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162: Scuba Tanks and Fierce Conversations – Featured Interview with Susan Scott

Founder of Fierce, Inc., Author of Fierce Conversations and Fierce Leadership

Susan Scott talks to Bill Ringle on My Quest for the Best about fierce leadership and the benefits of learning how to have truly meaningful conversations.

Key points that you’ll learn from this interview:
  • What is the real role of managers
  • Why leaders should offer their employees to challenge the way they’re thinking.
  • How meaningful conversation occurs in a culture where candor is valued.
  • How “putting on a scuba tank” can keep your meetings from being a waste of time.
  • Why practice can make you a better communicator

Interview Insights

Click to Read the Show Notes

1:39 Scott talks about an early role model – her grandmother – the first to start the Tuxedo rental business.

2:07 [On starting Fierce] – “I had been running groups of CEO’s here in Seattle…and I would meet with each of them once a month for about 2 hours.”

2:45 [Inspired by Hemingway] “I had an epiphany that our companies and our careers and our relationships and our lives can succeed or fail, gradually hen suddenly, one conversation at a time.” 

3:08 “What gets talked about within a company, how it gets talked about, and who is invited to the conversation, determines what’s going to happen.”

4:22 [Paraphrasing Annie Dillard] – “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”

4:29 “Most leaders are spending their days in meeting after meeting after meeting, conversation after conversation after conversation.”

5:23 The importance of straight talk and straight listening.

5:38 “People are understandably frightened to disclose what they’re really thinking and feeling, and they don’t necessarily want to go for the biggest and baddest and toughest and most complicated issues.”

5:59 “People end up waterskiing through their conversations rather than putting on a scuba tank and going deeper.”

7:14 “Fierce Leadership is the book that if somebody’s going to read one book, they should read that one.”

7:57 [On making the conversation real] – “You have to decide whether or not you really care about the issues on the table. If you don’t care, then you’re not necessarily going to come out from behind yourself and be real.”

8:22 “I would hope that you are in a culture where candid candor is valued.”

8:31 “No plan will survive its collision with reality.”

9:31 “The person who’s holding the meeting fills that form before everyone comes together for the meeting.”

10:21 “A leader’s job is not to be right, a leader’s job is to get it right for the company.”

10:38 “If I’m the leader, I want to start by changing the way I’m holding my meetings.”

11:31 “There’s an easy and graceful way to put your perspective on the table even if it contradicts the leaders of the organization.”

12:14 “Most people aren’t even aware that they’re shutting people down.”

13:05 “In our training nobody does any role play, nobody pretends to be someone other than who they are.”

14:29 How practice can make you a better communicator.

14:51 “We teach people what accountability really is and how to raise the bar on accountability.”

16:05 How a meeting facilitator can help keep a meeting from derailing.

16:31 “We want the client to have gotten tremendous benefit from the training and actually make progress on an issue that is of great importance to them.”

17:12 People always amaze me at how brave, courageous, and skillful they can be very quickly, given the right tools and understanding of what’s at stake.”

17:59 “What is your role as a manager? It is not to have all of the answers, it is not to create the plan all by yourself.”

18:42 “If I as a manager am always just dictating to them what they should do, and sharing the brilliance of my own thinking with them, there’s not much room for them to shine. Plus, I am not always going to get it right.”

20:13 [On Managers changing mindset] – “Why would I want to go back to that lonely role of coming up with all of these ideas myself, when I’ve got some amazing people who came up with ideas is a short amount of time?”

22:05 “When everybody knows, and you tell them at the beginning ‘Before we conclude I’m going to ask every one of you to give me your best advice,’ when you do that, no one is going to be checking out.”

23:08 “If you haven’t heard from somebody in the meeting you call on them.”

23:38 “You teach people how to behave in these meetings and no one gets to hide out and shrink their subatomic particles and vanish off the radar screen. They’re invited to the meeting because their perspective is important.”

25:24 [Paraphrasing Will Rogers] – “Politicians are good at saying absolutely nothing and saying it all the time. Nobody’s listening and then everybody disagrees,”

26:43 Ask more questions, respond with fewer ‘Yes, but’s,” especially in regards to political discussions.

29:44 “Labelling people or groups of people is so counterproductive.”

30:30 “People are tired of having these 360 anonymous inputs…people want to have conversations.”

30:53 “Companies are shifting their performance management to be this ongoing conversation.”

31:00 The two major updates to Fierce Conversations

33:04 [On feedback] – “The time has come, we all know that we need it.”

33:36 “Let’s get away from the practice of holding people accountable and holding people able and modeling accountability.”

34:09 “Be very clear with people on what are their deliverables.”

34:44 “There’s no way I can hold you to a standard that is higher than the one I’m exhibiting myself.”

34:54 “Accountability is an attitude.”

35:03 “You have to create an environment in which people choose accountability.”

36:08 Feedback Scott has received from readers.

37:23 “You wasn’t people to come up with their own insights.”

38:59 [On fierce conversations] – “It’s one where we lean in, we really listen to one another, we totally disclose what we’re thinking, we share the goal of getting it right.

39:17 Five questions with Susan Scott

Expert Bio

Susan Scott is a best-selling author and leadership development architect who has enabled top executives worldwide to engage in vibrant dialogue with one another, with their employees, and with their customers for more than two decades. As CEO of Fierce Conversation, a company she founded in 2001, Susan sets the company’s strategic vision and creates the culture through her ongoing commitment to ensure employees are engaged, communication is candid, and learning is continuous.

Prior to starting Fierce, Susan spent 12 years running think tanks for CEOs designing and delivering training to peers working with CEOs across the globe. In 2002, ‘Fierce Conversations -Achieving Success at Work and in Life, One Conversation at a Time,’ was published in 4 countries. It was included on The Wall Street Journal and UPI best seller lists, and was one of USA TODAY’S top 40 business books of 2002. Her much anticipated second book – ‘Fierce Leadership: A Bold Alternative to the Worst ‘Best’ Practices of Business Today was published in 2009, and was also listed on The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times best seller lists. In May 2017 Susan re-released “Fierce Conversations” with 40% updated content, incorporating more data and technology that was developed through her experience in the industry over the last 15 years.

For more information, visit Susan Scott’s website.

Contact Info for Susan Scott

Web address: www.fierceinc.com

Travels from: Seattle, WA

Phone: (206) 818-2429

Contact: Sarah Mann

LinkedIn Facebook Twitter

Resources Mentioned by Susan Scott:

 

Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises

Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

Annie Dillard

Will Rogers

159: Action is the Key to Success – Featured Interview with Rhett Power

Entrepreneur, Author, Coach, Columnist at Inc. and Success Magazines

Rhett Power talks with Bill Ringle about the troubles and triumphs of entrepreneurship, and why it just might not be for everyone.

Key points that you’ll learn from this interview:
  • Is entrepreneurship an innate talent?
  • How Power’s time in the Peace Corps encouraged him to take risks
  • What allowed Wild Creations to go from being out of money to being a $9 million company
  • How reliability and communication can lead to trust with vendors
  • The formula for success that Rhett Power found the hard way

Interview Insights

Click to Read the Show Notes

1:40 Power tells about the early influencers of his life.

2:40 [The Peace Corps] – “All of those life lessons prepared me for entrepreneurship.”

2:55 “Is entrepreneurship learned or is it innate?”

3:32 “Well I think certain people have the characteristics, maybe you’re born with it…but I see both sides now.”

3:52 “I think all types can be good entrepreneurs.”

5:04 “Some people are entrepreneurs and they don’t know it.”

5:27 Power recounts the various odd jobs he did prior to joining the Peace Corps. “It took me a while to find, finally, what I wanted to do.”

6:38 “It was the best move I ever made because I learned those two years about myself and about truly being able to do what I wanted to do, and to take chances.”

6:51 “Nobody’s going to hand you success, no one’s gonna do it for you. If you want something you’ve got to go out and work for it.”

7:39 “The work I did after Peace Corps in the developing countries, in the former Soviet Union, helping them understand what a market economy was, and helping them transition, and be profitable, and learn how to manage a new type of company, is what sort of got me where I got comfortable with the idea of going into business for myself.”

8:15 The genesis of Wild Creations.

8:25 “We both wanted to be in business. We felt like it was our time to do something and create something that was ours.”

9:10 Power describes the early days of Wild Creations, including an interaction with a body removal company.

9:43 [On taking over Wild Creations] – “We saw where the product could go, we saw what we could do with it. We thought that we could do something different with the company.”

10:30 [Wild Creations’ initial product.] – “It had all kinds of problems.”

11:11 How a UPS technology grant allowed Wild Creations to get off the ground.

11:32 “Every single vendor gave us 6 months of credit, or there would have been no way to secure those first orders.”

12:10 “Frankly we were struggling, we were probably about a month from having to close the doors.” 

12:57 “We didn’t have it in toy stores. We had it in little gift and novelty stores.”

13:26 How a connection with the president of the Toy Store Association allowed Wild Creations to get their foot in the door. “Come to New York, come to the Toy Fair.”

14:18 [On the meteoric rise of Wild Creations] – “We walked out of Toy Fair a $9M company.”

15:34 “It was scary, it was really scary.”

15:53 [How honesty and communication allowed them to ship on time.] – “Build a relationship with your suppliers so if you have a problem or you have a growth spurt like that, then they are 100% behind you.”

18:10 Power discuss the process of writing the book. “When we started writing it I don’t think we knew what we wanted to say.”

18:45 “The Entrepreneur’s Book of Actions was easier because I knew what I wanted to say.”

19:25 Power lists the “avatars” he interviewed for his book.

20:01 “I wrote it because I think I know what people go through and I wanted to sort out their issues and help them be more successful.”

21:06 “I wanted to break it down for people what the important parts of the book were.”

21:18 “I do believe that action is really the key to success.”

21:42 Why doing something every day for a whole year brings about change.

21:53 Focus on self-change first, then focus on changing your people.

22:01 “In order for our companies to grow, we have to grow.”

22:39 The questions and issues that entrepreneurs and founders often overlook.

22:58 “Sometimes you find that they’re disciplined in their work but their not disciplined in their personal lives.”

23:49 The importance of managing the minutes.

24:27 “I’ve learned the hard way of having to scale up.”

27:01 What a bad experience with an experienced toy consultant taught Power about coaching.

28:00 “Founders and entrepreneurs, they typically have a vision for how they want to do something.”

28:22 What Power learned from Mark Thompson and Marshall Goldsmith

28:48 “When you run a company the size of our first company, you are the leader and your influence where that company goes.”

29:54 “One of the things that I see is that people feel somewhat embarrassed that they’re seeking advice, that they’re seeking help.”

31:08 Why it’s important to hire a coach that you actually like.

32:12 “First and foremost make a professional mission statement.”

32:56 “Success ultimately boils down to a couple of things. It boils down to your habits, your discipline, and your ability to figure out what’s important.”

Expert Bio

Rhett Power co-founded Wild Creations in 2007 and quickly built the startup toy company into the 2010 Fastest Growing Business in South Carolina. Wild Creations was named a Blue Ribbon Top 75 US Company by the US Chamber of Commerce and named as one of Inc. Magazine’s 500 Fastest Growing US Companies two years in a row. He and his team have won over 40 national awards for their innovative toys. He was a finalist for Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2011 and was nominated again in 2012. He was recently named as one of the world’s top 100 business bloggers in 2015.

Prior to founding Wild Creations, Rhett worked as an economic and small business development consultant for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), serving 7 years in the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia. Prior to that, he was Director of National Service Programs for Habitat for Humanity, which included being Habitat’s chief liaison with for The White House, Congress, and the Corporation for National Service.

A member of the United States Department of State’s International Speakers Program, Rhett travels the globe speaking about entrepreneurship, leadership, and management alongside the likes of Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann, AOL Founder Steve Case, and President Barack Obama. He has written for the Huffington Post, Time, and The Wall Street Journal and is a regular columnist for Inc., Success Magazine, and Business Insider.

He served in the US Peace Corps and is a graduate of the University of South Carolina. His second book on entrepreneurship will be published in early 2017 by McGraw Hill. He now has a rapidly growing coaching and consulting practice based in Washington DC and Charleston, South Carolina.

For more information, visit Rhett Power ‘s website.

Contact Info for Rhett Power

Web address:www.rhettpower.com or www.powercoachinggroup.com

Travels from: Washington, DC

Phone: 202.465.7120

Contact:

LinkedIn Facebook Twitter

Resources Mentioned by Rhett Power :

Marshall Goldsmith

  

    

152: Putting People First – Featured Interview with Jonathan Raymond

Jonathan Raymond, Owner of Refound

Jonathan Raymond talks with Bill Ringle on My Quest for the Best about the culture of accountability, the proper way to give feedback, and developing an organization that puts people first.

 

Key points that you’ll learn from this interview:
  • Why organizations are putting so much thought into a “people first” culture
  • How to give feedback without micromanaging
  • How a software company gave their senior management the room to play at the level of their title
  • The one mistake organizations make over and over again
  • The importance of embracing uncertainty

Interview Insights

Click to Read the Show Notes

1:10 Raymond recounts his first real experience in entrepreneurship, telling about the “driveway car wash’ he owned with his friends.

1:33 [On lessons learned from this early venture] – “One of the lessons was the operating costs are always higher than you think they are.”

1:50 “Any industry worth being in is crowded.”

2:15 How law school taught Raymond to show up in the world in a professional way.

2:53 “My education in law school really helped me write with some structure, rather than just stream of consciousness, but to actually put one idea after the next in a way where something builds.”

3:05 “A lawyer is able to string a series of good ideas together and build an argument, right? Which is what a good book or a good blog post is: it’s a good argument for advocating a a piece of change.”

3:45 Raymond describes what it was like working 3 jobs out of law school, and still barely being able to cover rent. 

4:04 [Paraphrasing Andy Warhol] – “You know you’re on track in your life when you’re using the best and the worst of what’s happened to you over the course of your journey.”

4:26 “If I want to have an impact in the world, I’m going to have to take some steps, and there’s going to be some painful moments along the way.”

4:52 [On Raymond’s Clients at Refound] – “I think the biggest problem we help people with, I would say, is overwhelm and ambiguity.”

4:55 “In most modern organizations, there’s a lot of thought being put into ‘How do we create a people first culture? How do we engage with employees? How do we create the conditions where people feel like they’re coming to work not just to create profit for owners and shareholders, but a sense of personal meaning.”

5:27 “What we’ve been able to do is offer a real tactical approach for how to do, in particular, feedback and accountability in an organization that really grounds the way people operate on a day to day basis.”

5:53 “Where organizations go sideways, and where things start to degrade, is in the actual conversations between managers and employees, between managers and one another, and, very importantly, between managers and senior executives.”

7:39 [Case Study Software Company in south bay, CA] – “There was this big aha moment, which is fairly common, where all of the managers in the organization [realized] how they were sort of playing a level down or two levels down from their title.”

8:26 “It’s incremental. Nothing changes overnight. Nothing worth doing changes overnight.”

9:09 “And that’s really the best part of this work for me. I get to see people take these tools and apply them in ways that I never would’ve thought, and have conversations that are meaningful to them.”

9:44 [On Raymond’s inspiration for writing the book] – “I bumped up against my own capacity as a leader, and I realized that I didn’t know what I was doing.”

10:23 How Raymond’s experience with cold, unfeeling training programs led him to create a work that was truly human.

10:26 “It’s not about being authentic, because “being authentic,” well, what does that mean? But, you know, how do you show up in a way that’s both professional and personal, that’s warm and kind and compassionate, but that also drives results?”

11:15  The type of feedback that makes people uncomfortable, and the scourge of the “Millennials boogeyman.”

11:57 [On the reluctance to new processes and change] – “People have been burned before.”

12:31 “This points to the tragedy of what’s happening right now in otherwise really interesting space in time, is that we’re radically over investing in technology to solve this problem, and radically underinvesting in training.”

12:59 [The mistake organizations make again and again] – “Buying tools and technology to solve human problems.”

13:39 Why managers are so hesitant to give feedback.

14:24 “To be able to embrace a communications methodology that says, ‘Actually, you know what, uncertainty is your best friend.’”

14:40 “If your feedback provides a solution, it’s not feedback, it’s micromanagement.”

15:12 “When we get a solution, when we get a ‘Here’s what you should do next,’ it’s quite disempowering.”

16:15 Raymond reveals some tips for managers.

16:25 “There are very few things we can do that will give us more value than not going into feedback situations cold.”

17:26 [On Accountability] – “We have to reframe what we think of when we say accountability. We can use the word, but if we don’t understand the meaning behind the word, we’re on the wrong track.”

18:07 “Accountability, all it means is responsibility for one’s actions.”

18:35 Why accountability without consequences is ineffective.

19:14 “Accountability is a gift.”

19:50 Raymond shares the layers of developing accountability in an organization.

20:25 [The key to accountability] – “The key is communication where people say, ‘You know what? I’m holding myself accountable for this, and you, Sir or Ms. Manager, I want your help.”

21:13 “We’re not very mindful as a species, we tend to be kind of reactive.”

21:35 How to “name what we feel” when giving constructive feedback.

21:58 “We can’t change behavior if we don’t know what the behavior is.”

22:33 “People will surprise you.”

22:47 “Oftentimes that’s what we need, we need boundaries. We need structure for what does excellent work look like.”

23:25 “If you get to do whatever you want, whenever you want with no consequences and no structure, you’re not really helping your teammates, you’re not really helping the organization in any directed, vision oriented way.”

23:44 “A good sales conversation has structure, it has flow – you have pieces that you want to cover; but it also has substance – it’s how you show up, and how you relate, and how you listen.”

24:49 How structure, communication, and substance go hand in hand.

25:37 “What unifies the organizations that are doing this well is participation from executives in a very specific way.”

26:10 [On the importance of recognizing where we are.] – “We’re very good at making big pronouncements of how it’s going to be in the future.”

27:14 “You actually have a lot more latitude, a lot more leeway with the people in your organization than you think.”

27:25 “You don’t have to fix the organization this afternoon. You just have to own that there are problems.”

27:49 “The frustration comes from when management and leadership tries to whitewash [problems].”

28:26 “I think it’s interesting that organizations have found themselves in this position of having to apologize for holding people accountable for being jerks.”

29:49 The problem with taking half measures.

31:12 “Don’t boast about what you’re going to do, let actions speak for themselves.”

32:05 What Raymond reads to stay on top of current trends.

33:02 The tools Raymond uses to stay productive.

Jonathan Raymond’s Bio

After twenty years of not being able to decide whether he was a business development guy or a personal growth teacher, Jonathan stopped trying to figure it out. He’s the owner of Refound, an online training startup that offers Good Authority training programs for owners, executives, and managers. He’s madly in love with his wife, tries not to spoil his daughter, and will never give up on the New York Knicks. Jonathan is the former CEO and Chief Brand Officer of eMyth, where he led the transformation of a global coaching brand and has worked in tech, clean tech, and the nonprofit world after graduating law school in 1998. He lives in Ashland, Oregon, a lovely town that’s too far away from a warm ocean.

For more information, visit Jonathan Raymond’s website.

Contact Info for Jonathan Raymond

Web address: www.refound.com

Travels from: Ashland, OR

Phone: (541) 690-5212

Contact:

LinkedIn Twitter

Resources Mentioned by Jonathan Raymond: