page title icon Relationships

Greg Ablett - How Organizational Health Can Benefit Your Company

306: Greg Ablett – How Organizational Health Can Benefit Your Company

Greg Ablett Show Notes Page What is Organizational Health? What does it do and how does it positively impact an organization? In companies today, the focus has mostly been on being smart and being more intelligent. Everything is about technology and streamlining processes and tasks. However, according to Greg Ablett, that is not the only …

Access Now

262: Emilia DiMenco: Our reputation is at stake

Emilia DiMenco Show Notes Page Emilia DiMenco is making a bigger impact in smaller ways. After completing a 30-year career as an executive vice president for a large commercial bank, she now serves the capital, loans, programs, and services that support and accelerate women’s business ownership and their impact on the economy. Emilia was born …

Access Now

John DiJulius | The Relationship Economy

Relationship is the differentiator today

John DiJulius Podcast Notes John DiJulius, III looked back on mistakes and regrets and found a pattern. He’s always been the underdog, and when he takes that chip off his shoulder and feels he deserves the recognition he’s received; he ends up in a bad place. John was born and raised on the East side …

Access Now

Nicolaj Siggelkow | Connected Strategy

Stop Asking Customers to stitch Their experiences

Nicolaj Siggelkow on the Fast Leader Show

Nicolaj Siggelkow thought technology was important in connected strategies until he realized the more important factor was that organizations trying to be customer-centric required customers to stitch together their experience with different organizational departments.

Nicolaj Siggelkow is the David M. Knott Professor of Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He is a Co-Director of the Mack Institute for Innovation Management and the former Department Chair of Wharton’s Management Department. He studied Economics at Stanford University and received a Ph.D. in Business Economics from Harvard University. As recognition of his groundbreaking research on strategy, Nicolaj has been elected as a Fellow of the Strategic Management Society, the leading association of strategy researchers around the world.

He has been the recipient of more than 30 MBA and Undergraduate Excellence in Teaching Awards, including the Lindback Foundation Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest teaching award of the University of Pennsylvania, and the Helen Kardon Moss Anvil Teaching Award, the highest teaching award of Wharton.

Professor Siggelkow is the Academic Director of several open enrollment executive education programs at Wharton and has been involved in many custom programs for organizations, teaching strategy and managerial decision making. He has run strategy workshops for small organizations to Fortune 500 firms, helping them develop and analyze their strategies.

He has developed the on-line course “Business Strategy from Wharton: Competitive Advantage” and is the co-host of the weekly Sirius Radio show “Mastering Innovation.” And he’s the co-author of Connected Strategy: Building Continuous Customer Relationships for Competitive Advantage.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“Rather than waiting for a customer to come to me for their particular need, can I anticipate the need?” Click to Tweet

“There’s a natural trade-off between how much value I provide to a customer and the cost it takes.” Click to Tweet

“What drives the happiness of your customers?” Click to Tweet

“The customer has to first become aware of the need they have.” Click to Tweet

“Different customers will have different preferences on how they want to interact with you as an organization.” Click to Tweet

“Companies will have to create an array of different customer experiences.” Click to Tweet

“Connected strategies are fundamentally about understanding customer needs.” Click to Tweet

“Connected strategies quite often runs exactly at the border of magic and creepy.” Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Nicolaj Siggelkow thought technology was an important in connected strategies until he realized the more important factor was that organizations trying to be customer centric required customers to stitch together their experience with different organizational departments.

Advice for others

Taylor the way you communicate with other people.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

I’m not very good at delegating.

Best Leadership Advice

Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you are.

Secret to Success

I’m a really good planner.

Best tools in business or life

My calendar.

Connected Strategy: Building Continuous Customer Relationships for Competitive Advantage


Fall; or, Dodge in Hell: A Novel

Contacting Nicolaj Siggelkow





Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

An Even Better Place to Work

Show Transcript:

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

233: Nicolaj Siggelkow: We asked the customer to stitch experiences

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

Call Center coach develops and unites the next generation of call center leaders. Through our e-learning and community individuals gain knowledge and skills and the six core competencies that is the blueprint that develops high-performing call center leaders. Successful supervisors do not just happen. So go to 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 we have somebody on the show today who’s going to help us build continuous customer relationships. Nicola Siggelkow, is the David M. Knott Professor of Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He is a co-director of the Mac Institute for innovative management and the former department chair of Wharton’s management department. He studied economics at Stanford University and received a PhD in business economics from Harvard University. As recognition of his groundbreaking research on strategy, Nikolaj has been elected as a fellow of the Strategic Management Society, the leading association of strategy researchers in the world. He has been the recipient of more than 30 MBA and undergraduate excellence and teaching awards including the Lindback Foundation Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest teaching award of the University of Pennsylvania and the Helen Karden Moss Anvil Teaching Award, the highest teaching award of Wharton. 

Professor Siggelkow is the academic director of several open and enrollment executive education programs at Wharton and has been involved in many custom programs for organizations, teaching strategy, and managerial decision-making. He has run strategy workshops for small organizations to Fortune 500 firms helping them develop and analyze their strategies. He has developed the online course “Business Strategy from Wharton: Competitive Advantage” and is the co-host of the weekly Sirius Radio show “Mastering Innovation.”  And he is the co-author of Connected Strategy: Building Continuous Customer Relationships for Competitive Advantage. Nikolaj Siggelkow are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:    I hope so. 

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

Nicolaj Siggelkow:    Well, of course, my current passion has to be my current research. I cannot lie this is what I been doing for the last couple of years together with my good friend and colleague Christian Terwieschth we’ve been thinking about this idea of how firms radically changed the way they interact with their customers. It has been actually fun kind of because what we’ve been able to do is while we were writing the book we were teaching it and that was kind of really a fun thing to do together with my MBA students and our executive audiences. You sort of try things out see whether it actually resonates so that they’ll say, well, this is not just an academic exercise but actually I can use it. This has been actually a quite fun experience and it’s also my first book so it feels like my first baby that I get out there so it’s been a quite exciting ride now. 

Jim Rembach:    I can imagine it is. The work that you are doing and talking about specifically in the connected strategy book is you have several case studies and essentially workshop and you call them workshops that people can actually use in order to help them with their practice of strategy. I think that’s one of the things that’s critically important for all of us is we can take all this knowledge and wisdom that’s book knowledge but until we can actually apply it and practice it we’re not going to get that good at it. 

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   Yes.  And I think that was really the intention of this book which makes it a bit differently. We all have these workshop chapters where we guide the reader through a worksheet tool and try it. We say at the end of the book—sometimes again this might feel a bit daunting—oh, gosh all these things to do—and so the end of the book said, well, maybe just do a few things to get your toe in the water. We don’t want to push you into the water but maybe force you to put your toe in the water to get going and thinking about these issues.

Jim Rembach:    I think that’s important when you start looking at a lot of things today and we’re going to get into something that I think is really important when you start talking about the coaching aspect of the experience. But before we do that, I think it’s really important to talk about when you start referring to this connected strategy, what does it really mean? And in the book you say is that—a firm with a connected strategy or firms they fundamentally change how they interact with our customers and what connections they create among the various players in their ecosystem. At its core a connected strategy transforms traditional episodic interactions with customers into connected customer relationships that are characterized by continuous low friction and personalized interactions. You talked about this magic of connected strategy. You talked about a place that has magic, and a lot of us that reference in Disney, when you’re referring to that definition come and give us some insight into how that flows. 

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   They’re really kind of two parts of a connected strategy. One is idea about really transforming these interactions with customers rather than waiting for a customer to come to me with their particular need can I maybe even anticipate the need that the customer that might allow me to actually have a much better personalized interaction that might enable me to anticipate needs that the customer has. So rather than having these episodic interactions think about something bad happens to me and I go to a hospital only then do I interact with my healthcare provider now having a much deeper connection with my healthcare provider from my Fitbit on the Apple watch. So that’s kind of the one part of connected strategy, it’s almost like the what? What do I provide to the customer? 

The second part of the connector strategy is the how? How do I actually create these connected customer relationships at a reasonable cost? Because again I know how to make me happy in terms of health care, just have a nurse and a doctor standing next to me 24-hour seven that would make me better but it’s very expensive. I think this is a part of where technology plays an interesting role of how we’re able to connect me to resources in a much more efficient way that can we create these good connected customer relationships. 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, as you’re talking about those different dynamics one of the things that you also present when to me what I was interpreting is something, and you didn’t use the word necessarily a ton but disruption, a lot of this connected strategy is all about disrupting the traditional past traditional journeys traditional interaction methods and types and frameworks. One of the things that you talked about is the efficiency frontier, explain to us what that means?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   Usually, we can think about—so there’s a natural trade-off between how much value I provide to a customer, how happy I can make my customer through a particular product or service and the cost it takes. So if I just made this example, it would really improve my happiness as a patient if I would have immediate personal access to a doctor standing  next to me but that would be also really, really costly. On the other hand I might have just some telemedicine where I go to a website and I try to educate myself, my happiness of that is much lower but also the cost is much lower, I just have a website I can go to. There’s this usual trade-off between what we call the willingness to pay or the value that the customer perceives and the product and the fulfillment cost that it takes us to create that value in the eye of the customer. So there is of a frontier, if you wish an efficiency frontier the most amount of service you can provide given amount of cost that you want to incur. 

And so within any given industry that is sort of the frontier and different firms have placed themselves at different parts of this frontier some people are very high service but high-cost providers others also low cost low service providers. Now, what these connected strategies effectively have done is they’ve sort of pushed out this frontier. And now all of a sudden there are firms that can do both better. Again imagine let’s say Uber or Lyft, I think it’s a good example, the value I received from using an Uber or Lyft is somehow higher than the one from a cab usually it gets there faster usually it’s nicer usually it’s much easier to pay. So my utility my happiness as a custom has gone up. While at the same time the cost that Uber has of providing a ride from point A to point B is actually less than a cab company. So now it’s a firm that can provide a better service at a lower cost and that is really what drives disruption. All of a sudden now it’s not just a tradeoff anymore it’s actually better on both dimension that is really disruptive.

And so from the perspective of the existing firms it feels like, Wooh where’s this trade-off? This tradeoff is gone. Of course, it’s still there but it’s just now at a higher level. And this is exactly when we think about FinTech or Insure Tech or IOT devices, etc. all of a sudden customers say, wow this is a product that I actually or service I value more than what I’m currently getting and they can actually provide it at a cheaper price, Wooh, I like that. and so that’s exactly what drives disruption well as you’re talking I’m starting to think about to the whole development process and thinking about how it does become easier in order to get people to actually form new habits so if I’m thinking about this whole frontier component an element yes I push it out yes I can do potentially both things better that isn’t always a case but I have to go through a testing phase and so I have to I’m thinking about rapid development rapid deployment rapid adjustment and iteration I’m also thinking about rapid mothballing hey that didn’t work so they’re there to me there’s a whole lot of other components and elements that go into this strategy that we have to take into consideration so where does that come into play in regards to the whole journey as in the consideration and being able to connect create new strategy I mean so the interesting thing is about a lot of these connected strategies actually are not about technologies by instead of new technologies clearly enabler to happen but quite often the companies who create these new strategies they have not created that technology so again let’s thing over but who did not develop GPS cell phones and Google Maps  but they say look if I take these three elements putting and now kind of coming back to our earlier discussion.

Now I’m connecting previously unconnected parties here people with cars in a bit of time here are people who need a ride Wow I can use these technologies to create these new connections and all of a sudden I have a new business model that’s rather disruptive and so I think again what we’re stressing in this in the book and some sense the good news is in order to create a connected strategy you don’t need to be a technology company. A lot of these technologies that underlie connected strategies are out there more or less available to anyone. So really the creativity is much more on the business model side like I’m really trying to understand, hey, what’s that pain point that a particular customer has. And, oh, but this particular information and this particular technology and this particular new connection now I can create a new business model, that’s really where the creativity lies. 

Jim Rembach:    I think you just hit on one of the most important factors here. Being able to go through that creative thinking process and being able to understand how it could formulate new innovative elements that you can fit now into your framework. So if I’m looking at an organization or organization as a whole and looking into the opportunities that exists with the connected strategies where do you see some of the biggest opportunities?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   Well so I think the interesting thing is that when we ask men it is quite often, so what drives the happiness of your customer? Because ultimately that’s what it’s about we’re trying to write and attract customers to products and our services our companies. And so when we ask them, what does a value drivers that your customers have? They very quickly focus on tangible and intangible aspects of their product. How fast is my product? How good is it? How many features does it have? Maybe what kind of brand perception do I have? Now all of this is of course important but what we are again stressing in our book is that it’s usually a much longer customer journey that a customer has with us. That sort of starts out at, the customer first actually has to become aware of a need that they have. Then the customer has to understand, okay, now I know what my need is, what are all the options out there that I might be able to use? I’m aware of my need, I need some let’s say, need to save for retirement, okay. Now finally I got aware of that need. But now, what are all the options? I don’t even know but all the options out there. Then what’s actually the best option for me to use? Then, okay.  Now I think I know what I need and I want, how do I get it? Do I need a broker? Can I do it myself? How do I pay? How does it work? There are so many different steps before actually—oh, how good is your financial product? But how good are your fund managers? This is important too. There lots of other pain points that the customer has. I think quite often these connected strategies start out by really having a deep understanding of kind of the pain points or what you call also the willingness to pain drivers the way kind of the delight customers along with this entire customer journey and ask, how can we also remove some of those frictions from the customer journey? That’s quite often sort of a starting point for thinking about, wow, how could we create a better relationship of the customer? 

Jim Rembach:    Al, I start seeing a lot of skill sets required in order to be the most successful here. I’m starting to think about the ability to understand and separate the difference between divergent convergent thinking. I’m starting to also see the understanding of emotion that goes into play with the whole brand loyalty as well as being able to modify behavior that I used to essentially, like, going back to the Uber Lyft thing. I used to hail a cab now I’m using an app all of these things there’s so much friction along the way. How is it most beneficial for an organization to approach this entire process if they haven’t really done it before it’s just kind of happened? Or we’ve been hanging our hat and our revenues on a particular product that is now 20 years old and now we have to start going through this process otherwise we’re going to get disrupted.

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   Just in terms of process wise I think we would suggest to really think about different customer journeys that your customer have you’re trying to understand these pain points. Then asking yourself, what are kind of information that we need to resolve these pain points? I wanted to piggyback a little bit on the word of emotion that you mentioned because I think that is really important. We’re describing a different set of what we would call it connected customer experiences that you can create as a company. One we call respond to desire, which is where a customer knows exactly what he or she wants. I need a car now to take me from the airport I need the accommodation in Chicago next week so a customer knows exactly what they want and they want to just press a button and you as a company want to make sort of the rest of that journey as smooth as frictionless as possible. 

And so in some sense if you think again about that customer journey that is sort of a customer experience that works at the end of that customer journey. It already starts just at the moment of your ordering and then it goes through kind of post-purchase experience. But there is a different connected custom experience we call curated offering. This is an experience that helps you actually understand what other best options out there for me? If I go to Netflix in the evening and say, I’m in the mood for a comedy, Netflix says that’s great we’ve got 10,000 comedies for you. That’s not helpful. But if Netflix could say here the five that you might like, okay, I would appreciate that. And oh by the way, here’s a new release that I didn’t know it’s not like I know exactly what movie I want to watch and just stream it  now but if you can help me in that process I have some—and so we would call that curated offering. Then we can go even one step further and that is becoming aware of your need and that is this coaching behavior that we’re talking about. I know I need to take my medication but I’m forgetful. I want to lose some weight but oh, sticking to my diet is hard. A lot of customers would like to achieve certain goals but actually it’s hard for them to do. There’s some biases there’s inertia and if I can help you as a company do that that’s potentially helpful for me as a customer.  

And then the fourth experience we call automated execution. Where the firm basically knows about your problem before you’re even aware of your problem and solves your problem. So that would be my printer that knows it’s about to run out of ink but then it just reorders itself. And so my ink arrives before my printer runs out ink. The important point, and this is sort of why I’m piggybacking on your emotion. The important point is to understand that different customers will have very different preferences of how they want to interact with you as an organization. Some customers would love automatic execution, everything in my life. Others find it really creepy. How did you know that I was running out of toner? Why is that Mr. Ex guy handing me a package? Some people will find this amazing other people will find this as creepy. And so we really have to understand how people react emotionally and psychologically to having the environment act upon you. One person loves another mother hitting on their shoulder, say hey, you should eat better or whatever. And another person said well, I don’t need that again turn it off. So, companies will have to create a whole array of different connected customer experiences and really understand each customer very well and then to know what’s the connected experience that this customer likes. Even the same customer might want different ones. If I sit down in front of my TV I’m not sure I want NeFlix to merely start streaming a movie. I have to say, Nicolaj, I know what you want. Just give me five, but I can think. And so I think this becomes really, really important to be successful in implementing a connected strategy.

Jim Rembach:    Okay, well, then when I start thinking about the emotion, the emotional intelligence and infusing that and putting that into your organization I started also looking at the immense amount of data that often exists especially when you start talking about customer interactions and a lot of that is historical in nature so it’s a post-mortem activity and insight. However, what we’re talking about is projecting it forward. So now I have to be proactive, reactive, speculative, I have to forecast I have to do all of that. I start looking at the importance of that post-mortem data, that data that has already occurred dead into us being able to maybe pivot and take a different direction. Where does that type of work, where does that type of activity really take place best for organizations?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:      Obviously, data is really, really important. Again just sort of one word of warning I guess that connected strategies are actually not fundamentally about data. Connected strategies are fundamentally about understanding customer needs. And once I understand then I actually know what the relevant data is. So I think a lot of companies currently are actually exactly stuck at this point. Because it has become easy to collect data I’m now sitting on gigabytes of data about you. I know every click you’ve done on every website you ever visit but have no idea what to do with it. And so unfortunately now a lot of companies have said, well, I don’t know but there’s someone else wants to pay me a few pennies for this information let me just sell it off. A lot of firms have gone that route. Now you as a customer being followed by the same ad and whatever website you click and you ask, how the heck did that happen? I think someone sold my information. What we would recommend is actually really start with the needs of the customer. Again with that customer journey and then ask yourself, what kind of information would I need to solve that particular problem? Maybe I don’t have it yet then I need to think about how I can get it. But I think engineering it that way around turns out to be I think way more manageable again. Because I think you’ve just mentioned this earlier, so if I have never done this, how would I even start? I think a lot of companies have started by saying, well, I guess it’s all about data so let’s collect data. And again this is really easy to do but that now they’re struck and they have no idea what to do with it and quite often again they just sell it off. Starting with the a customer journey starting with those needs and then reverse engineering what information I need is quite often much more efficient way to do that.

Jim Rembach:    As you were thinking too I started thinking about the problem that organizations have with quantitative data and qualitative data. So in other to have the number of clicks I have all of these things that are more quantitative in nature, however, I don’t necessarily have insight in the qualitative data that tells me why all those things are occurring and happening and understanding what we were talking about as far as that customer emotion piece. Oftentimes it’s a very core missing element to all of that that will prevent them or cause them to going in the wrong direction and I think it goes back with what you talking about is the whole emotion piece. But ultimately, when it all is said and done there’s revenue models that we have to focus in on if we’re not generating revenue all of this is for naught. You talk about six different revenue models that need to be considered. Can we go into those a little bit?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   Sure. The intriguing thing about connected strategies is that all of the sudden the space of dimensions that I can use for a revenue model opens up. In the traditional model you come to a store and you buy a product and you pay the amount and then you own the part, that’s kind of the most traditional way. But what’s the problem with that? The problem with that is that I basically as a company have to extract basically all the future value that you see in that product at that point of purchase and that might be quite hard. Let’s take an example, let’s say, I’m trying to sell you a wonderful great new toothbrush that I promise you will detect cavities and will prevent you from having cavities in the next five years. And you said, wow, that would be an amazing product. And I say okay, I’ll charge you 600 bucks for it. And you said, Wooh, wait a second, if it truly worked I’d be happy to pay you $600 but how do I know it works? So the traditional problem in the traditional revenue model is I put all the risk on you, why trust me? Now that’s hard. 

So now with the connectivity—so now imagine my toothbrush is connected so I can understand when you’re brushing how we’re brushing every day. So now I could actually offer you a performance guarantee. I say okay, if you don’t get a cavity and you use my toothbrush in the way I ask you to do so and you will not get a cavity, are you willing to pay me $100 every year as a subscription fee for the absence of cavities? And now you say, hmmm, okay. Previously I could not do that because I didn’t know whether you’re using my toothbrush correctly or not but now I can do that. So all of a sudden I could have for instance a pay-for-performance contract. Next thing, you’re not having cavities, who else is happy about this? Insurance companies are happy about this because they’re usually paying half of the sort of use that you’re paying which is about a couple hundred dollars every year.  Maybe I can have the insurance companies subsidize my toothbrush. I can maybe get some revenue from insurance companies. The first thing was we can change the—what is being paid for. Is it just kind of the product or is it like a service and performance guarantee. 

The second thing we can change is who is paying. Quite often there are other parties in the ecosystem that generate value from my product. Maybe I’m able to extract that value from that. Thirdly, I can maybe say, well maybe the toothbrush is maybe not the best idea but I could charge you ten cents for every minute you use the toothbrush. I couldn’t do this before. You said, well that are rather silly with the toothbrush but for instance with jet engines, jet engines are now being sold that way. Rolls Royce is not selling a jet engine anymore to an airline they are selling what’s called power by the hour. They’re basically saying I’m selling you an hour of flying time. Now again that is a nice incentive alignment for the airline and the jet engine producer because the airline just says, I only care if this engine is working now when it’s broken. So now Rolls Royce has a very high incentive to make sure that engine is working now they’re gone much more to the maintenance. But again that’s kind of the—when are you paying? 

The other thing is sometimes how we pay can change. Premium models are actually very intriguing example of it. You may know the various games that you play on your phone like Game of Thrones—ah, no Game of Thrones—Clash of Clans, so if I ask you, would you be willing to pay $350 for a game you play on your phone? You probably say, no way I’m not going to pay you $300. But now every day you go, oh, for just for 99 cents I can get an upgrade that gives me that Dragon Slayer and then I can level up. Wow. Sure, what’s 99 cents, we pay $3.95 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks so how about 99 cents? And you do this every day and after a year you spend $360, and as a matter of fact you don’t feel bad about this, why? Because every day actually it was an enjoyable experience that you have. So if you can pull the time when the person actually experiences the value of your product and service if you can make that more closer to the point when the customer is actually paying again if a customer to derives value over time if I try to extract all of that value at the time of purchase that might be really difficult. But if I can charge you a little bit every time you use it because at that time you really see the value in the product or the service maybe you’re much more willing to pay at that time just a little bit. These are some ideas of how connectivity can actually allow us to have a much broader way of different types of revenue models. 

Jim Rembach:    And it also I think brings things full circle so it’s not that we’re doing these things to essentially fit within our existing model of business. Like you’re saying it’s opening up new opportunities of revenue that we’re possibly not taking advantage of that we could. You mentioned even that Rolls Royce example with the (28:14 inaudible) you kind of hit it on a little bit is that they’re actually selling the engine but the entire servicing element that goes along with it because for them, as we all have heard over and over, it’s not the profit or the revenue that they get from the sales of engines it is the whole servicing aspect and then the whole ongoing control of maintenance and actually from a brand perspective is more beneficial for them. 

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   And so now again intriguingly—so there is actually a general principle here they’re sort of learning happening at two different levels. There’s the learning at the level of an individual customer or in the Rolls Royce example the learning about the individual engine. So I learn more and more about this engine and in some sense of I know exactly the state of each component inside the engine and so I’m now able actually to go from fix maintenance schedule where every six months I replace this particular component now I can replace it after five months if I need it or after seven months if I need it so I can do this much more effectively. But there’s also learning at the whole level of a population either a population of customers or in this case a population of jet engines because I’ve not just sold you one engine but I’ve sold hundreds of engines to let’s say, United, and now what Rolls Royce is doing is now I’m learning about all of these engines I learn about whether I learn about your routing and I can now actually help you run your machines more efficiently, think about routing more efficiently. And so now I’m starting to save you even fuel. Again there’s a common theme here that what connected strategies allow you to do is kind of what we would call moving up the hierarchy of needs of a customer. There are some fundamental immediate needs that I have but quite often they are more instantiation of deeper underlying needs. I made just one example, I might feel some heart palpitation now and I really want to talk to a cardiologist pretty quickly but really what I would like you to do is to deal with my cardiac problems but really what I would like you to do is to deal with my health issues whether it’s my heart or my elbow and really what I like it to do is to keep me healthy. There are sort of these hierarchy of need. As we are getting deeper connected with a customer we might be able to move up this hierarchy of needs. That really leads to two important consequences. On the one hand, again my happiness as a customer goes up and so I’m willing to pay more for these things because these are really more fundamental needs that I have. 

Secondly for the firm once I actually have achieved this level of a trusted long-term customer relationship all of a sudden I don’t have to compete transaction-by-transaction anymore. All of a sudden I have you now in a relationship, of course I still have to provide value to you that’s not changing, but I don’t have to compete transaction. It would be really tough to do if you have to do this every time you’re interacting with the customer. 

Jim Rembach:    We said it repeatedly and ultimately it drills back down to emotion. We talk about emotion a lot of different ways in the Fast Leaders show. One of the things that we look at are quotes because they can help give us the emotion that we need in order to persevere and achieve and all. Is there a favorite quote that you like then you can share?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   I don’t think I have a favorite quote. One of our favorite examples that we have in the book it’s kind of the magic band in Disney World. Which again kind of gets this dual purpose of on the one hand creating a better customer experience where customers have make it much easier for them to purchase things and to open the hotel room open the fast lane but on the same time allowing Disney to create much more efficient park operations because they know where people are they can direct them to shorter lines. But I’m getting to a quote here, a quotable quotes or statement but the intriguing thing to us again is—if you take the example of—you walk with your girl at Disneyworld and Jack Sparrow comes up and greets your daughter by name and says, hi, Sophia how are you? Wow! That’s amazing, Jack Sparrow knows my name. Of course he knows the name because Sophia’s wearing a magic band and Jack Sparrow has a little handheld device that tells him that Sophia’s coming. And then Jack Sparrow says, Sophia do you remember we met at Anaheim last year? And Sophia goes, this is the most amazing day in my world because Jack Sparrow knows—any character that ever interact with Sophia and any theme park around the world. So Sophia things, that is the most magic day in her life and you as a parent go, man that’s creepy. And so I think—here’s now my quote, connected strategy is quite often run exactly at the border between magic and creepy. And that’s sort of where we’re coming back to this earlier point that I made, you really have to understand your customer really well because again what one person might think it’s a magic experience the other person might think it’s a creepy experience. So that I think kind of the big point to keep in mind as you develop these connected strategies. But again it’s not just one size fits all we need to have a broad array of these different kind of experiences that we can offer. And we need to understand, again sort of coming back to the word emotion, that emotional attachment that people have of how they want to interact with us. Some people just want to have a standoff—let me tell you what I want but then make it as easy for me as possible, that’s kind of response of desire. Whereas, others say you just do it for me, I love it.

Jim Rembach:    I would dare to say that when you start looking at coming to this culmination of your work, and I know it’s never going to end. I mean there’s going to be iterations I think the marketplace is going to force it I think globalization is going to force it AI artificial intelligence is going to force it and all of these things and finding a better spot for the human to create some of those emotional connections that cause that multiple revenue generation opportunities all that’s going to happen so your works never going to end here. However, we all often have to go through humps in order for us to come to these realizations and to learn and to be able to take advantage of these opportunities and to teach others like you’re doing now. Is there a time where you’ve gotten over the hump where you learn something that we can all learn something from?

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   It’s really interesting when we talk to the Disney team that created this magic band. There are some very interesting learning coming out touching on something that you were earlier asking and that is how to actually create these connected strategies and what are the big obstacles? Again we first thought about, well, it’s about again the technology creating the magic band is a difficult thing. And they said, yeah, that is also important but that’s just money you spend you get your R&D department going and you create these technologies. The really tough thing was the organizational change. How do we actually have different parts of our organization talk to each other and share information with each other? The problem, and this another interesting quote that that he said is, we really forced our customers to work through our organizational chart sometimes you had to deal with our online division then you had to deal with our theme-park division and you have to deal with our hotel division and we basically kind of asked the customer to stitch together these experiences. That I think is again to me kind of very interesting insight that we all talk about customer centricity as being sort of a key word why do we want to really put that customer in the middle but we ourselves are not at all organized that way.  

Our organizations are very much organized by function or by product line and again sort of—when I reflected on that said, wow, we are as universities probably as guilty of this as anyone. So we tell our students you want to appear general managers you need to know everything. You need to get a finance and strategy and marketing and operations and then all of that you need to know. Of course, we are organized by department. And so someone guys teach you strategies from an accounting and marketing and then we said to the student, you stitch this all together and you make sure that all comes together so that you are well-rounded manager. So again this idea of putting yourself into the shoes of a customer or a student and saying, how would that experience actually look like? It’s hard organizationally.

Jim Rembach:    I appreciate the work that you’re doing and that you’re continuing to do. 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 solutions 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 

Okay Fast Leader legion now it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Nickolaj 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 robust and rapid responses to help us move onward and upward faster. Nikolaj Siggelkow, are you ready to hoedown? 

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   As a German I will try my best.

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

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   I’m afraid I’m not very good at delegating.

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

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are.

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

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   I’m really a good planner but that’s maybe because I’m German. 

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

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   My calendar. I need to have structure to my days. 

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

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   That of course is the most important book, but personally, I love books by Neal Stephenson’s, all kind of novels great books.

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader Legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to Siggelkow. Okay, Nikolaj this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity go back to the age of 25. And you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take it all back you can only choose one. So what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why? 

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   Well, I think it is the kind of the skill to kind of communicate better with other people trying to really understand where people are coming from and really tailoring the way you communicate with other people that’s I think the skill I’m still learning but certainly I hope I’m a little bit better than I was when I was 25. 

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

Nicolaj Siggelkow:   Absolutely. You can just go to for my personal website or if you want to go to the book website that’s 

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

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



leadership podcast karl sharicz fastleadershow

020: Karl Sharicz: Perseverance can pay off

Karl Sharicz Show Notes

Karl was told no. But he didn’t stop there. He was a new training director for a company but he didn’t have any education in the art and science of adult education. Not wanting to wing it, he found Boston University offered a master’s degree that only took nine months to complete. Karl asked his organization to allow him the time off to go to classes and to pay for the program. He was told no. Not stopping there, Karl eventually got his organization to agree to the time off and pay for the program in a creative and collaborative way. Listen to this episode to learn how Karl’s story can help you move onward and upward faster.

Karl Sharicz was born in Somerville, Massachusetts (just outside of Boston) but he lost his Boston accent as a result of being in the United States Air Force. When Karl was three, his parents moved from the city to the suburbs and he lived near a small farm. He instantly fell in love with the farming life and worked there from age 10 to 15. On the farm, he fed cows, cared for horses and collected eggs from angry chickens who pecked my hands for stealing their future chicks from under them. He also became steeped in the art of shoveling pig manure into a spreader during corn season.

Karl was attracted to music at an early age. Just about everyone in my family played an instrument from his grandparents on down. Music was all around him. His family wanted him to become a classical pianist but his rebellious nature led him to the guitar sounds of the Ventures, Chet Atkins, Link Wray, Dick Dale, and Duane Eddy.

Vietnam was raging by 1968 and Karl was drafted into the military. While some of his friends sought shelter in the university or ran off to Canada, he wasn’t ready for either of those and so he took his draft notice to the Air Force Recruiter and said “Sir, can you help me with this?” and he said “sure” and that was the last he ever saw of his draft notice. Karl served for four years.

After serving his country, he went to work in a chemistry lab. During the interview he could recite the periodic table of the elements so they hired him on the spot. Listening carefully to that science teacher in high school really paid off.

Working in a laboratory got Karl even more interested science and so he went for other lab work and studied chemistry at night. Over eight short years of intense study he graduated cum laude from Suffolk University with a Chemistry Degree in 1982. All was fine in the lab for several years until he discovered he liked dealing with customers more than molecules and atoms. So out of the lab and into the world of marketing, robotics, and training & development he went. That led him to going for a Master’s Degree in Adult Education.

Karl’s education degree served him well and in 1997 he joined a company called Simplex Time Recorder Company and went immediately on the road as a traveling instructor. He spent several years inside developing a training curriculum for a group of certified professional customer service experts. In 2001, Simplex Time Recorder was sold to Tyco, merged with Grinnell, and that became Tyco SimplexGrinnell.

After 17 years there, the last 11 in the customer experience discipline, Karl now is the Founder of his own consulting practice called CX Partners.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“Give everybody a little bit of attention every now and then.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“Live the legacy you want to leave.” John Maxwell by Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“You need to demonstrate in actions what you believe.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“Teams can come up with more creative solutions than you can as an individual.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“Don’t give up and don’t try to go it alone.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“Everything has a solution.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to think through it all on your own.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“Every day we’re faced with a problem we need to solve.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“It’s a lonely process if you try to do it on your own.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“Whatever holds you back is self-imposed.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“If you’re not trying and failing, you’re not learning.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet 

“You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and get into the action.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet 

“When they see that you care they’re willing to be part of the team solution.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“Motivation fails when problems don’t have that obvious solution.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“If people are disengaged that means their voice isn’t being heard.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Karl was a new training director for a company but he didn’t have any education in the art and science of adult education. He found Boston University offered a master’s degree that only took nine months to complete. Karl asked his organization for the time off and to pay for the program. He was told no. Karl didn’t stop there and ultimately they agreed to the time off and paid for the program. Listen to this episode to learn about the creative and collaborative way Karl got over the hump.

Advice for others

Don’t give up and try to go it alone. There’s a way to just about everything. Everything has a solution.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Not a damn thing.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Being honest with yourself and integrity goes a long way.

Secret to Success

Getting down in the trenches with people I am leading.

Best Resources in business or Life

Reading lots of books.

Recommended Reading

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Contacting Karl

Email: karl [at]
CX Partners:

More Resources

Interview with co-founder of Synectics George M. Prince

Show Transcript: 

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

020: Karl Sharicz: Perseverance can pay off


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

Jim Rembach:   Thanks Kimberly. Okay Fast Leader legion, I have the opportunity to share with you somebody who I admire in a lot of different ways. He is multitalented and also has a sense of humour that just seems to be never ending, it comes out like, ‘that’s pretty darn witty.’ And it’s not everything that he may have said before, his name is Karl Sharicz.  

Karl is a native of Summerfield, Massachusetts just north of Boston. He prides himself in losing his Boston accent as result of serving our country in United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. He was stationed in the south and was ridiculed as a Yankee, which is no surprise there, but now he can say, I can park my car rather than I can than “I can pak my cah”. 

When he was three his parents moved from the city to the burbs and he lived near a small farm. He instantly fell in love with the farm life and work there from the age of 10 to 15 until he can get a job so the government could take his taxes. On the farm, he fed cows, care for horses, and collected eggs from chickens, who peck his hands for stealing their future chicks from under them. 

He also learned a lot of wisdom by gaining knowledge shoveling pig manure into a spreader during corn season. Karl is also an avid musician and was affected by it at a young age. Ultimately, Karl received a Master’s degree from Boston University. And he currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Customer Experience Professionals Association and is on several CXPA committees.

He also served in past leadership positions within the American Society of Training and Development. Karl is well published, two most recent articles which appeared in two prominent customer experience management journals. In addition to his professional customer experience persona he doubles as a singer-songwriter musician and has recorded two CD’s of his original music today. 

Karl currently resides in Quincy, Massachusetts with his wife Carol who’s a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston in systems thinking, He has two kids that live in the area Andrew and Aaron and one grandchild and two stepchildren in California. Okay, Karl, I’ve shared with our listeners a little bit about you, can you share what your current passion is so that we can get to know you better?

Karl Sharicz:     Well, everything you mentioned is my passion and if I could work on a farm today I probably still be doing it. If I could be a rock ‘n roll musician and tour the globe I think I’ll do that too, it’s all my passion. And thank you for that introduction, you made me sound like a real renaissance down here. 

Jim Rembach:     I think you kind of are. You can even hear the energy in your voice when you talk about those things it’s kind of like, unending, un-bounding, where does which come from?

Karl Sharicz:       I don’t know. I’ve always had a pretty optimistic and positive attitude towards life and it’s my downfall too because I enjoy so many things, sometimes I think I spend myself too thin. But it’s all out there, it’s all there to experience, I love to do it. 

Jim Rembach:   I find myself having some of the same issues and I say that a lot time I chase shining object.  My word for this year was focus cause I need to do a better job of that. And so, for you, how do you stay on track?

Karl Sharicz:  It’s not easy sometimes. You indicated I do a lot of things and a lot of committees and I’m trying to run a business and I’m trying to keep up with all of my colleagues, friends and family and it’s just a matter of time sharing, it’s just making sure that you give everybody a little bit of attention every now and then. We have a lot of friends, my wife and I, we managed to see everybody on an intervals that is acceptable to everybody, so we just do our best to doing that. It’s not easy but you have to want to do that, I think is the real key. 

Jim Rembach:   I think what you just hit on is a really important point and doing those things and kind of being methodical in having structure around that while you continue to move a lot of things forward, you can’t just sit back and wait from that to happen you’ve got a be active and engaged within it, I think that’s where your energy kind of helps. 

Karl Sharicz:     And it comes from spontaneity to, so, I’m not a big planning person. You would think I have the spreadsheets on all these, no. [Laugh] or project plans, no I don’t. 

Jim Rembach: That’s awesome that you can keep moving forward. I know that you being a musician and someone who’s focused in on people and passion, you’re very passionate man I appreciate that in you, is there not a quote or a passage or something that kind of drives you, I know you know a lot of lyrics from different music…

Karl Sharicz:  Song lyrics always resonate with me and there’s one bit of a lyric from a song by Spandau Ballet, and the lyric goes: “Tears turns to rust that fall on steel hearts.” When I first heard that it didn’t quite grab me then I started picturing that and I thought to myself, “Yeah, there’s a lot of steel hearts around and that’s what happens tears turned to rust. I don’t know how that kind of relates to a driving energy but it’s an inspirational phrase, I guess it’s what I’d say. But if we want to bring it back to a leadership quote, the one that kind of resonates with me and it comes from a gentleman, an author by the name of John C. Maxwell, and this is it:”Live the legacy you want to live” and it has a lot of significance to credibility as a leader cause it’s really saying you need to demonstrate an action on what you believe. And this comes from a book of his called “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”. He also said: “Our ability as leaders will not be measured by the buildings we build rebuilt or the institutions we’ve established but by how well the people we invested in carried on after we’re gone.” 

And you know, I have a personal example of that, because in my days as a training instructor for prior organizations, I had an opportunity to work with a lot of customers in trying to impart knowledge and skills that they needed to be able to do their work. And I must have had a profound impact on some of them because even to this day when I reconnect with some of them I still received comments from former students that say, “Gee, what a great learning experience you created there”,  back in 1984. And that’s the experience they had in the classroom, and that’s a very rewarding feeling for me to hear that from them, after all these years it sticks with people. 

Jim Rembach: I want to go back to the quote that you had mentioned about the tears and the steel hearts and the rust because I do think there is a lot of inspiration when you said that it connected for me when I think about you and that positivity piece that you were talking about. Oftentimes,  the positivity piece and also know be hit with some resistance, it could be the tears, so to speak, sometimes it’s a tear of joy, oftentimes it’s a tear of frustration. We talk about getting over the humps on the Fast Leader show in the onset of challenge, can think about a time when you had a hump to get over that may have generated some tears, something that is stuck with you and hope move it to a right direction?

Karl Sharicz:  Yeah. The one that comes to mind the most, and this has occurred over and over again, was when I was leading a training function that sounds like, I’m going back into the past year but this was a really… one that really stuck with me for a long time. It was back there in the 80’s and I was in the Sciences, I had a challenge because I was brand-new training director for a company and I really didn’t have any real education in the art and science of adult education, suppose I could have gone ahead and just as they say, “Wing it” but for me it’s not my style, so I looked into it and I said: “Is there way that I can get here fast?” And it turned out that Boston University offered a program on adult education, a Masters degree that you could get in nine months, that’s essentially a school year. It sounded great, I look into it, I knew it was the right program for me but the only hitch was you have to attend class on Friday and Saturday all day, so, try to sell that to your spouse at home and then you try to sell that your organization to say, I need every Friday off for the next nine months and get paid for it and also to my full-time job, it meant going to my organization and having to ask them to support me in doing this. The initial answer was, no, but not being one to take no for an answer, I thought, “How do I get to yes?” So, make a long story short, I got a group of colleagues together while I was on a business trip and we sat around full one day and I decided that this is the way to get DS I’ve got a bunch of people here, they’re all smart people, teams can really work together and come up with ideas, we start doodling on this and what we came up was the idea of creating an employment contract, in a way, if you sent me to school and you pay this money, the tuition had to paid upfront cause there was no tuition reimbursement opportunity here for this program because it was a bunch of money that has to be paid upfront. So, we put this idea together, I went to the HR department and kind of ranted by them to say to say what do you think? My boss at that time was the VP of Marketing, I brought this plan to him and he bought it and I sold them the plans but to me they had to pay 2/3rd of the tuition upfront and 1/3rd…after that you have signed up to the course and they did that and I had a contract with them that allowed me to continue working, and of course, I have to pay them back if I left the organization cause they invested in me. I mean it’s a creative way of trying to get yes and I always thought that was one of my more significant sales opportunities, let’s put it that way. Perseverance can pay off and what it said to me was, teams can often do and come up with more creative solutions than you can as an individual. And basically focusing on the customer because I’ve really counts the benefits to the organization rather than what was going on within me. I knew I needed this education but I’m not surely they realize this much but the benefit of it to them, I think it’s what sold it. Basically, I ask for the order and I got it, name your sale. 

Jim Rembach: We’re telling that story to others something that’s kind of really stood out to me, and that, oftentimes, folks when they are told no they won’t do what you did from a very methodical, you say you don’t did checklists and all that stuff but I hate to tell you that that was very methodical. [Laugh]  So, you’re doing the computations and the framing and all that stuff within your head, obviously because going through the process, gaining that commitment and consensus that social buying and proof, a going through and in building the business case, and taking time doing it not getting aggressive and ugly in the process, staying positive, really there was several factors that got you to the point of yes. So, if you think about today, where we are today what you see most people do of that story, what was one piece of advice you would give to our listeners?

Karl Sharicz:  Don’t give up and don’t try to go it alone, very simple. There is a way around just about everything. Everything has a solution. I think a lot of times we want to give up on it because we think we can’t see it, and it could be it’s just lurking out there. There’s a barrier and that barrier has to be removed in order for you to see it. And I think that whole approach to bringing in and working with other people is real key element to that because a lot of times you could drive yourself crazy trying to do it all and trying to think through it all on your own. 

Jim Rembach:    It’s a great point that you mentioned that. Myself, I found that I was getting a little bit stagnated in regards to being able to expand some of the things that I was wanting to think about. I knew there was more wanted to talk to early think about media. I knew there was more, I knew I had to get a different perspective and so I just reached out to strangers and said, “Hey, would you be interested in participating in this small group of folks so that we can coach each other, and help each other, and support each other. And the first question that people were asking me was, “Okay, what does it cost me?” It’s like no I’m not asking for money I needed to seek out that that mastermind or hunt group to be part of, so that I could get the coaching that otherwise would not be getting on my own and sometimes it’s not so easy to find. I think you bring up a really good point, is that, don’t sit in isolation. And you know, and sometimes that isolation isn’t necessarily very visible. You have to realize the environment you’re in and to expand yourself you have to be the first one to do the experience. 

Karl Sharicz:  Can I share with you, there was a piece of this that came out of my experience at Boston University and I think it’s relevant, and now you’re going to say, Oh, Karl you’re really an organized  person, after you hear this. Problem solving—every day we’re faced with problem we need to solve, you wake in the morning and the theory doesn’t work. Okay, so, I put less technical problems aside and make it a humanistic problem but it’s a long process if you try to do it on your own. When I was at Boston University, I learn the concept called Synectics, it’s a long story but I’ll give you essentially the summary of it, problems can be solved in methodical ways by first when you look at a problem and you say, “What are the three most positive things that I can say about this issue that I’m facing here?” So, let’s say it’s not raining today here but it could be and if it was, and I’d say, “I’m not particularly fond of a rainy day but what three things can I say about a rainy day that would be positive?” I could say, “Well, you know, we needed the water it’s pretty dry and if you’re in Southern California you might say, ‘Finally we got rain’ or you can say, ‘Rain helps the garden grow’ so, that’s another positive side on it. Or you could say, “I am into a project that I needed to do, it’s good that it’s raining so I don’t feel the need to be outside in that warm sunshine that I like to be out at.” 

So what you do there, you’ll look at the other side of the spectrum and so, there’s always the problem has some negative aspects of it.  So, what you do is you helps them in opportunities that you are trying to overcome. So for example, on a rainy day you could say, “Rainy days are gloomy so all I need to do is find something that would cheer me up like maybe listening to those 1,250 CD’s there in my cabinets upstairs.” So, you get the idea, you focus on three positives followed by three challenges that if they were overcome this would lead you towards the possible outcome. So, there’s a lot more to it than that but that’s the general concept.  I’ve used that in number of times since those days at Boston University and it served me well. 

Jim Rembach: I thank you for sharing that. That is something that we all could look into to see if they can help us over the hump faster. I know that you’re going through some transitions, you’re doing some things a little bit differently you even became a content curator for the CX-PA, you’re doing some really exciting things right now, but of all things that you are currently looking at it have on your plate, what is one just really excites you the most?

Karl Sharicz:  The big thing that’s happening right now since I left my former organization, Tyco, last fall, is building a consulting business and that is CX Partners, that’s what I’m called. I had been thinking about that for several years, I started developing the business plan, there I go again in my organization in my mind, a couple of years ago but I put it aside because I’m working full time and nothing really prompted me to leave and start my own business. But then last summer the organization in their creative approach to downsizing started offering packages to keep the 15 plus years in the organization, and I had the opportunity to say yes or no and I said yes. So, I left the really good program that I’ve built over 11 years in good hands and that gave 

I also do some teaching. I did some teaching at Boston University, my alma mater, and taught some courses or classes I say in customer experience. But it’s amazing to see the young minds of people who are about to graduate in college and they earn a graduate degree, get enlightened with customer experience and I enjoy bringing them into the fold if you are bringing them into the process.

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

Karl Sharicz:  Hoedown then. 

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

Karl Sharicz:  I don’t think a damn thing. [Laugh] Whatever holds you back is self imposed, go for it. Try new things. If you’re not trying and failing you’re not learning.

Jim Rembach:  I love it. What is the best leadership advice you had ever received?

Karl Sharicz:  Well, I’m not going to put it in the terms of advice, but I would say being honest with yourself, integrity and being honest with yourself goes a long way. I can’t make this in short; I have to tell them a little bit of a story. My uncle, he passed away some years ago in Canada, thought me a valuable integrity lesson when I was in my teens. I use to spend summers in Nova Scotia and he made a living, in part out of up breaking moss, Irish moss, off rocks in a boat at low tide. 

So, he had to get up in some early mornings and so you’d rake these moss off of the rock you bring it back, you’d spread it out on the side of the road and you’d let it dry because it had to be soiled dry, it was sold by weight. He was a stickler for that moss being dry, he would not pick it up and put it in the knapsack when the burlap stuck until that was dry, that was integrity because he could have left it damp and he could gotten a higher weight, and he could have made more money, people didn’t have a lot of money but he was stickler for that honesty and integrity in making sure that product was completely dried so that he could sell an honest product to the buyer year after year, and to me that was a valuable lesson at a young age. 

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

Karl Sharicz:  As a leader, I’ve always been one that gets down in the trenches of time with people that I’m leading. I’m a natural doer, you can tell, and that comes from having been there and done that, probably derived from the farm years ago. When you’re in a leadership position you have to willing to roll up your sleeves and get into the action when it’s necessary to show people you not just talk you’re part of the action, you’re part of the team. When they see that they know you care they’re willing to be part of the team’s solution and people respect you more. What’s that saying, People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.

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

Karl Sharicz:  I read a lot of books. I think you know, let’s see which one of the more recent ones, I think it was Drive by Dan Pink. This one’s about motivation, what’s gets people to do things, this is the influence of partner, it turns out in research shows that it’s intrinsic motivation that helps fire up businesses because problems are complex they’re not linear problems it’s not a carrot stick model in leadership and motivation sales when problems don’t have that obvious solution. In fact, Dan Pink, if you look him up on YouTube, you’ll see a 20 minutes Ted talk and he does a real good job of summarizing that book. I’m a reader. I like the slower pace of reading and highlighting, underlining, and be reading sentences because I like the way they’re written, writing notes in the margins and making it personalized, that’s how I engage in books. But I would say, continuously keeping up with your profession, whatever aspects that takes on leadership or otherwise.

 Karl Sharicz:  Well, I was going to ask you about a book, we’re going to make that connection with drive on our show notes page and you’ll be able to find that at Sharicz. Okay, Karl this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning and you were 25 years old again and you’re supposed to begin a new job as a manager of a team that is underperforming and disengaged but you have retained all the wisdom and skill that you currently have, your job, of course, is to turn the team around, so you get up, you get ready and you head out to work, what do you do now?

Karl Sharicz:  [Laugh] Well, if people are disengaged that means they’re probably their voices aren’t being heard, I’d sit down with each member of the team individually and let them tell me from their perspective what’s going on, what’s working, what’s not working. And I’ll also use that as an opportunity to give them insights on me. What I’m all about, how I lead, how I manage, how I make decisions. There may be some people that are on the team that aren’t onboard cause they don’t want to be part of the team, and that’s fine too. And it’s right and proper to help people get to where they want to be even if that means leaving the team neither that’s by their choice or my choice. 

And then I’ll probably start having some team dialogue sessions with the full team, provide everyone with an open forum to bring out and discuss and dialogue and issues and share ideas or resolutions and I’d use that Synectics tactic that I’ve described earlier. And once speak about these issues that are on the table and clearly understood, delineated, and I’ll write it I’ll put it in written form so everybody can see it and think about it just as the teams’ project we all have a part in this. And I think that gets you on the pathways towards engagement and improved performance.

Jim Rembach: Karl, it was an honor to spend time with you today. Please share with the Fast Leader listeners how they can connect with you?

Karl Sharicz:  Email me at that’s my website. They can go to which is my website, there’s contact information there. Or they can reach out to me through the CXPA.

Jim Rembach:     Karl Sharicz, 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 shows, special offers, access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the so we can help you move onward and upward faster.