Cultivate your Culture

How to Have Fierce Conversations with Susan Scott | S01E02

January 21, 2021 Zoran Stojkovic Season 1 Episode 2
Cultivate your Culture
How to Have Fierce Conversations with Susan Scott | S01E02
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Cultivate your Culture, we are joined by Susan Scott. Susan founded Fierce in 2001 after 13 years leading CEO think tanks and more than 10,000 hours of conversations with senior executives. Over the past two decades, she has shared her expertise with clients through her keynote presentations, TedX Talks, and award-winning books, Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life, One Conversation at a Time, and Fierce Leadership: An Alternative to the Worst “Best” Practices of Business Today. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Susan is a popular and sought-after Fortune 100 public speaker, and renowned leadership development architect. Known for her bold yet practical approach to executive coaching and leadership development, Susan has been challenging people to say the things that are hard to say for over two decades. Connect with Susan via her website.

The host, Zoran Stojkovic believes that we are all born to flourish in work and life. Through his company, Kizo, he equips organizations and people with culture and mindset tools to reach full engagement through powerful workshops, memorable keynotes, and transformative individual consultations.

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/cultivatepod)
Zoran Stojkovic:

Hello, I'm your host Zoran Stojkovic and welcome to cultivate your culture. This podcast we'll be discussing how leaders can build connected high performing teams and business in sport using actionable tools, evidence based systems and simple processes. Today on the show, we have Susan Scott. Susan founded fierce in 2001 after 13 years, leading CEO think tanks and more than 10,000 hours of conversations with senior executives. Over the past two decades, she has shared her expertise with clients through her keynote presentations TEDx talks, and award winning books, fierce conversations and fierce leadership. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Hobart and William Smith colleges, Susan is a popular and sought after fortune 100 speaker and renowned leadership development architect, known for her bold yet practical approach to effective coaching and leadership development. Susan has been challenging people to say things that are hard to say for over two decades. Susan, welcome to the show.

Susan Scott:

Thank you so much, Zoran.

Zoran Stojkovic:

I really enjoyed fierce conversations. That was a book where I took a lot of notes, I use that as I went through the chapters, I used it in my relationships, personally, in my relationships at work in the work that I do in consulting. And I've suggested it over and over and over again, like I got a lot out of the book. And I know you've been to Canada a couple of times.

Susan Scott:

well, it's not that far from Seattle, really? Just straight shot up north

Zoran Stojkovic:

Straight shot up north. Do you want to tell us a little bit about yourself? Like, is there something that I've missed? Is there any any hobbies or passions that you have outside of writing and consulting?

Susan Scott:

Well, you heard my barking dogs in the background. I love animals. I love animals, I love my dogs. During this whole pandemic, they have been fabulous companions. One thing I would say, you know, you said that you've used what you read in the book in your personal relationships. And I have been told that by so many people from all over the world, that I am now almost finished writing the third and final book in the fierce trilogy. And it was titled fierce love. And it's about those romantic relationships, whether you're married or living together, committed or whatever, just two people up close and personal, trying to craft something extraordinary. Because you know, love doesn't make itself we make it or we fail to make it or we unmake it. It's not like God is up there x machinee being everything in our lives, certainly not the amount of love we have in our lives. So that's up to us. And that's what this third book is about. And in January, we will take it out to the publishing world and see what happens

Zoran Stojkovic:

January. That's exciting. I have Fierce Leadership on the bookshelf. It's one of the next books that I'm going to be reading and then your book reminded me of the five languages of love. You probably you've probably read that one. So I'm really looking forward to reading yours and and getting more of those practical tools and questions like I've gotten from the first one.

Susan Scott:

That's great. That's wonderful. Thank you.

Zoran Stojkovic:

So Susan, how, you know team culture is a concept that's been it's been around forever, but it's really hard to pinpoint. There's a lot of different definitions out there, how would you define it?

