Claim Ownership


Author: Stephen Matini

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Pity Party Over is a podcast for people, teams, and organizations seeking practical ideas for results and happiness. Pity Party Over is a happy place where you can listen to great stories of human development and get inspired to overcome some of your long-term challenges. Hosted by Stephen Matini.
30 Episodes
Today, we deep dive into the topic of reframing our thoughts. In this episode, leadership expert Tammy Heermann explores the power of mindset and its influence on behaviors and outcomes.  Tammy openly discusses her path to mastering discernment and conquering perfectionism, advising that we begin by clarifying our vision and the impact we aim to make. Women in leadership can effectively challenge biases and shift perceptions by employing strategic questioning and adjusting their communication approaches. Listen to this episode of Pity Party Over to learn how to acquire a positive, successful mindset by crafting our internal narratives. Spotify - Apple Podcast - Amazon Music - Podbean - Pity Party Over is also available on Castbox, Castro, Deezer, iHeartRadio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Player FM, Pocket Cast, Pod Bay, Podbean App, Podchaser, Podvine, Postcast Addict, Stitcher, TuneIn Subscribe to Pity Party Over - Sign up for a complimentary Live Session: Managerial & Leadership Development - Contact Stephen - Connect with Stephen - #tammyHeermannn #reframing #reframingthoughts #mindset #strategy #management #leadership #leadershipdevelopment #podcast #pitypartyover #stephenmatini #alygn   TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: You are an author. When that idea came to you, how did it happen? Tammy Heermann: It was more like when I worked in the consulting company. And so part of my job was to write and to blog and to speak. And because I had two authors that were, you know, on the team, Leanne and, and someone else, Vince, I kind of saw how it worked. And so I think the difference between, you know, fiction, I believe you need so much creativity, you do need that inspiration for business books or self-help books is more like how do I get everything out of my brain that I've learned in the last however many years in a way that is digestible, entertaining, relevant, credible, all of that. So I think it's a very different process than a fiction where, you know, you are literally inventing characters. And for me it was like, okay, you know, this'll be an important tool for my business. It's something I thought, can I do this? But I think it's a bit different than fiction.   Stephen Matini: Was it harder or easier than you anticipated? Tammy Heermann: Oh, way harder. And I think it's not just the intellectual, like it's hard, you know, it's hard to, to actually write. It was more the emotional challenge that surprised me, the ups and downs and as you're kind of reliving all your own stories and you know, you dig deep in like, why do I think this way wasn't my childhood, what bad bosses have I had? What critical moments have I had? So it was very, very emotional. And then it happened during the pandemic. So that was a whole time in life for everyone. That was tough.   Stephen Matini: Do you feel that you have become somehow a different person, a different professional as a result of going through the process or writing your book? Tammy Heermann: I think it just solidified for me, you know, I have some insights to share, some wisdom. I, I think it just gave me confidence that, you know, my experience is valuable.   Stephen Matini: You know, a lot of people would love to write a book. A lot of people would like to start businesses. A lot of people have all kinds of dreams, you know, in the drawer. And somehow for whatever the reason they, they stay there for the longest time. What made you finally hop and do it? Tammy Heermann: <Laugh>. I think it was a challenge. So Leanne and my other boss, they really believed in me. So apparently I can write, well, I don't enjoy it, but you know, it was something that I was fairly good at. And she said, I'm taking one of your articles and I'm gonna give it to publisher. She was working with. She said, can I do that? I said, sure. And they gave it and they said, do you think there's something here? And they're like, absolutely. And then, then it was just up to me to say yes or no, okay, am I doing this or not? She kept saying, Tammy, you have things to share with the world. Like, like you kind of owe it to people to share it. And, and so I was like, okay, I'm doing this.   Stephen Matini: How did you come up with a title? Because the title is such an important thing. Tammy Heermann: Yeah. And so that's where it really helped to work with an editor. And so part of my process was with the editor, my whole philosophy on learning and, and everything is about our mindset first and we have to dig into that. And so I knew it was always going to be something around mindset or reframing or rethinking or rewriting our story, whatever it is. So, you know, we had the, what the concept was, but then landing on it is just a whole lot of brainstorming, trial and error, living with it, testing it out with people saying it, here's my book I'm writing, here's what it's called. How does it feel? Do they get it? So you kind of almost do a lot of testing as well. I think in the nonfiction space, that's an important thing to do. I think in, in fiction it's probably less relevant to test it with other people.   Stephen Matini: I have the same thoughts that you have only God knows if I can write. The process is enjoyable for the vast majority. And it, and it gets really enjoyable when I stop thinking about it has to work, you know, someone has to like it, it has to be perfect because that would dampen the whole thing will really ruin the whole thing. And so I learned that this is my journey, you know, for this to be anything, it has to be something that I personally enjoy. And then we'll see. Tammy Heermann: Yes, I'm an author but I'm not a writer. I wouldn't, I don't get up and love and write and love to write. They who are writers would say is just get it out, start writing. Don't edit yourself. Don't like just go with with the flow. That's exactly what what they say to do. And the most prolific famous authors, they have editors like that's their job. Like no one writes something perfectly and it's ready to go. You get your brain on paper and then there's other experts who help shape it. That's their job, right? That's their expertise. So you're doing exactly the right thing and just get it out.   Stephen Matini: Have you always known that at some point you would've written a book? Tammy Heermann: No, definitely. It was never a goal of mine. You know, I grew up in a, a rural part of Canada. I wasn't that kid who said I always wanna do this or be this and I experimented with a lot of things. I wanted to do something creative, hairdressing, makeup, fashion. And then I was playing working in a bank and a teacher. And as you know a lot of kids do. Now that I reflect back is I love learning, I love new, I love change. Like literally I love throwing myself as we were talking about in the middle of a random country or area and just going, okay, let's figure this out. So I think I was kind of destined to work in terms of helping others learn and accept change and growth. And I'd say some pivotal moments. The first time I had been to Italy and it was in grade 12 and high school, my senior year of high school. Tammy Heermann: And I remembered not just being blown away with being in Europe but with just seeing that there was this vast world, it opened my eyes cuz you know, so many people don't leave their areas <laugh> and I come from a very large family and very few people have kind of left the area and I was just in intrigued by this wide, wide world. And so that was certainly an event. And then later on in graduate school, again I returned to the UK and and did my graduate studies and I was just surrounded by people from all over the world learning. When I think about what shaped me and when I was destined, it's like how do I help other people love learning and growth and change and do that with a global lens.   Stephen Matini: When you say learning and learning, curiosity, those are words that resonate very, very strongly with me. And so I would say that's my personal mindset. And hearing you, it seems to be your case as well. You talked about before the importance of mindset. When you say mindset, do you mean a specific mindset or the mindset changes from person to person? Tammy Heermann: So I think it changes. So, so here's how I think about it and it even goes before mindset. And this is, you know, well documented with psychologists. And so our values and our beliefs, those things that we're kind of indoctrinated with shape our mindsets kind of how we walk into situations and then it shapes the behaviors that we engage in. And then of course that reinforces the values. You know, beliefs, mindsets, there's this cycle and sometimes that cycle helps us and sometimes it doesn't. So I grew up in this family very hardworking with a, you know, the strong work ethic of a farmer and that is fantastic. Like who would say that's a bad thing? And and I remember hearing my dad say, okay, you know, if you're gonna do something, do it once and do it right. And I remember him spending hours on things and perfecting it and it sounds great, doesn't it? Tammy Heermann: And you probably know where this is going until I get into this office environment and you're leading these huge teams and you have 80 projects happening simultaneously, <laugh>. And you can't do that. You can't have that mindset of touch, everything, make it perfect, touch it once, you know, do the the best you can on everything. You just can't. And I remember a critical moment where my boss at the time took me and he said, Tammy, he said, you can't keep going like this. You can't do everything perfect. You have to understand when good is good enough. And he said, by the way, your good
Self-discovery is one of the most exciting and scary journeys, where we navigate through self-doubts and societal expectations to unveil the best in ourselves. Our guest today is Dr. Helen Rothberg, a renowned Professor of Strategic Management and author of the book “The Perfect Mix,” in which she shares valuable lessons about management and leadership she learned while bartending. Dr. Rothberg states that only after mastering the art of self-leadership can we authentically connect with and uplift those around us, fostering an environment of trust, growth, and collective success. Join us in this episode of Pity Party Over to learn how leading ourselves is the first step toward leading others through change. Spotify - Apple Podcast - Google Podcasts - Amazon Music - Podbean - Pity Party Over is also available on Castbox, Castro, Deezer, iHeartRadio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Player FM, Pocket Cast, Pod Bay, Podbean App, Podchaser, Podvine, Postcast Addict, Stitcher, TuneIn   Subscribe to Pity Party Over - Sign up for a complimentary Live Session: Managerial & Leadership Development - Contact Stephen - Connect with Stephen - #helenrothberg #theperfectmix #self-leadership #strategy #management #leadership #leadershipdevelopment #podcast #pitypartyover #stephenmatini #alygn   TRANSCRIPT   Stephen Matini: You know, I'm curious to ask you something. Why did you get four different degrees? That's a lot!   Helen Rothberg: Oh, and nobody should do that. It's like a letter of salad. When I was coming up in the field of business, it was a time when there were really not many women at all in senior suite. There were almost no women in strategy at all. So there's two reasons. So I felt I needed more credibility than perhaps my male counterparts would need to prove that I was worthy of working at that upper echelon of management.    I also found the whole education process patriarchal and very Darwinian. I went to all public institutions so they were kind of survival of the fittest. And most of my mentors were much older, cranky, older men. And I just didn't know if I'd be able to stomach it <laugh>, you know?  So if I couldn't finish, I at least wanted something along the way that I could use that would help me do what I wanted to do. But luckily, you know, Nietzsche says that which does not kill you makes you stronger. I got to the end of that rainbow and it's really been a golden career for me. So no complaints. But yeah, no one should ever get four graduate degrees. It's just, yeah.   Stephen Matini: So you did not have any female professors, just guys?   Helen Rothberg: In all of graduate school, I had one female professor. The majority of business faculty were men. Strategy wasn't even an area. That's one of my terminal degrees really until that time, you know. Michael Porter's book came out in 1980, “Competitive Strategy” and that became all their age. So I was kind of that first prop of strategy. PhDs. There was only one female, she didn't get tenure, so she left.   Stephen Matini: When did you decide what you wanna pursue professionally?   Helen Rothberg: That's a loaded question, right? So it sort of found me, but I kind of understood the kind of life I wanted to have when I was really young. Here's what I learned about myself. When it's 75 and sunny, I have to be outside. So I needed summers off.  I also am the kind of person, I learned something pretty quickly and then I get bored and I need to learn something else. So when you put together what can you do that will give you freedom and the ability to always do new things? My two choices were consulting or academia and consulting had a lot more money attached to it. Really as a consultant, you make 10 x of what you make as a professor. But I realized two things about consulting. One, the consulting agency owns you, which means your clients own your time. Clients tend to believe everything is in emergency, so they don't care if it's at night or a weekend or a holiday. I also wanted to do something bigger. I wanted to do something. I think it's important to help companies operate better. I've been a consultant and professor simultaneously for over three decades. I wound up doing both, but I chose being an academic as my full-time, not only because I could then have my summers, but because I could really influence the future. And to me the future is working with young minds.  So that's how I kind of chose that. And business, I never took a business class until I got to graduate school and I fell into it by accident. I was pre-med as an undergraduate, I realized I didn't wanna do medicine, so I went into psychology and then I realized psychology had the same kind of chains on you, on your heart, you know, trying to help people who aren't getting better. And then I fell into something called industrial psychology, which I got bored with in about six seconds. And then I found organizational behavior and that was really interesting to me because it was the same thing I did when I was a bartender. You're managing people and groups of people and all of their different needs. And then I found strategies. So, and I found it because it was one person I was working with as part of my fellowship for my doctorate who loved Michael Porter's book. And he said, read this, it'll change everything. And it did.  So then I did a dual pathway of both behavioral science and strategy. So the strategy thing found me, but the decision to go into academia was about working with people who had hope in their eyes and believed the world would be a better place as opposed to only working with executives who were pretty whiny. And having my freedom and always having it change. Every a hundred days my life changes cuz the semester's over. And even if you teach the same course, the personalities are different. You know, the world is different. So I feel very blessed. It's been a great ride.   Stephen Matini: A friend of mine told me that years ago she said, I think you would like teaching. You know, teaching is for losers. That's what <laugh>, that's what I said, you know? And then she said, no, no, no, no, I think you're gonna like this. And so she said gimme your resume. And she gave it to someone who administered the department, business department in a university here in Florence. And then after, I don't know, eight months, they called me and I taught the first class. And I remember the first second the students came, I fell in love with the whole thing. And I did not expect, you know, to feel the way. But there's something really genuine, open, you know, very vivacious about students that you do not find, you know, working with with all the people, you know.   Helen Rothberg: I agree a hundred percent. There's something magical that happens when people ask me, what do I do for my living? You know, what's my profession? I tell people, I help young people find what's magnificent in themselves.  Because if they could find what's magnificent in themselves, they'll know they could do anything.  And there's that moment, and I'm sure you've experienced this, you can have 30 60 students, it doesn't matter. But there's a moment where some of them get this like   in their eye, something clicks into place, everything changes in their outlook. And to me, this is the most addictive drug watching somebody wake up. You're right. And it keeps us vibrant and young. It makes sure we don't get stale. We always have to be contemporary. And I mean I learn as much from my students as they learn from me. I think.   Stephen Matini: Have you always known what is magnificent in you?   Helen Rothberg: No, I did not always know that. That's such a good question. You know, now there's a language for it. They call it imposter syndrome. But I always was very competent, go-getter happy go-lucky on the outside. And on the inside I always had self-doubt. I doubted my intelligence, I doubted my worthiness, you know, and that comes from a lot of our histories. I'm sure you know, I'm not the first person to talk about something like this.  And even as I became more and more successful, you know, I was once accused by a student in my graduate program of you know, you get what you get because you're charming. It really smacked me between the eyes and you know, yeah, I was a bartender for 10 years and I know how to work with people, but I also, I don't think I got what I got cuz I was charming. But it always was like that little voice you wanna smack but comes back. And to be honest with you, it wasn't until could tell you the exact moment. 2005 after my co-author and I, Scott Erickson published our first book called “Knowledge to Intelligence” and Harvard reviewed it and I got an email from somebody that Harvard, they have an online like subscription service also that, oh my God, Harvard just reviewed your book and I stared at that link for 20 minutes.  I was so afraid to open it because even though I was a tenured professor and you know, I was going up for full professor, here it is, I'm gonna be exposed now. Right? And I opened the link and I cried because they liked the book. They thought the book was smart. I called my co-author who goes to bed early, oh my. And I'm crying hysterically thought like my cat died or something. I'm like, they like the book. And it was the first moment I really understood that, yeah, I do know things and it's not just because I could be charming and it really helped me grow in every way professionally, spiritually, personally.  I was confident in kind of a bullheaded way, but now I could have a soft confidence that I didn't have before. And it shifted how I taught a little bit. It s
