Love as a Humanizing Initiative

EPISODE 22

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This week, we're kicking off an exciting collaborative series with The Humanizing Initiative. Their goal is to humanize leaders and organizations in order to cultivate humanistic leadership. In our first episode of this series, we meet the four co-founders and really dive into why The Humanizing Initiative exists.

 

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Feel the love! We aren't experts - we're practitioners. With a passion that's a mix of equal parts strategy and love, we explore the human (and fun) side of work and business every week together.

JeffProfile

Jeff Ma
Director

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MohProfile

Mohammad Anwar
President

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Shaista Khilji - square

Dr. Shaista Khilji
Founder of  Humanizing Initiative

Jason Smith - square

Jason Smith
Co-Founder of Humanizing Initiative

Mia Amato Caliendo - square

Mia Amato Caliendo
Co-Founder of Humanizing Initiative

Zoe King - square

Zoe King
Co-Founder of Humanizing Initiative

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Jeff Ma
Hello and welcome to Love as a Business Strategy, a podcast that brings humanity to the workplace. We're here to talk about business. But we want to tackle topics that most business leaders shy away from. We believe that humanity and love should be at the center of every successful business. I'm your host, Jeff Ma, I'm a director at Softway, a company that helps businesses connect with their people to build resilience through culture-building products, leadership development, and technology. And today, I'm joined by President and CEO of Softway, Mohammad Anwar. Hey, Moh.

Mohammad Anwar
Hey, Hey, everyone.

Jeff Ma
So Moh, I'm really excited about today we're going to be trying something new. In fact, we're doing two new things today, for the first time ever. For starters, this is going to be the first in a series that we're calling Love as a Humanizing Initiative and we plan to have more episodes down the line that follow this path. And the second new thing we're doing is we're also recording an episode with four guests at once. So there's gonna be six people on this podcast. You think that's too many, Moh?

Mohammad Anwar
I don't think so.

Jeff Ma
We're about to find out. So without further ado, although these are individually amazing and spectacular human beings, I will first introduce them as a group. Collectively, they are the four co-founders of The Humanizing Initiative, Dr. Shaista Khilji, Jason Smith, Mia Amato Caliendo, and Zoe King. And we are going to meet each one of them immediately here. But before we do, there's a bit of a a tradition, I guess we have of icebreaking. We'll use that to our advantage here. And so a little bit on the spot, but I'll keep it simple for you guys. And I'll start with Dr. Shaista Khilji here. What we're gonna keep it simple. Let's do a quick introduction, and then the question, I'll have the answer is, what is the first thing you would want to do whenever the pandemic is over?

Shaista Khilji
Wow, thank you to get for giving us this opportunity. So I'm Shaista Khilji, I'm the founder of The Humanizing Initiative. I'm also an academic at George Washington University, and also the director of the organization leadership and learning program there. When this pandemic is over, I would love to travel, I haven't traveled to a single place this entire year. And my son and myself, we've been planning, it has to be somewhere special. So that's what I'm looking forward to doing.

Jeff Ma
Great answer. Awesome. I'll move on to Jason. So Jason, I'm actually going to keep it simple. And we'll keep the same question. So let's go with just a brief introduction. And what's the first thing you want to do when the pandemic is over?

Jason Smith
Yeah. So my name is Jason Smith. And I am a leadership development manager and also a leadership coach, and part of The Humanizing Initiatve, and the thing I'd like to do, I would absolutely love to travel. And I think more simply and closer to home, I want to go sit at a bar with my wife, have lunch and a beer and just not worry about being too close to anybody or anything else.

Jeff Ma
It's the simple things in life. Awesome. All right, moving on to Mia, same setup. Quick introduction, what's the first thing you do after pandemic?

Mia Amata Caliendo
Yeah, I'm Mia. I'm from San Martin, but live in Miami, and I'm a project manager in tech. And I'm also a co-founder. And I'd have to say, Dr. Khilji and Jason definitely are on the same page. Traveling for sure. But I think what's been interesting is you really get to think specifically and intentionally about where you're going to go and what you're going to do. So I feel like the itinerary has gone. It's gotten really detailed, but I'd love to get to a few different countries as soon as the pandemic is over.

Jeff Ma
All right, well, I'm afraid to ask Zoe, but a quick introduction and what's the first non-travel thing you'd like to do when the pandemic is over?

Zoe King
Definitely. My name is Zoe, I am a recruiter, I work in the talent acquisition space. I'm also a graduate of the OLL program, where I worked with Dr. Khilji. And non-travel related but maybe I'll travel there. I'm a runner. So I'd love to do some sort of a race in person, not a virtual race. So never thought I would say I want to do a half marathon but I think that's gonna be that's gonna be on my list.

Jeff Ma
Awesome. Well, all four of you. Thank you so much for being here and welcome to the show. I'm super We're excited to kind of dive into this series that we've decided to do, and and give a shot at it's, it's really exciting, but I want to leave Mohammad out. Mohammad, what's the first thing you're gonna do when this pandemic is over?

