Lead Through Strengths

This Episode’s Focus on Strengths

This month’s episode features Gary Ware, whose mission is to help people “energize their work.” If you find that your job is sometimes humdrum, and that your team’s ability to create new, innovative ideas is stifled, then this is the episode for you. Gary provides practical tools (and cool examples) you can use to get creative juices flowing. And, there’s even a bonus – tips to improve your interviewing skills. You can use those tips on both sides of the proverbial interviewing table.

To give you a hint about Gary's essence, here’s his favorite quote by Plato. He lives his life by it:

“You learn more about a person in an hour of play, than a lifetime of conversation.”


What You’ll Learn

Practical tools to improve creativity and problem solving at work:

  • Use this lesson from Improv: be in the moment and be fully present. If you're not fully engaged, your ability to contribute to a proposed idea will be limited. Gary and Lisa both practice the concept of "soft focus" that comes from improvisation. In practicing soft focus, you're fully tuned into what's going on in the room. Rather than thinking about what you're going to say next, you're fully there with the intention to listen and soak in what's going on around you.
  • Use the words “Yes, and…” instead of cutting off someone’s idea with a "Yes, but." Make an effort to see where the idea takes you as a group, and don't deviate from a concept until it’s fully played out. Ideas are different from execution, yet often people squash ideas by thinking about impractical execution details as ideas get launched. This is why you hear "Yes, but" so often in meetings. The challenge is that ideas need space. When a team member thinks his idea will get slammed, he won't bother throwing it out. And his idea might just be the one that inspires his teammate's genius breakthrough that would have come 7 ideas down the line.
  • Notice what works. When you keep going, and when you get stuck, that’s where you get the amazing stuff! Spend time debriefing as a team. Talk about what brings out your biggest ideas. Talk about what makes you feel your best. Share moments of success because noticing what works will help you get more of what works. Accepting and considering ideas, no matter how crazy, will lead you to innovation and creative breakthrough moments. Allow yourselves to get stuck so that you can get to the breakthrough.
  • Don't disregard them.  Take the word “but…” out of your vocabulary entirely. That’s just another way of saying no. It's a way of disregarding a person’s contribution, which may inhibit them from speaking up when they have their next incredible idea. Many leaders and team members think they're being practical when they pick ideas apart. On the surface it feels like a way to quickly cull and make decisions. Yet actually, it creates a situation where people don't want to speak until they have a great idea.
  • Find your openness. Enter creative sessions with a sense of curiosity and possibility. If needed, tell everyone that this meeting isn't about making a decision. Tell them it's about coming up with ideas. If needed, create a silly mantra like "thank you for that idea" that everyone says in unison after every idea. Rather than commenting on an idea, you simply thank them, accept the submission and keep moving to the next idea. That way, you're not categorizing ideas as good and bad, you're simply generating the list of ideas.
  • Step into their shoes. Remember that we all see things through different lenses. Try to see ideas and concepts as others do. Consider that their perspectives, assumptions, and experiences are leading them to show up with a unique perspective. Using this mental practice is great for team building because it asks you to consider how someone else might view a project or problem.


Bonus tools to help you during an interview:

  • If you are thrown off during an interview, compose yourself and be real.
  • If you don’t know an answer, be honest. They’ll know when you're flustered, and making up an answer is not a good option.
  • Hiring managers want to know who you are. They want to know how you work. With all things being equal, people are going to hire those they like, so be your true self. Your resume tells them what you've done. That's easy enough to read, so use the interview to show the who and how.
  • Have some stories about yourself ready. Use these stories to highlight your strengths. Lisa recommends coming up with one example for each of your Top 5 StrengthsFinder talent themes. Since your natural talents are more about how you work than what you do, they make for great behavioral interview answers. For example, if you have a story about how you used your Includer talent to bring success to a high-stress project, you can use that example for many common behavioral interview questions, such as "tell me about a time when you overcame a challenging situation" or "tell me about a time when you dealt with a difficult person."
  • If you're a hiring manager, try the Monkey Wrench Game that Gary and Lisa demonstrate during the episode. This is a tool you can use in an interview to see how someone thinks on the fly. And like the Plato quote above, you can tell a lot about a candidate through their play.


If you manage a team, try the activities that Gary and Lisa demonstrated in a team meeting.

These Improv exercises are a fun way to do a five minute team building exercise at the beginning of your next team meeting. They're a great way to set the tone for a creative, collaborative conversation.


Yes, And Interview (San Antonio Zoo Interview was the example in the episode)

  • Objective: Hold a 1x1 conversation between two people at a time with no pre-planned expertise or interview questions.
  • Time: 10 min. This could take 30 min or an hour if you have a large team. Be sure to set the stage so people know they should try to keep their answers to 1 minute or less. An average-size team will be finished in 10 minutes + instruction time.
  • Purpose: Get your team in the moment and fully present so that they "Yes, And" their way to a full conversation. The purpose is to generate collaboration, ideation, support, creativity, and of course...fun.
  • Preparation: Bring a pad of sticky notes. Get two volunteers. One person will be the interviewer, and one will be the first interviewee. The interviewer will be the same person during the entire game. This person should be a good communicator who will enjoy being part of the exercise the entire time. The interviewee will change after each question, so each team member will take a turn. Tell the team that you'll be building on a conversation (a mock expert interview) as you go person by person. Encourage them to call back to each other's references. Ask them to try to transition into their response seamlessly, as if it is one conversation. Do a quick demo so they get the idea before you get started.
  • How to do it with your team:
    • Ask each person to write one noun on one sticky note and one verb on a second sticky note. When people are finished, have them put those on a wall or in the middle of the table where everyone can see. This is your pile of inspiration words.
    • Get your interviewer to pick one of the words. That person starts the interview with, "thanks for coming in to share your expertise on [word]" - then the interviewer continues by asking a relevant question about that word. The interviewee answers and then says, "I think you should also talk to my friend [teammate's name] he/she is an expert when it comes to [word]."
    • Then the interviewer asks the new person a question about that word. The interview continues until all teammates have answered a question.
    • Key: this needs to feel like one conversation. That's where the Yes, And comes into play. Try to transition into their response seamlessly, as if it is one conversation.
    • On a flip chart or whiteboard, write, "I think you should also talk to my friend [teammate's name] he/she is an expert when it comes to [word]" - this will help them remember how to generate the handoff from one interviewee to the next.
  • Debrief the experience:
    • Ask how that exercise mimicked things that happen at work on a regular day.
    • Ask what it felt like when the transitions were natural and tied together.
    • Ask what it felt like when someone abruptly moved to the next topic in the interview.
    • Note: the lesson you're drawing out is what it feels like when you use "Yes, And" to collaborate and build on each other's ideas. It's to talk about what it feels like when you show up as a fully present participant who accepts what "is" and moves forward from there. If you have a team with a lot of emotional baggage or a habit of squashing infant ideas, this would be a great exercise.


Monkey Wrench Story (this was the ranch story from the episode)

  • Objective: Hold a conversation in pairs where the storyteller flexes the story based on random words inserted by the randomizer.
  • Time: 3 min + instruction time.
  • Purpose: Get your team out of an over-analyzing mode; practice full presence; have fun; practice adaptability and innovation; experience change with no luxury of planning.
  • Preparation: Get a timer. You can likely use the stopwatch feature on your phone. Have everyone pair up. One person will be the storyteller (this is the role Lisa played in the example in the episode). One person will be the randomizer (this is the role Gary played).  Ask them to decide who will play which role for their 3 minute story. Do a quick demo so they get the idea before you get started.
  • How to do it with your team:
    • Tell the storytellers that their job is to tell a story that begins with "once upon a time...", to try to create some excitement in the middle, and to bring it to a close in a relatively short period of time.
    • Tell the randomizers, in advance, to think of 5 unrelated words. Have them write them on a piece of paper that only they can see. Tell them that their job is to insert those words randomly in the middle of a sentence (not the end) while the storyteller is talking.
    • The storyteller's job is to accept the word and smoothly weave it into the story.
    • Tell them how you will call them back together. All pairs will be talking at once, so the room might get loud. Tell them how to know it's time to cut off their story if it hasn't finished when you call time.
    • Key: this needs to feel like one story. That's where the Yes, And comes into play. They're practicing the idea of changing direction quickly, and not being able to plan their responses.
  • Debrief the experience:
    • Start off by hearing a couple of the interesting story topics they covered. Ask who wants to do a 15 second story synopsis. It's fun hearing that one group talked about aliens inventing a revolutionary code that will forever change software development, whereas another group talked about hardcover books being distributed by orphaned dolphins who swam with the books on their fins.
    • Ask how that exercise mimicked things that happen at work.
    • Ask what it felt like to the storytellers when they had to shift the story into an unexpected direction.
    • Ask what it felt like to the randomizer to hear where the story goes versus where they expected.
    • Ask what was difficult; ask what was easy.
    • Note: the lesson you're drawing out is what it feels like when you're fully present--when you come without assumptions or expectations about what's next. And you get to experience what it's like being fully in the moment. It's not to show that future thinking or learning from past failures is bad. Of course, if you know us at Lead Through Strengths, you'll know we love the talents of Futuristic, Context, and Strategic. Instead, this is to get people to also experience what it feels like to be fully present in the moment and to support ideas in a different way. If you have a team with a lot of competing priorities and distractions, this would be a great one.

Using these tools and techniques helps teams create and innovate, while allowing all people to feel valued and appreciated.


Resources of the Episode

To connect with Gary, check out his website, and follow him on twitter.



To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from the website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.


StrengthsFinder Mini-Course For Managers

If you’re a people-manager and you want to sharpen your strengths based support, come join our mini-course. We don’t charge for this because we want to help you keep the StrengthsFinder momentum going. Teams who receive strengths feedback have 8.9% greater profitability. Yowza! Sounds like a great reason to join. Source:  Asplund, J., & Blacksmith, N. “Strengthening Your Company’s Performance.” Gallup Business Journal.

Read the full conversation:

Lisa Cummings: Today you'll get some serious depth on the concept of energizing your work. Your guest host a show called Breakthrough Cocktail. He helps teams get out of their funk, through improvisation and through play. Now, if that sounds just a little bit too much like a boondoggle of a work day for you, hey, listen through anyway, All right, because improv has helped me become such a better player at work and beyond the distressing and beyond the fun that it brings you, there are real productivity benefits to this stuff. It helps you think on your feet.

Lisa Cummings: It helps you innovate and you learn a ton about your teammates. By being in Improv games, you get to simulate your decision making responses. You simulate the default ways that you act in different situations. Yet you do it in a way that is accepting of each other's ideas and building instead of stripping down, basically you give huge support to each other. Yes, even to the people who annoy you and it shows you a whole new way to value them and what they bring to the team. So, Gary Ware, thank you for bringing us some productivity boosting fun and games today. So why don't you get us started by telling us your perspective on play at work.

Gary Ware: Yeah. I actually have a quote that summarizes that and it's from Plato and it says you learn more about a person in an hour of play than a lifetime of conversation. Like Lisa, I totally agreed. I got hooked on during Improv because it was something, there was something about it. Yeah, you can do these icebreaker games, but it was just something about Improv and just letting yourself go back and play and discovery that it was like I was transformed back to when I was five in kindergarten on the, on the playground, just doing silly things and there was no care in the world.

Lisa Cummings: Yeah, I know that you've said you love being goofy and I love being goofy too, so it certainly feeds that part. Yeah, just the play and not planning what to say. I'm very much like that. I plan a few steps ahead. I want to be careful about what I say and it, it's the opposite of that and not being seven steps ahead. So really just being in the moment, being fully present. It's just so cool. I could go on, I could gush.

Gary Ware: Yeah, I know. Exactly. And it's just a new way of thinking. So Lisa, question for you. So you got into Improv and it sort of transformed your life. Can you talk about a few other areas of, of how just Improv this impacted you?

Lisa Cummings: The “yes, and” part has been huge for me. So anybody who's listening who's not familiar with “yes, and” it's, it's kind of a basic tenants that you're going to support what's going on in a scene or in a moment and build on it rather than cutting it off or saying no to what's happening. And so putting yourself in that mindset of you're in the scene or at work, you're at work and then going with what is happening and then making the best of it, building on it and making it better as a completely new way. It shifted me in many ways like down to the basics of trying to get “but” out of my vernacular, unless you're talking about a literal butt on a body, it's “the yes, and” or I'll say yet I won't say, but if I'm being conscious of it because it does, it changes the way you actually think and put things together and it, it just changes your frame of mind. So that's been a huge one for me in life. How about for you?

Gary Ware: It causes me to think of other possibilities. You're right when you are saying “yes, and" you are agreeing 120 percent with someone and you're building on that and everything's a possibility because I know we're so quick to say “no” for whatever reason. It could be that you're just scared or you really think that you have an idea that is stellar and you're not listened to and sometimes it's just all about; let’s support what's already out there

Lisa Cummings: And it teaches you about yourself in a way that you.
I understand more about your assumptions. So, I'm remembering back to a recent class and so I'm an Improv and you're in this scene. Work with a person and they're doing something and so as the recipient or you're, you're up there with them listening and trying to understand what they're doing through their actions. The guy who was up there with me he was being a cook in his mind and so he was chopping something with a knife and what I saw was a guy working in his wood shop and as a perfect example of “yes, and” because I started commenting on what he was making in his wood shop and it was after the scene we were debriefing when he said, I was actually starting as a chef. It turned in a completely different direction and just imagine if we weren't in front of an audience, it was in the class, but if we're in front of an audience and he's like, hey dummy, I'm not in a wood shop.

Lisa Cummings: I'm in a chef. Hello. Can you not see my knife? Would have ruined the whole thing. He just went with it and then there's something human and real that happens too because you see his face, he's shifting gears. He's recalibrating, okay, now I'm going to shop and what am I holding and what I was seeing him like with a rasp or something and it's just for me, that's very insightful when you think about it. Applied to work because you see the world through your eyes and you have no idea where they're coming from and you can assume yet getting in and saying yes and going with what's happening really helps you understand. You come from a place of curiosity, come from a place of openness and then you start to see, oh yeah, there are different people who see things differently. And my way is not the only way to go about the world.

Gary Ware: I totally agree. And myself coming from a very creative background and working in the agency world by saying, yes, it opens up in endless possibilities for innovation because I know far too often, if you're in a brainstorming session and again, everyone wants to get their ideas heard and like every time we deny someone's idea. And we throw someone else’s idea out. If you start over again and, but just by throwing all egos aside and just supporting what is out there and just agreeing 110 percent and just not, you know, exploring that until it's completely done. And then, before we move onto any new concepts, you will get awesome ideas. And another example of- this was something how we brought one of the tenants of Improv “yes, and” into the brainstorming scenario so when we would brainstorm, it would be uber focused, brainstorm, so it would be on one concept, but we could not explore outside of that concept until we explored everything about that concept. And so no one can throw any new ideas into the mix until everything from the very first idea has been explored and it makes you think… in the beginning, you get all the obvious things out. But then that's where the magic happens is we can't move on because that's typically what happens. You get all the obvious stuff and then you get stuck and then you move onto something else and then you have to start over. But You keep going and then that's where you get those breakthrough moments.

Lisa Cummings: Yeah, those are great. It's kind of like, oh, for anybody reading, if you're really into this stuff, it's convergent and divergent thinking. And the typical brainstorm, people are always talking about, oh, blue sky, you know, think about anything wacky out there and you do come up with good ideas there and that's more of the divergent. But if you create the constraint and you say, all right, we're living inside of this limitation. What can we come with? Insight of the limitation, the ideas I see come up are better when you're limiting yourself, constraining yourself, because then you can get real wacky with how to make it unique and those are the most fun to me. But versus the wide-open universe of ideas you could come up with.

Gary Ware: Yeah, exactly. Sometimes we need limitations and constraints to come up with amazing ideas. And I know for my own improv experiences, sometimes those limitations are the format of the game. You know, this specific game has, has specific rules and specific limitations. But aside from that, you're free to completely explore and do whatever you want. And like what you mentioned earlier, you are not by yourself. You're with someone that is supporting you and we see things through different lenses and by just supporting whatever's out there and building on it, it's magic. It is magic. Yeah. And so I thought maybe we can kick things off by playing a little game. One of the simplest games is, ““yes, and””, and maybe we can just start with, since this is a career focused and, and whatnot, maybe we can do a yes and gain where maybe it's an interview focus game, but we're going to just keep saying “yes and” we're going to build on something and see where we go. Okay, cool. Lisa, would you like to be the interviewer and I will be the interviewee.

Lisa Cummings: Yes. I would love to. And I would love to know what job you would like to interview for.

Gary Ware: I would like to interview for a trainer at the zoo. Okay.

Lisa Cummings: Gary, it's great to have you in here. Tell me about the wackiest animal experience you've had at the zoo so far or in your animal life.

Gary Ware: I have to say the most wacky experience that I ever had was when I worked in Africa and I was tracking rhinos through the safari.

Lisa Cummings: You know, I've always wanted to do a safari in Africa, and I know it's a little off what you might expect an interview topic to be about, but can you tell me what you learned while you were tracking rhino and what, what the purpose was? What were you out there after?

Gary Ware: Yeah. What I learned is that rhinos, they travel in packs and that reminds me of family and the importance of having a good support system and I can bring those, you know, that experience here to this zoo, the San Antonio Zoo, and I can apply that to any aspect of our training facility.

Lisa Cummings: That's great. I love the lessons you can apply. I'm wondering, so rhinos, they seem kind of scary. Were there ever moments when you were just… Yeah, they scared the bejesus out of you or were you pretty confident the whole time? How did you handle fears being out like that in some risky environment?

Gary Ware: Yes, they did. Right? Those are scary beast and I'm not going to lie. I was quite scared; there was one time when we were trying to identify if this was a specific heard that we have tagged, and I had to go into the pack where a mother was nursing with some of her young and just like any mother, if you're going to approach her children, she's going to get defensive. I personally thought she was going to charge me, but I noticed the warning signs and I stayed very clear. And one thing that you have to know about rhinos is that if you, if you don't show fear and you show dominance, they will immediately back down.

Lisa Cummings: Wow. And how did you show dominance to a rhino?

Gary Ware: Well, I think the best way to show dominance to a rhino is to appear like you are a male rhino. So that requires you to get into this position and, start stomping your feet. It is quite the site. And I did that very successfully.

Lisa Cummings: Have you ever stomped your feet like that in a work environment?

Gary Ware: Actually, sometimes you have to show dominance in a work environment, and so yes, that I can relate to multiple times when, if I'm in a situation where I'm being bullied, sometimes you just have to stomp your feet and you know, show that you mean business, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I'm going to always do that.

Lisa Cummings: Well, tell me about a time when you had to show you meant business.

Gary Ware: Well, I'm a little ashamed about this, but there was a time when I worked for the San Diego Zoo and I thought I was up for a raise. I had to say, Hey, I, am and doing a super job and I felt like I am due for a raise. Would you please reevaluate me? And I was very firm yet not overbearing. And that was the last time I had to really show that I meant business.

Lisa Cummings: Now, if you had to show you meant business to end this interview and show me that you wanted the job, what would you do right here?

Gary Ware: Well, I would make sure that I have, a power stance and a power stance means that my feet are shoulder width apart. I am leaning in which is more of a position of power and I will make direct eye contact and I would have more of a deeper voice and I would say I am the best candidate for this position. You should hire me because no one else is going to bring their experience like myself

Lisa Cummings: "And, scene"

Lisa Cummings: So now if we go out of character and debriefed that some things that were really cool to me is for the listeners out there, it's kind of cool to show “yes, and” and Improv stuff doesn't have to be about being funny. It's about going with what's going on and having been a recruiter and hiring manager as I watched and listened to your answers and thinking about how you just rolled with it, it didn't matter what I threw out you, they were not typical interview questions. I don't know if there are typical zoo interview questions is a different environment, but it was interesting. You probably think you're going to get it. It told me about your strengths and weaknesses. Tell me about your background. We ended up talking about rhinos and power stances and I think that's a really cool thing. Sometimes when I interview people I see, oh, they're off script.

Lisa Cummings: What am I going to do? I used to ask a question of people about what, is the last thing you did that you found really fun? And people were like a fun. It surprised people so much and know people have fun. They just was not a work question. So it really threw people and that's something I looked for in interviews is, will they be able to roll with the punches and sometimes the punches are weird questions and sometimes it's, giving you the insight, especially the “Tell me about a time when”, I mean, that's a very technical, it's called behavioral interviewing and it's beautiful as a candidate because you get to tell stories and stories, bring emotion into the picture and make things memorable until they're so great for you as a candidate. But a lot of people resist them. So I thought that showed all sorts of cool things. How about you

Gary Ware: Agreed. And another thing to note, especially being on both sides of the table, being someone that is interviewing and being interviewed yourself, you're right, you do not know what's going to be out there. However, if someone throws you for a loop, all you have to do is just take a deep breath, pause, because you don't have to answer right away, compose yourself and just be yourself. Be Real at the end of the day, they're hiring a human. And if you don't know the answer, you know, feel free to, you know, just be honest and just be real. And, you're right stories are, that is the, in my opinion, the Trojan horse of an interview because if you can talk about story, you sometimes get off tangent and they stopped interviewing you and you're having a conversation and when you're having a conversation, now you're getting real and now you're getting to the heart of why we want to interview. So when we want to find out what they're about.

Lisa Cummings: Yeah, and you're getting to the “what makes people pick people”. I mean if you think about, if you talked to people the way you talk to your friends, you're not formal and stiff. You think about what you do when you sit around and relax, you know, cocktails, right? Breakthrough cocktail. So when I sit around on the patio with my friends, what do we do? We sit around and tell each other stories. When you talk to people like you talk to people you like, you tell stories, so do that with your employer. Give them the chance to see the you behind the kind of robotic curtain that people put up in interviews and let them like you and people hire people. They like all things being equal. If your resume looks about the same, that's what got you in the door. The thing that gets you hired over the final couple of candidates, it's the interpersonal stuff and that the stories are such a great way to go with that. So embrace behavioral interviews; they are awesome.

Gary Ware: I totally agree. And as a way to prepare within Improv, you can't really prepare. We run through games, but as a way to prepare, I tell all of my people that I mentor have some stories like about yourself, whether it's, you know, what was the last time you felt yourself in a scary situation? You know, how do you have fun, you know, and anytime I come across a really good story that I could use in any situation I sort of just jot down and actually that reminds me of one other game that I would like to play the team, Lisa, if you would like to be so brave and it's called the Monkey Wrench game. I don't know if there's a technical term. So a Lisa, if you would be brave to be the person on this one. I asked them to tell me a story about anything. It's just telling your story, but I'm going to throw out random words and then you have to just take that word and immediately add it to your story.

Lisa Cummings: Okay. Love it.

Gary Ware: Cool. So to get you started, maybe just tell me a story about a time when someone had fun since we were talking about.

Lisa Cummings: Once upon a time there was a man who had no fun in his life and he went on a quest to have fun training.(Gary Ware suggests the word ‘tractor’) So he showed up at his friend's farm and said, you know, I've lived in the city my whole life and I want to learn to drive a tractor. In fact I want to operate the backhoe because I think it will be so much fun. So his friend got him out and he started tooling around with all of those knobs and sticks and he started thinking, wow, this is not as fun as I thought. Gary Ware suggests the word ‘plank’) I want to do something else on the farm I want to... So his friend said, I think you'd have more fun if you walk the plank. And the guy said, oh, what do you mean walk the plank? I thought you walk the plank when you were like getting off to buy haters or something.

Lisa Cummings: And so Joe said, no, no, no, no, no. Walking the plank here is great. So we take them out to the pool and stands them out on the diving board, puts a blindfold on him and asks him to jump. So he jumps in the pool and (Gary Ware suggests the word ‘sunset’) so we jumped in the pool and started treading water and Joe said, you know, here's the thing, you've walked the plank, you've done the best cannon ball we've seen in like four years. The next part of fun is whether you can tread water until sunset and do some of that synchronized dancing to the beat of the music on the radio. So we started listening to the songs and moving his body to the sounds of the songs and he felt like a synchronized swimmer in the Olympics. (Gary Ware suggests the word ‘glasses’) So his friend said, you're brilliant. I mean if, if only you had that swimming cap that was pink, you would look great. So let's get out of the pool and finish up the night by having an old fashion and clinking our glasses because today was a breakthrough for fun.

Gary Ware: Yay. "And, scene". How it was that? Thank you for being a Guinea pig.

Lisa Cummings: That was a cool game. Yeah, I really liked it. I've done the game where you do story building where you do like once upon a time and you started off and then you just cut yourself, you edit yourself and the next person has to build on the story and let it roll. So I really, I really liked it, I'm pivoting because your mind's going in one direction and then you have to jump over to the side and make it something totally different. So I thought it was pretty fun.

Gary Ware: Great. Yeah. And I have to say the story became even more creative because with this and I do a lot of people that I mentor with is to get them out of their head and be ready for anything. And now you created a story that you never would've thought you would've went there and I had no idea. And yeah, sometimes again, in interviews and on the workplace, you think you know where things are going and then you get thrown a monkey wrench, you know, pivot and adjust.

Lisa Cummings: And sadly for this episode, things have to pivot to the close so we have to do more of this though, is so good. Thanks for the monkey wrench game and the interview game, Gary. I mean this has been quite the strengths jam, so I know a lot of readers can learn from this advice you gave on telling stories during interviews, whether the interviewer or the interview, my favorite action to out of this whole conversation is to practice at least one “yes, and” every day and then you'll notice how much you say but as well and just watch what it does for your influence, for your listening and for your trust on the team. That one tiny word, yes instead of but, can change the whole dynamic on your team. And then for that monkey wrench game, try that with your group at work.

Lisa Cummings: It's such a fun team builder and it's really good for getting in that creative mindset when you need to or for exercising your adaptability muscle if you have to deal with a lot of change and it's even a way to practice that. “yes, and” concept because it builds on other people's ideas, even if that's not where you were planning to take the conversation. Now I know all of you listeners want to check out more from Gary. You can find him at breakthroughplay.com.

Direct download: 028-Gary-Ware.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT