Drink Like a Lady Podcast

Season 4, Episode 10: How Do You Know if You Are a Strategic Thinker?

November 11, 2021 Joya Dass, Kathie DeChirico Stuart Season 4 Episode 10
Drink Like a Lady Podcast
Season 4, Episode 10: How Do You Know if You Are a Strategic Thinker?
Show Notes Transcript

In Season 4 of the Drink Like a Lady Podcast, we have focused on how to kickstart the process if you need to lay out strategy. We also shared how that strategy worked at Spanx and Amazon. In this final episode of Season 4, we offer up SIGNS that you are, in fact, a strategic thinker. And steps you can take to make your strategic thinking skills BETTER.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE A STRATEGIC THINKER?

Here are some signs that you're a strategic thinker:

  • Spending time in self-reflection: If you frequently find yourself reflecting on your work, completed tasks or experiences that you wish had gone differently, then you likely are a strategic thinker. One of the characteristics of strategic thinkers is reflecting on events and experiences and then using that knowledge to impact your future performance.


  • Asking a lot of questions: Strategic thinkers try to understand context and avoid problems that could arise ensuring everyone involved understands what they need to do and why. Strategic thinkers ask questions about why an issue is important, what key factors led to a decision, what outcome is most desirable and who it will impact.


  • Compartmentalizing distractions: If you are a strategic thinker, you likely are effective at compartmentalizing your responsibilities and minimizing distractions to focus on whatever priority is most relevant and highest.


  • Setting regular goals: Strategic thinkers often set performance goals for themselves in order to continue progressing professionally.


  • Demonstrating decisiveness: Strategic thinkers understand the importance of being decisive in their decision-making. They efficiently gather information and then make a decision based on that information. They recognize that reaching decisions and being decisive takes both knowledge and confidence.


  • Welcoming to feedback: Another sign that you're a strategic thinker is that you are collaborative with others and open to feedback in order to improve your abilities.


  • Enjoying helping others: Strategic thinkers often enjoy helping others to perform at their best and achieve their fullest potential. They recognize that it's important to help everyone overcome challenges in order to reach company-wide goals.


  • Planning long-term career goals: If you are someone who regularly imagines where you will be professionally in one or even five years and begin taking the steps to get to where you need to be, then you likely are a strategic thinker.

Here are the steps you need to take to further develop your strategic thinking skills:

1. Pause and reflect

The first step you need to take to improve your strategic thinking skills is to commit to slowing down and spending time reflecting on a situation. To ensure you do this regularly, you may want to schedule time each day or week to actively spend time just thinking. 

2. Gain experiences and ideas
T
ry to gain new experiences whenever possible. Visit new places and meet and have conversations with new people. You could even just take a different route home after work or visit a new part to stimulate your mind.

3 Discuss ideas with people who think differently than you

If you need to resolve a problem, bringing together people who are extremely different, such as creative people and technical people or introverts and extraverts, can be extremely useful for generating new ideas.

4. Make decisions about what to do next

Part of being a strategic thinker is executing on what you learn. After you spend time thinking and generating ideas, you need to execute your strategy. Identify the resources that you need to execute your idea and then take action.

Joya:

Kathie, happy Wednesday. We are back with the final episode of Season Four of the Drink Like a Lady podcast, which is designed to get you as a female leader, a seat at the bar and a seat in the boardroom and Kathie, this season, we've been really focusing on how to be a strategic thinker. And how did we arrive at this?

Kathie:

Well, really what we, we understand that strategy is really one of the highest skills that you can have as a leader and those companies and individuals, they are successful when they understand how to use strategy to build their businesses and self-brand.

Joya:

And, you know, we know a lot of people who their businesses were kind of born overnight and they hit the ground running. So where does strategy find its way into your every day when you've already done that?

Kathie:

Well, I think what's really important is to understand that, you know, first of all, do you have it in you? Do you know, are you a strategic thinker to begin with? If you're not, then you've gone to take a look at what are those components that are going to move you forward? What do you have to learn? The strategy can be learned. Um, some of them do it very naturally and, and then others, you know, just sort of have to, uh, jump on board.

Joya:

All right. So for those that are skewing to the ladder, we are focusing today's episode on how do you know. If you're a strategic thinker, and if you've arrived at a conclusion that you are, then what can you do to make sure you further develop your strategic thinking skills? So, first of all, we're, let's tackle that first half some signs that you are in fact, a strategic thinker is that you spend some time in self-reflection and why is this? So important?

Kathie:

Well, you know, one of the things as, as I went through this again, and I looked at it, I said, what are those strategic points in what I can reflect on and said, it helped build whether it was success or actually was failures. And I talk a lot, you and I talk a lot about failures and how they're really an asset to us. So, um, in one case when we were doing some production down in Mexico, it actually failed because I took the same thinking, the same strategic thinking that I would do here in the United States. it completely failed. And what I did, what I learned from that is you need to culturally understand where you're going and what that might look like in different, areas of expertise.

Joya:

Said another way. I like to call it the football post-mortem every team sits down after they've won or lost a game and talk about what worked, what didn't work, what do we need to tweak for the next time we're out in the field, which inevitably you will be. So spending that time in reflecting what worked, what didn't work, and I'd actually wager, you're going one step further and keeping lists of what works, what doesn't work, so that you can always go back to that. It's part becomes part of your toolkit when your back is up against the wall and things aren't going your way.

Kathie:

Sort of like a GPS system when we've talked about that as well as sometimes part of a strategy will work, but the other parts aren't working and how do you bring that back into line?

Joya:

Yeah. I was listening to the CEO of Landry speak and he has something called the 95/5 rule, which is, and he also happens to own a sports team, which is the Houston rockets. And he says the 95/5 rule is that 95% of your business or your team is working. But what does that 5% that isn't, and it's a harbinger of things to come. And he says that he can walk into any restaurant or look at any sports team and see right away what that 5% is. So maybe it requires you to bring somebody else from the outside to look at things that you don't see yourself.

Kathie:

Very important point.

Joya:

So that goes into the next one, which is to ask questions, many, many questions. And why is this important?

Kathie:

Well, I think curiosity really that's fits into this is to get a 360 viewpoint because we are very myopic in our own world. No matter how experienced we are, we can become myopic, especially with the influx of all the information out there. So it's very important to continue to ask questions. You may be missing critical information in terms of your decision-making. Also, you want to make sure that, you know, you've got some other experts alongside of you that are helping you look at this in a way that's really much clearer as a, a 360 decision.

Joya:

After you and I get off this call, I meet with my business coach. And the one question that she always brings me back to is why is leadership important? Why is what you do important? What outcome are you hoping for those to become members and who are you going to impact? And I feel like that's something that we revisit every single week because I have to be crystal clear as I lay my strategy, moving forward.

Kathie:

Well, it sounds like we've got a good coach.

Joya:

And now you've got to silo the distractions I'm working on this admittedly, but you've got to learn to prioritize and you've got to learn to make sure those distractions don't do exactly what they're designed to do, which is distract you. So I actually want to ask you this, when you have a big project and you're in the march to completion date, how do you silo the distraction?

Kathie:

Well, first of all, one of the things I understand is I am very good at early morning meetings and early morning clear thinking. Um, so what I do is if it's a really important information that I have to pull a project together, I work on it very early in the morning. Sometimes, I even get up a couple of hours earlier than I would normally, so that there's no other distractions going on. And I might also prepare for those, um, projects ahead of time, get all the information. And then I worked through the insights.

Joya:

One of the things I like to do is really think about my day, the night before because I'm just in a different headspace. When I wake up, I feel like I'm already chasing the day, but for me to be able to prioritize the top three things that are going to move the needle on my business tomorrow, I need to do that the night before. And then I, I feel like I have to be more clinical about saying no, this week someone asked me to be on their podcast. And I said, no, because I have something big I want to launch for next year. And I need to start to silo even like my own time in order to be able to.

Kathie:

Yeah. I had a coach who said to me very much, so saying no, actually means saying yes. And that is very much a prioritization of what you really want versus what other people want from you.

Joya:

Absolutely. All right. Setting regular goals. And we've talked about this and revisiting this a couple of times this season. Why is that important?

Kathie:

Well, I think, especially for strategic thinkers, this is really important. Strategic thinkers like to build. I like to build something. So once they've accomplished something they're onto the next thought they're onto, how can they improve it? How can they build upon it, et cetera. So, every morning, I have a, uh, a goal list, which usually, like you said, you prepare the night before. And I look at that and it's like, okay, what do I want to accomplish today? Normally I get through 60%, but I do not stress over not reaching the a hundred percent because other opportunities, you know, sort of fall into the day and into the time period that you're, you're working on.

Joya:

And someone said to me this week that it's not important to just set the three-year goal. Of course, that's like driving to California. There's many ways to get there, but you also got to think about the 30, 60, 90 day goal. And for anybody who's at sea and lost on how to do that, what would you recommend?

Kathie:

Well, it's really a mapping process and where I, what I tend to think as you go to the 90 day, and then you go backwards. So 90 days, where do I be in 60 days? What component of the 90 days do I need to accomplish the same thing in 30 days? And then it's one day at a time. And just making sure you stay on track.

Joya:

Yeah. All right. Being decisive, we all know people that can take days to make decisions, but why is it a real hallmark of leadership when you can be decisive?

Kathie:

Well, if you're working with a bunch of, um, uh, you know, executives, either even partnerships and I'm working on a special project right now, Um, they're looking for decision-making, they're looking, you tell me, you know, what I need to do in order to get to the bottom line. Um, you also, you know, you want, everybody's sort of working in the right direction. Everybody coming together. What's the vision? When you vacillate people also don't trust you as a leader and that's really important. Um, the other thing is I call it a confidence, you know, a quotient, you know, having enough confidence to make the decision, even when it may be contrary to what other people are saying, but you have other information, as well.

Joya:

I want to layer something on top of this, because we read the Bezos letters in there. He, in one chapter it's dedicated to decision-making there's type one and type two. Type one is very fast, but you pivot, you pivot, you pivot, and then there's type two where you take six months to do all the due diligence that you need that before you make an epic decision. But know that it's probably irreversable.

Kathie:

Right. Right. And actually I read something about Amazon today in terms of the, uh, you know, the problem with the supply chain and what they did is they pivot very fast in terms of giving their smaller vendors, the opportunity to buy cargo space and bring them the goods. It was a fascinating article.

Joya:

Well, Amazon always went to market at the big, the play always was yes, we sell books, but at the end of the day, it was their infrastructure that was efficient and wide widespread that allowed them to sell everything else under the clear blue sky. So it's kind of plug and play. If you can't get it from your bigger players, your smaller players already there, you just elevate them, I guess.

Kathie:

Exactly. And then you help them get to where you want to be with them, rather than just saying, you know, you're on your own. So it's been a successful tactic that they've taken this year.

Joya:

All right. The next piece of knowing whether or not you are in fact, a strategic thinker is are you open to feedback? And my favorite. Book on this topic belongs to a Ryan Serhant, who is a broker. He's on Million Dollar Listing New York. And he wrote a book called Big Money Energy. And in the chat, one of his chapters, he talks about the bullshit audit, where you've got to have enough courage, courage being the operative word, to go to your closest circle of friends and be able to ask them, where do you lack and where do you shine? And that feedback can sting, but you gotta be open to it.

Kathie:

And I think this is so important that the minute that you are humble enough and vulnerable enough to have that support and have people give you that feedback, that's when you actually propel yourself to a higher level. One other thing is be careful that you're getting the feedback from people that you actually respect and not just people, you know, who, uh, believed that they know everything and really don't know what's best for you.

Joya:

Right. And if maybe they're just projecting because of they are in their lives, how do you help other people also think strategically, because I think this is a hallmark of leadership as well.

Kathie:

One of the things that I tend to do is I tend to discuss, especially with, um, individuals that work with me or underneath me in the past, I basically tell them what I'm thinking and why. And I go through the iterations. So eventually they start to ask the same questions. They start to think, um, I don't want to say this exactly like me, but they start to think strategically. And then there's a lot of bounce off. So in the beginning there may be a lot of, kind of stop it and talk to you for 10 minutes about this, or what do you think about this? And then eventually they can just go on and they become really critical thinkers, as well.

Joya:

And then long-term goals. We talked about checking in with your goals on a regular cadence, but then I feel like I struggle with this, Kathie. You know, how do you plan your long-term goals? Sure. I can make a vision board. I know where I want to be in five years, but then how do you put in the mile markers to get there?

Kathie:

What's I think is really important is you got to take once again, we go back to taking a critical look at yourself. What is it that absolutely. Um, without a doubt works for you, when, when do you feel like you're in the flow? Um, like I said, I'm working on a project now and we have to overcome multiple obstacles and I'm able to actually work with both sides of the decision-making process. Both the product and the service, as well as the people who make that decision. And what, what is fun for me, even though it's a lot of work is the fact that something's going to come together. So those longterm career goals have I've realized this is important for me. I like doing this. There are times when I've tried something. It's not working no matter how much I try. And that's when you have to say. That doesn't fit into. What's really good for me.

Joya:

And you've got to walk away, All right. So we're coming into the home stretch here, steps that you can take to further develop your strategic thinking skills and look at this. The number one is that reflection that self-reflection is coming back again, but this is a critical first step.

Kathie:

You know what I used to love, especially when I traveled both traveling and commuting into the city, there was, it was an hour and a half, each way, minimum from home to home. That was a time where I pretty much, I turned everything off and I would reflect on the day of what's going to happen and, or what happened during the day. So that reflection allows you to have a quiet space, almost like a meditative space for you. And it really, I think brings a lot of clarity, um, and where you may not be going in the right direction and where you may have to, as we call it the pivot.

Joya:

And then the next one, regardless of where you spend your time reflecting is to think about convergent versus divergent thinking. Effectively, it's two different ways to think about the same situation.

Kathie:

So the divergent means that you're looking at it from a separate point of view and the convergent means it's coming in and where you closely look at the ideas you generate and then range them rationally. So it's important to understand that there's different ways to think. Um, sometimes people just, and it's interesting for me, I will. I tend to think fast. And then I make a decision and have the conversation right away. Then there are people who haven't simulated all the information and they just tend to talk it through. And sometimes, you know, in the beginning of my career, I would be like, Okay, but you said you wanted to do it? No, no. I was just having, you know, uh, a form of thought process and it wasn't really the head thought through.

Joya:

And then gaining experiences and ideas. Once you've done the thinking in its entirety and thinking of it in its pieces. It's important to go and do non-linear things that don't necessarily relate to what you do, because you never know where there's an idea nesting somewhere. And by way of example, I had done a branding class with the former head of branding for Richard Branson, and she always encouraged us as students to go out and do things that were not in our swim lane. And for me, it was going and taking a Russian film class that has nothing to do with women's leadership until it did. And. But there's always to think about and reflect on what is it that I learned there that I've since transposed into my, into my day to day. And it was that, you know, truly Russian film was the beginning of what we know as film today and editing sequences. And so much of my life in marketing, my business is about editing. And so some of that stuff was very fundamental to how I put out content today. And I never thought that was ever gonna be relevant.

Kathie:

And I think that's so important for everyone to understand that nothing in our life is a waste of time and it actually isn't, and it comes down the pike, you know, whether it's, uh, you know, being an athlete. And how do you work as a team? Um, decision-making by coach, which is how executive leaders might make a decision, as well as the, the courage. You have to try something new. When I flew a plane, you know, a prop plane over central New Jersey, Princeton, you know, the New Hope area. And you realize that, you know, with the right training, with the rights items, I have someone with me. Thank God. Um, it, it really, you know, it benefits you. It says I had the courage to do this and all of that parlays into, you know, what you become.

Joya:

I once interviewed Subha Barry, who was the CEO of Working Mother Media. And she's like, you know, where the rubber hits the road for diversity inclusion is with you, the individual, can you commit to every single week having dinner with somebody who thinks completely different than you, or is completely different than you? And I feel like that tees up this next point is how is it? You can discuss ideas with people that don't think like you?

Kathie:

You know, all of my experience in traveling throughout Asia and Europe and Central and South America, um, I loved what I did, so it was very easy and wanting to, um, create those relationships where I now live in a very multicultural association. And it's very easy for me to have these new relationships and they're very rich. Um, so it's so easy to be inquisitive and curious. And what do you think of this? And they're also inquisitive too. I mean, everyone that, you know, we want to all learn from each other.

Joya:

And finally bringing it to a close here, making decisions about how others can also think strategically. So, of course, you have to spend time generating ideas, thinking about new ideas, but then you actually have to execute and then identifying who's going to be, the executioner is going to be an important piece of things actually coming to full term.

Kathie:

I mean, for me, I've always thought about this is this is like having children when you, when you're trying to get a very strong support team in the strategic thinking lane, what you want to do is you want to, first of all, guide them, like they are, um, Young individuals. And I don't mean that in a condescending way, but in a sort of supportive way so that they know that you don't want them to have to course correct and feel that they've failed all the time and yet you have to let them, but thank yous are important. And then, you know, once again, I've often said, come back, let me be your partner. Even if you make a mistake. This way, that mistake doesn't feel tragic to you or anyone else.

Joya:

Kathie we've closed out this season, um, with a lot of conversation about how to think strategically, what are some of your closing thoughts?

Kathie:

You know, all of this is so rich in, um, leadership, leadership, you know, I just talked to someone else and I was telling her how I was doing the podcast. And I said, you'd be surprised. And when it came out, I thought, well, that was silly about leadership, but I think it's really important that we all can be leaders in our own world and that we actually need great leadership, good leadership with morals values, um, to help us in anything and everything that goes on in this world today.

Joya:

And I think that the word strategy and long-term strategy was often very intimidating for me. But I think that what we've been able to do in this season is really break it down into sizable chunks and how you can think about laying out strategy in those sizeable chunks. So I think it's been a, an exercise that's worthy for both for, I'm not sure yet for you, but for me, as well.

Kathie:

Yeah, well, I think, you know, we've made it succinct and I think, you know, sometimes when, you know, I think strategically, I don't always break it down for others. Um, except if I'm in the middle of a project. So I think we did a great job.

Joya:

Kathie, if anyone wants to work with you, you're a business strategist, how do they get in touch with you?

Kathie:

They can call me directly on my cell phone at (609) 933-7600

Joya:

And I have a leadership platform and the most powerful way I teach leadership is through public speaking. And so my next cohort of my public speaking masterclass rolls out January 5th. If you're looking to build a personal brand and you're a woman in corporate or a business owner, I can teach you how to tell very impactful stories. So reach out to me at [email protected] All right, Kathie, we're gonna take a little break and then we're gonna come back with season five.

Kathie:

Terrific. Joya, speak to you soon.

Joya:

Take care.