Thursday Nov 10, 2022
Thursday Nov 10, 2022
Living a successful personal and professional life requires a lot of things, including tremendous commitment, strategy, gut feeling, and courage. This episode's guest is Sergio Azzolari, CEO of DSQUARED2, the high fashion brand launched by twin brothers Dean and Dan Caten. Sergio embodies the cosmopolitan spirit, combining worldliness, wit, culture, and wisdom imbued with humanity and kindness. Sergio's life experiences span from Benetton and Missoni to Luxottica and Hogan, speaking six foreign languages and living on five continents. SUBSCRIBE TO PITY PARTY OVER Listen to the episode on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Castbox, Castro, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Player FM, Pocket Cast, Pod Bay, Podbean App, Podchaser, Postcast Addict, Spotify, Sticher, TuneIn. Connect with Stephen Matini via email Connect with Stephen Matini on Twitter Connect with Stephen Matini on LinkedIn Brought to you by ALYGN Organizational Consulting TRANSCRIPT Welcome Stephen Matini: So, how's your life in Ireland? Sergio Azzolari: Well, life is in Ireland is good. I mean the weather is always a surprise. I mean, you have a wardrobe that is basically layers. Maybe it’s sunny like now, or maybe like dreadful like a few hours ago. And, you know, but that was good. And Dublin is really booming again. You know, it used to be one of the Celtic Tigers years ago, and then it developed incredibly. And then because of Brexit, a lot of tech companies are moving over here. So there's a lot of hustle and bustle. This is good. Very young, very young city, very young town, very young people around, obviously being tech and all. So yeah, it's quite interesting. It's very interesting actually. A lot of things. And, and Dublin is Dublin and then you just go like minutes, minutes away and it's scattered side and beautiful cows, all that. Just kinda, kinda refreshing as well. Why not? Stephen Matini: You lived in London before, right? Sergio Azzolari: I lived in London. I lived in the US. I've lived in Hong Kong, I lived in Australia. I've lived in New Zealand, in Argentina ... yeah ... Stephen Matini: How does this experience compare to the other places? Sergio Azzolari: Well, you know, places are different, and you are different because you are, you are different. As you grow, as you grow up, obviously you have different sets of eyes. How do I compare? Well, if I compare with ... I mean it reminds me a lot of the US many years ago not now, now the US is not what it used to be. It's all woke. You can't say anything. You just have to be like, you know, super tame and be careful, not respectful before you were respectful. Now you have to be careful, which is a completely different set of mind. Here reminds me of the Google Days in US. So kinda laid back with the sense of humor. Good to stay home, good to go out and see friends, not being afraid what you say, what you don't say. So it reminds me a lot of that. It reminds me a bit of Australia as well in terms of mentality. You know, very laid back. I have, I had a meeting with our landlord because we are renovating offices and things, and he doesn't see me on Wednesdays because he has to go play golf. And it's so refreshing actually because, you know, being used to Milan, for example, where everybody's busy. Or New York pretty much the same mentality, or London. Here it is, is a lot more refreshing in a way. So you, you wanna have amazing and say, oh, do we need to discuss, or do we need to sign things? Okay, do we need to sign things? You come to the office, we don't need to sign things and we just have to have, have a chat. Okay, let's meet at fiver thirty at the pub, order a couple of pints or more. And then, you know, you have a conversation. And that's, there's a lot of human side of things here, which again reminds me of places like Australia or the US many years ago. And it's quite nice actually. And if I compare it to Milan, I go to Milan quite often cuz we have one of the offices in the showrooms and all is in Milan. So I get to see the difference almost weekly. And in Milan, we are stressed. The atmosphere is always a little bit, I wouldn't say gloomy cuz it's not the right word. But it's always like, there's always an underlying tension. Underlying current, it is not really good vibes, and it's self-generated. And it is not someone telling you that you should be stressed, you should be underprivileged because you live. It's a self-inflicted pain. Yeah, absolutely. So there's, there's a certain degree of masochism in Italy that I don't understand really. Cause you know, the work life balance is possible. I mean, I work here in, in Dublin, my days are very full. I have calls, I have meetings, I have things, and I have to prepare budgets. So I have the same degree of stress that I would say that I have in Milan without the stress stressful part. So I get to do a lot more in a shorter time here. Versus what I do in in in Italy. But that's, that's also, I think it’s a bit of the difference between let's say the Anglo-Saxon world and the Mediterranean world. Where you have to talk and convince and meet in the Mediterranean world, whereas here it’s a lot more simple in a way. It's a lot more, I wouldn't say directional, but it's like, yeah, we need to do this. Okay, let's agree or let's agree to disagree, and then you just, yeah, do things. Stephen Matini: Maybe pragmatic? Sergio Azzolari: It’s, it's a lot more pragmatic. That's true. Stephen Matini: When people ask me the question, where's home, I never know how to answer. Sergio Azzolari: Yeah, we’re in the same club. Okay, well people say home is where your roots are. And that's not a question. Cause I was born in Italy just because of my mom's choice. So my parents at that time were were based in Trinidad, part of Spain, Trinidad, and Tobago. So knowing my mom, she must have gone to the local clinic, browsed around and said ... not here. So I was born in Como, which is kind of cool, but I never lived there. So, because when I was like a few weeks old, I was already on a plane back to Trinidad. So is home Como? Not really. Is it Trinidad then? I was conceived there but most likely no, because I've never returned after I left when I was two years old. So it's very, it's very difficult to really say where you're from. I elected to be from somewhere a few years ago. I never owned any house. My family never owned anything. Like, you know, whatever we owned was like long gone. And so we always rented. I mean, even my parents lived in Milan for a number of years and they rented. So years ago I decided to buy myself a property, a small cottage in the hills, not far from Milan. And that's what I call home now, it became sort of my hobby in a way. So I started building and doing things and, you know, designing. I designed the complete house, and designing complete furniture, designed the entire thing, even though I'm not a designer. So working with local artisans and all, and it's, it's like never ending, never ending projects. And that's what I call home. Am I from there? No. Do I speak the local dialect? No, I understand it, but I don't speak it. But as home and that's, you know, so people like us, I think at the end of the day we sort of elect where we are from. Cause if we just look backwards and say, okay, where my roots are, okay, they just go everywhere. And then you say, yeah, where were you born? Okay, that's inconsequential. Where are your friends? Pretty much all over the world. So it's, it's very difficult to pinpoint exactly where it's home. You know, when you see other people that, you know, they have their childhood friends and you know, they have the family, they have, you know, all the certainties around them, and you don't, in a way you be jealous. But then again, you're not ... say, okay, yeah, well I'm free for Christmas. Put it this way. Stephen Matini: In hindsight, were there any sign back then when you were a kid of the person you would become? Sergio Azzolari: Signs? I don't know. I mean, probably like ... Look, I always traveled, but I always wanted to travel. I always wanted to accomplish something. Everything that I did was always with a certain degree of commitment. Otherwise I wouldn't do it. So I wouldn't do something. I would not try everything if it's not my cup of tea, but just give up the same day. So I cannot play guitar. Biggest regret I cannot play music. And I said, okay, that's fine. I mean, I'm not good at it. I won't be good at it because, I mean, it's probably not in my DNA set to be a musician or anything. So just, but everything that I did was with a, with a full on commitment. So I played rugby for 32 seasons, and I played rugby internationally, I played rugby at the highest standards even before the professional year, or at the beginning of the professional year. And it became one of the first professionals. I started, and I graduated early because I wanted to get my PhD out of the way. And actually I started working even before getting my PhD. I wanted to be one of the first foreigners in China who could speak the language. And actually that kind of helped and that's what I did. So everything that I did was with a certain degree of commitment. Did it, did I, did I have the big picture in mind? No, not really. Like for instance, I'll just give you this example. Well, I, I studied economics and I studied Chinese. And I went to Beijing actually in 1989, it was Tiananmen when I was there. And so I was set up to be like probably an economist or working in that kind of environment. And actually I did my thesis on joint ventures in China, because back in the eighties, that was early nineties, that was the only way to do business in China. Joint ventures were local enterprises actually, or govern-owned enterprises. I started working for a legal firm you know, making contracts, or like studying them, the ways to do contracts for joint ventures. The idea that I would end up in fashion? Never. Right? But, so it happened that I was working for the Chinese Malaysian counterpart of what the joint base with Benetton would have been. And I was sitting on the other side of the table cuz I was with the Chinese side. And the Italian was just saying, Yeah, but you are Italian. I said, yeah. Why are you sitting there? Cause I work for them. And they said no, that's not acceptable. You can’t, you have to come and work for us. And a few weeks later I was folding jumpers in Taiwan and that's, that's how I ended up in fashion. So it's like, it's bizarre because you don't plan these things, so you have to sort of go with the flow. God knows if I refused, or maybe I would've done something completely different. I dunno. But did I set my life goal to be like a you know, a manager, or director, or a CEO in the fashion business? Not really. Did I like that? Yes, absolutely. That's why I commit myself. If I didn't like it, if it was some, a field that I wasn't particularly inspired by, I would've said, yeah thank you, but no thank you. But so it struck some chords, so to speak. And that's how, that's how I ended up in working for fashion. And then it was 30 years ago or thereabout. And I worked in fashion since, fashion and luxury since. So do I mean that's also what I say to my to my kids. One is 20, he’s studying oenology in Italy. He wants to work with wine, and it's a great opportunity because there's very few people who do that. And the other one is is here in Dublin with me and is, is studying in an international school. But I also chose a school that gives full a full vision of what he can do, right? And that’s what I'm telling them. Like, don't, don't put limits. Don't, don't think that what you do now is what you gonna do in ten years. If you do, you get, you're gonna get distracted, or you're gonna get absolutely, you know, disengaged. Like for instance, I wanted to be an archeologist when I was a kid. And still I'm a history buff, I always went to all sort of excavation areas around the world with my mom, or on my own when I was older. I slept in the great pyramid when I was 15 years old. So I've done a number of things that were like, you know, that's what I want to do. I studied classical in high school then. Then you know, reality settles down. Well, if you want to be an archeologist, either you are either very rich, or you have a lot of sponsors, or you gonna be like begging for food. I didn't want to beg for food. I said, ok, being big and everything. So I said, Well, maybe not. That's not a career that I could pursue. So I, again, at the end of the day, am I still interested in archeology? Big time. Am I still in history? Totally. Am I doing what I was setting my goals when I was 12, 13 years old? No, absolutely not. So it's, it's not mandatory that you have to follow your heart. Just follow your heart but always mix it with mind. Otherwise you end up doing something that you just regret. Stephen Matini: Were there any people who influenced your path? Sergio Azzolari: Yeah, I think, I think you know, my advantage has always been that it could relate to people and it could speak their language. I mean, it takes me like a few weeks and I speak the local language, right? So I speak six languages quite fluently. But, you know, I can, I can converse in other languages as well. So by doing that, obviously you, I mean if you break the language barrier, sometimes it helps and you start having conversations with which are a lot more meaningful. So obviously my parents were very influential because they gave, I mean. I was the only child, but they gave me complete freedom. So they said, you know, we have your back, but do whatever you like. My father was an engineer, he would've loved me to be an engineer, but hey, you do your your thing. I'll just criticize whatever choice you do you make. But, that was his prerogative. And my mom always had my back and she, she was more the humanist in the family. So she told me like, you know, to appreciate arts and, you know, study classics and all sort of things. So they were influential, but not influential you gotta do this, you gotta do that. So, and you know, and talking to different people, in different geographies, that also kind of helped. Because all of a sudden you realize like, why did I choose Chinese? I went to China for the second time, actually, the first time, I was only six years old. Second time was eighteen. And I, because of my far acquaintances and all, I had a special visa, all access kinda visa, and I traveled all around China for two months without speaking a single word of Chinese. And back then, talking about 1987, not many people would speak English, actually very few people. So it was kind of difficult. And then you realize, and you, you start adding one plus one and say, hey, if I understand economics, if I understand the business, I see this potential because it's a largely untapped market, and you get to speak the language, maybe it's an advantage. So by talking to people in China, around China, off China around the time, that gave me the influence at least to open up the China chapter of my life. See if I have to, to really list all the people that were influential in my life, I would put, you know, the number in the millions probably because every single person you talk to has a certain influence. So, that's again, that's where you have to have an open mind. So some people need mentors and tutors. I had great mentors. I, I had great tutors, and bad tutors, and bad mentor, or people that were my bosses. And, and there was more fear than respect in a way, but it was more their fear of me rather than the vice versa. Because a lot of people, especially in Italy, at the beginning of my career, not at the beginning of my career, my second job when I moved, when I, my third job when I moved to Italy, I was almost 30 and it was made a director in a company I was actually 29. My, I was the youngest director in the company by far. The second youngest was 12 years older than me, and he was called a kid. So you can imagine. And my immediate boss was, was not afraid of me, but it was kind of jealous of me because I could speak languages. I was talking to the President, the owner every day. Cause he wanted to pick my brain about things, and so on and so forth. So it was bypassing it by definition. It was like, it was, it was kind of jealous of my proximity to the sun, right? And that influenced me as well. So you might say, well that's that's, that's a bad chapter. No, quite contrary. I mean, it was very influential because I understood what it means to be, you know, what it means to try at least to be a good boss, that you have to nurture your people, and you have to raise their bar, because if you raise their bar, then your bar raises too. So rather than trying to keep them low, and that’s influenced a lot of my career because you know, you put that kind of spirit in everyday life. And if you have good people working with you or under you, I always say “with me”, never under, cause you have always colleagues, you never have subordinates. But when you have good colleagues and, you can be their mentor, you can be the one that shines the diamond, you know? And it's actually rewarding. So if you have someone who is really good, and you help them with their career, and you don't care about them being grateful, cause ultimately you don't have to care about that, but just, you know, it's more of a self-rewarding exercise than I just held them because they'll be grateful, and then they'll do something in return, right? That's the most wrong thing you could possibly think of. But you do that and it actually helps because them, and their career flourishes. They do great things, and you are proud, and you know, and that adds to your, and that influences other people. And at the end of the day, that's the great thing. So I try to influence people, as much as other people influence me. Stephen Matini: Based on what you say, you're really good at building good relationships. Sergio Azzolari: Well, I always tried, cause that's also ... probably a bad side of me is that ... there are two people. There's two kind of people in business. People who always to be confrontational, and people who always want to find a sort of win-win situation. I'm very much in the win-win situation area. Sometimes I, I know I should be more confrontational, but probably style, breed, whatever, you know, I always despise people who will talk over you, or speak loud, and, I don't, I mean shouting, shouting matches are not my style. So I prefer to go, and look for win-win situations, it helps on the other side, obviously some people think, or some people, some superiors, or whoever, want you to be more aggressive. I mean, it happened a number of times in my life in my professional life. They wanna be more aggressive. But aggressiveness is a different thing. Cause I played rugby, I can be very aggressive, but for a purpose, cuz you have to conquer the ball. And in business you cannot just go grab business out of someone else’s hands. So you have to work different kind of aggression in a way. More subtle, more ... sometimes more political, but more win-win. Cuz otherwise, you know, it doesn't work, really. So that’s always been one of my characteristics in a way. So I try not to be confrontational. I try to find a good way out. So I'm more of a negotiator than a director and say meaning like, I direct you to do things. But I think the outcome is, I mean, so far it's been quite good, so I can't complain, really. Stephen Matini: I work with a lot of organizations, a lot of people. What you just said, very often, is probably the hardest thing for people, which is organizational politics. One thing that I hear a lot is I'm just a number. I have a point of view, I have the experience, and the know-how. I know how to provide a solution, but they would not listen to me. And often times people experience this fear, what is it gonna happen if I really say what I want to say? And then if I don't say it, I end up feeling completely frustrated. Sergio Azzolari: Yeah, absolutely. Stephen Matini: So what would you say to people? Sergio Azzolari: I'm laughing because it sums up my first big step in my career. I was with Benetton. And that it was really early in my career as I said. Well, I was a newbie in the fashion world, only like four months before I was, you know, like a legal / economics sort of guru. When it came to contracts, I didn't know, I mean, I didn't know much about the business per se, but it was, you know, my logic was more on the, if you do this, that happens, and so on and so forth. So, it was more like a cause effect kind of thing, not really thinking business implications and all. And I was 23 years old, right? And it was the Chief Commercial Officer of Benetton visiting China, and my boss was there. I was sent to to meet, and another candidate for a joint venture. And I returned to the hotel late at night and I found a little note, back then it was like, no mobile phones or anything. So I just found a little note returning to hotel by the Chief Commercial Officer saying, “Call me up when when you return.” So I like, okay, fine. So I called them and they said, “Would you think? I said, “Well, these are really good, and they would be much better than those ...” So I give my, you know, like my SWOT analysis in ten minutes. So this what you should do. So like an advisor, I put down the phone, had a shower, and so on and so forth. Half an hour later, my boss, my immediate boss calls me, say I need to fire you because how dare you to speak. Without having your conversation bettered you should have around things past me. I said, Oh, okay, what did they do? So, apologies, but hey, I found the note. I was like very adamant. Following morning, I was like, okay, I, I got fired. Fine. At breakfast, these two gentlemen are already sitting. I arrived there just like out polite, sit together with them and the CCO says to my boss, “Okay, this guy is really a gem. I want you to double his salary and make him a director today.” So in other words, you are never a number. I mean you are a number as long as you want to be a number. Cause if you're always afraid and you never want to, you know, pull your head outta the sand, and and just think that things are granted, and because you work there, you should be considered because you're there every day. You should be considered because you are in the org chart, you should be considered. And all of a sudden, you know, new hires are put on top of you and so on and so forth, and you complain. And I see that the company like, but have you ever spoken up? If you don't agree on something, can you say, hey, yeah, okay, I'll do that because I'm paid to doing that, but I would do this instead. And that's what they tell people, you know? Yeah, you, you don't have to agree. You have to also agree to disagree sometimes. And it's fine, you know, and then fine. And, but that's, that's the direction. It's too late to take another decision. Find point taken. We've taken that into consideration. And then second time around, maybe we'll consult people, that person and that, but that self pity is is another big thing in corporate business. Oh, they never consider me, I never, I always buy, I'm always bypassed for promotion. Bullshit. Have you done something about it? Have you spoken to someone? No, just go and back home or to HR and complaining and you just wanting to pay your rise. And that's, that's another thing I probably am wrong because I never got reached. But still, I never worked for money, ever. Not one day in my life. I thought by my salary and all the pay rises that I got during the years were never asked for, in a way. People say, well, probably because you're you, you were well off when you started. Not really. No, quite a contrary. I mean, my parents had to work for a living and my father provided, and they gave me an education that they paid for and everything else. It's not something that it was everything given for free. There's no, there's never free lunch anyway. So, but again, I never worked for money. Yeah, there's always someone better and someone who pays more, and you can't be a mercenary, which is completely fine. I mean, it's your cup of tea, fine. Or you are always envious, you are always jealous. You always, you know, say, ah, I should make more. Look at the amount of hours I'm putting in. I'm only getting that much. And you just compare yourself to others and say, yeah, he's working less than I do, and he has my same salary, so my cost per hour is lower. That's wrong. You know, so you just work, just do your thing. And you know, I've been fortunate enough that rewards came and that's another piece of advice that I give to to my children, especially my son, you know, he is starting obviously his career, and I said, look, before you make a decision, you have to experience everything there is to know about wine. You go and be a waiter, you go and be a sommelier. You go and, and work without a salary. You go and don't even think to be paid. Whatever they give you, it is gas money, and it's fine. So don't think about how much you're gonna get today, but if you have a big experience, and you are respected, and you have the right relationships that you built naturally, not forcefully, then the rewards will come naturally. But again, if you work, oh, no, I have to make that much money now, you’re bound be there forever. Especially in Italy, you know, if you start at a certain level, the odds that you're staying at that level for like 20 years. And that's, that's another big thing, I think. Stephen Matini: Everything you say, If I had to summarize it with one word, it keeps coming to my mind, would be “courage”. Sergio Azzolari: Yeah. It takes courage and it takes, yeah, it takes ... I mean, everything you do takes courage. I mean, if you always want to be in the comfort zone and, you know, stay home, but even home, it's full of threats. I mean, these are the soap and in the bathtub you can, you know, can slip on it and bang your head. So there is, it takes courage to have a, you know the only non courageous thing to do is stay idle. Everything you do, and again, it's a matter of commitment. So you always have to think, if I do something and I'm committed, things will do, will go the proper way. Or not. Unpredictable, but at least you get out of your comfort zone and actually experience something new all the time. Obviously it's uncomfortable the moment any one of us does something that is not accustomed to do. There's always a degree of, I know I wouldn't say fear, but apprehension. Oh shit, what am I doing? Am I out of my death? Am I actually, it's funny because it takes courage, but you have to kind of, it's sort of a stage fright. You know, the first time I had, I had a speech in public, I didn't know I had to give a speech in public. I was invited to do this thing to talk about China. And I was, again, 20, must have been 25 or something. And so they invited me and, Oh yeah, sure, I’ll come, blah, blah, blah. And I get there and there are 3000 people attending. I didn't know, I, I thought it was just a one-on-one or like a small board run conversation. And at that time I said, well, it takes courage to go in front of people without any preparation or anything, but you take the bull by the horns and just do it. What can go wrong? I mean, do they crucify you, or do they, do they burn you at the stake? Probably, but you don't know yet, right? Everything you do in, in many circumstances, yeah, it takes a bit of courage. But if you, if you don't take, if you don't have that little bit of courage, even, you know, the courage of asking her out, or the courage of breaking up some, I mean, it's a lot more courageous. How many people do you know that are very unhappy with their lives, very unhappy with their wife, and the procrastinate the inevitable, and they never divorce? Because it takes courage. Stephen Matini: You have no idea how long I thought before asking you to be part of the podcast. What is he gonna think, you know? I'm so glad I did, but I thought it for a long time. Oh, no, he is never gonna agree to do this. Sergio Azzolari: Whenever I can, I know I I like to have conversations. I like to and I don't mean to say, or I don't even mean to be someone to look up to or someone, I'm just a guy who's had, who's having, still having a very interesting life, which is Confucian-Chinese, ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times”, that's a curse. So I'm cursed in that. If you do things and life is interesting, it's a threat. I'm blessed that I'm cursed, you can find time for everything. That's another life lesson that I've learned. It's very hard that I say I don't have time. I don't have time, maybe today, tomorrow, the after the month in a year. But I will always carve out some time to do something meaningful, anything that is maybe not a long time. So if you ask me, can you spare an entire day I’d say ... shit. Okay, look, let me look at the calendar, probably in two years. Can you spare an hour? Yeah. This will mean that I'll need to work longer hours today. Yeah, it's fine. But what's the deal? You just organize yourself differently and then you get an hour later because of things that happened before. Again, that’s another thing. You know, pity party, pity party over, I don't have time. No, no, you make time. You decide. It's, it's only up to you. Stephen Matini: When you're going through a rough spot. How do you summon the courage to move on? Sergio Azzolari: I always reflect on the outcomes of things, right? So probably one of the things that I've learned especially my first experiences, was always to weigh consequences. So the what if scenarios, right? And that's where some courage is. Well, okay, there's a risk-benefit ratio in everything. And if the risk is worth taking, then courage comes naturally. I wouldn't stand on the top of a building and roll on the ball of my feet because I know the risks and there are no rewards basically. So, I mean, the reward is not to fall off. So that's stupid. That's not courage. That's, you know, that's a different thing. But in a, in everything that you do, just think, you know, just sit down, think past. Cause if you think too long, that other other things come in, into, into place and come into the picture. So don't think too long. First thing is think, but don't think too long. Think about the risks things, think about the benefits. Think about if, if it that doesn't work, what happens? It's more than a risk. It's actually what happens in broader terms to yourself, through your business, through your immediate people. And so, so of course, so think of the chain of consequences that you set in motion, if this works or if this doesn't work, but be fast in thinking. And that's what I do. Like, I, I think fast. I try to think fast and I regret later. So there's always time for regretting anyway. In a way, you have to sort of combine your gut and your brain, and with a bit of heart, and then you take decisions, and that's where sum the courage, really. So it's always a calculated courage in a way. It’s always with a pinch of salt in. Stephen Matini: And my wish for you is to be cursed for eternity. Sergio Azzolari: Thank you. In a way it means that there's never rest. I actually, you know, my wife always teases me because when I'm resting, when I'm doing something, I cannot just stay idle and watch TV. I have to do another three or four things at the same time. Can you just stay quiet? No, it’s a curse ... If you have any questions about the content of this episode, you can contact me via email, LinkedIn or Twitter. Please check the episode's notes for information. If you enjoy this content, please subscribe to the Pity Party Over podcast available on Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and many podcast platforms and apps. I invite you to browse our managerial and leadership development programs at alygn.company. ALYGN is spelled A. L. Y. G. N. dot company. Be happy, be well, and until we connect again, thank you for listening.
Thursday Oct 27, 2022
Thursday Oct 27, 2022
The word resilience pops up everywhere these days. It has become a catchy term often abused and misused to indicate the importance of being flexible, stern, and adaptable. My guest today is Dr. Linda Hoopes, which I affectionately refer to as the Goddess of Resilience. Linda represents one of the most influential voices for researching resilience and helping people become resilient. For Linda, “Resilience is the ability to deal with high levels of challenge while maintaining a high level of effectiveness and well-being.” Linda believes everyone has the seeds of resilience and that learning to weather life’s storms with grace and skill is crucial. Linda spent 25+ years in business psychology and organizational change, and then she gravitated toward resilience as the focus of her professional work. Linda has a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology with a minor in Statistics/Psychometrics. SUBSCRIBE TO PITY PARTY OVER Listen to the episode on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Castbox, Castro, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Player FM, Pocket Cast, Pod Bay, Podbean App, Podchaser, Postcast Addict, Spotify, Sticher, TuneIn. Connect with Dr. Linda Hoopes on LinkedIn Resilience Alliance Prosilience Connect with Stephen Matini via email Connect with Stephen Matini on Twitter Connect with Stephen Matini on LinkedIn Brought to you by ALYGN Organizational Consulting TRANSCRIPT Welcome to Pity Party Over, the podcast for people teams and organizations seeking practical ideas for results in greater happiness. I'm your host, Stephen Matini. Let's pause, learn and move on. Pity Party Over is brought to you by ALYGN, A L Y G N.company. Hi everyone, I’m Stephen, and welcome to Pity Party Over. The word resilience pops up just about everywhere these days. It has become a catchy term often abused and misused to indicate the importance of being flexible, stern, adaptable, and all sorts of things. My guest today is Dr. Linda Hoopes which I affectionately refer to as the “Goddess of Resilience.” Linda represents one of the most influential voices for researching resilience and helping people become resilient. For Linda, resilience is the ability to deal with high levels of challenge while maintaining a high level of effectiveness and well-being. Linda believes everyone has the seeds of resilience, and learning to weather life's storms with grace and skill is crucial. Linda spent 25+ years in business psychology and organizational change and then she gravitated toward resilience as the focus of her professional work. Linda has a Ph.D. in industrial organizational psychology with a minor in statistics and psychometrics. Please welcome to Pity Party Over Linda Hoopes. Stephen Matini: I was thinking, you are the goddess of resilience. You know to me you are you represent such an important figure. And so I was wondering, as you think about your life, were there any specific people you looked up to? You know, specific events in your life that somehow have contributed more than others, to shape who you are today? Linda Hoopes: Gosh, that's a great question. So I would say I'd have to start way back. I grew up in a family where I had some good role models for resilience and also so my dad was a logistics engineer, and my mother was a musician. My mother is still alive. And so I got this sort of whole right brain left brain really curious about the world, you know, applied things. So I got into applied psychology as a field because, you know, business world and also human beings and so ... then going to grad school in industrial and organizational psychology exposed me to a lot of the quantitative and qualitative ways that we understand humans in the world. And then I went to work for a consulting firm that did work in organizational change. So Daryl Conner, who is one of the early thought leaders in the change management space has been one of my mentors for a long time and in fact he was writing his book called “Managing the speed of change,” which had resilience at the center of it. And so a lot of my work was stimulated by that environment and thinking about how humans go through change. And then over time I've come to broaden my interests outside of organizations and change and think about all of the different kinds of challenges that we face. So that's kind of the short version of the story. Stephen Matini: Was there any specific moment that you understood? Oh this is my talent, this is my thing. Linda Hoopes: I can't think of one moment, but I can think of making the decision to leave the consulting firm world and then take this piece of work that I've done and start my own company and then write the second book and the “Prosilience” book. And so it's sort of become clearer over time that this is a unique thing that I have to say and that I have some perspectives on it. That might be valuable to people. Stephen Matini: In my conversations with clients. I often hear people wondering what their lives would be like if they had their own business. Is there anything that helped you make the jump? Linda Hoopes: Probably two things. One was midlife crisis. Somewhere along there I went to massage school and decided okay, you know like I just need to pursue this thing. Uh and then the other thing was actually the situation around me. The company I was in was changing their business model and becoming less of their business model before was more of a training and transfer models for teaching other people to do things. And they were moving more towards a traditional consulting firm model where they would have teams of people come in and I'm much more of a teacher. I'm much more of, I want to teach you how to do it. That spider plant in the background is my metaphor for what I do. You know? It's like we plant plants out there and then they grow new plants. And so I really just not cut out to be a road warrior consultant who goes and you know since at a client site for four days a week, for months on end, that's just not me. And so as they were moving there, it became clear that I was I needed to shift something. So so that's what happened. Stephen Matini: You also were an adjunct professor? Linda Hoopes: I was an actual professor before I got into consulting. I taught at several universities and in psychology and business, in statistics research methods. And and so I did that and then at some point I went to work as the research director for this consulting firm and that's sort of how all of this got started. Well after that I became sort of I did the adjunct thing too because that world is is fun. You know, it's fun to be in an environment where people actively want to learn. So I was in a an organization development program teaching uh master students in as an adjunct professor. And yeah, it's it's really fun, isn't it? What do you teach? Stephen Matini: I teach Organizational Communication at N.Y.U. here in Florence. This is a main course for our business students. I belong to Stern School of Business and I had this fabulous group of professors that teach the same course all over the world. So we get together, there's a lot of exchange of information, and the specific slant we give to the course is very organizational development. I’ve been teaching the course for over 10 years and it's been great working with students, most of my students, are 20 years old, you know, so this is the their second year, Linda Hoopes: Yeah, you know, every now and then I'll have a student come to me, a graduate student, usually in a master's program or a doctoral program wanting to know if they can use the resilience tool that we have and so on in the research. And I always try to find a way to say yes, because I like to encourage that way and we learn things that way. I don't have the wherewithal to do a lot of direct research myself right now, but I love participating in studies that other people are doing and contributing my thinking too, that it’s, it's and working with the students that are finding their way through that I agree. Stephen Matini: A fun fact about you that I learned from the Prosilience website (https://prosilience.com), your website, is about the fact that you like to simplify complex things. So I thought it was really neat. How do you do that? Linda Hoopes: So there's a quote that I really like that is from justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, the US justice, that it talks about the simplicity on this side of complexity and the simplicity on the other side of complexity. So, and he talks about how he would give his life for the second one? The first one is not worth much. And so there's like stupid simplicity and then there's the simplicity that requires really working through complexity, and that requires just sort of sitting with it, understanding it, living with it going off on tangents, getting the big picture in mind and then you figure out how do I boil this down into its essence, into the things that are most critical for people to understand. And I really love that, you know, I really love um figure, I mean I really do think of it as distilling as thinking about like how can what is the simplest way to express this that captures the power of it that has elegance to it. And you know, you living in Florence all the art that's around you, does a lot of that, you know, really good artists do that with human forms with buildings and all of that. I like doing it with ideas. Stephen Matini: Well, complexity is a huge topic with all my clients. One of the struggles that people go through is the fact that there's so much information and very often is difficult to understand in this jungle of information, which one which piece of information comes first, which one is more relevant, which one is not as relevant. So I like the way you said that you distill. Is there anything specific you do to distill information or is more of a natural ability you've always had? Linda Hoopes: Well, I can give you an analogy, I'm also a musician and um and one of the things I love is Irish music and so I play several instruments and so I, but in the summertime I go to this summer music camp and there is a beautiful fingerstyle guitar player named Robin Bullock and he teaches a class. And one of the things he teaches is about how you learn a song by ear and he talks about finding the corners of the tune. So like a lot of Irish tunes, the notes are, there's a lot of fluidity around the ornamentation of it, but just listening to what are the sort of the core things that sort of make the shape of the tune, and then you fill in the bones from there and then you fill in all the stuff around that. And I think that's kind of what I try to do with ideas, is like, what are the corners? Like I write down the four or five things and then I figure out sort of how do you embellish it around that? How do you embellish it around that? And some of it comes from making outlines, you know. I remember once upon a time in school we had to make outlines of things, you know, what are the key points and then what are the supporting points? And just even thinking that way is a really helpful process. So I think I just kind of do that with ideas. Stephen Matini: One topic that comes up a lot is the notion of boundaries in the workplace. People oftentimes find themselves in this weird predicament between basically two opposite needs. On one hand, they feel like being a pressure cooker if they do not set healthy boundaries, and then on the other hand, they feel fearful of what might happen to them if they say no to people. So, what has been your experience in with setting boundaries and to help out clients with boundaries? Linda Hoopes: Well, first of all, as you know, priorities is one of the resilience muscles that I talk about, and this idea that resilience is about energy. And so if we're not setting boundaries, then our energy might be going all over the place. And so so so it has a role in helping us focus our energy. I think my experience is that we are always saying no two things. It's just a question of whether it's conscious. Everything that you say yes to, is no to something else. You know, every time I choose to be home with my husband, I'm choosing not to go out and play music. Every time I choose to go on a trip, I'm choosing not to be home. And so if you don't set boundaries, then you're letting other people decide what you're saying yes and no to, and so I think some of it is just really um you have to start to learn what does yes feel like inside me and and and recognize the cost of not honoring that yes, because you're saying yes to all the other things. And so to me, it really becomes doing that work of figuring out what's most important to you and then practicing in small ways. I mean this is not like setting a big boundary first, right? You just practice them. There's a no muscle that you use. And so you practice the no muscle in little teeny ways. Um and and polite ways. You know, this is not about being rude either, it's about, well, you know, let me get back to you on that. Buy yourself a little bit of time, think about it and then come back to it. But it's a it's a self-respect thing and I've also found that people respect you when you respect yourself. So if you find ways to set a boundary, you're actually increasing people's esteem for you because they can see that you value and honor yourself and that you're that you see your time is precious that you see yourself as a worthwhile resource. And so I think it's it's really I would ask the question what happens when you don't set boundaries, then people feel like they can take advantage of you walk all over you. They, you know, you can't they can't respect you anymore than you respect yourself. So that's that's sort of where I would go with that. Stephen Matini: Probably what is behind all of that is fear. Typical questions that I hear from people are, what is it going to happen to me if I say no to my partner, to my family, to my boss. There is often a big fear behind that. You know, what I find brilliant about your approach is working with expectations. Sometimes I may need to change how I view issues. Other times I may need to accept them or use different actions. Often times all of us, you know, we wait and wait and wait and analyze the same situation a million times. We may have the impression of moving forward, but what we are simply doing is just to have a greater understanding of the dynamics without any traction. So really nothing improves. So my question to you is, how do you choose the right strategic combination of changing expectations, accepting what is, and putting in place some actions to finally move forward? Linda Hoopes: So as you know, that's that's one of the building blocks is what are the strategies that I choose? When do I take something on, when do I accept and so on? This has been a problem for people for as long as there have been people right, you know, and I went back, so you are you familiar with the “Serenity Prayer”? I went back and looked at the original version of that. So the serenity prayer was authored by an American theologian named Reinhold Niebuhr. And it’s, it's been useful in 12-step programs, alcoholics, anonymous and other kinds of things. But the original wording goes like, this father give us courage to change what must be altered serenity to accept what cannot be helped and the insight to know the one from the other. And he wrote that back in the 1930s. And so you know, for as long as there have been human beings, we've been struggling with this issue of what can I control, what can I control? How do I get up, how do I stand up for the things that I need to stand up for. And I think it comes back again to the thing we were talking about before, which is having that clear compass inside you knowing what's important. I remember a situation where my brother and I were facing a common challenge and his, his impulse was to try to fix it. And my impulse was to try to just work around it and figure out how to how do we deal with this just being the way it is and neither one of us was right or wrong. It's just, it's just different choices about how we spend our energy. I think the self-awareness to say. I'm saying I'm saying to too many things, it's okay, just the way it is, like I'm not standing up enough, this one kind of self-awareness and then there's the, I'm banging my head against the wall and trying to fix things that I have no control over is another kind of self-awareness. So I don’t, there's not one right answer, but being aware that there are multiple strategies and that we need to choose our battles and that were possible. We need to reframe things as uh to find ways to see them as hopeful as full of opportunity rather than as problems. You know, all of those things are our ingredients in the mix. How do you do it? Stephen Matini: Ah! Well, I'm not someone who likes that much arguing, I don't like to get into conflicts, like probably a lot of people and I had to learn how to set boundaries because I felt that my life was all over the place in terms of interpersonal relationships. And so years ago it was a professor, his name is Enrico Cheli, he's a professor at the University of Siena in Italy. He's a psychologist and sociologist who taught me how to do it how to set boundaries and the importance of say no, but to answer your question, I believe that you set boundaries because it boils down to the person you want to be and the life you want to have and I agree with you, there's no correct or wrong answer, let alone giving people advice on what they should be doing or living. But I can definitely say that the moment that I began setting boundaries, my relationships after a while improved, they simplified, they became much simpler, essentially more functional. So I truly believe it boils down to a choice. Is this something that I want to be part of my life? Is this an experience I want to give to myself? Is this how I want people to treat me? Is this how I want to treat people at the end of all? It's all about happiness and people's happiness, those are really paramount to me. Linda Hoopes: You know, there's another, I'm gonna take this off on a little bit of a tangent. But one of the things I've been talking to people about lately, I don't know if you're familiar with the model that I have in the “Prosilience” book that's called the challenge map that talks about all the different kinds of challenges that we face. There's the challenges that we choose the things that we step up and decide to do in the world. There are the challenges that just happen. You know, the weather, I just, my family is down in Florida and we just had hurricane Ian that came through there and you know, all of that, that stuff happens. And then there are the challenges that come from people in the world who are seeking to harm us, you know? If you live in Ukraine, right, there's there's people in the world that are out to take your country over well. So one of the things that I talk to people about is that the benefits of the resilience work are that if you can use less energy on all the challenges that come from out inside of you. You have more energy available to do the things that are particularly meaningful for you to choose those challenges that you want to step up to in the world and the world needs that, right? You know? And so the more resilient we can be and use our energy effectively, and as you say, say yes and no to things um that come at us, then we have we can be more choice more intentional about where we put our energy into the things that really matter. Stephen Matini: At the beginning of this year, I've done some reframing as you taught me to do, there were some professional relationships that somehow I found really aggravating after many, many years of trying to make them more productive, and truly not seeing anything changing. And so at some point I really felt frustrated, and I got tired of feeling that way and I said to myself, I don't want to feel this way about anyone. And so what I did, I made the deliberate effort to appreciate what worked. So feeling grateful rather than obsessing about what the relationship was never going to be, and then I thought, well, I need to seek elsewhere different dynamics that could be more representative. So that was the choice. And it did the trick because what it did, it freed a lot of energy which was consumed in frustration and I invested it in other activities, which definitely were more productive. Like, you know, this podcast Linda Hoopes: Absolutely freeing up your energy and I have found to that decluttering things, you know, just taking the time to just we'd the things out of my life that I don't need, whether it's stuff or people or whatever. It opens up space for new things to come in and it's beautiful. Stephen Matini. I noticed from your LinkedIn profile, which are also an appreciative increase practitioner. I love appreciative inquiry, it's one of the tools that I use the most with clients. And over the years I met many appreciative inquiry practitioners whose approach focuses on strength as it should be, and positivity, On the other hand, I believe that there is space for feeling bad sometimes about yourself. It is about positivity is about focusing on strength, but I strongly believe that if I want to move on, there's a space for everything in your opinion, is there anything positive about having a pity party? Linda Hoopes: Oh my goodness, that's a great question. So, um so, I actually, in preparation for this, I had to look up, sort of the whole pity party thing just to make sure that I was understanding what this is about, and you know, this gets into the whole zone of of what some people are called toxic positivity, you know, sort of this idea that oh, it's all supposed to be happy. I've never seen positivity that way to me, positivity is really recognizing that I have a choice to pay attention to the things that are going well and right without denying or dismissing the bigger picture, but that I choose to focus my energy on the things that are healthy, healthy and that I want more of, rather than focusing my attention on the things that are that are sick. And that's that's kind of the whole thrust behind the positive psychology movement. It's thinking about what is health look like, what is flourishing look like? Uh you know, and how do we get more of that? And so, um and so part for me. So there's this other resilience muscle that's that we label creativity that is really about polarities, it's about both, and it's about recognizing that there's many ways to view a situation that there's many layers to things, and I think that's that's a muscle that's really useful here too, because I think we need to recognize that the world can be both terrific and awful at the same time. That there can be beauty, and there can be sadness, and that there can be all these many things that are going on. And I think acknowledging that letting ourselves move through those feelings that we feel, not saying, oh I'm not supposed to feel that way. I mean I grew up thinking I wasn't ever supposed to be angry and then at some point as an adult I realized no anger is a gift. It it helps me see where I need to set a boundary. And so being able to sort of recognize those emotions and let them move through us without taking us over is a is a really powerful skill. And so I would say bring on the pity party if that's what you need to do, right? You know, if if you need to just sort of um let yourself spin for a while, but the idea of a party is great because it has a beginning and an end, right? So this is not the pity life, this is not getting in the emotional spin and get and staying stuck, it's about saying, okay, I feel like crap right now, I'm gonna, I'm just gonna let myself feel that way for a while and you know, eat the extra ice cream and you know, do whatever I need to do. Um but I would say a couple of things about pity parties, one is if possible, make sure it includes some dancing because getting, you know, getting up and like putting on some music and moving around while you're having a pity party, even if it involves, you know punching things. Um and the other thing is like don't invite the whole world, you know if you need to have one or two people at the pity party with you but you don't need to inflict that like negative emotions are super contagious. And so um and so just be careful about you know sort of who you're inviting to the party. But you know I think pity parties are a great tool for resilience because you know we like we have to acknowledge that sometimes stuff just is terrible. Stephen Matini: This past two and a half years have been very challenging for everyone. Is there any specific resilience muscle somehow that in your opinion takes the front seat during these difficult times? Linda Hoopes: So I would say that one of them is connection. So this idea that resilience is a team sport, we don't have to do it alone. And I think um one of the things that's been very difficult with all of the covid stuff and everything that's going on is the isolation. Humans are ... so so one of the you know the first building block of resilience is around calming is around being able to bring ourselves to a calm place. So one label that psychologists use for that is self-regulation, visibility to regulate ourselves, but we also co-regulate humans co-regulate, we see each other's faces the expressions, and the masks hide that it's hard to read people's expressions and so finding ways to be together with people to connect with people. We've gotten so clever about using Zoom to talk to people halfway around the world. But resilience, we draw other people have physical, mental, emotional spiritual energy that we can draw on. And so recognizing the communities that were part of, nourishing them is a tremendously important muscle. And then the other thing I would say is one of the ones we've already talked about, which is priorities. Which is this idea that being um choosy about what you do. I mean I can only sit on so many meetings a day, right? And I know like I had a woman come to my office yesterday for a meeting even though she doesn’t, she lives a ways away. Like it took her a little time to to drive, but she's just tired of zoom meetings and she decided it would be better to meet in person and it was, it was great. I would say priorities and connection are super important at this time. Not to say that they're not all important. Stephen Matini: Priority is a critical factor. That seems to be an issue with many professionals. Managing time and stress gets challenging even for seasoned professionals. They all struggle to understand what comes first, second ... would you have any tips for them? Linda Hoopes: So that actually brings in an additional muscle, which is the muscle of structure and that's the muscle that is about estimating and planning and getting into the details and figuring out, you know, what needs to come first, what needs to come next. And that muscle is about efficiency, it's about not wasting your energy on the things that are predictable. And um you know, I think that sometimes just taking a few minutes to think to sit down and think about what's most important, you know, whether it's a journaling practice or reflective practice or just taking five minutes at the beginning of each day to think what's most important for me to be doing right now. The other thing that I would, the other thing that brings up for me is the is the impact that leaders have on the people around them and the way the culture can either support or not support resilience. So that's that's an area I'm doing some thinking about right now. There are some organizations, have you ever been on an airplane where you were stuck in a middle seat? You know, and you just can't move for anything right? There are some organizations that are like that with your resilience muscles. You can't move, you can’t, you can't say no to things, you can't take risks. You can't like all of these things that we try to do to be creative to come up with ideas to, you know to say no to things to prioritize and when leaders set a bad example or when the culture doesn't reinforce that, like think about the experimenting muscle which is really about curiosity and trying things and taking risks. There are some cultures that just beat that out of people, you know because you have to be right 100% of the time and you can't afford to fail. And so so I think that leaders have a huge impact on the positivity, the confidence that people have really all of that and with priorities being a great example because if a leader doesn't set clear priorities then it's not okay for the people that report to them to come back and try to set boundaries and say, hey boss, you know, you just gave me the ten thing to do. Tell me which three I should do. Stephen Matini: Well what you just pointed out is politics, and I have to say that it is probably the one component that people struggle with the most. So often I see people struggling with the nuances of politics, they do not fully comprehend the levers of power surrounding them. I observe great ideas that slam against cement walls, you know like you cannot do this, you cannot do that. So I was wondering in your studies, have you ever researched how resilience applies to politics within organizations. Linda Hoopes: Yes. And what I will say is that um those are specific kinds of challenges, those are dealing with relationships and sort of and also how the confidence that I have in my own abilities and the circumstances that I'm in. So when I do some coaching with people around resilience, it often gets very specific around dealing with a boss who doesn't value me or whatever, and so then you sort of have to go through and say, where's my energy going? What muscles am I using? How am I working through this? I would say that in my own experience, confidence is the muscle that's really important there knowing I'm gonna be okay because I think in my, when I've seen people who have dealt with all of that effectively, what they've been able to do is to get to a place where they're okay if they leave, so they're not afraid of getting fired. I that that happened to me some years ago when I was in a situation that I wasn't particularly happy about, I just came to a point where I decided, you know, I'm gonna just say what I need to say and if it means that I'm gonna have to make a choice, like it wasn't about, I'm out of here, it wasn't at all, it was like if that's what happens, I'll be okay with it, you know, I know that I can survive this, I know this is a challenge that I could take on, I'm not, I'm not looking for it, I'm not seeking it out, but it gives me the courage to say what I need to say. And, and so, and so as as a strategy for, as a resilient strategy, recognizing that I'm a person that brings value, that I that there's a lot that I can do, that I've dealt with challenges before that, you know, the challenge of looking for something that's a better fit for me is a challenge I can take on. And so there are some people who are using the resilience work in career um development, so in career planning and, and just thinking about, you know, how do I step up to the next level? How do I stretch myself in a job that I'm not big enough for? Um or that that's that's not big enough for me and you know, like how do I decide the next thing? How do I deal with this coworker? All of this are the, you know, these are the challenges that we face every day that that call on our resilience and our energy. So 100%. Stephen Matini: A big chunk of your work is about energy, which I personally love and few people talk about it in the business world. Often times is seen as something that doesn't quite fit. So I have been practicing mindfulness since I was 18 and I sometimes use mindfulness in my, in my work, what is your favorite way to calm yourself, to center yourself? Linda Hoopes: For me, so I also raced sailboats. So getting out on the water in a boat is, you know, so breathing is the obvious one and you can do that anywhere. But for me, getting out of nature, whether it's a walk or getting out on the water is one of the centering kinds of things that I like to do. And sometimes it's getting a hug or listening to music, but there's a lot, you know, there's a lot of tools we can use. And I think as you say, um, what a mindfulness practice does is it gives you sort of the experience in bringing yourself back, returning yourself to that place of feeling grounded and centered and, and, and that’s, that's very powerful. Stephen Matini; You know, you're the second person this week that, that tells me about sailing, so maybe that's a hint. I've never done it. Linda Hoopes: Come on over, I'll take you sailing. Well, there’s, so there’s, there's a place I'll go. So one of the things that you just said brought up something I learned in massage school. So, um, and, and so they, they always talked about, um, don't work on clients who drain your energy, you know? And so, so how that's translated to me in, in the non massage world is spend time with people who nourish me. So there are people who nourish you in various different ways, whether it's mental. You know, you have fun just with the ideas with them or emotionally or spiritually or, or even physically people that you just feel physically good around and you do activities with. And so I really try to be attuned to what is happening with my energy when I'm with this person, if it feels drained, like if I start to feel an energy drain when I'm around somebody, I really intentionally try to make sure that I spend less time with that because I don't have any time in my life for people who aren't nourishing me in some way. And I try to be that sort of a source for others as well. Stephen Matini: It is a matter of choosing those situations and people we want to be part of our life. So these days I hear people often saying they don't have time to do this. I don't have time to do that in your opinion. How can we find the time? Linda Hoopes: I don't think you do. I think what you do is you reframe, you reframe the world as your resilience gym. You know, when you're in traffic and somebody cuts you off, you say, oh resilience practice. So you don't look for time to do separate things. You just find every day in every moment a chance to do things that lift your energy that lift the energy of the people around you. Um, I've started focusing more on this idea of how our energy spirals and so, you know, often times mental health issues can result from a series of symptoms that just get into a spiral that feed each other. And so resilience is about breaking those patterns. It's about seeing things in a different way. It's about taking that moment to pause and have a different reaction. And so, um so I've really gotten um focused on this idea of micro challenges that the little challenges, you know, you're on the phone and the customer service representative is really crabby. So your job now is to see if you can make them laugh right. Um or you know, you just sort of start to see resilience challenges and opportunities for development every place. And those are the things that start to rewire your brain. And so uh so, you know, I think it really is a different mindset around it. It's not how can I go find time for a meditation practice? Although I will tell you that my meditation practice when I do it is about six minutes long. I have a timer, you know, it's like, I don't have 30 minutes to go do it. But um but you know, you just, you just do do little micro bursts, just little things that are in the moment that that enable you to become more aware of how how your resilience in your way through the world. I see resilience as a verb anymore. You know, these days I see it as a verb, it's the motions that we go through as we deal with the challenges in life. And so you're always resilience sing. You're always dealing with large and small challenges. You're choosing challenges, you're doing that. And so so some of it's just bringing that mindset to it and just seeing it all as practice because every now and then the final exam comes, you know, every now and then the hurricane does knock your house down, um, or a loved one dies or something like that. And and you really have to deal with all of that. But the more you practice, the more you built those muscles, the more you built that capability, the more you have to draw on when, when the big test comes. Stephen Matini: Linda, have you always been resident? Linda Hoopes: No, there are days when I'm not resilient at all! But I, I often, you know, I'm always able to see that it'll come back like on the days when the tide washes out and I'm just feeling drained and crabby and blah. You know, I recognize that the title come in, you know, that this too shall pass and you know, whatever it is. And so I'm sort of a little bit more able than I used to be to recognize that, you know, there’s, there's an ebb and flow to it all. And um, and there, there, I mean there are times in my life I've been, what we say in the southern us here. I've been a hot mess, you know, like I've just just done stupid things and made bad judgments and all of that but you know it's all part of the road that's gotten me here and so yeah, no I'm not always resilient now even though I've been teaching about it for so long. Stephen Matini: What’s gonna be next for Linda? Linda Hoopes: Well, so some of the stuff that I talked about leaders, about the role of leaders in creating an environment that supports resilience. I'm actually working on a blog post right now. That's about the fact that um some environments are more challenging than others because of the physical environment or because of the history that we bring or because of the level of psychological safety or you know there's there's all these contextual factors that make it easier or harder for people to um to bring their resilience to the table. And so I'm really kind of interested in that because I think it speaks to issues of um power and influence and justice and all of that there, you know there are people for whom walking through the world every day has an extra layer of challenge in it because they're disabled or because they carry a stigma of some kind or because they are in a minority in the group that they're in or whatever it is, you know and I think we need to figure out like how to we both equipped people internally to bring their best resilience to the table and to resilience their way through and also create environments for people that that let them flex those muscles that let them bring their best energy to the world and give them the opportunity to build and replenish that energy when they need it. So that's one thing I'm working on. Another thing that I'm working on is I am um I have a project going. I have my great grandmother's journals that she wrote starting in 1927 in rural Iowa. And she wrote all the way through to like 1955 just before she died. So they went through the depression, they lost their business, their farm, all of that. They went through World War II and she wrote every day of the world. And so I'm working on having those journals transcribed and publishing them in a weekly installment with comments and things. And so I'm learning so much about history and about the resilience challenges that people have faced throughout, you know, my family's history and other people's history and so so that's another thing that I'm working on is figuring out how those stories get told. My um my great aunt um taught school in Iran and in Thailand um and so she left Iran before about the time that the that the Shah fell and the and the current administration took over. But they went and traveled. They, you know like that part of the world will never will never be the same and will never see it again in that way, I'll never be able to go over there and experience some of the things that she experienced and so there's part of that like there's this set of so stories that I want to tell that that are there related to resilience in a way? Um that's not, that's not why I'm doing them, but ut there is this relationship to recognizing that history comes and goes and stories, you know, people have faced different things in different times and that there are ways to find light and hope and possibility and curiosity in so many ways Stephen Matini: Linda, this is wonderful. Are there any questions I did not ask you that you wish I did? Linda Hoopes: One of the questions that you wrote down for me was this question about how do we replenish our energy? You know, when our energy is feeling drained, how do we replenish our energy? And one of the things that has become clearer for me is that um the question is not always about how do I do less? Like how do you like if I'm feeling spread then drained whatever oftentimes our first impulse is to stop doing things, you know, is to do less is to take things off the table and conserve our energy. I actually find so the metaphor I've been using for that is, here's my phone, if this phone, the battery is drained on this phone, I can't possibly turn off enough apps to recharge it, you know, what I actually have to do is plug it in. And so the question that is as human beings, what is plugging in, look like for us, you know, what is it that is a power source? Like what, what does that for us? And sometimes it's really just a posture like, like for people in the military standing at attention, you know, or if you’re, you know, if you're a yoga practitioner doing some sort of opposed that causes you to stand strong and firm, a tree or a warrior or something like that. You know, sometimes we recharge our batteries by doing things that engage us in the world, you know, and so so so thinking about what is your power source, you know, for you? Um it might be your meditation for me, it might be my sailing. Um, but recognizing those things that feed us that feed our energy and not sort of succumbing to the temptation to get into a spiral where we're doing less and less because that is not necessarily going to recharge us. So I have this wonderful group, global group of resilience practitioners that have been through the training that I do and we do, we do calls every quarter to get together when the, when the pandemic started, We met every week because we just needed to support each other and then it sort of stretched out now we're doing them quarterly. But on one of our calls, we did a dis discussion about what do you do to recharge. And so I captured some of that, you know, you we were talking about elegance and structure. I sort of captured that into a set of things for some people. It's work for some people. The work that they do is energizing enough that engaging in and that's true for me to to a certain extent I can't ever imagine retiring because I like what I do and so it and it nourishes me but for some people it's just watching stupid movies on TV and laughing out loud you know, and so there's there's you know, there's just different ways that we do that and nature is a big one for people. So yeah, so knowing what your replenishment strategies are is a is a good thing too, good thing to work on. Stephen Matini: Linda thank you so much for spending time with me, I'm so appreciative. So happy to meet you finally and thank you for all these important bits and pieces. Thank you. Linda Hoopes: It's been my pleasure. It's great to meet you and thank you so much for inviting me. Stephen Matini: Thank you for listening to this episode of Pity Party Over. In the episode Linda covers a lot of aspects pertaining resilience. She points out that resilience is a verb, and by that she means that resilience training is something that has to occur every single day around small tasks, so that we can be prepared to face significant life-changing events. For Linda resilience is a series of muscles that entails seeing possibilities, recognizing our capabilities, understanding what's essential, thinking creatively developing connections, structuring activities, and being willing to experiment. Sometimes we can reframe a challenge by changing our expectations. Sometimes we can change it through specific actions, and other times we can accept that we cannot control anything. Developing resilience entails becoming mindful that our energy needs to be managed, from the people we welcome in our life to the tasks that consume our time. We are always saying no to people and things. It's just a question or whether it's conscious. If you have any questions about the content of this episode, you can contact me via email, LinkedIn or Twitter. Please check the episode's notes for information. If you enjoy this content, please subscribe to the Pity Party Over podcast available on Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and many podcast platforms and apps. I invite you to browse our managerial and leadership development programs at alygn.company. ALYGN is spelled A. L. Y. G. N. dot company. Be happy, be well, and until we connect again, thank you for listening.
Wednesday Aug 03, 2022
Wednesday Aug 03, 2022
Business people tend to think of their jobs as results and efficiency. However, whether we like it or not, professional and personal relationships strongly affect performance. This episode explores the best way to care for ourselves and those we love, family members, friends, and colleagues, near the final days of life because of illness or age. My special guest is Charlene Shaw, a physician with 20+ years of experience providing care to vulnerable geriatric and terminally ill patients. Dr. Shaw points out that not knowing how to deal with mortality hinders our ability to be compassionate and caring towards others and ourselves. Developing a deeper understanding and awareness of this natural process has the healing power to turn grief into growth: we become advocates for our loved ones in their most glorious moment to provide relief and peace. Dr. Shaw earned her medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed her residency at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Miami. SUBSCRIBE TO PITY PARTY OVER Listen to the episode on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Castbox, Castro, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Player FM, Pocket Cast, Pod Bay, Podbean App, Podchaser, Postcast Addict, Spotify, Sticher, TuneIn. Connect with Stephen Matini via email Connect with Stephen Matini on Twitter Connect with Stephen Matini on LinkedIn Connect with Dr. Charlene Shaw on LinkedIn Compassionate Care with Dr. Shaw on YouTube Brought to you by ALYGN Organizational Consulting TRANSCRIPT Welcome to Pity Party Over, the podcast for people teams and organizations seeking practical ideas for results in greater happiness. I'm your host, Stephen Matini, let's pause, learn and move on. Pity Party Over is brought to you by ALYGN, A L Y G N.company. Hi everyone I'm Stephen and welcome to Pity Party Over. A lot of business people tend to think of their jobs as results and efficiency. However, whether we like it or not, professional and personal relationships strongly affect performance. This episode explores the best way to care for ourselves and those we love, family members, friends, and colleagues, near the final days of life because of illness or age. My special guest is Charlene Shaw, a physician with 20+ years of experience providing care to vulnerable geriatric and terminally ill patients. Dr. Shaw earned her medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed her residency at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Miami. Stephen Matini: I cannot think of a better person to do this with, someone I've been knowing for a long time. Would you mind sharing where you come from, how the whole idea of becoming a doctor, a physician, came into your life. Charlene Shaw: Thank you for having me on your podcast. And yes we go back quite a ways. It's a beautiful thing that we can do this together. So how did how did this whole doctor thing come about? Well I was born in Trinidad, then we moved to Miami when I was I think about eight years old. But the thing is is I've always wanted to be a doctor ever since I was a little kid. I remember watching Marcus Welby, like laying on the living room floor with my grandmother watching Marcus Welby. Maybe that left an impression, but since I was a little girl, I've always wanted to be a doctor. There was never anything else. Interestingly enough, um ... as a a little girl and growing up in adolescents and so forth, there were no life changing events, so to speak. That you know, a lot of people, they go into medicine because they lost someone, and they want to know how to help people, how to keep people from dying, or dying too soon, or dying necessarily and things like that. I've never had any such events. It was a true desire to be a physician, to be the person who understands how the body works, and helps people manage what's happening with them, or prevent things from happening, and so forth and so on. It's just been an internal desire. Now is another story because as you know, I just lost my mom. While I understand all the medicine involved, it's just a devastating loss. Stephen Matini: Yes. And you were there when my mom went away. As you studied to become a physician, then you started working, how did you choose the focus of your career? Charlene Shaw: That's an easy one. I always wanted to be an O.B. guy, you know, an obstetrician, so I would be delivering babies and and and dealing with gynecological issues and so forth and so on. But when I did residency, I had O.B. guide rotations. I couldn't wait to do these rotations. Once I started and I saw what was truly involved, I had to stop and think, okay, is this what I really want to do for the rest of my life? It's a beautiful event bringing a child into the world, but, but ... everything that happens before that, you don't know until you're there. So women that are in labor or they have false contractions and things like this at two o'clock in the morning as the new doc in the group, guess who's gonna be constantly at those kinds of situations? So, once I saw that it's not just about, oh this beautiful baby is brought into the world or oh these women need this kind of care and that kind of care, it's a lot more involved.I suppose I romanticized it as I was growing up that this is how it's gonna be and this is what I'm gonna do. And the reality of it is quite different. The hours the time spends and what the time is spent doing. It's a lot of preparation and look and see and know you're not ready in three days and four days and five days. And you know, it came down to a life decision: is this the way I want to spend the next at least 10 years before you know, I become let's say a senior partner or something? This is not how I envisioned this particular specialty of being. And so no, this is not how I would like to spend important years of my life. The meat and potatoes of obstetrics, it's still very appealing to me, but it's all of the business around it and and the on call schedule and, and having your life being literally on hold while other things are happening, not really being able to live my own life because I'm bringing other lives into the world. Stephen Matini: You went from thinking of focusing on the beginning of life, to the other side, to the other end. What appealed to you, the omega, the ending. Charlene Shaw: It was a process. It wasn't okay, that's what I'm going to do next. It was actually a process. In the last year of residency, you need to apply for your specialty. You know, if you wanted to sub specialize. I got an invitation. It all began with an invitation. One of my senior residents said, hey Shaw, come and check this out. I'm like check what out. And she says, I'm in the, I work with nursing homes. I'm like, oh God no. And so she says just come, come and see for yourself, and then we can talk. She was one of the people that sort of held my hand and then I looked up to. I meant to her, her name is Kim. So I went on a rotation with her through these nursing homes, I was completely, completely blown away and humbled by what I saw and what she did. It was a building filled with people, an incredible need of care. I suppose up to that point, I was still living in this very romanticized idea of what medicine is and what patients are and what they need and and so forth in my role with them. And when I walked into the nursing home and I saw these people, they're all vulnerable,terribly ill, frail people that needed a lot of care, that needed attention. It was that was it. I was done. I'm like this is where I'm going to be. These are people that need significant help. And I decided in that moment, yes, this is what I'm gonna do. So once residency was finished, I signed on with her team because the population of people that I was seeing were elderly, it made sense that I would go on and become board certified in geriatric medicine. Like you see these TV shows where you know, death is never an option. Never, ever. People are jumping on other people's chest, they’re doing CPR and they have this magical, oh, oh I'm alive and it's like, oh my God. That is so far from the truth! But you know, society and television, they don't prepare you for the end, they don't prepare you for what's next in old age. They just don’t, and so people live with this idea that they're never gonna die, they're invincible, and so they become ill, and the end of their disease approaches, the end of their life approaches, and they have absolutely no idea about how to deal with that or accept it. The families are saying, do everything that you can, and you look in the bed of the person who is just simply in agony and suffering and nature is taking its course and this person is in the process of dying. How do you let that happen in a compassionate way, in a caring way? And how do you help decrease the suffering that's involved, not just for the patient in the bed, but also for their family, because they're struggling with the idea that, oh no, this person is leaving us, this person is going to die. How are we going to carry on? It was just a complete full circle chain of events that led from internal medicine to geriatrics, to hospice and palliative care. Stephen Matini: What would you say are some of the most meaningful lessons that are with you as a result of all these experiences? Charlene Shaw: Oh my gosh humility. It’s, it's humility. You walk in and you step into a room, and in that room is a 90 something year old person, who has lived their best life and they've had tremendous experiences. They look at you and, you know, I just melt, and people look at the elderly and take them for granted, and don't really give them the time of day, and you know, things like these people have tremendous amounts to contribute in terms of, you know, telling stories of their lives and telling and sharing their own experiences. It's just very, very helpful. I feel um I suppose honored to be the person that is there to take care of them. Stephen Matini: What we're talking about is reality for all of us. These moments are moments that truly demand for you to become the leader of your family. When I acknowledged the fact that my mom was not gonna make it, it was truly the help of one specific physician that helped me gain the right perspective, and to make the decision that eventually has given me peace. And even now when I think about those moments, and that horrible decision which was to let my mom go, I feel such a sense of pride. I feel so courageous the fact that I was there until the end. Is there anything that will be in your opinion important for family members to know to face those moments? Charlene Shaw: Recognize when their loved ones are dying, or in the dying process, and be the person who's there as their advocate for them in a loving way as opposed to no, no, no, no, no, no, no, you can't die. This is this is not how this goes. It's a lot easier for that process to happen, because the person who's dying gets to sort of have some relief, to know that their families are there by their side, they understand what's happening, and they will carry on, and that they will be okay. I think the most important thing is for people to know that this is natural, this, that it's accepted or recognized, the easier it is for both the person who's dying because they understand and they're here, and their family is there, and you know, like this, and also for the people who are left behind, like this gut wrenching and heartbreaking, but can still go on and represents or be a part of the one that you just lost. Stephen Matini: You share with me that the loss of your mom has changed a lot of things. You became interested in other facets of your profession, like the use of medical cannabis in palliative care. Also you mentioned second opinion, which may have the critical influence on the diagnosis and treatment. Charlene Shaw: For all the time I spent doing what I love to do, taking care of the elderly, seeing them through all sorts of, of illnesses and diseases and talking with their families and things like this, it was a beautiful thing, that I felt humbled and honored to be able to do. But when it came my turn to deal with that and it's still difficult so ... it was impossible ... to continue to do that ... So ... I needed something else ... cannabis .. woo (laughter) Stephen Matini: You know, I never tried it. Charlene Shaw: Believe it or not, me neither. It's not something that I do or did. It was okay, here we are. The State of Florida legalized this, um, legalized medical cannabis, not recreational. And it's always something in the back of my mind because being in hospice, I saw patients who used cannabis that were a bit better off in terms of managing pain, managing nausea, and um even though it's the end of their life, they're still able to embrace this overall sense of well being. And it was hard to deny that it was hard to ignore that. I went to some lectures, I, you know, became better what it does, how it does. It let me just do the certification, if I use it, or if the opportunity comes around, I'm prepared. So I did the certification. And lo and behold there it was, I got an offer that I said yes to. And so there went my other direction to medical cannabis. Seriously, it was just, I could not continue with hospice, not for any reason other than I was personally grieving. I was not able to give myself to other families and other people that were in similar situations because of my own grief. So it was a way to continue medicine on an entirely different level, entirely different level. And so that's what I did. Stephen Matini: Cannabis and weeds, are the same thing? Charlene Shaw: Yeah, weed is sort of the slang term for cannabis. So there are so many things on this plant that have shown medicinal benefits. We can talk about things like cannabinoids which is the CBD and the THC here in the States. The CBD is determined to be sort of like an agricultural commodity, so you can buy it over the counter as long as there's less than 0.3% THC by dry weight, then you can buy this product over the counter just about anywhere. THC is the component in the cannabis plant that is not federally legal, and so each state has taken it upon itself to determine, yes this is a benefit, this is not a benefit, we will allow this but not that. So anyway, long story short THC is the component in the cannabis is what it's the cannabinoid that provides relief for a great many things, as does the C.B.D. You put those two things together and you get an impressive response. The THC works directly with pain. It works directly with depression. It works directly with insomnia, directly with anxiety, directly with nausea. CBD, on the other hand, works exceptionally well with inflammation, it works with seizures. The FDA approved drug PD L.X, which is CBD for children. Cannabis has the smell, right? And the thing that creates the smell, it's called terpenes and the terpenes themselves have medicinal benefits. It's a world of potential. So we find that patients with Crohn's disease greatly benefit from cannabis use, patients with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's actually also greatly benefit from cannabis use. You know the Parkinson’s, the tremor can become significant. Some of these patients we've seen where they take a dose of the cannabis sublingually, which is a liquid that they put under the tongue, and they give that some time, and the tremor goes from very rapid, to practically non existent for some period of time. And it's the same if they smoke the cannabis, it tends to stop quicker. As far as second opinion consultations. There is a clinic, the VIOS clinic (www.viosapp.com) that is set up, and it's an international clinic, and the idea is they have a pool of physicians from multiple, multiple specialties. Usually what's involved in a second opinion is not simple. Okay they're looking for a doctor who is an expert in the field of. So if it's a cancer diagnosis, obviously they want uh an expert oncologist. If it's like multiple sclerosis or a. L.S. or something like this, they want an expert neurologist. They're looking for an expert that can give them a second opinion to corroborate the information they got from their primary doctor, from their local doctor. The idea is they would call in get this expert. They have 30 minutes to discuss whatever they want to discuss it can be as soon as they want. So if if they want a second opinion tomorrow, then ideally you can call in and get that second opinion tomorrow. And it saves all kinds of time scheduling because the expert is not usually in the same town. So they don't have to travel first of all, they're sick in the first place, right? So they don't have to book hotel, book flight, take a long drive, go somewhere else, and it's like two months, three months out before they get the appointment in the first place. So all of these things are just like chopped off. Telemedicine has problems quite a nice long way since Covid. There is a feasible way to to continue this telemedicine process to help those patients or those people who are limited, who cannot simply get on a plane or get into a car. Stephen Matini: For those people who are not familiar with second opinion, why would you say is important to get a second opinion? Charlene Shaw: I think peace of mind is the best answer. If somebody tells you carrying on with your best life and then something happens, you're in the hospital, they do diagnostics, and they find let's say a mass or a tumor, or they find something, that you are not expecting, you're completely devastated. Most people don't just want to say okay and carry on. Many people do. But not everyone. And so if you're not settled with the opinion or with the diagnostics or the result of your your visits, then yes. You can get a second expert opinion, to help you feel secure or more in charge of what you do next. Let's say the cancer diagnosis, and it's a terminal cancer, or the cancer has spread or something like this, and the doc says, well in these cases people, the five year survival is only 35%. A second opinion can just kind of, it's never easy but at least if you decide to go to treatment, you have some idea of what to expect. Or if you decide, I'm not doing anything because ... whatever your reasons are, then you can make that decision knowing that okay, this is what I can expect. and just kind of gives people some peace of mind to make whatever decision they feel they need to make. Stephen Matini: Have you ever listened to Lady Gaga's song The Edge of Glory? Charlene Shaw: Probably. Stephen Matini: The song is about her grandfather, when he passed away. The edge of glory is the most glorious moment in life, when you decided that it's okay to go. You don't have any more words to say -you know she says- more business, more mountains to climb. You're on the cliff, you tip your hat to yourself and you go. You finally move on to the next chapter. So, you chose a job that is stressful, to say the least. When you feel down, you know when you feel really in a massive pity party, which all of us had the right to feel ... Charlene Shaw: Right. Stephen Matini: What is something that helps you overcome it? That's what I call a pity party over, like okay enough is enough, I move on. Charlene Shaw: I sit quietly. Silence is an amazing tool for me. Everything becomes crystal clear at some point. So I sit and I meditate. Sometimes I listen to Mooji, he uh he as well as Sadhguru are two gurus that have been very influential in terms of being able to handle life and the, you know, making lemonade out of lemons and things like that. But the act of simply being silent and letting like unfold, rather than forcing it, or trying to live by my projections, is a remarkable tool. So pity party over, I just sit quietly and contemplate and and just be, and look for a different way to express what is happening, or just look for a different direction to focus, and silence usually brings out. Stephen Matini: Which is often counterintuitive. Particularly I see it a lot when I work with business people, you know, it's all rush, fast, you need to get things done and often times that is associated with them not being productive. Instead for me, just a different way to manage your time. Stephen Matini: Thank you so much for all your thoughts. This is ... Charlene Shaw: Oh, you’re welcome! Stephen Matini: This is really wonderful. Charlene Shaw: It's my absolute pleasure. Thank you. Stephen Matini: You really chose an incredible job. You've got to be a special person to do what you do, seriously, on a daily basis and to do anyway, that is humane,thank you for sharing all this because I think a lot of people can definitely benefit from this. Charlene Shaw: I appreciate it and thank you. You know, as a physician, it's demanding,there's no way around that, it's very demanding and I have to bring my A game every time I walk into the door, there's no letting anything slip. To keep that going, requires a good deal of effort. To keep the humanity and the vulnerability, I think going back to that silent place, really makes a big difference. So when I made my life choice about what part of medicine I wanted to participate and I was true and honest to myself, how much of this and you know, how do I want to show up? How do I want to to be? I think I chose well because it all needed a balance, there has to be a balance. Stephen Matini: And silence shall be. Charlene Shaw: Silence shall be. Stephen Matini: Thank you for listening to this episode of Pity Party Over. Dr. Shaw points out that not knowing how to deal with mortality hinders our ability to be compassionate and caring towards others and ourselves. Developing a deeper understanding and awareness of this natural process has the healing power to turn grief into growth. We become advocates for our loved ones in their most glorious moment to provide relief and peace. Keep in mind that many resources optimize the quality of life of patients and their families, including palliative care, and second medical opinion. If you have any questions about the content of this episode, you can contact me via email, LinkedIn or Twitter. Please check the episodes notes for information. If you enjoy this content, please subscribe to the Pity Party Over podcast available on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, and many podcast platforms and apps. I invite you to browse our leadership and managerial development programs at alygn.company. ALYGN is spelled A L Y G N.company Be happy, be well, and until we connect again, thank you for listening.
Thursday Jul 28, 2022
Thursday Jul 28, 2022
This episode explores the importance of assumptions, choices, viewpoints, and purpose to formulate a successful strategy. My special guest is Jessy Hsieh, Clinical Assistant Professor at New York University Stern School of Business. Jessy’s research interests include strategy, creativity, digital sociology, and philosophy of education. A good strategy questions all certainties and assumptions with a curious, open, and flexible attitude. Strategy is not a rigid plan based on dangerous false assumptions but the smallest set of choices that optimally guide or force other choices. The best strategic ideas require leveraging different points of view by listening to your people and giving them a voice. Strategy is about choosing, and choosing is the freedom to reframe challenges to make us feel we have agency in our personal and professional lives. Subscribe to the Pity Party Over podcast to never miss an episode Sign up for a free Live Session to learn how to design successful strategies Brought to you by ALYGN Organizational Consulting Listen to the episode on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Castbox, Castro, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Player FM, Pocket Cast, Pod Bay, Podbean App, Podchaser, Postcast Addict, Spotify, Sticher, TuneIn. Connect with Stephen Matini via email Connect with Stephen Matini on Twitter Connect with Stephen Matini on LinkedIn Connect with Jessy Hsieh at New York University Connect with Jessy Hsieh on Twitter TRANSCRIPT Welcome to Pity Party Over the podcast for people teams and organizations seeking practical ideas for results in greater happiness. I'm your host, Stephen Matini. Let's pause, learn and move on. Pity Party Over is brought to you by ALYGN, A L Y GN . company. Stephen Matini: Hi everyone I'm Stephen and welcome to Pity Party Over. This episode will explore the importance of assumptions, choices, viewpoints and purpose to formulate a successful strategy. My special guest is Jessy Hsieh, Clinical Assistant Professor at New York University, Stern School of Business. Jesse's research interests included strategy, creativity, digital sociology and philosophy of education. Jesse teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses and she is currently pursuing her PhD in the department of Applied Statistics, Social Sciences and Humanities at New York University. Stephen Matini: I am curious to know where you grew up, and what were your early experiences that somehow shaped where you are now. Jessy Hsieh: I was born and raised in New Jersey, Parsippany New Jersey to be specific, but you know where I grew up, and who I am and where I'm from is a compilation of what I would say everyone before me. So a little bit about my, my parents were both in, one born, my dad was born in Southern China. My mom was born in Northern China. Their families in 1949, they all went to Taiwan. They were both raised in a small, a small city in Taiwan, but it wasn't until they both came to the United States for graduate studies that they met. I might have been born in Morristown New Jersey and raised in Parsippany New Jersey, but the history of where I'm from is a confluence of so many chance occurrences that created me. Stephen Matini: What would you say that has been the biggest contribution of your parents in the way you think, the way you are? Jessy Hsieh: Strategies at the confluence of choices and chances, so chances, things that you don't have any control over and choices, those decisions that you make to kind of pivot or to make those moves. My dad was a, he's retired now. He was a biochemical engineer, and those that was really, not really by choice, but something that he was very good at and that he knew that he could get a scholarship to study here in the United States. For my dad was always very interested in history and my mom was a very accomplished, she loved to paint in her in her free time. I come from a family of scientists, but always there was this artistry, humanities, there was a crux of people's interests that they weren't able to pursue. So for me, I think that where I learned to appreciate both scientific mindset and although also the artistry and interpretive mindset of artists, and putting them together in terms of my teaching as well, just a science and an art. Talking about strategy and a confluence of choices and chances, things that you cannot control and things that you can control. One of the most salient memories I have was when my mom died from cancer when I was 17. That was a very, very big learning for me, because she was the only person whose opinion really mattered to me when I was growing up. And so having no longer be able to rely on that, I had to really make a lot of decisions for myself. That's important to me? What do I have at hand? What's the environment and then to make those choices? Because I could not rely on the wisdom, the opinion of this person who matter so much to me. So that to me is a very formative experience. This person was removed from my life. It actually forced me really rely on my own thinking, my own decision, making my own kind of internal motivator, and also internal compass to make those decisions, to own those decisions, and to move forward. Stephen Matini: Do you look like your mom? Jessy Hsieh: I look like both my my dad and my mom I think. Stephen Matini: In 2015 you said, you tweeted, “Strategic equals skeptic of false a certainty, citizen of enlightened ignorance.” So has that thought changed since? Jessy Hsieh: Skeptic of false certainty, yes. And then also citizen of ...? Stephen Matini: Enlightened ignorance. Jessy Hsieh: That definitely works, still holds! I actually don't think that that could be mine. I must I must have been somewhere where I heard that or something. I should have, I should have credit that, or if it's mine, that could work. I mean ... Stephen Matini: I think it sounds like you, yeah. Jessy Hsieh: Yes because I think that one of the biggest challenges when people think strategically or when formulating strategy is false certainty. The moment somebody says like this is definitely the way we should go ... to me, it’s kind of like we're not cynical of that possibility, but the skepticism is really like, okay, why? Are these decisions in this statement ... are these based on assumption of the past that might not be true to reality, and that are basically guiding you to think something that is certain when it's not. The only thing worse than uncertainty, is false certainty. That's kind of where I would think strategy really comes in. We're always going to live with uncertainty, because there are so many things that are out of our control. The only thing worse than living with uncertainty is being falsely certain that you know the right answer, that you know the right course, that you know, or assume that what you are doing is either wrong or right, right? So false certainty is the danger. And enlightened ignorance. I think enlightening ignorance was definitely a phrase that I've heard somewhere before. I'm definitely not as poetic as that, be able to come up with that. But enlightened ignorance really is, constantly being in the state of asking questions, never being falsely certain about what you think is true, what you think is the right course, and being flexible. What's the next thing I want to know? What's the next thing that I can clarify. There's so many things that we don't know. Let me find out what I can know. Stephen Matini: It is my understanding that strategy typically involves two major processes. One is formulation, which includes a strategic planning and strategic thinking. The second one is implementation, which refers to the action plan taken to achieve the goals. Do you have a similar approach or a different one? Jessy Hsieh: The definition of strategy that I would use is from Eric J. Van den Steen. His definition of strategy I love just because it kind of encapsulates both. It can go for individuals, it can go for groups, it can go for organization. So his definition is that strategy is, “The smallest set of choices to optimally guide or force other choices.” I love this, this is about the formulation and also it guides action. As an individual. What's your strategy for this? Sometimes it be like, I need to find a new job, I'm going to find a new job, right? That's in my mind, not a strategy, that's an action, maybe a tactic. That’s an implementation of something, right? Perhaps in terms of a strategy might be something like, I want to work in a place that utilizes my organizational skills or something like this. That is a decision to formulate that guide. We want to be best in kind in this, or we want to develop innovative strategies. Even just using the word innovation is actually again, falsely certain. What are those choices you need to make in order to continue? Formulation. That set. That set of choices. Then implementation. What do you need to take action on those choices? A job is something you do to make money. A career is a job you're good at. And a profession is a career you want to get better at. It's about coming up with these constraints. Again, another strategy thinker that has really influenced the way I think, the mindset, but also how I live my life, my work here, is Adam M. Brandenburger. Adam M. Brandenburger is a professor here at NYU, and he has this four seeds of creativity. What are your constraints? What are your context that you were in? How can you look around to see what you're in and do something opposite? And combination. What are those choices that you can actually take something and add it to something else? Because if it's too broad, it's too vague, it's really hard to take action. It's almost in-actionable, un-implementable if you will. It’s about that sweet spot, formulating some sort of idea or action, formulating that set of choices, and then using that set of choices to implement. Formulation, implementation are all part of the thinking process and action taking process this idea of strategy really lends itself to. Stephen Matini: One of the things that I used to hear a lot from clients in the past, what is a strategy for the next year? For the next three years? For the next five years? And somehow this concept has become almost ridiculous, in a world that changes all the time. How is a strategic approach changed in your opinion? Jessy Hsieh: They always think about the strategic plan. I think I heard this from Adam M. Brandenburger, or he may have quoted somebody else, foolish is the person who comes into battle or comes into something with a plan. It's not flexible enough. Plan all you want, maybe schedule you want and have all these goals, but things often don't turn out to where you want them to be. Using time as a strategy is time-bound, is like a goal, by year one. This is what I will have done. Those are goals. Not necessarily strategies. Strategies are choices, like choices that you're making. The key thing about strategy is these decision notes. Every little pivot, any one of those things could lead off two totally different timelines if you will. There's multiple outcomes that could come from any type of decision at any moment that you decide to take another course. If you're a retailer, are we going to be a fully organic or we only use organic cotton for our garment? That's a strategy, because it limits what you will do. The best in kind in providing fully sustainable organic products. That gives you a direction, that guides other decisions that need to be made. That guides then who you're gonna get as your suppliers, who are you going to target as your customers, how you might have to price things in the future, like these are all those are the types of decisions that are going to guide other ones. Is it a plan? Not necessarily is it time bound? Not necessarily. Time is a helpful tool to help meet targets, or to meet goals, and to see if you're on the right track, or making progress. But strategy is decidedly not a plan. It's a set of choices that you're making. That you have to decide upon a set of choices. A set of decisions. Yeah. Stephen Matini: With that said (laughter) ... the notion of choosing is so central in the way you approach strategy. What are the ingredients to choose well? Jessy Hsieh: I want to say that about you Stephen, what do you think are the ingredients? Stephen Matini: For me the first thing that I thought about is to be aware of how I look at things, because everything can be interpreted in so many different ways, you know. What is objectivity? It doesn’t exist. So for me to become mindful of how I look at things could be probably one of the most important steps. The other one that I thought about is the multitude of points of view, or different ways that something can be can be looked at, to be mindful there could be other interpretations, other angles that I'm not aware of. When you were talking before ...it is about choosing. It's not just about a plan. For me, it's probably the soulfulness of why I do what I do. So if it's a company maybe it's something that is deeply connected with the vision, mission and values. Because to get there there could be so many different routes, but the soul of the organization, why we do what we do, probably is one of the components that is going to dramatically kick out some of the choices. Jessy Hsieh: Yeah, for sure. I love, I love how you're talking about this choosing well and then also purpose. Why are you doing what you're doing? Simon Sinek, you know, always start with why. Because why, if you had that, then the what, the what comes from the why, and how is near infinite. It helps you limit those choices. So like why are you doing what you're doing. In terms of choosing well I have had many, many jobs, many things I've gotten paid to do, investment banking, so many different things that I've gotten paid to do. From there, I'm like well what is it, what is it that I'm actually good at? I could have chosen, right. I probably could be good at it. I haven't really tested. But my last job for example, you know, working at an investment bank. I was getting paid, I liked what I was doing. You know, I was good at it. It's a career, but why am I doing this? Like do I want to get better at this? And that to me was fundamental kind of purpose question. So now I'm in a profession, I'm teaching is something I get paid to do. That I believe that I'm good at, and I want to get better at it. Like every day is something I want to get better at. Why is fundamental, because that's something you can just go back to. It's not necessarily something that you decide on first, but it is something that is foundational. What is essential, what is foundational to your core business, to your organization? Then you go, okay then you can decide what, and how. Stephen Matini: Recently I was talking to a general manager that I worked with in the past, and he said, results are really important, but results alone do not do the trick, especially if you want to have a long term strategy. So you have to look at results. Those are important indicators that allow me to understand, yes, I'm going the right direction, but there's so much more than that, you know. Managers, executives are so obsessed about results, and rightfully so. But that's not really a strategy. Not at all. Jessy Hsieh: No Stephen Matini: It's just getting by. Jessy Hsieh: For sure. I think the results are observation, this is data. They're all data to see why did you achieve that excellent result. Why did your, your first quarter earnings outpaced your last quarter. The results are one thing, understanding what it was, and why you achieve those results are much more important, because those are the things that last. Organizations are sometimes just making broad, sweeping decisions. You must come into the office, you must be in person three days a week, four days a week. However, so they are actually making decisions that are how are we going to do our work in person or totally remote? That’s a how question. You're going deeper into as a General Manager is why do I, why do I want people to come back in person? Is it because I really want to have more, increase a culture of collaboration? Is it because I wanted to increase those moments of spontaneity and generative ideas that can only be captured in spontaneous interactions? Utilizing the data from when you were in person, when you were on Zoom. What situations lead to the reason why you're doing it? Were you able to build collaboration particularly on Zoom? Just like we're doing right now, right? We don't need to be in person to be able to have a meeting of the minds. As companies are grappling with how to structure their work, other work time, they're going to these decisions without first deciphering when and how. When do we work best? How do we work best? And what do we want to achieve? Making decisions based off of past decisions, so that you can unearth why did this work well. Results are just indicators of things that work, or are things that don't work, the extent to where things work, and perhaps observation points for how things might be able to work better in the future. Stephen Matini: Executive roles, those people are the ones who are supposed to make strategic decisions, and yet a good idea may come from anywhere. People that are closest to the issue, most likely they're going to see what's happening. Based on your experience, how would you say that an organization could transition from a model of having people on top being the strategic one, to having everyone in that conversation? Jessy Hsieh: When you're saying the people on top of losing their identity, could you clarify what you mean by that? Stephen Matini: I mean the C-suite. Jessy Hsieh: Each organization is going to be different. But I do think though that in terms of strategic leadership, in order to generate the best possible ideas you want to have a lot of observations. In your organization how can we include all of these ideas so that we can be sure that we are at least having the broadest set, the broadest ideas? Then you amplify those ideas that are generated. In terms of strategic leadership, it is part of their identity to ensure that all the voices are heard or at least they're generating as many ideas that they can. Then, how do we raise that to the power of 10? A lot of times people who are in those positions of power, they come from the assumption that they have the best ideas. They've gone up the ranks, they assume that they might have. It's the people who are in leadership come from that thought that will never be falsely certain. They’ve risen up the ranks mostly because they now have experience in seeing all the different as many perspectives as I can, even from like multiple functions, multiple perspective, being able to see from different vantage points the organization, then they can operate at the strategic level. A strategist, C-suite, really being able to have this thinking, what are those things that we can move as one? Strategy hopefully is really allows multiple functions in organization areas of interest in an organization, multiple people, to be able to move as one organism. At the C-suite level, their identity is not in the title, but their identities really should be in their experience, to see that they can never know it at all, and then also to utilize that experience to help marshal, and bring an organization to be able to move disparate parts as one organism is strategic leadership I think. Stephen Matini: People have amazing ideas, and actually what they found tremendously frustrating is the fact that often times their voices are not fully heard. Jessy Hsieh: Yeah, for sure. Stephen Matini: And those are missing opportunities for innovation, for creativity, and for being more strategic. Jessy Hsieh: Often times, I think that back to the order of operations, real leadership is empowering, that’s the exponent. Seeing what you have in these parentheses in your organization. What currently exists. People, their ideas, each person's experience and then empowering. That's the exponent. Empowering people who work in your organization to speak their ideas, to feel heard, empowering to give them voice. Giving them voice often times just asking them, what do you think about this? Give us examples of what is your day to day? What do you think would improve this? That is really just empowering them, before you go outside, you know, to find what other people are doing. Data is quantitative and qualitative. It's not about how much, it's about how. How many ideas do people come up with? How are you empowering people to feel heard, to speak their ideas, so that you can ensure that you are gaining the broadest range, broadest variety, and also the deepest? There are many excellent consultants, who bring forth the best ideas, that their experience from seeing across organizations will lead to the best practices. But each organization has such a depth of knowledge that is all kind of within individual minds. How do you get empower those, that diversity, that depth of knowledge, those depth of experience? And bring that and empower people to speak their ideas is critical. Stephen Matini: All the choices that you made in your life that brought you here, you know, you told me about your mom, your parents ... what is the contribution that you hope to give through your work in strategy? Jessy Hsieh: Oh ... Stephen Matini: That’s deep! (Laughing) Jessy Hsieh: That’s really deep. I think for me teaching is the closest that I feel that I can experience infinity, because every little minute that I spend with students, it's just the starting point of a seed that can germinate into infinite different possibilities. What I really hope to contribute is that the students that I interact with, they can see that there nothing is a foregone conclusion, that there is no such thing as the right way. There's no such thing as the one way, that if we are thinking about in terms of that, then we are robbing ourselves of the opportunity to experience the possibility and the infinite possibility of the future. I love teaching. I wanted to get better at this because I it's the closest I've experienced to infinity. Stephen Matini: There's a word that I don't think we have said in this conversation, but I think it's probably it could be a synonym of infinity, which is freedom. The national strategy for you is so much connected to choosing. You know, for me choosing is about freedom. Choosing is the biggest freedom that you can possibly have. And so the last question for you is this. When you feel like crap, when you're having like a really difficult moment, for whatever the reason, is there any specific choice, or something you do to get out of the funk that somehow, you notice, works well for you? Jessy Hsieh: The title of this whole podcast Pity Party Over. I just love that. Okay, I just, I just love it in so many different ways. So for me, I would actually say that translating things to action, something that you can do is an initiation of freedom, it’s an initiation of choice, and it's also a way to get out of the pity party if you will, right, like the funk. For me, for me, I always feel the most free when I think of things in a different way, so I will give it exam. I recently turned 40. So leading up to this, a lot of my friends were like, oh by the time you're 40 we should have this, we should have a, b and c, we should have, you know, accumulated in some sort of thing. It always seemed like an end point, like 40 just seemed like some sort of endpoint. No, screw this, you know, this is just the beginning. So freedom to me is reframing certain situations in a way that makes us feel that we have agency in our life. I want to start a movement, I'm gonna call it my F. F. Y. F. F. It's the start of my 41st year of 40-first. For example, my first time having a dirty Martini, which I've never had, which I love. The first time eating mutton. My first time, my first mammogram that I had, it was also during ... My first time, what else did we do? What else they did? This is the anti bucket list. I don't care what everyone else has done. This is my first, my first time seeing my friend's new daughter. My first time doing a 2000 piece puzzle. It's a movement to reframe how we're seeing things that are expected to be the end, or the mark of an end of something, and really it's part of the first of a new beginning. What can I see differently? Instead of thinking things are coming to the end or things that I'm losing out, or things that I don't have, constantly going with that mindset. What are the first things that you, you are doing for the first time? You are thinking for the first time, that you are feeling for the first time? Those first. Pity party over, how do I get out of the funk? Freedom is refraining. It's a mindset to look at what currently exists in a new or different way, that puts your own stamp on it. This decade. My mom was diagnosed with cancer when she was 45 And she died when she was 50. All of us, if there's anything that we learned from the pandemic, is that there is no certainty about what's going to happen in the next moment. For me switching that from like, oh gosh, you know, what am I going to do to like? Okay, what is it that I can do right now? What is it that's new for me right now? What are those things that I want right now? There's no such thing as a plan. You come to life with a plan, you're going to be sorely disappointed Stephen Matini: Miss Jessie, you are a precious gift. Jessy Hsieh: Oh Stephen ...! Stephen Matini: Thank you for doing this with me. We should do this again. Jessy Hsieh: Yeah, absolutely. Stephen Matini: Thank you for listening to this episode of Pity Party Over. In the episode Jessy points out strategy as a confluence of choices and chances, things you can control and things you cannot control. A good strategy questions all certainties and assumptions with a curious, open, and flexible attitude. Strategy is not a rigid plan based on dangerous false assumptions, but the smallest set of choices that optimally guide or force other choices. Understanding the context of those choices is also critical. For individuals, teams and organizations, choosing well requires awareness or why we do what we do. Purpose drives results, and results tell us how things might be able to work better in the future. The best strategic ideas require leveraging different points of view by listening to your people and giving them a voice. Strategy is about choosing, and choosing is the freedom to reframe challenges to make us feel we have agency in our personal and professional lives. If you are interested in developing your strategic thinking, you can contact me via email, LinkedIn or Twitter, or sign up before a 60-minute complimentary Live Session. Please check the episode's notes for information. If you enjoy this content, please subscribe to the Pity Party Over podcast available on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Google Podcasts, Spotify and many podcast platforms and apps. I invite you to browse our leadership and managerial development programs at alygn.company dot. ALYGN is spelled A L Y G N . company. Be happy, be well, and until we connect again, thank you for listening.
Friday Jul 22, 2022
Friday Jul 22, 2022
This episode explores how “Human to Human” conversations can help leaders bring the best out of people to deliver outstanding results. The special guest is Carly Anderson, an Australian-American leadership and executive coach. Carly began training as a coach in 1998 and became a Master Certified Coach in 2004 by the International Coaching Federation, the leading coach credentialing body. Since then, Carly has mentored hundreds of coaches, becoming one of the most authentic voices for leadership development. Leading people through change requires a carefully organized process. However, leveraging people’s potential and boosting motivation entails integrating a consultative-training approach with honest, kind, authentic conversations. Human-to-Human conversations mean creating space where people can be seen, heard, and acknowledged as whole beings. That is where fundamental transformation, actions, and behavioral change occur. Sign up for a free Live Session to learn how to leverage human to human conversations Subscribe to Pity Party Over to be notified of new episodes Listen to the episode on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Castbox, Castro, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Player FM, Pocket Cast, Pod Bay, Podbean App, Podchaser, Postcast Addict, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn. Subscribe to the PITY PARTY OVER blog Connect with Stephen via email Connect with Stephen on Twitter Connect with Stephen on LinkedIn Brought to you by ALYGN Organizational Consulting Connect with Carly on LinkedIn Carly’s mentor coaching programs at www.carlyanderson.com TRANSCRIPT Welcome to Pity Party Over, the podcast for people teams and organizations seeking practical ideas for results and greater happiness. I'm your host, Stephen Matini, let’s pause, learn, and move on. Pity Party Over is brought to you by Alygn, A L Y G N . company. Stephen Matini: Hi everyone, I'm Stephen, and welcome to Pity Party Over. This episode will explore how Human to Human conversations can help leaders bring the best out of people to deliver outstanding results. My special guest is Carly Anderson, an Australian-American leadership and executive coach. Carly began training as a coach in 1998 and became a Master Certified Coach in 2004 by the International Coaching Federation, the leading coach credential body. Since then. Carly has mentored hundreds of coaches, including myself, becoming one of the most authentic voices for leadership development. Stephen Matini: The question that I have, the first one for you is this one: I know a bit about you know that you're Australian, and here and there you told me different things about yourself. But I'm curious to know what are the these steps that brought you from the beginning to where you are right now? Like you were born in Australia now you are in the US, so which were the main steps in your, of your development? Carly Anderson: As always life doesn't happen as a straight line. If you had said to me this little girl born in a very small country town in South Australia would be talking to Stephen who's in Italy from, and I'm in Los well I'm not in Los Angeles but I'm in California, and that you would consider me one of your mentors. I would go, no way that could ever happen! Yeah, I came from a very middle class, lower class family who none were educated, and, and somehow I was not like them. So I guess that thing was I always had ambition. I didn't know what that ambition was, but I just knew that I had to keep learning. So from a very young age, I just noticed when I look back now on that person, I was that I was always just a learner. I mean just ... I studied, well, I always I loved history, I loved Mesopotamia. I loved ancient history for some reason, then I love sport, and so I would just practice because I love the act of getting better. So if I go through my life, that's what drove me to be honest and how I'm here because learning took me to the next place. And also this unknown drive as to I don't belong here and I don't know where I belong and I don't know why I'm not comfortable in my own skin, which for a very long time. Until my early 30’s, I did not feel I felt something was wrong with me, and I didn't know what. And all of my family were like in the country town and here already I had moved to the city by the age of 19 and that was considered like ... what? And then I can tell you, I mean from there I got a job in an advertising agency in Adelaide and I went to see “Cats” actually at the Sydney Opera House with one of my girlfriends who was very sophisticated. My first ever trip to Sydney when I was 23. And I was staggered by the beauty of looking from the airplane seeing Sydney for the first time and how green it was. And I came from a place which was very not green. And then we went to the Opera House and I was stunned by the beauty and I remember Andra, her name, was saying to me on the way home, I don't know and she was a laboratory assistant technician. She said. “I don't know why I'm going back to Adelaide?” Uh and I went, “Oh I don't know why am I going back to Adelaide!” And so then I asked for a transfer to Sydney with the advertising agency I left without knowing I had a job but I interviewed for the same agency when I got to Sydney and they gave me a job in the media department which I loved, and then I just got promoted because I was a learner and got better and better and eventually ... I left that industry but I wanted to be, I was driven by wanting to learn and I engaged in personal development. So I did my first personal development course when I was 27 or eight, I've just been fired from my job, and it was perfect timing. They collided where I did this personal development course, which was transformational for me. And so that then led me to wanting to have my own business. So then I had a strategic planning company, had employees, I went from being employed to being an employer. And then someone said to me, coaching is coming to Australia and bringing the first ever coach training program to Australia, it was 1997, and I think you'd be a great coach. And I said to my peer colleague, I said, “”hat are you talking about? I don't know what you mean." Sports coaching was all I knew. So he said, look, I'll send you the brochure when I get it. Okay. So four months later send me, sends me the brochure and I was like, okay, so I did it. And short story is I within a year sold my half of the business trans started to be getting involved in coaching, Went to a coach conference coach conference in 1999 in Orlando in Florida and met Michael, didn't do anything but a year later we met at the same conference, but this time I was in Vancouver and I came from Sydney, he came from Philadelphia and this time we were both free at the first time, we were both involved in relationships. And then we married in 2001 and here I am living for 20 years with the most wonderful human, 21 years married soon and ... that's how I'm here and that's the steps I guess. Stephen Matini: So coaching really you discovered it early on, like at the very beginning of coaching ... how interesting. Carly Anderson: Yeah, 1998 was when I encountered it. 1992 was when you know around that time was when it really began. So I was about six years in ... yeah. Stephen Matini: What coaching had that your previous career did not have? Carly Anderson: Yes. Well this is good because I had been an employee but now as an employer and I had five employees at the time that I heard about I learned about coaching. And so my company what we did was take the strategy vision and values of large organizations, like banks and insurance companies and others, and translate that into stories, into graphics, into pictures into corporate storytelling before it actually was that. What I noticed is from the C suite down through the organization we would have great conversations, they would take the information but nothing happened. No change happened. It was just communication and making lots of money but I didn't feel like I was making a difference. So after about five years of doing this I was going there's something missing and then along comes coaching I was like oh ... okay this is what makes something that you are talking about from a consultative perspective, and takes it into transformation and action and behavior change. That's what was missing until I coaching came along, Stephen Matini: You learned quite a bit of leadership, and also your own leadership style, and what could work for you or not based on having bosses, and you as a boss. Carly Anderson: So interesting to how often we get messages in life about things and I guess that's also true with for me about people making people important versus process, because I was very much into the process of learning and getting better, and I never thought about humans along the way until much later in my life really. And so one of the first things that I noticed is when I was preparing for this with you which I think is a fabulous thing that you're doing here, it's just discussing things about people and get out of the pity party and just think it's wonderful what you're doing. And so the first thing I thought about was my first boss was a part time job in my small country town where I grew up, and it was a real estate agency that had a small travel agency with it, and I was the receptionist at the time, and I realized he was such a kind, you know when you look back people often say who made a difference in your life? Well this my first boss, his first name is Paul, I don't even know if he's still alive, I tried to find and I could not find him a number of years ago. Kind, very, very interested in my development from the beginning. He could see I was an introverted, sort of quiet person, and he he was a Rotarian. And so he's said, I think it would be good for you to learn more about people. And so how about you raise money for charity for the rotary club and that will help you just that process. And he was just this really kind person and he made a difference without him seeing that and helping me in that way, that was hugely important to me. And I didn't realize he was really seeing me as a human being for the first time. That's the first time I ever felt like I was really seen by somebody in my life. Stephen Matini: There are two words that you use, even in the past, and I have learned them from you. One is when you talk about talk to people from “human to human,” and then I guess maybe the opposite is “process”, which is, you know, when you get more, I guess formulaic? So what is a “human to human” conversation”? Carly Anderson: What we're having right now. Stephen Matini: Thank God! Carly Anderson: Yeah! Because I'm interested in you, you're interested in me, we're interested in how you think feel, act, react ... I mean, I wanted to ask you how come you wanted to live in the United States? You see that's a human, I'm interested in you. I'm not trying to get something from you. I don't care about the act of it. It's like what's important to you about that. That's me being curious about you as a human being. And when we actually show and demonstrate that we are curious and understanding, wanting to understand or seeking to at least understand a little more about the person that we're engaging with unconsciously we're also saying: you matter. And that you're important as with when I treat somebody like which I used to, you know, it's like get this done. I want this done by this time. We have to get we've got deadlines. Of course everybody wants results. It's how you go about it. The behavior we all have is a choice, whether we realize it or not, and we're either choosing to make results the way we speak. We're saying you're not important. The result we get out of this is more important. As with if I say, how do you go about? What, what's making this difficult for you or what do you find enjoyable about this? Okay, so how does that make you more productive or what do you need in order to be more efficient? I'm interested in you as a human being to get the result, and it makes a big difference. Probably know this Stephen, I can't quote exactly now where it's from. But it was originally the Gallup organization that did a survey that showed that people leave organizations mostly because their direct superior doesn't care, doesn't show they care about them. They only get feedback when they've done something wrong. And by the way that's I'm interested in that. Why do you think they don't give feedback when they're doing things right? I'm really interested in that from your perspective as well. Stephen Matini: The way that I see it is that some people tend to be more naturally people-oriented, and some people tend to be very task-oriented. We need both. You know, we need both. You need to have an eye on results. You need to have an eye on people. The question is always, can you teach people to be more sensitive to people? Like one of the questions that I received most of the time is that, can you teach empathy? Carly Anderson: I'm with you. Well, I've noticed observed in myself, first of all, I didn't have empathy and I've developed it and it's definitely something you can develop. Stephen Matini: You? Carly Anderson: Yeah. No! I mean, No, I did not have empathy. I mean, for instance, when I was a young manager, I was around 26, in the advertising agency, I worked in if somebody was two or three minutes late who was coming to see me for a meeting from an external supplier, I wouldn't see them. I'm sorry you're late by three minutes. I was like rigid originally to process. And no, I've learned that, I've learned that it actually matters that, you know, and seek to understand people. Hence, one of the reasons I love coaching is that keeps me honest in my own development, because to me I'm always wanting my behavior on the inside. I want to be a person that appreciates myself and appreciates others. I've learned both are important. And if I've had, I've chosen to develop empathy and I've worked with. I remember one person I coached who was a medical person who was in charge of a large research and development division inside of a medical devices company, and he was brilliant. He is brilliant. I imagine, I'm not coaching anymore. Brilliant. But the feedback was, this guy doesn't trust anybody else in the team is team to be as good as he is. And so he doesn't give much over two people and he's losing good people. We need him to stop because we think he's brilliant but ... He and empathy, I'd say to him, “What do you think is going on here for you that you don't trust people?” He goes, “Oh it's not about trust." “Then, what is it?” He says, “Well I just need to get the result done or whatever. I don't care what other people think." “So, just checking, where in your life do you care about people?” He said, “With my son who's disabled.” And ... so by him actually ... I had no idea. I've been coaching him for a little bit already before this came up. And he realized that he was compartmentalizing his ability, he was so empathetic toward his son, I saw no empathy, no caring in his work environment, and he'd split himself in two. And once he realized and started to understand that he could in fact maybe be a little more kind, or empathetic two people in the workplace, and maybe that that was something he'd learned how to do really well with his son, it transformed him, and his environment, and his results, and people stayed, and the thing just shifted. So yes it's not only can be taught but I think sometimes people do already have empathy or caring and part of their life, they've either blocked off, shut out, or forgotten about for whatever reason. Stephen Matini: On your website, carlyanderson.com you have so much information that I that I love. There's um, there's one thing that I took you say, “I believe that we all want to be valued and respected for who we are. It's the behaviors and beliefs that we use unconsciously that can stop us from being valued and respected as we want to be.” Carly Anderson: Yes, exactly. Which is part of a broader statement. My husband and I have a corporation together. Full it's called Full Being, F U L L Being Coaching and our tagline is, “Because who you are makes a difference in what you do.” Coaching the person taking actions is more powerful than merely coaching what actions to take. People have a greater capacity to solve their own problems than they currently employ. And we're dedicated to enhancing, enhancing and strengthening that ability. Stephen Matini: Statistically lots of leadership development programs fail. Tons and tons of money are spent in leadership development and they fail. Based on your experience, what would you say that are some of the most important elements to pay attention to, to make sure that the program, a leadership development program, when it's deployed, is successful? Carly Anderson: Group and individual coaching and teamwork, team building and all of that. Yes, it's a multi functioned approach. You have to take it from a just a teaching or training approach alone is minimally ... in fact, there are statistics that show just doing that you're going to get minimal retention of action and behavioral change. Without some ongoing process to have behavior because habits take a while to change mindset beliefs, attitudes, behaviors all have to be something that you engage with as a process. And so if you don't have a process for doing that and coaching is a process, because you have, it's not a once off session. Like a training session can often be, well, let's go learn about emotional intelligence, let's go learn about empathy. Well now you got to practice it. So whether you do that in the team coaching, individual coaching, it has to be an ongoing amount of sessions that creates the opportunity for accountability, because when you come back ... I have a coach as well, and I go through cycles of coaching even though I'm 24 years into my sort of developed my coaching. I still, I love being coached, and I employed two different coaches for two different purposes right now. And it's great, I love the accountability because when I go to my next session, if I've said I'm going to do something ... I like to, I want to know that I'm going to show up and not have, it's not that I'm trying to please my coach, but it's a good accountability for me! So you need ongoing support in order and that's what coaching offers, whether it's team and or individual. Stephen Matini: Based on your experience. Is there a certain specific formula, combination, or percentage that you would use these two, coaching and training? Carly Anderson: I've been part of effective corporate programs which have had a two day training or started out first of all with some sort of assessment, especially when you've got smart people, really smart people, you have to give them something that gives them a current ... especially about themselves and about not only their brain but about their emotional intelligence of some kind. And so when you have an assessment that you can debrief first. Then they go into some training for a couple of days or a half day, a half day or half day, I think half days can be effective. I don't know about any less than that or whether it's being on Zoom for three or four hours is tiring I find, at a time. So some sort of process where they're getting the information and then next is coaching after that, which is to me maybe the micro learning that takes it into behavioral change versus the information. But I found that when I've been part of those programs, assessment, debrief training, and then coaching, I found those to be, they've been very effective from companies I've worked with. Stephen Matini: For those companies organizations that are evaluating the opportunity of “human to human” type of leadership development. What would you say? How would you explain to them the value of this approach Carly Anderson: When you actually engage in this, like we are right now in conversation there's something magical that emerges in ... I mean I feel the energy just talking to you Stephen, and the vibrational excitement. You know, it's like a popcorn, in a good way! Most people think they know how to listen until they start going through a say a coaching training program and then they realize how much they don't hear. And fundamental, fundamental to anybody is are you really hearing what the person is saying and there's so many levels to listening. I think that's the fundamental training that needs to happen. If you don't know how to listen, what you're doing is just listening long enough to respond, or react, or have the solution, and so it doesn't actually show that you're actually taking much notice of that person in front of you. And listening is where you have to, first of all also listen to what you're saying to yourself. Most people are saying things like, I can't get this done, I'm overwhelmed, there's too much to do, I need to get this out the door. And so what they're not hearing is, I'm afraid I'm not going to be good enough, I'm afraid that if I don't get this done, I'll be fired. So therefore there's so much we say to ourselves that we don't hear, and then there's so much when we can't hear ourselves, we don't hear others as well. So there's so much around listening that can be done. I think training and listening skills is so under valued. Stephen Matini: This podcast as you know is called Pity Party Over, right. When you're in a funk, essentially, is there anything specific that you do, to get out of it, to pity party over, to move on? Carly Anderson: Yes, I think it's a fabulous saying. Wes. So choice, choosing, that’s, the number one thing out of a pity party is no matter what's happening, like, Gosh, I'm nearly 60. As much as I'm healthy and all that, I almost died five years ago. Now, there was things outside of my control that happened that meant I ended up having a misdiagnosis for six months, and I had 60 blood tests and still didn't know one new doctor came along within 24 hours we had a prognosis. I had surgery. I had ... removed that was killing me and treatment, and I'm fine. Now, that process taught me a lot about where I choose to put my attention. And right now five years later, I also have choices about what I put my attention on. So, pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional as they say. Now, whether I go, oh well I've got pain or oh Gosh, I got this diagnosed for six months and almost died. It's like, oh, what can I do? So I kept going. I kept going, I'm choosing to find an answer. I am choosing to ... and at this point take care of myself in ways physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social. And so my pain level right now is almost zero. And yet a month ago, it was pretty high, in my body. But every moment I choose, I'm choosing to embrace what's happening to me now because that's the power. The moment I think it's all being done to me, then the pity comes in. Stephen Matini: It's called locus of focus. Carly Anderson: Ah ...! Stephen Matini: Yeah, essentially thinking that I'm fully equipped, I have the resources to choose, or someone else has chosen for me. Either the economy or, you know, Covid or whatever, it might be other people. You know, and it's um ... To me what you're saying is freedom, it is really having the freedom of choosing, it is the most incredible thing Carly Anderson: Yeah, but just to add to that, it is the words we say that matter. So for instance, I had cancer five years ago. I never called it that I said I had a visitor. Stephen Matini: A visitor! Carly Anderson: So no one around me who knew about it, could call it that, you had to call it the visitor, how’s the visitor, because that visitor was the mindset, and that's how I could choose. Now. To me, the cancer cells were a result of the tumor that was poisoning my system. So I was lucky that it was stage one and it was very treatable and you know, there was, my body was able to have blood infusions, and my bloody was able to recover within about 6, 8 months. And it was good. However, consciously choosing the words that we use about our life situation makes a difference, to the pity or not, to the locus of focus ... hands down. If I say every day, I don't sleep because sleep is one of my challenges. Last night I got seven hours of sleep in one without waking up. That hasn't happened in two years, literally. I'm working on it all the time from many different aspects. But if I said, and every day I say to myself, I am having, I'm going in with, I'm giving myself the best opportunity to have the best, most restful sleep versus, oh, I'm not sleeping well and it's affecting me and it's all bad! It's like the words I used to describe my experience matter and that's the same with our clients when we hear our clients saying, I don't believe this person is able to do the job. Well, okay, then they won’t. Or, I don't trust this person. Well, why not? What would have to change in the way you're viewing them, and the words we use, and how we then frame up our experience determines our experience. Stephen Matini: This is fun. You know, you're you're so precious. Thank you so much for the for for doing this with me for the time that you gave me. Carly Anderson: Such a delight. I was so excited to have this opportunity with you. Thank you for inviting me. Stephen Matini: Thank you for listening to this episode of Pity Party Over. As Carly pointed out, there's so much we say to ourselves that we don't hear, and when we cannot listen to ourselves, we don't hear others. So this episode is an invitation to all of you listening to create the necessary space to pause and listen. Leading people through change requires a carefully organized process. However, leveraging people's potential and boosting motivation entails, integrating a consultative, teaching and training approach with honest kind, authentic conversations. “Human to human” conversations mean creating space where people can be seen heard and acknowledged as a whole being. That is where fundamental transformation, actions and behavior change occur. Everybody wants results. The bottom line is made of profits, savings, outcomes and outputs. All these are good health indicators for an organization. The choice though is between focusing on results alone, or taking the time to listen to people to create relationships that deliver outstanding results. If you're interested in developing human to human conversations, you can contact me via email, LinkedIn or Twitter or sign up for a 60 minute complimentary Live Session. Please check the episode's notes for this information. If you enjoy this content, please subscribe to the Pity Party Over podcast available on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Google Podcasts, Spotify and many podcast platforms and apps. I also invite you to browse our leadership and managerial development programs at ALYGN. Alygn is spelled A L Y G N . company. Be happy be well and until we connect again, thank you for listening.
