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Episode 65
Minter Dial AfterCast™ Bonus Episode.Storytelling & Serendipity

In this bonus AfterCast™ episode Samuel Monnie and Chris Lawson recap, reflect and remix topics from the Episode 64 interview with Minter Dial. We discuss being your real and authentic self, the power of role modeling modern leadership, Sam picks a different leadership quote from Jacinda Ardern and three key takeaways.

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  • Insights on Self Expression in the workplace from Heather A.Cavise

  • Learnings from Leena Nair CHRO at Unilever and their new social contract of work  

  • The critical skill of listening and the risk of multi-tasking

  • Leadership sucks a bold statement from Minter Dial’s book: You Lead - How Being Yourself Makes You a Better Leader

  • How storytelling can help to avoid miscommunication, misunderstanding and disagreement when communicating

  • Honest storytelling a Peleton case study 

Transcript:

SAM:

Welcome to Across the Pond - Marketing Transformed. I'm Samuel Monnie and I'm joined by Chris Lawson. Say hello to the audience, Chris.

 

CHRIS:

Hey Sam, how are you doing? Hey audience.

 

SAM:

This week, we're going to go a bit deeper into some of the topics that were raised by last week's episode; a great interview with Minter Dial. We're going to go deeper into some of the themes we raised. 

 

Leadership Sucks

 

SAM:

Minter Dial: he's a professional speaker, a storyteller, consultant, and veteran exec. He had a 16 year high-profile career at L'Oreal and I was a guest on his podcast back in 2019, and I enjoyed that. He's a charismatic and fascinating guy. He's been podcasting for decades now. Like many of our guests, he has a great LinkedIn headline. It's inspiring because he says he's a keynote speaker and emcee, not a rapper but someone who just comes across so well through audio. He's an author, a podcaster, an elevator, as he describes himself. I think of him as a Renaissance man. He's been in at least 12 professions. He’s someone who's just able to reinvent themselves and also the mindset to try their hands at many things, be it writing, broadcasting, music, entrepreneurial adventures. 

 

He's worked in a zoo and an aquarium. He's been a tennis teaching pro, an investment banker, pots and pans salesman, and a couple of years ago, I got an invite to see his film. Yes, he's also a film producer. He's written a book and a documentary called The Last Ring Home, a very personal story of his grandfather and the relationship his grandfather had with Minter's father and the experiences his grandfather had during world war two. You have to check out the interview with him last week because his range of experiences is truly, truly rich. 

 

CHRIS:

He's a charismatic guy, isn't he Sam?

 

SAM:

He's a thinker and thinks ahead thinking forward about the modern principles and he's written a number of books, one of them, Heartifical Empathy, getting heart into business and artificial intelligence that captured my imagination. There's a point in there that he  says, "when you're striving to understand others, that doesn't mean agreeing with them or giving into them, selfishly it's about learning and expanding your own horizons." That thought has just stayed with me. That belief has stayed with me. We spoke at length about his latest book, which is called You Lead; how being yourself makes you a better leader. Ultimately, it's about being in touch and being bold about the changes, including your career, rejecting the rose tinted glasses or the other rules that you  thought you had to follow and about being authentic and with all this in mind. He has a refreshing take on leadership and the impact on doing it,  and also the people you're leading. 

 

There's a quote he says 

 

"leadership sucks. We have 70% of employees stating that they feel unengaged at work. It's just so wrong. If I feel that the issue is that we are so forced to put on a persona, wear a tie and be somebody else." 

 

CHRIS:

That's a statement and a half, isn't it. Leadership sucks is a bold statement, but he does back it up in the interview. I think what is at the essence of his career and that leadership style is that he still talks a lot about how without self-expression, without being able or being prepared to show more of yourself, then you're not delivering a good, authentic leadership experience. It's interesting, isn't it? Because clearly we chose Minter because we were inspired by him and hope that our audience would get a lot out of it as well. 

 

We covered a lot of ground with Minter and we had to edit  it down considerably, which is a real shame, but hopefully we can go back over it and bring some more to life. There's also a parallel to marketing there, which I think he  gets into and we cover as well. Of course, you are going to  edit it down and show the best bits but that's not real life as well. So how do you get away from this glossy image that we sometimes try to get across with marketing or leadership and be authentic and heartfelt at the same time?

 

SAM:

There's another quote he shared, he wasn't quoting himself, but I picked up from what he said; “it's really, it's about bringing elements of you in and understanding that you of course have the secret garden and then private stuff that needs to be kept private but so often is because we have some private stuff or secret garden that we're not prepared to share anything that's personal, even like our sense of humor. And you need to find your path within that and understand that.” So there's this tension between bringing your whole self and putting yourself first versus what the company expects or letting the company dominate you and, and your own personality and your standpoints. There's an important role for setting the right boundaries and the balance of having autonomy and the ability to control what you do versus like that feeling of being imposed upon. Now more than ever it's leading to a lot of anxiety and stress in the workplace and spilling into personal life. 


 

Challenging Self-expression

SAM:

In episode 31 of our show, we talked about human first, digital second, and the risk of an over-emphasis and over-investment in tech versus actually developing and growing and investing in people. As we're thinking about this dilemma, this challenge we have done some research, as well as simply giving our own opinions. Not to get too academic, I started reading a dissertation I found online by Heather A. Cavise  on self-expression in the workplace, some of the nuggets are: " self-expression helps you get joy and happiness, in spite of any unfavorable conditions, it's a source of inspiration. By expressing yourself, you contribute to realizing your potential and desires and self-learning and increasing self esteem." So there are clear positives in doing that and a lot of companies are now thinking from their perspective, they claim, "we're a people first culture".


 

You get a sense that that's really happening well at Unilever, they have this new social contract of work led by Leena Nair, the chief HR officer. I strongly recommend you to check out what Unilever are up to. There's some effort they're putting into ensuring that purpose is at the core of what employees do, investing in them now and ongoing training and up-skilling people, but in a flexible way and equipping millions of young people with essential skills for the job. They made commitments to say that by 2025, re-skill or up-skill employees so they have a future fit skillset. They're going to hire in their employment models so that their people have access to flexible employment options by 2030. Then they're going to help equip 10 million young people with essential skills to prepare them for job opportunities by 2030.

 

CHRIS:
I really like that, Sam. It feels like a fresh approach, which is good. 10 year goals that put new skills bang center for young people, sounds like absolutely the right thing to do. Something where we touch on a little bit later as well. Let's face it self-expression has been embraced in some areas for years. You think about creative industries, you think about copywriters and designers, editors or journalists, but also in gaming as well and developers, it's really interesting. There's little nods of self-expression. People will be demonstrating their craft and it's more difficult now I think to pick up on self expression when we're working remotely. I think that will be a challenge going forward. I think we've all felt that, that we've all felt the drain of being just another face in another square, in a zoom call. If you think about that, about the ways that we used to sort of self express, you know, those small details wearing in a piece of clothing that you particularly mean something to you. Even just down to yelling frustration, at the TV, crossing a road, at traffic or at work or whatever it may well be and using body language either consciously or unconsciously, but tells you how someone feels or is feeling or whether they're trying to make themselves look taller or smaller. A lot of these ways are lost when we're staring at a zoom call all the time. I think it is fascinating to think how that will change in the future. 

 

SAM:

There's definitely opportunities as we return back to more of in-person culture. Noticing our body language is so critical when you're communicating and  60% or whatever the number is that high of communication comes through tone, expression and body language, not actually the words we say. Words matter, but human beings being present with other human beings matters a lot more. 

 

CHRIS:

Absolutely. We've talked about this over the series a lot. Number 34,  was all about how modern marketers lead with compassion and  strength. Then we moved it on in terms of thinking about how do you role model modern leadership and what that is and about the fact that you need to reset redefined success and take a step back and think how you're going to respond before you respond, but making sure you show up. That was about showing up using that phrase to represent the whole of you, rather than just a part of you and trying to bring that diverse team around. So this is something which we were just really pleased when we were talking to Minter, it is what he really embodies. 

 

SAM:

Yeah, he gets it. He's passionate about it and he's advocating it. Especially, guys talking about feelings, emotions, and empathy and all these things that traditionally or stereotypically it's been something that men have not been good at all said to be not good at. So to actually be sharing these deeper personal stories and things that are going on personally, as well as professionally, it's encouraging that  men are starting to open up and role model the positive aspects of leadership.

 

CHRIS:

There was this point in the podcast where he was saying that it didn't matter how many people listened to his podcast. He wanted it to start with a good one-to-one conversation so that his guests got something out of that. And that even if it was only them listening to it, that it was worth doing. I feel that was a really, really important point because he’s actually saying, “well, my audience is the other person at the end of the podcast.” That of course is about the power of listening and such an important skill. I honestly think when I talk about role modeling leadership, and I'm going to put it out there, the most important thing you can do to role model leadership is to learn how to listen. I think that's the number one skill. 

 

How much do we really listen to?

CHRIS:

A psychologist called Carol Rogers, who has done a lot of work in this area, talks about how active listening is a specific communication skill, which is all about giving that free undivided attention to the speaker and letting that beaver, how you can change and how you can evolve. But the fact that actually it's so rarely taught well, if at all. I was  looking at some stats on this. 85% of what we have learned is through listening, first of all. So the talking, the reading, is actually about listening. That's important, but we know, and it's one of those classic things you go through in presentation training that a lot of the time we're distracted, we're preoccupied and after listening to someone talk, we immediately only recall about 50%. 

 

SAM:

Sorry, Chris, what did you say? 

 

CHRIS:

Well, actually, Sam, don't worry about it because it's irrelevant anyway. 

 

SAM:

That was a joke. That was a joke, listeners.  A bad British joke.

 

CHRIS:

Sam, if it was a bad British joke, they know it's going to come from you. 

 

So, an hour later, we remember less than 20% of what we heard. The point there,is that less than 2% of the population has had a formal education on how to listen. I feel that's just a staggering fact. All the management courses that you go to or throughout your career, very rarely it's about listening. The thing that Minter brought us back to and is a lesson to us all, is that stories have to be engaging to make you want to listen as well. The second aspect of role modeling, good leadership I think, is about engagement. And that means responding, reacting, and interacting. 

 

Why is all of this important ? We go back to your point about training up  the young people in the skills. 63% of millennials believe their leadership skills are not being fully developed. Yet, we know that by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be made up of millennials. So, we've got to get our act together on this with, on the job training, I think. We talked about way back now, episode 16 about unleashing, hidden value, how you can. Link that back into what leadership is and that value is about creating value out of leadership, which is about good listening, allowing employees to use self-expression. If you can continue to let your leadership evolve. Then your employees will get a greater amount out of that in the future. Again, banging on a theme that is dear to our heart, but I think the most important thing is when you look at it, we have to focus on this area for it to role model leadership.  

 

SAM:

As you can tell, this is supposed to be a marketing transformation podcast series, but this leadership and the role modeling and doing it in an empathetic way and showing up and being authentic, all of that stuff is part and parcel of being successful in transforming doing marketing well, and I'll talk a bit more about listening and developing later on. As we're doing this, as we're thinking about, ‘okay, how to actively role model and who to look to’. There's a great quote by Jacinda Arden, the prime minister of New Zealand. And there's another quote I normally say, but as this one stood out to me more, "it takes courage and strength to be empathetic. And I'm very proudly an empathetic and compassionate leader. I'm trying to chart a different path and that will attract criticism  but I can only be true to myself and a form of leadership I believe in." She said that in a BBC interview a few years ago. It’s great to see that that type of leadership, her role modeling her leadership is being revered, admired, and emphasized and advocated across the world, not just in New Zealand, but for all leaders to follow. 

 

CHRIS:

That's a great quote, Sam simply put, but again, just really the essence of what we're talking about here. 


 

IMHO

SAM:

So if we want to shamelessly plug Minter's book, You Lead, there's a section in there that talks about the CHECK mindset, and CHECK is an acronym for curiosity, humility, empathy, courage and karmic. These are components of leading with authenticity and a key enabler to leading in the right way. It's about self-awareness and the ability to open up. There's a line he shared from another book by a guy called Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life. And it's about humility.  Humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but instead it's thinking of ourselves less. I love that. Not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less. It is a habit I've hopefully broken. I might've said it in one of the shows before; if saying you say something like in my humble opinion, or the abbreviation used by the kids out there, IMHO,  but of course, if you need to prefix what you say with IMHO then clearly what comes next cannot be humble. 

 

CHRIS:

To be honest, Sam, I think you completely failed on that one. So carry on, move on. 

 

SAM:

So listen, when we think about the leaders, I've admired, they've been skilled communicators and they are advocates of improving communication is the gateway to success, but there's so many different generations in the workforce, and there's a big discussions of can they work together, how to get your boomers and your gen Z's and everyone on the same page, despite very different styles and how we communicate, collaborate and connect with our multi-generational colleagues is key. Of course we can work together simply just to be more mindful. Empathetic and patient with fellow human beings, we can all do that. The world today is just full of so many barriers and biases that constrained communication. I've seen throughout my career, how miscommunication or misunderstanding or disagreements can be the difference between success and failure in the work we do. 

 

So for marketers, digital transformation has moved this to something that  is on the to-do list, it's the necessities above the to-do list. The pandemic has obviously accelerated the rapid pace of change and it's transformed the customer consuming, shopper, beliefs, and behaviors, and, and you know what they're looking for, how they research and how they communicate. So you've really got to do this really well. 

 

As we think about another area of doing that well, that leads to the concept or the idea of just honest storytelling. We talked about storytelling a number of times and stories have the power to inspire your customers and consumers into action without actually needing to directly influence or sell. You're trying to inspire them through honest storytelling. There's an example of a brand that was on a high and now under huge scrutiny and that CHECK mindset, I think fits really well. The brand is called Peloton and they're the athletic equipment brand they're known for their cycle and were lauded for not needing marketing or advertising during the pandemic. They were experiencing high demand and actually some supply chain issues to actually keep up with demand because everyone's been buying their, their bikes and their treadmills, but they've had to recall their tread and tread plus treadmills after unfortunately, after the death of a child and around at least 70 reports of injuries.  

 

The problem for them is that they were resistant to re doing the recall and they've had to apologize and promise to work more closely with the consumer product safety commission. This is where you have to communicate openly, transparently and humbly about what went wrong. They've got to start on a path to rebuild trust by role modeling safety. You've had all these issues and incidents and people being killed. Safety has to be your brand manifesto, the rationale behind that: you've [Peleton] got to connect with people where they are now and really understand with empathy, what they're hearing and what they're feeling. My push to Peloton is to do it in an authentic way so that customers can tell their own stories of safety, spend time to gather the customer's story and their true struggles, their needs, their goals. So it's the customer or the consumer, absolutely and resolutely, has to be the hero of the story. So not the brand, it's about the customer. We've been trained as marketers to advocate for the brand. 

 

We need to sometimes unlearn that skill and understand deeply it's about truly listening with empathy, compassion and then inspire your, your audience.It's got to be through the lens of the customer. That's why I love helping marketers because we train them on how to tell stories that connect and inspire with the customers. We do that at CI squared and we actually start off by helping people learn how to listen. We've been given a brain, but not really instructions. So quieting the brain and just truly listening with empathy is key. We train our customers on how to build and tell stories that are relevant and resonate with the customer. And we teach you how to communicate more effectively with your colleagues and agencies to work more productively. And so I love doing that work. So Chris yep. You think we've made the case. You've made the case. I've made the case. Minter's made the case and it's proven, but there's still a contrarian view out there. 

 

In my, not so humble opinion, the CMO of Yum brands, I think KFC's one of the brands he's responsible for, Ken Meunch. He makes an out of touch argument, that brand purpose is not marketing and says marketers shouldn't use purpose as a way of defining their brand or marketing it. For me, you'll never truly connect with your employees or your audiences, or understand, or even inspire your employees and customers. If you limit the sole role of marketing, ie the job of marketers or the purpose of mine is to make money. That's just so limiting. Legacy brands can't ignore purpose and stand idly by as their customers and  stakeholders wish to challenge  brands and startups that shape and share better stories. So,  my recommendation to Ken at  Yum brands, the CMO there is just research the B corporations like Ben and Jerry's or BrewDog, Saxbys is a coffee chain and in the US Patagonia there's inspiration and evidence of what the thriving, modern business and what marketing world is becoming. There's just so much evidence at an abundance of evidence that the purpose matters.

 

CHRIS:

A lot of work that I'm doing with the startup and scale-up community, is working with tech companies as well. They sort of say “how does this apply to me?” I produce the software for business use. Actually it does apply because there is an angle that is important from a personal perspective. So recycling technology, for instance, trying to create a lower carbon footprint by actually finding ways to recycle  technology, I think is a good example of someone that I'm working with at the moment. Again, that's where I get my passion from. That's my 'why', it's understanding that you don't have to have an army of resources or multi-millions of the bank. You can make this work if you look for it. 

 

SAM:

Thanks for sharing that, Chris. I'll go next and share  my mission as well. Simply put it's to put people before the P&L (profit and loss) and I have this unwavering belief in the infinite abilities of people. Behind that communication is key, effective communication is critical to unleashing people's full potential and  fulfilling the business growth. I've been part of hierarchies where senior league members like myself, we didn't really value or listen to the opinions of other team members who had good, better information to help us actually course correct. Despite how hard they were trying. They weren't listened to as we launched products that were rejected by customers or ignored by consumers and had to be recalled or we lost money on them. Doing it this way impacts morale negatively; it constrains productivity, it damages trust, trust just gets wiped out and it has a negative drain on the P&L. 

 

So we know that employees are unfulfilled at work and leaders fail to address the problem because they haven't realised how serious it is. Research shows that 50% of millennials and 75% of gen Z's quit a job for mental health reasons, including anxiety and stress, that their jobs cause. So leaders who don't invest in their employees won't retain them. Growth, I truly believe, comes from up-skilling and reskilling people to be fit for their future of work. My greatest passion is helping people unleash their creativity and discover their potential. That's why I'm so proud to be doing the work as a managing partner CI squared because we believe that human connection is the key to unlocking productivity, and we teach you how to prevent miscommunication and misunderstanding.

 

CHRIS:

That's a good place to end this session I think, Sam. Before we do of course, we need to get the three key takeouts on reflections. 


 

Three Key Takeaways

SAM:

  1. So the three things this week are: firstly, purpose absolutely does matter. The evidence is abundant and the research is out there. 

  2. Secondly, learn how to listen. You'll be surprised how critical and fundamental that is to being a great leader, to being an effective leader and role model. 

  3. And thirdly, bring all of yourself to work. Own your authenticity at work and know that yes, you may be taking a risk, but being authentic is including and doing that.

 

CHRIS:

Good stuff, Sam. Can't argue with any of those. So next week we're talking to Allen Adamson, our final guest in the series, and he's, co-founder managing partner of Metaforce. A real industry expert on all disciplines of branding. He’s worked with a real broad spectrum of consumer, corporate businesses from packaged goods and tech to healthcare and financial services, hospitality, you name it basically. We will be discussing the challenge of balancing theory versus real world practices that actually work for brands. Doing purpose, bringing it to life and the idea of routine disruption, which I really love. So it's going to be a great episode. 

 

SAM:

There are some really juicy subjects there, which are perhaps more marketing centric, but link back and throughout this overall season five, thanks for staying with us audience. We are really enjoying it and really looking forward to next week.  

 

Without further ado, have a great week across the pond.