Stephen Matini
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Leading Generations: Kathryn Landis on Creating Inclusive Multi-Generational Workplaces
This episode of Pity Party Over revolves around the importance of intentional leadership and its impact on team dynamics, especially in the context of diverse generational workforces. Kathryn Landis, Executive and Team Coach and Professor of C-Suite Leadership at New York University, emphasizes the need for leaders to understand and address the unique needs and values of different generations, particularly Gen Z. She highlights the importance of aligning these needs with organizational goals while creating a culture of psychological safety and transparency. Listen to the episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, or your favorite podcast platform to learn how to navigate generational differences and understand the significance of transparency and purpose-driven work for engaging Gen Z employees. How do you leverage a multi-generational workplace? Share your story! Subscribe to Pity Party Over for more insightful episodes. Questions? Email Stephen Matini or send him a message on LinkedIn. #KathrynLandis #Stephen Matini #PityPartyOver #Alygn #WorkplaceCulture #GenerationalDifferences #GenZ #EmployeeEngagement #PsychologicalSafety #LeadershipDevelopment #PurposeDrivenWork #IntentionalLeadership TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini - I'm curious to ask you, how did you get to human development?  Kathryn Landis: You know, I was first exposed to this thing called coaching, when I was in business school. I went to Northwestern University in Chicago and I took a class around personal leadership and coaching, and I really enjoyed it, but I was already on this track to go into marketing. And fast forward 10, 15 years, I had a boss at a large Fortune 500 company that was not supportive of the company's parental leave policy. And so when I had my son, this leader made my life miserable. I thought to myself, and I thought back to that class, had this leader had coaching, had this leader had support, I'm sure she didn't want to show up the way that she was showing up. I got into this because I don't want anyone to ever have the same experience that I had. I want to help leaders get to the next level of greatness. And I want them to empower and inspire their teams and become the best versions of themselves and work in life. Stephen Matini: Do you have a favorite client? Like, do you prefer to work with teams? Do you prefer to coach people one-on-one? Kathryn Landis: I think where I'm at my best is when I'm coaching the leader one-on-one and their team. So we're doing both. So with the leader, helping that person think about, you know, how do they want to show up as a leader? How do they want to create followership? How do they want to communicate their vision? And then with the team, helping them to really operate most effectively and make agreements amongst each other and really think about how they want to create those working norms to be the best team they can be. Because everyone has to go to work. Everyone's been on bad teams. Think about the worst team ever been on. I mean, I'm getting like negative feelings right now just thinking about that. It could be at work, it could be at school, you know, it could be your softball league versus the best team you've been on. Wow, being a part of that best team really just changes your outlook, changes how you show up, what you're able to accomplish. And so if I can really help the leader as long with their team, that's where I think really making major progress and really able to make a major impact. Stephen Matini: So I have a theory about teams, and it's not based on any theory. I believe that the team leader is vital, you're like the orchestra director, you set the tone. However, the team and the chemistry within the team seems to have a life on its own. Sometimes you are lucky, you get teams that for whatever the reason, things flow. It's fun. And sometimes no matter how hard you try, the team seems to really feel heavy. So the question to you is, is it always possible to turn things around in a team?  Kathryn Landis: I would say it's always possible, but you also have to think about, do you have the right people on the team? Do you have people that have the right skill sets? And are they able to work together? So you can have diverse perspectives, but they can't work together, then it's not useful. Is their work interdependent in a way that motivates them to collaborate effectively? And is there a compelling purpose for the team? Do people know why the team exists, what their priorities are, and what the impact is to the customer or to the organization. I find that a lot of teams that are dysfunctional, there's not a compelling purpose for the team. People don't know why the team exists. There's maybe not the right people on the bus, or their work is not interdependent. There's just a group of people that are reporting to the same leader. So you really need those essential conditions in order to have an effective team. Stephen Matini: You know, “the right people on the bus” should be the title of this episode. Kathryn Landis: Yeah, something like that. Stephen Matini: As if it happened to you that often team members say, we do not know where we are going. Why do you think that happens? How can it be? Kathryn Landis: I haven't observed that as much. Maybe it's by virtue of my work. But for sure, an organization would have a more engaged and motivated workforce that they had a vision for the organization of where they want to be in three to five years, if it was motivational, if it was inspiring. And then that trickles down to what each team or department does. And then from each team or department, it trickles down to each individual. Why are you showing up to work? You know What's the contribution? It doesn't matter if you're in the accounting department or in sales, you're all driving towards this goal that hopefully is something that ladders up to something bigger than oneself. It has purpose. Because even if you think, hey, I'm working in an accounting firm, you're still helping a customer. Maybe you're helping small business owners making better decisions. So how can you take that mission and make it compelling and purposeful for your employees? So they're not just showing up for a paycheck, they're showing up to really change lives. Stephen Matini: Have you ever seen within an organization that has a specific culture that may necessarily foster transparency or full trust, have you ever noticed the existence of what I call islands of happiness? I mean, somehow there's one team that seems to work more efficiently than others.  Kathryn Landis: Well, a lot of your happiness, as much research would suggest, is based on your immediate boss. So if your immediate boss is able to create those conditions for what Amy Edmondson would call psychological safety, if they're able to motivate and inspire other team members, yes, there can absolutely be islands of happiness. But I think that at a more senior level, whoever is looking after the organization, that certainly is areas for concern. So is there someone who's being mindful of the discrepancy or the variance between the teams? Stephen Matini: You have been working with a lot of teams and different leaders. As of today, teams are very diverse, you know, often comprise different generations. Based on what you have observed, what would you say they are the main competencies that a good leader should have to lead the team effectively?  Kathryn Landis: So I think that we're in a unique time where you can have five generations at work. And I'm in a unique position where a lot of my clients are baby boomers or Gen X, as we call it in the US, or Gen Z or younger millennials. And there are very different expectations in terms of how one should show up in the workplace and that makes them work in life. A lot of it having to do with their own life experiences. And, you know, the Gen X and boomers do not understand the Gen Z and the younger millennials and vice versa. I see it with my students. I also teach at NYU. So a lot of my master's students are Gen Z. And it's very different. I had a student say to me, I just want to find a job where I can be there for six months and really contribute. You know As myself being an older millennial thinking, six months, after six months, you just know where the bathroom is. You haven't made a contribution. You're just training on boarding, but that's the longevity that folks are looking for. I think making ... one is creating shared values for that department or team, creating agreements of working norms and how you're all going to show up and communicate at work is so important. When I say agreements, a lot of people live in the land of expectations, meaning they want someone else to do something. Maybe they tell them what they want them to do, but people inherently wrestle with and they rebuff expectations. But if you can get an agreement with them, so you're both bought in, you ask them, how can I help you to meet this agreement? They're exponentially more likely to do it. So I think for leaders, what agreements can you make with your team members so that you're all aligned on the critical elements that will support a productive workforce? Stephen Matini: So if I understood correctly, the difference between expectations and agreements is that agreements are negotiated expectations? Kathryn Landis: Expectations are one way. It says expectation is, Stephen, I want you to show up at 9:00 a.m. of this podcast. And agreement would be, Stephen, I'd like you to show up at 9:00 a.m. this podcast because this is when it'll be most effectively recorded. How can I help you do that? What's going to keep you from doing that? Nothing. I'm going to be here. Okay. Can we have an agreement that that's what we're going to be doing? Yes, perfect. Now that's like a very simple example, but it's two way conversation and getting someone to say yes, and also as a leader, asking them what help they need from you in order to accomplish it. Stephen Matini: So it's more collaborative.  Kathryn Landis: 100% versus just having an expectation in your mind that you either don't communicate or you communicate, but then don't ask the other person what they need from you in order to achieve it. Stephen Matini: One of the things that I like to use in order to understand different generations is to see all these people, from Baby Boomers to Gen Z as humans that have the same needs. The human brain doesn't evolve as rapidly as our technology, but they come to life facing a different political scenario, different economy, different social situation, and such and such, and so they have to respond to a specific situation. In your opinion, and this is just in your observation, do you think it's harder for a Gen Z to deal with life than it was, let's say, for me, that I'm Generation Y?  Kathryn Landis: I don't know if I can say harder or less hard, but I will say that research states that Gen Z is as a cohort in a mental health crisis. There's lots of research that indicates that Gen Z is overall depressed, that Gen Z, you know, went through very formative years in a pandemic and are very isolated, the first true digitally native cohorts and haven't had that in-person interaction that a lot of the other generations grew up with and were accustomed to. So I think harder is difficult to define and to measure, but certainly as it relates to mental health, Gen Z is very much struggling. And that puts the leaders in a difficult position where they're being asked to play multiple roles outside of, you know, strictly that of the supervisor. Stephen Matini: What would you say that could be the kindest gesture that you could provide to Gen Z? Kathryn Landis: I don't know about kindest gesture, but I wrote a co-wrote a Harvard Business Review article about helping Gen Z find their place at work. And what we do know is that Gen Z really cares about transparency. This is a generation that has always had information at the fingertips. So to the extent that you can be transparent and explain to them rationale and reasons why, it's very useful. Also, expecting them to even be open with some formerly taboo topics, such as, you know, salary and compensation, they're talking about it. Transparency is really critically important to them. Perhaps that's the most, the kindest thing, but I also would say vital thing is transparency. Stephen Matini: Very often in organizations, it's not possible to have the level of transparency. Like from my perspective, it seems that a lot of people struggle a lot with organizational politics, which is this invisible thing happening all the time, you know, understanding who's who, who has power, what you can say, what you cannot say. How do you see Gen Z fitting into this web of politics?  Kathryn Landis: I think Gen Z is really struggling to figure that out. And I think it's amplified by the fact that a lot of them, a lot of folks are remote working or hybrid working. So you're not getting that, quote unquote, water cooler talk that you would if you're in the office, and you're not getting the mentorship of some of the more seasoned colleagues that you might overhear if you're just, you know, walking by. It's more difficult for Gen Z to find out. What I've seen organizations do do that ineffective is maybe have like an ERG (Employee Resource Group) for Gen Z so that they group folks can get together and talk about issues that are important to them or topics that are important to them, pairing them up with a mentor that can help them navigate the organization, for example, and bringing folks together in a way that's meaningful. There's lots of talk about how folks don't want to go back to work. Well, they don't want to go back to work and do the same job that they can do at home. You have to think about what is the purpose of bringing people in the office? How can you make it more intentional? And how can you create relationships, collaboration, moments for interaction that can't be done virtually or online? Stephen Matini One of the things that my clients struggle the most right now is to be ready in five years from now, 10 years from now, to a demographics within their companies that would be completely different. And one thing they realize is, how can I keep these people? How do I attract the Gen Z? How are they going to be here? So for anyone who has that issue, you've already pointed out a lot of wonderful things, including on mentoring and such and such. What would you say that are some of the things companies should be really aware of and to be proactive so that they can really create an environment that is ready for Gen Z in the future?  Kathryn Landis: Well, first and foremost, accepting the fact that employer loyalty has changed. Most Gen Z, I was reading some research this past week that upwards of 70% of Gen Z are already thinking about their next job and planning to move the next two years. So accepting the fact that there is not that loyalty and that you have to earn that retention every day. It's a different mindset than that feeling that you're going to be with an employer for five years because that's what you're supposed to be on your resume. Also, majority of Gen Z want to be their own boss. They want to be entrepreneurs. 90% of Gen Z has either their own business or they have a side hustle or a side gig. So thinking about ways that you can align incentives, understanding what their career goals and aspirations are and how you can keep them engaged and doing it in a very intentional way will be very important. Stephen Matini: I saw an interview with Jodie Foster, the actress. She's promoting a new, what is it? TV show now? I can't remember the name, anyhow. And at some point, she was joking with the host that she said, Oh, my God, working with Gen Z is so hard. You tell them to show up at nine and they show up at 10. Do you think this is a fair statement?  Kathryn Landis: I think that is based on different people's perspective. And I can't speak for Jodie Foster, but for many people, it's table stakes to say, if your boss tells you to come in at nine, you come in at nine. For Gen Z, you have had different life experiences than someone of, I'm not sure the age of Jodie Foster, but you know someone else who's grown up in the workforce where you just did what your boss told you to do and it was more an authoritarian style, you know it can be quite shocking. But I would say, you know, to that Gen Z employee, this is why we need to be here in nine. Can we make an agreement about this so that we can achieve X, Y, Z? And it might seem like you're going out of your way or maybe even a little bit ridiculous, but it'll go a long way to getting that buy-in and creating a more fruitful relationship. Stephen Matini: So one of the things that I read about you and your experience with Gen Z, you said it that it seems to me that Gen Z are a generation that is a purpose-driven. Would you mind explaining more this concept? Because it seems to me to be very central. Kathryn Landis: What I mean by purpose-driven is that they want their work to have meaning, to make an impact. You know, they've had a huge impact on politics in the U.S., huge socioeconomic issues. I think Black Lives Matter, you know, gun control. And, you know, they are becoming accustomed to having their voice heard as this up and coming cohort and actually looking to work for and buy from companies that put their money where their mouths at. Are you actually sustainable? Do you actually promote diversity and inclusion? Are you living the values that you put on your website? And so they're voting with their feet. And I think that that is quite admirable, but also puts maybe some of the other generations under the microscope to really do a lot of the things that they said they would like to do or would do. You know, a fun fact that early 2024, Gen Z is going to eclipse baby boomers in the workplace. They're only here to stay. So for all those employers out there that are thinking, oh my goodness, how am I going to manage this? You got to start trying. And you know I'm happy to share more information around that. I have a talk around age diversity at work, a talk around how to lead Gen Z is kind of teasers into helping managers and leaders think about how they can most effectively support Gen Z, but also, you know, the more mature workers in there who in their workforce who might be facing ageism or feeling like there might be left out as well. So you have this dichotomy of both ends of the spectrum. Stephen Matini: Something happened to me recently. I started a program with the company and it was about making everyone more sensitive about age differences, ageism. You know, that was really the topic. And then as we started working with the managers, basically they put together cross-functional teams, you know, and I would facilitate the conversation. But it came out, it came out, well, it doesn't seem to us that it seems to be such a big issue here. You know, we don't think so, although we understand the importance of preparing and to have a culture that is welcoming that type of generation. But anyhow, reasoning with them, what it came out is this one, that every single time they're able to be more functional in terms of organizational synergy, when that is really strong, that's when they're able to really leverage the strengths of every single generation. Whereas when there's no cross-functional synergy, all these generations, all groups, they become separate. They have difficulty communicating. Have you ever observed something like this in your projects? Kathryn Landis: Well, I think that there's no cross-functional synergy, as you put it. There's a lot of problems, and it's not just age-related. So things just aren't going well and kind of goes back to my worst team scenario. So when things are going well, maybe the tip of the, you only see the tip of the iceberg, but you don't notice what's going on underneath, right? But you know once you know maybe the company's not going so well, all that stuff that was underneath the water is there. And that's when, you know, the truth comes out about what's really been happening. Stephen Matini: You work with people and you help them out. How do you preserve your energy? Kathryn Landis: So actually, I get energized by working with people. I really enjoy helping and supporting people because that's what I feel like is my purpose. You know, that being said, I have to do my own self-care. For me, that means eating real food, because I have a tendency to get off on and let myself go with, you know, protein bars and protein shakes, which is not good, you know, drinking water and exercising. So I think all those things, if I can be physically healthy, you know, really impacts my mental health so that I can show up to my fullest for my clients. Stephen Matini: So we talked about a bunch of stuff, you know, a lot of different angles and ideas. Out of everything we said, is there anything in particular that you would say our listeners should be pay attention to?  Kathryn Landis: The first thing that comes to mind is intentionality. So getting clear on how you want to show up as a leader, how you want people to perceive you, and then doing self-reflection to say, am I behaving? Am I showing up in the way that I intend? And I'd also encourage you to solicit feedback. So do you have what's called a personal board of directors in your personal life, in your colleagues at work that you could get feedback to find out how you are showing up? And then asking for suggestions or advice about how you could improve to become that leader that you envision yourself to be. Stephen Matini: If someone asked you, what is intentionality to you? How would you define it? Kathryn Landis: For me, it's being self-aware, you know, being really focused on your behavior, on your mindset, on the way that you are engaging in the world, particularly when you're stressed, right, and all things go by the wayside. That's the moment of truth. Stephen Matini: And going back to we're talking about Gen Z, as a leader, how can it be intentional about my Gen Z employees? Kathryn Landis: Yeah, I think it starts from the moment that you're in the interview, you know, to really share what the values are of your team and of the organization, and ensuring that there is, you know, a good fit there, that there are shared values and alignment. It's important during their onboarding process that Gen Z is connected with the right people and the right tools and resources to feel like they're getting the support that they need, and they're making the agreements that will foster a productive relationship. The more you can do upfront to invest in that relationship, you're paving the way and it will benefit tremendously later on. Stephen Matini: So maybe to those listeners of this episode who are Gen Z, what would you like to tell them?  Kathryn Landis: Keep it up. Be curious. You know, absolutely. Listen. Know that you can learn from all different people. You can learn what you want, how you want to show up and how you don't want to show up. And, you know, look for opportunities to find mentors and sponsors. And if you're not sure what that is, Google it. And I am excited for you and your career and what life has in store for you. Stephen Matini: Oh, thank you, Catherine. I think people are going to feel really good about this. Thank you so much.  Kathryn Landis: Thank you, Stephen. Take good care.
May 22
25 min
Simplifying Numbers - Frederic Neus on Unveiling the Power of Numbers for Strategic Growth
My guest today is Frederic Neus, Founder of JK7 Consulting. Frederic is known for simplifying financial management for his clients so they can confidently focus on growing their businesses. In our conversation, we explore the crucial role of financial management in fostering cross-functional synergy.  For Frederic Neus, cross-functional synergy starts with the CEO's clear strategic vision, with goals cascading down through different functions to foster collaboration among departments. Many professionals, even those with business backgrounds, need more financial literacy. For Frederic, this is a significant gap in our educational system, leaving many entrepreneurs and CEOs guessing the real story behind numbers.  For this reason, Frederic advocates the critical need for entrepreneurs to proactively seek professional financial assistance to navigate complexities and ensure the long-term sustainability of their ventures. Listen to the episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, or your favorite podcast platform. How do you unveil "the story" behind your company's financials to make strategic decisions? Share your story! Subscribe to Pity Party Over for more insightful episodes. Questions? Email Stephen Matini or send him a message on LinkedIn. #fredericneus #CFO #financials #JK7Consutling #simplifyingnumbers #pitypartyover #podcast #alygn #stephenmatini #leadershipdevelopment #managementdevelopment TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: I was thinking about a conversation, and the one thing that was really curious is; after working for so many years as a CFO, what have you learned to be a successful approach as a CFO to interface correctly with all the other functions within an organization?  Frederic Neus: You need this ability to interconnect with the people and to really interest in what the other are doing.  As a finance person that is always seen as the serious guy and a number, a cruncher, if you don't go to them and get interest in what they do, you are not going to make happen. That's the best way to return and to make them understand, that you will share with as information as numbers, or to open their eyes in order to grow the company at the end. Stephen Matini: You shared with me last time that you tend to be very people-oriented and also you have a certain commercial understanding of a business. Would you say that these two components helped you communicate with other functions better?  Frederic Neus: Yes. There is a difference between a good CFO and a great CFO. A good CFO will be the one that's very technical. He knows his number and he's doing the right business sense and all the technical. To me, the great CFO is the one that has a good understanding of all technical part, but the greatest is a leader with a commercial approach, business understanding people-oriented approach. These two are what is making the difference between a good and a great CFO, that's for sure. From my part, what has made me different in terms of people has always been an increase in the performance of the company because you make people work better in a nice atmosphere. You were speaking before but was collaboration with the other department, that is a key, because if are not business-oriented or people-oriented, you will not get the others participating in all this, which the company overall suffer. And also being people-oriented helps the company overall to have a better people retention, of course in the company and not only in the financial department, but overall. Stephen Matini: Sometimes there's a cultural element within organizations that impacts what it's called the organizational synergy, meaning the ability of all the functions to talk and to work together. Somehow some companies seem to give priority to some function. So to give you an example, lots of companies are commercially driven. So the sales function is seen as “The King” of the company, those are the ones who bring the money.  So in your opinion, when you work in a company in which cross-functional synergy doesn't happen, what would you say that could be a first step that anyone could take to go more in that direction? Frederic Neus: It’s a difficult question. I would say. I don't think there is recipe for that. To me it starts from the strategy. If you have a great CEO, we have clearly defining our goals, our strategic goals, and that there is a cascade of these goals between the different functions of the companies, that clearly defining those goals by the pillars of the company and without forgetting the interconnection between these pillars. All depends on each other's for sure. It all start from the strategy and then you state the objectives and this allows you to have this interdependence between the different pillars, functions of the company as you say. But yeah, obviously I agree with you, “The Kings” are always commercial. Stephen Matini: Why do you think people become so tribal with their function and somehow struggle with interconnectedness?  Frederic Neus: This is a lack of and alignment from the start. Again, you don't that CEO which has that vision and the team spirit of connecting everybody, you have big chance for non-success. If you don't manage as a CEO or as a management team to play as a team, you will keep the silos in the company and everybody will sit there in his silo and do whatever he thinks is good for him, which means that is not good for the company. You have some entrepreneurs, so the CEOs of the company, they are doing it on purpose. You know?  They are keep the people separate. In order for him to have got this link with control with everybody, he is sure that everybody had passed by him, which at the end of the day to me show a lack of confidence in himself rather than anything else. Stephen Matini: I love when you said that you have to be able to tell the story through the numbers. Do you think it's because you experienced both working as a CFO within a company and now as an external consultant providing SCFO services to companies. Would you say that it's easier as an outsider or an insider to tell this story through numbers?  Frederic Neus: There is no black and white. As an inside for sure you already know the company because you have this time of you go to good companies or big companies. You've got this onboarding where you go through knowing everything, starting your job, well most of the time saying that it's everywhere, but you have more time. And from that perspective, I think it's easy. So what we do now as an external, we've got onboarding process, which at the end of the day it's rather technical because you need to get the data, you need to ask questions and everything. But the main purpose of this onboarding process is really to get feel and to ask right question in order to understand what's going on in their company in order to provide them good value as quick as possible. You've got to understand very well the company and the business they are in order to provide the right support and the right value as a CFO, being internal or external, at the end of the day, it's the same. But then if one is easier than the others, I would say that being internal is easier, but we are trying to be as effective as an internal by having this perfect onboarding process. Stephen Matini: How did you choose this slogan, “Making the Invisible Visible” for JK7 Consulting, which is so simple but so great? Frederic Neus: We were in a session in order to get to the right sentence for our vision and mission, we came up with different possibilities and two of us more or less arrived with the same thing. We're trying to bring to our customers that understanding of what is happening in their company, because 95%of the time, they don't know half of what's going on in their company. They don't know all the interesting element that is in their numbers because they don't know how to get there. And so this is our first job. Let's create the right visibility and the right understanding of what is going on. And it's not easy, but with simplicity. Because I mean I already told you about that, but if you, yeah, I'm a great CFO and I'm the best, and then you come up with ratios of liquidity, assets, whatever. I mean your customer which doesn't understand already his number, if you come with that, they will understand even less. If you don't speak their language, you're going to lose them even more. So we create visibility to the past, and then we are going to create another set of visibility, but to the future, a more strategic one. In this scenario, 1, 2, 3, this is what is going to happen with your company if you do that, this is from a number perspective, this is what will happen. This is a nice element because it allows that CEO that we were talking before to start to realize the impact that he can make by doing that that that in this company. And the first element to that, the first consequence to that, is an intangible element, which is the peace of mind. I will never stop mentioning that the peace of mind of the entrepreneur, the boss of the company, this has no price and we cannot forget that. So these are things that are very key in our job and therefore making the invisible visible is to meet the differentiation of what we do. Stephen Matini: A lot of people, well, you would assume people that do business, they must have gone to business school or study business. And yet I'm always amazed to see how little people understand of numbers. And I'm one of those people, I'm definitely by no stretch of the imagination, someone who's just so savvy, but somehow I guess because I've always worked for the most part as a small entrepreneur, I need to make sense of this entire world.  So the question for you is this one, why would you say that a lot of people that come from business backgrounds, somehow they seem to have such a hard time with numbers and to navigate through this complexity of numbers?  Frederic Neus: Finance is complex. It is complex, it's a difficult subject, but if you look at the economy in general, there are people that are making masters and for five years to understand that, then you can expect that these guys, they understand what they do and what they talk about. So yes, economy is complex tax regulations. I mean you go all over the world. I mean it's different everywhere. You understand nothing about that, even the tax guys, they understand nothing about that to be honest. And you've got the financial jargon. You go to big companies for example, and you go to listen to a financial presentation and you are not a financial guy, you would understand 20% of it because most of the words that they are saying in there doesn't exist even in any dictionary. So to me, this is something I always say to my kids as well, the education, the financial education. You go to school, they don't teach about finance, whatever type of finance, even personal finance or how to manage your money properly, nobody speaks about it at school. On top of that, there is indeed, as you said in the business in general, there is a lack of financial background. The basics of the financials for the entrepreneurs, they are not there. But I can tell you that most of the CEOs of these small entities, of that big company, they were not, I would say at ease with financials neither. This is a fact also in the big companies, OK? There is also something which is bad is that a lot of these guys, they don't realize the importance of it. So they don't get the point that numbers are there and needs to be, we need to do something with it. But until the time that you will not have somebody that will explain that properly with your word, you will not realize. Stephen Matini: So let's say hypothetically you are with the leadership team, and you do realize that the people working with you have a little understanding of numbers and they have in front of them in financial statement with millions of different numbers. Where do you bring the attention to? I mean, is there any specific figure on a financial statement that somehow you tend to emphasize first, to simplify the matter? Frederic Neus: We always try to demystify the financial, because at the end of the day, we are the guys, as the CFO ,or a financial team. We are the guys that need to absorb the complexity, which I was telling you before. Well, it looks simple, but it's not. We need to absorb the complexity of the numbers and tell a story to the guy that is in front of you, whomever it is, that he will understand from his own point of view with his own filter in order for him to understand. So it is quite difficult. It's complex because one is different than another and it takes time, but the quicker you get there, the better it is for the company. And this is not black or white because it can be different from the company to another depending on the industry they are in. But most of the time we have a five or six element that we are trying to speak is always about revenue for sure, because it's an important element. It's not the most important. I want to be clear on that. You have the gross margin, which is really, I take an example. If you are selling goods, so you've got your revenue, so how much your customer is paying for that, and the cost of it, what you are paying to your supplier to buy these goods, if you are distributing these goods. One minus the other is the gross margin. So it's really the business, what it costs you for that business. The percentage that go with it, so gross margin as a percentage of the revenue, this is always a relationship that you're trying to do. Then you've got the net profit, which is important because below between that net profit and between the gross margin, there are a lot of elements like the remuneration, you know, whatever costs you've got in there. And then cash, cash is important. So we are tracking cash obviously, and mainly in SMEs is even more important. And then we've got the working capital aspect. So we keep it as important because that's the balance sheet element and you're tracking the day-to-day of the company. When you look at working capital. Stephen Matini: As you said, it's about telling a story. So in any story, an element that is super, super important is the conflict. And so in the story of an entrepreneur, based on numbers, who would you say usually is the villain of your story?  Frederic Neus: We are trying to avoid any bad guy I would say, because at the end of the day, the story that we are telling to our audience. If the numbers are good, there will be no bad guy. I would say if the numbers are bad, there will be different bad guys all the time. So at the end of the day, we are always trying to share the story in the more positive approach as we can, because otherwise we are already perceived as the bad guys, us as financials, because we are always pointing the finger to something bad that doesn't work. You have to always approach it in a positive way and explain to your counterpart with bringing solution on the plate, and do you agree with this solution? What elements you can bring on the table that will help us to find more solutions? You always need to position yourself as a coach, basically. Stephen Matini: As an entrepreneur, what would you say are the signs that would make me understand that I need someone like Frederic to come in and to help me out, so I need a professional financial management assistance?  Frederic Neus: Whatever the size of the company you have, you need financial assistance from the start. I have the feeling that we are at pivotal points where more and more people are getting to entrepreneurs rather than employees. And to me, we are at a point where the SMEs will need to last longer than the human generation. To make it clear, we'll need to build companies which will last for longer. Because now when you look at the bankruptcy rates, it's crazy. I mean, it's increasing year on year and you had a lower peak at Covid because I mean the States stopped putting bankruptcies. So this is an element which for us, it's our vision, this will happen. What we are playing in this is that we want to play a role in that by doing what? By bringing the clarity, which I told you, and creating that strategic visibility to the entrepreneurs in order for them to play along the game with a sustainable growth. And of course with the peace of mind, which we cannot forget, I told you before. When you look at that, generally speaking, you've got two to three different type. The first time is the company which are reading in trouble. When you are sick, you feel bad and you go to the doctor, most of the time it's already late because you didn't anticipate and do something about that. So we have this type of persons, which are already in a very bad situation, sometimes close to bankruptcy. You've got the other one, which is also in a bad situation, but already not that bad. And then he needs to start thinking about that because he sees really signals that he's entering into a turbulence. And then the third one is the one that are growing. I mean the one that has this company and it's booming. And then it start to see, am I doing the right thing? Am I going into the right direction and everything? So most of the time we've got these three scenarios, but I need to tell you that the first one is the one that is coming. The question that they have most of the time is simple. I have profit, but I don't have cash. So how come what's going on? I don't see my family. I'm working like hell and I am going nowhere. We are in June and I don't even have the numbers from the last year. I want to do an investment, but can I do it? I don't know. I would like to hire people, but can I afford it? I mean, I'm doing everything. I'm doing my invoice, I'm doing this, I'm everywhere. I need to meet my clients. So that's really the situation where the people are in a complete mess to not to say something else. And then I have a rapid growth, a big expansion, and I'm not in control of the thing anymore. So this is a point where you need to realize that you need to be backed up with somebody that has the right knowledge to put to implement the thing. You enter into complex financials transactions. You are thinking of raising capital, for example, because you need to get either loan or you need to have a new owner on board, or ... I mean these are signs also, or you do a mergers for example. These are signs that you need somebody that is going to support you in this. I mean, I was saying sometimes you've got numbers, but you're not sure they're right. And this is always something that happen. You've got big debts and you don't know how to manage them. So there you come back to the cashflow. Where am I going with my cashflow? What's going on to happen? You have your costs which are not under control, so you are spending to hell and you don't know where and you don't know why, and you are not negotiating properly with your suppliers or you are in doubt about that. Business valuation needs for example. I mean, this is also another element which is important. I mean, people are always looking at today, okay, what is my profit? So also you need to understand that your company has a value. And more organized your company will be, more you build a system that is working alone, without you no dependence on yourself, more the value of your company will be obviously. Stephen Matini: What would you say that is maybe one thing that you would like our listeners to focus on based on everything we said?  Frederic Neus: The point is that you cannot do it alone, it's impossible. I mean, you are the pilot of a company, but any plane, there is a copilot. You need to be challenged by somebody. You need to be supported by somebody, and this can be done with a person that is going to help you, to bring you all this experience and to be this day-to-day challenger. And most of the time, finance is the topic that is not under control. I have my accountant, but the accountant is doing the accounting most of the time on an external basis, and they do a great job these guys, you need to be honest. But what we bring to the companies is not accounting, we are really giving them strategic advice on the day-to-day of the companies in order for them to grow, and to gain that peace of mind. So what I would say is that the people cannot do it alone, and they need to be challenged on a daily basis and to have an eye opener in order for them to have this peace of mind and that grow mindset. Stephen Matini: So you help them write their story. Frederic Neus: Yeah. Bringing clarity to their day-to-day and to what they do, et cetera. I mean, that is not that difficult, even though it is if you want to do it properly and with the right point and to put your finger where it's really painful for you to understand. But again, the story you will explain, it's key. Most of them what they do now, they receive a financial statement from their external accountant, which has been done on a yearly basis. We do that, but on a monthly basis because there needs to be that recurrence of the numbers because that's the only way that they need to be. It would be in their head. So the recurrence is very important, it's very key. They will start to fix their objective by looking forward rather than backwards. So when we do our monthly calls with our clients or our monthly meeting with our clients, we spend, I would say, fifteen minutes to the past, and I would say one hour and a half to the future because that's what you need to talk about. I mean, what am I going to do now that I know what happened in order for that to not happen anymore or for that to happen? So you have to shift your mindset to the future and to the solution rather than the past. Stephen Matini: It's all about having someone who has experience to support you, and I love the fact that your approach is positive, is about simplifying, is about looking forward. So I love it. Thank you, Frederick, for everything you taught me today. Thank you.  Frederic Neus: You’re welcome. Thank you.
