Leadership & Business Podcast

Ken WhiteLeadership & Business is an award-winning podcast series. It features the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. Each episode features subject matter experts discussing strategies, tactics and information to help you become a more effective leader, communicator and professional.

Launched in 2015, Leadership & Business is produced by William & Mary's Raymond A. Mason School of Business. Ken White, Associate Dean for MBA & Executive Programs and former award-winning broadcast journalist, hosts the podcast.

Additional Episodes

 

 Graham Henshaw
Graham HenshawEpisode 142: November 19, 2020
Escaping the COVID-19 Rut

Graham Henshaw

Episode 142: November 19, 2020

Escaping the COVID-19 Rut

It’s been eight months since COVID-19 began to change our world, and during that time some leaders, professionals, and organizations have been quite successful in launching new ventures, serving customers differently, and finding new sources of revenue. But for others, the pandemic has been more of a challenge. It’s stifled their creativity and their ability to move forward. The uncertainty and fear of the unknown have caused them to spin their wheels. Our guest today says if you are struggling, there are answers. He says entrepreneurs and the traits and mindsets that make up entrepreneurial thinking can serve as a guide to success during the pandemic. Graham Henshaw is the Executive Director of the Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center at William & Mary’s School of Business. He joins us today to discuss the elements of entrepreneurial thinking you can leverage during the pandemic. Elements like Opportunity/Discovery, tolerance for ambiguity, and improvisation.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • What makes entrepreneurs more equipped to thrive during a pandemic
  • What makes a good mindset of an entrepreneur
  • How does an entrepreneur learn their skills
  • What is entrepreneurial thinking
  • What elements of entrepreneurial thinking will help leaders navigate the pandemic
  • How important is it to be able to spot opportunities
  • The benefits of being able to make adjustments on the fly
  • What are the entrepreneurial benefits of collaboration
Transcript

Graham Henshaw: Escaping the COVID-19 Rut TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business, the podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that help make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host, Ken White. Thanks for listening. It's been eight months since covid-19 began to change our world. And during that time, some leaders, professionals, and organizations have been quite successful in launching new ventures, serving customers differently, and finding new sources of revenue. But for others, the pandemic has been more of a challenge. It's stifled their creativity and their ability to move forward. The uncertainty and fear of the unknown has caused them to spin their wheels. Well, our guest today says if you are struggling, there are answers. He says entrepreneurs and the traits and mindsets that make up entrepreneurial thinking can serve as a guide to success during the pandemic. Graham Henshaw is the Executive Director of the Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center at William & Mary's School of Business. He joins us on the podcast today to discuss the elements of entrepreneurial thinking you can leverage during the pandemic. Elements like opportunity, discovery, tolerance for ambiguity, and improvisation. Here's our conversation with Graham Henshaw.

Ken White

Well, Graham, great to see you. Thanks very much for sharing, sharing your time with us. Welcome back to the podcast.

Graham Henshaw

Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Ken White

Yeah, this is your second time. And so, yeah, you're in a special club. You know, we should have a plaque or a T-shirt or something.

Graham Henshaw

I'm waiting on the t-shirt.

Ken White

There you go. Yeah. Yeah. That's the you know, you're into something, right, when you've got a t-shirt for it.

Graham Henshaw

That's right.

Ken White

Yeah. You know, we're living in such an interesting time right now, and some people are just not getting it done. They feel stuck. On the other hand, entrepreneurs often positioned and thought of as people who can lead, who can function, create, and even thrive under pressure. Is that is that an accurate statement in your mind?

Graham Henshaw

I think it is in my experience. I've observed that. And I think I'd probably expand a little bit on the this notion of pressure. And I think that comes from being in situations where you can't reliably predict the outcome. And I think we're in that kind of situation right now. And these are where the past offers very little predictive certainty about the future. And often, entrepreneurs are just the people who thrive under those conditions where other people actually find themselves anxious. An entrepreneur actually might gravitate to that situation where the outcome is actually unknown. So, yeah, I do think that's accurate.

Ken White

Are they born with that ability? Is it learned? How do they get there?

Graham Henshaw

That's an interesting question. There's been a lot of debate on that over the years. That turns out it's a little bit of both. So there are aspects of the entrepreneurial mindset that seem like they're built-in. And then there are others that are shown to be skills, and you can learn those. And so, as with any skill, if you practice it, you get a little bit better at it over time. But what the really interesting thing is about the mindset is even though you can't move the needle so much on the mindsets, if you just become aware of your mindset, for example, risk acceptance is one of those mindsets. There's not much you can do to move the needle on risk acceptance. But if you know where you stand on risk acceptance and you encounter a situation that kind of pegs your meter where it's at, then you can change your behavior in that situation, you can come up with mitigating practices to get around that. So maybe when you encounter that situation, you know, I've got a call, Ken. Ken has a really high-risk tolerance. So he's going to help me get through this, or you have a checklist or something like that. So the awareness on the mindset side can really be a big help as well. So it's a little bit of both.

Ken White

Yeah, interesting. Well, you in the Miller Center for Entrepreneurship? You focus a great deal on entrepreneurial thinking, which is a little bit different. Can you explain that?

Graham Henshaw

Yeah. So we made a decision years ago to focus on this broader application of entrepreneurial skills and mindsets versus the typical very narrow application, which is venture creation startups. And I love startups. That's sort of where I came from. But it seemed like that was not going to be the best focus for us at William & Mary. And so we instead zoomed out a little bit to focus on a set of four skills. And so those are opportunity discovery, failing wisely, improvisation, and collaboration, and then four mindsets, a tolerance for ambiguity, grit, risk acceptance, and self-direction. So the collection of those is what we mean when we say entrepreneurial thinking. And our sense is that they are a highly versatile set of skills and mindsets that can be applied in a lot of different settings, not just the venture creation setting. So startups are just one manifestation of that way of thinking. And the broader perspective has allowed us to engage in a much larger population. We formerly worked with predominantly MBA students, so five years ago, our programming really engaged just the MBA students. And fast forward five years, and we have hundreds of students from across campus that are engaged from majors that I didn't even know existed. We have twenty-five plus different majors that are plugging into this entrepreneurial thinking focus.

Ken White

So it's showing that their employers, large, small, for-profit, nonprofit, whatever it is, they value entrepreneurial thinking.

Graham Henshaw

They do. And we see that when they come into our space and our new entrepreneurship hub, we have a giant mural on the wall with these four skills and the four mindsets. And there hasn't ever been a time that an employer has come through and had a tour and not said, wow, if you have students with those things, we want them. And so, we have been trying to create a brighter line between entrepreneurial thinking and these great career outcomes. We want students to make that connection, as well as the employers, already have made that connection.

Ken White

And we should mention congratulations to you and the team at the Miller Entrepreneurship Center, William & Mary, one of the named one of the top 50 business schools in the world for entrepreneurship. And that's you. That's congratulations. That had to feel pretty cool.

Graham Henshaw

Now that felt great. Honestly, it's one of those things where we already knew we had something amazing happening. You know, we're in it every day, and we see the outcomes. But it is really good to get that external validation that what we're doing is working. And you don't often get to come up for air long enough to appreciate that. So this has been a neat moment to recognize the efforts of everybody on the team to make this a really wonderful program across the entire university, especially here, as in the Poets and Quants rankings for the MBA audience as well.

Ken White

No doubt. Well, you know, I've spoken with professionals, leaders, managers who feel the weight and the stress of the pandemic is getting in the way of their success, their ability to adopt entrepreneurial thinking, the skills, and the mindsets. But you say there are some elements that professionals can adopt to help them. What are those?

Graham Henshaw

Yeah, and first, I want to say you know I get that sense of being a little bit frozen in this season. I've connected with lots and lots of businesses in our area who are really struggling, and they're just trying to figure out how to survive amidst the pandemic. So I know it's hard, and I don't want to minimize those struggles. But having said that, I do think that for most people, there are a few skills and traits that could be really useful right now. And again, it does require coming up for air just for a second. But if I could wave a magic wand impart an extra dose of some of those skills and traits that we have been speaking about, I think I would choose to spread around some opportunity discovery, some tolerance for ambiguity, and certainly some improvisation. I think these things would go a long way right now to helping people navigate this situation.

Ken White

Well, let's define those. When you say opportunity discovery, what do you mean?

Graham Henshaw

Sure. This one is the ability to spot opportunities where other people don't see them. This is a situation where sometimes some people see a problem, but the entrepreneurial thinker sees the opportunity that that is connected to that problem. Most of the time, people don't see anything at all. So a problem is a step up. But the opportunity is that next step. And so, in some ways, the pandemic has been a catalyst for some organizations to look much more closely than they ever have needed to before to serve their customers or to generate revenue. I think that sometimes normalcy can lead to complacency, and then it causes us to miss these opportunities that are right under our noses. So to opportunity discovery is hunting those opportunities that most people miss.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Graham Henshaw in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. There is no better time than right now to pursue your MBA. With businesses and organizations experiencing so much change, they're seeking professionals who can communicate, think strategically, and deal with ambiguity. Skills taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different formats, including the full time, the evening, the online, and the executive. The William & Mary MBA will prepare you to succeed in our new world. Check out the MBA programs at William & Mary today. Now back to our conversation on adopting entrepreneurial thinking during covid-19 with Graham Henshaw, executive director of the Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center at William & Mary.

Ken White

Improvisation.

Graham Henshaw

So improvisation and tolerance for ambiguity, I would say go, go hand in hand, and so improvisation is the ability to make course corrections as the situation on the ground dictates. And that's, I think, what a lot of leaders are experiencing right now. They've got a playbook. This might and have not been in it. The pandemic was likely not in your playbook. And so you have to make some calls on the ground and adjust those as the situation dictates. So it used to be that entrepreneurship programs taught students how to write business plans. And we haven't done that for quite a while because we know that and even in good times, no plan survives first contact with customers. And I think that people are seeing that more now than ever. We need to be agile. We need to not hold on too tightly to how we thought the solution was going to be rolled out. We need to be able to adjust course as necessary.

Ken White

Going back to opportunity discovery, that's something that people can learn?

Graham Henshaw

Yeah, opportunity discovery is one of those skills that you can learn. One of the ways is to learn where you need to look. And oftentimes, organizations are looking in the wrong places. So I'll refer back to the classic Peter Drucker text where he talks about sources of innovative opportunity. And it turns out that most people are looking in the riskiest of places for those opportunities, which is this breakthrough discovery R&D that's never been done before. There are opportunities there, but oftentimes they're binary. It'll either work, or it doesn't work now. Now is not the time for that. There are other sources that are much more reliable, and they're easier. They have higher odds of success. One of those is to look for opportunities where the unexpected has happened. So the unexpected success or the unexpected failure. But let's take the unexpected success in the case of the pandemic. You could look at organizations that have unexpectedly seen success. What is it about their model that we might be able to implement for our own? So that's one. Demographics are another source of innovative opportunity. So so learning where to look is one of those things. And the other is a lens shift. If you're trying to learn this skill of opportunity discovery, you need to stop looking for ideas and start looking for problems. I try to get my students to see that all the time. They say I'd really love to do entrepreneurship, but I'm just waiting for that big idea, that flash of genius. I say, well, you're going to be waiting for a while, but you might find it to be more productive if you just look around and try to look for some challenges, look for some problems that potential customers are having. And if you solve that problem, you're probably going to develop an innovative solution that addresses that. And as a result of that, maybe a more sustainable business than if you just sit around and try to come up with a brilliant idea. There's lots of brilliant ideas out there, by the way, that don't make for a good business. So I think it's always better to search for opportunities and problems.

Ken White

How interesting. I read a story today about someone who was out of work. You talk about where to look, realize that people want to adopt pets, dogs right now, and now she delivers them all over the country.

Graham Henshaw

Yeah.

Ken White

She's made a huge business. Right. And it's looking for problems. That's so interesting.

Graham Henshaw

Exactly. That's a great example of opportunity discovery. That's the unexpected event. We didn't expect pet adoptions to go through the roof. And there's an opportunity there if you look at that.

Ken White

Is it helpful to, I assume, helpful to bring others in and say, I'm stuck? This is what I'm thinking about. What do you think? I'm assuming that the answer, of course, is yes to that.

Graham Henshaw

Yeah. And so that's why collaboration is one of those pillars of entrepreneurial thinking. It's important to bring in those other perspectives, especially in these kinds of situations where we might view this situation one way. But someone else who maybe has seen something tangential, they bring a different perspective that's useful as you're trying to navigate through those challenges. So so collaboration is an essential part of that entrepreneurial thinking toolkit?

Ken White

Well, especially to our listeners who find entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial thinking interesting. I'm excited to announce that Graham, you, and the Miller Entrepreneurship Center have your own podcast now, which is I've heard I love the host. This is so cool. Please tell us about your new podcast.

Graham Henshaw

Yeah. So the new podcast is called Day One, and it's currently recorded by one the Miller Center fellows, Sonia Kinkhabwala, and I have to give all the credit to her. It was her idea. She is the fellow in charge of reaching out to alumni. And we just had an interesting problem this fall when we realized we had so many connections to amazing alumni stories and not enough space to tell those stories in our current lineup of programming. And so we thought, what can we do? That's a little bit different to feature these fantastic entrepreneurial journeys of these William & Mary alumni. And so she came up with this idea for day one, which is an unfiltered look at the life of an entrepreneurial thinker. It's not your typical startup showcase. It's more what is it actually like to start and run a venture? And we really do focus on these entrepreneurial thinking pillars in these conversations with those entrepreneurial thinkers. And it's not just startups. It's it's nonprofits. It's being an innovator inside of a large organization. It runs the gamut. So the diversity there matches the diversity in our student membership. So these entrepreneurial thinkers come from across the entire campus. So it's really been a wonderful opportunity discovery.

Ken White

Yeah.

Graham Henshaw

And we have now, at the time of this recording, three great episodes under our belts, and we are excited to continue that journey.

Ken White

And where can our listeners find day one? Where can they get to it and subscribe?

Graham Henshaw

So right now, it's listed on Spotify. And so if you just go to Spotify and search for day one, you will find those episodes that we have currently recorded.

Ken White

Graham, thanks for your time. Give us a lot to think about. And if you're into this, find day one, and you'll hear so much more about how entrepreneurial thinking can really change your life.

Graham Henshaw

Absolutely. I fully believe that. Well, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Ken White
That's our conversation with Graham Henshaw, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Now is the perfect time to pursue your MBA. Businesses and organizations are seeking professionals who think strategically, communicate effectively, and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and much more in the William & Mary MBA program offered in four formats the full-time, the evening, the online, and the executive MBA. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guests Graham Henshaw, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White, wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Jane Stevenson
Jane StevensonEpisode 141: November 5, 2020
Women are Leaving the Workforce

Jane Stevenson

Episode 141: November 5, 2020

Women are Leaving the Workforce

The consequences of COVID-19 have been numerous. Some have been positive, some negative, and some have been eye-opening. Like the news that hundreds of thousands of women are leaving the workforce. In fact, leaving at four times the rate as men. Some of the departures are due to layoffs in hard-hit sectors like hospitality and retail, but that's not the driver behind the numbers. In many cases, women are leaving to homeschool their children and serve as caregivers. The fallout has the potential to be felt for years that erases some of the gains made by women in leadership roles. Jane Stevenson is Global Leader for CEO Succession, and Vice Chairman, Board and CEO Services for the global organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry. She joins us today to discuss why women are leaving the workforce and what organizations can do about it.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • Jane's reaction to women leaving the workforce
  • Will the exodus of women from the workforce continue as COVID continues
  • Why are women leaving the workforce in such large numbers
  • Is COVID the only driver of women leaving the workforce
  • What are ways to encourage women back to the workforce
  • What are the negative effects of fewer women in leadership roles
  • What is the Power of All initiative at Korn Ferry
  • How important is diversity in the workplace
  • What can leaders do to encourage their employees to advocate for themselves
Transcript

Jane Stevenson: Women are Leaving the Workplace TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business, the podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategy, tactics, and information that help make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host, Ken White. Thanks for listening. Well, the consequences of COVID-19 have been numerous. Some have been positive, some negative, and some have been eye-opening, like the news that hundreds of thousands of women are leaving the workforce, in fact, leaving at four times the rate as men. Some of the departures are due to layoffs in hard-hit sectors like hospitality and retail. But that's not the driver behind the numbers. In many cases, women are leaving to homeschool their children and serve as caregivers. The fallout has the potential to be felt for years that erases some of the gains made by women in the workplace in recent years. In addition, organizations are at risk of losing women in leadership roles. Jane Stevenson is Global Leader for CEO Succession and Vice Chairman, Board and CEO Services for the global organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry. She joins us today to discuss why women are leaving the workforce and what organizations can do about it. Here's our conversation with Jane Stevenson of Korn Ferry.

Ken White

Well, Jane, thanks for sharing your time and your expertise with us. It's nice to see you. Thanks for being with us.

Jane Stevenson

It's a pleasure to be here.

Ken White

What was your reaction when you saw these numbers, this large number of women leaving the workforce? What was your reaction initially to that?

Jane Stevenson

I think I gasped initially. As you probably know, I led a body of work called Women CEOs Speak that addresses the pathway to CEO. And so thinking about the progression of women coming up through the ranks and what it really represents to lose, you know, potentially a quarter or so of them is really scary. And it potentially wipes out so much positive progress. I felt like we were just peaking in terms of two things coming together. One, the light coming on for women about what's possible further on in their career and even to the top of the house and two enough examples of that to make it seem normal. Right. And less of an oddity when we appoint a woman CEO. And so when you think about what it really represents, have so many high potential women out of the mix, that is a really tough, tough hill to climb.

Ken White

Do you think this could continue as COVID continues?

Jane Stevenson

You know, it's hard to answer what the future holds on so many levels, but I think we have a real issue, and we have an issue that probably has always existed, the issue of care and who provides it. And one of the reasons that I think women have been standouts from government leadership to business leadership during this time is that really unique ability that women have to think outside themselves and not always empathetically but often, but certainly thinking about a system that is more than just me. And so it works really well to bring great leadership in difficult situations. But it also is something that pulls on women in unique ways when there's care that needs to be given, and they feel there's no one else to provide it.

Ken White

So that's certainly one reason we're hearing as to why some of the some women are leaving the workforce is they have to give care at home, or they're taking care of a parent or a child. What are some of the other reasons that some women are opting to step out?

Jane Stevenson

Well, it's interesting. In the research that I mentioned, we saw that women's balance scores were higher. And in the easy read of that was that women wanted to build in time for family, etc. in different ways. When we dug underneath that from a psychometrics perspective, we found that actually wasn't the case. But what women do do is to evaluate and weigh out what needs are and where there is the most weighting isn't just the job. So it really looks at if you are a woman and you feel like you're working inordinately hard and you're going nowhere, and you have demands that are pulling you in other directions, you're going to try another way to get there. So oftentimes, women, even before COVID, left the corporate environment because it felt so frustrating, working so hard and not getting as far as they knew they should. But they're going to think about, you know, that that balance driver is going to have them figuring out another way to get to the goal. So you see a lot of women go starting businesses on their own or doing other things. The downside of that is that we then don't have them in the pipeline for top leadership because we lose them at the point at which they're really most able to contribute in ways that are significant. And so we've got to really figure that out. And covid is just an exclamation mark on an already challenged situation.

Ken White

Mmm. Are there ways to get them back? I mean, has anyone figured that out?

Jane Stevenson

I think there are some ways to get them back, and they're pretty logical. There are ways that look at what is someone capable of doing and how do we enable that capability to make a difference, which is very different than, you know,  this is how it's done. And if you can't crack that nut, then too bad for you. Right.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Jane Stevenson

And so I view women's leadership as being an incremental opportunity or weapon, if you will, in, you know, in what the world needs. I think, frankly, diversity in all forms is true of that. But for women, if we don't have women in the mix, then we lose an element that we've now seen in multiple studies equates to better financial performance and better cultural environments. Both of which I think, you know, are very much needed. So so, so that's the nut that we have to crack in business and in society is, you know, do we want to create a penalty kind of organizational structure that we don't shift or change or do we want to tap into unique capabilities and opportunities for the world? Right. So this isn't just for the women. It really is for the world that enables the world to get that incremental difference to work for it.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Jane Stevenson of Korn Ferry in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. There is no better time than right now to pursue your MBA. With businesses and organizations experiencing so much change, they're seeking professionals who can communicate, think strategically, and deal with ambiguity. Skills taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different formats, including the Full-Time, the Evening also known as the Flex Program, the Online, and the Executive MBA. The William & Mary MBA will prepare you to succeed in our new world. Check out the MBA programs at William & Mary today. Now back to our conversation on Women Leaving the Workforce with Jane Stevenson of Korn Ferry.

Ken White

You mentioned diversity. Tell us about your Power of All initiative at Korn Ferry. That's interesting.

Jane Stevenson

Sure. So Power of all was really, really born out of a belief that we need diversity in all forms in the work environment, and that there are huge benefits for everyone in doing that and that we at Korn Ferry were uniquely able to tap into that and we're willing to put some resources against it. So it started from some research projects that we did around pipelines to top leadership for women. We also then mentioned women CEOs Speak. We just last fall launched one for black  P&L leaders. And so what frankly, some of our board members said to those of us in leadership was we need to have a resource that gives us confidence that the organizations that we're on boards for most board members have more than one board. And, you know, in our other boards, we would love to have a resource that we felt reliably could enable us to hold leadership accountable for having diversity. And so this really spurred our CEO, Gary Burnison. And several of us were pulled together, and we said, you know what, we really should take this on as an opportunity to ensure for all of our clients that we are able to ensure diversity and pipelines, ensure that our development and assessment tools are enabling diverse leaders to do well and to move forward, as well as in our pay equality efforts to ensure that they are rewarded in fair ways. And I could go on. I mean, we have, you know, top teamwork and other work, so it's a work in progress. But it is a I think, a major source of pride for a lot of partners of the firm that we're really it's a lot about action and a little about words.

Ken White

Yeah, you mentioned the word pipeline a few times. What we're looking at, the number of women leaving are these women who are in the pipeline, those who are middle managers, high potentials. Who exactly are we talking?

Jane Stevenson

Well, you know, I think we'll learn more about that over time because I think we're pretty soon to be definitive about that. But we'll definitely lose some of those. You know, one of the things about covid is it's an equal opportunity inflector. Right. And so, you know, it doesn't really matter if you're the president of a division or if you are more junior in the organization. Some of the issues that are being faced around family members, around care for kids, around elder care, around all these things are impacting people at all levels. Now, it most negatively impacts the more junior players because they don't have compensation that that allows them options. And this is where I think it is super important for organizations to think about. What does that really represent in terms of an opportunity cost? Because it's easy to think in terms of it being just a situation that can't be helped. And that's one way to look at it. But those of us who are more innovative and more looking at opportunity are saying, you know, that that doesn't have to be the way that it is. What are ways we can tap into the potential that we're put we're going to be losing so that we don't have, you know, just a major dent in the opportunity pipeline for the future?

Ken White

Yeah, sounds like retention, right? If you invest in it, you keep your good people.

Jane Stevenson

It's absolutely that. And it's also a little bit of marketing, right? I mean, you wouldn't target diapers to middle-aged men. Right. And so I think we have to think about who is the population and what do we do that really addresses needs for them, not just what are we going to do, a one size fits all. And, you know, that's the other thing. I think that is super important. And I was just involved in a small select session on mental health yesterday and, you know, the need for people to see, be seen and to understand their value is really important during this covid period. And if someone's going through huge difficulty in juggling all that's on their plate, even just knowing that someone knows is is is not a small thing. I was in a session, and someone shared as a consequence of the Holocaust, a learning that what's shareable is bearable. And I never forgot that. I thought that is so powerful. And I think it's really true for workforces today and for leaders as we think about our organizations. How do we really share the load with each other, and how do we support unique needs for unique people? And just by the way, I know we're talking about women, but it's also true that some diverse areas of organizations have unique issues as well. So, for example, Latin X and black employees tend to have larger family systems where there are smaller numbers of people that have both physical and caretaking responsibility for more people. So, you know, that's part of this systemic issue that we face. How do we help people break out and use all of the unique gifts that they have in ways that actually serve us well? So we think about it as making this sort of do-good contribution. But the reality is, you know if you tap into a key number of those folks who have unique gifts that are not going to be realized and you enable that, that's actually a return on investment. And it's a really different way to think that I think is important in the covid era in particular.

Ken White

Interesting, yeah. From an individual standpoint, you're a woman in the pipeline. Career is going great. You can't do it. There's just too many responsibilities. I think we would say, tell your boss, tell somebody. But I know people are reluctant to do that. What kind of advice would you have for a working professional who should tell but just doesn't feel comfortable doing so?

Jane Stevenson

So I'll give you a few things there. But I honestly think we ought to be giving the advice to the leaders. I think the leaders are the ones that really should have the accountability to look out and know what's going on. And, you know, we just have no way to know. And I'll just share a story personally from this morning. There's a woman on my team who is absolutely extraordinary, and she is on the way to really big things. And she's been out delivering what I did not realize until this morning when I called her for no reason. She just was on my heart for some reason, called her. And I happened to ask how her husband was doing. He was fired last week. I didn't know that she has two small children at home. And, you know, this is a huge load to carry. Right. And it wouldn't have come up. It wouldn't have come up. So I think we have to ask. We have to understand. And it's all part of I think this time that we're in to make sure people are seen and heard and that what they're contributing isn't the only thing that we're interested in. We're also interested in what is their experience and how can we help each other because great leaders tap into what gets the best out of their people. And our lives are absolutely inextricably linked to our work.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Jane Stevenson, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. The perfect time to pursue your MBA is right now. Businesses and organizations are seeking professionals who think strategically, communicate effectively, and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and much more in the William & Mary MBA program offered in four formats the Full-Time, the Evening, the Online, and the Executive MBA. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest Jane Stevenson, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White, wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

More Podcast Episodes

 Brett Alpert
Brett AlpertEpisode 140: September 30, 2020
Job Seeking During the Pandemic

Brett Alpert

Episode 140: September 30, 2020

Job Seeking During the Pandemic

According to a recently released report by McKinsey, jobs will most likely change following the pandemic. The report says the adoption of automation and digitization will accelerate. Demand for contract and remote workers will increase as well. Thanks to COVID-19, the way we look for a new job is changing too. In-person, face-to-face interviews have moved to video. Traditional networking is now mostly online. But those changes don't mean you should put your job search on hold. Some of the tactics we've used in the past continue to be effective while some new approaches are also working. Brett Alpert is Associate Dean for Career Services and the Executive Director of the Graduate Career Management Center at the William & Mary School of Business. He and his team, among other things, offer comprehensive career planning assistance to students while working closely with employers. He joins us on the podcast to talk about the ways job seekers are finding success during the pandemic.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How has job searching changed during the pandemic
  • Why it is important to acknowledge that the world has changed
  • What are the different networking strategies to employ during this time
  • What's the overall picture for people seeking employment opportunities
  • How to think of your skillset when considering job searches
  • The difference between face-to-face video interviews and recorded video interviews
  • How AI is being used to scan resumes and filter candidates
  • What to do to stay positive during a lengthy job search
Transcript

Brett Alpert: Job Seeking During the Pandemic TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that help make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host, Ken White. Thanks for listening. According to a recently released report by McKinsey, jobs will most likely change following the pandemic. The report says the adoption of automation and digitization will accelerate, demand for contract and remote workers will increase as well. Well, thanks to COVID-19, the way we look for a new job is changing, too. In-person, face to face interviews have moved to video. Traditional networking is now mostly online. But those changes don't mean you should put your job search on hold. Some of the tactics we've used in the past continue to be effective, while some new approaches are also working. Brett Alpert is Associate Dean for Career Services and the Executive Director of the Graduate Career Management Center at the William & Mary School of Business. He and his team, among other things, offer comprehensive career planning assistance to students while working closely with employers. He joins us on the podcast to talk about the ways job seekers are finding success during the pandemic. Here's our conversation with Brett Alpert.

Ken White

Well, Brett, thank you very much for taking time to join us. Good to see you.

Brett Alpert

Good to see you as well, happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Ken White

You know, you have the kind of job where I'm sure people come up to you all the time you know and say, what's it look like out there? Who's hiring and what's your crystal ball say so. And I want to ask all those questions. So basically, what's it look like when you see the overall picture out there? What do you think?

Brett Alpert

Well, the world is definitely changed a lot since COVID, the onslaught of COVID, and it hasn't changed everywhere and in every way. But it has changed a lot. And it's really important that people who are out searching for employment or those doing the hiring really accept that. And think about it. I remember a book by Amanda Ripley who survived disaster and why, and it talked about how people go through a stage during a crisis of denial, then deliberation, and then a decisive moment taking action. And while we're all dealing with difficult circumstances and some are dealing with more than others, they've lost loved ones in this difficult time. It is important to acknowledge that the world has changed. It is different. You can't just do the same things that you did before to find employment. And when you do that, and you accept that things have changed, you adopt different strategies to go out and to search. You find the silver linings. You find the opportunities in the midst of a crisis. You do things like connect in new ways by reaching out via virtual technology and other mediums versus just waiting things to get back to the way that they were before.

Ken White

Oh wow, what a great point. Well, you said reaching out, which, of course, is networking. Has that changed, or are there different strategies now? While we're still dealing with the pandemic.

Brett Alpert

Definitely, it's changed. It's changed in multiple ways or some ways where, you know, common practices, what you follow in the course of a conversation stays the same. However, you've lost the ability for chance encounters for happenstance during this COVID time frame. Where you just bump into somebody in the hallway who happens to be in a building, and you shake hands, and you say hello, and you decide to sit down for coffee and a meal. You've lost that opportunity, at least during this time frame. However, the model, the mode, whatever you might want to call it, that networking has to take place in person, has been totally shattered. People have gotten accustomed to the fact now that they're utilizing Zoom and utilizing other forms of virtual technology. So with that, some of the geographic boundaries for networking have also been shattered. You may be somebody that's living in Virginia, and you'd like to make a contact with somebody who lives in California, you see, has the exact type of job that you one day aspire to be in. In the past, you might have waited. You may have done a quick email or a phone call or something of that nature or waited until you were in that area before reaching out to that person because you might have thought that the best way to do it was to meet for coffee or for lunch. Well, now you can't do that. And people on the other side of those interactions know that as well. And it allows people the freedom and flexibility to think about connecting virtually, setting up a Zoom chat, setting up a conversation by Skype or GoTo meeting, or whatnot. People are more receptive to it. It's also led to more of a benefit of the doubt where you're trying, of course, to put your best foot forward in the course of networking. But people understand that you may have kids in the background. They understand that you may have a situation where the technology just fails on you. And it's nice to be in that type of environment where people are going to at least give you more of the benefit of the doubt than you would have had before.

Ken White

Interesting. So so in this case, change isn't necessarily all negative, right? Some people don't like change, but there's some real benefits to this then.

Brett Alpert

Yeah, it's a mixed bag like most. You have to be looking at both sides acknowledge the fact that there's difficulties, there's challenges, there's things you wish were back to the way they used to be. But once you have really accepted and adopted the change mindset that there's a new world out there, and you have to do something because others are actually taking action, and you find out what the strategic things are that you need to do. And you build your network or reach out the right ways. Well, you have opportunities for expansion. There's a great book out there as well that was written by a gentleman, Steve Dalton, who works over at Duke. It's called the two-hour job search. And it does a great job of outlining strategic approach to network strategic approach to the job search to help ensure that you're not wasting your time on inefficient activities. And it's a wonderful book. And the practices still apply during a COVID time frame, even if the method by which you're communicating with those in the network have changed.

Ken White

So what do you see when you look at the employment front and opportunities, how overall, how's the picture look for professional people today?

Brett Alpert

That's a great question as well. We'll hear from time to time. There's nothing out there for me or in my specific field. Well, we advise people to do is to think hard and deeply about whether they're defining their field too narrowly. If you're in a situation and where you're taking a look and two months into the COVID, you say, you know, your field or your industry of choice is travel and hospitality. And then beyond that, you are thinking more specifically about hotel and resort management. Well, I would encourage you to think a little bit broadly, more broadly, if you're thinking hotel and resort management and that's it, and that's all you're looking for. You really do need to think a little bit more broadly or think about how long you're willing to wait for those types of opportunities to continue to emerge. You're better off thinking and taking a skills approach and looking around and saying, you know, where can I find my skills and potentially acquire new skills so that two, three years from now or whatever it is, the travel and hospitality is booming again. You're able to take those skills that you've attained, and you've put into practice back into the hotel and resort management arena and possibly have a higher level role than you would have had a few years beforehand. And I would say likely have a higher level role than you would have a few years beforehand because you've acquired new skills. I would also encourage folks to take a look at their whatever institution they've graduated from, to take a look at their career management portals that their prior universities continue to maintain, whether it's through handshake, simplicity, 1220. There's a lot of platforms that are out there that are specifically seeking either current students or graduates of very specific colleges and universities. Often these employers will recruit regionally. So if you happen to be in the region where your alma mater was or continues to be, then you want to really tap into that and reach out and make use of those strategies in that network.

Ken White

Well, you hit on something. You didn't say it, but you hit on that transferable skills, and everybody has them. But you and I work with so many professionals, and we see a lot of people don't see that they have transferable skills. Right. So I've been in the hotel business. That's where I keep looking. But, boy, I've got skills that allow me to really flourish over here in this industry. How do people learn that they have transferable skills? Are there certain processes you walk them through? How do you realize that what you really do have some talent and experience there?

Brett Alpert

Yes, definitely. We've got a really talented team here. Fortunately, that helps to work with our student population to guide them through that process. But beyond that, just in speaking with the general audience, if you're really that best off asking others, I think to some, if you are not unable to determine yourself what skills would apply to particular areas, ask people within those industries to take a look at your resume and your prior experiences, see what types of skills resonate with them and they think are specific to their industry as well. Ask people that you care about. Ask peers, whomever it might be that you know will give you constructive, valuable information. But often, when you go to the leaders within the field that you're potentially looking to enter into, they are very skilled at being able to point out and pull out those particular skills, leadership traits, et cetera, that you may not have inherently noticed, but they will see are directly applicable to what they do or what they're looking for in terms of candidates.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Brett Alpert in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. If you're thinking about pursuing an MBA, consider William & Mary, whether you're currently completing your bachelor's degree or you have decades of work experience. The William & Mary MBA will transform you four different formats, including the full time, the evening, the online, and the executive. The William & Mary MBA will change and improve the way you think, the way you lead, and the way you live. Just ask any of our alumni. Now back to our conversation on job seeking during the pandemic with Brett Alpert, associate dean of career services at William & Mary's School of Business.

Ken White

You know, if one of our listeners has not been searching for work lately, things have really changed in just a couple of years. And one of them that I think really throws people the first time they see it is their use of video in interviews. Can you tell us how companies are employing video in the search process lately and now?

Brett Alpert

Yeah, that's a very big issue. It's really interesting, too, because there's a consultant, her name is Mary Scott, who does an annual survey of recruiters and students and presents each year at the National Association for Colleges and Employers. And she gathers data throughout this whole process. And historically, but not counting this COVID time frame. Video technology had been on the increase, but students really didn't like it. They really, really, strongly preferred employers coming to engage in person and on campus. I have not seen yet. And they may not have gone through the process of these surveys again to determine what the reflections are of students. But now we're in an environment where there really isn't a choice as to whether you use virtual technology or not in order to connect. So my sense is that students have a lot more comfort with it than they historically did. And they're not drawing maybe the same inferences that they did in the past, which was, oh, this employer doesn't care enough to come to meet me where I am. So that's changed a bit. What I will say is continued is there still is discomfort. There's a two-way technology which is like Zoom or Skype or whatnot, where you have somebody literally on the other side of the camera in this or the laptop or whatever it is that you might be doing where you can read nonverbals, you can have interactions, you can ask questions. That's generally seen as a much more favorable approach than one-way video, which is something that's a reality as well, where a screen will pop up, and it'll have a question here. And you may have a limited amount of time in which you could answer that question, and then you have to make sure you're hitting your points within that limited amount of time. That is still perceived really negatively by students. It was perceived particularly negatively prior to COVID but from at least anecdotal information. Students still find that to be very difficult because they again read into it and say, well, first of all, it's awkward you can't read nonverbal. You don't know if you're perceiving you, your responses are timed, and you can't just rely on nonverbal cues to sort of help trigger when you narrow down your answer. And then it also gives that impression that the employer, on the other side, does not necessarily value you as a candidate enough. And you maybe just a number. They don't value you necessarily enough to actually have somebody on the other side of the camera. Now, some employers are doing a hybrid, which is also a legitimate approach where maybe the first interview, they're having a in-person interaction. And then to get through part two, they've got some specific technical questions or whatnot that they'd like to ask you. And they're deploying them both ways. But I wouldn't advise any employer to really think about doing whatever you can to help ensure that there's somebody on the other side of the camera, at least at some point in these screening interviews, because it does have a challenging and sometimes a negative impact on these student perceptions. And from a student side to be mindful of the fact that you really need to prepare utilizers. There's different technologies out there like interview stream and others that we deploy and others. I think another one called big interview that you could utilize to help practice one-way video type interviews and then watch your performance was like and adjust accordingly.

Ken White

When I talk to professionals, if they have not done one of those one-way video interviews, it is such an eye-opener. It's a jarring experience. And for our listeners who've done them, they know exactly what I'm talking about. Technology is definitely in the game. The other thing that I'm hearing, and of course, you're our guest, you know more in terms of using technology. Is artificial intelligence being used to sort of scan resumes and pull out keywords? How is that? How's that work today?

Brett Alpert

Yeah, some employers are using it, and some aren't. It depends also on the number of resumes that they're accustomed to receiving any unit. If they're receiving thousands of resumes for each sort of segment or set of roles. They will do some sometimes some artificial screening on intelligence screening, on making sure that the appropriate degrees are there, some key skills pop up, and also some of the experiences and the length of time that you've been working. Some of those things can be triggered and set up through AI, so it's a reality with some companies. What we advise students to do is to make sure they're including some of the key buzzwords specific to their industry at hand, but also include beyond the buzz words, some real concrete specifics. So, for example, if you know that a job that you're applying for is looking for coders and programmers. You don't just want to put in your resume. I took a coding class, or I have coding skills. You want to list the specific programs, packages that you are fluent in because those might be things that AI will pick up and will trigger you going into a pile where somebody else may not. You also want to be mindful of ensuring that you're including some other words sort of appropriate for the level of role that you're at. So if you're looking to be a manager of a particular organization, include words like leadership, led, co-founded, ran an initiative on. Things of that nature include key data points. Numbers also sometimes are picked up. I raised five million dollars in X, Y, and Z. If it was a fundraising role, people are going to want to see those types of things. It shouldn't just be long lists of verbiage that don't have any of those keywords that you would want to see or that, you know, an employer would want to see that are specific to your industry.

Ken White

You know, searching for a job when you don't have one or when you do is such a stressful situation. It's just so many unknowns. What kind of advice do you give to people to try to stay positive and to stay up? Because it'll happen, but it's easy for others to say that. What advice do you give?

Brett Alpert

You know, I reflect back to several years back when I graduated from a doctoral program. And that can be a lonely process. You wrap up your dissertation, and you're trying to find employment, and you're searching as you're going doing your dissertation as well. What I found really helpful and advice students as well and those that I've worked with over the years have also found really helpful is to track your activity. And there is some guidance for this and that two-hour job search book that I referenced earlier as well. Because it can feel like you may have submitted 12 resumes, and you could feel like an eternity before you hear back from anybody. And then, all of a sudden, you hear back from three organizations or three companies who are interested in interviewing you. At some point, some of them may be successful; some of them may not. Some of them, they may have had internal candidates in mind, and you just don't know when you're going through that process. And so it can be very frustrating. It could be very lonely. So sometimes surrounding yourself with other people who are also searching can be a really helpful motivating factor, continuing to network with folks who have found positions recently or maybe a year beforehand where in your very shoes to make sure that they can hopefully potentially advocate for you within those companies. But tracking your activity is key so that you have things that you can check off that shows you're making progress along the way. If you set a goal of submitting five resumes and reaching out to 10 contacts today and you've done that, check it off. You may have zero results to show for it that day, but at least you know you're taking the right steps towards potential success. And that really, really is helpful for most students. It was helpful for me as well to show that, hey, I'm doing all the right things. I'm adopting all the appropriate fundamentals in certain cases. I'm going above and beyond by making that next contact or reaching out to someone who knows somebody. That's all you can control. And the degree to which you are focused on the things that you can control versus the things you can't is also something that is uplifting and will keep you positive on your path to finding meaningful work.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Brett Alpert, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. If you're thinking about pursuing an MBA, pursue one that delivers a transformational experience, the William & Mary MBA. Four format's the full time, the evening, the online, and the Executive MBA. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest Brett Alpert, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White, wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Dr. Kelly Crace
Dr. Kelly CraceEpisode 139: September 3, 2020
Five Strategies to Avoid COVID Burnout

Dr. Kelly Crace

Episode 139: September 3, 2020

Five Strategies to Avoid COVID Burnout

It's been six months since COVID-19 began to change life dramatically in the U.S. and across the world. And as we move into the fall, that change continues, and the amount of uncertainty seems to be growing. Along with it comes ambiguity, disruption, and other elements human beings generally dislike. All of those factors lead to what our guest today calls "chronic too much-ness." For many people today, just "hanging in there" is a real challenge. But there are ways to not only hang tough, but to avoid burnout, and to even flourish during the pandemic. Dr. Kelly Crace is a licensed psychologist. He's Associate Vice President for Health and Wellness at William & Mary. He's the co-author of Authentic Excellence: Flourishing and Resilience in a Relentless World. He joins us today to discuss five mindful strategies you can adopt to avoid burnout and thrive during the pandemic.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • The difference between stress and strain
  • The dangers of chronic uncertainty
  • How do people who are in chronic uncertainty maintain mindfulness and flourish
  • What does it mean to start every day with purpose
  • The importance of doing something every day that's enjoyable
  • Why those who flourish find it important to give encouragement and receive encouragement
  • Why it's important to step into something healthy every day
  • How people who flourish process their day differently than those who are suffering from burnout
Transcript

Dr. Kelly Crace: Five Strategies to Avoid COVID Burnout TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business, the podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that help make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host, Ken White. Thanks for listening. It's been six months since COVID-19 began to change life dramatically in the U.S. and across the world. And as we move into the fall, that change continues, and the amount of uncertainty seems to be growing. Along with it comes ambiguity, disruption, and other elements human beings generally dislike. Well, all of those factors lead to what our guest today calls chronic too-muchness. For many people today, just hanging in, there is a real challenge, but there are ways to not only hang tough but to avoid burnout and to even flourish during the pandemic. Dr. Kelly Crace is a licensed psychologist. He's associate vice president for health and wellness at William and Mary. He's the co-author of Authentic Excellence, Flourishing and Resilience, and a Relentless World. He joins us today to discuss five mindful strategies you can adopt to avoid burnout and thrive during the pandemic. Here's our conversation with Dr. Kelly Crace.

Ken White

Kelly, thank you very much for sharing your time. It's a busy time of the year for you, and you're on campus today.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yeah, it feels good to be on campus and to be able to see the students walk by outside my window and wave at them. It's just a good feeling for the heart and the head.

Ken White

No doubt. Yeah, we really need each other, don't we? We need interaction as human beings.

Dr. Kelly Crace

We do. We do. I mean, I think people have started to find somewhat of a rhythm to working at home and to teleworking. I think they've adapted to it, but I don't know if it's necessarily the preferred scenario. And it certainly rang true for me when I came to campus and realized just what I had missed. And it's a good feeling.

Ken White

As you interact not just in the education space but professionals in all sectors and no matter where they live, are you seeing people that have that are starting to really feel the stress and the inconvenience of coronavirus?

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yeah, I think I think that distinction is stress differentiated from strain. I mean, we can manage challenge. Challenge is actually growth-producing, and we can manage stress if the stress is related to things of purpose or meaning. But if we find that kind of there's this chronic level of demands exceeding capabilities, it can move from stress to strain and strain is unsustainable. And that's what leads to burnout. That's what leads to kind of a deterioration of our energy and our motivation and our resilience. And so I think we are seeing in this chronic uncertainty, this kind of relentless pace because people have commented that they almost they feel more busy than before because they're juggling multiple roles in one space. And that strain and the uncertainty of where this is going. So they're developing plans, not knowing if Plan A is going to turn into plan F, you know, so many iterations, it just wears on us. 

Ken White

Yeah. That's the thing I hear from our friends in the corporate space, and across all various sectors is I'll work all week long with my team. We have all this energy, this creativity, and innovation, and we finish it by Friday, and then we learn before we're done Friday scrap that we have things have changed. We have to start over and wearing people down.

Dr. Kelly Crace

It is.

Ken White

Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Crace

We've called this summer the breathless summer because people have not been able to catch their breath. It is felt just ongoing. And now, at a time when we hope most staff and faculty and students come to campus with their tank full, many are coming with their tank close to empty. And that's worrisome to them that that kind of scares them of am I going to be able to get through this with a with an empty tank?

Ken White

You spoke to our incoming Flex MBA students a few days ago. These are working professionals, people who have great jobs, and lead others, and they're pursuing their MBAs now. And you shared your talk was on five strategies to avoid burnout in this time. And I thought as I'm listening, oh we've got bring Kelly on the podcast to talk about that, would you mind let's talk about that, the five strategies. First of all, you're feeling people are definitely, without question, feeling burned out and tired, as you said.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yeah, these are burnout conditions. So when and some of the work that we did in the research that we were doing around predicting, flourishing and what predicts people to flourish during various conditions, we find that when we're in certain situations that are chronically uncertain but chronically demanding and can be also chronically upsetting. If you can remember, I mean, we're not only in a situation where we're managing pandemic, we're also managing a lot of social unrest around things that are attached to our values. And so people can have a wide range of emotions about these things, and that takes energy. So if that if all of these issues are combined, it creates this scenario of chronic too-muchness that we can step into too much at an acute or temporary level. But when it becomes chronic too-muchness, that's when it starts to move into strain. And if we don't be real intentional, if we're not really mindful about some strategies, we move into kind of a deeper state of burnout. That's pretty serious. And so we found that what do people do that flourish amidst burnout conditions? In other words, they can't change their scenario. They're in conditions that are vulnerable to burnout, and they can't really change that. How do you psychologically manage that? And we found that they are typically intentional and mindful about five key strategies. And that's kind of what we talked about with your group the other day. 

Ken White

Yeah. Let's go through those. Your first one was start every day with purpose.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yeah.

Ken White

What do you mean by that?

Dr. Kelly Crace

It's just very simply the mindful intention of starting every day with what's important to me. What matters to me and of those things, what matters most today, so there's not only a crystallization of what matters, but there's also a prioritization that of these things that I thought about while I'm brushing my teeth in the morning and thinking about what's important to me, what matters to me today, to also kind of rank them, you know, of those things this one is most important. The key is to ask that every day with a clean slate as if you've never asked it before because the answers will be different based on your day. The reason why that one is so important is it differentiates wants from values, from needs. We typically kind of neurologically live according to fear and comfort. We're most motivated by fear and comfort. And what that means is we're then motivated to deal with all the urgent have to's of the day. And then we seek regulation; we seek comfort. And so we will typically start each day with either what do I have to do or what do I want to do. And the problem with that is when it's a want, that's a preference. And what follows from that is not enough psychological commitment to be able to really engage at it at the full level that you want to. So it never takes hold at a consistent level. Conversely, if it's a have to and a need, what brings with that a certain level of psychological intensity that actually gets in the way of your optimal thinking? It gets in the way of critical thinking, creative thinking; it gets in the way of your performance. So if we start the day with needs or if we start the day with wants, it just puts us in a place where we're not functioning at our optimal. The cool thing is the most deepest, purest form of human motivation are our values. So if we trigger our values intentionally at the beginning of the day by saying what's important to me today, what matters to me today, and then owning that, that gives us a sense of resilience because you're acting according to purpose and purpose is a buffer to burnout.

Ken White

Do something every day, that's enjoyable.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yeah, and that was kind of a that was a neat little thing we learned about people that that flourish is they're very intentional about doing something every day that's enjoyable. But it's not in the way we normally think about it. They don't chase happiness. They're not necessarily looking for something to take them away from their stress. They just recognize that amidst these burnout conditions and amidst the hardness and the too-muchness of my life, it is important to pause. It is important things become so quick in an environment of too-muchness and chronic too-muchness. And so things get real quick, which means we're quick to run, we're quick to sprint, we're quick to judge, we're quick to not think, but we act. We need to find a time where we can pause a little bit. And so they do something every day that's enjoyed. It doesn't have to be at a level of high intensity where you just feel chills and goosebumps. It can be something very quiet. It can be the favorite cup of coffee with this favorite person that you do in the morning that you're with every morning. To be able to kind of just spend that time together can be at the end of the evening, just sitting out on the deck and taking five minutes to look around in nature. Whatever it is, they never took it for granted. That was the key that in their business they didn't busyness. They didn't say; I just don't have time for this. They made time for it. And we found out it mattered. It mattered in terms of providing a restorative moment.

Ken White

It's just like a lot of very successful CEOs, no matter what, get their workout in every day.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Absolutely.

Ken White

It's so critical to their success.

Dr. Kelly Crace

It's absolutely true.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Dr. Kelly Crace in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. In today's environment, business and the world are constantly changing. You can sit on the sidelines and watch it happen, or you can learn the skills needed to lead and influence in this time of disruption and change. An MBA from William & Mary will provide you with the tools you need to succeed in our new world. There are four different MBA formats, including the Full-Time, the Evening or Flex program, the Online, and the Executive. The William &top-ranked Mary MBA and its top-ranked faculty will prepare you to be the kind of leader our new world needs. Now back to our conversation with Dr. Kelly Crace.

Ken White

Give encouragement, seek encouragement.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yeah, that was really interesting in terms of the reciprocal nature of it. It made sense why to avoid burnout, why it's good to have your support system around you, and to make sure you're receiving encouragement and receiving support to help sustain you. But we found it was just as important to give it. That there was this reciprocal nature that we as human beings feel that if I'm only giving support and not receiving any, then that feels out of balance for me, and that's straining. But also, if I'm only receiving support and I'm not giving it at some level, that doesn't feel right to us either. And what we found is they thought of support in a multidimensional way. It wasn't just giving emotional support or emotional encouragement of Ken that was a great job or Ken I'm really behind you, that type of thing, that matters. But we found there were multiple dimensions of thinking about encouragement. They had people in their network that they turn to that were good listeners, and they would choose to also listen or people that they turn to for emotional support or even emotional challenge. Emotional challenge is a healthy form of support that I go to, Ken, because I just he challenges me to think about things in a perspective that I wouldn't go to on my own. Same thing with task, a task appreciation task challenge. I give Ken this paper because I know the way he looks at it. He can provide me ideas that I wouldn't normally get from my style of writing. But shared social reality, they go to people that kind of know their reality. So we found, for instance, student veterans may go to another student veteran because they know they only have to get halfway through a sentence

Ken White

Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Crace

and the other person knows exactly what their experience is. They get it. So what we found is that that they thought of encouragement in a multilayered way. And we also found that it wasn't necessarily like if you didn't have the support you need, they would actively seek to cultivate it.

Ken White

Mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

And what we found it was that process of cultivation that was that avoided burnout, not the actual attainment of it. It's wasn't that oh, I have to get my network in place. We found that if every day I am intending to, one, give encouragement to someone and seek encouragement from someone, just that process alone of cultivating your network helps avoid burnout.

Ken White

Step into something healthy every day.

Dr. Kelly Crace

And I love that metaphor stepping in because that is that kind of mindful notion of step into purpose every day, step into enjoyment every day, step into encouragement, and then step into something healthy. And the reason why that's so critically important is we have to be intentional to step into healthy self-care because if we're not intentional, we tend to step into soothing. That's what we that's where we tend to go, especially in burnout conditions, because it's so hard, it's so stressful. We are wearing down. It's just a natural tendency for us to want to soothe. And there's nothing wrong with that per se. Nothing bad happens. The problem is the intentionality. And actually, the behavior can look the same. But when I intend to soothe, my intention is to feel better, and when my intention is to feel better, I'm trying to change brain chemistry as quickly as possible. I'm trying to change a mood from feeling bad to feeling good. And what I'll do is there's only five ways you can change brain chemistry really quick, and that's really quickly, and that is food, drugs, sex, pain, and compelling entertainment. That's where we go. That's what changes brain chemistry the quickest. And there's nothing wrong with that. Even like the pain of exercise, there's nothing wrong with those five things. The problem is when we intend to soothe, we don't manage those things well. We don't moderate them well. In fact, we kind of check out to where I can the example I gave with the Flex MBAs is we kind of we check out to the point where, you know, these two sugar cookies were absolutely delicious. I ended up eating twelve, and I don't even remember the last ten that I ate. It's just a dissociation where we're trying to check out and soothe. Instead, we found that people that flourish, they're mindful about stepping into something healthy.

Ken White

Umm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Let me do something today that's healthy for me. Now, sometimes some of the healthy things also make us feel better, too. That's just a bonus. And so the consequence or the outcome of going out for a run and it also helping and also I do feel better. That's just a bonus that is great to celebrate and enjoy, but it can't be the reason you do it. The reason has to be healthy self-care. Let me step into something healthy today.

Ken White

And then, the fifth step, you mention how to process outcomes.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yes. Yeah. Part of that healthy thing. And this is actually kind of the second part of the fourth step. The second part of the fourth step is what we found to really be healthy is also how you're thinking about your experiences in the day. And we found that most people that flourish are very verb focused, whereas, in burnout conditions, we tend to be noun focused, we tend to focus on the outcomes of the day. Are we getting things done? What did I experience? How did it go? Did it go well? Did it go bad, and we'll define our day by the outcomes? It was a good day. I had good outcomes. It was a bad day. I had bad outcomes. People that flourish do something very differently, they become very verb focused. They focus on behaviors and processes. We've all in the athletics world we've all heard that analogy of process over outcome and that type of thing. And we've heard a lot that a lot about that. But it's actually purposeful process that matters. And so it's about stepping into purpose, but it's engaging and defining your success by the engagement in those verbs. So when I'm engaging in something that matters, the success of it is my actual engagement in it. Now, based on the outcome that just impacts our mood of the day. So if I define my success by stepping into a verb such as learning or expressing what I've learned or relating or healthy self-care, that's my success. If it goes well and the world cooperates that that's just a bonus. That's a great day. And if the world beats us up for that, well, we're going to feel that we can say at the end of the day, well, I'm disappointed because I worked hard for something and didn't get it. That's okay. The people that flourish only see that as a mood. They define their worth by the engagement in those verbs.

Ken White

And you said that the processing of outcomes. Is that step four A, or is that step five?

Dr. Kelly Crace

That's step four B. Four A is healthy self-care, and four B is one of the ways to be most healthy is the perspective of how you're entering the day. And that's be more verb focused, process-oriented

Ken White

Got it.

Dr. Kelly Crace

instead of noun focus, which is outcome-oriented. And then the last one is really it's really the most critical one because it's the most neglected and the most neglected one is people that flourish will take a minute at the end of every day. And value and appreciate where they stepped into those other four things, they don't do it. I mean, they don't go into a lotus position and reflect for 30 minutes of self-love. Again, it can be a brushing the teeth moment. At the end of the day.

Ken White

Wow.

Dr. Kelly Crace

They'll take the time and really value. Where did I step into purpose? Where did I step into encouragement, to enjoyment, into healthy self-care? And they take a moment to appreciate that. The reason for that is that's the transformational process that transforms purpose into meaning. Purpose is more motivational, meaning is more reflective. And so if we'll take the time to reflect on where we engaged in things that mattered to us, that actually transforms purpose into meaning. And what we found is the secret is when people believe that they are living meaningful lives, they don't burn out. They are able to kind of sustain the stress and the challenges of the day because they still feel like they are owning the day, or they are mostly in control. I can't control what the world has handed me, but I can control the fact that I'm living a meaningful life, and that is enough to prevent burnout. 

Ken White

All five steps. Do we need to embrace every day? Can we do one or two or three?

Dr. Kelly Crace

Sure. I mean, we're human beings. And so it's simple. We found that as a package, they work synergistically. So so as a package, it's best to be able to be mindful of all of those because they are interdependent. I can't. I can't really reflect on meaning at the end of the day if I haven't started with purpose.

Ken White

Right.

Dr. Kelly Crace

And so you want to try as best you can. But again, this is hard. It's so simple. There's nothing about flourishing that's complex. It's just really hard to do in the relentlessness of our world. And so what I don't want people to do is, you know, I failed today because I only did three of the five steps. Now it's about admiring your courage and embracing the courage that if I'm stepping into something that's right and hard, that actually is what is courageous. And whenever I step into hard, that's growth-producing. So if every day I'm trying to step into these things and I'm trying to do this in a growth perspective, you'll move forward. It'll be forward moving. It just works optimally when you can try to package all five together. And the nice thing about it is all five of those intentions. They just take a couple of minutes. Remember, we're talking about mindful intentions. So it's directing your energies. It's consecrating your energy. It's kind of dedicating my energies toward this. That doesn't take very long in and of itself. It's just hard to carry it out.

Ken White

Well, that's our conversation with Dr. Kelly Crace, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. There is no better time than the present to pursue an MBA. If you're thinking about it, pursue one that delivers a transformational experience. The William & Mary MBA four format's the Full-Time, the Flex or Evening Program, the Online, and the Executive MBA. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest Kelly Crace, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White, wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Dawn Edmiston
Dawn EdmistonEpisode 138: July 17, 2020
Personal Branding in the COVID-19 Era

Dawn Edmiston

Episode 138: July 17, 2020

Personal Branding in the COVID-19 Era

You have control regarding the way you're perceived and positioned by others. Your personal brand tells people what you offer and how you're different from - and better than - your competition. In recent years, thanks in part to the continuously growing world of social and digital media building and especially promoting your personal brand has become easier than ever before. But with COVID-19, the personal branding landscape has changed somewhat. Our guest says the changes bring new opportunities to build your brand. Dawn Edmiston is a Professor of Marketing at William & Mary's Raymond A. Mason School of Business. She helps professionals and students create and promote their personal brands. She joins us on the podcast today to talk about personal branding, your value proposition, and how social media can help you build your brand in the era of COVID-19.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What is the definition of a personal brand
  • Why is a value proposition important to a personal brand
  • How can one understand how they are perceived
  • How has COVID-19 affected personal branding
  • What are the benefits of technology to promote a personal brand
  • How important is LinkedIn to promoting a personal brand
  • Is it possible to have more than one brand
  • What is the power of video in promoting oneself
  • How should the different social media platforms be utilized
Transcript

Dawn Edmiston: Personal Branding in the COVID-19 Era TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that help make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host, Ken White. Thanks for listening. You have control regarding the way you're perceived and positioned by others. Your personal brand tells people what you offer and how you're different from and better than your competition. In recent years, thanks in part to the continuously growing world of social and digital media, building and especially promoting your personal brand has become easier than ever before. But with COVID-19, the personal branding landscape has changed somewhat. Our guest says the changes bring new opportunities to build your brand. Dawn Edmiston is a Professor of Marketing at William & Mary's Raymond A. Mason School of Business. She helps professionals and students create and promote their personal brands. She joins us on the podcast today to talk about personal branding. Your value proposition and how social media can help you build your brand in the era of COVID-19. Here's our conversation with Dr. Dawn Edmiston.

Ken White

Well, Dawn, thank you, it's great to see you. We're face to face. Isn't that nice?

Dawn Edmiston

Yes, that is lovely. Socially distanced. Yes, of course.

Ken White

I did pick the long rectangular table here in the studio so that the interview is being held appropriately. But thanks. It's really great to see you. And I hope you're well.

Dawn Edmiston

Thank you. Thank you. It's wonderful to be here.

Ken White

When I think personal branding, you're the first person I think of, and I know a lot of people in the business school here at William & Mary think the same, and others do too. When you hear the term personal branding, how do you define that? How do you describe that?

Dawn Edmiston

First, there is no greater compliment that you have given me than to have said that when you think of personal branding, you think of my brand. So thank you. I define personal branding as a systematic and intentional process of defining your value proposition and determining how you will share your value with others. So I like to think that my personal brand promise is that I teach people how to pursue and promote their passions. And so hopefully I'm doing that in this very moment with this podcast.

Ken White

Is it easy for people to identify their passions?

Dawn Edmiston

Great question. And I am often asked that when I am delivering guest lectures on the concepts if I do not have a passion, do I not have a personal brand? And that's not true. And personal brands. And that can evolve with you. But you do need a direction. And if you do not determine your direction, it will be interpreted by others. There's a statement that in this digital environment, that information online implicitly brands people, whether or not they choose to explicitly brand themselves. So even if you do not have a passion, consider a direction, and that will be one step further in developing that personal brand.

Ken White

And it sounds like you're also saying if you don't tell your story, maybe someone else will.

Dawn Edmiston

That's the truth. Yes, that that is. And you need to think about your personal brand as a value proposition as I had said. And if you're not able to define it, typically, personal brands need to include both an internal perspective and an external perspective. So if you're not yet ready to give that internal perspective, if you're not ready yet to determine this is the passion that I need to pursue, then start with the external perspective. Meet with family and friends, colleagues that know you and ask them to give you three words that describe you and then ask them to give you three statements of what they believe is how you have contributed value in their lives, either in personal or professional lives. And that will help move you towards understanding. This is how I'm perceived. Now, how you are perceived and how you want to be perceived may be two very different things, but you always need to have that customer-centric focus. And so by getting that external perspective, that might help you define from an internal perspective, how it is you want to position yourself in the marketplace.

Ken White

So you create that brand, and then you deliver on that promise. Right.

Dawn Edmiston

Yes, yes.

Ken White

That's pretty important.

Dawn Edmiston

Yes. Yes. And I often get asked the first questions are about social media and the promotion element. But as you and I have discussed before, do not think about the promotion until you've actually thought about the development of your brand and be intentional about it. And then we can start discussing once you have that personal brand promise. How do we execute it? Who are the individuals that may gain value from what I have to share? And then how do we ensure that we promote it, that we communicate our value to reach those that may need our products and services?

Ken White

COVID-19 is everything seems to be upside down. Life is just so, so different now. It seems like some personal branding opportunities are lost right now, especially face to face interaction. How is this current arena affected personal branding?

Dawn Edmiston

I mean, COVID-19, has changed our entire lives. And from both a personal and professional perspective. But change can be good. And for a marketing professor who has taught digital marketing for the past decade or so. It has been very good because if you were not focused upon digital marketing in the past, it becomes an imperative now. And fortunately for us. There are plenty of social media platforms and digital marketing opportunities, where we can continue personal branding. So as much as I value and I appreciate being able to see you face to face today, I could also see you face to face through technologies.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dawn Edmiston

And I could also ensure that I'm sharing and communicating my value through digital channels. And in most respects, I can meet, reach far greater number of individuals through digital channels than I ever could through Face-To-Face channels. So once we get past the anxieties that are associated with change, then perhaps we will soon be on the other side.

Ken White

Yeah.

Dawn Edmiston

And we will be excited about the opportunities that exist within this change, especially relative to personal branding and digital marketing channels.

Ken White

I don't know that that newcomers to personal branding, realize how powerful the digital side is until they see someone post maybe something really small in LinkedIn and just see it take off. Thousands and thousands of years.

Dawn Edmiston

Yes, yes.

Ken White

Amazing, isn't it.

Dawn Edmiston

Yes, it is. And people seek those personal connections. And. And again, you and I. I've had the privilege of doing podcasts with you in the past around the power of LinkedIn and personal branding. But when you think of LinkedIn, it's not just a job networking platform. In fact, a few years ago, a very powerful organization named Microsoft purchased LinkedIn because they really wanted access to the individuals that used LinkedIn to understand, gain data insights about these individuals. And so, they worked to create LinkedIn as a professional development platform.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dawn Edmiston

So it's not just focused upon connecting individuals relative to jobs, although that's a very important function, especially in the current environment. But it's also where you can build relationships and powerful relationships. And in fact, I'm often surprised at LinkedIn posts that I make that tend to be more personal, that literally have achieved hundreds of thousands of views.

Ken White

Yeah.

Dawn Edmiston

People are cheering for you. People want you to do well. People want to recognize professional excellence and want to recognize the grit and the grace that we need to work through this world. And LinkedIn is a good place to be able to share those experiences.

Ken White

Yeah, it's not hard to hit a thumbs up, is it?

Dawn Edmiston

No, it is not. Yes. Yes.

Ken White

So you create the value proposition. You get the information that people help you create your brand. You're delivering on that brand promise. And you do want to branch out, as you say and you say digital and social channels is LinkedIn the first place that people should consider.

Dawn Edmiston

It is the first place perhaps people should consider. But it's not the only place.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dawn Edmiston

I do typically use LinkedIn as a starting point. And with Microsoft's acquisition, LinkedIn has become far more robust than it had been. In fact, you're now able to embed videos and projects. And, you know, a decade ago, we might have been encouraging individual students to develop blogs and blog posts.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dawn Edmiston

You can now do that on LinkedIn and have a far greater audience than you might have in the past. So LinkedIn has become a very powerful community. And I find as a professor; it's the way I stay connected with students and alumni as well as individuals with whom I've worked. And I just never underestimate the power of those connections. At this point now, I've been in higher education for more than two decades. There is not a single day that passes that I do not hear from a former student or a professional colleague that LinkedIn has had a positive impact in their lives.

Ken White

Yeah, no doubt.

Dawn Edmiston

And so that that feels good. And I want to be able to share that with others. But again, it's not the only platform.

Ken White

Right.

Dawn Edmiston

And for certain individuals, for example, if you're creative, you might want to have a creative portfolio, although you can embed a link to that creative portfolio on LinkedIn.

Ken White

Yeah.

Dawn Edmiston

You should have an Instagram account. You know, those accounts of social media platforms that are more creative, visual, compelling, or perhaps where you want to focus your efforts. But then LinkedIn can complement those efforts.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Professor Dawn Edmiston in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. If you're thinking about pursuing an MBA, consider William & Mary. Whatever your stage of life, whether you're completing your bachelor's degree or you have 30 years of work experience, the William & Mary MBA will transform you. Four different formats, including the full time, the evening, the online, and the executive. The William & Mary MBA will change and improve the way you think, the way you lead, and the way you live. Just ask any of our alumni. Now back to our conversation on personal branding in the COVID-19 era with Professor Dawn Edmiston.

Ken White

In our gig economy, I've run into so many people that have their job, their career, their vice president of whatever. They're the director of this, but boy, they would love to branch out over here and do something different. How do you do that with your brand and the promotion of your brand when you're more than one thing, and most of us seem to be more than one thing today?

Dawn Edmiston

That is a great question. I just recently contributed to a new book called Go to Market Strategies for Women Entrepreneurs, and women tend to be very active in the gig economy.

Ken White

Yeah.

Dawn Edmiston

So they may have a full-time job. They may care for their families, and then they may have an additional job to help supplement the income to support the family. And in most, if not all instances, your personal brand, to a certain extent, does need to be consistent. You can be a renaissance man or woman, but that brand should still be consistent across those various ventures. So, for example, I would never encourage you to have two LinkedIn profiles. For example, have one LinkedIn profile that captures the essence of who are, your diverse interests, the various organizations in which you are involved. But then you can have multiple company pages that are connected. So you can have a company page for your gig, as well as being connected to the company in which you have your full-time role. And of course, you could have and should have websites and social media platforms that serve different target markets depending on the different gigs you might have.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm

Dawn Edmiston

But relative to your personal brand, it is important to be authentic and do not confuse your personal brand with the products and services that you deliver.

Ken White

That's great advice. I mean, if someone is other audience-centric, their audience-centric, no matter what they do.

Dawn Edmiston

Yes.

Ken White

Right. Yeah, that's interesting because I have people have asked me, what do you think about if I have these two identities out there and what an interesting answer. Yeah. Wow.

Dawn Edmiston

To your point, you have coined the phrase around here, which I love, which is own it, and individuals need to own it. They need to own their personal brand no matter what other brands. That may encompass. But they do need to own their personal brand and then focus on the products and services and the target markets where you want to deliver those products and services. But do those in through channels and through media that are specific to those target markets, but retain that personal brand that continues to provide that authenticity to what you do.

Ken White

You mentioned a little while ago video, and I know you often encourage your students and people you counsel. Try some video and put some real I mean, boy, some of these student projects I've seen, you know, from the MBA students they're putting themselves out there. Can you tell us about some of these video projects you've seen?

Dawn Edmiston

Yes, it is one of the greatest rewards they have for teaching. And for those of you that are listening, you can access the perfect pitch videos that we have created by simply doing a quick search on my name on YouTube. And I have all of the perfect pitch videos there under my channel. And as you said, they are just brilliant.

Ken White

They are.

Dawn Edmiston

And in this current market environment, video is often how we're connecting with one another. We, as humans, are very visual, and we need that. We need those cues and being able to use video to share our emotions, and our experiences are far more relevant and persuasive than simply having that traditional piece of paper that we know as a resumé,

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dawn Edmiston

Important tool, but being able to have this perfect pitch video that explains the value of that resumé is as good as it gets. And so now I encourage my students as well. Not only do they have the perfect pitch videos on YouTube, but embed it into your LinkedIn profile.

Ken White

I've seen them. They've sent them to me.

Dawn Edmiston

Yes.

Ken White

It's incredible.

Dawn Edmiston

Yes.

Ken White

And some of these you think I not I'm not a production expert. Some of these are shot on iPhones. They're edited on iPhones. You'd never know.

Dawn Edmiston

Yes, you do not need to be a professional and to your point. Yes. We have these mobile devices that allow us to do productions that we could have never potentially even considered a decade ago. And people just want to be able to connect with you.

Ken White

Yeah.

Dawn Edmiston

People want to be able to understand your character, your drive. In fact, during the pandemic, I actually cannot count the number of times that I have been contacted by an employer asking for an intern or a new hire. And I've simply sent them LinkedIn profiles of students with the video embedded, encouraging them to watch them. And every single time, those students are hired

Ken White

Yeah.

Dawn Edmiston

and I get comments back from the employer stating how much they enjoyed getting that perspective,

Ken White

Yeah.

Dawn Edmiston

getting that insight, and they're 60 seconds. I think the perfect pitch video is a 60-second video. You need to be clear and concise about your value proposition. And the video allows you to control your message and control the media environment and be able to share that value proposition very effectively.

Ken White

It is such a cool project in watching them to me. I walk away saying, oh, that's what makes that individual tick.

Dawn Edmiston

Yes.

Ken White

That's what makes them differentiated and a little better than maybe another person in that field. It's not even so specific into what they do. Like you said, if you want to have multiple projects, it's that consistency of what you offer. Those come across in the videos. They're so fun and so creative.

Dawn Edmiston

Yes.

Ken White

So, yeah, and once you see someone else do it, you think, well, okay, maybe maybe I could, right.

Dawn Edmiston

And you definitely could. And again, I mean, being able in this environment, you had asked an earlier question about how COVID-19 has changed our lives. And more than ever, we want that connectedness, and we want to be able to share our stories. And video allows us to do just that. So perhaps in addition to LinkedIn, I might also recommend you to have a YouTube channel

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dawn Edmiston

and that would allow you to share experiences that you have in a visual manner that you would not be able to do as well through the LinkedIn platform.

Ken White

Well, that leads me to my next question. We have a few minutes left. What I'd like to do is mention an outlet. And if you would, give us a few words on why that's a good outlet or who that outlet might be good for. And we already talked about LinkedIn. So that's sort of a basic Instagram. Who should consider that? Which professionals?

Dawn Edmiston

Instagram, if you are creative, professional of your visual, professional. If you are an individual that has a very strong brand focus. So if you're not perhaps selling consumer packaged goods, but if you're selling services. Definitely, Instagram is a good visual tool, although I will tell you that there are certain consumer packaged goods like Oreos

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dawn Edmiston

that have done wonders in social media. So, again, very visual tool capture the moment and be able to share it.

Ken White

Twitter.

Dawn Edmiston

Twitter is good for quick conversations. I find Twitter especially effective when you are discussing particular topics or at particular events. I tend to use Twitter more often when I'm even when I'm in virtual events these days. This is how we communicate. This is how we chat. This is how we remain connected. Quick, quick communication tool does not have the staying power relative to messages that LinkedIn does. So that is, but quick connection used whether to drive to other platforms.

Ken White

Blogging.

Dawn Edmiston

Blogging still very powerful, no longer perhaps as necessary to have your own personal blog. But blogs now we have a feature on LinkedIn where you can create and post articles just as you with a blog, embed videos and links and content. And very powerful to be able to share through LinkedIn. But you can also do video blogs. And those have become very compelling as well. And I would encourage individuals. Yes, relative to blogs. And again, in this current market environment, if you're not working, blogs can be a great way to capture what you've been learning or what you'd like to learn more about and share your knowledge with others.

Ken White

For professionals YouTube or Tick-Tock.

Dawn Edmiston

YouTube.

Ken White

Why?

Dawn Edmiston

YouTube because it just happens to be owned by Google, and it's considered by many to be the second-largest search engine in the world. So in marketing, it's all about language. It's all about understanding who you want to reach and speaking their language and using the words that they would use to describe your value proposition. So when you look at a tool like YouTube that has such great searchability, it's important to be there from not only a visual perspective but also from the perspective that you can be searched and found.

Ken White

Right. Is Facebook appropriate for professional?

Dawn Edmiston

It depends. In many entrepreneurial organizations, Facebook is a great place to create more of a close community.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dawn Edmiston

Now, once students graduate, they often connect with me as alumni. And so I have more of a community. You're going to see my dogs, you know, post my animals posted in my Facebook world. You will not have that in LinkedIn. Again, you don't necessarily ever want to post and share in social media images that or words that would be inconsistent with your brand. But I tend to use Facebook for personal purposes. But it can be very effective for building communities and especially for organizations that might be smaller startup organizations. So I would encourage you to have both a Facebook site as well as a LinkedIn profile and a YouTube channel.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm. As we move into, continue to deal with COVID-19 if we if the listener hasn't been doing a whole lot with a personal brand, what's the final message you'd like to share with them as we're moving into the future?

Dawn Edmiston

Now's the time. And when you are thinking about developing your personal brand, you need to be thinking about the value proposition that you can share with others. Very often, when we start to use language, you we start to define ourselves by the positions we've held or the titles that we've been called. And honestly, that's not that important. So if you happen not to be working at the moment and you had to find your personal brand by where you had worked, you know, now is your chance to create your own personal brand and understand what it is that you really want to do and develop language around that and be able to share that with others so that you can start living the life that you had wanted to, perhaps that you might not have even known that you wanted to prior to the pandemic. But this is a really wonderful chance for many of us to hit the reset button and to move forward in a way that we know cannot even imagine before.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Professor Dawn Edmiston. And that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. If you're thinking about pursuing an MBA, pursue one that delivers a transformational experience. The William & Mary MBA four formats the full time, the evening, the online, and the executive MBA. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest Dawn Edmiston, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White, wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Brad Franc
Brad FrancEpisode 137: July 1, 2020
The Succession Solution

Brad Franc

Episode 137: July 1, 2020

The Succession Solution

Seventy percent of all businesses fail to survive past the first generation of business owners. One reason for the failures is the lack of a succession plan. Our guest today says not only should family and closely-held businesses have succession plans, but creating one greatly increases the odds of a successful leadership handoff and a bright future for the business. Brad Franc is the author of "The Succession Solution: The Strategic Guide to Business Transition." He's an attorney, entrepreneur, and business strategist who has helped countless businesses make positive leadership transitions. He joins us today to talk about succession planning and the system he created that guides businesses through this important step.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How is business succession defined
  • What are the different types of succession
  • What does not count as a succession plan
  • How did Brad get into succession planning
  • Why did Brad write his book
  • What are the six stages of succession
  • How long should a success plan take to create
  • The importance of having a template for succession
Transcript

Brad Franc: The Succession Solution TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that help make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host, Ken White. Thanks for listening. Seventy percent of all businesses fail to survive past the first generation of business owners. One reason for the failures is the lack of a succession plan. Our guest today says not only should family and closely-held businesses have succession plans, but creating one greatly increases the odds of a successful leadership handoff and a bright future for the business. Brad Franc is the author of The Succession Solution: The Strategic Guide to Business Transition. He's an attorney, entrepreneur, and business strategist who's helped countless businesses make positive leadership transitions. He joins us on the podcast today to talk about succession planning and the system he created that guides businesses through this important step. Here's our conversation with Brad Franc.

Ken White

Well, Brad, it's nice to see you again. Thanks for joining us and for sharing your time and your expertise with us today.

Brad Franc

Oh, thank you. And I appreciate the opportunity.

Ken White

Let's just jump right into it. Succession. What is that? How do you define it?

Brad Franc

Yeah, that's a great question, because it goes all over the place. The way I view succession it is the preparation, execution, and review of the transfer of either ownership of the company or management of the company. Although I will say this. There are also three types of succession. There is a succession of knowledge. There's a succession of management and ownership. So whether you are trying to teach the next generation how to do things, that's knowledge. Right. But the formal succession planning process is you develop a plan. You execute on that plan. You see how it's going. And then you iterate just like any business does.

Ken White

What is succession not? How do you people sometimes get confused?

Brad Franc

Succession is not your estate plan. Succession is not tax planning. Succession is how do I void my creditors, slash in-laws from getting any of these assets? Those are specific tactics that might come into play with succession. But if someone thinks that their succession plan is found in their will or their power of attorney, the likelihood of a successful transfer is not very high.

Ken White

How did you get into this? What what what what attracted you to succession planning?

Brad Franc

Well, for about 25 years, I've worked with closely held business owners, and I've seen them struggle with the transfer. And I also found there were two camps, Ken. There were the psychiatrist, psychologist that talked about the emotional issues. And then there were the tax lawyers swinging the nine hundred pound tax hammer. And there didn't seem to be any strategic process, thought process. And I brought those two together because they do a lot of strategic planning and some of the business I've run, and I put strategic planning into that process. And remarkably, I found a lot of success with it.

Ken White

Why do so many people struggle? That's the exact work you used was struggle? What? Where's that come from?

Brad Franc

Yeah, there are lots of reasons. But when I was writing the book, it was very interesting as to why people the reason people fail. It really came as a surprise to me. Less than 15 percent of the time, it had to do with taxes or some type of technical planning issue, creating a trust. That wasn't it. Twenty-five percent of the time, it was an ill-prepared successor. The next person is not ready. Right. But 60 percent of the time. 60 percent of the time, there's a failure. It's due to lack of communication and trust. So I am engaged right now, and a telecommunication company that is primarily family control and they can't get on the same page. So it's not that they're bad people, they just can't communicate very well. And so the main reason is communication. There are lots of other reasons, Ken. For instance, the founder doesn't want to give up control. A great line I once heard the CEO of a company told me I'm going to go from he's the man to who's he. A lot of psychology behind it as well.

Ken White

Interesting. Yeah. Way deeper than I think most people think. There's a lot to this, isn't there?

Brad Franc

That's right. That's right. That's why it's it's hard because there are a lot of disciplines that you need to bring to bear in order for this to work, both from a legal tax, accounting, business, talking to the employees. And that's why I believe the process that I've developed at least brings in the lion's share, if not all of those issues, to help formulate a plan.

Ken White

Why did you write the book?

Brad Franc

In law school, one of my law school professors once told me writing is the highest form of thinking. And I thought I had this process down. But I wanted to prove it to myself. I am one of those slow thinkers. And so I wrote the book one to prove it to myself and to help people because I saw so many business owners struggle with this thing. They don't have to engage me. I believe they can take this book and use it to help them with their succession plan.

Ken White

We've got an intelligent audience. The listeners to our podcast get it. They understand business and leadership. And I bet a high percentage of them could write books with about their own area of expertise. But it's tough writing a book. How did you do it? You're busy. I mean, wow. Yeah, a lot of balls in the air. How did you pull it off?

Brad Franc

It is I will not kid you. It is very hard. And another great, great quote I once heard. There are no unrealistic goals, only unrealistic timeframes. And so I thought I could do this in six months to a year. It ended up being a four-year project. And what I did, I disciplined myself to every Saturday, a fair amount of Sunday's sitting down. I created an outline. I thought this is what it looked like. And I took one chapter at a time.  And I think it was Stephen King who said, I write 250 words a day or whatever the case may be. So was one of those situations. I got it in a very rough form. I took it to a retired law school professor as an editor. She ripped it apart from an editorial standpoint, and I probably edited it and reviewed it about 30 times. And then, interestingly, Amazon has a self-publishing process that I think is real handy. Where you can pick and choose how you want to use this promote it market it. And so I went through the Amazon route, and I'm happy to report. I know it sounds a little self-serving, but it was the number one seller on Amazon in four business categories.

Ken White

If you wouldn't have said it, I would. Yeah. It's worth it. All that discipline, it paid off. So congratulations. The book is done well, and it's been a little over a year now.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Brad Franc in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. If you're thinking about pursuing an MBA, consider William & Mary. Whatever your stage of life, whether you're completing your bachelor's degree or you have 30 years of work experience, the William & Mary MBA will transform you. Four different formats, including the full time, the flex, the online, and the executive. The William & Mary MBA will change and improve the way you think, the way you lead, and the way you live. Just ask any of our alumni. Now back to our conversation with the author of The Succession Solution, Brad Franc.

Ken White

In the book, The Succession Solution, you talk about six stages of succession. Let's walk through those. The first one you called purpose. Can you explain that?

Brad Franc

Yeah. Yeah. The purpose stage is getting to the foundational aspect of an organization. What are the principles, the values that make up the company? It becomes the culture. You know, how do you define the culture of the company? Because Ken, there will be disagreements along the way. And if you go back to what are our core fundamental principles? If you can establish that, you can pretty much test any succession plan against that. Then I say, OK, if that's your core principles, where do we want to go? That ultimate vision. Right. Which you'll never get to. But it's way out there. So there's a point of reference. And then if you've got the principles and you know where you want to go. Another question is why. Simon Sinek, you know, getting to why.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm

Brad Franc

If you can answer the why, that gives you the strength to keep going. You know, I once had a business owner, didn't have any family member, but his employees were key. He wanted to make sure the employees were protected. Every time we stumbled, I said, Jim, what's this about? He says, thank you, right. And then I say, what does failure look like? Nothing motivates people like fear. So if we get it wrong. So that's the first stage is the purpose stage.

Ken White

And then you move on to discovery.

Brad Franc

Right. And the example I give is, you know, you got to know where you are to know where you're going to get to. My belief is that if you know where you are, and you know where you want to get to, then you've got the road map. The joke that I give is there's a local mall in our community. And I hate going to the mall, and I don't know where anything is. And so what's the first thing I do when I walk in the mall? I look for that big kiosk for the red dot. Where am I? And that's how we start.  And I find that lots of business owners don't know where they are. There will maybe directing their ownership to a place they don't want to go to. So we kind of do a discovery in that situation. That's the next stage.

Ken White

Interesting. Then after purpose and discovery, you move on to challenge, which sounds like a SWOT analysis to some extent.

Brad Franc

Very good. It's very similar to a SWOT analysis. We have our strengths. There are opportunities. But most importantly, what I believe is another critical part of succession planning is identifying the obstacles. Another great book, The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. And again, I believe if you know where you are, and you know where you want to get to. The only thing that's stopping you is the obstacles. Otherwise, you'd be there. Right? So we have to find those obstacles because that's going to be the jet fuel that we'll use to move us forward.

Ken White

So now that you've identified those obstacles, you move on to the fourth stage, which is mission.

Brad Franc

Right. Again, I keep using quotes, but Bill Gates once said most people overestimate what they can do in a year. They underestimate what they can do in five. So I say to a business owner, hey, look, let's not worry about tomorrow. If we're sitting here three years from today, what would you like to see have happen with respect to your succession plan? Oh, that's easy. Three years it's so far. It gives them a little more. It removes some of the anxiety. So we list those things we want to do in three years. The obstacles we're gonna run into and the action steps we're going to take to overcome those obstacles.

Ken White

I could see that relieving the heat and the stress because three years does seem like quite a ways away, doesn't it?

Brad Franc

That's right, that's right.

Ken White

Yeah. Then it's on to the annual review.

Brad Franc

So the natural progression is, if this is what we want to do in three years, what do we want to do over the next 12 months? And once again, what are the action steps? Where do we need to watch that two by four that's going to come and hit us in the head? Right. Whether that's a family member, whether it's a key employee, whatever the case may be, we have to tackle this because these obstacles, they don't go away. Right. And so, you know, as I like to also say, you know when you start with truth and honesty, that's when you can make progress. So that's what we do. And we look at over the next 12 months.

Ken White

And then, the final step is the quarterly review.

Brad Franc

That's right. And so, you know, what we're trying to do is limited to three or four action steps. We want to do in the next 90 days. What's the saying? If you want to improve something, measure it. If you want to improve something exponentially, measure it, and report out. So what we do is we assign three or four tasks to a particular person. They don't have to do the work. They are accountable for showing up and reporting on the status. I like to say a plan without action is nothing but a dream, and action without a plan is nothing but a nightmare. So when I work with owners and I tell people this, don't do this unless you're willing to execute on the plan. Too many times, plans don't get executed. If you have a 90-day report in, then the likelihood of success increases.

Ken White

How long, and this may be an unfair question. How long does it generally take when you're working with someone?

Brad Franc

Ken, I normally ask people, don't hire me unless they're willing to work throughout the year meeting every 90 days? Because I believe it's usually around the third meeting. People like, oh, I see how it going first meeting your trying to figure things out. The second meeting, we're putting a little more to it. But normally it takes about a year. Can you do it quicker? You can. But the likelihood of failure increases. So that's normally what the process consists of.

Ken White

But in the mission stage, you've got the three-year goal. Can it also go that long as well?

Brad Franc

That's right. I mean, and what I find is people will ask me to come back, but I can, as I like to say, I can take the training wheels off, and they can work themselves. So I'll normally check-up every six months to a year if we have a continuing relationship.

Ken White

You and I talked earlier, long before we recorded, and you said, yes, my book, great. But find some template if you don't adopt yours. Right. That template, that game plan is important here, isn't it?

Brad Franc

You know, there in my research for my book, Ken, there was another book that looked at thirty-five hundred family businesses worldwide. And that was the one thing that they said where success was found, that they found the family business, where the business owners, family business found a process. And so it doesn't have to be my process, although I think it works. It can be anybody's process and stick to it.

Ken White

Now, you bring a business background. You bring a legal background. If someone is seeking help, what should they look for in someone who's going to guide them?

Brad Franc

Yes. I mean, I do think, unfortunately, it's multifaceted, and not everybody can do it. And that's why I think when you have the proverbial nine hundred pound tax hammer, you don't have that perspective. So I would look for a business owner that's been through the process or a consultant that's been through the process. I mean, I'm not suggesting you need to have all the background that I have, but maybe someone who has done it several times, that have seen various permutations, I tell people I'm much smarter than you. I just have seen this a hundred times, and I can bring that experience to bear.

Ken White

Is it an emotional process? A rewarding process? What's it like by the time it's all said and done?

Brad Franc

Yeah, know, that's a great question. It's a scary process because sometimes you go in the room and there are some angry people. It is extremely rewarding one at this end of the day you've actually helped people. And it is it's that's what drives me, is to help the business owner. You know, we all have our skill sets are unique abilities. And I just like working with business owners and helping.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Brad Franc, the author of The Succession Solution, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. If you're thinking about pursuing an MBA, pursue one that delivers a transformational experience, the William & Mary MBA. Four format's The Full Time, the evening or Flex, the Online, and the Executive MBA. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest Brad Franc, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White, wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Bob Williams & Brian Baines
Bob Williams & Brian BainesEpisode 136: June 9, 2020
Civil Unrest & the CEO

Bob Williams & Brian Baines

Episode 136: June 9, 2020

Civil Unrest and the CEO

It's been over a week since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Protests and demonstrators have taken place in cities across America. Business leaders and CEOs have responded in different ways. For example, the CEOs of Target, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Lowe's, Apple, and Google were among the first CEOs to speak out following the nation-wide civil unrest. Other CEOs have remained silent. How should business leaders and CEOs respond? What roles and responsibilities does the CEO have in this case? We asked two of our colleagues from the William & Mary School of Business to share their expertise. First, Professor Bob Williams. He's a former longtime business leader and executive who now teaches leadership. Second Brain Baines. He's the business school's senior Human Resources partner - the Chief HR Officer. They join us to share their experience and thoughts regarding the ways CEOs should respond in difficult times.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How has the expectation of the CEO outside of business changed throughout the years
  • How has technology changed the role of the CEO
  • Do customers and employees want to hear from the CEO during times of civil unrest
  • What kind of message should a CEO convey to customers and employees
  • What actions should senior leadership take to address diversity and inclusion
  • Are monetary donations enough to effect change
  • How should CEOs use social media to distribute their message
  • What should a CEO avoid saying during times of civil unrest
  • How important is getting the message right the first time
  • Should CEOs worry about offending customers
Transcript

Bob Williams & Brian Baines: Civil Unrest and the CEO TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that help make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host, Ken White. Thanks for listening. It's been over a week since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Protests and demonstrations have taken place in cities across America. Business leaders and CEOs have responded in different ways. For example, the CEOs of Target, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Lowes, Apple, and Google were among the first CEOs to speak out following the nationwide civil unrest. Other CEOs have remained silent. How should business leaders and CEOs respond? What roles and responsibilities does the CEO have in this case? Well, we asked two of our colleagues from the William & Mary School of Business to share their expertise. First, Professor Bob Williams. He's a former longtime business leader and executive who now teaches leadership. Second Brian Baines, he's the business school’s senior human resources partner, the chief H.R. officer. They join us to share their experience and thoughts regarding the ways CEOs should respond in difficult times. Here's our conversation with Bob Williams and Brian Baines.

Ken White

Bob, Brian, thanks so much for sharing your time. We appreciate you being on the podcast. The first time for Brian but Bob, you've been on before, but thanks. Thanks very much to both of you for sharing your time and expertise with us today.

Brian Baines

Happy to be here.

Bob Williams

Glad to be here.

Ken White

Bob, you spent a number of years in the C Suite, and when you started in business, CEOs weren't really expected to address issues outside of the business. Am I right in that? And has that changed over the past few years?

Bob Williams

Yeah, I think it changed a lot. And I think you've characterized it well. I think the thing that's really been changed now with this advance, which is a blending of technology. You know, when guys like Jobs walked out onto the San Francisco stage, and I think it was 2009 showed that the iPhone really what he was telling is that everybody knows everything at the same time. And that was not characteristic of corporations and regardless of your size prior to that.  But now, with the movement of just your thumbs, you blow away any kind of insular material that might protect CEOs or protect senior management people from what is basically the truth of the situation. And that changed the role, the role of the C Suite, I think.

Ken White

Polarizing topics like the one we've been experiencing for the last eight, ten days. Should a CEO step up and say something to customers and employees and the general public, Bob?

Bob Williams

Yeah, I think they're obligated to do that. I think if and of course, I need to be very open about my position on something like that. I say that, but I think there's a lot of good things that are going on, and this is going to continue into this movement of diversity and inclusion. It is dramatic when you look at these crowds, for example, the death of this young man. Watch the MSNBC or FOX or CNN, and you see African-Americans. You see, Asians use the occasion. You see them supporting one another. This is really powerful and very important. And I don't think CEOs can do that because it's a reflection not to comment on that, because it is a reflection of their employee base in many cases. This is really important; we are in a reflection point on this.

Ken White

Brian, as the chief human resource manager. Do you want your CEO to speak up and speak out now?

Brian Baines

Definitely. We have a lot of employees and customers who are interested in knowing where a company stands in support and solidarity with people who are being affected by this. We have black and brown people, as the subject is right now, who are hurting, and they're not okay. We're going to work every day, and we're keeping on a smile because that's what's expected. But we need to know that our company stands behind us.

Ken White

Is there anything specific other than what you just said that a CEO can be saying right now is something as simple as we are thinking about you, we are behind you. Is that enough?

Brian Baines

Well, I think it needs to be a stronger message. I think that message needs to be it's not tolerated that, you know, we, in effect, are appreciative of the efforts of all people, but are brown people, are black people, those who are being affected at this moment. We stand behind them, and we support their efforts to seek equality and to seek, you know, basic human rights.

Bob Williams

Can I jump in on that?

Ken White

Yeah, please.

Bob Williams

I couldn't agree more with Brian's comment on that. I would add to this, you know, you could write some of the box and some of the reactions that many CEOs now go to the broadcast media with and television media and other forms of communication. I mean, you could write it easily because so many of them have said, you know, this is regrettable, this should not happen, et cetera, et cetera. But I don't think that's enough. I think what the CEOs of the senior management. So these companies have to do is say, look, I'm going to audit my task force. I've got to sit down with my H.R. director. I'm going to find out what our diversity quotient looks like. I'm got to find out how we decide on promoting people. I'm going to look at pay. I'm going to this whole movement, Ken, I think, is overlapping with this whole issue of diversity and inclusion. And CEOs and senior-level people have to stand up and say; I'm taking it further than just telling you. And they're right in saying this. I think you have to show empathy. But they have to go further than that now. People are looking for action. They're not looking for just a gauze to cover something like this. So I think CEOs need to really take a look with their human resource people and say, look, are we living to what the words are here? And if we're not, let's change things.

Ken White

It has been interesting to read through that because some are not saying anything. I'm sorry, Brian. Go ahead. What were you thinking?

Brian Baines

Yeah, I was going to agree with Bob there. You know, they need to look at the dynamics of their organizations and put together teams that are directly responsible for looking at, as Bob mentioned, diversity and inclusion and how the culture affects the people in your organization and start to make changes because, yes, the words are hollow without the action, the words are what are needed upfront. But then we have to effectively put a plan together and do things to make a change.

Ken White

And many of the words are, you know, it's frustrating to read some of them. Some of them are saying nothing. They're just statements. And you feel like saying, oh, you just wanted to be on social media. You just wanted to be included where there's others who are McDonald's, for example, throwing money. They're saying here; we're actually going to take money we're going to work with the NAACP, we're going to make donations here. We're moving things forward. What do you say, Bob, to that CEO who is a little reluctant to say something concrete?

Bob Williams

I think writing checks is good. I think cash is good. It's what the engine is that's going to allow you to make this big change maybe a little faster because you have the resources that you need. But I don't think that's enough either. I think you have to its behavior. We're talking about behavior here. I think that what we're going to have to look at is the culture of these companies. We've done all the right things in quotes. We've done all the right things. But have we actually lived our words? And that's a cultural thing, the way we do things around here if you use that as the definition of a culture is what has to be investigated, audited, looked at and changed if it's necessary to change.

Ken White

Some of those changes take time. And in a social media world, people are looking for quick results. So how do you communicate that Bob, that this is a longer-term strategy as opposed to I can give you something tomorrow?

Bob Williams

That's a key. That's a key point. On the one hand, the thing that social media has done is you can no longer obscure the truth and the reality of what employees are living in. It happens quickly, and it's so transparent. If CEOs and C Suite people want to really make a difference, they will use that to their advantage. They will use social media and the way they communicate. You use the word community. That is so key. The two words that are important in times like this for businesses, I think are communicate and collaborate. You have got to involve the employees in the changes that you make to make diversity and inclusion work the way they're supposed to work. You have to listen to these people that are in the streets, the people that are in your company. You have to establish two-way communications, which really with this technology is one of the great advantages is that you can have a discussion and not be there, but you can have the discussion. And that's something that's a tool which should be using.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Bob Williams and Brian Baines of William & Mary in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. If you're thinking about pursuing an MBA, consider William & Mary whatever stage of your life, whether you're completing your bachelor's degree or you have 30 years of work experience. William & Mary School of Business offers MBA programs that will transform you, four different programs, including the full time, the flex, the online, and the executive. The William & Mary MBA will change and improve the way you think, the way you lead, and the way you live. Just ask any of our alumni. Now back to our conversation with Bob Williams and Brian Baines.

Ken White

Brian, if the CEO comes to your counterpart, the head of H.R., and says this is the message I want to send out to the employees. What don't you want the CEO to say? What is something? Is there anything they should avoid saying at this point in time?

Brian Baines

Yeah, I think so. And actually, the Harvard Business Review published the article, I think it's called U.S. Businesses Must Take Meaningful Action Against Racism. And they actually gave some good topics. But from my personal perspective, depending on who you are as a CEO, avoid saying, you understand because you don't understand. I am a black male, and I don't understand everybody's perspective. Everyone's experiences aren't like mine. And that's not to say that I have a better, you know, perspective than anyone else. That's just to say the things that I have had to go through in life are not as harsh as those that some other people's people have. So it's about letting people know that you hear what they're saying, that you want a better understanding and that you are looking to make a change. CEOs are a large group, and I'm sure many of them communicate with each other. So they have counterparts, and they can reach out to and get some thoughts on how to properly express their feelings. Many of them have communication specialists to help them write information out that will be suitable. But at the same time, they have to make sure that it is coming from the heart, that it's just not words on paper. They have to put a little bit of their self into the words that they write. But also, at the same time, stay away from things that can be even more polarizing and fan the flames of what's going on right now.

Ken White

With that said, and I'll ask both of you this and kind of put you on the spot. But is there a channel that's more one channel more appropriate than another channel in terms of who should it be? Email to employees. Should it be a video from the CEO to employees? Normally we can walk the halls. We can't do that right now. Mostly speaking, generally speaking. What's a good delivery? What's a good delivery tool or media channel for an important message like this to employees?

Bob Williams

I think it's all of those things. I think senior-level people need to walk around. They need to do what they can in terms of contacting their employees. If that's by video, if that's by email, if that's by giving them a voice on Zoom, they should do it, and they shouldn't do it once and not say, see, I did that. They should do that on a consistent, frequent basis. They should, to Brian's point, form task groups of employees and let their ideas flow to the CEOs and to the C suite and then not let them die. Use those communication vehicles and say to them, look, we heard from this task force. These were follow. These following things are problems. I want to share with you that this idea is not one I totally agree with, but this idea is awesome. This idea is something that we are going to work on. And you keep that dialogue going through all media, not just through a singular media because what we're watching is a lack of communication. I mean, Martin Luther King said it beautifully. And I heard this one of the commentators that was covering the Atlanta gathering's followed a gathering. And it wasn't a riot. It was just a group of people expressing their First Amendment rights. But he's quoted Martin Luther King when he said when you watch something like this or you were involved in something like this, you are watching the unheard finding a voice. And I thought that's just a great capture. And if you're going to answer that voice, you've got to do it through every medium at your disposal. 

Brian Baines

Right.

Ken White

Brian, from the H.R. standpoint, what about the channels to reach employees?

Brian Baines

From an H.R. standpoint, you have to understand the demographics of your employees because not everyone is going to receive information the same way. Some people aren't on email. Some people are text message people. Some people are actual hard copy to the home letter people. So you have to employ those multiple mediums in order to get the message out. And like Bob said, you have to say it more than once. But what's important is that the first time you say it right. Because there are no new take backs. Any apologies you make after the statement that you initially put out are just they fall on deaf ears, people, you lost the confidence of your people once you put out a statement that harms more than helps. And, you know, it's very important that they speak up. CEOs and company heads speak up because what people will tend to do is see the silence as acceptance of what's going on. And that's something that they definitely want to stay away from. Of course, there are people on both sides of the issue. There's always going to be people on both sides of the issue. But you want to take the approach of deciding which side the company is going to be on. Yeah, you may lose some customers or whatever down the way, but take Nike, for example. About a year ago, they put out a statement or rather a ad using Colin Kaepernick that had lots of people upset, burning the Nike products and things like that that they own. But also at the same time, they saw an increase in profits. So for those you lose, you probably will gain more people, or you may gain more people buying multiple products of yours or utilizing your services more often. So, you know, be on the right side of it is what you have to do. And that's the message that I think they have to get out and again through as many different avenues as they can.

Bob Williams

I think to the generations that companies are dealing with now from a recruitment standpoint, of an employee standpoint are different than they were, say, ten years ago, not only because of the fact but because of the way they feel about value. So if you're worried about offending a customer because your communication maybe not what they want to hear, I would say don't let that be a barrier to communicating. I would say, look, people are looking at value and more than just tradeoff between cost and price. They're saying, do I want to do business with this organization because of what it believes? So for a CEO to be put off and fearful that they'll offend somebody that's in their customer base. I think they need to get over that. I think what they need to say, well, what do I stand for? Does it have value? And if it has value, my customers will respect the fact that my company thinks this way. You can see it in the environmental movement. You can see it in sustainability. There are people in this generation, young people that won't do business with people and companies that don't respect the environment that don't respect sustainability. I think the same thing is true about human resources and human relations. People want to be respected. They want to be treated with equity and with fairness. And companies that are very good at communicating that they are doing that and they're serious about making that kind of a thing live are going to benefit from the customer base. They're not going to be threatened by it.

Brian Baines

Yeah, people have to take a tough look at their company if they're not making a statement. I've actually asked people on my personal network to explore new opportunities if their companies are refusing to make a statement and take a stand on this. You know because, again, people who are most affected by this, that is, in essence, saying that, you know, we're not here for you. Whether it's true or not, the lack of a voice from the company is harmful to the populations that work inside that organization.

Bob Williams

Right.

Brian Baines

That may be the next George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery or Breonna Taylor or one of the many other people who have lost their lives or been harmed through injustice.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Bob Williams and Brian Baines. And that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. If you're thinking about pursuing an MBA, pursue one that offers a transformational experience. Check out the MBA programs at William & Mary, the full time, the flex, the online, and the executive. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guests Bob Williams and Brian Baines, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White, wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Rajiv Kohli
Rajiv KohliEpisode 135: April 27, 2020
COVID-19: Returning to Normal

Rajiv Kohli

Episode 135: April 27, 2020

COVID-19: Returning to Normal

After several weeks of social distancing, virtual meetings, and shelter in place, most people are ready to go back: Back to work, back to their favorite restaurant, and back to normal. While we're ready, we don't know how long it will take, and what it will take before we can return to normal. Rajiv Kohli is the John N. Dalton Professor of Business at William & Mary. He's a leading scholar in health information technology and a healthcare expert. For over 15 years he's worked and consulted with several healthcare organizations. Kohli says before we can return to our pre-pandemic lives, certain events must take place. He joins us on the podcast to discuss what needs to happen in order for us to return to life as we knew it.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What is the first step to getting back to normal
  • Why testing is so important
  • What is the most important preventative item someone can have
  • How long do we need to practice social distancing
  • What will a return to work look like
  • When will a vaccine be available
  • Which generation will adopt social confidence more easily
  • The negative effect of misinformation
  • How will regular life change after the pandemic
Transcript

Rajiv Kohli: Covid-19: Returning to Normal TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host, Ken White. Thanks for listening. Well, after several weeks of social distancing, virtual meetings, and shelter in place, most people are ready to go back, back to work, back to their favorite restaurant, and back to normal. But while we're ready, we don't know how long it'll take and what it will take before we can return to normal. Rajiv Kohli is the John N. Dalton Professor of Business at William & Mary. He's a leading scholar in health information technology and a health care expert. For over 15 years, he's worked and consulted with several health care organizations. Kohli says before we can return to our pre-pandemic lives, certain events must take place. He joins us on the podcast to discuss what needs to happen in order for us to return to life as we knew it. Here's our conversation with Dr. Rajiv Kohli.

Ken White

Rajiv, thanks for taking time to join us. I hope you're well and hope your family's well.

Rajiv Kohli

Thank you, Ken. Everything is going well. Thank you for having me.

Ken White

Yeah, well, you know, if we all agree to be conscientious citizens and I know a lot of people are. Wearing the masks, staying at home, washing our hands, practicing social distancing, that's great. But it's not enough. You say a number of things have to take place in order for us to get back to normal—things like testing.

Rajiv Kohli

Yes, testing is really the first step. That is what tells us where we are. That's like the inventory of the disease itself. So testing is very important for a number of reasons. First, we have to know who needs help. Second, testing helps us understand where the disease is located and who do we have to isolate. Or we have to self-isolate. It also is a measure of making sure that people who need help get help where they need help. And then it also gives confidence to other people saying that I know where the disease is and where it's not, and then I can continue with my normal routine. So, I see testing is really the first step to know what is going on.

Ken White

Right now, we're using 14-day isolation that that's just not cutting it right.

Rajiv Kohli

No, 14-day isolation is NATO's test, if you will, where we are saying we don't have a proper test. We'll let the nature tell us who has the disease, who does not. The trouble with that Ken is that thirty percent or so of the people who have the COVID-19 are asymptomatic, meaning they do not show symptoms, and they are walking around without knowing that they have the disease, and they may be spreading. So, by the time you find out up the 14-day period, they may have already spread that.

Ken White

You say we need to treat people who are very sick nationally and hot spots. Are we able to do that as a nation now?

Rajiv Kohli

Yeah, so that's really the second step along with the testing part is that after we find out that who has the coronavirus, they need help. Unfortunately, a percentage of those will be very sick and they will need help. Hospitals are prepping themselves for taking care of these patients with ventilators, ICU's and train staff I might add, in addition to the equipment, we need people who are able to provide care and use that equipment to answer your question. That's kind of spotty. Some places are saying that their numbers are manageable, meaning that they're not seeing a big surge. But we know other places like New York or Washington State, and increasingly a few other places in the country are seeing the kind of surge that they were worried about. Also, as of now, I think we are still kind of behind the eight ball in terms of having proper equipment, and that includes ventilators, personal protective equipment, things like sanitizers, masks, which is for the common public, a very important piece of this puzzle that helps us stay safe.

Ken White

Yeah, you said that was sort of step three was making sure that the public has preventative equipment. That's a bit of an issue, isn't it?

Rajiv Kohli

That's correct. So, step three is the public being protected, knowing who has the coronavirus, who does not, and then making sure that if we do come in touch with them or do, we interact with them, that we are protected. And the simplest and perhaps the most effective way is for everyone to have a personal mask, a disposable one, many of them. Each time they go out, they should have a new mask that they use, so and we don't have enough of those. On Amazon, the delivery period could be anywhere from three to four weeks, and they should be easily accessible. So, when I talk about the testing and the masks and PPE, what I also am implying in that is that not only are they available, but they're easily accessible to people. They don't have to go hunt for it. They don't have to go wait for it. So, can I get my mask, have them delivered tomorrow morning? If they are available, then we are in good shape.

Ken White

Yeah. You and I were talking the other day. We ordered masks in our family several weeks ago. They're supposed to come today. We're recording on Friday. Right before you and I logged on. I looked out the window, and a FedEx truck rolled up. And I'm really hoping it's that and not another delivery from Ulta or something that my daughter has ordered. So, fingers crossed.

Rajiv Kohli

How long-ago Ken did you order those?

Ken White

Ten days.

Rajiv Kohli

Okay, so that's not too bad.

Ken White

No.

Rajiv Kohli

But I would like it to be available overnight if I wanted them.

Ken White

Right. And like a lot of families, we created our own homemade masks, not knowing if they're any good. So, we're looking forward to the actual medical masks that we'd like to use for sure. You say the next step is social distancing must continue.

Rajiv Kohli

Yes. Social distancing is something that we've been practicing in a number of ways by self-quarantine. And when we do come face to face with someone, we stand across the street and have a conversation. It should continue because that is really our way of defending us and others that we are working with. That in case I am one of the 30 percent asymptomatic individuals who has COVID-19 but does not show any symptoms. So, we are protecting ourselves, each other from that disease. So that will continue and will have to continue. And I think it will become part of our day to day interactive behavior when we meet with other sort of like, you know, when you and I have a cold and I see you in a meeting, I said, Ken, I'm not going to shake your hand because I have you know, I have the sniffles. I think that will become more ingrained in our day to day lives, at least in the near future, where we will say just to be safe, let's keep this distance.

Ken White

Yeah, it was I just read a piece this morning on the Office of the Future, and everything was spread out, no doubt. Desks were spread out, doorways, and so forth.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Professor Rajiv Kohli of William & Mary in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. If you're thinking about pursuing an MBA, consider William & Mary. Whatever your stage of life, whether you're completing your bachelor's degree or you have 30 years of work experience. William & Mary School of Business offers MBA programs that will transform you. Four different programs, including the Full-Time, Flex, Online, and Executive MBA. The William & Mary MBA will change and improve the way you think, the way you lead, and the way you live. Just ask any of our alumni. Now back to our conversation with Rajiv Kohli.

Ken White

Yeah, the next step you said, we'll probably see a rolling return to work.

Rajiv Kohli

Yes. The way I see the question is always, when will this be over?

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Rajiv Kohli

And then when we get back to work or the things that we were doing in our normal lives. I see this as a rolling return to work in the sense that there will be. Let's say if you were divided into four weeks, the first week, there will be essential people who need to be at work, will be at work, who are probably going to work once or twice a week right now, but they'll go on a daily basis and then followed by those individuals who have the option to work from home or would be more effective if they're at their desk. So that'd be the second wave. The third way will be people who were working from home could work from home, but they missed the interaction, and they are needed. And then finally, I think it will be the last quartile will be people who are a little bit more cautious who could do without being physically at work. And they will probably see three-quarters of their colleagues that say it's working for them. I'll get back to work too. I miss the interaction?

Ken White

Interesting. So, we need a 24-hour turnaround testing. We have to be able to treat people who are sick. We need the preventative equipment. Social distancing must continue when work returns. We'll do it on a rolling basis. But when you and I were talking the other day, you were saying the goal still remains we need a vaccine.

Rajiv Kohli

Absolutely. That is the final goal. But we know that in the best of cases, the vaccine is about twelve months away, and that is when everything goes well. Some of the previous experiences of vaccines had been years before they were properly tested and the trials were done, and they were deemed to be safe because one of the things that the medical community is very worried about is in the rush, as serious as this is, to get the vaccine to the public. They don't do more harm than they prevent the disease from spreading. Also, they will be absolutely sure before they will release that. And that estimate is about a year. Until that time, all the things that you described Ken are things that we will have to practice at different levels of our daily routines until we have the vaccine. And then it will be sort of like dealing with the annual flu.

Ken White

Yeah, so even when we all do go back, it will still be a very different place. And different interaction with one another.

Rajiv Kohli

It will be and one of the things that will determine that is what I call social confidence. Social confidence is a level of assurance that an individual must-have. And it's a kind of a conversation we have with ourselves by absorbing all the information around us. And we say to ourselves; I'm looking around, I'm not seeing any really bad cases. I'm seeing people actually leave the hospital. I had the conversation with my physician, and she's beginning to see patients. Life is kind of getting back to normal. And then that will give me the confidence to say, yeah, I can now interact in my social circle. But it also has the possibility that can swing the other way. If something comes on the news, you hear something in your local community, something bad happened. You know, somebody was didn't fit the profile of a high-risk patient had a serious illness and had to be in ICU. People will regress a little bit, and it will it'll take a toll on their confidence. So that is not so much based on the resources of testing and PPE and masks, and things like that we talked about that is more of a confidence that comes from inside, and that is dependent on what's happening around us.

Ken White

You see, a generation is playing a role in social confidence. I'm guessing younger folks might have a little more confidence then say someone who's older.

Rajiv Kohli

Yes, I see that already in my two kids who are in their 20s, they are a little more confident than us. They are a little more antsy and itchy to get out to see their friends. But I'm also seeing something that is very positive among the younger generation is that while they want to go out and they feel more confident from all the news reports that this is something that affects people who have underlying conditions, I'm very pleased that they are also very considerate. As I was talking to one of my colleagues who has two sons in their 20s on East Coast and West Coast, and I was asking them, are they home? And he said, no. They wanted to come home. We wanted them to come home. But they said, for your sake, mom and dad, we have got to stay where we are.

Ken White

Wow.

Rajiv Kohli

So that is also a good thing among the younger generation that while they are confident, they are being very considerate for other people who may not be at such a low risk as they are.

Ken White

Yeah, that's fantastic. You know you touched on one of the issues. There's so much conflicting information out there. Did you have any suggestions, any recommendations? Where in the world do people go?

Rajiv Kohli

Yeah. So that is one of my pet peeves. And each time I see something on TV or somebody in my own family talking about, I saw this on Facebook or I saw that on WhatsApp. And unfortunately, some of our leaders as well give us conflicting information. I squirm every time I see that because this sounds like an exaggeration Ken that the bad information that we tell someone that oh I read this on Facebook or what's happened and I saw this, I heard somebody say this. Is almost as bad as the contagion itself. So, the virus spreads. But we are also spreading misinformation, oftentimes not purposefully, but just because we read something. So, I tell the people that share or try to share misinformation, what I consider misinformation without a proper attribution from a good source

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Rajiv Kohli

not to talk about it, not to spread it, because it's very difficult to reel it back in once you spread that information. So, to answer your question, yes, we don't have one reliable source that people all people go to. Yes, we do have reliable sources like the CDC and the scientists. But there is also conflicting information coming from our politicians among people that we should trust otherwise. I would like people to be very careful about information that they consume and information that they share with others unless they can be sure that it came from a reliable source. And then, too, I would say, well, this is what I read at this source so they can verify it.

Ken White

So, all in all, if the steps you had talked about take place and we get there, we it'll end, so to speak, we'll get back it'll just a little bit different.

Rajiv Kohli

Yes, it will be quite different. And we are not even talking about the business side and the sociological side that will be different, there will be a lot of new changes, that we will see new developments. Many of them will be positive developments. We will see a greater use of technology. We will see different processes of how we interact. So, for example, I become a big fan of Instacart. So, I think we are going to keep it after all of this is over, because I think that's a great service. And I can use that time to be more productive in other ways. And I think similarly, people are going to discover new ways of doing things. I'm imagining a lot of telehealth, or mobile health will be people will be more comfortable with that. Yes, there are issues we'll have to address of security and privacy and all of that. So, yes, there will be a lot of changes, but I think we'll come through this. We will get back to life as we knew it slightly different. But we will be able to continue to do what we were doing and be more productive. I just worry about people who are trying to short circuit the process by jumping these steps that we just talked about.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Professor Rajiv Kohli, and that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. If you're thinking about pursuing an MBA, pursue one that offers a transformational experience. Check out the MBA programs at William & Mary, the Full-Time, the Flex, the Online, and the Executive. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest Rajiv Kohli, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White, wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Dr. Kelly Crace
Dr. Kelly CraceEpisode 134: March 24, 2020
COVID-19 & Your Mental Health

Dr. Kelly Crace

Episode 134: March 24, 2020

COVID-19 & Your Mental Health

Everywhere you turn, you're hearing and reading more about coronavirus: Testing kits, the number of cases, quarantines, the effects to the economy and the stock market, universities and schools going online, people working from home. It's clearly the top-of-mind issue and new territory for everyone. Managing your thoughts and emotions during this unprecedented disruption will have a great effect on your attitude, outlook, and overall mental health. Dr. Kelly Crace is a licensed psychologist. He's Associate Vice President for Health and Wellness and Director of the Center for Mindfulness and Authentic Excellence at William & Mary. He joins us today to explain how you can not only manage but flourish in this time of change.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • Why does change and uncertainty cause stress
  • What does it mean to flourish in times of uncertainty
  • How can one use fear to flourish
  • What is the difference between effective vs ineffective worry
  • Why rushing to feel calm can be counter-productive
  • How to create a sense of meaning during unprecedented times
  • The importance of checking in on oneself as well as others
  • How to keep from feeling that what's possible is what's probable
  • Why it's important to moderate methods of soothing
  • How to find proper methods of self-care
  • Why struggle can be a healthy challenge
  • What William & Mary is doing to address mental wellness
Transcript

Dr. Kelly Crace: COVID-19 & Your Mental Health TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host, Ken White. Thanks for listening. Well, everywhere you turn, you're hearing and reading more about coronavirus, testing kits, the number of cases, quarantines, the effects to the economy, and the stock market, universities, and schools going online, people working from home. It's clearly the top of mind issue and new territory for everyone. Well, managing your thoughts and emotions during this unprecedented disruption will have a great effect on your attitude, outlook, and overall mental health. Dr. Kelly Crace is a licensed psychologist. He's Associate Vice President for Health and Wellness and Director of the Center for Mindfulness and Authentic Excellence at William & Mary. He joins us today to explain how you can not only manage, but flourish in this time of change. Here's our conversation with Dr. Kelly Crace.

Ken White

Kelly, thank you very much for joining us. Greatly appreciate your time.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Thanks, Ken. It's always an honor and pleasure to be a part of the series, as well as to spend a little more time with you. So thank you.

Ken White

Well, you know, before we start talking about the topic, we have always done face to face interviews. We've never relied on technology. So you and I sort of face to face. We see each other on Zoom, but we're recording it this way. And I have a feeling we'll be doing several podcasts in the future this way until things that I get back to normal. But thank you very much. The unprecedented times. Right? And these are stressful times. Why do change and uncertainly, uncertainty like this cause us stress?

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yeah, it's you know, there's kind of different layers. There's kind of this universal human layer that's kind of a part of all of our minds, our brain. Then there's a personal level and kind of a cultural level. At all levels, our brain processes change as stressful because, with change, you're always leaving something. Something is now different that you are leaving, and by leaving it, it was known. So it's moving from something that was known into something different. And there's always uncertainty with where we're moving. So that our brain processes that as both loss and fear, the loss of what you're leaving, and the fear of what is uncertain ahead of you. And so that's stressful. It doesn't necessarily mean bad stress. Even the most positive changes are stressful at some level. But then if you add on to that an unwanted change or an unexpected change, we're kind of this universal chronic level of uncertainty such as this pandemic. It just heightens that sense of stress even more. And then you have the personal level. You know, some people kind of get excited by change. And some people really like for things to be the same. They don't want to change. So there's this personal level of how we react to it. And then there's a cultural level. We come from various cultures where we may come from a culture where change has always been threatening and has had awfulness attached to it. And then there are cultures where change has been a positive thing. So all of that matters in how we think of this particular uncertain time that's ahead of us.

Ken White

Interesting that you mentioned personal level. We've had a number of virtual town hall meetings with our students so over the past few days and how some are looking at this. Yeah, as really positive. This is exciting. Let's see. Let's see what happens. And others a little less tentative or a little more tentative, rather. Yeah, which is understandable. And your work, you say we can flourish through this unwanted uncertainty by considering the work of wellness and resilience. And you've spelled out some steps. Can we walk through those steps that students and working adults can focus on?

Dr. Kelly Crace

Absolutely. And remember kind of how we have always defined flourishing as we define flourishing as a consistent level, not a perfect level, but a consistent level of productivity and fulfillment and resilience. So you feel like you're doing good work. You find meaning in that work, and you find yourself to be resilient to the hardness of that work. So that's kind of really what we're focusing on when we think about flourishing.

Ken White

And through the change, we want to stay consistent as well.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Absolutely.

Ken White

Right.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Absolutely.

Ken White

So one of the things you had laid out, is you say, fear has its place. What do you mean by that?

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yeah, I think during these times, it's important to remember kind of the utility of fear and the function of fear. Fear is essentially a it can be a very healthy emotion because it's designed to protect us from hurt. It's a level of awareness that we have developed over evolution and over our lives of this sense that something bad or something hurtful could happen. Fear has its place here because there is a lot of uncertainty. This is new. This is unprecedented. This is a global issue that is causing all of us to kind of wonder and worry. And so I think worry has its place. It's not I don't think it's healthy for us to kind of try to convince ourselves to not be worried, because our wisdom is kind of poking at us saying well you do kind of have something to worry about. There's uncertainty here, and you could get hurt. You know that that possibility is there. So the difference is effective versus ineffective worry. Effective worry is being able to listen to your worry and fear and then act in a healthy way so it can be motivational. It can motivate me to take this seriously. It can motivate me to be informed. It can motivate me to learn. What does what is this new thing called social distancing and self-quarantine. It can help motivate me to be informed and to do things that are right and purposeful in my life. Ineffective worry is when you just start spinning. You know that you start spinning on all the what-ifs and all the uncertainties and all the worries, all the what-ifs that are out there. And without anything to do about it, that feels like we can fix it. So this is one of those pandemics that an individual themselves can feel helpless in. So they can spin with that worry. They can get overwhelmed by it. They can go through this. They can go through kind of compulsive rituals to try to calm themselves down, or they can go to the opposite end and just kind of move into this need for it to not be real, not be serious. That I just need this to not be so serious as everyone's making it out to be. So then they just ignore it and move into kind of reckless behavior and hang out with everybody and just pretend it's not even there. Those are typically the unhealthy kind of ineffective worry cause it leads us to actually be more anxious and more overwhelmed.

Ken White

The trap of chasing calm or happiness.

Dr. Kelly Crace

So ineffective worry when we do get overwhelmed. And we are feeling or if we're just normally feeling upset. People go through different ranges of feelings around this, from worry to anger, you know, looking and see how things that they feel may be done right. And things that may they feel like they're not being done right and it's upsetting them. That type of thing. It can be this aspect of this kind of worry that is both about mourning and anxiety that I can be actually mourning what I'm seeing around me. I'm feeling a sense of loss. I'm feeling a sense of loss of what I expected. Think of our students and our faculty and staff that and the parents that their lives have kind of completely changed here. And that can cause us to kind of chase calmness. We kind of rush to calm. We rush to feel better. That typically doesn't work because what it does is it causes us to be so over sensitized to how we're emotionally feeling in the moment that we kind of start defining our day by that. So how was today? Today was a good day. I was calm. Today was a bad day. I was really anxious. We're constantly checking in on our emotions. And a lot of times when we're feeling upset, we not only want to go to calm. We want to kind of go to the other complete and try to find happiness. So we try to chase anything that will make us not only feel calm but to make us feel really good and make us feel really happy. Instead of kind of chasing calm and happy. We really kind of want to move toward instead of calm, move toward self-care instead of happy, move toward kind of purposeful, meaningful things. It's okay to go through enjoyment. It's okay to look for enjoyable things, but not necessarily for the purpose of feeling good. It's more for the purpose of enjoyment is healthy. So it's good to have some enjoyment in your life, but especially important to have a sense of purpose and meaning in your life where you feel like you're acting on things that are right.

Ken White

Become values focused amidst uncertainty.

Dr. Kelly Crace

So one of the best ways to find a sense of personal agency, a sense of personal control when when we're surrounded by a lot of uncertainty and a lot of helplessness of, you know, how do I fix this or how do I change this thing that's worrying me. Is it a lot of times if we can if we overfocus on trying to reduce something, I'm trying to reduce being overwhelmed or reduce being worried, that doesn't work too well, because we tend to kind of be more preoccupied the more we try to reduce something.

Ken White

Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Instead, if we can try to increase something positive and focus on that, that's more helpful. And one of the most positive things to get at is one of your purest forms of motivation, and that is that your values. And so if we can kind of start every day looking for a sense of purpose and meaning by asking ourselves what matters most today, you can start off with kind of generally what matters. But of those things that matter. These things that matter to me, what matters most, and then what matters second-most. So you want to kind of clarify what matters to me today but then prioritize to. What's most important to me today. If you can engage in those things of value, what you're doing is you're creating purpose in your life. If at the end of the day, you can also take a moment and appreciate where you acted on that, that creates meaning. A lot of people kind of equate purpose and meaning. Purpose is a little more. They're very similar. The purpose is kind of a motivational type thing, a direction of your energy. Meaning is kind of reflective part of reflecting and letting that paint dry instead of skimming over it and just saying going on to the next thing. It's really important during this time of worry that you stop and say take a moment and reflect and appreciate where you acted on things of purpose today. That's what creates a sense of meaning.

Ken White

Understand your personal experience and change and loss. What do you mean by that?

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yeah, I think it's important during these times to really reflect on the personal sense that this has on you. We can reasonably infer that everyone has been affected by this change. Everyone is adjusting at some level, but we just don't know what this change means to everyone. For some, it's exciting. For some, it can be very threatening. For some, it's changing kind of completely their thought of what, like, for instance, for students, what the second half of this semester was going to be like, especially for our graduates, our undergraduate and graduate students. This looks completely different. So it's important to really understand your sense of what this means to me. How is this impacting me? What do I think about it? What I feel about it. And the important thing about that is don't judge what you're learning in your reflection. As I think about what this is. It's important to honor what I'm understanding rather than immediately judging it as a good feeling or a bad thought. It's allowing it to be okay that whatever I'm experiencing, this is normal and appropriate. And then you kind of want to think about how do I want to talk about that with other people? Most people are not completely alone. They're in the house with someone else right now and often with a lot of people. You've mentioned how your whole family is kind of coming together from all of their areas.

Ken White

Right.

Dr. Kelly Crace

And so it's about being able to. How do we share this with each other? How do we seek to understand each other's personal experiences? Then assume them instead. Because I'm feeling this way. I just assume everyone is feeling this way. It's important to ask and not assume and kind of how is this impacting you? And it's also it's important to be sensitive to impact. I may want to kind of talk about this a lot, but I may recognize someone in my house may not want to talk about it so much. So it's being sensitive to impact as well, to kind of think about how and how this experience is affecting me.

Ken White

Wow, that's such a great point. You're right. I know I find it fascinating to talk about it and to think about the future where we're going. Not thinking maybe somebody around me it's the last thing they want to hear.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yeah.

Ken White

Yeah, that's an interesting point. Possibility versus probability. I find this real interesting.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yeah, that's a real important thing in terms of how we manage worry and also what can lead to effective worry versus ineffective worry. Fear causes the possible to feel probable. So when we're in a fear state, when we're worried and afraid, we think of a lot of what-ifs, and all of those what-ifs probably are possible. But when we're leading with fear, those possible things start to feel probable. Well, the interesting thing is we brace ourselves. Our mind is very protective. And so anything that is probable and negative, we immediately feel compelled to act on that in some level. So if if you're not afraid right now that there's a poisonous snake underneath your chair because you kind of know your surroundings around you. Is it possible? Yes, but it's not probable. But let's say things change somehow and you're in your environment there where it became probable

Ken White

Right.

Dr. Kelly Crace

you wouldn't just be sitting here talking to me right now. You would be acting in some way. You'll be doing something that would be protective. Well, the same thing exists with this. We can what if our ourselves to a place where possible starts to feel probable, and you want to use your analytical mind as well as the help around you, support around you to really discern what's possible versus what's probable? Individuals may be thinking, is it possible that I could really, really something really bad could happen to me if I get sick, you know? Is that possible? Yes.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

But if I think about, okay, well, what am I doing to take care of myself and what am I doing to be healthy, and what am I doing to self corner? Is it possible? Yes. Is it probable? No. And so the point is you can always want to land on probable. It's okay for the reaction to be all of it, you know. But you want to go through a period of discernment to where you land on probable and you kind of commit your behavior to the problem. Even if I may feel still worried,

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

I'm going to commit my behavior to the probable.

Ken White

That's great. Yeah. And I can see many people going the wrong path there. That's great.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Dr. Kelly Crace, Associate Vice President for Health and Wellness at William & Mary, in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary's School of Business. The best businesses and organizations in the world invest in educating and retaining top employees. And many of those businesses call on William & Mary's Center for Corporate Education to create and deliver customized executive education programs. The programs are designed and taught by William & Mary's top-ranked MBA faculty. If your organization wants to educate and retain its top people, contact the Center for Corporate Education, or visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation with Dr. Kelly Crace.

Ken White

Stay informed, not stuck.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yeah, and worry can cause us to really seek a lot of information and where we seek information to try to find a sense of calm, to find a sense of agency or control. It is so easy today with so many of the competitive news channels and the noted competitive news sources. It's important to remember that it's also their motivation to make sure that you stay on their channel, that you stay with them. So they need to compel you. They need to captivate you. So evocative news can often, often be a part of what we're experiencing. And all that does that escalates our worry it escalates the what-ifs. At the same time, you want to be informed. You want to feel like, you know, I'm still learning about this, and learning and growing from this is important. But you want to do it in ways that you feel are healthy for you. So be sensitive to the impact information is having on you and figure out your, like for me, I've learned, you know, I. For me personally, I just. I go to NPR once a day and get and get my updates that take about 10 minutes. And that's about as much as I really want to help me feel informed. But if I do it twice a day, it just feels like too much. I start thinking about it more. I start worrying about it more. Find out what your exposure time kind of your SPF factors. We do that with suntan lotion, with SPF factor. Find out what your exposure you need to news and information that helps you and try to find sources that can give it to you. In brief, brief bites without a lot of evocative emotion to it, let it be factual so you can learn without being stirred

Ken White

Yeah, that's great. And I think social media can really take you down, too. If you're on something like Twitter and a negative thread can just take off and take you right with it. That's great advice. Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Oh, completely agree. And there's also that added feeling of the anonymity in social media

Ken White

Yes.

Dr. Kelly Crace

where people can post things that are very evocative without recourse or without consequence. So that's a really good point.

Ken White

Soothing versus self-care.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yeah, it kind of relates to what we had talked about earlier in terms of chasing calm, you know, and soothing, soothing, and self-care in terms of the actual behavior. It can look like the same. The key between these two is all the intention. It's about the intention. So with soothing, the intention is to feel better. That's my sole motivation is to feel better. In other words, I feel bad. I want to feel better. The quickest way to do that is to change brain chemistry. And so I will be then if I'm motivated to feel better, I will be motivated to try to change my brain chemistry as quickly as possible. But there are five things that change brain chemistry the quickest, and that's food, drugs, pain, sex, and compelling entertainment. Those are the things that change brain chemistry. And none of those five things are bad in and of themselves. The problem is when the intention is to soothe, we don't moderate those things well, and that's when it can then move to unhealthy kind of behavior. As opposed to self-care, when the motivation is to to to take care of yourself. The intention is to be healthy. And so when the intention is to be healthy, we can pick things that may make us feel better. It's okay. That's kind of a bonus if it does, doesn't have to, but the intention is to be healthy. So examples of healthy self-care are verbal, you know, converting your emotional energy to talking to someone that is safe and trustworthy, that can be verbal expression, that can be to friends or family or a professional, whatever. Converting your emotional energy to physical expression through exercise, through yoga, through breathing, active breathing, progressive relaxation, meditative expressions, and other forms, self-care. And that's where you're converting your emotional energy to some form of meditative expression, be it meditation, mindfulness, prayer. Any of those things that are congruent with your values. And then creative expression is a great form of self self-care where converting your energies to some kind of writing or creative expression. I've been so inspired by some of the things I've heard from families that are being very creative with this time of let's do something new, let's do something different. I know you're planning on doing that with your family, and I've heard so many stories about that. It's a really healthy form of self-care. The last two to think about are sometimes just very simply taking a break from it, sometimes taking a temporary break. And that's when you just get away from it, and you realize you're not denying it. You're not putting a lid on it, but you're putting it on the shelf and saying, I just need a break from that. That's when you go and watch a movie, or you go talk with your friends, but don't talk about it. That distraction can be a even distracting into our work, can be healthy. And then the last thing is, is kind of reminding yourself of what else is true. When we're upset, we can get very myopic in how we're seeing ourselves and seeing this problem. We need to periodically ask what else is true about my life? What else is true about me? What else is true beyond just this pandemic? It's just healthy.

Ken White

Yeah, absolutely. And finally, courage training.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yeah, with courage training. Really, what it's about is recognizing that all these steps that we talk about are hard. It's just hard to do. And it's about kind of changing how we think about hard and how we think about struggle. So many of the things I've heard from colleagues and from students that we're working with during this transition and from peers is they'll say so-and-so is really struggling or I'm really struggling, or we're all struggling with this transition. That type of thing. Struggle is not bad. Struggle in and of itself is not bad. Struggle is a struggle can be a healthy challenge. There's a difference between struggle and strain. There's a difference between challenge and strain. Challenge is good challenge is growth producing. We can step into this new area of pedagogy and feel completely inept in it, but we can struggle through developing a sense of agency. You know, one step at a time. And the wonderful thing about this kind of pedagogy is we don't have to be perfect with it. We can be clumsy with it. We can make mistakes with it, and it's okay. Like you said, we can have children screaming in the background or my five dogs that are right in the same room as me right now.

Ken White

Absolutely.

Dr. Kelly Crace

But those things can happen. It brings the human element of it. The main thing about us recognizing is one you want to honor that this work is hard. It's, and it's only hard. That's the key, is that we don't place a lot of emotional value on hard. You don't lament it. You just accept it for what it is. We accept struggle. We accept hard. And that's actually what courage is. Courage is stepping into right things that are hard. It's stepping into this hardness. That's right to do. It's right for us to be healthy. It's right for us to do pedagogy in this way now. This is right for us. In this rightness, when it's hard, that's actually being courageous. Dr. King, one of my favorite quotes from Dr. King, is heroism is the courage to act every day according to your values. That's heroic. And I think we can find a lot of support with each other by stepping into that courage together. So it's like let's be courageous together. Let's step into this hard together and see it only as hard.

Ken White

Well, and speaking of support, you and your team, the website is absolutely fantastic for the wellness center. And much of what we just talked about is available on there. And you've done a number of things. Because it's interesting in our town hall meetings, we've had with our students in almost every one. They're asking about mental health support. You know, what do we have? And it's fantastic that we can say, boy, you check out what William & Mary is doing, some phenomenal stuff. Can you kind of give us an idea of what's available on the website? And there's a lot of things going on that ordinarily you might think would have been suspended because we're not meeting face to face, but that's not the case.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Exactly. One of the things that we first lamented and mourned was we've just gotten so much traction with our health and wellness, our programs, our resources, the new integrative wellness center. And the way, you know, over 80 percent of our things, 85 percent of our students access the rec center, the campus rec programs, and so campus recreation and the wellness center. We're just so happy with the work that's being done without students or engaging in these things and really, really grieved the aspect that this wasn't going to be available to them. So our staff immediately starting thinking. Lets create a virtual wellness center. Let's create a health and wellness center that brings the best of campus recreation, the best of the four departments of Integrative Wellness with the counseling center and the health center and health promotion and the Center for Mindfulness & Authentic Excellence. So we started building programs, and that includes live programs and archived programs. Our first program we offered was a live yoga class. We had over 160 people join the class

Ken White

Wow.

Dr. Kelly Crace

and it was great, and we're recording all of these so they'll be archived so you can go on it anytime. We'll be building something new every day and adding new things just like what we do when the buildings were open. We'll be adding new things so students can access. Parents can access. We're also opening this up beyond the William & Mary community. So it's open to the public. Anybody can go on and experiment and look at what is wellness look like for me and try to find a resource there that would speak to you.

Ken White

Yeah, it's fantastic. And it's so important, right? I think that people are feeling it right now, especially I keep thinking of our students at William and Mary, but students all across the country at universities who are now going online. You and I are recording this on Saturday, March 21st. We should point that out to our listeners and come Monday. Oh, boy, it's a big day, so there's a lot of stress leading up to that. And it's great that there's so many things available on the website, so thank you for that. And Kelly, thank you very much for your time. Greatly appreciate it. And take care of yourself. And any words of advice, last parting words for our listeners about the upcoming days and weeks ahead.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Just really kind of stay values focused. Stay with your sense of purpose. Accept the hardness of it. Step into that courage. But more importantly, do the few things that are enjoyable each day. But at the end of every day, really take the time to appreciate. And with each other, talk with each other about appreciating what you did that day with a sense of purpose. And also, my deep gratitude to you Ken to have continually bringing opportunities for us to grow and learn. You're challenging us to grow. You're challenging us to step into hard. So I just really appreciate all the work that you're doing on our behalf.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Dr. Kelly Crace. And that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. The Center for Corporate Education offers customized leadership development programs that help organizations and businesses develop and retain their best people. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest this week, Kelly Crace, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White, wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Josh Jackson
Josh JacksonEpisode 133: March 19, 2020
People, Strategy and Leadership

Josh Jackson

Episode 133: March 19, 2020

People, Strategy & Leadership

SAIC - it's a premier technology integrator headquartered in northern Virginia. The organization solves the nation's most complex modernization and readiness challenges across several markets including defense, space, federal, civilian, and intelligence. Josh Jackson is Executive Vice President and General Manager for SAIC's Solutions and Technology Group. He leads 3,000 of the organization's 23,000 employees. In his almost 20 years with SAIC, Jackson's had some interesting leadership experiences. He visited William & Mary and met with business school students last month. Afterward, he joined us to share his thoughts on leadership, strategy, and how to hire professionals who possess character, competence, and grit.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How Josh Jackson found himself in leadership roles
  • What Josh had to work on to develop leadership traits
  • What makes a good leader
  • How to best motivate individuals on your team
  • The importance of trust within team members
  • What makes an engineer a good MBA student
  • How does one learn to trust oneself to lead
  • What Josh looks for in a candidate when hiring
  • How does a leader best communicate strategy to the team
  • What does the future hold for organizational leaders
Transcript

Josh Jackson: People, Strategy & Leadership TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host, Ken White. Thanks for listening. SAIC, it's a premier technology integrator headquartered in Northern Virginia. The organization solves the nation's most complex modernization and readiness challenges across several markets, including defense, space, federal, civilian, and intelligence. Josh Jackson is Executive Vice President and General Manager for SAIC Solutions and Technology Group. He leads 3,000 of the organization's 23,000 employees. In his almost 20 years with SAIC, Jackson's had some interesting leadership experiences. He visited William & Mary and met with business school students last month. Afterwards, he joined us to share his thoughts on leadership, strategy, and how to hire professionals who possess character, competence, and grit. Here's our conversation with SAIC's Josh Jackson.

Ken White

Josh, thank you for sharing your time with us. You had a busy day today. I appreciate you sitting down with us.

Josh Jackson

Absolutely. I'm happy to. And I've had a great day interacting with the students. It's been a lot of fun and energizing. It's just great to be on campus.

Ken White

Yeah, it's nice to have you. It was fun. I sat in on one of the sessions where you were with a big class of undergraduates. What's your impression of the students?

Josh Jackson

I'm impressed. They seem thoughtful in their questions, right. Just by virtue of being at William & Mary, it's the top of our country. And that's part of our future. And it's exciting to see their vision for where they want to go and how they think about the world. It was it was energizing.

Ken White

I think one of the differences in today's student versus maybe 20 years ago, a lot of these students are on track. They want to be leaders when it was as soon as possible want to lead something. I really want to make a difference. When you first got out of college with your engineering degree, leadership wasn't necessarily something you had in mind. How did you get into leadership and leadership roles?

Josh Jackson

Right. Right. Now, that's a good question. So I love engineering. I thought I wanted to be an engineer my whole career, right. And build things and engineer things. And when I was working on a submarine design project, my team leader asked me if I wanted to lead a team that was growing. And I said, sure, why not? He said I think you have the capabilities to lead a team. And it was then that I got hooked on leadership and seeing something that was accomplished that was much bigger than myself and accomplished over time and how it fit in with the bigger vision. And ever since then, I've been hooked on this building teams and leading teams and seeing things come to fruition. It's a lot fun.

Ken White

I often ask our guests this growing up way back when would friends and neighbors and relatives have said that's a leader in the making? Would they have seen it?

Josh Jackson

I don't know. I think I was hyperactive as a kid, and I broke a lot of things. So engineering came naturally. And I think that some would say they saw a spark of leadership, but it was something that I'm an introvert by nature. So I love small groups. So it was something that I had to work on consciously to develop some of those leadership traits. But I love it.

Ken White

What makes a good leader in your mind?

Josh Jackson

I think it's someone that understands and can articulate a vision for the future that's bigger than the current state and rally a team of individuals that may or may not be part of their formal organization to achieve and accomplish that.

Ken White

How do you motivate? I mean, you have different types of people who require different types of motivation. How do you approach that?

Josh Jackson

So I think you have to get to know the individuals on your team. And it may be your team that is in your organization, or it may be a team that you're pulling together from multiple functions to solve a problem. So building the team is always step number one, right. Understanding how each other works, how each other thinks, and embrace the diversity and the chaos that comes with that early on. And encourage that dialogue so that when you really struggle maybe in midway through the project or the initiative, you've built that level of trust amongst the team members.

Ken White

That takes time to get to know the people.

Josh Jackson

Yes.

Ken White

How do you balance that while trying to get things done?

Josh Jackson

So I think it's a matter of investment, right. And it's not unlike engineering, right. They say that you know, investing an extra hour in engineering, something will save you three hours in manufacturing. I think of it the same way with teams, right. Investing that extra hour upfront to build relationships will save you three hours or triple-fold later on in a project or an initiative.

Ken White

It's interesting when you mention that the thought came to mind. Engineers often make the greatest MBA students. They just I think they think alike. What is it about that? Because you have your engineering degree. Later you went on for your MBA, and it worked for you. What's the connection there?

Josh Jackson

Right. Right. Great question. I think at this point in my career; it would not be safe to walk on a bridge that I design because I've been away from it for so long. But what the my undergraduate in engineering gave me was a sense of how to solve problems, right. Complex problems and how to approach a complex problem. You know, not only with math but also with looking at it from an interdisciplinary perspective, right. And that's not unlike business problems that we have today, right. You're solving problems to achieve an outcome. And now you have to do it with people and resources and functions instead of, you know, math and science.

Ken White

Oftentimes in business, as the leader, you've got to make a decision. You don't have all the information you need or the time. Is engineering different? Do you often have the information, or are they similar?

Josh Jackson

They're similar. Many times you have all the information. And many times you can do a very analytical, methodical, and the clear choice pops out. Many times you don't have all the information, especially if you're engineering something new that's never been done before. You're not going to have all the information. And what I found in my leadership experiences that you have, sometimes you have all the information, and sometimes you don't. And it's a matter of trusting your team and your people that have done some of that homework and done the analysis to present those results.

Ken White

So the you trust them. How do you trust yourself to pull the trigger?

Josh Jackson

So over the years, you have to build kind of a, you know, heuristics that you can rely on to make some of those decisions. So there's a pattern recognition that you may have seen before so you can put eight of the pieces together, and maybe there's two that are new. And then the next time you encounter that similar problem, you have nine of the pieces instead of all ten.

Ken White

You mentioned the students earlier today. When you hire people, you you've three characteristics you look for. I thought this that was interesting. Share with our listeners what were those three?

Josh Jackson

So I look for character, competence, and grit. Character is kind of fundamentally being a person of integrity. Competence is not that they have a superior IQ, but they deliver on the results and the goals that they've set forth. And lastly, grit is just right, the ability to persevere through multiple challenges over a long period of time to achieve an objective. And it seems like all three of those things are almost innate in an individual or something they want to develop. Many of the other things and attributes around business acumen and skills you can train and equip and coach.

Ken White

Yeah. How can you figure whether or determine, whether or not a person has the characteristics in an interview setting?

Josh Jackson

So I ask them the questions about, you know, situations and where they've applied some of those things and so put them in a situation and ask them to. How did they how would they navigate it? Right. And maybe describe a time when they've persevered over multiple years to achieve a goal.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Josh Jackson in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary School of Business. The best businesses and organizations in the world invest in educating and retaining top employees. While many of those businesses call on William & Mary's Center for Corporate Education to create and deliver customized executive education programs. The programs are designed and taught by William & Mary's top-ranked MBA faculty. If your organization wants to educate and retain its top people, contact the Center for Corporate Education, or visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation with SAIC's Josh Jackson.

Ken White

When you mentioned grit, I think resilience and we've talked about that quite a bit on our podcast with various leaders, and one of the questions that comes up is, is that in us, or do we have to learn that?

Josh Jackson

Yeah.

Ken White

How is that with grit and resilience? Does that come through time? Or do we have that inside us?

Josh Jackson

I think it's both. I think there's a certain amount that, you know, you're a gritty person, or you're not. And it probably has to do with your, right, your upbringing and maybe experiences. I think it is something that you can establish and develop more maturity over time in terms of your grit and your ability to persevere. But I think it's something that you're that you have and that you can almost measure.

Ken White

So you pay attention a great deal to the people side of things, but also to the strategic side as well. And you talked in class today about a four-level diagram in terms of strategy and love to walk through that. At the bottom, you have team culture and the plan. What what's that all about?

Josh Jackson

So when you think about building a strategy, it starts with that, you know, kind of the vision. But the foundation really is the vision, the culture and the team, and the plan, right. The team, meaning the people that are actually going to execute the plan, to deliver the strategy, deliver on the strategy and the culture of your organization and the culture of your customers that you're attempting to serve. And then the plan itself, right. That's the those are the foundational kind of elements that you have to build upon to achieve that vision.

Ken White

So is that a starting point?

Josh Jackson

Yeah, I think it's a starting point. Right. And you have to have all three of those ingredients in my experience, if you lack any one of those, right. You're building on a very shaky foundation.

Ken White

Yeah. And then the next step, you have frameworks or the tool kit.

Josh Jackson

Right. So I look at business tool kits, right. And everything from the McKinsey 7s models to sophisticated metrics and other tools and templates, right. You're building out a toolbox of tools that you, as a trade business tradesperson, can apply to solve problems, right. And you need to know what tool to use when. And so building on that foundation, you and the team, right. Have to pull out those tools and use the right tools at the right time to get the job done.

Ken White

And that leads to execution.

Josh Jackson

Right. And then which is kind of where we fall short a lot of times in strategy. Right. Because it's fun. It's fun to build the strategy. It's fun to build this shiny PowerPoint presentation that looks nice and has your vision stated in your plan stated well. But at the end of the day, you have to deliver on the strategic plan that you've put forth, and you have to measure people against that plan.

Ken White

Sure. And then your final stage was vision.

Josh Jackson

Right. Right. And that's really the final state, the end state. But it's also the starting point. Right. Because you need to start and motivate your team and build the plan around that vision and your end state.

Ken White

Are you seeing corporate vision? Does it matter much when you're out there, when you're hiring when you're interacting with people are people looking at the vision today?

Josh Jackson

I think people want to work for companies that are purpose-driven, that exist for the long run, that don't exist just to make a quarterly profit or a revenue target but exists for some purpose. And at SAIC, we're fortunate in that we serve the federal government, and we do a lot of cool and interesting things that are serve important missions. And really, that's what we're all about. Right? We wake up every morning thinking about how to solve these, you know, seemingly intractable problems and helping our customers navigate through that. And that's exciting.

Ken White

You mentioned, take a step back. You mentioned PowerPoint for a moment. You're not totally on board with PowerPoint.

Josh Jackson

No, I think I think it often is a crutch to summarize things that don't need to be summarized. And just like NASA found with the Challenger disaster, that oftentimes you can gloss over details that should be looked at. So I'm not to the Jeff Bezos Amazon, no PowerPoint ever. But I think it's a good practice to force leaders to articulate their ideas in words, in paragraphs and words, rather than summarizing them into bullet points.

Ken White

Yeah. You mentioned strategy is not about. Is about what you're doing, but it's also about what you're not doing and what you've stopped doing. How do you communicate that to the team and the importance of that?

Josh Jackson

Yeah, that's a critical part of the overall plan, right. When you build a strategic plan that's going to execute to the vision, it's great to talk about all the things you're going to do. But inevitably there's got to be a handful of things and maybe more than a handful of things that you're going to not do or stop doing. And it's important for your team and your enterprise to know those things as well. Otherwise, you're going to lack focus on the executing part of your plan.

Ken White

Which means you've got to communicate that. So communications are a big part of your job.

Josh Jackson

Absolutely. Yeah, I feel like communication is probably the main purpose of my role as a general manager at SAIC. I'm communicating the strategy and vision and intent to my team. I'm also translating up and across the organization on a regular basis. And that's a big part of what I see my job as.

Ken White

As a leader and in the world you live in. What do you see coming down the pike? What what's were the next five years, going to be looking like what should we be thinking about?

Josh Jackson

So I think in the next five years, complexity and connectedness of the world will only continue to exponentially increase. And I think we have to embrace things like AI machine learning as not only as technologies but also within our cultures and organization and adopt those in different ways. Otherwise, we won't be able to handle the complexity and the connectedness that we find ourselves in. Not only from a business perspective but just from operating in a global economy.

Ken White

And as you mentioned, in making sure everyone on the organization is on board, making it part of the culture.

Josh Jackson

Right. Right.

Ken White

You mentioned earlier today about culture at SAIC. We talked a little bit about diversity. You say it's not necessarily D and I, sometimes I and D.

Josh Jackson

Right.

Ken White

Interesting. Can you tell more about that?

Josh Jackson

Yeah. So we created an inclusion and diversity strategy and a council that includes the CEO and key leaders to drive that strategy across the enterprise. But we intentionally put inclusion first instead of D and I. And the reason was that we felt like if we created an inclusive environment where people could bring their whole selves to work and felt like their opinions were valued and not only valued but heard and considered, then diversity will be an outcome of that. And then an outcome of that diverse environment and team are better business results, better business decisions. And the science is pretty clear on that. Right.

Ken White

Yeah.

Josh Jackson

Research has shown.

Ken White

And better culture.

Josh Jackson

Right.

Ken White

Yeah. Full circle.

Josh Jackson

Yeah.

Ken White

Right. Some of the students asked for advice. Well, what kind of advice did you give young people, youth starting off on their career? Going to get a degree soon. What kind of oh, what kind of information and guidance can you give them?

Josh Jackson

Yes, I think a couple of things. One is right. Ask for a mentor early on in your career. Right. And provide them with your perspectives on where you want to go in your career and offer to help the enterprise and organization wherever you happen to be. And then give back. Right. Everybody has an opportunity to mentor somebody no matter what their level is in the organization. So it's that flow that I would encourage anyone, especially getting into a career, to have. Look for mentors as well as look for people to teach something.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Josh Jackson. And that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. The Center for Corporate Education offers customized leadership development programs that help organizations develop and retain their best people. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest this week, Josh Jackson, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White, wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Phil Tuning
Phil TuningEpisode 132: March 5, 2020
Long Term Success with One Employer

Phil Tuning

Episode 132: March 5, 2020

Long Term Success with One Employer

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average professional changes jobs 10-15 times during his or her career. For most people, that means changing employers too. But for others, like Phil Tuning, the changes occur within the same organization, and they often lead to a terrific career and organizational success. For 20 years, Tuning worked for John Deere where he held a variety of leadership roles in the U.S. and abroad. In his most recent position, he was President of John Deere Financial Canada. Throughout Tuning's tenure at John Deere, he adopted strategies that helped him successfully move from one opportunity to the next while reaching or exceeding team goals. He joins us today to discuss those strategies; including the Say-Do Ratio, Just Say Yes, and Perform and Connect.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • Phil's approach to servant leadership
  • What should be the legacy of a leader
  • How should a leader balance their time
  • What is the Say-Do Ratio
  • How should a professional decide to change jobs within an organization
  • How important is trust in the workplace
  • Why should a professional decide to change jobs within an organization
  • How important is trust in the workplace
  • Why should a professional gain insight from the previous holder of a position
  • What makes a leader effective and authentic
  • How does a professional acclimate to a new culture
  • The importance of connecting with your network
  • What is it like getting an MBA in the middle of a career
Transcript

Phil Tuning: Long Term Success with One Employer TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host, Ken White. Thanks for listening. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average professional changes jobs 10 to 15 times during his or her career. For most people, that means changing employers, too. But for others, like Phil Tuning, the changes occur within the same organization, and they often lead to a terrific career and organizational success. For 20 years, Tuning worked for John Deere, where he held a variety of leadership roles in the U.S. and abroad. In his most recent position, he was president of John Deere Financial Canada. Throughout Tuning's tenure at John Deere, he adopted strategies that helped him successfully move from one opportunity to the next while reaching or exceeding team goals. He joins us on the podcast today to discuss those strategies, including the say-do ratio, just say yes, and perform and connect. Here's our conversation with Phil Tuning.

Ken White

Phil, thank you so much for joining us, and thanks for coming back to William & Mary.

Phil Tuning

Thank you very much. I'm happy to be here.

Ken White

How long's it been?

Phil Tuning

Gosh, I graduated in 2002, and I've been on campus once since then. So at least ten years.

Ken White

How about it? And you just spoke to a group of undergraduate students. What was your kind of reaction when you met them?

Phil Tuning

I enjoyed it. I was really pleased with their interaction and engagement. You know, lots of times when you go into these situations, you just don't know what to expect. But I was really pleased to see their level of engagement and really good questions and their thoughtfulness was really impressive.

Ken White

You mentioned, you know, you wonder if you had to start your career now. It would be pretty competitive when you see those kinds of students. Right. I get it. They're good. I mean, they're really quality people.

Phil Tuning

They're very good. And boy, it can be intimidating as well, because you know that what you thought you knew when you're in college, and you see these guys, and you're going, wow. New day, new game.

Ken White

Yeah, no doubt. One of the students asked you about your approach to leadership. And you said that you like to consider yourself, and you strive to be a servant leader. And we know the term. But can you talk about how you approach that? What that means to you?

Phil Tuning

Yeah. So from my perspective, being a servant leader is making sure that I'm investing in others and trying to understand what's most important to them to be successful, what are their aspirations and where they need what skills they need to develop and make sure that I'm really focusing on them. I'm investing in them so that they can build their competencies. So that they can actually contribute more to the business, and it helps sustain our business. You know, one of the things that lots of times people talk about, what's the legacy of a leader? To me, the legacy of a leader is the people that he invests in. And so for me, taking the time to support them, advocate for them, and ensure that they have the resources that they need to be successful is how I would term a servant leader. Additionally, I tend to look at them holistically, not just who they are from a work perspective,

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Phil Tuning

but additionally, what's happening in your family so that I can better understand what situations we need to help them be successful.

Ken White

You also have a bottom line. You've got things that need to get done. How do you balance? Because that takes time. Right.

Phil Tuning

Yup.

Ken White

Being that close with your team. How do you balance that?

Phil Tuning

So for me, the approach is what I call the three p's people, process, and product and the product, p. Part of it is around the profitability.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Phil Tuning

So again, from my perspective, I think balancing investing in people is going to drive the results because a business ultimately is about the people. And again, if we build their competencies, build their confidence, empower them to be successful, we will get the business results. And as you look at the different groups, I've had the opportunity to lead, that's absolutely been the case. Invariably employee engagement goes up, and invariably we are a much more sustainable operation.

Ken White

One of the things you talked about was the say-do ratio. I love that. Can you explain that?

Phil Tuning

Yeah, that's one of the things that I learned early on. In fact, from one of our colleagues that went to William & Mary as well. It's one of those things where people want to know that they can trust you. How can I trust you? Did you do what you say you're gonna do when you said you were gonna do it? So the say-do ratio. And I think that's how we all are measured. We just don't know it because people looking at you as a leader and say, can I trust this person? And the one true way to know if you can trust them is that they do what they said they were going to do. And that's to me is the say-do ratio. And you want that to be high.

Ken White

Yeah. So what does that mean for you then? You're paying attention to the say, paying attention to the do, to both. How does that guide you?

Phil Tuning

So I'm paying attention to both because I want to make sure that whatever I say, I know that we can deliver. And if there is stretch in it, I want to let people know that there is stretch in it. And then we've got to make sure that we time-box it. So that we know that there is a time period in which we should make a deliver what we say we're going to do and then we go back and measure it. And in general, I'm not a big measurements guy because I believe that if you do the right things, you'll get the results

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Phil Tuning

and the measurements are just an outcome. But if you time box it and then you've got the right things that you want to work on, then you can have a very high say-do ratio.

Ken White

In your career, you've had a number of promotions, a number of different jobs and titles, and opportunities. How do you decide? Yes, I need to take that. This is good for me. How do you make that call?

Phil Tuning

That's a really good question because I've been asked that question a lot. And what I can tell you is trust is how I make the call. Because generally, I've been approached by a leader that I admire and trust, and they're asking me to take on the role. And I almost always say yes, in fact, I've always said yes, because I trust a leader that's approaching me. And then, when you look back, you realize that you're being prepared for a path because I could not have mapped my career together the way it was mapped. But obviously, someone had a vision, and I just had to have trust in the organization. That they're going to, they're going to have one the best interest in the organization. As well as the best interest in me and supporting the organization. And so my assessment has always been, do I trust a person that's approached me? And if I do, it's an easy yes.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm. Now, if it's a position or a division. You really don't have any expertise. What do you do in that situation?

Phil Tuning

Panic.

Ken White

Yeah. Right.

Phil Tuning

So no. Yeah, that's. Yeah. And I shared that experience earlier today where I took a role. I didn't know anything about it, but I knew that it was an opportunity. And as an opportunity for me to stretch, and it was opportunity for me to build a competency I didn't have or to fill a gap in the organization. In a way, I prepare for it as I do a lot of research. I talk to people. I talk to my predecessors. I talk to the people that are in the organization. And after I've accepted the role, the other thing that I do is I make sure that I get to the key stakeholders, and it could be a direct report, it could be someone else in the organization. And I develop sort of an interview format that I ask people the same questions. And then I'd come back, and I'll look at what are the themes that I learned.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Phil Tuning

And then, I share those themes back with the organization. I say, is this what we need to work on? And then I just really focus on what the team thinks is important and plus what I've learned. And then, how do we map a path for us to be successful? And then I have to continue to work on my competencies. And the other part of it is, is really challenging sometimes as a leader. But there I have to say; I don't know.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Phil Tuning

And so then you better trust and that empowers the rest of your team. That's been sort of a ticket to success if you will.

Ken White

When you're going into a new position. How much do you recommend that you speak to the person who's leaving that position? How much insight do you want from them?

Phil Tuning

I want a lot of insight from them because I want to understand what were the areas of focus for them. More importantly, I want to see what they know about the people, because, again, my approach is always start with people. And I talk. We will do a transition to make sure that we're transitioned appropriately. And then I ask, what are the key themes and what are the issues? And then I'll take a step back and make a determination from there.

Ken White

Same way when you are leaving, and you're bringing someone up, you approached the same way.

Phil Tuning

Same way.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Phil Tuning

Absolutely.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Phil Tuning in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary's School of Business. If you want to think and lead strategically in your division and across the organization, the Center for Corporate Education has the program for you. The Certificate in Business Management is a five-day program taught by William & Mary's world-class faculty. Each day is devoted to one important topic, including effective communication, managerial accounting, operational effectiveness, business strategy, and executive leadership. The next Certificate in Business Management program takes place next month at William & Mary from April 20th through the 24th. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation on long term success with one employer with Phil Tuning.

Ken White

When you look back on your career, good leaders, you've had people you've looked up to. What qualities did they have? What made them good and effective?

Phil Tuning

So the good leaders that I look up to invariably they're inspirational. They understand the business. But they don't necessarily just talk about the business. They talk about the why. Why are we doing what we do? Because so often it's easy to talk about. You've heard Simon Sinek talk about this. It's so easy to talk about the how and the what, but the why is important so if they can connect the dots on the why that makes it inspirational. Those are the leaders that I look up to. Secondly, I believe and feel that they care about my development and my career. And that's very, very important to me. And then the other part of it is what is even more important? They are people of integrity. And they and they almost always unless there's some reason that they didn't know that they were doing it. Walk the walk.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Phil Tuning

So whatever they say, they do. And so that's really important. And then the other part of it is they are very capable people. They are people that have demonstrated success, and they've demonstrated that they can lead an organization. And those are people that I've always looked up to as my leaders.

Ken White

You've been so many words mentioned without mentioning the word authenticity. And we talk about that a lot. What's that mean to you? How is a leader authentic?

Phil Tuning

So for me, a leader's authentic. When you can observe that person, even when they're not in the key role and see how they respond under stressful situations. And then again, it kind of goes back to their say-do ratio. Did they say what they were gonna do, and did they do it? And then do we have observed behaviors that are very, very consistent throughout time. So that authentic piece comes through over time because you want to have an opportunity to sort of measure the proof points

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Phil Tuning

and then you build from that.

Ken White

You've lived, you grew up in Virginia, you've worked in the Midwest, you've worked in Canada, you've worked all over the world. What was that? What are those instances like when you're in a brand new land, new people, new culture? How did you get rolling there?

Phil Tuning

So probably the most extreme was when we moved to Thailand. It was invigorating because, one, it's an opportunity to learn about a new culture and to learn and test yourself in that environment. And so we again spent a lot of time just making sure that we understood the culture. My wife and I we did not want to live in an ex-pat community. We wanted to live in a community with tight the local Thai people.

Ken White

Yeah.

Phil Tuning

And we did. And so it was an opportunity to learn? And so we moved a lot. But the one thing that we learned embrace where you are is the most critical piece. You cannot duplicate where you came from, but embrace where you are. It will be different. But if you embrace where you are, you will learn a lot, and you'll have a much, much more enjoyable experience.

Ken White

A very other-centric kind of viewpoint.

Phil Tuning

Yes, yes.

Ken White

Yeah. You when you go to Thailand, you look different, you sound different, and you stand out. How do you deal with that?

Phil Tuning

That's a good question, because, you know, one of the things as you travel and many people have around the world, your recognized as an American and in some ways that's a very, very in most ways is a very, very positive thing. And even though you stand out, you look different again. You try to learn about the people and who they are. And so it becomes a point of how do you connect with people. And build from there.

Ken White

You mentioned you just said connect. One of the things you talk to students about was perform and connect. That's sort of been one of your battle cries that's helped you in your career. Can you talk about perform and connect?

Phil Tuning

Yeah. So one of the things that I shared earlier today is performance is number one, if you're going to be successful in any organization, make sure that you're performing as expected. And quite candidly, better than expected. Now, the connection piece comes in that not only do you want to make sure you're performing, you also want to make sure that you're sharing with others and building your network of peers. I talked about peer advocacy today because that's a piece that people sometimes don't think about. Your peers can be very critical to your success and then build on a network with others that may be in a different organization than yours and make sure that you're connecting with people, that you have something in common with, not just for professional growth, but make sure that you connect with them individually and build upon that. So make sure your network is large, both from a peer perspective and also maybe from a leadership perspective. And what I've found over time is that that turns into advocacy, which which is helps you develop, and it also gives you an opportunity to help other people develop.

Ken White

You were in a business with, and you're African-American. You're in a business predominantly white, major, major white peers, and others. How did you approach that?

Phil Tuning

So from so maybe what touched on a topic of diversity and inclusion, certainly from a company perspective, there aren't as many people that look like me in our organization. When I go back to is what are the opportunities to build on things where we're alike and where we are alike are on the objectives and goals of our business. And so if people know that you're focus on these same objectives and goals and that you perform, then opportunities will they will show up. And the reason they show up is because everybody wants to be around someone that's focused on the goals and objectives and successful. Then you get an opportunity to learn more about each other individually. And so my approach has always been, what's our objective, what's our goal? How can we build our relationship? And then if there are differences, we'll figure out what they are. But I'm going to spend more time focusing on the areas where we're alike

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Phil Tuning

And so is this one of those things where you've got to make sure that you're expanding your horizon.

Ken White

You got your MBA in the middle of your career. What did that do for your career?

Phil Tuning

Having an MBA from William & Mary did a lot for my career, and what I shared earlier today is it really is much about personal development. It gave me the opportunity to test some of my ideas and learn that boy some of your ideas are actually pretty sound, but I didn't have the confidence to share those ideas. The other part of the MBA did for me was he gave me the opportunity to say, you know what, some of the things you thought you knew, you probably don't know as well as you think.

Ken White

Yeah.

Phil Tuning

And then the third category was around just new information. So it gave me the confidence to actually go back to work because I did the executive MBA program. There were things that I recognized I could test and implement today, there are some things I'm going maybe not so much, but from a career development standpoint, it gave me that extra credential to help me demonstrate that I'm one a continuous learner, which is what a lot of organizations are looking for, are people that are continually learning and developing a solid disposition. Me a little bit definitely in the organization, but I would also go back to the confidence piece. It actually gave me more confidence to share my ideas, to test ideas, and frankly test others ideas.

Ken White

And that confidence is so critical in leadership, isn't it?

Phil Tuning

Yes, it is. Yes, it is. Because the reason is it is important because people, again, want to know that I can follow this leader because he or she knows the path. They understand the goals of the objective of the organization, and they have the confidence to deliver appropriately. And frankly, sometimes I tell the team why this is what I promise for you. And they've got to have confidence in me that I've got the confidence that we can do that and we do.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Phil Tuning. And that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. The Center for Corporate Education offers programs that help you reach and exceed your career goals, including the upcoming certificate in business management program April 20th through April 24th. The program is taught by the William & Mary MBA faculty recognized year in and year out as one of the best in the business. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding our podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest this week, Phil Tuning, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White, wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Dr. Kelly Crace
Dr. Kelly CraceEpisode 131: February 20, 2020
Cultivating Joy In Your Work with silhouettes holding hands in the air and a handshake

Dr. Kelly Crace

Episode 131: February 20, 2020

Cultivating Joy In Your Work

Do you like your job? Does it make you happy? Despite a good economy and low employment, a number of recent studies by organizations such as Gallup, Deloitte, and others state "the majority of people in America and the world do not like their jobs. The majority are not engaged at work." There area number of reasons for being unengaged: A bad boss, a low salary, poor company culture, and the list goes on. But our guest today says if you're unhappy at work you can do something about it. In fact, he says you can find joy in your work. Dr. Kelly Crace is a licensed psychologist. He's Associate Vice President for Health and Wellness & Director of the Center for Mindfulness and Authentic Excellence at William & Mary. He joins us on the podcast today to share the four steps that help you cultivate joy in your work.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • Why are a majority of people unhappy in the workplace
  • What factors cause job burnout
  • Do people have different thresholds for workplace strain
  • Are sensitive people at a higher risk for workplace stress
  • What is the difference between searching for joy by intention vs achieve joy by effect
  • What are the four areas of mindfulness
  • The importance of identifying purpose in work and personal life
  • The difference between enjoyment and joy
  • How to identify where you are giving and receiving encouragement in your work and life
  • How do people flourish and cultivate joy while distressed
  • What are five things that change brain chemistry
Transcript

Dr. Kelly Crace: Cultivating Joy In Your Work TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host, Ken White. Thanks for listening. Do you like your job? Does it make you happy? Well, despite a good economy and low unemployment, a number of recent studies by organizations such as Gallup, Deloitte, and others state the majority of people in America and the world do not like their jobs. The majority are not engaged at work. There are a number of reasons for being unengaged. A bad boss, low salary, poor company culture, and the list goes on. But our guest today says if you're unhappy at work, you can do something about it. In fact, he says, you can find joy in your work. Dr. Kelly Crace is a licensed psychologist; he's Associate Vice President for Health and Wellness and Director of the Center for Mindfulness and Authentic Excellence at William & Mary. He joins us on the podcast today to share the four steps that help you cultivate joy in your work. Here's our conversation with Dr. Kelly Crace.

Ken White

Kelly, thanks so much for sharing your time and being with us on the podcast.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Thank you, Ken. It's good being with you again.

Ken White

Yes, and you've been a guest more than once, and not many people have. And that tells you that, you know, I think what your area of expertise and what you do. I think so many people find it really fascinating. When people when you meet people, and they ask you what you do. What do you say?

Dr. Kelly Crace

Well, I talk about just the honor I have of being able to be present to hear the human story. I mean, that's really what led me to the field of psychology is not necessarily this real strong drive to help. It was a fascinating curiosity with the human story and being very fortunate to know that in that curiosity, that leads to it being helpful. Which I am happy to be a part of helping people, but I'm not the one that helps. It's usually that person helping themselves and feeling understood and us working collaboratively together. And so the ability to just say I'm just professionally curious and personally curious at all times is what has led me in my research and my clinical work.

Ken White

Before we get into our topic, I do want to talk about the center we're recording in the center. It's fascinating. Can you tell us about it?

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yeah, it really is. It's about kind of the architecture of wellness, the architecture of resilience. We really wanted to create a place in the heart of campus that really showed how prominent and intentional wellness should be in our life. But to look at it from a holistic perspective. So in the building, you'll see everything from the full continuum of prevention and health promotion to intervention, both in traditional medicines as well as complementary treatment modalities. And it's a Frank Lloyd Wright style design.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

And that the intention is if you looked at all four corners of the building and stood in all four corners of the building, you would see a different building. And it's designed to kind of portray the multidimensionality of wellness. The intent of it is really for students to for this to be a learning center for students to learn. What does wellness look like for me, and what does the harmony of wellness look like for me among the many dimensions of wellness. And for them to be active in that and for them to know that it changes and is a dynamic part of their life throughout the four to five years that they're here.

Ken White

What is the response from the students been like since the building's been open?

Dr. Kelly Crace

They have owned this building.

Ken White

Nice.

Dr. Kelly Crace

We actually did a study, a groundbreaking study collaboratively with UVA and William & Mary, where we did a pre-test, a pre-assessment of the culture before the building was built and then a year after the building was built. And we're going to do it every year afterwards for longitudinal reasons to see in what way is it affecting the culture? How are students and staff and faculty seeing wellness and thinking about wellness? And there is a shift going on, and they do get it. It is interesting as the research showed that students are still coming in for like a specific reason. Like I came into the building to get an allergy shot, but they leave feeling like something bigger is going on, and they always return. They engage in more activities and programs and services here as a reflection of what the building speaks to them. So I always joke about the fact that because it's in the heart of campus, I tell them that you may not walk in the building, but you've got to walk by it every day.

Ken White

Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Crace

And it's intended to compel you to think about your wellness. And so they really seem to be embracing that concept.

Ken White

It is a fantastic facility, and I get it. I could see coming in for one purpose and then really opening up your mind on a lot of other possibilities. You recently gave a talk on the campus of William & Mary, cultivating joy in your teaching. And I reached out to you, and I said, can that transfer to cultivating joy in your work? Because so many people just seem on edge now, are unhappy with their work. And you said yes. Are you seeing am I correct in saying it seems like many people are sort of struggling with happiness and fulfillment professionally now?

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yes, I think there is living in this kind of relentless world of pace and noise, and change and uncertainty is causing a level of stress that quickly moves to strain. And that's kind of where joy starts to diminish. Stress is a good thing, but the minute stress kind of drifts into strain, that's unsustainable. And that's what leads to burnout. Part of the workaround this workshop about joy came from our research. As you know, my life's work for the past 30 years has been trying to understand what really predicts flourishing.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

And one piece of that work has involved spending time looking at burnout and looking at the factors that kind of cause burnout. More importantly, we were really interested in seeing what do people do that thrive during periods of burnout or that prevent it. So burnout is when you kind of reached this place of strain

Ken White

Hmm-mmm

Dr. Kelly Crace

in your life, whether it's a work role or another role. And so what did people do that prevented stress to move into strain, or that when people found themselves under strain, how did they successfully move back into a healthier place? And we found that there are some very distinct intentionalities that people do that well.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

And it really is an intentionality, and so that's why I use the term cultivating joy instead of finding joy or experiencing joy. We found this is work. It's the work of wellness. And to experience genuine joy in our work and in our lives. It requires work.

Ken White

Right.

Dr. Kelly Crace

And so what does that work look like? And that was kind of the nature of, but it's funny

Ken White

Right.

Dr. Kelly Crace

that the topic was about teaching.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

But the conversation quickly became about for you to find joy and cultivate joy in your teaching. You have to think broader. You have to think beyond just teaching. And that's a lot of what the conversation was about.

Ken White

We'll talk about that in just a minute, the four intentionalities, but I thought of a question as you were talking about strain. Do people have different thresholds for strain? You know, some person, one person can really hang on for a while other person maybe not.

Dr. Kelly Crace

It's highly variable, it's very individualized because of a person's life experiences, both internally, you know, their biological makeup

Ken White

Right.

Dr. Kelly Crace

and just who they are as a person, plus their life experiences as they've grown up affect they attenuate. They can either buffer against our tolerance of strain, or they can amplify our sensitivity to strain. And interestingly enough, one of the factors that we found that really didn't predict a level of distress, tolerance, or strain is this notion of sensitivity. We used to think that sensitivity was a weakness and a lot of people that are kind of highly sensitive people, that they feel things deeply and they think deeply. Many of them were often socialized growing up as children as saying you're too sensitive or connoted in some way a level of weakness. When, in fact, one of the things that we know leads to a real strength and is a predictor of flourishing is a degree of sensitivity. It's about how do I manage that sensitivity in a way that it works as the power that it is rather than the strain that it can become. So it's really about managing our life in a way that allows our gifts to truly be expressed.

Ken White

So when we talk about the four intentionalities. Can you walk us through them?

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yeah, so as we look through this and I'll stop with each one to see if you have any questions.

Ken White

Great, yeah.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Or anything like that. Or for me to clarify if you want to. But one of the things that we looked at and it's kind of I come from the mental health profession and largely to some degree. It's our fault that we've created somewhat of an expectation of searching for joy, searching for happiness.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

One of the things that we found in the research around flourishing and positive psychology is that we do know that people that flourish, they do experience happiness, they experience more happiness, they experience more joy, and they feel more balanced. So the mistake we made with that at times is we as a profession started kind of setting that up as an expectation. So, therefore, you need to seek happiness, seek joy, seek balance.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

And we find that that actually gets in the way that people that genuinely flourish, they don't strive for work-life balance. They don't strive for joy. They don't strive for happiness. They're more intentional and mindful about a few things that just happen to lead to that. So it's not searching for joy by intention. It's achieving joy by effect, and it's by the effect of being intentional around these four things. And so that's what was fascinating to us in our work

Ken White

Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Crace

is so what are people being more mindful about?

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

The cool thing about it is we all have that capacity for these kind of intentionalities and mindfulness, the truth of it is there are no natural-born flourishers, flourishers, work at it.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

And they're more mindful of the things that they know are important to them. So they accept the work of flourishing and enjoy cultivating joy. It's really around kind of four areas of mindfulness.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

The first area is really doing a reflective period. It's kind of you have to think about it about one. There has to be a reflective period and a clarification, kind of a crystallization period, and their need. Then there needs to be the practice of mindfulness about what you discern from that reflection. So the first reflection that in this workshop that I ask people to think about and reflect upon and share with each other. It was a conversation we all have with each other is where do you currently find purpose in your work. It's centered around kind of three questions. Where do you currently find purpose in your work? Where do you currently find purpose in your teaching? So a little more micro,

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

you know, a little more specific

Ken White

Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Crace

about this teaching part that's in your work. Where do you find purpose there? And where do you currently find purpose in your life outside of work, in your other roles, outside of work? The reason for that is we find striving for passion doesn't really lead to flourishing, but striving for purpose does. And the reason for that is purpose keeps us more value-centered rather than emotion centered. Because if I'm looking for passion, I'm also looking for kind of that emotional charge that comes with passion. But what happens during the week that you're not feeling it that week? That can be affected by a number of different variables that affect your emotions. But you're not feeling the passion. However, with purpose, we can very clearly identify and crystallize. This has meaning to me. This has personal rightness to me, and actually, I don't even have to like it right now. You know, so it can be during times where there can be a lot of things that might be impacting my happiness or just the emotion of satisfaction. And we want to look at that, and you want to honor that and understand what that's about. But you want to lead with purpose and our world kind of doesn't foster that. Our world kind of fosters fear and stress and anxiety to kind of creep to the for purpose, to the foreground. It the emotion our emotional state in this moment kind of creeps to the foreground. We have to intentionally and mindfully bring purpose to the foreground. So we can have a professor that might be saying, you know, honestly, the deepest purpose I have in my life right now is my writing.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

I'm really this feels most right for me. And if I were to prioritize everything in my work right now, it would be writing.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

But I have a contract to teach three three,  three courses in the fall, three courses in the semester in the spring. I don't enjoy teaching right now.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

I enjoy my writing, so I can't wait to rush out of the classroom, and I'll rush in and rush out to get to my writing. Being able to clarify, though, the purpose that is in your teaching honor, the purpose that's in your writing, and it's okay to even prioritize that number one.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

But when you're stepping into that classroom, what purpose is there for you? Cause there is it's there at some level.

Ken White

Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Crace

If I can clarify that and crystallize that and then be mindful about that. Even if I'm mindful the minute before I walk in the class, I'm fully there in that moment. I'm fully there teaching with my purpose. Even if that purpose is 10th on my priority list

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

when I'm there teaching, I'm fully there, and I'm fully engaged. And then, when I leave, I can fully and without guilt step right into my writing at a deeper level of purpose, too.

Ken White

And that that that example is like every job, that there's a million things we all have to do

Dr. Kelly Crace

There are.

Ken White

in business and in every sector. Educate. Interesting. Very interesting. So start off with the reflection and the clarification stage.

Dr. Kelly Crace

And then there has to be the commitment to the purpose. So to what you reflect and clarify, the reflection and clarification for this first intention is truly clarifying at my life right now. Where is there purpose in my work, and where is there purpose beyond my work? And then step into that purpose very mindfully. Every time you engage in those roles, every time I step into work today, I'm going to lead with my purpose.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Every time I go home or step into my other roles in my life, I'm going to lead with that purpose. That tends to cultivate a deeper level of joy.

Ken White

Sure. Yeah. That's fun. Yeah. The next step

Dr. Kelly Crace

The next step, the next intentionality, is where do you find enjoyment in your work, and where do you find enjoyment beyond work? And so the reflection and clarification is about enjoyment, and that's different than joy. Enjoyment, we're actually talking about restorative health practices. We're talking about restorative things. Small little wants, things that bring us a certain degree of just kind of quiet satisfaction. So I don't have to feel kind of the woo hoo moment of, you know, deep happiness. But where is enjoyment? The little moments or the things that you just find enjoyable right now about your work or and enjoyable beyond work and at sometimes in our life that might be one very specific thing.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

It might be. I just really enjoy that I work at a place that happens to be right next to my favorite coffee shop. So on my way to work every morning, I get my favorite cup of coffee

Ken White

Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Crace

with my favorite person that gives me that coffee. And that's pretty much it right now.

Ken White

Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Right now, my enjoyable part of work is my cup of coffee in the morning. The thing about this is if we're doing our enjoyable activities, but shooting our mind somewhere else of I'm doing this, I like this, but I should be doing this or I should be doing that. You're actually not experiencing the restorative benefit of that want.

