More Than A Training – It’s A Lifestyle

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Listen Now: More Than a Training – It’s A Lifestyle

In this episode, I talk with Ben OConnell, VP of Sales at Mid Florida Golf Cars. He talks about the very real culture change initiative, and how growing his own self-awareness has given him far greater personal power. We discuss self-talk and how much it can get in the way of communicating openly, honestly, and more effectively– not just at work, but everywhere in life. It’s why he calls it “The Lifestyle”

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Laura: In this episode, I speak with Ben O’Connell, VP of Sales at Mid Florida Golf Cars. On the last episode, I spoke with the CEO, Tom Cannon, who, with input from Ben and others on his executive team, decided to invest in a strategic culture change initiative. The culture they are working actively to create is marked by the values of Open to Change, Courageous Initiative, and Teamwork with Heart. We’ve focused a lot on developing a deeper level of self-awareness throughout the organization, in order to create more open and self-accountable communication. When I ask Ben about it, he has a unique label of his experience:

Ben: look forward to continuing to engage in what I so affectionately refer to as the lifestyle, it’s fundamentally changed the way that I, um, the way that I engage with the world

Laura: He talks about how changing his relationship with his emotions has enabled him to feel far more in control and has given him more power in life:

Ben: a fundamental change for me, as opposed to, being run by my emotions to being in touch with them

Ben: it’s given me sort of more power

Laura: He also describes how the idea of having a “toddler mentality” enabled him to learn quickly

Ben: a toddler doesn’t know how to walk or even really how to crawl. If they want to get somewhere, they start to scrape the ground to sort of try to get there. So that’s the mentality that I’ve deliberately integrated into my life, as opposed to the way that I operated I guess previously to this would be, sort of, postponing action until I felt that there was already expertise, which is impossible.

Laura: He talks about how he has used these tools to shape how he manages conflict between employees on his team, including leveraging the power of making specific requests in our communication

Ben: we focused on what each individual really appreciated about the other person, what they were thankful for, and then what requests they would make of them in terms of the way that they engaged with each other and we got real specific in terms of when I come to you, take a pause with me or if you have, if I’m causing such a reaction would you react to me in such and such a way? And it was really, really taken very well.

Laura: And he describes how the culture at Mid Florida Golf Cars is different and more intentional than any other culture he has been a part of:

[2:50] Ben: I’ll just come out and say that, for the most part, the companies that I’ve worked for in my life, whether in a leadership role or not, that the stated culture was really an afterthought. And was lip service at best. So, what we’re doing here at Mid Florida Golf Cars is not that at all. It is the first time that I’ve ever been engaged in a culture, in a company that is deliberate, is open, is actually open.

Laura: This interview is packed with insights and examples – so let’s get to it – here is Ben O’Connell:

Laura: Alright, so Ben, thank you so much for being on the show. I would love for you to introduce yourself to our listeners.

Ben: So, my name is Ben O’Connell. I am the vice president of sales here at Mid Florida Golf Cars. Happy to be here with you, Laura, and looking forward to this.

Laura: I asked you to be on the show ’cause, um, we’ve worked together now for… I guess it’s something– gosh, how long has it been now?

Ben: Just about a year.

Laura: Just about a year. Doesn’t it feel longer, actually?

Laura: Not like in a bad way, but like in a really good way?

Ben: No, no, no, no. In, in the best way.

Laura: In the best way. Yeah, I’m kind of surprised, actually, that it hasn’t even been a full year yet.

[4:02] Ben: It, it feels long in terms of what we’ve accomplished and how far I’ve come. But then, you know, I also, I’m very thankful for the time–

Laura: Yeah.

Ben: –that we get to spend together, so.

Laura: Thanks. I appreciate that.

Ben: Sure.

Laura: And so you are one of the rare, rare people who’s been through — I think you’ve actually been through three different workshops that I offer, um, in addition to your participation in the work that I’ve done with Mid Florida Golf Cars. So, you’ve really had, um, a lot of exposure to these concepts and, you know, I tease you about kind of being like a, you know, star student or I–

Laura: tease you about like raising my expectations for you because you just, you know, have participated so beautifully in so many of these opportunities, um, and I’ve always appreciated your openness to everything that, that I like to bring. So, I wanted to have you come on the show and talk a bit about your experience, so that’s I guess some context for our listeners.

Ben: Sure. So, um, it, it’s nice to be a, a star student–

Laura: Uh huh.

Ben: –for, for the first time.

Ben: Um–

Laura: Never too late in life, right?

Ben: It never is. For me it’s, it’s been a journey, right? One of, ya know, self-awareness and self-discovery that I’m very thankful to have. To have been a part of and continue to be a part of.

Laura: Yeah.

Ben: You know look forward to continuing to, you know, to engage in what I so affectionately refer to as the lifestyle.

Laura: I love that. The lifestyle.

Ben: The lifestyle.

Laura: And that, that’s really cool. I think that I want to ask you to elaborate on that, just conceptually even, for a moment. This idea that it’s not just a training or a set of skills but, but, tell me why do you call it the lifestyle?

Ben: So, for me, it’s, it’s fundamentally changed the way that I engage with the world, right? Both in a business and professional environment but also equally, if not more so, on, on you know, in personal life. Right? Um, so, in terms of inner dialogue and the way that I engage with people in terms of openness and honesty, the way that I’m aware of how my actions are affecting those around me has just sort of penetrated, um, you know, every,

Laura: Like interaction or–

Ben: Every interaction, right.

Laura: –relationship?

Ben: And, and also provides me a set of tools to deal with, you know, things like anxiety and self doubt and any sort of, negative emotions that I experience through the context of life or the context of work–

Laura: Yeah.

Ben: –um, and it’s been really, uh, really cool as a, as a set of tools and a, and a philosophical way to view the world.

[6:40] Laura: Yeah.

Ben: Um, so it’s been, it’s been cool.

Laura: I love that. I love that. So I can fundamentally change the way that I view the world. And that, then, fundamentally changes the way that I walk through the world. It changes the way that I show up. And I, I think that’s, those are the words that I’d probably use to summarize what I’m hearing from you.

Ben: Yeah. And it allows me to be very, sort of, deliberate in my, in my actions. Right? Which is a fundamental change for me as opposed to being run by my emotions to being in touch with them. And having a relationship that is, uh, more of a peer relationship, right, if you will.

Laura: That’s really cool.

Ben: –it’s given me sort of more power, I guess.

Laura: I love that as a metaphor.

Ben: Yeah.

Laura: The relationship that you have with your emotions.

Ben: Yeah.

Laura: Yeah. I mean, and that’s such a great way to capture what this really is about. ‘Cause, as you know, I don’t advocate that people stop having emotions. And, in fact, when people tell me, “Oh, I’m not an emotional person” well I know that’s not true.

[Laughter 7:34]

Laura: It just means they’re not in touch with what those emotions are and the ways that those emotions are affecting them. So, alright. So, I wanna get, uh, specific. And I’m wondering if you can share with me, give, give us some insight into Ben before the lifestyle. Like when you were maybe more run by your emotions rather than having this peer relationship with them.

Ben: Sure. So, so I always, um, had a sort of knew about myself that… we’ll just call it a lot of inner, inner monologue. Right? Inner, inner dialogue.

Laura: I call it self talk.

Ben: There we go.

Laura: Yeah.

Ben: Very large amount.

Laura: Okay.

Ben: And, um, I, I would almost venture to say maybe a debilitating amount in certain regard. Right?

Laura: Yeah.

Ben: Just caused a lot of stress and, and I kind of realized that that this although it did lead to the successes that I had in life and made me who I am, a lot of it was, was not beneficial to myself, and my engagements with the world. So, I was very open to the lifestyle. Based on kind of having a yearning for a way to deal with that.

Laura: So give me an example of that, where you had what you might consider an excess amount of self talk that was getting in the way. It was actually undermining your effectiveness rather than helping you.

Ben: Jeez. Um, that would be every, everything.

[Laughter 08:58]

Laura: Well, what’s one that our listeners could maybe relate to or understand?

Ben: So, you know, my tendency in these kind of stories is to lean professional. So, whether it was dealing with a, you know, a coworker or coaching a subordinate or managing, or managing upward. My actions were, were mostly controlled by my inner, by my self-talk and what I found that I was doing is I wasn’t verifying my self-talk as being reality. And that was an issue. Right?

Laura: Okay.

Ben: And this has allowed me to, um, to test these, these ideas and provide some verification around these you know these thoughts that still creep up before I spend time on something that is not only potentially not true but not beneficial.

Laura: So, so you’re a leader in this organization, obviously. So, is there an example that comes to mind that maybe relates to an employee? So you’re maybe looking at how an employee is performing or not performing or they’re making this decision or they’re doing that and you quickly have that self talk and tell yourself a story about why that’s happening or what this means. Do you have an example like that?

Ben: So, so, so many. Right? You know, I’ll give an example with a new salesperson that we recently brought on board.


Ben: So I manage our inside sales team as well as our outside sales team and then kind of sort of a customer service call center type team as well. When this particular individual was expected to become proficient relatively quickly, right? We have a very, you know, as you know, very sort of startup mentality and we jump in feet first. Toddler mentality with everything. So,

Laura: So wait. Okay, now you gotta explain toddler mentality.

Ben: It’s become my, one of my favorite lines.

Laura: Yay.

Ben: So I haven’t gotten tired of it yet. And I love it.

Laura: So, how do you explain that to people?

Ben: So, it’s just like a toddler. Right? So it’s– a toddler doesn’t know how to walk or even really how to crawl. If they want to get somewhere, they start to scrape the ground to sort of try to get there. So that’s the mentality that I’ve deliberately integrated into my life, as opposed to the way that I operated I guess previously to this would be sort of postponing action until I felt that there was already expertise, which is impossible.

Laura: Yeah.

Ben: Um, and it’s, it’s been a liberating experience to–

Laura: Awesome.

Ben: –embrace that.

Laura: Can I, can I say a little bit more about toddler mentality?

Ben: Sure.

Laura: Um, ’cause, you know, I always love to explain this stuff. So, yeah. The way that I talk about it, I’ll pull on your example of a toddler learning how to walk. So, the first time a toddler’s learning how to walk maybe he or she gets a couple steps in before, you know, boom, crash, on the floor. And maybe that toddler gets a little bit frustrated and upset but, you know, picks himself up and, and goes again and, and learns. And the reason I, I love to talk about the toddler mentality specifically is that they don’t have a sense of self consciousness and embarrassment when they fall. They, they’re just learning. And then somewhere along the way, as kids and then certainly as adults, we allow this fear of looking foolish, looking embarrassed because it doesn’t, it’s not perfect, we’re not experts yet so we don’t do it. And so it’s this way that being a perfectionist and wanting to have things just right completely stops us from learning something. So I often introduce toddler mentality to people, ’cause I do introduce concepts that are new and different and I want people to experience it, I want them to do it, practice it, notice what happens, and they might feel like they’re stumbling but hey, what if they’re not afraid of looking a little foolish as they’re learning?

[Laughter 12:40]

Ben: I love it. And it’s, it’s– I say it several times a day.

Laura: Nice.

Ben: Around, around the office.

Laura: Okay .Alright. So, I interrupted you. So, um, your, your new salesperson was expected to learn a lot and then you referenced toddler mentality,

Ben: Yes, yes. So, so in my engagements with this individual when we’re asking for a lot relatively quickly, um, when, when, when this individual tends to get a little, a little excited I guess, a little apprehensive maybe, um, and, uh, in a you know, in a sales context. Um, the, the, this sort of training has really allowed me to pause any stories that I would have about what that behavior is caused by, whether I would tell myself it’s caused by a specific way that I’m engaging or a frustration that they’re having with me and I continually do this every day and, and, you know, just this week even that I find that when I can have a deliberate pause and a check in of what’s causing this I find that, uh, seldom is it actually what I would have guessed that it would have been, which always turns out to be a good thing.

Laura: Okay, so you end up getting really curious and maybe asking questions rather than just relying on the story that you’ve made up in your head. And this is something that we do. Right? This is a, a human tendency. We love to create meaning from things and so it happens automatically and a lot of people don’t even realize that they’re making up a story. They actually just take it as fact. And so that’s exactly what I’m hearing you describe, is that you recognize as it’s happening, “Wait a second. That’s just my story. Let me reality check it. Let me find out what’s going on for them.” So, what is something that you say in that moment? What does the actual conversation sound like?

Ben: I’ve found that it’s, it’s helpful in these situations for me to be very general about my questions. Right? So, so sometimes I’ll stop, you know, an individual and ask them, “So, what’s the goal here?” Right? So, so, if I’m sensing an emotion, what are we actually emotional about? What’s the actual want? Where is the frustration coming from? And it works well. And it allows them to, um, uh, with some experience and some coaching to identify, um, an actual root cause that, um, we may never otherwise get to or certainly wouldn’t as easily or timely.

Laura: I love, I love what you said there. I want to pick up on that for a moment. This idea that, okay, so if you have an employee who’s maybe getting a little bit excited, kind of frustrated, something like that, by pausing and asking the question, not only are you getting more clear because you’re asking rather than just relying on your own self-talk about it, but maybe that person didn’t even fully understand where the frustration was coming from.

[Laughter 15:25]

Laura: Right? Is that kind of where you were going when you said like “with some experience and coaching they’re able to articulate the root cause”?

Ben: Yeah. Exactly. Based on my experience with myself and others, it, it does take a little bit of practice first of all to be open to this. Open enough to be able to determine what that, what that is. Who, as you said, which, you know in many cases otherwise would um would not want to get there. And then by extension would never be able to.

Laura: Okay. And I love the word practice that you used as well. I, I look at all this work as daily practice. I mean, I’ve been doing this for a little over 12 years now. I talk about it literally every day. Not just with my clients but, um, I do this for myself and I still talk about it as a practice for me. I’m still practicing all of these things. And I’m absolutely getting better all the time. So, for me it’s never a, a “check the box” kind of thing. It’s always, there’s always ways I can become more self aware, there’s always more, more skill that I can develop and get closer to that master level, if you will.

Ben: I love it.

Laura: That you referenced earlier.

Ben: Yeah.

[16:32] Laura: So, what you just went through was a conversation that could happen between you and an employee. So, as that person’s boss, leader, you have the chance to help them get clear, you get more clear, and then you can solve the problem, which is great. Something else that comes up a lot for leaders is when there becomes conflict or tension between two people on the team. And so you had a situation like that recently that you were able to practice some of these techniques and tools. Can you tell me about that?

Ben: So this was between one of our outside salespeople and someone on the operational side of the business. Often there is some opposite facing incentives if we can recognize that in business. Right? And this was a situation where, again, a newer, we have a relatively new team here, but a newer, uh, one of my territory managers was, uh, having some arguments based on several, several different things. Both their actual engagements, there was a little bit of power struggle in terms of authority, and then, you know, one person asking another person questions and the other person getting pressure from a different side of the business and not necessarily having the time to spend, uh, with this other individual. So, so this caused some emotional tension, um, that, that reached a medium-high level several times.

Laura: Okay.

Ben: And that certainly needed to be, um, certainly needed to be addressed. This is at a remote location by the way, so, um, you know, we have four locations. I’m based out of our corporate office. It’s a little easier when we see people every day. Um, at some of our remote locations it requires a different management style, right?– So I went to visit and part of my role, obviously, is conflict resolution in this way. So I, I told you, you would have been so proud of me.

Ben: I, I removed any, any obstructions between us when we, when we met.

Laura: You mean like physically.

Ben: Physical obstructions, right.

Laura: So no tables between, just, okay.

Ben: Um, yeah and I try to do that whenever, whenever possible. And then, you know, had the individuals, uh, sort of acted as kind of a, of a moderator. And they’ve had some framework and exposure to, um, this type of work as well. Um, but, but really concentrate on, on each other, um, when they were describing the situation and the things that they didn’t like and describing really their emotion and how the other person’s reaction was making them feel. Um, so I was, again, acting in kind of a moderating capacity so that one person wouldn’t pile on too much before the other person could sort of digest it. So, I took them through this and we focused on what each, each individual really appreciated about the other person, what they were thankful for, and then what requests they would make of them in terms of the way that they engaged with each other and we got real specific in terms of when I come to you take a pause with me or if you have, if I’m causing such a reaction would you react to me in such and such a way? And it was really, really taken very well. And, you know, ultimately, this is something that you know I’m thankful to have this sort of training and be able to engage in this way but I think kind of these situations, this framework, allows for the best conflict resolution that I’ve ever seen.

Laura: [19:43] That is so cool. So, I wanna, um, I wanna talk a little bit about that idea of making a request, ’cause I think it’s really powerful. So, one of the things that happens sometimes when two or more people are trying to work through a problem is they focus a lot on what they don’t want. “Well, I don’t want you to do this. Well I’m–”

Laura: “–just tired of the tension. I just don’t want it to feel–” And to ask people to say, “What is it you do want?” often gives them pause. They don’t necessarily know. They haven’t necessarily thought through what they want it to be. And in that moment I often say, “So if you’re not totally clear about what you want this person to do, why in the world would you expect they know–”

Laura: “–what you would want them to do?” And so this idea of forming a request and then getting agreement on that is huge. And it sounds, I think, to an outsider, initially it sounds like it’s very tedious, um, and “Really? Get that specific? Isn’t it just common sense?” That type of thing that people can get caught up in but, you know, in this situation it sounds like you are a witness to two people really designing “here’s how this relationship can work well for me.”

Ben: [20:52] Yeah. And it works. Right? It is a little bit counterintuitive but it eliminates, um, the, the aspect of self talk that each individual is having about the other one that is in most cases not true at all. And it provides a, a level of vulnerability which really I’ve found, creates a situation where we can have some effective conflict resolution. And develop some, some real respect when both people are willing to be vulnerable in this sort of situation.

Laura: Say, say more about what you mean by vulnerability.

Ben: So, it’s courageous. Right? But, but I would say, especially when there’s, in a work conflict situation, especially when there’s emotion involved and, you know, people have different, you know as you said, preferences in terms of norms of interaction, when individuals can, um, have the the confidence to be vulnerable in, and open with, in describing the way that the other person’s actions actually make them feel. I think that is, um, a vulnerable thing. Right? When one person can actually come out and say, “That really hurt me. And this is what it makes me feel about myself. That I question my own competence and think that you don’t like me.” Or whatever it might be, that level of vulnerability, I’ve found, um, leads to actual effective, uh, steps to, to resolving conflict.

Laura: I love that. And I am so proud right now, by the way.

[Laughter 22:19]

Laura: So proud. What did you notice about, um, the energy and the dynamic between these two employees as you were taking them through this process and having them share in this way?

Ben: So, the, um, you mean physically? Is that kind of where we’re going with this?

Laura: Yeah. Just, I mean I guess I used the word energy because, um, I notice, I notice through non-verbals, tone, and what happens for people if it feels antagonistic and blaming versus when it starts to feel more vulnerable, more open, perhaps also more self accountable. I tend to notice a shift in energy but I’d love to hear what you noticed.

Ben: Sure. So, they you know, initially there was, there was a lot of closed body poses. You know, crossed legs and folded arms, you know sort of initially and, and we, as I made the request of the first person to be vulnerable in their engagement, it started to kind of really loosen up. And then through the probably about an hour, hour and a half, that we went through this, there was actually what I would describe as a real genuine embrace and hug between the two individuals.

Laura: Aw.

Ben: Yeah. Um, which was, which was nice to see. And, and something that I think, you know, wouldn’t have otherwise been possible and something that, um, you know, that really will last.

Laura: So, let me ask you. So, if, if Ben of one year ago was in a similar situation–

Ben: Sure.

Laura: –what do you think you might have done differently? Or how, how would you, with all the best intentions, how might you have handled that?

[23:50] Ben: Yeah, So I would’ve had good intentions, but how much would have come of it may have ended there. In all reality. So it certainly could’ve ended up, um, “And this is what I don’t want to see from one person. And this is what I don’t want to see from another person.” And kind of a piling on of, of one individual saying their piece, another individual saying their piece, that leading to increased defensiveness between the individuals and then, and then a manager figure, in this case me, kind of just changing the rules and saying, “This is how we’re gonna operate and then everybody else go back to work.” So this is what I see a lot, this is what I’ve seen a lot in my, you know, career. And it certainly could have gone that way. So that is something that I think is only a band aid. And that doesn’t lead to any meaningful respect or team work or environment that can be improved upon.

Laura: Yeah. A real shift in, in behavior and the dynamic and patterns that can emerge between any two people.

Ben: So this has been a pleasant surprise, right? But now that I’m at this, at this level, I want to just continue to, to improve.

Laura: Yeah.

Ben: And really share this, this mindset, this lifestyle, this framework, this set of tools with everybody that, um, is open, um, you know, is open to it. Right? Both at, at work and, and both in my personal life. One thing I will say, though, I think I want to share is that my, engagements with individuals that maybe aren’t or haven’t made the choice yet to focus on self awareness and open mindedness, my increase in knowledge has caused me to really become aware of that very fast. So I don’t know if that’s a word of warning or not but

Laura: What is the warning about that?

Ben: Well, what I’ve found is it, it still certainly benefits my life even in dealing with individuals that, you know, might be very fixed mindset, for example, or not think that they have control over their actions because, uh, I have some of those individuals that are, are in my life as maybe some others do, it’s in a certain sense, it can make those engagements a little bit more, initially it can make me think that they’re gonna be more difficult. Ultimately, again, the tools that I’ve learned help, help me. But it’s just very much more, more noticeable. So what I find myself doing is encouraging individuals to, to be a little bit more open when it’s appropriate. And then maybe choosing, um, to measure my engagements with maybe some that are not.

Laura: So recognizing your own choice in terms of how much you might engage with people who have, uh, resistance, shall we say, to being more self accountable?

Ben: There we go.

Laura: Yeah?

[Laughter 26:29]

Laura: Okay.

Ben:  That’s exactly what I mean. It’s that, it’s, and it’s, uh, what I’m talking about is exactly accountability.

[26:40] Laura: so the work that we’ve been doing, a lot of that is about Mid Florida Golf Cars really focusing on changing the culture here. Um, and so I, I’d love to hear from you about what you notice is shifting about the culture here. What you think is different about the culture that you’re all creating here versus other places that you’ve worked. What’s your take?

Ben: I’ll just come out and say that, for the most part, the companies that I’ve worked for in my life, whether in a leadership role or not, that the stated culture was really an afterthought. And was lip service at best. So what we’re doing here at Mid Florida Golf Cars is not that at all. It is the first time that I’ve ever been engaged in, in a culture, in a company that, deliberate, is open, is actually open. We use the green line here and we, we sometimes warn that we’re gonna do it with one another–

Ben: –and sometimes we just do it. It’s part of our language now.

Laura: And so, the green line. Do you want to explain what that is or would you like me to?

Ben: Yeah. Please.

Laura: [27:42] Okay. So, so simply, green line refers to openness and so, uh, I can only ever be open about my own experience. And some of my experience I’m aware of. I’m aware of my thoughts and feelings. Other times, maybe I’m having an emotional reaction that I’m not even fully conscious of but it’s seeping out of me in different ways. So, what we teach here is once I become aware of my own experience, thoughts and feelings, I can choose to withhold that. I can keep to myself, which is not very conducive to problem solving. I can also choose to take this really squiggly, windy line which we call lying or misleading, um, sugar-coating, um, being tactful, being polite. Lots of ways that we justify just not being truthful and open and then another option is the green line which is whatever my thoughts and feelings are, I want to share those with you. And the more open I am with myself, the more self aware I am, the easier it is for me to practice that green line with you because I’m not coming at you in a blaming way. It’s like what you were talking about before. I can share with you. So, when, when you do this, I notice I feel really frustrated and I feel hurt and I notice that I question my own competence and it doesn’t feel good. This is what I would like from you. So that would be an example of green line, whereas other people might choose just to keep their frustrations to themselves, which then of course it seeps out through their tone and their non-verbals and all that energy. So the green line is, really it’s the essence of openness. I will be open with you about my thoughts and my feelings.

[29:24] Ben: Yeah and it’s, it’s part of the foundation, one of the foundation that, that everything kind of stems from, you know, in our culture. Uh, so, I actually have it hanging on the wall in my office.

Laura: You do. I was looking at it as I was–

Laura: –talking through the description.

Ben: And someone comes into my office and they’re not engaging in a green fashion, then that request is made, it’s made of them.

Laura: Beautiful.

Ben: So, you, you know, and our culture is, you know, is again very deliberate. We spent a lot of time coming up with it. It is our  it’s really the way that we control our actions with each other and our engagements with the customers, with our customers, and it’s a, it’s a framework that our decisions are measured against. In a meaningful way, again, that in contrast to other companies I’ve either been a part of or been exposed to is fundamentally different.

Laura: And so this decision to invest in culture, while the decision was not necessarily made in a vacuum or a silo, this was, this was Tom Cannon’s decision. So Tom Cannon is the CEO here at Mid Florida Golf Cars and he, himself, has been very open to all of this practice and gaining experience and transformation and I would love to hear from you, Ben, what are some of the things that you’ve noticed about Tom and his shifts?

[30:50] Ben: Yeah. So, Tom and I have worked, uh, together at a previous organization, uh, going back a few years now. And then Tom, um, left and became CEO here. So we had a good relationship before. I have an enormous amount of respect for you know, for Tom and happy to be working together. And then just really impressed by this level of engagement and this level of intentional culture and intentional focus and, and, and sort of the, the purpose, the purpose there. I actually had Tom in my office yesterday and kind of shared a kind of an interesting story with him that this company that we’re a part of now was a very, very successful company. Right. Has had some longevity but, like most companies had some dysfunction. So I, now having a year in, shared with Tom that not only am I impressed by his progressive nature and forward thinking that would cause an engagement of this kind and an investment in this regard and focus, but also finally fully understand now the need that  that we had as an organization from a, really at a fundamental level. And this is shared by a lot of organizations of course but I was you know, I’d become aware that although we were very successful, there was, again, a level of dysfunction that, given the goals that we have and the vision that we want to treat in this fashion so that they become possible. Which, otherwise it just, such a thing just might not be possible. Likely wouldn’t.

Laura: Okay. So, what have you, what, if anything, have you noticed about Tom as a leader and how he’s, how he’s grown and changed?

Ben:  So, so we’ve been engaged in this for a year now. We’ve done, you know, workshops here and, um, you know, the executive meetings that we have and the coaching that occurs there. Tom and I have also done the five-day workshop together.

Laura: Yeah. The Human Element.

Ben: The Human Element. So we’ve gotten pretty gotten pretty deep into the lifestyle, if you will. So, so I’ve seen, and it’s really been, from my perspective, a very positive mutual respect there that exists from a working perspective. You know, I’ve seen his, you know, level of openness both in terms of corroboration and also sharing thoughts and emotions and feelings with me just speaking for myself, is at a level that certainly I haven’t ever experienced with somebody that I’ve ever worked, or reported to, worked for, worked with. All of that.

Laura: What do you think changes about the effectiveness of your work relationship as a result?

Ben: Everything.

Laura: Yeah?

