Lead Through Strengths
Engage Employees Through Strengths - With Grace Laconte

From Grace, you’ll learn:


  • Knowing You’re In Your Strengths Zone.
    What it’s like when you feel the “high” of using your natural talents and getting a literal paycheck to show you that you’re moving in the right direction.
  • When Your Strengths Are Opposite Of Someone Else’s.
    What to do when you have a talent of sparking ideas and projects, yet your constant ideas and activation of new projects drives your team crazy. In her case, she realized that her employees needed things she wouldn’t naturally bring. She gives great examples of how she listened deeply to understand what her employees needed.
  • Noticing Other People’s Strengths At Work.
    How to notice other people’s needs, even when you don’t consider yourself a great relator.
  • Full Openness Between Employee And Manager.
    Whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing to talk about other job opportunities with your current employees.
  • When People Are Grumbling About Work.
    How to consider what you could do differently on the team to impact this phenomenon.
  • Engagement Driving Turnover.
    Why turnover happens at a high % and great expense—and how your employee retention practices may not be getting the results you want. Grace shared this study that shows how people leave for reasons very different from what execs believe.

In this study, it showed that people leave because of:

  • Relationships — With supervisor and among colleagues
  • Staffing — Under staffing, disorganized processes, and inequitable assignments
  • Personal Reasons — Lack of recognition and respect, burnout, unreasonable job demands, and limited promotional opportunities

Grace shared her Top Five StrengthsFinder Talent Themes: Focus, Activator, Ideation, Input, Futuristic. If you want to explore your Clifton StrengthsFinder Talent Themes, you should check out the show called Theme Addicts. Grace is a co-host on that show.


You can also find Grace on her company website, on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Direct download: 021-Grace-Laconte.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 4:57pm CDT

This Episode's Focus On Strengths
Mike Ganino joins us to help you lead through your strengths at work. You'll find this episode especially useful if you manage a team and you're trying to create a better culture at work--one that your customers can feel too. You'll also love this episode if you're fun and you like people who are intelligent and charismatic at the same time. That's Mike!

What You'll Learn
Mike shares wisdom on:

  • How to create a culture change, even when you’re sitting around on milk crates with no budget or corporate support.
  • Influencing what happens in moments of truth between employees and customers. You can do this by creating an environment that helps each person bring their best performance to work. It’s using their individual strengths to get the experience you want for your customers and employees.
  • How to improve customer service without writing employee manuals and memos that say things like “you need to smile” - because making employees force a smile is just weird.
  • Viktor Frankl “Man’s Search For Meaning” - Mike shares this nugget about Frankl being able to, in the darkest of humanity (a reference to his experience in concentration camps),  act intentionally with the energy you bring to the team.
  • Owning it. When you’re managing a team, it’s your team. You get to choose how you run your meeting. You get to decide whether to do it like everyone else, or to change some simple things so you can lead through your strengths. And in doing that, you can help your employees lead through theirs too.
  • Meetings. He offers a tip to wrap up your meetings with one minute of appreciation. Just one minute. Do small things to change the temperature of the room. When you take time to notice what works, your team members will know what you want to see more of and they can give it to you.
  • Doing more of what allows you to use your natural talents. That way, you’re building a personal brand. You’re getting known for work you love and you’re great at. That creates a virtuous circle for you because you end up getting more work that reflects what you’re great at.
  • Live into your strengths and change your entire career trajectory by doing more of what you want to be doing.
  • Applying this concept in non-corporate work environments (this is where people like to tell me that working from strengths won’t work in their industry). Mike shares a story with contrast where you’ll see that you don’t have to stop your expectations at, “I wish they’d stop coming in late because they’re hung over.” He used these techniques to transform restaurant cultures.
  • The magical properties of applied improvisation. Mike and I are both big fans, students, and users of improv. He gives great pointers for using it in professional development, employee interviews, and even coaching and feedback.
Resource of the Episode
Check out the Viktor Frankl book “Man’s Search For Meaning.” And grab Mike's coaching, feedback, and improv tips on mike.tips. You can also follow his ideas on Twitter or Instagram.
Remember, using your strengths at work makes you a stronger performer. If you’re focused on fixing your weaknesses, you’re choosing the path of most resistance. So claim your talents. Then share them with the world. And help your team do the same!
Direct download: Mike-Ganino-020.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:00am CDT

Steal The Show In Your Next Presentation At Work - With Michael Port

This Episode's Focus On Strengths

Michael Port joins us to help you lead through your strengths in all of the performances in your corporate life. You'll find this especially useful if you give presentations, if you're interviewing for a job, or if you're delivering a speech in front of others.


What You'll Learn
You'll see how working with a performer's mindset will boost your career. Michael shares wisdom on:

  • How doing everything yourself will keep you from progressing in your career.
  • Why you should never say "I'm happy to be here" or "let's get started" before you begin a talk.
  • Connecting with the audience before the presentation to change the dynamic in a way that makes them want to have your back.
  • Why natural talents without your investment and training...well, they're not doing you any good.
  • How to be self-expressed, yet also able to flow from situation to situation with fluency. And why being a chameleon is actually being authentic.
  • Learn why winging it in your next corporate presentation is a terrible idea, even if you're naturally gifted at thinking on your feet.
  • How Stealing The Show is different from upstaging a teammate. Instead, Stealing The Show is making the whole show better for all of the performers involved.
  • If you have jitters before speaking in front of people, he gives you some tips for focusing more on your audience rather than focusing on yourself and your anxiety. It actually takes the pressure off of you and allows you to get out of your own way.
  • For job interviews, he offers you strategies for knowing what role the interviewer is trying to cast. And you'll even learn how to position yourself for a role you're less qualified in because you can contrast the "old way" of doing that role with the "new way" that puts you in a favorable light.
  • Start your presentation-preparation with the audience in mind--to show them you know the world they're living in.
  • How not asking for help will make you a mediocre performer.
  • Secrets that usually only actors know--that they're not pretending to feel what you see on screen. They're actually feeling it. And that's what you need to do when you're presenting.
  • Why "yes, and" lessons from improv will boost your career.
  • And why you don't want to be the devil's advocate at work.


Resource of the Episode

You'll read Steal The Show and you'll want more of Michael. It's a bit addicting. So here are his other books:

Remember, using your strengths at work makes you a stronger performer. If you’re focused on fixing your weaknesses, you’re choosing the path of most resistance. So claim your talents. And share them with the world.
Read the full conversation:

Lisa Cummings: Today you will experience a guest who is using his strengths in spades. Michael Port is joining me today to talk about stealing the show at your next job interview or corporate presentation and you might notice that the phrase ‘steal the show’ sounds a little bit like something an entertainer would do and it is, so Michael beautifully blends this experience he has as an actor with the business world in a way I don't think the business world has seen before. You guys might have seen him on Sex in the City or Law and Order or movies like the Pelican Brief and then in the business world you might be familiar with his marketing system “Book Yourself Solid” or speaker training called Heroic Public Speaking. And let me tell you guys, he is living the idea of using your strengths at work. So, speaking of that, Michael, can you talk a little bit about discovering work that just looks so natural on you when someone else sees it? I dare I say it kind of looks like you're living out your calling.

Michael Port: I think that I've always worked in the areas that I'm strong because the areas that I'm weak in are really weak. I'm not kidding. One of the reasons that this idea of working within your strengths were so powerful to me early in my career is because I’m very dyslexic. Growing up I had a hard time with the systems that were presented in school. So the way things were taught didn't always make sense to me. I still can't spell to save my life. I have to ask my girlfriend how something is spelled, you know, the most basic things that I've written. But as of this show, I have written sixth books, which just goes to show you that you don't actually need to know how to spell it to write. And I got very, very good at identifying things I needed help with and developing relationships with people that could help me with those things.

Michael Port: And this is important because what I have experienced is those who think that they need to do everything themselves have a hard time progressing in their career because they don't rely on other people or call for help from other people when they need it. So they end up mediocre in a number of different areas and the areas in which they could be exceptional, you know, they end up mediocre as well because they're not spending as much time in those areas. So for me as a performer, I had a natural talent for performing. And so I went to graduate school and got a master's at enacting at the Grad acting program at NYU and I did have to craft a set of skills that would allow me to exploit those talents because I think without training, talents are just talents; with training talents become a craft. Michael Cain, the wonderful actor says something to the effect of “Whether I have talent or not is not an issue, I’m a professional actor with a craft.”

And that I think is something that we should all consider that it should have. Mastery with respect to skills is so important and it’s really helpful to focus on the areas where we're strong. The thing that's tricky for some people is that they need to present. They need to present themselves in job interviews, in promotional situations, interviews and trying to go in and get the job or get the job promotion, sales pitches, and leading meeting, etc.

Lisa Cummings: So, let’s focus on meeting and corporate presentations on

Michael Port: Sure. So the issue is, you know, some people feel that they are naturally gifted, that “I can wing it.” I go in and, or go give her a speech or presentation. I'll just quick on my feet. No problem. Others go nerve and said, “I don't know what to say. Uh, I'm, I'm kind of stiff.”

Michael Port: And both of those groups face their own challenges. Let's start with the group that thinks that they have something special first; that group can get by and more often than not they end up average when they could be exceptional because they think that they are naturally talented, so they don't prepare. They don't spend much time rehearsing. They wing it. And when I meet somebody who's like that and I call them on it. I said, listen, you're not preparing, are you? You're just going and winging it. (and they say) “Yeah”. and I think you could be usually you can be better, don't you?
I think, oh my god, you know, I figured, you know, I'm thinking on my feet. I can; I can charm the audience. And I was okay. I was fine, maybe even good, but until I really focused on rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing until I focused on rehearsing, I wasn't great and then that's when I became great when I put in the time because the work that you put into preparing for your meetings or for your interviews, that's what's most important and then of course staying in the moment during those meetings and interviews, it's not, you know, if we think we're going to rise to the occasion, we may actually fall flat.

Michael Port: We generally don't rise to the occasion. Rather we fall back on our training

Lisa Cummings: and it's a perfect example of your, what you said about investing in your talents and then you turn it into a craft by rehearsing, by putting the practice in.

Michael Port: Absolutely. So anytime we have a meeting that we need to lead or an interview that we want to net. We want to make sure that we can demonstrate to the people in the room is that we know what the world looks like to them. That's very important that we start there because if we don't start there, they may not think we understand that, so they need to know that we understand that, so we always start with the way the world looks to them right now. Then we make sure that they know the promise that we're making, the promise that is inherit, is built into the meeting or the interview so that if they follow your lead, this is what will occur and they need to know the consequences of what will happen if they don't, if they don't achieve this promise, if they don't realize this promise, what are the consequences? How bad are they? And what do the rewards look like if they do?

Lisa Cummings: And gave you some urgency when you combine those together?

Michael Port: Absolutely. Act and urgency is such an important part of getting anything done, you know, moving forward in any way. Do we have urgency? So what does the world look like? What's the promise that you're making to them? What are the consequences of not following through on this and what are the rewards of following through on this?

Lisa Cummings: It also sounds like that could be a strategy for that person who doesn't feel like they were born with jazz hands to dazzle and have charisma and they're a little more shy or they're nervous in front of audiences and they're saying, hey, come on Michael, you do this for a living. I'm totally uncomfortable in the spotlight. What do I do? It sounds like you go to apply what you just said to relate one to one and then build from there. What else do you offer that person?

Michael Port: First of all, I’m nervous all the time, anyone who cares about what they're doing, maybe a little bit nervous, and often I hear advice to people that get nervous and don't think that they're naturally talented. They suggest that they focus on their breathing or that you a physical warm-up, relax a little bit. Those are great. Those are really important things to do. Get your instrument ready to perform, but here's the thing, the more that you focus on yourself, more internal you get before you present, often the more anxious you will be because you're thinking about you and how you look and how you're going to do when in fact, if you focus on the audience and what you're going to help them with, what you're going to do for them; if you focus on their needs, their desires, their goals, then you take the pressure off of yourself and it no longer is about you. It's about them and if it's about them, you get out of your own way and you are less likely to be as anxious.

Lisa Cummings: That's one of those tips that sounds so obvious when you hear it, yet people don't do it and I see you do one thing masterfully that they could use, which is before you give a speech, you're out there relating one to one, to people in the audience so that they're not the big scary monster when they're. When you're up on stage, how do you go about that and how would you recommend doing that for someone who is trying to shake the stage fright and have a personal connection with the audience?

Michael Port: If I give a speak at a convention center to 6,000 people, most people who are listening to probably not giving those kinds of speeches, so if you're giving a presentation to a room full of five people or 50 people want to try to shake the hand of every person in the room, look them in the eye, smile, make a connection before you present to them for a couple of reasons. One, it may relax you because you feel like you've gotten to know them. Two, they feel that they know you and they are going to give you more of themselves right from the beginning because if you are someone who they don't have a relationship, then they are more likely to sit back, cross their arms and say, all right, let me see what you got. But if they've shaken your hand, talk to you for just a few seconds. Even look me in the eye, smiled. They already feel an obligation towards you. Feel an obligation to you to listen to you right off the bat. Now if you don't serve them throughout the presentation, then they may sit back and cross their arms and go, hi, come on. But if you're focusing on them throughout and the promise that we're going to deliver to them, then it's likely that they will.

Lisa Cummings: I could see that they want to have your back. If you've had a conversation, you have a different relationship with them just straight away.

Michael Port: Of course they do. If they are going to sit there and listen to you, they'd much rather enjoy themselves than be bored. I mean, isn't that the case? Of course there's always somebody who just wants to be oppositional, but most people want to have a good time. So they want you to do a great job. I want you to serve that and they want you to have fun doing it. So here's the thing. Often people will start a presentation by saying, I'm really happy to be here. Really excited to be here, but I don't think you need to say that. I think you can just actually show them that you're happy to be there because, what's the alternative to being happy to be there? That you're really pissed that you're there. So just show that there's a lot of things that we often say at the beginning of the speech that is just filler and it actually makes the presenter to look weak. For example, they may you here present presenter say, all right, let's get started. Well, it started as soon as they saw you. It started even before if somebody introduced you with a Bio. So as soon as you're introduced, it's already started. So any filler that you might do, you can cut and get right to the heart of the matter.

Lisa Cummings: Everything's an interview. You're always on stage at work. People are watching you a year before you decide to apply for the job and then you walk into a room where you're giving a presentation and eyes are on you very keenly because you’re the one who was about to deliver a message. It's a really great thing to think about that; people are always assessing. That's just what we do to discern as humans.

Michael Port: Chapter three - in Steal the Show is about playing the right role, every situation. So this is specifically geared for people that need to perform in lots of different situations, not on a stage necessarily, but inside your organization you may need to play different roles with different people. Some people are superior in terms of their position, a supervisor, some people are subordinate, and you are a sort of, as a leader for some people are on the same pay scale, so to speak. Sometimes you have to deal with folks in the mailroom. Sometimes you have to deal with folks in the marketing department. Sometimes you have to deal with folks in the accounting department. Sometimes you have to deal with folks in the sales department and each department may have different culture, different sensibility, different types of personalities. And we've got to be able to move through all of these environments very comfortably.

Michael Port: And if we learn how to play the role that is the right role for that situation, well, then we can excel because the people in those other environments, they feel more comfortable with you. They feel you get that. You understand that. And folks who are comfortable adopting different styles of behavior, playing different roles in different situations, often excel more quickly than those who only have one style of behavior, who are overly true to self. Now listen closely because this may seem like a confrontational idea, people like that because it seems like it's an authentic thing to do. However, if you are so true to yourself, you cannot easily flow from one situation to the next with different types of people where you need to play different roles. Then you generally get left out of those situations, but if you are chameleon like, then you are generally invited to more environments, more situations with different types of people. Now, here's the thing. The reason this is often confronting us, people say, yeah, that seems inauthentic, Michael. It seems like you know, a chameleon changes their colors depending on the environment that they're in. That's not authentic, but if you think about it, a chameleon is a hundred percent authentic. When an actual chameleon is at a green leaf? it actually turns green. It's not pretending to turn green. It has actually turned agree. If it is on a red leaf? It's actually turning red. It's not pretending to turn red, so It is absolutely authentic.

Lisa Cummings: It's just a part. It's revealing.

Michael Port: So you're amplifying. What you're doing is amplifying different parts of your personality so that you fit comfortably into these different situations.

Lisa Cummings: It's perfectly aligned with what I talk about in strengths is there's a raw version and a mature version of your strengths and if you're mature enough in that strength and you've really invested in that talent, then when you show up, you can decide which strength to lead with based on the environment you're in so that you can show up your best and show your red when you need red and show your green when you need green.

Michael Port: Exactly. Green is not called for in that situation or might make trouble for you, leave the green at home. Right? You know, sometimes you know, we walk around with a chip on our shoulders and want to make sure that everybody knows how we feel about every little thing and in fact that can be very counterproductive inside the corporate world because you may create conflict inadvertently, but you may create conflict based on some of the ideas you have or worldview or ways you feel about different situations that aren't really necessary to bring it up all the time. Now, I'm not saying in any way, shape or form that you should not be true to your values.

Michael Port: This is important to me. Integrity is an essential fabric of my way of being that we should be true to our values, but this idea of being true to yourself in such a way that it creates rigidity? Well, that's a problem and that's very different than saying, you know what? I'm not going to jump over that fence into a place that says no trespassing because it's a nuclear waste site. Even if that's supposed to help my career, I'm not going to do. That's being true to your values. Here's the thing, just because you have a different value system doesn't mean you have to share it all the time.

Lisa Cummings: It's such an important distinction because if it's really hot right now to talk about authenticity and authenticity is important, yet the definition of it is very loose. It depends on who you are and what you believe about it and I do hear a lot of people equate authenticity with sharing everything that comes to the tip of their tongue at every moment and that might be a really bad career move.

Michael Port: I'm with you 100 percent. This buzzword as I just hear, authenticity, authenticity, authenticity and authenticity and yes, I think has become a problem because it means to some people like, hey, let me tell you about my date last night, man, she was hot. That is not something that needs to be discussed in the break room at the table. So that kind of authenticity is not called for, and this is performance. this one I'm talking about, like Shakespeare said, all the world's a stage and I think he hit the nail right on the head because what you share with people tells them something about you, and this is not just performance, is not just about speaking in front of people. Performance is about the way you walked into the break. Do you walk in with your head down looking at the floor or do you walk in with your shoulders back and your chest open and a big smile on your face that is performance and you're playing a role, but this is, you know, it's performance and the question is, are you the kind of performer that says yes to people and plays well with others and is part of an ensemble or are you the kind of performer that upstages people and stealing the show and upstaging people is very different.