In today's episode, we'll be shining a light on ableism, a form of discrimination faced by people with disabilities, whether physical, mental, or cognitive. Our special guest is Caroline Vernon, a business coach and diversity, equity, and inclusion champion. Caroline opens up about her connection to ableism, sparked by her sister with Down syndrome.  Caroline highlights the importance of creating inclusive environments where individuals with disabilities are empowered to thrive.  Listen to this episode of Pity Party Over to learn how, by advocating for accessibility and fostering empathy, we can build a more equitable and compassionate world. Subscribe to Pity Party Over - Sign up for a complimentary Live Session: Managerial & Leadership Development - Contact Stephen - Connect with Stephen - #ableism #d&a #diversity #inclusion #equity #neurodiversity #carolinevernon #podcast #pitypartyover #stephenmatini #alygn TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: So professionally, how did you get interested in what you do today? Have you always been in this line of work, or is this something that has evolved? Caroline Vernon: You know, I've been in the world of work in regards to employee engagement and coaching, and so it was just kind of what I'm doing now as practice leader of a coaching organization. It just made sense. It, it was a natural progression, natural transition to focusing on something else.  You know, within the world of work, I've always had an interest in coaching and I've always believed in the power of coaching. So it was a natural transition to go from employee engagement and selection and talent acquisition and career development into career transition and more into leadership development as well. Stephen Matini: And I wanna ask you, as someone who does also coaching in the whole field, let's call it learning and development. I've done training, I've done different aspects, but then I've noticed that the only thing that still gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction is coaching. What are you find in coaching that maybe you haven't found in other aspect of our field? Caroline Vernon: Just that authentic relationship, those authentic conversations. They can be raw and I really like to help people and empower people to find their authentic voice because, you know, a lot of people never go there <laugh>. They don't explore that side of themselves. They don't take control of their own destiny as far as their careers are concerned.  So being in career coaching specifically really has been a really powerful experience in my career. To see people that have never even spent time developing themselves or even thinking about their path or their career journeys to where they end up after coaching and how they see their careers differently and how they plan to empower or advocate for themselves in the workplace. I just, it's a really powerful experience to me. Stephen Matini: The one thing that I love the most about coaching, it is probably the same reason you pointed out it, just the genuine conversation. And I love the fact that in that relationship we can be ourselves. That can be very transparent and open, and I really love the fact that I can provide that space for people which often they cannot find in other parts of the job. You become a brilliant advocate of people and their singularities and anything that they stand for. And how did you get interested in, in ableism, which is basically, you know, the first topic that you and I talked and when we met, Caroline Vernon: I have a sister with Down syndrome and I have always been her interpreter throughout her life. So when I heard about the concept of ableism, and it just was something I was naturally drawn to, and I really sunk time into learning what ableism actually is, how it shows up in our daily lives, how it shows up in the workplace. So that's my experience with learning about ableism.  I read an article one time, that's really where it started, is this article, I know there was no malice of forethought and it was supposed to be a beautiful, joyful experience. In the article, the gentleman that wrote the article expressed this joyful experience or shared this joyful experience about his brother, but he shared the words, my brother is a low functioning downsy. A lot of people call people with down syndrome, Downsy. They say this down syndrome person or not person with down syndrome. That's where the first vision of ableism came to life for me. It's like the slow functioning downsy. There was a picture of him holding a baby and the quote was something like, nobody has ever let this boy hold our family's babies. This gentleman goes on to say, I did and it was a joyful experience and he's a low functioning downsy, and it really stuck with me for a long period of time.  And so I wrote a long article and posted it on LinkedIn about ableism and how just those words, how they impact people with Downs syndrome, how those, how labeling them as a low functioning downsy continues to perpetuate the stigma and continues to marginalize this group of individuals. And that's really where I vowed to never use language like that about my sister and to educate people around me to never use language like that. And the reasons why, you know, how hurtful that is to that community, Stephen Matini: You know, in the fight, you know, for diversity and becoming aware that we all come in different ships and size, oftentimes language become this displaced that some people perceive to be some sort of a battlefield. You know? And now I cannot say this term, I cannot say that term. I get censored if I, if I use it. So, and I, and, and I agree that it's really important to be sensitive to the words that we use. In your experience, ableism can be combated purely based on being aware of language or what else has worked in your experience? Caroline Vernon: Being aware of how the language actually impacts the people that it's referring to or that's it's speaking about, but also how it impacts people around you. I've heard the word, this is a terrible word and I, I only use it in this, the R word.  So I'll, I'll use it once and then I'll refer to it as the R word. Yes, retard. I've heard that used still today in the workplace as far as we've come, we haven't come as far as we need to. And I don't care actually who uses it. I will always speak up and say, that word offends me. That is a hurtful word that we used in, in our modern language for many years to actually describe somebody, you know, with down syndrome or rather neurodiverse with other neurodiverse conditions. And it's a hurtful word. And it, like I said before, it further marginalizes this certain group of community or or certain group of people, you need to get away from further marginalizing this group. Stephen Matini: You know, I wanna ask you ableism and this is something that I'm asking you out of sheer ignorance. Is ableism connected also to ageism or other type of issues or, or specifically is connected to neurodiversity? Caroline Vernon: It's specifically connected to neurodiversity, typically. Ageism is its own beast, just like racism is its own. And ableism refers to those that have diverse abilities. So not necessarily ageism or racism. Stephen Matini: You know why I'm asking you this? Because recently I got trained by this phenomenal woman who focuses on ageism. We are supposed to deliver a training in fall about this one. There's a client, there's a company that essentially has a difficult time attracting younger people and keeping them, you know, she's gonna be one who provides some basics about ageism, how that works. And so she explained to me all the, you know, psychological, sociological ramification on that. And then eventually we have to come up basically with a plan, you know, with the participants to start slowly changing the culture so that can be more inclusive. And a lot of the things that she covered somehow reminded me of the same challenges that I've seen you know, for racial discrimination or even things that, that you share with me. Caroline Vernon: I don't think it matters if it's racism, ageism, or ableism. It's any of those situations are like a dark cloud. You know, they cast a shadow that can never be escaped from unless we educate one another and we advocate for those that this language or this discrimination is targeting its impact, whether it's ableism or ageism or racism or sexism. Its impact is relentless and it's deeply emotional. So it's one of those situations that even though it has its own word, the impact is the same. Stephen Matini: To make things even worse, <laugh> and more complicated is the fact that this conversation has taken epic proportion. You know, particularly in some countries like the US has become very polarized around the notion of what is freedom of speech? The fact that a certain words, it should not be used that way or should not be used at all. As some people feel that just censorship. What are your thoughts about, you know, what about really freedom of speech, this ridiculous conversation that is happening? Caroline Vernon: There is a fine line between freedom of speech and using ableist or racist or, you know, sexist language. It's about respect. It's about fighting for dignity, and it's about not further stigmatizing that community. It has turned in very political. I'm not not sure why it's been associated with woke culture. It's not a political issue. It's about respecting one another. Each of us have a diverse ability. It's about empowering each other and lifting each other rather than using language that tears each other down. The awareness of it is the most important aspect of it. It has nothing to do with, you know, whether you're on the left or the right. It has everything to do with being
The guest of this episode of Pity Party Over is Simona Curci, an organizational development practitioner who has honed a practical approach to managing change from many years of helping people, teams, and organizations. Simona believes that change is a dynamic process that resembles a dance requiring forward and backward movements. Sometimes, the best option is to stay still and let things be as they are so people can adjust. Simona points out that you can’t force everyone to move in the same direction with the same tempo. If you push too hard, you may end up creating more resistance.  Listen to this episode of Pity Party Over to learn how to find the perfect rhythm to navigate change successfully. Spotify - Google Podcasts - Apple Podcast - Amazon Music - Podbean - Subscribe to Pity Party Over - Sign up for a complimentary Live Session: Managerial & Leadership Development - Contact Stephen - Connect with Stephen - #change #changemanagement #simonacurci #opossumstrategy #danceofchange #podcast #pitypartyover #stephenmatini #alygn #leadership #leadershipdevelopment #managementdevelopment
Visual impairment and blindness are major public health issues worldwide, especially in low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organization. In West Africa, blindness prevalence is a pressing concern. Resilience takes many forms. In this episode of Pity Party Over, Dr. Abbey shares his passion for ophthalmology, challenges, and the profound impact on patients through relentless optimism and resilience in a context with limited resources. Join us in this episode of Pity Party Over to learn how accountability and acceptance pave the way to incredible transformations.  Spotify - Apple Podcast - Google Podcasts - Amazon Music - Podbean - Subscribe to Pity Party Over - Sign up for a complimentary Live Session: Managerial & Leadership Development - Contact Stephen - Connect with Stephen - #resilience #optimism #elieabbey #togo #africa #ophthalmology #eyes #eyedoctor #podcast #pitypartyover #stephenmatini #alygn #leadershipdevelopment #managementdevelopment TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: So how are you? How's your day? Elie Abbey: I have had a great day. I was operating this morning. I just finished, I changed place because you know, in morning I used to work in another one hospital and now I, at my own facility, I finish operating at 1:30 PM Here is 3:30. Stephen Matini: How do you keep the stress of being a doctor down? Elie Abbey: I think it is just because I love doing that job, paying attention and not to be too much involved and I take care of work balance. Also, I used to manage time to be able to, you know, do different things like playing tennis, writing, being involved in different activities. Stephen Matini: Have you always known that you wanna be a doctor? Elie Abbey: <Laugh>? No, I first have my, you know, L level. The L level is here in Tobo we call it <inaudible> is three years before university. Then at the end of the three years you, you pass on exam and you have the A level.  In French, we call it baccalauréat. And after that diploma I decided that I’ll become a petrochemical (engineer) I was interested in engineering and science, but my father was like, oh guy, you are young, you should go to medicine studies. It can be good. Then I was like, okay, we wanna do, you know something, I'm not going to do medicine. I'm not going to go for medicine. Only I will take the exams of in January school and medicine. Then fortunately we started medicine courses two weeks before starting in January exam. I liked medicine after the two weeks and I decided to spend medicine. Stephen Matini: Can you imagine if the opposite had happened in your life? Could have taken a completely different route. Elie Abbey: Yes. Stephen Matini: Like, you know, if you started out engineering and you like that one. Yeah. Elie Abbey: Yes, sure. Stephen Matini: How is to be a doctor in Togo? Elie Abbey: Oh, being doctor in Togo is such a privilege. You know, people respect you a lot, but you are not well paid as a doctor in Togo. It is a privilege and building your own career, but it is one of the best profession here. People like doctors, people like their children going to medical school. Stephen Matini: And how did you decide to become an eye doctor? Why did you choose a specialty? Elie Abbey: Oh, yes. Becoming eye doctor, I decided when I was in my sixth year of medical school. Then here in Togo you have to do eight years of medical school to become general practitioner and after that you decide to go to specialty for four or five years.  Then when I was in sixth year, we were doing ophthalmology courses and after two courses I was sure that was my future specialty. Then after the course I came out with the teacher and I told him, I wanna be one of your fellows in few years .  After that I finished the studies and I worked one year in a rural hospital, a big hospital where I practiced surgery, rheumatology surgery, gynecology surgery, and general surgery. Learning, working with, you know, specialties, auto traumatologist surgeon and then I work in that field for a while and I knew that I love surgery, but I don't want to be stressed like a gynecologist or a surgeon being stressed every time.  I have been comfort in my choice because you know, in ophthalmology you can do a clinic, you can do surgery then, and it is a very soft specialty. Yes, very, very useful. Then after one year working there, I decided to go directly to specialty and I have had a chance that one ophthalmology center here in Lomé wanted someone to work with them. Then they decided to support my studies and that is the whole story. Stephen Matini: I've always wondered how medical students choose a specialty because I have a lot of friends who are doctors, you know, and they tell me the stories I what you just said, you know, I tried a bit of this, a bit of that, maybe I'm going to pursue this route, the other one, and I've always wondered how you choose a specialty, but it must be some sort of a calling, something that pulls you in. Elie Abbey: Yes. When I was doing my thesis for general practitioner, sure it was not that easy. I decided to do it in oncology service because the teachers there, the mentors are very, very smart and help you work very fast. After the thesis, they were like, why won't you come here to be specialized in oncology or an auto pathology?  And I was thinking about it, but finally I don't think it'll be the good choice because someone like being in contact with people and that specialty would be a laboratory specialty. I'm not sure I would be very, very good with it.  I consider different specialties, but finally the only one who fit with me was of ophthalmology and you know when you want something the universe work with them and I have that very, very good opportunity to go directly to specialty. After one year of experiencing the peer, then yes, it wasn't that difficult. I haven't struggled a lot, a lot, a lot before going to specialty, even if in the choice and the opportunity, it was very, very, very fast. Stephen Matini: What are some of the most common eye conditions that you see as a doctor in your patients? Elie Abbey: An ophthalmology, the more common eye conditions are, you know, classic conjunctivitis, but the more serious, the more serious issues are glaucoma and cataract here in Togo. Glaucoma and cataracts and that two pathology driving people to blindness. Cataract can drive equal to a curable blindness, but glaucoma is very, very damageable for people's vision because when you lose your vision by glaucoma, it's not possible for the moment to cure it. Then we are most of the time in prevention and treatment at early, early stage of the disease. Stephen Matini: As I was preparing to talk to you, I ended up in the World Health Organization website and one of the data that I thought it was interesting was the fact that in West Africa there are something like 60,000 people living with blindness. So there's a lot of preventable blindness work that I assume also you as a doctor you're involved with. Elie Abbey: Sure. Let me give you another statistic. In Togo we have 200,000 people waiting for cataract, cataract surgery, population of 80 million. You have 200,000 people waiting for cataract surgery here, and we are not that much surgeon to cure the people. Cataract surgery help cure cataract, which is not like glaucoma. Glaucoma is, you know, you lose your vision definitely, but in cataract we can cure it. Then this blindness in west Africa, I think the data are sure for non-curable vision problems. Yeah, issues. Stephen Matini: How do you deal with these challenges, you know, in a place where resources are more limited, let's say compared to other countries? Elie Abbey: The challenge is a daily basis challenge. You have to be every time giving your best because for example, in this week I would have to operate four days. Today I operate tomorrow afternoon, I will operate Thursday morning, I will operate Friday afternoon, I will operate because the need is huge. And when you know that the need is huge, you should be more committed than when you know everything is okay. Yeah, there is no huge need. I like seeing people following day of the surgery when we remove what we, we used to cover the eye after the surgery, people can see.  You see a smile and like you can see their life have just changed. I don't know how to quantify it, but it is a real motivation for me. Every day when I'm walking, even when I'm tired, I say to myself, I say to myself that what I'm doing is very important because this man or this woman I'm operating tomorrow, his life will change then I think it is sufficient to be facing all the challenges to build that up. A great project to be able to be more impactful in people life then yes. Stephen Matini: You know, in these past few days you are the second person who tells me that I do what I do because I love to see people smiling. And the other person who said that is a musician, you know, is a violinist, you know, who I interviewed a few days ago, someone really special, a wonderful person and he said I do what I do because I hope through my music to make people smile, you know? And you're saying the same through your job as an eye doctor.  I wanna ask you as far as the cultural context of Togo, you know, how does that impact the perception that people have of you as an eye doctor? Elie Abbey: People like me because I made myself available for everyone. I'm not, I'm like them. They like coming to someone can give them a solution to their problem and you know, I used to deal with different classes of age of patients.  When I operate people sometimes there are 60 years old or
Are you curious about how organizational culture can foster kindness and transform challenging interactions? Today's guest on the podcast Pity Party Over is Michael G. Neece, a renowned author, speaker, and business strategist. In the episode, Michael takes us on a journey through his own experiences, where he discovers the value of kindness. He unveils how this remarkable virtue has shaped his understanding of human motivation and workplace dynamics. We explore the impact of kind awareness and the realization that we seldom know the true motives behind someone's behaviors. We also delve into the power of intentional choices and their ability to bring about positive change in any situation. Join us on this episode of Pity Party Over to learn how being intentionally kind to ourselves is the first step toward establishing meaningful relationships. Apple Podcast - Podbean - Spotify - Stitcher - Podchaser - Amazon Music - Subscribe to Pity Party Over - Sign up for a complimentary Live Session: Managerial & Leadership Development - Contact Stephen - Connect with Stephen - #kindness #workplacekindness #transformativeconversations #michaelneece #michaeleneece #inkind #thepowerofkindness #conflict #assertiveness #boundaries #podcast #pitypartyover #stephenmatini #alygn #leadershipdevelopment #managementdevelopment TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: Michael, when did you realize for the first time that you want to focus on kindness? Michael Neece: Kindness has always been very important to me. I think I mean, an awful lot of us are raised believing that we should do unto others as they do unto us, right? I mean, it's the, it's the golden rule. We, we all hear about it when we were young. And I think, you know, you, you go through life and then at some point you meet that first person that is not so nice to you, and then you, you wonder what do you do, right? I mean, how, how do you handle that situation? And, you know, do you abandon that idea ...n ideology? Do you abandon that belief system or do you double down on that and somehow find a way to navigate? Stephen Matini: Did you get interested in kindness also when you were younger? Or is it something that evolved as a professional? Michael Neece: It's something that I had to really reevaluate as a professional, because you get into the working world and you find that there are people who misinterpret your actions. There are people whose actions are mystifying. And so it was, it was really after, oh, I don't know, two or three really embarrassing shame filled hard moments in the working world that I, I really had to look at kindness again and say, what am I doing wrong? Well, you know, what's, what, what's, what's the problem with how I'm doing it? Or am I, have I abandoned it? And yeah, that was, that was a big problem as well. Stephen Matini: I believe in the power of choice, and so every single time that we face a difficulty or someone being unkind, we do have a choice in terms of which route to take. What makes people take the kind or the unkind route in your experience? Michael Neece: I think it's like money. If everybody believes that these pieces of paper convey some sort of value, then, then they do. And as soon as people start having no confidence in it, then you have a run on the bank. And so the whole idea of, you know, you're, you're there and you're trying to be kind to somebody and they're being cruel back, and you can't just tell, you can't tell if they're having just a bad day or if this is a much deeper, you know, longer lasting issue.  So you, you kind of look around and you see what other people do in response to the conversation that you're having with this person. And if it seems like I, I, if it seems like you're going to get support, then I think people double down on the kindness. And if it looks like you're not gonna get the support, then it's very easy to fall into that trap of trying to fight fire with fire. Stephen Matini: Do you think that organizational culture plays a role in this? Michael Neece: Oh, without a doubt. You know, I've, I, I'm currently at a company where we, we have our core values and we put them up on the wall, so to speak. You know, it's, it's on every part of our intranet. We have meetings about it. We have you know, leaders come and talk to us about situations where it wasn't working so well and what did they do.  And I've been at other companies where you have no idea what the culture is supposed to be, and so it's just kind of whatever people make up in that particular office. And that's a much more uncomfortable situation because it just takes one or two people to turn that in a very strange direction. Stephen Matini: Is it possible to turn any workplace into a kinder workplace? Michael Neece: See, I think that's the beauty of kindness is that it is your superpower, Stephen. It is my superpower. It is everybody's in the kindest part of your heart, I think that you can always reach for it. It's easier to reach for, if you've just been to the spa, it's easier to reach for if you've, you know, just awaken, you know, just awaken to your day and you've had a very nice breakfast. I think, you know, the later in the day that it gets, or the less self care you indulge in, the harder it is to find that superpower inside of us. For sure. Stephen Matini: As you compare yourself now as being someone who's focusing on kindness compared to how you were before, what has changed? Michael Neece: Ooh. So earlier in my career I definitely had a couple of failings. And, you know, a notable one was when I was very fresh into the working world. I believed in kindness. I believed in doing und undo others, you know the best way that I could. It started off like any job. It had a lot of promise, a lot of hope. I was told, oh, you're the right person for this job.  We really expect this is gonna work well. And then people started coming to me and telling me how bad the boss was, and I said, no, no, no, no, no. We'll, we'll work it out. We'll, we'll be together as a team. It'll be fine. And, and so I brought my idealism to bear, but I didn't have any sense of realism at that moment. And so I started watching as these bad behaviors really unfolded, and these things that I really didn't wanna see in the workplace. And so my own kindness practice was not strong. I hadn't had to flex my muscles in the kindness arena before, and suddenly I was, you know, opposed to this person who oversaw every aspect of my work. And I did not respond well, I, I responded quite badly, actually. You know, the, I, I tried to hold the line for a while, but eventually I had you know, I joined the core of angry voices. I became one of the whisperers in the, in the corridors talking about how bad the boss was. It wasn't until I was sitting at his desk looking across the table at him that, you know, and he was, he was repeating back to me one of the mean things that I had said that I thought he had no way of knowing. It wasn't until that moment that I realized how badly flawed my strategy had been. Michael Neece: Yeah. For the next oh, 15, 20 years, I, I started really researching. I started trying to understand what motivates people, how is it that people can fall into the different traps that we fall into? What are the unspoken undercurrents of all of the meetings that you're in and how to spot those. And so I just, I went on this sort of whirlwind self-education tour trying to understand how to do things better. And so I would definitely say my, my kindness practice has evolved quite a bit since that bad situation, sitting across from the boss and trying to, you know, try, trying to figure out where I had gone astray. So, yeah, no, I'm, I'm very thankful for the fact that I, I decided to double down in that direction. It would've been very easy to simply say, Nope, I'm just gonna fight fire with fire for the rest of my career. And that's apparently what the working world is. And and I'm glad I didn't go that direction. Stephen Matini: As you're talking, there are all kinds of ideas and memories that come to mind, or situations that I personally went through. Is it easier to be kind or to be unkind? Michael Neece: I think both things are easy. I think both things are quite easy. I, I think what you turn into a habit is the thing that you're going to reach for. It's, I'm gonna, I'm gonna confess something here to all of your listeners, which is really embarrassing. But when I hop into the car and I know I have to commute for 45 minutes or for an hour, the way I started my driving when I was 16 or 17, I saw it as a game.  And for every gain that I made, getting in front of somebody, getting ahead, going fast, I saw that as being very, very sexy. Very good, very happy. You know, it, it, it's only been in the last maybe several years that I've been able to look at my driving practice and say, what if that person who's trying to cut me off and is trying to go fast, is trying to get to the hospital to say goodbye their last goodbyes to a dying relative? Well, now that I've reframed everything, now I'm fine with anybody getting in front of me. I'm fine with letting people, you know cut, you know, cut and go fast and, you know, do, do the little shortcuts because I, I don't know their situation. I don't know why they're acting the way that they're acting. And for me to assume that me getting to the pharmacy is more important than whatever they have to do is silly.  I, I don't know that for sure that, you know, that being said, I don't like having people cut me off. And I, I'm glad to get out of the traffic , but but your, your question of which one's easier, I think it's, which on
Despite our differences, what brings all of us together, is our shared desire to be heard, supported, and loved.  The guest of this episode of the podcast Pity Party Over is Stuart Ross Carlson, a violinist, violist, and music composer with autism who displayed his enormous talent from a young age.  Stuart shares his unique experience with synesthesia, a condition where he sees colors when he hears music, and his mission to support neurodiversity and inclusion in education, the arts, and the world. Listen to this episode of Pity Party Over to learn how to inspire others and create a more inclusive world where everyone feels valued. Apple Podcast - Podbean - Spotify - Stitcher - Podchaser - Amazon Music - Subscribe to Pity Party Over - Sign up for a complimentary Live Session: Managerial & Leadership Development - Contact Stephen - Connect with Stephen - You can access music from Stuart Ross Carlson on all major streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, YouTube Music, and many others. You can learn about Stuart Ross Carlson on Stuart’s website, Facebook and Instagram: #stuartrosscarlson #stuartcarlson #violinist #violist #violin #viola #music #purpose #mission #annarborsymphonyorchestra #mottchildrenhospital #autism #neurodiversity #yoyoma #billieeilish# katyperri #arianagrande #cristinaaguilera #beethoven #mozart #tchaikovsky #podcast #pitypartyover #stephenmatini #alygn
Are you tired of feeling burdened by responsibilities that aren’t yours?  The guest on the podcast Pity Party Over is Molly McGuigan, a Positive Change Practitioner and Appreciative Inquiry Expert. Molly discusses the project she co-founded called “Ditch the Ditty,” which aims to help women overcome unnecessary responsibilities and obligations.  Ditch the Ditty explores ways to raise awareness of when women can say yes or no to things and the importance of valuing oneself.   Join us on Pity Party Over and discover how to release yourself from the weight of responsibilities that don't serve you. Apple Podcast - Podbean - Spotify - Stitcher - Podchaser - Amazon Music - Subscribe to Pity Party Over - Sign up for a complimentary Live Session: Managerial & Leadership Development - Contact Stephen - Connect with Stephen - #conflict #assertiveness #boundaries #mollymcguigan #ditchtheditty #positivepsychology #appreciativeinquiry #podcast #pitypartyover #stephenmatini #alygn TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: When did you find out about human development that was gonna be your focus of interest? Molly McGuigan: I, you know, I don't know that there was a moment. I feel like it's been a journey and that journey began really when I graduated from college. I went to school in Cleveland as well. I went to John Carroll University, and then after college, I, I worked for a company that did experiential training and development, and I sort of fell into that.  I was working at a summer camp for kids with diabetes and I got interested in doing work on the Ropes Challenge course. So sort of the out, you know, the out Outward Bound type work that where you have kids that are going up and, you know, learning about climbing and, you know, high, high-end trees and, and teaching them about leadership, about overcoming challenges and things like that. And so I got really interested in that, probably more so from even the outdoor education and working, you know, working with kids aspect of it. Molly McGuigan: I didn't really think a whole lot about how that impacted human development or organization development at that time. A company that I started working for right after that, that put the, the challenge courses in and did all the training for the challenge courses for the camp, I started working for them right outta college and wow, it just opened my eyes to this whole world of human development organization development teams.  And I quickly got very interested in, in just how all of that worked, gave me the chance to to start to travel. And we started working in bigger organizations like Ernst & Young and, and things like that. And that took us all over the place. And so it was really interesting to meet people from not all, all over the country, but all over the world. And so I became, you know, became intrigued with that and that's where the journey began, and it continued for, for decades after that. Stephen Matini: And then the whole positive psychology approach, how that one came about in your life? Molly McGuigan: So I was working for that company Executive Edge, and we, because we were based in Cleveland, we, we had a connection to Case Western Reserve University, and we decided to take a program on appreciative inquiry.  And so it really just, we, we knew actually about appreciative inquiry and about the work of David Cooperrider because we had been doing work with his sister Don Dole in the experiential world. She was actually one of the facilitators for some of the work that we were doing with Executive Edge and decided to, to take a, take a workshop. So three of us went from that organization and took a foundation's workshop with David Cooperrider. And that's where I first learned about appreciative inquiry.  And again, just sort of another part, another milestone in the trajectory of my work was learning about how organizations can use this powerful methodology to, to plan to, to embrace change, to engage people. And it was just such a, an interesting and, and different way of approaching that work. And so I, we quickly started to implement that and use that within the, the work that we were doing with clients. Stephen Matini: When I work with clients, I noticed that their traditional mindset is very much problem solving. Assess the situation, come up with the strategy, and then different actions, and appreciative inquiry focuses on strength. So it's a really different approach. When you deal with the client that never dealt with appreciative inquiry before, is there a specific way you would like to introduce it? Molly McGuigan: I usually talk about a couple of things. I talk about, first of all how I think based on the premise that in every organization something is working, it's important to not throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak. You know, we talk about that concept of really allowing some of what has worked well to come along, even as you're planning and thinking about the future.  It's very different from organ how organizations orient, especially when they're thinking about change or coming up with solutions to big challenges. You know, they don't necessarily think about it that way. We're, we're really wired to think more deficit minded. And so I, you know, quickly sort of orient them and help them understand how different that is. I think the other thing is that for me, all about bringing the right people to the table. And again, another way that organizations often embrace change or, you know, some sort of a complex challenge is that they get a group of experts together or a group of leaders, and they're quickly moving in the direction of, of something that is really sort of facilitated by that smaller group of, of people.  But you leave so much out, you leave a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge, a lot of expertise out of the conversation, and you also lose the opportunity to bring people along with you to into that moment, into that moment of change, into that next phase of work, whatever that is.  Even if you feel like you have all the answers, which you probably don't , it's so important to allow people to sort of step into that space, to, you know, to really be engaged with that and feel like they are part of, of whatever it is that's gonna come next. Stephen Matini: Why do you think that so often leadership seems to be not fully aware of the strengths and the people and the resources that already has, and so feels compelled to go outside to the expert, to the consultant that magically he's going to provide you with the perfect formula. Molly McGuigan: I always, I love it when, when organizations don't feel that way and when they're like, we know we, we have all the answers, , and the answers lie with from within, but it doesn't often happen. You know, most, a lot of times they are sort of looking for that. I think, I think it's cuz they're looking for that sort of quick fix.  They think that there's this magic bullet out there, right, that's gonna change and be new and different. And the reality is there's really not that much that's new and truly innovative in the world, especially in the world of organization development and leadership development and things like that. There's really nothing that's really, you know, different. It's more of a, a reframe or a repackaging of things that we've known all along. But they are looking for something that brings some, some new thinking in, into the equation. And they don't necessarily, it's not that they don't value their people or that they don't think that they have strengths. I think that they assume that they don't have something new because they are, you know, they're in the system. They're sort of married into that whole to how things are being done and they don't have that new provocative thing to, to think about.  I mean, I I love to think about the fact that, you know, sort of take this combination of people. It's not that one idea, it's the idea that's connected to another idea that's connected to another idea that does spark something new and innovative and something that they haven't really thought about before. Stephen Matini: Why would you say that has been one of the biggest lessons that you learned from change? Molly McGuigan: I think the, the biggest thing, and I continue to remind myself of this, is that, you know, the organizations are, as I think David Cooperrider said early on, you know, they're systems of human relatedness. It's all about relationship. The sooner we've sort of realized that it's really about the humans, it's about the human side of, of how people are interacting with each other, how people are relating to people.  And you know, every, every organization sort of has its own unique way of approaching that in the way of culture and how culture comes about. And and maybe in the way that they actually work together and things like that. But really at the end of the day, understanding what is important to people and what drives them and what makes them connected to each other.  And, you know, so much of the work that I do ends up being about that. It does end up being about, you know, sort of a, maybe a process around something, you know, that's new or different and bringing people together and sort of dec and, and deciphering around some of the politics and things like that. But at the end of the day, it's really about sort of lifting up and figuring out what is it that's most important to people and what are they gonna be energized by and excited about. Stephen Matini: When you deal with the culture, an organizational culture that is very extremely task oriented and somehow the human component doesn't have that
Today's guest is Puneet Sachdev, a global people and culture leader passionate about leveraging data, technology, and humanity to create inclusive and innovative workplaces.  In a world of incremental technological changes, Puneet believes staying close to people is the key to success.   In this episode, Puneet will share his views on the existing shortfalls in how organizations are developing senior female leaders. Puneet talks about Shakti, which is the principle of divine feminine, and how it can help bring balance to leadership in a world that is still predominantly masculine. Listen to this episode of Pity Party Over to learn how to close the gender leadership gap in organizations. Apple Podcast - Podbean - Spotify - Stitcher - Podchaser - Amazon Music - Subscribe to Pity Party Over -   Sign up for a complimentary Live Session: Managerial & Leadership Development - Contact Stephen - Connect with Stephen - #leadership #change #femaleleadership #shakti #divine feminine #puneetshadchev #podcast #pitypartyover #stephenmatini #alygn TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: You lived in so many different places, so many different countries. What have you learned from all these traveling and all these experiences? Puneet Sachdev: When I look back on this and who I am as a result of it, of course one of the things which comes from doing that and having, like you said, lived in four or five different continents, worked in all over US, UK, Europe, Asia, Australia, a bit in Africa as well, actually Botswana off for very short period of time.  I think you have to have a lot of tenacity or you will develop that. Because remember each time you go in a new context, some situations I've had to go and create my life there. And then you have to start networking and you're dealing with a lot of stereotypes, a lot of mental unseen barriers. That's one thing which I have learned that just constantly have to be upping your game, build your networks, try to find people who understand who you are, what's your value proposition. That's one.  It makes you very adaptable. It just makes you extremely adaptable. You can be, you can hit the ground running in utterly, I can talk myself that hitting the ground, running in no time is absolutely becomes a part of, you know, who you are in.  In a way it's adaptation for survival as well to an extent. The challenging side of that is that networks, friends, because when you go to these places, they are people who you would like to hang out with, but they have their local schoolmates college friends. You gotta be there for a long period of time. And then also it depends on the culture. So I think it's you know, it's been a number of these different things. So it's, it's got it ups and it's got it's it's downs as well. Stephen Matini: Have you always known that you wanna be in change management, leadership development, or is it something that unfolded over the years? Puneet Sachdev: Not really. Stephen, no. My dad's from the Indian Navy, the area in which I grew up, whatever, where, you know, when finishing off college school in, in the nineties, the middle of the nineties and all of that, there were very few options available.  There was in India, the engineering, doctor, lawyer, armed forces, rights? So mainly these were where you would get the jobs. I have a very, I had a very impressive uncle, my mother's brother, Tenesh Tata. I mean, until today, I don't think I met anybody else who was as impressive.  Very charismatic, very handsome guy, dresses up extremely well. Very intelligent international chap, one of the pioneers in the hospitality business in India. One of the first few people to go overseas to Salzburg and study and come back and he joined the Roy Hotels as a management trainee in their first batch in the 1970s. I think subconsciously that was planted that I want to be like the mau. That's what we call Uncle Mau in India. I finished my college and then I applied just for that program. Nothing else. I just applied for The School of Management. Now it's called The Center for Learning and Development. I actually don't know what I would've done had I not got selected for that way stringent the talent acquisition process. But two thousands of people apply and they hire only 10, 15, whoever they think would be general managers down the line, right?  I think I was one of those eight or 10 who managed to make it that year. That's the way life started for me. Transition into OD work, which I do right now, people, culture, organization development, change management. It wasn't a part of my plan. I was doing very well where I was. What happened was General Electric was ramping up, scaling up at India considerably. Okay. This is I think like two thousands now.  One of my fathers grand, Dr. Cherian, he was a management consultant in organization development working globally. He had suggested, why don't you think about stepping out of the hotels into corporate?  So yeah, the transition was completely happenstance, but I love the work I do totally, you know, number of things, right? Which for me, create flow at work is connection with people is very important for me to know that, to have a sense of contribution into the world, into people is important, it creates that to me.  As far as I have the ability to do that, to be creating the solutions I design to be, to bring in research, to bring in technology, work with smart people, solve problems. I'm happy , honestly. And I think the choices that I've made, it has given me all these options. So I really think it's been really lucky to have been doing all this work for so many years. Stephen Matini: You have traveled hard, you have worked hard. Because you have seen so many different cultures, you have experienced at so many different organizations. From the perspective of someone whose specialty is change, you know, is organizational development, have you noticed any elements that seem to be consistent across all these experiences? Puneet Sachdev: It's very easy to now get squared data driven and tech and all that. Fantastic. I think it has its place, but we don't want the tale to act the dog in many ways, and the dog in many cells, many sense it still remains the people, it still remains the humanity of the world, right?  And we have a very privileged show to play, in my opinion, to raise the consciousness of organizations. That's the lens through which I do my work is to go there to elevate the consciousness of this organization, whatever that looks like. Consistent elements for me will always remain staying close to people, no matter what you do.  Let's look at it in two different ways. Explain close to people. If you look at it in the sense, if I'm leading a team and I'm dealing with stuff, then having a regular one-to-ones with the people having two-way communication channels, having the opportunities to, to best practice sharing, to understand, to help grow and all of that. So I think, I mean always staying close to the people has been important to me to understand the people as much as I can. I'll give you an example.  Hotels, at least the Old Roy is very, very strict on the customer satisfaction scores. The the board or the leadership team of the organization, every day they would get these CSAT scores from all hotels, 30 hotels in the world. They would go through it. They would actually give a call to the general manager of a property if they saw anything that was, so it was a measure higher than I think for them money was the employee experience, right?  In that context, the teams that I ran over there, we always ended out with the highest CSAT scores consistently throughout f and b operations. And the other part was the highest density of employees of the month. And I can attribute it to one or two things.  We are still remain universal no matter where you go. I really, honestly, genuinely care for the people that I've worked with. I not only knew them, I knew about their families, I knew about their dreams and desires. I used to go to the houses, give them flowers and cakes. If there was any occasion, I've done that all personally.  Even today when I'm working organization consultancy, I feel that what has made me successful and because it's me, right? I'm walking through all these cultures and everything else, I think is that first of all, that ability to just care about the people, build the rapport and be honestly on their side. Everything else will fall into place.  I believe when you do that, when that's the soil in which you are cultivating what you are doing. Yes, there's people analytics there, employee experience there, employee external strategies, all that will come. But the essences, you're serving these people today.  The other very important aspect, which has to be recognized by any leader is wellbeing. It's very overwhelming all around. Whether you look at the social environment, political environment, now you add the old complication of generative AI and all the anxieties, which that is bringing up with people. D&I is a big deal. There's so much going on. You need a robust heart in a human being to be a leader today. And that comes with a lot of self-awareness. I think that's the genesis of everything for me. Stephen Matini: When you work as a consultant and you step into an organization, there's somehow that component, the human component that the consciousness is just not part of the organizational fiber. How do you move around as a first step to introduce a such important concept? Puneet Sachdev: The way I would look to influence to shift the zeitgeist of leadership, to elevating the consciousness and the inclusivity of the
It's fair to say that most people do not enjoy experiencing conflict. Conflict is uncomfortable, and it's challenging to handle it properly when we are a piece of the equation. Today's guest is Dr. Liane Davey, bestselling author, keynote speaker, and facilitator on conflict. Liane is a spoonful of sugar in the world of conflict, combining a solid academic background with a wonderful sense of humor.   In this episode of Pity Party Over, we will discuss many practical tools to handle conflict, like the importance of understanding the truth of others before sharing our own and how to balance vulnerability and accountability to strengthen our connection with people.  Apple Podcast - Podbean - Spotify - Stitcher - Podchaser - Amazon Music - Subscribe to Pity Party Over - Sign up for a complimentary Live Session: Managerial & Leadership Development - Contact Stephen - Connect with Stephen - #conflict #lianedavey #thegoodfight #podcast #pitypartyover #stephenmatini #alygn Stephen Matini: I'm here with “Lady No,, I'm here with “Lady No.” My first question for you is, when did you become aware that “no” was gonna be center stage in your life, in your professional career? Liane Davey: , when I started doing a lot of work on conflict and the importance of healthy conflict it, it started to dawn on me that no is a really central and important word in being able to have boundaries, have healthy conflict.  I think it, it was, I don't even remember how long ago it was, maybe 2013, I'm not even sure, and I was writing for Psychology Today, and I wrote a post playing off of the name of the month, November to call it “No-vember.” That's when I started this, you know, identifying my brand with saying no.  And so in this subsequent Novembers, I've been doing this sort of 30 days of things to say no to, to be happier, healthy, and more productive. So it was that first realization, and the first year it was just one article, about 10 things to say no to. But over time, it's become something very important to me. And not only, I think it, it started as a conflict thing, now it's about focus, and it's about boundaries. And so now it's using no for all sorts of good. Stephen Matini: One of the comments that I receive from people most of the time is, it's easy for you to talk because you are an independent professional. So you are in a position you can say no, but me in this place, in this organization is much harder. People are often caught in this dichotomy: if I say no, how I'm going to be perceived? And if I don't say no, I'm gonna end up being a pressure cooker. When that happens to you, what is the first step that you take with the client? Liane Davey: So what I'm trying to do anytime that I'm gonna have conflict in a healthy way with somebody, is the first thing I'm trying to do is understand what is their truth.  So what we want to do when someone says something we disagree with or we want to say no to, we tend to assert our truth. Let me tell you, , why that's so wrong and what I really need, instead of just spending a moment pausing to try and understand where that suggestion came from. So first of all, I would just reiterate what they said.  Okay, so I understand you want to host a big in-person client event, just reiterating and even that quick pause that says to the person I'm listening to you, even that is gonna help you be on a better path.  Then I'm gonna ask a question to understand where are they coming from? So I might say, tell me about your thought process. What got you to recommending a client event? Those sorts of questions. Big open questions that allow them to paint the canvas with their truth. You know, probably you need a couple additional questions to really understand what it's about for them. And then you wanna get to the point where you can say, all right, so my sense is that for you, this is about maybe our marketing campaign didn't land. Our customers don't understand the value, and you really wanna bring them together and have a have a second shot at telling them about our new product.  If you can get to the point of having their truth come out of your mouth, they won't even know you're having conflict. And from there you can share your own truth. But the, the first step is very counterintuitive. It's not at all what people think the first step of conflict would be. The first step of conflict is to get to speaking their truth. Stephen Matini: Easy, easy or hard to implement in your own life what you preach? Liane Davey: Hard. It, it was really funny. I posted something on LinkedIn and, and my 21 year old daughter who's now away at university, you know, she was seeing me writing all of this stuff about productive conflict and, and she just texted me like, mm-hmm. , like .  So it's hard and it's hard because the stakes are very high. It's hard because you have decades of baggage with, with your family members with doing it at home, but I'm getting better at it and I'm, you know, really focusing on raising things sooner, working through the discomfort all those sorts of things at home.  Professionally, you know, it's a little easier, but if I can figure out how to do it at home, then I'll be in a much better spot at practicing what I preach. Stephen Matini: People say that to me all the time. They say, well, you must have been able to handle this well, so that mm-hmm no girl the same thing. Maybe I know how to handle a little bit better. Yeah. But you have to be vigilant all the time, really. Liane Davey: Absolutely. Yeah. I, the only difference for me is I say there's just a lot of accountability. Once you write a book about productive conflict, it's, it's really good accountability. So I just have I have more of a, an obligation than other people might feel because I do take it very seriously that I can't tell other people to do this if I don't do it. So I put a lot of energy into doing the things I recommend, but , that's the main difference. Stephen Matini: You have become such an important voice for conflict. So now that you have become an important voice for conflict, how do you see it compared to, let's say, when you started out this whole thing? What has changed? Liane Davey: Yeah. So I, I think when I started working as a team effectiveness advisor and consultant, I, I think my original point of view was that there was too much conflict in teams and all this unhealthy, dysfunctional conflict. Now, all these years later I believe there's not nearly enough conflict and, and there's much, much, much less than you might think.  So one of the things that's changed my perspective is differentiating between, I like to think of conflict as a verb, like as a, a process, as something you, you do. And so I, I pull out all the things that are, oh, no, we have issues that we aren't addressing, and I try not to talk about those as conflict.  So we have grievances and resentment and bitterness. There's lots of that. So don't get me wrong, when I say there's not a lot of conflict in teams there is lots of resentment and bitterness and grievance, but what there isn't a lot of is the active path toward resolving those sorts of things. And so I reserve the word conflict to be no, no, you have to actively be doing something. For me to, to call it conflict, Stephen Matini: I was working with the leadership team, and these are people that have been working together for a long time mm-hmm. . So they had really very specific ideas of one another. There was a lot of cliquey weird stuff happening among themselves. So a lot of mistrust. Yeah. So we did the whole program and I'm, I don't think it was successful. And in the end, I still sensed their hurt, that inability to be transparent, to be communicative. So yeah. When you work with people that have been known each other forever and they don't trust each other, , what is the first step that you would take with them? Liane Davey: So, interestingly, I don't start with the relationships because as soon as you start with the relationships and the team dynamic, I find people become defensive. They immediately are like waiting for the accusation to be pointed at them, and or worse, they're ready to launch the assault at, on, on somebody else.  So instead of going into a team that has trust issues and a dysfunctional dynamic, and talking about the dysfunctional dynamic, I go in talking about what is the organization counting on this team to do? And there are a couple of things that help with that. First of all, I start talking about how is the world changing? So I'm talking about trends, opportunities, threats to their organization that come from the external environment.  So the purpose of doing that is that if we're going to make changes in how we're behaving, we can say, it's not that we were failing. It's not that we were doing it wrong, it's just just that the world has changed and we need to evolve to keep up. And so there's a little bit of psychological safety in not admitting that this change is because of, of of, of me or being wrong, but instead a, about the future.  And so, external orientation, longer time horizon, those kinds of conversations about what the business needs from you are safer. And people tend to align around those things. Their shoulders go down a little bit as they relax, but then the question becomes, okay, so if that's the way the world is changing and therefore our team needs to be more of this and less of this, then you can get to the, okay, so how do we need to show up differently to be that? And it's just a safer path toward the same conversation. So that's how I come at it. And again, unconventional, counterintuitive. I think a lot of p
As human beings, we all face difficulties and struggles in life. However, during these moments of darkness, we can often learn valuable lessons that benefit us and those around us. Our guest for this episode of the podcast Pity Party Over is Andy Frick, Owner and Founder of A Place 2B Recovery Housing. Andy has a background in positive psychology and has provided a place where people recovering from substance abuse feel they belong. For Andy, adding value to the lives of others provides meaning, a sense of belonging, and mattering. When we help others feel valued, we also validate our worth. Listen to this episode of Pity Party Over to learn how to create a purposeful life by supporting yourself and others effectively. Apple Podcast - Podbean - Spotify - Stitcher - Podchaser - Amazon Music - Subscribe to Pity Party Over - Sign up for a complimentary Live Session: Managerial & Leadership Development - Contact Stephen - Connect with Stephen - #belonging #purpose #mission #mattering #recovery #substanceabuse #leadership #andyfrick #aplace2brecoveryhousing #lindseygodwin #davidcooperrider #isaacprilleltensky #martinseligman #positivepsychology #appreciativeinquiry #podcast #pitypartyover #stephenmatini #alygn TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: When you don't work, what do you do to relax, to center yourself? Andy Frick: Well, one, I play a lot of soccer. Not the most common American response, but I, I play quite a bit of soccer, always did growing up and still a, a great way to connect with others and get some physical activity in which I'm sure I know I could certainly use more of.  And then I, I really enjoy fishing, so I, I found out over the past, I don't know, maybe five, 10 years that I really enjoy fishing, especially just being in nature in general, you know, walking, outdoors, all that jazz. But fishing has become a passion of mine. So ... Stephen Matini: Where did you grow up? Andy Frick: I grew up in Akron, Ohio, where unfortunately there's not a whole lot of fishing opportunities, . So there's more here to offer than I had originally thought. But mostly Akron is pretty much known for... well, if you're a little bit later in life, you might know it from being the, the rubber capital of the world at, at some point. If you're a bit younger, you probably know it from LeBron James. And that's about the extent of , Akron's notoriety. Stephen Matini: Have you ever thought about moving elsewhere? Andy Frick: Oh, certainly. Yeah. I have, since I started going to Florida for vacation as a child, I had always dreamt of not having to deal with the cold winters of Ohio. Fortunately, life is taking me that way, and I am moving to Miami here in about a month's time, so ... Stephen Matini: For real? Oh, wow. Andy Frick: Yes, yes. So it'll be quite a change. Stephen Matini: How did you get to where you are professionally? Andy Frick: So really, my, my life experience guided me to this passion of wanting to help others in some way, shape or form, right? I've been driven by service for the, the past 10 years or so, and it was, it wasn't always the case. So I look back to my experiences growing up. I struggled to find meaning, purpose, a sense of belonging and mattering, connection to others, some of the things that are fulfilling in life.  Those struggles kind of led me to some dark places. I think it was in the process of change that I experienced for myself, that transition from some of those darker places to experiencing some of those things I just described, where, where I had a sense of belonging and mattering purpose and meaning mostly through service to others, that really sparked my interest in helping others to experience that same thing for themselves.  I found myself having a, a a lack of all of these things, then experiencing them in my life and then asking that question of, okay, how can I help others to have the same experience? Where, where am I needed to best help others experience wellbeing in their lives? Stephen Matini: For many, many, many years in the past, I looked at those experiences as mistakes. And only later on in life I realized, well, probably they really had a purpose, because if they did not happen, I would not be where I am, and most likely I would not have developed the type of sensitivity that I have. Do you think you would've gotten to where you are if you hadn’t experience such darkness? Andy Frick: No, I, I certainly don't. And I'll kind of talk about it in, in two different ways. So the one is something you touched on. You know, it's funny, I was speaking with a professor of mine, Dr. James Pawelski, from the University of Pennsylvania, and this was after I graduated from my master's program.  There I was looking at the application process for PhD programs, and I was struggling to find, to trust the process and, and have faith that, you know, things will work out as they're supposed to. And it's something that I've grown to, to share with others, but when I needed it, I couldn't find it, right.  And it, it was funny cuz he, he shared with me how we can't really engage in the process of sense making until we're further down the road looking back on our lives. And in the moment it's hard to explain to ourselves why things are happening the way they're happening. We can't quite see the whole picture just yet. But when we find ourselves a little bit further down the road and we look back on our lives, kind of like you were describing, and, and my experience has been as well we, we can make sense of things and we can connect the dots and we can see, well, maybe there was some greater purpose to why this happened that happened, or I end up in this place, or, or whatever the case may be for each individual and for me in particular.  So my work has been in the addiction and recovery space. And when I refer to these dark places for myself, it was in addiction. So I'm in recovery myself, and I had experienced active addiction. I certainly don't feel that, you know, that's maybe a more specific case, but I've likely not ended up working in that field had it not been for my experiences.   But more broadly, I still think that holds true for some of my other life experiences. You know, again, you don't notice it in the moment, but when you look back on your life, you recognize that, okay, I may perhaps I needed to endure whatever it was that I experienced so that I could, you know, maybe be the light for the next person. Right. And, and I think it, it does something for yourself, right? I, I found some self-fulfillment in experiencing those hardships and finding myself on the other side Stephen Matini: When I experience darkness for me was the result of a series of really unfortunate events. At some point I experienced depression, which is something that I never had before. It really feels like all happiness has been sucked out of yourself, when you realize that it's too late, you know, I call depression the invisible assassin.  The one thing that helped me out was the realization that the people that really love me couldn't care less about me being successful, or not all they wanted me is to be happy. So the question to you is, if we have someone that is in a dark place, for whatever the reason, and is trying to cope with that heaviness, whichever way, what would you say that could be the first step that we can take? Andy Frick: Yeah. That, that is something I've certainly dealt with in the addiction recovery space in particular, right? So I, I find myself working with typically younger men as they're transitioning from inpatient treatment facilities and taking that next step in their recovery process.  Oftentimes I find myself having conversations with their family. The family is of course like any of us would, looking for ways that they can help fix the problem, right? And, and that's what we wanna do for each other. We wanna find ways that we can relieve the pain for our loved ones, that we can help them to feel okay and, and fix the things that they're dealing with.  The unfortunate reality, especially with addiction, and I think this translates well to other areas of life, is that there's only so much we can do as a loved one. We typically can't take away their pain or change their problems or make their, their situation go away in, in fact, I actually think we would be robbing them of a necessary process of life if we were able to play God, so to speak, anyway. But we can't, we're powerless over them and, and the circumstance, and the best thing we can do in my experience is, is to love them, love them unconditionally through that process. And that can look a little different depending on the situation, but most of the time it simply means letting them know that you're there and available and that you care. And that's about where the extent of our responsibilities end, right?  It's about as far as we can go is, hey, if you need something, I'm here for you. I love you. I support you through this process. I'm willing to do whatever I can to help. But beyond that, there's not much we can do for that individual in that circumstance.  I think especially in, in the addiction area, parents in particular have to find a balance between that love and not enabling the individual further, right? So that's kind of overstepping our responsibilities and kind of what I was talking about earlier, a little bit of robbing the individual, the, the opportunity to experience the pain required to initiate change.  Yeah, my experience has been just that we love them unconditionally. We support wherever possible and we recognize where our responsibility ends, and that's important. I don't think that's something we talk
