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EP.12 Show Runner – Ann Simmons Nicholson

EP.12 Show Runner – Ann Simmons Nicholson

•Workplace Communication & Improving Emotional Intelligence•

With over thirty years in human resources, employee training & development, strategic planning, public speaking, and communications, Ann is one of the most experienced guests of the Show Runner Podcast. In this podcast Ann shares terrific lessons on workplace communication, improving our emotional intelligence, and tips for getting along better with people. I met Ann at a NIGA where she was leading a breakout session for female executives and coaching them on their personal branding. I found her wisdom and her enthusiastic presentation style to be very enlighting and entertaining. Ann’s diverse clientele includes MGM Resorts, Whole Foods, Valley View Casino, MTV’s The Real World Las Vegas, Niagara Water, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, along with numerous non-profit organizations.

Ann Simmons Nicholson, Owner, and CEO of the Simmons Group

Lessons you will learn from this podcast:

  • The one word that separates aggressive and assertive communication.
  • ¾ of the thoughts that women have about themselves are negative – how to rethink your belief system.
  • Understanding Title 7 harassment claims in the workplace.
  • Advocate for ourselves and career advancement.
  • Learning to disagree without being disagreeable.
  • Using question vs. statements in a heated conversation.
  • Are you “shoulding” all over yourself and others?
  • Curiosity vs. certainty can help you suspend judgment and avoid emotional hijacking.
  • How to look for the intention vs. the impact of others actions.
  • How NO EMAIL FRIDAYS causes collisions that build relationships!

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TRANSCRIPTS

Kathy: Hi everybody, it’s Kathy. And today we’re networking with Anne Simmons Nicholson. She’s the owner and CEO of the Simmons Group. Ann has over 30 years of experience in human resources, employee training and development, executive coaching, strategic planning, public speaking and communications. Her firm has worked with national and international companies.

Her diverse clientele includes MGM Resorts, Caesar’s Entertainment, Whole Foods, Scientific Gains, Valley View Casino, MTV Real World Las Vegas, Niagara Water, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and more. And was the director of volunteer operations for the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games. The Simmons Group also worked with numerous non-profit organizations.

I met Anne at the National Indian Gaming Convention, where she was leading a breakout session for female executives and coaching them on their personal branding. I found the topic in her enthusiastic presentation style to be very enlightening and entertaining. Ann welcome to the Show Runner Network.

Ann: Thank you for having me Kathy.

Kathy: Ann your career and your background is varied. And it sounds very exciting. He tells a little bit more about your professional journey and your background in coaching and training ad helping to build the personal brands of modern business leaders.

Ann: I would love to. I have been in this world, organizational development, HR, learning in development, it’s changed names several times in my long career, for over 35 years. I started when I was four though so keep in mind I, I was very young, obviously I did not start when I was four, but I did start when I was young.

I have always had a passion for helping people, more importantly helping people help themselves which is what coaching, learning and development organizational development typically, anyone in that field would say that is their passion.

Kathy: Ann can you explain a typical human resource that companies issue that companies are dealing with today and how are we helping them address the coaching and training?

Ann: Well I think that there are several hash tags I could bring up that would identify some of the new awareness’s, and I think that while there’s always been companies that have done an excellent job in investigating Title VII harassment claims apparently there are more companies that are far more sensitive to it now in the last six months our request to be outside investigators for claims has increased almost ten fold. And while that is a pendulum swing that we were not terribly surprised by, what we do know is that. And by the way we’re also glad that people are bringing these issues up. We also are very aware that 90% of those claims have ended up as what we call unsubstantiated, meaning that there’s no independent verification or evidence that harassment or hostile work environment was created.

A number of things that people don’t like about the work Place are unfortunately not illegal so if bad management were illegal I think we’d all be in jail so while we’re glad that these things are being brought up it’s really the education of what is certainly uncomfortable or inappropriate or illegal.

While that’s so important to understand, there are also a lot of things that really are just learning how to be better leaders and managers. So it’s dovetailed in clients saying “How can we become more aware of… things that, unconscious bias, where we’re doing our same things that really have an impact on people, not illegal, but certainly making people unhappy in the workplace.”

The importance behind this from our, as the more with some clients is that, as the labor market continues to tighten, and just this morning numbers released, 4.1% unemployment nationally. There’s certainly pockets of the United States that are higher in unemployment than that. 4% unemployment to the HR professional means that we are at full employment.

Meaning that everybody who wants a job has a job. So as we get into, and we’re there in many communities and in a variety of different positions we are at less than 4% unemployment. So that’s when you’d start to see competition for people where you will see significant wage growth which we have not yet experienced that, and it’s only going to get more competitive as the available population for employees shrinks and the number of jobs continues to increase.

Kathy: So it sounds a lot like some of the things that are bubbling up towards the top today have more to do with leaders and managers, and sort of an unconscious bias. So that’s kind of what you’re bringing to the table with the training and the coaching.

Ann: It is and I think most people would not -truly would not want to make someone uncomfortable in the workplace. There’s a very small percentage of the population that are actually sociopaths. We don’t believe that most management are in that category. We also know that our backgrounds are all different and so what may be acceptable in my history or background is not comfortable for many other people, and those unconscious biases, the awareness of those unconscious biases become an important element of being a good leader or a strong leader.

Kathy: That makes a lot of sense, let’s talk a little bit about female professionals and their personal brands. What do you see as the most significant challenge or misconception right now regarding female professionals?

Ann: I have spent a great deal of time working with women through global gaming women, and through its off shoots lean in circles and I do a tremendous amount of reading, I do not get any kind of, any kind of kickback from these authors, but if I could make a recommendation, Lean In by Cheryl Sandburg, the Confidence Code by Kay and Shipman and then anything by Brown, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the wilderness, one of the reasons I recommend those books is because women have not been given the same societal norms as men, and we’re not knocking men, it’s not their fault. It’s being able to recognize why I would not put myself in for a position so women will not apply for a position unless they feel as though they have a 100% of the skill required for the position, and typically they ask for 80% of the salary.

In contrast, men will With themselves up for a position or apply for a position they feel they have 60% of the skill and ask for 100% of the salary. So one of the things that we immediately say to women is what’s the harm for putting yourself up for the position? They’re going to train you in the things they want you to know or do and whatever number you have in your head add 20% and that is the number to ask for. Again, all they can say is no. And I’ve heard back from so many women that have heard us give the specific advice that it worked, my god it worked, I actually got the number.

And then I asked for a sign on bonus, and then a one year bonus after I’d been there for a year. And amazingly enough I got that too, so I believe that the most significant challenge is simply the hesitancy to put myself out there. And does it feel like I’m bragging or believing that I have more skills than I do, and putting that aside, and asking them to ask themselves the question, if your best friend were to ask you for advice on this exact thing, what advice would you give your best friend? So take that advice yourself.

Kathy: Wow! Well, that’s great advice you just shared with us too. So, I can see that really what women professionals need to do is to get some of this confidence. So, with books like The Confidence Code and Lean In, to really start believing in themselves and to go for the the position that they feel like they may not be ready for. But it’s sort of, you mentioned the societal norms and you may not have been taught about bragging about ourselves or putting ourselves out there like our male counterparts.

Ann: And I would just challenge the word bragging. Women would say that. Men would say I have confidence and pride in my skill. And that is a distinct difference between ego and humility. I can be arrogant or I can have pride in my achievements and women would. Three-quarters of the thoughts that women have about themselves are negative, and men it’s the exact opposite. Three-quarters of the thoughts they have about themselves are positive, and again I’m not knocking men, it’s how we’re brought up. It’s how the things that have we’ve been reinforced for. And I again I mentioned to you, I believe I mentioned to you, but I’m gonna mention it again. If I were to take the hashtag for our current situation in society. It’s #timingiseverything. So if ever there was a time to risk asking for The promotion asking for an additional assignment or asking the question am I being paid the same as my male counterparts who do the same work I do?

And women would say my gosh that’s not a question I’m willing to ask, no one else is gonna ask it for you. So what’s the risk? If the risk is you’ll lose your job I would challenge your thinking on that, and if the risk I feel like I am overstepping or I’m being egocentric my belief is that the more we can say to ourselves as women, well, what’s the harm in asking? They may say no, they may say yes. You’re not gonna get what your counterpart is being paid. That’s none of your concern or none of your business. However, you can ask the question, am I getting the paid the same or equitably. Can have wage parity. All but 10 states have laws that say you have to be paid if you’re doing the same job. That there’s pay equity laws in all but 10 states. Eight of those 10 that don’t have specific laws around pay equity have general laws around nondiscrimination and then there are only 2 that don’t have either of those 2 things. So, and believe me, I believe that time is short. Pretty soon those 2 states and the 8 that have only nondiscrimination in employment, will have specific equity laws #timing is everything. Right now it’s in the day to day conversation and one caution that I would put out there to all women is remember that aggression is different than assertive. The definition of aggression is to stand up for my rights while violating the rights of others. Assertive Is standing up for my rights while not violating rights of others.

It’s only one word difference and most women will believe that standing up for their rights is violating the rights of others, even if they’re not. Violating rights of others. So I would be very aware of aggression versus assertive. And the biggest reason I would mention that is because the backlash of me too and time’s up is creating with men who would not ever consider treating women in an inappropriate or harassing way are hesitant. To be put on a team or meet with women without someone else in the room. Cheryl Sandberg has launched Mentor Her on #MentorHer, and I believe that she is very much with what she did with Lean In, she’s putting data to a very emotional topic around why this backlash sorry, harm women, this backlash could harm women more than it could help them. Again I’m not, I’m glad that these things are coming to the surface, I also want to acknowledge all of our male colleagues out there who would never consider treating women in inappropriate way that their fear, their anxiousness is real, and we get to address that too so that somehow the pendulum can swing back to a more normalized way of treating people.

Kathy: Well, I think that makes a lot of sense when we’re looking inward at our professional and our personal brands. And you said something that really struck a cord. And that is that three-fourths of the thoughts that females have are negative. So that’s why it’s important that these kinds of conversations between businesswomen and successful women happen. Because we need to build the confidence of women. And I even like the way that you’re changing the vernacular. You’ve said, well don’t’ use this word, use this word. And let’s not be careful to be aggressive. We want to be assertive. So, we have to do this in a way that it’s accepted, and I like the way you’re saying we got to get back to a regular balance too.

Ann: Absolutely. And I know that while we have seen this huge increase in claims that we are being asked to investigate, I also believe that will start to normalize and 90% of the the things we get brought into, if 90% of the things that we are asked to investigate turn out to be not title seven violations, hopefully, we get to the point where the number reduces and the things that are being brought to us to investigate, or to our internal HR department to investigate, actually will address those true violators of people’s rights. And it’s not just women.

Kathy: Well let’s talk a little more about how women can excel and achieve their goals in today’s workplace. Do you have any advice for us?

Ann: Yes, I do. I spent yesterday, yesterday was international women’s day, and I spent yesterday being able to really share some thoughts on what we can do about this, it’s not up to anyone else but us to be our own advocate. I created another self imposed hashtag which is my hashtag my own best advocate. I don’t expect anyone to speak on my behalf. And women often because they speak on other people’s behalf will believe that if I do a good job someone will then advocate for me. And that’s just not true. But there was a someone said yesterday that I think we believe that people spend more time thinking about us than they actually do. Some of the best ways to be my own best advocate is ask myself those questions. What am I good at, do I have a list of my own strengths? Go to leanin.org and search Ban bossy, because there’s a lot of great practical recommendations for women to stop, A) referring to themselves as bossy and B) stop letting other people refer to them as bossy. And there’s just very simple things that you can do. Speak up and ensure that there is a methodology for everyone speaking up at the table, have a seat at the table.

That can be very uncomfortable, and so one of the recommendations is get yourself out of your comfort zone, learn something new. And one of the safest ways to do that is to volunteer in an organization, a non-profit organization that really, most non-profit organizations need more help. The volunteer to do something you’re not comfortable with. So if public speaking is something that puts just a real dread in your gut, volunteer to speak at a non- profit about something, either you’re comfortable with, or be that you’re really uncomfortable so that you can practice in a very safe environment. You’ll end up figuring out how to put those things together. We would also say that assertive training, there are numerous online audio, audio books, podcasts around how to be assertive versus aggressive and some of it is so simple. Asking questions versus making statements in a conversation that starts to get tense. Look for a mentor, someone who’s willing to give you feedback on things that you’re doing, men and women. I’ve had two- I’ve had numerous mentors, but two specifically, one who taught me how to a read a PNL and as a business owner being able to read a PNL is absolutely crucial, more importantly how to appropriately adjust things to modify that PNL. And then the second one was my sounding board. When I first started my business and I had those moments of insecurity about what am I thinking? Was this a wise move?

So I had a man and a woman, and, stereotyping or unconscious bias would say of course the man taught her how to read a PNL, and the woman wants her sounding board it was exactly the opposite. I had a great friend who allowed me to vent with him about my gosh… This is not going to be a successful endeavor for me and he would be able to talk me off the ledge and give me. Ask me all the questions for me to come to my own conclusion that you know what, I am very good at this. And the women who taught me how to read a PNL was pretty, what’s the right word? Pretty tough with me on. You do understand this, Ann. Where did this number come from? How do you evaluate this number? And when she would ask me the questions like, do you know what? I do know this. I have been able to defend these females before. So, look for mentors. Learn from everyone and everything around you. Sometimes it’s what not to do I had a male boss that I felt very disconnected from, our value systems were very different. And my mom used to always say that if things turn out the way you want, you celebrate that success. One thing that women don’t do is say, wow, we did that really well and here is what I contributed to that.

And if it doesn’t work out the way I want lesson did I learn? Versus I failed at that but I learned a valuable lesson. And men and women when I ask the question in large groups to small groups, some of the most valuable lessons people learned in life are what I will never do again. So if you’ve got what you would call a bad boss just recognize those things that you are uncomfortable with or don’t like about that, don’t like about their style and consciously make the list of things I will not do when I’m in charge.

Kathy: That makes a lot of sense. So let me just recap some of that because that was a lot of great information. So some of the things that women can do to excel and achieve their goals in today’s workplace is you start about like telling us we need to advocate for ourselves. We advocate for others but we need to remember to do that to ourselves because nobody is gonna do that.

I liked a part about let’s volunteer to speak. That gets you more confidence. Asking questions instead of statements when we’re in a tense situation, and of course, finding your mentor. That’s really important, and you point out of course, both men and women are going to bring something different to the table.

Ann: Yes. The only other thing I would suggest is if you’ve not done any work on emotional intelligence, if you haven’t for yourself, so it’s emotional intelligence 2.0 Bradbury and I don’t get anything from these authors, I truly just believe that it’s great to share things that have impacted ourself and in our team from a training standpoint. Emotional intelligence, I am an advocate for not teaching something like geometry in the third grade. Let’s instead teach emotional intelligence.

When I’m in a group of engineers they disagree with me on that because they say they use it every day. I tell people I don’t ever use geometry, but I use emotional intelligence every day. So please engineers don’t put any hate out there, there’s probably a very good use for geometry, I just haven’t used it in my life. Emotional intelligence is one of those things that some of the components of it are delayed gratification and our technology driven world doesn’t encourage delayed gratification. Instant gratification is what we’re looking for, so being able to understand where we may not be developing our emotional intelligence.

So, one of the the things that I recommend was asking a question instead of making a statement, that is a part, a function of emotional intelligence. Questions stimulate the logical center of the brain and statements stimulate the emotional center of the brain so being able To get good at asking open ended questions that are true questions. Why do you do that, is not a question, it’s a statement in the form of a question. So getting good at asking those truly open ended questions is something I would recommend.

Kathy: That’s great advice. Ann, let’s talk a little bit about your personal brand. Can you describe for us Ann’s brand?

Ann: Sure. I have my own personal brand because I am the CEO and owner of the company has bled into the Simmons Group brands. I am a Consultant who tells people in the very first meeting that I want to make sure you don’t need me anymore for what you’re bringing us in to consult on. Our goal is to make sure that the transfer of knowledge happens. And we know that builds confidence and skills that might not otherwise be there. If I have failed to give you the confidence to do what you initially brought us in for, I have failed. And we actually offer every time. We refund your money.

So if in X amount of time, you don’t need us anymore for this topic. We will refund your money, and I’m proud to say we’ve never had to refund the money before. We believe that taking care of relationships will take care of everything else. Knowing that all, most buying decisions, most trust is built if there’s trust in the relationship. And then the third, so we wanna make sure you don’t need us anymore, take care of relationships and everything else will follow. And then give back to your communities in some way. Those who have been given much, much is expected. And all of our employees are given not just budgets to give back within the community but also time. We’re a small company and if we can do it, everybody else can do it also.

Kathy: Wow those are great brand attributes, Ann. Thank you so much for sharing those. Ann, let’s talk about a personal learning experience, time, or situation in your career that you faced a personal obstacle, and how did you overcome it?

Ann: I’m gonna give you an example of something I’ve been working on for my entire career because I don’t believe that I have perfected it yet. This is also a function of emotional intelligence, for 30 years I had been working on suspending my judgment. Knowing that no matter how thing I sliced the stories there’s always two sides to every story, it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it’s something I continue to work on because I know that when I am faced with something where I start to think absolutely about it. If I start using in my head or verbally words like need to, have to, got to, must. The word should. I tell people all the time, are you shoulding all over yourself or others?

I said shoulding, just to be clear. If you’re shoulding all over yourselves or others, you’ve already passed judgment on it. And if I judge myself, I can’t help myself. If I judge others, I can’t help them. And everything I do, everything I am about as a leader, as a person, as a wife. As the best aunt on the planet. As a sibling, as a daughter, is truly how can I help you. I’m also not Pollyanna. I have a very successful business because people trust that my intention is to help them. I also have very strong, solid- I’m gonna say excellent relationships with friends and family because I genuinely suspend my own needs in the desire to help others. I also am not perfect at it. When I recognize that someone is doing something for their own reasons not doing something to me, it’s easier for me to stay in curiosity versus certainty. As soon as I’m certain someone has done something to me because of me, at me, that impacts me, I have lost my ability to be objective.

It’s not easy. I’m still working on it from a driving standpoint, I think most people can relate to all the judgment I pass on people that are doing something on the highway or on the road that I believe is dangerous or bad or wrong. As soon as I start thinking that. My mission this year is to suspend my judgment while driving because it’s where I still end up getting very frustrated and what’s called an emotional hijack where I get angry and I start passing offensive judgment. So what I do now, if someone does something, On the road that starts that reaction in me, I out loud in my car say my goodness I hope they get to the hospital on time. For a birth a death, injury, hurt, it helps shift my prospective. It’s not 100% successful yet. I think about the times when I’ve done something stupid on the road, where I feel like I’ve cut someone off or done something that might cause them to react to me the way I’m reacting to other drivers.

It sounds like a simple thing, it’s not. My automatic response has been built up over, well since I learned to drive, so since I was 16. And that is, it’s difficult. The longer you’ve been involved in a behavior, the harder it is to unlearn it. So I’m doing everything I can in that arena. At work, I’m very successful in suspending my judgment because I’m in a conscious how can I help you mode. In my personal life, those closest to me will say I’m still working on suspending my judgment there. And I will tell you from a piece. Being able to put my own heart and mind at rest and peace, that is one of the most difficult things, and one of the most helpful things I’ve ever done.

Kathy: Well it sounds like your personal learning experience happens everyday. And you’re continuing to learn about how you react to things and adjust your reaction. And that makes a lot of sense. I wrote down something and I have it in my office and held it on the wall and it says good intentions. And if you just go back and think about what that person is doing, they have good intentions, because you believe you have good intentions, right? So everybody’s doing these things with good intentions so they’re not doing it to you or at you they’re doing it. So I really like that, that makes good sense.

Ann: Whether you know it or not, that is one of the core components of emotional intelligence. If I approach someone wanting to understand their intention, versus dealing with the impact of their actions, I approach it very differently, I approach it with a more open mind, I approach it from a questioning format versus a judgmental position. So intention versus impact is a huge component of emotional intelligence, and one of my daily habits is- I’m very thankful. I grew up in a very large family with a mother who had a doctorate in education. And most people didn’t know she had a doctorate in education. And it was interesting that all of the things she taught us with each other and we had to work out our own conflict.

Quite frankly she didn’t have the time to work out all the conflict between all 11 of us. But also, we learned early on that we can disagree without being disagreeable. And if there’s a way to get to that point in your work life and your personal life, there is a much greater opportunity to see the learning in every situation. Impact versus intention, so I’ve well done you, I’m giving you silent applause and giving you a golf clap here. Because that is emotional intelligence in a nutshell, understanding intention versus impact.

Kathy: Yes and learning how to disagree without being disagreeable. Boy I tell you I’m trying to learn that lesson every day too.

Ann: Question, stay in question.

Kathy: Good lessons you’re teaching us today Anne. Thank you so much.

Ann: You’re welcome.

Kathy: You mentioned that’s a daily habit, do you have any other daily habits that contribute to your success?

Ann: I do. And the biggest one for me is other than I look at every situation what can I learn from it versus why this is making me frustrated, angry or happy.  I believe that there is an opportunity every day to do something kind without getting recognition for it. It, research, there is so much, I hate it when people say well if you look at the research, I can tell you that there are a number of studies that have been done around how you get your internal happiness, and one of the best ways is to, an act of kindness expecting nothing in return.  So I seek it out every day, one of the easiest ones for me in Las Vegas and probably in a lot of communities, there are a lot of people who are less fortunate than us. I drive every day, and I give money to anyone on any street corner who’s asking for it.

And my husband initially would say to me, you know that that’s probably someone who is going to fill in the blank. Whatever your negative thought can be about it. And my response was, if one out of ten of the people I give this money to is using it in a way that I would not find helpful it beneficial I think that’s a pretty good percentage. So these are names of people unfortunate and if that’s not possible I find a way to do a kind of for someone in my office for some a friend. I’m on a number of non-profit boards which allows me the opportunity to find a way to assist again, without expecting anything in return. It actually increases all of the feel-good chemicals in your system are released when you do that, the same chemicals that are released when we fall in love or we eat chocolate. Oddly enough, when our phone vibrates, when we get likes on our things that we post, it’s all the same chemical reaction.

So an unexpected act of kindness, expecting nothing in return, is a daily habit that I have.

Kathy: Well boy there’s a habit that gives you the feel good chemical and it’s not chocolate, my gosh.

Ann: Right there’s no calories exactly.

Kathy: Well thank you for sharing those daily habits Ann. They’re not only good for you and for us to learn but they’re good for others, you share your kindness with. Very nice. Let’s talk about the internet and social media and communication. You’re a communications specialist and you’re sharing. Great thoughts with us. So thank you very much. These are really great lessons that we’re learning here today. With social media and communication rapidly changing, do you have a favorite marketing or communication innovation and how are you using it?

Ann: We do have a favorite innovation and it’s going to sound counter intuitive to current technology. We look at social media trends to identify what our next opportunity is for providing something to our clients before they ask for it. We use Social media and communication, certainly for awareness about us, and also more importantly for efficiency. We don’t solve problems via email, we don’t solve problems via text or Twitter. It’s just not possible to do problem resolution, or problem solving. There’s certainly a way to confirm what we agree to solve via email, via text, via Twitter.

And so two things that we do is that we look for trends on social media, what are the things that people are complaining the most about, what are the things that people are most excited about in their business world, and it’s sad for me that one of the things that is out there most frequently right now and we are working on is how to help people get along better in the workplace, how to just be nice. And I will tell you a lot of those come from these requests from clients to do investigations, people just, is there a training class for people just to be nice to each other? One of the ways to do that and it’s unfortunate, is to stop using social media, stop using Twitter, stop using email and instead pick up the phone or get up out of your chair and go and talk to someone.

And people are very different when they are talking face to face than they are on social media. I absolutely love and adore being able to keep up to date with friends and family via social media. I love being able to see people, women and men, demonstrate pride in accomplishments that they have on social media. It’s great to be able to acknowledge them in a very efficient manner, well done, congratulations on your new job, also to be able to connect people through LinkedIn for jobs that my company does not charge for recruitment.

There are a lot of great recruiters out there. We just don’t do that. It never started out as a great marketing ploy. But because people know we don’t charge, again there are a lot of great recruiters out there they have a different motivation for putting candidates in front of clients, and so our clients typically tell us first when they have positions open, and people know that if they’re looking for a job, we are very confidential and they send us their resumes first. So one of the ways we use LinkedIn especially, is to connect people that are looking for candidates with people that we would endorse. It’s not a small thing, in fact it’s a very big thing for us to put our name behind someone, to a client, because we know we’re putting our reputation on the line, so those are some of the ways we use social media.

I would also just make one request, that instead of believing what you read in 140 characters, dig a little bit deeper. Scratch beyond the surface. Do a little bit more investigation around topics that strike a chord in you, because there is a lot more information out there that is impossible to communicate in 140 characters.

Kathy: Right it’s the sound byte mentality isn’t it?

Ann: Yes and it’s also the narrowing of my world mentality, when I was growing up, those of you that can figure out my age, when I was growing up there were not as many radio stations or tv stations. So there was more of a breath of information that came to us. I would love that I can go to the 70s channels in my XM radio and listen to all the music that I grew up with. Ooh again I’m telling you my age.

Kathy: That was a clue.

Ann: That I can listen to all that and have all of these wonderful memories. But because I’m able to narrow down my. Exposure to just things that I already believe, I’m limited and a conversation with someone that has the opposite belief for me it’s not as likely to happen. I really encourage people to seek out that person that you most wildly disagree with, and have a conversation with them, see if it’s face to face, you feel differently than what they’re posting on social media, or what they’re sending out in their twitter feed.

Kathy: Well that’s some great advice on how to use social media at to communicate. And really sometimes to just get up off of your chair and go talk to somebody in person. I believe in that too. I’ll pick up the phone. Email sometimes I say if it takes more than two emails back and forth then you just need to have a conversation. It has to be face at that time.

Ann: We have a three email rule in our company, if I sent you an email and you send me one back that’s one. I send you a second one and you send me one back that’s two. If my third email is anything other than thank you, got it, we’re on the same page, I have to pick up the phone or go see you. We totally recommend that for our customers, and many of them have instituted no email Fridays.

When they first initiate it, you’d think that somebody cut off their arm or something. But what they found is that morale has improved, people are colliding it’s a Tony Shay reason in and collisions that I’m walking through the hallway to go talk to someone because I don’t have email, I’m running into someone else that I meant to talk to you about this. So those incidental collisions become a great way to build relationships. [LAUGH]

Kathy: That’s great.  I love that no email Friday. So, what is the meant? Tell us a little bit more about that.

Ann: The company shuts down the email server. >>

Kathy: So, I can’t communicate with the people I work with? I can still Communicate with clients by email or not?

Ann: No, clients can still email you and it goes into a queue. There are a number of different ways to implement this. The one that, that client, that loves it the most is that they disable the email server. Now that doesn’t mean client’s can’t email you, they receive a message saying we are on no email Friday. If this is urgent please call me at, or call my assistant at, and they say that first of all it has improved productivity. That was a shocker for me, people schedule some of their group meetings and some of their most crucial types of initiatives, they schedule meetings. And so it’s very difficult to get a conference room at this client’s office on Friday, and it’s interesting because now they’ve started doing things like it’s no email Friday but it’s definitely donut Friday. So I’ll bring the donuts to the meeting. And having that social interaction that is different than an email communication.

Anecdotally, I haven’t done any research on it, but anecdotally I can tell you that our clients that have implemented it, love it… and it’s an adjustment though, it is an adjustment.

Kathy: Boy I love that and I’m gonna give that a try. I don’t know maybe I’ll have no email hour, start with that.

Ann: Yeah start small, baby steps, that’s good. Yeah.

Kathy: That’s great. So, Ann, you are a business owner and you’ve been in business for a long time. What kind of obstacles and challenges are you addressing for 2018? And what advice do you have for our listeners?

Ann: Well the economy’s improving and HR and constructions have experienced the downturn and upturn before and I would say financing also, banking institutions. My husband’s in banking construction and I’m in HR. We, we saw this picking up about 9 months ago, and so we started adding people to our teams at that point, managing growth. It, so I believe it’s Tony Robbins that says we’re gonna have problems ’til the day we die. We’re looking for better quality problems. So while it’s a good quality problem to have, that we’re growing, it is still a challenge. Every time you add one person into a relationship such as a business environment, you go through forming, storming, norming, and performing all of the ormings of a new business. But you also go through relationship multiplication, so you do a factorial If you have three people in your company, the factorial is 1 times 2, that’s 2, 2 times 3 is 6. Add one more person to that group, 6 times 4 is 24. So you have 24 different communication lines. And we have been growing at a pace that takes that factorial even more expanded. So being able to maintain our standards, being able to maintain our reputation as under promising and over delivering. Being able to communicate everything that comes so naturally to the people who have been with the company for a long time. Not assuming. Doing a very intense and long term structured on boarding orientation.

And because I’m going through it and my husband’s going through it, he gets the benefit of the free HR consultant. And all of the same things that we’re going through, he’s doing the same. Definitely, one thing that I will just advise to anyone who is listening to this, if you have someone that applies for a job that is overqualified on their resume that is the first person you should interview. Even if they don’t last more than six months a or a year, you gain all of that knowledge, all of that experience. And often times people that are over-qualified for jobs. Are passed over and they just want to work. And in some cases, they’re willing to take a step back in salary or title to be in a culture where they don’t risk being made redundant or being laid off. And they don’t want the stress of those positions. And some of the most frequent advice that we are giving to people right especially going into the next 12 – 18 months where you are going to start to see salaries rise.

We are heading into the perfect storm. The economy is improving. 10,000 boomers a day are retiring and we do not have 10,000 people a day entering the workforce. The economy’s improving, 10,000 boomers a day that are retiring, and the millennials, the younger generations, not just millennials, younger generations that are willing to take more risks in jobs because there are more jobs out there, there are fewer people than there are jobs. Hire overqualified people, it’s the best advice I can give anyone who’s hiring right now.

Kathy: Well that sounds like there’s some good quality problems ahead for 2018.

Ann: Yes.

Kathy: And it’s great, it’s growth. And it’s scaling your business and it’s highlighting the right people, and it’s actually great to hear that there’s some over qualified candidates out of there. And I’ve never really thought of that. I like the way you put that. Even if you hire them and they don’t stay long, you’ve still gained a lot of knowledge from them. And that’s one of the things we’re always looking when we’re recruiting people. We’re trying to think what are they gonna teach us? We know what we’re gonna teach them, we have a list of things. So I think that’s really good advice to think about hiring the over-qualified. Sometimes that’s a little scary. Let’s talk about mentoring, I’d love to hear your thoughts on mentoring and what it’s meant to you and specifically do you have any lessons that you’ve learned personally and how you’ve applied those?

Ann: So I mentioned my two mentors prior, I believe that I’ve had dozens of mentors and I didn’t even realize they were mentors. People who gave me some tough feedback, and people who gave me positive feedback about what I was doing well, and what they would suggest I continue doing. I think the lesson that I’ve learned is that unless you’ve asked someone for an informational interview or can I pick your brain on something I know you have experience or background on, you never know if they’re gonna say no. And while I think men are more natural at asking.

Can I ask you about this, can you help me understand this? Women are getting better at saying I want to find some resources that can help me. So although mentor-ship you may consider it a formal relationship, it’s really more about helping share knowledge, and I have not, I can not think of a time when I’ve asked someone, stranger- someone that I’ve seen that that I’ve admired I’m gonna take a big risk and reach out to Renee Brown and see if she will assist me with something. So I would say take the risk and ask. All they can say is no and you’ve lost nothing in the ask. So that would be my best advice is make the ask.

Kathy: That’s great advice. And I encourage you to give Renee Brown a call because I bet she’ll help you.

Ann: I’m counting on that.

Kathy: Ann, I want to ask you something about go red for women. I know you were part of that event in Las Vegas recently. And I’m curious to know what your key message was to the audience.

Ann: So many women are first going to take care of others before they take care of themselves and will ignore signs or will not schedule that appointment for a checkup. And last November I was made aware of the calcium scan that is something that was recommended by the doctor that spoke at go red for women. I’m gonna tell you a personal story and if I get emotional I’m sorry. I was told, someone else advised me last November that you and your husband really ought to go and get this calcium scan. And my husband has history of heart disease in his family. Had a physical, and got all high marks on the physical, and I became the worse nag on the planet and said look I’ve now heard this so many times, I’ve been prepping for the go red for women, I’ve seen it again and a week after the go red for women event he actually had that scan.

And we found that he has a 70% blockage.

Kathy: My goodness.

Ann: In an artery that is also known as the widow maker. So I will tell you that learning about something often causes you to become more aware of something that will impact your life. And if there was ever a time that I am thankful that I volunteered to do something and if ever there was a time I thought I was a perpetual nag, it is this, we have caught it in time, according to all the doctors he will be okay. And there is.. You just- learning about something new and believing in something and providing that recommendation or, in my case, nagging. Well, I know for sure has extended the time I’ll have with my husband.

Kathy: Well thank you for sharing that personals story. It’s so important and I think it’s part of your brand. Your brand of giving back in your daily habit of doing something nice for people, I mean the volunteerism that you bring to your business is so important and look how it gave back to you, too.

Ann: Right. My husband will say part of my brand is a constant nag, but that’s just his life he gets to live with that.

Kathy: Well lucky for him that you are. That’s wonderful and I think that that’s a tribute to the Go Red for Women events because it brings to light some of these things that working women as you say, we’re always providing for other people and we’re so busy that we do have to stop and take care of ourselves and definitely the ones we love the most too. Well you’ve been such a fantastic resource for us. I usually ask for any podcast or books that you recommend and you gave us a bunch already.

I don’t know if you have any other resources or advice that you would wanna give to women that wanna get into business. You are a successful business woman and a great example for us all to look up to. Any last words of advice that you’d like to give?

Ann: I think the only thing I would say is be prepared to engage with people. Take the phone call or the meeting. When I first moved to Las Vegas 22 years ago I was shocked at how many people didn’t return my phone call. I realize that people are busy, I just made a commitment to myself that anybody that called me, anybody that emailed me I would respond to even if that response was, sorry I can’t help you. I have kept that commitment that I return phone calls, I return emails, and people are often so shocked that I return the phone call and emails, and a very quick, thank you we don’t have a need for your product or thank you I’m not interested. I will tell you that I have delegated some of those to my assistant. We practice how I would like her to respond. Because there’s only so many hours in the day.

But I would recommend that you reach out. A number of clients have come through us simply being the only people who called them back. So that’s really the only advice that I would give.

Kathy: Well I think it’s great advice. And I actually wanna thank you because I did reach out to you and I saw you speak and you were so captivating and dynamic and so generous with your presentation to the women in the audience. I thought that is the kind of person that I wanna surround myself with. So I wanted to have you on the podcast and so I reached out to you, and you were very generous to be a guest, and so I wanna thank you very much.

Ann: It was truly my pleasure, thank you.

Kathy: It was great talking to you Ann and we’ll see you on the other side, thanks.

Ann: Look forward to it. Thank you.

 

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