Ben: Yeah. I mean there’s no way that it, that it couldn’t. Um, again for me, the, the self awareness piece and, you know, every aspect that I’ve learned in this work and unhooking my hot buttons and managing my triggers very deliberately you know, sort of unpacking what I’m hearing from other people, and being vulnerable first, sort of me realizing the value and the, the different types of engagements that that will lead to when I show up very deliberate in that fashion and be vulnerable where appropriate, um, nothing’s the same.

Laura: Okay.

Ben: Nothing’s the same and it’s all, you know, it’s all, you know, sort of certainly way better than it would be otherwise and that has been for me previously.

Laura: [34:00] So, from, from what I hear from you, Ben, I think that you’re already, um, an advocate and a champion for–

Ben: I’m cured.

Laura: –for these tools and for the lifestyle and everything so this is maybe something that you’re already doing on a quasi-daily basis–

Ben: Sure.

Laura: –but I would love to hear from you, what might you say to listeners out there who really haven’t taken much of a step towards growing self awareness or…

Ben: Yeah. So, it’s been a journey. Again, and speaking from personal experience, I was open to this initially. Again, because um, I had a, I recognized something that existed, for me it was the chatter, that I wanted to address. So, I don’t want to say it’s been easy, ’cause certainly easy is not a word I would use to describe it. It has been very deliberate, has required a lot of vulnerability, on my part which I’ve found that the more times I, I do that when I’m, when I’m fearful of doing it, the easier it becomes. And all of this is about, has been about, for me, addressing fears, right? Different, different types of anxiety and quite honestly, fear. So in terms of maybe advice, I would, I would suggest that somebody who knows or has decided or thinks maybe they even want to improve… who believes that they have some control over their own actions and what happens to them—

Laura: Do you have any control over yourself?

Ben: Yes. Then, then you’ll benefit from this. Right?  But you’ll, you know, I would say it’s important to realize they’ll get out of it, like anything else I guess, but they’ll get out of it what they, what they put into it and how open they’re willing to be and how quickly they’re willing to face those fears.

Laura: [35:39] Okay. So, separate from, from any work that people could do with me. Just on their own, just listening to this, what’s one tip or piece of advice that you would offer to them that they could practice in order to notice how it creates a shift.

Ben: Wow. Geez. There’s really so much. What I would say is one of the more beneficial things to me and I think maybe something they can do fairly quickly is just to measure their own stories that they tell themselves. And by story I mean when we, when we, when we’re walking down the street and we see someone walking on the other side and we make eye contact with them or when you’re dealing with somebody at work and you don’t quite know why they’re acting the way that they are. Just to be very conscious of examining what those stories are and realizing that, first of all, there’s no way they can be 100 percent true unless they’re verified and that they’re, in large part, the stories are more about us as individuals and less about the person that we’re telling the story about. So I would just suggest that that might be a good sort of place to, to begin the journey. It certainly was a jumping off point for me. I realized that I wanted to address these stories and see what, if any, value that they had. Um, and then, um, choose not to, to engage in them if they were, if they were not of value.

Laura: [37:00] Yeah. Not married to the story. Become aware of it and then go, “Alright. Well, is that even real?”

Ben: Right.

Laura: Let’s find out.

Ben: Is it gonna lead to productivity? Is it gonna lead to the goal that I have at work? The task at hand? And, what I find with both myself and my teams is that, for the most part, they’re not productive.

Laura: Okay. Awesome.

Ben: So, letting go of those.

Laura: Beautiful. Well thank you so much for taking time to be on the show today. I really appreciate it.

Ben: Thank you Laura. It’s a pleasure.

Laura: Alright.

Laura: If you want to explore any of these concepts for yourself – growing your own self-awareness, managing conflict more effectively, or transforming your culture to one that gives you a competitive edge, please  reach out to me at, or visit the website at for more information. Thanks for listening to the show. Since you’re still here, I’d love to ask for a favor – would you please rate this show on iTunes? It’s one of the best ways to help others find the show, and I’d love to get this message out to as many people in the world as possible. Also, maybe you want to send this episode to somebody that you think could benefit from listening. Thanks for all your support….we’ll talk again soon.

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