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438: How to Earn Fierce Loyalty Through 3 Key Principles with Sandy Rogers

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Sandy Rogers says: "The deepest need of the human heart is to be understood. I mean, how good does it feel when people really get you?"

Sandy Rogers shares the three core principles required to earn the devotion of both customer and colleague.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The 3 core loyalty principles of responsibility, empathy, and generosity
  2. How indifference can destroy loyalty
  3. The importance of weekly team huddles for reinforcing new behaviors

About Sandy

Sandy Rogers is the leader of FranklinCovey’s Loyalty Practice. He was previously Senior Vice President at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. During his 14 years there, Sandy managed the turnaround of the London, England operation and led the teams that developed Enterprise’s marketing strategy and system for improving customer service across all branches. Before Enterprise, Sandy worked in marketing at Apple Computer and at P&G. He is a graduate of Duke and Harvard Business School.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Sandy Rogers Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Sandy, thank you so much for joining us here on the How to Be Awesome at Your Job Podcast.

Sandy Rogers
Thank you Pete, thrilled to be here.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m thrilled to chat with you. And you’ve got many claims to fame in your life, but the one I thought was most interesting off the top of my head was that you led the teams that came up with the legendary “pick Enterprise we’ll pick you up” slogan, what is the backstory here?

Sandy Rogers
Oh, my gosh, well, I have the great fortune of spending most of my career at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, actually left Apple Computer to go work with Jack Taylor at Enterprise. And one of my early Jobs was to lead the marketing part of a business, the idea of picking customers up came from one of our local general managers, and Jack Taylor, the founder of Enterprise, when he first heard it, thought, “That sounds crazy, I don’t know how you’re going to be able to pick people up.”

But sure enough, in true Enterprise fashion Jack empowered the local teams to go run experiments, try and figure it out, perfect it, the idea of pick up then spread across the organization. And so, when I came in as the marketing guy, we were looking for a way to share a message that would get people’s attention.

And there was a lot of push to talk about our friendly service and our great employees. But back then, other car rental companies were talking about their great service.

Pete Mockaitis
You got OJ Simpson, running through Airports

Sandy Rogers
Everyone was talking about we try harder and so I thought talking about service, the way to prove you have great service is actually to deliver great service, but not brag about it. And so instead, we did some research. And we looked for things that nobody was talking about.

So, you need something that’s unique, but we also wanted something that customers felt was really important. And in all the different things we tested, pick up jumped to the top of the list because nobody was talking about pick up in the car rental industry. And when consumers heard, “You’ll pick me up?”, it was a great message. And so we started with that, “Pick Enterprise we’ll pick you up,” we worked with a terrific ad agency in New York, and created that commercial with a brown paper wrapper car and it became a very memorable way to communicate this wonderful service Enterprise still provides today.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s right and I’m curious, like, what proportion of customers end up actually requesting to be picked up?

Sandy Rogers
On my gosh, I’ve been out of the business for 12 years. So, I don’t have the latest—

Pete Mockaitis
I’ll grill you with hard data questions at the top of the interview, Sandy.

Sandy Rogers
But a lot of them do, a lot of people— Enterprise started in the home city car rental market. So, when people had an accident or they brought their car into the dealership or service, Enterprise was the only player in town who would pick you up and bring you back to the branch and get you into a car.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s handy, I’ve done it before.

Sandy Rogers
Oh, good. Well, I hope you had a good experience, Pete.

Pete Mockaitis
It was, it was very pleasant. Thank you. Cool. Alright, so that’s the history of Sandy Rogers. But let’s talk about some of the current stuff, you’ve got a book, Leading Loyalty. I want to hear, as you’re putting this together, what was maybe the most surprising and fascinating thing that you discovered, as you were executing this?

Sandy Rogers
We have worked with a wide range of organizations, I mean, small, big. And what really surprised me is these principles that we have uncovered through all the research we’ve done about empathy, responsibility, and generosity, that these principles are not only applicable in earning the loyalty of our customers—and everybody wants fierce customer loyalty—but they’re also the exact same principles we need to earn the loyalty of our coworkers, our colleagues, our family, our friends, our kids, our spouse.

And so, the deeper we got into this, and the more stories we heard, these principles are applicable to earning the fierce loyalty of every important person in our lives.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s really good. We got the empathy, responsibility, and what?

Sandy Rogers
And generosity is the third one.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Sandy Rogers
And principles are like gravity. I mean, they’re irrefutable. They act on you whether you agree with them or not. And so, if you don’t obey these principles of loyalty, you’re not going to earn the loyalty of other people. I mean, there’s no shortcuts.

And sure, people talk about frequent flyer miles and discounts and point programs but Pete, we’re talking about the loyalty that’s fueled in the heart. It’s when you tell your friends “oh, I got to tell you the story about this thing. It was unbelievable.” It’s that heartfelt emotional connection that that we’re trying to fuel with this book.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, so I dig that, well, could you share with us maybe a story? You got some heartfelt tales that you’ve collected, and you’re doing your research and talking to folks that maybe, so I can get a picture of you of a loyalty transformation. We had some lack of empathy, responsibility, generosity, and loyalty and then we saw things turn around.

Sandy Rogers
So, Pete, I was with the CEO of a large baby retail chain, and we were talking about empathy. And he stopped me, he said, “Sandy, I got to tell you a story. You may have heard it because it’s been all over the internet. This man comes into one of our stores, he’s carrying a load of unopened baby items, and he explains to our team that he and his wife had just experienced a miscarriage. And our team told him, ‘Sir, I’m so sorry about that but with a receipt you can’t return these items.’”

And the CEO just covered his face, he said, “Sandy, I don’t know how I could’ve possibly allowed a policy like needing a receipt get in the way of doing the obvious human thing for this poor man.” And you know what’s interesting about this story, Pete, two years later, this chain went bankrupt. They closed all of their stores. And they certainly had their financial challenges, I don’t know if it was from a lack of showing empathy, but I do know this, to earn the fierce loyalty of our customers, we have got to have empathy for them.

Pete Mockaitis
Wow, yeah, that’s powerful. And, boy, that really is an illustration in terms of, “At what point are your policies ironclad?” Every policy needs to have a breaking point somewhere below this extreme, you know.

Sandy Rogers
So, let me tell you one where we had a policy at Enterprise that was ironclad, okay? Do you remember where you were on 9/11?

Pete Mockaitis
I do. I was in my senior AP Rhetoric class with Mrs. Judy Federmeier when we got the word. I was like, “What?” Yeah.

Sandy Rogers
It was one of those moments. I was at the headquarters at Enterprise in St. Louis. Can you imagine what it was like at an airport rental branch that day? All the planes were grounded. At the Dallas Airport branch, in Washington, D.C., our branch manager has a branch that is teeming with people desperate to get home. All of our competitor car rental companies at Dallas Airport had closed and their managers had gone home, you know, check on their family and everything.

But our manager decided to stay open, and he couldn’t reach anybody on the phone because all the phone lines were jammed. And we had a policy, a firm ironclad policy back then, no one way routes. If you rented a car at the Dallas Airport branch, you had to bring it back to that Enterprise branch. Pete, he couldn’t reach anybody. He gets on a chair and stands up in front of his huge crowd of people, and he said, “Everybody, could I please get your attention? This gentleman here is going to Atlanta. Is there anybody else here that needs to go towards Atlanta or in that direction? Can you all please take this car? I’ve open up the soda machine, help yourself to a soda and a snack. Take the car, get yourselves home safely. I’ll figure out how to get my car back.”

He said, “Ma’am, where are you going? You’re going to St. Louis? Okay. Who else here needs to go west towards St. Louis? Please take this car, get yourselves home safely. I’ll figure out how to get my car back later.” This branch manager, Pete, scattered his cars to the winds. He sent them all over the country. He completely violated our policy about no one way routes.

And when we heard this story three days later, the founder, and the CEO, and the whole senior leadership team at Enterprise was never more proud, because although this team had completely violated our policies, they did exactly what our customer mission is all about. They showed incredible empathy for these customers. They took responsibility for the real job which was to get them home to their families. They were incredibly generous because imagine the cost of getting all these cars back, but we were never more proud.

And so, when I think about this story, are the people in your organization, whether you’re in a small two-person shop, or a large company, are you given the ability to be empathetic with your customers, to take responsibility for their real needs, to be generous? Because this is the secret, not just to customer loyalty, this is the way we earn fierce employee loyalty.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s powerful. Thank you.

Sandy Rogers
We started measuring customer service at Enterprise around 1994. About the same time that we were doing the research on what to advertise with pick up. And because we knew that to grow the business faster, customers had to walk away with a feeling that “wow! I love this place”.

Jack Taylor, the founder of Enterprise said, “It’s simple. When people walk out of our branches, they’ve got to feel like this is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”

So, in order to deliver great service, we decided we had to measure it. When we first started measuring service in 1994, Enterprise, we were pretty good overall, but there was huge variation across the chain.

And that’s often the challenge with organizations. I mean, you always have people, there’s pockets of greatness, but you see inconsistency from one location or one team to another. And so, we told everybody, this is the one of the most important things our mission is built on customer service, let’s get busy and improve it.

And over the next two years, we had zero percent improvement, everybody was focused on doing what they always did, which was running a great business and then Jack Taylor, the founder, inspired everybody and said, “No, I’m really serious about this.”

And so after this meeting we had in 1996, from that point forward, the decision was made not to promote anyone who’s customer service score was below the company average. And that, Pete, changed everything.

Over the next 10 years, all of a sudden, now everybody had skin in the game, we had a metric that clearly identified who needed to get better. And by not promoting the below average performers, over the next 10 years Enterprise went from delighting 67% of its customers to 80% of its customers. And that variation I talked about across the chain went from 28 points to less than 12 points.

Company sales in this 10-year period tripled from $2 to $7 billion. And Andy Taylor, the CEO at the time, this was the profound dedication and impact of improving our service across the whole chain. Fred Reichheld at Bain [& Company] created the Net Promoter Score based on this story that I just shared at Enterprise.

Pete Mockaitis
You know when I worked at Bain, I’ve done a case at Bain using the Net Promoter Score. I think I even read the book, The Ultimate Question.

Sandy Rogers
Yes.
Chapter Four in The Ultimate Question is this story.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, so well, fun fact. Cool beans. So, there we have it, we made a commitment, this was how it’s going to be, you can’t get promoted if you’re below average, and we saw tremendous results in terms of people more satisfied, revenues growing. So that’s really cool in terms of, you’ve got transformation, and then I’m imagining then, in terms of what constitutes a great customer service and great customer experience, there were some particular practices that invoked some more empathy, responsibility and generosity from the staff?

Sandy Rogers
No question. And so, by unleashing our teams to go out and be creative, and to figure out, “How are we going to make more of our customers happy? How are we going to make our operation more consistently excellent?” These wonderful ideas spread from the bottom up, and Enterprise had tremendous success.

But Pete, we’ve worked with a wide range of organizations over the last 15 years. And these principles hold true in every case. The customer has to feel like you have empathy for me, that you’ve taken the time to understand my hidden story, that you’ve taken responsibility for the real job I’m trying to get done, not just selling me your stuff, but you’ve taken the time to really understand what I’m actually trying to do or accomplish.

And three, they treat us with generosity in terms of the time it takes for us to do business with a firm, they respect us. And so those are the principles that we bring to life because we think they’re essential in every business, whether it’s a small bakery or it’s a large conglomerate.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, so I’d love to now talk about some of the specific practices, then, for human beings, we’re working with each other, we’re trying to facilitate some more loyalty, whether that’s with an external customer, an internal customer, a colleague, a friend, a collaborator. What are some of the key ways that you go about doing empathy, doing responsibility, doing generosity?

Sandy Rogers
The first step is we’ve got to adopt a loyalty leader mindset. Our mindset affects our behavior. And so, we choose to be a leader. It’s not what’s on our name tag, you know you’re a leader if you look over your shoulder and you see people following you.

So, this idea that, well, no, this is something my boss has to do or the CEO has to sign off on, no, everybody in the organization from the bottom to the top, has to choose to be a loyalty leader and take personal responsibility for living these principles more often.

So, let’s trail down into empathy. So, the first one is empathy and empathy is our ability to identify with and understand other people’s situation or feelings, and we know what it means. Now everybody has empathy, you don’t have to teach it. If you see somebody poked with a needle, we flinch and say, “Ugh.”

So why don’t we see more of it in the workplace and our everyday interactions? Well, we’ve got to talk about it, and we got to get into the practices. So, the first practice in showing empathy is to make a genuine human connection.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Sandy Rogers
And so often what we get from the companies we do business with, it’s not a genuine connection, it’s some kind of scripted thing that they’ve been taught to read to me on the phone after I’ve waited 15 minutes on hold, to simply tell the cable company that my internet is not working, and I’ve got an interview coming up and could you please fix it?

I don’t want to hear the script, I don’t want to hear the fake empathy. Because I know it’s a script they’re reading to me.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Sandy Rogers
And so we talk about making a genuine connection, even if you’re the third person in line, and I’m the host at a restaurant, and you just want to put your name down for a table, just with eye contact, I can let you know I see you, I care about you. I mean, I can give you the feeling that I’m going to take care of you. I’m so sorry you’re having to wait.

And once we make that connection, the next practice is I’ve got to listen to learn the story. We all have a hidden story. Sometimes, the hidden stories are obvious. If we’re driving down the road and we see a lady standing with her small children by a car with a hood open and steam coming out, and we get the story in a glance, right. We know what’s going on.

But so often, people will come into our workplace, whether they’re a customer or a coworker, and they’ve got a story that’s hidden from you. And for us to have empathy for that person, we’re going to have to genuinely connect so they know that this is not just a fake, “Hey, what’s up?” and when you know I don’t really want the answer. But no, “Really what’s going on? How are you?” And then I’ve gotta take the time to actually listen to their hidden story.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good.

Sandy Rogers
And I’ve got to listen not just with my ears, I’ve got to listen with my eyes and with my heart, too. I love the Chinese character for listen, it contains the symbols for all three, ears, eyes, and heart.

The deepest need of the human hearts to be understood. I mean, how good is it feel when people really get you? So that’s the idea. You can’t have empathy if you don’t know my story and you’re not going to hear my story unless I believe you’re genuine and you actually are listening to me.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, Sandy, I’d love to get your take from the human experience of, all right, you’re busy, you got a lot of things going on, you want to be empathetic but you could just forget, in the hustle and bustle and the taking care of business and your metrics and KPIs and hustling to the next thing because there’s a fire to put out, but there’s humans in your midst.

How do you recommend folks kind of center, ground, reorient their brains and their ways of being to really empathize with folks in that moment?

Sandy Rogers
And that’s what’s so hard about this because what we’re talking about here is common sense. People say, “yeah, I’ve learned this stuff in kindergarten” and you did. And hopefully, it’s ingrained in your psyche, these principles that start with empathy. But just because it’s common sense, unfortunately, it’s not common practice.

And the reason it’s not, in so many of our interactions is we’re busy! We’ve got revenue targets, expense reduction goals, I got a list of stuff, I’ve got to get done by five o’clock today. And so, in the whirlwind of our busy daily lives, we lose sight of the power of the simple practices that we’re teaching in this book.

And so, we’re teaching people things that they already know but we’re asking them to talk about them for 15 minutes a week, in a little huddle, the team comes together. And in those huddles, the most important thing you do is you celebrate the people on the team that are doing what you talked about last week.

So last week, we talked about listening to learn the hidden story. I got to tell this quick story about Pete, and you know, it’s fun, and people laugh and we high five, and that’s amazing. And then we talk about the next principle or practice, and how do we actually apply that in the work we do here?

It’s easy to talk about this stuff in theory, but yeah, how am I supposed to be generous to these customers that are yelling at me all day, right? So, we talk about it. And then we each make a commitment to go apply this and come back next week. So, we can celebrate what worked and talk about what didn’t work. And we don’t have to have all the answers. We’re just going to create space in the whirlwind of our busy lives, to talk about the things that actually make a difference to how we’re feeling when we leave work every day.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s great. And I’m sure that everyone’s context is a little bit different and by making that time, you’ll come up with the particulars that seem to be really effective in those realms. I’d love to hear when it comes to asking the questions, have you found that there are some particularly useful, valuable questions in building up the empathy?

Sandy Rogers
Well, sure, what brings you in today? What’s going on? Open ended questions, not yes/no questions. I mean, the classic yes/no question is that, the wait person who comes over, everything okay? It’s just like, you know, or how about you’re checking out of the grocery store, find everything, and the checker has their eyes on the work and doesn’t really listen to your answer about what have you found everything at the grocery store that day?

Now you kind of ask questions, and then leave space. And oftentimes, ask again. For example, one of the best ways that companies can improve their service: don’t wait for the survey to come, ask people walking out the door, “What, if anything, could we’ve done to better serve you today? I’m Sandy, I’m the manager, I’d love to know, no, really, I’m serious anything? Was there anything we could have done better?”

And when people understand that he’s sincere, that he actually wants to hear, then you get into a conversation, and you can learn their story. You can also learn about how to fix your business right now, if there’re any issues rather than hearing about it or reading about it in a bad Yelp post in a couple hours from now.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. Okay, so we talked about empathy, how about responsibility?

Sandy Rogers
So once you’ve taken the time to understand my hidden story, you know how I’m feeling. Now we’ve got to take responsibility for helping people succeed to reach their goals. And with responsibility, there are two practices. As I mentioned earlier, first, we’ve got to discover the real job to be done. And what does that mean?

Clayton Christensen at Harvard Business School writes that people hire products and services to do a specific job for them. People are hiring your podcast to do a specific job for them, right?

Pete Mockaitis
And I hope I’m nailing it.

Sandy Rogers
And I think you are! So, guy comes into a hardware store, “I’m looking for a wrench.” “Oh, they’re right over at aisle 14.” That’s not taking responsibility. No, instead, “Come with me. The wrenches are this way. What are you working on?” “Well, I got this old fence in my backyard and there’s these rusty nuts and bolts I gotta pull out so I can get rid of the fence.” “Well, will work any of these?”

“Yeah, they look like those hexagonal ones right over there.” “Oh, sure, to grip the rusty edges of those nuts so you can pull the bolts out and get rid of your fence, you’re going to need a set of box wrenches, they should do the trick.”

You see Pete, that’s taking responsibility for the real job. Getting rid of a fence. It’s not to sell the guy a wrench.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. I find that that’s so handy. But I think that I I’ve often had that situation where maybe I’m just sort of thinking about novel things or outside-the-box sorts of things. It just seems like I’m often asking for something that’s not exactly what they people do like I want a CRM, but I don’t really want to sell anything to people using this software. I’m just looking to keep track of ABC and then, and folks are just sort of, I guess, perplexed, like, “oh, well, let me show you the cool features we have.”

Sandy Rogers
Of course.

Pete Mockaitis
Sort of like, “Okay, well, I guess, I could look at those but that’s not really what I’m most interested in.” And so, I guess I have those exchanges frequently, on sort of, like the customer side of things.

So, I dig it in terms of like, “What are you trying to accomplish?” I think that’s one of the best questions ever.

Sandy Rogers
Exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
In terms of, hey, as a as a consultant, if you’re trying to crack a case for a client, as a coach, if you’re trying to help someone, because they have one specific question, you take a step back and ask, “what are you trying to accomplish”? And then it opens up everything, or just, as a worker getting an assignment and getting better clarity about what we’re really going after? So that’s a great question in terms of being able to surface the responsibility and do it all the better. Any other favorite questions there?

Sandy Rogers

Well, and that’s such an important question, “What are you trying to accomplish?”, and then lead with a need. So, before we jump into, “Oh, my gosh, let me tell you about our CRM system, and all the bells and whistles,” lead with their need.

So, let’s take an example. You go into a store and you’re looking for a treadmill or something. If I’ve taken the time to really understand why you’re buying a treadmill, or why you’ve come for that, I can lead with a need.

So, “Pete they help you do well and the upcoming half marathon that you’re gonna be doing with your team, this elliptical machine, I think makes the most sense, given some knee trouble you’ve had or this comfortable pair of running shoes should fit the bill.”

But it’s, it takes discipline to not just sell our products, which of course we’re excited about, and sales are good, but if we want to earn the fierce loyalty of our customers, we’ll take the time to not only understand how they’re feeling so we can have some empathy but we can take responsibility for “What is this guy really trying to accomplish?”

Pete Mockaitis
And I’m curious, so if someone is not too communicative like, “need a  treadmill”, he’s like, “okay, great, what makes you interested in a treadmill today?” I don’t know, any tips for those who are almost like a seek and destroy, get in get out mode, whether it’s a colleague or a customer. Any tips for slowing it down and getting the real stuff?

Sandy Rogers
It’s got to be conversational. It’s got to be natural. It can’t look like you know, some script or some spiel which you’re spilling out. It’s just “Hey, talk to me. I want to help you, I want to get you the treadmill, you’re looking for what’s going on? What brings you here? Why a treadmill now”?

And when people are trying to figure out, is this a genuine inquiry here? I mean, should I bother to spend time and actually tell this person my story?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Sandy Rogers
And if we’re sincere, though, they’ll actually tell you. One of the stories we heard is somebody comes into a store and “I’m looking for shoelaces.” “Why do you want shoelaces?” I mean it seems obvious to replace the laces in my shoes. But it turned out this person actually wanted shoelaces to tie the birdcage to the roof of their car.

I mean, it’s an odd admission, but just an understanding that, opportunity to teach this person about bungee cords and there are other solutions besides shoelaces to tie down bird cages.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I really like that. That’s good certainly. Okay, well, so then let’s hear about the third key, the generosity.

Sandy Rogers
Well, and so at the end of responsibility, not only do we have to discover the job but then we got to follow up, how did that go? And if there’re problems, one of the most powerful ways we can earn loyalty is to take responsibility for any problems somebody has.

And we teach people what we call the five A’s. We got to assume that the person has good intent. So, imagine you’re dealing with an angry customer. If you’re going to turn that detractor into a promoter, you got to first assume that their intent is good, they’re not here to rip us off, we’ll get to align with our emotions, get on the same side of the table, we need to apologize with no defensiveness whatsoever. We got to ask, “what can I do to make this right for you” and assure them of what I’m going to do and do it?

And so, we practice these five A’s, we talk about it, but getting good at follow up is quarter responsibility in earning the loyalty everybody wants. Okay, so now we get empathy and responsibility. Sorry Pete, go ahead.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure thing. So that’s sort of if they’re coming in to you, in terms of they’re saying, “Hey, this thing went wrong.”

Sandy Rogers
Well, and we don’t want to wait and find out. When I was running the London, England operation for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, I would get some pushback from our branch managers that had low customer service scores and weren’t getting promoted. And they said, “Well, how am I supposed to know how to get better? I’m only getting 25 surveys a month.”

And I said, “Well, hold on, how many renters do you see every month in your branch?” “Oh, 700 to 1000.” “What would prevent you from asking as many as you want, what can we be doing to better serve you? How does your rental go? I’d love to know.” You could get 1000 surveys a month if you want them and rather than waiting for the results, you could fix whatever issue you’ve got today before it affects other customers.

And it’s not just the negative. Now, here’s the positive, you will find out in most cases that the rental was great. Susie did an amazing job. Imagine how it’s going to feel to Susie to be able to go back into the branch and say, “I just want to let you know, you blew those guys socks off. They just loved what you did for them.” “Susie, great job”.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, and it’s also your opportunity to be like, “Thank you so much. If you could share that on the official survey. It would be great.”

Sandy Rogers
Oh yeah, that is it— Now, I tell you one thing at Enterprise, if you do that, you will get fired.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Sandy Rogers
And I know that doesn’t always happen at the car dealers where they badger to give the high scores. But early on Andy Taylor and his leadership team made the decision that if you talk about the survey, or talk about top box and all that stuff, we’re going to treat it like taking cash out of the cash box. Because it completely undermines the customers confidence that we actually care about customer service.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, absolutely, because they are like, I think about the Uber driver, “Give me a five-star rating.” “No, I’ll give you the star rating that you deserve.” But I’m just  intrigued here, but it’s also inappropriate if someone says, “Hey, this was awesome.” And they say, “Hey, thank you. If you’d like to share on the survey, then we’d appreciate it.” That’s also forbidden?

Sandy Rogers
Yes, and you know what, just say thank you. That’s great. Tell your friends, leave it at that. But don’t mention the survey, right?

Pete Mockaitis
Right, I think that that’s a useful distinction because many are tempted or inclined to do exactly that.

Sandy Rogers
It will then it just tells the customer that, well, this guy really just cares about his survey results. Say “Hey, if you had a great experience Pete, please tell your friends and we’d love to serve them too.”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, cool, gotcha. All right. So then, you were gonna say some more about generosity?

Sandy Rogers
Yeah. So, we’ve got empathy, responsibility and the third core principle for earning loyalty is generosity. Generosity is giving from our heart, more than is necessary or people expect, it’s kindness. And to be generous with other people there are two practices, we to share our insights openly, generously share our thoughts, feelings, knowledge, concerns, and we need to surprise people in unexpected ways.

And so we’ve a chapter on each of these things, on generosity and sharing insights, and then surprising with unexpected extras. Because those two things have to occur in order for me to feel like you’re being generous with me and my time.

Pete Mockaitis
So can you give some examples of insights?

Sandy Rogers
Sure, well, we share insights with our customers all the time. Imagine you go into a store, and you’re looking for a speaker for your TV so you can have better surround sound and you’re awed by the beautiful display and you find one, you take it to the register, and the woman working at the register says, “Well, does your TV support Bluetooth?” And you say, “Well, actually, I don’t know”.

Well, “What kind of TV do you have?” “Ah surf.” “For your TV, that speaker is not going to work, you’re going to need a little wireless transmitter, it doesn’t cost hardly anything, let me get it for you.”

See, that’s incredibly generous sharing insights, it’s reducing the effort that you’re going to go through to get surround sound to work with your TV. Now that cashier could have done that or not, it was incredibly generous that she chose to spend an extra 10 seconds and help you out.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s good.

Sandy Rogers
But we share insights with each other too. You and I may be coworkers in a business and you notice I have some opportunities to be more effective and how I’m working with our customers. But today we have a lot of confidence about sharing our feedback with our thumbs online. But we want to make sure that our millennials and Generation Z has the same confidence, providing feedback face to face.

And so, we talk a lot about that in the book too. And how to have a coaching conversation, how to recognize what people are doing well, how to declare intent, how to have people walk away and say, “Wow, I mean, that was incredibly generous, that Pete shared that with me,” right? But we’re going to practice it and because there’s a way to do it, that is natural, and shows that the feedback is loving feedback and not criticism.

Pete Mockaitis
Sure thing. And how about these sort of extra little tidbits? What are some of your favorite examples there?

Sandy Rogers
Well, surprising with unexpected extras, and Enterprise is the master at this, all these branches had to get better, right? And so, they ran a jillion experiment, a cold bottle of water on a hot day, going to the body shops and dealerships and bringing them ice cream, or donuts, or just little ways, little experiments.

And so one of the things you want to do in huddle 10, week 10, you get your team together, what is something that we could do for our customers that we’ve never done before that would delight them, something that we could do ourselves, we don’t even get permission from head office.

And then vote on the best ideas and then go do it.  Run a little experiment and see what happens. And it’s incredibly engaging for your team. And it’s wonderful with customers, hotel guests, housekeeper notices that they’re out of toothpaste, and leaves a little tube of toothpaste with a note, it looked like you were running out, so I left you this.

I mean, imagine what the guest feels like, that little extra didn’t cost anything for the hotel. And it not only made the guests feel great, the housekeeper felt great, too.

Pete Mockaitis
Right. That’s cool. Could you share perhaps a couple examples of these principles coming to life in terms of colleague to colleague?

Sandy Rogers
Oh my gosh, well, to earn the loyalty of our coworkers, the same principles apply. And when organizations are—they want to engage their employees, one of the challenges that people like Gallup report is that the lower you go in the organization, the lower the employee engagement, the higher the turnover. And we know that the difference between a good and a great experience often comes down to how the people on the frontline are treating us.

Whether it’s face to face or on the phone or online. And so, recognizing that the frontline is the lowest paid, and oftentimes the least trained, and has lots of challenges with retention, it is vitally important that the leaders are living these principles.

My friend Shep Hyken, often says, “The customer experience rarely exceeds the employee experience.” So, we have to first earn the fierce loyalty of our teammates, of our employees, they’ve got to be excited about coming to work, they’ve got to say, “I’d recommend this place to work to all my friends,” and then that carries over to how the customers feel, which then drives the sales that we all want, and finally, the bottom-line profits—but it’s kind of happened in that order.

Pete Mockaitis
Perfect. Sandy, tell me anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things.

Sandy Rogers
What I would say is, this is basic stuff that you did learn in kindergarten, but you got to create space, you got to create 15 minutes a week, almost every mission statement I’ve ever seen mentions customers and how important they are. I mean, it’s hard to argue your customers aren’t important, right?

But if they’re so important, and they’re the cornerstone of the mission statement, then we ought to be able to carve out 15 minutes each week to celebrate the people who are living these things that are creating our customer promoters.

And to also talk about what these principles and practices mean, and how to apply them, what the challenges are, to be generous, to be more responsible, to have empathy, to follow up. All these things we’ve been talking about, that it sounds great, but let’s talk for a few minutes about how I can actually do that on this team.

We’re on the calls, we’re in a call center, we’re on the phone all day. And I’m being held to this two-minute timeline for the length of calls, how am I supposed to do this? And so, we want to create space to have these conversations to help organizations get better.

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

Sandy Rogers
One of my favorite quotes is “no risk-it no biscuit.” It’s a very simple, but I find that what gets in the way of us, all of us in doing these things that make sense is there’s a fear that, “oh, it may not work or it may not be received well.” We’ve got to make the choice to go out on a limb to try these things, to run these huddles.

We’ve had so many organizations, at first maybe have questions about, “Well, will our people really do this?” We had a chain of auto repair stores. And they said, now let me get this right, you’re expecting these guys that work under the hood of cars and trucks all day to get together and talk about empathy, and generosity, and responsibility?

And I said, “Well, let’s see if any of them are interested.” And a group of 20 said, “We want to go do this, let us go do this in our stores.” And over six months Pete, we were measuring their customer service scores while they were running these huddles, they increased their customer service scores by an average of 10 points. Three of these 20 stores increased their scores by 20 points.

And they said, “You know what, this is the most fun 15 minutes of our week. We were celebrating each other, and we were talking about how to bring this stuff to life.” The simple idea is put everyone into a position to enrich other people’s lives. These principles allow that to happen.

Pete Mockaitis
Awesome. Now, could you share with us a favorite study something that you found enlightening?

Sandy Rogers
Tell me what you mean by a favorite study?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, like an experiment or bit of research.

Sandy Rogers
Just sort of think, I think some of the research that’s really come to my mind are the things that we have learned, the link between customer service scores in growth and profitability in the business. We often get asked to quantify what on the surface, sounds obvious, if we get better customer service, of course, the business will grow faster and will make more money but CEOs often say, “yeah, prove it.”

I remember one chain that we were working with, they had 3500 stores, and we were measuring their employee engagement, and also their customer service. And the CEO said, “Well, I’ve done a little analysis of my own and I’m not seeing a strong correlation between the employee engagement scores you’re giving me and the customer service scores you’re giving me across our 3500 stores.”

And I thought, “Uh-oh, well let’s see what’s going on here.” And one of the guys on our team, said, “Well, I’ll tell you what, let’s add another question to the employee engagement survey to find out if those store teams actually know their customer service scores.”

Because Pete, here’s the theory, people play harder when they’re keeping score. I mean, look at the kids on the playground, as soon as you start keeping score, the game gets a lot more fierce and interesting, right?

If the people in the store don’t even know their customer service score for the store, they’re not really playing the game of improving customer service, right. So, we found out that of all those stores, 40% of the store teams had a very clear idea of what their customer service score was, 60% had no idea what it was.

And guess what? The correlation between employee engagement and customer service was excellent in the stores that actually knew their customer service scores. But in the stores that were clueless about their customer service scores, of course, there was no correlation between employee engagement and customer service because they weren’t really playing. Yeah, you could love your job, but not be focused on customers.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, sure. Like “This guy keeps getting in the way. We’re having some great jokes. This guy keeps interrupting, this customer over here.” Well, thank you. And how about a favorite book?

Sandy Rogers
Oh, my gosh, I am rereading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Have you heard of that book?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, very much.

Sandy Rogers
I remember reading it, like 1990 and, or whatever. And I am rereading it now because I find so many of those, habits, incredibly important in the effectiveness of our team.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite tool? Sorry, re-wind.

Sandy Rogers
Like be proactive. I mean, I just think that’s, I know Stephen Covey starts with this idea of being proactive, and, carrying your own weather and not looking to blame other people for what’s going on in your domain. But it takes good reminding every day to go back to the Viktor Frankl insight from the Holocaust that the ultimate human freedom is that gap between stimulus and response, and you get to decide how you feel about how other people are treating you. And that’s a very powerful insight that’s worth revisiting. But you’re asking you about our favorite tool?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh yeah, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Sandy Rogers
Gosh, what tool, could I not live without, Google Maps. That’s how I find my way everywhere.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely, and how about a favorite habit?

Sandy Rogers
A favorite of the habits of Stephen’s habits?

Pete Mockaitis
That could be Stephen’s or yours.

Sandy Rogers
I think sharpening the saw, I think this idea of constantly learning outside of the domain that we spend most of our lives, to get other perspectives. And I love when Steve Jobs talked about connecting the dots between what he— he said for example, we have these movable fonts, because of some class he dropped into, when he was just taking classes after he dropped out of college and just connecting the dots between different things. It just, it helps us to be more effective in the work we do every day, it also makes work everyday more interesting.

Pete Mockaitis
And is there a particular nugget you share in your book or with clients that really seems to connect and resonate with them and they repeat it back to you?

Sandy Rogers
I think the gist that people come back to us with is this idea about putting people into position to enrich other lives. And it’s really around trusting them. Think about the organizations today that don’t trust their employees.

They say, “You know what, we’re going to give you a script, we’re going to put you on a time clock, you have to live in this tiny little box.” Rob Markey at Bain talks about giving your people freedom within a defined framework. I mean, that’s certainly what Enterprise did. But boundaries were well defined. But we gave them a lot of freedom within those boundaries. And I’ll give you some examples.

American Express completely changed how they managed their call centers, when they said, “We’re going to throw out the scripts, we’re going to throw out the time clock, your job is to create promoters.” And it not only made the card member happier and made the employees a lot happier! I mean, now this job is fun.

Tony Hsieh of Zappos totally has that insight. You think: make them happy! Okay, and he’s got the crazy story that somebody calls up and looking for a pair of shoes that Zappos doesn’t even sell but they fulfill the sale anyway.

Southwest Airlines, “Hey, look, these are the rules. You have to buy FAA guidelines, tell people about these things.” Now, if you choose to sing it, or do it as part of a comedy routine, hey, more power to you.

So, I think one of the real keys to earning that fierce employee loyalty and customer loyalty that everybody wants is we got to trust our people. We got to let them use their natural gifts and abilities within a broad framework. You got to have guidelines but within these guidelines, go for it and have fun.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. And Sandy, if folks want to learn more, get in touch, where would you point them.

Sandy Rogers
They can certainly come to www.franklincovey.com, and they can come to my LinkedIn page.

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

Sandy Rogers
My final challenge is take a look at these principles. Try it. Say “I’m going to invest 10 or 15 minutes a week, I’m going to run this play. I’m going to run this for 11 weeks and see whether I feel differently about the work I do and whether coming to work every day is more fun, whether it has more meaning.”

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Well Sandy, this has been a treat. Thanks so much for taking this time and sharing the good word. I wish you much luck and loyalty and fun in all your ventures.

Sandy Rogers
Pete, thank you so much.

411: The Seven Mindsets of an Effective Connector with Michelle Tillis Lederman

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Michelle Tillis Lederman says: "Being relationship-based... gets results faster, easier, better."

Michelle Tillis Lederman discusses the benefits of being a connector, the mindsets required to flourish, and how to connect well.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The three reasons people connect with each other
  2. Why to become a better connector even if you don’t think you need to network
  3. Tips for easier relationship maintenance

About Michelle

Michelle Tillis Lederman, one of Forbes Top 25 Networking Experts, is the author of several books including the internationally known, The 11 Laws of Likability, and her latest The Connectors Advantage. Michelle is the founder and CEO of Executive Essentials, which provides customized communications and leadership programs. A former finance executive and NYU Professor, Michelle is a regular in the media appearing on NBC, CBS, Fox, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, CNBC, and others. She holds degrees from Lehigh University and Columbia Business School.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Michelle Tillis Lederman Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Michelle, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast for the second time!

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I love the title of your podcast.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, thank you. I like your titles as well. I really think that – what is it that the copywriters say? Clear beats clever. It’s like, “Oh, I know what I’m getting here.”

Michelle Tillis Lederman
It’s interesting. I had struggled so much with the title for the new book because I love alliteration, The 11 Laws of Likability, Executive Essentials, that’s my thing. I originally titled the book The Connector’s Club and I got some feedback that it sounded exclusive and it sounded elite. I said that’s really not what I’m trying to project. I want people to realize that being a connector’s accessible. I let go of the alliteration and we landed on The Connector’s Advantage.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, now you’ve got my wheels turning in terms of alliteration. It’s like, Connector’s Club beats Connector’s Cabal in terms of being less exclusive.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I tried the Connector’s Core. I was like, “I’ve got to find my alliteration.” But the truth is what I’m talking about is the advantage of being relationship-based in your results, so that’s what you get.

Pete Mockaitis
Fair enough. Fair enough. I definitely want to dig into that, but I also first wanted to hear you’ve been doing some connecting all over the world having visited over 70 countries. I wanted to get your take on is there a country you think more people need to visit because they just don’t even know how cool it is?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
When I first thought about that question, I thought our own country.

Pete Mockaitis
There you go. America.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Yeah, there’s so much – I will tell you, even after I think at the time I had been to 60 plus countries and I went to Yellowstone and I was blown away. It was one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been. It’s right here. We don’t actually visit our own country enough. I think we need to do that more.

But if I was actually answering the question that you were asking, two of the places on my top five list of places I’ve been are Thailand and Africa.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh good.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Africa is kind of broad. There’s just so many places to visit within Africa. I went from South Africa up to Central Africa and I’m going back. I can’t even narrow it down. There’s just so much to see.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s cool. That’s cool. In Thailand, what made it great? I guess I’m thinking that – I haven’t been there, but I’ve looked at it and I was intrigued by just how far a dollar could go and custom made clothing and more.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I did a lot more custom made clothing in Vietnam. That was awesome.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh yeah?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Yeah. I was in Thailand on 9/11 when the towers came down, so how I was kind of taken care of by the people on this remote island. The people are amazing. The food is amazing. They have everything: amazing beaches, the jungle, the wildlife, the city. It just had everything.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, thank you. Duly noted. Suggestion logged. Okay, cool. Now I want to hear about your book, The Connector’s Advantage. What’s sort of the key idea here?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Well, the big idea behind the book is that there are certain ways that connectors think, act, and interact that enables stronger connection. The advantage of being relationship-based is that you get results faster, easier, better. I know it’s not correct grammar, but that’s it. Faster, easier, better.

When we can infuse these mindsets, anybody can infuse these mindsets. That’s what I was saying before about it being accessible to all. There is such a thing as a non-connector, but there’s very few people that are truly non-connectors out there.

Pete Mockaitis
Right. Well, that’s what I guess I’m wondering when you say being a connector, being relationship-based, you achieve huge results faster, bigger, stronger, and better, but what would be the alternative, like the alternative perspective of being less relationship-based?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
A lot of times people talk about it as being transactional in your interaction.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, got you.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I always say people are connecting for purpose, connecting for need, connecting for themselves. It is a mindset of valuing the relationship.

Here’s how I equate it in life. When you think back in time to the agricultural age, land was the greatest asset that a person could have. Then the industrial age it was machine. In the information age it was technology. We’re now in the network age. The greatest asset that you can have are your relationships. If you think about them in the company perspective, they’re people.

When we say non-connector, a non-connector is somebody who doesn’t believe in the value of relationships. A non-connector is somebody who is so adverse to socializing and to placing any importance on the people. That’s what I’m saying. It’s very limited.

But there’s an entire spectrum. It’s not you are or you’re not. It’s where do you fall on the spectrum of connection. You could be emerging. You could be responsive. You could be acting, but maybe not quite yet a niche or a super or a global super connector. The truth is, you might not need to be. But the further up the spectrum you go, the easier, faster and better results you come up with.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, so I hear you. Maybe it’s just far from my experience or personal belief system to imagine being a non-connector. Maybe we’ll calibrate a bit on the spectrum to – because I think I’ve been here before and some listeners have as well.

Let’s say there’s somebody who’s like, “Connecting is good and cool and networking is apparently something I should be doing, but you know, Michelle, I’m not in a sales or recruitment or marketing-type functions and I’m also quite happy with the job that I’ve got going on right now as well as my friends and the people I hang out with. What is the necessity for me to go about doing some good connecting?”

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Well, that’s great and I’m really happy you have all those things in your life.

Pete Mockaitis
The fictitious person is doing good.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I’m so happy for this person who is in that place in their life. That said, we don’t stay stagnant in our life. If you think about all the things that you may want in your life, personal and professional, it impacts both. You might want a new job externally, but you might just want a promotion internally. You are 70% more likely to get a promotion if you have an active mentor relationship.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s quite a stat. Thank you.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Yeah. Maybe you’re not in sales, but part of your job might be to make the customer happy. Referrals make all the difference in how you are perceived within the organization. It’s part of your brand. It’s part of whether or not you get a yes to being on a project that you’re really interested in. Do people want to work with you? It’s also with health and happiness.

There is a statistic. Julianne Holt-Lunstad out of Brigham Young University did research on social isolation. There was an equal mortality impact of social isolation as to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh wow.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Isn’t that crazy?

Pete Mockaitis
Mm-hm.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
If you want to be healthier, which we probably all want, we need to be social. We need to be around other people. It’s also happiness. If you want to be happier on the job, close work relationships will boost your productivity, boost your job satisfaction, and actually predict your happiness on the job. It’s really impacting so many different things.

But let’s even take it a step further. You have all these things and you’re happy and you’re happy with your friends, but what about you might want to buy a new house or maybe a storm hit and you need some repair work. Finding those referrals and finding those resources-

Pete Mockaitis
Oh yeah. It’s so hard to get home renovation professionals that are good.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Right. Faster, easier, better. All I have to do is put a little note out to my network, “I need this kind of doctor,” “I need this kind of resource,” and I have results within an hour. It’s not just one person. I’ll get multiple results. That’s what being a connector can do for you.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, thank you. We have a nice compelling why. Let’s dig into a bit of the how here. In your book you lay out seven connector mindsets. Can you give us a little bit of a walkthrough orientation to each of them?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Sure. I’ll list the seven for you and then we can dive into each one a little bit. But what I want to say is that these mindsets are nonlinear. It’s not like you have to do one then the other. Yes, I write them in a certain order because you have to when you’re reading a book, but they enable each other. You need to think about the ones that you might need to adopt or enhance. There’s some that you probably are doing really well.

The seven mindsets of a connector are that they are open and accepting. They have a clear vision. They believe in abundance. Connectors trust. They’re social and curious—and social and curious is one mindset. They’re conscientious and they have a generous spirit. As somebody who is a connector, does that resonate for you?

Pete Mockaitis
Yes, indeed. It does. I want to dig into a little bit of all of them. All right, open, accepting, clear vision, believe in abundance, trust, social and curious, conscientious and generous spirit.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Oh, good memory.

Pete Mockaitis
No, I totally have your table of contents of your book in front of me. Secrets. Insider secrets of the podcaster. We’ll put these in the show notes or the Gold Nugget. Anyway-

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Did any of those mindsets surprise you or be like, “Oh, that’s not what I thought of before?”

Pete Mockaitis
I would say that I buy them all. I would say, yup, that works for me. Although, I think there’s the potential for misconception on some of them. For example, let’s just start with open and accepting. What does that mean and what does it not mean?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Is that one that was surprising or misconstrued?

Pete Mockaitis
It wasn’t, but I think I’m going to give a little bit of a treatment to each and then delve deeper into a couple.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
You have to tell me because I’m guessing at the two that I think you’ll say for that, so I’m waiting to see if I’m right.

But open and accepting is about not just being open and accepting to other people and to connecting, but to be open and accepting of yourself. One of the things I talk about is to accept ourselves and what I call your unique charms. A unique charm is a quality about yourself that is kind of innate to who you are, but that quality doesn’t always work for you, but you don’t want to change it either.

Pete Mockaitis
I like the way you’ve packaged that because I think I’ve got a number of these and they’ve brought me great joy and great pain over the course of-

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Tell me about one of your unique charms.

Pete Mockaitis
I’ve been told that I talk differently in terms of I guess word choice and pacing, meter, annunciation, pausing. For some people, that’s a little off-putting like, “That’s a little bit weird. Is this guy for real? What’s his story? I don’t know if I feel super comfortable having that person be my boyfriend,” is what I’m thinking about.

Other teams it’s just like, “Oh man, this guy he’s kind of fun and different and unique. I enjoy sort of the energy and the vibe of it’s just sort of fun and different being around him.” As a podcaster I’d say, hey, that’s a differentiator. I’m going to claim that as a unique charm there.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
That is a great example of a unique charm. Mine’s not that different. I’ve had multiple ones, but one of mine is that I can talk a lot, which I’m sure you’ve already picked up on. I was always very uncomfortable with silence. I’ve gotten better at it. But I would just fill it up. If I ever got nervous, I would just talk more and talk faster. Here’s the thing. I can come on too much and I can come on too strong. That’s when it can work against you.

But what we talk about in being self-accepting is not just saying, “Well, this is me. Deal with it.” It’s about saying, “Okay, in this exchange it’s not working for me, so I’m going to flex.” A flex is a momentary, temporary adjustment to enable connection to form with somebody else. It’s not changing who you are, but it’s adapting to enable somebody to see beyond that quirk or that charm.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes, I like it. Very good. Okay. We’re being open and accepting of ourselves as well as others. Can you give us an example of what are maybe some barriers or closeness, non-accepting-ness that people can mistakenly engage in?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Okay, so that was that phrasing that I have to now follow non-something.

Pete Mockaitis
I guess the opposite of being open and accepting – closed and non-accepting.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Well, so one of the things that we tend to do as humans, which is totally natural and we should not be hard on ourselves for it is that we quickly form conclusions. Now, this is natural and this is necessary and has been in the past. You had to determine very quickly was somebody friend or foe. Do I need to be ready for fight or flight? But it’s still innate.

We have brains that are constantly taking in information, processing it, and forming conclusions. What I try to have people do is to slow their thinking down. One of the things that I talk about is staying in a place of curiosity versus conclusion.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, yeah.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
And to stay open to being wrong. I think back to business school. You’re put into these cohorts in business school with 60-something other people and you go through your entire first semester in all of your classes with these same 63 people. There was this one woman – now, your listeners can’t see me, but I am about 4 foot 10 and a quarter.

Pete Mockaitis
You’ve got to count every fraction.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I’ve got to go with that quarter. I want to round up to 4’ 11’’, but the driver’s license people wouldn’t let me. There was a woman in the cluster who was, oh God, 5’ 10’’, former model, born with a silver spoon in her mouth, gorgeous, smart, rich. You just wanted to hate her, right?

She never spoke to me. I always felt like she was just looking down her nose at me because she literally was looking down at me because she was towering over me. We went on a spring break trip together and ended up being placed in the same room. I thought, “Oh my God, this is going to be the worst trip ever.”

Turns out she’s really shy. She just didn’t talk to me because she was not an outgoing person and she didn’t know what to say. We were on this trip and I got to know her and we talked. I ended up being a bridesmaid in her wedding.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, there you go.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
That is where part of me started saying, “Oh, you know what? I was too quick to look at certain pieces of information and to draw a conclusion and then look to prove myself right.” That’s what we do. We look to prove ourselves right. To being open and accepting is to stay open to being wrong, to stay in a place of curiosity. I give these four questions in the book to help you stay in that place and to question your first assessment.

Pete Mockaitis
Very good. Well, thank you. That’s well understood and encouraging. It’s like any time you think that someone doesn’t like you, it’s like there could totally be another angle to the story and wouldn’t it be fun to discover what that could end up becoming.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Yeah, and sometimes it’s not about you.

Pete Mockaitis
Right.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
It’s about them. We’re a little self-centered, right?

Pete Mockaitis
Mm-hm. Well, tell us a little bit about the clear vision piece now.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
This is one of the ones I thought you might think could be misconstrued. This is one I often get push back on because people will say, “Well, connectors are really supposed to be outwardly focused and focused on the other person.” I say well, yes, they’re relationship-based. Relationships are bidirectional.

But if connectors are going to get the advantage – results faster, easier, better – they need to know the results they’re looking for. Having a clear vision is about knowing what you want and knowing how to ask for it.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
In this chapter, one of the lessons on teaching is how to ask for what you want and to ask in a way that doesn’t put the relationship at risk.

Pete Mockaitis
What are some of your top do’s and don’ts for asking?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Well, there’s different types of asks. I’ll give you one example. My favorite is called the opt-out ask. I tell you when you make an ask, give them the reason to say no. Now, I know that sounds counterintuitive, but if somebody wants to say no, they’re going to find a way to say no. If they’re uncomfortable saying no, now they want to avoid you and that puts the relationship at risk.

If instead you say, “If you have the time,” there’s your excuse, “If your company will allow it,” there’s your excuse, “If,” blank. If whatever reason I can tell you that you can use and it would be okay to say no, then I would love for you to do this. Then they could easily say, “Oh, I am really too busy right now.” Then you can say, “That’s okay,” and you live to get a yes another day.

Pete Mockaitis
I kind of like that. The request I get most often these days is “I want to be on your podcast.”
It would be kind of refreshing and nice if someone gave me that upfront permission, which is “If you think this would absolutely delight your audience, otherwise feel free to delete this immediately.” That would make me feel a little bit better. Yeah.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Well, it’s interesting because as I’ve been doing podcasts, at the end we always have our little conversations and I often say, “Hey, if there’s another show you think I’d be a great fit for, I welcome a recommendation.” That’s very easy for you to be like, “Well, I can’t think of a show that is a great fit.” That’s okay.

Pete Mockaitis
Right.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Or that pitch person can say and be a little bit more specific about “Here’s why I think it would be a fit if you’re looking for that angle right now.” There’s your excuse, “We’re not focused on that angle right now.” You can see how quickly you can find that little clause to add to give that person permission.

Pete Mockaitis
I think it’s also great because in a way it gives you some permission because if you’re like, “Oh, I’m kind of scared to ask. I don’t know. I don’t want to put them out. I don’t want to be too aggressive or make them uncomfortable.” It’s sort of like if that little bridge lets you get over the hump so that you can make the request that needs to get made, then well, it’s just great for yourself psychologically.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Exactly. We have to get over the hurdle of asking. I forget that you can ask half the time. I’m so accustomed to asking somebody else what they need and trying to be helpful and give and all of that, but I have to remember and we all have to remember that we are allowed to ask as well.

It’s much easier to ask when you have a mindset of that generous spirit, which I know we’ll get to because even if you haven’t given to the person you’re asking something of, when you know you have that mindset, it gives you permission to put a request out to the universe because you give to the universe. I know that sounds a little bit hoo-ha, but energy is exponential.

Pete Mockaitis
Right. Let’s talk about hoo-ha and the universe. Let’s talk about abundance for a second because that could go any number of interpretations. When you say they believe in abundance, what precisely do you mean by that?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Well, when I originally wrote the chapter, I said people come from a place of abundance versus scarcity. Then I just kind of wanted to get rid of the negativity and I just said they believe in abundance. I don’t want people to think that abundance means that you have a Pollyanna attitude and everything is just rose-colored glasses. That’s not what abundance is.

But abundance is the belief and the mindset that there is enough and that what is right now, doesn’t mean that’s how it has to stay.

I always think back to my time in my finance days. Usually they don’t put in my bio that I’m a recovering CPA, but I did spend ten years in the field of finance. When I started, there was only one female partner in the firm. It was a scarce accomplishment for a woman to rise to the top. At that time, women were very competitive with each other because it was you or me. That is a scarce attitude.

Pete Mockaitis
Got you. Yeah.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
An abundant attitude would be okay, there might only be one now, but who’s to say there can’t 100 in a few years. It’s open to the possibility of more.

For me, it enabled me to start because, I will tell you, this one’s hard for me. I grew up as a without and it was hard for me to move from that knowing place of protectiveness and defensiveness and scarcity and keep what you have because you might not have it, to a place of “I don’t have competitors. I have a … partners. I have a lot of potential people to collaborate with. But I’ve got nobody to compete with.”

Pete Mockaitis
Right. I think that that’s a nice way to think about in terms of abundance. It’s not that we have to fight for a limited slice of anything because there could just be more of that something.

I keep bringing it back to the podcast because I guess when you have a mic in your face, that’s what you’re thinking of. I think that some would say, “Oh, there’s a finite amount of time that someone can listen to a podcast in the course of their day” and therefore you might think of other podcasters as competitors, but I really don’t.

I think well, if you have enough really good engaging shows out there, you’ll just sort of reallocate time as a listener away from something less compelling maybe in terms of lower quality TV or talk radio or whatever. I’m right with you there. It’s not about competing with others for a finite number of spots, but, especially if you’re getting creative, you can grow the number of spots.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Yeah, or even a finite number of guests. I know a lot of podcasters that have the same guests. I was on one last week and he was saying one of the things about abundance is not to judge yourself or compare yourself to others. It’s to really kind of have your own measures against yourself because as soon as we start doing that to others, then we’re coming from a scarce place.

Pete Mockaitis
Right. When I was thinking about abundance, I was wondering in terms of – I enjoy connecting. I think it’s a lot of fun to build relationships to hang out, chat with people, and become friendlier. I guess where I get hung up a little bit is the extent to which time spent doing that is with opportunity cost potentially at the expense of cranking out deliverables, work product, whatever.

I’m sort of wondering, well, how much is optimal in terms of the allocation of time because in a way, if I’m doing stuff on LinkedIn with folks or at networking event, a cocktail party, etcetera, then I’m not producing a document or podcast episode or whatever.

I guess it’s about that clear vision again, is what is the best amount of time to spend doing the people stuff versus the other stuff because your thesis here is that those connections let you get more done faster, better, but at the same time you are spending less time sort of doing the thing itself.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Totally get it. The struggle is real. It is one of my biggest challenges is finding the time. I have these mindset missions throughout the book so that you can think about how you can incorporate that mindset into your interactions. In this chapter, the mindset mission is about investing time, but there’s also finding time. There’s a lot of time that is underutilized.

I’m all for downtime and I believe in it wholeheartedly. If that’s what you are intending to do with that time, then don’t do anything else. But there are times where it is just underutilized.

For example, lunches. We often are just doing them at our desk. You’re not really being efficient with your work. That’s a great time to actually – once a week, it doesn’t have to be every day – just once a week have a meal with somebody else. It can be right in the building. It can be right in the kitchen area. You don’t have to go out and make it crazy, but just spend a little time with somebody else.

Your commute time is another underutilized time. Your not really downtime, but I’ve shared commutes with people as ways to catch up. I’ve done emails reconnecting with people while I’m commuting. That’s great found time. If you’re a driver, it’s a great time to be on the phone. They can keep you company.

For me, anytime I’m in food coma is a great underutilized time because my brain’s not really functioning after I eat, so might as well schedule a call after lunch every day and just do a catch up until the food digests and I can use my brain again.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s very clever.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Yeah. I always say do the things that you’re doing and invite people to do them with you. I used to do dog walk play dates. I met somebody at the dog park that I ended up hiring on my team. I do the circuit at the gym and I will get in a group with some people to catch up with the moms from school or somebody who is also writing a book or whoever it might be that’s in the gym that day.

You can capitalize on the things that you’re already doing and invite people who might be interested in doing them with you.

Pete Mockaitis
I love it. I love it. Tell me then, what’s the conscientious part about?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I’m so glad you went there because when you were talking about the podcasting and people asking you for things, I’m like oh, you’re going right into the conscientious mindset because connectors do what they say they’re going to do. They follow up. They follow through.

In order to be conscientious and to have that mindset, you need to be very clear on what you’re willing to say yes to and be comfortable saying no and setting boundaries. One of the things I talk about in this chapter is know how to say no and know how to say yes. Yes and no are never just yes or no. There’s ‘yes, if,’ and ‘yes, after’, and ‘yes, when,’ and ‘yes, with,’ and there’s no ‘but.’

Pete Mockaitis
‘Yes, if,’ ‘yes, when,’ yes, after,’ not ‘yes, but.’

Michelle Tillis Lederman
The ‘but’ goes with the ‘no.’

Pete Mockaitis
I hear you.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
The ‘no’ is hard, but we might say, “No, not at this time,” “No, but this,” “No, but somebody else can-.” You might not be able to do something that they’re asking, but here’s something else. It feels a lot better for everybody.

Pete Mockaitis
Right. I think it might be an Austin Powers’ movie where they say “Short answer yes with an ‘if.’ Long answer no with a ‘but,’” which is kind of what I’m thinking about and giggling right now.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Okay, so I don’t know that line, but I’m loving it ….

Pete Mockaitis
I think it’s from an Austin Powers’ movie. We’ll make sure to link to that. That’s very important for the show notes. We’ll cover that. I like that a lot.

I want to hear some of your favorite ways to say no. You sort of offered some alternative resources they can link to or different timings because say no is tricky for some people, so how do you do it well?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
One of the things I do is I give them a way that they can get a yes later. For you, if somebody wants to come on your show and it’s not the right fit right now, you might say, “Well, when you have written a book,” or “When you are focused on this area.” You could give them a when they could get a yes from you.

For me, I get a lot of people asking me to come do talks. I have a pro bono calendar and I’m happy for non-profits and for causes that I think are wonderful to come out and do a talk, but I also try to set boundaries because my husband literally had me put the word ‘no’ on my computer for over a year until the sticky gave out to give myself permission to say no because I was saying yes to everything and then you stretch yourself too thin.