Susan Scott:

You know, is are and when I think of culture, I just immediately think of relationships. It's all about the relationships, it's about your relationship with your organization, whether it's a company or a team, you know, how do you feel about this group of people and what they're trying to accomplish? Whether it's a mission and vision or just their goals? How do you feel about your teammates, you know, what is the, the level of your relationship with your teammates, and your customers? So if you're, you know, in Seattle, we've got the Seahawks, and we've got the crackin and we are major raving fans. And so the fans are a team's customers so to speak. And that relationship, you know, what is that relationship like? And it just, I mean relationship, it's what you feel when you walk in the door. It's what you feel when you meet up with your teammates. It's what you feel when you anticipate the next thing you guys are going to do together. And it's so it's, it's an emotion, it's not a it's not a head based thing. It's emotion and that's where the you know, Evidence based. So much of the evidence that I use is simply my own, being alive and paying attention to what's happening. It's not, it's not a scientific study or anything, but you can tell when you walk into an organization or you walk into a group of people who are doing something together, you can tell within seconds, what the culture is, and how they feel about one another. And whether they're just faking it and tolerating, or they really genuinely have genuine affection and appreciation for one another. To me, that's what culture is. And I know a lot of people would define it very differently. But I think our most valuable currency is not money, it is relationship, it is that emotional capital, which we either acquire, or, or lose, squander one conversation at a time. So the relationships are forged over time, one conversation at a time. And that's what I, you know, after, after all those years of working with CEOs and having all those conversations, my gosh, with people who are leading every kind of organization, you can imagine, from software, to coffee, to manufacturing, to sports. I even did some work with the Olympic team. Where was I wasn't somewhere in Canada. I know, I was I just don't remember Montreal, actually, I think I was in Montreal. You know, whatever the group of people is, it's that it's those relationships in those conversations. So what gets talked about in a in a, an organization or team, how it gets talked about, and who is invited to be a part of that conversation determines what's going to happen? And what's not going to happen?

Zoran Stojkovic:

Wow, Susan. So what I'm hearing you say is it's really about the relationships, and the relationships are about what we feel when we're with each other. The emotions.

Susan Scott:

That's right. That's right. And I think that the next frontier for exponential growth for any organization, or any individual does lie in the area of human connectivity. And so how connected are we? Is it? Is it shallow? Are we sort of waterskiing through the relationship? Or are we willing to put on a tank, you know, and go blue below the surface and connect with one another at that deeper level, that's when we really see one another, and we feel seen. And I'll just back up a little bit Zahran when I, when I was working with the CEOs, I had, I had two groups of non competing CEOs, and each group had 15 to 16 at any given time. And, and, and I would meet with each one of them individually, once a month, for two hours, sort of a come to God chat, what's going on, and then each of the groups would spend one full day together to advise one another on their most pressing issues. So you know, when they, what I noticed was when they were asking themselves, how did we lose that customer? Who counted for 20% of our net profit? or How did I lose that key employee for whom I had great plans? How is it that I've lost the cohesiveness of my team? And once in a while, how did I How did I lose an 18 year marriage that I was not prepared to lose? Well, you lost that you lost your customer, you lost your team, you lost your employee, you lost your marriage, one failed, or one missing conversation at a time. And if you ask yourself, How did I gain that amazing, new client that our competition would kill for? And how did I attract and retain the most amazing employees and teammates? How is it that my team is really dedicated to whatever we need to do to accomplish our goals? How is it that my personal relationship is is a thing of great joy to me? And how did I get there? Well, they arrived there one successful conversation at a time. So it was just really clear that conversations were the the ribbon that ran through everything.

Zoran Stojkovic:

Yeah, they absolutely are. And I mean, culture cultivating a culture is important, but why do you think it is important Susan and for business and for sports teams? Why should people be spending resources and time and money on taking time to get those relationships?

Susan Scott:

No, show me the culture in a company. And I can tell you within minutes whether this company is going to, or this team is going to go anywhere or not. I mean, the culture. Somebody said, culture eats strategy for breakfast. I don't remember who said that. But it was brilliant.

Zoran Stojkovic:

Peter Drucker, I think.

Susan Scott:

yeah, yeah. And that's such a good quote, it's so true, you can have, and I saw this happen, you can have brilliant plans, fantastic strategy, you can even have great talent on the team, and you're all dressed up and ready to go. But if those relationships are not solid, if there isn't that mutual respect, and shall I dare say, affection for team members, then the first time something tough gets in the way, things are going to start to fall apart. So for for an organization or team to be able to stand to withstand hardship, there has to be something at the core of that group of people that will see them through this, like, here we are in this pandemic, you know, there are, there are couples now who are spending forced time together, and some are loving it, and some are not loving it so much. Because when we have to be together, relationships accelerate for good or bad, you know, all the things that are great about a relationship or amplified than all of the things that aren't so great are amplified. So what is it, you know, if you want to, if you want to accomplish something, you've got to have people who will go with you, I remember, I remember watching an absolutely brilliant man come into a company that sort of needed his brilliance. And he had an amazing plan. It was so smart. But he didn't, he didn't capture the hearts of people at all. They didn't really liking him all that much. Because mostly because they didn't feel like he liked them, or really saw them or really valued them, he was all about here's the plan, you take that heel, you take that hill, very clip, clip, you know. And so eventually, where he wrote in on his white horse, he rode right back out the back door on his white horse, because nobody would follow him. So culture, you can have everything else wonderfully in place. Perfect. And without a strong culture, you're going nowhere very slowly, at great expense, sort of like sailing.

Zoran Stojkovic:

So you saying, Susan, what I'm hearing you say is, it's important to have the culture for the team to actually perform at a high level. And the leaders have to leaders are one of the people that that would that cultivate that culture. And it's important for them to not just look at the numbers and the bottom line and the strategy and the systems and processes, but really look at this human element of it and, and the emotional capital and develop their own emotional capital.

Susan Scott:

yeah, I need to look at all of it. Obviously, we do need the data, you know, we do need the numbers and all of that, we do need that. And we usually have somebody who analyzes all of that for us and tells us, okay, here's how we're trending, etc. And that's important. But there are other things that are that are actually more important. Because if you don't have those other things, these cultural things, then the numbers will head in the wrong direction for you at some point. You know, sometimes when we're doing a training back in the days, when we used to do in person trainings right now, all of our training is virtual, of course. But people would come into the room, you know, a client, a company, and they'd be looking around and they said, Well, wait a second. Where are our leaders? I don't see any of our leaders. Are they going to go through this training? Because we think this is great. We think this is what we really need. Where are our leaders? And the leaders weren't there? Because they didn't think they needed it. You know, they thought well, I'm a leader. Look at my title, look at my corner office, look at my salary and my stock options. I must be pretty cool. You know, I mean, I've I've arrived, I don't need this other stuff. And boy, they do. And I remember one time there was a leader in the room and He was sitting right in the front of the room. And we were talking about the importance of actually having an exchange of ideas, not just one person holding forth giving some kind of a monologue, you know? And he said, Oh, I'm, I'm always really interested in what other people have to say. And behind him. All of his employees were shaking their they were me, shaking their head shaking their head. Oh, man. So sometimes we just we don't, we were not aware of our flaws or imperfections.

Zoran Stojkovic:

Well, so let's say somebody is at a space where they they understand what team culture is, they buy into the fact that it's important. Now, it's on what's the starting place for cultivating culture? Who has to be in those conversations, Susan?

Susan Scott:

It depends. So if we're talking about if there's a thinking back to my CEO, Think Tank days, if there is a problem that needs solving, or a big decision that needs to be made, or a strategy that needs to be designed, an opportunity that needs to be evaluated, it's important to ask yourself, okay, whose perspective? Would it be useful for me to understand if I'm the one who's going to ultimately make the decision? Whose perspective Do I need to understand so that I get it right. And this is one of the big differences between ordinary leaders and fierce leaders, most leaders want to be right. A fierce leader wants to get it right for the team, for the organization. And in order to get it right for everybody, I really need to be thoughtful about whose perspective would be very useful to invite in the room. So not, not just the usual suspects who else should be there?

Zoran Stojkovic:

So is it not necessarily the leadership group?

Susan Scott:

Sometimes it is, but it's not necessarily No. And sometimes the leadership group feels it can feel a little insecure, if they didn't get invited to every single meeting. But I would say to them, Look, you have, there are so many important things that are on your plate with your name on them, I want to cut you some slack. This is not a meeting where we have to have your input. You know, go ahead, please focus on the things at the very top of your to do list, because that's that is your great contribution to us. And it's, it's, it's okay for the leaders to be there. But who else? You know, I think about, there's a wonderful story about Jack Welch, when they bought a manufacturing company, and I don't remember what it was, but some huge manufacturing company, and he called a meeting of all of the employees in their enormous warehouse. And he's standing with his microphone. And he says, you know, we've got some problems to solve here, some real challenges, and I really am open to your ideas. And in the back way in the back. There. I don't know how many people 1000 people in this warehouse way in the back, this guy is waving his arms. And so jack Welsh is okay, you way back there, somebody give him a mic, and they pass this mic and pass it back, and back and back, and back and back. And finally, this guy standing there, he's wearing overalls, because he's one of the guys that walk works in the warehouse. He says, Mr. Welsh, here's my idea. And I've been thinking about this for a long time. And he gives his idea. And Mr. Welsh, jack Welsh says that is a fantastic idea. And the guy says, Mr. Welsh, all these years, you have been paying for our hands, when you could have had our heads for free. That's what I'm talking about. Whose heads whose perspective whose ID who's going to be affected by whatever it is we're doing? Who's going to have to actually do the work? You know, who's, I mean, think about it, think about who needs to be in there and say to them, I want to get it right. So, for me to get it right. I need for you to tell me candidly, what what your thoughts are, you know, what is your perspective on this? And if we get this right, I will be different when this meeting is over, because I will have learned from you.

Zoran Stojkovic:

In your book. You use the phrasing of interrogating reality together.

Susan Scott:

Yeah, yep. Because no plan survives its collision with reality. And reality. I mean, we're all living through the worst collision. This planet could have had a part from a, you know, a meteor or something. That and it has changed. It changed our reality. instantly. And that can happen for a team, you know, somebody gets sick or injured or no, for an organization, something happens, you're your competitor comes out with a really fabulous thing that you don't even have anything close to that, you know, or your clients, their world changes. And all of a sudden, they are more interested in something other than what it is that you have. I mean, all kinds of things can change that we need to regularly interrogate reality so that we can change our plan if we need to. And we have to be willing to change our plans, because we can't just hang on to something just because it was good six months ago, it might not make any sense at all right now.

Zoran Stojkovic:

How have you helped shaped team cultures of organizations, either through systems you put in or through advising leaders on what to do?

Susan Scott:

You know, our clients are all over the world, every kind of company that you can imagine. And the best way to help them form powerful, strong, productive performance related teams is to go through fierce conversations training, so that they know how to work with one another how to collaborate, effectively, how to gather to interrogate reality, to provoke their learning to tackle and resolve their toughest challenges, and in the process, enrich their relationships with one another. So our training is the primary way. From time to time I have accepted a request to coach an individual, but I don't have my, my little boy. Here. She, you see, look, here she is, you can see her Oh, yeah, so I've got three dogs, I'll tell you, it's a it's busy here. But But when I when I, when I am coaching an individual, I take them through our coaching conversation, which is also something that we teach. And that that helps me circle back around to your earlier questions are asked about how do you create this culture? So sometimes it's one on one, right? And I think we have a really screwed up idea about what coaching is, at times. Because, you know, I mean, it's not always just, here's what you need to do. Let me advise you, let me let me I want you to benefit from my wisdom and my experience, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, or even just going down a checklist with somebody. So how did this go? Did you do this? Did you do this? Did you do this? What kind of result? I mean that that can be useful. But if that is the only approach that you have with your individuals, your individual performers, you're probably missing something. So for example, our coaching conversation begins with a really important question,

Zoran Stojkovic:

What's the most important thing we should talk about today?

Susan Scott:

Exactly. I want you to use, you're good Zoran, you did read the book, I love it. You know, given everything that's on your plate, everything that's got your name on it, what is the most important thing you and I should be talking about? And then go there. And there are a series of questions to ask the person. And you give yourself a secret rule, which is no declarative statements. I'm not going to jump in and advise I'm just going to ask these questions until we get really to the end, because what you're doing is you're helping someone think out loud. I mean, honestly, sometimes I don't know what I'm thinking and feeling unless I hear myself say it out loud. And I'm not gonna say it out loud. Unless you ask me questions that sort of helped me get there. And I have my own epiphany, which is much more important to me and motivating to me than advice from somebody else. So you know that that conversation I just threw a Kleenex box at my one of my dogs. didn't hurt her but it got her attention. I hope your your your people who are listening to this can get a giggle out of it.

Zoran Stojkovic:

I'm sure they will.

Susan Scott:

Any of us were working from home, dealing with. It's very real here. So that is that that conversation really helps you connect with that person at that deep level. And they are grateful for that conversation. And they do they feel seen and heard, because they haven't seen and heard and appreciate it. So, you know, the team meetings be thoughtful. And of course, there's a hole in my book, there's a whole how to run that meeting, so that you hear from everybody, and you don't have any person, including yourself, taking up all the airtime. And then this one on one conversation that I would hope leaders would have with their direct reports, or their team members, you know, at least once a month, or the very least once a quarter. Because you, you can think you can think that you know, what's on somebody's mind, you can think that you know, what's on somebody's to do list, and you have no idea what's really going on for them? What's really keeping them up at night. Until you ask. We have to really be asking,

Zoran Stojkovic:

And and so what I'm hearing you say is, is for organizations and teams, it's going through fierce conversation training. And with individuals and individual coaching, it's really around learning, clarifying what the issues and challenges are for them, tackling those and then figuring out how to how to have conversations with their teams.

Susan Scott:

Yeah. And you know what I mean, not everybody's in a position to, to, to take fierce training, although we're, it's, it's, it's readily available to anybody, and it's online. And it's just really simple. But if that's not an option, just give everybody on your team, the book and say, okay, read chapter one, we'll just talk about it.

Zoran Stojkovic:

Like, a chapter a week.

Susan Scott:

Yeah, a chapter a week. And and I think that that can be very useful. And the same thing with fierce leadership, that the subtitle of that book is a bold alternative to the worst, best practices of business today, because we have some so called Best Practices out there that are deadly. And so we need to, you know, if you want to know how to be a great leader, grab that book.

Zoran Stojkovic:

what are some of those toxic behaviors for Team culture? And how have you dealt with them? Or how have you advised leaders to deal with them, Susan?

Susan Scott:

Well, for years, I have been saying, one of the most unhelpful, in fact, damaging things, that supposedly a best practice in organizations is anonymous feedback. And it's often 360 anonymous feedback. The 360 part's great. You're getting feedback from everybody, you know, all around you, people who you report to people who report to you people who are your peers, cohorts. The anonymous part is horrible. It's horrible. People hate it. Why? Because you could say, so let's say you're my boss, we say okay, Soos, let's sit down, and let's go over the feedback that we've received on you. Here are the really positive things that people are saying, they're really like this, and this and you're doing a good job here, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then over here is, and you'll tell me something negative. And all I can think about is, ah, who thinks that? Who thinks that about me? I'm not like that? What is the Who? Who, you know, and we're just, it's just a human nature thing. And it's also we don't know, not only do we not know who thinks that, but we don't know why. Because people are very careful in writing down anonymous feedback stuff, not to put down anything that would identify them as the person giving the message. So we don't know why. What happened, what did I do or say or not do or say? clueless? So I would be I would love to learn, but I don't you know, I don't know. I don't know what

Zoran Stojkovic:

But don't you think people will hold back if it's not anonymous?

Susan Scott:

Um, they will unless they've been trained how to give feedback. I gave you some feedback at the very beginning, you know, before we started and everything, feedback is fake feedback is neither positive or negative. It's just feedback. And if we stay current with one another, if we say to one another, wow, I was so impressed. I watched You in the meeting this morning. And man, people were really challenging your ideas, and you were so grateful. I mean, you you just took it You didn't shut anybody down use it. Thanks for your comments, say more about it. I mean, you were really curious and welcoming, you blew my socks off. That was awesome. That's feedback. Or you could say, I remember saying to one of my employees years ago, oh, my God, I walked past your desk, and you were yelling into the phone. I'm pretty sure you were talking with a customer. What was going on? And he said, Yeah, I know, she's deaf. She had, she won't wear a hearing aid. She has hearing issues. And she keeps saying, I can't hear you talk louder talk. I'm pretty sad. And we're both laughing. We're laughing. Now, I could what we tend to do is make up stories about people. And then we behave as if our stories are true. So I made up a story about this employee yelling in our customers. And so it's, I mean, we have a whole approach to feedback that takes the curse off of it. And what you want to do is stay current. You don't want to wait for once a year, or once every six months to give feedback. I can't even remember, even if you describe the incident to me, I'm going to have a problem remembering it. But if you come to me really fresh, and you say, hey, Suze, I think that when you said so and so i think i think you left a pretty negative emotional weight with Laura. I believe she was feeling pretty injured, then I can say, Oh, my God, I think you're right, I probably did. I'm going to go and apologize to her right now done.

Zoran Stojkovic:

And that fixes. And that one conversation fixes the relationship, and it nudges it into a better direction.

Susan Scott:

That's right. And we don't i don't get a year later or six months later, this thing about she hurts people's feelings. I wouldn't. What the heck are you talking about?

Zoran Stojkovic:

Laura may be gone.

Susan Scott:

Yeah. I may have hurt her feeling so bad that you know, so the bold alternative is 365 days a year feedback face to face, if possible, if not least on the phone, do not give feedback, unless it's praise via text or email. I mean, we need to hear voices, ideally see one another's faces. So it's just that people don't know how to give feedback.

Zoran Stojkovic:

Are you a fan of sandwich feedback?

Susan Scott:

No!

Zoran Stojkovic:

The reason I mentioned it is because you talked about in the book specific specific.

Susan Scott:

Yeah, yeah. In Australia, they call it the shit sandwich. Cookie approach, where you say, you know, you're doing a really good job here. But Baba, Baba, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah. And I'm, but I'm really glad you're a member of this team. That's, that is not effective. And I don't know now the next time you come up to me and you say, Susie, I really liked the way you did something. I'm waiting. I'm waiting for the other shoe to fall. But I don't trust you. Because the last time you complimented me on something, then you hit me with a bat. And I'm still rubbing the bruise. You know, I mean, so no, that's not good. It needs to be separate. Ken Blanchard wrote a book many, many years ago, the 60 minute, no, the one minute manager, the one minute manager, really good little tiny book, saying that we should catch people in the act of doing things. Right. And, and calling it out right then and there. Boy, that was awesome. That was really good. catch somebody in the act of doing something not so great pointed out right then in there. And, and you, you just, it's not this long performance review that, you know, everybody dreads. It's not that

Zoran Stojkovic:

you're basically like a sports coach. You're correcting technique, like immediately. You drip in that micro feedback, like often so people can actually change it.

Susan Scott:

Yes. And there are no surprises. I mean, if we do have a formal, let's talk about how you're doing, you know, there are no surprises, because you and I are current, mostly we're going to be talking about Okay, what's next, you know, the next level of your development or this or that when I'm not saying oh, well, we do have this issue with us around. I mean, a lot of people seem to feel that, you know, and you're going What, what?

Zoran Stojkovic:

where did this?

Susan Scott:

If they feel that way? Why did they say anything to me? And that is just that everybody? Everybody has said that? Boy, she would have been nice if they told me they were not happy with whatever. And they but they didn't. It's it's Woody Allen once said, I'm not afraid of death, I just don't want to be in the room when it happens. I think people feel that way about feedback.

Zoran Stojkovic:

Think so too.

Susan Scott:

Don't know how to do it. And so our training absolutely takes the curse off of it. And in the book, it's all in the book, too.

Zoran Stojkovic:

It is. Team culture is pretty airy fairy, and it's sometimes hard to put a pin on it. So how can leaders measure and assess it?

Susan Scott:

Well, you you'll measure it by how many games? Are you winning? And what's the talk in the locker room? I mean, our Pete Carroll, who's the coach of the Seattle Seahawks is one of the most amazing and fabulous men walking on this planet. And I think if if people were to do some research into the kinds of things he does, with his team, and with individuals on the team, and then look how they're Look how they're performing, you know, they just had a recent loss, but usually they're they're doing really well. All the fans 12th man, you know, we're all there. We're rooting for them. That happens because of Pete Carroll. And what he, what he offers them and how he talks to them. And he's not your typical. This is a very old school, but the sort of cigar chomping you know, Mamba coach, kind of it's not like that at all.

Zoran Stojkovic:

No, he's different than he's different than Belichick

Susan Scott:

Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, the team members, how they talk about one another, how they are supportive of one another appreciative of one another, encouraging one another. That all comes from the heart that comes from the heart. And it shows up, when you ask about performance, how do you measure it? Are you winning games are losing games?

Zoran Stojkovic:

Is that it?

Susan Scott:

Well, pretty much, I mean if you

Zoran Stojkovic:

But I mean, culture, you mentioned that you can go into, you can go into an organization. You said, show me the culture of an organization, I'll tell you how they perform.

Susan Scott:

Yeah, that's right.

Zoran Stojkovic:

But how do you What are you looking for? when you're when you're looking for culture? Is it that openness? Is it that? Is it some of that?

Susan Scott:

The relationship, the quality of the relationships. You walk in. Let's say you walk into a company into their lobby, you quickly get a feel for the degree of warmth? Where is or isn't? And I'm the receptionist, look on his or her face? The welcoming the Can I get you some coffee or a glass of water or tea or anything, you know, so glad you're here, let me let so and so no, and then so and so comes out. And with handshake extended, when COVID is over, it says Welcome Hello, come on in you, you. You have clues big tails, right then in there, of whether this organization has a pulse. And but you can also look at their numbers. I mean, you know, this is this has been this whole COVID thing has been really hard for training companies, because in an emergency, if companies are not as profitable as they normally are, then training is one of the first things they generally cut, but we actually are doing quite well. Because companies have just shifted it to virtual trainings. And they know how important it is to continue to nurture their people to help their people continue to develop. You know, everybody wants to feel like they're growing and they're learning things. And to help them be productive during this especially stressful time when they don't get to hang out together. When we have a lot of young employees who just flat out love each other. They're like brothers and sisters with each other. They, you know, they come into the office and they're hanging out and they're laughing and they're talking about their weekends and they're playing games and doing the crossword whatever they're doing. Now, they can't do that. And it hurts. It hurts that we have a culture committee that was tasked with how do you keep us connected given that we're physically apart, and they've done a really good job, they've come up with all kinds of things, whether it's a you know, a virtual happy hour or virtual game or putting little cohorts together to talk about certain topics from time to time. And they keep mixing it up. So I don't even remember what you asked me, Zoran. And I think I wandered off into the wilderness.

Zoran Stojkovic:

All good. All this is really good. You're spewing out some really, really good gems here. See that? How? Yeah, you, when you were talking about getting a vibe for the culture, when you walk in what I thought of is Starbucks Seattle, started started out in Seattle, whenever you go in, it's not going to be more than a couple of seconds before somebody acknowledges you and says, I'll be with you in a second.

Susan Scott:

And so I know what, a few years ago, long before COVID does have that problem. I have to throw something else at my dog. That Starbucks had had a really tough time. And Howard Schultz, who founded it came back into the company. And he said, you know, we, and this, this was him being totally open, totally transparent with not only the employees, but also the world. He said, we got too ambitious, we opened up too many stores and too many places all at the same time. We need to go back to the reason why I started this in the first place was a place for people to gather to meet to because he got me ideas from his times in Europe, when people sitting in on the sidewalk having coffee, and talking and talking and talking. And he's and he made a big change. One of the things he did was they had these, these machines that were really, really high and you could not really see the barista when the barista was standing behind those machines, he got rid of them all. And he got a much lower machine so that the barista could talk with you while they are making your coffee. Just things like that. Um, you know, he stayed true to his vision of what is what is Starbucks about? It's about coffee, but it's about a gathering place. It's about a place to come.

Zoran Stojkovic:

Similar to McDonald's and the whole story of of how that Ray Kroc really wanted to make it about a place where families come connection community, it wasn't about the burgers that had a perfect system for making perfect french fries. But it wasn't, it wasn't about that.

Susan Scott:

Their french fries are so good.

Zoran Stojkovic:

Susan, what does cultivating your culture mean to you?

Susan Scott:

Well, I'll answer that by telling you a little story that's also in my book, and I know you're gonna recognize it. years ago, I was at a conference with a bunch of my peers from around the world who were all leading these CEO groups. And one of our speakers was a Yorkshire born poet named David white. And he stood up on the stage in his beautiful Yorkshire accent. He said, Do you know the young man who is newly married, is often perplexed, even a little irritated that this lovely person to whom he has planted His truth, that's how they talk. And England insists on appearing before his face on a regular basis wanting to talk yet again, about the thing they just talked about last night last weekend, and it always has something to do with the quality of the relationship. And he wonders why are we having this conversation again? I mean, I told you, I loved you. I, you know, why are we having this conversation again? And David said, we're on about age 42. And he smiled because he was 42? Well, I'm about age 42. If he's been paying attention, it dawns on him this ongoing conversation I have been having with my wife is not about the relationship. The conversation is the relationship. So if, if that, I mean, honestly, I had just left a long term marriage, and I was pretty heartbroken about it. But I felt like he was talking directly to me. And then I found out later on that everybody else in the room felt like he was talking directly to them. And it was mostly men. I think I was wonderful, like a handful of women, this sea of men. Everybody just was stunned. And if if you recognize there may be something to this notion that the conversation is the relationship. Then if the conversation stops, well, you can do the math. Or if you and I add another topic to the list of things we can't talk about because it wrecks another weekend, then all of the possibilities for our relationship becomes smaller, and all of the possibilities for the individuals in the relationship become smaller until one day I overhear myself, making myself quite small, as if I'm just the space around my shoes engaged in yet another three minute conversation that is so empty of meaning it crackles. So when I think about culture, I think about relationship, I think about the conversations. And, you know, it could be a little overwhelming feeling, oh, my god, there's all these conversations I need to have, but just take it one at a time, just one at a time. And if you want the tips on how to make those conversations, extraordinary, then all of the tips are in the book, there are seven principles in each chapter on that. Even one of them is be here prepared to be nowhere else. So just being in this conversation with someone prepared to be nowhere else, I put down my cell phone, I'm looking at the TV, I've closed my laptop, I'm not thinking about something that happened earlier in the day or something that's coming up, I am Here I am with you, I am completely focused. And honestly, one of the greatest gifts we can give another person is the purity of our attention. So that's one of the principles. So you know, just take it one conversation at a time, whether it's with your whole group of people, your entire team, or one member of your team. Just take it one at a time.

Zoran Stojkovic:

Is there you've mentioned a bunch of these, Susan, but if there was one practical tool you wanted to leave our listeners with, that they can use tomorrow to cultivate the culture of their team, what would it be?

Susan Scott:

To be fierce, the simplest definition of a fierce conversation is one in which we come out from behind ourselves into our conversations, and make them real. And some people are afraid of real and yet it's the Unreal conversations that ought to scare us to death because they're incredibly expensive. So just start practicing, disclosing what you're really thinking and feeling. Don't withhold, make it real. And see what happens. I mean, it could go well, it could not go well. But at least you will have said one thing that was real for you. And that's you being fierce, that's you navigating, testing the waters, dipping your toe in and coming out from behind yourself, you know, people have all of these images that they present. And they're different images depending on who they're with, you know, my image for my boss my image for my coworker, my image for my community, my image for my priest, my rabbi, my minister, my image for, you know, and we can get to the place where we're unrecognizable to ourselves, because we've got so many images going on. So throw that out. We're not interested in your highly polished, glossy image. We're not attracted to that we can find that on any street corner, we want the real you because there's only one of you. You're it. You are the unique person. There's there's one Zoran on this planet. And so that's the person we want to hang out with that real real person. And and when people are real with us, we tend to be real with them back. So we you know, don't wait for somebody else to do this. You go first model. You go first and take the take the leap.

Zoran Stojkovic:

Wow, that's a that's a great, great wrap up and a great tool to leave people with Susan, tell me is there what I was gonna ask about a book or resource that has shaped your understanding of culture? You have two great books a third one coming out. Is there something else that you would?

Susan Scott:

Well, I have you may find this to be appalling, but I hardly ever, ever read nonfiction. I'm an English major. I like a good story. I read fiction.

Zoran Stojkovic:

Great, what's a good fiction?

Susan Scott:

God, I wouldn't even know where to start. I mean, there's and there's so many different genres that I love. I love anything by Frederic Bachman. But I mean, there's just there's a gazillion things. So I did I've just I've gathered my thoughts about culture because of being awake in the world, and paying attention to what's happening. It's not that I sat down at somebody's feet and they said this is you know, this is what you need to do or that I read a book about it. And it's that might sound ironic since I ended up writing a book about it but I didn't want to but everybody kept saying you have got to write this This down and Okay, I thought I was going to write the great American novel, but I guess I'm gonna write this and then, you know, it's led to wonderful things. So I would say yes, please, if you don't have fierce conversations, fierce leadership, I would start there even go to our website, which is just fierce Inc. I nc.com. Check out what we do. We're doing all kinds of really cool stuff. These days. We're doing 3d simulations. We're doing stuff on Well, I can't even think of what you call it right now. But just all there are a lot of topics that are important right now. Were having to do with whether it's race or gender issues, or inclusion or prejudice, or whatever it is, oh, microaggressions. That's the word I was looking for. You know, what are those? How do I navigate? You know, how do I not say the wrong thing. But without being so cautious that I don't say anything at all. I mean, there, we have a lot of new things that we're doing. And I'm really excited about what we're doing. So yeah, fear sink, and then my books, but I think if you just if you just start being real, and see where it takes you, you might be pleasantly surprised and it might not take you as many conversations as you think it will to achieve what you want to achieve.

Zoran Stojkovic:

That's huge. Susan, thank you so much for taking the time today to speak to our listeners and to share your insight your your knowledge or systems and it was really a great conversation. I know I'm gonna I'm gonna be listening to it back again.

Susan Scott:

Thank you. Sorry. And thank you for having me. It was really a pleasure. Thank you.

Zoran Stojkovic:

Hope to do this again. And and I hope you can come up to visit, visit the island again.

Susan Scott:

you know, well, when the curse is lifted, I probably will let you know I'm gonna hit it on duration.

Zoran Stojkovic:

Hey, thanks for tuning in to cultivate your culture, rate and reviewer podcast on iTunes. Any websites and resources mentioned in the podcast as well as the guests information can be found on the show at www.kizo.ca/podcast. Here's a sneak peek of what's coming up in our episode next week.

Landon Gorbenko:

You see a lot of culture issues that way because they just never learned how to resolve conflict, how to work together towards one goal. So everybody's kind of pushing towards their own goal. And then you get this big tension because everybody's going off on slightly different directions. You got to we got to rein it in so that everybody's going towards one unified vision.