May 15
28 min
A Purpose Bigger Than You: Finding Success through Learning, Helping, and Loving - Featuring Paolo Gallo
Paolo Gallo, author of, The Seven Games of Leadership and The Compass and the Radar, brings a wealth of experience from his leadership positions at the International Finance Corporation, The World Bank, and The World Economic Forum.  Paolo stresses the significance of aligning our decisions with our genuine passions and skills. He also underscores the importance of clarity in discerning our priorities and recommends embracing confusion as a regular aspect of self-discovery. Listen to the episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Podbean, or your favorite podcast platform. Please check Paolo Gallo’s books The Seven Games of Leadership and The Compass and the Radar, and use the affiliate links to support Pity Party Over at no additional cost to you. How do you navigate life transitions while maintaining a sense of direction and purpose? Share your story! Subscribe to Pity Party Over for more insightful episodes. Questions? Email Stephen or send him a message on LinkedIn. #paologallo #thesevengamesofleadership #careerdevelopment #pitypartyover #podcast #alygn #stephenmatini #leadershipdevelopment #managementdevelopment TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: Have you always had clarity about the trajectory, what you wanted to do? How did  it work for you? Because for a lot of people, they find out who they are and what they want to be later on in life. Even myself, I take all kinds of detours and turns and I learned about myself as I went, but your career seems to be so very clear, very almost like if you knew where you were going, at least that's the impression that I got. Paolo Gallo: I believe I had, but not because I'm particularly clever, but because I had clarity in what I wanted to do in my life since my early twenties and without tending to many things. But I started to study economics mainly by default because they said, oh, law, I think it's too boring, medicine, I faint if I see a drop of blood engineering. No freaking way. I don't understand mathematics. So I chose economics mainly by default. So it wasn't really totally convinced choice when I started university, but as I was studying this subject, all of a sudden things start to make a lot of sense. You study economics, finance, strategy, marketing, accounting, human resources and law and sociology, and all of a sudden I start to see a puzzle that fit together quite well. And then in the third year, I studied human resources and organizational behavior and bingo, I said that's exactly what I wanted to do. And I haven't changed my mind since then because I've always been passionate about developing people and organizations. And you may see that the last 30 years, that's pretty much what I've been doing in different contexts, in different organizations. But I have this clarity of thoughts and clarity of feelings about what would be my trajectory since my early twenties. And now that I'm in just turned 60 recently, I like to think that I've been doing what I loved for the last 35 years and I've not regretted. Stephen Matini: Amongst many different experiences, and that you work in human resources really a super high level, you work for the World Economic Forum, for the World Bank. What is your fondest memory of the time, something that you may have accomplished that somehow is really dear to your heart?  Paolo Gallo: Listen, more than accomplishment, perhaps, there is a story that I also quoted in some of my speeches now because I start working for the World Bank. And yeah, I was happy, but I wasn't a hundred percent yet into the role. And a few months into the role, my boss asked me to go to Africa and been to Ghana and then to Senegal. Our first trip to Africa, I remember the driver said to me, listen, I'll take you to a village where I come from. And so we went to this village and then he showed me, said many years ago in this village we didn't have a well, and my mother used to walk seven kilometers each way just to get two buckets of water. And it was polluted water and it was a dangerous journey because it's full of a wild beast. And then the UN War bank came the build this well and for extra stuff and the life of our village changed. So it took me to see his mother. Of course, they I speak the local language and she couldn't speak English, look at each other and the mother hug me. And I have to say that's the moment which I realized why I joined World Bank, why I was doing what I was doing. So more than an accomplishment, I like to think that the moment in which I realized the purpose of that organization was exactly there. So it didn't come rationally, it didn't come, cognitively came from my guts and my heart, and I found it was a very important moment in my career to build this sense of purpose that perhaps I didn't have so strongly when I was working for Citibank. Stephen Matini: As you're talking, I'm thinking of the word success, which means the different things to different people. For you, success is connected to purpose?  Paolo Gallo: Yes. My first book, I start with a story. The name of the book is called The Compass and the Radar. And I kept on telling the story to myself and also to people that listened to me, including now because my father once, when I was at the beginning of my school, literally I was six years old, he told me, Paolo, please remember every day you go to school if you learn something new, if you helped all the people and if you love what you're doing. And that's the reason why I call the compass of success because to me, my own compass has been quite clear my own mind to see do I learn something new every day? Did I help somebody or at least did I do something helpful and do I still love what I do? If you have clarity about these three questions, then the rest, I don't want to say it's marginal, but it's not so essential because I think the motivation comes when you are linked with a purpose that is probably bigger than you when you love doing what you're doing, so you are able to deal with some of the difficult moments that you are having in whatever journey you're taking in your life and the helping others are dominion a condescending way, but in terms of building relationship of trust with individuals, that is going to last forever. So relationship cannot be only transactional, which I refer to you only because I need you to be based on trust. So you have the clarity about the learning, the helping and the loving. I think you have a clear definition of success. Stephen Matini: Everything you say sounds so wonderful to me and these are also values that inspire my own career. In your career, have you always met people that welcome this way of thinking or were you some sort of a weird ball?  Paolo Gallo: I wish I could tell you absolutely yes, and in which case I would be on delusional or on the drugs. So once I told my daughter, everybody loves 007 movies because there is a villain in the movie. Now without a villain, you must think that the movie is quite boring. So you meet villains in your journey, you meet people that are, let's be English more than Italian, not particularly pleasant or helpful. And this is a moment where you have to verify the solidity of your values. You confront yourself with what I'm prepared to do. Oh, you're not prepared to do in a given situations. So the answer to your question absolutely no, but I think that overall, if you look at my 30 plus years experience, the number of good guys are overwhelmed, the number of bad guys, some of the big guys are really bad. There are one or two in particular that were absolutely awful as human beings, but these people pushed me to confront my values and to stand on my feet and once it cost me my job because it was fired by one of them. But what I consider at that time shameful, I now realize that it's actually probably my biggest achievement inside professional life. Stephen Matini: The concept of staying true to oneself is really central to your thinking, to your approach to life. What is the difference between a compass and a radar?  Paolo Gallo: The compass is remembering what you stand for. No, it is a value and I'm referring to, it is the definition of success, which is not about visibility or fame or money or power, but it's about meaning. It is about helping and it's about learning. And the radar is the capacity to open the window to see what's happening outside. Because one of the features that I realized in my own life, I met a lot of phenomenal people, incredibly good in doing what they were doing, but for some reason they lacked the intellectual curiosity to go one step further, to stand the effect of whatever technology that is an impact in their job or demographic or whatever. So the radar is the capacity to maintain this intellectual curiosity to keep on learning and also in psychology called contextual intelligence, the capacity connect the dots and to know how a given topic will have an impact in whatever activity you perform in your role or sector or position that you have in a company. So I think that if you have a clarity about compass and intellectual curiosity about the radar and you keep it open all the time, you may end up in a good place if you're exclusively focused in doing very well what you've been doing, you become a prisoner of what I call the better game. In my second book about The Seven Games of Leadership, the better game is great, you improving, doing what you're doing, but there is a moment where perhaps it becomes a trap it because if you keep on doing well what you've been doing, maybe you'll miss that something else that is happening. The example they provide is VE were produced in the best type machine in the world and then one day they that nobody was buying them anymore, but they didn't focus in developing computers and the thought were to business literally in 36 months after 60 years of a successful journey. The same happened with individuals. So I always encourage people to say, listen, you may be credibly good in doing what you're doing, but please try to anticipate what is coming next because if you are non reactive move, then you may end up in a difficult spot. Stephen Matini: Would you say that someone can balance the inner dialogue with all the stimuli that comes from the outside? How do you think that you can find the balance?  Paolo Gallo: In my second book, the first chapter is called “What the Fact Moments” because there are a lot of events that derail our attention to and our focus, and sadly we had a lot of these moments in the last few years from Covid to the world in Ukraine, and what's happening right now in Gaza, is a continuous derailed of our tension and our focus. Not to say that what's happening is not important, but to say that most of the time we spend time in focusing on something that is not relevant or we cannot change. Okay, or a very limited the first time is to say, are you focused in what really matters to you? And focus doesn't mean obsess and you ignore everything, but being aware of what's happening around you doesn't mean that you are not focusing on what you should be doing. That's one element. The second element is I ask also my clients in coaching and conferences, two very simple questions. One is from 0 to 10, how proud are you of what you've achieved? And most of the time people say nine, eight, they look with pride with what they have achieved and rightly so. And then ask another question, which is from 0 to 10, how proud are you of what you've become? It really is a powerful question. And when I ask this question, usually people immediately stop and they visualize the delta, the difference between the effort that they put in achievement and the unfocused of becoming. And sometimes ago, I will not tell the name of the person obviously, but I'm coaching several CEOs, people that are running huge organizations, thousands of people, billions of revenues, and one of them probably the most powerful that I'm coaching, and you remain silent for a few seconds and they started to cry and I didn't expect this reaction and I said, what's happening? And I said, yeah, listen, my salary, my compensation, you know that I'm on newspaper every other day, but what you don't know that I have three failed marriages and three of my four kids that don’t want to talk to me anymore and therefore I failed completely as a human being, as a father, as a husband, even if you see the image of a very powerful rich individual. I don't want to have a psychological analysis of the individual, but it's really to be mindful that it's like the two muscles that you have in both arms. You have to develop the achievement side, you have to get stuff done, you have to apply the knowledge in so concrete, but you also have to grow as an individual. And that's the focus of my book, The Seven Games of Leadership. They tried to explain the seven phases of personal development that are a prerequisite to become a credible leader in whatever organization, contest, community, operating. One question that ask people, and funny enough, I mean it's not funny because it's a bit of a sad example. He came up today on a Italian newspaper. There is a former soccer coach called Ericsson that used to be the coach over the English national team and also some Italian teams here. And they said, oh, I have cancer. I have one year to leave. So I asked question, to myself and other people, if you are given one year to leave, would you still continue doing what you're doing? If the answer is yes, that is great. And if the answer is absolutely not, I would leave it tomorrow morning. Then my question is, do you need to have cancer to reflect about this question? And here, of course it's not because I wish people anything bad, but it's simply to say, okay, can you think that if what you're doing right now makes sense to you as an individual? I'm trying to push people with my coaching session and with my speeches and with my book to think about essential questions, not about when can I get my next other increase or maybe next promotion. Stephen Matini: One of the question that I ask myself that allows me to understand whether or not I am aligned with myself is would I want to be somewhere else in this moment? Quite frankly, I'm very happy to be here. This is exactly where I am. I'm enjoying myself, I'm doing exactly what I want and I know that this is time well spent. Sometimes I don't have the kind of luxury we all have to work and do things that we don't enjoy as much. But knowing the difference, knowing when I feel that way and when I don't feel that way, I think it makes a huge difference, particularly moving forward and making choices. They are as much as possible, they resonate with me. Paolo Gallo: This is actually a very good point, and just to provide another practical example, yesterday I just opened the May because I wanted to read. I was contacted by one head and to say, dear Mr. Gallo, I hope you're doing well. Please let me know when I can call you because I have a very interesting role that I'm sure you may be interested in considering. Can you give me your phone number, I’ll call you ideally by the end of the week. And I said, thank you, Mary, but I'm really not interested in any role because I'm too much fun in doing what I'm doing right now. And she said, okay, thanks for letting me know. I didn't want to sound arrogant, but just the idea that all a sudden I have to go back to nine to five, it's never been nine to five, it's been nine to eight maybe with a boss and maybe if I'm lucky, I can take a week off at Christmas and maybe two weeks in August. That's not the life that I've for me. So I think it's important from time to time to take stock of what you're doing and also to understand in my book, there's a concept which is called congruence. If you're congruent with who you are, if you are in the right place, and as you said, if you feel like you want to be there, it's the same with people, and I work with your wife, with your husband, with your kids, if you'd rather be somewhere else, then you're in the wrong place. If you're so happy, maybe to have a soup with your wife and you prefer soup with your wife and then maybe being alone in the Maldive, then you are in a good marriage. Sometimes time is important to have a taken stock and to reflect rather than just being moved by actions and getting stuff done. Stephen Matini: In hindsight, everything is so much clearer, in general, but if you could do it all over again, I mean your professional career, and if you could have known back at the time one of the insights of your book, The Compass and the Radar, which one would you use? Paolo Gallo: I tend to trust people. And in few occasions, I have given trust to the wrong people, and this is a mistake that I've done more than once in my life by falling in love with people, situations and professional of course, and then being deeply disappointed at the end of the journey. But at the same time I feel like, okay, should I become paranoid and distrust everybody? I prefer to be disappointed 10% of the time that never be disappointed, but never to enjoy any conversations. So that's perhaps one on one point. The second one is probably I got worried too much about situations and people and perhaps now that I'm different age, I could have taken more likely situation that were maybe difficult, but not necessarily life-threatening or dramatic. But when I was in that moment, the entire world was evolving, relating to these quota problems I was trying to solve inside of human resources. So in retrospect, perhaps I should have not slept, lose a lot of sleep over our performance management process or our pension system or the recruitment of somebody that I did in the past. Stephen Matini: Are you still an adjunct professor? Are you still teaching or you don't?  Paolo Gallo: Yeah, I do. I do is part of my activity and I think that what I do is that in terms of coaching, writing or magazine or books, giving speeches or seminar or workshop and teaching is part of the same debate because everything feeds everything else. So when you give a speech, you have to get prepared. When you get prepared, you have to study. When you study, you become a better professor. When you become a professor, you get better feedback when you get better feedback. So I think everything is correlated. So I like to think that whatever I do is part of a cohesive puzzle that makes sense to me and that's what matters to me. Stephen Matini: How old are your students on average? Which age group do you teach to?  Paolo Gallo: I do executive education. So I used to do undergraduates, I now do executive education, executive education, it really depends, but probably people between late thirties to early fifties. So people between, I dunno, let's say 12, 15, 20 years experience, they want to go to the next phase, they want to go deeper in certain topics and I kind of enjoy because these people already had a significant portion of their professional life behind their back and saw the very deep and meaningful conversation about problem. I've learned all the time by talking to them, next time actually be on Tuesday when I will be talking to 270 people in Milan and I have two hours, but I always say two people I want to have half of the time for questions. Anytime I give a speech, I say, I don't mind if you give me three hours. I'm not going to talk for three hours. That's a long one. But I want to have a list time of half of the time are located for my contribution for questions because question is a way to reflect and to also understand if whatever you said has an impact on the people that are listening. Stephen Matini: What is the question that you hear more frequently from your audience about career, career alignment and such?  Paolo Gallo: Well, listen, several of won, but if I go back to the book that's been just released, The Seven Games of Leadership, it has been released in October and I've done so far about 22 or 23 presentations now this book and quite lot of people, they were quite well prepared and already read the book. And what I love is when somebody believes that what is written is being meaningful to him or to her, not because they fell in love with the line with a quote or with the lyrics, but because bingo, that's exactly where I am right now. To give us specific example in The Seven Games (of Leadership), that is what I believe is the most difficult game of all, which is a crisis game. And the crisis game is a moment that usually occurs in your mid forties, but it could be a little bit earlier, a little bit later where you scratch your head and you're thinking, do I want to do the next 20 years of my life the way I did the last 20? So in soccer terms, do I want to play the second half the way I played first? Usually the answer is no, I don't. I want to do something different, but I still have not figured it out what it is. So what really gives me joy is when people read the book or maybe listen one of my speeches or read one of my articles and come back to me, say what was written is exactly the way I feel and therefore there is a validation not about the validity of my book, but the validity of the instruments that offer to the readers. And this is a moment where I feel that whatever I'm doing makes sense not only to me but also to other people. Stephen Matini: Do you remember the time when you got the first spark about this book, The Seven Games of Leadership?  Paolo Gallo: Yes. I mean, of course. I shared the story at the beginning of the book where I always asked my daughter, she's now 18, what have you learned in your school. Two years ago over Christmas holidays? She said, daddy, but you've been asking me this question for many, many years now it's my turn. What have you learned.  And I said, shit, that's a powerful question. So I asked a little bit of time to reflect, and then I told her the story and she said, daddy, I love your story. Why don't you write a book about it? And that's why I wrote this book. What I told her is to say, listen, I met thousands of people in my life now in my professional life, in interviews, seminars, workshops, coaching webinars or whatever, and that's been wonderful. But what I realized that I did not meet a thousand of people. I had the same conversation a thousand of times because certain topics, certain challenges comes regardless of any of the variable, okay? So you can be a banker in Switzerland, you can be agriculture specialist in Washington, DCO, you can be an engineer or consultant in whatever company. There are issues that comes up regardless of the job that you're doing. And as reflecting about the conversation, the topics, I realized that were seven clusters of issues that came up. And I noticed that there was a sequence in these conversations, and rather than call them phases, which is a kind of a Jung definition, I call them “games,” because every game implies the understanding of the rules and the capacity to go from one to the other because you cannot get stuck in one game from all the entire life. So I was triggered by a conversation with my daughter and then the rest followed up based on my reflection and some hard work to come up with that book. Stephen Matini: What would you say that is the biggest difference in terms of leadership, what we need today from a leader, compared to what the need for leadership used to be, I don't know, 20 years ago?  Paolo Gallo: When I proposed my book to Bloomsbury, they asked a very good question and the question was, Paolo, do we need another book about leadership? And the answer is no, probably not, because there are thousand of them every year, millions. If you write leadership on Google, you have a 15 million century and definition, the stories are so different. So should I add another one to the very crowded and intense topic? But I also realize as I've been working and studying leadership for many years, and I think I've worked with a lot of leaders and them, you have three school of thoughts when it comes to leadership. One school of thoughts is tell you what the leader should be doing. And so it is a focus on the deliverables, and this books are very technical. They focus on KPIs and business models and this kind of stuff. The second school of thought is to say, actually this is what the leader should be. And so you described some ideal behavior, probably more meaningful to me than the former one, but at times is a bit aspirational. And at times also they indicate stuff that very difficult to reconcile and quote an article, let’s say a leader should be somebody with 30 years of eyes on, but being able to get a profit every quarter, which is kind of difficult to being able to reconcile. The third school of thoughts that I saw is you take a leader and you describe what he or she has been doing, and they say, just do what Steve Jobs has been doing and you'll be fine. That's very interesting to read, but the contest is completely different, your brain is completely different and it's very difficult to say you can be the new Michael Jordan, if I'm telling you about the life of Michael Jordan. I mean it's difficult to get there. But what we realize that there are very little, if nothing, except in other disciplines like psychology or other discipline, they said, how do you grow as a leader? What I mean by as you grow as a leader is not how you become from manager to director to director to vice president to vice president to managing director. Now it's how you grow as an individual, which is a prerequisite for you to be a leader. And I haven't found a lot on that topic. So I wanted to fill this gap by saying, listen, if you want to have a to do list, it's not my book. If you want to be list, maybe there's some element of it, but it's not there. If you want to see the autobiography of the story of a very famous individual, there are plenty up there. I'm trying to help you out in understanding what could be or would be your journey for you to understand where you are and for you to reflect and perhaps to continue your journey with your own thinking legs and critical thinking. That's the overall purpose of this book. Stephen Matini: Is it connected to what we said at the very beginning of our conversation, the meaning and the importance of knowing your purpose?  Paolo Gallo: Yeah, I mean that to me is very important because I'm a very simple guy. I mean in a very humble and genuine way. When I say simple, it means stupid. It means I've clarity about what is essential. And to me, I always ask myself, when a nice people, when are you at your best and which activity when you perform, you lose track of the time, when you are in the zone, and you see with kids, kids when they play, they even forgot to eat and they even forgot to go to the toilet because they're so focused in the device, doesn't matter. And it's a beautiful things to watch because they're so into the game, they don't care about everything that is around them. Okay, why? Because they're freaking focused. And let's go back to the beginning of this conversation. So then when you ask the question about when are you at your best, I realize that I'm going to be best when I have a total autonomy of my time. And two, when am I helping organization teams of people to grow. So I realized that if I were to do an activity where I can do this with autonomy, then I will be at my best. And why not your best? You produce wonderful results, and when you produce wonderful results, people come to you and you don't have to worry about money. But if you start by thinking, oh, I want to make a list of 10,000 per month, and you start to devise a way of tricking people, it just doesn't work. I'm pushing people to think, when are you at your best? When you lose track of time, when you find the energy to do it? And equally, what are the sort of activity just thinking about makes you sick, tired, disgusted, bored, annoyed or disengaged? Because focus on the stuff that gives you energy and then you probably have a direction of your personal and professional life. Stephen Matini: I really do believe that if we focus a hundred percent on our truest talent, what makes us happy, that's usually where you find all the solutions. It's just that for myself, that happened later on in life. If I'd known that at twenty, probably I would've made different types of decisions I think. Paolo Gallo: The day before yesterday spent one hour with the daughter of very d friend of ours that is struggling on that decision, and I realized that was a huge amount of anxiety and pressure related to her decision about her professional life. What I found helpful is to remove elements that pollute in your decision making because they're not essential in your final decision. Let me give you an example. This is a person that has brilliant, severe, she's speak three languages. She worked for six or seven years. She's now in her early thirties and she doesn't know what to do next. And one question is maybe another MBA or maybe completely change sector. So there were a lot of stuff, and she has an element about logistic, about should I be stay in England or go to another place? One element about what's about my boyfriend, we love each other and I don't want to be distanced. One element about finance to say, well, some of the MBA are very expensive and I can't really afford or maybe ask for more money to my family. Some element about should I been able to do maybe work? And B, at the same time, there was a lot of stuff that is very difficult to reconcile. So I'm asking people to say, remove what is not essential. I'm not saying the money is not essential, but you should not get married with somebody because maybe he has available by the sea. No, you should be married with the person because you love it. No, if there is also available by the sea, even better, but should not be the decision that drives your final outcome. So when something creates anxiety, usually is because there are too much stuff to handle at the same time and you have to remove stuff from, it's like when you put things in order in your bedroom on your dining, no, you have to remove stuff and then all of a sudden you have clarity when you focus on something that is very meaningful. And one it exercise that I ask people to do is exercise or visualization. So close your eyes and you open your eyes and you have a day in front of you, which day do you want to have? And if the answer is, I hate thinking about going to university, then issue is not the money. You don't want to go there. But if the answer is Jesus, I mean I really would love to learn more about artificial intelligence and I dunno anything and I'm fascinated by this topic, et cetera, then you have an indication that perhaps this is a good avenue. So in decision making, most of the time we feel blocked because the decision is, I'm going to say a funny word, is constipated by too many staff, the blocking the fluidity of your thinking. So remove stuff that are important to consider but not essential on the first place. And then step by step, you can end up having a much better decision making if you have a methodology that allows you to drive a decision in a meaningful way. Stephen Matini: So as of today, what is your definition of clarity? How would you define what clarity is?  Paolo Gallo: Perhaps by understanding what is not essential? And what I mean by this is I just been to a restaurant with a friend and you go through the list, they say, no, no, no, no, and then you realize what you like. To me, it's also clarity about what you're not good at. It's clarity about what you're not interested in doing, in the capacity, as I wrote in my book also to let go certain things that are perhaps not relevant anymore. Let me provide an example because again, I always love giving examples. When I was a in human resources at the EBRD European Bank for Reconstruction Development, I set up a group for the head of human resources of international organizations. And so in 2004, I organized the first meeting of head of human resources and there was a success and there were about 60 of them coming from all over the globe, head of human resources for international organization like ... , the World Bank, the IMF, the United Nation, the NATO, et cetera, et cetera, WTO, WHO and ILO, and this kind organization. Great. And the second year I was the keynote speaker. I was at the board and for about 16 or 17 years, I've been participating as a founder with another guy called Pierre of that group. Then I left, stopped being head of human resources in 2018. And on LinkedIn I saw that these former colleagues of mine were organizing a meeting and I wasn't invited. And part of me was very disappointed and very hurt by the fact that, look, I've been the founder, I created this group and now they don't even acknowledge that I created and I don't even invite me. So I was upset for a good couple of weeks. Then one day I thought, but I'm going to say Palo, you have decided to do something else in life. You have decided to be an independent thinker, to be a writer or a professor, author, et cetera, et cetera. You have removed your T-shirt with head of your resources, why you even care? And so this clarity of what is not essential helps to be focused on what it is. But if you don't have that clarity, you may regret that, oh my God, I'm not part of the group, but part of the group was part of our role that I decided not to have anymore. And therefore, clarity about what is not essential usually helps in understanding what you're to focus on. Stephen Matini: Do you ever get confused or fuzzy about what to do next? Or are you always clear?  Paolo Gallo: I’m clear after the confusion. What I mean by this is, and I'll give you maybe another example, mindful that you are close to the end of this conversation now. When I stopped being an HR director and I became an independent consultant, coach, also a professor, whatever you want to say, I use this analogy, which is I felt that I opened an ice cream shop with 50 flavors because I was able to do many things following 30 years of experience and studies and MBAs and blah, blah. I made available a lot of services to a lot of people, but then ended up doing coaching with one person, the revision of a performance management process to another organization, developing a leadership development for another one, doing a workshop for somebody else and teaching the university. There was a lot of stuff going on. So it was a bit of a confusing moment for me. But then at the end I said, okay, if I were to have an ice cream shop and now summer is over and I closing the ice cream shop, what did I learn by looking at the clients that came to my shop? And I realized that most of the clients wanted to have three or four flavors. I mean, nobody want to have a banana ice cream, but everybody want to have a chocolate ice cream. So what does it mean to me? It mean that clarity about what the clients wants to have first point. The second one is interested in developing the best chocolate ice cream in the world. If the answer do it and dismantle and stop producing banana cream in, the answer is no. Maybe you suggest somebody else for the chocolate ice cream, but you produce something that is still relevant for the client. So what I'm trying to say is confusion is part of the creativity process, but you need to have a methodology for you to say, what did I learn by listening, by working and by being in different debates with different people. And then you can have clarity about what did I learn at the end of the season? So what did I learn by listening these people? And if 80% of the clients asking three things, then preparing 47 dishes makes no sense. I think it's much better to prepare four dishes and do it brilliantly well. And that's pretty much part of the learning process that I've learned when I became an independent consultant by say, I don't want to have a menu with a 75 items. I want to do four things, but incredibly well. And if somebody called me to say, Paolo, can you do a performance management or bonus system? I know how to do it, but I'm not interested in do it, and I have people that can do better than me. And so I call this guy, I need to sell this and call our, call this company. They can do better what I can do, but from the average plus. But these people will do a super job. But if you want to have a super job, please ask me these three things and I'll deliver it to you. So confusion is a necessary part of the creative process provided that you have a process perhaps to provide clarity at the end of this confusion, Stephen Matini: This conversation is a delight Paolo, I really love it. Thank you so much for your time. We cover so many different things. Is there anything that you deem our listeners of this episode I should focus on? Of all points that we touched?  Paolo Gallo: Well, first of all, Stephen, the pleasure is mine because always great to have a meaningful rich conversation in a psychologically safe space, and you've been able to provide this. I'm very grateful for your kindness and also your intellectually stimulating questions, so I'm grateful to you. The second question is, I think that from time to time, I always say to people, we are human beings, we're not human doings. And from time to time is helpful, and perhaps the beginning of the year is a good moment to do this for a second pose and reflect about where you are in your journey. And it's not about I'm a manager making 3000, I want to be a director making 5000. That's not really what I need. It's to say, where are you in your journey as a human being? Have you not only achieved also become? Have you invested in improving yourself as an individual, not only in terms of making more money or having more power? And so I know it sounds a bit of a commercial, but reading The Seven Books (of Leadership) could be perhaps a moment of reflection that can help the reader to understand where he or she is and to understand how to continually progress in your journey as an individual. So I don't want to, sounds like please buy my book because frankly I make one euro per copy. So I don't care because you don't write the book to make money. But I think I wrote the book for the sake of supporting people in their professional development and perhaps reading my book could be a way, not the only way, but a way to achieve that character Stephen Matini: And probably Bloomsbury said yes to “another leadership book” because they sense that it's not just a leadership book based on how you describe it. So I'm going to get it. I'm going to read it. I'm going to get inspired. Paolo Gallo: Thanks so much, Stephen. It's been such a pleasure and I hope I will. Professional path will cross again and grazie and thank you so much for your time.
