It is truly annoying – and expensive – to have a business process that does not actually work and just wastes up all of your resources. What can make it even duller is its lack of humanity, putting the growth and connection between people at stake. Joining Steve Farber to explain the right way to integrate humanity through love when reinventing your processes is Glodean Champion, a speaker and transformative leader who created the LOVE Method and Kaizen Your Life programs. She shares her most inspiring experiences coaching leaders to help make their businesses processes more impactful to their hard-working employees, allowing them to fully embrace their purpose as part of the team and giving them opportunities for further growth. Glodean also explains why one’s vulnerability goes with another person’s empathy, which ultimately contributes to meaningful community building.
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Six Sigma, Kaizen And… Love? Bringing Humanity Into The Business Process With Glodean Champion
My guest is my friend, Glodean Champion. I’m not sure where to start to tell you about her and who she is because she is such an unusual combination of extraordinary talent. Let me start with this. She is a Lean Six Sigma expert and a Six Sigma Black Belt. For those of you who know anything about the business process, you will know what that means. For the rest of you, know that it’s a meticulous process, training, and very rigorous. She is a black belt and you know what that means. It doesn’t mean that she’s going to take you down. It means that she knows her process stuff.
In addition to that, she is a writer and has a novel called Salmon Croquettes. She has a Master’s in Fine Arts in Writing. She is a transformational leader, coach, speaker, educator, storyteller, creator of The LOVE Method and Kaizen Your Life programs which provide the tool, strategy, and support to help people create meaningful change in their organization and their lives. She’s also, as it turns out, a certified facilitator of the Extreme Leadership Workshop which is one of the ways I came to know Glodean. She is also in a process of working out her book called Tough Love: Sh*t My Momma Used to Say. You are in for quite a treat. Please join me in my great conversation with Glodean Champion.
Glodean Champion, welcome to the show. It’s great to talk to you.
Thank you very much. It’s great to be here.
There’s so much I want to ask you about and talk to you about. Let’s start with your story. From looking at it from a high level in your bio, there are two things that come together right from the start one is this LOVE approach that you’re on and the other is Kaizen and process. We don’t typically see those words meshed together in the same paragraph or sentence. I’m curious about all of that. When you throw into the mix, you’ve got your novel. I don’t know where to start with you. I want to start with your story. Tell us not from the minute you were born, the high level, the journey that’s brought you to us thus far.
The beginning of my story is quite interesting seeing as how I was adopted by a single woman back when they were telling to parent black families no, my mom got a yes, but I found out that she was part of a program. They had 30 single black parents that they gave children to. My mom was one of those 30, but I’m sure that she had something to do with them making the program because she bugged the crap out of it until she got what she wanted.
It was unusual for a single mom to adopt. It was even more unusual for a single black mom to adopt. Is that what you’re saying?
It’s very much so. They did this thing called matching. My mom had to send pictures of her siblings and my grandparents, and then they matched me up with her. I favor my mother’s oldest sister, which they don’t do that anymore because we have got multicultural families. That’s why my next book is called Tough Love because my mom gave unconditional love, even though she was hard on me at times. I’ve come up that way. My first job was like a love fest because I went through the NAACP, I had this new career. I was training in a placement center. It was supposed to be a three-month secretarial prepare you for work thing, but I had decided halfway through the program, I wasn’t going all the way. I was going to get the job when we went on our mock interviews. I was only seventeen. They sent me to this CPA firm, Zivetz, Schwartz & Saltsman. I interviewed the owner of the company.
Where was that?
In Century City in Los Angeles. I didn’t know anything. We’re having the interview and he says, “Can you write shorthand?” I had figured out my shorthand because I didn’t understand the shorthand they were trying to teach us. He dictated a letter and then I went, typed it up, and brought it back to him. He says, “This isn’t what I said.” I’m arguing with him because that’s exactly what he said. Then he goes, “I like you.”
You said to him, “You’re wrong and I’ll tell you why.”
I was like, “That’s not what you said. You said like this.” He said, “I want to hire you. Can I call your mom because you’re seventeen?” I said, “Okay.” I gave him the number. He calls my mom. He got her on speakerphone. He says, “Ms. Champion, I’m sitting here with your daughter, doing an interview. I want to hire her. The kid’s got spunk. I need to get your permission.” My mom said, “Why?” He said, “Because she’s underage.” My mom said, “Are you going to pay her?” He said, “Yeah.” She was like, “Go ahead.” That got me started in my work life. I went to the Navy after that and did some other things. I quit corporate in 2003.
You went from the Navy into the corporate world doing what?
I did odd jobs because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. The companies that I worked for, the only thing that I liked doing in any of them was finding ways to make things better. I’d wind up doing things that didn’t have anything to do with my job and then I’d get that job because I have created something that needed to be fixed. I didn’t know that was a thing though. I didn’t like the jobs that I had because I didn’t have a degree. This was a pivotal moment in my life. My aunt said to me when I was in my mid-twenties that if I didn’t get a degree, I would never make any money.
It was like, “What? I’d already been making more money than somebody my age should have been making.” It was a challenge. I worked for this shipping company as a secretary and I used to break my computer. Remember, Windows, DOS and WordPerfect? You used to have to type the WPN to get it going. I used to delete it and then call the help desk and see how the guy came to fix it. Carlos was his name. He used to go around everybody’s desk. I was like, “I liked that job. You get to talk to people and fix the computer.” I deleted stuff and then watched how he fixed it and I was like, “That’s what I want to do.”If one team member won't do well, another has to work harder. Click To Tweet
You’d sabotage your computer so you can see how he would fix it, learn how to fix it, and you could do that job. There’s a technical term for that. It’s called spunk.
I hated my job. I needed to do something else. I was married at the time. I went home and took my husband’s computer part a few times. He came home from work one day with the pieces on the floor. He’s like, “Why is my computer in pieces?” I was like, “Because that’s my next job. I’ve got to figure out how to fix it.” I read everything I could read and then I got a job at the help desk. Two years later I was leading projects, doing computer installations, and traveling. I had created this job that I loved, all in IT, hands-on, fixing things and they’d give me the hardest things to fix because I was a girl and that’s what the guys would do.
I’d be coming home in tears and my husband was like, “They’re making you a better technician. Stop crying about it,” which was true. I then had a contract in Wilton, Connecticut and I was supposed to be on the project team and I was hanging around with the smartest guy. I always did on jobs. I found the person I knew the most and then I partnered up with them. That contract was a month-long project in Connecticut. I went from being on the team to be the project lead. I liked being the leader of it because that had a whole different thing attached to it. I get to talk to people and help them understand what’s going on and why we’re changing their computers. I was like, “I like this too.”
I wound up in project management shortly after that, but still hands-on IT and then I worked my way into management roles. I was on my way to a director position. I was thinking about applying with no degree, and then I realized, “I hate this job. I didn’t like being in management either.” As I went into each role again, I was always finding the thing that wasn’t working and making it better. That was the part of every job I loved. Getting into management made me feel like I was a babysitter and I wasn’t that soft, coddling leader. I would tell people the truth and I realize people don’t like it.
I got a lot of respect from the senior leaders. I used to work for Bayer Pharmaceuticals. The president of the site would travel to Germany and then call me over because I was the client services manager. I manage the help desk, desktop, and training. He’d bring me chocolate back from Germany and people couldn’t understand why Paul was doing that. I’m like, “He likes me because I don’t BS him.” I learned that too. I quit corporate altogether and went back to school because I was making $120,000 or $130,000. I was in my early 30s, and my aunt said I wouldn’t make any money. It was like, “Now I can go get my degree.”
Make real money.
It’s not quite how it worked. I got my Bachelor’s in English Lit and my Master’s in Writing. Guess how much money I made when I graduated?
It must be tens of dollars.
At one point, I was making $9,800 a year.
Do you know what my undergraduate degree was in?
It’s the same thing.
It’s Literature. Here we are. As an aside, I remember when I was in college, I was going to be a musician. When I was figuring out what career I wanted to go into, I remember talking to somebody, it was one of those conversations that went by very quickly, but it had a huge impact. He was a fellow student, his father was a successful business guy. He said, “My dad says that if you get a degree in Literature, you can go into any field because if you learn how to interpret, how to take in, interpret ideas and express your own, you can bring that to anything.”
That was what made me decide to be a Lit major. I ended up being one of the few who in some way, did go on to monetize an actual Lit degree in writing books, but I have found that learning how to communicate in a written and also in a spoken form gives you a great advantage because few people pay attention to that. They get focused on developing a particular skill. By the way, I’m not saying that’s bad, but also learn how to interpret ideas and communicate their own. They’d be much better at whatever it is they did.
It’s how I wound up doing what I’m doing. I did Lit because I like to read and I figured if I’d quit a job to go back to school, I wanted to do something I was going to enjoy. I hadn’t even thought about like, “What am I going to do afterward?” I wound up teaching, especially after I got my Master’s. People were like, “What are you going to do with the Master’s in Writing? Teach?” I was like, “No. I don’t want to teach.” I wound up at a high school and teaching. I loved the kids. I love seeing their faces when they got something, sharing my life with them, and we talk about things.
I went into being a professor because I took one of those high school kids out in the hallway to have a conversation with him. He was a black kid and he was in class what I would call clowning. He wasn’t paying attention. On purpose, he was distracting the class. I knew he was smarter than that. I took him out in the hall to have a conversation with. I knew that when I lifted him up so that we could talk face to face, it was going to be my last job teaching, but it wasn’t, he loved it. He knew I cared. He came to class from then on.
You grabbed him by the scruff and lift him up off the floor.
I pulled him up and I knew I was going to get fired.
Glodean, you are not a dainty petite little woman. I imagine from this kid’s perspective, I could see that would have gone either way. That would have either been your last moment as a teacher or you changed that kid’s life in a positive way.Frustration would be the result if people within the team will not talk with one another. Click To Tweet
It changed his life in a positive way. The funniest part was watching his eyes get bigger as he got higher up the wall. By the time we were eye to eye, I had his full attention. It made me realize that maybe I was brought here to teach because of the instant connection that I made with teaching and it didn’t matter who the students were because even when I got to the college level, I wasn’t having to connect with them that way. I realized that I did the right thing. I didn’t make a lot of money. That’s what brought me back into Corporate America, but I loved teaching and I realized that was part of my focus. I wound up at a debt collection agency. I came in to be a technical writer because I’d forgotten I had a corporate experience. I took a job as a tech writer because I thought that was going to be fun. The CIO wanted to build a corporate compliance department and asked me if I wanted to help. I was like, “Of course.” We built this department, hired people, and got it all structured. I was like, “Now what do I do?”
I’m trying to remind you, given that last story you told as a corporate compliance person, pulling people out into the hallway, by the scruff of the neck, lifting them up off the floor, look at him in the eye, and a debt collection agency. The common thread that I’m hearing so far, is that whatever you were given up until that point, you figured out some way to elevate it into something that became interesting to you by picking it apart, understanding it, and taking it to a higher level.
That’s exactly what I did. The company hired a Six Sigma Master Black Belt. It was during not the interview process, but once you had gotten the job, and he said there were eight execs in the room. He asked them, “Who is the person who has a good rapport with the employees and gets things done.” “Seven of the eight,” said Glodean. We got partnered up to become the process optimization team. Pete Berg was the best leader I’ve ever had. He taught me servant leadership. He helped me recognize that I was born to do this work.
Was he the Six Sigma Black Belt?
He went through the GE Lean Six Sigma training. He embodied all of this. All of the love, process, servant leadership, knowing that it’s not about him. He was the first leader that I worked for that didn’t try to put me in a box or have me conform to corporate structure because I should have probably never been in corporate. If I had followed my first mind, I would have been a comedian and we wouldn’t be here now. We worked together for a couple of weeks and then we did our first Kaizen event. The Kaizen event is when you pull people in the process that are in different business units together, no more than ten people, and then you have them map out the current state of their process. We teach them Lean Six Sigma Methodology so they can understand we do root cause analysis to help them understand how the process, the basics of the process, but everything we do we teach as we do it.
He told me the Friday before our Kaizen event, this was my first one, “On Monday, you’re going to watch me, and then on Tuesday you’re going to do.” I was like, “What? I don’t even know what we’re doing.” Monday came in, he taught, he told me what we were doing. On Tuesday, we started at 8:00 every morning and usually wrapped up about 5:30 or 6:00. About 10:00, he goes, “What do you want to do?” On that day there’s this thing called the 5 Whys. I said, “I’m going to do the five whys.” He said, “Are you sure?” This was a learning lesson for me. When someone says, “Are you sure?” When you volunteer for something, you might want to think twice about it. I go, “Yeah, how hard could it be?”
The five why is simply you answer a question, you ask why to that and you do that five times.
Not quite that easy because what you’re trying to do is get to the root cause of an issue. I like to use the example of a car, the fan belt breaking. When I went over to the team, I had no idea. I didn’t understand the strategy behind it because it’s not that simple. I’m saying why and one of the issues had been answered two questions in, but I kept saying why because I didn’t understand how to listen for the answer. I got to about the eighth why and in my head, I go, “This is called the 5 Whys, not the 10 Whys. Pete, help.”
This is what I love about him because I know that I’ve worked for other leaders that would have embarrassed me in front of them. They would have taught them what I did wrong and I would have been standing there feeling ashamed. He instead laughed and then said, “Come with me.” We stepped outside. He explained it and said, “I let you do it because you said, ‘How hard can it be?’ I wanted you to see how hard it can be, but you did a great job because you were recognized.” He lifted me up while he was helping me learn. He said, “When you go back in, this is what you need to do.” He didn’t take over for me. He let me fix what I had taken sideways.
Turned you around, sent you back on the proverbial horse.
After that, every day I taught something. He did give me a book, a Lean Six Sigma Toolkit. I read that book over the weekend. I had a general understanding enough to be dangerous. The cool thing was we went through the whole week of this Kaizen. I never worked so hard in my life because it wasn’t about me. It was about uplifting every team member in that room, helping them understand their process, helping them understand why it’s important to make it more streamlined. Every day they had to report out. The leadership team would come in and then they would talk about what they learned, what we’re doing next, what you did, what you learned, and what you’d do differently.
At the end of the week, they did a final report out where they walked leadership through the entire new process map. Every day the leaders could come in and they would see this huge butcher paper on the wall, it covered up the whole conference room wall with all these Post-it Notes on it. That was the current state. On the other wall would be the future state and all the artifacts of everything that we did in the process of getting to that point. They would build proposed solutions to help make the process better.
We would estimate, “Now that we’ve done all this, how much waste have we saved? How have we made the process better?” One of the ones we did, it took forever. We had this one box that we called The Tiffany Circle of Doom because it was one part of the process that kept going like this if nobody took action. The other thing I loved about it was that everybody being in the room understood, “If I don’t do my part, they can’t do their job.” To help them understand that this was a team process, not a me process.
It’s interesting how your natural inclinations converge in this because from the early days in your work life, you saw you had this natural desire and the ability to analyze, pull things apart and understand how they work elevated to another level, which is what process work is. The root cause, helping people to figure out what the solution is, but it also came together with your love of teaching. Now you’re a teacher, process, and putting all that together in an experience in a literal classroom but now for adult business people versus clowns in the high school. The corporate world doesn’t have its clown. What an interesting combination of talents, the creative writing and analytical process part of you coming together in that way. It’s fascinating. I don’t have that. I have some elements of the process in me, but the thought of taking clients through that analytical journey, I’m going to say does not sound like fun to me. I would love to be on the receiving end of it but if I had to facilitate it, it’s not part of who I am.
It’s one of the most rewarding things I could have ever found in my life because, at the end of every Kaizen event, I see a whole different group of people. People come into the room feeling like their voices don’t matter, their leaders aren’t going to listen to them, “What are we making these changes for?” They walk out and they’re like, “We own this process. We can fix it whenever we want,” not in an arrogant way though. They care about each other. They came into the room, they were all individuals. “I’ve got my job to do and you do your job.” They come out of the room, they’re like, “We have to do this together. We’re all in this together. Now I understand why, why so-and-so never takes a vacation because if we don’t do our part, which some of them weren’t doing their part, this other person had to work harder.” Seeing that kind of a transformation.
The hardest part, I picked the two hardest things in the world to teach people, process and love. There would be leaders that resisted the change. They made our job a little bit harder. Pete was that. He’d take you in the office and lift you up by your thigh. He taught me well. He knew how to handle those kinds of leaders and he did it the same way I would’ve done it. He wasn’t that, “Let’s coddle you and I’m going to coach you in cooperating.” He wants to know, “What is this? What is it about this that’s threatening to you? We want to move through this because you’re impacting your team.” All we cared about were the employees. The thing that I loved is that those leaders that started out that way and had to be coached by Pete, by the end of that Kaizen event, seeing that their teams working together, seeing that at the end, we shaved off 68% of waste. A process that took almost a month to complete, now takes maybe 1.5 or 2 weeks. Those leaders were the best leaders for their teams after that.Give your people the autonomy to be innovative and make things great. Click To Tweet
They go through that, they had to internalize it, come to terms with it, get through their resistance to it. Have you noticed a common theme as to why these people are resistant?
Yes because they believe that process works best when it’s pushed from the top down. “I’m the leader. I know best. I’m going to change your process. I’m not going to talk to you about what I’m changing and you’re going to do it,” which 9 times out of 10 people don’t because they know if they do that, it’s not going to work. Sometimes leaders feel like they’re being encroached upon, “This is my kingdom. What are you doing, coming in here and trying to change something?” This quickly makes leaders that think this way realize their challenges that they’re having with their teams in the first place, when they don’t believe that their teams know the process. “You know the process better than they do and they work in it every day. Help me understand that part.”
This is another variation of the theme, “It’s not my idea. I’m the boss. I’m the leader. If I’m not generating an institution then people are going to think that I’m not valuable.” The other thing that I’ve seen in resistance coming from the top, which always strikes me as being the ultimate irony, is that the people who say they want change, tend to be in higher levels of leadership. Oftentimes the people who resist that very change the most are the people in higher levels of leadership. Oftentimes the people writing the check to make the change happen.
What happens for a lot of them, for people in that category is they don’t understand in the beginning that change that they’re asking for oftentimes is going to start with them changing in some particular way. I was like, “I wanted to change.” The way that I’ve described that phenomenon is when a leader gets into that position. Essentially what they’re saying is, “I don’t want to. You can’t make me. I’m fine the way I know.” It’s almost juvenile. What I’m hearing from you is when you coach somebody through that resistance wherever it comes from and they come out the other side, oftentimes those are your greatest supporters.
Sometimes I can’t. I’ve learned. One of the things Pete took us out, we do these events or we do different Lean Six methods through the organization trying to improve the process and I’d see leaders behave badly. I’d be complaining and he would go, “You don’t get to be surprised by this anymore. You get to pick your battles. You either want to coach them because they’re coachable or you recognize that they’re not coachable and you leave it alone.” That was the hardest thing for me because I want to fix everybody. I want everybody to, “Why are you being difficult? You don’t have to be. It’s not this complicated,” but I have learned to pick my battles.
To paraphrase the great philosopher, Tina Turner, what’s love got to do with it?
You are a process person. Put the two of those things together for me.
One of the things that I recognized early on in this journey that I have been on in-process is that processes are usually broken because communication and accountability are broken in an organization. People aren’t talking to each other, people are being held accountable for their process. Sometimes people don’t even know the process. It’s not ever been written down. You come on a job and somebody says, “This is how you do this job.” The next person comes on, that person teaches them, but they figured out a better way to do it so they teach them their way of doing it. Over time, you’ve got ten people doing the same job in ten different ways. Some people get it done in an hour and others take two hours because that’s how long it used to be.
The problem with that is it leads to frustration. When people aren’t talking to each other, she had the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. For some reason in business, people think that’s a good thing. “Don’t tell the other business units what you’re doing change this thing and go about your business.” No. When you care about people and Agape love is having love of humanity. When you care about people, you want to make sure that their jobs are easy so that they can go home at night and be with their families and that they’re not working all the time. When you care about people, you communicate with those people when things are going to change so that they’re not worried about or make a mistake because they didn’t know something changed.
Typically, what will happen is a leader will make a change and then not communicate it down the business line. Somebody will make a terrible mistake that will lead to a customer having a connection and then no one still talks to each other. Now they’re making another change because the customer complained and the person that made the mistake winds up in trouble or maybe gets fired. That’s not love, especially when you know that you made a change, that if you had told this person. To me, here’s the perfect way to say it. You wouldn’t have a child that you didn’t tell you loved on a regular basis and held accountable, expect them to go out into the world, and do great things. My mom held me accountable in all sorts of ways and told me she loved me every single day.
I can’t say that I’ve gone out into the world to do great things, but no, I can say I’ve done some good things. I wonder how my life would have been different if I didn’t have that. If she didn’t hold me accountable and she didn’t tell me that she loved me. In business, it’s not quite to that extreme, sometimes showing your employees that you love them is simply having a sheet of paper that says, “This is how you do your job.” If you see something on this sheet of paper as you’re doing the job and you think you can make a better have at it.
I feel like the people that work for Toyota or companies that they’re building major tools that could take someone’s life like a car. Toyota gives its employees the right to stop the assembly line if they see a problem and fix it. They don’t have to get a supervisor or a leader to come to talk to and negotiate whether or not this needs to happen. They’re building cars that could kill people. In business, you’re providing a service or a product, it’s not going to kill somebody. Why can’t you give your people the autonomy to be innovative and make things great? To me, that’s love.
The stereotype is that process people, I would put engineers and scientists in that category that love concept is foreign to them. In my experience, it’s not true because they may not think of it. Sometimes there’s a little bit of language translation that has to happen, but there’s a great deal of love for the process, for the technology, for the impact that we’re having. When you apply that internally to the dynamics of culture, giving something as simple, “What does love look like in business?” As you know, my work is all about making that translation a clear process with the ability and the autonomy to change it, to make it better. That’s one way of saying, “I love you,” particularly to a process-oriented person. Nothing makes a process person crazier than a shitty process.
The other thing is people don’t understand that this is how I’ve rephrased it, bad processes are what I call revenue thieves. You can see that you’re not making revenue through a sales pipeline. That’s obvious, but you can’t see that you’re wasting resources and you’re leaving money on the table because you have a process that’s all cockeyed. That’s the silent thief, taking your profits. You’re wondering where your profits are going because you’d be able to sell ten more of these things if people weren’t doing them in ten different cockeyed ways.
I worked up about this thief processed person.
I also love being in process. I love telling people I’m a Six Sigma Black Belt because they go, “What’s that?” They think I’m in martial arts like, “She’s a badass in martial arts.” I’m like, “No. In process.”
For people who not familiar with the terminology, Six Sigma Black Belt, what’s the layman’s interpretation?
Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology that eliminates waste and variation out of the process. You can start with a white belt which gives you the basic understanding of it up to a master black belt, which I decided I’m going to get my master black belt so that I can teach and create new black belts in companies and then go away.
The other part of your life that you’re focusing on in addition to doing your great training and consulting work around the process, and I’m imagining being in the corporate classroom to do a process improvement thing with you as the facilitator, I’d sign up for that and what I am as far as process goes. That sounds like fun. There’s this whole other endeavor that you’re on which is about bringing more love into the world that you’re doing through your social media and in other ways. Talk a little bit about that.
It wasn’t my intention. This was my calling because I was led to it. When George Floyd was murdered, my cousin called me and said, “They’re rioting in my neighborhood.” I was like, “Why?” She’s like, “What do you mean why? Haven’t you been watching the news?” I was like, “No.” I found out about George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, all the same within 24 hours. I was heartbroken. For most of my 20s and 30s, I was very active in the black community and trying to make a change. I felt like I had let my community down because I had no idea what was happening. I thought, “I’ve got to do something. Glodean, what can you do?”
It occurred to me. “I could do that. That’s easy. I can show love. I can be loved. I can teach love. I’m going to do that.” I went on Facebook and I was like, “This is what happened and I’m annoyed.” I said my piece. I realized at some point in the post that I had said something about black lives matter. I had this thought, if somebody says, “All lives matter,” I’m going to have a fit. I went back, corrected it, and I want it to be explicit about why I said black lives matter, not the movement, but the people. One of my friends called me and said, “That post made me cry.” I was like, “Why?” She said, “I could feel not just your love of the black community, but your love for people. You wanted people to understand what you meant, but you said it in a loving way.” I was like, “I’m going to share love. That’s who I’m going to be from now on.” That was June 2, 2020, and on June 3, 2020, I started on my Love Movement. I was going around randomly telling people in my community, I live in Monterey, so I was walking by people, “I love you.” They’d be like, “What?”
I go to Starbucks and I want to pay for the ten cars behind me or I’d go to my favorite cafe. I walked in one day, handed the guy $100, and I said, “Buy everybody lunch.” He was like, “What?” I was like, “Yeah. Tell them you pay for it.” He was like, “You’re going to go broke doing this. You can’t do this every day. What impact are you making?” I was like, “It’s making me feel good. I’m sure it’s going to make somebody else feel even greater.” I was trying to figure out, “What are you trying to do here?” I was trying to work through it and then I was talking to Brian Stevens and I’d come up with the first part.
In order for this to work, people needed to love, learn, listen, and lead. I didn’t know how that was going to work together and he said, “Let’s figure it out.” I said, “Let love.” He said, “Lead us.” I was like, “That’s it.” I started on this Let Love Lead Us and every day I was posting messages about love, but that felt like a moment in time when all of this felt like a moment in time because people resist love, not just in business. People resist the word love because they think of romantic love. That’s the only love people know when there are three other loves. There’s the storge, which is your family, and then philia is friends.
It’s the Agape love people don’t understand. That’s the love of humanity. I was like, “You need to teach people what this means by leading by example.” I came up with The LOVE Method. I remember you are saying, “I’m not in the convincing business.” I was like, “I need to be in the convincing business because that’s the only way that people are going to understand why extreme leadership is important, why love and business are important. Why process is important and letting your people do that.” They need to understand why love is important. I was like, “I’ve already got the framework. I’ve got to learn, to listen, to lead.” What if I changed the word that forward letter dastardly word into four words? It was like, “The L’s are interchangeable, listen, learn, and lead open-mindedly with vulnerability and empathy.” I was like, “I’m going to building a program.”Bad processes are revenue thieves. Click To Tweet
There’s a process in there somewhere.
It is a process. I incorporated Extreme Leadership, the training, into it because I felt like, “How can I teach people extreme leadership if they don’t understand the first part?” If you don’t understand how to cultivate love, because your brain is stuck on the fact that you’re going to be eliciting a sexual harassment lawsuit, then you can’t do the rest of the stuff. If you’ve learned that maybe love is as simple to listen open-mindedly, meaning that you’re hearing what your employees are saying without judgment or trying to make them wrong, open to new ideas, you’re willing to be vulnerable, which is to say, “I don’t know.” It’s that simple and shows empathy because I have decided that vulnerability and empathy are best friends.
They work together because of vulnerability even though the definition makes it this scary thing that people want to avoid because it could put you in harm’s way, but what if you think about it this simply, being vulnerable means that you’re willing to share your thoughts, feelings and beliefs, without fear and empathy allows the other person to receive your vulnerability, do you see how they work together? Then it’s not scary. Granted, I have been vulnerable my whole life. I don’t have a problem saying, “I don’t know something. I made a mistake. Sorry, I did break that,” because I used to get in trouble when I lied to my mother.
The other thing that it says to me is vulnerability is the way I am willing to be with you. Empathy is the way I’m going to respond to you and understand you, which allows you to be vulnerable. The more empathy I have for you, the more you’re going to be willing to tell me your thoughts, feelings and beliefs. It’s a beautiful virtuous cycle.
That’s why they should be best friends. They should travel together. One should not be vulnerable without empathy close by.
Otherwise, you’re saying, “Let me tell you all about me and my deepest, darkest moments,” but I don’t give a shit about you, or I will tell you, “It’s all about me. I’m vulnerable. Look at me, how great I am in my vulnerability.”
It doesn’t work. That’s the love part of it because also the sooner we get that is not about us, that it’s about the other person, the better. It took me a long time to get here, but now I’m here.
It’s a very powerful place because that combination of love, empathy, compassion, vulnerability, all of those personal characteristics combined with the process work, the analytic. It’s a very powerful combination because that’s the way we’re wired as human beings. We’re not purely emotional. We’re not purely analytical. We’ve got elements of both. In business, there’s that old saying which is a total crock, “It’s not personal. It’s business. You’re fired.” If I get fired and I go home and I say, “Honey, I got fired, but it’s nothing personal.” I can say, “I understand why and I understand what happened. It feels personally terrible, but I get it.” That’s the way we always are. There is the part of us that wants to understand and pick it apart. There is a part of us that just responds. By using a process to say to people through that process, “I love you. I care for you. I value you as part of this team,” is a powerful combination.
I’ve seen it work. It used to be painful when the leaders go rogue on you because you’re trying to help them. I feel like if you’ve got a C in your title, you should be at the strategic level, driving the company toward greater profits so that your people can do their technical stuff. It always hurts when I feel like the leaders go rogue, but then I have to remember the employees though. That’s what you’re here for, because at some point, as experience has proved, they go, “This is my process. I’m going to help my leader understand that this is my process.” They hold the leaders accountable. It’s a beautiful thing because then the leaders have to come around because it’s not me by myself going, “You should behave better.” It’s the team going, “We got this.”
We’ve been saying this for decades, the people doing the work are the ones you need to tap into because they know what works and what doesn’t work. Intellectually, we get it but then it all becomes personal. That’s the point of this whole thing. You’re doing amazing work, Glodean, and I’ve got to say because it’s part of our tradition, you and me, in our relationship, I can’t think of your name without singing a song. I didn’t want to let this interview go by without it.
I would have felt someway if you didn’t.
One last thing before we bring this in for a landing, going all the way back to your Master of Fine Arts in Writing, that part of you is also expressing itself in your novel. Say a few words about that.
This is a total labor of love, and it’s called Salmon Croquettes because that was a time-honored traditional meal in my family. When my mom made salmon croquettes, it makes me happy to think about that. The story is about a young black girl, who’s twelve, struggling with her sexuality because when I was in undergrad at Mills, there were a lot of girls that were struggling with their sexuality. This was at the time when AIDS was not as popular, but in the black community, a lot of deaths were happening, especially in the South, where wives were getting AIDS from their husbands. It made me start thinking like how many people are not being true to themselves? Black people are not being true to themselves because of the stigma of homosexuality.
I’ve never struggled with anything, but my weight in my life. I wanted to understand how that could feel for someone in their early twenties or even younger. I know that the stereotype around homosexuality was that you were traumatized and that’s how come you chose to be that way. I wrote Zayla’s story as someone who was born, feeling different in her skin. The story takes you on her journey. She lives in Watts because I used to live in Watts when I was in high school. It was a strong Black community where people looked out for each other. That was the community I wanted to recreate and then the Watts riots happened because I feel like that history was mistold as if black people were the hottest day of the summer. Black people went crazy. That’s not what happened. I wanted to set the record straight in my novel.
When is it publishing?
March 24, 2021.
You never know when somebody is reading this. It could already be in New York Times Best Seller by the time. I have not read it yet, but I can’t wait because your voice is so unique in everything that you do. Glodean walks into a room and you notice. There’s a shift in the force. It’s like electricity in the air. It’s like, “Glodean must be here.” I’m imagining the power of your voice in a fictional format as well. It’s very cool. Glodean, thanks so much for spending this time with us. I learned a lot. I’m sure everybody did. For people that want to stay in touch with you, what’s the best way?
Thank you, Glodean. Thanks for tuning in until next time. Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do.