How can we leverage the things that we instinctively suck at? Holly G. Green, CEO and Managing Director of The Human Factor, Inc. focuses on the complexities of why and how humans think and behave the way they do at work. That means aligning everything in the organization so that they’re all in the same race, everyone knows what the targets are, and everybody is moving towards them. One of our deep human tendencies, the thing we’re better at than anything else in the whole world, is to prove ourselves right. And this is not about motivating people with recognition or awards – although that’s certainly all threaded through. This is about real specificity. What is our game? What is the target? Where are we according to that target and how we are going to get there effectively together? The world is changing at such a fast pace that just because it worked five years ago doesn’t guarantee it will work today.
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Holly G. Green Teaches How To Master The Skills Required To Win In Today’s Hyper-Paced World
We’re incredibly fortunate to have Holly G. Green. She’s the CEO and Managing Director of the Human Factor, Inc. She’s also the author of Using Your Brain to Win. Holly, thanks for taking the time to be on the show.
Thank you for having me.
It’s a pleasure. We’re going to explore Holly’s business. Holly, if you would tell us a little bit about your business and who you serve.
I help organizations and that could be for-profit or for-cause organizations versus that non-profit we don’t like. For-profit or for-cause organizations get crystal clear on winning and then get there. That means aligning everything and everyone in the organization so that we’re all in the same race, we know what the targets are and we’re moving towards them each and every single day in every way.
I went on your website and read most of the book. It’s one of those things, how do you eat an elephant because there’s so much of what you do. For the listeners out there that are going like, “This is going to be cool. What is she doing? Am I her likely client?” What does a likely client or prototypical client look like to you?
Any organization that has humans, that’s the number one criteria. That’s the human factor because we do work with and through the brains of adult humans at work. There’s the number one criteria. Any organization that knows they can be better, that may be stretched too thin, departments or teams are not aligned. “We’re working really hard, but we’re not quite accomplishing what we know we should be able to accomplish. We have people pulling in different directions. We need to professionalize or get to the next level of our stage of growth. We’re founder, owned and run and now we need to be able to scale. We’re a large organization and we need to skinny up a little bit.” Or, “We’ve been running along at the same size for a long time and again, we know we can get more out of who we are and what we are and what we’ve got.” It requires for us to be able to help anyone is a desire to be even better. That’s it, adult humans and a desire to be even better.
I think about that as a business owner. I’m going where there are some parts that I’m pretty well comfortable with and in my business. I think for many of the business owners, they don’t even have an idea that maybe they have a hole in their bucket. Hopefully not cashflow tells them when that’s happening. Could you cover a little bit of your background, where you came from and when you started working in this space?
I started out with a BA and BS. I always thought that was a great fit to the corporate world. Mine is Behavioral Sciences though. I went to work for some great companies, went back to school, got a Masters of Science in Organization Development. I went back to work for some more incredible companies. I kept being intrigued by looking around at meetings and seeing someone with a hidden agenda and someone who was doing this and someone who was saying that versus doing this. I’m noticing that we’re just, most days not as incredible as we can be at work for a lot of reasons that are very, very human, but that we ignore. I started on this journey in neurophysiology as my postgraduate work and beginning to understand more about how does the brain work at work. Not the dysfunctional psychological problems that we often have in society and with individuals, but that normal people that we work with day in and day out.
Why and how do they think and behave the way they do at work? How can we leverage some of the things we’re incredible at instinctually and some of the things that instinctually we are not good at. I’m talking about biases and assumptions and perceptions, all of the things that are required for us to function well as a human, but that don’t serve as well in a lot of different ways. This is an exploding field. There’s been some amazing research and work done in this space in the last ten years in particular. I’m beginning to understand that illogical and irrational human. I’ve taken that side, the academic side, the research oriented side, the hardcore neurosciences, and combined it with the experiences that I’ve had working with truly elite performers in numerous sectors; military, musician, Olympics, FBI. People who are unquestionably the best at what they do.
How can we learn from that and apply it effectively in the more traditional workspace? We’re going to spend more time working than anything else we do our entire life. Most of us are not going to be US Navy SEALs. How can I be as great at what I do? That’s where I play. That’s my little sandbox and it’s what I’m passionate about and absolutely love. I always warn people that everything I tell them and everything we work on is subject to change tomorrow. We’re truly in the infancy of understanding the brain. We probably have finally come to realize we know a lot less about it than we ever thought before and we’re constantly having to update and refresh. That’s the space. Their business is throwing off money that it’s successful by all of the traditional financial measures, but it’s miserable. It’s hard to work there. It’s painful. It takes ten times longer to get anything done than you think it should. Turnover is high or people have retired in place. There are all sorts of indicators that we probably could be leveraging the human assets more effectively, and that’s what we help do.
I think about the professional law enforcement and SEALs and so on, and you think about the organizational training and the dedication to that. I’m sure they have highs and lows in their players’ and strengths and weaknesses. How would you characterize the similarity when you go into a corporate arena versus perhaps the military arena on their strengths and weaknesses?
There’s a technique that we use that underlies every single thing we do that we took from not only the military, Olympic athletes, NFL players, anyone who’s truly elite. That’s this notion of focus on a target, crystal clear with specificity on what is the win. What is the win? The fascinating thing at work is that, let’s pretend you’ve got fifteen employees and I could ask that question of all fifteen and probably get a different answer in most organizations. If I asked the Denver Broncos player what it is, I’d get exactly the same answer from all of the players on the team. It’s the Super Bowl. It’s very, very clear. Same thing with United States Navy SEALs. I know what that mission is. I am crystal clear on the objective. Think about Beyoncé, when she takes the stage, she is crystal clear on the experience she wants to create for her audience.
We see this in so many places and we don’t often see it at work. Everybody’s working very hard. People are committed, they’re passionate oftentimes. They have good, good intentions, but oftentimes people at work are running a multitude of races. Step back and if you think about a marathon. The gun goes off at the beginning and then everybody runs in completely different directions. That’s what work looks like to me most days with. It doesn’t matter that there are good intentions, but the clarity and the ongoing communication and the refresh and the design of that clarity and as it bleeds through an entire system. It has to touch every process, every day in every way for everyone that works there as well as a lot of times outside the boundaries of the organization.
You’re a company owner. You go, “I’m proud of what I’ve done. I’m to the point where I can afford to bring Holly in and help me out.” You walk through the door, what process would a potential owner, CEO, president expect when you engage with them?
It depends is the perfect consulting answer, but let me give you a broad swipe at that. We’re going to come in and we’re going to talk to you as the CEO, understand what are your dreams? What is your win? What does it look like to you? I’m going to ask a lot of questions to tease it out of your brain. That is one of the great challenges is most owners, leaders, they know what excellence is, but the ability to articulate it is a challenge. When I say articulate it, I don’t just mean saying things like, “We operate with integrity,” because that clearly didn’t work at Wells Fargo or Enron. The ability to pull that into what will you see when people are doing that. What are the behavioral indicators? What are people doing saying so that that comes to life in very real ways versus the theory.
“We put the nice poster up on the wall in the break room, check. We’re done.” Not so much. How do people know the best possible decisions to make every single day? Right now, your employees are all making decisions. Every single one of them, whether they’re talking to a customer, whether they’re talking to an internal colleague, whether they’re talking to a vendor or supplier. Every day, every one of them moment to moment is making decisions. What criteria are they using to make those decisions? How do they know moment to moment the best possible decisions to make? If I haven’t clarified the target, if I don’t know what the win is, I make it up. We call it MSU. People make stuff up because the brain won’t live with the void of data. It fills in, and most of the time it fills in with a negative.
All of this work comes together and paying close attention and watching what we’re known by the way since the 1950s about the adult human. What drives us and it’s that specificity and the clarity and the brain are instinctual. The thing we’re better at than anything else in the whole world is to prove ourselves right. If I want you in my game, I got to make sure I have set those targets and I have pushed the ‘prove yourself right’ button with you. I want you to work in everyday to achieve. This is not about motivating people with recognition, etc. Although that’s certainly all threaded through. This is about real specificity. What is our game, what is the target, where are we according to that target and how are we all going to get there effectively together?
I’m a data guy and I think about specificity in tracking, and you think about if you’re a larger organization with turnover. It’s the nature of the business you have. How do you take in and continually pass that through to the entire organization so you’ve got the old hands and have it, but maybe they like a plate on the other stick only needed to be spun once every now and again. You got the new employee where he has to be spun or she needs to be spun very frequently. When you look at that process and measurement-wise, who does that in the organization other than the CEO? What would you advise process-wise for these folks to do?
You start out defining the win. Then you pull your team in and you begin to clarify that further with that team that it has to cascade through the organization. Other elements that are important part of that puzzle are understanding, becoming self-aware on our own temperaments and types and preferences, recognizing those types in other people. For instance, if I’m going to give you feedback, I want to help you feel recognized. I need to do it in the way you need it versus the way I want to give it. This starts at the level of define the win, and then everything builds towards achieving that. That’s self-awareness and awareness of others, the ability to give feedback, the ability to track progress, all of the ways of working have to collude to get you to the target.
Folks are going, “I have a problem. I need to talk to Holly.” How do they find you?
Certainly, you can find me on LinkedIn, Holly G. Green. You can visit our website, TheHumanFactor.biz. You can find me on our YouTube channel, Holly G. Green, or More Than a Minute. You could certainly find our books on Amazon. On Twitter, I’m @HollyGGreen, Facebook. We’re out and about talking to a lot of people. I’m always happy to connect with folks and talk about their challenges and provide whatever help we can. You asked me the first steps in the process, we try to be very, very realistic. I work with everyone from Google to pest control and everything you can possibly imagine in between. Companies that are billions and billions in revenue, companies that are small. We’ve got products and services that fit most of those budgetary constraints and are pretty realistic.Start practicing, pausing and visiting your brain to think and focus. Click To Tweet
For instance, my pest control company of 150 people certainly doesn’t get charged the same prices and we don’t do the same process I might with a Google. We have a lot of very scalable, a lot of free tools on our website, in our store. I encourage people to go out, take advantage of those. Most of us have more resources than we realize available at our fingertips today. It’s taken the time to take advantage and I’m happy to share a tool, a process with anyone who feels like they could benefit from that.
In reading your book, there was a part in there where you’re talking about you need to slow down. I need to slow down sometimes. Let’s dig into slow down a little bit and what the genesis of that was and what that means to you.
The mantra that we use is pause, think, focus. We have this busyness notion. We have to show that we’re busy. As a behavioral scientist, I’m on a lot of airplanes, so I watch a lot. People will turn on and check their Facebook the second they land. Everybody’s got to be engaged with their devices versus talking to someone or appreciating something around them. We feel this great pressure of busyness today and I’m not really important. I’m certainly not as important to you if I’m not exhibiting those busyness traits. That’s a self-imposed mental model, that’s not real. Not that we don’t have a lot more pressures today, a lot more clutter and distraction. We certainly do, but we have a choice. We have a choice on how we manage that and how we deal with it.
The slowing down is slow down and get it right instead of do it wrong and do it over. The slowdown is to pause and we teach techniques that take a whole whopping 30 seconds, just to visit your brain, which by the way loves when you visit. We’re using our brain less and less and traveling more and more what we call the well-worn neural pathways. To simplify, our tendency is we like what we already know. Our brain digs what is familiar with, it tends to go to that. It’s served us very well as a survival technique, and in slower times, that was fine. Unfortunately, the world is changing at such a fast pace today that just because it worked five years ago does not mean it will work today.
Just because it worked a year ago does not mean it’s the case today, but we forget to refresh and update our brains. The pausing is to force you to go to that brain and just ponder what if, could we, should we, change perspective, challenge assumptions. We have a whole set of 99 different tools or techniques that we call neuro prompts, ways to prompt or poke your brain very quickly to slow it down just enough to be able to truly think and focus on the right thing. Because most of the time we’re reacting into doing, we’re not thunking.
We’re in the business, not on the business.
Both. Even when we’re on it, we’re still not thinking as well as we could.
In reading another part about challenge, like plan B, reverse planning sequences where we used to know out of the military. Start with the end point in mind and work backwards, and then what happens if. I think for a lot of businesses, you’re constrained by your bandwidth, which you understand. You say, “Yes, I can understand, but I never thought I would see Uber. I never thought I would see Airbnb.”
The magnitude of all of this is significant.
You have the CEO, business owners says, “I agree. I want to take and get structured on my ability to challenge my thought process, join an organization outside of mine.” If you were offering advice to that person on how do you get someone structured to challenge your belief, what would you do? Let’s say it’s in the consulting leadership business that you do and you wanted to challenge yourself. “What would I look at different than what I’m doing to see if there was change coming to my industry?”
One of the first techniques we often teach is called Look Up and Look Around. There are some interesting work that’s been done on this, and it’s called sensory adaptation in general, the space. Some of the listeners may have heard of this or even seen the video where there are students passing a ball and a gorilla walks through, but nobody sees the gorilla. We can miss really big things when we’re overly focused onto doing our task level. We teach, “You got to step back every now and then,” and I mean maybe fifteen minutes a week. Not staring at your navel for hours and hours, fifteen minutes a week to look up and look around. We have a whole list of prompts and things that costs no money. Your time is the only price, and that’s a heavy price for fifteen minutes a week to fill your brain with diverse data. Because your brain cannot connect dots if it hasn’t gathered any first. In the speed that we operate, we have more information available with less effort than ever before and we use less than we ever have.
We’re soundbite people. We look at a headline, we don’t read the data. We don’t go back and try and uncover, “Is there something else here? Could I learn from a different industry? I’m probably not the first person to ever go through this in the history of mankind. Where else can I look? What can I do?” We don’t tend to take advantage of most of that, but that’s because it’s speed. Speed has trumped the slowing down thinking piece. You got to build it back in and you have to do two things to build it back in. You have to have a mental model that is valuable. It has to be worthy of your time that’s stretched too thin. Then you have to have a habit of doing it. It’s so logical, but remember we’re not logical animals. Our feet smell, our nose runs, we park on driveways, drive on parkways. We can go through a very, very long list. We’re not logical creatures. I want to take advantage of how we do and then turn that into how we can be even better doing.
I think about the company or he’s listening and he’s going, “That’s me. I need to do this.” He can get the book. He can reach out to you. Then you go back to your organization and you go, “Get everybody together.” What are the typical reactions, the population basis, either the great baby boomers or the Gen X or the millennials? What’s the typical pushback and impediment to implementation?
You can’t just go back and hold a meeting and say, “I read this on the bus.” Because then everyone laughs and go, “Here we go. The next program of the month or program of the day,” or whatever it is. That’s where our work differentiates from a lot of other work of consultants. We don’t show up one time and in an hour teach you magic wand stuff. This is about creating new habits, new synopsis, new neuropathways in the brain. Quite frankly, it takes time. You’ve got to go back and you have to weave in these things to what I call the employee life cycle. Every single thing that happens in the organization, whatever it is you want, the target setting, the challenging assumptions, the changing perspectives, those have to be woven in to the day-to-day experiences. They can’t be someone off, “So and so is making us go sit through this or do that.” It’s truly got to be a part of who you are and how you operate every single day.
As the owner, you’re starting to see progress. You’re starting to weave this into the fabric. What level of that is communicated into the client of that company? What do you tell them or do you even share it with your clients that you’ve embarked on this path?
Absolutely, very straightforward. You want to set expectations like you would with anything. One of the techniques we use is called destination modeling. That’s the umbrella for the clarity on winning and the driving it to execution with everyone every day. I always tell people, “It’s going to take you about two years to get great at this.” Never seen it happen in any less time than that. It doesn’t mean I’m there all the time for two years. We do a lot of tools over email and phone conference and all that kind of thing. I always tell people, “My job once we get you going is to be a professional nag, to make sure that you’re sticking to it, you’re doing it, we’re seeing results or we are just,” etc. It takes about two years. These neuropathways are there in your brain for a reason, and you’re already successful. I’m working with people who have already had some success certainly. The changing of that is very challenging for the adult human. We like what we already know. Even when we know logically, the world has changed dramatically. Our customers have changed, our employee base has changed, our products has changed. Even though we know that logically it doesn’t stop us from wanting to do the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
It takes a while to form new neural pathways. It’s all about how those pathways are formed in your brain and the thickness of that pathway. It doesn’t happen by one experience. Step back and think about a football player, for instance. Peyton Manning didn’t learn to throw the ball well by throwing it one or two times. It’s hours and hours of practice and thinking about it and trying different techniques, etc., so that the pathway is insanely thick in his brain and in muscle memory so it moves into physical attributes as well. You have to do the same things at work. We have to practice and we have to practice getting it right.
One of the big distinguishers, and I believe probably one of the primary reasons this is harder at work than in other spaces is because every day at work we’re on the field. We’re on stage. There is no time to practice, we’re working. It’s not like we get to practice five days and play on Sunday. We are on stage working and everything we do therefore to our brain is practicing. Every time we come into a meeting late, every time we don’t make the best decision, every time we run too fast, that’s all practice to your brain. It doesn’t discern that, “It should have been done a different way.” We form deep neural pathways making the same mistakes over and over.
There’s a pattern interrupt at some point.
There has to be. Not only pattern interrupt, but new patterns created. The cool thing that we’ve uncovered about the human brain in very recent past is that as adult humans, we have enormous neuroplasticity in our brain. In other words, unless we’re dead or our brain is diseased, we can create new pathways until we die. Now that truly was a breakthrough in understanding so that old dog can’t learn new tricks. We don’t know about dogs, but we do know, we’re fairly certain that the human can.
I think about the whole concept of retire at a certain age. “At a certain age, you must retire because…” I think about that myth for lack of a better term. As we transition from baby boomer generation then the Gen X and the millenials, are you finding that between the generations, there’s a greater acceptance to what you’re talking about from one generation to another?
I’m not sure there’s any evidence to suggest that that would be the case, but it’d be fascinating to look at and certainly ponder.
I think of my experience. I’m a baby boomer and I grew up post-Vietnam and nuclear threat and so on. Then we had the kids that were younger, whether in their 40s now. Then you’ve got the later generation, which is in their 20s and 30s.
Then you’ve got Gen Z now, the twenties. You’ve got that whole new one layer.
In an organization, I think about the willingness by many to accept the possibility that what you say is useful. There’s a certain level of there’s always the skeptic, there’s always the office ninja. As you go into that, do you find that those folks start to come onboard?
This is anecdotally, I don’t know that I’ve seen a difference across generations as so much a difference across people in where we’re at in our life. Whether we have the curiosity and what I call learning stance and the desire to continue to be more incredible, versus if I’m locked in and I’m set.
If you think about the workers as, “I lost my job. I lost it to technology or robotics.” You go, “Did you see it coming?” If it’s a repetitive task, there’s a robot that’s going to do it for you. As you think about that in working in your space, “How can that person look at their job and go, ‘Am I at risk?’ Then if I’m at risk, what kinds of things can I bring into my thought process to be aware and make a change before I’m road kill?”
The hard part is that’s a counter instinctual way to think. We always think it won’t happen to us. That’s number one and that’s a deep core. I maybe see something tragic happened in the news and there’s, “That wouldn’t happen to me because,” that’s part of that survival, which is not our deepest instinct by the way, but one of the deeper ones. It’s counter instinctual to be thinking like that. That’s number one. You have to teach yourself to do it. You have to be intentional and force it a little bit to create some of those new pathways and that kind of thinking. I work with a lot of manufacturers and people that are in exactly these kinds of circumstances. We only know what we know. The way that we expand our brain is it new experiences, exposure to different ways of thinking and different things.
You got to force yourself to do that. That’s uncomfortable. We like what we know. Our brain likes what we’re familiar with. Socioeconomic status plays into that on what are the possibilities we have. Geography plays into it, what’s available in my area. We’re very much a product of who we hang out with, who are around day in and day out. There are literally hundreds of forces at play there. We like trying to boil things down to be simplistic for the human, but they’re simply not. We are insanely complex animals. You have to start teasing something like that apart and thinking about, “Of the hundred things that we could do to help someone in a scenario like that, what are top ten maybe, but it’s not going to be one.”Get crystal clear on winning. Click To Tweet
I think so much of that is choice.
It is but I may not even know I have a choice. Don’t get me wrong. I have a real intolerance for victim mentality or martyrs or all of those other kinds of things. That’s why I chose to play in mostly functional space at work. Certainly that comes into play as well. Some of those predispositions, ”Woe is me,” etc. Even those that have a desire, there are other factors and forces involved too.
I was in the corporate arena for many years. Then there was this tipping point, for lack of a better term, where you decided that you weren’t going to be in the corporate arena. You are going to take and go and do this on your own. For the folks that may be out there going like, “I’ve considered that,” what were the things that were the contributing factors for you to make the decision to leave “security” to go out and do this on your own?
I realized number one, there was no security in Fortune 500. I’ve worked for quite a few. There’s always change and layoffs and different leaders. I’d certainly been through ups and downs in that arena or world. I didn’t necessarily have that hard and fast notion that that was secure. I was a pretty reluctant consultant. I’d worked for incredible companies, a lot of luxuries in working for large organizations that sometimes we don’t get in smaller ones, but I’d also done some startups. I was very lucky that throughout my career I have formed very close relationships with the people that worked for me, with me or that I worked for and I’d maintained those relationships. I was working at a Fortune 500. I was in a director level role. I got a call from someone I had worked with a long time ago who said, “Is there any way you can take vacation and come up and facilitate our strategic planning?” I went home and I thought, “I’ve literally been taken a nap at my desk every day at 3:00. I think I probably need to do this.”
I had the luxury of having a network that I had built over years and years and being able to tap into that and pull it together to become a consultant. I’m a terrible employee, absolutely horrendous, horrific employee. I get bored very easily. I like high energy. I’m a change agent unquestionably, and I’m going to help you by being very provocative. That doesn’t work when you’re internal. It took me a while to understand that about my own style, my own desire. Once I did, it’s been fifteen years of incredible experiences around the globe, great organizations, amazing people. I’m making a real difference not only in profitability and productivity in companies, but in people enjoying themselves more at work.
I think about the decision. You come home and talk to your husband and you go, “This is the direction,” and then there’s day one. “I don’t have to go to work today.” What was the first month or so of that like?
Pretty nerve wracking from a financial security perspective. I’m the breadwinner of our family and have been. Certainly, there were those elements to think about. Luckily, we had saved and put aside and done a good job with our financials up to that point. Also, for me it was excitement. Who do I work with? What do I do? How do I reach out to people? What I found was I was very lucky in that people reached out to me. Once I let my network know, “Here’s what I was doing,” etc., honestly, I’m not sure there’s been a time when I haven’t been busy in the last fifteen years. We book months and months and months out oftentimes because my schedule is full.
I think about the comment that you stayed in close contact with your friends and peers and so on. That’s a real skill set.
It’s something that, for whatever reasons came to me maybe instinctually, but I did work hard at it. This was before you had LinkedIn. I was like one of the first 100 people on LinkedIn. I value those kinds of tools unquestionably and this was long before that. I was always looking for, “Here’s an article I came across, I thought you might like it.” Physically mailing that to people in the old days. I try to continue doing that because I think that’s important. Why would I expect you to be thinking of me when you have a need if I’m not thinking of you? There is that reciprocity notion that’s valuable in the world. We do a lot of other things today as well with newsletters and other kinds of outreach that are a little more technology oriented, but I’m always looking for and thinking about people and what might be helpful at. What drives me to do what I do is I love helping people be more successful. That’s what drives me day in and day out. I love helping people be more successful. I get great joy from that.
We were talking a little bit about Mr. Sinek, the why. You think about, “I like helping people be more successful.” Where do you think that came from or how did that get seated in you?
I grew up with great parents who always pushed us. You can be anything you want to be. I grew up in a fairly normal middle class family, but we certainly were encouraged. Other than that I’ve been asked that a lot. We’ve tried to engender that in our own children. Some of it was chance and circumstance and things beyond anyone’s control. A lot of it was growing up with people who believe you can do what you want to do, just put your mind to it and work hard.
You’re published, widely read. The first book, what was the impetus and whole idea behind your book?
The first one was More Than a Minute. I ran The Ken Blanchard Companies for a number of year. Ken was the co-author of The One Minute Manager. I realized that book was more than 25 years old and here we were still using it. It was an absolutely seminal management reference book at the time, but the three secrets in that book were one minute goal setting, one minute reprimand and one minute praising that were a bit outdated. All the people in the book were males and it was an interesting thing. When you step back and you look at that, I thought, “This is due for a refresh. This is something that we could probably take a look at insanely valuable in its time. It’s probably good to step back and say now where we’re at, what does it look like in today’s world?”
That’s what prompted me to write the first book. That and honestly, I never set out to be an author. It was never anything on my list. My clients pushed me to do it. “Get this stuff in writing, Holly. You’ve got to be able to get this in writing and share with more people that way. We’d love to be able to refer back to the processes, the steps. I tend to write things that are very referenced, book oriented, action oriented. In a nutshell, that’s how I would describe myself as well, very results driven.
How did your life change after that book came out or did it?
I don’t know that it did. I mean certainly it’s been sold around the globe, translated into eight languages. I started doing probably more keynote speeches at that point so that may be changed a little bit, but I’ve always been on the stage. That’s not something I was fearful or didn’t want to do. It had helped me be more concise in the consulting work. I think it helped me be maybe more consistent sometimes. Helped me be more helpful to clients by being able to have something that I could refer people to, etc.
The second book was a result of pressure from clients. You do a lot of work in innovation, you do a lot of work on using your brain. We took the notions from the first book and then dove deeper on the get clear on the target and bring it to life aspects of things. I’ve had two major publishers contact me to write the next one. Honestly, I don’t know that I will. It’s certainly time consuming to write a book. It’s also fun. I love working with people hands on and getting in, getting dirty, getting things done and seeing the results of that.
You were mentioning innovation and Apple had its big in the donut reveal of the new phone and there was a discussion about they need to come up with the next new iPod. When you’re working with an organization and they say, “We have a problem innovating,” what types of discussions do you have with them in regard to that?
We’ve got a tool set. What I find fascinating is people presume if we say that innovation is one of our values that magically everyone can do it. Innovation is counter instinctual for the adult human. Remember, we like what we already know. Our brain digs what it’s familiar with. We have to learn the skills of being innovative and we do believe, I believe there is an underlying skill set that allows us to be innovative. It is a series of prompts and tools that we can rely on and push ourselves to do that well. It’s the putting together of pieces and parts in whole new ways for value creation. That’s all that innovation is. Our brain likes what it already knows so it doesn’t do it instinctually. You have to teach people how to do it. If it truly is important, we have to carve out the time to teach people how to do it and make it part of how we hold them accountable and give them the tools and the support necessary to do it well.
As we’re talking about innovation and there’s the big move supposedly, big data, artificial intelligence, and I think I saw a lot of artificial intelligence in DC, but I’m not sure. That’s all different kind of artificial intelligence. You think about the big data effect on companies and things that maybe you didn’t see. How are you seeing that affecting in your perspective?
As a behavioral scientist, we like to believe that we’re very data based in our consulting approach. We’ve got thousands of biases and assumptions and mental models that everyone else does but we’d like to try to be database. It is fascinating now with big data, how we can gather information, but we’re still ignoring it just as often as we’re paying attention to it. Because we have anecdotal, and that in our brain weighs heavier. It’s fascinating the weight that that will carry versus a thousand points of information that are from an unknown source. That’s where that logical creatures stuff comes in and how we weight things dramatically different in our head.
We have an immediacy bias. We have a fear bias. We have a fear of failure bias. There’s hundreds and hundreds of them. I have not seen to date the impact of the ability to have big data and make database decisions as prominently as I would have expected five years ago. Because that’s who run things. IBM’s Watson does not run things. It’s still the adult human and we still see a lot of illogical decisions and behaviors. That doesn’t necessarily mean those are wrong by the way, because there’s something in there that leads us to illogical decisions. Sometimes they’re wrong, but sometimes they’re not. That’s okay too.You've got to be ready to be provoked and prompted to push yourself. Click To Tweet
What do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions folks might have about what you bring to the table when you show up at their doorstep?
It’s not a magic wand. I have one, but it doesn’t work. It will be hard. Being incredible is not easy. There was no one that is elite that doesn’t work very hard constantly on being incredible. That’s one of our first disclaimers, you got to be ready to work hard. You’ve got to be ready to be provoked and prompted to push yourself. That’s not only the CEO, that’s each and every person that’s going to be engaged, and that needs to be your whole organization. You have to be willing to do that. You have to come at things from a learning stance versus a defensive stance, and open your mind just a little bit.
That’s important because if you already know, then you don’t need us. You don’t need anyone, you should keep doing what you’re doing and that will be great. You have to want to win. I’ll give you an example. Our brain likes guide rails. Those are the ‘what’s in’. The ‘what’s out’ is if you want to run a lifestyle company, then that’s fantastic and you should do that, but I’m probably not your gal. Because it’s probably already producing what you want to get out of it, and that’s fantastic. There’s no reason you’re going to want to push yourself or work as hard as I’m going to want you to work. That’s I would say more the out-of-bounds.
The industry doesn’t matter as long as you have adult humans. By the way, I worked with potato farmers and dairy farms who have potatoes and cows, and but they also have humans. It doesn’t matter the industry or the sector, it doesn’t matter if you think, “We’ve got all these skeptical engineers or the scientists.” It doesn’t matter. I work with all types because the brain is the brain. If we can get in there and help you work with yours even more effectively, you’re going to be more successful. You got to be willing to do it.
I think sometimes folks will go, “The information is free,” and folks have a tendency to discount that which is free. They think it has value. You’ve charged a lot. “It must therefore be more valuable in the approach.” Parting advice pretty much on anywhere across the gamut that might be useful for the listeners.
I’d say there’s two things. Start practicing, pausing and visiting your brain to think and focus. Get crystal clear on winning. For every day, what are the things you need to do to win that day? For your company as a whole, for your team, for your role or position or wherever you’re at in your life, get crystal clear on winning. Your brain has the amazing ability to prove itself right, and to look for the things that will help you achieve once you’re clear. You got to be clear with specificity first.
I appreciate you taking the time.