Tuesday Jul 05, 2022
Tuesday Jul 05, 2022
This episode explores the importance of being accountable for personal and professional success. Our special guest is Charles Panarella Assistant Director at Florida State University International Programs in Florence, Italy. Charlie is Italian-American with a Master’s degree in Italian Language and Culture and is currently completing his Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. In the episode, Charlie shares his experience helping college students find their voice by overcoming the victim mentality. Accountability is a crucial developmental step for the managers and leaders of tomorrow, and an awareness seasoned professionals need to leverage to perform at their best. Sign up for a free Live Session to learn how to boost accountability to drive results. Subscribe to Pity Party Over to be notified of new episodes. Listen to the episode on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Castbox, Castro, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Player FM, Pocket Cast, Pod Bay, Podbean App, Podchaser, Postcast Addict, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn. Subscribe to the PITY PARTY OVER blog Connect with Stephen via email Connect with Stephen on Twitter Connect with Stephen on LinkedIn Brought to you by ALYGN Organizational Consulting Connect with Charles on LinkedIn Connect with Charles on Instagram TRANSCRIPT Welcome to Pity Party Over, the podcast for people teams and organizations seeking practical ideas for results in greater happiness. I'm your host Stephen Matini. Let’s pause learn and move on. Pity Party Over is brought to you by www.alygn.company. Hi everyone I'm Stephen and welcome to Pity Party Over. In this episode we will focus on the importance of being accountable for personal and professional success. Our special guest is Charles Panarella, Assistant Director at florida State University International Programs in Florence, Italy. Charlie is Italian-American with a master's degree in Italian language and culture and is currently completing his PhD in applied linguistics from the University of Nevada las Vegas. In the episode Charlie shares his experience helping college students finding their voice by overcoming the victim mentality. Accountability is a crucial developmental step for the managers and leaders of tomorrow and an awareness seasoned professionals need to leverage to perform at their best. Stephen: You were born State Island New York, and I love when you talk about your dad, why don't you tell me something about your dad? Charlie: Yeah well he was a very special guy. I mean he grew up in the 20s, he was born in 1922. So basically he was you know part of it I kind of skipped a generation let's say, because he had me when he was 55 that was like another world unto itself in the United States that generations like the pre World War Two generation they have kind of like this. Let's say these characteristics of being a very tough skin, very hard nosed generation and stuff like that. So when he grew up in the twenties, you know, by the time he became conscious of his own life in terms of like, you know, when you're a child and you start to realize what's going on, uh the great depression had begun and the stock market crashed and stuff like that. And then, you know, my dad basically grew up on the street so he didn't have an education and maybe had a third grade education at best from what he told me. He couldn't really read or write so well. So all his experience and everything that he taught me was basically how he lived his life. And he passed on these different things to me, including the love for Italy, my cultural background and things like that. Yeah. He used to tell me all the time, you know, eventually he's like, I have my PhD in the street. He said, but he always used to say to me all the time, Charlie, you're green, you're green, you gotta learn, you gotta learn like it didn't happen until I was about 30 years old when we really felt like we were on the same page because for a while we didn't really see eye to eye, nothing that we didn't love each other. But I mean there were times when we weren't just we weren't on the same page, we weren't clicking, we weren't getting along, you know, I was like, I was missing him. He was missing me. And when I say miss, I mean misunderstanding and shortly after, you know, as time passed, my mom was on the phone with me and she's like, hey, you know, your dad wants to talk to you because it's on the phone, he starts telling me how proud he is of me and you know, I'm like 38 years old, 37 years old, waiting to hear this, you know? But after all these years, I'm like, you're saying, you know, because I don't have to worry about you anymore. You know, you can take care of yourself. You know, you don’t, you don't need me for certain things anymore. Um, you know what to do. The greatest compliment he ever gave me. He told me that I became the man he always wanted to be. Stephen: Oh, WOW! Charlie: Yeah. And I never, he was actually, he's the guy I always, it might want to be. So we had a mutual respect and love for each other was very deep. Stephen: You shared with me that it was a failed relationship that helped you gaining clarity of the route that you want to take, you know, with your profession. Charlie: So, you know, the fast forward a little bit, I end up going to college on the west Coast. Um, you know, I meet this girl and it's fantastic. You know, it's kind of like the first time I ever really fell in love with the girl and uh and so it happened later, I was 25 26 you know, um and this didn't work out and I was like thinking to myself all the time, like when my mom and dad taught me this, they said this is a family and this is the way this has got to be an etcetera etcetera etcetera. I'm thinking, I kept beating my head against the wall and thinking, what, what went wrong? I don't get it, I don't understand, this has to be something to do, this has to have something to do with my upbringing where I come from, but I think it goes deeper than New York, I go, I have to go to Italy, I have to go to Italy and find out if I'm crazy, right? So from the second that I got off the plane, I never had culture shock, everything was fine, everything was fantastic. It started reminding me of my childhood and stuff like that to myself. You know what, I don't think I'm crazy, I think I'm just probably a little Italian go, it was, it was like a second home. Yeah. And so I, I realized that that part of me that part of my identity was very strong and it was very important to me um you know, as well as, you know, certain things about the Italian-American side of things. The American side of it is that which is some of the things that I incorporated my classes that I guess we'll talk about um the mentality yeah it was very important to me so I came here because of that and it just kind of like set me on a path to what I'm doing. I really wanted to perfect Italian,I wanted to study Italian, I was like what better way to do that than to be a teacher and of Italian language. And then I said well besides that I want to go to Italy for an extended period of time, you know a week, you know American vacation a week or two, it's it's like flies by in a second year and before you know you're already back to work. I was like that's not enough, I go I need I need a month or two or three or whatever it is the summer. So being a teacher would offer that and that's how I ended up getting into education. Stephen: You are the assistant director at F.S.U., Florida State University. What would you sa that are are the biggest misconceptions about going to college? Charlie: I think people look at it as a place where somebody's gonna go, I'm gonna go to a class, somebody there's gonna be a teacher there who studied this material for X. Amount of years and they're gonna magically insert information into my brain and I'm gonna be able to take this information and I'm gonna just go out in the world and I'm gonna be successful and I'm gonna, you know, overcome everything and everything's gonna be fantastic. I think that's one of the things that is something that it's a misconception, it's also maybe a little misconception, I'm maybe thinking of this now that, you know, students absorb a lot of these things, you know, it's not the students are not just numbers, they're not just, you know, there to just write papers that they're individuals human beings. So part of education in my opinion, and this is what my dad used to tell me all the time. He's tell me Charlie teach him about life. I feel that if we're gonna have a person in front of us as a, as a as a teacher, as a professor, I signed the moral contract with them already to, you know, not to hold their hand, but you know, to give them whatever I can personally, that that will help them succeed, not to lie to them, not to make them feel good about things. Of course I want them to feel good, but also that life is not fair all the time, but they don't have to beat themselves down. They don't have to feel like defeated or they feel like, you know that the world is against them, I want them to be able to accept these things and be able to say, okay, how can I create a plan to succeed, how can I get around this? How can I have this fire in my body that gives me that will that I want to conquer these problems and these problems and these issues. Stephen: It's interesting because different people approach teaching differently when I got into this, I never planned to teach, it was actually a friend of mine who said, I think you would like this. I walked into the classroom, I saw the students and I had this sense of warmth, you know, they were smiling. I don't know, I fell in love with it right away and I think now I know how what was the feeling, because I've been teaching for, what is it 11 years now, so it's been a while. Charlie: It’s the same for me. Stephen: And I think what I, most of all what I what drives me is I think I wanna be the type of person that I very often I could not find when I was a student. Charlie: Well one of the things that hit me more than anything and this is at the beginning of my teaching career, I was at a college in Manhattan where it's like I always say this it's kind of half true and half not, but you know, some of the kids are like going to jail and they're just getting out of jail. I mean they had it was a rough school great kids though because when I was there after my first semester was the toughest because I had to get, it was like I would say it was like a scene out of dangerous minds because nobody's paying attention. People are throwing notes across the room, that kind of thing. Um And I go into my chair and I told her, I said Maria, I go, these kids can't go through life like this. And she looked at me and she goes Charlie, it's not hard, they just need somebody to care about them and you're gonna be fine. And I looked I looked both ways inside of me and I'm like that's it, that's all I have to do. She says, yeah, just do that, trust me and you'll be fine. Stephen: When you and I shared ideas for this episode. You pointed out the importance of losing the victim's mentality. I find this concept crucial in the developmental path of all of us students included. Charlie: If they don't root out this way of thinking early on in life, it doesn't mean that they can't get out of it. And I think it may be a little bit harder. But what's gonna happen is they're going to put themselves in situations now that they're gonna have to dig themselves out of a hole. Why? Because there's this negativity hole that they've been digging for 30 years or 20 years or 15 years however long it takes them to quote unquote, wake up from being a victim and I think one of the things that I see all the time is like. It's good that you want to express yourself. It's good that you want to talk about things. It's good that you bring things to light. But I want to know what are you gonna do about it? You know, I use, I use Navy Seals, the United States Navy Seals for special forces soldiers, some of the best in the world, apparently from what they say. And this is the kind of mentality that you guys, these individuals that go in these dangerous situations. They choose to be there and not only do they choose to be there, they actually think positive, believe it or not. So I'm not telling you this just to make you feel good. You know, if these guys can do that at that level, think about what you can accomplish as a civilian, as somebody who can is focused on their personal goals, your everyday life and that the imminent danger that your life is in danger is not there, but but hold on, I told him I go, I don't think that there isn't a danger because there is a danger. Your danger is invisible. Your danger is slow. Your danger can happen after 10 years of thinking in a way that's gonna be detrimental to you. So, you start at this starting point and little by little you go off the track, it's like a train track that goes off this path and then one day you wake up and you save yourself, “Well how did I end up here?” Well you ended up there about 10 years ago. We weren't thinking when you weren't looking at life the right. So to have this mentality that I can't do it or the world is against me or they want to make excuses all the time and why they can't do something. My answer is there's a solution to everything, find a solution. And if you can't find a solution that is quote on quote easy because everybody looks for the you know the most efficient, easy way to go. Sometimes the solution is not gonna be easy but the only way to get from point A to point B is to get that mentality in your head, get on you get on your feet and press forward and keep going until you get you have to will it at some point because sometimes there is an answer but the answer is not going to be simple and what are you supposed to do? You have a way to do it? But if you choose not to take that role and do it, your solution is never gonna happen. So you have to persevere, you have to lose the victim mentality in thinking that I need somebody to help me, I need somebody to you know to pick me up. But what happens if you find somebody like that which is fantastic because I love I love talking with people like you especially, you know, who believes in these kind of things. But what happens if Stephen is not there? What happens if Charlie is not there? What are you supposed to do? Okay, that's it. Game's over. I try to get them to put the focus back on themselves and give them control of their life because as a victim, you don't have control. You're giving control to the outside world. And if you let the outside world control you to that degree, you're gonna feel even worse because you feel like, oh I can't do anything because the control has not been, it's not been put back inside once you decide that I have control and I had my way of looking at this and approaching this, even if it's a bad situation, you're gonna already feel better because you're in control Stephen: What you're saying, it is really the core of this podcast. I think it's normal to have a pity party to feel a victim. And it's really, really hard when you made a bunch of decisions in the past, thinking that you were doing the right thing, but you still end up in a place that you never hope to be. That's really, really hard. In your opinion, what is it that some people seem to be able to overcome that victim mentality and other people get stuck? Charlie: Well let's talk about these quote unquote talented people, the ones who have it easy. So there's 500 NBA players that exist that are on teams that's usually the number of approximately. You can take the worst NBA player and some videos of this on on Youtube. The worst NBA player put them against some of the top college basketball players in the United States or even maybe in like a G league or whatever it is and they will wipe the floor. And I'm talking about guys that scored like 200 points in their ten-year career, which is next to nothing. You know, just goes to show the talent level that exists. Well, why is there this disparity between someone who is so talented at the 500 rank position in the N.B.A. and like Michael Jordan. What’s the difference? The difference is, is the mentality they have to push themselves to work hard. They have to push themselves to be the best of the best at that point because now the competition is so stiff, they have to find any angle that they can and it's a curve that increases at a decreasing rate. So you're going to be very, very good at this. But your progress may be very, very slow. But these people are so driven, so interested in being the best or perfecting whatever they want to perfect that they end up becoming out of the school of people who are so gifted, quote on quote hating and using that term. Um that they become the best of those people. So, you know, it's not just, it's not just people who who don't know have, let's say advantages or quote on quote talents, we're talking aboutIt shows up among people who have high level high ability in doing things. Stephen: There are infinite nuances between the victim mentality and taking responsibility for our life. You mentioned the importance of understanding what fear is and how fear plays between these two apparent opposites. Would you mind telling me more about fear? Charlie: Yeah. So I think everybody's afraid all the time. I was um you know, I was always scared of like, well, what's gonna happen, I don't know what's gonna happen. Now, Michael Jordan brought this, you know, and I kind of stole this from him because Michael Jordan's said, fear is an illusion. Fear is when I'm not sure of my skills, I've been nervous before, but I've never been afraid because I'm confident in my skills. So basically, um I think fear comes from the unknown and I think the unknown can be like, you know, the same thing with these these special forces soldiers and things like that when they've been through situations, you know, and practice these situations when the time comes when it's real. They've done this so many times, that there is no fear. Of course there's this innate nervousness that they have as anybody would because they want, they want to succeed to have that desire, that adrenaline's flowing through your body, but they're not afraid though. There's a difference. You know, and I think when you're afraid, you're afraid because you think something bad is gonna happen, I'm not sure how I'm gonna do, I'm not sure that I have the ability to do this. They know they have the ability, they're just nervous that maybe this time I might miss it or not make it, it's not the ability. They know they can do it. It could be the 20%, like, for example, if they make the shot seven out of 10 times because nobody's perfect. They're nervous that it's gonna be the three times they miss it, as opposed to the seven times they make it because they know they can do it. Whereas somebody who doesn't believe in themselves, it's going to be afraid of everything because they're gonna be afraid of failure. If I'm gonna fail, I'm gonna lose, I'm gonna, something bad is gonna happen. Um, but at the same time, I think they sit there and think to themselves instead of something good happening tomorrow, which is possible. They always think something bad is gonna happen, something, what if this happens, what if it doesn’t, what if something good happens? So what they do, they're always like thinking of every which way that they're going to, they're not going to succeed. But in the, in the reality, if you, even if you don't succeed and you have to get over this fear of, quote unquote failure, even if you don't succeed, what can you learn from that failure? One of the Navy Seals that I used to follow, that he passed away because of cancer. But one of the things he said, he read this quote on a pamphlet when he was being, you know, when he was interested in becoming a navy seal, he said there's two ways that a man can lose when he quits and when he dies, which means that if you don't decide to give up as long as you're alive, you got a chance. Stephen: Never thought that way (laughing). Charlie: So wait, I mean, so, you know, it's over. I tell the kids, I'm like, listen, it's over when you decided it's over and what's what's gonna happen. You know, are you gonna die from this? If you go and talk to that CEO if you write an email to a company or if you decide that you want to open up a business, what's gonna happen to you really? Are you gonna die because of this, 99.9% of the time, it's not gonna happen. You know, who knows? You may have that weird situation, but I mean, nothing bad is gonna come of it. So if you get that out of your head, that nothing bad is gonna happen and who cares that fear is no longer there because you know what you're doing, you're focusing on development instead of a, an outcome. And that's one of the things they talk about in this book, “Mindset” by Carol Dweck, who is a professor at the University of Stanford, Stanford University is that if you focus on development, your focus on getting better. So there is no failure because development means that I'm gonna learn as I go as every level, I'm gonna make mistakes, I'm gonna fix it, I'm gonna learn what to do next and so on and so on, and I'm gonna keep continuing to become an expert, even if I'm really good at something because I'm not practicing or if I'm not really good at something, I can get better at it if I practice. So that outcome, that moment in time doesn't define who I am. What's more important is the journey. And I always say that Tom Brady, he won seven super bowls. Well, Tom Brady didn’t, he had seven days of his 20 year NFL career that he had that moment of feeling that he won a championship the other 10,000 days or however many days that I haven't done the math, what was he doing? He was practicing. So he wasn't a champion, he didn't win the Super Bowl every day for 20 years. He wanted seven times, which is seven days out of a 20 year career. So the focus shouldn't be the end result. The focus should be the development the process that you go through. Even even professional athletes have to learn how to lose before they win because they don’t, they don't develop the grit, they don't develop that perseverance. They don't develop these certain things that, that take, let's say a sustained because if you want to sustain success, you have to have these things, you have to have these qualities because if you just get lucky, you know, and things happen to go right for you, which can happen, but you're not mentally prepared for what's gonna come next. If something wrong happens, you have no idea how to handle a crisis. Stephen: I think it's almost inevitable that you blame yourself, you lose faith and you lose your strength. I so wish that I that I knew back then. What I know now, not completely, because now I know, as you said, truly it is a process and it's gonna be uncomfortable many times, it's not going to go the way that I want, but it is true, bettering myself that eventually I'm gonna get there. Charlie: And then once you get to the point where you're comfortable with being, nothing really bothers you, you know, and maybe it does, but you know how to handle how to channel that energy. Stephen: Well, sometimes despite our best efforts, we are in a funk, we feel miserable about our abilities about life in general. So when you feel discouraged, not motivated, what is one of the best way for you to pity party over, to get out of the funk? Charlie: If something like bad happens to me, I basically try to piss myself off because the more I get aggravated, the more I get this, this fire man, I don't have to explain it anymore, but I just need to win, I need to conquer. I need to figure out a way, I don't care if it comes hell or high water, I am gonna get to the other side of this problem. So I get to the point where if something happens, I really think about like even I have to trick my mind because it's something I kind of picked up from some of the things I read about Michael Jordan's basically, there were times when he got on the court and maybe he wasn't feeling at that, he was like, you know, I feel an average, but tonight it's an important game. So he'd be going up against people that maybe he'd never played against before. They, I mean they obviously knew who he was, but these are like just average guys and stuff like that. He walked on the court and then then they walked up to him like you know, a good game and have a good, have a good game, whatever good luck. And he looked at them and he would say, I heard what you said about and the guy looks at me goes what I say, I don't even know you, it was the first time I met you, he goes, I heard what you said about me tonight, you're gonna pay for it and he would, he would come up with some kind of crazy way to motivate himself to get him aggravated like this person is trying to stop me from reaching my goal, this person is trying to prevent me from doing what I want to do. So I started doing that and the more I started thinking about even if it wasn't true, people telling me I couldn't do something or you'll never do that or you don't have the buildings, you you don’t, you don’t, you don't understand, the more it would piss me off to make me want to do it even more. So the second that I run up against the problem, the first thing that goes in my head is alright, here we go, it's time for me to turn on the power all the way and now I'm gonna, now I'm going to destroy this problem in front of me, 100,000%. Stephen: Basically channeling your energy. Charlie: Absolutely yeah, it's a way for me to challenge my energy and you know, I think some of it comes naturally now because you get into these habits, they could be good habits or bad habits. So I started saying to myself, I want to develop good habits. So these good habits of attacking problems is well what's the quickest way to get to a solution, Start doing something that's going to get you to a solution, did you do everything that you could have done Charlie and if the answer is yes. Alright, let's find another way to figure this out if the answer is no, I'm gonna be disappointed in myself because why I let this happen and this is and this is what I tried to tell the students this victimization, this this victim mentality, you know what you're doing? My parents did this to me, society did this to me, this did this to me. No, you did this to yourself. Nobody's saying that other people don't have advantages and disadvantages. There could be people who are born in rich families that fall flat on their face because they have all the advantages in the world, but they don't take it, they don't take advantage of them and what happens, they just they they fail because they don't have they don't they don't take responsibility for themselves. Stephen: So if professionals, anyone really educated students needed to get in touch with you to talk about any of these topics, how could they find you? Charlie: They can find me on LinkedIn I'm on there. Um I mean even like just on the F.S.U. website there's that as well. Um I have an Instagram account. I just got to post videos and stuff like that about food because I go around Italy, I'm a food lover. So I always put it's all it's all pictures of Italy and food has nothing to do with motivation. I mean it's another avenue, I suppose the content. Stephen: Maybe there could be an angle to get into motivation through through food. Charlie: Yeah exactly. I'm always motivated to eat so ah ah ... Stephen: Thank you for listening to this episode of Pity Party Over. In the episode Charlie and I loosely used the victim mentality expression to highlight the importance of being accountable to avoid negativity. In psychology, a victim mentality indicates a learned behavior characterized by helplessness, often evolving as a defense mechanism to cope with adverse life events. People who constantly blame other people or situations for their misfortunes have a victim mentality. When we are stuck with no apparent way out ,we may experience different degrees of the victim mentality. We might not have caused the circumstances we experience but we always have the freedom to change the outcome based on how we respond and that's our responsibility, and greatest freedom. As Charlie pointed out, get comfortable at getting uncomfortable, knowing that success comprises both winning and losing. You may start by identifying small things you can take to make a positive difference. Focus on development rather than the outcome. If you have any questions pertaining how to develop accountability, you can find my contact information in these episodes notes. If you enjoy this content, you may subscribe to my podcast or blog Pity Party Over and we can also connect on Twitter and LinkedIn. I invite you to visit a website, alygn.company. ALYGN is spelled A L Y G N . company where you can find many routes for managerial and leadership development. Be happy, be well and until we connect again, thank you for listening.
Thursday Jun 23, 2022
Thursday Jun 23, 2022
This episode explores the importance of resilience for leadership development. Our special guest is Maria Giovanna Vianello, Global Leadership Development Consultant at Novartis, a well-known Swiss-American multinational pharmaceutical corporation. In Maria’s experience, “Leadership is not the power you are giving yourself, but the power people give you because of the role model you represent.” Maria has been dealing with type 1 diabetes since she was a kid. Her story shows how our biggest struggles might reveal our life mission, in her case, helping leaders reach their highest potential. Resilience for Maria is being “mindfully tenacious,” which combines perseverance and taking care of her body. Resilience requires incremental proactive steps and avoiding perfectionism, which depletes adaptation resources. Sign up for a free Live Session to learn how to develop resilience. Subscribe to Pity Party Over to be notified of new episodes. Listen to the episode on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Castbox, Castro, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Player FM, Pocket Cast, Pod Bay, Podbean App, Podchaser, Postcast Addict, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn. Subscribe to the PITY PARTY OVER blog Connect with Stephen via email Connect with Stephen on Twitter Connect with Stephen on LinkedIn Brought to you by ALYGN Organizational Consulting Connect with Maria Giovanna Vianello on LinkedIn Transcript Stephen Matini - Welcome to Pity Party Over, the podcast for people teams and organizations seeking practical ideas for results in greater happiness. I'm your host, Stephen Matini, let’s pause, learn, and move on. Pity Party Over is brought to you by ALYGN, A L Y G N . company. Hi everyone I'm Stephen and welcome to this episode of Pity Party Over. How are you? Today we will talk about the importance of resilience for leadership development. For many resilience equates to toughness and elasticity. Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Also it is the ability of a substance to spring back into shape. Essentially life has ups and downs and resilience is how long it takes me to get up when I experience a significant changes, setbacks and disappointments. The special guest for this episode of Pity Party over is Maria Giovanna Vianello. Maria's Italian, she's a global leadership development consultant at Novartis, a well known Swiss-American Multinational Pharmaceutical Corporation where Maria has worked for almost 10 years. Maria has a master of business administration and a master of science in business and organizational psychology. Currently she's completing her PhD in transformative studies at the California Institute of integral Studies. In this episode Maria shares how her hardships helped her become resilient and also unveiled her mission to help leaders do the same. Maria Giovanna Vianello - I was reading your questions and truly thinking about resilience and when did I realize that I had to be resilient in my life? When did I truly develop consciousness about it? When it was natural? What did I keep from my natural attitude? You know when I was young, for example, I mean, you know my life story, you know, I was struggling with with you know, health issues since I was very young. And so I, I believe that there was a some, some sort of traumatic event, not a fast moving event, a kind of a slow moving event, but in any case it had a huge impact in my life. And so what did I leverage of that throughout my life? Stephen Matini - If resilience were a percentage, what percentage would you say is your natural resilience, your natural attitude and how much of resilience you have acquired through learning and anything that you've done? Maria Giovanna Vianello - I think my natural percentage will be around 65%. Which I think it's above 50, so sounds good to me. Uh but still, when I'm in very challenging situations, I need to do something else. In addition I need to almost pose, take a deep breath and tell myself, okay, wait, you need to do something else. Your natural level of resilience is not enough. You need to strengthen your, your capabilities to go to the next level where things will maybe not look easier, but you can get through this challenging experience in one way or the other. And uh and at the same time, because I think that is part of the consciousness, um you can take care of yourself in the process because maybe now that I'm thinking about my own natural resilience level, maybe that can be pretty high, but I could have the tendency maybe even 75% without thinking about it, right? I can go through stuff, you know head down, do move and progress. But then if I do that and I don't take care of myself, then there is a moment when the all ecosystem, the all infrastructure boom ... falls apart and this is when you have to to deal with challenges and troubles and and it can be confusing daunting and just and then you lose time and you lose resources and you don't know when you can recover because you are completely out of your control. Stephen Matini - So I can be resilient, but I also need to take care of myself in the process. Maria Giovanna Vianello - I think that was a huge part of my personal development, I would say most probably during the past 5-6 years or so, I realized how much taking care of my mind was important but my body, it's connected with the mind. And so unless you usually properly you drink, you hydrate yourself properly, you drink enough water, you allow yourself to eat nutritious food almost like celebrating yourself like a gift. So to say you cannot be truly completely resilient. Stephen Matini - What does resilience mean for those who do not know what resilience is, and what does resilience mean to you? Maria Giovanna Vianello - I think that more or less universally and here I just go back to my coaching and leadership development, you know know how ah it's the capacity to bend and not to break metaphorically when you are dealing with a challenging situation. You adapt, you re-adapt and adapt over and over again and you can make sense of yourself why you're doing that. So it's not just happening by chance because that is not enough. And for me it's more or less the same with the, with the addition of uh you know specifically caring of about your health, it's crucial and that is my, you know, my additional understanding was there. I thought for a long time that learning things from books and and and studying and then be very diligent in my job, taking care of every task in in challenging times. I can do things uh and I can do things and to end and top quality and so I am resilient because even if there is a lot of mess, I can go through the mess and see things through, right? But that's not enough because if you don't take care of yourself, you will be in trouble from your letter. And that's I think a very recent, maybe the most recent learning about resilience as a process of it all. Stephen Matini - For some people, resilience is a synonym for perseverance, tenacity, determination. But you seem to have a different explanation, a different, a different way to explain what resilience is which is mostly connected to taking care of myself 360°. Maria Giovanna Vianello - I think it's it's about being tenacious but with awareness, be mindful later nations because when you are tenacious, you are using resources in your body and because of the adrenaline under pressure, you are resilient because you are under pressure and so you have to deliver, deliver, deliver. And with the adrenaline you don't feel the pain in the body. You don't feel you maybe need to drink some water to eat nutritious food. Okay. I don't really need to sleep every night ... 78 hours. I just who cares. I have a lot of things to do and so you go on and on and on and you are tenacious and maybe you will get at the end of the process and you will achieve the results and you will go through the mess. But at the end, how long would it take to recover and what if something else happened in the meantime, when is the resilience reaching you know the edge of your own capacity? Because I think there is an edge for that and and that's the end. And so what can you do to prolong that? To avoid that you reach the ceiling almost this glass ceiling and there's nothing else you can do about it. But if you are tenacious and mindful about being tenacious, I think that makes you resilient. Stephen Matini - How do you become mindfully resilient? Maria Giovanna Vianello - I don't know how in general, I know what for me. Um I think we in general as human being, maybe because of the school system, since we are very young, we are inclined to think that we have to do things aiming for perfection? Mhm That's beautiful, right? Achieving perfection is beautiful, but I don't think that is crucial in an extremely challenging, complex situation when you don't know how things would develop. So to me, it's not about perfection, it's taking things step by step, being compassionate with myself in the process, finding time to acknowledge and celebrate every tiny tiny little step. I can share my example. Recently I moved back from, from Singapore to Europe, back to Italy to my home country. I organized the move and the old logistic in in three weeks I had to do most of the things on my own, booking flights organizing the move and all that sort of stuff that you do when you are moving across the world. Stephen Matini - Yes Maria Giovanna Vianello - Then I arrived back to my country and I realized that it's almost more complex to move back in your own country rather than being an expat in a foreign country, right? Because if you are an expat, someone will tell you what you are supposed to do. But if you are back in your country, you're supposed to know everything about rules, regulations and permits and and and and everything. So I realized, oh my God, I am on my own, how am I gonna do that? Right, just crazy. What am I gonna do with the, with the custom for for the move? How am I going to rent an apartment? How do I get my documents? How do I open a bank account? I mean, these are all the basics, right? But even that for me was extremely challenging. But to do that, um I have to do things step by step very slowly uh Giving myself the time, acknowledging that I cannot do 10 things per day because that will be too tiring and I mean, I will expose myself to, to doing mistakes. But if I do tiny incremental steps every day, I can achieve way more. And if I do any of the things one at a time, even if I do a mistake, it's going to be a tiny little mistake. Not a big one because I'm engaging with, with a small step and, and with those tiny incremental steps, uh you can almost assess your own well being in the process because you are not rushing too much. And that made a huge difference. So If you ask me after a month, I moved back on April 27. Now it's ah you know, June six a mouth and a week. Do I feel tired? Yes. Did I achieved what I needed to achieve? Almost. Um Am I fulfilled satisfied at ease with the process that I'm facing, I do. When I go to bed at night can fall asleep, which is amazing and priceless. And that's because I did all these tiny little incremental steps and again, I did some mistakes and it's not over yet and it's going to take, I think a couple more months to finalize everything. I mean I don't have a driving license and I need to go through a, the approval process to get my driving license because it expired when in 2020. So because of Covid, I could not travel back to my country to renew the driving license. And so I need authorization from the, you know, it's all complex and, and I can not fix this in one day. But I know that one step at a time I can also deal with that part. It's not perfect because I need a car. Honestly, I would really like to be able to drive a car to go around instead of taking public transportation and then walking. I mean it takes me twice the time to go from one place to the other. But again, it's not about perfection. There's nice weather outside and I walk and I tell people I'm running five minutes late. I'm so sorry, but I don't have a car. So please can you wait for me? And that's how it's working for me right now. Stephen Matini - And it's bizarre because when you get back to your country, you are in a place that in the meantime has changed. You have changed. So it's like almost to move to a foreign country in many ways. Maria Giovanna Vianello - Yes, it is. And and it's all about having the right expectations. Again, it's not about perfection because if I would have expected that everything was perfectly falling in place, moving back, I would be right now, extremely disappointed. Stephen Matini - You were mentioning earlier on that experiences that you went through when you were young. Also some health concerns might have contributed to your natural resilience. So, I know quite a bit of you because of our friendship, because of our our professional doings. But for our listeners, I would like to ask you where you grew up and how those experiences have shaped also your your professional choices, the professional direction that you took. Maria Giovanna Vianello - I grew up in a, in a family of doctors, physicians where be perfectly in tune with your body and taking care of yourself was crucial. And and I mean it was normal, right? The other part of my family, they were teachers. And so again, that was about perfection, getting things right, learning and and and being a very proficient student at school, that that was also part of, you know, of my family context. And so when I was diagnosed, I was nine years old, I was diagnosed with diabetes type one, which is an incurable disease. You have to leave for the rest of your life out of the blue because it was an immune reaction to, to an infection, something like that. So my body overreacted to an infection. My family was extremely concerned because they were not used to deal with unhealthy people in the family. We were very lucky, you know, and and I was the first one with a real disease that require injections 4,5, 6 times per day. And uh, and how do you allow yourself as a parent to, to help your daughter to develop the capacity to inject herself with medication when she is nine years old. I mean it's it's it's just unbelievable. I think my parents did an amazing job to keep me accountable and it wasn't a walk in the park, but I had to step up and be responsible for myself and the price to pay for not being responsible because when you're very young and you are, you know, just a kid, what is responsibility really I want to play and it foods that other kids eat, but I couldn’t, that was very dangerous for me. I mean, not impossible but dangerous. Uh, and so when you have to take care of yourself to, to the degree of uh being aware that if you eat a certain amount of, of something, you will trigger some reaction in your body that will be very negative. And so that is extremely challenging for a young kid, I had to develop the capacity to to take care of myself despite the odds. Despite this extreme situation, despite my family being extremely concerned, I had to build trust to make sure that they can trust me. I had to build trust with them. So I had to show up is a very responsible person who can get things done from end to end can take care of herself. And uh and I have to be reliable but to be reliable. I have to learn from mistakes because unfortunately everybody is unique. Everybody reacts differently to medications and so you have to learn by mistakes basically that took me a lot of energy, a lot of devotion for my, you know, for taking care of my disease, A lot of positive thinking because being upset that was just being in trouble. Stephen Matini - Your family taught you or you figured it out? Maria Giovanna Vianello - We were learning together. There was no way to learn. There was, you know, at that time. I mean that was more than 30 years ago. There was no Internet or not reliable sources on Internet or anything like that. There were no books. Um, not so many people. I mean there is a small percentage with people with diabetes, type I. There are many people that have diabetes type II, but type I is, it's very limited. So unless you really have met in your life, somebody who has that specific disease, even doctors sometimes struggle to give you specific indications that they can give you a approximate instruction. But you have to try and so you have to go back to the doctor every 4 to 5 weeks and check again over and over and over again 4 to 5 weeks if you are doing good if you are not, it's almost a daily trip to the doctor to check your blood sugar level and especially when you are young and and almost on going up and down your blood sugar level is going up and down. And that can be very dangerous, especially during the night, you can fall asleep and you don't wake up and that's um, that's extremely dangerous because there's no oxygen to your brain to do all the things we have to learn together. We have to be very patient with each other. I think my family sometimes was very scared, but because I realized that if I would show up in those moments where it was very difficult to make a decision about, you know, dosage of medications uh if I show up with the attitude of trust me, we can try and see and I will take care of myself for the next 10, 12 hours, don't worry, everything is gonna be fine with that mindset. They were giving me the chance to try and so be resilient, allow me to grow up and to practice and and learn by mistakes. And today, after 32 years of this very impactful disease, I must say I am healthy, I do sports and I have a meaningful life which challenges of course like everyone, but I wouldn't say that I have more challenging situations to deal with compared to someone who is not diabetic. So um I have a normal life and that that's because I'm resilient I think, but I learned resilience when I was very young. Stephen Matini - How this impacted your professional choices? Maria Giovanna Vianello - That’s a marvelous question, because that had a huge impact on my professional choices. My passion for supporting people, transformation, uh leadership development, coaching, which is you know, the core component of my job and what gives me energy every day. Um that is all connected with the idea that I was so lucky in my life to meet people that from very early stages helped me to develop, to grow to make decisions, people that were not telling me what to do, but they were rather holding the space for me helping me to think about different perspectives, see reality from different angles they were holding the mirror and giving me the chance to face, you know what I was experiencing. And that helped me a lot. And so I decided what if I can do that for other people, I am supposed to be quite experience, I'm not saying that I'm good at that, but I'm definitely quite experienced because I learned from practicing and I had to and I will never stop because my disease will stay with me for the rest of my life. So because of that, why why don't I use that just to help other people, why why not leveraging something that was an issue for me to help other people to unleash their potential to generate more positive energy in their life, not necessarily to get a better version of themselves. I believe we are already the most beautiful version of ourselves, but just sometimes we miss the awareness of that with the work I do, how I can help people to understand that they are amazing and beautiful and powerful and there is no limit to what they can achieve because of my experience because of all the pain I went through and uh and because I am definitely an example that there are no boundaries, there are no limits, you can always overcome challenges, maybe sometimes what you are missing, it's only another angle on the problem that you're not seeing. But as a coach, as a leadership development practitioner, I can help you to see that and with that you can go to the next level of your life, your existence and and do amazing things. Stephen Matini - How old were you when you decided to get into human resources? Maria Giovanna Vianello - I think I started with the idea that I was very good at solving problems, that was my first step and I was around 17 years old, 17, maybe 16, something like that young, you know, before starting a real job, I could say, oh my God, I was at school, I mean doing some, you know some, some school projects and I could just see myself very passionate about solving problems. And then I took another intermediate step when I realized okay I can be quite efficient in the problem solving thing, but it will be way more efficient if I can help other people to solve their own problems and I don't you know I don't get myself tired of solving other people's problems so I have them, I don't tell them what to do, but there are ways to help them and then the next step after that was okay. What if I do not only help people to solve their problems? What if I help people to transform to evolve to mature? And this is where you know I think 10 years ago I decided that coaching a leadership development where my my sandbox, so to say a place where I can bring my experience into the game and without pretending that I know creating a safe space to have conversations about each other challenges and grow together. Stephen Matini - So based on your experience, why resilience is necessary as a leader? Maria Giovanna Vianello - I think because when you are a leader, formal or not, I mean it doesn't matter if you really have a proper job title Leader of something. We are all leaders in our life. That's something I strongly believe when you are a human being, you should role model, that challenges can be overcome can be dealt with. That there is hope that there are possibilities and possibilities are literally endless and it's up to you. But the way you show up the resilience, you you spread around the world with your family, with your friends, with your colleagues, that is, you know, something that would make the difference in the life of other people. And again, it's incremental, it's tiny, tiny, tiny, it's it's not about delivery worship on resilience, but it's literally every day, how can I show to other people that life is full of possibilities despite we're all facing so many challenges over and over and over every day. Stephen Matini - I think there's a misconception. There's a misconception about leadership as something ... some sort of power you have to influence people whichever way. And from a leadership development standpoint. Also based on what you're saying, the biggest chunk is actually taking care of yourself into becoming mindful as a leader. So you can set the example. I always love to say that people look up for consistency and you cannot lead people, you cannot influence people if people don't see the very specific behavior you want them to acquire, in you, if you don’t walk the talk. Maria Giovanna Vianello - If you show up to your team tired not caring about yourself, how do you pretend that people will then be able to continue to do their task, their job despite all the complexity they are facing. If you are not showing up the way you want them to show up. The power of a leader is the capacity to influence other through their own actions, not through the words because words are beautiful and I mean people can say a lot of amazing things, don't get me wrong, but then it's action that makes the difference. And if your action is not consistent with the word, this is where leadership, it's not sustainable and it's not what makes the difference and it's just confusing and and you don't have credibility. So yes, I think leadership is about power but it's not the power you are giving yourself. It's the power other people assign you. Because of the role model you represent. Stephen Matini - It seems to me that you believe that resilience can be taught, resilience can be developed. When resilience is low, and you are a leader, what to do? Where would you start based on what you have learned, not just on yourself but also helping others, you know, developing their resilience. Maria Giovanna Vianello - I think it's about taking time short amount of time. Again we are talking about small, tiny incremental steps in the right direction, taking time to reflect in a challenging situation, maybe a few minutes per day when you wake up or when you go to bed, how many times during the day was I resilient enough in front of my family, with my friends, with my colleagues, how resilient do I feel well that's do I need? Which kind of support help do I need to increase my resilience, my capacity to stay strong despite the challenges I'm facing, taking care of myself, how can I do that, What do I need because I think there is no perfect recipe and every time the way you develop resilience in different situations can be completely different. My way to recharge is making sure that I have some outdoor time, maybe even half an hour every day. That's my resilience building resilience time, right? So if we can all find a small amount of time every day, 10 5 minutes, our resilient time dedicated to resilience, I think that will be sufficient to turn that tiny little muscle that we all have into something stronger and stronger and stronger. But it's a matter of not doing that overnight because we can attend worship on resilience to learn techniques and there are plenty, we can read books on resilience, we can spend times with resilience guru that's all possible and extremely, extremely useful. But if at the end of the day we do not take the time to practice consistently. It is irrelevant. Stephen Matini - One of the most frequent misconception that I see is underestimating the organizational context, there's a lot of focus on what's happening outside, you know, as a leader, you're supposed to be strategic, you're supposed to read it very well the external environment but there's not quite full awareness of the organizational climate. And so often times in the past that had leaders, they want to initiate programs, even leadership development program without preparing the organizational context, without doing the work on themselves to set the example and as a result the leadership program could have been really great but then those people that went through that training that coaching inevitably were faced with a lot of barriers. So one of the misconceptions that I've seen is an excessive focus on the outside more than the inside. Before you said that when you were talking about the definition of resilience, you said it is I believe you said it's the ability to bend so for you, the perfect metaphor for resilience. What would it be like? Like a bamboo for some people is like you know it's water, it's a rubber band. What would it be? The metaphor for you? Maria Giovanna Vianello - I think it's a bamboo in the wind, very strong wind. Think about Japan, you know one of my favorite countries, whether it's that strong strong wind in winter, you can literally see bamboo bending in ways that you say, how is that thing not breaking right, how come? But the bamboo, it's very flexible, it is strong but it's also extremely flexible. Almost never break. Stephen Matini - The reason why this podcast is called Pity Party Over is an expression that I used to say all right I am sick and tired of this situation, I had it enough and now I'm going to move forward. And so when ... you are resilient, for sure, I've seen you through literally thick and thin and I'm always surprised to see how resilient you are ... When you have a moment of pity party, you know I feel really bad about the situation or myself, is there any specific way, favorite way to pity party, you feel, you know, self indulgently sorry for yourself? Maria Giovanna Vianello - Sometimes when I do mistakes that are public, when I do something and people really notice that I did something there's no doubt and I screwed up and in the open, right literally under the spotlight and it's no way I did it and sometimes it's I did it again because sometimes I can be pretty repetitive in some of my mistakes. That is usually those moments where I get very upset with myself. I learned to spend less time about complaining about myself and my mistakes done in public because usually I do mistakes in public. But yes that's my time where I am just again. No. Stephen Matini - Well when that happens, what do you do? Do you spend time alone and do you sob do you what do you do? Maria Giovanna Vianello - I developed a very fruitful relationship with food. Food influences my my mood right a lot. And so if I really have a bad day, I try to prevent myself a proper dinner, nutritious food, not junk food. Absolutely. But I really take care of something I can control take is done. Everybody knows about it. It's going to take a couple of days to fix it. Reputation has been impacted. I can be pretty harsh with myself as you can hear because maybe if you talk to my colleagues, they will say oh no, come on. What are you talking about? But I, I can be, you know, pretty strong. I have a pretty strong opinion about myself. So that’s, that's what I'm talking about. And in that case I really give myself time and space to relax and, and with food. Stephen Matini - So food is one of the way that you overcome a difficult moment. Like you're taking care of yourself through food, which you said before, be mindful of how you treat yourself eating well. Is there any other things that you would like to share with the listeners on how you overcome that bump? Maria Giovanna Vianello - Again, that's something very personal and maybe it’s, it's something silly, but I buy myself flowers, nothing super fancy. But I buy myself flowers and usually put the flowers on my desk close to my laptop where I work and every time during the day where I feel, oh my God, now I have to deal with this challenge and it's going to be a challenge. I will be facing for a few weeks a month or so. I look at the flowers and I feel better. I don't know why, but maybe they are called and fragrant and, and I, I don't know, but it's just beautiful. They have a very positive impact on me. Stephen Matini - So let's say someone wants to develop as a leader. They want to work on their resilience. Where they can find you online if they want to get in touch with you. Maria Giovanna Vianello - Um my LinkedIn profile Maria Giovanna Vianello on LinkedIn, that will be the place to reach out and have conversations about life challenges and resilience. I think it was lovely to spend time on something that I take for granted so often because I know I develop resilience since I was young and I and I take that capacity for granted in challenging moment has been extremely crucial. So today talking about it was awesome, almost like a celebration and I want to thank you for that because you are offering me this amazing safe space to talk about such a crucial, important topic of my life and thank you for sharing your thoughts. Stephen Matini - It is my absolute pleasure as always, thank you. Stephen Matini - Thank you for listening to this episode of Pity Party Over. I invite you to connect with Maria Giovanna Vianello on LinkedIn for any suggestions on how to leverage resilience and mindful leadership. Maria has been dealing with type one diabetes since she was a kid. Her story shows how our biggest struggles might reveal our life mission. In her case, helping leaders reach their highest potential. Becoming resilient for Maria meant making her body a priority, something we so often neglect when we get busy with millions of things to do. For Maria becoming resilient implies being proactive, taking incremental steps in avoiding perfectionism, which depletes adaptation resources. Leaders should role model not just ask people to change. You cannot influence people if you're not mindful of your own development and send an example for others to follow. People have to see in you the behaviors you want them to develop. As Maria said it so beautifully, “Leadership is not the power you're giving yourself but the power people give you because of the role model you represent.” If you have any questions pertaining how to develop residence, let's talk. You can find my contact information in this episode's notes. If you enjoy this content, you may subscribe to my podcast or blog Pity Party Over, and we can also connect on Twitter and LinkedIn. I invite you to visit our website, alygn.company. ALYGN is spelled A L Y G N.company where you can find many routes for managerial and leadership development. Be happy be well and until we connect again, thank you for listening.
Wednesday May 25, 2022
Wednesday May 25, 2022
Empathy is the ability to understand others’ emotions and see things from their point of view. By understanding how people feel, empathy helps us respond efficiently to any situation. As professionals transition from non-managerial to managerial and then strategic roles, the ability to connect with people becomes crucial both to get things done, and make a vision become a reality. Can you learn how to become more empathetic? The special guest for this episode of PITY PARTY OVER is Elia Nichols, an actress who has worked in TV, film, and theatre in the United States and Italy, who also has built a successful career as public speaking and communication coach. Elia received her Bachelor of Arts in theatre from Tulane University and her Masters of Fine Arts in acting from the University of Texas at Austin. Elia points out there is empathy at an emotional and physical level. We can practice empathy by using an outside-in and inside-out approach as actors do. With outside-in empathy, we observe the context and circumstances of the other person, their body language and voice. I can put myself aside and speak less to create a space for listening to the other person. With inside-out empathy, I experience the other person's emotions by tapping into my own experiences. I may not have lived the same issues as that person, but I may tune in to incidents that have a similar emotional charge. Sign up for a free Live Session to learn how to develop empathy Subscribe to Pity Party Over to be notified of new episodes. Listen to the episode on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Castbox, Castro, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Player FM, Pocket Cast, Pod Bay, Podbean App, Podchaser, Postcast Addict, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn. Subscribe to the PITY PARTY OVER blog Connect with Stephen via email Connect with Stephen on Twitter Connect with Stephen on LinkedIn Brought to you by ALYGN Organizational Consulting Elia Nichols Web Site: Communicate The Best of Yourself Connect with Elia Nichols on LinkedIn Connect with Elia Nichols on Instagram Connect with Elia Nichols on Facebook Connect with Elia Nichols via Email Transcript Welcome to PITY PARTY OVER the podcast for people teams and organizations seeking practical ideas for results in greater happiness. I'm your host, Stephen Matini, let’s pause, learn, and move on. PITY PARTY OVER is brought to you by ALYGN, A L Y G N.company. Hi everyone I'm Stephen and welcome to this episode of PITY PARTY OVER. How are you today? We will talk about the power of empathy to connect authentically with people. Empathy is the ability to understand others’ emotions and see things from their point of view by understanding how people feel, empathy helps us respond efficiently to any situation. Can you learn how to become more empathetic? There are a lot of studies on the matter, for instance research suggests that the activation of mirror neurons in the brain plays a part in our ability to empathize with others; essentially we tend to mirror the behavior we observe. Teachers, doctors, psychologists, social workers, counselors, coaches and salespeople and consultants. All these professions require loads of empathy to connect with clients, patients and students effectively. I've always been fascinated with actors because they must embody the perspective of multiple characters and grasp their beliefs, intentions and emotions. So the special guest for this episode of PITY PARTY OVER over is Elia Nichols, an actress who has worked in TV, film and theater in the United States and Italy. Elia is also a public speaking and communication coach, so I decided to talk to Elia and hear from her experience what it takes to become empathetic. Stephen: When did you decide to become an actress? Elia: I was seven years old, I saw Othello, Othello came to my little town. It was a national tour and they came to the auditorium of our local university and I think I was in the front row, and my parents brought me and I just, it transformed me. I mean from this first word until the end of that play, I just was wrapped and I vividly remember this one moment where Desdemona was at the edge of the stage and I think she was begging a fellow not to kill her. I think it was that moment. And I just, I completely lost myself in them and I thought, oh my God, this is real, this is real. I looked there was no fourth wall, you know, I mean I totally lost myself in in their performances and I literally walked away from that night and said I'm going to be an actress. And I remember literally when I was seven, I told my best, one of my best friends, Becky Reiser, I said I'm gonna be an actress and I'm gonna win an Oscar. And she said, I'll make you a $5 bet that you're not gonna win an Oscar. And I said, yeah, I'll bet, you know, I still owe her $5 because I haven't won the Oscar yet. But but I did become an actress. And um as I said, I just did everything I could to perform. And because there was no theater from seventh grade on my parents would let me go away in the summers to New England and do theater summer programs because there was nothing in Louisiana. And so I fly by myself to Connecticut and Massachusetts and Boston to do theater. And then when I got to university I got my bachelor's degree in acting. That's when I finally learned what it means to be an actress, right? Like how, how I actually learned technique and, and then I got my Masters in acting. So after that I felt okay now I'm now I'm an actress, I actually know what I'm doing, but I needed even the Masters, I'm a student, I'm a student. I like to study. And by after my Bachelor’s, I remember a lot of people in my program said I'm done, like I'm sick of studying, I'm done, I'm ready to be out there in the world and they went to New York immediately after their undergrad. I'm not ready yet. I knew inside of myself that I hadn't honed my talent enough, you know? And thank God because it was so true. I mean my Master's program changed radically changed how I act interactively changed my life in general. The things I learned there were wildly life changing. Stephen: And then what happened after that? Elia: So we we had a showcase as you often do in master's programs and actors showcase. We flew to New York and L.A. And we auditioned for agents and casting directors and I got a manager from L.A. from that showcase. And I got an audition for Warner Brothers from that showcase. And so I said, okay, I guess I'll go to L.A. You know, it kind of shows it for me. And I went to L.A. And I hated it, I hated L.A. It was so not my place. Um first of all because at 24 I was considered old in L.A. So bizarre to me. You know, I I thought what are you talking about? I'm so young, you know? But honestly the people that make it in L.A. Usually get there, they are child actors often. Right? So they get there when they are 7 or 8 or 10 or they grow up in the area, you know, they grew up in California and so they make the connections that you need to have early on. And so by the time they are 21 or 18 and can really finally play the, you know, the adult, the teen and adult roles, they have enough connections to get the right auditions. But when you arrive to L.A. at 24, you don't know anybody. By the time you make enough connections, it takes about five years, you're 29 and then you’re old. Right? So I realized that pretty quickly when I got to L.A. And the other thing is that, you know, I'm from Louisiana and in Louisiana we eat really well, you know we drink well too, right. I mean we eat, we eat jambalaya and gumbo and shrimp and crab and crawfish and you know drink bourbon, mint, juleps. And so I grew up loving to eat and then you get to L.A. and everybody's on a diet, you know and everybody's detoxing and everybody's going to the gym constantly. And so all of a sudden I was going to the gym 18 hours a week. So three hours a day, six days a week. I was on the South Beach diet. I've always been thin. I've never had a problem with my weight. I'm very lucky. I just have my, you should look at my mother, she was stick, you know, she looks like an ostrich or something and her legs do and and so but but I was on the South beach diet because that's what you do and you know, and I was, I looked perfect. I mean I literally had, I was in the best shape of my life, I was perfect, I was toned, I was thin, I was you know, I was healthy. And I remember one day I went into my manager's office and he said Elia, you look good but keep going to the gym and I said you know what, no, there is no less of Elia than this. I'm not going to become anorexic for you in this industry and I already go to the gym 18 hours a day and I'm on the southeast side, so there is no less than this and he was like okay, you know it's just that the camera puts on pounds and I was like well then maybe this isn't the right place for me, you know and I had, I had already studied abroad in Italy and I loved it and I thought you know, I ate ridiculous amounts of pasta in Italy and was still thin, I think I should go back there, it was so happy and so I did you know, I just did and I've never looked back yeah ... And then when I when I moved to Italy, okay, immediately founded a co founder of theater company in in english english speaking theater company and from then we, we just worked constantly and we made such amazing productions and then agent saw me and director saw me and they started hiring me and then I had a great business, I mean I've had a great career that that has been varied and stimulating and wonderful, so I think it was right, you know, here I'm kind of a big fish in a small pond and there I was a small fish in an enormous pond and I think it was all all right for me. Stephen: I have this huge, truly huge admiration for actors because it's a tough life, they come across as professionals in empathy, you know somehow being able to empathize to this story, the character, responding to others ... they really are masters of empathy. What have you learned about empathy because of your acting career? Elia: I think I've learned everything, I think I am intuitive and I think intuition and empathy go, they run in parallel that they are connected course as an actress, you are trained to understand people from the inside out and from the outside in and you literally, you know, they literally talk to you about that and I'll give you an example, there are certain roles where the costume is so important and until you put the costume on, you don't really understand that person that's outside in right? So that's an outside in empathy. Whereas inside out as I understand the emotion, I'm feeling the emotion and therefore I externalize it. And so that's an empathy from inside out. Right? So as an actor, you're trained in both. You know, we were literally sent out with journals to observe people to just watch people, we watch their body language, we had to record their voices. We I had a dialect class where they would they would make us interview people from different countries. So you had to find people on our campus. I went to the University of Texas at Austin and you had to find people in your on the campus that had different dialects. So I found a French person, a Russian person and an Irish person. You had to call you to make a monologue from their recording and study their dialect and act the monologue in their dialect in French, but speaking french English, right? So a French person speaking with a French accent, not not dialect accent and that was actually really, really helpful and continues two absolutely affect the way that I relate to people. There's a lot of my clients as opposed to, you know, I'm a public speaking coach as well as an actress and a lot of my clients have accents and we, we talk about that because of course it affects the way they speak English, their accents come out in different ways and we talk about that. I wonder if you, you're like this, like when I watch movies that are really engaging, I get so into the movie that when I'm done with the movie, I think I'm the character in the movie, it takes me two or three hours to leave that character and become Elia again and I've always been like that. I remember like sitting in a cafe in Austin Texas and seeing this woman who I thought, okay, actually that's it, that's her, you know, that's that's my character and I remember kind of taking on her posture, you know, and what the and trying like what does that feel like, oh gosh, it feels out of balance. It feels so heavy and once you start doing that, you realize what that must feel like literally to be that person and to live in that person's body right? There's even an empathy not just on an emotional level but on a physical level because I really believe strongly that all of our emotions and life circumstances stress happiness, everything. I mean it is it manifests in your voice and your body, right? And so if you're paying attention enough, you know where people are emotionally right? And I think all of that is thanks to the acting training and the curiosity, just the natural curiosity of wanting to observe somebody somebody and understand them. Stephen: When I do trainings and we do work on empathy, I ask around people from 1 to 5 how empathetic do you think that you are? You know, some people will give themselves different scores and say well I think I'm highly empathetic, I'm four and three I'm not and then we do simple observation type of exercises and everyone gets it. If you have to read between the lines, what do you think is happening here? And people are so precise. I truly believe that everyone has that ability and all that it takes is sometimes too get out of the funk of your head and just simply focus on that person get and it's incredible to see how accurate people are. People always get it truly never happen to someone responded by saying I don't know, you know people are very, very intuitive you know and you said that you know intuition and empathy go hand in hand. I think it has to do a lot with observation. Our lives are so busy that people simply forget to look at other people. Elia: Oh so that's because I was curious if you think that everybody can be empathetic and can learn empathy then what's blocking them from not being empathetic. Stephen: I think what prevents them different things. “Buziness” I think is a huge thing. You know, we live busy life. The other thing you got to have a genuine interest in people. Elia: Yes, I agree. I think it's all about real curiosity really wanting to understand somebody really wanting to listen to them. I mean that's where active listening comes in, right? You can't you also can't empathize if you're not actually listening to the person because you're not you're not taking your thoughts are getting in the way or your actions are getting or your cell phone is getting in the way, right? But if you're really focusing on the other person and then it's actually quite easy to empathize and understand them. Stephen: It’s the biggest struggle that a lot of business people have. You know, as they transition the career they go from “I do my staff”, I have become a manager then eventually more strategic, you know, leadership position, at some point it really becomes being an expert of people more than anything else. You have all the skills to let's say to read a financial report or um you know, your industry, you have enough experience to understand how something works. But it really becomes a job of understanding people. Elia: Curiosity is quite innate, curiosity is not everybody's curious, you know? Stephen: True. And also, I think another indicator for me is um silence. Like if I'm empathizing, if I'm really listening to someone, I live center stage to the person and I observed and you see that through silent, are you talking all the time? How can you empathize with someone if you're the one constantly speaking? How did you get into public speaking? Elia: When I was in graduate school, they made us teach a few classes. So we were getting our masters and they made us teach undergraduate elective classes and I had to teach introduction to acting and training the speaking voice and training the speaking voice was partly, you know, a public speaking class. Part of it was literally literally training your voice so that you have more control and more variety. But another part of it was obviously they at some point have to get up and speak and so it began there. So I've kind of always done both. Actually, when I moved to Florence, I started teaching, I was asked to teach at a university here and the class they gave me was body language and communication and it that too had elements of public speaking in it. The final, the, the two final assignments that they had to do performances that they had to do, they were basically public speaking assignments in the end. So I've kind of always done both. But then in 2019 I remember my husband who is a lawyer, he came home one day and he said, oh what's a coach? I said, well a coaches and I explained it, it explained that they help people, you know, become more aware and they help people, you know, hone their skills and become better, empathize ear's and better blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, right? And he said, well you could do that but you could do it for public speaking. And so when he said that it kind of just clicked, I said I could be a public speaking coach and that sounds really exciting. Really interesting and I literally just did it. I went and I got my Partita IVA, my fiscal code, and I started creating classes and I just put the word out there and and I just took off and I haven't stopped. Stephen: Do you have a favorite client to work with? Elia: No, I'm I feel really fortunate because I have tons of very different clients. So I, one of my first clients was a politician. He was, he was running to my first clients actually. Now I think about it, they were both running for, one was running for the European parliament and one was running for the they were both running for the European parliament actually, and they had they had me coach them on their you know their speeches and presenting their campaign and so that was really interesting. But I love the variety of my clients because right now for example I have high school students who are working on their college interviews and they desperately need practice and awareness of what their body language and voice are communicating and how to get the messages out in a concise, inspirational, you know way. And then I have C.E.O.s who realize that while their leadership skills are powerful or they're strategizing or analyzing skills, you know, analysis skills are really good at home and they're not good communicators yet. And so I work with them a lot. I even working with a housewife right now who's been housewife for 14 years raising two daughters and wants to get back into the workplace and feels really intimidated by that and has no idea how to present herself, you know. And so it's really exciting the massive variety of types of clients that I have. So no I don't really have a favorite client, Stephen: What have you learned from all these experiences to help you running your business and making it sustainable? Elia: I’m not a natural entrepreneur, I am, I realized when I founded the theater company, I co founded it with five other women but the main one, her name is Shaun Loftus and Shaun is a true creator, she is the one that has a wonderful, amazing ideas, you know, and she dreams them up and I realized she and I were great partners because I am fabulous at realizing those ideas, I can make anything happen, but I don't have the original ideas, I'm not the creator. And in fact if you think about an actor that's even true as an actor, actors are given their characters, they're given their lines. So an entrepreneur as the original idea, right? They are that that's the whole basis and so it was very difficult for me to be an entrepreneur. Now the good thing is I have a lot of drive, so I'm not one that is afraid, you know of trying things out and pushing my goals, but I've never taken a course in business, I've never taken a graphic design course, I've never taken a web design course and I regret that immensely in the end when you get out there as an artist, you are your own business and you need to think as a business person because otherwise you don't get jobs and luckily my husband is an entrepreneur, his mind naturally works that way. So he has been very helpful, he's coached me along where you need to do this, you need to do that. He, we we have a few friends that are brilliant entrepreneurs and honestly you have been really helpful for me. Stephen: Me, me, me? Elia: Absolutely as a coach with with more more years of experience than I do. You're further down the line and you've been so generous to share your, you know, your processes with like processes with me. Um, so I've actually needed the help of others to, to, to get on this road, you know, but what one thing I do think has has certainly helped me is that I am good with people. Part of it is empathy part of it is that I am naturally curious, I love people, I love to speak to people and so I am going to establishing the relationships that are necessary to get the job. Stephen: The name of this podcast is PITY PARTY OVER. The reason for that pity party is when you feel bad about yourself, right? Like poor me, poor me. So what is your favorite way to pity party? Elia: I don't think I pity myself actually, what I think I don't have enough time if you want to know the truth. I really don’t. I think that as a mother and two young kids and uh, you know, and an entrepreneur and I'm quite social, I love to see my friends and I love my husband and so I don't literally think I have much time to sit in pity. What did occur to me though is these patterns that everyone present themselves back in my life and they always have and that pattern is this and I am really busy and then I do something really well and I get a lot of attention for it. I obviously know I'm not aware of this in the moment, but I obviously that manifests as egotistical attention seeking and she's forgotten about me. And someone in my life in that moment comes out and says, Elia, you've forgotten about me and you're only thinking about yourself right now and it's not nice or aliens get off your high horse. You know, this success was not due just to you, It was created by a team. I mean, I vividly remember probably three or four moments in my life when a good friend that was literally just like slap me down. Okay? And I I'm very thankful, very thankful for those moments because it's very clear that I'm not a nice person in those moments, I'm not my best self, but when your ego starts to really eat that up and enjoy it, you do forget about the other people around you that helped you get help, get you there right then, and then that that are important to your life. And so when that happens, they slapped me down, I reflect um ... And I usually have to go and meditate because it means that I'm kind of out of myself. You know, I'm literally if you if you looked at like my auras or looked at you look at me from an energy level, like I'm separated from myself, and so I have to meditate and ground myself again. Um ... I usually stop drinking wine for a few days because I've noticed that like that glass over dinner makes me more superficial. I usually have to literally stop drinking wine for a few days because I need to return to the clarity so I will meditate and I will get, I will kind of detox or if you don't, you know, just just make things simple and then try and concentrate on the people around me instead of myself. Because that is what helped has helped me a lot is is really putting my focus on others because then you have a new perspective, Stephen: So you Pity Party Over cutting down the wine and then you say meditate. Is there any specific type of meditation that you do that seemed to work really well with you? Elia: Yeah, I studied two different types. One is called Theta healing and just a woman I met in Florence taught it and I was really just curious to learn something new. So I went and learned this technique with her and it's really, really powerful because it grounds you to the earth and kind of the sky and and and everything in between and um I don't know, I really connected to, it was very easy for me to visualize. I'm not a person that I've never studied meditation that's not guided. So I'm not that good yet. Um and I would love to someday I feel like at the moment I don't have time for it, but I eventually want to want to learn how to just meditate in total silence. Stephen: Anyone should work with you, you are super prepared. You are fun. Your energy is what is the word is cathartic? I think anyone shoot him should contact you and thank you so much for doing this with me. Elia: This is so much fun and I think anybody should hire you as well because you are one of the most prepared and empathetic person people I've ever met in my life and I have to say that you're one of the best listeners that I've ever met. Stephen: Oh wow, that's a huge compliment! Stephen: Thank you for listening to this episode of PITY PARTY OVER I invite you to discover Elia's programs on presentation techniques, soft skills and nonverbal communication at elianichols dot com. Elia is E L I A and Nichols is N I C H O L S.com. You can also reach Elia via email, Linkedin and Instagram. You can find Elia's contact information in this episode's notes. As professionals transition from non managerial to managerial and then strategic roles, the ability to connect with people becomes crucial both to get things done and make a vision become a reality. A good starting point to develop empathy is to become aware of those characters in movies and TV shows that deeply resonate with you. As Elia pointed out in the episode, there is empathy at an emotional and physical level. We can practice empathy by using an “outside-in” and an “inside-out” approach as actors do. With “outside-in” empathy, we observe the context and circumstances of the other person, their body language and voice. I can put myself aside and speak less to create a space for listening to the other person. With “inside-out” empathy I experienced the other person's emotions by tapping into my own experiences. I may not have lived the same issues as that person, but I'm a tune in two incidents that have a similar emotional charge. If you have any questions pertaining how to develop empathy, let's talk. You can find my content information in this episode's notes. If you enjoy this content, you may subscribe to my podcast or blog pd party over and we can also connect on Twitter and Linkedin. I invite you to visit our website algyn.company. ALYGN is spelled A L Y G N.company, where you can find many routes for managerial and leadership development. Be happy be well and until we connect again, thank you for listening.
Friday May 20, 2022
Friday May 20, 2022
Marathon runners know more than any other athlete about sustaining a proper pace while getting to the finishing line as fast as possible. "Running in the Green" is a heart-rate based training approach for marathon runners. This method aims at improving performance by training within a heart range that feels comfortable rather than pushing to the max. I learned about the "running in the green” approach from British designer Rebecca Milner, the guest of this episode of Pity Party Over. Rebecca is a surface pattern designer whose phenomenal work spans wallpaper, textiles, clothing, and furnishings for her international clientele. Rebecca studied at Central Saint Martins in London and currently resides in Florence, Italy. Rebecca is an entrepreneur, and she also runs marathons, from which she has learned a lot of lessons to run her business at a sustainable pace, Rebecca Milner Design. Running in the Green refers to the pace that allows us to reach our goals without running out of fuel, so that we can enjoy the journey of becoming someone, of achieving something. Running in the Green is also the awareness that we do not need to accomplish everything at once, but we need to focus on what we can do today by changing our perspective, from the finishing line to small steps. Sign up for a free Live Session to learn how to slow down to get better results. Subscribe to Pity Party Over to be notified of new episodes. Listen to the episode on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Castbox, Castro, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Player FM, Pocket Cast, Pod Bay, Podbean App, Podchaser, Postcast Addict, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn. Subscribe to the PITY PARTY OVER blog Connect with Stephen via email Connect with Stephen on Twitter Connect with Stephen on LinkedIn Brought to you by ALYGN Organizational Consulting Rebecca Milner Design A surface pattern design brand exploring playful escapism through color, pattern and print Connect with Rebecca Milner via email Connect with Rebecca Milner on Instagram Transcript Stephen (00:04): Welcome to PITY PARTY OVER the podcast for people, teams and organizations seeking practical ideas for results in greater happiness. I'm your host, Steven Matini let's pause, learn and move on. PITY PARTY OVER over is brought to you by ALYGN, A L Y G N.company Stephen (00:29): Hello everyone. And welcome to this episode of PITY PARTY OVER. How are you? I hope you're doing really well. Today we're going to talk about achieving goals at a sustainable pace. Marathon runners know more than any other athletes about sustaining a proper pace while getting to the finishing line as fast as possible. Running in the green is a heart-based training approach for marathon runners. This method aims at improving performance by training within a heart range that feels comfortable rather than push to the max. I learned about running in the green from British designer, Rebecca Milner the guest of this episode of PITY PARTY OVER. Rebecca is a surface pattern designer whose phenomenal work spans wallpaper, textiles, clothing, and furnishings for her international clientele. Rebecca studies at Central Saint Martins in London and currently resides in Florence, Italy. Rebecca is an entrepreneur and she also runs marathons from which she has learned a lot of lessons to run her business at a sustainable pace, Rebecca Milner Design. Stephen (01:36): Rebecca, I know quite a bit of things about you. I know where you come from, you share a lot of things from your past, your family. You’re British. For our listeners, I would like to ask you as a first question, why don't you share where you grew up? What was the surrounding that influenced you? Rebecca (01:54): So, yeah, I'm British and I grew up in, in England, went to school there and everything, but I think probably the most influential thing that happened when I was young is my dad was to live in work in Italy when I was younger, when I was 13. And that event kind of changed the trajectory of my life, I would say because I just completely fell in love with it immediately, instantly. I decided at the age of 13 that I wanted to live and work and the rest of my life. So that was kinda a, a really big thing. Um, and in terms of what I was doing, what I was interested in, I was always interested in art that had always been a thing. And then I think when I came here and I saw these really great artists, who'd done all these incredible works of art. I was just really set on the fact that that was what I also wanted to do. Stephen (02:43): Did your whole family move to Italy when you were 13 or just, uh, some members of the family? Rebecca (02:49): Yeah. I know we all moved together. There were six of us to Naples. Stephen (02:53): Ooh. Rebecca (02:54): I love Naples. Everybody seems to have an opinion about it. Um, it feels like an open air playground, a giant playground just for me. And I was so young that I, we lived an amazing life. We just would go to parties all the time, down to beach all the time. We would go and explore Italy. I've seen more of Italy than I have England. Stephen (03:13): What was your first impression of Naples? The first thing that you noticed? Rebecca (03:19): The volcano, obviously, I learned about the volcano when I was six years old and it terrified me and it was thing I was petrified about. I never, I didn't wanna go there to begin with, cause I was so afraid it was explode. Um, and that , I have to be watching my back every day in case it's erupted . Um, so that was kinda a really dramatic side to it as well. Cause I had this kind of fear mixed in with excitement. Um, but uh, yeah, apart from that, like I remember we came in on the tangent alley and was flying high above the, above the city and all these high rise buildings, colorful yellow ones with, um, washing hanging out. And it was, yeah, it was just an amazing impact. And I love cities on the sea as well. That's all sort of exciting vibe to me and the sunshine, the heat, just, yeah, the smells, the, the dogs, there was so many dogs barking. How you sleep at night? Stephen (04:16): You know, I went to Naples only once for, I think it was four days, five days and he rained the whole time oh, I know. So I have to go back, but I, no, I thought it was great. I went there for Easter and then I visited all the surroundings. I went to Pompeii and Pompeii mm-hmm blew out my mind. I thought, oh my God, this is so big. It was incredible. I really love it. Yeah. I wanna go back. So at the time you already spoke Italian or not at all? Rebecca (04:43): Not at all. No, I would, um, my dad had a, he'd been out there for a few months before, so he had a grammar book, so I would grab his book and read it in the evenings and learn the names of the vegetables and a few directions and stuff like that. Um, but that was kind, that was it. Yeah. Stephen (04:59): And how long did you stay there with your family? In Naples? Rebecca (05:02): Two and a half years. I was still at school in England. So we were coming out for the holidays. Um, Stephen (05:09): So how did you manage to learn Italian then? Rebecca (05:12): So after that I went back to school and they offered it for a level. So I did two level, two years of a level. And then, and then I came to Italy for nine months. I came to Florence for nine months to study at the British Institute. Uh, and yeah, but it was difficult to speak Italian then at that point, because lots of students and everybody you spoke to wanted to learn English. And so they would end up speaking English and it was easy to speak English. So, so I did, so I can't say I learned that much in that year. Um, Stephen (05:47): When the whole, um, design art component came into your life? Was back then in Naples or you started before? Rebecca (05:56): That was always something that was kind of in me, I guess, from the start, from a young age, I knew that I wanted to work with my hands doing something creative, and I knew that I wanted to run my own business, but I didn't know what that would take or form that would take. Um, it was just a kind of big idea, but I loved to make things that was always something that gave me a lot of peace and a lot of joy. And at school I studied art and textiles in particular. Um, and then after being in Florence for a year, I was, I had a place at university to study Italian, but I just decided, no, I can't do that. I have to go to art college. I have to I did that. And then when I went to art college, there were so many new things to try at school. I'd always done textiles and I knew all about that. And I kind of, there was a part of me that wanted to try something new. Um, so I went towards graphic design, which strangely seemed very exotic. And uh, I dunno why, but it did. Stephen (06:58): One of the ingredients that you share in the past is also your love for running. So when did you start running? Rebecca (07:06): I started running very late in life, probably only in 2016, I think. Yeah. So it's only been six years or so, but I always had this desire to run, but I never believed that I could run because at school we had this “one meter, no one mile” challenge every year and I never was able to do it because I would always kind of conk out before the end is, oh, this really heavy labor breathing. And so I never believed that I was able to run. I could did the 200 meters, that was fine, but anything longer was just yeah. And no, no. And then obviously living in England, the London marathon is a big thing. So you see that every year and you see people running along, carrying fridges on their backs or, you know, Big Ben or something. People of all ages, all walks of life. And I would look at these people and think my God, you know, how can they do that? It just seemed like a mystery. Um, something completely unattainable to me, which is always something it's, something feels like that. It always becomes a bit of a challenge in my mind, you know, something so unattainable that other people can are doing. Can I do that myself? So it had this kind feel for me. Stephen (08:21): What made you decide to get into marathons? Rebecca (08:24): Well, it, it was something I wanted to do because I saw one day in London, I saw I was walking along to the pavement and I saw this billboard and there was a man sitting on the billboard wrapped in one of the silver foil sheets that they give you after the marathon. And the caption at the bottom said, “One less thing I have to do in life.” So it was like, really kinda, for me, it felt like a personal challenge. Um, and I started applying while I was still in London to run the marathon, even though I wasn't running, I had no training. I had no idea what I was doing, but I would just apply because it was so difficult to get into. Um, luckily they rejected me time. After time I moved to Italy and I still hadn't done any running. Um, but one day I saw near the Duomo, there was this running club on a Wednesday night and they would run eight kilometers. Rebecca (09:08): So I thought, okay, I'll join them. And I signed up with the slowest group, um, and I managed to do my first eight kilometers. I dunno how, but somehow. And then I kept going with him and after a while I was like, Hey, I can do eight kilometers. If I can do eight kilometers, maybe I can do 21. Maybe I can do a half. So I signed up with a trainer to do a half marathon and he gave me the program and I thought to myself, okay, all I have to do is follow the program. I trust the guy, you know, I'll just see what happens. Um, and sure enough, I was able to run a half marathon, which was amazing to me. And then I thought if I can run a half marathon, maybe I can run a full one. So I signed up for the same guy, asked him for a program for the full marathon and seven months later I achieved it Stephen (09:55): Dear Lord. Wow. I could never do it! Rebecca (09:58): You say that, but , that sounds like a challenge to me. Stephen (10:03): Well, sure. Maybe, maybe. So you didn't have any sore back? Nothing. I mean? Rebecca (10:08): Oh yeah. I couldn't walk four days after Stephen (10:13): I would be a mess if I, no, I used to, I used to run a lot, um, because I don't know if I told you this, but, um, I used to play volleyball. I started out, I was 13 and I did it up to 20 years old. So anyhow, when I stopped, I didn't have a sport to do. I, I worked out and I decided to start running. So I would go, you know, here in Florence, um, to the park, near my house every morning, religiously. And, and I did that for long this time. Like for years and years and years, it was my meditation essentially, but I never, I never done it with intention of, I have to accomplish this, you know, I have to compete against people just for me, but I know the feeling. It's incredible. What do you love the most about running other than the challenge of pushing yourself, doing something that seems to be unachievable? Rebecca (11:02): The sense of freedom that it gives you when you, especially in those moments, when you can forget about your body and the pain that you might be going through and you just get those moments of mental freedom, not only the physical freedom of, and you know, that feeling there, but just like just, you could just forget about everything else and you're just in this kind of zone, everything else just kind of goes and suddenly something will happen. You'll be like, oh, brought back into your body. But then you realize you've had that amazing moment of just kind of liberation. So it's just a kind of, yeah. Feeling of freedom. Stephen (11:40): There was a moment when I started running and I still remember it, you know, like when you start running and you're always out of breath, like what you said. Yeah. And there was one day, I don't remember how many months it took to get the point that I was running. And it felt like I was flying. Like there was no effort. It really felt, oh my God, I'm running on a cloud. And I still remember the feeling, you know, it didn't happen at first, but eventually I got, you know, at that point. The thing that was curious to ask you is this one you mentioned in the past to me, the whole notion of, uh, “running in the green” now, which is part of your training. So how does that work? Rebecca (12:17): So running in the green is something I have discovered lately because I, I suffer a lot when I'm running. I find it incredibly difficult. Um, I'm always huffing and puffing and struggling to, to go any faster because I literally can't breathe or I can't speak. I, you know, there's a lot of, um, effort and I look at other runners and they just seem to glide along and it seems so easy for them. And I'm like, what is the difference between me and them? Like, how come I'm having such a struggle Fest and they are just gliding. Um, so I did a lot of research, um, and it turns out there's this thing called heart rate training, which was a complete, um, unknown to me. Cause I would just go out and give what I could go as fast as I could, but I was always suffering. Rebecca (13:01): So with this method you run like there's five different heart rate zones, I think. And you run in the green, which is a kind of, um, aerobic state. So you can run for a long time at a level that you can have a conversation at. So you're breathing well. And if you do that for a long time, it's supposed to develop your aerobic capacity so that you can eventually run faster at that same heart rate. Yeah. So you can kind of develop your ability. And that's what I'm hoping now is kind of the idea of this has opened up a whole new world of potential running, how it could feel if I could actually go out there and, you know, feel okay when I'm doing it, not feel like I'm gonna pass out every that's a bit extreme, but you know, Stephen (13:45): So if I understood it correctly, it's basically the notion that I can improve it without killing myself. Rebecca (13:50): Yeah, exactly. This could actually, um, feel good. I could go out there and do better and have a good, you know, feel good while doing it. Not have to kind of go out there and feel like I'm at the max every single time. Stephen (14:06): You and I talked about so many times how exciting and challenging it is to run our own businesses. You know, you and I are in different industries, there are ups and downs, sometimes it’s super hard, anxiety and fear, excitement, possibilities, and all the whole gamut of things that happened to, to people that want to run their own business. What did running teach you? You know, they, maybe you, you have used in your business. Rebecca (14:31): I think for me in both places, both in the running and in the business, I feel a lot of overwhelmed. So obviously in the running that comes into that translates into a physical form, you know, I've got a lot of breathing difficulties and, and kind of feeling physically that this is very difficult. And in the business, I feel overwhelmed so often because there, I feel like there are so many things to do. I don't know a, how to find the time in the day or B how to get started, which one to do first. It just, sometimes there's still to be such a weight of stuff to do. I, I kind of get bit like a rabbit in the headlights and I don't know which way to go or how to start. And so when I discovered the idea of running in the green, I was like, Ooh, you know, that could be possibly a way or like a philosophy that I could take and adapt into my business. Rebecca (15:23): Um, maybe one way is to, instead of feeling like, okay, I've got X amount of hours to, to work on this or a day or whatever, feeling like I have to get the whole thing done. You know, like tomorrow I've got tomorrow to do it. I've gotta achieve the whole of my website. I've gotta achieve the whole of this or that. Just, you know, breaking it down, small, manageable chunk size pieces that I can actually do and not looking at the, the great distance that I have to cover, but just breaking it down into bits that feel manageable and that feel achievable so that when I've done that little bit, I feel good and I don't come away feeling, “Ah!” You know, um, so just kind of re-dimensioning it and putting it into a better perspective, Stephen (16:11): Running a business is a marathon. It is a long, long marathon that takes a good pace. Otherwise you end up, you know, out of breath completely, absolutely the whole notion of this podcast it's called PITY PARTY OVER because I was interested in exploring how people get out of a funk. You know, when you feel bad when somehow you get stuck, uh, maybe you go through the same cycle again and again and again. And so the first question is this, how do you love to pity party? You know, when you want to be, indulgently sorry for yourself. What is your best pity party moment? What do you do? Rebecca (16:51): I think I kind of probably pace around and feel like I have too much to do and, and make endless lists of like all the kind of things in different. I mean, I could show you my desktop. It was filled with so many different forms of this. I love to overwhelm myself and, um, myself, I'll never get it and that a failure, I, how it's never gonna work out all those kinda, really negative things. I just, you know, I love to pile them on top of myself, really wallow and all that. Stephen (17:28): That sounds a lovely pity party. Rebecca (17:30): Oh, it's great. Stephen (17:32): You know, but yeah, I I'm, I'm a firm believer that we need pity parties in order to move on. I mean, if you don't hit rock bottom multiple times, it's really difficult to, I think, to develop the stamina, you know, the resilience to get somewhere else. And I, I also strongly believe that when you really, really get fet up is when miracles happen, when you push yourself, you know, extra hard and you get out. The second question is how do you pity party over? So based on what you have experienced, what are some of the tools that you use in order to get out of the funk? Rebecca (18:04): one of the ways, well, often my pity party happens when I'm sitting here at my desk. And so it kind of feels a bit swampy, um, you know, these lifts of like a fog or like a mud I have to move through. Um, so one of the things that I do is I get up and I leave my house and I go for a fast walk because I feel like physical movement really helps me to get out of that mental stuck, stuck-ness. And then I have a couple of like mantras that I'm always telling myself, you can do this, you always do this. You always get it done. I just kind of repeat that to myself. And especially if it's something visual that I'm trying to, if I'm feeling stuck in a kinda ... with a, with a design or, or just with anything really, I really, I feel like moving helps me just to shift perspective and I get more ideas by seeing things. Yeah. And just moving through the space and it just telling myself I can do it. And then I come back when I come back in, I'm often in a different mindset, so I can sit down and do something. Even if it's not the whole thing, I can get something done. Stephen (19:08): I love that. And actually I do the same. I go for walks, Running a business is hard. What would you say that is the biggest motivator to put yourself through this ordeal of ups and downs and doubts and, and excitement? Rebecca (19:25): To me it's like pulling something intangible that's in my head, into the physical world and making it real. That is, has always been a great giver of joy. I love to imagine things and digitalize stuff. Um, and then make it physical. Stephen (19:48): Make it physical. Rebecca (19:48): Yeah. Stephen (19:50): When you were talking about running, you said something that got stuck in my head, you said, um, you talked about freedom, feeling of freedom. And also you said that about art. Is freedom, something important also is one of the reasons why you have your own business? Rebecca (20:04): I think so. Absolutely. Yeah. I love to feel that I'm driving my own train and that I can decide where I'm going. You know, I've got this gift of life. I'm here on the planet, and it's really fun to think that you can kind of shape or achieve what you wanna achieve. I mean, obviously within some limits, you're not necessarily gonna achieve everything, but to, to be able to have an idea and, and to, to able to work towards that, have that a goal and take the steps and make it happen and make it come true is such a rewarding thing for me. Um, yeah. And, and to be able to decide that for myself and not have somebody say, okay, you need to shuffle 10 envelopes today. Or, you know, to be able to make those decisions for myself is, is a great freedom. Stephen (20:51): I am a huge fan of your designs, and I'm not saying this because you are here, you know, we are recording this I think the first design you showed me must have been the tiger. I think when you show me that what I loved about your design is how they look intricate. And at the same time, they have all these different flavors. They remind me of places, emotions that I went through, that I cannot quite pinpoint. When people use your designs, you know, it could be wallpaper, it could be something printed on a pillow. What do you hope people to feel? Rebecca (21:23): Happiness. I hope that it brings a smile to their face, that they, that when they encounter my work in a shop or on a website or wherever it might be, that that's something about it just gives them a bit of joy and lightens up their day. And if I can make somebody smile, if I can make somebody laugh, then, then my job is done. Stephen (21:45): Amen. Rebecca (21:46): , , Stephen (21:48): It's a wonderful vision for your business where people can find you online. If they want to check your, your beautiful designs, Rebecca (21:57): They can find me on my website, Rebecca Milner Design.com, and also on Instagram at Rebecca Miller Design. Stephen (22:06): Wonderful Rebecca, it's been a joy to hear your experiences and all that I can say. I wish for your business to get bigger and bigger and bigger because your talent is huge. So your heart Rebecca (22:19): Thank so much. Stephen (22:21): Thank you. Thank you. Bye Rebecca (22:23): Bye. Stephen (22:25): Thank you for listening to this episode of PITY PARTY OVER. I invite you to enjoy Rebecca's creations at rebeccamilnerdesign.com. And also you can find Rebecca on Instagram at Rebecca Milner Design. Rebecca is spelled R E B E C C A and Milner is M I L N E R. You can find Rebecca’s business details in the episode’s notes. So running in the green refers to the pace that allow us to reach our goals without running out of fuel, so that we can enjoy the journey of becoming someone, of achieving something. Running in the green is also the awareness that we do not need to accomplish all at once, but we need to focus on what we can do today by changing our perspective, from the finishing line to small steps. You have any questions pertaining how to proceed at a sustainable pace with your professional endeavors. I would love to talk to you. My contact information are in the episode's notes. If you enjoy this content, you may subscribe to my podcast or blog PITY PARTY OVER, and we can also connect on Twitter or LinkedIn. I invite you to visit our website, align.company, ALYGN is spelled with a Y, A L Y G N.company, where you can find many routes for managerial and leadership development. Be happy, be well. And until we connect again, thank you for listening.
Tuesday May 10, 2022
Tuesday May 10, 2022
How do you strike the perfect balance between jumping to a conclusion too quickly or missing out on an opportunity? I want to share some observations on the importance of slowing down to make sound strategic decisions. Sign up for a free Live Session to learn how to make better decisions. Subscribe to Pity Party Over to be notified of new episodes. Listen to the episode on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Castbox, Castro, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Player FM, Pocket Cast, Pod Bay, Podbean App, Podchaser, Postcast Addict, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn. Subscribe to the PITY PARTY OVER blog Connect with Stephen via email Connect with Stephen on Twitter Connect with Stephen on LinkedIn Brought to you by ALYGN Organizational Consulting Get inspired Lowney, C., 2021. Make Better Decisions: Slow Down If The Lion Isn’t Coming. [online] Forbes. Available at: [Accessed 29 April 2022]. McCartney, C. et al., 2022. An update on flexible and hybrid working practices | CIPD. [online] CIPD. Available at: [Accessed 29 April 2022]. Weir, K., 2020. Nurtured by nature. [online] https://www.apa.org. Available at: [Accessed 29 April 2022]. Transcript Welcome to Pity Party Over the podcast for people teams and organizations seeking practical ideas for results in greater happiness. I'm your host, Stephen Matin. Let's pause, learn and move on. Pity party over is brought to you by ALYGN, A L Y G N dot company. Hi everyone I'm Stephen, how are you? I hope you're doing great wherever you are in the world. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Pity Party Over that is dedicated to decision making. This episode of pity Party Over doesn't want to be an all inclusive recipe on how to make great decisions. Decision making is one of those topics that is largely investigated. Virtually every single day I noticed new articles, new studies are conducted on decision making. And decision making is quite complex. There are many ingredients that come into. So there are a lot of facets that we need to consider and what I want to do with this episode. I would like to share just some observations on how managers and leaders make decisions, and also I would like to point out some of the challenges that I see them facing on a daily basis as they try to make good decisions. And then I would like to point out a couple of things that I hope I'm going to help you out making better decisions. The reason why decision making is quite complex these days has to do a lot with change. We live lives that are super complicated, in which realistically it only takes the tweet of someone to change markets, for opportunities to arise for troubles to come up. And so one of the questions that I receive a lot from clients is what is the right pace of decision making, meaning how fast or how slow should I go in making those decisions? How do you strike the perfect balance between a jump into a conclusion too quickly or maybe not doing it fast enough and so I'm going to miss an opportunity. And so as I often do when a research for my episodes of Pity Party Over, I came across an article written by Chris Lowney, I hope I'm pronouncing his last name correctly. Chris is the best selling book author. He wrote this article in 2021 on Forbes, which I really love, it is “Called make better decisions slow down if the lion isn't coming.” I really like Chris’ article because it contains a lot of interesting points about decision making. He writes beautifully, you know, very clearly, very to the point, so I'm going to put in the notes of this episode all the information that you need if you want to read the article and definitely do it because it's really cool. There are a couple of points that Chris makes in the article that I found really interesting. The first one is the impact of the organizational culture on how people make decisions and specifically Chris points out the dangers for managers in macho corporate cultures that regard decisive and fast as the synonyms. So this one pertains specific cultures, organizational cultures, in which if I do not come across as decisive, self assured, but then I may not be a good leader and for sure many situations we have to do just that we have to make swift decisions but in other instances that could lead it to big big big disasters. So we do know how perceptions are important in ... when we work, you know we are constantly seen by the people, how we come across, it is absolutely vital and so what Chris also does in the article, it points out the opposite of moving too fast which is moving too slow and he says that it's really important for professionals to cultivate the courage to make timely decisions and to avoid what he defines analysis paralysis, which can happen very easily when to give an example, you don't have enough time to make a decision, you are urged to make the decision, you may not have all the data that you would like to have to make the decision and as a result you freak out. So that's also another problem that can lead it two more issues. So this dichotomy between fast and slow Chris writes really nicely, he says, bottom line “Some of us habitually go fast precisely when we should be slowing down and vice versa,” so it really is a balance between the two. It just depends when I'm supposed to go fast and when I'm supposed to go slow. Now how we make decisions is not just a matter of personal preference, personality, what my behavior is, but can also be explained by understanding more deeply some of the mechanics of our brain. A lot of information pertaining decision making comes from neuroscience. So neuroscience is the study of the nervous system and neuroscience. These past 20 years have advanced a lot because of the magnetic resonance imaging which is the M.R.I. So you might have taken M.R.I. when you injure yourself. So M.R.I. are these big scans, you know, they look like pipes, tubes in which a specialist puts you through. Essentially through a magnetic field they are able to create a visual mapping of your internal organs. And because of M.R.I. we know quite a bit about the brain. We know that based on external stimuli, you know, what happens to different regions of the brain. In its most um simple explanation in terms of how we interpret reality, how we make decisions, our brain essentially constantly compares what's happening to us in the present moment with anything that has acquired and stored, you know, from the past. So all my experiences, all that I went through in the past that represents a database that I use whether I like it or not, consciously or unconsciously, in order to determine what's happening to me in the present moment and to make decisions. Mostly in Western societies there's still a strong stigma around emotions, what emotions are, whether or not, whether or not it's good to use emotions when you do business because oftentimes being rational, be called be detached is something that is associated with a good decision making and anything that pertains emotions is seen as um dramatic, it is seen as something that somehow would hinder my ability to make decisions. But for neurosciences, what we know is the fact that the very core of my brain, the so called the limbic system, the engine of my brain is very much my emotional center and these emotional center impacts everything, impacts how I interpret information. It conditions strongly how I respond to those situations and also impacts how I make my decisions. And you must have heard a term that is really popular right now, a ton of articles have been written about the amygdala. So what is this? Amygdala and how it's connected to the brain. Essentially, the amygdala, there are two, the amygdalae, are two glands almond shaped are really small and they are located at the center of my limbic system, the emotional center. And so the amygdala is some sort of home security system. It is a mechanism very ancient that really we inherit from our ancestors and essentially every single time I am confronted with a situation that could be dangerous for me, the amygdala fires ,the amygdala activates and what it does it produces a series of events, a cascade of events that produce hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol that flood my system and create a state of alert. So that's the reason that the amygdala is associated with strong emotions such as stress, anxiety and fear, which are not really that comfortable to feel, but as I said, it's an alarm. It is a system that has been designed to really preserve a life, you know, to to help us surviving. And our lives have gotten really complicated, definitely way more complicated than the lives that our parents used to live or our grandparents. We live lives in which complexity, change is happening super fast. We're also surrounded by so much negativity, you know, it is fostered by the media, and it doesn't matter of the media outlet that you choose in order to retrieve information, but it really is a litany of anxiety, of negativity that constantly surrounds us. And so what this one does, um Particularly now, after more than two years of COVID-19 pandemic are our brains, our limbic system or emotional core has been really tried it out, it is really fatigued and more than ever has gotten difficult for people to make decisions and to navigate through all these problems by making the right move that can help the organizations succeed, that can help your life moving forward, you know, for you to grow. So long story short, what we have learned through neuroscience is the fact that our brain is designed to make snap decisions as a survival mechanism. Um when there's not enough time to weigh all the variables, um to be able to have all the data that I need to have to make good decisions inevitably my brain needs to resort to a lot of unconscious biases as a navigational tool. So what is an unconscious bias? It is essentially a belief that you harbor towards something, it springs from the past, it springs from your experience is also very often is acquired through cultural conditioning. And the distinctive feature of unconscious biases is the fact that they fall outside our conscious awareness. It's almost like you make a decision without being fully aware of why you're moving, you're reacting the way, and instead good strategic decisions that require complete centeredness, mindfulness that really require tremendous consciousness. So that is to say that when you are bombarded by so much negativity, when emotionally you feel extremely tired, when for work you move at a light speed, making quick decisions may be the perfect recipe for disasters. And I'm not saying that every single decision takes a long time to be made, but now more than ever we need to be mindful. We need to probably slow down to be able to make the perfect decision. With that said another factor that has impacted tremendously our decision making from my point of view is the so called hybrid working practices and what I mean by I mean I'm referring to the discussion that's been going on since the explosion of the Covid pandemic or whether people are more effective working from home or working at the office. So one thing that I've noticed throughout the pandemic is the fact that the lives of a lot of professionals have gotten even faster. The amount of activities, tasks people have to deal with has literally exploded. That is mostly the result in many cases of people of not knowing exactly how to work from home, a lot of people simply did not have the digital mindset and very often unfortunately, several organizations did not deploy any program to help people transitioning from working at the office to work in a home. The one thing that I kept hearing from clients during the pandemic was how difficult it was to work from home, although they are clearly, you know, huge advantages, a lot of people did not have to commute. Also, there are less amount of distractions which can foster productivity. The one complaint that I heard the most was the fact that working from home, you feel detached, you don't have your colleagues right there. So it may become in many instances a very lonesome type of activity. Going back to our decision making um discussion, one ingredient that is really important for decision making is the flow of ideas when you have a multiple perspectives coming into place that gives you a nice um ground to make those decisions, to weigh options, and now they were coming off two years of pandemic the one thing that I hear a lot from people is, oh my God now I have to go back to the office now that I got adjusted, I got used to working from home. I finally enjoyed the advantages of working from home. Now I have to readjust myself and going back to the way things used to be. So there's um a nice a couple of nice reports that I put in the notes of this podcast that point out to the website of the CIPD. CIPD stands for Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. And for those of you who do not know CIPD is the most important organization in the UK for human resources. What's really cool about these two reports is the fact that CIPD points out how the pandemic has shifted our working practices towards what they call a hybrid model, which essentially can be managed by using some days in the office as some days at home. So these two modalities can be complementary. It's not a matter of which one works best, which of the two may produce better productivity and also decision making. But I found really interesting, the fact that every single person is different. Every professional is different, um we are not the same people every single day, our energy, you know shift from day to day. And so by finding the right modulation between these two settings, that's when we created the right circumstances for us to work at our best, something that didn't exist before, you know, before our life was completely in the office and then during the pandemic, we were forced in lockdown. But if there's one thing really interesting that we learned from the pandemic is the fact that every person requires a customized approach on how to work. Some people enjoy to spend more time in the office, some people enjoyed instead of working at home. So these two components can be very depending on our needs. One of the things that I've seen a lot this past, I would say two years, 2.5 years in a lot of managers and leaders is the so called “busyness,” which is basically the assumption that if you have a lot of stuff to do that you need to go faster. You know, if I go faster, I get more stuff done and this one, it may be completely counterintuitive, but realistically, if you go faster doesn't make you necessarily more effective.You may be under the impression and getting more done. But what can actually do, it can create just a state of increased anxiety and fatigue, which from the point of your decision making definitely is not the best scenario to find yourself in moving frantically from one task to the next, having a lot on your plate. Sometimes what I've noticed leads to pursuing a lot of goals without fully understanding how each goal contributes to the success of the organization you represent. Also for your own personal success and the reason for that is because not all tasks, not all decisions require the same amount of time required, the same importance. Usually it's much easier to see what you're doing when you look at things once they happen in hindsight. So when you turn back you see you might see someone super super, super busy and have the impression that you have not really advanced that much in your life. But the one thing that I believe it would be important to remember is this one that when you have a lot of stuff to do usually there are some strategic actions that could potentially allow you to hit the first piece of the domino so that all the other components would follow. The notion of strategy is to be efficient to be economical. Sometimes a behavior that constantly rush that is always fast, holding high standards for yourself being a perfectionist. All these components may result from a lack of confidence, the fear of failing, meaning not feeling adequate, and what this one does, it creates a vicious dynamic that hinders decision making. The whole notion of fear as a protection mechanism, just like the unconscious biases that I pointed out before it is something that in many instances creates extra speed, or sometimes does exactly the opposite which is a procrastination. In my experience, slowing down is not just striking the balance between taking more time. When I am evaluating different options or maybe postponing a decision. If I feel uncertain if I feel that I'm not ready for it, good decisions require what I call the “mental distance” to evaluate the issues.What it means is to take one step back, maybe a couple of step backs or three. So that from far I may see the details, the components that I need to way to make a good decision and understand maybe that some of them are not as important as I thought they were. A metaphor that I often use for this concept is the painter in front of her masterpiece. It's this constant moving closer to the painting and sometimes stepping back so that you can check the colors, you can check the light, you can check the proportions to make sure that everything is in the right place. As long as your face is stuck too close to the painting, you may not have an overall picture of what you're trying to accomplish. So slowing down, it means above all softening the mental noise that is caused by constant rush. You know that deceptive impression that if I do more, I accomplish more, but instead I'm running in circles if I keep rushing. If I keep having my nose is stuck in the issue, it is very difficult to weigh all the options to understand how every single ingredient can be used for good decision making. There are so many different remedies, so many things we can do in order to soften than mental noise that is caused by constant rushing. One of my favorite is basically spending time in nature. A lot of research, a lot of psychological research that has been done to show the power of nature on our mental well being and the way we perceive things so our cognition can sharpen because of the time that we spend in nature. So there's an interesting article written by Kirsten Weir and published um in the American Psychological Association website, I put in the notes of this episode the URL, hat essentially points out the benefits of spending some time in nature and Kirsten says something really nice. She says, From a stroll through a city park to a day spent hiking in the wilderness, exposure to nature has been linked to a host of benefits including improved attention, lower stress, better mood produced risk of psychiatric disorders and even upticks in empathy and cooperation.” And so what is the pity party over of this episode of the podcast? Pity Party Over is an expression that I used to say now that you went through those hurdles those challenges what you learn from them so that you can move on. The whole point of this episode is the fact that we often have to make decisions in business with little data and time sometimes we want them but we don't have them and that's really the biggest challenge in business. Good decision making is basically a balance between pacing ourselves and understanding that sometimes we might have to go faster. Sometimes we might have to go slower and then understanding that we can play with different settings, you know, working from home, working at the office to make sure that we have the right energy to make those decisions. My biggest recommendation when you feel anxious, maybe fearful when you feel the stress is about to make your head explode. Sometimes the best option that you have is not to continue rushing is not continuing other people's expectation interrupting your work, but it may very well be closing your laptop, your computer then put some comfortable shoes on and then step outside step outside of your home, step outside your office and to spend some time in nature. And what it does when you spend some time in nature, your emotions start slowing down, your thoughts, your intuitions, everything comes together, your limbic system, your emotional core, that is so fatigued to start slowing down. Start finding some peace and at the moment very likely the most incredible solutions may come up from parts of yourself that may feel completely unexpected. Thank you for listening to this episode of Pity Party Over I hope it was insightful, it was interesting. If you have any questions pertaining how to make better decisions, I would love to talk to you, I'm always available. My email is in the notes of the podcast. It is at Stephen.Matini@alygn.company. ALYGN is spelled A L Y G N.company. If you visit the website online dot company, you will find lots of different routes for individual team and organizational growth. You may subscribe to my blog or to my podcast Pity Party Over, their references are in the notes, and also we can connect on Twitter and LinkedIn. Be happy be well and until we connect again, thank you for listening.
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Hi, I am Stephen Matini, an Italian-American organizational consultant, business coach, and adjunct professor at New York University.
Thank you for taking the time to explore Pity Party Over, a podcast for people, teams and organizations seeking practical ideas for results and happiness.
"Pity Party Over" is when after stumbling on the same issue a million times, you finally get genuinely fed up and decide to take one final step to overcome it. If you feel stuck in a loop, Pity Party Over is where you can pause, learn, and move on.