Ep. 63 – Bob Dean | The New CPE: Collaborative Learning Experiences.

 

Bob Dean, Founder of Dean Learning and Talent Advisors, returns to the show to talk more about virtual learning. Our conversation is framed around ThinkTank, collaboration, and an article that we wrote titled “The New CPE: Collaborative Learning Experiences.”

Bob works as a practitioner consultant using ThinkTank, a collaboration-as-a-service software company. By providing a collaborative structure to the way people work together, ThinkTank enables leaders to transform business processes and create a culture of collaboration, innovation, and engagement.

Bob recently facilitated something remarkable: a (successful) virtual collaboration experience with over 100 people from around the world that lasted 90 minutes – and he did that four times in one day!

Not only was his experience a feat, it benefitted both the client and the participants:

  • It was all people ages 27 to 30, so all millennials, and they really embraced the virtual collaboration experience.
  • In a live group, you may not get everybody’s thoughts or ideas. ThinkTank has the ability to get all the ideas from people from everybody in that group, which makes it a much more richer experience, from a learning perspective, than just getting responses from two or three people in a live audience.
  • Because nobody had to get on a plane, nobody had to travel, nobody had to be away, and nobody had hotel room, it was MUCH cheaper than training 400+ people in person, using the same exercise.

In the future, there are a number of exciting possibilities for virtual collaboration communities on ThinkTank:

  • Optimized and effective onboarding processes.
  • Training in the new revenue recognition principle, or other technical training sessions
  • Teaching people to write effectively, and other skill-building courses
  • Possibly even a virtual improv course!

In a world where change is happening faster and faster every week, we have to learn faster – and the way we learn faster will be learning through collaboration.

Download this Episode MP3.

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Improv Is No Joke – Episode 63 – Bob Dean

Bob: [00:00:00] I believe that you do need to bring people together and have live collaboration community discussions in order to really get people engaged.

Peter: [00:00:20] Welcome to improv is no joke podcast. It’s all about becoming a more effective communicator by embracing the principles of improvisation. I’m your host Peter Margarita’s the self-proclaimed chief edutainment officer of my business the accidental account. My goal is to provide you with thought provoking interviews with business leaders so you can become an effective improviser which will lead to building stronger relationships with clients customers colleagues and even your family. So let’s start to show.

Peter: [00:00:52] Welcome to episode 63 and today my guest is Bob Dean, who is the founder of Dean learning and Talent Advisers. Bob works at the intersection of learning and development, talent management, and facilitated collaboration. Building on experience as a chief learning officer and a global talent management leader, Bob consults with companies on how to accelerate behavior change and business results from investments in people. Bob uses an innovative collaboration approach in working with clients to drive optimum results from business change projects. Bob is working as a practitioner consultant Using ThinkTank, a collaboration-as-a-service software company. By providing a collaborative structure to the way people work together, ThinkTank enables leaders to transform business processes and create a culture of collaboration, innovation, and engagement. Bob serves as a collaboration experience designer and facilitator delivering both face to face and virtual sessions for ThinkTank partners and other clients. Our conversation is framed around ThinkTank, collaboration, and an article that we wrote titled The New CPE: Collaborative Learning Experiences. Before we get to the interview, I like to talk about Listen Learn and Earn. I have partnered with the Maryland Association of CPA and the business learning institute to bring exciting new learning opportunity for accounting professionals to earn CPE credits you can earn up to one self-study CPE credit for each completed pie cast episode purchased for only $29 through the Maryland Association of CPA and the business learning institute self-study website. The podcast episodes are mobile friendly. Open your browser on your smartphone tablet or computer. Go to the Imay CPA belie self-study account and listen to an episode. Take the review and final exam while you’re working out. After listening to an episode on your commute to and from work. It’s that easy. While I also liked that improv no joke podcasts are available on my web site. Only those purchased in the CPA be self-study Web site are eligible for C-p self-study credit. You can get the detailed instructions by visiting my website at. Peter Margarita’s dot com and click on the graphic. Listen Learn and Earn improvs is no joke podcast on the home page. I hope you enjoy this exciting and flexible way of earning C-p credit. OK now let’s get to the interview with Bob Dean.

Peter: [00:03:35] Hey Bob I greatly appreciate you taking time out to be on my podcast again. Second time so thank you so very much.

Bob: [00:03:43] It’s my pleasure Peter. I’m looking forward to it. And we always have good conversation.

Peter: [00:03:48] Yes we do. You are in Episode 31. And a few weeks ago we were having you were sharing a story with me that related back to an article that we coauthored, a white paper in 2012 titled The new CPE collaborative learning experiences, and I thought it would be great for the audience to hear the story that you shared because it’s it’s quite frankly pretty amazing.

Bob: [00:04:14] Yeah sure. When we wrote the article I was really focused on my use of ThinkTank as a collaboration tool and I saw great potential for using it for learning and development. Virtual learning and development and that was five years ago. And since then as you know I’ve done a lot of virtual classroom sessions using ThinkTank which is highly interactive and in a way that is more engaging than anything I’ve seen on any other platform. But now I’ve recently had an opportunity to truly facilitate collaboration learning community with over a hundred people virtually.

Peter: [00:04:57] Wow. And before we get into the crux of the story can you explain or describe what ThinkTank is?

Bob: [00:05:06] Yeah they take is a 25 year old collaboration software that is very unique in that it was born out of research at a university. The research was on collaboration and the faculty doing the research found that there were some critical success factors to great collaboration and one of them was anonymity. And so they looked around and said well there’s nothing out there now that allows us to do anonymous collaboration. They built ThinkTank. They took it to market and it’s being used by a number of large companies globally. And I’ve been using it myself in my consulting business for the last six years.

Peter: [00:05:53] I had purchased a license and was using it and not as familiar with ThinkTank as you are. But I’ve got a working knowledge of it and I had been touting that the power of it as a collaborative learning platform and people still give me that kind of a Scooby-Doo awrrooo. Can you describe this to me. I’ve told them to go back and listen to episode 31. We talk about that as well as I’m pointing in to this episode to talk about you. You had a virtual collaboration with over 100 people?

Bob: [00:06:27] Yes. Yes, and it was for 90 minutes.

Peter: [00:06:30] OK so how did you do that? I mean I got a headache just thinking about trying to do something like that.

Bob: [00:06:36] Well it wasn’t much different from if you had a conference in a ball room in a hotel and you had a speaker who perhaps laid out some provocative ideas and questions for the group in the first 20 minutes and then they went off to break out. Now with 100 people in the hotel you would need 10 breakout rooms right. And you’d have to move people and hope that they made it there on time and have a facilitator and try to record what they were doing, and then report back. Right we’ve all seen that model right.

Peter: [00:07:12] Right.

Bob: [00:07:12] Well basically we get the equivalent of that virtually. We had a keynote upfront for about 15 or 20 minutes. The participants all listened to that and there were slides a few slides. They could type in questions if they had questions about the slides and the content. And then once that was finished we then took them into 10 virtual breakouts and these were people that were already in communities if you will. We knew what community they were a part of. The communities were all listed in ThinkTank in an activity, one activity, and everybody followed instructions, went into the right community and ThinkTank by clicking on it, and then went into the conference call break out by using their conference line. And obviously to get everybody in the right place and with 100 people you needed it to be almost perfect because you didn’t want a bunch of people saying I can’t I can’t get into my community, what’s wrong?

Peter: [00:08:21] Right.

Bob: [00:08:22] So you had to rehearse it. You had to give good instructions. And then, with fingers crossed, everybody got in the right place and there were facilitators in each of the virtual breakouts that then went another 40 minutes with community discussion and use of ThinkTank to record ideas and questions. So no flip charts needed because we recorded everything in ThinkTank.

Peter: [00:08:49] So let me think about this… so you get it in the breakout rooms and you facilitating this yourself or did you have somebody helping you?

Bob: [00:08:57] Each community so again imagine 10 communities with 10 people each up so a hundred people. Each community had a designated leader.

Peter: [00:09:07] OK.

Bob: [00:09:07] And we had had a call with the community leaders a few days before to walk them through what their role would be with a group of ten and what they would need to do in ThinkTank to get their participants to record their ideas and use ThinkTank effectively. And again it would be akin to having if you had five flip charts in a breakout room, and People were supposed to write their ideas on different flip charts. It’s basically the same thing except they were in a ThinkTank activity and they recorded their ideas and ThinkTank. But they were also able to talk. So there was a combination of verbal discussion and recording of ideas and thinking.

Peter: [00:09:51] So the demographics of this group of hundred… they were not in one location they were spread out for United States or even around the world?

Bob: [00:10:01] We had people at one hundred desktops in 100 locations.

Peter: [00:10:04] And 100 locations all coming together to… And I assume after the keynote was done when they got into the breakout sessions where were these sessions pre-populated with questions that you wanted the participants to answer?

Bob: [00:10:20] Yeah that’s a great question. We designed a ThinkTank that every right out was was pre-populated with several questions, and each break out had the same questions. So you’ll find as interesting. As the overall facilitator, once I had them in the breakout, I felt like an air traffic controller. I could actually go and look in on every breakout just by clicking on ThinkTank, and I could actually see if they were working and if they were engaged and when I could go in there and see that all 10 had activity going on it was really exciting.

Peter: [00:11:03] Was it the same activity in all 10 groups or did each of them have a specific activity?

Bob: [00:11:08] Yeah for this session they all did the same activity. They all had the same questions they were answering. Right. And so if you can imagine the facilitator says. “All right quick on the question number three. And I’d like you to take two minutes to answer the question.” So everybody’s typing all 10 people are typing in answering the question, and then he them down a few responses that he or she wanted to drill down on and because in ThinkTank you can not only have anonymity but you can also turn on name tags if you want to. We have the name tags on so you know I can see the ideas and say “Hi Jim. You have a really interesting idea. Would you speak about it to the group?” and that was all going on in the virtual conference call breakout rooms.

Peter: [00:12:01] So all this information is being captured. Now when someone’s speaking on the conference call, is that information been recorded as well typed in the ThinkTank?

Bob: [00:12:11] You can record it. You know any sophisticated conference call lines can record. But you know how that is. I don’t know that anybody’s ever going to go back and listen to those recordings.

Peter: [00:12:23] So some of the information may not be caught in this if if if somebody is not scribing it and but… So you’ve got 10 people and how many questions do they have to answer?

Bob: [00:12:36] They answered three questions. So they just moved from one to the next. We’re guided by their facilitator. And you know again this is all new. We’ve now done two of these two consecutive months in a row with 100 hundred people, and again we did this four times. So we’re talking three to four hundred people in four sections.

Peter: [00:12:58] Wow!

Bob: [00:12:59] You know I have to say, we probably found out that we don’t have enough time in the break because when we get the feedback at the end the biggest comment is need more time in break outs.

Peter: [00:13:13] Really?!

Bob: [00:13:14] Oh yeah. So what started out being 90 minutes should actually be two hours.

Peter: [00:13:20] So an extra 30 minutes would be a game changer as well.

Bob: [00:13:24] You know you can relate to this you’ve been in breakout rooms where somebody comes to the door and says you have five minutes to finish up and you’re in a really good groove. You’re like well we’re not we’re not close to being done yet. Sorry, you got five minutes and we’re reconvening. That same that same dynamic happened in ThinkTank virtually. And you know we can tell about it. I was the air traffic controller with some groups were not getting finished with all the questions.

Peter: [00:13:51] Interesting. I like using the air traffic controller analogy because I do believe in your son an air traffic controller?

Bob: [00:13:59] Yeah he he passed through the FAA Academy and I know a lot about that. And you can see all the planes converging on your airport right. Well in this case I can see all the breakout rooms. Imagine you get a big group like that. Can you imagine if you could sit in front of 10 monitors and see what’s going on in every breakout room?

Peter: [00:14:18] That would be way cool.

Bob: [00:14:20] I had that I basically had that ability. I just was only seeing what they were writing down. But I can sure tell whether they were engaged in the topic or not.

Peter: [00:14:31] And that’s one thing about about ThinkTank to the audience is the fact that everybody participates. You get everybody’s thought. Especially when they’re quote unquote invisible, nobody can tell who it is. The amount of information that can be captured on ThinkTank far exceeds what we could do in a live classroom.

Bob: [00:14:57] Yeah it was amazing and again I don’t want to make it sound like this was just taking what you might do in our conference and break out and putting it online because we can do a lot more. But one of the things that was interesting is once we returned from the breakouts and we were all back on the main conference line, we took people into another activity and you know how when you come back from break guards and you go back to your tables oftentimes you want people to report out to the main group?

Peter: [00:15:29] Right.

Bob: [00:15:30] We did that reporting out in ThinkTank as well. We had the community leaders answer a question about you know what were the biggest takeaways for your group and they just type them all in, and then we had the participants answer a different question about you know What help that they need in the overall learning solution in order to keep up the momentum. So we have different groups working on different questions and then when it was all done we did it all in the main room.

Peter: [00:16:01] That’s outstanding. I mean when you were sharing the story with me a few weeks ago I was I was mesmerized quite frankly of what you were able to do with such a large group. Because when I was introduced to ThinkTank by you this number keeps ticking in my head. You really don’t want anything over 25 people in there and when you told me and over 100 and you facilitate over 400 in a day… that just blew me away.

Bob: [00:16:27] Yeah well you know I I think ThinkTanks come a long way in the last six years I’ve been using it. And you’re right I would have been very wary of doing this many people. But one of the things about ThinkTank and you know this from using web access and go to meeting things… when you have a presenter with a hundred slides, not only is that a problem for engagement but with some platforms it may cause a performance problem in the platform. So with this ThinkTank session we only had about seven or eight slides, and because of that having 100 people on line was not a problem. It’s the slides that can really find a weigh down the performance of any virtual meeting or learning platform.

Peter: [00:17:17] Correct. Yeah. We tend to be a little bit to slide heavy where we should be know take the Abraham Lincoln approach where less is more and have more engagement, and whether it’s a virtual classroom or a live classroom.

Bob: [00:17:33] So I have to give credit to my client because they’re the ones that really pushed this and said we want to do a hundred and fifty people, and you know failure is OK. If it doesn’t work, we’ll learn something. And we ended up with a hundred because you couldn’t get everybody there but it was incredibly successful. I really… I can’t say I had any problems at all. The biggest lesson learned was I had a code leader. I was leading all the ThinkTank facilitation and then I had a colleague who handle all of the conference call line logistics. I’m glad I didn’t have to do both.

Peter: [00:18:19] Yeah that would have been a lot. So you said some of the feedback was we didn’t have enough time in the breakdowns. What were some of the other feedback the participants were giving you about the experience?

Bob: [00:18:32] Well they they just really enjoyed having to be being able to have a meeting with their community team and being able to do it virtually you know and not have to get on any airplanes, which they knew they wouldn’t have been able to do. And being able to do it where everyone got away from their work and spend 90 minutes to gather, and it was the first time of what could end up being a monthly session. So there was a lot of excitement about how well it worked. But I’ll tell you another insight I had Peter was the demographics of this group was all basically people probably between 27 and 30 years old.

Peter: [00:19:17] Okay.

Bob: [00:19:19] I was the only baby boomer.

Peter: [00:19:21] Hahaha.

Bob: [00:19:21] And they were they were all millennials. And quite frankly I haven’t done a session where I have all millennials. And it was almost like ThinkTank was just intuitively obvious to them, and nobody ended up getting lost. Nobody went into the wrong place. They just they know how to click around and they follow instructions and if they make a mistake they find their way back to the right place.

Peter: [00:19:49] Wow. Yeah. Because I know when we’ve had these things back in the day with ThinkTank with a baby boomer group. It feels like we spent too much time just on the logistics and how to get in and stuff ourselves into the meat of it. And I can and I can only assume that this group of 27 or 30 year olds were really engaged and really embrace this type of platform.

Bob: [00:20:17] No doubt they were very engaged.

Peter: [00:20:19] And I think about this from a from a big… Because you know very large client and like you said nobody had to get on a plane. Nobody had to travel. Nobody had to be away. Nobody had hotel rooms. So I would have I would assume that the cost of the platform is less than what it would cost to bring everybody together at a location to do the exact same exercise.

Bob: [00:20:42] Oh yeah in this case the client has a very cost-efficient license, and they’re able to use it almost like if they were using their own office conference or something like that. But again we’ve got people all over the country, from different parts of the world, on this. That we have some people from Europe. We have people from Latin America and Canada. So it was truly a global session.

Peter: [00:21:08] That’s cool. So. And at the end of the day, end of the session, they’re walking away because you’re providing them a report from everything that was transcribed. And these breakout sessions and the keynote in the main session. They’re getting that document correct?

Bob: [00:21:27] Yeah the client of course really values having to document because they are wanting to analyze all the input on those questions and the participants can also access it as well because this learning initiative has a learning environment where they can go to access content and other resources for the whole two year journey they’re on.

Peter: [00:21:53] So think about this and think about a conversation. I mean you see so many applications for ThinkTank within an organization and you were discussing about using ThinkTank as an onboarding process.

Bob: [00:22:09] Yes. I mean you and I when we wrote the article we immediately envisioned that a collaborative learning community the whole concept of learning through collaboration could be used with onboarding. Because there’s a famous book called The first 90 days which was written about 20 years ago, and it basically suggests that if you’re onboarding new hires or experience hires, and you don’t get them fully on board in everything they need to know (people they need to meet, resources they need to find and know where they are, things they need to learn about the company like policies and procedures and core values). You not only can’t cover all of that in a one day new hire orientation session, but even if you could they never remember it all.

Peter: [00:23:01] Right.

Bob: [00:23:02] So to be able to have a 90 day collaboration community in ThinkTank, where let’s say over a 90 day period you might have five scheduled collaboration sessions of two hours each, and then you might have some other time where there were asynchronous resources in ThinkTank that you could go and look at. This to me is a breakthrough in terms of thinking about a 90-day onboarding process. And we really envision that in our article and now I feel like if I could find a client that wants to do it I feel like I’m really ready.

Peter: [00:23:40] So because it’s critical to get somebody on board and acclimated within those first 90 days because if you don’t the probability of them leaving the organization dramatically increases. Correct?

Bob: [00:23:52] Absolutely. And not only that but they’ll start… They may even come in to work every day and they may not be as confident as they would if they learned everything they need to know in that first 90 days. And we can all relate to that because we’ve all had different jobs and we’ve all been through a poor onboarding experience and maybe a pretty good one, but most companies have trouble with this because they they try to fix the problem of onboarding new hires with a two day workshop.

Peter: [00:24:23] Right. And that that doesn’t stick. There’s got to be some follow up after that. You just just can’t cut them loose. But a lot of times they do too. Two day workshop. Two hour workshop. whatever. OK. Now go to work.

Bob: [00:24:38] I mean I have had experience with this and another large client. I’ve told you this story where we had knowledge networks established and they were in Sharepoint, and we basically created a new hire network in Sharepoint and after a two day workshop we basically gave people the link to their next 88 days, and they were going to be in in the new network. But that was all asynchronous. And although I think it was very interesting and there was a lot of good interaction, I believe that you do need to bring people together and have live collaboration community discussions in order to really get people engaged.

Peter: [00:25:22] And I remember we were talking about this when we wrote this article… as I think about that and using ThinkTank to create this collaboration vehicle I think it’s critical right now. I think ThinkTank would be a very valuable tool for companies to use in trying to deal with this new revenue recognition principle.

Bob: [00:25:57] Yeah absolutely. I mean you and I have talked about this a lot. The model for technical training on the new issue within the accounting firms and in the accounting profession… That model hasn’t really changed for 60 years. And it’s get a guru to give an update, whether they do it in a classroom or whether they do it in a virtual classroom, and they’re giving the update on the new issue right at the beginning of the process. And at the time people attend that… number one they may not be needing to implement the issue for another six months, so that the training is not just in time. And secondly, at that point that a new issue is being released, there’s very little experience in implementing it. So what really would be valuable is, let’s say on revenue recognition, a 12 month collaboration community experience where people came back once a month and they shared experiences they were having with implementation, and this can even be done in breakouts by using let’s say company size breakouts or industry breakouts. So if you are getting if you are getting a plenary session from Pete Margaritis for 30 minutes and then he said let’s break into 10 industry breakouts now. You all know what industry you’re in. And if you go to the right breakout you’re going to probably get a lot more value out of this and if you go to the wrong breakout.

Peter: [00:27:33] Right. Right. I mean this is a great tool for AICPA to put it into the learning platform to do something like that. I love that idea.

Bob: [00:27:41] Yeah I don’t and I don’t want to make people think this is all about the platform right. This is ThinkTank is an enabler, but without really good facilitation, and really a lot of confidence going in that this is going to work, then the platform itself is not going to have any magic to it without a great facilitation team.

Peter: [00:28:05] Correct. And that goes to that same that would go into a live classroom. But I think when I when I look at the two side by side and I go if I get a live group here I may not get everybody’s thoughts or ideas. I might just get a few, but ThinkTank has the ability to get all the ideas from people from everybody in that group, which makes it a much more richer experience, from a learning perspective, than just getting responses maybe from two or three people and then a live audience.

Bob: [00:28:40] Yeah. You know if we had revenue recognition as a topic and the first thing we did with a group of people who read the new pronouncement and had begun to think about implementation. If we asked them What are your questions. And we just had to type in questions one at a time, question after question. We then can take all those questions and we can cluster them into themes or buckets. And within a matter of five or 10 minutes, you’ve got hundreds of questions clustered into seven or eight buckets and you can never do that in the classroom.

Peter: [00:29:20] No. Not with any speed or accuracy or just yeah. That would be, to some degree, too much. But yeah you can’t do that. You can you can design the course the content and develop the course as you are conducting the class. It’s almost like doing the class on improv where You tell me where you want this to go, you give me the questions, and then we’re going to take that and build the rest of the day the rest of the two hours around that so we can answer your questions.

Bob: [00:29:52] Yeah absolutely. I’ve always felt, and again the same thing applies to onboarding, you know within the first 30 days you’re in a new company and you have colleagues that you met in a new hire orientation program… you’re all going your own way, you’re all walking different halls, you’re all meeting with different customers, you’re all using your computer in different ways, and you could all share your learnings and share your questions. And when you do that number one there’s a sigh of relief from people thinking “Wow I’m glad I’m not the only one who hasn’t figured that out.” And then there’s also a sigh of relief thinking I just learned seven things here today that will help make my life easier the rest of the week!

Peter: [00:30:44] Right. Right.

Bob: [00:30:46] It’s amazing that this stuff is not happening. And we read about problems with boarding programs all the time. It may be one of the most deep dark secrets in learning and development teams in all companies is it’s hard to get onboarding right. Really hard.

Peter: [00:31:06] And it’s so critical, but it is so hard to do that. That’s that’s correct. What other applications do you see ThinkTank being used on? Or do you have something coming up that you’re developing for a client that you’d like to share?

Bob: [00:31:20] Well I really believe in the power of it for virtual classroom. And again just similar to what you said earlier. I originally thought well I’m going to do a virtual classroom session as you know I do a writing course that is a very very very good course that was actually developed with a colleague 15 years ago and we did it for the classroom. But now we’re doing it with ThinkTank and that course of Initially I might have said Well 25 participants is the most we can do. But now I believe we could do 75 in a skill building course and if you think about that again you rarely would see that in a face to face environment. And people want it because they’d like to scale courses to as many people as possible. But as you know when you do that there’s no interactivity. You had 75 people in a ballroom and there’s no interactivity to speak of.

Peter: [00:32:21] Right. And Bob let me just say it’s not a very very very good course. It’s an outstanding course! I took the pilot with Bob and a group ,and I have a writing course that I teach a live audience. This thing blew me away into the interactivity, to the skill building everybody is doing. It’s a wonderful course. And I think all companies should should be using that course, quite frankly, because that’s one of the major issues most companies have is the ability for people to be able to write effectively.

Bob: [00:32:54] Yeah it is you it’s a huge issue and we’ll be pushing this out more in the in the coming year. I actually I’m glad you me this question though because there is another thing I would like to do and now that I am confidence in these ThinkTank virtual breakouts I should try this. I developed a presentation skills model over 15 years ago and it’s called the three S’s of successful presentations. I have delivered that course face to face in many companies, When I was chief learning officer and global head of learning. And I have tried it on ThinkTank but when I did it I had a small group. You know I had seven or eight people, and it was virtual. But now I think I could probably run that course for 50 people or 100 people. And I would put them into breakouts to do, and this would take longer than you know 40 minutes — It might take two hours — would be to practice their presentation skills that they just learned. So going to break breakouts and present to each other if you will, get feedback in the breakout on how you did, and then come back to the main room and ask questions. And now you’ve asked me this question I think I’m going to start working on this next. I’m going to start working on this next month because I basically have the course and it’s just it’s just a matter of designing the virtual breakouts!

Peter: [00:34:28] So I have to ask, what are the three S’s?

Bob: [00:34:31] Structure, substance, and style.

Peter: [00:34:36] I’m writing those down.

Bob: [00:34:37] Yeah I develop this based on my experience. I have a kind of a guru in each of those three areas that I’ve looked to as inspiration for presentation skills for Many years, and I just blended them all together.

Peter: [00:34:56] Nice. Nice. Well when you do get this course up and run it I’d like to sit in on the pilot.

Bob: [00:35:03] Well the other thing we could do… you and I went through an improv course together. Maybe we can figure out how to get our virtual improv course off the ground and have people going to break outs to practice.

Peter: [00:35:14] Yeah I know I think about that often and how to get that thing up and running and interactive. And now that’s… you know I have to put some more thought to it over the next… I’m getting ready go on vacation and while I’m on vacation I’ll put some thought to it because that’s when I get to do some thinking. Kind of as a wrap up the last words that you want to part on to our audience about this virtual collaboration?

Bob: [00:35:43] Yes I think I’ve been a big believer in the power of virtual collaboration communities ever since I first started using ThinkTank seven years ago. And then you and I met Tom Hood, and Tom has a point of view around learning from collaboration that is very compelling. He basically says in a world where change is happening faster and faster every week, we have to learn faster. And the way we learn faster will be learning through collaboration. It’s going to be faster than learning from experience. And I think that’s a very true statement because when people learn from experience they do have some rich learning, but they have a tough time sharing them with other people, and with ThinkTank we could learn from experience of like in the case of that revenue recognition learn from implementation experiences, but share them and ask questions about them and they have a whole group go away more excited about what they’re going to do next because of collaboration. So I think I feel like this is much nearer a reality. And I guess the thing that’s good right now is when people went into this 10 session with a hundred people and they went into virtual breakout groups… it didn’t feel that radical because we have done that in hotel ballrooms.

Peter: [00:37:17] That’s very interesting. Yeah and I agree wholeheartedly with what Tom Hood said about the way we need to learn through collaboration versus experience. And I’m aligned with you on this Bob that I think I think the platform of ThinkTank versus WebEx to some of these others leads us down into that true collaborative community. And I’m I’m looking forward to seeing how this continues to develop because like when we wrote that paper five years ago. Yeah it did seem to be almost you know kind of far fetched at the time but it came true awful quick.

Bob: [00:38:02] Yeah and for those listening to this that are worried about getting CPE, there is a way to turn on name tags in ThinkTank and have people do an interaction every 20 minutes. So we can tell if they’re present. So if that’s a big deal, you can combine collaborative learning communities with CPE compliance. It’s possible in ThinkTank.

Peter: [00:38:29] Yes it is possible. And I guess the key here is turning the name tags on verses… because there’s no back reporting that everybody logged in. But you don’t know when people do log off during the session do you? It’s not it’s not in the report is it?

Bob: [00:38:47] No you really can’t can’t can’t tell. So you know but but again in a room full of 100 people you have trouble telling if two people walk out of the room too.

Peter: [00:38:55] Right. So the name tags are critical and that in order from a compliance aspect. Well Bob I appreciate you taking time to share this information, to share this discovery with my audience. And if somebody wants to get in contact with them how can they find you?

Bob: [00:39:13] Well you can finally find me first by searching on LinkedIn for Bob Dean, but also you can e-mail me at RobertHDean@comcast.net.

Peter: [00:39:28] And Bob’s located in the Chicago area and I will leave the conversation by saying Bob’s two favorite words: Go Cubs.

Bob: [00:39:44] Yeah, we got a couple months to get back to where we need to be for the World Series this year.

Peter: [00:39:50] Bob’s a big Cub fan and he actually goes to a lot of the games. He’s going to the Cubs Cardinals game tomorrow at 3. So I wish the Cubs luck. I mean my reds are so far out of it it’s it’s just not even worth even cheering for them. But I like to loveable Cubs get back to get back to the world series again.

Bob: [00:40:12] Yeah it’ll be another great fall if they do.

Peter: [00:40:17] Hahaha. Well thanks again Bob I appreciate it.

Bob: [00:40:18] OK. Thank you.

Peter: [00:40:23] I would like to think Bob again for being a guest today and sharing his thoughts on his recent experiences with virtual collaboration and the power of ThinkTank. I have partnered with the Maryland Association of CPA and the business learning institute to bring exciting new learning opportunity for accounting professionals to earn CPE credits you can earn up to one self-study CPE credit for each completed PI cast episode purchased for only $29 through the Maryland Association of CPA and the business learning institute self-study website. The podcast episodes are mobile friendly. Open your browser on your smartphone tablet or computer. Go to the Imay CPA belie self-study account and listen to an episode. Take the review and final exam while you’re working out. After listening to an episode on your commute to and from work it’s that easy. Also like to improv no joke. Podcasts are available on my web site. Only those purchased in the CPA be self-study Web site are eligible for C-p self-study credit. You can get the detailed instructions by visiting my website at Peter Margarita’s dot com and click on the graphic. Listen Learn and Earn. Improv is no joke podcast on the home page. I hope you enjoy this exciting and flexible way of earning C-p credit. Remember you can subscribe to my podcast on iTunes ditcher and Google Play if you like to purchase a personalized signed copy of my book. Improv is no joke. Using improvisation to create positive results and leadership and in life. For fourteen ninety nine and the ship it is free. Go to my Web site and you’ll see the available now. Graphic on my home page. Just click and go to the shopping cart. In addition you can download improvs no joke audio book for fourteen ninety nine so you can listen on the go. You can follow me on social media. You can find me on Facebook by searching the accidental accountant. My Twitter handle is at P Margarita’s. You can connect with me Alington by searching my entire name and on Instagram by searching the margaritas in Episode 64. I interviewed Chris Schier who is the founder of two companies Madison and fifth a marketing agency and joined my table a new platform for prepaid group dining created to encourage community and increase our time spent and real world conversation. Thank you again for listening and I greatly appreciate it if you’d leave a review on iTunes. Remember use the principles of improvisation to help you better connect and communicate with those in your organization.

 

Resources:

Production & Development for Improv Is No Joke by Podcast Masters

 

Ep 62 – Patrick Donadio: Communicating with IMPACT

 

Today our guest is Patrick Donadio, MBA, CSP, and MCC. For the past three decades, he has guided leaders and their organizations with powerful presentations and one-on-one business communications coaching.

In his desire to help leaders grow their people, Patrick has taken his decades of experience and crafted a results-based process for his new leader’s guide, Communicating with IMPACT, focused on improving communication, increasing profits, and boosting performance in less time.

Patrick’s process, The IMPACT Model, outlines The Six Keys to Communication. As you go through these six keys, think about which one is a weakness for you and try to pick up a couple of tips you can put in practice tomorrow.

The IMPACT Model

  • I is the intention. What’s my intention for this conversation? What do I want the person(s) I’m communicating with to think, do, or feel after we’ve met?
  • M is the message & the method. How do I craft a message that’s going to help me achieve the intention I have for this communication, and what method of communication will be most effective (verbal, nonverbal, or writing)? People respond differently to different forms of communication.
  • P is the person. Who am I communicating with and how do I adjust my communication to that particular person?
  • A is to activate. How do I activate this message to engage me and my receiver? A little rule of thumb: every three to five minutes you want to be engaging the receiver physically, mentally, or emotionally.
  • C is clarify. How do you make sure that what we both said is being communicated correctly?
  • T is transform. How do you transform this particular interaction into the result that you actually set for yourself?

The first half – IMP – is the planning phase. What’s my intention, what am I going to say to achieve the intention, and how am I going to adjust the message to make sure that it fits this person I’m communicating with? The second half – ACT – is the activate phase.

Put it all together, take about two minutes before you open your mouth, and you too can be communicating with impact.

You can order your copy of Communicating with IMPACT now, which also includes a “Communication Inventory” to rate your current communication skills!

Download this Episode MP3.

Resources:

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

 

Patrick: [00:00:00] Anybody can talk, but not everybody can communicate with impact.

[music]

Peter: [00:00:13] Welcome to Improv is no Joke podcast, where it’s all about becoming a more effective communicator by embracing the principles of improvisation. I’m your host Peter Margaritis, the self-proclaimed chief edutainment officer of my business, the Accidental Accountant. My goal is to provide you with thought provoking interviews with business leaders so you can become an effective improviser, which will lead to building stronger relationships with clients, customers, colleagues, and even your family. So let’s start to show

[music]

Peter: [00:00:44] Welcome to episode number 58 and today my guest is Patrick Donadio, MBA, CSP, and MCC. For the past three decades, Patrick has spoken nationally and internationally and trained thousands of leaders and their teams in a variety of industries from Fortune 100 companies to associations. In his desire to help C-suite executives and all leaders grow their people, Patrick has taken his decades of experience and crafted a results-based process for his new book, Communicating with IMPACT, focused on improving communication, increasing profits, and boosting performance in less time. Patrick serves on the board of the National Speaker’s Association and is one of only four people in the world to have are both the certified speaking professional designation from the National Speakers Association and the Master Certified Coach designation from the International Coach Federation (The highest earned designations in both associations). As an educator, he has taught communications at the University of Notre Dame, the Weatherhead School of Management, the Ohio State University, and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs.

[music]

Peter: [00:02:04] Patrick welcome. I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to be a guest on my podcast today.

Patrick: [00:02:10] Hello there Peter. How are you my friend?

Peter: [00:02:12] I’m doing wonderful. And how about yourself?

Patrick: [00:02:14] We’re doing great. Always good to talk with you.

Peter: [00:02:17] Always good. Always good to talk with you. And before we begin this interview I do want to share a story about you that really resonated with me for… Still to this day. And I don’t know if you remember this but way back when, when the NSA Ohio chapter had our meetings down at downtown Columbus at the Crown Plaza. My first time I walked in there I was a little bit intimidated – it was probably 75, 80 people in the room – and at one of the breaks you came up to me and introduced yourself and said I see you’re new and kind of tell me a little bit about yourself. And I did. You were very kind. And then after the meeting was over you stopped me and you said “do you have a one page?” And I had this… what? What’s a one page thingy? And you said Sit down. I sat that and you scoped this one page out for me on a piece of paper and gave it to me and said next meeting I want you to come to me and when you show me your one pager, and I did. I’ve never forgotten that because, I could summarize my interaction with you over the years, you’re kind, you’re helping – just as we’re going to talk about today, you want to have an impact in other people’s lives and you had a huge impact on mine. And I greatly appreciate it.

Patrick: [00:03:41] Yeah. Well thank you. You know I don’t remember that. Obviously I love helping and you know I think what we do is so critical. And people who are listening you know you don’t realize the kind of difference you can really make a great difference when all you do is just be kind and help others.

Peter: [00:03:54] And you did that. And I tell everybody that story when they ask me “Tell me about an NSA. What is it?” And I revert back to that story. My first experience, which has been a lasting experience. So I once again thank you my friend.

Patrick: [00:04:10] Well you’re welcome.

Peter: [00:04:11] So what’s going on in your life, Patrick? Anything new? Anything you’ve been working on? Anything you’d like to share?

Patrick: [00:04:18] Yeah you know it’s funny you should ask because I’ve been working on this book for about eight years now. You know every time I go to the next Speaker Association in Ohio chapter they’re going “so hey how’s that book.” Like in the sense that you’re really not writing a book are you. You’re just making that up. So finally, believe it or not, I’ve gotten the book out and it’s called Communicating with Impact. And it’s not so much about the book, Peter, it’s just about the idea of giving something to someone that they can take with them to continue the learning. Because you and I know when people come to our workshops and seminars they get some great ideas, but a lot of times either they want to go deeper or they go back to work and they forget to apply the skills that they learn. So having these resources are a great value to my clients. That’s the biggest reason I wrote the book. Not to be a best-seller, but the keep adding value.

Peter: [00:05:05] And that’s that’s a critical point because I feel the same way. In my speaking engagements or an event, we’re there, we’re doing what we do, we’re sharing our knowledge… But after that, if there’s not some tangible pieces out there that they can go to – whether it’s your book, my book, articles, listening to podcasts – then they’ll revert back. They’ll go back into that rut and they won’t change that behavior that they ultimately want to change, and keeping things like this in front of individuals I think is very important.

Patrick: [00:05:34] Well I found that for me I was teaching this topic for years and then I finally realized that people kept asking me “do you have a book?” and I’m like no. And so I realized I need to listen to my customer. If you’re listening today, the best thing you can do to really make an impact in your business is listen to your customer, and when my customer kept asking me that question I figured I better take the hint.

Peter: [00:05:55] So when you took the hint, I’m just curious – Did you have the title in mind? You had the topic in mind, but how did the first piece flush itself out.

Patrick: [00:06:09] Yeah well I’ve been teaching communication skills for 20 some years and I change the title to Communicating with Impact and I thought I want to come up with a process. And so initially I just had a five-step process, and it worked. But then I realized that’s hard to remember. So then I took my five step process and I took the word impact and I created an acronym to come up with a six-step process. Because I think, if something’s simple, people will remember it. And I also think, if people have a process, they get a much greater result. So that’s kind of how the book got started.

Peter: [00:06:42] And when you say the word process that’s the second thing that comes into my mind as it relates to you: you’re very process oriented. I remember the time that I was a coaching client of yours and you were helping me put processes and procedures into place because I had no process, nor did I have a procedure, and you’re very good about processes. And as I’ve looked through some of the materials that you have sent in advance, I just looked at it and immediately think, “That’s Patrick.” I mean this this is you. This is your brand.

Patrick: [00:07:13] Thank you. Part of that because I believe in processes. Just a quick little story: I was in Japan, 1991, as a goodwill ambassador and after about two or three weeks staying with Japanese families and eating sushi, which by the way sushi is great but I’m not a big raw fish guy. I grew up you know in the 60s when we had fish sticks. That was my kind of fish. So about the third week I was with these Japanese families and I had this one host family and I said to the young children hey listen you guys have McDonalds? Because I would really like a hamburger because I’m just kind of homesick. So we went to McDonald’s. I got the Big Mac, which was about six bucks. I don’t care. I would have paid 20. I was so happy to have some comfort food. I had the fries and the green tea shake. And as I was eating those French fries, Peter, I said wow these fries taste exactly the same as they do right here in Ohio. How can you be around the world and still get the same thing? And then I realize McDonald’s has a process to make sure that you get this consistent result, and then that’s when I got the idea: you know if I want to come back to the States I want to start creating processes because I’m not getting consistent results.

Peter: [00:08:18] Wow, that’s a great story, and what a cool way to see that vision – being in a foreign country and craving a big mac, or however you pronounce that.

Patrick: [00:08:33] The other reason I created processes, I’ll be quite frank with you Peter, is I’m not a very good structured person. And when I started my business I wasn’t making a lot of money because I didn’t have a system, and I would have little post-it notes or pieces of paper and things on index cards and realize that I forgot the follow up with this client. And I said well I’ve got to do something to get organized. So it’s really valuable for me to keep be focused to get more work done.

Peter: [00:08:59] I’m glad you don’t have your camera on and can see into my office because there’s post-it notes and index cards and stuff lying around. I digress. Let’s keep moving forward.

Patrick: [00:09:09] I was going to say so anyways I thought about this workshop, I thought I was teaching these five steps, and I thought if I can make it easier. So I came up with the word impact and that’s how I created the six keys to communicating with impact, and these six pieces are what I think, anytime you have a conversation with a prospect or you’re in front of a group making a presentation or if you’re out with a client… you know everything we do. I mean it’s amazing how much of what we do is communications. So I create this quick simple impact process, and if you’d like I can quickly give you the six keys. It’s easy to remember – you just remember the word impact you know the six keys.

Peter: [00:09:43] I’d love to hear the six keys.

Patrick: [00:09:44] Yeah. And we can go deeper into whatever you want, but here they are. They’re very easy: The I in the IMPACT model is the intention. What’s my intention for this conversation? We have an intention today. The M is the message. So how do I craft a message that’s going to help me achieve the intention I have for this communication? M is also the method, too, because you know people respond differently to different forms of communication. The P in the IMPACT is the person. So who am I communicating with and how do I adjust my communication to that particular person? So that’s the first part – I call this the planning phase of the process. Or you can think IMP – I am planning. But the IMP part is the first phase, and then the ACT is actually how do you take the process that you came up with and then you put it into action. So the A is to activate. How do I activate this message to engage me and my receiver? The C is clarify. How do you make sure that what we both sent is being communicated correctly? Because a lot of times there’s a lot of miscommunication that happens. And then the T, which you know prior to coming up with this new model I had the five steps and I stop with the C, and I realized there’s something more important that we don’t think about: how do you transform this particular interaction into the result that we actually set for ourselves? So that T is transformed. So that’s it. IMPACT: intention, message, person, active, clarify, transform. Put it all together, take about two minutes before you open your mouth, and you too can be communicating with impact.

Peter: [00:11:16] OK so I think, for the benefit of my audience, going maybe not real deep but putting some depth into each one of these little bit more because I think those who are listening, as well as myself, are intrigued by this process that you have developed.

Patrick: [00:11:34] Yeah. So we could even start at the beginning if you’re like. You know you can take me through wherever you want to go.

Peter: [00:11:38] Let’s start with the I and go all the way through.

Patrick: [00:11:41] Well the I is the intention. So I have this simple little phrase: intent before content.

Peter: [00:11:49] I like that. I like that.

Patrick: [00:11:51] Right so you and I have an intention today: we want to share some great ideas so that your listeners walk away with some tools that they could use to be better communicators. That’s my intention for our call. So no matter what I do today I want to make sure I’m giving value to our listeners because that’s my intention.

Peter: [00:12:08] OK.

Patrick: [00:12:09] Now here’s the thing, Peter: This step is so simple it takes basically 30 seconds, but I can guarantee you most people don’t take 30 seconds and ask themselves before they pick up the phone, before they go to lunch, before they make a presentation. You know why am I having this conversation? So the first step is the why. I mean to be honest – I mean do you take that 30 seconds a lot of times before you pick up a phone or send an e-mail and ask yourself why am I saying this?

Peter: [00:12:32] I will be honest with you.. Some years ago, no, I didn’t, but I’ve become more.. I’ve practiced that a lot more. Why am I making this phone call? Why am I asking this individual to be part of my podcast? I have a lot of Whys out there so I’ve become better at that.

Patrick: [00:12:48] And I tell people in the workshop you know if you left right now you’d be a better communicator. Just spend 30 seconds and ask yourself why this conversation, why this communication. So it’s a very simple step, it doesn’t take a lot of time, and it’s very easy. So I want our listeners today, as they go as we go through these six keys, think about what’s one of these things that you may not be doing that well. Maybe the first one is really I’m not spending that 30 seconds on asking myself why before I go out there to communicate. But I hope if you’re listening today, and if you’re not driving, you take out a pen and a piece of paper and see if you can pick up a couple of tips you could put in the practice tomorrow to be a better communicator, to grow your business, and to build deeper relationships.

Peter: [00:13:26] OK next is the M.

Patrick: [00:13:28] Next is the M, But let me just tell you, before we go onto the M, there’s a little formula that I created in the intention process called the laser focused intention. And basically if you just answer these questions you can actually create a really good intention. So I’m going to give it to you for a minute and see if you might want to think about how you can apply it to communication you’ve got coming up. I’m going to talk to this audience or person about whatever the topic is so that they will think, do, or feel something. So just like a little fill in the blank. So do you have anything coming up where you could maybe use it as an example where you’re going to be talking or communicating with someone about a topic and maybe Let’s talk about what you want to have happen as a result of that interaction?

Peter: [00:14:15] I’ve got a number of speaking engagements coming up. I’m going to be talking about ethics with a CPA firm coming up.

Patrick: [00:14:23] OK. That’s so good. So I’m going to be talking about ethics with a CPA firm so that they will… What do you want them to think, do, or feel?

Peter: [00:14:30] I want them to think about… we get put in situations of gray. The gray part of ethics, and I want them to be able to think, feel, remember some of the stories that we’re talking about – real life situations like Wells Fargo, like Scott London former KPMG partner. So if they’re ever in that similar situation they’ll pause before they act.

Patrick: [00:14:54] Yeah look at that. So basically in 40 seconds you’ve already crafted almost your whole presentation. That’s how powerful this first step is. So if you’re listening right now and you’ve got a potential meeting with a prospect or you happen to be going out to see a client today you know just spent 30 seconds and saying Why am I having this meeting today and what do I want my client to think, do, or feel after we’ve met? And that’s how easy their first step is.

Peter: [00:15:17] It’s simple. It’s way too simple Patrick.

Patrick: [00:15:20] You’ve got to keep it simple for me Peter.

Peter: [00:15:22] Well me too.

Patrick: [00:15:26] So number one is intent before content, the intention step. The second piece is your intent drives your content. Right. So now you know what your intention is now spend a few minutes and think about what are the pieces of the message that I want to put together. And basically you kind of did that by answering that first laser focused intention formula. So I call this message management. Right. And we communicate, as you know, really there’s three different ways we can articulate our message: you can do it verbally, you can do it nonverbally, or you could do it in writing. Right. So you got to figure out which of those particular types of methods you want to use to communicate my message.

Peter: [00:16:04] OK.

Patrick: [00:16:05] Now it’s very critical to think about what’s the right approach. I always ask people, for example, Peter, what’s your preference for communication? You prefer a phone call, an email, a text?

Peter: [00:16:16] I prefer a phone call. I prefer face-to-face. I prefer a voice.

Patrick: [00:16:20] Yes. And that’s great. What I remind people of, when your craft and your message, is it’s not just about what you like; it’s about what they like. So if you understand the concept called projection – projection means you project on to other people what you would like. So if I said Peter I think you should be a little better at being funnier. That’s because I think funny is really important. I know you’re funny. But the point is I’m projecting onto you what I think is important. Well when you’re crafting a message you have to be careful that you don’t project onto your receiver. “Oh well they’ll like email or they’ll like phone calls because I like phone calls.

Peter: [00:16:59] Ah. Got it.

Patrick: [00:16:59] So when you’re crafting your message, you think about the method and it might be you know I love phone calls but this person is a CEO. They’re not going to pick up the phone so I may have to communicate by email or text. So in the end part you want to think about the message, but you also want to think about the method.

Peter: [00:17:16] I’ve never really thought about it like that, especially from the projection point.

Patrick: [00:17:19] Yeah. So we tend to do what we like.

Peter: [00:17:21] Right.

Patrick: [00:17:22] Now I know a lot of us know the basic pieces of good communication. If anybody’s been to college or high school and had a speech class we know the three parts: opening, body, closing. So when you’re crafting the message you know what am I going to say in the first few moments to get the audience’s attention? Even on a phone call. When you pick up the phone, Well what do you say in the first few moments when you’re calling somebody to make sure you got their attention? And then what do you say in the middle to make sure you cover the content? And then a lot of people forget about the closing. You know they just wrap it up with thank you or hey talk to you soon. And I think the closing, and we’ll come back to that little bit in that transformation step, is really important part of that transport and this interaction into the results that we really want. So again don’t forget the basics – like you know open, body, closing. Every communication, whether it be a phone call or a luncheon or a presentation, should have those three pieces.

Peter: [00:18:14] Exactly. As you’re communicating this to the audience and myself, I’m sitting here reflecting on past, present, and potentially the future of those three. And I would say of of mine the weaker of the three is probably the closing.

Patrick: [00:18:33] And I think a lot of folks… first of all, I don’t think a lot of people spend enough time thinking about these things. Because how many times have you heard this Peter? “Oh well you know I’d love to have you come on and help us but we really have to focus on the hard skills.

Peter: [00:18:47] [laughs]

Patrick: [00:18:47] Like what could be harder than communicating? Now you’re a CPA right? I mean no offense but two plus two is four. That’s pretty simple. We know the answer. When you go talk to somebody you can’t always guarantee that person is going to be the same as a person who just spoke to yesterday. It’s a very hard skill to be a good communicator.

Peter: [00:19:05] That’s my responses, usually. We call communication the soft skills but the way I look at it it’s really hard to master. We call them soft, but they’re really hard to master.

Patrick: [00:19:19] Exactly.

Peter: [00:19:19] And when I put in that context people go “oh yeah I guess he’s right.”

Patrick: [00:19:24] So I try to remind people that anybody can talk but not everybody can communicate with impact, and that’s the idea of having this process. So if we had a little more time I would go into some different tools we could use to craft the message because there are some simple things you can do that are very quick. You know when people want to do a presentation usually they think linear. So linear thinking is when you take out a piece of paper and you go OK what’s the first thing I want to say, what’s the second thing I want to say, what’s the third thing I want to say? And if you’ve ever had to write something, Peter, and you’re like me, you sit there you look at the blank screen or the blank piece of paper and you just feel like I don’t know what to say. It’s like I’m stuck because you’re in linear thinking about.

Peter: [00:20:04] OK. I think I think I know where you’re going with this please go on.

Patrick: [00:20:09] And if you really want to jumpstart your thought process I ask you to think non-linear, or as my book coach said: “Puke and polish.”

Peter: [00:20:20] [laughs]

Patrick: [00:20:20] I love that phrase, right? I hope you’re not having lunch right now. But the idea is just to puke it out and You could polish it later, but so many people want to polish it before they get it out there.

Peter: [00:20:33] Oh my gosh – yes they do. That’s true. And actually that was something that you also taught me about writing and I have used this – this puke and polish – Pete just put it in Dragon Dictation. Just get it out of your body.

Patrick: [00:20:49] Right.

Peter: [00:20:50] And then once it’s out of your body and onto paper or on the screen, now go in it and polish that thing.

Patrick: [00:20:56] Yes. So, again, because I’m an extrovert and you know extroverts like to speak before they think. So I found for me I pick up my phone or I just dictate a story or I dictate something and then I go back and look at it and I can actually fine tune it. Because it’s faster for me to dictate a story than to sit there and try to type out the story. Now everybody’s a little bit different but I think in general if you want to craft your message I encourage you to think non-linear and, if you want a quick tool, one of the tools I love to teach is called the mind map.

Peter: [00:21:30] Love the mind map.

Patrick: [00:21:32] Yeah and the mind map is a very simple tool we draw a circle. You put spokes – It looks like a wheel – and all you do is you say to yourself I’m going to give myself 90 seconds and all I’m going to do is write down the first thing that come to my mind when I think about my subject. So let’s say for example our listener today has got a meeting with a prospect tomorrow, a potential client. They’re going to do a mind map. What do I want to do at lunch tomorrow with this client? And I’m going to draw a circle and I’m going to start putting down thoughts. My first thought might be I’m going to ask questions. I just need to ask good questions. Second thing is I want to find a way to make it fun because I think if we build deeper relationships and have fun people will more likely want to work with us. I’m going to make sure that I have good manners because we’re having lunch.

Peter: [00:22:14] [laughs]

Patrick: [00:22:14] So I’m going to listen to my mom and make sure that I don’t hunch over my plate. But you just take 90 seconds and you do a little mind map, come up with some things you want to think about before you go and have this luncheon, and all of a sudden you’d be surprised at all the kind of thoughts you come up with. So I don’t know if we can you know put a link on a site for the mind map, or you could just google mind map, but it’s a great tool that I think gets you out of linear thinking and quickly helps you come up with some content.

Peter: [00:22:41] I was taught the same thing but just in a slightly different perspective… because I was doing a mind map, I was trying to fill out all the circles and dots and everything, and someone taught me this concept – I think it’s what you’re talking about – called clustering. It’s putting something in the middle of the page, dump in your mind, get it all out, then go through and organize those things that are alike and try to figure out what maybe those topics are. Then it fits cleanly into a mind map and you can continue to explore even more.

Patrick: [00:23:11] Yeah well you’re right. And once you’ve done the creativity part, which is just the puke part, then you polish. Then you say I like this idea and I guess I should cover this first and I should talk about this a little bit more. So it’s a process, again another process, But the idea is so many people, when they want to craft content, they get stuck because they’re so worried about being perfect or saying the right thing they can waste five minutes just looking at an empty screen. When you do a mind map, in two minutes, you’d have or five six ideas already.

Peter: [00:23:39] Exactly.

Patrick: [00:23:40] Don’t work harder, work smarter when you’re crafting your content. So intention right. Why am I having his communication. Message. What do I want to say or how do I want to say it or what method do I want to use to help me accomplish this intention? And then we jump into the P part, Or the person. And you know what? There is no one size fits all when it comes to people. You and I are totally different. People listening today are different. So a lot of times people again they do projection and they think oh well this is a fun, Extroverted person so we’ll just tell lots of stories and you happened to be talking to analytical who is like oh my gosh not another story. So it’s important when you’re in the planning phase, IMP, the p is take a look at the people and I don’t know if you’re familiar with the different personality profiles. There’s the Myers-Briggs on the DiSC and all these different approaches. You’ve done any of those, Peter?

Peter: [00:24:33] Yes I’ve done Meyers-Briggs. I was s-l-o-w.

Patrick: [00:24:36] [laughs]

Peter: [00:24:36] Actually, you put me through the DiSC model some some years ago, and I’ve done the Hermann Brain Dominance model, and it said I had a full brain, a whole brain, which freaked out my friends.

Patrick: [00:24:54] Yeah, but you know it doesn’t matter what you use it just goes back to fundamentals. It goes back to Hippocrates, really. 400BC Hippocrates came up with four different styles. So when you start to think about communicating with impact, it’s always important to remember to blend your style with the person you’re communicating with. So if I’m talking to a very analytical person you know I know that they’re going to want a little more detail, a little more data, a little more structure. But talking to a relational person they’re going to want a little more fun, a little more story, a little more engagement. So don’t just go out there and you know assume that it’s really easy. I’ll just say this or say that. Take the 30 seconds and think who am I talking with and what is a good way to engage them?

Peter: [00:25:32] Exactly. Know your audience.

Patrick: [00:25:34] Know your audience, right. And I think when we do presentations we do a lot of that audience analysis. But I’m not always sure what we’re having a conversation we spent that extra couple of minutes thinking about that person who I’m going to talk to. I love, if you have a business card right now, I’d like you to take it out and I want to take a look at your title and just scratch out your title and write down this title: problem solver. Because everybody I think, particularly if you’re in business or an entrepreneur, you are really a problem solver. So your job is to figure out how to help that person get better at whatever they need. Now the other piece of that is you’re also figuring out what kind of style is that person and what’s the best way for me to help that person by picking the right communication tool with the right style.

Peter: [00:26:20] And understanding the different styles and understanding the left hemisphere of the right hemisphere of the brain. And you know as I tell audiences, CPA audiences, when you deal with those who are sitting on the right side of the brain, the right hemisphere of the brain, Don’t confuse them with facts because that’s the last thing they really want to see as facts. And then I tell those who sit on the right, when you’re talking to the left side, just as you said, you’ve got to give them points, bullet points, detail, spreadsheet, things like that in order to get them to have action on what you’re trying to communicate.

Patrick: [00:26:52] Right. So again we can spend a lot of time on the personality style and that’s the P step. But I’m just going to give our listeners today a couple of quick tips. So you know as a coach I like to coach people. So if you happen to be an extrovert today – you know somebody who is very outgoing, you like to speak before you think – I’m going to give you just a two-word little tip. I’d like you to jot it down if you’re an extrovert. Here’s your two words: Be quiet.

Peter: [00:27:16] [laughs]

Patrick: [00:27:16] If I was not so nice I’d say shut up, but I want to be nice and say be quiet. Because extroverts talk too much.

Peter: [00:27:22] Yeah yeah.

Patrick: [00:27:24] And luckily today it’s all about us so we can talk a lot. It’s OK. Because I know we’re both extroverts to some degree. And if you happen to be an introvert – you know the person is a little quieter, you tend to think before you speak – I’m going to give you two words: Speak up. Because introverts you tend to wait a little too long before you say something. And so again just a simple little tool. If you take nothing else away from our podcast today, just remember if you’re an extrovert, Be quiet; if you’re an introvert, speak up. But those are just some things you want to think about yourself too. So when you’re looking at the person, not just about the other person, it’s about you and what can you do to be effective when you’re communicating with other people.

Peter: [00:28:01] Perfect. Love it.

Patrick: [00:28:03] So that’s phase one right. Quickly planning what’s my intention, what am I going to say to achieve the intention, how am I going to adjust it to make sure it fits this person I’ve communicated with? The second half in a bottle is the ACT, or the activate. So how do you bring this message to life? You’re still kind of planning and I’m not really communicating yet. I’m still thinking about communicating. So the Activate is basically how do I engage people? You hear a lot today about engagement. I’m sure that’s something that comes up quite a bit with your clients, in terms of engaging the customer.

Peter: [00:28:33] Bingo.

Patrick: [00:28:34] So I think it’s important to think about engaging people both physically and mentally and emotionally. So there are three ways I like you to think about engaging people. Because everybody wants to be a part of the problem or solution. So a lot of folks give a lot of lip service to engagement, but I’m not sure they really do it.

Peter: [00:28:56] OK.

Patrick: [00:28:57] So give me an example. When you talk about engagement, what comes to your mind?

Peter: [00:29:04] Asking questions.

Patrick: [00:29:05] OK. Exactly. That’s one way to engage people. Now if you noticed, Peter, I just modeled for you how I was engaging you. Because I brought you into the conversation.

Peter: [00:29:15] Bingo.

Patrick: [00:29:16] Yeah. So again you’re an extrovert. You’re going to be careful that you don’t do all the talking. If you’re an introvert, You got to be careful you don’t let them do all the talking. So you want to be engaged. Go back to your personality style. But when it comes to today’s listeners, I think most people today are just very impatient. Nobody wants to be lectured to. Nobody wants to just sit there and have someone talk to them. So I got a little rule of thumb: every three to five minutes you want to be engaging the receiver in some way, physically, mentally, or emotionally. Every three to five minutes. So you do that in a lot of ways. Right you do that by asking questions. You do that by nonverbally. On the phone It’s great to be doing a little bit of that uh huh, Oh OK, Wow. That’s engaging. Because they know you’re still there. Stories are a great way to engage your customers. I tell all my coaching clients in the business development – I think we talk about this also Peter – You need to have some success stories so that you can share what’s been working. So when a customer talks about well I’m kind of curious do you work with anybody in health care? Funny you should ask. We just had a client last week we were talking with about… and you tell a mini, two-minute success story. That’s another way to engage people. So activating the message is really critical. So as you’re thinking about creating this great impact you know you want to make sure that you’re thinking about how do you gauge those folks.

Peter: [00:30:40] Can I ask a question?

Patrick: [00:30:41] Yes.

Peter: [00:30:42] Because you’ve engaged me in this conversation, and in order to have that engagement – that two-way communication… so I’m going to bring a little bit of improv in here because, in improv, I think one of the key components of it is listening to understand versus listening to respond. If we went Old school, we used to call it active listening.

Patrick: [00:31:06] Yes.

Peter: [00:31:07] I think that’s a big part of that engagement because, one, you know you have a dialogue and, two, you know that you’re having this conversation that you’re present and you’re not being distracted or you’re not bringing your agenda and forcing it on somebody. I think that’s a big piece of this communication model, as it relates to activate. Is that correct or am I off base here?

Patrick: [00:31:30] You’re right on target. And again you want to be engaged yourself, And you also want to make sure you keep that other person engaged. And people, as you know Peter, we think about listening and we usually to think about listen to what they’re saying. Obviously. But you also want to listen to what they are doing and what they’re not saying and how they’re saying it because all of those come together. As you always know, there are three parts to your message: your words, your voice, and your nonverbal, and a lot of people think that you know words are really critical. I have what I call the Donadio theory of communication. And I basically came up with this theory that… I don’t know what the studies show. There’s been a lot of studies out there – you’ve probably heard about the Moravians study – you know 7-38-55. Well that’s not really applicable to regular communication. So I came up with that Donadio rule of thirds – your CPA clients will love this – Let’s just take 100% of the message and divide it into thirds. And so you got 33 and a third for words, voice, and non-verbal. If you just did that right. I don’t have any research. But if you just did it simply. Well think about it. You only have a third of your message in words then. Both studies show it’s less than that, but I’ll just say it’s a third. But how many times, when we’re looking or communicating, do we focus on the words when only a third of your message is going to be the words?

Peter: [00:32:47] Right. So it’s much more visual.

Patrick: [00:32:49] Yes. So when you’re communicating again thinking about you know your facial expression, you’re nonverbal. Good morning. Good morning.

Peter: [00:32:58] Morning.

Patrick: [00:32:59] Yes. You just change the tone. So many people would… you ever call up somebody on the phone and you’re like oh did I wake you? It’s like it’s 2 in the afternoon because they just don’t have any energy.

Peter: [00:33:13] Right.

Patrick: [00:33:14] And that is a part of your brand. So when you’re engaging others you want to make sure you engage them both physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Peter: [00:33:21] And every time I have this conversation it takes me to the State Farm commercials where they have the words, and they have it in one scenario and then they do it again in the complete opposite, like the girl gets the car for the first time.

Patrick: [00:33:35] Yes. I love that commercial.

Peter: [00:33:37] And then you know the guy walks out and his car has been been stripped apart and they use the using the same words but in a different context. I just I think that’s brilliant.

Patrick: [00:33:46] I love it. That’s a great commercial. I hope you haven’t seen it. Just google that. That’s a really good example of just changing the words and changing the message. So you want to activate you know the receiver, you want to ask good questions, you want to tell stories. You know if you happen to be in the financial services arena, graphs are a great way to engage people. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. I hate to be cliche-ish, but that’s also a way to engage people – visually getting them to see that. But don’t overwhelm them like you see with some of these folks who have PowerPoint slides and they say now I know you can’t read this, and I’m thinking then why are you putting it up there.

Peter: [00:34:21] Bingo.

Patrick: [00:34:22] Yeah. So you know just be mindful that you want to every three to five minutes making sure you’re engaging that other person in the conversation. That’s why it’s called a conversation.

Peter: [00:34:34] Right.

Patrick: [00:34:34] It’s two people communicating. So that’s the Activate part. You’ve got an intention. You crafted the message to reach the intention. You adapted to the person. Now how do you make sure that you engage people in the process? That’s the activate. And the C is how do you clarify? Because a lot of times what you think they receive isn’t exactly what they got. So there is a thing called selective perception. You’ve heard of selective perception?

Peter: [00:35:00] I have to say no. It doesn’t ring a bell.

Patrick: [00:35:03] Well selective perception is where the meaning of the message comes from the receiver not the sender. So you selectively perceive what you want to hear. So if I happen to say dog, what comes to your mind Peter when I say dogs?

Peter: [00:35:20] Labrador.

Patrick: [00:35:21] OK. Well actually I’m hungry. It’s time for lunch.

Peter: [00:35:25] [laughs]

Patrick: [00:35:25] But the point is I say the word dog, who puts the meaning of the message? The receiver.

Peter: [00:35:30] Right.

Patrick: [00:35:31] So we’re communicating so many times we forget that we really don’t have that much control. Really the person that controls the message meaning is the receiver. So you can’t make an assumption just because I’ve done a great job communicating that that person got exactly what I wanted them to get.

Peter: [00:35:46] So if I said the word bank what do you think of?

Patrick: [00:35:49] Money.

Peter: [00:35:50] I think I’m going down to the river and fishing off the bank.

Patrick: [00:35:55] [laughs] Well that’s cause you’re a CPA and you don’t care about money.

Peter: [00:36:00] [laughs]

Patrick: [00:36:00] So a lot of times, again, you just want to check for understanding. You want to just ask a different kind of question. You know you might ask what I call… like a couple of quick tips: One would be what I call re-state. So if somebody says bank you might say “do you mean the bank on the corner of Broad and high?” No I’m talking about fishing. Have you been out to fish at the bank? So you say back to them what they said and you ask and make sure it’s the same thing. If I said you we’re start having bi-weekly podcasts. How often would we be meeting?

Peter: [00:36:37] Every two weeks.

Patrick: [00:36:38] Yes. I looked it up. Biweekly means twice a week or every two weeks. It means both. It depends on how you use it. So I’m here twice this week and you don’t show up – I’m all ticked off because Peter said we’re going to do bi weekly podcast. Again, The meaning of the message comes from the receiver. Don’t just assume because I said it that we both get it.

Peter: [00:36:58] Great example. Great example.

Patrick: [00:37:01] And yeah that’s the big challenge, again, with e-mail. Because when you send that e-mail, there’s nobody there to clarify. Now if you have a conversation and I you say bank and I say this and you say that and go oh no. If you sent me an e-mail that said let’s meet at the bank, I’m going to the bank. You’re going to the bank. We’re going to two different banks.

Peter: [00:37:18] Right.

Patrick: [00:37:18] So be very careful when you’re using e-mail to remember that, even though you think you communicated effectively, there’s a good chance they didn’t get what you thought they were going to get. I give you like a couple… in the workshop I always share somebody classified advertisements where people write things and I say now is this what they really meant? And here’s what I have here. Here’s an ad: “Man wanted to work in a dynamite factory. Must be willing to travel.

Peter: [00:37:44] [laughs]

Patrick: [00:37:44] That sounds like a dangerous job to me because you get blown up and you know you’re in Ohio and the next thing you know you’re over in Parkersburg you get blown over there.

Peter: [00:37:51] Exactly.

Patrick: [00:37:52] Or here’s another: “Dog for sale. Eats anything and is fond of children.”

Peter: [00:37:58] [laughs]

Patrick: [00:37:59] Yeah. So any time you send something out in a linear way, like an e-mail or an ad, be mindful that the meaning of the message comes from the receiver. You may not necessarily be sending the same message that you think they’re getting.

Peter: [00:38:11] Got it.

Patrick: [00:38:13] Then the last one out. Now wrap this up quickly with the T. As I said before you know I pretty much stopped there. Like well you know we both get it. We should be done right. Then I realized that so many people think communicating is an event because if we’re done it’s over. It’s an event. But again going back to processes -communicating is a process. So many times it’s not over just because we both got the same message. If you and I had an intention today that I want you to become my next client… just because you liked me and we both agreed that we might want to work together it doesn’t mean we’re done. We’re not done till either you sign an agreement with me or you tell me you don’t want to be a customer. So I realized that I needed to add to step in there, and that is transform. How do you transform this interaction or these words into the results we set for ourselves? And there are two types of transformations. There’s an internal transformation and an external transformation. And again for the most part I always thought about external transformations right. A deadline, set another appointment. You know those are the kind of things that we all talk about to be more efficient about making sure things happen.

Peter: [00:39:17] OK.

Patrick: [00:39:18] So when I say internal transformation What do you think I mean by that Peter?

Peter: [00:39:22] Beliefs.

Patrick: [00:39:23] Yes. Oh you are so good. You must have had a great coach.

Peter: [00:39:27] I did [laughs.

Patrick: [00:39:30] I think a lot of times we don’t think about what’s getting in the way of this person actually becoming a customer.

Peter: [00:39:36] Right.

Patrick: [00:39:37] Is it something that they believe about me or my service? And so many times I think we don’t explore that a little bit. So the internal transformation is how do I understand what they’re thinking or what they think about, and then how do I shift that (if it’s not the way I think that they might perceive me)? You know we all have a brand. Right. You, at the beginning of the podcast, kind of gave me my brand. You say oh you know I think of you as being such a you know kind and helpful… that’s my brand. You know whether I plan it or not that’s my brand. And so many times we have brands in our customers mind that may not be the brand that’s valuable. I don’t know if any of you are listening but if you happen to offer more than one service sometimes your customer only sees you as one service provider. Like a lot of my customers only think of me as a coach because I only do coaching for them. And I have to kind of transform their process of how they think of me because I am a coach and I’m a speaker and I’m a trainer and I’m an author. So I’ve got to kind of help shift the way they see me and that’s also part of that transformation – is that if I don’t get to just get them to see me differently they’re never going to want to hire me as a speaker because all they think of me as a coach.

Peter: [00:40:47] Right.

Patrick: [00:40:48] So that’s the IMPACT process. You know it’s a very complicated but very simple thing. I mean anybody could be a good communicator. It’s very simple to do but sometimes hard to master.

Peter: [00:40:57] But you said there are two pieces in the transformation.

Patrick: [00:40:59] Internal transformation and external transformation.

Peter: [00:41:03] And what’s that external piece?

Patrick: [00:41:05] Well the actual piece is what most of us think about. So after the end of our meeting “is it OK if I call you next week and see if you give me more details about what you think about the proposal?” So the external is what’s happening to move that conversation along. The internal is what’s happening inside that person that may be getting in the way. So they may come back next week and say yeah I’ve looked at it. I need a little more time. And the internal transformation is well I wonder why the more time. You know why? Because I haven’t done a good job of showing them the value. So they believe that there’s no value that that’s why they need more time. But if I keep thinking OK then I’ll call you two more weeks. I keep going external. OK I’ll call you in two more weeks. You talk about it and get back to me. I’m never going to make the shift because it’s not about the external – it’s the internal part. So we need to be thinking about what’s getting in the way of people moving towards action.

Peter: [00:41:55] OK so I want to explore this for second. So in essence you are saying perception is reality in the person’s mind.

Patrick: [00:42:03] Yes.

Peter: [00:42:03] Whether it be right or wrong… So if I’m trying to get you to be a client and you already have this perception that might not be real there would be that hesitation there. How does one change that perception into the the new reality, or what it really is? Like you were saying that people think you as a coach, but if you came to an organization and said I could do a keynote, I could speak. “But Patrick only I only hear you as a coach.” How do you change that?

Patrick: [00:42:35] Well let’s do a little bit broader. For example if somebody believes that I am priced too high – it’s an easier example I think for a lot of our listeners – OK your price is too high. Well they may not come out and tell me that. And so they keep thinking the price is too high, well then I want to shift that. So that’s a belief they have right. Well one of the ways to change a belief. First of all you need to be aware of what the beliefs are. So you got to make sure you’re asking good questions to kind of figure out what’s getting in the way. But if somebody said now your price is too high my response might be compared to what?

Peter: [00:43:07] Right.

Patrick: [00:43:08] And they might say well compared to XYZ company… so then I’m starting to figure out… Oh I see. So they think that what I offer is the same as X Y Z company. So I haven’t done a good enough job explaining the value. So if you want to change people beliefs, first of all you need to find out what their beliefs are and then you can change beliefs sometimes with more information. You can change beliefs sometimes with you know a story or an example that could shift the way they might see something. You can change beliefs by not you changing them, but them changing themselves by asking them questions to get them to start thinking different. Does that make sense?

Peter: [00:43:46] That makes sense and makes me think of a a guy named Dan Swartwout, who’s based out here in Columbus, Ohio. I interviewed him on an earlier podcast. He is a comedian and he was doing some corporate event or proposing some corporate event and the person who’s proposing to said you want that much for an hour? And his response was classic. He said “No I want that much for the last 25 years.”

Patrick: [00:44:11] Right.

Peter: [00:44:11] “Plus that hour,” and changing that belief.

Patrick: [00:44:15] Yes. So again people will believe “Oh my gosh. You get that much by the hour.” Well I always remind my clients because what I do now Peter when I set up my proposal is I just don’t tell them how much it is. There are 10 bullets that tell them all the things that I do for that investment. See I don’t even call it a fee because a fee gives them a belief that they’re paying something. I call it an investment. See I’m already changing the belief by the language that I use. So here’s the investment for my time with you. And here are the 10 things that that includes. So now they know there’s a lot that’s going on for that investment. That’s an example of transformation.

Peter: [00:44:53] And I use that one all the time, especially when I’m more working with CPAs and stuff. Get rid of the word cost.

Patrick: [00:44:59] Yes.

Peter: [00:45:00] Where will this investment take this company? Where will this investment take my career? Where will this investment… And to that point it’s a much broader way of communicating and it’s what’s in it for them.

Patrick: [00:45:16] Right. Now even though I kind of give you this process, IMPACT, in an order, you don’t have to do it in this order. You can start out with thinking about their beliefs and you know you could shift in a different way. But I want to give people at least a little tool to memorize the process. So now when you hear the word impact I’m hoping, Peter, you will know the six keys and it’s easy to remember.

Peter: [00:45:38] I most certainly will. I’ll begin to commit them to memory. But when I hear the word impact now I think of you. Patrick Donadio and the book that took only eight years to write.

Patrick: [00:45:51] [laughs] Yeah. And you know what, I don’t even call it a book. I call it a leader’s guide. Because it’s really not a book – you know what it’s almost like a workshop in a book and I really wrote it in a way that somebody would keep it on their desk and, if they’re going to have a great big proposal meeting tomorrow, they’d walk through the book very quickly and take a look at the P chapter and think about different personalities or they go you know what I get at work on questions. They go to that clarify chapter and take a look at what they could do to be better at clarifying. So it’s really a guide as opposed to your average book. It’s just packed full of great resources, and I wrote a book that I would want to buy. I’m not a kind of story novel kind of guy. I’m the person who is like let’s get to work I got stuff to do.

Peter: [00:46:28] So how can people find your book?

Patrick: [00:46:32] Well it’s easy to find the book. It’s actually at my web site PatrickDonadio.com. And the book is up there on the site underneath the store. It’s available. Right now I don’t have it on Amazon. Maybe eventually but mostly what I’m doing with my book is trying to just offer it to my client. It’s not a book for the world. It’s just a book for my clients who want to go deeper, or potential clients like maybe your listeners.

Peter: [00:46:57] OK. And I think maybe for my listeners I think it’s a great resource as they begin to try to change that or transform into more of an impact communicator. I mean I’ll be honest with you, Patrick, the tips that you gave today are priceless. I mean I appreciate you giving away so much information here and tips to help the audience become better communicators, so they can communicate with impact. Alone this takes them to another level. I think by actually reading your book, doing the things in book will take them to a completely whole new level that might start pulling people’s socks away.

Patrick: [00:47:41] Yeah. Well I want people to be successful and to be happier and to get more clients and find more time to go to the bank… and go do some fishing.

Peter: [00:47:49] [laughs] I knew you were going to do that.

Patrick: [00:47:53] [laughs] That’s the callback technique, right Peter?

Peter: [00:47:55] Exactly. Yeah.

Patrick: [00:47:58] Really it’s been great talking about the process and I hope if you’re listening today you think about, of the six keys, What’s the one that you want to work on the most? You know maybe you’re good at crafting a message and you’re pretty good at adapting to different people, but you know what? I forget to take that 30 seconds and ask myself why am I having this conversation. Or I forget about the transformation internally because a lot of times I don’t think about what people perceive or believe about me and I need to shift that because that’s the way that they’re going to want to come up or hire me. So if you listen to the six keys, which is the one that stands out the most for you to work on? I hope that’s what you’re going to take with our call today.

Peter: [00:48:32] I think they will. And I think the one that of all of these, and because it’s improv and and I think it’s extremely important, is that listening one.

Patrick: [00:48:41] What did you say?

Peter: [00:48:43] Excuse me? You said what sir?

Patrick: [00:48:45] [laughs]

Peter: [00:48:46] It’s the ability to be an active listener, or as I call we call it in improv: listening to understand. So Patrick would you play a little improv game with me real quick?

Patrick: [00:48:58] Sure… Is there a prize?

Peter: [00:48:59] Yes there is.

Patrick: [00:49:00] OK.

Peter: [00:49:01] The winner gets a copy of your book.

Patrick: [00:49:04] OK. I love it.

Peter: [00:49:05] And the game we’re going to play is called last word spoken, and the essence around this is someone will say a sentence. And when they end that sentence the last word that is spoken becomes the first word in their next sentence.

Patrick: [00:49:21] OK.

Peter: [00:49:22] OK. I’m glad you enjoyed playing this game.

Patrick: [00:49:27] Game to me is something that is exciting, particularly when I win.

Peter: [00:49:32] Win – that’s all I do is win win win no matter what.

Patrick: [00:49:37] What are you thinking about rapping in this particular venue? I think you should keep your day job.

Peter: [00:49:42] Job? I love my day job… and you’re right, I should not be rapping.

Patrick: [00:49:47] Rapping, to me, is or… when it comes to wrapping I’m better gifts probably well than I am with singing. Now I could do a mean Frank Sinatra.

Peter: [00:49:57] Sinatra… I would like to hear you sing some Frank Sinatra.

Patrick: [00:50:02] All right well there is a charge for that, Peter.

Peter: [00:50:05] Peter says it’s time to end this game.

Patrick: [00:50:08] I love it.

Peter: [00:50:09] So it’s a fun game to play but it really helps in reinforcing the thought that we need to listen to the entire sentence because many of us, if not all of us, when someone’s talking, we’re two or three or four steps ahead. And by being two or three four steps ahead we’re not really listening and we’re not focused – we’re distracted, and we could miss something.

Patrick: [00:50:33] Yes.

Peter: [00:50:33] And those who are active listeners actually parked their agenda, whatever they came to the table with, and listen to understand and ask questions and pursue. And the only way you can do that is to be completely focused on the conversation and listen to the last word spoken.

Patrick: [00:50:48] Yes. You know what it’s always interesting to me Peter when I’m out there training or speaking, typically on the subject. I always asked the audience “how many of you had listening skills training?” You know usually it’s like less than 15 percent of the folks raise their hands. Isn’t it amazing? One of the most important skills we use every day and we’ve never had a class or a workshop on listening. So I agree with that hundred percent. If you’re listening today, take some time to learn this skill. And it’s a tough skill. I’ll tell you why: because your brain operates at a different speed than your mouth. And studies show this. Right. You know the results?

Peter: [00:51:22] Yes.

Patrick: [00:51:23] We can think three times faster than we can speak, and it’s really hard to be an active listener because our brains just jump around on a bunch of different things, and that’s why this game is tough. You really have to focus and hone in. And listen for that last word, as well as think of what you want to say next. And sometimes you’re thinking of what you want to say next and you don’t get that last word and it’s not working at all. You can’t win the game.

Peter: [00:51:44] I think the one training class probably everybody has undertaken and it was that when we were children. What did your mother used to tell you? God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.

Patrick: [00:51:57] Well my mother always said don’t take two meatballs because you got to make sure everybody else gets one.

Peter: [00:52:02] [laughs] Well and you are you are very active on social media and on Facebook, and I love it when you’re at your mother’s house and you’re live streaming her and her meatballs.

Patrick: [00:52:16] [laughs]

Peter: [00:52:16] And at the September NSA meeting, I would love for you to bring some of those meatballs to the meeting.

Patrick: [00:52:21] Yeah you’re right Peter. You know I think it’s really cool though. Some of the advice we get is so simple. You know what we all need to go back to the basics. It’s the kind of things that been around forever – universal truths I call them. We’re learning about the latest and greatest techniques and we forget about the simple things. And that’s kind of what this process is – it is very simple. Go back to the simple things that you’d be surprised at kind of impact you’ll make.

Peter: [00:52:43] And with that we’ll leave on the impact word. And Patrick I can’t thank you enough for spending time with me. I always learn when I’m in your presence and I appreciate that and my audience please go out. It’ll be in the show notes: his website, how you can get to it. Go out and explore, but become better communicators and have an impact in every one of those communications. Patrick thank you so very much.

Patrick: [00:53:12] Peter my pleasure my friend and good luck to you and I enjoyed the podcast. Thank you for having any time.

Peter: [00:53:19] Any time.

[music]

Peter: [00:53:19] I would like to thank Patrick again for being a guest today and sharing key points on his book communicating with impact. Remember to think about the six steps of impact and which of the 6 is your weakness. Start working on that today. Patrick has given me a PDF to put in the show notes to help you remember these six steps in IMPACT. Listen, learn, and learn. I have partnered with the Maryland Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute to bring an exciting new learning opportunity for accounting professionals to earn CPE credits. You can earn up to one CPE credit for each completed podcast episode purchased for only $29 through the American Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute self-study website. The podcast episodes are mobile friendly. Open your browser on your smartphone, tablet, or computer, Go to the MACPA and BLI self-study account, and listen to an episode. Take the review and final exam while you’re working out or after listening to an episode on your commute to and from work – It’s that easy! While all Improv is no Joke podcasts are available on my website, only those purchased through the MACPA and BLI self-study Web site are eligible for CPE credit. You can get detailed instructions by visiting my website at www.PeterMargaritis.com and clicking on the graphic “Improv is no Joke for CPE credit” on my home page. I hope you enjoy this exciting and flexible new way of earning CPE credit. Remember you can subscribe to my podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. If you’d like to purchase an autographed copy of my book Improv is no Joke: Using Improvisation to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life, for $14.99 with free shipping, please go to my website, PeterMargaritis.com, and you’ll see the graphic on the homepage to purchase my book. Please allow 14 days for shipping. You can also follow me on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. In episode 59, I interview Allison Estep, who’s a former creative services associate at the Indiana Society of CPAs. However she’s also studied improv for eight years at Second City in Chicago and I’m so looking forward to this interview. Thank you again for listening and remember to use the principles of improvisation, along with communicating with IMPACT, to help you become a stronger leader.

Production & Development for Improv Is No Joke by Podcast Masters

Ep. 61 – Chris Jenkins: Why Associations Need to Stop Treating Members as Customers & Start Fostering Fellowship

 

Chris Jenkins, CEO of the South Carolina Associations of CPAs, joins us today to discuss how you can better engage an audience of any size when you are speaking, and to discuss how we can improve association management.

Although Chris is a technology guy – we originally met when he served as the Chief Information Officer at the Ohio Society – he believes that Associations, and business professionals in general, are relying on technology far too much, and using it improperly.

Professional organizations need to re-emphasize, and re-facilitate, face-to-face human relationships.

Chris has always had a knack for engaging large crowds of people, but he used to struggle with small group interactions. Partly due to technology, we have lost the skill to connect with people one-on-one – because of this, Associations and businesses need to offer more professional development opportunities for soft skills.

Elevator Training

Chris learned to engage people one-on-one through an unconventional training exercise: he was locked in an elevator for an hour and tasked with talking to every person who got on and learning what they did.

When you’re in an elevator and you’re in that contained space, you catch people off guard by looking at them, greeting them, and asking about them. People are shocked, and you very quickly get over your fear of engaging people. The other thing that you’ll learn is how to stop a conversation properly before they got off the elevator.

You can learn how to network and manage a room by being locked in an elevator – and I know I’m going to try this exercise out soon! It’s also just a great improv exercise because it will train you to listen to understand.

Leaders Need To Build Trust

Leaders NEED the ability to engage people in one-in-one and small group conversations.

If you are in a large group and you want feedback, people will naturally want to be nice. A group of 10+ people is not going to give reliable feedback. But it’s important that leaders are able to go in and make people feel comfortable with giving you bad news, or news that they think you don’t want to hear.

So leaders have to build trust, and the only way to do that is in very small groups, and to lay yourself out there and say what you’re trying to do.

If you can’t make them believe that you’re actively listening and listening to understand them, you’re just going to get what they think you want to hear – and a bunch of people telling you what you want to hear is the most deadly thing that you can have in a leadership role.

The Difference Between Members and Customers

Associations also struggle with engagement because, increasingly, they treat members as customers.

What’s the difference?

Simply put, the difference between a customer and a member is the experience, and fellowship is a big part of the member experience.

You have to look at your business and you have to see what you’re selling, and professional associations are businesses with something to sell. However, we’ve shifted to selling CPE… and that’s not what we’re supposed to be about; that doesn’t foster fellowship.

When we start looking at CPE as a revenue stream and membership as a revenue stream, it’s easy to start looking at people as customers. And when you look at customer service, you want to make sure that that individual customer has the best possible experience… and then when they’re gone they’re gone. So a customer relationship is something short.

But a member relationship is a long-term relationship, and it’s not just a relationship between the company or the association and the member. It’s about fostering the relationship between the members themselves. They need a network of peers that they know that they can rely on. They need a community, and they need that fellowship.

You can look at it from the other perspective as well: as an association, your stakeholders are the members on your board. That’s who gets the pay out of our efforts.

In a customer relationship, your payout is to stake holders who have invested in that company so your goal is to get as much money as possible from your customers so that you can pay out to your investors. We have a completely different goal.

An association’s goal is to give its membership the maximum value for the minimum price, and we’ve lost sight of that in many ways.

The unique value proposition of state societies is the fact that they’re local. They have local networks in every community. They have a local network at the state level. They have local meetings with real people, both social and educational.

When associations embrace the fact that they’re local – when they don’t look to compete with national brands for CPE and don’t look to compete with Facebook – they create a very strong network of professionals, and that network has incredible power.

As associations, we are uniquely positioned to create human experiences and we have to come back to it.

Download this Episode MP3.

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Chris: [00:00:00] If you can’t make them believe that you’re actively listening and listening to understand them, you’re just going to get what they think you want to hear. And that is the most deadly thing that you can have in a leadership role — a bunch of people telling you what they think you want to hear.[music]

Peter: [00:00:26] Welcome to improv is no joke podcast, where it’s all about becoming a more effective communicator by embracing the principles of improvisation. I’m your host Peter Margarita’s the self-proclaimed chief edutainment officer of my business the accidental account. My goal is to provide you with thought provoking interviews with business leaders so you can become an effective improviser which will lead to building stronger relationships with clients customers colleagues and even your family. So let’s start to show. Welcome to episode 61, and today my guest is Chris Jenkins, who is the CEO of the South Carolina Association of CPAs. Prior to joining the South Carolina Association of CPAs, Chris served as the chief information officer at the Ohio society of CPAs. During his 17 years with the Ohio society, he created strategies to best leverage emerging technology trends and solutions to benefit the organization. Chris also served as vice president of Copy Sense, a technology consulting and training firm that created, planned, and implemented small business technology solutions. Chris is a magna cum laude graduate of Devry University and is a certified information systems security professional, a Cisco Certified network administrator, and a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. Chris has been published in numerous professional and trade publications and has spoken on the topic of Technology and Management at more than 30 events nationwide. So before we get to the interview, I’d like to talk about Listen, Learn, and Earn. I have partnered with the Maryland Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute to bring an exciting new learning opportunity for accounting professionals to earn CPE credits. You can earn up to one CPE credit for each completed podcast episode purchased for only $29 through the American Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute self-study website. The podcast episodes are mobile friendly. Open your browser on your smartphone, tablet, or computer, Go to the MACPA and BLI self-study account, and listen to an episode. Take the review and final exam while you’re working out or after listening to an episode on your commute to and from work – It’s that easy! While all Improv is no Joke podcasts are available on my website, only those purchased through the MACPA and BLI self-study Web site are eligible for CPE credit. You can get detailed instructions by visiting my website at www.PeterMargaritis.com and clicking on the graphic “Improv is no Joke for CPE credit” on my home page. OK now let’s get to the interview with Chris Jenkins.

[music]

Peter: [00:03:27] Chris welcome to the podcast. I greatly appreciate you taking time out of your extremely busy schedule to spend little time with me this morning.

Chris: [00:03:36] Well I appreciate being here and I thank you for having me. It’s going to be a fun time. I’ve got a feeling.

Peter: [00:03:41] I’m going to say I’m going to guarantee that because we’ve had some great conversations. Actually we just saw each other at AICPA interchange in Miami. And part of the conversation we’re going to have today… we’re going to revisit the conversation that we were having down in Miami, but before we get into that: Tell the audience a little bit about who Chris Jenkins is so they get an idea about you.

Chris: [00:04:03] So I guess the most important thing about me is I have five children. I have two grandchildren, so I have a very large family and I started very early in my life so I had to work really hard in order for all of them to eat. Because when they don’t eat, they get cranky.

Peter: [00:04:21] Hahaha!

Chris: [00:04:21] So I graduated high school. I had my first child right out of high school. Started college. Wanted to be a financial planner. I mean that was that was my goal in life. I needed a computer and I couldn’t afford a computer because I was buying formula instead of technology at that point. So I went and I bought a box of parts, and out of that box of parts I managed to build five computers. And I kept one of them for school and the other four I sold for a thousand dollars a piece, and my financial plan changed dramatically at that point.

Peter: [00:04:53] Yeah.

Chris: [00:04:55] So it was you know you’re going to leave college and I started a small hardware company and I was building machines and selling them to CPAs and attorneys, and then Dell and Compact and HP started really hitting the market and I said you know this is not a sustainable business plan. I’m never going to compete with these guys with these homegrown machines. So I changed my business model into networking and consulting and some training because I didn’t have to have a lot of inventory. It was all knowledge based. And again my my clients were attorneys and CPAs, and I at this point had had another child and I had a third one that was on the way. And I was doing well in the business, but during tax season it was amazing. I was getting calls at 2:30 in the morning because the mouse didn’t work. This didn’t work. That didn’t work. And between you know waking my children up and having a very angry wife, I decided it would be beneficial if I gave this up and got a real job with benefits. And at that point I went to work for the Ohio society of CPAs as a network administrator, and I had a great boss. In fact, I had several great bosses who taught me a lot about life and a lot about my job and they helped me grow. And they walked me through some of my personality abnormalities, if you will. And I stayed there for about 18 years and I really enjoyed my time and it was a great place to work. And then finally I went back to school and decided to get a business degree, and with that business degree I thought you know… I’m kind of disillusioned with technology at this point. I don’t like the direction that it’s going. I’m going to try something different. And I took over about two-and-a-half years ago as the CEO of the South Carolina Association of CPAs. So my entire adult life pretty much I’ve been working in associations.

Peter: [00:06:50] Wow that’s a great story. I didn’t realize you’re a grandfather. I mean you look like… I know that I’m older than you and I’ve got like a 17 year old, so that just that just blows me away that you’re a grandfather. But I didn’t realize that I could have, instead of sitting here on my Mac, I could be here on my Jenkins, if you kept building computers and turned them into a multibillion dollar business.

Chris: [00:07:17] Yeah but I didn’t have the style that the Jobs had. I try to emulate it now. You know I’ve got the mock turtleneck and the jeans and I do that quite often.

Peter: [00:07:25] I did see you wear the mock turtleneck and jeans when you did the gizmos and gadget presentation down in Miami.

Chris: [00:07:32] Yeah.

Peter: [00:07:33] That was a good luck.

Chris: [00:07:35] I try, you know.

Peter: [00:07:37] One of my favorite stories about you because we’ve known each other for a long time is… I was attending the conference, and you were on a panel discussion and I’m in the audience and I knew you from the I.T. perspective at the Ohio society, but I’d never seen you speak to a group. And I don’t remember what the question was, but I remember three people answered it and they were sitting down. And then it was your turn and you just grabbed the mic and you said “I can’t sit down.” You just stood up. You came out from behind the table and you gave your answer and you took over that room, and you absolutely blew me away on your presence, your style, the ability to command that audience, the ability to take over that room. And I went… is that Chris? is that our Chris? and you just just completely blew away — Where did you learn that? How did you pick that up.

Chris: [00:08:35] So I’ll tell you a couple of my speaking stories and how that progressed over time. My first professional presentation I still remember it because people called for me to be fired afterwards.

Peter: [00:08:48] Hahaha!

Chris: [00:08:48] It was at an OSAE event, which is the Ohio society of association executives. And I was to come in with a few of the higher ranking members of the Ohio society — Clarke Price, Jim Hartley, Laura Hay, and myself did a presentation on the future of technology and how it’s going to impact associations. And that was about a year into my career at this point. So I went in front of all these Association professionals and I was explaining the progression of technology and how operating systems were being designed to be self-healing, and eventually I.T. professionals were going to have to adjust what they did because there would be no need to fix machines. And we went through the entire presentation. There was somebody in the audience that asked the question “well when all of this happens, what are you going to do?” And I looked at them I said well I guess I’ll just transition into management. It doesn’t appear that you guys do anything.

Peter: [00:09:45] Hahahahaha!

Chris: [00:09:47] Needless to say, it didn’t go over well with the crowd. But you know, with my coworkers, they thought it was incredibly funny. But one of the things that Clarke and the senior staff at the Ohio society wanted is they wanted their staff to be able to go out and share information, and Clark was really big about giving back to the community. So he took all of his managers and he invested in speaker training for us. And the speaker training was with Rob Sherman.

Peter: [00:10:16] Oh yeah I remember Rob.

Chris: [00:10:17] So we had a group session where we all did presentations. It was very uncomfortable. And then we had people that got one on one coaching, and I was one of those people selected for a one on one coaching and I’ll never forget it. I walk in with Rob and we’re having our personal session. I do my spiel. I do it exactly how I would do it, that I’m comfortable doing, and he looks at me and he goes everything you’re doing is wrong.

Peter: [00:10:41] Hahaha!

Chris: [00:10:41] And he goes if you look at my book, everything you’re doing is wrong. And you know that was that was a little hurtful to me. I was I was a little upset because I felt very comfortable in how I was presenting. But then he followed it up and he goes but it works for you. I wouldn’t change anything about how you do it. It’s not how we train people to do it. But you’re so naturally comfortable in your style… Just keep doing it. You connect with the audience. And I said well that’s great. I guess you know that’s wonderful, but we paid for the session and I want to make sure I get my money’s worth. So here’s my problem. And I told Rob I was like Rob, I can’t engage with people one on one. If you put me in front of 100 people or a thousand people on a stage, I’m perfectly comfortable.

Peter: [00:11:28] Mhm.

Chris: [00:11:28] But when I have to go to a networking event and I’m at a table, I’m very uncomfortable. Or if I have to go up and greet someone, I’m uncomfortable. I don’t know how to end the conversation. And he told me he says well it’s because you’re pompous and you’re arrogant, and quite frankly you’re an ass. And I said Well I appreciate your observation. And he goes you just don’t really care what other people think or what they’re talking about. You want to talk about what you talk about, and I said that was probably you know why I didn’t date much… because I’m a little self-absorbed. He goes Well here’s how we’re going to get rid of that. And I remember we went very tall building. He goes for the next hour, you’re going to ride the elevator up and down, and everyone who gets on you’re going to greet and you’re going to talk to you and you’re going to find out what they do.

Peter: [00:12:16] Really?

Chris: [00:12:17] And I did. And first off I’ll tell you don’t write an elevator for an hour. You get incredibly motion sick. But when you’re in an elevator and you’re in that contained space and you catch people off guard by looking at them saying “Hi my name is Chris and I’m interested in what you do. How’s your day going? What is it that you do for a living?” People are shocked, and you very quickly get over that fear of engaging people. The other thing that I learned from that is how to stop a conversation because you had to do the conversation, and then end it properly before they got off the elevator. So I learned how to network and manage a room by being locked in an elevator, and then you know over time, as you do this more often, you learn there are little tricks that work for you. Some people need to rehearse for hours and go through their slides. I find that if I I rehearse, I’m not nearly as good. I want to speak from the fly. I want to speak from the heart. And most importantly I want to give something to the audience that they’re going to remember. So I do. I walk out. I shake hands. I’ll pick on you know I’ll try to pick people out of the audience that I can pick with a little bit. Sometimes people pick with me, and the majority of times it’s worked. There have been times where I’ve misread someone, and it hasn’t gone you know as well as I might have expected or hoped. But overall it just works for me, and I think when you’re doing things like this you’re expected to leave people with a sense of knowledge, excitement, and engagement, and if you want to sit down or stand behind a podium and hide, or if you are creating activities that are making your audience work with no real benefit to them, don’t do the job. Just don’t do it because, quite frankly, you’re there to make sure that audience has a great experience and you’ve got to do that. And if you go in understanding that, they’re all empathetic. None of them want to be standing where you’re standing. What they really want is to not be bored to tears for the next hour and just do the job. The fear melts away and you can just get it done.

Peter: [00:14:34] Well that’s great advice. I love the elevator story, actually, and I’m going to share that story with a friend of mine. She’s a partner in the firm. First time I met her I asked her why did you get into accounting. And she said because she didn’t like people. And she said all she wanted to do is come and do tax returns. But I said also you’re partner in the firm. You had to figure something out. And she said yeah I had to figure out how to like people, but she could do the same thing that you said. She could stand in a room of a thousand people and be comfortable as heck. But in any type of networking situation she didn’t know how to get into the conversation nor did she know how to get out of the conversation. And I’m going to share with her jumping in the elevator and greet people. Now as you’re telling that story… So if we get on the lobby level and I’m going up to 430 and you go hey my name is “Chris Jenkins What do you do?” I think I’m hitting two or three to get off because you just freaked the hell out of me.

Chris: [00:15:36] It does. It catches people off guard, and you have to learn how to manage that situation and make them comfortable. And I think you know a lot of people like myself who – I believe I’m an introvert people say I’m not – But when I’m in that situation I’m uncomfortable because, number one, what if they want to talk about something I don’t know about? Because I like to know what I’m talking about. By nature I’m an I.T. guy. Not a lot of sports talk. And every time that I go someplace there’s a lot of talk about sports. So I have to find my way through then I have to get comfortable, and if I can’t get to that point where it’s a comfortable conversation, what I was missing was how to end the conversation. In the elevator, You very quickly — they can’t escape until their floor comes so you have a limited amount of time to make them comfortable. So you can you can start by offering something up about yourself. There were several instances where I said you’re not going to believe this but this is actually part of a training program for me. I’m an Association professional and I need to learn how to engage with people. And that’s part of my job. So I’m on the elevator day and I want to know what what you do so that I can engage with you, and you have to learn how to be honest and put yourself out there. And I think that there’s more room for that type of training on how to engage face to face because of all of the technology. We’ve lost that skill, and I lost that skill because I was working with machines.

Peter: [00:17:00] Yeah.

Chris: [00:17:00] So I think that you’re going to see more of a need for that. And I think people are more comfortable now broadcasting to a larger audience, but they’ve lost the ability to actively listen and engage in a conversation. And what I mean by that is people are really good about screaming now, but not so much listening and then formulating an opinion that can be distributed one on one without causing offense.

Peter: [00:17:26] Well-put. And for those of you who are listening to this, take his advice. Actually I’m going to try it out next time I’m in an elevator. I love that technique. It’s something that was never introduced to me in my career, and I’m going to keep passing that along to people because I think that’s a great way…. You have a point. A lot of times we have forgot how to engage in a conversation. Active listening, or as I like to call it listening to understand (from an improv perspective) goes a really long way in connecting. And your job, especially now in your job, as the CEO of the South Carolina Association CPAs, you have to engage your membership.

Chris: [00:18:07] Absolutely. And that’s one of those job skills, and the reality of the job, that I think a lot of people miss. So when you say engage the membership, there are a lot of people that believe, in this job, that you can go places where there are 10, 20, 50, 100 people. You can pick your numbers. So it’s very easy to trick yourself into believing, as the CEO, my time is so valuable that I’m not going to meet a group of one, two, or three members.

Peter: [00:18:36] Right.

Chris: [00:18:37] You can’t think that way because quite honestly, if you were in a group and you’re trying to engage someone in a topic where you want feedback, people naturally want to be nice. They want to be polite, and in a group of 20, 50, or 100 you’re not going to get reliable feedback. You’re just not going to get it. So it’s so important in this job to be able to go in and make people feel comfortable with giving you bad news, or news that they think you don’t want to hear. So you have to build that trust, and the only way to do that is in very small groups and to lay yourself out there and say really what I’m trying to do. I’m not superhuman. I know that I’m the CEO and I’m supposed to project I have all of this knowledge, and I have a lot of knowledge, but what I really need to know is your honest assessment. As a member, what are the things that cause you to pause in the solution that I’m offering? What would you do differently? How would you communicate this? And if you can’t build that trust, if you can’t make them believe that you’re actively listening and listening to understand them, you’re just going to get what they think you want to hear. And that is the most deadly thing that you can have in a leadership role — a bunch of people telling you what they think you want to hear. I really would encourage everyone to focus in on that. Building relationships a lot — and I mean a lot of relationships, those one on one relationships — if you want to be successful in a leadership role.

Peter: [00:20:06] You’ve been in that role for two and a half years. How many members do you have?

Chris: [00:20:11] We’re up to 4600 members.

Peter: [00:20:13] OK. So you have 4600 members, and you’ve gotten to know probably a vast majority of them over the two and a half years, and in the association world I’ve been hearing this a lot: a shift in a word from member to a word of customer, and we had this conversation in Miami. And I’ve been I’ve been asking people in the association What’s the difference between a member and a customer? And I’ve had a lot of different answers, and I’ve told you this but quite frankly the one that you told me by far resonated deeply with me because I think you hit it on the head. So if you could explain what the difference we are a member and a customer is in this engagement process.

Chris: [00:20:58] Very simply, the difference between a customer and a member is the experience. So you have customer experience and you have membership experience. The word that comes to mind is fellowship. You know you have to look at your business and you have to see what you’re selling. From a CPA Association standpoint, we are selling, currently, what we’ve shifted to is selling CPE… But that’s not what we’re about, and it’s because the market has gotten so difficult that we’ve tried to balance between is CPE a member benefit or is CPE our profit center? And when we start looking at CPE as a revenue stream and membership as a revenue stream, it’s easy to start looking at people as customers. That’s not the right way to do this. An association — The power of an association is the fact that you have a group of people all fighting for the same or common cause, and CPAs want to protect, promote, and grow the profession. What they need is a network of peers that they know that they can count on; that they can rely on. They need a community and they need that fellowship, and that’s what we as an association foster. That’s why we were created. And I think that the big difference is, when you look at customer service, you want to make sure that that individual customer has the best possible experience. And then when they’re gone they’re gone. So a customer relationship is something that short. A member relationship is a long-term relationship, and it’s not just a relationship between the company or the association and the member. It’s about fostering the relationship between the members themselves. And when you look at how associations were built, and then they have chapters, that’s to create those networks; those personal networks. And that fellowship is the most important thing that we do as an association. You could take away everything else that we do and then go out and rebuild from ground up, if you have that community; if you have that fellowship; if you can start those conversations. But if we continue to say what we are is customer and business driven, we have a problem. You can look at it from the other perspective as well: as an association, our stakeholders are our members on our board. That’s who gets the pay out of our efforts. In a customer relationship, your payout is to stake holders who have invested in that company. So your goal is to get as much money as possible from your customers so that you can pay out to your investors. We have a completely different goal. Yes it’s a business, but it’s a completely different goal. Our goal is to give our membership the maximum value for the minimum price, and we’ve lost sight of that in many ways. Associations in general have lost sight of that because they’re fighting technology. They look at Facebook, linkedin, social media, and they’re saying well “this is creating that community outside of it,” and that’s wrong. It’s actually helping with those communities. Let me give you an example of this, and this is you know technology in general. In my generation, when I was born, the microwave was fairly new. There wasn’t a lot of microwaveable dinners on the shelves and there weren’t a whole bunch of those things going on. But I grew up in a time where that was all evolving and the microwave was new and it was cool and all of a sudden parents didn’t have to come home to make dinner. They’re going to go to the gym and they’re going to do aerobics in the 1980s and fancy hairdos. So you have Gen-Xers who are at home learning how to microwave their own food. And we learned how to do that and we ate and we did all of that wonderful stuff. But I’ll tell you what… By the time I was about 14, I wanted a home cooked meal. I was done with microwaves. And still to this day we have a microwave. We’ll heat things up in it. But I will never eat another microwaveable meal in my life. We have it in the office. I’ll skip lunch before I actually put a frozen meal in there. And I got sick of it. So when I go out now and I do student presentations, when I started doing them I was like we’ll go to our website, fill out a membership application, and you can be a member for free. And I would get maybe a 5 percent turnaround on that. When I go out now, I take paper with me. Everybody’s asking to go online and do stuff, but they’ll fill out the paper because it’s there in front of them and everything is fresh in their mind. The benefits are fresh in their mind. And the number one thing students asked for me is where can I go meet members in person? Where can I talk to CPAs: people who can actually tell me why I should continue on in my education and go through all of these hurdles to become a CPA. They’re tired of social networking. It just is. It’s like a microwave to them. It’s just there. Yes if I have a question I can go get an answer, but it’s not how I want to get information. Our unique value proposition as state CPA societies is the fact that we’re local. We have local networks in every community. We have a local network at the state level. We have local meetings with real people, both social and educational. And when we embrace the fact that we’re local — when we don’t look to compete with national brands for CPE; when we don’t look to compete with Facebook and we find our true competitive advantage, which is the fact that we’re here, we create a very strong network of professionals — and that network has incredible power. These are members are smart. We’re vertical. It has incredible power within the community. We can get things done. We make positive impacts. Students love that. We make impacts at the State House because legislators want to know what the decisions they’re making and how that actually impacts the economy in the state. We have the members to do that. And as far as revenue goes, we have a huge potential with our sponsors and our partners to get them in front of trusted business advisers; decision makers. We as an association again coming back to we need to provide the maximum benefit for the lowest cost need to be utilizing those agreements, Those partnerships, to further reduce the cost to the CPA to get them the benefits that they need to shore up that community and reduce their costs in running their business, and that’s where we need to focus. And quite frankly, when you look at what we’ve done — and we’ve all done it — we’re chasing CPE and trying to compete on a national level when really what we need to focus on is what’s right for our state, and this translates to all associations. Who are your customers? What do they really need? Have you had the discussions with them? Have you gone out and talked to them? Or have you gone to 14 different conferences and said wow that’s cool we should try that?Understanding your membership, creating fellowship between them, creating that relationship… That’s what we’re about. And that’s the difference between a customer and a member. The member is someone that you’re working with and for — a customer someone you’re serving. And that’s that’s a big difference. We need to create fellowship among the members.

Peter: [00:28:27] And in your two and a half years… I don’t know who your predecessor was, but I’m going to make an assumption that your membership has really gravitated to this model, per se. The thought process that you that you bring to the table.

Chris: [00:28:40] I think it’s just natural. It’s not something… I don’t I don’t go out and say here’s what we’re doing right and here’s what we’re doing wrong. I’ve made adjustments to how the organization functions. I focused in on experience and I’m going to continue those adjustments, but I look at… we’re responding to the world around us. We have increased our engagement. We have increased our membership. We’ve increased our membership by about 1000 since I’ve been here. I’m not going to say I’m doing the right or wrong things, but I will tell you that I believe in what I’m saying — that what’s important is that fellowship, and I hear that from our members. So you know when you look at something like a chapter, a state chapter, that’s where that local community networking begins. When I go out and talk to my larger firms, one of the issues that they bring to my attention is “We have new staff. We need them to be able to engage with other people and get comfortable with that.” And the way that you do that is through those local events and local meetings. And when I hear from people that what they really need is person to person engagement… That’s what this association was built to do. I’m just going back to the roots.

Peter: [00:29:54] So this person to person engagement… they’re asking for it, now is it is a generational? Because I hear all the time you know that’s what baby boomers want, but the millennials just want to be on line and stuff. But what I’m hearing from is just the opposite.

Chris: [00:30:08] Every person is an individual. So there’s there’s a lot of labeling going on in society right now, which drives me absolutely bonkers. Every person is an individual. Do the millennials understand that they can get information online? Yes. Are they efficient at it? Absolutely. But when you talk to them, they also understand the reality of a personal connection and an engagement. There is a difference in the mentality here… My generation, and I’m an X’er, but I was always told children should be seen and not heard.

Peter: [00:30:48] Yeah same here.

Chris: [00:30:50] So I was taught that you listen to your elders and you don’t really engage them. I’m not going to try to teach my grandpa something. In fact I tried on several occasions. It did not work out well for me at all, but the expectation now, from a millennial standpoint, is that they want to learn from someone, but they also want to share their knowledge because that’s the engagement level that they’ve had in their lives. Their parents have asked how do you feel? What do you want to do? So when they look for a personal relationship, they’re looking for a two-way relationship. I believe that’s changed. I think that’s generational. But I don’t think that millennials don’t want to have human interaction. I hired a millennial in Ohio. I mentored him, and it was challenging. I mean it was really challenging, but I was also challenging to mentor. So but we have a great relationship still to this day, and he appreciates that. And I did. I would listen to him, and sometimes it was painful to listen to him. Sometimes he had a great idea, and other times I would tell him he was wrong. And I think that that’s really the key: as professionals, we’ve grown up, we’ve built our careers, but we’ve lost the ability to take the time to listen, and they expect you to listen. And I can make a decision normally within the first 45 seconds of a conversation of hearing an idea of going “Yeah this is going nowhere.” And I’ve trained myself to stop and to actually let someone get through that idea and then say OK let’s look at your idea. And I’m just going to give you some things I need you to think through. If this happens, or if this were to happen… and I don’t pick it apart. I’ll give him two to three things to work on so that they can rethink their idea and they can make it stronger. Because I don’t want to give up on the idea. That takes an exceptional exceptional amount of time and patience. And when I go out and I do generational talks at firms, this is where it breaks down. Right? Well I don’t have the time to sit with someone for 15 to 20 minutes to go through and then tell them they’re wrong. Isn’t it better just to tell them up front so they don’t waste the time? No idea is wrong. I learned this from a professional speaker early on. No decision is wrong. No idea is wrong. From a decision standpoint, if you make a bad decision you’re just going to make other decisions to fix it. And any bad idea can be rebuilt into a good one. So we have to think that way — that’s what the millennials expect. And if they don’t get that relationship, if they don’t get that from you from the from the starting point, then you’re off to find another relationship. They’re not going to work with you to try to make you a better person because they don’t believe that you’re willing to make them a better person. So no I don’t buy into this concept that this entire generation all functions the same way. I have three millennial children. None of them functioned the same way. One is very liberal and one’s very conservative you know. It’s their own thought processes, it’s their own experiences, that are going to build them into the type of person they are. And we damage ourselves — seriously damage ourselves — by saying that this generation acts this way. It’s dangerous. There are definitely things that you can learn from generational research. But when you look at that… what I would what I would ask everybody to do is, when you when you do your genetic racial research, when you hear this, don’t put that on the generation. Take it back to yourself and say “How can I function differently to compensate for these expectations? How can I create more flexibility in my business to allow for these people to interact with the community?” And you’ll hear this in every millennial presentation. They want to change the world. How do you do that without engaging people? It doesn’t go together to say they only want to work online but they want to change the world. Habitat for Humanity, food drives, soup kitchens — You always see millennials. There are people there. If you want to capture millennials, have places where they can engage with people. And we all hear technology — and technology is a crutch. Everybody thinks it’s this magic thing that’s going to fix it, and when we do that we focus on tech now technology and we lose humanity. And you got to get away from it. Technology is not a savior — it’s a tool. It’s not a solution — It’s a tool. You have to get away from thinking that you can buy a gadget or implement a system that’s going to save your world or your business. It’s all about the people.

Peter: [00:35:54] Well said, and as I’m listening to you, you use a lot of the principles of improvisation in your management style and you said this work continuously through this conversation about listening, listening to understand, and the other one that you just brought up and an improv is bad ideas are just bridges to good ideas — no ideas lead to nothing. So I love that when it takes… like you said, your initial response whens someone gives you an idea, if you don’t think it’s right, you want to shoot it down. It takes a lot of patience and it does take time to explore that idea. Have that person tell you their thought process and you kind of you kind of guiding them and you’re you’re teaching them. Did you think about this? What about this? We need to look at that. And ultimately maybe they’ll find a way to come up with a better idea or they’ll create a whole new idea based off of the conversation that you’re having. But as as I said in a lot of my presentations you know… what I love to do is get a roomful of CPAs and, before we start my presentation, I go what business are you in? And I hear we’re in the auditing business, we do tax returns, we’re in the consulting business… I go that’s a byproduct. You know business you guys are in? You’re in the people business, first and foremost. Everything else is a byproduct. Without people, you have no business. You have nobody working with you, you have nobody to sell to. Once we figure that out, make the engagement and build those relationships because we’re not in a transactional business — we’re in a relationship business and it’s all about managing relationships. And I had a firm who was looking for a project management course, but they had two prior. And we sat down and we were talking I said You guys don’t need a project management course. You need a relationship management course because it’s about the people. Your people are your bottom. The lack of conversation that you’re having with clients is causing a lot of this backlog. So you’ve nailed it right on the head. It’s all about the people and It’s all about the conversation you have with them. Creating that fellowship. Because when I look at an association, I look to others within the organization, within the membership, that I can draw that knowledge or ask questions or engage with. You know to some degree we can be considered a club, and people join clubs to share that information, to have that fellowship, to have friends and stuff. And I see some associations that have completely lost that path. And we talked about this in Miami, and I got this from the author of The Trust Edge, David Horsager, that everything of value is built on trust, and once you lose that trust it’s hard to create the value.

Chris: [00:39:03] From an association standpoint, from that fellowship; that club mentality, you could have a question, you can go out to an online community, you could go to a white box, which is that you know the association has its own community where you can ask that question. And you might get an answer. In fact you’re likely going to get an answer. But what gives you more comfort? What do you trust more? Picking up the phone and calling somebody that you’ve met, that you know, and getting that answer, or waiting for five or six people to give you an answer online? And I think we have to have both. But at the end of the day, the person that you have that relationship with, that person that you trust, those are the people that you’re going to to turn to. And when we look at the value of the association, once again, you go into a firm… once they recognize they’re in the people business, they start trying to figure out professional development, and associations have tons of professional development topics. It’s hard to get people to go to them because everybody’s chasing the ANA and the tax credits. But if you want someone to learn how to network, how to create relationships, how to do business development… Don’t send them to a course. Send them to an event where they actually have to engage with their peers. Let them make those connections. Let them build that network in comfort. And they’re going to do that. They’re going to learn how to do that. One of the best things an association can do is actually build relationships with outside professionals. So you have things like the ABC forums where attorneys, bankers, and CPA are getting together. You can do the same thing with realtors, and really from the association standpoint, when you look at professional development — and when I say professional development I mean those soft skills about public speaking, engaging with people, and doing those types of things — the best way to do it is to have an environment where people have to do it. You go to a classroom for an hour to four hours, you can learn the underlying tools. I speak with Rob Sherman and he can tell me everything I’m doing as a professional speaker is wrong. But go ahead and keep doing it. But I’m going to apply the tools the way that they’re going to work for me. But when he actually gave me an action where he forced me to do something I became good at it. So when you have association networking events or social events or those types of events, that’s where the value of the association comes in. And we do see a decline in those programs. I hear from my chapters that nobody comes. Make a different event because we have to make those events and we have to impress upon people why they’re important. This is your hands-on professional development. That’s what it is. You’re not getting credit for it. You don’t want the credit for it. What you want is an action to come out of it. So that’s really again the power of the association. That is the power of business in general. You’re absolutely right. CPAs are in the people business, and in my my role, even with other association professionals… “Oh you got to work with the CPAs, That’s got to be fun.

Peter: [00:42:16] Hahaha.

Chris: [00:42:16] It is! CPAs are some of the most engaging people that you’re going to find. The majority of CPAs are very personable. They have to be. They can’t be successful unless they are. And I find that, in the firms, that’s the most frustrating things for partners. “My young people won’t go out. They won’t learn how to do this.” You’re not going to learn this in a college class. Right? They’re used to having a very tight knit groups that they’re assigned to. They get assigned to a group, then they make friends within the group, then they work well together. As a boss, you have to you know take that information that you know about this generation — how they were brought up — and say OK I’m assigning you to this chapter. You’re going to go to these chapter activities. You’re going to interact with these people, and that’s how they’re going to create their network. And it’s not a matter of forcing them to do something they don’t want to do. It’s encouraging them and letting them know that they need to do this.

Peter: [00:43:17] I challenge partners, when they talk about the people won’t go out and do, I ask them Do you take them with you to a client? Do you bring them along? What they can learn in a car ride, what they can learn, to your point, to the observation of how you’re interacting with that client– and also you know if a partner goes to the client, gets all this information, comes back, and gives it to a staff member… They’re not getting all the information. There’s stuff that’s been left out. I’ve always said that, when you have a meeting with a client, you take the whole team. So they’re there, they can process it, and it will save time and money down the road. The other aspect, which I find hysterical, is we go to conferences, but we don’t look at the conference as a form of networking. It’s in our mind it’s CPE. It’s learning. Why would I want to meet other CPAs? I was in Dayton and I did this networking class, and I had to get up, meet some people, business cards, all of that. And I tried to… I asked who brought their business cards, and most have raised their hand. So I asked what do you use these for? And this one lady absolutely said I use mine to put in the fishbowls so maybe I could win something from one of the vendors, and in a very polite way I guess is that the best return on investment for that business card? I think it’s just a change in thought process that you know CPE can be some of the best places to network, if we tell ourselves that versus I’m only here to learn, and even though there could be 20 people in the room, there could be 120 people in the room, there’s still people that they haven’t met. Just to say hello.

Chris: [00:45:07] CPE is broken.

Peter: [00:45:08] Yes!

Chris: [00:45:09] It’s horribly broken, and in so many different ways broken. When I came to South Carolina, it was a 100 year anniversary. So I came in and, in the office, there were a hundred years worth of minutes, and I’m a history buff so I wanted to go through these minutes and I learned a lot from them. And I learned a lot about the association and when it was formed. There was the Women’s Auxiliary. There were all of these groups around the association that were social in nature; that allowed for you to create networks and develop business. We look at a CPE program and how it’s developed today at an association level. Our goal is to get people there at 8:30 and out by 4:30. We do that to ensure that they don’t get stuck in traffic.

Peter: [00:45:58] Right.

Chris: [00:45:59] Well that kills any opportunity to have any networking event afterwards because nobody wants to stay — they want to beat traffic. So you kill your networking afterwards. We ensure that there’s not a lot of breaks because we want to make sure we get the total number of hours required for compliance, so there’s not a lot of breaks. There’s no networking there. When I go to a conference, people sometimes will make fun of me. And there are a couple of my peers that we work very well together because you won’t see us in sessions all the time. I will choose the sessions at a conference based on what I want to learn — not based on total number of hours or credits I want to get because I have to have… I have two credentials, both require 40 hours of CPE every year, and neither overlap. So I’m going to. But I’m still going to go to conferences. I may only get eight hours of credit at a 16 hour conference. That other time. Yes. I’m sitting in restaurants. I’m sitting in lobbies. I’m sitting by the pool. But I’m getting the best information I can get about running this association. These are all CEOs or CEOs or learning managers from larger or smaller states. I understand their problems. We share ideas. When new people come in, we try to encourage them to not go to all the sessions. To actually come join us in these discussions. As associations, when we build our programs, we don’t build that in anymore. All the time complain that our members, our CPAs, are just looking for hours. They want to be compliant. But we build a system to ensure that’s all they get from our programs! It doesn’t make any sense, and you’re absolutely right. When you go to these events, you have to think this is a business development opportunity, and then coming back to you know that car ride and what you can learn in those things… how many partners are still going out as often? Have we decided that that’s not good a good use of time for partners? Are they doing phone calls, conference calls, e-mails? Because you can’t read the body language. I don’t know how many times that a meeting has been put off and put off until the customer or the member is so enraged that you have to go speak with them. Whereas if you could have just had that communication in person, you would have been able to read that body language; you would have been able to see that up front. So again, when you go to an event now, what you see is a bunch of people with their noses in their phones instead of talking to people.

Peter: [00:48:26] Right.

Chris: [00:48:27] And when we have to deliver bad news, we always use technology because we don’t have to face the consequences. Again, using technology in a way it’s not intended to be used. And we’ve got to back off of that and come back to humanity and realize people have feelings. People want relationships. We have to put more emphasis on that human connection. And it bothers me to hear. Robots are taking over. AI is the future. We’ve got to come back to humanity. I read a great article this morning and I loved it. There’s a mall in D.C. that it put out its first Robocop. So its security guard was a robot, and they were all excited about it. This is the future of policing in the mall. It has gun detection and all this stuff. Ran for three days and went into a fountain.

Peter: [00:49:18] Hahahaha!

Chris: [00:49:18] Now if there is a point that humanity actually gets to the point that they can’t think and they do that, then the robots win. But technology is allowing us to do that. It’s allowing us to have attention spans of eight seconds. It’s allowing us not to communicate, to not have crucial conversations. That has to stop. And I’m a technology guy, and I can tell you that the magic in technology is not there. It’s all smoke and mirrors. The only thing that makes technology great are the humans that use it, and if you use it properly it’s a tool. If you continue use it improperly, it becomes a hindrance, and that’s really where we’re getting to. We have to create human experiences. As associations, we are uniquely positioned to do that and we have to come back to it. Will there be members upset that we have a 10 hour day and only eight hours of credit? Absolutely. But will they gain more value through those human connections? Yes. And we have to build that. And if we want strong future CPAs, if we want to take the millennials and make them into great professionals, if you want to take Gen Z and make them into great professionals, you have to give them the same experiences — the same advantages — as we gave the boomers, as we gave the Xers. Don’t take that away. Make it more important. That human connection is what’s made this profession great because that’s what’s required to make it work. As associations. quit taking it away. As businesses, don’t keep your young people in the office. Don’t fear somebody poaching them. Make a better office and go out with them to meet people and help them build those networks. That’s what’s required to really grow the profession and make it truly great, and we can help you, at the state level, with that. Sorry, sales pitch. I know it’s preachy.

Peter: [00:51:07] Oh no no no no — it is a great sales pitch by the way. But it is real, and I agree with you 100 percent that technology is a tool. We need to get back to the human factor. We need to show more empathy and realize that we are in the people business, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a state CPA society or a national association or a business or whatever. We have to get back to that. And we also have to deliver bad news face to face and quit hiding behind the damn phone, or the damn e-mail. Crucial conversations… Tell me when I’m wrong. I’m a big boy. Tell me when I’m screwing up. I look for that feedback. But we’re so afraid of hurting someone’s feelings… But if we stick to the facts, and keep emotion out of it, and deliver the message, it goes a long way. It’s just when emotion gets in the way, that’s what creates a lot of the problem in delivering those most crucial conversations. Chris, we could go on for another couple hours, and it would be a fun couple hours, but I wantt o have respect for your time. I know that you’ve a very busy man down in South Carolina and I cannot begin to thank you for sharing your thoughts today, and I hope those who download this listen… you may not agree with what Chris is discussing, but don’t tune him out. Do the whole thing about listening to understand. Listen to his position. I think — I don’t think. I know he’s on to something, and he’s been extremely successful down in the South Carolina Association and will continue to be, and once again I can’t thank you enough for taking time to be here today Chris.

Chris: [00:53:09] And I really appreciate the opportunity. I’m a little passionate about this and sometimes a little bit over the top, but I would say is if you don’t agree with me — or if you have a different observation — I’m pretty easy to find. I’m at the South Carolina Association of CPAs. I’m on Facebook. I’m on Twitter, and my phone number is posted on our Web site. My email is posted on our Web site. Call me. Have a conversation. Because I want to know what is wrong with my idea. I do want to have those conversations. The more transparent, the more open we are, the better overall ideas that we have. But again being a technology professional… it’s really hard for me to see a piece of technology and go that’s magic, and it has become, over time, easier for me to see the things that are problematic with the technology. I really do want to make friends. I don’t even need to influence others. So you know I’m here. I’m available. I love to talk to people. I hear this all the time: I know you’re really busy and I want to be protective of your time. My time is best spent learning and talking and listening. That’s what I do. So if if you want to do those things, feel free to reach out to me because I’m sure there’s something I can learn from you and I hope that there’s something that I can help you with. But that’s what it’s about and I want to I want to make those connections. I’m not just here to tell you how you should do it. I’m here because I want those connections and my network can always be stronger as well. If you’re one of those people listening that just like linked to me on on LinkedIn and never talk to me… You’re likely going to get pruned. I don’t except people on Facebook unless I know you in person, so if you want to be on my Facebook you got to call me. But those are the types of things, again, I’m interested in human connection. And Pete I mean we’ve known each other for a long time and it’s really great to get to talk to you and for you to allow me to rant… You know for an hour.

Peter: [00:55:11] Hahaha.

Chris: [00:55:12] And any time you want, we can talk about anything you want. So we can do technology. I’m always willing to come back. But it’s been a great time.

Peter: [00:55:18] I will have you back and we might pick up from this point and and run with it again. But for those of you who are listening, take him up on his offer. Go the South Carolina Association of CPAs and get his e-mail address, get his phone number, give him a call. Have a conversation with him. I think you’ll enjoy the conversation. You may help Chris learn something and I’m sure he’ll have you thinking in a completely different way. So Chris once again thank you very much for… I wouldn’t call it ranting, my friend.

Chris: [00:55:50] Hahaha.

Peter: [00:55:51] I would call it a passion that comes through that you are very passionate about this topic and the subject. And that’s what I love… when somebody discusses something with passion, but you’re different in a way. You also listen to other opinions. Some people who are so passionate they can’t… anybody else’s opinion is wrong. You do that listening to understand and you do the things that you know I talk about in improv in order to help create that community. So thank you very much. I’m sure our paths will cross again.

Peter: [00:56:33] I would like to say Chris again for being a guest today and sharing his thoughts on ways to better engage your audience and on association management. Personally, I’m going to try his elevator method and I’ll report back in a future episode, or I’ll be on the front page of The Columbus Dispatch. One of the two. I have partnered with the Maryland Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute to bring an exciting new learning opportunity for accounting professionals to earn CPE credits. You can earn up to one CPE credit for each completed podcast episode purchased for only $29 through the American Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute self-study website. The podcast episodes are mobile friendly. Open your browser on your smartphone, tablet, or computer, Go to the MACPA and BLI self-study account, and listen to an episode. Take the review and final exam while you’re working out or after listening to an episode on your commute to and from work – It’s that easy! While all Improv is no Joke podcasts are available on my website, only those purchased through the MACPA and BLI self-study Web site are eligible for CPE credit. You can get detailed instructions by visiting my website at www.PeterMargaritis.com and clicking on the graphic “Improv is no Joke for CPE credit” on my home page. Remember you can subscribe to my podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. If you’d like to purchase an autographed copy of my book Improv is no Joke: Using Improvisation to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life, for $14.99 with free shipping, please go to my website, PeterMargaritis.com, and you’ll see the graphic on the homepage to purchase my book. Please allow 14 days for shipping. You can also follow me on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. Remember to use the principles of improvisation to help you better connect and communicate with those in your organization.

Resources:

Production & Development for Improv Is No Joke by Podcast Masters

Ep. 60 – Roxanne Kaufman Elliott: How to Inspire Leadership, Develop Leaders, & Transform Cultures

 

Our guest, Roxanne Kaufman Elliott, has spent much of her professional life exploring what makes the difference between failure and success – and she’s found that it comes down to exemplary leadership. The good news is that there’s an exemplary leader in all of us – we just need a way to unleash it.

As President and i3 Leadership Master at ProLaureate Ltd., a transformational leadership development firm, Roxanne helps both individuals and organizations unleash their leadership potential and transform cultures. She’s also a certified executive coach, facilitator, award-winning business marketing strategist, and the author of Never Wear Read: A Leadership Love Story.

Roxanne started her professional life in drama, and later as a theater administrator. She then made a natural segue to working at a small company manufacturing specialty resin products for the construction industry. As part of a small leadership team, they grew that small business into a thriving company… before it was purchased by a large European company.

That was a pivotal and heart-breaking moment for Roxanne. She saw the business philosophy and priorities shift away from communication, cooperation, and collaboration. She had to leave.

She spent years learning about leadership from different organizations and research before founding ProLaureate, where she offers three distinct coaching services:

  1. The Leadership Challenge – Primarily cultural development based off of the book of the same name, written by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. This training often involves individual coaching with everyone in an organization.
  2. i3 Executive Coaching – One-on-one and small group coaching for executive teams that want to develop strategic leadership skills (with an emphasis on strategy).
  3. ROXTalks – Speaking engagements and keynotes for large groups or organizations covering topics like “The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership” and “The Secret Sauce.”

The Leadership Challenge

Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner co-authored The Leadership Challenge and created the LPI 360 assessment around the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. These practices are in schools, churches, Fortune 50 corporations, and everything in between. It’s really a movement to create a shared language for leadership, level the field of what leadership is, and build genuine leadership within organizations.

Each one of the five practices are the tip of an iceberg that goes deep into developing our own personal leadership, which always comes first, and then our ability to lead others.

One of the things that Roxanne loves about Kouzes and Posner is that they say the key to success, in anything that we do, is to be in love. Think about it: when we’re in love, we’re passionate about what it is we are in love with. And, in this case, it’s our business; it’s our people; it’s the work that we do; it’s the impact that we make; it’s the change that we bring.

The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership that guide organizations and people to leadership success:

  1. Model the Way – Walk your talk. How many times have we had leaders say one thing and do another?
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision – This is critically important because most people struggle with vision statements, sharing visions, and getting other people to buy in.
  3. Challenge the Process – Experiment and take risks. You know the old saying if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? Well, if it ain’t broke, break it… and see if you can make it better.
  4. Enable Others to Act – Foster collaboration, build trust, and strengthen others by helping them develop their own competencies.
  5. Encourage the Heart – Recognize people for their contribution, celebrate values, and celebrate accomplishments (especially the little ones). A handshake, a twinkle in your eye, a genuine appreciation, and saying thank you go further than just about anything else.

The last one is Roxanne’s favorite, and it is the basis for the title of her book, Never Wear Read: A Leadership LOVE Story (emphasis mine). A lot of executives balk at this idea, at first, but this is the heart of it all – this is the passion that brings success to everything we do.

I appreciate Roxanne sharing so much about her experiences and coaching, and what she teaches parallels a core tenet of improvisation: providing support. Leadership can’t lead well in a silo, and teams can’t perform at their best without being given the tools they need to be successful.

How can you start providing support in your life to train as a stronger leader?

Download this Episode MP3.

Resources:

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

 

 

Roxanne: [00:00:00] Every single one of us has a great leader inside of us. We just need to find a way to unleash it.

[music]

Peter: [00:00:16] Welcome to improv is no joke podcast. It’s all about becoming a more effective communicator by embracing the principles of improvisation. I’m your host Peter Margarita’s the self-proclaimed chief edutainment officer of my business the accidental account. My goal is to provide you with thought provoking interviews with business leaders so you can become an effective improviser which will lead to building stronger relationships with clients customers colleagues and even your family. So let’s start to show.

[music]

Peter: [00:00:47] Welcome to episode number 60, and today my guest is Roxanne Kaufman Elliott, who’s a founder and president of ProLaureate Ltd., a transformational leadership development firm. Roxanne is an i3 Leadership Master, a professional speaker, and a member of the National Speaker’s Association, and on the board of the Ohio chapter of the National Speaker’s Association. She’s also a certified executive coach, facilitator, and an award-winning business marketing strategist. She is the author of the book Never Wear Red, a leadership love story, which can be found on Amazon.com. Before we get to the interview, I’d like to talk about Listen, learn, and learn. I have partnered with the Maryland Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute to bring an exciting new learning opportunity for accounting professionals to earn CPE credits. You can earn up to one CPE credit for each completed podcast episode purchased for only $29 through the American Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute self-study website. The podcast episodes are mobile friendly. Open your browser on your smartphone, tablet, or computer, Go to the MACPA and BLI self-study account, and listen to an episode. Take the review and final exam while you’re working out or after listening to an episode on your commute to and from work – It’s that easy! While all Improv is no Joke podcasts are available on my website, only those purchased through the MACPA and BLI self-study Web site are eligible for CPE credit. You can get detailed instructions by visiting my website at www.PeterMargaritis.com and clicking on the graphic “Improv is no Joke for CPE credit” on my home page. OK now let’s get to the interview with Roxanne.

Peter: [00:03:05] Roxanne, welcome and thank you for taking time out of your crazy schedule to be a guest on my podcast today.

Roxanne: [00:03:12] Thank you. No thank you for taking time to talk with me. I’m excited. Been looking forward to it.

Peter: [00:03:18] I have myself been looking forward to this ever since our meeting at the National Speakers Association Ohio board retreat, really the first time I met you get to know other but you intrigued me with with your background in leadership and if you could kind of give us your story. Tell us about yourself so the auidence can get an idea of who Roxanne is and what you have built up over these years.

Roxanne: [00:03:44] I would love to do that and I could make this the saga over over many days but I won’t go there. I promise to keep it short and to the point. But but I think the background is really important in all of our stories and it certainly is in mine. So in a nutshell the journey has gone kind of like this. I’ve had three very separate and very different careers in my lifetime. The first part of my career was in the performing arts. I was an actor. I studied it in school I majored in theater. I worked semiprofessionally for many years and then started working in the administration of theater. So I traveled all over the place. We did a lot of historic restoration. But through all of this what I was learning was really the art and science of business, not only in for profit organizations but in nonprofits as well. And I found that my theater training and my background in the performing arts was a huge asset to the work that I started to do when I went into administration and management of running performing arts centers, one of which was connected to the Jackie Gleason Center for Performing Arts down in Miami Beach Florida. I worked on a restoration project down there on the Colony Theatre, which was a huge learning experience. So all of that was great and it just formed a foundation of really thinking about what is leadership and what does it got to do with success and failure happiness in life, and in our professional areas. So that’s that question started to bubble up in my mind. And then I made a giant leap away from nonprofits and, of all things, I went to work for what was then a very small company in New England that was a manufacturer of specialty resin systems in the construction industry. Believe it or not.

Peter: [00:05:42] Wow.

Roxanne: [00:05:42] [laughs] I know. But I just wanted to do something differently. Got a little bit tired of eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, to be honest about it. I wanted to see what it was like to you know go into the corporate ranks and see what that was all about. So I took all of my experience in helping nonprofits and performing artists and arts organizations, and in helping them create successful businesses. I took that into this little company and something kind of very cool was going on. And I don’t think we even realized that at the time but we were Musketeers. We were all for one one for all. We were a band of brothers and me, and we built an incredibly successful business over the course of about seven years, and then we were bought out by a huge global conglomerate. And the company started to fail because of a different way of looking at business. And it was from a European organization. So they were not American-based. But just a whole different philosophy, a whole different style, a whole different way of looking at talent within organizations. At people. I don’t think they ever understood the concept of leadership, and it was heartbreaking for me because it was a life-changing moment. I saw what happened when leadership, unbeknownst to us, which is what we were doing from the very beginning when we went to work together in this small group, was our highest priority. Collaboration, cooperation, really understanding other people’s point of views; really communicating with people; making it about the relationship and helping others to succeed. And then all that went away and everything failed, and I found I had to make a decision. I couldn’t have any influence anymore within the company after we had been bought out. And I was so heartbroken by it all, and yet so incredibly grateful for the learning experience. I traveled all over the world. I worked in all of these different kinds of organizations with people from all different cultures and socio economic background and business expertise and so forth. It was fascinating and I thought oh wait a minute. What have I done all of my life where I have succeeded? And it wasn’t because I was a performing artist or an actor or an administrator. It wasn’t because I was an executive on a team that formed this great little company. It was because of what I believed in, and that is that every single one of us has a great leader inside of us. We just need to find a way to unleash it. So I left the company. I resigned. I came back to Ohio, where I live now in Cleveland, and I formed my own company called ProLaureate, and people asked me what does that really mean. Well if you think about laureate, laureates is a term that came from the ancient Greeks when they were teaching people an expertise (men, primarily, all men of course) in various forms of endeavors, whether they be academic or scientific or whatever. And when they reached the pinnacle of their expertise, they were crowned as laureate, with laurel leaves. That’s where they came from in the Olympics. We still use that today in the Olympics. So I was thinking there’s baccalaureate, there’s poet laureate, there are Nobel laureates. Why not professional laureate? Because that’s where genuine leadership comes from. So I hope that wasn’t too much of a ramble but that’s how I got here.

Peter: [00:09:41] No, no. Well I’m fascinated in all aspects. One, the Performing Arts, which I had no clue, which kind of blew me away. And I’m sitting here trying to remember… there was an interview with Kevin Spacey recently. He left and went to England to manage that theater looking for something new. It was a great leadership… do you remember what that was from? What publication that was from?

Roxanne: [00:10:04] No I don’t. I saw it on television I think. There was a I think that was maybe it was a different one with him but he’s one of my favorite actors of all time. But I don’t remember what that was connected to.

Peter: [00:10:15] In reading this article, and between now and the time this goes live I’ll see if I can find it and put it in the show notes. But he talked about… he wanted something new, something different, and he learned a lot about leadership and helping to build this theater company profitable. Once it became very profitable, He kind of walked away to find something different. That aspect fascinates me, but the the culture change within a manufacturing company. And you said a foreign company came in and purchased you guys.

Roxanne: [00:10:46] Correct yeah.

Peter: [00:10:48] Where was the headquarters located?

Roxanne: [00:10:50] Of the company who bought us? Germany.

Peter: [00:10:53] Germany, and how many years ago was this?

Roxanne: [00:10:56] I left the company in 2003. The merger took place four years prior to that.

Peter: [00:11:05] So the headquarters was now moved to Germany. But you guys were located in New England.

Roxanne: [00:11:14] In Waterbury, Connecticut, yeah.

Peter: [00:11:15] Did they bring anybody over from the parent company to help through this transition?

Roxanne: [00:11:22] Great question. Yes they did. They brought some of their folks over. I would use the word help loosely. [laughs] If I’m being really honest, and I’m not mentioning any names, and by the way this story is in my book because it was such a pivotal time in my life and I’ve lived with it ever since. The lessons learned and the takeaways, and it’s really helped me to become very successful in my own business. But yes they did bring people over and brought them in and planted them in our headquarters in Waterbury, Connecticut, and that created all kinds of interesting scenarios.

Peter: [00:12:04] Yeah, actually last week I was at a client, and a fairly large client, but they were telling a story about when a Luxembourg company purchased them some years ago, and the struggle in culture change. Especially when it’s across the water. Completely different culture. And they’ve been one company now for a number of years, about 10, but there’s still this whole underlying leadership culture, foreign culture, you know it’s trying to assimilate into U.S. culture. U.S. culture is trying to assimilate into a European culture. And as you said, the view of leadership is viewed very differently.

Roxanne: [00:12:47] Yes it is. And that can make or break any kind of a merger acquisition. I’ve seen it go both ways. When when cultural due diligence is made as high a priority, and as important as financial due diligence and all of the other due diligence that we do in mergers and acquisitions, then you have a success. When it’s ignored, as it was in my experience by all the people who are involved, you can’t win. You cannot win. This is also one of the reasons why… really 2005 is when I incorporated. I was doing some consulting those first two years, 2003 to 2005, and then firmly established my firm and just went totally 100 percent into it in 2005. And then right around that time is when I discovered these two fellows who are scholars in leadership worldwide. They are so well known and I looked them up and reached out to them and started to immerse myself in the work that they have been doing. Their names are Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. They’re the authors of The Leadership Challenge, now in its sixth edition. This has gone worldwide. This is in nonprofits. It’s in schools, churches, huge corporations. Fortune 50 corporations and everything in between. And it’s really a movement, and there are… I don’t know probably… I mean there are lots of people who use material, and then there are those of us who have gone through the certification programs and all of that to use the materials. And this is culture building, and what it does is level the field of what is leadership. It’s not about what country you live in, your gender, your background, your socioeconomic status, your educational levels, and so forth. It’s about authentic genuine leadership and building that within organizations. As You can tell, I mean this is a passion of mine. I love it. So this is just one aspect. I have three areas that I work in, in my firm, that are all of course very closely related. But the leadership challenge work, Barry and Jim’s work, and they’ve been doing research on this worldwide for almost 40 years now. So it’s empirical data. I mean it’s all it’s all studied and proven. It’s pretty amazing.

Peter: [00:15:17] To look at the information and think about leadership… is there a way of of summing their work up and in like a sentence?

Roxanne: [00:15:29] Yeah. Through all of their research, everything that they have done, they discovered that there are five practices of exemplary leadership that guide organizations and people to leadership success. It’s to model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart. Over and over and over again, those five practices, and the development of the leadership behavior around each one of them, are what brings leadership success to cultures and organizations and individuals more than a sentence, I apologize. But that’s it. And each one of those five practices are the very tip of an iceberg that goes really really really deep into developing our own personal leadership, which always comes first, and then our ability to lead others. And one of the things that I love about these guys, and what first just captured me in learning more about it and becoming a certified coach, facilitator, consultant, etc. in this work is one of the things that they say. You know they say the key to success, in anything that we do, is to be in love. And that stopped me dead in the track. I went what?! this is so cool. Of course. Because think about it: when we’re in love, we’re passionate about what it is we are in love with. And in this case, it’s our business; it’s our people; it’s the work that we do; it’s the impact that we make; it’s the change that we bring. And that’s what really is the fire within it.

Peter: [00:17:11] So that explains the title of your book, Never Wear Red: A leadership LOVE story.

Roxanne: [00:17:18] Exactly right! Exactly. It’s all about the love thing, and a lot of executives, When I first say this, they go oh come on don’t get all warm and fuzzy on it. Oh no. Guys and gals this is the heart of it all. This is the passion that brings success to everything we do. Hence the name of my book, like you said Pete.

Peter: [00:17:40] So what’s the Never Wear Red aspect from the title of the book? That was one of my questions on my list. Where did that come from?

Roxanne: [00:17:49] Well all of us grow up with things that we hear from people all the time and we don’t realize how they embed themselves in our subconscious minds. And a lot of those things are harmless, seemingly harmless when they are said, but they really create obstacles to our success, and it creates those things we allow to get in our own way. Well everybody who’s listening to this probably doesn’t know this but I’m a redhead, and a redhead all my life. So when I was growing up, everyone told me, especially all my my women (my mom grandmothers and everybody), said Roxanne never wear red. Never ever ever wear red. It just doesn’t work for you. It clashes with your hair. It’s ugly. Well that manifested in my brain. Oh my gosh I better be really careful about what I do, what I say, how I act, who I present myself to be so that I’m not ugly and that I’m not clashing with myself. So this becomes not a conscious thought but it kind of sits in your brain. And I will never forget the day that I decided to resign my position in my corporate life and start my business. I got up I walked in to my closet and I had a big mirror on the door, a full length mirror on the door, and I looked at myself and I said “girl it’s about time you started wearing red.”

Peter: [00:19:17] Hahaha!

Roxanne: [00:19:18] Break down the barriers. Get rid of them. Figure out who you really are, authentically and genuinely, and for crying out loud – go out and be that! Some people aren’t going to like it and that’s their problem. Don’t worry about it. Be who you are. So that’s why you know when I’m doing book sales or I’m at an event or whatever people come up and they go oh my god I have my red suit or my red shoes or my red. Yes. Please wear more of that! And I explain what the title means.

Peter: [00:19:47] I’m glad you did because a colleague of mine wears, at every speaking event, a red blazer. And I had to figure out how to tell her you’re never supposed to wear red, but I’m glad you clarified that for me so I don’t have to tell her that.

Roxanne: [00:20:03] Well the first thing I did after I looked in the mirror and said to myself… I went out that day and I bought myself the most gorgeous pair of red high heels and I wear them for every speaking engagement. [laughs]

Peter: [00:20:15] OK there you go! I have a pair of red high heels too… But it’s a whole different story.

Roxanne: [00:20:23] Hahaha! I’m not sure you can share that one.

Peter: [00:20:23] But I’ll wear them to the next National Speakers Association Ohio chapter meeting.

Roxanne: [00:20:31] Yeah great. I can’t wait to see it. Awesome.

Peter: [00:20:35] My mother’s probably listening to this going Oh my god what happened? But moving forward… So let’s go back to the these five pieces that that you talked about. If you can to a little bit depth because I think my audience would be a intrigued – because I’m extremely intrigued – Maybe a little bit depth in each one of the five?

Roxanne: [00:20:56] Sure. Absolutely. OK. So Jim and Barry went out and did all this research. They’ve gone around the world. And there’s also another piece of this. Based on the research, they created a 360 degree instrument. It’s an assessment. I think most people are familiar with 360’s. And it’s called the Leadership Practices Inventory, and what this does is measure each one of these five practices. So it sets up… so there’s a leader. Let’s say you’re the CEO of a company and you want to take this 360 degree assessment. So you take a self-assessment and then you arrange for the other people that you want to take it. What they’re doing is they’re going to go through this 360 and they’re going to be six behavioral statements for each one of the five practices. And what they’re asking you, when you do this, is how often do you do this? Very rarely, seldom, every now and then, or almost always. So it goes through a range. So there are 60 statements that are constantly being tested to make sure they’re still valid, and then you get a rating of the frequency of behavior. We all do all five, all of the time, but we want to understand how we can increase our leadership behaviors based on the statements in each one of these practices to increase our effectiveness as a leader. So each one of the five practices has two statements that make up the 10 commitments of leadership that help guide us in understanding what each of the five practices is. So the first one is model the away. Simply put, Walk your talk.

Peter: [00:22:47] Okay.

Roxanne: [00:22:47] How many times have we had leaders say one thing and do another? So the two commitments for that practice are first to clarify your values by finding your voice, and then affirming shared values. So it’s saying out loud “these are my core values. What are yours? What do we share? How are we different?” And then secondly, do what you say you’re going to do. Set your example with your own behavior of aligning your actions with your values, and with the shared values that you have with your constituent. The second is to inspire a shared vision. This is so critically important because most people struggle so much with vision statements and really sharing visions and getting other people to buy in. So this is where it’s really really important that a vision has inspiration behind it. The two commitments for this are two envision and talk about the future by really getting in people’s imaginations, getting them excited, and ennobling possibilities. Think about how far we can go. There’s a famous monk – and I’m sorry… It’s Frederick and it’s escaping me at the moment – But he said You will never be bigger than the vision that you create for yourself. I’m paraphrasing, but it’s true. When you make a vision for something, make it pretty big because otherwise you’re going to be held to the limits that you create. And secondly, for envisioning, it’s talk with others. Ask them what is their vision. Share yours. And where do you intersect? What is similar? What is different? This is what creates those great relationships with people. The third one is challenge the process, and I’ll kind of go quickly over these two, but these are the guidelines. These are the foundations. When you challenge the process, this is a tough one for human beings, it’s looking for new ways. It’s looking for innovation; ways to improve. You know the old thing if it ain’t broke don’t fix it? Well if it ain’t broke, break it – and see if you can make it better. That’s what this is about. Experimenting, taking risks. Enable others to act. When you are enabling others to act, give away your power. Give away your tools/ Because it comes back to you a hundred times over. So you want to foster collaboration, building trust, and you want to strengthen others by helping them to develop their own competencies. Understand what people’s strengths are, give them the tools to get even stronger, understand what they need to do that maybe they’re not so good at and get good people around them to help. That’s how we all succeed. And then finally the last one: encourage the heart. This is my favorite. It’s so important. A handshake, a twinkle in your eye, a genuine appreciation and smile, and saying thank you… they go further than just about anything else. It’s great to get promotions. We all love to get more money. But I’ll tell you what… those day to day encouragements bring people onboard in a way that the loyalty just goes on for ever. So it’s just recognizing people for their contribution and then celebrating values, and celebrating victory. Celebrating accomplishments, especially the little ones.

Peter: [00:26:22] OK. Now you’ve got me even more intrigued. You know this whole thing… I mean the first one: model; walk your talk. There’s so many examples of where it has gone wrong, where the CEO has not walked their talk, but they’ve created a culture that people think, unless you’re doing the right thing… I’ll just say Wells Fargo, I’ll just say Enron, WorldCom, all these companies that leadership… They have those things out there, but they’re not walking the talk and they go they go awry. It’s very prevalent. But this also helped me understand your business because I also know, in doing my homework, that you are – these words might not be correct – but you are certified in DiSC training, as well as strength finders and the like.

Roxanne: [00:27:14] Right. Right. All of those. Yeah.

Peter: [00:27:16] So I think when you were talking about understanding your audience and giving them support, you have to be able to understand… well these tools help you understand because all leaders are different. All people were made up of different– we think differently, we act differently. Correct me if I’m wrong, but what I’m seeing is it helps you tailor your programming so they get the biggest bang, or you make the biggest impact, based on their personality style.

Roxanne: [00:27:45] Absolutely. That’s exactly right. You know you put that together precisely the way that it’s meant to. There are really three very specific things that I do within my business. One is the leadership challenge, and that’s primarily cultural development. So I work with organizations and many times go through the entire corporate population to really build a common language of leadership, and to help people really understand what it takes to have that foundation of leadership and to share, like we were talking about, different countries, different kinds of leadership. But to really get everybody on the same page with that. So that’s one thing. And I also do some individual work with that. But I also am an i3 master. i3 is an executive coaching program. It’s one-on-one, and it also has a small group component to it for executive teams that want to do strategic leadership and really get into not only leadership development but strategy development. So i3 is I to the power of three. And this goes more to the left brain development of organizations. So the three I’s are inspire, ignite, and impact. So each one of these coaching programs, or small group development programs, is built around those three segments. So the inspire piece is getting to that vision – is really getting to the heart and soul of the business, and this is a really deep dive into it. This is where we do the assessments, The Hartman color code, and the Kilmann conflict instrument to really understand the dynamic of the groups that are working together – individual strengths and weaknesses – to build a very clear and easy to understand communication. So we break down silos and then get teams working together. The second segment then goes into ignite. This is where we ignite that inspiration with left brain planning and thinking. It’s strategy, goals, short term, long term, all built around driving the success of the vision – of the organization’s shared vision of the people within the organization. And then the third I is impact. And this is the action step. This is where we sit down and we lay out the plan. OK what’s going to happen when, Who’s going to do it, who is accountable and how are we going to stay on track? and what are the red flags we need to recognize if we’ve got project creep or we’re going off the edge here or we hit barriers or an obstacle. So that’s executive coaching, and then the executive team coaching in small groups. So that’s one and two: the leadership challenge and i3. And then the third thing is my speaking work, and that’s ROXTalks.

Peter: [00:31:04] Hahaha!

Roxanne: [00:31:04] So ROXTalks is the whole speaking thing, which as you know is just great fun getting in front of groups and just talking about all this stuff. But again everything is totally customized to each and every client each and every group.

Peter: [00:31:21] I can imagine when you’re doing a speaking engagement that, as you are assessing the audience, as you are going through your keynote or whatever, you have to get a lot of satisfaction just because… I bet you see a bit you see that Scooby-Doo kind of look that they’re giving you.

Roxanne: [00:31:40] Yeah! I love it. Yes. I’ve never heard anybody put it quite that way. But that’s exactly – it is Scooby Doo.

Peter: [00:31:49] And I’ll bet you the big Scooby Doo moment is when you’re when you talk about love, and they’re thinking what? But after you explain it I’m sure they go ohhhh yeah.

Roxanne: [00:32:05] That’s right. And what I do is I save that. One of my keynotes that I do that that focuses in on that – I call it the secret sauce.

Peter: [00:32:15] OK.

Roxanne: [00:32:15] And that’s what it is. It’s the love piece, and I introduce that by saying OK I’m going to give you the secret now, but I want you all to prepare yourself. It’s a four-letter word. And a lot of people get really offended, and I go on and on about this and build it all up and then you know I spell it out for them and everybody goes Ah ha.

Peter: [00:32:40] Yeah I can imagine you do get a lot of that, as you’re laying this out, because I think I’ve had a couple of Scooby Doo moments just in listening to what you do, and acquainting it to leadership. I also see a lot of parallels, as it relates to improvisation, because you mentioned something about giving people the tools that they need to survive; give them the tools they need to be successful. And that’s one of the aspects of of Improv: providing support. Throughout this whole conversation, you have a tremendous amount of respect for your audience and they have a tremendous amount of respect for you. There’s a lot of listening, a lot of focus, so there’s a lot of parallels. But I love the the the aspect that you’ve added to this… OK so I’m going to say this. It sounds so simple, but we know it’s so hard.

Roxanne: [00:33:36] It is. It’s so true. Yeah.

Peter: [00:33:39] And my one question is, and I don’t know you share a similar frustration, but even when you come into executive coaching there’s a stop date. When you go in to do a presentation, there’s a stop date. So I look at that as OK so we’ve had an event, but you’re not there. I could tell by your voice you’re not there for the event. You’re there for the process. And I imagine that is somewhat of a challenge in all of our businesses when we when we work with others in other organizations. When that end day comes, is to keep that process moving forward. Do you have a way that you try to do that?

Roxanne: [00:34:18] I do, yeah. I do. And what you said is just again right on because leadership is is not an event. A lot of people think it is. I’m going to go to this two day training program or whatever it is. Nope. You know what if you’re doing that, great, you’re getting new knowledge, but that is an event. That’s that’s not self-development. Self-development is a lifelong goal. It’s a lifelong effort. It’s really being passionate about being the best that you can be – becoming that truly authentic genuine person that you’re meant to be. So when I do with most of my clients is I do put everybody in a SIT file, a stay in touch file.

Peter: [00:34:54] OK. Thank you.

Roxanne: [00:34:55] Yep yep. Stay in touch. And so everyone I work with knows – I get permission of course – and when that’s granted they go in my SIT file. And that file is a monthly video blog that goes out. I need to get you on that list, Pete.

Peter: [00:35:14] OK.

Roxanne: [00:35:15] It’s going out Monday. We postponed July just to Mondays because the holiday. But it’s a video blog. The series that’s going out right now is all based in the leadership challenge work. So these are reminders. It’s called a minute with Rox, and they are one minute. Pretty much a one minute, no more than you know 65 seconds anyway, that just touch on something that we’ve talked about, that we’ve coached about, that we’ve worked on to remind you to keep that up with others. So I do that for everybody. I also do quarterly check in. As we go along, I’ll just drop a note. I will make a phone call. And then I started using the Moodleroom. This is for clients that want to stay connected in more of a formal way, but only now and then. Maybe once a quarter, maybe twice a year. So we will do the Moodleroom, which is where you can create your own area for this group where you can go in and ask questions and have dialogue and carry on, and I can send them updates and even a little homework now and then. We can share books and articles and so forth. And it’s kind of a private little group thing. It’s cool. And then the other thing I do is I will go back in, if they would like to do this. I’ve been doing this with several of my clients right now. I just schedule time to go back in on a quarterly basis, or twice a year, just to have a couple of hours with the folks that I’ve worked with, whether it be the individual coachees, or the teams that I’ve worked with, or maybe we do a whole company. You know hour to two hour hey let’s go to the big room and have an interaction, let’s have some conversation. Let’s talk about what’s working and let’s talk about what isn’t, and what you can do.

Peter: [00:37:06] That’s great.

Roxanne: [00:37:06] There’s all different kinds of ways. Yeah.

Peter: [00:37:08] That’s great because I think that’s a challenge that a lot of us have. And I love your ideas and I’ll just go on the record: I’m probably still one or two of them because I love that.

Roxanne: [00:37:22] Please do.

Peter: [00:37:22] When I talk to audiences, I point them to the podcast. I point them to my newsletter. I pointthem to my writing, the articles and blogs and stuff, and just challenge them to read it; to kind of stay abreast and just kind of keep that… you know I always said it takes 21 days to create a habit, but I found out that was wrong. It’s really 66 days to create a habit.

Roxanne: [00:37:45] [laughs]I would say yes. Yes that would be right.

Peter: [00:37:47] So it takes a little bit longer than we wanted to, but in order… you know 66 days really isn’t that long. The hard part of it is maintaining that habit, after that time.

Roxanne: [00:38:00] That’s right. And I think a little prodding, and always ask. My suggestion would be that, when you do reach out… you know we all have social media, we all have the blogs and whatever we’re doing to keep people engaged, but they have to generate the energy and the concentration and the priority to do that. And in our world today, we’re just inundated every single minute, every single day, from so many different directions. Here’s here’s my suggestion, in two parts. First, take time every single day to turn off the noise. Go quiet. It’s so important to give your brain a rest from this. You’re overworking that computer inside your head right. Silence, And just going quiet and just allowing yourself to stop for a moment and just be grateful. Be thankful. Be thoughtful. Whatever it may be. When you go back to it, the second thing I would suggest you do is, when when you’re reaching out, make an ask every single time. Almost everything that I do – I can’t say it’s everything – but almost everything I do, especially in my little blogs that I do my written blogs that go out, the last sentence is always a question.

Peter: [00:39:19] Hm.

Roxanne: [00:39:19] It’s always a question. I make a statement. I share a view or an experience or whatever, and it always has to do with self-development or leadership in one way or another. And then my last sentence is always. So what are you doing today to make more of an impact on the world? What will you do today? Write it down.

Peter: [00:39:39] I love that, and I’ll just do a quick rewind here because, as you said, you have to want to do this. You know it’s an individual thing, and to put it into your words: you got to love this to do this. You have to put your heart into it, you get to put the passion into it, which is a driving force. And if you don’t have that passion, you don’t have the drive, you don’t have that love… you’re not going to make headway. You’re not going to get better. You are you going to be stuck in that rut. So I love that aspect of it. And you know you can take the horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

Roxanne: [00:40:15] That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. To find out what the horse likes to drink and then put it out there and he’ll find it himself.

Peter: [00:40:23] Well that is always up to a whole world of opportunities now.

Roxanne: [00:40:30] There you go! [laughs]

Peter: [00:40:33] And when we’re done I am going to subscribe to your newsletter because I want to see the stuff that you’re writing and the stuff that you’re doing. How can people find you?

Roxanne: [00:40:45] Well in two ways. The Web site is www.ProLaureate.com They can go there. They can also go to LinkedIn. And I have a professional Facebook page and all that kind of stuff. And if they want to reach out to me directly, the best way to do that is through email really. And the best email for that would be Roxanne @ ProLaureate dot com.

Peter: [00:41:23] Simple enough. Lots of social media. I love your web site, and I love how you use the power of three. There’s a lot of threes in everything that you do. The i3 and on your Web site it’s inspire, emerge, transform. You’re a pro at the 3s.

Roxanne: [00:41:47] Well I’ll tell you why: I learned many many years ago the power of three. People, the human brain, a lot of my trade of occasions and training are based in behavioral psychology. I don’t have any big letters or numbers after my name, but that is just fascinating stuff to me. It’s it’s been a part of my development and my leadership stuff. But the power of three – think of headlines day in the news. They usually will mention that the top three leading headlines. Three leaf clovers are an Irish tradition based on the Trinity. 3. Mind body spirit. All of these things come in threes and the human brain is attracted to that. It loves seeing three things. It’s easy to remember. By the way, just as a aside, if you’re doing a presentation of any kind… If you can chunk it into three main areas of conversation – start with you know topics, go through details, and then wrap up with key points – Your audience will remember it better. The power of three is amazing. So everything just about that I do has some sort of that kind of format to it. Even my speaking. When I put a keynote together, I’m doing workshops and seminars, It’s usually you know what guys? I’d like to talk to you about three things today, and here they are. One two three. Let’s start with one.

Peter: [00:43:17] Yeah I do that too. I start a little executive summary. And then I go boom boom boom. I mean I’ve done stand up my day, and I know the power of three helps with the misdirection and helps with the joke. And I start thinking you have three bean salad, you have the three stages, a stop light has three three colors.

Roxanne: [00:43:37] [laughs] Exactly!

Peter: [00:43:37] Like Goldilocks and the three bears.

Roxanne: [00:43:41] Now you got it.

Peter: [00:43:41] The Nina, the Pinta, and the Santamaria. I mean there’s threes everywhere.

Roxanne: [00:43:46] Yeah!

Peter: [00:43:47] And because it’s easy to remember, and when I even thought I go quit thinking– I was working with a client and they had 12 things on their core principles within their organization, and I went can we just find out what your top three are, focus on those, and we’ll keep these others out there. But your people aren’t going to remember all 12, and they’ve had this up there for about 10 years and then I took the liberty of proposing – I didn’t check with the client beforehand – and they actually took me up on it. And we spent some time figuring out what the top three were, and they were making changes along those lines. So yes there is a lot to be to be said about the power of threes.

Roxanne: [00:44:29] Outstanding. Love it.

Peter: [00:44:31] Well Roxanne I can’t thank you enough. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from our conversation and I know my audience will take away a lot of… you’ve left so many nuggets out there for them to harvest and apply, and I would suggest to my audience to find Roxanne on the web. Connect with her and learn more about how she could help you. So thank you so very much for your time.

Roxanne: [00:45:00] Thank you. This has been just a great time. I love chatting with you and thanks again. Thank you so much. Been a real privilege and honor. I appreciate it.

Peter: [00:45:08] Oh you’re more than welcome.

Peter: [00:45:13] I would like to thank again Roxanne for being a guest today and sharing her insights into leadership and how we can become stronger leaders. You can find Roxanne’s book, Never Wear Red: A Leadership Love Story, on Amazon.com. I’d like to talk about Listen, Learn, and Earn. I have partnered with the Maryland Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute to bring an exciting new learning opportunity for accounting professionals to earn CPE credits. You can earn up to one CPE credit for each completed podcast episode purchased for only $29 through the American Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute self-study website. The podcast episodes are mobile friendly. Open your browser on your smartphone, tablet, or computer, Go to the MACPA and BLI self-study account, and listen to an episode. Take the review and final exam while you’re working out or after listening to an episode on your commute to and from work – It’s that easy! While all Improv is no Joke podcasts are available on my website, only those purchased through the MACPA and BLI self-study Web site are eligible for CPE credit. You can get detailed instructions by visiting my website at www.PeterMargaritis.com and clicking on the graphic “Improv is no Joke for CPE credit” on my home page. Remember you can subscribe to my podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. If you’d like to purchase an autographed copy of my book Improv is no Joke: Using Improvisation to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life, for $14.99 with free shipping, please go to my website, PeterMargaritis.com, and you’ll see the graphic on the homepage to purchase my book. Please allow 14 days for shipping. You can also follow me on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. Remember to use the principles of improvisation to help you become a stronger leader.

Production & Development for Improv Is No Joke by Podcast Masters

Ep. 59 – Karl Ahlrichs | Storm Clouds & Silver Linings: The Future of HR (and a Coffee Table Book)

 

Today’s returning guest, Karl Ahlrichs, is a human capitalist consultant and a far-thinking and future-planning individual. Back in episode five, we discussed some of the storms he sees coming on the horizon, particularly where HR and the next generations of employees meet. In this episode, we once again look to the future of human resources.

Although our current economy is far greater now than it’s been in a while, Karl sees quite a few potential problems on the horizon that we need to be better prepared to tackle, in addition to some opportunities.

What’s are the big things on the horizon for employees and HR?

Workers in the U.S. are very productive, and that’s what keeps our stock market alive. The volume of people working isn’t changing very much, but the volume of what we’re producing continues to climb because we’re leveraging technology and new processes.

    • The scary thing is that it’s not going to be applied to every industry (e.g. coal industry is in trouble, but natural gas is booming).
    • We’re going to see middle management jobs get automated and disappear.
    • If you’re working in a job that could be automated, you need to start looking for a way to get client- or customer-facing.

We are getting away from age segregation in the generations, which is great because there’s been way too much millennial bashing.

We need to develop better emotional intelligence, which means developing critical thinking skills, maturity, wisdom, and the communication skills necessary to speak to different kinds of people.

We have to look at how young people want to learn and realize that everybody wants to learn that way. We have to gamify how we teach the core skills described above. If you make it a game, make it competitive, and get them engaged, you’ll move the needle of learning. Below you can view a video of Karl explaining this process.

Big data is coming in a big way. With the power of algorithms coming and the power of all of this data that we’ve been gathering, we can now start drilling into it. We’re able now to predict what happens next, instead of tracking what happened last week.

  • For example, synd.io is an application that, in three dimensions, maps the actual network, of your organization. You get to look at your organization – live data, real data, real time – and you can look at it like a nest of people from three dimensions. You can turn it and twist it to figure out who’s important and who isn’t. You can figure out who your key employees are.

The one thing that people need to do this year to overcome all of the storm clouds on the horizon is listen to your high performing employees. You have to keep your top talent, and the easiest way to do that is to at least appear to listen to them (which goes back to developing emotional intelligence).

Karl also recently put out a very interesting art project: a limited run of handmade and letterpressed books containing his own poetry and photography. It’s called Spaces Between Places, and it’s central theme is the loneliness of business travel. Check spacesbetweenplaces.net for news about future distribution.

Download this Episode MP3.

Resources:

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Karl: [00:00:00] In general we need to be better communicators and communication is a skill you can never be too good at.

[music]

Peter: [00:00:14] Welcome to improv is no joke podcast. It’s all about becoming a more effective communicator by embracing the principles of improvisation. I’m your host Peter Margarita’s the self-proclaimed chief edutainment officer of my business the accidental account. My goal is to provide you with thought provoking interviews with business leaders so you can become an effective improviser which will lead to building stronger relationships with clients customers colleagues and even your family. So let’s start to show.

[music

Peter: [00:00:46] Welcome to episode number 59. And today my guest is Karl Ahlrichs, who’s making a second appearance on the podcast. Karl is a human capitalist consultant and a far-thinking and future-planning individual. I interviewed Karl back in episode number five last July where we discussed some of the storms he sees coming on the horizon, particularly where HR and the next generations of employees meet. Even though our current economy is far greater now than it’s been in a while, Karl sees quite a few potential problems on the horizons that we need to be better prepared to tackle. We revisit that discussion and then take another look out into the current horizon to see what challenges we will be facing. Before we get to the interview, I’d like to talk about Listen, learn, and learn. I have partnered with the Maryland Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute to bring an exciting new learning opportunity for accounting professionals to earn CPE credits. You can earn up to one CPE credit for each completed podcast episode purchased for only $29 through the American Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute self-study website. The podcast episodes are mobile friendly. Open your browser on your smartphone, tablet, or computer, Go to the MACPA and BLI self-study account, and listen to an episode. Take the review and final exam while you’re working out or after listening to an episode on your commute to and from work – It’s that easy! While all Improv is no Joke podcasts are available on my website, only those purchased through the MACPA and BLI self-study Web site are eligible for CPE credit. You can get detailed instructions by visiting my website at www.PeterMargaritis.com and clicking on the graphic “Improv is no Joke for CPE credit” on my home page. OK now let’s get to the interview with Karl.

[music]

Peter: [00:03:01] Welcome back Karl. It’s great to have you back on the podcast. I can’t believe it’s been over a year since the last time we talked. And I know that you’ve just recently returned from the Society for Human Resource Management annual convention and I’m so looking forward to what storm clouds you see on the horizon because that’s where we that’s how we started our conversation a year ago. On those storm clouds.

Karl: [00:03:29] And actually if you go back year – First off thank you for having me back and I’m pleased that the statute of limitations has run out on some of what I said. But if you go back here and look at what I said I got it mostly right. I was pleased with that and I have uncovered a couple of things that I find kind of interesting about the next year. Let’s make this an annual thing.

Peter: [00:03:54] Of course.

Karl: [00:03:55] I want to let people know that globally the United States is very competitive in a couple of areas. One is productivity. They track how productive we are individually and compared to the rest of the world we’re killing on it. And it’s that productivity that’s kept our stock market alive, that’s kept our commerce going. And the volume of people working is holding steady. The volume of what we’re producing continues to climb. That’s because we’re leveraging technology and that’s because we’re changing how we do it. And there’s a couple of big changes coming on the horizon that might leverage that even further. But the scary thing is going to be it’s not applied to every industry. If you’re working in the coal industry it’s not so hot. If you’re working in natural gas exploration, you are busy. If you’re working in a job that could be automated… You need to start looking for a way to get client-facing, customer-facing, because a lot of the mid level positions… you know there’s the customer facing stuff and there’s a middle management and then there’s upper level. We’re going to see that middle getting so automated that those positions are going to go away.

Peter: [00:05:18] Yeah.

Karl: [00:05:18] So there’s a couple trends that are within. One is that it was interesting at this conference… everybody was rolling your eyes and they are tired of hearing about millennials. They are tired of hearing about generational horse hockey. And it’s kind of interesting. We’re starting to see people putting different ways of classifying people on the road map. For instance, instead of just pigeonholing people based on how old they are. When were they born. People are recognizing that there’s lots of different ways to bifurcate a crowd – to split a crowd into two. For instance, there’s a lot of attention being placed on people who are technically savvy and people who are digital immigrants, where they do tech but they do it with a heavy accent and they’re not comfortable with it. And that’s not age specific. I met several people at this conference who were in their 70s and were fully digital and connected and people who were in their 30s and were clinging to their Blackberries and hoping they wouldn’t have to learn another operating system. So look for a lot of the generational stuff too. I’m not saying run out of steam. I think we’re going to see more accurate ways to classify workers based on things other than purely when they were born. And there’s a lot of things driving this. One is just the maturity of our wisdom. Where we had been painting with broad brush strokes, Now we’ve been through two or three iterations of that and we’re seeing ways that we can classify people that are not just purely age related. Second because we had painted with such broad brush strokes. There’s a lot of people who pushed back on that with accuracy and said hey you know I’m not that way. So look for more language about how groups can be found inside the workforce. And they’re going to be groups that are based on diversity and inclusion, where you’ve had a common upbringing that does affect that. But also you know anybody that’s come from a family of two or more you look around and realize that your brothers and sisters all essentially have the same cultural upbringing that you did. But you’re so radically different because of the genetics involved – the wiring of the brain. The the nature versus nurture argument, and that nature has about half to do with this. And so a trend that’s going to happen is we’re going to see new technologies being applied to this in the sense that we’re going to see better and more continuous assessment of who we are. Assessment on the way in and talent management, where people are going to get screened. And there’s going to be pre-high or assessments that help guide us into a better job fit. But then there’s also going to be ongoing assessment and coaching. That’s not the old annual performance review. Within the accounting profession, Look at the work that Deloitte has been doing on moving away from annual performance reviews. We’re going to see more of this.

Peter: [00:08:52] Yaaaay.

Karl: [00:08:52] Oh yeah. But this requires people to be good at coaching and good at listening. Well good news: Most people in accounting finance are good listeners because they’re introverts. The bad news they don’t want to be go.

Peter: [00:09:07] Bingo.

Karl: [00:09:07] And so that’s going to have to change. How am I doing so far? These interesting things to you? I don’t want to bore you.

Peter: [00:09:15] Oh you never bore me Karl. And actually I applaud the fact that we are getting away from age segregation in the generations because I think there’s been way too much millennial bashing. And actually you addressed this last year about the digital natives and the tech savvy individuals. And I just said – I was at a client yesterday and there was a little bit of millennial bashing going on. And I actually used your words and I’ve been using your words a lot as relates to this. Really you know we have a lot more in common but where the big differences are, and I brought up your point, and I got a look of what are you talking about Willis? But after I explained explained it and the way that you put it, I saw the aha moment. And what’s really fun to watch that for the first time that aha moment like well you know you might be right about that. So I’m glad that you brought it back up to start to podcast because I think it needs to stay in the forefront of people’s minds.

Karl: [00:10:23] Well and these are times where people want things to be simple. I think there’s information overload out there and people just want a simple way to categorize. Don’t get fancy with me. And it’s a time where I’m pushing back and saying no we all really need to sharpen our critical thinking skills and we need to sharpen our conflict management skills. We need to get better at getting along with each other. Have you been paying attention to Washington D.C. lately?

Peter: [00:10:52] Yes I have been. Actually I’ll even throw in another piece. We also need to have the emotional intelligence aspect of it as well, which Washington doesn’t have a lot of that right now.

Karl: [00:11:06] Right. Well it’s simple… to have good critical thinking skills and to have good personal maturity and to have both knowledge and wisdom. And by the way those are the ways I describe what do you mean by emotional intelligence. That’s what I mean: critical thinking skills, maturity, wisdom, and having the communication skills to be bilingual to different kinds of people, or trilingual. That takes some willingness to be adaptable and flexible. It takes personal maturity and that’s tough to come by these days. One of the things that I am spending my time: I’m getting into junior high schools and I’m volunteering to teach critical thinking, to teach ethics, to teach some of these baseline fundamental skills into the 11 12 13 14 year olds because we have a chance of making a big impact – good positive impact on our nation – If we can upscale our youngins in all of these issues that we’re we’re seeing sadly lacking in our leadership today.

Peter: [00:12:21] So how do you teach these critical thinking skills to young adults as well as to older adults?

Karl: [00:12:31] Let’s agree we all have six second attention spans.

Peter: [00:12:34] What did you say?

Karl: [00:12:36] [laughs] Let me give you the punchline first.

Peter: [00:12:43] OK.

Karl: [00:12:44] We have to look at how young people want to learn and realize that everybody wants to learn that way. We have to gameify how we teach these core skills. We have to make it engaging and make it competitive and make it a game. So two days ago I taught critical thinking to a roomful of adults and halfway through it, after giving them the theory, I gave them what is called an inbox exercise, where it’s a game where they are handed the contents of a fictitious person’s inbox in a crisis in an organization, and this inboxes… I mean imagine your inbox. I can see it behind you on the table. There’s a pile of stuff. Some very important some is just fluff. They are then given a task and you have an hour: sort this, prioritize it, figure out with the big picture issues are, and in an hour I want a three bullet point list of what you’re going to do first what you’re going to do second what you’re going to do third And why. And to achieve that you have to use your critical thinking skills, and it’s competitive. And I have a big prize here of a… I was giving out a nice technology gizmo. And second prize was a set of steak knives.

Peter: [00:14:12] [laughs]

Karl: [00:14:12] And man. They were on it. This was a game that was competitive and they all wanted to win the little techno gizmo I had. The room got quiet and the thinking started. And boy… I had taught them I’d given them some little layers of wisdom and now they were practicing it in a game environment that was real. The Inbox exercise was real and it was language that was real. It was a situation that was real. It applied to their lives, and afterwards in evaluations they pointed to that game and said “All training should have this.” So answer to your question: gamify it, make it a game, make it competitive, get them engaged, and you’ll move the needle of learning.

Peter: [00:15:03] So we’ve been talking a gamification in training and development and education for a long time. Listening to how you just described what you did… I think we’ve been trying to make it harder than it is. I think we’ve been trying to computerize it, and I think we’ve been trying to–

Karl: [00:15:23] Yeah this was on paper.

Peter: [00:15:24] Went old school and went simple. But to your point, we don’t want complex anymore, we want simple, but we also have to make it interactive and engaging – and I’ll take this even to education right now in the high schools and junior high. We’re still teaching the same way we did in the 30s and the 40s and 50s.

Karl: [00:15:42] 1830s, 1730s.

Peter: [00:15:45] There’s very little gamification in high schools and junior high elementary school. But that’s how this new generation learns.

Karl: [00:15:57] Well let me give you… Can I give you a new and additional example that will reinforce… it will agree with what you just said.

Peter: [00:16:04] I like that then. Yes.

Karl: [00:16:06] OK. You’ll like it because it agrees with you.

Peter: [00:16:08] Exactly because it’s all about me right.

Karl: [00:16:10] Mr. Margaritis, you’re part of the problem, not the solution. We took 15 high school kids from an inner city school and taught them the principles of insurance in 45 minutes, And preparation for being adults. They had to learn what deductibles were, what premiums were, what the concept of risk transfer was, the idea that that you can join a pool and have people share the risk and if there’s a loss you’re made whole, and covered both from a commercial insurance standpoint, from an auto insurance standpoint, and from a health insurance standpoint. We had 45 minutes to do it.

Peter: [00:16:51] Wow.

Karl: [00:16:52] What we did was we gave them a pile of… each of them got $10000 of Monopoly money. They got a set of three scenarios. They were given one at a time and they could make decision. They had a range of decisions. You are a business owner and you have a convenience store and you can buy insurance for your store. You have three levels you can buy. You can choose to self-insure and take all the risk yourself. You can choose to partially insure and insure just the building but not the liability. If something bad happens. Or you can completely insure. These cost different amounts. If you want to save all your money you can self-insure and hope nothing happens. See how this works? So they all make their choices and then we have – you’ve Seen those carnival wheels? You spin them like a barker wheel.

Peter: [00:17:48] Yeah.

Karl: [00:17:48] Like Wheel of Fortune.

Peter: [00:17:49] Yeah.

Karl: [00:17:49] Well I have one. And so then when everybody is committed to their risk decision.

Peter: [00:17:57] Uh huh.

Karl: [00:17:57] We would spin what we call the wheel of misfortune, and half the time nothing happened. And half the time bad things happened. And if you chose to self-insure and a bad thing happened, you were bankrupt and you could no longer play the game. You were out. And if you made a proper level of insurance then you were made a hole and you kept your money. You didn’t get your premium back but your losses were covered. So we did that for commercial insurance, We did that for your homeowners and we did that for health care. You know we spun it oh you got a broken leg. At the end of the three spins, whoever had the most money – who had made the good risk decisions and fortune had smiled – The people with the most money were first in line for the pizza.

Peter: [00:18:51] Ahhhhh.

Karl: [00:18:52] Man. Now again, All I had was a carnival wheel and some sheets of paper.

Peter: [00:18:58] Simple is better. I think we have tried to make it a lot harder than it should have been because I remember five or six years ago, at the see AICPA level, they put together a task force on learning and they were going to do gamification. And it was this high tech… they were looking at computerization and and it never went anywhere because I do I think they make it harder than it really should be. They were way too complex.

Karl: [00:19:30] By the way, if any of — if either of your listeners.

Peter: [00:19:34] My mother and…

Karl: [00:19:36] Right, Me. Would like to see a short video clip that I shot of the insurance training exercise, I shot a video clip. I can email it to you and you put it up on your website.

Peter: [00:19:51] Please do that. I’ll put it in show notes. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes and I think people would like would like to see that.

Karl: [00:19:59] I mean it’s just me on a smartphone.

Peter: [00:20:02] But but you do wonders on a smartphone. So don’t sell yourself short on your smartphone.

Karl: [00:20:07] Hey, I’m an artist. Don’t you forget.

Peter: [00:20:09] Yes and we will talk about your book when we close our our our interview. But you also mentioned something in this conversation about ethics.

Karl: [00:20:19] Oh yeah.

Peter: [00:20:19] Have you gamified ethics?

Karl: [00:20:22] That’s next. I was thinking of that yesterday. I did an eight hour ethics in industry class, and I gamified it in the sense that we did some case studies where I threw out here’s the situation and threw it open to the class for how do we solve this. It triggered a good facilitated discussion. I want to take it to the next level and actually do like the wheel of misfortune. The concept where we could have a case where people make an ethical decision and then we spin to see what additional offense happened to complicate the ethical decision because a big thing with ethics is it’s never simple. There’s always a lot of layers in it where it’s not just that you have an idea that somebody is embezzling. It’s that the person who you’re concerned who’s doing the double billing is the nephew of the owner that you report. So that changes the game or that the… you know you think bribes are being made but you’re selling into a nation where the ethical standards of bribery are different. Do you want to get your shipping container delivered in Haiti? Because if you’re doing it through American standards it’s not going to happen. See what I’m saying? Ethics are so complex. I’ve been trying to figure out how to gamify it and I haven’t figured it out yet.

Peter: [00:22:02] I think you’re on to something. My question is can you take real world events – like Wells Fargo, like insider trading – and take those real life case studies and use that as the basis and gamify it.

Karl: [00:22:21] I think so. And also realize that with many ethical situations what you’ve got is a mix of somebody having a need and somebody having an opportunity and somebody not being properly trained, and maybe the gamification part of it can be that the variables of the opportunity shift. Where you know just a random chance that oh here’s a wallet and it has a thousand dollars in it. Suddenly there’s an opportunity. And then it also pops up that your child is ill and you have no money for a doctor. Does that change what you do with a wallet?

Peter: [00:23:02] Right. I used one sort of scenario that you’re the CEO of an organization and you’re senior vice president comes to you – and you know that his child is very ill – and comes to you and says I’m out of money. There’s a special treatment that they’re going to try but it’s going to cost a half a million dollars. Can the business loan it to me?

Karl: [00:23:28] And it is loan in air quotes?

Peter: [00:23:31] No. I will try to pay it back but I need a half million. But our policy states that our organization does not loan money to its employees. But I know you and I know your child and I know that you really need this help. Do I as an organization give you this money to help your child or do I stick to policy? And if I do give you this money what slippery slope does that open up? A lot of great conversations come out of that because, to your point, there’s many layers in there and that is not easy.

Karl: [00:24:09] I like this. I don’t think anybody’s got a great game of ethics and we need to do that.

Peter: [00:24:15] I think you’re right. I think that current ethics training in the accounting profession needs to be more real world, needs to be more gamified.

Karl: [00:24:23] Needs to be more entertaining and engaging.

Peter: [00:24:27] Exactly. I will give you a quote that was recently given to me. I was getting ready to do ethics program for an accounting firm. I went to the partner and explained that you know you’ve got me here for four hours however, in CPE time, it’s really three and a half. Now I can stay the whole four. But you tell me what you want me to do. Because I’ll make sure that you get your 200 minutes here. And his quote to me was I think my people are more concerned about the hours than the ethics.

Karl: [00:25:01] Wow. He was being transparent.

Peter: [00:25:04] He was. Hopefully I didn’t have that oh crap look at my face and the look of shock at the time, and I just kind of went I better get ready to start the class.

Karl: [00:25:17] Amazing.

Peter: [00:25:17] I didn’t know what…. exactly.

Karl: [00:25:21] I had something really cool happened with my 8 hour class on ethics yesterday. It was a room full of grizzled veterans who were just there to do their expense reports while I was in the front of the room. And I called them out on that. But there was a woman who had just been certified as a CPA. She passed passed the exam. This was her first ethics training class.

Peter: [00:25:50] Okay.

Karl: [00:25:50] That added a new dimension where everybody wanted to… you know it was like oh OK we’ve got we’ve got a newbie in our midst. What should we tell her? And that was fascinating. That was an interesting part of the exercise.

Peter: [00:26:06] What did they tell her?

Karl: [00:26:08] It was interesting. It started slow but the punchline to what they told her was that these were the most important classes she would ever take. That the real core of the profession was the fact that we as a profession are the flag holders – the foundation business people for ethics. We are the standard bearers for ethics. And it was really nice to hear that coming from people in different ways.

Peter: [00:26:35] Yeah. That is good. That’s a great way to introduce someone to the profession and to the ethics side of it. Back to the point of we’ve got to make it more interesting, we’ve got to make it more engaging.

Karl: [00:26:48] What I also did was I went on to YouTube and found interviews with failed CFOs who had done prison time for crashing their company.

Peter: [00:27:00] Oh.

Karl: [00:27:01] And played those videos and then threw it open for discussion of what have we learned.

Peter: [00:27:08] That’s… so what CFOs did you find on YouTube?

Karl: [00:27:15] The guy that crashed WorldCom health source.

Peter: [00:27:19] Oh yeah yeah yeah.

Karl: [00:27:21] The guy who worked with Richard Scrushy. And the interesting thing was the story he told – it was a one hour briefing. We listened to about 30 minutes of it – Richard Scrushy, the president that got him to do it.

Peter: [00:27:32] Yeah.

Karl: [00:27:33] You know the CFO did time.

Peter: [00:27:35] Right.

Karl: [00:27:36] The CEO got off.

Peter: [00:27:40] Yeah!

Karl: [00:27:41] It was great because when people got on their Google in the class and look up the CEO’s current bio and were incensed that he had written a book and was on the speaking circuit talking about ethics and this is wrong.

Peter: [00:27:56] But never admitted to anything.

Karl: [00:27:57] Exactly.

Peter: [00:27:59] Wow. I’m going to find those. But that’s that’s another good way to do this.

Karl: [00:28:04] Also people really respond to video.

Peter: [00:28:11] Yes.

Karl: [00:28:12] Imagine if this podcast showed you in your rumpled blue shirt and the wreckage of your office strewn around you.

Peter: [00:28:20] Yes.

Karl: [00:28:21] That it would add a new layer of… You have a face for television.

Peter: [00:28:26] I know it’s for radio but thank you.

Karl: [00:28:31] Hey, can we get back to my scary things on the horizon?

Peter: [00:28:35] Yes. What’s scary out there?

Karl: [00:28:38] I want to get back to things I learned at the Human Resources conference that people ought to be at least aware of. We covered that age isn’t it. We covered that gamification is coming. We covered that personal development and performance reviews are completely shifting in how they’re being done. Another big thing that was popping up is big data. With the power of algorithms coming and the power of all of this data that we’ve been gathering, We can now start drilling into it. We’re able now to predict what happens next, Instead of tracking what happened last week. There’s new resources out there. Look for huge amounts of new opportunities to use big data to be more effective. Let me give you an example. I stumbled across a company called synd.io. You’ve got an organization. You have a theoretical grid like organization chart. You know little boxes and lines. But that’s not the real thing. You use synd.io… so everybody gets a quiz on their smartphone and it says Who are you working with? who do you talk to any given week? On this project, Who’s in the project? Who do you talk to in your organization? Who do you interact with? And you you you enter that data on this mobile app and synd.io would allow… Let’s say you’re the manager trying to figure out job assignments and what’s up and what’s not. synd.io, in three dimensions, maps the network, the actual network, of your organization. All the hidden lines, all the people that like you didn’t know that the guy in charge of the mailroom is also working on two of your more leading projects because they happen to have some technology knowledge because of their role in the mailroom, and you didn’t know that. And so the output from synd.io is you get to look at your organization – live data, real data, real time – and you can look at it like a nest of people from three dimensions and you can turn it twist it figure out oh who’s important and who isn’t. You can figure out who your key employees are.

Peter: [00:31:09] Interesting!

Karl: [00:31:10] Yeah. And it’s not a lot of money, but hey I just wanted to give you that this is an example of a big data application to meet the need of… You’ve got a 100 percent firm and you wish you can figure out who the most important people are. Well this will be a quick way to figure out who the most connected ones are and who is being ignored. Who’s hiding? A lot of times low performers like to get off under a rock and hide. This would uncover Who is hiding.

Peter: [00:31:42] I’ll assume that also would help in defining who those high performers really are.

Karl: [00:31:48] Yeah, or the most valuable.

Peter: [00:31:52] So I’m trying to get my mind wrapped around an app concept of basically mapping out my organizational chart in a way that I can look on my smartphone and be able to look at the data and make decisions from that from an organization standpoint.

Karl: [00:32:13] Yeah, go look at that one. I mean it’s just one example. It’s just a quick example of how big data could be used because I want everybody to be comfortable that big data… Good news: It’s a lot of information. Bad news: It’s a lot of information. And I think these people have done a good job of making a lot of data simple.

Peter: [00:32:36] So at the conference because I’m thinking about the timing of it had Amazon announced its desire to purchase whole foods at the time You were at the conference?

Karl: [00:32:47] Yeah.

Peter: [00:32:48] What was the scuttlebutt going on about that, or was there any scuttlebutt going on about that?

Karl: [00:32:53] People were puzzled by it. I mean people are at the point where they just kind of shrug and say OK, and if you ask – I have asked – if you ask in your circles how many people have their groceries delivered… 10 to 20 percent of my friends are saying yes, and it’s interesting. Some of the unintended outcomes from that they are reporting that their pantry is filled with healthier foods now because they’re not making impulse buys look at this. Keebler cookies are two for one. No they’re sticking to their list and they’re buying the avocados and salads… so you know it’s producing a healthier product mix.

Peter: [00:33:41] And I think, either yesterday or today, blue apron – who is one of these delivery grocery type of things – went public. But back to big data and Amazon and whole foods, one they haven’t announced what they’re going to do, which is why everybody’s buzzing around. But when I think of big data I think you know what’s Amazon’s… Will there still be brick and mortar grocery stores, However there will be less people who are working there? Maybe stocking the shelves. But when you pick up a loaf of bread or you pick something up, there’s some data attached to that to your profile and then just continually gathering your shopping habits.

Karl: [00:34:24] I mean one of my grocery clients, for instance, they they know based on their big data that, if an unaccompanied male comes into their store after noon on Friday and before midnight on Friday and they purchased diapers, there’s a high likelihood they will also purchase what?

Peter: [00:34:49] Wipes.

Karl: [00:34:51] Beer.

Peter: [00:34:51] I was going to say it but I didn’t.

Karl: [00:34:52] Yeah I’m reading your mind. He has the kids for the weekend.

Peter: [00:35:00] Ohhhh. I didn’t… OK.

Karl: [00:35:02] So therefore the grocery store, at Friday at noon, builds an end cap of what in the diaper aisle?

Peter: [00:35:11] Beer.

Karl: [00:35:13] Yes. And they strike that Friday at midnight and replace it with hand lotion because the Saturday shopper who is buying diapers is the mom.

Peter: [00:35:25] Interesting.

Karl: [00:35:26] I mean retail has been working on this for decades. But I mean as I’m going through my local grocery store there are people with the grocery store logo on their shirts pushing carts through with an iPad checking off and picking for people who are either going to pull up front grab it or it’s going to get delivered to them. This is changing our world.

Peter: [00:35:54] Very much so, and in so many different ways. As someone once said, be careful what you Google because you will get those ads a lot. So if you’re out on Amazon and you surfing for diapers…

Karl: [00:36:10] Yeah I needed a specific computer part about a month ago and googled that are just to see where I can buy it. It’s been haunting me ever since. The one thing that all people need to be doing is listen to their high performing employees. I keep getting this from all of my clients. I keep getting this from all of my friends who are high performers who are frustrated. Right now, high performers can get a job in two weeks and not have to update their resume because of LinkedIn. It’s interesting that the management style of high performers has been incorrect in the last four or five years, where supervisors and managers have been misinterpreting their role and have been spending their time with the low performers trying to get them upskilled, and have been leaving high performers alone. They have been letting them… they’ve not been wanting to micromanage them they say. They’re doing fine. Let’s just give them room. Well they’re forgetting that high performers have a real hunger for a good relationship with their boss. And if you want to take one thing away from an HR thing, and this was kind of an HR talk today, and the one thing that people need to do this year to overcome all of the storm clouds on the horizon – what you have to do is keep your good people, and the one silver bullet thing you can do right now to keep good people is to appear to listen to them. To know they are, to if an a cat person or a dog person or a Chevy person or a foreign person, and know what their goals are and if they want to become a programmer and you can help them with that. Without that relationship, in the next year and you’re going to lose your good people. So there’s an excellent book out there, Susan Kane wrote it, called Quiet, and it focuses on the introverted leadership style and the power of listening. I’m an extrovert. I hate listening. That’s why I’m so focused on this.

Peter: [00:38:23] I know you I’ve known you for a while so I would say I don’t think that you hate listening. I think I always thought that you’re a good listener.

Karl: [00:38:30] No no no. I have learned to appear to listen.

Peter: [00:38:33] Oh ok.

Karl: [00:38:34] I have two modes. Im either talking or I’m waiting for you to stop. Did you notice at the start of this podcast I did like an uninterrupted 15 minute monologue where I barely breathe.

Peter: [00:38:43] I know I did see that.

Karl: [00:38:45] Then I was like Wait a minute hold it peters out there.

Peter: [00:38:46] That’s the extroverted style. But we all need to be better listeners. It’s a skill that needs to be redeveloped again.

Karl: [00:39:00] In general we need to be better communicators, and communication is to never be too good.

Peter: [00:39:05] Well as I like to say, they call it a soft skill but it’s awful hard to master.

Karl: [00:39:10] Ha ha ha.

Peter: [00:39:14] So pay attention to your high performers. From an HR perspective, answer this question for me: if we’re supposed to be paying attention to our high performers but we are paying more attention to low performers, those low performers should be out the door, Correct?

Karl: [00:39:28] Or at least in a better seat on the train.

Peter: [00:39:32] Like in the back of the train or.

Karl: [00:39:34] Well or a job that fits them.

Peter: [00:39:36] Because they might not be in the right job.

Karl: [00:39:38] Or they’re not a fit for their job.

Peter: [00:39:42] For the job they need to be doing something else. But, from an HR perspective, why do we hire fast and fire slow when it should be the other way around?

Karl: [00:39:50] Because we aren’t trained well in hiring, because we aren’t comfortable with it. We just want to get the warm body in there so we can get back to our real job. Most organizations don’t have somebody dedicated to hiring. It’s managers stepping in to do it and they’re not trained to do it. They don’t like to do it. They want to get back to the real job.

Peter: [00:40:13] And they’re just not good at it. Well some are really good at it but most people are uncomfortable having to let somebody go.

Karl: [00:40:24] The failure rate of hiring… you can set aside all the fancy interviewing and just do a coin flip and be statistically better.

Peter: [00:40:33] [laughs] And that’s coming from a human resource professional.

Karl: [00:40:38] Hey, next time you get somebody stand you up and you want to podcast, let’s talk about hiring.

Peter: [00:40:42] OK.

Karl: [00:40:44] I’m in.

Peter: [00:40:44] I will have you back in a heartbeat because that would be a fun conversation on just hiring.

Karl: [00:40:51] Oh there’s a whole lot of things going on in that.

Peter: [00:40:53] Yes. I want just tell tell people what you did. I’ve got a copy of it. Thank you so very much.

Karl: [00:41:00] It’s rare.

Peter: [00:41:02] It is. It really is rare. I love it. My wife is going that’s Karl? I’ve never met him but… Karl? I’m like yeah. And that picture that you took when I was in Indy, with the reflection. She goes he’s… she can’t figure out which is fun to watch.

Karl: [00:41:23] It’s the therapy talking. Let me jump to the punch line and work backwards from there. A class project of publishing and literature senior class at Ball State University hand produced a beautiful art book, a coffee table book, of photographs and poetry themed on the loneliness of business travel. Not the pictures of the destination but pictures of being in transit because, as a business consultant, I’m spending time in airports and shuttle buses and hotel lobbies and hotel rooms. And so you know we’re all observant of the world around us. And I have always had a camera. And so I gave myself the assignment to document the world of business travel and, as this book shows, the title of the book is called Spaces Between Places. Business travel is lonely. There’s crowds of people all traveling alone. And the message is that you know in all of this dehumanizing environment of shuttle buses and hotel rooms and hotel lobbies and airport lobbies that we all really fight to stay human. And it’s 100 pictures. It’s about 20 haiku. For those of you, haiku is a non rhyming form of Japanese poetry with the structure of a five syllable seven syllables five syllables. Here’s the most recent one that I wrote: anxious upgrade line \ All are platinum status \ So nobody is.

Peter: [00:43:08] Hahaha.

Karl: [00:43:09] That’s brilliant! It’ll get published in more accessible form, but at the moment the class only made 60 copies. One was given to Mr. Margaritis. But everybody who has loved it. So I’m going to try and build a more accessible version of it and get it out there. The Web site will be spacesbetweenplaces.net and I’ll let you know. So that was that.

Peter: [00:43:35] And they hang around this.

Karl: [00:43:37] Oh it’s handmade. The one you have is a handmade book.

Peter: [00:43:40] It is very very impressive. And you’ve been sent in haikus out to a group of us forever.

Karl: [00:43:47] I’m here to entertain.

Peter: [00:43:48] Well you’re entertaining me and, actually, over the last few days you’ve been entertaining Pam Devine as well because she’s been to get a kick out of some of the stuff that you’ve been texting Jennifer and I.

Karl: [00:43:58] I can’t make stuff up. I mean last night flying out of Minneapolis. I was 56th on the upgrade line for first class and they had 12 seats.You just can’t make this stuff.

Peter: [00:44:11] No you just can’t.

Karl: [00:44:14] Back in steerage, I made my own first class.

Peter: [00:44:19] Well you’ve inspired me to do more with my iPhone when I travel, and a lot of different photographs that I’m beginning to take because you’ve inspired that creativity. So I thank you very much. And I know you’ve got to go. I Thank you for taking time out of your busy day.

Karl: [00:44:34] I would love for both of our listeners. Thank you for joining today. And I look forward to returning with more observations from the front.

Peter: [00:44:45] Exactly and the next time it’s going to be hiring. So thank you very much Karl. Greatly appreciate it. And we will be talking so.

Karl: [00:44:54] Great. Bye everybody.

Peter: [00:44:58] I would like to thank Karl again for being a guest today and sharing his visionary outlook on the workplace and providing us with valuable information to help us manage this uncertainty. I’d like to talk about Listen, Learn, and Earn. I have partnered with the Maryland Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute to bring an exciting new learning opportunity for accounting professionals to earn CPE credits. You can earn up to one CPE credit for each completed podcast episode purchased for only $29 through the American Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute self-study website. The podcast episodes are mobile friendly. Open your browser on your smartphone, tablet, or computer, Go to the MACPA and BLI self-study account, and listen to an episode. Take the review and final exam while you’re working out or after listening to an episode on your commute to and from work – It’s that easy! While all Improv is no Joke podcasts are available on my website, only those purchased through the MACPA and BLI self-study Web site are eligible for CPE credit. You can get detailed instructions by visiting my website at www.PeterMargaritis.com and clicking on the graphic “Improv is no Joke for CPE credit” on my home page. Remember you can subscribe to my podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. If you’d like to purchase an autographed copy of my book Improv is no Joke: Using Improvisation to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life, for $14.99 with free shipping, please go to my website, PeterMargaritis.com, and you’ll see the graphic on the homepage to purchase my book. Please allow 14 days for shipping. You can also follow me on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. Remember to use the principles of improvisation to help you better connect and communicate with those in your organization.

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