Michael Port: Stealing the show, it means that you have brought something to others that is extraordinary. That's special and what it does is it makes the whole show better, but it's not upstaging anybody else. Upstaging is trying to purposely hinder somebody else's performance. You've never going to do that.

Lisa Cummings: I appreciate having the difference there because someone not familiar with the term may have thought, oh, that's, I don't know that I want to steal the show from someone. So you're very good to have the distinction. Now, here's a situation where maybe somebody thinks they should and I don't think so, but what about job interviews that gets people in a very competitive mindset. So I've loved hearing your perspective on competition and how that works. So what do's and don'ts would you suggest for stealing the show with a potential employer and they're just learning as much as they can about them, but they don't know as much as they would in a regular work environment where they've been an employee.

Michael Port: Competition is fantastic, but not when you compete with others, you know, competition is something that drives us. And the question is, are you competitive in such a way that you are knocking other people down or are you competitive in such a way that you want to produce more because you're urgent, you have urgency and hopefully so when you're in a job interview situation, you want to look at what role are they trying to cast, this is important, what role are they trying to cast and how would you play that role? For example, when I left acting, the first interview I had was for a middle management position at a fitness club and I wanted to be the group exercise manager. I was teaching a spinning class because I raced bikes and that was a fun thing to do and I taught the class once a week, but I absolutely no experience in group exercise management whatsoever.

Michael Port: I didn't tell any of the certifications that were required for that job. So I said, well, it doesn't seem like I have what they're asking for to play this role but let me see what I have done in my past that I could use to demonstrate that I could play this role. And I identified the way the role is currently played and then I crafted the way that I thought the role could be played better. So, for example, the way that they played this role currently is they would hire the top instructors in fitness to be the managers, which I didn't think turned out that well because they weren't necessarily managers. It was a different skill-set. So I presented the idea that the role should be cast with somebody that has management skill and understands performance and creating theatrical experiences. And they said, hmm, I hadn't thought about it that way.

Michael Port: And I said, look, if you look at the managers that you have now in this particular department, you'll notice that there are payroll issues. People don't always get paid what they should when they should. There are often scheduling issues, dropped classes and they're often human resource issues. And I knew this because I had been teaching a class and I said, I think this is because the folks who are running these departments don't have experience in management. And I said that I have experienced because I was producing plays and tv commercials when I was acting and so I said, look, I understand budgeting, I understand production. I understand casting, which of course is important part of which is hiring and let me demonstrate why this will translate to what you have to do here. I also understand about creating theatrical experiences and all of these different classes should be theatrical experiences. That's what makes them so compelling to the members. I know I don't have this certification or that certification, but if you need them, I can get them in short order and guess what? They took a chance on me and within a short period of time, six months, in fact, I was running the division for the entire company throughout the country

Lisa Cummings: It ties so beautifully with what you were talking about where you thought all about them. It's all about the audience. What do they care about? What are they trying to achieve? And you tied that into productivity for the company and then you linked into your strengths and leaned in on what you're great at and what you could offer. So the two things came together perfectly.

Michael Port: Exactly right. One of those developing this character to play this role. I didn't pretend those anything other than I was. That's the key. When you go in for job interview, if you pretend you are anything other than you are, that's when you're inauthentic. That's when you're faking this role and a great performer never fakes their role. The most authentic performance in the world, the best performers in the world are the most authentic performers in the world. And often the most authentic performers in the world are the most authentic people. So if you look at actors like Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, these are honest performers. One of the reasons you love watching them is because they seem so real and they are real. They don't pretend to be feeling what they're feeling when they are having an emotional experience. They are actually feeling that, which is why you feel it.

Michael Port: And so you don't want to pretend that you're, that you are somebody that you're not. You want to go in there and leverage what you have to turn it into what you want so you can play lots of different roles as long as you can see, take your strengths and the things that you've done and figure out a way to apply them to this new situation. And that is role play. That in part is also improvisation because you are responding to what is coming at you in the moment. So people often ask about preparation and say, well, you know, if I prepare too much, then I feel like, you know, I'm on, I'm going to be stiff. You know, how much should I prepare? And I say, you should prepare more than you think you should prepare. You know, if I asked somebody if they've rehearsed, you know, before they give a presentation and say, oh yeah, I went over to the hotel room a few times before I get it.

Michael Port: That's not rehearsal. But one of the reasons that we are afraid of the rehearsals because we think we're going to get stuck in the patterns or in the exact process or protocol that we rehearsed in our presentation and that is only because we are not in the moment during that presentation or during that interview, but if you're so well prepared that you can throw out what you've prepared before you walk into the room and stay in the moment, then everything that you worked on, other thing that you prepared will come to you naturally and organically in that moment and if what we prepared doesn't apply to what's actually happening in the moment, because sometimes interviewers will throw things at you that you did not expect, you won't get stuck. You won't feel like you're trying to draw on something that you prepared even though it doesn't fit to the situation at hand. But rather you're in the moment and you're answering by saying “yes and” which is an important improper technique. We don't say no. We always say yes, and you try to come up with a response that is honest and organic to that situation.

Lisa Cummings: What a way to whet the appetite. I'm big on improv. I take improv classes and love them.

Michael Port: The second part of Steal the Show, introduce the performance principals, specifically principals that performers use to steal the show and how each of those principles can be used in everyday life for the nonactive, for real regular person and one of them is the principle of saying “yes and” which is what's something you learned on shore and improv class because if I'm doing, if you and I are doing an improv scene and you walk in the in the room were on the stage and say, oh my god, I broke my leg. I'm in so much pain. And I say, no, no, no, you're fine. You're fine. It just it's over. this scene is done. But obviously, oh my god, that's terrible. But you know what they said your hair looks fantastic and you say, I know it's because I was at the hair salon was getting a haircut.

Then I colored my hair that you show the chemicals. I fell out of the chair, fell down, broke my leg. Well, now we've got somewhere to go. So saying yes, it says an important part of improvisation and so when you're in a meeting and somebody comes up with an idea that you're not crazy about, the default response is, yeah, but we got to worry about this as opposed to yes, and we can also think about this, and it changed the dynamic of the relationship the entire. Because you're not saying no to people. You're saying yes ad and you will then talk about some of the issues that may come up, but it's not a no, it's a yes. And if everybody in the room says “yes and” rather than no, you will change the feeling in the room, which of course changes the collaborative spirit, which then changes the results. What you produce in that room. Because I'm not just a former actor who writes books about business and give speeches. I run two very, very competitive companies. Two of the top companies in the industry and you know, we employ lots of people. We have tens of thousands of clients and customers around the world and we run our businesses the same way that we would work in an ensemble if we were performers and I have detailed all of that in Steal the Show.

Lisa Cummings: It's such a beautiful tip and we can turn it into a challenge for the listener. So if you're a listener and you find yourself playing the devil's advocate all the time and meetings, challenge yourself for a week to get out there and instead say those two simple words, “yes and” make yourself follow on the sentence and build. Instead of breaking it down.

Michael Port: It's one of my rules. Listen, if anybody in an interview for our company says they like to be the devil's advocate, they're out. They're gone. It doesn't mean we want, “yes people”. The devil's advocate just likes being oppositional and I don't want people who like being oppositional. I love when people find holes in our theories and the things that we're working on. They say “yes and” I have an idea of how we can plug that hole, but the devil's advocate doesn't devil's advocate. Now there's a hole there. That's where the devil's advocate, that we call them the DA. We don't want any idea is in the room.

Lisa Cummings: Definitely using that one. That's great.

Michael Port: That's actually in the book. This whole concept of the devil's advocate and the DA.

Lisa Cummings: Who knew I was getting into that part. That's great. Well, dear readers, you might've guessed that the resource of the episode is Michael's book. The title is Steal the Show: from speeches to job interviews to deal closing pitches, how to guarantee a standing ovation for all the performances in your life. Michael, any other goodies you want to tell them about if they're interested in finding more about you because you know you write those books and they're like potato chips. Once you eat one, you're going to want another. So I'll link to all those in the show notes as well. Your other five bestselling titles.

Michael Port: That's fantastic. So stealtheshow.com. I've got lots of bonuses, free videos to watch on performance, lots of downloads, tips, cheat sheets, etc. So to stealtheshow.com, you can pick those up and of course buy the book, you'll love it. I promise.

Direct download: 019-michael-port.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:00am CDT

This Episode's Focus On Strengths
Ian Altman joined me to bust the myth that you're always selling ideas at work. In this episode, you'll see instead how you should stop trying to persuade and convince. Stop trying to push your solution. Stop focusing on your value. And start focusing on their problems. Start serving them from their perspective.

What You'll Learn
It's only after standing in their shoes that you can understand if you're a good fit anyway. You'll see how flipping your perspective can avert disaster and ensure results. Ian shares wisdom that will help you:

  • Present to senior executive in a way that feels relevant to them.
  • Understand the ancient, mythical creature called empathy.
  • Stop selling your ideas. Stop persuading. Stop trying to convince. He offers you a better way.
  • Get your customer to convince you that their issues are painful enough that they're worth solving.
  • Hear the song "Dancin' In The Streets" in your head for the rest of your day today.
  • Focus on fit--and whether you have solutions for problems your audience cares about.
  • Changing your finish line with clients to the results the other party is looking for rather than the moment you get your "yes".
  • Get more high-five-worthy moments with clients.
  • Find out why you should stop asking, "who else needs to be involved in this decision?"
  • Get a Quadrant more magic that the ones from Gartner: 1) Issue  2) Impact & Importance  3) Results 4) Others Impacted
  • Avoid feeling like you're making ATM transactions with your customer.
  • See how Ian grew and sold businesses that impressed even Dr. Evil.
Resource of the Episode
Check out the book Same Side Selling when you're ready to go deeper.
Read the Full Conversation:

Lisa Cummings: Today you're going to get tips for selling your ideas at work - and how to do that while using your strengths.

Lisa Cummings: If you've ever felt frustrated when the person you're trying to influence just doesn't get it and you feel totally stuck and things like arm wrestling and Roshambo are the only things you've come to as a way to end the stalemate. Well, if you've ever wished for it to be easier than that, you're going to love our guest today. Ian Altman is joining to help you sell your ideas at work. So I first met Ian at an event for public speakers and he reeled me right in. He has this really easy communication style. He fills up the room with his big old smile and intelligence and wit, and you can get a piece of this personality every week on Forbes. If you read his articles there and then there's a book, Same Side Selling his book is just excellent and although I'm not going to give it away for you here in the intro and spoil your read, I'll tell you that it will flip your views on a lot of things you've been taught your whole career. So after today's chat you'll see why people like Seth Godin and Dan Pink recommend Ian. So Ian, thanks for joining.

Ian Altman: Thanks, Lisa.

Lisa Cummings: Alrighty. And as you know, the show is all about exploring your natural talents, how to find them, how to leverage them, what it's like when you actually do that. So if you think back over your personal career, can you kick us off with just sharing one of your favorite peak experiences where you were personally selling your ideas at work? And you totally nailed it.

Ian Altman: I can probably think of more examples where I didn't nail it. And that's the thing that I think for most people to understand is that it's natural for us to stumble when we're trying to sell stuff. And I think that were way more successful when we're trying to solve things for other people and most people have a natural ability or natural strength to try and help solve challenges for other people. And this notion of selling becomes really uncomfortable. And so most of the experiences I look back on when we were really successful either selling things to clients or selling things internally, all we really trying to do with solving the underlying problem for somebody and sometimes they got paid for that. Sometimes we were just gaining adoption by other people and getting their buy-in to our ideas. But it mostly came down to helping the other person to understand how what we were really trying to do was help them.

Lisa Cummings: I really like that because people get so scared when I say, here's something like selling your ideas. Even if they're not thinking about themselves in a sales role, they get a little bit nervous with you flipping that around and just saying, hey look, you can get in the shoes of your customer and do something for the other person. Solve something for the other. You can actually totally nail it even when your whole approach is all about them.

Ian Altman: That's absolutely it. I mean, I think about, let's say you're an HR professional and HR professionals trying to convince the senior executive they should do something that's in the best interest of their business and usually the HR person feels like they're on this on unattainable mission to convince this person they should do something that the HR person knows is actually in the best interest of the business and what if instead they said, look, you know, I know we've been struggling with retention. I know I've been struggling to attract the right people and I've come up with some strategies that will help us do that better. Now all of a sudden, the senior executive says, Oh, well what? You should totally do that. Why didn't you start yesterday? But if you said, oh, here's this training program that I want to do, the senior executive business sitting around saying, man, I wonder if we can do more training, training and be good. If we just took all of the people were paying and had them spend dedicated time in a training session, that would be awesome. That's not what's going on, but if you can present your ideas in ways that get you and the other person on the same side trying to solve the same puzzle metaphorically, and obviously it leads to less adversarial tension because you're both trying to achieve the same thing.

Lisa Cummings: You have that concept in your book, right - the adversarial trap. If you applied it in your workplace, the same side thing would absolutely apply. How do they do more of that? How do they understand the other side so that they can be more influential with their ideas?

Ian Altman: Well, there's a concept that isn't new and I certainly didn't invent it called empathy and so and it sounds funny to mention that way, but usually what happens is we as professionals are so focused on what we're trying to accomplish, then it's easy for us to forget the other person's perspective. So for example, when I'm teaching people about sales and selling, what I always ask them is, “okay, so what do you think is going through your customer's mind right now? What do you think your customers thinking and feeling right now?” And the answer I usually get from salespeople is one of two answers. Either I have no idea or the compound I have no idea, and why would I care. The most in the most advanced people that people are the most successful? I say, what do you think your customers thinking at that moment? And they'll talk for 10 minutes about exactly what's going through their client's mind and you start to realize that the people who were most successful have that empathy. They can see themselves in their customers' shoes, in the other party's shoes. They know exactly how they're feeling and then their co building a plan to achieve success instead of, I'm here, let me force this on you. Oh, you don't like it? Maybe I'll say it louder and then that'll work and it just doesn't play out very well.

Lisa Cummings: Let's take the concept of empathy. Now that we're remembering that exists, right? And say, okay, they are beginning to plan for this conversation. They're going to focus on the fit and understand how to persuade the customer or future customer to do business with them. One thing I hear people feel tough in the reconciliation is they think, okay, how am I going to incorporate my unique talents and strenghs into this relationship and make it all about them at the same time? How do you pull that together when it feels like a paradox?

Ian Altman: Well, there's a few different things. One is that we have to be careful that we're not trying to persuade. In fact, what I would say is any time you're trying to exercise influence, what we're really trying to get to is the truth as quickly as possible because let's say for example, that using that, that silly HR example I gave, let's say the other person really isn't that interested in retention recruitment. They're not really concerned about their individuals on their team. Then they're probably not what you tell them. They're not going to be sold on this idea because they really don't care. So the first thing we have to do is get the other people to convince us that they have something that's worth solving and that they have whatever their issue is that you're talking about, they feel has enough impact.

Is this important to solve, to make it worth your time to help them find a solution? Once you get to that point where now you're both in agreement that this is worth solving, now all you're doing is saying, okay, the first thing you're doing in terms of fit is saying, am I well suited to help them solve this? And if so, now I just have to illustrate how and why I am, so part of it comes down to you may have a disconnect where someone is asking you to do something you're not really good at, and that's when you need to be honest and say, you know what? We may need some other help for this because otherwise you end up putting yourself in a position where you're probably going to fail and we don't like to fail, and the people working with us don't like to see us fail.

Lisa Cummings: It's big. Your concept that, really, your goal is not to persuade. You need to understand. And if you can't be convinced and they're not convinced that this is a fit, then you'd be a fool to move forward. That's a really powerful shift in thinking right there.

Ian Altman: You're absolutely right. Here's the interesting part of it is that when I'm coaching people on the selling side, the hardest thing to an understanding as they say, so what if I talked to the client and it doesn't seem like their issue is that impactful for them and is that important to solve. Then what do I do? And I say, well then first you can share third party stories to say, well, here's why this thing is important to other people. And they still might say, yeah, you know, I can see why that's important other people, but it's really not to me, and if they don't get it, then don't try and be a missionary trying to convert these people to your way of thinking. Just realize that, okay, this probably isn't going to work out so well, right? It's just not a good fit because even on the selling side, people will say, well, so I talked to this client, men, I know we could help them, but they don't seem to care and they're not really interested in this. What should I do? Like what do I do next? I said, you move on. You could have someone who actually cares.

Lisa Cummings: Let's say you’ve focused on the fit and the fit is there, and then you're in the deeper relationship with the client and the initial ideas there. How do you avoid making it feel like a one-time transaction with them?

Ian Altman: In what I teach, we spend a lot of time talking about the idea of results. What I mean by that is that, so let's say, you know, pick any scenario. You're trying to get someone to agree to do something just because they've agreed to do something and exchange whatever the currency is. So if you're selling something, they exchange money. If they're investing in a program internally, it might be investing their time. Just because they actually complete the transaction doesn't mean they've achieved success. So usually what happens is the person who's trying to do the persuading, the person who's doing the “selling” of their ideas often sees the commitment, the contract, the sale, the decision as the finish line. But the other party doesn't see it that way. The other party sees the decision as an incidental step toward achieving the results they're looking for. And so the way that you focus on making sure that people see the bigger picture is now what you do is you ask them, okay, let's say that we started this program. How would we know six months out, 18 months out whether or not we were successful, what would we notice? What would we measure to let us know that we were successful? And now the other person you're talking to feels like you have the same goal as them, which is to achieve the results, not just get the decision or the sale.

Lisa Cummings: I love the questions. What would we notice? How do you go about getting inside so that you can notice together? And so what I mean by that is a lot of times they'll ask about the measure of success and then in six months they check in and say, you know, how did that metric turn out? And let's see if the trend line is up into the right. So how do you get the relationship rolling in a way that you can be noticing those things together as a relationship rather than a check-in?

Ian Altman: I love that question because it demonstrates that you're focused on actually them achieving those results because it's not just how do we know now you're saying how are we actually going to measure it together? And so that dialogue says, not only. So how would we know if we were successful? And someone says, oh, this would be it. Then you'll ask a question like, so what might happen that would lead to us not achieving those results? And now the person says, for example, let's say it was a training program you were selling to them and the person says, well, I mean, I guess if people didn't come to the program and then if they didn't commit the time for follow through and reinforcement. Okay, what are some of the things that we can do together to make sure that those things don't happen? Because obviously we want to achieve success and they usually scratch their head a little bit, especially if their scalp is dry.

