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Michelle Crawford: Founder at Being More Human

14th November 2023 | 42 mins 41 secs

In this episode, James talks to Michelle Crawford, Chief Conversationalist of Being More Human.  Michelle sheds light on the power of good leadership. People often forget that leadership and management is a technical capability and shares tips to help listeners develop that skill.

We also look at how the best leaders have excellent strategic thinking capabilities and embrace ambiguity. We discuss your genius zone, where you are most efficient, and how to identify and assist your team to work in that zone, too.

Michelle then dives into her experiences with start ups; culture building, developing a sales funnel, managing multiple priorities and identifying high-performers.

This podcast is for anyone interested in start-ups, leadership or culture. We hope you enjoy the show!

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Welcome to another episode of the NewyTechPeople podcast. On today’s episode, we have Michelle Crawford, chief conversationalist of Being more Human. Welcome, Michelle.

Thanks. Thanks for the invite, Jimmy. Not a problem.

You’re a little bit of a different background than most of the people we have on the podcast. Most of the people we have on the podcast, definitely more technical, more technology focused. You come at it from a different angle, but work quite closely with a lot of technology leaders.

So really interested to get your opinion on what you see in the market and different aspects of that. But for those of our listeners who don’t know who you are, give us a bit of an overview. Sure.

So I’m Michelle Crawford, and I’m the chief conversationalist at being more human. And being more human is a consulting company that is focused on helping everybody to reach their human potential in every way that that means in the biggest picture. Nice.

So you work with a lot of spend most of my time working with CEOs and C suite executive business leaders, and we also work more broadly across the rest of the companies that we work with as well. But different consultants do that and we use different tools for that. Awesome.

Yeah. Technology is an interesting one. People growing the technology careers can either go one or two ways.

Either stay really technical and grow the careers, strong technical and become like technical experts. That used to be an angle where you had to be the team manager to earn really good management, good money, whereas these days you could actually stay super technical and earn really good wicket. Or you go the team management route, which is getting less hands on with the technology and more people management, leadership, that type of thing.

So I think that angle is really interesting, one where you might be able to provide some insights today for the people who are aspiring to go down team management and leadership routes. Is there any general advice when you’re starting to manage people, starting to manage teams, that people should take any learnings, any trainings, any general advice for people as they start that career that they should be looking into? I think the most basic and potentially obvious, but you don’t talk about it element to leadership is actually just to like people, to genuinely be a people person and want to spend time with people and talk to them, understand what makes them tick, understand how to engage and how to connect with people and how to get the best out of them and liking them is a great first step toward that. Yeah.

So if you’re not a people person, you don’t genuinely get a buz out of that. Managing people on a day to day basis is probably not going to be something you enjoy. Probably not.

You probably should stay in the technical space and not manage or lead people. Yeah. Which I think is a very relevant piece of information.

I think it’s something that everyone used to think. You have to manage people, you have to manage teams to have a successful career, and it’s just not the case, and it’s not for everyone. It’s a particular skill set.

Just like being technical is a skill set. That’s right. And people forget that leadership and management and humans is a technical capability.

And what happens all over Australia, and this is just not in the technical area, but even in law and accounting and a whole bunch of other professions, is you are technically great at what you do, so therefore you get promoted to leadership and management positions. And we’re just setting people up to fail because they haven’t had the skills, the capability building. They actually don’t know how to do it, but suddenly they’re in a situation where they do have to do it and it can be tough.

Okay. If somebody’s in that situation, they’ve been promoted into a role straight up, and it might not be their gem, it might not be where they want to be, but they’re in a company. No one else is in that role.

They don’t have budget brings somebody else in externally that they’ve been promoted into that rOle. If it’s not something that comes naturally to you, what are some of the first things that people might be able to do to help grow in that space? I think the first big one is to make sure that you’re always having one on ones with your team members, to make sure that you carve out some time each week, each month, whatever it might be, to regularly sit down with the people in your team to get to know them, get to understand them, work out what’s not working for them. Because ultimately, as their leader and their manager, you should be removing any obstacles from where they are so that they can perform at their best.

That should be your job. And you’re not going to know what they are unless you really sit down with people regularly. So regular one on ones would have to be the first step that you’d take.

I like that. It’s a really good starting point. You mentioned that you do work with a lot of C suite and those upper level management.

For the people that excel at that stage, are there some common traits that you see amongst the strongest leaders there? Yeah, the strongest leaders will have a really good strategic thinking capability, and they’ll also be very capable of not just tolerating, but embracing ambiguity. The higher you go up an organization, this is the irony of it. They say the more control you have, but really the less control you have, you just get a bigger picture of all the things that are going wrong.

So you have to be able to embrace ambiguity, understand how to navigate it, and not be threatened by that. So they’re the top two. Strategic thinking, embrace ambiguity.

Are there ways to learn to become better at both of those? Yeah, you can learn to become better at both of those. And just as an indication, like out of all of the senior leaders that I deal with, strategic thinking is not usually the thing that people are great at. It’s usually the thing that people are pretty average at.

So they need to learn, they need to develop, they need to be open about what that actually looks like, what it means. People at that level have a tendency to be too operational and actually too detailed compared to the real visionary strategy side of things that you need. Especially if you’ve been promoted.

Right. Because if you’ve been promoted into leadership within a company, you know, the technical side and that’s the part, the operational in the details, is what made you good at what you did and then getting promoted for, and having to turn those skills away, what got you promoted and then learn new skills, would be quite difficult. Exactly.

And you’re right outside your comfort zone. So it’s human nature to go back to your comfort zone, which is that more operational space. But what ends up happening is in leadership team meetings, in executive meetings, instead of kind of an 80 20 strategy operational split, it ends up the opposite way around with 80% operational and 20% strategic.

And that fundamentally affects the direction of the business, your ability to execute strategy, and ultimately how successful you are as a brand. Yeah. Nice.

That’s an interesting space. And it’s really interesting, especially in the startup and scale up space in technology, where you get a lot of smaller companies, where at the start, especially if you’re a founder or a founding team, you have to wear multiple hats, you have to do everything. You have to be the technician and the leader, you have to be the visionary, and you have to be finance, you have to do everything to start with wearing those multiple hats.

But as you grow, specializing those skills and bringing the right people to complement your skills is quite an interesting space. Yeah. And the more and more, as you grow more and more, you should be very good at operating in your genius zone and making sure that everyone else is operating in their genius zones.

And that’s really what gets you the traction and the leverage to the next level. If you’re trying to scale this genius zone. I’ve not heard of this before.

Can you give me a bit of an explanation on. Well, everyone has a genius zone in one area or a group of areas that they might work on. I guess it’s just another word for a super strength.

So if you think of what your particular super strengths are, the more that you can position your day to day world being in an area that covers your super strengths, the easier it is for you, the better you are at it, and the less frustrating it is for people around you, because you’re going to be awesome at what you’re doing. Whereas if you’re constantly stretching yourself and working outside your comfort zone and working in areas that are really not your key capability areas, you can do it and you can get better at those things. You definitely can, but it’s not the most efficient use of each individual.

Working in your genius zone is the most efficient use of each individual. Yeah, I like that because it’s quite an interesting. There’s two ways of looking at it.

As you said, you can either double down on your strengths, which is what you’re saying, and just continue to play in that space and be really good at that, or diversifying your skill set and try to broaden your skills across multiple things, when you’ll be average at best, sometimes on multiple things, and maybe you don’t get to use that genius owners frequently. So it’s an interesting challenge where, again, in smaller companies, I think you have to broaden your skill set just by the nature of not having as many people there. But then hopefully as you grow and get more people in your team, you can then respect or double down on your strengths again.

Yeah, that’s true. And I think it’s often the case that the person that should be scaling a business is not the person that should have started it up. They’re very different ways of running a business, different skill sets that you need.

But usually the person who’s the founder or the startup person doesn’t actually acknowledge that, and they don’t understand that scaling is a whole different kettle of fish, and it can cause some problems, especially in tech. I think it’s an interesting conversation. It’s coming up a little bit at the moment in the startup space, where ten years ago there’d be business founders looking for a technical co founder.

So finding the person with the technical chops was the more difficult part for sure. Technology is becoming more easily accessible. There’s no code tools out there and things these days where you can build your technology a lot easier without the bigger challenge, finding that technical co founder.

And now the challenge is for technical founders to find that person who’s got the business development skills. Business development is a big one. Right.

It’s the ability to sell, it’s the ability. You can have a really great piece of software, for example. But how are you actually going to get somebody to pay for this? How are you going to get this in front of somebody’s eyeballs? Yeah, absolutely.

And in our case, we had the tech founder who wanted to find the business person, and that’s how I got involved in the tech build that we’re doing. So it came that direction for us. Interesting space and keen to sort of delve into this a little bit more.

So you founded your company as a consultancy, so working as a service based business, and now you’re spinning a tech startup off the side of that. So I’d be keen to understand sort of what that journey has been like and where you’re at the moment. Yeah, well, I guess in the consulting space, it’s a very privileged situation because you go in and out of businesses all the time and you get to quickly see what’s not working and what is working.

So you can pick up trends, the emergence of kind of key issues across companies. So what we’ve done is leveraged all of that information and we’re building something called Thrivestars. And Thrivestars is a five star organizational rating for organizations across Australia.

So ultimately you’ll be able to search, know, if you go to Cannes and you want a hairdresser and you want a four star hairdresser, you’ll be able to Google it. And that will come your four star hairdresser as an example. So we are measuring five different things for that tech build.

So we’re measuring culture, inclusion, wellbeing, productivity and sustainability. So they’re the five metrics that really deliver organizational prosperity. So the measurement of those five metrics then gets displayed on an executive dashboard so CEOs and leaders can go into their monthly meetings with real time data about how the organization is performing across those five metrics.

Because what the problem is now is you get your culture data, but it’s two years out of date, or you get your engagement survey, but it’s from a year ago, so there’s no access to real time data in terms of organizational performance. So that’s what we’re going to be doing. Right.

Nice. And whereabouts is the build at it? Where’s the journey at, at the moment, I think the tech is about halfway there. Approximately halfway there.

So going through ideation, you’re obviously seeing the opportunity in the market gone through that you built out the fundamentals of it and starting to build out the extra tech platform. Yes. So the companies all have access to this platform.

They can log in and there’ll be ways to measure those five key aspects of the business. Yeah. And so you’ll be able to determine whether you’re a three and a half star business or a two star business.

And of course, use it on all your marketing. You can use it like you would an employer of choice. So if you go to a new city and you’re looking for someone to work for, you would Google, who are all the four star businesses around? Market yourself into those businesses because, you know, they already have the alignment across those five pillars.

Yeah. Nicely. Really looking to become like a standardized approach where there’s a standardized level of recognition that you go looking for a four star and you know what you’re going to get? Five star.

Yeah. And the guy who created the Five star health rating that’s on the side of all the food products in supermarkets is on our team. Got you.

So he’s done it before, successfully. So we’re modeling a lot of what we’re doing off similar kind of stuff that they did with a five star food rating. Yeah.

Beautiful. I love a tech build on the back of scratching your own itch or seeing your own problems that you found from a consultancy. So I’ve worked with a number of startups where they started in the consulting space.

They see an opportunity, they build a solution for the problem that they see, as opposed to just building a product without having a very real problem or knowing that you got very real customers there. Yeah. Well, the problem that we’re solving is in Australia, the GDP is about $1.5

trillion approximately, and we lose about 550,000,000,000 of that every year. So we’re losing almost 40% of our GDP because of poor leadership and poor organizational practices. So that’s the problem that we’re solving, is kissing goodbye 40% of our GDP for reasons that you actually can fix.

Yeah. Cool. When it comes to.

I’m going to just pull this back to my jam in the startup and scale up space as well. Technology, growing technology companies. But we’re talking about leadership and potential loss of GDP for Australia based on poor leadership, poor culture.

If I’m a growing technology company, how early do I start thinking about leadership and culture before anything else? I would say you are a certain type of leader and you will have a culture whether you’re intentional about it or not. So you might as well become intentional about it from day Dot and really start to create the kind of culture that you want to see and that, you know, works really well in a business. If you don’t know about that space, there’s any amount of information and education out there available.

So there’s no excuse to not know. Is there some way you’d point people as a first point of call? The tools that we use are from a company called human Synergistics. So by far and wide, they’re the most reliable and the most sophisticated organizational development tools.

So if you’re wanting to Measure your culture in an organization or measure your leadership style, they’re the tools that you use. Yeah, right. So if you’re looking to build a technology company, you’re obviously writing the code, building the product, understanding the customer, selling to them.

You’d need to do that to get off the ground. But at the same time, you should be starting to think about who are the type of people. Absolutely.

And you can get some feedback about your leadership style right in the early days, so that when you’re starting to build out your team, you can understand what advantages that your leadership style has. And you can also understand what changes you need to make to become a more constructive leader. Yeah, nice.

That’s an interesting space because I think it is something that’s often overlooked and especially in small businesses. Right. There’s always fires to be put out, there’s always new customers to be sold to, there’s always growth.

Everyone’s looking at growth in the startup space. There’s a lot of metrics out there, especially if people are looking for VC money as well and trying to make sure their metrics are lining up or they’re more appealing to the VC market in trying to help acquire the next round of funding. So it’s an interesting space where I think culture and leadership is often overlooked as a high priority to start with.

Yeah, and it’s ironic because it’s culture that sits on top of all of those other metrics. The only thing that you can work on that has an effect on all of those metrics simultaneously is culture, nothing else. Yeah, but you don’t see that on a pitch deck ever, do you? Don’t know, which is really interesting because people are putting out pitch decks and putting out, hey, we’re looking for our next round of funding.

We’ve raised X amount of dollars at this valuation. And I don’t think leadership and culture, often there’s a people page towards the end of a pitch deck which says who their leaders are and maybe what sort of background, but very rarely do you dig into that type of thing. And that can be a true reason for success or failure as well, can also be a reflection on investors lack of understanding around culture as well.

Yeah, I think that the measuring culture part is difficult. Right. Definitely being overlooked.

And the measurement of what does good culture look like, is it just retention rates? Is it happiness scores? What does a good culture look like? Don’t confuse culture and happiness. Yeah, but it’s an interesting space. Right.

I think there’d be a lot of confusion in the market as to what does that look like. Yeah. Well, again, you started off earlier by saying that people is its own technical area, organizational culture is its own technical area.

So that’s what my master’s is in, is organizational development. So that’s my expertise really is culture and leadership. Yeah.

Nice. Keen to touch back on the leadership angle. One of the questions I ask quite frequently on the podcast in around education for technology professions, in particular the importance of education, whether it be formal education through university or other avenues to learn from a learning perspective.

And those really strong leaders that you’ve worked with, is there some commonalities between how they look at education? Is it always a formal education as an MBA? Is there lots of little courses? Is there any commonalities between the strongest leaders that you’ve worked with? No, I wouldn’t say that the method of education has commonalities per se, but I would say that the openness to learn and the willingness to seek out learning and education on leadership is a really important trait for a great leader. There’s a lot of leaders that I’ve coached that are great at doing that, and they seek out podcasts and all sorts of things, articles, books, whatever. And anything that I send them, they just consume.

So they’re leaders that I call instant adopters because you can instantly influence them with whatever it is that you’re sending them. And then there’s other leaders who are just not into that stuff and they don’t seek that kind of thing out. And probably the only reason they’re doing any leadership education is because their organization is paying for it and making them sit through coaching sessions and leadership development workshops.

But aside from that, they wouldn’t self initiate that learning. So the leader who is self initiating is always going to be the better leader. Yeah, you mentioned coaching.

Obviously, that’s the space that you play in, I think it’s another important space and it’s a place, whether it be formal coaching, whether it be mentorship that’s official or unofficial mentors, I think having people that have had a great deal of success often surround themselves with either formal coaching or non formal. Is there again the importance of formal coaching? On the importance of mentorship, do you have thoughts around that? Formal coaching and mentorship are really two quite different things. So a mentor is more someone who might be senior in the same industry and has taken a pathway that you want to take and would be giving you tips for advice, et cetera.

You wouldn’t usually formally engage a mentor, it would be more of an informal type of relationship. Formal coaching is quite different. It’s something that usually your organization pays for on your behalf or you can seek it out as well.

And I think one of the best benefits about coaching is there’s two big benefits. One is that you get someone to listen to you and only you talk about you for a whole session every month. Now, unless you go to therapy or something else, you don’t get that benefit from anywhere else in your life.

So that’s one of the big benefits. And then I think the other big benefit from coaching is because we use feedback tools, we can give some really objective insight into who you are as a leader and what’s really working and what you can do more of and what’s really not working and what you should be doing less of. So you can have some very honest, authentic conversations through a formal coaching relatioNship.

Yeah. Cool. Now it’s an interesting space again.

And I guess a lot of people in their technology careers aren’t a space where I got a business going to invest in their actual formal coaching. But that mentorship can be something that really gets you through those early stages. Looking for mentors that have walked that path before you, seeking them out and trying to get their advice.

Is that the approach that you’ve. Oh, definitely. So I’m part of the venture mentoring program through Newcastle Uni.