Mohammad Anwar
I did not think about it. But I think I'm going to go visit India. I make a lot of trips to India to visit our team. And this is the first time I've stayed, you know, away from India for this long and away from our team members. So I would love to make a first trip would be to India and meet our team down there.

Jeff Ma
Awesome. So let's kick it off. We're doing a series called Love as a Humanizing Initiative. So clearly a play on both of our kind of our fortes here put together in one in one kind of series. So start us off here, and forgive me, I'm gonna address all of you at the same time, you can all just start yelling your answers at the same time we'll fix it in editing. Right? Kidding, please don't do that. What is The Humanizing Initiative? Simple question, right? See, there's the silence.

Shaista Khilji
Okay, so I'll go. So our vision is that we seek to humanize leaders and organizations to cultivate humanistic leadership. And I think there's a background behind that each one of us probably has our own story to tell in terms of what brought us here, and what brought us together to launch this initiative. So I'll stop here and let others also sort of describe it in in the way they see it.

Jason Smith
Yeah, I'll go. And you know, I think one of the things that that I would think is really core to The Humanizing Initiative, for me, is really bringing the focus back on people, and not only people, but people and their well-being and their, the things that are really meaningful to them. And not trying to put too many filters in between that, right, like, just like well-being in and of itself. That's what The Humanizing Initiative is to me.

Jeff Ma
Thanks.

Mohammad Anwar
Got it.

Zoe King
Jason, just what you mentioned about, you know, focusing on people, I think, you know, we've seen what happens when organizations solely focus on profit, and solely focus on stakeholders. But I think if we can reimagine what organizations look like and really invest in people as a resource, I think that organizational effectiveness, I think that profitability just comes as a happy byproduct. So I think, really bringing humans to the center of an organization's mission and focus is really central to that company or that organization success.

Mohammad Anwar
Awesome.

Mia Amata Caliendo
I think what really strikes me about humanizing The Humanizing Initiative and what started with a humanistic leadership course, which I'm sure we'll talk about in more detail, is there's a lot of information out there. There's a lot of leadership theories out there, leadership development out there. And as a as a in practice, but also as a student, it was one of the most capturing theories that I could see actually truly addressing some of the concerns that I've observed in our, in our globalized world, because we are all interconnected. And I think that being a part of something that sort of refocuses what's most important was was really spectacular and, and more like a calling. So the initiative is really where we come together and really try to leave the world better than we found it.

Mohammad Anwar
If you don't mind explaining, how did you guys meet each other? And how did you guys come up with the idea of starting The Humanizing Initiative? If you guys don't mind sharing.

Mia Amata Caliendo
I can go first if that's okay.

Mohammad Anwar
Yeah, yeah, please.

Shaista Khilji
So, um, how did we come together? I think that's, that's such a good question. But before we talk about how did we come together, I want to talk a little bit about my personal perspective with with respect to leadership, because that actually helps explain how we came together. So, you know, as I said before, I'm an academic I work at GW and, you know, I began my career as a global scholar. I've been interested in cross-cultural issues. And of course, that research continued to evolve over a period of time. And for the past decade or so, I've been focused on you know, the slights spread dissatisfaction with contemporary leaders globally, particularly when we consider the corporate culture and leader development, which has been mostly fueled by financial scandals that have highlighted ego and greed amongst corporate and political leaders. Number two, the inherent assumption that we make as a society, there are two assumptions. In my perspective, number one, that leaders are miracle workers, right? Who have absolute power. And we know that this is no longer true, as there has been a shift in this power dynamic or balance of power between leaders and followers, which has made followe-leader dissent much more common within organizations. Number two, we have this tendency to romanticize leaders, right? Where a leader is considered to be this great man who can who knows it all and can do it all. So by through these assumptions, we've reinforced a universal universalistic view of leaders. Number three, you know, in my research, and I think many other leadership scholars and leadership practitioners have come to a realization that human experience is really critical to our understanding of organizations and leaders, as well as leadership. In unfortunately, in search for parsimony, or simple prescriptive solutions, we have ignored the human experience, because it's so complex, it's so multi-dimensional, and it's so messy, and it continues to evolve. So as you know, as I mentioned earlier, that I lead a master's program in organizational leadership learning at GW and through my research I was becoming aware of and focusing on these three aspects. And these, my research was feeding back into the leadership development program, I went on sabbatical, I focused on these issues quite a bit, I came back and developed two courses. One was humanistic leadership. I was introduced to this notion of humanistic leadership as being the savior if I could use that word, to develop leaders who care about the well-being and dignity of individuals around them, leaders who use empathy, compassion, leaders who are responsible. So I, you know, developed that course. And the other course I developed was Diversity, Equity and Inclusion become very much becoming very much aware of inequalities at workplace and how we need to become much more inclusive. So I have offered those classes at GW and Mia, Zoe, and Jason took my classes. And I was, you know, the more I taught those classes, the more inspired I became by these ideas, I was engaged in research. So last year in December 2019, I was working on a paper, which was focused on humanizing leadership education, so talking about some of the same issues that I've mentioned. And I came up with this idea that, you know, I really do want to change the world, for the better. And I think we need to think about humanizing leaders, and we need to think about humanizing organizations. So I reached out to Mia, Zoe, and Jason earlier this year, and I said, you know, hey, I'm interested in doing that, wanna join? And based on their interest and the work that I had done with them, subsequent to them taking those classes. And that's how, you know, we launched the initiative. And, yeah, it's been an exciting journey.

Mohammad Anwar
Awesome. So if I don't, if you don't mind, I'll start with Zoe. So Zoe, when you were called on by Dr. Khilji to join you to join her in this initiative, what was going through your mind and what inspired you to move forward with this decision?

Zoe King
Yeah, absolutely. I think that this group here is very much like-minded in the sense of how can we be disruptors as it relates to the way that we do our work, the way that we show up to our work, and the way that we approach leadership and inclusion and you know, all of those kind of aspects of what it means to be a part of an organization. And that's really what drew me in. It's this kind of idea of an alternate way of doing work. And I think especially in the climate that we're in and what we've seen throughout this year, we've kind of seen that there is consequences to I think the way that we especially in this culture approach work with you know, these 40-plus-hour work weeks. With this, again, focus on profit versus people and I think that especially with the pandemic, there has been such a light shone on, you know, bringing your full self to work. A lot of us are in our home. And we are, you know, our work is literally at home for many of us, so I think, thinking through how we can do things differently so that we can feel more energized showing up to our work so we can feel more invested showing up to our work. And I think having that focus leaders, I think, would really be surprised to see the returns. And, you know, not approaching it from that business perspective, knowing that those returns will come inevitably, but really from that human-centered focus of, and Jason wrote a great piece on this, you know, the workplace as a place of transformation and inspiration. So I think really having that, you know, disruptive mindset is something that really kind of brought us all together.

Jeff Ma
Nice. Mia, what is what does this work mean to you personally?

Mia Amata Caliendo
It's kind of like a life dream fulfilled. Not to sound too cheesy. But...

Jeff Ma
Too late.

Mia Amata Caliendo
And I mean that wholeheartedly. With that, Dr. Khilji is certainly one of my most favorite professors I've ever had. And it was always because she, she asked the most thought-provoking questions. And it wasn't that she ever shied away from sharing her own opinions. But she really used question thinking in a way that drew me in. And so I wanted to take all of her classes, but particularly the, the humanistic leadership course was fantastic, because it was this new space that sort of answered so many things that I felt were unanswered and other leadership theories. So in my in a prior role that I had, servant leadership was a very big focus. You know, we use situational leadership, we know transformational leadership. So there were all these sort of themed theories that were used in my workplace that I found a lot of value in. But there were always just things that I felt were unanswered or unaddressed. And a lot of that was answered in this course. And in subsequent classes I took with Dr. Khilji, specifically an independent study where I focused on I, I was really digging into why inclusion and diversity programs failed. That's why I went back to school, I left my job and went back to school because that's what I wanted to do. And really working through a very ambiguous space with Dr. Khilji and having her be a soundboard but not too influential, I thought was really fantastic. And how someone can be a part of not shaping the mind, but allowing someone to explore something that maybe they wouldn't have gotten to. And so when she sent an email saying, I have this idea, I'm thinking about doing this. I was I was honored that I got to be part of something that she was working on, because I thought she was brilliant.

Shaista Khilji
Oh, thank you, Mia. You made my day. You made my whole year.

Jeff Ma
Well, Jason, what what excites you the most about the work that you guys are doing or plan on doing?

Jason Smith
I also think Dr. Khilji is brilliant. Just if we're if we're we're making sure that we're saying that.

Jeff Ma
I mean, I think I think the same as well. I also think you're great.

Shaista Khilji
I did not pay any one of you to say that. Let it be on record.

Jason Smith
So the most exciting part of the of the work that we're doing. And you know, I think that, to me, the most exciting part of the work that we're doing is, is really that it's stripped down leadership to what I think is its bare component, which is really focusing on on, as I said before, human human well-being You know, we kind of like put a lot of different layers in between that and characterize it in different ways. But when it comes down to it, that's what it's all about. And it's been that way, you know, since we were probably hunter gatherers, like it was about, you know, the well-being of the people in the small unit that was that was that was together, that's what it's still about, but we've lost focus on that. And so what I like about this, and what is really kind of bringing that back into the workplace. And the other exciting thing, I think about this, as well, it's something that Zoe touched on earlier. And that's it like this isn't just like a pie in the sky idea like this actually works. Like there's a lot of good data out there that's starting to emerge that like when you focus on people, when you focus on their well-being like the results that you want follow and they're actually easier to get and more sustainable over time. So like, I think there's a real advantage to be had here and it's just about making that mindset shift.

Jeff Ma
Awesome. Could good one of you give maybe the elevator pitch of what The Humanizing Initiative does?

Mia Amata Caliendo
So what The Humanizing Initiative does for me, is centralizes humans within the organization. It forces or forced maybe is not a good word, but it influences us to think about human well-being, dignity and respect, first and foremost. What a Humanizing Initiative does is help leaders become more responsible. And think beyond profits and shareholder perspective, but adopt a much broader stakeholder perspective. So thinking about the community you serve, thinking about the community you're in, or you're part of looking at your context, looking at the people within your organizations, followers, and leaders. And also thinking about the world at large, which personally to me is very important. As I said, earlier, I'm a global scholar. Oftentimes, in my classes I talk about when I say the we, I really mean that this big planet, all of us on this planet Earth. So the idea of responsibility, the idea of learning, the idea of human experience, the idea of well being, dignity, respect, is very important to me, as I think about The Humanizing Initiative, and making sure that we develop leaders who understand these perspectives, and also making sure that we develop cultures and structures within organizations that facilitate the development of such leaders and such an environment.

Jeff Ma
Awesome. Moh, I recall our first meeting with The Humanizing Initiative. I refer to it simply as love at first sight. But could you could you break down for us a little bit more specifically how this relationship between Softway and The Humanizing Initiative formed and kind of where we're at today?

Mohammad Anwar
Sure. So as you know, Jeff, we've been in this business of providing services. And as we went through our journey, over the last 17 years, we've had to find a way to humanize our own leadership and our own business so that we can bring better outcomes, not only for the people who work at Softway, but for the customers we serve, and for the business objectives that we were doing the work for. And we obviously had this inclination that the right way to go out and improve our productivity and bring our full selves to work was to incorporate love into our culture. And to be honest, whenever I would try to speak about the culture of love inside of a workplace, many of the business counterparts or people in the corporate world looked at me strangely. And they thought that I was crazy, or HR people maybe got a little careful of doing work with us. And I, I was clearly trying to look for like-minded people and organizations that believed in that philosophy. And, you know, for us, and for me personally, it's, it's been a journey where I'm trying to practice the culture of love and servant leadership, and humanizing leadership inside of our own walls and help with our customers. But one thing that for me was really needed was to be able to back it up with research and the academic side, and I obviously am not, you know, in the academics field, and to be able to convince our business, corporate world around this philosophy, I was searching for white papers or information out there that could back up this approach. And that's how I met. Dr. Khilji is because of that very reason in finding academics who believed in this approach. I encountered Dr. Khilji over LinkedIn and we began to speak and we're like, oh, my gosh, this is this is exactly what I've been looking for is somebody who can bring the science and the academic research and that side to the equation. And I thought it was a it was it was a fortunate incident of us encountering and we we just interacted over LinkedIn. And here we are. We've been talking about this and I'm really excited to have you all on the podcast and try to speak about it more and spread more awareness to, you know, humanizing leadership, and which you know, results in a culture of love.

Jeff Ma
So love at first sight, basically,

Mohammad Anwar
Yes.

Jeff Ma
Like I said. I guess I'll pick on Mia a little just because I'm trying to spread the love around here. I'm curious when it comes to like, we call it Love as a Business Strategy. And we have, I mean, as we've discussed, like, as we've had conversations away from from this podcast, we've just been talking about a lot of the same things with different terms and things like that. I'm curious, what you see, when we say when you hear love in the workplace? What's The Humanizing Initiative kind of take on that? Why does that fit in your philosophy and your model? And what's your angle on it?

Mia Amata Caliendo
I think about sort of the four drives that humans have, and things that come up in humanistic leadership literature. And there's a lot of organizations that really focus on sort of the two animalistic drives. And I say animalistic, because they're not just unique to humans, but they're unique, all animals have them. So the drive to defend, and the drive to acquire. And I think a lot of organizations satisfy those two things. And humanistic leadership argues that there are two other drives that humans have. And that's the drive to bond and the drive to comprehend. And I think that's where love and learning come in, specifically around bonding, this need to be connected, we are social beings. And I think that is clear more now than it ever has been being in a place of having to be very siloed from social activities. So I think that that sort of proves that we need to have this connection. And when people have their, you know, as Mohammad was saying, like his, his counterparts that piqued a little bit when he said, love, I think that, you know, there's this, this notion that love in the workplace is an appropriate because it's seen as a romantic love. But there's very different forms of love that exist. And if we were to really lean into it, I certainly think that it could shift cultures in a workplace in communities. So I think it's certainly a part of the, of the model.

Shaista Khilji
So well said, Mia, I think our drive to bond is so critical in the workplace. And when we think about humanizing, obviously, drive to bond, includes love as a component, I would also sort of think about compassion, love in the form of compassion as well. And compassion is when you notice the pain and suffering around you and how others are feeling. You interpret that suffering and pain as worthy of your attention. And then you feel concern, and then you act on that pain. So I think love in terms of compassion, personally, for me is very important as you think about humanizing leaders and humanizing organizations. And I think that's where my big global sort of understanding comes into. Comes comes into full circle, because, you know, when you look at the world around you, and what's the suffering out there, what's the pain out there? What are the inequalities? Are they worthy of our attention? That's first and foremost. And then how do we how do we act? Or enact? How do we enact in ways that we are able to alleviate that suffering and pain? For me? I mean, when I think about love at workplace, that's what I think about compassion.

Jeff Ma
Awesome. Jason, I guess my question for you would be like, and a lot of my questions gonna be this way because I love finding the overlaps and the compare and contrast of our two initiatives. What for you when it comes to humanizing, and love, are these two, how are these two the same and how are they different, in your mind?

Jason Smith
Yeah, I think that that's a great question. And it's actually my brain was already going there listening to Dr. Khilji and Mia, and I feel like you know, if we take love out of the workplace and we really are preventing people from bringing them their full selves to work, you know, and really being in a place where they can feel like they can have you know, deep relationships they can, you know, ask questions that might be hard for their boss to hear. And you know, that that I think they're in that way like you know, humanistic leadership and and love as a business strategy are very much overlapping. And I don't know, I don't know, in what ways are different, honestly. And I, when I think about the workplaces, Zoe mentioned some work I've done around, you know, the workplace is a place of transformation. You know, that's one of the reasons that I get excited about work. Like it's not about, you know, it's not about the results, it's not about the, you know, the rewards or accolades or anything like that, it's about the relationships that I've made. It is about the experiences I've had, that have made me hopefully a little bit better of a person. And it's about that potential for perpetual growth. And, you know, that's, that's, that's where I think that maybe, you know, when I, when I think about love, and some of those things, they they're to me, they're kind of higher order things that we don't oftentimes associate with work, but why not?

Jeff Ma
Awesome. And, Jason, I asked you about the first part of our names here, comparing love and humanization. Zoe, let me ask you about the other part. When you think about business, and leaders, and the initiative that you guys are trying to, I mean when we talk about The Humanizing Initiative, so much of that conversation is around leadership and its role in it as well, can you help me connect or compare and contrast those kind of things as well?

Zoe King
Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, we look to our leaders, I think, for that pulse, at the organization or at the company, and The Humanizing Initiative, we talk a lot about promoting human dignity and well-being. And I think that is the ultimate form of love. And I think, you know, when we talk about trust in the leader, you know, when we talk about teams, you know, we say high-performing teams or high-trust teams. So, in kind of maintaining and establishing that to a relationship with the leader, it has to be rooted in that trust. And I think one way of creating that trust is through that love of, you know, making sure that your your people are cared for, and that they feel energized to show up to the work as their full self, that they feel like they're being challenged, and that they are able to play to their strengths, that they feel like their workplace can accommodate other parts of their lives. So, you know, whether that be family obligations, or you know, other other things like that, I think it's so important, as a leader in gaining that trust, I think it's through love and through those things.

Jeff Ma
I love it. I guess it's almost for the group, but you know, I'm excited about... what's why's Mohammad laughing at me, I'm so confused...

Mohammad Anwar
You use the word love so many times, I was just, you know, keeping track, but it's cool. I like it.

Jeff Ma
Are you like keeping little hash marks?

Mohammad Anwar
I love it.

Jeff Ma
He's like tallying. It's in the name of our podcast, Mohammad. Alright, so one of the things I'm super excited about this, this concept of the series that we're about to embark on here. And I think we decided on a series because as we started talking to each other, we were like, this is not gonna fit in one episode. And so I do want to kind of tease at that, though, and this is can be for anyone. What, what is the problem we're trying to solve? What are we trying, as we come together here, what's the problem statement?

Mia Amata Caliendo
Such a good question. Right? That's gonna take a century to resolve, right? So, I'm a big picture person. Right? I think if you haven't got that now, I think you should get it now. If you haven't got it yet. Until now, you should get it now. So, you know, the problem statement for me is that you know, we live in societies or within work within organizations that are so predominantly economistic in nature. And, you know, many scholars have argued, and I could name a few, Pierson and Nelson for example, they argued that contemporary organizations are founded on immoral economistic principles, whereby profit maximization is the most important indicator. So, consequently, it has fostered a culture of rationality in decision making, that favors rationality over responsibility and wisdom and search for parsimony over human complexity, as I said earlier, self interest over collective well-being, so consequently, we have leadership development approaches that focus so much upon skill development, competency development, and they over rely on narrow set of assumptions and focus on developing leaders that have just the right type of skills. And it's often debated, what are those just the right type of skills? Right. And actually, there was a research that was done that found out that they're more, more than 1000 different types of just the right type of skills, right? So think about in terms of developing leaders, right, so how do we sort of take those more than 1000 skills and help one individual or group of individuals develop them, right? So, you know, I make a case for humanistic leadership by emphasizing that we need to adopt a different approach that redefines human progress beyond those narrow sets of assumptions that we have, and going beyond this, you know, machine-like efficiency that we have incorporated within our corporate culture. And, you know, I'll go back to the book by Julie Nelson, in economics for humans, where she refers to economy not being the machine, but economy being the beating heart. And I take it to heart, I take that metaphor to the heart, to heart. And for me, that metaphor is so important. So in coming back to the problem statement, I think the problem I see in the world is that we're so focused on very narrow sets of assumptions about what makes organizations successful, how to develop leaders. And what Humanizing Initiative does for me, is it creates an awareness that there is another way out there. We have used this way for more than a century. And, yes, you know, we have created human progress. But in the, in the process of doing so we have focused so much on wealth creation, that we forgotten all about human progress in terms of well being dignity, respect, and responsibility as well, because we're responsible. We're responsible for the planet, since we live on that planet, right? How different communities survive, how different communities thrive on this planet, I think, each one of us as an individual, whether we live here, or we live in other parts of the world, we're responsible for that.

Jason Smith
You know, to build on what what you just said, Dr. Khilji, I think, that idea that, like we've done this before, like, it's so easy to get lost in, like, lost, and all of these systems that we've created that are like dominating right now. But I would like to, actually a systems thinking article that we read in the in GW's OLL program, and it was like, what we forget is that these systems were created by people sitting around a table, solving the problems that were in front of them. And so I feel like that's, that's sort of, you know, in my mind, when I think about, like, what's the problem statements? Like, how do we, how do we develop leaders that like whole human well-being at the center of what they do that? How about use love as part of their business strategy? You know, how do you develop leaders like it's more than just skills are there are mindsets and behaviors and attitudes, and I like to bring in adult development stage theory that says it like just like children, adults continue to progress through their lives through different stages in which they find different things meaningful. And I feel like, you know, what, what, what we the problem we're solving here is one of, for me, it's about figuring out how to create programs and interventions that help to build the leaders, we need to solve the problems that are before us today.

Jeff Ma
Awesome. Mia, same question or anything to add on to that problem statements or thoughts to add?

Mia Amata Caliendo
I think that there is a real sincere lack of trust that needs to be solved between the leader and the non-leaders, let's say if we were to categorize. And I also think there's this dangerous assumption that when you're at work, you are your professional you. And when you're at home, your your shoes-off self you, and that there's this separation. And I think that that's dangerous, because it's not realistic. It doesn't take into context, the complexity of the human that you are, and if you were to leave a part of you out, perhaps it influences your creativity at work, or your presence at work in a project. I think you also see it in in education. You see so many individuals going out and getting degrees like MBAs and where they've added in courses like business ethics, and perhaps that wasn't always a part of the curriculum. And so when you start digging into how leaders have gotten to where they are today, and this dramatic economistic paradigm, you can really backtrack and see where that comes from. And this notion of getting the most out of people when they're at work, like, these are sort of the things that create the separation between leader and non-leader and this distrust that, you know, Dr. Khilji was really going into earlier, and how to how do we really resolve that, because you can't have one without the other. They're the same thing on different ends of the spectrum. And so if we look at it differently, and look at it as being interconnected, and really seeing, okay, well, I can't really separate this, from that I actually need to embrace that they're connected and need to figure out how to work within that interconnectedness. And I think that trying to solve that means you have to balance all of those drives. And yeah, it's not easy. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. But I think if we refocus, and we really see that it benefits everybody to do that, we can figure it out.

Jeff Ma
Zoe, did we miss anything?

Zoe King
I love what Mia said about the shoes off, because what we were realizing is that we're now at work, we all have our shoes off.

Mia Amata Caliendo
Yes. Literally.

Zoe King
We don't know exactly that I have my shoes off. So you know, how are we, how can we kind of use this moment as an opportunity to start to break down those walls as it relates to who is my work self, who is my my home self? Because that performance that you put on when you show up to the office, it's not sustainable. And I think that that's what we kind of see is that, you know, with burnout, with you know, we we conceptualize these programs around inclusion and making people feel, you know, at home and bring your whole, your whole self to work. How can we really start to look at that from a systems perspective, from a process perspective? Of what if there didn't need to be that performance? What if you could really show up to work, metaphorically, with your shoes off?

Jeff Ma
Mohammad, I know you're about to speak. But let me let me prime you. I know, you're probably thinking the same thing I'm thinking because as they say, almost every single word they're saying we're just like, internally, like, yeah, like, just heads like about to fall off of our shoulders from the nodding like this hurts the neck. But Mohammad, more specifically, I'd love to hear from you about where that connects with our mission. And kind of like where that, you know, everything they're saying we've seen in who we work with. Let's talk a little I mean, we have stories like, can you share a little bit?

Mohammad Anwar
I mean, ultimately, being in the business world and consulting and working with different organizations, we have seen firsthand how when people are not at the center of their decision making and how their businesses or are run are not purpose-driven, with humanity at the center of everything that those organizations, while they may build profits for short term, they are not sustainable, they cannot survive for the long term. And, you know, that's becoming more and more apparent, especially now during this COVID economy and COVID crisis, where organizations that are not able to put their people first and take care of their workforces are not going to be resilient, are not going to be able to adapt and overcome these COVID crisis, whether you're looking from hospital systems to any vertical out there. We are being challenged in the business world and as leaders to try to do something different. And the difference is those organizations that are going to help focus on their people and put humanity into their workplace, specially during crisis, like these are the ones that are going to come out being resilient and successful and surviving. And some of the behemoth type organizations that were not willing to put people at as the focus, as you can see, are struggling and some of the biggest name brand companies are now struggling and are not able to cope up with this environment, COVID crisis, and a lot of them are declaring bankruptcy, and so forth. So I think the COVID crisis is really helping the cause. And I know it's not a good thing, considering everything that is happening because of it. But from a business world. I think it's actually giving us a platform to help leaders and business owners realize and recognize how important it is to have empathy to your workforce to your employees, because they're human at the end of the day. They have these needs and we have to have compassion during this COVID crisis. So one thing positive that I'm seeing is that, while it is a challenge, and has been a challenge, that these COVID crisis are actually giving organizations a reason to start focusing on people. And I see that as a positive sign, I see that as something that's going to help the cause that The Humanizing Initiative and the mission that you all have, and including our mission, which is to bring back humanity to the workplace, it's, it's almost seems like it's, it's the perfect storm, for us to be able to help with this situation and predicament that has existed for over a century.

Jeff Ma
You know, what it feels like, to me, I feel like, Mohammad, Softway, we've been on this crazy journey through time and space over the last few years, where we've tried to transform ourselves from this very, you know, profit centric, revenue centric kind of kind of structure, completely transforming into this world of resilience, and a culture of love, and all these different values and behaviors, the center of our leadership and things and we're still on that journey. But it feels like, you know, we're on, you know, we've landed on this planet, and it feels like we've been working on this planet, like alone for so long. And then we've now traveled to the dark, the other side of the planet. And we meet this group of people who've also been exploring this planet, and it's so refreshing to like, kind of be like, we don't speak the same language, we're aliens to each other. But yet, we both do math the same way or something like that, like we we're speaking the same core language. And we've seen the same things. And I'm so excited to, to continue this journey, because it just feels like it's been, I won't say lonely, because I think people get it when we share this message. But in terms of trying to really push the envelope and really move the needle for this type of stuff. We haven't met a lot of people who are kind of making that a mission statement. And so it's been really exciting to have these conversations and so exciting that we're just like, let's get on the podcast. Yeah, let's talk about it. Because I think there's just so much to further align on and these different perspectives are going to be so powerful in further bringing to light. Pretty much the thing that we are both, like saying the same exact things. Everything they did, they just said, it's just like, again, go back, listen to any, any of the other episodes. We're already like, all we're drinking that Kool Aid every day, heavily. And so I'm super, super pumped. I'm sorry, that was my soapbox about that. What are you guys looking forward to what as this series plays out? What are you guys hoping to get across to an audience or help help shed light on? Sorry, I addressed the whole group again. So I'll start. I'll start with with Shaista. And you guys keep calling her Dr. Khilji. She has given me permission to call her Shaista.

Jason Smith
She hasn't given me permission. I haven't received that permission.

Shaista Khilji
Jason, you never asked.

Jeff Ma
We'll start with you, Shaista. What are you looking forward to?

Shaista Khilji
Um, I think this idea of humanistic leadership, humanizing organization, humanity at a workplace, obviously, Jeff, as you said, and Mohammad, as you said, you know, there are so many commonalities, we speak the same language, and let's call that language, humanist language. What I'm looking forward to is telling the audience that there is another way out there. And that way, that way brings us prosperity too. That way is also going to lead to human progress. And that way is also going to lead us to inclusion. And that way is also going to lead us to profits, but it would in the process of doing so we need to focus more on the individual and more on the human, or humanity, as you said. And what I'm interested in telling the audience is that, you know, it's, it's not, it's not that hard. In one way. The message is very simple. And it's not a new message. And, you know, I don't think it's a new message, this message has been talked about for centuries by philosophers. It may be a new message in the business discipline. But, you know, I think this message about respect, human dignity, human well-being economists are also sort of addressing that from a non-quantitative perspective as well. So It's a simple message. And but it requires effort. And it requires commitment. So I'm really looking forward to the audience knowing that there's another way out there. The message is simple, but it requires effort and commitment. And I look forward to working with organizations and leaders to make sure that we end up humanizing the world, right? You're talking about humanizing the workplace, we talk about leaders and organizations, really, all of us, collectively, I think we are interested in humanizing the world. So I'm looking forward to seeing that happen.

Jeff Ma
Awesome. I'll pick on Zoe, then. Zoe, what about you?

Zoe King
I think really starting to dissect what are these truths that we just collectively have accepted as it relates to work and how we do our work? You know that you need to leave your humanity at the door, or you know that that work is merely a place to pick up a paycheck? How can we start to unlearn those truths? And I think through through that, we can kind of start to bring that humanity into the workplace, start to create a space where people do really feel like they can show up fully human. So how do we start to dissect and kind of start to unlearn those? You know, I think like Mohammad said, I think that leaders are interested in an alternate path, they think that this is kind of an inflection point. So how can we kind of do away with what we've done and move in a different direction?

Jeff Ma
Awesome. Jason, I'll go to you.

Jason Smith
You know, I think there's a couple of things here like one, one is that this is this is a pretty I mean, it's a time honored long, you know, held field here, you know, that goes back to philosophy and everything like that. And there's so much that we need to develop for what we're facing in our modern world, in our modern organizations. And so I think that like, one of the things that I'm excited about is learning a little bit more about your approaches. And, and I think, you know, getting this message out a little bit more, and learning maybe about other organizations that are interested in this as well, so that we can start to build a little bit more of a coalition around this. And that's where I think, you know, it's, you know, I think in my my friends here will remember me saying this, but like, you know, this, I look at the time that we're in right now. And it really is this in between time this this time, when, you know, the old world is sort of falling apart and the new world is yet to be kind of come into its own. And I think that humanistic leadership and love as a business strategy, paint a much better way forward that is much more in line with what the needs and people are with the needs of the world and the planet are. And I think this is a great first step and kind of developing that new world.

Jeff Ma
I love that. It's awesome. Mia?

Mia Amata Caliendo
I have so many thoughts, I wanted to break out in song and say a whole new world. As far as what I want the audience to know, there is a an entrepreneur who has a company that I love her name is Kalilah Wright, and her company is called Mess in a Bottle. And she posted this thing that makes me that I love and it says a big part of becoming an adult is unlearning a lot of stuff you were taught by people who didn't know what they were doing, either. And I think that that's so appropriate, because we're not facing the same challenges that we were facing five years ago, 10 years ago, 25 years ago. And so I think we have to look at things differently and look at them in a in a more holistic way. And I think that this is what the humanistic leadership concept, Humanistic Initiative does is it allows for you to look at things in a bigger, more interconnected way, which is where we are as a as a I don't want to even say as a society, because it's really as a globalized planet. And I think that if we were to to do that, what would we, what sort of challenges would we have if we were to really focus on the human and the individual and prioritize that? Like, what would rest look like? How would we have a discussion around rest? And like, how does that impact you bringing your full self to work? And I just think that if we were to look at things a little bit differently, we could elicit a lot of different results. And I don't mean necessarily economistic results, but those are to follow, and I don't think that they are, I don't think that they're mutually exclusive. And it feels like up until now they're so often described as being mutually exclusive, like you have to drive at this profit, which means you have to work 65 hours a week, which means you have to, you know, cut out all these other things that are important to you. And nobody on their deathbed looks back and says, man, I really wish I worked more. So if you want to really be a part of creating a, if you care about your people, if you're a leader in an organization, then wouldn't you want to create a space where, yeah, people do their best work. But that means you've also given them a space to be themselves a space to have time outside of work so that they're recharged. Everyone knows that when you come back from a vacation, how on it are you? You're like firing on all cylinders, you have the best ideas. I just think if we were to formalize that, which is what we would propose in The Humanizing Initiative. It could look really differently at work.

Jeff Ma
I love it. I love it. Moh, are you itching to talk there or are you just stretching?

Mohammad Anwar
No, I'm just nodding my head.

Jeff Ma
I'm gonna need like a heating pad for my neck after all this nodding. Listen, this is more than exciting for me. I have been really invigorated by the conversation we've had today. Again, almost everything you're saying is like this it's like I'm hearing it for the first time, I'm hearing something I've always been saying myself like in a different translated language and a beautiful new language. And it's, it's amazing. So I'm super, I'm super excited. I'm super excited to continue this series. I think the next time we get together, we'll take like a cross-section of this group, come back together and maybe dive deeper into some more specific things we can talk about. I think our next episode we want to focus on on really unpacking and uncovering the problem and why it exists in the world today. So we can start addressing it better, then we'll move from there into multiple series. So I'm so excited to continue talking to you guys. Shaista, Jason, Mia, Zoe, thank you so much for your time. I'm already looking forward to our next conversation. Mohammad, also thank you as always, for being with us, even though you have to be, and you know, with that, I want to close out this episode, but really, really, really excited about this, this this next step that we're going to be taking, and you know, for the audience. If you liked this episode, please go leave us a five-star review, subscribe, all those things, please. We'd love it. But more importantly tune in because we're going to continue this conversation and definitely dive deeper and deeper. And with that. Thank you all. See you next Tuesday. Have a good one.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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