Ken White

Of course.

Dr. Kelly Crace

And so the mindful intentionality around that, Suzuki, a zen philosopher, said when you wash the dishes, wash the dishes.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

And so it's about being fully engaged in that activity. We just simply find we have so many shoulds in our life.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

We really need to intentionally bring wants into our life, small, enjoyable wants that are a part of our life. Small ones, everyday ones that take a little more time every week and ones that take a little more time every month. It allows us to accept the shoulds in our life. And if we're mindful about these enjoyable moments, they have more bang for their buck. They really become restorative. The purpose of that second intentionality is, how do we make sure we're bringing our restorative practices front and center?

Ken White

I grew up with a guy whose family at the dinner table the father would say every night. What was the highlight of your day? That relates right to that.

Dr. Kelly Crace

That's a great question.

Ken White

Then you're thinking about the enjoyment. And that would lead to happiness and other positive feelings.

Dr. Kelly Crace

It's so funny you bring that up. One of the things that we share with parents. I meet with the first-year parents every year as they bring their adult son or daughter to school and one of the things, one of the tips and strategies we give them to help join us in this quest of helping their adult son and daughter flourish is that there's this natural tendency that when you talk to your adult child when they come to college, is when you're talking to them, you're naturally going to say, how did it go? How was your class? How was your quiz? How did you do? How's it going? Which is fully fine,

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

but it's intentional out of love. But it causes the person to start thinking evaluatedly. They start thinking like they're reporting in. And that just eats away at kind of their sense of that expressive mindset that leads to flourishing. Instead, what we ask them is just what you shared that that man did at night, at night at dinner.

Ken White

Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Crace

We ask them that when they get on the phone, ask them to share a highlight

Ken White

Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Just share a highlight with me, and that encourages them to think about the meaningful moments of the day.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Dr. Kelly Crace in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary's School of Business. If you want to think and lead strategically in your division and across the organization, the Center for Corporate Education has the program for you. The Certificate in Business Management is a five-day program taught by William & Mary's world-class faculty. Each day is devoted to one important topic, including communication, managerial accounting, operational effectiveness, business strategy, and executive leadership. The next Certificate in Business Management program takes place at William & Mary from April 20th through the 24th. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation on cultivating joy in your work with Dr. Kelly Crace.

Ken White

The third intentionality.

Dr. Kelly Crace

The third intentionality is being able to reflect and clarify. Where are you giving and receiving encouragement in your work, and where are you giving and receiving encouragement in your life around work, beyond work?

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

We found that there's this notion of social support that is really important in cultivating joy, and people that flourish are very intentional and mindful about creating a support network in their life. And it's beyond the support of meaning emotional support, where people are just giving me positive feedback all the time, all the time.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Or just giving me encouragement from the standpoint of making me emotionally feel better. There's actually several dimensions of social support that go beyond just emotional support. There's this deeper level of listening, but there's also emotional challenge, and there's also task appreciation and task challenge. There's shared social reality of I come to you for support because you and I are kind of doing the same things. And so you know what my reality is.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

A Dean sharing with another Dean. An injured athlete sharing with another injured athlete because I only have to get halfway into my sentence. And you already know

Ken White

Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Crace

what my experience is.

Ken White

That's why the whole sales team goes out together on Friday.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Exactly and there's that form of support that shared social reality. And sometimes it's just tangible assistance in material assistance where I'm giving you my time, or I'm giving you my resources.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

What we find is no one person can provide all of those dimensions of social support for us. So you have to develop that social support network to where I know when I go to Lisa. She's always going to be honest with me. So that's why I go with go to her, because she's always going to challenge me and how I think. I go to Ken when I want someone on my corner because he's just always in my corner. He's always gonna give me this encouragement.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

But we need to know who those people are

Ken White

Got it.

Dr. Kelly Crace

and we need to cultivate them. We found that people that flourish are very mindful about cultivating the support around their life and, more importantly, not expecting any one person to do that. But that wasn't it. We found there was a bi-directional piece to this. There was a level of reciprocity that people that are experience more joy in their life. They are equally focused in being mindful about giving support as they are about receiving support.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

And I think that's the relational nature of our species feeling like we're at some part of community and also feeling like I need to feel like I'm contributing to support as well as receiving because if all I'm doing is receiving, we can appreciate that. But there's a certain part of our human nature that wants to feel like we're giving back too when we're receiving.

Ken White

And we hear that in wellness. That's one of the basic things, right?

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yes.

Ken White

When you give, you feel better.

Dr. Kelly Crace

That's right.

Ken White

Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Crace

But they're very well we found interesting about it is they're strategic. They're strategic about their support instead of sitting back and kind of passively saying, do I feel supported? No. Or do I feel supported? Yes. I feel blessed, or I feel fortunate or no. Well, I'm in an unsupportive community. They do the work of cultivating the different dimensions of support they need. Here's the interesting tip we found about giving support. We're naturally inclined as human beings to steer support to be in the dimension that we're strongest at. So if I'm a good problem solver

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

then I'm always going to kind of steer the there's someone's coming to me for help and support. I'll usually steer that in the direction of it being about problem-solving in some way so I can step into my strength.

Ken White

Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Crace

When actually people feel support, when support sought is matched with the support given. So what we have to do in thinking about how do we optimally give support is being very simply going forward with saying how can I be of most support to you right now and being willing to be coached to where the person can say, I just need you to listen. I just need someone to understand. Or they may say, I want your head. I want it. What do you think?

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Or they may actually say, I want you to solve this for me. I want you to fix it for me. But whatever it is, instead of assuming what they need or steering it to where I give you what I'm good at, asking and being willing to being coached is one of the most supportive things we can do.

Ken White

Interesting. And the final intentionality.

Dr. Kelly Crace

The final is the first three or more kind of what we do during the normal hardness of our life. But there are times when also we are going through a period of strain, kind of temporary strain due to the fact that we are experiencing a hardship in life where we're really affected by something and can't necessarily fix it. So there's no problem that if we're affected emotionally by something, and we can solve it, go solve it.

Ken White

Sure.

Dr. Kelly Crace

If we can fix it, go fix it. Always go there first. But there are times in our life where really what we're called to do is cope that we can't fix it. Grief is a great example that I'm experiencing. I'm in a place of bereavement. I'm going to feel bad for a while, and I can't fix that.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

How do people flourish and cultivate joy in their life while heartbroken, while distressed, while going through a place of being affected? And one of the things that we found that people that flourish do very intentionally, very mindfully, is they focus more on self-care than soothing. And we have this natural vulnerability when we're hurting is to move towards soothing. And it's interesting. The actions can actually look the same. It's the intentionality behind them that matters. So when we soothe when the intention is to soothe, our intention is actually to feel better. We're saying at some level; I don't feel good. I want to feel better when the intention is to feel better. We're naturally going to go toward things that will change brain chemistry the quickest because I feel bad I want to feel better. Got to change brain chemistry.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

Well, the five things that change brain chemistry the quickest are our food, drugs, sex, pain, and compelling entertainment. Those are the five things

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

that change our brain chemistry. And there's nothing wrong with any of those five things like even pain. It can be the pain of exercise

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

whatever it is. But the problem is when the intention is to feel better and to soothe, we don't moderate those things well. We don't manage those things well.

Ken White

Yeah.

Dr. Kelly Crace

And it becomes a slippery slope where we become excessive in those things. When the focus moves toward self-care, the intention is to be healthy. We do it for the health of it, not with the intention to feel better. Now, the consequence just may actually also be that I happen to feel better, too. But if I go in and say I'm going to go exercise because it's healthy for me to exercise right now, I'm actually also afterwards feel better. That's just a bonus.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

But the intention has to be for the health of it because I will moderate and manage that activity much better. So if you can combine this kind of combination of the second step of finding little enjoyable wants that are just about restorative enjoyable moments

Ken White

Hmm-mmm

Dr. Kelly Crace

and really appreciating them. That I just this one tree next to my parking spot in the morning, the way it looks,

Ken White

Right.

Dr. Kelly Crace

you know, and taking that moment to really soak that up and enjoy that. Combining that with this commitment to self-care through hardship, that's when it's bumping up a little more. That's when I'm hurting, and my natural inclination is to feel better if in this moment. Instead, I can mindfully ask myself what is a healthy way for me to take care of myself right now. It not only helps move you through this coping phase in a healthy way, it starts to cultivate this very quiet level of joy amidst hardship.

Ken White

All of the steps, as you said, intentionality, it's effort. And especially

Dr. Kelly Crace

Yes.

Ken White

if you're unhappy in your work, you don't want to put forth the effort.

Dr. Kelly Crace

That's right.

Ken White

You want a magic bullet, right? You want something just to say fix it.

Dr. Kelly Crace

You do.

Ken White

But that's not the answer. I mean, the answer is, is to walk through the steps.

Dr. Kelly Crace

And that's why support can be helpful because you don't just do these four things. You sometimes have to fight to do them. And what you're fighting to do is you're fighting through the anger, you're fighting through the frustration of this feels so unfair that it has to be such hard work. And could the world just cut me a break for a minute or two? You know, especially for people that have genuinely experienced cumulative ripple effects of hardship to where they haven't gotten up from that wave before, they get hit with another wave, and they just feel like they're just overwhelmed by the cumulative effect. It's just human nature to decry that and to lament that. And that needs to be a part of our reaction. It's okay for us to as human beings, to react to our world, to emotionally

Ken White

Sure.

Dr. Kelly Crace

react and feel our world. That's okay. We just don't want to lay in there. So people that flourish feel their world very fully. They'll react to their world. You know, they'll say, what the hell on those days when something is happening that's absurd

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Dr. Kelly Crace

and ridiculous. They'll react to that absurdity as a human being. They just don't lay in there. They honor that reaction. And then they move into the intentionality of these steps. And sometimes, we need support to help us with that reaction and with our readiness that right now, I'm not ready to be intentional, because it's kind of important for me to be angry for a while. I just I want to be angry. And that's human nature. And sometimes we need support and help to move us through that because all you're doing there is readying yourself to start doing this work. People often think that insight leads to action, but actually, there's this middle stage of readiness that I may understand the concepts. I may understand these four things. That doesn't mean I'm just going to linearly just move right into action. We then have to ready ourselves both kind of holistically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually for the work. And there have been times, you know, how it is at times when we've known what we need to do and yet we're not doing it yet.

Ken White

Right.

Dr. Kelly Crace

It's just we can often cause that to be a shameful thing. We blame ourselves or what's wrong with me for not doing that. We're just readying ourselves for it. And that's not linear. It takes a little house sometimes. That's why it's important sometimes to have support to help us with that.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Dr. Kelly Crace. And that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. The Center for Corporate Education offers programs that help you reach and exceed your career goals, including the upcoming Certificate in Business Management program running from April 20th through April 24th. The program is taught by the William & Mary MBA faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg BusinessWeek. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest this week, Dr. Kelly Crace, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White, wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Andrea Sarate
Andrea SarateEpisode 130: February 1, 2020
Workplace Strategy with professionals around table

Andrea Sarate

Episode 130: February 1, 2020

Workplace Strategy

Your office, or physical workspace: It has an effect on your attitude, your outlook, and your performance. That's why companies and organizations turn to workplace strategists to help them design a space or facility that promotes excellence, collaboration, and wellness. Andrea Sarate is the Senior Director of Workplace Strategy for Colliers International - a commercial real estate brokerage firm. For 10 years, she's helped organizations get the most out of their physical space. She joins us on the podcast today to talk about workplace strategy, how it ties to productivity, and how the right work environment can lead to happy employees and a healthy bottom line.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What is the role of a workplace strategist
  • How does one become a workplace strategist
  • What skills are required to become a workplace strategist
  • How does the workplace influence culture
  • What is the process for determining the proper workplace environment
  • How long does it take to design a new workplace
  • What contributes to good workplace design
  • Does good workplace design effect productivity
  • How does age effect how a worker views the workplace
  • Should offices employ adjustable height desks
  • What's the next big thing in workplace strategy
Transcript

Andrea Sarate: Workplace Strategy Transcript Download (pdf)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host, Ken White. Thanks for listening. Your office or physical workspace. It has an effect on your attitude, your outlook, and your performance. That's why companies and organizations turn to workplace strategists to help them design a space or facility that promotes excellence, collaboration, and wellness. Andrea Sarate is the Senior Director of Workplace Strategy for Colliers International, a commercial real estate brokerage firm. For 10 years, she's helped organizations get the most out of their physical space. She joins us on the podcast today to talk about workplace strategy, how it ties to productivity, and how the right work environment can lead to happy employees and a healthy bottom line. Here's our conversation with Andrea Sarate.

Ken White

Andrea, thank you very much for joining us. A real pleasure to have you on the podcast.

Andrea Sarate

I'm so thrilled to be here. It's an honor. Thank you so much.

Ken White

You're the first Executive MBA student, current student to be on the podcast. That's great.

Andrea Sarate

Thank you.

Ken White

Yeah, yeah.

Andrea Sarate

I hope I represent my class well.

Ken White

And I'm sure they will tell you. Won't they?

Andrea Sarate

Oh, they will.

Ken White

You have one heck of a class. One thing you and I have in common is on a regular basis we get to walk into Miller Hall, the home of the business school here at William & Mary. And as someone who's been doing that every day for six years, every day I walk in, I just say, wow. I mean, it has an effect on everything. Does that sort of wrap up what you do? Is that what companies are trying to do, and organizations are trying to do, make people feel good by the physicalness of the place?

Andrea Sarate

They are starting to, and that's what is making being a workplace strategist so exciting right now is that people have realized that workplace can be a wonderful tool to really positively impact business. And really help with that attraction and retention of top talent, the workplace. Glassdoor.com did a survey workplaces and the top three reasons that people either like or dislike their work environment.

Ken White

Yeah.

Andrea Sarate

And their job.

Ken White

So what you do? You are a workplace strategist.

Andrea Sarate

I am.

Ken White

What does that entail?

Andrea Sarate

It entails the application of research and experience, understanding how people work. What do they need to work? What are their tools that they need and technology they need so that they can do their best work? My primary goal is to help companies create environments to enable their people to do great things.

Ken White

How does one become a workplace strategist?

Andrea Sarate

Well, actually, that's a wonderful question because everyone comes to it differently. I myself am an anthropologist. So for the liberal arts majors out there, yes, anthropologists do get jobs in Corporate America. But a lot of people come through it as either facility planners and managers, or designers, interior designers, and architects. Anyone that has an interest in how the workplace is created can eventually become a workplace strategist.

Ken White

What are some of the skills required?

Andrea Sarate

Patience, a lot of listening. And I really think the most important one is a just innate deep curiosity about people. Who are they? What do they want? How do they work? And importantly, especially for me as an anthropologist, what is the cultural goals that you're trying to set for your company? You can influence culture. You can nudge it with a workplace. You can't build it or change it or create it, but you can kind of push it along. So if you want to improve the culture of your company or shift it a little bit, taking it to the workplace is a great place to start.

Ken White

And so what's the process like? Can you take us through?

Andrea Sarate

Sure.

Ken White

Is there a process that you generally put into place, or does it vary?

Andrea Sarate

There is, it is always tailored to the client, which is another reason I like the work is every client is different. Even clients I've worked with for several years as their needs and their people evolve and change over time, I had the opportunity to do more in different sites. For example, you spending time in Florida or in Texas? I like the Texas example best. Dallas and Fort Worth are 45 minutes apart, and they are so different culturally.

Ken White

How about that.

Andrea Sarate

So a law firm, for example, has an office in Dallas will create a very different environment than the law firm office in Fort Worth, even though it's the same organization. And so looking at that, the first thing I always want to find out is what's important to you. I would like to ask leadership, what keeps you up at night? And the answer is resoundingly getting the right people and helping make sure I keep them and give them what they need.

Ken White

Yeah.

Andrea Sarate

And the workplace is such a great tool to help impact that. So the first is asking a lot of questions. Finding out what your goals are and then also looking, observing. I spend a lot of time in my client sites watching how they work, seeing what spaces they have, what they don't. A lot of times I'm working with people, for example, when they're relocating. Their lease is up, or they need to build a new headquarters because they've outgrown the one that they have. And I'll come in and help them figure out what does that space need to be like in the future. But you know that takes a while.

Ken White

Yeah.

Andrea Sarate

That might take a year and a half, two years. So part of what I love to do is also look at the existing space and figure out what are the missed opportunities you have right now. Since you're not waiting for the new building to make improvements, you can have some impacts. Now, my own office, I work for Colliers International in Dallas. We've got some wonderful space that no one is using. So the operations manager and I were looking at floor plans yesterday and making plans to remove some equipment and put up some walls and make little phone rooms.

Ken White

Yeah.

Andrea Sarate

For the brokers, which is going to be exciting.

Ken White

So you talk to the leadership. What about the folks who work there?

Andrea Sarate

Absolutely. I try.

Ken White

And how do you do that?

Andrea Sarate

I do focus groups and interviews. We start with a survey, so we get quantitative data about the workplace. But then I also do focus groups and interviews to get that qualitative data, and I always divide individual contributors from the people, managers from leadership. Because what I found over time is generally if your boss is in the room, you'll give a very different answer than if your boss is not in the room.

Ken White

Right.

Andrea Sarate

Still might be a good answer, but it's best to create that candid opportunity to speak.

Ken White

What contributes to a good workplace design? How do you know you're on the right path?

Andrea Sarate

Well, there's always the issue of capacity, but most importantly, and this is the big issue that a lot of companies are figuring out today is you need a diversity of spaces. You need lots of different kinds of spaces. We don't just sit knowledge workers or what we like to call judgment workers. We don't just sit in one place doing one thing all day long. We get up. We move. We go to meetings. We interact with people both physically and then via the web. Now we have colleagues in other places. Are we providing the right kinds of spaces to support all of those activities throughout the day? Thinking about human well-being is incredibly important. We spend a lot of time at work. It needs to not be terrible while we're there. We also want to make sure that we're connecting people. For example, do we have a bunch of tiny little refuel stations with a coffee pot and a tiny little fridge, and everybody eats at their desk? Or do we create a cafe that people can go sit in and have their meetings there when it's not just lunch? You have their one on ones and have those what we like to call social collisions, so I think that sounds a little violent. But those social moments that are the social glue that really holds all of us together and really is what makes a team makes a teamwork.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Andrea Sarate in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary's School of Business. If you're looking to raise your game and take your career to the next level. The Center for Corporate Education offers non-degree programs that help you become a more effective professional. Topics include business analytics, communication, leadership, strategy, accounting, and more. The programs are taught by William & Mary's MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation with workplace strategist Andrea Sarate.

Ken White

When you think of building you've worked on or a facility, you know that you think, man, that's just that was an A-plus. Can you give an example of why it was so good? What worked?

Andrea Sarate

Oh, gosh. Yeah, I built an office in Hong Kong, did it all via headset and Skype, which was pretty fun.

Ken White

Wow, yeah.

Andrea Sarate

I was hoping to go but didn't get to, that was okay. And what was so great is they had been in kind of rented office space. It was super generic and didn't have anything to do with the company or the people. It was just bland space they were sitting in. The new office not only represented the brand of the company, but we engaged all the employees to come up with the names for all the conference rooms. Think about their decorations like what did they want at their desks to represent themselves and their family, and the office to personalize it a little bit, own it. And we also engaged a feng shui consultant because it was in Hong Kong, and we wanted to respect the culture there.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Andrea Sarate

So I think it's important. Any office to be really successful has to be really thoughtfully considered of place. What you need in Hong Kong versus what you need in Stockholm. We built an office in Boulder, and you have to give them storage for all their mountain bikes.

Ken White

Yeah.

Andrea Sarate

Because they do that in Boulder.

Ken White

Yeah.

Andrea Sarate

In Stockholm, we had to give this huge locker room a shower facility. Because to take advantage of the limited daylight, they all go out at lunch and spend two or three hours, you know, skiing or cross-country skiing or whatever. And they all come shower and then they work at night once its dark again. That's not how they work in Virginia, for example.

Ken White

Right, yeah. Can you tie a good design to productivity? Did you see results?

Andrea Sarate

You can. You can. Typically, it's tricky because a lot of those productivity measures are owned by H.R., you know, performance reviews and evaluations. However, in the times that we've been able to work with H.R. as a partner, we can see engagement scores increasing after a workplace project. That's also why post-occupancy survey is just as important as finding out what needs to be fixed ahead of time because then you can measure your success.

Ken White

So after they're in the facility for a while, ask how's it going? What if the answer is that, not great? You can obviously make some changes, right.

Andrea Sarate

Exactly.

Ken White

And tweak things.

Andrea Sarate

And you should. And that's the other important piece about workplace strategy and why I love my job. It's never-ending. You know, our tools and technology and how we work is changing all of the time. So you should always assume that with every workplace project, you're going to hopefully get 90 percent right and build and know that there's gonna be changing. Because what will happen is people will get in the new space and have new opportunities to work differently.

Ken White

Yeah.

Andrea Sarate

And then they will, and then their needs will change.

Ken White

Yeah.

Andrea Sarate

So you're always checking in and working on it. If it's if you're doing it right.

Ken White

Any parallels with generations and age of workers, younger workers like this, older workers like that?

Andrea Sarate

You know, that's a wonderful topic for discussion on LinkedIn these days, is the generations in the workplace. And I can say that it seems to be largely about life stage. Whether or not you're the demands of your family cycle, you know, are you going to get kids from school or daycare or pick mom or dad up from senior care? Those kinds of things, having that flexibility that again gets back to well-being. Are we addressing your needs as a person? Do our policies reflect that? And so that's really more of a policy issue, but it's absolutely about talent and people. And generally, as long as you're taking account that people have lives and other obligations. You'll be in good shape.

Ken White

We visit so many organizations here in the business school, and so many of them have a bunch of cubicles.

Andrea Sarate

Mmm-mmm.

Ken White

What are they good? Are they bad? Do we try to fix them? What's your feeling?

Andrea Sarate

Well, you know, what's funny about that is some people love their cubicles. And if you were to take them away, they would just flip out.

Ken White

Yeah.

Andrea Sarate

Cubicles provide some acoustic barriers. That's actually acoustic fabric that's in there or acoustic material in the cubicle. So that provides some assistance. But most people like to tack up personal items

Ken White

Right.

Andrea Sarate

And really customize their space, and having all those walls of your cubicle can let you do that. The biggest issue is really about having an ergonomic workspace that is supporting your physical self. So having adjustable height tables, ergonomic task seating, and importantly, individual task lighting. Not everyone sees the same way, and having a bunch of fluorescent lights in the room may not be the right level of brightness for all the different kinds of people you have in your space. So giving everyone a task light can go a long ways to helping people be productive.

Ken White

How about stand up, sit down? How much of that do you see and what are companies and organizations doing?

Andrea Sarate

Well, really, adjustable height work surfaces should be standard. And the idea is that the human body was meant to move. It's not good to stand all day. Just good as it’s not good to sit all day. The idea, generally speaking, guidelines are that you want to be standing at least 15 minutes out of every hour since you have 2 hours total by the time you get through a regular workday. I like to call it the prairie dog effect. Like after lunch, you'll see one person stand, and then boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, everyone else will start. They will be like, oh, right, my desk moves; I should get up. And so when you first implement adjustable height desking, you need to recruit your standing leaders, or you can put timers either in your outlook, your calendaring system. Or there's some systems where the desk itself will tell you; hey Andrea, you've been sitting for a couple hours time to get up.

Ken White

Interesting.

Andrea Sarate

A lot of options for that.

Ken White

I've seen some conference rooms that have solid walls, some glass, some frosted glass, just considering laws and culture. What what's the way to go at this point?

Andrea Sarate

Typically, glass is always welcome because you want the light from the windows to people to penetrate the conference room. But having that frosted band in the middle does allow for privacy because there are times if you're putting your financials. You don't necessarily, or maybe it's your performance scales.

Ken White

Sure.

Andrea Sarate

You don't want to have those. You want to be able to have confidential materials. So by having that, being thoughtful about confidentiality, having that be an option is a great thing. There are also some products that have the current, and there's a particulate sandwich within the glass. You can flick a switch, and it will go opaque.

Ken White

Nice, nice.

Andrea Sarate

That's pretty fun

Ken White

Temperature. It's fun in this building where we work. Everyone wants a different temperature. How in the world do you deal with that?

Andrea Sarate

It's a lot of negotiating. There are some technological systems that you can have an app, and you can control what your temperature is. That gets really challenging from facilities management perspective. If everybody is messing with the thermostat, facility managers hate that. So typically, it's about balancing. Usually, if there are hot and cold spots, it's probably been a few years since your HVAC system was balanced, and you need to come back in and check them.

Ken White

If you have a crystal ball, what's coming down the pike? What's the next big thing in the next 5, 10 years that we'll see in your world and those of us who work in buildings that we'll see?

Andrea Sarate

I think the greatest challenge we are still facing is telepresence. How are we going to solve the issue of the fact that our team members are all somewhere else? I'm my team is all located all over the U.S. So we have we use Microsoft Teams, for example. We all get on camera, and we talk and have our team catch-ups that way. But it is a little awkward. Most companies can have a lot of talent. They may have entire teams of software engineers, you know, in some other country in another time zone. How are you including them, when you're having those brainstorming sessions and your whiteboarding and collaborating? We haven't found a way to do that yet, well. There's a lot, but there are a lot of really smart people working on it. So I think that'll be the next thing.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Andrea Sarate. And that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. The Center for Corporate Education offers programs that help you reach and exceed your career goals. And the programs are taught by the William & Mary MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg BusinessWeek. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest this week, Andrea Sarate, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White, wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Katherine Rowe
Katherine RoweEpisode 129: January 15, 2020
Thriving Among Rapid Change with emerging butterfly

Katherine Rowe

Episode 129: January 15, 2020

Thriving Among Rapid Change

She's an entrepreneur, an athlete, coach, teacher, scholar, and listener, and she's at the helm of America's second-oldest university. Katherine Rowe became President of William & Mary in the summer of 2018 - the first woman to serve in that role in the university's 325-year history. Since her arrival, Rowe's been focused on making William & Mary a university that thrives amid rapid change. One that successfully serves people and organizations for the long haul. She joins us on the podcast today to talk about life as a university president, the importance of cross-training, and how public liberal arts and science universities are preparing the next generation of innovative leaders.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What is daily life like for a university president
  • What skills should a university president possess
  • What is Katherine Rowe's background
  • How does a sports background benefit an entrepreneur
  • What drew Katherine to William & Mary
  • Why is a liberal arts and sciences program important for those entering the business workforce
  • How are universities and schools of higher learning changing how they teach
  • Where will undergraduate education be in ten years
  • What's it like for Katherine to be the first female president of William & Mary
  • How does one become a university president
Transcript

Katherine Rowe: Thriving Among Rapid Change TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host Ken White. Thanks for listening. She's an entrepreneur, an athlete, coach, teacher, scholar, and listener, and she's at the helm of America's second-oldest university. Katherine Rowe became president of William & Mary in the summer of 2018. The first woman to serve in that role in the university's 325-year history. Since her arrival, Rowe has been focused on making William & Mary a university that thrives amid rapid change, one that successfully serves people and organizations for the long haul. She joins us on the podcast today to talk about life as a university president, the importance of cross-training, and how public liberal arts and science universities are preparing the next generation of innovative leaders. Here's our conversation with William & Mary President Katherine Rowe.

Ken White

Katherine, thank you very much. You're busy, but you're spending time with us. I greatly appreciate it. Welcome.

Katherine Rowe

Thank you so much. I'm really thrilled to be here, Ken.

Ken White

So a university president. I don't know that people know what that job entails. What do you do for a living?

Katherine Rowe

Well, every day is atypical.

Ken White

Yeah.

Katherine Rowe

There at least four things that I'm always doing in one way or another. One is that in partnership with our board, I am setting strategic direction for the institution. And in that process scanning the environment for incoming challenges and opportunities and then listening to our constituencies. The second thing that I'm doing is I'm deepening the relationships between this university and our external constituencies. Partners, alumni, donors, the legislature, the business community, and strengthening the relationships internally cause we're an institution that really cares about deep human connections.

Ken White

Right.

Katherine Rowe

That's part of our business model.

Ken White

And you said atypical no two days are the same, I assume.

Katherine Rowe

There's a lot of travel. I don't love airplanes, but I do love spending time with our far-flung alumni, and on campus. I am with students, with faculty, with staff, with senior leadership, connecting with our regional partners in the city and beyond.

Ken White

How long is a typical day?

Katherine Rowe

Oh, 10 - 12 hours, but I move fast, and I like moving fast.

Ken White

What abilities should a university president have? What skills should they bring to the table?

Katherine Rowe

You need to be able to work between a good sprint and a good long endurance run. So it's partly a sprint sport, and it's partly an endurance sport, and as a lifelong athlete and coach, I have both skill sets.

Ken White

Yeah, let's talk about your background athletics, entrepreneurship. Um, yeah. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself from that standpoint?

Katherine Rowe

Well, I am somebody who has thought of myself as extending my range and cross-training across many different domains. So I am a coach and very competitive. I have had a very satisfying life as an athlete competing internationally as well as nationally. I started a business and learned how to build and run one. How to make a business case. And I think about marketing and distribution, and I am a passionate teacher and scholar. Those are parts of my identity that mattered a lot. And I draw on all of those aspects of my life in my current role.

Ken White

It's interesting that of all the guests we've had on the podcast so many entrepreneurs that have an athletic or a sports background right, it trains them.

Katherine Rowe

That's right. And they're incredibly close alignments between those modes of thinking. Collaboration is one, resourcefulness, thinking on your feet, seeking opportunity, systems thinking, looking at the pattern of play coming off halftime, and thinking how do I make an adjustment. What are they doing well? What are we doing well, and how do I maximize one and diminish the other?

Ken White

Every university has unique qualities. William & Mary is certainly unique. What do you feel is makes it a special place? What's it about William & Mary?

Katherine Rowe

A couple of things drew me here. One was a large sense that in the challenges facing higher education right now, which are considerable, it's public higher education that's in the lead in innovating, thinking through the responses to those challenges. And I saw that in the William & Mary promise a way of making the cost of college predictable to students in the commonwealth. We're also deeply committed to liberal arts and sciences as a model. That idea of range and cross-training is really important to the way we think about developing citizens and professionals. And I was drawn to the unique mix of professional schools like the business school and our rich Arts and Sciences undergraduate experience that's fairly unique and certainly very unique in public higher ed.

Ken White

Can you tell us more about Liberal Arts and Sciences? What why is that important to you?

Katherine Rowe

Well, at a moment when as all of our listeners know, the workplace is changing very very rapidly. The ability to think across domains and to transfer what you know from one domain to another, to look around the corner and say what's coming, how do we change, and for what. For the sake of what do we change. Those abilities which are the ones we teach in a liberal arts and sciences curriculum. Those are among the most important success factors. I've been reading David Epstein's book Range, and he has a marvelous idea that modern work right now demands that ability to transfer knowledge and that breadth of training predicts breadth of transfer.

Ken White

Interesting.

Katherine Rowe

That's the I'm quoting him there. And I think that that's right. That's certainly been the experience in my life. And as I watch every, I think every member of my board in my small company was a liberal arts and sciences degree and humanities degrees, I believe.

Ken White

Yeah.

Katherine Rowe

Yeah.

Ken White

It was interesting somebody the other day found out that we have Business Analytics program and

Katherine Rowe

Yes.

Ken White

They said wow at a liberal arts school, and I said exactly.

Katherine Rowe

Exactly.

Ken White

That's why.

Katherine Rowe

Exactly.

Ken White

It makes sense. And once we had the conversation, you could see the light. Light went on, and they understood, of course.

Katherine Rowe

Yes.

Ken White

We don't want just people who can generate numbers. We want them to be able to communicate what those numbers, in fact, mean to the organization.

Katherine Rowe

Attach the new domains and corpora that we're gathering of data at scale attach them to mission-critical questions for an organization or business.

Ken White

Yeah.

Katherine Rowe

That's how you gain value from your data.

Ken White

Yeah.

Katherine Rowe

If you can align it with those mission-critical questions and so it's that alignment that systems thinking, to go back to your beginning question, that I think entrepreneurship and athletics and liberal arts have in common.

Ken White

Yeah.

Katherine Rowe

We cultivate systems thinking.

Ken White

In addition, in terms of your entrepreneurship background and innovation. What other pieces of that life do you pull in to use in your presidency?

Katherine Rowe

Well, I certainly use my life as a parent. We were just talking about that. I have the playdate rule for meetings. Which is that you always end before people are finished because at the moment when they're still excited about the work, and there's a sense of energy about the work ahead, that's when you close the process down and say let's meet again next week. Same principle for playdates that I've used my whole career.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Katherine Rowe in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary's School of Business. If you're looking to raise your game and take your career to the next level, the Center for Corporate Education offers non-degree programs that help you become a more effective professional. Topics include business analytics, communication, leadership, strategy, accounting, and more. The programs are taught by William & Mary's MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation with the president of William & Mary Katherine Rowe.

Ken White

You've placed considerable time and energy and effort in the strategic direction

Katherine Rowe

Yes.

Ken White

Of the university for those who are unfamiliar. Can you tell us about what you've done so far and where you hope to go with that process?

Katherine Rowe

It began my first month on campus, which was listening to the campus think forward. We called. We held this long series of open conversations for the whole community, asking as you think over the next decade and more about the work you do. What's changing and what we heard back very powerfully was everything. So the very first conversation was with faculty about changing ways of knowing, modes of knowledge, and we said what's changing in your discipline, and it was a humanities faculty member who put his hand up and said everything. Who my students are, the technology I use in the classroom, the questions I ask, the context for our learning, what students bring in into the classroom, the content we teach. Everything's changing, so the next question became after that series of conversations, how do we pursue that insight into the necessity and omnipresence of rapid change. To me, we needed a theory of change. That's one of the roles of a leader. Certainly, the university president is to say at a high level what is it that we're engaged in and for the sake of what. Why do we change? We change in order to advance what we value most. And so I spent some time working through that idea in the service of what do we change. Right now, we're engaged in strategic planning, starting with the big picture external question. What's changing in our external environment? And once we've settled on our sense of what are the dominant trends that are facing higher education and facing our predominant constituency students, then we'll begin to develop some strategies to address them.

Ken White

It's interesting almost everyone in business I talk to and say what's up. It's change. I mean, there's not an industry that isn't faced with it. Higher Ed certainly. If you had a crystal ball, any idea where higher education will be in say 10 years say undergrad education. Where do you see that in a decade?

Katherine Rowe

It absolutely is. We're certainly hearing it from business leaders.

Ken White

Right.

Katherine Rowe

The number one thing. First, they say I need some tech skills, but I need adaptable tech skills. And then the number one thing that they asked for is great writing skills. Writing is not a soft skill. It is a craft and an art, and it is a practice, and it's much slower to learn than quantitative skills.

Ken White

Yeah. In terms of the way, higher education looks right now universities where students come for four years and live in a residence hall and so forth. Do you see that changing over the next couple of decades?

Katherine Rowe

Well, we're interested in expanding the flexibility of that model. For example, at William & Mary, we have a dual degree with St. Andrews, one of the rare joint degree programs in the country. We are looking at how we use the summer for undergraduates. We're going to be piloting the concept of a summer and intensive summer minor computer science first. So what's a super high value minor that you could get in a single summer. Data sciences might be another one. Environmental sciences might be one. What's a super high value minor 15 to 18 credits intensively in a short period of time. That gives you a boost on some area that you want to move into as you're exploring your passions.

Ken White

You're the first woman at an institution that was founded in the sixteen hundreds to be the president.

Katherine Rowe

Yes.

Ken White

Do you think much about that? And if so, how?

Katherine Rowe

The most exciting part of that for me is that when I walk into a room and people are meeting me for the first time; it's an invitation to the question. What else do we want to change? And I'm a longtime reader of Hannah Arendt, wonderful 20th century, such a philosopher who spoke about the importance of thinking about what we're doing. That simple sentence. Think what we are doing. The invitation to reflection on what we are doing, why we're doing it, what matters, and how we do it. That's what the difference in a new kind of president can mean in the conversation in the room. So I think of it as an invitation to think what we're doing and ask what might we want to do differently.

Ken White

I've been in large rooms a couple of hundred people in the room, and when you're introduced and when you get up there, they're juiced. Do you feel that? Do you see it?

Katherine Rowe

Yeah, I do.

Ken White

That must be incredible.

Katherine Rowe

It's incredible. It's such a privilege.

Ken White

Yeah.

Katherine Rowe

This is an amazing place. The students, the faculty, the staff, and leadership that I get to be partnered with. It's thrilling to be part of this community.

Ken White

Yeah, it's sort of like no other job and no other sector.

Katherine Rowe

Absolutely.

Ken White

It seems to me, yeah.

Katherine Rowe

Absolutely, I said earlier on our business model in higher ed is about long term relationships. If we do our job well, we have a relationship with a human being for maybe decades, right.

Ken White

Yeah.

Katherine Rowe

And so we think in terms of the investment that compounds over time in relationship, in knowledge because knowledge is another compounding investment. And then in their prosperity personally and the prosperity of their communities. We're in it for the long game. And it's thrilling to step in as somebody new to this amazing institution and be able to talk about what it means to be part of a three hundred and twenty-seven-year-old institution. We're always in it for the long game, and we innovate. We've led a number of innovations in higher ed, and we want to lead some more.

Ken White

And as it's speaking to an alumnus, I assume they're saying the long game; that's what I want to hear from my alma mater because they care about me in my 40s and my 50s and 60s.

Katherine Rowe

Yes.

Ken White

So does that. What will we have to be offering programs and working closer with that group as they age and mature?

Katherine Rowe

We will. The fastest-growing population of learners in the country are adults, especially adults with degrees already. So as we think about what is a world-class university in the 21st century, it's a place where you return to, to learn, and lots of different modes. I think the business school here has been very exciting in the ways it's explored that and thinking about blended degrees online and in person. And then thinking about adults as an important part of our community.

Ken White

Yeah, no doubt. I mean people are living so much longer they’re so much healthier they want to learn.

Katherine Rowe

And the workforce asks for it. And our lives as citizens ask for it. To be complex problem-solvers, we need to be reactivated in the way we learn over and over again.

Ken White

If someone listening either works in higher education or doesn't and says I'd love to have her job someday, I'd love to be a university president. What kind of advice do you have?

Katherine Rowe

Cross-train, cross-train. You are developing skills and domains that you don't think about. You don't recognize. Many of my strongest skills as a manager, for example, developed in the process of coaching young adults and adults, and I love that I love the I love creating leadership culture. I love working with senior leaders and being their partner and think about how they grow and how we together grow the institution's success. So I would say cross-train, take that lesson of range.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Katherine Rowe. And that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. The Center for Corporate Education offers programs that help you reach your career goals, and the programs are taught by the William & Mary MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest this week, Katherine Rowe, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Sarah Levitt
Sarah LevittEpisode 128: January 1, 2020
Your best year ever with 2020 background

Sarah Levitt

Episode 128: January 1, 2020

Your Best Year Ever

A new year. A fresh start. For many professionals, it signals a new beginning, such as seeking a new job or promotion. For others, it's a time to set goals. Goals that can make the upcoming year your best year ever. Sarah Levitt is a leadership coach. She works with CEOs and executives of Fortune 1000 companies and senior leadership teams. In addition, through her Making Magnificence Project, she's met with top leaders to capture their leadership and success journeys. She joins us on the podcast today to share with us what she shares with senior leaders: The importance of presence, influence, authenticity, and how to make the year ahead a great one.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • Why is it important for a leader to define what is best for them and their organization
  • How does a leader know if everyone is rowing in the same direction
  • What personal areas of development should a leader work to improve
  • Why does executive presence matter
  • What does influence mean in relation to leadership growth
  • How is authenticity defined
  • What qualities should a leader possess who was promoted from within versus one who was externally recruited
  • The importance of developing key stakeholders
  • When should a leader hire a leadership coach
  • What is the role of a leadership coach
  • How does one deal with imposter syndrome
Transcript

Sarah Levitt: Your Best Year Ever TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host Ken White. Thanks for listening. A New Year, a fresh start for many professionals it signals a new beginning, such as seeking a new job or promotion. For others, it's a time to set goals. Goals that can make the upcoming year your best year ever. Sarah Levitt is a leadership coach. She works with CEOs and executives of Fortune 1000 companies and senior leadership teams. In addition, through her making magnificence project, she's met with top leaders to capture their leadership and success journeys. She joins us on the podcast today to share with us what she shares with senior leaders. The importance of presence, influence, authenticity, and how to make the year ahead a great one. Here's our conversation with leadership coach Sarah Levitt.

Ken White

Well Sarah, thank you very much for joining us. First of all, Happy New Year.

Sarah Levitt

Happy New Year to you and thank you for having me.

Ken White

Oh, it's our pleasure. It's 2020. That isn't that hard to. That's hard to get in my mind, 2020.

Sarah Levitt

The beginning of a whole new decade.

Ken White

How about it. Yeah, yeah.

Sarah Levitt

That's crazy.

Ken White

So you know this is the time of the year where a lot of people take a look whether they're aspiring leaders, they are leaders and say you know this is the year. I want it to be the best year ever. How with your clients, how do you help them make that happen?

Sarah Levitt

The first thing that we look at is what the best actually means. So most of my. And that's, and that's an important distinction. So most of my clients are either CEOs or senior executives who are running companies. And so best is important to define. What does that mean? Are they up-leveling to an elevated role, and what does performance in that role mean? If they're a CEO, typically best means growth as it does for any anybody. Both for the organization and for themselves.

Ken White

I see.

Sarah Levitt

So you know in an ideal world a CEO grows with their organization.

Ken White

Mmm-hmm.

Sarah Levitt

So the first thing is determine what is best and then how can we accelerate their trajectory to get there. What do they have? What can we leverage? And then really it's a matter of what external resource if they want to use one, is best suited for that.

Ken White

How do we determine those goals, I guess?

Sarah Levitt

Yeah. That's a great question. The bottom line is they're always related to growth. This is the business world.

Ken White:

Right.

Sarah Levitt

And in some way it's going to come down to growth and leadership is directly tied to that. You know we want to have the right person leading with the right vision and focus. We want to have the right team in place, right people in the right roles and all the oars have to be in the water. I mean, it's an overused metaphor, but really, people have to be rowing in the same direction, trusting of one another, and able to execute.

Ken White

So what's the best way for the leader to know that everybody is in the boat rowing at the same time?

Sarah Levitt

Rowing in the same direction. So I'm gonna turn that around. Most often, they know when they're not.

Ken White

Got it.

Sarah Levitt

Because again, getting back to growth, two things are typically not happening or not happening well, and that's projects aren't being delivered on time. So it's time and budget right. So projects aren't being delivered on time. Deadlines aren't able to be met in a timely manner. And there might be budgetary overflow.

Ken White

So then if we're gonna reach out this is gonna be the best year ever the first thing we do then is really look at performance and

Sarah Levitt

Absolutely.

Ken White

Ultimately the bottom line and growth.

Sarah Levitt

Yes. So what do we want? Right. What do we? How's everything going kind of a check-in. What do we want to move the needle on? For the individual leader. This is key for the individual leader and for the organization. So what are the business outcomes that we're looking to drive? And that's typically again not to be repetitive here. It's going to be related to growth. So capturing more market share, getting there first, beating the competition, etc.

Ken White

As working with leaders, what are some of the more personal areas that a client or a professional might be focused on in the year ahead?

Sarah Levitt

Yeah.

Ken White

To improve.

Sarah Levitt

Yeah, absolutely. And I would say you know one of the things I discovered when I was interviewing leaders of all domains for the making magnificence project, which became magnificent leadership. One of the things I noticed that was a consistent theme, no matter the leader, no matter the domain they were leading in was this ongoing quest for self-mastery. So leaders really who are already performing well and those are the folks I work with. They're always looking to kind of take their success and the success of those around them to the next level. That is both external, as we've been talking about. Internally, it can be, and presence is so often used, but executive presence matters in a sense that a leader needs to be able to use their talents and gifts and abilities in a way that is focused pointed in the right direction in a confident and comfortable manner. So that there is resonance with whomever, it is they're interacting with. Sometimes we hear that described as authentic.

Ken White

Mmm-hmm, right.

Sarah Levitt

So that's one domain that is what I might think of as internal. Another is the capacity, and this is really key as people move up inside organizations. Influence becomes more and more critical because to get key stakeholder buy-in across multiple different audiences is a necessity for advancing initiatives.

Ken White

Mmm-hmm.

Sarah Levitt

And so what I think of as influence is when I'm speaking to clients you know who are the three to five people that you need to be visible to? How do you need to be visible to them and align with them to get their buy-in? So those are kind of what I think of as the internal, but the comfort and confidence is key and then influence.

Ken White

Yeah, executive presence is such an interesting arena because we're all different.

Sarah Levitt

We are all different.

Ken White

And I think we define it differently based on the person.

Sarah Levitt

Yes.

Ken White

And then the audience is different. Everybody you're dealing with is so different.

Sarah Levitt

Yes.

Ken White

And to ask the way I think of it is someone with presence is a great communicator meaning they know how to communicate to the various audiences. They know how to shift those gears. How important is that for the leader?

Sarah Levitt

It's essential, right. So that's what I think of as that. That's where presence and influence come together. So a leader's ability to be comfortable and confident in themselves across multiple audiences.

Ken White

Mmm-hmm.

Sarah Levitt

So that means being able to present well to the board. Being able to speak to shareholders. Being able to rally their team, for example. Have great relationships with their colleagues.

Ken White

Mmm-hmm.

Sarah Levitt

Those are all to your point, Ken. Multiple different audiences and a leader needs to be able to relate successfully with each of those.

Ken White

And we tend to think of those qualities that they go along with someone who's outgoing. But that's not always the case.

Sarah Levitt

Absolutely yeah. So what we're looking for is the ability to your point. To communicate and when I think of as really resonate and connect with whomever, a leader is in front of, and that does not necessarily mean someone who is super outgoing. It means being able to tap into, to your point a few minutes ago, what their talents and gifts are and what might make them different but be centered and grounded in those.

Ken White

We hear so much about authenticity.

Sarah Levitt

We do.

Ken White

Yeah. How do you define that?

Sarah Levitt

I think it is a leader anyone's ability to make external what their talents and gifts are in a way that relates to people. So a lack of artifice and being able to relate to someone wherever they are whether that and a great leader, a great CEO is able to walk the halls, I'm always talking to my clients about this, walk the halls relate to folks at any level of the organization as well as the boardroom.

Ken White

Pretty amazing what you find out in the hallway, isn't it.

Sarah Levitt

It is very and that channel going back to what you said a few minutes ago you know when I'm working with an executive in an organization one of the lines of communication that I look at and look for is there a flow of information from the front lines to the executives. Not just from the executives to the front lines.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Sarah Levitt in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary's School of Business. If you're looking to raise your game and give your career a boost. The Center for Corporate Education offers non-degree programs that help you become a more effective professional. The programs are taught by William & Mary's MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek for two consecutive years. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation with leadership coach Sarah Levitt.

Ken White

Do you see where the CEO maybe came up through a certain division was great in that particular area? Maybe 10 years ago they still feel they know what like the back of their hand but boy things have certainly changed.

Sarah Levitt

That can be the case. I often see actually this is an interesting kind of twist, so I often see that when an executive rises through the ranks inside an organization, there's a shift into leadership that has to happen that is internal to them. Because, at times, they are leading their peers.

Ken White

Yes.

Sarah Levitt

And it can be difficult for the leader to assume that mantle of leadership which is part of executive presence. You know it's assuming that mantle of leadership, and it can be difficult for the peers. It's also critical going back to communication that leader be able to elicit dissenting opinion. And sometimes we see this showed up in my interviews for the making magnificence project. Sometimes we see when a leader rises from within. The people around that person are not as comfortable speaking truth.

Ken White

And some of those are friends.

Sarah Levitt

Absolutely.

Ken White

Yeah. Is it lonely at the top? Is that is that true, in your experience?

Sarah Levitt

It really is. So it is you know, like authenticity and executive presence, we hear about these phrases because they are true. Because they're true for the experience. And lonely in the sense that you know a CEO or a senior executive is often dealing with highly confidential information. They have to put on a brave face when things may not be going all that well. And there are very few people that they can share the information with and get trusted input from. So that's often the role that someone like myself fulfills.

Ken White

So what we've been talking a little bit about executive presence. But you also mentioned influence

Sarah Levitt

Yes.

Ken White

How critical that is. And you said those through find those three to five people. Could they be peers?

Sarah Levitt

Absolutely. So those folks are key what I think of his key stakeholders so they can be peers their folks that you need buy-in from to advance your initiatives and the initiatives that are going to matter the most and where you add the greatest value.

Ken White

So new year moving forward, taking all this into account when should someone say to themselves maybe I should have a coach? When is the time for that?

Sarah Levitt

Yeah, that's a great question. So when I think of the folks that I work with who are already doing super well and are again kind of on this quest for continued growth and self-mastery, they are often swimming in the waters of having outside resources. So, however, having said that most often a trigger for me being asked or invited in to work with someone is that they are preparing for, they've been slated for succession, or they have just landed in a new elevated role, and frankly, they're drinking from a firehose. So that's a good trigger. Geez, I am ready to be promoted, or I've been slated for succession. That's a great trigger.

Ken White

And my leadership coach will help me deal with this?

Sarah Levitt

Yes.

Ken White

So what are some of the things?

Sarah Levitt

Yes, so two of the things we've already been talking about right kind of executive presence.

Ken White

Right.

Sarah Levitt

And assuming the mantle of leadership being confident in one's abilities. Right. And we've talked about influence as well. There's also what I call controlled delegation, so the ability to offload in a way that is effective for the leader the person being delegated to the team member being delegated to and to the initiative, and that's a tricky process but one that has to happen.

Ken White

Right.

Sarah Levitt

And then building what I call a self-correcting team which also has to happen and that is I used to say can but a team needed to be high performing. And I've changed my thinking on that. A team really needs to be self-correcting. And by that, I mean it can essentially function without the leader.

Ken White

Interesting.

Sarah Levitt

Yeah, that has to be able to happen, or that has to happen for the leader to do what they need to do strategically, which brings me to the last domain, which is having a strategic focus. So oftentimes we hear that you know when a leader gets into an elevated role they kind of have to change what they're doing that what got them there won't get. That's absolutely the case.

Ken White

Yeah.

Sarah Levitt

And part of that is having a strategic focus. So someone might be used to being on the front lines and being the go-to person at 2 o'clock in the morning and getting the call and being the person who fixes it and puts out the fire. And that is no longer their role oftentimes, but they have what I call kind of the knee jerk yes reaction to yes I'm there. Let me put out the fire as opposed to finding and creating a deputy or a series of deputies who can do that for them.

Ken White

So we've made our minds up for this year, we are going to step up, we do step up, we get a bigger role, and become a leader. Is there, we often see, especially in print the term imposter syndrome.

Sarah Levitt

Mmm-hmm.

Ken White

Is that real? Can people run into that?

Sarah Levitt

Yes.

Ken White

And what can they do about it?

Sarah Levitt

It's very real. And I think it probably is you know I can't say for certain, but I think it's probably very real among people who are high achieving for the very reason that I put myself in that category for the very reason that we all want to do well. I've had clients many clients who have imposter syndrome. And frankly, when I work with them, we just set it aside, and we focus on what are the goals and what are the things we need to do to get you there and that success even incremental this those steps toward success begin to build that confidence.

Ken White

Yeah.

Sarah Levitt

Yeah.

Ken White

Getting back to the coach. What's the relationship like. How does a leader and executive work with a coach?

Sarah Levitt

Yeah, that's a great question. So the first thing is in the selection process, and I think of myself as coaching is one tool that I use, but I think of myself more as kind of a trusted and strategic guide to those people in the C suite to help them achieve and accelerate their objectives. So the first issue is how to select someone how to select that person that you want to partner with.

Ken White

Mmm-hmm.

Sarah Levitt

And I tell anyone who is considering working with me or anyone else that the first criteria is that whomever they work with should really feel like a fit in their gut.

Ken White

Mmm-hmm.

Sarah Levitt

And by that I mean not that they're going to be your best friend which is different.

Ken White

Yeah.

Sarah Levitt

But like yeah, that's the person I want in my corner because, without that fundamental trust and foundation, the coach the executive coach can't speak truth which is which has to happen and, more importantly, the person being coached won't really receive it. So the first thing is yes, that's the person I want in my corner, and then I think the second thing to look at is does this person work in the arena in which I either am or am going. And can they show results so you know the waters I swim in are the C suite and for senior executives, they want to know that I've worked in that arena?

Ken White

Mmm-hmm.

Sarah Levitt

Right and can demonstrate results. So I think those two criteria are. I mean, there are others, but I think those two are critically important.

Ken White

And I assume like all coaches you may say some things the client doesn't want to hear.

Sarah Levitt

Yeah, I mean, that's a great point, yes. And I think I also say this as well. There is a real art to showing where someone may be getting in their own way to their own detriment.

Ken White

Mmm-hmm.

Sarah Levitt

And I always tell clients I'm not here to cram anything down your throat. If you can get to where you want to go with the way you're doing things. Fantastic.

Ken White

Right.

Sarah Levitt

You know there is no standard here to which we are aspiring, but if you think you can't or if you can't continue to just do things the way you've been doing them, then let's talk.

Ken White

For those who are aspiring leaders. They don't have the ability to have a coach they want to have a great year ahead. How do they improve? How did they get sort of the help that they ordinarily don't have at their disposal?

Sarah Levitt

Yeah. So that's so I often and always recommend mentors for anybody. So whether that's a senior executive and you'll find that many many most senior executives have mentors along the way have had them. So that's the first thing is to find a mentor. I would say that can be someone inside the organization or outside the organization. But having someone who has experience again in the domain in which this person is in my world that's business experience is helpful.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Sarah Levitt. And that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. The Center for Corporate Education offers programs to help you reach your career goals, and the programs are taught by the William & Mary MBA faculty. Ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest this week, Sarah Levitt, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week and, of course, from all of us here at William & Mary. Happy New Year.

More Podcast Episodes

 Neal Batra
Neal BatraEpisode 127: December 15, 2019
Other centric communication with data flow

Neal Batra

Episode 127: December 15, 2019

Other-Centric Communication

With communication going for you, anything is possible. Without it, nothing is possible, no matter how talented and ambitious you may be. That passage comes from "Positioning," the classic marketing book. And while it's been decades since the book was first published, those words about the importance of communication are more relevant than ever. Neal Batra is a consultant with Deloitte. He's a Principle in Deloitte's Life Sciences and Healthcare practice. Much of his work as a consultant revolves around effective communication. During a recent visit to William & Mary, Batra talked with MBA students about communication and how to become an outstanding other-centric communicator. Afterward, he sat down with us.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What is the role of a consultant
  • How does a consultant problem-solve
  • What skills should a good consultant have
  • Why is good communication the "secret sauce"
  • What are the three foundations of communication
  • What role does an Executive Summary play in effective communication
  • What role do slides play in presenting ideas
  • Why is it important to structure your visual presentation to your audience
  • Where should one start to become a more effective communicator
Transcript

Neal Batra: Other-Centric Communication TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host Ken White. Thanks for listening. With communication going for you. Anything is possible without it, nothing is possible. No matter how talented and ambitious you may be. Well, that passage comes from "Positioning," the classic marketing book. And while it's been decades since the book was first published, those words about the importance of communication are more relevant than ever. Neal Batra is a consultant with Deloitte. He's a principal in Deloitte's life sciences and health care practice. Much of his work as a consultant revolves around effective communication. During a recent visit to William & Mary, Batra talked with MBA students about communication and how to become an outstanding other-centric communicator. Afterwards, he sat down with us. Here's our conversation with Neal Batra.

Ken White

Neal, thanks for taking the time to be with us. Yeah, we're great to have you here. It was fun to sit in earlier this morning; you spoke to first-year MBAs. And it was fun to sit in on there, and we're going to talk today on the podcast much about what you spoke about in class, and that is communication. But before we do consulting, what's your world like what do you do?

Neal Batra

You know it's a large industry in lots of sort of cuts and takes around what we do. But I think the at the heart of it we're solving urging client problems and the reality is that they tend to be complex in nature because frankly if they were straightforward and relatively easy, they would do themselves right. Organizations are talented, and they've got lots of good people, so consulting from our perspective and my perspective, in particular, is I need to come in, and I need to break the problem down in a different way. I need to reframe the narrative in a different way. But there's likely to be real work to be done for you to see it differently. And I think that's the heart of it. I think it's what's so interesting about it for me is that there's real progress being made. You feel like you're sort of addressing a challenge and a need. So it's nice going to work every day and feeling needed, I guess.

Ken White

So every time I've worked with consultants, my teammates and I say they're bringing a fresh set of eyes. That's what you're doing.

Neal Batra

Yeah. That's what you're doing, and you're, and you're using the experiences you have from your previous life in your previous roads to apply that, to see it potentially differently. And so it's an interesting career in the sense that every minute you stay in it, you're more valuable than the minute previous.

Ken White

Absolutely.

Neal Batra

Because you've had a different experience, you've had another conversation you've seen it different, or you've seen a different problem, you know. And as the world evolves and changes and as that speed sort of accelerates what's wonderful is that you know these consulting organizations are oriented and designed to adopt and bring in that new thinking and new tech. And we become in many ways a filter back to the marketplace and to our clients on how to apply it.

Ken White

What skills does a good consultant have or should have?

Neal Batra

Yeah. You know you gotta listen. You got to listen. You got you know I think that's a critical element here. I think content competency is critical. I think you need to know what you're talking about, and you know you can define your expertise and your space as narrowly as broadly as you like, but obviously, you need to be credible in that space. And then, communication skills. Right. So I think it's content it's listening, and I think that ultimately is being able to translate those insights and that work in a compelling way that motivates action. And the challenge so often is that organizations may have an analysis, but they don't actually know how to act on it, or it may have unaddressed concerns or risks or challenges that a very good technical analysis may have addressed. But you may not have touched on the emotional elements that gets people to actually act differently. And so there's a you know I don't wanna get too dramatic here, but there's a psychological element here which is it's not just the technical answer. Oftentimes it's the human answer, and it's the emotional answer, and the people answer, coupled with the technical answer that actually gets you over the line.

Ken White

You said something today, and it was couched in consulting, but when I think of literally every career and every sector, it resonates there, and you said communication is the secret sauce. You know why?

Neal Batra

Secret sauce in the sense that ideas are what move everything, and you can have the most technically efficient analysis, as I said. But if you can't actually communicate it, bring it to life, and motivate folks to do something different, you know what are we doing here. And progress isn't made. So you know if you look at pretty much every great leader and every great change you've had a narrative and a story that folks have sort of grabbed onto and that's moved, people. And so communication is a secret sauce because to say simply that the steak could be great, but if it doesn't sizzle, no one's buying it.

Ken White

Right.

Neal Batra

So the sizzle matters.

Ken White

You talked about the three foundations of communication in class today storyline, the slides, and the delivery, and I thought this is so transferable for literally everyone listening so that we'd walk through that. You talk about the storyline when you is this. Is this where you start in terms of communication with the client?

Neal Batra

You know I think the storyline in many cases so direct answer direct directly. I think the answer is no on that I think the storyline is where you start to get your own thoughts in order. And so as I approach a challenge and a question and an issue, the storyline is how I begin to make sure that I'm breaking this problem down accordingly. I know what is a data point versus an interim summary versus the sort of macro organizing thought. And as I work that storyline, as I work that narrative, I think my communication narrative comes into light and comes into focus. And oftentimes those are those become similar things as you sort of iterate on them, but sometimes they're different the analysis may be one thing, but the way you tell that story may be radically different depending on the audience in the situation.

Ken White

And that was my next question where does the. So it's about you to get you situated that how does the audience come into that?

Neal Batra

Yeah. And then I think that's the nature of what's being asked because there have been instances where you know we'll be asked to come in and speak with an executive or two and we're working for a very narrow audience with a very specific ask. And the way you engage in this story you engage on in those really intimate settings may be less formal, perhaps more casual in nature, more stick and move in terms of bouncing around. You can have an unstructured conversation between two people that's easy, but there are other instances where I may be advising a full team of 10 15 20 execs. And then you need a little bit more structure to engage on that because I need to make sure that as I'm walking a broader group through a set of ideas, is it resonating is that landing. Do I have vehicles for them to actually ask questions back or challenge ideas and helpful of you know appropriate way? So I may communicate differently there.

Ken White

Sure.

Neal Batra

And versus you know a large conference you know I'm a I'm speaking at a conference in a couple weeks. The Financial Times conference in New York, and you know that's an example where I'm going to be in front of a large room. And so how do I tailor my message to my narrative there. We need to probably tailor in a more rolled up simplified way so I can actually project a set of you know maybe complex ideas to a large audience.

Ken White

Yeah. So not only audience but you brought up, setting today you were talking about a certain individual in the message and knowing when the question was. How would that play at a conference room table?

Neal Batra

That's right.

Ken White

So even the geography of geography matters.

Neal Batra

Right, you know, and what's interesting is frankly timing matters. So you know the geography matters in the sense of what's the nature of the room and the conversation. Are you in front of the room presenting and standing up? Are you at a table having a dialogue as a peer? You know that that dynamic changes perhaps how you set it up. But frankly, even the context of the folks you're talking to and what they're you know coming out of a room from and walking into your room. And where's their mind wheres their mindset you know I've had clients in the past where I'll start work with them right after potentially an investor call that you know didn't go well. And so they're going to come in, and you know they're going to be awfully anxious, and they're gonna be very near term focused. And so if I'm having a long term conversation with a team they just came off an investor call, I better start that story very different. I'm going to try to reset their aperture to be more broad because I know what they just focused on was part of the next six or 12 months in terms of what they just had a conversation on.

Ken White

When you when you're talking about developing that storyline, you mentioned the executive summary and writing one. What is that, and what role does that play?

Neal Batra

Yeah, you know I think it's the quote-unquote answer. And it's you know a classic sort of structure which is you want to tell folks what you're about to tell them because in many cases there's real urgency with senior executives to sort of understand where are we. What are you telling me? And then, I can probe and dig on the elements that either I don't understand, or I want to learn more about, or I'm challenging. And so I need to actually get them the answer quickly and then you know again it's a conversation, and so I need to be a good participant in that conversation and make sure that I'm sort of honoring what the interested parties interested in. And so I can continue playing out my story, or I can sort of once you know the whole narrative we can probe in particular areas and spend energy there. And so I've had instances with executives we're told all sort of give the exects summary and tell them a quote-unquote answer and a three or four you know supportive points and action items that I think come with and we might spend the next hour on only one element. You know Neal, I buy the top line comment. I buy the three out of the four elements. Tell me more about why you're recommending x. Why do you believe that? What have you learned? Give me some context right, and then we'll engage in a discussion that may be more educational nature or maybe more like I don't know if I can sell that culturally or maybe I don't know technically if my organization can pull that off. So what would we do there?

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Neal Batra in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary School of Business. If you're looking to raise your game and give your career a boost. The Center for Corporate Education offers non-degree programs that help you become a more effective professional. The programs are taught by William & Mary's MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek magazine for two consecutive years. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation with Deloitte's Neal Batra.

Ken White

You mentioned time, and I've had this question asked a lot of me, and my boss will only give me a minute. Or what if the client only gives me 20 no matter I'm prepared for 20? I've got a minute. How do I handle that? Does the summary come into play then?

Neal Batra

That's exactly where the summary comes into play because if you know your cascading points, your organizing conclusion, the sort of next tier down of supporting content, and then the data that sits below that. Look, you should build tell a story in a minute or in an hour depending on how much time you have and how long you want to linger on those points so classic consulting common is this. Tell me how much time I have? And I'll get you an answer and I'll, and you know the way we tell that joke is I'll get you an answer now. The credibility of that answer may be. Give me a week versus a month versus a year. But you know that the narrative is the same. Point is if you give me a minute, I'll get you the story and the answer. It may not be satisfying from a detail perspective, but if all you've got is a minute, I can get the main points you know points across.

Ken White

Yeah.

Neal Batra

Give me five minutes; it'll be that much better.

Ken White

Right. So from storyline, you move the slides, and are you doing most of your communication and presentations quote-unquote still on slides. Powerpoint.

Neal Batra

You know I use the slides to make sure I'm prepared and my team's prepared, and we know what we want to say. So I use as a vehicle to actually work my thinking. And then depending on the audience, I might use slides, I might use a placemat, which is a single page that I could lay out a couple of slides or a couple of key thoughts and sort of have a single page. There's not a lot of flipping, and that sets up an environment and exchange that's you know more of a dialogue and a more comfortable back and forth dynamic. You know I've done meetings where I'll walk in now you know I'll put on the screen five bullets with each you know three or four words saying we're going talk about five topics and we'll have a whole conversation off the back of that. Again it's situation dependent. And in some cases, it's complexity dependent. All right, if you're dealing with a hypercomplex topic, oftentimes pictures and visuals help move that along.

Ken White

Sure.

Neal Batra

And allow folks to sort of follow the story. It also depends on your audience and how technical they are versus the ability for them to sort of be top-down and broad.

Ken White

In terms of whether or not you present a deck to the client. Do you have a preference?

Neal Batra

No preference for me. You know I think as I said you know we're building the deck because that's that helps us get our thinking square.

Ken White

Yeah.

Neal Batra

And ultimately, when a client's paying for work, they need a deliverable that actually they walk away with.

Ken White

Right.

Neal Batra

So some type of content's gonna be handed over. But I've had you know projects where the final deliverables are a three or four-page Word document just summarizing in a narrative and in a memo type structure. So happy to do that as well you know and again as and as the world gets more technical and more digital and more analytic oriented you know I've seen deliverables recently where we'll hand over models or hand over an app or other sort of digital products will be the quote-unquote deliverable and answer versus a PowerPoint deck.

Ken White

A question I often get is I have my deliverable, and it's a deck of 50 slides, but you know I presented it I put it together to be projected onto the wall. What do I do if I want them to read it? How do you how do you do that?

Neal Batra

Yeah. So I think you need to write that document a bit differently, right. So the way you project or the way you'll build a PowerPoint presentation to a large audience and have that be more of a presentation you might have more whitespace, fewer words, more bullet oriented something that allows a large room to consume that information and feel like they can follow you versus a sit down read deck you might actually have more content in there. And you may bring more of your main supporting materials into the primary body as opposed to appendix. So I think the way you structure the document is a bit different; you know we mentioned today one of the classes that you know if you're at the C-Suite audience, and you've got more than ten slides you probably doing it wrong.

Ken White

Right.

Neal Batra

Right.

Ken White

For that audience.

Neal Batra

For that audience, right. For that audience for that situation, that's not to say your appendix may not be 50 slides.

Ken White

Yeah.

Neal Batra

Right. But the main thing I'm going to talk to you about are these ten ,and I think I can have the entire conversation on these ten, but I have the backup if I need it. Now you may go a level down in the organization, and frankly, you may have a 30 slide presentation same presentation, but you bring far more content into the body because that audience requires that level of detail, and they're gonna want to get to that level of specificity. So again, always situation-dependent.

Ken White

And audience-driven.

Neal Batra

And audience-driven.

Ken White

Yeah.

Neal Batra

That's right.

Ken White

And then you finally you talked about delivery and the importance of delivery in the audience and listening and understanding. What are some of the things that you try to focus on when it comes to the delivery piece of it?

Neal Batra

I watch for body language frankly in response quite a bit because what I'm consistent trying to do is I'm trying to engage a change in action. All right, I'm looking for some movement on the back of this work, or the intellectual exercise is fine, but if we don't do things differently than we're all wasting our time. Right. So I'm looking for connection on the ideas, and both the verbals and nonverbals is that tells me something about whether this is actually motivating them to actually move in a new direction. And if we're getting there and if I'm seeing that you know I want to continue that that sort of dynamic and if I'm not seeing that I'm going to switch it up.

Ken White

Right.

Neal Batra

And I'm going to do a sort of rapid assessment of me and my team trying to figure out is the issue with the content, the recommendation, or actually the story and how we're telling it. All right. And you have misses right you have dynamics where you walk in, and you think this is gonna be a high-level conversation and they want three levels of detail down.

Ken White

Mm-hmm.

Neal Batra

That's a different has a different deal, and we didn't necessarily you know that's a four-hour conversation we have 30 minutes. So how do we manage that?

Ken White

Yeah.

Neal Batra

So you know it's a tricky animal to sort of get this dynamic right, and you know you heard today we spent a lot of energy explaining to the room that the dynamics of the meeting and knowing those and being clear on those is critical. Right down to instances where we'll have some of my folks go into a room the night before I take pictures, so we're all crystal clear on how big is the room, where you know what's the shape of the room in terms of how folks are gonna be sitting, where will we be presenting? Will I be able to see the pages that I'm presenting to or do I need to know them cold. All right. That kind of dynamic in that preparation, I think, facilitates a more natural conversation, and you know gets you there.

Ken White

Might be an unfair question there all of this is important. Is there one element that someone who's trying to become a better communicator connect with that audience a little better. Is there one place they should start or one area in which they can focus?

Neal Batra

You know it's interesting. I got this question actually after one of the classes, and I think if I had to give you one thing, I think it's genuine. I think it's a genuine belief in what you're saying because I think people sense when you're putting on a show. I think people sense when you're not genuinely supportive of the recommendations you're making and when you yourself at a personal level are not vested in that. I think that comes across, and so the ability to bring your true self to the conversation, engage in a meaningful way in a way that's really honest about you, I think, is step one.

Ken White

Right.

Neal Batra

Obviously, you want the right answer, and you want to do the work correctly, and those sorts of things, but somebody who does all those things and lacks passion and a genuine sense of self when they bring it tends to fall flat even if everything else is right.

Ken White

And I think that that genuineness leads to likability.

Neal Batra

Yeah.

Ken White

And then you've got a bit of a connection there.

Neal Batra

And then you've got a bit of a connection and look. This is a you know lots of conversations these days around technology and us it removing you know the human to human interaction, but you know I would argue that everything is more human at this point. A lot of the activities that used to pull us away from engaging I would argue you're going to see automation emerge around, and you're gonna get more collaboration of more of humans more people working hard problems. So I actually see it going in a very different way.

Ken White

Right.

Neal Batra

You know you always see those pictures of folks on subway platforms and everyone's heads down looking at their phone and everyone was like tsk tsk tsk. Look at the world, getting more disconnected. But then you see a picture from the 1930s everyone's on the train in their heads buried in newspaper. So like I don't know. I'm not really worried about it.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Neal Batra. And that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business the Center for Corporate Education offers programs to help you reach your career goals, and the programs are taught by the William & Mary MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest this week, Neal Batra. And thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White wishing you a safe, restful, and happy holiday. Take care.

More Podcast Episodes

 John Osborn
John OsbornEpisode 126: December 1, 2019
Prescriptions, pricing and policy with lab equipment

John Osborn

Episode 126: December 1, 2019

Prescriptions, Pricing & Policy

Americans like their prescription drugs. According to WebMD, the number of prescriptions filled for Americans rose 85% between 1997 and 2016. That's four times the population growth during that same period. While many Americans count on their prescription drugs, many also have an unfavorable opinion of the pharmaceutical industry. John Osborn is a senior advisor with the Washington office of the international law firm Hogan Lovells. Osborn recently visited William & Mary as a guest of the Schroeder Center for Health Policy. He spoke with students about the pharmaceutical industry, drug pricing, and health policy issues. Afterwards, he spoke with us.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What is the prevailing public opinion of the pharmaceutical industry
  • Why is there a largely unfavorable opinion on pharmaceutical companies
  • Is there a drug pricing problem in the United States
  • What are the microeconomic vs macroeconomic differences of drug pricing
  • Is it harder to find investors in the pharmaceutical arena compared to other businesses
  • What is the failure rate of start-up drug companies
  • Is there a generic drug for every brand-name drug
  • What are lawmakers doing to address prescription drug pricing
  • What are drug manufacturers doing to combat high drug prices
Transcript

John Osborn: Prescriptions, Pricing & Policy TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's leaders and subject matter experts from a variety of businesses and sectors. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host Ken White. Thanks for listening. Americans like their prescription drugs. According to Web M.D., the number of prescriptions filled for Americans rose 85 percent between 1997 and 2016. That's four times the population growth during that same period. While many Americans count on their prescription drugs, many also have an unfavorable opinion of the pharmaceutical industry. John Osborn is a senior advisor with the Washington office of the international law firm Hogan Lovells. He's spent over 20 years with leading life sciences and healthcare companies. Osborn recently visited William & Mary as a guest of the Schroeder Center for Health Policy. He spoke with students about the pharmaceutical industry, drug pricing, and health policy issues. Afterwards, he spoke with us. Here's our conversation with John Osborn, senior advisor, Hogan Lovells.

Ken White

Well, John, welcome to William & Mary. Thanks for joining us this morning.

John Osborn

Thanks, Ken. Thanks for having me.

Ken White

What brings you to campus this time?

John Osborn

Well, I went to William & Mary as an undergraduate. My daughter graduated in 2013, and I've become involved with a public policy program, I'm on the advisory board, and one of the professors here asked me if I would talk a little bit about health policy. And that led to a lecture yesterday.

Ken White

Yeah, and I attended it away. It was absolutely fascinating, and it's why we ask you to be on the podcast, so thank you for being here. I thought one of your first questions was interesting. You asked the audience, do you have a favorable opinion of the pharmaceutical industry? What kind of a response do you get from people when you ask that?

John Osborn

Well, you know most of the time, and perhaps you know not surprisingly it's not they're not a lot of hands that go up when you ask whether you have a favorable impression of the industry. And the specific topic that I was focused on yesterday had to do with the life sciences industry, the business model that that industry uses and the concerns that are headline issues right now, around the high price of drugs, and what hits me although I do kind of know that there's been a lot of negative headlines over the years and that their reputation is not great. But what hits me and what I then remind the audience is that you know at the same time that people are frustrated with what they see as a high price of prescription drugs. They also should remember that this is an industry that has over the last quarter-century made incredible breakthroughs and that we now have patients who are able to live and to live reasonably healthy and happy lives when they have HIV or rheumatoid arthritis or breast cancer or other kinds of cancers. The industry's played an instrumental role in doing that. So it's striking to me that given the role that it plays, which may not be well understood that you know people generally still have a largely unfavorable sense of it.

Ken White

People tend to it seems to me jump on the pricing issue, is there a pricing problem in the United States?

John Osborn

You know it's there is a pricing problem in several respects. I think for me anyway there's a pricing problem you know to use the economist phrase in a microeconomic sense that even after President Obama's Affordable Care Act there are still many people in this country who don't have insurance, there are many people who have health insurance, but they might have a very high deductible, or they might have fulsome you know widespread coverage for drugs. There are people who really have they just have an illness where the particular remedy is so expensive that it is backbreaking. And so I don't deny any of that. I also think the industry has done some things that you know we can get into that in a little bit that hasn't helped its cause and has led to really hurt its reputation. But I would say at the same time I try to highlight if you look at the macroeconomic trends the larger trends over let's say 50 years you've been going back to the 1960s the number of prescriptions that are filled with low-cost generic drugs is strikingly high. It's close to 90 percent overall the amount of coverage notwithstanding what I just said about some people lacking coverage the vast majority of Americans do enjoy drug coverage whether that's through the relatively new Medicare Part D for retirees whether it's through Medicaid for low-income folks whether it's just through their employer-sponsored insurance plan. So most people do have coverage, and most of the expense of drugs is paid not out of pocket but by these plans. And the other thing I guess to keep in mind is that while there are headlines around these very expensive innovative new cures things like gene therapies and immunotherapy to treat certain kinds of cancers, I mean these are things that have taken decades to develop. They're often for a very limited number of patients. And so the price is high when it's first introduced. But they also represent truly extraordinary biomedical innovation. So I think if you think about all of those larger trends you would look at the big picture and say wow this isn't a this is not a bad picture.

Ken White

Innovation costs money and in it. And is it difficult to get investors in the pharmaceutical arena compared to other businesses?

John Osborn

Yeah, I mean, I think it is it remains a challenge for early-stage life sciences companies. You know a compound will often get developed perhaps with government funding at the NIH or with the university research grant, but it needs to be developed. It needs to be studied with patients in the clinic, and that's done by companies. I don't think that we should spend a lot of time shedding tears for the likes of Merck and Pfizer and the well-known old large companies, but I just saw this week a piece that's out with reference to a lot of the early-stage biotech companies some of whom themselves make these great discoveries all this stuff doesn't come from the Mercks and the Pfizers of the world and it is hard for early-stage companies to get funding. It's become harder in the last let's say 10 to 15 years just because of the rise of Silicon Valley, the opportunity to invest in software companies, perhaps even in-app companies for your phone. They don't have the regulation; they don't have the expense. And so if you're a venture capitalist and you're looking at where to put your money, it's not that we don't still have specialty Life Science venture firms investing in early-stage biotech, but you know dollars. You know there's a competition for those dollars, and it is difficult in relative terms, and so the specter if you will of a kind of you know relatively significant change that would limit the prices that companies can charge is probably going to have an adverse effect at least on the early-stage companies we're looking for capital.

Ken White

And failure rate. I mean, this is this takes a while. Failure rates fairly high to get to something that's successful correct?

John Osborn

It is part of the equation. I mean, that's also part of that dynamic about why is it hard to get money well because it's really expensive and it's really risky, and it's hard. I mean fundamentally even with all the advances and even with people referring to the 21st century as the biology century. We still don't know as much as you might think about the fundamentals of human biology is probably most evident when you study a neurodegenerative disorder like Alzheimer's which is afflicting so many but in big-picture terms, Ken, we've got let's say there's a thousand compounds that get identified in the laboratory is perhaps having some utility either inhibiting something or fostering something in the body in the biochemistry that would be useful as a drug. Only a small number of those are going to go into the clinic even into Phase 1 to see if there's a safety or toxicology issue. And from Phase 1, only a third of those make it to the large scale study that you need to get approval and only 10 percent actually become drugs, so you're probably going sort of on the order of you know a thousand to hundred to thirty to ten. And so if we could reduce the cost if we could get better at that process that that would be a very good thing.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with John Osborn senior adviser with Hogan Lovells in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary's School of Business. For the second straight year, Bloomberg Businessweek has ranked William & Mary as the number one MBA program in America for learning. The faculty who teach in the MBA program are the same faculty who teach in the programs offered by our Center for Corporate Education. If you're looking to raise your game, consider the center's upcoming programs. The Certificate in Business Management and Business Analytics for Strategic Leaders both programs taught by the faculty ranked number one for learning by Bloomberg Businessweek. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation with John Osborn of Hogan Lovells.

Ken White

You mentioned generics. I think people assume there's a generic drug for every brand name drug. Is that close? Is that accurate?

John Osborn

There are a lot of generics. I think of you know to the extent that you're a skeptic about the value of the industry. And that's certainly fair. One of the things that I try to emphasize to people is that as a society, we've kind of made this implicit bargain, which is to say you know we support and have patent protection and regulatory exclusivity for a brand new innovative drug. And after about 10 to 12 years, that exclusivity goes away, and generics are entered. And that's the bargain we make that you pay a lot in the early years. But the presumption is that there will be relatively cheap generics that will enter the market. And that presumption was then made more explicit in 1984 statute that Congressman Waxman and Senator Hatch develop, which gives specific incentives under the law for generics to challenge branded companies and to then enter the market with a limited amount of exclusivity themselves. You know all that said it is also true as you, as your question suggests is also true that there are a lot of off-patent branded drugs that still don't have generic competition. Sometimes they've had generic competition, but the company making the generic version doesn't stick with it. Sometimes there are supply problems and quality issues. The FDA identified under former commissioner Scott Gottlieb's tenure, which ended recently. This was one of the initiatives that I did you know I'd give credit to them for highlighting about 500 commonly used drugs that are off-patent and that do not enjoy generic competition. So it's a real opportunity. And it goes against this kind of fast hidden bargain that I describe this is the assumption that well OK we're going to kind of put up with these high prices for a while because we really do value biomedical innovation but also because we know down the road there's real consumer advantage in all these generics. Well, of course, that only happens in our system. You know if there is a company out there willing to step up and get the generic approval, so that's kind of what's going on in that space.

Ken White

Are we taking you pointed out 1960 as sort of an interesting time to benchmark? Are we taking more prescriptions as Americans today versus 1960?

John Osborn

Yes, absolutely. And of course, there's been extraordinary innovation there. There's so many new medicines, both biologics, and small molecule pharmaceuticals, then we had then. There are many more medicines. The overall rate I mean what's often cited as a genuine concern is the percentage of our overall health care spend that goes to drugs. And then the percentage of our total GDP that goes to health care. So the latter number is a real concern, and I think those because it's approaching 20 percent even after the ACA I would say this even with the amount of overall the aggregate spend on drugs there is a relationship between the investment as a society that we're making and the spending that we're making on drugs and the overall spend on health care for a long time just worth mentioning that the Congressional Budget Office which does a lot of good analysis on all kinds of things including health care spending by the Federal Government, of course, they came out I think it was at the end of 2012 CBO for the first time recognized formally. And one of their estimates that if you're evaluating different proposals to cap spending on drugs into you know effectively limit the use of drugs, you should also recognize the relationship between spending on medicines and spending on other health care hospitalizations and other services. And that kind of I guess that really in a way ratified what the industry has been saying forever, which is wait a minute. OK. We do things, but we're part of a larger ecosystem of health care, and we should think about the use of prescription drugs in the context of wellness and in the context of total spending on health care.

Ken White

What's happening on Capitol Hill? What's being discussed? What are lawmakers trying to do in terms of pharmaceutical and drugs?

John Osborn

Well, the focus right now is on a bill H.R.3 that's in the House of Representatives that was introduced as you can tell by the number three introduced very very early in this Congress at the beginning of the year. And of course, we're heading into an election next year. And I guess by congressional standards in the calendar time is running short to do much. And there's also, of course, a continued division between the House of Representatives and the Senate but all that said H.R.3 is a bill that Speaker Nancy Pelosi supports. And it's really been labeled the speaker's bill although there are a number of people that are in favor of it. There are some interesting provisions, one of which would seek to undo the prohibition in Obamacare that doesn't allow the government to negotiate directly with drug companies to reduce their prices. This would, in fact, allow that, and it would direct HHS the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate for up to 250 pricing on up to 250 drugs. I think there's a target now of 35, which I guess doesn't sound like a lot of drugs; it's targeting the very high price drugs to make sure we're getting good value for those. It would also buy some mechanism, apply those government negotiated prices to private-sector plans that qualify. And then there are different aspects of it to sort of make this work. There are there is a debate going on as to if companies decide that they're not interested in negotiating. Do we compel them by forcing a discount upon them? Do we have reference pricing, and other provision would actually look at a basket of prices for drugs that are available in this in half a dozen other countries outside the U.S. and would reference our price to them? And there are provisions around limiting the amount of price increase that you could put on on a drug and having that be rebated back as you now do under Medicaid. So you know the industry, I think, is genuinely concerned about some of these provisions. I think it understands that they need to be responsible. And there have been a number of industry initiatives themselves about you know limiting price increases. There have also been industry initiatives around value-based contracting. Some companies have started to negotiate provisions in which if a drug isn't effective. If it turns out that it doesn't work as intended that the price would be refunded. So it's not that the industry is insensitive to the Ferber and the political winds out there we'll see if some of these things get traction. But you know my sense is you're probably going to have to wait until the results of the election in November 2020 to really see how this plays out.

Ken White

That's our conversation with John Osborn of Hogan Lovells. And that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. The Center for Corporate Education is offering programs to help you raise your game. The programs are taught by the William & Mary MBA faculty ranked number one in the nation for learning by Bloomberg Businessweek. For information, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest this week, John Osborn, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White 'til next time have a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Hester Peirce
Hester PeirceEpisode 125: November 15, 2019
The SEC with sec connections

Hester Peirce

Episode 125: November 15, 2019

The SEC

The Securities and Exchange Commission was established eighty-five years ago to regulate the commerce in stocks, bonds, and other securities. The mission of the SEC is three-fold: To protect investors, to maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and to facilitate capital formation. The SEC is led by five commissioners, each nominated by the President of the United States, with consent by the U.S. Senate. Hester Peirce is one of the commissioners. Peirce recently visited the William & Mary Law School as a guest of the Center for the study of Law and Markets. Before speaking with students, she sat down with us to discuss the SEC, her role as commissioner, leader, and communicator, and how she became known as Crypto-Mom.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What is the Securities and Exchange Commission
  • What is the role of an SEC commissioner
  • How are the commissioners regulated by the Sunshine Act
  • How many employees work for the SEC
  • What were Hester's ambitions as a child
  • How much effect do commissioners have on the markets
  • Why do SEC commissioners need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate
  • Why is it important to be transparent as a communicator
  • How important is constructive feedback
  • How did Hester become Crypto-Mom
  • Who are Hester's leadership role models
Transcript

Hester Peirce: The SEC TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host Ken White. Thanks for listening. The Securities and Exchange Commission was established 85 years ago to regulate the commerce in stocks, bonds, and other securities. The mission of the SEC is threefold to protect investors, to maintain fair orderly and efficient markets, and to facilitate capital formation. The SEC is led by five commissioners, each nominated by the President of the United States with consent by the U.S. Senate. Hester Peirce is one of the commissioners. Peirce recently visited the William & Mary Law School as a guest of the Center for the Study of Law and Markets. Before speaking with students, she sat down with us to discuss the SEC, her role as commissioner leader and communicator, and how she became known as crypto Mom. Here's our conversation with SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce.

Ken White

Hester, thank you so much for being here. Before we start our conversation, you normally like to give a disclaimer before we get rolling, and please, by all means, do that.

Hester Peirce

All right, I do and thank you for the chance to be here. It's wonderful to have the chance to have a conversation. The things that I say represent my own views and not necessarily those of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or my fellow commissioners.

Ken White

Great, well again, thanks so much. Well speaking of the commissioners and what you do when someone meets you if they knew nothing about the SEC, what would you tell them the organization does?

Hester Peirce

Well, I've had that experience a lot. So first I have to say it doesn't do football which disappoints most people, but then I usually tell people it regulates the stock markets. And it regulates financial professionals who give you advice about investing.

Ken White

And your role as a commissioner?

Hester Peirce

So there are five commissioners, one of whom is the chairman and I'm not the chairman. So as commissioners, we really have purview over everything the SEC does in the sense that we vote on enforcement actions, and we vote on rulemakings. And we have oversight over what the agency is doing though the staff reports directly to the chairman. So given that we have broad voting powers, we sort of have to be aware of what the agency is doing in lots of different areas.

Ken White

How do the commissioners work together? What's that like?

Hester Peirce

Well, an interesting facet of that is that we have a Sunshine Act, which prevents more than two of us from talking about substantive things at the same time unless we're doing it in a public forum. So we tend to try to avoid being together more than two of us together at a time which makes interesting dynamics. You have to, you know, talk to one person, and then you take that, and you talk to someone else. But we have very cordial relationships across the commission. An interesting thing about an independent regulatory agency like the SEC is that we're politically balanced. And so there's always going to be diversity of viewpoint on the commission. And I think that's really valuable and one of the reasons I love being on a commission because I really like the back and forth and I like hearing the different perspectives. And I think it leads to better policy stability across time. And really when you think about the job that we're doing. Sure, you're going to have different views on how things might best be done. But we all agree that the capital markets are vital to our economic health and to the prosperity of Americans and people all across the world frankly. So we're all committed to that same general objective.

Ken White

Interest the Sunshine Law never occurred to me. How interesting. Yeah, and why not.

Hester Peirce

People really hate it.

Ken White

How about that. Yeah definitely affects the way you interact and communicate.

Hester Peirce

I shouldn't say hate it, but I mean it does change the dynamic.

Ken White

Yeah, no doubt. You mentioned the staff reports to the commissioner is that the 4000 employees you mean that are across the nation in the various offices?

Hester Peirce

Yes, so they report up to the chairman. He has the ability to kind of set the agenda at the agency and definitely takes input from the rest of us. But ultimately it's his call what goes on the agenda.

Ken White

Do you interact with those folks?

Hester Peirce

With the staff, yeah. Yes, all the time, yeah.

Ken White

That's a lot of people spread way over across the country. How do you do that?

Hester Peirce

Well, so partly we've got great video technology, we've got great ability to communicate that way. And so when we have meetings, for example, to vote on enforcement actions, you can have people from all across the country participating in those meetings. But I also spend a lot of time on the road and often we'll stop in and visit one of the regional offices. And so I've gotten to know people that way to talk to people on the phone a lot.

Ken White

So my guess is most 7-, 8-, 9-year-olds are not growing up thinking when I do grow up, you know I want to work for the SEC. What were you like as a kid? What did you want to do when you were little?

Hester Peirce

So oddly, I wanted to be a securities analyst. That was one of the first. You know we all cycle through lots of things we want to be. I wanted to be a professional flute player, but I didn't play the flute very well. But I loved tracking stocks on graph paper. I would graph out I get my dad's Wall Street Journal, and I track every day, and I loved that. So I thought oh being a securities analyst would be really interesting, but I ended up at the SEC instead.

Ken White

Yeah, but it's in there that if you were there and there. Oh, that's great. What do you like about your role?

Hester Peirce

I love the ability to weigh in on these big policy questions and think about ways that we can make our capital markets, even more, the envy of the world than they are. So what really drives me is the belief that there's unlocked talent in our country. And so part of the way do you unlock talent is you get money to fund people who have good ideas, and then those people build businesses they hire other people. And so we can see that you know I'm from the Midwest and we can see that in lots of places there's a lot of growth going on, but there are other places where there isn't as much growth. And what can we do? It's not because people don't have good ideas and it's not because people aren't hard-working. It's because we haven't done a good enough job building the infrastructure the capital markets infrastructure for them to be able to contribute what they have to contribute to society and, therefore, to do better themselves. So that's really what gets me up in the morning and gets me excited about my job.

Ken White

There's got to be something that's a little frustrating or something you necessarily don't look forward to. What aspect of the job is that?

Hester Peirce

Yeah, certainly, there are frustrations, so I come at the job as a believer that regulation government regulation isn't necessarily the first and best answer to every problem that we see in society. So when I see a problem I say all right is the market solving that problem already. If so, maybe we don't need to do anything if it's not, and the problem's not going to go away on its own. Let's do something, but let's do it in a way that we're taking into account the unintended consequences of what we're doing. Because often, government regulation can have really really harmful effects. And so I want us to try to game through what those are in advance. So one of the frustrations for me, of course, is that once you get a rule on the books, things can change a lot, and it's really hard to undo that rule. And so we end up in a situation where innovation is leaps and bounds ahead of where the regulation is. And then people who are trying to innovate come to us and they say we've got this great way to serve people and we can't do it because of your rules. So one recent example is, I was talking to a big financial company that wanted to communicate with its clients using all kinds of very creative and modern technologies that we would expect them to use. You know mobile phones, virtual reality type things. And so they're thinking about how to do this, and then they're thinking it's going to run up against an SEC rule. And that's a shame because obviously the investors I know most of them would rather get their disclosures in a mobile way rather than paper. And so we need to move the regulatory mountains to allow that to happen. And then I think the firms will go ahead and innovate.

Ken White

But that takes time. Right. I mean, it's just nature of the beast sort of.

Hester Peirce

It does, but I think people on the investors don't really understand that because they're getting every other aspect of their life, they're getting served in the way they want to be served. But because the financial industry is so regulated, they can't be.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Hester Peirce of the Securities and Exchange Commission in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary's School of Business. As a leader, your ability to create capacity for innovation in your organization relies on getting the right data, interpreting the results, and making the right decisions. Well, the Center for Corporate Education is offering the three-day Business Analytics for Strategic Leaders Program in Washington, D.C., in March. The program is designed for forward-thinking executives with the responsibility to implement strategy and grow the business. To learn more about Business Analytics for Leaders, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation with Hester Peirce of the S.E.C.

Ken White

Now you had to be confirmed, you what you went through the process, and most Americans have spent maybe 10 minutes watching C-SPAN and watching that and saying Thank God I didn't have to go through that for my job. What's that process like?

Hester Peirce

So I had to go through it twice because I didn't. I failed the first time. So you know it's an interesting process, and I think it's a really important process because the Senate's job, it's the president's job to nominate, and then the Senate's job to advise and consent. And so they really need to spend some time with you as both in that public forum, but also you meet with some senators before that happens or after. And I think it's really important for them. They have important views. And when I'm in the seat I'm in now, my directives come from legislation that Congress writes, and so they want to understand. Hey, is Hester going to put this legislation into practice? And if so, what is she going to be thinking about as she does it? So, all in all, I think it's a really important process, and I appreciate that they were willing to take the time with me.

Ken White

How do you prepare for something like that? That's not a normal job interview.

Hester Peirce

Yeah, I mean you spend a lot of time thinking about the different issues that are facing the agency in some ways you're limited in what you can do because you can't prejudge issues and I can tell you this certainly now that I'm in the role I'm in. You often don't have all the facts at hand. You might know an issue from one perspective, but when you get into the agency, you see, oh, we've gotten all kinds of different views from all kinds of different people we really need to think about all of these. So that makes the job fun, but it makes it much harder to know what you're going to do on the outside. Once you get on the inside.

Ken White

I think people who know you follow you are aware of what you and your associates do would probably label you as a communicator. You write you're on social media. You give talks. Where did that come from? You're very transparent. And many leaders are not. Why do you embrace that way of communicating?

Hester Peirce

Well I think it's important for us to I mean we work for the American people and so if we can communicate with them, we should. Now obviously, there are limits on all of our time. And so there's a tremendous amount of reading and meeting with folks internally and externally to try to work through things. So but we all I think try to get out there and meet people and talk to people, and you know frankly I know that some people are going to look at what I'm doing and they're going to say we think Hester is not doing a very good job and I think that's great. I like to hear that feedback from people about what I can be doing better. And so I figure if I'm transparent, it's easier for people to tell me that they don't think I'm right. That's not always fun to hear. But I think it's important for someone in my job.

Ken White

You are out there in terms of talking today you're at William & Mary Law School going to talk to some students you've addressed many different audiences. Is there a certain message you try to get across a lesson or a goal?

Hester Peirce

Well I love talking to students because I think often especially when they're in law school they're thinking about their career it's an exciting time of their life. And I love getting them to think about hey maybe there's a career for me in securities law whether it's at the SEC, or whether it's in industry, or at a law firm working on securities issues. But also just more generally thinking about the value our capital markets play in their lives now and in their future lives and thinking about how they can maybe contribute to that. A lot of law students are very idealistic, which is wonderful, and I want to show them you know part of that idealism can really be worked out through the capital market system, which is can be a great transformer of people's lives as we talked about before. And so this idea that you can radically improve people's lives using the capital markets as a message. I like to convey.

Ken White

Those who you have a bit of a fan club. They've tabbed you with the name crypto mom, but that's cool. I assume you like that.

Hester Peirce

I like it because I'm not a mom. I wasn't a mom until I became crypto mom, and you know I figure hey now I've got a lot more kids than I ever thought I would.

Ken White

How did it happen?

Hester Peirce

Oh, I wrote a dissent about we were considering an exchange-traded product that was based on an underlying Bitcoin underlying. And I wrote a dissent. And so they deemed me, crypto mom, because of that. But I, you know, I think the broader point is just the point I was making before we're sometimes pretty slow when it comes to innovation. And we're dealing with a generation that really has some interesting ideas about how to solve problems. And so let's let them do that in a way that's consistent with our regulatory framework and protects investors but also allows them to do that. And we've been slow on that front at the SEC.

Ken White

Who are your role models in terms of leadership and public service?

Hester Peirce

Well I mean I think there are so many good models out there and so I look to everyone from you know my father to professors I had in law school to people I work with at the SEC who have been so dedicated have been there for some of them had been there for years. Others have come through and been there for a short time but just have been really influential. I even you know I enjoy working with Chairman Clayton, and it's been such a pleasure to work with someone who's so committed to making sure the agency works effectively, carefully, and just methodically through issues that have been on our agenda for a long time. So you know I really respect and look up to that to that in him as well. It's really a difficult job that he's in, and I just it's been a pleasure to work with him. So he's one of my role models.

Ken White

I often ask our guests because leadership & business is the podcast. How much passion do you have to have for your work to be effective?

Hester Peirce

Well, I think that's true for any job you really need to be passionate about it, and you need to see it in the bigger picture cause obviously we all just have a small role to play. But there is a bigger picture that we're trying to accomplish, and if we each see our little role as being part of that, I think it's exciting, and it makes you want to go to work and try to do it as well as you can and try to contribute from your own background and experiences. I mean, I think that's part of the beauty of having diverse participation cause then you've got people coming from all different perspectives and bringing what they have to the table, and that's makes us more effective.

Ken White

And that's our conversation with Hester Peirce. And that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. The Center for Corporate Education is offering the Business Analytics for Strategic Leaders program in March in Washington, D.C. It's taught by the William & Mary MBA faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek. For information regarding that and our other programs, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest this week, Hester Peirce, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Till next time have a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Anshuman Vohra
Anshuman VohraEpisode 124: November 1, 2019
Entrepreneurial Success Part 2 with person celebrating

Anshuman Vohra

Episode 124: November 1, 2019

Entrepreneurial Success - Part 2

If you were with us for our last episode, you hear the story of entrepreneur Anshuman Vohra and how he founded Bulldog Gin which became the fourth best-selling gin in the world. After selling Bulldog Gin in 2017, Vohra was trying to write the next chapter of his entrepreneurial life. That chapter is on its way to a happy ending. Today on the podcast, we share the second of a two-part conversation with Vohra. He tells us about the events that led to his new venture - a premium certified organic beverage called Halo Sport. He also shares lessons learned and advice for other entrepreneurs.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What did Anshuman do after selling Bulldog Gin
  • What was Anshuman's inspiration for a new sports drink
  • How did Anshuman conceptualize the next big thing in hydration
  • What ingredients are in Halo Sport
  • When did Halo Sport go on sale
  • How important is passion for an entrepreneur
  • What Anshuman learned about entrepreneurship after college
  • What advice does Anshuman have for future entrepreneurs
  • When should one become an entrepreneur
Transcript

Anshuman Vohra: Entrepreneurial Success Part 2 TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host Ken White. Thanks for listening. If you were with us for our last episode, you heard the story of entrepreneur Anshuman Vohra and how he founded Bulldog Gin, which became the fourth best selling gin in the world. Well, after selling Bulldog Gin in 2017, Vohra was trying to write the next chapter of his entrepreneurial life. That chapter is on its way to a happy ending. Today on the podcast, we share the second of a two-part conversation with Vohra. He tells us about the events that led to his new venture, a premium certified organic beverage called Halo Sport. He also shares lessons learned and advice for other entrepreneurs. Here's our conversation with Anshuman Vohra, founder of Bulldog Gin and Halo Sport.

Anshuman Vohra

After we sold Bulldog. I don't know what to do, and so I didn't have a whole lot to do other than that. I kind of went from being this very intense entrepreneur who worked all the time to having nothing to do. So I just said what is it one thing I wanted to do after college that I didn't get to do. Back in the day, it was kind of a rite of passage for all the second tier or third tier tennis players like me to go to Europe and bum around for a couple of years after college just play clip tennis. Really just hang out and play tennis once a while. My parents were having or not having any of that, and so I said hey I moved to Barcelona to play kind of the over 35 senior tennis circuit. It's a bit of a mild indignity to be called a senior at just over the age of 35, but I put my ego aside and started playing tennis there every day. Didn't set my alarm at all just woke up when the sun hit my face was on the courts from 10 to 12 every day and did nothing but play tennis and have a good time, and you know it was pretty amazing. And one day on the tennis court I, sometime that summer it must have been July of 2017 it was 2 p.m. It is 90 degrees, and I've not played tennis outdoors. 2 p.m. 90 you weather since my days in Williamsburg, let me tell you. And so I was significantly dehydrated. I was losing to some guy I should not have been losing to so what I did or any half smart tennis player does when they're losing I when the other guy gets momentum I took a 10 minute injury time out went over to think I grabbed like a Gatorade or Powerade, red Powerade or something and I think I felt worse after drinking it because it's a sugar crash you know. And I just remember thinking I was like, How is it that I used to drink this in college? I think I don't know if you still are, but we used to be sponsored by either Gatorade or Powerade, and I said why is it that 20 years later it's still the same. These sports drinks. Whereas the world how we hydrate, how we eat, how we drink, how we work out most importantly is totally different. People want healthier fresher now. Back in college, the workouts were bench press squats and bicep curls. I didn't know anybody who does that as their elusive workout. Now it's boutique fitness. People are really focused on what they put in their body. There's a societal war on sugar. So kind of later on in 2017 I had the unfortunate experience of slipping on the tennis court fractured my ankle had to have surgery back home in New York and so I was immobilized for three months. Let me tell you. Being immobilized for three months gives a lot of time to think about what you want to do next. So I put my tennis plans on hold for a while, and I started conceptualizing my next venture, which would be kind of the next generation of hydration. Gatorade and Powerade kind of dominated the 80s and 90s and mid-2000s you had package coconut water that came out people said

Ken White

Yeah, that's right.

Anshuman Vohra

let's be healthier quote-unquote, and then kind of 2013 2014 people said well-packaged coconut water has the same carbs and sugar content is Gatorade and Powerade even though it's quote-unquote natural. And people started just drinking like enhanced waters that had water with electrolytes. So I said What is the next generation hydration look like. And I didn't want to do a water brand because it's very it's impossible to differentiate anymore in water, but there is an abundance of opportunity in the hydration space. I said, what would I want the next generation of hydration look like, i.e., what is missing from those enhanced waters or from those coconut waters or from the traditional sports drinks? And I noticed that at each inflection point in the movement away from sports drinks to coconut water and then from coconut water to enhance waters coincided with increased awareness and education on the part of the consumers. So perhaps the biggest tailwind we're riding at the moment is a societal war on sugar. So the functional thing that we're trying to solve at the moment is to keep people hydrated and hydrate more efficiently and effectively than water. So Halo, in a nutshell, is certified organic using organic lemon juice base. We don't have a coconut water base, so you don't have the polarizing coconut water flavor, and you don't have the sugar content that comes from coconut water. We have more electrolytes than Gatorade. We have two grams of sugar naturally occurring in a bottle. Only 10 calories and only two grams of carbs per bottle. And we have no color as you in Halo you seeing it's just the color of lemons. I mean, we don't have any artificial colors. Plus, we have antioxidants vitamins, so I said you can get all of that in one bottle. There's no need to have a bottle of Gatorade anymore plus one water to make for your vitamins plus one water to make you smart. You have a Halo that gives you all of that in a beautiful package with a great name and only three dollars on the shelf.

Ken White

And it still goes down easy.

Anshuman Vohra

Super as you taste, it's super easy. You don't have to combine it with water. It doesn't have that's that heavy, syrupy taste doesn't have that polarizing coconut water taste, and in my humble opinion, it tastes better than water. There are times in a day. So we're going for all-day hydration, and one of things about hydration is people don't eat you need to be hydrated the hour of day you're playing tennis but also the remaining twenty-three hours a day. And I found the American consumer doesn't want to drink water all day myself included. I'm happy to drink water, but there's ways to hydrate that taste better and more effectively. But you no longer and I can't say this strongly enough need that exorbitant sugar content to be hydrated. That's not helping you get hydrated. It's the electrolytes the antioxidants vitamins that are helping you get hydrated. So what we're focused on is all-day hydration. The next generation all-day hydration that's Halo, so we started selling in retail in June of 2019 in New York, and we're available on Amazon, and our plan is to kind of expand nationally next year.

Ken White

Fantastic. So Bulldog, you obviously liked gin. You knew it that was very important to you and Halo. You're an athlete, so there's a lot of passion here. Is that important for an entrepreneur to be passionate about that product?

Anshuman Vohra

Yeah, I don't know any if there is one thing that you know I met entrepreneurs are considered super smart. Others who are considered super hard workers. Others who are considered lucky. But I can tell you every single one of them is passionate because you cannot go through the amount of pain that you do on a daily basis unless there's some higher force some higher calling. You know people often now that you obviously some people say some entrepreneurs may say they do it for the money others for the prestige others cause they hate their day job. To me, it's about the passion. I saw something wrong with the way the world was in gin before, and I said I have a high conviction level that it can be done better. And herewith Halo the lights were blinking bright red and like you know why is it that 20 years later there is a duopoly on the way people hydrate and its science has shown us and the way people eat and drink today is so different. I don't know anybody who drank the drinks or usual sports drinks today who says oh great I'm so excited to have a ton of sugar and this artificial green and blue color right. I mean, I know anybody who says that so that passion is really my driving force. Anything I do having that passion and let me tell you that passion. It's all-consuming, and you kind of need that as an entrepreneur, in my opinion.

Ken White

Athletics, too, I mean, as an athlete, there's a lot of similarities. Did that did you being brought up as an athlete. And the drive to win and at tennis too. There's no teammates that's all on you, so that had to drive you.

Anshuman Vohra

There's a great irony there. Tennis is an individual sport. I've always been a pretty competitive guy. You know coming to really living alone starting the age of 14 really you learn how to toughen up pretty quickly. I will tell you though that being a tennis player at William & Mary specifically beyond the bond that the students here form it's a smaller college it's kind of ensconced in a small town and a great part of the social life is not just going out to party, but it's hanging with highly literate and intellectual folks like yourselves with high-quality backgrounds. I learned how to be a team player on the tennis team, which is ironic for an individual sport. But you'd never whether you were the first match that finished or the last match everyone stood there and watched you. You’re rooting for your teammates no matter what, whether it's raining or shining, you would travel together on these buses. I remember our allowance for meals was ten dollars for dinner that we were splurging. Hopefully that things have changed now for the students today. But being a college athlete at William & Mary taught me the teamwork skills that you know I kind of use every day today.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Anshuman Vohra in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary's School of Business. Regardless of where you are on your career journey, if you're looking to accelerate your progress and give your career a boost. The Center for Corporate Education delivers programs that prepare you for greater responsibility, whether it's leadership, communication, strategy, analytics, managerial accounting. We offer programs for professionals who want to do more and be more, and the programs are taught by William & Mary's outstanding MBA faculty. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation with the founder of Bulldog Gin and Halo Sport Anshuman Vohra.

Ken White

You said it's obviously not a clear and easy road being an entrepreneur whether or whether it doesn't work or it does work resilience. How do you stay up? What you're what keeps you going?

Anshuman Vohra

Passion and the belief that despite I mean, I kind of know that I'm going up against multi-billion dollar companies that control distribution that you know can destroy us if they wanted to in a second right. But it's the belief that no matter what happens that you're going to make it happen. You know ultimately if you view things, people always say you know this is this a matter of life and death to you I said no. It's far more important than that. You know this is my reputation on the line. I kind of want to make sure that I like doing that job well done. I don't like losing, and I know that I'm pretty convinced that with Halo just like always with Bulldog before, if enough people try it and are able to buy it that we'd do pretty well. So I think same thing with Halo. I love the hustle. Maybe that's the New York in me says you know I'm going to make it happen against all odds so.

Ken White

So is failure not an option? Is that sort of the

Anshuman Vohra

That's a cliche that a lot of people say I think about that. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about that. I just think about how empty I would feel if I didn't succeed. And that is a pretty big driving force, you know. But I like the victory doing Bulldog was a life-altering outcome to say that I could do the fourth largest premium in the world is still sometimes I have to think about that. That's pretty cool to say that I want the same thing with Halo. I want to be able to say that you know, like when Julius Caesar, when he came back to Rome once and said Veni, Vidi, Vici, I'd like to be able to say that for Halo as well.

Ken White

You said when we first started talking about your first few years out of school that first job that it sounds like you got lucky you got. You had a good foundation there. That first job was important to your success, and what you learned there it seems.

Anshuman Vohra

Yeah, I'm happy I didn't go to med school like Mom and Dad would have wanted and going to JP Morgan being an analyst and then mergers and acquisitions group. I'll tell you it's the best education. I would say the best education one could have in a practical sense. After four years at William & Mary taught me the skills I use till today to write a business plan to think strategically when one company buys another or when one company wants to break itself up. What are the reasons why would the CEO want to do that? When would a CEO want to do that? But most importantly, I sold a lot of companies when I was a J.P. Morgan, and I got to see entrepreneurs who had an idea and had a high conviction level, and so no, I think make that idea into reality. Nobody ever taught me in college that that was a skill I never thought that I wish there was a class that taught me that that was a skill that you could make happen. But I thought that these guys were just ludicrous and so crazy and they had this entrepreneurial zeal that just they were so relentless that they made it happen I said I was wonder if I was smart enough or had the work ethic to do it, but it was that education here at William & Mary coupled with the very very very transferable skill sets I learned in JP Morgan as an investment banker in general that continue to help me.

Ken White

You've met some students today at William & Mary. I think you'll meet some more after you and I are done talking. There are a number of students, and this is the we're seeing this across the university students in the United States who say I want to be an owner of a business. I want to be self-employed at some point. The research shows that there's an uptick there. What kind of advice do you have for that 20-year-old, right? Who thinks I'm not sure what my dream is, but I want to be that successful entrepreneur.

Anshuman Vohra

Well, first of all, I love living. I love being a citizen of I love living in a country where you know the American Dream or being an entrepreneur is a possibility. Let me just start off by saying that there's many countries in the world that don't offer, and I love living in a country where there is not a stigma attached to failure that you can't get out of where in some ways people say you failed once. That does mean you can't do it again. So when I'm a as I've mentioned earlier fervent believer in the American dream and so I'd say for those who want to do it like all things. I got seduced in entrepreneurship by seeing sort of the folks who were successful hold and lifting up the trophy right, so to speak. Great because I'm the type of guy who for 10 minutes of glory will work for 10 years arduously to make it happen or assiduously I should say to make it happen. But there's a lot that goes into it that people don't get to see. I wish Bulldog was all just partying and hanging, or Halo is just you know drinking this and playing tennis. But there's a lot more that goes into it. So I'll tell you that you'd really have to be introspective before you start. And I would ask yourself how you feel whether you're a man or woman wanting to start a business. How do you feel when there's a stressful situation in your personal life? How do you deal with, are you somebody who's calm? Do you get overstressed?  do you. Are you unable to sleep? How do you deal with stressful situation because you're going to find those occurring multiple times a day? So you have to want to understand. Do you have the agility mentally and physically to do kind of one get beyond that, or do you get in your own way, and that's only you can answer that question? Secondly, I would say that you know a 20-year-old wants to be an entrepreneur with few exceptions. That's not a good idea. I think there's a lot of maturity and life experiences you need in your 20s before you become it. In many ways. Listen, I had six years as a banker before I became an entrepreneur. In retrospect, I wish I'd had 10, but the entrepreneur calling there's no there's no formula right it doesn't show up the day you're ready you go to war with the army you have not the one you want right. So I would say getting some work experience is a really good idea. Working in a team understanding cause chances are as an entrepreneur, you have to deal with that. I'd say one thing I did right of the many mistakes I made was I waited till the conditions for success were right in that I held down my banking job for as long as possible to make sure we'd raise the money for Bulldog before I left and started. That was really both strategic thinking but also out of necessity; I wouldn't have been able to support my life with no salary pay rent etc. And so I knew I needed to make sure that everything was ready that I left banking on a Friday and Monday morning I started you know Bulldog, which is what I did. There's also a pretty big contrarian bet to leave investment banking in 2006 that was not many people left in '05 '06 '07. But I kind of you know Sinatra said you know he did it my way and there's enough things in my life where I said I want to take the road less traveled so I would say make sure the conditions for success are right. People get seduced by you know the success stories etc. which is great. Right. We live in a country where those happen all the time, and we're blessed. Everyone has a shot at that, but I would take your time to think about what it is you want to do and what is it that you're solving and is your what you're offering so unique and so distinctive that you'll be able to get it out there and perhaps the other thing if you're developing a product and/or a service for that matter. I was always told people were like hey if you build it they will come. I was like I was I was like great let me just create the greatest bottle of gin or let me create the best hydration beverage ever. With conviction, I believe I've done that. However, the problem then becomes I wish I'd known that was only 1 percent of the battle that getting it out onto market. Getting it distributed in all these places get gaining awareness like ninety-nine percent of the battle nobody had ever told me that. And so you have to realize that just creating the party is one element of it but then getting it out there and managing the team to do that at the right time it's a pretty harrowing process. You really really really really really have to love what you do and have the passion for it. Otherwise, it's very difficult to succeed because, as an entrepreneur, the highs are the highest highs that you will ever have in your life. There is not a day in banking. My greatest day in banking was one-thousandth of my greatest day as an entrepreneur. That being said, my lowest day in banking. I would much rather had that than you know the four days a week that I was super low as an entrepreneur when nothing seems to be working right. You're going against society. You're going against all the forces of structure that have existed for decades, and somehow, you're foolish or arrogant enough to believe that you can make it happen. However, that passion keeps you going.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Anshuman Vohra. And that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. Whether it's for you or your team. The Center for Corporate Education and it's William & Mary MBA faculty can design and deliver a program that helps you raise your game, fill the gaps, and advance your organization's goals. For more information, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest this week Anshuman Vohra. And thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Till next time have a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Anshuman Vohra
Anshuman VohraEpisode 123: October 16, 2019
Entrepreneurial Success Part 1 with person celebrating

Anshuman Vohra

Episode 123: October 16, 2019

Entrepreneurial Success - Part 1

He's an entrepreneur with an interesting story that has a successful outcome. Anshuman Vohra founded Bulldog Gin. As CEO, he quickly took it from startup to the fourth best-selling gin in the world and the fastest-growing gin. Bulldog is distributed in over 100 countries. An agreement in 2017 led to an eventual sale of the brand, but that's not the end of Vohra's entrepreneurial story. After the sale of Bulldog Gin, he has moved on to disrupt the world of sports drinks and hydration by creating and launching another new product: A premium certified-organic beverage called Halo Sport. Vohra joins us on the podcast to talk about his entrepreneurial journey. Today we'll hear part 1 of his story as he tells us about Bulldog Gin.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What year did Anshuman graduate William & Mary
  • How has campus changed in the last 20 years according to Anshuman
  • What was Anshuman's childhood like
  • What led Anshuman to investment banking
  • What makes a good entrepreneur
  • How did Anshuman acquire his love of gin
  • Why was gin consumed less than vodka by Americans since the mid-60s
  • Why did Anshuman select the UK for gin production
  • How did Anshuman raise the initial capital
  • How was the gin and tonic born
  • When did Bulldog Gin first go on sale
  • Where did Bulldog first start selling gin
  • How did Bulldog get global distribution
  • When was Bulldog acquired
Transcript

Anshuman Vohra: Entrepreneurial Success - Part 1 TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host Ken White. Thanks for listening. He's an entrepreneur with an interesting story, that has a successful outcome, Anshuman Vohra founded Bulldog Gin. As CEO, he quickly took it from startup to the fourth best selling gin in the world and the fastest-growing gin. Bulldog is distributed in over 100 countries. An agreement in 2017 led to an eventual sale of the brand. But that's not the end of Vohra's entrepreneurial story. After the sale of Bulldog Gin, he has moved on to disrupt the world of sports drinks and hydration by creating and launching another new product, a premium certified organic beverage called Halo Sport. Vohra joins us on the podcast to talk about his entrepreneurial journey. Today we'll hear part one of his story as he tells us about Bulldog Gin. Here's our conversation with Bulldog Gin's founder Anshuman Vohra.

Ken White

Anshuman, thank you for joining us. You've had a busy day already. Thanks for sitting down with us and sharing some of your time. Great to meet you.

Anshuman Vohra

Great to be here, Ken. Thanks for having me.

Ken White

Nice to be back on campus?

Anshuman Vohra

Very much so. I always love coming back here.

Ken White

Yeah. What were your days like at William & Mary?

Anshuman Vohra

Well, I'm a William & Mary class of 2000 and finance major, and I got to tell you I was just giving a talk to Professor Herrington Bryce's class. The exact class I took 20 years ago. You know it doesn't particularly excite me to say that I took it 20 years ago, but my days I played D1 college tennis. I had the privilege of representing William & Mary in tennis. A lot more buildings nowadays and the kids have a lot more laptops and more communications stuff, but the ambiance is not really changed, there's the air of camaraderie. And I say the fall spirit, fall is in the air, but you know when it's 90 degrees it doesn't feel like fall. Let me tell you I woke up in New York this morning it was 51 degrees and I come here. But I will tell you whenever I come here, when I speak to people like you, Ken or Dean Pulley, it reminds me of the reason I went to William & Mary, and I remain such a part of the community. There's an element of love that you feel for William & Mary folks that is only apparent to people once they graduate. And I'll tell you when it when we get into later in my life where the different touchpoints have been that I've been very grateful for it. So glad to be back.

Ken White

Yeah, great. You know one of the first things I heard when I came here, and you and I were just talking before we started recording this is my sixth year. I had a colleague say you know it's an honor to work here, and most people truly feel that way. So it does it's a special place, yeah.

Anshuman Vohra

Totally with you on that.

Ken White

Yeah absolutely. So you've got a couple great stories. The Bulldog Gin story, how do you even start that? Can you share it with us and that whole incredible ride?

Anshuman Vohra

You kind of sound like my dad when I first told him I wanted to launch my own brand of gin. So a quick primer on me. My father was a career diplomat, and so I spent the first kind of 14 years of my life between Vietnam, Nigeria, D.C., Tunisia, and India. And then, I moved to Florida for high school came to Virginia. I came to William & Mary in 1996, graduated in 2000, and you know kind of late 90s kind of my junior year and senior year I realized I wasn't gonna be a pro tennis player, which was sad. I kind of knew deep down it was not going to happen, and it's never an easy point to accept when you've been playing tennis four hours a day for your whole life. And so at that point in time, the smartest folks went to Silicon Valley, the heart of the tech bubble, and the second smartest went to Wall Street. And you know I had traditional Indian parents who were like you know you should be a doctor, and I was like Mom and Dad I feel like we've we have a monopoly on medicine and engineering. I'd like to expand beyond that. And they're like well, why do you want to be a bank teller? I said no, mom there's other things that happen in J.P. Morgan besides being a bank teller. I want to be an investment banker, and so they finally became comfortable with that. And it was a great training ground, Ken. I did MMA, I was mergers and acquisition analysts at J.P. Morgan for three years, and in three years, another couple of smaller investment boutique investment banks. Learned a ton about how to analyze companies value. Companies think strategically about what they have to do and why they do what they do and when to sell when not to sell when to buy. But ever since I came here at the age of 14 I always kind of I've been a huge sucker for the American dream, and I was like you know I believed in it then, and I believe in it fervently at the moment, and I was like you know I wanted my shot at the dream. I want to I wanted to put everything on my shoulder and see if I could do it. I'd always thought of successful entrepreneurs as these like mythical creature as I was like I was wondered could I be one of them. I looked at folks like Elon Musk, who's my personal hero. It's not fair to compare yourself to him because I don't believe he's human.

Ken White

Right.

Anshuman Vohra

There's human, I mean, that guy is not me. He breathes a different air than we do. But I looked at other folks, and I was like what is it that. What are the characteristics that made them the man or woman that they became? Was it a great and significant intelligence, you know the ability to work harder than everybody else, were they smarter than the other folks, were they did they work smarter? You know I thought about it. Did they hustle harder? Were they in the right place at the right time? And I said maybe it's just a combination of all of those, but more than all of that the preparation was that they showed up to play. You know part of the game is you know I don't know that Bulldog would have been the success it would have? I can tell you it would not have been a success if it was if I had not showed up to play. If I'd still remained as an investment banker after college and follow the beaten path, that's where I would have been. In my favorite poem that I used to read in my high school English class was from Robert Frost. You know the road not taken always the part. There's that poster, and it had the two roads that diverged in the woods. I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. That always resonated with me, and I said if I'm going to do this, you know this game of life, which I'm yet to understand exactly. I was like I kind of want to be the guy who took the road less traveled. And so I didn't have a whole lot of skills outside of a little bit of finance. One skill I did have was drinking gin and tonics, you know, with the tremendous really skilled. At that, I should confirm my dad imbued me with a love of gin and tonics when I was 16. I think we were in Malaysia at the time it was the summertime. He said son, you're a man, and it's time to celebrate your manhood.

Ken White

Right.

Anshuman Vohra

Kind of like the Hindu Bar Mitzvah if you will. And he goes. Are you ready? When your old man makes you a proposition saying you're 16, you're a man, are you ready. I go sure dad, I've read some magazines. I've seen some stuff on the Internet. I think I'm ready. He had a very different idea for what my coming out party would be. And so that night he gave me some scotch, this black liquid, he poured like a thimble full and gave it to me, and he drank the rest out of the bottle himself. I'd never had alcohol before he said drink scotch. This is what men drink. So I drank it, and I threw up for about four hours.

Ken White

Oh, wow.

Anshuman Vohra

It was the most vile and disgusting thing I've ever had. And it was some no-name local brand of Scotch. Most people say your dad obviously didn't have a whole lot of respect for you if he gave you such crappy local made. And so I was like yeah, I guess you I think is I don't even remember what it was just so so terrible. And then the next Sunday Saturday he was like let's do it again. I said, no way. I thought this is some devious trick on his part to make me hate alcohol. If it was, then he's a very smart man cause it worked. But next Saturday he gave me a gin and tonic, and I fell in love with it. And I said ever since then the gin and tonic if I'd be the only guy going to Paul's, or the College Deli, or the Green Leaf everyone else was getting beer and I was I'd be the guy getting gin and tonics. And fast forward to my time in New York. And then J.P. Morgan we'd have three-martini lunches I'd always be the guy getting gin and tonics. My colleagues would be getting vodka sodas, vodka tonics as the case may be. And one day, the bartender took us to his bar, and he said look we have twenty-two brands of vodka, a blue bottle, and a green bottle of gin, and this is reflective of what people drink. You know it's a vodka dominated world. This is two thousand and maybe two thousand three-four somewhere around there. He said, so people just drink vodka no gin anymore. And I was like wow. So I went back to the office, one of the few times on a Friday afternoon, that I was excited to go back to work, and I said, hey, why is it that I always thought people drank a lot more gin. So I researched it, and as it turns out up until 1965, people drank a lot more gin in the U.S. than vodka. It was only after 1965 where people started drinking brands like Stolichnaya, Finlandia, then Absolute, of course, Grey Goose,  Belvedere, and today Tito's, for example. But in that continuum from 1965, the inflection points in that whereas from Finlandia to Stolichnaya to Absolute coincided with people viewing vodka more as a badge as you know as a reflection on who they are. Like the suit they wore, the watch they wore, the car they drove. In gin meanwhile was stodgy and old and Victorian and not something people got excited about. The other problem with gin was the taste; it's 47 percent alcohol. The American palate is used to drinking alcohol at 40 percent, and also gin is just vodka flavored juniper at its very essence. And so a lot of brands had excessive Juniper in my opinion and juniper is kind of an acquired taste. Juniper is what gives gin that pine tree sort of smell. And so, I was like, maybe if I can market it and position it like a modern edgier stylish gin. People would be interested. I would be. Cause I didn't know a single person in my cohort who woke up on a Friday morning said hey, let's go out to the club tonight and get a bottle of Gordon's.

Ken White

Right.

Anshuman Vohra

It's not something that excited folks and nothing wrong with Gordon's for those who like it, but it wasn't part of the Zeit Geist of you know the nightlife of the era. And so that's kinda how I said, man. So then it became a bit more then it became almost an infatuation for me. I was like, how can there have been such a spectacular fall in 50 years. It got to the point where not only did vodka outsell gin, but it was 10 to 1. So you went 50 years from Gin outselling vodka within 50 years to a 10 to 1 ratio of vodka outselling gin. And I was like, what's the reason for that. So as I researched it, I came to the taste, and the marketing, the brand positioning, and so I said maybe I think I can solve those. So I found a couple of, I emailed I'm a huge Anglophile, I emailed a bunch of distilleries in the U.K. kind of the birthplace of modern gin, and nine of them didn't respond one of them did. They said we love your idea. They said let us send you some samples, and I wanted a gin that was 40 percent alcohol, lighter on the juniper but infused with these exotic botanicals like licorice, lavender, lotus leaves, poppy, white poppy, dragon eye which is a cousin of the lychee fruit, almond, lemon, orus. And so we found this exotic blend of 12 botanicals from eight countries. We decided we were going to use British wheat, British water, British labor, British soil distilleries are making gin for two hundred years world's foremost distillery. They sent me samples one day to my office. I was often the most popular guy on the floor on a Monday. I received 12 bottles of gin. But these guys were so good. One of those bottles of those twelve is still the liquid that's used in Bulldog today. They hit it on the first try. That's how much I love what they did. Then a couple weeks later, I found an ad agency that said look we'll do all the branding, design the bottle for you, and they said we'll do it all on the come, nothing upfront. We'll take a percentage of revenues over a couple of years. I was still holding onto my day job out of necessity, and I was like wow. So we got this branding opportunity we got the liquid that tastes great. I was like I feel like somebody is hitting me over the head say doing it, but what I did need is some start-up capital to make it happen. I couldn't have funded it myself, and I wasn't ready to quit my job until the conditions for success were right. Til we had money in the bank. So I went to all my tennis friends at William & Mary and said guys I need to invest in this company, and they're like. Can we see a business plan first? I said no, but I said you've got to trust me. I'm not sure I would have trusted them, but they were you know as an example of the gratitude I feel towards William & Mary's. Those guys took a chance on me, and that's how we started selling in 2007. I named it Bulldog out of my reverence for Sir Winston Churchill, who is my political hero, and the British bulldog spirit that he embodied about the Keep Calm and Carry On Self-Reliance the perseverance and I said if I want do a British gin he's probably a pretty good guy. He himself was you know drank a lot of everything, but he's my favorite quote of his is how the gin and tonic right started. Most people don't know this as a medicine. 150 years ago, the British soldiers in India were dying of malaria. There's no real preventive no cure at that point in time, but the way to prevent it was to eat the quinine bark, which is why when you see tonic water, you say contains quinine.

Ken White

You bet.

Anshuman Vohra

And so some smart ass just said hey, I'm having quinine which you can't have on its own in water why don't I just combine gin and hence the gin and tonic was born. So being Indian, it has a nice you know resonance to me. So the gin and tonic. So I was like my favorite quote from Sir Winston Churchill was the gin and tonic has saved more lives and minds than all the doctors in the Empire. He wasn't really lying when he said that. And so we started in 2007. We started selling in Europe really in Spain in 2009. God bless Spain, Viva Espana, they changed my life because the Spaniards started drinking gin like you know I guess they just demand and drinking water for gin. When you go to a bar in Madrid or Barcelona, you see them drink a gin and tonic out of a huge oversized cognac snifter big ice cubes. They don't have a spray gun for tonic or soda. It's just out of the bottle. But these beautiful garnishes Bulldogs with a pink grapefruit I mean it's just a fantastic thing, and we started selling in Spain. So we were in that point and time we were in New York, and Spain couldn't find a way to expand within the U.S., but Spain is such a leader in gastro trends that with Spain came Portugal, Italy, the rest of Europe. And the spirits industry for those who don't know is dominated by European companies Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Campari, mon Hennessy as examples and kind of in 2012, 2013, 2014 we started talking to some of the big guys cause we're seeing some success in Spain. Being to distribution deal for Bulldog in around the world with a company called Campari they're large Italian they're the fifth-largest spirits company in the world. Their signature drink is a Negroni, which is one part Campari this orange bitter one part vermouth, sweet vermouth, Cinzano they've never had their own gin. And so I was like you know one hundred and fifty years every time somebody orders a Negroni one of their competitors have been getting a piece of the action which is interesting.

Ken White

Yes.

Anshuman Vohra

So we did a deal with them. They're a pretty imaginative forward-thinking group of folks who say that we'd love to partner with you. Did a deal with a distributor around the world starting in 2014 at that point in time we were in like 20 countries doing like 600,000 bottles around the world, and with their help, you know two or three years later we were in 130 countries. Doing I want to say a couple million bottles and today, you know they acquired us in 2017 in Feb 2017, and today Bulldog is the fourth largest premium gin in the world. We'll do about close to around three million bottles in probably a hundred and sixty hundred seventy countries. And one of the fastest-growing brands, so that was a great outcome I was really happy for me personally and for my friends on the tennis team for everyone who invested.

Ken White

Well, that's part 1 of our conversation with Anshuman Vohra, founder of Bulldog Gin. And that's our podcast for this week. In two weeks on our next episode, we'll hear the second part Vohra's story as he tells us about his new venture and his new product Halo Sport a premium certified organic beverage that's changing the hydration category. That's next time on Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. The Center for Corporate Education is offering the Certificate in Business Management program this fall. It's taught by the William & Mary MBA faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek. For more information regarding that and our other programs, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest this week on Anshuman Vohra. And thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Until next time have a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Jennifer Engelhardt & Scott Troxell
Jennifer Engelhardt & Scott TroxellEpisode 122: October 1, 2019
Virtual Reality at Work with lady wearing VR goggles

Jennifer Engelhardt & Scott Troxell

Episode 122: October 1, 2019

Virtual Reality at Work

Virtual Reality. While many of us think of video games when we hear the term, VR has evolved, especially in terms of its use in the workplace where its impact on productivity is significant. Organizations and sectors employ virtual reality to, among other things, improve peoples' mental, physical, and financial health. While VR is helping employees, it's having a positive effect on the bottom line, too. Two professionals on the leading edge of virtual reality join us on the podcast today. Jennifer Engelhardt is a Principal with EY, and Scott Troxell is CEO of Virtuous Reality. They're with us today to talk about the ways virtual reality is becoming commonplace at work and beyond.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What is the definition of virtual reality
  • What are uses for virtual reality outside of video games
  • What makes VR so immersive
  • What is Virtuous Reality's mission statement
  • How does Virtuous Reality use VR for meditation and mindfulness
  • How does VR contribute to emotional wellness
  • How do business use VR to help veterans
  • Why is virtual reality beneficial in treating PTSD
  • What benefits are corporations seeing after implementing VR
Transcript

Jennifer Engelhardt & Scott Troxell: Virtual Reality at Work TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host Ken White. Thanks for listening. Virtual reality. While many of us think of video games when we hear the term. VR has evolved, especially in terms of its use in the workplace, where its impact on productivity is significant. Organizations and sectors employ virtual reality to, among other things, improve people's mental, physical, and financial health. While VR is helping employees, it's having a positive effect on the bottom line too. Two professionals on the leading edge of virtual reality join us on the podcast today. Jennifer Engelhardt is a principal with EY, and Scott Troxell is CEO of Virtuous Reality. They're with us today to talk about the ways virtual reality is becoming commonplace at work and beyond. Here's our discussion with EY's Jennifer Engelhardt and Virtuous Reality's Scott Troxell.

Ken White

Jennifer, Scott, thank you very much for being here. It's great to have you here.

Jennifer Engelhardt

Absolutely.

Scott Troxell

Thanks, so glad to be here.

Ken White

And Jennifer, you're a two-timer now. Right.

Jennifer Engelhardt

I am. I am indeed.

Ken White

This is the second time, yeah. It's great to have you here. We'll start with you, virtual reality, when you're at cocktail parties in the neighborhood, and people ask you what it is. How do you define it?

Jennifer Engelhardt

You know at its most simplest form I think it's a computer-generated environment and it can be used. I mean I think when people think about it, they think about their kids down in the basement you know playing video games which in fact it does quite well. But when we think about in the context of improving patient outcomes or improving even your financial results, it really can help with everything from helping soldiers and veterans with PTSD and suicide prevention. You know 22 veterans kill themselves every day. So how can we use virtual reality as a means to help them cope with those traumatic you know those traumatic memories all the way to the corporate side. When we look at financial wellness, physical wellness, and emotional wellness and how those wellness factors can contribute to financial results.

Ken White

Scott, what do you do in this space? You and your company, what do you, what's your role?

Scott Troxell

Well, I would just add to what Jennifer saying. Like one of the neat things that virtual reality for me is the immersive nature of it. So with virtual reality, you are actually in the scene. So you know you watch TV, or you go to a play there is either a frame or a proscenium arch. When you go into virtual reality, you put on this headset, and you can look up, look down, left, right, all around, spin around in your chair, and you are in a completely new environment. You are no longer in whatever room you were in when you donned that headset, and you are now on a moonlit hillside or on a beach somewhere in Tahiti.

Ken White

It's a great way to describe it for someone who hasn't experienced it because of the headset that you put on you are really there.

Scott Troxell

That is, and that's the magic of it for me.

Ken White

Yeah.

Scott Troxell

And it's, and it's an auditory experience as well. You're surrounded you're if you're on that moonlit hillside you're hearing the crickets chirping all around you, you hear an owl off in the distance hooting in a while. And interestingly, you turn in your chair that owl stays in that same space. There's ambisonic sound, and I won't go too technical, but that segue way is to your question about what we're doing with breathr. The company is called Virtuous Reality cause we're using virtual reality to help people live a more virtuous reality and be stronger and more resilient. Breathr is just what it sounds like. It gives you an opportunity to take a breather go into VR, slip on this headset in the midst of your busy day and be whisked away to a serene, tranquil environment where you can sit and just take a breather, or meditate, practice mindfulness, prayer, whatever you want to bring to it. You're in this immersive environment, and it becomes a mini-vacation in the middle of your busy day.

Ken White

Yeah, and it's I think you almost have to try it to really get it, right.

Scott Troxell

Yes.

Ken White

Because it is truly immersive when you have the headset on.

Scott Troxell

Yeah.

Ken White

I mean, you're there.

Scott Troxell

You can talk about it till you're blue in the face. It's one of these new technologies that until you do it, I'll tell you all about it, and then when you put it on and try it the first time people say wow oh look over there, look down here, I can oh this is amazing.

Ken White

Yeah. So it is so new. How do you get into this?

Scott Troxell

It's well interestingly I've always been into meditation and mindfulness, and it's something that I wanted to be able to bring and share with the world. I feel like there's just so much stress and anxiety in the world today, in business, in the military, veterans, students here at William & Mary, and elsewhere there's a lot of anxiety and pressure. And I wanted people to be able to experience what I experience and how can I get to it. My partner and co-founder, John Harrington, was doing work with the National Library of Medicine and doing work in virtual reality. Where he was creating genome strings so that they could actually go down into ultimate subatomic levels and play with the human genome. And he said, have you tried virtual reality? You've got to try it. I did it. I've found myself attracted to this one app where it took me to a mountain top in the Cascades somewhere and Ken as soon as I was there, and I'm looking around having that experience I just described, and I said I just want to sit down and meditate. And in fact, I sent him away, and I did I spent like 15 minutes meditating, and I was able to go deeper faster by virtue of just blocking out my environment and being in that space. And I came out of that, and that was the epiphany moment, I went to John and said we've got to bring this to the world. My hypothesis was that it helped me go deeper faster, but I really thought people who didn't meditate and who hadn't done it before and maybe having a hard time getting into that. This was going to help them be able to experience real meditation the first time out, and so we built it. It took a year, and the hypothesis bore out. People love it. It's working for them, and they want more.

Ken White

And it's a heck of an alternative to a 10-minute walk right outside the office or down the hall, isn't it?

Scott Troxell

Yes, it is.

Ken White

Wow.

Scott Troxell

And it's like the equivalent of you know you ever go on. When's the last time you had a vacation?

Ken White

Yeah. Right exactly.

Scott Troxell

Where did you go? How did you feel afterwards? Come back feeling recharged and refocused?

Ken White

Absolutely.

Scott Troxell

Well yeah, do that in five minutes at the office.

Ken White

Jennifer, what are you doing in this space at work?

Jennifer Engelhardt

So we are looking at wellness from those few perspectives that I mentioned before. I think, historically, companies have really focused on physical wellness.

Ken White

Right.

Jennifer Engelhardt

So you've seen the rise. Like if you look at HR, you see the rise in pay gym memberships and things like that. Financial wellness so people who are financially stressed, you know any sort of stress or anxiety can limit productivity and creativity. So for example, when I joined EY, I was given a financial advisor that helps me not only with my own professional needs, being in a privately held company partnership, but also with my other financial needs. And then the one that's the newest one that's out there is around emotional wellness, and that's exactly what Scott's company brings to the table. It's really about helping people to get to anywhere wherever they are on that on that spectrum of mental health. So it could be all the way down with like veterans all the way to students to people who just need to recharge. If you think about everybody knows where they were on 9/11. I don't think I had like a normal workday for at least four weeks after that. So how can we quickly get people back to a mental place where they're not just getting by but they're really functioning, and they're being creative, you can not be creative and innovative if you're stressed and anxious.

Ken White

Right.

Jennifer Engelhardt

And so the research has shown us that when we are have wellness and all in all three categories, we are more creative, more productive, we're more innovative. And so that's what I'm helping companies with.

Ken White

Yeah, that's so key that you said stress limits creativity and productivity. I don't think we think much about that.

Jennifer Engelhardt

Yes.

Ken White

You know we push on through. Just get her done. Right. I don't think we think a whole lot about that. Give us an example of an organization doing something in the space that you think is just terrific.

Jennifer Engelhardt

So it runs the gamut, so I have one client who's using VR for onboarding. And so when you go into their New York office, they're a global pharmaceutical company, when you go into the New York office, they allow you depending on which office you are to do a virtual tour of that office. They allow people to explore different career paths using virtual reality. So it's almost like a mixture of the VR and then the gaming component, so you make certain decisions. It's actually a very simple decision tree, and based on those decisions, you can go into different departments and meet some of the mentors, all virtually, and then all the way to things like business resiliency. So working with another client to they're preparing for things like you know God forbid an active shooter. How do we quickly get the EMT teams back to the place where they can function again after a traumatic event? How can we also simulate to a new employee? These are the I was talking to a business resiliency officer. They did a study about how many people walked past the closest exit for a fire. You don't really think about that until it actually happens.

Ken White

Right.

Jennifer Engelhardt

And we need to be prepared for those things. So there's so many different applications. I mean, in my own personal life, my daughter was my daughter's a teenager she was having an existential crisis the other night. Over I don't know Lululemon shorts or something. And John had let me borrow the breathr, and I said go upstairs take a bath I'll make you some tea put the breathr on. She goes, Mom; I'm not gonna do that, I said, try it. So she sits and sits down five minutes later she's just you know she doesn't want to give it back. So it can really help people you know just relax, and then also there's so many different applications you can have people who are afraid of public speaking. A lot of people. You can be in a simulated environment where you have 200 avatars staring at you. Some of them are sleeping, some of them are bored, checking their watches, some are listening intently. You know so that you can practice that and overcome those anxieties to get you to a better place to be more productive, innovative, creative.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Jennifer Engelhardt and Scott Troxell in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary's School of Business. If you are looking to raise your game and give your career a boost. The Center for Corporate Education is hosting the Certificate in Business Management program from October 21st to the 25th here at William & Mary. In the five day program, each day is devoted to one important business topic, including communication, managerial accounting, business strategy, operational effectiveness, and leadership. The program is taught by William & Mary's MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation on virtual reality in the workplace with Jennifer Engelhardt and Scott Troxell.

Ken White

Scott, we're seeing a lot in the military space as well. What can you tell us about some of the things that how military are using and veterans and first responders?

Scott Troxell

Yeah, and the well military, it's interesting you say because they are largely responsible for virtual reality being where it is today. Because they were the early adopters, and they had the big bucks to throw at it 30 40 years ago. I mean, it really started with flight simulators in World War 2. Where the very first sort of virtual reality machines when they had to train thousands of people to be able to fly the planes and continuing throughout. They use it for training so that you can go into different scenarios without having to have live ordnance and big spaces and teamwork and that sort of thing. And now they're using it for things like treating PTSD, TBI, Post-Traumatic Stress. One of the things they use for immersion therapy so they will recreate the scene where you had your trauma. And so by its one thing that therapists do that help you imagine being back in that scenario and knowing that you're safe and nothing's going to happen so that you don't keep replaying that video in your head.

Ken White

Right.

Scott Troxell

Is what's happening. So they'll recreate that in, put you actually in the Humvee in VR so they can experience and know you're going to come out okay. There's interestingly there's a study that's been done where they compared that with mindfulness training and meditation because for a lot of military they don't want to go and do that reversion therapy.

Ken White

Sure.

Scott Troxell

Go back and experience that again for understandable reasons. They found meditation and mindfulness techniques was to be equally beneficial. And so what we're doing with the VR and that goes to post-traumatic stress. But it also affects stress, anxiety, all of that. A lot of these things you have probably heard this the answer or an answer tends to be meditation and mindfulness can really help with that. Problem with that is not everyone; a lot of people feel like I can't just sit and meditate for five. I can't close my eyes and stop my mind and think about nothing, which is not really what it is. You're just not engaging with your thoughts. But that's another whole story. But so what VR does and what I'm bringing to it is that by blocking out those distractions and giving you a cool new environment to focus on helps people go in and experience and get to that mindfulness and meditation and let it do its work in the workplace, in the military, veterans, students.

Jennifer Engelhardt

And to level that point on the veterans, there's a company that's made a simulator that includes VR, and it also includes the smells like after an IED exploded and the vibrations. So they created this environment called Virtual Iraq, and it is very real, and it's actually pretty controversial. I mean the immersion therapy. You're right. Every patient has a different needs a different therapy. But the idea is when they are in that environment, and it's very very real then they're sometimes they're walking on a treadmill with you know with the VR set on you know the idea is that when they're immersed in that and walking through that with a therapist in the room. They are desensitizing themselves to that stressor. So there are so many fantastic applications to human health outcomes to you know just corporate outcomes you know the bottom line just there are so many possibilities out there that VR will bring us as a society and as you know as corporate citizens as well.

Scott Troxell

And you make me think of an interesting point about VR that we haven't touched on yet. And just when you're talking about haptics and that's the other sensations besides video and audio. Feeling it and it feels very real when Jennifer says that you can't like overstate that. It's a neat thing about VR when you recall your experience in virtual reality. You recall it as if you were actually there. So, in other words, your brain does not distinguish between virtual reality and actual reality.

Ken White

Right.

Scott Troxell

So you're actually creating those memories, and from the early days of people, you know they put on the VR headset, and you stand them up on the edge of a cliff. They know they're in a room, and there's a floor in front of them, but they will not step off that cliff in VR.

Ken White

Yeah, there is something about the headset. Like you said early five minutes, what can possibly happen to me in five minutes come on.

Scott Troxell

Yeah.

Ken White

Until you try it. I think you have to try it.

Jennifer Engelhardt

Yes.

Ken White

Actually, to truly experience it cause it is hard to just put into words, so it is you are somewhere else. You know when you have that on what you mentioned bottom line Jennifer, what are companies and organizations seeing, or are they? What kind of benefits?

Jennifer Engelhardt

Well, the benefits are so significant that there are companies out there that are paying their employees or offering different incentives to get them to get to have better physical, financial, and emotional wellness. The insurance company Aetna for example. I'm wearing a Fitbit and tells me how much I sleep every night, which is sometimes depressing.

Ken White

Right.

Jennifer Engelhardt

But Aetna pays their employees for getting a certain amount of sleep every work night. And the idea being that better-rested employees are more productive employees and so they can earn up to I think 300 dollars a year if they are recording seven hours of sleep per night. So that's I find that very fascinating, and then they're investing a lot more in things like we have a program at EY called EY assist and if you have any sort of crisis or need some medical, mental health assistance that is all there. But companies are investing in that very very heavily, and it's becoming an area that we're spending a lot of time in our consulting world.

Ken White

Scott, a manager a leader who's not, does not have VR in the organization. What advice do you have for that leader that manager at this point?

Scott Troxell

I'd say it's time to get up with the times and you may have when you hear about VR, you may hear that it's the next big thing. And then it's not, and then it's the next big thing, and then it's not. People are referring to the consumer market, and as Jennifer mentioned earlier, it hasn't taken off with the gamers and the gaming, which is what the first thing I think a lot of people think of in terms of VR. But the real power of it and the real applications are in some of the things that Jennifer mentioned with training and treatment. And then especially also in mindfulness and meditation and the things we're bringing to it. It is the way of for future. It's not going away, and it's time to get on board.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Jennifer Engelhardt of EY and Scott Troxell of Virtuous Reality. And that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. The Center for Corporate Education is offering its Certificate in Business Management program later this month. It's taught by the William & Mary MBA faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek. For information regarding that and our other programs, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guests this week, Jennifer Engelhardt and Scott Troxell, thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Till next time have a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Beth Comstock
Beth ComstockEpisode 121: September 15, 2019
Courage, Creativity and Change with person shaping brain

Beth Comstock

Episode 121: September 15, 2019

Courage, Creativity and Change

According to Forbes, she's one fo the world's 100 Most Powerful Women. She's been named to the 100 Most Influential CMOs list, and she's a member of PR Weeks' Top 20 Most Influential Communicators. She's Beth Comstock, most known for her almost three decades at GE where she served as Chief Marketing Officer and later Vice Chair of Innovation. Her latest project is her award-winning book "Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity and the Power of Change." Comstock visited William & Mary in late August where she was the featured speaker at the school's annual opening convocation. During her visit to campus, she sat down with us to discuss effective communication, leadership, and the power of change.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What was Beth's path to business
  • What's Beth's approach to communication and its importance
  • What makes a good communicator
  • How did Beth get over her fear of public speaking
  • How to approach storytelling as an aspect of communication
  • What are highlights from Beth's time at GE
  • Why did Beth write Imagine It Forward
  • Why are business leaders reluctant to change
  • How to approach change in a large organization
  • What are the five obstacles to achieving change
Transcript

Beth Comstock: Courage, Creativity and Change TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host Ken White. Thanks for listening. According to Forbes, she's one of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women. She's been named to the 100 most influential CMOs list, and she's a member of PR Week's top 20 most influential communicators. She's Beth Comstock, most known for almost three decades at GE, where she served as chief marketing officer and later vice-chair of innovation. Her latest project is her award-winning book, "Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change. Comstock visited William & Mary in late August, where she was the featured speaker at the school's annual opening convocation. During her visit to campus, she sat down with us to discuss effective communication, leadership, and the power of change. Here's our conversation with Beth Comstock.

Ken White

Beth, thank you so much for taking time to join us. It's absolutely great to have you here.

Beth Comstock

So happy to be here. Thank you.

Ken White

And you'll be speaking later today

Beth Comstock

Right

Ken White

To the university.

Beth Comstock

The convocation.

Ken White

That's quite an honor.

Beth Comstock

Oh, it is, I'm so delighted I'm thrilled.

Ken White

And I know you as a communicator you always practice you always prepare that's the way to do it. I'm assuming you're really ready. Looking forward to today.

Beth Comstock

I am. I mean, I do practice I'll be practicing right up until the minute I get up there, but there comes a point when you just have to say okay I've done all I can do and you have to just be there and enjoy it.

Ken White

Yeah.

Beth Comstock

And I once I learned through a lot of bad speaking, I used to try to race the clock, and it was more like I was speaking to the clock, not the audience. And just with enough practice, you just try to connect with people there; in this case, it's particularly poignant because I was in the audience once too.

Ken White

Yeah.

Beth Comstock

And so to remember back and say well what would I have wanted to have heard when I was 18 19 20. So I it really resonates with me this time.

Ken White

That's great. And I've been checking the weather; it's going to be a beautiful afternoon.

Beth Comstock

Yeah, I'm looking forward to it.

Ken White

We're gonna have a great day. So when we started the podcast, we already gave you your intro, and we told our listeners about your background, and so forth. So they know who you are and where you're from. When you were growing up, did family and friends, would they have ever seen you doing this having the career you had?

Beth Comstock

No, I my family would they're as surprised as I am that I ended up in business and doing having the longevity I had in big business. I grew up a small-town Virginia girl. I came to William & Mary because I wanted to go to medical school, so I majored in biology. I left here because I thought I wanted to be a science journalist. So I had already deviated, and the quest for journalism is what got me into media. And then that communications marketing and then I got into business so it was a very unexpected path and no one's more surprised than my family my funny you were talking earlier about speaking my dad will sometimes say I can't believe that's you up there talking he's heard me giving speeches, and I'm shy. I'm an introvert, and that's something I've really had to work at. So I think forget what I have done in a career my dad just can't believe I can stand up and talk to groups of people. He just doesn't never thought that would be me.

Ken White

It's always good to impress Mom and Dad.

Beth Comstock

Yeah, exactly.

Ken White

That's always a good thing. So you are known as a high-quality communicator. There are textbooks we use you're in them and videos you've done with G.E. and other jobs you're in there. What's your approach to communication and its importance in someone's career?

Beth Comstock

Well, I've been at it for a while. I spent the early part of my career as a storyteller communicator in some ways I think I have always been that. Part of it is just practice early on in my career I actually went out and found people to give me coaching advice. To help me be a better speaker. To help me get over my fear of speaking my public speaking fear. I mean, I still get it tonight beforehand even though I'm ready I'll have a pit in my stomach. And so you what you have to do is just practice practice like anything practice practice, and you need to get feedback. I'm big on feedback loops, so you need people that say ugh ugh you know you do ugh all the time stop it stop it. You're scratching your elbow every time you say that word why. Like you look dumb.

Ken White

Right.

Beth Comstock

And you have to be willing to fix that.

Ken White

Yeah.

Beth Comstock

So I think it's those two things and the last thing I'd say is communication is the connection. If you're up there to get a grade, you know I you can't get up there and say okay I want them to think I'm better than Oprah. I want to be you know better than Michelle Obama. That's not going to why are you here and why are you here. You have a message you want to make a connection. If you're that sincere and you're that honest, you're going to do well.

Ken White

Throughout your career, you in the things I've seen storytelling is a big piece of communication. How do you approach stories? Why are they a part of when you communicate with people?

Beth Comstock

I'm glad you raised that. I think story is almost everything we tend to think stories what we do at the end. I saw this a lot in business from a communications and from also from a marketing perspective, it's like I've got this great product now get me a story. I've got this great product now go tell people and launch it. Well, know stories; it's your strategy. So to me, I came to realize story is strategy. It's wherever you come from. What problem are you solving? Where are you going? And that works for a person, for a product, for a business. And I often would test my colleagues when they'd come in from a business strategy perspective, and they'd say we have this great idea I'd say okay let's write it up as a story often we'd write it as a press release.

Ken White

Sure.

Beth Comstock

Okay. And if it held up okay, you got something.

Ken White

Yeah.

Beth Comstock

And if not, if you can't tell a story about it. I found this with entrepreneurs. One of the questions I love to ask entrepreneurs is, what's your story. Weirds people out. What do you mean what's my story?

Ken White

Right.

Beth Comstock

What's your story?

Ken White

Yeah.

Beth Comstock

What I'm looking for is what's your passion? Where did you come from? Why did you have this idea? Why should I buy from you? Invest in you. So I think those are the things that story answer for people it's a way to make a connection. We don't remember facts as much as we remember an authentic story.

Ken White

And today we have to be so efficient when we tell stories we don't have a lot of time.

Beth Comstock

Yeah, we don't.

Ken White

So we've got to hook them, you know pretty quickly.

Beth Comstock

Yeah, I think social media is a good training ground for that I often challenge people you know luckily Twitter is going up to two hundred and forty sixty characters now.

Ken White

Right.

Beth Comstock

So if you can, you know it's just like can you put a headline in a tweet? Can you try to tell your story in as few words as possible there was that I don't know if it's true? Ernest Hemingway supposedly wrote you know six six-word story baby shoes never worn. Right. I think those things are really powerful to get you to focus and be as dramatic and as succinct as possible.

Ken White

Yeah. When we teach it here, we encourage our students to hook them hook that audience as quickly as possible.

Beth Comstock

How do you do that? What's what. How do you do that?

Ken White

Yeah great. That's great. You you've had a phenomenal career at GE, and this is probably a terribly unfair question a highlight that stands out something you're particularly proud of that you've done with the team with the organization.

Beth Comstock

I guess I'd say that answered in two ways one and just I'm particularly proud to have worked with some amazing people. I mean and it's not the big famous CEOs or whatever it was the teams I was part of. And we had a commitment, especially toward the end the teams I worked with in innovation in marketing we had a commitment with each other we said we're gonna do our best work. We don't know how long we're gonna be together. We're gonna take risks. We're gonna try things we're gonna be first at things, and so we were really proud of the work. Did it all work? No. But I wish everyone could have that experience. And my second thing would be I think being part of a cleantech revolution in a very established company we launched what we called eco imagination. It was very forward-thinking at the time. Now not so, but it was unexpected, and it was meaningful, and I'm really proud that we persevered with that.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Beth Comstock in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary's School of Business. If you're looking to raise your game and give your career a boost. The Center for Corporate Education is hosting the Certificate in Business Management program from October 21st to the 25th here at William & Mary. The five-day program devotes each day to one important business topic, including communication, managerial accounting, business strategy, operational effectiveness, and leadership. The programs taught by William & Mary's MBA faculty the faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation with the author of "Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change," Beth Comstock.

Ken White

Your book. Why did you write it?

Beth Comstock

I wrote it because I. My husband said that he thought I was always going to write one. I wasn't so sure, but I just had a passion to share some experiences. I taught a class at GE at our learning institute, and every month, I'd go, and I love this class. But I always people sort of there was this fear in people afraid to take a risk afraid to try something they wanted to know like where did how did I. What did you do when you encountered this, and I realized that people especially early to middle of their career often the middle of the company a lot of pressure and they need some encouragement they need some permission granting and so to me it was to say hey let me just take everything I learned and try to share with you the failures I could have called it fail forward. But I called it imagine forward because I'm not sure fail forward was a good marketing campaign.

Ken White

Right.

Beth Comstock

But that's what I tried to do to say you know what you kind of blunder your way to success. And let me share with you how I managed that.

Ken White

And you also talk about change.

Beth Comstock

Yeah.

Ken White

In the book, why does it seem that so many people are reluctant to change?

Beth Comstock

Well, one change is just happening so much in every corner. I mean one of the lines I love that in the book that I took from a colleague just this notion that the world will never be slower than it is right now. Right. Like we're sharing this moment, can I. Well, congratulations. Right. We're sharing this moment of change, and that's daunting. Yet we're adaptation machines we're human we're meant to be adaptable, but we want to control change, and we don't. And so that was another part of writing the book was trying to say you've got to get to see change early you're not going to change often, but you can at least learn about it understand it get good at pattern recognition open yourself up to discover those are the things I feel really proud of. Making part of my career practice if you will.

Ken White

Yeah, I mean, you're talking about your experience you're changing in a huge organization. How do you even get your arms around that and approach? We've got to change the way we're doing business with so many people.

Beth Comstock

Well, what you don't do is you just don't say dictate. We are all going to change, and everybody is gonna do it this way. Those things don't work. You know command and control hierarchy that's going that's gone. What has to happen is people have to see the problem that's trying to be solved. They have to have time to understand it. So I spent a lot of time trying to connect the inside of my company to the outside where the world was changing. Bringing in outsiders what I would call sparks who could spark a different perspective doing things I love called Field Trip Fridays where you go out take an afternoon with a team to go out and find something weird discovers a startup. Go talk to a professor learn things that are different and try to do that together. So I think that's part of what companies need to do is one tell a story. This is why the world is changing and why we're going to be impacted. Our customers are going to be impacted. Now let's figure out what that means for us, and let's give ourselves room to figure it out together.

Ken White

You have five obstacles that you had to overcome when creating change in the book, and I thought I'd mentioned each of the five, and if you could tell us a little, but one was self permission change begins with you. What does that mean?

Beth Comstock

It's just a mindset shift. You know there's always an excuse of why I can't do something my boss won't let me. I don't have enough money. The board will never go for that the list is on, and those may be true. But what I learned and I know from my own experience those are alibis we're afraid. So you just gotta give yourself permission to take a risk on something. Okay, maybe you don't need to pitch the board your idea the first time, but hey go pitch it to someone down the hall.

Ken White

Right.

Beth Comstock

Maybe they'll like it and work with you on it.

Ken White

Discovery, embracing, inquiry, and curiosity.

Beth Comstock

This, to me, is everything. I just I think you have to open up your aperture you have to get out in the world where change is happening to what we talked about, and you're getting good at pattern recognition. The first time you see something, you start to say that's interesting. Second time you ask is that a coincidence and third time I just declare it's a trend. I mean, that's how we got into cleantech when I was at NBC how we saw streaming video before others saw it. These are what companies need to do, and I think individuals need to do. Where's the future going well get out and find things that are kind of weird. Ask yourself what's going on there.

Ken White

And one two three not wait too long.

Beth Comstock

Right. Right. I mean a good exercise is to think back maybe five or 10 years ago to something that seemed crazy that's now commonplace. I mean, this is more than five years. But getting in the car with a stranger.

Ken White

Right. Right.

Beth Comstock

You know it's Uber and Lyft and everything right like at once that seemed really absurd. Now it's commonplace.

Ken White

Yeah.

Beth Comstock

What's happening today that you're like, oh my God, that's so crazy. Blockchain Bitcoin is something that smart people are talking about. There are a lot of these things out there. It's your job. I think to keep pace with change to discover these things.

Ken White

Agitated inquiry facing the tension head-on.

Beth Comstock

Yeah, this is a fancy phrase for conflict. It's the ability to beat up your ideas just because you see something and think you have a better idea doesn't mean it's good. And so it's inviting in people who are going to give you feedback beat up ideas hiring people on your teams for innovation who don't always agree who have different perspectives. So it's about conflict

Ken White

Story craft developing a powerful narrative. So the organization understands.

Beth Comstock

Yeah, and I think it's to what we said story is so critical. Where are you going? You can. I once worked with a CEO who said, you know, like why are you here. Because we're gonna get 10 percent growth. And I was like okay. You mean everybody's waking up every day saying let's go get 10 percent growth. No. Why are they here? What is there? And you hear a lot today on purpose. I mean, it's much more narrative. It's much more here's where we're going in the world. Here's the problem we're trying to solve. Here's why we're uniquely qualified. And so I think story is just you remember we talked earlier. You remember stories better than you remember pure facts.

Ken White

And you start the story internally and then go externally? Does that matter?

Beth Comstock

I don't know that it matters, but I think the story has to resonate internally, or it's never going to resonate anywhere. And I learned that from marketing too often people just give me a slogan first off I think slogans are kind of over now anyway because it's so cluttered, but internally it has to resonate and it has to be simple enough that people can repeat it and repeat it and repeat it. And so when customers hear they can say hey, is this really what it's like to work here. Oh my gosh yeah. That's we were all about imagination.

Ken White

Yeah.

Beth Comstock

We're all about speed to delivery, whatever your unique value and purpose is. So people are able to articulate it. Can they tell the story?

Ken White

And we know how powerful and influential employees are now.

Beth Comstock

Yeah.

Ken White

They're out banging the drum customers listen.

Beth Comstock

Yeah. And the opposite. If it's not true they're going to they're gonna rat you out.

Ken White

Creating a new operating system develop leaders who will embrace and inspire the vision.

Beth Comstock

Well, I think this is really just getting to action and that that's a systematic approach and that you've got to create mechanisms for experimentation. You have to fund and protect new ideas and the people who have them. I think this notion of failure is a big concept that we don't talk enough about everybody's like you fail fast fail small like it's really cute it's hard work do you allow time to do that. Feedback loops giving people enough feedback. So there are things you can do at a team level at an organizational level to make sure you can get there faster, and that's mostly what I'm talking about there.

Ken White

If there was one piece of the book that you want, if they could don't, people could only read one section, one area one theme one take away. What is that?

Beth Comstock

It's to make room for discovery. I just think we we're I'm worried about it right now. I'm worried about it in the world. We're in a world of productivity optimization data always more data we have so much going on we can't get through the day. And here I am saying no, but you have to pick your head up and make room to figure out what's next and new. I argue how can you not because one day it's going to smack you in the face and you're going to be way behind the game. So I really believe you got to open your eyes open your aperture get out see patterns find things that are weird start to embrace that and make it. It can only take 10 percent of your time it does. I guarantee you if you go through your calendar today, you will find at least 10 percent of your time is committed to things you already know how to do in meetings you don't really need to be a part of. You can delegate that to someone else. You're afraid you're gonna miss out a lot of fear-based activity for yourself. Get out figure out where change is happening, and you can get it at least get a competitive edge. I'm absolutely convinced this notion of speed to learning is a create is a competitive advantage for individuals and companies, and you only do that by getting out learning and trying things.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Beth Comstock. And that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. The Center for Corporate Education is offering the Certificate in Business Management program this fall. It's taught by the William & Mary MBA faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek. For information regarding that and our other programs, this fall visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding our podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest this week Beth Comstock. And thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Until next time have a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Margaret Liptay
Margaret LiptayEpisode 120: September 1, 2019
Resilience with flower coming out of cracked dirt

Margaret Liptay

Episode 120: September 1, 2019

Resilience

We've all been there. At various points in life, everyone faces a major problem or tragedy. A life-threatening illness, a significant other dies, or a job is eliminated. Whatever the specifics, it's next to impossible to go through life without facing major setbacks or trauma. Dealing with that requires resilience. Margaret Liptay is a certified leadership coach. She partners with leaders, CEOs and executives to help them become more effective in their roles, and a quality necessary for success is resilience. She joins us on the podcast today to discuss resilience, why it's important, and how you can become more resilient in your work and professional lives.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What defines resilience
  • What is Margaret's perception of resilience
  • Are people born with a developed sense of resilience
  • When do people start developing a sense of resilience
  • How can people improve their resilience
  • The importance of rest to the brain and how to refocus your mind
  • What are good tactics to embrace when a colleague is in distress
  • Why is it critical for leaders to be resilient
  • What is the link between courage and resilience
  • Is there an alternative to being resilient
Transcript

Margaret Liptay: Resilience TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host Ken White. Thanks for listening. Well, we've all been there at various points in life. Everyone faces a major problem or tragedy, a life-threatening illness, a significant other dies, or a job is eliminated. Whatever the specifics, it's next to impossible to go through life without facing major setbacks or trauma. Dealing with that requires resilience. Margaret Liptay is a certified leadership coach. She partners with leaders, CEOs, and executives to help them become more effective in their roles in a quality necessary for success is resilience. She joins us on the podcast today to discuss resilience, why it's important, and how you can become more resilient in your work and professional lives. Here's our conversation with leadership coach Margaret Liptay.

Ken White

Margaret, it's been a while since you've been on the podcast. It's great to have you back. Thanks for joining us.

Margaret Liptay

Thank you, Ken. It's great to be here as always. Its a joy.

Ken White

You know I thought I would start off with something I was thinking about as I was actually walking downstairs to meet you. Years ago, I was offered a position, and they said you just have to meet the chairman of the board just for a meet and greet, and then we're done, and I said fine and met the chairman, and he looked at me, so I have one question. Tell me about a time when you were fired, and I hadn't been fired, and I said I don't have anything for you. I've not been fired at least not yet. Then he said that's disappointing. I said, why is it disappointing? He goes, I want to see how resilient you are. And I never even. That never occurred to me. And resilience was so important to him. He wanted to make sure if you're going to be on this team, a leader on this team, you better know how to bounce back. Resilience might be something we might not think about that much, but it's important, isn't it?

Margaret Liptay

Absolutely. It's important to everyone. It's important to leaders. It's important to those who are being led. It's important to shareholders. It's important to anybody that you do business with. And it's really important on a colleague to colleague situation.

Ken White

How do you define resilience when you think of that? What are some of the words that come in mind?

Margaret Liptay

Well, let me give you a textbook definition.

Ken White

Ah, yeah.

Margaret Liptay

And then I'm going to put the Margaret Liptay spin on it. How does that work?

Ken White

That's great. Yeah.

Margaret Liptay

Okay. In a textbook word. Here it goes. Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant forces of stress. For example, family problems, relationship problems, serious health issues , workplace challenges, disappointments, and financial stressors. Resilience means bouncing back and moving forward through difficult experiences. So I look at resilience. There's two points I look at resilience as resilience allows you to change your relationship with what's happened. You don't deny what's happened, but you don't let the memory of what has happened take total control over you. And I just saw a quote recently which to me encapsulated resilience. And I'd like to share it with you.

Ken White

Yeah, please.

Margaret Liptay

The quote is life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning how to dance in the rain. It's by a woman by the name of Vivian Green. And the more I think about resilience, can you ask me what my point of view is on it. I think that sums it up. Resilience gives us the ability to change the story around what's happened. We have to face it realistically and move on. But it gives us the ability to see it in another way. And it gives us the ability to stand in that storm, work through that storm, being that storm, but yet dance in the rain.

Ken White

That's great.

Margaret Liptay

And I just love the concept of that because the storm doesn't always pass immediately. A storm, you know,

Ken White

Yeah.

Margaret Liptay

we talk about it as a memory. You know resilience, you need to you know change your relationship to the memory, but sometimes that memory sticks with you. That's the way our brains work.

Ken White

Yeah.

Margaret Liptay

You know our brains are active all the time, and things are bouncing around in there all the time. So you really need to accept your reality. And then I love the idea of dancing in the rain.

Ken White

Yeah.

Margaret Liptay

And make something about it work for you.

Ken White

So some people are good at it. Some people aren't. Are we born with resilience?

Margaret Liptay

No, we are not born with resilience, but the beauty of resilience is we can learn it, we can be taught it, we can recapture it if it gets temporarily lost, and we can pivot around it. And let's just use the example of a baby because actually resilience starts thriving within us early on. But the problem with resilience is that you don't really know you have it until you need it. So you start having it when you're actually a child. Think of a baby. A baby is walking across the room. Maybe it's only going six feet, and there's someone on the other side saying come on honey come on. And so that baby gets targeted on where it's going, and it sees that something unconditional is waiting for it on the other side. And so it starts to move forward. It falls down, and then you say get up,get up, you encourage it and get up, and the baby gets up and continues on. Well, the reason the baby continues on is because again, there's some focus there's something waiting for it at the other side; it knows it's not alone. But the baby isn't saying gee I have resilience. So you really start having resilience and understanding resilience and learning resilience at a very young age. And so what's really important from the time your very little is to start learning about resilience, and what it is, and how you can grow that muscle more all the time because let's face it it won't be as easy as just having your mom six feet away from you in life.

Ken White

Right. Right.

Margaret Liptay

It's going to get trickier.

Ken White

Yeah, I mean, if you live, you're going to run into something. I mean, that's life right. And so you've got to deal with it. But how can people improve? What can you do to build it? Once you're a professional and an adult.

Margaret Liptay

Well, there's a lot of things. One of the things that seems to me to be so clear and yet we don't do it. The brain is active all the time. Even when we're sleeping, the brain is active. So the brain is in motion all the time. So what's a requirement to really build your resilient resilience is to get some rest. If you don't get rest, your brain gets foggy; it gets fatigued just like the rest of you. What happens when your brain gets fatigued? Everything goes haywire, and it's been proven there's research around this that if you multitask from 60 to 90 minutes straight, your brain does get fatigued, and therefore, you get brain fog. When you have brain fog, what happens. You make mistakes; you're not resilient; you don't bounce back. You have emotional hijacks. You make silly errors things that should be relevant, lose their perspective. And so you spend more time on irrelevant things than relevant things.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Margaret Liptay

Operating around managing your brain's rest is really important. Staying calm is very important. Putting down technology walking away from the digital world for a while is really important because that stimuli coming at your brain all the time. Go outside, take a walk, watch a bird, look at the flowers, just be for a minute, just be, and focus on one thing.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Margaret Liptay

In addition, in terms of how do you build your resilience, you've got to do something that gives you purpose sometimes even beyond your work. Work should not be your sole purpose for living. I don't think it is most people's sole purpose for living, so you have to find a purpose beyond yourself and beyond your work that'll build your resilience. Also, you have to have courage to do new things, to be vulnerable, to go into your boss and say I'd like to try something new, give me a new opportunity, I'm willing I'm able I want to do it and then if you fail so be it. Failure is the greatest teacher in the world. But that'll build your resilience so that next time if something goes awry or you're in a position that isn't the right fit for you, you won't feel so discouraged, you won't get paralyzed, you won't get stuck in the storm.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Margaret Liptay

You'll just say okay I'm going to dance in the rain and move on. So those are just a few things

Ken White

Yeah.

Margaret Liptay

That that whole concept of refreshing your brain as you refresh your body is very, very important to building your resistance.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Margaret Liptay in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary's School of Business. Are you investing enough time in advancing your career? If it's time to grow your business acumen or revitalize some outdated skills. The Center for Corporate Education has the program for you. The Certificate in Business Management. It's a five-day program that includes the essential topics found in our highly ranked MBA program, and it's taught by our MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek. It's designed for professionals seeking key concepts and tools that will enhance your career. A full day is devoted to each topic communication, accounting for managers, business strategy, operational effectiveness, and leadership. The program takes place October 21st through October 25th. To learn more about the Certificate in Business Management program, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation on resilience with leadership coach Margaret Liptay.

Ken White

There was an interesting piece in the most recent issue of Harvard Business Review regarding how people should react when a colleague is facing a tragedy, and they're trying to be resilient. In fact, the article is called when a colleague is grieving how to provide the right kind of support, and it explained what a leader should do. A colleague should do what direct reports should do, and basically, the bottom line was be supportive. So when you see somebody dealing with a trauma or a tragedy in the workplace, be supportive. What are some effective tactics you've seen that people embrace when a colleague or a boss is in distress at work?

Margaret Liptay

Well, I can tell you a few things that I wouldn't do, and I'll give you a funny example. So in my own life, when I was coming along in my career, I was approached about moving out of a position that I was in that I absolutely loved it and asked to take on another position that was a brand new created role, brand new in so many ways. And they said we think you'll be great for this job. But of course, because I was young and not quite as experienced, I started perseverating and awfulizing about they're trying to take me out of my current job. Now they're putting me in this other job. Oh, my goodness. You know I was having a real pity party, I felt down. I accepted the other job, but I felt I was you know leaving my people and a friend of mine called and she said Margaret I heard about what's going on with you, and I feel awful. I just feel so awful for you. And I said Jean, why do you feel so awful. And she said well they didn't invite me to take on your job. And so I feel awful. So what I'm getting at there, is there are people around you who will lack self-awareness. And so what you really need to do in situations where you're highly stressed, you have a tragedy, you have a challenge, is surround yourself with real people, real friends. People who are interested in you are unconditional about you, like the little baby, you know.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Margaret Liptay

People who are interested in where you're going and where you're headed. And that's I think that's a key that relationship building that connection with other people. And don't say to somebody, oh, I feel your pain. Oh, I've had a similar experience. In fact, I've had the exact same experience. That's not always comforting.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Margaret Liptay

What's more comforting is a hug or just someone to sit next to you.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Margaret Liptay

And just say, how are you doing?

Ken White

Yeah.

Margaret Liptay

That's more comforting. The less said, the better. But knowing that there is someone there. I mean, when was the last time you got a hug from your cell phone? Never, so to know that there's a real person there who's not telling you about them but is really there for you is a very important part of building resilience around any kind of tragedy or disappointment.

Ken White

Leaders. Why is it critical for them to be resilient?

Margaret Liptay

Well, getting back to what we said earlier. Think about it. If a leader is not resilient, they get brain fog. They are in a state of disarray. They are not operating in a leadership capacity. They perhaps get emotionally hijacked, so they abuse themselves. They abuse their staff; they abuse the people around them. They say things they shouldn't. They do things they shouldn't. They make bad decisions. So everything I mentioned before about young professionals coming along applies to leaders. They need to sort of detox from technology. They need to take a time out. They need to rest their brains because the more that they do not do that the more chaos organizationally that they can create. The good news and bad news about emotions is that they're contagious. So if your leader is you know out of whack and is not operating in a leadership capacity because of stress because of their own personal issues that impacts everybody that impacts the staff that impacts people's reactions that impacts your retention that impacts the culture of the company. So it is so critical for leaders to take all the same advice you know and being a leader. That's one of the loneliest positions in the world.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Margaret Liptay

The higher up you get, the fewer people you can trust.

Ken White

Sure.

Margaret Liptay

The fewer people that want to come visit you frankly. So, as a result, you really need to have those real solid relationships. You need to do the same things that everyone else does. They need to find something bigger than themselves. They need to get outside of themselves. They need to find some something that's other; that does not cause the fatigue that is wearing them down.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Margaret Liptay

And we've all been there.

Ken White

Sure.

Margaret Liptay

And we know how it impacts our ability to make decisions.

Ken White

Yeah absolutely. You mentioned courage a little while ago. What's the link between courage and resilience, or is there a link?

Margaret Liptay

There's I think there's a very direct link. Courage is like a muscle. So the more you try to do things that require courage. I think the more it helps your resilience. So to me, courage is not ignoring fear. It's accepting fear. So to do a podcast that's a little fearful for me. So I accept it. I love it. I want to do it. I enjoyed partnering with you. So what you've got to do was overcome fear. And how do you overcome fear through your courage? And it's a muscle much like resilience. If you don't keep doing things that you're fearful of, then you will never overcome that fear so that you can move forward. So, for example, a colleague of mine once said when we were going through a big merger and acquisition. She said I'm just going to stay below the radar. I'm going to stay out of everybody's way. And I said boy I'm taking a different tactic. I'm going to go meet every new executive we have, and I'm going to find out what this new organization offers.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Margaret Liptay

Those were two different things. She was afraid.

Ken White

Right.

Margaret Liptay

Her fear paralyzed her. I was not afraid, or I was kind of, but I said, what the heck. What do I have to lose? So on you go. So that's where there is a very distinct relationship between being courageous and using that courage to sort of motivate your resilience. And I think the more resilient you are; the more courageous you are because you're not afraid to fail.

Ken White

Do we really have a choice? Don't we have to be resilient? What's the alternative?

Margaret Liptay

That's a really good question. And sometimes in spite of the fact that you have to be resilient for one reason or another, you don't have it either it's too soon after a tragedy or too soon after a trauma, and you're not healing, and maybe you need additional help. Sometimes you're alone. You don't have those resonant wonderful real relationships. Sometimes your brain is in a fog, and you can't get it out of there. Sometimes you're awfulizing and catastrophizing and perseverating, and it's the same thing over and over again. You're digging yourself deeper and deeper. There's many reasons why we get stuck. What you have to understand, or hopefully, a loved one around you will recognize that you're stuck and over time. And the thing about resilience sometimes it comes incrementally not exponentially. So if you get a little bit at a time, you get some movement forward, or you can move out of that memory, or you can move forward and maybe put one shoe on to go dance in the rain, not both shoes on. Little by little, you'll get there. But I think what happens is sometimes your expectations for yourself doom you to failure, and therefore, the message here is that you have to start working on resilience at a very early stage in your life and your parents with young children. And then, from there, everyone has to work on their own resilience so that they can when that tragedy comes and it will. And when that awful thing happens that there are tools that you have inside of you to move forward.

Ken White

That's our conversation with certified leadership coach Margaret Liptay, and that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. The Center for Corporate Education can help you get to the next level with business and leadership development programs taught by the William & Mary MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek. If you're interested in learning more, please visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest Margaret Liptay. Thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Till next time have a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Todd Boehly
Todd BoehlyEpisode 119: August 15, 2019
Leadership, Business and Baseball with baseball and glove

Todd Boehly

Episode 119: August 15, 2019

Leadership, Business and Baseball

While many professionals become successful by focusing on one business or one sector, Todd Boehly has taken another route to success. He seems to be into everything: An entrepreneur, philanthropist, businessman, and investor. Boehly's been active in a variety of sectors including media, professional sports, insurance, real estate development, and entertainment to name a few. He's involved in organizations like the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pizza Hut, and Dick Clark Productions. Boehly's the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Eldridge Industries, a private investment firm founded in 2015. He recently visited William & Mary to take part in the annual Women's Stock Pitch and Leadership Summit. He took a break from the event to sit down with us to talk about his experience building businesses, his investment philosophy, and how he sees parallels between leadership, business, and baseball.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How business and college students today compare to those of the past
  • Why access to technology at an early age leads to more sophisticated students
  • How Todd's classmates shepherded his career development
  • How Eldridge Industries weathers fluctuating interest rates
  • How to balance a wide range of interests and responsibilities
  • Why Todd got involved with Major League Baseball
  • What made the Los Angeles Dodgers a viable investment property
  • How a baseball team roster is an analogue for an investment portfolio
  • The similarities between a baseball manager and a corporate manager
  • What's the next big thing for baseball
  • What the Dodgers are doing to attract younger fans
  • How in-game sports betting has changed
  • How to embrace a larger portfolio and succeed
Transcript

Todd Boehly: Leadership, Business and Baseball TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host Ken White. Thanks for listening. While many professionals become successful by focusing on one business or one sector, Todd Boehly has taken another route to success. He seems to be into everything an entrepreneur, philanthropist, businessman, and investor. Boehly has been active in a variety of sectors, including media, professional sports, insurance, real estate development, and entertainment, to name a few. He's involved in organizations like the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pizza Hut, and Dick Clark Productions. Boehly is the co-founder chairman and CEO of Eldridge Industries, a private investment firm founded in 2015. He recently visited William & Mary to take part in the annual Women's Stock Pitch and Leadership Summit. He took a break from the event to sit down with us. To talk about his experience building businesses, his investment philosophy, and how he sees the parallels between leadership, business, and baseball. Here's our conversation with the chairman and CEO of Eldridge Industries, Todd Boehly.

Ken White

Todd, thanks for taking the time to do the podcast with us. It is a pleasure to finally meet you.

Todd Boehly

It's nice to be here. Thank you very much.

Ken White

Now you're here for the Women's Stock Pitch Leadership event. This is something that you've been involved with from the get-go. What is it about the event that attracts you?

Todd Boehly

Listen, I think it's a unique opportunity for us to continuously bring the real world into the business school. And one of my frustrations going through the business school and really with academia generally when I was a student was not really understanding how that experience would connect with the real world. So our ability to continue to educate the students on what to expect when you get out of college to have a little bit of a leg up, or an edge, or at least a comfort level with the next step is really what we're been trying to do. And I think by having multiple teams compete in an environment where they're presenting their presentation skills are being observed, their knowledge for the facts are being observed, how much work did they put into the product upfront is pretty clear. And you know as you start to realize you need to continuously be evaluating these things from lots of different perspectives. When you're thinking about an investment to see the teams start to be able to come together and you know you can really tell which teams have put the hours in and which teams haven't.

Ken White

Right. So you know students today you interact with them you see them. How, in general, are business school students, college students today versus you and your peers when you were in school?

Todd Boehly

I think broadly defined, the sophistication level of the student has gone up dramatically. I think if you ask yourself why you have a world where for us and the Class of 96 here at William & Mary when really e-mail didn't really start till 95 or 96. You know we were in a world where communication was not fully distributed the way it is today. And because it's so distributed, the knowledge and the information that you know people can access is completely different. And you know I remember my term papers in high school or really whatever my three sources said, one of which would have been an encyclopedia.

Ken White

Yeah.

Todd Boehly

And the idea that that was what we were working with versus the abundance of information that people have today. I think that that's seeped its way into the younger ages, so people are getting sophisticated more specifically or more early in their lives. You know, because all of that is right available at their fingertips, and I think that expresses itself in universities and students as well.

Ken White

A great point. I haven't heard it, that's a great point. When you were in school, did you know what you wanted to do professionally?

Todd Boehly

No.

Ken White

How did you find your way?

Todd Boehly

Trial and error.

Ken White

Yeah. Did you have mentors?

Todd Boehly

You know I had a William & Mary student who was a fraternity brother of mine named Scott Mackesy, and I think one of the things that Scott was very successful at was getting a lot of us interested in finance and Wall Street. And so if you look at how many Lambda Chi Alphas who were at William & Mary that ended up coming to New York, which was kind of a uniquer place to go if you're at William & Mary. A lot of us really followed on the path that Scott charted, and then he was super supportive of helping us transition to New York such that you know he was able to get four or five of us employed early on or job offers early on and then help you know another four or five of us. So Scott was really instrumental in helping us navigate out of Williamsburg into New York City.

Ken White

Tell us about Eldridge Industries.

Todd Boehly

Diversified portfolio of businesses, you know, and one of my goals is to own businesses that when some do better, some do worse and when do some do worse, some do better. So, for example, one of the themes that you're seeing right now real-time Eldridge owns an insurance company called Security Benefit when rates go up. Financial institutions do better. So you know rates were rising last year, and Security Benefit had a record year. Now with rates coming back down, Security Benefit also owns a very large stake, and Eldridge own a large stake in something called Essential Properties, and Essential Properties is a publicly-traded triple net leasing REIT. And so when rates are going down. Essential Property stock price has been going up. So the idea is to have a portfolio of businesses that you know can continuously outperform as a group. Recognizing that some of the businesses are going to help the other businesses in environments where those businesses might be doing not as well as other businesses. Because we're trying to set up a long term platform that you know continues to grow regardless of economic cycles. By being you know very well diversified and in multiple businesses today, we're about twenty-five hundred employees at all the businesses about a hundred at Eldridge itself. We also operate twelve hundred Pizza Huts and 400 Wendys. So if you look at all the employees, including the ones you know within the store environment, we're closer to 40,000.

Ken White

Wow. Some of the guests we've had on the podcast some are subject matter experts, leaders, entrepreneurs some of them have said you know my philosophy is I want to know one thing I'm going to put my eggs in that basket and be that expert and I feel good that way. That's not you; you're you've a wide range. How do you balance that?

Todd Boehly

The key is to have good teams and you know one of the things if you look at you know in the 70s, for example, the Los Angeles Dodgers had you know Ron Cey at Third, and Russell at short, and Lopes, and Garvey and you know you knew that those guys were going to perform at a certain level night in and night out. My team a lot of which has been with me for decades now I know that they're going to perform day in and day out. So it allows me to then have the flexibility to go investigate new areas, and generally, when we're looking at something where we don't have any exposure, you know we recognize that we're the outside looking in. So one of the things we like to do is to make small investments to get to know something know and understand the environment to become more of an insider through our original investment. And then if we continue to like what we see, then we feel like okay, our odds are better now because we have all this new knowledge you know, and if we see opportunities, then we can move more aggressively to continue to grow. You know, with a little strategy that you know, we kind of think about as feeding the stars and because investing is really just about finding probabilities that have better risk-reward profiles than average. And if you can find a better probability, then you're certainly interested in putting more capital behind it because you know again it's all in my opinion very much an odds game because you can't predict what's going to happen day in and day out.

Ken White

Right.

Todd Boehly

And if you start assuming that you can, you know, then that's a challenge. The other thing that we're very active in is in secured lending across different asset classes.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Todd Boehly

Whether it's intellectual property or triple net real estate or equipment leases or secured loans that are broadly syndicated to corporates throughout the U.S., you know those are asset classes that we like because they're all contractual rate of return they become very predictable.

Ken White

Right.

Todd Boehly

So they help you kind of plan for the future.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Todd Boehly in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary's School of Business. If you're looking to raise your game and give your career a boost. The Center for Corporate Education hosts professional development programs that provide busy executives, emerging leaders, and teams with the tools needed to compete in today's business environment. The programs are taught by William & Mary's MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation with the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Eldridge Industries, Todd Boehly.

Ken White

You've mentioned baseball a couple times opening day. Here we are. This is one of the greatest weeks of the year, right. We've got the NCAA tournament going on. Baseball opens up. You're involved with the Dodgers. How'd you get involved with baseball why

Todd Boehly

So we had looked at various investment opportunities within sports, and you know when it came available, we became very interested in the idea that the Dodgers were something that were could be very valuable. And I think if you look at kind of the themes that historically you know we've been interested in as investors you know we know media very well. We know real estate very well. We understand you know what a team dynamic in a human capital business is and when you really break down what is a baseball team in light of what how the MLB works because one of the things that the Dodgers have is you own your national excuse me your local broadcasting. So each major league baseball team negotiates their own media deal. And of course, L.A. is the second-largest media market in the world and are in the US, and we thought that that would be a good opportunity because the media contract was coming up for renewal the year after we bought it. So we thought people were underpricing the media value that was embedded in the renewal of that contract. You know, at the same time, we have our own stadium, which is one of the larger in baseball and has more sell-outs now than probably any other team, and we have the highest home attendance and the highest road attendance. So you know by getting really good energy back in the team when we bought the team and then by having the media contract come up the next year we were well-positioned to set the team up and now what we've done is really build up our farm system and really what we do is we're trying to put together the 25 person team that has the best probability to win. And again, it's another portfolio. And if you look at it, you say okay I have somewhere between 12 and 13 pitchers on the roster I have 12 or 13 position players. You know I need to be able to handle lefties. I need to be able to handle righties I need to be able to handle this. I need to be able to handle that that ultimately comes down to is your portfolio deep enough to deliver on the various things that might get presented to you. So you know to us it's a it's another kind of portfolio business. You know obviously, we're also super passionate about it because which is why we wanted to get into it anyway.

Ken White

Sure.

Todd Boehly

But we also think kind of very systematically about what it is that you need to do in order to win over long periods of time.

Ken White

Yeah.

Todd Boehly

And you know a nice thing about the Dodgers is they're in a major market. So our odds of being able to be set up to win over long periods of time the market affords us better odds than average.

Ken White

One of the guests we had on recently was Thomas Tull. He leads Telco, and he much like you. He's part-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was in Legendary Entertainment so movies, and we talked a little bit about what's what are they. What are the similarities between dealing with athletes and artists and actors, and he felt there really were some? He said these are different types of people, and it puts you in a people business, which is very different.

Todd Boehly

Yeah.

Ken White

How do you see those because you've been in both?

Todd Boehly

Listen, I think that that's can be extended to finance, it can be extended into movie and film production, that can extended into anything that's a human capital industry where you have to motivate talented, educated people to get from point A to Point B you know and try to do it in the most efficient way possible and recognize that it's all just people getting along. So you have to be able to set a tone to how you want that kind of engagement to be. And for example one of the things that Dave Roberts has done very well is owned the clubhouse right, and he's gotten the team to believe that you know he's all in on them right and when he they believe he's all in on them they're going to give him everything they got.

Ken White

Right.

Todd Boehly

And that's no different than any human capital business with a manager who is trying to lead a team from point A to Point B in a environment where nothing certain.

Ken White

No doubt. What's the next best thing in baseball? Next big thing coming down the road?

Todd Boehly

Next big thing in baseball. There's obviously a lot of talk about pitch clocks and speeding up the game, and I think the number one thing that baseball is thinking about and should be thinking about is how do we continue to be the family sport and you know I think one of the things that we have is a really unique environment where you can take your family to a game, and it's relaxed, it's mellow, it's calm, it's also energetic, and there's massive spikes of energy when things go well, and there's horrible feelings of despair when things go wrong which starts to sound a lot like life right. So if you're in a position where you can start getting more and more families engaged because what we find is that the younger someone goes to a game, the more likely they are to be a fan. So we're spending time thinking about how do we continue to really engage with the community, engage with the children of the community. We've built tons of dream fields in L.A., so we have lots of this whole building of Little League fields and fields across L.A. through our during field program and our Dodger foundation. You also have gonna be the advent of a whole new era with sports betting. So you have an environment where you know three, three and a half hours at a baseball game sometimes can feel very long, and one of the things that we've done for children is there's a lot of play areas around so you can move out of the seats and engage them and have them have activities that don't just entail sitting there which is important but then for others for you know adults who are at the game the ability to really engage with you know in time betting on whether that's going gonna be a ball or a strike or a curveball or a fastball or who's going to hit the next home run or all of this stuff. The potential is unlimited.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Todd Boehly

In an environment like baseball, where you have very precise things that are measured that can be agreed on with great certainty, which I think is going to great make for even great engagement. So hopefully you know what we'll do is a really good job of engaging the family and the kids and the and the camaraderie of going to a baseball game at the same time engaging the hardcore fans and oh my gosh is Kershaw going to throw a ball, or I mean a ball or strike here and will be a curve or will it be a slider and I think that will lead to more and more engagement for the sport. So I would say those are the two things we see is you know the things we need to do in order to continue to keep the game fresh and young, and you know right now one of the things we're grappling with is the average age of our fan continues to age.

Ken White

Yeah.

Todd Boehly

So how do we continue to get, and I think that's through the family.

Ken White

Success passion in a number of areas for someone who wants to pursue a career and a life like that. What kind of advice do you have? How do you embrace a larger portfolio and succeed?

Todd Boehly

Well, again I guess I would say that the first thing you need in order to transition from one environment to another is to know that the team in the environment that you're transitioning from is strong and ready to lead and able to handle complicated environments and moving around too quickly I think is is a challenge from being able to become an expert in one area. I mean, I spent you know 15 years almost at Guggenheim doing kind of the same things generally day in and day out of course across a portfolio of businesses and building different teams within Guggenheim. And I think I've been able to now take that and apply it across different industries and you know always think about how to calculate your risk so you don't take event risk where it wipes you outright because I don't want to be able to say oh that one thing could happen and I'm toast right. That means I shouldn't do that one thing right. So continuously you know as we get into new industries, we're looking at okay let's make a 20 million dollar investment in order to understand the dynamic or let's make a loan to this industry not in an equity investment because a loan comes with less risk generally.

Ken White

Right.

Todd Boehly

And by the way, if you don't like what you're in, it's easy to get paid off on a loan to unwind Partnerships becomes complicated. So one of our businesses early on was big lending business. And that gave us a really good front-row seat into lots of different industries. So by lending across industry, you know because the lender proposition is you know when it goes really well you get your money back when it doesn't go so well you still get your money back right. So if you're thinking about the trades, you're making one has cushion in it. And the other you're kind of chins more on the line. So you certainly want to have more knowledge when your chins on the line than when there's equity cushion to ensure you get your capital back.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Todd Boehly chairman and CEO of Eldridge Industries, and that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. The Center for Corporate Education can help you, and your organization get to the next level with business and leadership development programs taught by the William & Mary MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. If you're interested in learning more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by email at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest this week, Todd Boehly, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Till next time have a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Bradford Downs
Bradford DownsEpisode 118: August 1, 2019
The Conqueror with film poster

Bradford Downs

Episode 118: August 1, 2019

The Conqueror

"The Conqueror." It's an inspirational documentary film about Jerome Conquest of Philadelphia. The death of his friend at the age of 17 inspired Conquest to stop fighting in the streets and instead fight in the boxing ring. The documentary follows Conquest between his day job as a maintenance worker and his evenings as a boxer. Bradford Downs is the producer of the award-winning documentary, but he's not like most producers. While production was taking place, he was pursuing his MBA full-time at William & Mary. He graduated in May. Downs joins us on the podcast today to talk about "The Conqueror," documentary filmmaking, and the commonalities between business and telling great stories.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How Bradford became a documentary filmmaker
  • What does one need to learn to become a documentary filmmaker
  • Why customer service helped Bradford become a filmmaker
  • What is the mission of Montague Cervantes films
  • How much of making films is learning on the job
  • Why Bradford made a film about Jerome Conquest
  • Where does the funding come from for a documentary
  • How did Bradford fund his film
  • What does the role of the audience play in film
  • How does one make a living as a documentary filmmaker
  • What's the role of the film festival in the documentary world
Transcript

Bradford Downs: The Conqueror TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host Ken White. Thanks for listening. The Conqueror, it's an inspirational documentary film about Jerome Conquest of Philadelphia. The death of his friend at the age of 17 inspired Conquest to stop fighting in the streets and instead fight in the boxing ring. The documentary follows Conquest between his day job as a maintenance worker and his evenings as a boxer. Bradford Downs is the producer of the award-winning documentary, but he is not like most producers. While production was taking place, he was pursuing his MBA full time at William & Mary. He graduated in May. Downs joins us on the podcast today to talk about The Conqueror, documentary filmmaking, and the commonalities between business and telling great stories. Here's our conversation with Bradford Downs, the producer of The Conqueror.

Ken White

Well, Bradford, this is a first. We've recorded over one hundred and twenty podcasts, and we've never had one of our own students on. So welcome. This is great, thank you.

Bradford Downs

Well, thank you, Dean White. This is truly an honor to be on your platform part of these tribe podcasts and to be the lucky 121st.

Ken White

There it is. Yeah, but there's a reason right there. There is a reason you've just done phenomenal work. It's been so exciting to watch the documentary and see you take it around the country. You know I'm not sure there's a usual path to becoming a documentary filmmaker. But how did you, how'd you get here? What did you do?

Bradford Downs

Yeah yeah, well, it's certainly is far from usual, but it's been a tremendously exciting and rewarding experience. And that is right. I had no experience at all. You know not only filmmaking but particularly documentary filmmaking funny enough as William & Mary undergrad here I studied environmental science and postgrad. I was working as a tour guide down on the Outer Banks, and you know I saw myself as a storyteller. But you know I was essentially working in customer service. However, while I was down there I befriended this incredible seasoned filmmaker who became a dear friend of mine and colleague Tim Blackwood, and in fact, I actually hired him as a seasonal tour guide, and after each season he would go off and make his documentary films, and you know he would screen them at Cannes. He'd be in France and all these premieres and always come back for a season of tours, and I always thought you know wow that's really cool.

Ken White

Yeah.

Bradford Downs

So he came to me with kind of his next project idea. He was starting to shape up and was throwing these ideas and pitches at me, and it was actually much more than his next project. He was committed to come on this mission and venture and to produce these films through it. He'd actually started a company called Montague Cervantes and kind of the founding grounding mission of that was to find heroes and stories of people really on the margins. People you know real-life heroes, real-life stories of redemption that otherwise you know really wouldn't be told. And that was that kind of tremendous vision that he had there. And I was sold. So I joined forces with him and said you know what, however, this next documentary film will shape up I'm on board with you.

Ken White

So what attracted you to that the idea you can tell stories that weren't told the type of people the industry what got you excited.

Bradford Downs

Oh well initially, you know it was you know wow that's really cool when to get into the entertainment industry. But it all came down to that mission to finding those real heroes out there. Those kind of raw redemptive elements. And you know I've always you know always had kind of a sense of exploration. I said, so let's go out there, and you know, let's find them and make it happen.

Ken White

What's interesting you know in your MBA program you learn about businesses, and you better have a mission and a vision. It's all about that. And that's exactly what happened. You know, in this industry for you then.

Bradford Downs

A 100 percent

Ken White

Yeah.

Bradford Downs

That was there was the calling card.

Ken White

How did you learn? How did this is there's a lot to learn.

Bradford Downs

Of course. Yeah well, it's a good thing I'm a fast learner. You're right. I had no experience prior, but like I said, you know I was committed to joining, you know my friend and now colleague to this mission and this venture to tell these stories. So I was given that call I was given that opportunity. So you know I'm a very hands-on person instead of you know wanting to get transition into the industry and through documentary filmmaking instead of going to film school I said let's just go do it. You know fast learner hands-on. And what I did have you know the entertainment industry in general and, more specifically, physically making a documentary film. It's a human being business. You know you're dealing with creatives, you're dealing with storytellers, you dealing with these stories in these subjects. It's all about the people and coming in from tour guiding and that customer experience I had that in balance. You know dealing and working and loving to work with people. So that was my number one asset.

Ken White

And in terms of the technical pieces and how to do it all, you just did it as you went along.

Bradford Downs

You just do it on the fly. Yeah, you just learn on the job.

Ken White

How did you decide to make the film about Jerome? Where did he come from, and how did you how do you get connected?

Bradford Downs

Oh, it was I mean the day I met Jerome Conquest. It truly changed my life forever. You know we had this grounding mission you know with Montague Cervantes to go out and find these stories, and we found ourselves in an electric boxing gym in Philadelphia actually the iconic Joe Hand boxing gym, and there's these boxers around their sweating, their training. It's all too intimidating and then on his daily routine and grind Jerome Conquest walks in, and he allowed us to follow him around and learn about what made him tick. And his story and his community and friends and where he came from and we knew once with that window there and learning all of that that that struck the chord you know that aligned with that mission to go out there and find these kind of heroes. And we knew we had to do, and we're committed to whatever it would take to shine a light on Jerome Conquest. So literally the next day, we have our cinematographer flying in from L.A. and our sound designer flying in from Denmark, and it was kind of off to the races.

Ken White

Very difficult to convince him to partner with him. How did that go?

Bradford Downs

Initially, it was you may call it fate, but it was pretty organic. Initially, you know we approached him with kind of that mission that humility with what we were about to find those heroes. And he is a real-life hero. He said if you're willing, you know to come into my world and show my world; then I'm absolutely on board. Whatever it would take. And throughout the whole process and still, even to this day, he always has this quote with us because you guys are stuck with me for life now, I guess.

Ken White

Yeah. You know I worked in local television way back when. And when you do that, I would see everything through a viewfinder. It was all if this isn't video-friendly. I don't want to do it. It was sort of the idea, and I. Are you the same when you walked into that gym? Were you saying ah this is this looks good? You know this is gonna be visually exciting.

Bradford Downs

Oh absolutely. Knowing the electricity in the gym but just just just visually aesthetically the gym and the greater Philly area. And Jerome and his neighborhood is just it's just all so raw. You know we're walking around with our cinematographers from Los Angeles, and he's just lit up, you know he's so excited to be on this project and getting this kind of content telling this kind of story saying you know you can't production design this at all.

Ken White

Right.

Bradford Downs

This is all so amazing and captivating.

Ken White

And then the audio I mean the sound of a gym a boxing there's gonna be great audio going on at the same time.

Bradford Downs

Oh, bells and whistles punches and bags and sweat. It's I mean that that production values there even before you turn the camera on.

Ken White

Yeah. How exciting. So how about let's talk about funding. I mean we I think almost everybody knows somebody who knows a documentarian, but they don't understand the business. How does that happen? Where does the funding come from?

Bradford Downs

Of course. Yeah. I mean there's all kinds of exciting ways to finance a documentary you know you can partner with a brand, you can partner with a you know a Foundation a nonprofit all of which we look forward to approaching in the future, or you do kind of the entrepreneur route like we did. Timothy and then when I jumped on board helping him with it set up this venture Montague Cervantes we have this vehicle with that mission. You know let's run it all through a company go out there produce a film you know have it, own it, get it to film festivals.

Ken White

We'll continue our conversation with Bradford Downs of Montague Cervantes in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary's School of Business. In order to retain top employees, the best companies and organizations invest in their people by offering high-quality professional development, and some of those top companies and organizations turned to William & Mary and our Center for Corporate Education for their needs. The Center for Corporate Education offers professional development programs for all levels of employees, from executives to managers to emerging leaders to new hires. The programs are taught by William & Mary's MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation with Bradford Downs producer of the documentary film The Conqueror.

Ken White

How do you where does the role of audience play? So you see Jerome and you and you've got all the visuals, and the audio say this looks good. When do you think who's gonna like this? Who's gonna watch this? Where does that come into play?

Bradford Downs

Well, well, of course, you know it's one thing we always say, and I've learned throughout the process. It's one thing to just great make a great film find that great character and story, but if you don't know how to market it at all and you have no one to market it to, then it's just it's going to go on untold and unseen. We felt throughout the process, which is why we initially joined forces with Jerome to tell his story that everything visually aside Philadelphia, the sport of boxing it cut to that core of being Jerome of that relatable, real-life character, and hero. We saw that in that just intrinsically, it transcended everything surrounding him. You know the inner city of Philadelphia, the boxing, and we knew that there was kind of that inherent value thereof him as a character and a hero that we truly believe in and is and as proved to be now you know can relate to anybody.

Ken White

We see with Netflix and Hulu there's so many places and TV is just so many outlets and distribution channels. Television is exploding. Documentaries is that can you make a living in the documentary space?

Bradford Downs

Oh sure. And we feel and have seen you know it's getting bigger and more exciting than ever. You know you see with these streaming services all that Netflix is putting in into their original documentary series, and they're all absolutely amazing series and films and with us being in these film festivals now with The Conqueror with the plethora of other documentary films that we've seen and are very high caliber and have very great stories. We see that there is a very big and growing demand for this kind of content. You know these real-life stories about real-life people in real-life situations you know all told as a documentary in the most captivating compelling ways possible. So we see it as being you know in a very exciting edge of you more and more potential out there for these documentary these kind of films.

Ken White

People like to learn about other people, don't they?

Bradford Downs

Exactly. Yeah.

Ken White

Whatever it's human nature, I guess. Yeah. What do you like about filmmaking?

Bradford Downs

Well, growing up, you know you always love movies and films. I mean, I mean everybody does. But you know giving that opportunity I had that call you know to jump in and join forces you know with Timothy and his adventure in this mission we're about, and you know fortunate enough to find Jerome and tell the story but contextualizing all of it. I love filmmaking. It's the vehicle and opportunity and kind of the overall ability to be able to connect with and inspire people. I mean, you can awaken audience members and transcend them into that world and that way of life, and to those characters and heroes that you know, they otherwise would never have thought of or even knew existed out there. You know I did this through tour guiding, and you know now with my dear friend Tim a partner through the mission and work of this venture and through our flagship project, The Conqueror.

Ken White

Now you're a musician, and in fact, some of your music is in the movie. How did that how did that happen? What was the what's the story behind that?

Bradford Downs

Yes, I most certainly am. I mean right up there now with documentary filmmaking I love playing the guitar and making music probably more than anything in the world. And scoring an original song for the film had to have been one of the coolest experience I've ever had and plan to have much more of. I mean, when it was all, it was another exciting part of this whole kind of creative process working on the film. I mean, when we couldn't afford the licensing for any more music, Tim and I both looked at each and said, hey, why don't I come up with something. So I sat down and wrote a piece went in the recording studio with Tim and a music producer who actually happens to be his brother, and we went to work, and now I'm just honored and sort of speechless to be on the film soundtrack with famous Spanish composer Jordi Cervello and one of my all-time favorite bands Explosions in the Sky.

Ken White

That's that's great. You're doing a lot of film festivals, and every time I bump into, it seems like you're going somewhere else. What's the role of the film festival in the documentary world? Why are they important?

Bradford Downs

Oh absolutely, and yes, I'm always on the go leaving Miller here. It's an amazing opportunity to showcase that work. I mean to people to cities and places that otherwise would probably never see it. We had our world premiere this last summer in Indianapolis and the people in the audience in the theater they would otherwise never be exposed these kind of characters and these kind of stories, and it's also an immense opportunity to meet all these other filmmakers from all over the world. We're in Indianapolis

Ken White

Yeah.

Bradford Downs

And there's filmmakers from in from Ireland from England and Australia and learn about what they're doing as storytellers as filmmakers you know what is their mission and what are they out there creating so what is out there in the marketplace for films and what is relevant now you'll learn all of this through the filmmaking process. And for Jerome and for him and his community, you know to be able to come from the inner city of Philadelphia and go to these international film festivals you know all over the world we're coming up. This May well we're lined up for three International Filmfests in England. So to get The Conqueror over to London, you know that's an opportunity. He wouldn't; you wouldn't otherwise be afforded.

Ken White

Absolutely. It sounds like you've learned so much. It's probably an unfair question, but what have you learned through this exciting experience?

Bradford Downs

Oh, it's you know again been one of the most definitely most exciting rewarding you know periods of my life and I'm more excited about you know the future you know with his success of The Conqueror and the other films that we're working on, and we'll continue to pursue with the projects we have in our pipeline. You know practically I learned so much about filmmaking you know the technicality of it what it takes you know me as a producer of this project being on the ground in Philly running around coordinating get getting everything just kind of lined up and cleared all the way through the post-production part of it you know to scoring a film what does it take a license these songs and everything to the film festival part of it that's a whole other kind of stage of the creative process and getting there and doing your good PR and your marketing and bringing Jerome to these stories and about the venture as well. You know this is all done through Montague Cervantes, this story and the other ones we're working on. You know that kind of entrepreneurial component which I've you know been able to leverage in and transition into so much I've learned in this MBA program at William & Mary and then of course you know meeting Jerome the day I met him that that changed my life and he's from an area I would have never seen otherwise you know met people otherwise and just to have and be a part of that that powerful story is it's just it continues to leave me speechless.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Bradford Downs producer of The Conqueror. And that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. The Center for Corporate Education can help you, and your organization get to the next level with business and leadership development programs taught by the William & Mary MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek. If you're interested in learning more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest Bradford Downs and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Till next time have a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Ann Benjamin
Ann BenjaminEpisode 117: July 15, 2019
Passion, Advocacy and Initiative with guy jumping up

Ann Benjamin

Episode 117: July 15, 2019

Passion, Advocacy and Initiative

As members of the Class of 2019 from colleges and universities across the world make the transition from student to professional, many of them have questions about job, career and success. Ann Benjamin has some answers. Benjamin is a private investor and philanthropist. She spent 34 years in the investment management business. She was a keynote speaker at the 2019 Women's Stock Pitch and Leadership Summit - an event that brings some of the world's best undergraduate students to William & Mary for a weekend. After speaking to the attendees, she sat down with us and shared her three-step formula for success: Passion, advocacy, and initiative.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How students of today compare with students from 30 years ago
  • How students today are better prepared to enter the professional world
  • Why passion is necessary for success
  • What types of passion exist within successful professionals
  • What to do if you haven't yet found your passion
  • How important advocacy is for a career
  • What does it mean to advocate for oneself
  • How does a young professional find advocates in the workplace
  • What is important when taking initiative
  • What should a manager do to help an employee take initiative
Transcript

Ann Benjamin: Passion, Advocacy and Initiative TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host Ken White. Thanks for listening. As members of the Class of 2019 from colleges and universities across the world make the transition from student to professional. Many of them have questions about job, career, and success, and Benjamin has some answers. Benjamin is a private investor and philanthropist. She spent 34 years in the investment management business. She was a keynote speaker at the 2019 Women's Stock Pitch and Leadership Summit, an event that brings some of the world's best undergraduate students to William & Mary for a weekend. After speaking to the attendees, she sat down with us and shared her three-step formula for success passion, advocacy, and initiative. Here's our conversation with Ann Benjamin.

Ken White

Well, Ann, thank you for taking the time. Welcome back to William & Mary.

Ann Benjamin

Thank you, Ken. It's a pleasure to be here.

Ken White

And you've been here a couple times. You were here for the McLaughlin Forum and now today for the women's event, and you just spoke. We just took you right from the stage here into our studio. How was the experience of talking to that roomful of unbelievably high potential young people?

Ann Benjamin

It was absolutely wonderful. Just the whole day has been remarkable. The women's presentations, preparation, the ideas I am just absolutely amazed, and as I said in my speech that if I would have had this pool of talent to recruit from, I would have been just on heaven. It would have made my life so much easier. It was so difficult to recruit women from day one and through my entire career, and to have this right in front of me and right in front of a lot of people that are recruiting is just absolutely remarkable.

Ken White

When you look at this group, and this is a high potential group that we just had, these are teams from the best universities in the world and so forth. But how would you compare that group to the young women you hung around within school and the people you knew back then when you were starting your career.

Ann Benjamin

Oh, it is night and day. There's no question about it. I talked to many of the professionals from William & Mary. I don't think we could have gotten up there and to do that. We didn't have the presentation skills, the coaching that these women have had, and it's just absolutely amazing what they could do. And so it's very, very unlike what went on back in the early 80s.

Ken White

Yeah.

Ann Benjamin

When we were women were far and few between. But we did not have that type of training.

Ken White

Right.

Ann Benjamin

Or their ability to analyze financial statements is also amazing to me because, again in recruiting, individuals, particularly women throughout my career, very few people understand modeling particularly an undergrad. So to see this and to see the quality, just amazing.

Ken White

That's great.

Ann Benjamin

Yeah.

Ken White

And you were the lunchtime keynote, and you shared your comments and you specifically in talking about success and evolving. You talked about passion, advocacy, and initiative, and I thought let's talk about that. So when you're talking about passion, what are you sharing?

Ann Benjamin

So when you talk about passion, at least for me, passion it's necessary for success. And a person with passion it gives you the energy and the motivation, and the burning desire to succeed. And that's what I attribute my success to because if I didn't have that passion, I wouldn't have been able to stay with it for so long. Through good times and bad and especially during the bad times. You need to be passionate about what you're doing. Otherwise, you'll never get through those tough times.

Ken White

So it's a passion about the job. Passion about the organization or passion about just professionalism as an umbrella?

Ann Benjamin

For me, it was passion about investing.

Ken White

Got it.

Ann Benjamin

And about being successful in investing. And that really gave me the desire to build a business, put in the long hours necessary. And so and it's also a passion about your clients because your clients will pick up on it, and if you're not passionate, they're gonna think you're not interested in what you're doing, or you're not going to be able to deliver the best returns possible. So when you have passion, not only do your clients see that, but your employees see it as well. And when your employees see it, you bring the same level of enthusiasm to your organization. So it's really somewhat of a comprehensive model in the sense that your passionate about what you do, how you do it your clients, and then that filters down to your organization.

Ken White

It reminds me, in the higher ed space, when they when students are asked what makes a really great classroom teacher or professor, it's obviously knowledge about the field. And second is we want them to just love it. We want to see the passion because then the students feel it. And so it's serious it's not something that is that has to be taken lightly. And in terms of a goal, it is a question I've asked a lot of our guests on the podcast is how is important. How important is passion to your success? And I'm often surprised by people who say yeah I don't the business doesn't matter that much to me. It's just getting it done right that drives them. But in your case, investing was a thing that really got you going.

Ann Benjamin

It was absolutely, and I learned my passion for investing early on in life from being around my brothers. They started an LBO firm back in the early 80s, and they were passionate about what they were doing, and it was a new thing at the time believe it or not. But it was amazing to see what how you could buy a company and transform it. And that to me was just so exciting. And then, from there, I went on to work in public markets, and it was the learning every single day, every minute of the day. You're learning it's the people. It's the thrill of having that investment and making it and see it work out.

Ken White

Some people don't have not found their passion. Right, and which is I think for someone like you or me would be horrible because I love what I do. You love what you've done. Any advice for someone that may be earlier in their career or mid-career that when they do wake up, they're not that fired up about what they have to do every day?

Ann Benjamin

I think if you're not fired up about what you do, just step back and take a look. And if you had the passion initially and all of a sudden, you feel you don't have the passion reassess. Okay, if you still love the business, but your passion has sort of diminished, and you reassess sometimes your passion can get reignited. But if you feel that you don't love what you're doing anymore. Then it is definitely time to make some changes in your personal life and in your career.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Ann Benjamin in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary's School of Business. In order to retain top employees, the best companies and organizations invest in their people by offering high-quality professional development programs, and some of those top companies and organizations turn to William & Mary and our Center for Corporate Education for their needs. The Center for Corporate Education offers professional development programs for all levels of employees, from executives to managers to emerging leaders to new hires. The programs are taught by William & Mary's MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation with Ann Benjamin.

Ken White

So passion number one, your second point was advocacy. Can you share us share more on that?

Ann Benjamin

Yes, advocacy it's important to not only advocate for yourself throughout your career, but initially, you need to find people that will advocate for you. So as a young person starting out, you don't really have a very loud voice.

Ken White

Right.

Ann Benjamin

In an organization, so seek senior people or mentors who will advocate for you, who will speak that to your ability to take on new responsibilities, or to possibly take a new job. So that's really critical when you're seeking advocates initially, and then as you go on, you have to advocate for yourself. Nobody else can do that but you. And when you advocate for yourself, it can be as simple as asking questions, or speaking up when somebody asks you, or speaking up and giving an opinion when you see an opportunity. But in order to do that you need to be well-prepared and ask very well thought out questions.

Ken White

Tough for an introvert, especially going to find someone to advocate for you. How does a young professional do that?

Ann Benjamin

You need to step out of your comfort zone, which is hard for young professionals, and it's hard for all professionals. So to step out of your comfort zone and just simply ask someone if they would be your mentor or ask for advice, don't wait until your performance review. But by simply asking people, you'll find out how willing people are to help you along in your career. As an introvert, I can speak from experience. It is not easy, but if you do it, you'll go a long way to achieving your success.

Ken White

What was your experience like when you sought to find that advocate for you? How did you do that, and how did that relationship go?

Ann Benjamin

Well, when I sought an advocate, it was difficult because there were so few women.

Ken White

Right.

Ann Benjamin

So it had to be a male

Ken White

Yeah.

Ann Benjamin

At that time. And so what I did was I realized that my presentation skills were not up to par, and I was lacking confidence. And when you're in a male-dominated world that makes it very difficult.

Ken White

Yeah.

Ann Benjamin

So I asked my company for additional training so I could get better at my presentation skills and I would be able to make the next step to presenting companies to our board. So what would happen is I would write the 15-page report to be a great idea and handed off to one of my bosses, and they would make the presentation. Well, I knew that I'm not going to get much further in life unless I learn how to do that. So I would practice my presentation skills generally at home, at night, in front of the mirror until I could build my confidence and be able to make those presentations.

Ken White

Yeah, but it definitely is getting out of the comfort zone whether you're asking someone to advocate for you or you're going to try to do that for yourself.

Ann Benjamin

Absolutely.

Ken White

And knowing students some of them that's such so tough to cross that line and to do that.

Ann Benjamin

It is it's very painful in the short term, but in the long term, it will go a long way to helping you achieve what you want.

Ken White

Your third point was initiative. Can you share that with us?

Ann Benjamin

When you take initiative just like I did when I went to my company and asked for additional training. It's important that you take initiative not only for self-improvement and to develop your skills. Ask yourself where do you want to be in five years, in one year, and five years and what skills do you need to get there. And then take the initiative to work with your boss or your mentor to develop a plan to be able to get your skills up to a level where you they need to be. And so you can achieve what you want in one year or five years.

Ken White

What we're hearing a lot today is that the managers are working so hard they're not always able to spend the time necessary with the people who report to them. So that the employee does take the initiative does try to get more out of the manager, the managers just swamped. And we're seeing this a lot, managers are frustrated. How do I do this? They're asking how do I take care of this whole team. Any advice for managers who seem to have I've got all of these people I just don't seem to have the time for the feeding and caring of my team, so to speak.

Ann Benjamin

Sure, that makes it very difficult, especially in this day and age with so many new sources and so much technology and finding time for your team is very difficult but is very, very important. And if you don't have the time, perhaps you can go to your H.R. department and ask them. Do they have other counselors that they can maybe allocate to you to work with your team? Because building your team, if you can't build your team, ultimately, you're not going to make much progress for yourself or ask your company to seek outside help for developing an individual skills. Just so, they can be an active actively participate in the building the team.

Ken White

Passion you said when you have it, others see it, and it rubs off on clients on teammates and on the bottom line. Quite frankly, does initiative have that same ripple effect?

Ann Benjamin

It does. You really need to take the initiative for yourself. And again, all three of these concepts are intertwined. Initiative, take the initiative, to plan your career because no one else is going to do that but you. And if you take some time and again figure out what it is you want to do and what skills you need to get there, then you will have an easier time of achieving what you want to achieve. I always tell individuals to be think of themselves as a CEO of a company, but the company is you. So what do you have to do to what's your marketing strategy? What's your what product are you offering? Are you a marketing person? Are you an investment person? And how do you present those skills to an employer or your boss to be able to continue your career path?

Ken White

If you had one sort of sentence or a summary that you shared with the group today or you're sharing with young professionals in terms of passion, advocacy, or initiative, or anything. In general, what is it you like to share with people who are about to either early in their career or who are you know just kind of getting started?

Ann Benjamin

I think out one of the things you need to remember is you have to have passion for what you're doing. Seek advocates and advocate for yourself and take the initiative for self-improvement and plan your career. Then that way, without a doubt, you'll be successful in your endeavors.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Ann Benjamin, and that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. The Center for Corporate Education can help you, and your organization get to the next level. With business and leadership development programs taught by the William & Mary MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek. If you're interested in learning more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcasts. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest Ann Benjamin and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Till next time have a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Mark Kurtz
Mark KurtzEpisode 116: June 25, 2019
The Business of Local TV News with newsroom

Mark Kurtz

Episode 116: June 25, 2019

The Business of Local TV News

How do you get your daily news? We have more options today than ever before: Apps, social media, podcasts, websites, feeds, newsletters and more. As new media continues to take over the news landscape, some traditional media - like magazines and newspapers are struggling. According to a Knight Foundation report released in April, one medium around for more than 60 years is the go-to news source for Americans: Local television news. Mark Kurtz is News Director at WAVY-TV in Norfolk, Virginia, a top 50 market. He joins us on the podcast today to talk about local TV news, how it's changing, and why people continue to choose it as their source for news.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How local TV news is doing in the age of new media
  • What sets local TV news apart from other news sources
  • How has local TV news embraced the internet
  • How has the relationship changed between viewers and newscasters
  • What is local TV news doing for mobile devices
  • How does local news stay local
  • What is the job of a news director
  • How has an average reporter's day changed in the last 20 years
  • How important is weather forecasting for a local news channel
  • How has sports coverage evolved
  • Where is local tv news headed in the future
Transcript

Mark Kurtz: The Business of Local TV News TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can help make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host Ken White. Thanks for listening. How do you get your Daily News? We have more options today than ever before apps, social media, podcasts, websites, feeds, newsletters, and more. As new media continue to take over the news landscape, some traditional media like magazines and newspapers are struggling. According to a Knight Foundation report released in April. One medium around for more than 60 years is the go-to news source for Americans' local television news. Mark Kurtz is News Director at WAVY TV in Norfolk, Virginia, a top 50 market. He joins us on the podcast today to talk about local TV news, how it's changing, and why people continue to choose it as their source for news. Here's our conversation with Mark Kurtz of WAVY TV.

Ken White

Mark, thanks very much for joining us. It's a real pleasure to have you here. Thanks for sharing your time with us.

Mark Kurtz

Honor to be here. Thank you for having me.

Ken White

You know, back in the day, you know when things started going online, and the Internet started kicking up. You know the word was boy local newspapers might not make it local TV news might not make it, but local TV news is doing just fine.

Mark Kurtz

Local TV news is doing really well.

Ken White

Yeah. Why? How did it happen?

Mark Kurtz

I think one of the things I think that we've embraced the Internet that's a huge part of our business. It's a growing part of the business, and we haven't shied away from it. I think that you know one of the things that local TV has, we have a connection to the market that other people don't have. You know the people on television, you know the personalities there's a face. A lot of people can name their favorite weatherman their favorite sportscaster. People will know our chief meteorologist who's been there since 1981, and they probably can't name a newspaper reporter.

Ken White

Right.

Mark Kurtz

So there's a connection to television that doesn't quite exist with newspaper. And I think that our content it plays better in all these different devices we are in the video business we're in the storytelling business whether it's on your phone or your TV at the house however you're consuming it. What we do does translate pretty well.

Ken White

Yeah.

Mark Kurtz

I think that's one reason why you're seeing TV stations continue to be profitable, and TV stations continue to chart a future is because it really is about telling stories. It's about content, and what we do really does play well on all these devices that people are carrying and using these days.

Ken White

Yeah. So when you say embracing the Internet obviously, people know that you have many newscasts over the air, so to speak. Where? When you're embracing the Internet, what does that mean? What are you doing?

Mark Kurtz

So you know it used to be you produce for the six o'clock news.

Ken White

Right.

Mark Kurtz

There was a deadline for the six o'clock. We still have that. We do a lot many more hours of news than we did before that we call it the linear world. You're going to sit down and watch at 4 o'clock and watch for 30 minutes or whatever, but everybody in our newsroom is trained and is has been gone through the training to make sure they're producing content basically all day long. Yes, our reporters have to be ready for the six o'clock news the 11 o'clock news, but they are turning content working with web producers all day long. That may be a picture, maybe information, and maybe an interview may be a soundbite. So the Website's being updated all day long in this process. And so their world has changed so much where it used to be one deadline two deadlines it's kind of constant deadline. We don't hold stuff anymore. We do special investigations and things that may run at a certain time but used to be held everything back. You know that press release came in, don't you know, don't post that right. Everything that can go out does go out almost immediately, and that's built on throughout the day.

Ken White

So, as a result, you have better insight into your viewers into who they are what they like.

Mark Kurtz

Oh, absolutely because I'm going to tell you immediately. You know it used to be you got letters now with social media it's all day long you hear you hear what they like or they don't like they're gonna tell you about it real quick and say you know exactly what they like. Also, at the Internet, the metrics are just amazing. We can see what people are consuming. We can see what they're clicking on. We know you know down to the number of people looking at it. But then the platforms are different. Television is different than the Internet and things that may bubble up on the Internet. It's a function of people clicking on their phones or looking through social media may not be the same thing that leads a newscast at night. And so you have to kind of look at that and know when to when that's information you want to use or you know take that into consideration because there may be a story that's just kind of a wild Internet you know good internet story maybe its not the most important thing in the world you're not going to lead the news with it you're not gonna lead the six o'clock news with it, but it may be just blowing up on the website.

Ken White

Yeah.

Mark Kurtz

And so you just take that into consideration and kind of have to know the audience watching each platform and know the strengths of each platform, whether it's the television or the phone or whatever it is.

Ken White

Now being in a top 50 market. You've got the technology you've got things you need. Where are you with mobile? What's local television news doing in terms of the phone?

Mark Kurtz

You know wavy.com is an app, mobile, web. Almost all Web sites now are built for the mobile phone anyway.

Ken White

Right.

Mark Kurtz

Because almost the vast majority of people are watching us and accessing us through the phone, not sitting at a computer like they used to. But yet we have a couple of apps that we have that you download those apps, and you get all the info you can get everything we put on online every newscast is streamed there. That's a huge part of our business. And it really is where people are you want to meet them where you are in that mobile app when people download that you talk about a superuser you talk about a brand loyalist that's the one that has made the made the decision I'm going to download your product. I want it on my phone. I trust you, and a lot of times, you know they'll opt-in for push alerts you get those alerts on your phone.

Ken White

Yeah.

Mark Kurtz

And we can use that as a way to one tell the important information but also tell them maybe what we're doing stories they should be aware of weather that may be happening. We can tell them hey watch the news tonight. We have a really cool story that you'll see it on at 6:00 and try to actually push them to the TV side. Those are the people that really are with you. Those are your true brand loyalists because they have opted in to get your content. They're not passively consuming it. They have gone and downloaded that that app onto their phone. And so we try to always make sure we take that seriously and don't you know don't inundate them with stuff that they might not want to know.

Ken White

Sure.

Mark Kurtz

But we do know we they trusted us to be a part of their day. Really.

Ken White

This is available everywhere because it is the internet, and it isn't on social media and so forth. But you're still very local.

Mark Kurtz

Yes.

Ken White

How do you, how do you? What. What is your philosophy in terms of as the news director, and as then as the news organization at WAVY, what your philosophy and your goals for local coverage?

Mark Kurtz

So you can put stories out there that will get huge numbers, and then you look at where they're consumed, and they kind of went out in the world and they went viral, and it's people all over the country, and those are not really the folks that are going to watch the local newscasts. They're not the community they're not going to buy from the advertisers that are on our station that are not going to buy a local car. They're not going to go to a local restaurant. And so we really focus very highly on the local consumer of news the local stories our entire company's philosophy is just local.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Mark Kurtz

Local content and that sounds simple, but it's not. You can get really pulled into stories that are very catchy. They're big nationally, but they may not have a lot of impact here. Right.

Ken White

Sure.

Mark Kurtz

So. So everything we do is is enterprise journalism local stories whether they're hard you know investigate investigative stories that really hard news or even lighter stories that have you know people want to see here locally in their communities. And that's really the filter we go through. Is it local? You know people pitch stories, or you know you'll get press releases from things and it's kind of a national or maybe a east coast type thing and is it really a story that affects someone in Williamsburg or in Norfolk or Virginia Beach and really doesn't it's easy. It's out there, but we really focus local content, local people, local stories, and I think that's one of the things that sets us apart. It's one of the things that sets local TV apart in general and one thing that sets us apart as a news organization in the market.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Mark Kurtz of WAVY TV in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary's School of Business. In order to retain top employees, the best companies and organizations invest in their people by offering high-quality professional development, and some of those companies and organizations turn to William & Mary and our Center for Corporate education for their needs. The Center for Corporate Education offers professional development programs for all levels of employees, from executives to managers to emerging leaders to new hires. The programs are taught by William & Mary's MBA faculty. The faculty rank number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation with Mark Kurtz News Director of Norfolk's WAVY TV.

Ken White

You started out your reporter, you're an anchor, and you've been news director for a while. What does that job entail?

Mark Kurtz

So as news director, I mean, I have basically ultimate editorial control. You know what we're do what we do day in and day out. What leads a newscast long term projects. So anyone in the newsroom falls under me.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Mark Kurtz

And it's certainly a group process is it's you know it's a lot of discussion a lot of debate but ultimately someone has to be the person that says this is what we're doing today. And that falls under me. You know hire the reporters I hire the producers, and you know two parts of the job there's the day to day there's what's happening right now. And then there's looking down the road there's going to be an election there's going to be something in the water festival in Virginia Beach is going to be two weeks out. What do we need to do to be prepared for that? And I've got managers that helped me do that it's certainly not a one man operation. I've got some very talented people on the technology side the content side the digital side. We all come together and say, okay, we want to cover this event. We want to cover a snowstorm or whatever it's going to be or maybe stories we want to do we want to go after a certain topic of stories the opioid crisis something like that we say how do we want to cover this and what can we do online versus television. So my job really is to bring those folks together and make sure we're covering things appropriately. We're covering it with the right you know the right amount of you know being aggressive about stories we should be aggressive about knowing when to back off, and we should back off of things. You know the shooting in Virginia Beach was a great example of that. You want to be very aggressive in getting information out and finding out what happened, but you have to do that with compassion and tact.

Ken White

Right.

Mark Kurtz

And just make you know you need someone that can step back from it and not be you know in every little detail kind of step back look what we're doing as a whole.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Mark Kurtz

What are we doing on all of the platforms we control. And you know and that's one of the reasons I love the job is because when I was a reporter I worked on one story and every day was different. But I really worked on one or two stories.

Ken White

Right.

Mark Kurtz

I anchored a newscast. I get to see kind of all that I can see the content. I get to see the way it's produced. I get to work with the people that actually put it on the air, the production folks the people that promote it. People that sell it. That's one of the reasons I love that job is it does cross over all those different departments.

Ken White

Yeah, you mentioned a reporter back in the day one or two stories day. What's your typical reporter doing now what's what is our day like?

Mark Kurtz

If you're a general assignment.

Ken White

Right.

Mark Kurtz

A dayside reporter It's an all-day process, and it really depends on the story, but it there's the newsgathering portion of it, which is all day really, but the internet the social media has changed their day so much. And knowing what to put on social media versus what you can't put on social media as far as I may have this confirmed, but I don't know these details yet. So walking through that, but the average reporter their day would start with a morning meeting they would pitch a story if they have a story idea. There are obviously things you're going to cover, and they may already be pre-assigned. You know you were going to cover the big trial today, but their day is a constant gathering of information learning details and sharing it in the appropriate way, whether it's with a web editor. So they could put it on the website. They may be shooting video on their phone while the photographer is out getting other video. They may be doing their own interviews. They promote themselves through social media, and then they have to be ready for those traditional deadlines. There's going to be a deadline for five or five thirty-six or a ten or eleven whatever it may be and getting their reports ready getting approved and then being ready to go live for that minute and a half.

Ken White

Yeah.

Mark Kurtz

You know that's the shortest part of their day.

Ken White

Right. And the best part of their day probably.

Mark Kurtz

Probably the best part hopefully if everything goes right, but its the shortest part. All this work. You know eight and a half hours work and they are on TV for a minute, a minute and a half.

Ken White

Yeah. Weather it's just it's such a main, it's a staple of local TV news. Well, how much time is devoted to weather saying in a basic newscast?

Mark Kurtz

You know whether it's if a newscast is 30 minutes long, you're probably going to have at least a main weather that's three to four minutes.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Mark Kurtz

And then you'll have it depends what the weathers doing that day. But you know it's the old joke about the weather. Everyone cares about it. Everyone cares, and we may do stories in Williamsburg or in Virginia Beach, and if you don't have a connection, we cover a large area.

Ken White

Yeah.

Mark Kurtz

You might not necessarily care what the school board in Virginia Beach is doing if you don't have kids there. Everyone cares about the weather, and it's probably going to affect everybody. It's going to blow through, and it's going to everyone's going to get rain not get rain be cloudy be you know get snow knock it snow. And there's that everyone cares about. But there's also a real public service. We are licensed to operate in the public interest, and I know that you know we'll get comments about why are you on TV why you're interrupting my show. We're not doing it because we want to you know as much as the meteorologist love the weather. They they're not doing it to interrupt your programming or to have to bother you. They feel there's really a need they're scientists they have seen something that's worrisome to them, and they want you to know about it. And so we will all we always air on the side of safety. You know you want people you never want to have someone say I didn't know something was going to happen and we had some wild, crazy weather events. You know that we look at what happens in other parts of the country. And so weather is very popular. Everyone has an opinion about it. Everybody has something they want to say about it. They've they like this the hottest or the coldest or they you know they remember when that happened 20 years ago. I remember this is the storm that came through. And so there's that natural interest in it. But then there's also a real public service part of it. And you know it's funny. We'll have a snowstorm, or we'll have you know severe weather. And you know people will say why aren't you covering X Y or Z. Well, there's six inches of snow on the ground. That's the story.

Ken White

Yeah.

Mark Kurtz

That weather is the news at that point, and it would be a little silly, almost cover something else. But yeah, we employ four meteorologists and all the great meteorologists who they're scientists. They have the TV they have the ability to be on television.

Ken White

Right.

Mark Kurtz

To communicate but they are scientists, and they see themselves as that, and you know they'll come in and tell you all the scientific fun detail then we talk about you know how do you tell the viewer that

Ken White

Right.

Mark Kurtz

So they understand it, you know because they're kind of geeking out on the science portion of it.

Ken White

Sure.

Mark Kurtz

But yeah weather huge weather is just one of those things that everyone cares everyone wants to know about it, and you have to win that space you know to be successful.

Ken White

How about sports. How big is that it?

Mark Kurtz

You know there's the diehard sports fans. You know if I would say that sports really when it transcends just X's and O's and you know scores then people care. They love a good story. They want to know about athletes and sports. You know local sports does well. People do care about that. And so I think sports has actually seen a bit of a resurgence in the past few years. You know there's probably a time when some stations were killing sports or dropping it altogether. I know that our company thinks it's very important because it's so local.

Ken White

Right.

Mark Kurtz

And you know we try real hard to cover local course you're going to see the big you see the big national teams you're going to see that stuff. But if you're waiting for us to tell you the score from yesterday's game, no one's doing that. I mean no one's doing that, but they will turn us on to see a story about maybe William & Mary you know team what they're doing, how are they doing it who's on the team. What's something about the coach.

Ken White

Yeah.

Mark Kurtz

They want to see that stuff. And so sports you know there are some people who are never going to just never be sportspeople. But I think that if you tell a good story, people will watch it. And that's what you see a lot of times used to be always at the end of the newscast and now sometimes you'll see sports stories creep in at different places. If it's a good story, it could be at 5:00 or early earlier in the newscast because just a great story about a great person or a great team that did something. And so it's kind of a different way of thinking about sports as opposed to three minutes into the newscast that you know you still do that.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Mark Kurtz

But a lot of times if someone has a really great story about a player or something we'll put it elsewhere in the show just because.

Ken White

Interesting.

Mark Kurtz

It's just a great story.

Ken White

Yeah.

Mark Kurtz

You should know about it.

Ken White

So what's the next big thing where is local TV news going do you think in the next few years.

Mark Kurtz

Well, you know it's being driven by the technology. Streaming online streaming is a such a huge you know I don't think we know the true impact of that yet. The Netflix of the world and that sort of thing the Hulus of the world. I think that you know will the streaming space is going to be huge for us because it's going to you know the people are it's just shift the consumption patterns is shifting they still want the content they still want to watch local TV, and local content weather and they want the stories people are just kind of getting their news, and they're getting their TV in a different way. So being in that space is the next big thing I think when you talk about the viability of television, you know as long as we're there in those spaces which we will be it's going to be good for us because you know it's there'll always be a six o'clock news. There will probably always be. You know you're going to wake up in the morning at seven o'clock six o'clock, and they'll be morning news there how you get it just may be totally different it may be through a streaming service or you know they'll be the people to watch it on their phone there's gonna be traditional folks there still people that get us over the air it's free it's HD looks great and I think that you know you see younger people discovering that and realizing I can stream this and I can watch wavy over the air with a little antenna for free. And people are doing that more than they used to. So you know the number of people who get TV over the air is actually gone up.

Ken White

Wow.

Mark Kurtz

In the last few years because to them, it's this really cool thing they stream their movies and they watch local TV over the air. But streaming is really the big place where it's going. And the thing about that that provides you that's an on-demand world. So that really changes how do you think about the day when it's you you may have newscasts, but now I can watch you in my big screen TV, and I can pick anything I want to watch. You know we feel like we're gonna be thinking about the on-demand viewer as well, and we may be producing content for a newscast, but we'll probably be producing content all the time they're really the deadlines will just be whenever it's available and available for you to watch it.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Mark Kurtz News Director of WAVY TV in Norfolk, Virginia. And that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. The Center for Corporate Education can help you and your organization get to the next level with business and leadership development programs taught by the William & Mary MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. If you're interested in learning more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest Mark Kurtz. Thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Till next time have a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Shawn Boyer
Shawn BoyerEpisode 115: May 23, 2019
Filling an Unmet Need with person and desk

Shawn Boyer

Episode 115: May 23, 2019

Filling an Unmet Need

Shawn Boyer is a successful entrepreneur. He was the founder and CEO of Snagajob - America's largest hourly employment network for job seekers and employers. He also founded and serves as the CEO of GoHappy, a social messaging platform for private groups that focuses on positive sharing and collaboration. For Boyer, being an entrepreneur often means identifying an unmet need. His approach to entrepreneurship is methodical - he took similar approaches and steps to launching both Snagajob and GoHappy. And it's a formula you can adopt.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What Shawn's focus was in the early days of the internet
  • How Shawn became inspired to create a website for hourly workers
  • How Shawn financed his startup
  • When did Snagajob.com launch
  • Why the decision was made to bring web development in-house
  • What Shawn did after leaving Snagajob
  • What was the inspiration for GoHappy
  • What are some lessons from growing up around a family business
  • How to identify business needs for entrepreneurs
Transcript

Shawn Boyer: Filling an Unmet Need TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host Ken White. Thanks for listening. Shawn Boyer is a successful entrepreneur. He was the founder and CEO of Snagajob America's largest hourly employment network for job seekers and employers. He also founded and serves as the CEO of GoHappy, a social messaging platform for private groups that focuses on positive sharing and collaboration. For Boyer being an entrepreneur often means identifying an unmet need. His approach to entrepreneurship is methodical. He took similar approaches and steps to launching both Snagajob and GoHappy. And it's a formula you can adopt. Here's our conversation with the founder and CEO of GoHappy, Shawn Boyer.

Ken White

Shawn, thanks for taking time to join us on the podcast. It's great to have you here today.

Shawn Boyer

Yeah absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Ken White

So let's talk about sort of the start of your business as it kind of goes back to the Internet and what was happening in the Internet. And it's hard to believe for many people there was a time where there was no Internet.

Shawn Boyer

Right.

Ken White

Of course, right. But in the 90s it picked up, and in the late 90s it picked up. But you saw something you felt there was opportunity there.

Shawn Boyer

Yeah, I did well, and I was probably late to it in comparison to some of my friends and so forth. So I was I remember I was in law school. So I went to law school.

Ken White

Right.

Shawn Boyer

Because I thought I wanted to be a commercial real estate developer and number of people, I talked to who'd done well at that suggested that after undergrad, I go to law school. And get out practice with a law firm for five to seven years doing commercial real estate and then you know go do my own thing at that point. So I was in law school, and I remember they issued us e-mail addresses. I was like email address what am I going to do with an email address? And you know several of my other buddies you know we're very much into it, and then I remember several of my buddies to being at the computer terminals, and they were looking at scores and things on ESPN. I was like, huh, what is this? But I never you know I would use it occasionally.

Ken White

Wow.

Shawn Boyer

But not like to the extent that the number of other people did. And then, when I got out of law school, I was practicing law and was doing that for a couple of years, and at that point in time, this was kind of 97 98 99.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Shawn Boyer

It felt like everybody and their brother was leaving whatever their job was to go start an Internet company, and I was in D.C. at the time, and I was like man I am missing the boat you know. And I never wanted to be an attorney my whole life anyway. And you know I'm just gonna start writing down every idea that I have, and so I literally did. I was writing them down, putting them in this manila folder these little yellow legal sheets of paper you know they're full of different ideas. Most of which were terrible, but I was dating this girl at the time, and this is now in April of 99, and she was getting her Ph.D. in medical anthropology at American. She was a William & Mary undergrad, and she asked me if I'd go online and do a search for her because she was having a hard time finding an internship for that summer. And so I went online at work. She didn't go online because she didn't have internet at her home, which again is so funny to think about now.

Ken White

Right, it is.

Shawn Boyer

And I didn't see that many sites that were geared towards internships. There were a lot that were geared towards salary level positions, so monster.com was the 800-pound gorilla. CareerBuilder which was another big one

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Shawn Boyer

was headquartered in the D.C. area. So I knew of that, and there were a number of others but not that many on the internship side. I thought you know what that seems like a void. I talked to my parents a few days after that, and they had a retail store, and they said as I was telling them about it, my dad said you know what we have a really hard time finding good hourly help for the store. Are there any sites that are geared towards that market because we put an ad in the newspaper, and it's pretty expensive doesn't really work that well Monster and Careerbuilder we've tried did not work well for us. I was like no I don't know like I worked my way through school like I don't remember seeing anything I would just ask my buddies, hey where are you working

Ken White

Sure.

Shawn Boyer

Or see the sign in the window kind of thing. So I went back online and looked, and there was nothing, and I thought I'm missing it. Somebody has got to be doing it, and I kept looking. And nobody was doing it. I thought all right well it just must not be a very good idea, right. Otherwise Monster, Careerbuilder, whomever would have come down market

Ken White

Right.

Shawn Boyer

And started to do it well or somebody else who knew what the heck they were doing would have started something. But you know the more I thought about it, the more I thought you know what. Maybe there is something here, and just nobody has focused on it. So I just started calling you know McDonald's and Walmart, and you know different retailers and fast food types of companies asking them what they did to you know make people aware of the fact they're hiring. All of them said put a sign in the window. If it gets really bad, we'll put an ad in the newspaper, but we really try not to do that because you know that's just expensive.

Ken White

Right.

Shawn Boyer

And we tap into our employee base right and ask them to refer their friends. And then, I was talking to guidance counselors at high schools and career counselors offices at colleges and asking them. Hey, what do you do to make your students aware of the fact that these hourly jobs exist so that they can work their way through school, not talking about internships? Like you know what you want to do after you grow up?

Ken White

Sure.

Shawn Boyer

You know, while you're in school like well, we may post something on the bulletin board in a career office, but we really don't do anything. I just thought you know what, that's a gap. So then I started talking to the students and asking them. How do you find jobs? And I got it's a pain in the rear.

Ken White

Yes.

Shawn Boyer

You know I've got to drive around, and you know I walk into a place that has a sign on the window. And then they say that they're not hiring, and then I’m not sure if they just didn't like the way I looked or not or whatever it might be. So anyway, long good way of saying that's how I became interested in just the space itself and to the impetus for what then ended up becoming Snagajob.

Ken White

How did you even start that? I mean, you need technical expertise. I mean, this is a small business. This was a big deal with a lot of technology.

Shawn Boyer

Yeah, and that technical expertise wasn't coming from me.

Ken White

Right.

Shawn Boyer

Unfortunately.

Ken White

Yeah.

Shawn Boyer

I wish I had that kind of brain, but I just don't. Also, the first thing I did before I left the job where I was, I literally took out every credit card I could. And I've got I keep it for posterity sake, I guess. But whenever I look at it, it gives me anxiety. These yellow again legal sheets of paper that have all the different credit cards that I had where I was transferring from one to another. Where you know you get this promotional thing in the mail and say you know hey you can transfer this for the next six months for zero percent interest. So I took out every credit card I could before I left because I know I couldn't get one, you know after I left the law firm. I took out all my 401K money, and I deferred all my law school loans, and then I started going to friends and family because I knew that little bit of money that I'd been able to save up and take out of 401K was not going to be enough to go contract with a web development shop to build out what it was that we needed to have.

Ken White

Yeah.

Shawn Boyer

Because I didn't, you know I couldn't afford to hire you know an army of people to go do it felt like you know contracting it out would be the best bet. So you know my parents put in money, my Uncle Bobby, my Aunt Vicky, my college roommate from William & Mary, you know my sister, you know friends of friends and so forth and that was a super stressful time. Maybe come back to that but those first several years, and we weren't sure whether we’re gonna make it or not but we contracted out the initial build of the site with a firm to get ourselves to the point where we could launch the website. So we launched in May of 2000, in fact, we just celebrated our 19th what we call snagaversary last Thursday. And then what we realized is okay now we got it out there, and you know these different things that we're learning from people and now want to incorporate into the website. It's starting to get really expensive working with this outside development shop. So we then made the decision to hire a developer who thank goodness was amazing, and he's still there at Snagajob. 19 years later, almost 19 years later so John joined us in the beginning of August in 2000. This guy John Moon and John Moon was a one-person technology shop for Snagajob for the first several years.

Ken White

Wow.

Shawn Boyer

And again thank goodness he was as good as he was because that was

Ken White

Yeah.

Shawn Boyer

Kind of how we were able to make it.

Ken White

Yeah, and a big success story. And then a few years later it's GoHappy.

Shawn Boyer

And then several years later, yeah. So yeah. Kind of fast forward through that 16 years we ended up you know raising D.C. money after six years at the time we raised our first round we were 20 some people in 2006 we grew to 100 people in six months. And then I stayed on with the company through well as the CEO until to the end of 2013 which time we were about three hundred and some people we then had 60 million members of the website about 400,000 companies that worked with us around the country and then stayed on as a chairman for the next couple of years and now we have 80 plus million members and work with about 600,000 businesses around the country. So when I left, I wasn't sure what I wanted to go do necessarily next, and you know you kind of go through that period of time where it's like okay do I want to start something again.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Shawn Boyer

Do I want to totally pivot and coach and teach because I know I love being around students and kids? And you know, do I want to go do this commercial real estate thing I still kind of have that you know hankering to go do that? Do I just want to be an investor slash board member, you know, in different companies? But I took a year off. I just had such an urge and not just an urge. I think just such a need to be a part of something again and to try to go create something with a team of people. That you know, we have this shared mission, and there's that unknown element of it of okay we want to go do this. We think that you know whatever people need this.

Ken White

Yeah.

Shawn Boyer

Or you can solve a pain point, but can we really. And so going back to Snagajob because it was really the impetus for the idea for GoHappy was those first five years when it was so stressful and not sure whether we're gonna make it or not. I just totally neglected friends and family.

Ken White

Right.

Shawn Boyer

I just you know I literally I didn't go to my best friends, who from growing up, Mom's funeral because I was too busy and she'd been like a second mom to me growing up. One of my buddies from undergrad at William & Mary, we literally traveled Europe together for a month after we graduated, and then I stopped returning his calls because I was so busy. You know, trying to grow this thing, and he got married, and I didn't even know it. And I called, and I was like, did you get married I didn't even know you're engaged. He was like you never return my calls. So that was really a wakeup call for me at that point to start to become much more focused on my relationships, and so I was doing it in this really manual way putting down my list of most important people putting goals next to them that were you know these annual goals broken down into quarterly and monthly goals putting stuff on my calendar sending outlook invites and the whole thing just felt manual and sterile, and I didn't really have the time to go look for something that might fit me better or at least I didn't take the time to do it. But when I left Snagajob, I was like you know what I want to find an interactive tool to help me do this. And I just didn't find anything, and so that got my wheels spinning around. Okay, there should be maybe you know maybe there is something here right maybe other people desire the same thing and so when I decided that you know I wanted to go do something again. Then I started doing more formal discovery sessions with people and just asking them, hey, how do you think about your relationships. How do you try to be intentional about them? Do you set goals in them, and that then led to GoHappy. Or initially, actually, it was even called DieHappy, which go figure people didn't like the word die. We thought it made sense because like live happy die happy.

Ken White

Right.

Shawn Boyer

But we ended up changing it because so many people hated it. And the whole premise for it is to help people build better relationships so that they can live happier lives and helping people share life with each other when they can't be together trying to really act as a tool to help them facilitate get-togethers. And then third thing is helping people be intentional about the things that they're important people care about, so helping them remember important dates and you know almost being in the way the CRM tool for people for their personal relationships.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Shawn Boyer of GoHappy in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary School of Business. In order to retain top employees, the best companies and organizations invest in their people by offering high-quality professional development, and some of those top companies and organizations turn to William & Mary in our Center for Corporate Education for their needs. The Center for Corporate Education offers professional development programs for all levels of employees, from executives to managers to emerging leaders to new hires. The programs are taught by William & Mary's MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation with Shawn Boyer, the founder, and CEO of GoHappy.

Ken White

You almost sound like you can't help it right. There's this entrepreneur thing inside you that just keeps coming out. You have to create, is that accurate?

Shawn Boyer

I think so, and maybe it's stupidity. I don't know where. And I love this, and you know I encourage people to do this regardless of whether or not you end up going and do anything with it. But I just think there's so much value. And when you see, or you experience something that is a pain point for you or where it's something that's just not optimized to not just say well that stinks and deal with it right. To think about all right well, how might that be different. And is there something that I or maybe that someone else could go do about it and go solve for that. And some of those things that you identify and start to write down will come to nothing right. Maybe some of those somebody's already doing it and you just didn't realize somebody else was already doing it. But I guarantee you some of those things you'll look at, and you'll do the competitive landscape analysis and decide you know what nobody is doing this, and somebody should be doing it. And maybe you'll have the passion, the fire to go do it. Maybe you won't. But it's still this really interesting exercise to go through

Ken White

Yeah.

Shawn Boyer

And I think just helps you look at the world a little differently. And so I love doing that. No question.

Ken White

So it's a solution-driven kind of philosophy.

Shawn Boyer

I think so, yeah.

Ken White

Find the answer.

Shawn Boyer

Yeah, trying to again, I know this sounds totally cheesy, and maybe there's a better, less cheesy way to say it, but you know trying to make the world better, you know by experiencing these things that are less than ideal and trying to figure out all right. How could it be better?

Ken White

Yeah, you grew up, and you mentioned your parents had a business when you were in high school. did that. How did? We've had several of our guests on the podcast who were CEOs and leaders and entrepreneurs who did grow up in a family business. How did that What were some of the lessons you learned? How do you think that affected you?

Shawn Boyer

That's a great question. So yes, so I grew up a pastor's kid until I was 16 grew up out in Oklahoma, my dad, his pastor. But he always had a desire to start his own business. And so when I was 16, and I guess he was 46 at the time he and my mom decided you know what if we're gonna start this thing this business, then we better do it now, or we're never gonna do it. So my brother was getting ready to be a freshman in college at the University of Oklahoma I a younger sister who was going into third grade I was going into my sophomore year of high school, and they were from Virginia, and they decided you know what we're going to move to Virginia, and we're going to start a jewelry store of all things. They had no jewelry. I still don't really understand why they decided jewelry but was either jewelry or a bookstore I guess they figured you know there was more margin involved in jewelry. Thank goodness they did do jewelry instead of books because of Amazon. But anyway, so they started this jewelry store, and they were amazing at letting me see kind of the underpinnings of the business part of it was by just necessity because I had to work there because you know we didn't have the money to be able to afford to hire other people. So I worked on the sales floor. I worked in the back room, you know, and could help size rings. I helped them price jewelry. I got to go to jewelry conferences where we were buying stuff, and so I got to see all these different pieces of the business. Customer service element how do you deal with somebody when they come into the store irate about whatever their diamond fell out of the ring and hey lost it, and you know what are we a bunch of idiots you know. And then you get a deal you know on the sale side dealing with people who were buying you know pretty expensive stuff, and so they were amazing at exposing me to that, and I look at it now and like I would never let my 16-year-old do that. So kudos to them for doing that. But they were also amazing at shielding me from all the anxieties that I now realize they were facing right.

Ken White

Interesting.

Shawn Boyer

Like are we going to be able to make payroll? Are we going to be able to pay our mortgage? Are we going to be able to pay you know our son's tuition in college because they were just scraping by? Never let us experience that, but I now know that they did. And so that for me, I think was a huge pivotal time where I don't know if I would have had the same burning desire to be an entrepreneur if I had not seen them do it.

Ken White

Yeah. So your parents did it. You've done it many people listening would like to like to try something. What advice do you have for them? They just they're just not willing to pull the trigger just yet.

Shawn Boyer

Yeah, I would say you know the biggest thing I think goes back to identify what the pain point is and you just start going and talking to whoever the target audience is to see in fact okay do they have this shared pain point that you seem to have discovered yourself or through somebody else and then just start thinking about all right well what B B proposed solutions to that. Right. And just start sketching them. Right. Having conversations with people about it, you don't have to actually go build anything right, whether it's a piece of technology or it's a you know piece of you know tangible product that people are touching. It doesn't have to be that it's just doing these really quick iterative discovery sessions with people we're picking our brains. What about this. What about this. What else would you do? And then I think you get to the point where you realize okay there's either not really a pain point here or it's not a big enough target market right for me to go do what I want to go do, and then you start to get to what a proposed solution might look like. Inevitably whatever the final solution looks like if there ever is a final, it ain't going to look like what you thought it was at the beginning right because you're gonna be learning and iterating. But I would just say get out and start talking to people and then get that first iteration of what it is into people's hands. If you're still so excited about it and there appears to be this market for it after you've gone through those initial discovery sessions.

Ken White

That's our conversation with the founder and CEO of GoHappy Shawn Boyer, and that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business the Center for Corporate Education can help you and your organization get to the next level with business and leadership development programs taught by the William & Mary MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. If you're interested in learning more, please visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we love to hear from you regarding our podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest this week, Shawn Boyer, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Till next time have a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Kelly Grier
Kelly GrierEpisode 114: April 17, 2019
Leading on a Large Scale with road and sunset

Kelly Grier

Episode 114: April 17, 2019

Leading on a Large Scale

If you lead a team, whether it's a team of two or twenty-two, you know leadership is challenging work. Well imagine leading a team of tens of thousands of people spread across the world. Kelly Grier is US Chairman and Managing Partner and America's Managing Partner for EY. She leads over 70,000 professionals in 31 countries with annual revenue of $15.6 billion. She's been with EY for 28 years. Grier recently visited William & Mary where she spoke at the annual Women's Stock Pitch and Leadership Summit. She took time to sit down with us and she shared her thoughts on leadership advice for young professionals, and how EY creates and maintains its special culture.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How critical is passion for success
  • What are the advantages for being with an organization for an extended period of time
  • How should one approach leading on a large scale
  • What leadership style is most suited to successfully leading a large group of professionals
  • How does a leader know what their reports need to be successful
  • How to best communicate on a large scale
  • How best to foster positive culture at a large organization
  • What methods can a large company utilize to ensure employees subscribe to the culture
  • How to make professionals feel a part of the team
  • What does it take to be successful during industry disruption
Transcript

Kelly Grier: Leading on a Large Scale TRANSCRIPT DOWNLOAD (PDF)

Ken White

From the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, this is Leadership & Business. The podcast that brings you the latest and best thinking from today's business leaders from across the world. We share the strategies, tactics, and information that can make you a more effective leader, communicator, and professional. I'm your host Ken White. Thanks for listening. If you lead a team, whether it's a team of two or twenty-two, you know leadership is challenging work. Well, imagine leading a team of tens of thousands of people spread across the world. Well, Kelly Grier is U.S. Chairman and Managing Partner and America's managing partner for EY. She leads over 70,000 professionals in 31 countries with annual revenue of fifteen point six billion dollars. She's been with EY for 28 years. Grier recently visited William & Mary, where she spoke at the annual Women's Stock Pitch and Leadership Summit. She took time to sit down with us, and she shared her thoughts on leadership, advice for young professionals,  and how EY creates and maintains its special culture. Here's our conversation with EY's U.S. chairman and managing partner and America's managing partner Kelly Grier.

Ken White

Kelly, thank you so much for joining us first of all welcome to William & Mary.

Kelly Grier

Thank you.

Ken White

Yeah.

Kelly Grier

It's great to be here, Ken.

Ken White

Have you been before?

Kelly Grier

I have. Yes, I have. I've been a few times now. So first and foremost, I am the mother of a freshman student here.

Ken White

Wonderful.

Kelly Grier

So we came to visit a couple of years ago as Jack was evaluating schools and he and we fell in love with Williamsburg and William & Mary straight away.

Ken White

Yeah.

Kelly Grier

It's a wonderful place.

Ken White

I know the feeling, so you did the student walking backwards tour right.

Kelly Grier

Exactly.

Ken White

We've all been through it. If we have children who are in high school or college. Yeah great. And you're here for the Women's Stock Pitch and Leadership Summit going to meet some unbelievable

Kelly Grier

Yeah.

Ken White

unbelievably talented young women when you meet with young women professionals. Is there a message you try to share? A theme you try to talk about?

Kelly Grier

You know I would say you know I just encourage them to be bold and be courageous, and you know be completely unconstrained in their ambitions. You know I think that in this group in particular I think is emblematic of just the incredible talent and capabilities that our women have. And for them to pursue those with sort of reckless abandon, I think is certainly a strong message that I would convey.

Ken White

Tough to do for millennials for you for the generation behind them. For men and women, that's tough.

Kelly Grier

Yeah.

Ken White

Yeah. What were you like at that age?

Kelly Grier

Well, you know I was pretty dogmatic in pursuit of my ambitions. I have to be honest with you I. I was putting myself through college, so I had an economic imperative in addition to my personal and professional ambitions. But I, you know, I really sought to be the best I could be at whatever it was I was doing at the moment, and I had a drive to excellence and into achievement. And so that that advice that you know I convey to women and not just women but young folks today is really a bit of a chapter at page out of my own early chapters when I was their age as well. And it served me well over the years.

Ken White

So there's passion then,

Kelly Grier

Absolutely.

Ken White

as well? I asked just about every guest on the podcast. How critical is passion to success? How much do you have to love the work?

Kelly Grier

Yeah. It's a great question. I think that it's I think it's central. So I think that you can be successful for a short period of time without having the passion, but I think for sustained success, you really have to be passionate about what you're doing. At the same time, I don't think that that passion is the only ingredient for success.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

Obviously, you've got to be hardworking. You've got to have a curiosity. You've got to continue to challenge yourself. But the passion I think is the sort of that that rocket fuel that makes it you know makes a big difference in how you pursue those other the elements of success

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

as you pursue your ambitions.

Ken White

You mentioned long time you've been with EY a long time, which is somewhat rare today. What are the advantages of being with an organization for an extended period of time?

Kelly Grier

Well, you see a lot. You know, in an over that period of time, you're able to connect dots across sort of the complexity of a landscape as broad and diverse as ours is at EY. We have so many different services that we bring to market. We have so many different geographic offices and practices, and we do so many different things in terms of how we run our own business. So there's a whole wealth of experience that is all sort of within the boundaries of EY. And the advantage of having been with the firm for such a long time as I've seen so many different aspects of the firm. I've seen so many different aspects of how we bring exceptional client service to the market and to our clients. I've seen so many different ways by which we have. We've driven our talent agenda, and we've created credibly rich and experienced and wonderfully valuable talent for the marketplace. In my time as the talent vice-chair, I've seen the way that we manage the business judiciously. How we create investment capital how we deploy that capital and so over the course of my career the ability to have had all of those various experiences at first and foremost, it gave me a wide variety of experience.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

So a lot of people leave the company the organization that they're working for because they seek that diversity of experience as alternative experiences.

Ken White

Right.

Kelly Grier

I never needed to leave EY to have that I would I'd move into a different role. I'd move into a different practice area

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

I transferred overseas, and all of those different experiences. Widen my aperture and also help me to understand business and certainly in the business of our firm better, and so it served you know it really served me well. You can have the same you can ultimately have the same I'd say overall career experiences and successes

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

through a variety of different organizations. But there's something really powerful of being able to have it all within a single organization.

Ken White

Yeah, yeah. No doubt, you lead many. I mean, you're not leading a team of five. How do you lead on such a large scale so many people, as you mentioned, geographically?

Kelly Grier

Yes.

Ken White

It's big. How do you approach that?

Kelly Grier

Yeah, it's a great question and I actually just spent some time with the with a group of EY ambassadors including some interns as well as some of our William & Mary students who've just committed to EY and they asked me a similar question as sort of a corollary question which is whats my leadership style.

Ken White

Yeah.

Kelly Grier

It was a great question, and I think it's it's the way that I would answer your question, which is, first and foremost, those 72,000 people in the 31 countries that comprise the Americas they don't work for me. I work for them. My job is to make sure that they have what they need to be successful both at EY but also personally as well and even professionally outside of EY. You know we're an incredible source of talent for the world, and our responsibility is to make sure that whatever their pursuits are, how long they decide to stay with EY, or ultimately leave and pursue ambitions outside of EY. That they are as best positioned to be successful as they could possibly be. And so I think that's a pretty important part of how you think about leadership

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

and the 72,000 people. What am I doing to enrich their experiences? What am I doing to enable their success? What am I doing to make sure that their skills and experiences are commensurate with what the market is demanding today and what the market is going to need tomorrow?

Ken White

Right.

Kelly Grier

We're very focused on looking around the corner and making sure that we've got line of sight into how the market skill requirement and skill set is evolving

Ken White

Sure.

Kelly Grier

to make sure that we're planning for that. And we're working with academia to make sure that academia is planning for that.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

You know there's a vast responsibility to leading an organization of this scale. But I would say it is first and foremost about ensuring that those 72,000 people are going to be successful and in their success EYs success is derived.

Ken White

Right. It's interesting we've had many leaders on the podcast, of course, Mike Petters, the head of CEO of Huntington Engels, one of them. Exact same answer.

Kelly Grier

Is that right?

Ken White

What is my job to make sure the people who quote-unquote report to me have everything they need to be to be successful? That's it. You know you get that, and there it is. How do you know what they need? How do you communicate and listen and get the information?

Kelly Grier

It's a great is a great point. So it has to be multifaceted. I mean, first of all, we've got to be listening to the marketplace. We've got to be looking, you know, looking outside in. In addition to listening inside out as well and we do both, you know we certainly listen to our clients. Our clients expect that we are at the bleeding edge of transformation. We're at the bleeding edge of disruption because we are the ones who lead them through those transformations and that disruption and all the opportunities that come with it and avoid all the risk associated with it. And so they're an enormously valuable insight to us as we're helping them sort of create the future

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

then using that insight to essentially recast and reimagine what we need to do at EY to be capable of doing that broadly for our clients but also again within EY. So it's a really dynamic environment right now. It's obviously you hear the term disruption all the time

Ken White

Sure.

Kelly Grier

transformation all the time, but in reality, that is very much the current state of play.

Ken White

Yeah.

Kelly Grier

We are helping companies transform themselves really across every single sector, and everybody's at varying degrees along the journey, but everybody is in some form or fashion looking to transform their business.

Ken White

Yeah.

Kelly Grier

And so for us, we've got to be able to meet those demands and listening to them is very instructive in terms of how we equip our people with the skills, the assets including technology-based assets. That we need to have available to us to enable those transformations and then to think about as well what does this mean for our own business. For example, you know EY was actually just recognized as literally the number one firm in use of robotic process automation RPA, which is really useful but increasingly ubiquitous technology in you know in process improvement and efficiency, etc. Well, we deliver that service for our clients across the board and are recognized for that. But we're looking at how do we automate our own processes. How do we incorporate robotics and bots if you will

Ken White

Yeah.

Kelly Grier

to the way that we, you know, we drive more efficiency into our business, and in fact, right now, we have 7,000 bots working at EY.

Ken White

Wow, wow.

Kelly Grier

So we've got one of the largest sort of bot families or bot

Ken White

Yeah.

Kelly Grier

workforces in the world. So that's an example of sort of the inside out.

Ken White

Yeah.

Kelly Grier

And our people play a really important role because they are very much on the front line

Ken White

Right.

Kelly Grier

of a lot of the client transformation

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

but they're also very much on the frontline in sort of the user experience of being a part of EY. So their suggestions to us as to how we could do things better, smarter, faster you know is really valuable insight as well.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with EY's Kelly Grier in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at William & Mary School of Business. If you're looking to raise your game and give your career a boost. The Center for Corporate Education hosts professional development programs that provide busy executives and emerging leaders with the tools needed to compete in today's business environment. The programs are taught by William & Mary's MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. To learn more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Now back to our conversation with the U.S. Chairman and Managing Partner and America's managing partner for EY, Kelly Grier.

Ken White

Your typical day, you're basically communicating all day. How what channels do you use face to face phone email town halls? What do you? How do you listen, learn, and communicate?

Kelly Grier

Yeah. It's all of the above. I am on the road at least 90 percent of the time

Ken White

Sure.

Kelly Grier

and I take those opportunities as I travel around to meet with our EY teams.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

I spend a lot of time with our partners, and I spend a lot of time with our clients and other stakeholders, so our regulators are a very important stakeholder for us as well. So I spent a fair amount of time with them. And I do value the ability to have an in-person conversation right.

Ken White

Right.

Kelly Grier

The intimacy of that the candor that comes with that the level of trust you know that you build when you sit together is different than certainly a phone call

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

which is different yet again from an email, and you know and believe it or not occasionally we'll actually still will still issue voicemail messages which are you know which is sort of a vestige of the past.

Ken White

Yeah.

Kelly Grier

But from time to time is actually useful to be able to put a voice over to some of the messages I do issue video communications

Ken White

Right.

Kelly Grier

to our people as well

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

particularly if it's something that needs to be sent out broadly. But I want them to see and hear you know my accompanying expression and emotion associated with the message being delivered. I find that to be very effective. I've got a people advisory forum as well so a bit of a focus group if you will

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

that will convene three or four times a year, and they set the agenda they will tell me what's on their minds. They represent the views of their colleagues. They tell me what's on their minds and vice versa. It's also a nice opportunity to socialize different ideas or changes that may be on the horizon. And we have the same with the partner level group as well.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

Again I think it is unique as a partnership. I work very much for my partners

Ken White

Right.

Kelly Grier

and you know we're all sort of in this together as co-owners of EY. So it's a variety different ways.

Ken White

When I think EY, I think culture it just leaps off the website right.

Kelly Grier

Yeah.

Ken White

What is it about. What is it? How what's the magic potion right.

Kelly Grier

Yeah. It's a great question, and I have to tell you that there is nothing that I'm more focused on than that question. You know, being the custodian, the guardian steward of our culture is I think my number one job.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

And I do think we have a unique culture, and it's incredibly powerful in how you can align you know an organization around this shared set of values, and you know this esprit de corps is first and foremost. Starts with making sure that everybody we bring on board is going to be accretive to that culture

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

is going to align with the culture. That everyone understands what our value systems are and that they ascribe to those values and share those values, and they commit to those values and that you know central to those values is the concept of teaming. And this is what's really extraordinary I think about EY and one of the things that is really really difficult to replicate because we have first and foremost we bring the most talented people and the most accomplished people from campuses.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

certainly from William & Mary and from various other campuses and we know from external sources that we are one of the most attractive employers

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

on campus. And so we know we've got the best talent that chooses to join EY. Incredibly accomplished students, great grades,

Ken White

Sure.

Kelly Grier

having done lots of really meaningful work

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

in addition to the academics. And in addition to that, when we're recruiting for experienced hires, we also have phenomenal success. And inevitably they tell us they join us for our culture, but we bring this incredible talent into the firm and what we ask them to do, which is somewhat extraordinary. Is we ask them to subordinate all of their personal successes and achievements and really elevate the primacy of the team. And so you really sort of yield your

Ken White

Hmm-mmm

Kelly Grier

your individuality and your individual not your individuality but your individual goals and aspirations

Ken White

Right.

Kelly Grier

to the team's goals and aspirations. And there's a bit of a leap of faith that you take that in doing so you're going to be profoundly successful

Ken White

Yeah.

Kelly Grier

and that is really unusual to be able to cultivate in a group of extraordinarily accomplished people. This sense of team being primary and individual things that secondary. That is I think one of the things that's really essential about the EY culture

Ken White

Yeah.

Kelly Grier

and really really distinctive, and I think it all rests on you hear me talk a lot about this concept of belonging that again you see yourself in the firm your value system aligns with the firm's value system. You feel this commitment to the team because you feel a sense that you really belong here.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

And in that I think is probably one of the most powerful attributes of our culture.

Ken White

And isn't it just incredibly fun to be on a winning team?

Kelly Grier

Exactly.

Ken White

Just a blast, isn't it.

Kelly Grier

Well, there's that too.

Ken White

Right, yeah.

Kelly Grier

Exactly. You're doing great things really helping companies do some of the most extraordinary things this as I mentioned earlier I mean we're helping companies literally create the future

Ken White

Yeah.

Kelly Grier

and our people are part of that, and to be a part of a team that's doing that is very gratifying.

Ken White

A tough question for our last question. Looking forward in the future as you say so much innovation and disruption. What's it take to be successful moving forward?

Kelly Grier

Insatiable curiosity. I was actually maybe I'll say it differently. I was actually just in Israel a couple weeks ago, and I was meeting with one of our clients who's a prolific entrepreneur and innovator and successful many times over. And when we talked about Israel as the Startup Nation

Ken White

Right, hmm-mmm.

Kelly Grier

You'll hear that term obviously used very extensively because of how entrepreneurial, innovative culture is of this wonderful little country. And he used the term he said Israelis have a healthy irreverence for everything. And he said, in other words, they challenge everything. They don't accept the status quo. They they're always asking you know asking questions around why or you know if not this could it be that and how do we make it better and how do we just see the world differently. Does it always have to look this way is the sky truly always blue. I mean, they're just this irreverent this healthy irreverence that really drives that curiosity that ultimately drives innovation. And I think I think that that's the most important. I literally think that's the most important distinguishing feature of anyone who's entering the workforce now because it is such an credibly dynamic world. And if you're not constantly asking what's next or what's around the corner or where do we go from here or where does this product this model this service this capability. What's the next version next generation of it. If you're not asking those questions, you're going to be left behind.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Kelly Grier U.S. Chairman and Managing Partner and America's managing partner for EY. And that's our podcast for this week. Leadership & Business is brought to you by the Center for Corporate Education at the William & Mary School of Business. The Center for Corporate Education can help you and your organization get to the next level with business and leadership development programs taught by the William & Mary MBA faculty. The faculty ranked number one in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. If you're interested in learning more, visit our website at wmleadership.com. Finally, we'd love to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest this week, Kelly Grier, and thanks to you for listening. I'm Ken White. Till next time have a safe, happy, and productive week.

More Podcast Episodes

 Matt Siano
Matt SianoEpisode 113: April 3, 2019
Life on Wall Street

Matt Siano

Episode 113: April 3, 2019

Life on Wall Street

Life and career on Wall Street. It has changed considerably since the days of power ties, suspenders, and slicked-back hair. As the world and business continuously evolve, so do the firms and jobs on Wall Street. The number of business school grads pursuing jobs there has dropped compared to years' past. But, graduates with other degrees and experiences are now employed by Wall Street firms. Matt Siano is Managing Director, General Counsel at Two Sigma Investments, a New York-based hedge fund. He also serves as an adjunct professor at William & Mary's Raymond A. Mason School of Business. Siano was here on campus for the recent Women's Stock Pitch and Leadership summit. And while here, he talked with us about his life on Wall Street, how Wall Street has changed, and where it's headed.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How did Matt Siano end up working on Wall Street
  • What is Two Sigma Investments
  • What was the culture of Wall Street 20 years ago
  • How has the culture of Wall Street changed
  • What caused Wall Street to change and evolve
  • How is stock traded these days
  • What is the future of Wall Street
  • What type of personality succeeds on Wall Street
  • What makes a good Wall Street lawyer
  • How does one get a job on Wall Street

More Podcast Episodes

 Thomas Tull
Thomas TullEpisode 112: March 20, 2019
Machine Learning and Human Interface

Thomas Tull

Episode 112: March 20, 2019

Machine Learning and Human Interface

It's difficult to put one label on Thomas Tull - he's an entrepreneur. He's the founder of Legendary Entertainment, the maker of blockbuster movies. He's part-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he's an innovator. Tull is the Founder and CEO of Tulco, and operating company that transforms existing businesses by bringing in great management teams and technology. He recently visited with students at William & Mary's School of Business. Afterwards, he sat down with us to talk about the intersection of machine learning and human interface. When to listen, and when not to listen, and how to have a job and career you love.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What made Thomas Tull want to become an entrepreneur
  • How did Tull make Legendary more efficient
  • How do you know when to take risks in business decisions
  • When should you listen to advisors
  • Why did Tull invest in the Pittsburgh Steelers
  • What are the parallels between the movie industry and the NFL
  • How does Tulco help established businesses succeed
  • How to lead during a transformational change
  • How does machine learning change the way we do business
  • What is a best practice for incorporating data science into business operations
  • What should professionals know regarding artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • How important is it for professionals to know thyself

More Podcast Episodes

 Lisa DeNoia & Jeff Werby
Lisa DeNoia & Jeff WerbyEpisode 111: June 11, 2018
The Coworking Movement

Lisa DeNoia & Jeff Werby

Episode 111: June 11, 2018

The Coworking Movement

While a traditional professional goes to the office every day, other professionals work from home, often alone and isolated. Those working from home have an alternative: Coworking. By next year, over two million professionals around the world will go to work in shared offices or workspaces where they work independently. Amenities in coworking spaces include office space, conference rooms, private telephone rooms and other necessities professionals seek. Lisa DeNoia and Jeff Werby launched 1701 - a coworking, meeting, and event space in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and it has quickly caught on. They join us today to discuss coworking, the types of professionals it attracts, and how it's grown from a simple workspace to a collaborative community.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How Lisa and Jeff became collaborators
  • What's available at the 1701 coworking space
  • What draws members to coworking spaces
  • How easy is it to collaborate inside a coworking space
  • How will coworking grow
  • What amenities do you find in coworking spaces
  • Can you live in a coworking space
  • How does coworking affect the local business community
  • What is the Vibe District
  • What other events happen at coworking spaces
  • What is the primary demographic of coworking spaces
  • What are the rules of coworking spaces
  • How safe are coworking spaces

More Podcast Episodes

 Kathrine Kimball
Kathrine KimballEpisode 110: May 22, 2018
The Successful Professional

Kathrine Kimball

Episode 110: May 22, 2018

The Successful Professional

As thousands of new college graduates begin their careers this summer, many hope they can find a successful professional whom they can emulate. For young businesswomen, Kathrine Kimball has proven to be a popular role model. Kimball began her career in transfer pricing in 1993. Since then, she has advised clients all over the world as she worked for Deloitte, EY and CRA. Just last year she founded Aptis Global. Less than 12 months later, the International Tax Revue named it Best Newcomer Firm of the Year. In March, Kimball visited William & Mary for the Women's Stock Pitch Competition and Leadership Summit, hosted by the business school and the Boehly Center for Excellence in Finance. After interacting with students there, she sat down with us to talk about her career and, among other things, the importance of re-inventing yourself, handling difficult situations, and mentoring and helping others.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How to shift the power base of a conversation
  • How business has and has not changed for women in the past generation
  • Why you should embrace the power of ambiguity
  • Why you should continually reassess your career goals
  • How the Kimball Group influenced U.S. finance policy
  • Where Aptis Global is located
  • What services does Aptis Global provide
  • How to build and foster culture in a virtual company
  • Why Aptis Global presents awards to mentors

More Podcast Episodes

 Jennifer Engelhardt
Jennifer EngelhardtEpisode 109: May 9, 2018
Artificial Intelligence

Jennifer Engelhardt

Episode 109: May 9, 2018

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence may become one of the most important and transformational technologies of our time. AI can affect just about every aspect of business; including leadership, results and the bottom line, hiring, retention and culture, decision making, and innovation. While we see and hear a great deal about artificial intelligence, for many professionals, the topic remains somewhat of a mystery. Jennifer Engelhardt knows the ins and outs of AI. She's a partner at IBM Global Business Services and spent years in the life sciences space where, thanks to AI, some amazing breakthroughs are occurring regarding therapies, patient care, and cures. We sat down with Engelhardt last week where she explained artificial intelligence, how organizations can embrace it, and how it can be used to make meaningful decisions.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How artificial intelligence usage can benefit the life sciences space
  • How Watson is helping healthcare professionals
  • What AI can contribute to business recruiting
  • What skills does a professional need to utilize AI
  • How to increase user adoption for AI analytics
  • What is the best way to train on artificial intelligence systems
  • How is AI changing the skill set of professionals
  • What a business needs to adopt AI practices
  • The importance of trusting AI data
  • How artificial intelligence can be used to make better-informed decisions
  • Does age matter when it comes to adopting AI

More Podcast Episodes

 Molly Pieroni
Molly PieroniEpisode 108: April 24, 2018
Career Advice for New Graduates

Molly Pieroni

Episode 108: April 24, 2018

Career Advice for New Graduates

Over the next month, thousands of new graduates will receive their diplomas and enter one of the best job markets in years. Making the transition from student to professional is no doubt exciting, but it comes with questions and unknowns. Molly Pieroni is Managing Director of JatoTech Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm she co-founded in 1999. She earned her bachelor's degree from William & Mary and her MBA from Harvard Business School. Pieroni's had an outstanding career, much of it spent in male-dominated industries. Last month, she visited William & Mary for the Women's Stock Pitch and Leadership Summit hosted at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business. There, she met with young women about to launch their careers. Today she joins us to share thoughtful, relevant advice for new grads entering the world of business.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • What it's like being female in a male-dominated industry
  • Why it is beneficial to have more women in a group
  • The importance of absorbing information and moving on
  • How Molly made her career choices
  • How important is passion in terms of success
  • What to do to give back to teachers, coaches, mentors
  • How women should approach entering into a male-dominated business
  • What it means to "de-gender" your outlook
  • How business communication between genders has evolved over time
  • What men can learn from women in the workplace

More Podcast Episodes

 David Musto
David MustoEpisode 107: April 12, 2018
Transforming the World of Investing

David Musto

Episode 107: April 12, 2018

Transforming the World of Investing

It seems like every business and industry is experiencing disruption today. Much of the change is driven by technology and data. One field that's being transformed is the world of professional financial planning and investment management. Consumers can now count on technology to guide them in terms of their retirement savings like never before. As a result, the role of the financial advisor is changing. David Musto is President of Ascensus - they provide resources for organizations and companies who help their employees save for retirement. Musto has over 25 years of experience in the retirement, investment, and insurance industries. He joins us today to discuss the exciting changes taking place in the investment management field - changes driven by technology and data.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • How the world of investment management has changed
  • What is the new role of a financial planner
  • How big data has changed investment management
  • What are investment managers doing to create an information advantage
  • Investment performance vs individual outcomes
  • What is the new method of creating a portfolio
  • What makes people pay attention to their investment portfolio
  • What is the rate of adoption for college savings accounts
  • How are data and technology negatively affecting investment planning
  • What should a student or professional do to get into the investment management field
  • What should students do to prepare for retirement

More Podcast Episodes

 Evan Jones
Evan JonesEpisode 106: March 27, 2018
The Evolution of Fender

Evan Jones

Episode 106: March 27, 2018

The Evolution of Fender

If you like music, or play the guitar, you know the great guitarists like Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, and The Edge, Jimmy Hendrix, Bonnie Raitt and Stevie Ray Vaughan. In addition to their talent, they have something else in common: The Fender guitar. For years, rockers and other musicians have relied on Fender to help them belt out killer solos and get audiences on their feet. But like always, music continues to change. While the electric guitar is still popular, many of today's top performers and novices are turning to the acoustic guitar. Evan Jones is the Chief Marketing Officer of Fender. He and his colleagues turn to data analytics to get a better handle on musicians, customers, and prospective customers. After analyzing the data, their creativity took over, and Fender Play was born. Jones joins us today to discuss his marketing career, the always-evolving music business, and how Fender is more relevant than ever, thanks to the community of musicians known as Fender Play.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • What is Evan's marketing background
  • What makes a successful marketer
  • How does storytelling attract customers
  • Who is buying new Fender guitars
  • How has Fender approached customers who abandon their guitars/lessons
  • How do most people learn guitar
  • What is Fender Play
  • How successfully learning the guitar correlates to guitar sales
  • What is the average age of the Fender Play subscriber base
  • How do established artists utilize Fender Play
  • How would Fender describe the Fender Brand Voice

More Podcast Episodes

 David Hunt
David HuntEpisode 105: March 6, 2018
The Path to Entrepreneurship

David Hunt

Episode 105: March 6, 2018

The Path to Entrepreneurship

When you hear the word "entrepreneurship," you may think of a startup where an individual or team generates a great idea that after multiple steps become a business. While many entrepreneurs pursue the startup route, some take another path and look into opportunities available in established businesses. That's what David Hunt did. Years ago, rather than start from scratch, he looked for a business that was ready for a new owner, a new approach, and new ideas. And it worked. Hunt joins us today to discuss entrepreneurship, what it takes to succeed, and how some great businesses are already out there waiting for new leadership.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • What is David's entrepreneurial background
  • What does a patent information service business do
  • What should an entrepreneur look for in an existing business
  • The importance of knowing your strengths as an entrepreneur
  • How an entrepreneur delegates responsibility
  • What is fear of success
  • How important is resilience for an entrepreneur
  • Why networking is important
  • How millennials can succeed as entrepreneurs
  • The benefit of focusing on the customer experience

More Podcast Episodes

 Ken Bouyer
Ken BouyerEpisode 104: February 20, 2018
Winning Through Inclusiveness

Ken Bouyer

Episode 104: February 20, 2018

Winning Through Inclusiveness

Three out of four companies say diversity and inclusion is a priority. But saying it and doing it effectively are two different things. One organization that's out in front in terms of D&I is EY, also known as Ernst & Young - the multinational professional services firm, and one of the big four accounting firms. For years, EY has been committed to recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce, while making employees feel included and heard. Ken Bouyer is EY's Director of Inclusiveness Recruiting for the Americas. He leads the team that finds the best talent on college campuses and elsewhere. For Bouyer and EY, diversity and inclusion is a priority, and as the organization continues its efforts in this arena, it continues to experience success in many other areas as well. Bouyer joins us today to discuss diversity and inclusion, why EY makes the investment, and what you and your organization can learn from it.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • What is Ken Bouyer's background
  • How has a diverse workforce affected Ernst and Young
  • What are companies doing to address diversity and inclusion
  • What do organizations get out of a diverse workforce
  • Why should companies strive for diversity and inclusion
  • How does a diverse workforce affect the bottom line
  • How is diversity and inclusion defined
  • How do you build a culture of inclusivity
  • How has talent recruitment changed over the years
  • What companies can do to tackle unconscious bias
  • The benefits of adopting a global mindset

More Podcast Episodes

 Inga Carboni
Inga CarboniEpisode 103: February 13, 2018
Gender Dynamics in the Workplace

Inga Carboni

Episode 103: February 13, 2018

Gender Dynamics in the Workplace

Sexual harassment. #metoo. Gender communication in the workplace. However you label it, it's become a topic many companies and organizations have placed on the front burner - especially in the past few months. But of all work-related issues professionals face, this topic is proving to be challenging. There doesn't seem to be a universal approach to dealing with the issue. Inga Carboni is a professor of Organizational Behavior at William & Mary's Raymond A. Mason School of Business. Among other things, she helps companies and professionals communicate and interact effectively. She joins us today to discuss what professionals can do to move the sexual harassment discussion - and issue - forward.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • How to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace
  • What shapes an individuals perception of harassment
  • How does power play into harassment
  • How should one prepare themselves to deal with sexual harassment
  • The difficulties of discussing inappropriate behavior
  • What companies should do to create an environment of inclusivity
  • How the #metoo movement has influenced business practices
  • Should the genders have separate discussions regarding harassment
  • How to have healthy cross-gender relationships in the workplace

More Podcast Episodes

 Thomas Taylor
Thomas TaylorEpisode 102: January 17, 2018
The Business of Public Education

Thomas Taylor

Episode 102: January 17, 2018

The Business of Public Education

When you think about K-12 education, you might think about academics, homework, athletics, and other education-related topics. But in many respects, public schools and public school districts are much like companies and businesses. Chesterfield County Public Schools, located just outside Richmond, Virginia, is a large school district with over 7,000 employees serving almost 60,000 students. In order to be successful, it employs a business-like approach to education management. Thomas Taylor is Chesterfield's Chief Academic Officer. Earlier in his career, he was an award-winning teacher and principal. As he climbed the ladder and became a superintendent, he realized he needed more training in business and leadership. So he went back to school and earned his Executive MBA at William & Mary. He joins us today to discuss the business of public school education and how school districts can win when they adopt business practices.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • Thomas Taylor's track to leadership
  • How school districts are large employers
  • How school districts are like regular businesses
  • How large is Chesterfield County Public Schools
  • Are public schools able to make money
  • How the recession affected public school finance
  • What are the big issues today across public education
  • Are we as a nation sending too many students to college
  • Is homeschooling growing or stagnant
  • How is online learning affecting public schools
  • What makes a good parent for a school district
  • What business education do you need to lead a school district

More Podcast Episodes

 Faculty & Staff
Faculty & StaffEpisode 101: December 28, 2017
Good Reads for 2018

Faculty & Staff

Episode 101: December 28, 2017

Good Reads for 2018

As the new year begins, you might spend some time creating lists - lists that include resolutions, goals, and maybe good books to read. That's where this week's podcast comes in. As 2018 kicks off, we spoke to some professors and professional staff members at William & Mary's School of Business and asked them to recommend a book for you and other professionals to read in the new year - a book that can help you in your career. We spoke with three professors, the Head of our Graduate Career Management Center, and the Executive Director of our Executive Partners and compiled a list of six books we think you'll find interesting and helpful in the year ahead.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • "Gifts of Athena: Historical Origins of the Knowledge Economy" by Joel Mokyr
  • "Language and the Pursuit of Leadership Excellence: How Extraordinary Leaders Build Relationships, Shape Culture and Drive Breakthrough Results" by Chalmers Brothers & Vinay Kumar
  • "Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALS Lead and Win" by Willnk & Babbin
  • "Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well Lived, Joyful Life" by Burnett and Evans
  • "Influence" by Robert Chaldini
  • "Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences" by Nancy Duarte

More Podcast Episodes

 Quimby Kaizer
Quimby KaizerEpisode 100: December 20, 2017
Your Why, How & What

Quimby Kaizer

Episode 100: December 20, 2017

Your Why, How & What

The end of another year. A good time for reflection. A good time to examine your life and career. In terms of your profession, one question you may want to ask yourself is: "Why?". Why do you do what you do? And is it the right fit? Our guest today encourages others to take time to examine their "why". Quimby Kaizer is a Principle at KPMG. She recently spoke to MBA students at William & Mary about their "why," and the way it connects with their "what" and "how". The point being, when the three are aligned, you feel happy, fulfilled, and successful.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • What is the principle behind the why, the how, and the what
  • How do the why, how, and what relate to business
  • How can your "why" be applied to obtaining a career
  • How important is someone's "why" to someone's success
  • The importance of passion for a career
  • How to decide between passion for a career vs. a lucrative opportunity
  • Why the "career ladder" is more like a rock wall
  • Why "how do I get promoted" might be the wrong question
  • The benefits of job experiences over advancing titles
  • At what point should someone seek out a management coach
  • What is the Plan Do Check Act model

More Podcast Episodes

 Joanna Stern
Joanna SternEpisode 99: December 12, 2017
In the Elevator With

Joanna Stern

Episode 99: December 12, 2017

In the Elevator With

The elevator. Certainly not one of the great venues for communication. When most of us are in an elevator, we usually look up, look down, or look at our phones. Having a conversation in an elevator is rare and often uncomfortable. In October, the Wall Street Journal changed that when it launched an online video series that has quickly become popular with viewers and leaders. It's called "In the Elevator With". Each episode features a short conversation - around two minutes in length - that takes place in an elevator between reporter Joanna Stern and a business leader. Guests have included the CEOs of General Motors, Intel, and Buzzfeed. Ariana Huffington, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Shaquille O'Neal have been featured on the series. Stern, who is the Wall Street Journal's tech columnist and Deputy Head of Video joins us today to talk about "In the Elevator With," how it's produced, and what it's like to interact with the best in business.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • How "In the Elevator With" was conceived
  • How many questions are asked during a single interview
  • How guests are picked for the show
  • Who is the audience for "In the Elevator With"
  • What has been the audience response to the show
  • How have guests responded to the show
  • Where is "In the Elevator With" filmed
  • Why video is important for journalists
  • How the Wall Street Journal is using video to reach a wider audience
  • How media trained CEOs react to the questions

More Podcast Episodes

 Marcelo Barros
Marcelo BarrosEpisode 98: December 5, 2017
Coming to America

Marcelo Barros

Episode 98: December 5, 2017

Coming to America

Some young professionals living outside the United States today see the American M.B.A. - the Master's Degree in Business Administration - as a pathway to a job, and life, in the U.S. Many of those international students enroll in full-time M.B.A. programs where they quit their jobs, leave home, and study full time on campus for two years. International students are important to U.S. business schools. Among other things, they bring diversity, a global viewpoint, and tuition dollars to the business school. Depending on the full-time M.B.A. program, international students make up one-third to one-half of the student body. But getting a job in the U.S. can be a challenge for them. Marcelo Barros works with international students to help them find work in the U.S. He's a coach, consultant, and author of "The International Advantage: Get Noticed, Get Hired." He joins us today to talk about how international students can find work after graduation. 

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • How the government makes it difficult for businesses to hire international workers
  • What has changed for the H1B Visa
  • What companies have to go through to hire an international applicant
  • The risks of hiring a worker on an H1B Visa
  • Sponsoring companies vs non-sponsoring companies
  • The importance of networking for international students
  • What is an informational interview
  • Informational interview best practices
  • Are there limits to requests for informational interviews
  • The benefits of being frank and honest
  • How competence and vulnerability can co-exist
  • How often should an international student network

More Podcast Episodes

 Dr. Kelly Crace
Dr. Kelly CraceEpisode 97: November 28, 2017
Human Flourishing

Dr. Kelly Crace

Episode 97: November 28, 2017

Human Flourishing

When it comes to your life and your career, how are you doing? Would you say you are flourishing? Most people don't use that term to describe their life, career, and mindset. In fact, most of us are chronic evaluators. We spend much of our time judging ourselves, and when we do that, it becomes difficult to flourish. Our guest today helps professionals and students get to a deeper place - to a consistent level of productivity, fulfillment, and resilience. A place of human flourishing. Dr. Kelly Crace is Associate Vice President for Health and Wellness at William & Mary, and joins us today to discuss human flourishing, and how you can move to a different - and better - level.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • What does it mean to flourish
  • What do people who flourish strive for
  • How does the Authentic Excellence Initiative assist in flourishing
  • What traits must a person have to flourish
  • Who is the type of person that flourishes
  • What kind of relationship must one have with one's values
  • How often should one reassess one's values
  • The difference between aspirational vs operational values
  • What is the relationship between values and fear
  • The importance of managing stress vs reducing stress
  • How do you thrive and flourish through grief, loss, and heartbreak
  • Chronic evaluative vs expressive mindsets
  • How do you change how you process fear neurologically

More Podcast Episodes

 Dianne Greene
Dianne GreeneEpisode 96: November 21, 2017
Millennials at Work

Dianne Greene

Episode 96: November 21, 2017

Millennials at Work

Millennials, the generation whose members are between the ages of 16 and 38, make up the largest percentage of the population. By 2020, researchers say almost half of all U.S. workers will be Millennials. And while there's no doubt Millennials are here and their impact continues to grow, many organizations and companies struggle to attract and retain members of the generation. One organization that has it figured out is ADP, the Fortune 500 company that offers human capital management services, payroll services, HR software, and tax & compliant services for businesses around the world. Dianne Greene is Division Vice President and General Manager of ADP in Norfolk, Virginia. Seventy percent of her employees are Millennials. Greene joins us today to discuss the little things and the big things ADP does to attract and retain high-quality Millennial talent.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • How is ADP helping to revitalize downtown Norfolk
  • How does ADP approach hiring Millennials
  • What attracts Millennials to ADP
  • What do Millennials value in a workplace
  • How do you best train Millennials
  • How is the workplace changing due to the influence of Millennials
  • What is the best way to manage expectations for Millennials
  • How long do Millennials expect to work before being promoted
  • How does ADP help new employees adjust to a large workplace
  • How can Millennials get a good first job

More Podcast Episodes

 Ryan Malone
Ryan MaloneEpisode 95: November 8, 2017
The Remote Workforce

Ryan Malone

Episode 95: November 8, 2017

The Remote Workforce

Over the past few years, organizations have wrestled with the concept of remote employment - having employees who work from home. Much has been written about the effectiveness of the remote worker, and how to lead a remote - or virtual - team. A recent Gallup study revealed that more Americans are working remotely, yet not all industries and organizations have embraced the concept. As many companies struggle to find the sweet spot, one organization has gone all-in with a 100% remote workforce, and it's been a big success. SmartBug Media is an award-winning, full-service inbound marketing agency with clients in several industries. Its CEO founded SmartBug to provide clients with outstanding results while offering employees a fulfilling life outside the office. SmartBug Media CEO Ryan Malone joins us today to discuss how a fully remote workforce can produce winning results.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • What is SmartBug Media
  • What is inbound marketing
  • Why does SmartBug Media have a 100% remote workforce
  • What are the benefits of a remote workforce
  • How to create culture in a remote workforce
  • What kind of person makes a good remote worker
  • How do clients react to a remote workforce
  • What are SmartBug Media's 5 values
  • Which industries are a good fit for a remote workforce
  • What are the stumbling blocks in setting up a remote workforce

More Podcast Episodes

 Bill Crawford
Bill CrawfordEpisode 94: September 29, 2017
The CEO

Bill Crawford

Episode 94: September 29, 2017

The CEO

What makes an effective CEO effective? For Bill Crawford, CEO of United Bank, it means realizing you don't have to know the answer. Instead, you need to know where to find it. Crawford credits much of his success to the talented people with whom he surrounds himself. He's quick to say he's far from the smartest person in the room. Thanks to his leadership and round-table culture, where everyone's encouraged to participate, United Bank has gone from $1.7 billion to $7 billion in assets. As CEO, Crawford focuses on helping employees and customers succeed. He also has a real passion for banking - one that began in college. He joins us today to discuss the role of the CEO, how he approaches his position, and how people make the difference.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • How Bill became the youngest pilot in America
  • Who at William & Mary encouraged him to pursue banking
  • Do you have to love an industry to become a CEO
  • What qualities should a CEO seek in employees
  • How to give employees agency in decision making
  • What can you do to get everyone to participate and give their opinion
  • What you can learn from ineffective bosses
  • What an average day for a CEO is like
  • How can a CEO still learn while on the job
  • The myth of the CEO being the smartest person in the room
  • How to recruit millennials

More Podcast Episodes

 Margaret Liptay & Terry Shannon
Margaret Liptay & Terry ShannonEpisode 93: September 22, 2017
Working with a Leadership Coach

Margaret Liptay & Terry Shannon

Episode 93: September 22, 2017

Working with a Leadership Coach

It's difficult to reach your goals by yourself. We all need help along the way. The best quarterbacks in football work with quarterback coaches. The best actors have acting coaches. And in business, the best leaders have leadership coaches. At some point in your career, you may decide to work with a leadership coach. It might be your idea, or your employer may make the suggestion. Either way, finding a leadership coach and creating a one-on-one collaborative relationship with the coach can have a dramatically positive effect on your career. Today we're joined by two certified leadership coaches: Margaret Liptay is CEO of MLC Consulting; Terry Shannon is Executive Director of the Executive Partners here at William & Mary's Raymond A. Mason School of Business. The Executive Partners provide leadership coaching to the students in the business school. They join us today to discuss how they work with their clients and what you should expect from your leadership coach.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • What is the prime facet of leadership coaching
  • What do William & Mary's Executive Partners do
  • What it's like to have a leadership coach later in life
  • How do you find a leadership coach
  • How long will a leadership coaching session last
  • What is the relationship between a leadership coach and client
  • What are the core components of coaching
  • What is global listening
  • When is a good time in a career to take on a leadership coach
  • How much of a time investment is having a leadership coach
  • What's the difference between career counseling and leadership coaching
  • How is coaching a new MBA student different from coaching a seasoned executive
  • What is the difference between coaching and mentoring
  • What is some advice for those who want to be a leadership coach
  • How do you pick the right leadership coach

More Podcast Episodes

 Jon Doyle
Jon DoyleEpisode 92: September 14, 2017
Remembering September 11

Jon Doyle

Episode 92: September 14, 2017

Remembering September 11

Sixteen years ago this week, terrorists attacked the United States. Four airlines were hijacked - two of the planes crashed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Almost three thousand people were killed, six thousand injured. In 2001, Jon Doyle worked at the investment banking firm Sandler O'Neill, whose offices were located on the 104th floor of Tower 2. Sixty-six of Sandler O'Neill's 171 employees died as a result of the attacks. But the people in the organization, while honoring their lost colleagues, kept on going. They went back to work the very next day. With the memory of their friends front and center, Sandler O'Neill found a way to not only move forward but to grow and succeed. Today, Jon Doyle is Senior Managing Principle of Sandler O'Neill & Partners and joins us to discuss the events of sixteen years ago, how he and his colleagues honor their lost friends, and how the organization embraced resilience.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • What it was like on the morning of September 11
  • How did Sandler O'Neill react to the terror attack
  • Why Sandler O'Neill's reopened the next morning
  • How Sandler O'Neill's culture changed afterwards
  • Did any good come from the tragedy
  • How Sandler O'Neill came together after the attack
  • How good leaders can lead in times of chaos
  • The importance of thinking clearly during stressful times

More Podcast Episodes

 Faculty & Staff
Faculty & StaffEpisode 91: July 25, 2017
Summer Reads

Faculty & Staff

Episode 91: July 25, 2017

Summer Reads

Summer is flying by, but there is still time to get to the beach, escape to the mountains, or take a road trip. Whatever you plan to do in the remaining weeks of the summer of 2017, you might want to take a book along to listen to or read during your travels. This week on the podcast we asked some of the faculty and staff here at William & Mary's Raymond A. Mason School of Business what books they recommend to professionals.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • "Little Bets" by Peter Sims
  • "A Leader's Legacy" by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner
  • "Designing Your Life" by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
  • "Option B" by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
  • "Flight Capital" by David Heenan
  • "Fighting Talk" by Colin Gray
  • "Bruno, Chief of Police" by Martin Walker

More Podcast Episodes

 Alice Davison
Alice DavisonEpisode 90: July 18, 2017
The Job Interview

Alice Davison

Episode 90: July 18, 2017

The Job Interview

The summer. For many, the summer months are dedicated to a job search - especially those who have recently graduated from college. But for both rookies and experienced professionals, the job interview is a challenging and stressful part of the equation. Seems as though each interview is a challenging and stressful part of the equation. Seems as though each interview is somewhat different from the one before. So what's the best way to prepare, and what do employers expect from candidates before and during the interview? Alice Davison has some great insight and experience when it comes to interviewing. She's Vice President, Global Business Services at the Capital Group in New York City, where she manages global recruiting for investment roles in equity and fixed income groups. She's had several roles in human resources throughout her career and joins us today to share interesting and helpful advice - especially for the young professional - on the qualities employers seek and their expectations for the job interview.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes
Show Notes
  • What is the role of a Human Resources manager
  • How to interview for an investment management position
  • What makes a good investment manager
  • How to learn resiliency
  • What happens when you push people
  • The benefits of failing
  • How to turn a failure into a positive experience
  • How to prep for a multi-person interview
  • What you can learn about a company from the interview

More Podcast Episodes