In this episode, we'll discuss how leaders can communicate effectively by listening and paying attention to people. We have an extraordinary guest, Diane Lennard. Diane is a performance coach and faculty member at NYU Stern School of Business.  With her background in theater and coaching, Diane has honed her exceptional communication skills and has a unique perspective on effective leadership communication. Diane believes that everybody wants to be seen and heard, and by establishing empathetic relationships based on respect and dignity, leaders can create more meaningful connections with any stakeholder. Apple Podcast - Podbean - Spotify - Stitcher - Podchaser - Amazon Music - Subscribe to Pity Party Over - Sign up for a complimentary Live Session: Managerial & Leadership Development - Contact Stephen - Connect with Stephen - #conversations #people #human-centered #leadership #dianelennard #coaching #podcast #pitypartyover #stephenmatini #alygn TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: Where did you grow up? Diane Lennard: I grew up in the middle of Manhattan. Stephen Matini: A New Yorker! Diane Lennard: I am, born and raised! Stephen Matini: How was to grow up in New York? Diane Lennard: Well, I grew up in a an apartment complex that had, that was very large and had lots of playgrounds, lots of families, lots of children, and it was wonderful. And there was a really good public school with a lot of parent involvement. So it was a very, very nice place to grow up. Stephen Matini: Do you think it's true when people say that anyone who moves to New York after six months becomes a New Yorker or to be a real ... ? Diane Lennard: No. That’s a definitive no. , you can tell by the way people cross the street if they jaywalk, they're likely a native New Yorker when, you know they stand at the street corner for a really long time, that's not a typical New York activity . Stephen Matini: What would it be other typical things that New Yorkers do that no one else would do? Diane Lennard: I would say that we tend to be really good at shielding ourselves from difficult situations. It's a street savvy in a way, you know, how to manage just situations that you don't wanna get involved in. You know, whether it's on the subway or on the street, not making eye contact if it's gonna protect you, things like that. Just common sense safety. Stephen Matini: Were there any people or events that somehow have impacted more than others the way that you are today? Diane Lennard: Oh, many. I would say that two most prominent are my exposure to cultural events and my exposure to multicultural food. In growing up, every Sunday my family went to a different nationality restaurant. So from a very early age I was exposed to different cultures, not just the food, but the culture.  We would talk to the waiters and I grew an interest in international cultures that definitely impacted my career. And I also was ex, went to lots of theater and museums, was very involved in the theater. So I know from my friends who were not native New Yorkers, when they came to visit me, they got exposed to things that they wouldn't have unless they had come to New York. Stephen Matini: Theater plays a huge role in your life. When did you decide to actually get into theater? Diane Lennard: I started taking ballet lessons when I was six years old. Actually five years old. I was actually part of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet Company and performed on the old Metropolitan opera stage. I got paid a dollar a minute for running across the stage, barefoot in an opera. But I had the experience of a huge audience and the backstage and it was very intriguing to me.  I also took piano lessons and went to a special high school for music and I remember at about age 11, 12, 13, I really was wondering, what am I gonna be when I grow up? And I recall sitting down with my parents. I, I remember the actual dining table where we sat down and to discuss my, my future and I was barely a teenager.  The suggestion was, why don't you put music and dance together in theater? So I went to summer, summer theater programs and eventually summer stock and it was a way for me to put it all together. And so it's really been forever in my life. Stephen Matini: I did theater for a long time and I did it mostly as an act of rebellion because of high school. I never thought I could do it, because I'm not really an extrovert. I'm not someone who lost to be the center of the attention. But I did very well. And to my surprise, lot of actors, are actually quite introvert. Diane Lennard: That's definitely true. I had a similar experience when I went to, there were two arts high schools, one of them is very famous called, the one from the movie “Fame”. It was the High School of Performing Arts applied to that one for dance, and I applied to music and art, which was much more academic.  I got into music and art for piano and voice, but I sang folk songs, rebellious teenage folk songs and in music and art they taught us opera. You know, I did the opera, but that wasn't my passion.  What's interesting is now when I teach communication to business students, I am using all the vocal training that I got. And I'm not calling it voice training, but it is how to use your body and your voice. So all of what I learned, I'm applying to my current career. Stephen Matini: How did you make the transition from, you know, the theater, the acting to what you're doing now, communication? Diane Lennard: I always had an interest in teaching. I actually think, I'm not as much of an actress as I am a director and a teacher. So for years I supported myself by creating theater companies.  So I would direct them in a play, but teach them how to act, come to my acting classes three days a week and will form a theater company and you'll perform. Which really appealed to my sensibility because they were learning and performing, not just ego performing.  So I did that for a long time. I got a degree in teaching, a master's degree in teaching. I was still teaching acting for non-actors in a theater school, but then I started coaching executives on their speech. It was actually Boston Consulting Group.  They would have people come and learn how to tell stories and learn how ... we had a whole coaching program. Then I did it for my university on a pro bono basis while I was doing my PhD. And then they hired me. So it, it kind of evolved. Stephen Matini: One of the paradigm shift that I see noticeable in people is when they understand that a good presentation is not about performing, but it's about being. And somehow that gives people the liberty of being themselves. Have you maybe noticed something similar? Diane Lennard: Oh, absolutely. The way that I frame exactly what you're saying is it's a conversation. And what I notice is people who are trained in theaters sometimes have a hard time with that because they're so used to being performative that they're not really engaging and connecting with individuals. It's more that they're connecting with themselves.  I work very hard on making sure they're not performing because for me, when someone's performing then the audience is just observing. It's a passive experience one way as opposed to a conversation, which is a dialogue. It goes back and forth. Even if the listener is not talking, they're engaged in a conversation.  So I find that really fascinating and I actually much prefer the conversational mode to the performative mode unless I'm in a theater. But if I'm in a presentation, I don't want people performing. Although some students, I must say enjoy entertainment, but I'm not teaching entertainment. Nor are you, I would imagine. Stephen Matini: I don't . To be in a conversation for some people is hard. It means to be vulnerable, it means to be permeable. How do you make it easy for people to get in the mode? Diane Lennard: Having a purpose to their message when it becomes about the message and less about me getting them out of their heads, self-evaluating and focusing more on the other person. Actually, I feel like my mission in life is getting people to focus on the other person. Stephen Matini: So listening... Diane Lennard: Listening and paying attention, listening and observing. I think both. Stephen Matini: The professor-student relationship is is a pretty interesting combination and often time is very layered. It means different things to different professors. How has this relationship contributed to you, to your own growth? Diane Lennard: I certainly learn a lot from my students in terms of technology. Very often they say things and I go to my daughter privately after class and say, I just heard my students say this. Is that something I can say? Because they are privy to a whole slew of things that I'm not aware of. It's not part of my lifestyle. So I certainly learn from younger people.  But I also gain a lot because I get to be myself and that models to them, it's okay to be yourself. Something I've noticed after years and years of teaching is more and more people are saying, I wanna be funny, I wanna make people laugh. And my point of view is that people are funny when they don't tell jokes just because by being themselves, they're funny. And I think what I tried to do, I do my best at is be myself so they can be themselves. It's permission. Stephen Matini: God, that being funny is hard. Diane Lennard: Yes. And it's certainly not something I teach, although I did watch this show called Comedians Getting Coffee ... Stephen Matini: In Cars. Yeah, yeah, Diane Lennard: In Cars ... yeah. And I found that fascinating to listen to comedians philosophy and points of view. It's very specific an
This episode explores the vitality and richness of a diverse and inclusive leadership approach to help the success of organizations. The guest of this episode of Pity Party Over is Wagner Denuzzo, a Latino HR leader specializing in the future of work, talent strategy, and leadership development. Growing up in São Paulo, Brazil, Wagner moved to the United States at 22 with little means and big dreams.  As a minority leader, Wagner's professional career has been committed to creating inclusive practices in organizations to foster effective leadership. Apple Podcast - Podbean - Spotify - Stitcher - Podchaser - Amazon Music - Subscribe to Pity Party Over - Sign up for a complimentary Live Session: Managerial & Leadership Development - Contact Stephen - Connect with Stephen - #diversity #inclusion #minority #wagnerdenuzzo #leadership #coaching #podcast #pitypartyover #stephenmatini #alygn   TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: You were born in São Paulo. Wagner Denuzzo: Yes. Stephen Matini: And then what happened? How did you get to the States? Wagner Denuzzo: A convergence of things because I was finishing college. I was working during the day to make a little money, and I did college a night. In Brazil at that time in the early eighties, in mid eighties was important for you to know people to get somewhere.  It was important for you to belong to a social class that had connections to get you in. I didn't have that. I didn't have connections and I start feeling that although I felt I had some talent, I didn't have an opportunity for me to start my career in Brazil.  And I didn't wanna do clothing. I was actually manufacturing women clothing with a friend of mine that worked to get some money, but it's not something that I wanna do for life.  So I decided right after college to give the manufacturing, small manufacturing company to my partner and decided to come to United States. And actually it was my first flight ever. And the first flight I ever took was outside my country and had four stops, cause it was the cheapest fair. So between some polling Orlando, I had four stops in my first flight ever. I'm glad I wasn't afraid of flying. It would be really difficult if I did. Stephen Matini: How old were you back then? Wagner Denuzzo: 22 Stephen Matini: 22, God, so young Wagner Denuzzo: And I came to tonight and I came to United States not knowing English. I didn't have English and I had $600 with me. So it was an immigrant story.  Then it is interesting because I'm very resourceful. I think living in Brazil, Brazilians are very resourceful. We've figured out how to do things with very little resources. Arriving in Florida, I immediately start getting to restaurant work, being a busboy, trying to learn English.  A lot of bullying, a lot of people making fun of you when you're an immigrant without the language. I went through all that ,and after a year I decided that Florida wasn't for me. New York could be. A friend of mine said, let's go to Florida, and we drove up in one of those cars that you help people drive their cars in, into Manhattan. And that's how we came. And was really interesting because it was very rough in New York. I remember having $1 and thinking, I eat pizza or I smoke cigarettes. I chose cigarettes because they last longer . And that day I found two jobs as a dishwasher and a food runner. So I quickly understood that I had to act fast and there was nobody to ask for help.  New York was a real challenge because it was very difficult. However, little by little I started learning the language. One person that was so remarkable in my history is this Canadian waiter. After I became a waiter a few years, he said to me, Wagner, you have so much to offer.  Read this book because this book is about enhancing your vocabulary. Because being here, you're gonna need to enhance your vocabulary. It was so beautiful. He gave me, that was the first person that extended their hands and said, Hey, this is how you're gonna get through and be successful.And I will never forget him.  Stephen Matini: You started communication, right?  Wagner Denuzzo: Mm-Hmm. . Yes.  Stephen Matini: How, how did that come about?  Wagner Denuzzo: Communications is because I, I, I love the idea of advertising, marketing and radio and TV. I specialize on radio and TV. I love writing as well. So to me that's how I would make a living. But clearly in Brazil, communications, is something that's, you know, reserved for very few.  In New York actually. It really helped me to think broadly about how can I connect with people, you know, taking pictures and, and doing things that could enhance my experience here . I did that, but inevitably you have to do what you need to do to survive. So being in restaurants, I worked in restaurants for 10 years.  Patience was so incredibly important to me. I didn't have an office job until I was 29, 30. When I start volunteer, I volunteered for gay men's health crisis during the AIDS epidemic and then they gave me a job. That was my first real job in an office.  And to be honest, it was worth go through all the experiences. I learned how to connect with people from all over the world, at all levels of expertise, levels of social, economic backgrounds. And it is beautiful how you can create empathy towards everyone because you can see that everyone has value.  And to me this is a lifelong lesson to never discard anyone regardless where they are. Because the hidden figures, the famous hidden figures are our responsibility in HR to identify them. I really enjoyed that.  So my first job, 29, 30 years old. Then I start getting burned out because then I worked for St. Vincents Hospital was an incredible experience. I work as a social worker in St. Vincents Hospital, in the immigrant program, was undocumented immigrants with HIV and AIDS and we had 43 country represented, 340 patients. And they all need us to figure out care, housing, living and all the immigration problems that they had, we had to help them solve for them.  So was very enhancing in my life, the experience because you see how, how critical it is to have social systems that support people. The experience burned me out a little bit, to be honest. My, my boss actually said, hey, would you like to go to an employee assistance program? Somebody I know is hiring a counselor there. So I finished my social work degree as a clinical social worker and went to work for an employee assistance program. That's how I started my career in executive coaching, in training, in doing the, the work that I do today in HR. Stephen Matini: Throughout all those years, those formative years, were there any person, any, any specific event? I mean you already touched some of them, but were there any specific person that somehow was really pivotal, you know, for the decision that you eventually made for your life? Wagner Denuzzo: Well, several people. In, in sometimes I was thinking about this: many of the people that influenced me don't even know that they had an impact in my life. As an immigrant, I think you know this, you start becoming so hyper vigilant in hyper observant. You observe people at all times. You under, you try to understand how to adapt and assimilate new norms, cultural norms in the way of living. That's a survival mechanism.  Many people influenced me, but what's really important to be influenced by one person in my life that I always carry with me was a teacher in college. I grew up in a, in public school system in Brazil. I didn't learn that much in the public school system. And she was the first person who believed in me and said, hey, I need an assistant, could you help me? I like the way you read. Do you write? And I liked your ideas. Come support me.  I never forgot that because every time I have the imposter syndrome or those self-limiting beliefs, I go right back to the people who said, hey, now I believe in you. And she was the first one. And in fact, the funny thing is, last year I decided to contact her after 30 years and she loved that I contacted her and she remembered me of course. And we met in New York, it was a wonderful meeting because reconnecting to people who demand so, so much to you is was incredible. So she was one.  There is always others, but it's, it's mostly my partner. My husband's amazing, you know, he helped me understand that actually I can be myself and always have the unconditional love at home. That was important to me. I didn't have any other support here. As soon as I met him, it was an incredible feeling of support. Stephen Matini: I love when you said as an immigrant you become, I would assume a very empathetic, you know, you, you can read situations very quickly. Do you think that empathy is something that can be taught? Wagner Denuzzo: I do believe they can. A few years ago there was an article in the New York Times about a research that showed, and this is related to positive psychology, which I really believe in. An individual who put themselves out there to help others during crisis are much more likely to develop empathy and be more resilient themselves during their own difficult times.  And that was very interesting because not only you are helping others, but actually you are building capabilities for yourself to become resilient. And that's important. And that's how I think you start learning how to empathize with others.  The other one is when things happen to you, you know, when things happen to you, so many crisis that happen to people health wise, economically or there's an accident, there's so many things that happen in life that makes you step back and say, how can I cope with this? And then you notice the pe
