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.

 Kim Lopdrup
Kim LopdrupEpisode 163: October 20, 2021
Successful Turnarounds

Kim Lopdrup

Episode 163: October 20, 2021

Successful Turnarounds

Virtually every leader has been faced with a turnaround situation - bringing a failing organization back to its former successful state. Or finding a high-quality solution to a problem that can no longer continue. A new leader is brought in to direct the turnaround situation in some instances. In other cases, the current leadership team is expected to get things back on track. And most often sooner rather than later. Because turnarounds are challenging, complex, and often situation-dependent, each one is unique. But all turnarounds have one thing in common: They require effective leadership. As Rosabeth Moss Kantor wrote in Harvard Business Review, "turnarounds are where leadership matters most." Kim Lopdrup knows how to lead turnarounds. He successfully faced a number of them in his career at Red Lobster, where he served as CEO for 14 years across two different stints before retiring this past summer. Under his watch, Red Lobster has more than exceeded expectations through the pandemic. He joins us today to talk about the elements of successful turnarounds, including communicating with employees, believing in the plan, and getting it done quickly.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • Which organizations Kim has successfully led turnarounds
  • What are some key steps to a successful turnaround
  • How Kim and his team were able to turnaround Baskin Robbins in Japan
  • The importance of retaining employees
  • How to decide who should be on a leadership turnaround team
  • How do you motivate leaders to help with a turnaround
  • Is there a standard time frame for a turnaround
  • What does navigating a successful turnaround do to team dynamics
  • The role of confidence in regards to decision-making
Transcript

Kim Lopdrup: Successful Turnarounds 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. Well, virtually every leader has been faced with a turnaround situation, bringing a failing organization back to its former successful state or finding a high-quality solution to a problem that can no longer continue. A new leader is brought in to direct the turnaround situation in some instances. In other cases, the current leadership team is expected to get things back on track and most often sooner rather than later. Because turnarounds are challenging, complex, and often situation-dependent, each one is unique, but all turnarounds have one thing in common. They require effective leadership. As Rosabeth Moss Canter wrote in Harvard Business Review, turnarounds are where leadership matters most. Kim Lopdrup knows how to lead turnarounds. He successfully faced a number of them in his career at Red Lobster, where he served as CEO for 14 years across two different stints before retiring this past summer. Under his watch, Red Lobster has more than exceeded expectations through the pandemic. He joins us today to talk about the elements of successful turnarounds, including communicating with employees, believing in the plan, and getting it done quickly. Here's our conversation with the recently retired CEO of Red Lobster, Kim Lopdrup.

Ken White

Well, Kim, thanks for joining us, and welcome back to William & Mary. It's nice to have you back.

Kim Lopdrup

Thank you. It's great to be back, Ken.

Ken White

And you'll be seeing some students later on today. I'm sure that'll just be a lot of fun for you.

Kim Lopdrup

Yes, I'll be in Professor Ron Hess's class. Really looking forward to that.

Ken White

When you and I talked about sitting down again for the podcast, we thought turnarounds might be an interesting topic. You've led quite a few of these in your career. Tell us about that.

Kim Lopdrup

Yeah, actually, I've been part of five turnarounds at this point. The first was when actually my first chance to be CEO. I was CEO of what really the international division of Dunkin Brands, which was Dunkin Donuts, Baskin Robbins. The business was losing money, and the parent company frankly lost confidence in it and said the assignment was, please stop losing money quickly. And we did within 90 days and went on to get profits 82% above the previous record in about three years. The second one, I was not CEO, but Chief Operating Officer at Burger King, which was suffering declining same sort of sales. The parent company was looking to sell it, and we were able to turn around same thing. Get the trend from like minus five to plus five. Get the company restaurants from being some of the lowest-performing in the system to some of the best performing in the system. Third one was at Red Lobster, where the brand had really kind of become dated and suffering declining results, and Wall Street had lost confidence in it. When I joined, there was an analyst report from one of the investment banks titled Dead Lobster. But we were able to build a very comprehensive turnaround that dramatically improved the guest experience and updated the brand, and led to the seven most profitable years that the brand had to date and then went off and did some other things, other assignments at Darden and the parent company at the time. But while I was away, unfortunately, things eroded at Red Lobster, and they decided they were going to either spin it off or sell it. Asked if I wanted to be CEO, so we sold it to a private equity firm. I came back as CEO for a second seven-year stint, it turned out, and we were able to again get it turned around quickly by dealing with solving some of the mistakes that had been made and really improving the kitchen and the quality of the food and building the off-premise business. And then the third turnaround was really one sparked by COVID, where the government required that we closed all of our dining rooms across the U.S.

Ken White

Wow.

Kim Lopdrup

And then, of course, that's not very good for sales in a casual dining restaurant. So we work to triple our off-premise business and make some very rapid pivots to putting in rapid red curbside pickup, touchless delivery. Areas of opportunity and we simplified our business model, and we were able to get through the crisis and refinance the business. And anyway, those are the five turnarounds.

Ken White

Wow. Fantastic. So what's the key to success, so to speak? When you're thinking of a turnaround? What made things work for you?

Kim Lopdrup

Well, by definition, if you're in a turnaround, you're in a crisis, so you have to very quickly take steps that will, first of all, retain your employees. The key ones are going to be successful who are key to making you successful in the future. And so they need to understand what the current situation is because you're going to have to do some tough things, and they need to know why you're going to have to do tough things. They then need to see you've got a solution to the problem pretty quickly because their patience is thin. Actually, I remember with the first turnaround of the international division of Duncan Brands when I took over, they've recently done an employee survey, and an alarming percentage of employees didn't really expect to be there in three years. And it was a situation where we were losing a lot of money because of the financial crisis that had hit Russia and East Asia. But what we were able to do is I took 30 days to decide which of my senior team was going to be on the team.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Kim Lopdrup

And we then took and to work together with a team to come up with a future plan. Took 30 days, and in that 30 days, we not only simplified the senior team, but we looked at all of our markets around the world based on whether we thought we could have a future there or not. And we looked at the unit economics of the business, the growth potential of the business. Obviously, if there was a lot of growth potential and good economics, we would fund those markets. If it was low potential and bad economics, we would exit those markets. If it was good economics but limited potential, we would support them in a really efficient way. If you had a market with a lot of theoretical potential, but the economics weren't working. You'd figure out, can we change the business model? Japan Baskin Robins Japan was an example of that, where it actually was a public company. And following the bust, they had years of decline in Japan, and the stores had lost average sales, and they'd raise prices to try to make up for it. And we did decline to like half, I think from 500 units to 322, and those 322 were only breaking even. But we were able to figure out we backed into the solution. We said we have to grow. We're operating our factory at way too low utilization. We have to grow. We think we need a 30% ROI to the franchisee to get people to invest to grow. But we're only at break-even right now. We knew we had a new design, a store design that could raise sales 15%, but that wasn't nearly enough, and we've actually backed in to give franchisees 30% ROI. We'd have to cut ice cream prices by 23%, and our J.V. was already only at break-even. So we backed into okay, how do we save money to enable a 23% price reduction? And we went to franchisees and said, tell you what, if you invest to remodel your restaurant to this design, we'll cut your ice cream prices 23%. They all signed up. They all signed up, and we were able to over-deliver on our cost savings targets. And it turned out that 15% sales increase. Well, that was the year one number. It was 20% if you include the year two growth. So we dramatically turned around Japan, there are over 1000 stores now and very profitable.

Ken White

Wow.

Kim Lopdrup

But here's the thing. We took 90 days to implement that plan. So on day 90, we were above break-even again, and we were able to tell communicate to employees why we were going to have to do some painful things but assure them there were no other shoes to drop. And we kept that promise. And surprisingly, on our next employee feedback survey, the percentage of people planning to be with a business in three years had tripled despite the fact there were some tough things. I thought I was going to be viewed as Darth Vader. This is my first time doing it. I thought I was going to be vilified for having to part company with some employees who've been around a long time, which we had to.

Ken White

But like you said to say that no other shoe is going to drop. And then you follow through, that's huge.

Kim Lopdrup

Right, and we saved a lot of jobs we wouldn't have saved had we not taken decisive action.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Kim Lopdrup in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. You know, the great resignation of 2021 continues as record numbers of people are leaving their jobs. Gallup reports, almost half of all professionals in the U.S. have their eyes on other opportunities. If your company or organization is interested in retaining your best people, consider enrolling them in one of our MBA programs for working professionals. William & Mary's online MBA, the part-time MBA, and executive MBA programs are all designed for the professional who works full time. So both the employee and the organization benefit. Employees expect to feel supported by their employers. Show them your organization cares by investing in their growth. Check out the MBA program at William & Mary by visiting wm.edu. Now back to our conversation with Kim Lopdrup, the former CEO of Red Lobster.

Ken White

What's interesting about your store you never said I it was always we. It sounds to me like your team was extremely important to you in this. How do you choose the team? How do you decide?

Kim Lopdrup

Well, first of all, it was a great team. And the interesting thing is, they were all there when I came in as CEO. I had to part company with some people because we had more people than we should have had, and that made it too hard to make decisions. Some of those people had contributed to the problems, frankly. But in life, it's easy to say. I wish I had all perfect people, but yet I'm not one, and I haven't met one. You got to make it work in a turnaround. You really don't have the time to totally rebuild a team. You've got to figure out it's like an Apollo 13 when they had all the systems go out, flight director Gene Kranz says, well, what is working and start with that.

Ken White

What type of motivations involved? If I'm one of those team members, I kind of contributed to getting us in this spot, right? And now you're looking at me to get us out. So, where's the psychology and the motivation? Where's that play into that?

Kim Lopdrup

Well, first of all, you don't go in blaming people. That's completely unproductive. You have to focus on what we're all in this together. Failure is just not an option. For all of us to have jobs, but more importantly than us for all the people in the organization to have jobs, for this organization to have a bright future. We have got to get through this, and you have to be willing to look at all options, including those that are painful. And what's fascinating is what I found is when you explain to the organization what needs to be done and why they actually are willing to accept a pretty high degree of pain to get to a bright future. But you can't come out and just shock them. Like when we were reorganizing, and we were going to make some jobs go away. We didn't just blindside people with it. We actually told them we were going through this process. We were looking. We'd give them an answer on a certain day. Nobody was blindsided. And I think that is so important as you're leading an organization along the way, giving people foreshadowing what the next step is and then directly telling them, so they're not surprised. Credibility is everything, building and maintaining credibility. And to do that, you can't surprise people even on bad news.

Ken White

Yeah. I mean, the trust that builds is incredible. Speed, you're saying 90 days, 30 days, boy, that's fast.

Kim Lopdrup

People can put up with uncertainty, but only for so long. You have to move extremely quickly in dealing with a crisis. Some people are dusting off their resume, sending it to other employers if they're not sure about the future. So you have to compress that time by articulating a clear vision and then following through on it. Now, sometimes you have the problem. Well, gosh, to figure out the very best solution, that's going to take all this research and this time. Well, actually, I had a boss once, Joe Lee at Red Lobster, who once said, if you know, you need to be over in the other corner of the room someplace, but you're not sure the exact spot. You might as well start walking and then figure out the exact spot as you get closer. So on that first turnaround at Red Lobster. Interestingly. We looked at our research, and we said, Gosh, the most important things to consumers are that the food be fresh, that the restaurant be clean, the service be friendly. Those are the three most important things. And our gap versus our targeted competitors was widest on those three things. It was pretty obvious we needed to work on those three things.

Ken White

Yeah.

Kim Lopdrup

And so phase one was fresh, clean, and friendly, and a whole bunch of things designed to enable that. But over time, through research, refined a more precise and more compelling brand vision that was built around that but in far more detail. You remember the old Polaroid pictures where you take the picture, and it's like, well, okay. I think I can see there's sort of a car there, and there's sort of a house over on this other corner. But then it just gets clearer and clearer and clearer. And that's sort of the approach we took. There was a vision, but it was blurry

Ken White

Right.

Kim Lopdrup

in the early days. But then, as we got more research, we were able to clarify it for people and ultimately lead people through a transition that got pretty remarkable improvements in guest satisfaction and allowed us to outperform the industry by a pretty strong margin over a seven-year period.

Ken White

What'd that do to the team? I mean, when you experience something as a team, they tend to get a little closer and turnarounds like that when you come out the other end, a winner. What's that do to team dynamics?

Kim Lopdrup

Well, it obviously helps a lot. When things are not going well, unfortunately, people tend to start pointing fingers at everybody but themselves. But when things are working, people are really happy to take the credit. And I think it is important to give the credit to the team. And I think finger pointing is completely, utterly unproductive. But the other thing is, it builds confidence. When you go through a turnaround, it builds confidence. And one of the things I've learned in life is that because, candidly, when I was a William & Mary student, I wasn't a terribly confident individual. And you started getting some successes, actually, here at William & Mary that built confidence and led to greater challenges that built more confidence. And now I'd say I'm pretty high on that scale. But to lead other people effectively, confidence is actually one of the biggest determinants of success because everybody will have massive challenges and struggles in life. I don't know anybody. I know lots of incredibly successful people. I don't know anybody who hasn't gone through extreme challenges,

Ken White

Sure.

Kim Lopdrup

but what allows them to keep going that they're confident. They can overcome things. People who start companies, they have to be confident, they can succeed, or they won't even try. And to lead other people, people look you in the eye, and they say, do you really believe we can do this? You can't fool them. They can see right there. At least I can't fool them. Having that inner confidence that people can see is absolutely critical to leading others successfully. So it's kind of like Tom Brady just completed his 50th game-winning drive the other day for Tampa, and he's got all these comebacks. But when he gets in these impossible situations, it's like, yeah, we've done that before. No problem.

Ken White

Yup.

Kim Lopdrup

And he just calmly keeps doing what he needs to do. Anyway, those situations build confidence that makes people better equipped for the next challenges that come along.

Ken White

There's always times where the confidence is waning a little bit, right? You're just not feeling super confident tomorrow, as you might feel today. And we all hear about the imposter syndrome. There's got to be times where you're saying I'm right. Right? What do you do in those situations?

Kim Lopdrup

First of all, I'd say choose your assignments wisely because what I found is that if I'm working on something that I truly believe is incredibly important, you start to forget about. Well, what are the risks here? You're doing it because it's important, and it's necessary that you be successful. And when you get to that point, you quit thinking about the risk. But it's really important that you choose an employer, a job, an assignment. That's something you're really passionate about, and say no to those things that you really don't care about because you won't be a great leader unless you are passionate about it.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Kim Lopdrup, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Companies, organizations, and businesses are seeking professionals who think strategically, communicate effectively and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and more in the William & Mary MBA program offered in four formats, the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive MBA. Check out the William & Mary MBA program to learn more. Finally, we'd like 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, Kim Lopdrup, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

More Podcast Episodes

 Atul Minocha
Atul MinochaEpisode 162: October 6, 2021
Lies, Damned Lies & Marketing

Atul Minocha

Episode 162: October 6, 2021

Lies, Damned Lies & Marketing

What does your CEO think about marketing? Or if you’re the CEO, what do YOU think about marketing? The way CEOs position marketing and the way they partner with the Chief Marketing Officer has a huge effect on results and the bottom line. Unfortunately, though, for many CEOs, marketing is nothing more than a source of frustration. In some cases, the marketing team has overpromised and under delivered. In other cases, the leader struggles with the investment marketing requires. Whatever the case, it can be disappointing to the CEO. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The CEO and CMO can be close partners, working together to generate positive results. Atul Minocha is a partner at Chief Outsiders, a marketing consulting firm. He’s also the author of “Lies, Damned Lies & Marketing,” a book recognized by Inc Magazine as one of 8 books to sharpen your strategic thinking. He says with help, CEOs can understand the benefits of marketing by partnering with their CMO and utilizing their dollars for real results.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What was Atul's process for writing "Lies, Damned Lies & Marketing"
  • How COVID affected Atul's consulting practice
  • What drew Atul to the CEO/CMO relationship for his book
  • What causes distrust between CEOs and CMOs
  • The importance of a CMO forging a positive relationship with a CEO
  • Why there's confusion between sales and marketing
  • The difference between "bigger marketing" and "smaller marketing"
  • How involved should a CEO be in their marketing department
Transcript

Atul Minocha: Lies, Damned Lies & Marketing 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. What does your CEO think about marketing, or if you're the CEO, what do you think about marketing? Well, the way CEOs position marketing and the way they partner with the Chief Marketing Officer has a huge effect on results and the bottom line. Unfortunately, though, for many CEOs, marketing is nothing more than a source of frustration. In some cases, the marketing team has overpromised and underdelivered. In other cases, the leader struggles with the investment marketing requires. Whatever the case, it can be disappointing to the CEO, but it doesn't have to be that way. The CEO and CMO can be close partners working together to generate positive results. Atul Minocha is a partner at Chief Outsiders, a marketing consulting firm. He's also the author of Lies, Damned Lies, and Marketing, a book recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of eight books to sharpen your strategic thinking. He says, with help, CEOs can understand the benefits of marketing by partnering with their CMO and utilizing their dollars for real results. Here's our conversation with Atul Minocha.

Ken White

Atul, thank you very much for sharing your time with us. It's nice to see you today. Thanks for being here.

Atul Minocha

Thank you, Dr. White. Glad to be here.

Ken White

Before we dive into the book, we have so many of our listeners who are great professionals and subject matter experts. They could probably write a book. And so I love to ask some of our authors who are our guests. How'd you do it? What was your process of writing?

Atul Minocha

A great question, actually. I think two paths. One is just building up to writing the book and then writing the book. Right. So building up part was that as I was practicing my craft of marketing consulting and helping other businesses use marketing effectively, I discovered that there was a gap in the understanding at the CEO level of what marketing is and what it can do versus what they thought it was. So it's not as if they got it wrong, but they definitely had an incomplete picture. So I kept on sort of saying, These are the things that I need to inform my CEOs about when I get a chance. And of course, I was doing it as I went along, and the list kept growing and growing and growing. But I never put a stop to it because, heck, the list was growing. So you don't want to cut short anything good, right. Then COVID happened. And then I said, you know what? I think now is the time to directly put it in a book form. So that was when the decision was made. Part of my thinking about writing the book was that I felt that my consulting business was going to go down. But actually, it did not. So what happened is when I signed up with the publisher to write the book, my thinking was that I'll have more time. I can write the book, and it could be a good, productive use of my COVID stay-at-home kind of time period. But since it didn't happen that way, I had to switch gears. Now I'm answering the second part of the question as to how did I actually write? So when I had to switch gears, I switched to the process, which was a little more extensive, but it was a little less time-consuming. So instead of literally writing for 2 hours every day, which was what I was beginning to do. I realized that it's much faster if I actually gave an interview or if I spoke to somebody who actually wrote it for me. So for the first two, three, four weeks, the person transcribed so-called scribe, sort of we worked back and forth to make sure that he actually got my voice, he got my tone, he got my style. And then, after all, after all that, it was simply a matter of speaking to him, you know, an hour, an hour and a half, once a week, or twice a week. And that's how the book came about.

Ken White

Excellent. Well, it's fantastic. You know, recently featured in Inc magazine as one of eight books that sharpen your strategic thinking. Boy, that's nice to have that attached to the book. Yeah, it's interesting.

Atul Minocha

It is very nice to be attached to books, which are other books which are on that list. I'm the only first-time author on that list. So I feel, talk about impostor syndrome. I think this is the perfect case of that.

Ken White

So why did you decide to focus on this? This CMO CEO sort of relationship? What was it about that that you like?

Atul Minocha

I think it's extremely important for any CMO to be successful that they have a very positive and a two-way relationship between CEO and CMO. It's not that the CMO has to worship the CEO. CEO also has to have respect for CMO. Otherwise, they're not going to do what the CMO is going to recommend. In my work experience, I realized that it was extremely important to have that positive, healthy relationship, even to the point where if you disagreed, you could say it so and explain why you're disagreeing. And it cuts both ways. And I found that the foundation for that relationship for that healthy relationship was missing in most instances, especially in small to mid-sized companies. Why? Because for various reasons, previous experiences that CEOs had had with marketing was less than positive. So they actually had very low opinion of what marketing is or what marketing can do. And there was a fair bit of misunderstanding. There was a fair bit of gap in understanding. And that was what I was trying to fill in.

Ken White

Why? What causes that this many CEOs to have that less than positive experience? What were some of the issues that you saw?

Atul Minocha

I think there are a few reasons for that. And some of the I don't want to call it blame, but some of the attribution perhaps lies on the CEO side. Much of it lies on the marketing lead side. So on the CEO side, the reason could be that A marketing is if you look at sort of all the MBA kind of functions right. Production, marketing, finance, accounting, HR. Marketing is perhaps the one which is the broadest in terms of you can sort of say this is marketing and that is also marketing. Whereas in most of the functions, it's slightly more narrow. So many CEOs don't have the full understanding of what marketing is. I'll give you an example most CEOs think of marketing as, oh yeah. When I think of website, I think marketing, but when they think of what new products they should launch three years from now, five years from now, they don't think necessarily of marketing. What new markets to go after. They don't think of that as a marketing function. They'd rather talk to the CFO and say, I'm thinking of going to Asia, or I'm thinking I'm going to Lithuania, but they will probably not bring in the marketing guy or Gal. Do you think there's a market for this in Lithuania? So I think there's that sort of incompleteness in CEO's understanding. But then a big part of the attribution for this misunderstanding is on the CMO side, and that's or the marketing lead side that often many of my peers and I'd probably have been guilty of this myself some time in the past. Where I may have overpromised that yup, marketing can do this. Why? Because I just wanted to get out of that hot atmosphere in the CEO's office or get away from the stare of the CEO. Or I was put in that spot in a leadership team meeting where everybody was signing up for something good. And I didn't want to be the only one, as the naysayers. I also said, yeah, I think we can do so. We tend to over-promise sometimes, and that leads to dissatisfaction. So I think those are some of the main causes of why CEOs have had some bad experiences in the past.

Ken White

So what advice do you give to the CMO? We could easily say don't over-promise. But I get that I could see being at the table and saying, I want to add, I want to show my value. How do you coach the CMO in that sort of a situation?

Atul Minocha

The way I would coach the CMOs is that don't be so short-term-focused. In other words, it may be an easy way out for you to say yes and sign up. And then when you get to your office, you yourself are sweating as how the heck am I going to deliver this? It's better to take time, and it's better to actually build that relationship with your CEO. That when you do say no or when you do say we need to rethink this, the CEO has respect for you. He said, you know what, since you are saying it, why don't we spend some time together? Why don't we go out for lunch? And maybe you can explain to me why you think this may not be the best thing. So it really starts by building that relationship or having that relationship so that you can actually explain to the CEO how it actually works, as opposed to simply saying yes, sir, or yes, ma'am.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Atul Minocha in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Our world continues to change, meaning new skills and new approaches are required. Well, those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different formats in the MBA, including the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive, all taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty. The William & Mary MBA will prepare you to succeed and lead in our continuously changing world. Check out the MBA program at William & Mary by visiting wm.edu. Now back to our conversation with Atul Minocha, author of Lies, Damned Lies, and Marketing.

Ken White

Is there any confusion among many CEOs that you've seen between sales and marketing?

Atul Minocha

Oh, absolutely. I mean, on one hand, sales and marketing have to work together. So when people think of sales and marketing, the fact that they say it almost without losing a breath is a good thing. But on the other hand, when people use the word sales and marketing, what they're really saying is sales. And the reason I say that is because sales is about making something happen right away. Marketing is about making something happen, maybe a little bit down the road. So urgent always wins over important, as Steven Covey might say. So sales always wins.

Ken White

Walk us through the book a little bit. What were some of the main topics? What were you trying to get through to your reader in the book?

Atul Minocha

Yeah. If I can share a little secret. And I think I already told you how the book germinated.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Atul Minocha

So there are about 19 chapters in the book. They did not occur in my head in that sequence. In fact, the first seed was planted in what is now chapter 14 in the book. So sort of that's where it started, and then it kept expanding. So when I started to write the book, I realized that it cannot be sort of a random list of the way it thoughts and my experiences occurred because they occurred in that sequence only based on what kind of projects I was doing when. So there was really no sequence to that other than circumstances. So I broke it up into what we at our company Chief Outsiders called Big M marketing and small M marketing. So let me explain what that is. So small  M marketing is actually the most visible part of marketing. If you talk to anybody who's not from marketing, if you ask them what is marketing, they'll say it's the website, it's the logos, it's the advertising, it's the Facebook thing, it's the LinkedIn thing. It's the fade show. It's the radio ad. It's the Billboard. That is marketing. But the way I look at that is, yes, that is marketing. But that's what we call small M marketing or the tactical side of marketing. But then there's a big M marketing, which is the most strategic foundational part, which is what segments to go after? Who are your segments? What are the customer's pain points? How should you price it? What channels should you use? Those kind of big M marketing questions are very important. So I actually structured my thoughts. Those 19 chapters is in either big M or small M, or the ones that sort of transcend those two put them in the third category of big M and small M, so that's how the book is laid out.

Ken White

Interesting. I'm guessing; correct me if I'm wrong, do some CEOs focus or some CMOS focus on the little M more so than the big M, and could that cause some issues?

Atul Minocha

Absolutely. Absolutely. In fact, I would say nine out of ten CEOs focus on small M. And if you explain to them the big M and small M, they'll say, yeah, intellectually, I agree with you, but I really want you to do this on the small M side. In other words, they don't want to invest the time on the big M because that looks like a little nebulous. What will I get out of that? My answer to that is there's somebody who said 60, 70 of years ago that I know half of the marketing dollars are wasted. The only problem is I don't know which half is wasted. So that's what I use to explain the value of big M. If you just focus on small M, you'll end up with wasting at least half the dollars. If you spend a little bit of time, not too much, a little bit of time, maybe 10% of your overall marketing time and 10% of your overall marketing budget on big M, you are very likely to improve that 50% waste stage down to maybe 20%, maybe 10%. You'll probably never bring it down to zero. But heck, if you can get you know 40 50% improvement on your marketing spend, that's a heck of an ROI.

Ken White

How deep into the spend the details should a CEO be?

Atul Minocha

It really depends on the CEO's personality. Let me sort of turn the question around a little bit. It's not so much how much detail they should get into. What I would like the CEO  to do is get into as much detail as you want, but don't start from the weeds. It would be my point. In other words, let your marketing person have an overview and spend some time both the CEO and the CMO. As to why are we even doing this? Instead of sort of saying, let's get to what can we do in social media? Why aren't we doing social media? Do our prospects at least spend time on social media and with social media? I mean, I've run into so many instances where they'll say, okay, we'll have LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter on our website. But are your prospects or customers even spending time on Instagram? I mean, I have nothing against Instagram, but I'm saying use what's useful, not because everybody is using it. Therefore, I should use it too.

Ken White

That's interesting, and some of your responses, it shows that a close relationship between these two individuals can really pay off. How do you create that? Have you given advice to CEOs on getting closer to the CMO and spending more time?

Atul Minocha

Yeah. So in my current role as a partner in a consulting firm, I work with CEOs. And the truth is that that relationship is, for the most part, very easy to establish because the CEO has hired you. In fact, if that relationship is not there, the project will end pretty soon. So that's kind of an obvious way that if the relationship is there, the project is there. If the relationship is not there, you just part company and go on separate ways. I think the more difficult challenge is in a corporate environment. That you have been hired as the Marketing Director or a Vice President of Marketing or a CMO, and yes, they hired you. So they obviously liked you, and it respected you. But then, over time, you may find that they treat marketing as though that's just a service side of things. Business really doesn't depend on that. Or we lean on the marketing Department when a trade show is coming up or when a new press release has to be made, as opposed to having a strategic seat at that primary leadership table. So that is a more difficult challenge, and you just have to try. You just have to sort of work and make sure that there's deeper understanding on the CEO side of what marketing can deliver. One other point if I may make on this is that what can really help to build that relationship is that instead of answering the question of what marketing can do, answer the question, what marketing can do for the business. In other words, don't make it a marketing thing. Make it a business thing. Why? Because the CEO is really not interested in a marketing award. CEO is interested in the business achieving certain goals. So put your services, marketing services, translate the value of that in terms of the business as opposed to that it's just good for marketing.

Ken White

If there was one takeaway you'd like readers to have after reading the book, what might that be?

Atul Minocha

I'll give you two cause the two are related.

Ken White

Great.

Atul Minocha

One is don't discard marketing in spite of your bad experiences. Marketing is extremely important, and the related part that I would say is that if you read the book, you will find ways you can actually use marketing very effectively in spite of your bad experiences. So A don't throw the marketing away, and B, there are really nice, creative, simple ways by which you can extract more value out of marketing.

Ken White

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

More Podcast Episodes

 JD Due
JD DueEpisode 161: September 21, 2021
Transitioning from the Military

JD Due

Episode 161: September 21, 2021

Transitioning from the Military

Every year over 200,000 U.S. military personnel separate from active duty. Transitioning servicemen and women cite a number of reasons and motivations for their departures For example, they may be retirement eligible, others have completed their service agreements, some are seeking a career change. For others, the move is related to family. Whatever the reason, transitioning from the military to the civilian world is challenging. According to militarytransition.org, about half of all veterans say their transition was more difficult than expected. Not surprising when you consider their entire world, in essence, changed. JD Due is the Executive Director of the Center for Military Transition at William & Mary. The center is located in the William & Mary School of Business and was created to help active duty and veteran students at the university successfully navigate their transactions. He joins us today to discuss military transitions, the importance of networking, and how a successful transition includes patience, and a plan.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

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Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How JD got into the field of military transitioning
  • Why is it difficult for military personnel to transition to civilian life
  • How military personally can identify who they want to be as a civilian
  • The importance of having mentors while transitioning
  • What are the commonalities for people who are transitioning out of the military
  • What is different for everybody as they enter civilian life
  • When should one start thinking about their transition out of the military
  • What can companies and organizations do to help service members in the workplace
  • What services does the Center for Military Transition offer
Transcript

JD Due: Transitioning from the Military 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. Every year, over 200,000 U.S. Military personnel separate from active duty. Transitioning servicemen and women site a number of reasons and motivations for their departures. For example, they may be retirement eligible. Others have completed their service agreements. Some are seeking a career change. For others, the move is related to family. Whatever the reason, transitioning from the military to the civilian world is challenging. According to militarytransition.org, about half of all veterans say their transition was more difficult than expected. Not surprising when you consider their entire world, in essence, changed. JD Due is the Executive Director of the Center for Military Transition at William & Mary. The center is located in the William & Mary School of Business and was created to help active duty and veterans students at the University successfully navigate their transitions. He joins us today to discuss military transitions, the importance of networking, and how a successful transition includes patience and a plan. Here's our conversation with JD Due.

Ken White

JD, thanks very much for sharing your time. Great to see you in person. Thanks very much for being here.

JD Due

Absolutely. It's interesting. One of the I guess positive upsides what is a catastrophe, and the pandemic is that you find out that people are ready to be together, right? To be a part of a community. You find out who's maybe not normally a hugger, and they might be a little bit more of a hugger. And again, keeping all those things in mind. But it is wonderful to be here in person. So thank you for having me.

Ken White

No, our pleasure. So as the Executive Director of the Center for Military Transition, what an interesting job. How did you even get into the field? Where did that start?

JD Due

Well, I've always been a fan and a friend of serendipity, right. In some cases, I literally stumbled into the field of myself, and it starts out biographically. Whenever I was at the culmination of my 20 years in the Army, I was actually granted an extraordinary opportunity. I was working at the Pentagon. I had been there for just a little bit over a year, but the US Chamber of Commerce had a what they described as a corporate fellowship program. And really, within my last six months of active duty, I got to spend twelve weeks with one of their corporate partnerships, and I was in a program manager role, and I worked in that civilian firm while the Army still took care of pay and housing and all of the wonderful things that the Army can take care of. But I was a program manager for four days out of the week, and then on the fifth day, the Chamber of Commerce would organize different transition skill-building events. And so there were about 25 of us going through this program at the same time. So we were able to share experiences, good and bad. And then we went to these different host companies. And the HR element of Deloitte gave us a rundown of what resumes should look like. If you're interested to go into consulting. Amazon gave us a rundown of if you want to go through an intensive interview process. Here are different sort of skills to refine. And in the midst of that process, about two weeks in, I realized I was in a role I did not want to be in beyond that fellowship. But what I discovered is this desire of what I really wanted to do is run a program to assist veterans in transitioning broadly. And that's sort of how I came into this place as well as then simultaneously and again; this is where serendipity comes in. A colleague whom I had never met but had been closely associated with on LinkedIn shared an opportunity that was the Pat Tillman Foundation. I saw the job description. I shared it with my wife. She looked at me. She's like, hey, don't mess this up. This seems like a great opportunity. And it was. And that's how I got into this business of providing resources, conceived broadly to assist veterans transition into a new chapter of service.

Ken White

Fantastic story. And I know just in the short time you've been here, how the active-duty military and the student body just love to talk with you and interact with you. The transition is a big deal for everybody, but especially for people in the military. Why is that?

JD Due

Well, for one, I think the military is a huge and complex organization, right? I mean, one of the joys in the national treasures that the all-volunteer force is. Is it has an opportunity to bring people from many different parts of the country and many different backgrounds together. And so, even students that are in the military on active duty now, part of the reason why the Army or the Navy or the Coast Guard send them here is actually broaden their experience. So they're going through a transition themselves, of moving from maybe a tactical focus in the Army to then helping out the institutional level of how does the army conduct marketing for these broad institutional pieces? So that's one of it. But then, over the past, really 40 years of the all-volunteer force, each of these services have a very strong culture process, right. When you go into the Army, you'll spend six, sometimes up to twelve or 18 weeks in any one of the services learning your job. And just the first thing isn't even learn your job in the military is to learn how to be a soldier or a sailor or a Marine. And then when you leave, you don't have that benefit of time always, right. That was the key thing that fellowship program I was a part of. It gave me additional time to ask really big questions of how does my identity fit in a new culture? And those are really important first-order questions to try and address. And that's, I think, a key element of the challenge that's there. And it applies to any human being, but particularly in the military, right.

Ken White

Right.

JD Due

The military helps you choose what to wear when you go to work, right. We can joke and chuckle about that. But there's so much of that regimentation and framework that's there that sometimes it can be very challenging when you're entering a realm that doesn't have that same framework.

Ken White

You and I were talking earlier before we started to record, and you said for many transitioning military personnel, it's not what do I want to be is who do I want to be in that transition? How do you figure that out when you're trying to transition?

JD Due

Well, I think one of the best ways to sort of figure that out. And it is probably I think it is the question. It is the first-order question to figure out. I think you figure it out in the context of a community. You figure out in terms of introspective questions. If you're asking yourself, what does light my fire, what are my interests, what are my strengths? But then, if you're able to do that in a community where you have allies, where you have other people within that network, mentors this case here professors to be able to ask those questions of and get feedback. I think that's a really, really important mechanism because by communicating those pieces, it helps you really refine not only what your experiences mean, and it helps translate that, which is great on a resume. But that's not the first-order question. It really helps you understand, hey, what are different areas that I can move to, that I can still serve, that I can still be a leader, but doing so in a new context.

Ken White

When you look overall at the types of folks who have served our country, male, female, older, younger, a long amount of service, a shorter amount of service. What are some of the similarities they face in their transition? What are some of the differences among all those various different groups?

JD Due

Well, I think some of the similarities that they face is the fact that they will have unique experiences that also occurred in the unique context. So similarities are the challenge of taking those experiences and translating them to new context, right. That is, I think, one of the key challenges, and it is generally universal across the veteran community to be able to clearly articulate. This is how I can be a asset to assist any organization, be it one that wears uniforms or one that does not. Solve problems and do so in a creative manner. And I think in a lot of ways. And although it might not be at the forefront of their tongues, they actually have a lot of creativity that the military has so much regimentation and framework it's because it's designed to operate in the realm of chaos and uncertainty.

Ken White

Right.

JD Due

This was as true for the Greeks as it was for the Persians as it is for us. It is just madness and chaos, and being able to take some of those unique experiences and put it into new context actually is both the challenge and an opportunity that's there. Now the difference is is that just like anyone else, the members of the military are unique. The way that they process the experiences that are there are going to occur in wildly different manners. So the stereotypes that might exist really, really don't necessarily apply. And one of the challenges that the Department of Defense has been doing a lot of good work really over the past six or seven years to refine their transition assistance programs. But the Department of Defense is a big, big Bureau. It is a big organization, and some of those processes tend to be a bit generic. So if you're able to look at an experience that then has very personalized transition plans and to have centers and programs help an individual piece those different things together. That's where some of those differences occur.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with JD Due in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Today's world requires new skills and new approaches. Well, those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different MBA formats, including the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive, all taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty. The William & Mary MBA will prepare you to succeed and lead in our new world. Check out the MBA program at William & Mary by visiting wm.edu. Now back to our conversation with JD Due, Executive Director of William and Mary's Center for Military Transition.

Ken White

When you're talking to someone who's serving, and they know at some point there will be a transition. When should they start thinking and doing? When do you start acting on your transition? How many months? How many years?

JD Due

Yeah. The thinking probably starts now, right at any point in time. And it's really interesting. Here one of the wonderful joys, and it's really a gift that William & Mary is able to bring. It's collaboration with the Army and the Major General James Wright fellowship. So these are fellows that come from a highly selective process in the Army, and they're at the midpoint of their army career. So they probably have at least ten, sometimes 15 years of additional service. But it's also an important transition and an inflection point in their career. They will be moving from doing direct leadership-type tasks to then be part of this broader institutional basis. And again, the Army, the Navy, the Coast Guard. These services are large institutions as they exist. And as they make that transition, it also gives an opportunity for them to really build and diversify all the resources and the human resources that they have contact with, right. They look within the Marine Corps or the Air Force. They're going to have a long list of folks that they can count on as allies and mentors. Well, a trip here as that broadening assignment as the military will often call it. Helps them to broaden that network. And it does so in a way that's actually transformational and not transactional. And so by starting to think about, hey, how can I maintain relationships that could benefit my service, could benefit and augment my service to my country? How can that also then establish a relationship that creates future opportunities whenever that time comes? And it always does come regardless of the rank that you depart. Where it's time to unlace the boots and hang up the uniform, and then probably within about 24 months, that's when serious series planning should really be initiated. To answer the more specific questions of what industry do I want to go into? Is that industry more important to where I want to live and to do that in a systematic manner? Just to be able to reduce some of the variables and a really, really complex equation that they're going to have to deal with.

Ken White

And there are opportunities and programs for those serving that they can experience to kind of get them moving on their transition?

JD Due

Absolutely. Again, one of the current ones and it grew out of the program that I was able to participate in back in 2018. It's called SkillBridge, the Department of Defense SkillBridge program, and it is oriented to a wide array of military personnel. Some that have been enlisted personnel. And sometimes, that might mean that they are then transitioning to get a bachelor's degree. Officers commissioned officers s have to have a bachelors degree already, but then it allows them to be in a position to get a professional degree, a Masters or even higher degree, to again add aspects of specificity to their skill set, to be able to again address those challenges and opportunities of what comes next.

Ken White

Many of our listeners are professionals, leaders and managers, business owners. What can companies and organizations do in terms of the transition to help to get involved, to bring veterans on board?

JD Due

Well, I think one of the key aspects is A recognizing that the service members are actually an integral part of their community, and they always have been, right. One of the huge benefits is the G.I. Bill. So when we think about 1944, in terms of military history, massive things are going on. There's an invasion of Normandy. There's the Battle of the Bulge. The tide is turning against the Nazi regime. But at the same time, we're passing the G.I. Bill, and that's really significant. So at the height of combat in World War II, Congress actually has the foresight to establish this program that allows the reintegration of a very, very huge army compared to what the size of the military is today back into the civilian world. We still have elements of that going on right now. The post 911 GI bill is a wonderful benefit that is really, really geared towards, you know, MBA programs. Towards law degree programs in terms of the amount of time and benefits that folks have. And so for companies to be able to look at those opportunities as well as even inside their own companies, they're going to find, oh, wow. I didn't realize that this leader that she was a Marine Corps veteran.

Ken White

Right.

JD Due

And yet those human beings are going to be there listening to them in terms of their own stories as well as listening to our students and clearly communicating, I think, is the answer of how folks can help best.

Ken White

So tell us about the Center for Military Transition. This is new at William & Mary. We've always had a I call it a love affair between the military and William & Mary. It's been going on forever. But we've got a good number of servicemen and women here in our school, undergrad, and graduate programs. But this is a big deal. Tell us about the Center for Military Transition.

JD Due

It is and Bob Merkle who's the Special Assistant to the University President on Military Affairs. He talks about William & Mary that we have an abundance of riches. And he's absolutely true. Dean Pulley talks about that. Active duty and service members have always been this integral part of the Mason School and this broader community. And it's really this element on opportunity for the Center of Military Transition to integrate all of these things that the Mason School does so well, right. You know, when we look at professional business education, when we look at leadership development, this development of skills, mentorship programs is what the executive partners are able to provide for life. Those are all the key contributors of a really world-class transition program. And that's what makes this opportunity so exciting. All the necessary factors are here. And then, the center can help to integrate those and again right-size them to a personalized experience. That's really the huge opportunity that we have. And I think it will be differential. It'll make a huge difference in the lives of the student veterans that are here. It will help inform students that are coming through the Mason School that have no or very little exposure to the military as well. And that is the wonderful aspect of this ecosystem that can really make a big difference.

Ken White

And working with those who will be transitioning soon and maybe not so soon.

JD Due

Exactly. And again, you can almost think of it as a timeline. And for those that are coming out of the military, they are used to some very regimented timelines. They know hey within X number of months at some point in time at 42 months, I was going to receive a promotion, right? Why it was 42 months and not 48. I'm not quite sure. But how can we then create similar timelines that might not be as regimented because they don't need to be mindful and to take advantage of the plethora of opportunities that are out there? But what are different steps that someone can do? How can they take something that might come out of a course that they take in the first two months here and then the center can help extend some of the tools that they're building with their professors and then link those in with potential employers and where a student wants to go. Again I think that's what's really, really exciting as we both develop individuals and then empower them to really be able to serve and to lead and to be the assets that they have the potential to be in a wide variety of companies.

Ken White

That's our conversation with JD Due, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Companies, organizations, and businesses are seeking professionals who think strategically, communicate effectively and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and more in the William & Mary MBA program offered in four formats, the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive MBA. Check out the William & Mary MBA program to learn more. Finally, we'd like 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, JD Due, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

More Podcast Episodes

 Phil Wagner
Phil WagnerEpisode 160: September 7, 2021
Stepping Up Your D&I Efforts

Phil Wagner

Episode 160: September 7, 2021

Stepping Up Your D&I Efforts

In the last decade, the interest in Diversity & Inclusion has grown significantly at companies and organizations. For the most par D&I has been accepted: It's seen as a positive contributor to employee engagement, employee retention, company culture, and a healthy bottom line. While D&I has become mainstream, not every organization has it figured out. For some, Diversity & Inclusion efforts are simply transactional - a series of workshops or lectures delivered by a vendor. Our guest today says it needs to be transformative in order to make a real difference. In other words, D&I vocabulary and knowledge should be shared among all employees and leaders as a supportive and inclusive culture organically grows. Phil Wagner is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Management Communication at William & Mary's School of Business. He teaches communication and D&I to undergraduate and graduate business students in addition to working professionals. He says, while considerable progress has been made in the D&I space, there are still opportunities for professionals, leaders, and organizations to be more effective.

Building upon other D&I experts' work, particularly Jennifer Brown's How to be an Inclusive Leader, Aiko Bethea's work on transactional vs. transformational D&I leadership, and Brene Brown's Dare to Lead, this discussion focuses on practical takeaways that leaders can employ to demonstrate their commitment to inclusion.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What's the difference between a D&I transactional model vs. a transformative model
  • What is the role of the leader/CEO/boss when it comes to D&I efforts
  • How can authenticity help when considering D&I work
  • How can leaders best prepare themselves when approaching D&I
  • What is the role of a D&I officer
  • Who makes a good D&I officer
  • How does one train to be a D&I officer
  • How do you teach D&I to leaders/employees/students
  • What is Phil's new podcast "Diversity Goes to Work"
Transcript

Phil Wagner: Stepping Up Your D&I Efforts 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. In the last decade, the interest in diversity and inclusion has grown significantly at companies and organizations. For the most part, D&I has been accepted. It's seen as a positive contributor to employee engagement, employee retention, company culture, and a healthy bottom line. While D&I has become mainstream, not every organization has it figured out. For some, diversity and inclusion efforts are simply transactional, a series of workshops or lectures delivered by a vendor. Our guest today says it needs to be transformative in order to make a real difference. In other words, D&I vocabulary and knowledge should be shared among all employees and leaders. As a supportive and inclusive culture organically grows. Phil Wagner is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Management Communication at William & Mary's School of Business. He teaches communication and D&I to undergraduate and graduate business students in addition to working professionals. He says while considerable progress has been made in the D&I space, there are still opportunities for professionals, leaders, and organizations to be more effective. Here's our conversation with Professor Phil Wagner.

Ken White

Well, Phil, thanks for taking the time to join us. Great to see you. Isn't it nice to be in person?

Phil Wagner

It is nice to be back in person.

Ken White

And you're in the classroom because classes have started. How's it been?

Phil Wagner

Filled to capacity 118 bright MBAs so eager to be there, you can feel the energy. It's great.

Ken White

It is it's so fun. So thanks. It's a busy week. Thank you for joining us. D&I DE&I your area this is something you teach, something you're passionate about. We were talking earlier before we started recording, when I said to you, What's the difference between doing this? Maybe right and wrong? And you said there's a transactional model and a transformative model. What does that mean?

Phil Wagner

Number one, I think we back up and say there's just so many different models. Look at the terminology D&I, DIEO, DIEB. I mean, it's constantly iterative. And you look at how things have developed, particularly over the last 20 or so years. It's been a rapidly changing conversation along that rapid sequence of change. I don't think we've paused to make sense of all of the pieces.

Ken White

Right.

Phil Wagner

We know we have to do diversity, equity, and inclusion work, but I don't think we've stepped back to ask what that really means. And so we've done a lot of that transactional stuff. We have built a culture in which we say D&I matters. So I'm going to put on four different lunch and learns. I'm going to have another training on microaggressions. I'm going to do X, Y, and Z. I've done a lot of programming. I've collected a lot of data, and we say, let's respond to that. And so what you've done is we created this culture where people are shamed into participation. They're guilted into participation. They're pushed into participation because we say this is important. But we never stop to explain why. And so where we need to get to, I truly believe, is to really focus on that why. To move from transaction to a more transformational model, one that really stops and asks, Why are we doing the things that we're here to do? And I think that transformational model doesn't build a culture in response to D&I. It says we first build our diversity. We first focus intentionally on inclusion, on support, on culture. Once we've got those locked and loaded, we've invited everybody to participate. That can then be a transformational experience, one that's harder to push back against and one that's inclusive for everybody to get involved.

Ken White

Where does the leader, the CEO? Where does the head honcho? What's the role of that individual in these efforts?

Phil Wagner

I think that's another misconception we tell ourselves. We think a lot about diversity and inclusion crises. Somebody getting canceled, somebody who makes an inappropriate sexual comment. Cuomo being a great example recently. You've done something, and you sort of tap out. I think we think that in times of diversity and inclusion crises, it's going to be human resources and public relations. HR and PR are they're going to swoop in. They're going to save the day. And I, as a leader, get to sort of just step back and let them do the work. And that's a fundamental misconception. As a leader in the current climate in which we exist, you have to have the vocabulary of inclusive leadership communication. You have to have a knowledge of what the current D&I issues are. You have to have a hand on the pulse of the political and social climate. You are hiring people in that climate. You have people in your organization. We're clocking in nine to five who come in from that climate. So you've got to be well prepared to orchestrate a culture that recognizes it's complicated out there. You got to reflect that complication in here with the nuance of our D&I work.

Ken White

And in the past six to eight to twelve months, we've had several instances where leaders have had to react and say something about what's happening in the real world. That's where that vocabulary, knowledge, and understanding comes into play.

Phil Wagner

Yeah, this is about storytelling. Right.

Ken White

Yeah, it is.

Phil Wagner

As a leader, you need to be able to tell the right story and accurate story and authentic story that exists in response to the public because that public is comprised of storytellers who can get out ahead of you if you're not telling the right story. And so they're increasingly looking for you to figure out how all these things merge, how they align.

Ken White

You thought you talk about authenticity; how does that? What do you mean by that?

Phil Wagner

I think it's a variable that's often missing in D&I work because it's so cheap for us. It's easy to put on again. Those lunch and learns those microaggression trainings, and so that's devoid of an authentic connection, particularly for the leaders who are putting them on. You need to be the person that the people in your organization look to set the tone for inclusion there. And so that's going to require some work on your end, some uncomfortable, deep digging, some self-reflection, certainly some time. But all of those things are definitely going to work out to make you a better leader in the end. Beyond just increasing your D&I knowledge, they're going to make you more self-reflective. You're going to have a better pulse on the culture within your organization. All of this, though it takes work certainly worth the effort.

Ken White

I would assume some CEOs are afraid. I mean, that's tough to step into some of these issues. Afraid that I might offend this group or not offend that group. What have you? A tough spot to be in at times.

Phil Wagner

Yeah, because things have transpired so rapidly again past 20 years. Look at everything has happened post 911, just politically, socially. The conversation has changed so quickly. It's gone in so many different directions. We have terminology that's on the spot, introduced in 1 second and 20 minutes later, it's expired. It is bewildering to do this work. It requires a significant amount of vulnerability. There's some significantly discomfortable, uncomfortable, I should say, conversations that need to happen. And I don't think we've appropriately prepared people to have those leaders in the making. I don't think MBA programs historically have done a good job of isolating space to really focus in on these issues. And so you've got a generation of leadership that knows that this is important. I truly believe wants to engage in it. They simply don't have the toolkit. They don't have the knowledge to do this well. So, the authenticity piece, how can it be authentic? Because it's changed so much?

Ken White

What are D&I officers doing today? What are they spending their time on?

Phil Wagner

I think D&I officers spend most of their time helping leaders set an agenda. So they work in the nuances of data gathering and collection. But they're also going back to what we talked about with storytelling, helping leaders tell the right story. And I think what D&I leaders are struggling with is that rapidly changing climate, and they're helping those leaders who have not been historically well prepared learn how to deal with the real raw issues in the professional setting. We like to think that the world of work is an apolitical context. Excuse me, but you don't get the luxury of clocking in nine to five and forgetting about discrimination or me too or pay inequity or all of the issues that our employees bring to the world of work. So it's doing a deep dive into sort of that human-oriented perspective that I think D&I officers help leaders get to.

Ken White

A tough job.

Phil Wagner

A tough job, a job that can be fundamentally rewarding and also humiliating, exhausting, because, in many ways, you're always wrong. I mean, you're always outdated because this is a conversation that never has no endpoint. It's constantly growing. It is iterative. And there are so many different pockets or factions of people that have ideas about diversity and inclusion. Who's right, who's wrong? We're always looking for that binary, black or white, right or wrong. This is a space where that doesn't really exist, aside from some significant extremes. And so this is about equipping people to toil in that nuance to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That's a core component of our curriculum here to take initiative to say; this is all so complicated. What do I do? And to rest in that but to be able to lead through that with clarity and transparency, and authenticity.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Phil Wagner in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Our post COVID world will require new skills and new approaches, and those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different MBA formats, including the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive, all taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty. The William & Mary MBA will prepare you to succeed and lead in our new world. Check out the MBA program at William & Mary. Now back to our conversation with Phil Wagner.

Ken White

Who makes a good D&I officer today? I mean, some jobs, that job description is so easy, right? The qualifications so simple. Where do we begin with D&I officers?

Phil Wagner

I think a D&I officer has to know that they want to be a D&I officer. Has a strong understanding of the realities of that position, how it has come to be as a sort of now permanent fixture in most successful organizations, and a person that understands that that job description is going to update constantly. As the world around it updates. But I also think that this is work beyond just becoming a D&I officer. I think in many ways, we now have an organizational sphere that expects that every new hire, every emerging leader, every C-suite executive has that knowledge and that vocabulary of diversity and inclusion. So while this focus is good for D&I officers, I really think it's an important focus for everybody because, again, the public is looking to the organizational sphere, and they're expecting people who are succeeding and thriving and becoming leaders in that sphere to have this knowledge, to respond to the climate, to speak the language of diversity and inclusion.

Ken White

So how does that C-suite member or someone knocking on the C-suite door? How do they get the information? What's a good way to train and be well versed so that you're as comfortable as possible in this space.

Phil Wagner

Yeah, this is such a cheesy answer, and it's simplistic, and it's not to be a land-all. But take some time to read. I mean, you have now so many new spaces of knowledge that are being published, new authors of color, new books, new blogs, new initiatives solely dedicated to these conversations. Uncomfortable conversations, conversations on inclusion conversation that take really age-old ideas, but update them for where we are in the here and now. So as a leader, quiet yourself. Spend some time in your own self-development process, dedicating some of that content to this and also another cheesy answer. But as a communicator, I think it has great value. Take some time to talk to your people. Get a pulse for what the culture and the climate is at your organization. That's not just a culture and a climate conversation. That's a diversity and inclusion conversation. Your people, I think, will often reveal to you where you can focus your energy to make that world of work a more inclusive place for all.

Ken White

We hear our Dean Larry Pulley say it because he does that. He'll listen. He says it over and over again. I learned something new. I had no idea. I never thought about it that way. So those conversations, they get anything, are huge.

Phil Wagner

And you have to have that growth mindset because it's really easy to retreat into a shell and be offended or feel like your ideas are outdated; therefore, you are outdated. I mean, you have to be ready for growth, and you have to be ready to encounter ideas that you don't agree with and be willing to not quite know what to do with those. That disagreement there's this great tweet Adam Grant, who's at Wharton, talked about this actually on Twitter this week, and he says, intellectual friction it's not a relationship bug. So just because you find yourself in an uncomfortable conversation in the context of your organization, with people who are bringing new ideas that you have not fully yet grappled with. See that as something of great value, that vulnerable space. You can do a lot with that. And that friction can be actualized for some great good. So again, it goes back to get comfortable with becoming uncomfortable regularly.

Ken White

So you do this for the MBA students. You teach this? What are some of the ideas and some of the lessons that you're trying to get across to these leaders in training?

Phil Wagner

We do this for our full-time MBAs, part-time MBAs, our executive MBAs, our Masters of Accounting students. We teach it to our undergrads. We really strive to have this be an iterative conversation. We don't want to just jump into D&I for D&I sake. Because we're doing what we say we shouldn't be doing, which is just that transaction this matters here do this, and you're good. Well, that's not really how it works. So we start with a very personal place. We work with our students to tell and sell their story well. We help them find their why and speak from it. And that's a really prime space to explore that inclusion element because once a student knows who they are and they've gotten into contact with that framework of empathy, that's required to hear and receive other people's stories and do something with it. Well, then they're primed to move into the D&I space. So we do give them what we think is a modern and helpful language or vocabulary of diversity and inclusion. What do those terms mean? How did they come to be? How has this come to be such a thing in the management enterprise? We give them a history, we give them a vocabulary, and then we give them space to test that out. So we talk about what it means to be an inclusive leader. And then, we talk about what it means to be an inclusive organization. The purpose of an organization is no longer to just generate profit. That original conception always had a clause, which was that holds true as long as the rules of the game are acknowledged. Well, the rules have changed. The rules now require that we have a vocabulary and a knowledge of this work. So we teach our students to go out and engage in that. So we talk about it through public relations. We talk about it through crisis management. In all of those different facets, students are getting an inclusion focus that can only help them in their career. And I think that's really the key point. Focusing on this can certainly help you, and it can't really hurt you. It's only going to make you better in the end, both as a leader and as an organization. So we spend time preparing our students to do just that.

Ken White

Because we know anybody who they're going to employ wants it and expects it moving forward.

Phil Wagner

Expects it, and we'll ask them what they can contribute to that enterprise, and we want them to be ready to say here are some action-oriented items that I'm bringing to your organization. I have a full understanding of what this is, what it involves. Here's how I'm going to roll up my sleeves and help.

Ken White

So you're going to share your expertise, your interest in diversity with a new podcast. It will be launched literally days from now is we're recording on the 3 September. Diversity Goes to Work. Tell us about it, that's exciting.

Phil Wagner

Yeah, really exciting. This came to be after multiple conversations, and our goal is really simple. We want to have casual conversations with friends most of the time. That's really two strangers on the podcast and the process of becoming friends. And that plays out in a really nice way. We've got Alum, we've got experts from all across the nation and the world, and Diversity Goes to Work really tries to push past the noise of diversity and inclusion efforts. And we're not talking diversity strategy necessarily. We're not talking a list of things to do or don't do. What we're doing is really simple. We're cutting right to the heart of the issue, and we're taking a human-oriented lens and using it to examine this work. So really, it's a storytelling podcast. We're bringing people who have lived this experience either as a diversity consultant, somebody with a diverse background, somebody who's experienced this in the real world and is coming back to offer their insights on our podcast. And so we're going to kick things off with an alum of the College, Amandeep Sidhu is coming to speak on what it's like now 20 years post 911. Amandeep is of the Sikh faith, a turban-wearing professional who has had a very successful legal career. And he's got a great story on that first episode of on 911 working in DC, just minutes after the plane hit the towers, experiencing that same sense of collective grief that we all felt as Americans. Yet just minutes after that, being run off the road by a truck because he had Brown skin. And so that duality of identity. We really center that here throughout the podcast will be bringing in consultants, professionals, everyday laypeople, blue-collar, white-collar, C-suite executives, everyday people really with the focus of centering that human element that I think is so often devoid of our D&I work.

Ken White

So we'll hear a lot of stories from a lot of interesting people.

Phil Wagner

Lots of stories from a lot of interesting people with the focus on strategy in the end. Now that we know this, now that we're aware that there's so many different perspectives that we have to grapple with as leaders, what do we take that? And how do we move it forward to actually implement successful D&I work that has real value, in the end, isn't just cheap frivolity.

Ken White

Yeah. What are you hoping listeners get from this?

Phil Wagner

Engagement number one in a low-stakes way, if you pull up a diversity podcast, you never know what you're going to get with us. It's pretty clear. You're going to get to hear real stories, real ideas that come from people who have experienced the discrimination that we talked about, the disenfranchisement that we talk about. But you'll hear it in an accessible way, and it's really an opportunity for learning, me included. So I'm not there as an expert. I'm there to learn from these stories as well. And that's what I love. I have emerged from every single one of those podcast recordings with my mind blown of new perspectives that I have not yet been able to fully understand because I've never walked in those shoes. So, that's really our goal.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Phil Wagner, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Companies, organizations, and businesses are seeking professionals who think strategically, communicate effectively and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and more in the William & Mary MBA program offered in four formats, the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive MBA. Check out the William & Mary MBA program to learn more. Finally, we'd like 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, Phil Wagner, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

More Podcast Episodes

 Christopher Lee
Christopher LeeEpisode 159: August 20, 2021
Performance Conversations

Christopher Lee

Episode 159: August 20, 2021

Performance Conversations

The annual employee review. The performance evaluation. The employee appraisal. Whatever you call it, in many organizations, the process of evaluating employee performance is often ineffective. In many instances, the evaluations do little to help the employee, the supervisor, or the organization. Among other things, employees are rarely satisfied with the score they receive, and they find it challenging to write a self-evaluation when they know it may be tied to their future compensation. And while evaluations and appraisals have not evolved significantly over the years, working professionals have. They seek feedback, coaching, and support. And many professionals want to perform better and feel better about their work. Knowing that, the old evaluation system is changing. Christopher Lee is a long-time Human Resources professional and leader. He's the Chief Human Resources Officer at William & Mary, and the author of "Performance Conversations." He joins us today to explain how conversations and questions can be used to coach employees, improve productivity, and boost confidence all without appraisals.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

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Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • Why don't traditional employee appraisals work
  • What happens to an employee when they hear negative feedback
  • How can an employee/supervisor relationship change during evaluations
  • What are The Power of Questions
  • What is a Performance Conversation
  • How the self evaluation is fundamentally flawed
  • What are the goals of the seven Performance Questions
  • The importance of checklists
  • How are bonuses and raises tied to the structure of a performance conversation
  • The difference between managing performance and rating performance
Transcript

Christopher Lee: Performance Conversations 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. The annual Employee Review, The Performance Evaluation, the employee appraisal, whatever you call it. In many organizations, the process of evaluating employee performance is often ineffective. In many instances, the evaluations do little to help the employee, the supervisor, or the organization. Among other things, employees are rarely satisfied with the score they receive, and they find it challenging to write a self-evaluation when they know it may be tied to their future compensation. And while evaluations and appraisals have not evolved significantly over the years, working professionals have. They seek feedback, coaching, and support. And many professionals want to perform better and feel better about their work. Well, knowing that the old evaluation system is changing. Christopher Lee is a longtime human resources professional and leader. He's the chief human resources officer at William & Mary and the author of Performance Conversations. He joins us today to explain how conversations and questions can be used to coach employees, improve productivity, boost confidence, all without appraisals. Here's our conversation with Chris Lee.

Ken White

Chris, thanks very much for being with us today. It's great to have you here.

Christopher Lee

My pleasure.

Ken White

And face to face, too.

Christopher Lee

Yes. Absolutely. Three dimensions.

Ken White

Yeah, which is really great. So one of the things you say is those employee appraisals that so many professionals grew up with

Christopher Lee

Yup.

Ken White

just never did work and never will work. Why not? What's wrong with them?

Christopher Lee

Yeah. I think for me, it's the fundamental underpinnings of them really were never aligned with their supposed purposes. Right. So as an example, it's called performance management as an example. But you can't manage past performance. I mean, you can only reflect upon past performance. So we talked about managing performance. Truthfully, it was performance documentation, accountability, record keeping, and negative reinforcement because the assumption was that if I tell you you didn't do well, you'll do better. But we missed the part of well, why didn't I do well? What do you mean? How do I adjust from that? And the whole framework, the set up of the once-a-year, some people call it the bloodletting, wasn't the space to have that conversation because once people received negative feedback, they shut down because it was also contingent upon so many other things. That 1-hour meeting, that half-hour meeting, whatever it was, was going to determine whether you got the minivan or not. Right. So you come to that conversation with hopes of getting a promotional opportunity, a raise, or many other things, and you got some negative feedback. Right. And you knew that negative feedback meant okay. I don't get a 4..8. I get a 4.6. In my organization, that means I get less pay well; I'm a 4.2, and why? And then you want to say, let's talk about getting improving? Well, I'm in shock.

Ken White

Yeah, yeah.

Christopher Lee

Some people in tears, right, you know, and all kinds of research shows that it's just not the time and space and who gets excited about planned, constructive criticism. I mean, all the research shows people had tremendous anxiety and fear. It's like, okay. You know, Chris, I got some negative feedback for you. How about let's wait till Thursday, and we're going to talk about it. The whole setup was fundamentally flawed at the beginning.

Ken White

In both ways, for the supervisor and the employee. Right. Because the supervisor, it's pretty high-stress situation.

Christopher Lee

Absolutely. Mcgregor said it best. Mcgregor is like 1954 quote, and he talked about why appraisals aren't good, and they shouldn't work. But we ignored that. He basically said that no supervisor, if they were informed, would want to sit as a judge of their subordinates because they wouldn't understand the impact. An the example would be a judge. If someone you don't know you don't have a relationship with, they are on their high horse. They are well trained, and they're actually protected by someone with a weapon. Right. And when they pass judgment on you, you never see them again. Now, we're asking a manager to pass judgment on someone and then have a relationship with them the next 15 minutes, 15 days, 15 years kind of idea. The relationship changes when you're giving negative feedback that is judgmental. And we're going to talk about feedback and appraisal and how they're fundamentally different. So the whole idea of the judge is what changes the dynamic. Because giving anyone negative feedback, whether it's your kids, your spouse, your friends, or whatever. It changes the relationship dynamic for a while. And people got to recover from that. Then they might be open to growth in movement from there after that recovery.

Ken White

Yeah, excellent, yeah. So in the book, you talk about the power of questions.

Christopher Lee

Yes.

Ken White

Well, what do you mean by that?

Christopher Lee

Yeah. Questions are the Holy grail of management, if not humanity. I know it's a big statement, but if you think about it, kids learn. Everybody learns by questions. If you've been around any kind of five or six year old, they ask questions incessantly because they're trying to learn. They're trying to calibrate try to understand. Right. If you're a lawyer, you interrogate witnesses by questions. Police officers gather facts. Doctors. When you go to them, how do they know what's wrong with you? They ask you a series of questions. You're a professor, right. The whole scientific method is based upon questions. If you're a journalist, you just go through the whole process. Questions are amazing. And as a leader or manager, everybody knows that's your job as a leader to find out where there are gaps to diagnose situations and do things. And you're asking questions. And then, most importantly, when we hire people, what do we do? We set up this whole elaborate thing called an interview, which is a series of questions, but we don't do the same to evaluate that same performance.

Ken White

That's great. You talk about performance conversations, and we've experienced those here at William & Mary. But for those, obviously, who haven't. What is that?

Christopher Lee

Well, it's really just a series, a brief, structured conversations about the things that matter most. Right. So a series. It's a planned series of conversations because you can't get everything done in one conversation. When I'm dealing with personnel matters, I've often over my career advise leaders about performance challenges or personnel problems to say, is this a one conversation conversation, a two conversation conversation, or three conversation conversation. Meaning that if you're delivering bad news, you're going to discipline someone or put them on a performance improvement plan. You can't get it all done in one conversation sometimes because people are shocked, don't understand they're coming back, etcetera. So there's a series and then its structure. It's not just a conversation; it's a structured conversation. There's a plan for this conversation. There's a framework around it. And I call it semi-formal. It's formal in that it's structured and planned. And then it's informal in that it's conversational. So it's kind of semi-formal, right. And then it's about the things that matter most. Right. And the question is what matters most that changes. And it's the timing of the year, who you're dealing with, how the work is going, et cetera. So it's a series of brief, structured conversations about the things that matter most. And the conversation is very important because it's giving and receiving information. It's feedback, adjustment, and calibration. And I think the calibration is a really big part of it. What do you mean by good? What do you mean by great? What do you mean by I need to adjust this? Can we talk about that? And if it's non-evaluative, then people are more likely to be forthright and honest when they're sucking win. Right. Because if I'm being evaluated people, they aren't totally truthful because it's just self-preservation. So it kind of goes like this. I never understood the self-evaluation things. I always say it's kind of a mini IQ test. So we set up that. Okay, Chris, we going to have your evaluation next week. How about you do the self-evaluation come to the thing or whatever? And at that meeting, we're going to determine whether you're going to get a promotion. We don't say that, but that's kind of what it is all designed for. And so it says, okay, tell me how you did on these things, and you give yourself an assessment. Okay. Let me think this right. So if I say I did anything other than excellent, you're gonna use this information against me to determine whether I get a promotion.

Ken White

Right.

Christopher Lee

The research shows that superstars, man, they're hard on themselves because they know that feedback and improvement is the Holy grail to getting better. The people who just don't have a clue, they think they're a plus. All the research shows it, and then you spend all your time talking them off the ledge. So the self-evaluation is really kind of a crazy idea.

Ken White

And think of the manager. The further away they are from their feet on the ground, the less they know about what's going on. So what a great way to get information from the team, because you're not quite on the team anymore, right?

Christopher Lee

Yes, absolutely.

Ken White

And you're out of loop fast.

Christopher Lee

Yes. In the first Performance Conversations book, which I did in 2006, I basically reviewed the literature of the past 50, 60 years and had these 15 fallacies of appraisal. And one of those is that the leaders initiate. I know what I'm saying, that the leader sees and knows all this going on. And that's just I don't know how we ever assume that that was accurate. Right. You know what I'm saying, right?

Ken White

Right.

Christopher Lee

Because you don't. And if you have good employees, hopefully, they're doing things that you've given the right direction in charge, and they're on the plan, and they're just knocking things out. And so you never really know 100% of what they do. And if you do, you must be a minor deity to be able to understand and know everything all of your subordinates do.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Chris Lee, author of Performance Conversations, in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Our post COVID world will require new skills and new approaches. Well, those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different MBA formats, including the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive, all taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty. The William & Mary MBA will prepare you to succeed and lead in our new world. Check out the MBA program at William & Mary. Now back to our conversation with Chris Lee.

Ken White

You talk about performance questions in the book? What are they? What's the point?

Christopher Lee

So the performance question is kind of like the 2.0 from the first book, really of refining things. There's seven questions, and the idea of those seven questions are they're aligned with the major purposes of performance management systems? And the goal is if you ask these seven questions, then you've really kind of taking care of all the major concerns and opportunities and things that you would want to do when you're managing performance. Right. And each of them is kind of a chart that kind of shows how these questions are aligned to the various purposes and how they're kind of designed. So there's two kind of questions that I propose. One is I call it the kind of Magic three, which is the original three. And then there's a four additional ones. So I kind of call it the Magnificent seven. Right. So it's kind of 2.0, but it's elegantly simple, and for me, simple is best. Right. It's that kind of Da Vinci's kind of quote about simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. And so the first one is what's going well, and how can we replicate it?

Ken White

Yeah.

Christopher Lee

The second question is, what's not going well? How might we adjust? And then the third question is, what else is going on in your work life that we need to be aware of? And there, your troubleshooting for potential problems and just seizing opportunities. Right. And if you're just asking those three kind of open-ended questions, you'll be amazed where the conversation goes.

Ken White

I experienced it. There's no question. Evaluation went out the window. That's not what it was about. It became about strategy. It became about the future. And are we supporting you as best as possible, or are we creating our own roadblocks? It was amazing. Yeah.

Christopher Lee

Absolutely.

Ken White

Yeah. Just that conversation. Wow. And then you have your checklist, and that's in the book that helps people sort of get through that part of it.

Christopher Lee

Yeah. So we're talking with one of your colleagues earlier. He's a retired army officer, and it just reminds me of one of the examples in the book. I talk about being a Marine officer Lieutenant called the Basic School, the entry-level training. They always gave us this little checklist for anything we did. If you need to call for artillery, if you need to call for aircraft support, if you needed XYZ, they gave us all these checklists, and it's like go down his checklist or whatever. And at the end of training, they would always say, laminate it, take it to the field, meaning take it with you, because it may save your life one day. So imagine you're in a chaotic combat situation, and you need to precisely ask for help. In every little variable to include where they're going to place, this ordinance matters because if you're off a hundred yards, it might land on you versus the enemy. So it's a really a life or death situation. It's the same thing for pilots. So, pilots, they get on a plane. If you get on any commercial aircraft, you walk in. You see the pilots door open. There's two pilots sitting there, and they're going through a checklist.

Ken White

Yeah.

Christopher Lee

Now they've flown 10,000 hours. But missing a step on that checklist means whether you go up and come down the right way or not.

Ken White

Mmm-mmm.

Christopher Lee

So it really really matters, right? There's a whole movement in the medical field, the same idea. Where surgeons incredible human beings, but you'd be amazed at how many times they miss things less than 1%, the experts say. But 1% is 5000 deaths a year. And there's one study. There's a book called The Checklist Manifesto that argues the point that if you're in ICU, there's something like 180 actions they need to take with you every day. And that's incredible number of opportunities for failure.

Ken White

Yeah.

Christopher Lee

So with 1% error, there's still a lot of issues. So checklists are designed to keep people from making mistakes. So we borrow that idea and say, hey, you're going to have this dynamic conversation about performance. We give you a tool to help kind of be a toggle for your memory on things that you want to cover and keep track of over the series of conversations.

Ken White

So I was going to ask if you're the supervisor, the leader, you're maybe introverted. This isn't all that easy for you. The checklist sort of bails you out, doesn't it? That helps you in this conversation.

Christopher Lee

It absolutely does. You're absolutely right. And the questions and checklists are designed for that purpose. And in the framework of the performance conversations method, you actually empower the employee to be prepared for the conversation as well. So you're not just totally driving the conversation. They're going to come with their own questions because they're going to say, Chris, here's what I need from you. One of the Magnificent Seven, the last one is, what can I do for you? And so we were talking about a superstar on your team earlier before we started, right? Man, performance conversations are great for superstars because that's what you should be asking them, which is how do I keep you on the team?

Ken White

Right.

Christopher Lee

I mean, you're not really coming out saying, how do I keep you on a team? You're saying, oh, man, Jennifer or Paul, you're doing great, right? You're doing this whatever. What other opportunities do you want? What growth things can I hand off to you? What are you thinking about? Because if you're not keeping them fulfilled, they're going to go look for something else.

Ken White

Yeah.

Christopher Lee

Right. And so this is an opportunity for them. I can recall one lady; I'll give her a shout-out. Her name is Jennifer James, who's on my team at my previous shop, amazing professional. I think I managed two of our performance conversations. After that, she managed me, and it was a yes, ma'am because she would walk in. She was prepared all the prompts and ticklers or whatever, and she comes here's what this is going on. I'm concerned about that. I want to do this whatever. And I was like, yeah, okay. Got it. Check, check, check. Because I wanted to keep her on the team.

Ken White

Right.

Christopher Lee

And so my job as a coach, you got Michael and Michelle Jordan on the team. You're trying to figure out how can I best utilize his or her talents?

Ken White

Right.

Christopher Lee

And so it's really a great sort of approach because we've shifted the metaphor from boss, employee to coach and performer.

Ken White

Or even teammate it felt like, to me a little bit, it didn't seem like there was one person was, quote, unquote, higher or lower than the other. Yeah. It seemed like it was a real collaborative kind of effort. So if I'm with an organization for years, we've done the scale of one to five, one to five. Everybody gets irritated if they're below a five. But that's how we determine our raises. How do we tie the money, the bonuses, and so forth to this kind of an evaluation on our system?

Christopher Lee

So I would say two things. One is that if you work for an organization this is still 20th century oriented in its thinking, you might have to comply with their rules, policies, and procedures. And I would encourage you to use this framework inside of that because all existing or historical method said the same thing. Evaluations only work if you're doing regular, ongoing feedback. We're giving you a feedback system here. And so that kind of fulfills that need or whatever. I don't think you actually need the evaluation. And we can talk about that another day because there's a lot of information there. But on the issue of tying it to compensation. That is one of the biggest problems with evaluations because then we've shifted for the purpose. Are we trying to manage performance, or are we trying to rate performance? Two fundamentally different issues and the research shows that the tail wagged the dog because here's how it goes. I have a list of 23 reasons or criteria upon which we make compensation decisions in organizations, and evaluations are only one of them. So that's part of the challenge. So let me give you an example. I'm the HR guy happens here as anywhere else. A manager thinks that the salary scale is wrong or my person is not treated fairly. Or I'm really trying to keep Jennifer on the team, and I want to pay her more than the University or the company wants to allow because it matters to me to keep her on the team. So if that person's performance is a 4.8 or 4.2, doesn't matter what the number is. You want more. So you may give them a higher raise than they deserve because you're trying to keep that person on the team. That's an example when the tail wags the dog. And then all evaluation system, there's two different kinds, right? One is against a standard against another. If you're Scotty Pippin, life's tough because you're on the same team with the world's greatest right. And so, if you're on a team by yourself with Scotty Pippin, your chances of getting a higher raise is higher at organizations that use the relative to others.

Ken White

Right.

Christopher Lee

And then the same thing with a great team in an average organization or a good team in a great organization so that calibration across units is always a problem as well. Again, there are 23 different variables. Many private organizations, as you might know, also give you increases according to where you are in the salary range because they want to move people towards the midpoint to keep their salaries competitive overall. So if you perform at the 90th percentile but you in the third quartile, they may slow your growth versus if you're in the first quarter. So again, there are so many variables there. And so when we tie to performance, then we bastardize the performance system. And again, that's just another one of the fallacies around appraisal. So I discourage that, I'm saying, but you have to use that. Information is valuable information. But let's be truthful about it. That's one of the reasons and ways. And the biggest and the easiest is last year. The vast majority of organizations did not give anyone an increase because of the economy turned, if you're in the middle of the year fiscal year in July, because if you're not profitable, you can't give people. So the whole idea that they call it expectancy theory and compensation, that if I do what you say, I expect that you will do what you say, which is give me a raise. And that's never been true because it's the profitability of the company or the division or whatever case may be. It's the largest factor that would drive what your pay will. So then it's kind of hard for you to promise is that if he does his part, you're going to do your part. So again, that's five of the 23 variables, and that's why it's really problematic to tie it together.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Chris Lee, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Companies, organizations, and businesses are seeking professionals who can think strategically, communicate effectively and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and more in the William & Mary MBA program offered in four formats, the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive MBA. Check out the William & Mary MBA program to learn more. Finally, we'd like 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, Chris Lee, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White, wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

More Podcast Episodes

 Jeremy Martin & Kevin Dwan
Jeremy Martin & Kevin DwanEpisode 158: August 5, 2021
NIL & The Changing Face of College Athletics

Jeremy Martin & Kevin Dwan

Episode 158: August 5, 2021

NIL & The Changing Face of College Athletics

For years, student athletes competing at colleges and universities governed by the NCAA were considered to be "amateur athletes." That amateur status meant they were prohibited from making money using their name, image, and likeness. Well that changed recently thanks to the NCAA's Name Image and Likeness policy, known as the NIL Policy. Now, any person, business, or organization can pay a college athlete fair market value to endorse or represent them. For example, athletes can now be paid for personal appearances or for mentioning a business on their social media feeds. In the weeks since the new policy went into effect, stories of athletes signing deals have popped up all across the country. Two leaders in William & Mary's athletic department join us today to discuss the changes. Jeremy Martin spent the last 10 months as Interim Athletics Director. Kevin Dwan is Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Operations for Revenue Generation and Brand Management. They join us to discuss NIL, what it all means, and what lies ahead.

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Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • Why was pay for college athletes brought to the forefront
  • What percentage of school athletic programs create net positive revenue
  • How are Title IX and gender equity supported by the NIL policy
  • What are student athletes now allowed to do under NIL
  • What can colleges and universities provide to student athletes
  • What restrictions are on student athletes as they monetize their name, image, and likeness
  • What do businesses get by sponsoring a student athlete
  • How does the NIL policy affect the NCAA
  • What should parents do to prepare their kids for college athletics
Transcript

Jeremy Martin & Kevin Dwan: NIL & The Changing Face of College Athletics 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. For years, student-athletes competing at colleges and universities governed by the NCAA were considered to be amateur athletes. Well, that amateur status meant they were prohibited from making money using their name, image, and likeness. Well, that changed recently thanks to the NCAA's name, image, and likeness policy known as the NIL policy. Now, any person, business, or organization can pay a college athlete fair market value to endorse or represent them. For example, athletes can now be paid for personal appearances or for mentioning a business on their social media feeds. In the weeks since the new policy went into effect, stories of athletes signing deals have popped up all across the country. Two leaders in William & Mary's Athletic Department join us today to discuss the changes. Jeremy Martin spent the last ten months as Interim Athletics Director. Kevin Dwan is Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Operations for Revenue Generation and Brand Management. They join us to discuss NIL, what it all means, and what lies ahead. Here's our conversation with Jeremy Martin and Kevin Dwan.

Ken White

Kevin, Jeremy, thanks very much for being here. I appreciate it your expertise on a very interesting topic. Jeremy, to get us started, can you kind of take us back from the beginning? Where did all this come from, and where is it going?

Jeremy Martin

Well, there's certainly been a lot of conversation around college athletics for a number of years. And so I always like to sort of start with a broader financial reality of people assume, and there are billions of dollars annually spent on college athletics, and people say, okay, well, you've got a multibillion-dollar industry. How is this working, and how is this benefiting what often is called the labor in the student-athletes and those sorts of things. But to sort of frame financial reality. So, according to the NCAA's report in FY 19, you had 25 of the 350 plus universities that were NCAA Division One institutions had had an athletics department that generated a net profit. And so among those folks, the power five programs, which are the ones that you generally hear about, the sixty-five schools in the ACC, SEC,  Big Ten, PAC 12, and Big 12, their median expenses exceeded median revenues by seven million dollars. And among the institutions outside the power five. So sometimes called the Group of five. The other conference, the median deficit was twenty-three million dollars. So to start with, you've got a range of institutions within the FBS Sixty-five. There's a high of a net profit of forty-four million a low of a net deficit of sixty-five million. But most institutions are not making money on athletics.

Ken White

Right.

Jeremy Martin

Now there are sports and, by the way, no SES program, a football championship subdivision program like William & Mary. None of these departments generate a net profit. Now there are sports that generate profit at specific schools beyond those twenty-five. So you may have a school that has a football generating net revenue, but not other sports and not the department as a whole and those sorts of things. And so anyway, that's where is the background of the reality of like the institutions are not making that revenue on athletics in general. You have a few other things that are going on. NIL is obviously one of these. But the Austin case, which was just decided by the Supreme Court, basically upheld that the NCAA could not restrict education-related benefits to Division one basketball and FBS football student-athletes. Now, the specificity, I think, of who those athletes are will quickly go away. But that's the specifics of this decision. And it also establishes that the NCAA is not exempt from the Sherman Antitrust Act, which had previously been the viewpoint, and that if there's an exemption granted like that, which is unlikely, it would have to come through Congress. And so what that's done is sort of set this broader environment with NCAA government or Mark Emmert and others are sort of saying, well, now the conferences and individual institutions have more sway over what they do in the market than the NCAA does as the constrainer or the definer of the entire market. So a conference could say no education-related benefits because it doesn't affect the other 30 plus conferences. But the NCAA can't say it for the entire market from the Austin case. So in the mix and at the same time, you have name, image, likeness, which is basically previously no student-athlete can monetize their name, image, likeness, NIL. You had state-by-state actions that were coming. You had some federal proposals. And basically, what happened was before July 1st, when some states policies were going into effect, the NCAA passed an interim policy, basically granting freedom for everyone in states that had not yet passed policy to do so, to allow the athletes to monetize their name, image, likeness. That, by the way, is where William & Mary fits. The Commonwealth of Virginia is expected to take action at some point but has not yet. And so we fall under that. Our policy falls under that. And so you also sort of have this uneven, a little bit differentiated landscape and that you have institutional policies in NIL. You have state legislation in NIL, and you don't have a fully consistent playing field. And then the last is sort of always plays in anything around college athletics is where Title nine and gender equity plays into this and really in regard to NIL. And it will ultimately play out in terms of educational benefits from the Austin case, how people apply that you put the institution, the notion of the role of facilitator; sorry, the role of educator in regard to educating student-athletes on what they can do with NIL, but not in the role of being the facilitator or the deal broker to say and we're bringing these NIL deals to you, because how you differentiate that between markets from men's sports and women's sports and those kind of things are really difficult. So really, you have the institutions almost stepping back as the third party saying, here's who can help you with your NIL. Here's what you need to know about your NIL, and you too will independently have to meet it won't be facilitated by us.

Ken White

If I'm an athlete and you say, here's who can help me. Who do you mean? Agencies?

Jeremy Martin

You've looked at a lot of the products?

Ken White

This is your area, Kevin?

Kevin Dwan

I mean, there are agencies. You know, you can secure an agent now as long as it's a talent agent and not for playing your sport.

Ken White

Got it.

Kevin Dwan

Tax advisors, financial advisors, attorneys to review contracts, things like that. So those are all the types of things that we certainly recommend our student-athletes take advantage of and educate themselves on. But like Jeremy said, we can't specifically provide that service to them.

Ken White

But this was not something you've done in the past. So this is work. This is effort and a lot of it. Correct, because there are a million question marks.

Kevin Dwan

Yeah, this is all brand new and the amount of companies that have kind of come into being just in the last several months is unbelievable. I think both of our inboxes are probably filled with them on a daily basis with new solutions and new ideas and opportunities. So we've taken the time to learn as much as we possibly can about them all. In order to provide a service for our student-athletes as much as we're able to. But it's definitely hard to kind of weed through all the different.

Jeremy Martin

So getting ready for this, Kevin, who deals with all the external revenue generation not affiliated with fundraising, and Paul Cox, he's our Assistant AD for Compliance, have been leading a working group throughout the university because we know that there are partnerships that we're going to need to help educate our student-athletes how to function that way.

Ken White

Yeah.

Jeremy Martin

But it's the notion of compliance, marketing, and sponsorship like the differing expertise. But they have to come together to make this work for student-athletes.

Ken White

So compliance for the non the non-college sports fan, what is what does that mean?

Kevin Dwan

So our compliance department, in our case, Paul, is is the one who's making sure that we're all following all the NCA guidelines, that our student-athletes remain eligible, that our coaches are following the recruiting guidelines, that we're doing all the right thing. You know, the NCA rule book is sizable.

Ken White

Yeah.

Jeremy Martin

I believe it's four hundred seventy-five pages.

Kevin Dwan

So it's a big job, and it just got a little bit bigger, you know, adding this onto their plate as well.

Ken White

Absolutely. It's a huge job, and it sort of shifts everything, doesn't it?

Kevin Dwan

Yeah, it really does. It just adds a completely new component to what Paul and NCA compliance officers all around the country have to deal with it and have to think about. And like I mentioned, Paul's priority and our priority is making sure our student-athletes remain eligible. You know, typically rules that are broken, you know, the ones that make headlines are not the most common ones. Typically, it's inadvertent. Jeremy said 400 something pages. It's impossible for everyone to know everything that it says. So Paul's job is to make sure that he's a resource for our coaches and our student-athletes, so they don't get into in any trouble that they're not intending to get into, especially in this added a whole new area that's new to all of us.

Ken White

Jeremy, do you think there will be winners and losers in this? Big winners and big losers, is that possible?

Jeremy Martin

Yes, I wouldn't necessarily use those terms. I think it'll be a differentiator. And so, again, feels fitting to talk about markets while you're in Miller Hall. So, really, the fascinating thing to me is there's an assumption of the size of the market that exists for student-athletes name, image, likeness. And where those things really are is around. Hey, if you are a college athletics superstar in whatever sport it is, you have all of this exposure, all these things. What can you do? And the reality is that's a very small piece of the student-athlete market, talent market, so to speak. So I think it's interesting to look at student-athletes, particularly the mid-major level that William & Mary and other places, and say this is actually going to be an indicator to say, here's what your value in the marketplace is. It may not be what you thought it was. The other piece for student-athletes, frankly, NIL monetizing it, will be a third job. So you have the first job of being a student at William & Mary. The second of you're spending a lot of your time at twenty hours a week as a student-athlete. And now we're saying, okay, how many hours do you want to spend trying to build a brand for yourself? So I actually think you will have some student-athletes who say it's good to know that we could.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Jeremy Martin

I'm interested in being a student and an athlete, and I'm not going to have time for anything else. But also sort of as some student-athletes find that there is value, there is value to monetize in their name, image, likeness, and their personal brand. How that balance of okay I have commitments to the classroom. I have commitments to competition and now commitments to corporate sponsors and things like that. How do I balance those and what happens when potentially you see overreach and that that sponsorship area in which it suddenly becomes, okay, I'm not actually performing as well as I was because I don't have as much time for athletics or the academics that I once did. So there definitely will be differentiators. And the markets from an institutional respect markets individually markets from an institutional perspective. Kevin and I have talked a lot about this. It's fascinating to think of are the student-athletes winning? Are the departments winning, or is there some balance that's sort of a zero-sum game we're in? And we've talked a little bit about whether sponsors view themselves as sponsors, as in I'm getting a return on what I offer or whether they're boosters. And I know you've thought a little bit more about that, Kevin.

Kevin Dwan

Yeah, and I think that there's a variety of those. I don't think everyone fits into one box, you know, so the ones who view themselves more as boosters and they want to support a school because they're part of the community. I think those are the ones that you've got to be careful as an athletic department. They're going to be very interested in working with directly with the student-athletes.

Ken White

Right.

Kevin Dwan

But the majority of the businesses that we work with want to see a return. And I think they're going to have to make a decision, a business decision, whether they see more of a return working directly with student-athletes or with the department as a whole. And I don't think there's one answer. I think it's going to be unique to each partner.

Jeremy Martin

It's also fascinating sort of in the interplay because most of the policies that you see have specific stipulations around use of institutional logos and things like that.

Ken White

Yes.

Jeremy Martin

So, for instance, can you appear in a green t-shirt? That's fine. Can you appear in a logo t-shirt? Well, you now are actually someone looking to do a licensing.

Ken White

Yes.

Jeremy Martin

As an independent NIL, you're a person you're looking to do a licensing to be able to use the logo. And that's that sort of changes the nature of the relationship as well in some ways, so we're just going to keep track of and watch as it develops.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Jeremy Martin and Kevin Dwan in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Our post-COVID world will require new skills and new approaches. Well, those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different formats in the MBA, including the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive, all taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty. The William & Mary MBA will prepare you to succeed and lead in our new world. Check out the MBA program at William & Mary. Now back to our conversation with Jeremy Martin and Kevin Dwan.

Ken White

And Kevin, I think it was University of Texas, their bookstore has made some agreement with student-athletes in terms of so those are the kind of things someone like in your position be dealing with.

Kevin Dwan

Yeah, those would come across my desk as well as Paul's. And, you know, like Jeremy said, it's complicated when you write your own policy. You know, the state of Virginia hasn't issued guidance yet. So we had to make a decision how restrictive or how permissive our policy was going to be.

Ken White

Right.

Kevin Dwan

And, you know, we tried to make it as permissive as possible. You know, we don't want to limit our student-athletes opportunities at all, but we do have to protect our business interests. So if we work with one car dealership and a student-athlete has a partnership with another, we don't necessarily want that William & Mary logo on their chest when they're in a commercial, you know, with a competing car dealership? So those are the sort of things that we try to spell out in here and give a pathway to be as permissive as possible while still protecting our interests.

Ken White

One athlete in Alabama who's not been a starter yet has not, as a starting quarterback, taken a snap. We're looking at almost a million dollars in endorsements. How does that happen?

Kevin Dwan

I think people are making a bet on, you know, looking at the history of Alabama starting quarterbacks.

Ken White

Yeah.

Kevin Dwan

That's probably a pretty safe bet, to be honest with you. So, you know, there's some speculation there for sure. And I think at the outset, you know, we're so early in this. I think a lot of people are testing it, and they want to see how well it's going to work. You know, I do think things will come back down to earth a little bit in the next couple of months, maybe a couple of years. But there's no question people are out there pushing the limits and trying to find the loopholes and see everything that they can do. And some student-athletes are going to benefit from that in a big way.

Jeremy Martin

Well, the Alabama quarterback is a great example. So from, again, valuing this NIL, you're looking at the projected starting quarterback and saying, we think that you're going to be on national TV

Ken White

Absolutely.

Jeremy Martin

ten Saturdays this fall.

Ken White

Yeah.

Jeremy Martin

You know, all those sorts of things. And then it sort, again, other stuff that hasn't just been settled out. At the end of every Super Bowl, it used to be that they, you know, put a Disney camera in your face and say, oh, no, are you going to see student-athletes pulling cell phones out on the sidelines after wins. Like all of this stuff, just in terms of relation of, okay, when are you in your athletic capacity versus when are you in your individual capacity, all those sorts of things. We're going to have to go through a few cycles of these to figure some of this stuff out.

Ken White

No question. Will we see athletic departments have new positions, associate director for NIL? I mean, for example, I mean, just to handle all of this.

Jeremy Martin

You already are. Most of the new positions I'm familiar with, Ken, are actually on the compliance side.

Ken White

Oh okay.

Jeremy Martin

And also, a number of folks are outsourcing sort of, again, that third-party educator to say we want you to provide the educational component. And in the marketplace, there are few. I think it's it's actually just a handful that have we provide the education component. And we also have a marketplace in which student-athletes can meet with potential sponsors and things like that. So, yes, there will be yes. It adds work. There will be additional staff hired at a number of places. I don't know that at our level. We haven't seen the floodgates open at William & Mary. And so that our student-athletes, I actually think, are more likely to benefit from their creativity and entrepreneurship beyond their capacity as student-athletes. But the classic is we have student-athlete who was an avid fisherman and had had a podcast or had had a video blog related to that like he could now monetize that and be sponsored by fishing companies and things like that. That's unrelated to his ability as a student-athlete.

Kevin Dwan

Yeah, and I think the areas where in addition to the compliance positions that you're going to see, we're starting to see creative positions in college athletics. So even though we can create content for someone to use for their name, image, and likeness activities for a student-athlete to use. We can talk to them about how we'll grow their brand and, you know, help them to grow their social media following. And, you know, athletic departments were already creating content, not branded content that the student-athlete monetize, but they were creating content for student-athletes to share on their own social media, you know, videos, graphics, things like that. And that's a big part of recruiting now. Student-athletes want to know how you can help me grow my individual brand so that I can then go out and monetize it. So those creative positions, I think there's really going to be a run on that one as well.

Jeremy Martin

If you think about the classic recruiting day photos where it's like, well, how did they get that recruit in the jersey? You know, I think things like, well, they did a photoshoot when they're on their visit.

Ken White

Right. There you go.

Jeremy Martin

There, you know, they were ready and creating graphics

Ken White

Yeah.

Jeremy Martin

for that individual.

Kevin Dwan

Yeah.

Ken White

What does this do for the NCAA and its future? I mean, this was one powerful organization for decades. Does this strengthen it? Weaken it? Nothing.

Jeremy Martin

Sorry, my pause is weaken is a fascinating thing. The NCAA has always been made up of its membership

Ken White

Right.

Jeremy Martin

and Mark Emmert would say that regularly.

Ken White

He's the executive director

Jeremy Martin

of the NCAA. What's really fascinating is, again, this is where the Austin case comes in, and you start to see, okay, the NCAA is effectively setting the entire market for college athletics. Likely has lost clout in terms of its ability to set that market. The institutions and the so governance wise, whereas you had the institutions of the conference, is looking to the NCAA saying, what could we do? You now likely find yourself in a scenario where the NCAA is saying we have some risk averseness of what we can do at the national level. What are you as a conference, what are you as an institution going to do? Which is really just a sort of a governance. It's a reframing of the governance relationship. And it remains to be seen. I mean, there's obviously some right now as we're filming this, you know, there's speculation about where Texas and Oklahoma ultimately will land.

Ken White

Right.

Jeremy Martin

Some of these developments may make more likely that differentiated on market institutions are affiliating themselves differently in the future.

Ken White

Interesting. I was talking to a former student-athlete recently who a female said, I think women are really going to jump in this. I think there's some really cool opportunities because some of the female student-athletes in some college towns have incredible followings. Right. Kevin, have you seen some of these who are just absolutely. They're the leaders of their communities. They're such stars.

Kevin Dwan

Absolutely. I mean, I know there's a specific instance of twin basketball players, twin sisters, out at Fresno State University who came in with massive followings and now going to be able to to take advantage of that, which I think is wonderful because, you know, previously they were going to have to make a decision. You know, they stand to make a lot of money, but they couldn't do that and play college basketball.

Ken White

Yeah.

Kevin Dwan

And now they don't have to make that decision. They can stay at Fresno State and hopefully have great careers. And so it's a huge opportunity for people like that.

Jeremy Martin

One article not that long ago, more than half of the top ten Instagram followings among college athletes were actually women's athletes

Ken White

Right.

Jeremy Martin

in various sports. But if you think about someone like Paige Bueckers at UConn, she may actually have a larger platform.

Ken White

Yeah.

Jeremy Martin

As the star player at UConn, then turning pro, which was never the case before. And if you want to make any money, you would have to change. So it is fascinating to see on my YouTube feed right after the William & Mary recruit's, you know, that always search us, and it is interesting to see, okay, the twins from Fresno State appear on my feed. Paige Bueckers might be in that kind of thing and how that works out and all of those things, by the way, whether or not you can advantage yourself in YouTube algorithms or things like it.

Ken White

Wow.

Jeremy Martin

For all these student-athletes.

Ken White

Any Jeremy, any advice to parents because they're going to play a role in this. This is affecting them. They get involved in the recruiting aspect of it. Any advice to them as their son or daughter comes through the pipeline?

Jeremy Martin

Parenting is hard.

Ken White

Yeah.

Jeremy Martin

I would I don't think the role of momager or dad managers is a great one. You know, I think you love and support your children, and you let them follow their interest. I think that I think that sometimes you run into parents who believe that, like there's naturally a scholarship for my child in the sport, whatever it is. And, you know, there's a lot of coverage to sort of recognize. Oh, well, like the percentage you actually get scholarships is really small with travel teams and all sorts of things. Now, like you find huge investments in parents from a very, very, very young age. So my advice to any parent would be and what I try hopefully doing, but that failing and Kevin I know you got love your kids, encourage them as they pursue their interests, but it's going to be a very, very slim few that are going to have, you know, multimillion-dollar value in NIL by the time they reach college or even during college. And so enjoy your kids. Love them.

Ken White

Kevin, this might be unfair but looking through your crystal ball. What do you think is coming? What should we be watching out for in terms of NIL? What are some of the bigger issues?

Kevin Dwan

Yeah, you know, I think NIL in conjunction with the transfer portal and, you know, removing restrictions, I think is, you know, creates some risk for student-athletes just in the sense, like we had talked about previously. Student-athletes chasing things, you know, trying to get to bigger markets, bigger teams, because they think that's going to be a benefit. And there are only so many opportunities in Division one. You know, you already hear horror stories about thousands of student-athletes being in the transfer portal, and they're just not being that many scholarships available. You know, so there are kids who are no doubt being left without opportunities. And I think name, image, and likeness, you know, there's some risk that that makes that a little bit worse. It gives another incentive to look to other opportunities to look to change things. But in general, I do think it's positive. You know, I think there are student-athletes who've had to make difficult decisions, you know, whether they have to go pursue a career, whether that's professional sports or other opportunities, or stay in college and be a student-athlete. And, you know, NIL kind of helps to solve that problem, you know, now, hopefully, more kids can complete their degrees, and maybe you see student-athletes sticking around longer. Playing three or four years instead of one or two because they don't have to make those difficult decisions. So, you know, there's a lot to learn, and there's a lot we don't know yet. But in general, I think if we stay on top of it and just keep the best interest of the student-athletes in mind, it's largely positive.

Jeremy Martin

I think the Duke example, again, not that everything has to revolve around the Blue Devils, but if you think about. All right. In the classic days when players stayed for three or four years in that program, what was Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, Grant Hills? What were their initials worth having literally having built a following while they're in college versus the one-and-done player who comes in with a huge reputation, to begin with, but doesn't necessarily have the loyalty of a fan base immediately? And hopefully, actually, my personal opinion, I love to see it play out the way you just mentioned there, where it's like, hey, you could stay in college two or three or even four years because you're not penalized for being here in that regard. But that's my hope, at least.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Jeremy Martin and Kevin Dwan, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Companies, organizations, and businesses are seeking professionals who think strategically, communicate effectively and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and more in the William & Mary MBA program offered in four formats the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive MBA. Check out the William & Mary MBA program to learn more. Finally, we'd like 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 Jeremy Martin and Kevin Dwan. And thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

More Podcast Episodes

 Ram Ganeshan
Ram GaneshanEpisode 157: July 16, 2021
Supply Chain & The Pandemic

Ram Ganeshan

Episode 157: July 16, 2021

Supply Chain & The Pandemic

If you’ve tried to purchase new furniture recently, or chlorine for a pool, or even certain makes and models of new cars, you may have been told you’ll have to wait several weeks - possibly several months before the product is back in stock. Items from lumber to clothing to electronics have been difficult to find in recent months. The reason is often tied to the supply chain, which has been adversely affected throughout the pandemic, forcing consumers to wait until their new purchases arrive. Ram Ganeshan is a Professor of Operations and Information Systems Management at William & Mary School of Business. He teaches supply chain management and digital strategies courses. His research and consulting interests include supply chain management and logistics strategy. Professor Ganeshan says the shortages we see now are the results of decades-long developments in supply chains, and the pandemic simply tipped it over the edge. He joins us today to discuss supply chains, their complexity, and why the shortages are happening.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

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Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What is a supply chain
  • How does a supply chain compare to a reverse supply chain
  • How have labor costs contributed to global supply chains
  • Why are there shortages of semiconductors and computer chips
  • How do geopolitical forces affect supply chains
  • When might the semiconductor shortage end
  • How are the U.S. ports affected by increased demand
  • Was the pandemic supply chain issue predicted
  • How should organizations prepare for supply chain shortages
  • How is the U.S. - China relationship affecting supply chains
Transcript

Ram Ganeshan: Supply Chain & 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. Well, if you've tried to purchase new furniture recently or chlorine for a pool or even certain makes and models of new cars. You may have been told you'll have to wait several weeks, possibly several months, before the product is back in stock. Items from lumber to clothing to electronics have been difficult to find in recent months. Well, the reason is often tied to the supply chain, which has been adversely affected throughout the pandemic—forcing consumers to wait until their new purchases arrive. Ram Ganeshan is a professor of operations and information systems management at William & Mary's School of Business. He teaches supply chain management and digital strategies courses. His research and consulting interests include supply chain management and logistics strategy. Professor Ganesan says the shortages we see now are the results of decades-long developments in supply chains, and the pandemic simply tipped it over the edge. He joins us today to discuss supply chains, their complexity, and why the shortages are happening. Here's our conversation with Professor Ram Ganeshan.

Ken White

Well, Ram, thanks for joining us. Great to see you. I appreciate you sharing your time and expertise with us today.

Ram Ganeshan

Same here.

Ken White

So supply chain, it's one of those things. I think people know the term, but they don't. Many people don't understand really what this is. What is supply chain? You've used the term division of labor. Can you explain what supply chain is?

Ram Ganeshan

The easiest way to think about it as supply chain is the series of activities that source the components, and something is made out of it, assembled, produced, manufactured, and then it slowly makes its way to the end customer via our distribution centers and ports and rail and truck and so on and gets to your local store or stuff like that. So it's a series of events that gets makes the product and gets it to you. And then the second part of the supply chain is once the product is used, how it's disassembled and reused and recycled, and so on. So that's the reverse supply chain. So that, in a sense, is what I would consider a supply chain.

Ken White

And in our world today, we need to rely on that because some products are pretty complicated, aren't they?

Ram Ganeshan

Yes, most products are. You know, your iPhone, for example, is it has at last count more than 60 or 70 metals from the periodic table.

Ken White

Wow.

Ram Ganeshan

Those of you have it hanging on your bedroom wall would know that. Not only that but it's designed in, of course, California. And all the components are made in Taiwan and Korea, and Japan. And it's actually assembled in China, and it's shipped to the United States. Where most of the demand is for the iPhone. So supply chains have not only are complex, but they've also become very global.

Ken White

We're seeing some shortages right now in various products. This didn't happen overnight, did it?

Ram Ganeshan

No, it didn't. And part of the reason we are actually seeing it now is of how supply chains have evolved over time. It used to be that 30 years ago, the common reason why large multinational companies outsource, especially this may be obvious in apparel to the Far East, is because of labor costs. So they were able to save on labor and then show a quarterly increase in profits and so on. But the way it's evolved now is supply chains have what I would call become not only global, but they've also become very specialized and very concentrated. The semiconductor was a case in point, actually. If you look at the semiconductor supply chain if you look at the demand for chips. China and the U.S. account for half the world's demand of semiconductors. Twenty-five percent each. But if you think about how the semiconductors are actually made, the U.S. spends the value added by the United States is largely in the design and the core I.P. Folks like Intel design the chips. And what has happened over the last twenty-five years is we don't have any fabrication at least of any sufficient capacity in the United States. And most of the fabrication of those chips happened really in three countries, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan. So they do most of what they call wafer fabrications. And you've seen pictures of people in white suits going in cleaned rooms. And so that's where that happens. It's a very expensive thing to do. And the industrial policy in those countries and the particular companies have decided that this is the way they want to go. So most of wafer production happens in the Far East, and then China has taken the more of the assembly and the testing of the semiconductor. So the United States still, if you look at the in totality, the United States still, if you look at value-added, has 40 percent of the value chain of some of the largest in the world still. But they only make certain things. They only do certain parts of it. And we can call it division of labor, if you may. So Taiwan is the only country in the world that does the less than 10 nanometer, which is the faster, more advanced logic chips. So that's how they've sort of become not just global but concentrated and highly specialized, which is leading into some of these shortages.

Ken White

Yes. So what happened then, for example, the semiconductor.

Ram Ganeshan

So the first signs of the pandemic was in February. That's when things in China and Taiwan, and Japan started shutting down.

Ken White

Yes.

Ram Ganeshan

So we lost some capacity there. And then in March and April, when we shut down. The demand for let's talk about the auto industry because that's where we're seeing it.

Ken White

Right.

Ram Ganeshan

The demand for new cars and rental cars just plummeted.

Ken White

Sure did.

Ram Ganeshan

And if you look at the auto industry, they have long been operating on what is called the Just-In-Time system. So they hold just enough inventory, and they become extremely good at cutting costs and cutting costs and keeping it running a tight ship. So as soon as they saw the demand go down, they just cut their orders for parts and supplies of semiconductors from the Far East because that's also spread globally. Interestingly enough, as we were shutting down demand for certain products and we have all heard of the pelotons, right.

Ken White

Sure.

Ram Ganeshan

That started increasing your webcams and your computers and iPads and so on and so forth. So what was happening is the semiconductor capacity started being reallocated from auto to all these different products where there was an increase in demand. So the change in consumer patterns caught the auto industry in a bind. But then there are other issues. They were geopolitical issues, obviously. President Trump, for example, banned Huawei and GTE. And what they started doing was they started holding the 5G chips because they saw this coming.

Ken White

Right.

Ram Ganeshan

And they started holding the chips at a time. And then certain semiconductor companies in China got blacklisted, some of the big fabs, for example, and they lost that we lost that capacity there. The issue then we had some small hiccups like fires and fabrication plants and Taiwan and Japan that sort of jammed up the system. That clearly put a lot of pressure on semiconductors. So and because it's a very capital investment intensive industry, you need big machines and clean rooms and so on. A small fire can mess things up quite a bit.

Ken White

Yeah.

Ram Ganeshan

So it's not a matter of, you know, cleaning it normally.

Ken White

Right.

Ram Ganeshan

It's a special thing. So, yeah. So it's not easy to change capacity.

Ken White

Right.

Ram Ganeshan

It takes about nine to 12 months. So what we are anticipating is maybe the semi shortage might ease up by the end of this year.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Professor Ram Ganeshan in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Our post COVID world will require new skills and new approaches. Well, those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different MBA formats, including the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive, all taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty. The William & Mary MBA will prepare you to lead and succeed in our new world. Check out the MBA program at William & Mary. Now back to our conversation with Professor Ram Ganeshan.

Ram Ganeshan

I don't know if you want to talk about the logistics of getting those things to the U.S.

Ken White

Yeah, I think that's we see it in the press, right?

Ram Ganeshan

Yeah.

Ken White

We see the cargo ships sitting, you know, outside of Norfolk or Los Angeles.

Ram Ganeshan

Yeah, so I talked about the increased demand. Part of the issue of the increased demand is you had all these containers full of stuff. I mean, this could be board games or whatever else.

Ken White

Sure.

Ram Ganeshan

It's filled with that people were ordering. And part of the reason is the demand shifted from services to products. So we no longer going out to eat and we not going to cinemas or concerts or getting massages or whatever. So disposable income was being spent on these different things.

Ken White

Right.

Ram Ganeshan

And they were all a significant portion of it was coming from outside the United States and the supply. So you saw even a small increase, you know, 10 to 30 percent increase in some products. The suppliers were working overtime, and these containers full of stuff were coming towards usually they come towards the California ports because those are the closest to China. And clearly, that created a huge logjam. And I read a statistic somewhere that an average of 40 ships were waiting, an average of anchored for seven days to actually get into the port.

Ken White

Wow.

Ram Ganeshan

So think about this big not only that, the folks who are working in the ports were at lowered capacity simply because COVID restrictions. Ports couldn't go in 100 percent capacity. So those two contributed to the port congestion. But an interesting another statistic was the Port of L.A., for the first time last year, handled more than what they call one million TEUs. TEUs the easy way to think about it is a 20-foot container would be one TEU. So typical 40 foot would be set to. This is simplifying things, but more than a million the first time ever.

Ken White

Wow.

Ram Ganeshan

So they're working, and it's not like they're doing significant business. There's a problem that's associated with that, which is the trade imbalance. I mean, you heard you heard of politicians talk about it all the time. So we're getting the containers full of stuff, but then we're not shipping them full of stuff. Now, second issue that has come up in port operations is container availability. So we have these full containers that take several days to empty out. And the reason it's taking several days to empty out simply because the warehouses are full. So they don't have room to put these containers anywhere.

Ken White

Wow.

Ram Ganeshan

So it's sort of backed up that way. And now, when you have an empty container now, it has to go back to get it fulled. So so you have to load it up onto a ship which takes significant amount of time.

Ken White

Sure.

Ram Ganeshan

Ship it to wherever it needs to go. So this has created a sort of a global maritime problem of port congestion. Of course, we could talk about the ship getting stuck on the Suez Canal.

Ken White

Right.

Ram Ganeshan

Wow.

Ken White

Yeah. I mean, it makes sense. It makes sense that when you think about it, when organizations, when it comes to supply chain companies, Fortune 500 companies, manufacturers, they'll practice crisis communication. Right. They'll practice for something that could happen in a public relations manner that could affect them. Do they do that with supply chain? I guess my question is, did no one see this coming, basically?

Ram Ganeshan

They saw it coming. I think there are multiple reasons why we find ourselves here. You know, Don Rumsfeld, who was our defense secretary, once said, you know, he did a four by two by two grid. The known knowns and the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns. The pandemic was definitely unknown, known. And so we just didn't know when it was going to hit. But we know it was going to hit. I mean, firms do take a lot of spend a lot of time and energy managing risk in the supply chain and disruptions in the supply chain. But most of it involve, for example, you hold a little bit more inventory than before to buffer against it, or you find some capacity somewhere, or you diversify your supply base. So if some something goes down, you can. So there are several examples that do exist. But the pandemic was unique because, for several products, the demand went down to zero. So did the supply. If you take recreational vehicles, for example, the demand was shooting through the roof, and you didn't have enough supply to make it. So it was on both sides. I mean, so I think many planners need to grapple with should we plan for a state of being in a pandemic all the time, which can be a very expensive supply chain. So you have to take your you have to balance your risks.

Ken White

Yeah.

Ram Ganeshan

So you go with the smaller risks, you cover them, the larger risks, you have a larger, bigger plan so.

Ken White

Long-term, how is important? How is the relationship between the U.S. and China affecting supply chain long term?

Ram Ganeshan

Well, we about when China joined the WTO 20 odd years ago, we really joined hands with them saying we're going to work with you. I mean, if you look at the Fortune 500 companies, it'd be hard to find a company that does not do business in China or actually get its revenues from China. So it goes both ways. So we buy stuff and sell stuff to them, too. So the real solution is, do you know what I would call broker a détente between China and the U.S.? I think we need to figure out a way to work together. I think that's the real solution. Trying to posture sort of adversarial posturing is not going to help.

Ken White

Were there winners or losers? I assume a lot of losers throughout the pandemic in terms of products and sales. Were there any winners in all of this?

Ram Ganeshan

I think it's a sort of a scale. Right. How much did you win and lose? And unfortunately, I think the biggest losers let me start there are small businesses that didn't have the scale. You know, I am, for example, big coffee drinker. And I also love craft beer. And unfortunately, because demand simply disappeared and they didn't have the sort of the skill to do digital delivery and have like a touchless thing. Many of the small businesses, unfortunately, didn't fare really well. The Cares Act did help, but not enough. I think some of the large multinationals are doing really well. I mean, I mean, just look at some of the quarterly announcements for profits, right. It was a blockbuster quarter last year, and it's going to be a blockbuster quarter this year for some of the big guys in the Fortune 500. So they were winners, I think, in many ways. So, yeah, it's unfortunate. And I think we do need some sort of an industrial policy. The U.S., I think, has been hesitant to have a policy, but I think we do need something to protect this knowledge. And because small businesses are the majority of what we have here.

Ken White

And for the consumer, if you're waiting, you just hang in there. It's coming right. Whatever it is you're waiting on is coming eventually.

Ram Ganeshan

I mean, yeah, if you have to buy a house, you don't have a choice, you pay more. I mean, that is the nature of things. But we've heard about the lumber shortage, but it's coming slowly back to normal. Of course, toilet paper is also somewhat back to normal.

Ken White

Yeah.

Ram Ganeshan

There has been some adjustments, but some of these inflationary pressures are sort of easing, at least from a supply chain perspective. I think the economy is going to do really well, at least the next quarter, from what I can tell. Yeah, I think I think hopefully, as more of the world gets vaccinated and things slowly begin, normalcy begins to appear. I think in the U.S., it's still somewhat feel to normal now, since about, oh, close to 70 percent of us are vaccinated. But you still can't travel around the world. It is still not normal for most of the rest of the world. So I think once that eases, I think we'll see things slowly getting back to where they were. At least, let's hope so.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Professor Ram Ganeshan. And that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Companies, organizations, and businesses are seeking professionals who think strategically, communicate effectively and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and more in the William & Mary MBA program offered in four formats, the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive MBA. Check out the William & Mary MBA program to learn more. Finally, we'd like 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 Ram Ganeshan and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

More Podcast Episodes

 Mike Seiler
Mike SeilerEpisode 156: July 1, 2021
The U.S. Housing Market

Mike Seiler

Episode 156: July 1, 2021

The U.S. Housing Market

Of the many sectors and industries affected by the pandemic, one in particular has caught the attention of consumers, buyers, sellers, and investors: The US housing market. Mortgage rates, prices, labor, supply, demand - they’ve all changed over the past few months, making the housing market one of the most interesting to follow. Saying the market is “hot” in some areas is a major understatement. Houses are selling quickly in many regions, often for well above the listing price. In some cases, buyers are doing whatever it takes to secure the property, like foregoing home inspections and making all-cash offers. But while we hear about the hot markets in many parts of the country, that’s not the case in every region and city. Mike Seiler is a Professor of Real Estate and Finance at William & Mary School of Business. He joins us today to talk about the US housing market, how it differs from region to region and where things might end up in the months ahead.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • Why the residential real estate market is hot right now
  • What does a hot market mean for people who aren’t considering selling their homes
  • How has the pandemic affected home prices
  • Are bidding wars good for the real estate market
  • How has new home construction affected the price of existing homes for sale
  • How have supply and labor shortages affected the real estate market
  • How do homes bought as investments affect the overall market
  • How do iBuyers make the market more efficient
  • How can a 3D-printed home be more energy efficient than a standard home
  • What will the US home market look like in 2022
Transcript

Mike Seiler: The U.S. Housing Market 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. Of the many sectors and industries affected by the pandemic, one, in particular, has caught the attention of consumers, buyers, sellers, and investors. The U.S. housing market. Mortgage rates, prices, labor supply, demand, they've all changed over the past few months, making the housing market one of the most interesting to follow. Saying the market is hot in some areas is a major understatement. Houses are selling quickly in many regions, often for well above the listing price. In some cases, buyers are doing whatever it takes to secure the property, like forgoing home inspections and making all-cash offers. But while we hear about the hot markets in many parts of the country, that's not the case in every region and city. Mike Seiler is a professor of real estate and finance at William & Mary's School of Business. He joins us today to talk about the U.S. housing market, how it differs from region to region, and where things might end up in the months ahead. Here's our conversation with Professor Mike Seiler.

Ken White

Well, Mike, thanks very much for joining us. It's nice to see you. Hope you had a good, good Memorial Day weekend.

Mike Seiler

Yeah, we sure did. Enjoying the recovery of the weather. It's really good to see you. I can't wait to see you in person.

Ken White

Yeah, how about it? How about it? You know, I thought of you immediately when I keep hearing about the real estate market now, it seems to be exciting and interesting. And right now, when you look at the residential real estate market in the U.S., what are you seeing? I mean, how do you describe it?

Mike Seiler

Well, as you know, it's super hot, right? I mean, we have the fewest number of homes on record that are out there on the market. So you just can't find anything. And I haven't heard a stat they said that there are fewer homes out there available, that you have agents represent them. So any time you have more agents in a market than you do homes, you know, you have a restrictive supply. So that's just pushing home prices way, way high.

Ken White

Wow. Well, you know, one of the downsides is people think, yes, I'll sell, I'll make money. But you need another place to live. If you buy, that'll be expensive.

Mike Seiler

Yeah. In fact, it might be the other way around. Let's say that you live in a home, and you just want to be there for a super long period of time. Well, in most states, that's just going to cause your taxes to go up. Your property taxes are going up because your home value went up. So if you're in a state like Virginia where they just say, well, every year your taxes are going to be based on market value, then that's not good for you. You actually want home prices to go down for all of the years that you're going to live there and then go right back up again, and then you sell. That's what you want. So, yes, this means higher property taxes for us owners who are more thinking in terms of staying in place.

Ken White

Yeah, great point. When you look at today's market, does it remind you of any other period of time in the last generation or so?

Mike Seiler

Well, the home appreciation aspect of it reminds me of two thousand four. But thankfully, we are not in a two thousand four environment. You know, two thousand four. We had home prices going up and then this fear of missing out to where you think, oh, well, if I don't buy now, I'm never going to be able to afford to buy. And then you go to your lender, and your lender says, oh, sure, we'll do these ninja loans. No job, no income, no assets. Sure, that's fine. We'll lend to you for no reason at all. People also pulled their money out in the form of treating their house like an ATM. And so a lot of problems back then. But while I see home prices going up, I think it's a lot of it is pandemic related. So it's not really as big a risk of a crash as it was in two thousand four. I say that now. Please don't replay this podcast in five years if I'm wrong. But, you know, the warning signs are not there now. That said, don't forget the Kahrizak brought about this mortgage forbearance, but we have a lot more equity in our home right now. So I understand that the market can pull back, and I think it will do that. But I don't see us with a massive void of equity. Back then, we had home prices dropping, and every time they went up, people followed that loan to value ratio by getting a second lien, pulling money out of the home. And we're not really seeing people do that now. And thank goodness, because that just sets you up for failure when that loan balance just trails the price of your home. So when the price of your home comes down, your loan balances high, and now you're underwater. We're not seeing that this time. So I am much less fearful of a crash.

Ken White

What are you seeing from the pandemic? What is it doing to the home prices in the market right now?

Mike Seiler

Well, the home prices, of course, they continue to go up. And let me say this right off the bat. Real estate is local. So if I tell you one thing, if you're in a part of the country and you say, well, I don't know if that feels as true here, someone else in a different city might say, well, he's understating how this works. Have a super hot market, and the prices have gotten so high that I don't think I'll ever be able to buy a house. So real estate is very, very local. I think a lot of what we're experiencing is pandemic-driven. So, for example, you might wonder why are home prices are going up, what's happening here. And some of the reasons are what they were before low-interest rates. But interest rates have been low for a while. So that's not really a sufficient or complete reason why home prices are going up. And we talked about restricted supply. And you might ask, why is supply restricted? Well, think about the pandemic. When it first rolled out, we had an immediate shutdown. You were afraid to physically be in proximity to other people. You certainly don't want those other people walking through your house. So we just don't see that supply of homes on the market. And spring is coming. The pandemic, we hope, knock on wood is ending or at least nearing an end. And so I think you'll see that supply of homes come back onto the market and maybe that equilibrium price will be reached.

Ken White

Bidding wars, we read a lot in certain markets. It's amazing what buyers are offering, not just the listed price, but even more foregoing inspections and so forth. Are these bidding wars good for for for real estate?

Mike Seiler

Well, they're good for sellers of real estate, right? They're not great for buyers. A bidding war that's in the eye of the beholder. So let's go back to your home inspection. The home inspection is typically done just to find anything that's hidden in the house because a buyer may maybe you're a surgeon and you're a genius and so forth, but you don't necessarily know how to crawl under a house, and you don't know what to look for. So you hire a home inspector, maybe you pay five hundred dollars. They will go through all the nooks and crannies of the place. But the point of the home inspection is not necessarily to kill the deal. The point of the home inspection is to find out what might be wrong with the house so that you can negotiate a more accurate price. But if you have a market that is super hot and you've got a line wrapped around the corner, a potential buyer, a seller does not want to hear what the problems are. The seller might think, well, if you don't like the house because you perceive there to be a problem, then just jump out of line. I'll talk to the person right behind you who is either not going to take the time to require a home inspection or might just kind of look past it and think, I'll just do that work myself in my downtime, whatever. So, yeah, home inspections right now, always a good idea. But in this market, if you're looking to buy, be really careful. That might cause you to get bumped out of line.

Ken White

Wow, and that's a tough spot. That's a tough spot for buyers to be in. What about new home construction? What's happening there in terms of how is it affecting the price of existing homes at this point?

Mike Seiler

So, of course, when you're out there to buy a house, you can buy existing or new. And so they are competing goods. One of the factors I hear often is, yeah, but if I want a new home, it's not like there's a new home everywhere. So maybe a historic neighborhood, you only have existing homes. That's all true. But still, these two compete with each other. Now let's talk about the cost of a new home. There's a great meme going around on the Internet, and it's about a lady who's very well dressed. And she says to her husband, she says, take me somewhere expensive. And then, the next part of the meme shows that they are in the lumber aisle at Home Depot at a table waiting for them. But it's not just lumber. A lumber prices have gone crazy high, but it's everything that you put into construction. And I'm not even just talking about the building materials. I mean, remember, it wasn't that long ago that ships were parked out in the Pacific Ocean waiting to come to port because there was just no room they couldn't unload. Their 20-foot containers and 40-foot containers has been resolved for the most part. We still saw crates being shipped back to Asia empty. So imagine you're a taxi driver, right? You take someone to the airport. And logically, what you would do is you would think, well, I'm at the airport, I'm just going to get in the taxi line. But now that things two miles long, you're like, forget it. I'm going back in the city taking someone else to the airport. That's what was happening, taking goods from Asia to North America. They got here. They had to wait. They finally unloaded them. They would send them back empty. Those are signs when you're willing to traverse the largest ocean on that globe with an empty amount of freight that is telling you something is very much wrong. So logistical issues are causing prices of actual materials to go up. You also see in your homes that are being built where the people cannot get appliances for there. So you might have the home completed, but your kitchen doesn't have a refrigerator and a stove and a dishwasher that's not ready to go. It's not turnkey at that point. All kinds of problems there. And then let's talk about labor real quick. You're only as good as the people who put their hands on that home. So if you're trying to hire skilled labor and these folks are during the PPP money, you would have, let's say, five people on a construction team, maybe a construction team. They knew the work had to be cut back originally. And so they thought, well, what I'm going to do is I can either have all five of my workers have fewer hours, which is not really going to work for anybody, or I can pick three of them, the same amount of money they were earning and put two of them on unemployment. And that's what a lot of people were doing. So as we're coming back into the workforce, you're trying to get people to do work on your home, or your builders are trying to get new people to construct the home. And the skilled labor that they need is not always there. And so, again, your construction quality is a lot harder to do it with new people. I just had a company I won't name, but they were doing some foundation work in my house. I was not at all pleased with it. And they said, oh, we're just training a whole bunch of new people. And so even that name recognition, you think all of this going to a reputable company with a great name and sound history of work, that's not even enough these days. So this is really tough as a developer to do what they had been doing in the past because of a labor shortage as well.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Professor Mike Seiler in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Our post-COVID World will require new skills and new approaches. And those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different formats, including the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive, all taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty, the William & Mary MBA, will prepare you to succeed and lead in our new world. Check out the MBA program at William & Mary. Now back to our conversation with Professor Mike Seiler.

Ken White

The Wall Street Journal recently reported about one-fifth of all homes are sold that are sold are purchased by investors. How does that affect the market?

Mike Seiler

Well, what's so interesting about that is we should think about that number being very different. So in some places, you're going to have a lot more investors that are institutional. In other places, not so much. And I'll just give an example. We've got a really interesting paper on ibuyers, and these ibuyers are going in, and they're making a cash offer for your home. Now, initially, you might think, well, how are they going to do that? And the process is they have something called the AVM or automated valuation model. So they use machine learning and deep learning techniques to figure out how much people's homes are worth over a very, very large area. It's like a mass appraisal concept but done on a much greater scale. And then they'll make a cash offer too, let's say, five hundred thousand dollars. And you say, well, my home is worth five-sixty and say, well, Ken, the reason why I'm offering you a little bit below market value is because there's going to be no sales commission paid. Right? You're not going to pay that to me, certainly. I'm going to buy it directly. I'm going to write you a check, and then I'm going to take that home, and I'm going to make some very simple improvements. And then I'm going to turn around and sell maybe within three to four months. And that's where I'll make my money on kind of that low-hanging fruit. Let's do those high ROI projects, if you will. To a person, you might say, well, why would I be willing to accept less money? Okay, fine. There's going to be no or less commission. I get that. But what about the rest of the money? And I ask you. We have a tremendous MBA program. Let's say someone graduates, and they get a job in Seattle, but they own a home in Williamsburg, and they're concerned about that delay. I don't want to afford a mortgage in Williamsburg and then go to Seattle and pay another mortgage or rent in Seattle. I can't afford to do that. So these ibuyers are more of a kind of a grease in the system. They're providing liquidity to a market to allow labor mobility to go to its highest and best use. So in a way, they make the market more efficient. But just in terms of price, what we found in our study is that they will cause the prices of markets to go up by about two point eight percent. And it's because they're demanding these homes. So there's greater demand. Basic Econ 101 push up the price. The interesting thing is they're not just pushing up the price in that local market. It's happened what we call spillover effects in the neighboring communities. So it makes not just that community a little bit more expensive, but it makes affordability go down in the neighborhoods that are right. Sharing those borders.

Ken White

Wow. Interesting. And I got the peek at the abstract of the paper. It looks so interesting when you're discussing ibuyers'. You also talk about another segment, buy to rent. What's that all about?

Mike Seiler

Sure. So the ibuyers are companies, and they get institutional money. They could be hedge fund, private equity. And the same is true for these buy to rent. The difference is that the buy to rent are not just providing a liquidity mechanism. They are typically going after these distressed properties, which means they can buy them for a much lower price in real estate. They say you make money on the buy, so they're following that that and they say, well, we're going to go in, we're going to buy these homes that are distressed. Then we're going to hold them for a longer period of time, so we're not as worried about market fluctuations in a way. We're going to be a property manager. We're going to buy them now at a cheap rate because of the maybe it's in foreclosure. We're going to own them for many, many years and rent them out. And then when the market goes even higher price than we could sell it for a profit. So we'll make money on both the cash flow and ideally, of course, in a cap or game situation.

Ken White

Yeah, no, no question. Yeah. You mentioned something that I thought before we started to record that that really just sounded so interesting. 3D printed homes. Tell us about that.

Mike Seiler

3D printed homes is what I consider to be one of the next hot things. It's a it's a proptech. So you've heard of fintech financial technology proptech just for property. And this proptech idea is something that has been really burgeoning. I know there have been some of these type homes in the past, but now we're talking about the ability to get a blueprint and really have a house built. And I'm talking about the frame of it all. Of course, you have to have someone go in and do all the appliances, the wiring separately. But as far as pouring the actual concrete of the house, imagine a very large 3D printer. So you have these rails on the perimeter of the house and then a large machine over above. It looks like maybe a cake decorator and it just kind of gently pours out concrete into whatever shape you want. The interesting thing about this is you're not just talking about a box design. So that's what you think of as a home. But you start putting two by fours next to each other in the air escapes to the vent. And so people in construction, they know about how inefficient some of these homes are. But with a 3D printing, there's no reason why you have to have right angles all the time. You know, imagine decorating a cake, you don't have to make right angles with your arm. Your arm can move freely in any way that you want it to. So think of very different designs that might be very appealing from an architectural standpoint to your eye. But also think of energy efficiency. Think of these homes as being produced much, much faster. So your wood is not being exposed to the elements for months on end during rainstorms and all that kind of stuff. And think also about the strength of it. So there are people who use ICF these hurricane-proof walls, and they form 11 inches thick and so forth. They're very nice because they can withstand very strong weather conditions. So imagine you're using kind of a commercial real estate grade material in a residential house that is going to withstand the weather. You would hope that that would translate to better efficiency because people want to escape through those thicker walls but also lower insurance rates. So don't just think of when I buy a house, what is my mortgage? It's not just principal and interest. It's also taxes and insurance. Right. And it's also repairing that house. You would imagine that the house would last a lot longer. So when you're thinking about putting money aside for roof repairs and anything with wall repair and so forth, that fund should be a little bit smaller. If you have a, you know, kind of the three wolves kind of thing, you know, the big bad wolf mentality. So a stronger home should be cheaper in the long run as well, not just more energy efficient. So those are some of the exciting things that are happening in the world of construction.

Ken White

So we'll put you on the spot. If you had your crystal ball a year from now, where do you think the market, the residential home market, might look like?

Mike Seiler

I imagine that here's my opinion on COVID. I think we obviously are winning the battle. If I imagine COVID being a really bad person. We have our boot on the throat of COVID, but we need to finish it off. And I don't know that COVID is going to be a thing may be where we have it, and then we don't. It's not like we're never going to see an outbreak again. For that reason. I don't think that we just snap our fingers, and we're done with COVID. So I don't see its effect on real estate is going away immediately. But I also, in my mind, to have this visualization of a snake that had swallowed a big pig, we need to get that pig digested, and then probably smaller animals will be consumed after that by the python. But I can see home prices continuing to go up, but far more gently. I don't think there's going to be a crash. I don't even know that they'll be necessarily a soft landing. But I definitely think that the escalated home prices cannot last forever. I mean, think about Newton's law. What goes up must come down. You don't want home prices going up too fast because then they have to come back down. It's the same type of stability that you look at in any part of the economy, of the economy. You don't want the economy to grow super fast because then it's going to end up contracting. What you want is a nice, predictable, steady stream of growth. Right now, we're in kind of a hyper normal growth in real estate. And I would like to see and think we're going to see it come down somewhat.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Professor Mike Seiler, then that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Companies, organizations, and businesses are seeking professionals who think strategically, communicate effectively and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and more in the William & Mary MBA program offered in four formats the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive MBA. Check out the William & Mary MBA program to learn more. Finally, we'd like 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, Mike Seiler, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

More Podcast Episodes

 Anna Milholland
Anna MilhollandEpisode 155: June 15, 2021
Good Books for Summer Vacation

Anna Milholland

Episode 155: June 15, 2021

Good Books for Summer Vacation

The masks are coming off, we're gathering with family and friends, and many people are making plans for a much needed and well-deserved summer vacation. Whether you're heading to the beach, the mountains, or the in-laws, if you're looking for the right book to take along we have the right person who has several recommendations in terms of good reads for your summer getaway. Anna Milholland is the business librarian at the McLeod Library at William & Mary's School of Business. She oversees the Library, its databases, books and publications, and works closely with students and faculty. We invited her to join us today to share the titles of six books she thinks you'll want to consider for your summer vacation. Some on the list are new, some not so new, some are fairly easy reads while others may be challenging. But each book on the list is relevant, interesting, and thought provoking.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

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Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How "Leading Change" by John Kotter can help multiple industries in a post-COVID world
  • Why "Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism" by Safiya Umoja Noble is extremely relevant
  • How "Fish: A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results" can help managers motivate their team
  • What Karlos K. Hill asserts is the lasting legacy of the racial violence in "The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: A Photographic History"
  • How Glennon Doyle's "Untamed" can teach people to live their authentic selves
  • Why Anna would take Brene Brown's "Dare to Lead" to read on vacation
  • How the McLeod Library was able to successfully pivot to virtual services
  • What the library services will look like once everything goes back to "normal"
Transcript

Anna Milholland: Good Books for Summer Vacation 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. Well, the masks are coming off. We're gathering with family and friends, and many people are making plans for a much-needed and well-deserved summer vacation. Whether you're heading to the beach, the mountains, or the in-laws, if you're looking for the right book to take along, we have the right person who has several recommendations in terms of good reads for your summer getaway. Anna Milholland is the business librarian at the McLeod Library at William & Mary School of Business. She oversees the library, its databases, books, and publications and works closely with students and faculty. We invited her to join us today to share the titles of six books she thinks you'll want to consider for your summer vacation. Some on the list are new, some not so new, some are fairly easy reads, while others may be challenging. But each book on the list is relevant, interesting, and thought-provoking. Here's our conversation with the business librarian at William & Mary School of Business, Anna Milholland.

Ken White

Anna, thanks very much for sharing your time. We should say it should be quiet today. Graduation just occurred as we're recording. So it's the day after the big storm. What a great weekend it was. Right. It's so nice to see all those grads get their diplomas. And now it's nice and quiet again.

Anna Milholland

Absolutely.

Ken White

Yeah.

Anna Milholland

Yes. We have this giant celebration and then a day of recovery.

Ken White

And you work closely with faculty and students. So, you know, you get to know everybody. So it's a big day for you as well.

Anna Milholland

I do. Yes. Graduation is always a campus-wide celebration, and the library certainly takes part in that. We really relish in our student's successes. We recognize how hard it is to graduate from William & Mary, and certainly, we celebrate with our faculty as well.

Ken White

Yeah, it was a big weekend. It's nice to have you here. So now for a lot of folks heading off to vacation. Right. And it's always nice to take a good book or two with you. And so thanks very much for bringing a few suggestions with us. In terms of your list. Why don't you share it with us? What do you have? What are you recommending?

Anna Milholland

Absolutely. So my first is a classic business text, Leading Change by John Kotter. Dr. Kotter is the leading change management expert. He's on faculty at Harvard Business School. In this particular book, which was initially published in the mid-90s, is considered by many to be sort of the defining change management text.

Ken White

Yeah.

Anna Milholland

There was this recent commentary from the Canadian Medical Education Journal, which discussed how a hospital emergency room employee, Dr. Kotter's eight-step process for change management during COVID, which is really inspiring. I think this is one that can be used and is used across industries.

Ken White

Yeah, what has not changed.

Anna Milholland

Right.

Ken White

Especially the last couple of years, right?

Anna Milholland

Yes.

Ken White

Interesting.

Anna Milholland

And we use this text in libraries, too, and I think it's really helpful, and it resonates just across the board as we all kind of consider how to create a sense of urgency around a change, how to build that guiding coalition, forming that strategic vision and initiatives, enlisting volunteers, removing barriers and enabling action when we do that, generating short term wins, which are just critical for any success to continue in sustaining that acceleration and then instituting the change.

Ken White

It could be an interesting read, especially because we all just went through a considerable amount of change.

Anna Milholland

Yes, yes.

Ken White

So you're looking back and forward.

Anna Milholland

Yes, absolutely.

Ken White

Excellent.

Anna Milholland

I think we will continue to see monumental change. So, yes, it's a great piece for reflection, but it's also a great piece for propelling us.

Ken White

Wonderful. So the first one is leading change. How about your second recommendation?

Anna Milholland

So this I would classify as my all-around must-read for summer. It's called Algorithms of Oppression How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Umoja Noble. It's published by NYU Press. And Dr. Noble is a professor at the University of Southern California. And she came to academia with an extensive background in working in advertising and marketing for Fortune 100 accounts.

Ken White

What do you like about it?

Anna Milholland

Yeah, so this particular book was published after years of study about search engines, particularly Google, though Dr. Nobel does include examples from others and how Google queries for black and Latino girls and women reveal and reflect systematic racism, which is it's really interesting. It's incredibly relevant, as it always has been. And it's not an easy beach read, but I think it is a book that requires attention and focus and personal interrogation about biases, and it's 100 percent worth it.

Ken White

And relevant again.

Anna Milholland

Absolutely.

Ken White

Right. But the first two seem extremely relevant. We can tie it right to what's happening today.

Anna Milholland

Absolutely.

Ken White

Interesting. Now your third recommendation.

Anna Milholland

Sure. This one is for motivation, motivating your team. I think, again, this year has been challenging for many of us. And as we are returning to the workplace in many places, we're kind of redefining who our teams are again because we've existed in this virtual environment, and now we're face to face. So a book that I have loved since I was in grad school is called Fish A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results. And it's by Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen. And I first read it, as I mentioned, as part of a library management course. But the philosophies and attitudes, I think, just really continue to resonate. I particularly love the concepts of choosing your attitude. I think that's so critical for coming to work each day and for framing your workday, but also play because it's so important for creating a workplace where people want to be and where they can be their best creative selves.

Ken White

Yeah, again, relevant. Wow. This is what's happening today. Right. And work is changing so much. So fantastic.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Anna Milholland in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. The Post COVID World will require new skills and new approaches. And those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different MBA formats, including the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive, all taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty, the William & Mary MBA, will prepare you to succeed and lead in our new world. Check out the MBA program at William & Mary. Now back to our conversation with Anna Milholland on Good reads for your summer vacation.

Ken White

How about your fourth?

Anna Milholland

Yes, this is what I would call the twenty twenty-one-themed read, and I want to preface it with this. So amidst Jim Crow, segregation, and racial violence against African-Americans, Tulsa's Greenwood District, a center of African-American commerce which was also known as Black Wall Street, thrived. In light of the one 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre of 1921. I want to highlight a book that I haven't read, but I want to read. And it's called The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre A Photographic History by Karlos K. Hill. Dr. Hill's research expertise and scholarship centers on racial violence. And he is a professor at the University of Oklahoma. And is it okay if I read the description from the OU press?

Ken White

Yeah, please. That's great.

Anna Milholland

Okay, here's an excerpt. Historian and Black Studies Professor Karlos K. Hill presents a range of photographs taken before, during, and after the massacre, mostly by white photographers. Some of the images are published here for the first time. Comparing these photographs to those taken elsewhere in the United States of lynchings. The author makes a powerful case for terming the 1921 outbreak not a riot but a massacre. White civilians, in many cases assisted or condoned by local and state law enforcement, perpetuated a systematic and coordinated attack on black Tulsans and their property. Despite all the violence and devastation, Black Tulsan's rebuilt the Greenwood district brick by brick, by brick, by brick. By the mid 20th century, Greenwood had reached a new zenith with nearly 250 black-owned and black-operated businesses. Today, the citizens of Greenwood, with support from the broader community, continue to work diligently to revive the neighborhood once known as Black Wall Street. As a result, Hill asserts, the most important legacy of the Tulsa race massacre is the grit and resilience of the black survivors of racist violence.

Ken White

No doubt a light read this sounds powerful.

Anna Milholland

It really does. It sounds like an incredible read, especially considering the anniversary of the race massacre is May 31st through June 1st of 2021.

Ken White

And your fifth recommendation?

Anna Milholland

My fifth is Untamed by Glennon Doyle. I want to say that I did not read this book. I listened to it, and I don't listen to audiobooks very often. But this one was amazing. So I was really on pins and needles waiting for this book to come out last year because I followed Doyle for a long time from when she was a blogger, and she authored a blog called Momastery. And this memoir was really a story of her living into her values and living into her authentic self. And I think after a year at home, a year of change, and a year of chaos, for many of us, it might have also been an opportunity for us to figure out what our values are and maybe do a deeper dive into who we are authentically and who we want to be. So I highly recommend this, and I recommend it as an audiobook because Glennon Doyle narrates it.

Ken White

Yeah, excellent. I'm going to put you on the spot. If you were going to leave for the beach today, what would you take with you? Something on this list or maybe something else?

Anna Milholland

Oh gosh. I would take Brene Brown's dare to lead brave work, tough conversations, whole hearts. I listen to one of her audiobooks actually about parenting. And it really, again, it really struck me. And I was able to apply many of the principles that she mentioned in my own life. And so I've long wanted to read this. I think it would be what I would take.

Ken White

Fantastic six excellent recommendations. And while we have you here, let's shift gears a little bit. You know, on our podcast, it seems almost on every episode we're talking with somebody in an industry and in a sector that is that's been disrupted. It's evolving. It's transforming. Your space I think if someone has not been to their alma mater and their business school library, they're not ready for what they're going to see. There aren't stacks of books anymore. If someone were to ask you what's the library look like in the business school, could you give them a, you know, sort of an explanation?

Anna Milholland

I would say we are a place where disruptive change happens. And it's funny. When we all went when we when the world shut down, and many of us left and began working from home, I think there were there were concerns across the board about how we would all adapt to doing our work from home.

Ken White

Yeah.

Anna Milholland

Librarians, because we are so closely tied with IT, library, and information science, we had already pivoted. So we offer so many resources virtually, including our databases but also our research consultations. And I think that we were really adept and prepared for what that shift from physical to virtual would look like.

Ken White

Yeah. How do you spend a typical day with students and faculty? What do you do?

Anna Milholland

So I still work with books, but academic libraries, I think, are really centered on the research and curricular needs of our faculty and students. So this might involve engaging with work like Bibliometrics, which involves benchmarking faculty scholarship against our own brand, as well as other institutions. Thinking about how much our faculty are producing, how many citations those works are garnering, and so forth. But it also includes teaching students and teaching faculty about the resources that we have. So we I work with students in one on one and group research consultations via Zoom right now on finding appropriate resources that would meet their research question. But it also goes beyond just the discovery of the content. So we work with students on how they might analyze and use some of this information to create new knowledge. With faculty, we also can help with and do help with research as well. So it really runs the gamut. We license materials. We're copyright experts. We field questions about open education resources and open access, and where faculty and students can publish their content. So it I would say, like the scholarly communication side of the libraries, is really it's really grown in the last 15 to 20 years. And the publishing side, and we're all part of that.

Ken White

The typical, say, undergraduate student who uses the library, what do they tend to be coming for? Is there something they use more than other items?

Anna Milholland

Sure. I would say that many of them are looking for our undergrads are really smart. I should just say our undergraduate students are brilliant. So I'm not sure William & Mary, typical undergrad, is is analogous to another school's typical undergrad. But our students are looking for data. They're looking for a primary source market research about an industry or about a consumer. They are looking for scholarly articles, many of them. I work very closely with our marketing research undergraduate course. And so, they are looking for a primary source scholarship about marketing research methodologies that they could potentially apply to survey methods and so on.

Ken White

So some printed materials, some traditional kind of research, but also the database.

Anna Milholland

Absolutely.

Ken White

Databases seem to be huge.

Anna Milholland

They're massively huge. So we have about 50 databases that are I would consider to be business-centric. We also license a lot of data through a variety of providers. And, yeah, our students, they long for it. I mean, they desperately need data to make good decisions and to make their research fuller. So we work with them. Yeah. To on a lot of those things.

Ken White

But part of your job is to determine which data are important.

Anna Milholland

Absolutely.

Ken White

To give them access.

Anna Milholland

And that's all part of the research question. So we do a research interview, rather. We do what's called a research interview with students whenever they come in for a consultation, or they come to the desk, and we ask a lot of probing questions to figure out exactly what they're working on and exactly what data they need to be able to complete their assignment.

Ken White

And this can be costly.

Anna Milholland

Oh, data are expensive.

Ken White

Right.

Anna Milholland

Yes. Our subscriptions, I mean, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Ken White

Right.

Anna Milholland

And that's just for the business school. That's not considering all of the other databases and information that students at William & Mary, students, faculty, and staff at William & Mary have access to through William & Mary Libraries.

Ken White

What do you see in the year ahead as we and I put the word normal in quotes? How do you see the year ahead? Any major changes in terms of the library and the services and how it's used?

Anna Milholland

You know, I think that we're still all trying to figure out what back to work will look like.

Ken White

Yeah.

Anna Milholland

I think across the board, though, I would say that the library services will remain consistent. We are still offering course reserves. We still offer students and faculty in our community the opportunity to come to the library and browse for books. We still will offer research consultations. How we do, that might be a little bit different, but our same core services will be the same.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Anna Milholland once again. Her six recommendations for summer reading include Leading Change by John Kotter, Algorithms of Oppression by Safiya Noble; Fish A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results by Lundin, Paul, and Christiensen; The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, A Photographic History by Karlos Hill; Untamed by Glennon Doyle; and finally Dare to Lead Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts by Brene Brown. Well, that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Companies, organizations, and businesses are seeking professionals who think strategically, communicate effectively and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and more in the William & Mary MBA program offered in four formats the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive MBA. Check out the William & Mary MBA program to learn more. Finally, we'd like 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, Anna Milholland, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

More Podcast Episodes

 Micah West
Micah WestEpisode 154: May 17, 2021
The Class of 2021

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Episode 154: May 17, 2021

The Class of 2021

It's graduation season, and if there's a class that deserves to be celebrated, it's the class of 2021. This group experienced higher education like no one before them. Most of these new grads began school before the pandemic when college campuses operated mostly in a face-to-face environment. Then the pandemic forced schools to quickly shift to virtual learning, and eventually for some schools a mix of virtual and in-person instruction. Things were different on campuses, and for many students things were challenging. The class of 2021 was forced to be flexible and resilient. Micah West is a member of the MBA class of 2021 at William & Mary. A BYU graduate, he entered the MBA program after working in digital marketing and e-commerce for organizations like eBay, overstock.com, the Dress Barn. In addition to being a full time grad student, he's a husband and father of four school-age daughters. He joins us today to talk about the class of 2021, their experiences, and the lessons they'll take away from attending school during a pandemic.

Podcast (audio)

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Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What Micah was hoping to get out of his MBA
  • How COVID changed the landscape of higher learning
  • What it's like to learn over zoom
  • Why Micah elected to remain in class via zoom during hybrid learning
  • What were classroom discussions like over zoom
  • How were team assignments dealt with in a remote setting
  • How are internships managed during a pandemic
  • What it was like going to school and raising a family during the pandemic
Transcript

Micah West: The Class of 2021 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 graduation season. And if there's a class that deserves to be celebrated, it's the class of 2021. This group experienced higher education like no one before them. Most of these new grads began school before the pandemic when college campuses operated mostly in a face-to-face environment. Then the pandemic forced schools to quickly shift to virtual learning and, eventually, for some schools, a mix of virtual and in-person instruction. Things were different on campuses, and for many students, things were challenging. The class of 20 21 was forced to be flexible and resilient. Micah West is a member of the MBA class of 2021 at William & Mary. A BYU graduate, he entered the MBA program after working in digital marketing and e-commerce for organizations like eBay, Overstock.com, and Dress Barn. In addition to being a full-time grad student, he's a husband and father of four school-aged daughters. He joins us today to talk about the class of 2021, its experiences, and the lessons it'll take away from attending school during a pandemic. Here's our conversation with Micah West.

Ken White

Well, Micah, thanks very much for sharing your time. First of all, are you done? Are you officially done now?

Micah West

Today is the last day I've got one more final.

Ken White

So I can't congratulate you just quite yet.

Micah West

Yeah, yeah.

Ken White

Well, I will. I will say congratulations. That's really exciting. Graduation's coming up. Will you participate.

Micah West

Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah.

Ken White

Wonderful. Wonderful. So you came to business school after a good, good career. You had some great jobs, and back in August of nineteen, you decided to pursue your MBA. What were you thinking it would be like because it wasn't exactly what you thought it would be, but what were you hoping to experience?

Micah West

Yeah, I was really hoping to come in and network with incredible individuals and, you know, come out the other side with a bit of a career change, honestly. And, you know, to the, for the most part, that's what's happened. I mean, there's been some really amazing people in the program that I've met, and I'm looking forward to continuing those relationships postgraduation.

Ken White

A lot of people in your who were pursuing MBAs, undergraduates not right now, are saying, I didn't sign up for this. You know, this was really different. What were some of the unexpected things that that you experienced?

Micah West

Well, COVID was huge, right? I think for everyone, you know, you come into a full-time in-person MBA program, and then COVID hits and, you know, everybody's trying to adjust and well, you know, we went to this complete remote schooling for a while and then we kind of switched to hybrid. But I mean, you just come in and roll with the punches, really. But I mean, the class the professors were incredible. They adjusted well, you know, and you still felt like you got the learnings out of the program, which is, you know, what you came here for in the first place.

Ken White

That transition was pretty quick. I mean, for all of us, of course, all industries. And one day, we're all together. The next day we're not, and here we had a little bit of a break because of spring break. And then suddenly, you were in Zoom world. What was it like to learn that way?

Micah West

You know, it was interesting. I think, to start with, you're fine, right? I mean, you jump in, and it's the same concentration levels if you were in class. I think the things that you miss ultimately are just the small conversations that you get to have before class and after class, the conversations, you know, the small talk that you'd have with the professors. So it's more of a formal situation, at least it was in the beginning. And then I think we all learned to relax a little bit and, you know, take it in stride and have fun. But, yeah, it was challenging, I think, in the beginning, but still good.

Ken White

Then after a set period of time, William & Mary's MBA program was able to go hybrid, as we call it. You could go to class in person, or you could stay on Zoom. You elected to stay on Zoom.

Micah West

I did.

Ken White

Yeah. Why did you make that choice?

Micah West

You know, I was by that time I had acclimated to online, and I thought to myself, you know, I don't have to come and pay for parking, and you know, I can still get the same education, you know, online as I can kind of in person. I've built decent relationships already, kind of having that in-person experience at the beginning of class. And, you know, I figured out a way by that time to, you know, still not work. And so I was like, hey, we're golden. You know, we can. I can do this from home and still get all the benefits, which was great.

Ken White

What were classroom discussions like?

Micah West

It's always interesting on Zoom because you've got, you know, just the reality of it. You've got people that are really engaged and some that are not. And so, you know, it's the people that are engaged make the experience worth it, you know, and, you know, you try to be one of those people so that the that experience for everyone is really good. But I mean, we had amazing discussions. Ron Hess, I remember, you know, joking with us and just really diving into subjects and doing learnings that you didn't think you were going to be able to have that first semester during, you know, during the Zoom calls. And man, it was just it was great. Kudos to the professors for making that shift so quickly.

Ken White

And Ron Hess is a marketing professor here at William & Mary. So you're listening to your professor. But I've seen in a number of calls. Students will start talking to each other on the chat function.

Micah West

Absolutely.

Ken White

How do you manage both of those?

Micah West

Yeah, no, I think it's great. I mean, there's always the in student to student banter going on behind the scenes.

Ken White

Right.

Micah West

So I've got one of my buddies, Dan Kelly. He you know, we're that's kind of the whole class. We're listening to Professor, and we're making comments.

Ken White

Right.

Micah West

You know, in the back row, as it were.

Ken White

And what was interesting is a lot of faculty initially were very worried about that. I remember all of us getting together. Do we turn chat off? Do we leave it on and found leaving it on was great. I mean, students really enjoyed this. And it wasn't like they were talking about what's on ESPN.com.

Micah West

Exactly.

Ken White

These were really good conversations.

Micah West

Yeah.

Ken White

Yeah.

Micah West

Yeah, you're having these conversations, I think, about the topics in class and, you know, there's some other joking stuff

Ken White

Sure.

Micah West

going on, of course. But, you know, it just made the environment fun, and it kept it real still. Which was nice.

Ken White

What about team assignments? Because an MBA is so much teamwork. How is that in a remote setting?

Micah West

It was it was great. I mean, given Google Docs and given, you know, one drive, Microsoft one drive, I mean, you were able to go in. You know, the nice thing, I think one of the learnings for me coming out of this is just remote team management. Right. And you get in, and it's like, okay, I've done this enough times now where I know that we've got to on this document that we're working on this for this assignment. We've got to make sure that all everybody's clear on, like, what their part is when things are due. And so it's like you almost write this mini agenda for workplan almost on the top of your document. Right.

Ken White

Yeah.

Micah West

So that everybody's clear on what and then everybody can go back to that because you have these conversations on Zoom and you forget things, obviously, because you've got so much going on. Sure. So anyway, it's just been great. I mean, the I think that aspect has been good, especially going into the workforce. I'm going to GSK.

Ken White

Right.

Micah West

We're all remote still. So, I mean, you still have this remote work environment that we've been prepped for, which has been great. Yeah.

Ken White

So do you think the work world and the education world will embrace some of the remote functions that we experienced this year when things are, quote, back to normal?

Micah West

Yeah, I mean, you've got Google, you've got Facebook. I mean, there's a bunch of different companies, even some of the management consulting firms or, you know, a lot of them are remote or going to this hybrid workforce. GSK was a part-time remote. They were a 3-2 before. And so the switch to full remote wasn't that big of a deal. And I'm assuming they'll get back to kind of a three-two. But yeah, I mean, it's I can totally see that shifting.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Micah West of the class of 2021 in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. The post COVID world will require new skills and new approaches. Those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different formats in the MBA, including the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive, all taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty. The William & Mary MBA will prepare you to succeed and lead in our new world. Check out the MBA program at William & Mary. Now back to our conversation with Micah West from the class of 2021.

Ken White

And the job is a huge aspect of the MBA, and normally you meet with recruiters face to face, there are career fairs, people come here. That was all turned upside down. Where did you intern?

Micah West

GSK.

Ken White

And then how did you get the internship? How did you manage that in this in this different way?

Micah West

Yeah. So luckily we I went to National Black before COVID.

Ken White

The National Black MBA Career Fair, which is this huge career fair for MBA students all across the country.

Micah West

Correct.

Ken White

Yeah.

Micah West

And it was the last. It's a two-day fair for those who don't know.

Ken White

Yeah.

Micah West

And I, you know, I went in talking to kind of my core, wanting to talk to all the core people that I was interested in interning with. And I'm walking out at four o'clock. The conference ends at four o'clock. I'm walking out at like four o five the last day.

Ken White

Wow.

Micah West

And GSK is like I'm walking past their booth. And they just happened to catch my eye. And I'm like, you know, I haven't talked with them, and I don't really know who they are.

Ken White

Yeah.

Micah West

And so I went and spoke with them, and I was like, this is exactly what I've been looking for. And they loved my resumé. And so it was like this match made in heaven. But I it was just happenstance on the very last day, the final hour, which was just, you know, you just go and go and go for two days. And

Ken White

Yeah.

Micah West

it was great. I did go to National Black remotely the second time.

Ken White

Right.

Micah West

And I'll tell you, the experience was not good.

Ken White

Right, it couldn't be the same. I mean, that is such a phenomenal event where we take all of our full-time MBA students every year. Chicago, I think it is next year. And there are hundreds and hundreds of fantastic companies. They're looking for MBAs. It is just the quintessential speed dating.

Micah West

It is. It's fantastic. Yeah. So I mean for people that I would suggest if you're a full-time MBA student, like go

Ken White

Oh yeah.

Micah West

go in person. Like, the opportunities are incredible there.

Ken White

So what was your internship? Was it mostly remote?

Micah West

It was mostly remote. Yeah, it was all remote. In fact, they before COVID, they flew us up for a weekend, and we were able to kind of meet the teams and meet our fellow interns. And then everything switched because of COVID, and we were remote for the summer, and it was still great, you know, it was still fantastic.

Ken White

What will you be doing?

Micah West

Brand management.

Ken White

Great.

Micah West

So I just got my brand assignment yesterday, actually.

Ken White

Yeah. Excellent. Excellent. So you, like many MBA students, have a family?

Micah West

I do.

Ken White

And you have children who are in school. What was that like managing? I can't imagine our children are grown, and we were even talking about it recently as one graduated from college. What would it have been like that when, wow, what was that like?

Micah West

The first month was fascinating. So I four daughters, a set of twins that are in first grade. I've got a second-grader and a fourth-grader. So all in all, in elementary school, luckily, three of the girls are extremely studious. And I've got one that, you know, needs a little bit of handholding—our sports girl. But yeah, it was interesting. They you know, they were my wife was working, and so they were doing remote school on Zoom, and I was on remote school. And so I literally had to go back and forth between their classes and my classes for a good couple of weeks, month. And it was pretty stressful for the first month. But, you know, after that, my wife was able to transition a little bit, and she took over the day-to-day, and it got better, which was great. But yeah, it was a little hairy there for about a month.

Ken White

Yeah, I'm sure one of the things that I think was unexpected or at least people didn't think about, but many experienced was simply the bandwidth at home. Everybody needed Internet. Did you have any problems?

Micah West

Yeah, all five of us were on computers. So, you know, it's, and we had a we ran into a couple of challenges, but luckily there was enough. The girls had like set times, and we had set times. And so we were able to mitigate that, you know, for the most part. But yeah, there were definitely some bandwidth challenges.

Ken White

You know you seemed to have weathered the storm, so to speak, quite well. You know, there are a lot of people in school, whether undergrad, MBA, Ph.D. programs had a rough, rough time. It was just very difficult. What would you do? Did any classmates come your way and say, I'm struggling here? And if so, what kind of advice were you able to share with them?

Micah West

You know, you could just tell that people were, you know, we're having some challenges and, you know, especially with internships and other things. And, you know, we had a lot of internship, I wouldn't say a lot, but they're a fair percentage of internships that dropped out. People had internships, and then, you know, companies had to pull back because of COVID. And, you know, I just remember reaching out to everyone on my LinkedIn network that I possibly could to say, hey, what is your company doing? I spent hours, like, just trying to do. Because you like you feel so bad like you've got these just really incredible people in your program, and you want to help them, and it turned out great. I mean, it ended up working out for everybody that I know of.

Ken White

Yeah.

Micah West

But, you know, it's just. Yeah, I mean, you band together as part of that network and, you know, try to help each other and, you know, try to have each other's backs as much as possible.

Ken White

I mean, this has to be the most resilient class ever in the history of education. I mean, you guys have really been through it. So there have been some definitely some highs and lows and some challenges. Does it bring teams together at the end? For the most part, we are helping each other and those instances.

Micah West

Yeah, I think you have to. I mean, you know, you've always got the people that just give their 120 percent. And then, you know, every once in a while, you get somebody who doesn't, and the rest of the team bands together. And that's what I mean. You get it done. It's like what you have to do. It's like, you know, if you're in a job and, you know, you work with those teammates that are just stellar, and you get it done.

Ken White

Are there lessons that you and your classmates will take away from your experience? Because it was rather unique.

Micah West

I think some of the biggest lessons for me were just around the remote work managing teams remotely. And I think just taking a step back and recognizing that you know, everybody's kind of going through something different, and you have to give people a little bit of space to be able to kind of work through things on their own. And just, you know, you'd be a you just support people as much as you can and meet them where they are. You know, I think those are some of the bigger takeaways for me.

Ken White

Which is good advice in any environment, whether you're in school or at work, too. Yeah. So graduation's in a couple of weeks you'll be there. I'm sure it'll be a great day for you.

Micah West

It will be, yeah. Hopefully have the family there, and we're waiting on one ticket, but we'll get there.

Ken White

Yeah. And we're praying for 70 degrees and sunny skies.

Micah West

That's right, exactly.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Micah West, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Companies, organizations, and businesses are seeking professionals to lead in our post COVID world. Professionals who think strategically, communicate effectively, and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and more in the William & Mary MBA program. Offered in four formats the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive. Check out the William & Mary MBA program to learn more. Finally, we'd like 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, Micah West, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead. And to the class of 2021 in high schools, colleges, and universities all over the world, a heartfelt congratulations.

More Podcast Episodes

 Henry Broaddus
Henry BroaddusEpisode 153: May 1, 2021
College Admissions & the Pandemic

Henry Broaddus

Episode 153: May 1, 2021

College Admissions & the Pandemic

College Admissions. Like many other sectors, it has seen significant disruption this past year. Admissions offices across the United States are in the midst of a cycle the likes of which they'd never seen. First, COVID-19 hit which kept college-bound high school students from visiting campuses. Then, some high schools moved from letter grades to pass/fail grades. Then, many colleges and universities waived the required SAT and ACT. Those events and others have changed the admissions landscape considerably this year. As a result, some schools like William & Mary have seen significant increases in applications while others experienced dramatic drops. Henry Broaddus is Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Public Affairs at William & Mary. He spent over a decade in the admissions profession at Dartmouth and William & Mary. Now admissions and financial aid are a part of his leadership portfolio. He joins us today to talk about the pandemic's effect on high school students, their families, and college admissions here at William & Mary and across the country.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

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Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • Why are some universities seeing more of an influx of applicants than others
  • What have been the biggest factors for the increase in applicants
  • How have universities adapted to applicants not being able to visit campus
  • What is the Common App and how has it had an effect on admissions during the pandemic
  • How have admissions formulas changed during the pandemic
  • What have universities and colleges done to ensure a diverse incoming class
  • What does the future hold for college admissions
Transcript

Henry Broaddus: College Admissions & 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. College admissions. Like many other sectors, it has seen significant disruption this past year. Admissions offices across the United States are in the midst of a cycle the likes of which they've never seen. First COVID-19 hit, which kept college-bound high school students from visiting campuses. Then some high schools moved from letter grades to pass-fail grades. Then many colleges and universities waived the required SAT and ACT. Well, those events and others have changed the admissions landscape considerably this year. As a result, some schools like William & Mary have seen significant increases in applications, while others experienced dramatic drops. Henry Broaddus is Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Public Affairs at William & Mary. He spent over a decade in the admissions profession at Dartmouth and William & Mary. Now admissions and financial aid are a part of his leadership portfolio. He joins us today to talk about the pandemic's effect on high school students, their families, and college admissions here at William & Mary and across the country. Here's our conversation with Henry Broaddus.

Ken White

Well, Henry, thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule. Seems like everybody's so busy today in our Zoom world. So, thanks very much. I'm sure your schedule is just as packed as it's ever been.

Henry Broaddus

Well, it's delightful to be with you, Ken. And what's fun about this Zoom is this is a little bit more like one of those hall conversations that one would have when going between meetings. So this is the life.

Ken White

Exactly. Yeah. Thank you. So much written about college admissions this year in the media, it seems like that's the big topic. What's going on? We hear a lot about test-optional, what's happening with admissions, and what we're seeing is many top-tier universities are seeing an influx of applications. Other universities, not so much. What's happening? What's causing that?

Henry Broaddus

Sure. Well, it's a great question to start with. And we are seeing a very interesting set of dynamics in these applicant pools. The Common Application saw an increase of applications submitted this year that was at about 11 percent. But the increase in applicants was less than three percent. And as you point out, there was clustering of where you were seeing this kind of growth. So here at William & Mary, we had a twenty-three percent increase in our applicant pool, which was substantial. That puts, as you would expect, strain on process. But elsewhere, it's been uneven. And I think it's fair to say that the most selective places, flagship universities, flagship, both in terms of size and stature and also urban campuses prior to the pandemic were where a lot of the action was you know there's going to be some interesting disruption, and we're going to still see where things fall out. But that's been where the growth occurs. And one other thing I'd point out, Ken, is that the decision to go test-optional has been one of the things that has stoked the growth in these pools because it's really removing a barrier. So more students are electing to take a shot at a pool in that way. And then another factor that I think you have to take into consideration is the inability to have visited campuses in the same way and pare down college lists. So I think many students are taking more of a broad net approach just because they've not had that ability to evaluate which ones are really the best fit.

Ken White

Yeah, wow. Didn't think of the fact people can't get to campus, but William & Mary, along with some other schools, did some pretty clever came up with some pretty clever ideas so prospective students could see campus and get a bit of a feel, right.

Henry Broaddus

Well absolutely. I think every college and university has been going through reinvention of what outreach and recruitment looks like in these new minutes, not unlike what you and your colleagues in the business school are doing with classes that are hybrid and remote. So actually, it's interesting as I speak to you. Although we are not yet running in-person campus tours through our undergraduate admissions offices, we are, in fact, offering four varieties of tours. So there is a video tour, there is a virtual tour with even richer media. There is a self-guided tour that's available to a visiting family that wants to walk around on its own. And we do have tours for which one signs up that are guided by a student, but they're more like a slide show and with a student presenting via Zoom.

Ken White

Yeah, interesting time for families to look at schools. You briefly mentioned the Common App. I think a lot of people know what that is, but many people might not. Can you give us a definition on what that is and how that sort of changed things?

Henry Broaddus

Absolutely. And you're right to point out that it's still going to be new. I expect a lot of your listeners really only about a generation old. So so the Common App started in the mid-70s, but it really took off late later than that and became the ubiquitous tool to use to apply to colleges and universities. And the benevolent function of the Common App is that it reduces the strain of what it takes to submit individual applications. But there is a downside to that. The University of Chicago, for example, was one of the later adopters of the Common App and for a time really prided itself on saying, look, when you apply to us, we don't want you to be applying to college generally, we want you to be applying to the University of Chicago specifically because you've done the research and you see it as a match. So there are pros and cons. I think overall, most in the profession would say that the Common App has done a great job of creating more access, enabling students to grow lists in responsible ways. But others would say it has led to a kind of shotgun approach, that means you're going to see declines in yield, more volatility within the system, and many students that will just misuse the instrument thinking kind of a fallacy that if I just apply to enough of these highly selective places, at least one of them is going to take me. These aren't random trials or rolls of the die. So that's just not how it works.

Ken White

Yeah, we look at the test-optional, so many schools have embraced, how does the admissions profession and universities in general, how do they view the test? Why is the SAT the ACT? Why are those important today?

Henry Broaddus

Yeah, excellent question. And even prior to the pandemic, this was a conversation we were having internally at William & Mary? And the only thing that the SAT is intended to measure is not even to measure, to predict is freshman year GPA. Now, what we know and what the College Board itself shows through its own research is that high school GPA by itself is more predictive of first-year college GPA than the standardized test. But having both is more predictive than either in isolation. And actually, at William & Mary, we had a ten-year study of research looking at a single school system in Virginia with more than twenty-seven hundred data points in this study. Where we were looking at how predictive is the GPA from high school, how predictive is the SAT for a William & Mary first-year GPA? And what we concluded was that, yes, having both adds predictive value, but having one or the other, but not both is pretty close. And so the debate we were having is, is it worth it in terms of all the other things that a standardized testing requirement imposes on families to get that modest additional predictive value? And what we also know is it's more predictive for some groups than others. So we know, for example, low- income students tend to outperform what their test score predicts. Many students of color, same thing. This is okay in the context of our process as long as there is keen awareness of that limitation of the measure. And so one of the things that I would say is there is great acknowledgment of the flaws of the test, but that doesn't mean it's useless as long as that awareness is being brought to bear. So we were again in the midst of this debate when then the pandemic created, I think, what was a clear and compelling reason for at least one year to be test-optional because students did not and did not have access and could not get access to a test administration. We went further than that, as did several others and said, if we're going to do that, let's really embrace this as an opportunity to see if we can conduct a test-optional process, not the same thing, by the way, of saying we don't want standardized tests where there's no rule, but that we're not going to require it for all of our applicants. And we've committed to a three-year pilot. We just finished the first cycle of that with the class that will arrive here next fall. The reason to do three years is that we that will give us time to see their first-year GPA, evaluate any unforeseen consequences of this ship, and then make a longer-term decision about what the right role for testing is in our process.

Ken White

Interesting. You know what? I think people who are unfamiliar with admissions find fascinating is in that world, there are formulas that the admissions professionals use to determine. Okay, we have a number of apps over here. This is how many we need to accept and so forth. Is that, I assume, sort of turned a little upside down this year because of all the changes.

Henry Broaddus

It's turned a lot upside down. And I think maybe you'd say there used to be formulas that one could apply here. So the year under pandemic. So going back to last spring when we recognized that we were going to have a really crazy year ahead of us, even then, I don't think we saw just how volatile it was going to become. So give you again an example in the context of William & Mary; usually, our admission team will see what you refer to as summer melt on the magnitude of about one hundred students. So we're enrolling a class of 15 20. You would get you'd want to get north of that by about one hundred so that you're buffered against waitlist activity elsewhere. Students who decide to take a gap year. Other reasons that students are going to fall out between that May one deposit deadline and convocation. In the cycle that that ended when students arrived in the fall of 20, we had lost more than two hundred and fifty students to summer melt. So really shot holes in the predictive value of that formula. And I think the great question is whether the cycle we're in now, where we're in the month of April, the cruelest month, as T.S. Elliot would say, but the one that puts admission officers on the edge of their chairs because they're waiting to see what choices students will make. The question is, will we see a rebound or a rebound to kind of the old yield, or is last year the indicator of the new normal?

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Henry Broaddus in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. The Post COVID World will require new skills and new approaches. And those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different MBA formats, including the full- time, the part-time, the online, and the executive, all taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty, the William & Mary MBA, will prepare you to succeed and lead in our new world. Check out the MBA programs at William & Mary. Now back to our conversation with Henry Broaddus.

Ken White

I don't think the average person has any idea how tough the admissions world is. Wow, it's brutal, and it's a profession, you know, it takes a lot of education and an experience to do this the right way, doesn't it?

Henry Broaddus

Yeah, absolutely. And I think the reality of it is Ken that at some point, the craft of building statistical models gives way to the instincts of something like a gambler. And you're really trying to read what the signals are based on a variety of many of them highly qualitative indicators. Tim Wolfe, our dean of admission, is a master at that. But you are right. It is a is an art as well as a science.

Ken White

Yeah. Now I know you and I, you were talking to some of our business school faculty and staff recently, and you were talking about some of the efforts William & Mary has put into place to ensure that those incoming students include a diverse population as well. Tell us about some of the things that the school is doing. It's pretty cool stuff.

Henry Broaddus

Yeah, absolutely. Well, obviously, we take very seriously the obligation to enroll a diverse class. We know that that's going to create the best learning environment for all of our students. A great letter Emmerson writes, where he says, I pay the schoolmaster, but it's the school mates to educate my son. And I think what we all know about a great undergraduate residential college experience is that it's those late-night dorm conversations. It's getting challenged by somebody who approaches a problem from a very different perspective or background that leads to the best, the best outcome. So it is critically important, and it's critically important for us as a public university. So we've been looking at a variety of ways to help do even better on that measure, one that I'll just give you as an example because we're in our first year of it. And it's something that that I'm just enormously excited about is our partnership with the Posse Foundation. And the Posse Foundation has a concept that quite literally, Debbie Bial, their founder, received a MacArthur Genius Award because it is just a genius idea, which is that one of the ways to improve success for students who are often first-generation is to not expect them to be solo operators but to enroll a group of them and have that group start working together late spring into summer. So that then when this posse of 10 students arrives together, they have that peer-to-peer support that's going to contribute to successful outcomes. So what Posse does is they work with partner universities. We became a Posse partner university, and we'll be the first university in the country to enroll a posse of Virginians. And one of the neat things is that heretofore posse has tended to operate in a single metro area. So if a partner university wanted to enroll a posse from Washington, D.C., that could be done from New York City, that could be done. The posse that will arrive at William & Mary is actually coming from across the Commonwealth of Virginia. That's another thing that was possible because of the broken constraint of needing to get people together in person. Posse had to learn to do that work remotely, and now we're going to capitalize on that. So we will enroll a posse of 11 students. We couldn't get it all the way down to 10 because they were just that strong. That were identified based on a nominating process at the school level. More than four hundred students across Virginia were nominated for it. Posse conducted group interviews. They use their dynamic assessment process, which is a lot like the way we would want to interview somebody for a job. And it also includes things like problems that are approached by groups in evaluating students in that way. They get to 20 finalists are Dean of Admission Tim Wolfe and I and our Associate Dean Tish Canady spent six hours with those 20 finalists, and we picked our posse of 11. It's a really exciting process. A lot of students of color, a lot of first-generation college students in that group. And we are committed to providing full scholarships for them in order to ensure the access and affordability.

Ken White

Fantastic. Yeah, how great to come to school and people have your back, right? I mean

Henry Broaddus

Yeah, in fact, that's the name Posse came from a college dropout who said if I had been there with my posse, we would have made it. And former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said, you don't send a person to the moon, you send a team. So, again, that idea, I think, is a beautiful idea. And it's going to extend our reach. Not just for the 11, by the way, but the fact that William & Mary is now a leader working with this foundation and working within school environments where you have a lot of under-represented students. We hope that's going to raise our institutional profile overall and that will attract even more underrepresented students through that initiative.

Ken White

I think it depends which publication, website, or media outlet you read. It seems one day there's a survey saying people are not interested in sending their children to college, and the next day there's an uptick in people who want to do send their children to college. I'll put you on the spot a little bit. What do you think we'll see in the next couple of years in this strange environment? Where how do you think it all? Where will it all land?

Henry Broaddus

I think we're going to see an acceleration of changes that were already in progress. Certainly, again, you don't have to get to the pandemic to see that disruption was at work already. My friend Bill Conley at Bucknell had had a piece it ran in the Chronicle of Higher Education in the fall in 19 called the Great Enrollment Crash. And it was looking at especially you go through two thousand eight. The economic downturn there, and I think the thinking and the value proposition about education was something that was already very much in flux. And I think what we're going to have to see is a faster evolution. And I think that's in play already. And I think it's also going to mean, Ken, that we need to look at different ways of accessing higher education that may not be the traditional ones we know now. One that we're rolling out. This will be our second year doing this, by the way, is revisiting the notion that fall is the only real point of entry for a first-year student. The reality is that education has been artificially constrained, some say, to an agrarian cycle. There's some evidence that's actually more like mid-19th-century affluent family vacation cycles to have summers off. But we now have another partnership I'm really excited about with a company that enables a gap semester experience abroad. And we're turning to our waitlisted students, who are a really strong set of students. And we're saying, hey, many of you want to be at William & Mary next spring. And it excites you to do something like a Costa Rica field experience through our partner Verto education. We would guarantee your admission as a second-semester freshman at William & Mary if you do that. In the spring, we have more capacity than we do in the fall. We have a lot of students who study abroad. In fact, you know well, we have the highest participation in study abroad among all public universities in the country. We also have students who finish early and so those seniors who finish in the fall. So I mean to be able to optimize by growing the enrollment through a new entry point in spring. I think we're going to see more of that. And then summer would be the other important frontier. And are we going to figure out new ways to use that time?

Ken White

Exciting times.

Henry Broaddus

It's exciting, fraught, and a little stressful would be another way to put it. But yes, I think the great thing from my standpoint, I think what keeps me really energized right now is that every spring that we've endured, and we've had a tremendously successful academic year, as you know well, despite having to operate so differently, I think all of this is revealing new opportunities and new ways to do things. So it's an exciting time to work in this space.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Henry Broaddus, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Companies, organizations, and businesses are seeking professionals to lead in our post COVID world. Professionals who think strategically, communicate effectively, and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and more in the William & Mary MBA program offered in four formats the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive. Check out the William & Mary MBA program to learn more. Finally, we'd like to hear from you regarding the podcast. We invite you to share your ideas, questions, and suggestions with us by emailing us at podcast@wm.edu. Thanks to our guest Henry Broaddus, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

More Podcast Episodes

 Tim Murray
Tim MurrayEpisode 152: April 15, 2021
Leading in a Post COVID World

Tim Murray

Episode 152: April 15, 2021

Leading in a Post-COVID World

Since last March, businesses, organizations and professionals worldwide have made continuous changes in order to compete in the environment caused by COVID-19. Many important elements of business and leadership were put on the back burner this past year in some organizations. Training and professional development, performance evaluations, coaching and other programs were among those often pushed aside as organizations dealt with new hurdles and opportunities. As we get closer to what will hopefully be the end of this chapter, it's time to think about the post-pandemic world and what it means for your organization, and for you as a leader. Tim Murray has some thoughts on the subject. After a successful tenure as CEO of Aluminium Bahrain, also known as Alba, Murray's been focused on leadership after the pandemic. He says some aspects will be different in the post-COVID world, and some will remain the same. Whatever happens, he says it's important to think about it now.

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Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What it was like for Tim to reintegrate into U.S. culture after 18 years in the Middle East
  • What prompted Tim to write a book
  • What lesson can be taken from "tomorrow will be different than today"
  • Why personal networking and relationships are important
  • Why a leader should remain positive even through tough times
  • What leaders should look for in an individual when deciding upon promotions
  • Why you should never hire or promote someone you won't be able to terminate later
  • How is coaching going to change in the post-COVID world
  • Why organizations shouldn't cut training programs
Transcript

Tim Murray: Leading in a Post-COVID World 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, since last March, businesses, organizations, and professionals worldwide have made continuous changes in order to compete in the environment caused by COVID-19. Well, many important elements of business and leadership were put on the back burner this past year in some organizations. Training and professional development, performance evaluations, coaching, and other programs were among those often pushed aside as organizations dealt with new hurdles and opportunities. Well, as we get closer to what will hopefully be the end of this chapter, it's time to think about the post-pandemic world and what it means for your organization and for you as a leader. Tim Murray has some thoughts on the subject. After a successful tenure as CEO of Aluminium Bahrain, also known as Alba. Murray has been focused on leadership after the pandemic. He says some aspects will be different in the post-COVID world, and some will remain the same. Whatever happens, he says, it's important to think about it now. Here's our conversation with the former CEO of Aluminium Bahrain, Tim Murray.

Ken White

Well, Tim, thanks for joining us. Nice to see you. Welcome back to William & Mary.

Tim Murray

Yeah, it's nice to be back after all this time, and we're in the virtual world. It was nice. You said would you be okay with coming down to Miller Hall to do it in person? And I said more than happy to come down and get out of my house and engaged.

Ken White

As long as we're socially distanced.

Tim Murray

As long as we're distanced and, yeah, safe. But yeah, it's great to be here. And actually, it felt good to walk in the building. It's been a while since I walked in here.

Ken White

It's nice to have you.

Tim Murray

10 minutes from here.

Ken White

It is so fun to see students in the halls again. Yeah, it's absolutely wonderful. You're in a unique position. You had such an interesting, wonderful position in Bahrain for a number of years. What was it like as you were finishing? What were some of the things say in the last year you were trying to kind of nail down?

Tim Murray

Yes. I mean, as you know, I mean, I was in Bahrain for 12 years, so I finished as the CEO of Aluminium Bahrain, which is the largest smelter in the world outside of China, to produce one point five million tons, roughly three billion dollars a year in annual turnover they're about 12 percent of the GDP of the country. It's a big, big, you know, you've been there.

Ken White

I've been there. It's huge.

Tim Murray

It's like a little city. And, you know, so my contract, I ended up staying a few years longer. My wife and kids came back to the U.S. for high school. And then we had the big line six project. It was a three billion dollar CapEx project that took roughly four years. So I kind of stayed commuted, if you can believe, commuting back and forth from the Middle East for a few years. But, yeah, the last year it was tough. I mean, last year, it was bittersweet. When I left, I mean, is a great place to live: great people, many friends, family. We had great success in many things on safety. The line six, it was hard to leave. And when we finished basically, my contract finished lined up with the finish of the project. So we finished the project in July of 2019 August. I came home. I took a few months off, and then I set up this consulting company, which is we'll talk about this year in the book I wrote. But, you know, it was an interesting transition out because it was planned. And then my deputy CEO at the time he took over, he was, you know, trained. He was under me, you know, coached by me. He's actually one of the chapters in the book. He became the CEO that he's done very well. And I think we've actually had a very good transition, which is something that usually doesn't happen

Ken White

Yeah.

Tim Murray

in the corporate world.

Ken White

Right.

Tim Murray

So so, again, I think there's many lessons in terms of, you know, I ultimately wrote this book, which we'll talk about, but it was tough. It was a tough transition to kind of let it go. And when you live for 12 years outside the country, to reintegrate yourself back in is very different. You know, I was gone for twelve years and to come back and then, you know, you're at the neighborhood parties or doing this, and you start, you know, I don't know these people. And my wife knew people I didn't know.

Ken White

Yeah.

Tim Murray

And so but it was, you know, I'm glad I came back. I am back for a little, you know, eighteen months now and, you know, reintegrated

Ken White

Right.

Tim Murray

and reenergized to get out of the house and do stuff once the world opens up. But it was a great, great experience. I have no regrets about it.

Ken White

And so one of the things you did was you wrote a book, and you call it Words of Wisdom. And these are things that you've shared when you were at in Bahrain at Alba. But also, you're looking at it more as these are some lessons for the post COVID world.

Tim Murray

That's correct. So so the book I'm a big reader, as you know,

Ken White

Right.

Tim Murray

I've given you many books like people books, and many people ask me, when are you going to write your own book? And so with when I came back, actually it was on my list to do. The COVID actually greatly accelerated that because obviously, we were trapped in the house with not a whole lot to do. So I said, okay, well, I can take this one, let's work on this. So it took me probably about six, seven months. I started it in February of twenty twenty. Obviously, the COVID accelerated all that. I self-published it. I published it through a company called iUniverse. So I wrote the book. I had to get an editor. I worked with a graphic designer on the cover, but I'd say seven months it was actually in one respect. It was easier than I thought. Writing it was harder than I thought. But yeah, I wanted to share these words of wisdom. These Wows, as I call them, as you recall in Bahrain, my P.R. department created these little bookmarks, and they would take some of my sayings like you never get a second chance for first impression. The best communication is direct communication. Perception is reality. So what I did is I took I have twelve short stories. I have a wow. Then I have a story that's actually linked to it. And then the end of each chapter, there's three or four takeaways. So it's very practical advice. And I believe if you look at the stories and kind of the messages, they really do spin what's going on in one, surviving through COVID and then emerging from COVID. I talk a lot about communication. I talk a lot about preparation. I talk about what makes you successful at one level is not what makes you successful at the next. I have one that's called tomorrow be different than today. So we think about COVID. Let's go back a year ago when it started; nobody thought it could happen. Okay, now I think we have the reverse. We are going to emerge. And I think I actually I think the world is going to boom to much more of a degree than we're talking about now because we're in the negative zone on everything. So so, yeah, I think there's many lessons in there about coaching, training, feedback, all these things I think are even more critical now as we kind of you know, you think about it for a year, we haven't done a lot of things we would do. Think of performance review, think of giving feedback, think of training, you know, all that's been okay, maybe we're doing Zoom to a degree, but it's not the same. So so I think there's a lot of lessons in the post COVID world that can be applied.

Ken White

Let's talk about some of them. One of your chapters, Chapter five tomorrow, will be different than today. You just mentioned that. What do you what's the point of that? What are you trying to what lesson are you trying to teach us?

Tim Murray

Well, one, the lesson is how quickly things can change in the world and be flipped upside down. So, again, when you look at COVID last year, I remember I was traveling. It was the last time I was on a plane in February of 2020, and we had the China virus. And there was one case in the U.S., and nobody was worried about it, and the stock market was booming. And then okay, in two months after that, we shut the world down, and all that happened. So, you know, things can change on a dime to a very drastic degree. I recently gave a presentation actually to a university about leading through adversity. And I actually gave a slide about the last pandemic we had, which was in 1918. So it was the Spanish flu. And if we look back at that, 50 million people died. This was 1918. World War One had just ended. So the world was in bad, bad, bad shape. And so you think about that, and then you think, what happened after that? Then we had the roaring 20s. We had ten years of pretty good boom. Also, we had a bang at the end with the stock market. But so how things can shift. And I think where we are today; we have to get out of this negative mindset. And all that's happened and whatever has happened has happened. We got to focus on the reopening, be positive. The vaccines are here. They are going to roll out faster. I think I think we will get back to normal quicker than people are talking about today. You know, and I think I think everybody's ready. Everybody's got COVID fatigue, Zoom fatigue. We were talking about it before we started the show. We want to get out. I mean, I was happy to come down to Miller Hall and do this face to face versus a Zoom. So I think, you know, we as people, we okay, we've proven a lot. We can do a lot with this, you know, virtual Zoom reality, many good things. But we can't take away that personal element of communication and training and meeting people and relationships and networking. So so, again, you know, tomorrow will be different than today. So I'm optimistic. I think within two, three months we're going to see a very different world. I think we're going to see people on planes again, going traveling again, doing things again. And I think, you know, we will have a boom in terms of good things. And I think we have to be positive and embrace and get ready. Get ready to run.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Tim Murray, former CEO of Alba and author of Words of Wisdom, in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary's School of Business. The post COVID world will require new skills and new approaches. Those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different MBA formats, including the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive, all taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty. The William & Mary MBA will prepare you to succeed and lead in our new world. Check out the MBA programs at William & Mary. Now back to our conversation with Tim Murray.

Ken White

What I liked in the book is, is, yes, positive mindset, but you were right up front and said there were some issues you ran into like we all do in our careers that really knocked you out. I mean, you know, that messes you up mentally. Maybe you can't sleep. How do you how did you deal with those kinds of issues where? Wow. I can't even think straight.

Tim Murray

Yeah, I mean, I would my biggest when you say that; what pops to my mind is the safety issues. So Alba, when I took over as CEO, we were having bad safety performance. We were having fatalities in the plant. We had it. Was it five fatalities in less than three years? So I remember two months before I became CEO, we had another fatality. And this was actually one of the main reasons the former CEO was removed, and I was put in. And so you think about, you know, you go to bed at night, you put your phone down in your saying a prayer that you don't get a call in the middle of the night. I mean, it's a tough, tough thing. So but how do you be positive there? I mean, here you are, the leader. You know, things aren't going well. You have a fatality. You're trying to drive a message. You, as the leader, you have to be positive. And if you look at COVID, it's the same thing. As tough as it is and is probably worn out as you all are, you have to be positive. You're the leader. If you're positive, your people will be positive. And even when you're dealing with those tough issues or those negative issues, and you're stressed, you as the leader have to absorb it. You have to, I say, almost be like a shock absorber. You got to take that negative energy and spin it in a positive way. You got to get people thinking positive. And again, as we emerge from the COVID, I think that's one of the things we got to really focus on and not complain about or go look back. And I say, you know, in the book I talk about a story, don't cry over the spilled milk. What's done is done. And so you got to look forward and as tough as it is. You know, the leaders today, we've all had a tough time. You got to move forward and be positive for your people as hard as that is.

Ken White

One of your chapters is what makes you successful at one level is not necessarily what makes you successful at the next. How does that tie into where we're headed?

Tim Murray

So this one this is one I learned early in my career. And in the book, I talk more about how you go from the role of a doer. So you're an individual contributor to a manager role. And we were talking about this earlier. When you get promoted, okay, normally we promote somebody for doing a good job in their existing job. We say he's a great engineer, he's a great accountant, he's a great technical person. And then we make him a manager or she a manager. And now you're a manager. And it's a totally different skill set. And, you know, engineers, I like to pick on engineers, but when you take an engineer, usually a good engineer is somebody who is very detailed, micromanages, follows up. Okay, as a manager, maybe that's not the best thing. So so that you have to think differently. So, you know, you as leaders, when you're promoting, people really look at the position and say, this is what I want for the position, not necessarily the person that's there. And I'm a big believer from promoting from within, don't get me wrong, but this is a big one. So if we look in the COVID situation, okay, what made us successful prior to COVID is not what's going to make us successful post COVID. Talk about Zoom, okay, as much as we're all probably sick about talking about Zoom. I think we can use Zoom in a lot of different ways. We talk about business travel and conferencing, and networking. We've proven a lot of what we did was probably wasted time and money. So and I think as we emerge from the COVID, you know, there was winners and losers during the COVID. There'll be winners and losers post COVID. So again, what made us successful and got us through all the COVID things is not necessarily what's going to make us successful after. So just think differently don't get stuck in that kind of fixed mindset of, you know, this is how I've always done it. I'm going to always be successful. And we look today in terms of technology and all the stuff that Google and Amazon and Zoom face, but all these things that have emerged as a result of the COVID. Use them, leverage them. But I think it'll be different than what you did previously.

Ken White

When I saw the name of this chapter, I immediately just jumped off the page. Never hire or promote someone you're not willing to terminate later.

Tim Murray

Yeah, this is probably the harshest story in the book. It's a lesson I learned in my actually my first job. I was working for a small family-owned business. And the gentleman who ran it, he was the owner slash president, and his CFO was his sister-in-law. And it was very small family business. So so you can imagine the dynamics there. The gentleman who was the owner president, he was a very dynamic sales guy. Talker wants to close deals, wants to keep the customer happy. Of course, the CFO was very tough on the credit and payment terms, and so they were constantly clashing. So, you know, I finished my job. I was there two years. He was gracious enough to invite me into his office. Give me a kind of an exit interview. Hey, we appreciate what you did. And he said to me right at the end, he said, listen, he said, you know, when you become a boss, you know, never put somebody in there that you can't terminate. And he said, look at this mess I have with my CFO. It's my sister-in-law. I can't get rid of her family dynamics. I should I never put her in there. And so when you're hiring or promoting somebody, really think about that. You know, if you have to terminate them later, are you going be able to do it? Because in the business world and wherever we are, you know, it's friends, it's family there with you for many years. And in the book, I talk about a gentleman who was a former executive of mine. He was promoted up the ranks with me. He was my right-hand man that we started having some performance issues, some ego issues, and ultimately, you know, he left on an early retirement package, but it was one where it was not an easy thing to do. And he was close to me. And, you know, but business is business. And when people aren't performing, you have to deal with it, because if you don't deal with it, my view, it's like a cancer. You know, people see that you don't deal with a performance issue or a poor performer. They'll say, oh well, look, he gets a he's coming in late every day, or she did this, and they get away with this. It's a very hard thing. So you have to step up and make those decisions. But so when you're back to the, wow, you know, when you are going to promote somebody or hire somebody, and it's a friend or a relative or stuff like that. All right. Put yourself in the shoes that say, listen, if I have to get rid of them later, am I going to do it? Because if you're not, then don't put them in there because and it does happen, and it's a particularly family-owned businesses. It's a very, very, very common thing.

Ken White

Yeah, great. Great advice. You always liked coaching. That's an important piece of your leadership. And you talk, and you talk about coaching in the book. How do you see coaching now in the middle of COVID or hopefully toward the end of it, right?

Tim Murray

Yeah.

Ken White

And then in the post-COVID world.

Tim Murray

Yeah. So I'm a big believer in coaching. So I grew up a sports guy. I played baseball all the way through university. I was always playing sports, and there was always a coach. And I say coaching is a gift that must be returned. So I think anybody who coaches you. One, you should thank them because they're not getting paid extra to do it. Usually, it's a lot more work. A lot of people don't want to do it. So if you're fortunate enough to have a coach, a mentor, it's a big, big thing in your career. So, so, yeah, I'm a big believer. So at Alba, I did a lot of coaching. The story I have in the book actually is about the current CEO of Alba. His name is Ali Al Baqali. So he was under me, and he was my deputy CEO, and as part of me leaving, there was a planned transition. Ali was a lifelong Alba guy, very smart guy, very clever guy. And so as we planned out the path of me finishing the project, leaving. You know, he was identified as my successor. He was deputy CEO for the last two years. And then he moved into that role. But we spent a lot of time coaching him because he was at that time, he was before the deputy, he was CFO. And so he transitioned into a few different roles there. Back to what makes you successful at one level is not what makes you successful at the next. You know, we had to groom him. We had to go over all these things and train these things. And so when you go from CFO to deputy CEO to CEO, they're all different roles. So I think so it's very important. But it was a proper transition. Ali is doing a great job today. Alba's running well. The safety is running well. The production is running well. And it's a nice story because today, in most corporations, you don't see plan transitions. Usually, it's bang the CEO's gone the next day he was terminated by the board. Stock price goes down twenty percent.

Ken White

Right.

Tim Murray

Usually, it's a it's an ugly story. But but but to spin it on the COVID, you know, if we look over the time of the COVID, we've probably had a big lack of coaching or feedback. I mean, think of the basic things of a performance review or a quarterly review, and okay, maybe we're doing them via Zoom to some degree, but it's not the same.

Ken White

Right.

Tim Murray

And you think about training sessions. Are we still doing training sessions? Okay, maybe to some level, but you know, you would think about pre COVID you're constantly training session. You're going here, you're flying here, you're doing this. So I think we've got a big, you know, pent-up demand probably for coaching, feedback, training. So so as you emerge as a leader, really look at that. Because training, my experience with training is really something that motivates people and coaching. If you read all the big surveys, there was a survey in The Wall Street Journal a few months ago, and it talked about what's the most important thing to people, you know, and it's not pay, it's not benefits, it's not bonuses. It's coaching and development. You know you look at pay, bonuses wherever you go. That's going to be generally within the market.

Ken White

Right.

Tim Murray

It's not going to be drastically different. But why people leave? They don't feel they're appreciated. They're not feeling that they're developed. They don't have opportunities to move up within the company. So they leave. And again, today, I think you're going to see that. I mean, this is you want to keep your good people because the good people can always go. I mean, and so I think spending that time on coaching, development, and training and it's a tough one because training it's an easy thing to cut. And my view is, once you cut it, then the next year when we roll up the budget and the bean counters say, well, we cut it last year, why do we need to put it back in this year and then it goes away forever? So my advice is, don't cut training. It's the worst thing. It sends a bad message to your people. They say, oh, look, they're cutting training. They don't care about us. And again, once you cut it, it's very hard to put it back in. So so as we emerge from the COVID pandemic and people are able to communicate and travel and do those things. Do stuff on the training, do some workshops, do some off-sites. I think people are dying for this. And this is a good way to motivate your team, you know, build that momentum back forward and get people moving in the right direction because everybody is COVID fatigued. So so to do training and development and workshops and feedback and coaching, I think people are really wanting it. I think so. I think it's a big, big thing that can differentiate you.

Ken White

And learn all these lessons that we've been taught throughout this and apply them as we move forward, and maybe good things will happen.

Tim Murray

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Ken White

That's our conversation with the former CEO of Alba, Tim Murray, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Companies, organizations, and businesses are seeking professionals who can lead in the post COVID world. Professionals who think strategically, communicate effectively, and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and more in the William & Mary MBA program offered in four formats the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive. Check out the William & Mary MBA programs to learn more. Finally, we'd like 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 Tim Murray and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

More Podcast Episodes

 Jim Roddy
Jim RoddyEpisode 151: April 1, 2021
The Walk-On Method

Jim Roddy

Episode 151: April 1, 2021

The Walk-On Method

If you're familiar with college athletics, then you're familiar with the term "walk-on." Walk-ons are college athletes who, unlike many of their teammates, were not recruited by the coaching staff. They had to try out to make the team. And, unlike many of their teammates, walk-ons do not receive scholarships to be a part of the team. Yet virtually all college sports teams at all levels have walk-ons on their rosters. Most coaches will agree that walk-ons are a special breed. They work extremely hard, they're focused, they tend to persevere. Resilience is a part of their DNA, and the spotlight doesn't matter much to them. As a result, they not only make the team, but in many cases they make the team better. Our guest today says the pattern of behavior adopted by walk-ons in college athletics can also be adopted by professionals. And he has several examples from a variety of sectors to back up his claim. Jim Roddy is a former college basketball walk-on and author of "The Walk-On Method." He joins us today to discuss his blueprint for professional success.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What is the definition of a "walk-on"
  • What is the typical mindset of a walk-on
  • How Jim found his walk-on interviewees
  • How does the walk-on mentality translate to the business world
  • What are the commonalities between sports and business
  • How do individual sports athletes think about business differently in relation to team sports athletes
  • What does it mean to "take a big shot"
  • The importance of making a passion statement
  • What it means to "run uphill"
  • Why one should Maximize Unique Strengths
Transcript

Jim Roddy: The Walk-On Method 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. If you're familiar with college athletics, then you're familiar with the term walk on. Walk-ons are college athletes who, unlike many of their teammates, were not recruited by the coaching staff. They had to try out to make the team. And unlike many of their teammates, walk-ons do not receive scholarships to be a part of the team. Yet virtually all college sports teams at all levels have walk-ons on their rosters. Most coaches will agree that walk-ons are a special breed. They work extremely hard. They're focused. They tend to persevere. Resilience is a part of their DNA, and the spotlight doesn't matter much to them. As a result, they not only make the team but, in many cases, they make the team better. Our guest today says the pattern of behavior adopted by walk-ons in college athletics can also be adopted by professionals. And he has several examples from a variety of sectors to back up his claim. Jim Roddy is a former college basketball Walk-On and author of The Walk On Method. He joins us today to discuss his blueprint for professional success. Here's our conversation with Jim Roddy.

Ken White

Well, Jim, it's nice to see you. Thanks for taking time to join us on the podcast.

Jim Roddy

Thanks for having me, Ken. Great to cross paths with you again.

Ken White

You know, in the introduction, when I was telling our listeners what a walk-on is, and certainly, some of them know that. But how do you define walk-on when you're talking to someone? Maybe, isn't too very well versed in college athletics. What's a walk-on?

Jim Roddy

Sure. A walk-on is someone who endeavors to be part of a college sports team. But that college sports team, most everybody else, is a scholarship athlete. And so it's a person who says, I would like to do exactly what they're doing, but for no scholarship money and for far less playing time. So there's certainly an element of servant leadership and sacrifice right off the bat, just the decision to try to be a walk-on.

Ken White

What's the mindset of a walk-on? I'm assuming it's quite different from the teammate who was invited and has a scholarship.

Jim Roddy

Good question. For a lot of folks, it kind of runs the gamut. And that's part of what we had in our book. There are some folks who felt that they were overlooked and said, I think I can work my way into a scholarship. And many of them did. And not just a scholarship, but actually ended up as professional athletes. They kind of thought that they were overlooked. And then there were other folks who and that this is kind of the spot that I was in was, boy, what an amazing experience this would be. If there's anything that I can do to be part of this team, I would give anything in order to just to be along for the ride. But I think what everybody saw in the walk-ons that I talk with. At some point, it got to servant leadership that I was here for something bigger than myself, bigger than just my individual statistics. And so that was something that as I talk with these walk-ons, you know, I'd say after about ten interviews, I realized that servant leadership was really core to this whole walk-on process. Then I would start bringing it up to folks. They would say, you know what, I never thought of it that way, but it's so true. So that was one thing that was really revealing. And I think that is a common mindset among all walk-ons.

Ken White

And so, in your book, you interview people who were walk-ons, who went on to successful careers. How did you even begin to find people?

Jim Roddy

Good question. Thank goodness for Google, and thank goodness for John Saracino, who is from Erie, Pennsylvania. He's also from Erie, and he wrote for USA Today for many years. And he just gave me a whole bunch of guidelines in terms of what search terms in order to use. So I ended up interviewing 30 people for the book, but I must have gone through more than one hundred people that I was researching, reaching out to trying to find contact information. But I can say of all the folks who I ended up connecting with. Nobody had a bad story. I always thought I'd run into somebody who's going to be like, oh, this is pretty boring or lame or the same old, same old. But boy, at some point during every interview, I was like, I can't believe the great story or multiples of stories that were behind it. So it was a lot of digging, sifting through dirt in order to get a lot of great gold nuggets.

Ken White

You realize there's some commonalities, and there's some lessons that a walk-on takes through life. When you reached out to these professionals, did they realize that, or did you have to plant that seed before they realized it?

Jim Roddy

For many of them, I did have to plant the seed because so like the gist of the book says, ordinary people, even underdogs and maybe especially underdogs, but ordinary people will accomplish extraordinary feats when their energy is properly channeled. So the way that the walk on's were behaving in their professional life today was more second nature for them because they were forced to behave that way just to survive as a walk-on. So for many of them, it wasn't an intentional act that they were going through and saying, oh, I have to have this walk-on mentality. It was like them looking around and saying, how come other people don't behave this way? I don't get it. How come other people aren't driven like I am? How come other people aren't showing up early? How come other people aren't trying to really push themselves and educate themselves and drive to get better and drive to help other people? So for many of them, it was they thought it was in their blood, and maybe it is, but it was a lot that experience, at the very least, enhanced their skills in their mindset.

Ken White

I was walking into work today with a colleague, and I mentioned that you and I were going to talk, and she's not a big sports fan. But she said, you know, I guess there are some commonalities between sports and business. Yeah, they sure are. But when you hear that, what do you think some of the obvious commonalities are? What are the lessons that that that kids and adults take away from being athletes, whether they're a wrestler and or a track and field athlete on their own, or baseball, football, soccer, lacrosse, a team sport? What are the lessons?

Jim Roddy

Well, first, I'll just take a step back. When I was planning on writing this book, I knew that sports fans would find it entertaining because sports people love reading about sports. But I test-marketed a handful of chapters on folks who couldn't care less about sports. But they're in the business world, and their reaction was, this is great, can I have some more? And that's what I really knew, that I had something because they were able to see the connections that were able to be made. So I think one is, you know, the correlation is team goals over personal goals. If you're playing on a sports team and you're putting your personal goals ahead of the team goals, you're not a good teammate. Your team's not going to be very good or be very successful, and no matter how talented you are, right, there's going to be all sorts of disharmony in that realm. And then there's also another thing that I see is from a correlation is by going through a sports team and this will sound terrible, but you have to tolerate people, right? You have people who were just thrust onto the team. You do not get to choose them. And you have a choice of quitting that team or tolerating that person. A lot of times with the coaches as well, like there's a coaching turnover. And so you're staying with the school, but the coach comes in. You have to learn how do I tolerate that person? Might be a cynical way of looking at it, but also, how can I adjust in order to make sure that things work with that person? And I was on a team with a guy from Sudan, from Croatia, a guy who graduated in three years, guys who struggled to go to class. You know, people from inner-city Detroit, people from Tippecanoe, Ohio. Right. And so you had all these different worlds that are kind of coming together, and you got to learn to deal with that or not. And the same in the workforce, the better that you can adapt to the culture and the better that you can fill in gaps for people and be a great teammate for them, no matter what their position, their perspective or background, that's going to be successful in business as well.

Ken White

Any differences in that athlete who plays a team sport versus an individual sport in terms of the outlook at work and the lessons learned?

Jim Roddy

I would say yes. So there are things that you might not have to go through so much as a tennis player or as a track and field athlete than you would a basketball player who's, you know, forced to sit on the bench or forced to practice or determining playing time. So, yeah, I'd say the team aspect of it has, I'd say a little higher degree of difficulty. Not that it's easy for the other people in the individual sport, but there's certainly another dimension there from a team aspect that isn't from an individual aspect. Though the thing for the individual aspect is like, quite frankly, I was a walk-on for four years. People tolerated the fact that I wasn't very good. Right. But if I was in an individual sport, they'd be like, oh, this guy's not going to play like I don't want him on the team because he's not going to contribute at all whatsoever. Like, if you're a wrestler, you're getting pinned every match. That's not going to go very far. So there is definitely a give and take for both those opportunities.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Jim Roddy in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. The Post COVID World will require new skills and new approaches. Those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different MBA formats, including the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive, all taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty. The William & Mary MBA will prepare you to succeed and lead in our new world. Check out the MBA programs at William & Mary. Now back to our conversation with Jim Roddy, author of The Walk on Method.

Ken White

In a previous episode, we had William & Mary graduate, who is a successful entrepreneur, and he was a tennis player at William & Mary, you know, what he was saying is those individual sports, it's all, you. No excuses, right? You learn you either step up and perform, or you fail, and you can't point fingers. So I think there's some great lessons, of course, in the team sports and the individual sports. So the walk-on method, you have steps as you as you go through. Let's go through those for our listeners. Your first step is take a big shot. Tell us about that.

Jim Roddy

Yes, so the subtitle for Take a Big Shot is that anybody can make a layup. And so one thing that we saw in common with these walk-ons in both their athletic career and their professional career is that they tried something that was really hard. They didn't look and say, boy, that would be great to do, but I'm only going to go halfway because that's probably more achievable, right. To say I'm going to walk on to the University of Florida football team, and I'm going to be a meaningful player is crazy if no one's offering you a scholarship whatsoever. But that was Chris Doering, and then later in his life for him to say, I'm going to make it as a mortgage broker. Right as the recession hit in 2008. That's crazy as well. But he's very successful with what he's done because he had that mindset about taking a big shot.

Ken White

Boy, and that takes guts, doesn't it, to do that to walk on to a powerful program like that.

Jim Roddy

There's a fine line between bravery and insanity. So the walk-ons tend to dance on that line.

Ken White

Your step to make a passion statement?

Jim Roddy

Yes, p passion, not f fashion. So it talks about preparing with passion, practicing with passion, and then playing with passion. So too many people wish that their dream is going to come true or they have a goal set in business, and they hope that it's going to come true. And they say, boy, when that moment comes. I'm really going to give it my all. But you can't wish. You can't wait. `We talk about you have to walk on to that dream. So what we saw very common is the folks who are successful. It wasn't just that they were gamers, but they did all sorts of preparation, and they practice, practice, practice, and improve their skills. They didn't say; I'm going to go with what I got. They really worked on themselves to improve themselves. They realized they had weaknesses in areas to improve and focus on those instead of making excuses.

Ken White

In passion also, does that mean passion for the sport and passion for the business that you're in as well?

Jim Roddy

Correct, yes. You have to find something that you say; I really want to do this, not ugh I got to get out of bed and painful. And, you know, you roll your eyes when this thing comes around, you have to make sure you're aligning yourself with something that really makes you go, really charges your engine, and really make sure that you have the self-initiative behind it.

Ken White

Step three, run uphill.

Jim Roddy

Yeah. So run uphill. We say that it takes longer to run uphill, but it makes you stronger. So we're taught to avoid obstacles and seek the path of least resistance. Right. For these walk-ons have been way easier just to play intramurals and not to actually try out for Division one team. And so what we're told is when there's an obstacle, you should shrink; you should close your eyes. You should get apprehensive right when things get difficult. But walk-ons don't avoid those obstacles. They actually lean into the difficulties of the situation, and they embrace the obstacles because they know on the other end of the experience, they'll be battle-tested. Right, going through that fire. So when you encounter a career challenge or business challenge, you see everyone around you like wishing the moment will pass. This is way too difficult. Show courage, jump headlong into the problem, convert it into an opportunity or a potential victory for yourself. Don't shy away from those obstacles. Really embrace them.

Ken White

Are people born with that ability, or do you learn that ability to take on tough challenges?

Jim Roddy

I'd say some people are naturally born with it, just like I would never jump out of an airplane. And I work with somebody who loved high altitude extreme, you know, jumping out of airplanes. Like, I could not do that. But there are things that can be taught. And that's what a lot of these walk-ons had as well, is it wasn't just natural for them that all of them are just these wired wound up. I'm going to go get them. Some of them needed to kind of kick themselves in the butt or throw themselves into a situation where they were under a lot of stress and had a lot of difficult coaching. And they practiced and learned that we had one person who the only reason who went to Cal State, Chico, is because it was a good party school. And the only reason he ran track is because he was bored. Right. And but the coach really pushed him. And now he's a very successful doctor and actually an instructor at a college in Tennessee. So these are not just born traits. These can all be developed.

Ken White

Step four, no fuss all MUS.

Jim Roddy

Yes, so no fuss means maintain emotional control and all MUS capital m capital u capital s. Maximize unique strengths. So it's very important that especially not just in the sports world, the business world, you control your emotion, especially the negative ones as you advance through your career. Right. If you get passed over for promotion that you thought you deserved, just shake your head for a moment in private and then resolve, I'm going to work harder. I'm going to get better and then maximize your unique strengths. A lot of these walk-ons in the book, almost all of them, they were shorter, skinnier, slower than the more gifted scholarship athletes. But they figured out what is my special ability or attitude that I could bring to the team in order to do that. A great example of that is Brandon Landry. He's actually the founder of the Walk On's restaurant, the sports bistro that's growing down in the southeast. And so he got cut from his high school team, and he said, I got to get better. He got cut from the LSU team. He said I got to get better. And sure enough, they had some injuries. They called him back, and he ended up working, and being a long-term walk-on on that team took so many experiences from it. Again, he spun off an entire business model that's called Walk On's, bistro, and restaurant.

Ken White

That that that attitude that I'm not going to lose attitude, it's so incredible to see, and especially college athletics, we see it over and over again. I just read about the point guard for UMBC. He's five feet two inches tall, and he plays like he's six feet two inches tall. You know what? That's all that's that step, isn't it? That's just going after it.

Jim Roddy

And it is a choice. You know, a lot of our walk-ons, Megan Lightfoot, she walked into UCLA rowing office, said, I'd like to try out, and they're like you can try out, but you're probably going to quit. This isn't for you. So she could have walked out with an excuse to say, okay, I guess this isn't for me. I guess it's fate. And she walked out and said, I will show you. We have that choice every day where we get rejected, or we have an obstacle. We have a choice to embrace it, learn from it, get better, maximize our unique strengths, or we have a choice to crawl under our desks and cry.

Ken White

Step five, make them throw you out of the gym.

Jim Roddy

Yeah, so one person misinterpreted this as your goal is to make them throw you out of the gym. I'm like, no, the emphasis is on them. Make them throw you out of the gym. And we say never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever quit. So what we saw with a lot of our walk-ons, both again from an athlete standpoint and a business standpoint, is they said, I'm going to take that big shot, and I'm going to keep trying until they throw me out. And once they throw me out, I'm still going to go back in. A lot of folks that we've seen from an athletic standpoint, a business standpoint, the reason they never achieve something great is because they quit before they even started. Right. They just assumed it wasn't for them. They just assumed a CEO job wasn't for them. They just assumed a growing company, a highly profitable company, wasn't for them. They just assumed entrepreneurship wasn't for them. But those who said, I'm going to keep trying, I'm going to try every angle until I get my goal. Those are the folks who actually end up succeeding. So, again, it's make them throw you out. We have a lot of examples of even when they throw you out. They keep going back and back and back until they get what they came for.

Ken White

And you say all five steps are within your power. Can you explain that?

Jim Roddy

Yeah, so none of these require some advanced degree, right. To take a big shot. It doesn't require some specialized skill. Right. And to prepare with passion. Right. It's the time that you put into it. You can develop preparation skills and things like that. But you don't need, again, those advanced degrees to control emotions or maximize unique strengths. So if you want to increase your knowledge, your skills, and your competence, and if you want to change the trajectory of your business or your career, you can start thinking and acting like a walk-on. There's nobody who stopping you from doing these things. And again, these are folks we profile. Ordinary people, right. Very few accolades among them. Everybody around them was bigger, faster, stronger, smarter oftentimes. But they figured out how am I going to get it done? And they just kept coming back for more and more until they got what they wanted.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Jim Roddy, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Companies, organizations, and businesses are seeking professionals to lead in the post-COVID world. Professionals who think strategically, communicate effectively, and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and more in the William & Mary MBA program offered in four formats the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive MBA. Check out the William & Mary MBA program to learn more. Finally, we'd like 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, Jim Roddy, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

More Podcast Episodes

 Rajiv Kohli
Rajiv KohliEpisode 150: March 15, 2021
Light at the End of the COVID Tunnel

Rajiv Kohli

Episode 150: March 15, 2021

Light at the End of the COVID Tunnel

After a year of social distancing, virtual meetings and homeschooling, people are ready to shed their masks and get back to life as we knew it before we were introduced to COVID-19. As the weather improves and we see family, friends, and colleagues receiving vaccinations, people are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel. As we record this episode of the podcast, the CDC reports 11% of American adults have received both coronavirus vaccine doses. And two million doses a day are being administered. 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 top healthcare organizations. Kohli says we're getting there, faster than many experts originally predicted. And as events continue to move in a positive direction, there are many things to think about before COVID-19 is in our rearview mirror.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What does life getting back to normal really mean
  • Is there a timeframe for life getting back to normal
  • Why Thanksgiving is an important benchmark
  • Why people should still be diligent in their mask wearing and social distancing
  • Why one should still wear a mask even after getting vaccinated
  • What are the dangers of students traveling for spring break
  • Are there any differences between the three vaccines
  • How does the coronavirus vaccine work
  • Why do people not feel well after getting their second vaccine shot
Transcript

Rajiv Kohli: Light at the End of the COVID Tunnel 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 a year of social distancing, virtual meetings, and homeschooling, people are ready to shed their masks and get back to life as we knew it before we were introduced to COVID-19. As the weather improves and we see family, friends, and colleagues receiving vaccinations, people are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel. As we record this episode of the podcast, the CDC reports 11 percent of American adults have received both coronavirus vaccine doses, and two million doses a day are being administered. Rajiv Kohli is the John and 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 top health care organizations. Kohli says we're getting there faster than many experts originally predicted. And as events continue to move in a positive direction, there are many things to think about before COVID-19 is in our rearview mirror. Here's our conversation with Dr. Rajiv Kohli.

Ken White

Rajiv, it's great to see you. Thanks for sharing your time and expertise with us today on the podcast.

Rajiv Kohli

Thank you, Ken. It's a pleasure to be here.

Ken White

So you know, everywhere I seem to go, almost everyone I seem to talk with has the same sort of question on their mind. And that is, when do you think life will get back to quote-unquote normal? What do you think? Where where are we heading at this point?

Rajiv Kohli

Yeah, so that's a tricky question because normal means different things to different people. So I think we will go through stages of normality or normalcy. We think that a July 4th around that time frame, we'll begin to step outside. If we are fully vaccinated, we can hang out with our family members. And CDC has just issued some guidelines on that, that you can go mingle with people in small groups if you are fully vaccinated without risk of infecting others. And then I think come Thanksgiving, things will start to crawl to normal, and there will be a test period between Thanksgiving and Christmas where we will see how we fared after Thanksgiving, how things went, did the spread increase, and then that will determine that Christmas and New Year's. So to answer your question, barring any unforeseen circumstances, I think we might have a normal as close to normal Christmas as we can expect. Some of that is also dependent on how the virus mutates and also dependent on how we behave as individuals.

Ken White

Oh, and that's a big piece of it, isn't it? We're already seeing people who have been vaccinated who may not want to wear masks or people whose families have been vaccinated and don't want to wear masks. So, so much of this is behavior of human beings, isn't it?

Rajiv Kohli

It is. And it's very understandable that there is some fatigue setting in where we are tired, and we don't know what to do. And, you know, we've spent a good part of this year, almost a year now spent indoors. And so it's natural for us, for us to feel that way. That we don't want to wear masks. But I think we are in the homestretch. It's not surprising that if you look at some other context, a lot of the traffic accidents, more than 50 percent of the traffic accidents happen within five miles of a person's home, and they usually hit parked cars. And the reason is that we get complacent because we are almost there. But what I would say to anybody listening is this is not the time for us to be complacent. We are almost there. We stuck it out for a year. Let's wait another few months and will be home.

Ken White

But we really crave contact with one another, don't we, at this point.

Rajiv Kohli

We do, and that's part of why we are so frustrated with wearing masks and social distancing. We do crave human contact and seeing our loved ones as I know they feel the same about meeting us. So that's why it's very important for us to exercise restraint at this time. And just to wait a little longer. I like the phrase that was being used around last Christmas when they said, let's be restrained this Christmas so we can have the next Christmas and the following one. So, yes, it is very frustrating for people who been so patient for so long.

Ken White

But as you mentioned, maybe Christmas might be a good target. Would that mean at that time we would still wear masks? Like when would the mask possibly disappear?

Rajiv Kohli

Yeah, so that also is is somewhat unclear at this time and dependent on where we are going, how many people are we mingling with, and who are we mingling with. So I would say if you are meeting people who are at higher risk, either because of age or other underlying conditions, we may still want to wear masks. The other aspect of wearing masks, Ken, is that it is also a signaling mechanism where even when you are vaccinated, you may still want to wear a mask because by wearing a mask, you're saying this is what is acceptable behavior, this is what the norm is. And that I am looking out for you because you don't know who will in your surroundings is not vaccinated. So even though we may be vaccinated, we still want to wear masks because we are telling others that this is the norm that we are following right now.

Ken White

Yeah, I think we've grown a little bit over this past year, right? We are looking at others a little more, maybe than we did Pre-COVID as a society.

Rajiv Kohli

Yes, we are. And, you know, when we talk about herd immunity, for example, that is all dependent on how others are taking care of themselves and, in doing so, how they are keeping you safe. So in that regard, we are our brother's keeper. We are our sister's keepers,

Ken White

Yeah.

Rajiv Kohli

because what we do matters to not just us but to others around us.

Ken White

We're starting to see some stories in the media about people traveling already. It's spring break time. Although most colleges and universities did away with their spring break and took the days and made them nonsecutive on nonconsecutive days off. But still, we're hearing reports about students heading south to Florida and folks who've been vaccinated traveling. What's the travel situation right now? What would you advise people to do if they want to travel at this point?

Rajiv Kohli

So let me first address the spring break issue. And I've seen those pictures on T.V., people having a good time on beaches and so on. I worry about the young people because while they are less susceptible, they also think they're invincible. So while they may not see the same impact of COVID if they were to get infected as others would. They could be carriers, unwitting carriers, and bring them home. And if they're traveling from different parts of the country, they might bring it back to their communities, and we might see another spread. So in terms of travel, that is also this question about whether I should travel by air or by road. The air travel itself, the flying portion of the travel itself, is not that risky. In fact, it's relatively safe. It's what people do and where they mingle and who they come in contact with after the travel after they take their flight, and then they take the flight back. That is causing some concern. So the travel part is not that big a problem right now. So I would say that if you're traveling by road and you are going to a place where you are going to be by yourself with your family, perhaps on the beach and you rent a house, it's fairly safe. It's fairly safe. In fact, we did see during last fall, or even last summer, increased traffic going to beach areas where people were renting homes and not necessarily hotels. So to answer your question, travel right now within certain boundaries and constraints is relatively safe, or we can make it safe. It's just that when we travel, what we do post-travel is, is what causes some people concern.

Ken White

So three vaccines out there now. Are they different? Are they similar? Is there one that seems to be the favorite? What's up with all three? How do you approach those?

Rajiv Kohli

Yeah, so I'm also hearing about the effectiveness of different vaccines as far as the vaccines are concerned. They all do the job. They all do the job. And there are differences in the efficacy rates, but they are not really comparable because the trials were done at different times. And these numbers, this is 90 percent effective, and that is seventy-two percent effective. They all come from the trials. And again, remember, there were trials, which means they were controlled population experiments done at different times. So the Johnson & Johnson one, which is supposedly less efficacious than the other two, was done later, which means it was exposed to more variance. And so to the people listening, I would say take the first vaccine you can get because it will all make you safe and others around you safe. So I wouldn't worry about which one is more effective, which one is in numbers. It's almost like if you have a headache, and I give you a medication that's seventy-five percent effective versus sixty-nine percent effective. We don't know how it's going to act on our bodies. So just take it.

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. The Post-COVID world will require new skills and new approaches, and those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different MBA formats, including the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive, all taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty. The William & Mary MBA will prepare you to succeed and lead in our new world. Check out the MBA programs at William & Mary. Now back to our conversation with Professor Rajiv Kohli.

Ken White

How does the vaccine work? What is it actually doing to us?

Rajiv Kohli

So I guess without getting into the science of it, what the vaccine does, it learns from or the development of vaccine learns from how the virus is made up, what is the structure of the virus. And it passes on the harmless part of that instruction of how the virus behaves into the vaccine to the human body so that the human body sees how the virus behaves. And in doing so, it starts to develop these protections, self-protection, which is our immune system, so that when it actually sees the real virus, it knows what to do. So there are differences in the viruses or the vaccine that we have. One is a messenger RNA-based, and the other is a slightly different approach. That only means that how we deliver that vaccine into the human body, one has the instructions, only the other has the actual messenger automated. So that gets a little scientific. But the bottom line is it's preparing our bodies before it actually sees the virus as to what the virus looks like so that the body can prepare itself and the immune system is built up strong enough that when the actual virus hits, it knows how to neutralize it.

Ken White

That's pretty amazing when you really step back and think about it. It's amazing, isn't it? And it was developed in a relatively short period of time.

Rajiv Kohli

Very short period, and so the mRNA approach is not new. It has been used for Ebola. It has been used for other viruses. So that technique has been around for about twenty-five, thirty years now. So it's not new. What is new is how we use that for dealing with the coronavirus, whereas the previous vaccines were generally taking the weaker version of the virus itself and injecting into the body. We are not doing that. So, in fact, that makes it much safer because, with the old approach of putting in a weak virus, there was actually some small probability that people will get sick because it's actual virus, even though it's weak. But in this case, we're not putting any virus in. We are just simply putting the code. Think of this as a computer program that tells the body that this is what the virus looks like. So if you see this, how are you going to attack it? And the body says, okay, I'll build these antibodies, and I will attack it, and those t-cells float around your blood. And if you do get exposed to the virus, it knows what to do, and it kills it before it comes in.

Ken White

But yet some people are saying they didn't feel well for a few hours or maybe a day when they received their second shot. But how is that happening?

Rajiv Kohli

Oh, actually, if they don't feel well, that's a good news because that means the vaccine is working. So the temperature that we see oftentimes as a side effect, people get fever and so on, is actually body's way of learning how to deal with that virus, because it is a new thing that it's seen. So while building immunity, what the body is doing is getting used to that. But it's in a controlled environment. So that temperature usually lasts for twenty-four or 36 hours, usually after the second shot. After the first shot, you might get some muscle ache, or you might feel a little bit feverish, although we haven't heard many people get high temperatures. So that's just the body's way of getting used to this new intruder if you will. But in a controlled environment.

Ken White

It's been interesting to watch various countries, the rest of the world, and how they're dealing with it and fighting back. For instance, earlier a few days ago, the prime minister of New Zealand made the announcement that she was choosing one particular vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine. Why would they do that versus what we're doing in the U.S. with multiple vaccines?

Rajiv Kohli

So my research indicates that there is no real reason why they chose Pfizer over others. And it's not to indicate that they think that's safer than the others. New Zealand operates on a national health system, which is very different from the U.S., where it's mostly private. So when New Zealand decides to adopt a drug or a vaccine, in this case, it usually makes a deal with a company on a national basis. So the contract for the whole nation. That way, they can get a good deal, they can get a good price because they get better-negotiating power, and it's standardized. Everybody gets the same. New Zealand is a small country of four million people who need vaccination, the population maybe a little higher. So they really need about eight million shots, two for each. And it's not a large number that they want to divide up among multiple providers, which is what U.S. did, also U.S. was trying to kind of balance the risk, if you will, that if one company cannot make it fast enough, we have another one that's making. New Zealand has small numbers, relatively speaking.

Ken White

You and I are surrounded by college students, undergraduate, and graduate students, and one of the things they ask me almost daily is when can we travel abroad? They want to study abroad. And we've been doing that, of course, in a virtual arena. But they'd love to travel. When do you think the world will return to that day when we can visit one another across borders?

Rajiv Kohli

Ken that also is a very complex question because a lot of that depends on other countries and their readiness to receive us when we go over there and their own policies about how they will reopen their countries. I suspect that we'll see Europe and European countries be more open and willing to admit U.S. students, travelers, whereas countries in Asia that are slower to immunize their population, either because of resources or because of large populations like China and India, that will take some time. They will be a little bit later. So a lot depends on how much they are ready and also what happens between now and say end of this year. How the virus itself mutates and how effective are the vaccines against those, and how we are living our lives and trying to prevent the spread. So if you become lax and it spreads more, and there are there's more community spread, it'll slow the whole process down, and it will slow down the reopening, whether it's within the U.S. or outside the U.S.

Ken White

We certainly don't want that—fear of missing out. I talk to people who haven't had their vaccine yet, but it seems like everyone in my family has had it. You know, some people say, what do you say to those who are waiting? They're just not going to get the vaccine for a little while. What kind of advice do you have for them to feel better?

Rajiv Kohli

Well, the advice is that keep doing what you were doing until now. I go back to my earlier comment about we are in the homestretch. I know it's frustrating. I know you're looking at other people and saying so-and-so got an email to go get their first shot. How come I have not, or when will I get it? Just patience. So there's nothing different you have to do if you if you've done well this last year. Keep doing what you were doing. You know how to keep yourself safe and others safe. The vaccine rollout is actually moving faster than we had anticipated. And we are hearing now doctors' offices calling their patients and saying we can schedule a vaccine for you, which means that there is ample supply. So I know President Biden announced that there will be enough vaccines at the end of May. Now, that doesn't mean that everybody will have shots in their arm by the end of May. But the way things are going, we might see soon after May, everybody actually vaccinated, which is what gives me somewhat encouragement that July 4th may be the first time we'll hang out in and out outdoors with our friends and have a barbecue. We might still practice safe distancing and mask-wearing if we are too close or if we are with people outside our family group or bubble. So this thing is moving quite quickly and rapidly, and I'm encouraged by the speed at which we are moving along and giving vaccines to people.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Professor Rajiv Kohli, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Companies, organizations, and businesses are seeking professionals to lead in the Post-COVID world professionals who think strategically, communicate effectively and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and more in the William & Mary MBA program. Offered in four formats the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive MBA. Check out the William & Mary MBA program to learn more. 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 ahead.

More Podcast Episodes

 Cara Simpson & Vicki Harrington
Cara Simpson & Vicki HarringtonEpisode 149: March 1, 2021
Helping Others Through COVID

Cara Simpson & Vicki Harrington

Episode 149: March 1, 2021

Helping Others Through COVID

When the pandemic first took over the United States last March, two William & Mary MBA students decided to use their talents to help others, Cara Simpson and Vicki Harrington quickly founded the CrimDell Small Business Network, named after a popular landmark on the William & Mary campus. They formed a partnership with the Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center, then began offering free strategic business advising to small businesses in the greater Williamsburg area affected by the pandemic. Over 60 classmates joined in to serve as business analysts. Professors and leadership coaches at William & Mary's business school stepped up. The school's Graduate Career Management Center got involved. In less than a year, the organization has spent over 1500 hours helping 50 small businesses navigate the pandemic. Most of the businesses are women-, veterans-, or disability-owned enterprises. Simpson and Harrington join us today to talk about the success of the CrimDell Small Business Network, the lessons they've learned, and how utilizing your strengths can help others.

Podcast (audio)

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Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How did Cara and Vicki come up with the idea of the CrimDell Small Business Network
  • How many students are involved in CrimDell
  • What is the focus of the CrimDell Small Business Network
  • How CrimDell was initially funded
  • What does CrimDell offer small business
  • What is the inspiration for the CrimDell business model
  • How have businesses reacted to the service
  • The meaning of Use Your Skillset
  • What the future holds for CrimDell
Transcript

Cara Simpson & Vicki Harrington: Helping Others Through COVID 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. When the pandemic first took over the United States last March, two William & Mary MBA students decided to use their talents to help others. Cara Simpson and Vicki Harrington quickly founded the CrimDell Small Business Network, named after a popular landmark on the William & Mary campus. They formed a partnership with the Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center, then began offering free strategic business advising to small businesses in the greater Williamsburg area affected by the pandemic. Over 60 classmates joined in to serve as business analysts, professors, and leadership coaches at William & Mary's Business School stepped up. The school's Graduate Career Management Center got involved. In less than a year, the organization has spent over fifteen hundred hours helping 50 small businesses navigate the pandemic. Most of the businesses are women, veterans, or disability-owned enterprises. Simpson and Harrington join us today to talk about the success of the CrimDell Small Business Network, the lessons they've learned, and how utilizing your strengths can help others. Here's our conversation with Cara Simpson and Vicki Harrington.

Ken White

Vicki, Cara, thanks for sharing your time and your story with us. Welcome. It's nice to have you here.

Cara Simpson

Thank you, Dean White. Thanks for inviting us.

Ken White

I'm trying to think full-time MBA students. How many have we had on the podcast series? Not many. So you're in an elite group, so. Yeah. So thanks for being here. I have to ask you this question because I've told so many people this story. I don't know if you remember. And that's my question. Do you remember when COVID first hit and we started to have meetings with the classes and we met with your class? And after a couple of basic questions, when do you think class will return to normal? You know, basic questions Vicki, you said what can we do as a class, as an MBA program, and as a business school to help others? Do you remember that?

Vicki Harrington

I do. And what's funny is I think the behind-the-scenes is a lot funnier than you realize because Cara and I had already started talking about ways to help. And Cara is the one that prompted me to ask that question.

Cara Simpson

I was driving. I was driving in my car, so I wasn't able to unmute.

Vicki Harrington

So it's funny. It's funny that you bring it up. You bring it up a lot. I'm glad you do it. I think it's it speaks to hopefully what a lot of us in the class were thinking.

Ken White

Absolutely. But it set the tone.

Vicki Harrington

It was Cara and I that did that from the beginning.

Ken White

But it set a tone. I think in the early days, early March, all of us humankind was saying, oh, no, what am I going to do? How is it going to affect me? I think that's a natural response. And so to hear that that early was really amazing. So how did you come up with the idea?

Cara Simpson

Well, I think we just looked at what we could do, and we looked at where we were poised as business students. And I remember talking to Vicki over WhatsApp one night, and we were both talking about our internships. We were thinking about how does this affect us? But thinking about, okay, well, we know this is also affecting small businesses. And so I think that's what made CrimDell work so well was the idea that we had this mutually beneficial relationship and we saw that there was something there, I made this really rudimentary infographic in PowerPoint, that basically it was a picture and had William & Mary community on one side and it had greater Williamsburg community on the other. And I put a bunch of circles in the middle of like EPs, government, MBA students, and drew some arrows back and forth. And this was the basically the proposal document. We were like. We know that we have something here. We know that we have skills that other people could use.

Ken White

Yeah. And so then from there, where did you go? I mean, because it's a funded organization. It has really grown. Where did you go from the beginning and from that original document?

Cara Simpson

The first person we texted was Nancy Turner, the EP.

Ken White

An executive partner, which is the organization here at the business school of some active, some semi-retired, and retired executives who are absolutely fantastic. So you reached out to them.

Cara Simpson

And Nancy has been a huge advocate for Vicki and I as well as other students since we've gotten here. And so she actually introduced us to a bigger group of people in the William & Mary community, including Rachel Frazier, Graham Henshaw, Julie Summ's. There is a bunch of people at this meeting, and it was a zoom called mostly designed around these MBA students have an idea. And we didn't know that we were being put sort of in the center of attention like this, but we were ready. So we basically

Vicki Harrington

And it was interesting, too, because, you know, we had this idea in what we thought was a silo of saying we want to help. We don't know-how. Who can we go to? Someone, you know, executive partner. And she was like, oh, these conversations are already happening all over William & Mary. People are already trying to figure out how to help. Let me put you in touch with them. And so, you know, we had Cara's beautiful sketch of, hey, students need internships, businesses need help pivoting and reimagining. And really, we just kept knocking on virtual zoom doors until we didn't hear the word no.

Cara Simpson

And people were really excited about it really quickly. I think

Ken White

Yeah.

Cara Simpson

it was. I think it made easy sense to people, even though we didn't have a really clear vision of exactly how we were going to do what we wanted to do. And the more we pushed, the more conversations we had, the more barriers did come up in front of us. People were asking us, well, did you consider liability? Did you consider how you're going to get a hold of people? All of these things and our answers are basically, no, but we can now.

Ken White

Yeah.

Vicki Harrington

Thanks for bringing that to our attention.

Ken White

No kidding.

Vicki Harrington

Now we will accomplish it now.

Ken White

Yeah.

Vicki Harrington

Now we will do it.

Ken White

So how did you get other students on board quickly?

Vicki Harrington

We tried to get them involved pretty early on, really in the beginning. And to this day, we consider ourselves a very flat organization. We've had over our lifetime sixty students involved. Currently, we sit around thirty-five, and it's this idea that you know how you can help best. We want to bring a culture and a community together of show me what you've got, you know, and what can you bring to the table for CrimDell.

Cara Simpson

And early on, before we were called, Crimdell. Students were texting us left and right. They're like we hear you've got something going. There's a buzz. We didn't even know we didn't intend for there to be a buzz right away. And it was really overwhelming because I remember having this feeling of I don't totally understand what this looks like yet. How can I bring in a team of people to help when I'm just

Vicki Harrington

We're still figuring it out. But then we realized we're only two people. Let's open a door and see what happens. And I think that's something that we've been. I would say, very successful with, is listening to others and bringing other people's ideas in.

Ken White

It sounds like you were sort of, you know, building the plane while you were flying it, so to speak. Right.

Vicki Harrington

We say that all the time, we're building the car as you drive it over the bridge.

Ken White

Yeah. So how did you come to the how did you come to everybody's hearts and minds were in the right place. Let's use our expertise to help others. How did you actually kind of focus in on what are we going to do and who are we going?

Cara Simpson

Well, I think a bit of a chance introduction Rachel Fraizer from the from Launchpad. She introduced us to Jim Carroll at the Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center. And he in our first meeting, he told us that he's willing to meet with us every Friday, 1:00. And at first, we didn't really understand what it was he was looking to do, but he did counsel small businesses, and he saw what we were able to offer. And it was really key timing because this was right before the first round of PPP. The funding was released to the public.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Cara Simpson

Of course, the payroll protection funds as part of the Cares Act. So they knew at the SPDC that they were about to be overwhelmed with requests from the small business community. So he gave us an opportunity. He helped us find that first bit of funding that allowed us to pay students for this work. And we thought that was something really important and we really excited about.

Ken White

So, yes. So then, yeah, you had payroll, and you had some money in the bank. So the checks didn't bounce, so to speak. Right. And then what were you offering businesses at that time?

Vicki Harrington

So and it's similar to our model today. We act as SPDC counselors. So SPDC, like Cara mentioned, is the Small Business Development Center. It's an organization funded through the Small Business Administration as well as local entities in the community. And their whole mission is to provide free counseling to businesses. So what we do is we kind of do a little bit more in-depth than the usual business counseling that SPDC does. We take teams of two students and set them up with a business, and they have to define a project scope, something that's, you know, bite-size, something that they can chew on. And over the course of a roughly 20 hours or three weeks, depending on the project, they meet with local experts. They, you know, do a lot of fact-finding, get things from the business, and present actionable recommendations at the end.

Cara Simpson

And this was inspired a lot by the corporate field consultancy class that is offered here at the School of Business.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Cara Simpson

And we actually had a conversation with Terry Shannon, who's in charge of the CFC class at the very beginning, because we recognize the parallels between what they offer as a seven-week course and what we wanted to be able to turn out at a faster rate, not for corporate clients, but for small businesses here in Williamsburg.

Ken White

Right.

Cara Simpson

So we had his help in terms of design and guidance. We also reached out to Dawn Edmiston, and she helped us a lot with creating an organizational structure that allowed us to function more efficiently as a student organization. And that's where we went from. Vicki and Cara trying to figure this out to Vicki and Cara, co-founders and managing directors.

Ken White

And Dawn Edmiston, one of our marketing professors here at the business school.

Vicki Harrington

It took a village of business school.

Ken White

It sure did. It was so interesting to see the documents and more names and more names and more expertise.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Cara Simpson and Vicki Harrington of the CrimDell Small Business Network in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. You know, the post COVID world will require new skills and new approaches. And those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different MBA formats, including the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive, all taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty. The William & Mary MBA will prepare you to succeed and lead in our new world. Check out the MBA programs at William & Mary. Now back to our conversation with William & Mary MBA students Cara Simpson and Vicky Harrington, the founders of the Criminal Small Business Network.

Ken White

One thing comes to mind how do businesses react when you say we have a couple of fairly young MBAs who are going to help you in something you may have worked on for 40 years? What was the reaction?

Vicki Harrington

It's such a great question because it's something that I think we stress so much to our students. Our students have just as much to learn from the business as the business owner may be able to learn from the student. So our business owners, like you said, a lot of them have been in the field for 10, 20, 30, 50 years.

Ken White

Yeah.

Vicki Harrington

And they are an expertise at whatever they do best, and no one has an expertise at everything. Right. And so, you know, business students, we're young, we're hungry. We're trying to prove ourselves, and we need practice. So it's this amazing opportunity to take what we're learning in the classroom and actually translate it into a hands-on experience that really, honestly helps the business owner just think a little bit differently. Right. It's that second eye.

Cara Simpson

We look at the counseling. We offer, as, you know, some form of catharsis for these people that are spending all of their time just totally in tunnel vision, looking at their problems really close up. And so we're offering this opportunity for a different perspective. And even and if we're able to make sure that students are coming at this, not as I'm going to tell you what to do and how to run your business, I'm going to instead share with you my skills and my background and see what would work to make your life better.

Ken White

Yeah.

Vicki Harrington

And all of our first meetings, we have a little presentation. We have students run through, and on one side, huge, it's just as at CrimDell we work with you, and it's not for you. It's not beneath you. It's with you.

Ken White

What are some of the success stories when you look back?

Cara Simpson

Oh, so I think one of the earlier clients, maybe, maybe halfway through, I think it was really interesting talking to the business analyst, the student. This is what we call the one they're working with the business, the business analyst. We were talking with them, and they were almost finishing a project with someone in early child care. And they were talking about how they were just so excited about how incredibly complicated working in this industry is and how she's explaining to us. Do you realize how they are on razor-thin margins, and now their capacity is cut in half, and they have to do this in their prices? And it is a complicated business problem. And it's something where, you know, to someone day to day, you don't think about these like strategic business challenges that people are facing. So that's a success in terms of our side feeling like we're opening up people in our organization, their eyes, to the business problems going around. Also, we've got some really great testimonials on the other side, and those are always really great to read. I don't think we've gotten one negative feedback yet.

Vicki Harrington

Yeah. And I mean, we are constantly trying to narrow our scope, but reality is we'll do any kind of project that's brought to us, and we like that. We consider ourselves generalists. We've done cash flow projections. We've done pricing strategies. We've done social media marketing plans. Gosh, we've done we do a lot of IT counseling. That was a big thing, especially in the beginning, businesses needing to get online. And so, you know, it's the site, it's two students being able to take that time and say, no, let's compare websites. You know, let's and not only let's compare websites because that's kind of functions in a vacuum. Let's put it on your cash flow statement. Let's see what it's going to cost you per month.

Ken White

Nice.

Vicki Harrington

Let's see. You know what that looks like.

Ken White

Yeah. Before we started to record, you mentioned use your skillset. Vicki, tell me a little more about that. What did you mean when you say that.

Vicki Harrington

Yeah. So everyone has something to bring to the table, right. Everyone, you know, has innately what they think they're good at, what they want to do. And it's this idea that you know, especially in times of uncertainty and crisis, it's the best thing you can do is kind of look within and say, what can I offer? What can I do? So, you know, as business students can't go and administer vaccines, we can't give PPP to folks in need, but we can provide the skill set that we have to help in the crisis that's happening with small businesses.

Cara Simpson

And that's, I think, how as a society we achieve maximum potential rate, everybody contributing what they are best suited to contribute. So I think that was the attitude we started with. And actually, during our orientation, you had an alumni from some year, and I don't remember his name, but I remember that he was talking about how success happens, where preparation meets opportunity. I don't know that student's name, but I remember listening that and thinking like that's a bit cliche, but it stuck in my head so well, and I think about it all the time to that, okay, this is really like what am I prepared for right now? And if I'm not totally prepared, and I have this opportunity. What can I do to get prepared as fast as possible?

Vicki Harrington

Yeah.

Ken White

So what's up moving forward? What are you hoping to do? You two will graduate not too far away. That's coming up pretty quickly here in May. Yeah. So what are you hoping takes place moving forward?

Vicki Harrington

So we just hired 14 new business analysts from our first-year class, so.

Cara Simpson

And one undergrad.

Vicki Harrington

And one undergrad.

Ken White

Nice.

Vicki Harrington

We do like to include some all-star undergrads in our cohort. Everything moving forward for Cara and I has been related to how do we continue to sustain this program.

Cara Simpson

And these conversations they started in August when the school was coming back. We are recognizing this is our second year. Everything we need to do needs to be based around a succession plan.

Vicki Harrington

Because we think, you know, born out of crisis, but something that continually will contribute to the community. So we are currently looking for a replacement managing director. We're currently trying to get funding in line. You know, there's a lot of moving parts.

Cara Simpson

Our board of directors already has to first-year students on it. And they've already given their word that they want to keep doing this into next year. So we know we've got at least a couple of leaders on board and ready to go. And we are still in communication regularly with Jim Carroll with our SPDC partners. We have a dedicated advisor, Tim Ryan. We've been forming more connections at the business school in terms of oversight to Professor Wagner, Phil Wagner. He's actually taken on a little bit more responsibility.

Vicki Harrington

He's our faculty advisor.

Cara Simpson

Yes. Yeah. So he's talking to us about what he can do to make sure this keeps going.

Ken White

Yeah.

Cara Simpson

A lot of pieces.

Vicki Harrington

We try and weave ourselves in ways that make sure we stay around even when we're gone.

Ken White

The crisis or not. It sounds like your goal is to be there for small businesses in the region who could use some expertise they may not have.

Vicki Harrington

Yeah, and it's I think it's a model that really does work for both sides. You know, it's I I myself was doing applications and interviews last semester, and I had to continually remind myself to talk less about CrimDell because

Ken White

On your job interviews, you mean.

Vicki Harrington

Yeah, because I had so I was like, well, this one time, you know, planning this meeting. And I had so much expertise coming from working with small businesses. So, you know, it really, really helped students in the job market to say, no, let me tell you about the time. And I did this.

Cara Simpson

And also, I mean, the idea didn't come out of nowhere even before COVID, Vicky, and I were planning an event as MBAA club leads, and we attended the Williamsburg Economic Development Luncheon to try to meet some small business owners to talk about potential for them to get more interaction with the business school. And we were meeting people from Williamsburg local government, and they were so excited to have William & Mary MBA students at the luncheon, they were telling us to come back again to invite friends. Yes, they'd love to do more. And so we saw that there was this desire from the community to increase interaction with us. And this desire won't go away

Vicki Harrington

Yeah.

Cara Simpson

once COVID is over.

Vicki Harrington

Or and once we're gone. Yeah.

Ken White

And that's our conversation with Cara Simpson and Vicki Harrington, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Organizations and businesses are seeking professionals to lead in our post COVID world. Professionals who think strategically, communicate effectively, and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and more in the William & Mary MBA program offered in four formats the full-time, the part-time, the online, and the executive. Check out the William & Mary MBA program to learn more. Finally, we'd like 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 Cara Simpson and Vicki Harrington. And thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

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Episode 148: February 15, 2021

A CEO Does Three Things

For some CEOs and leaders, getting pulled in countless directions each day is par for the course. Many leaders feel they have to be involved in all aspects of their business. When that happens, they end up spending valuable time, effort, and focus on low priority items and low priority decisions. Before they know it, they're overworked and burned out. And they fail to move the organization forward. Trey Taylor says instead of doing everything, leaders should focus on the right things. Taylor's the Managing Director of trinity | blue, a consultancy that helps C-Suite leaders succeed. He's also the author of "A CEO Only Does Three Things: Finding your focus in the C-Suite." In the book, Taylor shares his three pillars of business: Culture, people, and numbers. He says when leaders embrace the three pillars, they create fulfilled and efficient professional lives. They end up focusing on the work they love, and they avoid CEO burnout.

Podcast (audio)

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Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How Trey found the time to write his book
  • Why do most leaders spend so much time on low priority items
  • What leads to CEO burnout
  • What are the three pillars CEOs should focus on
  • How is workplace culture defined
  • What is the role of the CEO in defining culture
  • why should a CEO have a good understanding of people
  • How involved should a CEO be with recruitment
  • Why should a CEO be transparent with the company's numbers
Transcript

Trey Taylor: A CEO Does Three Things 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. For some CEOs and leaders, getting pulled in countless directions each day is par for the course. Many leaders feel they have to be involved in all aspects of their business. Well, when that happens, they end up spending valuable time, effort, and focus on low priority items and low priority decisions. Before they know it, they're overworked and burned out, and they've failed to move the organization forward. Trey Taylor says instead of doing everything, leaders should focus on the right things. Taylor is the managing director of trinity | blue, a consultancy that helps C-suite leaders succeed. He's also the author of A CEO Only Does Three Things: Finding Your Focus in the C Suite. In the book, Taylor shares his three pillars of business culture, people, and numbers. He says when leaders embrace the three pillars, they create fulfilled and efficient professional lives. They end up focusing on the work they love, and they avoid CEO burnout. Here's our conversation with Trey Taylor, author of A CEO Only Does Three Things.

Ken White

Well, Trey, thanks very much for taking your time and your willingness to share your expertise with us. Nice to see you.

Trey Taylor

Ken, a real pleasure to be with you.

Ken White

A first question, because we have so many listeners who, like you, have great expertise, are extremely busy, could write a terrific book, but just don't find the time. How in the world did you manage to write a book when you're working so much, and life is full?

Trey Taylor

It's a great question Ken, the only way I ever made progress in writing a book, and it did take me probably two and a half years. Number one was to carve out time to do it. So I would take a week every quarter and go away somewhere from the family. So I'd go nice places to treat myself, but I would work on the book in those places. And number two, I had to hire people to help me with things that they knew how to do that I didn't. So I didn't hire a ghostwriter, but I had somebody come in and interview me sort of for 12 one-hour sessions, put those things on paper for me so that I could move them around a little bit and get some semblance of order into my thoughts. I'm a huge believer in the outsource economy anyway, and I outsourced as much of this as I could while still making it mine.

Ken White

That's that's great. Everybody seems to have their game plan. And yours is interesting because mostly what I hear is I try to write an hour a day or every other day. But yeah, that's interesting. And it worked. Obviously, the book is out. It's doing well. And you're helping people find their focus in the C suite. So why, in your experience, do so many leaders spend so much time on those low-priority items instead of the big items?

Trey Taylor

Because leaders are good people and they're people-focused people and the people that work for them, they want to be successful. And if I just help this person with this task once or twice or three times, then they will learn it, take it over and do it for themselves. It's a complete myth that we tell ourselves over and over any executive that tells you that he is not guilty of that particular management sin is not then is then guilty of another management sin of lack of personal candor because we all do that. There's a famous HBR article about the monkey on my back, the most famous Harvard Business Review article. And we're all guilty of that. So the answer to the question is we do for others hoping they will do for themselves. And in reality, over time, we're teaching them that they don't have to do that. So we are the buck stops here. We're the final stop on the tour. And so we end up doing not only the job that we are hired to do but pieces of the job that we hire other people to do as well.

Ken White

In doing that, to a large extent, lead to ineffectiveness, lead to burnout.

Trey Taylor

Absolutely. It absolutely leads to both of those things. I'm really glad you brought up the burnout piece because it's you are doing the work that you've hired other people to do, and you've invested a lot of confidence in people to come in and work for you. And you every manager gets super excited when they hire somebody because they say this person is going to do great. I'm going to do less of that kind of job and more of my own job. The organization as a whole is going to perform better, but in reality, we get into these bad habits of over helping, of overdoing for other people. And it's a little counterintuitive because I'm a full believer that we should really practice whole person management, but no part of whole-person management is doing someone's job for them. That's actually a very defeating thing to teach someone.

Ken White

You say leaders and CEOs should focus on three items, three pillars, culture, people, and numbers. Let's start with culture. How do you define that? What do you mean when you say that?

Trey Taylor

So for me, culture is the ethical environment in which we live and work. Some people refer to it sort of as the fish tank. You don't know that the water is there until the water gets dirty until you get into this dysfunctional culture. And really what it is, is it's the sum of agreed values and behaviors that come from those values that we all agree that this is how we want to behave. This is how we want to react to certain challenges, and this is how we want to play up and down the field of business and life that come to us. What I notice about cultures, it's every organization has a culture. Whether you like the culture that you have or you don't care for it. It all you have one no matter what. And what I find is that people and we preach this very religiously, that CEOs should articulate the culture. Now, sometimes that means just announcing this is what we have in the culture that exists. And then sometimes there's some art to it to say, hey, we really don't like this part of the culture. So we're going to manage away from that with aspirational values and applied consistently over time. You really can remake the culture in the image that you really want to see.

Ken White

So it's more of repeating and communicating the agreed values. That's the role of the CEO in culture.

Trey Taylor

Yeah, absolutely. So you articulate the values first, the ones that you really want to be true for the organization. They have to be grounded in some truth of what's already there, but they can be aspirational to some extent as well. Number two is that you're going to overcommunicate the culture. My team, when I started this in my own company, they were sick of the word culture by three months in because I overcommunicated it all the time. And then third, I'm going to pass that responsibility for communication over to other people in the organization so that it becomes a conversation and not just me preaching it all the time. It's not a sermon. And in doing that, we ritualize the culture.

Ken White

But that third piece is so tough to hand it over because most leaders want to do it right and be a part of it.

Trey Taylor

Yeah, absolutely. So I don't cede it to anyone. I simply invite them into the conversation and say this is how I feel about this particular value that we have identified as something important. How do you feel about it, and where do you see it show up in our organization. And we do that in a ritualized format. We just do it by email on the Monday of every week. Someone takes one of our values. We have 13. We call them b attitudes. Someone takes it, and they say, here's the value. This is what I think it means to me. And this is where I've seen another person in the organization practice it well. And we've been doing that exercise for six to seven years now.

Ken White

Interesting. William & Mary does the same every time we meet someone has the value, and they have a little personal story about what it means to them and how they've seen it sort of in action. But you have three elements, and you've chosen culture as one of the three.

Trey Taylor

Absolutely.

Ken White

So obviously, you feel this is very critically important for leaders.

Trey Taylor

Yeah, so the CEOs, the only position in the company doesn't come with a job description. Right. And so, my argument here is this is the job description for the CEO, and the CEO should do the things that no one else in the organization can do. And I don't mean by ability. I mean by perspective. Right. So is it okay to cede the culture formation and management to someone without the authority to build cultural rituals or necessarily the ability because of where they stand in the organization or the information necessary to do it? No, none of that is okay. So I think that that you have to trace that to the one position in the organization that has all three of those, and that happens to be the CEO.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Trey Taylor, author of A CEO Only Does Three Things, in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary's School of Business. The post-covid world will require new skills and new approaches while those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different formats, including the full-time, the evening, the online, and the executive, all taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty. 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 with Trey Taylor, author of A CEO Only Does Three Things.

Ken White

Your second pillar, which CEO should prioritize, is people. How do you define that? What do you mean by?

Trey Taylor

Absolutely you won't have much of a culture if you don't have people participating in the culture. And it becomes a cultural exercise in the selecting of people who are going to go on the journey with you. And that really is what it's all about in people. So we give a little bit of a primer on here's how you understand people. And a lot of that work comes from the work of  Ron Willingham, who you probably know, and then it becomes about how do we recruit? And we have a little bit of a different take on what recruiting has to be in this style age today when it is so very easy to get a gig economy job or something of that nature. So we have a little bit of a specific process that's different than what people have said. And it's very challenging process. So a lot of people look at it and say, well, I could never do that. And then, we show some examples of where that works. And then finally, it's about talent retention and the mindset around. You're not hiring a team member. You're not you're hiring talent the same way Hollywood hires talent. Who's the best person to play this role that we have scripted for them in this movie?

Ken White

Recruiting, doing it right is is so time-consuming. And I think some organizations just aren't willing to put the time in, put an ad out, see who applies and let's go with it. That can certainly backfire. Can't it?

Trey Taylor

Yeah, absolutely backfires all of the time. And what I hear from CEOs so many of so many times when we do consulting engagements, I don't have time to worry about my literal, most important thing that I could possibly do today, which is add someone to the team. And we've got some great examples. Larry Page, when he used to be the CEO of Google, which was a huge company then, even bigger now, you could not fill a job until he had at least put eyes on the resume. And this is when they had about eighteen thousand employees. Now, at some point, I think that bottlenecked, and they went a different way with it. But the whole point is, if Larry Page can do that for five years, my client, who's running a 40 life insurance company or something, definitely can take a little bit of time to do that and be engaged in the process in the conversation.

Ken White

Also, with people, you mentioned retention. What are some of the more effective ways you've seen and you liked to retain the high-quality players on the team?

Trey Taylor

Retention is all about letting your people know that the role that they are playing and the person that they are are important to the organization and to you personally. So CEOs really do have to reach out and say thank you for what you're doing in several different ways. And one of those ways sometimes is you're doing well, but you could do so much better. Let's invest in that together or something of that nature. But it's all about being personally involved in the life of the team member of the person who's on the journey with you.

Ken White

It's always nice to hear from the boss, isn't it?

Trey Taylor

Absolutely.

Ken White

Your third pillar is numbers. What do you mean by numbers?

Trey Taylor

So numbers, this is the biggest pushback that we get in the book numbers. The CEO says, well, that's the CFOs job to do. And for me, it's like James Madison was the first guy at the Constitutional Convention. Why? Not because he thought he would hijack something or influence it. All he wanted to do was to set the agenda of what was debated. And so he got there, and he got on the agenda committee. They called it something else, I'm sure, but that's all he wanted to do. So the CEO's job is to set the agenda when it comes to numbers. Here are the numbers that we need to achieve for the organization to live up to the potential and us be able to achieve the goals that we want to achieve long term. Someone else can manage those numbers. Someone else can measure them and report them out and that sort of thing. If your CFO or finance director, whoever that happens to be, but the CEO has to set the agenda, and then common theme overcommunicate. These are the goals. These are the goals. These are the goals. This is where we are and that sort of thing and be remarkably transparent. This is one of the big pushes in the book is to really share numbers that you think may not be something of interest to people in the organization. But when you do, you empower them to help you achieve those numbers in really startling ways.

Ken White

Absolutely. Any can you think of an example of someone who embraces the culture, people, numbers framework that you've created?

Trey Taylor

Yeah, I've had several clients go through the whole process with us, and we had a an insurance company in Corpus Christi, Texas, and they were going through a management transition so that the number two was becoming the number one and the previous number one was still in the organization as the chairman and still had an enormous moral influence over this is how we do things, very cultural icon for the business. And so we wanted to articulate the new generation of culture and how those behaviors show up in our people on a daily basis. They had a numbers issue because the previous outgoing CEO was sort of old and set in his ways and hadn't modernized and adopted systems that would embrace the current environment. So we had a numbers issue there, and then some people were leaving some natural attrition, but some also because their boss was leaving, they were going to transition out as well. So we had a recruiting problem as well. So over the course of a couple of years, we had a lot of work to do and tweak. And because it was very much almost a vaccination of a lot of new principals coming into a host organization, we were worried about the possibility of rejection. And so we had to do a lot of very good internal one-on-one conversations. So the first three months we scheduled, she had eight hours of conversations scheduled every single day. One on one

Ken White

Wow.

Trey Taylor

with about one hundred and forty people.

Ken White

Wow.

Trey Taylor

And we just banged it out. And she went in with an articulated strategy and said, here's where I'm going to take this organization over the next two years. Here's an invitation for you to come along with it.

Ken White

Wow, and obviously, if you're using it as an example, it worked.

Trey Taylor

It worked beautifully for her. She had started in that organization, in the mailroom or secretarial support or something of that nature, and had risen to the top of the organization. No one knew it better than she did. But knowing it was not enough, she really had to lead the organization to the vision that she had and very successful in doing that over a two-year period, yeah.

Ken White

For a CEO who says, I don't know if I can do it, I don't know if I can focus on three things. I know how big the job is. What do you say? What advice do you have?

Trey Taylor

Yeah, so I admit defeat on that point because we all get to that point. Here's what I ask CEOs to do. And I have a little pad on my own desk that I print out once a year. And it has the date on it, and it has culture, people, numbers, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. And what I give myself permission to do is once I have satisfied something on those three things every single day, then I'm allowed to go do my to-do list for the day, because, of course, we have full-time jobs outside some of us, multiple jobs outside of just running the culture, people and numbers of this organization. All I'm really trying to do is to get C-suite executives to touch the long term on a daily basis.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Trey Taylor, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Businesses and organizations are seeking professionals to lead in the post-covid world professionals who think strategically, communicate effectively and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and more in the William & Mary MBA program. Offered in four formats the full-time, the evening, the online, and the executive MBA. Check us out online to learn more. Finally, we'd like 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 Trey Taylor, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

More Podcast Episodes

 Fawn Germer
Fawn GermerEpisode 147: February 1, 2021
Unemployed at 60

Fawn Germer

Episode 147: February 1, 2021

Unemployed at 60

There are few things in life more stressful than being out of work. Mid- to late-career professionals face an especially difficult challenge. The unemployment rate for older professionals is more than three times the national average. And as this group exits the workforce due to downsizing, COVID-19, or termination, it takes them twice as long as others to get hired, and often for less money than they had been making. The picture for unemployed workers over 50 is not pretty. But rather than blame the market or age discrimination, our guest today says "look in the mirror." Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of nine books, including her latest, "Coming Back: How to win the job you want when you've lost the job you need." She says many experienced professionals have not kept up with technology, the skills needed today, social media, and the overall pace of change. She says older workers want to come back, but they don't always know how. She shares her advice with us today.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What's the first thing a mid-career professional should do when they lose their job
  • Should an unemployed mid-career professional strive to stay in the same industry
  • When should someone take a job that isn't the right fit for them
  • Where should an unemployed professional start to look for work
  • What are networking best practices in the time of COVID
  • How should a job-seeker employ social media
  • The importance of presenting well on video calls
  • How to mentally overcome age discrimination
Transcript

Fawn Germer: Unemployed at 60 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. There are few things in life more stressful than being out of work. Mid to late-career professionals face an especially difficult challenge. The unemployment rate for older professionals is more than three times the national average. And as this group exits the workforce due to downsizing, COVID-19 or termination, it takes them twice as long as others to get hired and often for less money than they had been making. The picture for unemployed workers over 50 is not pretty. But rather than blame the market or age discrimination. Our guest today says, look in the mirror. Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of nine books, including her latest Coming Back How to Win the Job You Want When You've Lost the Job You Need. She says many experienced professionals have not kept up with technology. The skills needed today, social media, and the overall pace of change. She says older workers want to come back, but they don't always know-how. She shares her advice with us today. Here's our conversation with Fawn Germer, author of Coming Back How to Win the Job You Want When You Lost the Job You Need.

Ken White

Well, Fawn, thanks very much for being with us. We appreciate your time and sharing your expertise with us. It's nice to see you.

Fawn Germer

It's great to be with you.

Ken White

For the mid-career professional or someone even later than mid-career who just lost their job for whatever reason. That's a boy that's a life event that can really shake you with your experience and expertise. How would you advise somebody? What's the first thing maybe they should do when that happens?

Fawn Germer

Well, I think I'm supposed to say buy my book, but it's make up your mind. That you're going to get in the game, that the people who will win and believe me, if you make up your mind, you will win. But the people who win are the ones who say; I'm not gone. That you don't buy into this idea that it's going to be so hard and you're never going to breakthrough. You're going to breakthrough. It's going to be a challenge. It's going to be a test to see how tough you are. But if you make up your mind, you will get where you need to go. And then I'm going to give you one more thing. The next thing you do is you make a list. You make a list of every single thing you need to do so that when you start to lose momentum or when it gets discouraging, you always have one more thing to do because, you know, you work out, you know this when your feet are hurting, and you feel like you can't go any further if you just take the next step and the next step, you get where you need to go. So if you have a list, you just do the next thing on the list and the next thing on the list and with the certainty that you are going to do it.

Ken White

Excellent. I think most people if they were to lose their job late in their careers, might think I better look in the field where I've spent the most time. Do you recommend they stay in the same profession or look elsewhere?

Fawn Germer

Well, that's hard to say because it depends on what the field is. You're looking at a former newspaper person, and if somebody lost their job in newspapers, I'd be like, you got to go look for another gig because that dance has about run its course.

Ken White

Right.

Fawn Germer

But what I would do is do some research on your industry, see if it's still viable. And then the first thing you ask yourself is, do I still like this? And if you still like it, can you get hired? And really, you want to eliminate the negative out of your mindset, saying I'll never get a job because that's going to make it hard for you to make a good decision. You have to be able to be realistic about it. Is that do you have opportunities that you can get? And if you still love it? Stay in it, but don't try to force the world to accept skills that are no longer being utilized. The world has changed. If it's still a viable profession and you love it, stay. If not, go.

Ken White

How about fit? How much does the job have to fit? And do I have to like it 100 percent, 80 percent, 50 percent at this stage in life?

Fawn Germer

Well, and sometimes it depends on how long you've been unemployed because sometimes you need to have a job in order to get a job. So you may take something that's not a good fit just to show that you're employable, but you want the right fit because you are entitled to have work that is meaningful, that makes you happy. Sometimes you have to, on a short term basis, take something that doesn't feel quite right. And you do it because you've got to take the next step to get where you need to go.

Ken White

Which might mean lower pay, for example.

Fawn Germer

Sometimes that is common. I really tell people that from the beginning, keep your mindset that you're going to be able to get pay. That is going to take care of you. You have to be able to eat. But there are times when you will take something for less. And largely that's something I write a lot about, is that the world changed. So if you're the person in the office who has the highest paycheck, that automatically makes you more vulnerable because technologically younger people are coming out of school who will work for a third the cost and who likely can do more than you can. So they're going to take the cheaper work. So in those kinds of situations, if you can't justify the higher paycheck, you will be taking a pay cut. But you want to upskill and learn everything you possibly can. So you're not just seen as somebody with experience, but as somebody who can lead your company and your organization into the future so that you're not the best person for the job today. But in five years.

Ken White

Upscaling is a great point. I'm not so sure some people even know where to begin. Is it determining maybe what you want to do and then getting the skills? How do you approach that?

Fawn Germer

Well, I say it's pretty easy if you regularly read The Wall Street Journal, Ink, Fast Company, and you don't have to read every article, scan the tables of contents, see what's going on, and then Google your industry. If my industry if I were in the news industry, I would Google trends in newspapers, and I would see what's going on with that if I'm in the insurance business trends in the insurance business and see what's coming. And everybody really needs to look at artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain, big data, and machine learning and see how those things are going to impact their specific skill set. And then you just one by one take something, so you're at least familiar with those things. And that's the easiest thing in the world. There is so much learning out there that is free with these online courses. And you can say I've studied artificial intelligence from Harvard professors for free. You don't have to get an A in the class. You need the information. So always add something into your repertoire. And sometimes it's confusing. Blockchain that that's something I couldn't understand it. It took me forever. I did so many YouTube videos. I still didn't get it. And then I found a video on how to teach a, I think, six-year-old about watching. And then I watched that ten-minute video, and I understood blockchains like even if you take it to its easiest level and then start from there, you get the training you need. And let's admit it, we thought we were technologically up to date. We're not, and companies don't care about experience as much as they care about relevance. So if you've got time and you're not working, make yourself relevant. It's not hard, and the payoff is huge.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Fawn Germer, author of Coming Back How to Win the Job You Want When You've Lost the Job You Need in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. The post COVID world will require new skills and new approaches. And those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different formats, including the full-time, the evening, the online, and the executive, all taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty. 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 with Fawn Germer.

Ken White

What about networking? That's uncomfortable for a lot of people, but when you're out of work, that's a that's an important thing to do. What advice do you have for people in terms of networking?

Fawn Germer

Well, I am an introvert. If I go to a party, it's kind of, you know, unless I'm there as the speaker, I'm very engaged because people come up to me. But if I have to go up to them, it's hard. So you do want to get in the room, and it's very easy to network during COVID because you people are available, so you can do informational Zoom calls all the time and ask people who are your mentors to hook you up with their mentors and just do these little informal meetings, and you build this network, and it's useless if you don't ask your network for help. And I don't mean saying, hey, do you mind sending my resume out? I mean, you say, can you send my resume to Jim Davis tomorrow? It's about this job. And I would like to make an appointment to see him next week, blow some of your clout because it's no good to have clout if you don't use it. And so it's you got to go guerilla. Your network will help you again and again, but you have to specifically show it what you want.

Ken White

And then in terms of personal branding, social media, you say that's a place that people have to have to look at. They've got to embrace it. How do you what do you do what you say when you talk about social media to folks later on in their career? So we're looking for new work?

Fawn Germer

Right. LinkedIn, LinkedIn, LinkedIn, LinkedIn. And I'm somebody who is not that crazy about all of those social media. I do like Facebook so I can post my kayaking pictures, but we have to do this, and it shows that you are a player. And if you have ten companies that you're targeting, start adding contacts in those companies because recruiters see that you have people in their company already. So that gives you points. And then if you start commenting on those people and what they post, that gives you more of a connection to be able to say, hey, I'm really interested in your company, what would you suggest I do? So social media automatically builds your network, and your ability to use it makes you a viable player in that network. It's just the way we do business now.

Ken White

Do you recommend people write and publish on LinkedIn?

Fawn Germer

Yeah, LinkedIn is the place. That is the place. And so you do that, you write your articles if you want, but be in the right groups, and people love it when others comment and say they did a good job with their posts. So just schmooze the right people, and they'll start noticing your name.

Ken White

You and I are talking on Zoom. I can't think of too many companies that do not use video interview, even pre-COVID. Is video and communicating on video something that this generation is adapting to, or they having struggles adapting to that.

Fawn Germer

Well, I think people like it. The older people are certainly figuring out how to use it so they can stay in touch with their children and grandchildren. So they just have to realize that this is the way that business is done then.

Ken White

Yeah.

Fawn Germer

And it's frustrating to me because I can't sneak off and look at Amazon while I'm having a business meeting. I have to pay attention fully. But it is the way business is being done. It is the way people are being interviewed constantly. And then, you know, companies don't think a thing of it. So when you're on that, you've got to really be sure that you've got good lighting, that you've got good sound, test out your camera and your sound before you do it. So you reboot your computer, and when you start, you say, hey, let me get a callback number in case something goes wrong here. Stick your dog in the other room, all of these things, because you want to create an impression that you've got it going on. And the other thing is get the garbage out of the back of your room. You want people to see that you have a professional set up, and sometimes it's you can make it interesting with whatever books you have or whatever things are out there. But what you don't want to do is look like you're a mess and that this was just some afterthought. And particularly for older people, your appearance is so important that you don't look like you're some frumpy old person. And believe me, I'm in the age group that I could qualify for that. But get your hair done. Get the right outfit, dress for your top and your bottom, because you may have to stand up, but you don't have to wear shoes, okay, and just make a good presentation. And you know, the other thing being that that connect, look into the camera, look at that person and validate them by just showing that you're seeing them, you're looking at them, you're taking them seriously.

Ken White

What do you say if someone says there's no way I'm going to get hired? There's just so much age discrimination out there.

Fawn Germer

Then you're not going to get hired. I mean, come on. I learned that lesson when I was young, and I went to River Country. Disney used to have the first water park, and there was this T bar. And if I kept watching people and they would get on the T bar, and it would go down this line, and then they reached the end and then jump in the water. And I kept saying to myself; I'm never going to be able to do that. I'm never going to be able to do that. And then the minute I got on that thing and left the platform, I lost it, let go, fell in the water. But of course, I fell in the water because I thought I couldn't do it. The next time I said I can do this, they all did it. And then I went easily. So if you think that's the case, it's the case. Yes, there are definite age discrimination issues. We can't pretend that they're not. But usually, those issues are magnified because there is an assumption that we are not relevant. So if you can say what you are learning today, that you're taking a class on innovation at MIT, which incidentally, I did, and it was free and it was wonderful. Right. If you're, you can say what you're learning constantly. That's what they want. They want somebody who's an insatiable learner. And if a younger person is interviewing you, don't say, oh, I have a kid your age, or back when I was your age, I was doing whatever. We don't care about your experience anymore. I'm sorry. It's just the way it is. We want to know what you're going to be able to do in the future. And if you try to make it look like you know so much more than the person interviewing you, you're automatically setting yourself up as a threat. So that is how you make age an issue for yourself.

Ken White

So, yeah, great. So so be proactive about it. I do hear sometimes I'll hear someone older say things, wear things, and it screams I am older

Fawn Germer

Right.

Ken White

and out of touch and just wow. Get it together, you know, get it together. And it's not the company's fault. It might be your fault, actually.

Fawn Germer

Well, you know, when and when I start writing that chapter, you know how to de-frump. I looked in the mirror, and I went, well, you're not looking so hot yourself. So we really have to give ourselves a good look in the mirror, not just physically, but that's important, but also in how we are presenting ourselves as professionals because we don't automatically get points for having been there and done that anymore. That can work against us. I think the most important quote in the book came from a millennial who said, if you have thirty years of irrelevant experience and a millennial has three years of relevant experience, the millennial is the expert. And that is the truth.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Fawn Germer, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Businesses and organizations are seeking professionals to lead in our post COVID world. Professionals who think strategically, communicate effectively, and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and more in the William & Mary MBA program. Offered in four formats the full-time, the evening, the online, and the executive MBA. Check us out online to learn more. Finally, we'd like 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, Fawn Germer. Thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White. Wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

More Podcast Episodes

 David Jay
David JayEpisode 146: January 15, 2021
The New Email

David Jay

Episode 146: January 15, 2021

The New Email

Imagine a world without email. While that's not likely anytime soon, the way email looks and the way we use it is changing. The days of video email have arrived. Everyone's familiar with the negative aspects of traditional email: It leads to overloaded inboxes, there's too much back-and-forth, writing and replying take up a great deal of our time. But beyond that, email and websites that rely on the written word are "low touch," and the intent is sometimes misinterpreted. David Jay is out to change that. He's the Founder and CEO of Warm Welcome, a company that helps professionals and organizations change the way they use email and the online written word and instead use video to form better relationships with customers and prospective customers - which has a positive effect on the bottom line. He joins us today to discuss the downside of using traditional text, and the upside of replacing it with video.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How does Warm Welcome help a business stand out
  • What led to the creation of Warm Welcome
  • How does video make the customer interaction more personable
  • What has been the response to replacing email with video
  • What is a video signature
  • What are the advantages of a video business card
  • What is the future of email
  • How should a professional who dislikes seeing themselves on screen embrace video
Transcript

David Jay: The New Email 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. Imagine a world without email. Well, that's not likely anytime soon. The way email looks and the way we use it is changing. The days of video email have arrived. Everyone's familiar with the negative aspects of traditional email. It leads to overloaded inboxes. There's too much back and forth. Writing and replying take up a great deal of our time. But beyond that, email and websites that rely on the written word are low touch, and the intent is sometimes misinterpreted. Well, David Jay is out to change that. He's the founder and CEO of Warm Welcome, a company that helps professionals and organizations change the way they use email and the online written word and instead use video to form better relationships with customers and prospective customers, which has a positive effect on the bottom line. He joins us on the podcast today to discuss the downside of using traditional text and the upside of replacing it with video. Here's our conversation with David Jay, Founder, and CEO of Warm Welcome.

Ken White

David, thanks very much for joining us. It's nice to see you. Thanks for sharing your time with us.

David Jay

Great to be here, Ken. Thanks for having me.

Ken White

And you're, of course, I'm in Williamsburg, Virginia, and you're totally on the other opposite end of the country in beautiful Oregon, right?

David Jay

Yeah, Bend, Oregon. So we're kind of this little island out in the middle of the desert. It's not as rainy as Portland, and yeah, we love it.

Ken White

Yeah, nice. Again, thanks for joining us. When when you explain warm welcome to people. How do you explain it? What do you tell them?

David Jay

Well, the way that we talk about it is, and you know this, people have a really difficult time standing out in their business. You start a business, whether it's a service business or a software business. And the struggle is always like kind of getting recognized and standing out from everyone else, you know, that's in your market. And so, what we try and do is help businesses stand out by transitioning from the boring text that most businesses communicate into personal video. So, just like we're on video now, you know, it really helps businesses stand out, and it helps them build better relationships. And, of course, we all know relationships lead to revenue. So that's what we do, is we try to connect those dots and help people transition from kind of an old archaic way of communicating to a new, more modern way.

Ken White

Where did the idea for warm welcome originate? Do you remember?

David Jay

Yeah. Oh, I sure do. Actually, it was right in this little office. I had a friend come over. Eric Knopf is his name. He has a company called Webconnex. And I was showing him some other video technology that we were building. And he said I want to use that to send personal video emails to all of our customers and just thank them for being our customers. I was like, that is a really cool idea. I was like, I'm going to steal that, and I'm just going to make a whole business around it. And so he's like, do it. He's like, just make sure I get the first free account. And so he did, and he uses it in his business now. He has like five accounts now for all his different companies. But yeah, it's neat. People always kind of iterate and come up with better ideas than my ideas. So I try to listen to them and change what we're doing to fit what they want.

Ken White

Yeah. And it's obviously working. It's so interesting that the business it's part technology, it's part communication, it's part email, it's part relationships, part bottom line. How do you see it when you think about it?

David Jay

Yeah, it's a very holistic business, and that's the way that we wanted to approach it. You know, in a new sort of space like this, a lot of companies will tackle things tactically. Right? They'll take on a piece of the pie. So they'll do like video emails, and people will be like, oh, I want to send video emails, I'll go to this company or that company. And so that's where we started. But then we said, well, gosh, if video emails are effective, then wouldn't applying video to just about every point in the customer experience be effective. And so a video business card or a video bubble on your website or a video email signature or video embedded in your website that someone can engage with and send a video back. And so we thought, gosh, let's just connect all those dots and create a nice, consistent client experience through personal video rather than just kind of taking on one piece of the pie. And so that's what we've done. And it's been a really fun switch. We've been surprised how much we've enjoyed it because of the personal connection. And it's like, how many support tickets do you get or how many emails do you respond to every day? And after a while, they all start to feel the same. And it's easy to not see your customers as people anymore, but to just see them as another, you know, support chat or another email or another, you know, just words on a webpage. And when you change it to video, and you can see someone's face and hear their voice, you're like, wow, that's another human, another person on the other side of this that I get to engage with, and business gets to bring us together. And so it's really brought a lot of passion to our company.

Ken White

It is interesting just to look at your website. It's a very as a visitor; it's a very different experience from another website. I there was hardly any text on there.

David Jay

Yeah.

Ken White

I was watching videos. Yeah. And of course, we like to watch videos as human beings anymore. It seems like it's the thing we do these days, you know. Yeah. What about results? What have you heard from people using it, your clients? What do they what's the reaction from them and those receiving videos from them?

David Jay

Oh, the response rate and the open rate on these is just, I mean, it's night and day. It's like 10x, you know, we used to send, you know, just mass marketing emails, and you get, you know, 20 percent open rate and then one percent, two percent click through rate on them. And now we're getting 90 plus percent open rate and almost a hundred percent response rate on them. And I think the reason one is it's very new, and not very many people are sending these videos out yet. But the other reason is because you recognize that it's a real person on the other end of the line if you will. And so it would be like if we met up on the street or we met up at a coffee shop and I, I engaged you. I said something to you. I said, hey, Ken, what do you think about this? Like, it would be very odd and awkward for you not to respond. Right.

Ken White

Yeah.

David Jay

But yet we feel completely okay not responding to a text email or not responding to some, you know, old form of communication, but a video, you know, where the person is engaging you saying, hey, Ken, I was thinking about you the other day. You know, I was wondering if this would be helpful for your business. So I wanted to send it along right. For you to not watch that video or not respond to that. It starts to feel a little bit odd. Right? So

Ken White

Absolutely.

David Jay

everyone responds now because it's human to human communication again, rather than text to human.

Ken White

Right. Interesting. Let's talk about some of the features. For example, a video signature. What is that?

David Jay

Yeah, so when we started with video email, one thing we found is the people who were very proactive, more sales types, marketing type people, they would go, and they would ground and pound on these things, and they were like having tons of success with them. But there's another type of person that isn't going to be as proactive with it but still wants to personalize all of their communication, all of their emails. So we said, well, when you get an email, you see a bunch of text, right. So it doesn't stand out. And so people just trash it or don't respond to it. Well, what if we could personalize every single email that somebody sent out without them having to do something every single time? And so we said, well, shoot, let's take it. You know, let's take the signature portion of the email, you know, the part that's just auto included in there. And personalize it. Let's add a smile and a wave to it just like that. And if you just do it one time, right, you record a little video. Hey, I'm David. This is my video email signature. Feel free to send me a video back or send me a text message back or email me back, whatever you want. But now every email I send has my smile, has my wave, and as humans, those are trust-building tools, right. And so if somebody sees me and they see me smiling at them, that communicates to them that I like them and that we're friends. And immediately, you start the conversation off. You start the relationship off on a better foot than just a big old page of words.

Ken White

Yeah. And yeah. And all those things we can't do in text we can do in video. Yeah. That's so interesting.

David Jay

We'll continue our discussion with David Jay, CEO of Warm Welcome, in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. The post-COVID world will require new skills and new approaches. And those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different formats, including the full-time, the evening, the online, and the executive. All taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty, 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 with David Jay, CEO of Warm Welcome.

Ken White

I assume the video business card is quite similar.

David Jay

Yeah, very similar. You know, the video business card was another thing that we thought, you know, hey, everyone has business cards these days. But there's so many limitations to a paper business card. One is you just give it to one person, and that person usually throws it away. That's the downside of it. And so it doesn't scale at all. But two, you can only communicate as much as you can cram on this little business card. Right. And it can't be shared in a digital environment. There's like so many things wrong with it. And yet, people still do. You get a promotion? Guess what happens to all your old business cards? Trash. So a video business card. Now, when I share it with you, you can share it on with a thousand other people, and there's no extra cost to anybody. Right. So there's a scalability factor, a marketing factor to this business card. You can also communicate so much more in a video business card than a paper business card. The last one, which is really fun, is you can actually communicate through it. A paper business card like you still have to go and send the email or go and do something. A video business card, they can click and send a video right back. They can send an audio message back. They can send text back. And so it's a really nice like container and delivery mechanism for a person rather than a piece of paper.

Ken White

What do you think about the future of email and the way we're communicating? Do you see video? What do you think about it? Yeah. Where do you see it going?

David Jay

Well, I think we're on, you know, maybe a thousand-year shift, certainly a six hundred year shift in the way people communicate. You know, six hundred years ago is when the printing press came out, and the printing press was this revolutionary thing because it was one of the first things in the world that scaled. And so we all became obsessed, humans became obsessed with the written word because it was the first thing in the world that you could do one time and replicate a million times. And so, for the past six hundred years, almost all of our communication has been geared towards text or written communication. Right. And you've got Post-it notes. You've got text messages. You've got emails. You have spiral notebooks, leather-bound notebooks, bound books. We have so many ways to communicate with text-based communication. But the problem is the text-based communication is a terrible way for humans to communicate. I mean, look at Facebook, look at Twitter, like are these environments that people are leaving happier and better? No, they're terrible.

Ken White

Yeah.

David Jay

And it's you know, you say something, you type something, I should say. And people read it in a negative slant. Right. Almost all written communication is read and judged in a negative state, whereas video is the opposite. And so, in the last 10 or 20 years, we've had the Internet and video come together and create the opportunity for a much better way for humans to communicate at scale than we've ever had in human history. And so it's a it's an exciting time, and there's going to be a million iterations of it. And so

Ken White

Right.

David Jay

that's why we're not a competitive company or Blue Ocean Company because there's going to be a million services just like cars. And that's great because it makes the world better. Like when people start communicating as humans again, the world a better place. That's, you know, sounds cliched, and I'm sorry for that. But it's true.

Ken White

No, and I get it. And as one who loves video and loves audio, this is exciting to me that hopefully, we're going this way. But one of the things I've learned when many executives reach out to me or many of our students and say, I don't like Zoom, I don't, I don't like teams, I don't want to see myself. I'm so uncomfortable on video. What do you say to the professional who feels that way but probably knows they should be embracing video?

David Jay

Yeah. So, again, it's kind of a tactical question, right? And they're thinking about the technique. They're thinking about the medium that they're communicating in. And it is a little bit different. And I think the video communication is young, right? It's in its teens. It's a teenager's awkward. It's uncomfortable. Right. But over time, it's going to mature. And some of the things that I think we're changing already is seeing our self on video, like the tendency when there's a video up on the screen is to look at our self.

Ken White

Right. Absolutely.

David Jay

Right. When we're talking to somebody at a coffee shop like we don't hold a mirror up and look in the mirror the whole time. Right. And so when we're communicating one, we should get ourselves off the screen, first of all, like, we don't need to see ourselves. But the second thing is the entire goal or the hope in a conversation is that we're adding some sort of value or contributing something to the other person. And when that's our focus, it gets off of our self. How do I look? How do I sound? Like all these self things that are terrible, like but that's not what we want to think about, as we're in a relationship with somebody, we want to be thinking about the other person. And so the technical, tactical things of get your own video off the screen, stop looking about yourself, stop thinking about yourself, start thinking about how to add value to the other person. And when you do that, you're able to get beyond some of those insecurities that we have.

Ken White

That's our conversation with David Jay. And that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Businesses and organizations are seeking professionals to lead in the post-COVID world. 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. Check us out online to learn more. Finally, we'd like 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 David Jay, CEO of Warm Welcome, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

More Podcast Episodes

 Jen Lee
Jen LeeEpisode 145: January 1, 2021
Managing Your Finances in 2021

Jen Lee

Episode 145: January 1, 2021

Managing Your Finances in 2021

There's no doubt the pandemic has had a significant economic impact on the people of the United States, and the world. Since March, many individuals and families have experienced a reduction in employment, and a loss of income. People of all ages have been affected. The news isn't all bad, though. For example, in the second quarter of 2020 credit card balances in the U.S. declined considerably. The percentage of delinquent loans also declined in most consumer debt markets. And while you can't dictate what the financial picture will look like in the new year, you can be a good steward of your money by embracing quality personal finance principles. Jen Lee is an attorney who helps her clients with debt and credit strategy. She joins us today with tips for everyone - from the young professional, to the retiree, to everyone in-between. She'll fill us in on savings, 401(k)s, managing debt, and the elephant in the room.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How did Jen get into debt and credit strategy
  • What advice does Jen have for younger people regarding money and savings
  • Why should on start a 401(k) as early as possible
  • The importance of having a budget
  • How should one handle serious debt
  • What does Jen consider the "elephant in the room"
  • How can one tell what financial services are a scam and which ones are legitimate
  • How do you improve your credit score
  • How much of a percentage of one's income should they spend on housing
  • Why should someone get life insurance
  • When should one use a financial wellness program
Transcript

Jen Lee: Managing Your Finances in 2021 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. Well, there's no doubt the pandemic has had a significant economic impact on the people of the United States and the world. Since March, many individuals and families have experienced a reduction in employment and a loss of income. People of all ages have been affected. The news isn't all bad, though. For example, in the second quarter of twenty-twenty, credit card balances in the U.S. declined considerably. The percentage of delinquent loans also declined in most consumer debt markets. And while you can't dictate what the financial picture will look like in the New Year, you can be a good steward of your money by embracing quality personal finance principles. Jen Lee is an attorney who helps her clients with debt and credit strategy. She joins us on the podcast today with tips for everyone from the young professional to the retiree to everyone in between. She'll fill us in on savings, 401k's, managing debt, and the elephant in the room. Here's our conversation with Jen Lee of Jen Lee Law.

Ken White

Jen, thanks so very much for joining us and sharing your time and your expertise with us. Nice to see you.

Jen Lee

Nice to see you, too, Ken. Thanks for having me.

Ken White

Debt and credit strategy. How did you get into that? How did you choose this?

Jen Lee

So debt and credit strategy came about because I started out in the legal world as a bankruptcy attorney. And as I was talking to people, I was realizing that people need help way before they get to bankruptcy. And there were so many people that I could help avoid bankruptcy if they understood how debt and credit actually works in the real world. So then I made up a totally new name for it. And we call it debt and credit strategy instead of bankruptcy, which sounds so much more soft and cuddly.

Ken White

Yeah, it does. It sounds quite human, doesn't it?

Jen Lee

Yes.

Ken White

You know, we normally think I normally think when it comes to personal finance of younger people, and as we talk, we'll find out that's not the case. But why don't we start there? When you think of younger people, maybe they're in their first job. They're just sort of starting their new career. What kind of advice do you have for them regarding their money and savings?

Jen Lee

So if I were going back to when I was twenty-two and my first job, what I would tell myself is if you have student loans, have a plan for them, whether you're on a forgiveness track or you are on some type of payment plan, have a plan for them, because so many people get 10, 15 years down the road and find out that they could have gotten portions forgiven or they could have done something. And now the balance has grown. So my first piece of advice is always have a plan for your student loans and try to pay them off if you can. Don't jump into the forgiveness if you don't have to. And the second piece of advice is start a 401k or a retirement the day that you start your first job. So they are always saving for retirement cause compound interest when you're that young, it makes great returns in the future.

Ken White

I remember being that age and saying I can't afford to save for retirement. I'll do that later. That's the kiss of death, isn't it?

Jen Lee

Yes.

Ken White

How do you convince somebody? How do you say it's so worth it to do this? Any amount, right?

Jen Lee

Any amount. It can be 50 dollars; it could be one hundred dollars at one percent. And if your employer matches, you should always contribute up to your employer match. But having a budget, and that's another go-to piece of advice too, is having a budget so that you can work out where that money can come from each month. It's really important to have a plan. So I think if you have the plan for the student loan and you have a plan for your budget and a plan for retirement, some of those I can't afford its become possible. So but even a small amount, as little as possible, but just put something into retirement so that it's always growing for you and don't take it out when you switch jobs, don't take it out.

Ken White

It is amazing. It is truly amazing how it grows as it's magic. 2020 has been rough, and many people, as we know, that seem to have their bills are larger than their paychecks. Many people facing that right now. What kind of advice do you have for them?

Jen Lee

So when COVID first hit back in March, and all the shutdowns started, depending on where you're at in the country, it started earlier than others. I did daily webinars, and I told people you should write down all of your bills, all of your debts and see what your status is first and then make phone calls and communicate. So if you can't pay your credit cards because your paycheck has shrunk, your laid-off call and communicate with your lenders, with your creditors, because a lot of the CARES Act rules and things that they're allowed to do, they have to know that you're affected by COVID. And so my first step is for everyone write down what you have and what has to be paid to keep your four walls and your food going, necessary things, and then figure out from there what you can pay and what you can't pay. At some point, it becomes you have to do larger triage. But at the beginning, just make sure you write everything down so that you know what you have to pay and what you should pay versus what can wait and what you can negotiate on.

Ken White

And when someone does contact, say, a credit card company, is there a way to possibly negotiate what's owed or the or the interest?

Jen Lee

There are. So most of the time with COVID, it's they're just putting you into a forbearance. They may be freezing your interest. They may not be, but they're usually putting in a forbearance. You can often negotiate the interest rates down to zero or one percent or something very low, but they'll usually cut your credit line so that you won't have access to that credit line anymore. So you have to be a little careful with that. But yes, there are ways to negotiate and come up with payment plans so that they're not reporting you late on your credit or so that you're not getting sent to collection in the middle of this whole pandemic.

Ken White

What about those in serious debt? I mean, it's looking bad, and the money's not coming in. What do you advise them to do?

Jen Lee

Talk to someone who could let you know what your options are there people who come to me for bankruptcy or come to you with serious debt? We're looking to see is there a way to budget out? Is there a way to consolidate? Is their debt settlement? Is that an option that we should look at? And then start looking at bankruptcy options. What I find with bankruptcy and this is the B I call it the B-word because. People are so scared of it. They think that the world's going to end. Is that almost every misconception people have about bankruptcy is what I hear as I can't do that. And so at least have someone explain to you what your future looks like and how to use legal options as tools versus thinking that it's the end of the world. Some of it's mindset. There's a lot of mindset issues.

Ken White

Yeah, well, it's funny when you say bankruptcy. It makes me think of what you call the elephant in the room, which is clever. Please share that with us. What is that?

Jen Lee

Sure. So as I was starting out talking to people, we talked about debt and credit strategy. I found that the elephant in the room was that more than 70 percent of Americans have a debt or credit problem of some sort. And that was before COVID. And we all go on to Facebook, and we talk to our friends. And no one talks about this elephant in the room that we all have these debt and credit problems. So you think you're alone? It's very isolating, and it makes you think feel like you're almost an idiot because you can't figure these things out. When everyone around you is flopping around the same elephants that are around. And so I tell people all the time, it's very savvy for you to find out what your options are before it gets to the point of no return. And you'd be really surprised at the number of people around you who have the exact same debt issues that you do.

Ken White

It may explain all of the people, all of the mail landing in people's mailboxes right now, all this stuff for new mortgage rates, and so forth. You know, that's a lot to handle. How do you determine what's legitimate, what's not, what you should pursue, and what maybe you shouldn't?

Jen Lee

So that's a really good question because I deal every day with the scams, and what things aren't always great options. Mortgage refinancing is huge right now because of the interest rates being so low. That's unprecedented how low they are. And if anyone who grew up in the 80s and 90s remember what interest rates were like, it's a very different world these days.

Ken White

Yeah.

Jen Lee

So mortgage refinancing, most of those offers, generally you can reach out to the company and get things underwritten, find out what it looks like. I don't worry as much about mortgage refinancing offers unless they're offering something really shady like fifty thousand dollars and closing costs or something crazy. The scammy ones tend to be the debt consolidation, and debt settlement offers that you get. And those are the ones that come in the mail. And they'll say you can resolve all your debt for five hundred dollars a month for forty-eight months. Give us a call. And when you call into those places, usually you don't qualify for consolidation because, by the time you get to the point where you have enough debt, where you would need to consolidate, your credit score has suffered, and you don't qualify for consolidation loans. So they pass you on to their debt settlement company, and then they start talking you through this great program that they have that they can settle all your debts, four years of payments, and then you'll be debt-free. And it doesn't that sound great? Well, they don't tell you that your credit score does worse under debt settlement than it does under bankruptcy. First of all, it will destroy your credit. They don't tell you that you'll get sued in most states if you do debt settlement because the debts don't stop. They just try to sell them all, and they don't give you all the downsides of them. So I always tell people, if you're calling in for a free consultation and it's not a nonprofit consumer credit type organization, they're going to be selling you something, and likely you are the product at that point. So that's how I tell people to watch out for scams is. If you're calling in for a free consultation for something that sounds too good to be true, find out what the downsides are.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Jen Lee of Jen Lee Law in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. The post COVID world will require new skills and new approaches. Those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different formats, including the full-time, the evening, the online, and the executive. All taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty, the William & Mary MBA, will prepare you to succeed in our post COVID world. Check out the MBA programs at William & Mary today. Now back to our conversation with Jen Lee of Jen Lee Law

Ken White

You mentioned credit score a couple of times. How does how do people go on improving their credit score?

Jen Lee

So credit scores are there difficult because you can have three hundred credit scores at any given time? Depends on who's running it, what bureau it's through, different types of scoring for mortgage or cars. So your credit score can be vastly different. Even the same day of the year, credit score, repair, or credit repair is a very scammy industry. I refer to it as credit rebuilding. So if you need to rebuild your credit, first of all, you should run your credit and find out what's on there because a lot of people are scared to run their credit and dispute things that are incorrect. Also, making sure that your balances are lower than about 30 percent of your limit is one of the biggest reasons people's credit scores are low. So if you have a card that's maxed out, that will significantly impact your credit score. So credit scores are one of those things that's a mystery out there. No one releases exactly what goes on, but your balances and making payments on time are the two top things that you can do to improve your score.

Ken White

You know, we hear a lot of especially 20 somethings moving back home with parents, can't afford rent, can't afford to buy what's a good percentage of income that you should be spending on housing? Is there a limit you like?

Jen Lee

So this goes all over the place. I've seen recommendations. And if you do the mortgage underwriting, they'll sometimes go up to like 40 percent of your your your gross income to housing, which I think is a huge number that shouldn't be used. But I, I like about 20 percent of gross income for housing, and it depends on where you live too. I live in California. I have family in North Dakota. So I see a very big difference in cost of living.

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Jen Lee

And I do see people in especially the Bay Area of California, Los Angeles, where housing is more than that percentage. But that's just about a factor of the cost of living of the area. But I would say about 20 percent of gross income is what I feel comfortable at.

Ken White

What do you tell people about life insurance in these times? More important than it was pre-COVID, less important?

Jen Lee

I think it's more important. I always think life insurance is important. My background before law school was in life insurance underwriting. And so I find that a lot of my clients that I get for bankruptcy would have benefited if the person that they loved who passed away had life insurance. So I think life insurance is very important. We also don't know what COVID is going to do to insurability if they're going to be long term effects if it's going to cost people to be uninsurable. So I think everyone should have some type of life insurance. The amount varies greatly depending on what you need to protect and what you have for family and that kind of thing. I think it's good for everyone.

Ken White

What are you advising people of all ages in terms of their personal vehicles, rent, lease, buy, cash, payments? What do you think?

Jen Lee

I have a really good lawyer answer. It depends.

Ken White

Of course.

Jen Lee

Cash cars, if you can buy a cash car, that's usually the most economical thing that the first thing that personal finance people will tell you. I'm a little bit more flexible on that. I think if you get a good deal to buy something newer and is going to last for a while and have a low-interest rate, then buying as reasonable. Leasing, if you're a business owner, there are all kinds of things you can do with car leases. So I'm not opposed. I am not a you can never lease a car because it doesn't make sense to rent a vehicle, or you should always buy a cash car. But please watch the amount of money that you're spending each month on a car payment because I've seen some pretty ridiculous car payments that were more than rent. So I would tend to error on the make sure it fits your budget more than buying, leasing, cash, loan that kind of thing.

Ken White

Yeah. As as we head into this, this New Year, what kind of overall advice do you have for not just your clients and our listeners, but for everyone when it comes to their personal finances moving forward in this new year?

Jen Lee

I would say for personal finance goals for anyone is know what you have, know what's in your portfolio of debt and what's in your portfolio of assets. It's scary to look at, and I find I do a lot of debt therapy when we're talking through, trying to figure out what exactly you have and what your plan is for it. It's really easy to put it off to the side and say, I don't want to look at that. I don't want to touch that. I don't want to think about it because it hurts. And so, some good personal finance goals are just to sit down and have a plan. You have to find something that works with you and your family. Some couples are really good about talking about finances. I would say 70 percent of couples are not good at talking about finances. And so you have to find something, a system that works for you and use that system. Don't just let it go off to the wayside. Ignoring the problem is probably what contributes to the most stress. The other thing I'm seeing a lot of is employers, those financial wellness programs. Financial wellness is great. If your already in a good financial place. It's a proactive step to take is financial wellness. Most of the time, I see people who don't benefit for financial wellness programs because they can't even get to a place where knowing how to budget and knowing what their 401K options are are steps they can even take. So I find that financial wellness programs are missing the mark needed.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Jen Lee, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Businesses and organizations are seeking professionals who think strategically, communicate effectively, and manage ambiguity. You'll learn those skills and more in the William & Mary MBA program. Offered in four formats, the full-time, the evening, the online, and the executive. Finally, we'd like 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 Jen Lee, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White, wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

More Podcast Episodes

 Phillip Sun
Phillip SunEpisode 144: December 17, 2020
Changing the Face of Hollywood

Phillip Sun

Episode 144: December 17, 2020

Changing the Face of Hollywood

If you like television and movies, you're familiar with Michael B. Jordan, Donald Glover, Taraji P. Henson, and Idris Elba. They're among the biggest actors in the business. They're also people of color who are represented by a new management firm called M88 - an organization that represents actors, directors, writers, and producers of color, and focuses on inclusive storytelling. One of the two men who created M88 is Phillip Sun, a William & Mary graduate who - after earning his Bachelor's Degree in International Relations - went to Los Angeles. He started as a gofer on a movie set, then got a job in the mail room at the William Morris Agency where he later become a talent agent, and eventually the company's first Asian American male partner. Now he's changing the face of Hollywood by approaching diversity, inclusion, culture, and storytelling in a new way. He joins us today to discuss his journey from William & Mary student to popular culture influencer.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • How did Phillip get his start on a Hollywood set
  • Why did Phillip get a job at William Morris
  • What are the responsibilities of a Hollywood agent
  • How is an agent like a CEO
  • Why did Phillip start M88
  • What was the industry reaction to M88
  • Where does Phillip feel his role in pop culture is
  • How is M88 an innovative representation firm
Transcript

Phillip Sun - Changing the face of Hollywood 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. If you like television and movies, you're familiar with Michael B. Jordan, Donald Glover, Taraji P. Henson, and Idris Elba. They're among the biggest actors in the business. They're also people of color who are represented by a new management firm called M88, an organization that represents actors, directors, writers, and producers of color and focuses on inclusive storytelling. One of the two men who created M88 is Phillip Sun, a William & Mary graduate, who, after earning his bachelor's degree in international relations, went to Los Angeles. He started as a gofer on a movie set, then got a job in the mailroom at the William Morris Agency, where he later became a talent agent and eventually the company's first Asian-American male partner. Now he's changing the face of Hollywood by approaching diversity, inclusion, culture, and storytelling in a new way. He joins us today to discuss his journey from William & Mary student to popular culture influencer. Here's our conversation with Phillip Sun of M88.

Ken White

Phillip, it's great to see you. Thanks for sharing your time with us today. How are you?

Phillip Sun

I'm doing well. Thanks for having me. This is a this full circle for me to come back to a William & Mary podcast. So I

Ken White

No doubt. That's great. Thank you. Yeah. We're recording in December. You and I were just talking about the weather in Los Angeles versus the weather in Williamsburg. So a little bit different. Of course.

Phillip Sun

About 40 degrees different.

Ken White

Yeah.

Phillip Sun

Yeah, a little bit.

Ken White

So what an interesting story. You're this international relations major from William & Mary. And so many I.R. majors go up to Washington, D.C., Capitol Hill and make their mark. You turned left and ended up on the West Coast in the entertainment industry. How did what was the first step? What was that first job you had that got you on that path?

Phillip Sun

It is a sharp left. The plan was to go to D.C. Senator Dick Lugar was a fraternity brother. So a lot of the Betas had opportunities to go up to D.C. just through our education, but also connections. So the trip to California was really just to scratch an itch that I had about L.A. It always been intrigued by celebrity and film and television content. So when I got the chance to work as a P.A., which is a production assistant on my brother's film that he was co-financing, I just jumped at the opportunity. And of course, it was for my brother, so I worked for free, but I learned the ins and outs of being on set, and as Hollywood works, it's just I met the star of the film, Parker Posey, who's a wonderful actress. The Christopher Guest movies were was her claim to fame. But I worked for her. I was a P.A., and then I got her coffee order, and then I got her the same coffee order the next day. I remembered her order, and she was like, Oh, my God, you remembered like, I can't believe I want you to be my assistant. Like, it's a coffee order. Like I went to William & Mary. I promise you; I'm educated. It's not that hard. But then I was I became I, I got promoted and became her assistant. And then as it kind of works in this world, it's just it's who you meet and then who they know. So before I was going to head home, she asked me to work for Kerry Barden, who was in casting then. So I worked for him. He asked me to work for Hans Canosa, who was a director and was a director's assistant. Then I went back to casting for Kerry Barden. And I got to meet Spielberg in that sense or in that in that job. And then before I left to head back, they all agreed that I should try the agencies because it's kind of like lobbying, right? It's like

Ken White

Hmm-mmm.

Phillip Sun

You gotta be good at salesmanship. And the skill set is very similar, actually. So why not? I'm here. Right. So I interviewed at all the mailroom positions, luckily I got offers from all of them and then my Chinese immigrant family, my parents wouldn't let me stay unless they could read about the institution. So I ended up at William Morris Agency, which is the most historic agency of all of them because they could read about the mailroom and people who had become

Ken White

Sure.

Phillip Sun

successful from it and all the things that that Chinese parents need. And also, well, my brother and I sold it as the Harvard of agencies. So Harvard has a certain ring to it. And my brother went there, so I landed there and then I started to move my way up from the mailroom.

Ken White

So what was it early on in your career that made you say, this is where I'm supposed to be? This really lights my fire.

Phillip Sun

Not much. I think it was more of this is so interesting and different compared to Virginia. And I wasn't economically able to travel abroad and enjoy, you know, traveling after college. I had to get to work. So this was an experience for me. It was just like, oh, let's see how far I can take it. Oh, definitely a little bit of the Southern kind of competitiveness. Frat boy competitiveness came out, and it was like, look, I'm going to swing for the fences here and see what a southern Virginia kid can do here. And then also the William & Mary kind of background. It's just like we get to learn so many different things at a liberal arts school, like, you kind of just have to move and learn quickly, which you were taught to do at the college. So it kind of worked in my favor.

Ken White

So you were an agent. What did that entail? What kind of work was that?

Phillip Sun

Yeah, I was an agent after I trained for like three years. So the work of an agent is purely to represent your client and build out their brand. Right. So reading scripts, putting together lists of directors, producers, people that they should be working with, strategizing alongside them and senior agents about how do you take someone from T.V. show or small movie and build them to the grand stage, if you will. So that is the job in a nutshell, like a very, very, like quick overview. You know, that job evolved also into what I like to say is like a CEO position. Right? You get to be the CEO of a lot of businesses. That resonated with me more because I was still learning the arts very quickly. I didn't grow up watching movies and television. Like the kids in L.A. did. We were raised differently. And we at the college, you didn't really learn about fine arts and such unless you took classes on it. So kind of just I knew I could learn business because of the classes I had taken at the college. Right. So I was like, okay, this is economics. This is these are these things. That's how I'm divvying it up in my head. But the CEO position made more sense to me because it was like, okay, cool. So you get to partner with x movie star. How are you going to build the business? It's not just arts. It's obviously the fuel. But like, there's how do you brand them? How do you get into Silicon Valley? How do you get into investments? How do you get in like kind of bringing it back to my strength and skill set? But that's kind of how my job has evolved.

Ken White

And then the job to M88. How did it happen? How did you get there?

Phillip Sun

That was a lot. I mean, it was, you know, I loved the agency that I was working at. But I think with the birth of my son, which was last December, which is crazy, it's almost been a year and then COVID where everything just stopped. Like I was, I could take a second to breathe, and no business was happening. Right, like the world shut down.

Ken White

Yes.

Phillip Sun

And I think for the first time in 15 years, the perspective of being a new father, plus the perspective of given to me of through time to think right. And then the unfortunate tragedy of George Floyd, kind of what I had built my career on, which is fighting for people of color, voices of color, voices from underrepresented communities. It just kind of was a calling of I think I've done everything I can do at the Agency for Diversity and Inclusion, meaning that no matter what I did there, you know, diversity would be a program or an afterthought or a reaction. It was just a constant push. Right, because you're kind of going up against the grain of any corporation. It's like not built on diversity and inclusion. It's just not anything built. Less or more than five years ago, probably isn't built on it.

Ken White

Right.

Phillip Sun

So wanted to take my skillset and build a management firm, a representation firm. Partner up with my mentor, Charles King, who had started Macro, which is a production company studio that pushes out multicultural content as well, start the representation arm and like he had started a smaller version of it, but kind of supercharge it if you will and push out the mission of making sure that the world sees the content of the global majority told by the global majority and making sure that the representation reflects what they want out of the industry. And the opportunity just seemed to be perfect. And quite frankly, because of the Zoom world, a part of the reason I was staying at the agency is like I have so many good friends there, but like when you don't see them day to day, right, the emotional connection of people dissipates. And so you just start making decisions based on business.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Phillip Sun of M88 in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. The post-COVID world will require new skills and new approaches. Those skills and approaches are taught in the William & Mary MBA program. We offer four different formats, including the full-time, the evening, the online, and the executive, all taught by our top-ranked MBA faculty. 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 with Phillip Sun of M88.

Ken White

What was the reaction of folks in the industry, whether it's studios, production houses, actors, writers, what was the reaction?

Phillip Sun

I think we were received very well. I think there is a strong appetite for the systems that have been established to change. I think it's just a unique opportunity where minorities in representation aren't really a thing until recently. Right. Like our parents or our immigrant parents were like, go be a doctor, go be an attorney, go be something stable. That can give you a good, stable economic life and minimal risk. Arts is not that. Right. So but there is more minorities are like, okay, there is a business in the arts. Right. There is something that we can find there. And I think my generation is the first generation where you see more people coming through. And I was just oddly situated to be senior enough and blessed enough to have a client base that was strong enough to start this venture with Charles. And it was received so well because I think two-fold one. The minority community obviously is cheering for it, right? They want something fresh. They want a minority-owned business minority-led business to be successful because it represents them. Right. It gave them kind of like a new home if you will. I think the again, the industry, the studios, the production companies, which are predominantly led by older white men, some of them want help and need help and need kind of like a go-to right. Like so, it's kind of simplifying it for people. Like you can come here like, you know the client, you know me, you know Charles, you know the people there. And then there are some people who I'm sure are cheering for it in publicly and not cheering for from behind because it's, you know, it's a tricky subject matter.

Ken White

Yeah.

Phillip Sun

But overall received very well.

Ken White

I mean, you're influencing popular culture. I mean, that's how a lot of people learn about diversity.

Phillip Sun

My clients are influencing popular culture. I am just trying to help.

Ken White

You're assisting them. That's really that's really something. I mean, that's an influence on people that can really touch everyone. Have you thought much about that?

Phillip Sun

I did. I did. When I was coming up about what the opportunity of a representative with a cause could be. Right. Because it's very much like politics, right. When you're lobbying or when you're in D.C., you're pushing for policy. We all know through government and watching television and just knowing how government works, it takes forever to get something through because of the politics. You're actually much more able to send a message in Hollywood. Right, because a lot of the a lot of my clients, everything that they do has some sort of social relevance or message. And they use their strength of their brand to push things forward. Policy forward right. But you're in a very liberal town here. Right. So they're not as much politics to get in the way of it. Right. It's just about can you are you lucky enough to work with the people that have like minded mission aligned with you, and can we influence the world that way? So, again, I thought about it in the way that, like, should I be in D.C. should be here, like, what should I be doing? It's the same skill set, but there's power in both coasts if you will. And that's I just chose my coast.

Ken White

To outsiders, to fans, you know, people who love movies and television and the arts. This sounds extremely innovative. Is it in your field what you're doing? I mean, it's different for sure.

Phillip Sun

I think it's it's different. Well, look, we're the first, I believe we're the first minority black-owned minority-led representation firm. There's certainly no other representation firm led by people that look like us. And our though we're small, we're mighty so far, and we're growing intentionally. But our manager and assistant base is one hundred percent women, people of color. Our client base is majority women, people of color. It will remain so. I think that's the uniqueness in the innovativeness. Right. You're giving a traditional system of representation a new look. And the look is kind of the look of the new global majority. And look, it's we all know about institutions, right. It's like William & Mary. When the culture is set early on, you know what it's going to grow with the business, the college, wherever. We're trying to set the culture early on in the mission early on so that it grows and thrives but will always be the center point. And that's the innovative, I guess, avenue.

Ken White

Yeah. There was something I read in the L.A. Times; one of the actors said that M88 produces great work that has cultural integrity.

Phillip Sun

We try to.

Ken White

What does that mean to you? Yeah.

Phillip Sun

Well, our sister company Macro is actually the one who produces. Right. So they are exactly that. Whether it's fences, whether it's sorry to bother you, whether they are, they're tapped into the culture, and they are very hyper-vigilant about making sure that the stories told are excellent and told by the storytellers that are meant to tell the stories. M88s clients, they certainly are of the same ilk. M88 is a representation firm. Like this is just the industry we watch, right. We we're representatives our clients can produce in our sister company macro produces. But we always everyone knows the rule is like as a person of color. In any industry, you feel like you have to be that much more excellent, right? You have to be that much more perfect. I think we take that challenge on the clients, the representation firm, and also macro. We embrace it, and we rise to the level of it. Knock on wood. We'll continue to do so. But yeah, I take that as a compliment and an expectation. I just want to make sure that the alumni and also the students at William & Mary know that this is an opportunity and like people built like us and from a background, like the students, we need you out here, all right? Like if you ever think that this is not available to you, that's wrong. Cord Jefferson and I are of the same class. Cord just won an Emmy. I just started a management firm. We're both from William & Mary. So it's like it's there's something about the school and how we're taught that works. So certainly, if we can send the message to the students that we're open for the college's business on this side, just reach out to me.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Phillip Sun of M88, and that's it for this episode of Leadership & Business. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary School of Business. Businesses and organizations are seeking professionals to lead in the post-COVID world 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. Check us out online to learn more. Finally, we'd like 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, Phillip Sun, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White, wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

More Podcast Episodes

 Kim Foley
Kim FoleyEpisode 143: December 8, 2020
Communicating Effectively in Virtual Meetings

Kim Foley

Episode 143: December 8, 2020

Communicating Effectively in Virtual Meetings

Since the start of the pandemic, our workdays have changed. We're working longer, and attending more meetings. Look at your calendar, you're likely to see a never-ending list of meetings. And most of those meetings are taking place virtually: On Zoom, Teams, WebEx, Skype, and other vehicles. That virtual world requires a particular set of skills. Communicating on camera is different than doing so in a face-to-face environment. If you communicate poorly on video, your brand, credibility, and reputation can be adversely affected. If you embrace video communication, your leadership, presence, and influence can improve. Kim Foley is a communication consultant. She works with Fortune 500 companies and professionals from a variety of sectors helping them communicate more effectively on video. She's the author of "Virtual Meetings with Power and Presence: The Ultimate Guide to Online Meetings." She joins us today to discuss how you can communicate effectively in your virtual meetings.

Podcast (audio)

Podcast (platforms)

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | Spotify

Show Notes and Transcript
Show Notes
  • What are common mistakes people make on video calls
  • Where should one place their laptop while on a video call
  • How important is a good internet connection while on a virtual meeting
  • Where should one look while on a Zoom meeting
  • Why should a professional invest in a good microphone
  • What should you do if you have kids and need to attend a virtual meeting
  • What are the disadvantages of using a virtual background
  • What makes for a distracting background
  • Why should one stand during virtual meetings
Transcript

Kim Foley: Communicating Effectively in Virtual Meetings 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. Well, since the start of the pandemic, our workdays have changed. We're working longer and attending more meetings. Look at your calendar. You're likely to see a never-ending list of meetings. And most of those meetings are taking place virtually on Zoom, Teams, WebEx, Skype, and other vehicles. Well, that virtual world requires a particular set of skills. Communicating on camera is different than doing so in a face to face environment. If you communicate poorly on video, your brand, credibility, and reputation can be adversely affected. If you embrace video communication, your leadership, presence, and influence can improve. Kim Foley is a communication consultant. She works with Fortune 500 companies and professionals from a variety of sectors, helping them communicate more effectively on video. She's the author of Virtual Meetings with Power and Presence: The Ultimate Guide to Online Meetings. She joins us today to discuss how you can communicate effectively in your virtual meetings. Here's our conversation with Kim Foley.

Ken White

Kim, thanks so much for sharing your time and your expertise with us. I'm so excited to talk with you. Thanks for being here.

Kim Foley

Oh, I'm so happy to be here.

Ken White

Tell us what you do. You have an interesting job, interesting background. What what are your days like, and what do you do?

Kim Foley

Well, since April, my life has really changed because I pivoted from video production to and media training to teaching people how to do better Zoom meetings. And no matter what platform you're using, we all struggle with the same issues. And believe me, I had never done a Zoom meeting before April. And so, of course, I'd done plenty of face-time meetings, which is really the same thing. But I had to learn the platforms. And so it became very clear to me very quickly that I could no longer train people in my studio, and I had to start doing everything virtually. And the very first time I opened my computer to do this, I realized that the angles too low because my computer's down here and, you know, the shadows were terrible. And I immediately went into video production mode and started fixing things. And in ten minutes, I had something great going on on the screen. But I realized at that moment that other people are probably having a lot of the same issues, except they didn't know the solutions, right.

Ken White

You got it. You got it.  People like you and I who've lived in the video world; we get it, but most people have not lived there. So, yeah, it's a whole new thing. So what are some of the common mistakes you're seeing where people are literally sabotaging their credibility because of things they're doing on Zoom?

Kim Foley

It's just unbelievable. You know, the whole point of this is to make sure that you simulate sitting across the table, having a conversation at a conference, at a meeting, whether it's in person, you want to simulate that. And the only way you can do that is by getting about five or six things right. And so the main things that I see people doing incorrectly are, first of all, they'll open up their computer while it's sitting down low around their waist, and all we see is their chin. We see the ceiling, we'll see the ceiling fan, we'll see recessed lights, whatever. But we're not seeing them eye to eye where it looks like we're really sitting across the table from someone. And so one of the first things I always say to people is figure out a way, whether it's a bunch of Amazon boxes you taped together, it doesn't matter. Get that computer or that tablet or that phone up to eye level. And I don't mean kind of eye level; I mean really eye level. And when you do that, it makes such a difference. And so that's the very first thing I would get people to do. But in my book, what I talk about, the first chapter is getting that Internet connection right. Because let's face it, if you get your framing in your audio and your lighting and everything just right, but you have really poor Internet connection, what's going to happen is you're going to have odd audio. It's going to sound very electronic. It may even cut off altogether. You're going to have freezing, and it ruins the meeting. So any time you have a lot of stalling, sometimes people are kicked completely off the platform because of Internet. So I go into how to maximize your Internet connection, how to reboot your router, and how to close out all your apps and make sure that your bandwidth is really supporting what you're doing, especially if you have an important presentation or meeting. You know, if you're a leader in your organization, you definitely don't want to be the one that's cutting out. You want to be the one setting the example right.

Ken White

Yeah.

Kim Foley

So we got to get that right. So then get that framing perfect so that you're really, truly eye level and then step back a foot, because if you're right up close next to your computer and a lot of people do that because they're having trouble seeing the screen, don't worry about seeing the screen. Where you should be looking is in the eye of the camera, not at the other people on the screen or at yourself. And we're hardwired to do that, as you know, to look at faces. So it's very hard for people to keep that eye contact with that camera because it's a tiny little thing. So there's tricks for that. There's tricks to helping you remember that put a little Post-it behind there and make it very obvious so that your eye is drawn to that space and keep your eyes there if you're doing the talking. So there's a lot of body language that's involved in this. But if you step back, like I see that you are in my meeting here and I'm stepped back, we can actually use our full body language to support our message. We can move our head or shoulders. We can move or shift our weight. We can; it's really fantastic to get more of a chest-up shot going than a shoulder-up shot. And so you've got to back up to do that. And that's when it really looks good. Now, if you are doing that, the other problem is you need to make sure you're using a microphone because the mic in the computer is it's going to be too far away from you to really pick up beautiful sound. So I want you to think about what type of microphone. I use a lavalier microphone that's USB connected into the computer. It's very inexpensive; got it on Amazon. It works great. And it's a very simple thing to do so that you get rich, beautiful sound. So these are, you know, some of the tips that I work on with people. And then, of course, lighting, if you're if you've got overhead lighting, which most people have, you have deep, dark shadows. You may have darkness in the background, and it looks foreboding, sort of like a creepy horror movie. You can't quite see what's back there. We don't want that. We want to make sure that you're lit properly and that your background is lit properly as well. Shouldn't be brighter than you. For instance, I know you've seen people set themselves up or the windows behind them right.

Ken White

Yeah, backlighting.

Kim Foley

Backlighting it's the worst. So they're in darkness, but the background is very bright, and that does not work for people. So, you know, it's important for people to understand the elements. It's not hard to do. And once you get that set up properly one time, you just repeat it so that it's not difficult to take in all the stress out of it by understanding exactly what you need to be doing. And then there's no more anxiety.

Ken White

What I often tell our students is watch the news, watch how anchors communicate right. They're in the box that they got it. They're eye level, and so forth. And I love you said the Post-it note. I have so many colleagues who have those little arrow Post-it notes that they put on each side of the camera

Kim Foley

Yeah.

Ken White

and their computer so that they do, in fact, look at the camera.

Kim Foley

Yeah, and remind you.

Ken White

We'll continue our discussion with Kim Foley in just a minute. Our podcast is brought to you by the William & Mary's 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. The William & Mary MBA will prepare you to succeed in our post covid world. Check out the MBA programs at William & Mary today. Now back to our conversation on communicating effectively in virtual meetings with Kim Foley.

Ken White

We're on Zoom or whatever, whatever vehicle all day long, and questions I get are from people saying I'm busy at home, I have kids at home, there's so much going on. What do I do in that meeting? Do I need to appear on camera? Is it appropriate for me to put my photo up there? I know what I say to folks, but what's your advice? If somebody's got an environment where they're a little nervous that something could go wrong in the middle of a meeting?

Kim Foley

Well, I think this is the time to start thinking about where in your house can you have some privacy? I have a client in a very, very large organization who's very high up, and she had to address forty thousand people in a video. And she was calling me in a panic because she has four children. And I said, okay, what we're going to do is we're going to get if you don't have a lock on the door, and she did not. I said, you're going to put a chair at the door and a sign on the door that you will be make sure that there's someone tending to them, and then you're going to make sure that they know you will be out in an hour so that they know you're coming and so they won't keep banging on the door and get that person to wrangle them for that hour because she had to do this out of her bedroom because there literally was no other place for her to do it. So it's a very tricky thing having a lot of people in the background. I don't generally recommend virtual backgrounds because people usually key out unless they're using a green screen and they have adequate processor in their computer. And if you do, like I can do beautiful virtual backgrounds because I have the processor that will support it, and I use a green screen. But generally speaking, I prefer not to do that. I like the realism of the real backgrounds. And so I try to encourage people to do that, and then I help them get that right. So did I answer your question?

Ken White

You did, you did. And actually, you brought up another point a background. So many people seem to be worried about backgrounds, not necessarily the lighting, but what is it behind me? Should I go virtual? Your idea of if you've got the technology, go ahead with virtual because it does. It bleeds out, and it doesn't look good. But what if somebody has a room in their house? What should they put in the background? What's the background that's not distracting, for example.

Kim Foley

Well, I'll tell you what is distracting. A window is distracting because it's too bright. Another thing that's distracting is lot of people have a piece of art behind with glass in it. If you've got enough light shining on your face toward you, then it's going to be reflecting off of that painting behind you on the glass. And I've seen it a million times, very distracting. So what you want to do is you want to set this up, look at it and say, well, what things on the screen? People won't know what they are. They'll be trying really hard to figure it out. So if there's little things that sort of capture people's attention with reflection, get them out of the shot, just move them down underneath the table or in a box someplace else. I've had more people move things in their backgrounds and bring in things you might need. You might need some prettier books, or you might need a plant, or you might need to get rid of the like this morning with a lawyer I was consulting with, I said, you've got all those glasses in the background. Let's just get those out of the shot. We don't need twenty-five glasses in the background.

Ken White

Yeah.

Kim Foley

And he just never noticed it because they've always been there. And so it's again, a credibility issue. What are people seeing in your background? It's part of the story about who you are. So you want to make sure it looks thought out, and it looks simple and neutral and nothing that's going to really detract from you. That's the important. You're not trying to show something off here. You're trying to keep the attention on you, and anything else that distracts should be moved.

Ken White

It's interesting that you're standing. Of course, I could see on video our audience can't. I am a stander. I do ninety percent of my meetings standing. That's tough to stand eight hours a day. But do you have a preference in terms of virtual meeting standards?

Kim Foley

I stand eight hours a day. I do.

Ken White

Yeah.

Kim Foley

And I'll tell you why. Two reasons. One, my back's much happier at the end of the day. I truly feel better, more energized at the end of the day if I stand than if I sit. I get much more tired, I don't understand it, but it's true. The other thing is I find that and the research does support this, but when you stand and use your body language, your voice inflection changes. You are actually speaking in different tones than if you're locked down, sitting. And so I find that by being able to use my body language, shift my weight and use my hands, that I'm a better teacher. I really am a better consultant because of it. And so I encourage people to stand when they do this. Again you got to get that computer at eye level, not kind of eye level.

Ken White

Which is actually not very hard to do when you stand, actually. I mean, you get a desk or a filing cabinet. It's actually not very difficult. You mentioned the nonverbal aspects. You're using your hands, you're able to move around, and you briefly mentioned some of the verbal side of things like inflection. How we speak on Zoom is a little different, right? How do you what do you tell clients in terms of their inflection and so forth?

Kim Foley

When you are on a two-dimensional environment, and you're not in person? People don't have an opportunity to see your whole body in action. They're just looking into this little box, and they're trying to focus on your face. And so those micro-expressions are very important. So what people tend to do when they get on video, first of all, number one, people tend to not like the way they look on camera. That's one thing. And when you don't like the way you look on camera, people get kind of closed down. So what they'll do is they'll just sort of stare at the screen, and they won't have any expression at all. And it's different. And so if you're trying to inspire, you're trying to inform, you're trying to sell whatever you're trying to do with someone on that through that screen there, what you want to do is almost over animate because if you do that, it doesn't really translate because it's a two-dimensional vehicle.

Ken White

Yeah.

Kim Foley

So, yeah. So what and I teach is in my media training, when people are doing a lot of video, they need this training to get comfortable with the idea that they can loosen up, use more voice inflection and use their body more because it's actually much more engaging if you're giving a presentation and you're standing up, and you're using your arms. What you don't want to do is use your hands if you are framing yourself shoulder up and the hands come popping in. It's distracting.

Ken White

Mmm-mmm.

Kim Foley

Back up. Make sure your head's to the top of the frame, get a chest-up shot, and then when you use your hands, they're at chest level, and it makes sense. It doesn't distract from what people are seeing. And that's a great way to do a presentation.

Ken White

It is interesting. You said the two dimensional. It does. You have to be a little animated. It does steal a little bit away from your voice and your nonverbal the medium. It's kind of interesting how that happens.

Kim Foley

Yeah, it really is. And that's why when people watch people on the news or actors, they think, oh, I could do that. But then if they're ever put in front of a camera, they freeze up and realize, oh, no, I can't do that. It's really not easy to be all either dramatic or charming or enthused and use body language when you're sitting behind a desk. It's really, really hard, and it takes the skill level and self-awareness. And so if I could just bring some of that to people when they're doing their meetings to inspire their teams or to talk to potential clients and close deals, it's going to make such a difference, in the end, result in terms of building trust. That's what we're trying to do here, is build trust. And so you have to look like the expert that you are. And so many people have ruined that on this medium. They don't mean to. They don't want to, but they don't know the solutions. And that's why I ended up writing the book.

Ken White

Leaders and even managers have got to embrace video today. Forget Zoom, just video in general. That's how we're communicate. This has become an essential skill for leaders.

Kim Foley

It has, as a matter of fact. I even use an app called BombBomb, where I can send video emails to people, and it's not like constant contact app that takes people off the page. It actually, they can just open their email, see my little video, click on it, and hear me have a conversation. And people are blown away that I email them with a video instead of a text. And it's far more powerful. And people say, oh my gosh, and I teach people how to do this because I want them to be able to harness this very, very valuable, very, very powerful platform video. It's just not hard to do. You just need to learn a few skills.

Ken White

That's our conversation with Kim Foley, 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 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 like 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, Kim Foley, and thanks to you for joining us. I'm Ken White, wishing you a safe, happy, and productive week ahead.

More Podcast 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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

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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 until 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)

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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.

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 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.

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 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)

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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.

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