With a Little Luck, You Can Find Your Inner Will
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This story about a granite and gravel company (Luck Stone) pivoting into a values-based leadership and coaching not-for profit business (Inner Will Leadership Institute) as well as spin off a number of related businesses (Luck Companies) is a story about the power of vision. It’s about why connecting with your values matters, and an example of positive turbulence in action. To make things even better, we were able to talk to Dr Tom Epperson, who started working at Luck Stone in college as a summer job and grew with the business through the transition to being the President of Inner Will (as well as the author of InnerWill: Developing Better People, Braver Leaders, and a Wiser World through the Practice of Values-Based Leadership) and Greg McCann a consultant, coach, presenter, author and professor and on the board of Inner Will. Don’t miss it.
With a Little Luck, You Can Find Your Inner Will with Dr. Tom Epperson and Greg McCann
Welcome to the Positive Turbulence Podcast. Stories from the periphery. Here we journey to the Edge to talk to Turbulators about their experiences creating positive change. Hi, I’m Rob Brodnick.
Karyn Zuidinga: And I’m Karyn Zuidinga. In sharing these stories, these perspectives on innovation, creativity, change, and leadership, we hope to generate some positive turbulence for you. Thank you for joining us.
Rob Brodnick: Positive turbulence is an energizing climate that draws organizations towards emerging futures. It provides stimuli to motivated people, looking for ways to make their own contributions toward the success of the enterprise. The transformation story in this episode about Luck Stone Corporation, becoming Luck Companies is a demonstration of positive turbulence in action.
Karyn Zuidinga: Sometimes when I talk to people about positive turbulence, they focus on the positive and forget about the necessary turbulence. You need the energy of the turbulence to fuel the change you want. Today’s episode starts with a story of some pretty significant turbulence that was then turned into a positive, yet unexpected, direction, twice.
Rob Brodnick: I’d like to introduce you to Greg McCann and Tom Epperson, two amazing coaches, leaders, and facilitators from the Inner Will Leadership Institute. Greg and Tom share the unique story of how the Institute came about, as well as many fantastic tips about values, culture, leadership and coaching.
Karyn Zuidinga: We started as we so often do here at the Positive Turbulence Podcast with a sense of exploring the periphery. The result was that Greg and Tom generated some positive turbulence for me. And I think they will for you too. Coming up, Tom and Greg will show you how a little luck can guide you to your inner will.
Rob Brodnick: The Positive Turbulence Podcast is brought to you by AMI, an innovation learning community that is celebrating 40 years of supporting innovation and creativity for organizations and individuals. Learn more at aminnovation.org.
Also would like to thank Mack Avenue Music Group as a contributing sponsor. To hear our theme song, Late Night, Sunrise and other great music, visit mackavenue.com.
Karyn Zuidinga: All right, welcome. And thank you both for taking the time. It’s lovely to meet you again, Greg and lovely to meet you, Tom. I know the book is called Inner Will. That’s the sum total of my knowledge about this right now. So help me out, Greg and Tom, who are you? Why are we talking to you? What’s this Inner Will thing.
Tom Epperson: I guess I’ll start. So Inner Will was started by a hundred year old family company. That’s actually in the rock business. So basically it’s Luck Companies and we’re located throughout the Southeast. So Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia. And basically we’re in the business of taking big rocks, making ’em smaller and digging big holes in the ground.
Years ago, back in the late nineties and early two thousands, we had decentralized the business. We had grown. Exponentially. We had a change in leadership in the whole time the company was growing more and more toxic and we had more and more conflict. Because we weren’t doing anything that managed the culture or the leadership required to do so. In the early two thousands, we got our act together. We developed the organization’s values and probably more importantly, we started building our leaders’ capacity to lead in that kind of environment. Over the next couple of years, things got a lot better. The culture grew a lot stronger. Conflict started to drop, teamwork, started to go up. We became more effective with our customers and our clients.
And the other thing that started to happen was totally unexpected, which was people started sharing stories about how they were taking all of this leadership, work home with them. And how it was helping them have conversations with their kids that they weren’t able to have before or made ’em a better father or better spouse or better partner, better kid soccer coach, all these kinds of stories.
Fast forward to 2008 and being in the construction business in about six months, 60% of our work just evaporated. We were busy trying to keep the lights on within the business. And at the same time, the company’s owner, Charlie Luck got sick. He’s got an autoimmune condition. He nearly died. He’s in bed 22 hours out of a 24 hour day for almost a year. He’s laying in bed asking those big questions about why does the company exist? Why am I here? Why is this happening to me? What’s gonna be different if I get out on the other side of this.
At the same time that we had stabilized the company, he got better and came back to work and essentially said, the company has to stand for more than just making money. We’ve gotta make a positive difference in the world. I don’t know how we’re gonna do that. Go figure it out. The one thing that we were good at other than taking big rocks and making ’em smaller and digging big holes in the ground was this leadership and culture stuff.
So we said why don’t we do that? And he’s like, great. Essentially in that moment, he charged all of our associates with taking this values, work leadership work out to our customers and clients and families and places of worship. And you name it. And we very quickly realized that wasn’t sustainable.
So we started a little business around it. We turned that business into a nonprofit and that became Inner Will. Inner Will is part of the company’s philanthropy. So my job as the president is to break even and have an impact. And essentially what we do is we work with, for profit companies, many of them privately held, we take any money, we make there to cover our costs.
And that allows us to do reduced rate work with nonprofits like Goodwills, YMCA, school systems. Organizations that wanna have an impact and care about their culture and leadership, but might not be able to afford high price consultants like Greg. We’ve been doing that work since 2010.
Greg joined our board, gosh, three or four years ago. Now, Greg maybe even five. We’re united around how we think about leadership, how we think about people, how we think about values. Whether that’s in a company setting, whether that’s in a family setting or whether that’s in the overlap of both. So that is the quick and dirty version of who Inner Will is.
Karyn Zuidinga: That’s helpful.
Rob Brodnick: What was your trajectory in all of this? I heard the bigger story. Where were you during these times? And it looks like maybe you stepped into a lead role with the leadership arm of the whole operation.
Tom Epperson: When I first came to Luck I was working like an hourly job, like summer a thing, running equipment and whatnot. And did that for a couple of summers left, went off to work another job, and then still had friends and relationships within the business.
Got a call one day and they said, Hey, we’ve got this role. Are you doing anything? And do you wanna come back? So I came back and originally I was just gonna work for a year or two and then go do something else. And then at the time. I was getting ready to leave was pretty disenchanted. The culture had gotten toxic and there was a ton of conflict. The writing was on the wall and then along came all of this values and leadership and culture work. And I was a big part of it. I got sucked into it and, had been here ever since. Working with Luck is how I ultimately met Greg in his work with families.
Greg, what was your, like your path to getting to this work and your involvement with Inner Will like, like how did you end up doing the work that you do? And then how did you end up, joining our board out of the kindness of your heart?
Greg McCann: Thanks, Tom. I think given the connection between AMI and CCL, the Center for Creative Leadership, I’ll go back. At age 40. I went to CCL for my first leadership program. Stan Gryskiewicz’s wife. Nur was my coach, and she asked me to have dinner with him because he was on the board of a family business.
And that started. 23 year friendship. I think the next step was joining AMI. I think I’ve been in AMI for 13, maybe 14 years, the innovation group linking it to Charlie luck and Wanda Ortwine who works with Charlie. They came down to Stetson where I was on the faculty for 27 years and headed the Family Business Center.
I grew up in a family business. I’m still involved in ours, but we started the first major in family business. We helped co-start the Transitions Conference and I’ve been consulting to family owned businesses since about 1999, including launching a new firm just last year with two other leaders in the field.
Charlie and Wanda came down because they were just impressed and interested in the Family Enterprise C enter that led to them coming to some of the Transitions Conference. But amazingly, a few years later, the Dean asked me on a famous plane ride to do some things, to turn around our executive MBA. And the center would get certain benefits. I said, how long do I have to think about this? He said, you have until the plane lands. So I stepped in to turn around the executive MBA and got some amazing people involved, including Tom. We co-taught the capstone course and the executive MBA based on values based leadership.
And it pains me to give Tom a compliment, but he’s one of the best teachers. Isn’t exactly the right word. He can teach, facilitate throw the ball to the audience as well. And as with as much agility as anybody I’ve ever worked with just a brilliant presenter. And then I was asked to be on the Inner Will board and I’m pretty selective about what I get involved with, but I just love the work they do.
Rob and Karyn years ago, I became a bit obsessed are their happy, healthy workplace cultures? Especially a company of over three people who went to high school together or something. And I spent two days at Bush brothers, the beans folks, and they have done some tremendous work.
I went up on my own dime and spent two days at the Luck Company. And they let me talk to anybody about anything and it was a different culture. I really believe in the work they do, I believe in the impact they have. I think it’s just something incredibly needed, especially in family-owned businesses, but in all organizations, as Tom. I’ve heard the story of Guy Clumpner coming in, but, I often think of the phrase they used, the meetings were happening after the meeting, so I have a client, I just worked with two years ago. People were following me into the men’s room to have the real meeting. So that’s one of the red flags that the culture needs some work. If you know the meeting isn’t happening in the meeting.
Tom Epperson: That’s your best.
Greg McCann: Now I have a new rule, no meetings in men’s rooms anymore. I.
Tom Epperson: When we first started trying to manage the culture, like up to that point, it had just naturally evolved. There was always a a strong sort of value around people, but it was pretty, pretty paternalistic in that how we thought about people and how we wanted to take care of people.
Wasn’t developmental at all. Wasn’t very leadership focused. And at the same time, we also had a strong operations culture and a strong engineering culture. And then as the company grew, you saw the introduction of a lot of politics and a lot of power dynamics and a lack of clarity, and so all of that stew ended up creating a lot of tension and very much siloing in different parts of the business and different parts in regions and things like that. And early on in our values journey, we really defined what we wanted the culture to look like. We have four primary values of leadership creativity integrity and commitment.
I think part of the magic was operationalizing them in a way that are incredibly actionable, so their behaviors that they drive every day, we use those values and behaviors to do everything, to guide how we make decisions as a business, to who we hire and who we fire to whether we’re gonna make an acquisition or.
We really actively use those values to guide our culture. It doesn’t mean we’re perfect. Doesn’t mean they’re not shadow values floating out there in the ether. But you will absolutely experience those four primary values every single day.
And these are guys who drive like trucks, the size of your house, like it’s a super blue collar, super engineering based organization. And we’ve had to evolve over time. As our strategies have changed, as the business has changed, as the environment has changed, we’ve had to really guide the culture along the way to ultimately help us be effective in accomplishing the needs of the business.
Karyn Zuidinga: Talk to me about the the journey you mentioned, like these are blue collar guys, it’s is blue collar work. Talk to me about communicating that. Okay guys, we’re gonna get some leadership training. We’re gonna, we’re gonna talk about our values. We’re gonna now it’s time to talk about our feelings.
Talk to me about that journey? Because I think maybe it’s not more difficult in a blue collar environment than other environments, it. I think it depends a lot on how it’s presented, but I can imagine some people are saying well, how do you do that? In my workplace, that’s never gonna work out because it’s too engineering or too blue collar.
Greg McCann: Mind if I share a quick story? The day I visited, I was just roaming around talking to people. I remember three young ladies who had started in the marketing department and so on, but I was talking to a guy who worked in the quarry. A pretty hands on blue collar kind of guy.
And he said he had left Luck to start a business with somebody and it didn’t work out, but he said, his wife said, I want you to go back to Luck because you were a better husband and father when you were there.
Tom Epperson: Interestingly and Greg being a part of our board at Inner Will, their direction has always been, we want you to be industry agnostic. Don’t pick a lane and just focus on it. We want you to serve all the industries which is a terrible strategy. Right? However, the cool part is we get to see every flavor of organization, for profit, nonprofit, retail, IT, construction startups, multi-generation 200 year old family businesses. So we get to see it all. And what’s interesting in that while they all have different models and they make money in different ways and they have different cultures, they all have the same problems.
Because no matter what industry you’re in, you’re in the people business and until the robots take over navigating people and how we lead them it’s pretty fundamental wherever you go. And so Karyn, back to your original question, when we first started on this journey, we had rejected three or four different consulting groups.
They were gonna come in and fix our leadership team. And it’s a little bit like bullets bouncing off a Superman’s chest where, we just rejected idea after rejected idea and values based leadership as an approach was really the first one that resonated with our folks. Partly because of how it started and then partly because of our owners and leaders’ commitment to the work.
Recognizing early on, we’ve gotta find a way to talk about this stuff in ways that are gonna resonate to people who aren’t sitting in a classroom every day. They’re not sitting in a white collar job every day. They’re not necessarily, maybe they’re got high school degrees, maybe a little bit of college.
And so really using plain simple, straightforward, highly actionable language in a way that could resonate, like one of the one of the things that we learned early on was that in order to lead people, you had to care about them. This was a real debate we had of, do I have to care about everybody? Can I just care about the people I like, like Greg? This is an engineering blue collar business. How am I supposed to show people that I care about them? And so we go through all of this sort of nashing of teeth and trying to figure out what does it mean to, to care about people as a leader, to the point where, my boss at the time was this, he was an Italian guy and he loved really fancy soups. And he was big and he was macho, but he was in a senior leadership role and he was expected to try. And so I’m going on vacation. I get home. And on my front porch, there’s a package. I open up the package, it’s a dozen roses. I open up a card and it says, have a great vacation, love mark. And so I whip out my flip phone at the time and I call Mark my boss. I’m like, Mark, never care about me again was crazy. The things that we went through to try and dial that in and figure it out. So we really had to figure out what does it mean for us? So the culture wouldn’t reject it, and now I can willingly and openly and in a really transparent way. Talk about how I’m feeling, talk about how I care about somebody. Talk actively care about them, empathize with them in a culture that would’ve rejected that easily 10 years ago
Rob Brodnick: What’s some of the secret sauce because you know, dozen roses on the doorstep is that’s hilarious, but what were some of the tools or tricks that you gave people to use and practice on a day to day basis to be able to get to that?
Tom Epperson: And Greg chime in here just in your experience, one of the biggest tricks or secrets is you, how to normalize it, you gotta make it. Okay. Because people do care about one another. They have friendships, they have relationships. And so you gotta start talking about it and get used to talking about it, and so it becomes part of the language and becomes okay to say things like I’m a messy human being and I’m a work in progress. And so are you, and it’s okay. Or to say, Hey Greg, I deeply care about you, but here’s some feedback about where I feel like you can be more effective and because I care about you, I’m gonna make sure that I’m as clear as I can be. Some of it is just making it okay. Some of it is even driven by process, after 2008 in our construction aggregates business, which was the largest business at that time we had to step back and say, okay, what is our new strategy gonna be? How are we gonna compete in the marketplace? How are we gonna be different? How are we gonna recover what we’ve lost? And we realized that we had to shift from an operations based company that basically made a product and said, we’ve made this product, come get it to a customer focused based company that was really in tune with what our customers need, what they cared about, what their business desires were, and then make products that were fit for what the customers really wanted.
And so we literally took the idea of caring and leadership and values and relationships and built it into our strategy and have built that as our, one of our competitive advantages in the marketplace. And so it’s not just, oh, touchy-feely nice to have soft skills. It’s literally how we make money and how we compete.
So Greg, when you’re engaging some of these different family businesses, like how what’s the secret sauce that you have brought that really allowed people to care about one another and made it part of the deal
Greg McCann: Good question, Tom. Some of the coaching I do and almost, I’d say with every family business I’ve ever worked with, the breakthrough has come when someone got vulnerable. We’re human beings and we’re driven by emotions. Usually it starts off saying it’s a compensation issue, but then you get into things it’s sibling rivalry, or somebody feels insecure about something.
You know, In order to get vulnerable, you have to have a level of trust, level of safety. That’s so important with families. I think of a war movie where the Sergeant needs somebody to run after the machine gun nest. He never pulls out an Excel spreadsheet. It’s always an emotional plea. And then I think, yeah, there’s a lot of good frameworks out there. One, one quick one Tom introduced me to is ask people you work with for three words on how you show up on a good day and three words for how you show up on a bad day. And everybody’s always amazed again, to use one of Tom’s phrase that we’re all professional boss watchers.
Everybody knows that if Ralph has a second cup of coffee, that means he’s having a bad day, or if he wears that red tie, it means something. So most people that do that exercise are surprised. People are paying attention to them. The other thing I think, and I think of an eMBA student that had Tom and I reached out to me about a month ago was just promoted to a new position. And she said, I had let my leadership practice fall off. I think it’s like getting in shape. You can’t say I got in shape back in 2018 and then I stopped
Karyn Zuidinga: Wait, what you can’t?!
Greg McCann: She and I had an hour coaching session and she just said, I need to get back into the practice. So I think it’s stretching those muscles. It’s looking for feedback. It’s thinking strategically and I’ll share something. Every, I have 10 coaching clients right now. Every one of them has creating and cultivating white space time for deep reflective thought is one of their top challenges. And I think you, aren’t leading. If you feel like you’re Indiana Jones running ahead of that, Boulder, you may feel frantic. You may feel busy, but you’re not leading.
Tom Epperson: I feel like you just gave me feedback, Greg, you can use my name. It’s okay. leaders.
Greg McCann: insert Tom’s name here. Yeah.
Karyn Zuidinga: I’m definitely feeling that though, the comment about we’re all professional boss watchers, having been the boss and having been an employee, I’m like, oh yeah, that’s a thing. So let’s say you’re in a place everyone’s boss watching. Everyone knows, but maybe the boss doesn’t what do you do? How do you broach that?
Tom Epperson: It gets into a little bit of what we believe about leadership, and so the book, Inner Will is really based on one of our frameworks, which is our values based leadership framework. So it’s the five practices of values based leadership. And so what we believe at its core is that leadership is a choice, not a title.
We don’t care whether you’ve got fancy letters after your name. If you drive, a fancy car like Greg, if you’re in a key position of power, you still have the choice to lead and anybody in an organization or in a family or in a church or in a sports team can make that choice.
So many of us don’t. Or we make choices that actually undermine our culture or undermine our leadership or undermine our effectiveness. One of the practices is all about self-awareness. To Greg’s point as a leader, am I constantly getting feedback? Am I constantly looking for data?
That’s letting me know what my strengths are. Am I looking for data that’s helping me see myself clearly, both what I’m great at and what I’m not so great at. Am I making choices that align with the person I want to be and my values. And so like any muscle, I’ve constantly gotta be paying attention to what’s coming in and how am I interpreting that? And applying it to my goals, at the end of the day, feedback’s just data. It’s just data that we get to use in service to who we wanna be and what we wanna accomplish. The trick is, do we hear that data? Do we then cherry pick the data that we’re gonna use? And then we make sure we’re focusing on the data that helps us get to where we wanna be.
Karyn Zuidinga: Give me a for instance, because I suddenly the penny drops. I’m like, oh wait a minute. I’m watching everyone else and wait, they’re watching me so now what am I looking for? What feedback am I looking for to help, I know what I would tell everyone else, but turned the mirror around and I’m like, wait a. what am I looking for?
Greg McCann: Karen I’ll jump on that one. I, I remember the Center for Creative Leadership. They said the number one risk to derail, your career is you move up in any organization – and as a sidebar say, this is more true in family owned businesses, because families are notorious for avoiding conflict – is lack of objective feedback.
I often ask my coaching clients, tell me your three biggest strengths, your three biggest weaknesses and at least one blind. And I don’t know that I’ve ever had anybody that could tell me a blind spot off the bat, because if you don’t know those, everybody else watching, you knows those, I jokingly say if avoidance and denial worked, I’d be in favor of it, but it doesn’t seem to work.
A quick example, in my life, if you know the Myers Briggs, I’m an ENFJ. And I remember years ago reading, they can overwhelm people. And I turned to a good friend of mine said, yeah, but not me. And she went, oh my God, you’re overwhelming. And I thought she gets overwhelmed by everyone. So I spent the next week asking student assistants, administrative assistants, colleagues, and they all said, you can be overwhelming. And I thought, isn’t this sad, these people I know, and love and respect are all wrong. It is just hard to rewrite yourself image,
Karyn Zuidinga: Yeah.
Greg McCann: but I think it’s better to know it if everybody else sees it, so it, that’s the courage that leadership takes. I think.
Karyn Zuidinga: Yeah.
Tom Epperson: So the so to tag onto Greg for a second, one of the things that we always say is that we get hired for our technical skills. We get promoted for our problem solving skills, and then we get fired for our people skills. And as a leader, it’s pretty clear that at some point we’ve gotta figure that part out.
For me, I really have three goals. Number one, I wanna be a great dad. Number two, I wanna be a great husband. And number three, I wanna lead and develop people. And as long as I do those three things, that’ll be a life well lived. Well, in order to be good husband, good father, leader, and developer of people, I need ton of feedback. To be a good husband, my wife and I were having a conversation this weekend about like, how can we be in better service to one another.
Like how can we help make each other’s loads lighter? And so for me it’s been things like I’ve had to learn how to empathize. I’ve had to learn how to listen. I’ve had to learn to care about other people’s feelings. I used to think I was a laid back surfer dude, and it turns out I am not a laidback surfer, dude. I know you guys just met me and I know it’s a shock to hear this, but I
Rob Brodnick: shocked.
Tom Epperson: nowhere clear, right? Like I’m not a surfer, I’m a shark. Like I’m the thick skinned and I’m focused on tasks and I wanna get shit done and I’ll roll over you if I have to. And I’m, if I feel like, and probably one of my biggest weaknesses that Greg knows is I feel like if I stop swimming, I’m gonna drown,
Karyn Zuidinga: Yeah.
Tom Epperson: a shark. That’s probably continues to be one of my biggest challenges is how do I live my life in a way that I’ll be around when my kids are older and they have kids. Know, like how can I not burn? How can I show up at my highest levels in best self? How can I have the energy that I need to recover? How can I have the white space that I need to reflect?
Rob Brodnick: Hey, I wanna ask a tough question of everyone on this call. I’m in the field of leadership, organizational development, all that stuff. I’ve used values a lot, right? Help organizations develop those, put ’em into practice, create change around them. And I was sitting one time with the senior leader and something happened that caused me to just have nothing to say. I was stuck! I brought up the topic of how our personal values change as we age. And he came back to me and said, absolutely not. These things are foundation, you know, da, da, da. And I got this like sort of little lecture and everything I was gonna say next depended on the fact that values evolve over time.
And I’d especially like to ask this question in the context of family businesses and generational businesses. Do values change or not? Do they change over a person’s lifetime? Do they change over generations of a family’s lifetime? What’s your opinion, perspective on that? And then, whatever you choose, how do you make that help people?
Tom Epperson: How do you think about growth, Greg?
Greg McCann: The first thing that came to mind for me, Rob, is a wonderful book. I just read, Life Happens in the Transitions and a New York times author interviewed 250 or so people about life’s transitions and he said the emphasis can shift. One of the things he talks about is accomplishment, and that certainly drove a lot of my career.
Another one is belonging. I think I’m at a point where belonging’s more important, as I look at the next, hopefully 20 years. So yeah, I think they evolve. I think they, if they change constantly and rapidly, that’s a bit of a red flag, but I think if they never change in emphasis, that’s probably a bit of a red flag. with families I’ve work with not everybody has exactly the same values. Somebody might be more of a risk taker. Somebody may have different political point of views, but we do work to say, oh, there’s some shared values we can commit to. Because I, I think the best definition of success I’ve heard is getting what you value. So if you haven’t done the work to clarify what you value think success usually defaults to something like money that’s measurable.
But I love Peter Drucker said something like profit is like oxygen, both are necessary for life, but hardly a good reason for living. So if you haven’t done the values work, I think, that’s always a bit of a blind spot, Tom.
Tom Epperson: Yeah. So Rob, I, whenever we’re working with clients, I always talk about the biology behind our values. Because most of us don’t think about it. We think about our personal values as something that’s ephemeral that, it just came outta the ether and now it’s our spirit or what have you, when the reality is you think about how human beings develop.
So when we were kids like babies, we started observing our parents and we learned some things about the world. And then we started trying some things out. We got rewarded for some, we got punished for others and we started building up this belief system about how the world worked over time. We saw more people and more models.
We tried more stuff, we got more rewards and more punishments. As we grew and as our brains developed, by the time that we hit young adulthood, we had a pretty robust set of beliefs and assumptions about the world that are physically wired into our brains. Like we have neural pathways wrapped around those beliefs and assumptions that have become our values.
And what’s interesting is that those neural pathways are wired right into our amygdala right into our emotional regulatory systems. And so when someone plucks or dishonors or even honors one of our values. We are gonna have a strong, emotional reaction, right? Like even if you don’t know what you value, if you go back to, when you felt strongly about something, chances are, there was a core value at the heart of it, which is why we have conflict, which is why we get tweaked and torque and emotionally hijacked by things.
And so to your point, Rob, do our values change. They get baked in to our brains. There’s a physical component. If you get rid of all the things that you should value and focus in on the things that you actually value, that you feel most strongly, that guide your decisions and your behaviors and your relationships, and how you spend your time and energy.
Then you can watch those values evolve over time. As you evolve as a person, as your brain continues to make new connections. Now you can quick jump that with significant emotional events that cause us to almost rewrite our brain in real time, or you can rewrite them through practice in repetition over time, like me trying to empathize and care about people’s feelings.
First of all, I had to believe that I needed to care about your feelings. And secondly, I had to practice and practice and practice and practice and practice. And so over doing that for 25 years, I feel like I actually value and care about other people way more easily than I would have at 22 years old.
Your question about organizations and can their values change, the way that we think about it is sort of Harley Davidson’s freedom with fences model, right? Whereas our values are the fences around the culture. They’re the values around the organization. They’re gonna drive behavior and decision making, and hopefully to Greg’s point, they’re the shared values of the organization. As long as you stay inside. The pasture. You’ve got all the freedom in the world, but the minute that you jump out of the pasture, that’s when you’re gonna have consequences and we’re gonna have to either bring you back in or help you go find a new pasture.
And so when you think about strategy and the evolution of business, you wanna make sure that, that culture, that you’re creating that pasture, that you’ve built, those fences, that you’ve built align with your strategy, because if they don’t, then that culture will eat that strategy for breakfast, right?
Culture is way more enduring than an ephemeral strategy that you’ve come up with every couple of years. And so the best organizations, be they family businesses or not, align that culture, those values, and the operationalize them in a way that supports their long term strategy. It’s like we had to do in moving from we’re a engineering based operations based efficiency based quality based company to we’re a customer focused sales focused, developmental and connections based company. And so we had to align both our strategy as well as our culture to support
Rob Brodnick: I love it. Thanks for that. I’m validated now, but I pushed back on this person and said, you know, I think they do change over time, you know
Tom Epperson: I’m. He was.
Rob Brodnick: it was right. Okay. oh my, Hey, I was reading an article. It wasn’t an article. It was a corporate statement. Let me correct myself from yes. From Airbnb. Yeah, a couple of days ago and it, and it basically said, we really believe in the post pandemic remote working environment so much so to the point that you can live anywhere and we’ll equate salaries. We’ll do all these things. Major shift in their values based on the pandemic and response to it, and the significant shift that has occurred with people’s understanding and belief about how am I productive, where am I productive? How do I collaborate? Communicate all of these kind of things. Major turbulence in our corporate organizational cultures right now, and a hotspot is this remote work thing. Talk a little bit more about how values shift and change relative to some of the context of what we’re seeing, any insights or, stories, or if you wanna become a prognosticator and talk about the future. I’ll just tee that up for both of you.
Tom Epperson: Dr McCann. Do you have your crystal ball? Can you tell us what the future will be?
Greg McCann: Absolutely. Well, you know, Rob I’m gonna build on that a little bit. One of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about and would love to hear Tom’s thoughts on. He alluded to, we tend to live the narrative more than the reality. So somebody’s 10 minutes late, maybe because of traffic, but you write a narrative that they don’t respect you, and no one respects you or, whatever it is.
I heard someone say maybe the more you evolve or develop the closer you live to reality, whatever that is. And then the second step, if you realize you’re writing the narrative that has just profound implications. Because you can say my life sucks, but if you’re writing the reality, then a lot of questions flow from that.
So to build on what you were saying, I, I think the need for capacity and agility are the two words I use are just incredibly high. Is this a problem to solve quickly? Is this a strategic issue where we need to look at the system or is this a cultural issue that may take time to evolve and influence?
And then the agility to say, what gear should I be in? And I think so many people, just one quick example, book I’m reading on framing saying, have we defined the problem correctly, which you could apply to remote working the author of the book surveyed a bunch of CEOs and 85% said, my organization is really poor at framing.
We jump right to problem solving. Which is seductive because you feel like you’re getting something done, but if you’re solving the wrong problem, that’s a big issue. So one of the skills I try to work on with people is framing and he uses a great example in apartment building, the residents were complaining, the elevator was slow.
Now they didn’t even do any research to see if it was actually slow or just, we all hate waiting for elevators and push that button. So the problem solving approach would be let’s get a quicker elevator put in, probably expensive. What they did was reframe it as people get bored waiting. So they put mirrors next to the elevator and all the complaints disappeared. Another quick one, then I’ll throw the
Tom Epperson: a good one.
Greg McCann: to Tom. The guys in the military in the middle east were worried about how do we go into a room and see if it’s booby trapped. So the Pentagon had a budget of some giant amount of money to figure out, an electronic device that would do it.
And one of the soldiers said we just spray silly string in and it catches on the wires. There’s Einstein quote that says something to the effect. If I had an hour to solve a world threatening problem, I’d spend 55 minutes framing it. I dunno if I’d go that far, but yeah. So the narrative framing and the assumptions that if you’re working at home, we can’t trust you. If you’re working at home, you won’t connect with people. A lot of those assumptions eroded if not disappeared, but Tom I’ll throw it over to you for a more coherent answer.
Tom Epperson: Yeah. There’s no way we’re giving you the nuclear codes, Greg, 55 minutes defining the problem. No, you’re exactly right. You’re exactly right. You’re exactly right. So it’s interesting. Just the the idea of capacity building like our goal, like one of the outcomes of values based leadership is you’re trying to build leaders who are way more adaptable.
They understand themselves. They’ve built skill to be the best version of themselves. So it’s authenticity with skill, and they’re able to understand the situation and the people that they’re working with, and they’re able to adapt to be more effective given the situation and the folks that they’re trying to influence.
And they’re constantly thinking about the conscious choices that they need to make, so I hit my pause button and think, okay, I’m trying to influence Greg. I understand his personality. I understand what he values. I understand what’s important to him and I’m gonna adapt in a way to connect with him, because I need his.
And so when you’ve done that kinda work, the pandemic and the shift to remote work is just another situation that we’re gonna have to adapt to, to be more effective. And to understand you probably have some blindness and some blind spots. You know, A belief that might have to be challenged. Like a lot of managers believed if I don’t see you working, then you’re not working.
Or if you work from home, you’re gonna be lazy when all the data research so far tells us that ain’t true. To give a little really academicy wonky answer. You think about Lou and his work. Our behavior is a function of me as a person and the situation I find myself in. And so remote work again, my behavior is gonna be a function of who I am and that situation, and it might be surprising like being at home. While it gives me more flexibility and I can be remote on the road and I can do calls and classes and workshops and facilitate, from all over the country. I also like human beings and I like being around people. I would so much rather be with Greg in that room, giving him a hard time than giving him a hard time via zoom.
This is not as effective. And so for me personally, I’m I wanna be with people versus there are other folks who are so much more effective if they’re able to work from home and what do our organizations really want. They want people who are productive and effective. So can we, as leaders give up our biases, can we give up our blind spots? Can we give up our own needs in order to build a workforce and processes that are gonna be so much more effective in accomplishing our goals? So your question about the future is that remains to be seen because people are messy works in progress. And so our organizations.
Karyn Zuidinga: Yeah. Yeah.
Rob Brodnick: Karen. I’m hogging all the questions come.
Karyn Zuidinga: No, I’ve, I’m loving your questions. I thought I’ve I love that whole idea of, do values change. And even the discussion around awareness of values. I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership and culture and how those things can feel thrust upon you.
You step into leadership, you become a manager, you become, whatever, and you get that title. And now all of a sudden, oh I’m supposed to be leading, but nobody told me how. The question I have is around that awareness of values. I loved your answer earlier, Tom, you said, my three things are, I wanna be a great dad. I wanna be a great husband. And I wanna develop people as leaders, bam, hardly anyone has that. Very few people I know have that. Where does the awareness begin? How do you decide what your values are? I’ve seen these long lists and pick the things that resonate, blah, blah. Where does that begin and how do you get to that nice. I want these things, these three things, boom. What are those things that I could do?
Tom Epperson: Karyn, there’s a lot to unpack there. So maybe I’ll start with this idea of like we get thrust into leadership positions and we don’t know what we’re doing. And most of us aren’t developed for it. What’s crazy is most of us aren’t developed to be human beings either. We grow up in these families and they have crazy family systems, which are like their cultures. And most of us don’t know how to communicate, or we learn how to communicate and deal with conflict from that system that we’re in. And so all of. Uh, Situation kind of forms who we end up being, which may or may not surface very well.
To Greg’s point earlier, a lot of families are really great at pushing conflict underneath the carpet. And then he likes to say that, if you push conflict underneath the carpet, you’re always gonna stub your toe on that same conflict until you deal with it. When it comes to kind of people working on themselves and understanding their values very few of our clients come to us and say, you know what? I’m awesome. And I just wanna
Karyn Zuidinga: Wait, what.
Tom Epperson: a little more awesome, or no family comes to us and says, Hey we’re the best family out there. We’re the model of families. We want you to help us let other people know that we’re the model of families. Most folks come to us and they say, I’ve got a problem. And I don’t know how to. got a relationship issue. I’ve got a turnover issue. I’ve got an engagement issue. I’ve got a, my brother hates me issue. I’ve got an uncle Bobby that I don’t can’t deal with. So people come to you with some kind of issue and the recommendation is like, Hey, this thing is probably a leadership issue and it’s probably a people issue.
So let’s unpack it and figure out where to start. Do you wanna start working on the culture and the organization and the structure? Do you wanna start with governance? Do you wanna start with having a shared vision for your family or your business? Do you wanna start working on you and the leadership capacity you need to operate at the level that you need to operate at. In this work, depending on where they start, you might start on the organization. You might start on the family, you might start on the business. You might start on them personally. But the trick is starting. So the reason that I can rattle that stuff off so quickly is cuz I’ve been working on myself for 25 years and I’ve gotten enough feedback and practice and punishment and experience and victories and losses to have a pretty good sense of who I am and what I care about and what I’m best at, what I’m not best at.
Although even after all that work, I still evolve and I’m still learning new things about myself. And I’m still surprised. Same thing happens in organizations. You think you get it dialed in and then the market changes and the strategy changes and the customers change. And you’ve gotta continue to evolve that organization. To help it really be really clear on its values to ultimately support its strategy, et cetera, cetera. cetera.
So Greg, that was a really longwinded answer to a simple question. What do you.
Greg McCann: It was long winded Tom. I think of an example. I was working with some people running family offices who are highly trained, highly educated, but like you said, Karyn they’ve not been trained in leadership. And we spent about an hour saying, describe the best traits of the best leader you ever had with. It was a little league coach or a teacher or whatever.
And we must have had a hundred words up on this whiteboard and only one related to technical compete. The rest, honesty, empathy, self-awareness trustworthiness, all of that. And yet I think people struggle to say what’s a framework. So I think values based leadership is an excellent framework. That’s not the only one, but you need a framework. Cuz I often ask people what’s it mean to be a great leader and they usually have sort of a tagline, a bumper sticker, but not much of a vision.
Karyn Zuidinga: Yeah.
Greg McCann: And so the frameworks, I think help, I often start with saying, let’s assess how much you’re managing and how much you’re leading. And I think of managing as making the system work, leading as changing the system, which is much harder and more needed with all the chaos and complexity in the world.
Most organizations are overmanaged and underled. I did an assessment with about 50 family business leaders. Once 47 said they were overmanaging and under leading, and you have to say, how do we develop a practice? How do we get feedback to see if it’s working? One resource that Tom and I both use both as clients and coaches is getting a coach. Very few leaders have a safe, neutral place where they can say, I feel totally inadequate with this new project, or I think I want to quit my job and join the circus. You can’t say that to your employees. You probably can’t say that to your spouse without, making dinner a lot more awkward. So that white space of having a safe, neutral environment where somebody can challenge as assumptions, reframe things, and just let you process is something that I think is really rare and precious today, especially with all the devices, all the demands. I would recommend, and I’ve certainly used coaching throughout my career as a resource to become a better leader.
Tom Epperson: to, To jump in to give you an example. Greg was coaching me for, I don’t know, six months, 12 months, like in the heat of the pandemic. And we were really focused in, on families and family systems. And one of the things that he helped me realize. Is that I have a way overdeveloped sense of responsibility as a result of the family system that I grew up in. In a lot of ways that overdeveloped sense of responsibility has served me well, it, it means that I will step into leadership roles. I will work really hard. I will serve my customers. I will serve my clients. I will take on things and I’ll just keep adding stuff to my back. The downside and the shadow side of having that overdeveloped sense of responsibility is I’m really bad at asking for what I need. I’m bad at setting boundaries. I take on too much stuff and can get resentful about it. And maybe the worst thing is I’m gonna grind myself into dust, trying to carry all these responsibilities around. And without Greg holding up that mirror and helping me see it, clearly, I would’ve realized that about myself eventually. But he was able as a coach to provide a safe space for me to articulate it and understand it, and then maybe do something about it.
Karyn Zuidinga: Where do you begin looking for a coach? There are lots and lots of leadership coaches out there. Let’s say I’m somebody out there thinking, oh, I’d like to get a coach. How do I know? How do I find a coach? Who what makes a good coach? If I’m listening to this and going, yeah, I need to get a coach now what? Where do I begin looking? How do I assess, how do I begin to assess the various, huge wide range of coaches out there.
Greg McCann: Great question. And I think it’s hard because the credentials are probably relevant, but not overly important. In my opinion, you know what I do, I offer people one hour sample call. And I think the risk in therapy or coaching and I’m big fans of both is somebody just listens. So I meet a lot of people that say I’m a great listener.
That’s one gear, a coach should have. Certainly they should be able to listen. Two. I think they should trust that you have the answer, not them. So giving advice is not what coaches do at least rarely. Three is that framing skill I mentioned I would say maybe a third of the value I’d bring as a coach is helping people reframe issues and opportunities. Four is some intuition, and experience, like Tom said A great way to normalize things is say whatever you did as a child in your family to adapt, I was real hardworking. I was the funny one, whatever it was honor that because it helped you navigate your family, but realize you probably overuse that as an adult.
That’s true of virtually everyone I’ve ever met. So it’s normal the details vary, but I jokingly say you can save your first year of therapy by just plunging into that for an hour. And do you feel safe but challenged with a coach? And I think that’s a delicate balance. Tom was just wonderful and courageous. I try to nudge somebody in the first sample call to see they’re ready. I, an example, I had a human resource person call me and say, my boss, doesn’t like to sit still. Doesn’t like tough questions and doesn’t like to reflect. And I said, I’m not that good. I think you have to have the courage to look at yourself. Okay. And it’s a collaborative joint effort. One person I coached said, I thought you were gonna be like my high school basketball coach. And just tell me what to do in my opinion. That’s something a coach should almost never do. Tom
Tom Epperson: Here’s why Greg’s wrong. I vary with Greg a little bit. Because one of my biases is I want to know that any provider, any kind of professional service provider knows what they’re talking about is competent. And so I want to know that they’ve been on a path where they’ve been trained as a coach and facilitator, and they’ve also done the work themselves.
That’s the first question, so the ICF, the International Coaching Federation has really strong accreditation programs that if someone is ICF certified, they probably have been through a high quality development program. I would look for people who’ve got great work experience who have been through some interesting stuff.
Greg’s had 17 different jobs. He’s a lawyer and an accountant. And a lot of things like the guy brings a lot to the dance. And if they haven’t worked on themselves at all, it’s like having a therapist who’s never been to therapy. Having a coach who’s never been coached. That’s a pretty strong indicator that they’re not as effective as they could be.
But let’s say you find somebody who is smart and talented and has done the work and is gotten training. The next most important thing in my opinion is chemistry. I am not everybody’s cup of tea. I
Karyn Zuidinga: no,
Tom Epperson: I
Karyn Zuidinga: that. Isn’t so
Tom Epperson: just talk to my family. They don’t tell you I’m not everybody’s cup of tea.
So the the idea is each coach is gonna have something that they’re really good at. As a result of their own experiences and talents and strengths, and they’re gonna bring that to the dance. Like one of my teammates Carla is, so her instincts about human beings are so good and they’re laser refined that she is gonna bring that intuition to a coaching relationship, which is gonna be fantastic.
Versus in my coaching, I’m pretty action oriented and I’m gonna bring a heavy bias towards action, so if you wanna sit and reflect and just sit still, I’m not gonna be your coach, cuz I’m gonna make you crazy with this drive to what are you gonna do about it? What choices are you making?
What do you like? What did you do? Which is not what everybody needs or wants the coaching process itself. If you follow it to the letter of the law, it’s gonna be a very, I’m going to ask questions and I’m going to listen and that’s it. And so it puts all the effort onto the client versus for consultants like Greg and I, yes, we can bring pure coaching to the process, but our job is also to be experts. And if job is also to be facilitators and our jobs are also to hit people with two by fours when they need it. And so it’s a little bit different coaching process than you would get. If you had a pure master coach who was just gonna stay in that lane. Which again, some people need and some people don’t.
Greg McCann: Yeah, and I would agree the credentials are relevant. I but of the second point, Tom, the experience in what they bring is really important. I think if whatever somebody’s a, has never worked in at all or let at all, I would question their ability to coach somebody who is, I think you have to have your own practice of development because you probably can’t coach somebody who’s much more evolved than you.
Tom Epperson: Yeah, totally agree. And so maybe one last point about this. Greg has done a lot of writing about folks in professional service industries. So folks like lawyers, folks like accountants and finance folks even family business consultants and his perspective to put words in his mouth is if you approach, if let’s say you’ve got a lawyer.
And they’re gonna approach your work as strictly as a lawyer, and it’s gonna be an antiseptic and transactional, that’s gonna be so much less effective than if you approach that professional service work with a facilitator’s mindset where you’re reframing issues and challenges, where you’re helping the person get up out of the dance floor and up onto the balcony.
And you’re helping them build capacity as a client, as opposed to this is just a transaction, then they’re gonna be so much more effective. Coaches are very much the same way. We have to be more than just transactional with clients.
Karyn Zuidinga: Does it matter if they’re in the same industry? My world is, technology, innovation, that stuff. Does it matter if the coach that I would choose would be in the same industry as me though, if I’m a nurse, do I need somebody who’s got medical experience? If I’m a I don’t know a carpenter, an entrepreneur and a carpenter, doesn’t matter if I have somebody who’s also got entrepreneurial experience.
Tom Epperson: In my experience, sometimes it helps the chemistry. If you’ve come from the same place and you’ve walked across the same ground. But like I have clients who are surgeons. I am not a surgeon.
Karyn Zuidinga: wait also that
Tom Epperson: Yeah. Like I don’t I don’t spend a lot of time talking about, in that last procedure, in the orbital lobe. But we’re not talking about that because they’re people, yes, they may be surgeons, but they’re also people and they have leadership issues and people issues, and everybody has that same stuff. And so that’s where the coach is most effective because you’re not helping them solve a technical challenge if they want that they can go find. Somebody else. Who’s got that technical expertise, but if they’re looking to work on themselves and they’re working to navigate leadership, or they’re looking to navigate their, then that’s where we really come to.
Greg McCann: Yeah. I, know, when I went through my training, they said, ideally, you should coach in a field You know, nothing about like young mothers for me or something. And I think bringing that beginner’s mind makes some sense and there’s a freshness. I only consult people in family offices or family businesses, understanding the context, I think can. Being current on the research and best practices can help. I think one of the risks is you start to want to give advice. So I think it takes a little more mindfulness if you’re an expert in the field, not to bring that in. Occasionally you can recommend a book or, the expert gear has a place, but it’s a rare place.
I had a discussion with somebody yesterday that asked me the difference between mentoring and coaching. And at least my opinion is a mentor has done something. They’ve climbed a mountain, they’ve done surgery, and they’re gonna help you learn how to do it. That could be part of coaching, but I think it’s a different gear. A lot of successful people in business are good mentors. They’re not good coaches. Again, the coach assumes you have the answer and they’re helping you draw it out. I don’t think a mentor typically, always does that.
Karyn Zuidinga: I know in the instances where I’ve mentored, I have not done that. just saying
Rob Brodnick: There’s something that just isn’t right you’re trying to get them, not just past the suffering, but to some kind of deeper understanding of things. I know Greg’s been on a journey from suffering to enlightenment. We all have along the way. How do you turbulate? How do you create a little bit of white water without destroying and maybe destruction of the ego is the only way to get to enlightenment? I don’t know, but what are some tips from you guys? You’re experts in this. Create little turbulence, a little little mix it up, but in the end, the turbulence is gonna be positive on this journey, suffering to enlightenment.
Greg McCann: I’ll jump in first. I think, teaching hung over 18 year olds at eight o’clock in the morning for over a quarter century, I’ve learned to simplify things. I think if there’s one fundamental kind of skill that goes to your question, it is the ability to step back from a system. And I put that in quotes to look at it, be it your own ego, your own family, your own country. And so that skill for me, meditation has helped a great deal with that skill. A meditation teacher, I worked with described meditation as solvent for the ego. and so lessening some of that attachment, some of those assumptions, realizing your reality is just as legitimate as anybody else’s, but maybe no more legitimate. I think that skill stepping back from a system to look at, especially your ego is as vital getting to that enlightenment as anything else. I think I said to Tom, one of our last calls, if you’re not lessening unnecessary suffering, or helping somebody with their potential, what are you doing?
Tom Epperson: Yeah. Greg, there’s a reason that I don’t teach undergrads. I’m not looking to be the 8:00 AM, but you’ve gotta hangover, guy. So Rob, to your question. The name of our organization is Inner Will. The name of the first book is Inner Will, but that is literally about the inner will required to do this work.
It is not for everybody and it takes grit and you’re probably gonna fail and you’re probably gonna get knocked down and you’re probably gonna suffer in the short run. It takes some belief and optimism to know that if I can go through this I’m gonna come out so much stronger on the other side. I’m gonna be, potentially be, a better person, be a better mother, father, sister, brother, better parent. Our organization’s gonna be so much better. We’re gonna be so much stronger, but it’s gonna take investment and a little pain upfront, and when we say pain, it’s things like if I’ve never gotten feedback and I’ve got feedback for the first time and somebody tells me that my baby is ugly. Oh my gosh, you’d think my world collapsed.
Or I realized that maybe my organization isn’t as perfect as I thought. Or maybe I realized that I’m the problem. Or maybe I realized that this work is hard and it takes practice and it’s gonna be awkward and being vulnerable stinks and is scary. And so navigating all that human stuff, that’s the inner will required to do the work.
And so your point about what do you do? First of all, you normalize it, you make it. Okay. Second of all, you let people know, this is part of the deal and we’re all in the same boat together. Everybody has a story. Everybody has trouble, everybody has problems, everybody suffers in some way, and we’re all trying to get a little bit better.
So to make it okay and give ’em some grace for when they fail. And then our job is to guide ’em along the way and be there for ’em, but still remind them that they have the extraordinary potential to have a positive impact on other people. And what better result is there when we do that work?
Greg McCann: Yeah. A couple points to build on that. Organization, I worked with created a leadership team and the top person crafted an invitation with expectations and one person who was an investment expert said, I don’t wanna do this. This is too hard. And which was fine. Because as Tom said it is much more sticky, messy, difficult, and requires an effort that technical fields don’t require.
Yeah. I’m often inspired. The Gallup folks said the number one reason people leave a job is a bad boss. And so being a good leader is a way to think of the impact you have on the employees, on their families, on everybody. And then another, especially in family businesses. I think this is true. If you wanna know the one of the reasons to work on yourself, if you realize the capacity of an organization probably can’t evolve beyond the capacity that’s leaders. If you want your workplace to be a better place, you’ve gotta be working on yourself. I think a lot of people come into coaching thinking. I need to fix Rob and Karyn and Tom, but I’m fine. If that’s your attitude don’t go into coaching because as somebody said, the one thing you bring to every transaction is yourself. And probably the only thing you can truly influence is yourself. So it’s a great place to start is how do I get better?
Karyn Zuidinga: Awesome. Thank you both for your time and consideration and I’ve, jotted down a pile of things. while we were talking. You generated some positive turbulence for me today. Absolutely.
Rob Brodnick: Yeah, that was fun.
Karyn Zuidinga: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Greg McCann: Oh, thank you. Both.
Tom Epperson: Yeah, you guys were awesome. Thanks for allowing us this opportunity.
Karyn Zuidinga: Hey, lovely listeners. Stay tuned to find out where Greg and Tom go to find some positive turbulence. But first, a huge thank you to AMI who have nurtured us in developing this podcast, is the source of so many of our guests, and of course, the founder, Stan Gryskiewicz is also the author of the original book, and dare I say, the Yogi Barra of Positive Turbulence.
Rob Brodnick: AMI is a pioneering nonprofit organization comprised of committed individuals who foster and leverage creativity and innovation in organizations and society. AMI identifies leading-edge innovation, shares experiences, sponsors research and recognizes innovation and creative processes. Find out more at aminnovation.org.
And thank you to Mack Avenue Music Group, our contributing sponsor for providing our podcast soundtrack Late Night Sunrise.
Karyn Zuidinga: Where do you guys go to find your own turbulence to, to shake up your thinking, to change your perspective?
Greg McCann: Tom, I’ll go first. If you don’t mind. When I, the first time I went to CCL, they said the way Greg views change makes him unemployable. I’m dysfunctional in terms of, I love this stuff. I get my soul fed from Inner Will, especially Tom and Charlie Luck. I get my soul fed from AMI.
One of my mentors, just a brilliant, innovative guy, Jim Ethier, retired chair of Bush Brothers. I’ll spend a weekend with him and we’ll just play with ideas. I have a circle of just some amazing people Mark Peters from Butterball. Who’s in AMI. He’s one of those people I can just spend a weekend and make no sense at all and just, positive turbulence. So yeah I get that fed with intentional effort and just some amazing people in my.
Karyn Zuidinga: What about you, Tom?
Tom Epperson: So for me in that idea of positive turbulence is we are in it all day long, every single day, whether we realize it or not. So part of the trick is noticing. It’s interesting. Inner Will one of the wonderful parts about that strategy of being industry agnostic means that we get to see organizations and clients in every shape and form.
And naturally you get to see all these cool, different ways of running a family or running a business or leading a group or innovation, or what have you. And part of what Inner Will as an organization is charged with is going and seeing all that cool stuff, bringing back the best ideas to our parent company, Luck Companies and test driving it.
So exploring and experimenting within the business, seeing what works, learning from it and then innovating our processes or our workshops or our skills or our leadership models or whatever within the business itself. And then taking that, learning back out to our clients, right? So it’s this feedback loop and innovation loop that allows us to help the organization evolve as well as Inner Will evolve and then ultimately help our clients. So for me personally I get to be a part of that work every single day.
The other part that really helps me with the positive turbulence is I have the gift of people around me every single day, whether they’re clients or board members or team members that, that work within Inner Will, or within Luck who want to give me the gift of feedback. Every single day, somebody somewhere is challenging me in a positive way, right? They’re giving me feedback to improve. They’re telling me what I’m doing. That’s awesome. They’re making observations. And so when you get all that incoming, once you built a structure around you, where people want to give you the gift of feedback, then it is really the gift that keeps giving and they don’t stop.
Karyn Zuidinga: I love that though. The gift of feedback, that’s a beautiful way to frame it, cuz it often is not, it doesn’t feel like that sometimes. So it, but it, is a gift. It absolutely is.
Tom Epperson: And it’s just data I can use to achieve my goals. I wanna get better every day. And so that’s data I can use to get better every.
Karyn Zuidinga: If you want to share a positive turbulence moment or otherwise comment on what you’re hearing, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome your thoughts.
Rob Brodnick: Be sure to tune in next episode for our conversation with Jane Hillberry and Felicia Chavez, professor and scholar-in-residence of creativity and innovation at Colorado College. We’ll learn how they approach teaching creativity and why Felicia’s book, the Anti-Racist Workshop is a great guide for any meeting.
Karyn Zuidinga: You can also head over to positiveturbulence.com to find out more about us. Get a transcript of this episode, get links to find out more about our guests or positive turbulence. Until next time, keep the turbulence positive.