So I’m both a mentor for another venture as well as our venture thrive stars being mentored. So that kind of a program is invaluable because it is structured, it’s quite well planned. You can pull in mentors for where you are in your stage of the startup or the tech build, depending on what you need, can source those out.

So that kind of thing can be absolutely invaluable. Yeah, I think having somebody that’s been there and done that before, you might be quite overwhelmed and think the sky is falling down because it’s the first time you’ve gone through a particular situation where somebody’s been there, done that, can really just take that one step back, look at it from a higher perspective, been there, done that before, and be able to guide you through that process. Yeah.

And that can be really reassuring, but it can also be confronting in a good way. And sometimes you really have to look at where you’re heading and decide to make some major changes. Even in the middle of a tech build, as we know.

Yeah, I think the one constant is change through that technology and the technology stack or the actual product vision often changes throughout the process. The more that a business is talking to their customers, understanding the true wants and needs. It’s the whole point of building an MVP.

Right. And then starting to evolve on that. Yeah, absolutely.

And I think, like, any tech build is better, the clearer the scope that you have in the first place, the clearer about what your idea is and what the problem is you’re solving, then the easier the tech is to build. Yeah. Cool.

A lot of tech leaders, I think for people that are growing their careers and looking up to really strong leaders, whether it be in tech or just general business leaders can often put these leaders on a pedestal and think these people haven’t made the mistakes, haven’t gone through that same challenges as them. And obviously, I had some really massive success. The failure that you see these leaders, these top people that are top of their game, the failures they go through and how they deal with that, is there any advice that you’ll give other people that are going through their career? They’re having some challenges.

They might have had a project go south or had a big mess up at work and gone through a failure, and then how to work or learn from that. I go so far as to say there’s not even any such thing as failure. They’re just finding out ways that don’t work.

And if you’ve found out a way that doesn’t work, that’s really cool, because you’ve eliminated something that you’re not going to pursue anymore. So then you’re going to try another way that you think is going to work, and that either works or doesn’t work, then you try another way. So to me, it’s just a process of elimination of ideas until you actually find a track that works.

But modern wisdom is that any kind of failure that you have should stimulate a certain amount of reflection on your behalf. So you should be stepping back, gaining perspective, looking at whatever it was that went wrong or that wasn’t as you expected, and learn from that in some way, and provided you’ve learned a lesson from the failure, then it’s not a failure. Yeah, I just think it’s something can, again, be overwhelming and something that, as you’re growing a career, we can put people on a pedestal.

We can look up to people and think that they’re perfect, when in fact, very often they’re not. No, no one’s perfect. It’s just that some people are more honest about their issues than others.

Yeah, again, that’s a very good point. When it comes to the honesty piece that you just made mention. I think another thing, again, for people that are looking to be successful in their career is looking at a work life balance.

And looking at is there such thing as a work life balance for people that really want to excel in their careers? Can you have a really successful career whilst also maintaining a perfect work life balance? I’d be keen to get your opinion on both your personal. Let’s start with your personal journey, and then we’ll tap into some of the leaders you’ve worked with. But do you think that work life balance is a thing for somebody that is, you’re obviously managing consultancy and a tech startup at the moment.

What does that look like for you? What’s your opinions on work life balance? I’m very opinionated about this topic, so I would call it work life bollocks. I’ve written a blog with the same title before, and I think this constant desire to have balance, because balance technically is 50% of this and 50% of that. Now, I don’t know about your life, but my life doesn’t work that way.

And I don’t see it working that way in anyone else’s lives either. So I’m much more of the view that you have one life and you’ve got this whole range of different priorities, and at any point in time, some of those priorities are more important now, less important in six months time, or your family might be more important now. You might have just had a kid, less important in six months time, et cetera.

So I think you just have to navigate those priorities and pay the most attention to the one that actually is the most important at that time. But I don’t think it gives you this perfect 50 50 kind of outcome as a result of that. No, I completely agree.

100% agree. And I look at three balls. I look at health, family, and then work, as in, they’re the three that I try to juggle all the time.

And I think the way that you’ve just mentioned it, they’re just differing priorities. And I don’t feel like I ever do all three of those well, I think I Do two or three well most of the time, and they’re just different priorities at different points in time. But I really don’t think you can have significant success in your career without being able to invest time into that.

There’s no cheat code around it. I think what it is that’s super important for any successful person are your daily habits, because those things that you bring into yourself, bring into your life on a daily basis. So every day I’m going to move my body.

Every day I’m going to hang out with my family. Every day I’m going to achieve the top three things, whatever it might be. So you’re really bringing those behaviors in on a daily basis rather than just thinking that you might look at them once a month or that they’re not important at all.

So it’s really the daily habits and the discipline of that that gives you the freedom. All right, let’s dig into the habits part. I’m going to come back to work.

Life balance a second. James Clear wrote world famous book Now Atomic Habits. I imagine it’s a favorite of yours.

It is for people, obviously. First recommendation, somebody pick up that book, give it a listen on audible. It’s well famous for a reason.

Super popular for a reason. He talks about actionable steps. But if you were to give somebody based on that hasn’t read that book or based on both that book and your own personal experiences, any advice on starting to build those habits? I think the health and well being habit is the one that facilitates everything else.

So it has to go to the top. In my life, it has to go to the top. If I don’t move every day, I feel it.

If I don’t move every day, I’m grumpy. So I’m not a great partner or a great mum. So whatever it is that you’re doing, you don’t need to measure it.

You don’t need to be great at it. It doesn’t need to be rocket science, but get off your backside and move every single day religiously, whether it’s in the morning, lunchtime, nighttime, whatever it might be. If you miss out on a chance, do your ten minutes yoga at night before you go to bed.

So whatever it is, move, move. So, prioritizing health. Yeah, it’s hard to be really good at work if your health’s not in a good space.

Secondly, but you just mentioned go to bed. There was definitely a movement in the tech scene, and I think in definitely the startup scene of the hustle culture in years gone by and a lack of importance placed on sleep. Do you just put sleep in that health bucket for you? Sleep is the single most important thing in my life.

It’s the highest priority out of everything else. If sleep doesn’t work well, I don’t work well, and it’s not pretty, and I’ve learned that over the years. So it is absolutely my top priority.

I won’t negotiate my sleep for anybody. Yeah, cool. So if I’m hearing it right, prioritize sleep and then look to build some habits, starting with health, and then build on top of that.

Absolutely, yeah. And as far as the hustle culture goes, one of the ways we measure mindset across executives is there’s five different types of mindsets, but the two are driver and thriver mindset. So the driver mindset is the mindset that really drives the hustle and the forcing and the outcomes and achieving the results.

The thriver mindset is the one where you’re moving through life with ease and grace and you’re still getting all those great results even more. But it’s easy. It’s easy to get them because you’re not hustling.

So I would not subscribe to the whole hustle mentality at all. Even though there are times when you’re building a business that require you to focus in that kind of a way, it’s not great and you shouldn’t even be attempting to sustain it. Yeah, I don’t think it’s sustainable, but I think it’s necessary, in my opinion.

Like, I think about the successes I’ve had and all of them have come on the back of hard work. And I think to get to the thriving part where things are coming easier, I don’t think that’s given. Very rarely have I seen anyone have success where things come easy.

From day one, they’ve normally done the work and really put in the hours or put in the grind work to get to a stage where then either they’ve got the team in place or they’ve got systems and processes in place to become more efficient, and then they can thrive on the back of that. But I find it hard to get to that thriving of somebody having genuine success that hasn’t had to put in that grind work at some point in time. Yeah, well, I mean, if you look at it from a mindset point of view, it’s the most evolved mindset that you can have.

So that’s not going to come easily or quickly or overnight, and it won’t come to more than 95% of Australians ever. So it is not the thing that’s easy to attain, but it’s the thing that we all want to be moving toward. Yeah, cool.

No, I agree. And I think that’s tackling, tying that back to that work life balance, because I think the people, again, who I see have a lot of success in their careers are people that don’t actually just sit, work in one bucket, life in the other. They actually get some genuine enjoyment and satisfaction out of their work, that it’s not just a really hard and fast line between work and life.

And I go to work, I finish at 05:00 and then I’m doing the life part. Work parts done. Absolutely.

It’s just all one bucket from my point of view, especially with the people that are having success. Like, if you can find some genuine connection to what you’re actually doing day in, day out, and you actually get satisfaction out of that, then they’re putting in the extra hours, they’re thinking about it after hours. They’re coming up with those ideas.

When you merge that and it all becomes one, I think a lot of people have more success. Yeah, I would entirely agree with that. You mentioned five mindsets just before you mentioned two of them.

What are the other three? So, sufferer, survivor, passenger, driver and thriver. So if you look at sufferer, survivor and passenger, around 75% of Australians are in those three mindsets. Yeah.

Right. And just for a quick overview of each one, sufferer is woe is me victim mentality. The world’s done it to Me.

Lots of complex trauma, unprocessed, unintegrated. Survivor is like you’ve just got the courage to leave a domestic violence relationship. So you’ve taken a step forward, but you’re still in the shit.

Passenger is, you rock up every day, you do the bare minimum and you go home again because all you’re there for is to pay your bills and no other reason. Driver is like your classic professional where you’re pushing, hustling, making outcomes, delivering things, et cetera, and then thriver is the path of ease and grace. Yeah, and that’s where we want to aim to get towards.

And you mentioned it was that only 5% of people actually make it to that thriving. Thrive. Yeah, less than that.

Yeah. Well, if you go back to those people that are the thrivers, the people that are most successful leaders, that you’ve worked with from a personality trait perspective, are there any other things that you really see as commonalities that people could be or should be working on? I think the thing that I’ve seen in common with really exceptional leaders is their desire to build their potential in a very holistic way. So they recognize that they’ve got potential technically, and they build that.

They recognize that they’ve got potential in their health and well being. They build that. They recognize they’ve got potential in their relationships.

So they build that. So they’re looking at their lives from this 360 degree perspective, and they’re really wanting to be the best version of themselves in each of those areas. That’s definitely the key trait of exceptional leaders.

Yeah, right. And leadership. You mentioned it before, and I know we’re digging into that, but it is your area of specialization.

You mentioned a lot of these personality Traits and skills can be learned, and it’s the fact that these people that are having success invest in this and invest in that continual growth. Is that just the commonality? The commonality is the actual desire to continue to learn and continue to be better. Absolutely.

Then all the rest of it comes on top of that. Yes. Everything else comes from that.

Every other leadership variable can be learned or taught or understood. If you’ve got that key trait of wanting to do it in the first place, cool. Continue down this leadership route and the team part, technology companies that continue to innovate tend to be the ones that are having a lot of success.

So the world we move in moves very quickly. There’s a rise of new tools all the time. Current trends in and around that AI space.

I think last year it was blockchain NFTs. This year it’s AI. And it’ll continue to evolve, obviously.

But for leaders that are trying to create a culture of innovation, for a company that continues to innovate, that encourages that within their team. Again, are there common traits? Are there things that leaders should be looking to do to embrace that innovation and foster that culture? Yeah, absolutely. So Google did a really interesting project, I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it, Project Aristotle, and was a few years ago now, and they looked at the top traits of their high performing teams and they came up with five top traits.

But the one that’s at the top is the one that’s most relevant to your question you’ve just asked, and that is, how do we create psychological safety in the team? So if you have psychological safety in the team, then the person who has the weird wacky idea feels completely safe to air their weird wacky idea. And it turns out that could be the next million dollar idea. But if they didn’t feel safe in that environment to actually open up and air that idea, well then there’s a million dollars revenue that you don’t have.

So your ability as a leader to create a psychologically safe space where people feel like they’re not threatened and they can literally say what they need to say and you’ll still be all friends afterwards and go for a beer together. That’s the single most important thing of a high performing team. Yeah, right.

I’ve heard similar things before as well. How do you go about creating that culture of psychological safety? I think the biggest thing is to get to know people in your team as well as you possibly can. Like circling back to what we said earlier in the podcast is about really having those one on ones with people understanding what their life is about, what’s difficult for them, what’s working for them, what opportunities they want.

The more you understand your team, the better placed you are as a leader to be able to provide those connections and opportunities. Yeah, cool. Nice.

You’re obviously managing consultancy company yourself whilst consulting yourself, whilst also leading. While mentoring through the mentorship program whilst also being mentored and growing a startup. How do you manage this from a day to day perspective? You mentioned habits before.

Is there a lot of habits together? Is there any productivity tools that you use or that you subscribe to? I’m really interested to sort of understand how you manage this because I think that’s one of the keys for people being successful is managing multiple priorities. So I’m religious about my daily habits, so I don’t negotiate those for anyone. What are they like? So my daily habits are some kind of movement every day, meditation every day, mindset work, whether it’s listening to a podcast or reading a book or whatever, and some kind of sales activity every day.

So they’re my things that I do every single day and then from there. So I don’t believe in a to do list. I don’t ever use a to do list.

If there’s something that I need to achieve, it goes straight into my calendar with a time slot allocated to it. If I need to change it, I’ll shift it out and change it to another day. But what I found is I used to use a to do list and it was really inefficient because all it did is made me feel bad at the end of the day when I hadn’t got everything done on the list.

So now I make sure everything has its own time slot and it’s 1000 times better to do it that way. Beautiful. You mentioned sales just before.

Think it’s no different for a consultancy company, a tech startup, tech company, a startup, a scale up, any business that’s trying to get off the ground and grow. You weren’t a salesperson. You came from more of the HR background.

And now obviously is it sales? A learned skill? Is it something you just reps in the bank and you’ve got better and better at? How have you prioritized and grown your skills in around sales? I was really crap at sales when I first started and I had to just practice. So part of it’s been practice, but also I’ve been very clear about the kind of salesperson that I want to be. So I’m a real low key salesperson and it’ll just be chatting and building relationships and someone says they need something and I go okay, great, we’ve got that.

How about it? And so I just let things sell themselves very naturally in a relationship based site sales kind of mentality. What I never wanted to be is like a used car salesman or a person that follows up 100 times every month or that’s not my style at all. And in my experience it’s not what people want or what they’re looking for.

They want people to partner with them, to be there if they need the right advice, if they need the right offering that you might have at that time, they don’t need to be annoyed by you. Agreed? Yeah. The sales part, I just think it’s a really good takeaway for a lot of people that are trying to build technology startup or even just sales internally.

If you’re in technology, being able to sell your project or your idea internally, and it might not being selling to a customer, but selling internally to your stakeholders or higher ups within the business that you’re going to need bested in your other project, your ideas or whatever you’re working on. Well you got to remember that you’re selling at night when you tried to get your kids to eat their vegetables at dinner time, you’re selling. Right.

So everything that you’re doing all day, every day, nearly every conversation that you have is some kind of influencing or sales based conversation. So when you can understand that, then you can go, oh, I actually can do this so I can get good at this. So it takes away the mystery of sales and the kind of some people can do it and some people can’t.

Sort of elements to it. No, I agree. So I think when you realize you’re doing it all day, every day anyway, and you just start to leverage off your style, then that’s what works.

Yeah. Just the ability to influence is something that I think would be one of the most important skills for anyone to learn. Absolutely.

Yeah, I like it. All right, so to do lists are out, prioritizing, things in, your calendars are in habit building. These are the things sort of you structure your days on.

Absolutely. Yeah. You mentioned one other thing there.

You mentioned meditation. I think if we talk about trends before with blockchain and IR, meditation has definitely had its heyday and still is popular. For people that never tried meditation or have tried meditation and failed, is there any advice you would give people? Yes.

There’s no right and wrong way to meditate. So don’t buy into any of this stuff that says you must do it this way or you must do it for this amount of time, or you must do it in this particular modality. None of that’s true.

So there’s no right or wrong way is the first thing. So you can’t stuff it up. So go into it with the confidence that you’re going to give it a red hot crack and go.

The other thing is, if you’ve tried meditation for anything less than a month and stopped, you haven’t tried it. You haven’t given it a red hot crack and go. Because to give something a red hot crack and go, you need to do it for at least a month to get the habit ritual part behind it.

And to experience the benefits of meditation, you need to have it for about a month before you’re starting to get the benefits of meditation as well. There’s two main ways to do it. You can do what they call a guided meditation, which is someone talking you through a process.

I prefer to do it that way. You can do a silent meditation or a moving meditation when you go for your run in the morning, it can be a meditation. You’d be sitting on the beach.

You can do it anywhere. It’s free. And it’s like the best secret pill that you’ve ever had.

Yeah, I like it. Something I’ve tried and failed at many of times. So if people are interested in the five star reviews that everyone’s seen on food and trying to understand how that may work for businesses understanding more of that journey, how do they find out? A little bit more information.

How far away are you being built? Are we raising money? Where are we at with that? So you can just jump onto thrivestars.com dot au to find out all the technical stuff behind it. We are crowdfunding at the moment for our tech platform to be built and our goal is to raise 100K by December.

Cool. We’ll link that up in our show notes for people that are interested in finding out a little bit more about leadership or understanding. Picking your brain on things in around leadership and culture.

Where do people find you? Pretty much any of the social platforms just beingmorehuman.com au beautiful. Thank you for your time today.

Michelle thank you. Pleasure.


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