Episode #313: Listener Q & A — Build Confidence Like Beyonce, How To Ask The Right Questions, & When To Make A Job Change

This is a special “Listener Supported” Q & A edition of The Learning Leader Show.  For those who have texted LEARNERS to 44222, I offered the opportunity to call in, ask a question, and record it for an episode of the show.  I was very impressed by the caliber of people who called, and the thoughtful questions that were asked.  Let me know what you thought of this one and if you’d like to hear more episodes like this one… And potentially be part of it yourself.  Email: Ryan [at] LearningLeader dot com

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The Learning Leader Show

“You are the sum of your experiences, the people you meet, and the books you read.”

Show Notes:

  • Question from Ed Arnston — Lt. Col in The United States Army — “All of your guests are excellent and offer a lot of wisdom, but as you’ve done more than 300, what are the top 5 in power rankings of guests on your show?
    • Kat Cole – Courage & Confidence + Curiosity & Humility
    • George Raveling – The curiosity of a 5 year old, he is a learning machine
    • Brian Koppelman – Follow your curiosity and obsessions with great rigor
    • Jim Collins – Who is YOUR WHO?
    • General Stan McChrystal – “Your character is something you can control.  You can decide what your character is.  Nobody can take it from you.”
  • Question from CaSaundra Garber — Technical Project Manager, Portland, Oregon — Who have you always wanted to have on your podcast that you haven’t made happen yet?  Reading The Alliance, what are your thoughts on it?
    • Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Oprah, a panel with Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady
    • “You are the sum of your experiences.”  A lot of the learnings of my life have come from the great coaches I’ve played for in my life.
    • One of the biggest parts of The Alliance is the idea of doing “a tour of duty.”  Changing jobs and learning new skills and the benefits of it.  Tour of duty = What do you want to learn and gain in this specific area of business?  Don’t get a job just to have a job, take a job that will give you a tour where you come out of it in a planed time frame and you’ve learned something new. –> David Epstein writes about this in Range and on THIS episode.  People that earn roles in the C-suite have a variety of roles on their way to that position.  Open your mind more to take on a role that is currently completely outside of what you do.  This also helps you walk a mile in the shoes of others and creates compassion/empathy.
  • Question from Daniel Jellings — Manager Local Government, Adelaide, Australia — Career has been linear, regular promotions along the way, became a manager about five years ago.  What are your thoughts on proactively exploring other roles that are outside of my current skill set (that could be a side step) in order to eventually become a General Manager?
    • Learn as much as possible about the people you may go work with… Try as best you can to simulate what it will be like to work with those people. “You have to mow the grass in both places.”  There are a lot of advantages to seeking opportunities that force you to stretch and learn.  They are initially uncomfortable.  “If you want something extraordinary to happen to you, you’re going to have to take a an uncomfortable risk in every dimension of your life.” — Scott Galloway
  • Question from Ryan Ogle — Championship Director for PGA of America, Benton Harbor, Michigan — What is your current morning and evening routine?  What is your process for utilizing a daily journal?
    • Wake up at 4:45 — Drink water, stretch, read, journal, workout, breakfast with family, drive daughters to school, work.  When finishing manuscript, I wrote a lot during the early hours of the day.  At night, I like to read out of books (Kindle in the morning and at the gym).
    • Discussed my preparation process for a podcast.
    • A daily journal is helpful to remind yourself of your mindset at that particular time of your life.  It helps you remember what it was really like at that time.  And why I use technology (instead of paper and pencil) to write in my journal.
    • Why I’m fascinated by The Wright Brothers… — “If you’re trying to do something of significance, you will have people who question you, who may think you’re nuts.”
  • Question from Andrew (Opie) Brodbeck — Former professional baseball player, Clearwater, Florida  — What skills from playing football helped you in your business life off the field?  Took a personality test and didn’t pass it based on the company feedback?  How to deal with that and develop confidence in yourself in something off the field?  How to lead a dysfunctional team that lacks trust (Chelsea)?
    • It’s important to properly set your expectations and realize you’ll never get the rush of playing in front of 105,000 people again.
    • Some of the skills that translated: How to prepare, how to deal with adversity, how to be resilient, how to develop the willingness to work… I was able to share what I learned from the best coaches.  Showing that you’re coachable.  you must be coachable to learn something new.  Being comfortable with a daily scoreboard (which we had in a sales environment).  On the first day of employment, I asked the VP, “who’s the best?”  And then shadowed that person.
    • Confidence — How to build it like Beyonce?  “Confidence is built through a series of successful events in your life.”  Those successful events were built through preparation.  Run a success autopsy — Why did we win?  Why did it go well?  Create momentum in your life.  Create success in multiple life categories — Those people take their framework wherever they go to create success.  No only means “not yet.”
    • Read Pat Lencioni’s work on the dysfunction of a team
  • Question from Lizzie Merritt– Manager/Leader, Jacksonville, Florida. (and member of my Leadership Circle)  —The quality of your leadership depends on the quality of your questions. I imagine there are plenty of examples of massive failures that can be traced back to a leader not asking the right questions.While this concept is simple on the surface, it gets tougher in practice.  As a leader, how do you respond with questions instead of answers?  How do you know the right questions to ask?
    • Leading with questions — As a new manager, you may have the need to “always have the answers.”  As you develop more wisdom and confidence, you’ll stop doing this.  The greatest mentors in our lives are the ones who don’t give the answers, they are the ones who help me figure out the answers.  They ask the poignant questions to help me figure it out.  The first questions are good, but the best questions are the follow ups.  Listen, distill, synthesize, ask more, then go deeper….  Don’t script questions, but prepare with notes on that person and what they’re doing, be an active listener (think like a trampoline)…
    • Write down the qualities of leaders you admire, like, look up to, and write down the qualities of the leaders you feel the opposite about.  Review it regularly…
    • Dealing in uncomfortable conversations — Crucial Conversations (book).  It should never be a surprised when giving someone bad news about their performance.  The feedback should be happening on a regular basis.  “It is in our best interest for you to improve.”  Kim Scott’s book Radical Candor 
    • “It’s a lot harder when you care” — “Because I care about you, I need to tell you something difficult.”
  • Question from Eric Liddic– Print broker, Dayton, Ohio — What advice would you give to someone who hasn’t sold in the past, but needs to sell now?
    • Great sales people: are fantastic listeners, they care, and they try to help.
    • Read Dan Pink’s book To Sell Is Human
    • Analyze why you’ve won each deal in the past.  Understand how you can replicate that.
    • Create a reason for people to call you (put useful material out in the world: podcast, blog, do a project for free)
    • Why Joe Girard was the greatest car sales professional of all time — “If you get a lemon, it gives me the opportunity to show off.”
  • Question from Marietta Sanders — Lt. Colonel, Squadron Commander, US Air Force, stationed in United Arab Emirates — What are the common areas you see the best leaders focus on within their businesses?
    • The WHO — Who will you surround yourself with?  The WHO is the biggest determining factor in your long term success.  Consistently surround yourself by people who are smarter than you.
    • Great leaders have an ability to help “see around the corners.”  They share their vision to make their followers feel better about where they’re going.  They have vision.
    • Great communication skill — You have regular moments where you need to share the vision with vivid clarity.
    • How to attract and retain top talent — When someone is looking outside of your organization for another job is because those people don’t have clarity of their future within your organization.  The leader’s job is to provide clarity for the people that they lead.
    • Great leaders are always on the look out for compelling stories… Then taking the story, distilling it to it’s essence (the core themes), and then relating it to my specific role (the “what’s in it for me?” OR “why should I care?”)

“Relay experience.  Don’t give advice.”

More Resources:

More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode #300: AJ & Keith Hawk – How To Instill Work Ethic & Curiosity In Your Children

Episode #303:  General Stanley McChrystal – The New Definition Of Leadership