Transcript: How to use Vulnerability to Connect with Your Team

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Mitch Simon 0:10
Welcome to another episode of team anywhere where CEOs, leaders and experts at building teams, companies, organizations, and amazing cultures

Ginny Bianco-Mathis 0:22
share how to lead from anywhere in the world. I’m your co host on the east coast. juden Bianca Mathis, and

Mitch Simon 0:28
I’m your co host on the West Coast, Mitch Simon. And we invite you to join us team anywhere.

Today on Team anywhere we interview Mike Robbins, who recently published we’re all in this together, Mike has a truly remarkable way to connect us emotionally to what we’re all going through at work and at home during this pandemic, and provokes us to utilize this once in a lifetime opportunity to discover who we truly are. By taking risks to show up more vulnerable and authentic, we can better connect to ourselves and the people we love and work with. Hello, and welcome to another episode of team anywhere with Mitch Simon on the west coast and Jimmy Mathis on the east coast. And we are so excited today. We’re really excited to bring you Mike Robbins. Mike Robbins is the author of five books, including his brand new title, we’re all in this together creating a team culture of high performance, trust, and belonging. For the past 20 years, he’s been a sought after speaker and consultant who delivers keynotes and seminars for some of the top organizations in the world. His clients include Google, Wells, Fargo, Microsoft, Genentech, eBay, Harvard University, gap, LinkedIn, the Oakland A’s, and many others. Now, I personally have been an avid listener to his podcast, we’re all in this together, I think from the very beginning. And and I’ve already shared with him, I turn to his book, we’re all in this together whenever I do any culture work with my team. So Gosh, welcome Mike Robbins, we’re so excited to have you on the podcast.

Unknown Speaker 2:16
Well, thanks for having me. Thanks for having me. It’s great to be with both of you. And everybody listening, I appreciate it.

Mitch Simon 2:22
Great, great. And so just for some context, Mike and I met about five or six years back at a an event for commercial real estate, Mike just happens to work with a company that that competes with one of the companies I work with. And so it’s just it’s just really great to reconnect after all these years. So the first question that I got to ask is, you know, tell us a little bit about your book, we’re all in this together. And could you ever have have imagined that just days after you publish this book, we would be in the situation that we’re, that we are in today?

Unknown Speaker 3:00
Not at all, Mitch, you know, I mean, this is my fifth book. And what’s interesting, a little bit of the backstory, so I wrote a book that came out a couple years ago called bring your whole self to work came out in 2018. And I love the work that I do, I’m grateful to do it. I’ve been doing it for 20 years. I don’t love to write, it’s not my favorite thing. And writing books is quite an undertaking, the whole process of writing it and editing it and then publishing it, and then promoting it and all that. So usually, when I’m done with a book, like when I finished, bring your whole self to work, I was like, I’m good. I’m done for a few years, my wife and I and our girls were like, yeah, you’re done no more. That was a lot, right. But like three weeks after the book came out, I had this really strong download is the only way I can describe it like, and it just wouldn’t leave me alone. It’s like, you have to read another book, it has to come out in 2020. And it’s called, we’re all in this together. And if you didn’t see me walking down the street, you would have thought it was a crazy person, because I was like looking up in the sky, like leave me alone, wherever this idea was coming from, like, I don’t want it. I do not want this, like I’m not available. I’m not open, I’m not interested. I was scared to even tell Michelle my wife because I knew what she was gonna say, No, you’re not writing another book, I was scared to tell my team because they were like, No, you turn into kind of a crazy person when you’re reading a book. Let’s not do that. But it wouldn’t leave me alone. And after a few weeks, I finally just started write a few things down. And then I shared it. And everyone around me it was like, don’t do it. Because you know, just all of what goes into it. But I was like, I have to write this book. And then I pitched it to my agent. And they we pitched it to our publisher, and everybody was interested, although nobody wanted the title. They said, Oh, we like the book. We like the idea because it was basically the fifth principle in my book, bring yourself to work is create a championship team, which is with my sports background. It’s a lot of what I talked about in the context of teams and performing and they were like, just call it create a championship team. And I was like, no, it has to be called. We’re all in this together. And I’d never said this before. And I’m not usually this way. But I was like if we’re not going to use this title. I’m not going to write this book.

Ginny Bianco-Mathis 4:57
Right. I’ve been there. Yeah, right. Right, I hear that.

Unknown Speaker 5:01
But I, you know, I’ve worked with the publisher on a few books. And they were like, okay, fine, Mike. Okay, fine. And I was like, because that phrase to me is so much about it encapsulates so much of what I’ve studied and the work that I’ve done for the last 20 years. And you, you guys know this from the work that you do, it’s like teams, and cultures were people really thrive. There is that sense of like, we don’t all have to be best friends. And it’s not all perfect and harmonious all the time. But we’re in this thing together. And there was also a secondary reason why, just given how divisive things have become in our country, and in our world, I felt like I want to put a book out in 2020, and a presidential election year here in the United States, where we’re talking about how do we find common ground with each other now, I finished writing the book at the end of 2019. And it was done. And then the book comes out literally right, as we’re going into the pandemic, and everyone is using the phrase like I’m getting text from, hey, the president just said the title of your book, Hey, I just heard it on the news, Hamlin, because this notion of, we’re in this thing together, like when we’re facing something so enormous. We just intuitively know we’re not going to get through this thing individually, we’re going to have to figure out how to socially distant but metaphorically lock arms and make our way through it. So it’s been kind of a surreal experience, I think, for all of us over this last, you know, bit of time through this year. But having a book come out this year, called we’re all in this together has been interesting, exciting, bizarre, unique. I don’t know, I’m not what I not what I expected when, you know, my team and I were sitting around making goals for 2020.

Ginny Bianco-Mathis 6:39
Yeah, that’s a fabulous story.

Mitch Simon 6:42
Yeah, it’s pretty it is pretty pathetic. That, you know, it was 100 years, it had been 100 years since every single person on the planet, because when you said all, Mike, you were not kidding. It was all it was everybody. Yeah. And to it was just prophetic. Yeah. Not that you know, that you wanted something like

Unknown Speaker 7:02
no, yeah, of course, not at all. But I think again, sometimes it’s also about, I think, you know, two things, I think, as listening to ourselves, that that inner voice that we get sometimes that look, if I’m really honest, I don’t always listen to it, I don’t think I’ll you know, but to listen to when we get a message from somewhere, you know, a dream, I don’t know, just an intuition. But the other part of it is that, you know, this weird dynamic that we’re in right now, still where it’s like, we’re all in this same storm, the same experience, but we’re in different boats going through the experience. And that’s really important, I think, for leaders and for teams to understand is how do we have this universal experience, which we do always, by the way, being human. And we also have this unique, diverse experience of what’s going on in our own lives, or within the small, you know, team that we’re a part of, in context of the larger team or large organization that we may be operating within?

Mitch Simon 8:03
Yeah, so so you know, what I love about your podcast a little bit your books is, is the authenticity that you bring to the podcast. I mean, many of your podcast is just you, and you’re just basically sharing of yourself, which is, you know, I was talking to a friend the other day, and it’s like, God, I want to be more like that. Like, Mike, on one of your podcasts you were talking about it was the you were talking about the Bernie Brown, and the doctor Academy with Dr. Vivek, I think right, right about loneliness, not learning as well as we could just go, we could go on stream. Oh, my goodness. And I was saying, and of course, like, I, I, as soon as I finished listen to your pockets, I had to go listen to Rene Brown. And I was just thinking, God, if I could just be one 10th that authentic of these two men, you know, Rene brown already, but YouTube guys. So I want to know, how is this pandemic caused you to be more authentic with yourself? with your family? I feel like I know your family wife, Michelle, and your daughters, Samantha and Rosie because we hear about them every single week on the podcast, you know, and in how is it cause you to be more authentic with your audience, if that’s even possible for microbes to be more authentic?

Unknown Speaker 9:13
Well, listen, first of all, thank you for listening to my podcasts. You know, it’s funny, I mean, I’m sitting here in my office where I record my own podcast. And one of the things that you should know I mean, I do interviews from time to time, although I’ve been doing less for a number of reasons. But part of the podcast process for me Just so you know, and I say this a lot too, is it’s helped to help manage my own mental and emotional well being exactly right. Like I’m, I’m sort of processing I’m a verbal processor to begin with. And I’m also I’m an extrovert. So the pandemic has been really hard for me as it has for a lot of us because I’m missing, being with people. I’m missing, engaging and interacting and communicating with people. So I’ve been using the podcast and I think what I’ve learned over the years, and I’m sure both of you can relate to this too is the more personal I’ve always been somebody for whatever reason is just willing to share what’s going on inside of me. But the more personal the more universal. So like, I feel like without sounding grandiose or or self important, if I’m feeling something, I’m probably not the only one. You know, and this goes way back to when I was a kid and sitting in class in school, and I would be sitting there and thinking, first of all, is anybody else not understanding what they’re talking about? Like, right? Am I the only one and I’d raise my hand, I don’t get it. And I just was that kind of kid. But I also was like, why are we talking about this? Whatever we were talking about the Pythagorean Theorem, or something that I found boring? Why aren’t we talking about like, what’s going on inside? Because Am I the only crazy person that’s like having all these thoughts and feelings and doubts and fears. And so one of my ways to manage that for myself even way back then was to talk about it. And when I would talk about I would find, I would feel more liberated, it’s not stuck in my head. And usually people would go, Wow, you feel like that, I feel like that. And then we would get to have a deeper conversation. So all the way back around to your great question of the pandemic. I don’t know that the pandemic has necessarily changed my authenticity, per se. But I think what it’s done like it’s done for a lot of us, it’s it’s slowed me down in certain ways. And it’s had me Look at how often I was running around, I love my work, but running around the country in the world speaking and doing all the things that I do, and not really allowing myself to slow down enough to really check in with, how am I actually doing? And how am I actually feeling nmi? in touch with that? And am I really connecting with the people closest to me, like in my own house, to see how they’re actually doing? So I

Ginny Bianco-Mathis 11:45
think that, as you said, you’re just sharing that, for example, others can nod their heads and resonate, because we have been given almost like this moment, right. space. And of reflection. Yeah. And for me, it’s exciting. I’m even more I feel now even more connected with people. Yeah. Because even with zoom, right? Is, is I can look, right, dude, it in the eye? Look at me, look.

Unknown Speaker 12:21
Right, right? I know what it is. It’s not interesting journey. It’s like it’s kind of a paradox. On the one hand, we’re more disconnected, we don’t see each other. We’re not shaking hands and hugging and high, fiving. And right, which I’m missing a lot I think a lot of us are. And on the other hand, there’s this weird way that we’re like zooming into people’s living rooms and dining rooms, and spare bedrooms and offices, and there’s like dogs in the background and babies. And you know, I mean, it’s just this weird thing where it’s like, oh, you know, I mean, and I don’t know about prior to this, I actually didn’t love zoom, or Skype or any of the video platforms. Like for some reason. It just annoyed me, I felt like I had to be on and I didn’t want to be and I’d rather just be on the phone when I’m in my office. And some of it was just selfish. Like, I want to be in my sweats and my ballcap. And I didn’t write. But now, I actually even though there is definitely zoom fatigue. And I, you know, back to back to back zoom meetings, I get tired like everybody else. But I do appreciate being able, like, think of Imagine if we were going through this pandemic, in the 70s. Oh, right God, or 100 years ago, when we had the last pandemic, it’s like, what would we do? We’d like write each other letters, or I don’t know, I mean, the 70s, I guess we could at least, we could at least talk on the phone. And as much as the technology does have its limitations. It’s really extraordinary. The things that we can do, and at the scale, we can do them. And like a lot of I’m sure you’re talking to a lot of teams and leaders about this. What it’s going to look like on the other side of this is going to be fascinating, because when we have a choice, I think we’ll definitely choose to get together in person for certain things, because you can’t recreate that. But I think there’ll be other things will go well, why don’t we just get on zoom and do it? Because what the heck do we all really need to get on an airplane and fly to the thing and talk about the thing when we could just do it more efficiently this way. So it’ll be a mixed bag. But I do think it’s it’s pretty amazing to your point, Jenny, that we can actually get connected to each other in a deeper way, in this environment.

Mitch Simon 14:14
So that begs Another question is, you know, you always everyone’s asking, you know, well, when this is over, right, we just go back to the way we were before. I’m wondering, in your experience with your work with leaders is to two part question. Are you seeing leaders dig down and dig deep and dig into this opportunity to be real because we all are in the same exact place? I mean, we’re, we’re not we’re No, we’re in different boats, but we’re all in it. We’re all in this together part. Yeah, we are all in this place of it’s confusing. It’s murky. It’s, it’s it makes me anxious and nervous. Let’s just start Do you see them taking opportunity to use that for authenticity and connection? And if you’re not seeing that, what would you? How would you provoke the leaders that you work with on your podcast and our podcasts to take this opportunity to to really create that connection, which really will drive? The type of leadership that we’re looking for all over the world?

Unknown Speaker 15:25
It’s a great question. I think the answer is yes. And no, I mean, I kind of feel like this pandemic, like a lot of things, right? Most people aren’t staying the same. It’s changing in one way, like, I’ll use it as a metaphor or an example. And I fall into the category of like, I haven’t taken as good care of myself physically, during the pandemic, as I would have liked, I’ve put on some weight, my if you’d have told me, Hey, Mike, you’re gonna be home for seven months straight, eight months straight, no travel, I would be like, Oh, I’d be an awesome shape and a great routine, I’d be eating really well. And I’d be sleeping awesome. And meditating all the time working out. And that has not been the case for me. And and the vast majority people I talk to, that’s not been the case, although I there are a handful of people, and you probably know a few who are like, Oh, my gosh, I’m so dialed in, like, I’ve just been great. And I’m really healthy. And I’m doing and you’re like, Wow, good for you. Even though you know, I get a little jealous when I hear that. But it doesn’t seem like anybody’s like I’m exactly the same as I was, you know what I mean it and I would say, well, it’s probably not quite as extreme in terms of the numbers. The same is true for leaders. This is either caused leaders that I’ve worked with to go much deeper in their authenticity, or it’s had the opposite effect, if that makes sense. Like, and I and sometimes it’s a bit of both, because I feel for a lot of people, myself included. It’s it’s challenging, because there does seem to be, especially depending on the industry, so much work and so much expectation and things are taking longer. And we have to spend more time in meetings and communicating. And if I’ll talk to leaders, I’m on zoom all day, all day, all day, I’m trying to like get work done. And then my kids are coming in and I got to help them with their homework. And you know, my spouse is going crazy. And they just like there’s so much happening, that they don’t think it’s a conscious decision. You know what, I’m going to be less authentic. It’s like, I don’t know, when I don’t know how I don’t, right. And so all of that to say I just think it This has fundamentally changed the way we operate. And we’re still in the middle of it, which is hard, because it’s like one thing to pace yourself for something. Okay? I mean, even something like that. One of the ways I related to this, in the beginning stages was like, as a former athlete, right, I played baseball all those years, I went through a series of injuries to my arm and surgeries, and getting injured in sports sucks, like, it’s not fun. Because you can’t play that then you literally have to just wait. All you can do is wait and then do the rehab. And like if you have a major injury, but one thing they do give you though, is a timeline. So you’re going to be injured, you’re going to be out for three weeks or six weeks. And you can in most competitive athletes, like I’m going to come back faster. But at least there’s a parameter that you know, I’m going to do this, this, this, this and this, and then eventually I’m going to get back to play.

Unknown Speaker 18:07
And it’s a really long rehab process that can be arduous and challenging. But you sort of know their stages of it. And you have people coaching you through something like a pandemic, which none of us have ever been through. We don’t know what the heck this means and how long it lasts. And when we get back to some semblance. Right. And that makes it hard because it’s like, I remember what we thought in the beginning, oh, like, three weeks, four weeks, we’ll stay home, it’ll go away, then we’ll get back. Right? And it’s like, now Are you kidding? And it’s still like, are we in the middle or the like the beginning middle, the end middle? The I don’t know what part of the middle. And it’s, it’s it’s hard to pace ourselves and to know, how much longer it’s going to take does that make sense. And I think that’s more of a mental game than anything else. Some of it is like, you know, we’re all having to use certain aspects of survival skills that we have, right. And, and again, I think of Maslow’s Hierarchy a lot. It’s like we’re on multiple levels, but definitely the base level of just physiological and safety needs. And then as we can move along to sort of belonging and esteem and self actualization, it’s hard to be in a place of self actualization or real sort of growth and development when we’re scared about you know, survival. And and I think of my friend, Chip Conley wrote a book many years ago called peak where he basically talked about using Maslow’s hierarchy in business and he kind of broke down the sort of five different levels of Maslow but put it into three, four businesses. It’s like, survival, success and transformation. And most businesses, especially during this pandemic, have to be and be focused on survival, at least at the beginning. And just in general, are we going to survive? Can we make it through? Do we have to downsize right size change things? You know, if you can get to a place of success, hey, we’re doing okay, we’re able to make it through this. And then there are some that can be in that place of transformation, but that that’s really a privilege and a blessing to be able to be In that place. And so the other thing though, that back to what we were talking about in terms of leaders being authentic or not, during this time, I do also think it’s been a bit of an equalizer from the standpoint of, you know, the CEO of the company, the senior vice president of this of that, or whatever he or she is used to sort of being up on stage at the big all hands meeting and doing the thing and, and now we’re like all just kind of sitting in our you know, maybe some people have a little better setup and a nicer little zoom background. And but in general, we’re just little like Brady Bunch images on the screen during the meeting, and everyone’s kind of in the same boat. And, you know, a number of years ago, I talked to Karen Mae, who was the head of learning and development at Google. And she said something really interesting to me, this was pre pandemic, but they deal with at Google, like a lot of big, you know, global companies. She works in the Mountain View headquarters, sort of where Google’s headquartered, and if you have a team where some of the majority of your people are sort of in one location, like the headquarters, and then people are out in sort of satellite offices, or, you know, regional offices or whatever, the people out in those places often feel like, Hey, we’re out of the loop, we missed the conversation. We’re not in the room, you know, back in the old days, it was like you were calling in on the on the conference line, and nobody was talking to you and whatever. She said, she used to have her team purposefully, everyone would join the meeting remotely. Yes. So that everyone, so it was a level playing field. And when she said that, I remember think, oh, what a great way to think about managing a team where you have some people in different locations, what’s happened with all of us is what Karen was saying she did with her team. In those days, we’ve all been forced into that situation where now, even if we all live in the same geographic location, the only way we can connect is via zoom, or Skype, or Microsoft Teams, or whatever the platform is. And in some ways that has leveled the playing field. And for some leaders, I’ve seen them be able to embrace that and say, I just have to be a human being with my team, you know, the videos that the CEO sends out, sitting in his, you know, or her dining room with the dog sitting next or whatever, like, hey, how’s everybody doing? I’m here in my shorts and my flip flops, and it’s kind of like, oh, like, they’re just like a normal human like the rest of us. I think that has been beneficial in lots of ways.

Ginny Bianco-Mathis 22:05
Exactly. And actually, you the tip of the iceberg, there is the person or the leader who has not been able to do that, right? See, this equalisation is almost stripping them of their identity.

Unknown Speaker 22:20
It’s true. It’s true. It’s a threat, right, in that case. And and I think that becomes something again, we can take a look at, and so many different things that are happening in our country and in our world. So many reckonings that have been going on for the last number of years, in particular, that we have to stop and go, Oh, hmm. You know, this notion of servant leadership, this notion of really being, you know, yes, I have a certain role that I play, which is important. But I’m a human being with all these other human beings. And how do we connect like that?

Mitch Simon 22:51
You mentioned, you mentioned, Mike, you know, we’re at or at threat or we think Rhett threat. And usually what happens when we’re at threat is we, you know, just cling on to what we’ve had, or what we’ve got. And, and I wanted to, you know, to ask you and ask you as well to provoke, you know, the leaders out there who are still hanging on because you and I, we we only have a crystal ball. And, you know, I’ve been telling my clients, the earliest I think we’re going to ever go back to an office, maybe sometimes maybe, would most likely be, you know, the last quarter of next year. I’m just kind of prepping them. Right. So it’s, it’s, you know, you know, and if this is, let’s say, the beginning, you know, you know, we just got injured in March, we’re back in the game. You know, God willing, who knows? I wanted to I wanted to prompt this, this question, I want to ask you personally, what risks Have you taken, given this pandemic? Like, what what things have you done that you probably would not have done but for the pandemic, and use that maybe as a as a as a as leverage to, to challenge others out there to take those equal or greater risks? So what what have you done, that you just would not have done had been had it not been for this pandemic?

Unknown Speaker 24:08
Well, I mean, I think, you know, for me, I mean, the the primary things that that I do and have done for the last 20 years, you know, I mean, Mitch, like where you and I met at that event years ago, I speak right. So I go out and speak at events. And I mean, I remember in the early days, I think it was Facebook, or maybe it was Google, they came out with a thing and said, we’re not going to have any meetings of over 50 people until June of 2021. And I you had to pick me up off the floor when I read that because this was like in you know, late March, early April, and I’m thinking, like, my life, my business is over. There’s nothing like, that’s what I do. I mean, yeah, I write books, and I might have my podcast and all these other things that I do, but in terms of really reaching people and ultimately just making money, like that’s the primary way. So I went through a period in March and April with myself and my own team that I freaked out like I think a lot of people did and said, Okay, look, I don’t know this business might go away, and The next six months, there might be nothing left. But what can we do? And so what I decided to do at that time was, I’m going to look at all these different platforms that we have, you know, social media, the podcast, you know, videos and things. And, and and what can I, what do I feel like I have to say, and to share that could be helpful and useful in this time? How can I be of service to humans? And then specifically, with teams and leaders in the organizations, a lot of our clients? Can I reach out to them? First and foremost, because a lot of them have become friends of mine, and people that I know and care about? And just like, how are you doing? You know, and that was kind of, I mean, this isn’t exactly about taking risks. But this was more just about how I handled my own fear and terror. And just, and then it was like, Okay, if you had told me seven or eight months ago, that I would be sitting or at times I have, I will prop my computer up and stand here in my office, because I have more energy when I’m, but I’m delivering these virtual presentations, sometimes to 20 people, 50 people, 100 people sometimes to like, I’ve done a couple where there’s been like 10,000 15,000 people who are, which is kind of crazy. But I’m still just standing here in my office, looking at the little green light on my computer, like anybody out there, and I’m seeing comments come in through the chat, but I don’t really know. But if you did told me like, that’s how this is gonna go. Eight months ago, I would have said, I can’t do that. I don’t know how to do that. I mean, the way I’ve described this experience for me personally, as a speaker as a communicator, is, you know, I was a left handed pitcher when I played baseball. And I was pretty good at it. I liked it. I did it for a long time, I ended up you know, getting injured, which ended up ending my career. But it’s like, this still feels like baseball. To me, that’s the game, the same game, the same rules, I know. But instead of pitching with my left hand, I’ve been asked to pitch with my right hand. And I’m like, I’m not very good at pitching right handed. So it’s been awkward and uncomfortable. And weird at times, I feel like I’ve gotten better at the virtual thing. But as far as the risks go, it’s just Can I then translate what I do and how I do it in a virtual environment. And the truth is not exactly, but amazingly, more than I would have thought. So I just kept saying to myself, and even to what you said earlier, which I appreciated about my podcast, just like my mantra to myself was literally Mike, just keep being yourself. Just keep being yourself. Just keep being yourself, like, Don’t try to do something or be someone that you’re not because the earth shifted underneath your feet, if that makes sense. So I think taking risks is about doing things differently. And we all have been forced to do that. But I think the core of who we are, whether it’s personally, or even our business, like we have to be in touch with what’s the core? And and what are the sort of foundational values of who we are and what we do. And yeah, we can transform and we can innovate, and we can scale and we can change, and we can you know, pivot is the word of 2020. Right? Yeah. But not pivot away from who we are and what we are at our core.

Unknown Speaker 28:01
So that needs towards it.

Unknown Speaker 28:02
Exactly, exactly. I mean, so the what changes, but not the why. You know what I mean? And so that’s to me, I think the biggest thing and look, you know, it what, also just while we’re talking about it, I mean, I ended up we invested a ton into the business last fall, and early this year, we had a new book coming out, we expanded the team, we had some stuff going and it just happened to be like a lot of people the timing was terrible. A lot of those investments, I might as well just let that money on fire. You know, I mean, it was like, Yeah, I didn’t know. But like, I didn’t know, I thought maybe the economy would slow down this year a little bit, I did not think we would end up in a global pandemic where we would all be, you know, locked at home. But again, I look at that, from a business owner standpoint, and from an entrepreneur standpoint is like, Okay, well, lots of good lessons learned in that experience. Do I have some regrets and disappointments? Sure, like everybody, but, you know, what are you gonna do? It’s like, you know, my mom used to always use that phrase growing up, you can’t cry over spilled milk. And it’s like, kind of kind of true. You know, they’re cliche. cliches, are cliches for a reason.

Mitch Simon 29:05
You know, you know, like, what I what I love about what you said is, you know, I asked you the question about risk, and you’re answering it as, as the this is the time to really go into, you know, who are you at your core? Yeah. And it’s, it’s, it’s, you know, it’s funny, when I at the beginning, the beginning of this, I was saying, you know, when was the last time your boss ever told you, you know, you need to leave the office. You spend a couple days out there. You go through this transformation project, and then when you come back, you’ll be big, you’ll be bigger. So yeah, this pandemic is like a two year leadership retreat. It totally is.

Ginny Bianco-Mathis 29:40
That Mitch,

Unknown Speaker 29:42
well, and you know, what else is as you’re saying that I just flashed to something I remember hearing this was probably seven, eight years ago, I was at one of the annual wisdom 2.0 conferences in San Francisco, which I love and it’s right now. I’ve had the honor of speaking out a few times and have attended for many years and Bill Ford the either grant A great grandson of Henry Ford, who was the CEO of Ford Motor Company, and then was chairman of the board was talking about being at Ford. And I don’t know if he was CEO, or if he was chairman at the time, I think he was CEO during the recession. And when it looked like the auto industry in Ford specifically was going to go under. And he talked in a very beautiful, vulnerable, authentic way about how hard that was now scary that was. And he was like, literally part of this legacy family, this great American brand, this company that employed, you know, thousands and thousands of people that was potentially going to go under, under his watch. And he said, so I was having to grapple with the fact that the company might go under, all these people that I’ve known for all these years, would lose their jobs would lose their livelihoods. And I would be the person in charge when this ship sank. So you know, we’re all sitting there, like, he’s like, but I, as I grappled with that, and it was hard to sleep, and we were laying people off, and it was awful. He said, I finally got to a place he was talking about his own personal meditation practice. And how it was really important for him to get up early every morning, even though I wasn’t sleeping well to practice, and to sit and to try to make some peace. And he said, I finally got to a place where I knew I did not want this to happen. I was doing everything in my power to make sure it did not happen. But if it did, I was going to be okay. Like the human being me, like the people who love me would still love me. I would you know, and and he wasn’t saying it in some arrogant, privileged, kind of like, I don’t care about anybody, I’ll be fine. You know what I mean? But he said, there was me listening that thinking, wow, like, I can’t even imagine what that pressure must have been like, or, and I think about this, sometimes when I just see people publicly fail miserably, whether it’s in sports, or business, or the arts, or whatever. And it’s like, what does it take for a human being to go through that kind of experience in all of us in our lives, whether it’s public or not, have gone through tragedies and losses, and disappointments and things and in some cases, really, really painfully. And we’ve made it through. And so I think that’s something for me, I know, going into this pandemic, one of the things when I really got to that place where like, Oh, my gosh, 20 years of doing this work that I love, it could go away almost overnight. And there might not be anything I can do about it. But you know what, I’ve been through some tragedies in my life, and they weren’t fun, and they weren’t easy. And I didn’t like them. But I survived. And if that’s what happens here, I hope it doesn’t. I think I’m gonna be okay. And that was part of, you know, and I’ve been, I was saying that it’s still to this day saying that to people, it’s like, I did a podcast episode on this and wrote something about it. But a friend of mine, my friend Theo said to me, at one point A number of years ago, when I was going through a really tough time, like he said, Mike, you have more than this requires, hmm. And I think that’s true for all of us all the time, no matter how big the challenge is, no matter how weak we might feel in that moment. And so much of what leadership is about real leadership, is about getting that in those moments, when we’re not sure. I have more than this requires and then embodying that in an authentic way to not be the leader in some performative way. But to inspire the people around us, you have more than this requires, we have more than this requires, we’re going to figure this out one way or the other.

Ginny Bianco-Mathis 33:20
And that gets back to the title

Unknown Speaker 33:21
of your book, right? We’re in this thing together. Now, by the way, that does not mean we’re gonna win. Everyone’s gonna keep their job, everything’s gonna be awesome. You’re gonna make a ton of money. It No, no, you know what? There’s no guarantee of that. Right? Like, it’s, it’s like, a something that someone said to me years ago, I mentor said, Mike, you’re living your life as though you’re trying to survive it. And I said, Yes. Oh, he said, You have to remember something really important. I said, What’s that? He said, Nobody ever has it, right. And it’s like, Look, we all know where this thing ultimately ends. And without being morbid about it, or too melodramatic. It’s like, we’re not getting out of this thing alive. So it really is about how we show up. And even in the midst of a crisis, even in the midst of a pandemic, even in the midst of difficulty or challenge or loss. It’s like, you know, I’ve been saying this to my daughters during this, and they’ve been rolling their eyes at me, because they’re 14 and 12. And that’s what they do, but do right, but but I’ve been saying, you know, girls, pay attention right now, because you’re going to be telling this story for the rest of your lives.

Mitch Simon 34:23
So what’s the story you want to tell when this is all over? And you know, to me, Mike, this the title of your book, we’re all in this together to me as it speaks is the thing that we’re in together in is is Who are you? Yeah. You know, because really, it was, you know, look, before the pandemic, there were those of us where Life was hard. Now, it’s harder. Yeah, there are those of us where life was easy, but now it’s like it’s not easy. Right? You know, so it really is. I really think the the, what we’re all in together is this call to as you’re saying, you know, grapple with who Are you? And I do think that the way out if there is an out? Yeah, is to figure out, you know, what is it the core? What do you really bring? What do you what do you want to share? What’s your message? What’s and? And that is something that, you know, people have been grappling with some people have not. And I think that’s the opportunity, right?

Unknown Speaker 35:19
Yeah, for sure. For sure. Well, it’s also I mean, along those lines, too, I think I’ve definitely been more and more aware of my own privilege, and my and blessings. Because I think, you know, there’s the context of privilege, like in terms of what’s happening racially and socially, but there’s also privilege in terms of you know, and where is working from home hard short is Do people have zoom fatigue? Yeah. But it’s like, I was saying to people, especially in the first few months, like, Hey, I hear you, but like, imagine working for a restaurant or working for a movie theater or working like places where it’s shut down, you can’t go do it. Like, I know, working from home, it may not be ideal, but at least we get to work from home.

Unknown Speaker 36:00
Planning. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 36:01
I mean, and again, it’s it’s its perspective, and it doesn’t minimize the stress and the challenge, we got to you know, we don’t want to get into that competitive suffering thing where we then think our suffering isn’t real, because it’s not as significant as someone else’s. At the same time, I think we can also have some perspective. And I say all the time, even when I’m in my lowest moments, I really try to shift to I’m grateful, I’m healthy and well, my family is healthy, and well. We’re blessed to live in a home that we love. I’m grateful to get to do work that matters to me that I still get to do even in this different altered way.

Mitch Simon 36:41
We’d like to take this brief interruption to thank our sponsors and they get back to our program. We’d like to thank Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia School of Business and Technology, innovative solutions upskilling for the what’s next oyster organizational development dedicated to higher performance, business success and leveraging teams at oyster And we jungo a strategic people process consulting firm at we Joe I’ve won one final question and is in you, you talked about this again. We talked about this with the Bernie brown and the book together? How have you dealt with if you have I know you’ve got a handful of women in your household. But how have you dealt with loneliness and, and being honest and transparent. And connected to to that, just because just just there’s so many people out there who are dealing with it, and and they’re not talking about it. And I know that you’re really open to talking about those?

Unknown Speaker 37:47
Totally Well, I mean, I shared this you made reference to this podcast episode that I recorded a few months ago after I listened to Bernie brown talk to someone who written a book about loneliness. And as I was really thinking about it, loneliness is something you know, I’ve lived most of my life even though it’s small family, you know, grew up single mom, older sister. I’ve never been like I didn’t not around tons and tons of people. But I’m an extrovert, always been very social. Always had lots of friends. Michelle, and I’ve been together for 20 years now we’ve got two daughters, like my life, the circumstances of my life. I’m out in the world. I’m speaking at big events I sit right. I’m not someone that presents as a lonely person. Gentlemen, I’m not single, I’m not isolated. So therefore, what I’ve made up in my mind over the years is anytime I ever experienced some sense of loneliness, I didn’t even really let myself feel that or acknowledge it, because like, What are you talking about? lonely, you’re not lonely, right? Like it was a like, it was a circumstance. Loneliness is an emotion. So it’s like, some of us can, you know, be happy, positive people. But it’s not like we never feel anger or sadness. It’s an emotion. We’ve, as humans, we have access to all the emotions. And what we know about emotions is if we mute some of them, because we don’t like them, or we think they’re socially unacceptable, or they scare us. We then mute all of them. So it diminishes me not feeling my loneliness diminishes my joy. So part of what I’ve done over the course of the pandemic a bit, is just try to embrace that a little bit more, write about it, talk about it, feel it. Because it is I do feel more isolated, as I think many of us do, than I ever have in my life. I’m with Michelle and the girls, which is fantastic. And we do have a few other people now in our sort of expanded bubble of people that we now interact with, thank goodness. But just allowing myself to feel vulnerable. You know, one of the things I believe really strongly is that feelings are meant to be felt all of them, not just the good ones, not just the ones we like but all of them. And that doesn’t mean we have to go do anything with them. But like feeling lonely, just like feeling joy, feeling anger, just like feeling gratitude. They’re they’re just feelings and if we will ourselves to feel them, like we can move through them and take whatever’s positive from them to energize us and let go of what’s not. So I think the biggest thing, which for me has just been able to acknowledge my feelings of loneliness, and not then judge myself for it, or think if I told Michelle I’m feeling lonely, that she somehow thinks it’s a reflection on her and like, something’s wrong in her marriage. It’s like, no, babe, I love you. I’m not feeling lonely, because like, there’s something you’re doing, I’m just feeling lonely, because that’s something that I experienced as a human being. And it’s one of the emotions that I thought wasn’t on the table for me as an option. But it actually is, and I’m gonna let myself feel that sometimes, yeah, it’s

Mitch Simon 40:37
your, you know, hitting something that is occurring to me and to my friends, as well, as you know, I’m asking them, are you feeling lonely? And they’re like, no, we’re not, like, go listen to you know, Mike’s podcast or Bernays podcast. Like, they come back and like, are reading the book together? And they’re like, yeah, yeah.

Unknown Speaker 40:55
Yeah. Well, and part of it also, is that, I mean, this, I think, is a challenge for most of us, as humans, and I struggle with this is that, can we make peace with ourselves? Right, one of the books I wrote a few years ago is called nothing changes until you do, and it’s really about our relationship with ourselves. And like, having compassion for ourselves, being okay, you know, noticing the tendency, and maybe you guys can relate to this too, and people listening, like, I have to manage my own tendency to be really obsessed with the news and with social media and with staying, because that’s a way to quote unquote, connect. But for me, it’s actually more of a way to numb out and to distract myself from not just sitting in a room by myself feeling my feeling like, Oh, I feel lonely, or I feel sad, or I feel scared, because so much of my life, I think, like a lot of our lives is oriented around, kind of what am I doing next? And what’s the goal? And where are we headed and what’s going on. And it’s really hard right now to be making plans and making goals because there’s so much uncertainty. And it’s uncomfortable. I know, for me, and almost everyone I talked to, it’s like, well, what are what how are we? How do we plan for the next quarter in the next year? And we don’t know what the heck’s going to happen? It’s like, well, maybe this is a good time to just be in the present moment.

Ginny Bianco-Mathis 42:06
Right. Right.

Mitch Simon 42:08
It’s great. I think that’s where I think that’s where we’re gonna end. And I really do think that this is a good time to be getting present of that. But but it’s it really is, I think, you know, what we’re all in together is we’re all in this together is, is to be present is to be real, is to be authentic, is and also to rediscover how we can connect with each with each other. It’s a little bit more challenging. But there is technology that does make it great. Mike, Wow, I’ve been looking forward to this podcast for weeks. That’s what and I, you know, I’m so so excited. I met you that many years ago. We’ve kept in touch. And I want to just thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining us on the podcast. And we look forward to talking to you again soon. And good luck with his book. And, and sorry, Michelle, but the next book, you’re going to write one day as well.

Ginny Bianco-Mathis 42:57
Yeah, well, thank you. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 42:59
I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.

Mitch Simon 43:01
Thanks. Well, thank thank you and thank everyone, for just another exciting episode of team anywhere

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