The Mastery of Skills with Olympian Kenny Selmon

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Every day, we talk to people about practice. And we explain that to become effective at communication, you have to work at becoming good at it. And we define mastery of a skill as those who become so good at a skill that you can count on their performance and outcome consistently.

And once you begin to talk about performance and outcomes, it’s easy to draw a parallel between mastery of a skill like communication and mastery of sports like the Olympics. And that’s what we’re going to do for you on this podcast:  connect the concepts of practice, mastery and outcomes. And accentuate the value of practice and the ultimate results of effort.

Because that’s what today’s guest has achieved.

Tune in to see what Kenny Selmon shares with guest host Hurst Williamson about the Mastery of Skills.

More about Kenny Selmon

Recently back from the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, Kenny Selmon represented the U.S. in the 400-meter hurdles. He began his track and field career just down the road at Pace Academy in Atlanta (where my claim to fame is that I overlapped in high school with him for one year!) and where he won the National Championship in the 400-meteres in 2014. Then he continued on to run hurdles at UNC, where he places 2nd in the NCCAA Division 1 National Championships in 2018 and set UNC’s record for the 400-metres.

After graduating from UNC, he won the 2018 USAF Outdoor Championships and the Athletics World Cup in London. And in 2021, he qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team.

Show Notes

  • Mastery of a skill is an individual that becomes so good at a skill that you can count on their performance and outcome consistently. The podcast today will cover the practice, mastery, and outcome. Accentuate the value of practice and the ultimate results of the effort.
  • Kenny Selmon, Olympic Athlete, USA
  • What were some of the most difficult hurdles to overcome on the journey of being an Olympic Athlete?
    • Covid Impact
      • Lost sponsorship
      • No access to tracks to train
      • Unknow future of the Olympics
  • What is the difference between intention and repetition behind the practice? How do you keep that intention when training?
    • Know your ‘why”, understanding why you are doing it. Your “why” gives you the full vision and picture
      • Know what you want even if you are struggling to find your “why”
      • When you understand what you want it makes the steps to get there easier and will lead you to your “why”
  • What is it like to consistently practice even when you’ve mastered the sport? How do you keep going?
    • Every day you must perform at the highest level, even in practice.
    • You don’t know if it’s going to work, all you have is faith and knowledge that your work will pay off.
    • Have a coach that knows how to get you there
    • Prepare for disrupters (rain, heat)
    • Must always be ready to perform, there are no second chances
  • What role does resilience play for the brand of an athlete?
  • The importance of personal brand
    • Book referenced at 14:56, Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand & Your Career
    • Genuine care to supporters – responding to text messages, listening, and understanding they are on the journey with you.
    • Everybody is competing with the brand and the personality next to you, how to stand out?
      • Understand that athletes are all people that have been given a gift. Always be a person first. It’s not about standing out, it’s understanding who the person is and being genuine. Be yourself.
  • Is there a brand that stands out to you? (Kenny)
    • “Brand” is connected to success
    • Allyson Felix for her brand to work so must continue to do well, compete, and win.
      • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allyson_Felix
  • Companies look for candidates that can show discipline and focus behind their experience. What are the parallels for an Olympic athlete?
    • Faith- What you can not see
    • Knowledge – You know knows what it will take, they’ve been through it
    • Delayed gratitude – Bad/hard days will be stacked up for one day of celebration
    • All of those experiences connect
  • Stoke – a free platform where people connect to chat about Live TV
    • www.stokeapp.live
    • Mission: Our mission is to virtually connect the existing communities that watch Live Sports, TV Shows, and more. We strive to create a fun and active social communication channel for Live TV that streamlines all the different conversations surrounding it.
  • Viewers pulled into the stories of Olympic Athletes. How has working alongside other Olympic athletes changed your perspective of storytelling and personal narratives?
    • They are all people and they have problems and lives, but their work is at a very high level. Understand they are all people at the end of the day.
  • Favorite story from the Olympics
    • Watching his coach live his dream
    • Knowing all structures were built specifically for that event
    • Organization and technological aspects of the event

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The Art of Coaching – How to Choose the Right Coach with Francie Schulwolf

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In the last year, millions of workers took early retirement, which created a band of less-experienced managers and leaders in most companies. It’s a great career opportunity and accelerated promotions for several managers. But it also pushes a less-experienced leader to learn how to drive while the car is moving, and it can create risks within a company when someone is leading who doesn’t have a bank of experiences to draw on.

That’s why coaching is a hot commodity.

A Coach becomes a trusted advisor to a new leader. A good Coach becomes a sounding board… and a confidante. A good Coach can broaden your thinking and help you solidify your options. And the best Coaches will help you expand your skills and your tools so that you can leverage the learnings even after the coaching relationship wraps up.

So, how do you find the right coach?

On this episode of What’s Your Story, Sally talks with her colleague and SW&A Executive Coach, Francie Shulwolf, about how they work together to identify the right direction and guidance for coaching clients. Francie has also been a recipient of coaching services from her previous leadership role in a large hospitality company. Over the years, she often says: “What we do here at SW&A is different. It’s so much richer in terms of takeaways.” So today’s podcast shares insights from both sides of the table.

More about Francie Schulwolf

Francie is an Executive Coach and Business Development Director at SW&A, and a former Communications Leader for a global hospitality company. Her focus is on developing strong, confident communicators. With close to twenty-five years of global, corporate experience in advertising, marketing and communications, she is intimately familiar with the demands executives face. This understanding, along with her honest and warm style, create a safe and comfortable environment for individuals to learn and grow.

Show Notes

  • In the last year, millions of workers took early retirement which resulted in a shift in the workforce, creating a group of less experienced managers and leaders.
    • A good coach can broaden your thinking and help you expand your tools.
      • How do you find the right coach?
    • Role of the manager has shifted
      • Managers are taking on a more significant role.
      • Distractions are gone, people are home.
      • There is more pressure to get things done.
      • People were being more intentional/more empathetic.
    • Do you need a coach if you have a mentor in your company?
      • Mentor sees you daily and helps you navigate the waters of your company.
      • A Coach provides you the valuable tools to enhance your leadership style and is a third party outside source that is focused on the individual’s leadership outside of the company.
      • A coach is results driven.
    • How to start
      • Decide what you need a coach for.
      • Coaches have the skillset to build leaders’ communication and leadership style.
      • Chemistry is important with the coach – Trusted relationships
    • Should you get a coach?
      • There is a difference between somebody who has experience vs expertise.
      • Coaches help you combine the two and become a compelling communicator and leader.
    • Tell your potential coach about what you are looking for
      • Most business decisions are not new decisions – a good coach has experience.
      • The coach brings insight.
      • Impressions are someone else’s perspective – insights shift to improvement.
    • Videotaping
      • Going through the before and after on the video – raise awareness of habits.
      • When you get out of your head and into the room, it shows.
    • Distinguish experience from expertise
      • The reason to go to a coach is the expertise in the final assessment.
    • The 4 things that help somebody align with a coach
      • Chasing chemistry – must have chemistry to get to a place of trust with a coach.
      • Insights vs improvement – get the feedback, doing something with it, have great awareness.
      • Balance experience vs expertise – What do you need to do to be better?
      • Inside coach vs outside coach – get a third party involved.

 

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The Big Pitch with Rachel Spasser

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This episode’s topic is The Big Pitch. And it’s a discussion of one of the most important presentations you may ever give. It has a definitive and measurable impact. It’s rarely shared with a large audience. And while the audience may be small, they are a critical one. Because their interest and reaction to the presentation may change the future of a company. And in fact, that’s actually the point. Today, we’re going to talk about “pitch” presentations. Those opportunities when a start-up, mid-size or even a large corporation wants to be acquired.

The Big Pitch is a different kind of storyline with huge expectations and potential disappointments. And when you’re the communicator, it’s a crash course in how to position your company in a story that will resonate and attract a buyer.

Today’s guest, Rachel Spasser, will share her insight into The Big Pitch as well as expectation and best practices.

More about Rachel Spasser

Rachel Spasser is a Managing Director and Chief Marketing Officer at Accel-KKR Consulting Group. Rachel provides strategic guidance as well as sales and marketing leadership across Accel-KKR’s portfolio. Prior to joining Accel-KKR’s Consulting Group, Rachel was the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Ariba, Inc., an SAP Company. With over 25 years of experience in marketing, business development and general management, Ms. Spasser has spent the past 20 years focused on the business-to-business technology space and speaks frequently on topics such as marketing strategy, demand generation and management and customer adoption marketing.

Show Notes

  • What are Pitch Presentations?
  • Rachel Spasser
    • Managing Director and Chief Marketing Officer at Accel-KKR
  • What is the market like today after an unprecedented year?
    • Q2 of last year was quiet.
      • Companies that were going into investment during Q2 pulled back to wait and see what the market was going to be like going forward.
    • Q3 through the end of the year was very busy.
        • A lot of capital in the market and investment firms need to deepen that capital.
  • Acquisition has become an essential part of the growth strategy.
  • Listeners and the buyers are financial backers and sponsors.
    • Listeners are the deal teams
  • Strategic side
    • Development department and functional leaders interested in acquiring that business.
  • Make sure you understand who the listeners are going to be prior to the pitch.
  • What are people listening for?
    • Expertise
    • Metrics of their business
    • Leadership and the team dynamics
  • Common mistakes in storytelling.
    • People fall short on the presentation itself by rambling or going deeper than the listener can comprehend and not reading signals well.
    • Data is important and should support the story you’re telling.
    • Telling the rearview mirror story rather than the forward story.
      • Backstory is great color and great context but there has to be context of what the future looks like.
  • Seller can make the story real with good examples and buyer can have a vision for tomorrow.
  • The deal makers and the bankers – most knowledgeable about the situation.
    • What role do they play?
    • The best bankers are the ones that can coach and bring the team along and develop a compelling way to bring the story along.
  • Communicator – or the seller.
  • Typically not a normal sales process.
  • Pitch is high pressure environment.
  • Salespeople are the most prepared for pitches.
  • The pitch team should consist of:
    • Key functional leaders CEO and CFO and senior leadership team
    • CTO
    • Head of Marketing
    • Chief Customer Officer
  • What do you do when your Chief Operating person or Executive is not comfortable in this space?
    • Don’t bring them into the room.
    • Hire a coach to help them feel comfortable presenting even a small part.
    • Investor is looking at the team asking “can these people get me to where I want to go?” and sometimes the CEO doesn’t want to go there.
    • Team showing up and showing well is important.
  • If the numbers don’t add up, it doesn’t matter how great the story or the pitch is and the numbers alone aren’t enough, you need both.
  • Having a good presentation where the investors can believe that the team can take the investment to where they want to go.
  • Investors are partners – It’s challenging to create this partnership virtually.
    • Have informal interactions, virtual drink online, relationship building
    • Third parties are important, references, customer calls, and we’ve adapted to Zoom and become better at it.
    • Video is important if you’re going to make it through.
  • Make sure to have assigned parts in a Zoom presentation to avoid speaking over each other.
  • The big pitch, does it make or break a deal?
    • Red flags will make the deal more difficult.
  • Use stories to bring your product to life – help the buyer understand why customers want to continue to work with your company. Data can support those stories but without those stories data is easy to forget. How do you make the story stick in a way that makes you and your company memorable?

 

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Disrupted! A Talent Acquisition Perspective

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Disruption happens every day across the corporate world. As employees, we experience reorgs, layoffs and acquisitions, and as disrupters ourselves we move cross country, chase ideas and challenge norms. But amidst all the disruption we all experience, some of us seem to thrive in times of turmoil.

These are the communicators who have mastered the two secret arts hidden within corporate disruption: learning how to establish a compelling brand and build an intriguing career narrative. They are skills that take time to perfect, but they’re the differentiator factors between those who are cast adrift from disruption and those who prosper from it.

We believe in this strongly…and it’s why we wrote our latest book: Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand & Your Career.

But don’t just take our word for it. On this episode, Hurst Williamson is joined by 2 Talent Acquisition specialists to share their perspectives on the trends they see every day and what makes a job candidate successful…or forgettable.

More About the Guests

Elisa Abner-Taschwer is the Talent Acquisition Manager at FORUM Credit Union in Fishers, Indiana. She has over 30 years of HR experience, primarily in Talent Acquisition. Elisa lives with her husband of 27 years and their Mini Golden Doodle, Max.

Lauren Baksh, M.Ed. is the Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition at Graphic Packaging International. She has over ten years of talent management experience in the manufacturing industry and currently supports her team with the design and execution of holistic recruiting experiences for US salaried positions. Lauren lives in Atlanta with her husband, two daughters, and two fur babies.

Show Notes

  • Careers are no longer on a straight and narrow path.
    • People will change their job/career 7-10 times throughout their career.
    • Interview determines if there will be a next change in a person’s career.
  • What does it take to make a job a candidate memorable or forgettable?
  • What percentage of people are good at interviewing?
    • Less than 5%
    • Not as many people are good at interviewing that think they are good at interviewing.
    • Those that think they are good at interviewing usually lack authenticity.
  • What goes wrong in an interview?
    • Lack of prep – didn’t know much about the company or the interviewer.
    • Lacked confidence – unaware of body language.
    • Lacked impact – didn’t understand their experiences well.
    • Prospective employee must be interviewing the company as well as being interviewed by the company.
    • Preparation will help a candidate seal the deal.
    • Good story tellers have better impact in an interview.
  • Virtual vs. In-Person Interviews
    • Same challenges exist in a virtual interview as an in person interview.
    • Candidates see virtual as more informal and have a low awareness of their setting and background.
    • Fewer people ghost virtual interviews.
  • When prepping for a virtual interview, consider it the same as if you are going to meet with someone – dress professionally
  • Potential employers encourage prospective employees to ask questions about the attire and the platform being used to the interview
  • How many resumes for a potential position are reviewed?
    • Far too many
    • 20-30+ resumes for an open position
    • 30-50 resumes
  • What really makes a candidate stand out?
    • Individuals who understand the organization and the culture
    • Candidates with confidence in themselves and the ability to have a good vision as to what they want in their new position
    • Candidates must be a good cultural fit
    • Candidates must ask questions in the interview and understand the opportunity
  • The most critical skills for a top candidate:
    • Problem solving and thinking
    • Collaboration and cooperation
    • Communication and influence
  • Advice to stand-out in interviews:
    • Translate the experience you had with the job you want to do. Think about things that you’ve done that have given you that experience
    • Update your resume annually and add accomplishments from the previous years.
    • Highlight how you work on a team
  • Candidates approach an interview very reactively
    • Understand the resume is a list – make sure to drive the interview and conversation
    • Have a reactive and proactive interview
    • Be prepared to  highlight your key aspects
    • Be able to shape your narrative and asked questions about the company while staying authentic
    • Come with questions to make it a conversation.
  • Employers are looking for people that want to work for the company not the job
  • Is there a war for talent? It’s a very favorable market for talent right now
  • Companies are trying to be the company that people want to join and understand that not all candidates are going to have 100% of the skills that are being looked for in a candidate.
  • Candidates must show up as their authentic self.
  • Employees own their development and the company and their manager are there to support the individual. Take a risk and it might change!

 

Order Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand & Your Career today here or on Amazon.

 

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!

Disrupted! A Talent Development Perspective

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Disruption happens every day across the corporate world. As employees, we experience reorgs, layoffs and acquisitions, and as disrupters ourselves we move cross country, chase ideas and challenge norms. But amidst all the disruption we all experience, some of us seem to thrive in times of turmoil.

