Posted on October 5, 2022
When organizations create a work environment of trust, respect, and safety, it propels the workforce where they’re not only surviving but thriving. Esther Weinberg defines this as the “ready zone,” an environment in which the leader, the team, the employees, and the organization as a whole, are 100% committed to having people feel valued for who they are and their humanity in addition to their contribution. Esther is a business growth accelerator and the Founder of The Ready Zone. Today, she joins Steph Silver to discuss leadership, career change, change management, and propelling your workforce.
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The Ready Zone: How To Propel Your Workforce And Unlock Your Team’s Hidden Potential With Esther Weinberg
Our guest is Esther Weinberg. She is a business growth accelerator that equips executives in high-growth industries to create game-changing breakthroughs, increased profitability in declining markets, and create successful and sustainable portable virtual cultures with executives, leaders, and teams. This amazing human is also the Cofounder of Being Me Foundation, a member of Harvard’s Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital, and the Forbes Coaches Council, and a contributor to Forbes. Thank you so much for giving us your time, Esther.
Thank you so much for having us.
Let’s first talk with you by telling us a little bit about your background and yourself. You have had an amazing journey so far. Tell us a little bit about where you were, and who you were before you started this executive coaching business.
It’s so funny because it’s the thing that when I live in college, my mother would have said to me, “Where will you be in twenty years?” I don’t think I would have said what I said, but I started my career in publicity and marketing, and then it transitioned to publicity. I was doing publicity on the agency side. I was doing it more inside organizations.
I got very fortunate when 22 years old, I got connected to a woman who ran an entertainment PR agency. She trained me. It was a bullpen. It was like us in her studio apartment in New York City. I’m born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. There we are. It’s myself and another woman the same age as me. Pam who was our boss and the three of us were sitting in her studio apartment.
It was like a movie, on and off journalists making stories. She taught us the art of publicity, which is an art and a science. It’s now much more science, but it was art and science. I did that for a while and then I transitioned to doing that for the financial world, doing advertising, publicity, and marketing. I wound up getting an amazing job at FX in New York.
It was not the FX Network that you see now. I don’t even know why they call it a network. They did all of their production out of the eight hours of live production out of a 6,500 fully functional studio apartment in New York City. It was gorgeous. It has a record and a ballroom. It was like a kids’ playground.
I got a second dream job. I was relocated to Los Angeles to work for Disney and to have publicity for them for all their owned divisions, and that was a dream job too. I thought I was going to start my own publicity company and I ceremoniously started thinking, “This is the way that the world works. You find one person leads you to another which leads you to another thing.”
I found executive coaching early on when no one was doing it. I don’t even know how I did it. I have a career and a business at it. It’s funny when we look back on it now because it was in its infancy. It was several years ago. I became developed as an executive coach and then my business expanded to us doing organizational development work, leadership development work, and training facilitation for teams and organizations, and so it grew.
That is my infancy before I had The Ready Zone and came into it. It was interesting because of how I made the transition to this work. When I was looking at the next stage of my life after I left the publicity world, I was very lost. I was in this existential crisis and I was in Asia, in Thailand. I remember arguing with a monk. It’s not a good thing. “Life isn’t permanent.” “No, it’s not.” “Everything has changed.” “No, it’s not.”
How old were you at that point?
I was 31. I remember I came back to the United States and it was so beautiful how I discovered the work that I do now. I realized there were threats of it all along that in all my work, I had cared about human potential. I cared about how we treat people. I cared about human dignity. The work we do now at The Ready Zone is creating workplace cultures of trust, respect, and psychological safety that are not just valued. No one would argue with that, but it’s measured as the bottom line. We have created our own KPIs for that.
When I look back, I think to myself, “All the times when I had upsets at certain points when I was in corporations, it was because we didn’t treat people fairly.” When the CFO at Disney said, “Third of our workforce left,” there wasn’t anyone who said anything about it. Let’s do a third of the workforce. It’s like I’m asking you, “Would you like coffee? Do you take it with sugar or cream?” That’s exactly the way the conversation was.
The head of sales sat there like, “The third of our workforce left. How are we not paying attention to that?” There was this conversation of, “We are at this big company. We work for Disney. People come to work for us.” I thought, “That may be true, but shouldn’t we look under the hood?” In The Ready Zone, we do look under the hood. What is getting in the way of some people realizing their whole potential? That’s how I transitioned from a 6,500-square-foot apartment doing publicity work to the work I do now. It’s a strange transition.We need to look under the hood to figure out what is getting in the way of some people realizing their whole potential. Click To Tweet
What do you think allowed you to have so many dream jobs? What about you got you there and got you to another one and another one? Most people don’t have that experience. Maybe they have one when they first start or when they are in their 40s, but you had this great opportunity young to be excited about what you were doing.
It’s a few things. One is that my parents raised me with a crazy work ethic. I had a very passionate work ethic instilled in me very young. I made a decision when I was in college, strangely enough. I remember when I was trying to declare a major and I was taking all these courses of things I should do, Accounting, Investment Finance. I forget what else it was. I remember one day waking up saying, “I’m not good at any of this. I don’t like it. What do I like?” I found publicity through that, and I would say that there was a dogged tenacity about it.
I even remember that in college there was a company that I wanted to work for called Berkshire Marcella. It was a globally renowned agency, and I thought, “I would have died and gone to heaven if I would have gotten a job there.” I thought, “I’m going to go for it. Why wouldn’t they give me the job? Why wouldn’t they hire me?”
There’s sometimes a bit of a dog with a bone combined with a bit of naivete. Even when I went for the job at FX when I was leaving finance and going back to entertainment, the guy that recommended me said, “There’s a job over there at FX. You’ll never get it.” He was a good friend of mine. It was a challenge. If I thought about someone, they can’t do something. I remember I got the job description and it was 3 or 4 pages. The tiniest type, single space, and I remember when I looked at it, I didn’t have all the experience. I don’t even know how anyone could have if they look at that description.
It’s like your dream spouse qualifications. You are not going to get all that. I remember thinking, “I have to go for this job. This job looks amazing.” It was extremely daunting. Someone said to me, “Do you know how many people are applying for that job?” I remember thinking, “I can’t think about my competition because if I thought about my competition, I’d swallow myself up. I would think about all the reasons why I could not and never be aspired for that job.” It was interesting because when I went and I interviewed for the job, I think what got me the job was my work ethic.
When I went to interview for the job, they were doing construction on the floors. They were still building the office space, and the woman who interviewed me, Ellen Cooper, she was interviewing me before the deadline, in the middle of it. She said, “As part of this job, can you write this press release?” I was like, “No problem.”
I go off and I write a press release, and then I came back and I’m like, “I finished it. What do you want to do with it?” She said, “Can you send it to LA?” I said, “No problem.” At that time, they had a fax machine that’s to LA and then I said, “What do you need? You seemed like you are on a deadline. What else? Do you need any help?” Even though I had another layer to go through for the interview, I think that, “How can I help? What can I do? What else do you need?” not thinking about the competitor forces around me helped.
I’m sure there are hundreds of people off of this job, but for me, it was like, “I’m going to go in, do the best that I can. I know that I have the job and let’s do it.” That’s what got me, and then when I transitioned to Disney, I had the same thinking. It’s like a little bit of an egoistic arrogance like, “Why would they take me? They know me. It’s people that knew me. They know how I work, why would they not take me?” It took forever to get the job, but it was something like that.
I didn’t know I was transitioning to be an entrepreneur. I left my job because I didn’t like it anymore. I resigned. They didn’t want me anymore. I didn’t want them anymore. It was like a mutual breakup. At the time, I didn’t know what I was fully getting myself into as an entrepreneur. That’s probably part of every job in a certain respect.
I didn’t fully know what I was getting myself into, but I was a bit of a dog with a bone. I was very spacious and I thought, “I got to need to work and I have got to look true to myself.” That has always proven to be the case. I don’t always know what’s true for myself at the moment because it evolves as you age and your experiences in your life, but I do have time to be here of it in the moment as I can.
I was talking with Maria Orozova. You mentioned you didn’t know what you were getting into. She said, “Sometimes if you do, you won’t do it. Just start and you’ll figure it out.” We have a lot of young people who aren’t quite in leadership positions yet that read this show. One of the things that I always recommend in any position anywhere, I don’t care if you are a server at a restaurant. If you are always willing to look around and do what’s necessary, not what’s in your job description, then you’ll succeed. It sounds like you had some or a lot of it in you.
That’s the same in entrepreneurship as well. You are constantly needing to look all around and see, “How can I serve my people? How can I serve my customers?” and all of those things. You’re always feeling that hunger, willing, and ready to work, but also rest when you need to. That’s hard for entrepreneurs sometimes.
You got to look around and it’s about, “How can I provide value and what’s needed in this situation?” Sometimes people aren’t ready for that. You have to also make sure that where you are leaning in is the right place, and sometimes you won’t know that until after you step all over yourself. I do think that it’s about having a level of resilience and desire to help at any place at any time. At the end of the day, if someone says you are not a right fit or that they don’t want you in a job, they want to let you go from a job, you have to be able to look at yourself here and say, “I did everything I could. I helped in every single place where I can. I gave my heart, my soul, and spirit.”
It’s not from a place of being a victim, but of a place saying like, “I know that I did whatever I could.” The other part of it, giving advice to young people, is that you also have to make sure that you are always willing to learn and improve your skills. I see this a lot in organizations. You get hired for a job in one day, but then what happens sometimes is that you skill out of it because the job runs faster and you are not keeping up with your skills and your interest is not there. It doesn’t keep you lean and hungry. Being lean and hungry also is vital to it also and in all of this.
I had a sleep expert on one of the episodes. He was talking about the ripple effect of all the things that lack of sleep or poor sleep quality and how that affects everything. For him, he goes into organizations and helps them to better optimize the workforce through their sleep schedules. He will make recommendations.
“Let these people come in at 10:00 and stay until 8:00, or let them come in at noon or vice versa. Let this section come in at 6:00 in the morning because they are ready to roll.” You were talking about individually taking that time. How do you work that into an organization? That’s something that you talk to your clients about. Working that into that rest and recuperation into the culture as a whole.
It’s interesting because we have created a way of measuring whether or not you are creating an environment of respect and psychological safety. We do it through zone performance indicators. We have six key zones that we teach people and educate people on because it’s a small thing. I will give you a small example to answer your question. We don’t know the stress we put on people by a simple thing as not being your word.
I can’t even tell you the number of times I see this. We are going to have breaks in our day. Good people make interest and make wonderful decisions, but then they step all over themselves. They will say things like, “I have seen this all over organizations since 2020. We are not going to have a meeting after 5:00 or no meeting Friday, or no meetings between 1:00 and 2:00 so that everybody has an opportunity to eat and spend time with their family.”
What happens? Meetings get scheduled on Friday. Meetings get scheduled after 5:00. Meetings get scheduled between 1:00 and 2:00. They don’t get scheduled because there’s an emergency. They start getting scheduled because maybe there’s a little something that’s urgent, and then it starts becoming a new habit even though you said something else. You have to examine the honesty of the routines in which you are creating in the day that you are expecting people to show up for.
I remember that we have a six-month virtual leadership program called RISE. Every month, that’s devoted to one of the zones we are talking about. One month, we were talking about connect ready. We were talking about communication and how to be your word and how to offer responsibility in your communication.
A woman tells story that she’s brought on a Saturday with her family. She’s got good kids, and imagine this for your mom. Imagine your phone rings on a Saturday. She answered it so we have to deal with that. She’s in the bathroom with her child who’s an infant. She puts up the phone and her boss says, “Why are you whispering?” She’s said, “I’m in the bathroom with my baby and I’m changing my baby.” Her boss pauses for two seconds for dignity, and then keep going. “About that project.”
I get to the group when we came back in the following week to the session, she was like, “I was so horrified that she didn’t say, ‘I’m so sorry. You are right. I can’t be calling you.’” There was no conversation afterwards. What I said to her was, “Where are you in this? I get that what she did was not great. You answered the phone. What conversations do you need to have now with yourself as well of your boss?” She’s like, “I know that I answered the phone, but I thought it was an emergency.”
She called me on Saturday, 10:00 in the morning. She doesn’t know I’m in a restaurant, but now I’m in a restaurant with my family. I said to her, “Now you need to have a conversation with your boss about how you want to be treated, about your schedule, and your boundaries around the two.” Lots of things also have to do with creating a healthy boundary. I said that one to a president of the division. It sounds like you need that vision of, “What’s that?”You need to talk with your boss about your schedule, how you want to be treated, and your boundaries around the two. Click To Tweet
It’s interesting because I feel like we were starting to understand that before 2020. We were starting to have a little bit of conversation. We have been talking about it for years, but the Millennials were bringing it into the workforce of no separation of work and life and these things. Once we started working from home, boundaries out the window. Everybody was working either not at all or 24 hours a day. How have you seen the repercussions of that? There so much more of the workforce is continued to stay home or in between. How do you recommend managing that and staying true? There are metrics and KPIs. How do you do that?
There was an article in the New York Times about monitoring software. The companies are now monitoring people performance. Because of the hybrid work, if I can’t see you working, that means you are not working. I’m going to go and monitor you through some software. In the article, they were also referencing some people that they were saying, “There are things you can’t monitor.” For example, I’m researching something, but it’s not on my computer and it’s a book, or I’m writing something. It’s not on my computer. How do you count for that time?
It’s a long way to start, but I would say there are a few things. It’s like the conversation I had with an executive. She was saying, “We are trying to figure out how to get people back to the office.” I said, “What’s the conversation like? Would you like to have them because you and I are asking or having what you asked me?” She said, “We go round and round. We don’t get anywhere. We just know they have to be in the office three days a week. That’s our hybrid model for now. Eventually, we’ll be five days, but for now, that’s our model.”
I said, “You would have to change the question. The question is, ‘How do we get people into this office that is like a prison? We close the doors so that they have to stay here.’” The conversation has been, “What environment are we inviting them to go into that they are excited, enthusiastic, and wanting to be here to run here, to collaborate, to storm, to create together, and to innovate together?” What started with COVID is that we all moved home, but the conversation we never had was, “What’s the culture that is portable?” What ported over was what your culture truly was.
There were signs of goodness like you were talking about where people would ask how people were feeling and take a moment. People said, “I got to get busy and I got to get working.” To ask someone how they are feeling takes an extra 5 to 10 minutes. I need to listen. I need to pay attention and I got to work. I don’t like my time. Now, I’m all about, “I’m working.”
What are we inviting people into whether they are in an office or they are hybrid? We are inviting people into an assembly line or sheet. We have to bring them into the fact that we spend more time at work than at home. They are bringing their whole lives, their whole selves to work, and so how do we honor that?
I thought there was a great example so we are launching an executive think tank, and there was a “For executive vice presidents only.” There was an EVP I was talking to and I thought this was genius. This is a great example, he said, “I know my people need to take care of their family, their dogs, pets, elderly parents, or no matter what it is. If I don’t implement that time, they are going to steal it from me. I got to leave early for this. I got to a doctor’s appointment. I’m going to spend a little bit more time on this,” but that’s not always 100% true.
He did an experiment. He said to his team, “between the hours of 3:00 and 5:00, I want you to monitor what you are working on. Is it urgent or is it important?” 10% was urgent and the rest was important. He said, “Out of that, that’s important, how much that could have been done in a physical office and how much of that could be done remotely?”
They found that 40% could be done at the office, but the rest you could do anywhere. He said, “When your kids come home from school, they come home between pretty much like 3:00 and 5:00. It’s when your kids are alert and awake and when they are perhaps even more desiring to spend time with you, then at night, they are tired. They are cramping and they don’t want to spend time with you.”
“Between 3:00 and 5:00, I don’t know if everybody put time for them because I know you going to work in the evening. Let’s shake it up. Find time to spend time with your family, find time to run the errands that you need to, and then come back to work and do what you need to do because I know you are going to give me your best.” He manages 800 people
If we did more of that, it’s how we examine what the work is working instead of putting ourselves in a prism of how we have been working, which we know doesn’t fully work. We have to reexamine the work and how we are working in order to know what works or not in your specific situation. You may work at one company. I work at another. What works for you is not going to work for me. If we did more of that, that would game-change the work environment.
I 100% agree. Even if it’s within the same organization, your family functions differently than my family. Maybe you don’t have kids or you have older kids and whatever it might be, everyone is different. I remember being in the car with my oldest son and it was after COVID. There was no traffic for a couple of years and then all of a sudden, we were going to the dentist’s office and it was 8:00 in the morning.
I’m like, “I completely forgot about rush hour,” and he’s like, “Rush hour? What is that?” I had to explain. “Everybody goes to work at the exact same time and then at the end of the day, we all come home at the exact same time.” He’s like, “Why does everybody have to be there at the same time? Is there a meeting everybody has to be there for?” “Liam, you are brilliant. You need to go on tour.”
It’s true. There’s no reason. Kudos to that EVP who understands and values that when his team members and their family members are happy, then they are going to show up to work, being happy to provide for that company that cares about them, and being emotionally ready. They didn’t just tell their kids to shut up and go away. It’s all so very important, and the flexibility in that. When I manage people, every single person is different. Their personalities are different. Their family personalities are different.
I work with a lot of designers. Sometimes the designers are fast but not as accurate. They want to be in at 8:00, be out at 5:00, and be done. I know that I can give all the deadline projects to this person because they are going to get it done. I have to pay attention to the details and make sure that everything is correct.
Over here, these designers will spend hours thinking. Their creative time is when they are on a walk or when they are in the shower. That can’t be tracked, but they are going to take a long time. They are going to have a much more creative output, but it’s a different project. It’s midnight and they go, “I got it.” They get up and they do the work at that time. I can’t expect both of those people to be in the chair from 8:00 to 5:00 because their productivity is different. That’s even taking family completely off the table.
I got a whole other dynamic. The thing when we were talking about hybrid work or work in general now is that we run a mentoring program inside of a global multinational. We were checking with the mentors and the mentees. As part of the mentoring program, we have sessions on a monthly basis that are not mentored, but people can come because we know that it’s a heavy lift for mentors to be a mentor.
We were talking and one of the guys said, “It should be called the therapistism.” I was laughing about it because we were laughing together and I said, “In all seriousness, here’s what happened. We are now in conversations with people in ways that we have never happened before about their emotions and their emotional well-being.
There’s so much data. We always needed to but only in 2020 did we have a willingness to bring it into the workplace more consciously because we were seeing a return on investment for work. You weren’t necessarily being a return on investment. At the end of the day, we have to remember something. It’s very important. I said, “It’s important that we do an index on the emotionality with people.”
This is the way the world works, and a gentleman named Julio talks a lot about this. In the world of performance, we should take action. We need the results. We lack the rhythm to take different actions, but we never do what we need as observers taking those actions. When I look out at the whole world, I see the world very differently than you do. It has me see certain action points and has me not see other actions to take. You could call that cognitive blindness or blind spots.
What it has me do is because of my upbringing, who I am, my experiences, the friends that I have, and the family that surrounds me. It gives me sight. What we do in The Ready Zone, especially in one of our zones, action ready, is teach people how you slip on and off lenses. It’s like if you are a photographer and you see through a telephoto lens, even if you are not in the context. With telephoto lens, you can see only one thing very close up. With an ordinary lens, it’s like, “Where did this one come from?”
How do we keep people? How to understand how to switch on and off lenses that we can see do in different situations. That is foundational to what we are talking about. Leadership is a game of sight, and so unless we are working with people on that granular level, when they lead or speak to them, then we can’t create sustainable results. Unless we take issue with the observer, we are never going to be able to see differently.Leadership is a game of sight. Unless we are working with people on that granular level where we lead them and speak to them, then we can't create sustainable results. Click To Tweet
I will give you an example. We talk about connect ready and we talk about how you engage in tough conversations. I put the discussion out. We are talking about, “How do I engage in conversation?” I make notes. I make bullets and I come and I talk to you. It’s the old way of doing things. The interesting thing is that one thing that doesn’t put away the observer, me, and the equation.