I remind myself that saying no to something is saying yes to something else. Sometimes that saying yes to something is saying yes to yourself or your family or that downtime.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
That was a mindset to become more conscientious of what I was agreeing to. When somebody would ask me to do a free talk and they were like, “Yeah, we have 30 people and it’s an hour from your house during rush hour, but we’ll buy you dinner.”

Pete Mockaitis
Right.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I can’t eat when I’m talking anyway. And it wasn’t really about the dinner. It was “No, I can’t do that, but I’ll tell you what. If you can get a couple of organizations together and get me a couple hundred people and if they’ll each buy a book in advance, I will come down.”

Pete Mockaitis
Right.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Or something along those lines that say “Here’s how I can say yes to you.”

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m intrigued. When you say that you’re saying no to something is saying yes to something else. That’s getting me thinking of did you have, as you were learning to say no better, a particular sort of default comparison point in terms of “Hey, if I say no to that, I’m saying yes to this particular other thing,” whether it’s myself or family or a paid speaking engagement or whatnot.

I’m thinking that really strikes me as a means of if you can establish a clear bar in terms of “what am I comparing this to?” Because in a way you’re comparing it to everything, opportunity cost means you can do anything else in the world if you weren’t doing that thing. But did you have these sort of go-to comparison points like “Is this more worthwhile than X?”

Michelle Tillis Lederman
It’s a really good point. I love that. I don’t know if I really did. I think at any given time that I was being asked it was what was on my mind at that moment. But what I was finding was I was being asked to do things that I just didn’t have capacity. In my mind I was leaving myself open for potential and for opportunity. I was also really okay with a day on the couch.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. That’s good. You compare that to that alone and that’s working for you. Okay. Cool.

Well, also when you said conscientious, where I thought you were going to go with that as well is just the notion of the follow-up. It’s so common that the follow-up just never happens. I wanted to get your take on do you have any pro tips for bringing about more consistency if you say, “Oh yeah, I’ll send you the name of that contractor,” or “Oh, I’ll make sure to send you,” whatever.

It seems there’s a lot of verbal promises made that don’t materialize in my experience. What are your tips there?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
We all need our own systems. I’m happy to share mine. That is one of the things that a connector does. They follow through. They do what they say they’re going to do. They do things in a certain way. I talk about how does a connector do things in the book like how do they make an introduction, how do they follow up. Whatever it is that they might do, they do it in a particular way.

For me, I’m often saying those things. I think about the anatomy of a conversation as looking for the next point of contact. If in your mindset, if you’re relationship-based, you’re looking for the reason to stay in touch with somebody. You’re looking for that connection point. I’m always looking for that in that conversation. Once I find it in the conversation, I feel that it’s okay for the conversation to end because I know the relationship can continue.

What I will do is depending on the situation, if I have a card, I will write something on the back of their card. I have a graveyard of business cards in my office. I’m looking at the pile that probably is over a foot tall if I stack them all on top of each other. If that card did not have something written on the back, they probably did not get a follow up because you can’t.

It’s okay that you cannot follow up with every single person, but if you know what the follow up is going to be, it’s much easier to do it. If I don’t have a business card, I will actually take my phone out and I will put it write in my to-do list. I don’t use the tasks. I actually just literally put it as a calendar item, an all-day event. It shows up at the top of my calendar.

I’ll say connect so-and-so to so-and-so or send so-and-so something. Then I don’t have to think about it because my calendar will tell me and I’m a slave to my calendar.

Pete Mockaitis
I like that a lot. OmniFocus is my tool of choice there. It’s beautiful when your mind feels free to not have to remember and hold those things. It’s there and you don’t have to worry. It’s going to get done and you can continue with life. We’re talking tools now, so let’s keep it going.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Yeah, I want to hear more about your tool.

Pete Mockaitis
Sure. Well, Omnifocus. Have you heard of it or seen it in action?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
No.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s a dream. It is software for the Mac and iOS. It’s so nifty in that you can take a task or action and just do everything with it. Some people say, “Whoa, this is overkill,” and it can be.

You can take a task and then you can add it from your phone and it’s just one button, just super quick. Then that’s sort of like the fundamental unit. If you wanted to, you could choose to tag it with the context in which you can do it or assign it to a particular project, give it a due date or a flag or tagging with certain resources or people you need to be with, you may be add the amount of time it needs to take you, you can add an audio recording or a pinned note.

That’s what’s nifty is you have the ability to manipulate it any way that you could conceive of wanting to manipulate it or if you just want to snag it and make sure you didn’t forget it, you could just simply do that too. I like that it has the simplicity and beauty, but it also has the power.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
It does sound a little overwhelming.

Pete Mockaitis
If you just want to hey, here’s my to-do list, here’s 15 things and I’m checking as I do, then that works as well. But I guess, what I dig is how when you put them in by project – I’ll get tons of ideas every day. Then I can sort of bring them into their respective project areas. Then when I am ready to kind of move forward, it’s like, “Let’s get some podcast growth going,” and I can say, “Oh hey, great. Over the last three months, here are the dozens of ideas that I’ve had all right there.” I think that’s pretty cool.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I think it’s all about what you get used to that makes you efficient. You were talking about tools, I love Outlook. For me, it is everything. I color code my calendars, so I have conditional formatting, where if I put the word ‘call’ in an item, it turns out orange, if I put the word ‘meeting’ it turns out blue, so I can visually very easily see how I can plot my day.

I try to do calls on certain days and meetings on certain days. I even have a note for a video so I know whether or not I have to put makeup on if I’m going to be on one of these shows.

I don’t use the task functionality with the flag. I don’t need to add the layers to it. I have my own system of putting everything in the all-day event and then every day I look and if I did it, I get to delete it and I don’t even see it anymore or I move it over.

Then I can also say, okay, follow up with so-and-so, I’ll put in the note “Last contact, certain date,” or I’ll put the text of the email or whatever it might be so that I have the quick way to find the information rather than having to search, “Who is this person I have a call with three months from now? Why do I have a call with them?” It’s all right there and very easy.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s excellent, yes. I think that you’re right. Some people can get sort of zealous about their systems or their tools, like this is the way, but I’d say hey, if you feel like your brain is clear and not oppressed with remembering and you’re not forgetting and embarrassing yourself, then it sounds like you’ve got a workable system. If it’s not the case, well, hey, maybe think about your system.

Maybe it’s Outlook, maybe it’s Omnifocus, maybe it’s the notes app in your phone, but whatever it takes. I want to hear your take on LinkedIn, connecting in LinkedIn.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I love LinkedIn. I actually do a whole chapter on tech tools with a major focus on LinkedIn. If we think about the entirety of the virtual world, there’s so many platforms out there. There are great ways to connect. What I tell people in terms of choosing your platform, for me, my main platform is LinkedIn, is thing about where you already are, where you’d like to be, and where are the people you connect with.

If you are in a very visual field, if your job is in graphics or architecture or design or anything like that, even food, you might want to be in Pinterest or Instagram because they’re very visual. If you are more of a B2C in your work, you might want to be on Facebook because that’s a little bit more of the individual, whereas LinkedIn is B to individual, but it’s also B2B as a business platform.

That’s just kind of a big picture as you think about what platforms to be on because you can’t be on them all. You’ll stretch yourself too thin. If you think about like I don’t have enough time in the day, then really focus on one or two platforms and not on all of them.

Pete Mockaitis
Right.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Yeah, I know you’re going to put all my social media in the show notes, but I usually do direct people to LinkedIn. That’s the place I’m spending the most time. What my tips are, I have tons of them. Where do you want me to start?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh sure. I’d say what are most of us doing wrong on LinkedIn?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
The biggest mistake that I don’t think I’m seeing as frequently anymore, but I still see it, the biggest mistake is not having a picture or having a picture that is not kind of a head and shoulders clean shot. Unless what you do is related to what that picture is like if you’re a snowboarder or something like that. It shouldn’t be a glamour shot. It shouldn’t be a motorcycle shot. It shouldn’t be a cartoon of you, unless you’re a cartoonist.

It should really be able to say, “Okay, I can recognize that person if I passed them on the street.” That’s one of the biggest things. The other biggest thing is – sometimes the app is at fault for this – is connecting to somebody without a personalized note.

Pete Mockaitis
Right.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I don’t mean that note that says, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Don’t give me that canned message.

Pete Mockaitis
Uh-huh. You’re saying that it’s partially the app’s fault because sometimes when you push it, you don’t even know that it’s automatically doing that.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Yeah, I try to do it on my desktop a little bit more than on my phone because I find when I try to connect to somebody on my phone, it doesn’t allow me to put that note. What I try to do if that happens is then I will go then send a message, but if they haven’t connected, then – it just is easier if you can send the note from the onset. Sometimes it works on the phone and sometimes it doesn’t, so we’ll tell LinkedIn that.

But I always just tell people to be personal. Why are you reaching out? I actually reached out to somebody today because my chiropractor watched his show and was talking about him. He started talking about him in a way that was kind of like, I do all those things. This is somebody I should know. I reached out to him and said, “My chiropractor likes your show. Sounds like we do a lot of the same things. Would love to connect.”

Pete Mockaitis
Got you.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
That was the note.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. That’s good.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
And it’s got just a little bit of context because otherwise, I don’t know.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
It’s real. They know I’m not like-

Pete Mockaitis
A bot.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Okay, that’s …. That will get somebody’s attention. I also love to look at shared contacts. If you are a second contact with somebody, go look at the shared contacts and then look for that obscure person like, how the heck did they know that person I went to camp with.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Then I’ll say like, “How do you know Jo Shmo? I went to summer camp with him when I was 13 years old.” Then you have that – now we’re kind of going to my first book, which The Law of Likability, that’s that law of similarity and that law association. People like people like them and people like people who they know. It kind of gives you that, “we have this person in common.” It’s not just another contact; it’s somebody I really know and we can start a great conversation.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely. Do you think about the keywords at all with regard to what’s in your profile and how you representing yourself and what’s findable?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Yes, but maybe not as much as I should, but yes.

Pete Mockaitis
Any pro tips there?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I do think if you go down to that skill section, that really helps a lot with the SEO and the search-ability. Yeah, people give you those recommendations, but even just having those phrases within your profile will help you come up in the search.

The other thing I would say is, unless there’s a reason not to, then I suggest connecting to more people than less. I don’t have LION. I’m not a LinkedIn open networker, but if I can find a reason – if I don’t think you’re going to spam me or ask me for my hand in marriage, which I’ve had happen a few times. ….

Pete Mockaitis
You’re making an impression, Michelle.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I’ve had these notes where it says, “I know this is not – but I was taken by your smile,” I’m just like, “Oh no, block.” But unless if they’ll be one of those, then you are going to increase your search by being connected to more people because it expands your network and you’re more second in line and you’ll come up in other people’s searches. It helps you to be connected to more people.

Sometimes people are really stringent with it. I used to be a little bit more stringent with it. I really wanted to know who was in my network, but I what I started to realize was if I was willing to receive a request from somebody in my network and ask a request from somebody in my LinkedIn network even if they were weak ties, then I would be willing to say yes to those connections.

Pete Mockaitis
Got you. Cool. All right. Well, tell me, any other final tips when it comes to maybe the maintenance of authentic relationships because it can be quite easy to kind of lose touch with folks, especially if you’re connecting with a lot of them. How do you go about the maintenance mode?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
That’s a great question. It’s never too long. That’s the one thing I want people to remember. It is never too long because some people are like, “Well, what’s too long before you can’t really reach out anymore?” There’s no such thing.

You know how many emails I have sent that had a subject line ‘Been too long,’ or ‘Thinking about you,’ or ‘Let’s reconnect,’ and just owning the fact that yeah, you lost touch or yeah, it’s been a while, just really doing those little light touches to just keep in somebody’s mind without getting in their face.

Pete Mockaitis
So that’s your subject line, ‘Been too long.’ Then what’s the rest of the message?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Then I’ll send a note saying, “Hey, you just popped into my head. Wondering what you’ve been up to. Here’s my quick update. Let’s catch up.”

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Two, three sentences. You’re spending less than three minutes on the effort of just putting yourself back into somebody’s mind. Even if they don’t respond, you still put yourself back into the front of their mind.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, and now I’m wondering is it the – if you had to put a number on it, what proportion of those messages get a reply?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I would say the majority of mine do to be honest with you.

Pete Mockaitis
Sure.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I use different formats. Sometimes I’ll use email. This week I actually reached out to somebody on Facebook Messenger because I know that’s where she is. It’s somebody who I know. She’s not a strong relationship, but I also know she’s going through something, so I sent a little note on Facebook Messenger saying, “Hey, I was just thinking about you. Hope-“ somebody in her world is ill and I said, “Hope your friend’s feeling better.” That was it.

She was on at that moment and she instant messaged m
e back and we had a quick three or four back and forth and that was that and she knew I cared. That’s all you’re really trying to do in maintenance is to say, “I care. I’m thinking about you. I want to stay in your world. You’re important enough to me to make an effort.”

Pete Mockaitis
Got it.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
That’s it.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Any final thoughts before we hear about your favorite things?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Oh, I know these favorite things. I don’t know if-

Pete Mockaitis
I don’t know if they’re new. We’ll see. The diligent listener might compare.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I don’t remember all of them, but hopefully I’ll have some good answers for you.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Okay, let me have it. I’m ready.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. How about a favorite quote?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
One of my favorite quotes is actually from a song, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.”

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

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I don’t know if this is a favorite, but I actually recently was just looking a study, so it’s front of mind. It was the Decision to Attend study because I was looking at why do people say yes to go into certain networking conferences or social events and actually networking was one of the top three reasons. I thought it was really interesting.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite book?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
7 Habits of Highly Effective People if we’re doing business books.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh sure.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
If we’re doing non-business books, I have a whole other list.

Pete Mockaitis
I’ll take one from the other list as well.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Anything Ayn Rand, anything Frank McCourt. What did I read recently? Oh, Ely Oliphant is Perfectly Fine was very good.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite tool, something that helps you be awesome at your job?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
We already talked a little bit about Outlook and LinkedIn and those are probably two of my favorites.

Pete Mockaitis
All right and a favorite habit?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I don’t know if I really have habits.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s intriguing right there.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I think I will get into habits but then get out of habits. I’m very inconsistent with structure. I think maybe being unstructured is my habit.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s fascinating.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I don’t know if that’s a good answer.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, now I’m wondering are you unstructured at reoccurring times of the day.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
No. Okay, maybe the only habit I can think of is that there’s typically always a jigsaw puzzle on my dining room table. How’s that?

Pete Mockaitis
No kidding. That is interesting. My brother’s amazing at puzzles and somehow I’m not. He’s two to three times faster than I am at putting together puzzles. It’s amazing.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
I love them. I find them meditative.

Pete Mockaitis
It really is soothing in terms of you’ve got nothing else to do and it takes all – at least for me – it takes all my brainpower or the vast majority to continue making progress on a puzzle, so I can’t worry about anything else.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Yeah, I’ve got a monkey brain. It’s always thinking about a million things, but when you’re focused on a puzzle, everything else falls by the wayside, which is why I find it very calming.

Pete Mockaitis
Is there a particular nugget that is really seeming to connect and resonate with folks from the book? Maybe it’s highlighted or retweeted a lot.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Yeah, actually the last line of the book. It’s that networking is something that you do, but a connector is someone that you are.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, yeah. That feels very retweetable, but hopefully you haven’t ruined the book if you spoil the ending there.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
No, no. That’s just kind of the way to land it.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. That was one of my favorite jokes is a non-fiction book and they said, “Oh, tell me how it ends.” Zing. If folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
The best place to start is my website, which is Michelle, with two L’s, Tillis, T-I-L-L-I-S, Lederman, L-E-D-E-R-M-A-N.com. From there you can get to my YouTube. I do videos on my blog. You can find all that social media that we were talking about.

But if you want to get the book, go to TheConnectorsAdvantage.com. I’m giving bonuses away even after the pre-order period. I’m going to leave those bonuses up so that you get some extra goodies when you get the book. I’m actually telling people to BOGO with the book, to buy one, gift one and use the book as a means to reconnect with someone.

Pete Mockaitis
Clever, yeah. Do you have a final call to action or challenge for folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Pick three. Pick three people. I want you to pick one person that you’ve lost touch with from your childhood, your college days, your last job that you want to reconnect with, one person that is in your existing life that you want to strengthen a relationship with and then one person of your choice. Pick three. Have those people’s names in your mind and then find one way to reach out to them within the next week.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Michelle, it’s been a lot of fun once again. I wish you lots of luck with your book, The Connector’s Advantage, and all your other adventures.

Michelle Tillis Lederman
Thank you for having me. It was so much fun.

384: Bringing More Joy into Work with Bruce Daisley

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Bruce Daisley says: "We seek so much of our own identity from our jobs."

Vice President  of Twitter Bruce Daisley shares the key differences that make the difference between work delight and drudgery.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Two hacks for restoring your personal equilibrium at work
  2. The benefits of connecting with your colleagues through laughter
  3. Why working more than 40 hours a week is a bad idea

About Bruce

As European Vice-President for Twitter and host of the UK’s number one business podcast Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat he is in the centre of the debate about the way work and communication is evolving.

Daisley has been one of the Evening Standard’s 1,000 Most Influential Londoners for four years and is one of Debrett’s 500 Most Influential People in Britain. Campaign magazine asserted that Daisley is ‘one of the most talented people in media.’

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Bruce Daisley Interview Transcript

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

Bruce Daisley
Well, I’m really flattered to be asked, so thank you so much for having me.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, well, I’m excited to dig in. I believe Dan Cable introduced us and his was one of my favorite podcasts episodes, so there’s a big, big expectation Bruce, that you’re going to bring it.

Bruce Daisley
Thank you. Well, let me try my best.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. Well, you have defined yourself as “work culture obsessive,” which is a good turn of a phrase. Your body of work seems to show it. On top of a pretty demanding job, you’ve put out a great podcast, Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat. You’ve got a book coming out. What do you mean by being work culture obsessive?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah, I think the interesting thing for me, I work at Twitter. I’m fortunate enough that when guests used to come to the London Twitter office from all around the world, almost without exception they’d say, “Wow, this is just an incredible office. We love the culture here.”

I had heard that previously. I used to run the UK team for YouTube at Google and all the time people used to either wander past my team or interact with my team. They’d say, “Wow, what a special team.” Unfortunately, I was misdirected into believing that that was down to a magical skill that I had.

I think a couple of years ago I became aware that maybe people at my work weren’t as motivated or as happy as they once were. I became obsessed not with sort of drawing on my own hunches about how culture is created, but more thinking, “I wonder how I could arm myself with evidence.” I think that’s the critical thing I’ve done really. With the passion of trying to work out how to improve work culture, I’ve set about trying to get evidence of how to do it.

In the course of the last couple years on my own podcast I’ve really just pestered and tracked down some of the people who’ve written the most interesting books that I’ve found.

I’ve been fortunate enough I think that when you contact someone who’s written a magical piece of research, something that’s just really fascinating and compelling and they’re not in the promotional time for it, they’re often very willing to talk. I’m so lucky to have got people who have written just some of the most fascinating books and got them to talk to me.

I guess, I’ve got a fascination in how to improve work and being evidence led on how to do that.

Pete Mockaitis
Very cool. Very cool. I want to do dig into all sorts of fascinating bits of research. Maybe could you orient us right now? You are a vice president of Twitter for Europe, Middle East, and Africa. What does that mean or what does that entail in terms of your job and what are some of the practices that you’re seeing really make a big impact in terms of bringing about the joy of work?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah. It’s a good question. I think when you do an original job like mine, it goes without saying that I’m fortunate that I’ve got very, very capable people in all of the markets we operate in. I’ve got a formidable person working in Spain. I’ve just got an incredibly talented person working in the UK. My job really is to try and provide sort of bursts of energy for those people.

Someone contacted me today asking for some help with a contractual issue. Effectively, I guess, I’m someone that the leaders in those countries can call upon when they need additional support. I’m like a router really. I sort of direct energy and I direct resources when appropriate and try and stay out of the way when appropriate as well, so an interesting role.

I guess the principle thing I would say in terms of how I’ve learned about the joy of work from those countries, I think the thing that the UK is very similar to the US on is that increasingly more and more workers are sort of eating at our desks.

When you go and explain that to someone in France or someone in Spain, you say, “Guys, it’s really important we start trying to take lunch breaks,” they look at you very confused. They don’t really understand what on earth you’re talking about.

It’s because those cultures have really recognized, historically recognized, the importance of lunch breaks and the importance of the social magic that’s created in those interactions. Unfortunately, it’s the more Anglo-Saxon part of the world that’s economized on those things.

For me, it’s understanding work culture and understanding how to improve work culture as being a real excursion into understanding the different national cultures around the world and what we can learn from them.

Pete Mockaitis
I want to touch on that national piece there because the engagement data on workers in the UK is even worse by a pretty good margin than it is for workers in the US. Do you have a comment on what could be driving that there?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah. To give those figures – I think the engagement figures for US workers I think – all of us, if we looked at these numbers cold we’d say – I think the US engagement is 20-something percent. I can’t remember top of my head. The figure for UK workers is 8%. 8% of British workers feel that they are actively engaged in their job.

The only solace that I can provide to the British is that the lowest in the world is actually the French. According to the Gallup survey, the Gallup workforce survey, 3% of French workers are actively engaged in their job.

Pete Mockaitis
Even with the lunch breaks?

Bruce Daisley
I know. How bad. There’s certainly a global crisis of engagement. We seek so much of our own identity from our jobs. If you look at the evidence, people who do jobs are happier, they live longer, they feel more fulfilled in life, then those who don’t do jobs.

Jobs play a really important part in our self-esteem, but quite often they’re not set up correctly, they’re not focused on us achieving things in the way that we would most like, so we end up becoming slightly disengaged or sometimes very actively disengaged in the jobs that we do.

Pete Mockaitis
Right and I’m curious from your observations across countries, are there particular mindsets or policies? I wondered if it’s a little trickier – my understanding is in some European countries it’s trickier to say fire somebody. I think sometimes it’s trickier to find a job. Is that fair to say as compared to the US?

Bruce Daisley
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
I wonder if that had a role with it with regard to finding fit. It’s a little bit of obstacles there. Do you think it’s a factor or what’s behind it?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah, I think – I wouldn’t necessarily say that those things have a direct impact on how engaged people are in their jobs, so you see – you do see a variance across Europe and you do see – it’s not necessarily that when it’s hire-at-will and fire-at-will that workers are more engaged.

There’s definitely cultural factors that play a part. There’s definitely elements in the job that play a part. Some cultures historically have been more hierarchical. Some national cultures have been more hierarchical.

When you look at workers, one of the key factors in people being engaged in work is the ability to speak up to the boss. It’s sometimes called psychological safety. The ability to put your hand up and say, “I don’t think this is right,” when you see something that appears to me maybe slightly against our expectations. The willingness to speak up to the boss is one of the most powerful indicators of workplace culture.

There are definitely some cultures that are more hierarchical. Some cultures where speaking up to the boss is really frowned upon. Definitely that plays a part. There are significant cultural differences between different countries.

Pete Mockaitis
Intriguing. You unpack some of this in your book, The Joy of Work. What would you say is the main idea or thesis there?

Bruce Daisley
I split it into three parts. The fundamental part for me was when I was setting out on my own process of discovery I was interested in finding evidence about how we could bring some of the work that’s being done by experts into the world of work.

There’s no shortage of psychologists, anthropologists, people who’ve studied neuroscience, who’ve given us indications of better ways to be working. The challenge for me was that a lot of that evidence wasn’t reaching the workplace.

I split the book into three parts. The first part is just to try and restore us to a position of a more balanced equilibrium. I think it’s fair to say that the stats suggest that half of all office workers report feeling burnt out, but that’s also common to nurses, that’s also common teachers. The state of feeling burnt out by our jobs, by feeling exhausted by the amount we’re working is becoming increasingly ubiquitous; half of all of us feel it at any point.

The first part of the book is really just very simple ways to try and restore our equilibrium. I call that section in the book Recharge. Some of the sections there are often really small interventions. I’ll give you one example. One of the most effective things that anyone can do to feel less overwhelmed by their job is to turn notifications off on their phone.

Pete Mockaitis
Just like that.

Bruce Daisley
This is a really strange one. Because when you tell people that this is one of your interventions, they often look at me thinking, “Okay, this book’s going to be really trivial.” But let me give you the evidence on that one.

Half of all people – this was done by someone working at a mobile phone company of all things. He’s working at Telefonica, a European cellphone company. He was trying to get people to turn their notifications off for a week. He couldn’t get enough people to do it. He said, “Okay, if not a week, will you turn your notifications off for a day.”

To just give you an indication of how powerful this is, two years after he did that intervention, half of all the people who made that decision to turn their notifications off, still had them turned off.

Pete Mockaitis
One day.

Bruce Daisley
One day, two years. People when they try this they say, “You know what? I was just able to get a bit of calm back to my life. I was able to not keep checking that email icon that kept popping up. Black Friday offers or whatever it was that was drawing me back there. I was given a bit of head space.” Half of all people who did that still had it turned off.

Consequently, with that in mind, as soon as you realize you can improve work with lots of little hacks, with lots of little changes, then it becomes an exercise in finding what are the other hacks.


One of the other things that I found that was fascinating for creativity. When we look at creativity, there’s many different ways to categorize the brain, but one of the most common systems is that scientists talk about the salience network, the executive attention network and the third one, the one I’ll talk about, is the default network. These three networks sort of operate across the whole of your brain, but they do different functions.

The default network is this fabulous part of the brain which is – it tends to be where we dwell when we’re daydreaming. It’s all where thoughts organize themselves and bounce around, but often when you say to people, “When did that idea come to you?” it’s at a time when the default network is running our brains.

I’ll give you an illustration. Often people say, “Oh, had a good idea while I was in the shower,” “Had a good idea while I was going for a walk.” That’s not uncommon because that’s the time the default network is daydreaming and allowing little thoughts to interact with each other, to bounce off each other.

As soon as you know that, as soon as you know that creativity comes from the default network, you start thinking of what are the ways to activate that? One of the most powerful ways to activate the default network is to go for a walk.

If you’re trying to brainstorm, if you’re trying to get ideas down on a piece of paper, then often we find ourselves stranded in a lifeless sort of pretty dull meeting room often frowning into our laptops, or frowning onto a white board. Actually one of the most powerful things you can do is go for a walk. 81% of people saw an increase in ideas. Their ideas went up two-thirds when they did that. It’s a really powerful thing.

But the default network can be activated in so many different ways. My favorite example of the default network is the guy who wrote The West Wing TV show, he also wrote The Social Network film, a guy called Aaron Sorkin. He stumbled upon this. No one told him this, but he stumbled upon the idea that his best ideas came to him when he was in the shower. As a result of that, he had a shower installed in his office.

In a sort of fabulous interview – he was interviewed I think by Hollywood Reporter and he was asked about his habit for showers. He takes eight showers a day. He takes eight showers a day. He was asked about this. He said, “It’s not that I’m obsessively clean. That’s not why I’m doing it. I’m doing it because the sense of freethinking, the sense of sort of free association I have in the shower just gets me past any road blocking, gets me past any sense that I’m stranded in my thinking.”

For me, as soon as you understand that, you start thinking, right, then when am I allowing my default network to play and to create? The answer quite often is pretty infrequently. We fill our day with meetings, with emails. We’re not giving ourselves time to think and dream.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I love that example in that it’s sort of an extreme action. It’s like, “Hey, I’ve made this observation and it’s really working for me, so we’re going to go all in. Install the shower. Do it eight times a day.” That’s such a cool example.

Bruce Daisley
Exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
I want to dig into that notifications a bit. Not to get too nitty-gritty, but let’s talk it. Now the key thing about the notifications is simply the beeps and buzzes from our phone or is it everything. Don’t pop up on my phone screen visually. Don’t give me red badges. Is it sort of like all notifications or just the ones that can interrupt you from other stuff?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah, it’s all of them, all of them. But what I will say, Pete, it gives you a real mental availability. My own experience at doing this of all the interventions, there’s 30 interventions in my book, which unfortunately it’s not being published in the US for another 12 months. But there’s 30 interventions in my book and I’ve tried all of them out.

But this one is you have to turn off all notifications. You turn off the number that sits on that email app. You turn off the thing that slides down on your screen. What happens is that I find myself in the morning and I go through that routine that we’ve all become accustomed to, which is you wake up, you check your message apps, you check your social apps.

Then it used to be that I always checked my email and increasingly now I forget to check email. I’ll find myself heading out on my journey to work and then an hour into my journey to work or just as I’m arriving at my office door, I think “Oh, I haven’t checked email.”

To me it’s incredibly liberating because often that sense when you’re checking email but before you get to the office, it either disrupts your morning commute and you find yourself trying to answer something badly at the kitchen table or it sort of creates a sense of sort of claustrophobia that you want to answer it but you don’t have time.

Of all the interventions, as I said, this is the most powerful one. It’s just an illustration I think that we can push back against the demands of work. We often feel helpless in the face of work, but this gives us scope to really push back and try and feel more refreshed, feel more recharged really.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s really cool. I like that term claustrophobia in terms of right now it’s sort of got a piece of you in term of your mental attention. It’s there. It’s like, “Oh I want to reply to that. I can’t right now. What will I say? Maybe this.” Now your brain is consumed with that and you’re sort of short changing your opportunity in the default system mode of transportation zoning out to get those creative ideas.

Bruce Daisley
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

Pete Mockaitis
You said 30 interventions, so I know we won’t have time to hit all 30, but if I may invoke perhaps the 80/20 rule. If 6 of them are yielding 80% of the value, can you give us what are the other half?

Bruce Daisley
The first 12 are all these recharges. Then probably the bit of the book that I found most fascinating when I was researching and it was something that the more I researched it, the more I became addicted and compelled to the science of it was this idea of human sync, this idea of human synchronization. The science of this is remarkable.

If you put a group o as soon as you realize you can improve work with lots of little hacks, with lots of little changes, then it becomes an exercise in finding what are the other hacks. f people who are strangers singing together in a choir, you observe that their endurance, their fortitude goes up. I’ll explain to you how in a second. When you put rowers together and you get them to row in time with each other, their fortitude and their endurance goes up. They become more than the sum of their parts remarkably. It’s choirs, rowers. When you put people together who dance, you see the same.

When I mention the fortitude, that’s one thing that scientists have found. They find it very difficult to measure the endorphin levels in people, but they find it very easy to measure the consequence of those endorphins. What they often do – and it sounds a touch callous – but they inflict pain upon people.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Bruce Daisley
Scientists, they tend to put these armbands around people’s arms, sort of things like what you might have worn or taught a child to swim in. But if you imagine you keep inflating those armbands until it starts creating a bit of pain on the arm of the subject.

What they found was that people who had rowed in time with each other could withstand twice the amount of pain of people who just rowed on their own. People who danced together, withstand more pain than people who’ve not danced together. People-

Pete Mockaitis
Now is this while they’re rowing and while they’re dancing or sort of at a resting state?

Bruce Daisley
Yes. No, so immediately when they stop, they can withstand the pain. It creates this magical thing. It’s really interesting. When we’re thinking about teams, the choir is a perfect example. You put strangers together and you get them to sing together and actually when you look at the evidence afterwards, they often say, “I feel a connection to the person I sung with,” even when that person was a stranger ten minutes before.

It has this remarkable quality. As soon as you understand that there is something about us being in sync with others that seems to develop this sort of fortitude, it seems to develop this connection, then you start thinking okay, are there other ways that we can access this. There are.

One of the most compelling bits of science about sync I’ve seen is scientists took about 4,000 unmarried couples who were living in a distant relationship. They were maybe sort of – one was in the West coast, one was in the East coast.

Pete Mockaitis
These are like romantic relationships?

Bruce Daisley
That’s right.

Pete Mockaitis
So distance. Okay.

Bruce Daisley
That’s right. They tried to understand which of these couples stayed together. What they found was the couples that stayed together over the period of time that they were being observed had one thing in common. It was the ones who phoned each other every day to talk about trivial things.

When we have this human sync, when we take time to get in sync with each other and that often is conversation, but clearly the most magical form is this physical interaction, but we can observe it. The couples who spoke together every day, their relationships were more enduring.

We see lots of examples of this. One of the other bits that you see in this … is that there’s a wonderful researcher who’s looked at a lot of this work, a guy called Robin Dunbar. Robin Dunbar, he looked at animals and he observed that one of the ways that animals get in sync with each other is they do mutual grooming. It’s no longer acceptable Pete, unfortunately for me to stop and pick fleas off of you.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m just thinking I’ve got a great hairbrush, just come on over.

Bruce Daisley
Maybe this is why we see teenage girls do this. We see the endorphin levels rocket through the roof when animals spend time in mutual grooming. However, he said they observed exactly the same behavior when humans laugh together, which is really interesting.

You’ve got this phenomenon of human sync. Chat activates it. Spending time around in synchronized activities with others activates it, but also laughing with others activates it. The consequence of sync is that it tends to make us more bonded with the people we’re working with. It tends to make us have a greater allegiance with the people we’re working with.

Anyone who’s thinking about how to make work better, thinking about how you can build some maybe sort of collective laughter into the working environment is a really important thing.

Of course, strangely a lot of us have stumbled upon that through our own experience. We’ve maybe been in companies where the company meeting at the end of the week, there was always a guy who stood up and made everyone laugh. That place seemed better than this place, but we couldn’t put our finger on why.

I think this for me is a good piece of science that says, as human beings we shouldn’t be ashamed of finding benefit in some of these things like laughter. We shouldn’t be ashamed in feeling more connected to our teammates when we spend time laughing with them.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s really cool. That just gets me thinking in terms of how to get that laughter going. I remember one time I was in an office and we had just a little fun event in which everyone – well, you might dig this, former YouTube – everyone was to bring one of their favorite YouTube videos. We just sort of hung out. That’s what we did. There was maybe 20 people. Each person brought a YouTube video they thought was great and we all just laughed together. It was a whole lot of fun.

Bruce Daisley
Well, one of the best books on laughter is by a scientist called Robert Provine. Robert Provine said – it was a really interesting thing – he said even though I think there’s somewhere in the region of 70,000 scientific papers, so peered-reviewed papers into pain, there’s less than 100 scientific reviewed papers into laughter. Scientists often feel it’s a bit frivolous to investigate laughter.

He decided that he was going to do one of the biggest pieces of research into laughter. He pulled together all of everyone else’s research. Here’s what he found.

He found laughter quite often in an office – so I’ve talked there about optimizing an office for laughter – but he said often in an office, laughter is around things that aren’t necessarily the funniest things in the world. We often find ourselves laughing with colleagues at things that wouldn’t necessarily get on their own Netflix special.

But he said in many ways laughter, the way he describes it, is in many ways, laughter is like a human’s bird song. It’s like the sound we make to feel connected to each other.

Actually one of the things that laughter signals – there’s a wonderful bit of science that if you look at how animals play, one thing that dogs do is they often do a thing where they lean forward on their front two legs, sort of very similar to the yoga position, the downward dog.

Scientists who look at that say that that signals that no harm will pass here, that dogs know that if they lean forward on their front two legs, that even if they look like they’re about to bite each other, they know that it’s a signal that things are safe. One scientist said to me that laughter signals the same for humans. We laugh to signal we’re all friends here. This is just – we’re connected with each other.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s so good. This is bringing me back to my days at consulting at Bain and one of their best – the best lines in their recruiting materials – I think they’re still using it is “We laugh a lot,” which was true.

Then one of my favorite sort of events we had, they called it the Bain Band in which people would change the lyrics of popular songs to reflect sort of the dorky nuances of the consulting experience, so
Time After Time would be Slide After Slide. It wasn’t super hilarious, but it was your colleagues that you recognized up there being kind of silly on stage. You just sort of laugh a little bit like, “Oh yeah, that’s our life, slide after slide, ha, ha, ha.”

It had such a powerful bonding effect. I remember we would all rush to get with our favorite colleagues and have chairs next to each other. If someone was going to the bar for a drink, nobody wanted to leave their seats, “Oh get me one,” “Oh get me one,” “Oh get me one,” someone’s coming back with seven drinks in their hand somehow. Yeah.

Bruce Daisley
Isn’t it interesting though that so often and especially when times are difficult, so let’s imagine the last few years have been difficult for a lot of businesses, that one of the things that you know there from your own subjective experience backed up by the science that I’ve done is that laughter made you feel connected and made you probably in truth, want to work harder for the people around you.

But when times are hard, we find ourselves saying, “Now is not the time for laughter. Don’t let the bosses see you laughing in the office.” We often have this idea that somehow laughter is frivolous, somehow unnecessary. It’s a distraction from the job rather than it’s forging a link with us and the colleagues we work with that’s going to make us do our best work.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. That is good. Boy, just keep them coming Bruce. Laughter, any other big ones you want to share?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah. For me that was so fascinating because the idea of laughter. But I think probably the one that’s been most talked about in the last few years is the idea of psychological safety. This is the idea, I think I mentioned earlier that the willingness to speak up to the boss. I was really interested.

I met a member of the equivalent of the Navy SEALS, a member of the special forces in the United Kingdom. He told me about their tactic of reaching this. Psychologically safety is this immensely difficult thing to achieve.

When teams feel willingness to speak up to the boss, what you tend to find is it produces a fluidity of discourse. It ensures that you don’t end up in a situation where the whole of the company knows that something’s bad but the bosses are asking them to do it.

If you look back at some of the recent memorable corporate failures, Nokia was famous for it had a culture where people were instructed if they couldn’t be positive, don’t do anything. As a result of that, when they were faced with the iPhone arriving and people starting to question whether their smartphone was good enough, the people who had dissenting voices and maybe wanted to speak up were really clearly told don’t speak up. This is not the time – there’s no value in speaking up.

I think what we’ve learned is the businesses where they can encourage this psychological safety are incredibly powerful. This is when the conversation I had with a member of the elite military came in.

He told me a really simple thing, which was they have a daily debrief. They have a – at the end of every interaction when they’re out in the field, this is the combat field – maybe they’ve just been on a deployment in Afghanistan or in some sort of war-torn part of Iraq or wherever. He said at the end of every day they have a quick standup. They all gather around. He said it should take no more than 10 – 15 minutes. It’s while we’re still in our combat clothes.

He said the way it works is that he describes what happens that day and then he will say what he did wrong or what he felt he could have done better. Then he invites everyone else to discuss what happened that day. The very act of a leader saying, “Here’s what I did wrong,” and demonstrating that they aren’t infallible, that they have got vulnerabilities is an incredibly powerful access point to everyone else doing the same.

Psychological safety is this really elusive quality. You see businesses talk about it increasingly. But I loved his simple access point for that because so often we come out of big meetings and we come out of interactions with – we come of big meetings or client interaction or we come out of a review and firstly we often gather the feedback a week later or we’re send an email round everyone saying, “That went well. Any thoughts?”

Of course you lose specificity in that because you lose the sense of people know that that one answer that one person gave that wasn’t right, you lose specificity. But by taking time afterwards and the leader being the first to step forward and say, “Here’s what I did wrong,” seems to give a really powerful access point to people feeling that they can share the same.

Again, these aren’t – I don’t think these are – they’re not going to be revolutions that are going to be patented by someone. They’re not going to be – on their own, they won’t transform a business. But the thing that was fascinating for me was following the evidence of what other people have done as an access point to improving the jobs that we do.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s fantastic. Particularly when you think about military in which rank is just so clear and you think that you need to be strong and to be a tough leader who’s being entrusted with people’s lives. If they can do it, anyone can do it.

Bruce Daisley
Right. He told me a fascinating thing. He said to me the biggest mistake that anyone makes about the military is thinking that we give orders all day long. He said the decision making is often far more consensual than you think because if we found ourselves just giving instructions that were unwelcome, it would be a failure of leadership.

That was a real revelation to me. We’ve got this idea that soldiers are just given marching orders and told where to go. He said, “No, far from it.” They very much regard themselves as people who are studying and learning from the world of work and wanting to improve upon it. For me it was just a revelation to speak with someone who had that experience.

Pete Mockaitis
Fantastic. Tell me Bruce, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah, look, probably the one thing I will say is that the overwhelming debate right now in the world of work is the amount we work. There’s been certainly a contribution to this discussion this year by Elon Musk. I think he doesn’t make the best poster child for the 120-hour work week.

But Elon Musk has a couple of times this year said he works 120 hours a week and that he feels that nothing good can be accomplished at less than 80 – well, he said 40 hours is not enough to work and he feels that you need to work 80 hours a week to achieve anything.

I think the wonderful thing about that is that there’s no evidence for it at all. In fact, when you actually invite people to make evidence and to gather evidence on these things, you see that either we’re lying to ourselves, that we’re not working 80 hours, we’re – but we’re working 40 hours distributed across a week.

I was chatting to an investment banker today. She was telling me that she used to leave the office at 10 PM every night, maybe 11, sometimes 12. I said to her, “Wow, was it relentless all day?” She said, “No, no, no, no. It was the culture though that you didn’t leave till 10. There were times when we weren’t working especially hard.” She said, “There was a lot of time for downtime and laughter, but the culture was you didn’t work – you didn’t leave till 10 PM.”

Sometimes work is the lie we tell ourselves. We’re not being honest with ourselves. The wonderful thing is the more you look at the evidence – there was some fabulous evidence that I found – that really the most that the human brain can really work and what most of us work with our brains is around 55 hours a week. After that the marginal gains for each hour actually are negative. When we work 70 hours a week, we actually achieve significantly less than when we work 40 hours a week.

As soon as you identify that science, as soon as you realize that that’s the case, you start thinking, “Okay, well, maybe my objective should be to work 40 good hours a week to be energized, but to value my rest as much as my work.” For me that’s the path to enlightenment here.

If we can start thinking rather than doing 70 exhausted hours a week, let’s do 40 good hours a week and that’s a good week’s work. Or less. If people want to work less, then by all means. But I think the more that we can get balanced, it’s going to help us achieve greater creativity.

Pete Mockaitis
I’m right with you there. All right, so now could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah. This is a quotation that’s from – they often say, certainly in the UK, they often say that all quotes ultimately are attributed to Winston Churchill. If you say something, people will say, “Yeah, originally that was a Churchill quote.” This similarly, albeit that this is the mantra of the UK team, the cycling team. One of the most – I often don’t use sporting metaphors, but it’s one of the most accomplished transformations over the last 30 years, the medals that the UK cycling team has won.

But their mantra is this, their mantra is “Never stand when you can sit. Never sit when you can lie down.” What they mean by that is effectively, preserve your energy because energy is finite. Use your energy when you’re ready for your most important action. Don’t waste it. Don’t waste it on trivial moments.

For me, as soon as you think about that – there’s a similar quotation about our brains. It was in a book by a guy called Daniel Levitin a couple of years ago, about three years ago. I can almost remember this quote verbatim. He said, “Our brains are configured to make a certain number of decisions every day. Once we each that number, we’re unable to make any more irrespective of how important they are.” Right.

That’s a game changer for me because – the science behind that if anyone wants to look into it is called ego depletion. But as soon as you realize, okay, so me running around and working from seven in the  morning and doing all these things and reading all these papers and doing this then going to this meeting, then answering all these emails, it’s zero sum. You reach a stage in the day where you brain can no longer do any more.

As soon as you realize that then that cycling team mantra becomes really important. “Never stand when you can sit. Never sit when you can lie down.” If we’re going to achieve the most we can achieve in work, it’s not by working longer and harder, it’s by using that finite gunpowder we’re got in our brain for the most important uses of it.

Pete Mockaitis
Perfect. Thank you. How about a favorite book?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah, it changes for me all of the time. I loved – there’s a wonderful book by a professor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology called Sandy Pentland. He’s called Sandy Pentland. The book is called Social Physics.

He took some badges, sort of like the name badges we might wear around our necks to get into most offices and he turned them into sort of microcomputers. Then he used those badges to start tracking the interactions that happened in offices. I have to tell you, when I read this book, I was blown away by it because it starts telling you the truth about what goes on in offices. Honestly, I sat there like this is like magic.

What he found was emails contribute about 2% of the output to offices. Meetings account for about the same. Most important thing that contributes to what goes on in offices is face-to-face chat, is face-to-face discussion accounts for two-fifths of everything that’s achieved in an office.

Probably, Pete, you’ve witnessed that there’s less chat going on in offices these days. People are busier than ever before. They often put on headphones as a way to cope with an office, an open plan office. People are doing – they’re finding less time for chat. I think for me seeing evidence and he built up the biggest amount of data of face-to-face interactions in offices ever. He was able to track this. It became just – it was eye opening for me what we were able to learn from it.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. Thank you. How about a favorite tool, something that helps you be awesome at your job?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah. That’s a very good question. It’s certainly not – I love Twitter. I work at Twitter, obviously I love it. First and foremost, I used it. Probably the thing that I find has transformed the world of learning more than anything else though is my Audible app. I love Audible. I’m a keen runner. For me listening – sometimes I’m listening to a novel at the moment, which is such a wonderful palette cleanser, but listening to the latest book, for me it’s just a revelation.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite habit?

Bruce Daisley
I think probably the most important habit that any of us can have is to try and get as much sleep as possible and I try to get seven and a half hours of sleep a night. Normally with good success, but I’m not 100% sure that the sleep is always the highest quality, but that’s what I try to do.

Pete Mockaitis
Is there a key nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks and they retweet often?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah, the thing for me is that some of the things that I’ve mentioned here to some extent this day in modern work is that we all feel guilty about work. We go home with 40 emails in our inbox. We didn’t get back to that person. We didn’t do this.

For me, the biggest learning that I’ve had this year is that all of the science suggests that creativity is destroyed by stress. As creativity is going to increasingly be the most important asset in our toolbox for managing the world of work, then we need to recognize that stress kills creativity. Focusing on that all the time will help us achieve more in our jobs.

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

Bruce Daisley
Yeah, they can – I always welcome people hitting me up on LinkedIn. I’m very willing for people to connect with me there. I’ve also got social media, so you can find me on Twitter at BruceDaisley or you can search for the podcast which is Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat.

Pete Mockaitis
Do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Bruce Daisley
Yeah, I would say – the best thing I would say is take another look at the way that you’re working. I found that quite often I felt that I was the exception. We all think we’re the exception. You hear that the most that humans can work is 55 hours and your first response is “Not me. I can work longer than that.” I found when confronted with all this data, I did exactly what everyone else did. I argued with it.

Then I found myself on a Monday night sitting at the kitchen table, emailing at half past nine. I thought to myself, “What have you actually emailed in the last hour?” I hadn’t emailed. I’d reread one email four times. I’d gone and got myself another cup of tea. I changed the music three times. I hadn’t done an hour of work. However, what I’d done is I’d deprived myself of an hour’s rest. I think be honest with yourself about work. Work is the lie we tell ourselves quite often.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s awesome. Bruce, thank you so much for sharing this good stuff. It’s a shame that us Yankees have to wait an extra year for your book, but thanks for teasing so much goodies here. I’m really excited to put them into practice.

Bruce Daisley
Pleasure to talk to you Pete. Thank you so much.

379: The Four Steps to Creating Chemistry with Others with Barney Feinberg

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Barney Feinberg says: "When people disconnect with each other, we tend to listen more to ourselves than to the people we're talking to."

Veteran life coach Barney Feinberg shares how appreciating your many values can help you better connect with others and facilitate chemistry for smooth working relationships.

You’ll Learn:

  1. How to identify your values from your life’s peak moments
  2. Approaches for discovering the values of others from what they say
  3. How we end up settling in our relationships

About Barney:

Barney Feinberg began his career as a CPA learning the language of business. At the age of twenty-five, his career journey took him to live in Asia for seven years, where he was COO for a large clothing conglomerate. There he learned how to assimilate into a multitude of cultures, always with the purpose of building strong relationships at work. His career in executive placement began in 1994 and in 2002, he became a certified coach with the Coaches Training Institute. Over the past 25 years he has worked with thousands of executives, coaching them on how to strengthen their chemistry factor for greater success.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Barney Feinberg Interview Transcript

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

Barney Feinberg
Thank you for inviting me Pete.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m excited to dig into some of your perspectives when it comes to chemistry, but I want to maybe go back in time first. You at one point worked as a tennis instructor. What’s the story behind this?

Barney Feinberg
Wow. Well, tennis ran in my family. Since I was a little kid a tennis racket was put in my hand. Everyone in my family played. And it’s interesting that you bring up tennis because it happens to be something that really when looking back and writing my book, there was a peak moment that really exemplifies what I’m sharing with people. If you’d like me to share that story, I’d be happy to.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I can’t resist. Let’s hear about a peak moment.

Barney Feinberg
Okay. Well, as I mentioned, tennis was everything. I mean I was in high school playing on the tennis team. My big ambition outside of that when I went to college was to make the team at college.

It’s my freshman year, first week at school and we’re having tryouts. What I find myself doing is I’m playing not to lose, which inevitably, last day of practice the coach came to me and said, “I’m sorry, you didn’t make the team,” which frankly was really embarrassing and devastating. I was like, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

I had all this free time on my hands, so I joined a concert committee, grew my hair down to my shoulders, got a beard and a moustache, digging on groups that came to college, which were like Springsteen, some really good groups, Arlo Guthrie. Anyway, here I am overcoming this major defeat.

Sophomore year rolls around and I show up for practice to try out again and the coach looks at me and says, “You’re late. You can’t try out this year.” Again, a blow. But I’m having a good time. I never had so much time on my hands to really enjoy myself and get into the music.

When my junior year came around, it was my last chance. I wasn’t really nervous about it. I started playing my game. I was playing really, really well, fully expecting to make the team.

The last day of practice the coach comes up to me and one of the other players that had been on the team for two years, he was also a junior, looks at both of us and says, “You’re going to play one set. The winner is going to make the team and the loser is not going to make the team.”

Pete Mockaitis
Oh wow.

Barney Feinberg
Yeah. Here I was suddenly wondering what happened because I had played this guy earlier and beat him. It’s beginning to dawn on me as we’re walking to the court, the coach says to him, “Go out and beat him.” I’m like, “Oh man, this guy doesn’t want me on the team.” Then it dawns on me, well, he’s ex-Navy. He’s got a crew cut. I’m wearing long hair and a moustache at this point.

I walk on the court again playing not to lose. Inevitably it’s 5 – 3. He’s leading. Triple match point on his serve. This is a big guy. He’s ex-football player. As I’m going to the Ad court expecting to lose, suddenly out of nowhere, across the quad, one of my favorite Grateful Dead songs comes on, China Cat Sunflower, which has this real upbeat rhythm.

As I’m walking to the Ad court, I transform. Suddenly, I’m relaxed. Suddenly, I’m smiling and I’m having fun. He hits his first serve and I bang it down the line. I get a winner. He hits the next first serve and I do it again. Next one he double faults. He starts playing not to lose and I make the team.

Here’s the interesting thing, what happened was, the circumstance changed. The song shifted who I was in the moment from being disconnected from confidence to being totally connected to it because I shifted to having fun.

Now that happened by just pure luck. I swear I think it was angels above looking over me, but when I looked at it again as I was writing this book, I realized that I value shifted. I shifted from what was disconnecting me to something that purely connected me. The results were inevitable. Obviously it worked. By the way, good news, the guy I played against, he stayed on the team.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, yeah, I was wondering.

Barney Feinberg
Yeah, he stayed on the team.

Pete Mockaitis
After two years it’s kind of intense to say, “Yeah, you’re out if this one match doesn’t go your way.” Well, that’s really intriguing on many dimensions. I want to kind of dig into your phrase; you said you were playing not to lose.

Barney Feinberg
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
Then later you said you were having fun. What do you mean by playing not to lose versus playing to have fun? What are the alternatives along that spectrum?

Barney Feinberg
Here’s the deal. Playing not to lose is living in the expectation of winning. Some famous person once said that expectations are the mother of frustration. When you look at work, how many times are we working with expectations in our mind?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Got you. As opposed to-

Barney Feinberg
As opposed to actually empowering your values. Expectations take us off the game. Expectations put us in the finish line before we start the race.

My daughter’s a runner. If she’s thinking about the finish line before the gun goes off, she’s not going to run very well. It’s going to seem like it’s taking her forever to get there. But if she’s thinking of the moment, if she’s empowering say the value of confidence and she’s not looking at the future or the past, but in the moment, she’s going to run a much better race.

It’s kind of like do you ever get directions to go someplace and it seems like it’s taking you longer than it should?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Barney Feinberg
Yeah. When you go back the same way, it seems to go a little shorter because now you know how to get there. Does that make sense?

Pete Mockaitis
Mm-hm. Okay. Then-

Barney Feinberg
Go ahead.

Pete Mockaitis
So playing not to lose mean you’re thinking about the outcome, the end, the finish line, the expectation as opposed to the moment, the having fun, the what’s immediately in front of you right now.

Barney Feinberg
Whatever value you choose to empower. It just so happened that fun came up when I was playing that tennis match with that song. It just brought me into that jovial place, which took away anything about winning or losing away and just playing the game.

Pete Mockaitis
Now, you’ve used the phrase a couple of times, ‘the value that you empower,’ what do you mean by that?

Barney Feinberg
Well, it’s a practice. Most of the time we have a lot of values and what I call DNA values. DNA values are values that are ingrained in us that we’re brought up with, that create our success formulas. They more likely control us than we control them. When circumstances come about that disconnect us from a value that we find is important, life becomes hard, difficult. However, we have the ability to empower.

What is empower? It’s the difference between being in love and thinking of being in love. It’s story. That’s really what I focus on. When you look back in time, the communications that were most important in the tribe before there was the written word was from the storyteller. The storyteller would tell us stories that would empower or emphasize values that were important to us.

You watch movies now. I can watch a movie and there’s a scene that just catches me. It’s empowering a value. We have our own stories in life that empower values that are important to us. Imagine instead of allowing the circumstances dictate who we are, we get to choose who we want to be by allowing that story to take us to that value in that moment. Does that make sense?

Pete Mockaitis
So you say that we’re choosing it as opposed to hey, the song comes on and there you go. Maybe could you walk us through a couple of examples in practice in terms of you’re kind of living and experiencing one thing and you make a choice to empower a value through story and then things are transformed?

Barney Feinberg
Okay, I can give you a story of someone that I coached. Does that work?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh sure, yeah.

Barney Feinberg
Okay, good. I have two professions, really three, but we’ll talk two: coaching and recruiting. I’ve been in executive placement for 25 years. As an executive recruiter I was talking to one of my clients who was looking for a new job.

She’d only been with the company that she was with for six months. I said, “What happened? What makes you want to leave?” She said, “Well, I took this job. I was really excited. Then I got this new boss three months into the job. This boss is just a micromanager, driving me crazy.” I’m like, “Wow, yeah.”

We talked about it. I started coaching her for a while. What was showing up were certain values that were just disconnecting her. This happens to us all the time at work. We just get numb to it. We just think that’s just the way work is.

But values such as independence, she didn’t have any. She felt, “Oh my God, this woman is not giving me any independence.” Very, very frustrating. She felt she wasn’t trusted. She felt efficiency wasn’t being honored. All of these things were really making it difficult for her to be effective and productive.

We talked about trust. She came up with a story after some coaching about where trust was everything for her. It happened to be with her husband down a ski slope going down a black and how much she trusted him to help her get down. It all worked brilliantly. Every time she thought about that moment, trust was empowered.

I challenged her. I said, “Start empowering the value of trust with your manager.” It wasn’t easy. It took her some time, but it took her some time because you can’t just do it on a dime sometimes. It takes practice. She got better and better at it. Suddenly, the manager was trusting her because she was authentically trusting him and that made a world of difference.

Micromanagers drive themselves crazy more than anybody else. They overextend themselves because they have to check everything twice. When they can trust somebody to do the work, boy, it takes a lot of relief. Suddenly life became a lot better for her. She got promoted rather quickly because not everybody was able to deal with this person as she was.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, so then the key then was, she reconnected to an experience, which sort of trust became all the more real and felt and lived and experienced, kind of like when you said thinking about being in love versus actually being in love.

Barney Feinberg
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
So she got there. Then as a result she was able to bring that kind of an attitude to the manager and treat her in a way as though she trusted the manager even though she wasn’t maybe as naturally inclined to do so. She kind of summoned that up from within her to-

Barney Feinberg
When you empower a value, that is your rule of conduct. Values are our rules of conduct. They characterize your sense of self and are elemental in the actions you take. You can’t fake it.

But here’s the deal. What was happening before she did that was she was making the manager wrong. Even if she wasn’t saying it outwardly, inwardly it is felt. The circumstance was dictating who she was.

She was having these values that are on automatic pilot with her, which I said before, control her more than they control – she controls them. They were coming up and saying, “Warning, warning.” Frustration, anger, misunderstanding, boredom, whatever it may be, they were putting her off the game and the manager will feel that.

But when you’re truly authentically connecting with somebody, the world changes. It changes 100%. By the way, I became really good friends with the guy that I played against. He knew what was going on too. But it’s something that is just permeates.

Thank God it’s Friday was invented because we get disconnected from our values throughout the course of the week. We don’t even realize it’s happening. We’re numb to it. We’re so used to it. But when we start learning how to empower our values consciously, the world changes. Suddenly, we can start looking at the values we have in common with people and choose to connect to those rather than the ones that disconnect us.

Pete Mockaitis
Intriguing. We use the example of trust, so then can we dig into some more in terms of-

Barney Feinberg
I’d be happy to dig into one with you. How do you like that?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure thing.

Barney Feinberg
Oh good. Okay, great. Talking to you, I would imagine that collaboration is a good value for you.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s true. I do enjoy a good collaboration. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s energizing.

Barney Feinberg
Great. I want you to imagine that that’s the value that you’re holding important right now. That’s the one that you are connecting to.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Barney Feinberg
Now, I want you to imagine that I’m connecting to independence. I want nothing to do with collaboration. How do you feel?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, it’s just a little sad. It’s sort of like, “Oh, Barney, we were going to have a fun time creating this thing together, but I guess we’re not. Okay.” It’s disappointing.