Ian Altman: And then, all of a sudden now you're building a strategy and a plan together that keeps you involved going forward and it's easy for you to say, look, so it sounds like somebody that's on a regular basis how about I check in with you in three or four weeks and just make sure we're accomplishing those things because my sense is if we're accomplishing those every three to four weeks, then we're probably going to see those results six months out. Now, if you're constantly involved in ensuring that your partner in essence is successful, then you have an ongoing dialogue and anytime something comes up, you're the first person that's right there. And when your clients see you deliver amazing results, that can be an internal, external client. Now all of a sudden they're way more inclined to work with you because not only did they buy your idea or whatever it is your selling, but you actually helped them ensure that they got results. And thankfully so many people miss that, that when you do it, it seems extraordinary. Even though all you're doing is just delivering what you said you would.

Lisa Cummings: Now, how does this dynamic shift when you're doing the same thing we just talked about and it's the internal senior executive you've been having this conversation with?

Ian Altman: It doesn't change; honestly it doesn't change at all. I mean that's. That's the whole beauty of this is that it's not so much a sale because keep in mind I'm trying to do is get them to do, be on the same page with us on the same side in terms of what we're trying to accomplish and sometimes that means that we need to move them closer to us and sometimes we need to move ourselves closer to them, but it's a collaborative process and whether that's an internal senior executive who you're partnering with to accomplish something or someone externally; think about it. The COO of the company or the CEO, do they want to spend time with the people who get their buy in on an idea and then don't deliver? Or do they want to constantly go back to the person who not only executed but ensure that the business got the results that we're looking for, so those are the people who advance the most through their career. Those are the people who excel. Those are the people who get those promotions. Those are the salespeople who are at the top of their game because it's so easy for their customer internally or externally to trust that they're going to see results with them.

Lisa Cummings: You brought all kinds of layers to my mind here about the idea of people wanting to get promoted and advance their career and the idea of getting closer to that person that they've been doing this work with. I tell my audience all the time to listen hard, to understand the other person's situation better, know what makes them tick, know what other options they have other than the choice that you've been talking about as you've gone through the process together and it's really difficult for people. It's like people go through their careers getting better and better at pontificating and kind of worse at really hearing what's going on with the other party. So if you apply all this stuff to just some sort of simple negotiation, let's say with an internal colleague at work, how do you craft some of those same side questions or the thought processes to be able to listen and hear them better?

Ian Altman: A lot of it is having a structure around it. So on the selling side of the world, we break it down in these four quadrants. So what we say is that anytime we're speaking with somebody, we want to focus on the issue that they're facing, which would be, if you think about four quadrants, like a sheet of paper, you draw a vertical line down the center and horizontal line across. So now you have two squares in the top, two squares on the bottom, and the idea is that in the upper left you would write the word issue. In the upper right, you would write the words impact and importance. In the lower left, you'll write results in the lower right, you'll write others impacted and let me explain what's in each of those quadrants. So the issue is the surface level goal of the person you talked to.

Ian Altman: So someone says, oh, we're looking to put in x, Y, z program into the business. Great. Now on the impact side, which the upper right, we're going to ask questions like, so what happens if we don't achieve that? What if we don't hit the deadline? What if this thing got deferred and we didn't accomplish it? Because what we're trying to figure out is what's the consequence to the organization of not solving that issue? Then in the lower left where we have results, we take notes that centered around how we're going to measure success together. So let's say we do this project six months after we're done, how are we going to know if we were successful? What are we going to see that we can measure that tells us both that we've achieved a high five worthy moment is I like to call it. So how do we know that we're both singing Kumbaya and dance in the streets? Because we did something amazing

Lisa Cummings: That ear worm is going to be in my head all day long now. And everyone listening. “Dancing in the streets”

Ian Altman: Then in the lower right, we put others impacted and the reason we put others is that, especially in sales and really in every type of business transaction, oftentimes what happens is we're dealing with one individual and we assume that they're the only person impacted. And then the 11th hour somebody gets inserted into the process we didn't even hear about and they derail the whole process. And we're like, man, what happened? Where this person come from? And if we said, well, who else is involved in the decision? You never get an honest answer because the person you're dealing with doesn't want you to think that they don't have full authority. But instead after you talk about impact and after you talk about results, if you say, well, so, so who else stands to lose the most? Would that impact you get those people? Okay, well who else is probably going to be most excited about these results?

Ian Altman: And guess what? The people who are going to be impacted the most on the negative and the positive side, they're going to be involved with you like it or not, so you may as well figure that out early on in the process. Now in that upper right quadrant, that idea of impact and importance, the difference in impact and important is impact is kind of quantifiable measure of what happens if you don't solve it. Importance is a outcome of a simple question which is compared to other things on your plate. How important is it to solve this issue? And if someone tells you that it's not that important, don't waste your time on it because it's not important to them, then it doesn't need to be important to you.

Lisa Cummings: I love this quadrant and there are so many pieces of depth in here. If you really dissect it and I hope everyone listening will go grab the book and see and be dissecting things as simple as that comment you just made about others and the typical question, who else needs to be involved in this decision that gets you nowhere and the way that you reframed that and gave alternative ways to get to the same thing that could completely kill your deal or make it great? You have so many nuances in the stuff that you just said that we could talk about for another hour.

Ian Altman: Let me give you just one little, one little piece of perspective. When I asked him who else needs to be involved in this decision? My finish line is the decision. When I say who else stands the most to gain from these results, who else is going to want to put in their two cents into how we measure the results? Now I'm focused on the real end goal, which is the results and it's a much more comfortable question for the other person to answer because we're in alignment with what should be important to them

Lisa Cummings: And once again it's because you framed the question in a way that it's something they care about instead of something that you care about.

Ian Altman: When you say it that way, it's like, well, it sounds really obvious and it's amazing how few people do it this way.

Lisa Cummings: I don't know that in all of the sales calls I've attended in my life, I've ever heard anyone frame it like that. There are so many nuggets of Ian Altman genius, that you'll get when you follow his work, so no one here would be surprised to hear that Ian, he started, he sold and grew companies worldwide to values have more than a billion dollars. That's like 1 billion with a b. So yes, I'm doing Austin powers thing with my fingers right now. Your contribution to this conversation is this great visual of the quadrant and mine is Austin Powers movie. He hit those numbers and did these genius brilliant billion dollar things by using the ideas that you started to learn about in this show. What’s the best way to connect with you and dive into your work?

Ian Altman: The easiest way is if you just remember it grow my revenue. So on twitter it's growmyrevenue, the website is growmyrevenue.com, the podcast that launches starting the end of September is growmyrevenue business cast. And so, if you think “grow my revenue”, if that's important to you then I'm easy to find. My website is https://www.ianaltman.com/

Lisa Cummings: Easy. “Like Sunday morning guys”.

Ian Altman: Oh no, we got all these musical things are going to be singing all day now.

Lisa Cummings: I mean we're helping people dance in the streets. And it's a beautiful thing when you can have that magical moment. Yes. So thanks everyone for reading Lead Through Strengths. Remember that using your strengths at work makes you a stronger performer and now Ian has given you a way to also incorporate interests and strengths of your audience. So if you're always focused on fixing weaknesses at work or filling in these gaps are on the path of most resistance. So claim your talents and your clients and share them with the world.

Direct download: Ian-Altman-018.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 1:18pm CDT

This Episode’s Focus On Strengths

Ryan Rhoten joined me to chat about using your natural talents to understand and design your Personal Brand. If you want to have a rockin’ career, you need to know what your brand is (you have one whether you tried to or not). And then you can do branding efforts to leverage your personal strengths.


What You’ll Learn
You’ll hear a personal story–how Ryan discovered the importance of knowing how others perceive you at work (and on Google). You’ll see how taking the StrengthsFinder assessment was his starting point for understanding the talents he needed to lean into at work. And:

  • How you can take strengths like “Whiteboard Weirdo” and turn them into you biggest brand asset.
  • Using your natural talents so that you can consciously select your next job–you can use it as a way to vet job descriptions and work cultures.
  • If you’re feeling dread and misery at work…this episode might just reveal why.
  • What to do when you’re working with leaders who have an opposite style to yours.
  • Find out the difference between Personal Brand and Personal Branding. There IS a difference, and Ryan makes a cool distinction so you can align who you are with what you do and then market your strengths to the world.
  • What to do when you realize that your current job forces you into your weakness zone.
Resource of the Episode
You get four of them this time! Check out Ryan’s Personal Brand Assessment to see where you are today. Now that you’re excited to dig in further, check out Ryan’s Brand New You show. And he offers a full course calledThe Personal Branding Blueprint.
We also talked a lot about the StrengthsFinder assessment. If you grab the book StrengthsFinder2.0 you’ll get a code to take the assessment and learn your Top 5 Talent Themes.
Remember, using your strengths at work makes you a stronger performer. If you’re focused on fixing your weaknesses, you’re choosing the path of most resistance. So claim your talents. And share them with the world.


To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher radio. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode – let the app notify you each week when the latest question gets published. You can also stream any episode live on the website. Just click through the title you like and there will be a player waiting for you on each page. See you there!

Direct download: 016-Ryan-Rhoten-Brand-New-You.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

This Episode’s Focus On Strengths

Jason Treu joined me to chat about using your natural talents to build better relationships at work. He gives lots of ideas for building real connections.


What You’ll Learn
Jason reminds us that business is not the only thing about your life. And he translates it into asking simple questions like, “what do you have planned for this weekend?” Those questions can build rapport very quickly. It’s about being human. And getting beyond conversations about spreadsheets. And he shares ideas on:

  • Tapping into emotions (don’t worry, you don’t have to be a walking Hallmark card).
  • Rapport, likability, and trust – getting beyond the surface in small talk so you can get to know a person.
  • Being magnetic and irresistible, even when you feel awkward or quiet.
  • Listening. I mean listening actively. And not thinking about your next topic while your conversation partner is still talking.
  • Spreading the contagion of high fives.
  • Allowing vulnerable moments. Stop trying to be perfectly perfect.
  • Build on people’s ideas with a “yes, and” philosophy.
  • Learn how to lead through a person’s strengths to be a better manager.
  • Why you should consider offering the gift of a book (and Jason did this for me–what a delightful surprise to receive a book as a gift). Jason, if you’re reading this, I’m digging right in to Give and Take. Thank you for walking your talk!


Resource of the Episode

Check out Jason’s book Social Wealth when you’re ready to go deeper on these topics.




To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher radio. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode – let the app notify you each week when the latest question gets published. You can also stream any episode live on the website. Just click through the title you like and there will be a player waiting for you on each page. See you there!


Episode URL



Read the full Conversation:


Lisa Cummings: Today you'll get some ideas on how to make career transitions and how to increase your success through the relationships you nurture and you'll get to do all of this with Jason Treu. So Jason is the author of a book called Social Wealth, and just like the title implies, the wealth part, it's not about the blinky kind of currency, it's about building extraordinary relationships and that's why it's social wealth. So Jason, thanks for joining.

Jason Treu: It will. Thanks for having me on. Lisa, in speaking to your fantastic tribe.

Lisa Cummings: They are fantastic and as you know, these fantastic people are all about exploring their strengths, how to find them, leverage them, and what it's like. What's your life is like when you do that. So let's give him just a little glimpse of your life before getting into your expertise. So think about your life and a peak experience or a peak moment where you can think about when you were in your relationship flow and can you tell us about what that was like for you?

Jason Treu: Well, before I found the job that I have now been in business and executive coach, I was working as a marketing executive and I noticed that when I was on the road and doing roadshows with my usually my CEO of the company, I was with, you know, I'd be on fire. I would just be so passionate because I'd be speaking to different people. We'd be evangelists to whether it's financial analysts or media or customers or whatever it is. And I just be loving it. And you're right. And that was when I was in my peak because connecting and belonging are my core emotions, are my top emotions. And so having that ability to connect and feel that belonging and be passionate about speaking and evangelizing with something that I really got me excited in my life.

Lisa Cummings: And I love that. You know, that the connecting and belonging matters for you. How did you find those values and how have you come to that to determine that those matter that much to you?

Jason Treu: Well, one of the things is finding your purpose, so people typically mixed up a mission statement with a purpose because they say to themselves, well, my purpose is to help entrepreneurs or help you know my clients do better work, or whatever it is, but that's something external to you and everything external to you will let you down. So if you have your purpose outside of yourself, what happens with people as they go through some precipitative crashes in their life? Because eventually when that purpose lets you down, whether it's something you've unconsciously made or consciously, you really go through some significant trauma. But if your purpose is inside you, you don't. And when you attach it to emotion and your top emotions and figure that out, life really opens up for you. And how you really do that as an exercise. You know, you go back and recall your earliest happiest memories in your life.

And from those you can extract your emotions that are in each of those memories. And then ask yourself what emotion would you rather feel and you can really uncover that. And what's really great about that is that although as you age, you will want your different experiences will be different. The structure and form of bad emotions will not. And so then when you can say to yourself, am I living my emotion? Am I living my purpose? And that's a little bit more than that, but that's really an easy way of taking a look at it for someone. So to see what they're doing. Because the problem for me in my job before was I was great when I was connecting and belonging, but I was, as I was going up the corporate ladder, I was sitting in my office more and more about myself and I was dissatisfied more and more so I realized at some point I connected the dots and realize well I'm better with people and I need to be with people all the time and not just part of the time.

Lisa Cummings: Yeah, and your hitting on a topic and getting into things like emotion. I love that you brought that up straight away here because a lot of people shy away from that and the corporate space and they're afraid to talk about it or use that word and I think that one thing that's important as, hey, there are a lot of emotions that go well beyond the hallmark kind of emotions. I mean you might go through that exercise and recount all of the times where you just felt jubilant because you were riding your bike faster than anyone else on your street or because you won a track meet or something like that and you can start tracing back those. And those are emotions too. So that's cool to hear that terminology in this context because a lot of people shy away from it.

Jason Treu: Yeah. And I think the great thing about it, I have a client of mine who's a CEO of a large company here in Dallas and he is extremely unemotional. His father was in the police force in Boston area and you know, they never showed emotion and I went through exercises like that earlier on with him and you know, probably like a month ago and then I working with about three months. He's like, I got to tell you a story, and I'm like, okay. And he was like, he told me he dropped off his daughter at summer camp and as he drove away, he cried for the first time in 25 years. Oh Wow. And he felt so good. And the ability, he said, the ability for him to actually open up to people, be more vulnerable, be authentic speak his truth and be generous, has transformed his ability to lead, manage and actually run his entire organization, which is a very large company. And I thought that, you know, that's a really critical thing because when you're not in touch with your emotions, you don't understand what drives you, you really become lost because you can't connect to other people. People don't buy facts and figures. They buy emotions and buying could mean anything, any part of the organization, right? It's everyone's selling something right and idea of thought or to a client partner or supplier, etc.

Lisa Cummings: Yeah, and let's talk about that part where you get into the other. So building relationships, it's great if you can feel your own emotions and also watch what other people are feeling because it's going to inform you about how your connection. So okay. One of your key principles I've heard you talk about is that your career potential, your success happens because of your relationships with other people. So give us a tip on making the brand-new connections and not feeling awkward about it.

Jason Treu: Right? So the building blocks of any relationships are rapport, likability, and trust and how you build a relationship quickly or you can take an existing relationship significantly farther is on the rapport side. You have to start tapping into people's emotions because emotions are what runs people. That's why they do everything that they do. So I find that people ask questions to other people that are just surface level questions. You know, where do you work, what are you doing or how's your weekend? And that's fine, but if you never get any farther than surface level, you will never really get to know a person and that's going to hurt you in your career because people make promotion decisions, they give you money, they do everything because they like you. And the more passionate they feel about you, the more they're going to advocate for you in anything that they do.

Jason Treu: So in an easy way to ask this, I've done this to strangers all the time, is I ask people, what are you passionate about? What projects are you working on that you're passionate about? And in fact, I did that a month ago to a woman. I was at a charity event and I asked her, you know, what's, what are you passionate about? And she told me she's passionate about, you know, cancer, charity events. And I was like, well gee, that's awesome. I am too. And my mom had leukemia and I told the story about how she almost died and etc. And you know, this woman just lit up. She didn't. She told me a story about her sister having breast cancer and literally in a couple of minutes later she was crying and I'm sitting there and I gave her a hug and she introduced me to her friends like, this is the greatest guy you got to meet him, and so we carried on a conversation and all that.

Jason Treu: My conversation between me and her was less than 10 minutes. Right? And then I created an emotional connection at that point that I could have done anything else. And in top of that, what you do then is you ask a person, well, what do you need any help with that? Are you having any challenges around that passion in your life? And then you can actually help people with the things they actually care about the most. And if you can do that, people will do anything for you, right? Because one, if you lead with giving, people know that you don't have a scorecard and the only people that don't have score cards with them are people in their inner circle. The closest people to them. And also there's a thing called the law of reciprocity. Meaning, people don't like to get things too far out of whack typically, so when someone gives the other person many times will at least give back in match that in that relationship and get back to even. So either way you can get pretty far and take relationships pretty quickly or take existing ones and really move them forward quickly.

Lisa Cummings: Yeah. So okay. There's a situation that I keep hearing happening with the audience and they will buy what you're saying and when it comes to their peers and where they get tripped up is with exec senior executives that they want to build a relationship with, but for some reason the hierarchy gets this thing all out of whack for them. So let's say because you mentioned promotional opportunity in there, so that’s what prompted me to think about this. I keep hearing at where suddenly people feel more awkward or they feel that the opener that they might be pushing. Strangely if they come in and they're trying to make emotional connections. So when somebody is approaching a senior executive, they don't yet know who would be in a promotional power kind of situation or even just an org chart kind of power situation in their company. What would you do if anything that's different or would you do it totally the same? Say you're nervous around that person. How do you work through that? What's your first step?

Jason Treu: I realized they're human beings too and they’re having a connection with me too. You need to understand that you have to learn about them. Right? And the business is not the only defining thing; their personal life really is and what their passions are. So I think a great thing is I ask people all the time is what did you do this weekend? What's on your agenda for the week? Right? Something like that. So I can try to find some things that they might really like, that I can find some common ground and build rapport quickly with them. Especially if I don't have very much time because at least you can build some quick rapport with that. The other thing that you can do is some more technique on mirroring and matching them, and that's a very powerful way because most communication is nonverbal, so you can, if you mirror how someone is, speaks, the tone of their voice, if it's high or low, if they're animated, not animated on the space in between them to make sure you have the proper space.

