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633: How to Get Unstuck, and Find Your Perfect Career Fit with Ashley Stahl

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Ashley Stahl says: "Clarity comes from engagement an it's never going to be from thought. You really can't think your way into clarity."

Ashley Stahl discusses how to find your dream career by getting clear on your core skills, values, and motivators.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The #1 reason why people end up exhausted in their careers
  2. How to identify your 3 core skillsets
  3. How to turn a bland job into a grand job

PLUS, we’re giving away copies of Ashley’s book to celebrate the new year! We’ll send copies to the first 24 listeners who share a link to this post on LinkedIn, along with their favorite nugget of wisdom from the episode. Don’t forget to tag both Pete and Ashley in your post!

About Ashley

Ashley Stahl is counter-terrorism professional turned career coach and author of the book You Turn: Get Unstuck, Discover Your Direction, Design Your Dream Career, and she’s on a mission to help you step into a career you’re excited about and aligned with. Through her two viral TEDx speeches, her online courses, her email list of 500,000 and her show, You Turn Podcast, she’s been able to support clients in 31 countries in discovering their best career path, upgrading their confidence and landing more job offers. 

She maintains a monthly career column in Forbes, and her work has been also featured in outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, CBS, SELF, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and more.

Resources mentioned in the show:

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Ashley Stahl Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Ashley, thanks for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Ashley Stahl
Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to spend this time with you.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, me too. Well, I’m excited to get into what you’ve got to say but, first, I want to hear a smidge about your background. Now, I noticed in your LinkedIn that you have experiences both working for the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, California, as well as fighting terrorism, although separately. It’s not fighting terrorism with Arnold Schwarzenegger, which I’m sure he’s done in a number of movies. I couldn’t list them. So, do you have any pretty wild stories from either of these encounters?

Ashley Stahl
Oh, my gosh. I’m so excited you asked me this. Nobody’s ever asked me about this.

Pete Mockaitis
I love it when people say that.

Ashley Stahl
Well, first of all, I used to answer Arnold Schwarzenegger’s government phone calls and so I would always be that intern that’s like, “Office of the Governor,” and then you would get all sorts of people across the rainbow that would be calling in. And one of my most common calls were people who would kind of sound normal at the beginning, “Hi, I’m looking for Arnold Schwarzenegger,” I’m like, “Oh, I’m his intern. I can help you.” And then suddenly they would go straight into emulating him, and they go, “Get down, we have to get out of here.”

And I was in charge of the FBI logs to basically report people who are going crazy to make sure that they weren’t an actual threat to national security. So, I was constantly having to fill out my little log every day, like, “Irene called again from Florida, David from Venice Beach,” so I was reporting all sorts of people, and that was a crazy job.

As far as counterterrorism goes, working at the Pentagon at Washington, D.C., I wouldn’t say that I had funny experiences. I feel like the experience even getting into the Pentagon was a lot of failure for me, learning how to job hunt, which informed my entire career path, mastering the job hunt. But I think that was more of a serious time. And I came into the Pentagon when NATO was trying in Afghanistan in 2011, so it was much more of a tense environment at that time and a lot of heaviness.

Ashley Stahl
Even though the Pentagon was very serious, I will say that I was caught sitting at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk asking another intern to take a picture of me to send to my mom, and I got in trouble by the head of the office and a couple of political appointees walked in right as I was doing that, so I definitely learned my lesson on respecting the situation at a young age.

Pete Mockaitis
Like, they haven’t done it.

Ashley Stahl
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
I mean, I couldn’t resist myself. I would, first, maybe. Okay. So, then these people who were just quoting Arnold Schwarzenegger, they had to be logged as threats, like, “Get down,” because that is…

Ashley Stahl
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Wow. So, by that standard he might have more threats than any other governor around because nobody else is going to call the governor of Illinois and say, “Get down.”

Ashley Stahl
Oh, look. Listen, one thing I’ve learned working in the government is that there will always be something else weird. Everybody is a special little snowflake working in government offices and they will get their share of weird constituent phone calls. I also went down to the bottom of the California building, downtown L.A., during my internship, and I would answer all of the protester grievances, so that was where I learned how to handle a lot of angry energy and kind of neutralized it and keep my people skills at bay, and those are just a couple of things.

Also, I used to get his mail, and that was the time when anthrax was a full-on trend, and so people would put baby powder in his mail to pretend that it was anthrax, which was terrifying. So, I was like the sacrificial lamb on the frontlines of the baby powder wanna-be-anthrax situation.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, man. Well, that’s a wild cross section of experience, so that just sort of sets the stage for you know a thing or two about careers, discovering direction, designing your dream career, and more. So, I was intrigued, so as we were emailing back and forth, you said, “I’ve got some stuff that your people have never heard before,” so, I’m intrigued.

Lay it on us. How do you think about career, strategy, job hunting, getting unstuck stuff differently than other career coaches out there?

Ashley Stahl
Yeah, I’m pretty unconventional. There’s so much content out around how to get a job, and how to master an interview, but there’s not a lot of people out there who are going against the grain.

Like, for example, one of the things I learned early on in my career in my 20s was don’t follow your passion. Passion is interesting. It’s valuable. It’s something to consider, but it will never be as important for your career path as your core skillset. Really taking a look at what are your natural talents, what are your natural gifts, and how does that inform your career. So, that belief system is just the basis of what I write about in my book or what I do on my podcast.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, okay. Well, then you talk about some core pieces in terms of core nature, core skillsets, core values, core motivations. How about we start with skillset? You’ve got a nice little listing. Tell us about it.

Ashley Stahl
Yeah, I have a list of 10 core skillsets because I think the answer for anybody who is feeling stuck, or unsure of what their next move is, or something is missing at work, is coming back home to who you really are. That’s the concept of making a you turn is reconnecting to yourself. And that comes back down to noticing where you’re innately talented.

And one of the things about your core skillset that can be kind of challenging is that it’s so obvious to you, it’s so natural to you, that it’s almost hard to notice that you have whatever that thing is as a skillset. So, one question I tell people to ask the people in their life, whether it’s their parents or their close friends or their colleagues…

So, when you ask somebody, “When have you see me at my best?” and I always tell people that it’s not going to be easy to tell that for yourself. It’s so much more helpful when you can collect that information from someone else so you can really take that in. And so that’s why I ask people to write their responses so that I can read them. And instead of asking them in a verbal conversation, I’ll have them text me back or something like that so I can have that information.

And then the question from there to ask yourself is, “What skillset am I using when people see me at my best?” Because here’s the truth of the matter, according to research both in dating and also with job hunting, oftentimes other people have a better sense of who you are than you do. And it’s not because we don’t know ourselves. It’s because it’s easy for someone else to neutrally see where we stand out. That might be obvious for us and not so obvious to the rest of the world, and we might not even realize that.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, yeah, that’s powerful. I think it really rings true in terms of when I’ve been amazed at the work of others, and I’ve said, “Oh, my gosh, this is so great.” They’ll say, “Well, it’s not a big deal. I just kind of cranked this out in like 20 minutes.” Often, it’s sort of like a design task because I’m not great at that, it’s like, “Oh, this is amazing. This is so gorgeous. How did you do it? It must’ve taken you forever.” They’re like, “No, just 20 minutes. I mean, it’s really no big deal.”

And so, I think that’s really true and that it comes so naturally to you that it doesn’t seem…you don’t feel victorious because it wasn’t hard, and so it doesn’t register and trigger like, “Oh, wow, I’m so proud of that thing I just did. I’m awesome at this,” because it was just that easy.

Ashley Stahl
Oh, yes. And I also think a lot of people kind of get stuck on this idea of clarity. Like, if I had a penny for everybody that said, “I need clarity,” you and I would just be on a private jet with your family right now living on an island or something, because the ultimate truth for me is that you don’t need clarity. You just need to reconnect to yourself. Hence, this concept of making a you turn.

So, the 10-core skillset—I’ll go through these for any of our note-takers—I think, really kind of bring you back to the question at the root of “Who are you really?” and then the realization that there are so many different versions and ways for you to truly harness that core skillset and use it in the world. So for example, right now on this podcast, if you notice, my core skillset is words.

And what’s really interesting to consider, as you look at your core skillset, is how many different ways there are to express your core skillset. So, in my case, words can look like many things. It can look like me being a speaker, an author. It could also look like me being a salesperson or a business development professional in the workforce. It could look like me being a real estate agent, a talent agent, because it’s all about I am turning words into money.

Another thing to really look through when you’re considering these 10 core skillsets, words just being one out of the 10, is asking yourself, “Am I introverted or am I extroverted?” because if you take at take a look at the words skillset alone, there are many different ways or versions to express that. The internal way of expressing it is as a writer, or a content creator, I mean, there are so many different ways, as an editorial strategist, whatever have you. But the external way of expressing the words core skillset is more of a speaker, a spokesperson. So I saddle both sides of the fence as a writer and also as a speaker, a podcaster with my own show, all of those things.

And so, it’s really key through that people ask themselves, first and foremost, as they’re looking at the core skillsets, “Am I an introvert or am I an extrovert?” And I know there’s a lot of research on being an ambivert, but I do think people tend to lean one way or the other.

So, would it be helpful for me to go through all 10?

Pete Mockaitis
Yes let’s do that.

Ashley Stahl
So, I can kind of just go through them for anybody who’s taking notes, kind of think about where they fit, and really start asking themselves, “Am I an introvert? Am I an extrovert? How do I want to express this?” So, the first one, other than words, which I already gave you, guys, is innovation. And you kind of want to think about this as an energy, not just a tactical skillset.

So, the innovation person is the intrapreneur, it’s the entrepreneur, it’s the creative self-starter, it’s the person who maybe maintains their own book of business throughout a company. It is somebody who is coming up with solutions for different problems. So, it’s really important if you think about innovation, you are probably the entrepreneur at heart or the highly-creative person.

The second core skillset is building. This one is very much so on energy. So, one way it can look is being a mechanic, a construction worker, a little bit more tactical. Another way it could look is a little bit more conceptual and concrete like a web developer or somebody who’s building out a website. So, there’s many different ways that you can harness these skills.

The third one is words, which was mine, and I talked to you guys about that one. And then the fourth one is motion. Motion, as a core skillset, is all about using your body, using your physical energy throughout the day. So, this could be as literal as a fitness professional, this could be like a masseuse, a tour guide, anybody who’s using their energy and their body throughout the day and being in a state of movement is the motion core skillset.

And then the fifth one is service. And there’s a lot that I have to say about this core skillset. The service core skillset is the humanitarian, the helper, the social worker, but the big challenge that I have with the service core skillset is a lot of people have different childhood wounds or upbringing challenges that kind of result in them thinking that they have a core skillset, when really all it is is a coping mechanism that they developed throughout their life.

And so, anybody who’s a service person, I always kind of pause and say, “Are you really a helper or is that just something you’ve learned? Are you just a people pleaser? Is this a coping mechanism?” So, it’s important with that particular one to ask yourself, and even any of them, to say, “Does this skillset come from a wounded place or an inspired place in my career?”

And the sixth one is coordination. God knows the world needs these people. These are the detail-oriented operations people, project managers, event coordinators. They make the world go around, make sure that we’re not dropping the ball. And then the seventh one is analysis. These are the people who have a gift for research, academia, the economists, even intelligence analysts, anything that involves you going deep and having that natural affinity to do that.

And then number eight is numbers. So, holler out to my number crunchers. This is kind of what it sounds, the bookkeeper, the accountant, the investment banker, the financial modeler. And then number nine is technology. This is the IT genius, the artificial intelligence visionary. And then the tenth one is beauty, and I love this one. These are the people who make art of the world around them whether they’re an interior designer, a jewelry designer. They have an eye for aesthetics and they have a capability of creating that.

So, like I said, all of these are expressed differently if you’re introverted or extroverted, and they also are just their own energy fields, and it really helps to kind of look at these when you ask, “When have you seen me at my best?” so that you can kind of take a look and say, “Oh, wow, everybody who’s seen me at my best is noticing that I’m in service when I’m at my best.” And kind of asking yourself, “Is that a default setting for you? Is that a natural place for you? Is that where you have a gift?” and not taking your gifts for granted because, far too often, we think where we’re great is just easy for everybody else.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s intriguing. As I run through this, I think I see three contenders for me. It could be innovation, it could be words, it could be analysis but I’m pretty sure it’s not any of the others.

