On June 7th, I delivered a keynote address to 720+ attendees of the azcentral Top Companies to Work for in Arizona presented by the Arizona Commerce Authority. The awards show was held at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. If you haven’t been, the resort is astonishing. I’m very grateful the team at USAA recorded the keynote’s audio.

You can listen to the recording here.

I began with a review of my journey growing up in a small West Michigan town working for my father’s landscaping, lawn maintenance, and snow plowing business. After asking the audience to close their eyes and envision the best weekend of their lives, I shared how the best weekend of my life involved a divorce from my first wife, losing a pile of money, short-selling my home, and starting an MBA at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. It wasn’t fun, but it was what I needed to awaken, uncover my pain-to-purpose journey, and begin helping others.

Thankfully, at Thunderbird, I received coaching and mentorship that would identify the patterns in my life’s narrative, uncover my purpose, and begin writing the guiding statements that allow me to now lead my ideal life. What I learned was that every one of the challenges we experience aren’t in vain, but can be used to help others overcome similar challenges of their own. My mission is now focused on finding untraditional methods to help people disconnected from their purpose uncover and live their purpose.

I then shared with the audience five ways they could use the pain-to-purpose journey to more deeply engage their staff. The five channels are 1-to-1 meetings, 1-to-many meetings, change management, continuous learning, and process focus. The uncovering of one’s pain-to-purpose journey can be used day-to-day to benefit ourselves and our work teams to accomplish personal long-term goals and organizational strategic objectives. The audience was particularly happy about one of the slides that discussed the need to “give a shit” about people to increase employee engagement.

You can review the slide deck here.

Additional takeaways from the keynote that may interest you –

  • invest 60 minutes of time into each of your direct reports to learn how he or she wants to be communicated to, use strengths, be motivated, receive appreciation, learn and grow, interact with a best friend at work, and connect his/her personal mission to the organization’s mission
  • humans have deep needs for connection, especially when battling their own fears, so we must connect with them to make them feel as though they’re capable of anything
  • change management initiatives fail 70% of the time because of lack of communication, no executive sponsorship, weak connection to wildly important goals, and employee resistance; instead, remember that people tend to support what they help to create so get them involved as early and as often as you can
  • volunteer armies of employees are the linchpin of success helping organizations lead change at scale; leaders can’t command change, they must create culture that mass customizes employee engagement
  • the most successful people realized they were the average of the five people they spent the most time with, so they became great at dropping loser friends and gaining winner friends; they learn, unlearn, and relearn often
  • I’ve learned that success isn’t how much money you make, it’s that the person is 1% better than he or she was yesterday; for my clients, success is that an increasingly larger percentage of his or her day is spent living his/her life’s mission
  • having an outcome focus kills engagement, today’s leaders understand they must recognize their team, celebrate wins frequently, and have a process focus; daily habits matter more than goals

I finished the talk reminding the audience they should “be the person they needed when they were younger” and encouraged everyone to learn one new detail about their colleague’s journeys each week. Uncovering your own pain-to-purpose journey is difficult work. Helping others do the same is tough, too. But, if you listen actively, you can learn exactly what you need to to be able to engage your team at deep levels.

Resources referenced you may find helpful –
Robert Waldinger, TED Talk “What makes a good life?
Gallup.com – State of the American Workplace
Languages of Appreciation, appreciationatwork.com
Stephen M.R. Covey, “Speed of Trust”, www.speedoftrust.com
Patrick Lencioni, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”
Michael S. Seaver, “Equal Chance To Be Unequal” – Episode 3- How to Uncover Your Life’s Purpose
Kotterinc.com, 8-Step Model for Leading Change
Astro Teller, astroteller.net; TED Talk “The unexpected benefit of celebrating failure
Mel Robbins, “The 5 Second Rule”, melrobbins.com
Daniel Kahneman, “Thinking Fast and Slow”
Dr. Dan Ariely, “Predictably Irrational”, danariely.com
Dr. Antonio Dimassio, “Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain”
McKinsey & Company, mckinsey.com,  “4 Building Blocks of Change