I can’t handle it. I don’t have any idea how you are going to react. People have something called the Five A’s. They stand for Aware, Accurate, Acquire, Accountability, and Action. The first day is, “What feelings am I aware of?” You journal all the feelings you are aware of. If I have a tough conversation with you, it’s paradoxical. I love you, I hate you, I’m upset, I’m happy, or whatever it is. No one’s reading this. It’s all accurate. What is the truth of the situation? Is it accurate or is it my personal interpretation?
How do you tell that?
I often put other people. If I put you on the stand of a court of law, you swear your hand on the Bible. What’s the fact? Very simple. When you look at it through that lens, facts tend to be fewer in number, but when I ask you what you make it mean. I’ve talked with an executive. She’s the president of a division that promoted someone to a senior vice president role and heads up this big footprint. She, herself, the president of the division has done what she can to get herself out of the weeds. She’s like, “I’m not in the granular work. My work is top level.” Highly aware of the woman that she newly promoted to a job, she said to her, “Can you be on this call?” that she had to take. It is going to be a difficult conversation.
This woman, the president says to me, “I don’t understand why I have to be there. It scares me. It makes me anxious that she would want me on this phone call. Didn’t I just promote her? Doesn’t she have good skills and the abilities to do this job?” “Let’s back up. Let’s look at the facts of the situation.” I said, “What are they?” She said, “She asked me to be in this meeting.” I said, “What else are the facts?” She said, “The facts of the situation, we are going to have to put someone some value.” I said, “Anything else?” “No.” I’m like, “What are you making me?”
“I know enough that Nicole has the ability to do the job. I’m going to be sucked into the weeds again. I’m going to have to do all this work I didn’t want to do. I have worked tirelessly over the last few months with you to make sure that I’m not grimly focused. Now, I was so invested in this person and I fought to get her promoted. Is she the right person now for the job? I’m never done.”
I spoke to her, “What’s the impact if you continue to see it that way?” “I will feel like I made the wrong choice. I won’t give her the chance to be the job.” I said, “What’s your intention for your relationship with her, and what do you want for her?” She’s like, “My intention for her is to succeed and get clarity.”
I said, “Your intention is to get clarity. What’s the conversation you are going to have with her now? What are you curious about?” She’s like, “I’m going to talk to her about what prompted her the invitation for me to join.” I said, “Great.” As humans, we are making machines. We are making other things because our brains are wired that way. When we were in the dinosaur era where you can find a saber-toothed tiger and the saber-toothed tiger came to me, I made in preparation that that’s dangerous, so I’m going to run. That race hasn’t changed since then.
We are still making interpretations all the time, but now we are doing it at work. We are doing it with our family, friends, coworkers, or boss. We are doing it on important relationships. We are doing it with clients. We teach people what we call the reality check. How do you know what’s true versus how you are interpreting the situation?
It’s simple. You look at the facts, what you are making it mean. What’s the impact if you choose to see it that way? You go back to your original attention. Now, what action do you need to take? That gives you a greater level of self-agency and self-authoring of your life rather than being pushed and pulled by your interpretations. It facilitates you to ground yourself to the, “Is this real?” I only know something is real when I choose to believe it.
I think that you are a nasty person because you did something. I don’t know. You moved the paper one way and I’m like, “I don’t know about that.” I choose to believe that you are a little dangerous. That’s the only time that my beliefs become something. They moved me into a different action. It moved me to not trust you. If the opposite of that was true, what if I would then stop myself and say, “She just moved a piece of paper? How does that make her dangerous? It’s not. Let’s give her a chance.”
The world becomes very different, and how I act or interact with you becomes very different. That’s what I’m talking about, the action and results taking issue with the observer and how we see it. It’s the results that we take. In one instance, if I look at it after she asked the question of her direct report in the wrong way because she’d be like, “What were you thinking?” That’s what she was going to do. She’s like, “I don’t understand. What is she thinking?” I was like, “What are you curious about? What are you even talking about?”
You brought up the example of moving the paper, but sometimes it’s a look or a tone. Sometimes it has nothing to do with you. It’s like, “I was mad at my boyfriend. My dog ate whatever,” and it has nothing to do with the situation. If you are not willing to go into that conversation with openness and a willingness to learn or have the conversation, to begin with, then how much deeper does it go? You are scared that your superiors are going to doubt you and it goes all over the place if you are not willing to go into it with open eyes, ears, and a little bit of curiosity.
When we teach people the reality check model, it’s such a relief because at any level at any point in time, anyone can do it. You don’t need a title. You don’t need to be a well-schooled with PhD in order to be able to pause yourself in order to self-author. It’s going to be game-changing in any environment, especially in a hybrid environment where all I see is you in a box. I don’t necessarily have the physical relationship with you and the bonding that we would have had outside of it. Now, I will make all sorts of assumptions that would impede and sacrifice the work. When you think about it, those conversations are vital because that’s what impacts productivity as a big element.
In all of your work, what do you think are some of the most impactful concepts or pieces of advice that you would give that come up on a regular basis? I would think that this is one of the biggest ones because this emotional intelligence of being able to pause for a minute, look internally, and question how you are observing changes everything.
What comes up is exactly what we talked about, reality check. At any level at any time, this comes up. The president of the division, the woman has 20 to 30 years of experience. It’s not about it. The reality check that I would also say is about, “How do we engage or have a conversation with someone where it’s coming from the right place?”
With the five A’s model we are talking about, if you are looking at, “What am I aware of that I’m feeling? What’s accurate my own personal interpretation? Acquire, what me and my mental part for this situation. Accountability, what’s my part?” I tell people, “If you think you are right, 0.5% or 1%, what would that be for you?” Let’s pay a flipper your part, and then what proactive action might take because sometimes it’s not even having the conversation. Sometimes it could be gathering more data.
Those kinds of tools facilitate a level of pausing because especially at every level and with the speed at which we are working, pausing is not optional anymore, and yet it’s a luxury. I have people all the time say to me, “If I pause and looked for a moment at what was occurring over there for them or occurring for me, it could have changed everything.”
“That will dictate whether or not I’m going to engage in the conversation. What’s the next action that I’m going to take? What the ripple effects will be? I’m able to think more thoughtfully” The elements that we are talking about right now are most things that come up again and again. Companies that work don’t have a strategy or vision. There are other things like that, but I would say on an interpersonal level that things that you can control are the things that we are talking about.
What are you most passionate about in the work that you do, that you get to do now? It seems like you are excited about all of it, having these conversations.
The biggest thing that I’m excited about is that the work we do is all around change if you think about it. There are more people willing to look at what creates sustainable and continuous change now than ever. People are willing to look at things that are not surface anymore. Lots of times people say, “We need to change management practices.” I’m like, “There are no change management practices. Everything, we change management now.”More people are willing to look at what actually creates sustainable and continuous change now more than ever. They are willing to look at things that are not surface anymore. Click To Tweet
If you are trying to figure out what your communication plan is, your communication plan is always now ongoing. How do we facilitate people knowing more? What things do we tell them? What things are important not to tell them? How do we cascade the messages because we are pacing with the environment and where people are and where the business is at?
Those are the things that I’m most excited about. We are launching this executive think tank for EVPs. One of the reasons why I’m so passionate about doing it is because, at that executive vice president level, you are right below the C-Suite. You’ve been given so much power, autonomy, and authority, but where do you go to refuel yourself?
At that level, you may have confidants and mentors. Where do you have a confidential, safe environment where people don’t know you? They are willing to challenge your thinking in a new way because they don’t know you. They don’t have a lot of experience. The group is cross-functional and cross-industry.
At that level, you need someone to be that direct with you. You are all coming from a similar level. Because you are thinking bigger, you are able to challenge each other in a way that’s incredibly productive to your work environment. You can come away from each session going, “I didn’t know that I would think that way. I’m glad I was challenged.” It will transform the work and how you are alluding.
It’s that outside honest perspective. Sometimes what you are afraid to say internally, you can share with people who have those same questions with their organization with a completely different business, different business model, same level, and the same level of thinking.
It’s good to have a group of people that can say BS about it. “Are you sure? I don’t know about that. Can we try that? That didn’t work for us. It sounds like a similar situation.” From a place where they are in a different industry, “Let’s take a look at this in a new way.”
Why didn’t it work for you? Why might it work for me? You’ve mentioned the executive circle a couple of times. Where can people learn about it?
What I would say, if you are interested in the executive inner circle group, go to TheReadyZone.com, and fill out our unique assessment. I will get in touch with you and we can have a conversation about it.
I know that you provide this think tank and other ways for individuals to get involved, and get into this group mindset, but you also work inside larger organizations to help them with all the things that we have talked about and more. I love the way that you think about business, the perspective, and the energy you bring to it. It seems like you love what you do and you love making workplaces better. Connecting people and making their lives better so that everybody can be more productive and the business and the individuals can thrive.
I love that and I honor all the work that you do. Thank you so much. One thing that I do like to add, you’ve worked with a lot of leaders and entrepreneurs. You’ve gone out and done this on your own after working for other businesses, small and huge. What advice would you have for anyone that is either looking to move up in their organization or start their own passion-based business? They want to go from being internal to being an entrepreneur.
I would say a few things. If you are going to be an entrepreneur, you need to understand what it takes to run a business. Your passion will reach a ceiling at a certain point. If you don’t understand the business, especially if you are going for funding, you don’t understand the mechanics of the business and how business works. You are going to be at a great service.
The second thing is that you need mentors around you that have been there and done that in ways that can allow you not just to see what’s possible for you, but also to see what someone else’s path was because it gives you hope and inspiration. The other thing I would say is important is to have people that can coach you in a pure way. When I think about coaching, it’s asking great questions, listening, empathizing, and also being trained as an executive coach. You need someone also to be able to facilitate the conversation where you can discover what’s true for yourself and not for them to make your truth their truth. They are your truth.
Those are the three most pivotal things. Even if you are in an organization, knowing how a business runs and being able to understand its mechanics will allow you to rise to look better. I can’t tell you how many creatives I know that do not know how it ties to the bottom line. Lots of the same goals apply even if you are inside the organization looking to level up.
I’m glad you mentioned that because I’m now working mostly in smaller organizations, but even as they get larger, if you don’t understand how a business works, not even specifically how your business works, then you have a veil over the decisions that are being made. You don’t understand why decisions are being made or why you get paid, or all the different things that make that business run the way it does.
If you understand the how, then you can better understand and provide better information and insight, and your skillset to improve that business as opposed to being angry about decisions or going back and asking questions is a big part of it. If you understand why and how the business is run, then you have a better opportunity to make recommendations or to understand why decisions are being made.
I will say one thing to caveat that, maybe round it out. We are not asking you to become a CPA. It’s not your skill set. We are asking you to understand enough and be willing to be educated enough and to say when you don’t know something. I can’t tell you how many times also financial terminology may go over my head or other people’s head, and you have to be able to say, “I’m not stupid. I haven’t been to schooled in this. I need to ask what it means so I can be smarter about it.” That’s it. We are not asking you any more than that.
Everybody always says, “Higher your gaps. Ask the question so that you know what they are doing and why, but higher the gaps, for sure. Don’t feel like you have to do and be an expert at everything.” Esther, thank you so much. You are awesome. I love you. I’m so happy to have had you on the show and I hope that we’ll have you again soon. We’ll get together. You have so much information to share. I’m so happy that your path led you to where you are because It’s such a natural fit. I can tell that you are passionate and excited about doing what you do and helping your clients thrive.
Thank you so much and I’m grateful to you for having me on. Thank you for this.
You are welcome. Thank you for reading. If you liked it, tell your friends, and follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn. The mission of MVP Business is to dig deep into the lives of true leaders so that others can follow, knowing that the path isn’t always easy, but the journey is worth it. Enjoy the day and live with passion.
Esther has her own podcast called Deeply. Simply. Human. and can be found HERE.