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822: How to Take Your Next Best Step When Life is Uncertain with Jeff Henderson

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Jeff Henderson shares powerful principles for shrinking the risk of your next career move.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The most important networking question you can ask
  2. How to turn every “no” into powerful motivational fuel
  3. The three things that shrink risk

About Jeff

Jeff Henderson is an entrepreneur, speaker, pastor, and business leader. For seventeen years, he has led three of North Point Ministries’ multisite locations in Atlanta, Georgia—Buckhead Church and two Gwinnett Church locations. He has also helped launch North Point Online, which now reaches over 200,000 people. His bestselling book, Know What You’re FOR, launched a movement in nonprofits around the world and has become a focal point for many businesses. As the founder of the FOR Company, Jeff’s aim is to help organizations build a good name where purpose and profit grow together. Jeff was recently named by Forbes Magazine as one of twenty speakers you shouldn’t miss. Prior to working as a pastor, Jeff started his career in marketing with the Atlanta Braves, Callaway Gardens, Lake Lanier Islands, and Chick-fil-A, Inc., where he led the company’s regional and beverage marketing strategies.

Resources Mentioned

Jeff Henderson Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Jeff, welcome to How to be Awesome at Your Job.

Jeff Henderson
Pete, it’s so great to be here. I really appreciate it. Been looking forward to this for quite a while, so thank you.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I’m excited to be chatting with you and hearing your wisdom and some insights from your book What to Do Next: Taking Your Best Step When Life Is Uncertain. Could you share with us a time you had to figure out what to do next when life was uncertain and had to take a next great step?

Jeff Henderson
I’ve had four of those, actually, over the last 20 years, and part of that, Pete, was just I was intrigued with the next possibility, but every next possibility comes with a certain amount of risk, so I’ll just start with the one that happened, really was the biggest one over the last few years in terms of the first big risk and trying to figure out what to do next, and that was when I was working in marketing for Chick-fil-A, and my wife and I felt called to help start a nonprofit in the Atlanta area. And we went from working at a multibillion-dollar company with career trajectory to taking a massive pay cut and working for a nonprofit.

And so, you have to ask yourself, “How do you eliminate this risk?” And the reality is you don’t eliminate risk. You shrink this risk. But we were so intrigued with the potential of doing this that it kind of ruined where we were. And I don’t like the word ruined but we were so intrigued about it, we said, “If we don’t go do this, if this nonprofit were to work, we will always look back and regret it.” And that was over 20 years ago, and it was just a formative decision.

And over the course of these 20 years, I’ve made some similar decisions and I began to get questions, such as, “Hey, what was the decision-making process? And how did you know that this was the thing that you were supposed to do?” And so, I began to realize that there were some principles and strategies that I used to help make these decisions. And little did I know that, especially over the last couple of years, people have been asking the same question of themselves, “Hey, what should I do next?”

So, when I left Chick-fil-A, that was a big, big deal, especially moving from for-profit to nonprofit. But as I look back over the course of the years, Pete, I’ve been able to really serve business leaders and nonprofit leaders because I’ve lived in both of those worlds. So, that was a big decision for my wife and me, but we certainly don’t regret it.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, could you tell us, what are some of these core principles that helped you figure this stuff out?

Jeff Henderson
The first one is one that I think a lot of times we overlook, and that is the better you finish your current season, the better you begin your next season. And we really need to start talking about finishing well more, I think. Typically, when people think, “Well, I’m going to put in a two-week or three-week notice. What are they going to do? Fire me?”

I think we have to realize that how we finish well honors the people but also honors the work that we’ve done over the time that we’ve been there. And certainly, for some people, next happens to them, right, the company gets downsized, new leader comes in, I get all that. But I think how we finish that current season is really, really important.

That said, one of the principles that Wendy and I really leaned into is understanding that with many advisors, plans succeed, but with few advisors, plans fail. So, we developed a personal advisory board, people that we trust, people that we look up to, that we meet with on a regular basis. And it’s not just about this decision. It’s about parenting, and marriage, and all sorts of decisions.

And, yet, when you get to a decision like this, about what to do next, making a career change, you want as much possible great wisdom that you can possibly get. So, over two years ago when we made this current season, when I left being a pastor of a church, to now serving businesses and nonprofits in a much broader scope, they were the ones that said, “Hey, you guys are going to be empty-nesters in about 18 months. What are you going to do in that season?”

And that was a great question because I’d not really thought about that, and they helped walk us through the decision-making process about how to figure this out. So, who you listen to is a preview of the future you. And then, also, and we’ll talk about this a little bit down the road if you want, but I really do believe in side hustles, experimenting with some things, trying to figure some things out that may or may not work, but you’re going to learn some things, and it might lead you to the next opportunity.

And then the principle that we’ve all heard is who you know is often more important than what you know. Who you know is often more important than what you know. In your personal network, in building, in enhancing and leveraging your personal network is so important. In fact, Pete, when I talk to people and they call me, and they said, “Jeff, I just lost my job, the company got downsized. What’s the first thing that I should do? Should I update my resume?” That’s an important thing, but, no. “Should I update my information on LinkedIn?” That’s important but, no, that’s not the first thing that you should do.

The first thing you should do is look at your phone, look at your contact list, and make a list of the top ten people that you’re going to call immediately that you can meet with to see if they can help you, because I do believe, Pete, that we are about four or five people away from that next opportunity. So, those are a few strategies, and we can talk about more or go more in depth with those. But the overarching principle is when it comes to what to do next, finding it when you’re uncertain, so often I will hear back from people, going, “I just don’t know what to do and I’m a little stuck.”

And the principles that we talk about is don’t let what you don’t know rob you of what you can do. There are some things that you can do. Focus in on that. And when you do that, you’ll be surprised how much that action can propel you forward.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, that’s a nice set of principles there. So, could you share with us, when it comes to some of these relationship pieces, the advisors and the people that you know, any pro tips associated with really developing those relationships well so that they could be of service when necessary?

Jeff Henderson
Let’s talk about building your personal network. I think asking people, contacting them, and saying, “Hey, can I sit down with you for 30 minutes? I want to ask you about your story, I want to ask you about your career, and then I have a question for you.” I think a lot of people are happy to talk about themselves, talk about their career. And I would say, “Hey, how did you get where you are? Tell me your career trajectory. Tell me your career story.”

And then, as you hear that, at the end of…and then, obviously, asking great questions as they tell you, “Hey, I went here, I went there, and how did all that work,” but at the end of the meeting, ultimately, where you’re wanting to lead them to is this question, and that question is, “Who do you know that I need to know? And will you contact them on my behalf?” And not every time someone will say yes but, more often than not, they will say yes. And I believe that person knows someone that can help you.

And then another pro tip would be either show up with a gift, maybe it’s a book that you could give them, a gift card, write a follow-up thank you note, but that is so important because you’re trying to leverage their network, and you’re also trying to add value to them which is why you want to bring a gift.

So, that question, “Who do you know that I need to know? And will you contact them on my behalf?” that’s so helpful. It’s gold, actually, in terms of building your network. And, again, they may say, “No, I don’t know anybody right now.” That’s fine. Every salesperson would tell you, “You got to get through some no’s to get through some yeses.”

But I think what you’ll discover is, more often than not, people will say, “Oh, absolutely. You know, I’m just talking to this guy the other day.” Or, even if they say, “No, there’s no one that I can think of.” “That’s okay. Well, when you do, or if you do, don’t forget, this is how to get in touch with me.”

Now, here’s the other pro tip, Pete, if you can do this while you don’t necessarily need to do this, that’s even better. Building your personal network while you might not actually need it because you don’t need a job right now, you got a job, you’re fine, but I’m telling you, it’s kind of like health insurance or life insurance. This is work insurance. If you have a well-built personal network, it will always come to be beneficial for you in the future.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Very good. And if we have any emotional resistance, reluctance, jitters, like, “Oh, I don’t know if I could do that, Jeff. It feels sort of sales-y or pushy or, I don’t know.” Any perspective on that?

Jeff Henderson
You’re listening to fear. You’re listening to doubt and insecurity. And I totally understand this, by the way. In fact, my kids, they’re 23 and 21, and they’ll say, “Dad, we don’t want you to contact this person on my behalf.” And I totally understand that. They want to earn their own way, and I get that. But, at the same time, I’ll say, “Hey, guys, this is how the real world works, and leveraging the people you know, and I know you might not want your dad to call, but there are other people that you can contact that can help you find that next opportunity.”

It’s kind of like this, Pete, one time I was sick, had a cold, and I kept complaining to Wendy that I’m just not feeling better, and she said, “You know what you ought to do? Here’s a radical idea. You might consider going to the doctor.” And I’m like, “No, no, no, I don’t want to go to the doctor.” And she said, “Okay. Well, but here’s this, if you’re not going to go to the doctor, you forfeit the right to complain about being sick, right?”

So, what I tell people when they say, “Oh, Jeff, I don’t want to contact somebody. That’s just a little pushy, a littles sales-y,” I get that. I get that. If you don’t want to do that, you forfeit the right to also complain that you don’t like your job, you don’t like where you are, you’re not sure what to do, “I don’t know how to figure out what to do next.” Okay, if you’re not going to push yourself and push past the fear of this, then you get to stay stuck where you are but you don’t get to complain about it anymore. You’re going to have to push forward. You’re going to have to take action.

But here’s what I’ve discovered about taking action. Even if they say no, the fact that you took action, it’s going to plant a seed that you may never know what comes out of that. But even if someone says no, who knows when they may see or meet somebody that has a job opening, and they remember your email, or your text, or your question, or your phone call. All of that is so, so important, so you got to push through the fear and listen to whether this is real or is this an excuse. And we’ve got to stop being victims and we have to stop listening to our excuses.

Pete Mockaitis
I like that notion that even if they say no, you’ve gained something. And I think you gain something even internally emotionally. This reminds me of my younger days, asking for dates.

Jeff Henderson
Absolutely, yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Even if she says no, there is an internal victory associated with having summoned the courage to do so, and, in that way, I am a winner even if I have lost the date that I was seeking.

Jeff Henderson
Absolutely. You feel better about yourself because you stood up, you did something hard, and that gives you a little step of extra courage, whether you get a yes or no, it’s just so important. I’ll give you a quick example along those lines. When I served in the nonprofit world, I had to raise money, and I would sit down with people over coffee and I would cast the vision of, “This is what we’re trying to do and this is our vision of how we’re going to help people.”

And then I would ask them this question, “Will you help me?” and then I would be quiet, and I would just let the silence fill the coffee shop. And you have to do that, Pete. You have to let that awkwardness of the silence kind of fill the space. And then they would say one of three things, they would say, “Yes,” “No,” or, “I’ll think about it or pray about it,” which is also no. So, two of the three are no, but my responsibility was to make the ask. It was their responsibility to provide an answer.

And what I discovered in helping myself to be a better fundraiser is I decided I’m no longer going to answer for people. That’s actually rude for me to rob them of the opportunity to provide an answer. What I’m going to do is I’m going to make the request. And if I do that, whether I got a no or not, I just felt a little stronger that day because I was doing my job trying to raise money.

Well, the same thing is true if you’re trying to build your career or trying to figure out what to do next. You’re going to feel stronger even if you do get a no. Yes, we would like a yes. Absolutely. But even if you get a no from someone that you’re trying to build your network, it’s still going to make you a little bit stronger.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Thank you. You’ve also got a cool concept called the career risk calculator. How does this work?

Jeff Henderson
Many people, Pete, as I mentioned earlier, say, “Hey, I want to make this move but I’ve got to eliminate risk. It cannot be risky.” And I tell them, “Wow, you must live in a different world that I live in because you don’t eliminate risk. But what you can do is you can shrink it.” And so, when it comes to making a career decision or a life decision about what to do next, it doesn’t have to be a leap across the Grand Canyon but it can be reduced to maybe a leap over a mud puddle. You might get wet and muddy and fall and get wet, and no one likes to do that, but you’re not plunging thousands of feet below.

So, what we wanted to do is to help people think through that, so we created, as we called it, the career risk calculator. What we’re trying to do is ask questions to see what kind of level of risk someone is at. So, from 25 questions, and, ultimately, you get a red light, a yellow light, or a green light. The red light is not a pass or fail. It doesn’t mean you failed. The red light simply says, as a red light says when we’re driving around, “Whoa, stop. Before you take another step, you need to think through a few things.”

A yellow light says, “Okay, you’re making some progress but here are a few other things to think through.” And a green light doesn’t necessarily mean, “You have to now move.” It means you’ve done the hard work, here’s a couple of other things that you might consider. And this is just a free resource that we provide at my website JeffHenderson.com.

But once you get that light, once you get that information, we give you a few other things to think through. And part of this is designed for another action statement that I learned from John Maxwell. Early on in this new season of mine, what I’m doing now for two years, my first month, it’s brand new, I’m trying to go out and speak, and it’s COVID and all this kind of stuff, and it’s kind of crazy, but I was at a conference where John Maxwell was speaking, and John said this, and I’ll never forget this, Pete. He said, “I never had a clear vision. I just kept moving forward.”

And that just totally floored me in the best of ways because, I thought, “Wait. Here’s John Maxwell, he’s sold literally millions of books, he’s this leadership guru. You look at somebody like that and think this guy has it all going on. I understand a mere mortal like me, I don’t have a clear vision, but he didn’t have a clear vision? So, I just got to keep moving forward? Well, what are those one or two next steps that I can take?”

And a lot of times, it’s not this gigantic leap. It’s just a small step, picking up the phone and contacting someone, or doing a side hustle, or sending an email, or trying to get my finances together, or getting wise people and say, “Hey, what would you do if you were me?” And so, the career risk assessment basically gives you some small steps to take so that you can keep moving forward. And as you keep moving forward, you’re going to shrink the risk. You can’t eliminate it but you can shrink it. And so, that’s what that career risk calculator is all about.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, that’s cool. Well, can you tell us some of the best ways we can shrink it?

Jeff Henderson
So, first of all, really get to understand two of three things, two of these things that you have control over and one that you really don’t. So, what I mean by that is a lot of times folks will come up to me, Pete, and say, “Hey, I don’t know what to do. I just don’t know what to do.” So, what do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Well, when you don’t know what to do, there are three things to pay attention to. The first one is your gifting. Do you know your strengths? Do you know what you are good at? Because what to do next is usually going to come down that pathway. For example, you’re not going to see me launch a country music career. There’s no musical background in my history. So, I mean, maybe for some people do that but that’s not a gift of mine. So, gifting is really, really important.

The second thing is calling. What breaks your heart? Or, what are you passionate about? And if there’s nothing that you’re passionate about, okay, that’s all right. Well, let’s go out there and let’s try some things. But there’s understanding your gifting and understanding your calling. And then the third thing that is a little bit of the most frustrating thing for folks because they don’t have the most control over this, and that’s timing.

But when you understand your gifting and you understand your calling, what happens is the timing eventually shows up. And it’s kind of a Venn diagram, you have three circles. The first circle is gifting, the second circle is calling, and the third circle is timing. When those three connect right in the middle of that, is how you figure out what to do next.

And a calling often asks the question, “Somebody should do something about that. Who will do something about that? Somebody should start a company that serves customers this way. Somebody should start a nonprofit that does this.” So, that’s kind of a calling. Gifting says, “Somebody should do something about that, and I wonder if that person is me.” That starts talking about gifting.

And when I decided, eventually, to leave Chick-fil-A, I knew that the gifting and the calling were there, it took me a little bit longer to figure out the timing of it. And, generally speaking, it usually takes a little bit longer than we think. That’s why trying to figure out what to do next, it’s something that all of us should be on a journey of because I’m not trying to convince people to quit and leave their job today. I‘m trying to convince people to keep growing to bring the best next version of them to their organizations and to the people in their lives.

And if you continue to do that, even if you stay in the same organization that you’re currently in, you’re going to get better at serving them. And when you get better at serving them, you’re going to get bigger and better opportunities, and that’s what I’ve seen throughout my career. So, I think understanding gifting, calling, and timing, that will help you, especially if you say, “I just don’t know what to do.”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, Jeff, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we hear about some of your favorite things?

Jeff Henderson
Well, I think it’s important to understand that there’s a certain level of emotional awareness that comes into with understand what to do next. Understanding that, especially if a lot of transitions are tricky. As for me, I didn’t leave organizations that I didn’t like. I left organizations that I dearly loved. I left people that I dearly loved, so there’s a lot of emotions that’s associated with all of that. So, I think it’s helpful to process that out, especially if you’ve been downsized in a company, obviously, there’s emotion there.

So, we’ve talked a lot of technical skills and all that today, but I would pay attention to what’s happening internally inside of you because that grief of leaving and the emotions of leaving, it’s a real thing. So, just pay attention not only to the external applications, like, build your network, and sign us and career risk calculator, but also pay attention internally to what’s happening to you because that’s really, really important because the best gift that you can give the organizations and the people you serve is the best emotionally healthy version of you.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Thank you. Now, could you share a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Jeff Henderson
A favorite quote for me is, “There’s not a limit to what a person can do when he or she doesn’t care who gets the credit.” Now, I think humility is a gamechanger but the reality, too, is we can’t say, “Hey, guess what, Pete? One of the best things about me is my humility. I’m so humble.” At that point, I’ve already forfeited. So, humility isn’t something that I think about. Humility is something that I practice. But I love that quote that there’s not a limit to what we can do if we don’t care who gets the credit.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And could you share a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Jeff Henderson
So, for me, I love the research that talks about the fact that if I assume the best for someone, it’s a marriage study and they looked at healthy marriages, and then if there was something that happened, the husband or wife or the partner would say, “You know what, I’m going to assume the best about that,” instead of the fundamental attribution error, which would say, “I’m going to assume the worst about that.” And even if they were wrong, the fact that they assume the best about that particular situation was so helpful and healthy.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And could you share a favorite book?

Jeff Henderson
I would just tell you, from a history standpoint, Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, it’s about Abraham Lincoln and how he hired many of his presidential rivals to be on his cabinet, and how that ultimately led him to abolishing slavery with their help. It was the movie, that book was actually adapted into a movie, Lincoln that Steven Spielberg produced. And I would say a leadership book would be The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Jeff Henderson
So, for me, goodness, technology is just rampant, but I created a tool for communicators. I believe leadership comes with a microphone. And it’s called “The Four Presenter Voices,” and it helps me understand what my voice is and how to leverage my voice. So, when I’m preparing for a talk, I go back to that, and go, “Okay, I have this particular voice. Here’s how I need to prepare, and here’s how I need to make sure that the weakness of this particular voice allows me to avoid the weakness of that voice, and to leverage the strength of that voice so that I can communicate the best that I can,” because, again, leadership comes with a microphone.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And could you share a favorite habit, something you do that helps you be awesome at your job?

Jeff Henderson
I really do believe I’m trying to get better. I really do believe the better we finish the night, the better we begin the day. A way to say it is, “A great day begins the night before.” And so, I try to write down three things: one, “What went well today?”; two, “What could I do tomorrow that will move me forward?”; and, number three, “Who could I encourage tomorrow?” And a great day begins the night before. So, I’m trying to be more consistent about doing that, and shutting off technology, reading, and getting really set because the day doesn’t begin when I wake up. Great days begin the night before.

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

Jeff Henderson
There’s a question that I’ve asked over the years for leaders, and the question is for them, or the challenge rather is for them to ask their teams, “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?” That’s going to give them information that everyone else has but the leader, and it’s going to be challenging. They’re going to get some encouraging information, they’re going to get some surprising information about themselves, and they’re going to get some information that will hurt their feelings.

But this is one of the most healthy and emotional awareness questions, I think, that you can ask, and it’s going to help you get to be a better leader. But I challenge people and say you don’t have to do this and you don’t have to ask that question. You just have to know that if you don’t, and if you don’t have the courage to ask that question, you’re going to be the only one that doesn’t know the answer to it, “So, what’s it like to be on the other side of me?”

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

Jeff Henderson
JeffHenderson.com. You’ll see the free assessment that we talked about earlier. Actually, the voices assessment is on there as well, it’s just free. And then you can follow me from there on social media.

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

Jeff Henderson
So, I think in terms of being awesome at your job, the challenge that we need to be mindful of is, ultimately, there’s a wake in our leadership. And I think we need to look back and go, “Is the wake of that leadership, are we making the people in the organizations better?” My first business mentor challenged me with this, he said, “When you leave here, I want you to leave things better than when you found them.”

So, one of the ways that we can be awesome at our job is to know that we will not always be at this job. We’re all one day closer to leaving wherever we are. But when we leave, there is a wake that follows that, so leave things, leave the organization, leave the job, and leave the people better than when you found them.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Jeff, this has been a treat. Thank you. I wish much luck and joy in each of the things you do next.

Jeff Henderson
Thank you so, so much, Pete. I’m honored to be here.

816: How Anyone Can Build Powerful Executive Presence with Harrison Monarth

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Harrison Monarth shares simple but effective approaches to get others to perceive you as a leader.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Why it’s easier to build executive presence than you think
  2. The easiest way to improve people’s perception of you
  3. How to still contribute when you don’t have answers

About Harrison

Harrison Monarth is one of today’s most sought-after leadership development-and executive coaches, helping CEOs, senior executives, managers, and high-potential employees develop critical leadership skills and increase their interpersonal effectiveness and ability to influence others. He has personally coached leaders from major organizations in financial services, technology, medical, legal, hospitality and consumer industries, as well as those in start-ups, nonprofits and politics.

Harrison’s client list covers organizations such as General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, MetLife, AT&T, Northrop Grumman, Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Deloitte Consulting, Cisco Systems, GE and Standard & Poor’s among others, as well as start-up entrepreneurs, political candidates and Members of Congress.

Resources Mentioned

Harrison Monarth Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Harrison, welcome to How to be Awesome at Your Job.

Harrison Monarth
Hi, there. Thanks for having me.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m excited to hear your wisdom about executive presence and more. And I’ve got to hear the story about you proposing marriage on your first date.

Harrison Monarth
Yes, so I had seen my wife over the course of a couple of years. She worked in the same neighborhood where I worked. At the time, I lived in Denver, Colorado, and had seen her from afar, admired her from afar, she was very beautiful, and didn’t know her but circumstances led us to get to know each other through a mutual friend.

And since I had already been in love with her for a couple of years, at our first date, we had a wonderful first date that dragged into the evening, seeing a movie. And it was after the movie that we went back to our café, and after some more conversation and other shenanigans, I proposed, she accepted, and eight months later, we got married.

And, by the way, it’s been almost 20 years, so that was 19 years ago.

Pete Mockaitis
Hotdog. Congratulations. Well, we keep the show G-rated but I’m curious what shenanigans we’re referring to that lead to both of you feeling, like, “Yup, feel pretty certain this is going to be just fine”?

Harrison Monarth
I think it’s a bit of a cliché when you say you just know and you click with someone, and everything just really connects in all levels. And, yeah, it was that for us, so it’s just a feeling of knowing. Yeah, we’ve been inseparable since.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, that’s awesome. Congratulations.

Harrison Monarth
There’s no secret to it, actually. It’s just I think we’re lucky, so.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Well, I think that here’s where I make a forced segue, I think that a lot feels the same way about executive presence, Harrison, in that it feels like, “Hey, some people have it. They’re lucky. They got it. And some people don’t.” But I’d love to hear your perspective on this. Your book Executive Presence, Second Edition: The Art of Commanding Respect Like a CEO shares some learnable behaviors that anyone can take on.

Maybe, can you kick us off with a particularly surprising or counterintuitive or extra fascinating discovery you’ve made about executive presence from your years of research and work in the field?

Harrison Monarth
Now you said something interesting. I think you said you either have it or you don’t, or people have maybe the perception, “You have it or you don’t.” And I think that is one of those misperceptions about executive presence. It’s often how we describe a nebulous quality-like charisma, somebody has it or they don’t.

Executive presence, I found in my research over the last 20 plus years, and probably unconsciously over many years before that, is a set of behaviors, traits, qualities, characteristics that we can identify and where we can understand that we all have a profile of certain behaviors that serve us, that help us, and others that perhaps get in the way of having an executive presence and having that positive influence.

And so, for me, the big aha was the understanding that, you know what, all these qualities, these behaviors, you don’t have to have all of them, but you need to know where you are on that scale and what you have and what you don’t have, so you have to start somewhere. And then you can create a plan and decide based on your circumstances, based on the company in which you work, the people you work with, the system you’re in, what’s important to develop and what you need to maybe continue doing and what you need to intensify or magnify.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, a collection of behaviors. Harrison, could you perhaps segment the lofty concept of executive presence into a manageable set of categories we can get our arms around?

Harrison Monarth
Sure. So, if I were to break it down, and, again, this is the world according to me. This is by no means an exact science, obviously. But executive presence is a combination of communication, behaviors, communication skills such as managing difficult conversations, about engaging others, being the kind of communicator that can easily engage other people.

Telling strategic stories in business and to explain complex topics and subject matter. Being inspiring and persuading. Helping people understand something and come to a decision. So, these are all, say, behaviors under communication. Political savvy is important. Do you have the ability to create alliances to manage up, to generate buy-in and support from people?

Courage. Competence. To me, you have to have competence in something. You have to be able to communicate both develop a level of expertise and intellect, and develop sort of a persona that lets other people know that you can be counted on, that you’re a person of substance and competence in order to be seen as having that presence.

Delivering results is an important part as well under the category of competence. You can’t deliver results if you can’t contribute value to an organization, to a group, to a team. We’re not necessarily seen as having an executive presence, or we will have an executive presence that’s shallow, like a politician, let’s say in cases.

Acting decisively is part of it. Having courage. Being calm under pressure. Those are all some. I’m not going to rattle off the whole, let’s say, 27 or 30, but those are some that I think are very important.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, that’s a whole boatload of things. I’m curious, if that feels overwhelming for folks, could you give us some hope, some inspiration with a story of someone who was kind of low on this collection of behaviors, but then did some things to make a huge upgrade to executive presence and see good results?

Harrison Monarth
Yes, I can. I had a client not too long ago who was at a management level in a company, and networking was something that she found distasteful. She didn’t like it. It was uncomfortable for her, and just generally reaching out to strangers. Considers herself an introvert and, generally, just uncomfortable with engaging people that she had no business reason to engage.

And so, what I helped her with, a couple things, number one is changing her mindset to basically say, “Look, what can I contribute to the person, to the company, to the organization that would be of value?” So, this one important shift in terms of how to even get out of your shell or think about yourself not by way of grabbing or self-promoting, but to actually contribute value.

The other part was what I talked about, helping her create a stakeholder map. So, creating a visual representation of where people are in the company and who has influence, who is someone that could help you get things done, who is somebody that can help you do better at your job, hit the ground running if you’re new in the job, and, basically, contribute value more quickly.

Once you have those people, once you have a map like this, once you have a good overview of who’s who in the organization, then you obviously need to engage and have substantive, hopefully interesting, conversations. And I think this is where a lot of people have shied away. They are worried that they have nothing in common with the person, that they are at too low a level, let’s say, they’re relatively new in their career, new at the company, “What would that person want to talk about with me?”

And so, what I asked her to do in this case is I asked her what she would be genuinely curious about if she were stuck in an elevator with that person for two hours, “What would you talk about? What would you ask that person that you’re genuinely curious about?” And so, it kind of broke it down for her, and she really thought genuinely about, “Okay, I would want to know this. I would want to know what is the person thinking about our division, or my job, my role, how we could most contribute value, what challenges that they have in a similar role or at a different part of the company.”

There were so many questions that she herself generated after a while, and then she felt very confident all of a sudden to there was no status differential, all of a sudden. It was just, “How can I connect with that leader in a way that I show that I’m genuinely interested in them but so I can learn from them as well?” So, that’s one of the ways I helped, and it made a huge difference for her because, obviously, she uses that now to engage with others that she really has no business reason to connect with.

Pete Mockaitis
Excellent. So, I’m curious, if we’re going to put forth some effort into developing executive presence, what might you suggest as some top high-leverage starting points in that they need development for a lot of people, and it’s relatively easy to do something about it, in terms of, “Well, just videotape yourself a couple of times, and you’ll stop doing that, bada bing”? Are there any kinds of domains and practices that have a really strong bang for the buck there?

Harrison Monarth
Yes. I’m looking at this as building it from the ground up, because, first of all, again, we’re all a mixed bag. We’re strong in some areas, we’re not so strong in other areas. And so, my recommendation is always to get feedback, first of all. And I ask people two questions. Number one, and to use these questions with others that know them, that can actually make comments, “What do you appreciate about me? How do you perceive me?” number one.

And the second question is, “What would make me even stronger?” And the first question is somewhat open, it’s “How am I perceived? How do you perceive me?” People will generally, because it’s not anonymous, they’re telling you face to face, generally speaking, they’re going to tell you a lot of nice things about you, the things they actually like about you, that they appreciate about you, that make you strong, which is great, but you also need to know what could potentially hold you back.

So, I coach them and ask them the second question in a very specific way, and not, “What are my blind spots?” not “What am I not doing well?” or, “What could I be doing better?” All of these things put the other person in sort of a negative mind space. It puts them into criticizing mode, and nobody wants to criticize you face to face.

And so, what people do like to do, rather than give negative feedback, is they like to give advice, and that’s why I would like to give keep second question, I tell them keep it very positive. Instead of saying, “What are my blind spots? Or, what am I not doing well?” first, I’d tell them, “Thank them for all the nice things they just said about you, because they probably did.” And then you say, “Now, what would make me even stronger?

And the word even is so important because the premise here is that, “Well, you just told me a lot of nice things that I’m strong in these areas. Now, what would make me even stronger?” That will then allow the other person to keep it very positive to actually give you advice. So, for instance, if somebody thinks you’re a micromanager, or that you’re too controlling, had you asked, “What am I not doing well?” chances are they probably wouldn’t have told you the truth, or they might’ve sugarcoated it so much that it would’ve been too vague.

And so, if they do feel though that you’re a little bit of a micromanager, simply by asking the question, “Now, what would make me even stronger?” they could say to you, “Well, if you give people a little bit more autonomy at work, how they arrange their projects, how they set up their time in order to get the results you need and get the work done, that might make them more engaged, and that might increase their productivity, so give them a little more autonomy.” They just told you the exact same thing, and gave you advice rather than criticize you for being a micromanager.

So, I think you start there. You get feedback first. And you said, “Well, what are some quick bang for the buck, basically?” I would say something that anyone can do. So, this will give you an idea of what you need to work on. But I always tell people, whether you’re an introvert, whether you’re shy, whether you’re generally more quiet, these people are typically thinkers, contributing your perspective, your ideas in a meeting is probably the number one thing that could move you up in people’s minds as somebody who’s contributing value and somebody who’s engaged and wants to contribute to solutions and challenges and help solve challenges.

Speaking up, that’s something anyone can do, once we get over the discomfort of doing so, but it’s something that can give you influence almost instantly. And too often, people are just hanging back.

Pete Mockaitis
You know, I’m having flashbacks, Harrison, to in high school and college, my Model United Nations days, going to conferences, pretending to represent different countries. And there was a guy, shout out to Robbie Clayber, if he ever listens to the show, who I just got a chapter started in my high school, and he won a lot of awards for being an outstanding representative.

And it’s like, “So, what’s the trick?” He’s like, “Honestly, just keep going up to the microphone and talking.” I was like, “But what if you don’t have anything smart or insightful or worthwhile to say?” And he said, “It doesn’t even matter. Just the more you get up and say stuff at the microphone,” that’s how he won all these best delegate awards.

And I thought that seemed off, but then in my experiences, as I was watching it happen, too, yes, the exact same pattern played out. Now, life is not exactly, or business careers are not exactly a Model United Nations conference for a high school or college student, but I think some of the same principles apply in that just talk more, and, hopefully, it’s value-added so you’re not just wasting everybody’s time.

But, Harrison, if anyone has concerns that, “Oh, I don’t know if what I have to say is that insightful or worthwhile in speaking up,” do you have any pro tips on either overcoming that resistance, or a quick way you can do an internal safety check, like, “Yup, that is a worthwhile contribution” versus, “No, folks will probably roll their eyes internally and wish I would shut up?”

Harrison Monarth
By the way, there are studies, there are a number of studies from the Haas School of Business, for instance, that showed that in small and medium-sized groups, speaking up and contributing your perspective makes other people see you as having leadership, potential leadership qualities, they see you as influential, and then other studies confirm that as well, and even see you as more competent, by the way, even if you don’t always get the answers right. They just see you as more competent to lead because you’re seen as hardworking, as contributing, again, to solutions, as one that could make a difference to the team. So, there are some great qualities.

But, to your point, “So, what if I feel like I just don’t have anything to add?” So, I’m going to give you the light version, and then I’m going to give you the power version. The light version is, think about, “Why are you there? What’s the point of you even being in this meeting?” And, hopefully, you’ve thought about this beforehand.

And if you haven’t, then maybe you learn a lesson that next time you do think about “Why am I there? What questions do I want to ask? What do I need to find out? What’s the objective? What are we trying to accomplish? Are we trying to solve a problem? Are we trying to brainstorm? Are we trying to come to a decision or discuss, get to a consensus?”

There is obviously some sort of objective. And if there isn’t one, or if you don’t know what the objective is, ask other people, “What are we trying to do here?” and then think about why you, why are you there, and then, hopefully, you can connect the dots there. But generally, I say prepare for these meetings even if you feel, maybe you’re new, and you don’t have anything super relevant to add. Well, you could probably ask some good questions. So, think about what those questions are.

And then you might actually be the person, those meetings often go off the rails, people start rambling, they go all over the place, they go down rabbit holes and start talking about things that really had nothing to do with the meeting objective. So, you could be the person that brings everybody back on track, and say, “Hey, weren’t we trying to decide between A and B? We’re really just going way off of that, so here’s what I would like to add to that discussion.”

And so, there are lots of different things if you prepare, ask questions, and make points, and point out maybe some things that others hadn’t thought about. But then the power version, I want to tell you a quick anecdote. So, I’ve done a lot of work for PepsiCo, and worked with some senior leaders on Indra Nooyi’s leadership team.

And an anecdote that I thought was just incredibly inspiring from her was when Indra Nooyi was a consultant for Boston Consulting in the 1980s, from there she was hired to become the head of strategy for Motorola’s automotive electronics division. And in one of her first executive-level staff meetings, she said she was completely out of her depth.

So, they were talking about two things that she didn’t really have much of a clue about: cars and electronics. And so, she said that based on her skill and experience as a consultant, she could’ve asked smart questions and created a framework of understanding for herself and survived, but that she really wanted to make a difference as soon as possible, make a contribution, have an impact on the business.

And so, what she did, in order to be able to contribute, she hired two professors as tutors for herself, on her own. So, she hired an electronics professor who would teach her about electronics from a thick electronics textbook, and then an automotive technology professor, somebody from the automotive technology college, to teach her about the inner workings of a car. And she would do that for an entire year.

So, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, she would have two hours of electronics tutoring from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m., and then the rest of the week, Thursday, Friday, somebody from the automotive college would stop by and help her, for an entire year. And she said it was extremely hard, but think about it, the impact that had on the others around her and her understanding of subject matter and of being able to connect the dots, to me, that’s another level of wanting to make an impact and wanting to contribute value that that’s up to us.

We have to think about where, “What time can I carve out? Where am I willing to make some sacrifices, of tradeoffs to develop my understanding of things, my expertise?”

Pete Mockaitis
That’s powerful. And I’ve heard it said here a couple times that if you read the top five relevant books to your field, you’ll be more knowledgeable than 90 plus percent of the people in that domain. And I think that varies by domain, but I think that’s often rather true, that it may not take ten hours of one-on-one professor-tutorial a week for 15 plus weeks to pull it off. It might take 16 hours of reading over a couple of months, and, bam, there you are having some knowledgeable perspective.

Harrison Monarth
Yeah, I totally agree with that. And I think and then you decide how much further you want to go. And you’ll see, “Do you have an impact? Are you making a difference?” And I agree with you that you don’t have to necessarily have the 10,000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell talks about becoming an expert at something, or a master at something. I think small steps, like you said, reading a couple of books on the topic, reading insights and papers and articles can make a huge difference already.

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

Harrison Monarth
No, I would say the idea of getting feedback, understanding, having developing your internal self-awareness, external self-awareness, how you show up to the world, and then deciding, “What do I need to work on?” is a great foundation to, then, increase your executive presence.

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

Harrison Monarth
There’s a quote by George Bernard Shaw who said that, “Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

Pete Mockaitis
Lovely.

Harrison Monarth
And I think that’s powerful because it puts the control in your hands.

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

Harrison Monarth
Francesca Gino, a few years ago, led a study with Adam Grant on gratitude, the power of gratitude. And they found that, aside from Gallup also found that showing gratitude, managers showing gratitude to employees can boost productivity by 5% to 10%, people feeling appreciated by their managers, being more engaged at work, and being happier at work. So, I love that study because it just reinforces something that we all intuitively know, I think.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And could you share a favorite book?

Harrison Monarth
As a matter of fact, right in front of me, it’s called Daily Rituals. Daily Rituals by.. oh, Mason Currey. And it just talks about rituals that famous artists, composers, painters, writers, have had, and it’s full of failures.

So, the book is full of how these people tried to get out of work, tried to avoid work, procrastinated, but then found themselves still producing masterpieces and great works. And I think it just sort of humanizes them, and it makes you feel less like a loser if you don’t feel like getting off the couch for a full day.

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

Harrison Monarth
For me, a favorite tool is reframing, so reframing things. I think the power of reframing, looking at things from different perspectives, first, it makes you calmer. Taking different viewpoints on something because there’s so much that stresses us out, but if we’re able to put things in proper perspective, reframe them in not just one different way or look at one different perspective, but look at it from many different perspectives, it makes you calmer and it actually helps you find solutions. It opens your mind to other approaches.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And is there a key nugget you share that seems to connect and resonate with folks; they quote it back to you often?

Harrison Monarth
A key nugget. Well, actually, to be honest with you, it’s connected to that, it is this looking at things in a different way. And one thing that people often either cite or remind me of that I’ve talked about at a workshop or in a coaching session is this idea of rather than thinking of yourself, think about others and how you can contribute value to others will make a lot of things easier from speaking up to networking, to increasing visibility, to getting involved with people and things. That just the idea of looking at it from the perspective of “I’d like to make a contribution. I’d like to contribute value” has a huge impact on our willingness, our motivation, to actually go out and do it.

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

Harrison Monarth
LinkedIn is a great way. I’m on LinkedIn. Certainly, we have our website, GuruMaker.com, but LinkedIn, I post on LinkedIn not as often as I’d like but, yeah, messaging on LinkedIn and just connecting that way and staying in touch that way is great.

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

Harrison Monarth
Yes. I would say a challenge would be, and this is often I give challenge in the workshop, I would say pick six people that know you, have worked with you maybe, or working with you, ask them the two questions, “How am I perceived?” Wait for the nice answers and maybe they’ll tell you something interesting. And then the second question, “Now, what would make me even stronger?” and listen, wait for the answers, be grateful for the answers. Probe if you want to have clarity, and then you have something that you can work on, potentially, to make you even more effective and even stronger.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. Harrison, this has been a treat. Thank you. I wish you much fun and success and executive presence.

Harrison Monarth
Thank you very much. Pleasure talking to you.

755: How to Market Yourself to Maximize Career Opportunities with Diana Chan

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Diana Chan outlines best practices for improving your career prospects by marketing yourself well.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The biggest networking mistakes professionals make  
  2. The real first step to any successful job hunt
  3. The right way to answer, “Tell me more about yourself”

About Diana

Diana YK Chan is a former Recruiter turned Executive Career Coach, Speaker and Trainer at My Marketability. Her mission is to empower you to own your greatness with confidence to shine and thrive in your career. She’s recognized as LinkedIn Top Voice in 2022 for Job Search & Careers, where she’s known for differentiating your personal brand, building strong relationships, and communicating with confidence. Diana is the Creator of Top Talent Academy, where she’s coached thousands of clients globally on how to stand out, get hired and earn more. She’s the host of the “Dare to Differentiate” live show on LinkedIn and YouTube.

Resources Mentioned

Diana Chan Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Diana, welcome to How to be Awesome at Your Job.

Diana Chan
Hey, Pete, I’m so delighted to be here. Thank you so much for having me.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, thank you. Well, I’m delighted to have you and I thought it was really fun that you mentioned that you were a listener in 2018 and my producers found you now, and I think that’s pretty cool.

Diana Chan
Yeah, I’m super excited to be here.

Pete Mockaitis
Lovely. Well, so we’re talking about job search stuff. Could you maybe kick us off with maybe a particularly surprising or counterintuitive or extra fascinating discovery you’ve made over the years about just what does it take to win in this job search world?

Diana Chan
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I’ve been helping thousands of job seekers, and since the pandemic, I’ve been seeing a lot of people pivoting. And one of the things that I really noticed is that it’s not about being the most qualified candidate, it’s about how you connect and communicate with the interviewer to convince them why you’re the ideal candidate with confidence. So, it’s not just about your qualifications but how do you show up to showcase that you are the one and how you can help them?

Pete Mockaitis
And so, that makes sense in terms of many people have probably had the experience of, “Oh, I’ve got all the right stuff. I’m checking the boxes, the skills, the experience, the knowledge,” and they may even be angry at the injustice, like, “I should have been selected but I wasn’t.” So, connection, we’re going to dig into that. But, while we’re here, anything, any top do’s or don’ts when it comes to connecting well?

Diana Chan
Yeah, I love that question. So, one of my networking tips I love to share is always my ABC’s. Always be connecting, always be curious, always be cultivating. And the way I look at the connection piece is that a lot of times, people neglect the networking piece until they need to look for a job, but you really want to look at connecting with people anytime because you just never know what opportunities may unfold along the way.

So, some of my best tips is really asking questions, getting curious, showcasing the curiosity that you’re really interested in them, showcase warmth as well, like this sincerity and authenticity to really connect, finding common interests. It really helps as well to build that trust and rapport instantly there.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool. And I guess I’d also love your take in terms of maybe zooming out a bit. Right now, allegedly, The Great Resignation is upon us, and we’re recording this in March of 2022, and it seems as though it is the employee’s market or more so than it has been before. First of all, is that a fair assessment or am I just repeating talking points that are false?

Diana Chan
You’re absolutely correct because millions of people have quit their jobs which means that employers are having a hard time to fill the vacant roles and the new roles there, so it is a candidate’s market right now. However, it’s also a very competitive market, meaning that not only, yes, there are these vacancies but this is where the whole personal branding comes in, that you need to really elevate your personal brand to differentiate and stand out and showcase not just your qualifications but what it is that you can really do for the employer.

How can you help them solve their problems? How can you really help them achieve their goals? One of the biggest or I guess newer things that I’ve been seeing right now, because I tend to work with a lot more seasonal professionals who have at least 10 to 20 years of experience and they’ve been in the same company for a long time. And what I’m seeing right now is that there are more new jobs being created that never existed before.

So, it is so important to be able to diversify your skillset to showcase the potential that you have to offer. So, for example, I’ve seen people, like I had a client who was a director in operations at a hospital in the ICU, and she made a pivot to work in long-term care. And she had a newly created role for her from the CEO where it was a combination of operations, strategic partnerships, and quality. So, it’s leveraging her background but also the need of the business of working for heading of how she can add value there.

Pete Mockaitis
What do we call that title?

Diana Chan
It’s like a combination of multiple traits.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, okay. Cool.

Diana Chan
It’s a newly created role. And I think when we look at it, there’s this need of your ability to be able to think strategically and work cross-functionally, understand multiple different areas of the businesses there.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I love it. We’re already getting into some juicy how’s and tips and tricks. Maybe to kick us off though, could you share a why in terms of why do we want to always be connecting if we feel like, “Hey, this job is working out okay”? Could you give us a story or some research, some inspiration that can get us in the mode of, indeed, always be connecting and branding and doing this stuff?

Diana Chan
Yeah, absolutely. So, the way I like to think about it, and I’ll tie this connecting and branding together, I talk about the importance of personal branding. It’s really going to help. It’s all about who you are, how you’re perceived, and what’s your promise in terms of your value proposition. When you have a strong brand and you also add that with connecting with people, it’s going to add more credibility. And when you have more credibility, it’s also going to increase your marketability which is a result that’s going to help you get more opportunities as well.

And so, when you connect with more people, and when I think of connecting with people, it’s not just about you getting something from them, but I talk a lot about give, give, give before you get. So, the more you add value and help others, people are going to remember you. So, I’ll just give an example is I used to work as a former recruiter. And one of the things I love that not a lot of people do that stand out is when the candidates I reached out to that are not the right fit but they refer other people in their network to me, and I always remember these people because not a lot of people do that.

And it’s this whole pay it forward where the more you do it, the more people are going to remember you. So, for me, in my instances, I love also referring all sorts of people in my network. If I know a client that’s a good fit for a role, or someone I know, an employer that’s filling this role, I’ll make an introduction. And the least I can do is maybe open some doors. I can’t guarantee the job but at least it opens doors to opportunities. And by doing that, you’re going to build this trust, essentially, so when it comes to asking for a favor down the road, people are more likely to say yes because you have built this credibility there.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s powerful. And so, you’re saying you were the recruiter, you interviewed candidates, you told the candidates no, and they still brought you…

Diana Chan
No, no, they said no to me. Yeah, both ways. I’ve done that, too. I have rejected candidates. Actually, when I was at Google, I’ve rejected more people than accepted. And some people are just really good at relationship building that they referred me other people. And there’s the other way around where they didn’t…it was not a right fit for them that they rejected me but then they recommended others in their network to me. And I always remember these people because we’re talking like probably just 1% or 2% of the people who actually do that.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s true. It’s rare and it’s special and you remember. And so, you’ve got a broad network of people who are looking to help you out, you increase your opportunities. And then I guess I’m thinking specifically because I’ve learned that most of my listeners, go figure, like their jobs, and I’m not trying to say, “Quit your job.” But I think that it can be quite possible to get comfortable, which is not always a bad thing, sometimes you just really want to be in that groove, and yet I think that it’s in our interests to be connecting and to have an eye open.

And I’m curious, like I heard some stat, and maybe you’ll know it better than I, that most of us…maybe I heard it from Ramit Sethi, it’s like most of us are being underpaid by, I don’t know, 10% or some amount. And, I don’t know, first of all, do you think that’s true or just how much opportunity do you think we leave on the table by not keeping our eyes open?

Diana Chan
I think you leave a lot, and this is because we don’t manage our brand or manage our network, you’re not being known, you’re not being seen, so the marketability and feasibility and credibility is lacking there, so people may forget about you if you don’t have that. So, you mentioned like your listeners here, like they love their job.

And one of the common things I see, because I work with a lot of people who either have been at the same company, say, a decade or 20 years, and they face a restructuring, or they got a package, and they need to start fresh. A lot of times they don’t know where to start. And the common thing I hear is that they have not worked on building their external network, which is understandable because they put all their time and effort in their internal company here.

But one thing I talk about is you don’t want to wait till the time when you need to look for a job to start networking. You can start even networking with people internally or people you know who made a jump externally to stay in touch with them because if you have this relationship and they’re hiring down the road, they are going to keep you in mind.

And as you move up in the company, let’s just imagine you get to this VP level or SVP level, there’s going to be less and less of those openings. And oftentimes, and I see this a lot with my clients, is a lot of times they find an opportunity to uncover new opportunities a lot faster because of networking or they are referred by other people.

Study shows that you’re five times more likely to get hired through a referral. And when you have these relationships, doors just open. I have seen where clients, the difference between an executive-level client where they have a strong external network that normally takes at least six months maybe to a year to find a VP level and above, to someone landing in couple of months, two to three months, because they were able to tap into their network there.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, I thought that’s a really compelling argument right there in terms of it seems obvious but I guess I haven’t really thought about it until you’ve really said it just now that if just imagine an organizational chart, I got an org chart and the boxes and they’re cascading down, like there are far more individual contributor roles than there are manager roles; and there are far more manager roles than there are director roles; and there are far more director roles than there are VP roles; and far more VP roles than there are C-suite roles; and far more C-suite roles than there are CEO roles.

So, that’s just sort of the basics of spans and layers and mathematics and how that works out. And, thusly, if you are on a cool trajectory, you’re learning, you’re growing, you’re being promoted, indeed, there will come a day in which it’s like, “Oh, shoot, there’s not very many spots left.

So, there are not many opportunities left, and it’s like, I don’t know, someone needs to die or retire, and that might be years before that happens kind of a situation. And so, if you are ahead of the game with your networks and your people, your connections, then you’ll have a much easier time making the leap into the upper echelons when there aren’t as many spots available for you. That makes good sense. Thank you.

Diana Chan
Yeah, and I think that there’s going to be a time where people will hit either a plateau in their career where they either feel like they hit their ceiling or there aren’t really that many opportunities, or things are not just as challenging anymore and they want to consider something new. One thing I can say to your listeners, from my experience, is that if you are either looking to make that bigger leap of either greater responsibilities or greater income, I should talk about the tangible results of the greater income, I know from experience you’re more likely to get a five to six-figure jump of salary by making an external jump than internally.

Pete Mockaitis
A five to six what?

Diana Chan
Five to six figures more than before by making an external jump than an internal promotion.

Pete Mockaitis
More? So, you were thinking, “Okay. Hey, I’m a manager at,” we’ll just say a cola company, “and maybe I could be promoted to a director of a cola company.” You’re saying that if I were to go become a director at a competitive cola company, I would expect to get not just an increase in compensation, which I should get, I’m being promoted anyway, but rather $10,000 to $100,000 extra on top of bigger bump just because I went external.

Diana Chan
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s huge. Okay.

Diana Chan
It is huge. Like, internally, when you think about it, the typical pay raise is between 3%, 5% maybe 7%.

Pete Mockaitis
Like, an annual, like I’m sticking around doing the same thing.

Diana Chan
An annual increase, right. That’s like the typical type there. Like, I’ll give an example. I had a client, even not at a senior manager level, senior manager client in product management at a telecommunications company. He made a jump to fintech, a financial technology company, and it’s like a growing startup. His salary increased by 40% and received a five-figure signing bonus.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Diana Chan
At the similar level, the senior manager level.

Pete Mockaitis
Alrighty. There you go.

Diana Chan
And so, if you can imagine for those who are making the next-level jump, even a title jump, what the possibility. Now, I can’t say this is a guarantee, but right now, because it’s a candidate’s market, and if you are really good at what you do, you have a great reputation, you have a great track record of success, you have really great skillsets that’s in demand right now, you have higher negotiation power.

I’ll give you another great example, like literally just happened to my other client, a more junior-level client, a senior business system analyst. So, a more technical role and a Salesforce type of a role there. The employer offered a number but he also had another offer elsewhere that was paying more. And so, he went back to negotiate, and say like, “Hey, they’re offering like a 100K and you’re offering me 75K. What can you do?” That’s a 25K difference, right?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Diana Chan
Within a couple of hours, this employer got back with him with a $25,000 more plus another 10K signing bonus.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. That’ll do it. Cool. Well, that’s exciting, the opportunities. Thank you. So, I think we’ve built a nice strong why there with regard to whether you want to, and whether it’s in the future by years, you get ahead of it, or you might be surprised to learn that there’s a big opportunity that you’re just not even aware of available to you right now. By doing the stuff, you increase the odds of you being able to seize that and benefit.

So, let’s talk about some of the goods here when it comes to connecting. Can you share with us a few of your best and worst practices when it comes to growing a large and meaningful professional network?

Diana Chan
Yeah. So, one of the things with networking is, first, we ought to really focus on give, give, give before we get. So, I think that’s the first thing in terms of building your network, is think about, “How can I add value to other people?” And this is where you can really think about, like, “What expertise do I have? What am I passionate about? Who do I like to support there when I think from that perspective?”

And then from there, if we’re thinking of, “Well, what type of network do I want to build?” This is where you want to map out the qualities or people that you want to learn. One of the tools I love using to build my network is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a fantastic tool to build your network, stay in touch with people, and it’s also a great way for you to share your expertise, to build your credibility, and authority as well.

So, over time, the more you start, essentially, giving back or helping each other out, your network is just going to increase. So, for example, like I’m connected to hundreds of recruiters on my LinkedIn and because I started off also working as a recruiter, and over time, you just meet other recruiters as well to learn about best practices. A great way to meet other people is find other people who are doing similar work as you but in a different industry to share best practices. That is a great strategy.

I have some of my very senior-level clients where they spend a lot of time in the same company, and the way they approach networking is think of how they can share best practices to help each other out there. So, that’s another great way to build a network.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s super. Okay. And so, when it comes to sharing, you can share with people that you already know in terms of give, give, give and so that they, “Boy, Diana is so swell. She always has all kinds of insightful great things that I’m so glad to know about.” So, you can do give, give give. And then when it comes to meeting them new people, how do you recommend we do that?

Diana Chan
Yeah, I love this. So, this all starts with really building the trust and rapport. And the way I like to think about it, even if we dropped careers and job search aside. Let’s just imagine we’re meeting someone new, how do you go about doing that? The key here is really finding the mutual common interests that you have.

I’ll give you a very simple example. This was a couple of years ago when I went on a cruise, so this was pre-pandemic. Pre-pandemic, you meet a lot of strangers on a cruise, and I met this family where my kid was playing with their child, and we were just standing there beside each other, and I tried to spark a conversation. And I noticed the father was wearing the Raptors T-shirt, the basketball shirt, and I could tell that he was from Canada, being from Toronto.

And that’s how I started a conversation, I was like, “Oh, I see that you’re wearing a Raptors shirt,” and we were able to start talking about a little bit of basketball, a little bit of where we’re from, what we do and all that. And just from that, we were able to actually exchange contacts at the end of the very short, like a 15, 20-minute conversation that we would like to connect further there. So, that’s one example of connecting, is building that trust and rapport by finding a common interest.

Another, let’s just imagine, like going to, let’s say, a wedding, going to a wedding there. One of the common things is that we all know the couple, so that’s a great way to bond with each other. I also believe that the way to connect a big part is really showcasing warmth and curiosity. And you just never know by just doing this, just by being genuine yourself, what opportunities may open up.

One of the examples that I love sharing is actually this was many years ago at a wedding. The emcee which was a sibling of the groom, she had fantastic energy and warmth and enthusiasm that it was just very captivating. Like, she got the entire crowd going there. And I knew that she was a new grad, I knew from my friend that she was a new grad, that she was graduating and she’s looking for a job.

And I remember, like she made this instant impression on me that I actually said to my husband that, “She would be fantastic for your new-grad leadership program at your company.” And long story short, I referred her to the company, and she got hired. And to this day, she’s still at the company.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. That’s cool. Just working on the microphone at a wedding.

Diana Chan
Like, this is what I call opportunities that you don’t even think about that you can actually land a job by really showcasing your best self.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s beautiful. Okay, cool. So, that’s some of the connecting piece. Can you dig a bit more into some of our personal brand, professional story, unique value proposition, kinds of self-knowledge and representation pieces? How do we, I guess, get that clarity first of all? And then how do you recommend we write it up or what do we do with that?

Diana Chan
Yeah, that’s a big question and I’m going to break it down. I’m going to break it down from the clarity piece and then I’ll move into the branding piece. So, that’s part of a lot of work I do is really helping people get clear of who they are, what they want, what’s important to you. When you have clarity, you have more courage and confidence to pursue whatever you want and you come across as a much more compelling communicator.

So, the first step is really knowing, like, “What are my core strengths? What are my interests? What are my core values?” When you can even get clear on strengths, interests, and values, it becomes your guiding compass of what kind of opportunities that you want to pursue, and it becomes your selection criteria as well in evaluating opportunities.

So, the first step is always soul searching before job searching. I find the common mistake people make is that they jump right into job searching, updating their resume and LinkedIn profile before even getting clear on what their target is. And I have found that when you’re not clear on what you’re targeting, your messages, your brand, the way you communicate, it’s not compelling or convincing enough. So, that’s really the first step. It really pays off by doing that soul-searching work.

And I have found by doing that, for those who want to, say, make a pivot, pivot into a different industry, a different profession, it’s really going to help them with updating and finetuning the next stage which is the personal branding. I’m really passionate about personal branding because my belief is that when you elevate your personal brand, you, essentially, increase your marketability, which is ability to attract more opportunities, and your ability to increase your earning potential. So, the greater your brand, the greater your market value, which is aka your earning potential there.

And so, this whole personal branding piece is really what I love to do as a coach, is essentially identifying what differentiates you. What differentiates you? What your unique selling points? So, I have my five P’s that I guide my clients through when it comes to defining their personal brand. And so, the first, and I’ll walk your audience through here, the five P’s here.

The first is the product, which is seeing yourself as a product. So, you want to think about your features. What are your strengths? What are your skills? What’s your personality, your expertise, your interests? All those things that you want to identify, like really just getting clarity on that. If you’re not clear on what your strengths are, you can take a test called the Gallup Assessment, which is a StrengthsFinder in identifying your top five strengths.

The second P is the potential, which is really your performance and results. So, this is what I call the track record of success. This is like the proof point. Employers love to see your track record of success there. So, really mapping out all these accomplishments of yours and all these performance reviews and results is really going to help you tell a compelling story.

And then the third P is the perception, which is how others see you. This is your reputation. And what you can do if you’re not sure is to send out a survey to your friends, your colleagues, your boss, and at least 25 to 30 people. Ask them questions, like, what words will they use to describe you, what are your core strengths, what value do you bring, how do they describe your leadership style or communication style.

And I find that when my clients do this exercise, it’s always very eye opening because it helps them see, like, “Oh, this is how I’m perceived, and these are the things that I want to amplify,” if that’s really true to you. So, an example, one of the core words people always tell me is that I’m always very high energy, very passionate with what I do, so the way I show up, I want to reflect that as well.

And the fourth one is positioning. So, this is around the messaging, which is really how you craft out your unique value proposition. This is where you want to think of, essentially, like your personal branding statement, your top three unique selling points. I believe in selling yourself in three points because that’s how you become more memorable. This is where you can come up with the benefits of hiring you, like, what are the benefits are there. So, really thinking of it from the employer question point.

And then lastly, the last P, which is packaging. So, this is the whole how you present yourself, how you want to show up online, on camera, the whole in terms of your brand, style, your tone of voice, all those things tied to the five P’s. So, when you walk through these five steps of the five P’s of personal branding, it’s really going to help you then elevate all your other marketing materials. Like, you think of the resume, the LinkedIn profile, your elevator pitch, everything is going to tie back to your personal brand.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s fun. It’s funny, when you said the P’s, I was like, “Oh, product, place, price, promotion.” Then we started with product, I was like, “Really?” So, then, okay, I got you now. So, packaging, that’s interesting. So, that could very much be the things like what you’re wearing, your resume design. And I like that in that what I like about your framework is, one, it’s alliterative so I can remember it. So, thank you. Five P’s.

And, two, it’s like resume formatting and clothing stuff is not the end-all-be-all but it matters. It is one of the five. And so, I like that because, as you said, it’s tempting to go right for the, “Ahh, let’s jump right to the job hunting.” And you said, we want to do soul searching before job searching. Nice turn of a phrase. Thank you. So, that’s excellent.

So, now, I’m curious, with regard to packaging, I think there are some easy things with regard, “Don’t have crazy fonts in your resume. Look professional. Don’t have your LinkedIn photo be shirtless or bikini, unless you’re a model.” That’s what you’re trying to represent specifically, like, “Look how I’m beautiful. You should hire me to promote your products.”

But I guess where I’m thinking most about is positioning, with the personal branding statement, the three steps, the benefits. Please, let’s dig deep into this.

Diana Chan
Sure. This takes time. This is an exercise where it takes a lot of time for people to do. Maybe we can go into the branding statement because that’s usually the arc of the rest of the things, the benefit statements there.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure. Let’s do it.

Diana Chan
So, I can share, when we think of personal branding statement, essentially, it’s a short and sweet sound bite that is the anchor of defining who you are, what you bring to the table. That’s what it really is. And I see that as like an arc that helps set the tone and stage of the rest of your content. It can also be used as like a very simple one-liner intro when you’re introducing yourself. You can have it at the top of your LinkedIn bio statement or the tagline. It can also be part of like your top statement in your resume as well. So, you can come up with that and then just tweak it accordingly.

So, I’ll share with you, I guess, some of the guiding principles, say, like if you ask, like what are some things you want to avoid is you want to avoid being fluffy in terms of just having descriptive words that is being fluffy. You really want to focus on, essentially, impact. Like, what is the value that you really bring to the table?

So, I’ll give you an example for myself, what I’ve created is I’ll say something like, “I’m a personal branding marketer for corporate leaders and executives in career transition. I’m known for identifying your unique value, mastering your messages, and communicating with confidence to stand out, get hired, and earn more.”

So, you see what I created here is you have the title, the title of what you do in terms of your profession, and then who I serve, I’m serving those corporate leaders in transition which is like the specific scenario that they’re in, and then you can use, “I’m known for,” “I have a track record of success in,” and you either identify like one to three of these value prop statements that is, essentially, more employer-focused or what someone wants to achieve.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. Now, so this can land in the summary of our resume. It can land as the top…well, let’s see. I guess we have a character limit in the LinkedIn…

Diana Chan
Tagline? Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
…tagline. So, that could be the personal branding marketing bit.

Diana Chan
What you can do shorten it is I can help you here. If you think of LinkedIn, yes, the tagline is short. So, what I can say is, “I help you stand out, get hired, and earn more.”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So, that’s there. But then in your description, you can go into the whole bit.

Diana Chan
Exactly. Exactly. So, you can shorten it in the tagline that way.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, so that was great. I’m thinking more, more, more. Could you give us some more great examples and then maybe some disappointing examples, and tell us, “Hmm, what’s a little bit off here?”

Diana Chan
I’ll give another one. How about if I have a poor example one right now? I have another one, it’s a marketing person as well, “I’m an analytical marketing leader with a proven track record of managing successful marketing campaigns, and deriving insights from data to drive business growth.” So, in this example, we described this person as an analytical marketing leader.

In some instances, they like to have people who are analytical type of roles. In this case, we talked about managing successful marketing campaigns and deriving insights from data to drive business growth. So, we know that this someone is a good data-driven marketer, essentially, in simple terms. A data-driven marketer.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. So, that was fun when it comes to recruiting or marketing or coaching. How about something in like project management?

Diana Chan
That’s a great question. So, one of the tips I want to offer the audience, because I know many of you have different professions, different area of expertise, the way I want to coach you to really think about it is, one, think about the words that will describe you, and, second is really thinking back about what’s the main mandate of what you do and what’s the significance or the importance of the work that you do.

So, if you can just ask yourself those questions, it’s like, “I help drive…” Is it revenue, if you work in sales? Or, if I’m in accounting, “I help ensure things are accurate.” Or, if I’m marketing, that, “I help drive market share.” You want to just get clear on what are those metrics there. So, let me give you an example around project management.

An example could be, “I’m a strategic project manager with proven success, driving multifaceted software implementation projects that spark incredible results and ROI for my clients.” So, this is like something short and sweet. You can go deeper if you like to have more numbers, but at least, at a very high level, you’re going getting clear on, okay, you worked on software projects that help with driving an ROI for your clients. So, that already gives a hint to someone that you could be maybe in a role that you worked with clients in a consulting role but in a project management capacity.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s handy. And then that gets you thinking in terms of…I guess there’s always this delicate dance between we want more detail versus being succinct because it’s sort of like, “Oh, incredible results and ROI. I’m thinking was it more on the cost-reduction side or more on the revenue-generation side?” And then you can sort of…I guess that’s why people hire you is to really get into the, “Oh, the tradeoffs associated with…is it going to take me 20 words to describe the cool what incredible result means in my world or is it so varied that we’re going to have to leave it at that?”

Diana Chan
Yeah, yeah. Well, so one of the things I want to point out for the listeners who are listening to this is this is a sound bite, so meaning it’s like short and sweet and punchy. It’s a little different when you’re supposed to talk, come up with your elevator pitch, that common question of, “Tell me about yourself.” It’s a build-on to that. So, if you get a question in an interview, “Tell me about yourself,” don’t just use this one-liner sound bite. Make sure that you go more in depth, and this is where I guide people through another form of helping them crack out their two-minute elevator pitch there.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, tell us about that.

Diana Chan
I knew that was coming. Yeah, the elevator pitch is something I love working with people. I have a course called Master Your Glowing Introduction, and it’s my popular six P’s. I have another six P’s that I guide clients through there. And so, it’s broken down into three paragraphs. The first is, essentially, the who you are piece. So, think of your passion, that’s where the first P is your passion. What do you care about?

And the second P is, essentially, the potential. What are you known for? Think of your strengths. So, that gives a really good sense of who you are. Most people tend to just start off with a chronological order of when they finished school and throughout their entire career history. But if you start with this of what you care about and what you’re good at, it’s going to pique interests.

And then second paragraph, essentially, is your credibility, which is the third P of your past experience and your proud accomplishments. So, this is going to give credibility because you’re going to share with them a summary of your experience. So, instead of just listing out every single job that you had, you really want to think of a summary of years of experience in this industry, in these functional areas that you’ve worked in, and then highlight some of the problems or projects that you’ve worked, that you’ve done.

And then come up with a good story because no one else is going to have this proud accomplishment story the same as you so you want to think of something that you’re really proud of that’s going to become more memorable.

And then to close, which is the third paragraph, is the fifth P is present. You want to bring it back to the present of, “What are you looking for now? What’s next? Why are you looking for a change?” Or, bring it back if you’re going for an interview, like, “Why are we talking here?” And the other P is purpose. If you’re trying to sell yourself, you want to talk about why you, “Why do you believe you’re the best candidate for this opportunity? Or, why do you believe you’re going to be successful for this job?”

So, just by following this formula, it’s going to give you, essentially, when you think about it, a bit of who you are, what’s your track record of success, your motivation of what you want, and why you want it. And I can tell you from experience, every time I do this exercise with people, without them having any knowledge of the six P’s, all they talk about is what they’ve done since they’ve finished school.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Well, so that sounds nice. So, that’s about two minutes altogether?

Diana Chan
Yes, two minutes.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Well, Diana, tell us, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Diana Chan
Now, one thing I do want though, since we’re on this topic, is we can maybe talk about is for those who are looking to pivot or looking to make a change, how they can go about doing that, what are some of the things they can do to help them with that. So, for those who are really feeling either stuck or at a crossroads, how to go about figuring out what’s next, there are a few pieces of advice I would offer.

One is I talked about the soul searching before job searching. That’s the first piece, it’s really gaining that career clarity. Second is go conduct informational interviews, go talk to people to find out, “What does that day-to-day look like? What does it take to be successful? What are the challenges in that job?” When you get more intel and insight, it’s going to help you have better conversations there.

Third is, once you know what you want, create a reverse-engineer roadmap to figure out, “What are the steps it takes for me to get there?” So, may you want to even identify what are those options. Like, if you’re not clear on what you want yet, identifying, brainstorm these options out, and assess the pros and cons. You can talk to people, you can do research, whatever that is, it’s really going to help you gain more clarity there.

Once you have all this information and you’re really clear on what you’re going after next, this really all the steps that I do is like about repositioning. Repositioning your brand, figuring out what really differentiates you, what’s going to resonate with the audience, and then think about, “How am I going to update my LinkedIn profile, my elevator pitch, my resume?” to really tie it back to your brand that’s really going to make you stand out there.

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

Diana Chan
Well, one of my favorite quotes I love to say, a lot of my listeners like they do know, is, “Own your greatness with confidence to shine and thrive.” And what I mean by that is when you own your greatness and believe you have something valuable to offer, and you own it with your confidence, you’re more likely to shine, stand out, and reach your full potential and make a difference.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Now, could you share a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Diana Chan
Yeah. So, Vanessa Van Edwards, her book on Cues. Their research that was really fascinating was around how they studied 495 pitches on Shark Tank. And what they discovered, those who actually win or pitch or get the money from the Sharks are those who’ve demonstrated that high confidence and the high charisma, the warmth. I find that very, very fascinating.

And so, this is where it ties into the work I do, of what I said earlier of this podcast, is it’s not just about being the most qualified candidate. It’s about how you say what you say that’s going to win you as the ideal candidate to hire.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite book?

Diana Chan
My favorite book is Designing Your Life which is a great book for those who are not sure what they want to do next. That’s a great book to check out.

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

Diana Chan
LinkedIn, hands down. I love using LinkedIn on a daily basis to share content, share my expertise, connect with people, make new friends. I love doing that. And I also love just having my own show to connect with my audience.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite habit?

Diana Chan
Well, one thing I’ve been doing is actually having this morning ritual right now, is really making sure I’m taking care of myself, whether it’s taking my vitamins, taking all these healthy drinks, or having this quiet moment of meditation before I take my kids to school. Those are some things that I really want to feel grounded and start my day strong and fresh there.

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

Diana Chan
It’s the own your greatness. Own your greatness with confidence because you know why, Pete, is oftentimes when people come to me, they lack that confidence in selling themselves effectively. In order for you to reach that next-level role or get promoted, you really have to own your greatness with confidence to really reach those next-level opportunities.

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

Diana Chan
Yeah. So, what I would say is start tracking your accomplishments and results. If this is something you haven’t been doing, create a success file, start tracking your accomplishments that you’re proud of. And then I would encourage, for those who are not active yet on LinkedIn or have a bare bones profile on LinkedIn, I encourage you to create an awesome LinkedIn profile and to connect with me as well because that’s how you’re going to start building your network and attract more great opportunities there.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So, on LinkedIn, they just type Diana Chan, C-H-A-N, and there you are?

Diana Chan
They type in Diana YK Chan because there’s a ton of Diana Chan. Diana YK Chan, you’ll certainly find me there.

Pete Mockaitis
Perfect. Well, Diana, this has been a treat. I wish you all the best and keep up the great work.

Diana Chan
Thank you so much, Pete.

747: How to Build your Career with Extraordinary Mentors with Patrick Kilner

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Patrick Kilner reveals why traditional networking methods no longer work—and shares his simple process for expanding influence.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Why everyone needs to find six key relationships
  2. The simple secret to winning anyone over
  3. One question you should never ask—and another you should always ask

About Patrick

Pat Kilner has created and led three companies: two in the real estate space and one in the training world. He’s currently the CEO of the Kilner Companies which includes The Kilner & Kirk Group, The Indispensable Agent, and Tower Hill Enterprises. Pat is also the co-founder of the DC Accelerator, a young professional development non-profit. Pat serves on the boards of primary education initiatives and donates time to develop strategic plans for inner-city non-profits at the service of youth in the DC metro area. His companies support the special needs community in the DC areas as well as in Jamaica. He studied business and philosophy at The Catholic University of America and taught and studied economics at the Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, where he achieved a Master’s degree. Pat lives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC with his wife, Elena, and their children.

Resources Mentioned

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Patrick Kilner Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Pat, welcome to How to be Awesome at Your Job.

Patrick Kilner
Pete, it’s great to be here.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, Pat, I’m so excited to get into your wisdom of Find Your Six: Stop Lead Generating & Start Building Influence, which has plenty of applicability, not just for sales-type folks but anyone looking to build influence and have mentorship and good things flowing. But, first, we have to hear about your semi-pro athletic experience in Spain. What’s the story here?

Patrick Kilner
I played soccer undergrad, and I ended up having the opportunity to go and study in Pamplona, Spain, so running the bulls, which only happens, that’s a 10-day sort of event. That’s not what little Pamplona looks like all the time. But I was there, and the great news is there’s no NCAA in Spain but the university had a futsal team, which was just starting to make its way into the US at the time, futsal, but was really big in Brazil and Spain, and I’m looking for a way to get some exercise in, go try out for the team, and make the team.

And because there’s no NCAA, everything is semi-pro. There are just gradations of semi-pro, and this university team was a pretty high-level semi-pro team, and I didn’t even know what I was getting myself into, but that’s how I stumbled into it, is just through the extension of my academic career and being on a really cool campus, and friendships that led me to try out for this team. Total blast and learned some great new skills and meet some awesome friends in the process.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s beautiful. That’s beautiful. Well, we’re going to talk about building friends and allies and networking. Maybe to kick us off, could you share one of the most surprising, fascinating, counterintuitive discoveries you’ve made along the way when it comes to what we might call networking, what we might call relationship-building? What do you want to call it?

Patrick Kilner
Yeah. So, well, I want to talk about it as business development. So, every business needs to generate revenue, and what I want to propose to anybody who’s listening, regardless of whether you feel like you’re in the business development realm or not, is that you are contributing to that. You’re contributing to a business and its functioning, and so, in some ways, shape, or form, we’re all business developers.

And as I began researching this book, and frankly, actually before that, maybe I’ll tell a quick story about how I sort of stumbled upon this. I was teaching a class of entrepreneurs, business owners, business leaders, in the DC metro area, which is where I’m from, of about 40 people, and we’re doing a mid-year check in on their businesses.

And I said to them, “Okay, so you all had revenue goals. What are those goals? Six months ago, what did you set those goals at? Write that down.” Okay, they write that down. “Now, how are you trending towards those? We’re about six months in, how are you trending towards those goals? Write that number down. Now, you may have been a little bit overly optimistic at the beginning of the year, so that’s okay. We still have six months to catch up. Given that, what is the lead-generation tactic that you have in your back pocket that you can pull out and make that revenue come in the door.

I spoke about it specifically through the lens of lead generation at the time. And they all wrote that down. And I was treating this as sort of a mastermind. So, I said, “Okay, great. We’re going to get a few really good things here out of 40 people.” I said, “Okay. So, given that lead generation, I’m just curious, how many of you are really excited to do that lead generation, not just for the next six months but for the next three years every day, two hours a day, just go get it? Because I know that if you’re excited about what you’re doing, you’re going to continue to do it. It’s not just going to be a solution for this year but for future years.”

Pete Mockaitis
And if I may, so for examples of these lead generation tactics might be, “I’m going to get up in the Facebook ads, or the Google ads, or start calling people, or asking for referrals.” So, any number of those things might’ve been on the table.

Patrick Kilner
Smile and dial, pound on the phones, write scripts, dialogues, objections, handlers, all the stuff that you learn in that lead-generation sort of paradigm, knocking doors, whatever it is, speed networking, “How many networking events? How many cards can I hand out?” Those types of things. And when I asked that question in that way, and it wasn’t a scripted question, it was a live question, nobody raised their hand, nobody said, “I can’t wait to do this for the next three years plus.”

And so, now I didn’t have any content with which to sort of have the mastermind. And so, I said, “I’m just curious, how many of you who have kids would be excited to take that lead generation tactic that you wrote down and teach it to your kids so they will have more flourishing, more exciting careers and lives?” Not a hand.

And this began the process for me of thinking, “Well, if we’re not excited about how we’re going to make business come in the door,” and, by the way, these people, most of them had most of the skin in the game for their organization. They were the leaders of their organization. And if the leaders of the organization aren’t excited about that, they can’t transfer that skill to other people. It’s just something they’re trying to retire from as quickly as possible, and that’s not a sustainable reality.

So, there’s something broken about just how we think about business development. And it shifted my thought process. Business development is sort of the broader thing. Lead generation is really just a blip on the radar screen of the history of business development. So, to answer your question now, what was sort of the aha moment or that piece of evidence that really struck me, is after this, I went and I got on Google Ngram, which is really a cool tool if you played around with it.

And what you’re able to do is figure out when the first times we actually used certain language around certain ideas. So, it categorized all of the…Google has sort of categorized everything that’s ever been written. So, you can use this tool, and academics use it a lot, and what I found is that we didn’t actually use the word lead generation, the phrase lead generation, until around 1976.

If you’ve been in sales since the ‘80s, you think that lead generation is synonymous with business development. It’s actually just there’s been a turn of phrase. Things like smile and dial, things like scripts and dialogues around telephone, hitting the phones, all of those ideas, call centers. You can actually look at how these spiked in the ‘80s and the ‘90s, and then how they get taken over by technology and re-used. So, who does lead generation better than any human being now?

Pete Mockaitis
I’m thinking Facebook or Google.

Patrick Kilner
Right. Exactly. The really critical thing, and what I’ve begun to discover in my research is that if you are doing lead generation, eventually you get beat out by cheaper options that do it 24/7 and actually, ultimately, better than you because AI is just eating your lunch when it comes to lead generation, which actually makes us feel like cogs in a big wheel of our business instead of the indispensable drivers of our business.

And so, to get back to the story, that’s why nobody really wanted to continue doing this long term because, whether they realize it or not, they realize, “I am fighting a losing battle.” So, take travel agents, for example. How many travel agents do you know are in your phone?

Pete Mockaitis
I don’t know any.

Patrick Kilner
Right. So, if you know some one or two, there used to be travel agents all over the place. What happened? Lead generation was the thing, and they got disrupted radically by tech. So, Travelocity, whoever, has just cut out the middleman because they’ve, ultimately, really quickly done better lead generation than a human being could do.

So, what I talk about in the book is that if you’re doing lead generation, not only is it stripping you of your joy of working, but you’re also more disruption-prone. And so, let’s look at our relationships and where the relationships were…our relationships are really commoditized. Commodities are easily exchanged for anything else or versus the few relationships that are indispensably fundamental to our success that, regardless of what happens, they’re still going to be there for you, and we all have those in every aspect of our lives.

So, that’s the premise of the book. The question then is, “How do I go find those fundamental relationships, that are not commoditized, faster so that I can accelerate my career?” And the surprising thing to me is that people have applied this to mentorship, they’ve applied it to their sales, they’ve applied it to finding major accounts, to building boards of trustees because they realized, “Wow, in order to really accelerate my growth, I just need a handful of really amazing people.”

Pete Mockaitis
That’s beautiful. And this reminds me of Keith Ferrazzi’s book Who’s Got Your Back and some stuff I’ve done back in the day with accountability groups and folks who really support and challenge me in terms of making things happen. And so, yeah, it is broad and vast, whether you’re deliberately trying to get folks who you can sell stuff to, or rather you’re seeking out mentorship or other kinds of relationship goodies.

So, tell us, if that’s something we want, like, “Yeah, I would love that in my world,” how do we go about doing it? And maybe I start with you say “Find your six…” What’s up with the six? And why is six people the magic number?

Patrick Kilner
So, I went and started researching “Exactly how many people do you need?” If the lead generation paradigm tells us you need thousands in order to get a small percentage. That’s basically, “You need to make these many calls in order to have this sale or this conversion rate,” “You have to have these many likes in order to get…” whatever, that dopamine hit.

If that’s what it’s telling us, that volume is the key, how many actually do we need in your six? And so, the shift, just to sort of reveal it is you really need a shift to thinking about being in the talent game, that if you’re in business or just in life, you’re actually not in the lead generation game anymore; you’re in the talent-searching game. So, how do you go find that talent? How to do that?

Now, where did six come from? I’m very fortunate to have built a business around great relationships, great professional relationships, and I found the 60 most impactful people who had had really long term and illustrious careers. So, these are folks typically 60 plus in all sorts of different careers, and I took them out and I interviewed all of them because really, really interested in “What are the keys to long-term success? And who are the people that made that happen for them?”

So, I was really curious in finding out the characteristic of these people. But, in so doing that, what I found is that the average number of people that had made really impactful contributions to really high performers in their careers was just six people. It wasn’t 600 people, it wasn’t thousands of people, it was just six people, and that kept happening as I’d have these interviews one after another.

And so, not only did I find the characteristics of the talent that they had saddled up next to, or who had invested into them, but I also found that you actually just need six of them. And they sort of accidentally found their six over the course of an entire career. So, my question was, “How could we go find those six in six months or a year? If you knew how to crack that code, what would that look like for you?” And so, that’s why six is from some of the ground research, if you will.

Pete Mockaitis
And so, when you talk about those six, can we paint a little bit of a picture in terms of “If someone is in someone’s six, it kind of looks like this. These are the sorts of things they do for them; they share with them; they talk about.” What does that look, sound, feel like in practice?

Patrick Kilner
Yeah. And you can apply this to, again, anybody in any career. I’ll give you sort of the principles that you can apply to anything, but then we can certainly drill into what that might look like for specific people depending on their career. But the first thing you’re looking for in terms of a character trait is longevity. So, I began looking for people who had clocked a lot of hours with others by virtue of their position.

So, why longevity versus sort of very transactional relationships? So, if somebody is in the habit of just having transactional relationships, they’re not typically going to be in the connection game, in the wisdom distribution game, that I’m looking for, for later on. So, that’s the first thing, is look for longevity. So, people who are spending more time than usual in relationship with folks. And we can drill into that a little more. So, longevity.

The second thing was implicit trust. So, for me, I was looking for people who, and this is what I found with others, people who worked in really big organizations, and they found people who were implicitly trusted, not just by them, but by the entire organization. Everybody that ran across them, these people actually, in many ways, their career and their income depended on the fact that everybody who encountered them was deeply implicitly trusting of them.

And then the final thing is finding people who have an ownership mindset to their work. So, these are the people that if the company is going down, they’re holding onto the rudder the whole time. They’re trying to make this thing go. Their DNA is part and parcel of the company. I had a great encounter with somebody who was in legal document storage, and he said, “I know exactly who you’re talking about,” and I’m thinking, “Okay, he’s going to talk about one of his clients. He’s a partner at a law firm.”

And he said, “It was the woman who greeted me at the front desk of the law firm. Her DNA was all over this place. She knew when the partners were having issues, if they were staying late, how the cases were going, if their professional relationships were good, or if she could angle me in to go help sell whatever I was bringing to the table.” And so, that type of person who, maybe isn’t actually on paper the owner, but also, but really is they own their job.

So, if you find people who have that type of longevity, that implicit deep trust, and an ownership mindset, you’ve basically found the right person. So, if I’m hiring for an organization, or when we’re hiring for…I own a real estate company. When we’re hiring people, we’re looking for people who, when we’re interviewing them, have established implicit trust with others around them, and how they do that, and how they think through those relationships.

We’re looking for people that have a true ownership mindset versus, say, what in the book I call a run-it mindset, or a work-it mindset, sort of that Fred Flintstone end-of-the-day, like the dinosaur gets pulled by the tail and he’s like, “Okay, I’m done. I’m washing my hands of this thing.” And that’s a commoditized relationship with the employer. That’s sort of working for the weekend.

So, those are the people that we’re looking for both internally as well as externally to advise us, to make connections to major accounts, to refer us business. And so, in the book, I go deep into how to apply those principles, but that’s sort of your talent profile, if you will.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And so then, I’m thinking about it from two lenses. One in terms of like the sales business development, and another one in terms of sort of mentorship and growth and development. So, if we’re thinking about it on the mentorship side, so much time means much time in the career or the domain that we would like their wisdom in. Is that fair or how are you thinking about that?

Patrick Kilner
Yes. So, it could be, I would say, in general. And so, longevity really is the first indicator of whether somebody is trusted. You can’t be trusted unless you’ve spent time with folks. So, it’s a really quick filter. If you look at your list of everybody. Let’s say you work for a big consulting firm, and you’re up and coming, or you just got there, and somebody says, “You know what you should do is go find your mentors here.”

Look for the people who have the longest-standing client relationships and relationships within their teams, and who have clocked the most hours with those people. These may be managers but it could also be people in the regular mix of the organization. So, I’m looking for those people. That will limit your list pretty substantially. One of the things that I realized is I was getting frustrated in my business that depended a lot on referrals that people who have known me for a long time just weren’t giving me a lot of business. I was so frustrated.

And then I realized, actually, they don’t spend enough time with most people on a daily basis to build enough trust in order to send me business. And the same is true if you’re looking for mentors. These folks have to be in the practice of investing time into folks so that when they decide, “Hey, you know what, you should go talk to this person.” What do mentors do really, really well? They connect you to other wisdom through other great people. And so, that’s why longevity is really important. That then indicates the type of trust you’re looking for.

So, when you’re, let’s say, you’re looking for that mentor, you’ll know that you have somebody who’s implicitly trusted by asking them the right questions when you sit down with them. Maybe asking them who their mentors are. What kind of relationships do they still have in those mentor relationships? Or, they may be in peer mentor relationships. What kind of organizations are they involved in? What kind of board activities should I get involved in that you found really great?

People who sit on boards, oftentimes, they have to be implicitly trusted. They have a fiducia allegation. So, those are some of the indicators that I’m looking for when I’m looking for a mentor, is people who are really generous and who kind of know that this is going to come back around. All this stuff comes back around whether in the form of business or the right connections when it comes to sort of this game of life that we’re all playing.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, could you maybe tie it all together in terms of perhaps a story? So, there’s a person who was looking to turbocharge their advancement, ascent, wisdom, and they set about identifying six folks who could be of great assistance, and maybe we don’t need the 20-minute saga, but just the general broad strokes of what happened, how they went about it, and what results came from it.

Patrick Kilner
Right. So, I’ll give maybe a personal one here. So, the first business I started was in real estate, residential real estate business, and I got into it prior to the 2008 bust. But then 2008-2009 happened, and there was blood in the streets. National Association Realtors went from 1.5 million people to 750,000 people in less than two years, so experienced people taking early retirement really quickly. And I’d been in the business for three years at the time.

And I remember thinking, “Okay, all the stuff that all of these people who have taught me, who are now getting out of the business and it was all lead generation stuff, I need to figure out how to do this better.” And so, I called somebody who I knew had weathered storms in his own career, and he was, at the time in his 60s, and I called him up, and I said, “Jerry, I’m trying to juggle all this. I’m looking for any wisdom that you have.” I was not pitching business. I just needed his advice.

And, unknowingly, and by going to him and saying, “Listen, I just…I’m coming hat in hand here. As you know, I got a young family, you’ve done exceptionally well, and I’m sure have weathered some storms. Would you be up for a cup of coffee or breakfast?” And he said, “No problem.” Two days later, on his calendar, one of the busiest people I know.

And 45 minutes of me taking copious notes, and I remember he turned to me at the end, and he said, “You know, Pat, these are great questions. I listened the entire time,” and he said, “You’re going to do really well in real estate.” And what was interesting was I hadn’t talked about myself the entire time. I just asked the questions.

And here I am, I feel like a total pseudo-professional, total impostor, that I should be getting kicked out of this industry as well. I’m holding on. And he said to me, “You’re going to do really well. Listen, I’m really good at this attorney thing,” he was an attorney, “but I don’t know anything about real estate. I like how you think. If you run across any investments, let me know. That would be good for me.”

I’m thinking, “Wow, that’s…” I wasn’t selling. I can’t believe that this person just did this. But then he said something even more interesting, he said, “When I get back to the office, I got to get to court here in a second, when I get back to the office, I’m going to make an introduction to three different people for you.” And he put his name, his professional name to me, a young professional who was just struggling. He knew that I was trying to figure this whole thing out, and made connections to other professionals who respected him enough to say, “Yeah, I’ll have a conversation with you.”

And from that, what I found is that the right people, so Jerry for me was my first, the first one of my six ever. And great people in his shoes, great mentors, these people who sit at your table, if you will, that I talk about in the book, they are great connectors, they’re great wisdom distributors. I got more wisdom in one breakfast than I could ever imagine, but then he connected me to others who could help me. And those others also put their name to me because he had shown them that he was going to do that as well.

And it was my job to research what I wanted to talk to them about, how I could help them, and to stop worrying about not knowing everything, and just get out there and have these conversations. But Jerry taught me that the right people will be amazing connectors and, what I call in the book, wisdom distributors for you as well. And so, that set me on a course to build a really big organization that has provided for my family ever since through a serious recession. And I never did lead generation again after that.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. And so, alternatively, you just kept talking to great people who introduced you to other people, and then away you went.

Patrick Kilner
Yeah, I thought to myself, “Gosh, if I could have one of those conversations every day, what would my business look like? So, how do I go about doing that?” And so, I spend the last half of my book talking about how to have those conversations. What’s the art of that meeting? How do you land the meeting? How do you prepare for the meeting? How do you artfully have the meeting? What do you do to follow up? How do you add value? Can you even add value? I’m just starting out here.

Or maybe I feel like an impostor because I just shifted careers, but what I realized is, gosh, for the time that I spent those 45 minutes to an hour that I spent there was the most fruitful time, and I could imagine doing that for three, five, 15, 25 years every day of my career.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Well, so let’s hear it then. So, let’s say we got a professional, they want to meet some of these people, have some of these conversations, get it going, what’s sort of the step one, two, three of making it happen?

Patrick Kilner
Yeah. So, the first thing, and it sounds really simple, is make your list. Who do you know currently? And look at that list and ask yourself, “Okay, of the people who I know currently,” you can say, “Hey, I just arrived in a new town. I don’t know that many people. Who do you know, because you know some folks, somebody helped you moved, somebody recommended that you use this company for X, Y, and Z, so you know some folks?” And so, make that list. It can be short. It can be long.

Then ask yourself, “Of those people, what would I be if I could ask them one question? What would I be most interested to ask that person about?” Some people, you won’t be able to come up with anything. Others, you’re going to have three or four questions that you can’t wait to ask them. So, like a good podcast host, now you have really pointed questions specific to that person. And so, that’s the first step, is finding just a handful of folks who you want to go sit down with and have a cup of coffee with. That’s step one.

You can build that list in a number of ways. Chamber of commerce, directories, you can look up people. It’s so easy to find lots of lists of people to go sit down with, and to be interested and have these conversations with. It’s obviously better if you have connections to them prior, but if you don’t, okay, you can start somewhere and we’re really, really fortunate to have all sorts of networking opportunities online as well. These can turn into much deeper relationships.

So, second step is now you’ve got to get the meeting. So, ask for advice. The easiest way to do this is to ask for advice, and ask for advice authentically. So, here’s how not to ask for advice. Don’t call somebody – Pete, I’m sure this happens to you all the time, “Hey, Pete, you’ve got this successful podcast. Could I pick your brain?” And you’re like, “Gosh, if I had a dollar for every time somebody asked me to pick my brain, I’d be super wealthy.”

Here’s the problem with that. There’s a certain laziness to just saying, “Hey, Pete, can I pick your brain?” They haven’t actually dignified Pete with a little bit of research about “What specifically does Pete do really, really well that I know about, that I’ve really thought about so that he knows I’m not going to waste his time, and that he also knows where the direction of this thing is going to go? We’re not just going to sit down for a cup of coffee and this is going to turn into a two-hour long conversation, and we’re going to get nowhere. But I’ve got somebody who’s actually interested specifically about something that I’m an expert in.”

So, that’s the next step is research the person well enough to know why you’re asking them for advice. Then go have the meeting. Now, what does that do? That comes off very authentic because now it’s not a script. This is not lead generation. I’m not lead-generating this conversation with you. I’m being very specific. I’m authentically curious. And authenticity is really, really powerful in relationships, especially at the beginning.

And with that authenticity, now you frame the conversation that you’re going to have. Now, you’re going to go meet with the person. The conversation is framed. They know that you’re going to honor their time. They could be the busiest person you could possibly find. If you show them that you’re going to honor their time, and you’re authentically curious, they’ll have the conversation with you.

You go have that conversation, and if you ask the right questions, three, four really, really good questions, make sure that they know that you know about them. Again, you’ve given them the dignity of saying, “Listen, you’re really busy and I saw this and that, and I’d really like to know how you made manager. How did you go from here in your career to here in your career? That seems like almost an impossibility to me but I’m sure that you’ve got some insights in this.”

Or, “How was it that you landed that major account when you were pretty early in your career? How did you do that? Who were the people that made those connections for you?”

So, asking that, or you might be really…I remember going through a phase where I really wanted to know what made high performers tick and what their daily routine looked like because I really wanted to hone in my daily routine, and I was coming authentically to that in asking that question as well. So, those are some of the things, and now those are the bedrock for a much deeper conversation.

Here’s what I found with Jerry, is that because my conversation and my questions were specific and authentic, he liked how I thought, and he said it. He said, “Pat, I like how you think. You’re going to do really well in business.” We don’t work with people because of what they know. We work with people and we hire people and we want to continue relationships with people because of how they think.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s true.

Patrick Kilner
Think about your best relationships.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that resonates. And I guess I’m thinking of what not to do. I received a LinkedIn message, like, “Oh, hey, I see that you’re a podcaster. Could you send me a link to your podcast?” This is on LinkedIn. And I’m thinking, “My LinkedIn profile literally says, ‘Pete Mockaitis, podcast host and trainer and chief at AwesomeAtYourJob.com.’”

And so, I guess it’s like, “Okay, you’re not a real human. You are a piece of software that is automating outreach because a real human wouldn’t do that.” And so, what you said is like when you do that bit of research upfront, it helps distinguish you from the vast majority of inbound requests that are just like, “Meh,” as opposed to, “Oh, okay, you’re a human being. You’ve spent some time looking at my stuff. Therefore, I have an inkling that if I were to invest some time in you, it’s going to be well spent.”

And I think Tim Ferriss has some good tips about how you show just that, like, “Hey, your time was well spent. You mentioned a book, I read the book, and here’s my key takeaways from the book you mentioned that I’ve already read two days after you told me about it.” It’s like, “Oh, this guy. Okay, you’re serious. Intriguing.”

Patrick Kilner
And be an active listener. Carry one of these things around and actually take notes because, again, you’re endearing yourself to this person who is honoring you by giving you their time. But flip this on the other side, when asked correctly for your wisdom, have you ever been offended?

Pete Mockaitis
No, I guess that correctly is the key word. But, no, I haven’t. It’s flattering. I guess the worst-case scenario is I feel guilty that I don’t have the availability to give them a little something. That’s like the worst but it’s always pleasant and uplifting because, most of the time, most compliments that come my way immediately precede a pitch to be a guest on my podcast, which makes them feel very insincere.

Of course, there are plenty of genuine compliments as well. They’re just outnumbered. But givers versus takers, right? So, yeah, that totally resonates. And so, if there’s any…I guess that’s sort of a good takeaway there. If there’s any fear, like, “Oh, I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to bother them. I wouldn’t want to inconvenience them. I’m little ole me. I couldn’t possibly….” Point well taken. It’s like if you do it well, they appreciate it.

Any other do’s and don’ts for that reach-out message? You do your research. You convey you’ve done your research. You don’t use the phrase ‘pick your brain.’ Anything else?

Patrick Kilner
Yeah, I think stop thinking that you don’t have anything to offer. So, you’re giving two gifts. One is the gift of actually having done your research and asking this person about what they’ve dedicated their life to most likely, “You’re awesome at this. If you have the time, I will inconvenience myself to make sure that you and I can sit down. I’ll meet you at the airport if you’re traveling all the time during your layover.”

So, that’s the first gift, really is that’s what gets me out of bed. Somebody says to me, “Hey, so and so told me that I should be in touch with you because you’re really, really awesome at this,” specific thing. “Would you have any time for me? Not next week maybe, but any time in the next month or quarter. Could I just find 45 minutes on your calendar? I’d love to take you out for a cup of coffee or whatever works best for you.”

And so, again, so that type of idea, and I go through a bunch of different ways to do that and endear yourself. So, that’s maybe going to look different within depending on your organization, depending on your career track, but really mastering that language, and that art of preparing, and the art of having a meeting is actually, frankly, a lost art because we hide behind screens so long that we’re actually not in this habit of connecting deeply with people and allowing them to have that in return, really, in an authentic way.

Now, that’s the first gift. The second gift is the gift that you give them afterwards. So, if you’re doing this, and I said if I could have this conversation every day, so if you said, “Part of my business plan or my career plan is to have one cup of coffee every single day with somebody who could be,” what I call in the book, “an influencer candidate, somebody who could be a candidate for my six. And those are just people who I have an authentic curiosity about what they do.”

So, because you’re doing this, you have a network, maybe not of people who are at the top of your list, your six. That’s sort of a sacred spot, but you have a lot of people who are at different places in what I like to call the influencer pyramid. So, they may be not as influential for you but really great folks. You can find a lot of those. And now you can be a connector of great talent. Again, you’re in the talent game. You’re looking for just a handful up here, but you will have…you do this for a quarter, you do this for half a year, you’ve got 50-100 people who know your name and who you can connect others to.

And so, even if you’re not somebody who’s old and wise and can give that wisdom, like Jerry did to me, you can certainly be what Jerry also was, which was a connector to other great minds and other great influencers, potentially. So, that’s the next gift. And so, those two gifts really are super impactful. And what it does is it reframes who you are in the mind of the potential influencer. They now see you in a totally different light. So, those are some of the hacks, if you will, of that conversation.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. Well, thank you. Well, Pat, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Patrick Kilner
Yeah. So, I’d say this, never leave a meeting without asking this simple question, “Knowing what you know about me, Pete, who else do you think I should talk to? If you were in my shoes, who else would you go talk to?” because not everybody is going to be your Jerry who’s just going to think to do that to make the connection. But if you prompted that, what I found is I had maybe a list of 25 people when I started out, who I was just desperate to learn from. That turned into a list of thousands over the years because I prompted that question.

And so, if you’re in these great conversations, again, you’re looking for a mentor, “Knowing what you know about me, who am I looking for?” What I found is also, just mathematically, you’re looking for, basically, a one in 20 talent. So, Pete, I’m sure you’ve hired folks before, and you go, “Gosh.” When you’re hiring out of desperation, you’ll take the first person who sends you a resume, when you’re looking for talent.

The same is true for mentors, the same is true for almost any person you’re looking for, external talent or internal talent to your team. But if you’ve talked to 20 people, gosh, you know what the landscape looks like and you can now choose who you’re going to go invest your time in, or time with, and who you want to forge that relationship with. You can talk to 20 people over the course of a month. Over the course of six months, you’ve found your six.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. I see how that math works there. Monday through Friday, hmm-mm. Thank you.

Patrick Kilner
Take off a weekend.

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

Patrick Kilner
This one is from Dostoevsky, so great Russian novelist. And he said…and this is really comforting too, a guy who got straight Bs through college. He said, “It’s not the brains that matter most, but that which guides them – the character, the heart, and generous qualities.” I love that. As a dad, that’s what I want to teach my kids. So, that’s one of my favorite quotes.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Patrick Kilner
So, that Google Ngram, I thought was I kind of nerd out on using that. I think it’s really interesting to understand how we use language and why we use it at certain times and how it impacts us. So, as a tool, I thought that was really, really interesting, and something that I think that I use quite a bit still.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite book?

Patrick Kilner
Okay. So, I’ve got two here. One is my favorite book of the year. I probably recommended this book more than any other, and it just came out this summer, a book called Wanting by Luke Burgis. It’s on the reason why we want what we want, and how people influence, how the people around us deeply influence why we desire, not just why we want things but why we actually form certain desires for things.

Totally made me shift how I see the people around me, and I’d wrote a book about the people around me. Fascinating book. He studies a guy named Rene Girard, who many people know was a mentor to the likes of Peter Thiel and others at Stanford. So, awesome book, a must read. And then David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers. One of the coolest stories about entrepreneurship around, and I’m an entrepreneur, and this is like these guys totally bootstrapped it and figured it out after having a bike shop. So, really, really cool story.

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

Patrick Kilner
OptimalWork.com. These guys have been a total gamechanger. I would not have been able to crank out a book without OptimalWork. The thesis here is that I particularly like a tool that they have on their site called The Golden Hour. And what it allows you to do is to get into the state of flow. So, block out distraction, get into a state of flow on command. So, a pretty amazing tool. Highly recommend it. I’m having my high school kids doing this already and it’s changing their grades already.

Pete Mockaitis
Flow on command, that’s enticing.

Patrick Kilner
Yeah, and that’s the key. And they do this at Harvard, so they take kids who are already high performers, and they teach them to actually perform at an even higher level and actually enjoy what they do a whole lot more. So, Dr. Kevin Majeres is behind this. He’s a clinical psychologist and just a tremendous mind. So, OptimalWork.com.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool. And a favorite habit?

Patrick Kilner
For me, it is waking up earlier than my competition. I think it has to happen.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And a key nugget you share, something that really connects and resonates with folks; they quote it back to you a lot?

Patrick Kilner
Yeah. So, I’ve got two from the book. One is simply trust is transferable. We can trust-transfer, and that’s a big part of the book is this idea that you’re really in the talent game and the trust-transferring game. And then the other is I didn’t actually expect as much resonance with folks, but folks who are trying to balance your family life and professional life.

This struck me that this idea that save your professional time, effort, and money for the most influential people so that you can save your personal time, effort, and money for the most vulnerable. So, whatever you’re in, like in my case, those are kids running around in diapers at a certain point of my life. But that’s why I work so that I can provide and really spend my time, effort, and money with them.

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

Patrick Kilner
So, really easy, FindYourSix.com or PatrickKilner.com will lead you to me, yeah. And it’s pretty easy. There’s forms on there. You can probably find my email on there as well.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Patrick Kilner
So, I’d ask, really, what’s, first, a reflective question, “What is the cost of commoditization in your business of your relationships?” So, if you’re in sales, lead gen, but fill in the blank. What’s the cost of that compounded over time for your career? I’d encourage you to take the Find Your Six challenge. I lay out a challenge at the back of the book, and it just says, “Here’s how to go about the challenge. Here’s how to find your six in six months or at least get to that point.”

If you want to totally reframe your business development and understand that, regardless of what your position is, you’re in the talent game. So, that would be the challenge. It’s really just built into what I have here. And here’s the idea, the business grows and your career grows and sustains and becomes disruption-proof only through the right talent. So, you’re in any position, “How do I disruption-proof my talent for my career so that I’m indispensably important?” It’s through the right relationships, and not just, “Hey, you scratch my back, I scratch yours,” but real investment into them.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Pat, this has been a treat. I wish you much luck with your six.

Patrick Kilner
Pete, thank you.

694: How to Make Your Voice Heard with Connson Locke

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Connson Locke says: "Making your voice heard is not just about dominating other people."

Connson Locke reveals the factors that get people to sit up and take notice.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Why we pay attention to some more than others 
  2. The elements of an influential voice
  3. The simple secret to becoming more likable 

 

About Connson

Professor Connson Locke joined the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2008 where she teaches Leadership, Organizational Behaviour, and Negotiation and Decision Making.  Connson has over 30 years’ experience as an educator, coach, and consultant working in Europe, Asia Pacific, North America, and Australia. Prior to entering academia, she served as Regional Training and Development Manager for the Boston Consulting Group where she was responsible for the learning and development of consulting staff in 10 offices across Asia Pacific.

Connson holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Business Administration (Organizational Behaviour) from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. in Sociology from Harvard University where she graduated with honours. Her new book, Making Your Voice Heard, uses the research on power and influence to help people speak up to those who have more power than they do. 

Resources Mentioned

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Connson Locke Interview Transcript

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

Connson Locke
You’re welcome. Thanks for inviting me, Pete.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, my pleasure. I am excited to talk about how we can go about making our voices heard. But, first, I think we need to hear just a bit about you, bungee jumping in Thailand.

Connson Locke
Well, bungee jumping in Thailand, it was in my early 30s and I was going through an early mid-life crisis and I didn’t know what to do with myself, and I thought, “I’m just going to go away on vacation by myself.” And in Asia, at least at the time, it was quite safe for a woman traveling alone. So, I went to Thailand and I thought, “Oh, look, there’s a bungee jumping place that’s over a lake.” And I’d always wanted to bungee jump, and I thought, “It’s over water so it’s probably safe, right?” It was only afterwards that I found out if you hit water at such high speed, it’s like hitting the ground.

And so, I went, I got this tuk-tuk driver, and the tuk-tuk is like the local taxi, he didn’t speak any English, and I pointed out where I wanted to go, so he took me there. He had never seen bungee jumping before so he was the only person there that was watching me, essentially, except for the staff. So, I stand up there, and the thing about bungee jumping, you see the photos, it looks like people are flying. You do not fly. You drop like a rock.

So, I stepped off the platform thinking, “Oh, I’m going to fly like a bird,” and I just went, boom, straight down, screaming. So, afterwards, I go back to the tuk-tuk, and the driver was staring at me, like, “Oh, my God, I cannot believe what you just did.” And he’s like tapping his chest going, “Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom,” like your heart must be going crazy, and I said, “Yes?” And so, he bought me a bottle of water, which he makes hardly any money but he bought me a bottle of water because he felt so bad for me. That was me bungee jumping in Thailand.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, wow. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom? I bet that probably plays in your head from time to time. That’s unforgettable. Well, so I take it that it wasn’t something you’re going to do again?

Connson Locke
No, no, it was one of those things I wanted to try once but that’s it.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, there you have it. Well, I’ve been skydiving and hang gliding, and I loved it, but bungee jumping just feels like my stomach would go, “Waah,” just from the jolt.

Connson Locke
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
And I don’t know if I would do so well. Okay. Well, so I’m glad we covered that. That’s important. And now it’s also important, your book Making Your Voice Heard. That is something, boy, our listeners have asked for before. Can you tell us what’s kind of like the core thesis here?

Connson Locke
So, this is all about what I call upward influence. How do you influence people who have as much or more power than you do? And this is something that has always interested me. And I teach leadership at the LSE, so I’ve been teaching leadership for about 13 years now. And what I noticed in a lot of leadership courses, the focus is very much on, “How do the leaders influence their team?” But, come on, if you’re the boss, how hard is it to make your team do what you want them to do? Like, okay, you’ve got to engage them and all that, but still.

What’s really important and what I struggled with for the 16 years before I entered academia was, “How do I influence my boss?” or, “How do I influence the client?” or, “How do I influence the people who have more power than me, the government official, or whoever it is that I’m trying to convince?” That’s the challenging thing and that’s what the book is focused on.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, I’m looking forward to digging into the particular details. But maybe could you start us off by sharing with us a particularly surprising and counterintuitive discovery you’ve made while doing this research?

Connson Locke
I suppose what I find interesting about it is that it’s possible. What I mean is I’ve always been a very shy introverted person and, growing up, I’m Chinese-American, and growing up my parents were very traditional Chinese, I always grew up with this idea that, “Hierarchy is hierarchy and you’re not supposed to argue with your boss. Like, you don’t disagree with your boss. That’s crazy. And why would your boss change his or her mind because of what you say? They are the boss.”

And so, to me, I guess it’s not counterintuitive but it was something that was surprising for me is that, actually, this is something your boss wants you to do in a lot of cases. Like, they want to hear your voice, they want to get your opinion, and if you think that something is going wrong and you can fix it, they want to know that. So, it’s one of those things that, once I realized it’s beneficial for the organization, oftentimes the people in charge want to hear your voice, then that kind of changed the way I looked at it.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, yes, I concur as someone who has been both the boss and the follower. As the boss, it is genuinely helpful when I say something and someone tells me, not necessarily, “That’s the stupidest idea ever. You’re so wrong.” But rather, “Hmm, do you think that’s the best course of action, given X, Y, Z?” and I go, “Oh, shoot. Yeah, you’re right. Sorry, thank you.” And then, “It’d be like disastrous if we went ahead and charged ahead with the thing I originally thought of, so thank you, collaborator, for bringing that to my attention.”

Okay. Well, so then I want to dig into the how-to of that. But maybe, zooming out, can you tell us, kind of fundamentally, what makes some people more influential than others? And I’ve had listeners say something like, “Hey, sometimes I’ll be in a meeting, and I’ll say something, and then someone else, and it was sort of like, ‘Hmm,” kind of barely acknowledged. And someone else will say just about exactly the same thing, and they’ll say, ‘Oh, yeah,’ and there’s like enthusiasm and movement, and I think, ‘What the heck is going on here?’ And it feels horrible.” You feel so small when that happens. But what are some drivers behind that? What makes someone more influential than someone else?

Connson Locke
So, sometimes it’s pure bias, sometimes there is maybe the person who is being paid attention to is maybe physically bigger, or is taller, or has been around longer, or is more senior. So, these are things you don’t necessarily have control over and there are biases towards listening to those people more. But what you can do to be that person that people listen to is there’s reputation, and then there is delivery style, and, of course, there’s content, obviously, but we’re talking about two people presenting the same amount of content, so who gets listened to more, assuming all other things are equal.

Reputation is what’s called basis of power. So, basis of power are where you get your power from, and if you’re the boss, you get your power from things like you have access to rewards and punishments. But if you’re not the boss, you get your power from two things. One is called expert power, which is people respect you for your expertise. And the other is called reverend power, which is people like you, but this takes time, you have to build it over time.

And if you’ve built that respect, if people respect you, and they go, “Oh, okay. Well, I’ve worked with Connson for a long time, and when she says something, I know that it’s worth listening to,” or, “I’ve worked with Connson a long time, and I really like listening to…I’ve really liked working with her, so I think I will listen to her.” That is something that can really feed into that. So, that’s the reputation.

But the other thing is the delivery style. And delivery style is everything from your body language. We think a lot about body language but, actually, I think what’s even more important than body language is the voice. What are we doing with our voice? Are we emphasizing? Are we being monotone? Are we using pauses? And that’s something that we can practice, but, also, it’s delivery is like it’s being pithy, it’s like getting to the point, it’s catching people’s attention. So, it’s that combination of how do you sound, how do you look, and what are you saying.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, so then let’s talk about both the long-term game and the short-term game. Let’s hear first some quick hits, the do’s and don’ts of sort of like the voice and the presentation and the delivery style because that’s something we can do immediately and, hopefully, see some impact. So, what are the top things that give us an influence boost versus an influence ding?

Connson Locke
Okay. So, when it comes to delivery style, think of how you look and how you sound. And I’m going to assume that what you’re saying is the same regardless, so let’s focus on how you look and how you sound. How you look, if you’re online, you need to pay attention to lightning. If you’re not online then, obviously, you don’t have to worry about that, you’re all in the same room anyway. If you’re online, you also need to pay attention to sound quality, so getting a good headset so people can hear you.

The other things about how you look is think about your clothing, your hairstyle. Are you standing up straight? Are you slouched or are you taking up space? So, the good things are, if you’re standing up or sitting up straight, you’re taking up some space, which means you’re not shrinking, you’re not kind of hiding, but you’re really owning that space. You’re using eye contact while speaking because that’s what makes people…that’s what makes you come across as confident. And you’re using a tone of voice that’s confident and natural, a pace that’s natural, and you’re willing to pause.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, could you maybe give us a verbal demonstration then associated with what does a nice influential voice sound like versus a not-so influential voice?

Connson Locke
Sure. So, if I’m trying to tell you about what makes me influential, yeah, and I’m talking and I’m just kind of using a lot of filler words, it’s not very engaging and, after a while, you kind of tune out. Instead, if you’re short, sharp, sweet, you deliver the information, look confident, sound confident, and deliver your information in sharp bites. Okay, I’ve got a confident tone of voice, I’m pausing in between each point, and sometimes I’ll change my tone if I’m emphasizing something or maybe I’ll say something a bit softer if I want to get your attention. That’s using your voice to its potential and it’s something you can practice. Everyone can practice at home. You record yourself on your phone, you play it back.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s great. It’s so funny, in the first one, my attention started drifting just within a couple of seconds, and this is kind of my job is to pay attention to everything you’re saying.

Connson Locke
Exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
And think about how we’re going to package and present it. So, I thought that was pretty funny and then there may very well have been some listeners, I think you’d notice the same thing or maybe even skipped ahead, like, “Oh, I’m bored right now. Let’s get more.” So, that’s potent there. And then part of it is practicing and recording yourself so you can just hear and see the difference for yourself. Any other tips in terms of doing the preparation so that that is possible?

Connson Locke
You know, who I think one of my best coaches has been, and he hasn’t meant to be my coach, my husband who I have been married to for about 20 years now. He’s a very impatient person. And when I first started dating him, I would tell him stories about what happened to me at work, and I’d go on and on and on, and he would just drift off, like he was not listening anymore.

So, over the years, I learned to be very much to the point. Like, I think a great way of practicing is to find a friend or a family member who you know is pretty impatient and practice telling them a story. If you can keep their attention, you’re getting to the point.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. I like it. Okay, so that’s the vocal stuff. You mentioned clothing, and maybe this is common sense but maybe perhaps not common practice. What are the do’s and don’ts when it comes to clothing?

Connson Locke
With clothing, you have to pay attention to the culture of the organization you’re in. Don’t make assumptions. I had a student who went for an interview at an advertising company, and she wore a very conservative dark blue suit, and she noticed that everyone around her was wearing colorful funky kind of creative clothing. She did not get the job. So, don’t make assumptions about what’s the appropriate clothing or not. Really, you need to observe the culture around you and adopt what is best in that environment.

Pete Mockaitis
I notice in my own clothing game, which is mediocre – I’m wearing a T-shirt right now but you’re cool with it. Thanks, Connson – is that just sort of little things in terms of like, “Oh, there’s a wrinkle I didn’t notice before but, oh, now I see it and it’s there,” or, “Oh, there’s a little bit of a spot of, I don’t know if it was maybe a little bit of grease or oil or ketchup I got to wipe up and had just a smidge of that sort of oil or residue left behind.” So, it’s like a wet spot but it’s there for, I guess, the day. That’s what I find with clothing is those little things.

And, I don’t know, sometimes I wonder how much do people care but I think I’m coming around to thinking that even if it’s not fully in their conscious purview, it’s sending a little bit of a signal that’s impeding influence. Would you agree with that or what do you think about those little clothing things?

Connson Locke
I think with clothing, it’s the impression that you make. So, if there’s a little stain and you hardly notice it, I doubt anyone else is going to notice it, unless you point it out to them, which I would suggest you don’t do. But, otherwise, it’s about the general impression. And so, as long as, in terms of the general impression, if you’re making the impression that you want to make, sometimes you want to make a more casual impression, sometimes you want to make a more formal impression, and so it’s all about that kind of broad impression that you’re making, and that’s what you should be aiming for. I wouldn’t worry too much about the little wrinkles or the stains.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, thanks for that. That helped there. I think fit also can factor into things in terms of if it’s a little too tight or a little too baggy, it looks quite different than when it’s sharp, like, “Oh, yeah, that fits you just right.” You just look good no matter the context. Okay, so clothing, we’re not going to say much more about that. When it comes to that expertise and the reputation, sort of the long game, how do you recommend we develop that well?

Connson Locke
So, developing expert power, the most obvious way to do it is just to be really good at what you do, be really good at your job, but also to make sure people know that you’re good at your job. So, for example, when I first started working at LSE, I got a lot of good evaluations as a teacher, but not everyone knows what evaluations everyone else is getting. But the head of my group was so impressed with my teaching scores that she actually had this little, at one of the staff meetings, she gave me a little award for getting the best teaching evaluations that she’s ever seen.

And so, that was great because I didn’t have to brag on my own behalf, which never looks good. She was the one who kind of let people know what I was doing, and that helped me gain expert power. So, then my colleagues were like, “Oh, wow. I didn’t know that Connson was good at that.” So, it’s being really good at what you do but also making sure, finding a way to let people know that you’re good at it.

If you want to build expert power with a particular person, it can really help if you can help them solve a problem that they’re working on, that they’re struggling with, because then you’re helping them solve this problem and they’ll be grateful, and they’ll also be like, “Oh, you’re pretty smart.” So, those are the ways of building expert power.

Pete Mockaitis
And then what I’m intrigued by your fantastic evaluations, and maybe particular pedagogical things that are not within the scope here, but is there anything you do in the classroom you think that is particularly powerful when it comes to being liked and influential by your students?

Connson Locke
I think, in terms of the evaluations that I’ve received, there are two things that students usually say. One is they can tell that I love what I teach, like I really care about this. But it’s not just that I’m so fascinated about the topic that I teach, it’s that I care about helping them become better leaders. So, when I teach, it’s not me kind of indulging myself. When I teach, it’s about helping my students become better at leadership, at influence, at doing better in their careers, and they can tell that. They can tell that I want to help them. So, that really engages them.

The other thing is I tell lots of stories, and they love the stories. So, I tell stories about my kids, about my husband. I guess I’ve already mentioned something about my husband today, and it’s just I bring all of my personal experiences into it, and they think that’s very engaging.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, certainly. Okay. Well, so then when it comes to the workplace, well, hey, that’s been a common theme we’ve seen in terms of just caring, just is huge in terms of people pick up on it, they want to reciprocate, you’re motivated, you get more creative ideas, you look out for their good, and so all kinds of great things happen just by caring, and caring can be rare in some environments, so it really is a distinguisher. So, what else do you recommend folks do to bolster their likability at work?

Connson Locke
So, in terms of likability, so expertise is one thing, and we’ve already talked about that. Likability is different in that it’s really about getting to know people as people, not as work colleagues. It’s really having that curiosity in a person. It’s wanting to connect with people just for the sake of connecting. So, for example, I don’t know, if you’ve got someone who works at the front desk, and you’re walking past the front desk to go to the stationery cupboard, pause at the front desk, chat with them, get to know them, at least get to know their name and who they are.

It’s that connecting with colleagues, chatting with people at the coffee machine. I know that doesn’t happen so much now with the pandemic and everything. I had a colleague, just today, who’s helping me with something, and she was so amazingly helpful. I said to her, “I’m going to take you out to dinner in return.” And so, it’s that taking the time to get to know people and appreciate people. That makes you likable.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Thank you. Well, you also write a bit about energy and body cues. Can you share with us a little bit about what are these, how do we identify them, and use them to our advantage?

Connson Locke
So, when it comes to body cues, I think most of what I think is important to focus on is what you are communicating to other people because that’s what you have control over. And what I think is most important, when you’re trying to be influential, is communicating confidence. And so, confidence, communicating confidence is everything you learn in presentation skills training – stand up straight, take up space, use eye contact, sound confident, all of those things.

When we’re trying to interpret other people’s body cues, we have to be very careful because it’s really easy to misinterpret. So, one thing I usually warn people about is narcissists are great at looking confident, and we confuse confidence with competence, and, obviously, it’s not the same thing. If someone looks confident, we think that they’re pretty competent. The next time you are interviewing someone or listening to someone, and you think, “Wow, they really know what they’re talking about,” just question yourself a little bit, “What am I basing this on? Am I basing this on the fact that they sound really confident? Or, am I actually basing this on something concrete?”

Like, if you’re interviewing someone, how do you protect yourself against a narcissist? There are a couple of things you can do. One is you ask for specific examples of what they’ve accomplished, because once you get the examples, then you can hear how they talk about the examples. Do they talk about it as if they did everything themselves, or do they give other people credit?

And the other this is you ask other people how they were treated by this person, especially the receptionist or the junior people, because narcissists tend to talk down to people who they don’t think are very important. So, I guess the bottom-line is don’t read too much into other people’s body cues, and, in fact, try to get additional data to make sure that what you’re interpreting is accurate.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes, that sounds dead-on. And then I find there’s an interesting blend, I was chatting with my buddy Connor about this, not Connie, not Connson – Connor. And he said, I think I was chatting, it was a speech therapist. I was taking my son to a speech therapist, and she said, “Yeah, his pronunciation on words is pretty good but when it gets stretched out to a whole sentence, it does get a little bit harder to understand.” And I thought, “You know, I’ve always thought the word was pronounced pronunciation, and you’re the speech therapist, so I would imagine pronunciation is your whole game. So, if you say it’s pronoun-ciation, then I’m inclined to think maybe it is.”

And I think it’s so fascinating, and maybe this is agreeableness, the personality trait that I’m capturing here, but it’s like there are some folks who seem, and she was very sweet, but there are some folks who seem very confident and positive that their way, their thoughts are correct. And I, who have, I guess, a decent bit of humility and agreeableness, or whatever the construct is, when I receive that, I go, “Oh, okay. Well, I kind of thought it was this,” or, “Hmm, that doesn’t make much sense to me given A, B, C in my own experience, but you really seem to think…”

And so, it’s tricky and, often, that’s the conversation I have with friends, it’s like, “Wait. Am I crazy? What’s the deal here?” And so, hey, help us if you can. Help us decode that. Like, how much stock should we put in the confidence of another person relative to our own knowledge, data, expertise? And it’s probably not a one-size-fits-all answer. I’m putting you on the spot, but how do you think about that dance?

Connson Locke
The way I think about it would be trying to break down, “Is this person…Do I feel like this person is confident in what they’re saying because of the way they are saying it? Or, are they actually putting some data and some logic and some actual concrete support behind what they’re saying?” Because if they’re giving me some concrete support, okay, maybe I’ll be a bit more confident in what they’re saying. If it’s simply they’re delivering it with confidence, no, don’t be fooled by that.

I’m just going to use my husband as an example again. When my children, my daughters are now teenagers but I remember when they were younger, when they were like eight and ten years old, and my husband is the full-time parent. And one time I heard one of my daughters asking her father about a history question. We live in the UK so, obviously, they’re not going to ask me a history question. I don’t know about the queens and the kings of England and all of that.

So, they asked their father, who’s English, and he gave a very definitive answer, and so they went and did their homework. And then they came back to me the next day, and they said, “I got that question wrong. I asked daddy, and daddy was so confident, and so I thought it was right, but it was wrong.” And I was like, “Yes. Well, you should really double-check for yourself. Daddy says things confidently but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right.” And so, my daughters were learning that lesson very early on, but I think it’s something we all have to keep in mind. Just because someone is saying something in a confident tone doesn’t mean it’s right.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Thank you. Well, Connson, tell me, any other key things you want to make sure to mention about making your voice heard before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Connson Locke
I think one of the most important things we need to understand about making your voice heard is that it’s not just about dominating other people. It’s not just about being heard. Like, you have to have something to say. You have to have a reason why you’re doing this. So, what has helped me over the years, as I said I was very introverted before and had a lot of trouble making my voice heard. But what has helped me over the years is that I have a higher purpose in a way. I’m helping people learn, I’m helping people be better at what they do, and that’s what drives me.

So, I think instead of just thinking, “How do I get loud enough so everyone is going to hear me?” you should be asking yourself, “What do I want to say and is it worth saying? Is it actually going to add to what’s happening out there?” The other thing I would say also is influence is a two-way street. So, it’s not just about trying to convince the other person that you’re right. It’s actually about getting to know the other person as well and being open to them, asking questions and finding out what their perspective is, and having a two-way conversation.

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

Connson Locke
Yes, so there’s a book by Kahlil Gibran called The Prophet, and there’s a quote from that that says, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that holds your understanding.” And it took me a very long time to understand this, but now that I’ve been through failure, I’ve been through a lot of pain over the years – I’m 55 so I’ve lived, you know, I’ve done a lot of things – I now understand that when you go through a painful experience, you’re growing and, as a result, you actually get bigger.

And I kind of think of it as it’s kind of like a snake shedding its skin. So, each time you go through this painful experience, you kind of shed a skin, you’re getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and it’s how you grow. It’s how you develop. And so, when I look back on my life and the painful experiences I’ve had, I now no longer regret any of them. There was a time when I hated it, I was like, “Oh, my God, why did I do that job? Why did I have to go through that? Why did I have that horrible boss?” But now I’m like, “You know what, I learned from that and I’m better for it and I’m bigger for it.”

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Thank you. And how about a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Connson Locke
I would actually say, and this is a little bit controversial, the power poses study.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, yeah, Amy Cuddy.

Connson Locke
Yeah, Amy Cuddy, power poses. And it’s only controversial because in her original research with her colleagues, what they found was that holding a power pose changes your hormones. It reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, and increases testosterone, makes you more confident. And other researchers that tried to replicate it did not find any effect on hormones. And so, it became this big thing, like, “Oh, we can’t replicate it. It’s a false study. You should stop talking about it.”

However, what they did replicate was that people who held a power pose for two minutes – and a power pose is not something you do in front of other people, you kind of do in the privacy of a bathroom or something – you do feel more confident as a result. And when they actually did things like they had people do a presentation. Half of them did a power pose before the presentation, and the other half didn’t, and the people who were judging the presentations didn’t know who had done a power pose, but they judged the presentations.

And the presentations that they found more engaging turned out to be the people who had done the power pose. So, I actually think it’s one of those things that it’s so easy, a two-minute power pose. I do it before a big presentation when I’m really nervous. It’s just one of those really easy practical things that, yeah, that’s what I love. I love those easy practical things that you can just work into your day and it doesn’t take much time.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Thank you. And a favorite book?

Connson Locke
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Connson Locke
It’s a 12-week course in rediscovering your creativity and it doesn’t take much time. I did it while I was working at the Boston Consulting Group, actually, so I didn’t have much time. But it took maybe half an hour a day, and then maybe a couple hours on the weekend, but, as a result of following that 12-week course chapter by chapter, it just kind of put me back in touch with, I don’t know, the joy of being alive, kind of put me in touch with rediscovering, like noticing colors and nature and all of these things that I had kind of lost touch with.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Thank you. And a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Connson Locke
A favorite tool I actually think is in my job I lecture so I’m using PowerPoint all the time, which I actually love PowerPoint if it’s used properly, if you’re not using it as a Word document, but you’re actually using it for visuals and shapes and all of that. But PowerPoint has this notes function which I really like using.

The other favorite tool, nowadays when I’m teaching online on Zoom, the polling function. I love polling and I found I can really get students, especially my undergrads who normally won’t…I’ve got like 200 to 300 undergrads at a lecture. In a lecture hall, they’re not going to raise their hands but if I give them a poll, it’s anonymous, and they’ll answer, and I get to know them that way as well. So, I love the polling function.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite nugget that you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks; they quote it back to you often?

Connson Locke
One thing that my students have said, they appreciate that I share, is how much I used to struggle when I was younger with my making my voice heard. And I often tell the story of when I was a teenager, I think I was about 15, when I was on vacation with my parents, and we were in a hotel, and my mother said, “Can you go downstairs and ask the front desk for a newspaper?” And I was so stressed out by that, I was like, “What? No, I can’t. You want me to ask a stranger about…? What? No.”

And my students laughed when I talk about that but I think they appreciate me kind of revealing how far I’ve come and how it is possible if you are painfully shy and introverted to evolve and to actually get your voice heard.

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

Connson Locke
I have a website ConnsonLocke.com, and that’s Connson, C-O, double N, S-O-N. C-O, double N because I was born in Connecticut, L-O-C-K-E.com.

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

Connson Locke
You know what, I think one of the most important things is to take time for yourself, is to really not just take time for yourself, but to take time to get to know yourself and to really understand, “What are your priorities? What are your values? What do you find important in life?” Because if you don’t understand that, you can’t bring your best self to work.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Connson, this has been a treat. Thank you and I wish you lots of luck in all the ways you make your voice heard.

Connson Locke
Thank you.