Ashley Stahl
Yes. Well, you’re hitting on a really good point. Everybody tends to identify with three. Like, three is the magic number.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, all right. How about that?

Ashley Stahl
Yeah, anytime I’ve done this, the client, or somebody, the courses, or whatever have you, I hear somebody saying, “Oh, I think a few of these feel like me.” So, here’s a thing to know, your primary core skillset is what matters the most. That’s what you’re building your career off of. And this becomes really relevant when people say, “Should I stay? Should I go? Am I in the right job?” What I always say to that is, “Are you honing the core skillset that you want to carry with you throughout your career? Or, have you exhausted opportunity to grow?”

That’s the top consideration because you’re really carrying a skillset with you for your life. And you might express it in different ways and you use it in different ways, but when you really get that, you’re able to make career pivots or changes, and make sense of them when you go back to your skillset and really sync in to the next move you’re making, whether you’re talking to job interviews or hiring managers, being able to talk about how your core skillset relates to the next job you want, for example.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Well, I really love that that’s a very clear acid test in terms of, “Am I continuing to grow this or am I not?” And I think it’s kind of like the Golden Goose in terms of the long arch of a career, that’s what you go to have going. Otherwise, if your skills are atrophying then you may very well be less valuable three, five years from now than when you started, which is not the direction you want to go in. Ideally, you’ll be increasingly super valuable, indispensable with the associated compensation and fun responsibilities growing all the way until your retirement part.

Ashley Stahl
You know what’s so amazing about what you’re sharing is I recently read some data that was saying every five years, one of your skills becomes completely obsolete in the workforce. And I’m aware that by 2025, about 16% of job titles don’t even exist yet. So, that’s been really relevant especially for Generation Z who’s transitioning into the workforce now to know that there’s a lot of jobs that are about to become available that we haven’t even heard of, and it’s so important to stay aware of that. And, yet, our core skillset has many different ways of expressing itself when you know what that is.

And kind of going back to you saying you have three core skillsets, it’s about deciding which one are you uniquely brilliant in, how do you want to lead with it. And I will say that they all kind of do come up with this cocktail where it’s like let’s say motion and innovation are your core skillset, you can kind of think, “Okay, innovation and motion, maybe we’re going to get a fitness influencer, somebody who creates a business and kind of honors motion throughout the business with their fitness side of thing.”

So, it is kind of fun to play with that and do the combinations with yourself, but it’s still important to know. And that’s one of the number one reasons people are exhausted in their work is because they’re not working within their core skillset or most of their days in a different skillset.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, so I’m curious, if you’re frequently working with clients, folks identify three, how do you push forward to zero in on the one?

Ashley Stahl
I think intuition is a really big deal and just your body, like, really tuning into your body. So, for example. I gave a TED Talk recently. I was talking about how there’s 200 million, if not more, neurons in your gut, which is why it’s called the second brain right now. And when you think about that, that’s the size of a cat or dog’s brain. And so, there’s an intelligence to you having a sinking feeling in your stomach. There’s an intelligence to having butterflies in your stomach.

So, one thing that I really ask people is about what experiences they’ve had at work even if they hate their job that they didn’t mind or that they kind of likes, and I pay attention to their body language and how their energy frees up or their voice to see where they’re getting energy. Because one of the slippery slopes I think people take in their career is they work in a zone of goodness and not in their zone of genius. And when they do that, maybe they’re working in their secondary or third core skillset, they’re really missing that juice of who they really can be in their work.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, yeah, that’s handy as I think about it. For me, innovation is leaping forward because I just think about the podcast, you know. The analysis and research is a means to an end of we’re evaluating you, Ashley, and seeing, “Okay, does she have good stuff?” and so we’re using deep research in terms of like the verdicts, “Do we invite Ashley and do we pass?” And then the words, in terms of, “How do we…? What’s the title? What’s the teaser?” I mean, that just sort of we need to do that to make it kind of compelling. But what I’m loving most is the discovery, like, “Holy crap, what you say is true and I didn’t know it before. I love this,” and it lights me up, and the research and the words are kind of a means to that end.

Ashley Stahl
Yeah. Well, you know what’s so amazing about the truth is I don’t necessarily think the truth is something that people learn. I think it’s something you kind of recognize. Like, how many times has somebody said something, and all of you is like, “Yes.” It’s almost like they put words to what you knew and you couldn’t express.

And I think that’s what so powerful for me about being an author is that it’s kind of like that person that has an autoimmune condition and they’re shopping for doctors trying to get an answer, and they have this illness, and they just want to know what it is, and even if they finally get the news and it’s horrible news, there’s still such a relief to knowing what it is and knowing what you’re working with. And I think that’s the gift that we, as authors or podcast hosts, get to give the world, if words are our core skillset, as we get to put words to things that people haven’t been able to vocalize, and there’s such a healing and a harmony that we can create for people with that.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s true. Yeah. You know, I remember, what’s coming to mind is there’s I think it’s an audiobook publisher, Sounds True, and it’s like, “That’s just the best brand.” If I will start an audiobook publishing house, that’s the name I would’ve wanted but they already took it, because it sounds true. And that’s often how it feels when you’re engaged in a conversation. It’s like something lights up inside you, it’s like, “I don’t have the hard data but that sounds very right and true and, yes, internally.”

Ashley Stahl
Yeah. And, you know, what you’re sharing, also it’s really important for anybody listening to realize, like some of us are kind of cut off from our bodies. We don’t feel our feelings. We don’t feel what feels good. And so, anybody who’s kind of going through that as they’re listening to you and I talk about the truth, it’s like your only assignment, if you can’t feel where you’re expanding or contracting inside and where you’re feeling pulled to in those breadcrumb moments where you’re getting little nudges is just to start paying attention to what feels good. Start paying attention to where your energy is good. Start asking people where they’ve noticed your energy get really good. I think that’s just a starting point is leaning on the people around you that you can count on to educate you on when they’re noticing you really shine because it’s tough.

And, yet, one of the biggest barriers to figuring out what you want to do is listening to everybody and not even listening to yourself anymore. So, I think walking that line is a big deal.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, hey, that’s awesome. We talk about core skillsets. We’ve also got core nature, core values, core motivations. Can you give us just maybe your favorite tactic to get a good kernel of insight into each of these?

Ashley Stahl
Yeah, I would say your core nature is really about the energy you bring to the room. And I actually talk about this in the first chapter of my book before I get to core skillset because I think it’s the foundation. So, one question to ask people who know you is, “How does the room change when I walk in? How would you describe my presence in the room?” When you’re able to ask that question and start to kind of collect the adjectives that you get from people around you, you’ll start to see a trend.

For anybody who knows me really well, they’re going to say the room gets lighter because I have a sense of humor and I’m a joker, and so people start to kind of laugh when I walk in because I’m kind of a goofball, stuff like that. And when you start to notice that, you can ask yourself, “Okay, here’s the top three, or four, or five adjectives I’m seeing people describe me as. This is my essence. This is my nature. This is me when I’m me.” And when you look at that, it’s like, “Who do you know in your life that has a similar nature or energy to you?” And from there, you can kind of look at different career paths that people in your life have or that you’re aware of, and you can start to say, “Okay, these are my different career options. Now, let me get clear on what my core skillset so I don’t go into a career that demands my energy but isn’t using my core skill.” So, I think your skillset is really a filter for your options.

And, from there, I would say your core values are a really big deal, and that’s something I wrote about in another chapter because there’s two dynamics in people’s career at any given moment. The first dynamic is the what of what they’re doing. That comes down to their core skillset, their job title, how they’re bringing their energy into work and what their responsibilities look like. The other side is the how of how your job looks. Given that 50% of people leave their job because they don’t like their boss, the research is in, how your job looks matters just as much as what your job is, and that comes back to your core values.

So, I think everybody has maybe five core values. And I try to tell people don’t go for much more than that, don’t choose many more than that because it’s hard to juggle that in your career. But I hold core values as foundational, fundamental, non-negotiable principles by which you live your life. And when you can start to tune into what your core values are, you can see those as a filter for what companies or people that you want to work with.

You know, I had a client who was a lawyer, and a lot of her core skillset and core nature pointed to being a lawyer, and there are many options that I pointed to but lawyer made sense. And when we got down to it, we realized that it was really a core values issue because balance was one of her core values, and she was a mergers and acquisitions lawyer, which means that when there’s a deal that’s live, you don’t go to bed, and she doesn’t see her kid or her family. And so, we ended up making the decision for her to change over to family law, and that completely changed her life. There’s a process for her to do that. Now, she’s very 9:00 to 5:00. She loves being a lawyer again and she has that balance.

And so, I think for anybody who feels like something is missing in their career, often what’s missing is a core value or you’re not working within your core skillset. Those are two things to consider. And when people are radically unhappy in their career, viscerally unhappy, usually what’s happening is a core value is not just missing but it’s being violated or trespassed upon. So, getting clear on those core values and your core nature, your core skillsets, those are three steps in my 11-step roadmap to making a you turn.

And I could go on about this stuff forever but, hopefully, everybody listening can kind of take that time to look at their core values. And those are words like family, balance, authenticity, love, connection, self-expression. These are all core values as possibilities.

Pete Mockaitis
And so, core values have come up a few times on the show. And what’s your pro tip in terms of if folks kind of have an idea, like, “Ah, this is probably one and that’s probably another. But then, beyond that, who knows?” How do you recommend you go get those clear?

Ashley Stahl
We get this advice in dating. Pick somebody that has…and I love comparing job hunting to dating because there’s so many parallels it’s crazy. But we get the advice of pick somebody who shares the same values as you. But here’s the truth of the matter. Everybody’s value can look different.

I had a client who told me that her core value was adventure. And I had another client, he told me it was adventure. When I asked the woman, who lived in New York City, I said, “What does adventure look like for you?” she said, “It means trying new restaurants in New York.” Okay, great. That’s adventure for her. When I asked the other guy, “What does adventure mean for you?” he said, “Skydiving.” So, we’ve got completely different ways of expressing the core values. So, I think that’s really important, not just to write down a word that means something for you but asking yourself, “How am I showing up in this word? What does it look like for me?”

And I think one of the most slippery slopes of core values is people are too aspirational when they’re choosing their core values. So, you’re saying that this comes up a lot on the show, but I think one thing that I don’t hear often is the phenomenon that people think that something is a core value when, really, it’s just something they want more of in their life, and that’s really valuable to know what you want more of but it’s not a core value. A core value is what is the non-negotiable ingredient to who you are, and you know you have a core value when if you remove that word, you’re not you.

Pete Mockaitis
So, yes, core value, non-negotiable. So, we reflect on it. And what else in terms of arriving at it? It’s not just something you want more of, but it’s something that is a non-negotiable must-have.

Ashley Stahl
Yes. So, the thing about core values is that, far too often, people are picking words that they want to be more of and not words that they are. You know something is a core value where if you take away that word, you’re not you anymore. So, humor is a core value for me. If you remove humor, I’m not here anymore. I’m not me. That’s when you know you’ve hit a core value.

I had a client who wrote peace as one of her core values, and I’m like, “Hmm, you’re not the most peaceful. I don’t know if this is a core value for you.” And she ended up totally agreeing with me. So, I think it’s important to be really honest with yourself when you’re choosing your words. Look at what they actually mean for you. Get curious for the opportunities in your life, how those core values are manifesting for the other person or for a company, let’s say, if you’re not. Maybe in your love life, you look at what it means for your partner. Maybe in your career, you look at what that looks like for the company you’re at and how your job is going to play a role in that.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So, I guess to distinguish, core value is a fundamental non-negotiable thing that you got to have in life or a thing. And your core nature is just sort of like your essence, your you-ness, your “What do I feel when you enter the room?”

Ashley Stahl
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
Any further distinction?

Ashley Stahl
No, I think you’ve got it. Your core nature is your vibes, how the vibe is you bring to the room. Your core values are your principles, and your core skillset is your gift. And if you can really take a look at those three things, you are so much further ahead than so many people in your career. And I think a lot of people are in careers right now that maybe aren’t working for them. And if that’s the case, there’s this really cool field called job crafting, and it’s all about taking a bland job and turning it into a grand job. I love saying that because it’s so ridiculous.

[33:28]

But, really, that’s what it is. It’s taking a look at your core skillset, and saying, “How do I ask my manager…?” or if you’re a business owner, “How do I carry this into my business and initiate a project that allows me to kind of morph what I’m doing in that direction?” So, let’s say you’re working in tech but you want to be a writer. How can you ask your boss for the permission to take initiative on a project that allows you to be a little bit more of a writer but still provide extraordinary value to your company? So, I think job crafting is a really big deal if you’re not currently working in your core skillset. And I do think that people who aren’t working in their core skillset, or honoring their core values, is an explanation for why so many people are unhappy at work.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, you got one more. Core motivations. What’s the story here?

Ashley Stahl
Yeah, there is so much to core motivator. And one of the things that I’ve learned as I was writing the book is that everybody, obviously, is motivated by something else. So, one way to kind of tune in to your core motivator is in your job interviews, really asking yourself, “How does this manifest for me?” So, I’ll go through, there’s ten just like the core skillset, if it’s helpful for me to go through all ten.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure.

Ashley Stahl
Okay, cool. So, number one is meaning. This is about people doing work that really aligns with a spiritual purpose. So, this could look like aligning your core skillset and your core values with a very deep sense of personal mission. Number two is about optimal health. So, this is about work that supports your health or your physical wellness. This is why you see certain people who are probably the motion core skillset. They’re motivated by doing something every day that comes with their health. The third core motivator is time. So, this is work that allows you time freedom or flexibility. This is a career that gives you a sense of control over how you’re spending your time, and it’s a huge motivator for people whether you’re in a job interview. You want to take these motivators and ask questions that allow you to get insight on whether that need will be met.

Number four is impact. This is work you know is changing the world or making a difference. I think what’s really interesting about the impact people is that impact might not show up in how their day-to-day job looks. It’s a conceptual backdrop to their job. And what’s so important about that is that their responsibilities and what they’re doing might not be tied to the actual impact it’s having, but just knowing that they’re doing something that’s making the world better, they’re a little tiny cog in a much bigger important wheel, is enough for them. That’s what motivates them.

And the fifth one is visibility. So, in the influencer space, I’m sure you’ve interviewed plenty of us where it’s work that grants you prestige or recognition. This is a career that gives you validation. And, obviously, if you’re not checking yourself, it’s really a wounded motivator unless you kind of take care of yourself and just know this about yourself.

And then the sixth one is accomplishment. So, this is for the people who are very motivated by checking things off a list. They like to feel a sense of completion. This is the career person that loves deadlines, they love that dopamine hit when they get an achievement. It gives them a sense of motion and completion and gratification.

And then number seven is training. So, this is work that actually allows you to learn as you do it. I would say that you’re probably somewhat motivated by that just being a podcast host, and same with me with my podcast. I love to learn. And then number eight is ease. And, actually, I love the ease people, like they crack me up because the person who can own that as a motivator, there’s something very refreshing about how honest they are that they want work that allows them comfort, which means it helps them avoid shame, or fear, or failure, anxiety, whatever it is. It’s a career based on simplicity. Doing work that you feel competent doing without much challenge to your growth. So, this is for the person who’s very motivated by easy times and just getting by without much thought on their career.

And then number nine is spending. So, this is work that you’re motivated to spend money in your work or save it or keep it. Some people are literally just motivated by the pursuit of money, and I think there’s a lot of judgment on those people, but I think there’s something really amazing and inspiring about someone that can say, “I just want to make a lot of money, and that’s what I’m motivated to do.”

In personal development, I think there’s a lot of challenges to that statement that there’s something below the desire for money and what is that really about. But I actually have found in my work as a career expert the past decade, and that’s really what I’ve put into the book that I wrote was just all of the interviews and surveys I’ve done. Some people naturally just enjoy what money brings to their life to a level where they’re not needing much else. This is what motivates them.

And then number ten is self-expression. So, this is work that grants you the freedom to channel your emotions and ideas, and bring them to light. So, this is a career that really leads with creating through your feelings and through your ideas. This is definitely something that motivates me.

Pete Mockaitis
And so, can you contrast, for me, meaning versus impact?

Ashley Stahl
Yes. So, meaning, when you really look at that one, what’s different about it from impact is that it’s something that is more aligned with a spiritual purpose. It’s your own sense of mission. It’s more self-focused. So, somebody who’s seeking meaning, it’s about them. Somebody who’s seeking impact, it’s about the world.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And what’s interesting about ease is I was thinking about David Allen, Getting Things Done. He’s been on the show a couple of times and he said, “If you ever had a crank widget job in which you got a bunch that needed cranking, a widget crank, a widget cranker, that’s a job, is you just do that and then you’re done.” It’s like, “At the end of the workday, you’re not at all thinking about the widgets and the cranking. It’s just like not there.”

And so, ease, in some ways it doesn’t mean like you’re lazy or you’re a bum. It just means like I’m thinking about farmers and some of them have very long, very demanding workdays, but in a way there’s some ease in terms of, “I don’t need to think or worry about what I need to do, which is very clear. Those cows need to be milked, that field needs to be plowed, and so I’m just going to do that and roll with it. I don’t have to agonize over the political stakeholders and how I’m going to appease all of them and their complex interrelationship struggles and conflicts. I’m just going to do the thing that really needs to be done now,” and so that’s a variety of ease.

Ashley Stahl
Exactly. And I’m really inspired by these people because I find that we live in a world where it’s really easy to be complicated. It’s actually so much harder to be simple, and these people have it down. And a lot of the work that they do in this category is very meditative, it flows, it’s easy. They’re not the people who are wanting to necessarily grow in their work. Maybe they’re growing in some other area of their life, and they’re just not motivated by that in their job.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, Ashley, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Ashley Stahl
Yeah, I would say the final thing that we didn’t cover because there’s just so much, I mean, having written a 300-page book on it, is people’s interest. I think a lot of people get lost on how to figure out where to put their interest in their career. And if there’s any advice I could give to anybody listening, your interest is really your backdrop.

So, for example, I love cupcakes, and that doesn’t mean that I am going to be a baker of cupcakes. There’s a difference between loving to consume something and being meant to produce something. And so, if you have an interest and you want to bring it into your career, first think about your core skillset, how you’re spending your time and doing your day, then think about your interest more as the backdrop that you’re doing it in. So, if you love travel, maybe you’re going to work at a five-star hotel, but what’s more important is how you use your skillset.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that adds up in terms of, “I think I’m passionate about coffee.” It’s like, “Well, I mean, drinking coffee is very different from…”

Ashley Stahl
That doesn’t mean you need to be a coffee-maker.

Pete Mockaitis
“…making coffee, selling coffee, consulting coffees shops.”

Ashley Stahl
Exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
You might hate those things, and then just enjoy drinking coffee when you’re there, and that’s all.

Ashley Stahl
Exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Ashley Stahl
A favorite quote. I love Rumi’s quote, “Act or live as if the universe is rigged in your favor.” I have found that that quote has given me so much peace at times where whatever is happening for me in my career or my life, I can’t make sense of it, I always trust that there’s something working in my favor, and it just hasn’t been revealed to me yet.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And how about a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Ashley Stahl
I found a bit of research from Stanford, and I’ve struggled to find it ever since. I think I read it in a scholarly journal or something like that. But, recently, I read that 84% of your best ideas don’t come at work. That was by Stanford, and I love that because it’s such a reminder of how important it is for us, I mean, all of us are innately creative beings to create white space outside of our work and stop getting into that addictive pattern of booking ourselves back-to-back-to-back not allowing for that genius to come through in our day-to-day lives.

Pete Mockaitis
You know, I like that. When I slack off at work and I feel guilty, I just tell myself, “This is part of my creative process.”

Ashley Stahl
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
And there’s the hard data to back it up. So, thank you. More of that. And how about a favorite book?

Ashley Stahl
I mean, obviously, I have to say my own book You Turn, but if that is not self-serving enough, I could say my favorite book and the person that motivated me to be a writer in the first place and really influenced the way that I write is The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Ashley Stahl
I absolutely love Insight Timer app. There are some meditations. There’s a woman on there, named Sarah Blondin, and she has free meditations, and I always put my noise-cancelling earphones on, and I completely turn off the world for 10 minutes, and her meditations get me so grounded in my work. I always do it before a really, really big meeting.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite habit?

Ashley Stahl
My favorite habit is probably fitness, and that’s something that’s brand new. I hate that I’m saying it because it feels really trite but it was really hard for me to get into fitness. I hired a personal trainer. It’s kind of forced me to exercise a few times a week, and I’m really proud of that because it’s given me such a level of new focus and energy in my day, and I’m so glad I’m doing that.

Pete Mockaitis
And is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks; they quote it back to you frequently?

Ashley Stahl
Yeah, one thing I’ve said often is clarity comes from engagement, and it’s never going to come from thought. You really can’t think your way into clarity. So many people are sitting there, marinating, and engagement can look like so many things. It can look like as simple as reading my book or anybody’s book or listening to this podcast. It can also look like taking another job and trying it on.

Far too often, people hold their careers too heavily and they slow themselves down for making decisions. And what I think with this is I walked into the Pixar offices a while back, and I saw a big sign on the wall that said, “Fail faster.” And what I loved about that was that, to me, is the sign of a good career. If somebody who’s willing to be experimental to lighten their energy towards their career and engage in some way even if it means taking something that feels pretty big.

Pete Mockaitis
And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Ashley Stahl
I would say, right now, we have a bundle of courses and you can order my book at YouTurnBook.com or else you could hit me up on Instagram @ashleystahl.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Ashley Stahl
Yeah, I’d shamelessly have to say I hope that they read the book. I mean, it’s everything I’ve collected over a decade of work with thousands of job seekers in my courses. And it has been such a labor of love and soul. And if they don’t read the book, I would say at least re-listen to this podcast episode and take some notes on your core skillsets so that you can carry that with you into your career.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, Ashely, this has been fun. I wish you lots of luck and many unstuck moments.

Ashley Stahl
Thank you so much.

632: How to Reclaim 40 Hours Every Month (WITHOUT Multitasking!) with Dave Crenshaw

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Dave Crenshaw says: "The holy grail of productivity is increasing how much you're worth per hour."

Dave Crenshaw shares hard-hitting research on the perils of multitasking—and how to improve your focus.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The right and the wrong way to “multitask” 
  2. Why we love to switch tasks—and how we can break that habit 
  3. How a 2% increase in productivity makes all the difference 

About Dave

Dave Crenshaw develops productive leaders in Fortune 500 companies, universities, and organizations of every size. He has appeared in Time magazine, USA Today, FastCompany, and the BBC News. His courses on LinkedIn Learning have been viewed tens of millions of times. His five books have been published in eight languages, the most popular of which is The Myth of Multitasking—a time management bestseller. As an author, speaker, and online instructor, Dave has transformed the lives and careers of hundreds of thousands around the world.

 

Resources mentioned in the show:

David Crenshaw Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Dave, thanks so much for joining us again on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Dave Crenshaw
Hey, I’m thrilled to be back, Pete.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, last time we talked about having fun and how that’s super important. And I tell you what, your words come back to me frequently when I’m like having fun in the middle of a work day on a break, I was like, “Is this appropriate?” It’s like, “Dave said it’s going to make me better,” so thank you.

Dave Crenshaw
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
So, tell me, how are you having fun these days?

Dave Crenshaw
Well, I take July and December off now every year.

Pete Mockaitis
There you go. Well done.

Dave Crenshaw
So, I just came off of a nice long December break, spent some time hanging out with the kids, I may or may not have played a little too much XBOX so I’m feeling good. I’m feeling rested and ready to go.

Pete Mockaitis
Did you get the new XBOX?

Dave Crenshaw
I did.

Pete Mockaitis
I did, too.

Dave Crenshaw
I made that a priority.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, kudos. Those were hard to snag for a little while there. Well, let’s talk about multitasking. So, you’ve got your second edition here coming out The Myth of Multitasking. I want to really dig deep into this. First of all, what’s the big idea here? What is the myth of multitasking?

Dave Crenshaw
The myth of multitasking is that multitasking simply does not exist, not in the way that people think about it. The word is an inelegant and improper word to describe various things that could be happening. So, what I cover in the book is helping people understand what really is occurring in their day when they try to do multiple things at the same time, and identify whether they’re being productive when they do it, or whether they’re really screwing things up while they’re attempting it.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I love the way you teed that up because it sounds like there’s some nuance and some distinguishing to be done which is why I wanted to have this conversation with you because that’s kind of come up before a bit but I think we can drill really deep here. So, if multitasking isn’t the appropriate term, what alternatives do you think we might and should be using?

Dave Crenshaw
Sure. So, what I present in the book is that one of two things are happening. Either you are switch-tasking or you are back-tasking. Switch-tasking is when you’re switching attention. You’re switching between listening to this podcast and answering an email, you’re switching between having a conversation with someone at work and thinking about the unresolved laundry that you left at your house, and every time you switch your attention from one thing to something else, you pay a cost associated with that. So, switch-tasking is always ineffective and we can go more into depth on that.

The other is back-tasking. That’s where something mindless, mundane, or automatic is occurring in the background. For instance, I’m listening to this podcast while I’m exercising, right? Hopefully, at this point, I don’t have to pay attention to how I run on the treadmill. I can focus on Pete talking. And that can be productive. The problem is, first of all, most people are using one word to describe multiple options, so they say multitasking, and we create a lot of confusion when people use that word. And when people say they’re a good multitasker, most often they’re talking about switch-tasking. And saying that you’re a good switch-tasker is like saying, “I’m excellent at screwing up multiple things at the same time.”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Ooh, strong words. So, that seems to be the core distinction. So, back-tasking means something is so automatic it can be done in the background and requires no attention and, thusly, we’re pretty much only really doing one thing as far as our attention is concerned.

Dave Crenshaw
Correct. And that also includes things like starting the printer, printing a job, delegating a task to a coworker. Basically, something else is occurring that doesn’t require any effort from you, that can be productive and that should be encouraged but that’s not what most people are doing. You see how people are behaving in the workplace and in their day, especially now that so many people are working from home. And what are they doing? They’re constantly switch-tasking and they’re telling themselves, “I’m multitasking. I’m being productive,” but what’s really happening is things are taking longer, they’re making more mistakes, and they’re increasing their stress levels.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And I like the term back-tasking, I think that’s short for background, things happening as you’re tasking. And, indeed, when you mentioned the printer, I think that’s a great example because sometimes I feel euphoric. There’s a strong word. But if I have, let’s say, I’ve got some dishes being cleaned by the dishwasher, I got clothes being cleaned by the washing machine, I’ve got a vacuum robot going, and I’m doing something else, I mean, that’s like nirvana for me in a productivity nerd kind of a way.

Dave Crenshaw
And you even have your podcast working for you. Wow!

Pete Mockaitis
That’s true, people are listening.

Dave Crenshaw
You’ve got a podcast working for you right now while we’re recording this podcast so that’s effective back-tasking.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s totally true. Thousands of listeners as I sleep. I get a kick out of it when I see people, like sometimes I’ll refresh and I see downloads happening like at late night, like on a holiday or something.

Dave Crenshaw
Oh, we got to talk about that. That’s a different issue altogether.

Pete Mockaitis
Like, I shouldn’t be refreshing my podcast stats on a holiday?

Dave Crenshaw
Correct. Yes, that’s something else. That’s switch-tasking on your holiday. See, it is back-tasking because it’s taking care of it, but the moment you jump in and start looking at it, now you’re switch-tasking.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Well, I guess fair enough. I’m just going to let that go. It’s not about me. It’s about the listeners. Okay, cool. So, the book, it’s on its second edition here. Are there new discoveries that you’ve made associated with multitasking? Lay it on us.

Dave Crenshaw
Sure. Well, okay, so the book first came out in 2008, and you think about where we were and what we were doing in 2008. Something like a Twitter was just barely starting to surface at that time. And, in fact, this shows how dated the original version was. The original version had a BlackBerry on the cover, right? And now you think about how powerful the phones are that we use.

One of my favorite comedians, Gary Gulman, says calling an iPhone a phone is like calling a Lexus convertible a cup holder. And we’ve got these devices that are constantly vying for our attention and then, on top of it in the workplace, since we’re talking about how to be awesome at your job, in a work context, there are so many different channels of communication that people are using. They’re using Slack, they’re using text message, they’re using Skype, they’re using Zoom. And so, when we have all these channels of communication, we’re creating lots and lots of different ways that we could switch-task in our day.

So, I had to make some updates and some adjustments to address, in particular, that issue; the channels of communication. A lot of other things are still the same. The tendency that we have to have a conversation with a human being while we’re tempted to look at our phone, that’s always been there. It’s just maybe a little stronger than it used to be. So, some things have changed radically and some things have stayed the same or just gotten more intense in their impact in our day.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, now let’s really zoom in on the comment associated with if someone says they’re really good at multitasking, they’re really good at screwing up multiple things at the same time. So, all right, lay it on us, many people really do think they’re good at multitasking. Are you going to tell them their own experience is wrong? Dave, how do you counter that?

Dave Crenshaw
Well, honestly, the best way that I have to counter it, and it’s not going to work well in a podcast, but I can tell people where they can get it and, of course, it’s in the book. There’s an exercise that I do. I do it in my live presentations, I do it in the book, and if you go to DaveCrenshaw.com/exercise, you can find it. And I do an exercise in the book where, first, someone performs a task. It’s just simple; just copying numbers and letters, right? And they focus on that for 30 seconds and they do it and they see how long it takes. And then we do it again, but this time we switch-task.
So, for instance, if I was just doing the alphabet, I would write A and then I would write 1 and then I’d write B and then I’d write 2. And that simple exercise does far more to convince someone than me rumbling on for 30 minutes about the scientific studies, and there’s a mountain of scientific evidence that shows that it’s less effective. But when you get someone to experience firsthand how much they screw things up doing the most simple thing in the world, it opens people’s eyes. The truth is right in front of them and they can’t hide from it.

And what you’ll see is, first of all, everything takes longer and the mistakes, people start just writing weird numbers and letters, and they’re crossing things out, and they’re going up and down, and their work just goes all over the place, and then how they feel, the stress impact of that. And when you experience it that firsthand, it opens your eyes, and then you start thinking about what your work day is like, and why at the end of the day you feel so stressed out, and why you feel like you didn’t really accomplish anything that whole day. And it’s simply because you were switching rapidly throughout the day between all these different activities.

Pete Mockaitis
You know, I have seen one of your videos in which you did that exercise, and it is…you’re right, seeing is believing in terms of like you feel it. So, folks might counter that by saying, “Well, you know, I never really actually have to list the letters and the numbers in order while alternating.” So, can you drop some additional sort of research studies in terms of like maybe just how can we convincingly, compellingly prove that this is a big deal? It’s not like you’re, I don’t know, 3% less effective but rather massively less effective when you multitask.

Dave Crenshaw
Yeah. Okay. So, just a few things to consider. There’s a study by RescueTime that found that the average number of minutes a worker can go until checking their email or instant messages, so that’s excluding all the other things like other people interrupting them, six minutes.

Pete Mockaitis
No kidding?

Dave Crenshaw
Every six minutes, on average, someone checks their email or instant message. Then you consider that there’s a cost associated with that. It’s not just the check, right? You got to look at it and then you’ve got to remember, “Where was I?” I could be in the middle of writing an email, and then another email comes in or a text message, so I stop. I look at the text message, I read it, I go, “Okay.” And they’re asking these questions, I say, “All right,” I type back the answer “42,” I send it back. Now, what do I need to do? Now I have to return to the email I was writing, I have to re-read everything that I was doing, I have to get my train of thought back to that frame of reference, and then I can start working again.

Another study out Michigan State found that just under a three-second interruption doubles the likelihood of making a mistake. Just three seconds. And this is an impact that everyone is experiencing constantly. That’s why I paraphrase Mark Twain, and I say, “There are lies, damned lies in multitasking,” because it’s a lie that everyone lives. We live it constantly throughout our day. And the beautiful thing though is if you can reduce it, that’s really where the evidence comes from, is when you start to cut down on the switches and you start to feel sanity return to your day. And you start to realize, “Wait a minute. I can get done everything that I was getting done in about a quarter less time.”

I had clients who go through my training and I’ll tell them, “When you go through this training, you’re going to recover about 40 hours every single month,” and they think that’s insane, that’s an unbelievable claim, and I used to hear it coming out of my mouth and say it’s an unbelievable claim. But I have had people literally tell me, Pete, they say, “I thought you were crazy. Now, it’s 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon, I don’t know what to do with myself.” And it’s simply by reducing one thing. By reducing the switches that take place in your day, you reclaim that much time.

Pete Mockaitis
That is striking. Well, maybe could you share with us maybe a particular success story, that 3:00 p.m., that drive it home in terms of it being real in terms of really painting a picture for what was this person’s life and work like before, what did they start doing differently, and then what results did they see from that?

Dave Crenshaw
Yeah. Well, in that case, and I don’t have direct permission from this individual to use his name.

Pete Mockaitis
Call him Hank.

Dave Crenshaw
Okay, yeah. Hank, a real estate professional, very well-respected, successful in his industry, but just burning the candle on both ends, working long hours, feeling stressed out constantly, and that’s why he brought me in was to help him. And this was back when I did it in person. Now, my training is on LinkedIn Learning, which you’re very familiar with. But he brought me in to help him with this, and what we did is we started to look at how many different interruptions he was getting in his day, and we were saying, “Okay, which of these are absolutely necessary?” because you can’t get rid of all switches. I never make that claim and no one should ever think that that’s what I’m saying.

But what you can do is you can implement strategies to reduce the number of switches. “Which of these interruptions can wait? Rather than leaving my phone on 24/7 and setting the expectation I’m going to answer every time you call, what if I checked my messages every hour on the hour?” When we think about that, especially like in a real estate business, that reduces the number of switches by an order of magnitude. That would cut it down by 50% or more the number of interruptions that are taking place in your hour. He said, “Rather than checking email constantly,” that’s what most people do, right? Either their phone notifies them or they’re constantly hitting send and receive sitting at their desktop computer.

And if instead, if we say, “Here is a scheduled time in my day, three times in my day when I’m going to check my email,” that kind of stuff cuts down. And so, it was little strategies like that that I implemented with him that’s just stacked on top of each other and helped him realize, “Wait a minute. I can perform much more productively if I start to emphasize my ability to focus.”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, that’s exciting. So, let’s hit the word cost for me here. You say when we do a switch, we incur a cost. Tell me, what are the types of costs and just how costly is it?

Dave Crenshaw
Sure.

Pete Mockaitis
We heard about making more mistakes and taking longer. Do we have any quantifications on any of that?

Dave Crenshaw
Yeah. Well, the quantification really depends upon the individual. Some people pay less cost than others.

Pete Mockaitis
Bargain shoppers.

Dave Crenshaw
Oh, yeah, yeah. And there’s a question that often gets brought up about the statement that women can multitask and men can’t, right? And there have been studies into this. Some will say there’s no difference at all. I’ve seen some that say less. I have consulted a lot of female executives, business owners, and what I would say from my experience is that women do incur less switching cost than men do, but there’s a problem with that statement. They’re still incurring switching costs.

And what is that cost? Yeah, what is the cost? It’s the amount of time to recover; the mental recovery time. Sometimes even the physical recovery time of locating the thing that you set down and forgot where it was. There are a handful of costs that we incur every time we switch our attention. And this is a funny thing, and this shouldn’t surprise you as someone who wrote the book called The Power of Having Fun.

Occasionally, I’ll recommend that people practice learning how to focus simply by just watching a show on Netflix but doing nothing else. And as I say that statement, I know that there’s probably half your audience that feels tension at the thought of that, right?

Pete Mockaitis
No snacks, no bathroom, no…?

Dave Crenshaw
Okay, bathroom, we’ll let that go.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, you can do that before or after the show, I think.

Dave Crenshaw
Yeah, exactly. But what about not media multitasking? What about not looking at your phone while you’re doing it? What about not looking up on IMDB, “Who’s that actor that I’ve seen before, while I’m watching it?” Our brains have become so conditioned and hardwired to jump from task to task, from thought to thought, that we are creating a situation where we are perpetuating switch-tasking in everything that we do. And so, there’s that other part of it which is the amount of time that we gain but it’s also the amount of stress that we relieve when we stop behaving like we’re a CPU that’s being overclocked.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And so then, any sense for how many minutes that is? I heard one study, I think it was from Microsoft, that when you entertain an email interruption, it can take like 24 minutes to get back to what you were doing.

Dave Crenshaw
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Is that valid or are there other stuff in that ballpark? I imagine, you said it does vary from person to person, but I would just love it if there’s anyone on the fence, we can just nail them with a number.

Dave Crenshaw
Well, yeah, I’ve seen that study from Microsoft. It’s pretty old and I see that it still gets cited. One thing to keep in mind with that study is they’re talking about software programmers. So, it’s the amount of time that a programmer took to recover, and that is extremely high for an intense task like that.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, you’re deep into it.

Dave Crenshaw
I can tell you, like the U of U, University of Utah, they have a great department by David Strayer where they do a lot of studies. They found that just issuing a voice command to a car while you’re driving, it can take 27 seconds to regain your attention. So, the answer to that, I wish I could give you a hard number but I can’t because it varies according to the individual and it varies according to the task that they’re performing, both the switch that occurred and the thing that they were doing before.

But I can tell you that BaseX research did a study a while back, and I still find this number to be pretty accurate, which is that the average knowledge worker loses 28% of their day due to interruptions and the recovery time associated with those interruptions. I would say that it’s probably closer to over 30% at this point just based on my field experience.

So, again, we go back to that question, if you reduce the switches, you can reclaim 40 hours every single month. That is an entire work week every single month. Where does that come from? It’s the reduction of switching costs.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Powerful stuff. So, then, okay, first of all, why do we do this to ourselves then? I think some people even know it’s destructive and we continue to do it. It’s almost like it feels good or we just got a curiosity that we want to scratch. What’s going on inside our brains?

Dave Crenshaw
Yeah. Well, an example of that is if you haven’t seen the documentary on The Social Dilemma, that is extremely eye-opening. And it talks about how even some of the things that we use, like the social media, are deliberately created to be compulsive and to feel that we must do them.

So, part of it is the ghost in the machine, is “What’s been created that’s doing this?” And part of it though is just human behavior. There’s a psychological concept called variable reward ratio. And it’s the same thing that drives compulsive gambling. It’s the same thing that drives people pulling the lever or pushing the button on the slot machine. And the idea is that sometimes you’re going to get a payoff and sometimes you aren’t, and that is very attractive to the human mind. We like the randomness of it and so it becomes…we want to keep pushing the button, “Am I going to get the jackpot?”

Well, what’s the equivalent in our work day? “I’m going to hit send and receive. Maybe someone is going to say yes to my proposal. Maybe I’m going to get something from a Nigerian prince that’s going to make me millions of dollars.” Whatever it is, we know that it’s not going to pay off most of the time, but the fact that it might pay off is enticing. The fact that you might see that you got a whole bunch of new subscribers to your podcast, going back to that example, right?

So, we have to start conditioning ourselves to be okay with silence, to be okay with not getting an answer. And there’s another concept that I teach elsewhere where I talk about the missing minute and restoring that minute to your day. Meaning, giving yourself just 60 seconds for nothing. I guarantee, people are going to listen to this podcast, they’re going to get done with the podcast, and they’re going to do one of two things. They’re either going to jump back to work or they’re going to click the button and go to the next thing.

Now, that’s great for you to get views but it’s not necessarily serving them as much as it could be if they just stopped, set a timer for 60 seconds, and just sat with it. Just tell the brain, “It’s okay. It’s okay that you’re doing nothing right now.” And the more that you create little pockets like that in your day, the more you start to realize, “I am in control.” And you can retake that control 60 seconds at a time.

Pete Mockaitis
That is inspiring. Well, Dave, perfect transition. I think we’ve built a real good why, so let’s really rip into the how.

Dave Crenshaw
Okay.

Pete Mockaitis
What are some of the top sort of high-impact, high-leverage practices we can engage in to help us reclaim control here? So, one of them is taking a 60-second breather to do nothing. I love it. What else?

Dave Crenshaw
Yeah. By the way, I like to think of these, I call these switch busters. I like the show MythBusters. I know it hasn’t been around. It’s not for a while.

Pete Mockaitis
Somehow it just seems up your alley. I don’t know you super well, Dave, but it just seems right when you say that.

Dave Crenshaw
Yeah. So, these are little things that you can do to reduce the number of switches in your day. No one of them alone is going to solve the problem but all of them, together, start to really build a nice big strategy for reducing switches. So, yeah, we’ve talked about that. I also mentioned about setting a schedule for when you’re going to check your email. In that case, if someone is taking six minutes, every six minutes they’re checking their email, their instant messages, even if we can cut that down to every hour on the hour, we’ve reduced the number of switches that you’re making by 60% or more. We’re making a big, big drop.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s like 70 a day, nine eliminated times eight hours. There you go.

Dave Crenshaw
There you go. Yeah, so now we just do it eight times a day. Or even better, what about three? What about the beginning, lunch, and the end of the day? What if it’s less than that? And only someone listening to this can answer that question for themselves because every industry is different. But the question you would ask yourself is, “How long can I reasonably go? What is the longest that I can go without damaging my career, without making things hard on my customers and my coworkers? What’s the longest I can go?” And whatever that is, create a schedule and start using that schedule.

And I’m going to pause for a second and teach a different principle that’s really important, which is there’s no such thing as a perfect system; there’s only the next draft. Meaning, just try something. It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, don’t try to make it perfect. Just try something, give it a go, and then make an adjustment after a week or two, and then tweak it again. Maybe you went to three times a day and that was not enough. So, maybe you go to four times a day or something like that. If it doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean that the principle is broken. It just means that your system needs a little bit of adjusting.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. And I love to get your view, right now, I’m thinking of a lawyer friend of mine. I think we talked about something like this once, and he said, “Yeah, that’s really just not an option for me to ignore the partner’s email to me, an associate, for a full day.” And so, I guess your response will be, “Well, hey, maybe it’s a half a day or a quarter of a day or an hour, but it’s something other than nonstop checking.” Any pro tips on how we can sort of help shape our environment in terms of like the people and the messaging we convey to them?

Dave Crenshaw
Yeah, so that’s another switch buster. In fact, that’s the one that I really key in on the second edition, which is having a conversation about channels. One problem that we run into in a variety of areas at work is the assumption of common sense, and we believe that everyone should have common sense, but common sense is not common. Common sense is the result of repeated life experience. The easiest example of that is it is common sense me, being an American, that cars belong on the right side of the road, right?

Pete Mockaitis
But of course.

Dave Crenshaw
But it is common sense for someone in the UK that they belong on the left. And that is simply because that’s what we’ve seen our entire life. So, then we go into the work environment, and let’s just say that we’re using something like Slack to communicate with each other. What is the shared common sense of how much time we should allow until we respond to something? What is the shared common sense of how much time we should allow for an email response? Or what about a text message?

So, you have a discussion with your team and you just list out each of the channels: text messages, email, Slack, whatever it is you’re using, phone calls. “Let’s get together, let’s have a conversation, let’s agree, how long can we wait? And what should these channels be used for? Can we say that text messages are the back channel, that they’re for emergencies only? So, we know if someone sends a text message, it needs to be done within the next several minutes. But we don’t put anything into that channel that isn’t an emergency.”

And you have a conversation about what is an emergency. A lot of the stuff that you have at work is not an emergency; it’s just an impatience-y.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. And your point on common sense there, it’s so compelling because people have wildly different expectations. And this comes up, I’ve facilitated a few training sessions in which we have a norms discussion around email, and it’s just wild. Some people are like, “Oh, you don’t need me to reply within an hour? Oh, wow!” And it’s just sort of lightbulbs go off. It’s like some of the easiest result I can deliver in a training, frankly, to just have that conversation.

Dave Crenshaw
And they do it themselves which is great.

Pete Mockaitis
And then, likewise, I remember back when I was single and had some dating activity going on, I remember, through a friend of a friend, someone said, “Well, Pete Mockaitis is a real jerk.” And I thought, “Uh-oh. Did I not communicate that I’m like seeing other people? I thought I made that clear.” And then apparently the reason I was a jerk was because I never replied to a text message for about four hours. And it’s like, sometimes I won’t reply to my mom’s text messages for like 12 hours because I have all my notifications off, and my phone is off to the side, and I’m in a good work groove, and that’s just sort of how I operate. But there is no common sense. It’s all just sort of the expectations you mutually agree upon with the people you interact with.

Dave Crenshaw
Right. And that illustrates, too, that it’s not just your team members. You can have those conversations with your customers. There’s nothing wrong with educating your customers, saying, “Hey, if you need to get me for a normal thing, send me an email. I’ll respond within a business day. If you have some catastrophic problem, here’s my phone number. Use it for that.”

So, you can have these negotiations, this training, whatever you want to think of it, that we all get on the same page as much as is possible. And, again, will that get rid of all switches? No. But will it greatly reduce the switches? Yes. And what it will do is it will help us move from the culture of now to the culture of when.

The culture of now says, “At work, when I have a question, I want an answer now. I’m going to knock on your door,” or at least we used to when we weren’t working from home, “I’m going to knock on your door, I’m going to send you a text message, I’m going to give you a phone call, and if you don’t answer any of those, I’m going to keep doing it until I get an answer.” This just perpetuates switch-tasking in our day.

If you move to the culture of when, you say, “I will respond to everything, and this is when I’m going to do it. This is when you can expect a response.” And that one thing alone dramatically saves time and reduces mistakes and helps everybody feel less stressed.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s awesome. Okay. Any other top tips, Dave? Lay them on us.

Dave Crenshaw
Well, we kind of danced around this and this is not going to surprise you at all. Making sure that you have clear time off, making sure that you have a time when you’re going to work and when you’re not going to work, and respecting that because that’s going to help you be more focused when it’s time to work. Like, I just came back after a nice long break, like I’d mentioned, and so I believe that my success is dependent upon the fact that I did that.

Also, though, related to the schedule is scheduling the time for your most valuable activities. If I talk to an average person, they’re going to have between 5 and 25 job descriptions, and more if they’re a business owner. And so, what I want to do is I want to look at all those different things, and say, “Which of these is most valuable? Which of these is worth the most per hour? Or which of these is the hardest to replace or will help you advance in your career the most?”

And then I want to look at the schedule, and say, “How much time are you spending in this most valuable activity? When is the time of your day, or the time of your week, when you are least likely to be interrupted, when you can be the most focused? Schedule time to work on that most valuable activity during that time. And that not only will reduce the switches but it increases your value per hour.”

And, to me, that is the holy grail of productivity, is increasing how much you’re worth per hour, not how much you make per year. If you increase your annual salary but you also increase the hours that you spend working, that wasn’t a raise.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, yeah, I’m right with you.

Dave Crenshaw
Yeah, you’re just making more work for yourself. But if we can increase how much you make and decrease the hours that you’re working, now that’s fantastic, and that gives you the freedom to reinvest that time into whatever else you feel is worth investing that time into.

Pete Mockaitis
Amen. I totally agree with you there, but some people may say, “Hey, that might be easy for you self-employed trainer types to say,” but I just have a good friend who got a job, it’s a sales role, and it’s pretty awesome. They said right up front, “Hey, we don’t care so much like how many hours you work or which hours you work, so long as you’re hitting these particular goals of new prospect meetings occurring per month.” So, it’s like game on. Like, if he can crack the code on more compelling communications or whatnot, he can work less or, if he wants to, hey, work more to get more commission.

But it is magical because there are some thresholds, like at some point when your hourly compensation rises to one point, it’s like, “You know what, now might make sense to have me hire someone to help clean the house. It might make sense for me to hire a handy person to fix up some things.” And then it just can really snowball because you break these thresholds where outsourcing more and more makes great sense and you’re able to deploy that time to either even more wealth creation or alternative results and fun that you want to make happen in life.

Dave Crenshaw
Yes. And it doesn’t have to be limited to someone in sales or someone who runs their own business or whatever it is because everything that you just said there is one less thing that you have to think about, one less thing that you have to devote time and attention to, which means less switches. And less switches means you get things done faster with less mistakes, with less stress.

And sometimes people hear that too, and they go, “Well, okay, that’s great but I can’t hire someone to do this and that.” Okay, fine, but you do hire people. You don’t make your own hamburger, do you? Not most of the time, maybe on the weekend. You go to wherever it is. You go to Wendy’s and you hired someone to make that for you. You relieve yourself of the burden of having to think about how to put that thing together. When you hire Uber, you’re relieving yourself of the burden of having to spend time driving, which, by the way, is one of the least productive things you can possibly do.

And you can look at it and say, “How can I use technology to reduce the amount of time I’m spending doing each of these things? How can I outsource one task at a time? Could I use Fiverr? Could I use Upwork, to have one person take care of part of this so that I can focus on the thing that I do that is truly amazing and truly valuable?” The more you start to be aware of those things, the more you start to do them, the more productive you become. And, again, I’m kind of throwing some stuff out here, and maybe some thing is going to hold on.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I just appreciate that you do it.

Dave Crenshaw
Yeah, but I go back to that principle of the 2% increase in productivity. A 2% increase in productivity is an entire work week every single year. So, if you look at the computer you’re using, the keyboard that you have, the chair that you’re sitting in, all of those things can create switches. If I have a chair that is uncomfortable, isn’t that going to cause me to switch my attention a few times a day to go, “Man, I don’t feel good. I’m not performing well”? I just lost a whole lot of time and a whole lot of value, so it’s worth making the investment to get the best quality tools that you can get.

I’m sitting here, I’ve got a mouse in my hand that’s a gaming mouse with lots of different buttons that are assigned to macros. I just upgraded my computer to the best quality, and I like gaming quality stuff because gaming quality is built to demanding specifications. They usually perform better, so I just upgraded my computer for the year. I guarantee, that upgrade is going to yield me at least two weeks this year. It’s probably about a 4% increase in productivity. And that sounds crazy but once you start doing the math, you realize, “Wait a minute. Little things really start to add up.”

Pete Mockaitis
Dave, just because I don’t know how many of us can dork out on at this level, I’m going to join you here because I’ve talked to myself about that as well in terms of like, “Hey, my computer is pretty good. It’s 2017. I don’t feel like I’m often annoyedly waiting for stuff.” By the way, my trick was I got a super fancy SSD, a solid-state drive, and plugged it in via a Thunderbolt, or USB-C, and that’s my bootup drive which I found gave me a lot of acceleration for not a lot of dollars.

But run me through the math. So, well, one, I just love to justify buying new stuff. But so, if my computer is fine, and then I went to top of the line, how do you see that turning into extra minutes for me each day, week, and year?

Dave Crenshaw
So, let’s just start with that simple math: 2% increase. So, if you’re 52 weeks a year, 2% is one week, right? So, if I increase anything that I’m doing by 2% overall, that almost immediately adds up to one week.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Dave Crenshaw
And then we ask the question, “Well, what is my time worth? What is a week’s worth of time in terms of my career?” And everybody is going to have a different number for that. And then, not to get too crazy with the math, but I also like to use the rule of three, which says, “If I‘m going to invest a dollar in my career, in my business, I want to get three back in return.” So, I look at that week. Let’s say that one week of time is worth a $1,000, okay? I’m going to be really conservative. It’s worth a $1,000. That means I can invest $300 to increase my productivity by 2%. Makes sense?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Dave Crenshaw
Or $333. Because if I can invest $333, I’m going to get one week back, and then I’m also going to make money on top of it because of that value. And that’s being ultra conservative because, in many cases, these time gains stack from year to year. I recently did a video about this where I was teaching that concept and some of the things that I’ve done, and I’ve realized, looking back over the 20 years of my career, give or take, I’ve probably gained three to four years’ worth of time.

And that sounds crazy, but then you look back, and I go, “Wait. Did I really gain that much time? Let’s see. I’ve written five books in that time. Well, I’ve actually written six because I wrote a YA novel for fun. I’ve created 35 courses for LinkedIn Learning.” I can just start stacking out the list. “And, plus, I’m working less hours than I’ve worked in my life.” It is a real principle, and I’m making more than I’ve ever made.

So, little things, it started 20 years ago with me doing the same principle, looking at my workspace, looking what I was saying, and saying, “How can I gain some time?” And every little change has added up and made that happen.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s beautiful. And so, well, here’s where I guess the rubber meets the road. So, if we want a 2% lift in productivity, and we’re thinking about upgrading your computer, then that means, in a 480-minute, eight-hour work day, we’re going to need a fifth of that. We’ll just call it 10 minutes. You think you’re gaining 10 minutes a day from your upgraded computer?

Dave Crenshaw
I think that’s an easy question to answer. In the case of your Thunderbolt drive, didn’t you gain 10 minutes?

Pete Mockaitis
I did but I want to see if I can justify and upgrade the whole computer.

Dave Crenshaw
So, in my case, so I looked at my computer and I actually have mine…the one that I had before was a tank. It was probably coming up on four and a half years. And just for tax purposes, I came on the year, I go, “Well, I need to make an investment,” so that was an easy one to make. And I probably, just looking at benchmark scores, I probably increased the speed of my computer by 30%. Now, am I going to use that full 30% every time? No, but I’m definitely going to get 4% to 5% out of it constantly all the time.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I guess that’s what I’m wondering. Like, to zoom in even more, it’s like I don’t often find that I’m just sitting waiting for my computer to handle something.

Dave Crenshaw
Yeah, but that’s not the problem, or that’s not the issue. The issue is, “Could you wait less? Could things happen faster than you think?” And they can. They always can. Not just for the computer but other things.

Pete Mockaitis
Are we talking about waiting for one and a half second to half a second on a page load to open? Is that kind what the building blocks here?

Dave Crenshaw
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Dave Crenshaw
Now, I sense, what I know of you, Pete, you’re an analytical guy. You want to know the numbers, and I confess that I am entrepreneurial. I do entrepreneurial math.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure.

Dave Crenshaw
So, I generalize broadly but I have found that my generalizations actually turn out to be quite accurate over time. So, yeah, I’m not like sitting down and crunching the numbers on this, but I can go, “Reasonably speaking, am I getting that kind of return? Yes. And am I going to be extra conservative with that assumption? Yes.” And it usually turns out to be correct.

Pete Mockaitis
And so, you’ve noticed, like, “Hey, when I open up a program, I wait less now with my newer computer.”

Dave Crenshaw
Oh, yeah, everything. Chrome opens faster. There are things that we’ve done. Like, for instance, with video editing, because I know you do stuff with that.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s huge. Amen. Yeah, if you’re video editing, you’re going to need that.

Dave Crenshaw
Yeah, I open it up, I’m spending a lot less time with that.

Pete Mockaitis
Totally. Okay, that answers that. Video editing is demanding and makes you wait.

Dave Crenshaw
But here’s another thing that you could do. So, I use a thing called Phrase Express, and there are things like this, that are phrase macros. And so, I found that I was typing the myth of multitasking over and over again. Kind of ironic, right? So, I changed it into a macro where I just type a couple of keys and it spells out the myth of multitasking. You start creating a framework of that where you’ve got 50 to 100 phrases, you just boosted your productivity by 2% to 4% quickly. And that doesn’t cost hardly anything or maybe nothing at all to implement that.

Pete Mockaitis
Dave, good, good stuff. Tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about a couple of your favorite things?

Dave Crenshaw
Yes, the one thing I would say, and we haven’t really hit on this much, is the fourth effect. I’ve talked about the three effects of multitasking, or switch-tasking: things take longer, you make more mistakes, you increase your stress levels. But there’s a fourth effect, and this applies even for people who think that they’re good multitaskers, they think they can get away with it and still be productive. That’s fine. But when you switch-task on a human being, even back-task sometimes, you damage that relationship, and that’s unavoidable.

Because when you switch-task on a human being, you are communicating to them that they are less important than whatever it is you’re doing in the moment. And none of us would wake up and start our day and go down to see our spouse, and say, “Hi, honey. You’re unimportant. What are you going to do today?” Or, someone calls your business, you say, “Thanks for calling XYZ Business where you’re unimportant. How can I help you?”

We would never do that but that’s exactly what we do when we pick up our phone and we’re playing with it when our spouse is talking to us. Or, when we’re in a Zoom call and we’re kind of checking email out of the corner of our eye, we’re damaging relationships. Now, that’s negative.

The positive is when you stop doing that and you focus on human beings, you build relationships because it’s unfortunately uncommon to treat people that way now. So, you stand out when you’re someone who gives someone your full attention, and you build the relationship, you make them feel important. And there’s just hundreds of reasons why that’s a fantastic thing to do.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Thank you. Well, now could you share a favorite quote, something that you find inspiring?

Dave Crenshaw
I’ve got it hanging on my wall right here next to me. It’s, “Every time you devote time to practice, you haven’t lost. You’re always a winner.” Any guess where that came from?

Pete Mockaitis
I’m guessing it’s a sports person but I don’t know.

Dave Crenshaw
Well, it’s Bob Ross.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, lovely.

Dave Crenshaw
So, that reminds me that I’m always learning, I’m always making mistakes, and sometimes I can get hard on myself, but I remember that every mistake is a practice. And if I’m practicing, I’m always getting better and always winning. Good old Bob Ross.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite book?

Dave Crenshaw
I’m listening to Is This Anything? with Jerry Seinfeld. I am inspired by comedians because so much of what they do is very similar to what I do as a speaker. They have to hone their craft, and so I like getting inspiration from uncommon places. So, Jerry Seinfeld is giving that to me right now.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Dave Crenshaw
I always say that calendar is my favorite tool, but in terms of an app, I’m a fan of Evernote. I like the simplicity of it in keeping notes and staying on top of everything.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And, tell me, if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Dave Crenshaw
Well, if they’re interested in getting The Myth of Multitasking, you go to MultitaskBook.com. That’ll take you right to the Amazon page. And then, of course, my website DaveCrenshaw.com, all sorts of free resources there for you.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Dave Crenshaw
Pay attention. Pay attention today. Think of someone that you’re going to talk to whether it’s at work or at home. Practicing at home will help you get better at work. The next person you talk to, give them 100% of your attention.

Pete Mockaitis
Dave, this has been a treat. Thank you and I wish you lots of luck in all your single-tasking adventures.

Dave Crenshaw
Thank you. It’s been a pleasure, Pete.

631: Accelerating Growth through Coaching with Andrea Wanerstrand

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Andrea Wanerstrand says: "It's not in the doing; it's in the being that differentiates you."

Andrea Wanerstrand shares how widespread coaching has helped transform Microsoft.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Why curiosity is the secret sauce to growth
  2. Three coaching approaches that accelerate growth
  3. How to get into the coach mindset

About Andrea

Andrea Wanerstrand works with leaders across the globe in transforming their teams to keep pace and get ahead in today’s digital market through developing leadership and management capabilities. She is an International Coaching Federation (ICF) certified executive coach, serves as a global board director with the ICF, and leads the global coaching programs at Microsoft. 

With a business strategy focus, Andrea has 15+ years of international experience in organizations from 50 to 100,000+ employees with a multi-industry background including Technology Solutions & Services, Business Management Consulting, and Telecommunications. Expertise in leading the development and management of large-scale global talent lifecycle & development programs specializing in sales, marketing, technical operations, and customer service organizations. 

Resources mentioned in the show:

Andrea Wanerstrand Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Andrea, welcome to the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Andrea Wanerstrand
Hi, Pete. How are you today?

Pete Mockaitis
I’m well. I’m well. I’m excited to dig into your story and your wisdom. But, first, I want to hear, there’s an interesting backstory to your name of which we practiced the pronunciation several times beforehand. What’s the story?

Andrea Wanerstrand
Well, Wanerstrand is my husband’s name. I took on his clan name, if you will, and he is the only American citizen in his family. It is a Swedish name. It’s actually Lake Warner which is the largest lake, and strand is shore in Swedish. And, yes, I was dating him for about a year before I could even spell it properly or pronounce it.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure thing. Well, I don’t think that’ll be hard but I will, I’ll call you nice things and we’re going to hear some nice things, talking about coaching, and coaching cultures, and the benefits, and your Microsoft story, but maybe let’s zoom out to fundamentals. At the core, can you tell us how and why coaching boosts performance?

Andrea Wanerstrand
Well, at its core, the technique of coaching really is drawing on the wisdom within the individual that already exists. It holds them whole, capable, and resourceful and it allows curiosity to come forth. And it’s a technique that each of us can use to really help those around us get clear with their objectives, get clear with what they want to accomplish, and get clear in understanding how capable they really are.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, that sounds like some great stuff. And I’ve experienced that on both sides of the coaching table, I guess, as a coacher, just the coach, the coach or the coachee. And so, can we put maybe some numbers on this? I know that there’s a human capital report with ICF that you’ve done some work with. Could you lay the case out in terms of benefits for individuals and organizations and figures? What are we seeing?

Andrea Wanerstrand
Well, ICF actually has come out with some even more recent studies but what we definitely see is that managers and leaders, and particular in organizations, that show up more coach-like outperform their colleagues and they’ll see it in the work health index in double digits, if you will. So, many companies and managers have employee polls as to how supportive their manager is or how effective their managers are.

So, the industry itself, at large, shows that when managers and leader, and us as individuals with our teams, show up more curious and show up more coach-like, i.e., we’re not asking folks in business necessarily all become professional coaches, but what the survey show, as well as the research data, is that you will see greater performance and greater autonomy across your teams when you enable them through the power of coaching.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And for those who are not as familiar, what is the work health index?

Andrea Wanerstrand
Work health index, that’s a great question. So, in many corporations, there is an employee poll, asking questions of like, “Does your manager coach you? Do you feel supported? Do you see yourself advancing in this organization?” And so, it’s really about the health of the organization. And this is a global type of measurement, managers are often measured to the score that they get in that. And what we find is those that we have taught to be more coach-like score significantly higher and have more engagement with their employees.

Pete Mockaitis
And so then, I imagine the work health index and engagement figures are then, in turn, linked to all sorts of other great outcomes in terms of people have more creative ideas, they stick around longer instead of trying to jump ship as soon as they can, etc.

Andrea Wanerstrand
Well, absolutely. What you see is retention. You see actually greater business outcomes. So, it’s really when folks feel empowered, when folks feel confident, they’ll achieve greater results. And so, depending on what industry or business you’re in, the power of being more coach-like with your team, if you’re a project manager or if you’re a people person, people leader, if you will, the results are very similar in the fact that when you enable innovation and creativity through the power of coaching, you’re going to get extraordinary results compared to those that perhaps don’t embrace a growth mindset. And we look at curiosity as the underpinning of a growth mindset, and the lever for curiosity in organizations is coaching.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Growth mindset, to curiosity, to coaching, I see that channel pathway. It makes some good sense to me. And so, I’d love to get your sense for maybe beyond the numbers and the conceptual. What do you see, hear, feel on the ground level in terms of individual contributors and manager’s experiences at Microsoft? Like, have any benefits sort of surprised you or things that you’ve heard folks say and make you go, “Oh, I guess that’s also great from coaching”?

Andrea Wanerstrand
What I’ve found is that many of our sales folks, their individual contributors in the organization, they’re using the curiosity with their customers. So, Microsoft, in particular, was a very licensed transactional company for many, many years, and then we moved into the solutions world as we moved to the cloud. And in that, you have to understand what your customer is going through, what their needs are, how you can help them.

And the power of coaching such as, “What’s on your mind?” or, “What’s the real challenge going on here?” and showing up with curiosity has allowed the connection with our customers to be accelerated, it takes less time to actually get to something that’s something actionable and has an outcome for our sellers when they deploy these types of techniques with our customers. So, there’s that.

Our managers, as they’re becoming more coach-like, they’ve upped their capability to be able to identify in the moment, you can coach in 10 minutes or less. It’s just being more coach-like. They’ve upped their capability for identifying coaching moments when, really, that individual just needs a confidence boost rather than being told what to do.

And so, we’re seeing results on both sides of the coin, if you will. Our individual contributors are utilizing the techniques of being more coach-like and utilizing the growth mindset with our customers. And then, also, even managers are using it with their teams. And there’s a cascading effect when the manager uses it and the employee uses it, and then the customer benefits.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. Okay. So, benefits all around. Well, then, having established that, folks are buying, “Okay, that sounds cool. Let’s bring it on,” can you share with us the story in terms of how did this come to be in terms of start at the beginning? What happened with Microsoft that led us to embark on this coaching journey? How did the narrative kind of unfold there?

Andrea Wanerstrand
Sure. I don’t think it’s any surprise that Microsoft at one point in our history, and not so long ago, was considered kind of the old school. You would see the Apple commercials against the Microsoft commercials where the Apple was the new sleek device and Microsoft was looking a little dated, right? We also, as I mentioned, we’re more transaction. We sold licenses to software but we’ve had to evolve our model. And now we are a solutions company and our mission has changed from putting physical devices on every desktop in the world to empowering everyone across the globe to achieve more.

And so, in order to have something big and bold like that, you’ve really got to embrace a different mindset. And when Satya Nadella came into our leadership, he really set the tone of what is a growth mindset and how is that different than how we’ve thought about before. And this is moving that dial from a know-it-all culture where we were the only game in town for a very long time, to, “Now we have competition. And how do we differentiate ourselves? And how do we expand and think of what is needed next as you saw marketplaces expanding?”

Things like Uber didn’t exist back then. Airbnb. We had classical definitions of what is a large account, and then you had these magical unicorns that were coming out left and right and using technology and innovation. So, that growth mindset as our cultural north star became very important. And in order to really foster the north star, one of my favorite quotes is Marshall Goldsmith’s “What got you here won’t get you there,” and so we really had to look at, “How do we scale?” We were not adding on people so, “How do you scale through others? How do you add on and accelerate?”

And the power of coaching, really that activation of curiosity and empowering a growth mindset, was the trigger that we thought was necessary. So, for the last few years, we’ve really been dedicated to expanding our leaders as well as our frontline salespeople with our curiosity through coaching.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And can you paint a picture for sort of what’s the current state in terms of coaching at Microsoft? I mean, it is expansive. Can you lay it out for us, like, where and how all is coaching being deployed?

Andrea Wanerstrand
Absolutely. So, we have some training efforts that we’ve done for our managers. In fact, all people managers at Microsoft are required over the next year to complete our core coaching habit training that we’ve done.

Pete Mockaitis
Is that the Michael Bungay Stanier coaching habit?

Andrea Wanerstrand
Yes, it is based on Michael Bungay Stanier’s work. We partnered with Michael and created a course within Microsoft that we have as an interactive course. It’s on what they call a MOOC platform, massively open online course. And it allows for folks to do micro-learnings, so bite-sized learning, as well as practice and cohorts, how to be more coach-like, and then actually go apply every week.

So, we created that with Michael a little over two years ago now. We launched it two years ago this January 2021. And from that as a baseline, we’ve now trained 93% of our global sales and marketing organization managers and 33% of all Microsoft managers as well as another 5,000 and growing individual contributors in our sales and marketing organization. So, it’s becoming a common language on the questions that we use, the Facebook question, “What’s on your mind?” that Michael kicks off with everybody. He calls it his kick-starter question.

But we also have melded that with our Microsoft values and our manager expectations of model, coach, and care. So, we’ve had that going, as I stated, about two years now. We also have ongoing kind of neuroscience reinforcement going on, I believe, in the power of social cognitive theory, which means at its simplest form, “I’m more up to do it if I see you doing it too.” And so, we have mechanisms in place to constantly be a drumbeat, if you will, to help people show up and be more coach-like.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Excellent. And then, so if…wow, 93% of sales and marketing, people managers, and then a third plus of all managers are there. To what extent do you engage with, I guess, hired guns or coaching pros as well?

Andrea Wanerstrand
Certainly. So, we look at coaching through three modalities, and this goes back to the Human Capital Institute’s research from 2016 with the International Coach Federation. We look at coaching as a service, which you’re talking about. We look at coaching as a capability that I just shared, so this, like manager and employee training on how to be more coach-like. And then a third one is coaching champions.

Let’s talk about what you called the hired gun but we call it coaching for service. Generally, this is done in a lot of organizations. Outside, external coaches are hired. They’re either hired to help a high-performer that is going to accelerate their work or sometimes it’s brought for a situation to do some course correction.

At Microsoft, we have certainly those traditional programs in place. We also look at democratizing coaching, i.e., letting it be available for different purposes throughout the organization. We’ve done some coaching on your coaching, bringing in external coaches for our managers. We’ve run a coach training program.

So, in particular, the coaching as a service is still a standard format for modality of coaching in our organization and we’ve gone deep in the last two years with coaching as a capability. And then we have a beautiful group of champions of coaching. And these are champions that are of being more coach-like in the capability section, as well as there’s over 200 and growing certified professional coaches across Microsoft that just happen to be coaches on top of their regular Microsoft day job and they all show up with a passion for curiosity and championing that throughout the organization.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s really cool. And so then, that sounds like a substantial investment and so, globally speaking, so there’s reports speaking to the benefit impact of coaching in terms of the worker health index and engagement. How does Microsoft go about measuring the ROI? And, to the extent that you’re at liberty to share, does it look good?

Andrea Wanerstrand
Well, the great news is that we are seeing that year-over-year trending increasing. When we launched in January of 2019, it was right before our first employee pulse poll and so we really had a great baseline, and we are seeing year-over-year so we hope to see the trend completing. It is a journey though. Even in professional coaching, you start off in the International Coach Federation where you go through 60 hours of training, and then you get a 100 hours’ worth of actual application, and then you can finally test to be a professional coach.

And then you’re an associate and you need to now gather more hours to actually become a professional level. And then you need to gather a thousand more hours to become the master coach. The same applies when you’re doing coaching as a culture within an organization, asking managers and employees to have a growth mindset and be more coach-like. It is a journey.

And so, the great news is we see year-over-year improvement, and our managers are able to identify coaching moments, they understand what’s the difference between telling and actually coaching, and they’re learning to integrate it.

And so, again, we’re working through, “How do you integrate that into your everyday conversations? How do you keep the habit consistently and be able to show up as curious as possible, especially under stress?”

Pete Mockaitis
And I guess when I’m thinking about ROI, I’m specifically thinking sort of dollars in and estimates of dollars value created. That’s hard to do, estimates, assumptions. But how is that shaking out?

Andrea Wanerstrand
Yeah. So, now you’re going to ask me for some Microsoft specifics that I can’t give you all the exact details on but we are seeing significant acceleration in key teams, if you will, and all teams. But, in particular, when you look at those from an ROI, our folks are able to be differentiated and be able to change from where they were before and now accelerate the business.

So, I’m not at liberty to share the Microsoft physical numbers for you, but when I look at perhaps a team that did not…maybe was challenged in meeting their numbers before, and through adapting to a growth mindset, taking on being more coach-like, we are seeing year-over-year change and in the positive direction for them achieving the business results and, in many cases, exceeding the business results. We see numbers of managers that were perhaps more micromanaging doing more empowerment of their teams.

So, while I can’t give you a dollar amount, I can tell you that it is significant and it is of a nature that we see immediate business results. And if we weren’t, our senior leadership would not have embraced it, nor would they have made it a requirement for every manager in the company over the next year or two, again, this is a journey, to get trained on how to understand the techniques that can enable autonomy and empower your teams.

Pete Mockaitis
And if memory serves, the last time I looked at Microsoft’s financials on the revenue side, where the sales and marketing folks are getting lots of coaching love, it looks really nice. So, of course, there’s many variables of work but I guess we’ll leave it at that.

All right. Well, so then let’s really zoom in here. So, we have, was it, you said maybe 6,000 plus, was it, individual contributors have directly benefited and experienced some of this coaching goodness. Is that right?

Andrea Wanerstrand
Well, 6,000 of the individual contributors have actually gone through the coaching programs themselves so they could become coaches.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s huge.

Andrea Wanerstrand
And all employees, hopefully, in Microsoft, as we get our 16,000 plus managers through this, will hopefully benefit from the actual coaching techniques that we’re teaching.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, now, that’s the perfect segue. Let’s talk about these actual coaching techniques. So, we’ve had Michael Bungay Stanier on the show a couple of times, and I love his stuff, so, listeners, I recommend you check out those episodes. But you’ve seen it firsthand many times over. Can you share with us, what some of the top do’s and don’ts for being more coach-like? Are there some favorite tips, tricks, scripts, questions? If we want to go do that, what should we do?

Andrea Wanerstrand
Absolutely. So, first and foremost, if you want to understand the simple techniques of how to be coach-like, as far as coaching in the verb coaching, okay, versus being coach-like, Michael’s book The Coaching Habit and his The Advice Trap, his follow-up, where he talks about the three advice monsters so you can understand kind of the mental aspects and then the simple techniques, absolutely, absolutely highly recommend that.

Additionally, when we look at it in a business context, coaching is one of the techniques that we all have in our quiver. So, when we talk about showing up with a coach mindset, there’s an aspect of discernment that we ask each of us to have. And we all do it naturally as humans in conversations. You’re trying to understand, “Does the other person understand the concepts that I want to talk about?” so you’ll do a little bit of inquiry and you’ll move through that. You might do a form of evaluation. And you might actually realize that what you need to talk with the individual about is something that’s new to them or the challenge is really steep so you might have to do a little teaching.

But you might also need to give someone some feedback, and you can do that in a way where you’re looking at some missed opportunities or maybe positive reinforcement for a colleague on the team, and you can still be more coach-like in doing that. So, we talk about the techniques of “What was most helpful or useful here for you?” We ask the questions that Michael puts forth of “How can I help?” where you put the onus on the other individual to ask for what they want rather than you telling them what you can give, and you’re still a choice. We also have this aspect of mentoring where folks can learn from your scars that somebody can tread down the path and go past that.

So, for an individual with a coach mindset, we really look at not only the strong empowering technique of coaching, which is that folks can learn the most from self-discovery. We also encourage our colleagues to really embrace teaching, mentoring, and feedback, and learn how to do that in an integrated fashion to have the most efficient conversation that you can have that also is the most caring and empathetic conversation that you can have.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s intriguing. The most efficient, also the most caring and empathetic. Can you say more about that?

Andrea Wanerstrand
Absolutely. So, in today’s world, more than ever in the current conditions, we are all stressed for time. We also are back-to-back to back-to-back, and I’ve heard over and over again, “I don’t have time to give them feedback,” or, “I don’t have time to coach.” But if we can show up curious with everyone we encounter, and, yes, I mean everyone, including your bank clerk or the grocery clerk that you’re giving your card to, to buy today’s groceries, the more you can show up curious in those micro moments, the more you’re showing up with empathy and connection to others versus overthinking or trying to solve the problems.

If you can really show up with curiosity, and let curiosity drive where you need to have your conversation go, and use the power of discernment, you will have a more efficient conversation, i.e., you can get more done in less time, and get to the heart of a challenge faster than when you jump in and try to give advice or try to solve it for someone else, that often becomes all about you rather than about them. And in empathy, it’s very similar. It’s all about them, it’s not about you. When we have sympathy, it’s about us. When it’s empathy, it’s about them. So, they really go hand in hand.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, I’d love it if we could do just maybe a couple minutes of demo here in terms of let’s say there’s a situation, and you can make one up, or I’d make one up, like, I’m a salesperson and I haven’t been hitting my figures lately. Or, if there’s another scenario you’d like to run with, we can do that. And so, can we see it sort of both ways in terms of the coach-like approach that you’d endorse and the not-so-coach-like approach that you’d recommend we try to steer away from?

Andrea Wanerstrand
Well, Pete, let’s do this. I’m happy to step in and show you what coaching looks like and what coaching doesn’t look like. Let’s do this. Pete, what’s a real challenge that you have right now?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, a real challenge I’m having is just our kids sleeping and me sleeping. They’re almost three and almost two, so we got two of them, right now. And, yeah, I guess I would love it if they did a better job of sleeping through the night or if I did a better job of falling back asleep when they holler for a minute and then fall back asleep themselves.

Andrea Wanerstrand
Oh, I could hear you. You know, having young ones, you don’t get sleep. I’ve got some great books that you could take a look at as far as like really some great ideas for sleep techniques. I don’t know if you’ve tried any sleep techniques. Have you tried some sleep techniques for the kids?

Pete Mockaitis
I have on my very desk Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Dr. Richard Ferber, so, yeah.

Andrea Wanerstrand
Oh, okay. Well, that’s a good one. I’ve tried a few of them but when my kid was younger but it really sometimes you just got to do that tough love and let them just get to sleep. Have you tried that one?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, and I think we’ve made some headway in terms of the screaming is rarer and shorter, so that’s improvement. But, yeah, I guess, in the here and now, it just feels like a lot.

Andrea Wanerstrand
I hear you. I hear you. And it’s hard to hear those little ones. All right. So, everything I just did right there was not coaching. All right. So, first and foremost, I did maybe ask you, “What have you tried?” but I went right into what are some of the solutions I’ve used or I could’ve used, or like, “There’s experts out there.” So, let’s take two on that. Let’s see if we can have a different conversation on that.

Pete Mockaitis
Sure. And I’ll just chime in that it didn’t feel great in terms of, I mean, it wasn’t like horrible but I didn’t walk away…and the experience of it wasn’t like, “Oh, boy, Andrea really cares about me. She gets me. She’s connecting.” It was just kind of surface level, I guess, maybe in terms of any stranger might engage me at that level.

Andrea Wanerstrand
Yeah. And even then, it’s not like a great feeling stranger either, is it?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. And it’s not horrible, it’s just sort of like, “Yeah, okay. Well, hmm.” It’s like weather, it’s like, “All right, we could talk about the weather. It’s sort of what we’re doing here.”

Andrea Wanerstrand
Yup. And especially because I went in and I made it about myself, right? So, let’s try this a little bit differently. Hey, Pete, you shared with me that you’ve got some challenges going on with getting the little ones to sleep. What’s going on with that today?

Pete Mockaitis
You know, it’s funny, today, my sweet wife did the hard work last night and I was in a different location doing some better sleep. But it’s funny, it’s sort of like it’s followed me a little bit in terms of it’s like my body almost thinks it’s normal to wake up in the middle of the night, or maybe like at 5:00 instead of a 7:00 that I was going for, it’s like, “Aargh,” and I wanted to fall back asleep but I couldn’t quite so I said, “I guess I’ll clean the bathroom.”

Andrea Wanerstrand
I hear you. It really can play with your body clock as far as what’s night versus day. What are some of the things that you and your wife are doing to try to get some normalcy or some type of pattern going?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I think we’ve gotten a lot more rigid in terms of, “This is the wakeup time and the nap time and the bedtime. And you may scream out for any number of comforts but those are no longer going to be provided to you, so learn to comfort yourself better.”

Andrea Wanerstrand
And how does that feel when you’re doing it?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, it’s hard. It’s harder for my wife than for me. I think it can be a little better being heartless but, yeah, man, hearing your beloved child yell for five plus minutes is tricky even with the earplugs in.

Andrea Wanerstrand
What’s the plan to, you know, we talked about today? What’s the plan for tomorrow and the rest of the week?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I think we’re going to kind of just sort of keep at it and I guess that’s sort of the hope is that we have seen improvements. And if we keep on trucking, the hope is that we’ll enter the Promised Land here of everyone is sleeping adequately most nights. So, it’s not really innovative of a plan. It’s just kind of like stay the course and I guess tiny refinements, like, “Oh, maybe a night light would be good in terms of providing some comfort that doesn’t require any intervention from us later on,” or, “Maybe the time-release melatonin will give me what I need to fall back asleep if I wake up at 4:00.” And it kind of has so that seems to be the thing. Going the course and minute adjustments.

Andrea Wanerstrand
Well, it’s an ever-changing time when you have children and, especially, at that age so staying the course, trying little new things. How can I be of further help for you today in this discussion?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, you can be forgiving if I say, “Huh? What?” and need to repeat yourself.

Andrea Wanerstrand
Well, I’m here anytime you want to chat or talk about it and just hum, “Yeah. What?” So, I appreciate our time together. I look forward to our next sync. And then off you go. And then how did that feel versus our first?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, yes, it’s more pleasant and I think I don’t see you but I think I heard a smile coming through, which is appreciated. Thank you. And it’s interesting, like it’s true, you didn’t…well, in either conversation did you give me sort of an quote-unquote answer, like, “This has nothing to do…” But in the second conversation, I walked away with more hope in terms of, “You know what, yeah, it’s unpleasant at the moment but we are on the path and we’re just going to keep on rocking. And it’s not a crisis that I have to solve so much as just sort of breathe and keep calm and carry on.”

Andrea Wanerstrand
Yeah. And let’s acknowledge that we’re doing this in front of 20,000 plus people that might be listening to this and so it’s a bit more filtered but it was the aspect of what you’re doing and reflecting on what you’re doing, and that you’re staying the course. And if you’re feeling good about staying the course and there wasn’t anything detrimental to you or the child or whatever, it was my job to encourage you.

And every coaching conversation looks different but the main thing between our conversation A versus this conversation B is I didn’t offer up any specific suggestions. I didn’t, in the second one, tell you what I’ve done. I might’ve empathized and said, “Yeah, it’s tough to have young kids.” And that’s where we, as colleagues, can really show up for each other.

And if I was doing a professional coaching session with you, I probably would’ve been going deeper with you, and we would’ve traversed maybe some other challenges, like, with curiosity, I was like, “Okay, so why is your wife having a harder time than you with this there?” But, again, staying in curiosity, helping the other individual for self-discovery for them, “What’s going on?” to empower them, to have hope, to not be closing down and feeling hopeless, those are the attributes of powerful coaching that can, even with two people who’ve never really chatted before, because you and I haven’t really had in-depth conversations prior to today, you can still instill some hope in somebody else.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Thank you. Well, you’re good at coaching, and I’d love to get your take on what are some of the top resources you’d recommend for folks looking to improve their coaching skills? Any frameworks, books, tools? You’d mentioned Michael Bungay Stanier’s couple of books as being excellent. Anything else you’d point us to?

Andrea Wanerstrand
I think, from a coaching technique, if you’re looking to be more coach-like, Michael Bungay Stanier’s The Coaching Habit and The Advice Trap are excellent. If you want to learn more about the powers of a growth mindset and how curiosity does that, Carol Dweck’s Mindset. And, also, there’s a couple other favorite books I have out there. Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo. It really talks about creativity, figuring things out. The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani. I think I said that right. He’s the founder of Mindvalley, and he really challenges what he calls the brules. And I’ll let you guys go out and look out at what brules are, with a B.

Pete Mockaitis
He’s going to be on the show shortly so it’s going to be there.

Andrea Wanerstrand
And then I just finished reading Undaunted by Kara Goldin. She’s the founder and CEO of Hint. It’s a niche market beverage industry, and she really showed that grit and determination as an underdog for coming into a really established market and what you can do about it. So, coaching is a technique and it’s a powerful technique. And when you combine that with a growth mindset and coming in and being curious, you really open up the opportunities for yourself and those around you to really do some extraordinary things.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Thank you. Well, now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Andrea Wanerstrand
Well, I think I mentioned it earlier. It’s, “What got you here won’t get you there,” by our friend Marshall Goldsmith. And the reason I’m a big fan about it is when we keep going back and trying the old ways, it doesn’t allow us to adapt to today’s environment or tomorrow’s environment. And while there are some stated true methods in the world, the world we live in is constantly changing. So, what got you here won’t get you there.

Pete Mockaitis
And we talked about some favorite books, so how about some favorite tools, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Andrea Wanerstrand
Well, I work for Microsoft, my friend, so I have to say my Microsoft tools.

Pete Mockaitis
Awesome.

Andrea Wanerstrand
Well, Teams, in particular. Teams has been lifesaving for my distributed teams, physical teams, that is, across the globe. And I have the privilege of working with people all across, about a hundred somewhat countries now, so my favorite tool these days is Microsoft Teams.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite habit?

Andrea Wanerstrand
Oh, meditation. Every day. Queen’s University in Canada really did some interesting new research into the brain, and it’s something like we have more than 6,000 thoughts in a single day. And so, for me, I do transcendental meditation. And, for me, it’s a way to really kind of follow my thoughts and organize myself and kind of get to that deeper level of thinking.

Pete Mockaitis
And is there a particular nugget you share with others that folks quote back to you frequently?

Andrea Wanerstrand
It’s “Lead before you manage.” It’s all about that extraordinary leaders whether you’re an individual contributor or a people manager. It’s not in the doing; it’s in the being that differentiates you. But if you’re going to do, do you.

Pete Mockaitis
And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Andrea Wanerstrand
LinkedIn for Andrea Wanerstrand or my website AndreaWanerstrand.com.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Andrea Wanerstrand
I would encourage folks to embrace the power of a growth mindset. And I, literally, challenge you to show up curious with everyone you encounter in the next 24 hours, and that includes anyone you run into, anyone you talk to on the phone, anyone you send an email to, that you just might learn something extraordinary about that other individual.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Andrea, this has been a treat. Thank you so much and we wish you all the best in your coaching adventures.

Andrea Wanerstrand
Thanks, Pete. I appreciate you having me.