Apr 23
42 min
Lifelong Learning: Unlocking Your Endless Potential - Featuring Dr. Marcia Reynolds
Our guest today is Dr. Marcia Reynolds, one of the most influential figures in the coaching world. She has contributed to the industry through groundbreaking books Breakthrough Coaching and Coach the Person, Not the Problem. How do you make time for learning and growth with a jam-packed schedule? When we stop learning, challenges feel like giant puzzles. To succeed in the many facets of life, Dr. Reynolds encourages us to make learning a core value. Lifelong learning is not about seeking perfection but the journey of a lifetime. Dr. Marcia Reynolds suggests “wandering” as the mindset of curiosity where we ask questions, challenge assumptions, and remain open to learning from others. Despite years of experience or expertise, it’s vital to maintain a humble attitude and acknowledge that mastery is an ongoing journey that unlocks endless potential. Listen to the episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music or your favorite pocast platform. Please check Dr. Marcia Reynolds' groundbreaking books Breakthrough Coaching and Coach the Person, Not the Problem and use the affiliate links to support Pity Party Over at no additional cost to you. How have you carved time for learning in your busy schedule? Leave your comments, thank you! Subscribe to Pity Party Over for more insightful episodes. Questions? Email Stephen or send him a message on LinkedIn. #MarciaReynolds #Covisioning #Coaching #Curiosity #GrowthMindset #Learning #PityPartyOver #Podcast #Alygn #StephenMatini TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: Have you always been this way? Has it gotten easier to be a learner as you mature? Are you more of a wanderer today compared to the way it used to be? I mean, how does this work? Marcia Reynolds: Those are kind of two separate questions and as you ask the question about learning, it's almost like for different purposes at different times in my life. But I do have a value for learning and I don't know if that's an inherent value or inherited value you because it was, you know, a very important part of my culture that we get educated and we learn things and we question, which I really love that I was taught very young to question not just accept always. I can remember that wanting to just hunger to learn more about this. If I hear something I wanna know more. I don't wanna just take it at face value. But the look of learning, you know, has changed over the years. I mean younger, you know, is pursuing lots of degrees and I think if I was independently wealthy, I would continue to do that. I was blessed with liking school, not all the teachers, but, liking to be there and have access to things that I wouldn't normally have for myself for learning now, you know, it's very focused because I really want to, I'm so focused on coaching and understanding how coaching works so we can do it better and better that the learning is down a lane, but it's still there. I'm still like hungry to learn, but just for different purposes. I think though the, the important thing is that it is a true value, not just something I have to do, I need to do. I like it. So to really commit to learning, even if you don't quite like researching, what is it that would be most fascinating to you that you'd just like to know a little bit more? You know? So go down a path like I've now narrowed my path. It's not learning in general, but learning for purpose. Stephen Matini: When people, sometimes that happens to me. When people tell you, I don't have time to learn, I'm so busy, what would you tell them? Marcia Reynolds: Well, first I would ask them, so what does learning mean to you? You know, because obviously you have a picture in your head of what learning is, is maybe like sitting somewhere and reading books and maybe you don't have time for that or going to school. But if learning is just going places and listening, like last night I went to just an hour class, you know, that I wouldn't normally do. I usually would sit and watch TV. But I went to this and it was fascinating. It was an area that I would not even have normally thought about, but it sounded interesting. Last week I attended a discussion group. It was a dinner meetup discussion group, and we ate and, and talked about certain topics and I got to meet people. So you can combine learning with networking, even in a meeting at work to sit there and to question what has led them to believe that help me to understand and maybe ask to meet with them later. Could you tell me what were the things that led for you to believe that that decision was most correct? I'm just really interested in your perspective. So being interested in a perspective is even learning. So what is it that would be useful for you to know a little bit more about and you know, how could you then engage people in a way that you could learn without, you know, having to go somewhere to get it? Stephen Matini: Have you noticed over the years a change in the way people approach learning? Marcia Reynolds: Well, as you were saying that it, it sounds to me there's a connection with, I think I don't have time, so whatever it is you give me make sure that I can use it right away. Although I'm not so sure that's new. Being that I was, you know, used to run training departments and my second master's is an instructional design, it was always how can you make this applicable? That's nice if they enjoy just sitting and listening to you talk. But if it doesn't change what they do is there an ROI? But I know that over the years, like even yesterday, coaching.com is changing their summits and she says, we decided we need to do it more workshop. You know, where people are engaged and they're doing things and they know then how to use it when they leave. I think there's more of a demand to interact. We've always known that was important to learning, but I think there's more of a demand for interaction so I can apply it now. So it's just an evolution. I don't see it as a change. Even my book that's coming out in a few weeks, it's kind of like the next version of coach the person, but there's far more resource tools and exercises and you know, it's an interactive guide. It's something that you work with. That's how people get the concepts of what I'm trying to teach, you know? So even I went that way with writing the book to make sure that there was more things that they could actually engage in and do mostly with others, but even with themselves. And there's questions all through it. Not just to ask when you're coaching, but to ask yourself, am I willing to give up being the expert in this situation in order to engage and coach people in a different way no matter what. Whether it's, you know, being a leader or part of a family, I think the who are you is really important. So I do see engaging people's minds and their doing as becoming more and more forefront in how we teach. Stephen Matini: Because you've been around coaching for such a long time and you're still so deeply passionate about it. What is coaching to you today compared to, I don't know, maybe five, 10 or 15 years ago? Marcia Reynolds: I signed up for a coaching school in 1995. And so I've been learning and coaching for quite some time. In working with coaching.com or taking my foundational breakthrough coaching program and making it self-study, I had to sit and watch 32 coaching demos that I did since 2020. It was torture. But what was fascinating to me to see even my evolution from 2020 to now, so, you know, and I've been coaching over two decades that I'm still, you know, learning and growing and that I went from coaching 40 minutes to now I 15 minutes and we're like, breakthrough and done, you know? But I found that the real shift was when I really stepped into that being that I'm totally curious about this person's way of seeing and the questions that come from me is, is my being of being with them as a thinking partner of fully stepping into that and not being the expert and not being the person who needs to lead them in any direction, but really, really, really, I'm gonna help you think. And so every reflection and question I use comes out of this interaction. We have to explore their thinking and as they explore their thinking, it expands. You know? And the more that I believed in that and, and was just that, you know, just blended into that being the more profound the coaching was, you know, it went deeper faster and it created insights that changed their minds and how they were gonna do things in a much quicker, memorable, sustainable way. You know? And so I think as in anything we learn, you know, the foundational skills you have to do that. And then we're much more deliberate and conscious, consciously aware of what we're doing. And as we get better at it, it starts to sink in and we don't have to think about it. And to the point where I can finally create a collective space with this person, that what shows up in between us in our conversation is what's incredible to both of us. It takes belief, it takes trust, and it takes practice. And I fortunately have been around long enough that I've been able to really get that into my bones. But I in the process, continue to learn what that means. You know, what exactly is am I doing? I'm not sure, but let me see if I can parse it out so I can then write about it and share it with other coaches so they get it, you know, in service of what, it's been a an incredible journey and I'm, I can't wait to see three years from now how different I'm coaching than even now. Stephen Matini: When you look back to your career as a coach, is there one specific contribution or client or something that you are super, super proud of? Marcia Reynolds: There's always this one woman that comes to mind that she was tough. You know, she was resistant. She'd get angry with me, but I just stayed in in that what I did was just ask her a question. And I knew that the question I was asking, I wasn't leading, but I knew it would challenge, but I had the courage to ask it anyway. She needed to explore this, you know, if we were gonna go any deeper, this was a block. It was interesting because the day we started, she was like, and she worked for a global pharmaceutical and I'm like, so what is it that that you really want to that create from our relationship? She goes, I need to change positions. I should be CEO of this company and they don't get it. And then she was like, I think I need to leave because they don't understand me. And I just said, we've got six months here. Could you gimme that that we could explore this? 'cause I would really like you to, to absolutely choose where you're going based on your needs instead of leaving behind what you don't like. And she did and we explored what, who she was as a leader and what was really possible and what she wanted to create. And after that she ended up running a medical clinic and then ended up being the head of health and human services for one of our states here. And the next time I saw her, she had her limo pick me up at the airport. So I would say that that was a great, great thing 'cause she would've just leaped to some other job. You know, this comes back way back to when you mentioned about wandering. You know, you can wander with intention to the next challenge or you wander because you can't stand what's going on right now. But you know, when you first asked me the question I'm like, wow, there's so many, you know, like the woman that was a general manager that they were divesting her division, she wanted to be CEO of, of the new company and she ended up getting the position. They hadn't weren't looking at her that way when we started. So there's been quite a few shifts. Many of them been women I've, you know, coached men into seeing themselves as the leader that's going to really create a difference, you know, which is different than what they thought they were going to be. I've done a lot of that too. So there's a lot of moments I'm proud of, you know, but there have been some profound accomplishments, I, promotions, accomplishments, being that people have done, even the ones that have decided that it was time to move on. I coached a bank president for eight years that now runs a stitchery shop and she's happy as can be. So I think that's why I'm so passionate about coaching is that there's all these ways that we affect people's lives without telling them what to do. You know, or giving them our best advice that they discover, created, have the courage to go there is just always so delightful to observe, you know? And to have the privilege to be a part of that process is just amazing. Stephen Matini: Delightful and privilege are beautiful words to describe that feeling. Do you still, probably not, but do you still ever get anxious about, okay, I have to be present, but I need to perform? Or at this point you just are? Marcia Reynolds: For the most part, I don't think when I'm coaching, so it's not really there, you know, when I'm working with coaches, doing demos, teaching, and even when I'm hired by companies, it seems to be not a problem anymore. I don't question it sometimes when I've had individuals hire me, you know, and there seems to be an expectation. I just had a request just this week and the person he described is like incredible. And, and I really thought, am I gonna be able to just let go of being in awe of this person and challenging when the challenge needs to happen? Am I gonna be able to do that? And I'm glad I'm asking the question because if I don't feel I can do that, then I can't coach the person. But it is interesting when it does , it's like, okay, so what about this intimidates me that normally, you know, anything else wouldn't, but it still comes up Stephen Matini: What's mastery to you? Because we love to learn, learn. So do you ever reach mastery or it's just this thing that you try to achieve and never get? Marcia Reynolds: Well, you know, it's interesting in, I think it was 1999, the ICF pulled together who they thought were the hundred top thought leaders in coaching at the time, but it was, so it was quite a while ago. And we met in Vancouver and they broke into tables. And my table had that got that question, is there a destination? What is mastery to coaching? And what we all agreed to was that it's not a destination. You're always on a path of mastery. It's not a path to mastery. One of the people, Richard Heckler, is a multiple black belt Aikido. And I took Aikido for five years and we talked about, you know, in martial arts you never are the master. It's always a path of mastery. There's always more to embed and to develop and to be that. Maybe there are a few masters, but even they will tell you that they're still learning. And so I think that when you look at that concept, that's the same with coaching. If you feel you've made it, I mean, it's like the, the whole thing. There's no such thing as a comfort zone. You're either moving forward or you fall backwards. So, you know, I think that's the same thing and that I get a lot of comments from experienced coaches on my demos and LinkedIn and you know, that attend my classes and they say, wow, I had forgotten. You know, I got to a a a bit of complacency thinking, okay, I am a great coach now. And then watching you going, oh my , there's so much more. And people always say to me, I mean, they may call me a master. I'm like, no, no, no, I'm on the path too. And I have the, the great honor to teach it, which keeps me learning and growing as I have to learn more. Like I said, I, I'm doing this mastery program, it's gotta be different. When I first did this, a man who's become a friend of mine, his name is Alan Briskin, and he wrote a book in 1990 called The Stirring of the Soul in the Workplace. And that was pretty out there for 1990. And I remember I was running a training department for semiconductor company and I remember finding that book and like, oh my, that's what happens often in the corporate world, is the soul gets degraded or lost. I followed his work and then when I first published with my publisher, we had a retreat and there he was because he worked with my publisher and we've become friends. He's written a number of books on collective wisdom. It was at the beginning of the pandemic. I hired him. I said, Alan, I really wanna bring collective wisdom to coaching, so I wanna hire you. And he says, well, I'm not gonna consult with you. We're gonna have 90 minute dialogues. And what comes out of the dialogue is going to be whatever it is you learn. Exactly. You know, it's like coaching. Yeah. You know, I'm not gonna tell you what to do, so let's just have this conversation and see what emerges. It was fascinating. We did this like twice a week for three months. I mean, I so look forward to it of what came out of it.   And he said too, how much he learned. 'cause He didn't know that much about coaching and everything that we'd talk about. I'd say, okay, so let me put this in a coaching context. He was just so fascinated about that. So I didn't go to a coach, guru master, I went to someone else who I saw had mastery in something that we could use in coaching. There's so much of that that exists, you know, I mean even like there's that one coaching school that uses a lot of Buddhist thought. You know, there's so much more in disciplines and modalities that we can take from and integrate to deepen the impact we have in coaching. Obviously I'm fascinated by, you know, okay, so what's next? There's never an end point. I think we'd get bored if there was. Stephen Matini: At the beginning you said that being a learner and a wonderer, those are two different separate questions. So who is the wonderer then? Marcia Reynolds: So when I was getting my doctorate and it came time to do my dissertation, you know, I went in to learn the whole neuroscience of learning and leading. But everything I wanted to do, I thought, I'll never finish this in, in this lifetime, you know, and I understand why a lot of people are a, b, D that never finished their dissertations, you know? And I was sitting and listening to this man speak and he was talking about the difference of men and women in the workplace. And he was so wrong. You know, as he described women, I'm like, that's not me and that's not the women I coach. I you don't have a clue. Then I went out and I started researching and you know, they were defining women and their challenges all the same. We don't speak up, we don't lean in, blah blah. Which is, you know, some women don't, but a lot of them do way too much. So I chose to research smart, strong women in the workplace. And what I found with the hundred women in my research study, the most common thing was that they wandered, they'd go into a job and within a couple years, you know, they were excited. A couple years they were bored, not enough challenges, not enough places to move unless it was a huge global company and they could maybe do some lateral moves, weren't that interested in climbing a ladder. They were interested in movement and learning and growth and that it had to be significant, it had to be meaningful. And I was talking to a man that works with archetypes and he said, oh, they're wanders, you know? And I'm like, oh my, I'm a wander. I did the same thing. I would go only stay with a company five years, you know, went from this to this to this jumped industries. I didn't care. If I had no idea what, what the company did, I'd figure it out, you know? And then I wrote the book Wander Woman, based on my research and from the book, a lot of people came to me and even, you know, a lot of the younger generation of men saying we do that too, you know, like maybe our fathers would stay with with organizations for a very long time. So there wasn't a stereotype that it was just women. But I think women still do it more when I'm finding my coaching, that they're more willing to leave and trust that they'll find something that they're not going to like, not have anything. And so wandering, it isn't just a learning and and wandering in my mind being me, it's actual physical wandering, you know, the whole been there, done that, what's next for me to learn and to grow. Yeah, learning has something to do with it. But again, because learning is a little bit more, you know, mental, where the wandering is physical. It's so funny because when I talk to people and in my mind I'm like, oh, you're a wanderer. And I remember him making the distinction. There are settlers that will go in and create amazing things and then stay, you know, like some of your major CEOs and then they stay, they settle. So there are settlers instead of wanderers. And not that they settle, you know, but that they settle in to what they have created and they wanna stay with that. More wanderers is like, I go there, I create great things and now it's time for me to move on. I did until I found coaching. But even with coaching, I couldn't sit and just coach all day, like some people do. I do a lot of training. For many years I did a, before the pandemic, I did a lot of speaking at conferences, writing and there's many times where I'm just sitting and writing. So there's a lot of wandering to what I do within this business that I've created. So it keeps me going and I'm creating new programs this year, you know, and it's like, okay, so you said you're in your fifties, I'm 68, you know, it's like, well is there gonna be a time I slow down? And I keep thinking, yeah, I think there will be, but I don't know when , you know, because it's still so fascinating. There's so much to learn. Stephen Matini: Do you prefer coaching over other tools or you like them all? You like training just as much as coaching, just as much as writing, speaking, or do you have a preference? Marcia Reynolds: I do like writing. For many, many years I was a writer, teacher when I first came into coaching, when people would ask me, it was very difficult for me to say I'm a coach. I do like coaching, but I think I like writing and teaching. Writing to me is sharing. It's not like just sitting down and writing a fiction book. It's what I see is needed. When I teach, let me write about it. To me, they kind of go together. I do not like sitting and doing all my teaching by Zoom. So the pandemic like killed some of that. Oh yeah. I love to teach, well not 3, 4, 5 hours by Zoom, you know, at some point that's gonna be done with either, you know, I do it live 'cause I prefer to do it live. I'm fine with tr People are like, oh, you can stay home now. It's like, no, I don't wanna stay home . I wanna be out in the world with people. So I prefer, you know, live training, writing and live training. But then I'm always doing a coaching demo in every program that I do pretty much. And so I guess you'd still say I coach, you know, when I teach, so it kind of blends together, you know, a lot of times when I speak and they're like, so tell us something that people wouldn't know about you. Well, most people wouldn't know this, actually, I think the last 10 years of my corporate life was, I wrote Fiction, you know, I've got like three books up on a shelf, maybe one day I'll pull 'em out and fix 'em up, update 'em in a little bit. That was the way I dealt with my stress level of, of working and primarily male tech companies where I was often the only woman in the room and I'm not a big person. I had to be loud and annoying and all of that , you know, so I get it. It was like such a a, a nice escape to write the fiction. Stephen Matini: You think it's possible for an executive, let's say CEO, to be a learner and a wonderer? Because those people to me, I work with, a lot of them are big loners oftentimes, you know, very much misunderstood. Oftentimes they cannot share a lot of stuff, a lot of pressure, and they have to produce results. So is it possible for them to really have a learning and, and a wonder, a mindset. Marcia Reynolds: Under mindset? Well, you know, it's interesting 'cause a lot of it was over the pandemic. I was coaching a number of executives in this company and the CEO I wasn't coaching him, but every now and then he reached out to me and said, you know, I've just been reading this book and I it could we just talk about it? You know, and he was all over the place and what he would read and you know, but you're right, he didn't have anyone to talk about it. But what often would happen was his exploration then would create a little bit of conflict of values with what had to be done in, in the company. And so part of it was having to resolve that I cannot live by the values that seem to be developing and coming through me and work with these people. So again, it comes back to the concept of what is learning. In my last company, one of the reasons I, I attribute my success to is to this champion I had when I started. We had a program together, he was like the head of quality and he quickly moved into being a director and then in our time together a vp and now he's like the senior vp and you know, he to the CEO and a huge company, we would argue a lot. But in the service of learning what he loved, to really dig deep into what it was I was teaching. I remember this one other VP said to me, I think I wanna support what you're talking about, but honestly I have no idea what you mean. This other guy would like, I'm not sure what you mean, like, can we like explore this? And so it was like two different ways of looking at it. I don't know what that means. So I'm not gonna spend time with it or I dunno what that means, you know, help me understand, you know. So it's a different thing that I even think when le leaders really get into a coaching approach with people that what they're doing is an active learning process. See, I see coaching as a learning technology. I do not see it as productivity, problem solving therapy. I don't see it. I see it as a learning technology, you know, and that was what my research has been since the late eighties is on learning the creative insights that we spark. It's a middle band process. It changes perspective and creates sustainable change. And in learning, that's what we're looking for is how do we create sustainable change? That's what companies want. But it comes a a a lot out of curiosity just to start there for a leader to turn to someone and say, you know, that's interesting that you're saying that you don't think that this has a long-term sustainability. So tell me what sustainability means to you. That's a coaching approach to get the person starting to think about what they just said. But it also gives the leader a chance to look at maybe there's a different way this person is seeing this than I do. So we kind of learn together. So just asking, what do you mean by that helps us both to learn in that moment that we can possibly expand our perspective or at least understand what's going on in a different way. You know? And then getting into, so what are the things that you considered that led you to believe this, you know, would be a second question, which again makes them think about it. You know, maybe they haven't considered everything. And also for you to see as a leader, what are some things maybe I didn't see, you know? So again, we learned together just by those two questions, what do you mean by that? What did you consider to bring you to this point, to this belief, to this decision? Powerful stuff in just two questions. Stephen Matini: So you say coaching, it's a learning technology for sustainable change. So of all the possible words that you could have chosen, why did you choose technology and sustainability and sustainable? Marcia Reynolds: Well, again, remember that I come out of 11 years of working in the tech world. So it's part of my language. So as a technology, I like it better than a methodology. 'cause The word method then is very limiting. Where I think a technology is really an overall process and that I see it as a part of learning. And that the technology of learning sustainability is because that's the word, you know, again, in in especially in the tech world, they're looking for sustainable change. Sustainable change, what creates sustainable change. And in learning, that's what we're looking for. You know, people can come into my class and at the end give me all the happy faces and say, oh this was so fabulous, I love this. They try a new communication technique or something and it feels awkward. They go back to old behavior. So what's going to jump over that block that it feels weird. I'm not going to do it, you know, because I'm the leader and I should be perfect or whatever that is. And so I find that coaching bypasses that and gives them a little bit even more courage and confidence to stick with what they've learned until it becomes a part of who they are. In that sense, it creates a sustainable change. 'cause I'm working with who you are, not just what you do, which is what creates the change. Now I'm not talking about skill-based learning, you know? 'cause That's a different thing. I, I see you do it, I try it and then I do it myself. That's, you know, a standard. See, do try, do whatever. Talking about like leadership and personal growth, Stephen Matini: You published several books and now in a few weeks a new book is gonna come out. Do you feel as excited as other times? Is it different this time? How do you feel? Marcia Reynolds: It's different in the sense that coach the person is such a huge success. My previous books have done well and they still sell, but coach the person was off the charts. One of my is now one of my publishers bestsellers, you know, and so I, it there's both the, okay, so most of the people that bought that, it's gonna buy the next one. So it should do well. But there's also, what if they don't like it as much as this one ? So there's always the comparison. What if it's not as good as, and I've never met an author that didn't go through the process of while they're writing the book thinking who's gonna read this? Or you know, they're gonna judge this is not good. Or they're gonna see this as it's just replicated what I said before, you know, and all the negative things that people can say about it. You spend a year of your Saturdays sitting in front of a computer creating something and you're like, is it really worth it? You know? Which is just normal process that I think authors always go through. So I'm sitting here now like a few weeks away from the book launch and going, what if it flops not likely to based on the success of Coach the Person. But there's always that question and you know what, so what if it did? The people who will benefit from it will find it. Stephen Matini: What is your biggest hope for this book? Meaning let's say I get your book, I read it. What would you hope for me to get out of the book? What is your hope, your biggest wish? Marcia Reynolds: Well, you know, I think that's what coach the person taught me was that even to this day, every day I get people from around the world connecting with me on LinkedIn saying, I found your book. Oh my God, thank you. I really, really understand coaching now and I've gotten so much better because of your book. And then you know, all the other things that you put out there. I want the same thing that, oh wow, you know, I was really getting it and now I have an even deeper understanding of what it is I'm trying to create and how to do it. I want them to just feel more confident and believe in the coaching process that if we stay in coaching, you know, really being their thinking partner and not revert to, you know, 'cause I always get the question, but what if they really, you know, need me to tell them? What is it that led you to believe that? Most of the time I find people do have the answers inside of them. They're just afraid to apply what they know. That's what we're doing. If somebody had absolutely no, no experience or idea of what something is, then probably they need a little bit more guidance. But even that, I've had like people who were brand new leaders and said, but I've never been a leader before. And I always say, yeah, but have you worked for leaders? Yeah, well what did you like about them? Or what did you hate about some of these leaders? Boom. We get into the conversation. I don't have to tell them what a good leader does. You know, they know, they come from the, I've never done this before. I don't know how, but they do have perspective. You know, can I pull that out first before I assume that they need my brilliant advice, changing their mind, really shift the connections and the neurons is what we're aiming for and telling them, pacifies the brain, you know, we coaching activates the brain. Can I activate their brain? That's what I'm aiming for. Stephen Matini: You know, after an hour of listening to you, now I know why. I have heard about you so many times. You are a goddess. Thank you so much for this lovely conversation and for, for giving me your time because I've learned a lot and even probably more important, I feel peaceful that it is something really valuable when you have the privilege of talking to someone still so young and so curious, but with this amazing experience that you have. And so thank you so much. Marcia Reynolds: Oh, you're so welcome. Thank you. This was really enjoyable for me as well.