Is it possible to be competitive and sustainable? Can leaders meet the needs of investors, employees, customers, and the environment?  The guest of this episode of Pity Party Over is Beate Klingenberg, Professor of Sustainability and Supply Chain Management at FOM University of Applied Sciences for Economics and Management in Germany. Professor Klingenberg’s professional interests combine two needs often viewed as antagonists in business: a short-term focus on efficient operations that meet quarterly quotas and a long-term sustainable strategy addressing the interests of all stakeholders.  For Professor Klingenberg, a sustainable mindset combines systems thinking, ecological worldview, and emotional intelligence to develop leaders capable of driving organizations into the future. Apple Podcast - Podbean - Spotify - Stitcher - Podchaser - Amazon Music - Subscribe to Pity Party Over - Sign up for a complimentary Live Session: Managerial & Leadership Development - Contact Stephen - Connect with Stephen - Sustainability Mindset Indicator by Isabel Rimanoczy and Beate Klingenberg #sustainable #mindset #change #beateklingenberg #isabelrimanoczy #leadership #coaching #podcast #pitypartyover #stephenmatini #alygn TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: So, how is life in Germany? Beate Klingenberg: How is life in Germany? A little bit too busy, which I know is a running theme for me, but, and part of it is myself because I never say no when something interesting comes my way.  Besides, I'm also, I'm always, always acknowledging that in comparison to my previous always busy life as an academic, I also have a startup. And it is really taking a lot of time by now, and it's all exciting. It's all there is so much new, new experience and new things to think about, but it, the result is basically that all what I do is work. Stephen Matini: Is your life now that different compared to your life in Italy when you lived in Florence or in the US? Beate Klingenberg: It's different because the, the circumstances around me are different. I think if I compare first to Italy, simply the German-ish lifestyle is, is a little bit more orderly, I would say. Stephen Matini: No way. Who would've thought ? Beate Klingenberg: Yeah. I mean, surprise, . I'm actually missing my chit-chats going to the mad car or when I would go to my groceries on Saturdays or just going to a cafe where people know me, where you talk.  And I haven't made those kind of connections here yet. A, because it takes time. I know at the Marcato Centrale, it took me probably between two and three years before the, the people were willing to talk to me because initially they just thought, well, yet another stranger, she'll be here for a month and then she'll be gone again.  So they didn't put a lot of effort in creating a relationship. And it's the same here. Of course, even there, there is an open market twice a week where I go and I try to go to the same places, but it will take forever before they know me.  And then if I compare to the us, the US has this largeness to it, because a, you have to do everything by car and the country. I mean, you've lived there. The country is just vast in comparison. And so everything is a little, yeah, is, is bigger.  I think my lifestyle there was different in a sense that I, I was driving around with a car a lot, but I was definitely, and this is the surprising thing, but it, it's a little bit because I don't have a car. I think I was more in nature when I lived in the US to go for hikes.  I haven't established routines here in where I'm now in Germany, because I live in, in the middle of a big city. I have a big park, right ten minutes from me, which is nice. But to really go into woods and hike for three, four hours, I have done maybe two or three times in the last year because I have to train, take a train to get out somewhere, and you can't reach all parts easily with public transportation. I'm happy that I don't have a car anymore, but my nature connection has been reduced since I'm in Germany.  In Italy, it was also easier because Florence particular is a city where you can do a lot of hikes even within the city, and then you get out into the hills. Connection to nature is important for me. So maybe that contributes also to this feeling that I, I feel a little sterile where I am. Stephen Matini: The word sustainability is a word that, even in the past when you and I talked, comes up a lot. That's a really important word to you. What does sustainability mean in Germany versus the U.S. versus Italy? How does it manifest differently? Beate Klingenberg: First of all, the word for sustainability in, in Germany has a different connotation, but it's, it's more something that means to be, to do something very long lasting, to do something that is, that is reaching into the future.  And in terms of em, embedment in society, you hear many more people talking about sustainability in, in Germany than in the U.S. particularly in the U.S. And I just have to walk out of my house where there is a little area for shopping at the street, and there is a shop where you can buy things without you bring your own containers so you can buy pasta and, and all sorts of other things, dry goods in your own containers.  Then there is another shop that is called the, the rescue market, where they sell off overproduction or food that is already beyond their, their official edibility. And it's, but it's still good and obviously for very low prices.  So you can see just with these two examples that you have a lot of solutions that are being offered and people are very conscious about climate change and talking about alternative transportation. The reason why I don't have a car is, is for me personally, because I don't want to have one.  In fact, also right outside of my building is a parking lot where there are car sharing cars. I haven't tried the system out yet, but technically if I need one, I can make a reservation and, and hop on a car.  In Italy. I think being in Europe also, there is a good understanding for sustainability and it manifests itself in, in different ways. Maybe people talk a little bit less about it as in Germany, but I remember this idea that in supermarkets or in markets, you only have the, the plastic bags for the fruit out of biodegradable plastics. It's a huge step forward.  In Germany, I think it's again, this the German word would be grundsätzlichkeit (principle), this fundamentalism that people always want to have these deep discussions and it's easier to move forward and to do something, I think in Italy because people just do it. Stephen Matini: Do you remember the first time that the word sustainability entered your life? Beate Klingenberg: I would think probably towards the turn of the century, because prior to that, at least what I recognized is more that we talked about pollution, environmental protection, and that of course goes back into the 1970s that those discussions were there for even into the 1960s for the longest time.  But this more overarching idea of sustainability, which doesn't only include looking out for the environment, but it has a strong aspect of social justice in there with a recognition that if we're not fair to each other, we will never be able to protect also the environment because poor people simply don't have, if I make it quite simple, they don't have the time to think about, is this good that I use this thing in plastic or, or not, because their life is simply just about the basics.  The concept of sustainability is really more overarching, and I think the first conference I went to that literally had the topic, sustainability must have been around the beginning of the century, doesn't mean that it didn't exist before, but that was about, so a little bit more than 20 years ago that entered my life. Stephen Matini: When people hear the word sustainable, it means different things to different people, and often times evokes scenarios of climate change, the whole environmental issue and such and such. What I love about your background is the fact that you focus on operations, you focus on supply chain and those reasoning, those area often times are about optimizing, it's about saving money, it's about how to be more profitable. So how do you combine based on your experience and sustainability with areas such as operations and supply chain? Beate Klingenberg: If I look at the, the consumption sector, we're basically flooded with products to make that really more sustainable in the sense that we look more for the resources of the planet that we use for these products, we look at if there is a circularity that we, these this materials that are being used come back into the productive cycle.  We go to the basics. How can I make a, a container for water more sustainable? Only when I ask myself from the very beginning, what is this product actually going to be? How am I going to design it? How am I going to produce it, and how much can I think of the, here's this, I know plastic is always an easy example, but what happens to this plastic bottle when it's finished?  If we start at that early stage, there is a concept that is called cradle to cradle means the cradle is the, the moment when a product is even conceived, not even produced yet, but the product idea that's already when we should start thinking. It's like, what will happen to this product when the consumer doesn't use it anymore? And then the question, do we even need this product that should even come before? Which of course here I'm being a little radical because I I really think we have way too many products, but that's let's not
Life circumstances may sometimes appear discouraging and far removed from our biggest goals and dreams. That’s when we might feel voiceless, unrepresented, and trapped in a loop that leaves us with no options. The guest of this episode of Pity Party Over is Kofi Douhadji, an American entrepreneur, executive coach, and airman in the United States Air Force.  Growing up in the village of Afagnan in Togo, Africa, Kofi has learned early on the power of an optimistic and curious mindset that intentionally focuses on opportunities rather than letting circumstances define who he is. His latest memoir, Unbroken Optimist, is a testament to Kofi’s tenacious and grateful attitude toward life.  Listen to the episode on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Castbox, Castro, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Player FM, Pocket Cast, Pod Bay, Podbean App, Podchaser, Postcast Addict, Spotify, Sticher, TuneIn. SUBSCRIBE TO PITY PARTY OVER Unbroken Optimist by Kofi Douhadji Contact Stephen Matini Connect with Stephen Matini Brought to you by ALYGN Organizational Consulting #optimism #change #unbrokenoptimist #kofidouhadji #leadership #executivecoaching #podcast #pitypartyover #stephenmatini TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: In your book, your dedication to your children, in which you say, “For the minute you start working for your freedom, that is the very minute you start losing it.” Kofi Douhadji: Yes. Stephen Matini: So why you wrote that? Kofi Douhadji: I wrote that because I don't want my kids to take anything for granted. I want them to keep an eye on where we are coming from. And to know that success is like a rent. The minute you stop paying it, you're probably gonna go hit the streets. So I want them to, to know that it's a daily effort. You have to keep up your effort, you have to keep investing in yourself, growing, learning taking care of your responsibilities and everything. So I thought it was important for me to have my kids sink that in and know that their freedom is not a guarantee. Whenever they stop working for it, they're gonna lose it. Stephen Matini: Do your kids have a, a sense of your upbringing? Kofi Douhadji: They do. We talk about it a lot. I'm very big on conversation, so we talk a lot. And also we go beyond that and send them, for example, in 2022, they spent seven months in Togo where I grew up. It wasn't an easy decision to make, but for me, it was important for them to go and see, hey, where dad grew up. We are living a, a pretty decent life, they're living in their own rooms, they have their own beds, they eat whatever they feel like they want to eat on a daily basis, but I wanted them to go and see for themselves where I grew up. And that many people are not so fortunate as we are today. And I think even though my daughter is only 11, that brought her some perspective, I don't think she would've had otherwise. Stephen Matini: And how do you feel now when you go back? Kofi Douhadji: Personally, I haven't been back since then.  Stephen Matini: Oh, you haven't out?  Kofi Douhadji: I haven't. And I'm going in March. But from what I heard from my kids and my wife when they, they went back for several months, is that it makes you appreciate a lot more every single thing we have now here. And I know it's gonna be a very interesting experience for me going back Stephen Matini: The circumstances, your experience were definitely super difficult. And somehow in those situations, without having anyone telling you how to do, you found the power of gratitude. Even in a difficult situation, you can always be grateful of many different things. And somehow that was your first paradigm shift. Kofi Douhadji: Yes. Stephen Matini: How did you do that by yourself, so young? Kofi Douhadji: I would attribute the first trigger to providence, and I would attribute the second one to curiosity. I was very curious. There was this, there is this hospital that non-profit from Italy built in my village about 10 or 12 miles away from my, my village where we lived. I discovered this beautiful library in the hospital growing up, and there was one nun that came from Italy periodically to the hospital, her name is Clementine. I would spend time with her even though books I couldn't read when I was in high school, I will ask her to read and explain it to me. That reading books like that with her and having her explain certain concept to me, brought me to the realization that, hey, with controlling your mindset and being mindful and intentional about the things you wanna achieve, you can change your life. And I, I would attribute mindset shift to reading starting from that moment where I started reading through the library at the hospital, and also something in me that I can't describe that pushed me toward that place. Stephen Matini: Other than Clementine, were there other people in your life early on that you considered to be influential that somehow have shaped the way you think? Kofi Douhadji: I think there were, but again, when you grow up in a village where you know almost everyone in the village and people don't really have a futuristic vision, it's hard to have someone in your circle to look up to. When you are dreaming about stuff, people don't even encourage you to dream about. So I think most of the people that I consider that have shaped my life growing up are mentors met in the book. Like I like to refer to them. So some of those people, I met them in a book. Stephen Matini: My life growing up was different than yours and in many ways was it was a different life. You know? However, there were a lot of parts of my life that I didn't like. And I remember pretty early on I learned how to escape in my head and books and games. There was, I think, something that I did in order to basically survive, you know? And I would really wonder what my life could be. And I would always say to myself, one day, I would have a different life, a very special life. So that curiosity for me came also as a form of how do you say it? Like escapism, you know, as a way to cope with very difficult situations. Kofi Douhadji: Absolutely. I did have almost the same approach. You know, I would just go sit by myself on a farm under an orange tree, and just imagine things happening, a better life, an extraordinary life, and dream about it, visualize it, and just dwell on those feeling I would run following an airplane, flying over the village as fast as I can, as far as I could until it's nowhere to be seen un and then I'll stop, and then I'll just imagine myself being on that airplane one day. So I can relate to that es escapism, if you will. Stephen Matini: If someone doesn't have that, doesn't have the ability either to escape or to focus on something positive or maybe doesn't have the innate curiosity, do you think that optimism can be learned? Kofi Douhadji: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think anyone can learn to be more optimistic. And optimism is a mindset that can be developed with practice, just like any other skill. Some ways to do that I have worked for me is reframing negative thoughts when challenging situation happen, challenge negative thoughts, a more positive light, instead of saying, for example, I cannot do this, say, I haven't done this yet, I never done it before, but I can learn. And I think as human beings, our ability to learn and grow should be enough for us to be confident in ourselves.  For example, as an officer in the United States Air Force, I was recently put in a position myself where I took leadership of my first flight with people who are older than me, have more experience than me from a different career field leading a flight that operates in a different career field. But instead of feeling overwhelmed, worrisome about what's going to happen, the way I process the information for myself is, wow, this is going to give me the opportunity to do something I've never done before.  So I started thinking, who can I reach out to to help me plan this out? What can I do to set myself up for success? When I start doing this, it's gonna help me become a better leader and give me more experience, therefore, I can lead better in the future. And instead of being worried and anxious, I was excited and thankful for the fact that I have this opportunity to serve people and grow along the way.  Also, practicing gratitude, starting each day with a grateful heart can be really helpful to growing a more optimistic outlook on things and on life in general. Take each day to reflect on what you have. Feel grateful. I call it my counting my blessing practice. Every morning I will take a piece of paper and I'll start writing all the things that I'm grateful for until I can no longer have a space on that sheet of paper. And then I'll start. Most of my days, I start them like that. Surrounding yourself with positive people. Seek out people who have a positive outlook on life and support and encourage you. Being around them. Being around positive energy can be very contagious and help you develop a more optimistic outlook or mindset.  One last practice or approach that worked for me is focusing on solution, not problems. When facing challenges, try to focus on finding a solution rather than dwelling on the problem itself and how crushing and putting up a pity party for that problem instead of doing so.  When you focus on the problem, you increase your chances of finding a solution. I always tell my coaching client that it is not about the size of the control you have in life, but it's all about how much use you make of the little control you have that makes the difference.  Remember that developing, you know, a more optimistic outlook or any other skill takes time. Practice persistent and foremost, consistency. So when you engage on your journey to building a more optimistic perspective or mindset be patient with yourself, be gracious with yourself and understand that yo
In our personal and professional lives, we all spend much time pondering problems, but focusing excessively on them may not help us overcome a challenge as quickly as we wish.  The guest for this episode of Pity Party Over is Dr. Lindsey Godwin, one of the most influential voices for appreciative inquiry, emotional intelligence, and experiential learning theory. Whereas problem-solving focuses on deficits, appreciative inquiry is an approach to positive change that leverage strengths.  For Dr. Godwin, inquiring means paying attention to our thoughts, emotions, and bodily signals to make intentional choices on what is important to us. SUBSCRIBE TO PITY PARTY OVER Listen to the episode on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Castbox, Castro, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Player FM, Pocket Cast, Pod Bay, Podbean App, Podchaser, Postcast Addict, Spotify, Sticher, TuneIn. Connect with Stephen Matini via email Connect with Stephen Matini on LinkedIn Brought to you by ALYGN Organizational Consulting TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: I would like to know something about your upbringing, if there were any special people, events that somehow have shaped and contributed the most to where you are today? Dr. Lindsey Godwin: I would say my upbringing and yeah, the people in my early life had a tremendous impact on who I am and how I see the world completely. I grew up in a small town in West Virginia, sort of rural Appalachia, West Virginia Buchanan, West Virginia, where sort of many generations of my family were from. So it's sort of a lot of roots there too. Right.  My grandparents were from there. My parents, you know, I was born in the same hospital my mom was , sort of all of that. Small, you know, small town sort of life where everybody knows everybody. So had a very sort of close-knit family where I had my, my grandparents were, both of my grandparents were sort of sets of, my grandparents were very active in my life. In fact my, my one grandparents were literally my next door neighbors. So we had like dinner together, like a multi-generational dinner together every night. Which I realize now is not always, is not necessarily a typical normal thing in our modern world. And so I had a really sort of beautiful intergenerational upbringing. And part of that too, the closeness of our family and even the having my grandparent feel close.  I'm the oldest of four children, and so that also impacts, I think, my personality, right? The sort of the oldest child and all of that stuff is true. , all of that oldest child stuff, I think is totally true.  And I had two younger brothers and a younger sister, and my most immediate younger brother when he was three months old, he contracted infant botulism and through medical, different medical issues and actually some medical accidents at the hospital, some medical malpractice issues that happened at the hospital, when he was in the hospital recovering from his illness, he actually lo lost oxygen to his brain and, and different things.  And so he ended up being profoundly mentally and physically impaired. He basically was permanently sort of mentally three months old. And so, although his body continued to grow normally, his cognitive ability was stunted at, at three months of age.  And so he was non-verbal you know, couldn't feed or walk or talk. He basically communicated and interacted like a three month old so he could recognize voices and he would, you know, could laugh and, and and reacts again, much, much like you imagine like a three month old baby interacting. And so our whole family was really focused around his care and his needs. And so from a, I was three. I was three. I'm the oldest, right? And so he was three years younger than me.  And so, and then my other siblings are younger than him. And so our, our household really learned that taking care of other people is something that we just do inherently without asking. And sort of the idea of, you know, looking at, at the needs of other people around us, I think was something that we saw day in and day out.  And also the fragility of life, right? We saw that sort of day in and day out because he did have sort of fragile health. And in fact, he when I was, I was a senior in high school, so I was about 18 and he was 15. He had a massive seizure in his sleep and passed away at our, our house. So he al we always lived with us, right? And so even just the going through that right as a family and losing losing anybody is traumatic and, and such an impact on us. But I think that that all of that totally obviously had an impact on me.  Also growing up, my grandfather was a, a Methodist minister, two uncles and a cousin who are Methodist minister. So there was a lot of also sort of this idea of, you know, again, focused on taking care of others and how can we sort of be servant leaders in the world, I guess is really from both, literally in my household, you know, being so focused on being such a, a primary caregiver to somebody who had special needs to growing up in a family where service and sort of asking, you know, how, how can we help other people?  You know, my mother, my grandmother were teachers, my dad's a pharmacist. So there was a lot of , a lot of sort of service, service to the world. And so I think that I realized, I realized it then, but I definitely realized it now looking back how much that was an imprint on me in terms of A) believing that I can be of service first of all, right? So that self-efficacy belief of like i, I can be of service and of help in the world is hardwired in me, I guess, to where it's you know, I've seen in other situations.  There was also a unique optimism in my family where, you know, this, this is, it is in so many, it's a tragic story, right? What happened with my brother? And it could easily sort of rip a family apart, right? I mean, I saw that with other families. So, you know, leading to divorce, leading to all kinds of things. And if anything, it made our family stronger. Like I said, my grandparents, you know, lived right next door to us, were so involved in helping to, to raise us and stuff.  And so there was also, it might sound paradoxical in the face of something that really was quite tragic, was that there was a lot of optimism, and not, not optimism, but like he was magically going to be better, but optimism in the sense of we can still create a life of love and goodness and, and stuff. And so, so I think that those things really just were so hard. So yeah, not hardwired and lived day in and day out in my household.  And so when I find myself now being called into like education, higher education, and then my work with appreciative inquiry and sort of, you know, positive psychology and all of that, and working with organizations to try to help them be their best self, right, leverage their assets and stuff, I realized, you know, that that comes from a very primal place in me, if that makes sense. Stephen Matini: This event made your whole family a family of service. How did you find out what was gonna be your specific way to be of service to people? Dr. Lindsey Godwin: Oh, that's a great question. And I, being in this space where I saw you know, my, my brother had unique attributes, different than other people and stuff, but I also became very aware of my own abilities too, right? In the face of, of having such different abilities than my brother.  And so I was a really good student. I was a straight A student. I was valedictorian of my high school class. I always knew that I wanted to, I had a long, a long vision of myself going all the way in school. It was no question I was going to college. I was like, gonna get like higher ed degrees.  Again, back to remembering that I lived in this, in, in West Virginia, in this town where I would say the majority of my people that I graduated with, a lot of them were first generation to go to college, some of them, right? Where I grew up in a, in a family where education was my, you know, my grandfathers both had higher degrees, which wasn't the norm in terms of the population that I was living in. And so education was a very, was a very valuable thing in our household as well. Cuz I think my parents also realized that that was the path to having options, right? To having different options in the world and, and things.  So I was this straight a student and knew that I wanted to go all the way, and I had a, I knew I wanted to get a PhD. I had no idea what I wanted to get a PhD in. That didn't matter to me. I was just like, I'm gonna get a PhD. And I had visions of being a professor.  I started off as a genetics major. Actually. I was gonna be a genetic counselor because that was part of my like, oh, I can help other families, I could help other families. And I have that sort of empathetic experience that I could bring to that. And, and maybe, maybe there is genetic things that could help, you know. So I was in this very sort of space with that.  So I went off to college and I was a declared genetics major, and then I took my first psychology class and I just like, it's like sometimes when you meet people and you just fall in love with them. Like, I, I took this psychology class and I was like, oh my God, this is like the missing piece of the puzzle. And for, and of course I love my professor, so I like fell in love with her. But I fell in love with the like, field of psychology and I was like, you mean I can understand human nature and I can understand how people react. And so I fell in love with psychology. And then of course I, I went on and I took sociology classes. I fell in love with sociology. I just, so I ended up I ended up Stephen being a psychology, sociology double major with a biology minor . So I joked that I was like, I just like studying people and trying to understand them like at all levels from the like, cellular level to the interpersonal level to the societal level.  So I, I was sort of followin
Our past experiences impact our lives, from how we interpret current events to how we view ourselves and others.  Sometimes our past experiences are responsible for the fear that keeps us trapped in a loop despite our best efforts to move on.  The guest for this episode of Pity Party Over is Nina Bressler. Nina is the Global Head of Societal Learning for Novartis, a multinational pharmaceutical corporation based in Switzerland whose mission is to discover new ways to improve and extend people's lives. Nina believes that learning from our experiences is the medicine to overcome fear and live a life with a  sense of purpose. Moving beyond fear is adopting a growth mindset that allows us to see the world and ourselves as ever-changing dynamics filled with possibilities.   SUBSCRIBE TO PITY PARTY OVER Listen to the episode on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Castbox, Castro, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Player FM, Pocket Cast, Pod Bay, Podbean App, Podchaser, Postcast Addict, Spotify, Sticher, TuneIn. Connect with Stephen Matini via email Connect with Stephen Matini on LinkedIn Brought to you by ALYGN Organizational Consulting TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: I read your essay, “Do What Makes You Feel Alive.” Nina Bressler: Oh ... Stephen Matini: You struck a chord because my parents were born in 1929, and a lot of what you wrote, you know. resonated with me because both of them went through World War II ... Nina Bressler: Mom was four years old when the siege of Leningrad started. She escaped with my grandma who was just who's quite young. She was only 21. They were on one of the first transports to leave Leningrad because my mother's father and my grandfather was pretty high up in the Army. And so there were two transports that went across.  I don't know how much you know about Leningrad, but when the Nazis surrounded it there was, it was completely under siege and there was no supplies coming in. The Soviet government, you know, Stalin wasn't really helping the people of Leningrad. But in the winter when the, when Lake Ladoga froze, they were able to start bringing transports across. And my mom tells the story that she was in one of the first transports. It was her transport, another transport. Nina Bressler: And as they were crossing the lake they, there was some bombings and they saw the other transport actually go through the ice, but they were able to make it across. And then she spent the majority of the war first, the first few years in Russia and then eventually in Georgia as refugees, but with some family members.  And then my father, he was also a child during the siege of Leningrad, but he spent the first winter in Leningrad, so he really had memories of people starving. And he was a little bit older. He was six when the war started.  When they came back to Leningrad after the war, you needed to register either as Russian or as Jewish. And so both my family, both sides of my family actually had Jewish roots. But what that meant was in the seventies the Soviets opened up the borders and let people through the Iron Curtain with the intention of immigrating to Israel.  But many Russian Jews in the seventies went to other countries. So they used that opportunity to leave the Soviet Union. And then, yes, my mom ended up in Vienna then  was my grandmother who was, you know, already in her early sixties. And and my brother who was 15. Stephen Matini: And then she found out she was pregnant with you in Vienna. Nina Bressler: Yeah, so my mom got to Vienna. She you know, they went to the Jewish Refugee Agency and they actually said, oh, well you see your mother's baptized Lutheran, so you're not real Jews, so we're not gonna be able to support your asylum to the US.  And they went across the street to Caritas, which is the Catholic charities. And Caritas said, oh, you know, we we would love to help you. And actually I think for my family it was better because all of the Russian Jews that were then transported from Vienna to Rome and a lot lived there almost in ghetto conditions for a year or more waiting for their asylum to be sorted.  But Caritas kept their refugees in Vienna. So my family actually had a relatively nice apartment and my mother she was 42 years old, her stomach started to hurt one day and she went to the doctor and the doctor said well you are pregnant. So yeah, so when she was in Vienna, she found out she was pregnant with me. And definitely a lot of people said, oh, you know you don't speak English, you're immigrating to a new country. Probably not the ideal time to be having a child, but she yeah, she always wanted a second child.  And so I was born in Vienna and my father, you know, I'm very genetically very much like him. I look a lot like him. So he didn't meet me till he was able to get through the Iron Curtain when I was already almost nine years old.  My mother had to stay in Vienna until I was born. That's what Caritas asked her to do. And then we came to the United States when I was four months old and you know, there were a lot of other refugees in the US and friends from Leningrad, which is now St. Petersburg.  And they yeah, they would take pictures and send, send them to my dad and things like that. So he saw pictures of me. But you know, even then it wasn't like today you didn't have Skype or other, you know, video calling services, but even letters always were opened by the KGB and read and there were a lot of problems to even just communicate with people on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Stephen Matini: There's one thing in your assay that resonated with me, I'm gonna read it and then if you don't mind maybe sharing some thoughts. You say, “the story that I was born into was one of luck and with that came an unspoken sense of duty. The sense of duty one feels to the legacy of the family can be both an enabler and a hindrance.” Nina Bressler: Yeah. So, you know growing up my mother shared the story of her childhood a lot. And her childhood was not a nice one, it was in the middle of war. And now that I have a daughter, I think about that a lot because you know, as your child grows up, a lot of times you wanna process your own traumas or you start to process your own traumas as your child goes through that same period of their life.  And probably a lot of my mother's storytelling was just trying to process what she had been through cause she couldn't relate it to how my life was so different. And so she would all highlight quite often about how lucky I was. And I think it was common to hear that anyhow from immigrants. You know, we gave up so much, we left our homeland and we came to this country to give you opportunity.  So you have that sense of duty that you need to achieve something in order to live out their dreams in some way. But of course it also puts on a lot of pressure, especially in people who maybe are already, you know, looking to please and things like that. So it's an interesting psychological dynamic that plays out over time. Stephen Matini: I believe it is such an important point of in the developmental maturity of any person. Some people are able to overcome this, this friction and some people get stuck in it. Nina Bressler: At the time really wanted to be very American, right? And so there was this like age divide cause my parents were much older when they had me. Then there was the cultural divide. And so I definitely felt like an outsider in the family but also felt like an outsider in most other situations. But I got quite good at kind of becoming a chameleon I would say.  So I actually didn't live with my parents from the age of 14. I lived with my brother for some time and then I lived in a roommate situation when I was still finishing high school. And I got really involved in like several subcultures. So I got really into horses and this was almost like my doorway to being really American cause I like celebrated all the American holidays or the Catholic holidays rather. And then also I got really involved in the Boston music scene that also, you know, that subculture and there's many subcultures within that. But I was always able to be quite eclectic in my like tastes but then also fit in and almost any scene that I got involved in. So I enjoyed it was always this balance where I enjoyed observing what was happening in a culture a little bit from the outside, but also taste testing it a little bit, if that makes sense. And I think that those kind of patterns still continue today for me.  My parents, I did a lot of work I think on understanding their relationship with each other, understanding my relationship with them. And I do feel that it's been an ama a wonderful perspective to understand what I take from them, but also to consciously be able to say this, these are things that I've chosen not to take from them. Cause these are patterns that have been passed down generation to generation sometimes, or just because of the, you know, culture in the society that don't serve me. And so I can also make the choice to not take them. That's sometimes harder to do than it actually is to say, but you know, if you work on it, you can achieve it. Stephen Matini: When I was 16, my father was diagnosed with cancer. And so for many, many years I lived this really anxiety that I didn't have that much time. We loved each other, but somehow we really, there was a lot of friction, there were a lot of stuff that needed to work out with him.  But at some point I remember that, I don't know how that happened, but there was this thought in my head which was, listen, if you just simply stay in this space, it's gonna be a nightmare for the rest of your life, especially when he will not not be around. So you really have to let it go. And somehow I started looking at him from a different perspective, which is really the perspective that I have now, which is I truly believe he did his best with what he had.  So the question for you is, is there an
Organizations often view change as something to manage, an unfortunate and inevitable inconvenience that gets in the way of solid performance and results.  My guest for this episode is Minola Jac, a transformational business professional whose background combines consulting, organizational development, and journalism.  Minola has worked as a senior consultant for Deloitte and is currently the Group Change and Organizational Lead for the Syngenta Group, whose mission is reducing emissions and improving biodiversity. Minola believes that, too often, organizations focus predominantly on change management without fully understanding what change entails and its impacts on people. Minola highlights the transformative power of the change process to become a metaphorical mirror in which people can see their infinite potential.  SUBSCRIBE TO PITY PARTY OVER Listen to the episode on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Castbox, Castro, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Player FM, Pocket Cast, Pod Bay, Podbean App, Podchaser, Postcast Addict, Spotify, Sticher, TuneIn. Connect with Stephen Matini via email Connect with Stephen Matini on LinkedIn Brought to you by ALYGN Organizational Consulting TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: Hello everyone, I am Stephen, and welcome to Pity Party Over. Organizations often view change as something to manage, an unfortunate and inevitable inconvenience that gets in the way of solid performance and results.  My guess for this episode is Minola Jac a transformational business professional whose background combines consulting, organizational development, and journalism. Minola has worked as a senior consultant for Deloitte, and is currently the group change and organizational lead for the Syngenta Group whose mission is reducing emissions and improving biodiversity.  Minola believes that too often organizations focus predominantly on change management without fully understanding what change really entails and its impacts on people. Minola highlights the transformative power of the change process to become a metaphorical mirror in which people can see their infinite potential. Please welcome to Pity Party Over Minola Jac. Stephen Matini: I read a nice quote from your LinkedIn profile that says, “The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size” by Einstein. Why did you choose that quote? Minola Jac: Well, there's, there's a very long love story between Einstein and, and myself, and, and I will also share a fun fact that quote really resonates with me because I do a lot of change work. Some people call it change management. I prefer to call it change work and focus more on the change than on whether we call it management, leadership, agility or whatever.  I do believe that change starts in the mind and the moment you have a new idea or you connect new dots, or you connect existing dots in a new way, you cannot possibly un-connect them, and you cannot forget it. Maybe you forget the idea itself, but I do believe that at least you get that feeling with you. You know, that feeling of, oh!, you know, that, that surprise, and I dunno how you can un-live that or forget that. This is why I, I chose that quote. It's very funny and it also links to, to change and, and how you hear things and you don't know whether you would ever use them again. A few years back, I was in a development program by my then employer, and we were in a workshop about the use of artificial intelligence in HR, and we had this wonderful trainer completely energized by everything AI.  It was very early days for Siri, and he said, look, Siri, imagine you're in a conversation with a client and you are in in their office, and you'll spot that they have a poster with Einstein. So definitely they're a huge Einstein fan, and when they step out for a moment, you are like, Siri, what's Einstein's birthday? And I raised my hand and he was like, yes? And I was like, March 14th, 1879. He said, you just killed Siri. And I'm like, I'm really sorry. What I didn't share with him was that it so happens I was born precisely to the date 100 years after Einstein.  Stephen Matini: Oh, wow! Minola Jac: You know, I had this information in the back of my mind for 20 something years since high school. And as we will probably go through our conversation today I can share more about the power of stories and how you can repurpose information in, in meaningful conversations.  Stephen Matini: How do use that in your job?  Minola Jac: I will give you an example, another example. I was flying from Tali to Istanbul a few years back, and it was in the middle of my flying phobia episode. I I went through a bad thunderstorm anyways, so I tried to think about something different than the flight and me being on an airplane. I, I started a conversation with the gentleman sitting next to me, and it turned out he was flying back to his home country back to Egypt. He had a business of exporting Arab pure breads like stallions, and he was flying back home from a tour across Europe. He was visiting locations where his horses would, you know, stop every now and again on their journey to their new owners in, in the northern countries of, of Europe.  And he told me that it takes about six to eight months for an Arabian pure bread to go from Egypt to their new owners. Because what happens every one and a half, two months, the horses go a little bit north and a little bit more north. And basically they get used and acclimatized to the weather, to the new nutrients in the food and water. And this is the safest way. So of course you can fly them, but then the risks of them developing, you know, diseases and, and you know, not getting used to the climate is very, very high. And almost about a year ago, I was in a conversation with a key stakeholder on a project at work, and we were looking at the project milestones and the change journey, and there was a reaction of, I don't understand why is it taking so long? And I told him, I know that it's very impolite to answer a question with another question, but please bear with me.  Do you know why it take six to eight months for an Arabian pure bread to get safely from Egypt to Sweden? And then we started to talk about what it means for an organization to get, you know, acclimatized and to go through a process little by little, little by little. And of course, you can accelerate things, but then there are things that just take time Stephen Matini: In your job, I would assume, you must deal with a lot of different people that had different energies and different expectations. How do you keep yourself graceful, centered and calm when dealing with all these people? Minola Jac: Well, just just a disclaimer that, that there's a lot of aspirational room. You know, when talking about keeping oneself centered and, and graceful and, and I think we all have good days and bad days.  What I do believe makes the biggest difference is that even when we have bad days whatever behavioral question marks, we, we live in our interactions, they do not come from a place of ill intent. I think that that is the first disclaimer that I would make.  I read something many, many years ago. When you learn that how others behave towards you has everything to do with them and very little with you is anything, then you learn grace. That is something that I try to keep in mind. How I show up in interactions says everything about me and very little about others, and whatever it is that triggers me is about me. What I learn quite painfully, so in my journey in both life and work is to protect me time. That's time. You know, when, when I really have conversations with myself and spend time with myself and I understand what I reacted to and where I didn't respond and where I didn't stop to, you know, take a deep breath or count to 10 or whatever it is that grounds me. I think a lot of grace to ourselves and others comes from this place of, of just curiosity, courage and compassion that we show others, but we also show ourselves. Stephen Matini: What you just said is something that a lot of people struggle with, which is carving a space for themselves. And often times what I hear is, I'm so busy, I'm busy, busy, busy, busy, there's no time for myself. And also, what would happen to the relationship if I said no to this person, to my boss, to this and that? So how do you set boundaries essentially? Minola Jac: Hmm. This is the moment in conversations when I like to quote Mike Tyson. He has this famous quote saying that we should all sit in meditation for 15 minutes a day, unless we are very busy, then we should sit for one full hour. I think that this carving time for, for ourselves should be just as intentional as is every, everything else.  One thing that really made a difference for me and in, in how I approach my boundaries is I understood that most of the time we think about conversations as something that happens outside of us with other people. We never think about conversations as something that we have with our own self. Who do I need to have a conversation with today? And if it's me, then I will protect that space just as gracefully and fearlessly as I protect my conversation spaces with other people. This is something that I embed in, in my work.  I will give you an example. One of my favorite exercises to run is the stakeholder analysis and mapping. And one thing that that I do is, you know, we talk about the principles and then we, we have a look at tools that might work for a particular team and a particular project.  And then we have this working space where they basically have fun with the tool and they start to list stakeholders and, and their engagement needs. And at the end of that exercise, I ask one simple question, how long does this list need to get before you list your own selves? Stephen Matini: , that's beautiful. Minola Jac: We're never that intentional about our own selves, whether personally or professionall
Excellent communication requires an ongoing effort of self and social awareness to understand both the relationship and the context of the relationship. My guest for this episode is Brian Hanssen, Director of the Management Communication Program and a Clinical Associate Professor of Management Communication at New York University. For Brian, storytelling is a vital communication journey transcending cultures and experiences to help any audience transition from the present to the future. As Brian says, “begin with the journey” to be more inclusive, self-aware, empathetic, memorable, and persuasive. SUBSCRIBE TO PITY PARTY OVER Listen to the episode on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Castbox, Castro, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Player FM, Pocket Cast, Pod Bay, Podbean App, Podchaser, Postcast Addict, Spotify, Sticher, TuneIn. Connect with Stephen Matini via email Connect with Stephen Matini on LinkedIn Brought to you by ALYGN Organizational Consulting TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: You and I share a somewhat similar background. Both of us decided that communication was going to be the focus of our professional endeavors. You've consulted, you teach, and so I've done the same thing, you know, so it's really nice to talk to someone who actually understands my world, without having to explain stuff. I don't know much about your background. Brian Hanssen: The short answer is my formative years were Boston but I'm born in New York. I was a child in New York. I lived in New York and I've lived in New York longer than anywhere else, but I lived in LA for eight years. I've lived in Central America, I've lived in the East Africa, I've lived all over Europe. My mom is from Germany. She grew up in Germany, so I've spent some time there. I've lived in China or East Asia actually, specifically in China. So, yeah, I mean, you know, those are, I, I, for me to say I'm from New York is what I would say, but actually it's not always. Half of my life was other, other places, but Boston is where I grew up. Stephen Matini: Were there any events, people, or situations that somehow have shaped the way that you are? Brian Hanssen: So, actually, I'm gonna start in LA. I went right into education. I went to college in Los Angeles and then stayed out, stayed there for a long time afterwards. And I was a teacher. I actually was emergency certified, because they needed teachers and they went to certain schools and they said, if you went to this school, you don't actually have to have a teaching certification, you can just start teaching and then you have to do it over, over time.  There are two experiences, both from LA both at that same time frame that really stood out to me. One, I was actually, it was my first year ever working out of college, and I was a teacher in a school district that had been taken over by the state because it was so underperforming. And there were a whole bunch of issues. It was the Compton Unified School District in Los Angeles, if you know Compton in, in LA. And the second example is actually I shifted to teaching with students who were court adjudicated in students who are having issues in the traditional school system. And I became an administrator very, very early on in my career. The Compton experience, I think I went in there with such an idea of what education was. Basically, this is what I experienced, and so therefore I'm going to mimic that and deliver that to my students.  And the pushback, the recognition that my style was not going to work with my audience. I think understanding how to basically break down every institutional system that I had ever thought was the way life was ,right, and realizing I had to start over and actually understand my audience, and rethink how I deliver everything for an audience that just, you know, had such low expectations of the system, did not find that system to be valuable, did not, you know, the basic understanding, the basic assumptions I had about why I was there and what we were trying to do and the goals of this educational experience were sort of BS frankly to the students that I was working with. And I had to rethink knowing your audience, which is what we teach, right? So really thinking about delivering and communicating to an audience with very specific expectations and doubts, you know, reasons of disbelief, concerns. These are the sorts of things that totally shaped me.  And then if I can go into the second example, I'd love to just share that one. I went into administration at this other high school also in Los Angeles very early on. I was a, like a vice principal kind of role at that, at that school. And I was much younger than the other staff that worked there. That school was in East Los Angeles, the student population, and actually the faculty were largely Latinx. And I'm not, I went into leadership and I was much younger, and you can understand how perception is reality, how challenging that was. I think for the, for the faculty I worked with. And it was, for me, we really, I think learning about communication and trust, and again, going back to this idea that like, just cuz you're in this position doesn't mean anyone's gonna authorize you in it. And just because you're in this position doesn't mean that like you're automatically going to get the same sort of like, outcome that maybe, I don't know, my experience would, I mean, it was just, at the end of the day, it was sort of like, who are you? Why are, why are you in this position? What value are you going to bring? And until you actually prove any of those things, we aren't going to trust you.  And I think early on, learning these sorts of experiences and being like, wow, all the things that I've sort of assumed to be true in terms of like hierarchy and like following rules and like working towards a certain goal was like, it just because I'm the boss doesn't mean that that's, that's the way it's gonna be.  And, and, and I think that everybody should learn that because it's changed my, like my entire way of communicating, leading everything in between is sort of like, yeah, like I need to rethink every assumption I make about my own experience and why that might be relevant to someone else. And I think that's good. Stephen Matini: So everything is ... what is the word? Situational? Brian Hanssen: Situational leadership and, and, yeah, for sure. Stephen Matini: So education was always part of your plan or you ended up teaching by coincidence? Was it a conscious choice? How did it happen? Brian Hanssen: Yeah, I wanted to teach. I actually was going to be a lawyer, like most college students. They just assumed that being a lawyer is a good thing. So I was like a political science major. I, you know, took the LSAT and all of that, and I was like, I have no interest in going to law school. I actually interned when I was in high school at like this amazing company and I was in the legal department there.  And I had a lot of exposure to the type of work that they do and lots of respect for it, but it wasn't for me. And I realized I went my, my, like summer before my senior year there was a, a teaching strike in Costa Rica. And basically they were doing a partnership between the University of Costa Rica and the University of California, the whole system. And they were trying to find Spanish speakers who were interested in not strike breaking but going down and working with students just so that their educational experience wasn't completely like broken, right? So we just worked with students, we had lessons, we, we played with the students, we worked with them and that sort of thing, just so that they were still learning. We were not teachers, we were not paid. And it was more for the students benefit and still very much in solidarity with the teachers who are teaching in Costa Rica. But you know, it was a really cool experience. I'm so glad I did that and it made me realize I wanted to be teaching. That was, that was it. Stephen Matini: What is that you love the most as of today about teaching? Brian Hanssen: For me, I think it's actually the, you go into a class, you could teach three classes in a row and they go so differently and it's sort of like, wow, this really killed last year. Like everybody was so into this topic, I'm gonna like, I can't wait to do this again. And then it just dies. It just falls flat on its face. Or other times where you're like, I think I should get rid of this. And then you don't, and people are like really into it and you're like, why?  I don't understand. Like, it's the same exact delivery. I've done nothing different. But I actually loved being a, like, so we, I was a consultant for many years as well, and I loved the change, the nature of change, new projects, new clients, and what I went full time into to this role now, I in academia, I was like, I think I'm gonna get bored teaching the same class for 20, 30 years. And that is so not the case. Stephen Matini: When was it like maybe five years ago or something. I had two classes. So one was late in the afternoon, and then the following day at 9:00, I had the same exact class quite with different students. And so the one late in the day was a miracle, was so much fun. They were interested, interesting, kind, funny. I mean, one of those classes you think if every single class could be like this, this would be truly heaven, I had so much fun.  The following day, and nine was the opposite. It was the opposite. I could have literally exploded a bomb, nothing would've happened in the class. Like I played all my tricks in the, and everything will will fall flat. But interestingly enough, the one in the morning performed better than the one in the late afternoon.  Every single class, every single group has a life on its own. That group really have a chemistry that is that, and you have to be okay with it. A big chunk of it that is completely beyond my control, I think. Brian Hanssen: One of my favori
Living a successful personal and professional life requires a lot of things, including tremendous commitment, strategy, gut feeling, and courage. This episode's guest is Sergio Azzolari, CEO of DSQUARED2, the high fashion brand launched by twin brothers Dean and Dan Caten. Sergio embodies the cosmopolitan spirit, combining worldliness, wit, culture, and wisdom imbued with humanity and kindness.  Sergio's life experiences span from Benetton and Missoni to Luxottica and Hogan, speaking six foreign languages and living on five continents.  SUBSCRIBE TO PITY PARTY OVER Listen to the episode on Amazon Music, Apple Podcast, Castbox, Castro, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Player FM, Pocket Cast, Pod Bay, Podbean App, Podchaser, Postcast Addict, Spotify, Sticher, TuneIn. Connect with Stephen Matini via email Connect with Stephen Matini on LinkedIn Brought to you by ALYGN Organizational Consulting TRANSCRIPT Stephen Matini: So, how's your life in Ireland? Sergio Azzolari: Well, life is in Ireland is good. I mean the weather is always a surprise. I mean, you have a wardrobe that is basically layers. Maybe it’s sunny like now, or maybe like dreadful like a few hours ago. And, you know, but that was good. And Dublin is really booming again. You know, it used to be one of the Celtic Tigers years ago, and then it developed incredibly. And then because of Brexit, a lot of tech companies are moving over here.  So there's a lot of hustle and bustle. This is good. Very young, very young city, very young town, very young people around, obviously being tech and all. So yeah, it's quite interesting. It's very interesting actually. A lot of things. And, and Dublin is Dublin and then you just go like minutes, minutes away and it's scattered side and beautiful cows, all that. Just kinda, kinda refreshing as well. Why not? Stephen Matini: You lived in London before, right?  Sergio Azzolari: I lived in London. I lived in the US. I've lived in Hong Kong, I lived in Australia. I've lived in New Zealand, in Argentina ... yeah ... Stephen Matini: How does this experience compare to the other places? Sergio Azzolari: Well, you know, places are different, and you are different because you are, you are different. As you grow, as you grow up, obviously you have different sets of eyes. How do I compare? Well, if I compare with ... I mean it reminds me a lot of the US many years ago not now, now the US is not what it used to be. It's all woke. You can't say anything. You just have to be like, you know, super tame and be careful, not respectful before you were respectful. Now you have to be careful, which is a completely different set of mind.  Here reminds me of the Google Days in US. So kinda laid back with the sense of humor. Good to stay home, good to go out and see friends, not being afraid what you say, what you don't say. So it reminds me a lot of that.  It reminds me a bit of Australia as well in terms of mentality. You know, very laid back. I have, I had a meeting with our landlord because we are renovating offices and things, and he doesn't see me on Wednesdays because he has to go play golf. And it's so refreshing actually because, you know, being used to Milan, for example, where everybody's busy.  Or New York pretty much the same mentality, or London. Here it is, is a lot more refreshing in a way. So you, you wanna have amazing and say, oh, do we need to discuss, or do we need to sign things? Okay, do we need to sign things?  You come to the office, we don't need to sign things and we just have to have, have a chat. Okay, let's meet at fiver thirty at the pub, order a couple of pints or more. And then, you know, you have a conversation. And that's, there's a lot of human side of things here, which again reminds me of places like Australia or the US many years ago.  And it's quite nice actually. And if I compare it to Milan, I go to Milan quite often cuz we have one of the offices in the showrooms and all is in Milan. So I get to see the difference almost weekly. And in Milan, we are stressed. The atmosphere is always a little bit, I wouldn't say gloomy cuz it's not the right word. But it's always like, there's always an underlying tension. Underlying current, it is not really good vibes, and it's self-generated. And it is not someone telling you that you should be stressed, you should be underprivileged because you live. It's a self-inflicted pain. Yeah, absolutely. So there's, there's a certain degree of masochism in Italy that I don't understand really. Cause you know, the work life balance is possible. I mean, I work here in, in Dublin, my days are very full. I have calls, I have meetings, I have things, and I have to prepare budgets. So I have the same degree of stress that I would say that I have in Milan without the stress stressful part. So I get to do a lot more in a shorter time here. Versus what I do in in in Italy.  But that's, that's also, I think it’s a bit of the difference between let's say the Anglo-Saxon world and the Mediterranean world. Where you have to talk and convince and meet in the Mediterranean world, whereas here it’s a lot more simple in a way. It's a lot more, I wouldn't say directional, but it's like, yeah, we need to do this. Okay, let's agree or let's agree to disagree, and then you just, yeah, do things.  Stephen Matini: Maybe pragmatic?  Sergio Azzolari: It’s, it's a lot more pragmatic. That's true.  Stephen Matini: When people ask me the question, where's home, I never know how to answer. Sergio Azzolari: Yeah, we’re in the same club. Okay, well people say home is where your roots are. And that's not a question. Cause I was born in Italy just because of my mom's choice. So my parents at that time were were based in Trinidad, part of Spain, Trinidad, and Tobago. So knowing my mom, she must have gone to the local clinic, browsed around and said ... not here. So I was born in Como, which is kind of cool, but I never lived there. So, because when I was like a few weeks old, I was already on a plane back to Trinidad. So is home Como? Not really. Is it Trinidad then? I was conceived there but most likely no, because I've never returned after I left when I was two years old. So it's very, it's very difficult to really say where you're from.  I elected to be from somewhere a few years ago. I never owned any house. My family never owned anything. Like, you know, whatever we owned was like long gone. And so we always rented. I mean, even my parents lived in Milan for a number of years and they rented. So years ago I decided to buy myself a property, a small cottage in the hills, not far from Milan.  And that's what I call home now, it became sort of my hobby in a way. So I started building and doing things and, you know, designing. I designed the complete house, and designing complete furniture, designed the entire thing, even though I'm not a designer. So working with local artisans and all, and it's, it's like never ending, never ending projects. And that's what I call home.  Am I from there? No. Do I speak the local dialect? No, I understand it, but I don't speak it. But as home and that's, you know, so people like us, I think at the end of the day we sort of elect where we are from. Cause if we just look backwards and say, okay, where my roots are, okay, they just go everywhere. And then you say, yeah, where were you born? Okay, that's inconsequential.  Where are your friends? Pretty much all over the world. So it's, it's very difficult to pinpoint exactly where it's home. You know, when you see other people that, you know, they have their childhood friends and you know, they have the family, they have, you know, all the certainties around them, and you don't, in a way you be jealous. But then again, you're not ... say, okay, yeah, well I'm free for Christmas. Put it this way. Stephen Matini: In hindsight, were there any sign back then when you were a kid of the person you would become? Sergio Azzolari: Signs? I don't know. I mean, probably like ... Look, I always traveled, but I always wanted to travel. I always wanted to accomplish something. Everything that I did was always with a certain degree of commitment. Otherwise I wouldn't do it. So I wouldn't do something. I would  not try everything if it's not my cup of tea, but just give up the same day.  So I cannot play guitar. Biggest regret I cannot play music. And I said, okay, that's fine. I mean, I'm not good at it. I won't be good at it because, I mean, it's probably not in my DNA set to be a musician or anything. So just, but everything that I did was with a, with a full on commitment.  So I played rugby for 32 seasons, and I played rugby internationally, I played rugby at the highest standards even before the professional year, or at the beginning of the professional year. And it became one of the first professionals. I started, and I graduated early because I wanted to get my PhD out of the way. And actually I started working even before getting my PhD.  I wanted to be one of the first foreigners in China who could speak the language. And actually that kind of helped and that's what I did. So everything that I did was with a certain degree of commitment. Did it, did I, did I have the big picture in mind? No, not really.  Like for instance, I'll just give you this example. Well, I, I studied economics and I studied Chinese. And I went to Beijing actually in 1989, it was Tiananmen when I was there. And so I was set up to be like probably an economist or working in that kind of environment. And actually I did my thesis on joint ventures in China, because back in the eighties, that was early nineties, that was the only way to do business in China. Joint ventures were local enterprises actually, or govern-owned enterprises.  I started working for a legal firm you know, making contracts, or like studying them, the ways to do contracts for joint ventures. The idea that I would end up in fashion? Never. Right? But, so it h
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