Jason Treu: If you can actually match their movements a little bit, you don't need to be like mirroring every possible thing, but the more that you can do, the more helpful it will be because people like people that are like themselves or the people that they want to be like. So you need to build that rapport on both sides of it, the verbal and nonverbal because then it's a way a quicker way to build a relationship that matters for them. Right? And how they see you in view and you because people make snap decisions really quickly. So you want to go in there and do that in plus most people are not really interested in the other person, right? Or they're trying to ask them business questions or they're trying to get it and they're trying to an angle and when you try to do that, the other person knows because again, most of communication is nonverbal so people know when you're trying to get something from them or you're trying to run your own agenda on them. I try to go into with a contribution mindset, like how can I help someone else and how can I get to know them? Right. And that is what I'm always acting like in everything that I do and everyone I meet.

Lisa Cummings: Yeah, I love those. And I like the weekend one because it's easy. It's repeatable. I mean, if you give someone that tip alone and they go ask five people that same question, then they have something also to follow up and take the conversation beyond later because you can say, hey, how'd your triathlon go that weekend? Or how was your son's play? And then it fuels future conversations as well. And then on the mirroring part, one of the simplest of all of those is the kind of the pace and the tone of that person. So that's an easy one. If it's too much mentally to handle having all sorts of things to watch, for just the pace of their conversation. Trying to match that and bring it up a level or down a level can really be helpful.

Jason Treu: The other thing to do too is that if you know, something I think often we don't do is trying to do that little bit extra. Like perhaps you find out when their birthday is and you know, you give them a card or perhaps that you decided to get a book and just buy a book and you know, write a little note saying, I thought you might like this book and you know what? You may not even know what they like, but if you go find a business book that you really enjoy, odds are that person will. And even if they never even read it, the fact that you were thoughtful and did something like that, you're immediately going to stand out because you know what, no one does that. I've talked to senior execs all over the place. I've asked them that question because I bring people books know, and I ask. So when's the last time someone's brought your book? Never,

Jason Treu: You know. And that's the question. That's almost always the answer. Never. Or it will be someone that they know really, really well. So if you're an organization you want to stand out, why would you not do something like that? Because it's a $10 investment in your future and it's an easy thing to do for other people and, you know, you won't ever be wrong because someone will least appreciate the thought. And that's what matters the most.

Lisa Cummings: Yes. And it could really go well as an opportunity to notice something that you appreciate about their leadership style, where if you read this and say, hey, when I read this, I thought of you. It's almost as if you contribute it as an author. And then they realize, of course they liked the generosity and that you thought of them and that you would, you know, get grab a book for them. All of that is great and you noticed something that they're doing well and you're reinforcing their strengths and just because they are a higher level in the org chart, then you are at that point, doesn't mean they don't like to be appreciated as well. And those things they stick in the memory.

Jason Treu: Yeah, because often as a pretty lonely existence because my clients that are that level, you know, they have no one to talk to, right? Because they have a board over them or they're on the board and the people on the leadership team like, you know, that's a difficult challenging conversations. They can share something but people below in the organization, they really can't. Right. So they're often very alone and lonely in that role. And so they want people to actually embrace them. And I think the way to do that as well have been talking about today and realize that they're not sitting on some high mountain and they want to be a part of something else in the organization itself is just filling a role that makes it many times very challenging to do so.

Lisa Cummings: I like how this topic is really getting into a feeling of being a magnetic person and in a lot of ways you're doing that by offering that same sentiment out to someone else. And I think you've gone as far as calling it irresistible, like you believe anybody could be irresistible. So for a lot of people when they hear that term, that feels way far away from where they are today. So what are a couple of steps? Let's just start with the first one. What do you do out of the gates? When you don't feel like an irresistible person, you want to build better relationships at work with all the people around you. Get us a starting point,

Jason Treu: Listen. You know, very few people actually listen. How many people do you know are thinking about the answer? And everyone listening, ask yourself, how many times are you really listening to someone or are you finding the answer in your head before they finished the sentence? Right? And I think being an active listener is one of the skill-sets that seems so simple in like, oh yeah, how can they make a difference? But it makes all the difference in the world because when you actually listen to someone and give them positive feedback, it's amazing what can happen, right? And be an active listener along the way because you know they have feelings too and they have emotions and I think that's something that is really important to do in the process. The other thing is just be excited. Be passionate and be enthusiastic. You know what I mean?

Jason Treu: They've proven that happiness and enthusiasm is contagious so you can actually change someone's state right in front of you by being happy, enthusiastic, and being excited. And I do it all at a time and prove it out. My friends were. I go anywhere what I do anything or done it all the time in organization. I might go in and I've hired five people and it's wonderful, right? If I see a client's really down, I get always more exciting and I’ll five them, or I'll do something just because I want to get them excited. You know what? Instantaneously their state changes and if you're around in doing something like that with people, that's amazing. I think the other thing is what we don't do is actually share vulnerable moments with other people and we don't really tell them about ourselves. We try to be perfectly perfect instead of imperfectly perfect.

And when you actually are vulnerable and authentic with people, you make it okay for them to be dumb selves around you because they don't need to worry about being perfect. So I love to lead with being vulnerable and telling stories about things that are going on in my own life or things that are not going well so I can actually create a level of… it's not even beyond rapport. It's that emotional connection as a human being and what's going on and people's struggles. Right, and that again, then and you can listen to what they're saying and you don't solve it. You don't know. You don't need to come up with a solution or try to fix it. All you need to do is be empathetic and listen. Right, and a lot of times that's the best thing because sometimes when you're offering solutions and trying to help people, people look at it as you're not really listening. You're trying to fix them.

Lisa Cummings: Yeah, I love the phrase “perfectly imperfect” too, and that sharing that stuff is. It's not about the thing itself, it's that you're willing to share the story and that you've become human to them and then you get the emotional connection and the listen thing. Let's back up to that because, this is big and there are many factors. There's obviously the huge number of distractions that people have that keep them from listening and then when I've been around people are trying to listen better, I've also noticed that one thing that's missing from the equation is actually acknowledging back that they actually heard what the person said. I mean, they might be watching, they might be hearing the words yet kind of to that point of pre planning what you're going to say next, even if they're trying to focus intently, just bringing the conversation through instead of it being a choppy, you know, you're saying your part. I'm saying my part. So I think that's another good step is acknowledging, oh, I loved, oh, okay. Here's a perfect example. Let's get real meta here when you said perfectly imperfect. And I said, oh, I love that phrase. Perfectly imperfect. This is a small way of listening and paraphrasing what you said yet it's at least acknowledging I heard that and I made some meaning out of it and let's break it down a little bit more.

Jason Treu: Yes, and that's the thing, that important point, if you can bring part of what their content of what they just said to you back into your first statement or two that will make the other person's feel like they've been heard and that you actually listened to them because otherwise you wouldn't have been able to do it. And that's like that's what they call active listening. Right? Versus focusing on what you're going to say and getting out what you need and not in just asking them a question, not because you want to hear what they have to say but more because you want to get your point made.

Lisa Cummings: Exactly, and I noticed something that in the way that you hold a conversation personally that you say a lot of yes and not literally. You do a lot of “yes, and” and that can be another great one and listening that you're modeling is instead of saying sometimes you're going to disagree with somebody and instead of jumping right in with your defense or your butts or your other way to view things can say yes, I see where you're coming from on x and here's another way we could also consider it. And that is a way to throw in another perspective without shutting down what that person said. And I love how you've been modeling that here.

Jason Treu: Yeah, that's important thing. “Yes, and”, and the other thing too, for managers out there I think is really helpful to do is when someone comes to you with a problem or a challenge, you spend five percent on the challenge and making sure you define specifically what it is, but 95 percent of the solution and what I tell people all the time is when someone comes into your office or your cube or wherever it may be an ask a question, you should ask back, okay, well what are three suggestions to solve this problem? Right? Or what are a couple ways that you believe they can solve the problem? And if they say to you, well, I don't really know, then I say to them, well, if you did know, what would you say? And if the person continually doesn't give an answer saying, well, you know what?

I tell them to come back when you have some things; are there some ways that you think you could possibly solve it, right? And it doesn't have to be right, but I want to know that you actually thought this through more and you force people. It's like fishing, right? If you teach people to fish, they can continually do that, but if you give them this fish will always need your help and when people walk away from that conversation and they've solved their own problem, he feels smarter and they feel like, wow, like that's awesome. Like I can do this on my own. right, and that's a really powerful way, again, to build an irresistible brand for yourself and other people because people want to be around those people because you're lifting them up, right and you're helping them and it's a fantastic way and very few people do that.

Jason Treu: Most managers give the solution and they say, well, no, that's not right. Do it this way. Right? Well, the other person then feels like they walked away and that they were broken or they did the wrong way and it will because the manager didn't take the time which would have helped the manager have a better relationship and the employee be way more motivated and proactive moving forward because they're excited about being in a learning environment where you know where being wrong isn't panelized. What's wrong is not having any thought or any idea and not communicating it forward.

Lisa Cummings: And it's such a fun skill to practice as a manager because it's actually easier to ask back and the tendency is, okay, well yeah, I have an idea in my mind I could offer up this advice and instead of doing that, I love how you did the three options. That's cool too because the person who's coming in with a problem, they might have an idea of a solution. They probably feel stuck, but they have a solution that they don't love yet. Or they would have taken action and started solving it, so to say what are a few options? It gets them feeling open enough that they could throw out bad options and then it's good options and then work through them. So that's a really cool too.

Jason Treu: And if you're a manager, what you can’t say back, let's say someone throws out an idea and you're like, wow, that's not really right. You can say to someone, you know, I can see how you could think that that can be an option. Right? And you know, and then you can sort of guide them by asking another question. We'll have you have you thought or considered, you know, doing x, y, or z, right? And you can lead them down the path by asking them questions and having the other person then give answers back, right? In guiding them through the question sets to get to the answer right then. And then you can say to him, see, you knew the answer, right? I may have had to help guide you a little bit, but all along you had the answer inside of you. So I want you to continually start looking inside of yourself because you're a smart, motivated, intelligent individual, and you can do anything you want if you set your mind to it. Right? And I helped you a little bit along this process, but now you see that you can do this yourself, right? So I'll be excited next time when you come to me and we go through this process and we see how much quicker you're going to get to the solution. It's got way more motivating. Someone was walking out of an office like that or somebody who's been told the answer, what do you think is going to motivate and get people excited? Right,

Lisa Cummings: Right. Obviously the second one, and it also, if you tie this to strengths, it's such a beautiful way to have a conversation because everybody problem solve a little differently. We have different thoughts, patterns of thoughts and behaviors and that influences how we solve problems and how we process what's going on around the world. So when you as a leader asks somebody else how they're thinking through the issue, you're helping them use their strengths to solve the problem and you're also learning how they think and then you're learning how to lead in a way that supports that person individually. So it does so much beyond even just getting the answer to the problem; it really does help you individualize your style to that person.

Jason Treu: Yeah, I think it's really important. And you know, the last thing for managers to. I think it's important to really understand your employees and understand where they're at, because you know one of the challenges I've been finding, I was just doing some sales training a few weeks ago and I was talking to people and I was doing more inner work than I was doing actual strengths that they would be using in the external world. What I found when people were coming to me, marital problems, some people had abuse other things that had gone on in their life and this is the things that were holding them back. So I think we've got to realize that when people walk into a business or organization or work remotely or whatever they're going to do, they don't leave their personal life at the door. It goes with them. So you have to get to know people.

Jason Treu: You have to understand what people are doing and you have to support them and be empathetic and possibly even get them help because that's affecting their work performance and affecting the bottom line. And if you try to gloss over that, you're missing a huge opportunity to uplift people and really improve the bottom line. Because people who are more happy and motivated work harder because when you are in a negative mindset or sad or frustrated or angry; the first thing to go with self-discipline and momentum and motivation. Every time. You've heard this before, people say, well, I'm not motivated. I'm not this, I'm not that. Well, you know, one, if you get happy, excited or really joyful in your life, you're going to be more motivated. The other thing is you've got to take action in your life, but you're less likely to take action when you're in a negative place.

Lisa Cummings: Yes! And there are stats from Gallup that they've put out and have studied this really deeply and those who focus on their strengths and focus on what's right about them in the workplace are six times as engaged with their work. So it's a significant difference in the way that you feel.

Jason Treu: Yeah, and I think that's how you find out your strengths a lot of the times too is you know, you got to help people figure those out and see where their challenges are as well. Right? And help them with their own blind spots and weak spots and help them alleviate those or bring those up, work around it. Right. And figure those out. And I think that these are ways for you as a manager and also to manage up and you can see that in other people as well, once you get more in tune with them on an emotional level and started connecting with them and they've done all the studies that the managers today that are succeeding and the people they lead are succeeding because they have vulnerability and authenticity; they are key leadership traits because end of the day, that's what influences other people. And that's what creates charisma. That's what creates persuasion and at the end of the day that creates leadership.

Lisa Cummings: So I know a lot of people are going to want to get their hands on social wealth because there'll be thinking about the charisma and building their leadership and building those relationship skills. So for everybody who wants to get more of Jason, where can they find you, where can they find your book and how can they dig into your stuff?

Jason Treu: So you can go to https://jasontreu.com/(updated, February 2019) it's all one word and you can find my coaching. There are tons of free guides on branding, networking, you know, how to email busy people. There's tons of things and self-development as well and there's stuff on my coaching as well there. And then you can go there also to Amazon to get my book and audio book.

Lisa Cummings: Wonderful. And that is called Social Wealth. So thanks so much for joining Jason. This has been really cool to look at relationships and emotional connections.

Jason Treu: Well, thanks a lot. At least I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and your audience and know they're all fantastic and just go out and take on the world.


Direct download: Jason-Treu-017.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 11:00am CDT

Standing Out By Using Your Strengths At Work - With Dorie Clark

This Episode's Focus On Strengths
Dorie Clark joined me to chat about using your uniqueness to Stand Out at work. If you want to improve your personal brand or reinvent yourself at work, this is a must-listen episode of Lead Through Strengths. We talked about applying your greatest strengths at work to help you stand out and boost your leadership cache.



What You'll Learn
How to use a personal 360 to understand the starting point of your personal brand. She gives a rich version for those who really want to invest in their development. We also recount my experiment with her "Three Words Exercise" (great experience, by the way). That's the super-fast version of the experience. And if you want an in-between commitment level when you apply it, here's a resource she published in Forbes. It's about asking for input via email.

  • Why I got called "Lady With Chainsaw" in my personal brand exercise.
  • How to stop sanding down your uniqueness and instead make it part of your brand.
  • Given that we're moving more and more to a world where what’s different about you is what matters, she shows you how to own your unique gifts and articulate them as part of your professional reputation.
  • The story of a poet turned management consultant. You heard that right. It's not a corporate exile who left to follow her art. It's an artist who used that to her advantage in the boardroom.
  • Ideas for developing yourself as a thought leader, even when you’re internal to a company and feel like it might be an awkward place to build a platform.
  • Tips for breaking through the noise if you're in a job transition and want to be the candidate that stands out.
Resource of the Episode
It's a three-fer. Check out her books Stand Out and Reinventing You. She also offered up a free workbook where you can download 139 questions to reflect on your personal brand and career reinvention.
Dorie really packed this show with great ideas and resources today. You're gonna love it.
Remember, using your strengths at work makes you a stronger performer. If you’re focused on fixing your weaknesses, you’re choosing the path of most resistance. So claim your talents. And share them with the world.
Listen Links
Give the full episode a listen on iTunesStitcher RadioSoundCloud, or Stream The Audio Right Here.
Direct download: Dorie-Clark-May-2015.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

Career Q&A: How do you ask someone to mentor you? And find a good fit?

This Episode's Question
I have a question about finding a mentor. I hear consistently that it's an exceptional tool for professional development. I'm not sure where to find one...and if I do find one, how can I make sure they're a good fit?

What You'll Learn
- How to ask a mentor for their time without offending them.

- A way of thinking about mentor "fit" that feels the same way you decide whether a friend fits your style.

- 4 non-mentor relationships that can have mentor-like outcomes for you.

- The secret sauce of a BBF.

- Why offering to buy coffee could cost your mentor $3,000.

- How asking to "pick your brain" could annoy a potential mentor.

- Simple exchanges, requests, and relationship building "asks" that let you build a mentorship without asking them to move into your house during your first conversation.

Tweetable of the Episode
Remember to be a giver with your mentors, not just a taker. You have value they need.

Resource of the Episode
Book: 52 Strategies for Life, Love & Work: Transforming Your Life One Week at a Time by Anne Grady, my BBF.

Direct download: 009-mentor.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

Career Q&A: Major career switch - how to get someone to take a chance on you

This episode's question
How do I  make the leap from an operational role to a sales role?

 What you'll learn
- That you're not alone if this seems like a tough career conundrum.

 - How you can make a major career change (even into an entirely new field) without having to start over in an entry level position.

 - Ways that very small or very large companies can present great opportunities to switch departments or roles.

 - How to go get real life practice in the newly-desired role rather than simply studying it from an academic viewpoint and crossing your fingers that someone would take a chance on you.

 - Steps for building relationships with people who are already in the role: both your future colleagues and the leadership team.

Resource of the episode
Book -  Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.

Tweetable of the episode
If you don't ask, the answer is no. via @careerpodcast


Direct download: 007-career-transition.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT

Career Q&A: Funky, old school job application requirements - comply or fly?

This Episode's Question
My question is about a letter of introduction. My wife is applying for a licensed social work position for a school district. The application has a spot for a letter of introduction. This is the first time either of us have come across a requirement like that. So...what is it? Then, should it be written by you or by a third party? And should you submit only one like you do for a cover letter or multiple letters like you do for letters of recommendations? Thanks for your input.

What You'll Learn In The Audio
- Whether to comply with their funky, old school job application requests.

- The origins of these traditions from the 1700's and 1800's. Yup! They're that old school.

- Your safest bet for action when you get any outlier requirement while applying for a new job.

- How you can use this type of requirement as a sign post for the company culture you're about to join.

- Whether recruiters  and hiring managers want you to do cover letters as a separate attachment. Hint: highly-debated-topic alert!

- How to not get yourself excluded for a job because you missed a step that was intended to check your attention to detail.

- A more modern version of this mythical letter of introduction (a referral), and how an email from a 3rd party introducing you to the employer is a great tip for getting in the door and getting noticed.

Tweetable of the Episode
Take notice of job application requirements as a sign of the company culture.

Resource of the Episode
Article: Too funny! You'll get a kick out of this Wikipedia article on Letters of Introduction. Besides the fact that it reinforces the old-school-osity, there's a fun quip in there from Ben Franklin writing one in a sarcastic way.

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Direct download: 013-letter-of-intro.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT