Creating A Culture Of Peak Performance With Jen Thornton

Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. On the podcast today, we have Jen Thornton. Jen, welcome.

Thanks for having me. It’s gonna be a fun conversation.

It is my pleasure. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a little bit about yourself and what you do.

So a little bit about me. I’m in Dallas Texas, that’s where I live and have lived here for quite some time in Texas and all of its crazy glory. It’s always a fun place. And I’m curious and interesting and all those things what I do today, you know, my background was in retail. I did operations. I did HR. I did domestic international, all kinds of really cool stuff. But what I get to do today is run my own organisation, 304 coaching and we focus on talent strategies. So we help people understand where the organisation is going and based on that? What does their talent need to be futuristic li, you know what those competencies, those skills, the planning and all of those types of things.

So that’s what we do now. It’s a good introduction. If I’m not mistaken, the topic today is creating a culture of peak performance. Are you able to discuss this? I would love to discuss it. I think it’s a fun conversation in today’s world. So what does it mean to you to create a culture of peak performance. So when I think about peak performance. I think about it as environmental, you know, teams are ecosystems. You know, we are all interdependent. Um, you know, one person does one thing, it impacts everyone. So I think when you are in peak performance, you have created a, a group of people who appreciate each other for what they do. They appreciate each other for their streaks, their opportunities. And you’ve created an environment that has decreased fear and the natural fear that we all carry. And with that reduction of fear, what you get is really progressive innovation and the ability to think and to drive your business in a whole new way.

And so you cannot have peak performance unless you’ve created an environment where fear is not a primary source of energy. So if someone were to, let’s say you could pick your few best bits of advice if someone said to you, Okay, I really like that concept. But you know, what could you tell me? What’s the best advice you got about that particular topic? Yeah. So where to start? That’s always where we kind of, you know, where we start, where to start. So I think what’s important to think about is our language and how we respond to people has a chemical reaction to that person, just like we chemically react when someone when we’re responding to someone. And so if you want to remove fear, you have to start to really be a student of your own language and you have to start to think about how you are forming questions and statements and small things like, hey, you know, if someone comes in, they’re like, hey, I have a new idea and in your mind you’re thinking that’s never gonna work.

And you could say to that team member on your team, hey, this idea, it’s not gonna be successful, it’s going to be too expensive. You can tell him all the reasons why it’s not gonna work and what you’ve done is you’ve told them, I don’t want to hear your ideas. No, thank you. And your ideas don’t work here. And so you have created an environment where fear comes into play because now they feel judged now they feel like they’re not good enough for their job and the next time they have a great idea that might work there in fear and they’re not going to share it with you. So in that situation very easily you could change your language too. Hey, I don’t see it but change my mind. I want you to try to change my mind. So I see what you see and that creates a conversation where that person now is like, okay, well it’s okay that you don’t get it because you’re willing to hear me and they may tell you all the reasons and all the research and you know what, your mind might change. It’s happened to me when I said that to my team, I have changed my mind before, but likely you’ll still learn something and likely you’ll help that person, you know find a better way or a better solution, but what you’ve done is created an environment where innovation is celebrated and it’s a conversation and you don’t get in trouble if you don’t have the best idea in the room.

Yeah, I actually the thing which occurred to me as you were saying that was even if you don’t use that initial idea, it can help you with other things as well. So I’ve often, you know if I’ve thought of a particular idea, maybe it doesn’t work in this particular instance, but you can apply it elsewhere. And so I suppose my interpretation of your answer is like you want to have an environment where people are almost brainstorming, looking for ways to improve, to create an environment where new ideas and problem solving and progressive thoughts and really taking companies and to the next day the next quarter the next year to create that type of thought process, what you have to do, not only reduce fear, but you have to get people comfortable with failure these failures. The other side of innovation because if you aren’t willing to fail, then you’re not willing to try new things and you’re not willing to innovate. And I think that’s even sometimes as hard as reducing the fear in the environment.

Yeah, failure is a big, big topic for improvement or at least progress anyway in an entrepreneurial sense. Do you think it applies across all businesses? I do, I think it applies across all businesses now, there are pieces of the business that we have to get right if you’re an accountant, we’re going to need you to get, you know, the tax is correct, but where you can start to think about that in that environment, that is highly detailed, accurate environment is, you know, what if we look at it this way or what if we structure this organisation, you know, in a way that makes sense here and you can still get creative in environments that are highly accurate and I think that sometimes we forget that and you know what’s also interesting is I find oftentimes leaders who come out of environments say maybe there’s software implementer or they are an accountant or in like a, you know, finance type position where you know, things have to be very correct.

What happens when they become leaders is they hold on to that so much that they really struggle in that next phase of their career, because not only are they expecting themselves to be perfect, but now they’re expecting everyone on their team, there is actually a book, I should really have the title of the book and I’m going to mention it because it gives a disservice to the book, but the whole topic is about employees essentially being afraid to speak out and put their ideas forward, are you aware of any of that type of work? So I don’t know about that book, but we’ll figure it out. We’ll put in the show notes or something and we’ll both or I’ll read it because you already have, I think, you know, we don’t share ideas because we’re afraid of, you know, it’s fear, you know, it’s judgment. You know, my idea might not be good enough. The other thing that happens a lot is the leader, It gets really attached to their ideas, their viewpoints, how they see things and so they will say, all right, everyone marched this direction and everyone on the team’s like, that’s a disaster, but you know what, they still do it and they let the disaster happen?

And it’s not the employee that should be thought of as, you know, doing something bad? It should be the leader who is so attached to their ideas that they’ve created environments where it’s not okay to use your voice. It’s not ok to tell the truth. Um, and I see that a lot um, in organisations where people just, they know the right answer, but it’s safer to just go along with what’s gonna go wrong. Yeah, I know that, you know, I’m totally on board with what you’re saying, but for the sake of the conversation, are there any extremes the other way. So is it possible for I don’t know, people to be so opinion opinionated about their ideas that it actually is detrimental. Absolutely. And I think that it’s a balance and everything we do, and one of those balances is how do you use your voice in the room but equally taken everyone else’s voice and that’s not easy, you know, to find that balance and you know, we’re told to listen and we should do all of that, but we should also be told to find out how to use our voice in an appropriate way.

And you know, that’s another skill set that sometimes we don’t talk about and leaders and it’s really important, you have to know when to use your voice. You have to know how to do it in a way that reduces fear and encourages innovation. and you have to find a way to hear other people’s ideas and again not be so attached to yours. and being able to say we all have these ideas. You know, one of the things I see a lot of successful leaders acknowledging is not one of us has all the answers, but collectively we could figure it all out and I just love when people approach it that way. Well, I mean it makes me think of like you are a leader yourself. So how would you deal with those two examples? So let’s say you have someone who, you know, has good ideas and you suspect that they are not putting them forward as a result of fear. And then the other example, is someone who’s being too opinionated, how you deal with those two people.

Yeah, so two different ways to approach it because you have to make sure you approach it in a way they don’t what I call overcorrect. So you know, how you give someone feedback that they’ve talked too much in a meeting and then they never talk in a meeting again, that’s you know, they over-corrected and so with a person who is maybe taking up a lot of space and not allowing that other person to find their ideas, what I would say to them, one on one, as I would say, one of the things that I value most about you is your amount of information, the amount of ideas you bring the table. What I’d like to see in your evolution of your ideation is partnerships. How can you take on partnerships so that you can learn from other people to help, you know, take your ideas in a new way, you know, in the next meeting, How do we, how do you suggest we find time to make sure that everyone’s ideas are hurt, The best one bubbles up and the best ones probably be will probably be a combination of everyone. And so again, you don’t want to stomp on them and say don’t be, don’t be talking in the meeting because they’ll overcorrect, but you have to guide them and learn how to harness that piece of them and then that person who you can see the wheels turning and you’re like they would just talk again one on one with them, say I can see your wheels turning in the meeting, you have a lot to offer, it would help me lead better if you would share those in from those ideas in the meetings, how can I make it comfortable for you to share those ideas so that everyone here’s what’s in your head because I can see it and I know it’s fantastic and it’s not saying you know a good leader talks more in the meeting and you should be talking and you should have confidence.

No, it’s like how can I help you, how can I create an environment where you’re comfortable and you know allow those people to have that space for growth because who we are is how we always will be, but we have to learn how to situationally manage it and what our biggest winds are usually kind of the thing that gets us in trouble too, so you have to figure that out and help people understand how to manage it. That sounds very like you’re a mentor. Do you see a leader as a predominantly a mentor? I do. I think that leaders are mentors. I think they were a lot of hats. I think there’s two ways to be a leader one is through influence and one is through directive like directions and at times you have to be one or the other but you know everyone has a primary lane and you know in the past when we were creating these best you know best skills of leadership and the best practices of leadership. Most of them were created in the industrial revolution.

It’s a very different time and it was a time in which whatever job you were really good at them, you became the boss of people doing that job, so you knew how to do everyone’s job and so it was very directive like this is how you do it, this is how I want you to do it, do it the way I tell you to do it, that doesn’t work in today’s world, more than likely you are leading people doing jobs that you do not know how to do and you can’t be directive, you can’t tell them how to do their job, you don’t know but what you can do is influence their growth, you can influence how they you know excel within it, you can ask questions I would say ask questions, you don’t know the answers to, you can ask questions, you don’t know the answer to help them think bigger and stronger within that role that you don’t know how to do and that is influential, leadership that feels oftentimes like mentor ship too touched on a really interesting thing which I haven’t actually given much conscious thought to and that is the difference between a leader who knows how to do all the things and a leader who doesn’t and at least in my business anyway, I felt like I do need to be able to do everything that everyone else can do in order to, I don’t know in order to teach because I see myself mainly as a teacher anyway.

Have you got any more thoughts on that particular area? Yeah, I’m so glad that you paused on that because I think it is something that’s on the horizon for more and more leaders. and there’s some really specific reasons why the world is changing so quickly. The things that we did in our job five and 10 years ago no longer exist today. So how could we know how to do what replaced that and that is only going to speed up and so if we are the mindset that we have to be able to do everyone’s job on our team, then you’re gonna have to relearn your job every five years because the technology or what’s popular or not all of that stuff is changing and you know, I often talk about or think about what are the leadership competencies of the future and you know, again how we were taught to lead and these best practices are very archaic in today’s world and one of those competencies as being able to lead a group of people that do a job that you do not know how to do.

And people that learn that competency now are going to be incredibly successful in the future because that’s what, that’s what’s happening. I’m thinking about it from the slight edge perspective. Like do you think that there would be a slight edge in actually continuing to relearn your job every five years? But if the company gets big enough, you know, it’s completely, you have to manage people or the people who are not necessarily that they’re doing the job that you’re not doing right. So it’s not really sustainable if you were to try and do that. Yeah. And you probably wouldn’t be as good at it because if it’s something that’s new and modern, you know, our brains as someone who has never done it, we’ll see it more as well. This is different because it’s not like my past. But if it’s something that, you know, someone earlier in their career is doing this is real to them, this is current to them. And so you have someone looking at it from a current lens or someone looking at it going, this is different, not how I used to do it.

I want someone looking at that work from a current projective lens and not this like fear like this is not how I did it. I don’t know how to do it. I wish it was like it used to be no, I don’t want any of that in that person’s brain. What do you think about the sort of an employee mentality for someone who might say, you know, my boss doesn’t even know how to do my job or whatever it might be? What do you think about that? Yeah. And that happens all the time. And I think it is how that boss leads that person, if that supervisor is leading in a directive way and trying to tell someone how to do their job and they have no idea how to do it, then you know, they’re probably saying, well my boss has no idea. Oftentimes people say that because their boss isn’t curious about what they do and doesn’t understand the conceptual ideas of what they do, they just say, yeah, she sits over there in that cubicle working away. I really don’t know what she does. But if you’re a supervisor leader that is like, tell me about your wins this week, tell me how you’ve impacted the company this week, Tell me you know where your roadblocks are and how I can remove those, even if I didn’t know how to do your job.

But I asked you things about your impact and what you’ve learned or you know what you need, then your brain is not going to go to that person doesn’t even know what I do. Brain is going to go to their empowering me, they’re respecting me, they’re letting me do it and they’re helping me move, remove roadblocks so I can be even better at it. Yeah. They wouldn’t talk about a mentor that way would they? Whereas you would speak about someone who doesn’t do much, but you know, they’re quote unquote your boss. So I mean I think you touched on a lot of good stuff there and it’s the main advice, what would you say other than a leader who is clinging to their own idea is what would you say the biggest mistakes people make about creating a culture of peak performance. I think they don’t take the hiring process serious enough because every single person you bring into your ecosystem is going to impact and change it. And when we make a hiring decision, we are changing the course of someone’s life, their ability to provide for their family, their history on their CV every single time they interview after that they’re going to have to explain their time at that company and how it went and it impacts them emotionally.

And so I think too often were in need of hiring someone as employers. We don’t do the work to really think about the job that person is going to do. Oftentimes, we create jobs where the left and right hand has to work at the same time. And so you’ll hire either the left or the right and the other will fail inside that job and we don’t set up the work correctly and then even if we do set up the work correctly. Oftentimes we don’t really think about that hiring process as a relationship builder and we don’t get to really know that person or think about how we’re going to work with that person and so then we bring them in, they fail and when one person fails, the entire team is impacted. But I think that’s one of the biggest pieces about peak performance is you’ve got to get the right people on the team and that is much easier said than done. Well. I saw in your one pager that you had or perhaps still have an HR professional of over 20 years. So I’d be a little bit foolish if I didn’t ask you a bit about HR in terms of current things, have you got any thoughts on hiring remotely and the implications of that?

Or maybe some advice on that? I do. What’s interesting is I have actually never managed a team inside of an office and my 20 plus 30 years of leading teams, I’ve always managed field leadership teams and then remote teams. so I always have a different perspective because that feels so normal to me what I would say is for people who are going from managing a team, you know live and in person to managing a virtual or a blend, whatever you struggled with in person, you will struggle even more with those same things virtually because it kind of just puts a light on things. So if you struggled at giving clear direction and your team was always like, what do they want me to do or you know, and then afterwards I’ll go and you know, huddled together and try to figure out what they’ve been told to do. If that was something you struggled with in the workplace, then virtually you’re going to struggle with it even more. And so what I would say is virtual teams can be incredibly impactful, incredibly efficient, depending on the job.

Some research shows even more efficient, and it helps with the mental health a lot of times for people who have balance. And so if you want to have a productive team, look at where you struggled in the past and think about how you can work and improve on that piece of your leadership and that will help your entire team move forward. You’re aware of some of the main problems that have people have in relation to, because I, you know what you, what you say just makes so much sense. You know, if you if you had problems in an office and you were all together and then you went remotely, those problems would amplify, but what would you say are some of the biggest problems people have working as a remote team. I think one of the biggest problems is how do you measure success? So when we’re all in an often office, oftentimes the leader measures success by the person who is in their chair the longest. Oh, they’ve been sitting in their chair, they look super busy. That’s a top performer when someone else can do that same job and 25% of the time and you’re like, wow, they take a long lunch break.

It’s our brains play tricks on us about what performance looks like or what success looks like. And so I think one of the things we’re struggling with virtually is how do we say, oh, this person did their job because we can’t physically see them doing it. And so I think really getting clear on what your expectations are and then contracting on how that expectation will be hit. So whether that’s flex time, whether that’s a virtual 100% whatever it is. So that you’re not counting hours in the chair, you’re counting actual production, actual results. And I think that’s one of the biggest struggle struggles as leaders are trying to figure out how to say check the box. You did your job today. Kind of an accountability issue, then? Absolutely. And I mean from my perspective anyway, when I started my business, I think I had next to no HR experience.

And so what I have picked up regarding the topic is just being little bits along the way. So I think I think most likely when you when you’re in your early years of businesses, I think most people are like that unless they have existing experience. What would you say is the that’s the main thing for businesses to know if they don’t have a lot of HR experience. Yeah if you don’t have a lot of HR experience and it depends on the type of HR experience. I will tell you there’s a lot of pieces of HR that are not that are important to the business are very foundational but they’re not necessarily strategic talent arms of the business. And so I would say number one don’t look at it just as like a compliance HR look at it as strategic talent planning. And so if you don’t have a lot of strategic talent planning what I would say is think about why someone is coming to work for you and remember especially if you own your own company, that’s your dream, not your team’s dream.

And so they’re helping you with your dream and you never forget that. And if you don’t have that peace. Always really think about what work and my asking someone to do, am I providing an environment where that work can be successfully done And am I providing an environment where people feel respected, appreciated and know that they are contributing to something greater than just their position and just them. But really thinking about talent more strategically is the biggest piece that I think companies miss the boat on that they become HR becomes a very check the box environment and it needs to be talent strategy mm I mean it segues into one of the questions that I wanted to ask you about, which is what is the talent cliff? But I asked you about remote hiring. so is it, would it be the same topic to ask you about the talent cliff?

And also the question which I really wanted to follow up on, which is just general hiring advice, What’s your hiring advice? And does that coincide with the talent cliff? Definitely, all of it goes together. So what the talent cliff is really a metaphor for what happens in fast growing organisations. So when someone starts a company, they never wake up and think, you know what, I’m just going to find some awesome people and I’m going to lead them, just lead them to greatness. No one does that, everyone’s like I have a great service, a great product, a great idea and they get that idea off the ground but they have to hire a team to help that idea come to life. And so what happens is a company starts to take off because the founders are incredibly talented, They’re very smart, they have a great idea and so the business starts to take off and they hire great people, everyone’s excited about it. And if the company is on a really high project, the business starts to take off, what happens? Leaderships Focuses primarily, if not 100% on the product service, the widget, and they don’t put any attention into the leadership skills and making sure that they upscale people so they’re ready to handle all of this business, it’s about to come their way, so they throw all their energy into the product, which makes it go even better and off their business goes.

And then all of a sudden leaders are struggling and they don’t know how to handle this momentum. And so when you’re in fear you crisis manage whether you need to or not, you become highly directive, your best people are like, I’m not gonna put up with that, I’m not going to be told and yelled at all day and so they start to leave and so your business is just skyrocketing, but you’re faltering because you can’t get your talent right, because you haven’t invested in them and that’s the talent cliff metaphor when I think and I watch about businesses, so do you think that investing, because one of the things I heard was investing not only in the skills to do the job but also investing in the person, so taking an interest in the whole person rather than just the skills, do you think that helps with the talent cliff absolutely anything you can do to ensure that you know where your organisation is going. And helping your team ensuring that your team skill sets are always able to handle more business than what you’re actually doing because then they’re pulling the business with their skill and the business isn’t dragging them along and that’s what happens so often as a business drags the leader because they’re not ready to handle that momentum.

But you know, it’s so funny, I get calls all the time from, you know CEOs or CEOs and you know, they go off about their employees are not making decisions, they can’t handle the work look like there’s all this noise and when they finished stopping, I always say to them, what about the environment that you created, allowed all of that to happen And they’re like me, like that’s my employees and I’m like, nope, it’s an environment and you’re the leader of the environment too. Somehow some way you impacted that you made that come true. so I think that we have to remember that we as leaders make our environments come true. And so if you don’t like it, we kind of have to start with looking at our own actions and how our actions are creating the environments that we really don’t like taking some responsibility for it for sure. Yeah, and comes back a little bit to the culture thing, doesn’t it? Yeah. Yeah. And I’ll tell you one of the things that I think a lot of cultures are missing is the word learning, you know, always learning and again it kind of goes back to that leader who’s able to lead people that don’t know what their job is.

But if they’re constantly learning and they’re creating an environment of learning and then their team is in constant learning and if you’re a leader that wants to show up and say I know all the answers, I’m the master, I you know, you can’t tell me anything, I don’t already know. Then what you’ve done is you’ve created an environment where one person knows everything and no one else knows it. Therefore, that’s how we live. And if the leader is constantly talking about here’s what I learned or here’s what I read about or you know, I went to a rich treat and I really came back and thought about how are we doing this and the leaders creating a culture of learning and evolution. But if the leader isn’t using those words and the words they’re using is I know everything therefore I have hit the information, you know, finish line, then everyone else feels like they’re less than and it’s not a culture of learning, you’re setting up a precedent for yourself to be a little bit stressed as well.