These are the communicators who have mastered the two secret arts hidden within corporate disruption: learning how to establish a compelling brand and build an intriguing career narrative. They are skills that take time to perfect, but they’re the differentiator factors between those who are cast adrift from disruption and those who prosper from it.

We believe in this strongly…and it’s why we wrote our latest book: Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand & Your Career.

But don’t just take our word for it. On this episode, Hurst Williamson is joined by 3 Talent Development specialists to share their perspectives on what makes an employee a high-potential candidate and what traits they look for in tomorrow’s leaders.

More About the Guests

Alexandra Daily-Diamond is the Northwest Regional Talent Development Manager at Gensler, a design and architecture firm. In her role, she identifies people-focused solutions to HR challenges. She focuses on organizational and employee development and engagement, talent management, coaching, and HR strategies that promote wellbeing.

Hilda Curry is the Enterprise Learning Management Systems Administrator for Methodist Health System, a non-profit healthcare organization located in Dallas, Texas. Hilda has over 25 years of experience in corporate & healthcare learning and talent development, and has held a series of progressive positions in the training and development field.

Megan Breiseth is the Senior Director of Learning and Development at InsideTrack. Megan has worked in employee development since 2006. At InsideTrack, she coached online adult learners and eventually moved into Learning and Development leadership. During her career, Megan has built and managed learning programs that unlock the potential in coaches, managers, and support staff.

Show Notes

    • Disruption is happening across the board in companies and for employees. Employees no longer have a mapped-out career path.
    • Seek opportunities to expand your skills and repackage your potential.
    • What do companies think about talent development?
    • What percentage of the workforce has needed to do some kind of rest in 2020?
      • 100% of the team had a reset in priorities, personal goals, and how they do the work.
      • All training was converted to virtual learning, 10% of corporate employees shifted to work from home.
      • 100% of people’s jobs changed and circumstances changed. Staff neededg to focus on what is most essential for students and institutions to meet their basic needs. Prioritize safety, wellness, and how to set up systems to support employees so they could show up.
    • Pandemic aside – What other things would be examples of organization disruptions?
      • Integrating separate systems into one
      • Transition from for profit to nonprofit business
      • Change roles to be more scalable and sustainable
      • More efficiency changes in the workplace
      • Pandemic heightened changes that would have happened otherwise but pandemic made it more urgent.
      • Economy is a general factor in disruption. – Global company and global economic impact.
      • Companies are shifting to have a clear focus to elevate the human experience.
    • What is the organization’s responsibility in an employee’s development and what is the employee’s responsibility in that?
      • Company being intentional to listen and empower.
      • Employees seek out feedback on what the individual could do better.
      • Ask the questions that are going to get employees thinking deeply.
      • Empower employees to own their career and see themselves.
      • Have a specific program for leaders.
      • Offer employees training or tuition reimbursement.
      • Encourage them to play a visible role in committees.
      • Offer the opportunity to get input from coworkers and managers.
    • What happens when an individual hits a wall where they don’t have the skills they didn’t know they needed to advance but were still good at their current job?
      • Push employees to get the skill – many companies will work with employees to get them to develop the skills they need to continue.
      • Encourage employees to have a conversation with managers to get the skills they need.
      • Library of competency to get measured on.
      • The goal is to look within the company but they will be open to hire outside the company if a specific skill is needed quickly.
      • In times like this, a person would lose the job for somebody who has that skill if the employee has not done anything to grow.
    • When a person is having their potential assessed, being great at what they can do isn’t always a great indicator that they can stretch when a skill is needed.
    • Examples of employees that were hired from other industries to do a new job:
      • Head chef- great head of customer service
      • DJ as a sales person
      • Zookeeper as a head of operations
    • 3 key attributes that talent development looks for in any position
      1. Ability to communicate and influence others
      2. Agility during changes or times of uncertainty
      3. Problem solving and critical thinking
    • Debunking of the rumor of “There’s never enough “top talent”
    • Personal brand and feedback
    • The book goes over the importance of hitting the reset to create your brand you must make yourself visible.
      • Participate in programs.
      • Volunteer for outside organizations.
      • Champion specific projects.
      • Use talent and skills on a broad perspective.
    • Personal brand is how people think about and talk about you when you aren’t around.
      • Asking for feedback removes the barrier and opens it up for an honest conversation.
      • If you dread feedback, work on your mindset around feedback, your mindset will share your reality. We can’t grow unless we get negative feedback. Seek feedback and control the narrative.
      • Participate in a performance review for yourself and from your manager. Feedback should be given on a day-to-day basis.
      • Not all feedback is useful but it’s important to put yourself out there. Seek feedback from individuals that make you nervous.
    • You can’t grow without stress or change – everyone deserves to love what they do. Always seek to grow and chase meaning and purpose.

 

Order Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand & Your Career today here or on Amazon.

 

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!

Disrupted! A Podcast with the Creators: Why We Wrote It and What We Learned

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Disruption happens a lot across the corporate world. Sometimes, from a company’s perspective through realigning functions. And sometimes by employees themselves as they make choices to try different things. But whether disruption is caused by a company or an individual, it’s occurring more frequently.

And from our vantage point, we see individuals who aren’t ready for it…and aren’t good at resetting around a challenge or an opportunity that disruption causes. The book sets out to help individuals understand why disruption occurs and how to plan for resets.

This episode of What’s Your Story has guest host, Lia, who interviews Sally, Hurst, and LaKesha about book insights, highlights and maybe a few tips from the latest book, Disrupted! How to Reset your Brand and Your Career.

More about The Creators

Sally Williamson is the founder of SW&A and an expert in all things related to spoken communication. Sally brings more than three decades of experience, insights and a general love of connection to empower more than 15,000 leaders and managers to influence and impact any group. Disrupted! is her fourth book.

Hurst Williamson is the ultimate utility player who can uncover client needs, lead a workshop or weave an incredible tale. He owns every room and brings genuine engagement to communication. He is the heart of the career journey and a proud member of the generation most disrupted. But he sees it as an opportunity to tell your story and own your journey. And he’s helping many of our clients do just that. Hurst co-authored Disrupted! and it is his second book.

LaKesha Edwards is a life-long learner who loves research, insights and discovery. With a Ph.D. added to her own career journey, she questions what we’re learning and how we’re solving it. And with SW&A, she creates the steps to continue a development experience by thinking through what we learn, what we teach and how we coach. And quite frankly, she keeps us all on our toes. She led the research behind Disrupted!

Show Notes

  • Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand and Your Career
    • Disruption happens all over the world and it’s occurring more frequently.
    • This book sets out to help individuals understand why disruption occurs and how to plan for resets.
  • Why Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand and Your Career was written:
    • It felt like the right time for the topic and they had the tools to sell it.
    • As a communications firm they have a broad view of business change.
    • SW&A wanted to support individuals and how they deal with disruption.
    • This time, around wanted to include two new minds in the process to have fresh perspective about a topic that will directly affect their generation.
    • The timing of COVID-19 offered the space, insight, and necessity for this book.
    • This book has blended all their different talents together.
  • What was Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand and Your Career trying to uncover and discover?
    • Focus on developing the skills of current employees.
    • Noting talent strategies have shifted with business beliefs.
    • Talent acquisition is trying to bring in the needed talent to solve for gaps.
  • Where does that create insight for a reader or an individual who’s thinking through their own career path and development?
    • Talent Leaders have encouraged employees to take ownership of their own career path.
    • Training for employees to directly support company goals is 82%.
    •  8% of their time is focused on development outside of company goals.
    • If your interest does not align with the company’s goals, it will not be a priority.
  • Talent development is in charge of supplying the people to let that growth happen. Goals get narrow fast – if an individual doesn’t fit in the scope, they will fall behind.
    • Employees must take ownership to develop their skills to make sure they stand out.
    • Employees must not rely on somebody watching out for them- they must own their career.
    • There is not a master database of employee’s development, skills, and career goals.
  • How to stay competitive?
    • Feedback – is the best indication of what an employee’s file at a company is. Seek feedback to control personal brand. Seek feedback from individuals that make you nervous.
    • Personal brand is how people think about you and talk about you when you’re not around.
  • What are the critical skills needed today?
    • Communication and influence.
    • Problem solving and critical thinking.
    • Agility during times of change and uncertainty.
  • To be a better strategic thinker is to be a better strategic communicator.
  • Talent recruiters will look for talent outside an organization if specific skills are needed quickly.
  • How are disruption and reset related?
  • Disruption is what everyone feels.
    • It happens to everybody and at any time. Not always handled well.
  • The rest are the people who take control of disruption.
    • How they pivot.
    • The art of how you take disruption and turn it into insight.
  • What does reset look like?
    • Everybody will have to reset at some time in their career.
    • An individual will change jobs 7-10 times in their career.
    • Reset comes down to the interview.
    • In the Talent Acquisition podcast they were asked how many people are good at interviewing? Less than 5 percent.
  • Talent acquisition is competing for top talent. Many people don’t understand how to explain their skills through storytelling. Acquiring skills that fit a specific job is not always through traditional experiences.
  • In the book they look at different career levels early, mid, and peak career.
  • People are successful in reset if they have a compelling brand and a compelling career narrative.
    • 1st half of Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand and Your Career is about personal brand and coaching around feedback. It’s broken down between early, mid-career and peak career.
    • 2nd half pivots into a career narrative. How to think about organizing all your experience together. Mindset shifts on how you think and talk about yourself.

Order Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand & Your Career today here or on Amazon.

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Helping Tech to Talk Exec with Mac Smith

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From a distance, you could assume that product creation and innovation is easy because it seems to happen quickly. But you’d be wrong. It actually requires an army of technologists and engineers to keep innovation moving and to deliver products in a speedy fashion. And they aren’t alone. Long before a product reaches a build phase, there are multiple steps to analyze a market, identify a need and propose a product against a market opportunity.

Sometimes there can be a communication conflict between senior leaders and technical teams, and often, the outcome is a lack of understanding and buy-in. It’s why one of the key development needs amongst technology teams is learning to communicate with an executive audience.

On this episode of What’s Your Story, Sally is joined by Mac Smith, who leads Cross Portfolio Research for Search & Assistant, at Google. And he’s going to share his experience with why communication conflicts happen, and how they can be improved.

More about Mac Smith

Mac is the Head of Cross Portfolio Research for Search & Assistant at Google. He leads a 25 researcher organization on research programs that bridge Google Search & Assistant product lines. The team combines product support with cross portfolio programs and processes that increase the overall speed and quality of a 100 person research organization. Before this role, he was the Head of User Research for the Core Search Product, and has also previously led four other research teams for  companies such as Microsoft. 

Show Notes

  • Is there a struggle between executive teams and tech teams?
    • Much of the content struggles to connect at the right altitude to connect with the executive teams.
    • For tech teams who are thinking about how a particular product would work, much of the content in the area of comfort lies around their expertise:
      • The how
      • Data
      • Risks
      • Blockers – etc
  • Try starting with the main point instead of throwing details.
    • The experts struggle envisioning not having all the details to make a decision.
  • The challenge has always been there are repeats on different scales. What has changed as they increase scale is the amount of time the execs have, as well as the complexity they are dealing with has grown exponentially.
    • Perspective difference hasn’t changed – as the organizations have grown, the amount of time you have to make that decision has changed.
    • In smaller scale companies, you have more of an opportunity to work with those decision makers. As the company grows, it becomes more structured and you have fewer opportunities to make those connections.
    • Most of the leadership has spent a considerable amount of time as product engineers prior to becoming executives in tech.
    • It’s important to understand the complexity of systems that run your business so you can make decisions that bridge business, experience and technology.
  • The challenge is many of the engineers have never been in the executive position.
    • From the executive perspective: the aperture of their view, the connection, and the time have all changed – that is the biggest perspective.
    • Executive teams need to come in the door and think about what decision they will make that day.
    • Leaders connect dots. Looking at something a moment in time vs something over time.
  • For researchers there are two parts to the job:
    • 1. The craft of collecting information.
    • 2. The role of being an advisor and a steward of that information.
    • If you are advising or influencing a leader your job does not stop upon delivery of the information, you also need to help/guide that person (the executive) to make a decision.
  • The need for people to have effective communication in their roles has gotten greater.
    • Growth makes communication more challenging.
    • In the early stages of a company, you see more expert to expert conversation.
    • When the audience grows you are no longer having those expert-to-expert conversations. Growth requires you to evaluate how you communicate.
  • How does your expertise connect to the bigger picture, and can you understand the perspective of that executive to help them make that decision or fill in a gap for them?
    • What is the consequence of not being understood?
      • You don’t get what you want. You need to connect it to what the executive wants. If you give me this, you will get this.
  • What is the biggest consequence for not being an effective communicator?
    • Most executives see the company as one large team and they want that team to be successful.
    • If they don’t feel the idea is effectively being communicated, they will send people away and tell them to come back with more research.
    • The communicator must understand what is needed by the executive.
    • Time loss is the biggest challenge.
  • What are the common mistakes that happen over and over again?
    • Presenter starts the conversation from their perspective and misses context completely.
    • The takeaway is buried at the end of the conversation.
    • Presenter is not prepared for the drill down by the executives. Presenter must realize the executives want them to be successful and ask questions attempting to help. They are essentially asking the presenter to give them a reason to change or do something. In this scenario, tech experts miss an opportunity to connect with exec staff because they feel tested.
  • Most technologists want to be better communicators and the biggest challenge they face include being anxious or unsure about effective communication.
    • Tech groups are phenomenal learners, they work hard to make it fit and make it work.
  • How to improve skills as an effective communicator:
    • Start at the end, not from your perspective. Start with the end goal for the audience.
    • Encourage people to prototype their results that they need to get to and show to others. Modify based on their feedback to show the end that you’re going to hit.
  • Do stories have a place in technology?
    • Facts and data are not memorable – add a layer of storytelling to that data. It helps others to understand what you are trying to accomplish and connect to broader business perspective.
    • Set out the board context and framework – here is the what and how of this story, and then illustrate that with concrete stories. When you marry those two together- it takes a complex space with conflicting information and makes it very concrete and relatable.
  • If you learn to communicate well, the chances of you becoming one of the executives becomes significantly higher in terms of probability and speed at getting there.

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!

The Stories Behind a Purpose with CeCe Morken

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These days, we’re all exhausted. And it’s not just the physical tiredness of managing kids, virtual schooling, shifting work locations in a house, or balancing disruptions as our personal lives and workspace converge. It’s a mental tiredness and fatigue, and the effects are pretty dramatic.

It’s a good thing that companies were already working on body and mind wellness. Wellness support and training has become an integral part of many company’s benefit plans and training initiatives. The added stress and uncertainty of the pandemic has intensified the conversations about mindfulness, meditation, and a company called Headspace.

On this episode of What’s Your Story, Sally’s guest is CeCe Morken, President and CEO of Headspace, and she’s here to share The Stories Behind a Purpose, her experience with how she found herself in this role, and how to manage, inspire, and support a team virtually.

More about CeCe Morken

CeCe Morken serves as President and Chief Operating Officer of Headspace. She is a highly accomplished technology industry executive with 35 years of experience building and growing organizations, from start-ups to global, publicly traded companies.

CeCe joined Headspace after 13 years at Intuit, where she led multiple business units. She served as Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Strategic Partner Group, responsible for the accountant, financial institution, and enterprise platform business generating $700M in annual revenue — in addition to leading both the Corporate/Government Affairs and Corporate Responsibility functions for the company. Morken was also responsible for building strategic partnerships between Intuit and financial institutions, government and educational entities, and enterprise platforms, and also responsible for expanding global engagements, which doubled the velocity of contracts in the target countries of the UK, Australia, Canada, and France.

Before serving in this capacity, Morken led Intuit Financials Services (IFS). She led this business through a technology and business model transformation that moved the business to the number one ranking in share and product design across online and mobile platforms, leading the industry in open platform designs. Subsequently, CeCe led the strategic decision to divest the business and close the sale to the private equity firm Thoma Bravo in August of 2013.

Morken is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with majors in Economics and Business Administration, and attended the University of Chicago Booth’s executive development program. Morken currently serves on the Boards of GENPACT and NDSU College of Business.

Morken has also been recognized as one of The Most Powerful Women in Accounting (2017), National Diversity and Leadership Most Powerful Women in Technology (2017 and 2019), and has received the Intuit CEO Leadership Award in 2011, 2014, and 2017, and the Bill Campbell Coaches Award in 2018.

Show Notes

  • Headspace: Improve health and wellness of the world. This organization helps people build healthy routines through mindfulness in an app.
    • 46% of people over the age of 18 will have a diagnosable mental health issue
    • 60% of those are untreated
  • Purpose of Headspace: Corporate social responsibility and working in service for the greater good.
    • What is the impact of mindfulness thinking?
    • How mindfulness has changed the workplace
  • Study by Headspace:
    • 65% of employees report that most of the stress they feel is from work
    • 42% state that work/life balance is the greatest source of stress
    • 45% of those lose 2 hours a day because of stress
  • There has been an increase of CEO’s listing mental health and mindfulness as a priority in the workplace. With the emphasis on this from other companies there are positive results and improvement.
    • Employers need to enable people to bring their whole selves to work. Virtual environment has mad that difficult
  • The Headspace work environment is one to model. They offer the following:
    • Meeting breaks
    • No meeting days
    • Every other Friday off
  • Headspace offers support programs for companies and shares their best practices with their employees
    • Offer flexibility for the caregivers in the family to prevent losing women in the workplace
  • Mindfulness isn’t about taking more time, it’s about being present. It’s not about time, it’s about frequency. Being purposeful with your time.
  • Headspace got big names like Sesame Street, John Legend, and other celebrities involved.
  • Headspace Outreach
    • Working with Governor Cuomo’s office giving all New Yorkers access to their app for free
    • Worked with other states hit hard, early on, by the pandemic
    • Made their app free to every unemployed person, all health care providers, and educators
  • Headspace provides content like: music, stories, sleep casts, etc. All offerings are backed by science and clinical studies.
  • Headspace worked with Sesame Street with the goal of helping young minds develop healthy habits.
  • Hundreds of thousands have taken advantage of their app.
  • CeCe shared a Storytelling meditation clip from the Headspace app on Wisdom: Mind, Body, Speech
    • The clip covered intention, mindfulness, voice and body of speech.
  • How to manage, inspire and support a team virtually:
    • Best practices for management:
      • Don’t just ask “how are you?” ask “really…how are you?”
      • Start the conversation with their development, not just the business outcome
      • Be a good role model – take breaks, set up healthy boundaries
      • Ensure that you’ve got clarity of common purpose and do “less” better
      • Remind people why you are there and what you are focused on.
      • Speed – don’t wait for normal – make a difference and take advantage of the situation and lean in more.
      • How you spend your time is important, pick your career for the right reason.
      • Find purpose in your work.
      • Do something that makes your heart beat faster every day.

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!

The Wingman

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As a leader, your brand, style, message of the company, and the company itself are intertwined. SW&A coaches many leaders and considers themselves the “wingman” for people in leadership positions.

On this episode of What’s Your Story?, Sally talks with instructors Francie Schulwolf and Lia Panayotidis about their experience as The Wingman.

More About Our Guests

Francie Schulwolf: Francie’s focus is on developing strong, confident communicators. With close to twenty-five years of global, corporate experience in advertising, marketing and communications, she is intimately familiar with the demands executives face. This understanding, along with her honest and warm style, create a safe and comfortable environment for individuals to learn and grow.

Lia Panayotidis: As a lead instructor for our style programs, Lia focuses on raising awareness of individual brands and working with people to strengthen personal presence. She creates an insightful learning environment in each program and can make the most vulnerable discussions a little easier. She approaches each program with a natural joy of connection and fifteen years of diverse experience in training and development

Show Highlights:

  • As a leader, your brand, style, message of the company, and the company itself are intertwined.
  • Sally Williams and Associates coach several leaders and consider themselves the “wingman” for people in leadership positions.
    • Wingman means the person behind the leader who is focused on that individual to become successful.
  • Sally has spent several years speaking in front of groups and now uses the tools she learned in leadership and visible roles to help others.
  • Coaching is about observing others.
    • There is more joy in watching someone else succeed.
  • What is the role of communications as an influencer?
    • Having the ability to get people to deliver on a message they can get behind.
    • Understand every CEO has a different approach and skill set.
    • Being the voice behind the curtain that makes everybody sound really good.
    • Understand how to separate content from style components.
    • Practice and teach others how to become self-aware and develop self-confidence.
  • Coaching is all about connections and getting leaders to the next level.
  • What is done with the content collected?
    • SWA talks about celebrations and people.
    • SWA learns from each new leader they work with.
  • Coaches are trying to figure out what is going on and how to get their leaders/clients to that next place.
    • They work toward figuring out how to help them discover their voice and how to get them there.
  • What is frustrating as a coach?
    • Coming into a session and encountering apprehension from the beginning and an unwillingness to be open. When clients have their guards up from the start.
    • Seeing the potential that the coach knows is there and they are matched with resistance.
    • Clients who don’t realize the value of feedback.
    • Leaders who refuse to watch themselves on stage to learn.
  • What makes a great coach?
    • Chemistry.
    • Connection.
    • Relationship.
    • Creating a safe zone where clients can try new things.
    • Coaches who are still learning.
  • The clients that are remembered are the ones that really made a difference during the training.
  • The ones who grew a lot not.
  • Leadership is about:
    • learning what is happening in the room
    • Embracing the intent is behind what they are doing
    • Discovering how the listener is doing
  • Coaching is taking the love of people and development and putting it together.
  • How do you coach mastery?
    • You give them the tools and show them how to master it.
    • Encourage clients to be intentional about practicing.
    • Realize that each person’s goals are different and embrace it.
    • Ask the clients:
      • What do you want for yourself?
      • What do you see for yourself?
    • Success is gauged by audience response.
    • Helping clients realize it comes down to their own desire to master it.

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!

How Securities Teams Share Data Insights with Kim Keever

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Every communicator plays a significant role within an organization, but some of those roles get more visibility than others. Sales shares about customer insights, marketing relays their brand and product strategies, and something we’ve seen grow in the last five years, is that data security teams have become big communicators, with many CISO’s managing the communication to leadership teams and corporate Boards.

On this episode of What’s Your Story, Sally connects with Kim Keever, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer of Cox Communications, one of the leading cable, internet and home automation providers to talk about the increased demand for security insights and how she brings clarity to a pretty complex topic.

 

More About Kim Keever

Kim Keever is Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and Senior Vice President of Security, Analytics and Technology Services for Cox Communications (CCI) in Atlanta, Georgia. Her teams are responsible for all aspects of Information Security for Cox Communications; the Technology, Product and Operations Center of Excellence for Analytics; and for Technology people programs. Since joining Cox, she has built an industry recognized security team.  Additionally, the new Analytics COE has transformed the use of analytics resulting in significant cost savings for Cox. Her teams partner closely with Cox Enterprises, Cox Automotive and Cox Media Group. In early 2016, Kim’s team received an innovation award from CSO Magazine, and Kim was named a top woman in technology by Multichannel News. Each year from 2017-2019, she was named one of the most powerful women in cable by Cablefax.  She was a 2018 Women in Technology (WIT) honoree in the large/enterprise organization category, and early in 2019 she was named the Information Security Executive (ISE) of the Year for the Southeast Region and in November 2019 named the North American Information Security Executive (ISE) of the Year in the Commercial category.

Kim is a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology.  She is a member of several industry associations and boards including Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) and the FCC Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council V. She is active in volunteer organizations including Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Technology Advisory Board and support of homeless shelters located in Atlanta.

 

Show Highlights:

  • There has been an increased demand for security insights since 2014 because of large company security breaches.
  • Leaders started looking for an increase in security insights out of worry and wanted to know: what happened, how did it happen, and could it happen to us?
  • How do you talk to leaders about security without scaring them?
  •  We talk about security with a risk based approach:
    • Call out the highest risks first.
    • Do a little bit at a time.
    • Give them context.
    • Give them a comparison so they can better understand where the risks are.
  • There are two types of CISO’s:
    • High tech.
    • Business focused.
  • The ability to explain the technology in a business context and alert companies to what the risks are is important because it’s the most effective way to help CISO’s operate. Companies will be more likely to get buy-in and senior leaders will feel more comfortable with the security team.
  • How do you understand the magnitude of what to keep a watch on?
  • There are different areas in which data breaches are happening:
    • Bad Guys.
    • Nation State Actors.
    • Hack-tivists.
  • When you start talking about security and risk, you run the risk of making companies look bad as far as their security of data goes.
  • Don’t let your vulnerability be because of funding. How can you partner with other departments or organizations to get the funding needed to reduce the risks and fix the issues early on?
  • Don’t bombard your listeners with too much detail, give them the facts but don’t overwhelm them.
  • Train your employees on effective communication, and continue to practice it.
  • Be sensitive of the information you share.
  • Help clear up misunderstandings or potential misunderstandings.
  • When you speak about complex things, you may need to say them multiple times and tell them in different ways in order for listeners to fully understand and remember.
  • The security team is trying to educate the entire organization, more than just talking about security risks.
  • Hands on experiences have helped prove the need for heightened security. Finding ways to make security fun and interesting tends to help the content resonate with people.
  • A strong leader is someone that employees are willing to follow.
  • As a leader, hire people who are smarter than you and have diversity of thought, those who are independent in their work and want to do the right thing.
  • Give employees opportunities to keep them engaged, allow people to own their own space, and let them grow in their career.
  • Keep your employee’s best interest in mind, and always keep an open dialogue.
  • Security is a great field to get into. Having a background in technology helps, and this career is in high demand and won’t go away.
  • Be willing to gently show people that they may not be doing enough in one area.

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!