The Change Your Mindset Podcast

Welcome to the Change Your Mindset podcast, hosted by Peter Margaritis, CPA, AKA The Accidental Accountant. Peter is a speaker, expert in applied improvisation and author of the book 'Improv Is No Joke, Using Improvization to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life'. Peter's new book, Taking the Numb Our of Numbers: Explaining & Presenting Financial Information with Confidence and Clarity will be published in June 2018.

S3E15. Leadership in Hyperdrive: Powered by Improv™

Leadership and improv are not opposing forces—in fact, improv is a strategic component of good leadership. It’s been proven by science.

The key principle of improv is these two powerful words: “Yes, and.” These two words have many applications. It’s about pushing forward a conversation and exploring possibilities. It’s the opposite of “no,” “because,” or “yes, but,” because those are negative responses that invoke negative emotions and are used far too often in today’s corporate environment. They close off possibilities, while “Yes, and” opens them.

“Yes, and” is all about empathy. It forces questions or comments that help you better understand an issue the other person is experiencing from their point of view. This shows that you appreciate what other people have to say. How do you feel when you know someone is willing to listen to you instead of shutting you down by saying no?

There are times where “no” or “not now” are appropriate. If someone’s trying to push you into an unethical situation, the response should always be “no”— or something stronger. If you’re leaving a meeting and heading into another way when you get stopped, your answer should be, “This is not a good time for me. Let’s find some time where we can discuss this.” Most conversations within the workplace should explore the “yes, and” principle.

To demonstrate the power of “Yes, and,” you can run the “‘No, because,’ ‘yes, but,’ and ‘yes, and’” exercise.

  • One person pitches an idea to another and that person responds with “No, because…” and gives a reason. The other person then responds with “No, because…” and gives their reaction. Keep this going for 60 seconds.
  • Next, pitch the same idea and this time use “Yes, but…” instead of “No, because…” and do this for 60 seconds.
  • Now, pitch the same idea again and use “Yes, and” and keep the conversation going for 60 seconds.

After this exercise, describe the first confrontation. Then the second. Then the third. You will clearly see the different results.

Brainstorming solutions is another application of the “Yes, and” philosophy. Innovation requires two things: Creativity and effective application of that creativity. Finding the initial solution requires divergent thinking: The process of generating as many creative ideas as possible. To effectively apply creativity, we need to assess the quality of ideas that come through divergent thinking. Bad ideas are just bridges to good ideas, so don’t shut them down before they can be contributed. Keep idea generation and critique separate.

Leadership in Hyperdrive: Powered by Improv™ and the power of “Yes, and,” is a way of adapting to a changing landscape, becoming more creative and collaborative, and showing that you do appreciate the people that you work with by taking time to listen and show empathy to them. It will produce the most significant results for your business today and moving forward.

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S3E14. Making Marketing More Human with Jürgen Strauss

Is your marketing strategy centered around clicks, funnels, artificial intelligence, and driving traffic to your website? Shouldn’t marketing be more human-centric? Instead of funnels, maybe we can lead people on a journey. That’s what Jürgen Strauss, the founder and chief innovator of InnovaBiz, joins us to discuss. InnovaBiz is a marketing firm helping organizations by building visibility, professional authority, and connecting with their ideal clients. They work to turn your business into a client magnet by building and making the most of your marketing—making your marketing human again.

In this day and age, we have so many tools—automation, artificial intelligence, funnels—that people use to get traffic to a website. But that “traffic” isn’t just a number: it represents real people! And when those people arrive at our website, instead of approaching it as a “funnel,” why can’t we lead them on a journey? There are four main journeys:

  • People want to learn. They may visit your website for information on a topic, but that information may be enough for them to leave and take action.
  • If they don’t get enough from the learning but it does impress them, their next journey is starting a relationship with the business—potentially signing up to stay in contact with them.
  • The next journey is joining a community where the people in the business, as well as the other members of that community, provide information and interaction.
  • The fourth journey is to buy into the products or services that are on offer—but marketing does not cease here, either.

When a person arrives at your website, they will very quickly decide if it has the information that they came for. They will then look at all the factors—color, language, tone, design—to decide if this is a place that they belong in. If you can build your website with the customer experience in mind, you can ensure that it appeals to the right type of people. In the beginning, you may be desperate to make enough revenue to keep the business sustainable and take on whatever client you can, even if they’re the wrong type of customer. But you need to look at bringing on the customers who are a good fit for you.

How do we find our dream client? The best place to start from is to identify your favorite client who you currently work with (if you have one). What clients are so good that you’d probably work for them for free if they couldn’t pay you? Then you need to build up a deep understanding of what drives them, what their pains are, and where they want to be. Then you figure out how to “clone” that client. Use the language on your website that speaks directly to that client and people like them.

It all starts with understanding your audience. Be really clear why you are in business, what you do, and who your dream client is—and then obsess over those. Marketing is about human connection, not a transaction, and your role is to aid in the transformation of those clients and adding value to their lives.

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S3E13. Getting LEAN in Leadership with David Veech

Do you put the needs of your team before yours? Do you engage with them or just deliver orders? Do you encourage them to do their best in a non-threatening matter? Do you get mad and let it fester or get over it quickly?

David Veech joins us to discuss those questions and more. He’s had many different roles in life: infantry officer, husband, father, author, student, farmer, grandfather, and teacher. David now teaches organizations how to obliterate their obstacles, accelerate innovation, and elevate performance by teaching leaders how to love, learn, and let go. Leaders who apply his lessons achieve higher productivity, higher preferability, and higher professionalism as they build great workplaces.

David’s been a student of LEAN since 1991. LEAN manufacturing is a way to make every process in an organization more efficient. It’s about making things when they are needed and delivering them on time, instead of allowing inventory to pile up. Over five years working at the college of engineering, David started studying Toyota’s suggestion systems, quality circles, leadership development, their team structure—all of their people systems.

David put together a philosophical approach to what LEAN was for an organization, and a huge part of that is organization. The foundation that it builds off of is what David calls “dynamic stability.” How do you create an organization that has the stability to measure things, repeat performance, and build skills so that you can see when you’re doing things right—while also being ready to pivot immediately and stabilize as quickly as possible? The thing that matters most in this is a leader’s mindset.

Leaders need to be able to share the way they think about their work with the organization. There are four key components in dynamic stability:

  • Leaders’ mindset
  • Build a learning organization
  • Put everybody in teams
  • Build trust

What are you going to do to change your mindset so you can adapt to a changing landscape using dynamic stability and its four key components? These skills are more essential today than ever before.

Resources:

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S3E12. How to Focus on Deep Work Without Distraction with Jake Kahana

Are you having trouble finding the time to focus on your most important work in order to move your business forward?

Jake Kahana is a designer, entrepreneur, and teacher — and he’s going to address the above issue. He’s the founder of Caveday, a company founded to maximize productivity for individuals and corporations to facilitate deep focus sessions and deep work training. Their global community has participated in over 10,000 hours of deep work “in the Cave.”

The Cave is a group of people (known as Cavedwellers) working on their most important work for a focused period of time — called a sprint. Cavedwellers start with the hardest things first, they monotask, and eliminate all distractions. It’s a fascinating process and it’s amazing how much important work you can get done during the allotted time frame.

In order to define focused work, it may be best to start with the opposite, something that we’re all likely more experienced with: shallow work. The average focus time at work is about 40 seconds at a time. Once things get difficult we open another tab on our browser, bouncing from task to task until suddenly we find ourselves on Amazon when we should be writing an email. Shallow work is reactive, trying to get work off your plate as it comes in. But when it comes to the kind of work that will make our days feel more productive and ultimately make our careers more rewarding, it requires deep work.

Deep work is focusing without distraction on a demanding task. We spend very little of our time doing that, but the more that we can prioritize the important work in our days and our lives, the better off we’ll be. The problem is that we don’t get the small, frequent bursts of rewards while we’re working on those big tasks. It requires a different kind of thinking, a different kind of motivation, and a different kind of structure for our work.

So how do we change our mindset and stop focusing on all the little things and instead focus on the things that are most important? Caveday offers facilitated deep work sessions where you can be around a group of people all doing their own deep work so that, when you get stuck, you can look up and see other people working hard and it helps keep you on track. It creates an environment where you let go of your distractions, establish a new set of rules, and share your wins, giving you that rush of dopamine that we normally get from accomplishing small tasks.

One of the secrets of Caveday is to trick our brains into entering a “flow state,” a level of extreme focus. There are three conditions to go into flow:

  • Defining the work that you are working on
  • Setting a range of time
  • Remove all distractions and monotask

We need to find time in our day to do deep work. How are you going to change your mindset and set aside an hour a week or more to do the important work and move your business forward faster? Will you become a Cavedweller, or will you attempt to do this on your own? Either way, we need to spend more time on deep focus and deep work without distraction.

Resources:

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S3E11. Leaving a Legacy You Are Proud Of with Ruben Minor

Do you want to inspire friends, family, and strangers for the greater good? What impact are you making on your community? How do you rise when you fail? How do you deal with change in an uncertain environment? How do you fill your time when there is no demand on your time? And do you know your personal why?

These questions and more will be discussed by Ruben Minor, the president of RAM Enterprises, an organization that focuses on speaking, training, and coaching individuals and groups regarding leadership, team dynamics, relationship building, fundamental business properties, discovering your personal why, and business and personal branding.

When you are doing what you are born to do, before the a-ha moment comes, you will look back and realize you had already been doing some of those things. Ruben was always the person who inspires others and lights up the room when he comes in. It wasn’t until his father passed away that he realized how important legacy is.

We have been knocked down hard lately. We may never return to the life that we have had pre-coronavirus, and we haven’t had time to grieve. But we’ve also been thrown into a world that we’re trying to adapt to.

How do we take where we are today, relish this moment, and make sure that we are changed for the better when this is all over? For one, you have to realize that things are going to be different. Don’t expect the world to go back to the way it was. There will be some things that return to a sense of normal, but our mindset — what we think and how we think about our life and the comforts that we fight for — is being challenged. 

So now what? It starts with changing your mindset.

Resources:

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