Apr 16
37 min
Beauty Unveiled: The Power of Beauty to Thrive in Business, People, and Life - Featuring Prof. Peter Hawkins
Our guest is Prof. Peter Hawkins, a well-known figure recognized for his work in systemic coaching and developing coaching cultures in organizations. Professor Hawkins presents beauty as a transformative force, urging individuals and organizations to align with their core values for a sustainable and harmonious future. Beauty is found in authentic, vulnerable moments and genuine connections between people, emerging through acts of kindness, compassion, and service. Advocating for a move away from transactional leadership, Professor Hawkins calls for a model that recognizes each person's inherent beauty, fostering belonging and mutual respect. Listen to the episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Podbean, or your favorite podcast platform. Contact Prof. Peter Hawkins Subscribe to Pity Party Over Sign up for Live Session Managerial & Leadership Development Contact Stephen Matini Connect with Stephen Matini #PeterHawkins #BeautyinLeadershipandCoaching #SystemicCoaching #Purpose #Beauty #SustainableFuture #PityPartyOver #Alygn #StephenMatini TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: You are such a prolific author, how did you end up writing so many books? Prof. Peter Hawkins: I started off by writing chapters for books where people said that, well, I write a chapter on this one, the other. And then since then, each of the books that, that I've written is because a real need for a new approach. So my first book, which was around supervision, was because, you know, I'd become a supervisor and discovered there was no real guidance for supervisors and that every supervisor did something different. Thought, well, you know, we need something that kind of puts this together. And then, you know, when I got on to writing about, uh, coaching and systemic team coaching and leadership, it's always because I got to the edge and can't find what I want to learn next. So end up writing it, and by writing I discover what I know, but also I discover what I don't yet know. Writing is a just a lovely practice, as always, discovering. And, and I suppose I've always been an integrationist, wanted to work across disciplines. And so by writing I'm, I'm able to kind of integrate stuff that has come from very different traditions. Stephen Matini: And it's interesting because you are such a big, big, big name in coaching, but your books are infused with, um, so many different ingredients. So they're not just your typical coaching book. And then, um, I remember last time when we talked about your latest book, which I think is, is still has to come out, right? The beauty in leadership and coaching, the way you explain it to me, it seems to be the last discovery in your journey and somehow it puts together all the ingredients that you have found along the way. Prof. Peter Hawkins: Well, it kind of tries to set coaching, leadership, organizational development in, in a larger context, where in that larger context is both on the one hand about evolution and about epistemology, and it's another level about spirituality and ecology. Basically, in that book, I am very much looking at the great challenges that we face as a civilization and saying at root, they are all interconnected and at root, they are all symptoms of the fact that we haven't been able to evolve human consciousness at the speed of which we have changed the earth. So beauty, I am using as energetic force as a guide to help us on the return journey from how we've shrunken our, our consciousness, our way of engaging with the world, from participatory consciousness to collective consciousness. And then the white European world, we, we, in American world, we've, we treated further into from the embodied consciousness to brain consciousness. And then we've retreated even further into left hemisphere. And I'm seeing beauty as a force that awakens us to that which is beyond us, that which comes knocking our door and takes us by surprise. And so the notion of following beauty is awakening, if you like the taking us out of our left hemisphere into our whole brain and add our brain into our, our hearts and our guts and our embodied knowing and back into relationship. Stephen Matini: One thing that I often see particularly business people doing, they tend to focus on business. You know, they're just business. And instead of most of my motivation, most of my creativity, I get it from stepping out the whole realm of, uh, business. And my background is in humanities. So for me, humanities, literature, theater, music, steel, is a huge, huge source of inspiration. And I believe that you and I share some people that are really dear to our hearts. You talked to me about William Blake, you talked about Dante, uh, Rumi. Why are these people so important to you? Prof. Peter Hawkins: First of all, I'm fascinated by you saying about business or busyness. What is business? I'm just interested, what what do we mean by business or what do we mean by organizations? An organization exists because there is a purpose or something that needs doing that requires collaboration. And that collaboration requires organizing. Actually we could say that business is a mode of responding to what's needed and necessary, but it's become an end in itself. So the purpose of the organization is to feed the organization so it can feed the organization so it can feed the shareholders so it can, so there's something wrong with business. We've all got business to do, but the business should never be an end in itself, which is why I also in my books around teams say we shouldn't talk about high performing teams. The goal is not to be a, a successful organization or a high performing team. Prof. Peter Hawkins: Those are a means to an end. And the end is to create beneficial value for all the people your work serves. So trying to get us away from means to purpose is important. And we don't create our purpose. We discover it. And I think that people, you mentioned Dante Mena Ian, Rumi ha real, William Blake Ridge, Shakespeare, , let's bring in some of the great, uh, w Wang Wei, the Great Tang Chinese per they go to Essence, they go to the heart of purpose, and they go beyond the restrictive separating individualism of the modernist western world. They reconnect us. Nna Jin Rumi says, why in the plenitude of God's universe have you chosen to fall asleep in such a small dark prison? And beauty is, if you like, what are the keys to unlock the prison? Stephen Matini: Do you find it hard, easy possible when you work with um, clients, let them enter beauty. Prof. Peter Hawkins: I put it the way around that my job isn't to let them into beauty. My job is to discover the beauty and what they are in them and what they're doing to uncover the beauty. This is there rather than believe that I know where I need to take them. Stephen Matini: It is true when the organization tap into the purpose, the soul, the beauty, that's when magic happens. But in my personal experience, it's not always possible, you know, to unveil it with clients. So when you experience that resistance to change, whichever you want to call it, what do you do? Prof. Peter Hawkins: If a client says to me, uh, but what matters is the bottom line, I would say, so Steven, what is the bottom line? Tell me about the bottom line. If they say, well, it's the, the amount of profit we make at the bottom of the page, I'd say, and, and what is the purpose of that profit? So we can reinvest and what's the purpose of re well so we can make more? They've stopped. At a full bottom, my job is just to Dr. Open the windows to what is beneath that bottom Stephen Matini: With this latest book, what do you hope that readers will take away? Prof. Peter Hawkins: I just received an amazing email this morning from a beautiful black woman in, in in America who just talked about how just reading the first chapter, 'cause I'd used it as a handout on the program, had let her whole body shaking and just brought up so much for her and inspired her to write a poem that she sent me. And honestly, it, it brought me to tears. I just thought if more people have that reaction, it just opened up so much for her in terms of what was buried within her that needed to surface. And if I can help people just open a window to a, to, to a wider perspective, I can help them see beyond our own imprisonment and break out some of the constriction. 'cause if it helps them, then they can help others. If it helps the coaching profession move from being expensive, personal development for the already highly privileged. And it's not about self-improvement, but it's about what is the world knocking on our door asking us to step up to. It can move us from a, a individualistic self-orientation to a service orientation. And not just service of humanity, but service of the more than human world than, than I feel I will have achieved a small part of my business, of the work I'm being asked to do. Stephen Matini: You will have to stay on this planet forever because , there's a terrible need. Prof. Peter Hawkins: All, all our job to do is to do what is responsibility of our generation then to pass the torch on. But you know, the reality is that my generation is passing on a much more depleted and challenged world than we inherited. And that weighs quite large. And I wasn't say on my shoulders, it weighs large in front of me. What is our responsibility in terms of at least doing what we can, what little we can to help the generations that come after us face the bigger challenges that come after us? You know, I spend a lot of time saying to leaders, you know, what are your major jobs as leaders? I I was in South Africa in a very big gathering of MBA alumni from across Southern Africa. And I started my talk 'cause I'd followed a very inspirational South African politician. I just stood up and I said, please stand up. Prof. Peter Hawkins: All those of you in the audience who are responsible for developing the next generation of leaders across Southern Africa. Of the 400, probably about 50 stood up. They were the HR folk. And I said, I don't think you understood my question. Please stand up if you are responsible for, for supporting the next generation of leadership across Southern Africa. I had to ask it three times. And eventually everyone stood up, look around the room. These are the people who are gonna help you and you are gonna help them develop the next generation. So please turn to the person next to you and ask them what do they most need to learn this evening to step up to that responsibility. The phrase I often come back to, and I'm also a lover of Michelangelo and the beauty he liberates. Yes. Although as Warren Bennis points out, we have to remember that the Sistine Chapel was not just done by Michelangelo. Prof. Peter Hawkins: He had a team of 30 people. So he was a great team leader. He was a, a great orchestrator of, of others. It wasn't the work of one genius and he was part of an extraordinary time in community of artists in in Florence. And the line that I often come back to and use with individuals and teams and organizations and communities is what can you uniquely do that the world of tomorrow needs? They don't try and be anyone else because all other places are taken. What is it that can only be done by you? Because nobody occupies the place in the wider interconnected universe that you occupy. There'll never be a another. Stephen, that's one the just things that got me so excited writing this book in the whole billions of years of creation that we know about. That's only what we know about. There's never been a repetition. No, no organism has ever been created the same as a previous one. And when we have children, every child is a surprise. It's not 50% of the father and 50% of the mother is a, it's a unique never having been created being, it's never existed in the whole history of creation. Isn't that a miracle? Stephen Matini: It's an impossible statistical weird thing that happened somehow. Prof. Peter Hawkins: The the line that came to me when I was writing the book is that creation is in love with becoming. So I said that, it goes back to your question about why do I write books? I don't write books to tell people what I know. I write books to take myself to my learning edge and to discover between me and what I'm writing about, what is trying to struggle into consciousness at my best. I don't write them. Stephen Matini: Have you ever felt in your entire life as you were trying to discover something could have been the brand of a book or whichever something you want to achieve. Have you ever felt, God, what if I don't get there? You know, kinda self-doubt. So maybe you didn't feel that the beauty within yourself or somehow at some point you felt, God, I'm lost. I don't know if you ever felt it that way, but if you did, how did you overcome it. Prof. Peter Hawkins: At the end of writing this book? I thought, but I haven't got to what's needed. And then I remind myself that if I stayed with that, I'd never put the book out. I've had my book on leadership team coaching and my book on supervision going to fifth editions, fourth editions. And, and I end up apologizing for what I've written in the earlier editions. You know, because at some point we have to say, well, it's not enough, but is it good enough? Because who said all, all the way to heaven is heaven. And at some level we just have to, to stop trying to be perfect and put out share where we've got to, uh, in the hope that will help other people on the path behind us, but also people alongside us to go further on the path. A lot of our doubts are just ego contortions. Prof. Peter Hawkins: You know, they just take us back into, am I good enough? Or all the internal chat. And I think somewhere to do what we need to do, we just have to say that doesn't really, all that doesn't really matter. Yeah, we, we have to have doubts because that's what leads us into furthering inquiry. And I think certainty is more dangerous than doubt, but doubt can be a interruption when it starts to catches an internal hesitancy and self-doubt. And rather than to say, well actually I need to get on and do what is showing up in front of me is necessary to do Stephen Matini: For me. Probably the one thing that I guess I've learned only later on in my life is the fact that simply because the process is sometimes is not pleasant or doesn't feel pleasant, does not mean it's wrong. Whereas before, you know, when I was much younger, I was all, oh, I should not be feeling this way. You know, if I were really, really good at this, I should not be going down this route. And now I really believe it is a process. And in the process there's space for everything. There's space for moments in which I feel great for, for great, great doubts for sure. Prof. Peter Hawkins: You see, I think the thing that helps me in the moments of doubt weigh down, depressed, is at that moment you can either go into grumble or into gratitude. And if you can, and I can't, I didn't say I can, but if I, I can hold to the path of treating everything that happens, absolutely everything that happens, however awful as a generous lesson from life, I may not like it. I may feel burdened by it, I may feel inadequate to respond. But if it's a generous lesson from life, then it is a gift as well as a burden. Stephen Matini: I do gratitude it, but I also do a lot or feeding myself. Prof. Peter Hawkins: I think it's a deep trust, not my trust in life. Constantly becoming my trust in that is greater than the trust in my own emotional reactiveness. So I always believe life knows better than I do. I think this shouldn't have happened to me, but that's not I gonna achieve anything. Life's decided. That's the next thing I have to deal with. And it's a generous lesson. So the choice I have is do I see it as a generous lesson and learn from it or I do. I see it as some awful thing I'm a victim of. But, but I do have a choice saver. Stephen Matini: Last time when we talked, I asked you what is the opposite of beauty for you? You remember what you said? Prof. Peter Hawkins: I think I probably said, well, at one level it's ugliness. Stephen Matini: Yes. You said, um, it's solipsistic narcissism, you know, dualism you talked about, but ugliness, I think it wraps it up better. Prof. Peter Hawkins: Um, well, well solipsistic narcissism is, is ugly because it fragments us and divides us from that which we are a part of. You know, the the image that came to me just then was, um, Philip Pullman's novels where everybody has an animal Damon that is part of them. And, and they do these experiments to, to s children from their animal being self. It's alongside them, which is what we've all done in the modernist western world. Solipsism is ugly because it is, it's a severing of that which lives in connection and great poetry that we talked about is if you like, sewing us back into connection, it's opening the windows to, to a world beyond. Stephen Matini: Sometimes it does feel that this ugliness is getting more and more and more. And sometimes I do wonder is this because of the fact that we are so hyper connected? Is so we are constantly exposed to a lot of negative type of information. How do you feel about it? I mean, you know, o over the years being someone who has experienced it so much, do you see this ugliness more prevalent today, more dangerous today than it used to be? Or just simply has always been there? Prof. Peter Hawkins: I feel in myself that it is growing the openness that we're talking about, but we need to balance it with, we live in a world where actually a, a smaller percentage of people are dying from wars and murder than ever probably in human history. Number may be greater, but percentages more. And there are ways in which we have become more, more moral. But at the same time, I think over the last 500 years, the modernist revolution of science, secularism, individualism, colonization, capitalists, the trying to control the world around us and the human search for control has created enormous ugliness at the moral level and a world which we have greater mental distress and mentally honest than than ever. And yet we are richer, more affluent, more educated, more educated in knowing about the world and far, far less educated in being in and connected within the world. Stephen Matini: If a young person, let's say someone, a young professionals, you know, 19, 20, 21. So let's say if someone around that age that is kind of trying to figure it out where to go, um, asked you what practical steps can I take, you know, to somehow handle this ugliness, you know, because it is so depressing. What would you say that are steps, you know, some first steps that, that the person can take? Prof. Peter Hawkins: I have people around that age come as wolfers worldwide opportunities on our organic farms and they come and stay with us. And, um, I would say go out and wander through the garden. They wander through the woodlands and just be open to whatever speaks to you. Just listen to the more than human world. Let it be your teacher. Don't try and just master everything. I'd ask 'em about who inspires them and what inspires them. I might ask them. And what do you really love in your life to try and reconnect them to source and away from knowing about? I jokingly say I have wolfers come and stay with us because they fill in the gap between my children and my grandchildren. My children are all in their forties and my grandchildren are between nine and 15. So I just love talking to young people in their twenties. Mind you, I love talking to two year olds, but, uh, or listening to two year olds, Stephen Matini: I am so grateful that I was born in a moment that did not have all these connectivity, didn't have the internet, you know, so it was very much analog. Not because I don't like it, I use it plenty, but I'm glad that I have the perspective. And so I use it a lot. But then there are always moments, usually it towards, at the end of the day, like it, let's say I'm done with computer phone, I mean bye, you know, and for me it's quite easy because I've always done it, but younger people don't have that. I mean, they, they can do exactly what you said, but they grew up in a world in which everything is filtered through technology and that lack of perspective, it must be a little bit difficult sometimes to overcome. Prof. Peter Hawkins: You know, like right now, can we find a, a heart connection even with the, the screen between us? We have to be able to, to hold the imaginal in the digitalized world. Stephen Matini: I agree. It's mostly for me at least, making the effort to drop anything and to really be present with that person and listen, you know, to really to to sense it, to find it, you know? Instead, if I get sidetracked by whatever it might be, you know, I need to get there. I need to reach the goal, I need to do that one. Even now talking to you, I can always make the choice. I'm either, I wanna be feeling grateful of being here with you to enjoy this or be somewhere else, you know? But if I do that, I know that I feel exactly the way you're describing it. Prof. Peter Hawkins: I was looking at, um, the work that Steve March is doing with Athia coaching because I really like the way he talks about the difference between self-improvement and self unfoldment. You know, with young people, we can ask them, what do you wanna be when you grow up? Which is such an unhelpful question. Stephen Matini: I still don't know. Prof. Peter Hawkins: But it is playing to like the words you used earlier. Ambition is unfoldment, is, you know, what, what in you is struggling to come into flowering? Where do you see life asking you to become more than you currently are? These are so much ritual ways of engaging, then goal centered. What do you want to achieve? You know, if I ask my grandchildren when they're nine or 10, if they're boys, they'll say, I wanna, I wanna play in the premiership as a footballer. If they're girls, they'll say, I want to be a pop singer. We can guarantee that uh, 990,000 of a million or whatever will, will be disappointed. , how can we get back to the love of playing? And if you do end up playing professionally or you know, that's fine, but actually the love is for the craft. Stephen Matini: So it's about discovering and as you are discovering, enjoying the process. Prof. Peter Hawkins: It's more than that, isn't it? It's about loving the work. It's about loving not just the person you are coaching, but loving all the, all the people that their work serves, their community and the world beyond them. And loving what shows up through all of that, which is beyond the people. It's, that's why I go to beauty. It's about loving what shines through the team, the organization, the which is what, what, what, what's beyond the top level? Stephen Matini: It just, the beauty is a word that I don't think I've ever heard in the world of, uh, how you say busyness, usually. But it's a beautiful world. I mean, I cannot think of a better word to express what you're saying. Prof. Peter Hawkins: In one part of the book, I quote Samuel Taylor Ridge's, perm of the Ancient Mariner. And this perhaps ties up a number of things we've talked about because the ugliness of narcissistic solipsism, you know, the ancient mariner, you know, he shoots the albatross. He destroys this beautiful bird that hangs around his neck and one by one all, all the other sailors die of, of plague. And they, they look at him that his shooting of the bird has caused it. And he is left totally alone and cursed and weighed down in this solipsistic narcissistic world. And then he sees the sea snakes under the boat. He talks about all, all alone from the wide seas. And then he sees the sea snakes and there's this lovely line where he says about their colors and their, the light on them. And, and I blessed them unawares. He didn't choose to see their beauty. Prof. Peter Hawkins: Their beauty suddenly breaks through his aloneness and his, and in that moment, the arbitrages falls from his neck. At that moment, he is kind of released from this small dark prison that he's fallen asleep in. And it's that, can we see beyond our self concern, can we see beyond the bottom line, can we see beyond the goal, the ambition? To what, what does it serve? And, and you may know in another of my books, i I I get very taken by the ful storyful or sur ful who goes to search for the holy grail. And when he first sees it, this magnificent grail procession, um, he wakes up in the morning in a empty field. 'cause he hasn't asked the question. Years, years later, after much journey, he comes back and he asked the question he has to ask in order to be able to stay there, which is who and what does the grail serve? You see, he's learned to see that the beauty is not in the object. One other story about my oldest son, when he was about seven or eight said, daddy, why, why aren't we born knowing everything? Because then we wouldn't have to go to school. . And I said, but Adam, if you knew everything, why would you bother to get bomb? Stephen Matini: What did he say? Prof. Peter Hawkins: I think he just looked at me slightly old , he didn't quite know how to respond. So, you know, he went back to school, which is what we all have to do, isn't it? Is it, is it beautiful that we get it wrong? You know, on my courses, I get people to even compete on who has the most quality failures, right? That we can all learn from what a gift that we fail over and over again because our failure takes us to our learning edge. Mea shall Rumi says, leadership is a poison. Unless we have the antidote in our hearts, success is a poison unless we have the antidote. Aren't aren't you blessed to have failed many times? Stephen Matini: I didn't get it completely wrong. I would say that you are a very precious reminder. So I'm going to listen to this a lot of times . So maybe the, the right word is not success, but, um, it is a good success. What would it be? The definition for you? Prof. Peter Hawkins: Well, a, a good success is one that I I recognize doesn't belong to me. One, one of my blogs, I talk about why we shouldn't talk about high performing teams. And I tell an imaginary story of Zoom in 2021, the top team all celebrating. 'cause they've had their biggest growth in in customers, their biggest growth in revenue and their biggest growth in bottom line in inverted commas. What they think is the bottom line and that they're all drinking champagne and saying hump, we've done well. And, and one of the team members says, but we should do a special call out for the, the team member that's contributed the most. I said, well, who are you talking about? And she says, not only did they contribute the most, but they only joined us last year. I said, well, who are you talking about? She said, isn't it obvious Coronavirus, she is the one who's made the biggest contribution to our success. And I just tell that story on success has always co-created. So good success is to know that my Sufi teacher used to say, make sure that when you die, your candle wax has all been burnt up. And that's how you give light to the world. That's good success when you die, having given yourself away. Stephen Matini: That's a beautiful thing, what you just said. Prof. Peter Hawkins: I've been blessed with extraordinary teachers. Do any of us say anything that's original or do we find ways of framing eternal truth just in new forms? Stephen Matini: There's one question that, uh, came up to mind a bunch of times, but I haven't asked you of all the possible tools, routes that you could have taken, why coaching? Prof. Peter Hawkins: That's what came knocking on my door. But another way of answering that would be to say, well, you know, I started in a love for literature, which turned into a love of drama, which turned to a love for theater, which turned into a love for what was happening in the whole creative unfoldment of a more in the process and the production. And that took me to mental health and becoming a psychotherapist. And then I started to realize that many mental health organizations were more, uh, disturbed than the people they were treating. And that took me into a love for how do you heal organizations? And that's taken me into how do we together heal humanity and how do we heal the split between the human and the more than human world? So there's an unfoldment there. And, and, and I suppose my real interest is, is I don't think that either coaching, as we know it, executive coaching or consultancy are fit for the 21st century. And, and I'm just having been privileged to be involved in leadership development, consultancy, coaching, leading. I'm constantly looking for the what is needed beyond those. You see coaching because I was more interested in not people just sort of themselves out, but helping people make a bigger difference to the world beyond them. That took me from psychotherapy to coaching, to team coaching, to systemic team coaching, to providing partnership to organizations as they try and transform the difference they can make in the world. But it's all one. Stephen Matini: Well, I have one last question, which is, we have talked about wonderful things. For anyone who's going to listen to this episode, is there anything in particular that you would suggest them to focus on. Prof. Peter Hawkins: Focus on? Well, if there's, as a lot of your audience, uh, in one of my favorite countries, Italy, I am coming to Milan in May, so please do put the de dates, um, on the information about the podcast, I'm running a three day experiential training in systemic team coaching through renewal associates. And I hope some people may be, um, encouraged to at least go and dip into my new book when it's out in the autumn. Beauty and leadership and coaching. I suppose the other encouragement is beyond both of those would be to say, you know, remember we have one shared holy book, which is all around us, which is the more than human world and beyond. You know, what I teach or any of my teachers teach, the more than human world is, is trying to teach us all the time, but we're not very good at listening or paying attention. Please take some time and go and walk to the hills around lakes, through the woods, but walk in a way of humility to and, and let them teach you and see how beauty will surprise you. Stephen Matini: Maestro Hawkins, thank you so much for this wonderful time, which I will always cherish. Thank you so much. Prof. Peter Hawkins: Thank you Stephen. And it is the questionnaire that opens the door to what needs to flow.
Apr 3
37 min
Wealthy Words: Break Down Financial Concepts into Simple Actionable Steps - Featuring Riccardo Grabbio
Financial advisors, attorneys, doctors, and fiscal consultants are essential professionals who help us navigate an ocean of information to make sound decisions. How do you choose a good one when the language they speak is a nebulous lingo few people fully understand? Riccardo Grabbio is a seasoned financial consultant known for his pragmatic approach and extensive experience as Chief Financial Officer. In this episode, Riccardo helps clarify some common financial lingo so you can build trustworthy and clear communication with your financial advisor or find the perfect one you understand. Listen to how to keep financial strategies simple on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Podbean, or your favorite podcast platform. Subscribe to Pity Party Over Sign up for Live Session Managerial & Leadership Development Contact Stephen Connect with Stephen #RiccardoGrabbio ##WealthBuilding #Investing #Savings #FinancialEducation #MoneyManagement #FinancialWellness #PityPartyOver #Podcast #Alygn #StephenMatini   TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: So I represent your typical moron who doesn't know anything about finance. And let's say that I'm seeking for a financial advisor, where should I start? Riccardo Grabbio: When we take a look at finance actually is not something very small, very narrow, something. There are thousands of aspects that we need to take a look at. So first question to me is asking yourself, what do I need? Because when you talk at about finance, it might be have your own personal budget, for instance, because your expenses are not under control. Can be or maybe can be having a finance advisor because my company must improve, must improve for whatever reason because the balance between revenues are and cost are not enough or simply because I'm not managing well enough, my working capital for instance, or maybe because my cash flow is not coming, even though I'm making revenues, I, I do not understand why this is the second one. Or maybe it can be for instance because I have a lot of cash, but I'm not capable of leverage that cash well enough to make my company grow better or how it should, or maybe simply because I have a personal heritage that I want to have a battery yield. Riccardo Grabbio: And at the moment I don't have this is let me say very typical situation that Italian families has. For instance, just to give an idea because you need to know that the GDP of Italy is not satisfactory, is not a country that is growing a lot for several reasons. We are not efficient enough. Our industries are weak, must improve, we have tax issues and all those stuff. But you need to know that Italian families are rather rich and what they have, they have a lot of cash because of generation and so on. And they have a lot of properties. And the big issues that I have seen, for instance in Italy is that what the Americans say is asset rich and income board, to me a financial advisor, this is the first rule of financial advisor, try to change this status because when you are asset rich and income board means that you are not efficient or better, you can't manage your asset. And in this specific situation, for instance, the financial advisor can create tremendous value to, to a family for instance, try to think very rich family that has a good family office and exactly the same very rich family without the family office handling the money for them, the result would be completely different. Stephen Matini: Based on everything you said so far, it seems to me that you, I think you mentioned like probably several things, they're important, but three are really important. One is that you don't need to have a big assets in order to start to be more financially savvy. That's one. Then you mentioned several times the importance of cashflow and the other one you emphasized the importance of time because from a financial investment standpoint, time is crucial more than the actual percentage you get paid in the moment. Riccardo Grabbio: Yes, exactly. I can tell you talking about the time, which is the most important of one. There are several studies that I have read over the years from JP Morgan, but also from some other sources like banger and so on. And what they say is that in a period of at least 20 years in a bunch of 100% investors in the stock market, there was not one that lose one penny over or the 20 years. It means that if you invest, if you buy and hold for 20 years, you're not going to lose money. If instead you try to, what, what we technically say, time the market. So you buy and sell, you buy and sell, then things get tricky. I can tell you one thing, I dunno if you have ever heard about Peter Lynch, I think in seven years in which he managed the found Magellan, he doubled the s and p 500 each and every year. Riccardo Grabbio: So try to think a, a result what we are still talking now about his performance and the funny thing is that 90% of the investors that invest in his fund, they lose money over the year. And you can ask me how it can be possible that in 20 years a fund had a performance huge and the investors lose the money because they were not buying and holding, they were buying and then selling, buying and selling try to keep the best moment in which you to enter and to exit from the fund and doing that 90% of those, they lose the best return of the market. So buying a whole is a good advice. Stephen Matini: So I I wanna ask you to define some key terms, you know that maybe could be useful for the people who are going to listen to the episode. How would you explain assets in the simplest way? Riccardo Grabbio: An asset is something that brings you money in your pocket and on the other side you have liabilities. That is something that takes out money from your pocket. Why is tell you that? Because for instance, try to think to have a new big car, an expensive new car. Actually from the accounting standpoint, this is an asset. Then you, you, you d it in your, in your balance sheet, this is an asset then you will depreciate in 10 years and so on. This is technically an asset, but to me this is not financially an asset. Why not? Because it's not bringing you value any kind, it's not bringing you money in your pocket, it's draining money from your pocket. So keeping it in very simple. For our listeners, asset is something when you buy something that will bring you further money in your pocket than you are buying an asset. Riccardo Grabbio: If it doesn't, then it's not an asset. Then we have some asset that intrinsically they produce something, they produce a value. Let me give you an an an example. A stock index or a single stock for instance, you have a company, you have an organization. Those people, they are all working together with a common purpose, which is to create earnings and so on. So it doesn't matter the price in the short term, in the long run it'll increase in value. Why? Because those companies are making earnings, they're paying dividends and so on. So there will be a good result in the, in in the future. But then there are some other asset that those, they have a value fine, but they don't produce anything. Let me give you an example. If we talk about precious metals, I dunno, gold for instance and so on in this one here is just a simple piece of metal, right? Riccardo Grabbio: It has big value. Yes it does. The market is valuing is up and low value, it does a function in investment portfolio but is not producing anything. I mean, so in this case we are a bit more speculating. The price can go up or down. We don't know in the future can be be a function in the portfolio, but it's not creating anything. But this is another different kind of asset. Another kind of asset are bonds for instance. The returns typically is low, but you lend money to someone, to a government, to a private company, to a corporation, whatever, and they pay you the interest in in your return. This is another asset. It bring you money in your, in your pocket. Then there are also real estate. You can buy flats for, for instance you can buy apartments and so on. Rent it and as a return you have the pay that the people are paying to you. This is another, another example. For instance, those are assets. Stephen Matini: How would you explain? Same question in super simple terms, P&L? Riccardo Grabbio: Very simple difference between revenues and cost difference between what you from your business or from in your private light and the cost that you have to bear to stay alive or if you're talking about a company that you need to pay to keep your company alive. Difference between revenues and cost. And what I'm surprised that several organizations, several entrepreneurs and also private people, sometimes they do not understand why they are not making earnings and they don't arrive to a very simple conclusion. Either you increase your revenues or you reduce your cost or you do them both. And again, I go back to the first concept and and statement that we said keep it simple. You can have a p and l, okay, which is long one kilometer for ista with 1000, 2000 different lines detailed and so on. But in the end, if you take a look at things from 1000 kilometers from from the moon, if you take a look at things from the moon, from a very high distance, in the end you will see two things. You will see revenues and costs. Either you increase revenues or you reduce cost. I know it's very simple, looks trivial, but trust me that nine out of 10 of dozen per they look at the tree but they don't look at the wood because if you take a look at from things from the from the moon, this is what you will see. And you either you are just one or you are just the other. Stephen Matini: How would you define super simple cashflow? Riccardo Grabbio: Cashflow is the difference from the money that you have in the first day of the year and the money that you have in the last day of the year. The difference between the two is the cash that you have generated and beware because the cash that you have generated is not perfectly linked with the earning that you made in that years because it might happen that in the year you made good earnings but you didn't generate good cash flow because you didn't manage while you are working capital on the things that we said before can happen or the other way around might happen that in one year for instance you have a good cash flow but your earnings are not satisfactory enough. It might happen for instance because in one year you dismiss a big asset or something and so on and you find a lot of cash in your bank account, yes, looks good. But then if you take a look at p and l, which is your business, you see it's not profitable enough. So beware, we have just defined what cash flow is, but it's not one-to-one with your earnings with your business. Stephen Matini: If I said, and this is just how I personally define it, which is very trivial. Cashflow is the money that I need to run my business. It is essentially what is in my banking account after I pay all my expenses, after paying all, all taxes, what is left in my banking account? Would this be a good definition of cashflow? Riccardo Grabbio: No, it is not the money that you need to run your business. This is something that we definitely call the short term debt. This is your financial position. Keep it very simple. Even here if you are a class, your balance sheet Steven, you need to know that your business must be financed simply. It is a bit more tricky, but very simply can be financed only in two ways, either with the equity which the owner puts in in his company or borrowing money from the banks, meaning from the financial institution. There are several other ways, but keeping simple, those two things. So on the right side of your balance sheet, you only have those two things, your financial debts and your equity, nothing else now. So those are the ways in which you support your business, but this is not the cash flow. The cash flow is the difference in your cash from one moment and in another one, let me give you an example. If the beginning of 2024, first day you have 10 K in your bank account and at the end of the year you have 20 k, your cash flow of the year is 10 k, which is the difference between the end and the beginning. This is what you generated, this is the cash flow, okay? While instead your financial position, what you need to let me say keeping your business alive is something that is your short-term debt is your position that you have in your balance sheet. Stephen Matini: I wanna ask you one thing. What'd you think? Would you say the cashflow is the star? Riccardo Grabbio: It is and I have a specific example that I bring that is a company for which i, I do consulting also now, and they came to me because they could not understand why the cashflow was not coming. And I will tell you more if you take a look at this p and l for instance, right? The revenues last cost is, is very profitable. I mean they are making a lot of earnings, margin are very high volumes are growing, but the cashflow is not coming and they did not understand why actually the, the reply was rather simple, okay? And the cashflow is not simply coming from the p and l revenues less cost, but then there is the balance sheet, there is the working capital. Let me give you a very simple example. If you do a lot of earning each and every year, but then you can't collect money from your customers simply because you did not a good credit management and, and you sold a lot of stuff, a lot of items, your products or whatever to a customer that actually is in, in trouble is financially weak and is not capable of paying you, I know for one year or even more, then you have a problem of cash. This is an example or another example can be if you have a very good p and l but you inventory is growing and growing, the terms of your items that are in your stock are staying there and they don't go to the customer, then you need to finance those stuff that you have and also in this case you are absorbing cash and this, this is the second one or the third one can be for instance because your p and l is very good but you pay your vendors very quickly too quickly, okay? Compared on the timing in which you collect cash and you keep your items in in stock. Also in that, in that case you have issues of cash and then there might be also some other reason for instance investment. Try to think at investments they don't hit your p and l but you can do big huge investment that turn out to be in the future not good enough. They don't have a good payback, they don't have a good return. And also in that case you have a problem of cash. This is another thing then this is the last thing that we call when your balance sheet is not robust enough. If you have working capital right of 10 and you have your short term debt which is 12, so you have an issue of two because it means that in a short term you have to pay 12 to someone to the banks or investors, but your cash that will come will be only 10 and you will be short of cash. So your balance sheet must boost enough. So there might might be several reasons, but the tricky thing for a non-finance people is try to link and bridge the earnings, right, the result of your p and l to the cash and make them to understand that from your earning to the cash flow that you generate, there are several, a lot of stuff that you need to make otherwise you can be very profitable but not generating cash. Stephen Matini: And it's important not to keep your money under the mattress by actually invest them. Riccardo Grabbio: Exactly. This is the second one now is a bit different because actually the interest rate are rather high. They are more than 4% are recording now in December, 2023. So they are rather high. And I would say that in this situation might be sensible also to pay someone that you have to do so if you have cash if you have liquidity you can pay something. But try to think for instance till two years ago when interest rates were zero and the market was returning six or 7%, I'm talking about stocks for instance. In that case it would've make sense to borrow a lot of money because you borrow for free and the money who you have is returning 7%. So on depends from the market situation for sure. It's not so wise to keep your money under your mattress. Stephen Matini: You know, to me as you talk, I understand what you're saying because I've been doing this for little bit. Once again, I'm not super financially savvy but I made a lot of mistakes in the past. So inevitably I learned but not, not knowing who's going to listen to this episode. That could be some people they may feel unfamiliar with this whole territory. If they had to choose a financial advisor, what would you say they are three features they should look for in a financial advisor? Riccardo Grabbio: To me, first thing a financial advisor must have a good track record. Let me say that the market is something that, I mean we have been studying that for 120 years and what we have seen that nobody has still completely understood it. There are always new situation and so on. So to me the more the financial advisor is experience, the more he has spend time on the market, the more he is trustworthy. I mean it is not the only rule but you need to know the market very well. So a long time and in the market with a good track record is one feature that you need to take a look at. Then there is a second feature that of course is very important is having a good feeling with that person seems not fundamental but it is because that person will help you on very sensitive topics. It'll help you on things that are rather dear to you in the and because they are talking about your finances and so on. And so if you don't have a good feeling, if you don't have a full trustworthy of that person, I think is not the the person good enough for you. Stephen Matini: You know, the rule that I gave myself when I was trying to select the right one was if I cannot understand what he or she says, then it's not the right person for me. Truly. I mean you can be the most incredible person and I'm not questioning your, you know, education, your experience, but I'm the client and I need to understand. Riccardo Grabbio: I will. I will tell you one thing. Over the past 15 years I have seen a lot of portfolio and there is a feature that all the beginners investor that then will have some troubles for sure, which is mathematically they try to seek things very complicated and one rule that the investors and beginners investors they need to take a look at or better to search in a financial advisor to keep things simple, what they have seen in life that the more the investors are beginners and the more they look for complicated stuff, this is a big mistake but it's very natural. For instance, if you happen to have an investor that has either know a big quantity of cash to be invested, but he doesn't know anything about that and you talk to him about very complex fund, fund of fund robot advisors or structured product derivatives and some other things, very technical and very complex product with leverage and so on, they immediately fall in love about that because they think that that we all exotic products, new products with artificial intelligence and so on, they completely fall in love them thinking that will be very cutting edge and that will beat the market. You know what will happen in that case that you will create a mass, you will create a portfolio with huge costs and the result will be for sure far below the market. Stephen Matini: Again, I understand what you're saying, but I feel my head getting dizzy a little bit like because also, you know, money is something that is so connected to our survival. I mean it's not just status or I can buy this, I can buy that, but it's connected to so many things such as, you know, when people say money does not give you happiness and always say that's the biggest someone has ever said, because you know when my money's fine, I'm so glad I can think of all the things that I love in a way that's more peaceful. You know? Riccardo Grabbio: Yes, the said that you just mentioned can be truth or not, I dunno, but there is one thing to tell you when a family and a person goes under financial stress, in that case you need to talk to them about that saying, because financial stress I think is one of the worst situation ever. And I can tell you one thing be because of that you need to have also a good financial planner because what he will help you to do is not only to deal with the markets properly, but also to manage the psychological impacts that you have from the up and downs of the market. If you are very expert, you know how the market works and so on, you don't have the impacts. But if you are a beginner, if you don't trust the situation or if you don't trust the financial advisor when the market is down 30% because from time to time it happens, then you start to have some bad feelings maybe not to sleep at night and so on. So the financial advisor for this situation is fundamental Stephen Matini: And that to me goes back to what you were saying about the relationship. You know, particularly these days of artificial intelligence, everything being automatic and such and such, that is such a key relationship to have in a life that is so uncertain. You know, you read the news and millions of different things, so it's very easy, you know, in this situation to fall for trends and the stupid things that you hear everywhere. But a good financial advisor, that relationship in my opinion informs you and really helps you to stay grounded. Riccardo Grabbio: I agree with you. You must stay the course. The Americans say, and this is a really valuable advice. You need to stay the course and stay the course being not being trapped into the new fashion stuff, new fashion things, the new hot stock that might come on the market and so on because they, they were not going to help you, they'll harm you. Stephen Matini: How do you feel about anything that has to do with ESG investing, anything pertaining sustainability? Riccardo Grabbio: First point is the tactical situation about that. I have some portfolios that I'm managing where the, the clients is asking me to invest in those specific companies. We, which has a good status for being very ethical, being very keen on environment and so on because they are interesting in that. And I think that from that standpoint, it makes you feel better because you feel that you are doing something good for the environment and so on. Then we need to see what is the reality under those companies because we don't know 100% because when we buy an ESG for instance, found, we don't know if all the companies that there are inside, those are all the features that they should have because sometimes working in the companies, I have seen that sometimes, okay, they are ESG, fine, they have white certificates and so on, but then let me say energy must have been used better was not managed well enough. So there were some inefficiencies from the environmental standpoints. So I would say that okay, this is a good thing to do good for the environment, which I'm very keen on as well. But we don't know exactly if all those are the best choices that we could have made. We don't know, we hope, but we don't know. This is the first thing. Then we don't need to forget that when we invest we are looking at returns. The first reason of course why we invest is having a return. And what I can tell you that I have compared the s and p 500 with the SGN funds for 10 years and so on. And what I have seen that in the long run, the returns that I have is very, very close so far we don't know in the future, but so far is is more or less the same. So from the pure yield standpoint, right, the return in that case, I would say that there is not much difference in that. What drives the difference in the return in the long run is the asset allocation. Stephen Matini: What have you learned about yourself throughout this whole thing, working with people in different situations? Riccardo Grabbio: Well it, it's difficult to answer for different reasons. The first one is we need to take a look at if we are taking a look at finance from the company standpoints or from the financial advisor standpoints, which is very different. And the second one is because you need to know the finance has been changing so much over the years. I remember Steven when, when I started working in finance, the value added for the organization and for, for the people who was perceived and basically also what the companies were asking to the finance people were things completely different from the things that there are now. So over the year things have changed and as a result also the finance people, people that work in finance must change and see things in different ways because the market is asking to go to the finance people different stuff. In the past it was much more mathematically the mathemat result they were asking about preciseness they were asking about and so on. But as the time goes by, as the artificial intelligence goes by, the technologies is growing and so on. What I see that now what the partner, the CEO, the stakeholder are asking to the finance community is being a tremendous business partner, not being extremely technical and so on. So what they want is having a support that translate their view, okay in finance language or better to translate the finance language to them so that they can understand what they can do and they cannot do. And of course help supporting them in having the right strategy in getting their result doesn't matter if you are looking about a private person or if we're looking about a corporation from that standpoint is exactly the same. What they are asking now today is to support them to understand what are their goals, their needs and so on and to set kind of strategy in order to get their targets. This is what they want. Now, just to make it an example, and this is a bit sad also to me to say that nowadays people for instance that do finance me say rather low level. So for instance, booking invoices, booking transaction, general ledger journals and so on, those are profiles that are not interesting for the market anymore because there are the emerging markets where there are people doing that for an extremely low cost or there is with a new tech iTech and so on, there are computer that are doing those transaction automatically themselves. Those were profiles very helpful in the past or better indispensable, but today it's not like that. Today they are not needed any, any almost needed anymore. So it has changed a lot. So if you want to work nowadays in this field, you need to be a good financial strategist and you need to support and give direction to investors, to entrepreneurs and so on. Stephen Matini: What would you say that is the right posture that a good finance person should have to enter this job? Riccardo Grabbio: Well I would say more than possible, I would say the, the right mindset in finance, you do need to have a good mindset. This is key from a several standpoint and I believe that if you want to be a good finance person, finance manager, finance advisor or whatever, you need to have good background. This is a commodity. Without that you cannot go ahead, but you need to have also a good mindset because having the good mindset meaning is to trust what is your view? To stay steady, to stay the course, to stay consistent with with your choices, not to change the strategies, being methodical and not to lose the focus on your goals. Straighten your way because you know what happens in finance? Finance is like the seasons that we have in the year, right? We have summer, winter, spring, autumn and so on, and things change and like things change in the day and in the season, in the years they change exactly in the same way also in finance because no matter what after winter, spring will come and in finance it's exactly the same after resection. Sooner or later you don't know exactly when the new grow will come. And that's why he said you need to have the right mindset, trust your knowledge and staying the course and not changing strategies and so on. Because if you try instead to change strategies because of the season you are in and you don't know when the decision will will change, you run the risk to take an umbrella and after two minutes to have the sun shining and your your umbrella, you don't need it anymore. Stephen Matini: Riccardo, out of anything we have covered so far, what would you say that is something that those who will listen to this episode that should pay close attention to? Riccardo Grabbio: If we are talking, for instance, to private investors, they need to keep things simple, try to understand what they are doing because as you said before, for instance, if you are not understanding what you are investing in, this is not a good investment or better, they should be very careful. So if they don't understand what they are investing in, no matter what, they don't have to invest. Stephen Matini: I've heard that a famous investor does that. Warren Buffett, you know, he only invest in things he understands, you know, and if he doesn't, he doesn't. Riccardo Grabbio: Yes, wow you are mentioning is, is not a new kid on the block. I think that the S&P 500 for 50 years in a row about either, I don't know, 10 or 8 points per year. Average per year. So yeah, an outstanding result. And what it does is something like, like you said before, what it does, he, he stays in his circle of competence. He does not diversify a lot. So he stay focused on a bunch of share that he knows very well and he stay on those for a long time. What his strategies is by and old forever it is an extreme strategy his but the reward is very remarkable given the facts. Stephen Matini: Riccardo, thank you for keep it simple. I've learned a lot today. Thank you.
Mar 20
37 min
Servant Leadership: The Humble Leader - Featuring Suzanne Harman Munson
Historian Suzanne Harman Munson discusses her book Jefferson's Godfather: The Man Behind the Man, revealing the significance of servant leadership exemplified by George Wythe, a lesser-known Founding Father. Throughout the conversation, Suzanne offers valuable insights essential for navigating contemporary challenges, emphasizing the importance of individual impact, critical thinking, kindness, and humility. Listen to this episode of Pity Party over and discover how servant leadership and humility can transform lives on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Podbean, or your favorite podcast platform. Subscribe to Pity Party Over Sign up for Live Session Managerial & Leadership Development Contact Stephen Matini Connect with Stephen Matini #SuzanneHarmanMunson #JeffersonsGodfather #GeorgeWythe #ServantLeadership #PityPartyOver #Podcast #Alygn #StephenMatini TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: You essentially got into writing and history after you retired? Did I get that right? Suzanne Munson: That's correct. Uh, I didn't have time to write books when I was working. And, um, I had a lot of responsibilities at home as well, raising children and so on. After my husband died and after I retired, I went on kind of a journey in a lot of different directions, and I've written books in different genres. Stephen Matini: Why do you think you chose writing and you chose history of all possible directions? Suzanne Munson: Well, my parents loved history, particularly my father. He would go to bed reading history. Well, he was interested in the Civil War, and he would read detailed accounts of the battles, which not my cup of tea by any means, but we always told stories of our ancestors who came to this country and why they came. So I've always been interested in history, but I, I majored in English, which was very helpful to me as the writer. Stephen Matini: Writer. And your family goes back generations? Suzanne Munson: Yes. They go back to the earliest days of the United States. Stephen Matini: As far as the Founding Fathers, one of your interests is the Founding Fathers. Did you investigate, did you study them all or specific ones, because you focus specifically on Jefferson, but did you have any interest in one of the other ones? Suzanne Munson: Well, yes, I have. I'm reading, um, pretty big book about, um, Benjamin Franklin now who really deserves more credit for helping us win the Revolutionary War. I really like following John Adams and Abigail Adams. But the two Founding Fathers that I focus on in my writing are Thomas Jefferson and his wonderful mentor George with, who is called the forgotten founding father, because hardly anybody knows anything about him today. And I uncovered him and some reading and I said, why don't we know more about this man who was very instrumental in the early success of this country? And his story needs to be told in the 21st century. And I wanted to tell it, but I couldn't because I was working. But as soon as I decided to, uh, to leave the office world, I said light bulb went off. And I said, well, I can finally do this book. But it took about five years to write that book because for some reason I couldn't focus at home. So I would go away to various retreats, writers retreats, spiritual retreats for 48 hours at a time or a week at a time, and really focus intensely on it. Stephen Matini: The process of writing. It's a spiritual experience, and you spend so much time within yourself. What have you learned about yourself when you started digging into this, this whole world or writing? Suzanne Munson: I sort of think of myself as a light giver. You know, the things that I'm learning, I like to share with other people, the integrity of this founding father. I think that we need greater integrity in our government. I've given more than three dozen lectures and online interviews about integrity and government that are need for, for that. Now. Also, after my husband died 10 years ago, I, uh, went on a spiritual journey to find out where he went and what he was doing, if that was knowable, and where we all go and what we do after we leave our physical form. So that was a separate journey. So I was really on two journeys. I was on a traditional journey, uh, with the traditional history, and then I was on a metaphysical journey trying to learn more about the afterlife. So two parallel journeys. And I've written books in both of those genres. Stephen Matini: Was it clear from the very beginning what you were looking for, or were you just aimed by curiosity and openness? Suzanne Munson: Well, with the first book that I wrote, which is called Jefferson's Godfather, uh, that was the biography of George with, it was very clear that I wanted to tell his story, that I felt his story was needed today in the 21st century. Now, my latest book, which is called of Loss and love, a Journey of the Heart that took 10 years to write the book has a happy ending. I did actually do the modern thing. I went online at the encouragement of friends and found my current husband. So it's a memoir of, of my three years between my husband's death and my marriage. Stephen Matini: What is the solace that you received from history? Suzanne Munson: Well, I'm very much inspired by what our Founding Fathers did to create the United States of America. Uh, they were very brave men. They were inspired. I believe what they did was unheard of in the history of the world. Now, we had a Roman Republic, briefly. We had a Greek democracy briefly. They went away fairly quickly. And so what these individuals wanted to do was totally revolutionary, not just on the battlefield, but in the battlefield of ideas. And that was to give power to the people and to create a democratic republic for the first time ever in history, that people were free from kings and queens and popes and aristocracy. Well, the hope was that we would have a meritocracy, that only the best people would rise to be leaders, and that the people would choose those leaders, choose them periodically, and if they weren't satisfactory, bo vote them out of office without killing them throughout the history of mankind, you had to kill somebody to get rid of him if he was in power. And so the peaceful transition of power was very, very strong ideal of these Founding Fathers. That's why they would've been appalled at what happened on January 6th. That would've been their worst nightmare. So this is a time when we need to visit the ideals of these Founding Fathers. And what happened in America in the late 18th century, what we came up with a government by the people of the people, for the people and our constitution that spread all across the world. Our constitution was, um, adopted by many, many, many countries after that took a while. And democracy is still an ideal, a worldwide ideal. It's not in place in, uh, most countries, uh, to the extent that we'd like to have it in place, but it's still an ideal. People still are searching for freedom. They want their freedom. Stephen Matini: I believe that democracy is a huge responsibility for all of us. Some of the worst nightmares in history, were democratically elected. If the Founding Founders came back today, what would you say they would say about democracy and what is the right approach for all of us in terms of, you know, living this responsibility? Suzanne Munson: This is outlined in my book called The metaphysical Thomas Jefferson, what Thomas Jefferson might say today about our government, our higher education, our news, media, religion, the use of military foreign policy, all those institutions. And I believe what he would say is that we as a people have become apathetic. We've allowed our freedoms to be taken away gradually, like the frog in the kettle of water as it heats up what is said in that book, the metaphysical Thomas Jefferson. What he might say if he were observing us today, is that he would crave most of all critical thinking. He didn't use these terms, but TikTok, Facebook, all those social media things where we're totally absorbed by ourselves and our little circle of friends and what they think of us, and we're not paying much attention to what our government officials are doing. Jefferson, above all wanted an educated popula populace and wanted, um, universal education for everyone, rich and poor. That was a revolutionary concept at the time. Only the, um, wealthy, they were educated. And so he would want critical thinking. Uh, he would want us to demand integrity of our, uh, leaders. He would want the leaders in Washington to form circles of integrity. Not all representatives in Washington are corrupt or deal in self-dealing, but enough of them are. But some of them really are striving to be good public servants. And we have one here in Virginia, Abigail Berger, who is admired for being a true public servant. And so there are some like her who were fairly new to the game and haven't gotten corrupted and haven't really started feathering their nests with all the large s that's available. So I think he would want leaders in government to form circles of integrity so that there's a mass of individuals and not just a handful who want the best for the people and not just for themselves or for special interests for the powerful. So some of this is going on. I, I think sometimes things have to get so bad that, uh, you know, people will say enough of this, which we've hit the bottom here, and we, we need to do things differently. We need better leaders. And so the hope is that more people of integrity will offer themselves for a public office. It's not easy. It's a dirty business. There's a lot of dirt thrown around, and it would be nice if that weren't necessary, weren't considered necessary. We do need more leaders with integrity, interest for the public rather than pure self-interest and ego ego's gone wild right now in, in some quarters in Washington. And what's right for the people is secondary. Another thing that he would be very concerned about is freedom of the press. Of course, that's in our first amendment, and we do have more freedom of the press than most countries have, but our press is declining. Uh, our newspapers don't have the staffs that they did 10 years ago to do investigative reporting and TV stations. And they've all kind of acquiesced to these feel-good stories or covering murders and accidents and things like that. And there's not enough coverage of what's going on in our government. And you could make that interesting. It doesn't have to be dull, but the decline of investigative reporting would be of great concern to our Founding Fathers, because you can't have a government without clarification, without people knowing what's really going on behind the scenes. Because if we don't know those things, it's an open door to corruption. And here in my town, we need to analyze just at the local level, who's getting the contracts for the, you know, multimillion dollar deals here. Are they cronies? Was there open bidding for these big dollar items? Those things need to be open, and they're being hidden, not just here, but all over. So cronyism will run rampant if you don't expose it. That's just one, one aspect of government, not to speak of just out and out corruption. Stephen Matini: In your experience, in your studies, researching and writing about the Founding Founders, you mentioned the word integrity many times. And to me, when I think about the moment in history was one of those exceptional time, like, you know, Florence doing Renaissance somehow for whatever the reason, there were this huge concentration of amazing people why that happened. Who knows? But it's really bizarre to think about it. Why do you think integrity seemed to be such a distinctive feature of these, these amazing people who laid the foundation for us? And today we struggle with integrity. Suzanne Munson: In my book, Jefferson's Godfather, which is a biography of his mentor George, with, I make the case that about the power of one, the ability of just one individual for, uh, great, good or a great evil. And in his case, he had a lot to do with the early success of this country because he trained not only Thomas Jefferson, but Chief Justice John Marshall, the revered statesman, Henry Clay and 200 other future leaders in government, and also in the court system to very important agencies for the success of a country. And so he had an enormous influence. And because he had such great integrity himself, uh, he was a role model for the servant leader. He influenced either directly or indirectly, all five of our first five presidents. He was a friend of each of them, or a role model for each of them. And that was the first, oh, three decades of this country, very consequential, three decades. I think that their sense of integrity, he was a big part of that because he had so much of it himself. I attribute a lot of that to George West's Quaker background. Most of his contemporaries were of the Anglican faith, and they were very arrogant. People in Virginia, particularly Virginians at that time, were known to be arrogant. The aristocracy, uh, because they fashioned themselves, uh, after the House of Lords in, uh, England, large landowners, and they did not oppose slavery. They accepted that as a way of life. He was outta step with his contemporaries. He was ardently opposed to slavery. And I attribute that to one of his Quaker ancestors who came to this country a hundred years before and preached about the evils of slavery and taught that the Bible did make references to this stealing being one, stealing another person's life. So I, I think he had a big influence. A lot of his students never freed their slaves, but he made them feel very guilty about it. And then he just was a very honest person. Contemporary of his said. Well, he was the only honest lawyer I ever knew. He made a good living. But he could have made much bigger living if he had accepted liars and cheats as clients. But he would never defend a, uh, a liar and a cheat. Everyone had to have a good case if he were to accept it and be more or less on the right, or if they weren't on the right, be repentant for their sins. So the Founding Fathers had a wonderful opportunity to change history for the better. George Beth being one of the revered leaders at the time, his legacy has been lost to time, but he was enormously influential at, in his day, the signer of the Declaration of Independence, champion of the Constitution leader in the Continental Congress, speaker of the House of Delegates in Virginia. Those were the early days when everything was new and fresh and we were reinventing the, our world. Hundreds of years later, we have what we have in Washington because big money has been allowed in as a mighty power in our government, and it's very easy to feather one's nest. So there's really more temptations now, I think, uh, than there were at the beginning of the country. Eventually corruption did and self-dealing did creep in, and partisanship did emerge fairly early. George with was not part of that, but it emerged very much so during Jefferson's time. Stephen Matini: When you say servant leadership, so servant leadership is something that we hear a lot these days. It's also the many leadership programs that had their name. What would it be? Your own definition of servant leadership? Suzanne Munson: Putting the public's interest before your own, or at least having a balance, just not being totally self-interested and not letting your ego run wild as we see right now in Washington. Now in writing this book, uh, my first book called Jefferson's Godfather, the Man Behind the Man, I can come up with at least seven leadership qualities that George with this founding father had and that he shared as a role model, as a servant leader for others. Number one, a strong ethical foundation, the only honest lawyer I ever knew. Number two, mentorship, the ability to mentor generously. He influenced the futures of approximately 200 future state and national leaders. Number three, advisorship, if that's a word, uh, couldn't come up with a better word, but George with advised those in higher authority. He was a role model for the colonial governors of Virginia who needed advice about how to interact with this unruly group over here. He did influence the first five American Founding Fathers, either directly or indirectly. Number four, scholarship and preparation. George West did not have much of a formal education. He learned Greek and Latin at the knee of his mother, and then I think the money ran out and he couldn't go to college. And then when he was a legal apprentice to his uncle, he didn't learn much. And so he found that he, if he were to succeed in life, he would have to teach himself. And he became a self-taught scholar preparation. He never went into court unprepared, and he was an excellent lawyer, and he served those in the highest circles in Virginia. Number five, and this should be probably number one, along with ethics, is, um, emotional intelligence, people skills. Now we know about iq, but EQ is equally important. George With's IQ was probably not as high as Jefferson's. George with was very smart, but he also had to work hard. Um, he studied and he was prepared. So he had an IQ that was sufficient for leadership, but he also had the eq, the emotional quotient. He was a friend to those in the highest circles as well as to the low born. He freed his slaves as soon as he was legally able to do so. He was a friend of children. They said a a surly dog would wag his tail when George with walked by. Uh, so he had had those both skills. Um, EQ and IQ. Number six, humanitarian values. Unlike his contemporaries, he reviled slavery. Uh, and, and he was a humanitarian in many other ways. He and the one of the colonial governors started the first hospital for the mentally ill in Williamsburg. It was the first in North America, number seven, although that really shouldn't be seven, but humility. And he was modest in dress and speech reflecting his Quaker background. The best leaders like I can think of, Mahatma Gandhi is the major figure here. Uh, they were very wise people, but they were very humble in their wisdom. So a case in point with taught Chief Justice, John Marshall, who was one of the most consequential chief justices in American history. And so when Marshall became Chief Justice, he walked in to meet his, his group in a plain black robe. Well, they were astonished because they had adorned themselves in Irman and red velvet because they wanted to be like the justices in England. He set the example, and I think he got the idea of the plain black robe, the robe of a servant from George with who dressed very modestly. And I think in some of his role roles as clerk of the house delegates, uh, he probably wore the plain black robe. And so that changed, you know, the whole demeanor of the United States Supreme Court. It gave them a more humble approach to their job. So the only deviation from that that we've seen recently is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who added a little lace collar to her robe. But that can be forgiven. So, uh, those are, there's seven of the qualities that I found in doing research for George with, for the book Jefferson's Godfather, Stephen Matini: As you were talking then, you said it, the word that kept coming to my head was, um, humble humbleness. Suzanne Munson: Yes, we all need to learn humility. And it's not the same thing as being humiliated. I've learned that one myself. So we all must try to be servants or helpful to our fellow man in one way or another. That requires a little bit of humility in trying to let go of our ego so much. Stephen Matini: One thing that helps me tremendously to keep my attitude, uh, humble, hopefully, is the awareness that I will not be here forever. What would you say that could be a first step for someone to learn a more humble perspective? Suzanne Munson: Sometimes you have to be brought low by adversity or a great tragedy, or just realizing that you have too much ego, you need to knock it down a peg or two. I can't say when, when I started thinking about that, seriously, it was probably, probably after my husband died. I had time to think about myself. Also, I think we need to realize that our later years can be time for enormous growth. I said when I reached 70, that my seventies were gonna be the best decade of my life, that I was gonna solid fly in my seventies, but I didn't know what I was gonna do, had no idea. Just let things flow. So a certain degree of humility is important there. I ask for guidance. I get little nudges, I think from the other side about nice things to do or good things to do. I always answer my nudge, nudges, otherwise I'd feel kind of bad about something, you know, even if it's just to call somebody or answer a call from an irritating person or take an irritating person to the doctor, you know, that's pushed my limits a little bit. I try to do a lot of volunteer work. I think that's extremely important in living a fulfilling life. And so I work with recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. I do a lot of work with them, and I teach classes that they have in their recovery program. I teach a class on love and forgiveness. Forgiveness is very important. I teach a la a class on emotional intelligence, and they are hungry for this because in their addiction they become stunned as individuals. If you start drinking and drugging when you're 19, you have arrested development. So a lot of these people are just discovering themselves in sobriety. So that is, uh, very rewarding for me to try to help these people. And I enter the classroom, uh, with a degree of humbleness, of humility and, uh, try to relate to them on their level. I've had my issues as well, and so I relate to them. But, uh, meaningful volunteer work, even if you're just working in a soup kitchen, you know, labeling soup out, it's better than sitting home watching TV all day. And a lot of people who retire just go out to the golf course or play bridge. And nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with playing games. We should amuse ourselves. We should have a good time. But you have to balance that with giving to others. And that also includes giving financially if you're able to do so. There's a lot of want in this world. There's refugees all over the world who are literally starving right now. And so we must give generously if we can afford to, to do that to doctors without Borders and all of the good agencies that are trying to help the helpless. So all of that is part of, you know, living more humbly, trying to get out of your ego, trying to think of other people. And that's really part of the secret to to being happy. Stephen Matini: Our society seems to emphasize so much a specific moment in time in your, your twenties when you're super young, it is a shame because life is so much more bigger. And what you said as you age, you, you get a different understanding about everything, a different appreciation about everything that you cannot possibly have. You know, when you are, when you're younger. There's something I wanna ask you that you mentioned before when you were talking about leadership and has to do with the notion of freedom. Because the word freedom is super important. And today, freedom. The word freedom is everywhere. Freedom of speech or freedom, this and that. And people get really confused about what freedom it really is. Some people feel it's a license to do or, or say whatever they want. And for me, it's not at all freedom. If anything is accountability, freedom is responsibility. What is your definition of freedom and what is the, the responsibility of, of people if they really want to be free? Suzanne Munson: Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of hate speech. Certain forms of hate speech are being punished. I mean, media, people are being fired if they do that, but other people are getting by with it on social media and so on. So we need not just a revolution of integrity, but a revolution of kindness, I guess is, is a word I'm thinking of. We need to be kinder to one another. We need to watch that hateful speech, that judgmental speech. Just because you can say it doesn't mean you should say it. So I think that's one freedom that we, we need to really think about what is harmful speech, harmful writing, harmful speaking? Do we really need to say those things? Do we really need to think those things? Can't we teach ourselves to be more thoughtful, more kind, more considerate? So I'm hoping that we'll have better role models in the future and that a lot of this hate speech will, will go away. It's very unhealthy and it's caused a lot of us to turn off the news. Not just because of the hate speech, but because it just seems that all the worst kinds of behavior are presented in the news. And what is our local news? Murders, robberies, car wrecks, whatever. After a while, it gets painful. I listened to the news just enough to be well-informed. I used to listen to it morning, noon, and night. 'cause I wanted to be super well informed. But I can't do that anymore. I don't listen to it until evening. And then a small dose of it just to be informed. Stephen Matini: I feel the same way, , I am informed, but I notice that the more time I spend reading that negative molasses, it doesn't really add any value to my life. So I want to know, of course, what's happening, but I'm more preoccupied about spending my time with you than feeling upset, you know, well, what is the point? You know? But Susan, we talked about so many things and all of them are so important. But out of all the things that we said, is there anything that you deem really important impressions for our listeners to focus on? Suzanne Munson: Well, this is what Thomas Jefferson would want. And George, with these two Founding Fathers, they would want more critical thinking. We need to watch our head time, what I call head time. And I wrote a reflection about that. We are what we think, literally, we are what we think. And if we're dwelling in negativity all the time, it's like a, well, particularly if we have a resentment against somebody or several people, that's a boomerang. It comes back to bite us. Try to think positively, try to live positively, live healthy, think healthy, but also be critical thinkers. Now, I'm very irritated with a lot of my friends who listen to one particular TV channel that tends to slant things and present only one side of an argument that is just wrong. You need to sort through all of the trash and all of the good ideas, and we need to read better books. Get back to reading books or pick better tv. There's, there's some very good things you can look at on tv. Be a critical thinker and try to live. Kindly learn forgiveness Stephen Matini: And kindness shall be. Susan, thank you so much for spending time with me. I've learned a lot of stuff. I have something to think about this weekend and many days to come. Thank you. Suzanne Munson: I've enjoyed it. Stephen.
Mar 7
32 min
Leadership: Lateral Dialogues - Featuring Dr. Petros Oratis
Dr. Petros Oratis, a leadership and organization development consultant, team facilitator, and executive coach, believes modern organizational success hinges on embracing lateral leadership and fostering collaboration across hierarchical boundaries. Lateral leadership refers to a leadership style that emphasizes collaboration, teamwork, and the ability to lead without relying on a formal position of authority. Dr. Oratis advocates for leaders to address these interdependencies by creating spaces for dialogue and understanding, particularly in environments where power dynamics and competition may exist. Listen to the episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Podbean, or your favorite podcast platform. Subscribe to Pity Party Over Sign up for Live Session Managerial & Leadership Development Contact Stephen Connect with Stephen #petrosoratis #lateraldialogues #lateralleadership #pitypartyover #alygn #stephenmatini #podcast #leadershipdevelopment #teamwork TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: I'm really happy to be here with you, we share the same passion and so I have a lot of questions for you, which are questions that I try to answer myself. I got into organizational development, you know, later on in my life. Previously I had a career in marketing, which I thought it was my thing. And then at some point out of pure coincidence I learned that I loved to work on organizational functions and to help people to perform better. How did it happen to you? Is this something that you have always known, but how did you get into this? Petros Oratis: Yeah, that's a very good question on reconnecting with origins and the course of life. I think because I studied in Greece and our system there is quite specific as to how you end up in university. But I think maybe also globally at that age you might not really know what to study. So I studied economics as an undergraduate, not necessarily by choice, but because I wanted to end up in organizations sort of in management. On one hand, when studying economics is very interesting because you learned from very early on in life about systems and about interdependencies and the complexity of the world, which I think it's very helpful as a mindset to be grown from early on. But it's also quite of a positive is science. So it has some sort of predictability in a way. Or you learn very quickly this idea of predictability and control and with knowledge and with models, if you apply them properly, you know you will get good results. But human behavior is extremely complex and even if you get it a little bit in courses around psychology, organizational psychology, still, there is this idea that if we study it and we can predict it, we would know what to do about it. And then of course you probably know from your practice and our profession, that's not how it works with large systems, with human behavior, even with us personally we might think in certain ways. So I started developing this curiosity of could I study human behavior more and differently from conventional studies? I wanted to seek something else and that's how I ended up studying differently organizations. So systemically, I mean the discipline is called system psychodynamics, but the idea is that you also take the more unconscious processes that operate within us and in working relations and then in bigger systems. Still the goal and the principle behind it is how can we understand human behavior so that we can actually address it differently but not, not from also I would say almost god-like thinking that if I were to control it fully, then that's how it would work. Stephen Matini: And eventually you learned that there's something that escapes analysis, you know, that you cannot quite frame. I think there's a huge element of craftsmanship in any job. Early on you started to become really interested in the whole notion of flat structures, bottom up, top down and then it even your own podcast, you know, it's the whole notion of lateral leadership is such a central component. How did you get there? Why? Why is this specific angle so important to you? Petros Oratis: I would say both the hard data, the intuition are, are what working jointly. So you can't, you can't split either or right? And I think that's what you exactly said. And the same thing I would apply to this idea of this very organic one could say type of leadership that you need to discover your role and you need to work through how you are going to lead with others. But at the same time that happens in a explicit structure. This tension, I think it's something that I discovered throughout practice that it is relevant for all of us and it becomes part of leadership. I think the interest on studying that more was when I started my doctorate I didn't know what I would research and I didn't know that would be the topic. I knew that I wanted to study something related to collaboration on that high level. And one of the early findings that was guiding me is this idea that when you get sort of senior leaders that are part of a team even together, they would actually do many very meaningful work together. But to get them actually in a room usually would be very tough, very difficult. And then to take them properly in a room, not just physically but really committed so, and to commit to their interdependency, that was also very difficult. So peeling a little bit the onion around that. So what is it that we understand logically that we need to collaborate, we do want to collaborate, but there is something also that is quite scary that in pulls us away, especially when we grow in hierarchy was the first starting point of that, which made me then understand this is not just about collegial relationships. The group of executives that are part of a team, they are also independent leaders that are trying to lead their own stuff. And that's what becomes quite challenging when you want to approach teamwork is those two roles that they conflict with each other and they require a little bit more understanding Stephen Matini: Based on your studies. There's a cultural component that has a huge weight. So it really depends on the culture, it depends where with the organization is located. But as human beings, do we tend and naturally to favor top down organizations, is that just how we operate? Petros Oratis: Our relation to hierarchy is something that is part of our human nature and I think it very much starts from the idea that we are brought into this world in absolute dependency on parent and caretakers on adults who we can only survive at these sort of early steps of our life actually based on those figures that they will take care of us very practically but also emotionally even to make sense. So that's part of our psyche that cannot go away. This idea that we sort of move from complete dependency into autonomy as we are building our own strength and our own self-reliance, we become less dependent on those individuals and that sort of continuum that I'm sort of painting here also continues in careers. So very early life we may have that mentality. We need to learn from our superiors, we need to depend on their judgment, we need to be guided by them and sort of we develop in careers so that we can actually become more autonomous and more powerful perhaps. And then we'll become more autonomous. And maybe this idea or what we tell ourselves is that then we should lead others and so forth. And while this is of course the nature of life, we are forgetting the lateral dimension of all of this may not come to mind so clearly because we do all of that with other peers, whether that's our siblings or our classmates or later on in in groups, our education, also the career development is giving us enough stimulation to be able to collaborate with others. But we forget completely that this collaboration and maybe this competition will at some point entail also dependency, again. I said early life will depend on parents and that's what we think dependency is about or we depend on bosses but we are actually depending on each other because we are part of systems. When the structure is clear that interdependency is no issue. I come to you when I need to come to you, you come to me when you need to and so forth and we will find each other.  But as this clarity goes more and more away, it also means that it's very difficult to basically understand what these interdependencies are and then later on we have to negotiate on those ourselves. From this idea that we were developing our own strength in order to become autonomous and not to rely on authority figures now comes into a conflict that as we become autonomous we are actually depending on others who may not be so, you know, in a different level than we are or they may not actually even care about us as maybe our bosses cared about us doing a good job, if you see what I mean. They felt responsibility maybe over whether that's a good or a bad boss, but they felt some responsibility over us performing or delivering good work to them. Now we are dependent on others and others depend on us that maybe, you know, it's more on an adult to adult level and they don't have responsibility of our wellbeing. So a different access or a different value needs to come to play that can guide us about how do we negotiate, how do we learn to care for each other or how do we take responsibility of the total outcome. This doesn't answer your question on culture predisposition because you know some cultures are very hierarchical in that sense and some others are very egalitarian. But regardless of those nuances, I think it's also helpful to understand that from a psyche point of view, we already have that programming in our lives. Maybe more than other species even who have a very short period of being dependent then they're spend the rest of their lives being autonomous. Stephen Matini: The answer that I've given myself so far, of the reason why so many organizations are so much top down probably is around the notion of power. Human beings seem to lose their mind around power and around money. What, what do you think of power as a factor? Does it play any weight? Petros Oratis: Absolutely, it's was central to my research. Maybe it's helpful to distinguish what we mean by power and what do we mean by authority, right? So when we talk about formal authority, we're talking about the right that I have to exercise decision or to make decisions over others, and that right has been given to me also because I also hold ultimate responsibility. So authority often is a dirty word, especially nowadays and we can even talk about that. The idea that a leader will exercise authority is a little bit of a turnoff, it's a bit of a, this is not a good leader, it's a very traditional old fashioned type of leader. But we also need to understand that there is a part of authority which is absolutely required and needed. Some roles have a even legal responsibility over something and we are decreasing the idea of your basically ability to, or your right to make decisions, at least in current discourse about leadership we're saying you should not be just doing it in a authoritarian way, but with that sometimes we are almost implying you should not do it at all, which is not helpful. So there, there is something about how do we exercise authority. But there are also very good reasons why authorities completely going down because complexity one person doesn't have the answer, they need to involve a lot of people. There are a lot of interdependencies, there are different organizational models and so forth. So there is a very good reason why authorities not being exercised directly. So, but if you, if you decrease authority, how do roles begin to differentiate, right? And that's where power comes. The idea of power I think is more related to what do I have in terms of resources, internal or external whether that's skills or that can be binding to someone else similarly to authority, right? So whereas authority is very explicit and it comes with a role and it's power is more related to the person related to their skills and how they're using those skills resources to bind others to do something. And that is positive and it's negative. So usually we are saying well we don't wanna be vulnerable, we don't want to be again in this early stages where we were depending on others. So we have to increase our power and that may also get into the negative connotations of we are power hungry so if only I would be at the top of the world, I don't care about titles unless they give me power or that's where we start getting, we might, some of us might get actually power hungry in that sense. But in my research that was not so much. So what is so fascinating in this topic is that we believe it's about egocentric type of leaders that are driven to accumulate power and money and so forth. I'm sure that there is a percentage of those leaders out there and that's a big driver for leadership. But the way I have experienced in my practice, in my research, the power dynamics that get at play is not simply because people are power hungry, is because the lack of clarity and the lack of formal authority enters a dynamic that even though you don't want it to be and you deny it and you try to avoid it to be competitive or being about a power struggle, it automatically becomes a such. So that's also a lot of in misinterpretation about the other occurs. And the two interacting leaders is suddenly become opponents that they need to engage in a power fight even though that's not explicitly mentioned and that's not what they talk about. The felt experience of the dynamic is as such. So then I become more guarded in opening up and I perceive the other perhaps as being power hungry or on a mission to get me or to sort of dominate me, but actually that may not be their agenda. Stephen Matini: When did the notional lateral leadership begin? How far back does it go in terms of studies? Petros Oratis: So lateral leadership has existed for, i I would say as long as organizations have existed, but it has been taken different forms and we mean different things based on sort of the contemporary reality that that we are part of. So there is a field of studies that that actually are focused completely on leaderless groups, actually leaderless movements. And that's not what I necessarily focus on because I focus on that dimension within hierarchal systems, which majority of our systems are. There is a big trend that started that that related to self authorized or self-manage groups that are leaderless and there you need to see how leadership gets exercised beyond roles or people it's exchanged. So in my field it also started very early on because the group dynamics as they were being studied psychoanalytically that started in Second World War and already there there were studies by a famous psych named Bion who are actually, and others I should say, but they studied also groups from this idea that authority and leadership are shared and you need to understand how they get sort of fluctuated within groups. In the mid two thousands, the notion of lateral leadership and lateral collaboration begin to take more traction in being studied also in my discipline, because a lot of changes in organizational structures were pushing that dimension. So what was before maybe a multidisciplinary or cross-functional collaboration where it needed to be studied there it became more relevant for also top leadership for executive level leadership to be studied, because of this idea that even if you have a vertical accountability, you still need to operate on an enterprise level. And a lot of what we are designing on paper, a lot of organizational design also approaches would amplify this idea that as a leader you absolutely need to learn to collaborate laterally. And that doesn't mean just on people on your level, on your equals, it means simply being on a lateral level with multiple leaders or role holders of different parts of the organization where momentarily you don't have formal authority over and you either have to lead or you have to follow them. So it's not so clear. Stephen Matini: Who would you consider to be a great example of lateral leadership these days? Petros Oratis: I don't want to go into a situation where I call out the particular individual. I could describe some of the characteristics that I found out from my research even though it's all helpful to find role models. So sometimes, you know, I am more in, in this idea that we need to acknowledge the challenges that come from a in our human nature or certain type of behaviors and understand them as opposed to say, you know, underdeveloped leaders or very inspiring leaders. Stephen Matini: I have a a brilliant example and I'm being very humble. I think a good example would be you and I. Who are we? We are competitors. I mean feasibly I may provide some of your services to the same clients, you know on a technical level, you and I competitor, but we are here working together. I love the fact that we can create something together that makes sense. Something that hopefully is going to provide a lot of opportunities and wonderful things to you and to me, you know, rather than competing with other agencies, can we all come together and really support each other and to provide to clients is something that is the cumulative combination of our experiences. So maybe I'm completely off with this, but I think that in some small way I try to be a non-authoritative type of leader. Petros Oratis: What you say resonates a lot and of course I recognize the principles of of what you're saying. My challenge maybe to this and the view of the world in general is that we reflect on this behavior, our value or our ability to engage with that. What we might be forgetting the context. So what you and I have done in our roles is that we sought out an independent practice, right in that sense and in our interaction. Now we might have competitiveness or elements where we might, we could look at them in a competitive or a reserved way. Yes. But we are coming in a collaboration together out of very autonomous roles and we can actually, protect is not the right word, but our independence will not be heavily impacted in our collaboration. That doesn't discount any of what you describe around values or the fact that somebody else could approach something in a very competitive way. Like so it doesn't discount our personal values around that. But the difference, I think we need to remember what may shift the dynamic is either the actual interdependency or the idea of interdependency. So for example, if I forget what you just said and I go on LinkedIn, everyone is a competitor and everyone is a potential client and therefore I might get into a mode that I'm suffocating myself and I need to, you know, I need to become very assertive and very authoritative and so forth. Now organizations completely expose you to that experience all the time. Even if your values are as such, you will never forget that you have to compete. There are limited resources. When you started the question one individual leader came to mind who was actually driven a lot by impact, was inspired to actually take on big roles but without becoming competitive or not being driven by ego or by money and so forth. But of course was also struggling with that. So, and I think that a role model doesn't necessarily mean they don't struggle with exercising that leadership, but in one of the cases that was brought in, there was basically a funding for a research that was given to someone else in another department that he thought should actually had come to him because he was advocating for that role. So, and in that moment was sharing this was starting doubting shouldn't I be more competitive? Shouldn't I be more hierarchical? Why did it went somewhere else? Am I not playing the game right and so forth. And then whilst talking I didn't do much in that interaction, I was just listening. But whilst talking to it, he was saying well maybe this other person, their role was most suited to get the grant done in my case. So he started contextualizing what was happening so that he could step out of this power dynamic that was already imposed. Because it brings up a lot of good questions like who am I? If I'm bypassed in my organization, who am I? Am I, if I'm too collaborative, does it mean that I will be seen for my individual contribution, could maybe later on somebody else speak of my work but they get the credits. All of those aspects that are far in an organization that are far more, I would say even suffocating or impactful than being independent. So starting my research, I was thinking, you know, you have people who are more inclined to be power hungry or they're driven by hierarchy and there are others who are more based on purpose and so forth, but I cannot really say that I can draw the lines so clearly and I am more of an optimist in that sense in a full spectrum where sometimes they're triggered to be in a certain way and sometimes they're triggered to be seen differently. Stephen Matini: It seems that we're going through a massive shift and whether leaders want it or not, you have to start collaborating. You will not be able to survive in such a super complex and fast environment in which we are in. It is virtually impossible. Petros Oratis: I think that younger generations but also the contemporary state is all about purpose and vision more so than you know, the promise of career development, what is a good purpose of an organization that also is shifting quite a lot in a positive way. But that I think also creates maybe a challenge for different generations of leaders, including also the new generation of leaders, right? So not just older generations I think for all is this idea of combining the two different styles. It's very difficult if you think about that. I have experienced even, you know, moments where roles that are more supportive that are from more junior staff as part of a, for example executive team. Sometimes they find it very difficult also to say, oh hold on, this is not actually for me to decide or I need to accept that somebody else ultimately decides. Not everything is about consensus. There are moments that we are lateral and it has to be that way that's enriching the process. And then there are moments actually that we are quite hierarchical. We're quite vertical because some others have those, you know, you are the owner at the end of the day you carry the risks of your business and so forth and it could not be seen as that risk then has to be shared laterally if you, if you see what I mean. Even if you could do that Stephen Matini: In your job, in my job it is such an important thing to have the strength and to be optimistic. So when you work with the client and you provide your point of view, which is beautiful and they are skeptical in, they say, seriously, I understand all of this but I don't see how we can apply here, we have shareholders, we have to produce money, produce results. What is the first step you take in order for them to start getting into this whole lateral type of thinking? Petros Oratis: I think actually that the work with a client is never of the same format as we do now that we analyze something in such a cognitive way. I need to clarify that I'm not advocating for a certain organizational model whether that should be hierarchical or not, right? So, so I would never go in an organization or work with a leader by already holding in mind what the right answer is. All I'm trying to do in that work with a leader is to understand how the lateral dimension, which is always there even in the army, so, so even in a very hierarchical structure and the actual organizational structure with its rules, how they interact for them and for their team. But that's also not necessarily the my beginning and my stop of of this work. So it's just a very informative dimension, what is at the back of the mind and if it requires and it helps the leader to explore that further, we work specifically on that. If not some of those principles will be offering some guiding questions so that we can resolve some of the tensions that they're experiencing with different awareness. So I would never advocate for them to become less authoritative or to let go of control immediately. I would try to understand what are the drivers behind a certain type of behavior, whether that style is supportive of the role and what are the limitations and work with that. That's why I would be very reluctant, for example, to put people in a spectrum of hierarchical versus lateral because these are also contextual. What we often do also is to understand how is my personal predisposition on authority and hierarchy and what is also of more fluid leadership. So what are my predisposition and what are also some of my unconscious relationship models that I carry with me in those roles. So do I experience an thought figure as by default someone who is there to get me or to maybe restrict my autonomy or have I learned to effectively challenge those figures playfully maybe or am I rebellious Again, they can be very resourceful, those models that we all carry, but they could also have limitations. So how far am I conscious of how I'm basically using them? And the same is when I interact with others on a more lateral level. Stephen Matini: What would you say that is the one aspect of your job that makes you the happiest? Petros Oratis: The highlight of this work and what actually is a fuel for doing more of it is when when you have seen that when you work with individuals or with teams, they have actually accomplished an understanding and insights that inspires change, which before was completely out of reach to them. Not because they don't have the skills or because I am might be more intellectual as such, but because the space was not there. So it was through the work, there was space created to experience insights about own behavior and about understanding the system we operate in that before was completely out of reach and that really gives me a high after, after doing such work. I'm not saying that it always has sustainable change if you do it one off and then you that it has, but those moments can never be forgotten either. So even when sometimes the team or an individual defaults into previous behavior, that moment is not forgotten. So it's a, it's a touch point of saying, hold on a second, why am I back into a certain type of behavior? And sometimes, you know, you cannot change a system alone or even can change fully a system. Like you learn how to tweak a little bit or change somewhat of a balance. But I think this is what absolutely gives me a high. Maybe to seek some sort of understanding of different perspectives. That's something also that I was missing in my early life also because of divorce of parents. So I could see that one household had a different storyline, the other household had, they were not fighting necessarily the storylines, but I could see the differences and I, I always was in this experience, but why do I get to be in between and not be able to share the experience of being in between? And that's a little bit what you do often with consulting and coaching is that you are coming across very different storylines, sometimes competitive storylines and we you're trying to actually engage into some sort of dialogue. Also what I've learned is that sometimes my drive to see a certain type of harmony or a certain type of understanding or collaborative moving forward may not be what's needed or what's helpful to others or it may not be as painful to them as I maybe once experienced that. So I think by doing a lot of that work also that desire goes a little bit down in me. The more and more I do this work I process a little bit those experiences that I thought, you know, maybe also they should be better now then I'm thinking okay, maybe they were not so bad in the end. Stephen Matini: Petros we talked about so many different things and I still have so many questions, but I wanna ask you, is there anything that you deem to be really, really important that our listeners, the listeners of this episode that should pay attention to? Petros Oratis: Maybe I already referred to it a little bit, but I think one of my biggest insights is when coming across competitive or power dynamics that are challenging to experience emotionally, I think it is also very important to find a space to process them and not to draw judgments right away to perceive that an organization is not maybe healthy or safe because of those dynamics. It's an unfair thing to be stated. There is no way for organizations to find their equilibrium without a lot of those power dynamics that are at play. When we are in situations that are completely harmonious and everyone is very friendly, we will quickly find out that those dynamics are under the table, which can make it even harder than in highly, let's just say competitive environments where competition is what you see is what you get. So in other words, it's something that we need to learn to play with a little bit more without it being so daunting, without also thinking that it's for the ones who are highly political and they are on a power trick. That's also not what I'm actually advocating, But it's to say we need to come more comfortable with negotiating authorities all the time with each other to wrestle a little bit with our dynamics, especially in highly interdependent roles, and not to judge others when they are on that mode, but to find ways to make that dialogue a little bit richer and that process a little bit richer. Stephen Matini: Petros I've learned a ton of things today. I really appreciate the time you gave me and your kindness. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Feb 28
32 min
Management Development: First-Time Manager - Featuring Eric Girard
Eric Girard, author of the book Lead Like A Pro: The Essential Guide for New Managers, assists professionals in transitioning from high-performing individual contributors to effective people managers. Eric discusses the psychological aspects of this transition, providing insights into managing change and setting realistic expectations. This conversation is a comprehensive exploration of the challenges and triumphs that managers face in their evolution to effective leadership. Listen to the episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Podbean, or your favorite podcast platform. Subscribe to the Pity Party Over podcast Sign up for Live Session to learn management skills Managerial & Leadership Development Contact Stephen Connect with Stephen #ericgirard #leadlikeapro #managementdevelopment #podcast #pitypartyover #alygn #stephenmatini #leadershipdevelopment   TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini : How did you get to this point? You know, because you take care, such a specific thing, which is helping manager transitioning people transition into manager role. So is this something that you have always thought? Have you always had an interest? How did it happen? Eric Girard: I got into learning and development in my teens. It starts way back in the Boy Scouts. I was a boy scout for years and years and I used to teach kids how to swim and paddle a canoe and row a boat, anything in, on or under the water. And I loved it when a kid would get something like get a skill, like how to make a canoe do what they wanted. And they would go, whoa. And I thought, Hey, I like teaching. Then I went to college and discovered learning and development and joined the Association for Talent Development. Back then it was the American Society for Training and Development, joined a student chapter and got my first job out of college teaching people how to use their computers. And that was okay, but it was, it felt like I was on a hamster wheel. I felt like I was just running, running, running, running, running. So I went and got my master's degree in intercultural training and wound up traveling around. I taught English in Japan. I lived in Australia for a couple years and then when I came back from Australia, I thought, okay, it's time to really find my passion. And I wound up working for a cross-cultural consulting firm. And then I got recruited to come to Silicon Valley. So that started my 20 year sojourn in Silicon Valley. And I went from teaching new hires about the company, new hire orientation into employee development, and then eventually management development. And then I thought, aha, these are my people. This, I like this. So helping managers understand their new role, helping them move from being great employees, great individual contributors, and moving to being a great people manager and learning all those skills and there's a whole list of them was really rewarding to me. So that's where I, I wound up settling, was in the area of management development and I love it and I've decided to make it my life's work now that I'm out of Silicon Valley and I've got my own practice, that's what I do. I love helping new managers make that shift.   Stephen Matini: Because of your cross-cultural experience, is there something that you have noticed that is consistent in managers all over the world? Eric Girard: You know, managers are people, actually, this is a funny thing that came up in a class I was teaching. So I'm in Iowa teaching a class for, at the headquarters of one of my biggest clients. It's the second day of a three-day class. And this one manager who had been pretty active throughout, they raised their hand and said, I just wanna say something. All managers need therapy. That was a big thing to say. And they say, yeah, all managers need therapy because if you don't take care of your own stuff, then you're not gonna be any good to your team. This person was making the case that it's really important to take care of your own stuff, the stuff that's going on in your head so that you can be fully present and fully there for your team. And I thought that was really good. It was a bold statement to make, but you know, we were in a room where we could speak freely. And it makes perfect sense to me that just as people, we all carry a certain amount of baggage into the workplace. And I think it's important to deal with that. And when you're in a leadership position, whether you're a first line manager or whether you're a CXO, when you're in a leadership position, you need to be self-aware and you need to take care of the things that may hinder you from doing the best job possible when it comes to leading other people. I think that's a universal that I would mention   Stephen Matini: When I deal with managers, I deal with people very, very often that never ever took any sort of managerial development plan at all. So essentially finally they get to it when it's too late. So how do you address that issue with clients? Eric Girard: Well, I would never say it's too late. My first suggestion is that there's always time to learn something new. There's always time to improve your ability to lead teams. And so I often will lead classes that are really meant for new managers. The content is fundamental, and yet people will still come to class, you know, Hey, I've been a manager for 10 years and I've never received any training and I'm really grateful to be here. So I don't see it as a problem. I see it as a, as a cost for celebration because you know, this person finally is gonna fill in the gaps. They've probably figured it out. If they've been a manager for 10 years, and I see this a lot, people have been managing for 3, 5, 10 years or more. And this might be their first or second ever management class. Hey, let's fill in the gaps and let's maybe course correct where you can be a little more effective and bring a little more empathy to your role. It, I would say it's never too late   Stephen Matini: Usually. Do you follow a specific learning path with new managers or you let them take the lead? How? Where do you start with them? Eric Girard: Well, in my book I started with empathy. So the first chapter and the longest chapter is about empathy. And that as a human leading of the humans, you need to be empathetic and you need to be able to walk a mile in other people's shoes. Not to the point where you become a therapist or a counselor, but just being able to listen really, really well and attend to what the other person is saying. So, so I lead with that and then we start with making the transition. Okay, you were a great engineer, you were a great financial analyst, you were a great fill in the blank. Now you're leading a team of those people. Let's make the mental psychological transition to a leadership role. And then from there, you know, and the order of these things will vary a little bit once we've made the transition. Then we'll talk a little bit about goal setting, we'll talk about delegation coaching feedback, how to manage change, how to build trust. And these things all happen in slightly different orders. But when I wrote like a pro, I really thought through, okay, if I could write a perfect course, how would it be organized? That's what the table of contents of that book is all about is okay, you know, first empathy, then make the transition, and then all these other things kind of in increasing levels of difficulty and importance.   Stephen Matini: You know, I've never written a book, but I wonder because you went through that experience, what have you learned about yourself in the process of writing a book about something you love? Eric Girard: This wasn't really clear to me until I got into the book. For six months I sat down and for an hour a day for six months, I wrote the book. You know, I just gave myself an hour every morning when I was freshest and I would, I would hammer out a page or a chapter or a paragraph, whatever I could get done in an hour. And that was fun. Recording the audio book, going into the studio and recording the audio book. That was fun. The editing the endless back and forth, not fun. I'm very much a big ideas guy, you know. So I will come up with a big idea. I will put together the framework and put together the skeleton, and then I'll ask somebody else to come in and, and do the detailed work. And I find that that's how I run my business as well, is I will have the big ideas and then I will say, Diana, Sandra Bill, could you please make this pretty? Because that's not my forte.   Stephen Matini: So you are a leader, maybe more than a manager. Eric Girard: You know, in a micro business you have to do everything. So I can't completely just throw things over the fence, but I know where my strengths are and I play to my strengths and I ask other people to use their strengths. And I'm really open about it, you know, I have a horrible memory. I'm not good with detail, and the people on my team are. And so that's what I asked them to bring. And it works really well   Stephen Matini: As a manager. But in your case, as an entrepreneur, how do you choose good team members? That's a skill. Eric Girard: It's a skill. There's a fair amount of luck involved in it as well. So I got lucky because two of the people that are on my team, I've known for years, and I know their skills. So for example, when I started Gerard Training Solutions, I thought, Hey, I can do it all. I can design, develop, deliver the courses, I can do the branded slide decks, I can do the books, I can run the website, I can do all the things because I'm very smart and can do all these things, right? And I immediately made such a mess of the website that I called my friend Sandra and said, can you please fix the website? And she came in and within a couple of days, I had a website and it was beautiful. So I'm like, okay, you're in. But I had known Sandra, let's see, I met her in 2011 and I brought her on in 20 20, 20 21. So I had known her for about 10 years by that point. There was a combination of knowing her very well and then also knowing her skills. So knowing her as a person, knowing her skills, then I realized that marketing is very important for a small business. And through an association with somebody else, I met Diana. Diana is Colombian, she actually works in Bogota and she's a great social media manager. And so she was a referral and I tried her out and gave her a couple of assignments and they got, they were really good. So I gave her more and gave her more until pretty soon I'm like, would you like a role on the team? Then I decided that I wanted to start getting out in bigger outlets, getting my name out into bigger outlets. I wanted to publish in well-known magazines in my field, TD Magazine, training magazine, training industry. And I knew that journalism is not my forte, but my oldest friend from high school, bill, I met Bill in 1986, and there's a whole story about how we met, but I've known Bill most of my life, like almost 40 years, and he is an outstanding author and editor and public affairs guru. And so I asked him if he'd be willing to, to write with me on these projects. And he said, yeah, absolutely. So having these people in my sphere of influence already and just having those skills and then being referred to pipe to people. So I always, I always trust referrals over cold outreach. And I really appreciate the fact that Diana came through a referral and then I gave her small assignments and then worked up and it's worked out beautifully.   Stephen Matini: One of the things that I hear quite often from managers, because managers work hours and hours and hours, you know, next to people like you with your team, is you inevitably not with everyone, with some people you become friends. So how do you manage, how do you balance boundaries? And the delicate relationship between a, this is a friendship, but you know, this is also a professional relationship. Eric Girard: Yeah, that's really dicey. And I actually had a professional relationship blow up because the lines got blurred a little bit and it didn't go well, it didn't end well. So that was a huge learning for me. But with Bill, Sandra, and Diana, you know, we're all friends, like, we're all friends, we're all friendly, but when we're working, we're working. Like, for example, with Bill, we practically got our own language. You know, we've known each other for almost 40 years, and we've got inside jokes, we've got silly things we say to each other, stuff that would just, you know, not be appropriate in a work context that doesn't come out when we're working, when we're working. I am Bill's client and so there's a client boss relationship going on there. And as soon as the work is done, then that switch gets turned off and the friend switch gets turned on. It's a really important distinction to make because getting too friendly or too comfortable when I'm asking him to perform an important task could lead to poor results, could lead to hurt feelings. So we're pretty professional with each other when we're working. And then when we're done working, then we can talk about our families and we can talk about, you know, that one time that silly thing happened. And we can talk about that when the work is done for a manager in a corporate setting. 'cause You know, obviously I don't work in a corporate setting anymore, but, but in a corporate setting, I would say what's really important is setting goals and setting boundaries. This is what I expect of you professionally. Here are your smart goals, this is what I need you to get done, and if it gets done or if you knock outta the park, no problems. If you start to have performance issues, then there's a path we need to take. And I have to take it as a representative of the corporation. And you know, I, I still love you, you're still my friend, but you know, we need to make sure that that goals get achieved. So I think that that's the, the number one thing when you're managing a friend in the workplace is have boundaries, have goals.   Stephen Matini: It sounds really difficult to me, really, and also, you know, boundaries. I have to say, in my experience, listening to a lot of people must be the one thing that drives people crazy. People either not being able to express their thoughts, feeling that, what is it gonna happen to me if I say what I have to say? And then not saying it, they end up being a pressure cooker. And striking the balance is such a difficult thing. Is this a topic that you ever talk with your clients? How does set boundaries. Eric Girard: You know, on, on occasion I'll talk about, you know, setting boundaries and I will usually default to goal setting, which I've discussed, and a SWOT analysis and just being kind of clinical when it comes to assessing your team and what are your strengths and what are your weaknesses? You know, I would definitely talk with folks who are experts in workplace culture, talk with your HR folks and you know, talk about, hey, I wanna set a culture of excellence, of openness on my team of trust. I love Patrick Lencioni's, work on the five Dysfunctions of a team. So I would really focus on really building that baseline of trust so that people can say what's on their mind and not be afraid of it blowing up. There's resources out there for folks, I would definitely refer folks to Patrick Lencioni, definitely refer folks to setting goals and boundaries and being open about those, having frequent conversations about those. And then doing a SWOT analysis where you sort of stand back and say, okay, how are we in the four areas of swot? And you know, are there things that we need to fix or adjust in order to get the most outta the team? If   Stephen Matini: A team exist in a culture that is not a SpeakUp culture, it's not a transparent culture, communication, struggles moving, is it still possible for the team to become something of a happy island in which communication flows. Eric Girard: Happens? All the time happened to me when I was working my first gig in Silicon Valley, actually, the, the company I worked at the longest, I was there for seven years, almost eight years because the culture was so good in our little island, we, our learning and development team was great at talking about issues, talking about things that were not working or were working. We supported each other. This is the team I was part of when I was diagnosed with cancer. And they rallied, they showed up, they brought food, they took me to my appointments, they were magnificent human beings. And that was inside of a company that maybe didn't have the greatest culture all around. But that team had a fantastic culture and I was very loyal for years to that team.   Stephen Matini: See, this is usually a difficult conversation that I had with managers. Like, to give an example, last week I was with three different groups of managers and all of them were constantly pointing out responsibilities that upper management has. And so we talked about different issues and they said, well, you know, we are here discussing these issues, but the people who could actually do something about it, it's them. How do you handle that rightful concern at the, the same time reminding people, yes, but you also have responsibilities in the matter. How do you explain that?   Eric Girard: If you've got a culture where people are pointing fingers, that's a little more fundamental, that's a bigger problem than just something you're gonna solve in a meeting. Building a culture of agency and self-advocacy and getting people to say, okay, the system we work in, the company we work for is not perfect. What can I do right now to move things forward? That actually brings me into the change management content that I teach. When we think about control and areas over which you have no control areas over which you have full control and areas over which you have some influence. And a lot of us will beat our heads against the wall, against things over which we have no control. I can't control how the CXOs, how the c-suite acts. I'm gonna have no influence over the c-suite unless you happen to have an extremely good relationship. But most of us are gonna have no control over how the c-suite acts. What I can control fully is my own attitude, my own inner talk, my own self-talk, and the places where I can have influence is with my team. Maybe you can't control the weather, you can't control the stock price, you can't control the c-suite, forget about it. You can fully control your own attitude and your own self-talk, manage that. Just invest enough energy to keep that rolling forward. But those areas where you can influence, where you can influence your team, maybe you've got the ear of your team leader or your friends with somebody else on the team, that's where you can influence and that's where you should focus your energy. So that's how I would handle that question is by saying, listen, don't waste your energy. You know, don't beat your head against the wall trying to influence the c-suite. You're, you're probably not gonna do it. Focus on your own attitude and the attitude of your team members and build a culture inside your team that you want to be part of and move forward with that.   Stephen Matini: Working with a lot of managers, what would you say that is? The one complaint that you hear the most from managers? The one thing that drives them crazy. Eric Girard: Most managers I talk to are, are just extremely time poor. There're just isn't enough time in the day because when you're an individual contributor, you're focused on your tasks, you've got your list, you know, you've got your project plans and you're responsible for that, and you get that done as a manager, you have to focus on getting results through other people. And so not only do you usually have tasks that you're responsible for, but you also have to get the team to focus on what they're responsible for. And so the, the two things that I really help managers do is first off, delegate, how can you learn how to be an excellent delegator and empower your team members to run with something and get it done and then let you know how it went. There's a fantastic article I bring up all the time, it's by HBR, the Harvard Business Review, and the title is called Who's Got the Monkey. And it was an article that was written in 1974 and then republished in 1999. So it's got some real staying power and it talks about six different levels, degrees of freedom that you can have as an individual contributor that you can have with an, an agreement with your, your manager, everything from sitting, sitting on your hands and waiting to be told what to do all the way up to just handle it and don't even bother telling the boss. And then there's levels in between. So I would encourage any manager new or not to read that article. It's free on the HBR website and, and have a discussion with your team about how many degrees of freedom, how much freedom can your individual team members have per task. Learning how to delegate is number one, learning how to manage your time is number two, and everybody's gonna have a slightly different method of managing their time. I use the Covey four quadrants, the urgency and importance matrix, which for history buffs folks might be interested. It actually comes from Eisenhower, president Eisenhower, learning how to manage your time and prioritize and then, you know, getting yourself some sort of a system that you will use. So I've got a system that works great for me, I wouldn't expect anybody else to use it because it's very peculiar to me, but the best system for you is the one that you will use. So whether it's using Asana or whether it's using your calendar or whether you batch things in email, find that system and stick to it and iterate it as you need to so that you can get the most important things done every day. And there's still white space on your calendar to have impromptu meetings with your team members and you get your job done as well. The individual contributor tasks that you have as a first line manager. So it's a delicate balance, but it can be done.   Stephen Matini: How would you respond to a manager who says, I understand that my job entails managing people, but I have all these tasks and that I need to take care of and I don't have time, you know, for people, I don't have time for meetings, I don't have time to build relationship with people. Eric Girard: People. Yeah. That to me takes a shift in mindset because we're all busy, we are all absolutely busy, there's no denying that. And you have to honor the long hours that managers are putting in and you can't afford not to invest in your team. If you don't invest in your team, how are you gonna be able to properly delegate to them if you don't know their skills, if you don't know their strengths, if you don't know their weaknesses, if you don't know these people, how can you delegate work off to them to get stuff off your plate so that you have more time? So I would say that's crucial. You have to change your mindset. You have to get to know your team, you have to have one-on-ones, I would say weekly for an hour, biweekly for 45 minutes, pick something, but do it regularly and treat it as sacred time. Don't mess with it rescheduling because something urgent came up in the business. Totally okay, but never just cancel with no reason. But have those regular meetings to get to know your team members and let them get to know you so that you can give them more and more responsibility. Because people are motivated, not so much by money, but Dan Pink in his book Drive talks about people being motivated by autonomy, mastery, and purpose. And you can help people develop autonomy, mastery, and purpose by getting to know them first and find out what they want to be autonomous about, what they wanna master and what drives them from a purpose standpoint. And then you can tailor their workload so that they can take on more and more and you have more time to actually breathe.   Stephen Matini: You know, some people seem to be really more on the task side, just the way they are as people, the way they think their personality. They seem to have this ability of thinking in terms of tasks more than people. And I love when you said that you open your book dedicating a lot of space to empathy. So can you teach to someone who's not particularly empathetic how to boost their people skills? Eric Girard: Oh yeah, I talk about that in that chapter. You know, the whole idea of, you know, this is all nice Eric, but I'm not particularly empathetic. That's not my jam. I'm a task oriented person. That's okay. You can learn, you can learn to be empathetic, you can learn to listen. So I would re absolutely recommend Daniel Goldman's book Emotional Intelligence, do a little reading and read about emotional intelligence and how to build that. That's fantastic. Look for opportunities in your day-to-day life to do something a little different. So for example, talk with somebody who's got a different point of view than you on on anything. You know, you may not want to jump right into politics, for example, but you know, just, you know, a different point of view on how a work process should be done or how to get a particular thing done, listening to different points of view and trying to understand why that person thinks the way they think. The whole point here that I make in the empathy chapter is trying to walk a mile in other, per other people's shoes. But doing that gradually, don't throw yourself in the deep end. I'm to the point now where I'm ready to do something kind of big for me. I think I'm a fairly empathetic person, but around where I live, there are a number of unhoused people, a lot of homeless people, and I carry in my car bags full of supplies for them. And so if I see somebody on the corner with a sign rather than giving them money, I'll give them this bag that has a little bit of food, has phone numbers for resources in it, might have a little clothes in it, just useful things that will help somebody, you know, be a little more comfortable rather than just handing over a $5 bill. But I've never actually sat down and talked with somebody who is homeless and had a meal with them. So I'm actually gonna look for an opportunity to go to, you know, a place and have a meal with, with somebody who's unhoused and talk with them. There's a fantastic food pantry not far from where I live, and they, they offer all kinds of services as well. So I'm, I'm gonna start talking with Fish Line more and more to see about, hey, how, how else can I get involved? What else can I do besides just handing out these, these packets? That's gonna be, for me, a big step toward building more empathy toward people who are unhoused. And, you know, I'm not suggesting that listeners have to do that right away, but just take a small step toward could I have a conversation with somebody who has a different point of view than me? Could I go someplace that I wouldn't normally go? Can I go to a meeting that I wouldn't normally go to?   Stephen Matini: Eric, empathy is a wonderful thing, you know, energetically takes so much effort to empathize with someone. Do you ever get tired and how do you protect your energy by assisting so many people as you do? Eric Girard: I wanna be careful. I'm not Mother Teresa, so I'm, I'm not, you know, out doing marvelous things all the time, but I'm just, I'm just trying little by little to do a little bit more and yeah, it's draining. It's, it's very, it's very exhausting. So I'm an extrovert. I love being around people, so I get recharged by being around people. I love doing this, for example, this is fun to me, but I also have time at home with my kids in front of the fire reading a book, just relaxing. If I want to totally relax and unplug, I'll read a book in front of our fire with, with the kids, or I'll go mountain biking or scuba diving or something like that and go get some me time to recharge a little bit.   Stephen Matini: Why do you think that you got so interested in managers rather than executives, white managers of all possible professionals? Eric Girard: Well, there's a story to that. When I started in the Silicon Valley, I noticed, you know, the company that I was with was growing very fast. I was noticing that people were being promoted very quickly. One day they were an individual contributor. The next day they're leading the team and they made an absolute mess of it. They, they didn't receive training, they didn't receive guidance, they just said, okay, now you're leading the team, good luck. And it didn't go well. So being on the receiving end of that, I didn't like that very much. So, you know, that planted the seed. Then it was my turn, I got promoted. I didn't receive enough training right off the bat and I knew made a mess of it. I didn't follow any of my own advice, I just made a hash of it. So I walked away from that experience going, okay, never again.   Stephen Matini: What did you do? What did you mess up? Eric Girard: I micromanaged. I didn't delegate. I gave very, very nitpicky feedback. Like it's embarrassing. I cr it was cringey, the sort of things that I did. Once I went through that, I thought, okay, never again. Never again. And so fast forward when we decided to move outta Silicon Valley up to the Seattle area, I thought, you know what, I'm gonna start my own company and that's gonna be my focus is helping new managers making that, make that transition.   Stephen Matini: Have you noticed any differences between female and male managers and the issues that have to deal with if two people, same age, same level professionally, one is a woman and the other one is a man. Have you noticed through your experience any differences in terms of issues they deal with, how they progress throughout their managerial development or they're not any difference at all? Eric Girard: I haven't really seen any differences. I've worked with and around a lot of very strong female managers who, who did an excellent job and I've also worked for some who completely invested up just like their male counterparts.   Stephen Matini: The one thing that I've noticed, I've noticed, not in terms of capacity, obviously same thing, but in terms of feeling legitimate, feeling that they own a position. Sometimes I've noticed that a female managers, they seem to work at twice as hard as their male counterparts and there's a cultural component to it, at least here in Italy it's really, really, really strong. But you never notice something like that in the us. Eric Girard: Not that I can think of now. It may exist. It's just not something I, I paid much attention to.   Stephen Matini: So in your job that you help people transition into a managerial position, do you ever help them managers transition towards a leadership position? So moving up higher. Eric Girard: My focus is primarily helping folks make that first transition. If you think of the leadership pipeline, that first transition into first line manager positions, a lot of what I would recommend to folks who are looking at, you know, making that next transition is, I would say read the Leadership pipeline. Fantastic book there. And then I would encourage everybody, everybody to read the first 90 days fantastic book to help folks make transitions, whether it's from individual contributor into management or from management into more senior leadership, maybe from a senior manager into a director position or director to vp. Those are a couple of really valuable books I'd suggest.   Stephen Matini: I would suggest for them to read your chapter on empathy. That to me is the first thing to understand what it means to be a leader. How do we explain to people the difference in simple terms between being a leader and being a manager? Because a lot of people get confused. It's, they're two things. Eric Girard: It's kind of a fun puzzle that, because I think in order to be a good manager, you also have to be a good leader. But there are a lot of good leaders who are not managers who don't have any leadership position at all. And so, you know, the qualities of leadership in terms of being able to get people rallied around a vision to help folks see this is where we're going, I will get us there or we will get there together. Those are qualities that, that a manager needs to have and a leader needs to have. And I think that there are in some instances where you've got folks who have the manager title, but who are not leaders. And I think that, that that's where you, you wind up with problems. So, you know, a good leader is somebody who can build trust. A good leader is somebody who can create a culture of inclusivity and making it okay to speak about issues openly, who can do conflict who focuses on results. Those are all elements of leadership that, you know, a person may have whether or not they have the title of manager. Does that make sense?   Stephen Matini: It does, it does. You know, one thing that I started thinking recently, and there's no really logic to what I'm saying, just in my pure observation, sometimes I think, boy, it is so hard to be a manager. I mean, these people really, they're in between, they have this bizarre position. They have to listen to the people on top of them and they have to manage the one below. And so sometimes I think it seems to me that maybe being a manager is so much harder compared to people that have a, a higher opposition. What do you think? Eric Girard: I'm not sure if it's any harder than a position above it. A lot of folks, what I've seen is it's, it's they're kind of taken aback or they're shocked, you know, because I was a great engineer and all I had to do was, was crank out my code and, and I was fine to go from there to, oh wait a minute, I have to do that and I have to lead people and I have to manage processes and you know, I have to make sure that all the TPS reports are right and I have to make sure that everybody's happy and engaged. That sometimes is a bit shocking. What happens typically is once somebody's been through that transition, and then as they move up the ranks from manager to senior, manager to director and so on, is that they just get more used to it and they get more skilled at managing their time. So they're not completely stressed all the time.   Stephen Matini: When people start working with you on their managerial skills, how long would you say that it takes them to transition and to feel comfortable being a manager? Eric Girard: Well, it's not instant, that's for sure. You know, it, it's not something that you come to my class and then, you're a manager and it's all, it's all better. It's a psychological transition. There's a difference between change. So the title changed. Okay, so you know, I walk into your office and I am a senior specialist and I walk out of your office and I'm a manager. The thing is, the change, the psychological process that we go through, that's the transition. And that could take weeks or months, it goes faster if you've got people to talk to. It goes faster if you know what to expect. But you have to allow people to go through their own change curve. So Elizabeth Kubler Ross came up with, with a change curve that was based on her grief curve. And I use a simplified version of it where you've got denial, resistance, exploration, and commitment. And it's okay to go through all four steps. It's okay to resist for a little while. The fact that your old job has ended and now you've got a new job, that's okay, but you can't get stuck there. And so having somebody to talk to, whether it's your employee assistance program, whether it's your HR manager, whether it's another trusted manager, having somebody to talk to, to move on toward exploration, and you start to see what's in it for me and what will I get from this onto commitment. And okay, you know, now I'm a manager, I've left the old job behind, I've got my new job and I'm ready to go. And that could take days, weeks, months, it's gonna be different for everybody.   Stephen Matini: And it's also really hard because sometimes when I work with clients, they want everything now. And in the past we used to say, well you need to have at least a year to feel comfortable in a new position, let alone to become a manager. But now everybody wants everything now, you know, sometimes I'm asked, we want you to do a coaching intervention with this person. How many coaching sessions do I have? Five say, what do you want me to do in five sessions? The timeframe, you know, is becoming smaller and smaller, which I don't think is fair to people. Exactly for the reason you said it. There's a curve. Every single person is different. It takes patience and we don't react the same way. You know? What are the first sign in terms of changing the mindset that you notice in someone that finally start getting what being a manager is? Eric Girard: You know, again, if I go back to the change curve and then think back to some of the things that people say and do in denial, you hear a lot of people say, well this isn't gonna affect me, nothing's gonna change. There's a sign that somebody's in denial. Resistance might be, I don't want this. I didn't sign up for this. This is not what I expected. Those are some of the things that you can hear people say when they move out of resistance into exploration. The sorts of things that they're saying include things like, well, I could see the benefit of fill in the blank. This could be good in these ways. And so this is where a good coach could help this person sort of move themselves along the change curve more quickly. So I think a coach who's skilled at asking great questions and who also understands change and grief, could coach somebody along the change curve and help have that happen fairly quickly, happen over a series of weeks rather than months.   Stephen Matini: What's gonna be next for you in your professional projects? Eric Girard: Well, after the book, I decided that the perfect accompaniment to that would be a course to support the book. So I'm going about to launch a course that'll be called Lead Like a Pro. It'll be a four week course, it'll be two and a half hours once a week, so not four solid weeks, but it'll be four days over four weeks. And we will go deep into each of the chapters and the lead like a pro book with tons of activities, tons of opportunity to apply what you learned. And by the time new managers go through that course, they'll have the tools they need to be a great manager.   Stephen Matini: For anyone listening to episodes, we talked about so many different things, you know, so many different aspects of of being a manager, what would you say it is the one thing they should pay close attention to out of all we said, you Eric Girard: Know, I would come back to my sort of the thing I led with, which is empathy. Especially in, you know, here we are, we're recording this in November, 2023, take a look at the headlines in the New York Times. I mean, things are a little crazy in the world. So I would say bringing that human element, bringing that ability to walk a mile in somebody else's shoes and to listen really well is critical. And I think that that's the thing that's gonna differentiate whether you or a bot is managing your team in the next three years.   Stephen Matini: As you were talking, you know, throughout this time together you have empathy, but you also have lightness and a sense of humor, which I think helps a lot. So that's what I take your lightness. But thank you so much for sharing all these wonderful insights. I loved it. Eric Girard: Yeah, thank you very much. It was my pleasure.
Feb 22
40 min
Well-Being: Letting Go - Featuring Kali Patrick
Kali Patrick is a Sleep, Health, & Well-Being Coach whose book Mastering Your Sleep Puzzle helps busy people who struggle with sleep due to stress and overactive minds. Kali highlights the importance of letting go, creating personal space, and making positive lifestyle changes for better sleep. Our interview revolves around understanding and addressing individualized sleep challenges through a comprehensive, mindful, and personalized approach. Listen to the episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Podbean, or your favorite podcast platform. Subscribe to Pity Party Over Sign up for Live Session Managerial & Leadership Development Contact Stephen Matini Connect with Stephen Matini #KaliPatrick #SleepCoach #MasteringYourSleepPuzzle #Well-Being #LettingGo #Burnout #Work-LifeBalance #Podcast #PityPartyOver #Alygn #StephenMatini #LeadershipDevelopment TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: So I think maybe as a first question that I should ask you to an expert in sleep is, how did you sleep last night? Kali Patrick: I was doing mixed and you know, a lot of people think that because I'm a sleep coach, that I get something like whatever perfect sleep would be that that happens every night. It's almost like if you were a, a nutrition person, people think that you never eat anything that's not healthy. As a woman of a certain age, I wake up hot and then cold and then hot and then cold. So some nights are better than others. I mean, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't great.   Stephen Matini: When did you start getting interested in sleep? I know you mentioned last time also that, you know, as it happened to so many of us as somehow a trouble or something that upset us becomes the inspiration for a job. How did it start for you? Kali Patrick: Well, my big problems are rooted back in childhood. I think they really started bothering me and becoming an issue in, in college I was under a lot of stress. I was studying for a degree that did not match what I was truly, naturally good at and wanted to do. So I had a lot of stress around making sure I got good grades and making sure I kept my financial support, et cetera. And I had a lot of trouble sleeping. I started this with grinding of the teeth with bro them. So had a lot of pain in my mouth and was going to dentist. They finally gave me the guards for my feet. So that took away some of the pain. But I was still tired. I was still very stressed and struggling and that went on and I graduated and everything was fine and I got a job and then the stress became the job, which, which was in high tech. And I was developing websites back when they were new. So I'm on my way, I something to do in fact that, that I enjoyed, which was helpful. But it was still a very stressful environment. Things were always changing. As you might know, things are never static. You always, always behind, always busy. And so I was having trouble sleeping then and again. I knew it was because of the stress. So I explored things like yoga and meditation and I would take a class here and there and try, okay, I'm gonna sit and I'm gonna stop my mind and I'm gonna do all the things. And that didn't work. And finally I'd say it was probably 15 years later, I did a sleep study. 'cause I thought, well maybe there's something wrong. And going to a doctor and, and telling them, Hey, I'm having trouble sleeping. I don't know what else to do. They had me sleep in the room with the wires attached to my head. And I thought, how in the world am I gonna sleep in a cold, sterile environment with people behind a, a mirror watching me and monitoring me? And turns out I fell asleep. And he said, I woke up in the morning and they said, well, there's nothing wrong with you. You slept great. Here's a prescription. And in hindsight, I really questioned why I got a prescription if there was nothing wrong. I was happy. I was great. Okay, nothing's wrong with me. I have a prescription, I'll take this medication and I'll sleep. I must be taking it for about a week. And that was it because I noticed that I was groggy when I woke up, more so than had I not slept. And I didn't remember my dream. I was a, a pretty vivid dreamer at that time and I was interested in my dream. And when I woke up after taking medication, I couldn't remember them anymore. And I said, well, so I'm gonna wake up broadly. At least I want the benefit of remembering my dream. So I stopped doing that and went to all the natural things, right? The valerian and the melatonin, the teeth, anything that was sort of more natural that I could try. And none of that worked. I eventually thought from burnout in 2010 with my job, I had risen up through the ranks manager, et cetera, all the fun that comes with that as a sort of new job in a tech environment. So I left everything. I just said, I can't do this anymore. I had the benefit of being able to do that. So I went into a yoga teacher training program just saying, I don't wanna teach yoga. I just want to do something completely different and do something that's going to be good for me and I know that this is going to be good for me. And so I did a really intensive teacher training and it was life changing. It was just one of those moments where, wow, my life could be different, I could be different. So I came back from that saying, I do wanna teach yoga. I do wanna be that person who's less stressed and has that calm be yoga voice and just as relaxed. And that created a lot of turmoil in my existing life because the two things didn't fit at all. So there was a lot of, of shedding of my career, my relationship, and it was a very difficult time actually. But what came out of that was this practice that I now have where I am helping people learn how to sleep better, how to do it without all of that stuff that clearly, well, it didn't work for me. That doesn't mean it doesn't work for other people, but most of the people I coach have been in that situation, right where they have tried all the things, I've done, all the stuff I've seen my doctor, nothing's wrong, but I'm not sleeping. And so it's really a pleasure to be able to work with people and to help them find their way through that and do it in a way that works for them, right? Just because I did it in a certain way, you know, you mentioned I'm a sleep expert. I don't call myself a sleep expert. I call myself a sleep coach because I don't initially have all the answers. What we do in a coaching situation is we work together and we navigate it together and we figure out, well, what's going to work best for each person? And that could be completely different than how I did it, but it's that learning how to reconnect to your own natural ability to sleep and see all these other things as distraction, as more stressors, as more to do and to really peel the things away that are preventing sleep versus trying to do things to make sleep happen.   Stephen Matini: Where do you start when you want to be more aware? Kali Patrick: I do usually have people do an assessment. So let's lay out all the problems. Let's just get it all on the table. What are the issues people are having? A lot of my clients suffer from multiple sleep concerns. The main bucket being trouble falling asleep initially when you go to bed, trouble staying asleep throughout the night. Some people wake up too early and some people have all of those problems and still others sometimes feel that the sleep at night is interrupted in some way, or not quality sleep because in the daytime they feel, well, I get tired right in the afternoon, for example. I get tired, I don't have the energy that I want. So we lay all that out. Generally speaking, people have an idea of what might be contributing positively or negatively to their space. What's something you do, for example, that you know you sleep better when you do it? You know, a lot of people will say, well I wanna go for a walk. I know when I exercise or when I go for a walk in the daylight, I sleep better that night. Okay, great. So then that's one in the column of this helps. Okay, what's one thing you're doing that is probably not the best thing for your sleep? And out of 10 people say using technology, I'm on my phone, I'm on my iPad, I'm watching television, I'm, you know, too late in the evening before bed. That's the number one answer. We do that, we go back and forth. We look at what are the contributors, what are the things that are influencing sleep? And the other thing that I think is really important is to step back from all that and say, well what do we want six months from now, a year from now? What do you want your life to be like? And people usually start out by saying, well, I'd like to sleep better. I'd like to have more energy. Great. Let's imagine that you have that now. What do you want? What will you do with all that energy that you have as a result of sleeping better? What will you do with all the extra time and money and effort that you're putting into trying to solve this problem? Where will that go? That becomes the motivating factor. So I've had people say all sorts of wonderful things and people wanna start a business. People want to create art or music. People want to be better in their relationship. There's no right or wrong answer there, but what is the vision for somebody who tweaks better and is more energetic? And that is a real important part of the process because we have to keep that in mind when we make choices and all those little choices that make or break someone's sleep on a daily basis, on a nightly basis.   Stephen Matini: If I understood correctly, it seems that sleep is the manifestation or something else. It is something that gets affected when other parts of our life do not quite align or work the way they do. While you were talking, obviously I'm not a sleep expert, probably my expertise, I would say lies more in the, in the communication realm. And for me, communication is always the indicator, depending how that is or things flowing or flowing and such and such. So oftentimes when people want to work on communication, they feel that, okay, let's address communication, miscommunication in reality, the problem usually is always elsewhere. Sure, you know, there's certain technicalities you want to learn about communication, but once all the other stuff is taken care of, then usually communication flows. And as they were talking, you know, it seems to me it might be a similar dynamic. Kali Patrick: Absolutely. And and a lot of it, like I I mentioned is, is removing barriers. So clearing the path. And yes, once people start to make different choices, and particularly around rest and recovery, sleep happen. You don't create sleep, you don't make sleep happen. It does happen when you get out of the way of it and a different mindset, it's different view into the problem and therefore a different solution.   Stephen Matini: One thing you said last time when you and I talked that really got stuck in my head is sleeping, is learning to let go. And I think it's beautiful because falling asleep it is, you know, letting it go. But it's such a simple thing, but it seems to be so hard sometimes to do. Would you mind explaining more this concept? Kali Patrick: I often say sleep is about letting go or sleep is a surrender as a way to contrast with how we typically look at sleep and how we look at solving sleep struggle, right? Which is to try to control the problem, to put practices in place. Not to say that having a great bedtime routine isn't a wonderful thing, but when we start to get rigid about it, right, okay, I have to do this and I have to do this and I have to do this. Or we get stressed and anxious about it, okay, I'm not sleeping, so let me run through all the things I could possibly do to help myself, right? Which I see a lot of people doing as well, right? So that's all in service of how do I make sleep happen? How do I control my sleep? How do I fix this problem? Which I work with fixers, I work with managers, I work with project managers, program managers, people who are used to looking at a problem saying, okay, I can fix this. How do I do that? What are my options? And that works great in a lot of situations and we get praised for our ability to do that in a lot of different situations. But when it, where it comes to sleep, that actually usually backfires. So what we need to do, as you said, is to say, okay, what do I need to let go of? How do I let myself surrender to this? And that is not easy. It is a simple idea. It makes sense to most people, but it's not necessarily easy. And in part that's because of the training that we've had, right? Again, the training we've had to say, okay, here's a problem. What are my options? How do I solve it? And to some extent we do bring that to the sleep struggle, but it is less about doing and more about undoing. So in terms of really looking to surrender and let go, I think the best way to practice that, and it is a practice, doesn't just, we don't just suddenly be able to let go, right? We have to practice that is by having moments during the day where we can practice rest and practice receiving and practice recovery, which most people don't do. And even if they do try to do that, a lot of times we're so conditioned to be doing and moving and productive that sitting down, for example, for 15 minutes without some sort of stimulation, just sitting and being with ourselves and you know, yeah, letting the mind do its thing. It's going to think, it's going to be busy, but can we try to be built and give that space for the mind to kind of process and the heart and the emotion. Certainly we're consuming a lot of things during the day, right? We're consuming information, we're consuming other people's energy and we might have difficult conversations, et cetera. So we need to sort of process that and we give ourselves these small rest breaks during the day. It might not be sort of the then meditation experience, but those things can wash through our brains and wash through our body. During the daytime, people usually complain that, Hey, I'm up at three in the morning and I'm thinking about what happened during the day and I'm worrying about this and I'm worrying about that. Oh, that's because that's when you're finally quiet. That's when you're finally still, we need to practice that during the daytime, like make an appointment with ourselves to say, okay, I'm gonna just sit and say, okay, what's happened so far today? Let me process that. Let me see what do I think? What do I feel about that? And then get up and move on. But that does require some change to how the daytime is.   Stephen Matini: Are you deliberate with the quiet moments during the day minute? Do you plan them somehow or you let them happen organically? Spontaneously? Kali Patrick: Personally or for my client?   Stephen Matini: Both. Kali Patrick: Personally I plan for them, for me in particular, the morning is a sacred time. I have a good two to three hours from the time that I get up to the time that I start, you know, my day where I'm quote unquote working on something, right? Where I, and it's not that I'm sitting here quiet, right? I have things that I'm doing, but I have a process. I'm maybe sitting down reading something that I wanna read. I drink coffee. Yes, I do have, I enjoy my hot cup of coffee in a cold morning, right? So I take that time to kind of ease into my day. And I do also have an appointment with myself around three in the afternoon because I know that's when I tend to get a little bit of low energy, which many people do. And so that's a great time also to take care of yourself and to have that appointment with yourself. My clients sometimes do that as well where, where they know, oh, well, you know, lunchtime I have a break, I can sit with my food, et cetera. Or if they have children or depending on their schedule, they need to figure out where, when that works best for them. I find that most people, unless they're highly exceptional and have a really flexible schedule, most people do benefit from having some sort of routine and rhythm to it. So it's a consistent, every day at this time, I do this. And the body and the mind start to expect that it becomes part of the training of the rhythm of the day, which also does all contribute to having a better night. So, but it's, it's completely up to what works for each person.   Stephen Matini: As I was going through your website and learning as much as possible so I could be well-informed. I read one thing that I, I thought I'm gonna ask her, which is revenge bedtime procrastination is, I wanna ask you, I used to have such a busy schedule, you know, go, go, go, go, go out of the, I don't know, guilt or whatever the hell it was. And then in the evening I would procrastinate going to bed because it was like, screw it. Now I need some time for myself. I need to carve with some times that I can actually exist and live. Is this an example of revenge, bedtime procrastination? Kali Patrick: 100%. Exactly. It's that not having time for yourself during the daytime, that pushes me further away because, oh, you know, maybe the house is quiet or you finally feel as though you've done all the things you need to do that day. It's a scheduling problem to some extent, right? If there are too many things that are not for me happening during my day, too much of me giving myself to other people. We talk a lot about boundaries and coaching because oftentimes people struggle with saying no at work, saying no to family friends, to asking for help, for receiving help, for taking that time without feeling guilty. And that that is really important, you know, and we know from, I mean from the work side, the to-do list is endless. It never goes away. And I mean, it's the same in personal life really. Everything's a project, right? You can't go do anything quickly. I'm finding that, you know, I put something on my list of something to do personally, and I think it's gonna take 15 minutes and I'm on, you know, I'm on in traffic, I'm on the phone, whatever, for an hour. Everything takes longer than we think. And we don't, we don't necessarily budget for that. And we don't necessarily give ourselves those moments of quiet, like I mentioned. So of course we're gonna create, that's, that's basically moving that moment of rest and quiet and time for you taking it away from your sleep time. And that's a choice. Is that time to yourself more important than the quality of your suite? It might be, but at some point the what you're taking away from your suite is going to catch up with you and then you'll make a difference with it.   Stephen Matini: And it, and it's also so cultural particularly, yeah, I would say for the western world, you know, which is so focused on doing, doing, doing, doing, doing. And the notion that if you carve some space for yourself, it's not that you're being unproductive, you're just recouping your energy so you can be even more efficient. You know, that's something that is definitely not part of the mindset of, of a lot of people. And so when we talk about work-life balance and all these programs within organizations for work-life balance, is that just a big lie ? Because I mean, we're getting this whole thing so wrong. I mean, what is a healthy way to really approach work-life balance, you know, from an organizational standpoint? Kali Patrick: Well, the thing that IHP and I'm often a provider for company. I come in and I do webinars. I talk about sleep, I talk about meditation, I do meditation classes, I teach yoga. These are benefits that a lot of companies give to try to help people with their mental health and their physical health and have some balance. What I see unfortunately is that many people don't take advantage of those programs. And the main thing that I see as to why is there's that permission. There's not an environment of safety that says, well, you're gonna take this hour and for yourself and go to a yoga class. We're gonna offer it to you, but we're going to make you feel really bad if you go take it because it's work to do. So for me, it comes down to that permission and that security, right? That it's an acceptable choice to say, yes, I'm gonna take advantage of that. And it doesn't have to be a company provided yoga class, it could be a, Hey, I'm gonna go out for my run in the afternoon because I want some daylight before the sun goes away and I know it's going to help me sleep better. But if it feels bad or like the person's going to get punished for taking that time, then they're not gonna take that time. And that's the, the shingle biggest thing I think is the problem. And it has been a problem for many years, is that people don't feel comfortable doing it. I have done some consulting work in the past couple years just to kind of stay connected to the culture. I did a consulting job probably several years ago now, but I had to be in an all day meeting with the, the customers and my boss. And I said, great. It was, it was in Boston. I said, I'll be there at nine o'clock. So I show up at, he said, no problem. I show up at nine o'clock. They've been there since seven. Okay, fine. I'm here at nine, fully participatory, well rested. We get it to about 12 o'clock noon. I'm thinking, my stomach's growling, I'm ready for a break, I'm hungry, I'm thirsty, et cetera. No one's making any movement to leave. I can feel my blood sugar going down, right? So I said, excuse me, I'm going to get up and take a break now. And I got up and I left the room and I was the only one who did this. And it took so much courage, it really was hard. And I know everything I know about burning out and, and not doing this and having that experience and having recovered from that experience, I knew I had to do it. I mean, it, it was so difficult to do that. I thought, you know, on all the things in the minds, right? Oh my gosh, what are they gonna think of me? That I left on top of that I was the only female in the room at the time. There's that, there's a little bit of that concern going on. But it took a half an hour lunch, I just left, I ate my lunch, I, I drank some water, I went to the restroom, walked around a little bit, came back, they're all still there, right? And they brought some things in, you know, some bad coffee, some pizza, whatever. And you know, people ate and continued the meeting. So three o'clock in the afternoon, now we're still all trapped in this room. No oxygen, excuse me, I'm just gonna step out for a moment. I get up, I walk around, get some water, et cetera, et cetera, come back in. It got a little easier that second time because I had done it already by five o'clock the meeting was over, the client left, my boss looks at me and he says, oh my God, I need a scotch. I am wiped. I am like so drained. Well of course you've been here since seven, you haven't left the room, you haven't moved around, you haven't really eaten anything. Well you haven't had a drink of anything hydrating, right? And I actually kind of sat there for a moment. I thought, I'm okay, I feel okay. And that's because I made different choices. But it's really hard when you're the only one doing this. And in another situation, what I did might've inspired others to say, Hey, yeah, let's take a break. And sometimes that does happen, but I, I like this example. 'cause It, it was a bit extreme where no one else left the room . I think it's a good illustration of how it does require courage. We are in many cases working against the culture, which is largely unhealthy.   Stephen Matini: I wanna ask you something about your book, you know, mastering your sleep puzzle. When I got familiar with your background, it's kind of interesting your approach because if I got it right, you almost like, I rejected everything that people usually do around sleep, but you're going really to the most interesting, smart way to do it. You know, which is a way to approach it that, that I find it more, let's say more strategic. Let all the stuff that gets in the way away so that it, the sleeper can happen naturally. So if I had to ask you what makes your book, you know, different compared to similar books, I mean, what would you say? Kali Patrick: Well, I'm not sure there is a similar book, the book that I read about sleep are the more sleep science books. And certainly those are interesting for somebody who has a sleep struggle, although I don't, I'm not sure that it's absolutely necessary. I do see a lot of people reading the, the very deep sleep science and, and, and details about insomnia and that just creates more anxiety around the fact that they're not sleeping. So my book is really a marriage of the coaching process, the health and wellbeing coaching process with a lot of concepts from yoga and meditation, but more of the philosophy around energy and how stimulation is a root cause of many people sleep struggles these days and how to reduce the stimulation through various practices. So the 12 weeks is really a step by step. How do I do this for myself without being a plan, if that makes sense, right? It's not a 12 week plan. I don't say, okay, here's what you do exactly in week one, you must do X, Y, and Z. It's not prescriptive, it's here are the things that I want you to think about and you put your own plan in place. So I think it has the potential to, to help a lot more people because it is not something that's rigid and formulaic, but it does follow a style a, a again, a a method that I have seen work in many stressed out, particularly busy people. You have this problem of being overstimulated and, and not necessarily having a sleep disorder, a medical problem, but having disorder sleep through behaviors and patterns and, and training of life.   Stephen Matini: Before we we're talking about electronics, you know, we all know some people more than others that it would be great to give ourselves some space and time without any sort of digital stuff because that interferes with our sleep. In terms of diet, what to eat in the evening, like I understand your approach is so much more holistic and comprehensive, but is it, is anything like really practical that people could be right away mindful of what to eat or not to eat in the evening based on your experience? Kali Patrick: Well there is a whole chapter in the book about eating. It is certainly related just to stress is related to sleep, so is eating, so was exercise, so was light, so was so many different things, which is part of why I called the book Mastering Your Sleep Puzzle, right? 'cause There's so many small components of things that influence our sleep, again, positively or negatively. So being aware of that and knowing that is part of the solution and most people have that sense of, of what's going on for themselves. But caffeine is something that lasts in your system for a lot longer than, you know, people think sugar is often a problem for people, especially as they age In the evening, for example, I used to be able to eat to drink coffee with dinner or to have a chocolate cake for dessert, whatever. But now not so much where you learn to adapt. We learn to pay attention and see the connection and then to where the gap and say, okay, so now when I have my chocolate cake, it's at lunch because I want my chocolate cake, right? and I want my sleep. So I make an adjustment. Then I have everything that I want if I have a light dinner because I often eat more for lunch than I do for dinner. Sometimes I don't eat enough and then I find that, well I'm hungry before bed. You don't wanna go to bed hungry because a stomach growling is going to keep you awake. You're not gonna be able to relax. So then I eat a little something just enough to take away that feeling of hunger. I think I do say in the book, what's interesting about food and sleep I think is that you probably have experienced that when you're hungry, when you're ready to eat, you feel a little tired, right? The energy goes down because the fuel is gone. So it's almost like you wanna time the bedtime with that feeling of the energy going down. And digestion of course is an active process. So the, the more that is in the stomach to be digestive, the more active and stimulated your system's going to be. So there is that balance. And again, for every person, we don't wanna be going to bed and having blood sugar crashes or wake up at two in the morning when blood sugar often does funny things too. So again, it's learning what works for your system and then making those, those changes to adapt. And it will change throughout a person's life for sure.   Stephen Matini: And sometimes it gets so tough because of the, also the culture. Like, you know, I live in Italy and Italians for the most part eat around 8:00 PM and I think they have lunch probably 1:00 PM Of course it changes from person to person, but roughly, but what happens, a lot of people enjoy to go, you know, to dinner like at nine o'clock, at nine 30. And it's something that I love the social component, but I just cannot do it. I mean, that means that if I do that, either I don't eat a thing or if I eat, then I'm gonna be super, you know, harshly punished, you know, doing my sleep. So, and, and it's difficult sometimes with some people, you know, explaining that, that you're not trying to be finicky or difficult. It just really, you know, I cannot afford and not to sleep because then tomorrow is a million different things that I need to do, you know, for sure. We talked about different things from different angles about sleep and so much more. Is there anything in particular that you think would be helpful for the people listening to this episode to focus on as a starting point? Kali Patrick: What I see a lot and hear a lot from people is all the things that haven't worked. I think we, we started off with this, right? I've tried this, I've done that, I've done this. But yet many people are still doing those things. And again, this is an example of where if you're not sure if it's working for you and especially if it's creating stress, then drop it. I see people who have 12 step bedtime routine too much and they're still not sleeping 'cause they're seeing me, right? They're coming for a consultation. So why do it? It's not helping you let it go, start fresh, right? When you wake up in the middle of the night, people go through that file drawer of, well I can breathe like this or I can do this meditation, or I could do this visitation, or I can count sleep or I can do this, or I can get up and have a da da da da da. And then you can hear the busyness, the stress coming in the mind, right? So there's all these options. Choose one thing when I wake up in the middle of the night, I'm going to do this and then do that thing for a month. At least don't worry about whatever other options you see. You go on, you go on social media, you find, oh there's this new technique, right? There's a new app, there's a new this, there's a new net, forget it, you're doing your thing. There's so many things that can work, but it's like digging a bunch of shallow wells. You're never gonna hit water. You have to focus in on something that sounds like it's going to be enjoyable. That sounds like you think it's going to help, that maybe you feel in your gut, you know, it's going to help me, right? Just focus in on that and let all the other stuff drop away for a time and see what happens. Because again, for a lot of people, there's this increased focus on getting better sleep, which on the one hand is great. Yes, we need to pay attention to this area that we've perhaps neglected for a time, but there can be a hyper focus on it that does more harm than good. Again, this whole conversation really has been about how do we narrow the focus? How do we create some space for ourselves and let what's not helping and what's not the focus drop away? I think that's really the theme of what we've been saying in so many different way.   Stephen Matini: I love it because it seems to me a positive strength approach essentially. Like rather than seeking some solution, you know, there's already a bunch of stuff that if you just pay attention to it, you can tap into it and just to get the whole sleep pattern perfecting a better. Kali Patrick: Yes. And many people need help with that, right? Because we are so conditioned. I mean that's, that's how I'd partner with people. I help them shift their focus and sometimes shift their mindset or shift how they're thinking about making healthy choices, right? How do I talk to my partner about sleeping separately? How do I tell my friends, I'm not trying to be antisocial. How do I know what's the best thing we can, we can talk about that and we can figure that out together and then approach the method with some curiosity. Well, what happened when I tried that? Right? Let's pay attention and let's really see what worked, what didn't? How do we do more of what does work? How do we rely on what you already know? And your strengths And your abilities and what you have been able to accomplish? There are so many people sometimes who say, well I haven't had an experience of good night's sleep in a really long time. And then we have a conversation and I find out, well, a week ago, yeah, I had a great night's sleep. Okay, well, so you're capable. Your body and your mind are capable of doing that. You've had that experience. It might not be a week ago, it might be two weeks ago or or three months ago, but you've done it. So it's possible people lose that hope sometimes when they're struggling that it's even possible for them to do it again. So we really reconnect with the positive and start to shift the mindset around what can I do and what is working and how do I just do more of that?   Stephen Matini: Well, Kali, this evening, I think inevitably I will think about you for sure and all the wonderful things that you shared with me. Thank you so much for giving me your time. I've learned a lot. Kali Patrick: Oh great. Thank you. It's been my pleasure speaking with you.
Feb 14
38 min
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