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Ep39: Edit Your Ego: Unlock Leadership Potential by Putting Employees at the Heart of the Story

Are you a leader or business owner looking to unlock the true potential of your team? It’s time to hit the ‘Edit Your Ego’ button and shift the narrative from yourself to your employees.

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Today, we are talking about leadership, and specifically, the #1 skill leaders should develop to be more effective in inspiring employees and elevating performance. Yep, it’s time to drop the ego and start inspiring others!

In this eye-opening episode, we delve into why leaders must stop talking about themselves and start making the story of growth all about their employees.

Get ready to learn practical strategies, gain fresh insights, and embrace a leadership approach that not only drives growth but also nurtures a culture of empowerment and collective success.

To help us understand how to communicate more effectively as leaders, we are joined by two incredible guests.

Dr JJ Peterson

As Head of Storybrand JJ has helped thousands of organizations clarify their message in order to grow their business. He holds a PhD in Communication and has spent over 20 years practising and teaching communication.

J.J. served in marketing and PR for two multinational non-profit organizations, has spoken to thousands of people about creating a clear message and is currently an adjunct professor in the Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management. He is also co-host of Marketing Made Simple, our sibling show on the Hubspot Podcast Network.

Orly Zeewy MBA

Orly launched her consulting practice in 2002 to address the growing lack of brand clarity in the emerging digital age. She builds the DNA of startup brands and establishes messaging that quickly connects founders with their ideal customers so they can scale in months, not years.

A respected thought leader, Orly holds an MBA in Strategic Design from Kanbar College at Jefferson University. Her book, Ready, Launch, Brand: The Lean Marketing Guide for Startups was published by Routledge in May 2021 and was the #1 new business book release on Amazon.

Join the conversation as we discuss:

  • The power of story-telling when leading change
  • Shifting from the hero to the guide
  • The importance of values in employer brand
  • Authenticity in Leadership and culture
  • Ensuring success by editing your ego

This episode is where people & culture meet brand & marketing like never before. Enjoy!


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The Transcript

⚠️ NOTE: This is an automated transcript, so it might not always be 100% accurate!

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JJ Peterson 0:00
So you might say, all right this year, we want to be a successful company that grows that’s about me. The reality is in an uncertain economic climate, a lot of people are worried about how businesses are going to do this year. That’s the problem.

Leanne Elliott 0:20
Hello, and welcome to the truth lies and workplace culture podcast, brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. My name is Leanne. I’m a Business psychologist. My name is Al I’m a business owner. And we are here to help you simplify the signs of people and create amazing workplace coaches.

Al Elliott 0:38
So today, we are talking about editing your ego as a leader,

Leanne Elliott 0:42
we are we’re talking about leadership, and specifically, the number one skill that leaders should develop to be more effective in inspiring employees and elevating performance. So yeah, it’s time to drop the ego and start inspiring others.

Al Elliott 0:58
Now, as a marketer, regulations know that I’m a marketing nerd. As a marketer, we’ve kind of learned that this is, this is always the best policy, because if you think about the best marketing campaigns are never about the product, they’re about the consumer. So kind of every marketing story that really resonates, makes the end user the hero and the company or the supplier is kind of like the guide to help the user reach a certain goal. So for example, arguably one of the best campaigns in history is Nike, where every single piece of content is about the user winning at something if I remember the one of the taglines is, if you have a body, you’re an athlete, what an incredible piece of content visa marketing. Now Apple, for example, it doesn’t talk about like, like IBM does. And some of the other things do like always got the latest, Snapdragon iOS, probably, I think Snapdragon might be Android, actually. But he’s got the latest iOS that does this. And then 16,000 mega big megapixel camera, what the whole point of Apple is, they show us users being effortlessly cool, and more importantly, differently, different by using their products. In short, they tell stories about how they guide the user into some kind of goal. And that’s what great leaders do. They make the story about the team, not them or the company. Now, this is tough to do. Because as a leader, you kind of feel like you know, heavy is the crown and all that a lot of things are on your shoulders. But we want to help you change that. And we want to show you that the single most effective way to get what you want is to help others get what they want. And that’s by making them the hero of the story. You may have already guessed just by listening to it. That this is an episode which I am really passionate about because the end that he said about 16 words so far. The reason why this is I’m so passionate is because we have on the podcast, Dr. Jay J. Peterson. He is one half of story brand along with Donald Miller. Just one of my favourite books. I picked it up about a year now six years ago, I think it was when it first came out. Absolutely loved it. And so we are going to be talking a lot about story brand, but specifically how it relates to being a leader. So let’s just quickly introduce Dr. JJ Peterson. So he is the head of story brands. As I said, he’s up 1000s of organisations to clarify their messages in order to grow their business. He holds a PhD in communication fancy, fancy fancy, and has spent over 20 years practising and teaching communication and in marketing and PR. He’s done it for lots of different companies, including nonprofits, including profits he’s speaking to 1000s of people are clear creating this clear message and He’s currently an adjunct professor. I don’t know what that means. But I think it I think it means you’re very important in the Vanderbilt University’s Oh, in Graduate School of Management. He’s also the co host of marketing Made Simple, which is our sibling show on the HubSpot Podcast Network. So you should definitely go and check that out and go subscribe. So let’s go meet JJ and find out why he’s so passionate about the use of story in all aspects of business.

JJ Peterson 3:55
My background is all really in the space of story. It really looked back if you look at my life before I came to storebrand, it would kind of on the surface look very eclectic. So I was, again, public relations for multi to multinational nonprofits, so worked in both in Mexico and then in eight different countries in Africa, and doing community development. So I was telling stories. Then I actually went into improv comedy for a while and I toured around the North America doing improv comedy, and then did some acting and directing and Hollywood and writing in Hollywood, and then decided to go back and get my Master’s in what was actually theology of story, the theology of the arts of television and film, and then began teaching communications at the university level and became dean of students and then ultimately sold a reality television show and got my PhD in communications. And the narrative theory. And then that ultimately led to me meeting Donald Miller. And then as soon as I went through the story brand framework, I was hooked. I thought everybody in the world needs to see this, no, this, understand this. And I’ve kind of then since then dedicated my life to teaching people how story works, how to create clear communication through using the story framework. And ultimately, that works in for leadership in business for marketing and business. For anybody who’s trying to communicate anything, when you can communicate clearly. And effectively, then not only does your life change, but the lives of the people that you’re serving do as well.

Leanne Elliott 5:40
A very cool guest, yet really thrilled to have Dr. Jay Z on the podcast, and I think is well just really sharing and we talked about this before, but I think really, perhaps demonstrating more than ever, like the opportunity there really is in collaboration between people and culture leaders, and marketing communication leaders. Hopefully that will all become clear in this episode. So to help us even more, Our second guest is all a Z. We already launched her consulting practice in 2002. To address the growing lack of brand clarity in the emerging digital age. She builds the DNA of startup brands and establish His messaging as it quickly connects founders with their ideal customer so they can scale in months instead of years. She is a thought leader, she holds an MBA in strategic design, and she’s also the author of her book Ready launch brand. The Lean Marketing Guide for startups, is published in May 2021. And quickly made, it’s the number one spot on Amazon. Let’s meet shortly, but my

Orly Zeewy 6:37
name is Orly Ziwi. I’m a brand architect and your facilitator of lightbulb moments I help my clients really answer two key questions Who Am I? Who are they? Who am I is a brand Who am I in terms of, you know, what, what’s my vision mission and also really kind of get clear on my pitch, my elevator pitch so that I can connect with the people who actually need what I do. And do it in a very succinct way because the goal of the work that I do is to help you cut through the noise.

Al Elliott 7:09
So please forgive us for the slight marketing slant on this. But you all will become clear because this marketing is communication and leadership is communication. Anyways, so these are incredible guests. But But first, it’s that time of the week. It’s the news roundup, via the jingle. What are you got Leah?

Leanne Elliott 7:28
Oh, I’m so pleased to be back. It feels like a couple of weeks since we’ve done a news roundup. I am very excited to tell you our we have a new word.

Al Elliott 7:39
New word alert.

Leanne Elliott 7:43
For full employment, full employment, but employment. Okay, forget thank you to Lorna King, which is your bestie ours net on our. So I saw her post celebrating her last day of full employment. So full employment is a period of time where individuals decide to enjoy the free time that comes either with being unemployed until they find a new job, or when they’re between jobs. Apparently it was actually coined back in 2007 and eight in the Great Recession. So I either missed that memo, or it’s having a bit of a we’re reclaiming it, given the current exactly revival. So yeah, millions of workers lost their jobs. So decided to participate in some fun employment. So typically, people will participate in leisure activities such as travelling, volunteering, or socialising. And it’s all about the philosophy of don’t worry about being jobless. We’ve got savings, we’ve got time. Let’s just enjoy the break.

Al Elliott 8:37
I really liked that he’s a different slant on things. I mean, I think we’re, if we’re not careful, we do take life a bit too seriously. And you know, with that the whole between jobs thing is just just too much of a cliche these days. So full employment, I absolutely love it.

Leanne Elliott 8:51
Me too. So something else this week, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know about the roller coaster that Twitter has been through the last six months. If you haven’t heard back to what episodes on the truth behind the Twitter layoffs back from November 2002. I will leave a link. So news from this week is that Twitter has a new chief executive in the shape of Linda Yekaterina. She’s an American advertising executive who until two weeks ago, was the chair of global advertising and partnerships at NBC Universal. Where it is Linda will focus mainly on operations or Elon Musk will focus on product design and new technologies. She tweeted this week that she’s long been inspired by Elon vision to create a bright future and is excited to help bring this vision to Twitter and transform the business together. She’s also excited about the Patreon page she is as well yeah, she starts in six weeks Linda Good luck. Godspeed and we look forward to having you on the podcast. Come on lender. But of course it’s not just Twitter that has big news this week. It’s been a big week in the UK. Not only did we host the Eurovision Song Contest or On behalf of Ukraine, which is really cool. We also crowned our new king, King Charles a third coronation we can saw lots of street parties. The coronation concert was pretty good. Although a very smooth face Lionel Richie performance was a bit odd and a somewhat sheepish, sheepish Prince Harry shovelling into Westminster Abbey there. But yeah, what does this have to do with people and culture? Well, this week, there is near researchers found the number of people still working over the age of 70, has increased by 61% in a decade. And of course, King Charles is one of those people haven’t taken the throne at the age of 74. So wrapped last a digital community, which offers advice to auto workers from a total of 446,000 people over the age of 70. Were in employment or self employed in 2022. That is 106,000. More than 10 years ago, the Sky News broke was Stuart Lewis, who is CEO of grassless, who said that the increase of odd people in the workplace could be driven by a number of factors, both positive and negative. On the positive side, it could be that people are looking to maintain social connections maintain a sense of purpose contribute positively to the community. But the increase could also be attributed to the rising cost of living and pressures the over 70s feel to maintain work, and that pension savings while they can, we actually had a really interesting conversation on the podcast with them, Carrie, Cardinal Lee, who is SVP at modern elder Academy. So you’re interested in hearing more about older people in the workplace, go and check it out. But yes, regular lessons are now that we current loads of research on why developing your leadership skills is one of the most important and impactful things you can do as a business leader. But what is the number one leadership skill you should develop? Well, recent research backs up ramsdens thoughts, with three and four employees seeing effective communication as the number one leadership attribute, yet less than one in three employees feel like their leaders communicate effectively. So this week, we’re here to guide you through what it takes to improve your communication skills to have more impact. The key is to take your ego out of it. So let’s

Al Elliott 12:06
just start with the problem. Okay, so the biggest problem of being a leader is you almost certainly have to spin lots and lots of different plates, and I’m talking business owner, leader, whatever you whatever you’re doing, if you are leading people, you’ve got a lot on your mind, the temptation is immediately just to offload those. The other thing is that those problems become so big that they kind of get get welded to your own ego, where you feel like the biggest thing I’ve got to do is grow this business over the next six months. So what it means is, if you’re not careful, the problems that you think you have always, almost certainly revolve around you. But the thing is, you’re not the only one with a lot of things in your cannabis mentor inbox, JJ peeks and pointed out that we now have actually more messages than we ever have before.

JJ Peterson 12:48
So with everything we have going on in our lives, and in the world, people are receiving between three and 5000 commercial messages a day, just commercial messages. That’s not family messages, that’s not emails that work three to 5000 commercial messages a day, we are overwhelmed with information at any given moment, the end. And so in order to break through that noise, you have to communicate effectively.

Al Elliott 13:15
So our other guest already agrees and use the example of Time Square, before explaining how not to be able to break through this noise is often why businesses fail.

Orly Zeewy 13:23
If you were to stand in the middle of Times Square, you would literally be surrounded by more than 200 messages. And the interesting thing that I have learned over the years is that we connect with the messages, that means something to us. And so out of those 200 messages, maybe you’ll see five and maybe you’ll remember to. And so that gives you a sense of kind of as brands, we are all standing in the middle of Times Square, we’re all trying to cut through the noise, hoping to be heard. You can’t do that if you’re unclear about who you are, what you do and who needs it. And as it turns out, the number one reason that startups fail, is there’s no market need. And that’s because so often, companies, you know, founders don’t take the time to figure out if in fact, somebody needs what they’re doing. Are they are they actually solving the right problem for the right client?

Leanne Elliott 14:16
Well, the explains we connect with the messages, that means something to us. But we so many 12,000 a day, how do we even begin to narrow it down? As JJ explains our brains are pretty good at filtering information. In fact, it’s a matter of survival.

JJ Peterson 14:32
Brains are actually designed to keep us alive. That’s kind of the primary purpose of our brains is to keep us alive. And the way that our brains keep us alive really is two primary things. It helps us our brain is trying to always look for information. This is the first thing is information that helps us survive and thrive. And the second thing is our brain is trying to not burn calories to understand that information. And let me explain both of those really quick If. So when you and I say walk into a Starbucks or a coffee shop, we know where the counter is, we know where the bathrooms are. And we can see if there’s empty seats, our brain instantly does that it kind of focuses, like if somebody walked into a coffee shop, I could say to them in the first second, where do you buy coffee, and where’s the exit, and they’d be able to just point immediately. Now, if I said to them, how many tiles are in the ceiling, they wouldn’t know how many chairs are in this coffee shop, they wouldn’t know how many different beans are in that jar over there. How many stones do they have? We don’t know that information, because our brain does not want to keep the information does not immediately directly contribute to our survival and thriving. Because if we had to process every piece of information that was coming at us at any given minute, we’d never move ever, you would sit in one place and process every piece of information. So our brain goes don’t need that don’t need that don’t need that. What do I need in order to survive and thrive. And you have to know immediately. The second thing the brain does to keep us alive is basically, at any given moment, your brain has a limited number of thinking calories in it. And as the harder you think the deeper you’re think those calories deplete in your brain. And that’s why you have to like stand up every 90 minutes and walk around or you start daydreaming, that’s actually a survival mechanism. You don’t want to start thinking about stuff, the average human daydreams 30% of the day, it’s a survival mechanism. So basically, your brain says, I don’t want to have to think hard, because if I think too hard, I’m gonna burn all my thinking calories. And if an emergency situation comes up, I’m going to die. So our brain is just in that place all the time, subconsciously, we are looking for information that helps us survive and thrive. And we are doing trying to do so in such a way that doesn’t burn any calories.

Leanne Elliott 16:59
So I understand what all these saying in terms of all of these messages vying for our attention. And we understand what JJ is saying in terms of this makes sense? What how our brains operate in terms of our evolution of fight or flight response. But what does it mean, in the business world? What does it actually mean for

JJ Peterson 17:16
leaders, the leader in your organisation, your people are getting bombarded with information all the time, whether it’s emails, whether it’s just the details in their office, whether it’s commercial messages that are coming their way, whether it’s family information, they are getting bombarded. And if you are communicating in such a way, that does not actually contribute to their survival and thriving, and you’re doing it in a complicated way, so that they have to burn too many calories to understand. They are literally designed to tune you out. Their brain turns out your information it’s done. Because they’re, suddenly it’s kind of extreme. But they’re basically like, if I sit through this presentation and pay attention to every detail, I might die. Like that’s kind of our brain is subconsciously kind of doing that, right. It’s like kind of doing through going through the process of saying, If I pay attention to this, I could die later. So I’m going to turn off I’m going to daydream during this presentation. So when we understand that people are actually designed to tune us out, what we have to begin then doing is say how do I break through that noise in that club. And the way you do that is by communicating in a way that again, contributes to people’s survival and thriving and does so in a way that they don’t have to burn any calories. The most effective way to do that is through story.

Leanne Elliott 18:46
I have definitely been in a presentation and one does die.

Al Elliott 18:49
Yeah, yeah. And this was this is really, really interesting, because you say you want to die, but you know, we use phrases like die of boredom. You know, we already use this kind of infinite this kind of these kind of like phrases and stuff. So I think the thing is that when people make it about themselves rather than the actual audience, then they’re just boring. we all we all know that one person who you go and you go God, Derek’s not gonna be there again, as he got he always talks about his bloody dog or is

Leanne Elliott 19:17
and again, in terms of phrases what JJ was saying about calories that I have not got the energy for you today.

Al Elliott 19:23
Now, what I really love is that JJ talks about wrapping things up into a story because let’s be honest, when we are watching a film an hour and what two hours, two hours 20 Isn’t Titanic about three hours of something? Lord of the Rings, I’m sure is 19 and a half days long. But the whole point is people are engaged through the whole thing because their story because it follows this framework Lord of the Rings, perfect example. If I’ve not watched it, I’ve not read it, but I know people who absolutely love it, and it does follow this thing. So before you dismiss this as too simplistic, in other words, oh, well, the way to take my ego out of it is tell a story. Just think about some of the big his successes in history because they kind of started off as very, very short stories. So JFK said back in was it 6162, before this decade is out, we will put a man on the moon and bring him back safely. That’s a mini story. You’re not saying, I’m gonna put a man on the moon, we’re saying we’re gonna put a man on the moon, Amazon, they want to be the Earth’s biggest store. Now I understand Amazon has fallen from grace and a little bit. But just think about the idea of the story is really simple to be Earth’s biggest stock, you understand that? Google originally started off, don’t be evil. In those three words, it told a story about its brand about what it’s going to do for its users. And now, I said it’s a bit with a with a pinch of salt, Trump, Donald Trump make America great again. Now we’re going to come back to entrepreneurs. Second, and I just want to be clear that none of this will be talked about what we will be talking about politics, American politics, is just for the example sakes, don’t turn off if you are if you are not a Trump fan. These are just short stories that wrap up important messages into a story with a meaning that doesn’t pollute it with your own ego. Here’s JJ on why stories are so important.

JJ Peterson 21:08
Or he’s helped us make sense of information and the world. So in essence, you know, like there’s, I just kind of mentioned, as I was telling my story is really, I told you pieces of my story that gave it meaning. But I did 500 other things in the meantime as well, right? Like I was on I was in a Missy Elliott music video, I was on the author, I did all these things that I just kind of leave out because I’m focusing the meaning of my journey into one kind of thread one story that helps make sense for people why I’m even talking on this podcast, right? I have 20 years of experience, learning and understanding story. And now I help other people story. That’s the meaning. That’s kind of the thread of my story. And the reason why and I used story to distil that information, my 50,000 things I’ve done in my life down to information that actually is meaningful to the audience that I’m about to speak to

Leanne Elliott 22:09
fully agrees that stories are important and breaks it down further, by explaining the power of words,

Orly Zeewy 22:15
the words are critical. Again, it’s because it really comes back to what I said earlier, which is you use the wrong words and nobody hears you use the right words, and all of a sudden, you’re at the top of the line, right, you’re at the head of the line. And so I will tell you that when I changed my and you know, I’m gonna go back to LinkedIn since that’s, you know, the, that’s the b2b space. And that’s really who I work with or b2b companies. And what I have found, what I found was, when I changed my my title, to facilitator of light bulb moments, I literally was getting, you know, connection requests from from qualified leads, I was getting opportunities to speak to the mentor to do all kinds of things. Just based on that title, I literally had somebody contact me for a project just because the title stood out. So I know the power of words. And I know that when, and I will also say one other thing around words, less is always better.

Al Elliott 23:16
So um, hopefully you’re on board that the easiest way to remove your ego as a leader is to tell a story that makes the listener otherwise your team, the hero of JJ goes on to explain the stories of formulaic and the old story share the same seven elements. If you’ve read story brand, which I think a lot of people have, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The clue here is the highly edited story because that’s the best way to communicate. For example, nursery rhymes children’s stories, if you’ve read Aesop’s, Aesop’s Fables, they’re all edited messages that usually convey an important lesson that the author thinks the lesson should hear, but isn’t about the author. It’s about usually a fictional person who goes through some kind of adversity. But you’ve got so much on your plate as a leader, how the hell are you going to create a story around everything? Well, as I mentioned before, JJ has a simple formula.

JJ Peterson 24:08
Actually, the formula was developed events began to be developed all the way back with Aristotle and Plato. In poetics, they would argue that if you wanted to move people to action, if you want to demon change culture, the best way to do it was through story. And so they began to say, then how do you tell stories in a way that moves people to action? And those formulas that, you know, there’s lots of different formulas out there, but they’ve ultimately been refined over and over and over through history and are continuing to be refined in movies today in the box office. And so that if you break story down to its most basic form, there are really seven elements in every good story. And I’ll just say them quickly, but it is that there is a character in a story that’s number one that encounters a problem. So they experience Something that gets in the way of what they want, then they have to meet a guide who helps them overcome the problem like a Yoda or a Gandalf. The guide then gives them a plan. That plan then calls them to action, that ultimately, there’s stakes in the story that have to result in success or failure. Those are the seven plot points that every story has to hit. When you understand how story works, I’m giving a very high level view here. And then we kind of dive in if you want. But when you understand how story works, you understand that then those seven elements are what you need to hit in every piece of communication that you’re giving, you need to understand what it is that your audience, the people you’re talking to want, they’re the hero of the story, you are not. So they’re the hero of the story. They are encountering problems in their life, you then want to come in and position yourself as the guide who helps them overcome their problems, give them a very clear plan a path forward to overcome their problems, what is their call to action, what is the thing they need to do, and then ultimately cast a vision for what life is like if they do that and have a happy ending success or don’t do that. And they they miss out and have failure when I use those elements with organisations to help them refine their communication, to say, All right, if you’re trying to communicate to your staff, they are the hero have their own story, you are not the hero of their story. So you need to tell your story to them, you actually need to tell their story to them, you need to invite them into the story that they get to be a hero. So you need to clearly communicate what it is that they want. You need to be able to articulate what problems are experiencing how you can help them overcome that. How have you what’s the plan for them to do that? What are they supposed to do next and then cast a vision for success and failure. Like if I’m saying to anybody, hey, we need to hit our fourth quarter goals, or we’re not going to be $100 million company this year. That’s where a lot of leaders come in and say like, Alright, guys, we need to get going because we need to hit $100 million, we’re gonna be $100 million company. How at all? Does that contribute to their survival and thriving? How? What? How does that overcome a problem for them? Have you given them a clear plan to do it? Have you cast a vision for what life is like? If they do? Do they know what action they’re supposed to take to get there? Or are you just going rah rah, everybody, we need to hit $100 million.

Leanne Elliott 27:37
This is absolute gold. So we have the formula, the hero, the problem, the guide, the plan, the cause action, avoiding failure, and securing success. I joke daily that employees are looking for a hero. As JJ explained, leaders aren’t the hero, our employees are,

JJ Peterson 27:56
all of us are living our own story. And in reality, we’re the hero of our own stories. I’m the hero of my story, you’re the hero of your story, were the main character in our movie, if you as a leader, or you as a business come to me and position yourself as the hero of the story. Now we are actually in competing stories, right? We’re not in the same story. So I immediately begin to distress to you because you have to win in your story to be the hero. And I have to win in my story to be the hero. So if we’re both trying to win, and I can sense that in you, then I am immediately adversarial to you. Because I’m suspicious. I’m going wait, what are they trying to get from me in order so that they can win? Right? We need to not position ourselves as the hero of our story. We need to position ourselves as the guide in the story. We are the guide and the people that we’re speaking to are the hero. What does it look like to be the guide, a guide offers empathy to the hero story. So offers empathy to say I understand the problems you’re experiencing, but also authority, I have the ability to help you overcome those problems. Okay, that’s kind of how you position yourself as a guide. The only time you ever should talk about yourself is with empathy and authority.

Al Elliott 29:19
One of my favourite moments in the interview is when JJ took a moment to break down now clearly defining the hero of the story as the audience massively affected the 2016 Trump Clinton election. Again, I’m going to reiterate reiterate, neither Lea nor I nor JJ are talking about the politics here. Just the campaign.

JJ Peterson 29:37
What’s interesting is once he became president, he really did become the hero of his own story, and which is why I think he lost his second term. But when he was on the campaign trail, he did not position himself as the hero he positioned the American people as the hero. It was make America great. That was a slogan, right? And it was these short, quick sound bites were easy to communicate and showed how he was going to make other people’s lives better. So he immediately did make America great. He would go to Iowa and he’d be like, Iowa is the best state in the United States. This is the best pig farmers in America, I’m going to become a pig farmer myself. You know, he’s like, going through this whole thing. He did a really good job. And he’s like, we’re gonna clean the swamp out of Washington. Like he had some catchphrases, but every catchphrase really went after the American people and made them the hero. In contrast, Hillary Clinton’s campaign slogan was I’m with her. Literally, I’m with her. And the reality is, again, not trying not to be too political, just looking at this on a surface level of communication. Hillary was way more qualified, had way more experience, should have walked into that White House did not have the same controversy level of controversy. And yet she didn’t. And there’s a, I think there’s a couple of reasons why her slogan was I’m with her, it made her the hero of the story, not the American people, then you go went to her website, and I believe the first thing you saw was, I don’t remember the exact number. But I think it was somewhere around 174 117 reasons to vote for Hillary Clinton 117 reasons to vote for her to help her win. If they would have given us three reasons why voting for Hillary helps me changes everything, instead of I’m with her, changed it to she’s with us changes everything. And I really genuinely believe those small simple changes would have won her the presidency because she didn’t lose by a lot.

Leanne Elliott 31:43
It’s such a great example. And I absolutely love that simple change that JJ talks about that, that Hillary Clinton could have made that instead of, I’m with her, she’s with us.

Al Elliott 31:54
It can really genuinely gives me goosebumps, that kind of thing. And I’m not just sucking up to my hero, JJ, I’ve met him by by JJ is the hero of the hero of my story. But he’s not just talking about him. But he really is, is just like, Oh, my God, that simple change just would have changed everything. And of God, I love it. I love it. JJ, for President.

Leanne Elliott 32:15
I think that’s that’s the thing, isn’t it? You know, often we look at politics if for examples of effective leadership, not necessarily positive or negative lecture, but effective leadership. And that’s where we can often apply in business as well. So what steps can we take as leaders to develop our communication skills? And how can we use the power of storytelling to inspire our employees and drive lasting change? Well, we have five areas that you can focus on. And the first is values. So going back to the Randstad report, we mentioned earlier, results show that more than ever, the workforce wants to be part of an organisation that provides an inclusive and diverse workplace. And importantly, one whose values align with theirs. And a business that has a clear social and environmental commitment to in fact, 72% of employees consider an organization’s values and purpose important and 36% said they would not work for a business whose values did not align with all the agrees and recommended values as the first place to start.

Orly Zeewy 33:15
The first step is always who am I? And by that I mean, do you understand very clearly what you do and what it means and what why it matters, right? So that gets to the core value, the value prop, what makes you different from your competition? And then that helps you really look around you and say, gosh, is there really a need for what I do? And and then the key thing is, once you understand who you are, and by the way, it’s really hard to sell something, if you yourself don’t understand what what you’re selling. So that’s why I always start with that, why the why is really critical. And so I have a whole process to really unpack that. And it’s not just oh, yeah, you know, I sell shoes now. You know, or I’m a coach and I sell coaching, coaching services, it’s really about, it’s really about what is behind all that, like, why are you a leadership coach? And what kind of leaders do you work with, because I’ve actually worked with quite a few leadership coaches. And what I discover each time is, you know, a coach means nothing that’s really generic language. And so part of what I help leaders do is use the kind of language that will help them cut through the noise. That’s why I don’t call myself a brand consultant. I call myself your facilitator of lightbulb moments.

Leanne Elliott 34:39
We talked about this quite a lot on the employer brand episode, that it really is about differentiating yourself from your competition. And I think now as an employer as a business owner, understanding my values, my why, and communicating them effectively, is a really important part of attracting talent today.

Al Elliott 34:57
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there’s so many studies that show that particularly Gen Zed, and millennials will actively switch from, let’s say, telecom carriers or from brands who don’t align with their personal values, which towards Gen Xers and Boomers, you know, tend to tend to go for the cheapest in the in traditionally quite kind of counterintuitive. But all he goes on to explain that it’s not having great values is not just good for your employees, it’s good for business

Orly Zeewy 35:23
2017 There was a communications research study just again of Americans why, and what was interesting is that this consumers right 87% said they would patronise a business, it was consistent with their values, and 76% would not if it didn’t, and also 89%, that’s almost nine out of 10. consumers said they were willing to switch to a comparable brand that was more aligned with their values.

Leanne Elliott 35:48
That is, our first recommendation is focus on your values. Understand what is important to you have this can resonate with your customers, and so importantly, how it can also resonate with your employees.

Al Elliott 36:00
The second thing here is brand alignment. Now, this might sound a bit of a corporate doll kombu doll phrase, but it’s not. The whole point is brand. And we’re not talking fancy logos, we’re talking about Jeff Bezos different definition of brand, what people say about it when you’re not around. There are only really two people who talk about you behind your back. It’s your customers, and it’s your employees. So you’ve got a brand of both, really, but you’re in trouble if they both don’t tell good stories.

Leanne Elliott 36:28
Yeah, I think there are a couple of metrics here that can serve as a telltale sign if you’re not sure if your internal and external brand are aligned. And I think that’s customer retention and employee retention. So if your customer retention is really high, but your employee retention is really low, you know, you’re losing employees, then it’s quite likely your brands are not aligned. And if there’s anything that we cannot stand, you know, it’s incompetence. And the trouble is as businesses grow, there’s misalignment can easily happen. And often as leaders, it’s quite hard for us to see it. As all the explains, I’m thinking

Orly Zeewy 37:01
of a summer day camp that I rebranded several years ago, and they lost their why, right they and what happens and this is very common. And they’ve been around since the 50s. They started something that they really believed in and it was a gold standard of Day of day camps summer day camps. And as the competition grew, instead of kind of hunkering down on the reason they started, they started to respond to the competition. And that’s part of how you lose your way. You, you lose sight of why you started this. And so when we did the rebrand and this was kind of a really, I have to say an amazing process. Because one of the things I do is I read dozens of letters from their campers and it’s just amazing, and endorsements of how this place like changed their life made him a better person, a better human, you know, better human being a better parent. I mean, it was incredible. And and so what happened was during a rebrand the rebrand process, what I discovered is that all of their messaging had started to move around a lake. I mean, it’s in their name. And and they have a huge lake, I forget how many acres it is. And the reason they really send their kids there is not because of the lake, but because it’s a place where they get to, they get to be kids and grow and learn and in unsafe environment. And the lake is important, because they happen to have the top swim programme on in the in northeast PA and, and so at the end of that process, the tagline is, this is the place where small kids do big things, going back to what I said about you know, we’re all standing in the middle of Times Square, it’s that idea that if it doesn’t align with what we care about, we literally don’t see it. So now there’s a picture there’s a there’s a symbolise you know, image of a child literally jumping off what could be a pier, a pool, right? Because the whole idea is that they’re learning to do big things. And swimming is a big part of that experience.

Leanne Elliott 39:12
employees do not go into your office to enjoy the ping pong table and the comfy chairs and the break room. They go to for experiences and for growth and to learn and develop and be inspired. And it’s the same thing. I think what’s so funny about this is this is exactly the realisation that Alan I came to him when we actually started oblong our business together. Because I was working on a consumer research marketing project. I was working on employee engagement project. And we were both doing surveys to generate insights from me from employees or from customers to then create communications and interventions that were going to engage people more in the organisation and what it was trying to do.

Al Elliott 39:49
Fun fact I did a fostering campaign for a local authority in the UK. And the actual the whole tagline for the campaign came from one thing that a lady said They interviewed her about being a foster parent I could never have come up with. And by the way, I did disclose it again, from the, from the research, not from my mind.

Leanne Elliott 40:08
It made me cry. That campaign, by the way, is flattering. I took as a win in a good way and a good way. But yeah, so in the in the same way that we ask our customers, we have to ask our employees to be able to understand and communicate our brand, effectively, customer brand and employer brand are fundamentally intertwined.

Orly Zeewy 40:26
I sometimes, you know, I wonder if it’s a chicken, it’s a chicken egg conversation, right? Because you have to have a strong employer brand, to get top talent. And it’s your people. And this is this is another thing that’s really shifted, I think, especially since the pandemic, that we’re realising that the greatest asset of any company is the people, you know, it’s not the products, because who’s making the products? who’s selling the products, who’s promoting the products? You know, it’s not some nameless, faceless thing, it’s people that you have, that you have contact with. And what you know, what I have seen is that, that kind of understanding of who we are from an internal perspective, if you can build an employer brand, that makes people feel like they’re heard, they’re respected. There’s opportunities for them to grow. And this really started with millennials, I would say, it’s not enough, the money is not the only the end all end all of everything, right? I mean, money, of course matters. But it also matters are you in a place that’s also aligned with your values, and you see a way that you know, where you feel proud of being there, and happy employees are also happy customer relationship, people. Because when we are right, when we’re happy, we tell the world about it. And believe me, when you’re unhappy, you tell the world about that. So, right, so So I think the two are so intricately, entwined, I really don’t see how you can separate one from the other.

Leanne Elliott 42:00
Our third recommendation is authenticity. So if you listen to our watercolour episode, you’ll remember that all of our experts agreed when it comes to effective communication as a leader, authenticity is critical. And I think this is a shift that we’re seeing in the workforce. Research has shown that 79% of employees will quit their job due to a lack of appreciation from leaders. Now, having said that, as a leader, you shouldn’t be the hero. And that might sound counterintuitive to you, because heroic leadership was the dominant theory at one point, that point being the 1940s. But still, you know, it was based on two principles, one that leaders are born not made, and to the great leaders arrives when there is a need for them to be great. So words like charismatic, confident, dominant come to mind. And often the leaders that we work with can worry that they can’t be this kind of leader. You know, perhaps they’re more introverted than extroverted is a typical thing that I hear a lot. And the truth is authenticity, which is truly caring about your employees. being empathetic, and adopting more servant leader style behaviours are more effective, particularly when it comes to change and transformation. And as JJ explains, being a great storyteller, as a leader doesn’t require an innate set of characteristics, it requires a formula.

JJ Peterson 43:19
There’s so much research out there that just shows like the narrative communication, narrative marketing, narrative leadership outperforms other styles of leadership. So that’s one is that it just the fact is good storytellers. move people to action in ways that other people can’t. And we just kind of know that even anecdotally, but that’s true. But what then people think is that storytelling is all about charisma, and about being funny. And about all these things. So it feels, I think, a little overwhelming to be like, well, now I just have to be more funny and entertaining. That’s not it. And when you’re writing a screenplay, and trying to tell a story, there’s actually maybe like, 32 to 36 plot points that you have to hit. So it all feels to me. I think when we talked about story, it starts to feel very daunting, overwhelming. That’s not who I am. I have to be naturally funny or naturally charismatic. And people don’t realise that actually, story is formulaic. And when you understand how story works, and it’s broken down into its most simple form. And granted the seven elements that I mentioned, it’s I would say its most simple form. I mean, some people would say you could actually break it down to three elements. problem, solution success. That is a very short story. But it’s all like it’s formulaic.

Leanne Elliott 44:42
JJ went on to explain that being charismatic or entertaining, is part of the hero psyche, but again, reminded us leaders, we should not be the hero. We should be the guide. JJ also use the concept of storytelling to help build self awareness and leaders

JJ Peterson 44:57
really are four characters. In every story for primary characters in every story, there’s the victim, the villain, the hero, and the God. So those four characters exist in almost every story. And the reason they exist in every story is because they exist in all of us. At any given moment, we can play in our own lives, the villain, the victim, the hero, or the guide. Now, there are some things you need to understand about those four characters. The victim in a story, always, pretty much if they stay a victim throughout, not the victim that transforms becomes a hero, but the victim who stays a victim throughout, only exists in the story to make the villain look bad and the hero look good. That’s it. They’re either giving or taking energy from the other characters in the story. That’s it. A good story will never be written about a victim who just stays a victim. That’s it just won’t. Not inspiring anything. I mean, we can have a depressing maybe European film that deals with somebody who stays a victim. But that’s about it. Like in America, we won’t do they have to transform. But if they stay the same, a good story will never be written about a victim, a villain and a hero. Interestingly enough, often both share a backstory of pain, the similar backstory of pain, meaning they both lost their daughter, or they both lost their wife, or they both were, you know, mocked as children or something like that. The villain, can you see that in villains where they have like a scar on their face that way, even if we don’t know their backstory, we know they’re, they’ve been through a hard life. Because if there’s a scar or something like that, villains work to revenge, that pain, they were pain, they had pain caused to them. And so they are trying to cause pain to other people. The hero, ultimately also experienced the same backstory of pain, but works to redeem it works to redeem that pain. And then the hero, when the hero actually has won their own battle, then they kind of elevate to the next level of guide, and they help other people win the day, they no longer have to prove themselves, they no longer have to win, they just help other people win. When I began to understand those four different characters in story can began to see that like, oh, I play all four of those, I play all four of those. Sometimes in an hour, I can be a victim, immediately turn into a villain, then redeem the pain with becoming a hero and then move into the guided space. You know, I can see myself and I began to see there in the times that I play victim in my own story. Now there are real victims in the world, this is not what I’m talking about, I’m talking about when you play the victim, when I play the victim, I’m never going to write a good story with my life. And I’m never going to do it for other people, I only am sucking energy from people. And that gets old very quickly. And in those moments where I turn into a villain, what I’m doing is I’m actually causing other people pain based on my own pain. But when I can, in my own life, move into that hero, and then ultimately guide roll, not only do I live a better story, but I helped make the world a better place because of it. And so when I just like kind of began to understood that stand that and try to live my life more in the hero of my own story, redeeming the pain. And then ultimately moving into the guide where I help other people my passion is about helping other people move into those spaces as well grow their business, change their life, and become kind of the hero of their own story and then ultimately help other people as well.

Leanne Elliott 48:53
I mean, my I’m or I’m gonna go ahead and write this down in my coaching book after this. I think there’s a bit of fantastic coaching aside to do with the leaders I work with, in terms of you know, as JJ said, we we play all of these roles at some point in our life. You know, and I think that in terms of being the victim, I’m thinking of people that are saying things like, Oh, well, you know, COVID ruined everything, because everything was great before COVID. And now having to deal with the really shifting expectations about we want to work from home or work hybrid. I think it’s the same when you think about burnout, it’s you know, and the leaders that that have been through burnout and as me as you said, you know, JD trained to cause that pain to other people to work the long hours. Well, I had to do it. So why shouldn’t you do it? Whereas the leaders that are really inspiring people, those that are trying to change that experience of working, eradicate that negative experience of work? So I think yeah, I challenge you, leaders. If you’re listening, do some reflection tonight. And just write down if you can think of some point over the last week, the last month when you’ve played the villain, the victim, the hero and the guide. And I think that’d be a really interesting point in reflection to maybe learn where there might be two Time is where you’re, you’re accidentally playing unconsciously playing a role that isn’t very effective for you as leader. And perhaps also some examples of what is more effective behaviour. So our third recommendation is to practice authenticity as a leader, think back to your why, if you’ve lost it, try and try and rekindle where that inspiration came from to start your business. And as JJ says, think about the role you’re currently playing as a leader. Are you the guide? Are you accidentally being the villain? So number four

Al Elliott 50:27
is all about this idea of culture, people think culture is very complex, and you know that go, right, we’re gonna go away the leadership team, we’re gonna go away for two weeks, I’m going to come up with all these core values and stuff. The fact is, that great culture is really, really simple, as are great stories. When when JJ was talking about simple stories with one aim, Finding Nemo, you got to find that fish, Bourne Identity, discover his past Wizard of Oz, destroy the way although again, another film I haven’t seen, but you’re a big fan of really good film, yeah, it’s good film. Now, these don’t have five or 10, or 20 different missions Am I have lots of plot points, that’s technical, they don’t have it, they just got one, and only recommend you simplify your values into just one core value. This is what’s gonna become your North Star,

Orly Zeewy 51:14
you do not have a visionary leader, who is, you know, walking the walk, and not just talking the talk. And it’s not just about having a whole wall filled with core values, which I always have to say, that always, that always strikes me as so odd. Because how many core values you only have one, you don’t have 20 core values. That’s just how you do business, I mean, customer relationship, unless you’re the Ritz Carlton, where that’s inbred in their DNA, the DNA of their brand, or Nordstroms, which is a large accompany here, you know, in, in, in the US, you know, customer service is their brand, that’s what they’re known for. But otherwise, it’s just, you know, if you don’t have good customer service, you go out of business. So that’s the other piece that this whole process that I was telling you about that my my branding process also uncovers your core value, and that’s kind of like your North Star.

Leanne Elliott 52:11
Yes, yes. Yes, yes. Yes. All they absolutely, I think it’s, I’m the same way, it amuses me when people have a wolf have like 10 values mouths a lot for people to remember. So typically, people will cling on to onto one or two or maybe three. But like you said, values and nothing unless that lived and as a leadership team, and you should be doing this in consultation with your employees anyway. But if you absolutely do want to start this process on your own, then at least try and look at the behaviours that show people how to live that value as the brilliant example that Ali gives there of Nordstrom. Yes.

Al Elliott 52:48
And I’ve heard some strange stories around Nordstrom, where apparently someone took back tires and they got a refund for their tires, no questions asked to Nordstrom don’t even sell tires.

But what I like about this is that is a core value. But it also allows for sort of innovation to a certain extent, the flexibility, you’re not saying that we only reef our core values, we refund anything, we sell their core value of Nordstrom, once we refund, anything the customer is not happy with. And so all he talks a bit more about this idea of allowing your core value to allow people to innovate, to ensure that it underpins everything, but also allows his culture to kind of live and breathe, I have

Orly Zeewy 53:33
to say this is one of my soap boxes, because you cannot have innovation, if you don’t have a culture where you’re allowed to make mistakes. And so what people focus on, you know, whatever the latest trend is like, everyone wants to be entrepreneurial, they want to have a culture of innovation, they want to be the next Apple, you know, I mean, and not to go too far down that path. But you know, it’s you have to, you have to create a culture where people are allowed blue sky time as they do at Google, by the way, so that they can come up with ideas. And you have to create an environment where people are allowed to discuss these ideas and not worry about being shut down. And a lot of corporations you know, just don’t have that kind of structure.

Leanne Elliott 54:15
Again, I think we’re talking here about psychological safety around making sure that workloads actually facilitate time to innovate and create. You can’t just say, Oh, we have a culture of innovation that has to fundamentally drip down into not only your style of leadership, but into your operations. I think that’s a big one. If you’re gonna you know, embrace innovation as part of your culture, mistakes are gonna happen and he have to be okay with that and manage that. And this is actually one of the few times that I will quote Elon Musk is having a good approach to this. If you read anything about SpaceX and then the multiple launch failures they have had, that is never the focus on the failure, the focus of Elon Musk and his commentary is always on what they’ve learned, and how that’s going to inform the next stage of development.

Al Elliott 55:00
And in fact, I only talked to them about Google, which I forget, I think they call it 20% Time or something they did back in the day. And the idea is that you go off and you do your own thing for 20% of the week. That’s where I’m pretty sure Gmail came from that Google Reader came from that some of the most, well, Google readers shut down. But some of the most, like successful parts of Google came from those people who had the core value Don’t be evil, which, again, slightly contentious in these days, but back in the day, it was don’t be evil, but the flexibility to go out there and try something and just do something without someone saying, Why the hell are you spending your time on this bullshit?

Leanne Elliott 55:36
Absolutely. And that is our fourth recommendation, culture is a living breathing thing. You can’t just have values you need to live them. Our final recommendation is to look for opportunities in operations. As I mentioned before, culture isn’t a standalone, abstract thing. Culture feeds into into how we think feel behave, and how we actually work as well. So our final recommendation is to look for opportunities and operations, what you already doing from a people and culture perspective, that might be more effective. If you’re improved a storytelling behind your employee brand and experience. All the highlights the onboarding process is a good example. You know, here’s

Orly Zeewy 56:14
another example an onboarding process. That’s not just here’s a bunch of stuff, good luck, see you later. Right? It’s really has to be, you know, thought through. And I think, you know, branding and marketing can also be applied internally, like, we have an employer brand, let’s talk about, you know, maybe onboarding could have its own brand, and it could have its own process. And then it’s, you know, how we, we message that out within the company. I mean, there’s so many opportunities to kind of elevate these experiences, and not just relegate them to Oh, yeah, this onerous thing that we have to do, because the reality is retraining employees is expensive, I believe it’s 10% of their, of their salary. And so you multiply that by 100. Employees, it’s a lot of money that goes out the door, you know, you don’t leave places where you feel valued.

Al Elliott 57:09
You don’t leave places where you feel valued. And the reason you feel valued is because someone is making the story about you. Come on, this is just this is just common brand sense. This is what cost this is how you attract customers, is how you keep customers by making them feel special. It’s exactly it was not exactly was a very similar transaction between your employees and potential employees. We’re talking about onboarding, but what about just the actual recruitment process? What happens if you someone didn’t get the job, but you still send them I know, a little chocolate in the in the post and said, I’m really sorry, you weren’t for us. But he’s potentially to other companies that might be up yourself your street or something? I’m not. I’m not saying you should do that. But I’m just thinking, think about the brand. Think about people’s day. Because one, if you upset one customer, I’ll tell 100 people, but if you delight a customer, oh my god, if you want to find out what it’s like to delight a customer and the potential effects that can have then Google CD Baby, note, I think it is Google CD, CD, baby note. And that’s all I’m going to say. You will see that from one tiny thing they did for customer, they got millions of pounds worth of brand exposure. Okay, I’m stepping down off my soapbox. I’m done.

Leanne Elliott 58:22
I agree. And I think again, this is a really good opportunity. Because I think often businesses think, oh, I don’t really know where to start with this stuff. This is stuff you’re already doing in terms of employer brand in terms of, of how to communicate effectively, as a leader as a business, you’re already doing this stuff. I think it’s as simple as you know, onboarding is really good sample. I’ve worked for organisations with organisations where it has been, you know, here’s your swag. This is your login to the intranet. We look through these 15 videos over the next week. And that’s your onboarding process. Whereas if you think about you know, as a customer, if I sign up to like a new CRM platform or a new like, coaching platform, I get like an email every week like how’s it going, Leanne? Here’s an extra. Here’s a little masterclass tip on how to do X, Y, and Zed in how cool would that be is if a new employee, I’m getting a video from the CEO or the MD, saying Haley and her breathing is going going well, here’s a little masterclass on how to book time off and what your holiday allowance is, and, and all that kind of stuff. It’s just if you’re already doing it, just extend what you’re already doing to your employees, it really will make the world of difference.

Al Elliott 59:24
It really well. So starting your employees as a cost, as that’s seen as an investment.

Leanne Elliott 59:29
Oh, put on a t shirt.

Al Elliott 59:33
T shirts available from store dot truth lies Not really. So let’s just quickly summarise what we’re up to. So the five key things that you could be doing right now is and Leander want to go number one,

Leanne Elliott 59:47
yeah, so number one, clarify your values and try and understand how you can help these resonate with your team

Al Elliott 59:53
number to ensure that your brand is aligned both like from customer point of view and from employer point of view because was is one of those people telling bad stories about you, in guarantee things are not gonna go well for you.

Leanne Elliott 1:00:04
Number three, practice authenticity as a leader and maybe try that little coach exercise I mentioned,

Al Elliott 1:00:11
definitely do that. Number four, just be really clear, you probably only need one core value and the ability for your employees, your team’s to slightly deviate in order to satisfy that core value.

Leanne Elliott 1:00:23
And number five, look for opportunities and things you’re already doing. Particularly if they’re things that you’re already doing for customers that may we could do for employees a little bit better, such as onboarding,

Al Elliott 1:00:35
right? So you’ve probably if you’ve got this behind you listening to this, there’s probably part of you going, Well, this sounds really cool. But it sounds difficult. It sounds like I’m gonna, I’m gonna mess it up in some way. Look, the problem is that most leaders and companies are so wrapped up in themselves that they start talking about increasing revenue, how do we reduce costs? How do we get every last drop out of employees by increasing productivity? They probably don’t say every last drop, but I’m sure they’ll say how do we increase profit, productivity. When we say it like this, it’s clear why our teams aren’t as excited about that goal as we are as leaders. So let’s stop worrying about growing to a 10 million bound company, let’s stop worrying about trying to get productivity tools and saying we’re going to introduce slack so that people spend less time on email so we can actually pay them less or make more money from them. Let’s start worrying about what is actually worrying them. Let’s start helping our employees get what they want.

JJ Peterson 1:01:32
So I think, you know, the quick tips that I would say if as a communicator in leadership, is understand. Anytime you’re trying to move people to action to do anything, whether that’s to fill out a new goal sheet, or to get excited about a new campaign, or to just launch the new year, what you have to realise is if you actually want to communicate in a way that contributes to your audience, or your employees survival and thriving, what you have to do is understand start by saying, what do they want? In this context? So like, let’s say, I’m getting ready to launch the new year, the New Year kickoff, what would everybody in this audience want for this new year? And what is the problem that gets in the way for them getting that? And if you can identify those two things right off the bat, that really enters you into a story. So you might say, alright, this year, we want to be a successful company that grows that’s about me. So I say this, we want to be a successful company that grows. What then as part of that, what does my audience want? They want to be secure in their jobs, they want opportunities to grow. And they want to live build their the life that they want to live, right? It’s for their families. That’s it. They don’t, they don’t want, they don’t care. The only reason they care if the company’s successful is if they get to do those first few things. So identifying those, and then say, but what is the problem that gets in the way of them getting that that security? The reality is, in an uncertain economic climate, a lot of people are worried about how businesses are going to do this year. That’s the problem, right? Now, if you identify those two things right at the beginning of your talk, the rest of your talk can talk about how this year, we are going to overcome that problem together. That’s it. If you start, here’s what you want, here’s the problem. And then the rest of your speech is your plan to overcome that problem. Now, you’ve invited them into a story that they get to be a part of, essentially, they get to be a part of the mighty brigade, who saves the world, right? That’s it, versus getting up and going, here’s our three objectives. Here’s our three goals. Everybody’s going to have to work their ass off to get them. And if you don’t, you’re not getting raises. Okay. Now, I’m suspicious because you’re trying to when you’re trying to be $100 million company, and I know what the profit margins, it’s 25%. So you’re getting 25 million out of this, and I’m worried about losing my job and not getting a $2,000 promotion. Bonus. Okay, like, I’m giving you 50% work because I don’t need this, you know, like, that’s where so many people walk in and just come from a position of power. And in trying to be the hero, you know, they try to be like patent out front of the of the, you know, general patent out front kind of leading and charging this and I tend to think of leadership more like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. Right. Let’s position it more like I’m actually a little lost myself not fully not lost, but I’m actually moving towards something and I’m going to link arms with you who’s missing a brand and you’re missing a heart and we’re going to link arms and we’re going to go this too Yeah, that we’re all getting something out of this, you know, and that’s kind of how when you do that, and as a leader, that changes everything. So my biggest tip for all leaders would be when ever you’re communicating anything, I don’t care if it’s an employee review. I don’t care if it’s company kickoff, I don’t care if it’s a new strategy or a new software system you’re implementing, don’t walk up and go, hey, everybody needs to use Slack. Now, everybody, we’re not communicating on email, everybody’s using slack. Nope. You walk up and say, you have to understand what do they want? We want to be more clear and effective at communication. And we actually want to cut down the amount of time that we’re spending with emails, anything back and forth. But the problem is that, here’s how we’re going to solve it. And here’s how you get to be a part of that. If you can do those first two things, it builds the rest of the story by itself.

Al Elliott 1:05:55
Oh, my God. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes.

Leanne Elliott 1:05:58
Yeah. And such, again, such a clear example was that, that JJ gives there and again, I just think as a leader that is not really isn’t about you, like you started this business. But it is no longer about you. If you have staff, you have employees. Yeah, you’re be the guide.

Al Elliott 1:06:16
All right. So we’ve talked about what happens if you get it wrong, let’s just take a moment to think about what it could look like, if we get this right. I’ve been

JJ Peterson 1:06:22
able to work with some of the really some of the greatest companies in the world. But some of my favourite have been like the Orange County Children’s Hospital. And we actually worked with them on a campaign for internal communication. They were trying to figure out how do we recruit and maintain employees at the Orange County Children’s Hospital. And it came from, you know, again, before it was like, There’s everything that they created and talked about was, we are, we’re the best hospital for kids, you’re gonna get this kind of pay package, you’re gonna get it. And they ended up changing their campaigns to say, instead of like, join the best, it was join the mighty brigade, that protects childhood. And so when you actually, whether you’re a janitor, whether you’re a doctor, whether you’re a nurse, or receptionist, you come to Orange County Children’s Hospital, to join the mighty brigade, and become a defender of childhood. And that small switch changed everything for them in recruitment, and in retention. Because they no longer were making their business, the hero of the story they made their customer who had that was their employees, their employees were their customers in this context, their audience, and they made them the hero of the story, not the hospital. And when I can go in, and help a company who is literally saving the lives of children, in powerful ways, recruit and retain the best talent and the right talent, I would argue the people who actually are there because they want to be about helping children live better lives. I mean, why wouldn’t I dedicate my life.

Leanne Elliott 1:08:11
Um, what I love about the example that JJ uses is having that shared mission that then unites the culture. And I think there is sometimes a bit too much emphasis on culture fit through values. But actually having a very simple mission like this really does embrace all sorts of diversity and inclusion, because the only thing we have to agree on is that we’re here to save kids in our and it’s just, it’s just, it’s just a wonderful example. And I think again, as always, before having your Northstar values sticking to that, and looking at your, your mission, your coach, your people, your customers, as one as one, the whole, you know, all part of all part of each other all intertwined.

Al Elliott 1:08:52
So the thing is, as a leader or a business owner, you obviously want to hit certain goals. But the best leaders know that in order to get what they want, they have to say it together, they have to help the team got that what they want. In short, leaders, we need to edit our ego. Now what’s interesting is JJ did this. He didn’t even talk about himself, even though he had some crazy stories. And at the end, I happened to do some research. And then I asked about some of these crazy stories. But he told me why he didn’t kick off with these stories.

JJ Peterson 1:09:21
So I do have a very funny baptism. I was baptised in Kenya in a cattle trough with literally cows and Maasai warriors around me. I was on the West Wing. I was on the office, I did all those things. I didn’t mention any of those things early on. And and I don’t when I get up and speak because when I’m getting up to speak when I’m first being introduced on a podcast, if I start telling those stories, it might get people to like me or think I’m interesting, but it doesn’t actually position me as a guide in their story. Their story is not about I can be entertaining if the purpose of this podcast is to not just be entertaining. I’ll tell you Missy Elliott story and we’ll all laugh. The purpose of this podcast is not to be entertaining, it’s to be help people be more effective in their leadership and their marketing and their growth of their business. So when I’m talking and I’m sharing pieces with you, that’s what story is about, I’m actually distilling the information in a way, that just positions me as a guide to help you win in that place. Now, if we want to be entertaining, yeah, I’ve got plenty of entertaining stories. But if we want to be effective in growth, I’m telling you about my past in learning story, working with some of the largest companies in the world, and how to do that and be effective,

Leanne Elliott 1:10:36
such good advice that because we all have lots of different experiences, you know, Alan, I don’t start a podcast launching into how we’ve travelled to 46 countries over the last 10 years. You know, we don’t talk about about the, you know, the other things that we’ve done, the the jobs we’ve had the crazy events we’ve had, because they’re not relevant, that doesn’t add credibility to us in in this context, and it doesn’t help us be the guide in your story. So I think this is a really great thing as well, particularly if you’re interviewing now thinking about how am I why am I talking? You know, and what am I saying that’s actually adding value to this, this situation? I absolutely love that. And I think it’s just nice to get to have guests from very different area, share very important lessons. And I think hopefully also just inspire some thoughts in particularly small business owners who might have these expertise in communications in marketing, that can then start to transfer some of those skills over to people and culture use that curiosity you have as an entrepreneur, to make your workplace an amazing place to be.

Al Elliott 1:11:38
Love it, love it, love it, edit your ego. It’s not about you stop making the story about you make it about your team, and you’ll see amazing results. All the links will be in the show notes. You can also find most of on truth lives and Where else they were on LinkedIn, we talked about this on LinkedIn, you’ll be doing a post where others do you can talk to us directly on LinkedIn. I’ve said LinkedIn a lot now.

Leanne Elliott 1:12:02
You can really the links to all of our socials, in the show notes along with some of the bits and pieces we’ve mentioned in this episode. We will be back next week with some more cool, awesome content for you. And hopefully you enjoy it as being your guide through this world of people and culture. And if you really do enjoy it, consider leaving us a review. It really does help other people to find the pocket.

Al Elliott 1:12:25
Yep, we’ll leave a link to review in the show notes. Thank you so much again. We’ll see you next week. Bye bye. That was a dog toy.

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