I would imagine if you’re if you’re the leader in that particular scenario. Yeah. But yeah, I think more cultures have to make learning cool, you know, make it part of the conversation. And again, that allows failure to be okay because it’s learning, which again opens up the possibility for innovation. You can’t innovate without new information. You can’t innovate without learning something new. You can’t innovate without being okay with some failure. And so again, all of that um, language that we’re using either creates, you know, problem solving and innovation or it creates status quo. So I think, I think I know the answer to this question based on your answer about the talent cliff, but what does it mean to throw payroll at your party? I I always love that actually is an old boss that used to always say that to me and I latched onto it and it’s so true. So throwing payroll, the problems, we do that a ton. And what that means is we look at a team and we see them struggling. So we’re like, oh that team of five people are struggling to get the work done.

We should hire 1/6 person because then it will just be fine. We’ll just spread the work out. But what we don’t do is stop and say, why are these five people struggling is the process right? Do they need additional education? Do we have issues with a cross-functional team, which is causing this team to struggle, but it’s really not them struggling. It’s a relationship. And so instead of stopping and dissecting why we need to hire someone new, we just hire someone new and hope our problems will go away. but before we ever hire a new position within our organisation or even back Philip position our organisation, we have to stop and say how’s the work getting done? How should it get done? What’s what is the productivity and if you’re going to hire someone at $70,000 what if you Put 35,000 into development dollars, whether that’s in the person or technology, that team becomes more efficient and enjoys their job, then you’ve created a better company. But instead we just keep throwing money at this payroll instead of really being more strategic again about what is our talent strategy.

Mm interesting. And I suppose I see I get a lot of reward out of employment. So I mean, I think possibly I could do both regarding that. I think a totally great answer about is there a way you can be more efficient, etcetera, but I would definitely have a tendency to increase the payroll. Yeah. And sometimes that is the right decision. Oftentimes it is, but even if the decision is we need to hire someone new and you’ve done that work, you still created a better environment for not only the current team but that new person you hired. So no matter what the answer is at the end, the work is worth it. And this is one from your bio which I thought was a really interesting one or your one pager. Sorry, what’s the future of workplace communication. Oh, that is so good. So, I think when you think about the future of workplace communication, it is becoming shorter, people don’t have as much time.

And so we have to become a lot more efficient without making people feel like they are not worthy of your time. And that’s going to be really difficult. Right? We’re living in a world where on back to back to back to back meetings, It’s like, where do I actually do the work that I talked about in these meetings? Because I’m back to back to back. So I think, you know, the future of workplace communication is going to involve a lot of clarity and it’s also going to involve, you know, some of the stuff we’ve talked about and it’s gonna include understanding how the neuroscience of the brain works. How does it take an information, what does it do with that? Because it scrambles it all up and creates these stories. and so how do we then think about using that neuroscience to our benefit and the benefit of employees? So, they’re happier. And again, a lot of that is our language around reduction of fear. And I suppose you’ve touched a little bit on, would you say you’ve touched on creating trust and safety in the workplace?

Yeah, I think we have touched on it, but you know, creating trust is not about telling someone, I promise, I’ll take care of you right? We tell people to trust us all the time that doesn’t work, but we keep trying it as humans. I think that when we when we stop and want to build trust, we have to understand that is a two way straight and that we have to get curious, we have to be really respectful to create trust. You have to accept other people’s perceptions because it is their reality. And so often as leaders, when someone comes to us and they tell us something like that can’t be true or that person is just being this way and you know, we don’t stop and acknowledge their current state and their perception and then work through it. And that creates trust, being able to accept someone else’s viewpoint. Can you tell me a little bit about your business at the moment?

Absolutely. So here at three or four we help organisations with their talent strategies and we do that in a myriad of ways. We help organisations think about their future developmental needs, not the developmental needs of today, because that was yesterday’s problem, but where are we going in the future and based on that, what competencies and skills is your team gonna need? How do you prepare them for your future business? And so we do leadership education through leadership academies, we do executive coaching retreats workshops and help organisations also think about their long-term education strategy so that their team continues to grow and again creates an environment of learning and any culture where continuous development and continuous learning is king, those companies always do better. So is your client typically a business owner or is it sort of high up leaders within corporate companies? Typically, it can be both you know typically i you know a c suite person whether that’s a small you know small 50 employee company or a couple of 100 couple of 1000 employee company, it’s usually that same person who reaches out because you know no one calls me because things are going well which would be really good if they did because we could do really great things.

I get the call when someone’s frustrated and they’re at their wits end because they in their mind have done everything right but their team isn’t marching in the direction they want and isn’t being able to deliver the strategy and you know so those are the phone calls I get and we work through it and it’s not a short fix, it’s not a one workshop fix. The adult brain actually doesn’t change behaviours and one workshop. So we really focus on long-term strategies and how to how do you know how the adult brain learns and they learn and you know they learn a new skill if you wanted to stick, they gotta go practice it. Then they learn a new one, they’ve got to practice it and they got to learn a new one. You stick someone in a room for three days and spent a fortune on a three day training. The likelihood their behaviour changes at the end of the three days is incredibly small. And so we focus on education that’s more drip content and so that we can increase the likelihood that we have behaviour change.

So that call that you get is the person who has the vision if you like is attempting to get your or their team to a particular place and they’re reaching out to you in order to achieve that. Yeah, it’s a fun ride. I mean, it’s bumpy and frustrating and challenging, but it’s a fun ride. Because when the team starts to feel invested in and the team starts to see the leaders say we want to sign up to be better for you, our teams, it’s just amazing how fast things start to kind of change and you see the language change first, then you start to see a few actions change and then all of a sudden it’s like, you know when everyone starts moving in a whole new way and working together in a whole new way, but it’s such a beautiful process to watch and I love it. So your academy stuff is that online course related. So it’s a blend. So we have what we do with the academy’s as we work the organisation, you know, again what did they need?

We don’t do any stock, like every single person needs these 10 modules because every company is different. So we work with a company, we determine what their team needs and then we put together a curriculum that supports that need and then we do videos where they can watch, but then, you know, no one’s gonna change their behaviours from watching a video. so then we get together live, we talk about actually using the work, implementing the work, what does it look like in the real life world and then you know, how do we use this, this new information to really impact? And then we come back together again and we talk about it what went well, what didn’t go well, but the implementation piece is so important when it comes to spending money on education, you have to create environment where someone can implement what they’ve learned. We also, in all of our leadership academies include either self-coaching or one-on-one coaching because to change your behaviour, you have to do a lot of mental work and you have to really think about if I grow in this area, what’s possible for me because you have to say, here’s where I am, I want everything on the other side of the work because if you’re not willing if you don’t want what’s on the other side of the work you won’t do the work.

And so that coaching in that mental peace helps us again create behaviour change because people mentally are seeing what’s on the other side of this education, why it’s why it matters to them and what’s in it for them to actually do the program. So you’re doing a lot of 1-1 stuff at the moment. A lot of zoom calls. I am doing a ton of who I am, one of those like most of most people in the world. I’m back-to-back zoom calls all day. But I love my work so much. I love it. I could do it all day every day. Well that’s good and I always I’m always interested to know how much of the of the stuff that you teach to your customers, your clients. Do you also get your team to go through stuff like the academy, that sort of thing. And what does that look like for you? How is that process for you? Oh I just love the you asked that question. I’ve never been asked that before. I think that’s a great question. So one of the things that we do when we look at our organisation in succession planning and one of the first jobs that people do is what we call program manage.

And so they are managing the logistics behind an academy and then when we’re on the academy calls they are they’re managing kind of the IT answering questions but what that does it allows them to go through the program several times and so they start to hear all of those things and then I as a leader have to lead in a way in which I asked other people to lead and so you know like we were talking earlier when I said you know I say to people change my mind and sometimes I change my mind. There’s one person on our team. She’s incredible, she’s super smart. She’s a graphic designer and she does all of our like making sure all of our materials are visually you can learn from them visually which is a whole another piece of trying to create education is you know our eyes and how our eyes learn. She challenges me and gets me to change my mind all the time and I adore that I love it.

And another girl on our team is like this ideal engine. I mean she just comes up with ideas like crazy and in fact Monday when we had our touch base and we were talking about her objectives for the week one of her objectives was to go learn about a new software and ideas on ways we could deploy it to make us more successful and that’s her one of her projects this week is to I D eight and to learn and to come up with ideas. And so yeah, we definitely, you know, walk the walk and we put these people through our academies as part of their job to help them understand it. So do you do objectives for the week for your whole team? Yeah, I mean we don’t look at it necessarily week by week. But you know obviously there are some things that are you know pressing by the week But you know I meet with everyone one on one once a week and you know they come to me and tell me what they think their priorities are and you know why their priorities are impacting the business and why it’s important and you know they bring me ideas you know we love to ID eight here at three or four and you know sometimes we laugh like oh dang that was a really good idea, we have to do the work now you know so that’s kind of the joke is like oh I had this idea that we’re going to do the work and I’m like well do the work we’ll figure it out.

But yeah, we talk about those objectives and what a win looks like because if you send someone to ID eight you know as one of their you know task items you know what does success look like I can’t you know, I don’t know how those ideas will go, I don’t know if there be any ideas we can use. And so, you know, I have to be open to having whatever ideas come back that come back um, and really evaluate success as the ability to think about how to apply new software in a way that would improve our business, right or wrong. I can’t, you know, I can’t get attached to the actual ideas. Would you advocate or is it something that you advocate people do if they’re not already doing it. So like a formulaic, whether it be weekly or monthly, what are your objectives and or idea as you say, Yeah, I think everyone needs to know what they’re responsible for. And you know, you talk to people who are struggling in their job. Oftentimes they’ll say, I just don’t really know what I’m supposed to do. And oftentimes the language they put is, I don’t know how, which frustrates people because they’re like, we’ll figure it out.

But what they really mean is I don’t have clarity on what I do. And so by having those conversations with people asking them about impact, asking them about their ideas, asking about the work they’re doing, what their roadblocks are, all of that allows them to again provide, let you know their value, you can see your value or their value, You start to learn about what they do because you can’t be an expert in everyone’s jobs, you start to learn what they do and I think that one on one time that relationship building is critical to business success. Can I ask about your business goals for three or 4? Yeah. So you know, it’s interesting when I started this journey as an entrepreneur what my business looks like today looks nothing what I thought it would look like and I’m so glad it doesn’t look like what I thought it would look like because life has a tendency of Yeah, so what I thought I was going to do is I was just gonna be me and I was just gonna do some executive coaching.

I had no idea that I’d have a full team of people that we would have multiple arms to the business that we would help all different kinds of companies and that would really become talent strategist and not just an executive coach. So yeah, so that’s, you know, kind of the evolution and it happened really fast. I mean, I was probably six months in before I started realising, wait a minute, I could do something bigger. So what the future holds for us, you know, I have some ideas but I’m open to what the future brings me and I what’s next for us is to hit some milestones, You know, I am a female minority owned business and there are statistics that say I’ll fail, but I won’t. And so I think for me my biggest goal right now is to break some of the stereotypical you know you know statistics that say female minority-owned businesses will fail because they don’t fail. But there’s a lot of belief that they do and so I want to, you know, pull those statistics up.

Good. Can I come back to one thing which he said which was you mentioned that there was something which changed your mind about which direction you were going to go in going from just yourself doing coaching. Can you do you know what that is? What was the big thing that has changed it for you? Yeah, I think what changed it for me is confidence. I think that when I started my business and my confidence wasn’t where it needed to be and I thought that’s what I could contribute and as I started learning more and doing more my confidence built and I recognise what I could have to offer and when I, my confidence started to grow, obviously my ideation grew my ideas of how things could be done or how we could approach something or how we maybe got a new client. And so I think it was my confidence that changed and my belief in myself self-belief as what was going to say, Yeah, good stuff.

Have you got any anything that you’d like to add, which we haven’t discussed today that you think would be valuable? I think that when you are a leader live in a world of understanding that you are imperfect, your team doesn’t expect you to be perfect and that you know beyond a journey of curiosity. I think that the best leaders out there are constantly curious, constantly learning, constantly thinking about things and they’re not only curious outside of their team are outside their organisation, but they’re supercurious inside too. And so I guess that’s what I would leave people with, is stay curious.

Jen Thornton, where is the best place to find you?

So you can find us on our website at We have a ton of free resources, you can access there, you can also reach me on LinkedIn, we can continue the conversation and I’m on LinkedIn at Jen Thornton.

Well, thank you very much for all the value you provided today. Have you enjoyed it? I’ve had a great time and thank you for the great questions. I love when people make me think that’s great.

Well, thank you again and I’ll speak to you soon.

All right, have a great afternoon.