Hoekstra Click to Tweet 

“Every single person struggles with being their best under pressure.” -Judd Hoekstra Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Judd Hoekstra got into a downward spiral. He got to the point where he was putting emphasis in the wrong area. It created a huge negative cycle for him and he didn’t even want to show up. That’s when Judd decided to reframe the negative thoughts running through his mind. Listen as Judd shares how you can get over the hump.

Advice for others

Learn to reframe. It is the key to quickly change your mental state to look at something not as a threat but as an opportunity. And take advantage of that opportunity.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Prioritization. Where should I be spending my time and am I spending it in the right place.

Best Leadership Advice

Be yourself. Be authentic.

Secret to Success

A desire to compete and win.

Best tools that helps in Business or Life

Having a sincere desire to help others.

Recommended Reading

Crunch Time: How to Be Your Best When It Matters Most

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

Contacting Judd

Website: http://www.juddhoekstra.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/juddhoek

Resources and Show Mentions

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

 

Show Transcript: 

Click to access edited transcript

129: Judd Hoekstra: I had all that junk swirling around in my head

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

 

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

 

Jim Rembach:  Okay, Fast Leader legion I’m excited because on today’s show I have somebody who is helping to bring together two things that I love that’s helping people move onward and upward faster and baseball. Judd Hoekstra was born and raised in a Edina, Minnesota with two brothers one older and one younger than Judd, parents are still married and actually living in Minnesota. Judd grew up with a passion for sports and any competitive activity. He was part of teams that excelled and teens that floundered. He was interested in knowing why so he began to study leadership at Cornell University where he played hockey and baseball. 

 

Early in his career Judd worked with Andersen 2consulting now Accenture and change management practices and also focused on how to lead people through change both personal and organizational change. And he’s currently the co-author of Crunch Time: How to be Your Best When it Matters Most with Rick Peterson, Currently Judd serves as the Vice President of Central Region at Ken Blanchard companies. In his role he serves on a sales leadership team responsible for developing sales strategies, accountability for creating customer devotion, enhancing Blanchard’s Purpose Driven high performance culture as well as top-line revenue growth and bottom line profitability. He’s also responsible for leading a team of sales consultants to achieve individual and team performance targets. This role gives Judd the opportunity to use methods he shares within his book. He also graduated from the advanced business management program at Kellogg School of Management. Judd and his wife Sheri live in Naperville, Illinois with his two kids Julia and Cole. Judd Hoekstra, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Judd Hoekstra:  Absolutely. 

 

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

 

Judd Hoekstra:  Sure. My passion for a long time has been actually to help people be their best and to help them overcome some of their probably self-imposed constraints, if you will. Things that maybe hold them back that they don’t even realize are holding them back and so that really is what helped me get into the idea of how do you perform your best under pressure. I’ll share a little story Jim that some of my toughest moments in life and worst moments frankly that ones that give me nightmares still are the times that I choked under pressure. And then as a parent when you see your children going through pressure situations and if you see them struggling and not their best and knowing that they’re not performing up to their potential whether it be testing, idea or whether it be in sports sort of try out, it kind of leaves you heartbroken that they’re not able to pull it together when they need it and so I kind of felt like this is a problem that needed to be solved both for myself as well as those around me. 

 

Jim Rembach:  And I would dare to say you know getting the opportunity to look over the book and the more and more that I read into it it’s one of those things that while it does have the sport context attached to it I mean really this is a life book. 

 

Judd Hoekstra:  It is, absolutely. We use the sports stories and analogies because number one there’s experts who have figured this out already in sports and second of all I think it makes it easier for us to learn in a situation that maybe isn’t exactly like ours because it lowers our defenses so we can learn from these stories and then we can figure out which situations are we in and how do we apply those same principles to our pressure situations. 

 

Jim Rembach:  Well and I like it too because it really fits into what really I’ve done with the Fast Leader show. We talk about life hacks in order to help people move onward and upward faster but the fact is that it’s about doing things correctly and having that self-awareness and learning from the stories of others that’s really going to help us move onward and upward faster. In the book you talk about working harder and that’s one of the myths. When I look at a lot of the things in this book they’re really common practice debunk things, I mean, it’s like this is what we do socially this is what we actually communicate and we passed down generations socially however these are bad practices.

 

Judd Hoekstra:  Exactly. Exactly, there’s a lot of truth to that I think. We’re hardwired in ways that don’t help us right now that maybe helped us in much earlier times than we’re facing today. Primitive times where physical survival was really the name of the game and now for most of us especially I’m sure your listeners, physical survival really isn’t the threat the  threats are psychological in nature. So, we’ve got hardwiring that helps us against physical threats but actually hurts us in psychological threats. 

 

Jim Rembach:  I think as I was reading through and even listening to you talk I started thinking about the whole concept of—hey, if I’m not doing well or not performing well then I need to work harder. That works great if I’m harvesting and having to bring things in from the field but that’s not the way that work today. It requires a whole lot of complex thinking as well as being aware of not just our emotions but everyone else’s emotions around us in order for us to get work done. So, we have to start thinking differently than we have in the past.

 

Judd Hoekstra:  Yeah, absolutely, well said.

 

Jim Rembach:  And I think one of the things that for me and you had the theme throughout the book you were talking about reframing. Tell us a little bit about reframing? 

 

Judd Hoekstra:  Reframing is really recognizing when you’re kind of reflexive reaction to a situation isn’t serving you well in choosing to take a different perspective on that same situation a different viewpoint that will actually serve you more effectively. There’s a couple steps with it, one is just pausing and recognizing when you’re kind of reflexive reaction isn’t doing what it needs to be doing for you and then second is actually choosing a different thought. Many of us think that we’re a slave to our thinking, if a thought comes into our head we have to act on that and the problem is that a lot of the thoughts that come into our head aren’t helping us. In pressure situations we face common thoughts or fear, worry, and doubt we call those the deadly trio of de-motivators. You don’t have to act on the fear when in doubt, you don’t have to succumb to it and you can choose different thoughts. The major theme of the book is how do you reframe, how do you think differently about a pressure situation when the natural reaction is to think of it as a threat and how do we actually learn to see it as an opportunity.

 

Jim Rembach:  And I think one of the things that for me stood out is more and more in in both work as well as personally we have to do a better job at coaching those that are coming behind us. I think too often we just kind of leave things to their own devices and we don’t proactively address them. If we don’t proactively address them we get the negative consequences that is often referred to as choking, choking under pressure, choking with the test where if you know we were actually to address those things in a proactive manner and doing it doing it in a way that really is going to promote the positive outcome is what we have to really start designing and thinking about doing. For example, people say you shouldn’t tell your kid not to go in the street, what we should tell them is to stay in the yard. I coach baseball and I tell my kids when they go up to bat what I say is that, I know in your head you’re saying to yourself don’t strike out I said but what you need to be saying to yourself is I’m going to it. You know where the strike zone is if the ball is within that strike zone you need to tell yourself I’m going to hit it but it doesn’t change the outcome.

 

Judd Hoekstra:  Yes, it’s what your focus is on and I think again it goes back to—again unfortunately our instinctive reaction is to be focused on preventing catastrophe, preventing failure, preventing loss and you’re exactly right it needs to be flipped you need to kind of flip that switch in your head and say, I need to focus on the success I’m trying to achieve. I play golf and it’s a classic example is you’re standing on the tee and you see water on both sides and the first thought that naturally goes through your head is don’t hit it in the water. The reality is the minute you start saying that you’ve put that thought in your head it’s much more likely to happen whereas if you said strike this thing right down the center of the fairway you’re much more likely to achieve that.

 

Jim Rembach:  Yeah, and I think for me being influenced on this whole visualization programming your subconscious mind to really allow you to execute is something that were not very mindful of. So when you start thinking about both in leadership development and you have a team that you’re working with sales development, what do you find is one of the most common conversations that you’re proactively having with people to get them focused in the right way?

 

Judd Hoekstra:  Yeah, I think I think especially in sales, one of the things that people focus on too much is their big goal for the year—hey, I’ve got to sell two million dollars this year and I’ve got that wrapped in my head and I wake up in the morning and I think about that two million dollars and I go to bed and I’m thinking about that two million dollars that I got to achieve, the reality is that’s really distracting it actually causes you to get stressed, it causes you to worry. It can in some ways motivate you to take action but actually once you realize, what are the actions I actually need to take to achieve that goal to break it down into very bite-sized pieces and to get people back focused on the activities that are going to lead to the achievement of that two million dollar goal.

 

I’ve talked about it in the book that I think salespeople get distracted by the numbers and I think that the reality is how you get to the numbers is more important. Having great quality interactions with your customers with the prospective customers that you’re working with and setting a target for how many of those you’re going to do each day so that it doesn’t become so daunting it appears very achievable to you and is achievable and actually then gradually building on that. If you’re starting with two quality interactions a day with your customers build on that and try to get to three after you’ve really gotten it honed in where you’re getting two a day for a couple of weeks then build it up to three and so on. You’re going to start seeing the results of that activity in your numbers but instead of looking in the rearview mirror at your numbers you’re actually looking ahead and saying what activities I need to take to drive the numbers. 

 

Jim Rembach:  And the word that you use in the book is called chunking. When you started thinking about you know chunking, and I see this happen in a lot of different ways and I’m even trying to merely just have a conversation with one of my kid’s teachers where they were giving him way too many instructions and he wasn’t even able to figure out his first step. You need to give him smaller pieces and so that he can have that one step be an easier step because that inertia will also allow him and help him to take the second step. If you put too much weight on top of his shoulder and it becomes too complex you know he’s not going to be able to move forward. I think we do that a lot of times when we think about the workplace where we give people a particular task and we give them all the details and all of the information we’re like, I need to tell them everything they need to know but that’s a mistake or a failure as what you’re saying.

 

Judd Hoekstra:    It is. It is. With how fast the world is moving and how much information we’re all taking in the simpler the better. I actually have a colleague of mine that affectionately refers to it as, let’s think like a donkey let’s keep it really simple let’s make sure that we’re making it simple if we spend an hour as sales that you’re sitting in a room figuring something out and we communicate it to our sales teams the people that are out there on the frontline selling they didn’t have the benefit of sitting in the meeting with us for an hour and talking through they need to be able to get it quickly. How do we actually boil it down to its essence and make it simple and easily executable?

 

Jim Rembach:    Now you had the opportunity to co-write this book with Rick Peterson who is soon to be I’m sure a Hall of Fame coach.

 

Judd Hoekstra:    Yeah, he is absolute genius as a coach.

 

Jim Rembach:    When you started working with him with all the experiences that you’ve already had with the Blanchard companies and even being in a leadership role yourself, what was one thing that kind of just stood out like a huge epiphany for you?

 

Judd Hoekstra:    One of the things that he said to his pitchers—and he talks about—he brings this big huge cardboard check, like the one that they give to the golfers after they win a tournament, and he brings a check like that and it has five million dollars written on it and he asked his pitchers in spring training, who of you wants to be able to cash this check? And all the hands go up. And then he says, okay, let me tell you what it’s going take to be able to cash this cheque and he goes through and he has a very systematic way of developing pitchers and task by task by task he knows what good job looks like he knows what success looks like he coaches them on it but he says, now that you know what it takes how many of you are willing to pay the price to do that? Not all the hands go up so. I think the thing that’s interesting to me is when you get to the major leagues what he said is everybody’s got talent and in our workplaces there are a lot of people with a lot of talent but what’s going to distinguish between the talented people is are you willing to pay the price and it’s really often a price that others aren’t willing to pay to be your best and to separate yourself and distinguish yourself. 

 

So, one of things I’ve learned from him is his preparation is second to none. His ability to prepare himself and his pitchers to know exactly what could happen in the game and to be ready for any in every situation. That allows him to remain so calm when the heat is actually on whereas those that haven’t thought through all those situations in advance they’re having to think through him on the fly and they’re more likely to panic. And so, I think just his preparation there’s a whole chapter on the light bulb went off for me that what I thought was good preparation I’ve learned mediocre preparation at best and that’s what great preparation looks like and is more akin to what Rick does in getting his pitchers ready and getting himself ready for major league action.

 

Jim Rembach:  When I would dare to say, because even when you were talking I started thinking of, well the preparation—I have to work harder. But no, that’s not it because one of the things that you talked about with Rick and with many of the coaches as well as business leaders is that they just think differently. They look for ways to do things easier. They look for the things that when you start talking about chunking them down to their smallest sub-essence that when we do those things it’s going to lead to the outcome that we want.

 

Judd Hoekstra:  Absolutely. I’d love to share a story if you don’t mind. It’s the story that actually opens up the book and it’s the 2001 American League playoffs the Oakland A’s are coming into Yankee Stadium it’s shortly after September 11 the nation as a whole is sort of pulling for New York knowing what they’ve been through and the A’s going there they’re up against it they’re up against the Yankees, they’re up against the sentimental favorite in many cases. What happened is the Oakland A’s take it to 2-0 lead. They’re going to the bottom of the ninth inning and they bring out their closer Jason Isringhausen who’s referred to as Izzy by his teammates. As he steps on the mound and he walks the first two batters, now you’ve 2-0 lead but you’ve got the winning run coming to the play and it happens to be someone that earlier in the season had hit a home run off of him and someone standing in the on-deck circle had also hit a home run off of him. 

 

So, now he’s feeling threatened and Rick could see from the dugout that Izzy wasn’t right he on the back of the mound and you could see he was tense Jason Giambi the first baseman went over to talk to him to try to calm him down he still looked tense so Rick goes out there calls time and says it puts his arm around his shoulder, and that’s one of things that Rick did all the time in his major-league careers he would put his arm on his shoulder just as a sense of saying it’s just you and me just the two of us out here even though there’s 57,000 fans screaming at you it’s just the two of us let’s have a quiet conversation out here on the mound. And he says, Izzy how you doing and Rick could feel his whole body shaking. And Izzy said, Rick I can’t even feel my legs right now I’m so nervous and he said, well don’t worry about it, Izzy we need you to kick a field goal. 

 

So, he lightened the mood by obviously cracking a joke providing humor which sort of—Izzy immediately starts laughing sort of lets out a big exhale. And then what Rick did after that in addition to kind of loosening him up a little bit was he got him focused back on the task and so he said, forget about the runners on base, forget about the crowd screaming at you, forget about the umpire in fact forget about the batter all you’ve got to do is throw the ball in the catcher’s glove where the catcher’s glove is set up and you’ve done that millions of times before in your life this is so easy for you Izzy. He got him focused back on the task and ran back to the dugout Izzy strikes out gets a couple guys to pop out game over, A’s win. In 30 seconds or less he had him back on track from a guy who was about to have a meltdown.

 

Jim Rembach:  I think even being able to recognize and connect with the individual then doing what  Coach Peterson did is really going to differentiate the leader of tomorrow from the leader of yesteryear.  When you start thinking about all of these things and even that story, it’s just loaded with emotion, one of the things that we look at on the Fast Leader show are quotes to help us focus sometimes give us some inspiration and make sure we’re head in the right direction. Is their quote or to that you can share?

 

Judd Hoekstra:  There’s a lot of them in the book. One of them that comes to mind is when you think about the junk that goes through your head when you’re under pressure and the negative self-talk and the criticism a lot of us think, gosh, why am I even here? I have no chance at this, people are going to laugh at me if I don’t succeed or when I fail they’re going to laugh at me, what are people going to think of me and one of the things that Rick has said was you have no right to be your own worst coach what would you think if I talk to you that way as your coach? You’d think I was a jerk. That’s one of my favorite quotes because we all have that swirling negative self-talk that goes through our head that’s instinctive. Again were hardwired with that and we have to fight against that and he’s just saying listen if anybody else talked to you the way that you talked to you, you wouldn’t be allowed to be the coach. So, why do you let yourself coach yourself that way? His whole point is learn how to coach yourself the way that I would coach you as opposed to the way that you’re coaching yourself right now.

 

Jim Rembach:  I think that’s a great piece of advice because most of the time mine’s yelling at me.  

 

Judd Hoekstra:  Mine too. 

 

Jim Rembach:  With all of this, and even know we’re talking about in the book and the work that we’re referring to really helps people get over the hump, we have to get over our own hump like you’re saying a lot of times we create our own that we have to get over, is there time that you’ve had to get over the hump that you can share with us?

 

Judd Hoekstra:  Yeah, absolutely. Interestingly enough when I was playing hockey growing up, I grew up in Minnesota and it was it was a little bit like football in Texas and baseball in Florida and basketball in Indiana it’s the sport that everybody wants to play, I grew up dreaming of playing for my local high school team and my senior year I made the varsity and was excited to be playing and couldn’t wait to get into the season and got into a scenario where I basically got into a downward spiral. I started out and I was playing on the third line out of four lines and that quickly went to the fourth line of four lines and I wasn’t getting the ice time that I was used to getting and I had all that junk swirling around in my head and I got to the point where I said every time I step on the ice I can’t get scored against, I was a forward so my job was to actually score goals and to set up my teammates for goals, and that was putting all the emphasis in the wrong area because I knew if I got scored against I might get sat even more and I wouldn’t get any more playing time and so this just created this huge negative cycle for me. It got to the point that I didn’t even want to show up at the rink by the end of the season and it was a moment that sticks with me even though it was more than 25 years ago. 

 

And then I go to the point where I said—the season passed and I got to the summer and there’s a summer hockey league going on and I thought just go out and enjoy the sport that you’ve loved your whole life just go and play for fun. At that particular point in time I didn’t have any aspirations to play any further didn’t know I was going to be playing in college, I said, just go out and have fun. I went out played my best hockey I’ve ever played and it was because I didn’t focus on all the things that could possibly go wrong. I didn’t focus on what were the consequences going to be if I made a mistake, I just said, just go play and I had the skills already so that was the frustrating part of when I wasn’t doing well, is that I had the skill and I had the talent and I just didn’t use it. And so, that was a big lesson to me that nothing had changed with my skill set from the end of the season to the summer league that players that I was playing against with the same competition nothing was really different other than my mind, it really kind of kicked me off on this journey to say how important your mind is your performance.

 

Jim Rembach:  It’s a great lesson for all of us to stop and reflect upon. I kind of envy you that you came to some of that realization so early on, I think I will not listen last week.  

 

Judd Hoekstra:  It was painful but I can tell you that I’m glad as well. I wasn’t glad at the time that I was going through it but I’m really glad now because having that adversity early and then learning a way around has been instrumental to later parts of my career both in business as well as parenting.

 

Jim Rembach:  The parenting thing brings back so many of those memories of me going through what you’re talking about and I try not to set my kids up for the same failures. Like what you’re saying earlier when we first started talking you see your kids go through those things and you feel their pain and anguish and you just don’t want them to feel that way. When you started thinking about the book, you’ve co-authored a couple other books the work that you’re doing with the Blanchard Companies, family, you’ve got a lot of things going on, what’s one of your goals?

 

Judd Hoekstra:  I really have a goal with this book around crunch time to have it positively impact as many people as possible. The opportunity to do that through a book and certainly you have a large following yourself and to be able to come on and speak with you and have the word get out to many others, that’s a goal of mine. And just to not have people go through the pain that I personally have gone through and that I’ve seen others go through if they can avoid that by learning some lessons. One of the things that I’ve been I guess really heartened by is every single person I talked to struggles with being their best under pressure there’s not a single person—I mean, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or whether you’re the highest level ranking executive whether you’re a kid facing a test whether you’re at a piano recital every single person has their own pressure situations and every single person without this help is going to struggle and is going to face the same thing that I talked about, it was so painful. So, my goal is that we have less people experiencing that pain and more people experiencing the joy of actually saying, WOW! When the lights were brightest I was ready and I perform my best and that’s really the overarching goal is to make a positive difference in those people’s lives whoever the readers might be.

 

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 Judd, the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going 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. Judd Hoekstra, are you to hoedown? 

 

Judd Hoekstra:  Let’s do it. 

 

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

 

Judd Hoekstra:  For me, it’s all about prioritization. Where should I be spending my time and am I spending it in the right places and there’s times I feel like I’m not.

 

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

 

Judd Hoekstra:  Be yourself. Be authentic. 

 

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

 

Judd Hoekstra:  Desire to compete and win. 

 

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

 

Judd Hoekstra:  I believe it’s a sincere desire to help others. I think if your heart’s not there in the right place to start with it’s going to be tough to lead.

 

Jim Rembach:  What would be one book that you’d recommend to our listeners, and it could be from any genre, of course we’re going to put a link to Crunch Time: How to be your best when it Matters Most, on your show notes page as well. 

 

Judd Hoekstra:  I’d have to say one of my favorites is, Good to Great by Jim Collins.

 

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

 

Judd Hoekstra:  I’d have to say it would be reframing. Because it is the key to being able to quickly change your mental state to be able to look at something that is originally threatening and see it as an opportunity to take advantage of that opportunity and it’s a skill that I didn’t learn until after 25 but certainly glad I’ve got it now and I would love to take it back to when I was 25.

 

Jim Rembach:  Judd, 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?

 

Judd Hoekstra:  Sure. The best way to reach me is at Judd at juddhoekstra.com or at my website. 

 

Judd Hoekstra, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot!

 

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

 

END OF AUDIO

 

 

128: Nat Greene: I found an inability to find reasonable people

Nat Greene Show Notes

Nat Greene has become a bit disillusioned by the direction of the country. The reason is because he has not been able to find reasonable people to find a reasonable discussion on things. People can’t pause and have a decent discussion and think about problems and work through them. He finds they have already dug in on a position without really looking into the problem.

Nat Greene was raised in Hong Kong with his parents and sister Pat. He attended high school in which his class spoke 40 languages and hailed from 50 countries, but perhaps his favorite education was walking around Hong Kong with his father—a professor of Metallurgy—learning about how different metals corroded and failed. Nat became quietly obsessed with engineering and fixing what was broken.

Nat left for the UK to receive a Master’s degree from Oxford University in Engineering Science and a PGC from Cambridge in Design, Manufacturing & Management. After moving to the United States, he attended the Harvard Business School Owner/President Management program and joined the Young Presidents’ Organization to improve his organizational leadership skills.

Out of school Nat became a professional problem solver, and then co-founded Stroud in 2001, at the age of 28. He has led its growth into a global business, delivering unparalleled performance improvement results for businesses across the world. Nat’s Abundant Thinking mindset serves as Stroud’s guiding compass, and his vision for personal and professional development have helped Stroud win more of Consulting Magazine’s “Best Small Firm to Work For” awards than any firm in history.

In 2015 Nat co-founded ReConsider, expanding his mission of unleashing potential beyond business and into the American democracy. His long-term vision is to re-build the middle-ground in US politics and enable the US political system to expand prosperity for all Americans into the 21st century. Here he co-authored Wedged, which examines the root causes behind American political polarization.

In 2016, he launched his latest project, Stop Guessing, aimed at developing a million great problem-solvers to solve the hardest and most pressing problems facing the world.

In life, Nat strives every day to leap out of bed with excitement for what awaits him, and surrounds himself with people that are always teaching and challenging him. He ardently pursues his goal to start 40 new ventures that leverage market forces to make a major positive impact on the world. Nat is married to his college sweetheart and together they have four children. They live in Marblehead, MA, by the ocean.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“You get less creative results when people sit in a room and brainstorm.” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

“When people brainstorm, you actually end up with very few options.” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

“Hard problems are immune to guess work.” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

“The success we have in solving simple problems handicaps us in approaching hard problems.” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

“When you’re guessing, you’re limiting yourself to the realm of the known.” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

“It’s very hard to guess something you don’t know.” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

“People call guessing nice words like hypothesis or idea.” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

“Get out there and smell the problem.” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

“You’ve got to use all your senses to study the problem.” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

“If you don’t know what your problem is, how could you possibly come up with the right solution.” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

“Great problem solvers; they just go look at the problem.” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

“When you can define a problem really well you’re half way to solving it.” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

“If you decide you’re not going to make progress, you’re certainly not.” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

“How would you behave if you told yourself solving the problem was simple?” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

“If there’s no process for people to solve problems, how can we move forward?” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet

“When you’re facing a hard problem, you’ve got to have hope.” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

“Without hope there’s no moving forward.” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

“With hope, you can do anything.” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

“It’s overwhelming when you try and do stuff far outside of your ability in one go.” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

“If you listen more it helps you understand people better.” -Nat Greene Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Nat Greene has become a bit disillusioned by the direction of the country. The reason is because he has not been able to find reasonable people to find a reasonable discussion on things. People can’t pause and have a decent discussion and think about problems and work through them. He finds they have already dug in on a position without really looking into the problem.

Advice for others

Stop guessing.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

I keep trying to jump the cliff in one bound. I need to break it down into manageable pieces.

Best Leadership Advice

About hiring and firing people at work. You need to ask yourself, ignoring the past and why you hired them. Knowing what you know about the position, would you hire the person.

Secret to Success

I’m lazy. I don’t like to do unnecessary things.

Best tools that helps in Business or Life

Problem solving.

Recommended Reading

Stop Guessing: The 9 Behaviors of Great Problem Solvers

The Accidental Superpower: The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder

Contacting Nat

Website: https://www.stroudinternational.com/

Blog: http://www.radicallybetter.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Greene_Nat

Resources and Show Mentions

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

 

Show Transcript: 

Click to access edited transcript

128: Nat Greene: I found an inability to find reasonable people

 

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

 

Need a powerful and entertaining way to ignite your next conference retreat or team building session? My keynote don’t include magic but they do have the power to help your attendees take a leap forward by putting emotional intelligence into their employee 

Engagement, customer-engagement and customer-centric leadership practices. So bring the infotainment creativity the Fast Leader show to your next event and I’ll help your attendees get over the hump now. Go to beyondmorale.com/speaking to learn more.

 

Jim Rembach:  Okay, Fast Leader Legion, today I’m excited because the guests that we have on the show today I think can help every single one of us in this world because he is the author of, Stop Guessing The 9 Behaviors of Great Problem Solvers. Nat Green was raised in Hong Kong with his parents and sister Pat. He attended High School in which his class spoke 40 languages and hailed from 50 countries but perhaps his favorite education was walking around Hong Kong with his father, a professor of metallurgy learning about how different metals corroded and failed. Nat became quietly obsessed with engineering and fixing what was broken. Nat left for the UK to receive his master’s degree from Oxford University in Engineering Science and a PGC from Cambridge InDesign, Manufacturing and Management. After moving to the United States he attended the Harvard Business School Owner/President Management program and joined the Young Presidents’ Organization to improve his organizational leadership skills. 

 

Out of school Nat became a professional problem solver, and then co-founded Stroud in 2001, at the age of 28. He has led its growth into a global business, delivering unparalleled performance improvement results for businesses across the world. Nat’s abundant thinking mindset serves as Stroud’s guiding compass. And his vision for personal and professional development have helped Stroud win more of Consulting Magazine’s “Best Small Firm to Work For” awards than any firm in history.

In 2015 Nat co-founded ReConsider, expanding his mission of unleashing potential beyond business and into the American democracy. His long-term vision is to re-build the middle-ground in US politics and enable the US political system to expand prosperity for all Americans into the 21st century. Here he co-authored Wedged, which examines the root causes behind American political polarization.

In 2016, he launched his latest project, Top Guessing, aimed at developing a million great problem solvers to solve the hardest and most pressing problems facing the world. In life Nat’s strives every day to leap out of bed with excitement for what awaits him and surrounds himself with people that are always teaching and challenging him. He ardently pursues his goal to start 40 new ventures that leverage market forces to make a major positive impact on the world. Nat is married to his college sweetheart and together they have four 4 children. They live in Marblehead, Massachusetts by the ocean. Nat Greene, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Nat Greene: I am. I’m looking forward to it.

 

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

 

Nat Greene: What I’m really passionate about is helping people make better decisions. I just see a large gap between what is happening in macro level in our society but also for individuals that I meet in day to day interactions between what they’re actually experiencing and what could be happening for them and the success they could have and personal sort of happiness and so on. My specific, because that’s very broad issue, my specific passion is about helping people become better problem solvers and better problem solvers on the hard problems that they face. So the problems that people may be pushed aside, started to ignore could be something like your health, maybe it’s not what you want it to be you tried a few things but then now you ignore it or it could be something at work, like there was some goal the organization wanted to achieve or you want to improve service levels and things and you tried and now you sort of accepted that it’s as good as you can get without doing something radical or complex like totally changing things. And those sorts of problems where people have tried and they’ve tried to help or you’ve worked hard at it and there may be many, many possible root causes it’s a complex situation and people don’t have the ability to go out there and win at it and so they’ve given up. 

 

Jim Rembach:  Gosh man, there’s so many things that just actually running through my head as you were talking and explaining trying to help people over these humps of making these decisions and that is—I started thinking about a couple things. One being is you know the issue associated with creative thinking. We know that we have to do a better job at our creative thinking in order to be able to innovate and see new pathways and perspectives and things like that and make those changes that are necessary. A lot of the research associated with creative thinking is revealing that as society’s more advanced, the modern Western societies when we start looking at the education systems and things like that we’re actually stripping out creative thinking you know as one of the just say tool sets or even muscle builders to be able to solve problems. So, how do you help people overcome that?

 

Nat Greene: Well it’s interesting cause what you say I think there are some different viewpoints on it. I’ve certainly seen some things and I can’t cite them off at the top of my head but I had seen some evidence that the people are actually—you get a less creative result when you have people sit in a room and brainstorm because what happens is you rapidly get group think. We know that in a situation with lots of people you can end up with someone who’s dominant or people respect more or sometimes there’s fear and in environments. And very rapidly when people start to brainstorm and come up with ideas which a lot of people would call a creative way of approaching a problem, you actually very rapidly end up with very few options. And what they’ve shown and what I’ve read is that you’re much better off having people think about a problem independently and then bringing together to share what they thought of then drive in what would be traditionally seen as a very creative way. This is particularly important with hard problems because hard problems are sort of immune to guesswork. 

 

If there’s two or three options the picture falls off your wall you hear it thump to the floor and you might think, “oh, why did that fall off the wall?” And everyone’s probably thought, well maybe the hook fell off, the wall was weak or maybe someone bumped it, but there’s any, really? We could spend an hour we probably only come up with four possible things that are sensible. I asked this yesterday at a meeting and one guy said, “Maybe there was a local increase in gravity.” That was way out there but there’s only a few items, right? When you have a really hard problem you have people trying to be creative to solve it then unless it’s pushing into the realm of unknown like things that humans don’t understand about at all. If it is a practical problem then you’re wasting your time because there might be ten thousand potential root causes and the chances you guessing it in a creative way are very slim. And again particularly if you’ve already had a lot of people have a go and so I’d say that creativity and problem-solving it’s great but you got to be very careful about what you even mean by it and I think with certain types of problems it’s exhausting.

 

Jim Rembach:  That’s a very interesting point. As you were taught talking about those things I started thinking about several things. First of all, I started think about the bias issue, you started talking about the groupthink, right? And we start also focusing on certain problems within the confines of the problem and so then we get into a divergent and convergent thinking problem. I don’t start thinking divergent and do that first and isolation and by itself I start combining the two, so that’s a problem. And then also the whole diversity issue, if I have some people who are similar backgrounds, similar personalities, similar positions and responsibilities there’s going to be an issue coming up with different perspectives. So, I think the whole pre-planning piece—and when you start thinking about people being able to overcome problems solved, how much effort do they put into that whole pre-planning piece before they tackle a problem do they actually do?

 

Nat Greene: It’s great. I think people have great intentions when intentions when it comes to problem solving, I just don’t think they have been trained in how to approach hard problems very well. And so I don’t see a lot of planning going on because people just haven’t been shown how to do it they don’t know how to approach and the behaviors haven’t been developed. But there are exceptions, there are some tremendously good problem solvers and people have been trained to great lengths and know how to do this and they approach in a very methodical way. Some of the people I’ve been able to study firsthand for the last 20 years in my career to see what it is they do. But by and large people behave in a new situation in a way they have in their everyday situation. There everyday situation is confronting relatively simple problems and guessing at them or having a group of people guess to get some broader perspective hopefully you get some diversity. If you’re going to guess you might as well have some people with different backgrounds and ideas you’re going to get a better outcome. But they’re used to that simple problems and then they just take that same approach to harder problems and of course it doesn’t work. Why would someone turn up in a new situation it requires a new skill and suddenly invent a new way of looking at things? The success that we have in solving simple problems by guessing it is almost like our biggest handicap when it comes to approaching hard problems.

 

Jim Rembach:  When you think about people guessing, where do you find most people fall down and really do themselves damage in regards to guessing?

 

Nat Greene: Well, you’re guessing you’re pretty much limiting yourself to the realm of the known because it’s very hard to guess something you don’t know. You can go discover something you don’t know but it’s very hard to guess it and so all you end up doing is you maybe can do some benchmarking, you maybe can sort of steal some ideas off a competitor, get 10:21 somebody with some outside experience to help you guess what might work for you or you’re recycling things that haven’t worked because by definition if you’re guessing something you already know, where you’ve got a continuing problem in your own business, why don’t you try? You either didn’t try it before or you tried it before it didn’t work, in which case that’s just madness, or you thought of the idea before and you are unable to execute on it in which case you’re working on the wrong problem anyway your problem is why didn’t you execute on a great idea maybe you should think about that. The problem I have with guessing is where people go wrong, the most in my mind.

 

Jim Rembach:  So, when you started thinking—you and I had the opportunity to talk a little bit off mic before we started our interview and I started mentioning how for me when I started thinking about problem-solving, when I started thinking about these biases all of these other things, is I started to thinking about the way that we actually make decisions. So, a lot of validation in regards to how we do that is really based on emotion. We decide emotionally and then we validate rationally and so our subconscious mind is just doing ten thousand times more calculations in trying to connect things in our head before it actually even makes the attempt to reveal it to our conscious mind. So, when you start thinking about problem solving, how does that bottleneck issue or how does the emotions come into play with people making the right decision?

 

Nat Greene: I think what you’ve got to do is train people to put that aside as much as you can you never get away from it as you said, it’s always presence you have to acknowledge it. But the role of a leader is to, well obviously to role model list, but also to make sure that there are sort of there’s a culture and a way of doing business that minimizes that. And again—why did I call the book Stop Guessing, because I think that’s the first thing you got to do if you if you want to push away this sort of emotional response and then the natural tendency to then find data that backs up the decision that you already made and then we tell ourselves the story that are we rational beings. I logically thought of this and then that was the answer now you decided you wanted that to be the answer and then just found anything you could that would corroborate it, again that might work on a simple thing but it doesn’t work in hard things.  

 

As a leader what you’ve got to do is you got to stump that out as much as possible, you’re not in day to day situations where that might be appropriate that blink response might be necessary or might make you move swiftly or give you sort of some hidden intelligence that you didn’t understand because it’s sort of more subconscious interacting with people things like that. I’m not saying there but where you have like a hard practical problem that’s been persisting even things like—there’s a great example I remember from a few years ago, a colleague of mine told me the story. He was working for a client and they were in a distribution business and so customer, satisfaction is very, very important they could buy from competitors, and what they were trying to have is an in full on time for their orders service rate in the high 90’s, so 98% or better, and yet the leader of this division he was getting calls from customers like they’re really angry with, —Hmmm, that’s a problem, what’s going on? What’s going on here we’re not looking after our customers properly. He went and checked the data and he said, “Tell me what’s going on here? What’s our service level?” And they said 98 % is our service level, we did great. 

 

And so, and so he said, “You could look at this in a couple of ways, most people wouldn’t automatically react going—this just must be unreasonable customers and we stop there. If you allow your people to do that or if you allow yourself to do that sort of thing like respond in a—I guess what the solution is, well, my guess is very convenient my guess is that they’re just unreasonable it’s lovely politically because it means I don’t have to do anything. Now of course when a few more customers leave you might start worrying about it and then you might be more self-reflective and you might go, well hey maybe the markets’ changing and what I need to do is to change because now maybe we need 99% on this measure to serve our customers. In reality what it turned out to be was that the measure was wrong somewhere in their system of calculating their service levels there was a breakdown and it was nobody’s fault obviously someone’s responsible for it but nobody was doing anything intentional. The service level was closer to 40% and with 40 percent it was like, oh my goodness, I’m amazed we haven’t lost all our customers and you could think you could do something about it. You’ve never wake up in the morning and go—ah, I guess that our service levels report is wrong and it’s 40% and it must be the specific error in this sort of computer program that calculates it for us, it’s so unlikely that you would ever guess that. That’s quite a simple problem accustom being upset and calling this isn’t sort of it’s known and they’re giving you the gift of telling you exactly what’s wrong that’s why you can go wrong with guessing. 

 

Jim Rembach:  One of the things that I’ve noticed is that you’ve made yourself, as you were explaining all these, a very, very clear distinction between the simple problems and the big complex problems. If you were to talk about the approach to the big complex problems, what advice would you give folks? 

 

Nat Greene: Okay, well obviously I’m going to start by saying, stop guessing. You got to train yourself to recognize when you are and people call guessing because guessing doesn’t sound very nice so they use all kinds of other nice sounding words like hypothesis or idea many, many words that you can use, brainstorming we’ve already touched on. And so, you’ve got to recognize what that is and that by all means have a quick go at it but then you’ve got to shut it off and that might mean that you need to make a game out of it. One of the things we do sometimes is, we got a group of people and they just sort of want to tell you what they think they want to be right and there’s nothing wrong with that it’s unlikely but that’s fine. 

 

So, what we do is we have them write down what they think the solution is put it in an envelope you seal it up and then we just leave it at the front of the room and in a few weeks when we’ve worked on this hard problem and crushed it we can open up and see who’s right but it doesn’t even matter often if someone is right. We’ve worked on really complicated problems, yeah, there might be hundreds of people working in a facility and they all have like ten ideas as to what it would be, someone’s going to be right but it doesn’t matter. So, even when someone’s right when guessing you’re not going to make big changes because of that you only take a risky thing because some of these problems are crazy. 

 

In my book I talk about a problem that I solved many years ago and that’s a long story but this launch of this new product was being held up and it was a real problem for the business because they were putting some large retailers on allocation, which not a good thing and it turned out that I helped solve the problem by removing one loose bolt that was in the machine and that was it. But imagine if we’d had this guess-athon and I’d said, “Hey, maybe there’s a loose bolt on the machine and we should go remove it” people have thrown me out I’d have been never invited back, so stop guessing. But then some other things you need to do, what we recommend highly is get out there and I call it smell the problem. You’ve got to get out there and use all your senses to go and study the problem. What most people do rather than do that is they spend time trying to think about a solution. And again if you think it, it’s kind of ridiculous, you spend all this time trying to think of solutions and of course there could be millions of solutions to different problems and f you don’t know what your problem is how could you possibly come up with the right solution? So, get in there great problem solvers they just go look at the problem and you’ll find them staring at things. If it’s in some business something’s wrong in the warehouse or something they’ll be watching what’s going on. They’ll be looking at records trying to get data, maybe it’s a production process something’s coming out just doesn’t work they don’t just look at one broken one they’ll be looking at several we try to find patterns of failure and these sorts of things. People, when they’re thinking they look for all the time sometimes subconsciously but you can actively do, so, you get out there and smell a problem. What that allows you to do is really understand the problem you’re trying to solve and people lose sight of that. When you can definite a problem really well you’re halfway to solving it. There’s bunch of behaviors I can touch on but those are some of the things that I recommend you got to do. 

 

Jim Rembach:  One thing that stood out to me, and thanks for sharing, is that—and I see a lot of people doing this all the time is they want to analyze, analyze, analyze instead of actually putting yourself or immersing yourself in it, that never works. We have a situation now where a lot of folks are don’t have that operational experience and don’t know how their business actually works and how their business makes money their job is to analyze data, to look at trends, and to look at defect rates and to do all of those things and we’ve kind of conditioned them to do such. But I think you’re right, sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty and I would say most of the time you have to get your hands dirty it’s going to give you a different perspective that you never had before. When you start talking about guessing change and making mistakes I mean all of those things there’s a whole lot of emotion that gets tied up into it. Oftentimes to persevere, you use that word, is that we need help to do that. And one of the things that we looked at on the show is quotes to help us do some of that persevering. Is there a quote that you like that you can share?

 

Nat Greene: Yeah, there’s loads but this is one of my favorite, whether you believe you can do a thing or not you were right, it’s a Henry Ford quote, it’s well known. To me what this means is you’ve got no guarantee that you’re going to make progress, of course. But if you decide you’re not going to make progress you’re certainly not going to make any progress. You can’t guarantee you’ll solve the problem but you can decide you’re going to fail at the beginning and that sadly what most people have done with most of the hard problems that they come across they’ve decided it can’t be solved. It has many ways to make that decision, not try at all, just be intimidated but you can also come up with other more complicated stories like, well it’s probably going to be a really hard solution and it’s probably going to be too expensive and I can’t invest in. But what I’ve encourage people to do is how would you behave if you thought that the solution might be something as simple as removing a loose bolt from the machine? Or the solution to your customers fleeing might be that you’re just not measuring the service level and you’re team don’t know that there’s a problem otherwise they’d fix it. If you believe every problem you saw if you instead tell yourself a story that that—hey, there is a chance that there’ll be a really simple solution, elegant one, embarrassingly simple solution then at least you give it a go. 

 

Jim Rembach:  I think that’s great advice and I think for all of us there’s times in life where we kind of have that self-sabotage and those things where we’ve had to maybe knock our head and fall down and get back up and try again and we have all kinds of humps that we have to get over. Is there time that you can think about where you’ve had a hump to get over and you learn something new that you can share?

 

Nat Greene: Hump, yeah, there’s plenty of them but I think the most relevant one here is—last decade I sort of become a bit disillusioned about some of the direction of the country, of how our country is going specifically around that and of course people fill their mind now I guess as to why, I’m sure everyone’s got an idea and so I’ll tell you rather than have you guess. The reason is just I found an inability of reasonable people to have a reasonable discussion on things. I’m not talking about red versus blue and different people from, I mean people who are like basically the same group of people. I live up in the Northeast and in my town, lovely little town there’s a bunch of well-educated, lovely, respectable people who I have as friends and even amongst my friend group I’d find people who—the concept of cause and have a decent discussion and think about problems and work through them and get the data I find they’re already dug in on some position and typically terrible problem solving they’ve not really looked into the problem and that sort of thing. 

 

I was becoming quite disappointed because if there’s no process for people to solve problems and if there’s not the willingness and if they haven’t developed the skills to do it how are you going to move forward because you know we’ve got tremendous opportunities ahead of us I’m hugely optimistic about the future, I’m a very optimistic guy, but why does it need to be so painful to get that? it’s a great cost, we waste our treasure and lives and spirits and happiness along the way and we don’t need to the outcome will be fine it’s just a journey could be nicer. I was becoming a bit disillusioned and sort of withdrawing and I found I was withdrawing from things that actually are very important to me. Withdrawing from contributing some things, withdrawing from discussing things with people that were important particularly controversial things where I could learn and understand better by getting into dialogue with people. What lesson would I draw from that? I don’t really know because I’m still thinking myself out of this. And I think if you ask me in a year, in two years and in ten years I’ll have different and more sophisticated lessons but at the moment the thing I sort of grasp onto it’s just that hope. When you’re facing a hard problem or something daunting that maybe puts you on the edge of despair that you can’t think of a solution you got to have hope and without hope there’s no moving forward. Again a simple problem is like, well whatever, but something that’s hard and especially personal challenges, with hope you can do anything and without it it’s very hard to move forward, and that’s my lesson. And so, I’ve had to rekindle, focus on the hope aspect, where things are going well. Instead of seeing people not being able to have a decent dialogue when I do see someone behaving, I focus on that now.

 

Jim Rembach:  I appreciate you sharing that. As you were talking I started thinking about—really, we’re kindred spirits in a lot of ways as far as that’s concerned. And one of the things that I had done and came to a few realizations is that I can’t have those types of discussions and even do that amongst my friends because they’re talking about a bias component and talking about there was hope, there was a fear losing a relationship so you don’t really connecting deep enough, it’s like I that person and I know you’ve done this in the past and you bring that along with you. So, what I found is that I actually had to find and create a mastermind group of people that I didn’t know that I really didn’t have any background with and it really allowed for dialog to occur that I just couldn’t have with people who I knew. Now the result of that, and here’s where I have to be talking about being more mindful and aware of is that if I do get into a close you know personal relationship with one of those folks I now have to consider whether or not they should be part of the mastermind group and so you have to meet that crossroad as well. I couldn’t crack what you’re talking about, I couldn’t crack that outer hard shell of my disillusionment and how do I get to a deeper sense of understanding and grow and not have all these biases get in the way and that was one way that I did it.

 

Nat Greene: Wow, that’s fascinating because you’re leading a dual life in some way. You’ve got you with your friends and things where your have to hold back because of this dynamic out there, this political toxic dynamic, a lot of it is politics, but in all kinds of issues. And then you then you can be sort of yourself and explore but with strangers and that’s the bit that I got to find a way to change for everyone and myself. A sort of epiphany for me came when I realized that a lot of people do when I would stand aside and when I saw I was withdrawing a bit some friends would say, hey, no look we really value your contribution you should keep going and yes sometimes it might be a little painful or hard at the time but it makes me think and I really appreciate it that sort of switch for that hope side again it’s like, okay, so like there is value. 

 

And what I realized is maybe the problem is actually me and that I need to continue to be challenging but find a way to do it in a more effect and a gentle way which meant number one is, me toning it down just a little bit giving people room to breathe and that sort of thing and then also finding a way to change people away from the table where they have time to think. I’ve been focusing on how do I write more, how do I share ideas, or you find an article someone’s written that explains an issue well and share that because then people can read it and the emotional response and this sort of territorial identity politics kind of responds they can have that and get over it and it’s not a personal thing. And then they can think about it and then they can come back and maybe explain a thoughts and of course it doesn’t always work but that’s sort of what I’m focused on now, it’s how to safely still challenge things, still challenge people to think about things into problem-solving a productive community-oriented way but without having them having to feel threatened in the moment.

 

Jim Rembach:  Well I think what you just said too kind of goes back to what you were saying a moment ago about people having to actually get out there and get their hands dirty is that you can’t just sit back and let yourself continue to be shut down by all of this you have to try something different and see what potentially works for you, I think that’s really the key, keep moving. When you start thinking about all of the things that you got going on and all the discussion we’ve had which has been great, what is one thing that really excites you?

 

Nat Greene: One thing that excites me, I hate the one thing question you see because there’s always several things that excites me. One of the things that excites me a lot and that I’m focused on is the willingness of people to learn. People really do want to learn and I do think that when people get frustrated and angry often it’s to do with them and not you and if you can find a way to allow people sort of gently learn some lessons and to do that in safety and comfort then they will do that. People are smart and are good and we just sometimes fall in a hole. My primary goal is to is to help people learn to be better problem solvers in just some simple ways and that’s what I’m really, really excited about and I can tell that because I’m putting most of my time and energy into it. 

 

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

 

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

 

Nat Greene: Sure thing. 

 

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

 

Nat Greene: I keep trying to jump the cliff in one bound and I’m not Superman. I got to break it into manageable pitches and climb up a bit find a ledge and then hit the next piece because it’s just overwhelming when you try and do stuff that’s too far out of your ability and one go. 

 

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

 

Nat Greene: I’m not sure on the best but one thing I’ve heard that I’ve not heard in many places it is about hiring and firing people. The question to ask yourself when you’re having problems with an employee at work is knowing everything you know today forget about what happened in the past when you made a decision to hire, but know everything about them today and about the needs and role would you newly hire that person into the role and if your answer is no you need to take action. 

 

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

 

Nat Greene: I’m lazy and by that I mean that I don’t like to do unnecessary things and this leads me to cut out the nonsense and to delegate or to just totally kill work that doesn’t really need to be done and I think that’s one of my secrets. 

 

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

 

Nat Greene: That’s easy, problem-solving. 

 

Jim Rembach:  What would be one book that you’d recommend to our listeners and it could be from any genre, of course we’ll put a link to The 9 behaviors of Great Problem solvers.

 

Nat Greene: Excellent. With that taken care of then I would recommend everybody reads The Accidental Superpower by Peter Xia. It’s a geopolitical book and it’ll give you a new perspective on what’s going on the world and how it is likely to affect you and your business.  I think it’s a brilliant book.

 

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

 

Nat Greene: This is easy for me if you listen more. I’ve always had a lot to say not always listen enough. If you listen more it helps you understand people better and improve compassion and things like that and that allows you to make better decisions where people aligned with you so you can move faster. Often people don’t listen because they’re impatient and ironically it actually slows you down. 

 

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

 

Nat Greene: You can connect with me via Strad international which is the consulting practice I run or the best way is via radically better, which is my book. 

 

Jim Rembach:  Nat Greene, 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 & subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net, so we can help you move onward and upward faster. 

 

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