Barney Feinberg
Right. That’s what happens. We get frustrated, angry, disappointed. Whenever you’re honoring a value that’s not being honored in return – we put up a brave face. I’ve seen a lot of people who will smile on the outside and turn on the inside. In fact they get so used to it, they don’t even realize they’re doing it. But then they wonder why they’re so tired and they need the weekend to recover. It’s because of that.

But it begins with knowing yourself. Imagine now you’re collaborating. That’s what it’s all about. I am too. I love collaboration in case you didn’t realize it. How do you feel now?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, yeah, it’s a lot of fun I guess. But what I’m thinking about though is, how do we make the leap? How do we bridge the gap?

Barney Feinberg
Well, it’s really a four-step process the way I show it in my book.

Pete Mockaitis
Do tell.

Barney Feinberg
The first step is to better know yourself.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Barney Feinberg
How many values do you think you have?

Pete Mockaitis
Brene Brown says two.

Barney Feinberg
God bless her.

Pete Mockaitis
I mean I don’t know. In a way you could – I don’t know. We’ll say two to nine in that range.

Barney Feinberg
All right, I’m going to say this to you, most people will tell me two or three. Those that are really self-aware maybe will be able to tell me ten. But those that are self-aware when they say ten, how long do you think it takes for them to actually be able to articulate that?

Pete Mockaitis
Maybe a lifetime.

Barney Feinberg
It takes a while. Trust me. It takes a while. We are very clueless to the values that we have. I’m going to tell you, you have tens, you have hundreds of values. But what we tend to do for convenience sake, is we mesh them into a giant value, like the value of integrity.

You look at most companies that have these are our values, many of them will say integrity. I’ll applaud. I’ll say integrity is a great value. Then I’ll ask how many values do you believe there are in integrity.

Pete Mockaitis
I mean we can subdivide it infinite ways.

Barney Feinberg
Yeah, exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
It covers everything from not stealing to not being late.

Barney Feinberg
Well, yes, exactly. Exactly. You’re 100% right. Yet, here’s the thing, there may be, let’s just use an arbitrary number, 30 values in integrity. Maybe 29 of them you have in common with the person you’re working with, but you’re connecting to the one that disconnects you. Crazy.

Pete Mockaitis
Now you say I’m connecting with. What does that phrase mean?

Barney Feinberg
You are noticing the timeliness, as an example, is not being honored.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, I’m connecting with – as I’m noticing it isn’t there and it’s ticking me off.

Barney Feinberg
Yeah, …. Yeah. Then you go to other values that affect it, like my efficiency is being drawn down or I’m bored because I’m not getting anything done. All of these things show up, but it’s all about timeliness.

What happens? We get into a rut. Suddenly, say you’re working – look I work with advertising, public relations, media services. Those are my forte industries. Say you’re working with a creative who consistently is late. Well, if every time you set up an appointment that’s in the back of your mind, you’re already disconnecting from that value.

You may be smiling, “Oh, you’ll be there on time, won’t you?” but in the back of your mind, you’re like, “They’re going to be late again.” Because of it, they’re going to be late again.

Pete Mockaitis
You say, because of it, they’re going to be late again. Can you say more about that?

Barney Feinberg
Sure. You’re making them wrong.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. As a result of me making them wrong, they respond in a-

Barney Feinberg
… by either being late again or they’ll do something else because nobody likes to be made wrong. Nobody. That’s probably the biggest disease we have in business, is being made wrong. People were taught to do that. That’s how we were brought up.

We were brought up in what I call a test society. I think they’ll look back a thousand years from now and say, “Oh my God, these people were giving and taking tests every day of their life.” Hey, not only were we taking tests, but we were taught to learn what we got wrong, so we wouldn’t repeat it, so we’re always looking for what’s wrong.

A lot of us are really like that, not all of us, but a lot of people are always looking for what we could do better and what someone else could do better. It creates a lot of wrong and people don’t like being wrong.

Pete Mockaitis
You’re saying that if someone’s late, I value timeliness and I make them wrong, whether I verbally express it or not, they are picking up that I’m not too pleased with something about them and then they react in way that is unfavorable, kind of like a vicious cycle.

Barney Feinberg
Well, it gets to be. Einstein gave the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. That’s kind of what we are on automatic pilot. We’re on automatic pilot with people.

Some people we just don’t trust. There may have been something that happened years ago that they did that made us lose trust in them. Ever since then we always question trust. Maybe we’ll get over it. Maybe we don’t. Trust is important, but it ain’t everything. Sometimes because we’re not trusting somebody, they’re not trusting us. It just happens that way.

If you can connect with someone with a value authentically – you can’t fake empowering a value – but if you’re authentically connecting to someone with a value that you’re empowering and they are empowering it at the same time, believe it or not, suddenly you start trusting each other again.

Pete Mockaitis
In the realm of the timeliness example, what would we do there?

Barney Feinberg
With timeliness?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, so someone’s late-

Barney Feinberg
It all depends on where …. Connect with that person. You could go to sense of humor. You could go to so many different values. We have so many to choose from. Maybe they appreciate honesty. Maybe there’s something about the situation that calls for empathy. I don’t know.

But the point is there are four steps. We’re jumping the gun. First step is to know yourself better. I challenge people to have at least 20 or 30 values that they can empower consciously.

Because if the person is late and you’re thrown to them being late and making them wrong, you’re allowing the circumstance to dictate who you are just like when I was told you have one set and the winner take all, I sensed he didn’t want me to make the team, I went automatically to playing not to lose, being upset, all of that. We do that all the time. We do that all the time.

Pete Mockaitis
We’ve got your 20 values that you can empower. It’s sort of like, let’s say gratitude. I’ve got a-

Barney Feinberg
I love that.

Pete Mockaitis
-a story, an experience of gratitude raring to go. It’s sort of like it’s in my repertoire to summon it. Then if I can pick up on – I guess we’re jumping the gun again – if I can pick up on the notion that this annoying late person also values gratitude, then I can kind of change the focus such that we’re vibing on this shared gratitude value thing and thusly have more of a positive rapport and less of an I’m irritated with this tardy person.

Barney Feinberg
There’s no such thing as perfection. We’ll all have values that disconnect us from each other. We’ll all have values that connect us. We’re just really good at noticing what’s missing. Business teaches us to be that way. We do that in relationships.

I’m a believer that the biggest asset any company has are the people they have in it and the talent. If you know how to help people connect with each other, you’re going to have much better productivity, much more satisfaction, much more innovation. When people disconnect with each other, we tend to listen more to ourselves than to the people we’re talking to.

You ever notice that when you’re angry or upset? Imagine you’re in a meeting. You’re in a meeting and the value of I call it full expression, you have something to say in this meeting, but you’re basically being told to keep quiet. You want to say it. How do you feel?

Pete Mockaitis
I hear what you’re saying there with regard to talking to yourself. You’re sort of muttering, like, “Oh, this is bull crap. They never appreciate anything I have to offer.” All that kind of stuff.

Barney Feinberg
Yeah, but we’re so numb to that. We hear those voices, we don’t even realize we’re talking to ourselves. We just think we’re hearing the truth. I lost my train of thought there. You got me off a bit.

Pete Mockaitis
We had four steps.

Barney Feinberg
All right, the second step, once you have say listed 20 values, the second step is to learn how to empower them. That takes step-by-step process.

What I do is I have people free write. I tell them to free write a peak moment in their life. If you looked at my book, you’d see what I did with it. You free write a couple of paragraphs of a peak moment and I can promise you you’ll learn at least 20 or 30 values from that one story if you go through it a number of times. You’ll see so many different values that pop up.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool.

Barney Feinberg
Once you list the number of stories – I actually break it down. I mentioned DNA values; they’re values that are on automatic pilot, that just show up all the time. Then there are other values we never even bring to work that could be brilliant if we realized that we could actually use them, but we don’t. We just go with what’s on automatic pilot usually.

The next step is to find the story that empowers that value. It’s your story. If you can’t find it, you can find a story that you’ve read about or a scene in a movie, something that every time you think about it, it just lifts your soul.

I’ll tell you, once I realized songs helped me out in tennis, I was listening to the Rocky theme song a lot when we were going to matches. It really pumped you up. You know what that’s like. That’s what people – song is great. I use song as a trigger to empower values.

Once I have the value defined as to what my definition is, and it’s mine, it’s nobody else’s. I could have a definition of a value that’s different from your definition and we could disconnect or your value of A and my value of B are the same, but we have different names for it. It’s really to get to know who you are. Once you have a better sense of who you are, ah, now it’s easier to understand where you connect with others because now you understand it better.

It’s like if I go to Alaska and I look at the snow, which you were just talking about, I’d see three kinds. I’d see wet, dry and icy because that’s what I shovel. But if I spoke to an Alaskan, they’d say 50 kinds that you can drink from, that you can walk on, that you can camp on, that you’re going to fall through. They have names for them.

Once you start being able to better articulate your values, it’s much easier to understand the ones that are connecting with you. I mean, “Oh, he’s out of integrity.” Okay, maybe you’ll call it late. Maybe it’s something else, but we generalize. We generalize. I think it’s much more powerful to let them free, to really get to understand them better so that you know exactly where you’re disconnecting and where you’re not.

I’ll say this, in every sentence there are multiple values, multiple. If you listen for them, you’ll hear them. You’re not going to get them all in the beginning. It takes time, but all you have to do is find a couple. …-

Pete Mockaitis
So I’m listening for them-

Barney Feinberg
-really works with him and I or with her and her whoever. I mean, wow. Suddenly, you’ve got the ability not to allow that circumstance to dictate who you are.

Pete Mockaitis
I guess with the listening am I looking out for strong emotion, like, “Whoa, that person is mad about that,” or “Oh, that person is passionate about this thing,” or “That person really seems to be quite disappointed by this.” What am I listening for to zero in the values?

Barney Feinberg
I’ll give you – one of the things I help people do is learn how to listen for values in the interview process. I say the most important factor in taking a job or hiring is the chemistry you’re going to have with people. I have them listen for values. I’m going to give you one sentence that I use. I use a number, but I’ll use this just one to give you as an example.

I have people ask what makes you and your company successful. Usually when I’m talking to people about that, they’ve already listed 20 or 30 values in the conversation we’ve had. I say just look at the values you have in front of you. Aren’t they what make you a success? Generally speaking they will agree. Absolutely.

With that in front of them, I give them a couple of sentences to understand how many values can be in one. I’ll give you one. What makes me and my company successful? “Gee, that’s a good question. What makes us successful? Well, we’re always looking for better ways to accomplish the job and we do a brilliant job.” Now, I’m going to ask you, what values did you hear in that?

Pete Mockaitis
I’d say innovation, execution, maybe praise or celebration.

Barney Feinberg
Awesome. Okay. Let me tell you what was intended. “Gee, that’s a good question.” I just acknowledged you. Acknowledgement is a value some people really appreciate.

Pete Mockaitis
… a good time to think.

Barney Feinberg
Well, no, no, no, no, no, but you’re not going to get – look, I don’t want to be unfair. It’s four steps. The first step is to know yourself better. It doesn’t happen that quickly. It takes time, but if you do it step-by-step, it’s a practice. It’s not a one and done situation. But it’s for people that really want to have a better way of connecting with each other. I think the better you connect, the more successful you’re going to be.

But just to go through that sentence quickly, I’ll just throw a couple out there. Acknowledgement, full expression. I said, “That’s a good question.” I’m maybe someone who encourages other questions. “What makes us successful?” I find reflective thinking an important value. I just repeated the question, so maybe I’m a reflective thinker.

Then “We’re always looking for better ways,” strategic thinking, efficiency. “We do a brilliant job,” dedication to excellence. Then what’s peppered in there are three us and we’s, which could indicate collaboration, team play, whatever the value is you choose to name it, but you can see, oh my goodness, how many values ….

What usually happens in a good conversation is people have a gut feeling. Gut feelings are great, but they’re coming from your stomach. They’re not coming from your head. When you can actually understand what’s causing it and it’s these values that are actually being – showing up in the conversation, it gives you a lot more wisdom to make decisions and a lot more wisdom to know how to connect with people.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s interesting how you said maybe there a couple times. It’s sort of like you are generating hypotheses and then sort of finding further reinforcement with subsequent sentences. It’s like, “Oh, well, you know what? That collaborative thing only showed up once, but then the other showed up again, and again, and again, and again. Maybe the collaboration was more of a fluke or a lesser value from that one sentence.

Barney Feinberg
Maybe I misheard it. Maybe I was listening for what I wanted to hear and it wasn’t there because a lot of times we go in on what I term a test mentality. If it’s an interview, we’re trying to pass the test. When we’re testing, we’re absolutely listening more to ourselves than the people we’re talking to. It’s when we’re – I shifted.

To listen for values, you want to be using what I term a field trip mentality. When you’re on a field trip, there’s much better chance you’re in curiosity, open mind, and discovery, three values that I find really important. What I do with everyone that I talk to and you can do this right now, think of a moment when you were on a field trip or a vacation that was just amazing. Tell me when you get it.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh yeah, got it.

Barney Feinberg
Yeah. How did that feel?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, it was-

Barney Feinberg
Thinking about that vacation.

Pete Mockaitis
It was cozy. There was just great people just enjoying each other. We didn’t actually do a whole lot. We mostly stayed inside. It was very snowy out and it was a pretty remote location, but it was just great times together, whether we were talking or playing video games or cooking or eating. It was just great fun.

Barney Feinberg
Imagine going into an RFP feeling that way rather than trying to pass a test. Imagine going on a blind date that way rather than that test mentality that generally shows up in a blind date conversation.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I see there. So we use the vacation prompt to get us to a place of hey, feeling good and enjoying in a relaxed way.

Barney Feinberg
Yes, here’s the deal. If you’re talking to someone and you’re in that mentality and you’re not feeling that way, I suggest it’s probably disconnection from the person you’re talking to. What is it that’s disconnecting?

If it’s an interview, it’s a good chance maybe that’s not a person you want to work with every day. But if it’s someone you’re working with every day, what is it that’s throwing us off? What are the values that are disconnecting us and what are the values I’m hearing that would?

Pete Mockaitis
Once you’ve sort of identified, “Okay, I think this person values this and I’ve got that within me as well, so I’m going to try to bring it forth,” I guess that’s with either the music or the story or the memory. Then you’re just kind of showing up and interacting with that person with that kind of in the background of what’s going on for you.

Barney Feinberg
But …. You’re being that. If you’re truly empowering a value, it is dictating who you are. It clarifies your voice. It focuses your mind. It aligns your visions. It’s who you are. Some people will say to me, “Gee Barney, how come I have to change? Why should I be the one that changes?”

Pete Mockaitis
I just think that’s so funny because we just talked about making other people wrong. It’s like-

Barney Feinberg
Yeah, but people do this. They say, “Well, I’m right. They’re wrong.” A lot of people like being right. Being right is fine, but when you’re making others wrong because of it, it doesn’t help you that much. It doesn’t. It certainly is not going to build a relationship.

What I say to people that say this to me is you’re being yourself. You’re just choosing to connect rather than disconnect. I’m not asking you to be a value that doesn’t – isn’t who you are. I’m suggesting you try something that really will connect you and build bridges of connection to knock down the walls of disconnection that might have been there for a long time.

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

Barney Feinberg
Well, I would say one other thing we didn’t get to discuss. There are three types of relationships. One is dysfunctional, one is stagnant, and one is on the rise. Dysfunctional we know. We’ve probably had them. But on the rise is what I call out for everyone.

However, unfortunately, most of us settle for stagnant, which means, yeah, we are connecting. We are connecting. We have values that work, Barney, and we’ve been using them for years and years and years. I’m like, yeah, so if you were a business and you just kept doing it the same way over and over again for years and years and years, chances are you’re not going to be as successful.

I challenge people to look for new values that can connect them to people even the ones that they’re connected to because it can create a whole new opportunity for innovation and satisfaction. I use a quote from Michelangelo, who said “The greater danger for most of us is not that we aim to high and miss, but we aim to low and succeed.”

Pete Mockaitis
Got it. Thank you.

Barney Feinberg
You’re welcome.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, now could you share with us a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Barney Feinberg
A favorite – well, there was something that came out for 2017, SHRM, Society for Human Resource Management. They looked at the satisfaction levels of people in 2017 at work. They made an announcement that it was the best they’ve seen in five years. They said people that were very satisfied equaled 38% of the population.

I was like, 38%, very satisfied. That means the rest of us are either simply satisfied or not satisfied. I never – people that are looking to succeed are not looking just for satisfaction. I think that’s an optimistic thing because that means there’s a lot of opportunity to rise up.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite book?

Barney Feinberg
Well, then I’m going to go way back. This is a book that really captured me when I was in high school, Siddhartha. Are you familiar with it?

Pete Mockaitis
I think I read it a while ago. Hermann Hesse?

Barney Feinberg
Hermann Hesse.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Barney Feinberg
Yeah. We’re all on a journey for self-discovery. I just look at life that way. Had a big impact on me.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite tool, something that helps you be awesome at your job?

Barney Feinberg
Every morning before I start officially working, I practice empowering my values. Then I get to choose which one I want to start my day with.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh cool. Is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate and folks repeat it back to you often?

Barney Feinberg
Well, one that really is a nugget that people really can relate to and appreciate, the better you know yourself, the easier it is to know what you want. The better you know what you want, the easier it is to achieve.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes, that sounds true. Yeah. And yet overlooked in terms of taking the time to get to know yourself better and then getting to know what you want better because what I like about that is it connects some very practical kind of results-generating utility effectiveness type thinking to maybe more fuzzy kind of feel good introspection thinking and say, no, no, in fact one is a pathway to more of the other.

Barney Feinberg
Buddha said this, “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” When your thoughts are empowered by your values, the world becomes a brilliant place to be. By the way, that was my ending. That was me at the end.

There’s one other – if you were asking me quotes, I could quote you all day. There’s so many quotes I love. Do you know the Gandhi quote about values?

Pete Mockaitis
I’m not sure.

Barney Feinberg
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, and your habits become your values. Your values are your destiny.” Then I paraphrase. When you’re empowering your values, reaching your destiny is easy and you can go beyond it. But when you’re disconnected from your values, it is a hard road and you’ll never reach it to the point you want to.

Pete Mockaitis
Do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Barney Feinberg
Discover the wealth of values you have, rea  lly. Know them. They’re tools that you can use that you haven’t been using consciously most likely. Empower them and it will give you greater opportunity to authentically connect with people at work and in life. This works for everything, but I’m focusing it on business.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. If folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Barney Feinberg
Barney@TheChemistryFactor.com, www.TheChemistryFactor.com.

Pete Mockaitis
Perfect. Well, Barney, it’s been a whole lot of fun. I wish you lots of luck with The Chemistry Factor and all you’re doing.

Barney Feinberg
Pete, it’s been a pleasure talking with you. Thank you for your time.

372: How to Take the Work out of Networking with Karen Wickre

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Karen Wickre says: "It's not like... I'm the only one that needs to meet someone new to get some new ideas."

Karen Wickre shares ways both introverts and extroverts can grow their networks without that transactional feeling.

You’ll Learn:

  1. A pro-tip for how to build up your network despite social anxiety
  2. How to farm for contacts instead of hunting for them
  3. The strength of weak ties

About Karen

Karen Wickre is the former Editorial Director at Twitter, where she landed after a decade-long career at Google. She is a member of the Board of Visitors for the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University, and serves on the boards of the International Center for Journalists, the News Literacy Project, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. She has been a featured columnist for Wired.com and is a cofounder of Newsgeist, an annual gathering conference fostering new approaches to news and information. She is the author of Taking the Work Out of Networking and lives in San Francisco.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Karen Wickre Interview Transcript

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

Karen Wickre
Oh, thanks, Pete. I’m looking forward to this.

Pete Mockaitis
I’ve been looking forward to this as well. I’d like to start by hearing the tale – I understand that you attended the first concert of The Beatles in the US. What’s the whole story here?

Karen Wickre
Well, the whole story is, I’m old enough to have attended the first concert of The Beatles in the US on February 19th, ’64. It is true. I’m I guess a classic Baby Boomer. I lived in Washington, DC. That’s where I grew up. The Washington concert was strangely enough, their first US concert. Then they went to New York. Then they went to Miami.

Pete Mockaitis
No kidding.

Karen Wickre
I was already a Beatles’ nut by the time they arrived here. I was getting British magazines and all the rest. So my poor dad drove a couple of us down into the city to this concert, which I know now was probably 40 minutes long. He waited for us. And so I don’t remember really hearing anything of the songs because there was a lot of screaming, to which I contributed.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. That’s cool. Was this your first concert?

Karen Wickre
I think it was. I’m sure it was because I was 12 or 13. Kids in those days didn’t really just go off to concerts. I did later in high school, but this was earlier.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. So plenty of screaming, a moment in history and you were there.

Karen Wickre
I was there. I’m still here, which is I guess ….

Pete Mockaitis
And you remain. Well done. Well, so let’s hear about your upcoming book. Will this also make history? It’s called Taking the Work out of Networking. What is the main idea here?

Karen Wickre
The main idea is maybe hidden in the subtitle, which is An Introverts Guide to Making Connections That Count. I don’t know about making history because frankly, I think it’s full of a lot of common sense, which isn’t often historical when we look back.

But the idea came to me for a couple of reasons. One, I have lived and worked in Silicon Valley in San Francisco for over 30 years. I’ve worked in technology businesses for all of that time. So I’m used to the ecosystem of that, which helped me kind of understand that, your connections are part of your currency professionally in a place that’s as fluid and fast moving as Silicon Valley. Today, it’s certainly not the only place that is that way.

But what I noticed is I do have a wonderful world of contacts of all kinds who I feel I can always turn to for any number of questions or needs I might have and so can other people. I’ve noticed over time that my way of staying in touch with people is almost all online, almost all digital.

In talking to other people, many of told me, whether they’re introverts or not, “I hate networking. I hate the idea of it. It seems phony and awkward, but I – so can you help me, introduce me to so-and-so.” Of course I always say yes, but I don’t have to be the only one who kind of has this ability.

I tried to document kind of all the ways that people can make better, more useful, and meaningful connections then trading the old business card while you’re looking past the other person.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So I’d love to get your take on a couple of the approaches in a moment, but first let’s dig into that subtitle a little bit. You talk about connections that count, could you maybe paint a clear picture for us in terms of what does it look like when you’ve made a connection that counts versus the alternative?

Karen Wickre
Right, one that doesn’t count.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Karen Wickre
Yeah, I think that to me if you dig a little more deeply into someone’s background and history and what they’re currently doing beyond the small talk of “What do you do? Where do you work? Here’s my card. Can I be in touch?”

If you get a little deeper than transactional, you find much more – sort of a richer person, a fuller person there – who may become a good friend, who may become a valuable business contact, but you don’t know that if you’re just doing the transactional things. I encourage more sort of conversational exchanges, more drawing out, being curious about the other person beyond that immediate identified work/job title, whatever it is.

And those to me, they can happen in person, but also can happen with a video chat. I have contacts I keep up with that way. And we have sort of virtual coffee. To me those are more – it’s not any particular skillset or field, it’s just you feel like you know them a little better and vice versa.

Pete Mockaitis
I see. Well, can you share a little bit in terms of some of the questions that you’re proposing or the key things that you find yourself saying often in conversations with new people that bring about some of that curiosity and that opening up and that sharing?

Karen Wickre
Yeah, well, for me, here’s where we play a little bit on the introvert part of this. I realized a few years ago something that had always been true for me. I’ve kind of throughout life made a game of getting other people to talk first. I think that as a kid I think I wanted some sort of reassurance that I could trust them or I could feel good around them or I was willing to reveal a little bit more about myself because introverts typically hold back.

Frankly, it works wonderfully to ask other people questions and get them going conversationally for the purposes of making a better connection, right? Or for the purposes of hearing and understanding more about someone else.

Questions to me to ask are not yes/no questions, but “Tell me a story,” questions. “How do you – are you enjoying the conference? What brought you here today?” if it’s that kind of meeting. “How did you get into your line of work? How do you like Company X? Do you enjoy this location? Are you thinking about somewhere else?”

Things like that that are sort of openers, where people generally – they’re safe enough to feel inclined to answer. They’re not terribly personal, but they’re personal enough. Then you obviously at some point have to take your turn and jump in, but you have a little more information there to sort of give context to the conversation.

Those kinds of questions, depending on how you read a person, there may be times to get a little more personal. If they’re wearing a team t-shirt and you know something about that team or they have wild eyeglasses on and you like those – there are ways to make people feel at ease and make them feel noticed and heard. You can do that by sort of making note of the fact that you’re paying attention to the other person with these kind of cues.

Pete Mockaitis
Intriguing. So, it’s just that simple in terms of “Hey, I noticed that you’ve got some cool glasses. Where did you get them?

Karen Wickre
Yeah, yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
There you go. Say, “Well, I got them at PhoneticEyewear.com,” or whatever.

Karen Wickre
That’s a little more fun than just sort of – even at a conference, “Where do you work? What do you do there?” That’s okay. Those are informational questions too, but sometimes it’s nice – it depends kind of how you can read the person.

My theory is that introverts are more observant of other people and perhaps more curious because we’re people watching and we’re kind of wanting to see other people kind of play out a little bit before we commit too much to speaking.

Pete Mockaitis
Maybe you can help out us extroverts in terms of just going through numerous things that you can notice that maybe we might overlook. You talk about maybe glasses or apparel. Let her rip. Maybe just kind of reflecting back to the last few times you met new people and the things you noticed and struck up conversations about.

Karen Wickre
Yeah, I’ll make a caveat. This is a little bit outside of say a job interview, which I do talk about in the book. There are ways to do that too, but that takes a little more caution.

Any other setting – I have commented to people about their shoes or their bag or how did they like – if not their phone, because there are, precious few options there. Do they have any favorite apps, their carrying case for their phone, what their – if they look like they’re deep into technology, what do they like best, how are they liking that new app or something.

But sometimes it is sort of, “Those are great shoes. Those are great glasses.” Someone with fantastically dyed hair, I think is someone who wants some attention for that, so I think it’s okay to say, “I love your purple hair,” but to leave it sort of friendly and not too probing, but as sort of a positive, ‘I’m paying attention to you and I like what I see’ is the idea. I’m curious. You may want to tell me all about the purple hair or you may not. That’s okay. We’ll move on to your favorite apps.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, cool. I’d love to get your take then for those who are experiencing some social anxiety, whether it’s all the time or just under certain contexts and scenarios. What are some of your pro tips for managing that and trying to be confident and calm and engage well?

Karen Wickre
Yeah, I’m a big believer in one-to-one exchanges as opposed to a group. If I do go to kind of a group party, I may be the one in the corner, deep in conversation with one person for the bulk of the evening because a good conversation to me is—it’s kind of the whole megillah. Where someone else may want to make the rounds and sort of, hop from one to another, if I like the conversation, I may want to stick with it.

I mean, I think you can just come away with a good feeling from a one-to-one exchange. It might be as simple as starting with people you’re somewhat familiar with as opposed to strangers. You may have work colleagues, who you don’t directly work with or you don’t see that often, but they seem interesting or they do – they’re in a team that you’d like to know more about or you want to understand what their work is. Have coffee with them.

I actually kind of repeat a saying in my book a few times, which is, “It’s just coffee,” which is to say, it’s not an interrogation or a job interview or something scary. But one-to-one, you begin to feel confident, even if you’re in a room then of mostly strangers but here’s this one person you kind of know. That’s a good thing.

But the other thing is, to not start with “I don’t know these mythical people out there, who are strangers to me, who have answers to all my problems,” but instead “I’ve always liked the contractor in our office and I thought maybe I’d get to know them a little bit better,” or a vendor or —the summer intern. Or you’re the summer intern and you want to get to know someone in an interesting role.

Start with people who are familiar-ish to you and break that down into sort of these one-to-one conversations. Then you build up new contacts and you have them among people that you consider safer perhaps less daunting.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well so we dug into a bit of the how and maybe we should zoom out a touch for the why. I think some folks would say, “I just don’t like networking and I don’t need to network, so I’m not going to network.” What’s your response to that? You’ve referred to networking as a necessary evil. What makes it necessary? What makes it evil?

Karen Wickre
Well, the idea of this networking where you’re conducting transactions or hoping to, I think that’s how people think of – that word networking even, I think they think it’s trying to get something when I need a lead for a job or I’m forced to go to this thing by work or it’s a conference or something  and I have to do this meaningless small talk and trade business cards or worse yet, I’m desperate for a job and I really – I have to go through these motions.

That’s what seems both necessary and evil I think to people, but it doesn’t have to be that way if you’re constantly maintaining the contacts you do have and continuing to extend them. The reason why this is important – or, there are a few reasons actually.

One is that more of us are going to work longer and that is going to be in more jobs. The days of having a single job through your career are long passed. You’re going to be going into new fields. You might be changing direction. You might be moving to a new area. You’re going to need to continue to make connections for yourself over time.

Similarly, younger people are taking more jobs from the get-go. One study I saw said that new-ish college grads have 5 jobs within the first 5 years of their getting out of school. We’re all familiar with the gig economy. There are more people doing independent work, piecing together contracting and project work and freelance this and that. That all requires more contacts to keep the pipeline going.

In addition, Americans actually move around geographically more than ten times as adults on average. So there’s a lot of reasons, that we need to continue to have new contacts and be able to reach out to new people with questions and our needs.

And we all have that need, by the way. We all have turns where we need to do this. It’s not like everyone else has it all sewn up and I’m the only one that needs to meet someone new to get some new ideas. Everyone needs to.

I’ve only met one person in my travels who admitted to me she had a nice, secure job for eight or nine years. When I met her, she said, “I realized I want to look for another job. It’s time for me to move on and I’ve let my network go because I’ve been in my pleasant comfortable job.” Well, guess what? Now she had to sort of create a new network of contacts to reach out to for her search. Rather than scrambling at that point, better that you just have people to turn to all the time.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely. Okay, we’ve got the necessary, we’ve got the evil. Let’s talk a little bit about the “Oh, but I’m just scared,” or “Ah, that’s so uncomfortable. It’s just not me.” How do you reframe that such that maybe it can be all the more manageable and approachable?

Karen Wickre
Well, as we were saying before, as we were talking about before, the idea that you actually know more people than you think you know. Start with familiar people. Don’t make it a faceless mass out there.

Think about – let’s say you’re interested in moving on from your current company and you want to sort of move up with the next role. You know the kind of company or you know the specific company. It’s quite possible you might know someone who works there or is in a similar role. How did they get there? This is the sort of thing LinkedIn obviously was designed for and is useful for but there are other ways in addition.

It’s really just sort of just getting away from the general scariness to the specific “Let me talk to this person and let me talk to that person.” Just as you would not maybe want one opinion from one doctor, it’s sort of like get second opinions from other people who have different experiences and can help you along the way.

I don’t know how to make it more or, less scary than that other than to say, one-to-one coffees and one-to-one sort of email and phone call exchanges are pretty safe compared to that scary mass of strangers.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I also want to get a little bit of your take, we talk about coffees, that’s making me think about Keith Ferrazzi’s book, Never Eat Alone and his kind of mentality of kind of just going for it, all the time. How do you think about that premise of never eating alone and just really going after network building with gusto?

Karen Wickre
Or a vengeance.

Pete Mockaitis
Or if – your words, not mine.

Karen Wickre
I have to say, I feel like I’m at the other end of this than Keith. I know his work and his energy I’m impressed by. But I want to have meals alone sometimes. I don’t want to be talking to people all the time.

Again, for me, the game is not building a network so that there’s more contacts in it. The game for me really is making the connections between people. That’s what I do naturally. That’s what I like to do.

For people who don’t necessarily want to be the connector, simply having more resources to draw on and to give back to – because as I say this is all sort of mutual and reciprocal – over time. It’s very cumulative. There’s a quote I like very much that I came across when I was writing the book, which is from a guy named Ivan Misner, who created-

Pete Mockaitis
I’ve had him on the show.

Karen Wickre
Oh really?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Karen Wickre
Okay, so Mr. Business Network International, right? His line that is so great is “Networking is more like farming than it is like hunting.” What I love about that, even though he uses the networking word, instead of connecting, it really is true.

If you think of farming or gardening, either one, you’re planting, you’re weeding, you’re replanting, you’re nurturing throughout the bad weather as well as harvesting and the good weather, all that kind of stuff. As opposed to hunting, which is really transactional when you think about it. You’re going in for the kill and you kill or you fail, but that’s it.

I find thinking about it that way, that really gets my point across is it’s more like the cyclical, kind of long-term, long-game process of farming or gardening.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, I dig it. I also want to get your take on – you’ve got a fun turn of a phrase that you suggest we embrace our quiet side. What does that look like in practice?

Karen Wickre
Well, I think for those who aren’t glad handers and don’t want to work the room and don’t want to go out there, as I say, I probably spend 20 or 30 minutes maybe in the morning when I’m first sort of warming up for the day – I read the news. I’m kind of a news junkie. I follow lots of things.

Someone will come to mind when I see one story or another if I know – as just happened – a Red Sox fan, and I find some quirky story about their recent World Series win, I just send off the link to my friend and say, “Hey, thinking of you. Enjoy this.”
I do that probably 10 or 15 times to people I know well, old friends, people I don’t know as well, where I see something of interest that just makes me think of them or I might have a specific question. That’s like 20 – 30 minutes in the morning. That is sort of my sort of outreach for the day maybe.

People come back in their own time. It’s very asynchronous. But we’ve had a moment of being top of mind for each other in that. That actually is maintaining your connections. That’s maintaining your network right there. That’s why I say you can do so much behind the screen as opposed to having to go to events and having to make small talk.

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

Karen Wickre
Let me think. I think the only other thing I’d say, and I do have a chapter in the book about this, is the power of weak ties. Weak ties are the people you know less well and often are the ones who – especially in a professional or in a job context – may be the key to unlocking an opportunity for you.

This is why I encourage people to think more broadly about who they know. It could be a colleague they had 10 or 15 years ago, they haven’t been in touch with. It turns out when you say, “Oh I’m interested – I’m glad to be back in touch. The reason I just want to tell you what I’m up to. I’m doing this and I’m looking to do this,” and they say, “Oh my God, my next-door neighbor, my best friend is so-and-so. I’ll introduce you.”

You wouldn’t know that unless you had made that sort of friendly agenda-less contact with a weak tie or even a stranger. I guess I can’t say enough, people should think broadly about who they know and not be afraid to reach out in a way that is kind of friendly and open and with a specific need if you have it.

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

Karen Wickre
Gosh, I’m such a quote fan. I love this one from Susan Cain, who of course wrote Quiet, which is the bible for introverts that came out in 2012, so much work has come out of that. She said something like, “Some people require the bright lights of Broadway and others thrive at the lamp-lit desk.”

I love that because not only does it sort of encompass these different styles, but it’s like it’s okay to be either. It’s okay and fine and there’s a good quality to if you must have the Broadway lights, perhaps that’s Keith Ferrazzi, or if you thrive in a different way. Both are fine and all points in between.

I really think that’s to me is a sort of broader idea than just for introverts and extroverts. I think it’s a good way to think about living and other people.

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

Karen Wickre
Let me think. Well, at the risk of repeating myself, when I looked into this idea about your weak ties, it all goes back to one Stanford sociologist in the 1970s, who made a study of people who were then looking for jobs. Remember they didn’t have digital means for looking and scouting. It was all sort of human face-to-face.

The experiment that he set up had to do with where people got the best leads for the jobs they had. They came from this characteristic – this group of people he called weak ties.

I just thought especially for going back to – I think it’s ’73 is when he published this study – it’s so interesting to think about how that – first of all how it’s resonated in all the years since and been cited for all kinds of things, but also how it was conducted then and how he found out that people in fact did get the best job leads and the best opportunities and landed them through people they knew less well.

Since we live in a digital age where we do so much outreach to people we don’t know well online, it’s – I love that that study has had legs.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. How about a favorite book?

Karen Wickre
Favorite book. I am so torn on this. I’m so torn on this because I’m still attached to print and I have so many at home. I think one that I have liked very much recently is called – is by Olivia Laing, it’s called The Lonely City. It’s a little bit of a memoir and a little bit of a sort of meditation on being alone in a city and all the feelings that come up as you walk around and explore it. I’m a bit of a city walker myself. I’ve just been – it takes me to another place than the workday does.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite tool?

Karen Wickre
A favorite tool. If you could see my phone – immediately I go to the phone as opposed to my hardware drawer.

I think for me something like WhatsApp provides a lot of interesting utility when I travel overseas. As you know, it’s not as – hardly used in the US, but it has given me such utility in places where everyone uses it and where it’s very easy to either talk by voice or text people and reach them instantly. I had never heard about it until Facebook bought it. I use it with my non-US friends. It’s an intriguing tool I wouldn’t have thought of.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite habit?

Karen Wickre
Favorite habit. Now I must ask you how you define habit.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, it’s something that you do regularly that helps you to be awesome at your job. Common answers include exercise, meditation, visualization. Those are the ones that kind of frequently – reading, journaling. Sometimes it gets super specific, so it’s always fun to learn.

Karen Wickre
Yeah. Well, for me it is art museums. Whatever city I’m in, I make an effort to go to an art museum. Some cities I always go to my favorites. I don’t – sometimes, I’ll look at a big show, but other times I want to be through the quiet rooms that are not crowded or go at an off time and just stop and look and see what grabs me, see what speaks to me. I find that very restorative.

Pete Mockaitis
Tell me, when you’re teaching this stuff, is there a particular nugget, a thing that you share that seems to connect and get retweeted and sort of frequently mentioned back to you?

Karen Wickre
I’m just at the start of talking about this in relation to the book, so I would say I may not have a – I don’t know if I have a full set yet, but one thing that people seem to pick up on – in the book I talk about there is a value to small talk.

I’m not by nature a small talk fan, but when I talk about the utility of it for sort of breaking the ice and making people feel comfortable and included, a little bit what I said here earlier about conversation starters, people seem taken by that because here again I think we all say we don’t like small talk, but in fact there are times that it’s a great value.

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

Karen Wickre
My own – I’m very active on Twitter. I guess that’s the first place. My handle is KVox, V-O-X, V as in Victor, KVOX. I have my own website, which is just my name, KarenWickre.com. Then of course there’s the book itself, which is available in all the usual spots where books are sold or will be on November 27th.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Do you have a favorite call to action you’d issue to folks here seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Karen Wickre
I would say curiosity. Being curious about – it’s sometimes a hard thing to fight against the routine and the tasks in front of you and the silos that we’re often in. I would say fight that to the extent you can to be curious.

How did something get to be that way?  Why are we doing it this way? What are people doing in other teams? What else is going on that I don’t know about around the company? That can really benefit your current job, but also kind of shake up your thinking and make the whole scene a lot richer for you.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Well, Karen, thanks so much for taking this time. I wish you tons of luck with the book and all you’re up to.

Karen Wickre
Oh, thank you so much, Pete. I enjoyed it.